Friday, April 13, 2012

Starting the day with DIVA!

My day started with Diva
Yeah, she's only 8
Told her to get dressed or we would be late

"What should I wear?"
I said to look nice
Your brand new skirt
the one I put away twice

"I cannot find it!"
She said, with a head shake and whine
I'm losing my patience with this child of mine

She comes down the stairs
with the skirt in plain sight
Why is life with Diva always a fight?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Season~coming to an end!

This was a week of letting go and trusting in what was in front of me...and that was my girls.

Irish dance performances are exciting and exhausting at the same time.  It is a lot of rushing and wondering if you will make it to the next show on time, but somehow we always do!

The girls had a total of 9 shows in 4 days and we have one more left.  The girls always find the energy to dance their performance piece just one more time.  Our longest day, which was yesterday, measured a total of 13 hours from start to finish.  Keeping 2 sisters, who have been with each other all day, happy isn't always easy.  I had to remind them to please be nice to one another and also remind them that EVERYONE is tired.  But to make it a little fun, it became our our "YES" day!

What does that mean?  I said "YES" to practically everything.  We had powdered donuts for breakfast, snacks in the car, candy hidden in my bag which we shared, we ordered rootbeer floats with our lunch, and they didn't have to take showers when they got home.

The girls thought it was pretty cool until they tried to push it into today!  Today, some "no's" were said, only because you can't eat fruit snacks for every meal and you eventually have to shower.

Today, even with only 3 shows, it seemed more exhausting than yesterday.  Most of us were tired before we even started performing, so during our break today the girls were treated at Build-A-Bear for how great they have been this entire week of shows!  The employees tried to get a dance out of the girls, but they weren't budging.  Yes, they perform in front of hundreds of people, yet they wouldn't dance for 4.  Once again, we are all tired.

Then pulling into our second show of the day, my 5 year old daughter says, "I don't want to do Irish dancing anymore, I am tired of putting on the wig, it hurts my head!"  Yet she tells me how she can't wait to get back to class on Tuesday!

Performing is always a positive experience for my kids.  I try to sit back and let go.  Putting trust in my girls to make the right choices when I am not around.  They look forward to each performance because they have a chance to make new friends, share their talent with others and spend time with kids who enjoy the same things they do.  In between shows they color and do crafts and laugh with one another, but best of all they gain confidence in themselves. They work together as a team to dance their performance piece and this group which they perform with becomes a second family for St. Patrick's Day week.  The bond they create with the friends on their team becomes a friendship that will last a forever.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Wee Bit O'Irish...Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread

In a large mixing bowl combine:

4 cups all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 C. raisins
2 C. buttermilk

I used my kitchen aide with the dough hook attachment, but you can also mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
Combine all dry ingredients, including raisins and slowly add the buttermilk.  Mix well.  Dough will be sticky.  Spoon onto a parchment lined pan, I buttered the paper.  Tuck in raisins.  Pat into an oblong form.  Place in center of oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes~until golden brown.

You can spread some butter on top after it has come out of the oven for a shiny appearance and buttery flavor.

Note: The above recipe has been doubled to make the loaf above.  You can cut the recipe in half if you would like to make a smaller loaf to share with your friends!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feeling Green Yet?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

We started our St. Patrick's Day Celebration on Saturday with the Elmhurst Parade!

This was the beginning of our St. Patrick's Day Season!  You may know already, but my daughter's are Irish Dancers, and this week they will be performing with the rest of their Trinity Performance Troupe.  Whether we are at Assisted Living Facilities, Schools or Pubs the guests are always guaranteed to get a 
Superior St. Patrick's Day show. 
And who wouldn't smile at these girls!

Well, this is just the beginning of our Green Week.  I have promised you COOKIES!

I will tell you that I love to bake, and I feel I always need to have a perfect product in the end. So I searched and searched for the perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe and all fingers  pointed to The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, not only does she create fabulous cookies, she is "Sweet" enough to share her Recipes!

I used this one:

1 c. (2 sticks) of REAL unsalted BUTTER, softened
1 1 /2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 egg
2-3 tsp flavoring (pick what you like, I used almond extract the first time and mixed almond and vanilla the next time I used this recipe)
2 1/2-2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream together softened butter and confectioner's sugar.  Crack the egg into a separate bowl, and add the flavoring.  (see Sugarbelle's site above for exact content including pictures).  Add that to the butter sugar mixture and mix until the egg is thoroughly mixed.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add little by little to the mixture.

I added green food coloring, but may opt against it next time.
When using green icing they look great no matter what color the dough is.
Roll out on parchment paper (This is the BEST TIP I have ever gotten in all the years I have baked) to about 1/4 inch thick, use flour for dusting as necessary.  Then cut and bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes.  This recipe will yield 2 - 2 1/2 dozen.  I have always doubled the recipe.

The above photos are of my 2nd attempt at these delicious bakery quality cookies.

This is what my kitchen counter looks like after I bake carefully!

I didn't take pictures of my first attempt over Valentines day, because it began with confectioner's sugar, all over my counter, floor and me!  Naughty words were said, a feeling of defeat was had, and then my hubby made me laugh.  I then felt that it is important to accept my failures, take pictures and learn from my experiences, because that is what I am trying to share with my blog.

I tried to save as much of the sugar as possible and estimated what I had lost.  Guess what?  The recipe still turned out great! I believe this IS a NO FAIL recipe!
Time to enjoy the cookies!  Yep, that milk has been touched by a Leprechaun!

Thank you to some great bakers out there that are Sweet enough to share their perfection with others!  Hugs go out to The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle for making me a Supermom? That's Me! Baker!

Monday, March 12, 2012

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

By Jennifer McCarte
Written for my Favorite Little Boy

“Good morning mommy, can we go downstairs to play?”
Sure my son, what should we do today?

Would you like to be a dragon?   One who breathes fire?
How about a circus performer on the high wire?
Should we put on makeup and you could be a clown?
Or dance round in circles until we fall down?
Should we hunt for a treasure? Pirates we’ll be?

 “Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

Do you want to build a tent and pretend there are bears?
Make-believe we are climbing a mountain of stairs?
Run outside in the rain with our umbrellas up high?
Or fly a kite way up in the sky?
Should we watch the trains? Conductors we’ll be?

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

Should we pretend we’re at the beach, in the sand we can play?
Do you want to paint pictures with our fingers today?
We could go to the park and swing in the sun?
Or slide down the slides, now that would be fun?
Should we build with blocks? Construction workers we’ll be?

“Mommy, will you play cars with me?”

What do you want to do?
“Mommy, Guess.”
You want to play cars?
“Mommy, YES!!!”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Good Day!

by Jennifer McCarte

Me, the kids and Great-Grandma on her 89th Birthday!

Today was a good day because I woke up with a smile
I shared it with all, because that is my style, 
It was a good day because the kids didn't fight 
Over what was served for breakfast, they just said, "Alright!"
They got ready for school with more time to spare,
My son picked out candy for his sisters to share.
Today was a good day, a lot of laughter was had, 
Everyone behaved, and no one was bad?
It was a good day because I didn't hear myself yelling, 
There was NO screaming and no tattle-telling?
Today was a good day, I would say just fine, 
We celebrated a birthday, my Grandma's 89. 
It was a good day because we had pizza and cake, 
I didn't cook dinner, nor did I bake.
Today was a good day because I started it right, 
With hugs in the morning and hugs in the night.
A smile on my face from dusk until dawn,
And with a smile like that, where would your day go wrong?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Face your Fears Alone...Face them with Friends!

This weekend I had the opportunity to do something that I normally wouldn't do.  I took a chance and faced my fears and climbed a rock wall!  

Although I have wanted to try this for many years, I wasn't sure if I could do it!  Would the fear of heights overcome my body and leave me shaken with fear, or would I cry half way up and need someone to physically pull me down?  I didn't know the outcome when I walked up to that wall for the first time.  I knew I had the physical strength to do it, but mentally could I?

It was very easy for me to cheer on my girlfriends, and give them step by step instruction of where to place their foot when they didn't know where to go next, or the encouragement they needed to take one step higher to ring the bell at the top of the wall.

But when it came to my turn, all I could say to myself was, "You can do this!" I took a deep breath, wiped my sweat-filled hands on my pants and started to climb.  I felt confident that I had the strength to make it to the top, then about half way up, I stopped .  Ummm...yes, it was high, yes the grips were getting harder to reach and my hands were sweating more than before.  Once I stopped, I started thinking, maybe this is as far as I can make it, maybe it is time for me to come down, maybe I am not ready to conquer my fear!  But before I knew it, I heard this voice, "You can do it Jen, take a deep breath and think...Spiderman!"  Then another, "You got it Jen, you are more than half way!" Then with a deep breath and the encouragement of my friends, I took another step closer to ringing that bell, until I did!

OMG!!! What a feeling of accomplishment!  I was still sweating and now shaking, but I DID IT!!!  (and it is on video!)

I climbed 2 more times, each on a different wall progressively more difficult.  I was proud of myself, of my strength both physically and mentally, but even more of my friends.  Without them I would have quit!  I needed them, because they believed in me, and with their encouragement I faced one of my greatest fears!

With friends anything is possible!  

Oh yeah, and when I replay the video my hands still sweat!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Galumpki and Fried Rice, an unlikely couple!

I am the type of person that needs everything to turn out perfectly....the first time, so finding recipes to make the dinners I wanted MY WAY was found to be a difficult task.  So much that my Cabbage Roll dinner ended up being Pasta with meat sauce just so I could give myself another day to find a "perfect" recipe. However, I have learned over my past 2 dinners that, sometimes you have to adapt, compromise and just let go.  It all turns out pretty tasty in the end.

Last week I promised my Cabbage Roll Recipe (Galumpkis), another favorite thanks to Mom.  You really can't make these wrong.  I have done it in the crockpot, in the pressure cooker and in the oven.  My favorite recipe is in the oven, its the only place I can make them where they don't burn! LOL!

(Yes, this recipe is one of my tasty compromises.)

1-2 cans of condensed tomato soup
1 head of green cabbage
2 lbs of extra lean ground beef (sirloin)
1 medium onion (I like to use onion powder)
3/4 cup of instant cooked rice
1 TBS Worcestershire
1 egg
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Boil cabbage for a few minutes to help loosen leaves.
In a large bowl, combine by hand, ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, rice, Worcestershire and egg.
You can also add 2 TBS of the tomato soup.
Make large meat balls with the mixture and place on top of a cabbage leaf.  Roll by tucking sides and place in baking dish with a cover.  Continue until all meat mixture has been rolled in cabbage.  Cover.  Place in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Serve alone or with mashed potatoes and green beans.  Enjoy!

Next, tonight's simple dinner was part home made and part frozen.  That would be Egg Fried Rice.

2 cups of uncooked rice (cooked and cooled) approximately 4 cups cooked.
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional) and 1 TBS vegetable oil
1 medium carrot shredded
2-3 green onions (tip: use kitchen scissors to cut these quickly)
1 clove of garlic pressed (use more for more flavor)
Frozen green beans (1-2 handfuls)
1 egg
3 TBS Soy Sauce

Heat oils in wok or heavy frying pan, add green onion, carrots, garlic and green beans.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on medium high heat, add cooked rice, stir, add soy sauce, stir constantly while cooking for 3-4 minutes until rice starts to brown and soak in the soy sauce.  Scramble egg in a small bowl.  Push all rice to the sides of the pan, leaving an open space in the middle of the pan, drizzle a little vegetable oil.  Add egg and cook while scrambling.  Once egg is cooked mix into the rice.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve with Market Day Mini Egg Rolls and chopsticks.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Rules?

I am sure there are many parents who have the power struggle of dinner time.  For years I have let my kids dictate what we will eat for dinner.  And it generally it revolves around Pizza, McDonald's, cereal, boiled chicken or buttered noodles. 

Yes, eating out has taken a toll on our pocket book, not including our waistline, but it seems so easy to just let everyone order what they like. 

For a while, I have just chosen not to cook, just because all of my effforts are discarded once the dinner reaches the table.  When you take the time to make a warm healthy meal and place it on the table for the kids to say, "I'm not eating THAT!" is hurtful, and it bothers me how much food is wasted.

Well, a part of my New Year's Resolution of Cooking More and Eating Out Less, I have also included, "This is all you are getting, so eat it or be hungry!"  Mind you I am not making anything that is disgusting or inedible.  I am also placing alternate options on the table, such as raw veggies (since my kids don't like them cooked), and usually some sort of bread.

Although, I am only 2 days into my eat it or be hungry, I am going to stick with it and see if I can broaden my children's sense of Food Adventure.

I will keep everyone posted as I continue on this Cooking Journey, and will share recipes that I think others will enjoy, tomorrow Cabbage Rolls!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Learning to Cook from my Mom!

There are always those meals that you remember your mom cooking more than once when you were young.  These are the meals that you want to make for your family too!  So as a part of my 2012 Goal of Cooking More and Eating Out Less, I am resorting to family favorites to start out my year right!

I am also happy to share what I can here, so maybe you can find your family a favorite too!

My first Home Cooked Meal of 2012 was Chicken Soup and Kluski (Polish Dumplings):

The Soup was as simple as putting a whole chicken, water and vegetables and spices into a pot and letting it simmer for a couple hours, which left the chicken falling off of the bone!  (To which I am using for Chicken a la King for tonight's dinner.)

How to make Kluski:

 1 /2 bag Flour (approx. 5 1/2-6 cups)
1 teaspon Salt (can add additional salt afterwards to taste)
1 TBS Baking Powder
 2 Eggs
Milk (enough to make dough tacky/sticky)


Boil water in a Large Pot.

Combine all ingredients and stir in enough milk, to make mixture tacky/sticky. 
I use a fork to stir the ingredients together, but a wooden spoon will work too.

Once all ingredients are combined to a sticky texture and your pot of water is boiling, you can start dropping the mixture into the boiling water by tablespoons or teaspoons if you would like smaller dumplings.

You may have to stir the dumplings inbetween dropping them into the water.  They will begin to float, but keep dropping your mixture until you have used all of it. 

Continue boiling, give your dumplings a stir and start timing for 10-15 minutes or so based on the size of dumplings you are making.  Continue frequently stiring your dumplings or they will boil over.

Strain and rinse.  Put in your favorite soup!
(I love to munch on these with just a little salt to taste on top!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!!!

Happy New Year!  I am really looking forward to great things happening in 2012!

I have already started making mental lists of what I want to accomplish.  Would I call them resolutions?  Not so sure!  But for now, I am going to make the biggest committment to enjoy time with my family!

I think a goal of growing closer to each one of my kids and my husband would be the greatest resolution of all!  I purchased, The "I LIKE BOOK" ( for each one of my kids and I am going to start each one tonight at bedtime.  I hope the kids find it a memorable book to show them how much each one of them mean to me and my husband.  I so wish I picked up the couples book too!

I am also challenging myself to COOK!  Something I don't dislike doing, but it is so easy to eat out, and when you eat out, everyone gets what they like!  I started my challenge yesterday at the grocery store, by picking out healthy meal options and I even started my meal planning and made Chicken Soup from scratch today!  I have the leftover chicken cut up and ready to turn into Chicken a la king and we will have Cabbage Rolls later in the week. 

I encourage you to join me as I start posting recipes, organizing tips and how to get through your day like a Supermom!  What do you want to learn? do? or accomplish in 2012?