irish cream truffle fudge

If you ever take a peek into our pantry, you might wonder about our apparent obsession with Irish cream whiskey.  Eric’s boss gives his employees a gigantic bottle of Baileys every year at Christmas…and we discovered a few nights ago that we still had the bottles from 2010 and 2011 (plus last year’s bottle.)  The oldest one was expired so we had to dump it out…and I hate throwing away food, even if it IS Irish cream.

So I made fudge.  Baileys makes some great desserts, and I think Baileys fudge is my favorite.  Here’s the basic recipe I follow — it’s so easy and so delicious!

Irish Cream Truffle Fudge

1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. white (vanilla) chips

2 T. butter

1 c. powdered sugar

1/2 c. Irish cream liqueur

Top layer:

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 T. butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish.  In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips, white chips, and butter over low heat, stirring often.  Be careful not to overheat or burn the mixture.  When melted and smooth, remove from heat.  Add powdered sugar and Irish cream.  Stir until well combined, then pour into greased pan.

Using a separate saucepan (or the original pan, washed and thoroughly dried) over low heat, melt the chocolate chips and butter for the top layer.  When melted and smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Spread over the top of the fudge.

Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or the freezer for 15 minutes, if you’re impatient like me!) before cutting and serving.  Allow the fudge to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting.




Posted in Cooking, Recipes | 1 Comment

paleo peach-banana pancakes

We’re taking steps to eat less grains in our home, particularly wheat.  It’s hard for me.  I really really like my breads — quick breads, yeast breads, sourdough breads, pancakes.  Pancakes are one of Calla’s and my favorite foods. We still eat them (the yummy, fluffy, “real” kind) once in a while, but we’ve cut back a lot.

These grain-free pancakes (which qualify as paleo for those who are interested) are pretty tasty.  They’re obviously not like wheat flour pancakes but they do satisfy my craving.  I make a big batch but I think I might have to start doubling it — the kids devour these little cakes!

*I like to use bananas and peaches for this recipe, but you can just use banana if you want.  Just replace the two peaches with two additional bananas!*

Paleo Peach-Banana Pancakes

2 bananas, peeled

2 peaches, pit removed

6 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 c. almond flour (feel free to add a little more if the batter is too thin)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Place bananas and peaches in a food processor or blender; process until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.  (If you keep the skin on the peaches, you will see some small pieces after the ingredients are blended and that’s ok.)

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Lightly coat with cooking spray, oil, or butter.  Pour batter onto griddle in 2-3 tablespoon portions.  (If pancakes are too big, they might be difficult to flip!)  Cook 3-4 minutes or until you can see the edges starting to brown, then flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Remove and serve!

Yield: appx. thirty 3-inch pancakes

{We like ours topped with a warm fruit compote and some chopped walnuts or pecans.  These pancakes are sweet enough that syrup isn’t really necessary.}




Posted in Cooking, Nutrition, On the Crunchy Side, Recipes | 1 Comment

pad thai at home

It took me a long time to work up the nerve to try cooking Asian food at home.  Just in the last year or two, I’ve learned a lot (mostly by trial and error) and I think it’s safe to say my experiments are getting better and better.

Green Curry and Pad Thai are probably my favorite dishes to order when we go to a Thai restaurant.  I haven’t yet tried homemade green curry, but I made pad Thai for the second time last night…and we have a winner!

Most pad Thai recipes call for tamarind juice to give the dish its characteristic tangy background flavor.  I tried using tamarind juice the first time and something just didn’t taste right to me.  (Maybe I needed a more concentrated juice?  Or I should have used tamarind paste instead of juice?)  I don’t know, but the second time I decided to try lime juice + brown sugar instead since I’d seen it listed as a substitute.  We all loved it!

Here’s my basic recipe for pad Thai…I tend to do lots of tweaking and taste-testing along the way, so you might want to do the same to make sure it’s working for your taste buds.  Also, making pad Thai in a large batch guarantees unevenly distributed flavor and soggy noodles, so I make this recipe in two batches.

{Recipe updated 10/16/13}

Pad Thai (loosely adapted from this recipe)

Thinly sliced beef, pork, chicken, or shrimp (or none of these if you want vegetarian)

2-3 carrots, grated

2 bunches green onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. shredded preserved radish, optional

4-5 T. cooking oil (I use avocado + coconut oil)

12-14 oz. package dried rice noodles (labeled M or Medium)

4 eggs, beaten


1/2 c. lime juice

3/4 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. fish sauce

1/2 c. water

2 T. soy sauce

splash of Worcestershire sauce

salt to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

Garnish: chopped peanuts, additional raw grated carrots, lime wedges, cilantro


In a large bowl, soak rice noodles in cold water for 30 minutes.  Use this time to start preparing the other ingredients.  After noodles are done soaking, drain them well and cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and rinse with cold water. (They will continue cooking later in the skillet or wok.)

Combine sauce ingredients (lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, water, soy sauce, Worcestershire, salt, red pepper) in a medium saucepan.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture begins to reduce and thicken slightly.  Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Cook meat of choice until done; remove and set aside.  Add another tablespoon of oil and cook carrots, green onions, and garlic for 1-2 minutes or until starting to brown.  Remove and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil, then add half of the cooked noodles to the pan.  Leave them untouched for at least 30 seconds, then stir and add half of the sauce.  After noodles are coated, add half of the veggies and half of the meat.  Push the entire mixture to the side of the pan and add half of the eggs to the skillet.  Scramble the eggs, then mix them into the noodles.  Remove everything from the pan and repeat with the remaining half of the ingredients.

Pile the noodle mixture into bowls and top with chopped peanuts, raw grated carrots, and cilantro, and serve with a lime wedge.

Yield: 4-5 servings


Posted in Cooking, Recipes | 3 Comments

savory salmon croquettes

Wild salmon has been a decent price in grocery stores lately, so I thought I’d post this recipe (that our family loves) for salmon croquettes.  They’re fantastic served with tartar sauce, mango chutney, corn relish, or just as is!  I typically use canned wild salmon for this recipe, but cooked-and-flaked fresh salmon works just as well.

Salmon Croquettes

14 – 18 oz canned salmon (depending on can sizes) or 1 1/2 – 2 c. flaked fresh salmon

1 c. panko bread crumbs

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 c. fresh chopped parsley or cilantro

1/4 c. finely diced onion

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Oil +  butter for frying


1/4 c. panko bread crumbs

1/4 c. cornmeal

1/4 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine salmon, panko crumbs, eggs, parsley, onion, and spices.  Mix until combined, then form into 10-12 croquettes.  Combine coating ingredients on a plate or shallow bowl.

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat.  Press both sides of the croquettes into the coating mixture.  Just before frying, add a few tablespoons of butter.  When butter is melted, place croquettes in pan.  Fry 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve with the sauce or topping of your choice, and enjoy!




Posted in Cooking, Recipes | 2 Comments

family portrait challenge

A couple of months ago, my friend, Cindy — another mama of four — suggested a monthly photo challenge: taking a family portrait as well as a portrait of each individual child, preferably with our “real” cameras rather than with our phones.  I said YES!  I tend to let my camera sit in the corner collecting dust, so I welcome the accountability to help me get it out and actually use it on a regular basis.

That was back in May, and I’ve already been slacking. Oops.  I DID manage to take portraits of the kids individually and together, but I haven’t taken the time to get photos of all six of us.  I’ll get it done this month.  (I hope.)

I know I won’t always be able to catch everyone looking at the camera, or smiling, or sitting still, but really, that’s not the point.  I want to document the kids in real life, which translates into messy hair and dirty faces and holey clothes and silly expressions.  I know, down the road, I’ll be glad I took the time to do this.  I’m already excited to look back and see how our family has changed, month by month.  (I’ll do my best to post the photos here!)

You can see the individual kid photos from May in this post, and here’s a couple of the together shots I took…

Which one do you like more?

And here are the individual shots from June… (I love these kiddos so much!)

The next one makes me laugh.  I took at least twenty pictures and could NOT get anyone to look at me for more than half a second. 🙂

But yesterday, the last day of June, I snapped this pic on my phone…and everyone was looking in my general direction!


Feel free to join us in this photo challenge, and please let me know if you do!



Posted in Family fun, Kiddos | 1 Comment

chewy granola bars

I’ve found it!  Finally.  I discovered a recipe for CHEWY granola bars (from Smitten Kitchen, of course) and after several tweaks and test runs, I don’t think the recipe can get any more delicious.  These granola bars are good.  As in every time I make a double batch, they’re gone within two days.  I need to start quadrupling the recipe!

I usually make them with raisins and flaxseed, but the recipe is versatile!  Try changing it up with dried cranberries or cherries, chia seeds, chopped peanuts or pecans, flaked coconut, or mini chocolate chips.  Be sure to keep the total amount of additions to about 3 or 3.5 cups, as too much extra stuff will prevent the bars from holding their shape after they’re cut.  Also, the spices I included in the recipe are optional — use whatever spices you prefer!

These bars are thick, moist, chewy, and satisfying.  Wanna try them?  (You do, believe me.)

Chewy Granola Bars {adapted from this recipe}

3 1/3 c. rolled oats OR Coach’s Oats (available at Costco)

2/3 c. oat flour (I pulverize rolled oats in the food processor to make oat flour)

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. ground flaxseed

6 T. melted butter

6 T. melted coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. honey OR maple syrup

1/4 c. corn syrup

3 T. water

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line an 13″x9″ pan with parchment paper.  Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with cooking spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the raisins and flaxseed (or other fruits and nuts, if including them.)  In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and coconut oil, vanilla, liquid sweeteners, and water.  Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly.  Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly.

Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, or until they’re just starting to brown around the edges.  Be careful not to overbake them, since (speaking from experience) the edges will become hard as a rock after cooling.  They might seem underbaked when first taking them out of the oven, but the bars will set up as they cool.  

Cool the bars completely in the pan.  Setting the pan on a wire rack will speed up this process.  Once cool, use a sharp or serrated knife to cut them into rectangles.  Store in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.




Posted in Cooking, Nutrition, On the Crunchy Side, Recipes | 4 Comments

little after-hours helper {video}

Shepherd is a night owl.  I think I was in denial for the first year of his life, but I’ve finally accepted this fact.  He likes to stay up late, even though I don’t let him take more than one nap during the day.  He just doesn’t require as much sleep as his siblings did when they were babies.

Now that I’ve realized his late night sleeping habits are going to stick around for a while, I don’t mind it so much.  I’m thankful for the one-on-one time I have with him after his sister and brothers are asleep.

Last night, I was sweeping the kitchen floor and he came running over with the dustpan.  I grabbed my phone and took this video… (Warning: cuteness overload ahead!)

My Little Helper

{click the link above to watch the video}





Posted in Kiddos, Our home | 2 Comments

my ducks in a row {the last few weeks}

I like my kids.  I took this photo with my phone last week before heading to a graduation party.  The kids were freshly bathed and wearing clean clothes — it was a rare moment that I just had to document!  And whaddya know, they all looked at the camera and smiled AT THE SAME TIME.

So then I took one of myself with the kids.  Not everyone is looking and smiling, but at least you don’t see the back of anyone’s head. 🙂

It’s nice to step outside without putting on my winter coat first.  We’ve had feet upon feet of snow in the last couple of months (which is a blessing I’m very thankful for!) but I’m looking forward to summer and lots of sunshine.  I took the next two photos toward the end of April…

And here’s one more photo just for laughs.  We went to the Asian market over the weekend, and one of the kiddos’ favorite things to do is stare longingly at the roasted ducks.  These kids are natural carnivores — all four of them!



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oven bbq meatballs

One of my favorite aspects of being a wife and mama is cooking for my family.  I love trying new recipes and experimenting with different flavors, and I also enjoy making my good ol’ standby meals.  I’m happy when I’m able to make my hubby and kiddos happy by feeding them tasty and nutritious foods.

One of our family’s tried-and-true favorites is Oven BBQ Meatballs.  I don’t make them as often as I used to since we’re working on eating less meat, but when we do sit down to this meal, you can bet there are smiling faces all around.

I adapt the recipe a bit depending on what I have on hand, but here’s basically what I do…

Oven BBQ Meatballs


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 pound breakfast sausage

1 c. panko-style bread crumbs (I’ve also used quick oats and they work just fine)

1 egg

1/2 c. finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. half-and-half

1/4 c. ketchup

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika


1 1/2 c. ketchup

3/4 c. brown sugar OR honey

1 tsp. mustard

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a large baking dish with foil.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients.  (I usually mix it with my hands.)  Form into 1 1/2-inch balls and place in a single layer in the baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine glaze ingredients.  Spoon evenly over the meatballs.

Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  Serve over rice or mashed potatoes, or in a hoagie for a delicious meatball sandwich!




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a mother’s day poem {by eric}

What can I say about my mother?
I have just the one and no other.
She labored and brought me into this world;
Whenever I was sad, in her arms I was curled.

She was my friend, she was my teacher,
Cheering me on from up in the bleacher,
Supporting me through each endeavor,
losing faith or hope in me — never.

So much time you devoted to me,
Put your career on hold, you worked for free.
A thankless job, however, it is not;
Your sacrifices won’t be easily forgot.

A mother’s heart I can’t comprehend:
Capacity for love, ability to mend.
Together we laugh, together we cry,
Sometimes not even knowing why.

Late nights talking and drinking tea
Around the dinner table, just you and me.
Well, Baba and Abby were there too
But it was extra special because of you.

To you I can always speak my mind;
Wisdom and encouragement I can find.
I called just to say, “I love you, goodnight”
But we ended up talking most of the night.

Thank you for all that you have done.
Raising me was tough, but I hope it was fun.
May the Lord bless you abundantly, I pray,
Through this poem to you on Mother’s Day.

Ai ni, Mama!  Happy Mother’s Day!


Posted in The Mister | 4 Comments