Friday, March 30, 2012

Food Friday

I'm gonna make this short and sweet (that's totally a pun, you'll get it in a second) because I'm up to my eyebrows in cupcakes and frosting this week. Literally. I was seriously on my way out the door to take Dakota and Blade to a 4H Training thing when GI Joe gently stopped me by saying, "Babe, you may want to go check a mirror before you go, because you have frosting on your eyebrow, oh and there's some more on your forehead."

Phew, that was a close one. The point is that the Suck It Up Cupcakes biz is booming right now, complete with the 7 DOZEN I have to bake tonight. 7 DOZEN, that's like, 84 cupcakes! So while I'd love to tell you about hornless Holy and the peacock lost and found and our trip to Minneapolis over Spring Break, those stories will have to wait until next week. But I didn't want to let a Friday go by without posting a fabulous food find for you and also to see how many words that start with f I could use in a row in a sentence. (Four, in case you're wondering.)

Today's featured recipe is Reese's Krispies.

My longtime friend and one time housemate posted on Facebook the other day that she had made these and I'm not speaking to her anymore because these Krispies...ARE OF THE DEVIL. I cannot stop eating them and it's all her fault for posting such things on FB, I mean, THE NERVE. :)

So here's the recipe adapted Prairie Princess style, that my friend got off of Pinterest, another OF THE DEVIL thing because what we all need is one more internet addiction. I tease, kinda, except I'm totally addicted to Pinterest but I really limit myself to how much I get on because I cannot be trusted to not spend an entire evening on there "pinning" recipes I needn't make (I'm looking at you Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Devil's Food Cake Cheesecake) and crafts that will never turn out as cute and easy as they did on Pinterest. But these Krispies are a different story, well, they fall into the "really shouldn't make" category but if they're wrong I don't wanna be right.  So be wrong with me, ok?

Reese's Krispies
Adapted from

1 c. sugar
1 c. corn syrup (tip:  when measuring corn syrup, spray your measuring cup with nonstick spray first, then the corn syrup will slide right out)
1 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
4 ¼ c. Rice Krispies
1 pinch of salt
8 Reese's eggs (from the bag) chopped (the original recipe calls for 4 Reese's cups but I had eggs on hand and I don't believe there is such a thing as too many Reese's in a recipe so I added more)
1 handful chocolate chips

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together the sugar, corn syrup, and peanut butter until smooth and combined.
Remove from heat. Turn off your stove and whatever you do, don't set a glass casserole dish down on the still hot burner while you finish the Krispies.
Add cereal and salt to a large bowl, pour melted sugar/pb mix over it and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips and keep stirring. Wait about a minute so it cools down (or be impatient like me and end up with melted Reese's it makes no difference it still tastes good) and add the Reese's. Fold candy into the Krispies mixture but not so much as to smash the candy, although if you were impatient like me and added the Reese's in while the mixture was still warm you don't have to worry about that because they're not only smashed but basically melted.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper or just spray it w/ nonstick spray and drop rounded tablespoons of the chocolate/peanut butter goodness onto the sheet. Very important note: Read the recipe completely BEFORE you empty the entire mixture into a pan and spread it out like you would normal Rice Krispies because these are meant to be in cookie form NOT bar form. And then when you read the rest of the recipe, AFTER you've already done that, hurry and take them out of the pan and make them into cookie shapes. And now you've just wasted 3 minutes of your life that you could've spent hugging your llama. So don't be like me is what I'm trying to say here.

Let cool (as if) and then watch as your kids devour fistfuls of these cookies until you finally have to tell them they can't have any more because MAMA WANTS SOME! These Reese's Krispies are so naughty by nature not cuz I hate ya but nice, really nice. Try them, you're worth it. Just don't be mad at me next week when your jeans are snug. I can sympathize.

Happy Friday!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Food Friday

I got my early edition signed copy of Pioneer Woman's new cookbook the other day except I had to order it on Amazon on the release date and she must've forgotten to write a personal message in it, weird. Here's my official PW Cookbook review: I enjoy and can relate to her writing style and her goofiness even when introducing recipes. I love all the photos because let's face it, that's what I look for first and foremost in a cookbook. I like pretty pictures and I like to see what it's supposed to look like at the end. That way I can compare and gloat when my finished product of the recipe looks prettier. Not that I would ever do that, I'm just sayin' it's nice to have the opportunity. ;) There are A LOT of recipes which is also something I look for in a cookbook, obviously. BUT, I was slightly disappointed to see that many of the recipes included in the cookbook are recipes that are on her site and have been for years, in fact many of them I've already made. That kind of bummed me out but the new ones were appealing enough to me that I've decided against bogging down her site with hate mail. Lucky for her, just ask Carhartt. Overall review: 3 Stars but really you could save yourself the $15 and go back through the recipes on her website but it's nice to have them in a lovely cookbook.

In honor of Pioneer Woman's new cookbook release, today's Food Friday is going to feature a couple of Pioneer Woman recipes that I make over and over and OVER. I bring you only the best.

Let's start with dessert first, shall we?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

My love of Reese's eggs is well documented so when PW featured this pie on her website a few years ago, it spoke to me. And I made it. And I loved it and so did everyone that I've served it to in the nearly 3 years I've been making it. It's become a mainstay at our holiday meals and family dinners and even the occasional Baptist potluck and I don't take just anything to a Baptist potluck so that's saying something.

Confession: I usually don't make my own Oreo crust as the recipe instructs. I've always been a rulebreaker and Oreo makes a perfectly good already made pie crust so I just buy that and skip that step. I've made it both ways and honestly, you cannot tell the difference so why bother? Let's get to the good stuff...the filling. The part of the recipe to make the pie filling, I follow exactly. Although, I don't know if the recipe tells you to make sure you don't put all of the pie filling into the pie crust so that you can eat the leftover out of the bowl with a spoon, but that's a crucial step. Quality control you understand. This pie is peanut butter chocolate perfection and it's so quick and easy but tastes impressive. And the best part? It tastes a lot like a Reese's Egg, so yeah, DANGEROUS. This pie has cured postpartum blues and even once started an actual fight between two normally sensible adults when I donated it to a cake walk and one person took it knowing full well the other one was vying for it. It wasn't pretty. You've been warned.

If peanut butter and chocolate isn't your thing, 1) I'm not sure we can still be friends and 2) try this Mocha Silk Pie  or this French Silk Pie  instead. OH. MY. GOODNESS. But don't make it using the pecan crust for the Mocha Silk because nuts are gross in pie or maybe that's just my opinion, whatever. Cheat again and buy the Oreo crust or bake a regular pie crust. I didn't even add in the Kahlua and it was still out of this world. As for the French Silk Pie, umm WOW. French Silk has been a favorite of mine since I was a wee tyke, mainly because of the thick layer of whipped cream on top. One time at band camp in high school, a group of us went to Perkins and one of our guy friends bought an entire French Silk Pie to go, because he was a teenage boy and his adolescent metabolism could handle such ridiculousness. He asked my friend Chrissy and I to hold his pie while he went to the restroom which we were MORE than happy to do. Because in the 2.5 minutes he was in the bathroom, we demolished all of the whipped cream off of his entire French Silk pie. He was not the least bit amused but because we were cute and young and lovable, he forgave us...eventually. Again, sorry Mike, but if you want to stop by I'll make this pie for you and I'll even leave the whipped cream on it! I KNOW, my generosity knows no bounds.

Back to the recipes, these were my first experiences with a "silk" based pie which I'm pretty sure means raw eggs whipped until a silky texture. I didn't even google that I just MADE IT UP, feel free to google to verify but I'm fairly certain I'm right. I wasn't scared at all about the raw eggs and in the multiple times I've made these pies nobody's gotten sick from them. Well, sick because even though our minds were telling us that one piece was plenty our hearts were saying just one more slice because it's SOOOOOO good, but that just means it's an outstanding recipe and is no reflection on the raw eggs. My KitchenAid mixer, Rose, really came in handy for these recipes. I definitely wouldn't have attempted it without her.  You can of course but then you won't be able to get through airport security with THE GUNS you'll be toting (arms people arms, it would be a complete upper arm workout.)

Another recipe from Pioneer Woman that has become one of those fallback, make without looking, kind of recipes for me is Crash Hot Potatoes. My family could eat these by the bushel. Potatoes come in bushels right? And because I have to be me, I cheat when making these too. I don't always boil the potatoes on the stove as the recipe instructs (*gasp*) but sometimes when I'm feeling especially lazy, I just cook them in the microwave until they're fork tender. Works just the same, minus the boiling water plus the extra bonus of radiation!!!! If you don't have a potato masher, the bottom of a glass works fine too. I don't know how something so simple tastes so good and causes each one of my children to eat their weight in crash hot potatoes but they do. I've also tried this method with sweet potatoes and sprinkled them with brown sugar and cinnamon and they were equally well received by my peeps.

Happy Friday! By the time you're reading this, I will have watched the Hunger Games movie and will be able to continue on with my least until the second movie comes out. I may just have to make a Peeta Pie to celebrate!!!

P.S. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be TEAM GALE ALL THE WAY!!!! I mean, honestly is there even any question?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener our front yard, apparently. 

I was making supper this evening wearing my apron, pearls and high heels, of course. Or my clearance Old Navy PJ pants and a National Guard T-shirt (gotta represent you know!), and slipper socks, same diff.  ANYWAY, I happened to walk past a window looking out into our front yard and had to back up and be sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me, because this is what I saw...

Uhh excuse me, there's a cow in my front yard.  

This isn't normal even for us.  I had no idea how he got out as gates were closed and fences secure, but I knew he had to be put back in the fenced pasture where he belongs because as farmer laws go, if your cow/horse/llama/etc wanders out into the road and a car hits it, the owner of the wandering animal is fully responsible and could stand to lose the farm so to speak, if there is serious damage or injury.  I learned that in one of my Farm Girl 101 classes aka when my mother in law and GI Joe chased a herd of the neighbor's cattle down the road and back to their pasture while wearing their Sunday best before church one Sunday morning.  I wish I would've photographed that because THAT my friends, was a sight to behold.  But that's what neighbors in the country do for each other, herd each others cattle to protect them from lawsuits.  Sure could've used my neighbors tonight.  

May I interject here (of course I can it's my blog) and tell you that just as in the case of nearly every other farm emergency we've encountered, GI Joe was still at work?!? Because he was.  So once again it was all up to me.  That's something you don't see on Army Wives, how the wives who are left at home while their husbands are off on top secret missions (or recruiting) have to round up all manner of escaped livestock because they have a cow in their front yard.   But I'm here to tell you it happens.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I need my own show. 

So I switched out my high heels slipper socks for mud boots, put on a jacket over my dress and pearls PJ pants and National Guard Tshirt and headed outside to remove the cow from my front yard.  So you know, the usual.  The good news is that since Holy Cow is no ordinary cow and more of an oversized puppy dog,  all I had to do was talk sweet to him and pet him a little bit to get him to follow me.  So we walked down the hill towards the  to the pasture but because he is a) pretty much a teenager and b) a boy, he got distracted by the pond and thought it would be more fun to stuff his face with long, luscious, green grass, completely ignoring me as I stood at the gate in the pouring rain calling for him to keep following me.  I could've done what real cattle ranchers do and either had my Australian Cattle Dog yip and nip at Holy's feet to herd him to the gate or hop on a horse with my 10 gallon hat and say things like "Hiyaaah" (oh wait, maybe that's karate?) and "Giddyup" and corral him in all while twirling a lasso in the air.  There were only two problems with those options, of our 4 dogs none of them are known for their herding skills.  Which is odd because you would think in all their time guarding Chinese emperors pugs would've had to chase off a wandering cow or two right?  Apparently not.   The other problem was that as much as I love our horses, I'm not exactly a cowgirl.  Shocking, I know, but it's true.  So even if they'd been nearby and I would've been able to hop on (as if) the likelihood that I would actually be able to get them to move in a controlled manner, let alone well enough to lead Holy into the gate, were slim.  So I did what any hard headed woman would do, I  grabbed the literal 1100 pound used-to-be-bull by the horns (that he only has for 4 more days) and tried to drag him to the gate.  That worked out splendidly...except not.  Instead of moving, he stopped eating grass long enough to look at me in pity as if to say, "Really?"  I started running back up the hill towards the house to get some sweet feed to entice him with because we all know the way to a cow's heart is through his stomach(s).  And just as I started running, Holy looked up, realized I was leaving him, and started running after me, as if it's totally normal for a girl and her cow to go on an evening jog.  I'm no dummy I jogged right back down the hill and through the gate, right back into the pasture, with Holy by my side.  Mission accomplished!  Prairie Princess=1 Holy Cow=0. 

I'm totally adding Cattle Herder to my already impressive farm girl resume, don't try to stop me or I'll put YOU out to pasture too. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food Friday

I am really loving this Food Friday thing, are you? I've gotten some texts, emails, etc that say things like, "My wife made the most amazing 3-2-1 cake, you should try it sometime". I can only assume that her inspiration for the 3-2-1 cake came from last week's Food Friday  but of course, we can keep that our little secret. ;) Either way it makes me so happy that some of you are trying these things and telling me about it. So let's keep it up shall we? It makes me feel all Pioneer Woman-ish minus the million followers, the 2 cookbooks in print, and the cattle ranch, although I do have one cow so that's nearly a cattle ranch right? Right.

I've tried some new recipes this week but none that have blown our socks off. I've also served Spaghetti-O's, Taquitos, and Cookie Dough frosting for dinner one night so maybe I'm not the best source of culinary inspiration after all. Hey, it was a busy night, what can I say?!?  But that cookie dough frosting? OH. MY. GOODNESS. I'd give you the recipe but it's for one of the cupcakes I make for Suck It Up Cupcakes and those my friend, are TOP SECRET. But I'm sure if you google cookie dough frosting you'll come up with something nearly as good....maybe.

Since I'm a tease and will not give you that recipe, I AM going to give you something that is a star ingredient in several of my cupcakes, cakes, and other dessert items. It's homemade dulce de leche. Make sure you roll your tongue and sound like Catherine Zeta Jones when you say that, it's a requirement. Dulce de Leche is basically a thick caramel made out of sweetened condensed milk. You can buy it as Dulce de Leche in the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store OR you can do it the easy way. Like this:

Homemade Dulce De Leche aka Nectar of the Gods

Take one can of sweetened condensed milk, make sure it's not EVAPORATED MILK. They are easily confused except when you go to taste it, evaporated milk does NOT make good dulce de leche. Eww gross.

Do not open the can but you can remove the label if you want. If not, no big deal it'll come off later on it's own anyway.
Place the can in a crockpot.
Fill the crockpot with water.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Let it cool, then remove the can from the water bath and open.
Prepare to be amazed.

Now, I'm sure some or all of you are skeptical right now thinking this will never work without exploding and blowing up your kitchen. O ye of little faith, trust me on this, it works and I've never once had an explosion or a mishap and I've done it many, MANY times. Although, I do have to admit the first couple times I did it, I made sure the crockpot was far away from any windows or anything of importance. Go ahead and do that if it makes you feel better but you'll find you don't have to. I don't poke any holes in the can, I don't open it at all, I just take the label off and plop it in the crockpot full of water. I just did it on Wednesday as a matter of fact. And then I used it for some Better than S#@ cupcakes that are loosely based on something like this. I used the dulce de leche in place of the caramel and it is ahhhhmazing. It's thicker than storebought caramel ice cream topping so it doesn't disappear into the cake as much and tell me, who doesn't love ooey, gooey caramel oozing out of their cake when they take a bite? No one I can be friends with probably. The uses for it are endless (like this or as an ice cream topper, a fruit dip, or put it in a pie crust, chill in the fridge for a few hours then top with whipped cream or cool whip and call it a day or pie) OR just eat it with a spoon out of the can hunched over the kitchen sink, I'm not here to judge.

The next recipe I'm going to give you takes 3, count 'em, THREE, unassuming ingredients and about that many seconds and creates magic. Pure magic. I make these as an appetizer but you could make them to top steaks or burgers or other meats. I'll tell you right now, I didn't come up with this recipe OR discover it. Unless you consider "discovering it" to be eating way too much of it at a work treat day a long time ago and then demanding that the maker of the mushrooms share the recipe which she graciously did. Some of my favorite recipes have come from potlucks or treat days, this being one of them.

Magical Mushrooms otherwise known as Ranch Mushrooms
1 lb. mushrooms, rinsed, you can slice them, quarter them, or leave them whole, it's whatever you prefer but they'll probably stretch further if you slice or quarter them
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 stick butter, REAL butter, make Paula proud

Combine all 3 ingredients in a small crockpot and cook on low for a few hours. You'll know they're done when the mushrooms have cooked down and the butter has melted entirely. Give them a gentle stir and DONE. I can't even explain how good these are. They're so rich and decadent. Wow, look at me with my fancy food descriptions. But these mushrooms are deserving of fancy words like decadent because that's exactly what they are, even though they only took a whole 30 seconds of work. You might as well double the recipe and use a bigger crockpot because there will be crying and gnashing of teeth when they're gone.

Happy Friday! Have a fabulous weekend and eat well!

P.S. THIS  happens ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. We're going to the 12:01 a.m. showing and I could not be more excited. I've only been waiting all my life fourteen months for it! I may even dress up and become "one of THOSE people". Don't worry I'll tell you all about it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Not Me

Here are some things that I haven't least not today. Maybe recently, but not today. They'll probably make you feel better about your current mental state and/or hair color. Mine happens to be slightly spacey and blonde as evidenced by the events you're about to read.

*Discovered that sometimes when I'm watching my son's basketball games that I may get a little vocal and loud, oh and competitive, and sometimes sarcastic. So much so that there were a few times at Blade's last tournament game that GI Joe had to "ssssshhhhh" me in order to keep me from getting kicked out of the game. I'm sorry but I was just trying to help the refs out because clearly, THEY NEEDED THEIR EYES CHECKED. I wasn't the only one, our coach actually got a TECHNICAL foul for pointing out a missed call that the ref didn't make. A TECHNICAL FOUL at a 4th grade game?!? Our coach was simply pointing out a blatant call that the ref missed. The ref did not appreciate the feedback, got a little upset and told the coach, "You need to sit down, be quiet, and let me do my job" to which our coach responded calmly (and awesomely), "THEN DO YOUR JOB!" And the people I said Amen. I hope my boys play basketball forever because I LOVE it.
Another perk of basketball, is that I KNOW I'm taking pictures of my kid, which sure beats getting home from a game and reviewing pictures, only to discover you took 1700 pictures of the wrong kid because they all look alike when disguised in helmets and pads and you can't see their numbers.  Prime example.....
None of them are my kid, even though when I took the picture I was sure Blade was one of them.  He was not.  This however, is definitely Blade.

Isn't his intensity adorable? 

*Speaking of basketball, I locked my keys in the PMobile at Blade's basketball tournament in Podunk(fictional name), IA on the day that GI Joe had drill approximately 45 minutes away. And then had to ask a fellow basketball parent to borrow their cell phone to call GI Joe because my phone was dead and the charger was locked in the car...with the keys. Oh and guess what? My spare set of keys? It was on the same keyring with my first set of keys because umm, yeah, that makes TOTAL sense. FYI, having to ask someone to borrow their cell phone, no matter how many hours of bleacher time you've logged together, is humiliating. GI Joe explained the situation to his ever understanding and sympathetic boss (his boss knows me by now) and was able to come rescue me. You know what else he did? He took my spare set of keys OFF of my keyring and made me put them in a safe place in my purse. Now let's just hope that next time I lock my keys in my car I don't lock my purse in there with them. Because let's be honest, that's totally something I would do.

*The VERY NEXT day GI Joe was still at drill but the kids and I went out for lunch after church with the inlaws. We got to the restaurant before they did so we waited in the car for them to arrive. Having been scarred from the locking keys in the car experience of the day before, when I got out, I checked my purse for my keys, you know the ones that I should've just thrown in there. I didn't see them so being overly cautious, I didn't lock my car doors. You know, so as not to repeat the error of yesterday, even though I now had another set of keys in my purse, but I didn't see those either and one can never be too careful. We had a leisurely lunch and about an hour later my brother in law's family left the restaurant leaving my mother & father in law, the kids and I to finish our lunch. Seconds after they left we got a call from my BIL saying something like this, "Did you know your car is running? Did you hit the remote start button?" Me: "I don't have remote start on this PMobile yet. That's weird." BIL inspecting my PMobile further, "Ummm, it's unlocked AND THE KEYS ARE IN IT!" Me: "So THAT'S where my keys were!" Whoops. The good news is that no thieves took advantage of the unlocked, already running keys in it bait and stole it in the hour plus that it was unattended, probably because it was covered in a thick layer of gravel dust and mud making it unappealing to the thieving crowd. I mean, if you're gonna serve some jail time you at least want the ride you jack to be shiny and pretty amiright?!? The bad news is I had to get gas after that because idling for an hour doesn't do much for the ol' fuel efficiency.

*Shortly after this, GI Joe decided he wanted to make the PMobile more appealing for car thieves couldn't stand the dirt any longer (he's slightly OCD when it comes to vehicle cleanliness, inside and out, which is awesome because I.AM.NOT.) and restored Ruby the Princess Mobile to her original glory by giving her a long overdue bath. What, you mean going thru the car wash once every season isn't enough?!? He spent a lot of quarters sudsing her up, rinsing, repeat, and even getting out all the mud from the wheel hubs and underneath. She looked beautiful. The problem came the next day when I went to the store and spent 15 minutes looking for my vehicle in the parking lot because I was looking for a 2 tone muddy brown/burgundy PMobile and could not find it anywhere. Finally, I hit the Panic button on my fab and jumped 10 feet in the air when it started honking 2 cars away from me. Seriously. I am a mess.

*This is completely unrelated to the PMobile and any unfortunate incidents involving her but a funny story that will give you a glimpse into the inner workings of GI Joe and I's marriage. On Friday night, I drove to Bethany, MO to meet my sister Heidi to get my niece Savannah for the weekend. I got there before they did so I went to the local farm store (where else would I go?!?) and as luck would have it, it was CHICK DAYS. I live for Chick Days at the farm store. You all know I'm a sucker for animals, especially baby animals, ESPECIALLY baby animals that are fluffy and tiny and chirping. So I sent GI Joe the following text, "I think I'm going to pick up some chicks". After hitting send, I realized that that simple sentence could be easily misinterpreted. Some husbands might be shocked, excited, hopeful even, thinking their wife was picking up chicks of the female kind to bring home to live out some 17 year old boy fantasy. But my husband? He sent back a text that said, "GET OUT OF THE FARM STORE!" Dang, he knows me too well. Sidenote: I did get out of the farm store only to return after getting Savannah and letting her pick out 3 of these, thereby making me MOST FAVORITE AUNT, which was pretty much already established but it never hurts to go above and beyond to further secure the title.

And then we held them on our laps the entire 1.5 hour drive home. Because that's how we roll when you're hanging with the "MOST FAVORITE AUNT".

*While at the farm store picking up "chicks", there was a couple there new to the business of chickens, deliberating over which kind of chicks to get. It was obvious they didn't know much about chickens and were looking for good laying chickens, that laid brown eggs. And would you believe that I, former city girl, farm girl wannabe, actually advised them and filled them in on which breed produces what color of eggs and egg quality? Because I did. And then when the Orscheln man (not to be confused with the Orkin man) came over he confirmed what I had told them and then gave me the knowing nod as one farmer does to another and said, "You must be a chicken farmer." You guys? I think this means I've finally made it! I'm a real farm girl! I think what it really means is that I've actually retained some of what I've learned from all the 4H Poultry meetings with my daughter, the real chicken whisperer  and the websites and hatchery magazines we've spent hours looking through. Nonetheless, you have a chicken question?  I'm your girl or I'll ask my girl and get back to you. 

*I'm NOT your girl, however, if you do not enjoy exploding glass pans of BBQ Meatballs all over your kitchen. We had a potluck at church on Sunday after the morning service. I had slaved away on Saturday night making these and was so excited to finally get to eat them. I brought the dish in before Sunday School and put the pan on the stove for safekeeping until it was time to put them in the oven to bake, chatting away with my friend Trisha, while I turned on the oven to preheat it. We went on our merry way and were talking in the hallway before we got our Sunday School classes underway when we heard a very loud, odd, that-can't-be-good-sound. We went sprinting down the hallway to the kitchen, the direction the sound came from, and discovered BBQ meatballs and shards of glass everywhere, and a shocked young man who was simply getting a drink of water when a pan of meatballs TRIED TO KILL HIM. Luckily, he escaped serious injury. Good thing too because that would've been an awkward lawsuit..."Your honor the victim was assaulted with a pan of bbq meatballs and he has suffered great emotional turmoil and hardship since the incident, the defendant must pay for her crimes!" As for the rest of us, we spent the majority of Sunday School cleaning up a meatbally mess. The church kitchen hasn't seen that much action since Trisha's Great Pizza Incident of 2011.  As it turns out I had NOT turned the oven on but I HAD turned on the burner that I had set the glass pan on. Note to self: Glass pans on electric burners=disaster. Then later that same afternoon, I dropped a jar of pizza sauce in the aisle at Wal Mart. Because, you know, you just can't have too much broken glass and red sauce splattered everywhere in a single day.

*And this has nothing to do with anything, but many people (or two) have asked about Holy Cow's wellbeing since I haven't talked much about him or shown a picture of him lately. Not to worry he's alive and well, except for a severe case of mistaken identity wherein he thinks he's a dog. He's still the bovine love of my life. Also, he has a horn appointment next Monday where he'll be getting highlights and a cut/style. OK, so not really on the highlights but he will be getting a cut, as in his horns cut off. We had used some dehorning paste when he was a baby that was supposed to prevent them from coming in but as you can see he's a regular Texas longhorn now with these bad boys. Unfortunately, he doesn't use his horns for the greater good, instead he uses them to put gigantic bruises on your thighs because he just wants to be pet (or is it petted? I never know). But the horns? They gots to go.  But he'll still be large and in charge even sans horns. 

Is it weird that I'm going to print this picture to hang in my office at work? You're right, I didn't think so either.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Food Friday. FOUR WEEKS IN A ROW?!? The apocalypse is definitely coming!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Food Friday

Would you look at that?  Food Friday 3 weeks in a row?!?  Who am I with all this regular blogging stuff?!?

I'm going to get right to the point (*Updated:  yeah right) because I am suffering severe sympathy soreness this evening.   GI Joe is on his second month of this INSANITY workout program and it's umm, well, INSANE.  I sweat and nearly have a heart attack just watching him.   But apparently this second month stuff is even more ridiculous because my very fit and in shape husband is hobbling around here like an 80 year old man who's been hit by a bus.  Then mysteriously, today I woke up achy and sore as if   had done the Insanity workout with him, and we all know that did NOT happen (and will NEVER happen just so we're clear, I'll stick with my Zumba thanks).  I did my normal old lady gym stuff yesterday just like every day which never causes soreness so it has to be sympathy soreness.  That's a real thing right?   It's the only explanation.  Oh and one more thing while I'm getting straight to the point (not), I'm gonna tell you a little secret, it's actually Wednesday night.  I know, Food FRIDAY is such a scam!  But I'm otherwise engaged tomorrow night to with Trace Adkins. Ok,  GI Joe and I are just going to his concert so I won't actually be getting engaged to Trace, (he's happily married and so am I, remember?)  but it will take me away from blogging, so I'm being proactive.  It's like I don't even know who I am anymore. 

Without further ado and rambling I present to you this week's features.

My dear friend Cheri has been a long time source of fabulous recipes.  Even though we're both very cool, or at least we like to think so, women in our early 30's, when we get together we might as well be at the senior center in our housecoats because we talk about Tupperware, the latest recipes. restaurants, board games, rummage sales, and what so and so has been up to, and then we laugh loudly and uncontrollably about things no one understands but us.   It is delightful and so so good for the soul.  I hope you all have a friend like that.  Anyway, I love my Cheri and I'm about to share with you 2 of the many reasons why.


Many, many years ago Cheri had a group of us over to her house and served this salad.  I promptly got the recipe and have become somewhat famous for it among my family, coworkers and fellow churchmembers.  It's totally fine because Cheri did the same thing with my Baptist taco salad.  This was inspired by a restaurant we have here in Des Moines but I'll just tell you right now this version is better!  And so easy!  And yes, it warrants TWO exclamation points in a row!  Oops, 3. :)

Noodle Zoo Salad
by the lovely and talented Chef Cheri

1 bag romaine lettuce
16 oz pretty pasta
1 bottle Peppercorn Ranch
1 bag or container of shredded Parmesan cheese (not the dried kind in the green can, the refrigerated kind)
1 bag of croutons

This is really hard so pay attention.  Cook your pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Mix lettuce, pasta, cheese, and croutons in a large bowl.  Pour dressing on top, (you may not use the entire bottle, just make sure you use enough to coat it nicely without drenching it), mix well.  Taste it to make sure you used enough dressing everything should be touched by the dressing, add more if necessary.  Serve immediately.  And THAT'S IT.  You will not believe how good this is.  Seriously.  If you really want to get crazy, you could even add grilled chicken to the salad and make it a meal.  Now go forth and carry on this salad legacy. 

Cheri who now lives 3 hours away (boo) came to town on Saturday night and while we were eating dinner she could hardly contain her excitement about her latest recipe find.  And I could hardly wait to pick up the ingredients on my way home and try it for myself.  It's another super complicated one so try to stay with me. 

3-2-1 Cake

1 box Angel Food Cake mix (this is the staple of the recipe)
1 box any other kind of cake mix you want (chocolate, funfetti, yellow, cherry chip, the sky is the limit!)

Pour contents of each cake mix box into a large Ziploc bag or Tupperware container, mix and shake well so they are completely combined.  Store that bag or container of goodness in your cupboard.  And when you get that after dinner craving for something sweet every night (oh wait, that's just me? weird) do this:
3 T. cake mix
2 T. water
Mix together in a small, cereal sized microwave safe bowl.
1 minute in the microwave
Get it?  3 Tablespoons cake mix, 2 Tablespoons water, and 1 Minute in the microwave=3-2-1 CAKE!   It comes out of the microwave a light, fluffy, airy cake without the eggs or oil. It has the texture of an Angel Food Cake but the flavor of whatever other cake mix you use.  We have no idea how this works but it does.  I was going to do the math and figure out just how many calories are in it because it can't be many since there aren't any eggs or oil and you're only using 3 T. of cake mix. But that's a lot of math and it kinda started to make my head hurt.  So I'll just say this, it's A LOT LESS calories and fat than eating a Reese's egg or a bowl of ice cream for your after dinner snack.  I mean, it's practically like eating green beans, zero everything, right?!?  Right.  Listen to me I'm a doctor....of Looooooove.  We have been making this little treat every night this week and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it. The kids think it's the coolest thing that they can whip this up themselves.  They think they're all Paula Deen and stuff making a cake by just throwing a few things without even a recipe.  I'm gonna have to draw the line though when they start telling me they're going to "kick it up a notch!"  But until then I'm just gonna let them eat cake and continue to make ME cake.  A cake so easy that your kids can make it for you allowing you more time to feed your Pinterest addiction?   BEST THING EVER.   We started out with Funfetti but next time we're going to try chocolate cake mix, I think it would be wonderful.  You can add a dollop of Fat Free Cool Whip or some fruit or something to top off your cake once you take it out of the microwave but it really doesn't need it, it's stand alone good.  I will tell you though that any caloric victories won by making cake without the eggs and oil are lost if you top it with a spatula full of homemade buttercream frosting.  Not that I would do such a thing, I'm just sayin'.  Make this your skinny jeans will thank you.  If you try it, let me know what cake mix flavor you used and how it was.  Do it in the name of scientific research. 

Have a great weekend and remember, "Keep Calm Eat Cake"! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And This Little Piggy.....

It's official. We are REAL. PIG. FARMERS.

Well, not really me but the rest of my family because we all know my rule: We don't eat what we pet. Not to worry, I didn't pet Hormel. But even though I remained emotionally unattached and didn't pet her for the entire 11 months we had her, and trust me that was really hard for me to do especially when she was little and cute and pink, (SO PINK!), I still can't stand the thought of her "purpose" in life. Maybe life wasn't the word I was looking for, but you get the idea.

I tell you all that to say.....

Hormel is no longer a resident of the Koons Zoo. She's happily residing at some lovely farm (in the sky) where the mud and sweet feed are endless. And the wonderful farm that took her in (in my imagination) gave us a different pig (one that was mean and ugly and had no soul) to be butchered to fill our freezer with bacon, ham and other porkalicious delights.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Ask GI Joe, he might tell you a different story. One that goes a little something like this...

The deal was from the beginning that if we were going to dabble in the ways of pig farming, I had to remain completely uninvolved and blissfully unaware when the time came for Hormel's destiny to be fulfilled.

And that almost worked except it's now almost a year after we got her and she was still roaming the barnyard and routinely escaping and destroying our yard and getting in the road, so I had to gently remind GI Joe that it was time for her to go to her new "home." Because if it didn't happen soon, I was claiming her as a pet and dressing her in tutus and teaching her tricks.

The plan all along was that one day he would just load her up after I'd gone to work and take her away and I wouldn't even notice for a day or so.

That plan was foolproof except that I overheard him tell his parents that he'd made the call and that they would no longer have to worry about a pig coming down the road to destroy their yard too. Yes, she traveled, it was annoying. But I still didn't know details and that was fine with me. I just pretended I didn't hear it. But in my head, for some reason I thought I heard Thursday mentioned as the drop dead date. I'm sorry that was tasteless, but c'mon it was a little funny.

Who am I? I went from a strict hobby farmer to a heartless pig farmer making sick jokes about my pig's demise. I'm a changed woman.

Not really. Humor is how I cope. Just ask my sisters about the chocolate cake at my mom's funeral.

I thought it was just a normal Monday morning until I called GI Joe to tell him about an email I'd received from Ryder's teacher (he placed 3rd in the school Geography Bee!). He was huffing and puffing and blowing the house down (I am seriously OUT OF CONTROL today) and chasing a pig around. He told me that he was taking the boys on a field trip and that they would be going to school late. Why do I have to be so inquisitive? Why couldn't I just assume a field trip meant laying around in their underwear, eating popcorn, and watching cartoons or shooting stuff in the woods? Why did I have to ask one too many questions until I learned that their field trip was actually a trip to Hormel's new "home" aka the Meat Locker?!? (That's where her new "family" was picking her up, I guess.) And that they had missed the bus because it had taken all 3 (GI Joe, Blade and Ryder) of them to round up the pig and get her loaded into the trailer for the "field trip". Dakota moves at sloth speed in the morning so she was still the house oblivious to the Man Vs. Pig battle raging in the barnyard, so when the bus came she ran out and got on it, completely unaware that her brothers were not joining her and that there was a wild hog chase taking place in and around the barnyard. She's kind of a blonde sometimes. Apparently, the great hog roundup of 2012 was quite an ordeal and ended with a 34 year old wrenching his knee, 2 boys who worked up a farmer sized appetite before 8am (an appetite for bacon obviously), and a pig securely locked and loaded in the trailer.

I wish I could tell you more about the field trip but all I know is it's done, we'll have farm fresh bacon, ham, thick cut pork chops, pork roast, etc in a week or so, you know from that OTHER farmer's pig. GI Joe told the boys that they were not allowed to talk to me about their field trip or their farm "work" this morning because if they did I wouldn't eat any of the product of their labor, even though they thought the whole thing was THE COOLEST THING EVER. Heartless, those 2. The consolation prize is that they get to tell Dakota all about it and they absolutely could not wait to do so. And she'll be thrilled to hear about every detail, she really will. I don't know how I can be related to these people. I'm half expecting an email from their teachers saying "They were late to school because you took them WHERE..?? And also, please tell them to stop scaring their classmates with stories from their field trip" because you know darn well that they went to school and told every single one of their friends about their adventure.

Many have asked how I'm doing with this twisted development in our lives. I'm doing better than expected. Hormel really was quite annoying and destructive in her last days at the Koons Zoo. I will not miss the knocks on the door from neighbors driving by to tell me that "the pig is out"...on the road, or in the ditch, or at the neighbors....again. I will not miss the overturned soil all over our yard from Hormel's countless escapes. Nothing like a hog rooting around your front yard to keep it classy. And I will not miss the running to the fence and oinking the minute any of us step outside. Ok, I will miss that a little but I'm sure she's still doing that at her new home.

But you know what will get me through this dark time? Bacon. Bacon cures all. That and the thought of Hormel happily frolicking with other pigs at her new farm. That is what she's doing, right?

Now the question is, where's the BEEF?

That would seem the obvious next step, raising a beef cow (Holy is still alive and well and always will be thankyouverymuch), or however you say that. I'm telling you right now, there's no way, I could remain emotionally unattached to a sweet, fuzzy, calf. I heart cows. (I also heart steak but that's beside the point.) I'm trying to convince GI Joe that we should just get a baby heifer (that's a girl for all you non farmer types) calf to raise to keep and have BABIES and then we would trade the babies with other farmers for a slaughter cow, that I would never meet until we picked it up from the locker in nice packages of TBones and roasts. Holy NEEDS a girlfriend!  It's a flawless plan, no?

All I know is that this little piggy went wee wee wee...all the way "home".

Trust me, she wasn't this cute for long. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Food Friday

Welcome to the second edition of Food Friday. 

Before I tell you what's been cooking, I have to tell you about my family's latest snack obsession. 
Yes, they're called "Everybody's Nuts!.  Go ahead and giggle, I'll wait.  These salt and pepper pistachios are delicious.  Oh and did I mention I don't like nuts?  Except peanuts, obviously (hello, how would Reese's and I can continue our love affair if I didn't like peanuts?) but even peanuts I usually prefer only in peanut butter form in the middle of my Reese's eggs.  Or while waiting for the real food to arrive at Texas Roadhouse.  But these pistachios have rocked my world.  It's almost like a potato chip flavor (they have a really bold salty flavor) in a nut form.  I knew GI Joe would like them because he likes nuts in general, but I think we knew already that given his choice in spouses.  What surprised me though, was how much the kids like them.   We bought a 4 pound bag at Costco on Saturday, which by the way is the best place to buy them because they are a little spendy, and today that bag is empty.  The kids have been eating them in their lunches, as after school snacks, every time they walk into the kitchen, every time they walk out of the kitchen, you get the idea.  They don't even realize what a healthy snack they're eating.  And getting to see how many play on words we can come up with using "Everybody's Nuts" is just an added bonus, especially when you have 3 males in the house.  Because really, hearing, "Ryder, quit eating EVERYBODY'S NUTS!"  never gets old.  Really. 
The moral of the story here is try them, you may just like them and apparently, nuts are a slightly healthier snack than say, Cheetos. 

Now on to the other food.  The ONE thing, and only ONE, I enjoy about cold weather is soup.  I love soups.  I especially love when my Baptist church celebrates the first day of Lent, not by giving up chocolate or caffeine or sweets (it's during Lent that I'm especially glad I'm not Catholic), but by having a potluck called "Soups and Sandwiches" before our Wednesday night service.  I'm sure it's Biblical.   You can pretty much count on there being a potato soup and a chili so I like to be the rebel and bring something a little different.  This year that soup was Minestrone

This soup is a family heirloom passed down from generation to generation and given to me by my Italian Nana on a recipe card tattered by the winds and the waves they encountered on their voyage by boat across the sea from the homeland.
Oh oops, I'm not Italian and neither are my grandmothers.  But this recipe is good stuff and I'm going to pass it down to my sons and daughter while making hand gestures and yelling "meat-A-balls!" and maybe I'll even take a boat across the pond to give it to them, so there. 

So the recipe may not have come from my Italian grandma but it did come from another one of my favorite blogs  It was super easy and filling and get this, even though it was chock full of veggies the kids ate it....and LIKED it!   You absolutely can't go wrong with a soup that has marinara sauce in it's base.  Add in sausage and Parmesan cheese and fughettaboutit.

I apologize for what I'm about to show you, but I'm doing it because I care, because I love you.  After you've eaten your very nutritious, veggie laden, minestrone soup, pat yourself on the back for eating so healthy and then make THIS.


I KNOW!  I saw this recipe on Girl Who Eats Everything's blog this morning and immediately started obsessing about it.  I could not stop thinking about it.  So I went on my lunch and bought the supplies to whip this up tonight so that I could sleep in peace having tried it.  Except instead of sleeping in peace, I'll be popping Tums all night because I may have sampled just a *little* too much of this stuff.  Self control much?  Not this girl.

You guys?  It is AH-MAZING.  The first thing that popped in my head when I took a handful was  "It tastes like a baby shower!".  Which is an odd comparison since I've never, umm, you know, eaten a baby shower.   I think what I meant is it's sweet and girly (that could've been due to the large amount of hot pink sprinkles I used in it)  and pretty, NOT like baby powder and dirty diapers, just to clarify.  The really scary part is you can whip this recipe up in about 5 minutes.  5 MINUTES.  This is bad, really bad.  But if Cake Batter Muddy Buddies is bad, I don't want to be good.  If you're going to have one dietary splurge this weekend, it should be this.  Trust me. 

Happy Friday all!