Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mozzarella Sticks

My archaic method of saving recipes I want to try is just to write them by hand in a spiral notebook. I use a type of shorthand so I only have to write out the ingredients with a couple prepping and cooking instructions. This way, I am sure to actually only save the recipes I will really try since I am going through a little more work. It's easy to see what recipes are waiting for me to give them a whirl. This recipe is one of them. Hubs *loves* cheese sticks, so as a special treat I tried this recipe that was waiting in queue.

Mozzarella Sticks

Makes 16 sticks

1 egg
2 T. water
¾ c. seasoned bread crumbs
½ t. garlic salt

1/3 c. flour
1/6 c. cornstarch
1 qt. Oil {for frying}
8 cheese sticks


Heat oil to about 350° {or put the oil over medium heat while you're prepping everything else}. I used a medium sized pot with tall sides & just filled it up so the oil was about 2 ½” deep. You'll need three separate bowls. In one, mix the egg and water. In the second, mix the seasoned bread crumbs & garlic salt. In the last, mix the flour & cornstarch. Cut each cheese stick in half so you have 16 smaller sticks. Dip the sticks first in egg, then in the flour, then in egg again, finally in the breadcrumbs. {Helps to use tongs/forks/spoons so as not to gunk up your fingers.} I battered all the sticks first, then fried them all at the same time. Fry about 4 at a time for 30 seconds each or until golden brown.

Special Notes:

If you are not using “seasoned” bread crumbs you may want to add about ½ t. salt and some ground pepper for more flavor. I also sprinkled the finished sticks with kosher salt as they were coming out of the oil. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping. YUM!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Free Movies

This seems so great that I just have to mention it {especially since my recent post about Family Movies}!! I just read about this over here, but I will repost the details. AMC Theaters hosts a Summer Movie Camp every Wednesday at 10:00 am where the whole family {or group/organization~HINT. HINT.} can see a FREE movie. Of course no movie experience is complete without the right snacks, so for only $3.00 you can purchase an AMC KidsPack which includes one drink, one popcorn, and one kids-size snack. If you are a local reader, the closest theater to us that participates is the AMC South Barrington 30 . You can view the movie schedule here. I think Charlotte's Web on August 1 sounds especially appealing. Hope this helps you have some frugal summer fun ;>)

Thanks to Alicia's comment, I am editing this post to add that Regal Cinema in Crystal Lake also has free movies for the family as well. Much better since it is so much closer {to many of you local readers}. You can also check their home page to see if a Regal Cinema near you is participating. It doesn't give any information as to snack deals other than saying "Kids Meals Available". Here is the link to the movie schedule. The other great thing is that they show them on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings at 10:00 am and there are two movies to choose from. The two movies consist of one rated G and one rated PG--great if you have an older set of children. There are at least four movies that I would love to take the kids to go see. Thanks Alicia for the tip!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Here are where all my blog clicks led me to this morning. First I started out at:

Like Merchant ships: reading her post about a tutorial she will be writing for homemade crackers. We eat a lot of crackers!! They just make an easy snack for the kiddos & I love dipping 'em in stuff too ;>) {By the way, I am also excited about her post on making homemade dishwasher detergent. This kind of frugal solution is right up my alley!}

After reading a post she had written a few days ago, I linked over to Charming the Birds from the Trees' post about the feminine attitude. I so enjoyed this post! What a great reminder about the kind of attitude we should have as women. I just feel so encouraged & motivated by this to be a better woman, especially because of the clear explanations of what this looks like.

Then I stopped over at My So Called Perfect Life, a blog I have been lurking at recently. I downloaded her instructions on making a Tote bag, since I have been sewing like a mad women recently. I love the idea of having bags already packed for the kids for church, library, beach, etc. Sounds like a great time saver!

From there I cruised over to Rocks in My Dryer . Her blog design is so happy & friendly looking. I love reading WFMW & learning new tricks to making my household run more smoothly. Out of the other bloggers she listed participating in the WFMW, I visited....

The Building Brows and her post about the Diva Cup. I don't know if you've ever heard of this product before, but I considered it once in the past. All of the commenters give me confidence to try this out {when I need it eventually of course}. I just seems so much less of a pain than mainstream products. You would never have to worry about running out of supplies & would definitely be a cost-saver in the long run. It seems amazing that it would eliminate cramps as well. Bonus!

In all fairness, those weren't the FIRST blogs I visited. I always stop by the blogs of my real-life friends first, this morning enjoying Alicia's reflection about how her despair has turned into thankfulness. Let me know if you've found any of my visits interesting as well. Stay cool today!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

I just tried this recipe over the weekend & had great success. I didn't actually try any myself because my weird appetite just wasn't gonna let me. Judging from the empty pan at the end of the day, I can be confident that it was well-liked!

Chocolate Éclair Dessert

Makes 12 servings

1 box graham crackers {will only use about 2/3 of the box}
1 3 oz. package instant vanilla pudding
1 3 oz. package instant French vanilla pudding
3 c. milk
1 8 oz. container Cool-whip
1 16 oz. can chocolate frosting


Make the puddings using the 3 cups of milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Fold in the Cool-whip. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13” pan with crackers, breaking them up a bit to make serving easier. Layer with ½ of pudding, then crackers, rest of pudding, ending with crackers. Remove foil from inside of chocolate frosting can. Microwave for 30 seconds. Spread ½ of frosting over the top. {Save the rest for another use.} Refrigerate.

Special Notes:

Make at least 12 hours before serving!! Great for potlucks. The entire pan I made was practically licked clean ;>) I also used low-fat graham crackers and Lite Cool-whip and no one seemed to notice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Family Movie Night

Please help! Hubby decided that for the summer {at least} we are going to institute a family movie & pizza night. I think it will be great to let the kids stay up a little later, especially since hubster's hours at work will get longer as the summer goes on. Nothing like a little snugglin' to keep everyone's love tanks full. {I also look forward to not having to cook that night!} But I am looking for some good family movie recommendations. Recently we rented Stuart Little 2, which we all enjoyed. I also bought Jurassic Park at a garage sale for $1.50. Tatiana had seen parts of it before and was really interested. We took out our Magic School Bus book about dinosaurs & discussed the different types, what they ate, the different shapes of their teeth, how a fossil is made, etc. Despite the small educational value, it is also a little on the gory/scary side. Even the 2 year old has started saying, "Dinosaurs eat people." But I digress. So any family movie ideas? Here are some that I came up with by looking around at plugged in online and a few of my own ideas thrown in:

  1. Anne of Green Gables
  2. Miracle on 34th Street {Christmas in July, anyone?}
  3. Nanny McPhee
  4. Mary Poppins
  5. Free Willy
  6. Polar Express {I miss the cooler weather I guess.}
  7. The Princess Diaries
  8. Cast Away {we have this already}
  9. Swiss Family Robinson
  10. Singin' in the Rain
  11. Honey I Shrunk the Kids
  12. Indiana Jones {??}
I am open to ideas. Have you seen any of the movies listed? I am kind of wanting to stay away from animated movies as {usually} they don't have a lot of adult appeal. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

20 Reasons He's a Great Dad

  1. He changed both of the girls' very first poopy diaper in the hospital.
  2. When the girls were babies, he would get them from their cribs at night and bring them to me for a feeding, then put them back again.
  3. He loves having a baby asleep on his chest {his favorite part about babyhood}.
  4. He gives them baths.
  5. He buys them M & Ms for no reason.
  6. He takes one or both with him when he has to run errands.
  7. He will take them both to visit his parents without me so I can enjoy some alone time.
  8. His heart is made of marshmallow fluff, so when he has to spank them, he does it softer than I d0.
  9. He will sleep in Tatiana's trundle bed if she is scared at night.
  10. He tries to fix the girls' hair, even though that's not the easiest thing for a guy to do.
  11. He will talk to the girls on the phone when they miss him, even if he has had to talk "baby talk" when they were younger.
  12. He rides the carnivals rides with Tatiana since they make me sick.
  13. He chases the girls around the house & riles them up & makes them laugh like no one else can.
  14. He lets the kids hop on him, knock him over, tickle him and anything else in the name of fun.
  15. He participates in pillow fights & tea parties.
  16. He lets the kids stay up late to snuggle with him and watch a family movie.
  17. He supports my decisions as a mom and is my #1 cheerleader.
  18. He will help change the child & strip the sheets if one of the kids throws up in the middle of the night.
  19. According to the kids, he is the fixer-of-anything-and-everything.
  20. He loves them more than they will ever know or be able to understand.
I love you so much, babe. There is no one else that I would rather share this parenting journey with than you. I look forward to many more Father's Days with you {and maybe a couple more kids too}!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Good Habit

I thought I would share something a little more personal, since lately it has been reader polls & recipes. So here goes. I have put away all my Bible study books. I have stopped reading books on Christian topics. Why? I have always struggled with self-discipline, especially in the area of my quiet times with God. I know it's something I should do, but would find a million excuses not to. My perfectionisitic tendencies would fool me into thinking that unless it was some earth-moving, soul-baring, hour-long experience then it wasn't worth it. I remember when I was younger {than I am now} I would look up to older more mature Christian women & think to myself that when I was older, I would be like them. I would *magically* study my Bible everyday just because I was older & wiser. Seems simple enough, but I finally realized: ain't gonna happen. Not *magically* at least. It is going to require work & {gasp} discipline. One reason why I started to develop this habit is because of my girls. I know they are watching me. I so badly want for them to grow up & be these godly women who love the Lord and long for Him and always want more of Him. With me as their example, I'm not sure that would be easily accomplished. They need to see it. I know now that it is better to spend 10 minutes with God every day, than 1 hour once a week. Why is it that I would waste an hour or two online, but I couldn't spend 10 minutes reading my Bible? Sometimes we are so emotion-driven that we don't have quiet times because we "just don't feel like it". I know now that this is wrong. It is something I should do whether I feel like it or not. He expects it of me and is just waiting for me to show up. I have started simply by using a daily devotional we received from K-LOVE. I look up all the Scriptures & do some journaling & praying. It has not been earth-moving, but it has been thought-provoking and, quite importantly, habit-forming. I leave my Bible & journal on the kitchen table, that way it is right there staring me in the face every day. It is my own gentle reminder of what I should do. If I happen to miss a day for some reason, I try not to beat myself up about it, but instead just move forward. I want to encourage you in this. Maybe everyone reading {to whom this topic applies} is much more disciplined than I am, but if not, I want to say: Just do it. Know that I am trying to "do it" too & that we can be on this journey together. We need a fresh filling of Him daily. Sunday mornings or Friday night small group is just not enough {although I can fool myself into thinking it is}! {File this under the: Million-reasons-why-I-don't-need-a-daily-quiet-time category}. If I can keep you accountable or ask you how you are doing with your quiet times, please leave a comment or feel free to email me privately. Or maybe you have some other tips that would help me to continue with my habit. This is the simple prayer I begin my Bible times with:
"Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your law." ~Psalm 119:18
Another Scripture that has really encouraged me in this process is Isaiah 55:10-11
"For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Even if I don't feel any spiritual adrenaline, He assures me that my quiet times ARE working and are "accomplishing what He pleases". He will work in you too! Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Easy Summer Meal

Much to my dismay, I have not had the desire to cook as of lately. It was until just recently that I have been able to even watch the Food Network without feeling queasy. Needless to say, the fam hasn't been eating the well thought out home-cooked meals that they are used to. I did manage to put together this easy one-dish summer meal yesterday. I baked it early in the day when my energy was up & the outside temp was still low so the oven wouldn't heat up the house terribly. My mom used to make this quiche-like dish quite often, especially in the summer when zucchini are overflowing from the garden. Serve with a side salad or some sliced tomatoes. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Bisquick Zucchini Pie

Makes 6-8 servings

3 c. shredded unpeeled zucchini
1 large onion, diced
½ c. shredded Parmesan
½ c. shredded cheddar
½ c. vegetable oil
1 c. Bisquick
4 eggs
½ T. dried parsley
s & p, TT


Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 9” pie plate. Combine all ingredients. Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Special Notes:

I used 2 medium zucchini for the 3 cups. I also like sharp cheddar for more flavor. I like to let the quiche sit for about an hour so that it firms up a bit more.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Share a story, make a difference!

Did you know that you can donate a meal to someone in need right from your comfy computer chair? It won't cost you anything other than a couple minutes of time. Maybe you have seen the TV commercials for Shedd's Spread Country Crock's Spread the Sharing Campaign. For every story someone shares about a meal they have had, Country Crock will donate one meal to America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable hunger relief organization. If you are in the giving spirit, you can donate more than one meal! When you are registering, there is an option to opt-out of receiving any emails from Country Crock & its affiliates, so you won't be getting any junk mail {if that bothers you}. It's such a simple way to make even a small difference. Please post a comment & let me know if you share a story. Blessings!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Are they really THAT different?

After reading this post at another blog I stumbled across, I began wondering, "Are boys really THAT different to raise than girls?" Do you treat your boys differently than you treat your girls? Do you expect them not to cry if they get hurt or expect your girls to be the compassionate ones? Are they really the stereotypical rough & tumble, rowdy, rambunctious creatures that they are made out to be? Aren't there quiet and thoughtful boys too? For example, my two girls have very different personalities. My oldest girl is a compliant, sensitive, feminine, and yet adventurous little lady. My second girl is a mischievous, highly curious, doesn't-get-hurt-easily, toddler who loves to cuddle {when she isn't getting into trouble}. She does things that I never even thought a girl would do like play in the toilet, eat dog food, & take off all her clothes and diaper when I'm not looking. Really quite different. I would think that personalities amongst children would vary widely, whether boys or girls. I know some intellectual introverted men & some rowdy extroverted ones as well. I know some very emotional women & some very non-emotional ones. If you only have one boy & one girl, I would think it might be hard to discern whether or not their personalities are different because of gender or whether it is just because they are two different children. I guess I am also curious because if this next baby turns out to be a boy, I am wondering what I am "in for"!