Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately.. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat.. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes, or that box of Cuban cigars. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day? 9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. 10.
One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" Have a great holiday season!!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Peppermint Mocha creamer. I think that Coffeemate may have heard consumer pleas because this has become a yearlong shelf staple. No longer do I have to be the person who purchases 6 full-size creamers every time I go to the grocery store. You think I kid, but I kid not. You should see my hoarder-esk chest freezer. What can I say, they freeze well!
Be still my beating heart. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's. I like to buy cookies from Trader Joe's. In fact I have yet to meet a cookie I didn't like from Trader Joe's. These are the best. Reminiscent of an Oreo with peppermint candy creme filling and peppermint candy cane shavings on top. (Are you hungry yet? Because I am!)
I brought these home after sampling them at cooking club (yes, I know, no one "made" these per say. We don't always cook at cooking club. We sometimes just eat). Lance really likes these too. My favorite are the cherry flavored ones, they taste exactly like an original hard candy Lifesaver, which is one of my favorite imitation cherry flavored candy.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
One of the things that I love are Aveda products. My heart goes pitter-patter for Aveda. Sadly, my wallet chimes "empty, empty" for Aveda. But(!) the Aveda Institute is having 20% off this Friday and Saturday on all their products, which as far as discounts go, that's as good as it gets.
Here are the items that are on my Aveda wish list:
Smooth Infusion Shampoo and Conditioner plus their other Smooth Infusion Friends
Carribean Therapy Body Cream
Outer Peace Acne Spot Relief
And the Outer Peace Acne Relief Pads
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Welcome stove in the middle of the dining room. I'm sure that your location won't be annoying or at all challenging when it comes to making meals.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I'm approximately 13 weeks along :) Don't hold your breath for belly pictures, it's not really my thing.
Funny stories about announcing our upcoming child.
1) When we told my parents on Thanksgiving, I tried to steer the conversation towards what my dad and mom wanted for Christmas. Somehow the conversation turned to medical maladies. I tried to steer the conversation back to gift lists for my mom for her birthday and again, the topic went an entirely different direction. Sigh ... so instead of getting to ask one of my parents if they wanted a grandchild for a Christmas gift I ended up just announcing it.
2) Lance had to announce it to his family twice. His mom entirely missed the first announcement and I figured that it was an important enough of an announcement to be repeated :)
3) I took pink and blue frosted sugar cookies to work to announce my pregnancy. Sadly, no one put two and two together that pink and blue was significant. After 2.5 hours of nothing, I ended up sending a second email explaining to everyone that I was pregnant. One of my coworkers just thought I was confused about what colors are appropriate for Christmas.
Needless to say, this wasn't exactly how I pictured informing everyone about our upcoming baby!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Truth be told, these soaps remind me of my first Christmas as a newlywed. I was a little crazy. I made 30 homemade peppermint candy cane soaps, 30 containers of hot chocolate and like 500 Christmas cookies. Second year, I toned it down. A little. Instead of homemade soaps and hot chocolate, I bought 30 packages of Paperwhite Lilies in September and had all of them planted and forced to bloom by the week of Christmas. And I probably made 350 cookies instead. Our guest room looked like a makeshift greenhouse. The year after I toned it down again. I made homemade Chinese take-out boxes and filled them with baked goods. And then year four happened. Grad school killed all expectations of splendor. I managed to get my Christmas cards out the first week of December, but no one received homemade gifts. Well, this year I am up to my old tricks. There's a small part of me that is itching to make some homemade gifts again. Of course this will be done in addition to 200 Christmas cookies, Christmas cards, and meaningful gift giving. I might be certifiably nuts. And of course I can't tell you what I'm thinking about making - I'd hate to ruin the surprise if you happen to be on the receiving end of all my craziness :)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Here are my list of favorites (some glamorous, some not):
- Centro - be still my beating heart, their Chocolate Creme Brulee
- Flying Mango - Cajun Shrimp & Dirty Rice
- Ban Thai - Cashew Nut Chicken
- El Rodeo - Chicken Chimichanga
- Noodle Zoo - love all their soups
- Z'Mariks - Pesto bowl and their Teriyaki bowl
- Hickory Park - sometimes with their mashed potatoes I feel like I've died and gone to heaven (yes, not DM, but still fab)
- Dublin Bay - best and most wonderful Cottage Pie I've ever had (also not DM, I know)
Where is your favorite place to eat?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
However, I didn't even consider my latest dress code issue to be a problem at all. As many women know, the leggings+tunic combo is all the rage. 1) Leggings are comfortable 2) Leggings are a nice alternative to tights or jeans or pants 3) Leggings, when paired with a tunic or other longer top that covers your derriere, is a cute combo. Unbeknownst to me, leggings are not workplace appropriate. At least not for my workplace. It makes me chuckle to think that I push the dress code to the extreme that HR has to send out scolding emails every time the season changes. Our dress code is pretty lax and I don't ever think that what I wear is inappropriate, however HR must disagree with me! Alas, if only our HR department had a fashion consultant to clue them into what's cute for the season :)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Over the years they've experienced a lot and been many places. My parents are currently on a trip to South Carolina to celebrate their anniversary. The recent picture below is taken in 2009 in Hawaii. Congrats Mom & Dad on 40 years together - how time flies! Here's to many more anniversaries - I love you guys!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Mmm... nothing says comfort food like baked potato soup. Especially with fresh bread. This baked potato soup was different from my normal baked potato soup. Typically I make a Betty Crocker version that starts off with a chicken broth base - no roux. And it's good, but it's not thick or creamy. If you are looking for a potato soup version that is rich and hearty - this is your recipe. A couple of additional thoughts - you can save yourself time by doing your baked potatoes ahead of time or by using leftover baked potato innards. Also, we did not have any bacon at the time and I do think that potato soup needs bacon. Then again, I'm a firm believer in most things bacon. Therefore, I could be a little biased :)
Baked Potato Soup Ingredients
4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 green onions, chopped
12 slices bacon, crisp-fried and crumbled
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
Bake potatoes until tender; cool. Scoop out pulp into a small bowl.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; stir in flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk gradually. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the potato pulp, 2 tablespoons green onions, 1/2 cup of the bacon, and 1 cup of the cheese. Cook till heated through.
Stir in sour cream (do not boil after this point otherwise soup will separate and generally be gross). Sprinkle each serving with reserved green onions, bacon, and cheese.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
1. Christmas music.
2. Non-fat, no whip, White Chocolate Mocha
3. A cookie.
4. 30 minutes of some sort of mindless tv.
5. Throwing piles of accumulated junk into the trash.
6. Fuzzy therapy ala Fire
7. 10 minutes of perusing old Calvin & Hobbes comic strips.
8. Skirt twirling.
9. 15 minute walk combined with Glee soundtrack singing.
10. "Be at rest once more, o my soul, for the Lord has been good to you" Psalm 116:7
What are your mood boosters?
Saturday, November 6, 2010
But with Taylor Swift & Sugarland at $3.99 and Little Big Town at $5, it's cheaper than itunes and cheaper than buying the physical cd. Love it! The moral of the story is this: amazon is the place to be.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
At any rate, what is your favorite kind of Skittles?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
- New hardwood floors throughout the main level, minus the bedrooms and bathroom
- New carpeting in all the bedrooms and it the downstairs den and office
- New EZ granite mini slabs for the kitchen counters
- Paint throughout
- New light fixture over the kitchen sink and in the bathroom
- New bathroom counter top
- Reframe bathroom mirror
So far Lance has agreed to the first two items - unwillingly. Last weekend we purchased the engineered hardwood flooring from Home Depot. It should be in next week. Lance still isn't 100% on board, but I am completely convinced that this will up the resale value of our home and make it look fab. I had my heart set on hand scraped oak flooring, but even on sale at $3.99 a square foot, it was still a little over budget. I'm sure that the flooring we went with will be just as lovely. Carpeting will be hired out and will probably happen around the first of 2011 (bearing no unforeseen changes). I'm excited about that too. I think that I can probably sneak in a new light fixture before the end of 2010 in the kitchen.
I think my challenging project will be to convince my slow-to-accept- change husband will be the new kitchen counter tops. I think the key will be to go to the local showroom and get a price estimate. I think he needs a little adjustment period :)
Lance apparently thinks that I only get one "do-over" for repainting. ONE! I think he's in for a little adjustment with that too :) Especially since I am really digging grey. Grey everywhere. With a splash of lime. Like with this.
Lance thinks I'm crazy because I want to change things. My mom does this every year or so, so I think it's completely normal. He just needs to adjust!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
These are delicious. And an occasion where more marshmallow does not equal more gooey goodness. Who would have thought. I've always been under the assumption that more marshmallows is ALWAYS a good thing! But if you add, I don't know, 3x the amount you are supposed to, the marshmallow just gets everywhere and on everything. It's not good. So take my proven advice, and don't triple the marshmallows :)
Salted Peanut Chews
1 Yellow Cake mix
1/3 cup margarine
3 cups miniature marshmallows
2/3 cup white corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz. bag peanut butter chips
2 cups rice krispies
2 cups salted peanuts (no skins)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine all base ingredients until crumbly. Press in bottom of ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 12-18 min.
Remove from oven, sprinkle on marshmallows and bake 2-3 min., until marshmallows start to puff. Remove from oven.
In large saucepan, heat corn syrup, marg., vanilla, and chips until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in cereal and peanuts.
Spread over marshmallows.
Chill. Store covered.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
But here is my adventures in Lara Bars. I "inconvenienced" Sarah's food processor while making these (I say "inconvenience" because it used to have a pulse option and an off option. Now it has no options - just a go speed.) And Lance tried to fix it (Sarah I don't think I told you that ...). But Lance didn't fix it. In fact he made me so nervous that he was going to break it more that I ended up shouting at him to stop. I didn't want to have to purchase a new $100 food processor for their family. Lance's comment "well ... I didn't know they cost so much. Sorry ..." Moral of the story: Lance can sometimes fix things. And sometimes he breaks things further. I had to stop him before we reached that point.
Larabars are a nice on-the-go snack. But good gracious, are they expensive! At $2/bar, they were a luxury item. Precious Sarah purchased some bulk dates for me at $5 and then I purchased some lightly salted peanuts and orange cranberries. Overall, my version is much much cheaper. And they aren't hard to make. Unless you break the food processor you borrowed :)
Larabar ingredients for PB Jelly Larabars
1/3 cup of peanuts
1/3 cup cranberries or other dried fruit
Pulse everything, starting with the dates, in the food processor. Amounts are more or less, based on your texture preference.
From the moisture of the dates everything will start clumping together nicely.
Spread a couple of tablespoons out onto a piece of plastic wrap and mush it into a bar shape.
Then wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for freshness.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I like the leading lines and the overall composition of the photo.
I like old barns. Lance - do we have room in our backyard for one of these?
I was a little obsessed with the clouds. And the algae pond. Who doesn't like a refreshing bath of ... algae.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Monday: Chicken Corn Tortilla soup (my latest obsession is the same soup from the Gateway Market. Hopefully this recipe is a close duplicate)
Tuesday: Dinner at Felix & Oscars (I've got photography class at 7 pm, so it's supper on-the-go)
Wednesday: BLATS, sweet corn, and sweet potato fries
Thursday: Grilled chicken breasts with a tequila lime marinade and couscous and some broccoli
Friday: Butterfly pork chops, sweet corn, fried apples and mashed potatoes
Saturday lunch: Asian chicken salads
Saturday supper: :ISU versus UNI game!
Sunday lunch: Cheese stuffed beer burgers
Sunday supper: Chicken pot pie
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Growing up in NW Iowa, my family spent a lot of time in Omaha, NE. Both of my aunts live in the Omaha area and any special shopping my mom would do with me would be in Omaha. Because of this, our family had a couple of favorite restaurants in Omaha. One of those restaurants is The Garden Cafe. The Garden Cafe is known for their breakfast menu and their potato casseroles. Dear me, how I love their potato casseroles. The secret is the ranch salad dressing. I know, sounds a little lame and more than a little unhealthy, but I really believe the secret is Ranch salad dressing!
3 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Ranch salad dressing
Colby jack cheese
Diced green pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Like usual, I worked off a very loose recipe. Meaning, I had a mental list of ingredients in my head and then eye-balled it.
I started by prepping all of my potatoes. I then panfried them with a dab of canola oil in a skillet with the onion. While I was doing this I also sprinkled on the S&P and the oregeno. Then I transfered half of the potatoes into a casserole dish and layered all of the veggies and the ranch. I topped it with the remaining potatoes and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. During the last five minutes sprinkle a little cheesy love ontop of it!
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I stumbled onto this videographer's website - he's amazing. This video - also amazing. If I a) lived in Cali b) had a reason for a videographer c) wanted something special made, he would totally be my go-to choice.
Anyway I wanted to share. I thought the video was really beautiful and moving.
1½ cup Dried apricots
1½ cup Water
6 tablespoons Sugar
1 can Crushed pineapple (8 oz)
1½ tablespoon Cornstarch
3 tablespoons Butter
Pastry for 8" double pie crust
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We love going to games - I love football season in general. Granted, I prefer football games that include fall weather, crisp leaves, tailgating, and winning scores :)
I ate a Clone Cone. They are loaded with food coloring. I dripped a little on my gray shirt and the damage was totally noticable!