Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eggnog French Toast Bake

This may not be a recipe that you should make often. When you see the amount of eggnog in this recipe, you'll understand. We frequently make this for breakfast on Christmas morning. Rich, yummy, delicious, and calorie filled.

1 loaf French bread
1 c butter
2 c brown sugar
2 tsp corn syrup
6 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 c eggnog or milk (if using milk, add a dash of nutmeg)
¼ tsp cinnamon

1. Slice bread into one and a half-inch slices (I don’t use the end pieces). Place bread in a 9x13-inch pan, layering as needed.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and corn syrup over medium heat. Cook until all ingredients are combined, stirring constantly. After the butter and sugar have melted, they will be separate. Be sure you keep it on the heat and stirring, it will combine. Pour syrup mix over bread.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, eggnog, vanilla, and cinnamon with a whisk. Pour over top of bread and syrup. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray.
4. Place dish in fridge with weights*. Refrigerate overnight.
5. Bake uncovered at 375° (350 if using a dark or non-stick pan) for 40-45 minutes, or until eggs are set and tops of bread looks crystallized. Serve with additional syrup (although I never do).

*This step is a must. If it isn’t weighted, some bread won’t get saturated and burns, while other pieces are soggy. I usually put another 9x13 pan on top and then use whatever is in the fridge to add extra weight, just make sure it’s even. Be especially sure to watch the liquid level so you don’t end up spilling the egg mix over the sides.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Jacob is pretty lucky to have sisters that think he's cute. He really is all boy. His latest "game" to play with his sisters is to wrestle them to the ground. I don't have a picture of his first step in the attack. He walks up behind one of his sisters and grabs her around the waist. He's found that if he can hold on long enough, this will happen...

So, once he has one of them on the floor,

he likes to sit, bounce, or try to tickle. For now, the girls think this is hilarious. I'm not sure how funny they will think this is in a few years.

He's also discovered that a Lazy Susan is a handy little cupboard to get into. I'm thinking of moving the cereal.

He loves apples...whole.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds tomatoes - peeled, seeded and quartered*
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 sprigs fresh basil for garnish

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic and cook until tender. Mix in tomatoes and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken broth, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 15 minutes.
2. Transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion hand blender), and blend until smooth. Return to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and gradually mix in the heavy cream. Garnish each serving with a sprig of basil.

*If using canned tomatoes, use 48 oz of whole tomatoes, being sure to seed and quarter them. You may need to add up to 2 tbs of sugar.

Notes: When I make this for someone other than my family, I stick to this recipe. If I make it for us , I add a little spice. When heating the butter and olive oil, I add a little crushed red pepper (maybe less than 1/8 tsp). Be very careful when blending the soup, only fill the blender half full. When putting the lid on, don't seal the feed tube (the little hole in the lid), just lightly hold the cover on.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I love homework

Christine's teacher gave a homework assignment that was a secret. She couldn't tell me what she was supposed to do, only that she needed a pen and a sticky note. We had a babysitter that night, so I left them to it. This is what I found when I came home and got ready for bed.

My bathroom mirror.

It reads: To: Mom
I love you
Frome: Christine

A little side note, I assumed that the sitter had helped her put the note up - nope. She climbed on the toilet and then over to the counter, where she could reach the cupboard and put up her note. It's a good thing that my bathroom is small, no pole vaulting, or long jumping required. And yes, her note was reciprocated, she had a note of her own the next morning.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A photo shoot with Jacob

Jacob likes to have his picture taken. He's not really a ham, but he's very interested in the camera. So, I suppose it's not so much having his picture taken, but he likes it when the camera is out. Here is how a normal photo session with Jacob starts and ends.

Catching him in the act of being cute. Like any kid, he loves it when someone pays attention to him. We can usually get about two or three of these type of shots. After that, it's all down hill.

Can I see that?

Why can't I see it? I just want to look!

Give me the camera!!

Why are you so mean? I just wanted to look at your fancy toy.

And, this is how nearly every session ends. Keeping in mind that the photographer is constantly walking backward to keep those cute little baby hands off of the lens.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm only three weeks late

Christine started school (awhile ago). She loves her teacher and enjoys being back in school. I couldn't be happier about her luck with getting her teacher. Our school had two first grade teachers, but that put the class sizes for them at 27 and 28. Thankfully, the day before school started, we got a letter saying that there was a new teacher, and Christine would be in his class. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the original teachers. I'm hoping that having some new blood will inspire the other first grade teachers. Mr. T (what the kids call him) is energetic, has lots of ideas, and seems to enjoy his class. We are very excited for this year.

Emma has been waiting since Christine was in preschool for her chance to go to school. She is in the same preschool that Christine went to and already has lots of friends there. She was able to start last Monday and loves it. We know that Mrs. Smith is perfect for Emma, she's lovey when needed, but her class definitely knows she means business. When Emma gets dressed on school mornings, she picks things out that she knows, "Mrs. Smith will love." She has already achieved sainthood in Emma's eyes, and we know Emma will have a great year too.

Jacob is busy with rodeo school. He rides this horse like no one's business. On the three glorious mornings that Emma is in school, Jacob takes a nap. I really enjoy my "referee free" mornings.

The other two occupants of our house are still alive and well. We're not quite through with filling rentals, but the end is in sight. I don't think I've ever been so excited for winter (people just don't move during the winter). Hopefully since things are starting to slow down here, my blog will receive a little more attention - no guarantees though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh my

I have a new love. I've always had a weakness for a good apple crisp. Of course the apples are important, but they are a tasty vehicle to my true love of crumb topping. This is my new favorite crumb topping. There is a little more salt in this version than most, but it really makes it. I doubled the cinnamon in the topping, simply because the topping bowl and the filling bowl were side by side, and I added the cinnamon to the wrong bowl. It was a divine mistake, which I will make again.

Skillet Apple Crisp

Serves 6 to 8
If your skillet is not ovensafe, prepare through step 3 and then transfer the filling to a 9x13-in baking dish. Top the filling as directed and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Use Golden Delicious apples, though any sweet, crisp apple such as Honeycrisp or Braeburn can be substituted, I used Gala. Do not use Granny Smith apples in this recipe. I am normally a proponent of toasting nuts before I add them to things, except when they're used in a topping. They will be plenty toasted without going to the trouble of doing it before hand. Serve the apple crisp warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

¾ cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup pecans , chopped fine
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I doubled)
½ teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter , melted

3 pounds apples (about 7 medium), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. FOR THE TOPPING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Set aside while preparing fruit filling.
2. FOR THE FILLING: Toss apples, granulated sugar, and cinnamon (if using) together in large bowl; set aside. Bring cider to simmer in 12-inch ovensafe skillet over medium heat; cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer reduced cider to bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice and set aside.
3. Heat butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until apples begin to soften and become translucent, 15 to 20 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Remove pan from heat and gently stir in cider mixture until apples are coated.
4. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit, breaking up any large chunks. Place skillet on baking sheet and bake until fruit is tender and topping is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes, and serve.

I wanted to show the syrup that forms in the pan. I took the picture of the crisp in the bowl a little too soon. We spooned this yummy goodness over the top of our ice cream. And now you know what I'll be eating for breakfast, that is if I can fight Michael off.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I haven't blogged this summer

This is our vonage box for the apartment phone, and this isn't counting the calls that I did answer. When we have a property open, I usually average 15-30 calls a day. I normally don't miss 20 calls a day, if I don't pick up the apartment phone, it goes through to my cell phone, so this number is misleading.

I should put a little note about how I really don't like talking on the phone to people I don't know. I'm a little neurotic that way. Don't get me wrong, if it's a friend/family member calling, I'm a big chatter. For some reason, I get ridiculously nervous making a phone call to someone I don't know. I'm sure part of it is knowing that somewhere during that conversation, I'll sound like a complete idiot. I normally have Michael make phone calls for various personal accounts we have (utilities, bills, etc). However, with that apartment phone, it's all me. I have come to detest the sound of that phone ringing. I think when we're done with managing, we'll have a party with a hammer and that phone.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Citrus Basil Vinagrette

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs orange juice
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 lemon, zested
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs honey
1/8 cup chopped basil
1 tsp cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a jar. Shake to combine.

For the salad, I used romaine with diced chunks of fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and croutons. The dressing will last about three days. If you strain the basil out, it is good for two weeks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I know I'm loved...because of pineapple juice

It may seem silly to equate love and pineapple juice, but it's true. With all things apartment that are going on in our house, our mornings are sometimes different. A usual Croft morning goes something like this:

5:00 or some other unholy hour, Michael gets up to go to the gym.
Anywhere between 6:00-7:oo (if Jacob is feeling kind) Jacob and I wake up.
Hopefully before 8:30 everyone else is up and out the door for my turn at the gym.

Because there are some apartment things that can be done only after the kids are in bed, sometimes the gym loses out to sleep. The way I figure it, if I'm getting an apartment ready until 0ne in the morning, that's a good enough workout. On the morning after nights like that, this is how our morning goes.

Between 6:00 -7:40 Michael gets up, showers, gets ready, and gets Jacob when he wakes up. If the girls wake up before he leaves, he gets them breakfast too. What am I doing during all of this? That's right, I'm still asleep in my cozy bed. When it's time for Michael to go to work, he'll come in and wake me up, telling me who is awake, what they have eaten, and any other pertinent things that have happened while I was dead to the world.
A little side note, when Jacob wakes up, he wants breakfast now, right now. The girls were nice enough when they were little that they didn't mind occasionally laying in bed with one or both of their parents until the morning was a little less, um, early. Jacob waits for no one when it comes to meal time. When he wakes up, it's time for breakfast.

So, now to the pineapple juice. I love it, plain and simple. I think all in my house know that when there is a can of pineapple to be opened, the juice is mine (I would actually buy pineapple juice, but even I can't drink all of it before it goes bad). It was no surprise to me to wake up after a late night with apartments to find this.

Michael gave Jacob pineapple that morning with his breakfast and was thoughtful enough to save the juice for me. That's love.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Concoction Enchildadas, Chicken three ways

I realize the name is a little odd, but concoction is the name Michael gives to anything I make that doesn't have a definite recipe. These enchiladas are different nearly every time. The only constant is that there is always cheese and tortillas. You can substitute nearly anything that you like wrapped in a tortilla in this "recipe." The quantity of filling determines how many tortillas you'll need. If you make too much filling, refrigerate it and make some more enchiladas, or cook more rice and serve it over top. I know the directions look long, but the actual dish doesn't take that long to make.

10-12 tortillas (I like corn, but have used flour before - if using corn, spray both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray and allow to heat in a 350 oven for 2-3 minutes)
2-3 chicken breasts, or a Costco rotisserie chicken, shredded* see explanation below
chicken broth* see explanation below
about one cup of cooked rice, if desired
about one cup of black beans, if desired
about one cup of corn, if desired
about two cups of cheese, shredded
2 cans of 10 oz. enchilada sauce (I use one red and one green)
8 oz. cream cheese on occasion

*For chicken three ways, bake, grill, or otherwise cook a whole chicken (or go to Costco and buy one). Serve with whatever side items strike your fancy.
Meal number one. Shred remaining chicken to use in enchiladas (or some other meal). Meal number two. For meal number three, put remaining chicken (bones and all) in a pot filled with water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow this to simmer for as long as you have time for; I've done it for as long as three hours. When you've waited long enough, remove the bones and skim the fat off of the top. Add carrots, celery, onion, and/or any other vegetables you like. When those have nearly finished cooking, add some noodles, and voila - meal number three is chicken noodle soup. Now, back to enchiladas.

*If you are using raw chicken, boil the breasts in a pot with enough broth to cover the top of the meat with one inch of broth. Bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20-60 minutes (the longer the better, but it usually takes about 20 minutes for the chicken to be fully cooked). If you allow the chicken to simmer for the longer amount of time, be sure to check on it every so often so it doesn't cook dry. When chicken is cooked, remove from heat - don't drain, shred chicken.

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Add chicken and one can of sauce to remaining broth (if using the raw chicken method). Heat this mixture to a simmer and allow to simmer until you need the filling - this is where I use the red sauce.
3. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.
If using cream cheese, add to the second can of sauce - this is where I use green sauce. Cover the bottom of the pan with about 1/2 cup of the second can of sauce. Be sure all other ingredients are prepped.
4. Add rice, beans, and corn to the chicken mixture. Get ready to start rolling.
5. Add some filling and cheese to a tortilla, roll it up, and place it seam side down in the 9x13 pan. Repeat until filling is used up or tortillas run out.
6. Pour remaining can of sauce over top of rolled enchiladas, being sure to spread it evenly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes. If the cheese isn't browned after 20 minutes, turn the broiler on to low, and broil until the cheese has browned. It doesn't take long for it to turn from melted pale cheese to browned to black, so watch carefully.
7. After removing from oven, allow the enchiladas to cool for about five minutes. Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, avocado chunks, olives, etc. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A surprise! - sorry Molly

I realize I am very behind with blogging. Between kids, apartments, and life in general, this has been one of the things (let's just say the list is long) that has been pushed aside. As I was looking through pictures of what to post, these caught my eye. Although there are things that happened before this that I haven't covered, I just couldn't let this one sit any longer.

As a preface, I'll start with an apology. As noted in the title, there is a little apology to my dear sister-in-law, Molly. I say again, sorry Molly, this tidbit really did make my day. A little history, Molly is married to Michael's brother Coby, who is stationed in Spain. So, because of the distance, we communicate mainly through Skype. Skype has the added bonus of video conferencing, which because of the time difference isn't utilized as much as we would like. I had never wanted to Skype Molly more than when she sent us a little birthday package. It had Jacob's and Christine's birthday presents, as well as a little surprise for us.

Here are the cute pajamas she sent for Jacob with the t-shirts that Christine loves. She especially likes the panda one.


A little surprise! Somehow, Kohl's must have slipped in this little goody. In case the glare from the plastic distorts it for you, yes, it is a pair of women's underwear.

Maybe a little forgiveness from Molly when she sees just how cute he is in these fireman pajamas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's just a napkin right?

This would seem like an ordinary napkin, but to my girls, it is the beginning of a war. It was just a typical morning at the Croft house. I got the kids their breakfast and headed for the shower. I hate when the kids start a fight when I'm in the shower. Trying to referee with soap in your eyes and a cool breeze meeting your backside because your lovely children have to rip open the shower curtain to tell you of their sibling's latest error isn't the best start to a day.

Pre-shower, the napkin war was brewing. Christine got Emma a napkin, and Emma didn't want one (never mind that usually when Christine gets a napkin, Emma's world ends until she gets one too). Christine tried to tell her that she didn't have to use it, but it could sit there waiting for her. Emma wanted nothing to do with that napkin. I finally convinced Emma that she didn't have to use it, and it could just be next to her at the table.

To the shower with me. Christine started the tattling. "Mom, Emma keeps doing this (arm stretched out) to her napkin. She keeps pushing it to the middle of the table, and she's almost sitting on the table." Nearly all of my responses were the same, "It's just a napkin, go eat your breakfast." Emma's turn. "Mom, sissy said I hafta use that napkin." Insert my earlier response.
My miserable shower was over, and the screaming had started. Emma finally runs into my room crying. "Sissy did this to my napkin!" The napkin was nearly torn in half. I couldn't help it, my response was, "Is this the same napkin that you didn't want before?" Emma, "Yes." Insert earlier response.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Christine has been late to school a few times .

Totally unrelated, but exciting nonetheless, Jacob finally cut a tooth! 12 months old, and he finally has a tooth. It looks like the next will come through shortly.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Time for a new post

Here's what Jacob has been up to lately.

He loves to be in the bathroom, so long as the light is on, he heads straight for it. He also loves the bathtub. He loves to stand by it and wait his turn.

He uses this little step for mischief. He can push it all over and then use it to climb up to something.

Waiting his turn.

This is another hot spot. He loves to take all of the puzzles and books off of the shelf. He doesn't really play with them afterward, he just likes to dump.

How can you get mad at that face?

Although, I am getting tired of putting the puzzles together multiple times a day. How fast a year has gone, in a few days, my baby will be one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

In my mind, there is no better combination than peanut butter and chocolate. Mint is a close second, but peanut butter takes the cake, or in this case the pie. If you're really ambitious, you can make your own crust, but why? I normally make this with a chocolate crust, but graham cracker is what was in the cupboard, still good. Enjoy!

8 oz softened cream cheese
½ cup milk
¾ cup extra chunky peanut butter
8 oz whipped topping
1 cup powdered sugar
1 9-inch chocolate or graham cracker crust
Chocolate Syrup

1. Mix cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed until soft and fluffy. Mix in peanut butter and sugar until incorporated.

2. Slowly add milk, beating until well blended. Fold in whipped topping.

3. Spoon into pie crust, mounding the top. Freeze until firm. When solid, cover with foil. (Pie may be frozen for several weeks.) Go ahead and throw the lid away that comes with
the store bought crust, it won't fit on.

4. To serve, remove pie from freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Drizzle chocolate syrup over individual pieces.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Since we are well into January, it's probably time to get some Christmas pictures up. These were taken at the Gazette's kid's Christmas party. I've been so behind with blogging, hopefully that will translate into a lot of catchup, but I'm not making any guarantees.

Christine and Santa
This guy is the nicest Santa. Everything is real!

Emma and Santa
I was really surprised that she talked to him. She normally clams up around people she doesn't know.

Jacob and Santa
I love this picture. Jacob was so smiley that day.

Christine got a stationary set. Paper, you are no longer safe in the Croft house.

Emma loves her tea set.

I thought he would really like the little ball toy in there, but I think his sisters played with it so much that he has forgotten it is his. Finally paper he could tear without it being snatched away.

My favorite part, a family picture that has includes everyone! I couldn't believe we got all of the kids to smile, look at the camera, and keep their eyes open. Now maybe I'll exchange our framed one from two years ago.