Thursday, September 29, 2011

"You Can Write, but You Can't Edit"

 Unfortunately for me I have the "Pina Coladas" song stuck in my head.  It's unfortunate because I really want to listen to my "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack, but my husband is sleeping.  So I guess I'm stuck rocking out to "Pina Coladas" (in my head at least).

    Lately I've had a bit of trouble with blogging.  I haven't been able to think of what I wanted to write or how I wanted to come across, so I could never get started.  I couldn't figure out what was making this so hard, and then it hit me.   The problem was I was trying to plan what to write.  Unlike everything else in my life, writing is not something I plan; it works best for me if I just let it run its course.  Also, I've been trying to write by thinking of the reader first.  As much as I appreciate y'all reading this, I didn't start it for anyone other than me.  I write because I enjoy it, and it helps me get things off my chest, even without airing my dirty laundry for all the world to see.
    I think this form of editing, or more like "pre-editing", has carried over into my daily life.  Being so afraid of what someone might think or say has become a huge hinderance.  Who am I living my life for anyway, them or me?  I think I can officially wave "bye-bye" to editing my life.

   I saw this on Pinterest the other night (go figure), and it really spoke to me, so I will leave you with these words of wisdom to ponder this evening, before I join my darling J in dreamland :-)

 P.S.--Ten points to the first person to tell me who the singer of the song in the title is, and 5 points to whoever gets the name of the song :-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shake Ya Tail Feather

     Ho hum, what to blog about tonight?

     This weekend was rather tame.  I was at home mostly, but I did end up going Halloween shopping both yesterday and today.  Yesterday my co-hostess and I went to WalMart to buy a few more things for our upcoming party.  I decided in July or August that I wanted to do a Halloween party, and I don't think I could have asked anyone better to help me hostess.  Amanda is probably just as crazy about Halloween as I am, if not more so, so it's all coming together very nicely.  Today J, Monkey, and I went to Party City to get costumes.  I had to order Monkey's online because she wants to be Ariel, and most of the Ariel costumes don't even look like the mermaid.  I've been feeling the 80s this year, so I went ahead and bought a Cindy Lauper style wig and a few 80s accessories.  There was a pair of leg warmers and a reversible pettiskirt I am definitely going back for next weekend.  J decided on a scary costume that they didn't have in the store, so we'll have to order it later.

     I can't wait until October!  It's the first of a string of wonderful events for my family.  My grandparents who live in Florida are traveling to visit in the middle of October.  My godson will be turning one shortly thereafter.  Our Halloween Bash will be the weekend before the actual holiday, and then there's Halloween itself.  Not to mention November, which will contain the Reba concert and Disney trip that I'm so pumped about.  Then of course comes December!!!  I'm so excited about all the things to come.

    If there were anything for the Suzy Sunshine wanna-be to complain about it would be the lack of cool weather, but here's hoping the next month will bring it on.  Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the weather, the imminent holidays, and the family  get-togethers that usually accompany the start of football season.

   Although the weekend has been rather tame, there is one thing I have to add before I move on to the recipes.  Yesterday, Monkey was looking a bit too bored, so I decided to pull out my ill-used Zumba DVD.  She loves "dancing" with Mommy.  Although it's sad to admit, I hadn't done my Zumba exercises  since before my husband came home.  That means he's never witnessed this workout routine, and I had hoped to keep it that way.  I'm glad I didn't though, because for some unknown reason, he decided that 20 minutes of watching were enough, so he wanted to join in.  What followed were some of the most uncoordinated moves I have ever seen in my live.  It was so cute, because he was honestly trying to keep up, but he just has no rhythm.   Then just to have a little fun, I constantly remind him to "put your hips into it!"  That would lead to a few jerky moves somewhere in the general vicinity of his hips, and then he's be off step again and just struggling to keep up.  I don't think my sides are this sore today from the workout.  I think all that laughing did that to me.

    After a struggle like that I had to reward him somehow, so of course, I did it with food :-)  He loved this recipe, and Monkey did too, so it will be made again.  Oh, and this goes with out saying, but I found the recipe on Pinterest.

Pizza Pasta

1 (16 oz) bag pepperonis
2 jars spaghetti sauce *You can use pizza sauce if you prefer.
16 oz shredded Italian cheese blend
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 (16 oz) pkg rotini (spiral) pasta, cooked

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13" baking dish.  In large bowl mix sausage, sauce, half of pepperonis, pasta, and a handful of the cheese.  Pour mixture into baking dish.  Top with remaining pepperoni.  Sprinkle all but about a handful of cheese over the top.  Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil, and bake 10 more minutes.  Top with remaining cheese.  Enjoy!

    As I've been typing, I've been supervising Monkey's playtime in her room.  She has a little Ariel doll and a dollhouse.  The two are not meant to go together, as Ariel is about as tall as the house, but Monkey's two so anything goes.  As I'm watching she repeatedly has Ariel walk through the front door, go upstairs, jump out the window, and then get up and do it all over again.  J is watching too, and his concern is that Ariel will hurt herself before she learns her lesson. I point out that Ariel doesn't have legs, she has a tail, so maybe there aren't any bones that can be broken.  He's worried she's going to break her tail feather.  I think I'm going to leave that comment alone and call it a night.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Working Mom

   *sigh*  It feels so good to just sit still.  I've decided that I'm in need of some sort of balance right about now.  I sit all day at a desk at work, then I come home and run around like a chicken with her head cut off, only to find myself wishing for two seconds where I can just sit and be still.  Ugh!  Something's got to give.

   Today when I got off of work, for some strange reason I decided that it would be fun to try a new recipe. This is nothing new, but what is new is that this recipe required a lot of prep.  I made Paula Deen's Apple Buttery Pear Pie, and it was yummy.

Apple Buttery Pear Pie
3/4 cup sugar
6 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of red pepper
1/2 cup apple butter
2 TBS lemon juice
6 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced Bartlett pears
2 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 (14.1 oz) pkg refrigerated pie crust
1 egg yolk
2 TBS milk
sparkling sugar (optional)

   Preheat over 350, and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray with cooking spray.  In large bowl whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, cloves, and red pepper. Whisk in apple butter and lemon until smooth.  Stir in apples, pears, and butter.  Scoop mixture onto lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes or until fruits are tender.  Uncover and continue to bake for 10 minutes or until juices are slightly thickened. (Oops, I just realized I missed this step completely, ah well.)  On lightly floured surface roll out one pie crust into a 12" circle.  Place in bottom of your 9" deep-dish pie plate, and trim off excess crust 1/2" from edge of plate.  Spoon apple mixture into pie plate.  Roll out the other 9" pie crust to 12", and cover pie.  Press crusts together around rim.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and milk.  Spread over top of pie crust, and sprinkle with sugar if desired.  Cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape.  (Essss-Cop-a, as Dori would say.)  Bake 30 minutes or until pie is golden.

   That pie was all well and good, but next time I'll make it when we're having leftovers or something from a crock-pot.  That way I won't have to cook two things at once while trying to chase my husband and monkey away from the sliced fruit.

   For dinner we had Tortellini Florentine.  This is a recipe my mom taught me.  She loves it, and I'm pretty fond of it too.  It's quite quick.  Thank goodness I had all the ingredients handy b/c my darling husband decided at the last minute that he wasn't in the mood for what I had planned to cook.  Oh well, he'll get that for dinner tomorrow night ;-)

Mom's Tortellini Florentine
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 clove garlic-pressed
1 cup milk, warmed
1 cup chicken broth, warmed
salt & pepper (or Tony's :-D)
1 (10 oz) bag fresh spinach, chopped
2 TBS butter
1 (9-12 oz) pkg 3-cheese tortellini

Florentine Sauce:
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium hear.  Add flour and garlic, cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Stir in warm milk and broth.  Add seasoning.  Bring to boil.  Gradually stir in spinach until wilted.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Taste for seasonings.

Meanwhile cook tortellini in a large pot of boiling salt water until done (about 6 minutes).  Drain, and place in baking dish.  Toss with butter, salt and pepper (or Tony's).  Serve topped with Florentine Sauce.

You can even add chopped chicken breast or shrimp if you so desire.

   Although I love both this dinner and the dessert, I must make a mental note never to serve them together again.  This tortellini dish is rich enough without following it up with a Paula Deen dessert.

   Ok, so working moms out there, this one's for you.  I keep feeling like everyday when I get home I don't have enough time, and I get off at 3:00 every afternoon!  Like tonight, I was so determined to treat my family to dessert, which has become a rare thing in our house since I started this job, that I totally missed out on everything.  Granted, I didn't realize how long it would take to peel and core all those pears and apples.  Then I didn't factor in my husband's request to switch entrees.  By the time I looked at a clock it was 6:00, then before I knew it, it was Monkey's bedtime.  Too much of that has been happening lately.  I almost miss the days when I had nothing to do but spend time with her.

   On top of slacking as a mommy (Have y'all noticed there are no new crafts mentioned?), I also feel like my house is getting out of control.  I feel like every time I turn around I need to mop again (which is no longer soothing when I have my husband telling me I'd rather mop than spend time with him).  The dishes are never finished, and as I'm typing this J is folding clothes that have been sitting in the dryer for three days!  Ahhhhhh!!!

    Then when I finally get a second, the husband wants attention!  Lord, please just help me out here.

   Maybe tomorrow I'll just make everyone eat leftovers.  Maybe tomorrow I'll come home and clean before I go get Monkey from daycare.  Then maybe I'll take her to the park.  Yeah.... maybe.........

  I guess this is my come-uppance for being Miss Suzy Sunshine :-P, but hey, life's still good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Suzy Sunshine meets Shrimp Scampi

    I've seriously got to get on the ball here.  One blog a week???  I know y'all need more of my charming personality than that in your life.  ;-)  At the risk of sounding like little Miss Suzy Sunshine, life's been amazing lately.  I know, I know, "gag me", right?  Well if it's any condolence, being Miss Suzy Sunshine comes at a cost.  I've discovered that I'm rather boring when I'm not forced to carry a 175 lb dresser up my stairs by myself and assemble it single-handedly or wrestle with two dogs and a toddler in the parking lot at PetSmart.  Ah, well.  At least there's one thing that never changes: my love of food.  Second to that is my love of sharing good food :-)  That's where you guys come in.

    So since I'm boring, let's get down to business.  The first recipe I want to share is one that I found on Pinterest.  It's a Cinnamon Roll Cake, and it was quite yummy.  Unfortunately one of my two house-gremlins (They're a mix breed of JK Rowling's house elf and Joe Dante's gremlin.  Instead of destroying everything or cleaning everything they attempt to help you only to wind up causing more harm than good.) moved my camera.  That means I didn't get a mouth-watering image for you, but if you click the link above, you'll see one.  Yes, I'm actually requiring a little effort on your part.

3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

After cake has cooked, but is still warm, drizzle glaze over the top.  This is yummy as a dessert or breakfast :-)

The next recipe is something that I've made on several occasions because it's become one of my favorites.  It's Paula Deen's Shrimp Scampi.  It's even in the "lighter side" section of her magazine, so don't feel bad about seconds y'all.

What y'all need:

1 1/2 lbs large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy pre-minced garlic in a jar and use 1 TBS per clove.)
3/4 cups vermouth
3 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS butter
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley (I cheated and used parsley flakes.)
3 cups cooked angel hair pasta

Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp, and cook 5 minutes or until pink and firm.  Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp.  Add garlic to pan.  Cook 3 minutes or until golden brown.  Add vermouth, and simmer 1-2 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice, butter, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper.  In large bowl, combine shrimp, parsley, pasta and vermouth mixture.  Serve immediately.  

*There was one occasion when I couldn't find vermouth, so I used white cooking wine.  It wasn't as strong of a taste, but it was still yummy.*

  As my loving J said when I whipped this dish up "Wow that was fast."   Just because delicious doesn't mean you have to spend all day in the kitchen.  Well my little Monkey is calling for me to read her a nigh-night story, so I'm out.  Until next time, I'll leave y'all with a wonderful quote from one of my co-workers, stated during a conversation about the possible end of the world:

"2012! That crap ain't true.  Now Zombies!  Zombies are real!!!"

You've been warned.....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Little Bit of Everything

     I know I've been MIA again, and I'm sorry, but it's not my fault.  The blame can be equally attributed to JK Rowling and Stephen King.  I read The Stand this past week, and it has found its way into my top ten favorite books off all time.  I have found myself truly enjoying King's way of spinning a yarn.  Before I read any of his novels, I expected gore and violence and scary themes that would keep me up all hours of the night.  What I got was much better, and much more thrilling.  I think the best parts of King's novels are the ones that deal with the human mind, and the moral struggles that go on there.  He has a way of scaring you, not with the boogyman, but with the guy next door.   The Stand was no different.  For me, especially, the idea of a military-made weapon being the catalyst that sparked the whole end-of-the-world battle was quite frightening.

     Of course, once I finished the novel, I just had to watch the movie.  That ended up being a three-night affair.  Having a job really puts an end to all that late-night partying.  When I finally did see the movie in it's entirety, I was rather impressed (even in spite of the 80s graphics).

    Last night I got on this computer fully intending to write a new blog, but first I checked my email.....and then I forgot all about my blog.  I got in to the early stages of Pottermore, so last night I was reliving another book from my top ten list, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  They haven't opened up any of the other books for exploration yet, but I'm waiting patiently.  I like this testing-out phase because I can put in my two-cents in the hopes that it will make the experience better for the ones that are allowed in when October rolls around.  I'm also enjoying the extra tid-bits Rowling is including in the site.  These are bits that didn't make it into the book or back story on certain characters.  So far my favorite part of the whole experience has been reading Professor McGonagall's back-story.  She was my favorite professor in the books, so it's nice to learn a bit more about her.

   So enough with the excuses, let's get down to it.  I may not have been blogging, but I have been cooking.  I have two cheap and quick meals that I want to share with y'all tonight.  The first one is a bit different, and it may not sound that great, but it was really yummy.  The second is a bit of a staple in the south, but I've never used such a quick version.

  First, I made Tomato and Egg Stir-fry.

  I found this on foodgawker, but to be honest I didn't even read the guy's blog about it.  I simply watched this video and followed her instructions.  It was pretty tasty.  J ate a bunch, and Monkey approved.

What you need:
3 eggs
3 tomatoes
2 TBS oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Cooked white rice

   Crack eggs into a bowl and beat.  Cut tomatoes into quarter pieces. Heat oil in skillet/wok, add egg first.  (Do not scramble)  Let sit until eggs are about half cooked, then cut up into small pieces.  Push the eggs to one side, then add tomatoes.  Add salt to tomatoes.  Add sugar to tomatoes.  Cover with lid.  Simmer for about 1 minute over med-high.  Stir eggs and tomatoes together.  Serve over cooked white rice.

   Next up I made something called Hoppin' John.  

   I've cooked beans on several occasions, usually soaking them over night, then using my slow cooker all day.  This was a nice change.

What you need:

1 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 15-oz. cans black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 TBS chopped parsley
2 green onions, chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
cooked white rice

  Heat olive oil in skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.  Cook until veggies are tender and onions are translucent.  Add black-eyed peas, stock, salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add parsley.  Serve over rice.  Top with tomato and green onions. 

   Both Monkey and J had seconds on this one.  J even asked when I was going to make it again.  I think I'll add it to my shopping list for next week's groceries.  

   On a completely unrelated note, those of you who are my Facebook friend already know that my darling J has been quite the over-acheiver lately.  He made breakfast for Monkey and I both Saturday and Sunday.  He's been doing the laundry, washing the dishes, and over all making me wonder who this impostor is.  Monday he even stayed home with Monkey while I was at work.  

   Monkey had been sick and running fever on Sunday, so Monday morning J called to make an appointment with her pediatrician.  By this point she was no longer running fever, but mommy said we'd better play it safe, and daddy agreed.    My darling J brought her to her appointment at 10:50, and he found out that it was indeed, nothing.  Then he gets ready to bring her to daycare only to remember that the daycare's policy states that no child can be dropped off between 10:30 and 1:00 because that's lunch and nap time.  He has a muster to get to, so what does he do?  Bring Monkey with him.  At muster, he's informed that everyone is required to go to medical to get a flu mist.  So he and Monkey end up back in the waiting room.  For anyone who has a toddler or has ever watched a toddler for more than ten minutes, you know that their tolerance for waiting patiently is slim to none.  Finally around 12:45 someone, either feeling sorry for my husband or getting sick of my kid, suggests that he try to call the daycare to see if they'll make an exception.  Come to find out, that 10:30-1:00 rule doesn't apply if you had a doctor's appointment that day.  My husband is so relieved he rushes Monkey right over there.  When they walk in her classroom most of the kids are already laying down for their naps.  J explains to Monkey that she needs to be as quiet as she can, so she won't wake them up.  After that and a kiss, J leaves.  

     He returns to medical to wait in line for his flu mist.  When he gets inside medical he sees his buddy and falls in line with him to chit-chat.  Next thing he knows he's at the front of the line, has his mist finished, and is free to leave all in the record time of five minutes.  Most people would probably have just given up and gone off to enjoy a bit of free time.  After all, we are paying this daycare whether she goes or not, so he might as well get his money's worth right?  Nope.  Not my husband.  He marches himself right back over there and picks up our baby girl and brings her home.  When he got in the room, she was laying on her pallet.  He walks over to her and taps her on the shoulder and says, "Hey baby girl, you want to go home?"  She rolls over, puts her finger to her lips, and says "Shh, Daddy.  The kids are sleeping.  Have to be quiet."  At least he knows she listens to him.

    That day I got home from work to the most stressed out husband, the messiest house, and the happiest Monkey I've ever seen.  I think it's so cute to watch him fumble along, learning everything in a few weeks that I've had two and a half years to figure out.  He's doing a pretty darn good job of it too, if you ask me.

   Best quote of the week:
   J:  "I feel like I'm living in that song 'and it's only Monday Mr. Mom....'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Good Days

   The past few days of Lee have been rather yucky, but I can't remember a day more beautiful than this one.  It's so pretty outside.  For the first time in months, it wasn't too hot to go walking around the neighborhood, bringing our daughter and our dog for a bit of exercise.  It was good to get out.

   I don't know if I'm finally adjusting to J being in my bubble, or if I've just had a rare streak of good-naturedness, but the past few days have been so much fun.  Perhaps it could also be attributed to the fact that my darling has begun to help me around the house, without being asked!  Whatever the reason, I've found myself being able to relax a bit more and just enjoy having my little family back together.

   As I've mentioned, we were in the path of Lee this past weekend, but the storm wasn't bad in this area.  Sunday, after too much time in the house, we decided to go to the Disney store to find Monkey's Halloween costume.  She wants to be Ariel.  When we got there, though, I really didn't like the only Ariel costume they had.  It wasn't even like Ariel at all.  It was a purple and green dress.  When did Ariel ever wear a purple and green dress in the movie???  Never!  Accuracy matters people!

   We wound up exploring the rest of the store for way longer than my darling J could stand.  It didn't help that when we got there, Monkey wanted an Ariel doll, but then she saw Dumbo so she exchanged Ariel for him.  Then I saw a sale where you could get two smaller dolls for the price of her large Dumbo.  I managed to convince her to trade her large Dumbo for a smaller Dumbo and another toy of her choosing.  She chose Jiminy Cricket.  That's when Daddy wanted in on the act and tried to convince her that Dumbo and the mouse from the movie Dumbo would be better.  So she said 'goodbye' to Jiminy.  Then she saw Bullseye and wanted him.  That meant she wanted Jessi too.  By this point J was pulling his hair out.  Finally we ended up with Jessi and Bullseye and the Disney Villain version of Monopoly.  We left the store with a happy Monkey holding her two new toys, a happy mommy hanging onto her new board game, and a frustrated Daddy clutching his head and vowing "never again".

   That game turned out to be our sanity's savior while we were rained in.  I came upon the realization that my poor husband has never played Monopoly in his life!!!  After the first game he was hooked, and last night he forced me to stay up way too late to finish our game.  I wasn't feeling well yesterday, so by 11:00 I was trying my hardest to lose.  He thought that was the funniest thing, but when you're that tired I guess everything is funny.  The game FINALLY ended with J as the victor.  I went to bed to the sounds of "please put in on Facebook that I beat you".  Yeah, perhaps he had a touch of cabin fever....

   At any rate, I tried a new breakfast recipe Sunday.  I made Cinnamon Apples, and they were yummy.  They were easy too.  Use however many apples you want, cut off the top, and without cutting the bottom remove all of the seeds and form a well in the middle.

Stuff each apple with 2 TBS butter and 2 TBS brown sugar.  Place all apples in a baking dish, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until apples are tender.

   These were great on the side of Snickerdoodle Scones.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 tsp baking soda
For the topping-
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix sour cream and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, place sugar, cinnamon, flour, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar. Pulse a few times to combine.  You could also do these steps by hand if your food processor isn't big enough.
3. Cut in butter, pulsing in your food processor, until butter is broken into small chunks throughout. 
4. Beat the egg into the sour cream mixture and pour into the flour mixture. Mix by hand, just until moistened. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet and pat into a large disk.
5. Cut disk into 8 wedges and separate slightly. (My disk was hard to form, next time I might just drop chunks of dough on the sheet) Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the scones.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!  Monkey loved the scones, and J loved the apples, so everyone wins.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Bit of Rambling

   Last night was so much fun.  It's been a while since I've hosted a Girls' Game Night due to all the recent chaos, but last night was worth the wait.  Even with a couple of our girls missing it was so good just to catch up.  Now that I look back on it, we didn't even pull out a single game.  Oops.

   I love game night for the company and the gossip, but if you know me you can guess why else I enjoy it.  I love that it affords me the opportunity to test out new recipes on my lovely guests.  Last night I made homemade peanut butter cups, they were good, but I think I added too much powdered sugar because they were really rich.  Here's the recipe (adjusted to be less rich):

Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup peanut butter
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/2 bags milk chocolate or semi-sweet (depending on your preference)

Line a 24-cup mini muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Mix together peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl until smooth and well-combined. Taste and adjust sugar and salt as necessary. Set bowl in fridge to chill.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips in 30-second bursts until smooth and shiny. Drop teaspoonfuls of the melted chocolate evenly into prepared mini muffin cups, reserving the remaining chocolate. Using a small spoon or small silicone pastry brush, push the melted chocolate up the sides of each mini muffin cup. Place muffin tin in fridge until chocolate is firm, up to 30 minutes.

Once chocolate is firm, remove muffin tin from fridge. Remove peanut butter mixture from fridge. Top chocolate cups with teaspoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture, pressing mixture down with your finger to smooth out. Top peanut butter with teaspoonfuls of the remaining melted chocolate. Return muffin tin to fridge and chill until peanut butter cups are set. Peanut butter cups can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

    I've noticed that although the dessert may change each game night there is one thing that has become a must-have. My aunt made this dip one time and since then it has become a family staple.  It's so simple too.  All it is, is a block of cream cheese, softened with salsa poured over the top.  Use Tostitos to dip, and you've got yourself a yummy snack :-)

   Do you remember when I talked about having those delusional daydreams about what would happen when J came home?  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but nope.  I had this sweet little daydream about going grocery shopping together.  Yesterday I tried to do this with J and Monkey in tow.  Let's just say it didn't end well.  It didn't help that half of the base was already there trying to stock up before the tropical storm hit.  Add to that the whines of Monkey being tickled against her will and J begging for various foods that are not on the list, and the result was an additional rash on my neck.  Next time I'm leaving them alone together.  

   As I'm typing this, J is reading over my shoulder, and he says "Awe c'mon, you know that if everything went according to your brain you'd be so bored."  He's right.  I certainly wouldn't have anything to blog about.

   I know that at this point I'm rambling, but I'm writing this blog while watching Dumbo with Monkey and J, so I'm no longer focused.  I guess I should go ahead and sign off now.  See y'all later.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Broccoli Pie

    There's a recipe I've been wanting to share, but it has a bit of a back story to it, and I was never quite sure how to get started. The recipe is one of my favorites: Broccoli Pie.  I know it sounds odd, but bear with me because it's really yummy.

    This particular recipe reminds me of my Moma Deana.  I can't believe I haven't mentioned her yet, because she's such a huge part of my life, but as I've said, I never knew where to begin with her.  I remember reading a review someone wrote about a book they really enjoyed.  They said that it seemed odd to them that it was easier to write a bad review than a good one.  On a good review, I guess you want to make sure you don't leave anything out.  It's the same way with people you are close to.  You want to make sure you describe them properly.  The fact that I know Moma will be reading this in the morning is a bit intimidating as well.  Well I'm rambling, so who is she?

     I guess the simplest way would be to say that she and my dad were together from the time I was about two until I was about 13, and as my father's own sister said very aptly, "We got custody of her in the divorce."

    This woman has been in my life for as long as I can remember; teaching me, guiding me, loving me. Yes, even disciplining me, but more than anything: helping to shape me into the person I am today.  From her I have learned my ethics and morals.  She's the one who brought me to church every Sunday morning without fail.  From her I learned that marriage is hard work but worth the struggle if you find the right man.  From her I learned that even though life is hard, you can still look at it and laugh.   When I need advice, I call her.  When I want to gossip, I call her.  When I just want to check in with someone and let them know that "hey, I'm still alive out here" I call her.  I honestly don't know what I'd do without her.

   The recipe I'm about to share with you is one that she has prepared for me on numerous occasions.  It's a simple meal, one of those all-in-one type deals where you get a bit of every food group in one dish.  It's great because it makes two pies, so that way you can freeze one for a later date if you want.   That's my Moma for you: planning ahead, making things simple, avoiding a whole slew of cooking :-P  Gotta love that.

So here it is folks, Broccoli Pie

2 lbs ground beef
2 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crusts
4 cups frozen broccoli, cooked
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 package Lipton onion soup mix OR one medium onion
*I prefer the soup mix because you get more seasoning*
Shredded mozzarella (about 2 cups)

  Brown ground beef, onion or soup mix, and seasonings in a skillet.  Drain fat.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake pie crusts for 10 minutes and cool.  Mix all ingredients (minus the mozzarella) and then pour into pie crusts.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Enjoy :-)

 If you want a lighter version, just swap the ground beef for ground turkey and use fat free mozzarella, cream of mushroom soup and cream cheese.