18 June 2015

skillet sausage and scalloped potatoes

I was skimming through pinterest for some father's day recipes when I happened across this recipe that was published in Sunset back in 2004. Since I've gotten my appetite back, this sounded like the perfect dish to get back into the swing of cooking real meals. It really is more fall than summer, but I can't resist some potatoey goodness when I see it.

I decided to lighten it up and make a milder version to reduce some of the guilt of eating scalloped potatoes in June, and because my kids aren't into the spice. It's not a light dish per se, but it isn't as rich and decadent as the original. It is addicting though. I've been dreaming about the leftovers all day. And my boys, who generally detest anything with potatoes that isn't a french fry (because they're weird) kept saying, "Wow, Mom, these are actually really good!" which I will take as a compliment and a minor miracle.

Part of the success of this recipe is using fresh sausage - not precooked - so that you don't end up with something rubbery and chewy in the end. That would be sad.

Skillet Sausage and Scalloped Potatoes 
serves 4-6
4-6 fresh italian chicken sausages (one for each person you're serving)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/4" thick)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh italian flat leaf parsley 

Melt butter in the skillet and sear sausages on all sides. Remove sausages from the pan and set aside. 

Reduce heat to medium, add in olive oil, onions and garlic and stir occasionally, until onions are tender, about 5-8 minutes. 

Add half and half, sour cream and broth to the skillet and whisk or stir until smooth. Add in potatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and gently so as to not break the potatoes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degree F. When done simmering, place sausages on top of the potatoes in the skillet and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden brown on top. Remove and let cool for about ten minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Perfect with a big green salad and good company. Enjoy!

I'm going to go eat some leftovers.

17 June 2015

school's out and life lately

The boys got out of school last week and I was a bag of mixed emotions. I am so relieved to be free of schedules, packing lunches, remembering homework, washing uniforms, and rushing to and from all of our scheduled activities. I love lazy days and the freedom to stay in our pajamas, or eat lunch on the grass, or hop in the van and head to the zoo. But I also secretly dread the lack of routine when the boys run out of ideas to keep themselves busy and the girls are napping and they're in my space when I am supposed to be recharging (and maybe watching last night's Bachelorette). But so far, we've found our sweet spot this summer and everyone is happy in each other's company. I have no expectation that this well be long lasting, but girl can dream.

We have already had a stomach bug run through the kids, landing one of them in the ER a few nights ago. But it seemed to pass quickly and everyone is mostly back to normal. We spend our days reading, eating popsicles, playing in the pool, riding bikes, and playing kickball. Trips to the park, a morning at the zoo... I'm trying to dream up ideas and put together a list of things to do when these things lose their luster in the weeks to come.

And glory be, the second trimester started this week and I am finally back to feeling like a functional human being. I want to cook actual meals, I don't need to nap throughout the day, the laundry pile is starting to dwindle, and I dare say I'm adjusting to the minimal caffeine intake. I got to see the baby on an ultrasound last week and turned into a blubbering mess when I saw its little profile and its quickly beating heart. I had been all wrapped up in heartburn and nausea and exhaustion, that I wasn't really thinking about all that adding up to a sweet, tiny human. I really do love babies.

Nick and I got away for a weekend to belatedly celebrate our anniversary and I got to be a part of the Be Crafty Workshop (if you can go to one, GO.) with some really awesome women from all over the country. 

All in all, the last few weeks have been really great, and I am looking forward to many more to come.

30 May 2015

we really like babies

We are very excited to be adding to the crew this winter! Baby number six is on its way.
After the heartbreak of another adoption falling through, we spent a lot of time praying about what the next step was for our family. God answered almost immediately.
I am due in December and we are currently in conversation with our agency about how we can use the money we raised (with the help of countless friends) for our adoption to do an even greater work. We're excited and hope to share details soon.

In the meantime, I am really excited about the end of the first trimester just around the bend. Pregnancy usually looks like this for me: first trimester - why? I hate food, I want to sleep 24 hours a day, people make me angry and water gives me heartburn. second trimester - glory be! pregnancy is magical! i've never had this much energy! let's do all the projects! my body is amazing! i could do this at least one more time! third trimester - why? why does my body hate me and hurt all the time and when is this baby coming out and I don't think I can do this again. 30 seconds after birth: I definitely need more babies. It's a crazy time, you guys. Or I'm crazy. 

One of the ways I survive the nausea and heartburn is by distracting myself by binge-watching funny things. With Ivah, I think I watched every episode of Friends. This pregnancy is all about the comedians. Jim Gaffigan is my favorite, of course, with his huge family and love for food. I can relate to him on many levels and I am very excited to say that we are going to see him when he is in town in July! Laughter is the cure for all of life's woes, I think. I've also been watching his specials on Netflix - they have two streaming and they are hilarious, I think I've watched them infinite times.

The boys are thrilled to be adding to the mix. Lute especially has been so fun to watch. He is always checking on me to make sure I'm okay and wondering if I need some time to rest. He's learned to change diapers and offers to watch his sisters for me. Eddie asks me every day how big the baby is now, and George would like to know exactly how this is all going to go down. "Does the baby hatch out of your tummy, Mom?" Soooo. That conversation happened earlier than I imagined. All in all, this may be the most heartwarming, entertaining pregnancy yet. 

So, six. Here we go.

26 May 2015

recipe: the perfect dip

Not too long ago I was at a little party and the hostess served a big, lovely array of appetizers. Among them was a small dish filled with a magical dip that was everything I loved in a tiny bowl. When I asked her what it was, she said that it was something they served at their neighborhood parties and it had just come to be known as "the dip". She told me what was in it, no measurements or anything. I went home and tried my hand at it, and this is what I came up with. It really is magic.

It's easy and delicious, and the perfect addition to any get together. Or just make it for yourself on a Tuesday afternoon and try not to eat the whole batch. Serve it with your favorite cracker or a crusty baguette... it goes with just about anything.

Magic Dip
makes about 3 cups
4 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1-2 teaspoons sour cream
pepper to taste
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
(about a cup if you're using frozen or jarred)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped

Stir together goat cheese, cream cheese and sour cream until blended. Pepper well.
Add in olives, artichokes and peppers and combine. Taste and add more pepper as needed.

This can be made in advance or served right away. Store up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve with crackers, pita chips or your favorite crusty bread. Enjoy!

30 April 2015

a playmobil screening party!

This month has been so busy - two of the boys have officially started little league, my husband has been on call and traveling, and then also normal life with five kids in tow. So we are always super excited for a fun surprise and something a little out of the norm.

The good people at Netflix got in touch to see if my kids would want to have their own Playmobil Super4 screening party! We were all over that. What kid doesn't love Playmobil? And an excuse to have a mini party in the middle of the week? Always.

We started out with some fun coloring sheets that feature some of the characters on Super4, which premiered on Netflix on April 1. It's a fun, fast-paced show filled with adventure that my boys really enjoyed.

Frances and Ivah were totally down for a coloring sesh before the show. In fact, they'd prefer to "cully" all day if they had their choice. But mama doesn't love following them around and picking up the five million crayons they leave trailing all over the house, so we limit it to a few sessions a day. This was totally their jam. 

And then, of course, the costumes. Eddie and George are obsessed with the shields (which double as backpacks, apparently) and Frances always loves a sparkly crown. My very own Super4.

If you're looking for a fun show to stream for your bigger littles (think 6+) that has a wide variety of characters going on big adventures, definitely check this out. It follows Ruby the pirate, Alex the knight, Gene the secret agent, and Twinke the fairy. It's perfect for boys and girls to enjoy together without fighting over whose show they're going to choose. 
And when does that ever happen?

Here's to lots of adventures, kids who love to party, and mid-week pick me ups!