Wednesday, January 25, 2012

DIY Ballet Barre

I thought about going online and purchasing a ballet barre. Hubs had the genius idea to use a nice piece of hand rail like the one on our staircase. He also used hand rail brackets to secure it in place, and we saved ourselves some big bucks! We are thinking of using the spare $ to have a custom piece of mirror cut out to cover the entire wall where the barre is mounted. Amanda Lily loves that she can now work on her ballet at home.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

My favorite banana nut bread recipe. This is a staple in our home. I buy bananas at every trip I take to the Co-Op and grocery store. We peel and freeze them for school morning smoothies, but everyone's favorite is when the banana peels get good and black, and there is nothing left to do but make banana bread. This recipe fills the house with the most wonderful aroma.

1 stick softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar (i use organic cane sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk
1 cup mashed bananas (3)
1 1/2 cup white wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Blend softened butter and sugar until well incorporated. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, and bananas. Add dry ingredients to mixture along with pecans. Stir until just moistened. Bake in sprayed loaf pan in 350 oven about 1 hour.

I couldn't even get a good picture before the cooling banana bread was attacked and half eaten!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Segway Tour

This past weekend, we sent the kids over to Nana and Papa, and went on a fun date to Clearwater. We went on a Segway tour. You know, those ridiculous ride on things that you always laugh under your breath about when you see people riding them. We went an entire 2 hours away in the hopes that no one we know would see us. It was HILARIOUS....and much to our surprise, super fun! It was a two hour guided tour of the old historic district, and "millionaire's mile" We also crossed a huge bridge (not my favorite part). It was chilly outside, so we were all bundled up in our winter coats, scarves, and gloves.
Afterwards, we drove over to Ybor's Columbia restaurant for 1905 salad and mojitos. Delicious!

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Years Eve!

New Years Eve this year was spent at Yia Patra and Papou' Vassilis house. We had the traditional Greek cake. The tradition goes that you bake a cake with a coin hidden inside. Once you cut and serve it, whomever get the piece with the coin is said to have good luck in the coming new year. If no one gets it, then the luck goes to the home the cake is cut in. This year, Papou' Vassili was the lucky winner. Cronia Pola Vassili!

The kids had a blast watching Dick Clark's special, then dancing to LMFAO. We were happy to be surrounded by closest of friends and family.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Greek Family Christmas

Christmas dinner at Yia Yia and Papou's farmhouse. The biggest surprise for the grand kids was a new farm animal.....a donkey!!! Since he's a Christmas gift, they decided to name him "Dominick"

These next photos are for family in Greece to see everyone. Enjoy!

                     Almost ready for our newest family member.

                             Horsing around with Uncle Jimmy.

                               Greek Dancing....Cronia Pola!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Morning 2011

Part of our Christmas morning tradition is that I make cinnamon rolls and a breakfast casserole. These are a rich treat my family looks forward to every year. Sausage breakfast casserole is easy because I just pop it into the oven, as it is prepared the night before. The cinnamon rolls are a tradition that our family in Greece (thank you Heidi) passed to us. I remember being only 19 years old and Heidi telling me about how she makes cinnamon rolls for her kids each Christmas, and I thought it was a nice tradition that could connect us across the miles. I've made them for our children every year. I believe these types of connections make the food prepared taste even better, because it is made with loving thoughts.

I always think of loved ones and friends whenever I cook. I often find myself listening to music from the 40's while baking, because it makes me remember days in the kitchen with my Nannie as a young girl. She used to LOVE listening to old Standards. I wonder if when Amanda Lily and Steven are parents, they will bake to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and be taken back to our kitchen. I hope so. The thought warms me.

Sausage Casserole
1 16oz package sausage (I have used turkey and pork)
8 slices of sourdough bread cut into cubes
2/3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups 2% low fat milk, divided
1 cup egg substitute
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 (10.75oz) can of cream of mushroom soup (I use reduced sodium)
*This needs to be prepared the night before.*

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan and cook until browned and crumbled. Arrange bread in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Top evenly with cooked sausage and cheddar cheese. Combine 2 1/2 cups of milk, egg substitute, and dijon mustard, stirring with a whisk. Pour over bread mixture in dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup of milk and soup. Pour over bread mixture and bake for 1 hour or until browned. I bake for 1 1/2 hours because my family enjoys a crispy crust. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Yields 8 servings.

Steven is growing to enjoy Science. Santa brought  him a telescope.
Amanda Lily is still a girly girl who loves her dolls. Santa brought her an American Girl.

My most memorable gift this year was from Amanda Lily. She wrote a book for George and me. It is absolutely precious. Here is the "forward" and picture on page one. The book is 15 pages long, so this is just a sampling. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years....New Furry Friends

Uncle Dan stopped by with a surprise to share with the kids on New Years Day. He and Aunt Jess are the proud parents of a new puppy, and she is ADORABLE! The kids went crazy for her. Amanda Lily begged for a new "little" dog for hours after she went home. She's a little Corgi, and joins another Corgi named "Biscuit." Danny wanted to name her "Gravy", but Jess wouldn't have it so they settled on the next best thing...."Gracie"