Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

And welcome 2010!

2009 has been interesting to say the least. Some of the highlights:

  • Made it to 1 year at my WW goal!
  • Took an amazing Hawaiian Cruise...
  • and an equally fun Mexican Riviera cruise
  • Celebrated 6 years with The Mr
  • Attended our 40th annual family reunion
  • Spent Christmas with our families
  • Rocked The Mr's birthday in Las Vegas
  • Learned that my sister beat her cancer!!!

As we watch the last minutes of 2009 slide away, I wonder what 2010 will bring. My hopes are that we will have happiness and prosperity for ourselves, our family and friends, and our world. Happy New Year!
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At Mesa Grill

In My Vegas Dress Pin It

The Mr's Birthday Dinner

The end of a great day... dinner at Mesa Grill. Incredible. Pin It

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hoover Dam

Getting ready to go on the Hoover Dam tour.... we get to wear cool hats. Pin It

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Vegas Show

Waiting for Penn & Teller to take the stage at Rio. Pin It

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vegas Sights

Bellagio's show to the Hallelujah Chorus Pin It

Sights on the Road to Vegas

The World's Tallest Thermometer

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On the Way to Vegas

We're on our way to celebrate The Mr's birthday in Las Vegas!

Having a great holiday so far (more later on that) but had to tell you that I got a Kindle for Christmas and am blogging on it as we drive! LOVE it!

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Afternoon

It's good to live in San Diego...

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Santa Came!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Cookie Time

I forgot to take a picture of all the cookie packages on my counter last night, but here's a few! Pin It

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time Out

Christmas is next week! I think we're ready...

...the house is decorated...

... the poinsettias in place...

... the Christmas flowers are blooming...

OK, so we've got a few things left to do - the presents aren't wrapped, the cookies still need to be boxed, the groceries are still at the store and not in my refrigerator, the family has not yet arrived (!)...

But it seemed like a good time to sit back for moment in the middle of this (very!) busy season to reflect on the good things we have in our lives. I've got The Mr, who makes everything worthwhile, our families, our fur-babies (though they don't seem too wonderful at 4:00 AM), good jobs, a beautiful home. We are truly blessed.
Do you take time out during the holidays to enjoy what you have?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookies and More Cookies...

I'm on the final stretch for finishing my cookie gifts. The timing of baking cookies is always a bit of a struggle to find the sweet spot between starting too early (so the cookies get stale) and waiting too long (so I miss people who have left for the holidays already).

I baked more than 15 dozen cookies today and made the dough for two more batches. I'm about to go make a batch of these cute little treats - Marshmallow Snowmen!

Already done:
  • peanut butter blossoms
  • brownie drops
  • spritz
  • melting moments
  • checkerboard cookies
  • pinwheels
  • lemon cookies
  • russian tea cakes

  • Chilling overnight:
  • sugar cookie stars
  • candy cane cookies
  • The first box is already done (minus the cookies still left - that's what you get when you leave town early!) and looks great!

    Do you bake cookies for your friends and co-workers?

    Cookie count: 43 dozen

    Zentmrs Pin It

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    The Tree

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    The Crowd Gathers

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    Tonight's Activity

    The Mr practicing before the first of our six (!) concerts at the San Diego Zoo!

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    Saturday, December 12, 2009


    The kids singing jingle bells...incredibly cute. Pin It

    Another View...

    Some of the choir... with the handbells in the background.

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    A View From the Other Side

    We're at the Christmas Concert... this is a shot of the audience (over the organ's keyboard) as the seats start to fill. Not a bad turnout for a rainy San Diego afternoon!

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    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Christmas Cookie Recipe Party: Brownie Drops

    I'm in the midst of my cookie baking. These are an old family tradition - tasty and chocolatey! AND they are really easy and quick to make - so I can bake up a batch or two in a flash.

    Brownie Drops
    2 (4-ounce) bars German Sweet Chocolate
    1T. butter
    2 eggs
    3/4 C. sugar
    1/4 C. unsifted all-purpose flour
    1/4 t. baking powder
    1/4 t. cinnamon
    1/8 t. salt
    1/2 t. vanilla extract
    3/4 C. finely chopped pecans

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler over hot water. Stir. Cool.

    In large mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy, then add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until thickened (5 minutes in electric mixer). Blend in chocolate.

    Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; blend. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Grease cookie sheet. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheet. Bake until cookies feel 'set' when very lightly touched - 8 to 10 minutes.

    Makes about 36 cookies.

    They'll look a bit like this when done:

    Looking for new or classic cookie recipes? Check out the "Christmas Cookie Recipe Party" every Friday over at "Our Creative Life" - and share your recipes too!

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    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Healthy Eating in a Crazy Season

    I am just coming up on my 1 year anniversary of reaching my Weight Watchers goal. In 2008/2009 I lost 75 pounds with WW. (!) I'm now in maintenance. Which means that I still count my points and track all of the food I eat. And stay within my point target. Every day. This is why I was able to lose 2 pounds on our cruise instead of gain 5 pounds. And stay on track over Thanksgiving, despite all the tasty food.

    But the next couple of weeks are going to be really busy. In addition to our regular (already busy) schedule, here's what we've got planned:

    • 10th - Work Holiday Luncheon, Holiday Party #2
    • 11th - Christmas Concert and eating out
    • 12th - Christmas Concert and Holiday Party #3
    • 14th - Handbell Concert #2 (at the San Diego Zoo!) - dinner out
    • 15th - Handbell Concert #3 (at the San Diego Zoo!) - dinner out
    • 17th - Holiday Party #4
    • 19th - Ice Skating Event
    • 20th - Handbell Concert #4, holiday brunch, Holiday Party #5
    • 21st - dinner with my parents (coming to town for Christmas!)
    • 22nd - Disneyland Day!
    • 24th - Christmas Eve Dinner
    • 25th - Christmas Breakfast, Christmas Dinner
    • 26th to 30th - Vegas!

    We've got so many opportunities for eating... and over-eating over the next couple of weeks. I've been very good about eating healthy meals in healthy portions, saying "no" to the food I don't really want to eat (and also to the food that I know I shouldn't eat)... but with the crazy schedule over the next few weeks, all of the festive and tasty food, as well as that great will-power-sapper fatigue, I think my strength will be tested!

    I'll have to use my WW strategies:

    1. Keep on top of hunger (if I let myself get too hungry, I'll eat whatever is there!)
    2. Choose the healthy option
    3. Eat reasonable portions (this is not the last meal I will ever eat!)
    4. Remember that the first bite tastes the same as the last bite (one bite of a treat is often enough)
    5. Remember all of the hard work I have done to get here! (nothing tastes as good as thin feels!)

    I think this will get me through the holidays. What tricks do you have to keep you on track?

    Zentmrs Pin It

    Wednesday, December 09, 2009

    Cookie Count

    I bake cookies for gifts for friends and co-workers. Each year I bake 12 different kinds of cookies, decorate and wrap them, and give them away. The time investment is pretty big, but it is totally worth it.

    Here's a shot of last year's cookie box...

    Today I baked the second type of cookie, and have another batch of dough chilling in the refrigerator. Two (and a half) down, eight to go!

    Cookie count: 12 dozen

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    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    Life Gave Us Lemons...

    ... well our garden did anyway. This is yesterday's lemon harvest. And the tree has green lemons, little baby lemons and lemon blossoms on it still - looks like we're in for a lot of lemon goodies this winter!

    I thought we might make a lemon cake. Maybe this one from Paula Deen:

    Paula's Lemon Cake
    •1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
    •2 cups sugar
    •4 eggs
    •3 cups sifted self-rising flour
    •1 cup milk
    •1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    •Lemon wedge, for garnish
    •Mint sprig, for garnish
    •1 1/2 cups sugar
    •1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
    •1/8 teaspoon salt
    •1/3 cup water
    •2 egg whites
    •1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    •8 egg yolks
    •1 1/2 cups sugar
    •1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
    •3 lemons, zest grated and juiced
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

    To make the cake: Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely.

    To make the frosting: Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

    To make the filling: Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don't let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

    To assemble, add 1 tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Run hands along the side of the cake to remove excess crumbs. Place the cake layers on the pedestal, spreading filling between the layers and on top. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining filling. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of mint.

    (recipe from Food Network)

    What is your favorite lemon dish?


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    Monday, December 07, 2009

    For Today

    December 7, 2009 ...

    Outside my window... rain, rain and more rain.

    I am thinking... on this day, the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, of how fortunate I am to live in this country.

    I am thankful for... the freedom that we have, the cost of which is immeasureable.

    From the kitchen... turkey soup.

    I am wearing... a red sweater to keep warm on this damp and chilly Monday.

    I am creating... a slideshow for our upcoming Christmas concert.

    I am going... to pick up The Girl from swim practice.

    I am reading... an article about Stephanie Nielson - very inspiring!

    I am hoping... to start baking cookies tonight.

    I am hearing... the sound of the rain.

    Around the house... clean floors, clean carpets, clean everything!

    One of my favorite things... hot apple cider.

    A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • Start Christmas cookie baking
  • Attend Christmas concert practice
  • Go to a holiday party
  • Sing and play in our Christmas concert
  • Go to another holiday party
  • Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

    The flag flying over the Arizona Memorial.

    If you would like to read other daybook entries or join in with your own entry, please visit Peggy who hosts The Simple Woman’s Daybook.


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    Sunday, December 06, 2009


    Another busy day, but we got so much accomplished.

    • Got up early and got The Girl off to church to practice for her youth band concert
    • Got The Boy to his church
    • Watched The Girl play the piano in the youth band concert while enjoying a lovely brunch served the the youth
    • Brought two extra kids home (who thought this was a good idea?)
    • Finished decorating the house - The Mr added a great decoration to our backyard (see it on our Honeybird Cam)
    • Got the extra kids back to their houses
    • Got all of the ingredients for my Christmas cookie baking marathon this week
    • Had our traditional "St. Nicolas Day" dinner. (This year, all of our puzzles were crossword puzzles... mine was all about Food Network - who knew there were so many people on that network?!)
    • Watched my Vikings inexplicably lose
    • Finished up laundry
    • Got the cards done
    Something tells me I should go to bed soon. Maybe it's my eyes that are dry and tired? Maybe my tired head?

    Hope you had a great weekend!

    Zentmrs Pin It

    Saturday, December 05, 2009

    TSO Concert

    We had a wonderful time at the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert last night. What a wonderful way to usher in the holidays! Here's a few (unedited) photos from the show:

    We stayed for a bit after the show and had the band sign our program. The line was pretty slow and we had the opportunity to talk to some of them. Everyone was really gracious - seems like they really enjoy their jobs. (OK, "rock star" is probably a pretty fun one.)

    Busy day today - errands, handbell concert, holiday party (with The Mr's work group) and now getting ready for bed to rest up for another busy day.

    How is your weekend going?

    Zentmrs Pin It