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."