Monday, October 29, 2007

life in the tent

As much as I loved the comfort food pasta dish below, it didn't stave off the chest cold for me. I spent 2 1/2 nights of misery, falling asleep too late, waking up often, even possibly pulling a muscle right below my ribs from all of the infernal coughing. Finally in the middle of the night I remembered a tent-like structure I had made for Flash a few years ago. Granted, it was easier then because he was in a crib, but my Nyquil-addled mind still managed to put together a respectable sheet tent. The humidifier pumps steamy air directly into the door of the tent and FINALLY I can get some sleep. The whole setup lends a sort of 19th-century feel to my bedroom. I should have some mustard plasters and leeches at the ready to complete the scene.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

pasta shock

So everyone in our family has a horrible cold and we were in need of some comfort food. I modified a recipe from Food & Wine Magazine's Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook and made this:

Homemade Penne & Cheese

3 cups dry whole wheat penne pasta
3-4 tablespoons butter (or butter-type spread)
1/8 cup half and half or milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (I used white cheddar)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons bacon pieces
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (opt.)

Boil pasta according to directions on the package. While the pasta cooks, grate the cheese. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Over very low heat, combine the pasta and remaining ingredients (except the bacon and breadcrumbs) until the cheese is melted and everything is creamy. Transfer to a 2 qt baking pan. Sprinkle with bacon and breadcrumbs. Bake @ 350 for 25 minutes. (Baking can be skipped; just sprinkle with bacon and breadcrumbs and eat it!)

I made some steamed broccoli on the side and it tasted so nice. Super Q and I enjoyed it on the front lawn as a picnic while Flash did lots of tricks on his razor scooter in the driveway. Hooray for fall weather!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

isn't this one of the signs of the last days?

Fanny packs are back. (!)

the mean friend

I just listened to the greatest This American Life podcast. You can find it here. It's called "The Allure of the Mean Friend," and I don't even need to explain it to you because you've almost certainly wondered about mean popular people and why such a person* even exists. (Shouldn't popular and mean be mutually exclusive?)

It's so funny and right-on. I highly recommend it for a distraction as you fold laundry or cut out 120 construction paper pumpkins... or map the human genome or whatever your current project is. (The feminist in me wouldn't let me leave it at laundry and pumpkins).

If you're more in the mood for a heartbreaking yet hopeful story about parents who beat the odds, listen to this one. The second "act" is about a boy adopted from Romania. The first 7 years of his life were spent in a crib, shared with one other boy. He was allowed out of the crib to eat and use the bathroom. Not surprisingly, he has a difficult time with "attaching to" or trusting others. His mother worked with him for 7 years. I won't spoil the rest, but you will be amazed.

*If I could track it down, I would post a picture of one such person from my high school yearbook. Suffice it to say that the photographer had to move back and re-frame the picture in order to accommodate her incredibly HUGE 80s halo of hair. She also had many matching sets of suede skirts and boots. I'm sure she's a great person now and everything, but she was one mean girl back then.

Hallo-teen fiction

You've undoubtedly heard about this book, Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer, an LDS mom living in AZ. I read it yesterday in preparation for book club next week. The plot was good; it moved at a fairly fast clip. I kept having to remind myself that it is young adult fiction, though; I think I expected more out of it in terms of style and voice. Actually, scratch that, some of my favorite books are young adult fiction (e.g. Harriet the Spy) . I have to put the cover of Harriet in here because I LOVE the old-school illustrations from the original edition.

Not that you can see it well, but Harriet is definitely ahead of her time with the slouchy jeans, hoodie, and -- black Converse low tops, maybe?

Anyway, back to Twilight. I was intensely curious to read this book after hearing a bit about its origin (a dream the author had) and the facts about the author herself, not to mention the subject matter: a girl whose first love turns out to be a vampire. As I said, the plot draws you in, but I found lots of repetition of descriptive phrases and the like. This is annoying to me; I'm just picky about style, I guess, which is not to say I have personally mastered it at all. I tend toward the rambling phrase and overuse of parentheses. As if you hadn't noticed.

Monday, October 08, 2007

smooshy cooking

Here's my new way to trick my boys into helping me cook:

Items needed:

1 ziplock bag (gallon size)
recipe for something that can be smooshed (we made ricotta/parmesan filling for pasta shells)
a little restraint (on the part of the kids)

They had a great time smooshing the ricotta, egg, parmesan, etc in the bag. Then we cut off the bottom corner and piped the filling into the shells. They want to try it with cookies today. Or maybe brownies would work.

I have to admit that part of the appeal on their end is the gross-out factor, but that's ok with me.

I also wanted to pass on this recipe that I have been loving for a few years. It's from Lindsay Olives, and I like it in pitas as well as on couscous or rice. My kids like it, too, although not all kids are into feta cheese. You might substitute goat cheese instead (or another mild, soft cheese).

Pan Grilled Chicken with Olives & Plum Tomatoes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons poultry magic seasoning mix* or garlic salt
2 cups diced plum tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can Lindsay Ripe large, extra large or jumbo olives, drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil or parsley (optional)
2 cups hot cooked couscous (2/3 cup uncooked)
Coat both sides of chicken with 2 teaspoons of the oil; sprinkle 1-1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning over chicken. Heat a ridged grill pan or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook 4 to 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives and remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon seasoning. Transfer chicken and couscous to serving plates; top with the olive mixture, cheese and basil. Makes 4 servings.

*Any seasoning blend such as herb poultry seasoning mix may be substituted. To substitute garlic salt, reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon. Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon over the chicken and stir 1/4 teaspoon into the olive mixture.

Nutrients per Serving: Calories: 419 Calories from fat: 165 Total fat: 18g Monounsaturated fat: 9g Cholesterol: 82mg Sodium: 838mg Total Carbohydrates: 31g Dietary Fiber: 2g Protein: 34g

creepy as you please

An ad for these dolls has been haunting my dh; I taped it up on the outside of the shower door so he had to see it every morning. I think they look so real that they're actually creepy. And the ad text is hilarious:

Sweet things often come in small packages - like these poseable baby dolls in the Heavenly Handfuls™ Sweet As You Please collection, available exclusively from Ashton-Drake. Measuring only 5" long, these miniature realistic baby dolls will warm your heart as you cradle them in the palm of your hand.

Created by doll artist Dorothy Steven and masterfully handcrafted by talented artisans, these cuddly cuties are exquisite marvels of breathtaking realism. The finest quality artist's vinyl allows for incredibly lifelike detailing, down to the creases on the bottoms of the baby doll's precious little feet. With their soft bodies, these miniature dolls are fully poseable and costumed in a variety of delightful ensembles, complete with crocheted booties. Darlings this sweet can't last - don't wait to bring home your bundles of joy. Order now!



Friday, October 05, 2007


Making me happy today:

  • Delaware, a song by Don Peris. The video is clips of home movies from amusement parks, trips to the lake, etc. It's very sweet. Home movies always make me do a weird hysterical laugh/cry thing.
  • Sound driver located! Music on computer now accessible!
  • Chicken enchiladas with green sauce for dinner. I have been such a Mexican food JUNKIE lately. Breakfast, lunch and dinner today were composed of black beans, chips, salsa, cheese, and chicken, in different combinations and with varying degrees of spice. It's a sickness.
  • Coke zero, also breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
  • Watching my boys hug and kiss pink balloons for Hannah before releasing them into an incredibly clear blue sky. A bittersweet goodbye.
  • The Office ( I know it's totally predictable by this point, but I still like the writing and some of the characters)
  • Leaf rubbings
  • Letting a friend talk me into a manicure and realizing (with some degree of relief/satisfaction) that I'm still not a manicure person.
  • Patty's wonderful news about her son. (She was awaiting the results of a test which determines autistic disorders. You can see a link to her blog at right----> It's called Pancakes Gone Awry)
  • Bend the Rules Sewing. And the return of my sewing machine from a friend. Perfect timing.
  • Freezer paper shirts, an occasional obsession of mine. The upswing of the obsession usually coincides with lots of birthday parties for my kids' friends and an unwillingness to spend $10 each on crappy plastic toys from Target. Not that I don't go the crappy-toys-from-Target route, I certainly do, but a handmade gift is so nice, don't you think? (I'm loathe to ask the same question of the recipients of these shirts).
  • Bulleted lists.