Friday, January 20, 2012

Aubrey gets adjusted

So, every time Aubrey sees Wayne crack my back, we have a little routine. I "crack" her back (and she hams it up with lots of grunts), and then she wants to crack my back. I oblige with grunts too. Today, we caught a little of it on video. This is for you, Dad. ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Covered Turtles

Christmas is the time for candy making. I have a few recipes on my go-to list, but I have a lot more recipe testing to do. After making 3 different batches of Turtles before Christmas this year, I felt like I needed to wait to try this recipe. I'm glad I tried them. This is my new go-to Turtle recipe...I'm adding it to my list of candy-making musts for next Christmas. If I can hide them, they may last until Valentine's Day.

Chocolate Covered Turtles

4 tablespoons butter, cut up, plus more for pans
3/4 pound pecan halves (about 3 1/2 cups), toasted (Preheat oven to 350
   degrees. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet. Put in oven for 5-10 minutes,
   or until the pecans become aromatic. Be careful not to let them scorch).
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening


Generously butter 2 baking sheets.
On the baking sheets, arrange 2 pecan halves together, leaving 2 inches of space between each cluster.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk, the corn syrup, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk and the 4 tablespoons butter, and cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees F. (Use a candy thermometer - you want to be precise). Remove from heat immediately, and stir in the vanilla.

Working quickly and carefully, use a tablespoon, (I used a cookie scoop), and spoon caramel on top of each nut cluster and let harden. (If the caramel becomes too stiff to pour, return to low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until it returns to the proper consistency).

To make the chocolate coating, heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir. Return for 15-30 seconds and stir, repeating until chocolate is melted, but is cool to the touch. Be careful not to overheat or scorch.

Drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon of tempered chocolate over each cluster. Chill to harden. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, with waxed paper separating the layers to prevent sticking. Or you may freeze the turtles if you will store them longer.

Makes approximately 70 turtles.


Ted and Sue got Aubrey some art supplies for her birthday. Wayne admitted that the fingerpaints won't get any use except when I'm home. He kind of hates mess. So, this afternoon, I decided to break them out.

It started innocently enough.

At this point, Wayne said, "this is HORRIBLE. Time for a bath."

I couldn't stop giggling as I snapped away.

Bath time! :)

Fiesta Egg Casserole

At Christmas, I made this egg casserole for our family. I'd say it was a hit. Sorry I don't have a picture for it.

Fiesta Egg Casserole

10 eggs
1 pound ground pork sausage, browned and fat drained
4 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
1 can green chilies
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13"x9” casserole dish. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared dish. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is set, 35-45 minutes. Serve with Pico de Gallo or salsa.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Smoky Beef and Black Bean Chili

I ran across this recipe and since I had a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce sitting around I decided to try it. I like it. But, I am a sucker for that smoky flavor. It's a bit spicy for my kids, so you may want to take the seeds out of your chiles. I also read a tip today suggesting that you freeze your chiles, making them easier to chop up without the mess - and also keeping them from spoiling before you can use them.

Smoky Beef and Black Bean Chili
-Adapted from Cooking Pleasures/Melanie Barnard

1 pound ground beef chuck
1 large onion, chopped
1 large orange bell pepper, finely chopped
2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 30-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
3 cups water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Cook beef, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until the beef is browned. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in chiles, chili powder, adobo sauce and cumin; cook and stir 2 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and water; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer at least 10-15 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro.

Garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro and sour cream if desired. I served it with mini cornbread muffins and broccoli in cheese sauce.

Aubrey is 2!

Time for a happy dance!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Nephew!

Rachel, Hollins, and Jillian welcomed a new baby boy to their family last night at 11:29 pm,

Reid Matthew Showalter.

He weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces. What a cutie.

We are celebrating - so happy for his safe arrival!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Celebrating (almost) 2 years!

Wayne's sister, Rachel, was scheduled to be induced on January 15th - Aubrey's birthday! And since Ted and Sue would travel to be there, we celebrated this evening. They treated us to dinner at Gindi (Japanese and Thai food - yum)! Then we came back for presents and dessert.

First, a picture of Aubrey who has learned (this week) to climb up on the kitchen stools...of course, from the stool is access to the counter and cupboards...

Watching Sesame Street

Anyway, here she is, inspecting the Sesame Street themed wrapping paper. This kept her happy for quite awhile...but she did finally ask to open it.

Admiring her new finger paints.

Trying out her new watercolors.

Elmo and Cookie Monster Cupcakes. Not professional-looking, but at least Aubrey recognized who they were supposed to be. ;)

Getting ready to dig in.

While we were celebrating this evening, we got a call that Rachel is in labor! So, we're now excitedly anticipating the news of the birth of their new baby!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas 2011

May I preface this post by saying that we did a poor job of documenting our holiday with pictures? OK - I needed that disclaimer.

This Christmas season, like many before, I came home from work, we hurriedly packed up the car, and began our journey to Indiana. We had a fairly uneventful trip. Aubrey hated her car seat for long periods, as expected. Overall, however, it went well.

Our first afternoon/evening we spent with Dave and Teneesa Stuckey's family. We enjoyed catching up while the kids played together.

And the dads and kids did a little last-minute "Christmas decorating." ;)
I just had to include this picture - Dave cracks me up.

Christmas was definitely different this year. My mom was in Thailand with Lynette and Rusty anxiously awaiting the birth of their new baby boy, Henry.  Needless to say, we were all anxiously awaiting his birth and were thrilled when he was born on December 27 (late evening on the 26th for us) at a healthy 8 pounds, 10 ounces.  We enjoyed staying connected with phone calls and Skyping.

Henry Miles Polinder
Isn't he just precious?

Tim, Carrie and family arrived on Christmas day. We had our traditional fondue meal that evening. Grandma Polly joined us, which we really enjoyed.

Fondue - December 25, 2011

I'm including this little video for Mom, Rusty and Lynette's sake since they couldn't be with us. (At least, that's why we took it).

We enjoyed some snow while we visited. After a little sledding, the Gator was put to good use. It reminds me of my childhood, when Dad would pull us on sleds behind the snowmobile.

Zion and Aubrey

Layla Grace

We spent a day in Decatur, visiting Wayne's Grandma, Billie, and got to enjoy seeing Uncle Max for lunch as well. Then we headed to Indianapolis for a few days to celebrate with the Stuckey side of the family.  We packed a lot of fun into those days. We enjoyed a morning at Monkey Joe's with loads of indoor inflatables. We did a little shopping, including a visit to the Lego store for Tyler. It was Trader Joe's for me. (I need connections...just some way to get a Trader Joe's in Wichita)! We enjoyed some delicious meals out, my favorite being a delicious family-style dinner at Maggiano's. Yum!

And of course, present opening.

Doesn't Hollins just make you smile? :)

We had such a good time. It's so good to reconnect and enjoy just being together. The celebratory spirit of Christmas doesn't hurt either.
Missing you all already.