Monday, March 25, 2013

Caramelized Beet & Onion Pizza

When my husband goes to the grocery store for me I never really know what he's going to come home with. Even if I send a specific list, there is at least one item that I hadn't asked for.  Many times it's a great treat, like the other night when he came home with some Lorna Doone cookies because he remembered that I said  I wanted a shortbread cookie.  One time he bought xanthum gum.  Does anyone even know what xanthum gum is?  I don't.

Last week he went to pick up some ingredients for strawberry ice cream {I would have posted about that but there isn't enough left to take a picture.  We'll have to make it again, I suppose}, and lo and behold he came back with a bunch of beets.  Beets?  I haven't eaten a beet since I was a little girl and my mom forced me to try one that my grandfather had grown in his garden.  I hated it and have avoided them ever since.  My face must have shown my disgust at this purchase, especially when he told me that I was to make a beet pizza out of them.

Who eats beets on pizza? 

Apparently people in Jackson Hole, Wyoming do, because that's where my husband tasted this creation while on a skiing trip in 2012, and he clearly never forgot about it.

I apologized for my irritated response, he apologized for assuming I would make a beet pizza, and then I researched how to go about cooking beets.  Most recipes I read said to roast them, but I didn't want to take the time to do that.  Caramelizing sounded like a good plan.  I don't even know if this is allowed in the culinary realm, but I did it.  And they turned out.  And I liked them.

Caramelized Beet & Onion Pizza

2 beets, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons butter

Garlic Butter:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 uncooked pizza crust {one of my favorite recipes is here}
1 cup mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, melt 2 1/2 tablespoons butter.  Add sliced beets and cook until tender, and slightly browned.  Remove from skillet.  Melt remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons butter. Add onions and cook following this method for caramelizing onions. 

Make garlic butter by melting the 2 tablespoons butter with minced garlic.

Spread garlic butter on uncooked pizza crust.  Top with caramelized onions.  Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.  Place beets on top of cheese and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

No Bake Cheesecake in a Jar

A few weeks ago we were preparing to host over 20 adults for lunch after church on Sunday.  I wanted to serve a nice meal, with a good dessert, but I didn't want to do a ton of work in the morning before church, or as people were arriving to eat.  After some brainstorming, online research, and input from my husband, I landed on a dessert recipe that ended up being perfect.

This cheesecake recipe is the easiest thing to make, it tastes good, and it looks pretty in the little mason jar.  I made a chocolate cheesecake and a plain one, then topped the plain cheesecake with fresh blueberries and raspberries, and the chocolate ones were topped with toffee bits.

I used various sizes of mason jars, just whatever I had in the kitchen.  If I was making these for a shower or bringing them to a friend's house, I would opt for those cute wide-mouthed small jars.  They are the perfect size, travel well, and would look super cute with a fun label on them.

Ready for the recipe?  I think you'll be shocked at just how easy these are.  I mixed them together the night before and then threw the fruit and candy on in the morning before church.  The toughest part was finding enough room to store 25 of these in my already packed fridge!

No Bake Cheesecake in a Jar

Plain Cheesecake:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*For the crust, I purchased a box of graham cracker crumbs and followed the recipe on the back of the box.  I then placed enough of the mixture into each jar to give it enough of the crust taste.  I refrigerated the jars like this for at least an hour before finishing.*

Combine all ingredients and spoon about 1/2 cup mixture onto prepared crust.  Top with fruit {or other toppings} of choice.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Chocolate Cheesecake:
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chocolate syrup

*For the crust on the chocolate ones, I purchased two pre-made chocolate cookie crusts {find it in the baking aisle} and crushed it up to make my cookie crumbs.  After placing in the bottom of the jars, I refrigerated these for at least an hour before putting the filling in.*

Combine filling ingredients and place 1/2 cup filling on top of prepared crust.  Top with toffee pieces, raspberries, or chocolate shavings.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

source:  slightly adapted from I am Baker

Thursday, March 21, 2013


If you had asked me eleven months ago what was special about today's date, I would have immediately answered, "Sometimes it's the first day of spring."

Now, a new answer would come from my mouth,  "Today is World Down Syndrome Day."

They chose this day, March 21, because it represents what is true of all people with Down Syndrome:  instead of two of the 21st chromosome, people with Down Syndrome have three of the 21st chromosome.  Down Syndrome is clinically called Trisomy 21.

My son was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 just two weeks after he was born, in April of last year.  Much has changed in my life since that time, and a lot of it has to do with becoming aware of Down Syndrome.  I never knew much about it, and so on this day, I thought I'd take some time to share a few facts with you, helping you to become more aware.

These facts are taken from the National Down Syndrome Congress Center:

  • Down syndrome is a common genetic variation which usually causes delay in physical, intellectual and language development.
  • The exact causes of the chromosomal rearrangement and primary prevention of Down syndrome are currently unknown.
  • Down syndrome is one of the leading clinical causes of cognitive delay in the world – it is not related to race, nationality, religion or socio-economic status.
  • The incidence of Down syndrome in the United States is estimated to be 1 in every 700 live births.
  • Of all children born in this country annually, approximately 5,000 will have Down syndrome.
  • There are approximately 1/4 million families in the United States affected by Down syndrome.
  • While the likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increases with maternal age; nevertheless, 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age, as women in that age group give birth to more babies overall.
  • There is wide variation in mental abilities, behavior and physical development in individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has his/her own unique personality, capabilities and talents.
  • 30% – 50% of the individuals with Down syndrome have heart defects and 8% – 12% have gastrointestinal tract abnormalities present at birth. Most of these defects are now correctable by surgery.
  • Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, early intervention, inclusive education, appropriate medical care and positive public attitudes.
  • In adulthood, many persons with Down syndrome hold jobs, live independently and enjoy recreational opportunities in their communities.

Reading this list seems quite impersonal, at least it did to me when I read it right after Mason was born.  But, it is helpful in understanding a little bit about Down Syndrome.  

There are some things that you won't read in the clinical descriptions.  These are the things that I've experienced during these months and I want you to know these things about Down Syndrome too, for these are the things that characterize our precious little boy and right now describe a bit of our life. {I realize some of these descriptions might not be true of all children with Down Syndrome, but this has been our experience}.  

Children with Down Syndrome tend to have low muscle tone, which causes physical delays in gross and fine motor skills.  What they don't tell you is that because of the low muscle tone, you will have a very snuggly baby.  Mason still loves to snuggle and it is one of the most enjoyable things for me.

The amount of affection displayed toward parents and siblings is insurmountable.  The joy that is shown on Mason's face when he sees us is contagious.  I have never felt so loved and adored as I do by this little boy.

Each milestone reached is an opportunity for rejoicing and great delight for all of us.  Our four-year-old and three-year old daughters are too young to understand Mason's condition, but they have joined right in with us as we have celebrated over things like rolling over, sitting up, clapping and doing 'so big'.  I never realized how critical each of these skills were until I knew that there would be delays in Mason's development.  

There are easy days and hard days.  Living life with a child with special needs is challenging.  I won't deny that I have struggled a lot this year.  You don't read in the literature about the ups and downs, but it's real.  Though I hate to compare, there is always a battle within me when I see other children the same age, or younger, who are capable of doing much more than my son.  I just want Mason to eat a Cheerio, or drink from a cup, or move from a sitting position to his tummy.  But, he can't; not yet.  And that's hard.   

You won't read in the literature how much your heart will expand with love for your child.  Yes, I love all my children, none more than another, but sometimes you wonder how you will feel toward someone who is different.  I can tell you that you will love them just the same.  Mason has completely captured my heart.

I could share a great many things, and I will write more in the days to come, but this is just a small list for you  on this World Down Syndrome Day.  

One thing I can share with great confidence is that Mason is loved, accepted, and delighted in by our family and friends.  We look forward to seeing what God has in store for this little guy.  

A friend just sent me a link to a blog post written by a mother who has a 5 year old son with Down Syndrome.  If you'd like to read another mom's perspective, someone who has walked this journey longer than me, I encourage you to go over and read her post, at Making Something Beautiful.  It encouraged me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rose Art Sidewalk Chalk Contest

Sidewalk chalk is such a fun way to enjoy being outdoors with my kids.  They love to draw on the sidewalk {and occasionally on our mailbox} and they especially love it when I draw for them!  When Rose Art contacted me about participating in a sidewalk chalk contest, I readily signed up!

I was sent three different packs of  Surprise Inside Sidewalk Chalk and chose one to use for my entry.  We were challenged to create some sort of outside project so I've submitted mine in the contest.  We'll see just how good my artistic skills are with sidewalk chalk.

I started out with this pack of chalk:

Since today marks the first official day of spring, I decided to draw a picture representing our favorite things about spring.  The girls and I came up with a list:  the sunshine, flying kites, going on picnics, flowers, Easter baskets filled with eggs, and celebrating the real reason for Easter.  The girls watched while I drew and they helped me to pick out the colors for each thing.  

After I was finished I had them take part of the picture.  Isabella wanted to sit on the picnic blanket and Mallory chose to fly a kite.  

Inside the pack of chalk was a surprise little toy, and that was required to show up in our project as well.  Our little surprise toy was a cute purple ladybug.

She found her home on one of the tulips in our picture.

I was impressed with how far this chalk went.  Our picture was pretty large, and there was enough chalk left for the girls to color their own picture.

Rose Art will be judging each of the entries and I should find out next week if I was a winner.

If you were reading carefully, you noticed that they sent me 3 packs of sidewalk chalk.

  Two of those {the ones you see pictured above} are to giveaway to two of my readers!  If you'd like to be entered to win one of these extra packs of chalk, just leave a comment on this blog post stating what surprise toy you think should be in the new surprise inside sidewalk chalk.  

The fun doesn't end there, though!  Rose Art is also holding a contest for YOU!  You have the chance to win a $200 Visa gift card.  That's a pretty great prize!  Here are the rules:

1. Go out and purchase a pack of the surprise inside sidewalk chalk {You can find it at Target, K-Mart and Wal-Mart.  It costs about $3/pack}.
2.  Create your own sidewalk chalk art and email it to me:  onlyfromscratch at
3.  I will submit your entry to Rose Art and they will choose their favorite one to win a $200 Visa gift card.
4. I MUST receive your entry by 4/8/2013, so you have a couple of weeks to work on this and submit it.

I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Ready, set, GO!!

I received a pack of sidewalk chalk to participate in this contest.  All opinions are mine.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ice Cream Outing Surprise

Last night we took the kids to get frozen yogurt {they think it's ice cream, so we'll just call it that}.  We don't do this very often, but it was a special day and we wanted to surprise the girls with some news.

 Usually they get to pick their own ice cream and toppings, but last night we were a bit more selective.  We wanted them to have a certain color.

Any guesses as to what we wanted to share?

You guessed it!  We're having another little girl!  She'll be joining us around July 7th, so I'm almost 24 weeks right now.  This pregnancy has been a little rougher than the others.  I think each one gets a little more challenging.  Not only am I older each time, but there are more children to care for, and that takes a toll on me.  I would be very happy if this sweet little girl decides to come a little early.

Isabella's response to finding out she would have a little baby sister, "Oh, that's so fun!"  Mallory was too absorbed in her ice cream to respond much at all.  She just wanted to know what her baby sister's favorite color would be.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around having another little girl in the house.  I was convinced this one was a boy, so I have to say I was a bit in shock yesterday afternoon.  I do have a few little outfits I picked up at a church swap last month, so her little wardrobe has begun.  I've saved some of the girls' clothes, but they were both born in the winter, so this little one will be sporting sizes in a different season.  I can't say I'm disappointed to have to get new little girl things!

Here's to ruffles, bows, ribbons, and lots of fun!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Are you looking for a healthy way to enjoy tacos?  This Pineapple Mango Salsa recipe is just the thing!  And, with warmer weather coming, the fresh flavors will make you feel like it's the middle of summer. In addition to the salsa recipe, I've also included a marinade I created for the grilled chicken tacos we made to go with this salsa. The marinade on the chicken was just perfect, and my husband said he would definitely serve this dish to guests.  That means it's a winner, in my book.


Pineapple Mango Salsa
1 mango, diced
1 can pineapple chunks, diced {reserve juice for use in the marinade}
1/3 cup diced red pepper
5 green onions, sliced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
dash of lemon juice
dash of sea salt

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate, covered,  for a couple of hours before using.  You can certainly add more cilantro, if you want more of a powerful cilantro flavor.

For the grilled chicken:

*I used two boneless skinless chicken breasts, and 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs.  This marinade recipe would certainly be plenty for up to 6 pieces of chicken.*

Pineapple Juice Marinade:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 teaspoon cumin
sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup olive oil

In a medium bowl, or dish that you will use to marinate the chicken, combine vinegar, pineapple juice, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic.  Whisk until combined.  Slowly add the olive oil, and whisk.  Place chicken in marinade, cover, and chill for 2 hours, up to all day.

Grill chicken until done.  Serve grilled chicken and salsa with other taco toppings of your choice.  We used small flour tortillas, sour cream, and cheese.  These are also delicious served in a leaf of romaine lettuce in place of the flour tortilla.

This salsa would also be perfect served with fish!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

For my birthday I decided to make myself a cake.  It might sound silly, but I had seen an episode on the Food Network of Giada de Laurentis making a chocolate layer cake, and I knew that's what I wanted.  Thankfully, her recipe was online, as I couldn't remember the exact ingredients.  This cake is delicious and we will definitely be eating it again. 

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup raspberry freezer jam {original recipe calls for raspberry puree, but I didn't have any and the freezer jam worked just fine}.

Dump cake mix into a large mixing bowl.  Scoop out one tablespoon of mix and stir it with the chocolate chips in a separate bowl.  {This keeps the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake}.  Add oil, water, and eggs to the cake mix and beat at medium speed until well combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Divide batter into two 9-inch round baking pans.  Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes.  

Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove to wire cooling rack until completely cool, about 1 hour. 

To make frosting:
Combine butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, cream cheese and sour cream in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy.  

Remove 3/4 cup of this chocolate mixture and add it to 1/4 cup raspberry jam.  

Place one cake on cake stand or platter and frost with the chocolate/raspberry frosting mixture.  Place second cake on top of this and use remaining chocolate frosting to cover the cake.  Garnish with fresh raspberries.  

Cake needs to be refrigerated, and can be made one day ahead.  Just be sure to store it in an airtight container.  

source:  slightly adapted from Food Network

Disclosure:  Yes, my blog is titled 'Only From Scratch'.  However, there are occasionally recipes that I find that are not completely from scratch, and yet are so delicious that I must share them here.  This is one of those recipes.  You could easily make this cake using a recipe for a chocolate cake from scratch, and just add the chocolate chips and make the frosting as called for above.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creative Ways to Reveal Baby's Gender

Finding out the gender of your baby either before birth or at birth are both exciting and it's a surprise either way.  We have taken the approach of finding out the gender with every other baby.  Our first and third babies were surprises, and number 2 we knew we were having a girl.  Why every other?  I don't want to know and my husband does, so we take turns.  We are expecting #4, so we plan to find out this time around.  Next week is our scheduled ultrasound, so as long as the baby cooperates we should know the gender by the end of next week.

One of my dear friends just found out yesterday the gender of their first baby and it was so fun to celebrate with her!  I've got gender reveals on my mind, so I thought I would round up some creative ways to reveal the baby's gender.

Put colored confetti in your hands, snap a picture and share.

Source: via Jessie on Pinterest

The ever popular colored icing in the cake.  Cut into the cake to find out if it's pink or blue.

Make a movie poster announcing the gender.  This is such a creative idea!
Put a little note inside of a plastic egg and give to friends and family.

Hire a professional photographer or ask a friend to take a picture of your family opening up a huge box filled with colored helium filled balloons.

What other creative ideas do you have? Share links in the comments!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Past Two Weeks

The past two weeks have been rather busy around our home.  I took Mason to the Doctor two weeks ago, because he had been running a fever, and it seemed like his breathing was not right.  It turned out that he had pneumonia, and by the time we were finished with his appointment, his oxygen level had dropped so low that he needed to be hospitalized.  What I thought was just going to be a quick check-up turned into a five night stay in the hospital with my little guy.  Because he has Down Syndrome, he's more prone to respiratory illnesses, so it takes a little longer for him to recover from these types of things.

He was a fantastic patient, though, and we had some wonderful times together just the two of us.

I copied these photos over from my husband's facebook page, so sorry for the poor quality!  I don't have a smart phone, so we only got a couple pictures when Bradley came to visit for a few minutes.

Sleeping sweetly hooked up to oxygen.

Smiling even with all those tubes and monitors on.

Most of my days were spent sitting in that crib with Mason.  Not how I would have chosen to spend time with my son, but we had fun together anyway.

Here are a few things I learned during my hospital stay:

1. McDonald's makes a good Caramel Mocha, awesome chocolate chip cookies and horrible salads.  {We stayed in a Children's Hospital, so naturally, the only restaurant available was McDonald's.  I think they need to re-think this, as most people who eat at the hospital are parents, not children}.

2. The Food Network channel is quite entertaining, specifically the show 'Worst Cooks in America'.  I was laughing out loud watching some of these people try to cook.

3. Blue Bell ice cream's new Mint Cookies 'n Cream is my favorite flavor and I have no problem eating an entire pint in one sitting.

4. Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo makes a good hand wash detergent.  The girls weren't allowed to visit because of flu season, so there were a couple days when Bradley didn't bring some essential reinforcements, aka unmentionables....

5. My church family is awesome {I already knew this but was reminded}!  They texted, called, prayed, brought food to my family, picked up groceries, and loved on us.

6. Our friends and family all over the world, literally, blessed us with their prayers, emails, facebook messages, and calls.

7. Our son is amazing!  He was on oxygen for 5 days and barely made a fuss.  He was hands down the best patient in the hospital, and definitely the cutest!

8. Our daughters are great.  Their world was turned upside down a bit and they handled it so well.  They rolled with all the changes:  no Mommy at home, their brother hooked up to tubes and monitors, late nights, napless days, and uncertainties.

9. My husband is pretty incredible.  He took care of the girls, worked, did 5 loads of laundry, kept the house in order, and managed everything with joy.

10. God demonstrates His love for us in so many ways.  Life throws us challenges and changes {remember this post}, but His love for us never ceases.  He carried us through that week and I felt His power in my spirit.  I had moments of despair, frustration, and irritation, but the Lord enabled me to get through each day with joy in the midst of it all.

Mason and I came home from the hospital last Sunday, and right away Bradley and I started gearing up for our church's annual Missions Conference.  We had a phenomenal time and I was challenged and encouraged in so many ways.  It was a busy week/weekend, but we loved every minute of it.

My birthday happened in the midst of all of that and I turned 31.  I had wanted to do a birthday post, sharing some blessings in my life, but that has been put on hold.  My down time these last few days has been spent napping and keeping my feet up.  I think I'm ready to tackle getting back to normal now, so hopefully you'll see some more on the blog these days.

There's a little re-cap for you of the past two weeks in my life!  And, now, here we are in March!  I can't wait for spring to come and I'm already feeling energized just thinking about the warmer weather.

Have an awesome day!