Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Jesus

This Year was great because the "safari" were really into Christmas. The Jesse Tree was great and the "safari" loved the stories and placing the ornaments on the tree every day. Noel and I bought the other 11 Jesse Tree ornaments and now we have the complete collection. If you do not know what a Jesse Tree is or if you want some more information here is a link

If you are interested in a professional ornament set I recommend this website. Our ornaments will last us the entire life of our Children and hopefully their children as well. Now there are websites out there that will let you download free ornaments but if this is going to be a tradition in your house you might want to make the investment in nice ornaments.

It is great to know that we have some traditions for the Christmas season and it is neat to meet people that have different traditions. I am always looking for great traditions so if you have one please leave a comment. Our traditions are the Jesse Tree when they get a little older we will read the Christmas story on Christmas morning and we are hoping to make Christmas simple. We also went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. They had one service for families with kids and then a traditional service. I did not like the family service and was really disappointed that our church could not leave Santa Clause outside of the church. They did have a neat video that told the difference between the two but in the skit they had Santa Clause on stage.

Christmas morning the "safari" got up and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Here is the video.

It is the only birthday where other people get gifts and the guests get to blow out the candles. We hope that each of you had a Merry Christmas and that your New Year is going well so far.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simple Christmas

Noel and I have decided that we want to make Christmas about Jesus and less about stuff. Nana, Papa, Nana Gail, Poppy Bobby, and Pops have enough fun buying them things that we thought we would keep it simple. Last year I made them Quiet Books and this year I could not think of something to make, until about 1 month ago.

My "safari" got into the superhero thing with capes. Now I do not have capes in my house and so my kitchen dish towels became capes. That is fine in all if you do not have 5 toddlers wanting to be superheros all at once. So I looked online and found this great site that gave me a free pattern and I was off and running. I have made 11 of these capes and more to come in the next couple of months. The "safari" love them and like telling people that they can fly now. If you are thinking this would be a great birthday gift or party favor here is the site where I found the pattern.

I had fun making them and it was worth the "safari" flying into the sunset with them on Christmas.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My First Catering Job

Have you ever been to an event or done something put on by someone else and thought "I think that I could do that better?" I do not think that often but I did last year at the Christmas Party thrown by my husbands office. So i made a bid to cater the Christmas Party this year and won the bid. I had never cooked for 65 people before and really had to think through the whole thing. Now I do monthly cooking but we are not cooking the meals, but putting them together. I have to plan and prep all that and so that helped me with doing the catering. I asked my mother to help me as well.

The Menu was:

Cranberry infused Pot Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon
Two Salads
Parker House Rolls
Genoise Cake
Pumpkin Roll
Apple Strudel
Sweet and Unsweet tea

Here are some of the recipes:

Cranberry Infused Pot Roast & Gravy

Roast (3-5 lbs)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
cranberry juice
chili powder
garlic powder
salt and pepper
beef broth
corn starch

Rub the roast with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a frying pan put 2 tbsp oil and sear both sides of the roast. Place roast in crock pot. In a separate bowl add the cream of mushroom, fill the can with cranberry juice and mix together. Pour over roast. Cut one apple in half and put in crock pot, and slice one onion and put in crock pot. Cover the rest of the roast with beef broth. Put on high for 6-8 hours and on low overnight. When the roast starts to fall apart it is done. Remove the apple. Take the roast out and take 2 cups of the liquid and 1/2 cup of milk, and 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Whisk together and then add to pan and bring to a boil. Stir until thickened to the consistency that you like.

Mashed Potatoes

4 cups of frozen hash browns
1 box of herb and butter instant mash potatoes
4 oz cream cheese
1 stick of butter
4 oz Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 tsp of garlic powder, salt and pepper
2 cup boiling water
fried onions

Bring a pan of water to a boil and add the hash browns, cook for 5 minutes. In a large bowl add everything except the boiling water and fried onions. Heat the oven to 350. After the hash browns are done then save 2 cups of boiling water and drain the hash browns. Add the hash browns to the bowl and mix everything until well incorporated, make sure the cream cheese and butter are melted. Add the boiling water and stir until incorporated. Spray a 2 qt pan and add the mixture. Cook for 30-45 minutes. Add the fried onions on top and cook for 5 more minutes.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

8 slices bacon, (8 oz.) chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups sliced onions (2 to 3 large)
½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons pepper
1 ½ pound fresh Green beans
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup cider vinegar

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently. Drain on paper towels. Discard drippings from skillet; wipe clean with paper towels. (Bacon can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Heat oil in same skillet over medium heat until hot. Cook onions, salt and pepper, covered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as necessary. Uncover; cook 5 minutes or until light golden brown and very tender, stirring frequently. (Onions can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Cook beans in large pot of lightly salted water 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; cool under cold running water. Drain well. (Beans can be prepared 2 days ahead. Wrap in kitchen towel; refrigerate in resealable plastic bag.)

Just before serving, heat onions, beans and water in large skillet over medium-high heat until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar.

Meanwhile, spread bacon on paper towel-lined plate; microwave 1 minutes to re-crisp. Sprinkle over beans.

We made a tossed salad and then

Cranberry Spinach Salad

1 tbsp butter
3/4 cup almonds slivered
1 pound baby spinach
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a pan melt the butter and roast the almonds, remove and let cool. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.

Parker House Rolls

1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 1/2 to 8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for brushing
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

Bloom the yeast.

Measure out 1/2 cup warm water and check the temperature: It should be between 110 degrees F and 120 degrees F (comfortable bathwater temperature). Sprinkle the yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and whisk in the 1 tbsp of the sugar. Let sit 1 minute (it should bubble and froth slightly), then gently stir in 1 cup flour. Set aside near the stove while you prepare the dough.

Make the dough.

Mix the melted butter and milk in a mixer with the hook attachment on low speed. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Scrape in the yeast mixture and mix until incorporated. Add 6 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt and the rest of the sugar; mix until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky.

Let it rise.

Brush a large bowl with softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. The dough should double in volume.

Shape the dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a clean flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands; gently press the dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (don't use a rolling pin).

Cut the dough.

With the short side in front of you, cut the dough in half lengthwise with a floured knife. Then slice crosswise into 12 strips.

Shape the dough.

One at a time, fold each strip of dough unevenly in half so the top part slightly overlaps the bottom half, then tuck the overhang underneath. Place the rolls seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet in 3 tightly packed rows. (If making in advance, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 weeks.) Let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled

Bake the rolls.

Bake until the rolls are bursting at the seams and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (If frozen, bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F, then 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.) Remove from the oven and brush with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

After packing the car and looking at my messed kitchen we went and served the lunch. It was a huge success. I want to thank Nana Gail and Kimber for cleaning my kitchen and taking care of the "safari" while I served lunch. Also thank you mom for staying up late and hang in there with me. I hope that I am asked to do next years Christmas party. I am already thinking of what to serve.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas with Pops

When you get married you always want to see everyone for the holidays; well at least I do. I have been blessed to love and enjoy my in-laws. We went to see Pops in San Antonio the weekend before Christmas and Pops decided to give the "safari" their Christmas then.

The "safari" are at the age now when they do not totally understand asking for gifts but know how to open gifts better than anyone else. Pops got a real tree, put lights on the house and everything. The "safari" was totally thrilled and loved the gifts that they received. The big gift this year was tricycles. I found these really cool tricycles at Sams. Then Pops got the "safari" more Legos and then furry pets. Noel and I are okay with any pet that requires just batteries and no maintenance.

In the pictures you will see Noel putting Legos together. The truck is what I put together and it took me about 20 minutes to build and 20 seconds for Jacob to take apart. Thank you Pops for a wonderful Christmas. The "safari" love their gifts but love you more.

Noel and I received money. Noel bought phone accesories and things for his Firebird and I bought a new sewing machine that I had been looking at for about 4 months. Thank you. Well here are a few pictures of the "safari" playing with their new toys from Pops and riding their tricycles on the street they own now.