Monday, January 31, 2011

As per Request: Krispy Cookies

I made Krispy Cookies to take up to Grandview  to snack on and received a request for the recipe.
As one who LOVES requests, it's my pleasure to  oblige.

Krispy Cookies
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable/canola oil (Yes...BOTH butter and oil)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (if using nuts that are salted, you can decrease)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Mix all the above ingredients together.  Beat til smooth.  Then add:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Beat 1 minute.  Add:
1 cup oatmeal (I use quick cooking)
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts (my personal favorite is macadamia nuts, but I've made this with pecans before and they're good as well)

Put 1/4 cup sugar on a shallow plate.

Using roll ~2Tbs dough into a ball, put on a cookie sheet.  Using the bottom of a glass, flatten cookie, then dip the bottom of the glass in the sugar and transfer it to the cookie (you only have to do this once, for the first cookie to be able to make the sugar stick to the glass, then the cookie, after the first cookie, you can then go back to the sugar and flatten only once).
Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10-14 min (I found 12-13 min to be pretty close).  They'll start to turn a very light golden at the edges, but the center will still be a little soft.  Let cool about 5 min on the tray then transfer to a cookie rack.

These are a really good light krispy AND chewy cookie.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Happens at the Grandview Lodge...

My SIL celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this month.  She wanted to celebrate it with her closest friends.  MY suggestion was someplace warm, but she decided she'd get a better turn out if it was a little more local so she decided on Grandview Lodge up in Nisswa.  She had been to Grandview last summer and thought it would fit the bill for what she wanted.  Did it ever!

11 of us arrived on Friday night to a cabin that far exceeded our expectations.  It had  3 bedrooms with 2 queens in 2 bedrooms, and one queen in a third and a loft with a queen bed and two twin beds.  Each bedroom had its own full bathroom.  The main floor had a full living room with gas fireplace, granite kitchen, dining table for 10, 2 bedrooms and baths and a deck with an assortment of outdoor furniture and a gas grill.  The downstairs had the third bedroom, a laundry room with a full sized washer and dryer, a game room with a card table, a wet bar and a pool table along with a huge flat screen TV, a sofa some chairs and a completely screened in porch.  We all roamed around squealing like little girls for the first hour as we came to fully comprehend how lucky we are.

We played games well into the night before heading to our respective beds, some of us much later than others.  In the morning, we had coffee and bloody marys, made to order omelets,  white cheddar and rosemary cheesy potatoes, homemade cinnamon rolls and TONS of fresh fruit.  Of course that necessitated us doing something physical to work off the wonderful breakfast.  Half the group chose to cross country ski on the golf course, the other half chose to snow shoe across Roy Lake.  I was in the latter group and I have NEVER snow shoed before.  It was AWESOME!  We took a breather and headed to the lodge to check out the gift shop and have a drink in the pub.  We then headed to the hot tub and swimming pool before getting cleaned up for the evening.

Dinner we all brought out a different appetizers and OH MY, was there ever quite a selection.  There were spring rolls , chicken wings, homemade guacamole, shrimp salsa, meatballs, and this YUMMY Parmesan cheese spread with hot bread and roma tomatoes.  After eating our fill, we went to the lower level and played pool and listened to music.

We needed to check out by 11 which meant breakfast couldn't be the leisurely affair it was on Saturday, however that didn't mean we still didn't enjoy the left over fruit, cinnamon rolls and bagels (and was VERY VERY important to this weekend).

Oh, I know this seems pretty tame for 11 30-40 something women so I'll tell you a secret.  This wasn't all that happened. There was a pretty competitive games of Qwirkle, money changing hands quickly with "LRC" and 654.  There was some activity with pool cues that I'm sure would be deemed illegal in certain countries. There were book clubs to the right of us, police raids to the left.  And in the center?  Well, we all agreed...what happens at the Grandview Lodge stays at the Grandview Lodge.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What to Do When It's Too Cold to Think

First thing this morning, I turned on the TV to see if there was any delays in schools.  It was supposed to be d@mn  So cold that my middle daughter's middle school canceled their ski trip for today on TUESDAY because of the predicted windchill.  Apparently the moon was in the seventh sun, and Jupiter aligned with Mars because the weather people got it right.

This morning's temperature: -21 degrees F.  Boys and girls, that is temperature NOT wind chill.

And no, school was not canceled, or delayed (well, here.  Apparently we're of the hearty, farmer variety stock of people because down in Rochester, where SIL lives, THEY had a delay.  But they're ALWAYS closing schools down there so not surprising.)  We had a "hold your breath" moment where I MIGHT have had to run the boy to school as his truck did not initially start, but it ended up starting.  Hopefully he can get it started after school.  I got Beanie to school and came home.  A little bereft as I actually have the laundry done *shock*, AND the house cleaned *SHOCK*.  What to do, what to do...

So I got 2 lbs of mahi-mahi marinating for fish tacos for dinner.  

Going through my email today, Martha Stewart's cookie recipe of the day is Snickerdoodles and since we're out of cookies, I decided to make them.  What an easy cookie to make that almost everyone has the ingredients on hand at any given time.

Here's the recipe:
Preheat oven to 400
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Sift all ingredients together.
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I used salted and cut down on the salt to 1/8 tsp)
Blend together.
Add 1 1/2 cup sugar
Beat until fluffy.
Add 2 eggs
Beat til well mixed.
Add flour mixture in 1/3s.  Blend until well mixed.
Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbs cinnamon in a bowl.  Measure out 1 Tbs cookie dough and roll to form a ball, roll ball in cinnamon sugar until WELL coated and put on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 for about 10-11 minutes.

 A couple things to keep in mind:
1.  you CAN replace the shortening with butter but you have to add more flour (how much more, I don't know) or the cookies will spread ALOT and be really flat.
2.  I can fit 15 cookies on a 10x15 jelly roll pan.  Plenty of room for them to spread.  Pan does NOT need to be sprayed.  Martha said to use silpat or parchment paper.  Pshaw...not necessary.
3.  My pan(s) are aluminum and light colored.  The color of your pan will determine how long you cook them (dark pans absorb heat and will cook faster and browner).  Adjust your cooking time accordingly.
4.  The cookies will puff up but then flatten out a little when they cool.
5.  The recipe was on Martha's website, but so you know, it is the exact same recipe from the Betty Crocker cookie cookbook.

The results?  All this buttery, cinnamony goodness.

 Don't think.  Just do it.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yes, I'm yelling.  I've gone through all the "right" hoops trying to make my point and when all else fails...YELL.

And really, it's stupid.  The issue.  And it's something the husband doesn't grasp because this never effects him.

I have 3 girls, all with fairly long hair.  MY hair is fairly long.  I have a drawer in my bathroom that contains my hair dryer, my Fat Chi, my brush, a round brush, a couple combs.  Now at 40 (something) I am beyond wearing "pretties" in my hair.  There are 2 exceptions:  a headband (which I use to wash my face and hold my bangs away from the cleanser and water) and a butterfly clip (which I use to straighten my hair, holding the top layer up so I can iron in small sections).  The only other thing in my drawer would be my thick ponytail holders.  THIS is my issue.

Does anyone else find that their pony tail holders disappear with regularity in their house?  I honestly do not understand this.  I buy my girls their own packages of ponies for THEM to use.  And yet mine disappear.

So maybe you all can help me figure out how they seem to be disappearing.  First you need to know my routine.  I sleep with my hair in a pony.  When I shower each morning, I take out the pony and put it in my bottom drawer.  I shower and most days, I dry and sprunch my hair, leaving it down (no pony required).  When I start to cook dinner (I pull my hair back for obvious reason), I go to retrieve the pony and's gone.

I've come up with 3 plausible  and one off the wall reasons for this:
1.  the dog ate it.  No, really.  Because the cord to the hairdryer is always plugged in the drawer is cracked open and the dog CAN actually nudge the drawer open and pick out a pony.
2.  one/all of the girls have helped themselves to my stuff.  Not because I am the type of mother who won't buy them their own, but because they are careless with their possessions and tend to go by the rule "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine".
3.  in my filially induced senility, I am not, in fact, putting the pony in the drawer, but instead stashing it, like a ferret, someplace that I will someday (no, not today, and chances are not tomorrow) find adding to my confusion/senility.
4.  the drawer, which appears innocuous enough, is in fact, a non-discriminating ponytail eating drawer.
5.  (yes, I thought of a 5th)  pony tail holders are in fact self combusting, but only when placed in a drawer with a slightly elevated temperature from a recently used hairdryer and the faint scent of Aussie's Sprunch.

Ever analytical (the math major in me....just don't ask me to add or subtract), I have attempted the process of elimination:
1.  The dog.  Too easy.  Reminiscent of "the dog ate my homework".  PLUS, I know this dog.  YES, she does get into the drawer, and yes she does take my ponies.  However, her modus operandi is NOT to actually EAT them.  It is to play with them in front of me in an attempt to garner attention.  Occasionally she chews them to the point where they are no longer usable, but she then just leaves them.  I have not found any such ponies in recent days and yet, the past two days I have had to enter my "secret" stash of ponies because the one from the previous day has disappeared.
2. The girls.  Past precedent (and the giant red arrow) indicates this bears much more scrutiny.
3.  Filial induced senility.  I believe that since I can actually come up with this as a culprit, means that I can immediately dismiss as a possible suspect.  Also, given that 3 of my 4 children are girls (back to math) means that the girls are 75% responsible for said filial induced senility.
4. and 5. require a suspension of disbelief.  NOT impossible, but highly improbable.

So, given my careful analysis, I believe I have a culprit.  No real punishment is necessary beyond the re-reading (again...yes, that is redundant) of the Golden Rules for Living   with special attention given to both number 6 and number 9.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buns of Steel

You were thinking something completely different weren't you?  You were thinking I was going to talk about how firm and toned my backside is, right?  Well, I'll have you know my backside is a work in progress and we're not quite to steel....slightly cooled aspic is more like it.
No, today's post has to do with dance competitions and the things I do for them.  Oh let's be clear, I am not NEARLY as involved as most parents, mostly because I have 4 kids going in 4 different directions at any given time.  So, I do what I can.

Today's "do" was what you see.  My oldest daughter has her conference championships in jazz and kick line today and, for the first time, she asked me to help her with her bun.  Now in case you haven't been able to tell from previous pictures of her, she has thick, thick, thick, dense hair.  Did I mention that it was thick?  No?  Well, it's THICK.  It is also down to the middle of her back, so it surprised me to find that she is REQUIRED to wear a bun form in her hair.  Seriously.  So not only was I asked to "do" her hair today, I was also to use a form that I thought, in my OH SO HUMBLE way of thinking, was completely unnecessary for her.  FOR HER.  Yes, I get that there were probably lots of girls who DO need it, but from my, while not really professional, surely experienced eye, SHE did not need.  BUT, who am I to buck authority (who indeed?), so away I went. She gave me some basic instructions about how you fan the hair out over the bun form, put another pony around the bun, wrapped twice then attempt to wrap the fanned out hair beneath the bun form.  It was the second part where I had "issues".  Once I figured out what I was doing, and doing wrong, we took it out and I started over.  We were running short of time, so I grabbed the gel and gelled and sprayed each piece that decided not to behave.   It looked OK, but not nearly as good as I'm sure I could have made it look had she NOT been required to wear the bun form.  She said it felt good and secure and I took her to school to drop her off. 

She texted me a little while ago..."Coach said my bun looks AMAZINGG". 

Buns of steel indeed.                                                                                                                             

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great "Lasagna" Experiment

Today I decided to make a lasagna.  Now I'm pretty adept in making lasagna and have in the past made a white lasagna, using chicken and a bechemel sauce.  And I thought that was the direction I was headed but I got a wild hair and decided, after reading about a zillion recipes on for chicken lasagnas, to try something different.

First, I had a huge package of chicken breasts in the refrigerator that HAD to be used, so I decided to poach them (which means I have chicken in the fridge waiting to be made into chicken salad for the husbands lunch this week).  While getting that set up, I realized that I had some fresh thyme so I threw that in the water with the chicken breasts.When the chicken was done (and it didn't take too long...maybe 30 minutes once it came to a simmer)  I removed the chicken breasts from the poaching liquid and strained it into another pot and added a big tablespoon of chicken base (Tones) to the liquid.  I used that liquid to blanch my broccoli (which I decided to throw in last minute...since it wasn't a large head and it, too, needed to be used).  After reading all the different recipes for the bechemel sauce,  here is where I deviated.

So, in making the sauce, I took about 1/2 cup butter and sauteed a diced onion,  a tablespoon of minced garlic, some matchstick carrot pieces (again, the last of the bag) and the remainder of a package of mushrooms, also in need of using (see...this should be named the "in need of using" lasagna) until all the veggies were soft.  I added about 3 tablespoons of flour and cooked it until the flour absorbed the fat and the flour taste was cooked out.  I added about 1 1/2 cups of pinot grigio (altogether...also in need of using).  I destemmed another 4 thyme stems and let that cook until it started to thicken.  I added the broth from the blanched broccoli.  I also added about 4 tablespoons of cream cheese (low fat) and let that thicken.  It still wasn't as thick as I wanted so I mixed more flour with the wine that was left in the bottle and added it through a strainer (so as to avoid lumps)  In retrospect, I probably had too much broth/stock, but I went with it. 

At first I was going to boil my lasagna noodles, even though I NEVER boil them when I make a red lasagna (if you don't know that trick, then you are missing out.  Use LOTS of sauce, cover the lasagna, or put in the the fridge overnight and the noodles absorb the liquid AND when you cut it the pieces come out PERFECT...not sloppy at all), I was concerned that the same technique wouldn't work but decided I'd give it a try anyhow.  I put some sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan, put the hard noodles on top, more sauce, shredded chicken, broccoli, and a layer of mozzarella cheese, noodles, more sauce, chicken, broccoli, cheese, noodles and more sauce.  I covered the lasagna and let it sit for about 2 hours  then into a 375 oven for about an hour.

While it was cooking I grated a zucchini on a small grater and mixed it with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  I learned this trick from Lisa F. who does this to top her stuffed peppers and I LOVE it.  I added the cheese for the last 15 minutes then after 15 minutes I turned the oven to broil to brown the top.

The finished result?  You decide:
I was a little concerned when I cut it that it would be sloppy, and it was.  A little.  I think if you let it sit for a while it firms up.  This was after about 5 minutes, before it firmed up too much.  It still came out clean:
The husband ranked it a strong six/weak seven on a scale of 10.  The boy wasn't impressed and gave it a 4.5.  I believe that the presence of "green" did it for him.  4.5 to him means he would not be upset if I didn't make it again.  I gave it a strong 7.  It was good.  Because it lacked the ricotta (which I purposefully left out because the kids don't care for ricotta, even though I had some that yes, is in need of using), it didn't feel like a lasagna.  And the wine added a different flavor, one that I think was a little unexpected, but good.  I might try it again without the wine, using all chicken stock/broth and see if there is a big difference.

So, I'm going to pat myself on the back for this one.  This was COMPLETELY off the cuff.  Part of my goal in going this route was to see if I could do this without using the amount of cream/milk I would have used with a bechemel sauce.  So, the only fat that is in it is that from the butter (granted, a lot but needed to bind to the flour to thicken), the low fat cream cheese and the mozzarella.  I took ideas from other recipes but made this one mine.  I'm going to say this...if you think flavors will blend nicely, give'er a whirl.  Thus completes the great lasagna experiment.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fitty...or fifty

That's what you have to turn to get me to make one of these from scratch for you:

We'll be ending a fine prime rib dinner with this tonight.  And funny enough, I think I enjoy the prime rib more.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This Space For Rent

I am not a teenage boy (thank God), but I was party to a conversation with my son last week that confirmed something I had always thought, but NOT being of the male persuasion, I wasn't positive if my train of thought was accurate.

Let me back track a little.  I have never...let me repeat NEVER been a fan of clothing, specifically girls clothing, that has words written across the fanny.  Nor have I ever purchased said clothing, although Beanie did end up with a pair of hand me downs from a cousin with "Mudd" written on the fanny.  OH, let's be clear, my girls (specifically oldest) have let me know how ARCHAIC my reasoning was in this regard.  

Me:  No, I'm not buying you pants where the goal is to get someone (probably male) to stare at your butt under the pretext of  trying to figure out which words are written there.
Her:  MOOOOMMMMM, boys are NOT going to stare at my butt because words are on my pants.
Me:  Correct.  Because you are not going to be wearing pants with words on your butt.

High moral ground.  I was happy with my stance.

This year, for Christmas, she (my oldest daughter) asked for a pair of VS "Pink" Yoga pants.  At her current 5'8 and  one hundred and I hate you pounds, she HAS to have longs and VS is the only place I knew of that carried them.  And even then, pretty much only online, although I lucked out and found a pair in her size in the store. (her size? small, long.  Yeah, me too).  Of course, they weren't the exact ones she wanted (she had given me a VERY detailed Christmas list...with pictures...and sizes...for EVERYTHING...that was updated every 12 hours as her whims changed) but I figured she'd be happy.  I had a moment's hesitation buying them because they had "Love Pink" written on the back, but I justified buying them in that it wasn't written on the butt, but on a roll down band at the "waist" (Yes, I use the word waist loosely because after seeing them on her, they end up no where near her waist). 

Then, my 16 year old son set me straight as I listened to a conversation between the two of them the first time she wore them:

Him:  Why are you wearing clothes that beg guys to look at your butt?
Her:  I'm not.  And it's not on my butt.
Him: Close enough.
Her: And besides guys don't look close enough to read it.
Him: *raised eyebrows*
Her:  They don't care what's written there anyway.
Him:  You got that right.  They don't actually read the words, but they SEE that something is written and read it as "GRAB ME"

So, there you have it.  Once again, I failed to listen to that tiny voice in my head.  The barn door has been opened but my daughter knows that it is now FIRMLY closed.  The yoga pants?  STRICTLY for dance.  She doesn't get to wear them around town.  Future yoga pants will have no words on them.

I'm back to being the ARCHAIC mom.

And secretly...I had a little thrill.  My son DOES care what people think of his sisters.  But you didn't hear that from me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Loaves and the Fishes

Aside from being a bible story (the ONLY miracle, aside from the resurrection, present in all 4 gospels), the loaves and the fishes is a phenomenon that happens when my dad and I cook.  Not together mind you, although the two are not mutually exclusive.  It seems we have no concept of "feeds 4".  And neither my dad nor I are strict adherers to recipes which tends to lead to the "loaves and the fishes" phenomenon.

So this afternoon when I decided, after it started snowing (for the umpteenth time) to make a pot of chicken tortilla soup, I figured a rotisserie chicken, a can of this, a carton of that, some spices thrown in for good measure and ba-da bing...chicken tortilla soup.  I don't do this "recipe" often so I was looking through and just decided to combine everything I saw.  OH, and along with the rotisserie chicken I picked up, I figured I'd just throw in the left over chicken enchilada filling I had in my freezer.  THAT, I believe is where I made my first error.  It was a LITTLE more filling than I anticipated.  Which meant I had to use more chicken stock.  And as is ever my motto...In for a penny in for a pound. (see where this gets me?)

The result?  I now have a 6 qt stock pot filled to about an inch below the upper rim filled with chicken tortilla soup.  I use the word soup loosely.  I should borrow Rachael Ray's word...stoup.  It is filled with chicken chunks, onions, jalapenos, black beans, tomatoes, corn that is "held" together with stock and enchilada sauce.  I have tortillas baking in the oven to accompany the stoup.  And cheese quesadillas. A good meal for a snowy January evening.

As an added bonus, it will feed an army battalion.  Do you know of any?

Missing Ann Landers

As a kid, I rarely read any part of the newspaper, with the exception of the comics (I was a Beetle Bailey fan) and Ann Landers' column.  My  husband was listening to the radio the other day and they referenced two of her columns.  He immediately went online to find them because, frankly, they are SO appropriate and yet not taught anymore.  So, I'm gonna post them here. 
First is her Golden Rules for Living:
1.  If you open it, close it.
2.  If you turn it on, turn it off.
3.  If you unlock it, lock it up.
4.  If you break it, admit it.
5.  If you can't fix it, call someone who can.
6.  If you borrow it, return it.
7.  If you value it, take care of it.
8.  If you make a mess, clean it up.
9.  If you move it, put it back.
10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11. If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
12. If it's none of your business, don't ask questions.
Currently, my children have been asked to read these.  Each time they don't follow the rules, I ask them to go get the list and read it to me.  Repetition.  Repetition. Repetition.

Second is the Ten Commandments of How to Get Along with People
1.  Keep skid chains on your tongue.  Always say less than you think.  Cultivate a low, persuasive voice.  How you say it often counts more than what you say.
2.  Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what the cost.
3.  Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody.  Praise good work, regardless of who did it.  If criticism is needed, offer it gently, never harshly.
4.  Be interested in others---their pursuits, their work, their homes and families.  Make merry with those who rejoice, and weep with those who mourn.  Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him or her as a person of importance.
5. don't burden or depress those around you by dwelling on minor aches and pains and small disappointments.  Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of burden, often heavier than our own.
6.  Keep an open mind.  Discuss, but don't' argue.  It is the mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
7.   Let your virtues, if you have any, speak for themselves.  Refuse to talk of other's vices.  Discourage gossip.  It is a waste of valuable time and can be extremely destructive.
8.  Be careful of another's feelings.  Wit and humor at another person's expense may do more damage than you will ever know.
9.  Pay no attention to disparaging remarks.  Remember the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world and things become twisted in the retelling.  Live so that nobody will believe them.
10.  Don't be too eater to get credit due to you.  Do your best, and be patient.  Forget about yourself, and let others "remember"  Success is much sweeter that way.

So, Ann's Golden Rules are geared more towards my children.  Her 10 commandments have my name written all over them.  My new year resolution is to follow more closely her commandments.  Mostly because I think kids today don't have people in their lives who really LIVE by these rules and as a result, we have a society of self indulgent and self absorbed "children".  We have to set the example.  And the example starts with me.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting Anew

2011 has arrived.  And she did so with lots of fan fare.  We partook in a White Elephant/Gaudiest Christmas Party EVAH on NYE that was a hoot! 
Having used the tree skirt idea last year, I decided to go another route, leaving my husband to do his gaudiest best.  We asked our son if he wanted us to stay until his friends got there.  He declined our presence.  I don't understand why:
The nose lit up, the antlers did not.

This year we fully grasped the concept of the White Elephant gift:  I brought 5 D batteries (in their package) with a note tied to it saying "Toy not included", which received MANY laughs.  The husband brought a goldfish.  A real goldfish.  And a bowl.  This was met with horror by the opener of the gift (as they had an hour ride home and feared for the fish's life).  Since I was the last to open my gift, I had the pick of any gift that had not already been stolen once.  I chose to trade for a cuddlee and gingerthin cookies.  The new owner of the unopened gift chose to steal my husband's wooden carved gnome (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) which left my husband with the only unopened gift and he decided to keep it.  It was an over the door hangar holder.  So this year's gifts were winners!

Surprisingly, the time til midnight dragged a bit, and I figured we would be able to leave soon after.  But charades were called for.  We ended up tied, although I happen to KNOW my husband cheated with his "Charlies Angels" clues.  It was 2am before we started wrapping things up and heading home.  A fun night was had by all.

But the New Year would not be complete without beginning it with our standard fare.  We dressed in our Christmas gifts for the occasion:
So, for us, we are planning on making this year even BETTER than last.  Not sure if it's possible but I'm going to give it the ol' college try.