Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen: Pepperoni Rolls

The other night, the boys made their own dinner because my Shrimp Creole was going to "spice their mouths too much." (In all fairness, they were right, although Curt made a valiant attempt at enjoying some of the Mardi Gras dish while frantically gulping gallons of milk).

So instead, they made Pepperoni Rolls and had a blast enjoying the fruits of their hard labor.

Pepperoni Rolls

1 tube Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Crescent Rolls (I *meant* to buy the reduced fat. I must have grabbed the wrong ones)
1 package turkey pepperoni
3 sticks light-mozzarella string cheese
Italian spice blend
Marinara sauce, for dipping.

Cut string cheese into thirds.

Be *very* careful not to "accidentally" cut your brother's hand. Especially when he's standing well away from you. Just sayin'.

Unroll crescent dough and press gently into triangles.

Be *very* careful not to "accidentally" leave fingerprints in your brother's four triangles. Even if they are in a different spot on the kitchen counter from yours.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning onto triangles of dough. Be *very* careful not to "accidentally" shake too much seasoning onto your brother's dough.

Place pepperoni on dough in any pattern or amount you'd like. Be *very* careful not to eat a pepperoni (or four) off your brother's roll.

Place a piece of string cheese at the "top", widest part, of the crescent roll. Be *very* careful not to "accidentally" knock the piece of cheese off of your brother's roll.

Starting from the wide/cheese end, roll, folding in sides as you go. Be *very* careful to not to "accidentally" bump your brother's elbow and he's carefully rolling.

Fold in edges over string cheese and pepperoni.

Be proud of your finished product.

Bake at 375 until golden and cheese is melty. Serve with marinara sauce, "to dip." Be *very* careful not to eat extra marinara sauce...with your fingers...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Shrimp Creole

It's Fat Tuesday. But I don't want to be fat.

Thus the never-ending quest to cook healthy and enjoy great flavors.

Enter Shrimp Creole, the perfect way to celebrate Mardi Gras without sucking the heads off of mudbugs or packing on the pounds.

I debated long and hard whether or not to use the olive oil (a healthy fat) and the butter (a not-healthy-by-any-stretch-of-the-imagination fat), and after plugging the recipe into the Recipe Builder on the Weight Watchers website, I decided it was an indulgence I could afford. For those of you counting, each VERY GENEROUS portion of this dish is only 4 points.

Shrimp Creole

1 pound of (31-35 count) medium shrimp, peeled and devined
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 T all-purpose flour
2 T water
1/2 t Cajun or Creole seasoning (hello, Tony's!) I used waaaayyyy more
Couple of dashes Worcestershire sauce
Couple of dashes of hot sauce, to taste
1 green onion, sliced
1 T fresh parsley
Hot, cooked rice (1/2 cup brown rice adds an additional 3 points)

Peel and devein shrimp, rinsing well. Pat dry and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter together over medium heat.

Add the onion, green pepper and celery and saute until tender.

Add the tomatoes to the veggie mixture. Add salt, cayenne, garlic and bay leaf and bring mixture to a boil. 

Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes, until reduced and thickened.

Make a slurry of the flour and water and stir into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle Coat the shrimp in Creole seasoning and add to the tomato mixture. Add Worcestershire and hot sauce and stir together. Cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through. Stir in the green onion and parsley. Serve over hot rice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top 10 Things to Be Happy About on a Monday Morning

In no particular order:

10. The sunshine!!! My weather app shows today as being cloudy. But it's not. So take THAT, weather app!

9. New shoes. Because WHO can be in a bad mood wearing turquoise and hot pink running shoes?

8. A great Sunday School class yesterday morning and a dinner to look forward to together on Friday night.

7. Emails from my boys first thing this morning.

6. Freckles.

5. That basketball is over for the year. And the boys had fun at the-end-of-the-year ceremony.

4. Soccer starts tonight for Luke; Curt isn't playing this season.

3. That I came in four whole dollars under budget last week for groceries. $4. 

2. Did I mention the SUNSHINE?


1. I ran a little over 2 miles this morning with the support of two great people. And for someone who hasn't exercised in a long time, that makes me very, very happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Greatest {Elevator} Adventure EVER

Last week I received a LinkedIN invitation from a gentleman who works for ThyssenKrupp here in Tyler.

If that name doesn't mean a lot to you, you wouldn't be alone. 

But in my house, ThyssenKrupp is as familiar as GE or Sears or Lego. Or even more so.

You see, ThyssenKrupp manufactures elevators.

And Curt and Luke LOVE elevators.

Curt has even created a company, Donakina, (don't ask, I don't know what it means) for his elevator photography. Oh, did I mention he makes videos of elevators too? We have elevator videos from Tyler, Galveston, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

But back to the story. I received this LinkedIN invite and I didn't necessarily recognize the name, so I read the profile. "ThyssenKrupp" jumped out at me immediately.

Then I did something I would never usually do: I emailed Mr. Jeremy Caruthers, branch manager at ThyssenKrupp, to let him know that their biggest fans live right here in Tyler, Texas. He emailed back, inviting us to come tour the office and see how Curt's FAVORITE elevators work.

We went yesterday. I hadn't told the boys we were going (because that's the first rule of adventures). During the drive to the downtown location of ThyssenKrupp, they tried to guess our destination. They didn't even come close. But I did bring the video camera in anticipation of the adventure and Curt took a video starting in the lobby of the building.

It was a long ride up. Someone had (helpfully) pushed all the buttons in the elevator before we got on, so we stopped at every floor (no it wasn't us, my boys know better than to perform such a vast breech of elevator etiquette).

When we got to the 11th floor, they finally realized where we were going.

Curt was pretty much in shock.

But quickly warmed up when we were greeted by the wonderful staff of ThyssenKrupp. The boys were SO EXCITED. They got lots of goodies, but more importantly, they let Curt push the buttons on the sample fixtures to his heart's content.

And then...AND THEN (drum roll please)...Mr. Mike Jones, operations manager, took us to see how the elevators worked.

Down on the first floor, he inserted his magic key to stop the elevator from operating. Then he opened the doors into the elevator shaft so we could see how it worked from the ground level.

Curt and Luke were in heaven.

Yes the picture is blurry but it still shows Curt's pure JOY.
After we carefully examined the inner workings of the elevator from the first floor, we rode to the 12th floor, the highest floor in the building, and checked it out from that vantage point.

Then it was off to the roof and the mechanical room. (I'm not even going to try to explain everything we learned, although you can probably watch Curt's video when he posts it on YouTube.)

Next it was back down to ground level where they actually removed a hydraulic elevator (old school...but Curt talked the entire rest of the evening about what a pity it was to get rid of that piece of history) and a dumbwaiter to make way for new construction.

And checked out the lobby panel (after all, lights were Curt's first love).

And we ended the day back in the offices, where Mr. Caruthers showed Curt a website where he can design his own elevator cabs and let him press the buttons on the sample fixtures, again. There was a tense moment when Curt tried to convince me to BUY the sample fixtures, but luckily it passed quickly when he learned that those are only sold to companies as PART of their elevator.

Curt and Luke wore their hardhats around all night last night. Curt spent the hour Luke was at basketball practice designing elevator cabs. They didn't stop talking about their field trip (and those who know us know I mean this literally) all evening.

THANK YOU, ThyssenKrupp Tyler!!!! This was a day they'll *NEVER* forget!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

~*~*~ Chocolate Chip Truffles ~*~*~*~

Let me first apologize to Leslie and Katelyn. You will get a delivery...someday...

Not such a pretty picture, oh-so-delicious.

Saw these on Pinterest. Knowing my children's affinity for raw cookie dough, I knew I had to make them. And there's no raw egg in this recipe, so I can lay off that 3 seconds of mom-guilt. (and replace it with 3 seconds of I-shouldn't-have-eaten-that-how-many-points-was-it? guilt)

The recipe I saw on Pinterest was pinned from my new favorite blog, Love and Olive Oil (how great of a name is that??). We made these for the boys' teachers for Valentine's Day.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Yield: 3-4 dozen
Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 1/2 hours


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk or soy milk
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 oz dark chocolate candy coating



Beat butter and sugars and in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add soymilk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

When dough is firm enough to handle (it may help to lightly flour your hands), form dough into 1" balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Place sheets in freezer and let chill for 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate candy coating in a double boiler or in microwave according to package directions. Using forks or a dipping tool, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover.

Tap fork on side of pan to remove any excess coating, and return to waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 1 week (though good luck making them last that long).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day - It's Good to Remember

For those who say Valentine's Day is a manufactured - or 'Hallmark' holiday - remember John 3:16. And that's what it's really all about.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I-Bet-You-Can't-Eat-Just-One Tiny Cream Cheese Biscuits

I discovered this recipe in a Southern Living cookbook a few years ago and it's been a favorite ever since.

Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about cream cheese. So it was a no-brainer that I had to try this very simple, very quick, very easy, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit.

Tiny Cream Cheese Biscuits

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
1 cup self-rising flour

(told you it was easy)

Preheat oven to 400.

Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.

Gradually add flour until well incorporated.

Place in a mini-muffin tin (I roll the dough into little balls, but you can just plop it in there too).

Bake at 400 for 12-14 minutes or until golden.

Serve immediately.

Drat - why won't Blogger let me rotate my photo! It's a horizontal, not a vertical!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Three

 From last night:

Luke, hard at work on a "poster" he was making to hang on  his bedroom door:

An email Curt sent me. Yes, it was from the next room, but it sure was sweet:

And last but not least, punk rocker in the making. He asked for a faux hawk this summer. Don't think that's gonna fly.