Saturday, December 22, 2018

Chocolate-Dipped Cookies and Fabulous Reviews

Ladies and gentlemen, there is an absolutely ludicrous amount of sugar in my home at the moment.

So many cookies.  So much snack mix.  So many tubs of frosting in the fridge.

A few weeks ago, before my house had been inundated by sugary holiday madness, I created a recipe for Allrecipes.  I ate some, I froze some, I sent some to my parents, I called it a day.

I just happened to notice that Allrecipes published my recipe and clicked on over to see it.
Ummm...guys, it has 9 reviews from the last two days alone and every single one of them is glowing.

Talk about an ego boost!
Well world, I'm glad you're enjoying them!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Cranberry-Turkey Pinwheels and Too Many Leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving my husband left to go visit family for a few days.

Do you know what that means?
He left me with boatloads of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where the menu simply must stay fairly set.
I mean sure, you can add or subtract a dish here or there.

But we have to have turkey (rather, my daughter requires turkey).
We have to have cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, corn, Mac and cheese, deviled eggs, sausage balls, pumpkin pie, and other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Oh, also my son- who generally just doesn't eat most of what we eat- got very excited about "Thanksgiving pizza!" this year.
Read: I made a bunch of food, placed tiny bites of it on a plate for him, and then served him a single-serving Digiorno.

He was incredibly pleased with his meal.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Sausage Balls and the Perfect Recipe

I was 22 when I ate my first sausage ball.

That's right- I spent over two decades of my life completely oblivious to these fantastic little balls of goodness that have been ever-present at every southern get-together I have attended in the intervening years.
That's 22 years of my life I'll just never recover.
Ugh.  That's a hard fact to swallow.

The first time I lived anywhere outside of California I was stationed in Mississippi- which was an eye-opening experience for sure.
I'll lead with the fact that Mississippi is lush and green and beautiful.
I'll close with the fact that Mississippi has the biggest bugs I've ever encountered and more means of preparing catfish than I'd ever considered.

(FYI- I despise catfish.)

So anyway, first I spent four years in Mississippi, then I moved to Tennessee.
There simply isn't a gathering or holiday that doesn't include the ubiquitous sausage ball.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

In Which the Grinch Makes Delicious Caramel Apple Butter

I've been a bit of a grouch this week- just ask my family.
I'm just tired.

It feels like I'm being pulled in a million directions lately.
School (Which I love- just not the math part).

My family (my everything- but that's a job unto itself).

The house (which needs to be cleaned).

The car (that has been at the  dealership for a month now).

The bills.  The errands.  The laundry.  The yard.
The being a good everything to everyone.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dulce de Leche Bars and the Holiday Season

Is it just my family that's really excited about the holiday season this year?

Normally I roll my eyes when I see the Thanksgiving and Christmas things hitting the shelves the day after Halloween but I can honestly say that this year I didn't have that reaction.

I don't know what it is, but there's something about this year that has everyone under our roof ready.
While we've held off getting out the tree and lights, it's something we're all looking forward to with a great deal of anticipation.  My daughter and I have been listening to Christmas music every morning on the way to school for at least a week now and we've already made it through several Christmas movies.

Not White Christmas, though- that one must be saved for right after we finish decorating the tree and enjoyed with gingersnaps.

It's kind of our thing.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Flavorful Stew and Changed Minds

I used to hate sweet potatoes.

No, hate isn't quite the right word.
I despised them.  Loathed them.
No candied yams at Thanksgiving, no sweet potato fries- none of that for me, thank you.
I was resolute in my stance that they were one of the world's most disgusting vegetables.

Then I found myself the mother of a picky eater.

My son is incredibly limited in the foods that he will eat, and, while I will spare you the details, trying to convince him to branch out was a traumatizing experience for all involved.
Yay for sensory issues!

Anyway, it became evident early on that if I was going to get that child to eat anything with any redeeming nutritional value at all I was going to have to sneak it into him- a task that is far easier said than done.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Meat, Cheese, and Impressive Appetizers

Things I should be doing right now:
Writing a research paper.  Studying for my Spanish midterm.  Reviewing for my math class.  Reading next week's economics materials.  Cleaning my kitchen.  Doing laundry.  Vacuuming.

Things I am currently doing:
Sitting on the couch in my pajamas actively avoiding any of those things.

I know that means I have more work waiting for me tomorrow...but in this exact moment I'm ok with that.  I may feel differently in the morning!

I needed a break this weekend, and I took one.
Actually, I cooked.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Cuban Sandwiches, Finger Foods, and Much Needed Breaks

Once upon a time, long before I went back to school and found myself with zero free time, I made Cuban sandwiches.

If you look at pretty much anything I wrote here before returning to school, you'll notice that I generally went all out.  I did it all from scratch- I tend to be a bit of an overachiever.

I made Cuban bread for goodness' sakes.
The pork?  I marinated that in a citrus marinade and it was fabulous, just fabulous.

Do you know what I don't have time for these days?
Any of that.
I have a freezer full of convenience foods and am now well versed in which brand and variety of frozen lasagna my family prefers.

Part of me hates that.
The other part?
Well...she's pretty darn proud of me, to be honest.
My family is fed and happy- that's what matters.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rocky Road Ice Cream and Weird Kids

A month or so ago, as I was deep in the throes of my ice cream obsession, my 12 year old asked (more like begged...) me to make Rocky Road Ice Cream instead of something more fun, like Honey Lavender or Cherry Pie à la Mode.  So of course I made it, right?

But then I served her a bowl of that ice cream she had begged for.

She wrinkled her nose.

"Are these...NUTS?!?" she gasped.

Ummm...yes.  That's kind of what makes that Rocky Road ice cream you've been enjoying for years rocky.

She followed with, "...is this MARSHMALLOW?!?"

Yes, my child.  Also, you love marshmallows.  Also marshmallows are always in Rocky Road ice cream.

Kids...they're a weird, finicky breed.

I was confused by the reaction, to be honest.
She asked me to pick out the nuts and the marshmallows, for her.
I- of course- refused.


Peach Jam and Unusual Uses for Amaretto

It wasn't long ago that I was talking about my huge collection of mason jars and how much I missed canning.
I kind of did something about that.

It started with that Raspberry Peach Jam, followed soon after with a huge batch of Cherry Jam as soon as the price of cherries completed its summer price plummet.

Then we started traveling.  My husband volunteered me to bring a lot of the food on our trips (talk about some crazy packed coolers...) and I decided that the best way to transport things like Barbecue Sauce (for the massive amounts of meat my husband smoked, vacuum sealed, and froze to bring with us) and salsa (you know...for eating...) was to can it and save the cooler space.

I also made this.
Spiked Peach Jam with Ginger.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Magic Cheeses and Vanishing Summers

I don't know that I've ever had a summer fly by quite as quickly as this one.

It feels like in the past, at least in the years that I've been a stay-at-home parent, the season has slowly meandered around us, enveloping the kids and I in it's warm summer magic.  Leisurely mornings, fun adventures, afternoons spent with the heat of the sun on our skin offset by cool water of the pool followed by lunches inhaled by wet-haired, freckle-skinned children.

Not this summer.

Don't get me wrong, it's been a great summer full of travel adventures.
As a family we've loaded up my car and driven through five states.  We've visited aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, first cousins once removed, brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, and all manner of family pets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ice Cream Contests and Cherry Pie

So, if you're keeping track, I've made something like five different kinds of ice cream this summer- and June isn't even over yet.

I'm actually at the point where I can't make any more until my family finishes off what I've already made because there just isn't room in the freezer anymore.

This month the Allrecipes Allstars were challenged to create a fun, interesting new flavor of ice cream- and my goodness did they rise to the challenge!  Brian came up with Raspotle Sorbet, Nikki created a number of fun varieties like Sriracha Lime Ice Cream, and Pat went another interesting direction with Earl Grey Tea and Lime Ice Pops.

I certainly have some creative fellow Allstars!

I threw my hat in the ring with a new ice cream creation too- though mine wasn't quite as out there as flavor profiles go.

Me?  Well I created this recipe: Cherry Pie à la Mode Ice Cream.
Doesn't sound too weird, does it?

It's not.  Lets be honest.
Flavor-wise at least.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lemon Ice Cream and Summer Obsessions

I have been going a little ice cream crazy lately.
Ok...maybe not just a little.  At this moment I have Lavender Honey, Banana Pudding, Rocky Road, Cherry Pie à la Mode, and this Lemon ice cream in my freezer...and I have more cream in the fridge just begging to be used.

I'm on a roll, guys.
I have mastered the art of tempering eggs for custard bases and have moved on to experimenting with my own recipes.

I have way more ice cream than my family can possibly eat in that freezer already!
It's just so much fun to play around with these recipes.

I've always wanted to try a lemon ice cream so when I saw this recipe I knew that I was going to have to give it a whirl- especially since I already had all of the ingredients on hand.
Once I realized that there was just no saying "no" to this recipe!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Easy Flautas and Flavorful Chicken

I warned you already that I had a few recipes to share with terrible pictures- sorry about that.

Every once in a while when that happens I find myself wondering if I should even bother posting about some great recipe that I've come across- I just can't stand the thought of not sharing a wonderful recipe just because I didn't get an equally wonderful photo.

This time around I'm wrapping up the fried recipes.  Remember when I said I'd made several fried things the other day while I had the oil out?

I made the Beef and Bean Chimichangas, the Deep Fried Jalapeño Slices, and I finished things off with these Easy Chicken Flautas.

In true Nora fashion, I couldn't resist the opportunity to up the flavor profile in this one just a touch, so rather than starting with plain cooked chicken I threw a couple of chicken breasts in the crockpot and covered them with salsa.  After cooking on low overnight they really don't even take any effort to shred since they're so moist and falling apart- running a fork through them just a little is enough to break them apart into shreds.  I drained off most of the excess liquid but kept all of the peppers and onions from the salsa mixed in with my chicken.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Delicious Fried Foods and Bad Photos

So, I have something to apologize for- I have several recipes to share with you that have less-than-stellar pictures to go with them.

Sorry about that.

Dinner was ready, the lighting wasn't great, and my family was hungry so I rushed through them.


I can be a bit of a perfectionist about things sometimes and it really irks me to share pictures that stink.

Just rest assured that the recipes they accompany do not stink.
In fact, they're pretty wonderful.

So just hang in there with me for a few posts, ok?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Beef and Bean Chimichangas and Successful Dinners

Mexican food tends to be a go-to in our home.
First of all, there's a good chance we have all of the ingredients on hand- canned beans I can doctor, rice, tortillas, beef or chicken in the freezer, etc.

At the very least, I've always got the basics, which makes for a quick and easy dinner when I'm drawing a blank at the end of the day.

Recently, I was having one of those moments where the day was coming to a close and I simply had no idea what I was going to throw together for dinner.  I could have just thrown all of the ingredients on the counter and proclaimed it taco night, but I felt like making something new.  It was then that I came across this recipe for Beef and Bean Chimichangas and decided to give it a go.

Now...this recipe is supposed to be somewhat healthy.  Healthy...ish?
However, despite my best intentions, I ended up frying dinner.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sweet and Spicy Chicken and More Fun Grilling

Two years ago I threw my husband a luau-themed birthday celebration.
It was kind of, well, amazing.

It wasn't big or anything, just wonderful family that came to visit- but it was a bit of a milestone birthday and I wanted to make sure that we did something special to celebrate.

I was, however, at a loss.
I seriously had no idea how to make this big day special for him in a way that he would like.

I don't know exactly when the Hawaiian theme idea struck me, but it was after months and months of stressing over what I was going to do.  I'm not good at this stuff.  I really wish I was, it seems like one of those things most women are born with.

All I know is, somewhere along the line as his big day approached the idea struck me, I deemed it brilliant, and I ran with it.

I pretty much bought Party City out of tropical decor.
I bought him a grass skirt, Hawaiian shirt, and coconut bra (yes, you read that correctly).
I made a very beach-y playlist on Apple Music.
I created a super tropical menu.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Banana Pudding Ice Cream and Underrated Desserts

I think pudding is a highly underrated food.

Has there ever been a time when downing a spoonful of that cool, creamy, concoction didn't make you happy?
I think not.

Chocolate pudding, pistachio pudding, tapioca pudding- all excellent.
Even custard.  Oh my do I miss that Jell-O brand custard I grew with!
I may have overindulged in that particular treat just a wee bit when I was pregnant with my son.  :-)

Banana pudding, though- that's something special.
While all of the other puddings are generally served with little fanfare, remaining largely under-appreciated in the world of desserts, banana pudding has managed to escape a similar fate.

No, banana pudding brings to mind recollections of family meals and happy times.  Nilla wafers and whipped cream.  Sometimes soft and sweet slices of banana- though you can keep those for yourself.
I'll stick with the pudding and Nilla wafers.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Easy Meals and Remembering to Plan

I often don't think to menu plan.  More often than not I find myself on a giant trip to the store- often rushed and frantically crammed in between the end of class and picking kids up from school- restocking things I need and buying whatever meats happen to be on sale that week and then backtracking from there to figure out what I can make with them once I get home.

The problem with that is that while it's great to have a freezer full of meat I often find myself having to make multiple small trips to the store for whatever other ingredients I need to go with it.

Do you ever feel like you live at the grocery store?
I do.  I'm there way too often.  They know me.

When I actually stop to think ahead and plan out menus and shopping lists life gets much easier.  I may not know exactly what I'm making each night but I do have a set of recipes for the week to choose from and already know that all of my ingredients are on hand.  I should really do that more often than I do!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Must Make Marinades and Summer Meals

Generally when we grill at our house we keep the meat fairly basic: Santa Maria style tri-tip, pork loin, link sausage.  Nothing too weird.  The meat is really for my family anyway so I tend to spare it from my ceaseless attempts at new recipes and just leave it the way I know they like it.  I get to play with the sides, and that's usually enough for me.

Sometimes, though...I like to mix it up.

When I told my husband about the marinades I had our meats soaking in the other day I was fully prepared to get a little push-back.
But I didn't.  Unexpected, but nice!

In addition to that delicious Chicken Club Pasta Salad, I marinated Grilled Chicken with Spicy Mango Glaze (more on that soon!) and this Scrumptious Korean Steak.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sunny Days and Loaded Salads

There's something about warm, beautiful weather that makes me want to live outside.
I want to soak up the sun, bask in it, feel it warming my face and arms.

I do not mind the heat.  Not one bit.
I absolutely drool over those beautiful, built-in outdoor kitchens one encounters on Pinterest and dream of warm days spent in outdoor living spaces.
One day.

While I don't have my dreamy outdoor kitchen situation quite yet (lets get me through school before we jump into another house- at least that's what I keep telling my husband...) I am definitely all for grilling out and fun summer-worthy meals as often as possible when it's as beautiful out as it has been lately.

After church on Sunday we came home and I got to work prepping side dishes while my husband got the grill going for the meat I had marinating.

One might think I get tired of trying new salad recipes.
One would be wrong.  :-)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Lavender Honey Ice Cream and Perfect Summer Desserts

The first time I drove over the mountains from Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina it felt like I'd come home.  It was more like what I'd left behind in California than anything I'd experienced in Mississippi or Tennessee.  Quirky, funky, foodie-filled, artsy.

Very Nora.

I could take a deep, mountain air-filled breath and feel my whole body relax in that same way it does when you slip into your pj pants and collapse on the couch at the end of the day.
It felt comfortable.

My husband and I quickly made it our weekend getaway destination when we had a day or two away from the kids.  We wandered the meandering aisles and cozy spaces of Battery Park Book Exchange, we followed very Nora-ish type lunches with grown-up beverages and giddily strolled the art at Woolworth Walk and scooped up fun hats and silly jewelry from cute stores.

Ok...all of that was definitely me enjoying Asheville, but my husband was generally a good sport about tagging along on my adventures as long as there was the promise of good food and adult beverages.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Warm Days and Fun Salads

I can't overstate the fact that I love side dishes.
So much.

Bring on that (often) carb-y goodness!
I want the pasta salads, the potato salads, and the grain salads.
I want the beans, the rolls, and everything else that you can fit on my plate.

My family might be dreaming of all of the grilled meats that summer barbecues bring, but me?

I don't remember what initially drew my attention to this recipe, but as soon as I saw it I knew that I needed to make it.  It's absolutely perfect for warm summer days, so light and refreshing.  In all honestly I had it for lunch yesterday, so it's definitely capable of holding it's own as a meal in and of itself, however I think it would also hold up to some grilled chicken or salmon if you don't have vegetarian leanings.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Raspberry Peach Jam and DIY Fun

I used to have a backyard garden.
Every year it got more and more crazy, it's borders expanding, creeping, pushing farther than the previous year.  A couple of feet larger on one end, a couple of feet on the other.

It was so much fun.
I am not the most organized gardener.  My tomatoes grew into something resembling a jungle, my zucchini plants multiplied in numbers each year, growing big and beautiful with giant specimens that I don't even particularly like to eat.  I had an ever-growing number of different kinds of peppers and massive bunches of cayenne strung up to dry by my dining room window.

My husband would till my spot in the backyard each May, shaking his head and asking me hesitantly if I was sure I needed this much garden.

Yes.  Yes I did.
It's a bit addicting, watching a plot of brown earth grow and flourish.  The scent of tomato plants in the air as you meander through them, plucking their bright red fruit.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Strawberry Shortcakes and 70's Weddings

I remember not liking a lot of things as a kid that seem utterly absurd to me now.

Cream cheese.
Sour cream.
Dark chocolate.
Brussels sprouts.

I suppose that list is fairly normal when it comes to kids' tastes- isn't it strange that most of those foods are on my list of grown-up favorites?  I could definitely go for a toasted bagel slathered with a healthy dose of cream cheese right about now!

The list of things I used to love and I now have no interest in whatsoever has been turned on it's head a little as well.  I remember going crazy for gooey, sickly-sweet caramel treats, drink mixes whose flavor can best be described as "red", and scrambling for the slice of cake with the giant frosting flower at birthday parties.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Summer Mornings and Perfect Pancakes

I have always been an utter failure when it comes to making pancakes.

They don't seem that difficult, do they?
This shouldn't be something I can't do.

Yet I gave up on making pancakes years ago.  They just never turned out correctly no matter what recipe I used.

When my son turned seven a few weeks ago he asked me to make pancakes for breakfast.
What was I going to do, tell him "no"?
Of course not.  Especially not with this kiddo who is normally so picky about food.
Pancakes are something he was never open to eating until recently, so if pancakes were what he wanted, I was going to make pancakes.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Decadent Appetizers and Low-Key Birthdays

I turned another year older yesterday.

I've got to say, while getting older is certainly far superior to the next best option birthdays certainly lack the excitement that accompanied them when I was younger.  This may be the last year that I can say with certainty that I'm in my mid-thirties- possibly next year, but after that I'm certainly in late 30's territory.  Aging is weird.

My husband wanted to take me out for dinner last night, but if there's one thing that we know about me at this point it's that I love a good cheese board.  I told him that all I wanted was cheese and prosecco and he obliged.

So last night we feasted- a multitude of cheese, crackers, a loaf of sourdough bread from the German bakery near my sister-in-law's house that I had been stashing away in the freezer, flavored olive oil, and these guys- Honey Balsamic Bacon Goat Cheese and Pistachio Bites.

Boy, that's a mouthful of a name, isn't it?
Trust me, you want these in your mouth.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Chicken Fiesta Salad and Using Leftovers

I often have a problem when it comes to my husband's grilling, and it has nothing to do with his abilities.

Even as a not-so-lover of meat for the most part I can appreciate his skills at the grill, from smokey, moist, cut-it-with-a-fork pork loin to salmon and veggies for me and pretty much anything else you throw his way- he's up for the challenge.

The problem is he's a little too eager sometimes.  While he and our daughter are the only two in our house that can eat their weight in steak he has a tendency to cook for an army and the end result is that I find myself staring down a daunting amount of leftovers in the fridge.

Second problem?
Neither one of them is terribly keen on leftovers, and I'm not fond of wasting food.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pasta Shapes and Picky Eaters

I'm of the opinion that there are few- if any- better shapes of pasta than cavatappi.

Not only are those corkscrews fun to to look at, the mouthfeel can't be beat.

Yes, I said "mouthfeel."  It's the only word that really works.  The textured outside, hollow inside, and curly shape are just perfection.  It's the only pasta shape I will ever use to make my famous macaroni and cheese.

The folds and frilly edges of farfalle are fun and the ruffled, bell-shaped twists of campanelle are wonderful as well.

But cavatappi...in my mind, it's pretty much pasta perfection.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Wanderlust and Wedding Cookies

Sometimes it drives my family a little crazy that I rarely make the same recipe twice, that I'm always on the lookout for something new to make as I inhale cookbooks as if they were novels and compile lists of recipes that I imagine myself making one day.

My kitchen cabinet is full of books whose pages tell the story of Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East.

I want to take it all in.  Every recipe, every ingredient, every cuisine.
I want to travel, see, and experience.
I want to see it all.  Do it all.  Try it all.
I want to learn everything possible about every subject I encounter.
Take in everything I can and weave it into myself.

I guess loving me requires, if not an equal desire to absorb the bigness of the world, at the very least an appreciation of my awe of it and some tolerance of my love of whimsy.

It seems such an unfathomable waste of this fantastical world not to experience as much as one is able.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bread Dipping Oil and Girls' Weekends

My sister-in-law and I are kind of two peas in a pod.

I don't see her nearly enough, but every once in awhile I manage to get away for a weekend for some girl time and we get to hang out eating the things no one else wants to eat and drinking the things no one else wants to drink and doing the things no one else wants to do.

It's kind of wonderful, to be honest.  :-)

While we may try new restaurants or wineries or go to a museum or get a pedicure during the day, our evenings are always the same.  We pop in a movie that we will only half watch (if that), pour some wine, and create one amazing spread on the coffee table on which to nosh while we talk and laugh.

It's dinner and dessert and evening snacks all rolled into one.

There's always a baguette and crackers.
An amazing spread of cheeses.
Hummus, maybe some tapenade.
And flavored olive oil in which to dip our bread.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cuban Sandwich Sliders and the Joy of Easy Meals

At some point in the past few months I made a batch of Cuban Sandwich Sliders.

I have no idea why, or when.

All I know is that at some point in the craziness of life, school, and family of the past few months I made them and I photographed them.

Those pictures have been chilling on my camera ever since.
I didn't even download them.

What can I say...life's been a little crazy.
Another more, ahem, adult student and I were laughing with each other before class one day about the number of convenience foods we'd been relying on since school started- time to cook has been a luxury, most of my meals have gone un-photographed, and my goodness I certainly haven't had time to blog about them!

I have some catching up to do this summer, don't I?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Grilling Chicken and New Sauces

When my husband asked if he could take me out for Mother's Day I said "yes."

To be honest, I really had zero desire to adult.  Normally I would jump at the chance to whittle down my ever-growing list of bookmarks on Yelp, but after going full speed ahead with studying and finals for the past couple of weeks while simultaneously trying to manage my tooth pain until I had time to get into the endontist's office for a root canal, I was just kind of done.  I wanted to stick close to home and become very familiar with my couch.

So a couple of days after he asked me about Mother's Day I asked if he would mind terribly if we just stayed home, grilled out, and watched movies.
Of my choosing, of course, because it was Mother's Day and everything.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Warm, Happy Days and Fruity Drinks

Full disclosure, I'm pretty much a wine girl.

I don't like beer.  I don't like super-sweet drinks.  I do enjoy a margarita on occasion, but overall?
Wine.  Sometimes I might even do something crazy and unexpected like order a dry white instead of a dry red!

I'm crazy predictable in this area.

Yet the happy warm-weather bug bit me the other day and when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to cook I found a recipe for a Blue Hawaiian.

They're just so pretty!
I had never tried one, but I do love a frozen, slushy drink once in a while.

So off I headed to the liquor store for some blue curaçao (which the lady behind the counter excitedly pointed out that I had pronounced correctly- yay!) and cheap rum (because...I mean...why spend money on the good stuff when it's going in a blender with fruit juice?).

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day and Macaroni Salad

Life is good, folks.
So good.

After taking an incredibly long break from school I'm now two semesters in and going strong.
I can't tell you how much I'm loving it.
My husband laughed at me the other day when I let it slip that I was sad the semester was coming to a close and I wouldn't have class over the summer.

Things I've learned so far on my adventure:
1) I'm still an overachiever.
2) I'd forgotten how much I love writing...but I love writing.
3) My kids are wonderful, amazing, people who both seem to like that I'm in school now too
4) I do not handle a cluttered house or lack of time to cook dinner well.  Working on that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Chicken Fried Steak and Weird Diets

When I was eighteen my best friend and I moved out together.
We got a cheap apartment in a sketchy area of a sketchy little sleepy town ten minutes north of our hometown.

We were the first of our friends to move out and have adult responsibilities, though with the perspective of age I look back at those years and shake my head at the idea that I was anything close to an actual adult at that point in my life.

That period of the post-high school version of playing house left me with some amazing memories, not the least of which involved our friends surfing our inflatable couch down the apartment stairs.
Our poor neighbors!

Anyway, one thing that our apartment was never, ever without was a package of chicken fried steak in the freezer.
No, not for me.  I can appreciate the flavor but I'm not really a meat-and-potatoes type.

But my best friend was.
Oh my gosh was she.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tropical Mango Salsa Scallops and a Terrible Picture

I'm just going to lead with the fact that this is one ugly picture.
I went back and forth and back and forth trying to decide whether I should post it, but in the end the fact that this is one *incredible* recipe won out and I decided to share it with you and trust that sometimes when there are amazing scallops to be eaten a girl just doesn't want to take the time to deal with lighting and such at the end of the day.

Priorities,  you know?

I love scallops SO much.  Sea scallops, specifically.
They're one of my favorite foods in the entire world and if they weren't prohibitively expensive to eat regularly I'd eat them pretty much all the time.

The other day I needed a scallop fix and I decided to go with something fruity.
I LOVE fruity salsas (remember that Pineapple Salsa I made over the summer?) and these Mango Salsa Scallops sounded right up my culinary alley.  I was definitely right.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs and Unhealthy Obsessions

I've mentioned before that I have a certain penchant for the less-than-gourmet inventory of a Chinese buffet.  I can't help it- load me up with a variety of dishes coated with several different thick, sweet, and savory sauces and I'm a happy girl.

I can't be trusted in the face of sesame chicken, orange chicken, General Tso's chicken, whatever chicken, or any of those fried tasty bites (I'm looking at you Crab Rangoon...)  with an *ahem* generous serving of sweet-and-sour sauce.
Seriously.  I have problems and I know it.  :-)

The other day I was craving something in that vein when I came across this recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs.  I already had all of the ingredients on hand (always a plus) and they seemed like the perfect topping for the fairly ridiculous amount of basmati rice I'd made the night before.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lemon Bars and Fellowship Halls

Do you know what I miss about the churches in which I grew up?
The fellowship hall after our service.

I grew up in two churches- first Methodist, then Baptist, then back to Methodist.
Both churches were super down with cookies and coffee after service and fairly regular post-church Sunday potlucks.
I really, really miss that.

It's something I struggle with as an introvert who constantly forces herself to fight against social anxieties.
Having a close-knit church family was something I took for granted.  I was surrounded by the most wonderful group of people, a surrogate family who loved me and stood beside me as I grew up.

An earthquake deemed it unusable in 2003.  It was torn down, the property sold- all of that history replaced by new development.
But the people?
My church family?
When I got divorced they emailed me.
When I was a single parent struggling I was supported.
I still get birthday and Christmas cards after all of these years away- and so do my children, despite never have even lived near those wonderful people.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Corn Chowder and Shocking Discoveries

My husband dropped a bombshell on me a few days ago- a big one.
Something truly shocking.

After over nine years together he decided to tell me something major he'd never shared before...
corn chowder is one of his favorite things in the world.

Can you believe it?
Nine years!  It's like I don't even know the man.

Seriously though, I have cooked more meals than I can possibly begin to tally over that time and not once has he thought to tell me how much he'd enjoy it if I'd just make some simple corn chowder.

You know I had to right that wrong immediately.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Quick Breads and Easy Gifts

I've baked a lot of bread in my life.
Loads of it.

It started in middle school and the trend has continued well into adulthood.
While I have made many types of bread over the years, I honestly don't make many quick breads.
The entire concept of working with yeast- that living, consuming, gas-producing, stuff- is just fun for me.

The one time of year I tend to get really into quick breads is over the holiday season.
Quick breads differ from yeast breads in that they typically use baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent (the ingredient that causes them to rise) rather than yeast.  They can be sweet or savory (think cornbread or biscuits) but over the holidays I like to go a little nuts with the sweet varieties.  Not only are they delicious, but they're kind of perfect for giving as gifts.  Last year I found a great deal on a set of 50 mini loaf pans and baked mini loaves of that amazing, moist Eggnog Quick Bread I wrote about a few years ago.

It's seriously delicious, you should definitely try it.  Trust me.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year and Trying New Things

Happy New Year!

We had our fun early last night with rounds of Beanboozled and lots of laughter on a chilly evening.  My daughter's friend spent the night, and in true pre-teen fashion they huddled away together upstairs, laughter spilling from her room for hours.  My younger one stayed downstairs with us, an uncontainable ball of energy zooming around the house as he anticipated the coming of the new year.  Though I'd already made an early dinner, as the night wore on I decided to order a pizza for the kids and as it arrived we'd just bundled up and headed outside so they could (briefly) frolic in a short-lived flurry of snow.
The young pizza guy took in the joyful, frenetic scene and just laughed as I met him at his car.

It's about the little moments, though, right?