&Follow SJoin OnSugar

Cinco de Mayo, Family Style

May 05, 2010

So, it's Cinco de Mayo - what are you making for dinner?  Maybe you're young, footloose and fancy free and going out on the town.  But, if you're like most of us, your Cinco de Mayo celebration will consist of squeezing dinner in between shuffling the kids to track and baseball practice, finishing up a presentation for work and trying to get to the gym for yourself.  But that doesn't mean you still can't enjoy a yummy mexican dinner with your family!

 When my grandmother was alive, I used to pack up the kids every summer and go spend a week with her.  I had the greatest time with her and loved the fact that my children were able to create special memories with their great-grandmother in the "non-huge family gathering" atmosphere.  Not to mention, it was so great to have someone cook all your favorite things and take care of me all week!  It's been almost 6 years since I was able to do that because she passed away shortly after spending the week with us when my youngest was a baby.   

She was an excellent cook, a very "down-home on the farm" type of cook.  There is one casserole she made for us that was so simple, but to this day remains a favorite of mine and my family.  When I make it, I serve it with some steamed rice, a simple green salad and usually either corn or, if its in season, yellow squash.  Of course, only because this is how Mama served it when she made it for me so I have to do the same thing because that's just how I roll!  So, without further ado, here's the recipe.  Another great thing about this recipe - it freezes great and is also tasty leftover.  When I make it, I usually double the recipe so I have one to stick in the freezer - I LOVE recipes that you can do that with because it makes life so much easier down the road when you are in need of a quick and easy dinner.

Mama's Mexican Casserole 

  • 1 lb. lean ground beed
  •  salt and pepper
  •  sliced black olives
  •  1 can S&W white beans, drained & rinsed
  •  1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Grated cheddar cheese  
  • <p>

Brown onion and beef, seasoning with salt & pepper, drain fat.  Remove from heat and mix with beans, cream soup and tomatoes. 

Layer tortillas on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole.  Spread half of the meat mixture on, sprinkle with cheese and olives.  Repeat and then top the casserole with more tortillas, cheese and olives.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

And if you're looking for a yummy adult beverage to help you celebrate a little more, click here!

Countdown to Mother's Day!

May 03, 2010

Less than a week to go until the most important day of the year, Mother's Day!  OK, so maybe it's not the most important day of the year but it really should rank up there pretty high.  After all, none of us would be here without our moms!  It can be hard to figure out just what to do to show your appreciation for mom, or the mother of your children.  So, here's a few suggestions, but first I have to send some Happy Mother's Day love to a few of my favorite moms!

First, of course, to my amazing mom! 

Next would have to be to my awesome mother-in-law, who raised the finest man I know!

 And my kids "other mother", my best friend Dawn!

Happy Mother's Day to you three (and all the other terrific moms in my life!)  Thank you so much for everything you do to help me mother my own kiddos!

Now, onto some gift ideas!

I happen to be one mom who LOVES pictures of my kids.  While I love the portraits we've had done over the years by professional photographers, may favorite pictures of the kids are the ones we took ourselves.  So all you Dads out there, grab your kids and take them to a park and have a little photo shoot.  Once you get a good shot, find a frame that will compliment her favorite spot in the house and wrap it up!

Pamper her!  Breakfast in bed is always a favorite, just getting to sleep in and have a lazy morning is a treat for any mom.  Throw in breakfast with the Sunday newspaper and you've pretty much got bliss!  Another idea if you want to really give mom a treat is to get a gift certificate for a pedicure, facial or massage with her favorite salon.  My idea of heaven on earth is getting a facial fro Debbie at Skin Treatment Studio (hint, hint)  If you don't know your wife or mom's favorite place to pamper herself - do some snooping and find out.  You're a smart cookie, you can do it!

Flowers - who doesn't love flowers?.  It's always a treat to receive flowers from someone special, but t if you get a plant mom can enjoy & cherish it for years to come.  Over the years, Tom has often taken the kids to the nursery and had them each pick out a plant; usually rose bushes!  I love it, plus planting them makes for a fun activity to do with the kdis on Mother's Day.  Just make sure you do the digging and let mom supervise.  Again, do some snooping and find out her favorites - and also talk to your nursery to find out what will do well in your ares.

                                                        Mother's Day - 2005

My last idea isto have your kids make mom a card with their own thoughts on what they appreciate and love about her.  Nothing means more to a mom than just being sincerely told thank you.  Resist the urge to correct anything or edit - us mom's love our babies just the way they are; imperfections and all!

Happy Mother's Day!

It's Great To Be A Girl!

April 30, 2010

When I was pregnant with our first born, Caitlyn, I remember discussing with my husband whether we had a preference on the sex of the baby. We had decided that it would be fun to be surprised with the birth, rather than find out at our ultrasound. (side note: absolutely a sillly idea...like you need something more to surprise and excite you than a precious little baby when they are born! It would have been so much more fun to know her as Caitlyn, rather than "it" or "the baby" all those months!)

Anyway, back to my point...what was my point? Oh yes - we both felt that we really didn't care a whole lot, but if we had to choose to have either only boys or only girls we would both want girls. We both love how girls get to do everything in our world today...they can be amazing students, star athletes, wear frilly dresses or a pair of Nike soccer shorts and a t-shirt.  They can choose to stay home and raise a family or pursue an amazing career, practice ballet on Tuesdays and hit a home run on Saturday, girls can truly do just about anything. Of course, I do have to admit now that I am blessed to have both daughters and a son I would have missed out on so much fun if I didn't have my little guy to raise.

It just never ceases to amaze me how great it is to be a girl!

Last Friday night, Jordyn went to a party with about 20 other 6th grade girls. The theme was "A Hollywood Birthday" and they all got dressed up in a fancy dress and did their hair and make-up. This was so fun to see because all of these girls are amazing athletes; many of them play on Jordyn's premier soccer team - and all of us mom's just sat there stunned to see these beauties in a different element where they were equally as comfortable. The Dads, well that's another story entirely...I think they were all a wee bit distressed at seeing just how beautiful they all are! So girls, do your dads a favor and put your soccer cleats back on!

Photo by Northwest Photographer, Tom Corno of Zoom On Sports - a very AWESOME sports photographer and father to 4 athletic girls!

The Basil Plants Have Arrived!!

April 28, 2010

The basil plants are here, the basil plants are here!!  Really, who gets this excited when they are walking into their local Trader Joe's and spots a display of beautiful basil plants, for just $2.99/each no less?  You guessed it, I do!  I love using fresh herbs when I cook and basil is one of my favorites.

For the past few years I've grown basil in my kitchen window, keeping us in fresh basil from April through late October.  Basil is like me and likes to feel plenty of warm sunshine; so by November is has stopped being a happy little camper and I am out of luck.  This year, I have a new plan though...I'm going to clip off the leaves regularly, clean and chop them and stick them in my freezer.  This way, I will have fresh basil all year long!

One of my favorite things to do with fresh basil is make Tomato Basil Bisque.  I've finally mastered my own recipe for this favorite by working with a number of recipes and trying to analyze a few favorite restaurant versions of this little bowl of bliss.  Not being a professional chef, the "analyzing" was a little weak, but when I first tasted my new creation I was actually a little embarassed at how happy it made me.  My one and only complaint was the expense of purchasing the fresh basil in January, and now that won't be a problem!

Give this Recipe a try and let me know what you think.


Kay's Tomato Basil Bisque

  • 6 T butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 large celery ribs, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 - 28 ounce cans diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery, carrots.  Saute about 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft.  Stir in tomato paste and two cans of tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer 20 minutes more.  Off heat, stir in remaining ingredients.  Let cool slightly, then puree with immersion blender.  You are looking for a little bit of texture, so don't puree until it's completely smooth.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and shavings of parmesan cheese.

The bisque can be made several hours ahead or the day before serving.  Makes about 12 cups. 


One Pooped Little Pup

April 25, 2010

Today Caitlyn (our oldest) was supposed to run in a track meet down in Salem. However, after a sleepover Friday night, she all of the sudden "wasn't feeling well" by bedtime Saturday and thought maybe she should skip the meet. Since it wasn't a mandatory meet, the creatively mean mommy in me thought of a fun little idea we could do instead!

Luckily, my other two kids are pretty much always up for doing something athletic so when I announced at breakfast we'd be holding the "Alessi Invitational" at our local high school track, they were all in! Instead of the usual 3-4 events Caitlyn would compete in at the meet she got do do 7, all running - no field! We started at the long distance race and worked our way down from there - varying her opponents with each race depending on who wanted to compete.

I think our most eager runner was little Ginger though - she had so much fun running around the track and football field, enjoying the attention from anybody who happened to be hanging out at the field and watching everyone run their little hearts out. And now, this evening we all got to enjoy a little puppy who was happy to just be mellow in her pretty pink bed. Is this a sign of what we might have to look forward to one day?? She sure is cute!

On a side note, I have to hand it to Caitlyn - she did very well at her meet and it actually proved to be a great way to try out some new distances in a less intimidating setting. We also came away from it knowing that we'll be signing all three kids up for track next spring!