Oct 30, 2009

Steph's White Bean & Sausage Soup

This is a recipe of my good friend Stephanie Jensen. It was in our ward cook book and I finally tried it a couple of weeks ago. I have made it a couple of times and always get raving reviews and requests for the recipe. I made it with Amber's breadsticks and it was a perfect meal for a cold snowy day! I've never gotten a real copy of Amber's recipe for the breadsticks, she just explained it over the phone, so hopefully the verbage makes sense, and hopefully I didn't miss anything. Thanks, Amber & Steph for the yummy recipes!

White Bean & Sausage Soup

4 (15 oz) cans of white cannellini beans, drained
2 (32 oz) cans or boxes of chicken broth
2 (28 oz) cans dices tomatoes (I like to do 1 can of the italian-style tomatoes)
2 lbs mild Italian sausage (next time I'm going to try 1 package of hot sausage & 1 turkey sausage)
2 oz fresh basil (I used dried basil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook sausage in frying pan until cooked through (and crumbled). In large pot, add sausage and then add all other ingredients. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Amber's bread sticks

2 cups flour + 1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp active dry yeast (2 packets)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Garlic salt
Parmesan cheese (in can)
1 1/2 cubes butter

Mix 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar & salt with 1 1/2 cups warm water in kitchen aid mixer (it will be pasty). Add 1 1/2 cups flour (add 3-4 tablespoons more, if it's sticky). Knead bread for in kitchen aid mixer (with hook attachment) for a couple of minutes . Flour counter, form bread into mound and place on counter. Cover dough with dishtowel and let rise for 15 minutes. Place cookie sheet in oven with 1 cube butter (to melt). Roll out dough into a large square and cut with pizza cutter into long, narrow strips. Fold each strip in half, place ends together and twist dough. Roll each twist in the melted butter and place back on cookie sheet. Sprinkle bread sticks with a little garlic salt & Parmesan cheese. Let rise another 15 minutes. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes--watch closely! After baking, I like to melt 1/2 cube of butter and brush or drizzle on top.

Oct 27, 2009

SLC Gourmet Club

We had another amazing gourmet club the other night. They did a "Ghouls Night Out" theme--how cute is that!? Go HERE to see pics and to get fabulous recipes and fun ideas for entertaining! I'll add more details and give you a sneak-peak later, since I'm all blogged out for today!

Happy birthday, Mama Hanson!

We went to my parents house on Sunday to have a little birthday dinner for my mom. Her birthday was on Thursday, Oct. 22nd. My dad was out of town on her birthday, so he reminded her several times that her "real" birthday was on Sunday, and that she couldn't think about it before then. She was actually sick on her "real" (don't tell Dad I said that) birthday so it ended up working out to celebrate on Sunday.
For dinner, I made a White Bean & Sausage Soup, with homemade bread sticks & a really good salad. I'd never made the soup or the salad, but they were both keepers. Janelle made a pumpkin sheet cake, which was super tasty. My mom told us some neat stories about growing up (from a autobiography her sister Pat wrote). It was cool to hear the stories and to reminisce about the times we had growing up.
Happy birthday to the best mom & grandma in the world!
My mom is amazing.
A few things about my mom...
She is always thinking of things she can do for others.
Both she and my dad are such great examples of selflessness and compassion.
She is a great cook and homemaker.
She always puts others needs before her own, particularly her family's.
My mom is an amazing teacher.
She is a bookaholic and loves to learn.
She loves the Utah Jazz.
She loves playing games (even though my dad hates them!)
She is the ultimate friend.
I am grateful for the example and strength she is in my life. I rely so much on her support and advice and she never leads me astray. I love being to live so close to her now and spend so much more time with her. Sienna is so lucky to be able to have such an amazing grandma (who spoils and loves her to death!). Love your guts, mom! You're the best!

The Girls--Janelle, mom & me (miss you, Carolyn!)
Rob feeling left out

Brad, Grandma & me
Dan & Rob gaming it up (looking ever-so competitive). This is serious gaming going on.
My dad and Sienna. She really loves spending time with my parents.
Sienna was fascinated by Uncle Brad's scooby-doo shirt (pointing out the dog and saying "ruff, ruff...". Somehow it never gets old!)

Sienna is finally standing and just starting to take a few steps. Come on, she's 14 1/2 months! It's about time, don't you think? It's not like I'm in a rush, but I think I'd rather have her walking. It's not like she's not getting into things when she crawls, and her clothes are nasty and she is constantly finding things to put in her mouth. Maybe walking will slow her down a little.

....and she's down!

Oct 17, 2009

Corn Belly Maze at Thanksgiving Point

I love being able to bundle up in a sweater (and hide the fat rolls), wear cute knee-high boots, sip hot cocoa, go to pumpkin patches, canyon drives, carving pumpkins, fresh fruits & veggies from the garden, the vibrant changing colors of the leaves, farmer's markets, the crisp fresh air, making caramel apples, yummy homemade pies (not made by me!), the list could go on and on...

Thanksgiving Point has a really fun fall festival going on right now, The Corn Belly Maze. They have tons of activities (including these awesome "jumping pillows"--I've never seen anything like them!). We met up with our good friends Amber & Tad Baltzer who were in town from California. It was so fun to spend time with them and their boys--wish we could hang out more often!
Sienna definitely has a good selection to choose from with just the Baltzer boys--I think she picked Micah. Little flirt. ;) It's perfect. He's just a couple weeks older than her!
The pumpkin canon was (of course) the boys favorite thing to do. Boys will be boys!

The train ride through the corn fields

Yes, Sienna is now off the bottle (pardon the phrase!) and 100% sippy cup. The whole weaning process wasn't too bad. I think I was more attached to it than she was.
Sienna didn't want to sit still for a family shot, so this is the best one we got!

They make a cute couple, don't you think!? :)

Sienna's favorite part was this little pumpkin maze. She was having the best time just crawling around, climbing over the pumpkins, trying to pull of the stem, biting them, etc... She was loving it, so giggly and smiley. I was totally wishing that I had Emily with me to take some professional shots with a nice camera! Next time!
Here's one of me and Amber (and Sienna and little Dane).
Dan, Holly, Amber & Tad on the ginormous Corn Belly rocker. It was huge!
(If Dan were here, he would have just said "That's what she said!")

Oct 15, 2009

Park City

I had a social work conference up in Park City a couple of weeks ago, so Dan and Sienna came up and stayed overnight with me at the hotel. The conference was actually really good, and it was fun to have Dan & Sienna to play with at night and at lunch. I love Park City! I especially love main street. They have such quaint, cool restaurants and always have fun things going on. We went to dinner at Chimayo, which I've been wanting to try. It was good, but I think it looked prettier than it tasted! (If I were going to spend that kind of money on dinner, I would definitely go to Wahso instead...next time!). Anyway, we went to Loco Lizard for lunch the next day and we were both huge fans! We actually liked it way better than Chimayo...and it was way cheaper! Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, there was snow on the ground! So wrong! I'm definitely not ready for winter...especially not in September! I'm just glad that it wasn't a bad enough snowstorm to leave all the trees bare. The trees were still super colorful, even with a little snow/frost on them. Wish I would've gotten a picture or two!

I love this picture!
fancy schmancy...

I had to post these pictures. I'm sure these will be used for blackmailing Sienna when she's a teenager! It's amazing how quickly this kid can tear apart a room, which she did to our hotel room. I just turned my back for a second and she had the entire tampon box out and was trying to hold (and chew!) as many as she could. She was totally fascinated! So funny!

Oct 13, 2009

We're building!!

Things have been a little crazy at the Dixon household these days. I guess the biggest news is that we are building a house! Crazy, I know. We really had no intentions of building, since there are such great deals for existing homes, but everything just kind of fell into place with this house. We are building just north of Thanksgiving Point. We went to look at a house we found on the MLS and to just check out the community (with no intentions of actually building there!). We checked out a few of the model homes and really liked the community. Then we found out they were offering a new incentive (since they are just starting phase 2) and are finishing your basement for free! They also give you a nice landscaping allotment. We'll also get the $4,000 Utah grant, since we'll be in a contract by Nov. 30th. We're hoping that there will be some sort of a federal incentive in 2010, but who knows!? We are definitely spending more than we planned, but it's worth it to have the finished basement. We are super excited, though it still feels pretty surreal. We're finalizing our options this week, and it should be started in the next month. It's insane how quickly things add up. It's also insane what they consider an upgrade--like AC. Are you kidding me!? It's not really an option...but you have to pay for it, since it actually IS an option/upgrade. It's also interesting to see the difference between my needs/wants list and Dan's. For example, the fireplace is on my NEED list (come on, who moves to Utah and doesn't have a fireplace where they can hang their stockings and cuddle in front of the fire during the cold snowy days!). Dan needs the mandoor in the garage, surround sound wiring, and a gas line for the grill. We're compromising and I think we're doing a pretty good job. So, they say it should take about 5 months to build, which means we're looking at moving in sometime in the Spring (we hope!). We are grateful to be in a position to buy and are looking forward to having our own place! It seems like a great community--complete with a church, parks, a baseball field, and a clubhouse with a pool. Here's a few sketches of the house and the community. With the finished basement we'll end up having 5 bedrooms, so know that you always have a place to stay when you're in Utah!

It'll look a lot like this house, only with stucco/rock instead of the siding. Cute, huh!?

Oct 11, 2009

This is what happens....

...when you give Sienna a spoon!

I know I need to do better at just strippin' her down and letting her have at it, but I'll be honest, the mess makes me a little tense. I know she needs to learn to do it herself, but man, it's so much easier (and cleaner) to just do it myself!

So domestic!

So I had my first canning experience this year! I made yummy apple pie filling with my friend Emily, then Dan, myself, Cory & Chels made salsa. It was quite the adventure! I've wanted to learn how, so it was a good learning experience. Fortunately we had lots of fresh ingredients from Roger & Deanne's garden that we could put to good use. Both turned out super tasty! I'll have to post the recipes when I have some time.

Fun stuff!

My good friend Emily Vandyke is super talented. She designs fabulous jewelry (a good friend for me to have, since I'm a jewelry lover!). Emily came to our Relief Society retreat in Heber this past weekend and helped us/taught us how to make jewelry. I wish I had some pictures from the weekend, but I forgot my camera. Right now Emily is doing a really fun interchangeable earring set that is very simple, inexpensive and super cute! (Essentially 3 pairs of earrings in one, for the price of one!). This is just a sample, there are actually a bunch of different beads to choose from.

This is one of my favorites pairs (I love turquoise!)

So, if you're wanting a fun idea for an enrichment group, for a girl's night or if you're looking for a great Christmas or Birthday gift (or stocking stuffer's) just contact Emily and set something up. For all you young women leader's or mom's who have teenage daughter, she also is doing a really cute set of interchangeable earrings which are the young women values colors. You can also set up a time to go to her house (in American Fork) and pick out your own custom-made creation. Her blog is http://www.sassandsavvyjewelry.blogspot.com/. On her blog she also has a link to her etsy site, which has tons of cute stuff.

Also check out her photography blog at evandykephotography.blogspot.com. She did my bridal pictures, our engagements pictures, Sienna's newborn and a bunch of others. Here are some of my favorites...

Here's a couple more of my cute niece Ella.

Emily does an amazing job and her prices are really reasonable. Right now she is giving a free 8X10 with every photo shoot. Now is the perfect time to get those family pictures done in time for Christmas cards (I can't believe it that's time again!). I love that Emily gives printed proofs from the session and includes the cd of your edited images/negatives so you can print them whenever you want. I think it's rare to find photographers who do that.