BeeBee comes to visit...

A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit.  Or BeeBee as we call her.  Why BeeBee?  Because it fits.  And her name starts with a B.  And she loves Bees.  And because BeeBee and GB sound good together (Birdie's two grandmothers.. who neither look like they are grandmothers they look so young...).  

We had so much fun.  She of course brought presents.  Like sweatshirts from 30 years ago.  With my name on it.

We HAD to gather pinecones (it's what all the cool kids are doing)

BeeBee brought Birdie a bird feeder.  Which has been so fun to watch who comes to visit our home now.  We have seen some of the most beautiful birds up close.  Birdie LOVES watching (problem is, she runs to fast to the window that she scares the birds.  I'm teaching her how to sneak up...)

Planting... lots of planting...

We had so much fun with you BeeBee.  Please come back soon and bring Pops.  We really missed him, but it was fun just us girls.

And thank you for making Birdie her sweet smocked dress with birds on it.  It's perfect.

Thank you for coming to visit BeeBee!


Herb Hummus for Summer...

Want a fun hummus dip that's healthy for the summer?  Keep it simple and pull from your garden.

1 can of chick peas (drain and rinse)
garlic (depends on how garlicky you want it, start with one clove and go from there)
a little salt to taste
a cup of basil
1/2 cup of mint
1 cup of baby spinach
Olive oil as you mix it in a food processor

Pulse pulse pulse

Serve with home made pita chips (cut a pita round into triangles, drizzle with olive oil and salt, under the broiler.  Yum and done.


The Art of Kneading...

When I was a little girl, my mom made bread.  Lots of bread.  She was given a bread starter that smelled like heaven, and for some reason, she always baked it at night after dinner.  When the bread would come out of the oven, we would all stay up just to test it.  With butter.

Soooo not healthy... but you know what?  It was healthy for my soul.  And made memories.  Both good things if you ask me.

So now, I have a little one to teach the art of kneading dough.  And making bread.  Well, I don't exactly make bread much but I make a mean pizza dough.

Teaching Annie Beth the art of kneading will take time, but we have started with learning the difference in the feel of dough.  That's one of the first things to learn is when it's ready.  It feels a certain way.

She's learning.

Once we make dough... and she watches how it rises, we made pizza.  This is where I took over.  Her job was done (she was ready to move on... but someday, this will be an Annie job).

I give you my latest creations...

Plum, arugula, goat cheese, a little Italian cheese, fig spread with ginger as the "sauce" topped with prosciutto after I pulled it out of the oven.

And roasted tomatoes, corn, roasted zucchini, arugula, garlic, olive oil and Italian cheese with goat cheese chunks.


It's really one of my favorite activities.  Baking.  So glad my last name is now Baker, for it just fits ;)


Ital{yum} Soup...

Do you ever wish that there was an app on your phone where you could plug in the 5 ingredients you had and it would spit out the meals you could prepare with those 4 ingredients?  I do.  Stephen says I should invent it.  I'm sure someone much smarter than me has already done that.

Regardless, I had 3 green onions, a quarter of a white onion, chicken, and some zucchini squash. Oh, and literally a cup of shredded carrots in the bag.  The kind that comes shredded for you.  I'm lazy.

All on the verge of going bad if not used in the next couple days.

So I made an Italian soup.  Or Ital{yum} soup.  And it was pretty good!  I thought I would share my recipe.  And warning... I made it up on the spot.  But trust me, it's healthy and so yummy!

3 chopped green onions (including the greens)
1 quarter of a white onion chopped
1 cup of shredded carrots
Olive oil for cooking the onion
tsp of garlic
2 Zucchini squash, cubed
1 can of roasted tomatoes
1 box of no salt added chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
salt to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

Grab your dutch oven and a non-stick skillet.  Season your chicken breasts on both sides with salt and Italian seasoning and a dash of olive oil.  Place in skillet and cook on both sides until cooked through.  Roughly 5-7 minutes.  Shred for the soup when it has cooled a little.

In your dutch oven, drizzle in enough olive oil to cook your onions, and garlic.  Wait until your onions are close to translucent and then add the chopped garlic.  If it cooks too long, it will burn and taste bitter.

Next, add the chopped zucchini squash that you cubed.  Sauté in the dutch oven with the onions for about 2 minutes, just to get the flavor going.  Season them a little at this stage if you would like.

Add in the box of chicken stock, can of chopped roasted tomatoes (I didn't drain mine), and carrots.  Cover and keep warm (if you aren't eating immediately).  Shred your chicken and add to the soup.  Cook long enough for the squash to soften.  If the liquids seem low, add water to the level you want.

When ready to serve, add a cup of pasta if you have it on hand.  A small noodle pasta.  You don't have to add it if you don't want to.

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, and voila!  Ital{yum} soup.



Gold Coat and Bubbles...

When I look back to this winter... I won't think of her first Flu and then endless nights we stayed up worrying about her.  I won't think of her teething, or the sleepless nights.

I won't think of the bumps or bruises.  The tears.

I will think about her laugh.  Her gold coat that she wore.  I loved every moment she wore it.

I will think of her love affair with bubbles.  And how much she adored being outside with us, just playing and being silly.

I will think of how she holds her hands together and whispers prayers at the dinner table and then says "men" for Amen.  I pray for her relationship with the Lord and that it is always strong.

I will think about how her little voice would say "Momma, Daddy, Bubbles, STOP, Mine, UP, No no no, Ball, and most recently, "What's that, mama... I want that, mama". Her first sentences.  Such a smart girl.

I will think back to her sweet face and her precious curls.  And her little hands that wrap around our fingers to walk up and down stairs.

I will think back to her noticing that I'm always taking her picture and has recently learned to say "CHEESE" to see her picture on the back of my camera.  She has nick named my camera "Cheese" and goes to find it often.  Like mommy, like daughter ;)

I love this little girl so much.  I can't believe in just a few short months (5 to be exact) she will be 2 years old.  Praying our time before then is sweet, with lots of fun memories together.  We are so thankful for our sweet little Birdie.


Slow Cooked Pork Chops to make you swoon...

It's really cold here.  We haven't seen the sun in a few weeks and I'm about over it.  We had a snow storm today (read:dusting and sleeting) and now have school closed for the second day.  My sister who lives in Wichita with 9 inches of snow on the ground is dying laughing right now.  In the words of Miss Etta:  We're Shreveport.  We're different.  (you can say that again...)

So I needed something easy for dinner because when dinner time comes, I need a fast, easy meal that won't take me hours to prepare and clean up.  I don't know about you, but I'm torn at night.  I want a well balanced, healthy meal, that looks pretty on a plate.  Yet, I want it to be fast and relatively easy to prepare and clean up.  I feel like that's a constant contradiction but I think I've at least found one solid option.

Pork chops that actually have great flavor and aren't dry.

Annie Beth - My sioux chef...

Here goes.

Take your slow cooker, OR, I used my dutch oven.  I prepared mine at 3:30 really fast (took me literally 3 minutes to throw together).  You could put this on a few hours before dinner.  I preheated my oven to 300 degrees (convection) and I can say at 6:00 when we ate, our pork chops literally fell apart as we ate them they were so juicy.

Take your dutch oven, pour about 3 cups of chicken or veggie stock.  2 TBS of butter, 1/2 cup of white wine (I'm sure you could omit this step...).  Slice an onion (big slices, think QUICK) and place along the bottom of the dutch oven or slow cooker. to make a base.  Slice a lemon in half.  Place on bottom.  Season your pork chops with olive oil, salt and italian seasoning on both sides, place on top of the bed of onions.  I bought the thick cut chops... I don't think the thin chops would be good with this recipe.

Cut a few sprigs of rosemary, and place in the pot, and then pour enough water to bring the liquid up to the pork chop, but not covering the chops.  The goal (in my mind at least) was to steam the chops.

Here's my before and final plate pic.  I paired it with wild rice (that I prepared without the season packet to reduce the sodium) and steamed broccoli.

They were awesome.  I'm definitely making this again.  And the clean up was super easy.  Mainly because I didn't do it.  Stephen did. But I think he would say that it was quick.  ;)

What do you make that's quick, healthy and easy to prepare and clean up?  Because we have places to go and people to see and need some good ideas.


17 months going on 17 years...

I had an early wake up call this morning... as I had to be on the news for work.  As I worked at putting Annie Beth down early last night so I could get to bed early, we had some sweet moments I don't want to forget...

As I rocked her for just a few minutes, I whispered to her as I do every night...

"Mommy and daddy love you... do you know that?"

She nodded

"Mommy and daddy are going to be here when you wake up, after you sleep allllll night long (praying she would follow my hint)

She nodded

"Jesus loves you, Annie Beth"

She nodded and curled in a bit more

"Mommy is going to lay you down now"

She nodded and allowed me to lay her in her bed.  She didn't fuss.  She didn't cry.  She cuddled up with her bear and fell fast asleep.  Wow.  She surprises me so much sometimes.

As my sweet girl turns 17 months tomorrow, I will look at her still as a baby, as I know I'll look at her when she's 17 years old.  She's growing so fast.  She talks constantly.  "Let me see"  "I do it" "Thank you"  "Here you go" are her favorite sayings.  She knows her belly, eye, hair, toes and nose.  She will go get whatever you tell her to get from another room upon asking.  Yet, she's strong willed, determined, and stubborn.  Aren't we all?

We are having so much fun with her and enjoy dancing in the kitchen each night to blues or jazz music (her favorite).  I'm really looking forward to Spring and being outside more with her.  I'm so blessed to be her mommy... and know we have so many fun times ahead!