Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mushroom Appetizer Pies & A Totally Devoured in one sitting Dinner Pie

In honor of the fourth day of Christmas I made Mushroom Appetizer pies. I couldn't find a recipe I really liked, so I combined ideas from a recipe for Mushroom Turnovers on with a copycat "Mushroom Pies from Trader Joes" recipe to create my own. The result: delicious!

Chop one onion and 8 oz of mushrooms. I used mini portobellos.

Saute the onion until soft and tender in 3 Tbls of butter. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender.
Stir in 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp Thyme (depending on how much you like Thyme, I used 1/4), and 1/3 c sour cream (I think it'd work well to use more if you prefer it creamier).
Cook until thickened and remove from heat.

Roll dough 1/8" thick and divide into small, appetizer-sized circles using a very small biscuit cutter. Arrange on baking sheet. Fill with a tablespoon of the filling and top this with grated parmesan cheese. Brush the edges with some egg/milk mixture (1 egg beaten with a tsp of cream) and press another circle of dough over the top. Press the edges together to seal.

Brush the tops of the pies with some of the egg/milk mixture so it bakes to a lovely golden. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

I served the mushroom appetizer pies with potato cheese soup.

Potato Cheese Soup by Connie
6-8 potatoes
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 med onion, diced
chicken broth, enough to cover
1 cube butter
1 block cream cheese
1-2 c cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Add vegetables to stock pot with enough chicken broth to cover. Bring to a boil and cover, cook until vegetables are soft. Mash well. Add dairy products a bit at a time, stirring until incorporated into the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste

Day Five: Cheesy Burrito Pie
Now this was a huge hit. There was hardly anything left. The recipe is found on Burrito Pie. It was easy to make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it until it was time for supper. Then I assembled the layers and baked.

My son loved it

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pies for a Merry Christmastide

Brie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, tore apart the new toy Dad and Jenica gave her for Christmas, mere seconds after Jenica pulled it out of the bag. Now the stuffingless faux-lambswool "doll" is her favorite rag to toss around. Merry Christmas, Brie!

This Christmas I'm having fun baking a pie a day- or so the plan goes. Day 2 is a success. Here's what I've made so far.

Day 1- Natchitoches Meat Pies.

I narrowed the recipes down to two. Recipe one was by Emeril. Turning away from his due to his more Cajun influence, I chose to use the recipe from the Natchitoches, LA town website. After all, I reasoned, a town would put the best recipe they knew online to represent their town.

I made a dough and rolled it "thin" as the recipe directed. Apparently it wasn't thin enough. But I didn't know this until much later!

Using a saucer I made circles which were cut out to form individual meat pies.

These pies were filled with a little over a tablespoonful of meat mixture. It had ground beef, ground sausage, a large onion, full head of garlic, and bell peppers. MMMMM!

Folded over.

Frying the pies. I also tried to bake them. Healthier. You know. Quickly I discovered that baking just didn't cut it. There's a reason the meat pies are supposed to be fried. My compromise was to use vegetable oil instead of shortening.

Leftover meat pies. They were *very* tasty. What would I do differently next time? Well, I think I would use 1/2 or 2/3 of the required meat. I think there was a little too much meat compared to the vegetables. I *tasted meat*. Yes, they are meat pies. I know that! But I believe a little more balance is required to the flavors. Perhaps that's why Emeril added so many extra seasonings to his recipe. Overall they were quite flavorful and yes, I believe I would make them again in the future.

Day 2. Pizza Pie!

Tonight, Sunday, Day 2 of Christmas. (You DO realize that whatever the retail industry says the 12 days of Christmas are Christmas Day and the 11 following days that lead up to Epiphany on January 6, which is the celebration of the Magi arriving to worship the Christ Child, right?)

We made pizza! Oh, was it ever tasty. Made the pizza crust, my mom's traditional recipe which comes from Julia Child's The Way to Cook. Basically, take 1 package yeast (room temp), proof with 1/2 c lukewarm water and a splash of sugar, then add some milk (about 1/2 c or a little more if necessary). Meanwhile mix the dry ingredients: 3 c flour, 1 tsp salt. Mix together, add a couple tbls olive oil, let rise for an hour or so.

As Mom was out of sauce I had to make some. Mixed a tiny can of tomato paste, 15 oz can of tomato sauce, some oregano, pepper, garlic powder, paprika. Rolled out the dough, spread the sauce across through to the edge, then a layer of cheeses in the center. A thin layer of colby/jack followed by a thick layer of mozzarella, pepperoni, olives, green onions, some pepper.Roll the crust with a little mozzarella inside and  brush the edge of the crust with melted butter. Sprinkle a little Parmesan on the top, all over the pizza allowing a little to land on the buttered crust. Here's the result!

Merry Second Day of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Pies of Christmas

My mom and I were discussing this year's Christmas plans and came up with what we think will be a fun little project. Each day of Christmas we're going to bake a different pie. Some days will feature a sweet pie. Other pies will be savory. 12 pies in all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Flying with a 21 month old

Flying with a 21 month old wasn't bad at all. Security was about the same as ever too. The airport I flew out of did have the new scanners. However, they didn't ask us to go through them or receive a pat down; we simply walked through the metal detector as usual. In fact, when they motioned me to a checkpoint I was the only person in that lane! As with my past experience at this airport the TSA agents were very helpful. The gentleman on the one side of the checkpoint helped me put my items on the belt as I put them in boxes. Theodore very obediently stood there with me as I unloaded everything. Although I did forget to take my laptop out of my bag (totally forgot I'd packed it!) and it had to be re-scanned, the agents were very friendly and nice about it. Several female agents with nothing to do (we went through at a slow time) chatted in a friendly fashion with my 21 month old as we waited for my laptop to be returned and loaded everything back up. As usual too they helped me re-collect my belongings. Nashville is a very good airport to fly through if you have a toddler or a baby.

I can't say enough how much I recommend Frontier Airlines. I love their service. The cabin is very clean, and it feels a little more roomy. Blue leather seats. I find the flight attendants very attentive, polite, and helpful. The stretch seating option is very cheap, luggage is free or very cheap, and they *give* out fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Yes, fresh baked. They bake them on the flight. Oooh, they're so warm and gooey and tasty! There's also DirecTV on board. It's $6 with the cheapest ticket option, but if you call DirecTV within 48 hours they give you a complete refund. With the other ticket options the DirecTV is included in the price.

Theodore did very well on the two flights. He didn't nap at all. He did catnap as we landed in Denver, but that was 5 minutes or less. Hardly counts. Yet despite that, he wasn't fussy. It made me enjoy my flight pretty well. On the second leg he did complain "mine, mine, mine" when he wanted my drink rather than his. It was very brief as I stopped him by the third "mine" and re-directed him to his, but an old man turned around and snapped "Can't you keep that $@&! kid quiet?!" which really upset me. I was tired. I thought of asking a stewardess if we could change seats and so not risk bothering him with Theodore's chatter (it had several empty seats). Decided to wait and see how things went, and although he chatted to me a bit on the rest of the flight that was the only time he actually whined and the old man complained. In fact, he was very happy on that flight, chattering about seeing "Brie" (my parents' dog).

Of course, it helped that I brought special travel toys with us. These included Lauri Toddler Toys Tote I bought at Toys to Treasure, Plan Toys Car with Person I bought at Little Ants a year ago, a Playmobil Propeller Plane, and a travel size AquaDoodle. Each of those kept him quietly entertained and some will last longer than others. Perhaps I'll tell you my experience/thoughts of some of them in another post...As we prepared to de-plane one flight attendant praised him for being "exceptionally well-behaved". That's what a mom needs to hear after having an old man snap and swear at you and your toddler!!! :(

We sat next to a charming young grandmother on the first flight. She slept half the flight and the rest of the flight she entertained Theodore for me. Her granddaughter is only a couple months old than Theodore. She had an ipad with her and showed Theodore some of the applications. Being a piano teacher she tried to get him to copy some notes on the keyboard application. He was far more interested in the application where you touch the screen and it creates stars, circles, etc that are colorful and repeatedly follow the path you finger just took. It did look very cool. I really appreciated having such a charming and friendly woman sitting next to us. Whoever she is, I wish her the best!

We're enjoying being with family and look forward to my husband joining us out here soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


So I've cooked my way around the world. That was a fun experience. Looking forward to doing it again. Right now I'm cooking my way through "More With Less Cookbook". I have another fun cooking idea. I should cook through the favorite recipes of friends. Hm...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just one week...

Just one week from now and I'll be taking my little one to see his aunt, grandparents, and good friends! Plus his favorite dogs. He talks about "Brrr-ee" every single day. I hope the trip with go smoothly.  A friend and my sister are picking us up at the airport when we arrive.

I think I've almost finished Christmas shopping. There are a couple things I need to pick up when I get to my parents' house. Beyond that, I'm done. Did some in early November, some on "Black Friday", and some since then. Due to a couple finds at Once Upon a Child my plan for Theodore's Christmas gifts totally changed. I had planned on a few Montessori gifts and some German story books. Instead, he's getting a set of 40 Lego duplos I found for $6  (new condition in box) and some train tracks, an engine, and a few cars. I bought some curves to go with the tracks I found at the used store, my grandfather-in-law, father-in-law, and husband got together and made the longest straight tracks I've ever seen, and I think I'm probably going to pick up one switch track at Toys to Treasure before I head out. I went to Little Ants and found a cute Plan Toys engine. Mother-in-law and I went to Toys R Us and picked up "Troublesome Trucks" and a caboose to finish off the train. My husband and I, talking it over, decided that every Christmas we'll get a couple items to add to the train set. Will be address to "Burkes Family Children" and unlike some items he receives will be for him and any other children we may be blessed with in the future. I'm excited!

I've spent yesterday and today cleaning, my room and then I scrubbed down the kitchen today. Next week I'll be getting together with a couple friends. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Missing: Days when I could make a little extra cash by babysitting. "Having a child changes everything"- including your ability to babysit for pocket money. Oh well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Busy busy week for me! Feels like two weeks rather than one. It's been great!

It started with Megan coming to visit from Indy. Soon as she left I ran some loads of laundry, did a tiny bit of Christmas shopping, packed up the car, and drove to my in-laws' house. The entire trip over there Theodore kept calling out over and over again "Nana! Bike! Nana! Bike! Go Nana!" Not that he was excited or anything. He loves his Nana! The bike he was referring to is a tricycle in her garage.

When we got to the house it was already dark. The next day was rainy, although he did manage a short stint on the trike when we got a few house of crystal-clear sky in the late afternoon. Most of the day was busy with some baking and a little consignment-shopping. My contribution was small, just some nice, moist banana sour cream bread. Yum!

Sean didn't come over until Thanksgiving Day, arriving a few minutes before we headed over to my MIL's sister's house for dinner 1. For some reason I still just don't feel comfortable over there yet. Perhaps I never will. Dinner ended just as it was naptime so we left and took him back to Granpop and Nana's house. Soon as nap was over, time to go! We were once again off, to dinner 2 at the house of my FIL's sister. Food at the first dinner is not nearly as tasty as food at the second, well worth just nibbling at the first dinner. Thanks to my aunt's advice on handling two thanksgiving dinners within a few hours of each other I've learned how to balance the two dinners and come away from both without feeling overfull, stuffed, or anything other than satisfied. Thank you Aunt B (you know who you are)!

There was a newer face at  Thanksgiving dinner #2 as my husband's cousin brought someone else into the family this year. She was saying at dinner her "other half" was finding it awkward coming, and she didn't understand it. I did. Figuring out the family dynamics- especially that family's dynamics- is a bit tricky. Once you discover them, though, it's smooth sailing. In the end you could hardly ask for a nicer set of in-laws. Just have to figure them out first!!!

Next day, Black Friday. Never did it prior to marrying in to this family. Always do it now. Why? Because it's their family tradition. The women in the family meet after breakfast (no 5am shopping) and look at the sales. At dinner the day before lists are passed around. Names are drawn. Individuals are responsible for: all the kids (everyone is required to get all the kids their own gift, though right now that means 3 kids), members of their immediate family (parents, spouse), and whichever adult (18+) name you draw out of the bowl. Newspapers are strewn over the table, stores selected. Time to shop!

Yesterday we left my little guy with his papa and grandpop. Got quite a bit of shopping done too. It was fascinating to observe the different shopping styles of the women! Very different. "Holler if you see something you like" "This, check. That, check." "oooh, how pretty! (*buy*)" "maybe I can get ideas and then shop later"  were each represented. Stashes grew (or didn't grow) accordingly. The time passed rapidly. MIL and I left early though, much sooner than the rest of the family. We had someone at home waiting for us. Today we went out again to different stores, and this time took T with us. T even napped while we were out so we didn't have to stop and take him home! Loved it! Once we finished we hurried home. I'm very satisfied with my success, my list is pretty close to done. Before the sun set we managed to take a family photo outside as well. Looking forward to seeing how it turned out. Hope we don't have to re-take it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Did you know?

Yesterday was Diaper Day. Diaper Day is the day which I wash. Yes, wash. I use cloth. And despite what you may think it's not a lot of work. That is, if you buy enough diapers. If you do not buy enough (like a couple dozen or more) it will seem like extra work. With a sufficient stash it's much less of a hassle than having to run down to the store when you run out of diapers. I'm not a laundry fiend. Ask my husband and you'll learn I hate laundry. I hate laundry but don't find diapers that are washable and reusable a burden.

When he wets a diaper, it goes in the pail. When he messes a diaper, the mess is flicked into the toilet and flushed. When I use sposies for travel I do the same thanks to reading this on a package of Pampers. "Waste removal

To wash, I turn the pail upside down

...and there they are, in the machine to be washed. Turn the water to cold, do a cold wash without detergent. Then I run a hot wash, with a couple tablespoons of Allen's Naturally. Then I do another hot wash with a cold rinse. The cost of running all this water to buying Pampers or Earth's Best? Truly negligible. 

Because of all these washes the entire machine is totally sanitized as are the diapers. If you still feel anxious you could always run another rinse after removing the diapers with vinegar, but really, it's sanitary at this point.  Then you can air-dry or toss in the dryer. Each diaper comes with directions, just follow them!

As for preparing diapers for use, here's the ins and outs of 4 brands: Fuzzi Bunz, BumGenius, Flips, and gDiapers.

^This is a Bum Genius with "hook & loop" closure. IE velcro. The snaps are called rises. Because this is a one-size diaper the rises fit the child at different stages. The further down you snap the small the diaper. It fits down to 8-10lbs and up to 35 lbs.

Inside of a diaper, the part that touches your baby's little bottom. See how soft it looks? Also how normal that looks? Those tabs, as you'll see, work like the sticky tabs on any kind of diaper. Watch!

^I just pull those tabs shut, the same way you do on a disposable. 

Inside a diaper of this sort is an insert. This is what absorbs everything and wicks it away from your baby's skin. You see it is adjustable too, depending on how big the diaper cover is.

^In a pocket diaper like BumGenius, you stuff one or two inserts into a pocket in the diaper. The fabric next to your baby's skin stays dry. That dryness combined with a lack of harsh chemicals keeps rash away!

Closer look at the adjustable snaps.

They are simple to adjust. Just snap in place.

Easy to fasten! Just pull closed like any hook-and-loop closure.

There's the diaper, on its biggest setting.

Close up of the pocket.

That wasn't too bad, was it now? Bum Genius comes in a variety of colors and an artist series of prints. You can cloth diaper for around $400 from start to potty training with Bum Genius. 

Next up, Fuzzi Bunz.

Fuzzi Bunz diapers are terrific. They come in one-size like the Bum Genius or sized. The advantage of sized is you get a snugger, trimmer fit than a one-size diaper. The disadvantage is it costs more than a one-size diaper. Fuzzi Bunz come in x-small (newborn fits 4-12 lbs), small (fits 7-18 lbs), medium (fits 15-30 lbs), and large (fits 25-45+ lbs) diapers. They are lined in fuzzy fleece which is so very soft and snuggly and really very effective at keeping all diaper rash away! 
Like BumGenius they are pocket diapers with inserts that wick the moisture away from the skin. There's the spot for the insert. These are large diapers I'm demonstrating. Theodore is at the smallest setting of these diapers. He wears them at night.

OOOOH! So soft and snuggly!

Snaps mean no snagging, tighter snugger fit that's more adjustable to your LO's size. They are very different from disposables this way though.
Pull the tab over to the snap you want and push the snap together to fasten. This top snap adjusts the waist band.

Do the same with the bottom snap. This bottom snap adjusts the leg gusset so nothing leaks out the sides!

Repeat with the 2nd side.

Inserts go in just like with other pockets. FB inserts are softer than the BG inserts.

There's a fastened diaper! Fuzzi Bunz come in a wide variety of colors. One-size is around $400 birth to potty training. Perfect size will be about double that. Still much cheaper than disposables.

gDiapers rock. They are hyrbids and easy to find at Babies R Us or a local health food store. 

They are hook & loop closures.  But they fasten in the back instead of the front, perfect if your LO likes to undo the diaper!

This is the back of the diaper.

Pull apart to open.

Front of a gDiaper.

Snap-in liners means you can remove the insert and if it's messy just remove the liner and reuse the cover!

gDiaper with a flushable insert. Yes, FLUSHABLE. They are biodegradable so it doesn't take 500 years to break down. You can also toss them in the trash if you want without worrying about all that!

Tuck the inserts into the liner

And on the other side...

A stuffed gDiaper! Forms a sort of cup-like shape.

gDiaper before a liner is snapped on.

This is what the liner looks like, unsnapped.

Simply match the tabs and snap in place.

You can use cloth inserts, too. 

gDiaper, filled. It holds a lot.

Collection of FuzziBunz

This is another kind of hybrid diaper, called a Flip. You see it has flaps rather than snap-in liners.

Front flap

One-size unlike the gDiaper, so snap to adjust.

A Flip, snapped together shut but not filled.

The back of a Flip.

I can open it with one hand.

A Flip reusable cloth insert, one-size. This side touches your baby's or toddler's skin, it's smooth.

Putting the ends of the insert under the flaps of the Flip.

Fully stuffed.

A disposable insert for the hyrbid diaper Flip. These inserts are cheaper and softer than the gDiapers, but can't be flushed.

This is the old style disposable insert, the newer styles are wider. 

Flip hyrbid diapers. They would cost about $200 from birth through potty training (not including any disposable inserts you buy, which cost about $4 for 18.