Archive | July, 2012

August 1st? The shift – the Mommy Files

31 Jul

Tomorrow is August 1st?  Like, for the reals?

I’m not entirely sure where July went.  I have a vague haze memory that there was June.  What is it about summer?

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of summer, I prefer cooler weather to hot weather any day.  I prefer layers of warm clothes and the perfect reason to drink tea all day long.  I like to turn on my oven for hours at a time, cooking and baking, without melting in to my kitchen floor.

But summer is not all bad, I love having my children home, with few, if any, schedules to keep.  We sleep in, we enjoy parks, casual days, fun as it comes to us.  I love that dinner is not rushed by practices, meetings, and expectations.  There isn’t homework to clog up our evenings, and the stress of “have to” almost doesn’t exist.

August is coming though, and quickly our world is flipping back the other way.  Football started this week, multiple practices and weekend games.  SW goes back to school in a week, a week.  I pick up our homeschool curriculum tomorrow, it requires reading and planning, cleaning and preparing.  I must prepare Sis’ preschool program, she is itching to read, it is her nature, time to hit the alphabet hard.  Dino-man still cannot read, it is his nature, we will be hitting reading hard this year.

I’ve begun cleaning stuff out, I am not a spring cleaner, no, for me the new year starts with school.  An old double stroller that they’ve outgrown, Sis’ crib bedding that she hasn’t used in years but I’ve held on to, curriculum we don’t need anymore, the odds and ends that clutter up your life.  Instead a couple of extra dollars in the pocket to start the school year off with.

Calendars are carefully laid out, so that nothing is forgotten.  And my heart breaks, just a little.  Because each new school year means they’re growing up that much more, getting that much older.  More independent, less reliant on mom.

Dairy Free Chicken and Dumplings

30 Jul

I love comfort food.  I love working over a stove, stirring, adding, making it taste just right.  I love how it fills you, leaves you feeling satisfied, full.  It usually simple yet full of flavor.  I think that good comfort food can calm worries, ease anxieties, and give strength.

We have a lot going on right now – as summer comes to a close and school looms around the corner, I wanted to fill the bellies of those I love with something simple yet fulfilling.

What you need ::

1lb chicken – really any will do, I opted for boneless/skinless chicken thighs (I like how dark meat retains moisture)

1 – 2 carrots, diced

3 stalks of celery, diced

1 small white yellow onion, diced

5 cups chicken stock

2 cups flour, plus additional for dusting

2 tablespoons shortening, I prefer all vegetable

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk substitute + a dash

salt, pepper, oil

What you do ::

In your cast iron dutch oven, pour in enough oil to lightly cover and heat to a medium heat.  Cook the chicken until no pink remains, set chicken aside.

Using the pan drippings, cook vegetables until soft, about ten minutes or so.

While your vegetables are softening, chop your chicken.  Once veggies are good to go pour in stock and add chopped chicken.  Generously season with pepper.  (I think the stock makes it salty enough but hey, if you like uber salty then by all means…)  Bring stock to a boil.

While you are waiting for the stock to come to a boil combine flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.   Cut the shortening in to your flour mixture using a fork or one of the pastry cutters.  Mix in milk and stir until a dough forms, I used vanilla almond milk.  Mine was a little dry and I needed to add an extra splash.


Generously flour a working surface and a rolling pin.  Roll out your dough nice and thin.  Cut in to one inch squares, you can use a knife or a pizza cutter.

Gently drop the dumplings, 2 or 3 at a time, in to the your boiling stock, stirring as your work.  Cook for 20 minutes.

To finish this off I dunked a coffee cup in to the boiling stock and stirred in a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch and then mixed it back into the pot.  This helped to thicken it up .

That’s it!  It truly is easy and real comfort food.  My family of five finished off this entire pot, next time I will make a double serving!

Reflecting – the Mommy Files

24 Jul

After a long week and a busy weekend we are moving slowing this morning.  Enjoying the last couple of mornings before school starts again, before we have to be intentional, on-time.  

My children do not know what happened last week.  We do not have tv in the house, we got rid of cable and haven’t been able to afford the converter boxes to let our old tv’s get the public channels.  We pay $8 a month for older shows to be streamed through the internet to us.  There is no local news coming in through our tv.  Our children do not know what happened.  They don’t need to really.  But we do.

Not Colorado.  Not Again.  

My heart is broken.  And I fight with myself.  Do I write about it?  How can I not.  

Sis tells me our kitchen is cowboy country.  The living room is a carnival.  She is rearranging little trinkets on the table.  This one gives you power.  This one gives you strength.  

She is buzzing.  Dino-man is buzzing.  Grammy is taking them to a movie today.  A movie.  

And this is why we do not tell them what happened.  I refuse to let this incident instill fear in my children.  They don’t need that.  They deserve better than that.  

Right now SW is 10.  Someday he will be older.  He will want to go to late night movies with his friends, and why not?  Because he is afraid?  Because I am afraid.  

I wrestle, I pray.  My mom heart aches deep.  

Sis has rearranged the trinkets again.  Now they are tokens to get in to her carnival, to ride the rides.  I bump my tea reaching for one, I’ve forgotten to remove the bag, in the sun it has steeped strong and dark.   The first scalding sip is sweet as honey.  Just what I needed.

How would I explain this tragedy to my children?  I cannot.  I cannot tell them why he did it, why it happened, or that it won’t happen again.  I cannot promise to always keep them safe.  My job and I cannot do it.

But I can tell them not to loose faith, hope.  I can tell them to keep loving on each other.  Fiercely, with all their heart.  Because he may have been one man, but look at how many people it brought together.  How many emergency workers, doctors, nurses saved lives.  How one brother scarified for another.  How a community came together to take care of each other.  

There is bad in this world, but there is so very much more that is better.  

Dairy Free Greek Meatballs and Tzatziki Sauce – Simply U Simply Me

23 Jul

Dairy Free Greek Meatballs and Tzatkiki Sauce is something kids will like?  You betcha!

It has been a long weekend, the Soldier had his drill this weekend, Sis has been sick, we are gearing up for VBS at church, it is hot out, and I am beat!  I was looking for something simple, refreshing, easy, but good too.  The Soldier will have had MREs all weekend, so he needs something to refuel him too.  And let me tell you, I love Greek food.  Tzatziki, Dolmas, olives, pitas, I love them all!  If I had to eat one style of food to eat for the rest of my life, and only one, it would be mediterranean  for sure!

So I opted to make this simple dinner for tonight.

What you need ::

for the sauce ::

8 or so ounces of dairy free, plain yogurt (I used coconut yogurt)

1 Tbsp dried dill

1/2 cucumber, processed in the food processor

dash of sea salt

4 – 5 fresh mint leaves – optional (I found the coconut yogurt still so sweet that it didn’t need this step, but you may want it)

For the sauce :: Combine all ingredients and let sit in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to over night.

for the meatballs ::

1 lb ground turkey meat

1 cup bread crumbs (read your labels or make your own!)

1 egg

1 teaspoon of the following :: sesame seeds, dried oregano, powdered garlic, dried red pepper flakes

For the Meatballs :: combine all the ingredients, roll or use a cookie scoop and make 1 inch balls, place in a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through and no pink remains

To Serve ::

Find flat bread, naan, or rolls, slice if necessary and bake in your hot oven until lightly toasted – 5 – 10 minutes.  I spread mine with a little olive oil.

Spread with tzatziki sauce, using the remaining 1/2 of the cucumber, slice thinly and layer on bread, optionally top with thinly sliced red onions.

Serve with cooked meatballs and remaining tzatziki sauce.  Yummmmm…….

Now if I could just master the art of grape leaf rolling…

Tiny Moments – the Mommy Files

19 Jul

Can I be completely honest with you?  There was a time when I would have spend five minutes playing with my child and patted myself on the back for being a good mom, being involved, and gone about my day.  “good job me, you just made a memory”

But as the kids get older, which they are, and the moments become fleeting, which they do, my heart has shattered.  For what is lost.  And rebuilt itself.  Now it beats for something new.  The tiny moments.  The every day.

The days are long, but the years are short…

“mom, remember that one time we were playing checkers and we shared some popcorn and we tossed it in to each other’s mouths…”

They’re making memories while we’re making plans…

I know it is easy to say not right now…

“no, I’m working, cleaning, cooking, washing, planning, facebooking, pinteresting, reading, tv-ing…”

Because we live busy lives.

Or . . . “I can for five minutes, or after I, or, or, or”

But childhood doesn’t wait.  It doesn’t wait for them, and it doesn’t wait for us.

Childhood doesn’t pause for cleaning, cooking, washing, planning, facebooking, pinteresting, reading, tv-ing…

Childhood doesn’t pause.

And I don’t want to look back in 20 years and say “wait, now I have time to build with legos, and make blanket forts, and cook plastic food, and just talk to you”

So I’m learning to find the time now.  To say yes to games, and dress up, and dolls, and dinosaurs.  Yes to them.

Wordless Wednesday

18 Jul

The Mommy Files – Who Writes These Things?

17 Jul

Here is a completely random, in no particular order, probably pretty meaningless, top 10 about the girl writing this blog ::

(that is not the girl writing this blog btw)

10.  I have a clock on my side of the bed that reads the entirely wrong time.  I find it whimsical.

9.  Given the choice between chocolate and dill pickles, dill pickles would win every time.

8.  I homeschool two children, my oldest, SW, goes to a local school.  It can be a little schizophrenic at times.  Please send cupcakes.

7.  I am a reader.  I rarely see movies.

6.  Unless it is the Princess Bride.  If you watch that with me please expect me to quote the entire movie right along with the actors.

5.  My husband knew that about me and married me anyways.  What a guy.

4.  It is pronounced You-Lee, not Yule.  I am not a Christmas treat.

3.  I consider myself a pretty relaxed mom, some day I will do a post all about my kitchen table, not what happens around it, but the table itself.  Someday, and it will be epic, and you will understand.

2.  I will brake for animals, every animal, every time.  Once I braked for an escaped turtle, I kid you not.  And then we found the owners and the mom was so appreciative we didn’t run over her son’s pet.  And I hope that one day, when we finally get chickens and goats, if Omelet, my future chicken, escapes, someone will brake for her too.

1.  And all joking aside, my family is my everything.  That is why I write this blog, it is a testimony to what we do and the fun we have doing it.  I don’t have all the answers but we’re sure going to laugh trying to figure it out.  And have a cupcake, always a cupcake.

Homemade Marshmallows aka Pseudo Peeps

12 Jul

I got asked why I made homemade marshmallows, was there dairy in the store bought kind?

“no, not that I know of… it just sounded like fun!”

So here’s the thing, there are a ton of recipes on the internet already, nothing new there, but they require you do super crazy things like use a candy thermometer.  Which is all fine and dandy, except that mine broke a couple of months ago…

So here’s what I created, sans a candy thermometer, and was was described to me as having a smooth texture and tasting like Peeps…

What you need:

4 envelopes gelatin

1 C. water

2 C. sugar (I just used regular old sugar)

1/3 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

1 Tablespoon vanilla

What you do ::

Generously grease a 9 x13 pan.  Set aside

Put you gelatin in with your cold water.  If you have a stand-up mixture put it in the bowl you use for it.  Set aside.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, and water over a medium heat, stirring constantly.  Once your mixture starts to boil set your timer for 9 minutes.  Keep stirring so your sugar doesn’t burn.

While your mixture is boiling whip the egg whites and vanilla until peaks form.

After your sugar mixture has bubbled for 9 minutes add to the bowl with the gelatin and water and beat for 6 – 10 minutes.  Gently fold in egg white mixture and pour in to greased 9×13 pan.

Let set in your refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to overnight. to set up.

Here is the fun part my kids got in to ::

Run a spatula along the rim of the marshmallows until the whole thing is loosened from the pan.  Flip on to greased surface.  Cut in to 1 inch squares.

This is where it gets fun for the kiddos – pour an combination of colored sugar and sprinkles in to a bowl and let them roll the marshmallows around until the well covered.  You cannot skip this step, the marshmallows are just too sticky otherwise!  It was the colored sugar that we used that gave them the Peep style flavor.

They can last up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Did you make them?  Leave me a comment or pin it on your pinterest!  I LOVE seeing what you’re doing!!!

Wordless Wednesday

11 Jul

Simple Marsala Chicken – Dairy Free, Gluten Free

9 Jul

I love, love, love marsala chicken.  It is probably one of my favorite dishes, ever. I needed to make it the other day and it needed to be both dairy free and gluten free.  One of the characteristics of marsala chicken is the flour on the outside to give it a nice crust.  But by making sure you have nice thin chicken and a hot pan you can achieve the same taste without the allergens.

I also needed a side that fit that bill, so I picked one of my favorites, red quinoa!

What you need ::

4 – 5 thin cut (or pounded thin) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 – 4  Tbs your favorite dairy substitute (we LOVE Earth Balance)

8 oz fresh mushrooms

1 Cup Marsala Wine

2 – 3 Tbsp unsweeted coconut milk

1 cup red quinoa

1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch green onions

salt and pepper to taste

What you do ::

Rinse you quinoa in cold water.  Heat your chicken stock or broth to boiling.  Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain any excess liquid.  When ready to serve mix in chopped green onions.

While the quinoa is cooking heat butter substitute over medium heat in skillet.  Salt and pepper chicken to taste and add to pan.  Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.  Each side should be nice and browned, and no pink should remain in the middle of the breast.

Remove chicken from pan and cover to keep warm.  Add mushrooms to pan and cook until soft, about five minutes.  Deglaze the pan with your marsla wine and cook down until reduced by half, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Stir in milk substitute and add chicken back to pan.  Cover and let cook for 1 – 2 minutes.

That’s it!  Easy peasy and super yummy!!!