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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The W Family

I have never done a hospital baby photo shoot, so when I text the W family the other night if they would be interested in me taking some photos and they replied, "Yes" I was so thrilled.  I have also managed to book a home birth photo shoot at the beginning of May.  Not sure how I got so lucky!









Monday, February 22, 2016

Chicken and Rice Spanish Style

I imagine on a Sunday afternoon when mass has let out: cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and let's not forget the grandchildren gather at grandmothers for Sunday super.  Maybe a game of scrabble is on the table or in my house the beloved game of Monopoly.  My children love this game. The men are sitting out in the backyard discussing politics or the score of their favorite soccer team or maybe they are taking a little afternoon nap.  The aunts are caring for the children, and grandma is in the chicken chopping the vegetables, sauteing the meet.  The smell of oil and onions first hits your nose and your tummy starts to rumble then next the smell of saffron hit your nose.  You want to snack on something but you know that it will ruin your appetite and what is coming out of the kitchen it going to be so worth the wait.  Finally grandma calls everyone to the table and placed before you is a giant plate of chicken and rice.  It may seem like the most simple of dishes but there is something about this dish that makes you smile the rest of the day.  The chicken is so perfectly tender that it just about melts in your mouth. The rice is cooked and seasoned to perfection.  Grandma didn't make this dish in my sunny kitchen in Georgia and there were no aunts and uncles to share this dish with, but I can tell you my children licked their plates clean.  Yes, you heard right I let them lick their plates because that is how good this dish is!



Spanish Style Chicken and Rice

  • One whole chicken, cut into 8: two thighs, two legs and two breasts (bone in) cut in half crosswise (reserve the carcass and wings for stock) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons (total) sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper or 2 sweet red peppers, seeded and sliced in 1/3-inch (1cm) strips, lengthwise
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes, or 2 1/2 cups (725g) diced canned tomatoes (including their juices)
  • 2 1/2 cups (625ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine
  • 2 cups (400g) Spanish bomba rice or short-grain (or round) rice
  • 1/2 cup (80g) pitted green olives (preferably pimento-stuffed), sliced
  • 3/4 cup (110g) fresh or frozen green peas
1. In a bowl, season the chicken with the oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper. Rub it in well, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. (The chicken can be seasoned a day in advance.)
2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
3. In an 8-quart Dutch oven or casserole, or paella pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken pieces in a single layer, in batches if necessary, so they aren’t crowded into the pan, until they are well browned on all sides. Once the first batch is done, transfer the chicken to a plate and brown the remaining pieces.
4. When the second batch of chicken is done, remove the pieces to a plate with the others and drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat or oil left in the pan. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to wilt. Add the garlic, saffron (use the smaller amount if on a budget), red chile flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue cooking until the onions and peppers are wilted and soft.
5. Add the tomatoes, water, and wine to the pan. Arrange the chicken in the pan, skin side up, cover the pot tightly and bake for 30 minutes in the oven.
6. Remove the pan from the oven and add the rice, directing it in the areas in between the chicken pieces. Strew the olives over the chicken and liquid, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently to even out the rice in the pan. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven, add the peas, and cover. Cook until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid and it’s tender.
* While any type of rice can be used for this dish, I would suggest going the extra mile to get the spanish bomba rice.  It can be found on Amazon or if you are lucky your local grocery store.  The type of rice really makes this dish.  This recipe came by way of David Lebovitz.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Atlanta Chinese New Year Festival

This year despite the sun shining the temperatures outside were bitter cold.  Had it not been for a friends daughter dancing in the festival, I think we would have gone home after German school and snuggled under the blankets.  As in years past, the festival was jammed packed full of attendees.  We didn't stay for long, but we had the opportunity to see the Dragon Dance which goes back all they way to the Han Dynasty and is believed to bring power, dignity, fertility, wisdom and auspiciousness to the community.  We sampled to yummy Taiwanese food and watched a few performances on the stage.   The little ones had a good time and that is all the matters.










Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Season of Ballet






I don't know who has more joy in the girls doing ballet.  I have waited a long time for this day.  I doubt the girls will be ballet dancers, but for now it is something to keep them busy and hopefully teach them how to have some poise.  Avery really seems to enjoy it while Addy is very reluctant to go; however, once there she is fine.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

9

Happy 9th Birthday Roman!

9 things I like about you!

1) You are a good friend and are loved by everyone.
2) You are a peace maker
3) You have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ.
4) I love that you are really talented at drawing.
5) You are obedient.
6) You are a fantastic reader.
7) I love how you use big words.
8) You are a good brother to your brothers and sisters.  
9. You are a fantastic at cuddling.

Thank you for coming to our family.  You have certainly come a long way and we are so proud of you!  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My little Baker






Addy has really become my little baker in the kitchen.  Anytime I bring out the mixture she is right by my side helping me.  Avery too however Addy really seems to enjoy it the most.  She doesn't want to be treated like a baby and thinks she is capable of cracking eggs.  It is fun having her by my side.  Recently, we tried a new recipe for Cookie Cake and we were knocked out of our socks by this recipe.  The crumb is so soft and moist yet doesn't really crumble all over the place and has such a silky smooth quality in ones mouth.  Yummy!  We didn't make the frosting to go with this recipe, but maybe next time.  This recipe comes from Sally's Baking Addiction.


Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk1
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (aka cornflour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cup (225g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

MILK CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (32g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream or half-and-half2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9-inch pie dish or cake pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fittedwith paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add 1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips and mix for about 5 seconds until evenly disbursed.
  4. Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden brown (could be up to 30 minutes, depending on your oven). You may want to cover the cake loosely with aluminum foil after 15 minutes to avoid heavy browning around the edges. Remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a sharp knife or metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cookie cake from the pan and transfer to a serving dish. (Or use can serve directly from the pan.)
  5. The chocolate frosting is optional. Instead, decorate with whipped cream or top with vanilla ice cream. For the optional chocolate frosting: sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Decorate the cooled cookie cake with frosting and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Depending how much frosting you use, you may have some leftover. I used a Wilton 1M tip. Cookie cake remains fresh covered tightly at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pinewood Derby 2016

I feel like I am on a fast speed train.  I want to get off except I know the destination is pretty awesome.  I mean who wouldn't want to add an adorable little girl from China to their family.  Well, I know some people wouldn't and this will and by will I mean be the very last addition to our family. The car seats in my van will be absolutely full and I have no intentions of driving an airport transporter.  I digress though.  Things are moving forward in our process to adopt Ivy.  Yesterday, we got notification called the 1-800 from the USCIS  has been approved and they have now sent our application on to the National Visa Center.  This step should take a few days.  We are now about 5 weeks from departure for China.  Our passports have been sent off to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago and we should have those back by next Friday.  Fundraising is going OK not fantastic, but I am grateful for every little dollar we receive.  I am also in the process of trying to sell of a few things that we don't use any more.  Thankfully, my husband won an award this past week at his work and this came with a case prize (not large), but as I said every little dollar helps.  He also had some clients who finally paid up on some outstanding bills. Yahoo! In other news as in two weeks ago, Roman participated in the 2016 Pinewood Derby with big help from his brother Harris who helped him cut out his car, sand it, and paint it.  He won the first rounds but ended up loosing in the end.  The great thing about Roman was he was just happy enough to participate.  I love this about him!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

After years and years of driving to German School, trips to Germany, and now 3 years in high school I would say Harris is pretty proficient in German.  This past week, Harris had the opportunity to travel to north Georgia with his high school German club to participate in a state wide German speaking competition.  Not only did he and his fellow classmates bring home over 23 individual winning titles, but they won state.  Harris won 1st place in story telling.  While it wasn't always easy to spend every Saturday across town, I am really glad that we made a commitment to continue speaking the mother tongue of his father.  Truth be told, I think I speak more German on a weekly basis than my husband though I have far from being proficient like Harris.  Way to go Harris!  I am so proud of you!






Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Year of the Monkey and other news!




Addy and Avery would like to say 恭禧發財! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! We began the weekend with a visit to our favorite celebrating at our favorite Chinese restaurant followed with a visit to the park and ice creams before heading home.  Chinese New Year is in competition this year with German Fasching (Carnival) and the girls got to wear their costumes to German School.  Roman opted out of the costume wearing this year.  Addy ditched her princess costume to be Captain America and Avery went as a fairy.  Their were some pretty creative costumes at school this year.  One little boy in the Kindergarten class was dressed as an Ice cream truck and another little girl in the third grade was dressed as a flower pot.  Made me want to aspire to make the girls better costumes for next year or at least for a second.  Not sure when I would find the time to squeeze in another task like coming up with a great costume idea and making it on top of all the other things I do.  Currently, we are waiting on new photos of Avery.  We should receive an update any day.  Also, we are about 6 weeks away from travel if all goes well.  Not sure how much Chinese New Year is going to effect our time-line.  The plan is to leave on the 23rd of March with a Gotcha day of March 28th.  If we can't get those dates we wont be traveling till the first week of May due to my husbands work schedule.  Well, it is late Sunday night and I am super tired.  I am heading to bed. Hope you had a great weekend!  


Friday, February 5, 2016

Hungarian Goulash

One of my favorite things to Bratislava and Hungry was the Hungarian Goulash.  Typically served with bread dumplings if you ask they will serve it with rice or  roasted potatoes.  This dish just makes your belly smile and on a cold winter day it hits the spot. It took me a while to find a good recipe, but a few weeks ago a fellow blogger shared her recipe with me that she obtained through a cooking class she took when she went to Hungry.  Her recipe was for a chicken version of this dish, but I found that it was easy to adapt it to beef which was the way I was served it. The dish was a huge hit with my boys and even the girls enjoyed it despite that there were onions and peppers in the dish.



Hungarian Goulash

1 yellow pepper sliced length wish in thin strips
1 large onion sliced thin in strips
 3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 1/2 pounds of beef stew meat
3 Tablespoons of Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of flour
6 ounces of sour cream
water
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds

In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in a 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the paprika. Salt an pepper the meat. Remove meat from pan and add the remaining olive oil and saute onion and peppers.  When they are soft and tender add the chopped tomato and cook until soft.  Salt and pepper these to taste. Add back in the meat and add just enough water so that it comes to the middle of the meat.  Turn on Medium to low and simmer for two hours.  Occasionally stiring  and  adding water to replace water that will evaporate.  When the meat is soft in a separate bowl mix sour cream and flour together and add to the meat.  Cook for about 5 additional minutes until the sauce thickens.  

Serves 6 and can be served over rice, buttered noodles, or roasted potatoes.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snow Days




Punxsutawney may not seen his shadow and spring may be on it's way, but we aren't done with winter yet.  Winter here in the south is always a toss up where some years we get a day where the snow keeps us from leaving our driveways and others it never appears.  We got a little taste of winter the other day as in 5 minutes of snow, but does that count?  The children and I took things into our own hands and made our own snow.  I thought it was a little messy, but the kids loved it (it is possible I made it wrong and I need to try making it again).