Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Needless to say, since I'm a big fan, I pre-ordered her newest book, "Handle with Care," before it came out, and I was thrilled when it arrived at my house. I was in the middle of reading something at the time and set it aside. I picked it up finally last week, and plowed through it over the last several days. That's how I tend to read Jodi Picoult books - quickly, like I'm devouring a yummy cake.
"Handle with Care" tackles a very hot topic - medical malpractice. In this book, it's addressed in the form of a wrongful birth lawsuit. I don't want to give away the book at all, so I'll leave it at that, but I will say this - it would make a great book club pick because it raises so very many questions. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and will read it again after a while, I'm sure, as I do with most of Jodi Picoult's books. I give "Handle with Care" 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Monday, March 30, 2009
It's another Menu Plan Monday already! How time flies!
Last week turned out a bit funky, as Husband came home from his business trip early, but it sounds like he's staying put for several weeks, so I should be able to stick to the menu just fine.
Monday - Burgers on the grill (we enjoy Bubba Burgers)
Tuesday - Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (a new recipe!)
Wednesday -Fish sticks and onion potatoes
Thursday - Famous Homemade Pizza
Friday - Chicken cutlets
Saturday -Mom's Meatloaf (my mother's recipe, the one I grew up with)
Sunday -Broiled steak and garlic compound butter (a new recipe!)
I'm excited about this week's two new recipes - I love pork chops, and I love steak, so I'm hoping these two recipes will be a success. My last few new recipe attempts have not gone as well, so here's hoping.
So what's on your menu this week? Don't forget to share it with the Org Junkie, who hosts the busiest blog meme I've ever seen with Menu Plan Mondays!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Don't they look yummy??
Super-Duper Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 c soft butter
1/2 c solid, soft Crisco (I use the sticks, they're easier to measure)
3/4 c sugar
1 3/4 packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghiradelli)
1 c milk chocolate chips (Hershey's are nice)
3 squares German Chocolate squares (Baker's is the brand I use), finely chopped
1 c Heath bar pieces (found in the baking aisle)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter and Crisco together at medium speed until creamy. Dump all sugars in and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well with each addition.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, salt in a separate, small bowl. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in various chocolate chips and pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. Finally, add Heath bar pieces and mix well.
4. Drop cookies onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, approx. 2 inches apart. Bake 9-12 minutes (depending on how firm and crunchy you like your cookies). Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to cooling rack to finish cooling.
These cookies are great for picnics and company, but I do recommend not baking the entire recipe at once, unless you plan to consume them very quickly. I usually bake two days' worth at a time, to keep the cookies as fresh as possible. I put the remaining dough in the fridge, and let it come to room temp before baking new sheets.
NOTE: Updated 11/4/09 with printable recipe link
Friday, March 27, 2009
1. Husband coming home early from his business trip
2. Our Toys R Us adventure last weekend as a family, with Baby's first walking around in a store
3. Husband cake - yum!
4. Baby saying "doggie" at My Gym in front of the teacher, who was shocked and awed at how well he said it
5. Finishing another notebook filled with my ramblings, also known as a journal, and starting a new one (I know, I'm a dork)
Here's hoping next week will be full of more memories and moments to be proud of!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Our food was yummy. I wasn't worried about that. Our service on the other hand was absolutely not fine. We were continually ignored by our waitress, as though we weren't even there. She walked by us on numerous, numerous occassions and didn't even acknowledge us. I don't know if it was because of Baby - but she seemed to think he was adorable and funny - but I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, if a restaurant has high chairs, I have every right to bring my kiddo. I don't know that Baby was the problem, but I do know that I was very displeased with the service. It took over 30 minutes just to get our check. Ridiculous. We wound up leaving way later than I wanted to in order to rush home (in rush hour traffic, mind you), so I couldn't take a minute to tell the manager just how awful the service was, but I did get one of those surveys on the bill, so I diligently went online and gave them a piece of my mind. Phew. I hate poor service. It's so irritating, especially now, when eating out isn't an everyday occurence - you want your experience to be a good one, not one you go home and blog about grumpily. Yuck.
This is the cake that you may have seen on the back of the Hershey Cocoa box - they call it Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake. They're not kidding. It is perfect. It's easy to make, moist, very chocolatey, and oh so tasty.
Perfectly Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Perfectly Chocolate frosting. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Perfectly Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.
NOTE: Updated 11/4/09 with printable recipe link
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Type A Mommy's Famous Pan Pizza
Makes two 9-inch pizzas, serves 4-6 people (depending on how hungry you are and what else you serve)
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk, plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 degrees (but NOT hotter!)
2 tsp sugar
2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust the counter with
1 package instant yeast
1/2 tsp table salt
3 cups shredded skim-milk mozzarella cheese
1 1/3 c pizza sauce
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Spray large bowl with cooking spray. Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons oil.
2. Heat up milk. Mix warm milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the warm milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix about 5 minutes, until dough is shiny and smooth. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball, and place in greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 1/2-inch round and lay in oiled pan. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and place in warm spot (not in oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees
4. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce (or as much/little as you like) on each pizza, leaving 1/4 - 1/2-inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into 8 wedges. Serve.
NOTE: If you don't have a stand mixer, in step 2, mix the flour, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then pour the milk mixture into the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough becomes shaggy and difficult to stir. Turn out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead, incorporating any shaggy scraps. Knead until the dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and follow the rest of the recipe.
NOTE: Updated 11/4/09 with printer-friendly recipe link!
Monday, March 23, 2009
It's that time again, Menu Plan Monday!
Husband is out of town for the first few days of the week, so the menu isn't the most exciting. I did pretty good last week sticking to the menu, only veering off once, but not ordering take-out, like I was so infamous for doing in the past. I just dug out some frozen pizza when I wasn't in the mood for what was on the menu that day.
Here's the schedule for this week:
Monday: Homemade pizza and homemade garlic knots (a new recipe!)
Tuesday: Eggs and bacon and English muffins
Wednesday: Pancakes (with powdered buttermilk for the first time - stay tuned!)
Thursday: Our 3rd wedding anniversary - either broiled steaks with compound butter or Maggiano's take-out (as is becoming our tradition, since I don't like to leave Baby)
Saturday: Pork Lo Mein (a new recipe)
Sunday: Shrimp Stir Fry
Sunday, March 22, 2009
With no further adieu, here's this week's top five moments:
1. The St. Patrick's Day-After pizza picnic with Mothers and More
2. Baby's new obsession with his Baby Einstein iPod
3. Walking around the neighborhood with Baby's new-to-him Step 2 Push Around Buggy
4. Husband coming home Friday night - poor guy didn't even stop for dinner, he just drove straight home (and got home around 9 o'clock, starving)
5. Lunch with family at Steak n Shake on Sunday - where Baby had his first mac and cheese!
I assumed (this is why assuming is wrong) that this recipe called for the same size pan as my mom's recipe does. It doesn't. My pan is smaller. Naturally, that means the cake is not done. Boo.
Yum, I smell chocolate melting in my house. Isn't that one of the best smells? That and a chicken roasting in the oven. Yum. Stay tuned, as soon as the cake's in the oven, I will post the recipe I am using today (which is not my mom's recipe). I'm just waiting for my stupid oven to get to 350.
Here's a quick shot of the pound cake before it went into the oven. It wasn't super pretty when it came out, so naturally, I forgot to take a picture of it then. Husband has taken it on his trip this week with him, and he really enjoyed it with some fresh Florida strawberries on top and some Redi Whip.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Kind of belated post, I know - but it is still Thursday, though not by much.
What do I love this week? Internet TV. Hulu.com, Vh1.com, the whole nine yards. Husband and I cut the cord with the cable recently, and are surviving with a high-tech antenna attached to the house (don't get me started on the whole antenna business) and over-the-air digital TV signals. The few shows that we can't tune in with the TV we can mostly catch online, with the exception of one of my favorite guilty-pleasure reality shows - "The Bad Girls Club."
Not only are we saving money because of this, but we get to skip most of the commercials altogether with Internet TV. So far the only drag is that sometimes you see the same commercial 15 times. Yesterday, I watched "The Real World" online, and saw a preview for "I Love You, Man" at every commercial break. There were five of them, so I saw the trailer five times. I may never see this movie as a result. There's also a Honda Civic commercial that drives me crazy that seems to be making the rounds on both Vh1.com and Hulu.com. I have to say, though, seeing the same commercial repeatedly really isn't a huge deal in comparison to the money we're saving, so I'll bite the bullet for now.
This was really an experiment for me and Husband, but I'd have to say it's going well thus far. We've cut down on our TV watching now that we have Baby, which is a good thing. We don't watch TV until after he goes to bed, or after he's down for a nap. It's not that I think TV is the devil or anything, but I'd rather Baby be playing than watching TV, if I can avoid it. Anyway, I think this might be an experiment that turns out to be pretty darn worthwhile. And heck, I'm kind of enjoying the freedom of Internet TV watching - it's kind of like getting one over on the cable company, which is kind of fun. Give it a try - see what the over-the-air signals in your neighborhood are like. Tampa is notoriously bad for over-the-air signals, hence all the antenna drama I alluded to earlier, but from what I've read online, in most cities, it's a totally do-able thing. Good luck!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Woo hoo, it's Menu Plan Monday for Monday, March 16th! Husband's out of town for the week, so the meals aren't exactly exciting for the week, but hopefully I'll be able to stick to it. I am, historically, not very good at keeping to my menus when Husband is out of town.
On the menu this week, we've got:
Monday - Spaghetti and garlic bread
Tuesday - Fish sticks and fries
Wednesday - Scrambled eggs and bacon
Thursday - Beef teriyaki and fluffy white rice
Friday - Homemade pan pizza and garlic bread
Saturday - Glazed pork chops and mashed potatoes
Sunday - Meatloaf and baked potatoes
Zero new recipes this week :(
I had a bad batting average this last week with new recipes. I made a Stir Fry Chicken recipe with Hoisin-Sesame sauce that tasted awful, I made a new french toast recipe for breakfast that not only took way longer than I thought it should have, but did not come out anywhere near as awesome as I thought it should have, so I'm taking the week off of new stuff. Next week, I'll try to tackle a new recipe or two.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Here's the link: Click here
** stepping off of soap box now **
Friday, March 13, 2009
1. Baby attempting to topple the fort at My Gym, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it
2. My Mothers and More mixer this week
3. Finding a cool book on writing at the library
4. Finding a new kids consignment shop and some pretty good stuff in it
5. Baby figuring out that Mommy's feet are awfully ticklish
It hasn't been an awesome week, I certainly haven't felt great, but there have been some bright moments here and there. One of those moments certainly wasn't "American Idol." (Y1ikes, two hours of performances? It was just a bit much.)
Anyway, we're not having a good moment right now, so it's time to go before Baby has a meltdown (he's a bit stumped by his Fridge Farm).
Thursday, March 12, 2009
We had a great day at a kids' consignment store today that we hadn't been to before. Baby Bottoms Consignment. They not only had a huge selection of clothes (which we weren't in the market for), but they had an impressive selection of children's toys, even toddler toys, which are hard to come by, it seems. We made out like bandits today, and got three toys that Baby really seems to dig, thus far:
Playskool Dusty the Talking Vacuum - retails on Amazon for $19.97, I paid $7.99
Infantino Jumbo Shape Sorter - retails on Amazon for $16.99, I paid $5.99
Leap Frog Fridge Farm - retails on Amazon for $15.99, I paid $7.99
So, all in all, I saved at least $31! Wow!
Now, you have to be patient with kids consignment shops. Sometimes I find nothing. Then, there are days like today that make up for the nothing days. They are definitely worth the time and effort, because you can get some serious steals, and not just on toys and clothes. Lots of consignment stores also carry baby gear, like bassinets, carseats, strollers, and the like.
**Update: In case you happen to live in Tampa, Baby Bottoms is on Ehrlich Rd, just west of Veterans Expressway.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Today, Baby was in a funk this afternoon after we ran some errands, so we turned on some music. Everything seems better when there's music. I plugged in my iPod, turned it to random, and George Michael's "Faith" came on. Baby absolutely loved it. We danced, we sang, and he loved every minute of it! He normally loves music a good bit, but this was a whole new level of adoration. He was laughing half the time, and grinning the whole time. He even seemed to be bopping a little bit. It was the cutest thing I've seen in a while. At least now I know he appreciates the 80's.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I must also say, though, that I am sick (thank you Baby), so perhaps I can blame this little incident on my foggy brain. Yikes.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
It's that time again, Menu Plan Monday for the week of March 9th!
Monday - Chicken Stir Fry with Hoisin-Sesame Sauce (a new recipe)
Tuesday - Waffles
Wednesday - Beef Teriyaki
Thursday - Homemade pan pizza
Friday - Grilled tilapia
Saturday - Apple pork tenderloin (a new recipe)
Sunday - Chicken cutlets and spaghetti
Two new recipes this week - that's pretty good. Stay tuned to hear how they go!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I do not like when Baby is sick. It is not fun. Not for him, not for me. He's so irritable when he doesn't feel good. He's like Dictator Baby. I take him away from something he's doing to wipe his incredibly runny nose and he gets very upset with me. Screams his head off...it's just not pretty. I can't wait until he starts feeling better. Significantly better. I think he's doing somewhat better than he was earlier this week, but he's still a bit of a mess. Still lots of snot dripping from his nose. Still coughing in the middle of the night. But no fever, so that's good. Here's hoping that we're on the downward swing of this cold!
It's Things I Love Thursday again! Baby has been sick all week, so today's thing I love is totally relating to that lovely experience. What do I love today? Baby cloth diapers!!
Baby cloth diapers are probably one of the most handy things I have purchased in terms of baby care. My sister-in-law recommended them, and I thought she was crazy...until Baby came. They were totally handy when it came to spit-up, drool, runny noses, pretty much anything dripping out of Baby in any way, shape, or form was totally mopped up by these cloth diapers. Super handy! And way cheaper than the cute printed burp cloths I saw at Babies R Us and even Target. Okay, so they aren't cute, but they are totally white so you can bleach them when they get dirty, unlike the cute ones. Sometimes handy trumps cute. Not always, but in this case, definitely! Here's a big thumbs up to cloth diapers for uses other than diapering. :)
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Obviously, you've also figured out that I'm a writer. I love to write, have since I was a kid. I've got notebooks full of crazy stories and poems that I've written over the years, and now that I am blessed enough to stay home with Baby all day, I've decided that I need to start trying to make some money by writing. This blog is one of those ways. Not only do I get to share my crazy thoughts, but hopefully it will bring in a few bucks as I work to grow by blog. But, I also want to work on longer pieces of writing. Short stories, novellas, and maybe even novels. For whatever reason, I've decided I need a place for all this writing. Fortunately, we are a computer heavy family. Right now, we have two laptops (one for Husband and one for me), a computer in the living room (which now acts as our DVR), and a computer in our office that collects dust. It's my old computer, and I've decided it's time to revive it. It may need a little work - some RAM, a new install of Windows, that kind of thing, but it will be worth it. Husband bought a big (okay, big-ish - it's 32 inches, I think) LCD TV for the office a while back, so I can use that as a super big monitor, and sit on the couch in there to write. All I have to do now is put together a list of what has to happen in order for me to start doing this.
So here's what needs to happen:
1. Hook up old computer to LCD monitor.
2. Turn on old computer - does it start up? Does it need some RAM? What version of Windows is on it? Do we have another one I could put on it? Make sure it has a decent version of Word.
3. Find/purchase either a wicked long extension cord for the keyboard or a wireless keyboard. Must also find a wireless mouse.
4. Set a schedule - when do I write in there? I need to make sure, at the very least, to set an attainable goal so it becomes part of my usual routine.
5. Start using my new writing space!
UPDATE: Number one is complete! And number two is started...the computer does indeed start up!
Well, it's that time again - Menu Plan Monday for the week of March 2nd.
Sorry I've been MIA this last week, it's been a crazy around here between Baby getting sick (eek!), dealing with the mess that was my house after our company left and the birthday party was over, and feeling a little blue for some mysterious reason. But I'm back!
Husband is traveling Monday and Tuesday, so Baby and I will be on our own for dinner, but the rest of the week should be pretty normal.
Monday - Spaghetti with tomato sauce and garlic bread
Tuesday - Honey Dijon chicken sandwich with sweet potato home fries (an experiment - I'll let you know if it's good and share the recipe)
Wednesday - Meatloaf and baked potatoes
Thursday - French Toast
Friday - Burgers and fries
Saturday - French chicken in a pot (another new recipe!)
Sunday - Pork tenderloin (another new recipe!)
Wow, three new recipes in one week? Eek! I'm still deciding what to do with the pork tenderloin, but I'm leaning toward an apple cider marinade I found. The French chicken in a pot is an America's Test Kitchen recipe that sounds absolutely awesome. Stay tuned!