Friday, November 30, 2012

A Fall Family Tradition: Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Ok, I know that Fall is pretty much over and that it's almost Christmas time.

Oh, who am I kidding?  Thanksgiving has come and gone, Black Friday is over, and we are basically counting down the days 'til Christmas.

 Nonetheless, I've had it floating around in my cluttered, exhausted brain that I wanted to share this little  pumpkin story/recipe.  Finding the time, however, is another story entirely. So although we have pretty much said goodbye to pumpkin and have welcomed cranberries into our pantries, please indulge me for a moment, k?

Growing up in the South, we always looked forward to that first cold snap of the season.  If you've never experienced a southern summer, then you cannot fully appreciate the relief that the first "cool" day brought.  And when I say cool, I mean when our temperatures actually dropped below 80 degrees.  By Canadian standards, it was still summer.  But, oh boy...let me tell you: for those of us born and raised in the south, that first Fall day had the power to make you forget the heat and humidity and it would suddenly feel like Christmas was on its way.  If Starbucks had existed back then, that first fall day would have warranted a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

But, we didn't have Starbucks.  (Age revealer?).  We did, however, have my mom.  My dad, brother, and I, that is.  And she made THESE on the first cold day of every fall:

Behold pumpkin chip cookies.  If it's possible to bundle fall in a cookie, then these do it!  And because it's now a family tradition that both my brother and I have passed on to our kids, I wanted to share my favorite part of fall with you.  Here's the step-by-easy-step of my childhood. I mean my favorite cookies:

First, you mix up the stuff that should be in any good cookie: butter and sugar.

Mix it 'til it's nice and fluffy.

Then you add some pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla...

And mix it until it looks like this:

Then have your kid come help you mix up the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon).  And maybe, if you're lucky, they'll throw up a peace sign like mine did.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones....

...but just a little bit at a time. You don't want your fancy mixer to break under all the stress!

Once it's all done mixing, it should look like this:

But, then you add the "chip" part of the cookies...chocolate chips.  Mix it by hand. And by hand I mean with a spatula.  Unless you actually want to do it with your hands. I trust you'll make the right decision.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an un-greased baking sheet.

And bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and congratulate yourself for making your house smell so good. And if your kids are anything like mine, food is their love language and they will sing your praises and beg you for "at least 5 cookies...because they're so small."  At least that's what my oldest tries to pull.  

So there you have pumpkin chip cookies.  Some of my favorite memories growing up involve these little guys...making them, eating them, giving them away for teacher gifts (which I now do with my boys teachers), and coming through the door from school on that first cold day of the fall and smelling these.

Spoiler alert! I'm crying now. Because I'm so grateful for memories like these.  They carry me through this season of being apart from my parents and my brother.  We still group text each other on that first cold day of the season and say "it's a pumpkin chip cookie day!"  It warms my heart and makes me so grateful that, although we live in 3 different cities, the 4 of us still have a strong bond that no distance can take away.

Now go make some memories and bake some cookies!!!

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips (I always use a little less...closer to 3/4 of a cup)

  1. Cream butter and sugar together 'til fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon).
  4. Add the the dry ingredients to the wet ones a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and mix until well incorporated.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or 'til lightly browned.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Joy of A Boy

So, I was deleting some pictures off of my i-phone because, apparently, they have a 2,000 picture limit.  Who knew?! And as I was scrolling through the last year and a half, I realized how many pictures I had of my boys playing in dirt, playing with worms (or some other kind of bug), or just being all-out boys.  Case in point:  

And I realized, while looking at all of our weird and wonderful memories,  that my boys have taught me how to have joy in such little, seemingly insignifcant things. Like finding a dead worm on the sidewalk.

Don't get me wrong.  I do not enjoy finding dead worms on the sidewalk.  But they do!  It's like Christmas morning for them.  How they stop and lay down on the ground and hover their noses above the nasty dead thing before them.  It's kinda funny to think of an adult doing the same thing, right?  Totally socially-unacceptable for a grown man or woman to lay on the sidewalk and just stare at something for an inappropriate length of time.  But for a kid, its ok.  Right?

Seth prefers catching ants. I have no answers for these things. I fail to understand my kids.

Finding slugs are just as good as finding worms.  Better, actually. 

Ladybugs are ok in a pinch

So go find some joy with your kiddos today!!  Maybe it's a worm walk (as we call them in our house) or maybe a splash walk through the rain (because if you are near me, it is raining. every day. until at least next June.)  But whatever you do, do it joyfully!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Recipe From My Best Friend

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Pioneer Woman is my best friend.

Ree Drummond, aka: The Pioneer Woman.

Granted, she has no idea who I am.  And she certainly has never heard of my blog.  But that's okay.  I have high hopes of meeting her one day and presenting her with my running list of reasons for why we should be best friends.  Or at least pen pals.

Until then, let me share one of my favorite recipes with you from her first cook book.

If you don't own this cookbook, go buy it.  Right now.  Literally!  Run to your nearest Target (if you're blessed to have one near you, unlike me) or Barnes and Noble or whatever store is close to you and BUY THIS BOOK.  (See Ree?  I'm promoting you. We should be best friends. Call me maybe?)

On to the real reason we're here: FOOD!

So, let me start by saying that my children have a slight obsession with meatballs.  Seriously.  As long as something is round and has the appearance of a meatball, they will eat it.  It can be turkey, it can be beef, it can be pork, it can be homemade or the frozen store-bought ones you throw in your crock pot and serve as an appetizer at a football game.  (Er...I mean hockey game. I'm still trying to get used to my new-found Canadian roots.)  But you get my drift?  The boys love 'em.  I always welcome new meatballs into my repertoire.  So, when I saw this recipe in her cookbook, I knew it was going to be one of my first ones to try.

Introducing comfort meatballs.

These were a pleasant surprise because my husband hates meatloaf.  And these meatballs taste like bite-sized bits of heavenly meatloaf.  He will argue with you, of course, and insist that they don't taste anything like meatloaf. But after you read this and you go home and make these, like I know you will, I'm sure you'll agree with me that they do in fact taste just like really really really good meatloaf.  And every bite has ketchup on it.  Which is the best part anyway, am I right?

And if you, like my man, dislike meatloaf...give these a try.  You may share the same tastebud DNA as him and think they just taste like good 'ol fashioned meatballs. If there is such a thing.

(...I think at this point, it's fair to offer a disclaimer that this recipe is in no way, shape or form a part of our clean-eating system.  But my oldest boy asked me to please, please, please make meatballs because it had been a while, so I did.  And now I'm sharing with you because I felt like, hey, some of you aren't doing the eating-clean thing, and you might enjoy these bad boys. Some of you may just need ideas for food that your kids will actually eat.  So, here they are. Blame my son, ok?).

These meatballs aren't the store-bought-frozen-ones you make in a crock-pot, as I mentioned earlier.  No sir. These are homemade.  You combine the meat with some oatmeal, milk, a little onion, salt and pepper.  I used lean ground turkey, because, although it's not necessarily a "clean" meal, I still feel an obligation to feed my family a certain way.  But, hey, you can use whatever meat you have in your freezer or whatever is on sale.  I'm not judging!

After your roll them up into their meatball shape, stick them in the fridge for a bit, about 45 minutes, just to firm 'em up.

After they are nice and cold, take them out of the fridge (or if you're like me and always forget this step because you don't have 45 extra minutes for your meatballs to just be sitting there when they should be cooking, take them out of your FREEZER after a 15 good minutes in there.'s my shortcut. Don't tell PW.)  

Now we dredge the meatballs in some flour and brown them in canola oil (or, if you're like me, you'll use some coconut oil!).

Can I just pause for a minute to brag on my little electric skillet here?  This is one of the few items Ryan and I bought when we were first married almost (cough cough) 10 years ago.  It's one of my favorite versatile kitchens items.  At the risk of sounding like Bubba, you can fry in it, saute in it, make pancakes in it in the morning and make a stir-fry in it at night. It has sides so you can make big batches of things without the risk of spilling over.  Let's  have one more look at her:

As the picture above shows, when the meatballs begin to get brown, put them in a 9x13. Or if it's dirty and you don't feel like washing it out, like yours truly, then grab 2 smaller dishes. Voila! Problem solved.

Stir together the sauce ingredients (which you'll find below).  And pour the sauce all over the meatballs.  Make sure each meatball feels some of the love, ok?  Don't let any of those guys go without sauce. 

As a small side note, to make the sauce, it requires minced onion.  How do you mince your onion?  I use THIS:  

It's not a slap chop, but it's the same idea.  Mine is the pampered chef brand and, much like my electric skillet up there, I love this little gadget.  It keeps my tears to a minimum, literally, and minces  my onion up so fast it takes about 15-20 seconds. think of all the years I spent without this little guy.

Speaking of little guys...this is what my 3 guys were doing while I made dinner:

 Amazing, isn't it?  I put newspaper and paint down and said "go."  Worked like a charm.

Back to the meatballs!

Stick them in the oven for 45 minutes or until they are bubbly and hot. Watch and be amazed as your kids hover around your oven waiting for dinner.

When they are ready, serve them to a house full of hungry boys.  Or, whoever you are blessed to feed.

In my case, it's boys boys boys. And I love it! 

Now go make some meatballs!

Comfort Meatballs
from: The Pioneer Woman, aka Ree Drummond

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (or turkey or pork)
3/4 cup quick oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper
(and, if you are feeling healthy, throw some wheat germ in there...I did!)

1. In a bowl, combine all of the above.
2. Roll the mixture into tablespoon sized balls and refrigerate 30-45 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350.
4. Heat 4 tablespoons canola oil (or coconut oil!) in a large skillet over med heat.
5. Dredge the meatballs in some flour.
6. Brown the meatballs until light brown.
7. As they brown, stick them in a 9x13.

1 cup ketchup 
2 tablespoons sugar (or you could use honey or agave nectar; just slightly decrease the amount to 1 or 1 1/2 tablespoons as agave is sweeter than sugar)
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
4-6 tablespoons minced onion

1. Stir together all of the above and pour evenly over the meatballs.
2. Bake for about 45 minutes, or til hot and bubbly.

Serve with mashed potatoes, or even better...quinoa!! 

I promise that the next time I post a recipe, it will be a clean-eats recipe. :)

Until next time, my friends!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writers-Block, Anyone?

Ok, so it's been a while.

A very long, silent, and slightly uncomfortable, while.  I've been asked about the blog and why I seemingly stepped away or got too busy for it. (Too busy? a stay-at-home-mama with 3 loud and crazy boys? pfff...).  No, the real reason for my "absence" is a prolonged case of writers-block.  Allow me to explain:

1. We moved to Vancouver in January from Alabama.  If you've followed my blog in the past, you know this, so I won't re-hash into all of it. But if you are new, you can read this old blog to bring you up to speed.

2.  We not only moved, but we moved into my in-laws house.  Now, let me preface what I am about to say with this: I have a terrific, fantastic, beautiful relationship with my in-laws. They let us live with them for 9 months and invade their space, their kitchen, their yard, and their lives with our "stuff."  But, I do believe that when God said to "leave your father and mother's house and cling to your wife",  he knew what he was sayin'!  It's hard living with parents again, especially once children are in the mix.  It's a little un-natural.  And, for the record, I want to honor my in-laws with my words about them, because they truly gave so selflessly for so long, but I feel that I can speak for them when I say...they felt the same as we did. Come September, it was time for us TO GO! :)

3. I home-schooled our kindergartner last semester.  Enough said.

...So, what I am trying to say here is this: not only was life a little topsy-turvy for my Friesen Five boys and I, it was downright hard.  Hard, hard, hard.  I decided that blogging about my hard times and the hard lessons God was teaching just wasn't necessary.  Who wants to listen to a complainer, right?  Not me.  Plus, my mom taught me well: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  So I've still been writing, almost daily, just not for everyone else to see.  It's been a steady flow of conversation between me and the Lord and it's been GOOD.

So, I'm back now!  In my up-coming blogs I am excited to share about some of the lessons I've learned through this last year.  I'll also post a few pics of the new house for my friends down south who've been harassing me about it. I mean asking me about it.  I may even post some pictures of my weird kids and share some new recipes.  We've been doing this eating-clean thing and I figured I could share some of what I've learned.  Stick around!

Ok, go have a great day. Or night. Depends on your time zone I guess.

And because we've been away for a while, you've missed out on the beautiful weirdness of my kids.  I feel the need to share the love:

He's from Alabama. Oh yes he is.

Why do men like to play the guitar in their underwear?


Lots of Love to you all...

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I've  found myself missing a few things here lately.  American things.  Like Panera Bread, for example. There was one particularly cold day and I thought to myself, "mmm...a nice bowl of tomato soup and a salad from Panera would be so nice." Sniffle sniffle.

I also miss Hobby Lobby.  OH! How I miss Hobby Lobby.  If you aren't familiar with this funny-sounding store, it is an arts and crafts mecca that typically sells things for super cheap.  Michael's, the less-than-stellar and way-more-expensive alternative, is all that's to be found here in Canada.  I wish I had enough money in my back pocket to open up my own HL franchise here.  The locals would be in love. They'd thank this American girl for bringing the light of all things crafty to the North.  And I would be able to afford to do crafts again.  God bless you, Hobby Lobby.

I miss Blue Bell ice cream in all it's yummy deliciousness.  The first time I visited Vancouver, I was literally stunned when I found out they didn't have Blue Bell at the grocery store.  I'd never had any other ice cream in my life.  Who is Ben and Jerry? What is a Breyer ice cream? There is only Blue Bell, I thought to myself. I was even convinced that they must have run out.  It was much later that this Texas native (that's me, by the way) found out that Blue Bell is actually only sold in about 26% of the USA.  So, obviously, it ain't in Canadia. (I spelled that right. I was going for a solid Texas twang there.)  Anyway, I am now being exposed to other kinds of ice cream. But, nothing, again I say NOTHING, comes close to being in the same category as Blue Bell.  If anyone wants to ship me Blue Bell, I wouldn't argue with you.  (The most ironic part of this whole thing? I'm lactose-intolerant, so I can only have ice cream in super small doses. But, still...if I'm gonna subject my body to should be the best lactose on the market: Blue Bell.)


I miss Super Target and it almost pains me to think about it.  There is a regular Target right across the border in Washington.  So, I go there approximately once a week and stock up on their awesome diapers and Rotel and other non-Canadian things.  But, I think we can all agree that there is a massive difference between a regular Target and a Super Target.  The main difference being that one is SUPER.  Here's a regular Target:

And there is nothing wrong with a regular Target. It's what I grew up knowing.  But then the Target Corp. introduced the bigger, better, brother of Target:

You see the difference?  I miss you Super Target.

There are many more things I miss at random moments during the week. Like Pandora Radio (yes, you read that right. You can't get Pandora up here in Canada).  I miss Chic-fil-a and Barnes and Noble.  But more than anything, I miss these people right here:

My dad, Noah, and my mom (2006)

My family at Disney World,  2010

My Grandad and my nephew, Caden

My brother (and my kid)

I miss doing things like this:

lazy i-pad and i-phone days for the cousins

1 of many mowing the lawn days with my dad

An evening of arm-wrestling with grandad

As much as I miss all that other stuff, the ice cream and the stores and the restaurants, I miss these people way more!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homeschooling...the impossible possibility.

Along with all the other new things in our household, we started homeschooling this month. And by "we," I mean "I".  I started homeschooling our kindergartener.  No, I'm not crazy. There are a lot of reasons behind this decision, but it boils down to this: the Lord made it clear that this was our only option at this crossroads in our life. Even though it was never, ever, EVER something I would have pictured myself doing, here I am. And, because I know HE is in it,  I am jumping in and doing this with a joyful heart.

So, here are a few pictures of our first few weeks. (Which have been crazy and fun and exhausting and by day 2,  I was ready to start calling schools for enrollment options.  But, we got through it. )

This is our school room.  It was a great surprise to me when we arrived at my in-laws house to find this little room set-up for us. I added some of the school touches (the white board and behavior chart, etc.).  It was one of those unexpected blessings that I appreciate every day.

Noah's behavior chart. He gets a treat out of the treasure box on Friday if he stays off red all week.

1st day of school.

During our second week of school, we studied the Egyptians.  Noah got to make a mummy:

We paused for a minute the other day to check out the snow coming down hard. And, yes, we did go outside for "recess."  It was a cold one!

Here's one of many outside break times with Seth and Mollie (that's our dog.  Remember her? She's a giant now.  She has lots of super-neat talents, too! Like she can eat plastic, wood, even her own poop. If it's not chained to the ground, she eats it! Isn't that so super awesome? cough cough)

What can I say? A boy and his dog. 

As I mentioned in my last post, the first couple days were pretty hard and the first day in particular ended with 3 blood-shedding incidents between my younger 2 sons.  To Noah's credit, he plowed right through his school work without getting distracted by the screaming and the agonizing cries of his younger 2 siblings. I, however, found myself getting frazzled.  By the end of day 2, I needed a glass of wine. 

This was the start of day 2. The calm before the storm.

We are now in a regular schedule of starting school at 9 and ending at 11. If you know me at all, you know I like my schedules!  (Babywise, anyone?)  So, we are in a routine and it is in no small part due to my sister-in-law and mother-in-law.  They have helped me with my 2 little ones almost every day since day 3.   Because of them, I get almost 2 hours of un-interrupted time working with Noah.  It is pure bliss and something I fully did not expect.  Another not-so-little thing I was surprised and blessed by!

When Ryan and I made the decision for me to homeschool Noah, I emailed 2 women in particular about how to approach this. I was confused, I was nervous, and I was convinced that Noah would end-up either stupid or a social shut-out.  I know we are only 3 weeks in, but it's calmed my nerves and I can see the light in the homeschool tunnel. At least til the end of kindergarten. I can't think of 1st grade yet, or I'll have a nervous breakdown. But for now, we are settled and we are good. A HUGE thank you to Jenny and Nora. They've been my #1 supporters and coaches through this.