Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday's Cooking Experiment or What Is For Dinner

****Disclaimer: Okay, whatever you do, please do not tell my children any of this is healthy. Thing Two cannot even handle the term "organic". Also, this is not a cookbook meal. This isn't a great meal, but it was fun. Shouldn't cooking be fun?****

The kids and I needed dinner tonight, and Fridays are special. Usually, Friday is pizza night, and tonight was no different, but I wanted to eat in to budget and to be just a little bit healthier (ssshhhhh). So, in the process I came up with my own recipe for chicken pizza. This isn't a buffalo chicken pizza, even though those are the bomb. My son is too picky for that. Instead, I began with a store bought wheat pizza crust, and I brushed olive oil on it and used a little dab of fat free butter spray. I then cut one large chicken breast in cubes and browned it with olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh peppercorn, and a dash of kosher salt. Yummy, but I wanted more. I then grabbed my bottle of Worcester sauce and sprinkled away. The smell was heavenly. I think I am going to fix that again this week and eat over couscous or rice. After the chicken breakthrough, I sprinkled low milk fat pizza blend cheese over the crust, added chicken, and then another layer of cheese. Now, have you noticed anything missing? I didn't add sauce. I have no idea why; we all like the sauce, but I wanted something different. I baked it at 425 for 11 minutes.

Final verdict? Thing One and Thing Two ate two slices each and were very happy with the results. We ended the meal with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. The best part was the involvement of the entire family in making the meal. Nothing better than a full kitchen, dancing kids, and loud music.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Check out this blog: The One Minute Writer

A friend (Hi, Brian) sent this to me last year, and I often use it with my students for pre-writing or beginning activities:

Today's prompt: Write a brief poem reviewing a book or movie you have read or seen.

I wanted to share mine with you today. This is a haiku dedicated to my all time favorite book, East of Eden.

East of Eden

Steinbeck Amazing
Cain, Abel, heartbreaking, yes
Father forgiveness

If you make this blog a part of your every day routine, I swear you will find out more about yourself. You never know what you will find when you only have a minute.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday....

Today has been, well, a day. Thing One had her first day in soccer camp, and that meant Thing Two got to run errands with me, my grandmother, and my mother, and by 10:30 this morning, I had already been to two doctors' offices and Lowes. I managed to get to school and work this afternoon, only to come home and find my air conditioner was broken. Thank goodness my landlord came ASAP, and my house is once again a haven and not Hades.

The kids and I did have one cool indulgence that made everything easier to handle: cookies and cream cheesecake cupcakes. We found the recipe on a wonderful blog called 52 Cupcakes. She is a cupcake queen who is trying to make all of Martha Stewart's 175 cupcakes, similar to the Julie/Julia project. I love her blog because it is giving me so many delicious ideas and confidence. Yes, I am becoming comfortable and confident in my own kitchen. For example, I have never made homemade cheesecake before, and I may never buy store bought again. I am far from a "foodie" just because I lack any natural talent, but I find the more I read and make, the more I like it. Not easy to come out of my comfort zone, but it is sweet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Recipe: Nacho Pie

****Disclaimer: I am not a professional cook, and I cannot even claim to be a good cook, but I do watch Food Network on TV. Once again, I just know what I like.****

I have to admit, I may think I came up with this last night, but I bet there are people all over this fine world who have already made nacho pie on their own, but when something is quick, easy, and good, it still must be celebrated. Better yet, when the kids clean their plates, the clean up is easy, and the meal was not complicated, that is when I celebrate.

1 lb. of lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 cup of Bisquick
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 onion
taco seasoning packet
1 cup fiesta blend cheese
1/2 cup baked nacho chips
Sour cream
black olives
fresh diced tomatoes

1. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. Preheat over to 400

2. Brown onions until soft and then brown meat

3. While the meat is browning, mix the Bisquick with the eggs and milk. pour in loaf pan and set

4. Drain the meat, and add taco season and fix according to directions on package

5. Add meat to Bisquick mixture by spooning down the center

6. Cover with cheese and crunched up nacho chips

7. Bake until brown, about 30 minutes

8. Garnish with extra cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and black olives or anything to your taste

Maybe not original but really good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Music for The Day: Ghost in My Head

****Disclaimer: Once again, I have no entertainment or music experience outside of a church choir. I just know what I like****

I have eclectic taste in music, and if you shuffle my Ipod, you will find every style represented from classical to electronic. However, as I grow(prefer that to age), I find myself listening more to what Itunes calls "singer/songwriter". I just call it crunchy rock. That is the noise you make when you eat granola, and I know this comes from listening to the Indigo Girls and The Grateful Dead in college. I tend to favor singers who are more comfortable in a coffee shop than a stadium. I like the intimate feel of crunchy, granola rock, and this describes Jill Hennessey's debut CD, Ghost in My Head perfectly.

Some people who are not familiar with country music may consider this as country, but there is a difference. This is more folk than anything with a guitar, a message, and a beautiful, soothing voice. Perfect listening for a cool summer night with the windows open. Hennessey's voice is not synthetically perfect like every pop princess on the radio. Instead, we find something more, deeper, multi layered, and richer. It is just genuinely real. You can see this directly in the songs "Slow Down" and "Save Me".

Here is Jill Hennessey singing "4 Small Hands":

OH, I am writing this as I watch The Today Show, and Katy Perry is butchering her own songs. Great personality and seems like a lot of fun, but it almost seems more like karaoke on the plaza.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pine Sol, Baby

The truth will set you free, or in my case, cause me to scrub down my living room walls with Pine Sol at 2 AM. I rediscovered a not so well kept secret by somebody who I once loved, and I cleaned to avoid the fact it still can hurt sometimes, even after all these years. The past has a beautiful way of reminding you that you are human and flawed, but in a way, I am thankful now for the pain and muck. I didn't exactly make lemonade with what life gave me, but I sucked the lemon, dealt with it, and tossed it away. My life is my own, and I now have really nice shining walls and a clean, fresh scent.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All Shook Up

Thing One came running into the living room with a look of shock and fear on her face. Immediately I started looking for Thing Two. I just knew she was finally successful her in her quest to flush him down the toilet. I just wish it had been that simple.

"Mom, did you know Jared Leto is old?"

"H., he isn't that old. He is my age. I need to get you My So Called...,"she didn't even give me time to finish.

"No, the guy from 30 Seconds from Mars cannot be your age," her words dripped with pure disgust. She was treading on dangerous territory. Didn't she realize she was talking to the woman who controlled her next CD purchase, Hot Topic tee, and her college tuition?

"Baby, I am really not that old."

"No, you aren't. You are the perfect age for a mom but not a rock star." I almost expected her pat me on the head and ask if I needed more prunes.

"Well, don't say that to Madonna."

"Who? Oh, that old lady on your Ipod."

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Turning Toward the Sun

I have always loved sunflowers. My first bedroom after leaving college was black and white with bright yellow sunflower accents. When I married I decorated my kitchen in sunflowers and daisies, my favorite two flowers. There is a fierceness in their beauty as they grow tall and strong, pushing forward toward the sun, symbolizing beauty, warmth, and happiness.

I was reminded of this as I walked with my children this past weekend. The evening was cool, and we went to the ruins of our hometown. The scars from the Mother's Day flooding are still raw and red. Several homes are shuttered and abandoned while many empty lots hold the ghosts of the families that once lived there and thrived. Those who remain are defiantly rebuilding,cleaning, and hoping that they can begin again; however, among the weeds of the abandoned something bright caught my eye. The sunflower was there.

At first I thought I was seeing things, but yeah, in the middle of three damaged homes, grew several flowers. One mile down, in the yard of a home where the walls collapsed, stood an entire garden of sunflowers. Yes, in the dirt and remaining sand, there they were. We counted and soon found over twenty. It was really an amazing sight to see. Where people no longer dwelled nature brought comfort and beauty.

Life is messy and filled with mud and muck. Sometimes it brings you down and makes you just as dirty as the flood waters that swirled over you, but with time and patience something beautiful may grow from it. Hopefully this will be the case of our small community.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Anybody Want a Cupcake?

I have been baking this summer. I have made several cobblers and a few dozen cookies, but they have been tailored for the taste buds of my parents. The kids have been fine with that, but nothing has made them want to be in the kitchen with me. I needed something to make the "ohs" turn into "Ahhhs". After much deliberation(two minutes at least), the answer came to me, cupcakes.

Cupcakes and childhood go hand in hand. Just saying the name conjures images of school parties, holidays, and my mom not being able to find her muffin tin. I wanted to bring that magic back home, but I wanted to avoid the synthetic, conveyor belt taste of our local bakeries. I live in rural America, and we sadly lack the gourmet cupcake shops that seem to be springing up everywhere but here. I am not adding extra laps of walking for cardboard covered with sugar.
I turned to the Internet for recipes, and in doing so found Martha Stewart. Not a huge fan of her, but this woman knows her cupcakes.

The kids and I made Martha's Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes, and they are amazing. The cake is absolutely delicious and will melt in your mouth; however, in following the recipe, I found the icing had a bitter aftertaste, as mentioned in the reviews. I added more vanilla and sugar, and that took care of that.
This really turned this mundane, cool rainy summer day into an adventure. Both kids were up to their elbows in batter and icing, and they did a great job. They may not look like Martha's, but in my opinion, they are better. They taste as good as they look.

Now you must excuse me. We have earned those extra laps.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

First Post or Why I Loved Public Enemies

***Disclaimer: I am not a film student. I am not a critic or anybody with any real knowledge of the film industry. I have friends who make movies and produce plays. I have friends who have IMDB credits, and my ex wrote screenplays, so take any of this with a grain of salt.***

If I like a film, I usually come home, mention I liked it and promptly forget all about it, but if I love a movie, I come home and analyze lines or camera angles. It becomes a brief obsession, and Public Enemies is now officially on that level. I shouldn't have even liked this film due to the historical inaccuracies. I am a history major, and films with their own time lines for entertainment purposes usually just annoy me. This is the same reason why I could not enjoy Titanic when it first came out. Too many people died for it to be entertainment (I am now off my soap box and can watch it). Don't go to this one and expect a history lesson. Wikipedia is more accurate than this. Maybe it was the documentary feel that came from the hand held camera. Maybe it was the unexpected impact of the love story. Maybe it was the beautiful clothes and amazing soundtrack, but I inhaled in the first scene and didn't exhale until the closing credits. Johnny Depp proves once again why he is the greatest actor of my generation. He captured, of course, the sexy/cool charm that made Dillinger an icon, but he goes deeper and keeps him from becoming a caricature. His subtle movements convey more than any single line of dialogue. Christian Bale? Once again, he has a solid performance. Handsome man who can quietly command a scene. He glowers and looks anguished here, and then he goes over and glowers and looks anguished there. Christian Bale is a solid dramatic performer, but even as a fan, sometimes I miss the lightness of young Laurie in Little Women. Okay, I get it, you have dark and brooding down. You are a dramatic actor and you are good at it, but one day, just for fun, lighten up a bit. Batman, Terminator, and now Purvis, Bale proves he can glower and brood with the best of them; however, with that said, I do like how the film foreshadows the tensions between the glory hound Hoover and Purvis. Even though the character is never fleshed out,which isn't Bale's fault, it does show he is a man tormented. Purvis, as a man, was an enigma, so that may explain why we never really know why Dillinger was his personal white whale.

I also purchased the soundtrack, and the score is beautiful, but come on, this is a Michale Mann film, and he is known for the music he chooses. The score is haunting, rich, and complex. I listened to "JD Dies" so many times last night, I felt the strings were carrying me away. Even though all the songs are amazing(Billy Holliday, yeah,yeah), "Ten Million Slaves" truly sets the tone for the entire film. Enjoy.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Here I go again, trying to throw my words to the universe while finding a catharsis for my soul. My first experiment in blogging failed due to my own inability in seeing that my words mattered. Now, I collect myself and try, try again. This isn't an attempt to find myself, but only to make who I am better. I hope you can come on this awkward and stumbling journey with me.

Perfect Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Today was a very busy but lovely beginning to our Halloween Festivities.  My husband and I went to a Farmers' Market that was featuring ...