Thursday, May 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal

This was my first month to do the "Foodie Pen Pal" swap. It's hosted by Lindsey at The Lean Green Bean. She coordinates 600+ bloggers from the US and Canada to do this swap. That is mind-blowing. Each month you get assigned someone and you send them a care package of goodies ($15 worth) and then someone else gets your name and sends you a package. You also have to write a note to go along with the box. Then everyone posts on the last day of the month so you can see what people got. Pretty exciting stuff.

I received a super nice package from Teresa at A Game of Balance. Go ahead and click the link...I'll wait while you check out her blog. She has started eating healthier and running three times a week (gasp...exercise). So she sent me a selection of foods that she has been eating plus a couple that aren't totally on the good list.

Don't those look tasty? Here's some closeups.

No one in my family had ever had organic apple chips and they are delicious. Dan said that they tasted better than a real apple. I'm sure the organic thing plays a part plus we don't get the best apples here in Oklahoma. The pretzel crisps are cool. I had never thought of a flat pretzel but they certainly pack a huge punch. And that flavored. I know, who would have thought that? I have been seeing a lot of people posting popcorn recipes on their blogs but haven't seen anyone with beer popcorn. It was so tasty I ate the whole thing by myself. It tasted more like cheese and then there was a slight beer aftertaste.

Cereal bars are my go to snack at work. And that cookie is pumpkin spice and vegan. I know I haven't had anything vegan before so always curious how they made cookies without eggs. You can't go wrong with pumpkin spices. In fact I wish those flavors were used year round since cinnamin and nutmeg are two of my favorites. The cookie was crumbly more so than a normal cookie. It was quite flavorful. The pumpkin seeds will be tasty on a baseball evening.

Linking up with all the other tasty morsels sent in the mail this month.
The Lean Green Bean

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whitney being home means one thing, some baking is going to happen. I can't believe she made it three weeks without doing it but she made up for it with this recipe. I like to bake but don't do too many desserts because I don't need that stuff in the house just taunting me. But Whitney has no qualms about making decadent dessert. She had a work meeting today to take them to.

She found this recipe at PickyPalate and made them all by herself. When I read it I thought boy are those going to be big cookies. And they were HUGE. I actually didn't eat one but the taste tester said delicious.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 bag Oreo Cookies, I used the double stuff :)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined.  Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.
2.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough.  Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  Serve with a tall glass of milk, enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE Cookies :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mission Accomplished

We have finally put away all of Whitney's school things in either a closet, attic or drawer. The college comforter is washed thanks to a new laundry that opened up near the house. The last bit of giveaway stuff has been categorized, boxed and ready to be delivered. I almost have a clean dining room which has been the storage room of choice (not ideal for eating). I have my neice's graduation card ready to mail. It isn't until June 9 which just seems so late to me. We will have been out of school two weeks here before that. I cooked up a bunch of ground beef so we can make quick dinners this week and put some in the freezer so Whitney can make tacos while we are gone. Had some yummy cheddar brats yesterday (clearances at store because of end date) and am now making defiled eggs to have with hot dogs today. Yesterday we had corn on the cob and reminded me how much I miss good summer corn. I remember when I was little stopping at the farm trucks and getting a dozen for one dollar. It was the best corn. Went shopping at kohls and between a 10 dollar coupon and 15% off I got a Columbia fleece jacket for 2 bucks. Perfect for the cruise and can't beat the price. Whitney got a great raincoat for 20 and I'm going to borrow it. I can return the one I bought months ago since I'll never wear it again I'm sure. There is a reason I don't cut tags off anything. The dog still needs a bath and I'm going to be writing out all the trip stuff this afternoon. I'd say this was a productive weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fragments - Guess What I Saw?

Mommy's Idea
Friday before Memorial Day which people claim is the kickoff to summer. Somebody needs to look at a calendar because summer doesn't start until June 20. So here's my fragments to start a three day weekend (that is much more accurate).

On my drive to work I saw something I've never seen before. I pass a fire house near work and there was a fireman watering the front yard. With a FIREHOSE! Huge sprays of water were going in the air and if I didn't know the area I would have sworn they had a huge fountain. Probably a good thing he didn't try and hook that up to a sprinkler.

Yesterday there was a lone duck sitting under a tree in my neighborhood. About 10 minutes later he had crossed the street to go under a different tree. Guess he needed a change of scenery.

Did you hear about a bunch of cows that broke up an underage drinking party? The kids scattered and the cows started to drink the spilled beer. I don't think I want to see a drunk cow.

No stupid criminals this week. I'm sure there were out there but I didn't get to hear about them because the reporter was on vacation this week. Next week they shall return.

I've got a bunch of different groupons for local restaurants that I really need to start using. Guess we'll be eating out some over the next few weeks. That should save the grocery bill and mean no cooking for me.

This weekend I really have to start getting my lists together for the trip. Now I'm obsessed with looking at all the different bridge cams for the ships in Alaska so I can see the weather at all the different stops. Probably a good thing we leave in 25 days so I can stop this. I got a packing list from someone who's gone to Alaska several times so I have a base to use. I'm also going to start working on my list with driving directions to all the places we are staying in Alaska and also if they have breakfast or not. We will be hitting a grocery store soon after landing there so we can have sandwich stuff so we aren't eating out every meal.

I've lost the couple of pounds I had gained over the last few months so I'm back to wear my clothes feel good. After a week on the cruise and a week on vacation I'm hoping I can say the same thing.

I just found out today is National Wine Day! Good thing it is early and I have time to celebrate.

I leave you with a salute to the reason we get a three-day weekend. The sacrifice of our service men and women. Remember without them we wouldn't be free.

Image from

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hodgepodge - Flashback 80's Style

Time for some hodgepodge questions.

1. What's something you miss about the 1980's? If you're too young to miss the 80's how about the 90's?
Ah the lovely 80's. I graduated both high school and college during that time plus got married and lost my father. An eventful decade. I was always humored when Whitney would have decade day at school and she would ask me what to wear for the 80's. I wasn't exactly a fashion plate back then nor now. So what do I miss? Can't say anything.

2. Do you have a library card? If so, how often do you visit?
I do have a library card although the exact location is unknown. Our library has the handy little ones you clip onto your keychains so I do have that one. I hardly ever physically go to the library but have recently been downloading books from there. Dan uses my card plus his card though to check out books and movies all the time. He even has the 16 digit id numbers memorized.

3. What's the secret to success?
Well if its a secret I can't tell you. HAHA. I think it is different for everyone and for different things.

4. This is National Backyard Games week...what's your favorite backyard game?
I'm not a backyard or frontyard person. In fact, I'm not much of an outside person. 

5. If I dropped by today what would I find on your coffee table?
I haven't owned a coffee table since 1994 so that would be nothing. It would be just one more piece of furniture I would have to decorate and since I can't handle the pieces I have now, that would just be torture. It would probably end up having lots of crap all over it.

6. Do you own a bicycle? When was the last time you rode a bicycle? Is that something you enjoy?
I don't own a bicycle and I don't want one. I couldn't tell you the last time I rode one. I'm sure I remember how I just choose not to. Once again an outside activity (see number 4 above).

7. What's your favorite cheese?
I love cheese. Provolone is on the top of the list right now because it is great on sandwiches. But gouda, mozzarella, fontina, muenster are all awesome. I don't think I like blue cheese but it has been years since I tasted it and I might like it now. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Whitney cooked dinner last night totally by herself. She picked the recipe and she had to shred chicken after it was cooked. It turned out super tasty. Next week she starts work so won't be home in time to cook dinners so I need to get a couple more out of her before then. Make sure she has skills so she won't starve to death.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is it Friday Yet?

Taking a short break from work to wonder if it is Friday yet? I'm in week five of non-stop action at work. And now my assistant is out the rest of the week on a family emergency so I'm doing her job. Which of course this week means some super-urgent paperwork that she's supposed to enter and then I approve. So I'm entering as her and then approving as me. SSSHHHH, don't tell anyone.

So I leave you with a picture to make you smile. Who can resist a cute puppy sleeping?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Potato Salad

Warmer weather means one thing...eating food that isn't baked. So of course we made hamburgers this weekend. Not grilled them but on the George Foreman grill and stuffed with velveeta. Our version of a Juicy Lucy. We saw this on an episode of Man vs. Food and continue to try and make it at home. And along with the burgers, Whitney wanted potato salad. She decided during the school year that she liked red potatoes with the skins on. Thank goodness to expand her horizons instead of just russets. Dan has always liked potato salad made with red potatoes so every body was happy.

This was the first time that I did everything for the salad. Normally I'm the egg cooker and then Dan handles the potatoes and sauce. But he was busy putting the new lawn mower together and mowing the yard before it rained so I took over. It turned out perfect. We used to make it with diced onions but a friend didn't like it but loved the salad. Now we've made it so much without the onions I don't ever want to add them back in.

Potato Salad - An Original Recipe

2# red potatoes steamed
4 hard boiled eggs
1 1/4 cups mayonaise
1/3 cup dill relish 2 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. sugar

Make sure your potatoes have cooled before trying to cut them or they will fall apart. (lesson learned on first potato) Mix the sauce ingredients separately and slowly add it in while you are cutting the potatoes. That helps spread the sauce around evenly. Refrigerate for several hours before serving so the flavors can meld together.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fragments - Vacation/TV/Anything Else?

Friday Fragment time.

I read an article today about how Americans don't take all their vacation time. Especially when compared to European workers. Did you know that vacation days are MANDATED in Europe? Can you imagine someone telling a company you have to let someone have 28 days of vacation? That's what it is in England. Americans look at that and laugh. How many of us take all of our vacation time? I know I don't. I've got so much built up that it is ridiculous. But we all either feel guilty for taking it or we don't have money to take a vacation or we feel like the pile up of work isn't worth the time off. I'm going to try and do my best this year to take time off. Starting in a little over 4 weeks I'll be off work for 2+ weeks. Crossing my fingers that I'll do my part to get America in line with European vacations!

TV seasons are coming to an end. Two of my new dramas got renewed (Revenge and Person of Interest) and two were not renewed (Alcatraz and Prime Suspect). Revenge ends next week and I tell you if you haven't watched it, do yourself a favor and catch up over the summer. It is getting moved to Sunday when Desperate Housewives aired so that should tell you its a soap opera deluxe.

Whitney had surgery yesterday (number 5) on her tear duct. We really hope that this is the one to work.  She did really well and even went to a picnic today for her old high school physics group.

I was also told that I needed to blog by Whitney. Always good to have the child insist you blog so she can read it. Guess that means I'm not too embarassing in what I write.

I just heard a radio commercial for the "real Penn State University." Is there a fake Penn State University?

We finally bought a new lawn mower. It is still in the box in the back of Dan's car but it is bought. And I planted roses by the mailbox. Let's see how long it takes for me to kill them.

Mommy's Idea

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Salsa Chicken

Since the weather hasn't become oppressive here, I decided we'd better bake dinner one more time before we just can't. I wanted to use chicken breasts because we are trying to eat healthier and we have picky eater back at home. So I went on and just searched for most popular chicken recipes and this came up almost immediately (2,000+ reviews). It only had 4 ingredients (5 if you add optional to the picture). Super easy so we went for it. It turned out really tasty. The chicken stayed moist (always a concern when baking) and it wasn't too spicy for Whitney. This is a keeper recipe.

We put the chicken in a big ziploc bag with the taco seasoning so it would spread evenly. Some of the comments said it made it too spicy. All I can say is those people must only eat bland food. If Whitney didn't say it was spicy, it's not spicy people.

Salsa Chicken (courtesy of
The picture doesn't do it justice

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 4 teaspoons taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
  2. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle taco seasoning on both sides of chicken breasts, and pour salsa over all.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender and juicy and its juices run clear.
  4. Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese, and continue baking for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with sour cream if desired, and serve.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

For Mother's Day I asked for Whitney to cook me a meal. I figured I would use her labor and get her to learn how to cook another meal before we leave her to fend for herself for two weeks while we go on vacation. (Don't worry I'll leave plenty of food). After the Crazy Cooking Challenge a couple of months ago for spaghetti with red sauce, I really wanted to try a baked spaghetti. I had never had it so figured this would be a good thing for her to make because there would be lots of leftovers we could freeze. I chose the recipe from What's Cooking Love? and Whitney (along with Dan's help) followed it pretty close.

Baked Spaghetti
(Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken and Life as a Lofthouse)

12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (can use regular spaghetti)
1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb ground turkey (can substitute ground beef)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a skillet, brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon of both the garlic powder and Italian seasoning to the meat.  Cook the meat until it is cooked through.  Drain the fat and stir in the spaghetti sauce.  Then remove from heat and set aside. 

3.  Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of water according to the package directions.  Drain the water and place the hot spaghetti in a large bowl.  Add the cream cheese and 1 teaspoon of both the garlic powder and Italian Seasoning to the spaghetti.  Stir until the cream cheese has melted and the spaghetti is covered. 

4.  Spread a small amount of the meat and sauce mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 greased baking dish. Pour the spaghetti over the sauce and spread out evenly.  Pour the rest of the meat and sauce mixture on top of the spaghetti, then sprinkle both cheeses on top. 

5.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Of course they added more cheese to the top because we love cheese. And we didn't have Italian seasoning so they used a mixture of dried basil and oregano. This turned out really moist. The cream cheese kept the noodles soft. You couldn't even tell it was whole wheat pasta (not that I know what it tastes like normally since this was the first time we used it.) Turns out we have enough for 12 servings of spaghetti. So that means we froze 6 servings. Did very nice little individual ones so she can just pull one out and microwave it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Fragments

I haven't been blogging very much lately so I'll take this opportunity to pour it all out for Friday Fragments.

Whitney has been home a week. We seem to be getting into a rhythm having her back in the house. She's even done a little bit of the cooking. I'm trying to get her to work up to full meals so she can fend for herself while we are on vacation next month and she is home.

The house still looks like a mess. We put a bunch of stuff in the attic but still have to figure out what to do with some piles of her stuff. Her new dorm room will have a different size bed so I have to figure out what to do with all her old bedding. The good news is I cleaned out my linen closet so I could put her sheets in there and it is much neater.

Today is National Eat What You Want Day. Don't I do that every day?

Stupid criminal of the day goes to an 18 year old near Houston who decided to walk into a building and rob it. Unfortunately for him, he decided to walk into a police station and try and rob the dispatcher. He currently is on jail waiting on $300,000 bail.

Yesterday I waited over an hour in the waiting room for my doctor. I expected a wait but not quite that long. So when I had my blood pressure reading it was high. I said its because of the wait because on Monday it was fine. Just something about going to that doctor makes it rise.

My tennis elbow is getting better however the doctor wants me to use the mouse on my left hand. Do you know how hard that is? And she says I need to train someone else to do my job and take more vacation time. I can train some things but others it is impossible to do. I do have a plan when I'm on vacation for two weeks though. I'm having my assistant screen things that other people think are important and if she thinks they are, she will text me to say she is sending me an urgent email. I'm not checking email unless it comes from her marked that way. I'm hoping that she won't have to contact me at all. Of course it will take me a week to catch up from everything but the two weeks off will be worth it.

Speaking of vacations I leave in 39 days! I check on the cruise site every day for the countdown. I'm really getting obsessive about this...but in a good way. Alaska here we come!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Joining up with today's questions "From This Side of the Pond"

1. What is a pet peeve you have when vacationing?
Rude people who cut in lines because they think their vacation is more important than my vacation. I don't think so people.

2. Would you describe yourself as a light packer or do you need everything in your closet plus the kitchen sink?
I become lighter each time I pack. This summer's trip is going to be interesting since its two weeks and we have to take a lot of warmer clothes. Plus add in flying and making sure we don't go over weight requirements for the plane and I really only want to check two bags because it is too darn expensive to pay for a third.

3. What's the best lesson a child ever taught you?

4. Share one piece of advice you'd give a recent graduate as they attempt to enter the job market?
Don't expect to get a high-paying job right away. Your parents worked a long time to get to where they are to live comfortably but we were poor out of college too.

5. What's your favorite lemon something?
I'm allergic to citric acid so I can't eat lemons anymore. I used to love homemade lemon bars though.

6. Flat sandal, wedge, heel...your favorite footwear?
Sandals but not flip flops.

7. What do you like best about a beach holiday? If you're not a beach lover (GASP!!) what do you dislike the least?
Hate to say this, but I'm not a beach lover. Its too hot and humid for me. But I guess the best thing would be hopefully good seafood since you were near a big stretch of water.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I cannot believe how busy I am at work. I'm supposed to be keeping track of what I'm doing each day to get my job reclassified and I don't even have time for that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Grilled Provolone/Parmesan Panini - Crazy Cooking Challenge


This month's CCC is Grill Cheese. Who doesn't love grilled cheese? I thought how many people actually blog about making a grilled cheese sandwich however. To me nothing beats a couple of slices of velveeta on some buttered bread that I cook on the stove. Yummy good meltiness. But that sort of defeats this whole purpose of finding a recipe on the same topic as about 100 other bloggers and making it. So I had to think...what kind of grill cheese recipes could I find. After much thought it came to me...PANINI. We love paninis, having our first one in Paris many years ago. There was just something comforting in being in a foreign country and having a taste of home...well at least familiar flavors if in a somewhat different package. So I went on a quest for recipes for paninis that have cheese in them. The only requirements this month: bread, cheese and hot.

It was a struggle initially to find recipes. Seems like I haven't quite figured out how to search multiple blog sites at the same time but I do know have an infinite number of blog sites. So this is just time consuming. I found several I liked and I knew that this would be one that Dan could get into. I gave him several choices and we are actually making a couple of them. Normally when we make paninis at home we just use good sourdough bread slices with deli meat and cheese.

The recipe I chose was from Jennifer at Mother Thyme and her Parmesan Grilled Cheese Panini with Basil Pesto Dipping Sauce. While researching, this was the first recipe I found. It actually was the one I wanted to make most but we made another one first (which was tasty). I ended up making this for a night when I was eating by myself and I'm so glad I did.  Jennifer said it was the best grilled cheese she ever had and I have to agree. It was PERFECT! This recipe made me say "This is what I've been waiting for in the CCC!"

I only made one small change and I can't wait to make it again. This will definitely be my go-to grilled cheese sandwich.

Butter spray (like Olivio or if you prefer spread bread lightly with regular butter or brush with extra virgin olive oil)
4 slices fresh bakery Italian bread
4 slices provolone cheese (or if you prefer mozzarella or cheddar)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Basil pesto

Spray non-stick cooking spray on panini maker or non-stick skillet and preheat over medium heat. 

Lay out bread slices on a large platter, cutting board or plate.  Spray, butter or brush each side of the bread.   Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of salt and pepper on each slice.  Place two slices of cheese and place on one slice of prepared bread.  Top with remaining slice.  

Place on preheated panini or skillet and cook until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.  

Sprinkle top with a little more Parmesan cheese.  Serve warm with a side of basil pesto.

The only change I made was I used sourdough bread instead of Italian (because its all I had). It only took a couple minutes to cook because the cheese melts so fast. The cheese got gooey without being messy. I had basil pesto already made so I didn't make her recipe. You could eat the sandwich either with or without the pesto. I think I'm drooling as I type this it was so good.

Check out fellow bloggers recipes:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Friday Fragments

Time to link up with Mrs. 4444 and wind the week out with fragments. Picking Whitney up at are school today. Taking boxes up and she has the suitcases packed. I think she is ready to come home. I get a vacation day to pick her up. I definitely need it. The last two weeks have been hectic and I don't see it stopping until mid-June. Then I'll really needmy BIG vacation. The weather here is HOT. Enough said about that. I'm trying to get my job reclassified. The good news is my boss is doing every thing he can to get it done. The bad news is I have to expand on what I mean by "administer day-to-day operations". That means I do all the stuff that no one wants to do and tell people what to do. Now I get to write down everything I do for the next two weeks and try and remember what I did over the last two weeks. I guess if it gets me the new title I shouldn't complain. The Thunder is on a roll. Thunder up! (You'll get this if you are a nba fan) One of the wine tastings this week had tequila. I didn't go but they had two flavored tequila. Mango and Caramel. Sounds disgusting to me. Flavored rum and vodka I understand. You can mix those with many things. What do you ,I'd tequila with? Margarita mix. I don't want a caramel margarita. Have a great weekend. Mommy's Idea

Summer Wardrobe

I just read an article about what you MUST pack for a summer vacation. Truly this list makes no sense to me.

1. A pair of white jeans. I hate wearing jeans in the summer. It is way too hot. Maybe a pair of capris but not jeans.

2. A little black dress. Where is this person going on vacation? I know my usual vacations have no need for a little black dress. Of course most of my life doesn't require one either.

3. A maxi dress. You will never catch me in one of those. They never seem to look good on short people.

4. A scarf. The article states you can use to cover your arms or wrap it around like a sarong around your bathing suit. None of my scarves could do that and I don't think I would want to use it as a scarf again if I did that.

5. Flat metallic sandals. I might get this except I never find sandals that fit right. Everything has that stupid thong thing in them and I hate that. I am severely limited in choices.

6. A pair of shorts. Thank you. Finally something I can do. Of course they say in black or neutral color so you can dress them up or be casual. I don't have those.

I guess I'll be less than fashionable on my vacation. But since I am less than fashionable in life I won't take offense.