Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fruit and Chicken Skewers - New Recipe

Well here it is! This week's new recipe! Fruit and Chicken Skewers! This has been our favorite so far, and SUPER EASY! Scored an 8 on Aaron's scale, a 7 1/2 or 8 on Luke's (our guest taster ;) and an 8 on mine!

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
Wisk together in a medium bowl.

1 lb chicken breasts (boneless / skinless) cut into chunks
Pineapple, cored and cut into chunks
Maraschino Cherries
Fresh Whole Mushrooms
Red Onion (cut into chunks)
Other vegetables of your liking

Toss chicken breast chunks, mushrooms, onions, and other vegetables in marinade. Let marinade for at least one hour (mine sate for 5 hours in fridge). Skewer pineapple, and cherries at both ends, sandwiching patterns of chicken and vegetables. (We used metal skewers, if you use wooden skewers make sure you soak them well in water.)
Lightly oil grill grate and grill skewers 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
(We also took the leftover pineapple and cherries, put them in a pammed piece of aluminum foil and tossed those on the grill as well... scrumptious!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Making His Lunch

I've learned a lot in the past week. It's the one reason I had a passion for taing before... because to some kids, school is the best part of their lives. Any encouragement, accolade, or treat they get there could be the only they get... period. You see this is all kinds of ways, but particularly, by kids who bring their sack lunch.
Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing wrong with the hot lunch line. And believe it or not, some of the food actually looks pretty good, but when the school is serving scoop burgers, or whatever other food a child may hate for that matter, and a parent packs a lunch for the kiddo, well, THAT, is special. While standing at the sack lunch table last week I took a peek into some kids home lives. Little notes from mom, a sandwich with the crust cut off, orange slices, an extra thing of fruit snacks, even strawberry milk in some... that's my kind of lunch. And in an incredible, indirect way, that sack lunch says, "I know you, I love you, and I cared enough to take the time for you today. I hope it makes your day better." (Of course, I never realized this until I became a parent.)
Tonight, though B may be only 10 1/2 months, I stood over his diaper bag, packing into it what he'll eat for his breakfast and lunch at the sitter's tomorrow. It's a new nightly task that I loathe on one hand (it's something else to add to my already full day), but I cherish on the other. Though this little boy will never know, nor remember, that I put the effort and care into his lunch when he went to the sitters, it was my way, as a mother, to show my child that I love him, I care what he eats, and though I'm not with him, I wish, desperately, that I could be. I make sure not to pack the same thing two days in a row, that I know he'll enjoy it, and I try to throw in a little treat... it's his little "note" from mom. So tomorrow, I hope as B eats his cheerios and pineapple for breakfast, and his green beans, cheese (portioned the way he likes it), and orange jello (there's that little treat) makes him think, if even for a second, of his momma packed that lunch with every bit of love she possibly could.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken and the Rollercoaster Ride

Well, tonight we had a new recipe (I'll post below), it was fast and easy, but good. It scored a 7.5 on the Aaron Gregg star rating ;) I guess I'll be doing it again. More on that later.
As far as the rollercoaster ride is concerned, well, I got a job. It was a 'temporary' position helping kids who needed some special attention. Well, that started Monday, I found out today (it was obviously veeeerrrrry temporary) that one of those children who needed the special attention needs special attention permanently, and in a special classroom. My job is not happening anymore. And let's just say, after two days having him for half days, I don't think I can do it for full days... and after one day being desperately sad and feeling... almost conviction... over leaving Bryton... I'm really entertaining the thought of subbing. I'd love the opportunity to get to be in different classrooms, in different grade levels, and will love having a more flexible schedule. If Aaron and I want to get away we can (we go to his rents a lot on Thursday nights and stay through Saturdays, can't do that working full time). Also, I'll get to be with Bryton during days here and there. I don't mind to work full weeks occasionally, but I know most weeks will be 2-3 days a week, enough to get me out, B with other kids, and for me to still feel like I'm the caregiver to my baby.
Anyway - my 8 - 3 days with 1/2 hour lunch has me very tired, so I sat the chicken out this morning, put it back in the fridge at lunch, and took the 10 minutes it took to combine ingredients to "bread" my chicken tonight. It went like this:
Mix in a zip-lock bag: (for 1 lb of chicken)
1 cup of dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp of thyme
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of paprika

Cut fat off of chicken (I used skinless, boneless chicken breasts). Coat with mayonaise. Shake in breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees in lightly greased pan for 45 minutes.

It was a fast easy dinner for us tonight, so it'll definitely get served again. Not to mention the fact that from a health standpoint it wasn't horribly unhealthy. (I know, I know, mayonaise, but it isn't that much.) So anyway, there's the scoop. More to come about the job in a few days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A far stretch for spiritual analogy... but I like it.

Okay, so I know God used a donkey to get a point across, but check out this revelation I had today.

Have you noticed all of the squirrels lately? I have, unfortunately. It seems like when I see them they are making a mad dash across Washington Street, making it only by the hair on their chinny chin chins or, well, let's just say that I've seen several not make it at all (for those of you who are not Du Quoinians, Washington Street is our "main street" in town... busy and four lanes of traffic). I don't really care for squirrels, but I don't exactly enjoy watching them get hit on the road either. I'm one of those who, when seeing one attempt to cross, always watches in my side mirrors to see if it "makes it". I don't know, maybe I'm a romantic or something. I want the underdog to win, and in the case of a squirrel and a 2 ton piece of steel and machinery, I'm rooting for the squirrel.

So anyway... lets just say I've seen one too many squirrels hit lately.
Fast forward to today, I'm on my way home from Wal-Mart, traveling the infamous squirrel slaughtering street, when I just happen to glance up and there is a squirrel running across the powerline over the street. I even said outloud (I'm not kidding, I really did), "Now, that is a smart squirrel."

It amazed me... I hadn't even considered that path in how a squirrel could cross the road. Run up the pole, across the line, down the pole, TA DA! It's so simple, but many squirrels choose to run and dodge 2 ton machines traveling at a measley 40 mph.

Then I got to thinking, (Here is the far stretch for the spiritual analogy,) we are so much like the stupid squirrels. ("We" as in Christians.) For those who profess Jesus with their mouth but continue living in their sin, well, they are taking the low road, crossing with dangerous obstacles, getting from point A to point B is hard, difficult, and sometimes, fatal. But for those of us squirrels that take the provided high road, who have the wisdom (think Proverbs) to so choose it, well, it may be narrow, but it gets us safely across. Matthew 7:13-14 says, "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

The analogy is really two fold -- there are the unsaved squirrels that don't have the wisdom to take the high road. They are the ones crossing at their own risk, oblivious that there is a better way. THEN, and almost more scary, there are the saved squirrels, they've chosen to follow Jesus but with all of the squirrel peer pressure they choose to continue doing things their own way. They bypass the high,narrow, safer road, for the low road littered with obstacles and death.

Proverbs 16:25 - There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Moral of the story: Be the wise squirrel.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya

Week 1 of the Cooking Challenge = success. I'm making an effort to get Aaron's opinion, Bryton's opinion (whenever it applies right now), and the opinion of an honest innocent bystander, who this evening just happened to be Steffanie. (And Luke called the leftovers, we'll see what his opinion is after trying!)
I'm asking for a star rating from 1 - 10 with 1 being "You can't pay me enough to eat it again," and 10 being "that's the most wonderful thing I've ever eaten in my life."
So, that being said, tonight's dinner was chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya, honey cornbread, and fried apple pies.
Overall I thought the meal was good. I was going for a comparison to the "House of Blues" jambalaya. Though I don't think I succeeded in that area, I'd cook the meal again, and Aaron has requested it again.
Steff gave a 6 out of 10 star rating, Aaron a 7. (Bryton tried a small taste of the rice... and his face turned bright red, so he didn't get much more than that... too spicy for his pallet at the moment.)
I'll be honest and say the fried apple pies didn't fry long enough. I fried them in a fryer instead of a skillet so I couldn't watch them well. Luckily I tried first and made the others refrain from eating... so there is no star rating. I'll try those again differently.

So here are the recipes:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
1/2 lb - 1 lb of boneless / skinless chicken breasts (I used 3, about 3/4 of a pound)
1/2 lb - 1 lb of Andouille Sausage (I used the Johnsonville brand and used all but one link)
One can Rotel died tomatoes and green chiles
1 cup diced white onion (or yellow, or green)
2 cups white rice
2 tbsps cajun seasoning (buy in seasoning aisle or see the recipe I used below, recipe or amount can be adjusted to taste)

Boil chicken until done. Save 4 cups of broth. Cut sausage into coins, dice onion and cube chicken. Add sausage, onion, chicken, rotel, and seasoning to broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling add rice and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and allow to cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender. (Adjust to the taste of your family by adding more or less cajun seasoning or substituting andouille sausage for regular.)

Cajun Seasoning Recipe:
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in sealed container.

If you all try it let me know what you think!!!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles... and Balloons and Boats

Awwww vacation. Such a beautiful word. I love traveling, experiencing new things, relaxing, and having the freedom to spend time with my family outside of our normal constrains of work. (For me consisting currently of worrying about housework and B.)
When I graduated college Aaron's rent's gave us (I know, I have such wonderful in-laws) vacation, our choice of resort to exchange for their time share. Since I was pregnant when I received this wonderful gift, and we both wanted to go skiing, we thought we'd wait until the baby arrived and take a 2nd honeymoon to Colorado :) Fast forward about 9 months from that decision and it was January of 2009 and it was time for us to decide where we were going to go by the end of October. Well, there's no guarantee for snow in October in Colorado, so we explored other skiing options, again, no guarantees that early in the season. So we started thinking beach (my fave of faves), and we started looking gulf area (think Orange Beach, AL), to no avail. All we could find in the way of resorts, well, wasn't exactly our idea of a good resort vacation. So, after days upon days of looking we finally decided to find the best rated resort that was an even exchange, which brought us to Orlando.
*Sigh* - Okay, now that I've explained what got us there... As time moved on in B's little life our "2nd honeymoon" for me began to look grim. Not knowing whether we'd have other children or not, and already spending a week away from B in July, I was soooooo very concerned I'd miss some of his "first" things while we were gone. Not to mention we'll have to leave him for four days again in November... and frankly, I didn't have a child so I could drop him off for two or three weeks a year before the age of one. So, our 2nd honeymoon became a family vacation with my in-laws, who graciously agreed to go to watch B so Aaron and I could have "our" time and time with him.
And it all worked out wonderfully! (Minus Aaron's episode with gout -- yeah, I'm going to stop traveling with people, it seems like everywhere I end up someone else ends up diagnosed with a lifelong ailment of some sort.) Anyway, Aaron and I got to golf 3 times (ok, I golfed twice and cadied once - and that was on an Arnold Palmer course), hit the driving range, have a great dinner out at House of Blues, explore the pools, hit downtown Disney (with and without B), and soak up some sun. As a family we had the opportunity to do the pool thing (wait until you see the pictures... B LOVES the water!), go to the ocean (only my favorite place ever), take B up in the "hot air" balloon at Downtown Disney, and enjoy several nice meals together. We really had a great time!
As far as missing any "firsts" with Bryton, there is the obvious things... he wouldn't have had his first plane ride (in which he did GREAT both times), train ride (actually a monorail experience at the airport), ride on a boat (downtown disney), balloon ride (downtown disney), experience on the golf course (see facebook pics), trip to the ocean, Disney adventure, trips down the lazy river, etc. BUT, I would have also missed the first real crawling, first real pulling up with no help on everything, first clapping, fake laughing, peek-a-boo (on his own), clapping to Patty Cake (on his own - not very well, but he at least has the idea), and little indian sounds (think sound coming out of your mouth and hand hitting it) with his hands and anything else he could get his hands on, sitting up in the crib, and standing up in the crib. One week folks, one week. I swear had I got home I would have never known he was my kid. When we left town B's crib was still on the top position... and we had no reason to move it down. The FIRST thing we did when we got home, moved the crib bed down. Praise God we took him. I'm afraid I would have had a very hard time enjoying myself knowing all he was doing without momma seeing it :(
I never thought I'd say that vacation changes everything, but this one did, my son went a baby and came back a little boy, I'm afraid. Very mobile, into everything... life at the Gregg household has changed forever... for the better, but another large adjustment. Again, parents, take lots and lots of pictures, babies don't stay babies long.