Monday, August 29, 2011

Double Vision

I had to take in a snack to school for Christine today. As I walked past the library, I noticed her teacher, Mrs. Norby inside. I decided to just drop off the snack in the classroom, only to find Mrs. Norby reading to the class in their classroom. I thought I must have just mistaken whomever I had seen in the library for Mrs. Norby. As I headed back to the office to sign out, I saw her again! This time I was able to look at her directly in the face. It had to be her. I must have had a confused expression on my face, because after Christine's "teacher" left, the secretary filled me in. "Mrs. Norby has an identical twin, you're not crazy." I remembered then that Christine had told me that, but I had no idea that they both worked at her school. I'm hoping that my embarrassing moments throughout the year are few with teacher mix ups, but I'm not counting on it.

Christine and the real Mrs. Norby on the first day of school. I'm guessing by the quality of our point and shoot's photos that a certain little boy has gotten his fingerprints on the lens.

Emma on her first day of Kindergarten (sniff). She really likes Mrs. Barnett. I couldn't get Emma to look at the camera, and I didn't want to be "that mom" that turns the first day into a photo shoot. I do, however, like Michael's supermodel pose in the background.

Jacob loves having the older girls in school. The competition for my and Julia's time has gone down, and he loves feeling like he's the oldest for a bit. More importantly, I think he enjoys having one mother instead of three.

Here's our cool girl Julia. She's 7 months now, and I can't believe how fast time is flying. Someday I'll do a post on her entrance into this world, but not while she sits squirming on my lap. Perhaps when she's forty.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Yummy, delicious, fabulous, but time consuming. It's worth it though, oh, so worth it.

Shot in the pan

and on the plate.

Eggplant Parmesan
2 pounds globe eggplant (2 medium eggplants), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 slices high-quality white bread (about 8 ounces), torn into quarters
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Tomato Sauce
3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 generous tablespoon)
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup fresh basil leaves chopped
8 ounces whole milk mozzarella or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
10 fresh basil leaves torn, for garnish

1. Eggplant: Toss half of eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in large bowl until combined; transfer salted eggplant to large colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and kosher salt, placing second batch in colander on top of first. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions, place rimmed baking sheet on each rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pulse bread in food processor to fine, even crumbs, about fifteen 1-second pulses (you should have about 4 cups). Transfer crumbs to pie plate and stir in 1 cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Wipe out bowl (do not wash) and set aside.
3. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour; seal bag and shake to coat eggplant. Remove eggplant slices, shaking off excess flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with bread crumb mixture; set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
4. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
5. Sauce: While eggplant bakes, process 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor until almost smooth, about 5 seconds. Heat olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of diced tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes (you should have about 4 cups). Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Assembly: Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp; sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.

Notes: Sometimes I serve this on it's own, sometimes with pasta, sometimes, just standing by the pan with a fork. I love this as is, but if you don't want to assemble it, this would be great as an appetizer, using the tomato sauce for a dip. Of course, then you would miss out on the cheesy goodness of the mozzarella.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Quotes from Christine and Emma this week.

Christine: Don't get me started on that myna bird business.

When talking to Christine, if you start laughing at her, she immediately clams up. She hates feeling like someone is making fun of her. So it was very important that I kept a straight face during this conversation. Emma and I were talking about pets that can talk. When the subject of myna birds came up, Christine gave the above response. This is where my acting abilities were put to the test. I couldn't think of how she would know anything about myna birds or their business. Straining to keep my smile under wraps, I asked her how she knew about them. She had read Fudgemania at school, and Fudge's myna bird's patent phrase was, "Hello stupid." Apparently, she had had enough of that myna bird business.

Emma: I hope my mouth doesn't explode.

I normally ask the kids to brush their teeth before they get dressed, so they don't get toothpaste on their clothes. Emma decided her way was better. As she was brushing her teeth, she made the above comment, hoping that she wouldn't drool toothpaste onto her shirt.

As for Jacob, he'll give me a heart attack one of these days. He knows how to unlock doors, all of the best uses for a stool, and where various dishes, foods, and beverages are kept. His next skill set to learn is how to start his own movies. He knows how to turn on the tv and dvd player, and he can even put a movie in, he just doesn't know how to get the tv to play the movie. For a little peek into our days here, this morning Emma came to get me because Jacob was watching the 6:30 AM. He's not afraid of mornings.

Julia is perfect. She sleeps well, smiles easily, and is very playful. She makes it hard to get things done, because it's so fun to play with her.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why I cringe when our apartment phone rings

My job as an apartment manager is anything but fabulous. One of my least favorite aspects is the phone work that comes with the job. I'm a firm believer in caller id. It's a bit ridiculous, but I have some anxiety answering the phone when the caller id isn't familiar. Of course most of the phone calls I get on that phone are from people I don't know. Here's an example of the kinds of phone calls that I get.

Me: Mountain View Apartments, this is Michelle.
Him: Hey, you got anything open?
Me: We're actually full right now.
Him: Well, how much do your apartments cost?
Me: $900 a month, plus electricity.
Him: What apartments are these?
Me: This is Mountain View Apartments.
Him: What?
Me: This is Mountain View Apartments.
Him: Well, this is the number I got for Fox Meadows.
Me: (losing patience) It's still Mountain View Apartments.
Him: Not Fox Meadows?
Me: No.
Him: Okay, bye.
Me: Bye.

And, now you know why I cringe when the apartment phone rings.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Of course I love him

This was the most recent picture I could find of us. If both of us are in a picture (rare), then we usually have the kids with us too. This was from Julia's blessing, after 1:00 church, after cooking for between 25-30 people, after trying to adjust to having four kids, so ignore the shiny faces with tired eyes.

The original intent of this post is to proclaim my undying love for Michael. If me saying that fills your dose of lovey-doveyness, stop reading now.

We've been married for nine years now. Good, bad, beautiful, and ugly, I still love him. My sweet friend sums up one's chances in marriage like this, it's a crap shoot. She's exactly right. Who knows how life will affect you or your chosen mate? Luckily for me, he (hopefully) likes the changes that life has brought to me. I can most definitely say the same for him. He's still my best friend. When I take on too much (I regularly volunteer for jobs that are too big for me), he always comes up with a way to save my bacon. He's an awesome dad. He honors me, his children, and his priesthood daily. I couldn't ask for more. I love you Michael!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grilled Fish Tacos

I know, I know, another recipe. Some day my life and pictures of my kids will dominate this site again. Until then, enjoy this great taste of summer. Sorry, no picture. It would just be a tortilla anyway.

2 lbs fresh grouper, snapper, mahi-mahi or haddock fillets
8-12 flour tortillas
1 head lettuce, shredded

4 tbs olive oil
4 tbs garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
4 tbs lime juice

Mango Avocado Salsa
2 mangos, diced medium
1 avocado, diced medium
¼ cup red onion, diced
1 tbs jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
1 tbs lime juice
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine fish fillets with marinade mixture and refrigerate for 1 hour. Grill fillets on a hot grill. Chop cooked fillets into bite-sized pieces. While fish is grilling, combine ingredients for salsa. Refrigerate until ready to use. Fill tortillas with fish pieces, shredded lettuce, and salsa. Serves 6.

Notes: The first time I made this, I didn’t think there was enough of the marinade, so I doubled it. It seemed to be the right amount, so that’s the way it’s written now. I’m not a seafood person, but I love these tacos. This salsa would probably make anything taste good. If you aren’t familiar with grilling fish, watch it carefully, it doesn’t take long. I use the frozen mahi-mahi fillets from Costco, and those take 5-8 minutes to cook, depending on their size.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pineapple Pork Roast

Yummy, tender, and even Michael, the hater of pork roasts, liked this.

3 lbs pork roast, I used a boneless loin, but any will work
1 15 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
¼ c packed brown sugar
¼ c soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbs cornstarch dissolved in ¼ c cold water (to thicken the sauce after cooking)

To prepare the sauce, mix all the ingredients (except roast and cornstarch slurry) in a bowl.
Place roast in a crock pot and pour the sauce on top. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.
Remove roast from crock pot when done, set on a heated platter. Prepare the cornstarch slurry, being sure that all of the cornstarch is dissolved (no one likes lumpy sauce). Whisk the slurry into the sauce in the crock pot to thicken.
Add the roast back to the crock pot and let cook on high for about 15 min more.
Remove roast from crock pot and slice to serve, spooning sauce over sliced pieces.