Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raspberry Mocha Cookies

There are few things I enjoy more than raspberries and chocolate.  There, I said it.  Maybe when my husband brings me raspberries and chocolate.  When my favorite coffee shop brings out their raspberry mocha every February, I feel like its my birthday.  I need to stop talking about it now because I may start drooling on my keyboard, and that would be bad.  I don't think my husband will let me get a new one!

These were modified from a recipe from Taste of Home's Complete Guide to Baking

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, pureed
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup cappuccino chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Measure flour, baking soda, and salt in large bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Mix together raspberry puree and chocolate.  Add to sugar, egg and butter mixture.  Slowly add flour to mix. Mix in until combined.  Add cappuccino chips.

Drop by spoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

I'm linking to Sweet Tooth Friday and Sweets for a Saturday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

{virtual} coffee

Good morning.  Welcome, come on in and we'll sit and chat.  I'm going to have a caramel late this morning, using my frother of course!  That thing is still in my top 5 kitchen toys I've ever bought, and it was less that $20!   Oh, and have a piece of birthday cake, we have plenty and this one is delicious, its a marble cake with raspberry filling.

Please settle in and stay for a while, I'd love to sit and talk. 

 As I told you last week, one of my BFFs is in Europe, and while she's coming home later this week, I still miss her terribly!  I do love getting her emails, but its just not the same.  

We're finally enjoying spring!  I took off my jacket this afternoon and I wasn't freezing.  They say that by Thursday, we will have nice, warm temps.  I laughed this morning when the guys on the radio were joking about not knowing what the sun was, only in California.  Two weeks without sun and we all freak out.

I had a birthday party on Sunday for my 7 year old (I can not believe that he's 7) yesterday.  I had 12 children between 4 and 7 in my house for 2 hours!  It was a Ninja Party.  Imagine this: 10 boys, all 6 and 7 and all been cooped up for almost 2 weeks due to rain, and having a Ninja party.  It was a little boy's dream!  All considered, it went very well.  The boys had a ton of fun, and enjoyed being outside for a while too.  My little man has a ton of new loot to play with!

Speaking of my little man, he has been so sweet lately.  He knew that I was missing his auntie Trina and struggling with some other things lately.  He came up to me last night and gave me a huge hug and asked me how he could help.  I melted!  A few times.  Even though he's a big boy, I can't resist his hugs, those big blue eyes, and his sweet words!  He has such a good heart, and I am so proud to be his mommy!

Now, I'll sit back and listen to what's going on in your neck of the woods.  Has spring gotten there yet?  What helps you pick yourself up when you're feeling down?  Thank you for visiting, will you please take so cake home with you?!

For another cup, head to Lucky13 or Grey Umbrella.  Have a great week, let's make a date for next week! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ninja Party!

Mark my words, in a month, there will be ninja birthday stuff EVERYWHERE!  Last year, we had a robot party, and in March, there was no robot theme stuff anywhere, but a month later, it was everywhere!  I felt the same way this year.

Today, we had my son's 7th birthday party.  The theme was Ninjas.  The weather wasn't quite sunny, but they were able to get outside and play a little.

I didn't make the cake this year, but we picked it up from here, which is where my husband and I got our wedding cake.  They do a beautiful job every time!

We broke "boards" (I bought styrofoam sheets that my husband cut into rectangles) and we played Sensei Says (instead of Simon Says).

I made this banner

And I put their goodies in red and yellow chinese take-out containers from the party store.

Here's the birthday boy with the ninja from his birthday cake!

I can't believe he's another year older and that we have another birthday behind us!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BBQ Joes and Menu Plan Monday

I have another recipe from my new favorite cookbook.  This one is a keeper, but all of the ones we've tried from this book are new favorites in our house!  I think the cookbook is just a keeper.  Easy, low clean-up, fresh and fast.  

BBQ Joes
1 tbsp canola oil or butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced (or more if you're in my kitchen, I used 4)
1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 jar BBQ sauce (I always try to find one that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup)
Hamburger buns (I made these, our family’s favorite)
Heat oil in the pan.  When oil is heated, add onion and garlic.  Cook until softened.
Add ground meat to the pan and heat until cooked through.  Add BBQ sauce and continue to cook until sauce is heated all the way through.  
Serve on hamburger buns.   We had caesar salad with homemade dressing and homemade croutons a side dish.


waffle french toast
homemade donuts

turkey sandwiches

mini bagels
multi-grain chips

Sunday-  I think after a house filled with 5, 6, and 7 year olds, we're going out! (Today is my son's birthday party)
Monday- Fettucine Alfredo with broccoli and chicken (for the boys)
Tuesday- Vegetable Enchiladas
Wednesday-  Turkey and spinach sandwiches and zucchini bites (We had these at the Nordstrom cafe over the weekend and I want to duplicate them)
Thursday- leftovers
Friday- Bagel Dogs with sweet potato fries

I hope you have a wonderful week!  What's on your menu?

I'll be linking to:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cranberry Cinnamon Oat Scones

It has been raining constantly here!  I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment after work today, but I cancelled it and come home.  Traffic and this rain made me just want to be home.  I took  a nap after I watched Law and Order SVU from last night.  After my nap, I decided I needed to bake!  Isn't that what you do when its raining outside?
Cranberry Cinnamon Oat Scones
(adapted from Taste of Home's Complete Guide to Baking)

2 cups all-purpose flour (I use a mix of unbleached white and white whole wheat)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
for topping:
cinnamon and sugar to taste for topping
butter spray 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl, combine flower, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in shortening and combine until crumbly.  I used my kitchen aid, it worked great.

Add oats and milk and mix until it forms a ball.  Add in cinnamon chips and cranberries.

Take dough out of mixer and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out dough and cut to 3/4 inch thickness.  Cut with 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

When they come out of the oven, spray with butter spray and dip into sugar and cinnamon mix.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homework, Oh no, Oh, yes!

Homework is a bad word in our house.  He drops his pencil, he whines, he argues, I argue, it turns nasty.  I hate it. 

 As a teacher, I always thought, "Oh what a great way for parents and students to work together.  What a great way to review what we're doing in class."

As a parent, I think, "this is ridiculous, this is not how I want to spend afternoons with my son, he needs to play, we need to have fun together, he needs to have fun with friends"

The issue with the homework is, it should take him about 30 minutes at the most to do.  Instead, it takes about 2 hours because we argue the whole time.  Its some of the worst mommy moments, and I hate it.

So, starting next week, we are going back to stickers.  He is going to set a goal.  If he gets homework done in the 30 minutes I set the timer for, he gets a sticker.  If he gets up in the morning and gets dressed without arguing, sticker, and if he goes and gets ready for bed the first time I ask, another sticker.  We'll set a goal and he'll need to reach that goal for a special adventure with mom.  

I don't always like to use extrinsic motivators, but I do think they have their place when behaviors need changing.  I don't want to spend my time with my little man getting frustrated and upset.  I want to get the yucky stuff out of the way so we can do other things, like if this rain ever goes away, we can go for walks before bed!

I'll keep you posted.  We're going to set it up this weekend when he's back home at our house.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time for a Cup of Tea

Hi! Thanks for coming over for a coffee break.  I think I'll have a cup of cinnamon cookie tea with frothed milk.  What would you like?  Before you can even sit down, I have to share that my baby boy turns 7 today.  I might even have to whip out pictures so you can see him 7 years ago, and now.  Its so hard to believe how fast he's growing up!  Tonight, he has specifically asked for mommy's macaroni and cheese for dinner.  Then we are heading over to Cheesecake Factory for birthday dessert!

I'd also have to tell you that I'm emotionally spent right now.  Nothing major is going on, just a lot of little things and I'm exhausted.  I feel like I have a lot of things that need to be done NOW, and I feel like I'm drowning in it all.  Part of it could be the rain, part of it could be the fact that I'm going on week #2 that one of my BFFs has been in Europe for a week and there's still a week to go.  This is my friend who I text when I'm feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or just need to vent. I know I can make it another week, its just tough not having her around!  As for the things I need to get done, I'm taking it one day at time and one task at a time.  It will all get done, or if it doesn't, the world will not end!

I'm hoping to get some baking in this week so I can decompress and spend a little time relaxing.  I got some cinnamon chips and some cappuccino chips from King Arthur Flour a week and a half ago and I want to get creative and make some yummy treats for my family.

As we continue to to sip our tea, I'll ask how your week is going.  Is there anything weighing on you right now?  Do you have a friend who keeps you on track on those harder days?  Are you planning to do any baking this week?

For another cup, head to Lucky13 or Grey Umbrella.  Have a great week, let's make a date for next week!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ham and Cheese Pockets and Menu Plan

I thought I'd share one of my latest creations.  I made these last weekend, and they were delicious!  Such a great lunch for cold, rainy days.  I froze them and enjoyed a couple for breakfast this morning.  Yum!
Ham and Cheese Pockets

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water, warm (100-110F)
  • 1/2 buttermilk(100-110F)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups flour (I used a mix of whole wheat and unbleached flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a large bowl if you prefer to mix by hand, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. Add in bread flour and salt and mix well with a dough hook. Cut the softened butter into three or flour pieces and drop them into the dough, letting the mixer blend them in.
Knead (with a mixer or by hand) for about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.

6-8 slices deli ham sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 green onions, sliced 
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (you can use cream cheese too)
1/4 cup grated cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and sharp cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Using a cutter, cut into 3 inch diameter circles.  Drop 1tablespoon of the filling onto half the cut rounds, then fold over and seal the edges with your thumb.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until outside is browned and crisp.  


english muffins (homemade) with peanut butter or nutella

spinach salad

Sunday: balsamic marinated flank steak with tomato and chorizo salad, asparagus
Monday: BBQ turkey sandwiches with caesar salad
Tuesday: It's Little Man's 7th birthday.  He wants Mommy's Mac n Cheese
(gives me warm fuzzies that he could have anything he wants or go out, and he asks for this!)
Thursday:  leftovers or take-out
Friday: Homemade pizza with Beer Battered Pizza Dough

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kitchen Cupboard Cookies

On Tuesday, my god-daughter was over for the evening.  Between getting dinner on the table and supervising homework and shower for my little man, I wanted to make cookies as a treat for everyone. My first choice was to make these, but I didn't have everything I needed, so this is what I ended up with:

Kitchen Cupboard Cookies

3 eggs
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used creamy since that's what I had, but crunchy would be delicious!)
1 stick butter, at room temperature
6-8 girl scout thin mint cookies, broken into quarters
3/4 cup chocolate chips
4 cups old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup flour (I used a mix of white and whole wheat flour)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together eggs and sugars with mixer until smooth.  Add salt, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter, mix until combined.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Drop onto cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove to cooling rack.  Enjoy, but be careful, these are addictive!

I linked to Sweet Tooth Friday and Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time for Prayer

Many of us are feeling in shock and helpless from seeing all the destruction over in Japan.  Its hard to imagine what they are going through sifting through all the damage, loss and hurt.

My rector at church sent this prayer out to our parish this morning and I wanted to share.  The prayer brought tears to my eyes as I read it.  I hope this inspires you to pray for Japan and its people.

O God, our great protector and source of strength to meet any challenge. Watch over the people of Japan during this time of recovery, shock, and grief. Hold them as they experience extraordinary feelings of loss and hopelessness. As we learn more about the effects of the earthquake,  inspire us and others to surround them in prayer and love and to support them as generously as we can.  Bless Japan with courage, strength, and perseverance as they assess, recover the dead, feed the homeless, clear the destruction, and rebuild its communities. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

{virtual} coffee

Good Morning!
If we were meeting for coffee today, I'd ask you to come over to my house.  Let's sit on my comfy couch and talk for a while.  I think there's 1 or 2 homemade donutsleft, would you like one?  I'm still on my chai tea latte kick, and I'll even pull out my new kitchen gadget, a milk frother, so we can have foamy, frothy milk with our chai tea latte.

If we were sitting down this morning, I'd have to share that my aunt came to town for a visit over the weekend.  It was so nice to see her and spend time together.  We had a break in the rain and were able to enjoy some sun and fresh air.  We visited the local outdoor mall and ran into one of my students and his family.  It was fun to watch my little guy be able to play and run in the fresh air.  He seems to be on the mend, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Here's a picture of my dad and my aunt dancing together during our quick glimpse of sun on Saturday!

I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with my husband's work schedule for winter.  He's been able to be home a little more.  I snapped this picture the other night.  My boys were hanging out together, doing the nightly reading.

I'd also have to share that I'm buried under report cards right now.  They go home on Friday and I've made some progress, but I'm starting to feel the crunch!

The last thing I'd share is that I've been cooking and baking up a storm (partly procrastination and avoiding report cards!)  I got a new cookbook last week when I was at Williams-Sonoma.  I've made a couple recipes, and they were both a hit!  I'm looking forward to next week and trying another one.  The book is called One Pot and its worth checking out!

Before I rush back to report cards, I'd ask what you've been up to.  Any news, any special visitors to your home?  Thanks for stopping by!

For another cup, head to Lucky13 or Grey Umbrella.  Have a great week, let's make a date for next week!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Simple Pasta Primavera

This week, I made a simple pasta primavera for dinner.  This recipe comes from a cookbook I've had for years.  Its one of those well-loved ones I have in my cabinet.  I thought I'd share a yummy, easy recipe from it.

Pasta Primavera

1 lb fettuccine or linguine
3 medium carrots cut into 1/4 rounds
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms snapped off and cut into 1 inch slices
1 cup snap peas, stems and strings removed, if necessary

2 tbsp butter
2 tomatoes, medium dice
1 onion, sliced thin

grated parmesan

Start water to a boil, add a tbsp of salt to water.  While water is coming to a boil, prepare vegetables.

According to package directions, cook pasta.  When there are 5 minutes left in cooking time, add asparagus, carrots, and snap peas to pasta and water.  While pasta is boiling, melt butter in large skillet.  Add tomatoes and onions, saute until onions are soft.   Reserve 3/4 cup of boiling water from pasta, then drain pasta.

Return the pasta and vegetables to the cooking pot and add reserved water, pepper, and 1/4 cup parmesan.  Toss.  Serve with extra parmesan and pepper, if desired.


This Week's Menu:
homemade baked donuts
French Toast Waffles

caesar chicken wraps
ham and cheese pockets

homemade cheese crackers
celery and bell pepper sticks

Sunday:Won Ton Soup and Crab Rangoon
Monday: Baked Sausages with Herbed Beans from One Dish Cookbook
Tuesday: Corned Beef in the Crockpot ( I know St. Pat's Day in Thursday, but I wanted to make this for the family and my little guy is at dad's house Thursday)
Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo with broccoli
Thursday: Corned Beef Sandwiches with leftover corned beef and baked yukon gold fries
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Beer Battered Pizza

I'm linking up with Menu Plan Monday, Mouthwathering MondayTempt My Tummy Tuesday,  What's on the Menu WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, and This Week's Cooking.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New cookbook!

I went shopping with a friend last night and we ended up in Williams-Sonoma.  I'm not sure which is more dangerous, Williams-Sonoma or Ann Taylor Loft!

 On Monday this week, I made this dish and loved it.  The prep was easy, and it took 2 dishes to make the whole meal!  When we were in Williams-Sonoma, I asked if they had the One Pot cookbook that the recipe came from so I could look through  it.  Lately, when I look through cookbooks, I am not impressed.  I can find most of the recipes I see there on the internet.  This one was different!  I ended up purchasing it because I want to learn new ways to introduce different vegetables and creative ways to cook for my family.  I a so excited to pick a meal from it for next weeks' food plan!

Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: One Pot

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

{virtual} coffee

Good Morning!  Thank you for coming over for coffee again this week!  I'm having a Vanilla Ceylon Teal Latte, would you like one of those, or I can make you a pot of french press coffee if you'd like!  The cinnamon scones should be out of the oven in a few minutes (I cut corners this time and used a pre-mix, I don't do that often, but it sounded good at the store last week!)

If we were sitting down for coffee today, I'd have to tell you that my little guy is sick again.  I feel so bad.  He's been sick off an on for a month now.  Yesterday, he was a mess.  We had to go run a couple errands and he was whiney and crabby.  Then he fell asleep in the car.  When a 6 year old falls asleep in the car after a day of mostly doing nothing, you know he doesn't feel well.  When my husband got home from work at 8:30, I headed out to school to get sub plans ready for today.  Its dark and scary at school at night!  I'm hoping my little guy gets to sleep this morning and feels better soon, this breaks my heart.

If we were sitting down together, I'd mention that I'm back to running and working out.  I injured my leg back in November and its been a long haul of getting back to this point.  I feel like I'm back on a schedule and getting workouts in 3-4 times a week.  I'm hoping to bump it up to 4-5 times in the next two weeks.

On Sunday, my husband and I escaped for a much-needed date!  My son was at his dad's for the weekend, and my stepson doesn't want much to do with us anyway (unless we're feeding him).  We went down the street and had breakfast together, then went to see The King's Speech.  What a great movie!  I was on the edge of my seat, laughing one minute and crying the next.  So well done and beautiful!  I was touched.  I want to see it again and again!

I'd have to mention that report cards go home two weeks from Friday.  Report card time is always a stressful time.  It means extra hours at work to keep up on grading and planning.  It doesn't help that I'm home with my little man because it means I'm behind on assessments too.  OK, enough about work because I don't want to stress myself out!

I should get going and work on laundry and roust my stepson out of bed so he's not late to school. What is going on in your house?  Are you all staying healthy?  I hope so!  Have a wonderful week, and I'm looking forward to our next sit down for coffee!  For more {virtual} cups of coffee, head over to Lucky13.  For another cup of tea, you can go to Grey Umbrella.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sick Kiddo

I'm home today, catching up on laundry because my little guy is sick again.  He seems to have a decent energy level, but this nasty cough is lingering.  He's been home with his stepmom since Thursday last week.  We're watching Cars for the 100,000th time!  We'll head to the doctor's in about an hour.

I am pretty sure he doesn't feel well because he is quicker than usual to over-react and get mad or upset.  I feel bad for him.  He's been cooped up in the house for 5 days in a row.  He still doesn't feel well, and I won't let him use the big scissors to cut out a box.  Sorry, I don't want to have to get stitches on top of going to a doctor visit today.

I'm hoping to get some report card work done and maybe some baking and sewing done, but I'm not sure my little sicky will let me.  I just want my happy, healthy son back!  February and March have been a long months with a poor, sick kiddo who rarely gets sick.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Raspberry Chipotle Steak Sandwiches

I can't believe its March already!  Where has the first 8 weeks of this year gone?

Before I get into our menu for the week, I thought I'd share a fun, easy recipe from last week.

1 bottle Raspberry Chipotle Marinade (I had a bottle from Pampered Chef that I bought a while back)
1 lb flank steak
1 herb sandwich loaf
2 cups spinach, washed and drained
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 4 oz package goat cheese
olive oil

Pour marinade over flank steak and marinade for 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours)  Grill flank steak to desired doneness (we like medium)  I grilled the steak on my panini press and it was perfect!
While the meat is cooking...
Slice bread long-wise and drizzle both halves lightly with olive oil.  Spread goat cheese on one side of sandwich loaf.  Top with spinach and onions.  When meat is cooked, allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Slice meat thinly and place warm meat on top of spinach and onions.  Allow sandwich to sit for another 5-10 minutes.  Slice and serve!  Enjoy!


Here's our plan for the week:

Sunday: Slow cooked pork loin with red potatoes and onions
Monday: Chicken and Leek Pie
Tuesday: Navajo Tacos with Slow-cooker chili
Navajo Taco Recipe
Wednesday: Leftovers for the boys, I have a meeting
Thursday:  Pasta Primavera with homemade Foccacia
Friday: Beer Battered Pizza Crust pizza

Turkey, ham sandwiches
spinach salad


For more meal planning ideas, go to

I also linked to Mouthwatering Mondays, and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

{virtual} coffee

First, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures.  I'm posting at recess from my work computer and thought I could access them from my mobileme account.  Well, I can access them but I can't download them!  I'll add in pictures tonight.

If we were sitting down for coffee today, I'd suggest we head back to Southern California and go to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  I love that place!  Their tea lattes are my favorite.  I ask them to only add a bit of their wonderful vanilla powder though because it can get really sweet and I can't taste my tea.  They only exist down there, and I visit often when I'm in that neck of the woods!  We were down there last week for vacation, and I already miss it!  Even my husband was missing his hazelnut lattes from there when we got home!

If we were meeting for tea lattes, I would start by telling you about the amazing warm sunshine we got while we were in Southern California!  On Monday, we hung out by the pool.  After swimming and enjoying each other's company, we found a great little restaurant on Coronado Island.  Little man and I shared Shrimp Scampi.  It was delish!

On Tuesday, we headed to the Wild Animal Park in San Diego.  I haven't been there in a long time, and I was as enamored with this place as I was the first time I went.  The open spaces for the animals to roam and the interactions we had with the animals were amazing!  We stood about 5 feet away from a cheetah.  The highlight of the day for little man was feeding the lorakeets.  He went back to use his own money to get more food!  He had one on his hand and one on his hat.  He loved every second of it!

After another day of travel and a visit with family, we went to Disneyland.  I love that place!  My hubby and little man and I had a great time.  We even got to have a quick dinner with my cousin and his beautiful fiance!

While we were there, we had beautiful weather.  My husband said we sucked spring out of So Cal because on our drive home, it was wet, cold, and rainy.

Now that I've rambled on about our vacation, I'll ask you how you're getting through winter.  Do you have any plans to warm up?  Is spring coming through where you live?  Do you have any plans to get away from it all soon?  For more cups of coffee or tea, visit {virtual} coffee @ Lucky 13