Saturday, August 28, 2010

Awesome - I Mean Really Awesome Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars & Bites

I finally, FINALLY, finally found a homemade granola recipe that is incredibly delicious. I've tried making various breakfast bars and granola bars numerous times with no success. Judd would eat them, but none of the rest of us would touch them. That all ended when I found this recipe from Another Lunch blog. I included the flax seed meal she recommended and the mini chocolate chips made for a better consistency than regular chocolate chips. I hope you enjoy making these for your family as much as I did. They are fabulous!

Just link over to her blog here to make these delicious Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and Bites! Where she used six mini silicone cups for her Granola Bites, I just filled six of my regular cupcake pan cups 1/3 full and baked those for 12 minutes. They turned out perfectly. The pan of granola I baked for 18 minutes. It too turned out perfectly. This recipe is going to be a family favorite around here. I may add the optional peanut butter in our next batch. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day Back

This is Sophie's third year to attend a local Mommy's Day Out program. She goes twice a week and loves interacting with other kids, learning, and playing. Music is probably her favorite part of the day, but she also enjoys art and playing on the playground. Her teachers are incredible! Love pours out of them as they hug each little one that comes into the classroom. I'm very excited for this school year. Sophie is going to learn so much this year and thrive in her classroom with friends she knew last year, new friends to make this year, and fabulous teachers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School Silly Face Bento Style Lunch

Sophie heads back to preschool tomorrow. After stumbling upon Another Lunch blog and Just Bento website, I've decided to make Sophie some Bento style lunches this year. Here is her lunch for tomorrow.

Silly Face

The silly face consists of turkey and cheese mini sandwiches cut out using a cookie cutter with two cranberries for the eyes, a plastic medicine cup filled with cranberries for the nose, and an extra piece of turkey for the mouth. 

The right side has mini chocolate chip cookies and plenty of blueberries held in muffin papers.

Sophie thinks her lunch is adorable. She's usually a good eater, but this extra touch will ensure a enjoyable lunch on her first day back to preschool.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Starfall Spells Sweet Success for Sophie

Sophie loves "reading" books. She uses plenty of expression in her voice as she recalls, almost word for word, the phrases on each page. Here are just a few of her favorite books:

Today, while perusing through my latest Disney Family Fun Magazine, I came across the Top Ten Fun Websites article. "We tested more than 50 sites to bring you the best: online hangouts that are fun, creative, mostly ad-free, no- or low-cost, and safe." Starfall was one of the few sites suggested for my three-year-old Sophie. According to their site, Starfall is, "...perfect for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, special education, homeschool, and English language development (ELD, ELL, ESL)."

We gave this site a test run tonight, and it was quite the hit! Sophie really enjoyed playing various educational games with my constant help. Perhaps children with computer experience could navigate some of these games, but Sophie isn't there yet. She was very enthusiastic as we read letters and said their sounds, created word families and listened to stories. After forty-five minutes, Sophie wanted me to help her continue playing, but dinner wasn't making itself.

I am excited to find this website. It really is educational, and Sophie is having such a great time with it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Repurposing Crib to Toddler Bed

This pretty crib is very special to Judd and me.  We purchased it years ago as an act of faith while confronting fertility problems. We believed God would help us fill it with a child of our own. For years it sat assembled, yet empty, in our unused nursery of our previous home. When I visited the nursery, sometimes I felt sad and lonely. My heart ached so deeply for my children - children I was head over heels for - whom I just hadn't met, yet.

My mother had back surgery and stayed with us for six months as she recovered. I was happy to have her in our home, and remember the day I disassembled the crib and tucked it away in the garage. The nursery became my mother's guest room. There were times I wondered if I'd ever have a reason to put the crib together again.

Years passed. Fertility treatments were unsuccessful. We moved into a beautiful new home we built. Time marched on. We tried in vitro and it worked! Finally, we could  use this crib - seven years after buying it. Sophie loved sleeping in her crib and enjoyed the nursery I created just for her. I sewed all her curtains and bedding. I made matching throw pillows and a lampshade for the jewelry box lamp her Daddy made for her.

Psalm 113:9 "He gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children."

Twenty months later, when we had our twins, we moved Sophie to a toddler bed. Riley slept in this treasured crib. We purchased another crib for Piper to use and I sewed her a matching bed set.

At fifteen months old, Riley started trying to climb out of this crib. We moved her to her own toddler bed. I just couldn't part with our original crib.

So, Judd figured out a way to cut, glue, bolt, sand, stain, and convert this precious crib into a toddler bed for Piper.

He just completed the transformation a few days ago. I'm so proud of his hard work.

Piper loves her toddler bed. Now that both Piper and Riley can get in and out of their toddler beds at will, they have begun sleeping together in one bed or the other. We hadn't anticipated that but find it so sweet.

All three of my children will have slept in this crib -- in one fashion or another -- and called it their own.
 Psalm 4:8 "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, cause me to dwell in safety."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Conquering the Kiddie Park One Ride at a Time

A few days ago some friends of ours told us about an amusement park for little kids. So, Friday evening, we decided to be spontaneous and take the family on the hour drive to Bartlesville, OK. We ate at a BBQ place called Dinks. It was very good (although the old restaurant could use a good scrubbing as everything we touched was sticky). Then, we headed over to the Kiddie Park. We had no idea how special the evening would be.

Sophie was so excited as we gathered our girls and entered the park. She wanted to ride an airplane ride first and politely asked for a red plane.

Next, she rode the giant swings and the boats.

Then, Judd took her on her first roller coaster ride. She wasn't so sure she was ready to ride such a scary ride. Judd showed her how to hold her arms up in the air and scream.

After a few more rides, I took Sophie on the carousel. She loved riding and waving to Daddy and her sisters.

We finished up our trip with the whole family riding the train as the sun was setting. Next summer, Piper and Riley should be able to ride a few of the rides with Sophie. What a beautiful find - Bartlesville Kiddie Park! It was well worth the hour drive each way. Judd and I repeatedly said what a magical evening we had, and Sophie has already been asking when we will go back. It's only open a few more weeks, so hopefully we'll get to visit one more time this summer.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Broccoli-Chicken Cups

When I was a kid I hated broccoli. But, after devouring these delicious biscuit-based cups up like there was no tomorrow, my parents informed me that I had just eaten - and loved - broccoli. I was hooked and couldn't wait to eat them again and again. 

I'm making these tonight and will be interested to see if my girls like them. I know Judd and I will really enjoy them. They are great the next day. You can throw two in a container and heat them up in seconds in the microwave. This recipe makes 20 chicken-broccoli biscuit cups.

Broccoli-Chicken Biscuit Cups


• 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

• 1 cup crisp rice cereal

• 1-1/2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

• 2 tubes (10 ounces each) refrigerated biscuits (Pillsbury now makes "Simply Buttermilk Biscuits" with 0 trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors, no artificial colors).

• 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

• 10 ounces or 2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained


• Place biscuits in greased muffin cups, pressing dough onto the bottom and up the sides. Add 1 teaspoon cheese and cereal to each cup.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, soup and broccoli; spoon into each muffin cup. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly


Sunday, August 1, 2010

To Share or Not to Share - Two Pans of World's Best Lasagna

Two years ago I came across a recipe called World's Best Lasagna at Since then I have repeatedly tweaked the recipe. Since a little extra effort is required to make homemade lasagna, I decided to always double the batch to have an extra pan of lasagna to freeze. Having an extra lasagna in the freezer comes in handy when going to pot-lucks or visiting a friend who just had a baby. It's also nice just to keep it for yourself in your freezer for a future no-hassle dinner. It's great with garlic bread and salad.

Here's the recipe for two pans of World's Best Lasagna. It freezes well. If you made this recipe, would you keep both batches or give one pan of it away? It was a tough call since tonight's lasagna tasted so good, but I've decided to give my second lasagna to a friend - this time.

My friend will want to thaw this frozen lasagna in her refrigerator a day ahead, remove the freezer paper and bake in a preheated oven 375 degrees for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes. Then, let it cool for 15 minutes to help the lasagna set up and not fall apart so easily.

Double Batch of World's Best Lasagna

• 2 pounds sweet Italian sausage

• 3/4 pound lean ground beef

• 3/4 cup minced onion

• 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed or 2 teaspoons processed garlic

• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

• 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

• 1 (28 ounce) can canned tomato sauce

• 1/2 cup water

• 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

• 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

• 1 cup chopped fresh parsley

• 12 lasagna noodles (6 per pan)

• 32 ounces ricotta cheese

• 2 eggs

• 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

• 1 cup Parmesan cheese


1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for a minimum of thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 2-1/2 cups mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, eggs, and remaining parsley.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

4. For each 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or disposable foil pan): spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange 3 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one fourth of the ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.