Hans finally got his braces removed! YAY! Of course he has to wear a retainer now, but they are off, and he can occasionally chew gum or have a caramel. I'm so proud of him - how awkward and uncomfortable, and he just handled it like a champ.
Cody and I took a trip together, just the two of us. We spent a week in Cancun, and then a few days in New Orleans, while my parents were generous enough to keep the kids with them. We went scuba diving, swimming in the infinity pool and lounging in the ocean, and a little sightseeing/shopping in Isla de Mujeres. It was a wonderful time, and we enjoyed New Orleans as well, though - to be honest - we weren't overly impressed. It was a nice city, with historic features; maybe living 20 minutes from downtown Philly and its' historic features (and food, events, etc.) have raised the bar for us. But then again, Cody and I aren't into big, wild parties with tons of people we don't know - so we wouldn't enjoy Mardi Gras. Overall, the trip was wonderful, and really helpful for us to have some time alone where we could relax together and just hang out!
New Orleans skyline at night from the edge of the Mississippi River, near the French Quarter.
This was funny - and VERY awkward!
Grandma photobombing Bethany as she shows off the aMAZing, vegan, 4th of July cake she made!
Our newest addition to the family, Russell Valentino (he was born on Valentine's Day). And we LOVE him soooo much! He was a birthday present for Hans' this year, and he has become much loved by all. He is a Dutch Dwarf (though I'm not so sure about the dwarf - he's getting pretty big), and the cutest thing on earth. He and Tucker are even getting along!
After you've finished grilling those Brats or BBQ'ing the chicken, use the coals to make an EASY but delicious, healthy dessert, that cooks while you enjoy your dinner.
Grilled Carmelized Pears: Take 5 pears, any kind (or as many as you need), and cut them in half, top to bottom. Cut the core out of each half. Put aluminum foil down on the grill, and as it warms up, coat it with butter-flavor Crisco (or the regular kind - they both work). Make sure you have enough foil so you can fold it back on itself halfway; and DO coat the whole thing. Then sprinkle on cinnamon-sugar, a nice coating of it - so you almost can't see the foil through it. Then lay the pears on the cinnamon-sugar, cut side down. Sprinkle more sugar mix on top of the pears (the skin side), fold the foil over top, and crimp the edges a bit. The coals were running about 225 degrees at this point, and I left the pears on for about 30 minutes. When you finish your dinner, you'll have soft, warm, caramelized pears just begging for a scoop of vanilla ice cream! ENJOY!
(Thanks to stresscake.wordpress.com for the photo - everyone ate mine so quickly, I couldn't get a good picture, but that's exactly what they looked like! Next time...)
I have tried several Vegan ice creams, and even made my own recipes (early on in the learning process). They were edible - which is fairly impressive - but NOT good. When we discovered my daughters food allergies a few years ago, she took the news with grace and style. She had just turned 13 at the time, and to be told that you suddenly can't have chocolate, enjoy quiche and cheeses... I don't know if I could have handled it so well. But I'm not afraid, so I jumped right in and started cooking "vegan" dishes (that was the easiest way to search). I can add meat to anything, but the best way to find the allergy requirements is to go to Vegan sites. This ice cream - EVERYONE LOVES IT! It is creamy, tasty, it freezes nicely, melts with the same speed and texture as dairy ice cream... It really is perfect! I did the cashew base, and it was a vanilla ice cream; but my two older kids - who didn't watch me make it - did not know the base. When they tasted it, they immediately named the flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on: COOKIE DOUGH. Yep, for us - going the cashew route - the final product had a distinct Cookie-Dough Ice Cream flavor. And BTW, I used it the first time as the special dessert for my daughter's birthday, and served it with Grilled Carmelized Pears (I posted the directions on my blog). It was soooooo delicious. My husband, who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, had seconds! So thanks for this recipe - if you want Vegan ice cream that is fabulous, and hate the exorbitant prices for a little container that will NOT be as good, make this recipe. Follow it, and life will be sweet!