Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Salsa Fresca

I love, love, love food with lots of fresh ingredients. The problem is, when you are shopping for them, you have to make sure you use up those ingredients before they go bad!! But the food with fresh produce, especially in the summer when everything is in season, and not super expensive, is delicious!! I got this recipe for Salsa Fresca out of a Rachael Ray Magazine a long time ago, and have been making it ever since. In fact, this is a base recipe that is similar to pico de gallo, and could be used for many different things, and the magazine has several recipes that use this base of salsa. Tasty!! I did make the chicken salsa soup with it, and it was divine!! So, you might want to make a double batch and see what else you can use it for!! It might even be a nice, light summer meal for those hot, sticky nights when you don't feel like eating!!

Salsa Fresca
Rachael Ray Magazine

1 cup packed coarsely chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, halved lengthwise
2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (7 or 8), cored and quartered
Juice of 1 lime

1. Using a food processor, pulse the cilantro and garlic together for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides, add the onion and jalapeno and pulse until finely chopped; transfer to a medium bowl.

2. Working in batches, add the tomatoes to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the cilantro mixture. Stir in the lime juice; season with salt.

Uhhh, chips please!!

Happy Summer!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maddy and Night Terrors

Madelynn has been struggling with night terrors for about a year and a half to two years now. At first, we didn't know what was going on, or what she was experiencing. From time to time, she would wake up crying, and she wouldn't be consoled by us, or comforted, or calmed down until it seemed that the episode was over. I would usually sit in her room on her bed and wait until it was over, but she didn't want to be held, and she didn't really respond when I tried to talk to her. Over time, I would try different things like asking her to open her eyes (usually they are open already, though), bringing her out into the living room and waking her up a little (which does help occasionally, seems to snap her out of it), putting some water on her face to try to wake her up, trying to distract her by getting her some water to drink or talking to her about something that she is interested in. At times, most of these things worked at some point. But there seems to be no formula for getting these episodes to stop.
I eventually read up a little on these episodes and realized that they were probably what they call night terrors. They are different from nightmares in that the child doesn't remember them the next morning, it's not necessarily associated with a dream, and you can't console the child. For a really informative article, click here. Now, most of the articles say that night terrors are associated with fear. Maddy usually doesn't seem scared, she just cries a lot and seems sad about something but won't stop with anything I do or try.
It seemed that the night terrors stopped for awhile, but lately they have come back pretty frequently. Over the time that she has had them, we have noticed that her being over-exhausted plus going to bed too late will usually equal a night terror. And at times they are violent. Sometimes she will kick and hit and sometimes I have left her in her room with one (usually when she is just crying) and I have had her snap out of it herself and then walk into my room after a few minutes. Like I said, with hers, there has never been a hard and fast formula to getting rid of them.
One of the worst ones was when we went to Disney in September. The day we went to Magic Kingdom, she had a short nap in the stroller, but other than that, had a long, exhausting day, and got to bed at around 10 pm. She had about 4 night terrors that night, or more. She was kicking and screaming and our hotel neighbors were hitting the wall. We knew it was because she was exhausted. But it's hard to know what to do.
So this blog post isn't necessarily a way to cure night terrors, or even get your child to stop it once it starts, but rather some camaraderie with parents who have experienced the same thing, some websites to check out to read more on the subject, and a question asking who has experienced these with their children, and if they have found anything that has helped. Hopefully you haven't had these with your kids, but if you have, the articles say that it is much more common in children (though still rare) than in adults, and they will most likely outgrow it by adolescence. Also, Maddy's night terrors almost always occur about 90 minutes to 2 hours after she goes to bed, and never occur after 2 or 230am. For the most part. There are some interesting facts that go along with these episodes and some might even say to wake them 15 minutes prior to the terror to prevent it from happening. But read up on that and make your own judgement!! Read more on night terrors here and here.
For us, we just know that we have to have Maddy in bed between 830 and 9 at the very latest. I tell her that's her "pumpkin time" and she has been telling people that she has bad dreams at 9:00. People don't have a clue what she is talking about! I'm also going to try to keep a sleep diary and to have a more relaxing bedtime routine (as suggested by one of the websites.) Any more advice is welcome, as always!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chocolate Trifle

Let's just say: Death By Chocolate. I have slowly realized how much of a chocoholic I am lately. I crave not just sweets but chocolate!! This dessert is the perfect combination of chocolates too: chocolate pudding, brownies, chocolate shavings, with whipped cream in between...yum!
I first made this several years ago to bring to a potluck dinner, and it was a big hit! The only thing I often forget is that it is suppose to refrigerate 8 hours before serving. But I think 4 hours, or even 2 hours would suffice. It's really just making the layers all evenly cold, nothing more. I would even eat it as soon as it was assembled. But don't tell anyone!!
This is yet again another recipe from So I will provide the link, and also the recipe here on the blog. Make this for your next dinner party, and you will be sure to impress! If it makes it to the dinner party and you don't eat it all beforehand!

Chocolate Trifle

1 (19.8 oz) pkg. brownie mix
1 (3.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (1.5 oz) bar chocolate candy

1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and cool completely. Cut into 1 inch squares.
2. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix until smooth, then fold in 8 ounces whipped topping until no streaks remain.
3. In a trifle bowl or glass serving dish, place half of the brownies, half of the pudding mixture and half of the 12 ounce container of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Shave chocolate onto top layer for garnish. Refrigerate 8 hours before serving.

You really won't be able to resist this dessert. In fact, every time I make it, I make little, tiny bowls of the brownies, pudding mixture, and whipped topping to enjoy before I serve it. It really is decadent. And scrumptious. And whatever other words mean drooling, tasty goodness!!
And as always, enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tragedy: A Special Time to Point our Kids to God

Click here for the video of the fire
Click here to read news article
Although many of you have heard via Facebook, not all of you have heard that our church, Calvary Chapel of Enid, Oklahoma burned down this past Thursday. It was an old building, and there were some renovations being done to it with a torch, and once the fire started, it was out of control within minutes. They are counting it a total loss, with only some things that could be recovered. The building will have to be demolished, and we will have to build somewhere else, or purchase another building.
Although this is sad news, and devastated many people in our congregation, we still serve a God who is in control!! The cool thing about all this is that I have gotten to talk to my 4 year old daughter, Maddy, about some pretty important things lately. Luckily, this is a tragedy without the loss of life, so even though we are sad that we lost our church building, our church body is still intact!! Our Pastor gave a beautiful message on Sunday, when we met at another location as we were hosted by another gracious church, reminding us that the church body is fine, strong, alive, and well!! Our building got destroyed, but the church is fine!!
Throughout the course of us finding out about the church, driving by the burning church as they were trying to put out the fire (it took hours and hours to put the fire out), and getting phone calls, Maddy was right there, taking it all in. It's interesting how a 4 year old's mind works. You can see the wheels in their head turning. I have to admit that the wheels in my head might have started turning in a negative way in lieu of what happened. But I found it strengthening my faith to have to simplify things and talk to Maddy about it all in simple, easy-to-understand terms. It was really encouraging to talk to her about how God is in control, that the fire didn't take Him by surprise, that the actual church is the people and not the building, and that God is going to take care of us and provide for us.
I know that people face real tragedy with loss of life and things much more grievous than a building burning down. But this is what we are dealing with now, and it was neat to be able to give perspective and hope to a 4 year old who was shaken by her first real encounter with something tragic and real to her.
Maddy was concerned about where we were gonna get extra money for a new building, if the "bench" that all the kids sat on was still there, if her class got burned, if the toys in her new class would be different, and more questions. It's definitely interesting to go through things with young children, because your concerns get minimized to a very simple level, and you have to help them learn how to think with a godly perspective and to help them understand what is going on and how to cope with it. It's a huge, daunting responsibility, but awesome as well! It helps you, as an adult, to think through the situation in a healthy, positive way. It really helped me to think positive and look towards God instead of worrying and being negative about it!!
This is just another example of how motherhood is a ministry. We have the privilege of getting down on our kids levels and showing them how to walk through life, but not only that, we get to share with them how they're not alone!! We can teach them how to have hope and faith at a very young age. And those moments remind us how much our roles count!! Keep pressing on and show your kids that God is on our side, and how that fits into their daily lives!!
God is our refuge and strength and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:1-3, 10.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!! It is totally random that I happened to have a Mexican recipe that I had made, and that it is Cinco de Mayo!! And it is an awesome recipe, not quite authentic Mexican, but certainly good to feed the family! They will never know it's not authentic! Well, at least we will tell ourselves that! It is a great summer meal that is light and has fresh ingredients on top, and you can certainly add as many fresh ingredients as your palette desires! You can also make this ahead, and add the fresh ingredients when you are ready to eat it. So, here's the recipe, chicas!

Mexican Pizza

2 (8 oz.) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 pound ground beef
1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning
1 (2.25 oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained (I omit these for my portion, but Tad loves them!)
1 medium tomato, chopped
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce

1. Unroll crescent roll dough and place in an ungreased 15 in. by 10 in. by 1 in. baking pan. Flatten dough to fit the pan, sealing seams and perforations. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown; cool. In a small bowl, blend cream cheese and sour cream with a wire whisk; spread over crust. Chill 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown beef; drain. Stir in taco seasoning. Add water according to package directions and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread over cream cheese layer. Top with olives, tomato, cheese, and lettuce. Cut into serving-size pieces. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

So, how easy is that? You can make the whole thing ahead of time and prep it, or cut up the fresh ingredients and add them when you are ready to serve it. You could even serve it in small pieces as an appetizer at a summer event or potluck. It's really good! You could even add scallions or fresh cut up onions, jalapenos, different cheeses, salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, the possibilities are endless!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Things To Do with Kids on a Rainy Day

We have had several days of cool, rainy weather lately. It has been getting a little stressful in the house having 2 kiddos with lots of energy, and without the option of going outside like we usually have, I feel like I'm going crazy!! So, with a little brainstorming, I came up with 10 fun options to keep the kids occupied on days such as these:

  1. Make a tent for them. Use chairs, drape a blanket over the dining room table, or find objects to make a little area for them. Put a lamp in it, give them flashlights and toys, and they will be entertained for awhile!!
  2. Make flubber: Click here for the link!!
  3. Get in the kitchen! Make something that is easy, fun, and teaches them some new skills in the kitchen! Try this website - It is an awesome website for kid-friendly recipes that are fast, easy and fresh and also recipes that will get your kids in the kitchen to help you cook!! I plan on making this recipe for mini-sweet potato muffins soon.
  4. Watch a movie with them. Instead of just putting a movie on to entertain them, set up tons of blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals and cuddle together while you watch their favorite movie/show.
  5. Watch the rain. When I was little, I will always remember sitting on our back patio in my little lawn chair with my dad while watching the rainstorm. Help your kids to not be afraid of the storm by explaining it, maybe in a funny way, and watch in amazement of God's creation. Get them to enjoy it instead of fear it!!
  6. Take more time to read books. For us, we read before nap time and bedtime. But if you are stuck inside, get a stack of library books and read more than one in a sitting. I guarantee it will be very special to them.
  7. Get in your closet. Not theirs. Yours. Pull out some of your clothing (or your husband's), accessories, shoes, and play dress up with your kids. Don't get sidetracked and start cleaning it!!
  8. Create a scavenger hunt for them with any kind of object. You can use spoons, pennies, clothespins, Easter eggs, cups, blocks, Barbies, whatever you have on hand!! Give them a bag/basket and send them looking!!
  9. Get artsy. Give them paper bags, cardstock, stickers, markers, crayons, paint, magazines, kid scissors, etc. and tell them to create something wonderful. Let their imaginations run wild!
  10. Set up an obstacle course to get out their energy inside!! Have them do jumping jacks, then run across the room, spin around, run to their room and gather 3 things, come back out and give hugs, run to the kitchen and find one item, etc. Just make it fun!! Put on some music, tell them you're gonna time them, and have a blast!!
A lot of times, my creativity just runs out. Or I don't even think to be creative, I'm just running around the house trying to clean and the kids are fussing, bored, and have excess energy. Especially when they are stuck in the house, they want more of mommy. More attention, more entertainment, more options for things to do. It can be draining. Some of the above things we can do with our kids, and some we can let them do while we get some stuff done, like playing in the tent, playing dress up (after we play for awhile), looking at books (after we have read some), doing an art project, and even the scavenger hunt!!
We have to know what works for our little ones, what will hold their attention, and what will mean the most to them. I would love to know some of your creative ideas to keep your kids entertained while stuck in the house!! I'm sure others would like to know as well! Leave a comment if you have some good ideas!!