Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recipe Reviews-Day: Easy Cheesy Crackers

Welcome to the first installment of Recipe Reviews-Day. These posts is where, as the name implies, I will review a recipe that I have made for my family. I am not one to create my own recipes; not at this point in my life right now anyway. The recipes have to meet our whole-food standards of eating. We don't prescribed to any one diet such as gluten-free, paleo, veganism, etc., but we do try to minimize processed foods as much as possible. Do we eat the occasional processed cracker, candy, or stop at a fast-food chain. Sure, life happens. But with some planning we can make those times few and far between. Without further ado, here is the first review.

This recipe can be found at 100 Days of Real Food.

Ingredients
  1. 1 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 5 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  3. 1.5 cups (4 ounces) of block cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Shred your block cheese with the food processor and set aside 1.5 cups of cheese. This step is make sure you have the right amount of cheese. If you're okay with the amount, keep the cheese in the bowl and skip Step 4.
  3. Add the 1 cup of flour to the food processor bowl.
  4. Add back the shredded cheese.
  5. Add the butter.
  6. Turn the processor ON and let it run for several minutes until the ingredients come together to form a ball.
  7. Turn the dough out on wax paper.
  8. Roll into a log and cut very, very thin discs from the log or roll very flat and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
  9. Place on un-greased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 8-14 minutes.
Review
  1. I used 0.5 cups of 100% whole wheat flour and 0.5 cups of white whole wheat flour along with mild cheddar cheese as that's what we had in our cheese drawer. 
  2. Make sure you shred your own cheese because the pre-shredded cheese in the store comes with anti-caking agents that are unnecessary in your diet.
  3. This recipe lends itself WONDERFULLY to having the kids help in the kitchen.
  4. We rolled the dough into a log and then cut slices like one does with slice-n-bake cookies. Next time we will use small cookie cutters after rolling the dough very thin.
  5. Many of the comments said these crackers were more of a cookie than a cracker, so I upped the baking time to 20 minutes. Our crackers were crisp, even with a thickness greater than I would have liked.
  6. I added a sprinkling of salt, paprika, and garlic powder to the mixture.
  7. The consistency in my mouth was a cross between a cookie and cracker and the taste had a strong cheesy aftertaste, even with the mild cheddar used.
  8. The boys didn't care for these crackers, but I did. I LOVED them. They are simply wonderful dipped into salsa.
These crackers were so easy to make that I will make them again and use a sharper cheddar cheese and a more kid-friendly shape. I can almost guarantee that Adam will like them with dip.  For those wondering about gluten-free, check out this recipe review from Life With The Whites. Some pictures from our cooking fun are below.






Monday, April 14, 2014

HBH: Good 'Til The First Drop

<||| HOME BUILD HAPPY |||>

Today was the day that determined how the rest of our building process would go. It was the percolation test to determine which septic system we would have to install for our new home. After three re-schedules due to rain, we read that it was to rain in the afternoon again today. While we weren't feeling devastated, disappointment sure was there as the test was scheduled for noon. Spring weather, much like any and all other weather, is quite unpredictable and we were saying a little prayer for God to keep the rain to Himself for a couple of hours.

Boy, did He pull through!!

After I was able to put Brub down for a late nap at 1 o'clock, Duders and I headed down to the testing site. Still no rain, but it looked like the clouds were about to open at any moment. At the site, we met my father-in-law and Mr. Ray Calvert, the man administering the test. After the proper introductions, I was delighted and relieved to hear that the test "went very well today." However, the test wasn't completed quite yet, I hadn't heard the actual words of You Passed, and the clouds were getting darker and darker. Duders and I began to walk about the woods as Ray and my father-in-law talked. Jumping over muddy deer paths, looking at the stream, and trying to dodge the jaggers we began to feel some sprinkles.

I asked Duders if he felt that, he said yes and knew what it meant. We scurried up to where my father-in-law and Ray were standing to find them pouring the buckets of water out on the ground. Test over. Ray, {thankfully}, looked up and excitedly told me to tell Adam that we're the proud owners of a "passed perc test" and explained the next steps in the process. I couldn't wait to get home and call Adam at work.

After one year of starting this HBH process, we are well on our way to officially becoming home builders!!

Happy Monday & {Happy Perc Test}!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flying, Jumping, Baking, and Holes

Once again, I've let the blog lapse longer than I had intended. Life. Funny how it gets in the way of itself. A lot has happened in those two weeks. I do have plans to post more regularly with a recurring theme on certain days. It's more of a way to keep my own thoughts in order, but hopefully it can help out someone else out there in the interwebz as well. I'll be back in another post for those themed-posts details.
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{A Birthday} Happy 32 years to this girl! Adam got me tickets to a Jack Johnson concert at the same venue we saw him over 5 years ago. Aside from getting super-thoughtful-hubby points, he got bonus points because it's the same performer and venue that we heard Brub's name. Plus, part of my present was babysitting so the trip will be kid free. Woooo to the whooooo! Thirty-two never felt so good.

 

{Birth Doula Training} I'm officially a trained birth doula and I hope my excitement was properly conveyed in my three-part post about my first birth. I have another birth coming up at the end of April and I'm grateful to be working with one of the most supportive doulas ladies I know as my mentor. More on doula-ing here.

{A First Birthday} Adam and the boys help a dear friend ring in her second year on this Earth by celebrating all that happened the previous 365 days. Friends, candies, and goody baskets...oh my!

{A Newly Discovered Park} As the weather keeps getting warmer and warmer, we have this insatiable urge to be outdoors more and more. All of us. The winters months saw us in our jammies until 10 o'clock or later. While the same {might} be true in spring or summer, you can bet we'll have been outside for some time by that point of the morning. And better yet, we might even have our day-clothes on already!

{Our First Successful Kite Flying Session} A huge field that is part of our yard. A very windy afternoon complete with sunshine. Free kites won at the kid-themed bingo party several weeks ago. Hay bails on which to jump to and fro on when the kite flying got old.






{Playing With School Friends At Home} Duders has a school friend that is probably his best buddy aside from Brub. He talks about him at home, plays with him at school, and we've even been to his bowling birthday party. It was time to have some good ol' fashion boys-playing-in-the-mud-and-dirt play time here on the farm. Duder's school friend also has a younger brother, so all four of them just love getting together and pretending within their own world. Mom and I get some adult interaction, so it's definitely a win-win for everyone involved.

{Homemade Cookies} We no longer purchase processed baked goods, snacks, crackers, or cookies. There are some exceptions, but very few. I have even convinced sweet-toothed Adam and he has found that he is quite the accomplished baker. Sorry ladies, he's mine! It was Brub's turn to "help" Dad with this batch of cookies. We don't have any allergies in our family, so we tend to use the all-purpose flour to dust the counter.




{The Animals Want Outside, Too}





<||| HOME BUILD HAPPY |||>

Adam and his dad got the ground ready for the percolation, or perc, test this past week. It consisted of digging holes in the ground with a post hole digger to a particular depth, filling the holes with a bit of stone, graduating the hole with nails, and finally filling the holes with a volume of water. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy all week long and the perc test was put off for yet another week. Hopefully this upcoming week will see the test completed with a {pass} stamp of approval.



The boys had a great time in the great outdoors while their dad talked with a family friend about home-build-happy stuff.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Catching Spring

Hooray!! Spring has finally....slightly popped. What a bummer. Just as we think we're out of cold's death grip, it rears its ugly head and bites us hard. {Thankfully} it has only been for a day here and there, but our family is completely done with winter. So much so that the Monday after the first warm weekend, my boys actually cried because it was too cold to go outside and play. In the low 20's cold...after a mid to high 50's kind of weekend. I wanted to cry too, truth be told. I love to see them outside playing in the dirt, stones, and pretending they're in their Make Believe. That and I am pretty tired of making them watercolor for the umpteenth time.

Around St. Paddy's Day we didn't do all the crafts I had picked out, but we did manage one activity in addition to the Sunbeam Catchers we made. Amid all of the crafts I found, this one was more learning activity than craft but that was just fine by me. Duders is learning to write his ABCs and 123s and has some of them mastered. The other letters and numbers he simply traced over my writing with his crayon. Then he finally let me know his annoyance with me as he was trying to work.

A special thank you to The B Keeps Us Honest for the free printables. Both worksheets hung on our fridge for weeks!



Keeping with the craft theme, but marrying to the friends-with-kids theme I came up with some creative card and package makings. Next weekend we have a first birthday party to attend. Kids' birthdays are wonderful for so many reasons other than the obvious celebratory shenanigans. They're a great way for the parents to get together and see each other. The kids are more or less left to roam around and let loose. The no-don't-do-that and stop-its are kept to a minimum. Party goers are a bit more laid back and enjoy the food and drink. We have several a year since most of our friends have babies growing into toddlers now. 

Though we look forward to them, I am cheap and birthday cards and wrapping paper are on my list of wasteful items to buy. The birthday boy or girl does not care about the card or if they do, not for long. As long as they can rip the paper, they're happy. So for this birthday girl, I decided to turn to my trusty old Sunday Comics, yarn, and a handmade card. We wrapped the package in comics, secured it with tape, and adorned it with yarn instead of ribbon. For the card, we did the following:

(but keep in mind that I opted for the superglue after I re-thought the Elmer's. I didn't want the glue to come through the button holes or not to stick.)


Since I won't be going to her party, but Adam and the boys will be I wanted to make sure I had the gift bought, wrapped, and ready for them ahead of time. I accomplished that and felt crafty in the doing-so. Win-win for a done-n-done. 

As the days flowed into each other, we had doctors' appointments, medical tests, preschool, spring programs, and most importantly....{SUNSHINE}!!! The temperature wasn't quite as warm as I would have liked, but it was clear that I didn't have to like it. The boys were okay with the temperature when I bundled them up and the sunshine hit their faces. Sunshine seriously cures so many of life's ailments. Cue the Vitamin D!! The number of tantrums decline, the fight at bedtime is almost non-existent, the daffodils start to pop up, and the digging commences!


And thanks to such a harsh Old Man Winter, our flower pots that usually see the arrival of spring nary a scratch are now ruined. Perhaps they can be re-purposed for some garden art or something to make my hubby shake his head. Maybe.


Both boys got into enough trouble for digging in Mimi's garden that they grew jaded with that day's outside playing. Not wanting them to come inside just quite yet, I had to think of what they could do so they wouldn't get into trouble. There comes a point when I tire of yelling at them because of frustration but also because I want them to able to be their own curious selves consequence free. Bubbles came to mind. Naturally, I was fresh out of bubbles. After I made a mental note to hit up the dollar store/make some Dawn bubble solution, I thought about Plan B aka sidewalk chalk and hoped that my stash was where I left it at the end of fall. It was and there was even some unopened packs. Woo to the Hoo!

We chalked it up outside. We learned that it breaks if you drop it. We learned that it's okay if it breaks. We learned about cleaning it up or the rain will "melt" it. We learned that we can make new pictures tomorrow. Furthermore, seeing my shadow cast this far made me happy. It was after dinner and close to bath time when I took this picture. Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. Just like John Denver.




 

The next chalking was slightly more involved. It included animals, watering hole, trees, shrubs, rocks, and desert area. Thank you Kratt Brothers for your wonderful cartoon Wild Kratts. My boys are obsessed with this show and have learned so much about such a variety of animals. PBS kids show are top-notch, but Wild Kratts is, pardon the expression, the bee's knees. 


And one last picture to reinforce that I do try to give the boys freedom to play as they wish. Every once in a while, however, they remind me that they are indeed 2 and 4 years old. And then I have to break out the {mom-voice} and show them the error of their ways. Complete with some tears most likely. And as much as it pains me, I'm okay with some tears now and again.

 

<||| HOME BUILD HAPPY |||>

The first hurdle in our home building process is complete. Our soil needed to be tested before we could perform our percolation, or perc, test. A worker from our local sewer authority came and probed the soil, took some measurements, performed some calculations and declared our testing soil {passed}. Now we have to dig our holes, fill them with water, and time how fast the water dissipates, or percolates, throughout the same soil. More on that test in a later post. Stay tuned!