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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Because small successes are big successes around here.

My mom recently started a new blog: http://foodfamilyfunbycj.blogspot.com
I think its a fabulous idea because not only can my mom make food look good (she's a food stylist by profession) but she knows how to make it taste good and fit each occasion perfectly. And she has a great memory for who has which favorites.

I love to cook most of the time. I think its fun to try new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. Some times its a curse I guess, because kids like things simple- and I'm not a huge fan of the bland. My husband even more so than me. We eat dinner together as a family pretty much every night- but since the kids aren't happy with much more than pizza, lasagna, or pasta (and those last two are Jake's least favorite foods) it can be a bit of a battle to get them to eat (although I must admit that Josh is great at trying anything- even if just a bite or two).

Well, last night I was craving lettuce wraps. I wasn't too optimistic that the kids would eat them. But there was a recipe for them in this recipe book my mom gave me that is supposedly proven for picky kids. The kids loved the smell, but when Josh saw me putting in cashews he didn't think it sounded too good anymore. So I told them that it was Chinese night and kept saying "NI HOW!" Josh asked if we could use choptsticks, and since we didn't have any I said "no", but explained how like in Mexican meals we often wrap things up in tortillas, for this meal we were gonna wrap up our meal in lettuce. I got a few moans, but said "Hey, it's Chinese night, and its FUN to try new things, NI HOW!!!" But I quickly blended up a green smoothie to go along with the meal (have I mentioned we love green smoothies? We have one every day at breakfast, and while Dekker doesn't usually love them in the mornings, he LOVES them with dinner. I know. Go figure.- So I often make one to go along with dinner as well) Low and behold though, the kids gobbled them up! Lettuce and all. And Jake and I loved them too! It was my greatest dinner success in quite some time. There was lots of "Ni HOW!" going around as well as "KUNG POW" (which was Jake's answer to "how do you say thank you in Chinese?" and everyone ate MULTIPLE lettuce wraps. So here's the recipe that I will be making OFTEN!

12 large iceberg lettuce, washed and patted dry (I used green leaf)
2 Tablespoons sesame oil (I used Peanut Oil)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 llb ground pork, chicken, turkey, or beef (I used turkey)
1 cup cashews
1 cup slated peanuts (I used chopped water chestnuts and added salt)
1 cup Craisins
1 package crunchy rice noodles or 1 pkg dry ramen noodles, crushed (I used ramen noodles, and could have doubled that)

Sauce:
5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
Juice of 2 limes (I used 1 Tbsp each of bottled lemon juice and lime juice)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1/2 cup orange juice, prepared from concentrate

Wash and dry lettuce leaves. Set aside. Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and garlic (I added water chestnuts here too) and saute for just a few minutes. This will season the oil and pan. Add ground meat and cook thoroughly. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients. Pour over meat mixture and bring to boil over medium-high heat. the sauce will thicken slightly. Stir in the cashews, peanuts, and Craisins. Let mixture steam for about 4 minutes. Serve on a bed of crushed noodles. The let each person spoon into lettuce and wrap up to eat.

Yeah. It made my night to see everyone eating without complaining. And I really do think calling it "Chinese night" and saying lots of "NI HOWs" made a difference.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I have the best kids- seriously!

I do. I mean, there are times when they drive me nuts- but honestly I think I've got to be the luckiest mom out there. I used to worry that I'd messed them up. But I am amazed all the time at what great kids they are and how well they're turning out. Jake left this afternoon for Vegas with a group of guys for the basketball tournament- so tonight I went to the RS Birthday dinner and dropped my three kids at the kids group in the primary room. When I came to pick them up all the young women were telling me how great my kids are. How cute Naomi is, how well-mannered the boys were, and the boys didn't complain when I said it was time to go, but instead said, "thanks for bringing us here Mom, we had fun!" Yeah. They're pretty awesome.

Funny conversation in the car today:

Josh: "Mom, when I have kids- I'm going to do whatever they ask me."
Me: "When I was your age I said the same thing."
Josh: "But you're not doing it..."
Me: "That's because as I got older I learned that kids that get everything they want are spoiled, and spoiled kids are not fun to be around."
Quiet for a moment....
Josh: "I don't want my kids to be spoiled. So I'll just listen to them sometimes."
Dekker: "Josh, what are you going to name your kids?"
Josh: "I haven't decided yet. I have LOTS of time to think about that!"

And Naomi? Well, today she and spent some good one on one time playing while Josh was at school and Dekker was outside with neighbor kids. She was giving me unsolicited open mouthed kisses over and over. Gross and super cute at the same time. Then, she would run into my arms and I'd pretend to fall back holding her and hugging her and she would squeeze me, pat my back and say "AWE!!!!" as I rocked her back and forth. Lately she's been much more affectionate with me, which I'm LOVING since she usually reserves all that for her Daddy.

Besides my kids, I'm also thankful for:

1. My girls trip! It's been more of a headache to plan than I thought, and of course more expensive- but we finally got plane tickets and cruise tickets all booked. My friend Heather, my friend Becca, and I will be doing a 3 night Bahama cruise in May! I'm so excited!

2. Jake is almost done with school. (thus the girls trip- its my reward for being a single mom so much of the last 2 years). He graduates the first week of May.

3. President Monson. I've been reading his Biography and I've really gained a greater love and appreciation for him. It's inspiring to read about his life and in a way "get to know" him better. It's interesting how the Lord calls and uses different servants at different times- how their personalities, talents, and such are tailored for the service they will perform.