The Homies: Ezra turns 3!

Recently my youngest homie Ezra turned 3. He's a big boy. I often laugh and describe him as if he was a minion that was magically turned into a real boy!

What is it that people say? "He's daddy's boy!" or "just like daddy". I suppose its because he's so "rough and tumble", stubborn, hard-headed, and built like a tank. Even though I would like to think its because he's so handsome and smart. He also has that blond almost white hair that still hasn't went away. I love it!

Before he had his own little birthday party in his pre-school room another little child did and they gave out party hats. Ezra loves those pointy dunce cap looking party hats! He tried to wear it to bath and to bed for two days! And that was after playing outside all afternoon with it on!

Good thing both the wifey and I know how to cook because it helps save money on the grocery bill! BOTH boys can pack some "groceries" away!

Some Days...

I haven't added a whole lot of content here recently as you may have noticed. Between family, work, and life in general I get lost in not caring about writing another blog post. Yes. That's the truth. I start thinking about all the food websites, blogs, videos, and Facebook pages out there and it tires me out thinking about adding something "out there" in social media that hasn't already been done, food-wise.

Not to mention nowadays if its not on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter nobody really has enough attention span to stop and read a post. Maybe its just me?

Now I am contemplating just discussing life, my life, in small posts or snippets here and there...

Sam's FOODIE Club

I noticed lately at my local Sam's Club it has really tried to draw in the "foodie" crowd. Sure it has the usual restaurant section and the home kitchen aisle BUT now they are really getting into it!

Wood Fired Oven. Cool, yet steep(price). I think we could make a bigger one with less money...a friend once found online where you could make one out of used or broken tombstones(recycling baby!)! -- Imagine pulling a delicious pizza out of it and seeing "Here lies Bro..." crusted into the bottom of it? HAHAHA 

iGrill2. I thought it was cool how it works with your phone BUT I would rather use all four thermometers in the oven. Notice there is colored "plastic" on the probes. I know you can heat them up to high temperatures I just don't know about open flames. My skepticism.

Vitamix. I'm sorry, I can't justify $600 for this. I have a Waring Pro blender that will crush rocks on the "pulse" setting for about 10% of this price. But I'm open for a donation in return for an honest review of the product.

Chocolate & Dulce De Leche Cake

Don't hate...I had some sweetened condensed milk to get rid of, OH, and some chocolate cake too!

Teachers Christmas Banquet & Ratatouille

No. I haven't given up on blogging. It just slows down a lot while my actual work schedule speeds (and loads) up! Right around Thanksgiving, or November in general there are fundraisers, fundraiser meals, breaks, and then I have two Christmas banquets back to back in two weeks time!

The great thing about Teachers Christmas Banquet is the menu can be quite diverse. Probably because a week (or two) later a lot of our staff will be eating a Christmas Banquet somewhere else, or here at the church affiliated with Valley Fellowship Christian Academy. And its most likely going to be the "normal" fare...Ham, turkey, stuffing, mash potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy, rolls. Yeah, pretty much everything I will be doing for our church banquet. So if your also going to have that at home, that's a lot of the same meal over and over again...Especially just after Thanksgiving.

Teachers Christmas Banquet Menu:

"Surf & Turf"
Shrimp Cocktail
Smoked Salmon English Cucumber Cups
Jumbo Lump Crab & Tomato Medley
Petite Beef Tender - spice rubbed, seared, and finished in the oven...cut into medallions and served with house made Horseradish Sauce.
Chicken Roulade - stuffed with Brussels sprouts, hickory smoked bacon, Manchego & Mozzarella cheese. Topped with a light Cilantro Cream Sauce. (Don't worry, it's not strong)
Scalloped Potatoes - a classic, potatoes, cream, butter, salt & pepper...
Ratatouille - traditionally a French dish of stewed vegetables this will be on the lighter side, baked slow, essentially steaming the vegetables. Including: zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, red peppers, garlic, and herbs. (I used Thomas Keller's idea of Confit Byaldi, you would know better as: Ratatouille's Ratatouille - from the movie of the same name)
Fresh Baked Dinner Rolls (from scratch)

Salad: keeping it simple, fresh mix of greens, balsamic vinaigrette...

Desserts: provided by parents.

I want to express this nicely...I don't think the majority of our staff is real adventurous when it comes to food so I usually have to take it slow with incorporating new things (to them) like ratatouille, manchego cheese, or using trendy ingredients like brussel sprouts (which people ate over 20 years ago and still claim to hate). Having all seafood appetizers was also risky. People who aren't to adventurous in food usually stick to shrimp if any seafood at all out of the three I picked to use. BUT I have to say I was very impressed by the amount of appetizers they ate and the rest of the meal went great! Most of the feedback was excellent on that ratatouille and the brussel sprouts was mostly mistaken for artichoke! LOL But I expected as much when we had a trial "taste" of the chicken.

Here are some of the pictures I was able to remember to take:
Jumbo Lump Crab & Tomato Medley
(has a guacamole base)
Shrimp Cocktail
Apparently I missed taking a picture of the smoked salmon English cucumber cups...?

Chicken Roulade - stuffed with Brussels sprouts, hickory smoked bacon, Manchego & Mozzarella cheese. Topped with a light Cilantro Cream Sauce.
Petite Beef Tender - spice rubbed, seared, and finished in the oven
(sorry not the clearest picture)
Scalloped Potatoes

Ratatouille Before cooking
Before cooking
Ratatouille After cooking
The whole meal had great feedback but I think most people were amazed with the ratatouille! They were struck by it visually, BUT later couldn't believe the vegetables it was made of and the amazing taste(s).

Its wonderful to be able to stretch people, or, get them out of their 'comfort zone' a little bit.

Small Bits And Favorites

Waffle Cornbread & Chili 
My wife made an excellent Turkey Chili with cornbread made in the waffle iron. We have often cooked many a weird things in the waffle iron (like a delicious montage of leftover tater-tots...Mmmm) BUT now there has been a cookbook and blog surfacing thru Facebook the last few months (or maybe more?)...WILL IT WAFFLE? -- Or check out some excellent post about waffling more food here SERIOUS EATS WAFFLING.

Free Cookbook 4$ a day
Good and Cheap is a collection of recipes for people with limited incomes, particularly those on a $4/day food stamps/EBT card budget. [click on picture it links to website with free PDF]

Pillowcase Salad Spinner
Once again I don't even have to make this stuff up! I could see this as being very useful at home for a big dinner party!

Hot-dogs, Fries, and more...

Little Valley Academy gets an all beef hot-dog with fries and applesauce...because these are the "little guys" we cut the hot-dog in two length wise(less of a choking hazard).

Valley Fellowship Christian Academy gets an all beef hot-dog, fries (this is an older picture still showing chips, but its fries now), chili, and shredded cheese. So really you could have chili-cheese dog or chili-cheese fries, or even just at the chili separate. Yes, to many options maybe? Ha.