Once again, Joshua rescues me with his grill...

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Joshua took Yehoshua grocery shopping for me. They were gone for 2 1/2 hours! It was a nice quiet and relaxing time for Eliyahu and me. When they got back, we put away groceries and Yehoshua was asking (yes, asking!) to go to his bed for a nap. Recently he has been deciding that he actually likes to take a nap when he's tired! A little strange for him, but I won't complain. ;)

Yehoshua's nap was 3 hours and 15 minutes long!! That has to be a record. I got a few things done but I also took a nap myself! I think that's how I had the energy to start mowing the lawn at 9 pm. ;) I'm glad the mowing is done, though. I love doing it (it's such good exercise!) but seem to have difficulty finding a chunk of time for it.

Tomorrow is laundry and cleaning day. Actually, just about every nice day (execpt Sabbath) is laundry day, because I wash diapers 3-4 times per week, plus our normal laundry. In the evening we're going to visit my parents. My mom called tonight and invited us for dinner. Yay! Now I won't have to cook! It will be a relaxing evening, I hope... the perfect way to start sabbath :). I'll have to remember to take my camera along, since my mom is a good cook, so I can post about what she made. ;)

Joshua took this picture of Eliyahu this evening. I love my little baby Eliyahu! He is so precious. He's really starting to be his own little person; he laughs and gets excited when he sees a toy, or when I say, "Eliyahu! Do you want some mama's milk?" He's such a good-natured little fellow, chubby, happy, and smiley. 

Eliyahu, almost 6 months old!

The day is ahead of me...

So, I think today will be my day for straightening up the house and doing a little cooking. What I will cook, I haven't yet decided. You'd think that with my menus and array of recipes, I wouldn't ever have trouble deciding what to make, but, I guess I'm human and not knowing adds some spice to life :D.

I'm really glad Joshua went to get groceries, though, because we were running out of a lot of things! Milk, eggs, bread, lunchmeat, fresh veggies or fruit, etc. Maybe when he gets back, I'll see all the groceries and think of all the things I have wanted to make but couldn't. :) I did whip up this egg noodle side dish last night since I still had a few carrots, part of an onion, and some leftover snow peas. It was so yummy!! I love fried noodles.

This morning was still nice and cool when I got up at 6:45 for walking. I really enjoy getting out on walks, even though I hate to leave for a walk when the house is disorderly (which it usually is somewhat except right before bed!). I guess I am learning (hopefully) to relax a little more and enjoy the quiet times without just thinking of "everything" that "needs" done.

Well, I guess I'll go make a new poll and then take a shower and get ready for when Joshua gets back. Hopefully I'll come up with something to make for dinner that's worth posting about later :D

Joshua's Grill Tames 4th of July Chicken Breast

Ok, so you have some chicken breast and are not quite sure what to do with it. In my opinion chicken can be very, very bland when not cooked correctly--and worse yet it can end up tough and dry. YUCK! So here are some of my tactics for dealing with chicken.

1. Cooking time and temperature are key. The key to tender, juicy chicken is to be careful not to overcook it. Easier said than done, but it is very important to work with your grill to get the right balance of direct heat and ambient temperature. If the direct heat is too high you will burn the outside before the inside reaches an appropriate temperature. Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breast, but with my grill 8-12 minutes on medium direct heat works great. I constantly worry about getting raw chicken, but I have found that I need to trust the grill and not overcooking the meat has great results that are tender and juicy. In general: keep the grill heat under control to encourage even cooking and don't overcook. This is the difference between a tasty chicken breast and getting the, "Can we call for pizza?" look!

2. Oil. Chicken breast is a lean meat. You don't want to compromise the low fat content of the meat, but I have found that the best tasting chicken requires some oil. The great thing about grilling is that a) a lot of the excess oil drips off, b) it does wonders for keeping the seasonings in place and, c) it promotes sealing of the meat and keeps your meat juicer.

3. Tenderizers. You won't always need these, but they are nice to keep in the back of your head if the flavor of the tenderizer works well with the dish. For chicken some people like to use various white wines, vinegars, citrus juices, etc Typically I am not a fan of any of these--the key is being selective and finding the right seasonings to make them work. If you can do that you will not only have a much more tender cut of meat you will also add a great flavor to your dish. Alternatively you can try some shake on meat tenderizers (which use enzymes to break down the proteins) but I don't have a lot of experience with these--I try to keep it simple :) One suggestion on tenderizers used in marinades: Try not to add sugar unless the recipe calls for it (like a honey or orange chicken). Sugars burn and char on the grill and don't typically taste great burnt.

4. Seasonings! Chicken breast can be pretty bland when not cooked right. When you grill you will get a subtle smoky flavor and "grilled" flavor where the meat sears to the grill. Chickens weakness is also one of its greatest strengths: since it is bland it is not very difficult to find seasonings you like and that will accent the grilled flavor. Tangy, spicy, sweet, sour--you name it, it can be done.

Now to put these ideas into practice. Tammy had asked me to grill some chicken on Monday and she had noted that she really liked my garlic salt and lemon pepper chicken. This is a fairly simple recipe (garlic salt, lemon pepper, and some paprika) but I was in a more adventurous mood. We like the combo of garlic and lemon on a peppery chicken breast, so using the above grilling concepts I created a more robust grilled lemon garlic pepper chicken breast.

I had principle #1 down through the Weber cooking time guide and having cooked chicken breast dozens of times on my grill. The next step was deciding how I wanted to prepare the chicken: did I want a dry rub or a marinade?

I decided to go with a marinade for a number of reasons. The first was principle #2--oil. I could have oiled up the chicken and added the rub, but it is far easier to use a little oil in a tub and just mix it all up. This is not only easier but is quicker and less messy. The next reason is principle #3--tenderizers. Tammy was craving chicken that used lemon pepper; conveniently the acids in lemon juice work as a tenderizer. Typically I would give a warning about using citrus juices because they WILL flavor your meat, but we have found that lemon, garlic, and pepper make a great combination. Which brings us to principle #4--seasonings. There is a reasoning they sell "lemon pepper" in the seasoning isle of the store! It is a great combo, and there is no need to espouse the merits of garlic in cooking. Together they make a great combo that compliment each other very well.

Now we move on to the finishing touches. I have found the better your ingredients the better the result. For example I used large, coarse ground pepper for the chicken. Coarse pepper does not work with all grilled dishes, but I have found it goes well with chicken and it departs a nice flavor in marinades. While fresh squeezed lemon is nice (but not absolutely necessary), do use freshly minced garlic! And lastly, don't forget the salt. A little salt goes a long way to bringing out the flavor in meat by accenting the other seasonings. And unless you are diagnosed with hypertension and have been told by a doctor to reduce your sodium intake there is no significant reason to avoid salt--much of the salt-phobia of the 80's was caused by bad science. Salt flushes from the system quickly and is typically only a danger to those already diagnosed with dangerous blood pressure levels. Moderation is important, but the belief that all salt is bad is really misconstrued in my opinion. If you eat a lot of home cooked meals you already are controlling your sodium intake because the biggest culprits for excessive sodium are fast foods which are exploding with salt, processed sugars, refined flours, and loaded with cheap fats.

Salt evangelism aside, we are prepared to see the results!

Suggestions to get tender, juicy grilled chicken which is bursting with flavor.

The end result was a beautiful grilled chicken that was exploding with flavor--and VERY tender. We enjoyed the recipe a lot and will be making it again. If you like lemon pepper and garlic this is a must try recipe. The zesty lemon flavor makes this recipe a prime candidate grilled chicken salads. You can read the recipe and give it a try in the recipe section of TammysRecipes.com. If you give it a try leave some feedback to let me know how you liked it.

Site updates: Challah, breadsticks, Cheesecake, etc...

You might have noticed the new feature that Joshua added to the site today. In the top right corner we now have a "Recipe of the week"! I'm quite excited about this, since it will allow us to spotlight a special recipe each week. This week's recipe is Grilled Lemon Garlic Pepper Chicken, and if you like lemon with your chicken, you'll love the recipe that Joshua created for it!

Be sure to watch for other new features as we add them to the site... we have lists and lists of ideas, and just need the time to work them in! :)

I also want to mention a couple new recipes that I've added. One of them we just had tonight, Onion Cheese Breadsticks. These yummy breadsticks are a great snack. I think there's only one left! Yehoshua ate a lot of them with dinner. ;)

I added my challah recipe, which I hope to make on Friday of this week. You can view the recipe here. It's well worth trying! :)

Yesterday Joshua made one of my favorite cheesecakes, our "Lemon Meringue" cheesecake. I like it SO much!! It's better than lemon meringue pie, in my opinion, and so much less work. We already finished the one Joshua made... but we DID have company this evening; we didn't eat THAT much ourselves. ;) But you're probably tired of reading about cheesecakes! :)

Today I felt like a snail. I seemed to be operating soooo slowly! I don't know why I couldn't "get into gear"... maybe because I didn't walk this morning. :( At any rate, I had to hurry myself up several times in order to even get laundry somewhat started and the cooking done. I did make energy bars, finally, thankfully! They are like my staple snack for when I get hungry between meals, and I ran out of them probably a week or two ago! They only take 20 minutes to mix up, but I hadn't made the time to do them. So, I just ate granola instead. But then I used up my granola, too, so I got really really desperate and made granola yesterday (and discovered the sour milk) and energy bars today. Now, maybe I'll be all set for a couple weeks :D.

And once again, it's rather late. I need to head to bed so I don't move like a snail again tomorrow :D I think we'll have leftover chili for lunch, and I'll have to plan something easy for dinner... hmn... Good night!

Yehoshua and I made granola today!

Yehoshua, with our fresh granola

Yehoshua loves to help me in the kitchen! Today we made granola. Our morning started our rather hectic.

For one thing, we went walking later than usual, and so it was getting really hot out by the time we got back. It seemed like "everyone" was hungry (and with a nursing baby, it can be a challenge to feed "everyone" at once!) and "everyone" needed a diaper change (actually only 2 people ;D) and "everyone" was getting grumpy from being hungry, hot, and stressed out (really probably just me!).

But, we made it through the morning, despite a fussy (gassy, maybe?) baby and all the "help" (i.e. dropping crumbs on the floor and getting into trouble) provided by a two-year-old. ;) And our granola turned out just fine.

Of course, just moments after making granola (we had been out of it and were missing having it for breakfast!) we discovered that our milk had all gone sour. :D

The afternoon continued, thankfully a little less-eventfully than our morning was, and by bedtime everything was running smoothly again. :)

Yehoshua did get into a bit of mischief by trying to fill his sippy cup from the water dispenser by himself. He's not allowed to do that, because he can't always get it turned off in time. This was no exception, unfortunately.

We heard him calling, "Dada, Mama, water!" When we asked where the water was, he took us to the kitchen and showed us a big puddle on the linoleum.

Joshua said, "Yehoshua! You aren't supposed to turn on the water!" I said, "Did you run into a little problem here, Yehoshua?" and Yehoshua said, "Yeah!" in the CUTEST little voice and we started cracking up. Then we got him a huge bath towel and made him wipe up the water. :)

But now it's late, and I must head off to bed... Good night!

Tea Review: St. Dalfour's Strawberry Tea

St. Dalfour's Strawberry Tea

This is a strawberry-flavored black tea by the brand St. Dalfour. I was first introduced to this brand several years ago, and they have since added many delightful flavors.

Their teas are all individually wrapped, which is a plus for me (and not just because I happen to collect the empty wrappers, but also because I like to store my teabags in a drawer, loose, rather than in boxes, for space-saving purposes).

Another big plus: these are organic teas! So with 25 bags in the box, and a reasonable price tag (I can't remember how much I paid last time I bought some, as it was several years ago, but I know it was under $5.) PLUS being organic, they really are a great tea. ;)

If you enjoy flavored black or green teas, you should look for St. Dalfour's Tea. Oooh, I just saw that they have Strawberry Rose Green Tea! Good thing the grocery stores around here don't carry this brand. ;)

Welcome to guest chef Olivia McEntire!

Trifle, a recipe submitted by guest chef Olivia McEntire

I am delighted to welcome our second guest chef, Olivia McEntire! Olivia has submitted three delicious-looking dessert recipes, one of them being especially for Independence Day! Click here to read more.... 

Guest Chef Name: 
Page Type: 

A couple new recipes:

First of all, I just want to say:

Having my own personal technical support for this site is awesome. ;) I just woke Joshua up because I could not figure out how to get something to work... he figured out the problem right away ;) I'm so glad I married someone who knows a lot more about computers than I do! :)

Secondly, most of my longer blog posts (which will probably be the majority) will require you to click on either the title link or the "read more" link at the bottom in order to read the rest of the post. I had been posting the entire entries all on the main page, but I want to try this system and see if it makes the site easier to navigate and use.

So... what have we been cooking lately? Well, Yehoshua helped me make some cream cheese brownies. That recipe is an old favorite, first passed to my family by a friend named Sheri. I don't believe Yehoshua had ever eaten them, though... it had been that long since I made them! He enjoyed getting to help mix them up, and has been enjoying eating them, too ;)

We also made beef vegetable soup. This is one of Yehoshua's favorite soups, since the vegetables cook down. My mom makes it often and he always eats a big bowl full :).

I am thawing some chicken breast for tomorrow... maybe Joshua will grill it for me ;) If not, I can always torture him with my chicken rice bake, which he doesn't especially love ;) Although he has said that I've made it better the last few times... it was one of my staple "easy" meals after having Eliyahu ;)

Well, it's bedtime... I get to go walking early tomorrow! I slipped and hurt my ankle and wasn't able to go for several days... it will be nice to get back out on walks in the mornings this week.

Enjoying my little ones...

So often, as I am caring for Yehoshua or Eliyahu, I marvel at how blessed we are by our children. They are so, so precious, and I just don't know where the last 2 years has gone... how could I be the mother of a 2-year-old, and how could my baby be 6 months old already?! I want to cherish every moment I have with them, whether it's nursing Eliyahu, playing a game with Yehoshua, making Eliyahu giggle, having a "conversation" with Yehoshua (who is just starting to talk!), or getting some sweet spontaneous kisses and hugs...

I have learned so much and grown so much since becoming a mom. I honestly never imagined how much my life was about to change when Yehoshua was born. I was probably just a little too confident, partly in reaction to most peoples' "horror stories" about how parenthood "really" was going to be. The horror stories didn't come true for me, but I did learn a whole lot, grow a whole lot, and mature a whole lot (and still am!!).

Yehoshua's innocence and sweetness makes me realise how often I harbor resentment, or hold back from being loving. When we take an homest look at our hearts, there's so often wickedness hiding there, disguised as piousness. I feel so unworthy and incapable of being a good mom to my little blessings... but I am also thankful for YHWH's goodness and grace. We're never worthy of the blessings He gives... but He blesses us abundantly in spite of our weaknesses.

Just a few thoughts from a Very Thankful Heart tonight. :) 

Yehoshua was entertaining Eliyahu this morning and I just had to take a picture! :)

What our daily meals are like, thoughts on food, etc...

Today was a fairly relaxing day. In the morning, I gave baths to the children, washed a load of laundry, stuff like that. I put Yehoshua down for a nap early (11 am) since he had gotten up before 7, and then in the afternoon, we went over to visit at my parents' house. My mom had invited her mom (my grandma), also, and she just loves to see her great-grandchildren. There's something so special about babies, and seeing generations together is so rewarding and touching.

This evening, Joshua asked me, "So, what's for dinner?" I replied that I had been thinking about making grilled cheese. We love grilled cheese, but it's like my back-up plan for when I haven't really planned ahead and don't know what else to make. :| So then I said, "Well, what do you want me to make?" and Joshua said, "Well, you should be able to come up with something that sounds good. After all, you are the owner of Tammy's Recipes.com!" I started laughing and said, "I knew that was coming sooner or later" ;) Then I said, "Well, honey, I hate to inform you of this, but I really am the same person I was 2 weeks ago when you bought the domain name. I wish buying a domain would change me! Ha, I would buy "excellent wife" and "nice mom all the time" and stuff like that!" :)

So, in case this website is giving anyone the impression that I am some fabulous cook who makes 7-course meals every night while being the best wife and mom in the world... ;)

Actually, usually my daily meals involve 3 main items.

There's a meat or main dish item (because my husband likes meat at every meal if possible!), a vegetable, and a bread/starch food. Salads are a bonus with me, unfortunately.

I rarely take the time to make a nice salad (with things like carrots, celery, onions, peas, peppers, boiled eggs, etc.) because they're a lot of work (almost as much work as a lot of main dishes!) and since they're just a side, we don't eat enough to make it worth the bother...before it goes bad in the fridge :|. Okay, poor excuses, I know.

Also, fruit is sometimes present, sometimes not. I love it when there's sales on fresh fruit, because we get tired of opening jars of applesauce at every meal. And I do keep bananas on hand whenever possible, for snacks.

And desserts are just whatever, whenever. I don't make it a priority to have a dessert handy every day or at every meal, and when we do eat dessert it usually isn't with meals, but rather as a snack. We also like to freeze things (like individually wrapped pieces of cheesecake, cookies, etc.) and take out just what we need. That way we're not tempted to eat the whole batch right away. ;) Well, I still get tempted, (especially if chocolate's involved!) but we're less likely to eat too much. :)

One of our dinners recently: Beef vegetable soup, leftover cornbread, and watermelon

You might notice that a lot of the pictures of whole plates of foods, really do only have 3 items. I think most of my recipes are for fairly simple things... because I really don't spend all day in the kitchen! And on some days, I can be overheard saying things like, "Ummm...I had dinner planned, really I did... but I just forgot what it was! Give me a minute and I'll remember." or "Well, I'm still deciding... do any of these 3 things sound good?!"

I do like to cook, and I do like making nice meals for others to enjoy (and, as my waistline shows, enjoying them myself ;D). But I am constantly searching for quicker and easier ways to do things (without compromising the quality of homemade meals!) and trying to be more efficient in the kitchen. I've also learned not to feel guilty about things that just aren't possible or practical for me to do.

One of those things involves homemade bread. My mom (who is an excellent cook, though she didn't know how to cook at all when she got married) has always made homemade bread. My dad taught her how (since he was the oldest of 13 children and grew up making it) and I think I was able to make bread by the time I was 8 or 10. With a decent-sized family, homemade bread disappeared in no time.

When Joshua and I got married, I was, of course, planning to make bread. I soon learned that with just 2 people in the house, homemade bread sat around and got stale. (Partly because homemade bread gets dry and crumbly in about 24 hours' time.) ;) I also had moved half-way across the country and for some reason had the most difficult time with getting my bread to turn out with a good texture. I made Joshua endure loaf after loaf of crumbly, dry, soggy, or dense bread before finally giving in and deciding to buy (yes, buy!) bread to make sandwiches for his lunches.

I do make bread occasionally (maybe once every week or two) for garlic bread or dinner rolls, but we buy a lot of bread, and you know what? I don't feel guilty about it. I can't do everything, after all! And you can't, either. So use this site for ideas and encouragement, but remember that there are more important things than making everything homemade or being the "best" at everything. :)


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