(Enter Your Fruit Here) Casserole

Last year my family (finally) became part of a local CSA and started receiving a summer full of yummy fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies.  I loved it so much we signed up for winter shares as well (unfortunatley because of nasty pregnancy-related nausea, it didn't seem so yummy to me then).  Anyhow, one of the fruits we received a-plenty were plums.  What can you do with pounds and pounds of plums, you ask?  My friend Jen does some fantastic canning.  I would love to do some fantastic canning but it just isn't something I have dived into yet.  Soon!

But, this is what I did...and do over and over again...

Cream of Wheat and Plum Casserole

I actually got the recipe from the CSA website, which called for semolina and cherries but stated any fruit can be used as well as cream of wheat and grits.  I make mine with cream of wheat and plums.

Moira calls it plum casserole.  I don't think I have ever seen her eat anything as fast as she eats this.

I call it plum-wonderful-yumminess.  I find myself craving it.  I can't wait for more fruit (and a free moment) so I can make more.  It is just so good.  I have made it a couple of times already this season.

We eat ours warm with a scoop of vanilla Greek yogurt for breakfast.  I even drizzle mine with honey sometimes, not that it needs to be sweeter or anything.  I would eat it every day.

And with plums and cream of is packed with iron.


Cream of Wheat and Fruit Casserole

2 1/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cream of wheat
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups diced fruit (we use plums-with the peels on, I have used peeled apples)
2 Tbsp sugar for topping

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 baking dish or comparable casserole dish with cooking spray.

Bring milk, sugar, butter, and salt to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add cream of wheat in a stream, whisking to avoid clumping.  Bring back to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and cool.

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Stir yolks, lemon zest, and fruit into cooled cereal.  Add 1/3 egg whites to lighten, then fold in the rest.  Pour into prepared dish.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until set and lightly browned.


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New Planner

Even though it is not a new calendar year necessarily, I am no longer working in a school district, and my kids are not yet in school (although we refer to the daycare program as "school") I still feel like September is a good time to reorganize and get some fresh habits.

Maybe it is the cool weather coming in and the preparation for winter when I will be locked up in my house in snowy Buffalo.  Maybe it is the end of the care-free days of summer.  Maybe it is my OCD.  Regardless, I have this feeling that it is time to take a look at life and figure out what I can do to make it a little less stressful.

Back at the beginning of the year I started using a number of "planning" and "organizational" tools, all housed in a "Household Management Binder" of sorts.

I had a pre-printed grocery list I used weekly on which I checked off or jotted down the items we needed for the week. I had a pre-printed chore list, broken down by rooms in the house.  At the start of each day I picked one, two, or as many chores I would have liked to get done.  My goal was not for every surface to shine everyday, but for me to have a home I felt comfortable enough to have guests in at any given moment. In the past I found that assigning a chore to a specific day did not work for was too rigid.  I had a daily planner that outlined everything from appointments, to dos, menu, things to absolutely get done, notes, exercise, bla bla bla.  That actually worked well for a while until I missed filling out a day. Then another.  Then another.  You get the idea.  I planned my weekly menu on Google Calendar.  Loved it because I could save the links to my recipes or ideas I would be using right there!  We even sat down and did a weekly budget...Thank you SK2.

Then came the end of pregnancy when I was lucky to get a single task--napping and chasing a two-year-old not included--done.

Then came a baby and I was lucky to get a single task--napping, nursing, changing diapers, rocking an infant, chasing a two-year-old, and potty training not included--done.

A planner?  Yeah right!

Well, now I am ready to be back on track with the intent to use everything as before...except the Daily planner. It is just too much to fill in all that stuff everyday when I am rushing around as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.  But weekly?  I can manage that.

So I spent a couple of nap times doing this...
Weekly Planner

I have my To Do (including workouts, work, or activities with Moira & Ronan); To Clean (where I can jot down what chores I will do from my weekly chore sheet); To Go (for appointments and errands); To Eat (dinner...and any other meals that need planning); and To Remember (any extra important stuff that week).  I can fill out the majority at the start of the week and fill in the rest on that day or as it comes up.

Less paper...less filling in.  I have even thought about putting this in a frame for a dry-erase calendar.  Not quite there yet.

Feel free to use for yourself.  I am happy to have some organized chaos in my life again!!!


Organize and Decorate Everything  Let Birds Fly


Update and Stationery Card

Things have been a little busy here at the K household, understandably so.  I have been pretty lax about posting here at CircusBerry.  Not to say that I have not done any post-worthy activities, I just have not had the time to put anything up.

A phone call from my mother the other day lit a fire under my tush.  She gently pointed out, "What the heck?  Your description says 'Mama to Moira'...what about Ronan?  You need to update that!"  Thanks, Mom.

So along with me updating my 'description' about myself, thought I would share the birth announcement that I created about a month ago but only ordered from Shutterfly today.  See, I am not just lax about CircusBerry, I am lax about everything.  Really, the truth is that I had about 6 different announcements and I did not know which one I liked more.  I finally bit the bullet and picked one.

I am a big fan of Shutterfly for printed materials that I would not do at home.  Last year for Christmas we gave the grandparents a photo book of Moira.  It came out beautifully and was recieved well by all.

I also love the coupon codes and discounts.  For example, an order that was over 150$ is now just over 90$.  

I took the pictures for the announcement about a month ago.  I spread out a white blanket on my bed and did a little photo shoot experiment with Moira and Ronan.  Moira had a blast, Ronan was patient and good-tempered, and I got a TON of pictures.  Here are some of my favorites.

Doesn't this one look like he is gonna pop her in the nose?

See how it would be so hard to decide?  Once I figure out some of the Photoshop basics I intend to print many of these out...someday.


Stationery card

Happy Baby Boy Birth Announcement
Customize your own unique baby announcements with Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.


Grilled Pizza

If there is one thing I learned about cooking dinner when nursing a newborn and potty training a toddler, it is don't do it!  At least don't try to attempt anything more than throwing a hot dog on the grill and some baked beans in a pan...which is great in the summer...just not every night for dinner...

However, with a new grill, warm weather, and a longing to be back to my culinary playtime, I just couldn't resist giving the whole meal preparation thing a shot.

Last night's meal:

Grilled Pizza

I checked out some tips online for grilling pizza.  I am not going to lie, I was really nervous.  I could just envision the pizza dough falling through the grates and baking itself onto the burners of Steve's brand spankin' new grill.  With the help of  this little tutorial on YouTube that I (mostly) followed, pizza on the grill was a breeze.

I topped the pizza dough with a balsamic-olive oil-garlic concoction, blue cheese, caramelized red onion, steak, "pizza" cheese (in that order), and when finished topped with some arugula and grated Parmesan cheese.

Doesn't it look yummy?

The husband loved it...I loved it...Moira loved what she ate of it before she got in trouble.  There were no left-overs.

A couple of tips...
-Have all of your ingredients ready to go and a clear work space near your grill.  I took the dough off the grill, quickly assembled, and returned back to the grill.  It worked very well.
-Split one whole pizza dough in two.  This made it easier to handle.
-Make sure you flour (or use cornmeal) your parchment/wax paper when stretching your dough.  Otherwise it will stick when you flip it over onto the grill and then your are risking burning your fingers as you try to pull dough off of paper.
-Get a pizza peel.  We don't have one.  It is on my wish-list.  It would make my life easier and I won't come dangerously close to frying my digits every time I take dough off of the grill.  If you don't have a peel, tongs work...but watch those fingers!

No more 500 degree kitchen in July when I'm in the mood for pizza!

Next on the grilled pizza menu:
Prosciutto and fig.  A local restaurant serves it and I don't think I ever go there and not order it.


Weekend Bloggy Reading


It's A Boy

And now presenting:

Ronan Michael

Our little man was born at 2:21 am, June 11, 2011; 7 pounds, 15 ounces; 20 3/4 inches long.

Just look at how much Momma adores him already!

I started labor early Friday morning, and after a lot of walking, waiting, counting, waiting, visiting with everyone else who had come to wait, sunshine, counting, visits to the playground with Moira, eating, waiting, counting...we headed to the hospital to arrive at 1:32 am and find out that I was 7 cm dilated.  Guess I should have taken some of the "waiting" out of my day!  Less than an hour later we finally got our little surprise...a baby boy--healthy, beautiful, and in the words of Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way."

It took a couple of days and a couple of classic, quotable moments ("He stays at the hospital", "No, I do not like him", "I have my own baby"), but by the time we got home from the hospital, Ronan's big sister was smitten.

Moira says things like, "He is delicate", "I wanna kiss his head", and "He is so tiny".

She also soothes him when he cries--"It's okay buddy"; does "This Little Piggy" on his toes; and repeats his name over and over again.

And she has started to take care of her own baby-dolls like Mommy and Daddy take care of Ronan...

Complete with baby and apron...such a little Donna Reed!

 He is a joy.  We all love him so very much.  It is amazing how much worry I had all during my pregnancy about finding the love and energy to care for another baby the way I do Moira, and now that he is here it all just comes naturally.  We are so blessed!