Kickstarter-I Really Am Hip Now!

I try to stay up to date on tech things as much as I can. Not in a nerdy, tech-y, super up to date way. The things that I try to keep up on are the things that I hear my kids and grandkids being interested in.

I love the newest iPhones when they come out but I will never wait in line for one! No, I will wait until I can get one a month or two or six after the release.

We just bought the new Nintendo Switch and I enjoy playing with the grandkids on that. Tetris is a fun game for the Switch. That was a game that we spent a lot of time playing together when my boys were younger. I was glad that it came out on this platform as it is my all time favorite video game.

As I mentioned in this post, we love to play games. So I was intrigued when I came across a new interactive board game by Mighty Boards on my Instagram feed. It is called Petrichor and it looks like something that my older grandkids would like. And what better way to bond with them than spending time playing a game with them.

Now here is the catch – it is a Kickstarter campaign game. Which basically means that they raise money on Kickstarter before they make the game and the people that back them get the game first. Kickstarter is not new. It has been around for awhile but this is the first time I have actually backed something on it. I am kind of excited! I feel like I have helped someone with their dream. And….. I get a new game.

I will get it in December which is so opposite of how I usually purchase things. I am all about Amazon Prime and the two day shipping. Patience is not my strong suit. But it will be fun to get updates on the campaign from the Kickstarter app until December.

This Kickstarter app will be fun to explore and find new products that we all might be interested in. What about you? Have you tried Kickstarter?

Blending and Bonuses

Tuxedos are hanging in my closets upstairs!

This weekend my oldest son is getting married. He has two kids. He is marrying a wonderful, gorgeous, loving, sweet, caring mother of four kids. The Hubs and I are beyond excited for them.

My family is blended. My oldest son is from my first marriage. My middle and youngest son are from my current (and final!) marriage. When my kids were younger it took a bit of doing to work my oldest son’s visitations with his dad into our schedule, but it was manageable.

Can you imagine the scheduling that my son and my new daughter-in-love have to deal with having six kids and four separate sets of parents! Oh my. I have observed them over the past year as they were getting ready to blend their family, and I have to hand it to them……. they do an excellent job!

They have about six hours on Thursday night that they have to themselves as a couple. They always make it a priority to have a date night. Of course, we would watch the kids whenever they wanted us to but with their kids being with them only fifty percent of the time, they just don’t want to be apart from them when they do have them. Not as many sleepovers with gramma and grandpa but totally understandable.

So, on Saturday, we will officially have four new grandchildren. Bringing our total to eight. How will we treat these new grandchildren? The same as we treat our other four.

These four are our bonus grandchildren. No, we weren’t there for their births. We didn’t get to rock them to sleep when they were babies. And we didn’t get to see their first steps or hear their first words. But now we get to welcome them into our family and share ing their milestones and accomplishments. They will now be our grandchildren for reals!

We are a family of 16 now and I can remember when I was a single mom, with just my oldest, and I so longed for a big, intact, loving family. I had some pretty tough days. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine the family that I now have. I am truly blessed.

We are not the traditional two parent, never divorced family that was typical in the past. We sit at kids baseball games with our son’s ex and her spouse. And sometimes my ex and his spouse as well! We are flexible when scheduling events and we don’t expect everyone to be at everything. We try not to put expectations on anyone. Is it hard sometimes? Most definitely. Do we bite our tongues sometimes often. Of course! But we are committed to loving each other and helping each other get through this big, glorious, wonderful thing called life.

Our children have so many people that love them and call them family and our grandchildren have even more! Aren’t we the lucky ones!

 

Billie and Katheryn’s Banana Bread -The. Best. Banana. Bread. Ever.

This is THE recipe that I have memorized and made a gazillion times. Everyone in my family makes this recipe. It comes from a family cookbook that my cousins put together in 1977.

As you can see, my copy is well used and well loved!

This banana bread comes together in a snap and it is the perfect way to use up those ripe or over-ripe bananas.

It is moist and dense and sweet and banana-y and all sorts of good things. It also lends itself to all different kinds of add-ins. Some of the add-ins I have tried are chocolate chips, walnuts and pecans. Serve it plain, with butter, with cream cheese, as is, or toasted. Its all good!

Billie and Kathryn’s Banana Bread

Makes one loaf

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, 4 if small

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325º. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.

Place bananas in bowl of stand mixer. Beat on low speed until thoroughly mashed. Add sugar and egg and mix until combined. Beat in melted butter on low. Add dry ingredients and mix on the stir setting until combined.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until center is set.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner – A Little Bit Healthier Chicken and Waffles


Do you do Sunday dinner with your family? We do. And. I. Love. It!

It gives us a time to get together and connect and for the cousins to see each other and play and have fun.

Not all of the kids come every Sunday as our schedules are crazy. We also don’t pressure anyone to come. It is always “come if you can, no worries if you can’t.”

Most of the time I come up with the menu, but my favorite dinners are when someone requests something.

We were talking the other day about the really good chicken and waffles that Chili’s Grill and Bar is serving now. My oldest son suggested trying to make a bit healthier version for Sunday dinner.

I got right on it and searched for a recipe. I found this one and tweaked it a bit. I used a whole egg instead of just the white for a little richness. I also added some chipotle pepper for a little kick. Instead of making waffles from scratch I used our absolute favorite pancake and waffle mix made a few additions. The Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes is available at Costco and it is so so good!


The chicken and waffles were a hit. The chicken was moist and tender and crunchy without frying. The additions that I made to the waffles bumped them up just enough to compliment the slightly spicy chicken.

This will for sure be part of our Sunday dinner mix of recipes.

A Little Bit Healthier Chicken and Waffles

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the chicken-

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder

salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg

1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/8-1/4 cup skim milk

2 cups corn flakes, crushed

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into  strips

For the waffles:

1 cup Kodak Cakes Power Cakes mix

1 cup milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp avocado oil (or oil of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place an oven-safe cooking rack on top and spray with cooking oil.

Prepare three bowls for dipping: one with flour, chipotle pepper powder, and salt and pepper; one with the egg and yogurt and a bit of the milk to thin; and one with the crushed corn flakes.  Be sure to stir each bowl.


Dip the chicken breasts into the flour mixture, followed by the egg/yogurt/milk mixture, followed by the corn flakes, coating evenly. Place the coated chicken evenly spaced out onto the prepared rack.

Ready to go in the oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until thoroughly cooked and juices run clear.

Yum! Such a nice crisp on the chicken after baking.

While chicken is baking prepare the waffles.

Stir all the waffle ingredients together in a bowl and cook per your waffle iron directions.

Serve with maple syrup, raspberry chipotle sauce, jalapeño jelly or what ever your little heart desires!

Enjoy! Happy Sunday dinner.

Cheesy Polenta Keeps on Giving!

So, the Cheesy Polenta that I made the other night to go with the Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken was so good and I had leftovers. Yay!

The polenta was really soft and creamy when I served it for dinner. I knew that it wouldn’t reheat and have the same creamy texture so I smashed it into a loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge.

The next morning I had a beautiful loaf of polenta that was the perfect consistency to slice and fry up in a little butter with an egg on the side.

Not the lowest calorie breakfast but SO good!

Here is the recipe for the Cheesy Polenta. Enjoy!

Cheesy Polenta

Serves 4-6

1 clove  garlic, minced

1 T avocado oil (I like to use avocado oil for sautéing as it has a higher smoke point than olive oil)

1 cup polenta

1 cup milk (I suggest using whole fat milk or heavy cream or a mixture of both. Non fat milk will not result in a creamy mouth feel)

1-2 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese*

In medium saucepan  sauté  the garlic for one  minute. Add the milk and one cup of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the polenta and whisk until polenta is thick and bubbly. Continue whisking and adding stock as needed until polenta is soft and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

*You can substitute any cheese of your choice to suit whatever you are serving it with. This is a pretty versatile recipe!

 

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

I am loving finding ways to use Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce in my cooking. It has such a fresh taste and is so so pretty!

I pulled some ingredients out of the pantry, fridge and freezer to come up with this tasty meal. The combination of the savory breading on the chicken and the tart cranberry sauce and the sweet maple syrup was scrumptious. Oven roasted veggies are one of our favorites also. If you haven’t tried roasted broccoli, get on it! Ah-maze-ing! We gobbled it up pretty fast.

Roasting the veggies on the same pan as the chicken made clean up a breeze. The Hubs likes that since we sort of have an understanding. I cook, he cleans up! Win/win. He was used to doing dishes when he was working in the fire station so he doesn’t mind. (Or I like to think he doesn’t mind!)

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did. Let me know if you make it.

Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 egg

1/3 c milk

1/3 c flour

1/3 c pinko bread crumbs

1/2 Tbsp Malibu seasoning

Carrots

Broccoli

Granulated garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce

Maple syrup for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 400º.

Mix egg and milk with a fork in a small bowl.

Put flour in another small bowl.

Mix bread crumbs and Malibu seasoning in a third bowl.

Lay out carrots and broccoli on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and granulated garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip a chicken breast in the egg/milk mixture to coat. Move to bowl with flour in it and coat with flour. Put back in the egg/milk mixture to coat again. Dip in the Panko/Malibu seasoning mixture to coat.

Drizzle some olive oil on the part of the sheet pan where you are putting the chicken and lay chicken in pan. Repeat with second chicken breast.

Place sheet pan in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken registers 165º on instant read thermometer. Stir the veggies halfway through the cooking time.

Top with Cucina Antica Cranberry Sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Serve with Cheesy Polenta.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Supporting Your Community Events – Murrieta Firefighter’s BBQ

We are a fire department family. The Hubs is a retired fire captain. My middle son is a fire captain. We know the drill. Days at a time away from the family. Missing kids sports games and school events. And the holidays……. Let’s just say that we are very flexible regarding what day we actually celebrate Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc.

We gave up a long time ago trying to plan everything on days when everyone could make it. With a fire family, teachers, and a blended family in the mix we rarely get all 16 of us together at the same time.

So when the Murrieta Fire Department has their annual BBQ for the community we like to get as many of us together to attend as possible. It gives us a chance to see our son when he is working, even if he has to leave a few times on emergency calls!

A portion of our gang.

This year was the 70th annual Murrieta Firefighter’s BBQ. The event is a great way for the department to interact with the community and show off their mad grilling skills at the same time! You could purchase a plate with a very generous portion of tri tip, a super soft and fresh sandwich roll, potato salad, beans, and a drink for $10. Oh my gosh! The meat was so so good. We were even able to purchase a whole, fully cooked tri tip for $20 to take home. Someone is going to have a fabulous dinner tonight. They also offered a child’s hot dog plate for $5. Perfect for the littles.

It’s fun to visit Daddy at work!

The Hubs and our youngest son spent some most of the time in the beer garden. They competed in the corn hole tournament and came out somewhere in the top eight. The beer garden offered local beers for $5 each or 5 for $20. The money raised in from the beer garden goes to the Murrieta Firefighters Association and is used by them to support multiple local causes. A good reason to have a beer!

There was also an area with local vendors. Everything from Hawaiian shave ice to essential oils to bouncy houses! My granddaughter’s favorite vendor was Funny Faces Face Painting. Lorraine Amaya did an awesome job on my granddaughter’s face and their were so many options to choose from. You can find her on Facebook here.

Look at that sweet face!

I love supporting our community and this is definitely a fun way to accomplish that. Great family time and great memories!

 

Da Bomb Lemon Cake

This cake is absolutely my favorite thing to make with the lemons from our trees.

I never know what to do with all the lemons from our tree. I know…. make lemonade. But we just don’t drink lemonade that much. I use them a lot in cooking fish and making vinaigrette but there are still a ton left over.

So I was excited when an internet search turned up this recipe for Nathan’s Lemon Cake. I can’t tell you how many times I have made this cake since I found the recipe. I did not change the recipe one bit because it is perfect. Plus, it is super fun to make. So many good smells!

Look at that beautiful lemon zest. Smells so good!
Love this lemon juicer. So pretty!

I don’t think that there has been one person that I have served this to that has not loved it. (Or if there has, I have conveniently forgot them!)

Check out the recipe for this cake here at MyRecipes.com. I promise, you will not be disappointed!

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Surprise Pudding

After making the Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham salad a few nights ago for the Hubs to take to his card game, he came home with a huge bag of lemons from one of the guy’s orchard.

Looks how beautiful these lemons are!

Today I got on my trusty MacBook Air and searched for something to make with them. The criteria was that I had to have all of the ingredients on hand. I found lots of recipes for Lemon Surprise Pudding. I had never heard of it before but it was all over the place.

This is all I needed to make this recipe.

I don’t even know who to credit with this recipe because there were so many posts with the same recipe. Well, whoever came up with it, THANK YOU! This pudding is so easy and so good. It is light and reminiscent of lemon meringue pie.

The recipe that I used called for caster sugar. What? Never heard of it. I looked it up and it is just superfine sugar. I just happened to have some in the back of my pantry that I had bought for when I made 40 cremé brûlées for my DIL’s birthday party. Score!

Caster sugar. Who knew?

This recipe is a keeper for sure! Have you every made Lemon Surprise Pudding or do you have any variations on it that you love? Let me know!

Lemon Surprise Pudding

Serves 8-10

7 T butter, softened

2/3 cup superfine sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup lemon juice, about 3 large lemons juiced

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

Whipped cream for topping

Place oven rack on the second to the bottom rung in the oven. Preheat oven to 350º.

Cream butter and sugar using stand mixer (or hand mixer) until creamy, white and fluffy. Add lemon zest and juice. Mix well. (The mixture will curdle at this point. Not to worry)

Beat in egg yolks one at a time.

Gently beat in flour and milk until combined. The mixture will be thin.

In a clean bowl beat egg whites till they stand in snowy peaks. (Picturing “Frozen” in my head right now! Let It Go!) Fold egg whites into the lemon mixture.

Pour mixture into well buttered 8×8 baking dish.

Put the baking dish in a larger dish and fill larger dish with cold water, make sure the water comes halfway up the sides of the 8×8 dish. (I placed the 8×8 dish into the larger one and then put in oven and filled the water up while dish was in the oven.)

Bake for 50-60 minutes. If the top is getting too brown cover with foil for the last 10 minutes.

Serve topped with whipped cream right when it comes out of the oven. Yum yum!

 

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

Still have leftover ham from Easter! And leftover uncooked asparagus as well. Fridge is bulging.

Good thing the Hubs has his weekly card game tonight because it is time to use this stuff up. This salad is what I came up with.

This salad looks super fresh and pretty. Beautiful colors in it. Look at those lovely little bits of red pepper peeking out! The lemon vinaigrette that I found online gives it a nice zingy taste.

You really could add anything you like to this salad, making it the perfect “clean out the fridge” salad. I’m thinking broccoli and chicken, asparagus and salmon, make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. Whatever your little heart desires!

I like to use DeLallo whole wheat pasta in cold salads because it has a little nutty flavor and it stands up to sitting in the dressing. It keeps that nice little bite. But, you could use any pasta you choose.

The toasted pine nuts add a nice little crunch and the avocado finishes it off perfectly. Yum yum!

Hope you enjoy this salad. It really is a “no-brainer!”

Lemony Asparagus, Orzo and Ham Salad

1 1/2 c  DeLallo whole wheat orzo

1/4 c finely chopped red onion

1/2 c medium chopped red pepper

1 rib celery finely chopped

1 lb asparagus, woody part removed, chopped into 1 in. pieces

1 c chopped ham

This dressing. Use the entire amount made. (The only thing that I changed on the dressing recipe is that I just dumped all of the ingredients in a mason jar and gave it a good shaking. So easy!)

One avocado cubed

1/3 c toasted pine nuts

Lemon zest for garnish if desired.

Directions

Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and bring back to a boil. Cook orzo for 8 min then add chopped asparagus and cook two more minutes.

Remove from heat and drain.

Mix orzo and asparagus mixture in large bowl with all other ingredients except for the avocado. Let chill in fridge for at least 4 hours. Gently stir in avocado  and pine nuts just before serving. Garnish with lemon zest.