Friday, February 24, 2012

Foodie Friday: Strawberry Honey Butter

Today's recipe is not so much about product placement as it is about me trying to experiment with my new favorite honey. And by honey, I mean the food product, not a new boy-toy. Sheesh, people - c'mon!

Fortunately, due to the miracle of crack Pinterest, I found this delightful little tidbit from Half Baked and it is definitely the bees knees! Yeah, I just wanted to work "bees knees" into a conversation.

Strawberry Honey Butter 

1 pint strawberries, hulled
3 T honey (I suggest using Bertossa Honey Farm honey)
2 t fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) unsalted butter, softened

In a food processor, purée the strawberries and force the purée through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add the honey and the lemon juice and boil the mixture, stirring for 3 minutes or until it is thickened. Let the strawberry mixture cool to room temperature. In a bowl cream together the butter and the strawberry mixture. Let the butter stand, covered, in a cool place for 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop.

Wouldn't this be a cute Christmas, Valentine's Day, or 4th of July hostess gift? For those of you who do that sort of thing, that is, and don't just stop at BevMo for a bottle of wine on the way to the party.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodie Friday: Knock You Naked Margarita

Technically limes are food and since margaritas include limes, they must be food, right? I'm trying to dust off my deeply submerged algebra brain cells and come up with some transitive theory thingee to prove my point. You know that "if a=b and b=c, then a=c" theory? So just plug in the following variables...a=food, b=limes, c=margarita...and voila! I stand corrected, Mr. Junior High Math Teacher; I did use algebra again! But we're not here to talk about math - we're here for a margarita recipe. Although, if I had to do math on a regular basis, I would drink a lot more margaritas. I bet there's a formula for that, too. However, here's the kind of math I like...

And before you start in with the ewwwwws, I must tell you that this recipe has been tried and true manymanymanymany times in my household and I can guarantee you that it is quite possibly the best.thing.ever. I know it seems weird to mix beer and tequila, especially when they've had a shot/chaser relationship all these years, but joining them together in a civil union is pure magic. BTW, I first discovered this magic from the Sweet Potato Queens and if you haven't discovered their fabulousness, you need to stop reading now and click on over there. I'll give you a few minutes...

...Back? Okay, now on to the "recipe", which is pretty much just remembering 4 ingredients: frozen limeade, tequila, 7-Up, Corona. Use equal parts of each, mix together in a big pitcher and pour over ice. Or stick a straw into the pitcher, if you prefer. Oh, and please heed these words of warning: 1) This is an "on the rocks" drink, not a "frozen" drink. For most people this might go without saying, what with the carbonated beverage and all, but don't put this in the blender. I went ahead and tested it for you and you're welcome. 2) There's a reason it's called "Knock You Naked" so beware of its tasty goodness and the overwhelming mind-trick that you're just drinking a soda. Drink responsibly and stay clothed!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thanks Mr. Postman

Remember letter-writing? On stationery? Okay, not the point of this, but I just had to reminisce for a brief moment. So, the other day I was reading an article by Mental Floss (my favorite magazine in the whole wide world) called 11 Amazing Thank You Notes From Famous People. You really need to check it out. There's one from Neil Armstrong to the NASA team who designed his spacesuit, another one from Audrey Hepburn to Henry Mancini, another one from Liz Taylor to Andy Warhol, and lots of others just to some commoners.

My favorite was this uber-touching one from Ronald Reagan to the American people. Politics aside, I really liked Ronnie. He always seemed like someone I would want to meet no matter what side of the political fence I rode. I ached for his family when he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease (an up-close and personal issue for me) and bawled while watching his funeral. And then I re-cried while reading this letter, which is not like me at all. I don't do sad. However, I'm going to make an exception so that I can share this beautiful letter that I so blatantly plagiarized from the Mental Floss blog. Grab a tissue.

My fellow Americans, 

I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way. In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing. They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives. So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clear understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it. 

At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life’s journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters. 

Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage. 

In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. 

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead. 

Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you. 
Ronald Reagan

Friday, February 10, 2012

Foodie Friday: Toffee Crack

You know how I'm a big scrapbooker nerd, right? Well, to add to the nerdiness, we have a group at church that meets every other week and we're called the Christian Croppers - awesomely nerdy name, right? Every few months we have All Day Crops, which, if you belong to the Scrapbooking Cult, you know what that is and if you don't, well, it's pretty self-explanatory. The one in February is always the "Chocoholic Crop", which means everyone brings a chocolate snack to share and for 15ish hours we binge on sugary, chocolatey goodness and painstakingly create cute scrapbooks that our kids will promptly toss upon our deaths. Or, in my case, spend the whole day binging on chocolate, talking, organizing pictures/stickers/papers, etc., looking at other people's scrapbooks, and maybe finishing one page. But I digress...back to the chocolate portion of the program. One year I brought my chocolate fountain, but neglected to read the directions.....

It may have been the suggestion that I go with a less destructive chocolate creation in the future or maybe it was the "crack" in the title (since that propels it straight to the top of my "love" list - and I mean that figuratively, as in "so good it's addictive like crack" not as in.....oh, never mind, you get it) that attracted me to this sweet-n-salty chocolatey delight. This easy-even-for-me recipe is from Julie at Joy's Hope. Julie's blog is about so much more than recipes and even though I don't know her, I love her. I mean, her tagline is Do something good. Everyday. and you know how much my sunshiny-flowery-bekind-glasshalffull heart swells when I come across phrases like that. But, back to the chocolate..... 

 Toffee Crack

Saltine crackers
1 stick butter
1 c brown sugar
1 bag chocolate chips

Line cookie sheet with crackers. Melt butter in pan, add brown sugar, and stir until slightly caramelized. Pour over crackers and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and pour chocolate chips on top. As they melt, spread over the toffee and then place in refrigerator to set. You could break it into bite-size pieces to serve on a plate or you could just shovel it straight into your mouth from the cookie sheet and cut out the middle-man. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Love My mmmmm...TV

I watch a lot of television. I know - gross, right? I like to consider it research for my Celebrity Stalking obsession, rather than admit that I'm part of the "ass-stuck-to-couch" crowd. In my defense, at least I don't watch Reality TV. And GodBlessAmerica for the invention of DVRs because my old-school VCR would never be able to keep up with my current addiction.

Currently my favorite show is Revenge, because, let's face it, this is my fantasy. On the outside I have this kindness-good-karma-do-unto-others-nicey-McNice persona that really works for me 99.9% of the time. However, suppressed on the inside, wayyyyyy deep down (sometimes not as far down as I would like), I think Carrie Underwood is way too kind.
Me with Trevor Donovan

I also enjoy a good teeny-bopper show. This started when I was teaching 9th graders and Beverly Hills 90210 (the original) was all the rage. I wanted to see what they were talking about and gradually my, "Oh.Ber.Oth.Er." turned into, "I can't believe Donna and David broke up-Valerie is so mean-who will Kelly choose, Dillon or Brandon?" 20+ years later and I still occasionally channel surf to the reruns. So imagine my thrill when they created the new 90210, especially when Kelly, Donna, and Brenda were on the first season! Admittedly, it isn't as good as the original, but all of those beach scenes are filmed in my 'hood, so yeah, back to the stalker thing. My zip code even starts with "902..", plus, I've met hotty Teddy the tennis pro, so basically I'm connected to the show in so many ways, I'm practically a part of it.

Throw in Friday Night Lights, GRΣΣK, Hellcats, Life Unexpected, Melrose Place (old and new), One Tree Hill, The OC, and Veronica Mars and you can see that I've been very busy these past few years nurturing my ass/couch relationship. All good things must come to an end, though, as did these cinematic masterpieces. Thank goodness I still have Gossip Girl and Glee to keep me firmly attached to the couch. Can I just tell you that I am INLOVE with Mr. Schue? And then, just when I've barely finished basking in the glow of his sexy Jagger moves, along comes Ricky Martin, who I fell in love with as Miguel on General Hospital almost 20 years ago. Seriously, watch these beautiful biceps and shiny white teeth and then just try to pry me off my couch!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Foodie Friday: Pizza Dip

With the help of my newest addiction - Pinterest - I'm going to add a new segment to my blog repertoire: Recipes That Look Fantastic, But I'll Never Cook Them Because I Don't Cook.

This one is from Kevin Lynch at Closet Cooking: Cooking in a Closet Sized Kitchen. I don't know Kevin, but I do know that I love men who cook. And pizza. And dips.

Pizza Dip

4 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise
1 c mozzarella, shredded/grated, divided in half
1/2 c parmesan, grated, divided in half
1 c pizza sauce
2 oz pepperoni, sliced
2 T green peppers, sliced
2 T black olives, sliced
(Actually, you can use any of your favorite pizza toppings.)

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan, and spread it across the bottom of a pie plate. Spread the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle on the remaining cheeses, pepperoni, green peppers, and olives. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and golden brown (about 20 minutes). Serve with baguette slices because they make the perfect beds for large spoonfuls of this pizza delight.

If you make this, report back and let us know how it turned out. I'm only allowed supervised visits to our kitchen, due to a few minor burning incidents that may or may not have created some smoke, so it may be a while before I get to it. I'll have to settle for gazing longingly at the recipe.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oh, My Achin' Tooth

Yesterday I had a root canal. My first ever. I feel a little violated.

First of all, I was sad that this poor little broken molar who's been with me for so long couldn't hang in there just a few more weeks to hit the 50 milestone with me. And lest you think, "it's just a tooth, who cares? - you lost your uterus and didn't shed a tear over that major organ - why so sad?", think about all the memories you have surrounding your teeth. First there's the slight little wiggle - "Mom, mom - my tooth is loose!!!" Then the pull-out hysterics (wait, was that just me?), then the Tooth Fairy, and then the little nubbins of a brand new grown-up "permanent" tooth who would soon guide you through your life of chewing pleasure. Oh sure, adult-stressed-out-you abused it with continuous grinding, but it could take it, right? It was supposed to be permanent, after all. Alas, no. RIP my sweet molar #19.

Once I worked through the grief, my "fight or flight" response kicked in, which, for me, is more like a "tremble in fear" response with the same adrenaline rush. I am terrified of the dentist. Terr-If-Fied. Seriously, I cry almost every time I'm there. Thankfully, my dentist doesn't think it's strange for a 40-something-year-old person to cry in the chair o' doom, so she dries my tears and pets my forehead until I'm all better. I am in love with this woman, even if she is a masochist deep down inside. The next few days hours were a blur: I cried and hyperventilated, endured unceasing torture, got some good drugs, and survived. Cue Aretha.

Naturally, when I got home I played BraveFace and announced to The Husband that, "It doesn't hurt at all!" He smiled. I guess pointing out that my face was still numb and when it wore off I would be in all kinds of pain, which would be the impetus for all kinds of whining, would have been just plain cruel. Oh wait - he did that. And he was right, dammit. To quote one of my besties during childbirth, "Dude, this hurts a lot!"

I'm pretty sure the only way to power through this trauma involves lots of ice cream and Vicodin. I'm also pretty sure that's what the grown-up Tooth Fairy will be bringing me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

In the first 22 days of 2012, I have spent a whopping 5 of them at home. And before you say, "Gosh, what a jet-setter lifestyle," let me assure you that it's not. Seriously, does this look jet-setter-ish? Do you see Hawaii or Italy anywhere in these paths?
LA > Riverside > LA > Sacramento > Chico > Stockton > Sacramento > Cincinnati > Lexington > Cincinnati > LA

Nope, not even a nearby glance at Hawaii or Italy. What you may notice, however, is that almost all of my destinations were NORTH of Los Angeles. In January. You know what that means, right? Weather Whine-itis struck with a vengeance. At one point I even said to someone, "Gosh, there's ice all over the cars in the parking lot," to which he responded, "Um, yeah, it gets cold here." I could feel his eyes rolling and heard his in-head thought of, "Silly little Cali girl."

Fortunately I have good travel karma these days, which is a good thing, of course, because I am not a very responsible traveler. I've been known to jump on the plane as they were pulling up the jet bridge (back in the pre-9-11 days when you could behave in such ways without fear of being tasered) and I've definitely had my name called over the intercom more than once. But these days I tend to make it to check-in with at least 2 minutes to spare. Most of the time. Of course it wouldn't be a travel day for me if I didn't have a ridiculous story to share, and - bonus - I have two:

Adventure #1:
I had just squeaked into the Sacramento airport, with minutes to spare, and they told me that my flight was delayed. At first I was relieved that I had extra time until I realized I'd be missing a connection. Therefore, I was "involuntarily rerouted" from Sacramento to Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Cincinnati, arriving at 9am for a 10am meeting. But then, when I landed in SLC, the karma fairy interceded because there was an "involuntarily rerouted" plane going to Cincy, so I was able to jump on it instead of spending most of the night in airports. Whew! Of course my luggage had to take the scenic route through the ATL, so we didn't reconnect until the next day, which means I wore jeans and sneakers to a client meeting. Really no big deal considering the alternative. Big bonus points to Delta, who delivered my bag to the hotel, and to the front desk clerk who gave me toiletries. I have found that people are usually very helpful during travel crises. Not always, of course, but almost always, and I SOOOOOO appreciate them.

Adventure #2:
Since I spend more time in hotels than I do at home, I am surprisingly very careful about unpacking and repacking. In fact, I've only left 2 things in hotel rooms ever, which is pretty amazing considering what a ditz I can be at times. However, I broke the streak and broke it in a big way. I left my sweatpants with my drivers license and credit card in the hotel in Cincinnati and didn't realize it until I got to Lexington. Of course I was in a panic thinking I'd have to have The Husband overnight my passport to me for ID so I could get on a plane to go home and then have to go through the pain of cancelling a credit card, and - most importantly - have to get a new drivers license, which would have been horrifying because I've gained 20 lbs since my last DL pic. (You see where my priorities are, right?) Fortunately, the karma fairy stepped in again, and the maid found my stuff, the front desk clerk held it for me, and I am once again indebted to the hospitality industry for taking care of me. Whew times 10!

Jet-setter lifestyle? Not even close. Home sweet home? Why, yes, I think I'll stay a while.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Waterboarding, Writing...Synonyms, Right?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret (of course posting it online pretty much guarantees that it's no longer a secret)...if you ever want to torture me, don't bother with the solitary confinement or waterboarding - just skip ahead and ask me this question: "Why don't you write more?" My head will spin, I'll start sputtering and spewing the most creative excuses known to mankind, and I'll probably whine a lot. Because I don't know the answer. Okay, that's a lie. I do know the answer, but as an English major and former English teacher, it's too horrible a phrase to utter aloud.....

I hate to write!

There, secret's out. I hate to write. I like to think about writing, I like to pretend-write in my head, I like to comment on other people's writing, I like to read about writing, I like to read stuff I've already written, I like to re-write, I like to think I'm a writer, I've fooled my employer into thinking I'm a writer, but I just Hate. To. Write. And I don't know why. I'd like to think it has to do with a childhood trauma and can be therapied out of me, but I suspect it has a lot to do with laziness. (Really? You're kidding! No way!) Sooooooo, taking a writing course - not associated with school or work requirements - would be the absolute last thing I would ever do, right? Yeahhhhh, wellllll, ummmmm...

So here's the back story...a few months ago a friend (can't remember who, but I'll either kill you or kiss you when I remember) posted an article on Facebook, which of course propelled me into the "Oh this is interesting, let's click on this other link that sounds interesting, oh this is interesting, let's click on this other link that sounds interesting, oh this....." tailspin. Hours later, I stumbled upon Daphne Gray-Grant's Publication Coach website. It was love at first sight when I read these magic words: "Are you tired of writing too slowly and too painfully? Is writing a dreaded chore that you avoid? Would you like to write faster and more easily?" Yes. YES. YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! HallelujahandpraisetheLord, YES! I promptly signed up for her newsletter and recommended it to my fellow writers. (See how I say "fellow" when I'm not even one of them? I WANT to be a writer; I THINK I'm a writer; I just HATE to write. So I include myself in with my writer friends, but actually I'm a fraud.) So then Carrie-In-The-City says, "Let's take the Extreme Writing Makeover course. And being the typical passive-aggressive that I am, I said, "Yeah, sure" when I meant to say, "Hell to the no." I figured I could continue with "yeah, yeah, sure" for a few months and then we'd forget all about it. But then it became the dreaded New Year's Resolution time and C-I-T-C and her evil steel-trap mind remembered and I got caught up in the frenzy and suddenly, "Yeah, sure" turned into "Yes, that sounds like a great idea, let's sign up now" and here we are. 52 weeks of writing assignments. Homework...Commitment...Writing, oh my!

So stay tuned. And this time I mean it. Yes, I realize I pretty much wrote nothing last year. I started thought about starting a lot of posts, though - does that count? Clearly not, according to this new accountability thingee I have going on.