Last day of school

I really struggled with sending Ruby Kate to preschool for the 2012/2013 school year. She attended on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There were days that she didn’t want to go, and days I didn’t want to send her. She went, and in the end I’m so glad she did. We formed so many new friendships this year. She talks about her sweet classmates all the time. I love to see her little social skills developing and growing daily. Turns out, preschool was good for both of us. Here are some of our pics from the last day of school.

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BKR Bottle

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I purchased a BKR bottle in January. I’m not a huge water bottle person. I don’t feel the need to carry a bottle everywhere I go. BKR has changed my ways. I love my BKR bottle. I have now purchased two of these little gems. I have one in purple and one in pink.  They are glass (no bpa), easy to carry, easy to drink from, and adorable. I can fill my bottle up 4 times a day and know that I’ve met my necessary 2 liters of water intake. They are a little pricey at $28 a bottle, but definitely worth the splurge.

Tea Rex

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Ruby Kate is somewhat fascinated with the dinosaur from Toy Story called Rex. She tells me that when Rex roars, it really scares Daddy, and she thinks that is funny. She is also fascinated with tea parties right now. Several times a week we end up on the back deck with a pitcher of water and paper cups. She fills the cups with “tea” and serves them to her many guests at the tea party (Minnie Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, baby doll, Woody, etc). When I saw this new book on Amazon called Tea Rex, I had to check it out. By the way, I am addicted to searching for great children’s books on Amazon. You never know what kids will like either. If I love it, chances are, she won’t. Turns out she loves this book. It’s so cute. The book describes how to host a tea party. The guest of honor at this tea party is a T-Rex dinosaur. The illustrations all include some humorous piece of information not included in the narrative. I love this style because it challenges the child to ask questions about the illustrations. There is one page that she always points out and requests that I describe the pictures. We read this book every single day, so I’d say it’s a keeper!

 

Weekend Recap

Mother’s Day weekend has always been a busy weekend for us but even more so now that I’m a mommy too. We had my in-laws over on Friday night for dinner. We celebrated Mother’s Day brunch for me on Saturday, and then we visited my mother on Sunday. Whew. I’m tired just thinking about it all again.

On Friday, I was in search of a nice table centerpiece for the dinner with my in-laws. I noticed while outside that my knock out roses are starting to bloom. I’ve never really been good at arranging knock outs. I tend to cut the stems too short. Well, I tried to cut these longer, and then I found a lovely milk glass vase (coincidentally gifted to me by my mother-in-law) to arrange them.

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For dessert on Friday night, we had coconut cream pie. Coconut cream pie is a favorite in our family, and it’s a staple in the spring and summer months. I have made this particular recipe about 5 times now, and I think it’s a keeper. This is actually Martha Stewart’s Banana Cream Pie recipe. I omit the bananas and add 1 cup of coconut and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. For the crust, I have found a wonderful gluten free frozen pie crust at Earthfare by a company called Wholly Wholesome. I strongly recommend it. The homemade whipped cream is a must for this pie. When I took the picture below, I hadn’t whipped the cream yet.

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On Saturday, we went to Gourmet’s Market for brunch. Unfortunately they didn’t have my favorite white chocolate pancakes (sigh). I survived though with some yummy french toast. After brunch, we had some time to kill before swim lessons. I’ve been hearing about an animal park in Strawberry Plains called Circle G Ranch. It’s basically a drive thru zoo. We drove there and were shocked at how many animals live there – over 500 to be exact. Even more shocking was how tame the animals were. We rolled our windows down to enjoy the view, and the animals approached our car and stuck their heads right in. Honestly, it scared me at first. I just wasn’t expecting it. The animals were not aggressive, just very comfortable with people. There were a couple of rogue Ostrich that wouldn’t leave us alone, but other than that, no incidents. Ruby Kate has continued to talk about Circle G Ranch. Here are some of my close-ups.

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We ended the weekend with a delicious strawberry cake from Litton’s. Now, I have no idea how I’m going to refrain from eating 3 pieces a day for the rest of the week!

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Goat Cheese Biscuits

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I’m enjoying reading, “Bread & Wine, a love letter to life around the table with recipes,” by Shauna Niequist. I’m almost finished reading the book, but I really wish I had saved this one for a book club. Reading this book makes me feel like I’m sitting at a local coffee-house, sipping on a latte, and talking to a dear, dear friend. I have laughed, and I have cried. I was only a couple of chapters in when I stopped, logged onto Amazon and ordered another one for my best friend.

So, Niequist shares many recipes throughout her book. There are several that I will try, but up first I tried the Goat Cheese Biscuits. I substituted gluten-free flour for the regular flour. We have been searching for a great gluten-free biscuit for sometime now. This is it!! It is perfectly buttery and crunchy and delicious. I can barely taste the goat cheese, but it’s nice. Also, I think it’s very important that you use the cast iron skillet as she recommends.  If you are serving more than 3-4, you should double the recipe.

Goat Cheese Biscuits *Adapted from a recipe created by Art Smith, Table Fifty-Two

Makes 12

Ingredients

2 cups flour (I used Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend)

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons salt

1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)

6 tablespoons cold butter, divided

4 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled

Extra butter to grease pan and top biscuits

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a 10-inch cast-iron pan into the oven while it’s preheating.

Pour flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Cut 4 tablespoons butter into small pieces and add to the bowl with goat cheese and the yogurt. Stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of yogurt if needed.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it. When the butter has melted, divide the batter into 12 biscuits (about golf ball size) and drop them into the pan.

Brush the biscuits with one tablespoon of melted butter, then bake for 14-16 minutes. (I had to bake mine for about 20 minutes on the top rack). Remove from oven and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Weekend Recap

Spring showers are alive and well here in Knoxville. It rained the entire weekend. By the looks of the forecast, it appears that we still have 2 more days of rain coming. I know that my garden is loving this rain, but I’m ready for a break!

In spite of the rain, we started our weekend off by attending First Friday in downtown Knoxville. We met friends for dinner and then just walked around enjoying the art. This was our first, First Friday. We did not buy any art, but it was certainly fun window shopping.

We began Saturday with our usual pancake breakfast (gluten free bisquick mix), and then we ventured out to Stanley’s nursery for some plants. We came home with sword ferns for our front door planters and a few new guinea impatiens for our back yard planters. We didn’t have room for anything else, so we’ll definitely be back to Stanley’s very soon. We wrapped up the day at swim lessons for Ruby Kate and then dinner at Tomato Head.

We ended up at Gourmet’s Market on Sunday for brunch. We go there every Sunday. After sampling all of the Sunday Brunch venues in town, we have decided Gourmet’s market has the best food. Hands down. About once every three months, they have a special called, white chocolate blueberry pancakes. Oh. My. I live for those days :).

We took a family trip to Publix Sunday night. It sounds silly, but family trips to the grocery store are some of my favorite times together as a family. It’s something we don’t do often, and we all have so much fun.

I didn’t  take as many pics as I meant to, but here are a few.

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Quinoa

Wikipedia says this about quinoa, “Quinoa (pron.: /ˈknwɑː/ or /kɨˈn.ə/Spanishquinua, from Quechuakinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beetsspinach and tumbleweeds.”

Well, I don’t know much about goosefoot, but I do know we have been on a quinoa kick. I have been very attracted to it recently mostly because of its gluten-free and protein rich qualities. It is a superfood. I’ve been sneaking it into our meals every chance I get. When David first went gluten-free, I immediately started looking for a good pasta substitute. I think we have tried every gluten-free pasta variety. We have mutually agreed that quinoa pasta is the best. In fact, I like it so much, I would still buy it even if David weren’t on a gluten-free diet. Our favorite quinoa pasta brand is Ancient Quinoa Harvest. Their website boasts that Prevention magazine voted them the 2013 Best Packaged Foods. Yeah! All the more reason to try it! We order ours in bulk from Amazon (yeah, Amazon Prime!).

So after eating quinoa pasta for a couple of years now, I finally decided to venture out and try traditional quinoa. I purchased the same brand, Ancient Quinoa Harvest. It’s organic, 100% whole grain, and it’s pre washed , so there is no rinsing involved. I mostly prepare it as a side dish to our meals. I keep reading a lot of quinoa salad recipes, but I haven’t tried this yet. We have only eaten it hot. My absolute favorite way to prepare it is combined with oatmeal. If you love oatmeal, you will really, really love quinoa & oatmeal. It is so hearty, and the nutty flavor from the quinoa is just divine. I found a recipe for this combination on pinterest. It directed me to a really cool blog called Camille Styles. You can get to the recipe here. She calls it, Quinoa Berry Breakfast Bowl. While you are there, check out her blog. I’ve been back to her site several times just to read her new entries.

I didn’t take any pictures when I made this quinoa oatmeal recipe. I had no idea I would like it this much! I will take a picture the next time I make it & update the post. Sorry!