Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Crockpot "Refried" Beans

We love refried beans! We have it with everything that resembles a Mexican feast.(yeah, that's kinda racist. But you know what I mean...) Tacos, Burritos, and Nachos and so on. Usually we buy the big pack of Rosarita's from Costco. But since we eat so much of it, it can get expensive. 

Cue the internet...and this recipe was made! Who knew you can make this kind of stuff in the Crockpot!!! After a lot of searching and trying out recipes and not really liking any of them, I made up my own.

This is what it looks like after it's been busy doing it's thing in the Crockpot. The beans have gotten softened, the flavors have married and it's time to break them up. Aw, sad! It's a good thing they're not people! hahaha

I used a good ole potatoe masher to break up the beans. Depending on how chunky you want your beans, you can have a great arm workout or not! We like an in between stage of chunks. Not too wholly, not too mashed.

Since this makes a whole bunch, we freeze whatever we don't use right away.  Pull some out whenever you have a hankering for a fiesta. Yummy, cheap, and good for you!


1 large onion, diced
2 lbs of dried pinto beans
2 t of cumin, salt
1 t of black pepper
1/4 t of paprika
2 T of minced garlic
5 t of chicken buillion
10 C of hot water

I did not soak these beans overnight. I've done that before and, to me, they make no difference. I just put everything in the Crockpot and let it cook for 10 hours on Low. After it is done, taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper to your liking. I did not drain any of the liquid either. I guess we like it kinda runny. If you want yours thicker, scoop out some of the liquid before you start mashing it. However, don't chuck it yet. You might need it later, if your beans end up too thick. You can pour some back in.

Hope you all like it!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Make Ahead Breakfast Burrito

When John and I were newly married and we both worked, John was a cereal fiend. He would have a huge bowl every morning. He also loved milk. Too much! I would buy 2 gallons and that would only last us 1 1/2 weeks. That was only consumed by him. My lactose intolerant tummy can't touch that stuff. 
 But over the years, we wanted him to eat better. More filling foods so he wouldn't be hungry again the next hour over. Thanks to the good ole internet and an attitude of "I can do better than a fast food joint", John can eat better, cheaper, and be full for longer.

This consist of leftover ham, scrambled eggs, cheese, a little salsa, a mixture of cooked sweet peppers and onions, and some pan fried potatoes. A little bit of everything thrown together and wrapped up in a tortilla. Make a whole bunch, freeze it, and the husband will have a delicious breakfast at 5AM while you get your much deserved sleep.  

John puts this in the microwave on defrost for a min and then cook for a couple more. It does get really hot, so watch out! I hope you like it! You could even substitute bacon for the ham or if you are feeling lazy, frozen hash browns works too!

Pan fried potatoes, my way:
peel, dice 3 potatoes(any kind, I like Russet), throw a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan, potatoes goes in. Add a little salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 mins. Just enough to get the rawness out. Take the cover off and cook for another 5 mins to crisp.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When I Turned 33

Back in Aug., I turned a year older and hopefully a year wiser! Ha ha I think as I've gotten older, I really am enjoying my birthdays. It's such a sweetness. I guess it could be that I am more comfortable in my skin and circumstances.

I do have so much to be thankful for. I've got a roof over my head(a nice one at that), more than enough food that I probably shouldn't eat too much of, friends who would walk a mile in my shoes right alongside me, loving and obedient children, and an encouraging supportive kind husband. Wow! Life is good!

Speaking of that husband, he sent me these for my b-day. Totally unexpected. Extra kudos for him because I have high standards for flowers. (I use to be in the floral industry and know that they charge an arm and a leg. Therefore flowers are not an expense he is allowed to spend money on) This came from an Ebay account for which he sold something from. And they are my favorite color-purple!

Yay, for the husband! And yay for me for having this husband!!!
Friday, December 19, 2014

Peaches Galore

My sister has a peach tree in her backyard and it is a big producer! After she gives out a million pounds of it to her co-workers and eats enough of it, we get to reap the benefits of it. This year, we had an overabundance and they were going to go bad if we didn't do something about it. Since we(I) don't like to waste food, we(I) opted to can. 

I don't like it though that canned fruits have a sickly sweetness to it. After doing a little internet search, I found this recipe for something more my style. She uses 7 Cups of water and ONLY 1/4 C of honey. Yes, hello we likey you! 

After the exhausting sleep deprived canning event passed, we popped open one of these bad boys and they were delicious! Before this I would buy Costco's canned peaches and thought they were phenomenal, but after trying this, I noticed a slicky slimy texture of Costco's. I'm not sure why that is, but it holds true that nothing beats homemade!
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gravenstein Applesauce

My favorite apples in ranking order are: gravenstein, honeycrisp, fuji, granny smith, and golden delicious. Gravensteins only come around the end of July and early August. Every year, I try to make the season last, but I have no magical power and the apple season for them is over with, within a few weeks. So to hold onto that yumminess, we can and make applesauce. It's the perfect apples for applesauce. It's tart and crisp, just the way I like it(as you can tell with my ranking)

To make this, I peeled a bunch of apples, maybe about 12 lbs of apples(which goes for .99/lb). Chop them into small pieces, throw them into a big pot. Put some water into the pot, about 1/3 of the way up the pot to prevent them apples from burning up. That'll ruin your applesauce for sure! A few shakes of cinnamon, cover, and put the heat to medium. Let it boil up, you might need to add some more water then, and let it go for a little longer until you get it to the right consistency for you. We like chunks, so this doesn't cook for very long after it comes to a boil. Now you have applesauce! Yummy!

The kids like to eat it warmed. I tells ya, it changes applesauce when you eat it warm compared to cold. Now, since you have a whole bunch it's time for you to can it!
Friday, December 12, 2014

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

A couple years back, we had a strawberry farm down the street from our house. They had the best strawberries! So sweet, like pouring a sugar packet in your mouth! I love big strawberries and these fit the bill. Speaking of bill, they were pretty cheap too. 

But then the following year, we waited for them to open up again and they never did. I'd take this route home just so I can see if they were open. Alas, they never did and I had to find another farm. Such disappointment because there are plenty of farms around town, but none of them are ever as cheap as "our" place. So this is another farm stand a little further away and they charged much more, but it was still delicious!

Then I went to the downtown market that happens on Wednesdays and found a vendor who would sell me a flat for $10!!!! Um, SCORE! They aren't as local, more like central valley. These were more like "market" strawberries. A little more uniform in size and a little less sweet. But for making jam, these would do the job just fine! 

Our jam recipe. This was a little more runny than I liked so I used a little more pectin. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of another package of pectin. And since I am a lazy person, I used the food processor to mush up the berries, leaving big chunks though. We like chunks!

So it's:
5 cups of crushed strawberries
2 1/2 C of sugar
1 pkg to 1 1/2 pkg of Low Sugar Pectin

We made so many jars of it! PB&J is a lunch staple around here. We also use it on toast, english muffins and whatever strikes our fancy!

The 5 Year Old Girl

In July, Soph turned 5. She was so excited for to be 5. I guess perhaps, 5 signifies that you are old enough to start school. I'm not quite sure. We started the morning off with swim lessons and then a birthday donut.

Every time we get donuts, she always gets the one with sprinkles. But she will only eat the sprinkles and leave the rest of the donut. Perhaps we should skip the donut part and just give her sprinkles!

And happiness!

We had an incident with an older copy of this book involving poop and since it was her favorite, we had to get her a replacement. No, the poop was not from a Grandberg...

This face is priceless! Magnus has really enjoyed gift giving and he was very involved in choosing what he wanted to get his sister. 

Frozen is her love, if you haven't gathered that! 

She also requested her own Lego set. I'm so thankful for pink and purple Legos!
Some things about Soph right now:
*you are a morning person. you are the most cuddliest, agreeable person when you first wake up
*because you are a morning person, you wake up so much earlier than most of us-ugh
*you are continuing to be the most girliest girl. loving anything that shines, sparkles, and spins
*constantly gets frustrated at me because I won't let you wear make up
*put away the silverware like a champ
*you love to be outside. whether it's going for a walk, bike, or the park

*My memorable moment of you this year, is going on a walk that you and I and Odin took. You were wearing a skirt and having such a great time. It started as a simple skip, then a flip of the skirt, and then the longer we went, the higher the skirt flipping went. At one point, you were flashing your undies for all the neighbors to see

Soph, I love you. You are so difficult sometimes, but mostly because you are a lot like me. I am so thankful that you are my one and only Sopheary! Happy birthday baby girl!
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

South America Part 2

When we got together this time for South America, we focused on their cuisine. We had a lot of fun with this! I went out to the Latin Markets around town and picked up different flavors of Empanadas to sample as well as different fruits. These were the empanadas that we made.

These were delicious! You could even freeze these for a treat later. I haven't had time to do this yet, but it's on my to do list.

 Apple Empanadas-Oh my! These were even more delicious than our savory chicken pocket. But you can't really go wrong with apples and cinnamon. Hands down, the favorite of everyone.

The different fruits we sampled. Some were new to us and some not so much. There were some funny faces after they tried jackfruit. They were all good sports though and tried every single one. Mango was a winner! 

Quinoa a product of Bolivia(it said so on the package) haha Mama Shelly made this and it was the best quinoa I have ever had. It sure hit the spot for me! Broccoli with anything is always a winner in my book!

It's such a good feeling to be able to enlighten these youngens about the different countries and cultures out there. Summer learning is the best kind of learning! I wonder what we'll do next year?!?

Friday, December 5, 2014

South America Part 1

For our summer learning session, we chose Evan Moor's South America. As an enrichment to the book, we got together with some friends and did an art project on a Toucan(native to South America). I found a video from YouTube that we followed. We watched it a few times and then they went to town with it. We also had a box of Fruit Loops, as a sample, to eat and to look at!

 Look at them concentrating so hard! I love these kids! The best students ever!

The end product! They had such a good time and I had a good time too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Celebrating our Freedom 2014

 For Independence Day we go over to my sister's in Rohnert Park because they are about the only city left in our county that allows you to do your own fireworks. So, thank you sister, for living in a fun city!

I thought it might be fun to bring our ice cream maker and make ice cream...this was our first time using it and I was sorely disappointed. I thought as soon as the churning was stopped that we would have ice cream. Not quite so. You have to stick it in the freezer for a while and then it'll set. Oh well, lesson learned. Another lesson learned is to take the mixer blade out of the canister before you freeze it or else it all freezes together. Yeah, lessons learned! haha

 My sister has quite a large backyard. And since we are Asians, it's only fitting that we would play badminton! So much fun!

 We love to bring Pop-Its along. It sets the mood for all that will come later in the evening. Of course, the kids are getting older, so they like to throw it at each other instead of the ground. Thankfully we still have some little ones!

This year, we started a new tradition with a paper airplane contest. I've talked about how competitive my family is and this is right up their alley. Some people were excited to show off their skills and some were hesitant. I would be in the hesitant group. I royally stink at making them!

 Some had a hard landing...like enough to pierce through the leaf of an eggplant plant.

 I'm so glad they always go along with my shenanigans. Now that's how they exercise their freedom! Ha ha ha!

Friday, November 28, 2014

4th of July Shirts

I think I've talked about this before, but we have a tradition of designing our own flag shirts to wear for Independence Day. And as usual, Magnus always picks the same design. I guess when he likes something, he really likes something!

My favorite this year is Soph's. I went a little daring and used two designs instead of one. Wowza! I lead such a radical life! haha 

And Odin's was the most easiest to do! Once I had a star template on the freezer paper, all I did was take the eraser part of a pencil, did it in paint and dot the shirt with it. So simple, so easy, but so cute!

 Here's all of the shirts. Did I mention, I am such a procrastinator??? We made these shirts the morning of the party.. At one point a blow dryer was used to speed up the drying process. Yeah, please don't be like me...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lonesome Carrot

Over the summer of last year, we planted carrots. None of it came up and we forgot all about it. Then one day, we saw big green leaves. We thought it was a carrot, but it was almost a year old, it couldn't be. We pulled it up and sure enough it was a carrot! The seed must not have sprouted until later on in the season. Or last least that's what I'm saying...It's much better than saying we ate a carrot that was a year old. Ha!

It was actually pretty good. It tasted a little more like dirt than store bought carrots. I'm not quite sure why or whether it was normal. This was our first one ever! 

This is the start of her perfection to the eye rolls. It's funny now, not so much when she is doing it to you.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Graeagle Fun

We kicked off summer vacation with a trip to Graeagle, CA. Graeagle is a small town,about an hour north of Truckee. We've gotten really good at road tripping to Tahoe now, that we can make the drive without stopping. Although, we did stop in Truckee for groceries and while we were there, we had Panda Express for lunch! Ack, what was I thinking?!?


Graeagle is beautiful! It's so small town, so slow pace. We loved it here. Thanks to our friends the Kilbys for sharing their vacation home with us. There was a small fishing/swimming pond down the road that we patronized everyday. Every morning John took the kids fishing, then they'd come home for lunch and naps, then in the evening we went out swimming. It was great! After swimming, we'd take the kids to the General Store and ruin their appetite for dinner by giving them ice cream. But we were on vacation! And it was hot! And it was a treat! And yummy! 
We'd sit on their porch, eat our ice cream and watch for any cars that would drive by. That's because it is so small town that only 1 or 2 cars would pass by in the 30 mins while we ate. Glorious! So different than our town. 

Here, they are exploring the property. No, that is not poop that the boys are playing with. They found ants in the water bowl and stuck a piece of wood in it to see what the ants would do. And the ants! They were so big. Much bigger than the ones we have here at home. 

Isn't that Odin silly! He loves putting himself in a box, or a laundry basket, or a storage cube.

The silly people hanging on for fun. 

On our last day, we stopped at a BBQ joint for lunch. It was nothing worth writing about. We did fill our time posing for some pics. 

As we were driving home, someone had a tummy ache from the BBQ(we won't mention who). We pulled into a rest stop and the children found this little hill. So they ran up the hill, they ran down the hill. It sure doesn't take much to entertain our kids! And whatever the big ones does, the little does too.

Thank you Kilbys for helping us make memories! The best sleep we ever had on vacation!

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