Sunday, December 30, 2012
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Even though I dread the coming of autumn - because it means the end of warm weather and the beginning of cold weather - there are a few things I must admit I like about it. I love the bright orange and red and yellow leaves, even though it doesn't last very long before it's all a rather unattractive brown. I love that week or so when it seems all the leaves are falling at once, and the air is always filled with leaves raining down. I love the rustling they make as the wind shifts them all around the ground. And I love that smell. It seems odd to love any smell associated with something decaying, but that scent of the fallen leaves, especially after a rain, is somehow wonderful. Wouldn't it be nice if all decaying things could smell pleasant?
So, it's no secret that I'm not a cold weather fan, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does suit my wardrobe better. I love sweaters, and they fill about 80% of my closet.
I also love the cold weather foods - those wonderful, rich, warm comfort foods. Autumn means I can start stirring up pots of soups and stews and chilis.
And pumpkin everything. I must say, I don't object to that at all.
It also means I can curl up with a nice hot cup of cocoa. That's what I did tonight.
I wanted a cup of cocoa with a distinctly autumnal twist to it. I also wanted something low in fat, but I'm not willing to compromise richness for that. No problem. Here's what I came up with!
Warm Autumn Cocoa (makes 2 "normal" servings or one big one!)
2 heaping tsp. Hershey's cocoa
4 heaping tsp. of sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute)
2-3 T. nondairy powdered creamer (I like the extra rich kind)
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. plus 3 tsp. lowfat milk (I use 1% fat, but skim also works - the nondairy creamer keeps it nice and rich)
Heat 2 c. milk in microwave or on stove until very hot but not to boiling. Meanwhile, in a very large mug or normal size teapot, add the cocoa, sugar, creamer and spice. Mix well (do not skip the mixing or the cocoa powder will be lumpy and bitter). Add the vanilla extract and 3 tsp. milk. Stir until it forms a smooth syrup. If it's too thick, add another teaspoon of milk. Stir in the hot milk. Either enjoy your giant mug of cocoa or pour into smaller mugs to share!
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
I got up Saturday morning to watch my beloved Manchester United beat Wigan 4-0. It wasn't the blow out it sounds like though. The match was scoreless for the first half, and then when the second half came around, it was Paul Scholes - our veteran, our legend, playing his 700th match with United - who finally broke the drought. After that Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) sank one, then we had two new players making their home debuts, Alex Büttner and Nick Powell, each score. It was a good start to the day.
When the match was finished, the girls and I took a little trip to Troy for the Taste of Troy event. We got to try lots of yummy goodies from the local restaurants, and that always gives me good ideas for my own kitchen.
Munch spent the night at her dad's last night, but Gin didn't want to. We picked her back up today and did our weekly shopping.
This week's menu, tentatively, includes the following:
* Mini meatloaves and roasted potatoes
* Steak and baked potato (the girls love steak and it struck me that I almost never serve it. After seeing the prices at the grocery today, I was quickly reminded why. But this will be a little indulgence.)
* Buffalo chicken wraps (we had some buffalo chicken ravioli at Taste of Troy, and it gave me the idea)
* Beef and cheese quesadillas
We picked up a rotisserie chicken from the deli to eat tonight, accompanied by a nice salad.
And I threw together this little treat - kid-friendly and healthy snack that's great for after-school peckishness without spoiling dinner!
Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1/2 very ripe banana (the riper it is, the sweeter it is)
1-2 T. chocolate syrup (like Hershey's syrup)
2 T. vanilla yogurt
1/2 - 3/4 c. skim or lowfat milk (depending on how thick you/they like it)
Pulse in blender then run on high for about a minute or until smooth. Makes 1 generous serving.
Sooo simple, yet soooo good!
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Monday, September 3, 2012
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
1 pound lean ground beef
15 crushed Ritz crackers (can you tell yet that these are my preferred "filler"?)
1 T. Weber roasted garlic and herb seasoning
1 T. worcestershire sauce
1 t. soy sauce
1 T. chopped dried onion
1/3 c. ketchup
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/3 c. ketchup
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. ground ginger
Heat oven to 400F. Mix meatloaf ingredients thoroughly with hands. Divide into four even portions and shape each into a small loaf shape. Place on baking sheet covered with foil and sprayed lightly with olive oil.
Mix glaze ingredients in a small bowl and brush evenly over meatloaves to desired thickness. (I like a lot on mine.)
Bake 30-40 minutes or until glaze is nicely browned and loaves are cooked through.
At the same time, you can bake your potatoes.
4 med. russett potatoes, well-scrubbed, diced small and rinsed
Weber roasted garlic and herb seasoning
Seasoned salt (Lawry's is always the best)
Toss potatoes in olive oil, sprinkle with seasoned salt and seasoning. Toss together and season again until seasoned as desired. Spread in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at the same time as meatloaves. Turn pan and stir once about halfway through. They'll finish at the same time.
This meal is BEGGED for by the girls - especially the potatoes!
Remember, I'm cooking for myself and two girls, ages 14 and 11, so you might need to adjust your proportions to suit your family size.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
I remembered to snap a pic before I dug in! I split open the cabbage rolls and pour some of the sauce inside. The side dish is roasted potatoes, which is just russet potatoes diced and tossed in olive oil, then seasoned with seasoned salt and Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning (a staple in my house.)
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
This post brought to you by Famous Footwear. All opinions are 100% mine.
I've already got one kid out of the house, but I've still got a 14 and an 11-year-old girl at home, so this time of year means ... back-to-school shopping. It's time-consuming. It's expensive. It's DULL. But wait... it's also NEW SHOES!
With three girls in the house (I'm counting me), we do love shoe shopping. And Famous Footwear is making it even better for us. They've got all the current styles even my oh-so-fashion-conscious 14-year-old (she takes after me!) and the cute stuff my 11-year-old still wants. And right now for back-to-school, they've got an even-better-than-BOGO deal! (BOGO = buy one, get one) It's BOGO plus 15% off!
Just print the coupon and redeem it at your favorite Famous Footwear store to get 15% off plus buy one pair, get one pair half off through Aug. 18. Don't miss out!
So that means, one for Gin and one for me - plus 15 percent off. And one for Munch and one for me - plus 15% off. Oh, they might need more than one pair each. That's OK. The coupon's good for up to 21 pairs of shoes. :)
Can it get any better? As a matter of fact, YES. If you're a member of their Rewards Program or join while you're there, you can use the other coupon to get 20% off, instead of 15%! The Rewards Program is FREE and offers 1 point for every dollar you spend in the store or online. Points can be accumulated for certificates up to $100 a year (you know how I love loyalty rewards programs!) You also get a discount offer for signing up and other discounts and perks as a member.
I knew there HAD to be a reason to smile at "back-to-school" - I'll call it "back-to-NEW SHOES!"
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Anyway, since we all got a break from Mexican for a night, it was OK to use up those leftovers with tonight's dinner:
Leftover 1/2 pound cooked and seasoned ground beef from Monday
Leftover 1/2 can seasoned refried beans from Monday
1 c. shredded cheese
Another 1/4 of that onion from Monday, chopped finely
Tortilla chips (baked ones make for a healthier meal)
I'm cooking for three, so I divided the beef, beans and cheese into three microwave-safe bowls. Add a tablespoon or two of taco sauce to each. Stir well. Microwave each on high for about a minute, stirring every 15 seconds.
Remove from microwave and top each bowl as desired. Top with crushed tortilla chips and eat with a fork or spoon.
This keeps the chips nice and crisp and eliminates the mess!
You can see the only new ingredient is the tortilla chips after Monday's meal, so it's almost like getting two meals for one!
Oops, I forgot to take a picture again. I ate it too quickly!
Monday, August 6, 2012
The advantages are: 1) having a clear grocery list that eliminates random shopping and buying extraneous stuff - keeps the grocery bill down; 2) organizing the evening so I know what I'm making as soon as I finally get home every day; 3) home cooking more meals and avoiding having so many "convenience meals," although we still throw some of those in there, because we actually like them; 4) bringing more variety to dinner.
Since it's working out so well, I thought I'd share a few success stories and recipes, because who doesn't like recipes and easy, kid-friendly meal ideas, right?
This week began with a Mexican Pizza, a variation of an earlier one I'd had on the menu that was a huge success with the kids (and me, too!) I didn't take a picture, but I'll try to do pics with later recipes!
1 Boboli or other prepared pizza crust
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 can refried beans
Taco seasoning (I have a huge container of this I keep around for adding a kick to all kinds of things)
1 c. shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
Chopped onions (about 1/4 of one large, sweet onion)
- Preheat oven to 425F. Brown and crumble ground beef; drain. Season with taco seasoning according to directions. (I brown a full pound and reserve half for Wednesday's meal.) Warm refried beans in microwave (I also save half of this for Wednesday.) Season with a little taco seasoning to taste. Spread the half can of refried beans over crust. Spread some taco sauce over beans. Evenly distribute beef over taco sauce. Evenly spread cheese over beef. Pop in oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is throughly melted and crust is browned as desired.
- Remove from oven and add remaining toppings, or slice into servings and allow each person to add toppings as they wish.
Easy peasy and everyone loves it!!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I'm at work. I'm going to see The Fray in concert tonight. (!!!!!!!) I'm surrounded by sexagenarians (and up) who don't even know who The Fray are (yes, I used the British practice of a plural verb for a collective noun. I prefer it. Sue me.)
In other news, the neighborhood stray who adopted us as a kitten has had four new little ones in my garage. Born April 15, I'm sure it was very taxing. (I truly apologize for that horrible, horrible pun - but I'm not deleting it anyway.) There are three tuxedos and one calico. Very cute. Sign up now, and get your own in six weeks. :)
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
It's been a long couple of weeks. Or months. Or years, really. But particularly, the last couple of weeks have been tiring. It seems every time I come in to work I find that another coworker is off for one reason or another, and I'm always the one asked to fill in. The choice is obvious, really. I can do more in the same time than anyone else in the office.
I'm not being arrogant. Frankly, I wish it weren't so. It's terribly frustrating. I watch my coworkers half-ass their way through the day, and it's fine with the powers that be. Me? I can't even force myself to slow down to their speed.
I've gotten fed up, to be sure. I am tired of always having the extra work piled on me because others aren't putting in the same effort. And to make it worse, not only are they doing it *slowly*, they're not even doing it *well*. I have high standards. I expect perfection, or something approaching it. They're not even *trying*.
And with all this, I make less at this job than I did 10 years ago when I started. That's less outright. $1 less per hour than when I started 10 YEARS AGO. Adjust that for inflation, and it's practically criminal.
I've put out my resume again. There's a nice job I'd very much like to get a call on this week. If not, I'll keep looking. I never stopped, really, but I hadn't been all that active at it. There's something out there for me somewhere.
Monday, March 19, 2012
1. The daffodils are in bloom. I don't have any around here, but I've passed them in my car on my way to work.
2. There's an annoying fly buzzing around in my room.
3. Munch is now wearing the same skirt for four straight days. Previously, she wore the same pair of pants for four straight days.
4. The backside of the wing mirror on my car is covered with a layer of dead bugs.
5. It's gorgeous outside. I'm still hunched over my computer holed up in my room. But the curtains are open. And it's hot in here.
6. I can no longer stop at the pet store after the grocery to look at the fishies because all of my frozen items will melt.
7. I'm lookng forward to Manchester United winning the Premier League title - but dreading the season ending and not having my footie anymore. :(
8. I have to dress in layers, so I can take them off on my way and from work and pile them on in the office where the A/C is set to "meat locker."
9. I've come to accept that I can no longer put off shaving my legs. Well, not for much longer...
10. The hot dog and root beer stand is open! - which I take advantage of on opening day, then ignore for the rest of the season.
11. When my daughter disappears for hours at a time, I now assume she's at the park instead of at the neighbor's house playing with their dogs.
12. I can no longer sing at the top of my lungs in the car, because the car next to me has its windows open.
13. I've swapped my comfy fuzzy jammie bottoms for my comfy cotton knit jammie bottoms.
14. I'm looking at the grill thinking, "Mmmmm, I should get some charcoal and fire that baby up." But I don't.
15. I go through the store looking at all the hot summertime clothes and think, "I'm too old for that."
16. I go through my closet looking at all the hot summertime clothes and think, "I'm too old for that" - and give it to my daughter.
17. I wake in the morning to the sound of birds chirping outside my window and say, "Shut up, stupid birds."
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Anyway, I never look forward to winter, but this ominous forecast I was definitely not wishing to see come true.
Then at the tail-end of October, we got a sudden burst of snow. We knew it wouldn't stick around, but it hinted at an early beginning.
Then ... nothing.
Well, nothing as far as "winter" was concerned. We had rain and wind some days; we had sun and warmth some days. In fact, it was quite as "autumnal" as weather could get for the midwest. And it kept going, and going, and going.
Christmas came and went with the background of a dead and brown landscape. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees most days, and the rain continued a couple of times a week.
Then this week, the warnings came back to my email. The temperature would drop 20 degrees in a day. The snow would fall.
The temperature did drop. It's been quite cold and bound to get colder. The snow did fall, but it didn't accumulate to any shocking degree. It's primary danger was while it was actually falling, making the roads slick and visibility poor.
But this, I know, is just the beginning. It's a late beginning, but it's the beginning.
Thursday, January 12, 2012