Crispy Baked Chicken

IMG_7906Quite a few years ago, 1996 to be more specific, I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine.  At the time my parents had declared my sister and I would be occasionally responsible for planning and preparing a meal for dinner.  This recipe was an instant success and we have made it countless times since, not only for dinner at home but for church functions and fundraiser dinners!  You can multiply the dry ingredients and keep it on hand for a quick chicken dinner.  Bone in or boneless skinless, it works wonderfully.

Serve with rich potatoes and your favorite veggie and you cannot lose, it paired deliciously with my Smoked Gouda Twice Baked Potatoes!

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • About 3 pounds of chicken cut up
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • Tabasco Sauce, optional

Directions:

Soak the chicken in the milk (for a little extra kick add a few dashes of hot sauce, this is very optional).  Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a shallow dish for coating the chicken. Pre-heat oven to 375’F.

Coat the chicken with the cornmeal mixture and place into a lightly buttered dish.  Ideally, allow the coated chicken to sit for at least 5-10 minutes (this will ensure everything browns nicely).  Melt the butter and drizzle evenly over the chicken.

Bake uncovered until chicken is done.  For cut up bone-in chicken, this can take about 50 minutes, boneless, skinless breast tenders will take about 20-25 minutes.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday John!

I have to say, this was a really fun dinner, even though I was rather late arriving because I had some turkey business to attend to.  I had however dropped my girls off before hand so they would be there for dinner.

Much to my shock, there was Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner, which I am almost thinking my brother-in-law chose just so I would have something to write about.  He ALWAYS chooses lasagna when given the opportunity.  There was also a salad with a homemade berry dressing, Italian sausage, asparagus and sesame bread.  For dessert he did choose as I expected, Banana Cream Pie (all the guys seem to be in love with this pie).

When I arrived everyone was pretty much done eating and there were; 2 babies, 1 toddler one 2.5 year -old (who apparently had fallen asleep in her food and was tucked away in bed), 1 tweenager and 14 adults (yay! a full house again!)

Recently our city flooded and declared a state of emergency, so there, of course, was a lot of talk about who experience what, and fortunately, none of us were majorly affected.  Just some minor water the in the basement, flooded garden sort of situations.  Many of us knew people however that had lost a lot of their possessions.

We talked a lot about future craft shows and looked through some of the very cool StickmanLeatherWorks that the neighbors brought over. My daughter announced she wanted to start decorating the Ukranian eggs again.

The little girls were all in a babbling mood and cheerful baby words and giggles were easy to hear.

We talked about the library’s summer reading program and getting all the kids signed up and excited.

And then…

The fans came out.  Just before dessert and just after a few glasses of wine.  Now, these fans are like the fancy lace fans you think of at social balls and what not.  The fans in question well lovely to look at came from the dollar store.  Initially purchased to entertain the little girls at horse shows and help keep them cool.

Now, however, we were in stitches learning proper fan “lingo” and etiquette.  Nothing like a tall guy waving around a pretty blue and gold lace fan you know.  While you might think this entertainment would quickly pass, it actually lasted like two hours… well past dessert and until my toddlers were ready to go home.

But before we could leave, we had to learn some new yoga stretches for my oldest daughter to help strengthen her legs for horse riding…. I think most of us pulled a muscle just watching her.

Happy Birthday Linda!

Who doesn’t love a birthday?  We are lucky enough to celebrate MANY birthdays throughout the year with all of our extended family (even if it takes me forever to write about it!)  It is particularly awesome when those choosing their birthday dinners pick some of my favorites!

I think it is safe to say Lasagna is becoming a birthday favorite, and not a person is complaining, in fact, I think if my parents advertised they were serving lasagna for dinner they would have to open up their basement and start charging admission.  It’s just that good.

In addition to the Lasagna, we also had Italian Sausage, Sauteed Cauliflower, and Broccoli with Sweet Peppers and Roasted Garlic Bread.  Dessert, and oldie but a goodie, Chocolate Cake.

Again, awesome picks!

For the birthday dinner, there were 11 adults, 3tweens, 2 two-year-olds, 1 toddler and 2 babies.

Since we have quite a few older kids it was decided that they should all take turns saying the blessing rather than my daughter doing it every time.  We even have a prayer cube in case they need a little help.

One of the boys said prayers tonight, “Thank you God for the food and friends. Amen.”

Amen.

Do you want some noodles? Hold on! I’ll get you some food too!

Wasn’t there a bowl of sausage?

Oh, oops! Yes, just a second!

Apple JUUUUUUUIIIICEEE

I thought I saw the sausages there!

Can you pass the bread, please?

And the butter when you get the chance!

Did you see the peach wine?

OOOOOO!

How was your massage?

Awesome!

I went to go pick her up from riding but she was already gone.  The horse lady said your mom has just picked her up.

And she didn’t call you?! I’m sorry! Thanks for the attempt though I really appreciate it!
No problem, it was a whole mile out of the way.

Still, thank you.

Oh, he’s going for another piece.

It’s just so good!

Here go see your aunt.

Well hello, baby!  I get a smile too? Big girl!

(baby kicks and squirms)

You want to go play with the big kids, don’t you?

Did you hear what she did?

No

She rolled over while you sister was at work for the first time! Dad got to see it!

Haha! Paybacks for waiting on the oatmeal huh?

I guess so, stinker.

Uhh, I don’t know if I can finish this piece, my eyes say Yes! My stomach says maybe not.

Take all that you want, but eat all that you take!

You don’t need to help clean up, it’s your birthday!

Well, I am on this side of the table! (The side sitting closest to the kitchen gets to clear the table).

Can I get a to-go box?

Hey! I got a video of you riding Chaps at your lesson.  Great job!

How did your show go?

Good! I took TWO reserve championships.  One for walk/trot and one for poles.

Good job!

So guys, what kind of bread was it tonight?

Uhhh, potato?

No, Roasted Garlic.

I ate it so fast, I have no idea.

I only got one piece, I;m so bummed that’s one of my favorites and I didn’t even notice!

I might have noticed if I didn’t run it through the sauce…

The first hunger bites don’t count, right?

 

Ready for cake? (Kids stampede through the house turning out lights and my two-year-old as always gets super excited with an ear to ear grin ready to sing Happy Happy)

Are you ready to sing?

Ready!

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday Dear Linda (Mom), Happy Birthday to you!

YEA!!!!

This isn’t Mom’s usual chocolate cake… somethings different. She must have used cocoa powder.

(The older kids have already inhaled their cake and have stampeded outside to play)

What did you do differently with your cake?

Nothing…

You didn’t use cocoa powder? Why is it so fluffy?

I don’t know the sour cream coffee cake was way too fluffy also,

I noticed as I dropped half of my piece trying to eat it…

I think the flour is weird.

Did they accidentally give you self-rising flour?

I don’t know, it’s not the usual brand we buy, I can’t wait till its gone.

Well, it still tastes good.

It does, but it’s not my cake.

Well, we are going to head out, cranky baby.

(A friend fo mine pops by)

Wheres your niece?

They just left a few minutes ago.

Darn! I always miss that baby! But this one is awful cute! Those cheeks are killing me!

I know, they always get me too!

We’re going to head out too.  Beef next week, right?

Whenever you’re ready!

Hey, I brought your jars back, even dumped the homemade hooch out just for you.

Haha! Thanks.  That’s just a nasty thought, bathtub hooch.

Well, I learned to make it in prison….

Like the purple rain, in the bathtub? No thanks! Been there done that have the t-shirt!

Is she spending the night?

I think so…. Go get your back pack if you’re staying!

Don’t forget to take your tomato plants!

 

5/15/17

We finally had some beautiful weather this week!  So dinner was served outside on my parents three tier porch.  It couldn’t have been a more beautiful setting to have a big gathering for dinner.  And as is customary for the first weather that is worthy of a picnic, my parents made BBQ Ribs and Potato Salad.  There was also coleslaw, corn, fruited jello, raisin bread and white bread.  For dessert, there were two cheesecakes, one made with homemade cream cheese from out dairy cow!

At this picnic there were;  11 adults, 1 tween, 1 two-year-old,  1 toddler, 2 babies, 1 dog and 2 cats (the neighbors’ kids came to visit).

Do you want me to sit over there so you can put your girl here?

No, no you can sit by your wife!  She will fit in this corner just fine.  I don’t think the other is going to sit very long either.

Here’s the high chair.

Baby coming through! (It took a little arranging to get all the kids situated so they were safe from the stairs)

When you say prayers, say an extra one for Grandpa.

Bless this house Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day, Amen.  And please bless Great Grandpa so he feels better both day and night.  Amen.

Very nice, thank you.

Very sweet!

Pardon my reach, it’s a little awkward with a whiny girl on your lap.

Don’t worry about it.

Do you want some jello, honey?  Hold on! I’m getting you food too!

Is that raisin bread? Make sure you get a piece of that!

Who wants coleslaw?

Thank you!
Hmm, we’ll just set that bread basket here.

In another week or two, you won’t get away with that! (As the baby is eyeballing the basket of bread sitting on the highchair tray juuuust out of reach)

Did you tell everyone how your concert went?

It went really good!

NOOOO! Don’t put that back in the Jello!!!

Here, I’ll just take that… (goes to put the spoon back in the bowl)

NOOOOOO!!!! Boogers here licked that.  The Jello might be questionable at this table guys, I don’t think she got the spoon back in there but I am not certain.

Ah, well, let’s just set that over here then…

Pardon my reach now.

Are there any little pieces of ribs left?

There’s a little chunk of meat.

And at this point both of my girls have decided they are done and are running wild up and down the stairs and out around the yard….

Wow, that girl has a good arm! (Referring to the softball game that is being played in the park across the yard).

Did she make it?

And some other baseball chatter.

Look at the new swing!  It’s a horse!

Ride!  Whee!

My husband and the neighbor go for a walk to look at a yard project that needs to be done.

I liked the red pepper in the potato salad dad, that was really good.

The cat comes over for a visit, and my children maul it.

He did really well letting her hug all over him.

That one’s not bad, the other one isn’t quite so friendly.

I have to tell you, I have a problem with your worm farm.

What?

So, I was digging in the garden to plant my new blueberry bushes and cut a worm.  I felt horrible thinking about your worms.

Haha!

I know!

Don’t worry, I couldn’t kill a wasp the other day.  It was huge and I was afraid if I hit it and didn’t kill it would get mad and attack me.  So I went and got the left over wasp spray, and I hit it, but it didn’t kill it or do anything so I tried again, and then it moved to the edge of the window, so I just kinda shooed it out.  I felt good about not killing it for a minute and was like great, it’s probably going to plan revenge now.

Do different kinds of worms make different kinds of soil? Like, are night crawlers different than regular earthworms?

I don’t know, mine are little red ones that can’t live below 40′, so they wouldn’t live in our soil I guess.

Can you go swing with your sister for a little bit?

Sure!

Of course like any picnic, there is lots of movement and flow, both of conversation and people.   And then dessert is brought out.

Ok, everyone, there are two different cheesecakes!  One is made with homemade cream cheese and the other is regular.

I can tell which is which already (frowning).

Oh, maybe not I could have over mixed one.

Mmm, these look good!

Here, take these down there and set them out for everyone.

Do you want strawberries?

So one of these is made with the homemade cream cheese?  Sorry, I can tell which is which.

Yeah, it sill tastes pretty good though.

I think there are a couple things, I left it out to soften which I think was a mistake for your cheese.  And maybe you need to drain it longer next time?

I think so, I can do that.  But I have also noticed my stuff has a different melting point, even the butter is different, I am not sure exactly why.

We tried the duck eggs the other day.

Oh yeah? How did you like those?

They were pretty good.  We still have to try them by themselves, but so far we like them.

Want a goose egg?

The same goose egg that’s been in your fridge for months now?

Yeah.

No thanks.

What is a goose egg like anyway?

Somewhere between a duck and chicken egg, but bigger.  Not quite as rich as a duck egg.

Again everyone starts to wander about here and there, picking up some dishes, having another glass of wine, play catch with the kids.  Grandma pulls out some fudge sickles and the littles require a bath before they can get in the car.  The oldest is tortured because she has homework that needs to be done (NOW!) and the babies enjoy the warm air on their naked legs.  Overall just a very pleasant time with wonderful people.

 

 

Happy Birthday Lee!

Happy birthday to my husband!  I know this meal is one he looks forward to all year, he gets his favorites that I rarely, if ever make simply because I don’t like them.  His choices included;  Meatloaf (from the Disney Princess Cookbook, because that’s the only version oldest daughter will eat), Scalloped Potatoes, and Asparagus.  Additionally, there was Potato Bread and Red Beets (because Dad wanted them).  For dessert, there was Banana Cream Pie.  Now, this pie is one that not only converted my Dad to eating Banana Cream but also moved it to the top of his list (I still don’t like bananas).

Our group was pretty typical, with last week’s new face in attendance again, so glad to have her with us!  The headcount looked like 2 babies, 1 toddler, 2 two-year-olds, 3 tweens and 12 adults.

And dinner went something like this:

You can sit next to the messy one there…

Hey, why isn’t she sitting out here?

She has an announcement she wants to make later and wants to sit at the big table to make it.

Did you get voted off the island to the kid table Mom?

Something like that.

Well, say prayers kiddo.

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day.  Amen.

It’s your birthday, get started so everyone else can eat.

He’s going to be in a meatloaf coma.  Don’t worry any beef does that to me too, puts me in a coma.

I don’t think beef has tryptophan in it…

Do you like beets?

Well, I am not going to say ‘No’ here because I’ve been proven wrong so many times, not usually, but I am going to try them.

Mom tried to feed me beets when I was a baby and I threw them all over the house!

Yes, you did.

Why is she sitting here tonight?

She wants to make her announcement.

Oh about the school thing?

Yes.

At the far end of the table I can hear them talking about jokes and puns, but never really caught the punch line, but one made it down to our end:

When you pour root beer into a square glass, what do you get?  Beer.

It’s a math joke.  The square root…

The radio station I listen to has the clean joke of the day, anyone can send one in too!

So I heard the little one tried to go swimming yesterday.

SHHH, it’s supposed to be a surprise.

Yeah, she did but SHHH, Mom doesn’t know we did pictures yesterday

That’s my favorite Disney Villan.

Which one was your favorite?

Ursala.

Ah good choice (and everyone goes on discussing their favorites, I am pretty sure we have done this conversation before, it’s true, we are Disney people)

What about Madame Mim?

What movie is she from?

Sword and the Stone.

AH, I haven’t seen that one in forever.

Hey, no pawing at the baby, leave her alone.

Is she ok?  I try to be chill, but…

She’s ok, you know me, but three little girls poking at her eyes and I interviene.

Hey want to sing Happy Birthday to Daddy?

YES!! HAPPYYYYYYYY! Coming!!

Happy to you!

Ok ready?

Happy Birthday to you (chchchcha), Happy Birthday to you (Happy to Mollie!), Happy Birthday dear Lee (Happy ME!!)(chachacha) Happy Birthday (Happy Daddy!)to you!

Lick candle?

Not that end! That side is hot!

Don’t bite the end! Are you ok? You can’t eat that!

This piece big enough (the whole pie).

AHHHHHH!!(baby screaming at Mom for a piece of pie)

I think she would like a piece of that…

She’s next, here.

And everyone settles into eating their pie, and coversations go around and around, from radio shows, to upcoming craft shows and awesome leatherwork, to how leather is made and so on.  The Disney Princess Cookbook left with the chef for his upcoming meal planning meeting, and see you laters were said.

Happy Birthday, Tillie!!

My oldest daughter, the dinner prayer reciter, left the realm of single digit birthdays this year.  She was very busy over spring break and we didn’t get around to choosing her dinner until Sunday night (usually she has it well laid out in advance).  I think the conversation that decided her dinner is noteworthy, so here it is:

(Texted) Mom:  We need to know what Tillie wants for her birthday dinner.

Me: Tillie, you need to tell me what you want for dinner or Grandma is going to choose.

Tillie: I want, Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes and my bread.

Me: Challah bread?

Tillie: Yes!

Me: What do you want for dessert?

Tillie: I’m still thinking

To Mom: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and challah bread.

Tillie: And green beans!  Drumsticks too!

To Mom: And green beans

*drumsticks*

Mom: No dessert?

Me: Still going through her options

10 minutes pass…

Me to Tillie:  You have to decide on dessert right now or we’ll forget.

Tillie: Apple pie.

Me: Really? Apple Pie?

Tillie: Yeah

Me: The kind with crumbles on the top or crust?

Tillie: The crumble kind.

Me: I didn’t think you liked apple pie?

Tillie: I love apple pie!

Me: Well that’s a very All-American Dinner, cool.

Me to Mom: Dutch Apple Pie ala mode

Mom: Really? I didn’t think she liked apple pie?

Me: That’s what I said.  But, she said it sounded good

Mom: She must be older now… like 10 🙂

So now that you are up to speed on the menu and its decision-making process, joining us for the celebration we had a good crowd of 10 adults, three tweens, two 2-year-olds, two one-year-olds and two babies.  A good friend of mine and surrogate aunt to Tillie also popped into deliver a birthday gift.

The usual Hello! How are you’s? and How’s it going this week?

Hey, we haven’t seen you in forever! Wow has he gotten big and look at that hair!

My 2-year-old decided to join the big kids at their table and actually ate more than she ever eats, so that seating arrangement will defiantly be tried again!

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day. Amen!

The little babies, who are getting rapidly bigger and starting to eyeball the food on the table, especially one who was sitting on her Daddy’s lap this week!

And conversations circle around as they do,

Stop throwing mashed potatoes to the dog!

Uh oh! We had a spill over here!

Where’s the dog?

Don’t worry, he’s busy chewing some bread over here, he’ll get over there.  It’s not meat, right? (The dog doesn’t handle meat very well in his old age)

Dog! Eat! Nom Nom!

Hey, get off the table! (my two year old now crawling across the table to me snake style)

Mama Help!

You know you might have gotten away with sitting on the table when you were that age, but not for much longer.  Five maybe.

Oh yeah, by six I’m sure I was being swatted by something.

You got swatted?

Yep, elbows on the table, being rude, you name it.  By high school, my friends were getting swatted.

Really?

She’s right, her friends used to come over and slouch at the table, or put their knees up on the table.  Once one of her friends let a curse word slip.

No cursing at the table either?

No Way!  Not anywhere in the house!

(Mom giving her best “Mom” look and shaking her head)

I don’t think Mom really heard me swear until I was in my twenties…. maybe not until I was in labor with her!  No, I take that back, there was that time I slammed my finger in the door and about took it off when I was 12 or 13.

That didn’t count, I let those ones slide.

Oh man… oops!

Ready for your birthday pie?

Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday to You! Happy Birthday, Dear Tillie! Happy Birthday to YOU!!!

Can I like the candles?

Sure.  Can you share with the girls? (the two-year-olds hovering anxiously for pie coated birthday candles)

Don’t bite it!

And more conversations circle around.

Be soft to the doggy!

He’s quite the mover! They’re almost playing together!

Animals use tools, crows are actually very intelligent….

I remember talking about that a while ago…

That’s right!

You know, I love when you are here because my vocabulary gets better, I either learn new words or remember words I used to use.

I’m a regular dictionary.  I used to just sit and read the dictionary.

I used to love to read… I am not sure I remember how (me chasing my crazy babies)

And as it does, things wind down and people start heading home, toys and dishes are picked up.  And so ends another Tuesday Dinner.

Happy Birthday…. Dani?

So this week, we were expecting a large crowd, but it ended up being pretty modest, so there was plenty of food to go around!  This was supposed to be the birthday dinner for one of the new mommies, but as luck would have it, things didn’t work out according to plan.

Roll call included 10 adults, one 2-year-old, one 1-year-old and one baby.  Per the birthday girls request we had my Dad’s Chicken Strips, Cheesy Potatoes, Asparagus with Parmesan cheese, and bread.  We also were lucky enough to have some barbecue ribs brought to us via the chef!  And for dessert, Black Forest Cake (two versions the adult made with cherry wine and the child-friendly without).

 

Mmm, is that chicken strips or did she request a currie?

Chicken strips.

Awesome!

You didn’t need to bring that wine back…

I did so you can compare it to these (sticks out plastic bag full of soap). Smell.  Now, smell the wine.

Hey, that’s pretty good!

What’s that?

Here smell this,

Oo…

Now smell this…

Nice!

(And I continue on my forced smell experiment until everyone has smelled the wine soap)

Here ya go, the wine soap you wanted!

Oh, that’s pretty nice, and no oatmeal!

Nope, no oatmeal!

Does anyone want these heirloom tomato seeds?

Nope, we already have ours started.

Do you want them?

Sure, I’ll give them a try, Cherokee Purple? Are they really purple? Because that would be awesome.

Let me look.

The outsides are kind of purplish.

Mostly a deep red color, well, I’ll give them a try.

Where is everyone?

I don’t know, last I knew they all were coming.

Well, dinners ready.

Huh, I really thought they would be here.

Did she forget it was her birthday?

Where did the ribs come from?

They were leftovers, instead of throwing them out, figured we could eat them.

They smell great.

Mama salt. (My two-year-old is obsessed with pouring salt onto everything) More salt.

I think that is enough.

(Phone rings)

—Hey, are you guys ok?  Oh no!  Their basement flooded, that’s why they aren’t here.  Well, I will try and freeze a piece of your cake for you!  Hey, everyone, sing happy birthday! (Holds the phone out)  Happy Birthday to you, (cha cha cha) Happy Birthday to you, (chachacha) Happy birthday dear Dani, Happy birthday to you!  You have a good night!  Happy Birthday and stay dry!—

This bread is really good, do you add sugar to it?

Yes.

Mom, can you pick up our turkeys if they don’t come tomorrow?  They were supposed to ship yesterday and I haven’t heard anything and if they come Thursday I can’t get them!

Oh, if I have too… yes, we can get the turkeys.

Great, their pen and everything is all ready to go.

So, I learned a new way to cut down trees… (this lead into much discussion about the best ways to cut down a tree, using a jack to cut down trees, standing at a 90′ angle from said tree and so on and so forth)

What kind of shrubbery should I use if I want to hide things? Averviti?

Well, what’s your deer situation like?

(this also leads into lengthy discussion, I should mention in the mix there is are two landscapers, former tree cutter,  horticulturists and I apologize if I got someone’s title incorrect but you get the idea… proper shrubbery matters at this meal)

Everyone ready for cake?

Two cakes?!?

One is kid friendly and the other one is for grown-ups.

OOO did you use the wine?

I did.

Here I can hold the baby.

You don’t have to…

I’m not going to eat cake, I don’t do cherries.

Oh ok.

TV?

You want to watch Moana?

YES!

Maybe they will sleep… that would be awesome, the 1-3 A.M. awake time is killing me.

We almost rented that one.

I really liked it.

They like “The Rock” singing the “Thank you” song.

Which character is he? The crab?

No, Maui, one of the main characters.

I can’t stand the chicken.

The chicken is Hei-hei, the one we were calling you last week.

Ah.

You can borrow it anytime you want.

You know, that one of the nice things about little kids being around, you can watch these movies and not feel silly sitting there watching it.

We call that one Lucky, like on 101 Dalmations because she just sits there and stares at the TV when it’s on.

Don’t forget the farmer dinner is tomorrow night!

What time again?

6:30

Oh, shoot I can’t go, I have a hockey game.

That’s ok, not like I’m cooking.

Where is it? Do I need anything special to get in?

No, I don’t think you do.  He can stay home with the kids and just you and I can go.

Hey!

What’s the dress code?

Umm, not naked?

(Eye roll) Like jeans?

Yes, just jeans and a shirt.  It’s casual.

 

And this is where my brain shut off… it has been a busy week and I took too long to get here to write it all down!  But here are some lovely pictures to remember the meal by!

Happy Birthday Nikki!

This weeks dinner was a little quieter and much smaller than it has been in a long time!  Which worked out for those of us there because we didn’t have to share the cake… I mean we really missed everyone and wish they could have joined us celebrating Nikki’s birthday.

The birthday girl didn’t have a dinner request, only a dessert.  Sin cake.  This cake I have heard go by a few names, some less family friendly than Sin Cake, but basically it is chocolate cake soaked with sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce.  Then topped with loads of whipped cream, crushed Heath candy bars and drizzled with more caramel.  A piece is clearly a meal on its own but we did eat some real food prior to indulging.

For the main meal we had Chicken Cordon Blue, but instead of individually rolled up, the breasts were breaded and crisped and then laid casserole style with all the other traditional ingredients, an effective and delicious way to feed a time consuming dish to a crowd (my parents were expecting more than the seven adults, one tweenager, two toddlers and one infant that made it).  We also had Cauliflower with Leeks, Roasted potatoes and bread.

Well, isn’t that a fancy dress?!

Yes, at least she is wearing pants and socks with the Tinkerbell dress today!

Did you hear my news?

A little bit…

A store is going be carrying my soaps now!  They just informed me today, and they seemed really excited!

Well its just a small group of us tonight.

That’s ok, more cake for me.

Well she likes the cauliflower

Can you say prayers?

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day Amen.

POTTY!!

Ok! Hurry, hurry!

Meanwhile, everyone is settling in with their plates, and I am organizing the children into a position to effectively eat something and not just feed it to the dog.

Can I have a few more potatoes?  You forget I feed these guys off whatever is on my plate!

Oh yeah, sorry!

So, when’s dessert?

What dessert? (Look of shock)

You don’t deserve a dessert after the trick you pulled Saturday!

It wasn’t me! They STOLE my phone and texted you those lies!

How was your dance any way?

It was really good.  Your Dad and his partner did a great job and finished.  My partner and I won “Most Entertaining” (She and the much younger gentleman did a Disco!)

Didn’t Dad win that one last year?

Yes, so now we have matching trophy’s sitting next to each other.

.The guy in the wheel chair did an amazing job.  The strength that had to take…

They really did a beautiful job.

What is it called again?  Frankenmuth Dancing with the Local Stars

dancing with the stars

 

And we talked about the prospective windmills that are trying to negotiate coming to our area, the pros and cons of different energy sources.  Patting sleepy babies to sleep, potty again, Tinkerbell dress didn’t survive that trip.  Is there more wine?

Where can I get Cedar planks?

The Amish usually have some, you just have to go up there, if the first one doesn’t have them he can usually point you to the guy that does.

Do they have  Western Red Cedar?

No, they are only going to have local kinds of wood.  But they are a great price!

And they’re more environmentally friendly, no shipping!

Well, this is the week we are going to get the roof done.

Just one week huh?

Their bathroom started as one week… their project started as a couple days..

Well, we have a week, we’re not expecting help, but if want the entertainment value, comeon over.

Is everyone ready for dessert or should I wait a little bit?

No, we’re ready!

What is this wine?

He couldn’t stay for dinner but brought the wine anyway.

Sweet, I’ll try it (makes a face).  Its not good.

Let me try.. (makes a face), ooh its getting worse as it sits in my mouth

Mom and Dad try a glass… (faces) AH! It does get worse!

You know, I have no desire to try that, you are all making identical faces of yuck.

I think I’ll have to take this back to him…

It must be the Chardonnay blended in that ruins it.

Hey kiddo, you ready to sing happy birthday?

Happy Birthday to you (cha cha cha) Happy Birthday to you (cha cha cha) Happy Birthday dear Nikki! Happy Birthday to you!

Now, how many boyfriends do you have… blows all the candles out.

Alright! High five!

I’m not serving the cake, someone else can.

Ok, one for you and you… and this piece is for you right? (Points to half the cake)

I wish I could!

This first piece isn’t going to be pretty

That’s ok, I don’t care what it looks like.

Oh really?! (SPLAT! Upside down on the plate and everyone laughs)

Well, its not as bad as our wedding, we just about ruined the kitchen.

Not to rush you out, but you should probably get her home.  Shes really tired.

Finishing dessert, change into Pj’s little bits of conversation here and there.

Good night everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentines Day!

Hope you had a wonderful Valentines Day!  We, of course, did the completely romantic thing of gathering in our group including sugared up children and had dinner together!  Filling in around that table there were 15 adults, 4 tween-agers, 2- two-year-olds 1 toddler and 2 babies.

The table was beautifully decorated with festive tablecloths, roses, and rose petals.  Dinner was also lovely, Seafood Enchiladas (featuring shrimp, lobster, and crab with a light cheese sauce), a chicken version of the enchiladas, Spanish Rice, Bread, Salad and for dessert, Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake, and the showcase: Baked Alaska with English Toffee and Chocolate Ganache ice cream in the center.

So is he going to come hang out with us this summer?

Yeah, sure! If you’re sure you want him.

Yep, they can keep each other company and quite frankly they are old enough to help me with chores and in the garden!

Perfect.

Hi.

Hello.

Oh, I’ll take her from ya.

She’s getting awful big!

Could you teach her to sleep though the night?

Oh, she isn’t old enough to do that yet!

She hasn’t been sleeping at night at all.

You’ll have that.

Where’s the baby?

She got snatched almost directly from the car seat.

Aren’t you tired of holding these?

Well my last one was never this little!

How are you doing?

Good.

Hey, how’d you get the baby?

She walked over here with empty arms!

Hello! I hear she is eight pounds now!

Yes she is.

Wow, what are you feeding that girl?

Oh you know, a healthy diet of protein, carbs and the souls of our enemies.

Ah… yes, that’s the winner.

Hi!  I really like her outfit!

Oh, thank you.  We aren’t really big princess fans, but the dress was soo soft!

Too cute.  We are major princess fans at our house.  You know, after watching Cinderella as many million times as we have, you start to realize, she really has quite a bit of spunk, I mean she was gonna beat the cat with a broom for messing up her floor.  I get that!

Wow, look at the table! It’s beautiful!

Where did all the flowers come from?

We bought them.

I brought the petals, the florist I make soap for gave me a bunch for a rose soap I am going to try.

So are you guys doing anything romantic for Valentines?

Well, I did shave my legs yesterday…..

Give me five.

Ok kids, do you want chicken or seafood enchiladas?

Chicken

Chicken

Chicken/Seafood. Both?

Seafood

Ok, come get your plates. You guys can start getting ready to eat.

What do you want?

Apple juice?  Milk? Rice?

You want some juice too?

Hit it girl!

Bless this house, Lord we pray, keep us safe by night and day. Amen!

Amen!

Are these the chicken or seafood?

Chicken.

Oh, I’ll wait for the seafood.

Here girls, how about you split the chicken.

I would totally be a stay at home dad.

We talked about that, he wouldn’t do it.  Even though it makes more sense at the moment.

So is working at your job more lucrative?

Well, yes and no.  At the moment, yes, I make more than he does, but long term no, there isn’t much place for me to really advance around here.

So do you have to have a degree?

Yes, I have a degree and license.  My degree is very similar to what your wife’s will be as a nurse.  Maybe even a little broader because as a LVT I am also the radiologist, the anesthesiologist and a multitude of other jobs that usually you don’t see nurses doing in human medicine.  I have to know all of it to pass my boards.

Did you ever think about working in human medicine?

No not really.

She doesn’t like people that much.

No, I don’t.

Did you ever want to be a veterinarian?

Yes, and actually I was accepted to program at MSU, but because of a couple silly, young reasons I didn’t go.  One was when the showed me the closet of a room I would be sharing with five other girls, I panicked and the other was I chose to stay home for a boy.

That happens a lot.

It does, I was young and it happens, but life moves on.

… And you hear Valkyrei playing in the back ground…

…laughing…

Did you hear that?

No, I am laughing at him siging Valkkrei back there.

Oh good.

Oh yeah, we spank.

We never have, different things for different parents.

Spanking is saved for really bad things, like if they are going to really hurt themselves or are hurting someone else.

We just use a pit of bugs.

Haha!

Yeah, we feed the bugs every so often so there stays a lot of them for when the kids are really bad.

Are you stealing her worm garden?

I just need to be better at saying no.  Can you show me how to do that again?

(Dad looks at me with exaggerated example) NO!

Just like that huh?

Yep, he does it just like that!

Do eagles hunt ducks?

Yes!

Did you tell them about the time we had the two eagles fly up into are yard and all the ducks plastered themselves against the house?

That was the story I was just telling them!

It was crazy!

We’ve been seeing more eagles around here.

We have quite a few sharp shins around the house right now.

Those were always my favorite, although every once in a while I would find one dead in the barn.

Yeah, I remember the one that had gotten its head stuck and was froze all spread out.

(Making faces at my now out stretched arms and flopped over head)

It was really sad, but kind of neat to see it, I am pretty sure we donated it to the Nature Center since it was so well preserved.

You know crows are some of the most intelligent birds?

Really?

You know, I’ve heard that.

They, other than humans are one of only a few species that uses tools and is able to pass learned information down between generations?

I watched a show where they said crows actually morn as a group.

I heard that too.

They did this study, where they gave the crows puzzles, there was a berry in a box and in order to get the berry out they had to use a tool, there was no way to just pull it straight out.  So the crows, took a straw and bent it, then were able to pull the berry out to eat.

That’s amazing.

I also saw another study, where they had people go into the crows habitat with scary masks and harass the crows.  They did it for several weeks.  Then, years later when there were new crows there, they went back into the woods with the same masks, and sure enough the new generation of crows recognized the masks as being trouble.

Its amazing how nature works.

In the documentary they also talked about how this girl fed the crows for years, and after a while they started to bring her gifts.  Some of them were gross of course, but still gifts for feeding them.

Not just cats bringing nasty gifts anymore!

I remember one summer we had red-wing black birds that were so aggressive with their territory that they knocked a girl off her bike near our drive way and she came running to the house to get away from them.

What?!?

Yeah, they are really that territorial.  They left us alone, because they recognized us, but new people were a problem.

By the way, I’ve been using your Jersey soap, and I’ve gotta say my hands were so cracked…

Yeah…..

And now they aren’t! I love it!

Oh good, I totally thought you were going the other way with that and I was going to have to go home and dump all of it.

No!!! It’s wonderful!

Good, because I know my hands are much happier since I’ve been using it.

So, I have a question for you since you’re selling on Etsy. Kind of a general question I guess.

Ok, shoot.

So, the furniture that people sell on Etsy, does that come pre-assembled?

Well that’s not a very general questions, pretty specific really.

I honestly have no idea.  But I do know my soaps come fully assembled!

Haha! Here’s the oil and the milk, and watch out for the lye, it can be kinda tricky!

You can always contact the seller on the website, I know people can email me.

So, are you still making your wood burnings and knives?

Yeah, I just haven’t gotten very far, I am not really sure what will sell.

Well, get some stuff together.  In August I think we should split a booth at the fair.  It wouldn’t be too bad with at least three of us there.

Good idea.

Hey! There you are! We were just talking about splitting a booth at the fair to sell our wares in.

Oh really? I don’t know if people would pay what I am asking there.

I bet you would be surprised.

Are you talking about the art fair?

No, the county fair, you don’t’ have to be accepted there, just have money.

Ah.

Wow, she is really enjoying that dessert.

Well, if you’ll notice they are both full of sugar and neither one is crying for a change.

(The one year old literally has her face smashed into the Baked Alaska and is covered in icecream)

They weren’t crying last week were they?

Oh yeah.

Hey! Be nice to the dog! He is old!

Be careful! If you hurt him he might bite!

Poor old dog.  (This is Blake, we have had him since a puppy and he is now 14 years old.  He is very good with the kids, but usually keeps out of the traffic since he has a bad back)

How old is he?

I don’t know 34?

OH COME ON! I’m 33!

Really?  You’re only a year older than me?

Ha ha.  Come on! I am not that old?

Well, you know you were driving WAAAY before me it seemed like.

Well, that’s cause I had to do something to get away.  I got tired of riding my bike to escape.

So are you milking your cow to capacity?

Not even close, but I am at my capacity until the weather gets better.  Right now I leave her calf on her, and separate them during the day so I only have to milk at night.  In the summer when its nice, and really the calf is plenty old now to be weaned, I will be able to milk twice a day.

Really the calf is getting the best of both worlds, plenty of grain and still all that good fatty milk.

Oh yea, and she looks it too the pork-chop.  She loves going to day care.

You send the calf to day care?

Well, I started calling it that because the cow is like a nursing mom who goes to work for the day and the calf goes to day care.  So I started calling it that when I would lock her up in her section of the barn.  Now when I go out there I say “time for day care!” and she goes running in.

That’s crazy!

Yep, but she is getting a little big for it now, going to have to find a bigger day care.

I think the girls are ready to go.

 

Happy Birthday, Pastor Josh!

Last week as you will recall had quite the crowd.  Among the new faces joining us, was the pastor from our church, along with his three children.  And even though the newest faces, less than a week old got the most attention, he had so much fun he decided to come back for his birthday.  Which of course means he got to choose what he wanted for his dinner this week.

In attendance, for the birthday feast, we had 2 itty bitty babies, 1 toddler, 2, 2-year-olds, 4 tweens and 12 adults.  On the menu was Lasagna, Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Asparagus, and a variation of White Bread (I didn’t catch exactly what kind).  Additionally Chef Neighbor brought Pork Tenderloin with a Mushroom Cream sauce.  For dessert, Carrot Cake.

Now, I would love to relate all of the conversation, because I know there were some good ones.  But to be honest, I can’t remember the details.  You see for the two days prior, my littles, who don’t sleep well as it is, had been keeping me up from 2:00 AM on.  The 2-year-old has been experiencing night terrors, which are so bad I can’t comfort her at all while she is having them.  Just about the time she finally relaxes and falls back to a restful sleep, the baby decides she is up for the day at 4:15 AM (who wouldn’t want to party then?)  They also don’t nap, not for any length of time anyway and certainly not together.  So, when we got home after dinner and they were both asleep, I did a swan dive directly into my pillow and stayed there until one of them started squawking in the night.

But, conversations around the table included talks about a city further north in Michigan, which had some common ties for a few people at the table, and a misadventure into a bar that oddly had ONLY men in it…

An update on the worm colony, they are doing well, but their habitat is in a constant state of upgrading and renovations still.  Which lead to some discussion about the benefits of composting for the non-plant grower, reduction of plastic wastes and the newer more decomposable plastic bags.

Our changing table is moving on to one of the new babies, which makes me happy since I have had it forever and wanted it to go to a good home.

Some very prettily decorated leather inspired conversation about going to craft shows as a group this summer (we actually have a lot of home- grown talent at this table!)

And somehow, the formerly elusive birthday candles, of which there have only ever been three on a dessert somehow not only became 4 but were also shaped like stars!

That is about all my poor sleep deprived brain could remember of dinner.  It was delicious, and I along with others ate far more than necessary, but everyone splurges once in a while right?

I leave you with pictures: