You're Killing Me Smalls!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

For those of you that haven't seen "The Sandlot", the title of this post means nothing to you. If you're a fan of the movie, I'd be willing to bet that those words have passed through your lips at least once.

Now, the name Smalls has a new meaning in our house.

Meet Summer's Christmas presents:

Otherwise known as cat toys for Smoky and Spooky.

This is Smalls.

This is her buddy, Squints. Yep, named from the movie as well.

They are very sweet. Although they do cause more than one friend or family member to shudder with disgust.

It's beginning to look like Noah's Ark around here. Two cats. Two Turtles. Two Rats. Of course, it would have to be a GAY Noah's Ark, since they're all the same sex. But's the 21st century!


Lettuce Wraps

Friday, December 19, 2008

I have ordered lettuce wraps in restaurants before, but for some reason I had never made them at home. They have now been put on the "favorite" list and some version will be made often.

I happened to have several chicken breasts that had been grilled on the Foreman, just hanging out in the refrigerator looking for something to do.

So I sliced the chicken very thin...

Julienned some red bell peppers...

Added some sliced garlic. Minced garlic is for...lightweights!

Seasoned with some Hoisin Sauce and some Newmans Sesame Ginger Dressing
(which is fabulous on a Chinese Chicken Salad!)

Sauteed it all up together...just long enough to warm the chicken.

The peppers should al dente, not mushy.

Pulled some nice "cup" shaped leaves off the lettuce. I used butter lettuce, but iceberg or green leaf would work just as well.

Just place the cooked mixture in your lettuce leaf,and eat like a taco. Delish!

Now, cooking for my family has never been an easy chore. The children are picky...I mean PICKY! But now, Stormy has decided she is a vegetarian. So Storm wouldn't eat the lettuce wraps because they had meat in them; and Shelby wouldn't eat them because they had vegetables in them.

How much longer until they go away to college and have to feed themselves?


"Thank God For Top Ramen"


Holiday Traditions

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I grew up in a family steeped in tradition. And I loved it. I have so many wonderful memories, especially of holidays.

There was always the first Strawberry Shortcake of the year on April grandfathers birthday. We still have Strawberry Shortcake on April 13th...for Shelby's birthday. Although Shelby won't eat it, because strawberries are fruit, and fruit might be good for you. But the rest of us eat enough for her.

I remember many, many games of "Clue" after holiday dinners. My mom always got to be Miss Scarlet. I wanted to be Miss Scarlett so bad. My Grandmother was Mrs. White, and Grandpa was always Colonel Mustard. It was tradition!

Professor Peacock, in the Library, with the candlestick. Oh how I loved that game.

And at Christmas time, my grandparents always had two bowls on the table. One full of ribbon candy, and one full of nuts.

This is on my counter this holiday season. Thanks for the cool basket Mom!

Another long standing tradition, for many families including mine, is the baking of holiday treats to give to family and friends. While I participate in this annual tradition, I'd like to know who started this sadistic trend. Why on earth do we spend hours upon hours baking cookies to then package up and give away, only to receive a different assortment from others with the same goal? Rather then spend precious holiday time baking hundreds of cookies to give away, then receive hundreds back, why not just bake cookies for your own family?

These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night, tossing and turning with thoughts of sugar, flour and butter. What if I forget to give cookies to someone, then receive them from that person and feel guilty that I missed them? Ahhhh, the joy of the holidays.

Regardless, I continue with the frenzy of holiday baking and delivering pretty wrapped boxes of treats.

Here is part of this years donations:

I at least hope my treats are well received. And we definitely partake of all the goodies bestowed upon us.

Happy Holidays!


Santa Must Be Coming!

Monday we went Christmas shopping in Las Vegas.

And what to our wondering eyes should appear?


Snow in Vegas!

This must mean it's Christmas time!

And Santa will soon be here!

This morning, it was raining at home. Cold and raining. Shelby says "I hate the rain." I mentioned to Shel that it rains here an average of 3 days a year. I also wondered out loud how she was going to survive college in Flagstaff, where they actually get weather. I guess I'll be buying her a parka for graduation!


Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am not a fan of Thanksgiving, as my friends and family all know. But I do love the "day" because it means the official start of the Christmas season.

I love everything about the next month!

The decorating, the cooking, the giving spirit of people, the shopping, driving around looking at Christmas lights, the shopping, the Christmas music, the eating, the shopping.

The shopping starts tonight at Midnight. Our mall here opens at Midnight for shopping! I'm so excited! I don't even need anything from the mall, but just the idea that I can take my girls to the mall for Christmas shopping at Midnight makes me giddy. Plus...they have free hot chocolate. I don't even like hot chocolate, but they are serving it at Midnight in a MALL. It will be the best damn hot chocolate I have ever had in my life.

I'm SO excited!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Pull Apart Monkey Bread

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I have no idea why it's called Monkey Bread. I've never made it before. This is my husbands recipe. I was making another dish with frozen bread dough today, and figured I might as well thaw two loaves.

I will DEFINITELY make this bread again. It is wonderful...and super easy. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures until I had already started!


1 loaf frozen bread dough
1 cube butter, melted
3/4 cup cinnamon sugar mix

Follow the directions on the dough and let it rise. Punch it down and roll it flat. Using a round bisquit cutter, cut out dough circles.

Dip in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar.

Put a bread loaf pan on its end and stack the dough circles until all gone.

It should fill the loaf pan.

Let rise again, to the top of the loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Be amazed at the power of yeast!

Let cool a few minutes, then turn the loaf pan upside down onto a plate.

The melted butter/cinnamon sugar glaze will cover the bread, and make it irrestible!

I have seen recipes that this can also me made with canned bisquits, like Grands. That might be alright, but I really like the flavor of the yeast bread.

I think I had too many pieces...I'm heading into a sugar coma as I type.



Garage Sale Finds...and Dinner

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I love garage sales.

Really love them. Summer and I get up early on Saturdays and drive around neighborhoods looking for signs.

You never know what treasures you might find. This week, it was a slew of infomercial goodies.

First is the Smart Stitch. New in the box. $19.99 at Walmart. Got it for 2 bucks! Summer's already sewing together everything in the house.

Next is the Zone Pilates. Never been used. $45 on TV. I paid $15.

It will probably still be new in the box this time next year!

But here is my most exciting find. The Ron Popiel Rotisserie Oven. Saw it in the kitchen store in the mall today for $194. I stole it for $10. Brand new!

Cooked dinner in it tonight. Pork roast. Threw a rub together and stuck that baby on the spit!

Let it turn slowly and get golden brown for a couple of hours....


At least I know this garage sale find/informercial casualty will get used!



Nor Cal Visit

I know, I know!

Waaaayyyy too long between posts. But let me explain. I took 4 days off work to go to Northern California for a visit with the Pops and the Uncles...and it took me two weeks to catch up at work. Seriously!

But I did want to share a few pictures and stories from my trip...
First day, my Dad and Candy took me to Apple Hill.
Home of Apple Farms

And Pony Rides

And Fishing Ponds

And Petty Zoos

But best of all...

Home of HUGE Apple Fritters

And Apple Turnovers!

Next day, I headed up to Grizzly Flats...

To see my Uncle Steve and Aunt Evelyn

I had a great visit, and a wonderful lunch. Still trying to get the chocolate torte recipe from my uncle.

Last day, I visited my Uncle Larry at his museum. I got a backstage tour.

My Uncle Larry made a great dinner for me and my Aunt Lola that night. Hey Lar - where did you get those tamales? I can't find them here!

There was one moment during the trip that just tickled me, so I have to share it with you. My last night at Dad's, we all jumped in the car to go to dinner. As he turned the key (on his new car) the stereo was blasting Cher. Rather than turn the volume down, he turned it up, and yelled over the music to me in the back seat "Can you believe this sound system? It's got 8 speakers!" Turns the volume up again "Listen to that bass!"

I think it is absolutely fricken fabulous that my 68 year old dad still rocks out! Right on Dad! Keep it's what keeps you young.



Mustard Chicken

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everybody has that one “Go To” dish. The one that goes together quickly for a week night dinner. The one that the children will actually eat. The one that you hope and pray leaves leftovers for lunch the next day.

At our house, that one dish is Mustard Chicken.

4 ingredients! Love that. Love the fact that it goes together in minutes. Love even more the fact that the children request it. Make's just as good the next day.

Chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
Yellow mustard
Bread crumbs or Panko
Vegetable Oil for frying


Coat the chicken breasts with mustard. It doesn't have to be perfect, but don't be shy with the mustard. Trust will make the chicken very moist, and the flavor doesn't overpower.

Cover the mustard coated chicken breasts with bread crumbs or Panko. I prefer Panko. Feel free to season the coating...I usually use Italian Season, Salt and Granulated Garlic.

Make sure you have a willing helper!

Put a decent amount of oil in a skillet, and put your chicken in nice hot oil. You want these babies to get nice and golden brown.

If you have big, fat chicken breasts, it's best to finish them in the oven. The breading tends to get too dark on the stove if the chicken is thick. Make sure you use the grungiest, most stained cookie sheet you own for this step!

We usually serve with rice pilaf, but goes just as well with potatoes or pasta.



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