Monday, June 27, 2011

The Heartbeat Of Our Feet

Today was a sad day for our small family because our beloved family pet, Cooper, died this morning at 7:10am.  He died of natural causes in Rob's arms.  Josiah and I are visiting my parents' through the 4th of July so Rob had to deal with the burden of his death alone. 

We noticed a marked difference in Cooper on Sunday morning and he died on Monday morning, so we are very thankful he didn't suffer for very long.  We are also relieved we didn't have to make difficult or expensive choices about how to help him.  In typical "Cooper" fashion, he was watching out for our best interest until the end of his life. 

We've not only cried lots of tears today but also had lots of good memories to reminiscence about. I put together a video with the pictures I have saved on my computer.  You can watch it here, if you would like.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grilled Chicken Tacos/Quesadillas & Spoon Bread

Yesterday I got the sweetest, "pretty please" text message from one of my closest friends, Chantel, requesting my chicken quesadilla recipe to make for their anniversary dinner.  However, according to Josiah, we drove every street in Sioux Falls yesterday, so I didn't have time to get her the recipe in time for their special dinner, but I promised her I'd post it to my blog.  And since we are in the prime of grilling season, there couldn't be a better recipe to share!

However, before I get to the recipe, please allow me a few moments to tell you about Chantel :)  We became friends after Josiah and her daughter, Gracie, went to preschool together for 2 years.  It's so strange that we didn't become close until Gracie graduated from preschool but we've sure become extra close friends since then, as have Josiah and Gracie.  Both being only children (so far), they have a unique and special bond. 

Chantel is an amazing entrepreneur and artist!  Chantel and her Mom, Pennie, are a mother/daughter team called Art Moms, specializing in happy, bright original artwork that they sell at many stores/boutiques throughout the Midwest and at art shows. They also have an entire line of one of kind greeting cards! Their artwork can be found brightening up classrooms, day cares, churches, hospitals and Josiah's room! Please visit their website to check out their products and maybe even order some :) 

Before my other Sioux Falls friends met Chantel, I loved telling them that I knew one of the "Art Moms" --- ya know those people that draw happy, bright stick figure people, I'd say :)  I still love to brag and embarrass her by explaining Chantel is an "Art Mom" when introducing her to acquaintances.  In fact, I'm quite sure she'll be embarrassed I'm writing so many accolades about her on my blog!! But, nonetheless, I will continue....

Chantel is an extraordinary business woman, mom and wife!  As a business woman she is constantly thinking about how to make their artwork more unique, marketable, and fun!  She is such a big, innovative thinker.  As a mom and wife she challenges me to not be such a perfectionist and just enjoy simple, everyday moments with Rob and Josiah.  She always tells me to quit fussing and just relax!  She pretty much is the complete the opposite of me...we laugh about this, but it's true.  It's funny we can be so different but yet be such close friends.  Indeed, she is a great friend that encourages me to dream big and be happy in my own skin :)  She is also a great cook and features lots of recipes on her blog

Another reason I wanted to tell you about Chantel is because she has a KILLER (yet super easy) salsa recipe that pairs delightfully with these tacos/quesadillas.  Everyone who tries it, LOVES IT!  The secret ingredients are olives and cucumbers :)  Here's a picture but you need to visit her blog to get her salsa recipe.  You are missing out if you don't! 

Grilled Chicken Tacos
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)

In a large resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the ingredients and add the chicken.  Turn to coat.  Seal or cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.  Drain and discard marinade.  Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side until juices run clear.  Cut into thin strips.  Serve in tortillas or taco shells with desired toppings and Chantel's salsa recipe.  Yield:  6 servings. 

Since this recipe makes plenty of chicken for our small family of 3 we usually have leftover chicken and tortillas.  Careful not to waste any food, one day I came up with the idea to make grilled quesadillas using our leftovers.  They were a hit and Rob praised my resourcefulness :)  In fact he and Josiah prefer the quesadillas over the tacos!

So here's how I make quesadillas using the prepared grilled chicken recipe above. 

Becky's Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

Prepared Chicken cut into bite size pieces (using Grilled Chicken Taco recipe)
Flour tortillas
Choice of shredded cheese (I use Pepper Jack and Colby)
Choice of diced vegetables (I use green and/or red pepper, green onions, jalapenos,  & tomatoes). 

Spray bottom sides of tortilla with cooking spray to prevent them sticking to the grill.  Place greased side down on cookie sheet and arrange chicken, cheese, and vegetables.  Cover with another flour tortilla and spray top of tortilla with cooking spray.  Repeat process until all your ingredients are used up.  It's okay to stack quesadillas on top of it each other. 

Transfer quesadillas from cookie sheet to medium low heated grill using a large grill spatula or if you use a cookie sheet with no sides, transferring is even easier.  Grill quesadillas on each side for about 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and quesadillas have nice grill marks on the outside. 

To keep quesadillas warm until serving place them in a warm oven. Serve with Chantel's salsa recipe, sour cream and a side of spoon bread. 

Spoon Bread/Corn Bread Pudding
(courtesy of Lois Heron)

1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
2 eggs, beaten
16 oz. can of cream style corn
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz. sour cream
1 stick of butter, melted

Mix first five ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Then fold in melted butter.  Pour batter into 8X11 pan.  Cook in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  Serves 6-8 unless you make this for a boy named Josiah....then your out of only serves one :)

Ufta....that was a lot of explaining and recipes!  But, I love the versatility of the grilled chicken taco recipe and I couldn't leave out the salsa or fabulous spoon bread recipe.  Everything goes together so well :) 

Enjoy and let me know how much your friends and family love all the recipes!  I love feedback :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mmmmmm Monday featuring Cherry Dessert

Hi friends!  Sorry for the long absence but life has been going "full steam ahead" at our house!  We recently enjoyed a visit from our sister in law, her kids and other friends; celebrated Josiah's 7th birthday; helped our sister in law assemble care packages for 250 deployed airmen;  been monitoring the close promoxity of the SW fires to Rob's parent's home, AND over the weekend dealt with Josiah's burst ear drum.  So, life has been slightly CrAzY, but we are thankful "all is well" on all fronts and God has been faithful!  So, please forgive me but I promise to make it up to you :) 

A Happy Belated Father's Day!  Hope many of you got to spend time with your fathers.  I was not able to this year but I called him a couple of times over the weekend.  I was so sad to miss the annual Father's Day BBQ in which my dad barbeques his famous chicken on the grill!  Hopefully, I will be able to talk him into grilling a special batch just for me when I do make it "home".  (hint, hint)

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to post one of my dad's and Rob's favorite dessert recipes-- Cherry Dessert! It's such a simple dessert to make but tastes soooooo good and keeps well for a good 3 days or longer!  Plus, it's a very festive dessert to make around the 4th of July with a few fresh blueberries sprinkled in :)  Hope you enjoy it! 

Cherry Dessert

2 1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (divided)
1 stick of butter
2 cans of Wilderness Cherry Pie Mix
2 packages of Dream Whip
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Optional--1-2 cups of fresh blueberries

Melt butter and mix with graham crackers and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  Press into the bottom of a 9X13 glass dish.  (**Set aside about 1/4 cup of crumb mixture for topping, if you wish.**)

Spread two cans of Cherry Pie Mix over the crumb crust.  (**Red/White & Blue Option--Sprinkle a few fresh blueberries on top of the cherries.**)

Mix two packages of Dream Whip according to package directions using 1 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer for this step because you have to beat the Dream Whip for 4-5 minutes. 

Once Dream Whip is very stiff add softened cream cheese and two cups of powdered sugar.  Mix well.  Spread over top of cherry layer and sprinkle the top with reserved graham cracker crumbs. (**Red/White & Blue Option--Sprinkle or arrange some more fresh blueberries on top of Dream Whip to make it more festive!**). 

I LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK so please post a comment if you try this recipe!

Coming Soon---- Angry Bird Party Details and Printables!!!  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Start Each Day Likes Its Your Birthday

It's birthday week at our house!!! On June 7th, I celebrated my 37th birthday :)  And Josiah's 7th birthday is on Saturday.  I love birthdays!  So when I saw this printable posted on one of my favorite blogs I had to link it up to mine.  What a great reminder of celebrating each and every day to the fullest! 
To print out your own copy, all you have to do is pick your favorite color, right click on that image, and save it to your computer!  I suggest printing it out on glossy cardstock and framing it.  I like to display seasonal printables on my kitchen window ledge--that's where my yellow copy is going to go for awhile :)  Thanks Kristyn at Lil' Luna for this lovely reminder and printable;  Happy Birthday to you too!!

Stay tuned because next week I will be posting all the details on Josiah's upcoming Angry Birds birthday!  I have so many fun ideas to share! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's for dinner? Steak! **Marinade Recipe**

What's for dinner?  It is usually a beef dish at our house.  Rob loves beef!  You'd think he grew up in western SD for how much he loves beef.  :) 

His favorite cut of beef is a steak and I have the yummiest marinade recipe for grilling up the perfect steaks this summer.  One of my favorite things about this marinade is the longer it marinates the better it is.  Ideally, the steaks should marinate for 1-2 days but the steaks still have a great taste to them if you only allow them to sit for 3-6 hours. 

It's an ingredient intensive marinade but trust's worth it!!!!! It makes the steaks so tender and savory!

I prefer to use this marinade on sirloin steaks.  But, it also works great on ribeyes, strips, and t-bones.  This recipe is intended to marinate 2-4  8 oz. steaks. 

One last tip-- when making marinades, I find it easiest to mix together my ingredients by placing a large, heavy duty plastic bag inside a plastic bowl (a Cool Whip plastic is ideal) to keep my ingredients from spilling out of the bag.  I know you can buy bags that have flat bottoms for this purpose, but they are too expensive in my opinion.  Furthermore, marinating and clean up is super easy because you just have to flip-n-shake the bag every so often and throw away the bag when you are done. 

Savory Steak Marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp gound black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
1 pinch cayenne pepper

1.  Place a gallon sized plastic bag inside a plastic bowl to mix all the above ingredients.  Once all ingredients are placed in the bag seal the bag and squeeze, flip, and shake the bag to thoroughly mix together all the ingredients. 

2.  Place steaks inside the plastic bag, seal the bag, and squeeze, flip and shake the bag to coat and rub in liquid into the meat. 

3.  Refrigerate and marinate for 1-2 days. 

4.  Preheat grill on medium-high heat. 

5.  Grill steaks 7 minutes per side or to desired doneness.  Discard leftover marinade. 

Let me know your family's comments and feedback if you try this recipe!