Friday, September 22, 2017

Delcious Recipes from this Summer {What's for dinner}

Today is the first day of Fall and I am totally going to mess with you and talk about Summer.  Probably bad form.  Oh well.  

Corn is  a summer favorite around here.  Once summer starts rolling around, we tend to stalk Facebook waiting for the announcement the Fresno State Corn is here.  You see, Fresno State's ag department grows the most amazing corn.  It's sweet and delicious and well, people line up to get their hands on this stuff.  We make weekly trips at the beginning of the summer so that I can freeze it for the rest of the year.  We kind of have a problem.  My youngest, who for some reason hasn't quite realized the wonderfulness of this corn, started chanting "No More Corn" every time it's brought up!

So, despite the fact that my motivation for cooking, baking, anything creative was at an all time low, I did try out some amazingly yummy recipes this summer (most of them involving corn) that are must haves.  Really. . . They will work with some of those cans of Niblet sweet corn or even better. . . that frozen grilled corn at Trader Joes!  See.  Corn year round. 

I made this Mexican Street Corn Pasta for the 4th of July and it was gobbled up.  This was just amazingly delicious!  I put the cheese on the side. . . because I wanted to be able to enjoy it (dairy allergies kind of stink!).  The creaminess comes from mayo, so a huge win on that part.  The combination of corn, avocado, and bacon are making me so hungry just typing this.  I should move on.

This next recipe is also amazing and involves corn. . . see. . . it's kind of a thing.  Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for this Bacon, corn pasta that was a HUGE hit.  Seriously.  Bacon & Corn make the best combination.  Major drooling going on here. 

Please excuse this side bar: I had another recipe that is one of our favorite corn recipes and well.  It has disappeared from cyber space.  I have it written down and I'm so glad.  I have posted it in one of my previous "What's for dinner" posts and it really is wonderful.  A friend and I were so VERY happy when I realized that I had copied it down.  Because like I said.  It's gone.  I'm not sure what happened to the blog Creative Mama, but the website is gone.  It's been gone for months.  So, friends. . . lesson learned.  Blogs are not forever.  They could disappear and leave you just dreaming for your favorite recipe.  Print or copy down those Pinterest recipes that you know you can't live without.  Pinning them for later isn't always a sure thing. Lesson learned.  Moving on.

Now back to our regular scheduled drool fest.

This next recipe I found because I was inspired by Panera's Thai Chicken Salad.  It's my current go-to lunch item because they got rid of my chicken avacado cobb (insert sad face here. . . you know the one with tears).  But, this one.  It's really good and I can't stop thinking about it after I eat it and I can't eat at Panera every day because. . . well. . . that would get really pricey.  So, I found a copycat and it was wonderful!  You should make it.  We ate a lot of salads this summer because it was just too hot to cook.  bleh.  This one was really good.  You should make it. You can find it here. 

Remember back a few paragraphs?  We ate a lot of salads because it was hot.  By dinner time we are all exhausted and who wants to heat up the house.  I braved the grill a lot, but at some point we even stopped using that because like I said.  This summer was hot.  This recipe was one of my favorites because it offered lots of flexibility.  I could eat the salad and if my husband or kids wanted something more filling, they took the fixings and made tacos.  Easy Peazy.  Everyone happy.  Dinner served.  You can find this recipe here.

Okay, that's enough drooling for now.  I'm going to go wrap up and get out stuff for tonight's dinner. Soccer season has officially begun for us so easy dinner nights have begun.  Did you cook up anything delicious this summer? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Peach - Plum Tart

Today is beautiful.  We are on our second day of cool weather (and by cool. . . I mean not in the 90's or triple digits).  My windows are open wide and last night I actually covered up with my comforter.  I'd like to say fall is coming, but I know the truth.  There is still a possibility for warmer weather for a few more weeks.  It's just how it is.

My husband got down the boxes of fall decorations and I am ready to get rid of summer.  It had it's glory.  Now to give it some rest until next year.  Not to mention the past few weeks have been kind o busy and the house is just in a state of chaos.  It's hard for me to focus.  I need to fix that quick.   Anyways, change is the air and I am excited for the newness as seasons change.  How about  you?

Now, let's rewind to a recipe I made earlier this summer when my plum tree was overflowing with plums.  Seriously.  We've never had so many plums come off this tree and we couldn't pick them quick enough.  We had rain this year, which made a huge difference in how many plums were growing.

Also, summer fruit is the best.  I probably say that about every season because we live in the Valley where everything grows and we can get fresh off the tree.  But, stone fruits.  peaches, plums, apricots, and if your lucky pluots are seriously the best! So, this summer when cooking was one of the last things I wanted to do, I made this tart.  The original recipe was for a pie, but I really wanted to use my new tart pan that I got for Christmas. . . they are just so much fun. 



 Are you hungry yet?  I kind of feel bad because I am posting this in September, but I bought peaches at the store yesterday, so you can still find them.  There's hope.  So, even though we are all (maybe not all, but pretty close) are buying Pumpkin Spice lattes every chance we can get or making pumpkin muffins or scones, there is still time to whip these up.

Also, don't let the idea of making your own pie crust intimidate you.  Get a food processor.  If you have one, dust it off and put that baby to work.  It does all the work for you.  Freeze your butter.  Also, your tarts and pies don't have to look pretty.  I've seen some pretty ones floating around magazines and the internet and wowzwers. . . they are just gorgeous.  Pies can also look beautiful and rustic, so you really don't have to worry.  Especially, when they are so mouth watering delicious like this one!


Almond-Brown Butter Pie Crust
from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients: 
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4  all-purpose flour
3/4 cup super fine almond flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup cold water

Directions:
1-2 DAYS BEFORE :
make your brown butter by melting the cup of butter in a pan until brown and nutty.  Keep your eyes on it because it doesn't take long to go from brown and beautiful to burnt and gross.  The nutty smell and brown specks are a big give away.  Line freezer safe bowl with foil hanging over the edges.  Pour the browned butter into foil lined bowl and stick in freezer.  Freeze for several hours or the day before.

1 DAY BEFORE OR SEVERAL HOURS BEFORE:
In a food processor mix all dry ingredients together, being sure to get rid of all the chunks (sometimes almond flour and all-purpose flour can be kind of clunky).  Slowly add pieces of the frozen browned butter from earlier.  Pulse until mixture is crumbly.  Keep food processor running and add egg and cold water.  Continue with food processor on until everything is mixed together.

Put some flour on a surface (I use my kitchen table) and turn dough onto the flour.  Knead for a minute until it all comes together and shape it into a disk.  Wrap it in wrap and keep it in the fridge for at least 30 mintues or up to 2 days.

Peach-Plum Filling
adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 pounds of a combination of peaches and plums (or any stone fruit, really).
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
1 tsp water
3 tsp turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Slice your stone fruit into slices and throw away the pits.  Don't worry about peeling them. . . the skin cooks nicely and adds a pretty color to your dish.
Toss stone fruit with sugars, corn starch zest and salt.  Then mix in extracts.
Roll out down and place in tart pan.  Trim it and set the rest of the dough to the side.  Pour in mixture and spread evenly in tart pan.  Depending on the size of your pan, you might have extra peach mixture.
Roll out some more dough and cut into strips to go across the peach & plum mixture.  Pinch dough into crust.
In a small bowl, beat the egg and water together.  Brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 55ish minutes.  Crust should be golden brown and the filling should be boiling.  I recommend sticking the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to bake. . . that way if there's any ooozing of the filling, it doesn't get all over your oven.  Because after all this work, you certainly don't want to add clean oven to your list.   You can thank me later.

Now, while you are baking this and you notice you have pie crust and some filling left over, you can make some little mini pies in those pyrex ramakins of if you have fancy colored ones.  Follow the same steps and throw those in the oven on your baking sheet.  They won't need as much time, because they are smaller.  Just don't forget about them.

If you don't happen to have any filling left then feel free to cut up the crust and bake it later, sprinkling with cinnamon and sugar.  Best things ever!


Want to save this recipe for later?  Add to your Pinterest Board by clicking the picture! 


Friday, September 15, 2017

My mom retired and we threw a party

 My mom retired in June from teaching.  She has been teaching since before I was born.  Not only has she been an amazing teacher for the past 30 plus years, she has also mentored many teachers and made an impact on so many students.  She deserved a party.  She didn't want one, but my dad and I knew better and threw her one anyway and it was wonderful.  So many friends and family joined us for dinner, toasts, and a lot of fun!

The picture above is when she first started teaching.  The town was a tiny town in Lyman, Nebraska. I took a picture of it when we were back for a family reunion 8 years ago.  The school is now boarded up and closed, but it still the cutest little brick school!  

My mom's fellow teacher friends have gotten her into the wonderful world of succulents.   So, we went with a rustic/succulent theme and it was perfect.  When we started out, we were just going to do an open house with some appetizers and desserts and have people come by all afternoon, but when some sweet friends of my parent's said they have it at their house (which is also a popular wedding location in town), we jumped at it. 

 The tables look a little sad because it got kind of breezy (read everything was blowing away!).  We went with cream table cloths topped with burlap scraps and succulent boxes/tins.  The favors were smores. . . because who doesn't like S'mores? 
 See.  breeze.  crazy psycho breeze.  

 I put my Cricut to work to make the banner look like chalkboard.  I love the way it looked with the greenery right behind it.  
  We put this table as people walked in, so they could put any cards or gifts, sign the guest book, peek at the scrapbook, and suggest ideas to keep my mom busy since she won't be tending after 20 first graders anymore.  I shopped a lot from my house decor, so it was really easy!





 I somehow managed to not get a picture of the food, but some sweet friends all helped and we had fresh fruit, salad, rolls, pulled pork, and rice pilaf.  Everything looked really good. . . I realized that I never got a chance to sit down and eat.  Ha! 

And, what is a party with out dessert?  We ordered a Costco cake, and another teacher made beautiful cupcakes and I made some treats and my sister in law made the most delicious pound cake (we couldn't keep Weston out of it!).  Everything was so delicious!
And finally, everyone gathered in the shade, and shared stories about my mom.  She is an amazing lady and I can't wait to see what she does with all this extra time on her hands.  I suspect she will be spending lots of time with her grandchildren and making some cool quilts.  She isn't exactly one to sit still! 

This was such a fun party to work on with my dad.  My mom helped a little, because she likes to be involved.  We kept a lot of things secret so she could enjoy the afternoon!  

A big thank you for everyone who came out and celebrated my mom and even helped with all the food and clean up.  They have the best friends!  

Also, if you are local, here is where the venue is if you are looking for a place to throw a party.  This place was great and the owners are wonderful!  You can also find them here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Catching Up

It's been a few weeks.  It's funny how quickly life gets incredibly busy that when you finally sit down, you really don't want to do a blog post.  I can't tell you how much I just wanted to sit here, with a cup of coffee and write.  I love this little community here at my blog and so I thought I would just check in really quick and let you know that I am alive and have officially come to the point where a lot of things have slowed down.  Today, is that turning point.   The last two weeks have been quite the whirlwind of crazy.  A good crazy.  An excited crazy.  An exhausted crazy.   I am sure we all have seasons where we just have more to get done than hours in the day, right?  Oh, please tell me I am not alone!

First of all, I would love to welcome all of the new visitors that have come and checked out this little blog I call home.  Some of you have found me through Pinterest. . . crazy how that works.  And some of you have found me from a friend.  Welcome.  I am so glad you are here.   I am Jolie and this is where I share my heart, my favorite recipes, and some things creative.  I believe that God made us creative and wants us to be creative too.  So, this is that space.  Welcome! 

Next, let's catch up! 
 We went to the beach.  Honestly, that was amazing.  We go every Labor Day weekend with  family, eat lots of brown butter cookies and play at the beach.  This year it was HOT!  Way hotter than normal for a central coast beach town and no air conditioning!  No joke!  We still had a blast.  The kids splashed around in a cold Jacuzzi, we chased waves, went on a scavenger hunt, celebrated birthdays, and Weston caught his first fish!   Plus, it was great to slow down for a bit. 
 Our oldest, Ethan, turned 9.  This is my favorite picture from his party (which I will post soon). We had a mad scientist party and boy was it fun!  The kids are still talking about it!  But seriously.  How is he 9?  They don't joke when they say it flies by!  Moms of babies. . . go hug your infant and toddler for a few extra minutes for me. 
 My kitchen was clean for about a day.   I snapped this picture so I could remember it later this week (like today) that it can be clean.  This is probably the hardest place for me to keep clean because it's the center of our house, it's where the cooking, the homework, play dough. . . everything piles up!  A lot of stuff happens in this space.  It's really hard to keep clean!
 I bought flowers for my dining room table.  9 year old boys don't care.  We were outside all night.  I am enjoying them.   They just make things happier.  Maybe that's just me?  Also. . . it's probably time to take down the 4th of July stuff, right?  Bring on the Fall!
 I had a big time oopise on Sunday.  Let's just say, I need to remember to check the oven before turning it on.  I think Ethan will forever have that rule ingrained in his head.  I had stuck the leftover rice krispy treats that didn't get made into molecules for the party in the oven to get them out of the way.  I forgot them.  The next morning, I asked Ethan to preheat the oven and get the cinnamon rolls out (you know those annoying cans of Pilsbury ones that taste just the best. . . they are our Sunday tradition!).  And when they went to put them in. . . the smell. . . oh the smell.  Burnt plastic is not pretty.  The smoke. . . oh the smoke!  Needless to say, I had to buy another pyrex dish with the lid.  Lesson learned.  Again.  Always check the oven before preheating. 

Also know. . . I may make delicious things. . . but I also mess up.  Don't get sucked into the lie that everything is perfect for bloggers, because it's not. 
I made these cookies yesterday and they were wonderful.  We had our room parent orientation last night and those parents gobbled them down!  Make them.  They will be the perfect way to start your weekend.  Also.  Don't skip the almonds.   It's well worth it.  It takes oatmeal chocolate chip cookies up several notches.  Seriously.  Make these! 
And lastly, we started Bible Study this week and the excitement that emerged from this woman filled room was off the charts.  For some reason, my sweet friend put me in charge of encouraging the ladies in scripture memory.  It's probably the area I struggle the most with.  Probably because it means slowing down and concentrating on some words.   It's hard to slow down and take the time to do it, but when you do it is sooo worth it.  Those words, hidden deep within my heart, come to my mind when I need them the most.  So, you will probably see lots of tips and fun things over on instagram on how to memorize scripture.  

So, things have been busy.  But, a fun and exciting busy as this new school year has started.  I am so excited where this year is going to take us and can't wait to share some fun things that just sitting in folders on my computer and in my brain.  Oh, the ideas!!! 

Also, if you feel like it, please share my blog with your friends.  I would love to grow this little blog and this community that is growing here. 

Have a great Day!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Coffee and friendship

I have always had a love for books that weaved history into a fictional story.  The stories of men and women living in a time where things are so much different than today, but at the same time they are so very much the same.  We are human and even though the human characters in those books that I read are fiction, they still have the same needs and wants as we do.  

Some of my favorite books, are a series about a husband and wife who travel from Sweeden to America in the 1800's to start a new life.  They leave everything behind to travel to a new world.  I  feel the excitement, adventure, loss, heartache, loneliness, creativity, and community weaved into the words and stories of these books, and they often leave me thinking about so many different things.  I feel the same way when I watch Downton Abby or Pride and Prejudice. 

I love how the women just dropped everything sometimes to "call" on someone.  Sometimes they would travel a short ways to catch up with a friend.  It was something that was worth the sacrifice of something for them to travel to the next farm to "call" on a friend.



  This is a tradition that has quickly been replaced over time with a telephone call or more recently a text.  Our hearts and souls crave community and conversation.  We have traded that community and those deep relationships for text messages and surface conversations, when our hearts desire more.  The crave more.  We are busy.  Let's face it, we juggle so many different hats each day that often times the moments of free time we have each day are spent zoning in front of the tv or soaking in the quiet after the kids go to bed.  Yet, how many of us go to bed tired and empty? 

My friends think I am obsessed with coffee.  I am not really.  To me coffee is a way for me to slow down and savor the moment.  I love getting a coffee when I grocery shop and run errands (I mean it's just too easy with Starbucks inside of Target, right?).  A friend was telling me about how she loves to drink her coffee in the morning when she gets to work.  She sits down, holding her coffee in her hands and takes a moment to breathe before starting her work day.  There is comfort in a cup of coffee (or tea). 

Another friend was going through a time where she needed to make more connections with other women, not just at church.  We were at the same Bible Study table and I was feeling the same way.  We started meeting once a month for coffee and we've been doing it for 2 years now.  We made it work with our schedules to sneak out after the kids are in bed and meet at the same Starbucks each time.  There are days when I think to myself, I could cancel and go to bed early because I am so tired, but we meet and instantly feel refreshed (and not a caffeinated energy, but that feeling of my cup being filled).  The conversation and encouragement that comes from slowing down and enjoying conversation that is deep and full of laughter and sometimes tears is so beautiful.

There is something wonderful about slowing down, enjoying a cup of your favorite drink (or even a bowl of ice cream).  There is something even more wonderful, when you combine that with friends and good conversation.  I remember when I asked some mom's from school if they would want to go out to dinner one night and have a girls' Night.  I wrestled back and forth. . . and I finally decided the worst they could do say was no.  But, guess what!  They didn't.  They wanted to go out to dinner with friends just as much as I did.  It's totally worth the risk to ask someone. 

 Do you feel lonely?  Or like something is missing from your life?  Do you need a friend? Do you need a break from your everyday tasks?  Take a risk and ask someone to meet at your local coffee shop and have some coffee.  Or invite someone over for a cup of coffee with some yummy creamer and put on a movie for your kids, while you sit and chat. 

Also. . . if you don't like coffee, please subsitute the word ice cream, boba, juice, tea, pastries, cake, cookies, fish tacos. . . the possibilities are endless! 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Pinterest Summer: Sharpie Shirts

 I feel kind of like I blinked and summer was over.  Here I am typing my last activity for our Pinterest Summer Series and my kids are at school doing their thing (and hopefully not melting. . . it's going to be 110 degrees today!).  I hope you all had a fantastic summer and got to do some fun things with your family. 

One of the last week's of our vacation we tried out the sharpie tie dye shirts.  I had seen this idea before school got out and knew we were going to do this. This was a project I was super excited about all summer long, but it took until the last week of vacation to actually get it done.  It was also really easy.  Like SUPER-DUPER easy!  Also, don't let the Tie Dye in the name scare you away. . . there's no crazy messes with this one!  Also, the white shirts. . . super cheap!

So, let's get started!  All you need is a white shirt, some sharpies, a piece of cardboard (we used plastic box lids with a target bag over the top), and a spray bottle with some hydrogen peroxide in it.

First of all, Hobby Lobby is your friend.  They have shirts from 0 months all the way up to at least a XL, maybe bigger.  They are regularly less than 3 dollars.  That makes this project so cheap!

Next you need to put a piece of cardboard between the layers of the shirt.  That way it won't bleed through.  If you are like me and the trash had already been taken out and so that Prime Pantry box was already gone (they are huge!) and so you have to get creative, think plastic tub lids with Target bags over them (so the lids don't get destroyed).

And then, let the kids go at it with sharpies.  Lines, dots, you name it they can do it! 

Then, when they are all done coloring and designing their shirts, give them the spray bottle and let them spray.  I recommend doing this away from any painted furniture. . . we may have taken some paint off one of my metal patio chairs. . . OOPS!.  As they spray, the ink from the sharpie will start spreading. . . like tie die. 

And, ta-da!  They love the way they came out!  Weston made a crazy monster and Ethan played with different designs to see how they would spread.  They ended up loving them!

Wondering how to keep them all pretty?  Soak the shirts for 30-60 minutes in a bowl of white vinegar and then wash them in the washer.  This will set the color.  Ours faded a little bit, but they still look great! 

We had so much fun doing this one and it was a great way to wrap up our summer! 

If you are just joining us, check out our summer Pin Challenge:

Rock Painting

T-Shirt Bags

Solar S'mores

Slime

Directed Drawing

Pool Noodle Fun

Did you try any pins out this summer?  Post a picture to Instagram and use the hashtag below to share what you did.  I would love to see them!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Solar Eclipse Fun

 I always forget how exhausting the first week of school is.  Our bodies are just not used to getting up and going all day compared to the relaxing days of summer.  Anyone else out there celebrating that they survived the first week?  I'm pooped.

Anywho, on Friday, I posted a tutorial in my instagram story on how to make an eclipse viewer for Monday.  The whole plan was to make these with Ethan's class and go out and watch it through a viewer thingy that my friend's dad has.  It was going to be this super fun 2 class activity with the third graders.  Everyone was so excited. . . until after school on Friday, when we discovered our district was putting kids on lock down during the eclipse hours.  Super sad face here because it was going to be so much fun and what better way to get kids excited about space.  Now, we are just taking our kids out of school so they can watch it with the viewer, special glasses, and make their own pin hole viewer. 

Ethan is super into science this year and is so excited about the eclipse.  It's kind of a fun, out of the ordinary, day that we plan on having fun with. 

Here's the super easy pin hole viewer tutorial.  If you don't want to cover it with wax paper, you can skip the last step and have them stand backwards with the cup over their head, pinhole facing the sun.  Have them stand facing a garage or fence and they will see the image on the surface they are facing. You can also use card stock, if you aren't using a cup and wax paper.  There are tons of options. 

For this particular viewer, you will need:

1 paper cup
wax paper
pin
rubber band

 To start, turn the cup upside down so the bottom is facing you.  Stick the pin into the cup and poke it through. . . try to keep it somewhere around the center.

 Then, without crinkling your wax paper, lay it over the mouth of the cup and slip the rubber band around it.  This part is completely optional.  The image of the sun will be inverted through the pin and onto the wax paper.  So, you won't be looking at the sun, but at the wax paper.  If you are concerned about your child's eyes with even that, just omit the wax paper step or use a piece of cardstock, stick a hole in it, and hold it up above their heads with the pinhole facing the sun and their bodies facing the opposite direction.  Then see it on the garage door or fence or driveway.  It's pretty cool! 
This is just an easy way to help make the eclipse viewing fun for your family. 

If you are curious about whether or not it really is safe for your kids to view the eclipse, I recommend this post.

There are some really cool facts about the solar eclipse on this website

Check your local news stations for when the eclipse is happening in your town.  We are a little over 700 miles from the total eclipse line, so we only get the partial.  It will still be super cool!

Also. . . what ever you do, don't try to take a picture with your phone or camera of the eclipse. . . leave that for the professionals. . . it will hurt your camera. 

Have fun! 


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