Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Weekend Fun & Food.

As we approach the middle of summer I feel like we haven't quite found our rhythm yet. We are having lots of fun, don't get me wrong on that...I just find myself a little out of sorts occasionally.  Maybe it's because I don't have the routine of a job schedule right now and no school/homework schedules.  We're totally free to decide each day what we should do and I guess as a person who thrives on a schedule, it's a little difficult for me.  It has been good for me to be forced to give up some control and just let things happen, but occasionally it makes me feel unsettled.  So, I have my moments of this and then we take a weekend away with just our family and everything falls right back into place and I feel content.  This was one such weekend...

One day  towards the end of the school year Ava mentioned that she wished she could see a real buffalo jump like the Native Americans used.  They were learning about it at school and as she put it "I'm very interested in how they did it"  Well...we just happen to live about 30 minutes away from a real buffalo jump, joys of living out West.  I don't think I've ever visited it, but with Ava's enthusiasm I knew it had to be on our summer to-do list.  This past weekend seemed like the perfect time to check it off the list!

It's a short hike to the bottom of the jump, or you can go around to the top.  Of course we wanted to go to the top and these girls are good little hikers so we started to head to the top to see where the buffalo actually jumped off.  Mother Nature had other ideas and  we only made it a few short feet past this sign...

The sign alone didn't scare us....the distinct sound of rattles after a few steps in is what made me decide it was not really worth it.  Rattlesnakes and Grizzly Bears...the only two things that deter me from enjoying time in the great outdoors.  (I think I'll add Mountain Lions to that list also...totally freak me out!)  So, we decided to just take the other trail to the bottom of the jump.  It was a wide trail with a lot more use so we thought it was a safer choice.   Ava was slightly disappointed we didn't make it to the top, but we still seemed to satisfy her desire to learn more about it all. 
Because the Buffalo Jump is close to my parents river house and they were on vacation we decided to take advantage of a weekend there with just us.  We had perfect weather, peace and quiet and just a splendid weekend there. 

There wasn't a moment that went by that I didn't feel happy.  There were a few that made me especially smile.  Starting with Ava hitching rides on Sadi in the water...

Also on the top of my happy list, a late night swim in the rain.  It started raining so we decided to take a little drive down to where the river is dammed and there is a small reservoir.  The lightning had stopped and I joked about swimming.  Next thing I know Matt was diving in.  Not to be out done I had to do the same.  At this point the girls were looking at us like we were slightly crazy so we grabbed them, pulled them in and swam in the rain.  Lots of giggles ensued and what I hope to be a lasting family memory from their childhoods.

And, the last thing that really made my heart swell?  The sisterly moments that I keep catching...

Seeing their relationship blossom from baby and toddler to big sister and little sister has been truly amazing.  They still have their fair share of fights, but this summer has mostly been lots of playing, giggles, secrets and love.  Every morning they wake up and instantly are playing...lost in their world of make believe.  They play for hours and even if I try, I can't quite seem to fit into this world of theirs.  I love hearing them whisper something to one another and then laugh hysterically...and when I ask what's so funny I get big smiles and the word "nothing"  It is for them alone to share and I love that they have that.     When one is sad, the other (usually!) tries to make her smile.  The bonds they are forming will be life long and I look forward to watching it grow.  Having two of my own incredible sisters I know how precious these relationships are.  I know there will continue to be moments when they don't get along.  Fights will change from who gets to hold my hand to someone not sharing a new shirt, but none of that will matter...these moments and memories that are building now will keep them strong enough forever.  

I'm not quite sure how to transition from the weekend into food, so I'll just do it randomly.  Summer always inspires me to want to cook with lots of color and fresh vegetables.  Food and seasons to me go hand in hand.  Fall means apple pie and chili, Winter lots of soups and pastas, Spring marks the beginning of bar-b-q and Summer is all about fresh vegetables and beautiful, colorful food & often seafood.  Our last two date night meals were the perfect summer meals, made even better by being eaten on our porch as the sun was setting.  First...baked mozzarella and open face tuna sandwhiches...
Baked Mozzarella
-Drizzle a baking stone or dish with olive oil.  Layer fresh sliced mozzarella, fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh sliced basil.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on top, sprinkle with pepper and sea salt and some minced garlic.  Cook for around 30 minutes at 400-degrees until bubbly.
-For this one I added some sliced potatoes (first I boiled the sliced potatoes for around 5 minutes, then drain) in the layering.  We had some fresh ones so I thought I'd throw them in.  Very nice addition.

Open Face Tuna Sandwich
-Drizzle olive oil on tuna, season with s&p and some dried herbs (basil & oregeno).  Cook on a hot grill, just a few minutes on each side to rare to medium rare
-Slice some ciabbata, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, lay some sliced white cheddar cheese on top, then some spinach or arugula on top of that.  Broil until cheese is melted.  Tuna goes on top of that once it's cooked
-For the sauce:  Mix 1 cup mayo with some salt and pepper and around 1/2 cup of diced sweet pickles.  Dollop on top of the tuna sandwich

That was last week...this week I went in a totally different direction.  Mediterranean nachos & quinoa stuffed peppers...

Matt LOVED the nachos, he said he gave them 5 stars...I didn't even know I had a rating system.  I would have to agree with him though, they were fantastic.  And the perfect companion to the quinoa stuffed peppers.

Mediterranean Nachos
Layer a skillet with pita chips.  Drop spoonfuls of hummus on top evenly.  Toss sliced tomatoes, kalamata olives and peppercinis on top.  Add some shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350-degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Enjoy...they are SO good!!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
-Around 1 cup prepared quinoa (Prepared quinoa-Soak 1 cup quinoa for around 20 minutes, then drain.  Mix it with a combination of fresh squeezed OJ and veggie broth...to make 1 and 1/4 cup total and around a tablespoon of orange zest.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool completely before adding to veggies)
-2 to 3 red or orange bell peppers...tops sliced off and remove seeds
-Chopped red onion (around 3/4 cup)
-1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup chopped snap peas, a couple handfuls of fresh spinach
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/2 cup cashews, chopped
Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook onion for around 5-7 minutes.  Add carrots, peas and cook until soft (around 8 min).  Add basil and spinach.  When the spinach starts to wilt stir in cinnamon, cumin and quinoa until combined.  Add some salt and pepper and the cashews...cook for a couple minutes, remove from heat and let cool slightly
-Stuff the mixture into the peppers, replace the top and place in an oven safe pan that has been slightly greased.  Cover the pan/dish tightly with aluminum foil.  Cook in a 350-degree oven for around 45 minutes.  

Tomorrow we get our next vegetable share from our CSA so I'm sure to be inspired by more colors and flavors for food this upcoming week.  There has also been very exciting news in my family with my little sis moving back to town with her hubby and baby.  In fact...my nephew got to spend the night tonight and he, as well as the girls, are totally crashed out after an afternoon of playing in the pool.  More to come on this for sure, but I am so happy to have them back here again.  Now the littlest little can join the gang.  

Have a happy week!


  1. Quinoa stuffed peppers look delicious... recipe please :)
    Great pics too!

    1. Thanks!! I have added the recipe to the bottom of that blog post...not sure why I left it out in the first place, just forgot!! Enjoy.