Friday, December 31, 2010

Crock Pot Cookin: Holiday Pot Roast

For the annual girls Christmas party this year G and I were tasked with making the main dish.  We opted for a traditional holiday roast.  In all truthfulness, I chose the recipe because I was looking for an excuse to use our Crock Pot BBQ Pit!  I ended up leaving the meat rack in place while I cooked the roast which didn’t allow the meat to completely marinate in the Worcestershire and bbq sauce.  Because of this, the roast wasn’t as tender as I would have liked but for a first attempt, I think it came out pretty delicious. 

The goods:


- 1 (4 pound) beef round roast
- 2 cups baby carrots
- 8 to10 peeled potatoes
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 5 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup barbeque sauce

In the pit! 


Step 1: Place beef roast in slow cooker, add carrots, onions, celery and potatoes 

Step 2: Season with garlic powder and black pepper

Step 3: Mix Worcestershire and barbeque and pour sauce over meat and vegetables

Step 4: Cook on low until the meat is tender, 6 to 8 hours while enjoying a glass of wine :)


I’ve got to hand it to our amigas - the menu was superb!  We chowed down on a fresh fruit salad, extra cheesy mac and cheese, homemade sea food gumbo, shrimp with mango salsa and mash potatoes from scratch.  I truly appreciate food presentation and these girls delivered.  Below are a few pics of our joyous feast!





Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Roybal Family Christmas

I can hardly believe that Christmas has come and gone and we are now nearing the end of 2010!  This Christmas was extra special to G and me for so many reasons.  Missy and Guy extended their holiday visit from the normal 4 days to an entire week which hasn’t happened in years.  We were able to see Dean for the first time in 6 months and had the opportunity to meet Chris’ mom as they made their way through New Mexico to California.  Also, G and I celebrated our 5th Christmas together which has only further confirmed my suspicion that we live in some sort of a time warp! 

For Christmas Eve we all headed out to Belen to celebrate the birth of little baby Jesus at the great’s casa (great grandparents).  I was so excited that we arrived in time to catch Jeanine and baby Silas before they headed back to ABQ.  He is such a beautiful baby and looks like he is doing great.  I was happy to be able to steal a few kisses :)  We all ate some yummy food and watched as all the kiddos opened gifts.  The highlight of the evening was watching as my sis picked her quilt from the many that my great grandma has made throughout the decades.  Grandma Chris made Missy a promise last Christmas when she was unable to come home, that the next time Missy was here she could pick any quilt she wanted from grandma’s collection.  For those of you that may not know, her quilts are valued more than gold in our family. Melissa ended up choosing the quilt that she felt had the best story/most family history.

The quilt Melissa chose was actually the last quilt that my GREAT, GREAT grandmother made before she passed away.  When she passed many years ago, all of her belongings were auctioned off and my great grandma bid and purchased this particular quilt so that it would stay in the family.  Her daughter (my great grandmother) finished the quilt in 1983 (the year that Missy was born) and now that very quilt belongs to Melissa and the children she will have one day (tear).


~ Missy, Grandma Chris and the heirloom quilt ~


~ This is the greats Christmas tree that they handmade out of grapevines collected on Lake Ozark ~

Following our visit to Belen we headed over to G’s ma and pop’s to spend the evening together.  This Christmas eve Georgia made her first turkey on her own (with a little help from Grace).  She was kinda figuring it out as she went but it came out delicious – good job lady!  Ozzy (the dog who thinks he is a human being) provided the entertainment while we all exchanged gifts, cooked and listened to Christmas music. 





Christmas morning began as is customary at my mom’s house.  Every year on Christmas morning we all make our way over to moms in our PJ’s to open gifts and have a little breakfast.  It was actually warm enough outside this year that we ate Christmas brunch on the back patio needing only one heater.  I know that sounds crazy, but we did and it was fun! 


My beautiful boys!


I know that Christmas is about so much more than gifts but there is nothing better than seeing the excitement on the faces of my little guys as they tear in to their gifts :)


Following Christmas at ma’s we headed over to the Otero casa to visit with the Orozco fam and EAT!  I now understand why people pack on the pounds during the holidays…sheesh! 



We ended our Christmas at the Roybal house with Georgia’s family.  Grace really pulled out all the stops this year!  Everything from her “tropical” themed Christmas tree to the Santa hat window treatments, it all looked great!  It’s a good thing G made that turkey because the turnout was HUGE and even with a 15lb turkey, a ham, a roast and a ton of other goodies, we had just enough to feed everyone!

We hope you all had a Christmas as special as ours and we wish you a happy and safe new year! 

Cheers!       




Nani, Cookies & Kids

About three years ago my mom and I started a little family tradition which I lovingly refer to as the Annual Christmas Cookie Palooza!  We figured it would be a good idea to do this every year because with all the stops we all make during the holidays, it’s always nice to have something sweet in tow for the fam and friends!  This year it was me, ma, Rudy, Devin and Ociel and together we were a bunch of cookie bakin fools!  This was the first year that Devin really got into it and let me just tell you – he was HILARIOUS!  He was in full entertainment mode and had the entire house laughing all night long.  By the end of the evening he was referring to himself as “the cookie master”…I don’t know where he gets this stuff :)   

This year we made peanut butter and jelly cookies, orange cinnamon chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate turtles, rice crispy treats and macaroons.  All together we whipped up about 15 dozen goodies!  It was a lot of work but tons of fun!

Here’s a few sweet pics ~


Thank goodness for the Kitchen Aid!  Little did I know that there was a beautiful red Kitchen Aid under the tree for me!  Thanks mom :)


Nani & the boys!  Don’t worry friends…I didn’t let the doggies come anywhere near the goodies! 


PB&J Cookies!


Rudy and Devin “the master cookie maker”


Nina and Devin had to get a little creative :)


The boys provided us with some lovely cookie making music!


All done :) 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Cheese Balls EVER!

If I were to pick a favorite food that my mom makes, it would have to be her Christmas cheese balls.  Now I know that there are tons of cheese ball recipes out there but trust me – hers are the BEST!  If you don’t believe me, ask my wife, ask my friends, siblings, anyone.  She’s made these cheesy wonders every Christmas for as long as I can remember and I’ve been known to eat an entire spread if left unsupervised (not my finest moment...).  I just finished making a batch on my own for the first time EVER and I'm so proud of myself!  I checked with mom before writing this post to get her permission to share the recipe.  I’ve posted it below and hope that at least one of you out there gives it a go!  It’s super easy and I promise you won’t be disappointed.         

What you’ll need to make 5 - 7 cheese balls:


* 5 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 3 boxes of 1/3 reduced fat Philadelphia cream cheese (24 oz.)
* 1 ½ cups of green chile (add a small amount to start and more to taste)
* 1 large onion – the onion is crucial…if you don’t like onions this recipe is not for you ;o)
* 6 oz. medium hot chile powder
* 8 oz. pecan halves
* Garlic salt to taste (I say, the more garlic salt the better)
* 2 boxes of Ritz crackers
* Wax paper

Be sure to give your hands a good scrub because you’re going to be using them!  

What to do:


Mix cheddar cheese, cream cheese, green chile, minced onions and garlic salt in a large bowl.  Mix well and taste.  If you think it could use more garlic salt and/or chile, feel free to add a bit more.


Chop pecans in to small pieces (I used a food processor for this - which I've pictured below).  Lay out two sheets of wax paper.  On the first sheet of wax paper sprinkle chile powder.  On the second sheet sprinkle the chopped pecans. 


Form mix in to 5 to 7 balls depending on size.  Coat your cheese ball with red chile powder first, then roll the cheese ball through the chopped nuts.  Gently pat each ball so the nuts stay put.  Place your finished cheese balls on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 24 hours.  You're free to eat your cheese balls right away...I just personally think they’re more flavorsome when they’ve marinated a bit.. 

These suckers are great as party gifts!  I hope you enjoy!


As I previously mentioned and in the spirit of Oprah – here is one of my favorite things!  I use this little chopper for everything :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Missy’s Christmas Wish…

So this year for Christmas my little sis had one small request.  She asked if I could make a photo album of HER ENTIRE LIFE…like I said, a small request.  I’m fairly certain that she asked this of me because she knew I would do it (and would enjoy doing it…that part is a secret).  Any who, I’m not going to lie – it was a mission.  The project started at my mom’s where I dug through a TUB of pictures dating back 20-some years looking for pics of sister bear.  It took several hours but I had a blast.  For my entire life, the only baby pictures I’ve ever looked through have been in the family photo albums which my mom stopped making when I was about 10 years old.  The great thing about the tub-o-photos was that I came across so many pictures that I’d never seen before.  I came across pictures of my parents when they had just started dating (they looked like babies), pics of my great grandparent’s right around the time they were married and pics of our early lake and camping trips.  It was pretty crazy to see the similarities between my married life and the married life of my parents.  They say we all eventually become our parents.  I guess I just never realized that all the things I love to do, I learned from them.

These pictures are so darn cute, they had to be shared!   


The Orozco Family Circa 1983 (in the desert…apparently)


This is my favorite dress from when I was little! Nick is so cute in his hat!


When Missy joined the family


Mom sewed all of our costumes growing up!  She has promised to teach me when it's baby time!


Loves this picture



At Grandma & Grandpas beautiful house on Lake Ozark!  I miss that magical place!

I would like to think that this post is a spoiler alert….but Missy totally knows what she is getting this year :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let It Snow!


Don’t worry…I just turned on the Christmas lights to snap a quick photo :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby making progress report…acupuncture

Grab a chair…this is a long one.

About a month ago, Georgia and I entered a new phase of our baby making journey – acupuncture.  As most of our family knows, we’ve been busy trying to get pregnant for about 9 months now.  I’m not counting the days and I don’t mean to keep record of the months either.  For me, this blog has always been the story of our journey to parenthood and this is where we find ourselves today.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the process of intrauterine insemination has its share of challenges.  Despite this, we are both wholly aware of how blessed we are to be in a position to finance all that has gone into making this little one.  Throughout this process, I’ve often thought about other gay and lesbian couples that are not as fortunate and are left with limited options when it comes to insemination, IVF, surrogacy and adoption.  I truly do believe that where there is a will, there is a way and I sincerely hope that all couples who wish to become parents are able to find a way to make it happen. 

Because of the limited supply of specimen for our chosen donor, Georgia and I decided from the beginning that if we were to get to our third attempt with no success, we would consider fertility meds.  So two months ago, following our third negative test, we met with our fertility Doctor and decided to begin clomiphene (clomid).  Clomiphene is in a class of medications called ovulatory stimulants. It works similarly to estrogen, a female hormone that causes eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released.  Clomiphene comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day for 5 days, beginning on or about day 5 of the cycle.  Our doctor warned that one of the few draw backs to this drug was that it could cause irritability and hot flashes.  I decided to air on the side of caution and do all I could to be understanding, patient and…well, quiet during G’s five day med cycle.  Little did I know that the side effects actually take place following the completion of the med cycle…not during.  All I’m going to say is that we both survived and that I believe the experience, like all of our experiences – made us stronger. 

Following our clomid cycle and 4th attempt, I think we were both pretty convinced that we would get a positive result.  Unfortunately following our 4th try, we didn’t have the success we prayed we would have.  Luckily, we got the news during the weekend of Halloween so we had plenty of friends and events to distract us.  To be completely honest, there was a small dark cloud over the Roybal house for a few days but together we pulled through it.  It’s funny, one of the questions I am often asked is “so are you guys going to switch to you now”?  I’m never surprised or offended when I get this question because I realize that we are in fact two women with a surplus of baby making parts.  I guess the best way I can think to answer is this – imagine for a moment that you and your husband decided to try and get pregnant.  What would your reaction be if after 4 failed attempts at conception he told you, “well this doesn’t seem to be working so let’s move on to plan B and adopt”.  I don’t know about the hypothetical husband in this scenario but that’s not a hasty decision I’m capable of making.  G and I are both aware that there are limitations involved in our situation but we are still a few “bus stops” away from that station.     

Right now, we are exploring the wonders of oriental reproductive medicine.  We began this leg of our journey at the recommendation of our fertility Doctor and a few close friends.  The treatment of fertility with acupuncture dates back 2000 years and has been found to dramatically improve the chances of becoming pregnant. Unfortunately, there are very few practitioners that specialize in the area of fertility in New Mexico, so we had to wait an additional 5 weeks just to get in.  Georgia has gone twice a week for nearly a month and thus far some days are good…some days, not so good.  Sadly, I’m not able to join her for these appointments because it is important that patients are in a state of complete relaxation during the procedure – and my voice tends to carry…        

Regardless of how long some of my days are in waiting rooms, it always makes me feel better when my wife enters the room.  For every appointment, despite what procedure Georgia has to go through (and many are not so comfortable) she always comes back to me with a hopeful smile on her face and in one moment, my strength is restored.  I do have my moments of weakness and I do feel left out of the experience at times.  I am after all in the baby making passenger seat, I’m the waiting room occupant and the one hanging on for ALL the details.  I’m lucky that Georgia does all she can to include me in EVERYTHING.  She answers all of my many, many, many questions.  She sits patiently in every one of our Doctor appointments while I drill our Docs with my endless inquiries.  She eats and drinks all the crazy health crap Dr. Oz tells me to feed her and she understands that in all of this, I’m not trying to be neurotic or overanxious…I’m just being me and we both just want a baby.    

Thanks for everything you’re going through for us honey, love you so much.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crock Pot Cookin: Green Chile Beef Stew

Back in early August, G and I bagged what felt like a thousand sacks of green chile.  Now here we are in December and over the past 5 months we’ve used ONE tiny bag of the dang stuff!  I am in desperate need of a little freezer space so the chile must go!  I’m going to try to infuse green chile in my next couple of crock pot recipes, so if you’re not a fan of the hot stuff, feel free to eliminate that ingredient from the mix.  I wanted to start “operation use the damn chile” with a beef stew because I think we can all agree that green chile stew is a classic must have in the winter!  The batch of chile I’m using today is very HOT so I’m only going to toss in a little and if it’s not too fiery when I sample the stew tomorrow – I’ll add a bit more!  I opted to use the store bought beef stew seasoning packet because it is a much healthier option then going the traditional route (i.e. flour and lard)…you can find the packet I used – McCormick Slow Cookers Beef Stew Seasoning in the spice aisle (your arteries will be glad you did)!   Happy cooking ~

What you’ll need:


~ 1 pkg. McCormick Hearty Beef Stew Seasoning
~ 3 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
~ 5 to 7 cups cut-up vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
   (Klondike potatoes are my favorite)
~ 1 can fat free beef broth
~ ½ cup water
~ 1 can diced tomatoes
~ ½ to 1 cup diced green chile
~ 3 teaspoons garlic powder
~ Salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

Step 1: Place beef and vegetables in 5 quart slow cooker.

Step 2: Mix seasoning pkg, garlic powder, water and broth until blended.  Pour over beef and vegetables; toss to coat well. Cover.

Step 3: Cook 8 hours on low.  Stir before serving.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe makes 6-8 servings and goes great with toasted garlic bread!

 

This is the perfect dish for serving a full house during the holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Next to Halloween, Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.  One of our traditions during the Christmas season that I absolutely love is the “girls Christmas party”.  This little event began several years ago when Georgia and her best friends decided to have an annual girls night complete with dinner, cocktails and a secret Santa gift exchange.  A few years ago I was invited to join in the festivities and it has become something I look forward to every December.  This Christmas it’s our turn to host the shin dig so we’ve been busy decorating and getting in the Christmas spirit.  I have a Christmas china collection that I started about three years ago and I’m SUPER stoked that I’m going to actually have an opportunity to use our pretty dishes (yes, I find china exciting...sad but true).

Last year around Christmas we were just getting back from Mexico so all we basically put up was a tree and two stockings.  This Christmas I plan to make-up for my lazy decorating and go all out!  For years I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect skinny tree and a few months ago I finally found it.  I found the tree at Sam Club and even though it was exactly what I was looking for I really couldn’t rationalize spending that much money on green plastic...I decided to save a little each month so that once December came around it wouldn’t feel like such a hit to the pocket book.  The tree strategy worked out and we now have our beautiful pre-lit slim and tall Christmas tree!


I know that this year Christmas is going to be difficult for so many families.  The economy seems to only get worse each month.  Homes continue to go into foreclosures at alarming rates and so many people are out of work.  This is the first time in my young career that I have been witness to such struggles and it saddens my heart.  When times are tough like this I think it’s only natural to feel stress and anxiety when thinking about the upcoming holiday.  I really believe that for a lot of families the small joy of taking out the Christmas d├ęcor, hanging lights and gathering around the Christmas tree brings an incredible feeling of much needed happiness.      


In my attempt to get all my BAH HUMBUG friends (you know who you are…) in the Christmas spirit, below are a few pictures of our home decorations this year.  I wish to spread Christmas cheer and motivate everyone that may not be in the mood to bust out those decorations and be joyful!


‘Tis the season!


My favorite decoration – our tree lot!  We add a new tree to the lot every year :)


Christmas garland and the manger that once belonged to Georgia’s ma!


G is so cute!  I bought this cookie and milk set a few years ago and when we were shopping at Hobby Lobby last week she ran up to me so excited because she found fake gingerbread cookies to add to the set!


Kitchen Christmas blocks :)


Between my sister and Georgia’s brother flying in, we have a pretty full house at Christmas!  We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Happy decorating!! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Albuquerque The Magazine ~ Best of the City

Congratulations to my totally driven, entrepreneur, super talented small business owning brother Domonic Orozco!  His barbershop, Campus Barber, was voted best in the city by Albuquerque The Magazine!  This is the 3rd year in a row that Dom’s shop has made the top 3 and the 2nd year that he has been voted #1.

We know how hard you work Dom and we are so proud of you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Crock Pot Cookin: So Easy Southwest Chicken

As the name suggests, this recipe really is soooo easy!  For the first time in my crock pot adventures, I had all the ingredients in the pantry and was actually able to make the meal without running out to the grocery store – hooray!  Prep time for this low-fat dish is right around 15 minutes and it serves 6 people.  If I were to pick a favorite ingredient, I would have to say the cumin spice is what really gave this recipe its delicious flavor.  I chose to make this chicken dish for my cousin Justine who joined us for dinner!  I paired the southwest chicken and brown rice with pillsbury biscuits (thanks Justi).

Both Justine and Georgia loved it and I’m sure you will too!

The goods:


- 2 cans (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14 ½ ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
- ½ - 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 jar (8 ounces) chunky salsa
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups hot cooked brown rice

Before the cookin in a smaller crock pot...



After the cookin…



Step 1: In a 3-qt crock pot, combine the beans, broth, tomatoes, chicken, salsa, corn and seasoning.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Step 2: Shred chicken with two forks and return to the crock pot; heat through. Serve with rice.

*Not spicy enough for you?  Feel free to add a few more ounces of salsa and/or a little hot sauce.

Enjoy!

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