Monday, July 28, 2014

Chicken Stir Fry with Sesame Ginger Sauce

I just love ordering out to our local Chinese place.  But because we need to tighten our belt when it comes to money we just don't order out.  So I decided to recreate it at home.  So when we do that I usually hear from my family, "this is better than take-out", "I love this mommy".  Nothing brings me joy like seeing happiness on my family's faces when I cook something they really enjoy.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Sesame Ginger Sauce

1 pound of boneless skinless chicken, cut up into small chunks
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 garlic clove minced
1-2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 bag of frozen broccoli pieces
Sesame Sauce recipe found at Full Bellies, Happy Kids

Heat up the oil in a large pan.  Add the garlic.  Sauté for a few seconds, just until you start to smell it.  Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.  Once the chicken is cooked through add the bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables.

Cook this for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.  Add the Sesame Sauce with the addition of the ginger powder to the sauce and cook an additional 10 minutes uncovered. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.  Serve over rice if desired.

This is defiantly a keeper!  I have also taken garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and pepper and mixed up in a bowl.  Then sprinkle it over the chicken before adding it to the oil. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Christmas in July and My Birthday!

Yesterday was one of the best birthdays I have had.  It wasn't because of the gifts I received.  It was because of the thoughtfulness of my family.  Now that our kids are all teenagers they would much rather do their own thing.  That has left me at a loss.  I did not expect to feel this way as my children grew up.  So when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday I said I wanted to spend the day together....ALL 5 of us.  It just so happened that The Genesee Country Village and Museum had a new program called "Christmas in July" going on.  Perfect!!

It was in July that preparations for Christmas started.  That might seem a little bit early, but remember they could not just run to the store and purchase gifts.  They had to make them by hand.  So in order to keep the surprise they could only work a little at a time.  I so long for that.  Christmas has become such a money maker for stores.  It's also a time where people become more greedy than normal.  I want to give out more handmade gifts than store bought. 

Our first stop was the MaKay Home.  It was here they were demonstrating how to transform a dried pea into something for Christmas.

The dried pea was transformed into a holly berry.  I thought this was such a cute idea. 

Roll the dried pea into melted wax.  Normally they would have used a candle.  But for safety reasons they did not.  But it did not take away from the demonstration.  Something so simple can be transformed into something so beautiful!  That is what draws me so much to the Pioneer way of life.

Because most pioneers did not have the means to purchase new items they often would enhance what they had.  These wool mittens were pretty worn out.  So Mrs. MacKay drew circles on the mittens and added bright colored yarn.

What child would not love a "new" pair of mittens for Christmas?  One of my favorite episodes of Little House on the Prairie is "Christmas at Plum Creek".  Laura sells her horse to Nellie so she could buy Ma a new stove.  Charles works endlessly on wagon wheels to purchase Caroline a new stove.  Ma and Mary sew a new shirt for Charles exactly the same.  Things like that just do not happen today.  I am blessed that our kids don't get all greedy at Christmas.  They are thankful for what they get.  I'm going to try and encourage them to make something for each other this year.  We will see how that goes.

Next we headed over to the Romulus Female Seminary.  This was an all girls school that operated near us in the early to mid-1800's.  It was in this building we learned about pressing flowers.  Wildflowers were vastly available here in the summer.  So they would study botany and create a gift for their mothers. 

Here is what they were studying in the school in 1855.

Reminds me a lot of what our homeschooling courses look like.  Of course we have a little less languages.

These are the flower presses that were handmade to press flowers.  I told my husband and son I would LOVE one for Christmas.  Haha

You can do so much with a pressed flower.  Simple decorations, cards and much much more.  A very simple thing that adds so much beauty to life.  God gives us wild flowers to make the world much more beautiful.  We should be looking at it as such.

The girls were able to make their own pressed flowers using 2 pieces of cardboard, newspaper and rubber bands.

The girls were very excited to do this project.  Andrew on the other hand was less than thrilled to press a flower. 

The hardest part of the project was picking a flower to press.  This one that Hannah picked was beautiful.  Katrina picked a much smaller one. 

Place the rubber bands on the cardboard to hold together.  In a few weeks the flower should be nice and pressed.  We put them under very heavy books when we got home.  I will probably forget about them..haha.

Next we headed over to the Livingston Backus house.  Where they were sewing baby items to give away to those in need.  They made baby bonnets, dresses, night gowns, and some smocks.  These items were then placed in a box and delivered to a family in need. 

I love this house!  It was originally in the City of Rochester.  The owner was a doctor and pretty well off.  So you can see why they were able to sew items for those who are less fortunate than themselves.

One of my goals is to learn how to knit.  I know crochet, and did knit a long time ago but have not since I was about 10. 

How beautiful these are!  Have a look at that sewing box!  I would love one of these.  I'm a sucker for any basket.  This bonnet was an actual one from the 1800's.  I wonder who the baby was?  Who did they grow up to be?  I'm weird like that when I see an artifact from long ago.  I wonder who the person was that used it.  Anyone else do that?

I love this dress.  I can just imagine a young mother being so thrilled to get the clothing for her child.  Once the clothing was used it was then passed onto another family.  That is unheard of today.  Some pass the clothing around but not much.

In the kitchen we were able to have a sample of fruit cake!  I know this gets a bad rap, but this one is delicious! It had brandy in it.  It was used as a preservative so it could be made when the items were available to them.  The brandy would preserve it until Christmas.  I think that is why people turn their noses up at fruit cake.  I hope to find the receipt (or recipe) for it.  My family loved this.

This was so moist and flavorful.  Almost like a gingerbread with raisins. 

From here we headed to the Town Hall for some German Christmas carols.  Did you know that it was the German immigrants that brought a lot of our Christmas traditions over with them?  We sang "O Come, Little Children", "Angels From the Realms of Glory", "O Christmas Tree", "O How Joyfully", and "While By My Sheep".  This was one of the kids favorites. 

This man spoke with a German accent.  We enjoyed singing with him.

Next we headed down to the Jones Farm.  It was here we learned that eggnog was actually served mostly during the summer.  It was during the summer months that eggs and milk was readily available to most people.  It was only the wealthy folks that had it at Christmas time. 

Mrs. Jones was making cheese today.  She was explaining where rennet came from. It came from the lining of a calf's stomach. 

We then walked down to the Dressmakers shop to see what she was up to.

Isn't this house just so cute?  Reminds me of a cream sickle.  In the back of the house is where the dressmaker would sleep.  Here she was making doll clothing for penny dolls.  These are wooden dolls that were popular in the 1800's. 

You can see the penny doll sitting on the table.  I am going to see if I can find some for my daughters.  I think it would be fun to sew dresses for the dolls.

This is a smaller doll already dressed and ready to go.  Hannah just adored this doll. 

From here we headed down to the Pioneer Farm where the farmer was making something for his wife. 

He was making his wife a pair of candlesticks.  I am just in awe of someone who can transform a chunk of wood into a useful item.

I don't know about you but I would love a set of these.  My husband better get busy.  Haha. 

This is back at the Livingston Backus house.  The cook was frying cucumbers.  I had never heard of that!  She breaded them and dropped them into hot oil to crisp up the breading.

I'm willing to try these.  I love fried zucchini.  So I may like these. 

If being at the museum wasn't joyful enough for me.  When we got home my husband and kids were whispering back and forth.  My family came into the living room with this!

YUM!  It was an ice cream cake that my husband and kids made for me!  It's ice cream sandwiches layered with cool whip and caramel.  Freeze until ready to serve.  SO good.  But because they took the time to make it on their own meant the world to me. I had such a wonderful birthday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

No Place I'd Rather Be for My Birthday!

When it comes to my birthday I would rather just stay home or be at our camp.  I don't like a lot of gifts.  I would rather do something that will create memories.  Honestly I have everything I need.  SO tomorrow we will be headed to my favorite place!!  Can you guess??  The picture below is a hint.

Did you guess yet?  If that picture didn't help you maybe this one will...

We are going to celebrate my birthday at The Genesee Country Village and Museum.  If you have been a reader for any length of time you know how much we love this place. 

Tomorrow will be the Christmas in July feature at the museum.  We have never been to this so I am looking forward to it.  Believe it or not July was the month many would turn their focus to Christmas.  Remember they could not just go out and purchase things at the store.  They had to make the gifts by hand. 

Gifts were usually sweet bags like the one above or a pair of knitted gloves.  I would much rather receive a gift that is handmade than one that was purchased at a store. 

I know many of my readers would love to visit the museum but just live too far away.  The museum has an online audio tours.  You can sit at home and listen to someone describe some of the museum homes.  Come back tomorrow and see my post about our visit.  Beware...there is usually a ton of pictures. 

I just love to share this place with anyone that will listen!  Have a blessed weekend!!

Fiestada {Taco Pizza)

When I was in school one of our all time favorite dishes was what was called Fiestada or Taco Pizza.  School lunches were not very tasty when I was a kid.  So when this came up on the menu I could not wait for lunch.  So this is the recipe I came up with to try and recreate this favorite lunch. 

Fiestada {Taco Pizza}

Pizza Dough (My favorite is from The Pioneer Woman)
1 pound ground beef
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
taco seasoning (Packet or homemade)
1 jar of taco sauce

Cook and drain the ground beef.  Add the taco seasoning and cook for a minute or two more.

Prepare the pizza dough.  On a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper roll the dough out fairly thin.  With your fingers create dimples in the dough.

Spread the taco sauce onto the dough.  Spread out coming very close to the edges.  Place the beef mixture onto the dough.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. 

I would actually have to compare these side by side to see how close it actually comes to the school lunch.  But I honestly believe this is better. 

What was your favorite school lunch?  Have you ever tried to recreate it?

Homemade Taco Seasoning

We are trying to completely do away with pre-packaged foods.  That includes the little packets of seasonings.  I don't think people realize how easy these are to make.  Most of the ingredients are already in your kitchen.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Teaspoons dried oregano
2 Teaspoons cumin
1 Teaspoon chili powder
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon onion flakes (or 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder)

Add all ingredients into a jar and shake.  Makes the equivalent to one of the taco seasoning packets.  You can triple the recipe to keep in your pantry.

Once you make this you will never go back to premade taco seasoning again.  So easy and none of the extra stuff added to premade.