Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sweet Treats – PBJ Crunchers


I found this recipe for PBJ Crunchers some time back.  I forgot to write down where I found it, but it’s online!

These are a great one to let the kids mix up with their hands and get MESSY.  They are very very very easy. 

I didn’t have any grape jelly so I used some of our homemade strawberry jam.  While they admittedly look like little balls of turd, they taste just like my morning toast. 

Monkey tested.  Monkey approved.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I’m issuing a kitchen challenge

While quickly catching up on some blog reading this morning, I found this over at Inspired Kara.  It is a Top Ten Challenge.


Image from Bon Appétit

I’m going to do this challenge, taking on one item from the list per week over the next ten weeks, starting with a soufflé next week (my menu and grocery shopping have long since been planned/done for this week).

I challenge you to join me. 

We’ll check in weekly.  You need to post a picture of your dish and share the recipe you used on your blog and link back here.  Or, if you don’t have a blog, post your picture directly on Living the Road Less Traveled’s fan page on Facebook.

We’ll have fans vote on the images each week to get a weekly winner for the best looking dish.  At the end, we’ll then vote on the best of the best for an overall winner.  The best looking dish will win a prize.  (I haven’t figured out a prize yet – suggestions welcome.)

First up is Soufflé.  Pick what ever soufflé recipe you want and get cooking! 

Who’s in?

Monday, February 22, 2010

I love a good deal

I took the kids to Target this morning in hopes of finding a window shade for Little Man’s room.  The sun hits his room first and he’s getting up way too early for me.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have what I was looking for.

They did, however, have a great clearance going on in their home goods.  I found some fantastic kitchen towels on clearance for $2.50 for a set of 3.  They are perfect colors for my bathroom.  I snagged 2 sets.  Along with extra large scraps of fabric I used to make curtains for the bathroom, I’m going to make myself  a great big shower curtain.


Look at this adorable pattern!


They had some in teals, too.  I kind of regret not grabbing some.  Maybe I’ll take a lunch break tomorrow to run over and get more…. 

I found some cute placemats for 70 cents a piece as well.  I’m scheming up something for them in my bedroom…

Now…  just to find time to make friendly with my sewing machine….

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cream Puffs

This is a recipe I’ve had sitting in my box for quite some time.  It originally comes from my Great Aunt Violet.

Bring 1/2 cup of water to boiling point and add 1/4 cup shortening; stir until melted.  Bring back to boiling point and quickly add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 tsp salt; cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes or until mixture forms small, smooth balls. 


Cool slightly.  Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each.  Beat for 5 minutes until mix is thick.


Shape dough into balls and place 2” apart on a greased baking sheet (parchment paper would also work).  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 and bake another 20-25 minutes.


While baking (or cooling), prepare filling.

Mix 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 tbs. flour and a pinch of salt together.  Scald 1 cup of milk and add to mixture.  Cook over hot water, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes.


Beat 1 egg; pour hot mix over egg.  Cook over hot water for 3 minutes.


Cool; add 1 tsp. vanilla.

Here is where I deviate from the recipe.  My Aunt Violet says to make a slit into the side of the puff to fill with the filling.  I took a kabob skewer and poked a hole.  I then took my filling and put it into a piping bag to fill the puffs with.  Very easy.


My filling didn’t turn out well.  It was too soupy.  And there wasn’t nearly enough for the 12 puffs we got from the recipe. It tasted yummy, though!  So I only filled a few before attempt #2.

Attempt #2 involved a packet of vanilla instant pudding mixed into the rest of the original batch of filling (What?  Sometimes a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do!).  I used a piping bag to fill them. 

My Aunt Violet also left out a yummy extra.

I took 2 squares of bittersweet baking chocolate and a splash of milk.  Enter the double boiler set up again.


Melt the chocolate slowly so it doesn’t bind up.


Dunk your filled cream puffs in the melted goodness.


Mmmmm.  Cream puffs.


Enjoy!  We sure did!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I’m now on Facebook!

Actually, I’ve been on Facebook for sometime, but I now have a fan page.

If you’re on Facebook and want to follow me there, click here.

Now, get outside and enjoy that sun.  It’s going to be a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I’m purl challenged!


I started this hat nearly 2 weeks ago now for my brother.  This is my third attempt. 

For starters, it looks huge.  Second, that stitch looks NASTY. 

I guess I’ll be ripping it down and starting my fourth attempt. 

I have finished my first ever hat.  It’s….  weird.  It fits my head in size but is way too short.  So I tried it on both of my kids.  It doesn’t cover their ears either.  It’s been turned into a dolly hat. 

I also made another scarf which I’ve given to my mother. 

Now..  just to figure out this purl so I can complete my first hat for an adult.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Home is where your heart is…

And home is where your story begins…..

Growing up, my grandparents all lived half a mile from us.  And by all, I do mean all because both sets lived across the street from each other up until about 5 years ago.  That’s right.  My parents grew up across the street from each other. 

From the time I was 8 or 9 years old, I spent summer vacations with my mom’s parents – sort of.  They were my check in point (which means I usually ran in to make a ham sandwich for lunch and then ran off again with my childhood best friend).  I spent my time on my pedal bike, roaming the woods with friends and finding amazing things, such as this waterfall in ‘The Brook.”


Not only was it not a big deal that we explored and had forts and clubs in clearings in the woods, but it was also not a big deal for us to just take off on pedal bike to meet friends. 

We had dinner at my grandparents at least once a week.  Going to their house after Sunday morning mass was the norm.  Or baked beans and red hot dogs with ployes on Saturday nights after they came home from mass (because they always went on Saturday so they didn’t have to get up on Sunday). 

It was a completely different way of life…

When I moved away to be with T nearly 8 years ago, it left a huge gaping hole in my soul.  I eventually got over it and we made a good life for ourselves away.  I still missed being near my family but was shown time and again that it’s only a quick 4 hour drive.  And home will always be there for you when you need it.

After Monkey was born, the ache came back.  The ache to be near family.  The ache for a simpler life.  The ache to go home.  The time wasn’t right, even if we could have. 

After Little Man was born, the ache became even stronger.  But I was shown once again that family is just a quick 4 hour drive.  Things happened that reinforced the distance is only a small hurdle for if we need each other. 

Yesterday while I was at work, my grandmother called me to tell me of a horrible accident my cousin and her 2 young children were involved in.  Her children are the same age as mine.  I spent hours at the office yesterday with my head and my heart back home waiting for news.  We share an aunt and uncle by marriage and my aunt ran to the hospital to be there with and for the kids while their mom was still stuck in the car.  I’m sure many other family members rallied together to be there.  They were all, thankfully, ok.  Broken bones and cuts and bruises are nothing compared to what could have happened. 

On my drive home last night, I got to thinking about it and I cried.  I could see myself in her shoes and imagine my children being whisked away to be sure they’re ok and being stuck and helpless.  If that were to happen to me here, who would be there for my kids?  What familiar face would be there at the big, scary hospital to comfort them?  Yes, we’ve surrounded ourselves with wonderful people….  but it’s not the same as knowing your family would be there.  That Grammy could kiss and cuddle until Mommy arrived.  That Great Tatante would be there to try to make you laugh and giggle.  That quick 4 hour drive may as well be days in a situation like that.

So now I ache some more.  And the hole in my soul I thought I’d patched up slowly starts to rip open again.

Home is where they love you….

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A peek into what I’ve been doing…


When we first came to see our house, the “finished” room in the basement looked like this:

DSCF0017 DSCF0018

A storage room.  Yay.  Because the other side of the basement acting as storage isn’t enough, right?

Well, we weren’t any better.  Actually, we were worse.

Office BEFORE 2 Office BEFORE 3 Office BEFORE

Wow.  That’s a lot of junk. 

After I got pregnant for Monkey, we decided to move my office to the basement so we could still have a spare bedroom upstairs.  We started clearing it out and organizing. 

Office DURING 2  Office DURING

Well, at least it’s clean.

And then T got to work.

P2040001 P2040002

Even the ceiling got some love.  I attacked cobwebs with a broom and then gave it some paint.

Ooh.  Ahh.  A new cubby for the water tank.  A nice new actual paint color. Is that paint I see on the cement floor? And nice new insulation.  Oooh.

P2250032 P2250033


Check out the great wood on the bottom half of the walls.  And this would be the built in desk my dad put in for me.


It was really coming together well, wasn’t it?

Well, then Monkey was born and life happened.

PB080038 PB080039 PB080040 PB080041

Good Lord we have a lot of junk.

So I’ve started organizing again.  And cleaning out.  I’ve gotten rid of some stuff on freecycle.  I’ve listed some stuff on craigslist.  Other things have either been trashed or put in storage elsewhere for me to go through at a later time.

IMG_1041 It’s still got a ways to go…  but I think the kids are enjoying the new family room quite nicely.  (Scope out the new carpet my dad installed last week for me – just a section for the kids to play on).

I’m hoping to share a nearly finished product later this week.  T needs some muscle help to move a few things into place and my poor brother-in-law doesn’t realize his muscles are being put to work when they come over for dinner tonight (that was not planned – it just worked out very well in our favor.  hehe).

I’d love to hear what home improvement projects you’ve been working on!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Recipes of the week


steakaupoivre-MSL Image from Martha Stewart Living

I tried out Steak Au Poivre with Balsamic Reduction earlier this week.  Instead of using random pepper and grinding it myself, as Martha suggests, I used a Taste of Inspirations rub/seasoning (I don’t remember the name as I’ve had it a while without the name on it – it was Monterey Citrus or something or other).  It was easy to make and tasted ok, but I’m not making it again.

Also from Martha Stewart Living is Chicken Parmigiana.  It’s one of the many recipes I find in her magazine and can’t find online, which is unfortunate.  T made it.  He told me it was easy and we all enjoyed it. 

FriedRicewithShrimpandSnowPeas-MSL Image from Martha Stewart Living

And yet another from Martha Stewart Living is Fried Rice with Shrimp and Snow Peas.  We rather enjoyed this one, as well.


Image from Fresh Magazine

Finally, we move on to Fresh Magazine where we find Sesame Beef with Green Beans.  The sauce you make to go with it has a hoisin sauce taste to it.  It was good and I still can’t get over how much Monkey loved it.  She practically licked her plate clean.

Enjoy your kitchens!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Free Shipping at JCPenney

I received a card in the mail with promo code 2SPLURGE.

It is good for purchases over $49 made via catalog or internet.

Expires 2/23/10.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recipes of the week

I have a couple of failures to share with you this week. Both are from Fresh Magazine.

We tried Beer-Braised Chicken and Dumplings the other day. I enjoyed it but T did not. It's not being saved.

We also tried Cashew Chicken with Red Bell Peppers and Broccoli. This time T enjoyed it and while I didn't mind it, it's not the best stir fry I've ever made. I'm not saving this one, either.

The last recipe I have to share is a concoction I came up with for yet more variation to our veggie sides. I sauteed a chopped shallot in a splash of olive oil. I then added green beans and a splash of chicken broth and cooked it until it was warmed through. I added a handful of toasted pecan pieces to the finished product. It was really tasty. I will say my green beans were a little soggy - but I would expect that since I was using some of my frozen garden stash. With fresh beans, I'd cook them to crisp tender. I also had a thought yesterday that adding a small handful of chopped prosciutto before serving would be another good variation to this. YUMMY!
Enjoy your kitchens!

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