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Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Sauce

I've mentioned before that we have homemade pizza most Friday nights around here.  We tend to keep things pretty standard with either a basic tomato sauce or pesto.  We had some red bell peppers sitting around last week, though, so I decided to make a quick red pepper sauce.  It was...perhaps Dan's favorite pizza ever.  Also?  It took about 5 seconds.  Win.

Makes enough for one batch of pizza dough (I like this one)

2 red bell peppers
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
A few cracks of black pepper
1/8 cup olive oil

Turn broiler on high.  Place bell peppers in oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, until charred on one side.  Turn with tongs to char other side.  Remove peppers from oven and place in sealed plastic bag for 5 minutes.

When peppers have cooled slightly, remove from bag and peel off the skins (they should come off easily).  Seed and stem the peppers and place chunks or strips in a food processor or blender (I used my mini prep).  Blend for 5-10 seconds, until slightly smooth.  Add other ingredients and pulse for another 10 seconds, until ingredients are incorporated.

Spread on pizza dough and cover with toppings of your choice (we used fresh mozzarella, Parmesan, caramelized onions, and more bell peppers, with some arugula thrown on after baking).

To Grandmother's House We Ride a Tractor

The kids are going on a sleepover at my parents' house tonight while Dan and I go on a date.  So we decided to put on real clothes for our first venture out of the house for snoweek.  You are impressed by my sense of adventure, I know.

When trying to get them in position, Nat went and stood in his place and kina started walking over.  Nat tried to cajole her the last few feet by attempting to pick her up.  By her neck.

Nat's been wanting a pair of overalls for...ever.  So I finally decided to embrace the farmer inside and "kina" gave him these for Christmas.  I convinced him to remove them from his person for about 1/10000000 of a day "for a picture" and then they went right back on.  Also featured are his "sleigh shoes."

I'm obviously ecstatic that kina has started having fashion opinions, too, and immediately post-picture she tried to insist on wearing ballet flats in the snow.  Like mother unlike daughter.

Happy weekend!

(Linking up with Katie)

In medias "dancing"


It's been a while since the last one but we had a real zinger today so I figured it was a good time.

From today:
Dan: Let's all say something we like about each other.
Nat: I want to go first!  I like the way your eyes are pretty, Mommy.
Preethi: That's so sweet, Natty! What do you like about kina?
N: I like how her eyes are pretty, too.
P: And what do you like about Daddy?
N: I like the way his eyes are ugly.

P: Nat, will you say the prayer for dinner?
N: (singing) Frosty, the snowman...

N: Mommy, I like you.  You're a good girl.

P: (excited for joy school after Christmas break) Guess where we get to go today?
N: To INDIA????

Saying goodnight...
N: I love you, sweet Mommy.

As a little baby made super quiet little noises in church...
N: (loudly) Why is that baby freaking out??

Handing me a rubber duck:
N: This is a boy ducky.
P: Why is it a boy?
Nat: Because it's not a girl.

When we had some of our favorites over and I was putting nat to bed.  He heard everyone laughing...
N: When I get big I'll put kina to sleep and then talk to my friends.  We'll make lots of jokes.

P: Would you like scrambled eggs or oatmeal for breakfast?
N: Heavenly Father doesn't have a mustache, but Jesus has a mustache.

When I was pulling down the ladder to the attic, Nat to kina...
N: Watch out, sweetheart!
P: That's nice, Nat.
N: Yeah, she's my best friend.

Seeing my knotted tee...
N: Why is your shirt going around and around and around?

P: What did you learn about in Nursery?
N: Fish.
P: Oh.  What else?
N: More fish.

After I said he could watch a letters DVD while I finished cleaning/packing:

Running up to kina after church...
N: It's my friend!!!

But in the car...
K: (looking quietly out the window)
N: I'm having a really hard time with kina.
K: ...

N: I just had a snake toot.
P: ...
N:  It said "sssssss" like a snake!

After I told him not to answer the door on his own...
N: This is not your life, this is my life!

About my nail polish...
N: Is there no Target on it?
P: Nope.
N: That's too bad.

Kina fussing in her booster...
N: Don't cry, little one!

P: Okay, so we'll eat lunch and then we'll go to Costco.
N: NO lunch!!! There are samples there!
(True dat.)

As we drove past a certain 5-sided building:
N: It's the Hexagon!!!

S'mores Brownies

We are the luckiest and have a fireplace in our place and maybe it's our favorite thing about our place. It goes without saying that we eat a lot of s'mores around here.

It took me a while but I finally got around to making homemade marshmallows and golly they are better than store-bought ones. It makes a lot, though, and we had a bunch sitting around. Ergo, s'mores brownies.  Because, of course.

I'd been wanting to make the Baked brownie for a while and it is goood. Dense and chewy and ultra chocolatey. And with toasted marshmallow and graham crackers on top? Well, I think I shall go have seconds.

S'mores Brownies
Brownie base adapted just barely from here

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-3 cups marshmallows, prepackaged or homemade
3 graham crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13" glass baking dish.

1. Whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa in medium bowl.

2. Either in a double boiler or in 30-second spurts in the microwave, melt together chocolate and butter (stirring in between spurts).

3. Add 3 eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add remaining 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Stir in vanilla. Do not overbeat or your brownies will be cakey.

4. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a spatula until just combined.

5. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and smooth top.  Bake in the center if the oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs,  rotating the pan halfway through. Turn the oven to broil.

6. Sprinkle marshmallows on top of brownies. Place pan under broiler for 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows are toasted.

7. Break graham crackers into bits and press into marshmallows. Serve with a big glass of milk.

Linking up with the winthrop chronicles

DIY Sequin Border Skirt

I can't for the life of me find where now, but sometime in early December, I saw an image of a leather skirt.  With a sequin border.  And it was gorgeous.  And somewhere in the range of super pricey to astronomical.

Shirt: J.Crew Factory; Skirt: thrifted with the sequin border added by me (fabric from fabric.com); Sweater tights: Target; Sandals: Old Navy; Necklace: Ann Taylor Factory (similar); Purse: Etsy

I remembered I had a black suede leather skirt languishing in my closet.  I liked it, but for some reason, just didn't get to it that often.  I thought it would be perfect for a little upcycling with some sequin fabric I had on hand (mine was from fabric.com, but sadly, it doesn't seem they have it any more).

This whole project took about half an hour start to finish.  Perfect piece and time commitment for some holiday styling, but I also loved making it January-appropriate this last Sunday by dressing it down with some gingham.  Stay tuned next week for some other ways to wear sequins after the holidays!

Wanna do it yourself?  Here's how!

DIY Sequin Border Skirt

1. Measure the width of your skirt at the bottom (I used a pencil skirt for ease so it was the same at the top and bottom of the border).  Double that number and add 3-4" to wrap the ends around the vent.  Determine how tall you want your border (mine was about 3 or 4") and add 1" to that measurement.  Cut your sequin fabric to the appropriate height and width.

2. Because my skirt was suede leather and was very thick, my pins wouldn't go through.  Instead, I folded the top over twice so it wouldn't fray and stuck it to my skirt with painters tape.  (If your skirt is a thinner fabric, feel free to use pins instead).  Then, wrap the fabric all the way around the bottom of the skirt and up and under to the inside.  Fold over twice again and stick or pin in place.

3. Wrap the edges (the short sides) around the back vent so they fold around to the inside of the skirt.

4. Sew (using a heavy duty needle if you have a thick fabric like mine!) with matching thread 1/4-1/2" from the edge (you want to be close to the edge, but you want to make sure you're catching all the layers where you folded so it wouldn't fray) on both the top and the bottom, pulling off tape or pins as you go.

Linking up with the winthrop chronicles

Favorite Recipes of 2013

Told'ya it was coming.  I've been sensing the anticipation all over the InterPlace.  In no particular order because that would be like choosing between children.  Click the picture for the recipe!

So glad to have finally found a chile I really really love.

Easy breezy lemon squeezy.

Perfect summer dish.

Hot Corn & Black Bean Dip: Made this for New Year's Eve.  Made it again a few days later because I'd forgotten how good it was.

I should maybe count the number of recipes on here that use chipotle chilies?  Or maybe not.

Seriously.  It's SO good.

I would not hate this even in subzero temps with frozen peaches.


Really, I'm not a muffin persona and had forgotten about these.  Must make them again.

Still one of my easiest and tastiest recipes.

Favorite Books of 2013

Here's everything I read in 2013.

In no particular order, my...

Five Favorite:

OH, this was tough.  I read some great books this year, especially right at the end.

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon - How could this book NOT be on my list?  Dan and I read it together and both loved it.  I made a bunch of my friends read it and THEY all loved it.  It's just fascinating stuff that's not usually told written in a really gripping way.  A total winner. (Sidenote: I also loved Sheinkin's book about Benedict Arnold.)

Code Name Verity - Another super popular one that deserves the hype.  Historical fiction and terrific.

The Willpower Instinct - Fascinating pop psychology on the science of willpower.

Chasing Lincoln's Killer - James Swanson, I love you.  I've always been fascinated by Lincoln, and this was perfect to listen to right before our trip to Springfield, IL.

Snow Flower & the Secret Fan - I just thought this was gorgeously written with really excellent characterization.  Couldn't put it down.

Bonus! Bossypants.  I bandwagoned and laughed a lot.  Often while I was going on long runs in prep four our half marathon so there was lots of gasping both from being out of shape and it being hilarious.

Five Least Favorite:

State of Wonder - Eight months later and I'm still rolling my eyes at this book's plot/characters/inaccuracies/etc.  I've decided I just really don't like Ann Patchett.  No bandwagoning here.

The Shoemaker's Wife - This started out SO good, so maybe part of my low rating was overly high expectations.  It just had so much potential, and then just petered...not that long in.  The characters just kept doing dumb things and I was annoyed with the plot and it went on foreeeeever.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture - Again, had high hopes.  Again, they were wasted.  Just was not very tightly written, and needed a lot more research backing.  The author's voice was very clear, and it was not a voice I particularly enjoyed.

The Family Fang - Read for a book club and was just...so weird.

Rules of Civility - I didn't HATE this book, but I just really did not love it.  I did not like basically any of the characters, and I also didn't like the person reading it on the audio version.  Perhaps I should shy away from the adult bestsellers and stick with the YA ones?  Whatever that says about me.

5 Favorite Outfits of 2013

Now that I'm on a 2013 review streak, I can't stop.  Sickness.  Look for books and recipes to come.

Also, this obviously only includes the outfits that were blogged.  Which was...not many.

With that rousing intro!

5 My beloved stretchy pencil skirt/tee/sandals combo.  Uniform, indeed.

4 I still struggle with styling these pants, but I love the printed skinnies with neutrals.

3 Circle skirts are my comfort zone.

2 Blazer, colored skinnies, blouse.  Still love it.

1 Flannel, stripes and a scarf.  Cozy and I need to relive it.

Top 13 of 2013

2013 was a fab year, mostly because those babies, you know.  They are not the worst.

Here are some of my faves from the year:

13.  Nats game.  I mean, the excitement.

12. Beach!  We ate enough sand to last the whole summer.

11. Joy School.  Funnest.

10. Camping.  Gorgeous, involved foil packet veggies and Moo Thru, all you need.

9. Learning the Articles of Faith with Nat and reading the Book of Mormon with the kids.  Loved it.

8. Roanoke.  There was a Friday night jamboree and giant lollies.  You may be starting to think our winners involve fun people and good food.  You would not be wrong.

7. Richmond Half Marathon.  Some of our favorites and pizza at the finish line.

6. Vermont - oh, that gorgeous land of cheese and ponies.  We loved you.  Also, Boston & Montreal.  Tops.

5. Holidays.  Astronat, farmers' market birthday party, airplane birthday party, amazing Thanksgiving.  All of it.  Best.

4. Fourth of July in NYC with family.  Seriously, such fun.

And really, the year closed out on such a high note.

3. Advent.  It was perfect.  Seriously, so magical seeing the kids understand and love so much this year.  Made my heart sing whenever Nat recognized verses of scripture in songs and belted them out.

2. Nauvoo and Kirtland, you were every bit as special as I'd dreamed.  And somehow, being there in the winter seemed more authentic.  Standing at the edge of the frozen Mississippi River at the point where the early Saints began their walk to Utah, that there was a highlight.

1. Christmas was such a blast with the fam.  It was a little insane with 8 kiddos under 5 running around but it was seriously SO fun.  We already miss the games (hello, Taboo and Wii dance game) and the museums (St. Louis, you know how to do interactive museums.  I'm looking at you, Magic House and City Museum. Even if I thought I might die at the latter.).

Bonus 14! (Or 0?)  The day to day.  Cooking with the kids, figuring out some go-to quick recipes, watching Friends reruns, Nat potty training, organizing and paring down stuff, music, reading books, all of it, except those hours from about 5-6pm each day.  Didn't usually love those.

Thanks, 2013.  You rocked.