Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scrumptious Sundays

Gruyere-Stuffed French Toast

Great meal for "Breakfast for Dinner"
We had it for breakfast, but it's very savory and would make a great change to the normal dinner routine.

Don't be intimidated; the ingredients and instructions look complicated - they aren't.  The most time consuming part is the Warm Apple Maple Syrup, but it's really easy!
1/4 cup apple cider 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
2 teaspoons butter 
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 cups sliced McIntosh apples 
1/4 cup maple syrup
6 (2-ounce) slices ciabatta bread
3 ounces Gruyère cheese, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup fat-free milk 
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 large egg white
4 teaspoons butter, divided 
3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

1. Combine cider and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Melt 2 teaspoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the cider mixture, apples, and syrup to pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 minutes or until apples begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Set aside, and keep warm.
2. Cut a horizontal slit through bottom crust of each bread slice to form a pocket; stuff 1/2 ounce cheese evenly into each pocket. Combine fat-free milk, buttermilk, and next 5 ingredients (through egg white) in a shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Working with 1 stuffed bread slice at a time, place bread slice into milk mixture, turning gently to coat both sides.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 2 teaspoons butter in pan. Add 3 coated bread slices to pan, and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 teaspoons butter and remaining 3 coated bread slices.
4. Place 1 French toast slice onto each of 6 plates; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons sauce and 1 1/2 teaspoons pecans.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scrumptious Sundays

Fall-Apart Pork Roast with Mole
One of our Slow Cooker favorites
2/3 cup whole almonds
2/3 cup raisins
3 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves
2 3/4 lb lean boneless pork shoulder roast, well trimmed
1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes or diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup cubed bread, any variety
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 oz Mexican chocolate (chopped) [found in the International isle at your grocery store]
2 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tsp salt

1) Heat large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add almonds and toast 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.  Add raisins.  Cook 1-2 minutes longer, siring constantly, until raisins begin to plump.  Place 1/2 of almond mixture in large mixing bowl; reserve remaining for garnish

2) In same skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add to almond mixture in mixing bowl; set aside.

3) Heat remaining oil in same skillet.  Add pork roast and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to 4 1/2 qt slow cooker.
4) Combine tomatoes with joyce, bread, broth, chocolate, chipotle peppers and salt with almond mixture.  Puree mixture in blender or food processor.  Possibly need to do 2 to 3 batches until smooth.
 5) Pour puree over pork roast in slow cooker.
6) Cover; cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.  Remove pork roast from slow cooker.  Whisk sauce until smooth before spooning over pork roast.  Garnish with reserved almond mixture.

Great dish with rice.  A little spicy, but we love spice.  If you don't love spice then omit the Chipotle peppers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Halloween 2011

The REAL costume has arrived.  Superman (with his supporting actors, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and possibly a future Wonder Woman or Batman?)
 Couldn't leave the house without his drumsticks.  When you can't find both drumsticks you improvise:  sold him on a spoon!
 Superman's current favorite snack = Goldfish
 You would think we practiced these poses?  No, he just does this crazy stuff all on his own.

 He rolled around in the driveway hopping, bouncing, running and became a filthy mess - LOVE IT!
 Not sure what the symbolism of his trick or treat bucket on his head means, but I'm sure he'll explain it to us one day.  The bucket is empty minus the 2 pieces in his hand BECAUSE each time a kid came to our house he gave them his candy, so sweet!
Some family members participated reluctantly; when the evening was over we all agreed it was fun and the costumes were a success.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Our little Cowboy

In true Halloween tradition, Barb did NOT have costumes ready prior to the 31st.  So when the opportunity came up for Halloween parties we had to come up with an interim costume.  The idea all started with one, small, innocent, cowboy hat, dropped off in a donation box.  Who knew it would be such a favorite by the little man.  Until the 31st, we used the Cowboy costume and it worked fantastic!
 We, the parents, had NOTHING to do with this...poser did it all on his own (however I think it just might make a future high school yearbook, wedding slide show, something...right?).  This evening is what gave inspiration for the costume parties to follow...
 Preparing for the Seville Halloween Party
 Playing in the bushes, like all cowboys do.
 Tried to wrangle up some older 'girls', they weren't having it.
 Cheating or playing smart?  You decide.
 He grew a beard in time for Grandma Patti's Halloween party at Healthways
 Even Grandma got in the spirit (she's an owl from Harry Potter)
 "Gavin, don't eat the Legos!"
Is that Rainbow Brite?  WOW!!!
You know a party is good when you crash in the car on the way home.  Sleep tight little cowboy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vertuccio Farms

Fall Festival at Vertuccio Farms proved to be everything we hoped it would be.  Although it was a little warm for a fall day; Gavin had fun just the same.  We went mid-October, but the temperatures were still in the 90's.  We also did not expect it to be so buys - tons of families out enjoying fall festivities.  We actually went back recently to pick up some things from the farmer's market.  The weather was much cooler and the crowds smaller - next year we'll remember November vs. October.
 "Bounce, Bounce, Bounce"
 No intimidation whatsoever when it comes to a crowded bounce house; fall down and get right back up again.
 Jason and Gavin show their strength at some typical carnival games.
 A grown-up size bounce pad, it was huge and they both loved  it.
A corn maze...
What more could you ask for.  Thank you Vertuccio - we'll be back!!

Anniversary #4

A weekend getaway is a must for any relationship; especially important to remember after you add children to the family scene.

With the help of Grandma Patti we were able to get away to one of our favorite resorts.  JW Marriott Starr Pass in Tucson is a little slice of heaven for us.  It's even more relaxing when you're kidless.  We started the weekend with spa treatments:  hot stone massage for Jason and a prenatal massage for Barb.

Several hours spent relaxing by the pool working on our tans (HA, now that summer is over).  One of the great things about Arizona.  Also, so much more relaxing when you're kid-less.
Our first night dinner was divine!  We went to Hacienda Del Sol restaurant and dined at The Grill.  Wow, talk about awesome!  Jason did all the research and this place was the perfect setting for a special occasion dinner.  They left no detail undone.  The staff greeted us by name and congratulated us on our anniversary and the upcoming baby.  Dinner was so good we thought for one minute "we could come here again tomorrow".  And then just when we thought the evening was over out comes this beautiful, thoughtful, and of course delicious dessert.
Our last night we went to Tavolino for an Italian dinner.  The food was good and the atmosphere was ok; it was really hard to beat the dinner the night before.  The service didn't come even close to Hacienda Del Sol.  Of course we still enjoyed ourselves and our meal.

*Note to self (and others)*
Weekend getaways are a must!!   - or even a simple date night, day out together, etc.  Don't let kids, work, life get in the way of taking time for each other.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Scrumptious Sundays

**Fast and easy**
The ingredients look complicated, but really this is an easy recipe and a great way to use up some veggies you may have taking up space in the fridge.

2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons peanut oil
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint small, sweet mixed peppers, quartered, or 2 mixed bell peppers, cut into 1-inch strips
6 scallions, whites cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, greens cut into 1-inch pieces and thinly sliced vertically into thin strips
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed
Serving suggestion, cooked brown rice
Chopped peanuts for sprinkling, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chili-garlic sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice and cornstarch; set aside.
Meanwhile, coat the chicken with 2 teaspoons oil and heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken to taste with salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally with a wooden spoon, 2 minutes. Transfer the partially-cooked chicken to a plate. Reserve the pan.
Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan; add the peppers, scallion whites, and snow peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved chicken; whisk the sauce again and add it to the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over rice and sprinkle with the scallion greens and peanuts, if using.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Not Your Average Joe's 10K

Yep, that was the name of the race.  We were looking for a local race to get out and enjoy the cool weather.  This one was right around the corner from our house, looked like it was a great cause, and it was a 10K - perfect!  Maybe not....Joe Gibson's Memorial Foundation is a great cause, however it was hot, hot, hot.  Jason and Barb participated in the 10K and Gavin did the kid's obstacle course.  Although it was a hot fall day, we still had a great time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gram turns ????

Yes she would kill us if we posted her age, but her daughter turned 60 this year and this was a special birthday, so you might be able to figure it out.  We traveled to Orange County for a weekend full of family, friends, and fun.  Cousin Cole also got married that weekend (but we forgot the camera at the wedding).  We celebrated Gram's bday at a Mexican food restaurant and she was SO surprised!
 Waiting for the birthday girl to arrive.
 Auntie Susie was in charge of the cake, so unique!
 Gram and Gavin coloring
 Some silly tradition at the restaurant, gave us all a good laugh
 Grandma Patti and Cousin Jonny
Gram and her favorite grandson (oops, don't tell the other boys).
And one courtesy cell phone picture from the wedding.
Left to right:  Aunt Alice, Jason, Grandma Patti, and cousin Debbie
Beautiful, beautiful wedding!  It was great to see all the family.