Dogwood Canyon

During our trip to Table Rock Lake, we spent a morning at Dogwood Canyon. We had thought about coming here on our weekend trip but paying for a trip to a park seemed kind of silly. I wish we would have though- it’s so beautiful there and worth every penny! A great place for a family bike ride with beautiful waterfalls all along the trail.
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And some fun caves to explore along the way too!
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And a few fun family pics to wrap it up. A great place to spend a day!
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Table Rock Lake

We had a great family vacation to Table Rock Lake a few weeks ago. They all look relaxed, right?
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Yeah, well we all kind of needed to sit in hot tub because my dear husband brought all kinds of equipment with him so we could all do family workouts in the morning! Hurray!

This was a favorite during one of the circuit workouts, not! Bear crawl through the sand.
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As you can see, the kids participated as well!
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And the course finishers!
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And some other favorite activities from the week.

Number one, of course, was chasing each other with fly swatters.
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And bean bag toss. We had some pretty intense face offs.
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Water Slide!
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More from our lake trip next time!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Oh, goodness, this is delicious!
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There have been several times this week that I wished I still had some of this ice cream in the freezer. . .

1. My oldest is back in school. That means the helper and peacemaker is gone for most of the day and his younger brother and sister are a bit lost without him. And I have to pack lunches again- boo!
2. My husband did a fitness challenge at work and did a plank for ten minutes. What?!? I innocently wondered out loud how long I could do a plank and the next thing I knew, I was down at the elementary school doing a six part competition against my friend. It involved a bear crawl 100 yards across a field, pulling a sled 100 yards with 65 pound weights, 100 squats, and more. I will never open my mouth and wonder anything ever again.
3. I had to stop at DSW with all three kids and return a pair of shoes. I also wanted to look down ONE aisle of shoes. But apparently to a five year old boy, if a store has a slatted wall, obviously it’s because they want you to attempt to climb it up to the ceiling. I have a feeling his father would agree. Once I got my son pulled off the wall, the boys thought it would be a great idea to play tag. TEN MINUTES BOYS- that’s all I’m asking for!!
4. Somehow in the process of drying off his hands, my son managed to drop the hand towel into the toilet. . .that he had forgotten to flush. I suppose I should be grateful that he remembered to wash his hands.
5. I have a two year old daughter. Enough said.

And here’s the recipe from Epicurious! We don’t eat a lot of desserts or ice cream, but every once in awhile (see above!) a little treat is necessary. I am lucky enough to have a huge pot of mint growing out on my deck, but if you don’t, this amount of mint can be pricey to buy at the grocery store. I would suggest checking out the farmers market- I’ve seen it for $1 for a large bundle. I also use raw milk and cream.

Isaac Mizrahi’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

1. In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat.

2. Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. Whisk in heavy cream. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

3. Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chopped chocolate during last minute of churning. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Update!

It’s been awhile since I have done a post! I decided to take a few weeks off from blogging and have been busy traveling, hanging with my kids, running (that 10K is coming up soon!), and doing some redecorating. Well, actually trying to stay out of the way while my friend Angela decorates. I contribute smoothies and that’s about it! :)

I have also been doing some updates to my pages- hopefully this will make it easier to find recipes and other information. Check out my new and improved Eating Green page for some new healthy recipes. Here’s a few of my favorites:

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I will be posting some new recipes and pictures from our travels over the next few weeks if I’m not too sad from going back to getting up early and making lunches for school. :)

Thank Goodness for Chicken Wire

It’s been a weird year for gardening. We started with our bunny problems now that our dog Sadie is no longer patrolling the backyard. Despite small children chasing them screaming and being sprayed by water jets, it would seem the bunnies are here to stay. After having my garden eaten down to the ground, we finally put chicken wire all the way around the garden. Hopefully I can get most of the plants to grow back before the end of the summer!

And guess what the bunnies never even nibbled on?
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I haven’t had a lot of luck growing fruit so was thrilled with our cherries this year! We didn’t get a ton this year, our tree is still fairly small, but had a handful every morning for a week or so.
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And little did I know when I bought a lime tree that limes from Mexico would come under the control of the drug cartel and double or triple in price!
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I got my first jalapeƱo!
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And the out of control green onion plant.
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I have no complaints about the cooler weather and rain so far this summer but the tomato plants aren’t crazy about it- still waiting for our first big red tomatoes.
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The watermelon and basil are a little behind as well but we’re getting there! I’m not sure I’m going to get to basil bush status like last summer. :)

But it does look like I will have cucumbers coming out my ears! I think these baby cucumbers are so cute!

I love my pot of mint! A recipe for amazing Mint Chocolate Ice Cream is coming soon.
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Hoping for less bunnies, gentle rain showers every other day and an average temp of about 87 degrees the rest of the summer! :)

Easy Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread

We have been trying to eat sprouted or sourdough grains as much as possible but it’s not always easy. Our family can go through 5+ loaves of bread a week! We do buy Ezekiel 4:9 bread which is made from sprouted wheat but it is from the frozen section and to be honest- it’s a little on the tough side and just not our favorite. I was so happy to find this recipe- it only takes minutes to make (love my stand mixer!) and it’s soft, delicious, and slices up great for our pb&j sandwiches. This recipe is from Cultured Food for Life: How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness- I would highly recommend this book!

Sprouted Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons Celtic Sea salt
4 to 5 cups sprouted whole wheat flour

Directions:
1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, and mix on low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball.
2. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.
3. Punch down the dough, form it into a loaf, and place it in a greased loaf pan or baking sheet. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.

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Penne con Salsiccia

This pasta is one of my favorite ways to use up some of the arugula that’s coming in from the garden. And my kids will pretty much inhale anything with sausage! I’m not sure who to credit for this recipe- I clipped it from the Kansas City Star about five years ago.

Penne con Salsiccia
makes about six servings

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
4 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
16 ounces tomatoes, drained and chopped
ground pepper and salt to taste
1 pound penne pasta (I use the Jovial brand)
4 bunches arugula, rinsed and drained
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:
1. In a large skillet, heat three tablespoons olive oil on medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the chili flakes and sausage and cook until the sausage in nicely browned.
2. Add garlic, cook one minute more. Add vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan.
3. Cook several minutes until the vinegar becomes syrupy. Add tomatoes, cook another 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well, add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and toss. Add sauce from skillet; toss well. Add arugula; toss. Serve with grated cheese.

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Fourth of July

We had a fun and festive Fourth of July! Even Harry dog got a Fourth of July handkerchief!
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We had some fun Fourth of July snacks!

Red, white, and blue fruit salsa with star shaped cinnamon tortilla chips.
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Can you see Lainie’s hand reaching out to grab a watermelon star with provolone and blueberries?
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The kids enjoyed their strawberry smoothies- strawberries, yogurt, apple juice and honey!
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And of course, how can you have the Fourth of July without sparkler candles?
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This year, Lainie was old enough to compete in the annual Fourth of July Family Olympics and boy, was she excited!
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I can always count on my nephew to do a few photo bombs!
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The water ballon toss.
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But the real crowd pleaser was the sunflower seed spitting contest.

Lainie gave it her best, but Kate was the champion at shooting baskets.

Balancing a slippery piece of ice on a spoon while running is tricky. . .
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Especially when your baby sister is really good at it!
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And the final event was a relay race with American flags. Good job girls!

The champions receive their medals!
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And the boys knew just what to do with the leftover water balloons.
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Hope you had a great Fourth of July!

How to Make Kombucha: Part 2

Okay, now that you have your SCOBY, it’s time to make some kombucha!

Kombucha
this recipe will make about a gallon

Ingredients:
- 13-14 cups of filtered water
- 8 black tea bags
- 1 cup of sugar (yep, this uses sugar but the culture consumes the sugar)
- 2 cups of starter tea (kombucha from previous batch or if this is your first batch, white distilled vinegar can also be used)

Directions:
1. Boil the water and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Add the tea bags and steep (I leave mine in for about 10 minutes). Remove tea bags and allow the tea to completely cool. This will likely take a few hours!
2. Pour the sweetened tea into a clean brewing container- an empty gallon size glass mayonnaise jar works great! Add the starter tea or vinegar to the sweetened tea. Add the SCOBY to the tea.
3. Cover the jar with a tight weave cloth and secure with a rubber band.
4. Let it sit for at least five days, up to 30 days. I have found that with the warmer temps, the solution gets a bit tart or vinegary tasting if I go longer than about 10 days. Strain out the SCOBY and your kombucha is ready to go!

A few tips:
- Make sure all of your equipment and utensils are very clean!
- If you are culturing other products (like kefir or sourdough) keep them a few feet from each other so they don’t cross-contaminate.
- My husband likes his kombucha plain, but the kids and I like it flavored. There are lots of ways to do this but the simplest way it to pour the kombucha into heavy duty bottles like this along with a few tablespoons of fruit juice and let it sit at room temperature for a few days (no more than a week). BE CAREFUL! The kombucha can get really carbonated so use heavyweight bottles, leave extra room at the top of the bottle, and open it over a sink. Our favorite so far is 1 tablespoon of cherry juice concentrate. More ideas on flavorings here- scroll down to the bottom and look under recipes.
- If you see mold on your SCOBY or in your kombucha, discard the whole batch including the SCOBY and start over. More troubleshooting tips here.

Hope you enjoy your energizing, tasty, and inexpensive kombucha!
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How to Make Kombucha: Part 1

Kombucha is one of those great things that tastes great AND it’s good for you. It’s also a great substitute if you are trying to give up soda. Here’s more about some of the health benefits of kombucha. The only problem with kombucha is how much it costs to buy it! It can cost up to $3.50 per bottle! But the good news is that it is inexpensive and easy to make your own. To get started on fermenting your own tea, you need a kombucha culture also known as a SCOBY which is an abbreviation for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. There are several ways to get started with a SCOBY.

1. When I first started making kombucha, I ordered a a dehydrated SCOBY from Cultures for Health. It takes about 30 days to rehydrate the SCOBY and to get started on your first batch. Mine worked great for the first few batches, but unfortunately I had a batch get moldy so I had to throw everything out. I didn’t want to wait to get another SCOBY in the mail and rehydrate it, so I looked for some other options!

2. You can also take a “baby” SCOBY from someone else that makes kombucha- as you continue to make batches, the SCOBY will keep making more and more SCOBY’s! Although it can be a little tricky to find very many other people who make kombucha. But if you live near me I would be happy to share one with you.

3. The final option is to grow your own SCOBY which it the option I went with the second time around. It doesn’t always work but was much faster than ordering another dehydrated one! I took this method from the Food Renegade blog.

How to Make a SCOBY

Ingredients:
1 bottle of plain kombucha
1 glass jar
1 kitchen towel
1 rubber band
1 cup of room temperature sweetened (about 1 tablespoon of sugar to one cup of tea) tea made with filtered water

Directions:
1. Pour the sweetened tea and kombucha into the glass jar, cover with the kitchen towel (secure with a rubber band to make sure no bugs get in) and that’s it! Over time, a thin film should start to form over the top of the liquid. As it sits, it will continue to get thicker and thicker. Once the SCOBY is about a 1/4 inch thick, it should be ready to make your very own kombucha! There can be a lot of variation in this process and it’s possible that one will not grow but I had success on my first try- it took about 2 weeks to get a usable SCOBY. No joke- they are weird and gross looking but necessary for making kombucha.

Here’s how it looks after a couple days- you can see a jelly like substance starting to form in the corner.
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And a fully developed SCOBY.
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And next time- how to use the SCOBY to make your own kombucha!