laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

We’re expecting


As I sat out on my deck enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking, I’m going to cry if it snows again. Leave it to my husband to burst my bubble, but… we’re supposed to have snow this weekend (Ok, so he didn’t choose this weather, but because he informed me, that really becomes a moot point.). And I really may cry if we do see snow. We have, after all, had snow since October.

Anyways, this had me thinking about expectations… we expect spring to follow suit and spring into summer, but here that is not always the case.  It likes to dabble it’s way in and out until we’re in full meltdown, and then it’s winter again. Aren’t there many things in life this can relate to? We have expectations about so many things, both realistic and unrealistically. Like the expectation so many have that you’re going to live happily ever after, because you have found the one. My brother is getting married in less than a month and he and his fiancée spent the weekend with us, which also got me thinking about expectations. There was a little squabble about him not being willing enough to continue helping with the projects that are of course leaving this soon-to-be-bride a little frantic. Erik and I laughed and said, You think it’s hard now, just wait. (We’re so encouraging, right?) And we both reiterated that the first year or two or three… are spent learning each other in ways you maybe thought you already knew. And most importantly, you will learn how to fight with each other. I don’t mean you’ll learn how to defeat each other with one fell swoop (although you will learn which button to push to do just that). What I mean is that you will learn the way each other fights (this was a point from our pre-marital counselling that really was so helpful to us). You may learn that he needs to work issues out immediately or that she really needs to be given some space before being able to talk through an issue. Either way, you learn, and you adjust.

What does this have to do with expectations? Well, we expect things to be easy, we expect to continuously feel love, we expect to always feel/work/live/love as we do now. Unfortunately, what people often fail to take into consideration is this simple fact: Life does not just happen. We make choices. I think what it all boils down to, and what much of the last weeks’ Love Dare has been talking about, is that we can choose. We can expect the worst or expect the best, but if we’re not actively choosing the best, we’re not going to get it. Expectations are not the enemy, lack of choosing to pursue them, is. Especially in our relationships. As most newlyweds/new relationships of any kind (whether dating or friendships) you have this rush, this glow that you may feel defines your relationship and surely you will always get butterflies whenever you see them. I’m not saying you can’t have a great relationship throughout the years, what I am saying is that you have to actively pursue that. Because even though I have known my husband for hundreds of years (ok not that long, but 1/2 of my life! That’s gotta count for something!) he cannot read my mind! No matter how badly I want him to. He knows everything about me, all my secrets, all my fears, hopes, and dreams… and yet he cannot read my mind! And your other half can’t either. No matter how many sentences you can finish, no matter how many times you find the thing they were looking for (before they asked for it), no matter how much you can convey through looking at each other… Because he cannot read my mind, and because I often don’t speak what’s on it…we run into problems. And sometimes that leads me to days where I don’t particularly enjoy being his wife. And I think I can say with some authority, that on those days, he’s probably not enjoying being my husband either. But we choose to continue to be. Year five of our marriage was a bit tumultuous for us, as individuals we’ve had hard things emotionally and physically, and as a couple we’ve struggled between how to be a loving couple while working and raising children, very young and close in age children. And on the days that we weren’t really feeling like being active participants in this marriage, we choose to do it anyways. We chose to kiss each other goodnight, good-morning, and goodbye every day, even when we don’t really feel like it. Which is why, as we’re gaining on year 7… we’re not itching (you know, the 7 year itch). In fact, because we CHOSE to push our way through, to love our way through, to pray our way through…we are probably in the best place of our marriage, thus far. We are leaning on each other more, we trying to voice our feelings (especially the good ones) more, and we’re loving more thoroughly. But it is not by accident.

We believe in living with intention, and not just in our food. In our lives too- in our parenting, in our interactions with each other and with those around us, and in the way we love and show love. We don’t just believe in living that way, we practice it. It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy, but it is why I have the expectation that we’ll continue living and loving together as a family for as long as God allows.

 

Better Than Expectations Pizza

I know I mentioned previously doing pizza fridays (and I still really want to do that!) but because it was so good, I’m going to share this recipe with you now, on a plain old Wednesday! Friday I’m going out to buy an adapter for this stupid camera! So maybe Pizza Friday will be pictures! Anyways, the hubs texted me a couple weeks ago saying Buffalo Chicken Pizza sounded good. We’ve never had one before or made one, so I did what I do when something sounds good that I haven’t made before… I google as many recipes as I can. And then I make something completely different! Here is what I made:

Super Yummy Pizza Crust (Makes 2 small pizzas- fed four)

  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 3 tbs dried milk powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 tsp cinder vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray sheet for easiest crust removal. Combine flours, dried milk, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum. In a separate bowl, whisk the water, oil, and vinegar. Pour the liquid ingredients over the flours, mixing slowly with a spatula until it is a smooth and soft, that just holds its shape (more than pancake batter but less than cookie dough). Transfer about 1/3 of the dough to a pastry bag, or resealable bag (what I used) with one corner snipped off. Divide remaining dough between the two pans, spreading it thinly with a spatula- about 7inch rounds. Pipe a raised, “rim” around the edge of each one. *Brush all over with egg white (1 egg white, lightly beaten) to help sealing and browning. Bake until puffed and starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Cover with pizza toppings, return to oven for another minutes, or until bubbling hot.

*This crust was SO good! I think next time I make it I will double the recipe to make bigger, and a little thicker crusts.

Flying Buffalo Chicken

  • 3 cups of chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or whatever your favorite hot sauce is)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour (I used tapioca flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp buttermilk ranch seasoning
  • Shredded Cheese (I used mozzarella and cheddar)

While pizza dough/crust is in the oven (you can of course buy or make whatever kind of crust you like best), I do the topping: cook chicken over medium-high heat. When a little over halfway cooked, add in hot sauce. Stir to coat chicken thoroughly.

My husband isn’t a big fan of blue cheese, but you could always do the “sauce” with a blue cheese dressing, or ranch dressing from bottles. You could also use the hot sauce as the pizza sauce if you wanted a stronger taste/flavor and then have something for dipping. I make my own sauce:

Combine butter, flour, milk, ranch seasoning (the only mix I could find that is MSG and food coloring free!) in saucepan over med. heat. Boil two minutes, stirring frequently. If seems too thick add milk (by the tsp) if it’s not thick enough add flour/starch (by pinches).

Spread sauce on crust (as much or as little as you want), spread chicken generously over pizza and cover in as much, or as little, cheese as you like.

Stick back in the oven for about 7 more minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted and bubbling.

Enjoy! I’m not a big “buffalo” flavor lover, but this was really good- we’ll definitely be making it again!

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Just Call Me The April Fool


I have so many things I want to combine in this post, because there’s so much going on right now! I realize I haven’t said anything about “the Love Dare” the last weekish. And it’s not because I’m not doing it- I really am! As I knew would eventually happen (and perhaps why I stalled so much in the beginning- to prevent the inevitable.), I feel peace. And happy. I am now this perfectly kind, wise, patient woman that I always knew I could be. Ok, scratch that. But in truth, I am finding myself having more patience, which in turn is allowing me to respond to situations with more kindness than I’m afraid I’ve been showing as of late. And it’s having benefits. As I’m more patient with them (and in turn, showing more kindness), they are returning the favor. Hubbyman and I realized last night that there have been WAY less time outs at our house lately. (and I mean WAY less) And Hubby even has shown me an abnormal amount of kindness lately. The last couple of weeks he’d been looking at me and smirking. I was starting to worry. Finally last weekend it came out that he had been SEARCHING (he even went *gasp* shopping- on-line yes, but he also went to actual stores, like Williams*Sonoma! My husband!) for a pasta extruder/attachment so I can make macaroni and rotini (and therefore don’t have to buy any noodles!). This is a HUGE deal. I even got a back rub a couple nights ago, without asking for one, and without having to return the favor. Maybe it had something to do with the fact I had to miss out on my girls’ night with one of my favorite Happy Hour mistresses. (Seriously, she’s terrific! She knows that I get out infrequent enough that she is always reminding me that I’m important too, not to check my phone -much- and we stay out until I have to go back!) But even that is something to be thankful for. He had is in the middle of a big project at work and had to work, but he still recognized that I was missing out. Suffice it to say, things are looking up in our household.

…or maybe it was all a big trick!! This morning I got up and it was freezing! I’d been cold all night too- even with Big E snuggled into our bed (I don’t even know when that happened?!), and that boy’s a heater. So turns out the heat never got turned up before bed (I turn it way down during the day depending on if we’re spending our day upstairs or downstairs… no point in heating an area we’re not in!). So I was cold and a little cranky. And then I go upstairs. I have Littlest E on my hip, because he’s been up for quite some time playing and is starting to get a little cranky. I get my favorite coffee cup -because of it’s size- and turn on the water (yes, I admit it, I was going to make instant coffee. Please don’t judge. I know it’s bad. I’m just that desperate for coffee immediately.)… and then it happens. I get sprayed with water. And it takes me a moment to realize what’s going on (hello?! no coffee yet!?!), and to realize that the baby on my hip is being sprayed directly in his face. Great. So I turn the water off and look at the hose, figuring something had to have gone wrong. And then it hits me. It’s APRIL FIRST. Crap. And there’s the string tied around the hose. So I do a little growling and muttering as I cut the string off. I wipe Ethan down, change shirts.  ….it might also be helpful to know this about me: I HATE when my clothes get wet. Like hate, hate. So much that a small spill even, will send me back into the house to change, no matter where I was heading, or how late I already am. Hate. It’s weird, don’t question it- it’s just how it is. Then Miss E (the 2 1/2 year old, nicknamed the dEva) starts asking for some water and she’s whining… so I pick her up and we go get her water. Turns out, the hose had been tied down so long, it wanted to stay in that position. You should also know something about Miss E: She’s dramatic, and she hates getting her clothes wet at least as much as I do. And still no coffee yet.

Breathe in….breathe out. Make enough coffee to feed an army. Drink and watch Ellen. Breathe. Try not to mutter about killing my husband in front of the children… aaahhh, coffee kicks in. As I posted in my facebook status: [Husband]- apparently you’ve forgotten who cooks your meals, washes your clothes, and raises your children… because you’d think you would know better than to pull a prank on her. But don’t worry, I’ll make dinner extra special as a reminder!

Now to plan dinner…. BAHAHAHA! (that’s my online version of evil laughter)

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The Leftover Mama


I have at least 3 other posts in the works… but I’m just not feelin’ any of ’em. At least at this particular moment. In fact, the reason I haven’t done any new posts for about a week, is I haven’t been feelin’ any topic! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’m going to attempt and muddle my way through to break the spell.

I stay busy…pretty much all day, pretty much every day. And I am guilty of snack meals. I make the kids lunches and yet I just grab something quick. If at all. Sometime in the afternoon, the cups of coffee without any food jitters start to set in… and then I grab something. For me the worst is when the husband is working late… I make the kids dinner and sometimes will eat with them. But I’m very much less into making a family meal, when we’re not eating as a family. Which is silly because by the time I’ve searched through the pantry or fridge trying to decide on something that sounds good… I could have actually made something that tasted really good. Last night was a victory for me, small, but a victory none the less! You see, I’m kind of queen of the leftovers! I LOVE finding random things left over from meals that don’t have enough left to be a meal itself and finding a way of combining and making it new!  Especially when it’s just the kids and I (they’re much less picky!). So this last week or two we’ve had: chicken sausages (the yummy kind from Trader Joe’s), cannelloni (ricotta filled!), pizza (Chicken, spinach, white ranch sauce), and of course various forms of noodles, just to name a few.

So night-without-daddy #1: There were only 2 chicken sausages left. Sweet Italian and Jalapeño. I put them in the food processor, mixed with some ricotta (left over from the cannelloni and ravioli) and put over noodles. (note: I always make at least one extra serving of all meals so that there’s enough for hubby’s lunch the next day). The kids ate THREE whole bowls full- each! I repeat: 3!! I barely had any, and there was none left for Daddy! But the kids were happy and full, and let’s face it, we wouldn’t trade that for all the lunches in the world!! Night #2: Also inspired by leftovers. Made rice noodles (that taste like wonderful egg noodles- seriously, so, so good!). Used leftovers from pizza! Ranch sauce had been thrown in the fridge in a dish with the spinach and chicken, so I put it all in a pot. Sauteed some more spinach, threw a small dish of leftover breakfast sausage in the food processor, and added in some of my “add to everything” almond flour… it was so yummy! Night #3: Made kids their favorite kind of sandwiches: gluten-free waffles (used just like 2 slices of bread) filled with nutella, a dollop of peanut butter, and a drop of jelly. Just as I was thinking about eating a waffle myself… I looked at the breast and a half of thawed chicken that needed to be cooked anyway. And the leftover mama (how many names can I make up out of this?) opted for delicious! And all but the almonds were left over from previous meals: spinach, blue cheese crumbles, chicken, toasted almond slices, and strawberry poppyseed dressing. So good.


We are hoping to start eating more fish… here is what I’m making this weekend:

Chili-Seared Salmon

  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Sweet Pepper Salsa

Combine chili powder, salt, and pepper; rub evenly over salmon fillets. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add salmon, cook 4 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Serve with Sweet Pepper Salsa.

sidenote: For an easy but delicious salmon dish with crispy skin, be sure to use “pure” olive oil, not extra-virgin olive oil, which burns more easily.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and julienned
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 lg yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
  • 1 sm red onion, julienned
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Stir together all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I may double it, just so I have leftovers I can work into another recipe! What are your favorite meals to make out of leftovers?

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food glorious food!


I don’t especially like when hubbyman has to work late. But… sometimes I appreciate that it gives me extra time to get things done, because I like to make the most of the time he has with us! And if you read yesterday’s post you know I am undertaking the project of “The Love Dare” on my family. Yesterday’s dare (on top of continuing the “not saying anything negative”) was to do something kind. Well, I’m at home all day with 3 little ones and the puppy… and I was a little tempted to just say the not saying anything negative thing was kindness enough! Instead, I put my kindness into “man language.” Also known as food. A language my husband, and even my children, recognize as love. I’d gotten a wonderful magazine (Disney FamilyFun) from my aunt with “ways to jazz up dinner” by Andrew Zimmern (from the TV show Bizarre Foods). And two caught my eye: Korean Fried Chicken Fingers and Chinese Peanut-Sesame Noodles. I opted for the first, but I’m hoping to try the noodles this weekend! While Erik came home earlier than anticipated and I started it a little later than I’d anticipated… it was still a hit! While fried of course isn’t the healthiest of choices, it’s better for you (and tasting!) than mcnuggets! The kids really LOVED it and so did the adults. So much in fact, I’m tempted to make it again tonight! And maybe you should try it too! Here’s how:

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup minced scallion
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 8 lg boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each sliced lengthwise into three strips

Side note: I didn’t have everything to make this recipe “exact” (and it just might kill me to follow a complete recipe word for word) used 1/2  cup minced red onion (because that’s Erik’s favorite so it’s what we had) and I didn’t have white pepper so I just used my black pepper grinder. I also used sea salt instead of table salt. Oh, and I used boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of thigh (again because it’s what I had!)

In a  large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken and marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, but as long as overnight.   (I suggest overnight or a few hours. I only did maybe 1/2 hr and it was still really good but I’d like to give the flavors longer to set in next time)

Batter:

  1. Oil for frying
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 2/3 cup corn starch
  4. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 tsp pepper
  7. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  8. 3/4 cup cold water

Side note: I used veg. oil, but plan to try sunflower oil next time! And the flour I did 1/4 cup almond meal flour (because it’s just so yummy!) and 1/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour. Again, I also used sea salt instead of table salt.

Fill a heavy, deep pan with 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat it to 350 degrees. combine the dry ingredients for the batter. Quickly whisk in the water until the mixture is evenly blended.

Use tongs or a pair of chopsticks to dip and coat the chicken in the batter. Fry the strips in batches of 6 for 5-7 minutes, then drain on paper towels.  (I found that about 6ish minutes was a good time. And once you put them in, let them settle, and then scrape them off the bottom. If  you wait to long they stick and removing them pulls a lot of the breading off. Also I’d just the next 6 strips in the batter while the other batch was frying.)

Heat the oil to 380 degrees. Fry the chicken in batches once more until crisp, about 60-90 seconds. Place the cooked chicken fingers on fresh paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

*If you were in a time crunch and didn’t mind using the extra oil, you could have a second pan set up so that after you drained the chicken you could immediately move it into the hotter oil.

The chicken would be good with rice or any kind of potato, or really any vegetable for that matter! I made mashed potatoes but forgot all about them! (Guess what we’re having tonight?!) And for the dipping sauce we used sweet and sour. (the recipe suggested it) Although really any kind of dip you have or enjoy would be good with this, I would think. It did also suggest a dip you could serve with it for a spicy kick…but I didn’t have most of the ingredients, and Miss E is allergic to most of them anyways. Plus I kind of shy away from recipes where I’d have to buy a lot of ingredients that I wouldn’t know what to do with other than this one recipe. (Although I do admit it does sound good.) So for the bold, here you go:

Spicy Korean Red-Pepper Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup Gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste found in Asian markets)
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • 1/4 agave nectar (or in a pinch, corn syrup)
  • 1 tbs dark sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice

Mommy’s Helper Note: I like to make things the kids can help with and the kids LOVE eating things that they’ve helped to make. While they obviously can’t help with the raw chicken or the frying… I did put the chicken in a ziploc and had them help me pound them with a rolling pin (not necessary but thought they’d cook more evenly if they were uniform and I knew the kids would enjoy the activity). And I always let them help me “unload”  all the ingredients into the bowl for the batter.

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