Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu: Week 121

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. It was certainly interesting around here.

Our youngest son was supper sick so my amazing husband stayed home with him while I took the older two to my families Thanksgiving and then in the evening, I stayed home while Jason took the older two to his families dinner. You do what you got to do.

All the food though was so good. My favorite was the gluten free cheese cake that my mother-in-law made for me. Delicious! Did you have a favorite food?

Now its back to the regular menu this week. Enjoy!

Monday
- Cheesy taco skillet

Tuesday
- Buffalo mozzarella pork chops

Wednesday
- Taco soup

Thursday
- Tortellini soup

Friday
- Chicken caesar salad

Saturday
- Mongolian beef

Sunday
- Dinner with the in-laws


Friday, November 27, 2015

What to do with your Thanksgiving Leftovers

I hope you all ate too much yesterday, I know I did. I also have a million pounds of leftovers to deal with and I hate nothing more than reheating dry leftover turkey. It's not appetizing or satisfying. Do you feel the same way?

Instead of throwing all that food out or letting it go to waist sitting in the fridge, why don't you try some of these recipes to revitalize your after Thanksgiving meals.


  1. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey pizza - I don't know about you, but I love pizza. With a good garlic sauce and crisp crust, this looks amazing. It might be one of the recipes I review on my blog next week.
  2. Mashed potato breakfast cakes - You don't just have to eat leftovers for dinner. Try it for breakfast too. My Irish side loves this idea :)
  3. Leftover turkey barley soup - This was a big part of my childhood. Anytime we had leftover meat, my mom would make it into a soup. Waist not, want not.
  4. Leftover turkey hash - This looks like something my husband would love and that is why it is on the menu for this week. I'm going to try it out and let all of you know how it was.
Do you have any favorite leftover recipes that you would like to share? Send me an email or comment bellow and I would love to feature it here on the blog.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Easy Banana Bread

I have found a peace in baking lately. With all the stress of the holidays coming up and with the kids school issues, it's been a long few months. This mama needs a break.

As with all my recipes, you can substitute gluten free flour and it still turns out amazing. I make everything gluten free so my middle son can eat it.

This banana bread turned out so soft and moist. It was delicious beyond compare. We added a little buttercream frosting and it turned into a wonderful treat all my kids loved.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tables spoons softened butter
  • 3-4 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mix sugar, cream, eggs, bananas and vanilla together in a mixing bowl.
  • Add flour salt and baking soda and mix well.
  • Pour into a greased 9x10 pan or two bread pans.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Let cool completely before frosting. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Deep Frying a Turkey 101

There are many methods for cooking a turkey. You can bake it, you can brine it, you can put it in a paper bag. My favorite way is to deep fry.

I know what you are all thinking. That woman is going to set her house on fire! I'm pretty sure if i'm going to set the house on fire, its not going to be from a deep fried turkey. A spider is a more likely conclusion.

Safety First. With anything you do with fire, you should make safety your first priority. We keep the hose ready and the fryer away from anything flammable (Including the house!).

You also want to make sure that you are protected. If the oil does happen to splash, you don't want to be wearing shorts and flip flops. Not that you would in thirty degree weather, but I've seen some strange things in my life. Long pants and shoes that cover your toes are a great idea. Also long sleeves and gloves to protect your hands and arms. You can never be too prepared.

Preparing the bird. We always take the turkey out of the freezer three days before we need to cook it to give it plenty of time to thaw. A good rule of thumb to go by is 24 for every five pounds of turkey to thaw in the fridge. You need to make sure all the ice is gone from the bird because that can potentially make the oil spatter when you put the turkey in the pot.

Dress the bird. Nobody wants to go to dinner undressed, not even your turkey. Give it a good rub down before you fry it with some seasoning. Try this recipe, its what we use.


Frying the bird. What ever you do, don't overfill your oil. That's where people get into trouble. When you put the turkey into the pot the oil level is going to raise and if you have too much, its going to overflow and catch on fire when  it hits the flame. I don't want you to be "that guy" who burned down their house on Thanksgiving.

When the oil in the pot is 350 degree, slowly lower the bird into the pot. NEVER LEAVE THE BIRD UNATTENDED.

The amount of time you fry your turkey depends on how many pounds it is. A good rule to follow is three minutes for every pound. When you put your thermometer into the center of your cooked turkey it should read 165 degrees. At that time turn off the heat. If you don't and you take the turkey out of the pot with all the oil dripping from it, you could start a fire. Again, don't be "That Guy," be smart.

Turkey Time. It should only take you about an hour to fry your turkey, give or take a few minutes due to its size. Pat the bird down with a dry rag to remove any extra oil that has clung to the outside and let the bird sit until it is cool enough to carve.

This will be the best turkey you will ever have.

Thanks to my husband last year for letting me take these ridiculous pictures of him while he man handled my turkey. You are the best!


Menu: Week 120

Well, the temp has dropped to freezing at night and there is a light covering of frost on the roofs across the street. I feel like winter has finally come.

This will be our first winter in our new house and we are learning a lot about how to keep it warm and dry inside. House from the 1920's don't stay warm like newer models.

Its also Thanksgiving week and I can't wait to to see all my friends and family. Sharing laughs and making new memories. My husband is going to deep fry a turkey again. Its amazing!

I hope you enjoy this weeks menu and have lots of fun with your family on Thursday.

Monday
- Unsloppy Joe's

Tuesday
- Korean beef and rice

Wednesday
- English muffin pizza

Thursday
- Thanksgiving!

Friday
- Sesame chicken

Saturday
- Leftover turkey hash

Sunday
- Tortellini soup


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Simple Pumpkin Bread

As a mother of a child who is gluten free, I am always trying to adapt regular recipes into something that my kids will all eat. Every once and a while I get lucky and sometimes I tank pretty badly. This time around, it worked out pretty well.

This is a recipe for normal pumpkin bread. To make it gluten free, just substitute the flour with gluten free flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup oil
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Can pumpkin puree
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Teaspoons cinnamon 
  • 1 Teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • A sprinkle of powder sugar
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Mix together oil, sugar, vanilla, eggs and pumpkin puree until well mixed.
  • Add the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Pour into greased bunt cake pan or two bread pans.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes.
  • let cool and sprinkle powder sugar over top before serving.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Menu: Week 119

With the holiday season just around the corner, I find myself looking forward to all the amazing foods that we will be enjoying for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I cant wait to put together my menu for next week and share it with you all. Until then, enjoy this weeks yumminess.

Monday
- French Onion Chicken Sandwich

Tuesday
- Italian Sloppy Joe's

Wednesday
- Chicken Alfredo

Thursday
- Baked Mac and Cheese with Ham

Friday
- Unsloppy Joe's

Saturday
- Korean Beef and Rice

Sunday
- Dinner with the in-laws

Friday, November 13, 2015

Home Office Reveal

There is one thing I've only had once in my entire life, that is a place for myself. I grew up in a small two bedroom home with nine other people. I shared a room until I was eighteen when I finally got a small space to myself. It only lasted until I got married a few years later and I was back to sharing everything with my hubby.

When we purchased our new home, I wasn't thinking much about where I was going to hide away to write my books. I was in the mind set of finding a special place to raise my three boys where they could run and grow. So, when we purchased a home, it was no surprise that I didn't have a place to myself.

My husband and I talked about converting the boys small front bedroom into an office one day when they are old enough to move into the loft, but that days is far from being here. Until that time, I will proudly display my computer on the kitchen counter where I can watch the boys run through the house on a rainy day and listen to the sound of the dryer tumbling me into a calm state (This is very important on a rainy day.)
So, here it is. My space to myself. One day I will have big windows that let the light in and a comfy chair I can sit back in and edit the latest draft of the book I've been working on for over eight years (Maybe one day I'll finish it.) I've claimed this place as my own and I will not let it go.

There are perks to being in the kitchen. Easy access to the fridge when I need a snack and the Venus fly trap is an ever present friend I can talk to.
Don't forget the PDX carpet growler. If you aren't familiar with this trend here in the Portland area, you should really look into it. For some reason the old airport carpet is a big thing around here. Don't ask me why.

If you are a lot like me and have no place to spread your stuff out and the kids are always getting in the way, try finding a space outside your home.The people over at WeWork offer amazing work spaces where you can bask in the light of a large window and converse with people who can tie their own shoes and make their own lunches.

They have some of the most amazing shared community work spaces around and if you need a little get away from the munchkins or just a quiet place to write that next novel, they have what you are looking for. Go check out their shared office space!

And as always, I would love to hear about your ideas for your home office space. Leave a comment below or send in your photos and I will feature them here on the blog. ShendersonPhoto(at)gmail.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Holiday Crafting

Every once and a while I like to do some crafting. In the past I haven't had the time or room to decorate for the holidays, but this year I have a new home and I'm super excited to fill my space.

I picked a few crafts that are easy and fun to do. They don't take a lot of time and even the kids can get in on the fun.

First up, we have the ever popular Thanksgiving turkeys made by my boys. Their Nana helped them with the construction, but the boys really got into the designing.

Thanks Nana!




I really like the three eyed one, lol.

Next, is a small Christmas tree made out of sticks from our back yard, twine, hot glue and Christmas trinkets. I purchased everything I needed for less than $5 and had a blast putting it together. It took me less than a half hour to assemble.



Last, we have a wine cork wrath for all you wine aficionados out there. I used the same bells and trinkets that I purchased for my little Christmas tree and with a little hot glue, it came together nicely. 


All you need is a little creativity and you can come up with some really nice holiday decor to hang around your home.

Send me some pictures of what you've been decorating with and I'll feature them on the blog. SHendersonphoto(at)gmail.com

Monday, November 9, 2015

Menu: Week 118

For some reason I woke up this morning exhausted, and its only Monday. So, my menu is going to be super simple since I don't feel like doing anything extravagant this week.

Enjoy a week off of new recipes, but prepare yourself for some nummy goodies next Monday.

Monday
- Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday
- Sloppy joes

Wednesday
- Grilled cheese

Thursday
- Spaghetti

Friday
- Taco night

Saturday
- Pork schnitzel sandwich

Sunday
- Tuna sandwiches


Friday, November 6, 2015

Halloween 2015

I know I normally do Findings Friday today, but I wanted to share our Halloween costumes with all of you.

The little one was baby bear this year. I found the fuzzy hoodie at the Goodwill for cheap and cut the ears off an old teddy bear that the boys didn't play with anymore. All together this costume cost me less than $5 and it kept the boy warm on the rainy Oregon evening.
















Middle man was Stampy cat. A character from his favorite game called Mine Craft. I guess its a guy that plays the game and posts videos on Youtube.

I had to google this one because I had no idea what it was. It made me realize that I'm getting older and even though I'm only 31, I have no idea what kids these days are really into. Sad, I know.

I bought an orange sweatshirt on sale for $10 and used a box and paint to make the head. I think with all the supplies I paid less that $15.

Not bad when you have no idea what you are doing.




This one was easy since the oldest boy wouldn't dress up. He cost me a total of $10 for the costume we purchased him and he didn't wear. In the end he put on his sweatshirt that looked like a fireman jacket.


















 My Princess Leia costume was made from socks, yarn and a tunic I purchased at the goodwill. I think with all the supplies it was around $10-15 dollars. I had fun making it, but the belt got bent up because I wore it at work and I was sitting all day. Oh well, it rained anyway and I got soaked to the bones.














My handsome husband dressed as Han Solo. He looked great, but don't ask me how much he spent because I have no idea. It was a lot though.

















I got two costumes this year since we had to dress up at work on Friday. The ears were given to me from my manager and I purchased the sweatshirt at a thrift store for $6. Used the makeup I already owned for the spots and nose, so this is by far the cheapest costume I had.

Sad to say though, I didn't win the costume contest. I was ironically beaten by Darth Vader. Should have worn my other costume.











It was a fun Halloween this year and as always I can't wait to hear wait to hear what you all were this year. Leave me a comment below or send me a photo to shendersonphoto@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Following Phoenix - Stories of an Autistic Boy

This is not a topic I write about very often, but with some of the realizations I've had lately about how my oldest son's brain works, I feel the need to share some of our experiences with autism so that maybe I can help other parents that are struggling as we have been.

I've known for a few years now that there is something a little different about Phoenix, and it's not different in a bad way, just a different normal that we have to learn how to live with.

It started a few years ago when we noticed that loud noises bothered him and he had a strange speech issue where he starts his sentences over and over until it comes out exactly how he envisions it. Recently, we've noticed how he has a hard time with change and the newest development is his need for logic.If he doesn't understand the logic in something, he has a breakdown.

My husband and I made the decision a few years ago to homeschool him. Mostly because the schools in our area were terrible and we both worked many miles away from home which made picking up and dropping off impossible. It wasn't until this year, Phoenix actually started public school and the issues of autism really started to become real.

Although there are many stories about Phoenix's issues with starting school I can share, the one I am going to tell you today is the most recent event and it has to do with Halloween.

When logic takes control...
About a month ago I took the boys to the goodwill to look for their Halloween costumes. It was almost right away that Phoenix's eye was drawn to the Spiderman costume, his favorite super hero. The costume was a great price and it fit the boy like a glove so we bought it.

 Everything was great. Phoenix was super excited and talked about his costume all the time. He couldn't wait to wear it on Halloween.

This year with the holiday falling on a Saturday, the shops in downtown Oregon City decided to do their trick or treating on Friday night. This was the change that set off the whole downward spiral.

Phoenix couldn't go trick or treat on Friday, it wasn't Halloween. It didn't make any sense.

It didn't matter that he got an extra night of festivities which meant more candy and late nights, or the fact that he go to wear his costume twice. In fact, the whole thing made him ask why he had to wear a costume in the first place.

We told him that you wear a costume to make people happy so they give you candy. The boy flat out told me, "Why should I dress up for other peoples amusement?" And that was that. He wouldn't do it.

There was no extra trick or treating and no costume for Phoenix and that was ok with him.

With a little bit of coaxing, I was able to convince Pheonix to wear a sweatshirt that looked like a fireman jacket so at least he would fit in a little, but he still had a hard time with it.

Looking back now, I wonder if he would have reacted the same way if we hadn't introduced change into the routine that we had been talking about for almost a month, or if we would have had the same outcome with the costume anyway.

With every event we have, I learn a little more about how the boy's brain works. There is so much going on that I will never learn it all, but if I can help him just a little to cope with the amazing struggles that he has to deal with virtually on his own, then I know I have tried my hardest. Still, I feel like I'm always following Phoenix when I need to be walking beside him, and that's the most frustrating thing of all.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Menu: Week 117

Welcome to another week of yummy recipes and also my favorite week of the year. It's my BIRTHDAY week!

That's right, I have reached an age where I get to celebrate all week and there is nothing anyone can say.

To mark this momentous occasion, I have the day off of work and so does the hubby. He is going to take me to a movie and dinner. I still don't know where I want to go. Any suggestions?

Enjoy this weeks menu:

Monday
- Creamy Parmesan chicken

Tuesday
- Breakfast Burritos

Wednesday
- Chicken tacos

Thursday (Birthday!)
- Creamy Bruschetta chicken

Friday
- Cheesy taco skillet

Saturday
- Tuna sandwiches

Sunday
- Dinner with the In-laws


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