Friday, July 29, 2011

Play-DOH!

Wednesday morning I woke up to thunderstorms and rain. As much as I enjoy waking up to clear skies and the sunrise, sometimes I like waking up to rain and clouds. I had all intentions of getting a run in before heading over to nanny, but decided to snooze my alarm and sleep the extra 45 minutes :) The run could wait till later. Since I figured the boys and I would be trapped inside most of the day I tried to think of some fun projects to do with them. The morning was pretty lazy..the boys played with LEGOS and watched Finding Nemo. Travis has been talking about making homemade macaroni and cheese for lunch the past week so we tried a new recipe from one of his mom's cookbooks Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. The book has a ton of recipes that include simple secrets to get kids eating healthy and good food. For example our macaroni and cheese recipe implemented pureed cauliflower and/or squash. Come noon Travis, Trey and I were all cooking!

The boys had fun helping me measure (and eat) the ingredients. At one point I turned my back to stir the milk/flour mixture and turned around to find Trey devouring our mashed sweet potato. I asked Trey, "So you like sweet potatoes?" He responded with a "NOPE!" and preceded to stuff his face with a huge spoonful.

After melting in the cheese the boys were super excited to dig into our homemade creation. I scooped them each out a bowl and heated up some sweet corn to go with. Unfortunately they each only got a few bites into their mac and cheese before pushing their bowls away. Apparently healthy or what Jessica Seinfeld considers "deceptively delicious" mac and cheese wasn't up to the boys Kraft Mac and Cheese standard. I have to admit the recipe was good, but next time the cauliflower puree would be a better ingredient choice over the sweet potato. The sweet potato made the mac and cheese too sweet and overpowered the cheesiness. Live and learn...


Our second adventure for the day included making homemade play-doh! I can remember making play-doh all the time as a kid! Travis was super excited about it so we made a batch of yellow play-doh while Trey napped. The recipe was really simple: Flour, Cream of Tartar, Salt, Vegetable Oil, and Food Coloring.

Travis helped me stir the mixture on the stove, but as soon as the play-doh started to thicken decided that I should stir because "I'm older and know how to stir heavy things like play-doh." Hahaha..kids crack me up. Anyways the play-doh was a hit and we ended up playing with it the rest of the afternoon.

The boys were exhausted by 4:00 pm. While I made a batch of oatmeal zucchini cookies for an afternoon snack the boys played with the electric train and watched animal planet. They turned out super tasty and moist!

Overall Wednesday shaped up to be a fun and adventurous day in the nanny world. I've had a lot of fun thinking up experiments and activities for a three year old and six year old....Friday is supposed to be nice so hopefully we can get outside and go for a bike ride!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photo Recap

Since I neglected to blog last week I thought I would upload a variety of photos. Some of the photos are from my mom's birthday weekend, my weekly farmers market adventures, boating, and more!

Leeann, Cherie, and I at LaBrioche for brunch. So tasty!

We had to get pictures of the whole crew! Diana, Amber, and I at LaBrioche

Mom and Grandma

We started the morning at the farmer's market....always a fun Saturday morning tradition!

Cherie is hooked to these maple long johns. As you can see they are pretty much bigger than your face!?! We all munched on this as we made our way around the square. YUMMM

Fiesta Potluck Buffet with the ladies: Bacon wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, Mango Bruschetta, Berry Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Pitas, Taco Dip, etc.

Erin hosted our get together at her new apartment!

Last Tuesday Kyler and I woke up at 4:40 am to go wake boarding. Yes you heard me correctly...we were up before 5:00 am!!

As you can see from the photos though, getting up early was totally worth it!

Lake Kegonsa at Sunrise

Thursday was Holly's birthday so a bunch of us met at Ocean Grill to celebrate!

Holly looking gorgeous as ever....great night!


Zucchini Day

I decided to dedicate my Tuesday to ZUCCHINIS! Seeing that I went to the farmer's market Saturday and loaded up on 3 huge zucchinis I knew that I would need to get some serious baking done. I started off the morning by mixing up two different zucchini breads. One recipe called for the usual sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, flour, etc. But I decided to try a new one that implemented plain yogurt, oil, and blueberries! Both of the breads turned out good, but I would vote that the Joy of Baking recipe turned out more fluffy and sweet.

After baking I had to pick up Travis from summer school. We ventured to the McFarland Library to stock up on books and movies. I've been spending a lot of time at the library this summer...seeing that I finally have time to read! According to Travis the library is really cool because, "they rent out LEGO movies!!!" I'm sure you can guess what movie the boys chose to watch while I prepared lunch. I decided to whip them up some personal cheese pizzas on pita pockets! The recipe was simple as pie: Whole Wheat Pita, left over Prego, shredded mozzarella cheese. The pizzas took about 15 minutes to bake @ 350.



I can't help but love eating outside when the weather permits. While the boys munched on their pizzas I took a peek at my family's box gardens and found lots of jalapenos! Look how pretty they are! I think there will be some major salsa making to be done in the next week or so.

After nannying I came home and set out for a run! I've been trying to run either early in the mornings or around dinner time depending on my schedule. Last night I decided to take it easy with a 3.5 mile route. After a good stretch and cool down I helped my mom grill up some veggies. I ran back out to our garden to see if there was anything new to pick and unfortunately found a couple of pathetic looking beets. The beets were too small to even cook so I decided to try something new...I cut off the stems and beet greens to eat. I put them in the pressure cooker with my rice. Turns out they are super flavorful and good for you!

My dad was kind enough to clean up dinner so my mom and I went on a late walk since it was so nice out. Overall, Tuesday turned out to be a full of adventures...by 10:00 pm I was exhausted and in bed. As for today's adventures I am currently watching Finding Nemo with my good buddy Trey.

Apparently this is one of his favorite movies seeing that every time Dory pops up on the screen he sings, "Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming!" I'm hoping to make it to Concerts on the Square tonight, but the forecast isn't looking too promising. Cross your fingers that the weather clears up by 5:00 pm!

Strawberry Rhubarb Bread Pudding

As many of you know I am quite the avid baker. I have been nannying for a family part-time this summer which has led to even more baking and cooking experiments! At the beginning of the summer some girlfriends and I got together for a pot luck. I decided to try something new with my fresh rhubarb. My mom always made bread pudding when I was a kid and when I found this recipe on eatingwell.com I decided I had to try it. Turns out the dish is SUPER TASTY! I did alter the recipe here and there..I used fresh strawberries, skipped on the walnuts and orange zest and added a 1/2 cup more rhubarb than it called for.

Did I mention that moving home for the summer did not provide me with the best baking set up? Seeing that our home kitchen lacks counter space and I often choose to bake at what my mom calls "inconvenient times" I often find myself baking in tight corners. Either way the groceries are usually free and there is a DISHWASHER to assist with cleanup..so who's complaining!?!?

Recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/strawberry_rhubarb_bread_pudding.html

HERE WE GO!

First I whipped together the custard. I whisked together 4 eggs, 4 egg whites, and 1 cup of skim milk. Next was to add the sugar and vanilla. I always add almost double the vanilla a recipe calls for...who doesn't like vanilla???

Next step was to toss together the cubed bread crumbs, broken gingersnaps, chopped rhubarb and quartered strawberries in a separate bowl. I chose to use fresh whole wheat bread from Breadsmith, one of my favorite bakeries in Milwaukee. This bread worked great because it was dense and more on the dry side, allowing the custard to absorb well. I also found some delicious organic gingersnaps in the cookie aisle. They weren't overly sweet which was perfect for the recipe. I found that the sugar and berries already create a great deal of sweetness.



The last step was to add the custard to the bread mixture and toss for an even coat. I let the mixture sit and absorb for about 5 minutes before transferring the mixture into the prepared 11 x 17 baking dish. I baked the bread pudding at 375 for about 40 minutes (covered in foil), adding a brown sugar and oats topping for the last 10 minutes.


Most of the girls dug into the dish immediately. It is really good warm and fresh, but I ended up heating up a bowl the next day and found it just as scrumptious!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Concerts on the Square

One of my favorite things about being in Madison during the summer is concerts on the square! For the past three Wednesdays I've been setting up camp on the capitol square with close friends and family to wine and dine. For those of you not familiar with the event, the Madison Chamber Orchestra plays a specific genre of music every Wednesday night during the summer months. This past Wednesday was film night. The orchestra graced us with lovely tunes from James Bond, Aladdin, and much more!

Steph, Kari, and I

Kyler's parents, Kipp and Jennifer, were kind enough to set up a table for us early in the afternoon to reserve our "designated spot." Everyone brought a dish to pass and we ended up with a feast! Our buffet consisted of tomato and cucumber salad, bow tie and poppy-seed salad, a spinach and berry salad, artichoke dip, olive dip, Texas caviar and white chocolate covered fruit! Between our large assortment of food and wine the night was a complete success.

Alicia and Kelli

My mother failed to open her eyes for this picture.....but I still thought it was cute! Sorry Mom! :)


And of course I needed a picture with my favorite couple Kipp and Jen!

I was so happy to spend the evening with great friends and family. Can't wait for next Wednesday...."Abba" is the featuring genre!





Thursday, July 7, 2011

Boom Shocka Locka!




Fourth of July weekend was a complete success! I knew the weekend would be busy and jam packed, but between the four day weekend I was able to see both sides of the family, travel to Milwaukee, cook out and enjoy three firework shows! The festivities all began on Saturday afternoon. I kicked off my Saturday morning by walking up to the capital square with Kyler's mom and friends; we strolled the farmer's market and filled up on plenty of goodies along the way. When I got back home Jared and I went on a 5 mile walk around town before leaving for my cousin Lauren's graduation party. Lauren graduated from Sauk City High School in May, but decided to have an early summer party to celebrate her accomplishments.


I love getting together with the family. We celebrated over great food and cold beers; perfect for a sunny July afternoon! After the party my mom, dad, brother and I drove to the Madison Truax Air Base where we attended a Fourth of July festival held by Jared's work. We sat on the hillside of the base, watched the fighter jets Taxi off the runway and watched the Rhythm and Booms fireworks show.






I had such a great time with my family and met lots of Jared's co-workers. Between the fly over of the jets and the beautiful sunset the evening wrapped up on a very positive note!



Sunday morning I was up early packing and off to Milwaukee! Kyler and I met up with our friend's John and Allison for lunch early Sunday afternoon and spent the afternoon with them and little Elliot! Allison put Elliot down for a nap in the afternoon...before we knew it we all woke up from a much needed nap. Later that night Kyler and I met up with some more friends and classmates. We ventured down to Port of Call on the river and enjoyed some appetizers and drinks before our river boat cruise! Around 8pm we set sail down the Milwaukee River and anchored out in the bay to watch the fireworks.








The evening turned out to be goregous! We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an hour worth of fireworks...I had so much fun visiting with some classmates from my cohort and many other friends. At the beginning of this summer I mentioned how nice it was to be in Madison and away from Milwaukee, but after returning to Milwaukee for the weekend I realized how much I love both cities. Each of the enviornments have so much to offer! Overall Milwaukee ended up being a really fun and enjoyable getaway!



As our weekend began to wrap up Kyler, Keaton, Mandy, Sean and I enjoyed brunch at Trocadero in Milwaukee. Despite some pretty terrible serivce we all enjoyed our morning together and left for Madison early afternoon. Before we knew it Kyler and I were driving up the Lodi to cookout with my dad's side of the family. My parents, brother, cousins, aunt and uncle arrived earlier in the day to help clean up the farm and do some lawn maintence. Luckily Kyler and I got out of doing lawn work! Instead we did some target shooting with my grandpa and rode the golf cart around the farm!











My grandpa used to be a rifle safety instructor so any opportunity he gets to target shoot with his grandkids he takes! We had so much fun...and as Kyler mentioned, "how much more patriotic can you get..shooting guns at beer cans on the fourth of july!?!" haha...after targeting shooting we feasted over freshly caught salmon and haddock, burgers, veggie salad, and baked beans on the patio.


We wrapped up our evening by attending the fireworks show in Monona. Kyler and I met Steph, Sara, and Nate down on the grounds. By the end of the evening we were exhausted and most definitely ready for bed! Overall the Fourth of July was a great success. I had so much fun seeing friends and family and just taking the opportunity to kick back and enjoy a weekend of summer fun!