Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Food is Comfort Food

     Well Christmas came and went without Monkey making it onto the Naughty list.  She did manage to get her name put down onto the "Check-Twice" list for next year, though; not that that has deterred her in any way.  Nor has it curbed her attitude.  This morning my child had her extra-sassy britches on, and at one point I just looked at her astounded and asked, "Kid, when did you turn 13?"  She responded in with her hands on her hips and a matter-of-fact tone in her voice, "I didn't.  I'm turning 4!" while wagging her head to emphasize every syllable.  I think I have my work cut out for me on this one.

     I certainly didn't need the reminder of how quickly time passes.  With the holiday season coming to a close, my focus has shifted to the next big event in our family: Monkey's birthday.  She has declared that she wants a Princess Party this year, so if any of y'all find some cute ideas, send them my way.

     In the meantime, Monkey and I have been relaxing, watching the movies Santa brought her, playing the games she got from family, and cooking (of course).  Given that we're finally having some wintery weather, I decided to give this recipe a try.

Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup
2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you can't find veg.)
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed
2 tsp of oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

     Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

     This is the perfect winter comfort food, and it was paired nicely with that French Bread recipe I shared a while back.  Enjoy :-)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"But, Mom! I'm Trying for the Naughty List"

     I think my child is trying to see how far she can push the envelope without getting onto the Naughty List this year.  This morning I woke up to the sounds of her playing around downstairs, which should have tipped me off from the start, but being the morning person I am, I was extremely optimistic that she was merely deciding on what she wanted for breakfast.  I should have known better.  After brushing my teeth, getting dressed and otherwise just wasting time I went downstairs to find Monkey creating her own version of "breakfast".  She looked up at me when I walked in and said, with tears in her eyes, "Mommy, my mouth hurts."  That's when I saw what exactly she had been making.  She had mixed up water, honey, sprinkles and hot sauce in a cup and was proceeding to drink it.  Needless to say she soon asked for a Pop Tart instead.
     After getting Monkey's concoction all cleaned up I went upstairs to begin gathering our bags for our trip home.  I was upstairs a matter of minutes when I heard the unmistakable sound of scissors.  I rushed downstairs expecting to see my mail in shreds or maybe even my checkbook in tatters, but nope.  My child had a wad of her own hair in her hands!  Of course, I happened to be on the phone with my mom, so when I expressed my dismay, she offered an encouraging laugh and a "Well every kid does that.  You did."

"But Mom!"  I moaned. "Her hair was getting so long!"

"Well then glue it back on," was all she could offer before having to scramble off the phone.

     All I could do was hide the scissors and make an appointment to have someone fix her hair once we made it to La.  And well, it turned out rather cute.

     Since I'm already on here, and it's getting so close to Christmas, I might as well share a few of our elf's antics:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Elf's Work is Never Done

     Well I've been as busy as a little elf today, running errands, picking up last minute gifts, and helping a few friends in need.  I even managed to make some super cute goodies for Monkey's teachers at daycare and the dance studio, and of course I have to share!

     Aren't these little sleighs the cutest?  I found the idea on Pinterest, of course, and they were so simple to make it took me maybe an hour to put them all together.

Here's what you'll need:

3 big bags of assorted mini Hershey's bars
3 dozen candy canes (any flavor you choose)
3 packs of 6 Kit-Kats
Hot glue gun

Simply assemble your "sleigh" using 10 mini bars, one Kit-Kat, and 2 candy canes.

Add a bit of hot glue to hold it all together, then wrap with some pretty ribbon or top with a cute bow, and...

     Monkey's dance teachers thought they were precious, and we'll be handing out a few more tomorrow at daycare.  I got 18 sleighs out of my supplies, and now I have a few leftovers.  I have a super fun idea for the extras, but that can wait until tomorrow.  In the meantime, I was to share a recipe I tried last night that was so yummy!

Chicken Piccata
Makes four servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut in half lengthwise, to form 4 thin cutlets)
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
6 TBS butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped  (I'm just now noticing I forgot the parsley; oh well!)
8 ounces angel hair pasta
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pour the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Pour the beaten egg in a seperate shallow dish. Take one chicken cutlet, and it dredge in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Repeat with all cutlets.  In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Place two of the coated chicken cutlets into the skillet. Cook on each side, for 2-4 minutes each side. Once thoroughly cooked, place on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining butter and chicken, set aside.  Pour the lemon juice, chicken stock, and capers into the warm skillet. Stir and scrape up any of the loose brown bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and let sauce simmer for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook angel hair pasta according to package directions. Drain water and add 2 Tablespoons butter to pasta and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Serve chicken with sauce and pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and more grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

   Well I hope y'all enjoy.  I'm back on elf duty; I have to get those presents wrapped while Monkey is dreaming of sugarplum fairies and dragons.  Goodnight!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Condescending Mutt

     Thursday I was finally able to emerge from my cave, rested and ready to reclaim that long-lost social life of mine.  Monkey is still in daycare, so I have just about all the "me time" I can stand.  Thank goodness for the holidays because I'm just about sick of my own company!

    With the school chaos at bay until about the middle of next semester, I'm trying to catch up on my running.  As I'm sure y'all recall, I did the Couch-2-5K program a few months back, and I was starting to work on a 10K when school became hectic.  These past two months I've been lucky to get one run in every 2 weeks.  Today I decided that I would hit the pavement after dropping Monkey off at school.  I even thought it would be fun to take Roux along with me.  I figured she could use the exercise.  Ever since we found a new home for Andouille, she hasn't had anyone chasing her around the house, nipping at her ankles.  That is, unless Monkey decides to play "puppy".  At any rate I figured the fresh air would be good for her.  And it was.   What is wasn't good for was my self esteem.  There I was jogging along, giving it all I've got, feeling like my lungs were going to explode when I glanced down to check on the dog, and I realized she was walking!  Granted, a brisk, bouncy walk, but a walk none-the-less.  Talk about a kick in the pants.  I tried running faster, but she would just bounce along at her brisk walk, mocking me with her superiority.  I mean, what gives?  I know I haven't been working out as much as I should, but the dog hasn't seen a track since her daddy deployed 6 months ago, and here she was taking it all in stride...literally.  Damn mutt!  Needless to say, I'll be venturing out to the track a little more often.  In my defense, however, since we've been home I haven't sat still, but Roux collapsed on the floor and hasn't budged an inch.
    As usual, I have a yummy recipe to share with y'all; after all I have a lot of making up to do. This is a  recipe for Chicken Fajitas that was a big hit with my Monkey and was pretty easy to throw together.

Chicken Fajitas

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
12 flour tortillas, warmed to serve

Preheat your oven to 400.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish.  Mix together chicken, tomatoes, chilies, peppers, and onions in the dish.  In a small bowl, mix together oil and spices.  Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken mix, and toss to coat.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.  Serve with tortillas.  Enjoy :-)

    Now I'm going to hit the heavy bag for a little bit, but first I'm going to check and make sure that my mutt is still breathing.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Little Girl Who Needs Presents

     Today I turned in my paper for the English Final at about noon.  Is it bad that it just now hit me that I'm finished with English!?  I don't think my mind can focus enough to appreciate that fact.  I still have four exams left, but they aren't until next week, so tonight I took a bit of a break to spend some extra time with my little Monkey.  I'm glad I did;  I ended up having a truly proud Mommy moment.

     My Psychology teacher is very active in the community and orchestrates many charities and fundraisers around campus.  Today she told us about a Christmas charity where they're collecting stockings filled with little things for a child of any age or gender you choose.  She asked that if we participate that we bring ours in on the day of the final, and she'll see that it gets to the home.  I decided to get Monkey involved, so after explaining to her that some children aren't fortunate enough to have a Christmas tree and lots of presents, we went to Wal-Mart.  She was under orders to pick out a stocking and a few things to put in it.  I honestly thought this was going to be a fight, considering she's at the age where all I hear is "I want that" as we peruse the aisles of any store.  She definitely impressed me, though.  She was so excited to pick out things for "the little girl who needs presents".  She filled the little girl's stocking with a teddy bear, a baby doll, a coloring book with crayons, a sticker book, and a small Snow White doll.  The only moment when she was even a little disappointed was when she figured out she wasn't going to get to hand the gift directly to the little girl.  She cheered up, though, when we began talking about how happy the different things in the stocking would make the little girl we'll never meet.  It truly did warm my heart to see the pure joy on her face at the thought of helping someone else.  I hope she never loses that.

     If anyone is interested in filling a stocking, I'll be happy to drop it off for you.  My final is next
Wednesday at 1:00, so I'd just need it before then.  There's also a Teddy Bear drive going on at school. They're collecting stuffed animals that are in good condition or new to give to the police and firemen to be handed out to children in emergency situations.  Again, if anyone is interested in donating, I'll be happy to drop them off for you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Sound of Pitter-Pattering Little Feet Usually Means Something Horrible is Happening

     My poor little blog was feeling so neglected, it logged me out of my account.  It was rather snooty too when I tried to log in.  It was all "Do you have a blog?"  Lately, the answer depends on the day I guess.  Oh well, I have a few spare minutes to try to squeeze in one more entry for this month.

     Besides running around trying to keep up with school, I've been chasing my little Monkey around.  I think I set myself up for failure by giving her that nickname.  It seems she's taken it as a personal challenge to live up to it in every way possible.  The night before last I put her to bed before heading off to shower.  It wasn't long before I heard those little feet going up and down the stairs.  I begrudgingly turned the shower off, got dressed and went to investigate.  I found Monkey standing next to her bed, wiping some kind of white powder off of her pajamas.  My mind immediately went to the Clorox I had been using to clean the bathrooms just a few hours before, but I reassured myself that I had put that way out of reach, hadn't I?  I rushed to the laundry room to check, taking Monkey with me to prevent her from licking the stuff off.  (You may laugh, but I wouldn't put it past her.)  On my way, I found a trail of the same white powder leading all the way down the stairs and into the laundry room/pantry.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the Clorox was in its proper place on a high shelf.  The relief turned to frustration, though, when I saw the bag of flour half emptied onto the floor.  When I asked Monkey why she had gotten into the flour, she said she had wanted more cupcakes.  Confused, I just stared at her.  I had made cupcakes the day before, but those were in the kitchen, not the pantry.  That's when it clicked.  The flour bag had a picture of cupcakes on the side.  

     Sighing, I cleaned Monkey up, put her back in bed, and cleaned up the flour mess before putting myself to bed.   Yesterday, I went to school as usual, and when I got home I thought I'd help myself to one of those yummy cupcakes that were still sitting in the kitchen.  I was sorely disappointed, however, when I lifted the lid and saw there were none left.  Apparently Monkey had polished off the remaining four cupcakes before venturing into the pantry in search of more, and that's when she saw the bag of flour.  I was laughing too hard to even be frustrated.  The best part is that my child did all this and managed to get back to her room before I could even make it out of the bathroom.  The next 15 years are going to be interesting to say the least.

     I was going to insert a very funny eCard that was highly applicable to my awesome story, but I can't find it!  Oh well, here's a yummy recipe instead:

Pasta Salad

1 lb Tri-color Rotini
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1/4 red onion
1/2 cup diced Mozzarella chunks
1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup peeled and quartered cucumber
1/2 cup Italian dressing (I usually add a little more at the end)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook Rotini according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water.  Once cooled, mix with other ingredients in a serving bowl.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Enjoy!

     This is seriously one of my favorite side dishes for get togethers.  I'm not a big fan of pasta salad, but this is the perfect amount of some of my favorite veggies.  Monkey enjoys it too.

     Well I guess I need to get off of here and return to my studying.  Finals are in less than two weeks  O.O

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm Thankful for Bacon

   On the way to school this morning Monkey was reciting her numbers for me, and I was enjoying listening to her prattle along.  Then something caught my attention.

Monkey:  "11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17..."

Me:  "Wait a second, what happened to 14?"

Monkey:  "He got stuck in the mud."

Me: .....

   I swear that child doesn't miss a beat.  She never passes up an opportunity to make me laugh.  She's pretty witty, and I'm so thankful to have her in my life.

   Speaking of being thankful, it is November, and I've notice quite a few people doing a daily "I'm thankful for..." status update of Facebook.  That gave me a cute idea.  Instead of a daily Facebook status, Monkey and I are doing a thankful tree.  Everyday we write one thing Monkey is thankful for on a leaf, and she adds it to the tree.  We'll keep this up until Thanksgiving when I'll post a picture of the finished product.  Here's a preview, though:

     I think we're off to a good start :-)  I also have an amazing recipe to share tonight for Honey Mustard Chicken.  Before I get to the recipe, let me just say, I had a go-to recipe for this dish.  Had.  This one is better, so that other one has officially been replaced.  Here it is:

Honey Mustard Mozzarella Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard (I ran out of regular mustard, so I mixed 1/4 cup Dijon with 1/4 regular; it was perfect)
lemon pepper to taste
4 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Place chicken breasts in 2-qrt baking dish.  Cover with mustard and honey.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Add two bacon slices to each chicken breast.  Cover with mozzarella.  Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes, or until bacon is crispy and cheese is bubbly.  Enjoy!

     Well this is going to be a short post, because my child is jumping on my back as I type, hollering, "Pony! Pony!"  Y'all have a good night :-)

Update:  As promised, here's Monkey's finished tree:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Catching Up

     Only one post last month?  Geez I have some catching up to do!  Most of y'all know that I've been keeping my nose to the grindstone, trying to stay ahead of the curve at school.  I came up for air today and realized we only have 5 weeks until finals, and one of those is Thanksgiving week.  I feel like this semester has flown by, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it to end.
     Besides school, I've been keeping busy with my biggest sewing project yet.  Drumroll, please....

     Monkey requested to be Rapunzel this year for Halloween, and I was all too happy to oblige when I found this awesome free tutorial for making the dress yourself!  In case you didn't see the link to the wig on my previous post, here it is.  This outfit was a total success, and I even found a paper Pascal to put on Monkey's shoulder.

     She nixed the wig after about 5 minutes, but people still got the gist.  She should have gone as Flynn Rider, as sneaky as she was being with the candy.  She'd go up to someone, say "Trick-or-treat", receive her candy, wait until they looked at the next kid, and then she'd reach into the bowl and help herself to a few more pieces.  It took me a few times of watching for it to click that she really was doing that.  Oh well, more KitKats for Mommy ;-)
      Speaking of treats for Mommy, I am so excited that the latest Cooking with Paula Deen issue had a recipe for Kettle Corn, and y'all know I have to share it, because it's perfect for this time of year.

Kettle Corn
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add a few kernels; cover until they pop.  Add sugar and remaining kernels, quickly stir and replace the lid.  Shake pan for 2-4 minutes or until popcorn is completely popped.  Transfer popcorn to a large bowl.  Remove unpopped kernels, and sprinkle with salt.  Enjoy :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Want Candy

     I'm a slacker when it comes to blogging lately, but in my defense, I'm working on a 4.0!  I'm nearly there too, and I'm hoping that allying myself with the teacher's favorite in Anatomy will give me the edge I need to put me over the top in that class.  We shall see.  In the meantime the extra studying hasn't left much time for my usual candid updates, but I have a minute so I wanted to share a bit of my night with y'all.

     I recently taught Monkey how to play Go-Fish.  It's a good way for her to review her numbers, and this evening I was struck by another opportunity to incorporate some higher thinking into our game. We had just finished, and we were counting our pairs to see who won.

Me:  Monkey, Mommy has 11 pairs; how many do you have?

Monkey: 7!

Me:  The winner is the person who has more pairs.  Who has more, me or you?

Monkey: Me!

Me:  Is 7 more than 11?

Monkey: Yup!

Me: sure?

Monkey: Yes ma'am.

Me (being struck by a brilliant thought): Monkey, would you rather have 7 pieces of candy or 11?

Monkey:  Candy!?  I want candy!

Me (backtracking really quickly):  No! No; forget that example.  No one's getting candy.  Would you rather watch 7 movies or 11?

Monkey: I want to watch Little Foot.

Me:  *smack my forehead*  No; we're not watching a movie!  I just mean....ugh.  If I have 11 pairs and you have 7 pairs who won Go-Fish?

Monkey:  I don't want to play Go-Fish;  I want to watch a movie.


     At least she didn't remember the part about 11 pieces of candy.

(I don't have a good segway tonight, sorry.)

     I do have something yummy worth sharing though, and it's the perfect time of year for this particular recipe.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
(from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Note: A standard sized can of pumpkin is 15 ounces, just shy of 2 cups (16 ounces). You could open another can if you want and freeze the extra or just use one can which is what I did. The amount is so little I don't think it makes a difference in the final product.

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be somewhat soft but firmer.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. I always get inpatient here and mix it together with my hands so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. I know you aren't supposed to do it this way but I'm impatient. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving. 

     These were super yummy, and they're the perfect breakfast/brunch food this time of year.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Ha' Happen Was...

     You know, I just want to set the record straight.  When I said the other night that Dachshunds were little shits, I didn't mean it.  What I meant to say was that Dachshunds are little shit-stirrers.  Yeah, they get the drama started, and then sit back looking all cute and innocent while someone else takes the heat for it.  As most of you know through Facebook, my "good dog", Roux dug out of the backyard the other day and was picked up by on-base police.  What y'all don't know is exactly what ha' happened.  To be fair to my little instigator, this is all speculation.  I was not home, but I've seen him do this before so I'm going out on a limb here and assuming this is how things went down.

     Roux, as I said is my good dog.  She is very well-trained.  She comes when you call her; she's well-mannered, and she can even be trusted to stay near your side when she's off her leash.  Aside from the usual puppy antics, we've only ever had one problem with her, and that was digging.  After her first few digging escapes, I began kenneling her throughout the day.  After a while I gave her another shot, and she left her digging behind.  Then we adopted Andouille.  He, being the instigator,  will dig a little, enough to get Roux's attention, and then walk away once Roux takes over and transforms his tiny hole into a crater.  The best part is that Andouille will walk to the door, and begin barking to come inside so that I come to the door just in time to fuss a Roux before she gets out of the yard.  The plan backfired on him the other day because I was in school, so he couldn't tattle-tell, and he's too big to fit through Roux's holes.  Therefore Roux got a few hours of freedom and joyriding with the base police, and Andouille got time-out in his kennel.

     Sadly, when getting Roux in trouble stopped being fun, he moved onto a new set of shenanigans.  Monkey is allowed to have her toys out, but before bed she has to bring them back to her room.  Lately, I've been finding her toys strewn along the stairs.  My first thought was that she was simply dropping them on the way to her room.  Then I began watching her go up the stairs with her toys, and discovered that she was able to make it up to her room without dropping a single thing.  So next I thought she was being rebellious and throwing her toys down the stairs.  After all, she went through that stage just a few months ago.  I started fussing at her to pick up her toys.  Come to find out, Andouille was going to Monkey's room, gently carrying toys to the stairs, and placing them there before disappearing to watch Monkey get in trouble.  At this rate I would trade my mother's "gremlins" for my vindictive diva-dog.

     I promise this is the last post about him, though.  Mainly because I'm afraid for my safety.  Who knows if he's logging into my computer at night a reading these, and I'll soon be paying the price for calling him a diva on the internet.  Or maybe he'll be seeking vengeance because I refused to share these with him.



Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
1/3 cup (5 TBS) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 TBS butter

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  DO NOT overmix – stir until *just* combined.
Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity.  Layer with 1 tsp Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top.  If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok.  They will not overflow.  Repeat layering batter + Nutella into each muffin tin.  I got exactly 8 muffins.
Bake at 425F for 5 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350F and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.
While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping.  Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted.  In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's Just Another Manic Monday.....On Tuesday

     To say that this is just not my night would be the understatement to beat understatements.  Does anyone out there have a Dachshund?  If you do or did, you will know what I'm talking about when I say they are little shits.  That's it.  They're turds, butt-heads, divas!  They can be so cute and sweet when they feel like it, but if you put one toe out of line you will feel their wrath.  Don't believe me?  Go get one, and try to tell me in a few months that I'm not right.  Better yet, take mine!  Andouille is my own sweet little shit.  Remember when I first got him, and I thought, "Awe, he's so cute!  He'll be a good lap dog, and a sweet cuddler." Remember that?  Neither do I.  Andouille has a bad habit of tearing up his bed.  We have gone through three beds in as many months, and I think I've finally figured out why.  He likes the stuffing.  He rips the insides from the bed, fluffs them up, and then sleeps on them.  The problem with this is that those "fluff balls" seep out of his wire kennel and onto my bedroom floor, so I pick them up and throw them away.  Within a week or so, he no longer has fluff balls to sleep on, so what does he do?  He pulls my comforter off of my bed and begins the process of creating more fluff balls with it!  I have repaired my comforter three times, but today he managed to get it into a state of disrepair before I even realized he was no longer warming my feet as I studied.  Butt-head!  So now we both need new bedding; well played Dachshund, well played.

     After cleaning up what was left of my comforter and finishing up my extra credit project for Psychology, I went downstairs to do some laundry.  The problem is, my washer won't work.  It managed to wash the clothes, but it doesn't spin them.  It simply makes this pathetic whirring noise when I turn it on.  So I've been wringing out a few clothes at a time and running them through the dryer.  On a positive note, however, I'm finally getting that arm workout I've been meaning to do.  I handled it like a big-girl though, only locking myself in the bathroom to cry after I called the repairman.

     After Monkey went to sleep tonight, I decided to hop on here and print my notes for Microbiology.  I noticed that my ink cartridge was low, so I thought that was going to be the last straw on this evening's tale, but no.  I had enough ink to print, but my printer happens to share a desk with my sewing machine.  Without realizing it, I had tossed a few scraps of fabric onto the printer while sewing this week, and when I printed my first three pages of notes, the printer sucked the fabric down in there, and now I can't get it out!  I think I'm going to need a new printer...

     At least I just got my refund from school, but a new printer and washer were not the items I was wanting to splurge on.  *Sigh*

    In the meantime, would you like to see my awesome brain?

See the purple section?  His brother caused the printer jam.  Butt-head!
    I made it from fabric scraps, a piece of my old jeans I'm refashioning into capris, and thread.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I just hope my teacher is too, because extra credit is always nice.

    I do have a recipe I've been wanting to share with y'all, so let's end this crappy night on a good note, shall we?

Oven Baked Chimichangas

1 1/2 lb ground turkey
1 pkg Taco seasoning
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
2 TBS fresh chopped cilantro
1 can green chilies (about 7 oz)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
4 TBS melted butter
6-8 large flour tortillas

Optional Garnishes: Guacamole, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa

Preheat oven to 450.  Brown turkey over medium.  Add taco seasoning and water.  Stir, and cook until liquid is reduced by 2/3.  Add cumin, oregano, cilantro, chilies, tomatoes, and green onions.  (I threw in a handful of chopped jalapenos, but watch out, it gets spicy quick.)  Stir until remaining liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat, and let cool 5 minutes.  Stir in yogurt and 1/2 cup cheese.

Brush both sides of tortillas with melted butter.  Spoon desired amount of filling into the center of the tortilla, being careful not to over-fill.  Roll up and place on a greased or non-stick baking sheet, seam-side down.  Space them so they do not touch.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven to melt.  Serve with garnishes.

All the gooey goodness that's on the inside

     Monkey and I both devoured these suckers!  I normally don't like Mexican food because it can be too heavy, but this was just enough that I could eat two, feel really full, but not bloated and gross.  Plus I had an excuse to make my own guacamole.  It's really easy; simply mash up an avocado or more, depending on how much guacamole you need.  Dice a tomato, dump that in.  Season with salt and pepper, and voila!  Homemade guac that is amazing!  One of the guys who worked with my stepdaddy was from Mexico, and he told me that if you leave the avocado seed in the guacamole, it doesn't turn brown as quickly.  I never tested that, however, because guacamole doesn't last that long in this house anyway.

     Now I'm going to shower and curl up in my bed with my old tatty blanket with holes in it.  O.o

UPDATE:  So as I was about to hit "publish" and head off to bed, I decided to try one more time to get the fabric out of my printer.  I thought I'd be smart and use a pair of tweezers to remove the obstruction, but now I need to go buy a new printer and new tweezers, because the machine swallowed those too!  I'm going to bed now for my own safety.  Goodnight all!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I've Got This

    I have one final class at 1:00, and then I am home free for two whole days!!!  This week was like running a mental marathon.  With four tests to study for, two stinky dogs that needed baths, a three-year-old with all her needs and wants, and a house that doesn't clean itself, I found myself passing out each night exhausted.  I began wishing my husband were here to help, but then I remembered the amount of dishes and laundry that come with him, and I began to be grateful that he's not around, so that I have one less person to take care of and pick up after (horrible, right?).  Oh, well.  I survived this week, and I've managed to do so without completely losing my sanity.  I only cried myself to sleep one night this week, but that was totally justified because I had just found out that I had sewn the collar on a shirt wrong for the 3rd time in a row!  Needless to say I'm ready for the weekend.
     If nothing else, this week  this month this deployment has taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.  Not just all the running and working out I've been doing, but all the schooling, all the studying, all the "but Mommy, I want you to play with me"s, all the "Mommy, I need"s,  and even the emergency room visit have taught me that I can do this.  I can take on this crazy, hectic, beautiful life that doesn't make sense, and I can make it my own.  I can mold it into something that reflects who I am and what I want, and I can do it without anyone's help.  I am capable.  I am strong.  I am me; I am the best me I can be, and I am getting better every day.

    This weekend I look forward to sleeping past 6:00 am, cooking breakfast for my daughter, and taking her to see Finding Nemo in 3D.  Tonight her two friends are coming for a visit, and I know she'll be thrilled to see them again.  You know, the more I find myself and strive to make myself better, the more I see her in a new light.  It might just be her age, but her little personality has grown so much, and I love it!  She's sassy, smart, clever, strong-willed, happy, and funny.  I really think she's a redhead masquerading as a brunette.  She has a quick temper, and a loud mouth.  She's sweet and loving.  She's tough, tougher than I ever was.  She doesn't let anyone or anything slow her down, and she knows what she wants, and she demands it.  She's a whole lot of personality stuffed into that little body, so it's no wonder that she's always bursting with energy.  Words can't even describe how proud I am that she is my child.

   You know, I don't even know where I was going with this post.  I don't know how this ties in with my recipe, but here it is anyway.  This recipe has been floating around Pinterest for a while now, and I had to try it.  I'm so glad I did, because it was as yummy as it looked.  Here is it:

Sweet and Sour Chicken 

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sweet and Sour Sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

       Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water; cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.  Heat  1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix all of the sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Pour evenly over the chicken. Bake for one hour, turning chicken every 15 minutes.

Seriously, the original poster is a genius!  This stuff is amazing, and she even posted a Fried Rice recipe to go with it.

You'll need:
3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 tbs sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

      On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour eggs on the other side of the skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Add the rice and soy sauce and blend well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Brain Break

     I'm feeling a good deal better about all these tests this week.  I took my first in Psychology today, and I have a good feeling about it.  Tomorrow I have an A&P Lab test.  Wednesday I have a Microbiology test, and Thursday I have an A&P Lecture test.  I feel ready, so I'm giving my poor brain a break in order to share this awesome thing I made!

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!"
     Monkey finally decided on a costume for Halloween; she's going to be Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled.  I found an excellent tutorial for this wig on Pinterest.  The original poster was making her wig for a much older child, so she used more material.  If your child is smaller, like my Monkey, you'll only need to cut your yarn to about 100", and you'll probably end up loping off a good bit after you braid it.

     I've also been working on a few Christmas goodies, but you'll have to wait to see those.  I will share Monkey's Rapunzel dress, however, once it's finished.  As long as I don't completely ruin it and go buy one from the store, that is.

     I have one more thing to share before I go; here is a recipe for Spinach and Tortellini Soup.

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
9 oz package of tortellini
6 oz package baby spinach
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan (optional)

Bring broth and water to boil in a large sauce pan.  Reduce heat.  Add tortellini.  Simmer until pasta is tender.  Add spinach, and cook until wilted.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle Parmesan over the top.

     This soup was so quick and easy, and it tasted really good.  The best part is that it's only 250 calories.  Monkey approved :-)  Speaking of Monkey, she wants to go to the park, so I'll catch y'all later.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Brain's Going to Explode

     I'm sitting outside my next class, shooting the breeze with a fellow student while surfing the internet, and doing just about everything to ignore the fact that I have three major tests next week.  Don't get me wrong, I've been studying.  I'm just to the point where I feel like anything more than an hour a day and my head will explode.  I'm also sleepy, and hungry, and surrounded by distractions and otherwise not inclined to crack open any more books.  But, hey, it's Friday!       Since it's Friday, I feel like sharing something fun with y'all.  Warning: this stuff is dangerous, because it's that good.  Here it is, a recipe for Nutella Pound Cake:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 
1 1/4 cups sugar 
4 large eggs, room temperature 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
One 13-ounce jar Nutella

Preheat oven to 325 F; lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides of the bowl, lower speed to medium and add in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.  In 3 batches, add in the flour mixture, mixing at low speed after each addition until just blended.  Spread 1/3 of the batter in the pan, then spread 1/3 of the Nutella on top.  Repeat with another third of the batter and another 1/3 of the Nutella.  Top with the remaining batter and Nutella and lightly swirl the Nutella and batter together with a knife.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Allow the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack for about 2 hours.  Store well wrapped at room temperature.    This stuff it best warm, so stick it in the microwave and enjoy.  The original poster even mentioned serving it with vanilla ice cream.  My advice:  Don't do it!!!  It's soooooo good!

     As you can gather, there is no real point to this blog entry, other than the fact that I wanted to waste some time before class without going over the Pericardial Cavity for the 10,000,000th time.  Thank you, and enjoy the pound cake :-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bring It On!

     As most of you know through Facebook, I'm reaching the end of the Couch to 5K program (much to your relief if you're tired of my updates) which means I was starting to lose some of my focus.  I mean, the goal was to be able to run a 5K with my husband, but my husband is still months away from returning home.  So I was left wondering what my new goal would be to keep me occupied between now and then.  Coincidentally, my husband was the one who helped me come up with it during our Skype session this morning.

Me:  Would you be interested in doing a Valentine's Day run?  They have this annual one that looks like it'd be fun.

J:  Yeah!  That sounds awesome.

Me:  I figured you'd want to.  We can even register as a team and run together.  The top 5 couples to cross the finish line together win a prize pack.

J:  Sure, I guess.

Me:  Are you saying you don't want to run with me?

J:  No; it's just I don't think we'd win.  I'm faster than you.

Me:   Seriously?  When's the last time you ran?

J:  When I was home.

Me:  And when is the last time you saw me run?

J:  *obnoxious laughter*

Me:  Exactly.  I'd probably lap you by now.

J:  Not if I have two weeks to get back into it.

Me:  We'll see.

     See the new goal yet?  No; that's fine.  My new goal is to be able to beat my husband in a race and humble is cocky self just a little bit.  I may be setting myself up for failure considering the man did go through Navy SEAL training, but can you imagine the boasting rights if I do?  Totally worth it!  Plus I figure I'll have about 6 months worth of training on him ;-)  And I promise to have a scathingly brilliant blog about it when I win.

     Speaking of humbling, you know how I'm always trying out recipes I find on Pinterest.  Well here's one I tried a while back that tasted amazing, but...well... you'll see...

Nailed it!
Well...Sort of....
   This Braided Cinnamon Roll Wreath looked so tempting on Pinterest I had to try it (seriously, click the link to see how pretty this thing is supposed to be).  As you can see, however, I'm not quite as talented with the presentation part of cooking.  It still tasted fabulous, though, and J, Monkey and I devoured in it a matter of five minutes!  I'm not going to retype the recipe because I obviously need to go re-read the original instructions.  If you try it and get a better result let me know :-)

Update:  Apparently we will continue the theme of picking on my mom tonight, because tonight my mom, who works on computers all day, messaged me to say that she could not figure out how to leave me a comment on tonight's post.  What makes this scenario even funnier is that fact that she has left several comments in the past, but tonight it just wasn't happening.  She was kind enough to message me the comment, however, so I thought I'd share:

"Keep training and wear some really short shorts that he will have to look at when you are in front of him. You will so win. Hugs."

Yeah; that's my mom.  There's a reel from Will & Grace that keeps playing in my head.  Unfortunately, I can't find a video of it on Youtube, but basically Grace's mother was being her usual self and Grace looks at her and says, "Can I bring you to meet my shrink, because he thinks I'm making you up."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Thanks, Mom!

     As I'm sure most of you are aware, especially if you live anywhere in the south, we have a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf that will more than likely turn into a hurricane by the time it reaches land Wednesday.  Being a Louisiana native, I'm no stranger to storms, so Saturday I did the responsible thing by going to Wal Mart to stock up on water, canned food, candles and batteries.  I also topped off my tank at the local gas station, and located all of my flashlights.  I then called my mother.  Here's a rundown of that conversation:

Me:  Hey Mom; whatcha up to?

Mom:  Not much; just watching a movie.

Me:  Okay cool, so I was just calling because of Isaac.  I went to the store and got batteries, candles, PopTarts, granola bars, canned food and bottled water.  I filled up pitchers of water and stuck those in the fridge for the dogs.  I'm going to move the patio furniture inside tomorrow, and my friend Emily is going to come stay with us during the storm.  Is there anything I missed?

Mom: ...................

Me:   Mom?

Mom:  ...........................

Me: Mom!? Are you tuning me out again!?!

Mom:  ..........mmhhhmmmm

Me: MOM!  You're not even listening?!?

Mom:  I was too listening!

Me:  What movie are you watching?

Mom:  A Few Good Men; I love it!  I've probably seen it over 50 times.

Me:  You're the reason I have issues.

So after Mom insisted that she needed to see the end of the movie that she's seen "at least 50 times", I got off the phone.  She called me about 30 minutes later.

Mom:  Hey sorry, so what did you need?

Me:  *rolling eyes and making faces at the phone while repeating what I've already stated*  So does that sound like I thought of everything?

Mom:  Oh...crap I need to get gas I'm on E.

Me:  MOM!!!  I called you!

Mom:  What?  You got this.

Me:  You know, all of my friends' moms are calling them freaking out about this storm, and my mom is too busy oogling Tom Cruise to listen to me.

Mom:  Whatever, it's a great movie.

Me:  I'm so blogging about you!

     There you have it ladies and gentlemen, my mom's the reason I blog.  You can go thank her now.  If the storm knocks out our power, y'all will get a slight respite from me, but expect me to come back full force once the storm passes.  In the meantime, y'all be careful, be prepared, and just be smart.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Study Buddy

     I am insanely excited right now!  I got a new study buddy for Anatomy!  I'd like everyone to meet George Bedrock VonTrapp:

He has a pretty smile!
   They were selling him in the bookstore at school, and I had to have him!  I figured he would come in handy throughout school and even when I actually start a nursing job.  Maybe one day when I'm a Nurse Practitioner I can place him in my office. He's going to go far!  In the meantime we've been having a little fun. ;-)

    He's awesome, and he's my new best friend!

     In addition to my awesome friend George, I also have a recipe for Grilled Chicken and Tortellini with Roasted Red Pepper Cream to share with y'all.  I changed up a few things from the original, so if you want to check out the original, go right ahead.  Otherwise, here's what I did:

What you'll need:

1 Chicken Breast
1 (9oz) package tortellini (We used Spinach and Cheese)
2 cups frozen, chopped broccoli
1/3 cup drained roasted red bell peppers (from a jar or you can make your own)
4 TBS butter, halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TBS all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBS diced roasted red bell peppers
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then cook in skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove and cut into chunks.  Cook tortellini and broccoli according to directions on tortellini package.  Drain; return tortellini and broccoli to saucepan.  Meanwhile, prepare an Alfredo sauce by melting 2 TBS butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper, sauteing for a minute or two.  Add flour, and cook only until golden.  Don't let it brown.  Add heavy cream, and cook, stirring until sauce is thickened.  Add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.  Puree 1/3 cup red bell pepper in a blender.  Add Alfredo sauce; blend well.  Add Alfredo mixture, diced red bell pepper, and chicken to tortellini and broccoli in saucepan.  Cook and stir over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until heated through.  Pour into shallow ungreased 2 quart casserole dish.  In small bowl mix butter and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over tortellini mixture.  Boil 1-2 minutes or until top is golden brown.