Archive for January, 2014

eye gaze (prc)

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

imageJust a quick update about the eye gaze device… Izzy is doing so great learning to communicate on her “talker.”  She actually asked Brandy some questions!  She asked, “how old are you?” “what are your hobbies?” “do you have pets?”  Brandy asked her each question and she said I am eleven.  I go to school, I like to color and I like to cook.  She said she has many pets.  So exciting to see her communicate.  We brought it home this weekend and Brandy came over so we could do software update.  She was sleepy but kept saying something was cold.  Brandy said is your drink cold? Izzy cleared it which means yes, you understand.

The next step is to get a bar to attach to her chair so she can talk wherever she goes!


food for the holiday!

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

I was talking to Amanda about the blog and she said she looks up recipes we’ve had by searching mylifeasannie and the food on google.  I totally forgot to post a few of the good things we had to eat over the holidays …

I made the salted caramel cheesecake again this year but almost took all the salt out.  The recipe adds later in comments amounts are for kosher salt, which I use, but it was still to salty for this salt loving girl!  So salt at your own risk.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Serves 2
Ha ha! Just kidding—I’ve served up to 20 people with one cheesecake. Ideally it probably serves about 10-12 people.
For the crust
About 15 graham crackers
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (note: I reduced this from 2 teaspoons. A number of folks in the comments said they found it was too salty. I made this recipe 4 times before posting this, and checked the measurements pretty carefully, I thought. However, I made it for Thanksgiving 2011 and realized that they WAY the crust is distributed in the pan can make it seem quite salty–if there’s a significant slope between the bottom and the sides, that fairly dense piece of crust can be overpowering to the rest of the recipe. So I’m recommending the reduction to the salt to account for the possible variations in the way people make the crust.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, grind graham crackers to crumbs. (If you’re using premade crumbs, you want about 8 oz or 2 cups, and you’ll want to do all these steps in a bowl.) Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. With motor running, add butter through feed tube. Process for another few seconds until combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a 9” or 10” (I have a 10” myself) springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2”. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even around the top; you just want to be sure it’s deep enough to hold all the cheesecake mixture.
3. Bake crust until slightly brown. You’ll just be able to smell it. This will take anywhere from 10-12 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
For the cheesecake
3 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 13-14 oz. can dulce de leche
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1. In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese until smooth, add dulce de leche and beat to combine.
2. Add flour and salt, beat to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. There should be no lumps.
3. Add the sugar and beat to combine.
4. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the eggs one at a time until just combined, about 30 seconds each. Don’t overbeat once the eggs are added; the cheesecake will puff up too much while baking, and the top will crack.
5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
6. Bake at 300 degrees F for 55 – 65 minutes. The center will seem to be only slightly set, and will be wobbly if you nudge it. The sides will puff slightly.
7. Cool completely on a rack, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (I have gotten away with a 5 hour cooling, but I was on edge that it wouldn’t turn out; overnight is really best). When I put it in the refrigerator to set up, I remove the ring from my springform, and put the cheesecake on a cake stand. You can leave it in the springform if you don’t have a cake stand.
For the caramel
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine. All those warnings about stirring caramel and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystal formation? I avoid all that by just never stirring it at all. If I need to move it around the pan, I just swirl it.
2. Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You’re looking for something that’s about the color of dark honey. The problem with caramel is that it goes from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye, so just when you find yourself thinking, “Any second now…” pull it off the heat. It should take 3-5 minutes.
3. Off the heat, carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
4. Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for awhile over a low heat. I’ve actually let it boil a bit–unintentionally–and just when I thought I’d ruined it, it turned out to be perfect.) Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top. I try to encourage mine to pool in the middle, but if you’re more of a drip-down-the-sides type, you can go with that. I just think the drippy makes sort of a mess on my cake stand, but maybe that doesn’t bother you.
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices (it’s pretty rich) with a sharp knife, wiping the blade clean after every slice.

Now that was a long recipe huh?

The next one is easier.  I made this chicken in the crock pot and then also made some black beans and nacho cheese.  Mom brought regular taco meat… I had all the toppings and we had a do it yourself nacho/burrito/taco bar!  It was really good and I liked the chicken really well.

Chicken Tacos


1 package of 1 oz Taco Seasoning packet
1 package of 1 oz Ranch seasoning packet
6 chicken breasts
1 can of Chicken broth
1 can of Chicken or Turkey Gravy
1/2 can water (when I say can I am talking about the gravy can, fill it halfway with water)
Sour cream and cheese and guac
Any toppings you want in your tacos


Add Taco seasoning, Ranch seasoning, chicken broth, water and gravy to crock pot and whisk together
Place chicken in crock pot
Cook on medium-high for 3 hours
Shred Chicken with forks and place shredded chicken back in the crock-pot
Let the chicken soak up the yummy juice in crock-pot for about 45 minutes.


I made this broccoli cheese soup in my big dutch oven not the crock pot like recipe calls for… but only because that worked for Christmas Day.  We had so much food, but his soup was yummy and every drop was eaten.

broc soup

  • 1/3 cup butter, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (12 oz) cans evaporated milk
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups small diced broccoli florets*
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, freshly & finely shredded


  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add garlic, flour and season lightly with salt and pepper then cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour in evaporated milk (whisk well to smooth). Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken then pour into a slow cooker along with chicken broth, diced broccoli and thyme. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or low heat for 6 hours.

  • Turn heat to warm (or off) and stir in heavy cream, then add in shredded cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

  • *From about 20 oz broccoli crowns, large stems cut off and discarded (or reserved for another use), florets diced into small pieces.

And the last one I’ll share tonight is these cheesy chicken enchiladas.  I made these for New Year’s Day.  Our family spent the day with Izzy’s best boy and his family.  It was a fun time and lots of good food!


Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
3 large or 4 small chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 1-oz. package taco seasoning
1 4.5-oz. can green chilies
6 10-inch flour tortillas
2-3 cups shredded White American cheese**
2 cups whipping cream
Salsa or pico de gallo

Poach the Chicken:
Place chicken in a large pot and cover by one inch with water. Add salt. Heat on medium-low heat, covered, until water begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and let chicken simmer (do not let water reach a full rolling boil) for about 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside. Reserve cooking liquid for rice if desired.

Make the Filling:
Sauté onion in olive oil until tender. Add cream cheese, taco seasoning and green chilies (with liquid) to onions. Reduce heat to low and stir until all ingredients are combined and cream cheese is melted.

Remove skin and bones from chicken if applicable (I highly recommend using bone-in breasts with skin any time you can as they are so much more flavorful and make a richer stock). Shred chicken with two forks and add to cream cheese mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Assemble Enchiladas:
Spray a 13×9 backing dish with cooking spray. Fill tortillas evenly with chicken mixture and roll into enchiladas. Place enchiladas in prepared baking dish, seam-side down.

Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over enchiladas. Pour whipping cream over cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove aluminum foil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until cheese has started to brown.

Serve with salsa and/or pico de gallo.

I cooked the chicken in the crockpot more along the lines of the taco chicken posted above for more flavor… and knowing I would appreciate a short cut on New Year’s Day!

Happy 2014.

Christmas is over…

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

This year (well technically last year since it is now 2014) I have heard more people than ever before say they did not want to decorate for Christmas.  I’m not sure if it had something to do with the later than usual Thanksgiving that left less than a month to get ready for Christmas, or if everyone is just too busy to do all that it takes to make Christmas the Christmas Pinterest causes us to aspire to.  I know I seriously debated decorating.  grinch

Who doesn’t love the Grinch and sweet Cindy Lou Hoo?  I think Christmas just seemed a little shoved down my throat this year.  Please Hobby Lobby do not put out Christmas ornaments at the end of the Summer!  I want the Christmas season to be set apart, special… not just a ploy for businesses to make a lot of money off of consumers.  So this was my train of thought as I was preparing to reminisce about our 2013 Christmas.  It was a bit BAH HUMBUG, until… I started swiping through the images on my ipad.  Looking at those pictures throughout the Holiday season reminded me that even though I may not have been in the right spirit, the right spirit was all around me like a big multicolored light fat santa hug.

I have been intending (very best intentions) to update this blog for a while and being enrolled in school full time and all the other things going on around us it just hadn’t happened.  So I was prodded pushed by a small world encounter.  My long time bloggy friend Kari, who I have actually met I believe three times in real life happens to be cousins with my nieces very very special teacher of many years (Darlene Turner) who happens to be BFF’s with Izzy’s wonderful teacher Melanie!  So somehow my Melanie ended up somewhere with Kari and it was relayed to me that I have been a slacker blogger!

The first task for getting ready for Christmas is taking a family photo.  I had decided to skip this part this year.  Amanda decided we would not skip it!  It’s always been a little challenging to get a photo of everyone or all the kids and get a good picture of Isabelle.  This year she was a super trooper and did very well, we even got some bonus pics!  I was glad Amanda pushed for Chinese food and picture taking because it was a fun evening with all the kids.










The last week before Christmas break was a week of parties for Izzy.  After school on Tuesday we all met up at her best boy’s house to celebrate Christmas with him & his family).  Izzy and Nathaniel always enjoy seeing each other.




Wednesday mom and I took lunch to the class (taco chicken, rolls, cinnamon rolls, broccoli salad and salad).  After lunch we had the gift exchange.  It was so much fun to be with the class for the afternoon.  They are our people and we love them.


Thursday we all went to Bass Pro for our annual Santa pics and activities.   Brandy and Izzy enjoyed shooting arrows and the three of us had fun riding on the carousal.  After lunch we all went to Abuelos and enjoyed mexican food.  Iz liked the flavored tea and the spicy mashed potatoes.





We had several family Christmas celebrations…

One with the kids… opening presents and a taco bar.






 Emelia made this reindeer sweatshirt for Amanda.


Christmas Eve in Bethany.


Christmas Day at home.




And Christmas evening at my brother’s home.

All in all a very merry Christmas.  I hope you had a merry Christmas too.