Monday, September 24, 2012

Sausage and Chicken Gumbo

I often get nostalgic and miss the very essence of the things I grew up with.  Living in New York City so far away from where I grew up I need to have a little bit of home from time to time.  I also like to give my kids some sense of what my childhood was like.  One of the ways that I'm able to do this is to have a taste of home right in my own kitchen is to make some of the recipes that I grew up enjoying. 

Louisiana is where I was born and spent most of my childhood.  It's where both my parents were born and raised. It's where their parents were born and raised.  So I have a very rich family history there.  I grew up attending huge family gatherings and eating an array of different types of food.

Because of it's menagerie of cultures Louisiana in my opinion has some of the best food in the country.  Fall is a time for one of my favorite dishes that grew up on, Gumbo.  Gumbo is a stew that's made with  a vegetable trio of celery, onions, and bell pepper that is often referred to as the holy trinity. 

Some gumbo may also have okra.  This is used to give the dish a rich thick texture.  I have picky eaters that don't eat okra, and to be honest I don't know how much I like it myself.  So I used a roux to get the same texture.  I also added file powder because I think it gives the gumbo a little something tasty. A traditional Creole gumbo can have ham or sausage, shellfish such as crab, and shrimp.  Since the Mr is allergic to shellfish I decided to go with a Cajun version with chicken and sausage. 

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
makes 12 servings
  • 2/3 c vegatable oil
  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1    diced onion
  • 1    diced bell pepper
  • 3    diced celery ribs
  • 2     lbs chicken boneless breasts and thighs cubed
  • 1     lb  sausage sliced
  • 1/2  tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1     tsp paprika
  • 1     tsp black pepper
  • 1     tsp thyme
  • 2     tbl minced garlic
  • 2     tsp file powder
  • 4     cups rice cooked
Put  chicken in a pot and cover with water.  Boil for about 15 minutes.  Remove chicken and reserve liquid.

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet for 5 minutes.  Whisk in flours and cook, stirring constantly until it is
medium brown.  Lower the heat to avoid burning. 

Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook on low for 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of the chicken stock that was reserved.  Add sausage, chicken, all of the seasonings except the file powder and the rest of the stock.

Bring to a boil then let it simmer uncovered for one hour.

Removed and add file.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back to School: First Days

I remember before my kids actually started school seeing a video on Good Morning America of a mom doing a very happy dance on her kids' first day of school.  I said to myself this is so funny I am going to have a party right in front of the building on the first day of school.  I was gonna let balloons go and throw confetti, dad was even going to cut the confetti.   Well we didn't go that extreme after all.  

Although I had pretty much prepared all summer for my kids to go back to school. When you have more than one kid nothing really ever goes as planned. This has been the story of my life for years now. Even if I do everything the night before and get up extra early you always have to be prepared for the unexpected.  With my kids the unexpected can be literally anything. 

So I got up early on the first day of school because I promised my kids fresh baked cinnamon rolls.  I found this shortcut recipe and with my dry ingredients already prepped the night before I mixed them up and popped them in the oven.  I began the task of waking everyone up one by one so that they could all have their personal time in the bathroom.  Getting up and getting ready went well.  They ate, I took pictures and soon everyone was ready to head out. 
So my oldest daughter headed out to take the train.  I was headed downstairs with my ten year old and six year old to wait for their school bus and walk the dog.  Well as luck would have it my two year old woke up just as I was walking out the door.  So down the hall she comes with only her slip on diaper, t-shirt and a pair of socks.  Dilemma..... I really hadn't planned on having to deal with her until they left.  They only had five minutes until a bus was due to be in front of our building.  So since the dog was already ready for his walk I sent him downstairs with my ten year old.  I told her to just give him a quick walk and I would come and get him.                                                                                                                                                  
As soon as she walked the dog her bus was came, my son ran up to bring the dog and well I hoped that his bus would be right behind hers.  Nope.  So since the bus route notice that I had received just a few days prior to the first day of school didn't have an exact time for pick up, I tried calling the bus company with no luck the number stayed busy for quite a while.  So for a while I stood in the hallway on our floor waiting for his bus to come.  Then after about five minutes I packed up the baby and the dog and we went downstairs to wait for his bus with him.                                                                    
My son paced while asking where his bus was the entire time. My S/O had run out for a  quick moment, but since it looked like his bus either wasn't gonna come or they were gonna come so late that they were hoping he wouldn't still be waiting anyway.  Someone had to take him to school.
So we went back upstairs and I continued to call the bus company because by now I wanted to give someone a talking to.  I ended up calling the school to let them know that the bus never came, which didn't surprise them because the were getting lots of calls that sounded a lot like mine. I let them know that he would of course be late and that dad was bringing him to school. 
 When my son's bus dropped him off that day Dad asked the bus driver what time she would be there to pick him up the next day.  She told him seven am or shortly after.  She said that if they were late to just wait they would be there.  Well wouldn't you know they weren't there at seven or even shortly after.  After I sat with my son for about forty five minutes I left  him downstairs for a few minutes to run upstairs and get the number for the bus company.  He must have been really nervous because shortly after I walked in the house my doorbell was ringing.  It was a neighbor bringing him up, saying that he was pacing and wondering where his bus was.                                                              
As soon as I finally got the bus company on the line dad calls to say that the bus driver called him to say she would be there in a few minutes. So my son ran out of the house and down to the bus, only to have her sit in front of the building and say that I have to come down.  Which I did not, I was right there in the stairwell window watching from my floor.  I mean the bus did come only an hour and fifteen minutes after it was supposed to come.                                                                                 
The first two days of school were fine otherwise, although I did get a text from my ten year old saying that she hated her teacher because she punished her for something she didn't do.   But by the  beginning of the first full week back I think that we've gotten it all together. 

Back to School: The Snacks They Love

What kid doesn't love snacks?  With fall on the way we're back to school and it's time for fall sports.  From time to time when I am in the mood I will make delicious snacks for my kids.  But right now is a pretty hectic time it's still hot outside and there is not always time to make really elaborate snacks.  So here are some of the snacks we love and reason's why we love them. 

My son is allergic to tree nuts so this is a wonderful treat for him.  He can feel like he is having a pb&j sandwich too.  He likes to dip his apples, pretzels, and pretty much anything that you can dip.
I discovered Happy Baby products when my toddler was still a baby and we have been loving them ever since.   The yogurt apple bites are just the right size for little fingers and they keep her busy while she watching her favorite show or while we are taking a stroll.
My kids are big cheese heads.  Although not all of them can have dairy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School : Shopping

Since I have four kids and three of them go to school I try to get an early start on my school shopping every year.  I start looking for deals as soon as school gets out for the summer.  I watch the Sunday ads every week and I buy all of the staple items that I am sure they will need before I even get the supply lists in the mail.  If only I could get those supply lists on the last day of school.  This year the list I usually have the most issues with didn't come.  My ten year old Luv Bug goes to an amazing progressive school.  As amazing as they are some how this year they used an address that we haven't lived at since she was six. I was so caught up with my other two kids' list back in July that I realized only a few days ago that I didn't have my fifth grader's list.  Her school being as amazing as they are I was able to email the principle and within the hour her new teachers were emailing me letters and the coveted three page list. 

So since we had to go out to get and pick up some last minute things I decided to make a day out of it and get in a little quality time with the family.  We started out with a late breakfast at Ihop.  I guess people are shocked to see such a big family out because two ladies who were in the booth next to us entertained us with their lovely conversation the entire time that we were there. 

After breakfast we headed to my favorite shopping plaza.  We went to Old Navy where I tried to keep it all together.  My two and six year olds were more interested in playing with the mannequins.  My ten year old decided that she needed a break that from her meds so she was just kinda all over the place.  I did end up picking up a few great finds despite all the chaos that was going on around me.              
The next stop was my favorite shopping place Target.  I put the little ones in a cart which they hated and they proceeded to bitch and moan to dad, while begging to be let out.  My sixteen year old was completely focused on picking up the nick knacks she needed.  My ten year old, well we lost her somewhere in the school supply section even though she was the one who needed them the most.  The next time we saw her was about twenty minutes later.  I was just about to give her the business when I noticed that she had found a cute little potty doll for her baby sister to help with our potty training efforts.  That was a good save for her.  Dad was done and expressed his unhappiness with the kids behavior several times during the shopping trip.  I guess I'm just the type of person that loves to see a train wreck because on the way home I promised them that we would do it all again the next day.                                                                                                                                                       
The next shopping day ended up with more tears, more arguments, and more fights.  I don't think that I will be doing that again for a while.  Maybe I should just go it alone from now on and only take the kids along when I need one or two items.                                                                                               

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Doc McStuffins Will Make You Feel Better

I woke up around 6am with my two year old today.  Since it was too early to get anyone else up or to start breakfast so we just cuddled in bed and checked out what was on the DVR.  I came across a show that I'd seen her watching on the Ipad a lot, so I figured I would check it out.  It was a cute little Disney Junior show called Doc McStuffins.

Dottie "Doc" McStuffins is a six year old who wants to be a doctor when she grows up like her mother.  She puts on her little stethoscope and toys come to life.  So Doc, her little helpers Stuffy the Dragon, Hallie the Hippo, Lambie, and Chilly the Snowman help "sick" toys get better.  It's a new show that has only been on a few months, but I think its great and I am sure it will be around for a while.  The theme song is catchy and the content of the show definitely keeps young audiences entertained.  I've actually seen my older kids watching and enjoying it. 

In episode that I watched with my daughter Doc went to the arcade with her father and brother and met Gabby the giraffe who was stuck in the claw machine with a rip in her leg and no one wanted to try and win her.  After trying to grab her using her tokens Doc had no luck, so Stuffy the Dragon climbs in to get her out and then he gets stuck.  So Doc uses her last token to get both Stuffy and Gabby out.  Then comes the "I feel better" song.  And Doc ends up taking her home.  After all she did win her.  There are two episodes per show and there is always a healthy tip as the credits roll. 

I think this is a great show and my two year old absolutely loves it.  She has her own dolls and stuffed animals that I watch her nurture when she plays with them.  I'm not a huge fan of my younger kids watching lots of tv, but if they are gonna watch tv this is a show I don't mind them watching.