Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day and Family

First off.........

Well actually Happy Belated Father's Day to all the men in my life who are fathers, grandfathers, and uncles. I hope you had a great day! Here is Clark with his favorite girls when we showered him with his cards and gifts. The cake was Katelyn's gift. I bought a plain store bought cake and some decorating gels and did the words myself. Laura gave him a game.....that he can play with her. I guess she liked the game she got me for Mother's Day so much that she had to get a game for daddy for Father's Day. LOL! Clark loved it though. We played it tonight and it was fun. Laura won even. :)

Today was also a day for family. First off, here is an old picture I dug up. It was taken nearly 3 years ago at an Oyler family reunion. Laura was about 9 months old in this picture. Her cousin Jaron (or is it Jarom...I'm telling you I can't keep the Oyler names straight, I love them but there's just too many of them and we see them so little that I draw name blanks 5 minutes after they leave, I'm horrible with names, so if any Oylers are peaking in.....please set me straight) was close to 1 or already 1 when this picture was taken.

Now here they are 3 years later. Look how they've grown! They got along great too. Which was nice since Laura has been a pistol playing with other kids her age lately.

So we spent the afternoon with family. My father-in-law Rick and my sister-in-law Kathy live semi-locally. We probably would have spent Father's Day together anyhow. But they came over for a bbq (thanks to master griller, Clark) because some of the Oyler family was in town briefly. Uncle Dean (one of my late mother-in-law's brothers for those that don't know them...probably most of my blog readers), aunt Claudia and their 3 daughters, 3 son-in-laws and grandson were on a cruise this past week. Their port of call was Long Beach, which is pretty much our backyard. So before heading home, most of them came over for a bbq. Heather and her husband (see an example of how I forget names) weren't able to make it, they just drove straight on home to Utah after the cruise. But we saw them briefly last week when they arrived. (we car sat for them) But we had the rest of the family here. It was a great visit....even if I did start to get a bit too much sun and had to go be anti-social and sit in the cool of the living room while everyone else enjoyed the outdoors. I got a group photo of everyone together:
Back: Allison's husband (another example of name forgetting), Allison, Stacy, Stacy's husband (yes forgetting again...I know they are all laughing at me by now), Kathy, Claudia, Clark, Dean
Front: Jaron (or is it Jarom?), Rick holding Laura, and Katelyn
We really enjoyed the brief visit! We wish more of the Utah relatives would come visit. Of course we know that goes both ways....we need to get up to Utah more often too. But hey....just remember all you Oylers.......California has Disneyland, Sea World, Legoland, Knott's Berry Farm, and the yeah come and visit us. We're all waiting! :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dinner Time

Dinner time is always interesting in our home. First off, we have pretty picky eaters for kids. Even with foods they like they will fight you on eating some nights. So we get creative to get them to eat. We have a 1 bite of each food on the plate per age of child. (Laura is 3 so it's 3 bites for her as an example) We also have a weekly chart for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each meal they don't fight eating they get a sticker for. At the end of the week they get fake money we are calling Raile Dollars. A full week of stickers gets 1 Raile Dollar. Raile Dollars can be used for a $1 Store visit or can be saved for something bigger like a new movie, book, game or bigger toy. So far this incentive program is working wonders for both girls. We still have moments but they know those times they won't get a sticker. Also on nights we have dessert, they must earn the sticker or no dessert.

Another thing about the girls is that one is like her daddy and loves meat. Steaks, ribs, ground beef, kielbasa, chicken, ham, hot dogs..... give Laura anything along those lines and she's in heaven. But she will fight you on veggies and fruits. Then there's big sister who loves veggies and fruit and really does not like meat or chicken. Oh she'll eat the occasional hot dog and McD's cheeseburger without a fight. And she does love turkey kielbasa in pasta dishes or stir fried rice. She does love seafood. But for the most part she's not a huge meat or poultry eater. Just doesn't like the taste of it. We do try and add more veggies as side dishes to make her happy. But lately I have been on the search for vegetarian main dish meals.

So that brings us to tonight. I found our first dish to try. It uses polenta. Now I ate this alot on my mission. It was pretty good. But the members there made it from a mix and I have been reluctant to try it. Recently I learned that I can buy it in ready made tubes here. Wow. Took me long enough to learn that. LOL! So I was thrilled to be able to try this new recipe. Here goes:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped
1 (14 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
3/4 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese
1 (16 ounce) tube ready-made polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly oil a 8x8-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in green pepper, garlic, and green onions; cook until the pepper softens, about 3 minutes. Pour in marinara sauce and simmer 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Mix together fontina and provolone in a bowl. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange 1/3 of the polenta slices in the dish, top with 1/3 the fontina and provolone mixture. Spread a thin layer of sauce over cheese. Repeat layers twice. Top casserole with Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

I made a few changes to it. I added half a yellow onion, chopped and 1 zucchini, chopped to the mixture that goes into the marinara sauce. A little bit of salt and pepper to it too. For the cheese, I used the fontina and then a package of 6 cheese blend that uses fontina, mozzarella, asiago, and 3 other white cheeses. Most of us love extra cheese in dishes that call for it so it works out to be double the cheese the recipe calls for. I skipped the Parmesan cheese part by accident but didn't miss it. Also I couldn't find a 14 oz jar of marinara sauce anywhere. All I could find was a 24 oz jar. Worked out fine for us. Just like the cheese, my family loves extra sauce. Plus it evens it out with adding the extra onion and zucchini to it. And the polenta, I also could not find in the size the recipe calls for. The tubes I found were like a 20 oz or 24 oz. I just used the plain. Next time I'm going to try the basil-garlic polenta. I served it with steamed broccoli, a family favorite. But a salad would great with this dish and crusty bread too.

Here are some pictures I took. Looks like I dished up a lot but really the serving wasn't that huge. LOL! Picture just came out wierd.

And the results?
I thought it was delicious but then I've tried polenta before. I loved the slight crunch the zucchini added to the dish along with the extra cheese and sauce.
Clark, who was slightly skeptical about the dish because it was meatless, loved it too. He even had seconds. That says a lot for this meal. He doesn't do seconds very often these days.
Katelyn loved it! She was really excited to try this dinner when I told her last night about it. It made her happy that I made a dinner with no meat just for her. She asked that I make it tomorrow night too. I told her she is in a family of meat eaters and so she is going to have to compromise. Some nights she will have to eat meat. But I told her that I'm going to look for more recipes that use no meat and we'll eat half the week like that for her. So we'll all compromise. She was pleased with that.
Laura....well she's started fighting mealtimes recently. But she ate. She ate all the broccoli I put on her plate. And she ate half of the casserole. She was so funny. She kept saying that she didn't like polenta, she only liked meat. But then she shove a huge piece of polenta and sauce into her mouth and proclaim "This is really good mommy!" She ate more than her required 3 bites...she ate like 10. All while saying she really didn't like it. Broccoli is about the only veggie she eats willingly too (she loves eating trees!). But she chomped on the zucchini just fine and saying they were good.
So this is definitely a meal that will be made again in our house.