Because Life is Good

It's all about the little things…Sharing some of my favorite photos, recipes and memories.

Fun at the Crazy Woman Ranch July 27, 2012

Filed under: Life is Good — kmg2109 @ 9:33 am
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My cousin, Katie, has a dream homestead for any kid (or kid at heart). I am here with my daughter and nephew in Michigan to visit with her and other family and we’re having a great time. We pulled in late at night, so the kids didn’t get to see where we were, so they had a blast when we woke up and they discovered all of the animals here. Horses, pigs, chickens, bunnies, ducks, kittens, dogs and two litters of puppies- oh my!

Here are a few pictures of our adventure so far.

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Pinterest Gone Wild! July 21, 2012

Filed under: Let's Cook! — kmg2109 @ 10:14 pm
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So I’m on of those Pinterest users who drool over the pretty DIY projects and recipes, pinning pictures on boards that I am sure I’ll never go back to. Ever. That site is like crack- crazy addicting and a big time suck. Alas, I am determined to make some of the recipes from the pictures I like to refer to as “Food Porn”. We had a dinner at a friends house this weekend, with a group of fellow foodies, so I dug up this recipe from Pinterest and got to work.

The cake was no joke- chocolate cake with homemade caramel, topped with cheesecake with peanut butter cups and caramel, then repeat the decadent combination a second time before topping it with a homemade chocolate ganache frosting? I’m in- albeit with an insulin shot in hand! Take note that the cake cost us almost $40 in ingredients to make. I don’t normally keep track, but I thought the amount of ingredients was quite comical. Here is a picture of some of the ingredients after shopping at Wegman’s.

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It took an entire bag of peanut butter cups, and the finished cake weighed in at around 10 pounds!

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The recipe was spot on. Just as long as you actually add the flour to the chocolate cake! I got a bit chatty with a friend and forgot the flour the first time- what a mess! The end result, however, was a chocolate peanut butter lovers dream. We sliced extra small slivers of this tall, decadent beauty.

Here are the four layers before frosting.

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And here is the final product. Yum!

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Our water slide is super fun! July 20, 2012

Filed under: Life is Good — kmg2109 @ 11:33 am
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Late night swimming! You can’t see much, but listen a few seconds in for the reaction of our friend going down the slide. Adult swim is fun. Priceless!

Click on the link to see the YouTube video- it’s worth the 25 seconds!

Adult Swim

 

Case of the Missing Tomatoes July 18, 2012

Filed under: Random — kmg2109 @ 9:27 pm
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So this year we are growing the best darn garden that can be grown on a deck. And by we, I mean Corey. He’s been out there every night, tending to tomato and pepper plants, along with basil, mint, chives, rosemary and other herbs that I wouldn’t recognize- what with the black thumb I was born with…

I’ve been getting excited about our first harvest of tomatoes, and we easily had 20 plus tomatoes on each plant… At least we did until troublemaker Logan got to them. He picked almost an entire plant clean of tomatoes, leaving us one lowly tomato and a pile of small unripe tomatoes.

Who wants fried green tomatoes?

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Benefits of a Drought July 12, 2012

Filed under: Life is Good — kmg2109 @ 7:31 pm
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A nice side benefit do a drought? It’s easy to spot the weeds to pick! Haha, now who will come pick them?

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Meatball Warehouse! July 9, 2012

Filed under: Life is Good — kmg2109 @ 9:46 pm
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This kid just LOVES his meatballs… And not just one meatball, TWO meatballs from the Spaghetti Warehouse. Ask Logan and he’ll gladly correct you that the restaurant is the “Meatball Warehouse”- sounds like a good place to me!

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Egg Rolls

Filed under: Let's Cook! — kmg2109 @ 5:26 pm
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We love to try different cuisines at our house, especially asian-inspired dishes.   In fact, we love it so much that we have an entire kitchen cabinet dedicated to Asian cooking.   Can you say yum?   So, since we had extra water chestnuts on hand, and a package of wonton wrappers (because who doesn’t have these on-hand all of the time?!?), we quickly settled on making Chicken Lettuce Wraps inspired from P.F. Chang’s, along with some Pork Egg Rolls from a recipe I got from a friend a while back.    The combination not only looked great spread out on our dining room table, but it tasted wonderful as well.     The egg rolls make a great party appetizer too!  Are you hungry enough to cook yourself yet?


      

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Cup water chestnuts
  • 2/3 Cup mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp chopped onions
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 head of boston bib lettuce or iceberg lettuce
Special sauce:
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp hot mustard
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1-2 tsp garlic and red chile paste
Stir Fry Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  1. Make the special sauce by dissolving sugar in water in a small bowl.  Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.   Mix well and refrigerate the sauce until you’re ready to serve.
  2. Combine the hot water with the mustard and set this aside as well.    You’ll eventually add your desired measurement of mustard, and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps or dip them in.
  3. Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
  4. Saute chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until done.   Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
  5. Meanwhile, mince the water chestnuts and mushrooms to the size of small peas.
  6. Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
  7. When chicken is cool, mince it the same size as the mushrooms and water chestnuts.
  8. Turn your pan on high heat, add another Tbsp of oil.
  9. Add the chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.
  10. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and sauté the mixture for a few minutes until everything is evenly heated and mixed.
  11. Serve chicken mixture in lettuce “cups” and top or dip with your mixture of special sauce.

Pork Egg Rolls:   (Makes approximately 50 small egg rolls)

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 bag of Asian slaw.  If you can’t find this, it would be about 3-4 cups of asian vegetables such as diced up napa cabbage, celery, and carrots
  • 1 can of water chestnuts finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp Soy sauce (it should feel well mixed together but not soupy)
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg for sealing wontons
  • Vegetable oil for flying
  1. Mix the turkey, vegetables, water chestnuts and soy sauce by hand in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk egg in a bowl to use on edges of wontons to get a clean seal.
  3. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and place it at one corner of the wrapper.
  4. Start folding from the same corner pulling in the sides as you go -the egg on the sides should make it stick
  5. Cover the bottom of the frying pan with oil and let heat
  6. Fry, approximately 3-4 minutes, to cook.

Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.   A peanut sauce goes well.

 

Taming the Paper Monster July 7, 2012

Filed under: Organizing Chaos — kmg2109 @ 9:53 pm
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I’m in publishing, so I am well aware that we have entered the digital age, but by judging by the stack of papers from my daughter, you would tend to not agree.  Enter Exhibit A.

Exhibit A:  Katelyn’s stack of Kindergarten papers, which have already been weeded out throughout the year!

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So how does one tame a pile of paper this large to pull out the special ones for keepsake?  Go digital of course!   I started a special tradition in preschool last year that I plan on doing it every year with my kids.

Grab your camera or scanner, your stack of papers and go crazy!   I started by taking a picture of Katelyn with her graduation certificate and her pile of papers (doesn’t she look so proud?)  We then sorted through the massive pile together, to whittle the pile down to about 10-15 pieces of artwork that needed to be kept for her keepsake box.   We took pictures of special pieces, along with samples of writing and drawing, totaling about forty to fifty.   Someday I’ll put all of these pictures of the masterpieces into a digital photo book for Katelyn to keep.

My final pile fits nicely into a file folder for her keepsake box.

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Some of my favorite pieces of artwork: 

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Summer Brunch

Filed under: Let's Cook! — kmg2109 @ 12:02 pm
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We had a nice summer brunch here this morning, and indulged in some Spinach Quiche and homemade granola- what a scrumptious combination!

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Granola:
– 3 Cups rolled oats
– 1 Cup cut almonds
– 1 Cup cashews
– 1 Cup raisins
– 1/4 Cup and 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
– 1/4 Cup and 2 Tbsp maple syrup
– 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
– 3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In large bowl, mix oats, nuts and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, mix salt, oil and maple syrup. Combine both bowls together and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Bake an hour and 15 minutes. Put granola in a bowl and mix in raisins. Let cool and then store for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Feel free to substitute whatever nuts you prefer!

Spinach and Cheese Quiche:
– 1 prepared pie crust
– 1 box frozen chopped spinach
– 1 and 1/3 Cup French Fried Onions
-1 and 1/3 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
– 8 oz Sour Cream
– 9 eggs
– 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
– 1 Tbsp brown mustard
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. prepare pie crust in a 9 x 13 pan, or a regular size pie pan and a smaller pie pan or dish. Whisk together all ingredients except onions and cheese. Sprinkle onions and cheese on bottom of dish(es), and pour egg mixture over the top until it is about 3/4 of the way up the dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and the middle does not jiggle.

 

Poolside by Moonlight

Filed under: Life is Good — kmg2109 @ 9:36 am
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Poolside by Moonlight

Why clean the pool in the hot day when you can clean it by pool light and moonlight? I love this shot I snuck up on of Father and Daughter bonding over the pool.