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Friday, November 29, 2013

Over The Rainbow Cupcakes

Claire's dance group had a bake sale to raise money for her trip to the Outback Bowl.  She was so excited when she saw something similar to these on the internet.

We went to the store and found Airhead Extremes.  2 packages was plenty with a few extra pieces to eat:)

Next up, a white cake mix made with milk instead of water, a couple teaspoons of vanilla and blue food coloring for the "cloud" cake.

Frost with blue buttercream.  Put white buttercream in a piping bag.  We used a large circle writing tip to make the clouds on either side of the cupcake.  Shape airhead into rainbow and TA DA!  Instant sell out!!  Claire's cupcakes were the first to sell out and people were asking for more! 


Thursday, November 28, 2013


Max is headed to a hockey tournament tomorrow so I thought this was the perfect way to say...


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Ok, so I know I've said that I don't think Claire takes after me but maybe she does just a little bit.  She volunteered to make cupcakes for her Spanish class but she wanted them to be "fun".  She made a regular white cake mix according to the directions except using milk instead of water.  Split the batter between two bowls, one having slightly more.  She colored the "more" batch orange and the other one yellow.

Spoon about a tablespoon of yellow into bottom of cupcake liner, put 2 more tablespoons of orange.  Bake, cool and frost with white icing.  Top with a candy corn.

  It's hard to see in this photo but the bottom of the cake really is yellow and the top orange.
 Share with your friends!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Traditions Matter

I'm used to hockey tryouts.  I've been living through them for the past 6 years.  This year was just different.  Parents weren't involved.  Max started the process afterschool on a Monday.  They were also different in the respect that results weren't posted.  Everyday they were told when/where to show up the next day.  One rink meant you were still in the Varsity pool, the other Junior Varsity.  It ended with a scrimmage on the following Saturday. 
The scrimmage I'm used to, that's how tryouts end.  The only difference is that he had two scrimmages to play.  I went.  I watched.  I bought him lunch in between.  I was proud of him. 
Later that night we were sitting on the couch together and Max looked over at me and said, "hey you didn't take photos today".

I gave him the "huh" face.

"It was my FIRST varsity game. You always take photos of my first everything". 

I told the truth and said that I didn't think about it because it was tryouts.

"Well it was still my first time playing Varsity". 

He was right. I have been capturing his "first" everything since he was born.  First sunglasses, first birthday party, first smile, first time sitting up or walking and every first game.  Simply put, I dropped the ball.  And, very unlike me...I'm not beating myself up about it.  It's time to let my kids know that I'm human.  I make mistakes, I forget things, I drop the ball on occasion and it doesn't mean I love them any less.  But it was a good reminder that even when they seem like they've outgrown you or the traditions you've created, they still matter.  He accepted my apology and I'll be sure to get some photos of his first game because HE MADE THE VARSITY TEAM and I couldn't be prouder!

So, true to my word, I remembered my camera for the first official game this weekend.  He had an assist and the game ended with a 3-3 tie. 

Even though this one is blurry, I liked it.  Kind of reminded me of both how fast the years have gone and how fast the game has become.  Blurred fits my mood well tonight.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Ok, so I didn't take step by step photos when I did this version so I'm cheating and using photos from the original Spaghetti Carbonara recipe so you know what we're doing.

2-3 lb Spaghetti Squash ~ cooked and chilled
1/2 lb of Bacon ~ chopped
3 cloves of garlic ~ minced
1/2 T Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pepper ~ chopped ~ I use a variation of colors to equal one just because I think it's prettier
1/2 lb fresh Asparagus ~ broken into pieces
2 Egg Yolks
1 ladle pasta water
1/2 container Shredded Parmesan Cheese ~ I personally prefer Asiago but I had Parmesan handy and NO you canNOT use the grated green can stuff
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Fill a pot with water and a couple teaspoons of salt.  

In a pan, add your bacon, garlic and red pepper flakes. A few cranks of the pepper mill. Cook until bacon is good and crispy and nicely browned. Add peppers and stir around a couple of minutes.  Turn the heat off if your asparagus isn't ready.

The water is boiling, throw your asparagus into the water and boil for about 2 minutes, should still have a little crunch left. Scoop the asparagus out and throw into pan with bacon and peppers, it stays floating on the top so it's not hard to get out with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat back on the bacon pan.

Your egg yolks are in a bowl, scoop out a ladle of water and pour into yolks. Quickly whisking because you don't want to the egg yolks to cook.

Add your squash to the bacon, toss until heated through. Add egg yolks and toss again. Takes about 1/2-1 minute to thicken. Turn off the heat. Add the cheese. Toss again, taste to see if you need some more pepper and serve.

Here is your bacon, pepper flakes and garlic. I took this photo like this so you can see how much we're talking about. I also put a few cranks of fresh pepper on top of the bacon. It's about layering the flavors with this dish and I like the peppery taste.
Here's your vegetables ready to go.
The cheese, gotta have the cheese. Lots of cheese..yum!
See how crispy the bacon is, add the peppers and give it a stir.
 Remember you can turn off at this point and wait for the pasta to finish up.
See, told you the asparagus would float on top.

The egg yolks have been whisked with the pasta water and is waiting to finish the dish.
  Throw your asparagus in.

Add the Spaghetti Squash, give it a toss. Add the egg yolks, give another toss and cook until thickened.
Add the cheese. Don't be cheap with the cheese. A couple more cranks of fresh cracked pepper.

Dinner is served!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Egg on a Nest

I couldn't think of anything clever to call this but it's my new FAVORITE thing to have for breakfast.  Like I seriously crave this.  And, the BIG bonus is, it's not a lot of calories and it's filling!!

It starts with spaghetti squash that you've made and have waiting patiently in the fridge to eat at a later time.  Spaghetti squash is my new "go to" vegi because I'm trying to eat less pasta and potatoes.  Depending on the pasta recipe, I not only don't mind the squash, I like it.  But, I'm not trying to fool myself that it's pasta.

I also apologize that I don't have complete step by step photos.  But you guys have been cooking with me long enough to figure this out right? 

So to start this party, put about a 3/4 C spaghetti squash into a non stick frying pan with 1 Tablespoon chopped onion over medium heat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and you can do a spray of two of spray butter if you wish.  You can also throw in some leftover meat (in this case a couple pieces of ham) and chopped peppers.  Stir it around until it's hot, about 2 minutes.  Add a handful of spinach and a couple drops of olive oil OR a few drops of hot pepper oil (you can get that in the Asian Aisle and it adds some nice zing but be careful, it's pretty hot) 

Cook until spinach is wilted.  Put on a plate.

Hold your pan off the flame for a minute to cool, turn your heat down a little and  add a couple of drops of Olive Oil to your pan and make an over easy egg.
Put egg on top of your nest and break the yolk letting it mix in with the nest below.  It has almost a creamy sauce effect.  YUMMY!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Spaghetti Squash

This week is going to be about spaghetti squash because it's easy to make and it's good for you.  The possibilities are quite endless but I'm just going to show you a couple of my favorites after I show you how to get the squash ready. 
Let me also say that I prefer to make it, refrigerate it and reheat quickly in whatever recipe I'm making with it.  I think by refrigerating it, it gets a little of the crisp back but that might be completely in my head.
First, this is what a spaghetti squash looks like.
You're going to slice it in half.  To do that, you're going to need a sharp knife and a little muscle.  Be super careful that the knife doesn't slip.  You can cut it lengthwise like I did here or in half.  Just adjust your cooking time accordingly.
Scoop out the seeds and throw those. 
Place face down on aluminum foiled sheet pan and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Cooking time will very depending on the size of your squash.  I've never really paid attention but probably about 15-20 minutes per pound of squash.  To test if it's ready, just give it a little squeeze.  If it's soft, it's ready.  You can also cook face up, you just get a little brown on the top.
Out of the oven and cooled a little bit, take a fork and shred the squash and put in a bowl.  This is what it looks like.  You can add a couple teaspoons of Olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and serve like this or you can come back tomorrow and see what else I've done with it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

November reminds me of sweet potatoes.  Maybe because that was the only month that I ever saw them on our dinner table and I wasn't a fan.  The texture did me in.  But when I found this recipe on the food network website, courtesy of Tyler Florence, they've became a more regular event throughout the year. They were super easy to make and you can adjust the recipe for just one if you want.

What you'll need:

4 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 C Olive Oil
1/4 C Honey
2 t Ground Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Mix the oil, honey and cinnamon together and mix in potatoes. Lay out on sprayed cookie sheet in single layer. Add salt and pepper

Roast for about 40 minutes, until oven tender.

Take sweet potatoes out and transfer to serving platter.

Size of the potatoes

Slice the potatoes and chop

Toss with honey, Olive Oil and cinnamon and spread on pan. Bake

Sorry, I didn't get a photo finish because it got a bit chaotic but they basically looked like the last photos but a bit browned:)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

I've made a variation of these before but these are a little different.  It's a nice, quick option if you have to bring something to share. 

What you'll need:

Lemon Cake Mix
1 C White Chocolate Chips
1 container of Cool Whip (small one)

Mix together and put by spoonfuls on pan.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.  How easy is that?!?  Makes 30 cookies.

Why I'll Never Be A Target Employee

I need some extra money this holiday season and thought I’d fill out an application at Target.  I will admit that I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of wearing khaki and red or standing for hours at a register but  a girl has to do what a girl has to do when her kids are expensive. 

At any rate, I filled out the VERY long application on-line. Yes, there were tons of questions that were apparently testing my integrity and work ethic.  But ok, I get it.  Screen the bad eggs early.

I was called for an interview.  “We can interview you between 10-2, Monday-Thursday”. 

Ok, that’s not very helpful.  I’m applying for an evening/weekend position because those are the hours I’m free because I have a full-time job.  I explain to the women that I work in a school and it is difficult to get off during school hours.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  I’ll find someone who can interview you after 4.” 

“Thanks, I appreciate it”.

Next day I get a call from a different person.  “So, we can interview you between 10-2”.

I just want this done so I agree to come in at 11 after she promises the entire process takes “about 30-45 minutes”.  She promises because I explained that I can't be gone longer than an hour from work.

I get there and am told to sign in at a computer.  Another 10 minutes of questions like, “If you see your co-worker stealing, what is your best approach and what is the worst approach”?  With 5 multiple choice answers.  I refrain from being sarcastic and saying I’d help load the car.  I don’t think they’d get that humor so I answer appropriately.

I finish and I wait.  8 work emails answered later, a nice young girl comes out to interview me.

She hands me the days/hours that I said I could work and asks if it’s still correct.  I’ve given them 40 different hour combinations to schedule me in a week.  I said, “I only want to work 15 hours per week but those times are accurate except, I have a couple of days that won’t work and I can write them out through Christmas so you know now”.

“Ummmmmm, hang on”.  She has to consult with someone to see if that is an option because once you sign this paper you are saying that you’ll work ANY combination of those hours which she tells me when she gets back.

I said, “well I can break it down to the exact 15 hours and we won’t have to worry about it”. 

“No.  Let’s proceed.  Except it says you can only work until 10 p.m., we’re open until 11, getting you out of here at 11:15ish, that’s good?  Right”.  She smiles a little too brightly.

“Ummm no, it’s not good.  I have to be at work at 7 a.m. so that’s why I said I had to be done at 10”.


More discussion outside the room.  This has now taken a good 10 minutes for an easy 30 second conversation.  I’m irritated as is she.

First question that bubbles out of her mouth, “Why are you excited to be a Target Cashier”? 

Again, seriously?

I’ll admit I’m crabby at this point.  I know time is running short, I’m doing this over my lunch hour so I haven’t eaten and I’ve been sick with a cold for several days.  I’m not good when I’m sick or tired or hungry.  Put all three together and it’s a recipe for disaster.  My Mom also always told me to be honest so I said, “I’m not.  I need a part-time job and this is close to home”.  I smiled sweetly after I say it, does that count?  She doesn’t like that answer and I cannot understand why not.

“What cashiering experience do you have”?

“I was a 10-key professional.” I bubble back and smile  just as brightly.  Blank stare.  This girl has no idea what I’m talking about.  I explain that a 10-key professional is what Target cashiers used to be.  If you couldn’t 10-key, you couldn’t work at Target.  Blank stare. 

So to make her happy, I list off a few more things and include my volunteering at ice rinks and baseball fields.  “That’s nice but that doesn’t count”.  I say nothing but I’m thinking, why doesn’t that count?  I’m  stocking and cleaning floors and helping kids count out bubble gum and refilling the nacho cheese, the HOT nacho cheese, all while using the fricking cash register that the buttons aren't in any particular order Hot Cocoa is next to Popcorn instead of Hot Dog!  It’s not as easy as saying “paper or plastic”!

5 more mindless questions while I have to stop talking so she can write down my answers “before she forgets what I said”.  My answers are two sentences long at the most and she’s either not listening or she’s not processing what I said because I answered the question that she is now repeating.

Done!  Finally done.  But wait, she speaks... “you need to go on to the second interview with the manager”. 

“What?  Who are you?”

“I’m just an assistant”. 

“And, I’ll be doing what exactly”?

“Oh, more of this”.  SERIOUSLY!!??

I have now been there for over 45 minutes.

She drops me at the service counter again and leaves. 

I answer another 8 work emails and tell the person at the desk I can wait no longer.  The “process” that was supposed to last 30-45 minutes has now been close to an hour and I’m still not done.  She raises her eyebrows and I leave. 

The thing is, I don’t think I’m “above” working at Target even though that’s probably how it sounds.  I have friends and family who work for Target.  It’s a decent job but it’s a part-time job and I don’t understand why the process has to be that time consuming. Why can’t they have a set of interview questions for the teenagers that it’s their first job verses the 45 year old who has worked for the same company for almost 20 years and showed up in professional work clothes verses the ripped jeans and tennis shoes the next interviewee was wearing. And, why don’t they have interviews in the evenings?  If it had been in the evening, I could have stayed, my attitude would have been better.  If Target was a little more “ user friendly” to their PT help, they might actually have enough during the holidays.

I just received my thanks but your qualifications don’t fit our needs email.  I wonder if ripped jeans got one as well?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vegi Wild Rice Soup

I've made this before with Chicken but thought I'd get crazy and go Vegi on you.    You can also use any kind of vegetables you want, this is what I had and it worked for me. 

Here's what you're gonna need:

6 C Vegi Broth
1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic
1/2 C Carrots minced
2 stalks Celery minced
1/2 t Cayenne
few cranks of the pepper mill
1 T Garlic Pepper ~ if you don't have this, just use Garlic Powder
1  Can of your favorite Beans ~ I'd go Great Northern
1/2 Red Pepper chopped
1/2 Green Pepper chopped
3 cloves Garlic minced
1/2 medium Onion chopped
1/2 Zucchini chopped ~ or use whole and skip yellow squash
1/2 Yellow Squash chopped
1/4 lb of fresh Green Beans snapped into bite size pieces
Handful of Asparagus, snap off the tops and use those only. Use the stalks for a stir fry
1-2 t Olive Oil
1/2 to 1 t Red Pepper Flakes
2 - 2 1/2 C cooked Wild Rice or Brown Rice would work too.
Couple handfuls of fresh spinach and/or Kale chopped

And, this is how you'll use it all

6 C Vegi Broth
1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic
1/2 C Carrots minced
2 stalks Celery minced
1/2 t Cayenne
few cranks of the pepper mill
1 T Garlic Pepper ~ if you don't have this, just use Garlic Powder
1 Can Beans

Get this all on the stove and simmer at a medium heat for about 30 minutes.

1/2 Zucchini chopped
1/2 Yellow Squash chopped
1/2 Red Pepper chopped
1/2 Green Pepper chopped
3 cloves Garlic minced
1/2 medium Onion chopped
1/4 lb of fresh Green Beans snapped into bite size pieces
Handful of Asparagus, snap off the tops and use those only. Use the stalks for a stir fry
Toss with a slight drizzle of Olive Oil, maybe a couple teaspoons. Throw into cake pan, sprinkle with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes and roast for 10-12 minutes at 450.

Dump into soup pot.

Add 2-2 1/2 C cooked Wild Rice or Brown Rice would work too.

Cook for another 10 minutes just to blend the flavors. Add a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach and/or Kale, give it a stir and serve.
Makes 6 bowls.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chicken Lentil Soup

I'm on a soup kick and this one was worth making again so REPOST...

Using leftovers...In this case, salsa chicken. Yes, I came up with yet another recipe to use Salsa Chicken in and it was YUMMY! You could also use leftovers from crockpot chicken, your choice. Same as with beef, I keep adding chicken and broth to a "leftover" bowl in the freezer until it screams, "Make something comforting"!

Because you're starting with leftover chicken, this soup can be done in an hour. Rich, tastes like it's cooked all day on the stove in less than an hour! Crazy talk right?? Nope, give it a try.

Once again, I only have a final shot of the soup because it was that easy. So, easy that I almost forgot to take a photo since I was inhaling it for lunch.

3-4 C leftover salsa chicken
10C water
6 bouillon cubes or 10 C chicken broth replaces water and bouillon
12 baby Carrots chopped
I can Diced Tomatoes with green chili's
1 C Salsa
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 small onion minced
3/4 C dry Lentils
1 C frozen Corn
1 1/2 C fresh Green Beans
3 C Chopped Zucchini
2 t Olive Oil
2 t Red Pepper Flakes

Bring leftover chicken, water/bouillon or broth, salsa, carrots, tomatoes, garlic and onion to a boil in your soup pot. Turn down heat to a simmer and pour in 3/4 C dry lentils. Simmer for about 45-50 minutes stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.

Chop zucchini and green beans into bite size pieces, drizzle Olive Oil over top and season with 1/2 t of salt, 1/2 t Garlic Powder, 1 t of pepper. Toss together and put on cookie sheet. Into a 425 degree oven to roast for 30 minutes.

When lentils are soft, add corn, roasted vegis and red pepper flakes. Cook until heated through. Serves 7 and has 6 points per bowl.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday Krit!

Today is a Kristen's birthday!  We've been friends since I connected to her right arm on danceline when I was 15.  We've grown past our arms and our hearts are now connected for life. 

She's my partner in crime at the Zombie Crawl.

My secret keeper, my cheerleader on bad days and my hang around cool chick on good ones.  She knows me better than I know myself.  It's truly my privilege to call her my best friend.

Happy Birthday Krit!  Love ya Girlie!! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spicy Carnitas Soup

So you make a porketta roast for dinner.  Porketta reminds me of my childhood.  It's an EASY crockpot dinner, throw in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours (3 lb roast) with 1/2 C of water, it's done when a fork inserted easily breaks the meat apart. 

Sliced up or shredded and eaten on a yummy hard roll.  Accept that your children eat about 2 bites and decide it's too spicy.  What do you do after being irritated?

I make soup and call it what it reminds me of...carnitas, since a lot of people haven't heard of porketta.  The chopping helps with the irritation too;)  The result...YUMMY. 

Here's what you'll need or rather what I had in the house and used to make this soup:

2 lbs shredded, cooked Porketta ~ If you have the juice from making the roast add that too
6 C Beef Broth
6 C Chicken Broth
2 Carrots diced
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 small Onion minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes with green Chilis
1 can Pinto Beans rinsed ~ or Black Beans rinsed
2 Potatoes diced ~ or 1 C Minute Rice (I chose potato this time around)
1 C frozen Corn
Handful of fresh Cilantro chopped

Heat pork, broth, carrots, garlic, onion and tomatoes until boiling.  Boil for 10 minutes or until carrots are soft.  Add beans, corn and pototoes or rice.  Cook until potato or rice is soft (about 6-10 minutes)  Turn off heat, add chopped cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.