Monthly Archives: January 2010

It’s 2010. Maybe It’s Time to Embrace Technology. Really.

I’m working on a video (GASP) product review, featuring Zoe and Ayden as guest commentators. Since I didn’t eat the products for the review–because my babies ate it all before I could get to it–I thought letting the kids do the review would be a terrific idea. Ice cream cones are a weakness of mine, so it’s probably best that I didn’t indulge anyway. Thanks for looking out for your mom!

As soon as I figure everything out, I’ll post it here. ETA: sometime tomorrow evening. Stay tuned.

February 15, 2010

Edited to add: I didn’t forget about doing the video review, I’m just having some technical issues with my camera. As in, I probably shouldn’t give up my day job for a career as a cameraperson.

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Comfort Food: Chili

Note: I initially posted this recipe at 5 Minutes for Special Needs back in October of 2008, and felt it was high time to share it here too. The link to the original post can be found here.

Okay, so I feel a bit guilty. It was rather cruel of me to post photos of sunny beach days while virtually everyone in the U.S. is freezing their behinds off. I’m sorry.

To make up for this, I’ve got a recipe for some good old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. This is perfect for a cold winter’s night. Chili makes for a delicious, hearty meal. It’s fast and simple to make, and it can be served with some of your favorite accompaniments. My husband and kids love to eat it with tortilla chips or steamed rice.

Steak Chili with Beans

1 ½ lbs. chuck steak, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup GF beef broth
1 eight ounce can tomato sauce
1 fifteen ounce can beans (kidney or pink), rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, warm canola oil in a large pot. Add cubed beef and brown on all sides. Add onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, broth, and tomato sauce. Bring to boil, reduce to medium-low heat, and cover. Allow to simmer about 20 minutes. Add beans and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips, steamed rice, corn tortillas, or salad.

Thinking Warm Thoughts

I know that some might think it cruel of me to post beach photos in the middle of winter; I mean, it’s freakin’ freezing out in most of the U.S. right now. I prefer to put a more positive spin on things: perhaps envisioning warm summer days on a sandy beach will trigger some sort of mind/body response, thereby enabling one to think warm thoughts and actually FEEL warmer.

Yeah, I’m not buying it either.

We spent a lot of time on the beach this summer. It is a bit of a drive from our house to the Gulf, but since Flamenco Dad works at a school near the beach I would drop him off at work and then continue on to the beach with the kids. My hubby’s not exactly a huge fan of sand in the shorts (but who is?), so I didn’t feel too badly about leaving him behind whilst the kids and I frolicked in the water.

My son absolutely loves the beach. Ayden would have gladly gone every day this summer, but his mom made him go do pesky things like visit museums and stuff.

Zoe loved it too, although she was pretty upset by the horror that is GETTING SALT WATER IN YOUR EYES! I had to keep reminding her that while Mama can do many things, controlling the elements ain’t one of them.

Still, we did have loads of fun enjoying the surf and sand, building castles and enjoying the fresh air. During these cooler winter months, our thoughts turn to the delightful summer days to come.

Project Ginger Redux

Project Ginger was such a huge success last year that the family decided we would try again this year. We opted to make a smaller house this time around, using a template for a saltbox house rather than last year’s colonial model. We ended up making two houses this year, one to demolish on Christmas Eve at my house and one that we gifted to my mother on Christmas Day. When I told her of our family tradition of smashing the completed house to bits at our Christmas party, Mom looked at me like I was nuts and replied with an emphatic  “Oh, I just can’t!” Mom took many pictures of what she called “an edible masterpice,” and I’m hoping to get those photos from her soon, because my photos leave a bit to be desired.

I’m not sure if Mom tore her gingerbread house apart or not. Mom held a party for her employees the Saturday immediately after Christmas, and my gingerbread house was the centerpiece on the buffet table. The staff was really thrilled with it, and they were also a bit surprised to find out that it was homemade (Even people who haven’t seen me in years recall that I am not exactly what you’d call a crafty gal). The clients also thought it was quite lovely and festive.

That darn house may still be intact today. I have no idea and, frankly, I’m afraid to ask. Not sure I’d want to know if there’s a two-week-old gingerbread house languishing in my mom’s beauty shop, the scent of peroxide and hairspray replacing the house’s original gingerbread/Necco wafer fragrance.

The candy selection this year was better than last year’s–I guess that’s because I planned far enough in advance this time to get the candy everyone wanted. This year we bedazzled our house with DOTS, Mike ‘N Ike, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, and the Necco wafers for the roof shingles. And we didn’t eat too much of the leftover candy. Okay, maybe we did.

My kids’ favorite part of the this whole exercise was–believe it or not–the little gingerbread boy and girl who stand guard at the front of the house. Ayden insisted on having a little Ayden and Zoe as part of the presentation, and I think it really works, don’t you?

It’s a Celebration

Zoe successfully made the transition from elementary school to middle school with virtually no drama at all. She had a day or two during that initial warming-up period where she had a bit of a meltdown (a very noisy gym made for a difficult session of P.E.), but it’s been a smooth transition for everyone involved. Before the switch to the new school took place, however, some much-needed partying was in order.

Yes, that is my daughter, getting her boogie on. She had a fantastic time at the party, which was held for all the fifth graders as their official send-off from elementary school. I made it to the party a bit late, and that was a real shame because I got several eyewitness accounts from teachers, parents, and students informing me that at one point Zoe jumped onto the stage and was dancing while all the kids were shouting “Go Zoe! Go Zoe!” Sadly, there is no photographic evidence to speak of, but this picture says it all…the girl was puttin’ on her “A” moves.

Here is Zoe and her BFF Kaitryn. The girls are in different schools this year, which meant that each of them was flying solo in a new school, but they remain very close. We’ve had several visits with Kaitryn and her family, which is really great. The girls have been thick as thieves since the end of the second grade so it was tough to see them separate; Zoe is glad she still has her BFF even if they aren’t in the same school together.

This milestone was, of course, bittersweet: it’s difficult to accept the fact that my little one has moved on and is growing into a young lady. At the same time, words cannot convey how much I marvel at Zoe’s accomplishments over the past several years. She is a fighter, and her commitment to never giving up on herself  is something I find truly amazing.

“Go Zoe! Go Zoe!”

In Which I Begin to Play Catch-Up

In looking at the photographs we took in 2009, it came to my attention that I have many, MANY things that I wanted to blog about…but didn’t. Circumstances being what they were, i.e. I was busy studying my butt off for the past year, it became increasingly difficult to set aside the time to write and post about some of the things we had been doing here at Casa Flamenco. To remedy the situation, I have made an executive decision: rather than post the absolute longest 2009 retrospective ever written–one which no sane human being would want to read–I’m going on a blogathon. I’m going to try and catch up with all the posts I meant to write to go with the good (and sometimes not-so-good) photos we took this year. Unfortunately that means that some of the things I’ll be posting here don’t exactly fit the season in which we currently find ourselves.

Case in point: these frozen chocolate bananas I made with the kids.

A summertime delight, to be sure; but it’s not something that many of you out there would want to eat right now since it’s something like zero degrees outside. I made these sometime in June, I think. They are delicious and GFCF, since I used allergen-free chocolate chips and a bit of coconut oil to make the chocolate dip; also the jimmies (sprinkles) are Zoe-safe.

Just a few bits of advice if you’ve got a hankering for this frozen dessert: first, resist the urge to use very ripe bananas…they will fall apart when you attempt to put the popsicle stick through them. Second, freeze the bananas first before dipping them in the chocolate. This may seem like a no-brainer to some of you, but it took me several (read: failed) attempts to figure out that the chocolate sticks better-and begins the hardening process faster-on an already frozen banana. Finally, do allow these to freeze completely before eating; otherwise, the chocolate will start melting everywhere, which is definitely not good eats.

I realize that this doesn’t exactly scream “Winter Dessert,” but after eating so many Christmas cookies, fruit cake, or whatever you may have been chowing down on this holiday season, a taste of summer may be just the type of thing you’re looking for. Now if I can only find those darn popsicle sticks.