Weekend “Staycation”

Lately we’ve been spending most of our weekends out exploring Ireland, so we decided that this weekend  it was time for us to regroup and spend a few days here in our own home. Even though we were staying home, we still wanted to plan something fun. So the idea of the “staycation” was born. Jon cooked up a plan for a little father-son back yard camp-out, and I planned a little getaway to the spa. It was the best weekend ever.

On Saturday morning Jon and the boys prepared the campground (i.e. our back yard) for the boys’ camp-out. We’d brought our little 2-man backpacking tent with us from America and we haven’t used it once. There is no way I’m going to bring something half-way around the world to not use it, even once. This being Memorial Day Weekend–one of the busiest camping weekend of the year in America–we thought it would be the perfect excuse to dust of the little tent and let it breathe the fresh Irish air. The boys had fun scouting out our yard for the perfect location to pitch their tent (I believe the criteria consisted of flat ground, soft grass, not too mushy, and not on top of dog poop). David and Jacob watched on as Daddy expertly raised the tent and, most importantly, covered the whole thing with a rain shield. Then they piled blankets and pillows and stuffed animals and Buzz Lightyear action figures inside. The tent was complete.

IMG_5063

 

After the tent set-up was finished I sneaked out of the house (er…campground…) for a little mommy TLC time. My Mother’s Day gift this year was a massage at a local spa, and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I opened the gift certificate. Now it was finally time for my dream to materialize.

The Maryborough Spa was–how do I put this?–heaven on earth. Seriously, the most luxurious pampering I’ve ever experienced. Upon my arrival I was greeted and then given a brief tour of the spa. I had an hour until my scheduled massage so I was able to take advantage of the Thermal Suite. This was an area that included saunas, steam rooms, heated lounge chairs, a multi-jet shower and the most incredible hot tub I’ve ever seen. The hot tub was huge–big enough to swim laps in–and it had all of these water fountains and jets you could turn on and loungers to sit on and lighting that made it look as if you were swimming under the stars. It was incredible, and I would have been happy if the whole spa day just ended right there. But I’m so glad it didn’t, because there was much more incredible-ness to come.

spa8

After I was nice and serene from my hour in the Thermal Suite I was guided to my treatment room where I received a relaxing massage. I have had many massages over the years, but this was the single most relaxing massage I’ve ever had. I got to choose my own mix of calming body oils, the mood lighting for the room, and the precise adjustment of my contouring massage table so that everything was perfectly suited to me (and isn’t this all about me anyway?). During the massage I drifted off to sleep and I’m pretty sure I drooled, but they must expect that when they go to all the trouble of making everything so darn perfect.

When my massage was over I was led to the “relaxation suite”–a peaceful window-lined room overlooking a waterfall in a courtyard. After I was settled in my plush lounge chair and covered with a warm blanket they brought me a refreshment tray with juice, smoothies, and a bowl of fresh fruit to munch on while I read a magazine or finished my nap. Note: at this point it had been nearly 3 hours since I’d changed a diaper or winced at a whining child. It was truly surreal.

But, wait! There’s more! After I was good and relaxed I was led to my next room-of-paradise: the tea lounge. Here I was served afternoon tea, which is just another way of saying “towers of cakes”. This exquisite stack of scrumptiousness spoke to my very soul.

I took my time nibbling each little delicacy set before me: warm ham and cheese pastry, almond cake, chocolate chip cookies, scones, raspberry napoleons, fruit tarts, scones with jam and cream. I didn’t really intend to eat the whole tower of food, but it happened. And I relished every single calorie I consumed.

IMG_5025

After my tea/gorge-fest I returned to the relaxation room to sleep off a bit of the tryptophan from my dainty turkey and brie sandwich. When one of the spa staff members came to check on me I told her I was moving in to the spa forever. She must have thought I was joking, because she laughed and walked away. While I was scouting out the relaxation room for the best after-hours hiding spot I was awakened by a sense of duty to my family. I decided to go back home after all. Besides, I really didn’t want to miss out on the camp-out dinner (sheesh, I’m starting to sound really gluttonous here…).

When I got back home Jon had already started the “camp fire”, a disposable charcoal BBQ set that he found at the grocery store. Despite having to use it in the rain, our little BBQ worked perfectly for roasting sausages:

IMG_5064

And marshmallows for s’mores:

IMG_5065

We had to improvise a bit with the s’mores based on the availability of ingredients in Ireland–you can really only find pink marshmallows here and we had to use tea biscuits in place of graham crackers. In the end, though, they were every bit as good as the s’mores you eat in the dirt at any American campground.

After dinner we had a family movie night (the feature presentation was “Toy Story”) and then it was off to bed. Since the tent is only big enough for two (and *maybe* because I didn’t want to sleep outside in the rain) I sacrificed my place in the tent so that Jon could sleep out there with David. Jacob slept in his crib inside the house because nobody wants a toddler who wakes up at 5 AM sleeping right outside their bedroom window when 5 AM rolls around.

IMG_5074

David was so excited for his camp-out (and so confused by the daylight that lingered until nearly 10:00) that he didn’t fall asleep for a good long while after he and Daddy went out to the tent. Jon told him stories and they snuggled and eventually the sky darkened and they slept until 7:00 the next morning. Jacob woke up at his usual 5:00 but, since I was the only other person in the house, I decided to let him whine in his bed for a good long while before I dragged myself out of bed to get him. I decided to bring him back to bed with me and as soon as we were lying down he fell back asleep until 8:00. I’m not gonna lie, I kind of loved it.

IMG_5080

If I could change anything about this weekend, I would make it longer. Longer to have my family together, longer to roast marshmallows in the rain, longer to watch my son and my husband bond in a tent, longer to relish in pampering at the spa. But I know that all good things must come to an end, and so did our weekend. I’ll tell you one thing, though. If I’m having a rough time this week I’m just going to close my eyes and go to my happy place–that magical place where the only thing interrupting my sleep is a tower of cakes.

Mom’s “Famous” Zucchini Soup Recipe

photo

My mom has an incredible garden that we fondly refer to as “Nana’s Secret Garden”. I don’t have a garden myself (nor should I with my two “brown thumbs”), but my boys love playing in her garden and eating fruit, berries and veggies (literally) off the vine. This time of year Nana’s Secret Garden is bursting with zucchini, some the size of my small children. It was from this prolific garden that my mom was inspired to create this recipe for zucchini soup. This soup is one of my favorite end-of-summer treats–it is creamy with a fresh, vibrant taste. In fact, this soup is so good that it was published in Sunset Magazine–which, basically, makes this soup famous. At least to me. And it really does deserve to be famous.

Well, I was at the grocery store yesterday trying to figure out what I’m going to feed my family this week (somehow it’s still a mystery to me. Every. Single. Week. You’d think that after years of cooking every single day I’d know what to make for dinner but, alas, I still wander the grocery store looking for inspiration, week after week). This week, my store had courgettes on sale–only I didn’t know what courgettes were. I have learned that there are many different names for things here in Ireland. As it turns out, courgettes are none other than the humble zucchini. And you know what that means? I get my zucchini soup, even though I’m thousands of miles away from Nana’s Secret Garden.

So here is my mom’s award winning recipe for zucchini soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

zucchini-soup-su-637683-lCurried Zucchini Soup

1 large zucchini (or courgette!)
1 large onion
1 head of garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
*instant mashed potatoes for thickening

In a large stock pot, sautee coarsely chopped vegetables and 1 cup of stock until the vegetables are soft. Working in small batches, puree the mixture in a blender, adding more stock to liquefy as necessary. Return vegetable puree to pot and add curry powder, salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture and add coconut milk and evaporated milk. Add more stock if necessary or, to thicken, add instant mashed potatoes.

*Since the zucchini come in many different sizes, you’ll probably need to adjust the amounts of stock and seasoning you use. Sometimes I also like to add some fresh herbs like basil at the very end of the cooking. This soup also freezes well for a taste of summer in later months.

…And, if you have LOTS of zucchini to use up, here are a few of my other favorite zucchini recipes:

Zucchini Fritters
Zucchini and Corn Tacos
Zucchini Bread
Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Pasta
Zucchini “Noodles”
Zucchini and Rosemary Frittata  

The Ultimate “Busy Bag”

IMG_2960

When we moved to Ireland a few weeks ago I had a lot of concerns. Would I get homesick before we even left? Would we like our new home across the sea? Would I remember to pack all of the essentials? But the most important question of all: How would we survive a 10-hour flight with two boys under the age of 3?

Grandma to the rescue! My mother-in-law is incredibly gifted with all things crafty. She can take felt and a sewing machine and fabricate incredible creations (whereas I would take the aforementioned objects and make something worthy for display at a Kindergarten art show). She took her crafting skills to a whole new level when she created this: The Ultimate Busy Bag.

IMG_2933

Inside is a treasure trove of games and activities that could satisfy children not only for a 10-hour plane ride, but for weeks–nay, months–on end.

IMG_2936

She created the bag itself from fabric scraps and her own design. Many of the games were also her own creation, but she did get several ideas off Pinterest and Etsy. The bag is *literally* bursting at the seams with great ideas, so I thought I would share some of them with you here. If you wanted to recreate just one or two of these ideas instead of the whole bag (because, really, I don’t know anybody else who could make all of this in one sitting!) each would make a great small project in itself. These are great ideas to have tucked away for a rainy day (or even a long summer day when the refrain “I’m bored…” starts echoing through your home). I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

1. Felt pieces and finger puppets.
One of the sides of the busy bag is made out of felt. There are several felt pieces that can be arranged on the “felt board” for imaginary play or story telling. Most of the pieces were cut out of colored felt and then decorated (my mother-in-law’s 6-year old neighbor helped with many of these pieces).

There are sea creatures and an underwater scene:

IMG_2941

Fluffy clouds and an airplane (each of the windows and “decals” can be re-positioned on the plane):
IMG_2942

A house and garden (even our dog, Bota, makes her appearance here!):

IMG_2940

Noah and his ark full of animals (each animal is a finger puppet that can be used separately from the felt board for songs, stories, or pretend play):

IMG_2939

And, of course, the rain and the rainbow for Noah:

IMG_2938

Jesus and his disciples can even sail across the Sea of Galilee in their trusty boat:

IMG_2937

2. Dry erase markers and letter practice.

IMG_2923There is a folder filled with sheets of handwriting practice, each page inside its own plastic sheet protector. Each dry erase marker has a color-coordinated pom-pom hot-glued to the cap that can be used as an on-the-spot eraser. David uses the colorful dry erase markers to trace the letters and color the pictures in his handwriting book–when he’s done, he just flips over the marker and uses the pom-pom eraser to clear the page. It is easy to find handwriting worksheets online (just do a Google search for “handwriting practice” or “handwriting printable” and look under images). You could also insert pages from coloring books, outlines of common objects, or blank pages for your child to draw on with the dry erase markers.

3. The Mitten book and finger puppets

This is one of the boys’ favorite activities in the busy bag. My MIL found this activity on Etsy, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. The activity consists of the picture book The Mitten by Jan Brett and a large knit mitten full of finger puppet versions of the animals in the story.

IMG_2929

If you haven’t read this story, you should. Jan Brett is one of my favorite children’s authors, and this one is a classic. In the story (a Ukrainian folktale) a little boy loses his white mitten in the snow. Woodland animals find the mitten and, one by one, they burrow inside the lost mitten to keep warm. As I read the book, David helps to put each animal into the mitten as they appear in the story. It’s a great age-appropriate interactive reading activity–and he just can’t get enough of it. If you don’t have your own mitten and animal finger puppets, you can print off your own mitten craft from the author’s website and make your own!

4. Felt Numbers and Letters

There are two sets each of felt letters and numbers for David to play with and manipulate. The possibilities here are endless! We’ve been using the letters to play “find the sound” (I’ll say a sound and he has to find the letter that makes that sound) and “letter match” (we’ll find a letter in a book or on an object in the room and he has to find the same letter from his pile of felt letters).

I used the numbers to show David representations (using balls, of course, because he will learn ANYTHING 10 times faster if it can be somehow related to balls):

IMG_2944

And we even practiced putting the numbers in order from 0-10 (OK, I did this, but he helped me count the numbers after I got them all set up):

IMG_2952

5. Art and Craft Supplies

IMG_2948There are several art and craft supplies that David can use for his own creative works: markers, scissors, a sketch pad, colorful pipe cleaners, stickers. We’ve been practicing how to use markers on paper ONLY and that we only use scissors when there is a grown-up there to help us. He’s actually been doing really well with all of his “big kid” supplies–especially the fact that he can now color a picture and then cut it into a million pieces. Toddler confetti!

We also like using the pipe cleaners to make “bowls full of worms”. The boys thread the pipe cleaners through the holes in the pipe cleaners (I put them in for baby Jacob) and then pull them out. It’s good fine motor practice..and also just a lot of fun!

photo

6. Some Personal Touches

IMG_2934

There are several smaller items that are personalized to David and Jacob. There is a little American flag so they can remember where they came from (represent!) and a little bendy bear that their dad used to play with when he was little. There is also a really cute set of “ABC Bible Verses” where each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding Bible verse (print your own here). We may have to use these for some memorizaton practice soon!

Thank you for the special gift, Grammy! We will treasure it forever!

IMG_1542

Experiencing Cork City

Jon has become quite the coffee connoisseur over the last couple of years, and item one on his agenda has been to find a quality espresso machine that he can use over here. He’s done months of research on the types of machines that are available so he was just itching to get out to a store and buy one. We decided that this weekend would be “find Jon’s dream machine weekend”. We set out early Saturday morning to downtown Cork where we had a number of recommendations for specialty coffee and kitchen shops to look in.

It soon became quite obvious, however, that this quest was not going to end well. Most stores had no espresso machines whatsoever, and the ones that did carry espresso machines were very high end and out of our comfort zone, budget-wise (we really don’t need to spend over $2,000 on an espresso machine that he can use for two years, do we?). We abandoned our goal of bringing home Jon’s espresso-baby and turned our attention to something more positive.

Since we were already downtown, we decided to make a day of it and do a little sight-seeing. We bought delicious snacks and drinks from a chocolate shop and ate them in this little park:

20130720-203007.jpg

Then we crossed the River Lee that runs right through the middle of Cork City:

20130720-203107.jpg

We walked up a large hill to Shandon where the famous “Four-Faced Liar” clock stands at the top of St. Anne’s Cathedral:

20130720-203039.jpg

When we got back to downtown Cork they had set up a huge street festival for the Street Performance World Championship. They had some really neat street performers for us to watch:

20130720-203142.jpg

The boys enjoyed watching the live performances:

20130720-203150.jpg

There were also lots of fun activities for the kids to do. David’s favorite? The soccer game where he won a bag of candy every time he scored a goal!

20130720-203126.jpg

After we’d had our fill of street fair fun (and maybe a bit too much sun) we went to pick up our NEW CAR!

20130720-203221.jpg

I’m super-excited about this new car because it’s an automatic–no more trying to figure out a manual while driving on the opposite side of the (narrow) roads. It was quite the journey to actually get this car. After many days of calling car companies we came to the conclusion that there was really only one way we could get a car here. We are doing a long-term rental on the car because they don’t do leases here in Ireland and we don’t qualify for insurance to buy a car. We had hoped to get two cars, but long-term rental is VERY expensive (our car rental costs almost as much as our house each month!). So, for the time being, we will share the one car. One benefit to having a rental is that we can technically change out the car we have every 28 days if we need to. If this car doesn’t end up working well for us, we only have to keep it for 28 days and then we can try something different. We are also going to buy Jon a bike so he can can commute by bike whenever he’s able. Just one more change that we’ll have to adapt to!

One more change that we’ve been thinking and praying a lot about for…well…as long as we’ve know that we’d be moving to Ireland…is the church community we would join here. Getting plugged in to a Jesus-loving, gospel-preaching church is our first priority, but–as with many things with this move–we discovered that would be easier said than done. There are very few evangelical Christian churches in Ireland. In fact, our city (the 2nd largest city in the Republic of Ireland) only has about a dozen. A few months back we heard about a church here called Calvary Cork from a friend of mine who knows the pastor. We decided to check it out today.

photo (5)

 

From the moment we walked in the doors we were blown-away blessed. It’s a small church (50-75 people were there today), but one of the most welcoming I’ve ever been to. Everyone was very friendly and they made us feel right at home. David was able to play in the creche (childcare) during the service (Jacob could have gone, too, if he wasn’t such a cry-baby). David had tons of fun coloring, eating snacks, hearing a short Bible story and playing with lots of sweet little Irish girls (his first response when we picked him up was, “I’m girl crazy!”).

The sermon was great (at least the parts of it I could hear from the baby cry room!). One of the best parts if the whole service, however, was the music. One of the first songs they played was “Grace Alone”, a song written by Dustin Kensrue from our church in Seattle, Mars Hill. We sang this song all the time “back home”–it was so neat to hear this song halfway around the world and worship with these new brothers and sisters who I’ve just met. Really, really cool.

We also had two of our other more petty prayers answered at church this morning. Jon got a great recommendation for a new coffee place that sounds a lot like Philz (his favorite coffee place EVER). And for me: I got invited to a mommy playgroup that meets every Wednesday not too far from our house. I’m really excited to meet some new friends and get to know the people I’ll be living with for the next 2 years!

All in all, it was a great weekend experiencing our new home city. And it really is starting to feel a bit like home.

 

Fota Wildlife Park

We had expected to be able to move in to our house yesterday. However, as we were getting ready to leave Seattle a few days ago, our landlord contacted us to let us know that his tenants wouldn’t be moved out until Monday. So, instead of unpacking and settling in to our new home this weekend, we found ourselves with some free time on our hands. We rarely have free time together as a family–let alone a whole weekend–let alone in a foreign country. Plus, the church we found here is out of town on a retreat this weekend so we didn’t even have that to go to today. All that to say, we got another family fun day today. Yahoo!

We decided to drive just outside of the Cork City Center to the Fota Wildlife Park.

It’s a really neat zoo with free-roaming and barely-fenced-in animals–perfect for getting up close and personal with the wildlife. Here’s Jon walking up to some Mara (large South American rodents) and wallabies:

20130714-161517.jpg

There were also zebras, ostriches, and giraffes in a large enclosure near the entrance:

20130714-161622.jpg

We saw lots of monkeys, including a sprightly baby Gibbon (on the roof in this photo):

20130714-162018.jpg

All of the monkeys are housed on their own private islands:

20130714-162138.jpg

We had so much fun at Fota that we bought a membership so we can return again soon!

20130714-162230.jpg

On our way back to Cork we drove through the town of Cobh (formerly called Queenstown). This was the last port that Titanic stopped at to pick up passengers before making her fateful journey out to sea. Coincidentally, this is also the port where the ship Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Missile , thus instigating World War I. Besides it’s fascinating history, Cobh is just a quaint little town:

20130714-162618.jpg

From Cobh we caught the (2 minute ride) car ferry back across the water to Rochestown (where our house is).

20130714-162815.jpg

Tomorrow will be moving day and Jon’s first day of work–back to reality!

Inchydoney Beach

Ireland is currently experiencing the hottest summer they’ve had in 15 years. It’s been near 80 degrees since we got here–definitely warm by Seattle standards, and unheard of by Irish standards. We decided to take advantage of the sunshine today and skip out on our responsibilities (i.e. setting up utilities and looking for a car) so we could go to the beach. Seems reasonable to me.

The lady who owns the house we’re staying in recommended place called Inchydoney Beach. It’s about an hour outside if Cork in the west side of the county on the Atlantic Ocean. Driving up to the beach was breathtaking!

20130713-155317.jpg

Seeing as every Irish person went to the beach today, it was quite busy at the beach. We snagged the last empty parking space and walked down to the sand.

After we dropped off our stuff, it was time to play! This was the first time 75% of our family had been in the Atlantic Ocean.

20130713-155640.jpg

David had fun playing in the waves.

20130713-155754.jpg

Beautiful place, beautiful day, beautiful boys.

20130713-155903.jpg

On our way back to Cork we drove through some cute little towns…

20130713-160005.jpg

…and almost got run off the road by this tractor:

20130713-160049.jpg

Until later, friends!

20130713-160146.jpg

My Summer Bucket List

Mukilteo Park May 2012 - 0012

Ahhhhhh…summer. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I may be a bit biased because up until about 2 years ago I had spent my whole life in school (as either a student or a teacher) so summer has always just been the thing I looked forward to all year. Now that I have kids, though, I’m more excited for summer than ever before. Again, I may be a bit biased–as a stay-at-home mom in rainy Seattle I really can’t wait to get the kids outside and finally do something.

A few months ago I made a spring bucket list. I’m happy to report that I have checked off every item from that list…except for two: “plant something” and “fix our yard” (I knew those were bad ideas even as I was writing them. In my defense, though, I did buy a potted basil plant from Trader Joe’s and it’s still alive. I also have managed to keep the dog poop mostly picked up from our back yard, so that’s kinda like fixing the yard, too.). My favorite discovery from my spring bucket list was visiting new parks in our area. I found a lovely gem a few miles away with a wetland boardwalk and a large playground–we’ve already spent several afternoons exploring there.

Now it’s time to see what summer has to offer. This summer will be different from any other that I’ve ever experienced as we’ll be moving to Ireland in July. But what would summer be without a healthy dose of adventure mixed in? Here’s a bit of what I’m planning for this season:

  • Build sand castles at the beach
  • Climb a real castle (yay, Ireland!)
  • Pick fresh berries from a U-pick farm
  • Ride the car ferry over to Whidbey Island or the Olympic Peninsula for a day trip
  • Catch the ice cream man
  • Take in some free children’s concerts in the park
  • Throw a killer first birthday party for my little Jacob!
  • Walk down Alki Beach and pretend like I’m in California
  • Take in a firework show
  • Get a pedicure so my feet look cute in flip flops
  • Eat a picnic dinner in a park
  • Watch an outdoor movie
  • Take the free ferry over to Jetty Island for some play time at the warm water beach
  • Make our own Popsicles and eat them outside
  • Play in the kiddie pool we have hidden under our deck
  • Play with sidewalk chalk
  • See a parade (be in a parade?!)
  • Take David to a baseball game
  • Barbecue. Lots and lots of BBQ.
  • NOT get a sunburn
  • Go bowling (kids bowl free in the summer!)
  • Walk barefoot in the sand
  • Borrow my parents’ stand-up paddle boards and get out on the water
  • Read books with my kids outside under the trees
  • Go to a farm
  • Go hiking
  • Watch a beautiful sunset
  • Fly a kite
  • Swim
  • Roast marshmallows over a fire
  • Go to the fair
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Play mini golf
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Play with water balloons
  • Blow bubbles
  • Make ice cream in a bag
  • Rest (I don’t know how I’ll have time to fit that one in with all of these other fun ideas, but it seems like it would be a good idea!)

What are some of your favorite summertime activities? I’d love some fresh ideas!

Rhubarb Custard “Dream Bars” Recipe

We went to my parents’ house last weekend, and the first thing David wanted to do was go to Nana’s garden. My mom always has some amazing new thing growing in her garden and David loves seeing what he can find. Plus, there’s something amazing about picking veggies straight out of the ground and then eating them right there on the spot.

rhubarb-leaf

This week we found rhubarb. Lots and lots of rhubarb–a rhubarb forest, if you will. We picked a whole bag-full of the ruby red stalks…which I promptly forgot to bring home with us. All week I’ve been dreaming about the rhubarb I forgot, mostly because of this recipe. This is one of my favorite desserts of all time. If I were a rhubarb, I would be honored to find my end in such a sweet place. I now give you…

Rhubarb Custard Dream Bars

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 Tablespoons butter

Custard Filling Ingredients:
1/3 Cup flour
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1 1/2 Cups milk
3 eggs
5 Cups rhubarb, diced

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup fat-free cream cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup thawed frozen fat-free whipped topping

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. For crust: cut flour, sugar, butter and salt into a coarse meal. Pat the crust mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

3. For the filling: whisk together the flour, sugar, milk and eggs. Add rhubarb and stir. Pour over the baked crust, and bake another 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the custard is set. Cool to room temperature.

4. For the topping: mix together the sugar, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth (I use an electric mixer for this). Fold in the whipped topping. Spread over the cooled custard and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

5. To serve: slice into bars of your desired size. Try to stop yourself from consuming the entire pan of rhubarb bars so you will have some to share with your friends. Keep leftover bars covered tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated.

BBQ-Week Menu and How To Make Your Own Pizza On The Grill

A strange phenomenon happened this week here in Seattle. Our usual gray clouds and cool temperatures were replaced with this wonderful warm shining orb in the sky: the sun. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 70’s for the next week or so, which basically means that everyone in the Pacific Northwest is freaking out. People are already calling in “sick” to work and children are gleefully jumping into the frigid Puget Sound waters. The parkas have come off and we’re ready to celebrate.

When we get these nice warm days in Seattle I like to spend as much time outside as possible. You really never know when your next chance to get Vitamin-D in a form other than “pill” will be. So, I decided to organize our entire menu this week around using our BBQ Grill–I won’t even have to go inside to cook! At the end of the post, I’ve also included a little “how-to” for making pizza on your grill. Happy BBQ’ing–at least until the rain returns next week.

Monday- Burgers
Tuesday- (no grilling tonight since we’ll be at our Bible study)
Wednesday- Grilled Chicken Kebabs
Thursday- Bratwurst, Roasted Potatoes and Garlic (done in a tin foil pouch on the grill), Grilled Asparagus
Friday- BBQ’d Pizza (instructions below)
Saturday- Honey-Citrus Marinated Pork Chops and Fire-Roasted Peppers
Sunday- Mother’s Day = my day off of cooking!

How To Make Your Own Pizza On The Grill:

how-to-grill-pizza-d

  1. Preheat half of your grill on high heat and half on low heat.
  2. Make your dough and sauce. Or cheat, and buy them. I like Trader Joe’s pizza dough–it’s only about $1.50 per dough and it tastes just as good as any dough that I’ve ever made.
  3. Roll out your dough on a flat surface until it’s your desired thickness (a lightly oiled upside down cookie sheet or a lightly floured cutting board work well).
  4. Put the dough directly on the grill grates (use the hot section for this)
  5. Use tongs to gently rotate the dough for 2-3 minutes until the bottom side is browned and the dough holds its shape.
  6. Move the dough to the cooler section of the grill and flip it over. Put sauce, cheese, and toppings on your pizza.
  7. Return your pizza to the hot side of the grill and let your pizza cook until the cheese is melted and your dough is cooked through, about 3-5 more minutes.

* We like to use a pizza stone instead of putting the dough directly on the grill. If you use a stone, just leave the stone in the grill while it is preheating and assemble your pizza directly on the stone. You do not need to flip the dough, just cook your pizza until everything is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.