Sunday, January 31, 2010

stuffed mushrooms: stupid-easy

here again, a food i love but thought was way more complicated than it turned out to be. i lurve me some stuffed mushrooms. a LOT. seriously, i could eat them all day long and wouldn't get bored with them. i used this basic recipe from, but tweaked it (as always, right?!) and made it even easier. MY version:

Stupid-easy Stuffed Mushrooms

12 large mushrooms
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions
2 c cheese*
2-3 Tbsp butter, divided
1/4 c dry white wine (optional)

*whatever you have on hand, really. it helps if some portion is a soft cheese, but that's not even necessary. i used 1/4 c cream cheese and grated some leftover irish cheddar for the balance.

Preheat oven to 350*, spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Carefully stem the (clean, obviously--you're gonna eat them, right?) mushrooms and cut a small slice off the cap so they sit level without fallling over in the pan. Mince the stems and cap slices, set aside. Mince garlic and finely chop the green onion. Saute in butter and wine over low-medium heat until moisture is nearly gone, being careful not to burn the garlic. Transfer from pan into small mixing bowl and cool. (I cheated and stashed mine in the freezer for a couple minutes.) When cooled, add cheese and mix well to create a very thick mixture. spoon onto mushroom caps and arrange them in baking dish. Brush exposed mushroom tops with butter and bake for 20 minutes. I like the tops of my stuffed mushrooms a bit caramelized, so i broil them for an additional 2-5 minutes until slightly browned.

Then I dare you to keep these around longer than 5 minutes. They are so yummy, they disappear quickly!

erm, so quickly, in fact, that i didn't get a picture.

but costco has the mushrooms for super-duper cheap and i think i'll bring these to the superbowl party next weekend. maybe 3 batches. they DO go fast...

Friday, January 29, 2010

bye, bye, dreadies

you were loved. but there's something terribly unfair about telling a four year old that he can't roll around on the ground, do headstands, or otherwise put his hair near anything that may or may not get incorporated into the still-forming dreads. alas, we bid you a fond adieu after 2 full months of adoration. we may see you again on the other side of preadolescence, or whenever it is that he won't need to be told to not rub his head on the rug where dozer the dog lies down. at least, i hope someday he will be able to figure that out for himself. he really adored his dreads and was heartwarmingly proud of them, showing them to everyone he played with (even strangers at the library or parks). :sigh:

i have lots of thoughts on dreading and can basically say i LOVE knotty boy products and techniques. their products are all natural...which is not what i found to be the case with the products the loctician used when we had them started (and paid an arm and a leg for, btw). to wit: while i was taking out the locks this week, i was still combing out the glue-like substance she glopped on his hair at the 2nd appointment. ew. plus, i did a much better job of dreading and incorporating new growth, if i do say so myself. (i used a technique that works best for hair with a smoother cuticle since khary's hair is really smooth.) anyway, i digress.

here's my beautiful boy with his beautiful dreads, in mid-december:

...and this is him now, having bid his dreads bye-bye until some yet to be determined future time when he is no longer rolling around on the ground and playing like a healthy four year old. i've got to say, i did miss these curls:
 ...and again i find myself babbling about khary to the exclusion of the most adorable 22 month old in the whole wide world, so here's a pic of him from this week:
khalil, playing in the cubbies at khary's xtreme gymnastics homeschool gymnastics class thursday afternoon. our friend eden is on the left, and eoin is on the right.

Monday, January 25, 2010

this and that

Here are a few glimpses into that which  we've been keeping ourselves occupied these past couple days. Without cable, we really DO find more time in our days for productive things!

Khary used the Handwriting Without Tears letter-building blocks to write his name Sunday afternoon

He also decided to create a rocket ship out of random craft supplies. (Note the solid rocket boosters, which "fall back to earth when they're used up so they can be recycled," as Khary always points out.)

This evening, he decided to use his scale to see how heavy a Matchbox firetruck was. When he found out it didn't take much water to balance it, he switched to big wooden blocks so he could use more water. I LOVE this scale!)


 Khalil, just being a goof. He's got a snotty cold, so his poor little nose is all red. During his second wind tonight, he decided it was perfectly appropriate to sit inside a wine box and play his piano.

...and we started making the pinecone bird feeders we've been planning for a month now, but that's for another blog post. I'm making it into part of our whole winter celebration, so I'll prattle on about that when we're finished. ...stay tuned...

Friday, January 22, 2010

teacher brother

after a very brief excursion to a nearby park, the boys and i came slinking back home for lunch. khary taught khalil how to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich:


and a shot of khalil at franklin park today:
(oh wait, before you ask, he has several layers of clothes on under that jacket; it was 43*)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

domestic goddess in the making?

chicken and dumplings--FROM SCRATCH

I've never attempted chicken and dumplings before--just didn't think i'd be able to make the dumplings properly. besides, didn't i need to make my own chicken stock, and wasn't that a pain in the ass? well, monday i decided to make some stock--which,  incidentally, is super-friggin easy, particularly with a crock pot at your disposal. after letting it cool and putting boys to bed, i pulled off the meat and strained the stock. unfortunately for my grand plans, the carcass (and wings and neck) only yielded less than half a pound of meat, so "plain" chicken and dumplings was no longer in the cards.

after waiting a day (okay, not intentionally--yesterday was a clingy, whiny boy day and i needed a nap when daddy got home), i decided to just add some vegetables and beans to it and give it a go. here's the recipe i made up:

Chicken and Dumplings, raegan-style
1 c diced carrots
.5c diced celery
.5c diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
.5 t tarragon
.5 t crushed rosemary
1 T olive oil
1 c dry white wine
6-8 cups chicken broth
2 c pinto beans, cooked
.5 - 1lb shredded chicken (to add after dumplings)

In a saute pan, stir together carrots, celery, and wine over  medium heat until most of the wine is cooked off. To a preheated dutch oven (or soup pot), add the olive oil, then garlic an onion, cooking until the onion is translucent or beginning to caramelize. add the carrots and celery, continuing to stir, until onions are caramelized. Add the chicken stock, dried herbs and beans, and bring to a boil. Now it's time to make the dumplings.

I used the dumpling portion of this recipe, which follows (with my minor alterations):

2 – Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 – Teaspoon Salt
5 – Tablespoons Butter
1 – Egg
1/2 – Cup Whole Milk

Mix your flour, salt, egg, butter and milk in a stand mixer or hand mixer. Continue to mix until a ball forms. Separate into two portions, place a portion between two sheets of waxed paper, and roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and use a pizza cutter to cut your dough into bite size pieces. If you feel creative try cutting out small circles, squares or diamond patterns.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Drop dumplings *one at a time* into boiling broth, ensuring that they submerge. Add all of your dumplings to the broth.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add chicken and simmer until chicken is heated….your dumplings are now ready to serve.

that's it. it's surprisingly fast. and super-easy to keep the ingredients on hand in the freezer. i'm pretty sure every time we get a rotisserie chicken from costco or i make my crockpot rotisserie-style chicken (from which this stock was made), i'll save the carcass and wings to make some stock and probably chicken and dumplings. i actually like that it stretches a small amount of meat into an entire hearty meal for the whole family. and the dumplings had great texture. and to think, it took 14 years of living away from my mom to give them a try!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tornado Shelter

khary made this tornado shelter yesterday after watching "rescue heroes" on qubo. you can't really tell it from the picture, but he saved several action figures (and their motorcycle) from the huge tornado. they're in the middle of that mass of blocks in the box. it was cute at the time, anyway.

(and apparently we're going through a no-shirt phase...)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

day at the museum, or intro to taxis and trains

we went to the field museum today. OH EM GEE i want to live there. khary was so fascinated with the ancient americas exhibit, the first one we saw. we ate lunch at mcdonald's (ick. oh, pardon me exorbitantly expensive ick--$15 for a happy meal and a value meal. wtf? oh, btw, it didn't even have dr pepper. those bastards! i had a root beer.)

then we saw the ancient egypt exhibit, featuring about a dozen or so actual mummies. the kids weren't particularly impressed, but i thought it was very cool.

sue, khary, khalil

the field museum is the home of sue, the largest, most complete, best preserved t.rex anywhere. they also have a hall of dinosaurs that is part of a larger exhibit called "evolving planet," which is AH-MAZING!! you walk though half of a whole level of the museum, winding though time--from the beginnings of the planet earth through today. each time section features the plant and animal life from that era, transitioning via the mass extinctions that took place. it's the sort of experiential exhibit that really puts the tiny human blip of existence in perspective.

posing with the triceratops

they also have replicas of lucy and turkana boy, in addition to some "touch and feel" models of hands and heads of hominids from lucy through modern humans. they were very cool. khary enjoyed touching all the hands and even gave the "lucy" ones several big hugs, lol!

lucy's touch and feel models

during the bulk of this time, lenore was literally sick and tired, so after the hall of dinosaurs (during which she began to cry because they were all dead), kenna took her to a different area and she took a nap while khary, khalil, and i spent another hour in the "evolving planet" exhibit. well, khalil slept almost the whole time...

then the museum was closing and we got a snack, then headed outside to grab a taxi, which navigated downtown rush hour traffic expertly, and dropped us off at the blue line subway station. outside of downtown, it's an "L" or elevated train line (for which chicago is famous, of course). so the boys were enthralled with both their first taxi ride and train ride. i think khary understands the beauty of real public transit. ;)

poor lenore still doesn't feel well

the boys (illegally) snacking on the el

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2 adults & 3 kids on a bus for 10 hours

last week, my friend kenna and i got an offer we couldn't refuse: a FREE trip on the megabus to chicago to visit our good friend katje. it was perfect--we'd leave kc around lunchtime on tuesday, arrive in chicago before 10pm, have 3 full days to visit and see some sights before departing saturday morning and returning home saturday night. 4 tickets worked for 2 adults, 2 4-year-olds and a 21-month-old. (kids 2 and under didn't need a ticket, but didn't get a seat.)

it was much better than it could have been, but it was still a 10-hr trip with 3 kids. so, you know, less delightful than you might imagine.

some images of our journey to chicago...

getting settled in...

Lenore takes her seat

after switching seats to ones with a table...(khary took his shirt off because he got hot)

Khary and Lenore sacked out in somewhere in southern illinois

Saturday, January 9, 2010

emollients et al

i made a homemade body cream the other night since my lotion, though much loved during the time of year during which the temp is regularly above 50 degrees, just ain't cutting it in this dry, dry, bitter cold. it was my first "go" at anything except deodorant and a brief dabbling at a friend's house in lip balm, but i think it went rather well. what i used:
2 parts cocoa butter
1 part shea butter
1 part coconut oil
.5 part Knotty Boy Dreadlock Wax*
2 drops lavender essential oil
*while waxing and rolling khary's dreads, i discovered that this stuff is amazing at moisturizing my hands and it has some serious staying power because of the beeswax. it's also all-natural, which is one of the main reasons i decided to use it on khary's hair, and smells wonderful. as i looked at the bowl i used to melt all my stuff together, i decided i needed another, more solid, addition, and it certainly fit the bill, so in it went! (which, btw, is why the proportions are all off, in case you wondered...)

after my bath last night, i slathered on this greasy goop with some trepidation that i was only going to manage to get my pajamas all gross and greasy without adding a bit of moisture to my parched skin. i awoke to more supple skin and non-stained pj's. sweet! it wasn't a one-shot deal; i'll need to keep at it and use it every night for my hands, especially. i think i'll add more wax and/or cocoa butter next time, and probably skip the coconut oil altogether. since i'm currently broke and refuse to put poison on my skin and have the basic ingredients for most body products, i think it's pretty damn awesome that i successfully concocted a body cream for zero expense.

go. me.

partially-cooled body cream

notice i mentioned deodorant above? i used angry chicken's recipe, only substituting arrowroot powder for half of the cornstarch, and poured it into a deodorant stick so i could use it even more easily. all was well and good until i developed a rash about a month into using it. a mean, mean rash. it looked like chemical burn. it ended up being because i have more sensitive skin than most, and the baking soda just makes that recipe so alkaline that my skin fuh-REAKED out. the same thing happened when i used oyin handmade's funk butter a year ago; also because of the baking soda, i presume. heartbreaking in both instances, since they worked like MAGIC. well, except for that red, raw, peeling skin thing. so  my search for the magic bullet deodorant began. and i found it, believe it or not. if the other stuff was magic, this is MIRACULOUS. terra naturals makes deodorant that is GOOD for you. GOOD FOR YOU--for real. and it works like...well, a miracle. besides all the other good stuff, i think one of the main reasons for its miracle-worker status is the prebiotics in it, which feed and promote the beneficial bacteria on your skin, thus helping those good guys outcompete the stink-producing bad guys. (even my husband LURVES him some terra naturals, and he has to stifle his scoffs at my attempts to minimize chemical/toxic exposure for our family.)

moral of the story? you don't  have to compromise your health OR your hygiene to be clean and green.

chili redux (and wine?)

thursday evening, i made chili for supper, no big woop. recipe:
1/2 large onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1lb ground beef
2 pkts chili seasoning
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 c cooked brown rice
pinch thyme
dash nutmeg
dash cinnamon* (*i think i'll omit this next time; i'm just not made for Cincinnati-style chili, i guess)
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
4 Tbs brown sugar
add water to achieve desired consistency

i split that batch into two--in one container, i added 2 c pinto beans. the other i put straight into the freezer, and will add beans (either black or pinto), if necessary, when we eat it. that batch we ate was pretty good--even dawud ate it without complaining. but we had tons left, even with the others in the freezer!

the beef is from a local organic farm that pastures its cattle; plus, by splitting the batch into two, we reduced the amount of meat we consume at a sitting without sacrificing protein since i added beans and (organic) brown rice.  and if you wanna talk "green"-ness, making multiple batches at once--not just the chili, but i also bulk cook my rice and beans--uses the same amount of energy as cooking one batch, plus only a little more to re-heat your frozen portion.

so tonight, after a week's worth of errands saved up for one (warm-ish?) day, when we were at a loss for supper, i had an epiphany: CHILI CHEESE FRIES!!!! we're talking divine intervention here. so i cut up some potatoes, fried 'em up, poured the heated up leftover chili on them, topped with cheese, and voila! supper. not just plain supper--novel supper, tasty supper, perfect supper to accompany some football playoffs.

okay, so i didn't think to take a pic until mine was almost gone. so this is what you get. it may not *look* good, but let's face it, chili cheese fries aren't really visual art. but you can tell by the nearly-cleaned plate that it sure as hell tasted good, right?!

also, one of my saved-up-because-of-the-never-freaking-ending-snowstorms-and-dangerous-cold from this week was to pick up my january case of wine from cellar rat wine merchants (happy birthday to ME!). and since i won't need ALLLLLL TWELVE bottles for my host month for wine club, i took an inventory and decided the Quinta do Casal BrancoTinto should be my wine of the week. uncorked, poured, allowed to breathe a bit, and omg, i am a new fan of portuguese wines. this stuff is so good--true to its notes (click above on "january case"), and soooo soft with just enough bite and complexity to keep you coming back for more.

not the recommended accompaniment to chili cheese fries, but whatevs.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

quinoa risotto

trying this tonight; no idea if it'll turn out yummy or not, but i need to use my quinoa!

edit: THIS ROCKS!! i think i'll add a cup of white wine instead of water next time, though.
(even dawud raved about it. khary wouldn't touch it, unfortunately. odd, b/c i KNOW he'd devour it if he tried it.)

i served it with crockpot "rotisserie" chicken and mustard-brown sugar-glazed carrots. it was all thrown together quickly, but the meal went together really well! :)

Quinoa Risotto

* 1 cup quinoa
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 cup vegetable broth
* 1 cup skim milk
* 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
* 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Rinse and drain quinoa three times, using a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter outer coating.

Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring constantly. Add garlic and quinoa and continue stirring a minute or two. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 10-12 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Add cheese and let stand a few minutes, so risotto can thicken.

Serves 6.

Quinoa Risotto with Italian Cheese: An Italian-inspired vegetarian quinoa recipe

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ice Terrace-Khary's First Time

i took khary to the crown center ice terrace this afternoon. it was his first time skating and MY first time in at least 15 years. surprisingly, the only time *i* fell was when he pulled me down (for fun). not surprisingly, khary had as much fun lying down on the ice and scooting on his hands and knees as he did skating.

and boy can that kid skate! with his newly blackened eye (no idea where it came from, but i suspect a pretend rescue from his bunk bed) and helmet, he TOTALLY looked like a hockey player.

my favorite part of the afternoon, though, was when he was finished & sat down. i wanted to take a couple more laps, and he cheered for me as i skated around and around, lol! "go mommy! yay, mommy, yeah! wooooo!" :)

ps-all photos are from my palm, so they're kinda small, which is a good thing, given that they're only 2mb, i think. ;)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

oh, and also...

i want to start the wheels turning on organizing a hiking group at swope park. ppl are paranoid of going to swope park, despite its absolutely gorgeous hiking trails and central location. (gasp! it's in teh city, though...)

yeah, so i think that'll be one of my homeschool co op offerings: hiking in the city.

i hereby resolve...

here are just some ideas about what i want to accomplish in the next few months. not necessarily resolutions, per se.

back when i got all knocked up and shit with khary, i was in the MPA (Master of Public Administration) program at UMKC. all the nausea, sleeping 12+ hours/day, etc, prompted me to opt for "incomplete" status in three of my courses. the only things i needed to do for each of the classes was finish one more paper. 3 papers total, for those keeping track. so sadly, i'm only 3 papers shy of a master degree. not that i'm going to go off and quit my current gig as a SAHM, but i want to mark that goal off my "to do" list, yk?

2. Become a Runner Again
in my journey to regain "runner" status this past year, i managed to have a fabulous first trail run in years. until i broke my ankle, anyway. so i got to spend most of the summer on my duff and hopped up on pain pills. (okay, i wasn't on the pain pills for *that* long, but July 18 to August are pretty hazy.) once this cough i have is gone, i'm hitting the elliptical in the basement in order to get my body and my ankle back into running form. i won't break any records (hopefully no more bones, either!), but just being able to get out on the trolley trail for a jaunt whenever i feel the need to burn off some energy/frustration will be so welcome.

3. Get on Top of My Food Allergies
i am 99% certain i am allergic to wheat/gluten, but there are other allergies going on that i haven't been able to pinpoint. in the next week or two, i'm getting my blood test for 200 foods/additives so i can make healthier choices. last year, when i was gluten free for several months, i happened to lose about 15lbs without "trying." i imagine something similar will happen whenever i figure out what foods i can eat without triggering some serious and chronic immune problems.

4. Calm the HELL down
i yell a lot. too much. i feel bad about it, but that doesn't fix the problem. we got a "nonviolent communication" guide and workbook that are already helping a little bit, and all i've done so far is read some of the guide. there are several other families who have the book with whom i hope to form a study and practice group.

and that's what i've got for now. i think that's more than enough.

urban window garden

i want.

fo realz, tho. i have thought that the sidelights at the front door needed *some*thing to provide camouflage from the outside since before we moved in. we tried standing planters, but they got knocked over.

the new solution: hanging hydroponic planters for growing FOOD, by golly. FOOD!

and i think i could manage to keep the damned squash bugs and borers away from them.