Monday, December 24, 2007

Recipe Countdown Day 9

Funeral Potatoes

For a 9X13 pan

1 bag of hashbrowns (not O'brien style)

2 sticks butter
16 oz. sour cream
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Mix all of the above ingredients together. Put into a greased 9X13 pan. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove foil the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Recipe Countdown Day 8

Easy Baked Ham

This is a new one this year as well. We have always added pineapple and brown sugar to our ham but never ginger ale...

1 (4 pound) fully-cooked spiral cut ham
1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple, drained with juice reserved
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 liter ginger ale

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Remove as much of the ham from the bone as you can. Layer one third of the ham in the bottom of a 6 quart casserole dish. Top with a few pineapple rings and 1/4 of the brown sugar. Repeat the layers, ending with pineapple rings on top, but don't sprinkle the last 1/4 of brown sugar.
Pour any juice left in the pineapple can over the ham. Then pour in enough of the ginger ale to fill the dish about half way. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Uncover and cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Recipe Countdown Day 7

This is one I am going to try this year because I can't find any Acini De Pepe. It looks absolutely beautiful!

Ribbon Jello

6 1/4 cups boiling water, divided
5 (85 g) packages Jello gelatin, your favourite flavours
1 cup coconut milk, divided
This is a real make ahead dessert! Plan on it taking about 3 hours to make, the day before you need it. It only takes a few minutes every 20 minutes or so, but you can't let a layer set for hours before adding the next one, or you risk the layers sliding apart after unmolding. And, you want the finished mold to set up at least over night.

Lightly spray a bundt pan or 9x13 pan with non stick spray.
Wisk 1 package of jello into 1-1/4 cups boiling water in a small bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved.
Pour 3/4 cup of the dissolved gelatin into 8-cup ring mold sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until set but not firm. (It should stick to finger when touched). By placing it onto a level surface in your freezer you can speed up the process.
Refrigerate remaining jello in bowl about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Gradually stir in 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk and stir until well blended.
Spoon over jello in pan.
Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm (Again, jello should stick to finger when touched and By placing it onto a level surface in your freezer you can speed up the process.)
REPEAT process with each remaining jello flavor.
***It is very important to cool dissolved gelatin to room temperature before pouring into mold or the layers will not be well defined-but it will still taste good :)***.
Repeat steps again for a total of 10 alternating clear and creamy gelatin layers.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Unmold. For best results, unmold just before serving. Fill a larger container or clean sink with warm water, not too hot (otherwise it will melt). Rub a few drops of water onto the serving plate, this will facilitate adjusting the mold after unmolding, if necessary. Either use a plate with a large lip and just a little bit bigger than the diameter of the mold, or use a larger platter, at least 2-3 inches larger than the mold, because it will spread when unmolded and cut. Dip the mold almost to the edge into the warm water for just a few seconds. Wipe off with a towel and check the edges to see if they are loose, if not, repeat the dip for just a few seconds. Invert serving plate on top and flip quickly. Cut into 16 slices to serve. Store leftover gelatin in refrigerator.
This can be adapted easily for team colours, wedding shower colours, or even a patriotic mold. To create the colour white, simply use knox gelatin with the coconut milk.

Recipe Countdown Day 6

Okay, so I was lying in bed last night and realized that I had not posted my recipe for the day. Instead we went and saw "The Sound of Music" with Ryan and Breanna in Santa Maria. It was a good excuse and quite frankly my bed sucked me in. :) Here is one for you...

Sticky Buns

Easy version:

20 Rhodes frozen rolls

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with the rolls

In a saucepan combine:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 package COOK AND SERVE vanilla or butterscotch pudding (instant will be a disaster)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour this over the top after it has all melted together. Wait for the dough to get almost to the top of the bundt pan, cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven flip them over on a plate and enjoy the goodness!

The more difficult version includes making your own dough. For those of you who received my Sticky Buns this Christmas this is the recipe I used. No frozen easy peasy stuff here...

Buttery Rolls

1 cup water
1 egg, scrambled
3 1/4 cups bread flour
4 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP dry milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Make dough. Let rise once. Make into rolls place into bundt pan and continue as above.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Recipe Countdown Day 5

This is a great appetizer. We have turned it into a meal:

Does anyone hate ironing as much as I do? Just a random question...

Sausage Dip

1 package (1 lb) good quality sausage
1 green pepper-chopped
1/2 onion -chopped

Brown the above ingredients and put into a crockpot

Add to the crockpot:
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cans of 14 1/2 oz. stewed tomatoes. Del Monte makes a mexican style that is fabulous. We also blend up the tomatoes so they are not chunky.

Cook on low for at least 5-6 hours. Serve with tortilla chips. "Scoops" chips work great! My friend Lisa has discovered that is great over broccoli....I have yet to try that one. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Recipe Countdown 4th day

I usually wait until the end of the day to thoughtfully put in my best recipe. I didn't even have to think twice about this one. This recipe hails from my sister-in-law Tracy. I made them today and WOW they are yummy. My preschoolers loved them too!

Ginger Snaps

1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
Cream these ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl stir together the following dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt1
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Add the dry ingredients by parts to the butter mix, combining well each time. Mix well and refrigerate for 1 hour - overnight. Roll small spoonfuls into balls, coat in sugar and place on cookie sheet 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake @ 350 for 8-10 minutes. Bake to golden brown for soft, chewy cookies or to darker deep brown for a crispier Snap.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Recipe countdown 3rd day!

This is so fun! I haven't blogged this much in a LONG time. This recipe is a long time family favorite and tradition; however, since I can no longer find Acini de Pepe pasta since we moved to California, I will have to find a new favorite--I already have it in mind and will post it later. I just wanted to keep you in suspense....

Frog Eye Salad
We usually half this recipe.

1 lb acini di pepe pasta (located with pasta)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (15 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple in juice, crushed (reserve juice)
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice (reserve juice)
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 pint Cool Whip we like extra creamy

Prepare acini de pepe as directed on box.
In saucepan beat eggs with wire whisk until foamy.
Stir in flour, salt, sugar and pineapple liquid.
Cook over low heat until thick and bubbly.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
In large bowl combine acini de pepe with egg mixture and chill.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Fold in oranges and pineapple.
Cover and chill thoroughly.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Recipe Countdown 2nd day

My family absolutely loved this recipe. We had it as our snack today and again with dinner. Even Derek sucked it all down in a bottle...get the hint of how yummy?

Egg Nog

2 eggs (or the equivalent Egg Beaters egg substitute)
1 (14ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 quart milk
1 pint whipped cream

Beat together eggs, condensed milk and vanilla.
Slowly beat in milk.
Gently fold in whipped cream.
If you are adding alcohol, rum, brandy or bourbon are the traditional choices.
Sprinkle nutmeg on top to taste.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Recipe a day

For this last week before Christmas I am going to post some of our traditional holiday foods...If you have one that you would like to share, please email me...

Carnation Famous Fudge
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:LINE 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.COMBINE sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.STIR in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Exercising in the AM!

As many of you will have read in our Christmas letter, I (Amy) am getting up every morning to go workout with my buddies Lisa and Jenne. We have been at it for four (almost five) months now and have developed quite the workout regime. Monday, Wednesday, Friday are our cardio days and Tuesday and Thursdays are for weight lifting. We implemented interval training on our cardio days to "step it up" a bit and have seen some good results. For weight lifting we decided to add the ever dreaded bench press and planks (getting your body in an extended push up position and then just holding it there for what seems like forever). I am truly grateful to my workout partners as it makes the 5 AM time a little more bearable.

Grover Beach

We took another day trip with the Fernengels to Grover Beach which is near Pismo Beach. The Monarch Butterflies are migrating and stay for a few months in a Eucalyptus tree grove in Grover Beach for several months. In the pictures above are thousands of butterflies with their bright orange wings folded in so you are looking at the underside of their wings. They estimated that there were around 12,000 in the grove during our visit.

Our train trip to Santa Barbara

We took an Amtrak train down to Santa Barbara and had a great day as a family. The train station was right outside of Surf Beach in Lompoc. We arrived at the wharf in Santa Barbara and visited the Ty Warner Sea Center-- Our favorite creature there was the decorator crab. They had a center where we could feel sea cucumbers, starfish, decorator crabs and many other creatures of the ocean. After the sea center, we grabbed some pizza and took the local transportation down to the Santa Barbara Zoo-- Breanna was putting together an entry for the PTA Reflections program and got several great photos of the animals and we had a great time riding the train around and just having a relaxing afternoon. We got some Subway sandwiches and had dinner right before we had to catch the train back to Lompoc. It was a fabulous experience and we look forward to many more train rides up and down the Central Coast!

Solvang with the Fernengels

We made a trip out to Solvang with the Fernengel family. We rented a tourist surrey and all 11 of us piled onto it and drove around the town. We were the tourist attraction of the afternoon and got a great workout in the process!

Friday, November 2, 2007

I did it!

I ran my first 5K in the Halloween Fun Run on base. My time was 26:36. I also took third place in the women's division. Wahoo!

Halloween 2007

We went trick or treating with the Brock family. The base had trick or treating hours from 5:30-8:30 and the kiddos almost lasted the entire time! We had some incredible Vandenberg fog that night which was so perfect for the evening.

Our meal consisted of: Mummy dogs, cheese worms, putrid punch and spooky night brownies.

Courtney's 4th birthday

Courtney wanted a poofy purple dress like Breanna got for her birthday, so Grandma Seely stayed up a few nights and handcrafted this masterpiece.

For Courtney's birthday, she wanted a barbie birthday cake. So Kevin craftfully mastered the art of inserting a Barbie into a bowl cake and literally threw the spinkles at it to create the "splattered" effect. Thank you Lisa Brock for the use of your bowls and house!
Whew! We are at the end of our month long birthday celebration. It starts on September 22 and ends on October 15. Kevin and I take a deep long breath when the last party invitee leaves the last party. We miss you Owen family. This is the first birthday celebration year you have missed!

Breanna's 9th birthday

Breanna wanted to have a Pink Panther party with pink everything! We even played pin the tail on the panther. What fun. :)

S is for Spider

We thought this hat that Ryan brought home from Kindergarten was absolutely adorable! S is for Spider, mom!

Cougar of the Month

Breanna was awarded "Cougar of the Month" for her class in September. She demonstrated honesty, integrity and responsibility. Go Cougars!

Amy's birthday (We won't say how old)

For Amy's birthday she received a few new pieces of Pampered Chef stoneware to start her collection. So far the pizzas, brownies and bread have been fabulous!

Ryan's 6th birthday

For Ryan's 6th birthday he wanted a skateboard. We also decided we should include wrist guards, knee pads and elbow guards. All three protective devices have been sufficiently scraped. :) Happy birthday Ryan! We love you!
The have a game room adjacent to the pizza eatery where Ryan became a champ at Skeeball.

We celebrated his birthday at our favorite pizza place--Mi Amore Pizza.

For Ryan's birthday breakfast, he wanted "The Hot Dog Man".

Morro Bay

Another day at the beach

Ahhh--so picturesque

Wait! Where did the rest of her go?

We made a trip out to Minuteman beach and hiked up these incredible sand dunes (Kevin LOVED pushing the stroller in the sand) to get to this beach. You could see dolphins in the waves and the tide pools were incredible. We also had a great time building our first sandcastle.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Derek's first time eating mush

The kids had rediscovered that they really do like mush and Derek is devouring anything and everything that we put in front of him so I thought, Why not? He tried mush for the first time and he loved it (as is evident by his face) :)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Getting Settled in California

We're slowing getting our house put together down here in California. Moving from a 2500 sq-ft home with a 2-car garage and lots of storage, into a 1500 sq-ft home with a 1-car garage and no storage makes for an interesting time. In the midst of unpacking, the kids at least put the boxes to good use ...

The pile of unpacked boxes also made for a good time ... kind of an Amsden version of "Where's Waldo"!

We've started exploring the central California coast by visiting Solvang (a small Dutch tourist town ~25 minutes away).

We made it out to Waller Park in Santa Maria which has an enormous duck pond. This is the same pond we brought Breanna to when she was Derek's age ... weird!

Breanna decided she'd like to try being in a play, auditioned for "Cinderella" and was picked to be a mouse. She was a little "cheesy" (hee hee).

Breanna has also decided to follow in her dad's footsteps (literally) by taking up climbing just about anything around.

Inevitably summer had to end, and the kids had to start school. Notice the fog that hangs out nearly every morning/night around here.

Last, but not least, as a welcoming to California, I got strep throat. Following a couple days of taking my penicillin, I made a discovery ... I'm ALLERGIC to penicillin! Behold my spots!

And there you have it. More pictures to come as we get out and explore (hopefully with less spots though)!