Monday, May 31, 2010

Bento Lunches and a Red White and Blue Food

Busy busy busy... We're in the final countdown for lots of end-of-school-year activities.  After this coming weekend things will be a lot less hectic.  This weekend we had an outdoor dinner of grilled chicken (Greek seasoning from Pampered Chef), zucchini and pineapple, some tzatziki sauce for the chicken, garlic artisan bread, garlic and olive oil couscous, and some of this fruit salad, red white and blue for the holiday.  The salad consisted of ripened d'anjou pear (peeled), gala apple, blueberries and raspberries.  All of the berries are just amazing right now.

Last week we had to start packing lunches for our oldest daughter every day.  I didn't want her to feel like she's eating a sandwich every day, so some days I've done Bento box style, and other days I've given her the opportunity to choose what she wants to eat.  One day she said, "Mommy, I want a banana dog on Friday!  It just so happened that I had extra hot dog buns from a cookout, and a fresh banana, to which we added PB&J- voila, you have a banana dog.  Here are some of the Bento lunches:
Bento 1: Not too creative, she ended up just making a sandwich.  LOL.  American cheese and Oven Roasted chicken from Boar's Head; whole wheat bread, strawberries that we picked at the farm, and some teddy grahams.  Got some cute animal food picks designed for Bento lunches such as the ones seen here.

Okay, a little more creative on day 3, maybe.  Hearts and stars for bread, chicken and colby-jack cheese; yogurt tube, organic carrot sticks, blueberries in a cupcake liner, and some teddy grahams.  (Day 2 consisted of PB&J, I'll be blogging about sandwich ideas on another day.)
Week 2, Day 1 (Bento #3): Ants on a log- I used Smucker's natural peanut butter and Craisins (she will not eat raisins); cheese bites that I got from couponing, raspberries, and tortilla strips.

Today, being a holiday, I decided to do a quick fun treat for the family, so I broke down and made red white and blue Rice Krispie treats.  I used 5 cups of the cereal (instead of 6) and replaced the last cup with 1/2 cup freeze dried strawberries and 1/2 cup dried blueberries.  They were 'berry' delicious!  Our 2 year old had never had the regular version of those treats before and didn't eat much because it was so sticky.  The rest of us thought they were fabulous!

Happy Memorial Day!
I'm so thankful for those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.
God bless the families of those who served sacrificially.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I have been VERY busy (Backyard Berm)

Here's what I've been working on for the last 4 weekends.  Adding a couple of feet in height to a "berm" which is a barrier that divides our yard from the wetlands behind us.  I added topsoil by the truckload (6 truckloads) using a shovel and a garden rake (see pic).  Then I covered it with about 3 truckloads of shredded hardwood mulch.  The pictures may not be breathtaking, but believe me, compared to how it looked before, I want to spend hours out back just soaking in the view.  I love the wall of trees, the sounds of many types of birds, and the sun/shade of this backyard.  This is one of the reasons we bought this house.  I love it.
Garden Rake:

Finished building up the topsoil:

Finished the mulch:
Now, if I decide, I can plant flowers or plants along that berm.  Right now I just need a break from it! 

Our backyard, even with the amazing view, came with many challenges.  For 3 years we had several huge gorgeous sweet gum trees that produced amazing shade, and a black gum tree that was just so pretty, but not thriving.  The downside was all the gumballs that took over every winter, and the inability to grow grass.  We had the trees removed, and have seen a world of difference, but still have a ways to go.

That's it for now.  Happy Mothers Day to all my readers who are moms!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo - White Turkey Chili dinner!

I've been wanting to make this meal recently.  It just so happened that the day I decided to make it, it was Cinco de Mayo!
It turned out to be delicious, the girls ate it, too!  I served it with some simple cheddar cheese quesadillas.

White Turkey Chili

1/4 sweet onion, about 1/2 cup chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth
1 cup chopped cooked turkey (use the leftovers that you stored in the freezer!)
1 4-oz. can green chilies
2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

In a dutch oven, saute the onions in the oil until softened and lightly caramelized.  Add garlic and mix well.  Stir in broth, turkey, and chilies.  Put all but 1/2 cup beans in.  Mash the remaining beans and add to the dutch oven.  Add the cumin and cayenne and mix well.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes or until ready to eat.  Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finally, a nice front porch!

I finally was able to put something significant on my front porch.  I always felt like it was so big when I was on the front porch, and wanted to make it feel welcoming.  This year was my year to do just that.  I finally settled on this wicker bench and chair.
What makes it even better are these AMAZING flowers that came from a farm about 40 minutes from my house.  I fell in love with so many of their arrangements, but settled on this one.  In the centers of the orange flowers are a splash of purple and white.
Here's a view of the bench (ignore the tags on the pillow, guess it's time to remove them):
And on the way to the porch, I added a pot with some more colorful flowers, close to where the geraniums are coming back from last summer!
I'm so in love with spring!  What's your favorite part of spring?