Thursday, April 21, 2011


Happy birthday to a Super Seven-year-old!!! Today is an exciting and special day! I hope you celebrate in style. (Actually, I know you will, because I've got some surprises in store!)

Lily celebrated her birthday with friends last weekend at the roller rink! It was a great time (except for the smell in the roller rink, which I thought smelled like thirty years of stinky, sweaty, smelly feet!) It isn't easy to take pictures of 20 kids on roller blades and skates, whizzing past me in the dark rink with strobe lights. I like how some of these action shots look blurry and give the feeling of quick movement...

If you look closely, you will see Lily and her aunt out there with a handful of Lily's friends...

I couldn't capture all of the kids who came out on the rink, so I focused on my own...

Lily was blessed to have a homemade birthday cake. My friend, Ter, used to bake custom cakes for sale, but has decided to only do it for close friends and family now. She made this amazing Rapunzel (from Tangled) cake for Lily!

The circles around the sides that have the number 7 in them are actually bracelets!

This cake not only looked adorable, but it was the most delicious birthday cake I have ever eaten!!! The kids and parents at the party thought it was amazing!!! Lily felt so special! More birthday pics of today's events to come...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

A friend of mine gave me a recipe for chicken chili stew, which I adapted for the slowcooker, by thickening it up with beans and corn. Enjoy!!

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

1.5 cups chicken broth

3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 jalapenos

1 red bell pepper

1 carrot, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 can of corn

1 can black beans

1 can of white beans (cannellini or garbanzo)

2 handfuls of fresh cilantro

Shredded cheddar cheese

Macaroni or shell noodles, optional

Sour cream, optional

  1. Add all ingredients above (except sour cream) and only one handful of cilantro to crock pot. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder.

  2. Heat on low heat for 6-8 hours.

  3. When finished, shred chicken with 2 forks, stir ingredients and ladel into bowls.

  4. Top with shredded cheddar, remaining cilantro, macaroni noodles and sour cream.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Finding THE dress

Sunday was a momentus day in my sister's life. She found it. The one. It was perfect. It was soooo her. It was completely non-traditional (much like her). This was the first dress she tried on and we knew immediately that it wasn't THE one. Was this the perfect dress? It was so, very figure flattering, but nope. It's not this one either.
This one was cute, but all of that "rouching" and those "pick-me-ups" were definitely not for Jackie.
We liked this one-shoulder dress. It was quite minimizing, but it wasn't perfect.
Which one was the perfect dress? Well, I can't give it away, now, can I? You'll just have to wait a few months to see. What I will tell you is that it is completely non-traditional and very Jackie.

How did we celebrate finding THE One? She got to ring a bell and make a wish at the bridal store, to which everyone cheered. Then we went out for a margarita-sangria swirl!!! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Bunny Cake

When I was a kid, each year on Easter, my mom would make a cute bunny cake. As we got older, she stopped making it. So this year, my sister, Jackie asked me to make a special bunny cake for her, just like the ones mom used to make. So, I started with two round white cakes. One cake served as the head. From the other cake I cut out the ears, leaving what looked like a bow tie. I arranged the pieces to look like a bunny, frosted everything white and decorated it. I tinted some coconut pink and added it to the ears. I used purple and blue sprinkles for the bow tie. The mouth, nose and eyes were made from Starburst jelly beans. The eye brows and whiskers were drawn with black tube frosting gel. It was delish!! My other sister wanted me to buy lamb butter, but I had to draw the line somewhere. LOL What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mock Easter

Our family will not be together on Easter this year, so we decided to celebrate Easter last weekend. We dyed eggs, had an egg hunt and gathered together with family. The Easter bunny did not come, but mom filled in and put together some fun baskets for the kids! Here are a few shots of the lovely day...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend with Family

My grandfather's memorial service was this weekend and it was a beautiful tribute to a really amazing man. I had never been to a memorial service or wake for someone who had been in the military. 2 service people came in uniform to the funeral home and played taps in the background while they unfolded and refolded the American flag. Then one of the servicemen presented the flag to my mom (his eldest child) and explained the significance of the flag. I don't remember everything that was said (I should probably do some research and find out, so I can type it up and save it). I remember something about 13 folds in the flag to represent the original 13 colonies. There are 3 corners to represent the 3 levels of government. It was interesting and such a moving tribute. The dinner afterwards was lovely as well: The night before, we got together with a bunch of out-of-town family members and headed over to Rock Bottom Brewery for some good food, good drinks and good company!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gorgonzola Steaks

Gorgonzola Steaks

4 beef tenderloin steaks, 1.5 inches thick (I actually used filets because they were on sale at my grocery store)


Salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 lb of gorgonzola cheese

Place a large, flat griddle over high heat. When hot, using a pair of tongs and a folded piece of paper towel, wipe the griddle with oil and place steaks on the hot pan. Carmelize both sides of the steak (about 2 minutes on each side). Reduce heat to moderate and cook 4-5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler to high.

Arrange steaks on a baking sheet and top each with about 3 ounces of gorgonzola. Just heat long enough to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and let meat rest for about 5 minutes, so the juices redistribute. I served with grilled mushrooms and steamed zucchini.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Merry Christmas Tree!!!

I just have to share with you the cutest thing that Zoey said yesterday. She pulled me over to the drawer where we keep the granola bars and fruit snacks, and she was saying something to me that I didn't quite understand. Keep in mind that this happens everyday to Jack. He is always asking me to translate because he doesn't understand her, but this rarely happens to me. It sounded like she was saying, "Merry Christmas Tree! Merry Christmas Tree!" So, in trying to figure out what she was saying I asked her, "Do you want a Christmas Tree?" And she got frustrated and said, "NO!!!! Merry Christmas Tree! Merry Christmas Tree!" I opened the drawer and looked inside and right on top was a wrapped Rice Krispie Treat! The lightbulb went off. "Do you want a Rice Krispie Treat?" I asked her! "Yes!!! She yelled," jumping up and down, "A Merry Christmas Tree!" Priceless!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Garbanzo Leek Soup

This is one of those "garbage soups" that I discovered when I decided to add whatever I had on hand and in the pantry to make soup! It turned out so delicious! Shel's Garbanzo Leek Soup

  • A handful of baby carrots, chopped

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced

  • one leek, halved lengthwise and diced

  • one half of a red onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • one 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans

  • 1 qt of chicken broth

  • 2 bay leaves

  • seasonings to taste ( I used Old Bay Seasoning, salt and pepper)

Heat a tablespoon of EVOO in a deep soup pot. Add garlic in cook for one minute. Add carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. Cover for 5 more minutes, stirring often. Uncover and add tomatoes, garbanzo beans and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, taste to adjust seasonings and simmer for 10 more minutes. Mmmmmmmm

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potato, Chicken and Leek Soup

The traditional Belgian name of this soup is Waterzooi de Poulet, but since I'm not Begian, nor do I speak it, I call it Potato, Chicken and Leek Soup. LOL Even though it has potatoes in it, it is really light. The kids like it too!

Potato, Chicken and Leek Soup

2 leeks

2 tbsp butter

2 carrots, minced or diced

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

parsley, chopped

6 cups chicken stock or broth

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces

1 cup heavy cream

1 large egg yolk

Cut leeks lengthwise and slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Separate and rinse several times in a colander under cold water to remove all of the sand and grit. Dry leeks with paper towels.

In a deep pot over medium heat, melt butter and saute the carrots, potatoes and leeks about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf and half a handful of parsley. Add stock, cover and bring to a boil. Add chicken, cover and reduce heat to low. Poach chicken for 10 minutes. Whisk cream and egg together. Whisk in a ladle of broth to tempet the mixture, then pour it into the soup. Adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle more parsley on top. Serve with warm, crusty bread for dipping.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Little Artists

I am so proud to announce that two of my children were featured in a local art show at Lincoln Way East High School. There were art pieces from teachers and students from all around the state showcased at the show. Only a handful of pieces were selected from my children's school and both of them had pieces of art chosen by their art teacher to be displayed. Some of the artworks were unbelievably good! I was so impressed. Unfortunately, Lily was unable to go to the event due to another conflicting event, but we took a picture of her displayed watercolor painting! Matt's was also a watercolor painting.
The proud artist stands beneath his featured artwork.
I was so very proud!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup crumbled fat free feta cheese

1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

This is a new family favorite for us. It is super easy and so tasty! Total time was less than a half an hour too! I cut this recipe out of a magazine awhile back and had been wanting to make it. It is going to become a part of our regular rotation because it was so yummy!

  1. Cut a "pocket" into each chicken breast, but horizontally slicing through the thickest part with a sharp knife. Don't cut all the way through, but create a pocket for stuffing.

  2. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup feta cheese and lemon peel. (I used a microplane and grated the lemon peel right into the bowl). Spoon mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese. I served with baked potato with yogurt on top (instead of sour cream) and steamed asparagus with lemon.

**Each serving of chicken has only 236 cals and 9 grams of fat, so this is a healthy choice for those of you, like me, who are trying to get into a smaller size bathing suit before Spring Break! LOL

Friday, April 1, 2011

Star Wars: Episode 7

What do you get when you cross a purple light saber and a blue light saber? A re-enactment of the Star Wars episode when Luke gets his arm cut off my Darth Vader.

Ah...sibling love!

Happy April!


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