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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Menu + Yes, I Work Much Better Under Pressure

On the last day of 2011, I wrote almost 10 pages -- of good stuff, not just random notes.  Also, I found another supporting idea that fits nicely into what I already had.  It's very simple and I don't know why I did not think of it before but it's there now!

Also, I put together a nice dinner without spending more than an hour.  Yay! :)  We have a few friends coming so it's going to be a fun evening.

Appetizer:  Bacon-Wrapped Marinated Shrimp (ready to grill)
Bread:  Sally Lunn, butterfly shape -- for the New Year! :) (done)
Butter:  Parsley and Feta Cheese Butter (done)
Entree:  Steak and Lobster Tail (ready to grill) with Mushroom Risotto (done, in my new fancy multi-cooker)
Dessert:  Creme Brulee (yes, flames and all!!!) (done)
Drinks:  an assortment of non-alcoholic sparkling juices, sodas, and juice (chilling)

I will post recipes and photos later.  For now, here is a picture of the butterfly bread. 


Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Smarty Had A Party

After writing for the past two weeks, I am burned out... but need to finish!!!  Today is almost gone and I am still playing, dreaming of throwing parties...  S. and I love entertaining but haven't done much lately because both of us are so busy.

For small groups, I always use nice china, always!  It does not take that long to clean up but using real china and silverware is so elegant and makes food look and taste better.

For large groups, using nice china/silverware is difficult because of (1) clean up time, (2) availability of enough settings, and (3) potential damage, especially if kids are involved.  On a side note, my kids will use real china/silverware from the very beginning.  My siblings and I did.  Yes, there were a few items broken but accidents happen.  We never threw things in a tantrum like I have seen some kids do.  I strongly believe that teaching good manners early pays off handsomely later.  But I digress...

So, for large groups, I love supplies from Smarty Had A Party.  They have lots of cool stuff.

Now back to writing, sigh...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chili in Bread Bowls

There are several reasons for this recipe:  (1) I am trying to meet a writing deadline and so don't have time for cooking or grocery shopping; (2) it's chilly outside; (3) I am trying to use what we already have in the fridge/freezer before buying anything else; and (4) both S. and I have not been feeling well and so craving comfort foods.  So I have been using my crock pot quite a bit.  Chili definitely meets all our current requirements, especially when served in yummy bread bowls.

Chili in Homemade Bread Bowls
The original recipe for bread bowls is here.  I just made some modifications.  Chili recipe is my creation but, of course, there are tons of similar recipes.

Ingredients for Chili:
1 lb beef for stew
1 can baked beans
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp olive oil
fresh parsley, finely chopped -- to sprinkle on top when ready to serve

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet and brown meat, then saute onions and garlic.  Add all ingredients to the crock pot.  Season with salt/pepper to taste.  Cook on Low for 7-8 hours.

Ingredients for Bread Bowls:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 cup white bread flour (King Arthur's )
2 cups whole wheat bread flour (King Arthur's)
3 tsp active dry yeast

Add all ingredients in order suggested by your bread maker manufacturer.  Set on Dough.  Once dough is ready, take it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four portions.  Shape into rounds.  Handle dough very gently at this point.  Place dough rounds on a cookie sheets (lightly sprayed with non-stick spray) and let rest for one hour or until doubled.  To aid in rising process, I always boil a cup of water in the microwave to create steam and place my cookie sheet there.  Preheat oven to 350 F and then bake bread until golden brown (20-25 minutes).  Remove and cool a bit.  With a sharp knife, slice off the top and then hollow out each loaf to desired thickness.  Fill with your favorite soup, stew, or chili.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley or your favorite toppings.

Use scooped out bread for croutons.  S. actually likes to add some croutons right away, for extra crunchiness.

2011 Food Meme: Food from Apple to Zucchini

 
 

A is for Apple: What’s your favorite variety?
Gala -- sweet and yummy!
B is for Bread: Regardless of nutrition, what is your favorite type?
Sally Lunn -- buttery, with succulent crust
C is for Cereal: What is your favorite kind currently?
Honey Roasted Bunches of Oats
D is for Donuts: You might not currently eat them, but what kind do you fancy?
Krispy Kreme, original, hot
E is for Eggs: How would you like yours prepared?
Poached
F is for Fat Free: What is your favorite fat free product?
Tassimo Fat Free Cappuccino (sipping one right now)
G is for Groceries: Where do you purchase yours?
Fresh Food Market, when possible; Publix
H is for Hot Beverages: What is your favorite hot drink?
Earl Grey Tea
I is for Ice Cream: Pick a favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
Plain vanilla, with homemade creme brulee topping
J is for Jams or Jellies: Do you eat them? If so, what kind and flavor?
Mango butter...  I tried it on Maui and can't wait to order more.
K is for Kashi: Name your favorite Kashi product?
Go Lean Cereals are pretty good.
L is for Lunch: What was yours today?
Corn chowder with meatballs with homemade croutons
M is for microwave: What is your favorite microwave meal/snack?
Mashed potatoes.  I boil them in a microwave to save time, mash/fill with goodies like butter, herbs, cream, and keep warm in the slow cooker, on Warm setting.
N is for nutrients: Do you like carbs, fats, or proteins best?
Proteins but try to eat everything in moderation.
O is for oil: What kind do you like to use?
Canola oil for cooking. Olive oil for everything else.
P is for protein: How do you get yours?
Chicken and eggs, not necessarily in that order.  :)
Q is for Quaker: How do you like your oats?
Milk, butter, assorted fruits, and brown sugar on top.
R is for roasting: What is your favorite thing to roast?
Eggplant -- to be made into a dip.
S is for sandwich: What’s your favorite kind?
Panini, with lots of cheese.
T is for travel: How do you handle eating while traveling?
Try to eat healthy but sample as many local specialties as I can.
U is for unique: What is one of your weirdest food combos?
Pies with potato filling, carbs with carbs.  They are yummy, though!
V is for vitamins: What kind do you take?
Daily multivitamin.
W is for wasabi: Yay or nay?
Nay.
X is for XRAY: If we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
Rolls and eggs from breakfast, soup from lunch, cappuccino.
Y is for youth: What food reminds you of your childhood?
Fried potatoes and tomato-cucumber-onion-herbs salad.
Z is for zucchini: How do you prepare it?
Grilled, in a kebab.

Your turn!  Please link back.  Thanks! :)

Rosemary Rolls with Gorgonzola Butter

S. is not feeling well so I made fresh rolls for breakfast.  He loves these savory buttery rolls that melt in your mouth...

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
Thank you so much, Miz Helen!
 
Rosemary Rolls with Gorgonzola Butter

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
1 large egg
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp powdered coffee creamer or milk
2 tbsp instant potato flakes
3 1/4 cups bread flour (King Arthur's is the only one I use)
1 tbsp bread machine yeast
1 tbsp crushed dried rosemary (or finely chopped fresh rosemary); experiment with other herbs, too
Optional:  Gorgonzola butter for brushing (we always use -- it's so good;

Gorgonzola Butter
Mix 4 oz of Gorgonzola with 4 tbsp of butter, process in your food processor until smooth.

Directions:
  1.  Add all ingredients (except Gorgonzola butter ingredients) to your bread machine.
  2. Select Dough cycle.
  3. When dough is ready, remove it onto a lightly floured board and divide into 12-24 portions.
  4. Shape each piece into a roll and place in a lightly greased muffin pan.  Note:  I usually make 12 large rolls and so use two muffin pans.
  5. Heat a cup of water in the microwave, to create steam.
  6. Slide your muffin pan(s) into microwave -- do it quickly, to prevent steam from escaping.
  7. Let rolls rise until double in size -- about an hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 F and bake rolls 10-20 minutes or until golden.  For large rolls, it usually takes about 20 minutes.
  9. Brush with Gorgonzola butter.  
  10. Enjoy!
The original recipe is here.  Shared here:
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Corn Chowder... with Meatballs... in a Crockpot...

I am writing all week (and making good progress) so don't have much time for cooking.  Yesterday afternoon, I opened the freezer door to check the contents.  Leftover meatballs caught my eye -- about 10-12 of them, small.  Since I am so engrossed in writing right now, have no idea why corn chowder popped into my mind -- but it did.  Maybe because it was a bit chilly outside?  So that's how we ended up eating corn chowder last night.  It was good, too! :)  The entire process took about five minutes.

Meatballs Corn Chowder

Ingredients:
1 can whole corn
1 can cream style corn
1 small can (8.5 oz?) cream of chicken and mushrooms
10-12 small meatballs
2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I did not have any so skipped)
2-3 tbsp butter (I used lite butter, Land O'Lakes)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Mix all ingredients, except salt/pepper and parsley, in a crockpot.  Simmer for several hours.  Season with salt/pepper to taste.  Add parsley 10-15 minutes before serving.  Serve with fresh croutons.

Garlic Parsley Croutons

Ingredients:
Leftover bread or rolls, cubed
Garlic Parsley Salt (California style), to taste
Non-Stick Spray, Butter Flavor

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Spray the cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Arrange cubed bread.  Sprinkle with garlic parsley salt (or any other spices), toss, and spray with non-stick spray.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Mix, bringing still soft bread to the top layer.  Spray with non-stick spray again.  Return to the oven and bake until the top layer is golden brown.  Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Red Velvet Christmas Cake -- Gift Idea

This is his "sample" cake.  He only used one box of mix so it's not high enough.
S. is working with several different departments on various projects, so there are lots of people to buy Christmas presents for...  You know how it goes -- you buy something for one person, you need to buy for all, since all of them are involved.  Last year, I baked lots of cookies and he gave small packages to everybody.  Everybody loved them.  Who would not like yummy homemade cookies?

This year, I am so tempted to bake but need to write.  Then I had an idea -- put S. to work!  Baking cookies is beyond his culinary expertise but mixing and baking bundt cakes is no big deal.  So I told him to buy several boxes of any cake mix he likes and several 12x12x12 cake boxes with clear lids (Michael's).  He chose Red Velvet.  Then he was entrusted with my mixer and instructed to read the directions on the box, lol.  He baked the cake batter in this bundt pan.

The first cake (shown above) did not come out as expected because one box of mix was not enough.  After that, he mixed two boxes and filled the pan to the edge of the pattern (not the edge of the pan -- doing that would result in an overflow).  Once his cakes cooled, he sprinkled them with powdered sugar.  We placed cakes on cake doilies and packaged them in cake boxes.  Added a red bow to each box...  And he wrote Merry Christmas! on each box, along with his initials.  His artistic writing always impresses me.  Done!  I should have snapped several photos of the finished product but we were finishing this morning and he was running late.  I hope he took some pics...

S. had fun, I was able to write while still observing the process and giving advice as needed, and his "creations" were the talk of the hospital today.

And the cost...

Red Velvet Cake Mix is $1.25 per box so the cost per cake is $1.25 x 1.5 = $1.88
3 eggs per box of mix so let's say 5 eggs per cake, for easy math...  $1.09 per dz so $0.45 per cake
1/3 cups of oil per box (let's say 1/2 cups per cake) is too much trouble to calculate so let's say $0.50 per cake; same goes for the powdered sugar
Bows came from the dollar store, 20 bows for $1, so $0.05 per bow.
Each cake box costs $2.49

Total:  $5.87

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lamb Turbans Savory Pastries

Sorry for the horrible photo.  The "pretty" ones are gone.  They really do look much better. :)
I posted a variation here. S. loves these little pastries and they are easy to make. I made a batch last week, for his birthday.

Special Ingredient:  dibs ruman, pomegranate molasses; you can buy it online.  I did not have any left so added some fresh pomegranate kernels instead.  I am sure the taste would have been enhanced by dibs ruman.

By the way, these pastries can be refrigerated for several days.  Just reheat in the oven until warm and slightly crispy.  Microwave works, too, but they won't be crispy, of course.  Perfect for easy finger foods!

Dough Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (it did not seem like enough so I added 1/2 tsp, just in case!)
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (King Arthur's)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil -- don't add now, use for dipping later!
Get your breadmaker bowl out, add ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer, and set on Dough.  For more adventurous ones, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water.  Cover and set aside to proof for a few minutes, until the mixture foams.  Combine flour and salt.  Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture, then knead into a soft dough.

Regardless of the method, once the dough is ready, shape it into a log.  Divide the log into 2 dozen small portions.  Shape each portion into 1 1/4-inch rounds.  Lightly dip each round into the olive oil and place on a large tray.  Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and set aside, allowing to rise for at least one hour.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cups grated onion (I use food processor)
  • 1/4 lbs ground lamb (I use beef -- less fat and much cheaper)
  • 3/4 cups peeled and seeded on the vine tomatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I will reduce to 1/2 tsp next time -- filling was a bit too salty for me)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger (I did not have any so skipped)
  • 1 tbsp dibs ruman (see note above)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed, if available)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Toast pine nuts.  You can either preheat the oven to 350 F and toast in the center for 5-7 mins or toast in a small skillet, stirring often.  You want them golden brown but not burned, of course.  Cool pine nuts before using.

Grate the onion and drain in a fine-mesh strainer, to remove as much of the liquid as possible.  Combine onions with all remaining ingredients, including toasted pine nuts.  Mix well and place into the fine-mesh strainer to drain.  Note:  If you're not ready to make pastries, refrigerate the mix w/out draining.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Use your fingers to flatten each dough round to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  Place 2 generous tsp of filling in the center.  Lift the edges on one side and pull like a hood over 1/3 of the filling, then start tucking edges in, a small portion at a time, clockwise, like a turban.  Maybe like forming a rose bud, one petal at a time?  Pinch the last edge so the "turban" does unfold.  :)

Transfer rounds to the greased cooking sheet or tray.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until pastry edges are golden brown.  Serve warm.


I said "No!" and it feels good!

As a faculty member, I get to enjoy office-free and committee-free days between the end of semester (once grades are posted) and the week before classes start. Yes, I have to get ready for the next semester. However, I do NOT want to be asked to help somebody on their project because they procrastinated during the semester. Sorry, not my problem. Especially since I was asked to do a one-semester one-course release to help this person. We hired this person just for this project -- and his/her salary is much higher than my meager pay. Oops, the semester is over. See ya! Of course, I was more diplomatic, but I did tell the person that my own writing comes first for the next two weeks. I have no idea what this person will do (go and complain to the VP?) but I am tired of shoving my own writing to the back burner for the last two years while constantly dealing with this long-term assignment. Find somebody else. I am done.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You know you worked in...

the health care system too long when you say that your girlfriend is not using "proper computer hygiene" when you disagree with the way she organizes folders on her computer. Oh, S. -- you are crazy!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quick and Easy Breakfast

I want to write as much as I can today so made this breakfast.  So easy, so yummy! :)  Here is a link:  http://fortheloveofcooking-recipes.blogspot.com/2011/12/baked-eggs-with-tomato-and-dill.html.  Try it!

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Lots of Blessings" Birthday Cake

S. celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday.  It's quite a milestone and he is not happy about getting old, lol, so I decided to make a somewhat funky rather than traditional cake, to cheer him up.  It actually took far less time to put it together than the usual icing, decoration, etc. cake.

The base is Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake.  Neither S. nor I care much for the crust so I always skip that part.  Instead of coffee, I added Godiva Caramel Milk Chocolate Liqueur.  Most of the alcohol evaporates during baking so it's fine even for non-drinkers like we are.  It really enhances the flavor, though -- in my opinion.  Like with all cheesecakes, it's better to bake it the night before, leave in the oven to cool (don't move or even touch the cake, just open the door, gently), and then chill overnight, w/out opening the springform pan.

I was planning to decorate the cake yesterday afternoon before S. came home from work but he surprised me and showed up like at 2:00 pm, unheard of! :)  So he witnessed the decoration.  I opened several packages of Kit-Kat bars and sliced them in half (aim between Kit and Kat, lol) with a sharp knife.  One bar creates two sections of the border or four "slats."  Keep adding sections until they go all around.  I could not fit a two-slat section at the end so broke it in half vertically and just added one slat, which fit perfectly.  S. was observing my "fence-building" and then noted that my fence was a bit wobbly.  I told him -- no worries!  And opened a package of Fruit by the Foot, strawberry flavor!  I gently pressed the "ribbon" all around the cake, then gently pulled the paper away.  The leftover portion of the "ribbon" became a bow (I just tucked the ends inside).  I have used the "ribbon" before -- it's such an easy but elegant touch, in my opinion.  I added peanut M&Ms to the top (just one layer), as a symbol of "lots of blessings."  They were great for catching the dripping wax, too.  Finally, I added 40 mini candles.  Done! :)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I found a treasure!

I discovered an awesome health foods market just a few minutes from the house!  Don't ask me why I did not bother to check it out before, even though I have seen quite a few times.  It's tucked in a little shopping center and I am not there often but still...  Anyway, I needed an ingredient not stocked in most grocery stores so I decided to visit this health foods store...  They had what I needed -- and more! 

Like "really" fresh milk...  They label proclaims:  100% Milk, The Way God Intended!

They even had non-pasteurized milk but I am not that adventurous, so bought a GLASS bottle of pasteurized milk.  Oh, the taste of my childhood, while staying on grandparents' farm...  And when I return to buy another bottle, with my empty milk bottle, I will get a significant discount!  Sadly, this is almost unheard of in this part of the country...

They have so many truly fresh organic items...  And prices are very reasonable, too.  Wow, what a treasure! :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Walk the Dog or Drink a Can of Coke Dilemma

Calories Burned with Walking The Dog

204 calories per hour

Assuming a body weight of: 150 lbs

This is equivalent to eating any of the lines of the following table.
QuantityDescriptionCals
0.8Grande Starbucks Caffe Latte - Made with whole milk272
0.3McDonald's Big Mac - With cheese704
2.6Glasses of wine (3.5 fl oz)79
0.7Snickers Bar273
1Cans of Coca-Cola207
6.8Carrots30
If I want to have this figure, I better walk the dog... ;)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank goodness and good riddance!

That's how I felt last night and this morning...  Grades are due by noon and I needed to make several last-minute adjustments.  The annoying woman kept running around, chattering about anything and everything.  She poked through cabinets and picked up every trinket, asking what is this and what is that...  Where did you get this and where did you get that...  Then she wanted to know "everything" (a direct quote) about our relationship.  Really?!?!?!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!  Just sit down and be quiet, go watch TV, whatever!  I can work and carry a normal conversation but her incessant jabbering really got on my nerves.  Even her husband was annoyed and told her that his ears were hurting and would she please be quiet.  Yeah, like she listened...

Thankfully, the person who was taking them to the airport came shortly after 10:00 am.  The house is quiet...  So peaceful...  Wow!  We have had many people staying with us over the last few years because we have extra room and love to have company.  The husband shared very interesting stories with us and it was really nice to get to know him.  The wife???  Goodness gracious, I don't want to see her again, ever!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gluten-Free Bread, Bacon Potatoes, and One Very Rude Person

Our distant relatives, an older couple, are staying with us for about a week. Thank goodness S. had to deal with them all week and I did not get here until Thursday night... And they went somewhere else Thursday-Saturday and did not get here until last night. So last night my first encounter. First, I was subjected to non-stop drilling about what seems like every square inch of my life. I don't like being grilled and, proud to report, evaded most of the questions by providing vague answers and changing the topic. It's not like I am secretive or anything but, come on, I never met them before and so why would I divulge personal information? Then I asked about the time I should serve breakfast. The woman made a sour face, rolled her eyes, and declared that she is watching her figure (overweight, lumpy -- watching figure? really?) and does not eat breakfast. As my brain started processing this information (Yay! Since we normally just grab yogurt or fruit, I won't have to change my routine), she asked, in the same breath, what was for breakfast? Um, mixed messages here??? Remembering that she is on a gluten-free diet, I suggested potatoes and eggs. Then she wanted to know exactly what kind of potatoes... Grrrr!

Gluten-Free Bread (sorry for the blurry photo)
This morning, I woke up early and made gluten-free bread. Since I don't normally make gluten-free bread and did not want to buy rice flour, etc., I just bought this bread mix. It requires eggs and milk. I just added all ingredients (as well as some rosemary) to my bread maker and set on Dough. When it was done, I let it rise for an hour, then baked at 400 F for 40 minutes.  Considering that it's gluten-free, this bread was surprisingly good.

While the bread was baking, the woman wandered into the kitchen, asking what I am doing.  I told her that gluten-free bread was baking while I was working on other stuff.  She wanted to know how I made the bread so I showed her the box, telling her that, while I make regular bread from scratch (she saw me make it last night), I did not have all the special ingredients and so used the mix instead.  She asked if she could keep the box.  OK, sure...

When breakfast was almost ready, she wandered into the kitchen again, picked up the bread mix box she left on the counter earlier, and said she won't keep it after all because "she is honest."  Have no idea what she meant by that and did not want to ask...

So we sat down to eat and she, who supposedly does not eat breakfast, grabbed a slice of bread before we even had a chance to say grace.  She ate a bite, declared the bread to be too bland, and proceeded to load it with butter and jelly.  See the photo above?  She ate almost 1/3 of the loaf, slice by slice, while muttering that she can't be too picky!!!  I was speechless...  Especially after tasting the bread and finding out that it was tasty and fragrant.  Yes, not like the regular bread, but come on -- it's gluten-free!

Bacon Potatoes

Ingredients:

5-6 slices center-cut low fat bacon (I always drain fat)
5-6 medium potatoes
1/2 tbsp olive oil (if you don't drain bacon fat, don't add oil)
salt/pepper/other spices to taste

I also made potatoes with center-cut bacon, since it has much less fat than regular bacon.  I snipped bacon into pieces (kitchen shears work great), fried it until golden brown, and drained fat.  This way, most of the fat is gone and there are crispy pieces of meat.  Meanwhile, I peeled and sliced (1/10 inch thickness or so) several potatoes.  I added approximately 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and potatoes to the skillet with bacon pieces, then fried on medium (it's more like sauteing than frying because of lower heat).  Halfway through cooking, I added salt and pepper to taste (you can use flavored salt, like garlic salt).

Boiled eggs, beverages (coffee, tea, juice), and condiments (butter, jelly) completed the breakfast.

The guy was very polite and happily ate several servings of potatoes and a couple of slices of regular bread I made yesterday.  He must be a saint to put up with this woman...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Grading!

Ah, grading, grading, grading...  A never-ending story.  I update grades throughout the semester but it's still a daunting task because I want to make sure students know why they were assigned a certain grade and what they can do to improve.  In my opinion, grading is more than just assigning grades -- it's a critical teaching opportunity.  Also, consistency is very important but oh so difficult to achieve.  I use detailed grading rubrics (shared with students to be used while they working on assignments) and that helps, a lot.

Here is an interesting post (and the source of photo below).

Monday, December 05, 2011

Hungry...

I had a gazillion things going on this morning and left the house w/out my lunch.  Now I am hungry...  I really want a bowl of this soup.  It looks so delicious!  I think I will pick up the ingredients on the way home and make a pot tonight.  It will be awesome with lightly toasted Sally Lunn bread I made yesterday...
Sally Lunn Bread Recipe

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Pelmeni (Russian Ravioli)


I don't make pelmeni often because they (1) are bursting with calories and (2) do require a couple of hours to make.  However, they are definitely worth an effort and oh so yummy! :)  Also, it's a great way to put kids to work, lol.  Our little nieces are well-mannered, compared to other kids their age, and eagerly participate in any hands-on projects, w/out making too much mess in the process.  They came to visit this afternoon and proudly made late lunch.  And there are no leftovers so I don't have to worry about those lingering calories calling my name... ;)


To save time, you can use pelmeni mold.  I have an old-fashioned heavy aluminum (alloy?) mold, which is pricey, especially shipping costs, but you can buy a significantly cheaper, plastic version here.  This site also contains step-by-step directions.  They provide a slightly different recipe but I have not tested it.  My recipe, listed below, has been in the family for many years and it always works for me.  Mom never measures ingredients, just adds a little bit of this and a little bit of that until she gets the perfect consistency.  I had to observe her quite a few times and then practice on my own until I derived this recipe.




Another way to make pelmeni is traditional way -- family-style, with everyone around the counter, filling and shaping.  That's what we did today -- to have more fun! :)  See directions below.


Ingredients for the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
Mix and knead until you achieve the consistency of soft playdough.  Mom pours the flour on the mixing surface, in a little mound, then makes a small hole at the top.  Like a crater? ;)  Then she pours in the egg, salt, and a little water.  She kneads, adding more water, until the dough is ready.  Sorry, too much trouble for me...
I just place all ingredients in my breadmaker and set on Dough.  You don't have to wait for the entire cycle.  When the dough achieves soft playdough consistency, place it in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Ingredients for the Filling:
1 lb ground beef or turkey (raw, not cooked)
salt, 1/2 tbsp
pepper, 1/2 tbsp
small onion, grated or very finely chopped

Just mix meat, salt, pepper, and onion.  You can also add sauteed mushrooms (nothing traditional about that but I like it).

Once the dough is ready, divide it into four portions.  Roll out each portion, on a lightly floured surface, as thinly as you can.  The dough should be almost translucent.  It's fairly easy to roll out, though.  Just be patient.  Use a round cookie cutter (I improvise with the cap to non-stick spray, lol) to cut the dough into circles.  Form filling into small meatballs, approximately 1 full tsp, and place in the middle of each circle.  Fold the circle in half and firmly pinch edges.  Then bring two corners together and pinch, to form a round dumpling.  Here is a photo from today:
Fill the large pot with water, add some salt (like you would for pasta), and bring to boil.  Carefully drop pelmeni into the boiling water, bring back to boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook approximately 10 minutes or until done.  Remove with the slotted spoon and add a bit of melted butter, to prevent sticking.

Traditionally, pelmeni are served with lots of melted butter and/or sprinkled with white vinegar and freshly ground black pepper (I personally don't care about vinegar and pepper).  You can also add some freshly grated Parmesan (my favorite and how we served today) or Afredo sauce.  Sour cream is another great idea.  I don't recommend tomato sauce because it overpowers the aroma and taste of pelmeni, in my opinion.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Blinchiki for Breakfast

We have distant relatives, an older couple, staying with us for a few days.  This morning, I wanted to treat them to a nice breakfast.  Blinchiki (blintzes) are always a hit and this morning was no exception.  I have used this recipe for many years, with great results.

Ingredients (for 4 servings of 2 blinchiki each):
1 1/2 cup milk (2% works great), warmed just a bit
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I always use King Arthur)
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Combine the milk, eggs, and butter in a medium bowl.  
  2. Mix at medium speed for about one minute or until well incorporated.  
  3. Combine flour and salt in a small bowl.  
  4. Add to the milk mixture.  
  5. Mix at medium for another minute or so; again, until well incorporated.  
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  
  7. Lightly grease a small non-stick skillet and preheat at medium heat.  
  8. Pour 1/8 to 1/4 cups batter (adjust thickness to your liking; I like thicker blinchiki so use 1/4 cup measure) and move the skillet from side to side, to spread the batter.
  9. As the batter starts cooking, you may want to tilt the skillet again, to make sure batter is spread evenly.  You may need to adjust heat (I use 3 on my electric stove).
  10. Cook until top appears slightly dry.
  11. Flip with spatula (you may need to loosen edges a bit) and cook for 15-20 secs longer or until steam stops rising.
  12. Remove to the plate.
  13. Cook the remaining blinchiki, stacking them on the plate.
  14. You can serve them immediately, like traditional pancakes (with jam, syrup, whipped cream, etc.).
  15. Traditionally, they are served with various fillings, though.  My favorite is chopped cooked chicken with sauteed mushrooms and cheese.





Sunday, November 27, 2011

Well, thank you for accepting my money...

Dear Alice,

Your XXXX order has been accepted and will be shipped when ready!

XXXX Shipping Rep

Well, thank YOU for accepting my money.  Where is YOUR thank you for my order???  I did get a couple of nice deals from this company but their communication skills are sorely lacking, in my opinion.




Saturday, November 26, 2011

Retail Madness -- Not for Me!

S. took Beauty out for a walk on Thursday night, then decided to drive around a bit (she loves sticking her head out of the window).  Next thing I know, he calls me from the outlet mall, telling me it's open and there are lots of people.  I told him -- have fun if you like but I don't feel like fighting crowds for questionable deals.  The crazy guy stayed out all night, calling and waking me up periodically, happily reporting his purchases.  Apparently, the dog and her master had a good time.  She loves people-watching and he loves browsing through stores.  I had a relatively restful night (if you don't count calls every couple of hours).  It's a good thing that I can carry a "conversation" while mostly asleep -- I just put the phone on speaker and mumbled responses when prompted (or most of them anyway) until he would find another "deal" and promise to call back.  Sure, honey, carry on...  Another good thing is that I can fall back asleep fairly easy most of the time.

They came back around 8:00 am, tired.  I was awake and well rested, enjoying a morning cup of coffee and watching shopping madness on TV (that's as close as I am willing to get to it, thank you very much).  S. refused to show me all purchases so I am assuming those were my presents???  S. can't keep secrets for long so I am sure he will spill sooner or later, lol.

I did buy a few things online, after tracking prices for a few months, so I know for sure I saved a bit of money.  Not much but probably more than most of these crazy people who don't realize that retailers often jack up prices and then post huge discounts, luring people into thinking they are saving buckets of money.  Yeah, sure...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crockpot Apples

In many cases, simple recipes are more delicious than those with a long list of ingredients and instructions.  Even though we always have quite a few desserts for holiday meals, this one is always my favorite.  While whole baked apples look nicer, they do take space, especially if baked in the oven.  This simple dish takes just a few minutes to throw together and smells so good while cooking, while other dishes are served...  If there are any leftovers (not likely), these apples are awesome with oatmeal.

Everybody was stuffed today and so I just kept my apples on Warm for a couple of hours until everybody was ready for dessert.  Fancy desserts were forgotten as people lined up for this simple treat.  I decorated each serving with fresh mint leaves and planned to take pictures.  Yeah, sure...  I was barely able to save a serving for myself! :)  S. gobbled up his and was trying to sweet-talk me into sharing.  I don't love him that much! ;)

Ingredients (8 small servings -- tripled today):
  • 4 large apples, cored and sliced (not too thinly, maybe 1/4 inch)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 stick light butter (Land O'Lakes is my favorite because it still tastes like real butter), sliced
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Optional:  cranberries, raisins, nuts, etc.
Core and slice apples, toss with brown sugar.   Add to the crockpot.  Arrange butter slices on top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cook on medium for 2-3 hours (or on low for 4-5 hours) or until done.  Serve a la mode.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A bit of retail therapy...

One of our work-study students was selling things from Celebrate Home catalog a couple of months ago.  I knew that she was struggling financially and so purchased several items, then promptly forgot (given my crazy schedule, it's a miracle I can remember anything, lol).  My stuff arrived today, just in time for the cooler weather.



Bean Pot






Bean Pot Basket 






Cookbooks

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where have you been???

I have several students this semester who are totally clueless (and have been since Day 1 -- I posted about this issue earlier).  Having taught for the past 15 years, I have had my share of such students but honestly don't remember any of them being this bad...  really...

It seems like every time I am explaining something, these same students ask stupid questions (yeah, yeah -- there are no stupid questions; but there are!).  For example, I would describe and demo how to, say, create a chart.  Students would ask questions.  Everybody "gets it."  A few minutes later, one of my "problem" students' hand shots up.  "How do I create a chart?"  There is a collective groan of frustration but this individual is usually unfazed.

In case you're wondering, I do utilize various instructional methods, catering to various learning styles.  I do remove potential distractions (e.g., students are not allowed to access personal websites or text, I move around the room, I frequently stand behind them so I can see computer monitors, I do ask questions to keep students on task, I don't lecture for long periods of time, I ask students to follow my demos so they are actively engaged).  Yet, apparently, I can't stop certain individuals from daydreaming (or whatever they are doing).  And it's not a one-time deal, either...

Oh, and these students usually request (and often demand!) extra credit, even though they snoozed through regular course assignments.  Profgrrrrl had a great post about this type of students a few days ago.  She describes my "problem" students perfectly.

Just received an email from one of these students, asking a question we discussed ad nauseam for the past several weeks.  What do I tell this student???  "Where have you been???"  Can't -- will definitely show up on my course evals and, more importantly, this question won't accomplish anything.

I worry about these students...  How will they function in the workplace?  What can I do to snap them out of this apathy (or whatever it is)?


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lunch!

We have some leftover mashed potatoes so I am making Duchess Potatoes for lunch.  Also, making eggplant roll ups.  This fresh bread completes our lunch.  Bread is baking now while I am making potatoes and S. is grilling eggplant.  Teamwork! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

It seems like everybody is making butternut squash soup so guess what was for dinner tonight? ;)
Here is my version.  It was super yummy and even S., who usually does not care about soups, had two bowls and said he really liked it!!!



Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients:
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (S. and his muscles helped)
  • 1 large onion,  peeled and quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tart, firm apples, peeled, cored, and quartered (or pears)
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and divided in half
  • 4-5 cups homemade chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 lean bacon strips, finely chopped (use center-cut, only 23 cals per slice)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss the squash, onions, garlic, and apples with the butter to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast stirring every 10 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  4. Finely chop bacon and fry until crispy.  Drain.
  5. Place half of the vegetables with 2 cups of stock in a food processor and puree until smooth.
  6. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and 2 more cups of stock.
  7. Heat the pureed mixture in a soup pot and add bacon, parsley, and more salt/pepper (if needed).  If it's too thick, add more chicken stock (or cream, if you like it).
  8. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hmmm... apparently, I don't know my name...

So I get a phone call from a rude telemarketer, even though my number has been on no-call list for a long time. This individual than proceeds to insist that my last name is Alice. I told her that surely I know my own first name. She pointed out that, per HER computer records, my last, not first, name is Alice. Then she had an audacity to hang up on me! Goodness gracious, what is wrong with some people???

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"In your spare time..."

One of my students emailed this morning:  "In your spare time, would you please..."  Spare time?!  What spare time?!  If this person had to wait until I had "spare time," s/he would never hear from me.  Good for him/her, I "make time" to answer. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rosemary Feta Cheese and Bacon Bits Bread

I had a rough week (lots of work-related issues and an eye infection that slowed down my writing) so was mainly catching up this weekend, too exhausted to cook much.

I did make a pot of my chicken noodle soup, since it does not take much time at all but has lots of fresh veggies (onions, mushrooms, celery, carrots, tomatoes, lots of parsley).  S. loves this soup so he did not mind eating it for several meals. 

I also made Feta Cheese Bread, by modifying this recipe.  It took just a few minutes to make.  Also, I needed to use some leftover feta cheese.  This bread is delicious, especially when still warm -- chewy on the inside but flaky on the outside, infused with aroma of rosemary, feta cheese, and bacon.  Combined with homemade chicken noodle soup?  Mmmmmmmm...  Time spent?  15-20 mins for soup and under 5 mins for bread.  Hmmmmmm... ;)

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I only had 1/2 cup this time)
  • 3 oz bacon bits
  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp because I only had 1/2 cup feta cheese; salt is important for the rising process)
  • 1 tbsp crushed dried rosemary
Directions:
  1. Add all ingredients to the breadmaker bucket (liquids first, yeast last).
  2. Set on Dough cycle.
  3. Spray the cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Spread the dough so it's not thicker than 1 1/4 inches (flatten with your hands).
  5. Score the top in squares or diamonds.
  6. Let the dough rise for an hour, away from the draft (microwave is a perfect place -- just make sure nobody turns it on, lol).
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 F (I have a small oven so 400 F works better).
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool a bit and cut, following your scoring marks.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweet Breakfast Rolls

I have been away from home for over two weeks because of two back-to-back business trips.  So poor S. has been relying on frozen leftovers.  Driving home last night, I decided to make sweet rolls for breakfast that I have seen on this blog.  S. was very happy to walk into the kitchen, fragrant with freshly baked bread aroma, and snag several buttery sugary pillowy rolls.  He also took several with him, to snack on later.  I was very, very good this morning and only had one small roll. :)  Now I need to get back to writing -- one chapter is ready to go, two more are getting close.  I really would like (and know I can) finish rough drafts by the end of this weekend.

A few words about these rolls...  Some breads don't do well if left overnight in the fridge.  The original recipe did not say anything about that but I haven't had much sleep over the last two weeks (and I am not a morning person under the best circumstances) and wasn't about to wake up very early just to make rolls.  So I made the dough and left it in the fridge overnight.  It worked!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole milk -- didn't have any milk so used half-and-half
5 TBSP unsalted butter
2 4x1 inch strips of orange zest (use a vegetable peeler) -- chopped a medium orange into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract -- use almond emulsion, same amount
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast -- I used 2 tsp
1/4 cup warm water
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour -- used bread flour, King Arthur's (strongly recommended)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
Topping:
4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Directions:
(1) Heat the milk, butter, and orange peel on low-medium flame until butter is melted.  Discard the orange peel.  I chopped a medium orange, mashed to release juice while butter was melting, and then discarded lare pieces.  I think it will be better to finely shred zest and just leave it in the dough for added fragrance and texture.
(2) While milk-butter mix is cooling, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.  Let sit until bubbles form.
(3) Lightly whisk eggs and add to the cooled milk-butter mixture, along with almond emulsion.
(4) Pour milk-butter-egg mixture into the breadmaker bucket.
(5) Add the remaining ingredients -- flour, sugar, salt, and yeast mixture.
(6) Set on Dough -- takes 1.5 hours for my machine.
(7) When the dough is done, lightly spray the glass bowl with non-stick spray.  If not ready to bake rolls right away, form the dough into a large ball and place into the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.
(8) Divide the dough into 24 small rolls.  Roll each roll into a thick rope, about 4 inches long.  Make a knot so one end is peeking at the top and the other at the bottom.  Arrange on the baking sheet.  Let rise in a draf-free place for about an hour (I use microwave oven -- you just need to make sure nobody decides to turn it on, lol).  I set an alarm for approximately one hour before I knew S. would wake up for work, formed rolls, and went back to bed.
(9) Preheat oven to 350-400 F (I used a small oven and it does not heat as well, so used 400; 350 is better for large ovens).
(10) Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes or until evenly golden brown. 
(11) Brush each roll with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
(12) Enjoy with morning coffee or tea.  I made Earl Grey this morning.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Live" Chat "Conversation"

Agent:  Good evening, how can I help you?
Alice:  I am a course instructor and having problems with...
Agent:  Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: If you are a student, please go here to find a solution...
Alice:  I am not a student.  Would you please address my question?
Agent: Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: This request requires additional research and response time.  We will get back with you via email.
Alice: When should I expect a response?
Agent: Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: This request requires additional research and response time.  We will get back with you via email.
Alice: I am also having problems with... maybe you can help.  Asking a VERY simple question, just to test the system!
Agent: Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: This request requires additional research and response time. We will get back with you via email.
Alice: May I talk to your supervisor?
Agent: Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: This request requires additional research and response time. We will get back with you via email.
Alice: Are you a robot???
Agent: I am a Live Person.
Alice: Can you answer my question then?
Agent: Please give me a moment to find an answer for you.
Agent: This request requires additional research and response time. We will get back with you via email.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spa Day

This summer just disappeared, leaving me behind, in shock, staring in amazement at how much stuff I planned to accomplish and was not able to...  I will have two weeks to catch up and, fingers and toes crossed, will get the important stuff done, of course.  Like finishing at least the first two chapters of my prospectus!  I had such a nice start -- finished a detailed outline, added some ideas that made the writing exciting once again...  Only to be mowed down by a string of events that left me exhausted... NOT discouraged, though...

After a horrible toothache last week, that interfered with my ability to get a good night's rest, I was exhausted this morning...  So I picked up the phone and called one of the local spas, hoping they can work me in.  And they DID!  After enjoying half a day of pampering (salt scrub/soak, massage, facial, mani/pedi, haircut), I am ready to face a very busy weekend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toothache is gone -- thank goodness!!!

Apparently, the new dentist did not file new fillings properly and so the nerve in my lower tooth was not happy and decided to scream for relief, making me miserable and despertate for a week.  My old dentist was able to fix the problem in a few minutes and what a blessed relief it is!  My teeth are still sensitive and I am still furious about silver fillings but being pain free is awesome!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Toothache...

I have been using the same dentist for over ten years, always with great results.  Recently, he decided to semi-retire and share his practice with a younger dentist.  Last time I visited the office for routine cleaning, the new guy talked me into replacing old composite fillings which did not cause any problems whatsoever but, according to him, were a bit darker than they should be.  I agreed.  Thinking back, it was one of those lapses of judgment we all regret later...  There was nothing on the x-ray and so staining must have come from tea/coffee.

So I had an appointment on Tuesday afternoon.  Without telling me, the guy replaced composite (tooth color) filling with old-fashioned amalgam (silver) fillings!  Also, instead of replacing a couple of fillings discussed previously, he replaced six.  Yes, six.  I did not even know I had six old fillings...  Actually, I don't know even know if I really did.  Given his other assumptions, I wonder if he just got happy with a drill???  I know it's just a speculation but still...  The fillings are in the back so not visible when I smile/talk; still, I know they are there.  They are (1) ugly and (2) required more drilling than composite fillings, thus weakening my teeth.

His explanations?  Amalgam fillings last longer.  I had composite fillings for ten years and they were just fine.  I take care of my teeth to minimize the wear and tear!  Explanation for six fillings?  I was there already.  Really?!  Oh, instead of suctioning off pieces of filling material, they told me to rinse my mouth.  Have you tried doing that with half of your mouth totally numb???  Yeah, not much success.  When I finally was able to rinse off my mouth a few hours later, I found at least ten small pieces I could swallowed.  I wonder if I swallowed more???  It's unacceptable and unprofessional!

Now here is the worst part...  My teeth are not just sensitive -- they hurt!  Since Tuesday!  One of the bottom teeth really hurts -- a constant throbbing pain.  I think he damaged the nerve and I may need a root canal now.  The filling is not tight enough to protect my tooth from liquids so there is a sharp pain anytime I try to drink anything.  Every sip hurts!  I am avoiding hot/cold liquids but even room temperature plain water hurts.  However, the filling IS covering the tooth so local analgesic does not penetrate.  I tried both liquid and cream -- no effect.  My gums get a bit numb but the pain is inside.  The only way to stay sane is to take Tylenol.  The numbing effect only lasts a few hours so I wonder how much damage I am doing to my liver...

I have an appointment with my old dentist tomorrow afternoon so, I hope and pray, he does something to relieve my toothache.  It's about to drive me up the wall!!!

Should I file a complaint with ADA???  I did a Google search and found quite a few similar situations so I wonder if people are just accepting pain and suffering as routine or complaints are not going anywhere...  They better NOT charge me for additional treatments!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dude, that's rude!


I should recommend this book to one of the conference participants I encountered today...

Everybody was crowding around the refreshment area after the session, getting tea or coffee.  One small cluster of women already got their drinks but were standing right next to the table, blocking everybody else, and chatting, totally clueless...  I smiled and said, "Excuse me, please."  The response?!  A glare and "SOOOORRRY!"  Then she went back to the conversation!  The other two women did not even bother!!!  I was furious and so just squeezed behind them to get my coffee.  After three hours of advance stats, I was not about to be timid! :)  I needed my coffee, STAT!!! :)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

On dealing with home invasion, popcorn defense, and perfect bread!

Our house was invaded yesterday.  Not by thieves you can swiftly kick out of your house.  No, I wish it was that easy...  Two families with seven kids between them, claiming some distance relationship to S., stopped by yesterday, with a 15-minute notice.  S. could not say no mainly because the guys were playmates over thirty years ago and haven't seen each other for like twenty years.

The lack of warning should have been our warning...  When one of the guys called, we assumed there were only two couples.  I had dinner almost ready (slow-cooked BBQ pulled pork, amazing bread buns, crispy potatoes, tomato salad, and fresh watermelon -- yummy, recipes below).  We had plenty for two more couples but not if they came with a package of seven kids!  Worse, all four parents sat down and never moved an inch, as kids tore through the house.  S. and I exchanged a look and decided NOT to experiment with BBQ sauce.
Instead, we offered an assortment of drinks and freshly sliced watermelon.  It was a large watermelon but it was gone in minutes.  Then I had an idea!  I bought this retro popcorn maker a few weeks ago.  So I took out oil, corn, an assortment of popcorn flavorings, and plastic bowls.  That immediately got the attention of every kid, even the toddler.  Their eyes grew wide as popcorn started flying out of the bowl.  They all grabbed a bowl and stood (finally stood, instead of running around), waiting for popcorn.  Wow!  I ended up making quite a few batches -- ten, I think.  I don't know where they were packing all that popcorn, especially after devouring an entire watermelon.

Popcorn was everywhere, as you can imagine.  After they finally left, S. and I walked into the house and shook our heads at the mess.  Fortunately, it only took vacuuming/sweeping and mopping the floor and wiping all surfaces with Lysol.  Oh, Beauty the dog helped, too -- she happily munched on popcorn like a canine vacuum she is, lol.  Bubbles the cat did not care about popcorn and just watched from her "throne," probably laughing at us.  She actually hid in the bathroom when she saw those kids storm in.  Bubbles, the fearless cat who usually climbs on a guest's lap to say hello!

Then we enjoyed our delayed dinner...  I kept the slowcooker on warm so pulled pork did not need to be reheated.  I used this recipe and added extra BBQ sauce. 

The bread would have been better fresh out of the oven but it's an awesome recipe and so we just warmed it in a microwave for a few secs.  The recipe is here.  Try it -- you will never buy hamburger buns again, I promise. :)  I made 12 smaller buns.  The recipe calls for nine but they are HUGE.

Tomato salad was very simple:  thinly sliced onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic salt, olive oil.  It was a bit soggy.

Crispy potatoes were ruined, though... :(  They are easy to make but must be eaten fresh out of the oven.  It's a very simple recipe:  peel and slice potatoes into wedges, soak in cold water for one hour, drain the water, and dry potatoes with paper towels.  Toss with olive oil, garlic salt, and a bit of red pepper.  Bake in a preheated oven at 400 for 15-20 mins on each side.  Broil for a few mins for extra crispness.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Venting

I don't like it when somebody schedules things involving me without giving me a fair warning.  Somebody did this yesterday and trying to do it today.  I am not a happy person.

Yesterday, I had to reschedule the online course orientation meeting with my students.  Yeah, I am crazy to schedule work-related stuff on Sunday, but taking care of students prior to the beginning of semester (it started today) helps me to avoid quite a few problems later.  Many students take online courses because they are working long hours during the week and can only meet over the weekend.  I don't mind, really -- does not matter to me when I work, as long as I am spending a reasonable amount of time.  If I work over the weekend, I have time to write during the week.

Anyway, yesterday I had to reschedule from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  Well, the person kept me late and so I was a few minutes late for the session.  Of course, technology was not cooperating, as it always does when you're running late; have you noticed that?  Not a good start for students, especially those who have never taken online courses before.  If I had a chance to login early, I probably would have been able to resolve most, if not all, problems ahead of time.  See why I am upset???

Today, this same person is trying to do the same thing.  I already have a meeting scheduled for this afternoon and now this person wants to reschedule.  NO!  I have a long list of things to do today and need to focus on my own committments.  In fact, I could have shortened the list if I did not waste three hours yesterday, helping this person with something that actually does not benefit me at all.  So, here, feeling better! :)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Progress!


MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss Tools


I did not have time to write this week because registering students for both Summer and Fall semesters and getting ready for next week (classes start on Monday) consumed every waking moment.  However, I am almost done with pre-planning and might even get a chance to write a bit this weekend.  I am busy but not overwhelmed -- such a good feeling!  The last couple of years have been absolutely crazy so I am so excited about gradually retaining control of my life.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chicken, Onion, Garlic Quiche with Parmesan in a Couscous Crust

I made couscous for dinner a couple of days ago and we still had some left.  After a quick search, I found this recipe.  I added grilled chicken and, voila, delicious breakfast!  I took the pic before baking.  This dish turns yummy golden brown and smells heavenly while baking.  A generous slice (this recipe serves 6) is only approximately 300 calories, depending on modifications.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Progress

I did write quite a bit so far but still struggling with the flow of information.  Everybody knows that laundry list of studies is a big no-no for the lit review but I have always struggled with that.  Alas, prospectus lit review is so much more difficult than just a paper.  I just feel like I have said everything I wanted to say.  Trying to move past this obstacle...

It's expensive but I have decided to work with a dissertation coach, just to get me through the first few chapters.  It's been two long years and occassional few pages are not getting me anywhere.  I am hoping to create a stressful situation since per hour consulting is expensive so definitely an incentive to meet deadlines.  I am always working better when deadlines are looming.

Based on prior experience, once I get through prospectus, things will start rolling because I have always enjoyed writing up results and discussion and never had any problems with not having enough to say.  Most of the time, I actually have to restraint myself from being too verbose.

I did lose a few pounds.  Not as much as I wanted but at least I have been eating healthier, mainly because I had more time to cook healthy meals.  I do cook a lot but, when tired, I tend to select "comfort" foods, not necessarily "healthy" foods.  One of my friends shared this website:  http://www.myfitnesspal.com/.  I love it!  I can also use it on my phone so eating out is much easier.

Back to work next week but my schedule is fairly light this summer.  I think I will stay at the other house, away from S.  As much as I love him, he can be a HUGE distraction.  Like this morning...  It's not even noon and he already called twice!  I appreciate attention but sometimes it's too much.  I was accomplishing so much more before I met him.  I don't like admitting this but it's a fact...

avandia class action