Zucchini-Carrot Casserole

i got this recipe out of an issue of southern living magazine about five or six years ago. it has always been one of my favorites. i haven't had it in a long time so i decided to make it for dinner tonight. it was delicous! here's the recipe...
2 tablespoon butter
2 zucchini, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon bread crumbs or crushed ritz crackers

Saute zucchini, carrot, and onion in butter 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the next 4 ingredients. Place in a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake @ 350 for 20 minutes.

...none of my picture turned out very good, they were all unfocused...you'll have to use you're imagination on this one

What I Did Today

went to starbucks the morning with andi and jodie and bonded over frappuccinos
went browsing in baby gap with the girls...found some sandals that jodie liked and needed, but didn't have her size...we left in tears
had lunch at home...i had leftover potato soup, andi had a hot dog, and jodie picked at a peanut butter and honey sandwich
the girls played in the sandbox while i watched and read...it was sunny and warm
the gilrs take a nap
i work on gathering reciepts and recording reimbursements
the tesco man arrives with my groceries
i unpack and put away the groceries
i make chocolate chip cookies for the hub while finishing reciepts
the girls wake up
i'm still working on reciepts and cookies
we drive to bethel pick up dan and go to the post office to mail stuff, including the reciepts
dan drops us at home and goes back to the hub
i finish cooking the rest of the cookies and start dinner prep
talk to my mom, she usually calls at this time
finish making dinner and cleaning up the kitchen
dan comes home
eat dinner
brush the girls teeth and get them ready for bed
put them to bed with dan
dan goes back to the hub
i wash up all the dishes from dinner
i blog

things that didn't get done...
cleaning the bathroom
cleaning the girls room
putting away clean clothes from when i did laundry three days ago


Bank Holiday

today is a bank holiday. we went to see an airshow in southend. the whole way there on the train it was POURING down rain! and when we arrived it was still raining. we trouped around in the rain for about half an hour before finally finding a starbucks. as we were sitting down with our peppermint mochas and hot chocolates the rain stopped and the sky started to clear. we then made our way down to the seaside to watch the planes. however i think the girls were more interested in watching all the roller coasters at the amusement park there. the couple of hours that we were in southend turned out to be nice, but as we made our way back to the train stations it started to rain again. the weather here changes so quickly. as i'm sitting here now i'm looking out the window at completely clear skies.


Potato Soup

tonight i finally got to make the potato soup i've been wanting to make. the recipe is here at delicious days. it was wonderful! i just made a few changes to suit my taste and ingredient availability. i halved the amount of curry powder and didn't put in any curcuma, because i couldn't find any. i used green zucchini instead of yellow (again it was all i could find) so my soup had more a green tinge than yellow. for toppings i used fried shallots and pancetta and sour cream.


Family Movie Night

tonight was family movie night in our household. everyone made their own french bread pizzas with the toppings of their choice. andi likes cheese and pepperoni on hers and jodie just likes cheese. we also added some fresh oregano from our herb garden. we watched The Great Mouse Detective while eating our yummy creations. we finished off dinner with snickers ice cream bars. we all had a great time together! and the girls really enjoyed the movie, which they got for andi's birthday.

Boot Sale

dan went to play football this morning with julian and some other lcm guys. while he was gone i went to my first boot sale. the local school was having one on their football field around the corner. for those of you who don't know a boot sale is where people park their cars in a big field and sell stuff our of the boot (or trunk) of their car, in other words a flea market. i went for the experiance and as a fun activity for the girls this morning, not really expecting to buy anything. i had two quid in my pocket. after browsing around for a bit i saw a Maclaren Twin Traveller Strollerthat i've had my eye on for a while. the lady held it for me while a made a run to the atm machine. after all was said and done i walked away from my first boot sale with a new stroller and two katie fforde books (The Rose Revivedand Stately Pursuits). what a fun morning!


Cafe Forever

this afternoon i went to cafe forever to talk to the catering manager about working in the kitchen a couple of mornings a week. so now i'm volunteering on tuesday and thursday mornings while the girls are in preschool. i'm very excited about getting some kitchen experience! i start one week from tuesday.

Roasted Asparagus Soup

i saw this recipe posted on another blog a week or so ago and i've been dying to try it ever since. so tonight was the night. it was absolutely fantastic. i also made the goat cheese pannini to go with it. the recipe is here at seven spoons. i do not have a blender so i just used a small hand blender. it worked pretty well. my soup was a little chunkier, but still delicious. i also do not have a pannini weight so i just put another frying pan on top and put something heavy in it. it worked great. the sandwich went great with the soup. everyone loved it, except for jodie, who declared that she did not like the green soup. she did however love the sandwich.

Cinnamon Crunch Muffins

summer has arrived!...at least it has for a couple of days. yesterday was in the upper 70's right now it is 84 outside, tomorrow is supposed to be near 70, but monday is supposed to be in the low 60's and rainy. ahh, london weather.

this morning i made cinnamon crunch muffins for moms and tots. this is also from my muffins cookbook. one of the things i like about the recipes in this cookbook is that they aren't too sickeningly sweet. these muffins are basically a sour cream muffin with a ribbon of cinnamon, walnuts and brown sugar running throught the middle. the recipe calls for using light brown sugar, but i think using dark brown sugar would be better. i think the dark brown sugar would have more flavor and would kind of melt a little bit more. the light brown sugar was a little too light and powdery. next time i'll try it with the dark brown sugar. here's the recipe...

from Muffins Fast and Fantastic
280 g plain flour (1 3/4 cups all purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
60 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 egg
5 fl oz (just under 2/3 of a cup) sour cream
6 fl oz (3/4 cup) milk or water
2 fl oz (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

filling and topping:
85 g (1/3 cup) light brown sugar
85 g (1/3 cup) pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Prepare muffin tins and heat the oven to 190 C/375 F.
Combine topping ingredients and set aside.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix together the wet ingredents in a small bowl.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The batter will be lumpy.
Fill each muffin cup with half the batter. Sprinkle half the filling over the muffins and top with remaining batter and topping. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.



dan left early tonight for kids club. i'm coming down with a cold and not feeling very well. dan had a snack before he left and the girls and i had angel hair with leftover marinara sauce. it was nice to have a break from cooking tonight and an easy cleanup. i'm feeling worn out.


Salmon and Mango Salsa

this is my first recipe to try out of my new salmon cookbook. the mango salsa was excellent, however the recipe called for the salmon to be slightly undercooked as it would "cure" in the lime juice of the salsa. i did this, but the salmon was a little undercooked for my liking. the next time i make this i would cook the salmon completely through in the oven and then flake it into the salsa or i would just serve the salsa along side the salmon. the flavors do go really well together. here's the recipe...

from Nick Nairn's Top 100 Salmon Recipes
1 pound salmon fillet, skinned
2 ripe mangos
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 green chillis, chopped
4 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

1. Heat a non-stick frying pan until hot and then cook salmon 2-3 minutes on each side. It will still be pink in the middle. Take it out of the pan and let it cool.

2. Peel and dice the mango. Add the cherry tomatoes, red onion, chillies, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper.

3. Flake the salmon into large pieces and gently fold into the salsa. Divide into bowls and serve.


Grilled Lamb Chops

tonight we had lamb chops cooked on the grill. they were really good and really easy to make. i sprinkled them with garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, thyme, and some freshly picked rosemary from our garden. then grilled them for about 3 minutes per side. i served them with garlic mashed potatoes and a brocoli, cauliflower, and carrot medley.


Oreo Ice Cream Pie

with all of the birthday festivities going on lately i forgot to blog about the all important birthday tradition of oreo ice cream pie. i think this might be my all time favorite dessert. i always have it on my birthday and i have been making it for my girls birthdays. here's the recipe...
Oreo Ice Cream Pie
1 large package oreos, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 gallon coffee ice cream, softened
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
caramel sauce

Mix crushed oreos and melted butter together in a bowl. In a 13 x 9 inch pan spread most of the oreo mixture on the bottom, saving some to sprinkle on the top. Then put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes to set a little bit. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Spread with softened coffee ice cream and then put in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour until set. Spread with softened vanilla ice cream, sprinkle with the reserved oreos, and drizzle with more caramel sauce. Freeze until completely hardened.


andi's birthday party was today. she had a dora the explorer pirate party. dan dressed up as a pirate. we had 13 children ranging in ages from 1 1/2 to 7 years and 13 adults over for the party. it was complete chaos, but andi and jodie had a good time. the games we planned for the kids didn't go over too well.

the food however did turn out well. we served fish sticks and fries to the kids. for the adults i made egg salad and shrimp salad sandwiches on croissants, trays of veggies and dip, and walkers sensations thai sweet chilli crisps. and of course we had chocolate birthday cake with vanilla ice cream, which was definately a big hit. i used the same recipe that i used here except that this time i made a layer cake instead of just a plain sheet cake in the pan. so i made two 13 x 9 inch cakes and layered them. they were delicious.


New Cookbook

i bought a new cookbook this morning. i was wandering around the tesco looking for party supplies for andi's party on saturday when my eye caught the title, Nick Nairn's Top 100 Salmon Recipes. i love salmon! dan and the girls really like it too. we eat it about once a week and i'm always looking for new recipes. look for new salmon recipes on my blog next week!


Birthday Girl

andi turns four today and she is very excited about it being her birthday! i can't believe that i have a four year old!

Lemon Muffins

this is the first recipe i have made out of my new cookbook, Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer. they were as the title describes, fast and fantastic.

225g (1 1/2 cups) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
85-110 g (1/3-1/2 cup) sugar
1 egg
8 fl oz (1 cup) milk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
3 fl oz (1/3 cup) vegetable oil

optional glaze:
85 g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
3-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingreadients and mix until just combined. Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake at 190-200 C or 375-400 F for 20-25 minutes. Spread immeadiatly with the glaze so that it melts over the hot muffins


Angel Hair with Alfredo Sauce

i love alfredo sauce! to make it i melt butter in a skillet and saute 2 cloves of pressed garlic for about 1 minute. then i add 1 pint of cream and lots of grated parmesan cheese and i season it with salt. i taste as i go along to make sure i get enough cheese and the right amount of salt. tonight i served this with asparagus and bread.

Somer's Brownies

this afternoon i made brownies for the hub tonight. i thought they were good, but dan just got home and told me that they did not go over well with the hub lads. they said they were too rich and chocolatey and they want more of my chocolate chip cookies instead.
200 g dark chocolate
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
400 g dark chocolate, chopped

In a large saucepan melt chocolate and butter. Let cool silightly. Whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in one egg at a time. Add flour, salt, and cocoa and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.=


my computer is finally healed! we get to pick it up tomorrow from central london. our week of sharing a computer is over. no more hurrying dan up so that i can blog!

Books Books Books

i am sooo excited! my order from amazon finally arrived this morning! and to make things more exciting my friend steph also sent me a book which also arrived today. i now have lots of fun reading ahead of me and some new recipes to try. the books i ordered are Real Love for Real Life : The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworh, Second Thyme Around by Katie Fforde, Wild Designs by Katie Fforde, and Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer. and steph bought me When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James. i dont' know if i'll have time for any cleaning now...


Thai Salmon Kebabs and Green Apple Salad

the recipes from tonights dinner came from the june 2005 issue of Bbc Good Foodmagazine.
4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
juice 1 lime
4 5 ounce skinless salmon fillets, cutn inot large chunks
oil, for drizzling

Mix the chilli sauce and lime juice together; reserve half of it. Thread the salmon on skewers. Brush half of the sauce on the salmon and marinate for 20 minutes. Heat grill pan or skillet until hot. Drizzle the salmon with oil and cook in pan until done, turning for even browning. Serve with reserved sauce.

green apple salad:
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 green apples, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
handful cilantro, crushed
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice 2 limes

To make the dressing mix all the ingredients together.
For the salad, toss the apples with 1 tablespoon lime juice. Fry the shallots in oil for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the apples and toss together with the dressing. To serve sprinkle the salad with the shallots, peanuts, and cilantro.

Playing in the Rain

andi and jodie had a great time walking around our back garden today in the rain with their umbrellas.

Birthday Cake

this morning the girls and i baked a birthday cake for andi to take to school tomorrow. this is the first of several birthday cakes to be made this week in celebration of andi's birthday. next we have the cake for her actual birthday on wednesday and then we have the cake for her birthday party on saturday. anyway the girls thoroughly enjoy making and icing the cake today and they were so cute in their little aprons. the chocolate cake recipe that i use is hershey's "perfectly chocolate" chocolate cake. it is my all time favorite. however since you can't buy hershey's outside the united states our cake might be more correctly named cadbury's perfectly chocolate cake.

Up a Tree

on saturday we met some friends in the city. we went to holland park and kensington gardens and had lunch at mcdonalds. the kids had a great time roaming the parks. dan put the girls up in a tree, which they thought was great!


Chocolate Croissants

this morning i am sitting at my table quickly checking my e-mail, reading other blogs, and trying to post in the 30 minutes i have on the computer (mine is still in the shop being fixed), before dan needs it back to finish writing his sermon that he has to preach tonight, all while eating a delicious chocolate croissant and drinking my iced coffee. mmm... i think my next project my be learning how to make chocolate croissants. this might just mean i need to buy a new cookbook....


Cheese Fondue

we had cheese fondue tonight for dinner. we dipped bacon wrapped sausages, cubes of bread, strips of red, green, and yellow bell peppers, and sugar snap peas. i don't have a fondue pot so we improvised. i made the fondue in a pot on the stove (which you do anyway even with a fondue pot) and each person got their own individual serving of cheese in a mug. i actually think this was a better way of doing fondue with preschoolers anyway. there was no fire or hot pot to get burned on and it was much easier for the girls to dip things in their own mugs. and when i say the girls i mean andi because she really liked this meal and i don't mean jodie because she declared that she "can't like this" without even trying it. the next time i make this i don't think i would wrap the sausages in bacon because they were a little too rich. i would just bake them plain.

Cheese Fondue
adapted from Fondue by David Morgan
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
20 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons white wine

to serve
wrapped sausages (or plain)
cubes of bread

1. Pour wine and lemon juice into a small saucepan and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Gradually add the grated cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted and combined.
2. Mix the cornstarch, mustard powder, and 2 tablespoons of wine together and add to the cheese. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes.

For the sausages
Wrap mini chipolata sausages in a strip of bacon and bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes.

Moms and Toddlers Morning

we went to moms and toddlers this morning. for craft time today emma had the kids decorate biscuits with chocolate spread and colored sprinkles. they had a wonderful time. most of the little ones just sit there and eat their chocolate spread straight up and don't even bother decorating. those who are a little older, as in three and four year olds, do actually do a little decorating before they dig in. we all had lunch together afterwards. it was very messy and very chaotic, but very fun! everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. we'll have to do it again. andi also handed out the invitations to her birthday party.


Bedtime Business

before bed tonight the girls and i read two of my most favourite books in the whole world, God Cares When I'm Sorry and God Cares When I'm All Tired Out. we've read them so many times they can quote portions of the books. it is so cute. what a great way to end the day.

Angel Hair with Marinara

we eat really early on thursday nights because dan has to leave for ley street at about 5:15, so i usually try to make easy things. so tonight we had pasta. i tried my hand once again at making my own marinara sauce. this is only second time i've done it. i usually just open a jar and heat it up. however, since we've been here i haven't found a jar sauce that i like. so here's what i did. i sauted some onions and garlic and sugar in a little olive oil over low heat for about 30 minutes until the onions were golden brown. then i added red wine and cooked it for about 1 minute. then in went the canned chopped tomatoes, more garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, and salt. i then simmered that for a couple of hours. it was delicious and the extra is now sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten for another dinner or lunch. here's the recipe

Basic Marinara
this was adapted from an issue of Cooking Light
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup red wine
4 cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt

Morning of Baking

this morning while the girls were at school, i baked. it was nice to bake for a change while listening to music and not having to answer a zillion questions about what i'm doing. it was very relaxing and fun. i made yet another blueberry and apple loaf for moms and toddlers tomorrow morning. i think this will be my last one for a while. i also made several dozen chocolate chip cookies. i'm also taking these to moms and tots, were having lunch together afterwards tomorrow. we're all bringing our own lunches and something to share with everyone. this batch turned out especially deliciious. we've already eaten quite a few. lately i've been using the recipe out of the Pillsbury's Bake-Off Cookie Book; Shortcutted Prize Winning Favorites from 18 Years of Bake Offs., except i add more chocolate. and here in london you can't get chocolate chips so i've been chopping up chocolate bars, which i think make them even better. here is the recipe.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips (I've been using 3 200g dark chocolate bars, chopped)

Heat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, sugar, butter and shortening; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg. Mix to combine. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.


Ice Cream Floating in Coffee

yes i also got this recipe idea from the may 2005 issue of delicious. magazine. i'm telling you it was a real winner. i did adapt this one slightly. they used espresso and i used strong coffee, i didn't have any espresso and i also added the tia maria. so here's how it is done. in a small dessert glass or bowl put a scoop of vanilla ice cream and pour hot coffee over it and then a splash of tia maria. serve while it is still hot and melting. can be drunk or eaten with a spoon or a combination of both might be called for.

Free Time

andi was finally well enough to go to school today. i had my first morining alone in over two and a half weeks! after i dropped the girls off at school i came home and dan and i went for a walk. then i took dan to the center. i came home and made another blueberry and apple loaf. yum yum. this one i'm taking to coffee morning tomorrow. maybe some people will come. i also cleaned the bathroom and did some vaccuuming and checked my e-mail, not very exciting for my first morning alone in a while. this afternoon dan and i had an appointment with the nurse at our doctor's office to finish registering. going to the doctor is a little bit different here. you can't actually see the doctor for anything unless you are already registered. so now if anything goes wrong we can see a doctor instead of having to go to the emergency room.


Peanut Chicken Salad

so i had some leftover chicken that needed using up. as a general rule i hate things made with leftover chicken, but for some reason i had good amount of it and i didn't want it to go to waste. so for lunch today i created this peanut chicken salad. it was inspired by the picture of the chicken sesame salad on delicous days and adapted from another recipe i have with a peanut sauce. in a small bowl i mixed together pressed garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, sweet thai chili sauce, and peanut butter. then in a small sauce pan i heated some toasted sesame oil and then added the peanut butter mixture and stirred till it was combined and heated through. then i poured it over my cooked shredded chicken breasts and mixed until combined. i served it with peeled and diced cucumber on top. this is one of the few things that i have liked made with leftover chicken. it made a great lunch!