Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thurs #35

1. We got Blockette's ceiling fan up again.  (Although working properly is a different story altogether.)

2. Nice visit with friends.

3. Not panicking (too much) being the hostess.

4. The rain stopped before I had to stand outside in it.

5. Not getting sick while working.

6. Being patient while Blockette had a meltdown.

7. It's been nearly a month since her last meltdown.  (Which is a huge improvement from the biweekly meltdowns at the beginning of the summer.)

8. Blockette apologized on her own without prompting.

9.  Mrblocko and I chillin out watching TV together without one of us reading, sewing or playing on the computer.  (We've just finished season 1 of Mad Men and we're hooked!)

10. The school secretary was very nice when I filled out my time sheet incorrectly...twice.  (Yeah, I felt super special.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spiral Cut Dogs

No. Not this kind of spiral cut dog:

These spiral cut dogs from Chow!

Have you seen them before? They were all over the food blog-o-sphere earlier this summer.  I'm just a bit late to the game.

Holy cow!  I don't think we'll ever go back to cooking hot dogs on the grill the ordinary way again.

Mrblocko and I were both a bit skeptical at first.  I mean, last year we tried the marinaded hot dogs where you cut slits in the hot dogs.  Neither of us thought they were really anything special.

However, the spiral cut dogs are a whole 'nother story.  In spiral cutting the dogs you expose more surface area to the grill, so you get more caramelized charred meaty goodness.  Plus, with the slinky effect created by the spiral cut, the hot dog now goes from one end of the bun to the other.  No hot dog-less bit of bun leftovers!

Oh, one more thing...if you are a fan of loading up your hot dogs with condiments, the spiral cut allows for the relish, onions, chili, whatever, to be evenly distributed throughout the hot dog.  On an ordinary hot dog all that stuff just gets piled on top and falls off.  Whatever you put on the hot dog falls into the nooks and crannies between the spirals.  It's a pretty groovy thing.

So how do you make spiral cut hot dogs?
1. Take a skewer and poke it through the center of the hot dog lengthwise.
2. Cut at an angle down to the skewer rolling away from you to form the spiral.
3. Remove the skewer.
4. Grill.
5. Top with desired fixins.
6. Chomp away!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Renaissance Festival Fun

This year, instead of having a birthday party for Blockette, we decided to take her to the MN RenFest. Even though there is a Ren Faire much closer to us in WI, Mrblocko and I are partial to the one in MN.

Mrblocko and I have pretty much taken a break from the Ren faires since Blockette was born.  There was always one reason or another why we couldn't go.  So we just made some time and figured out a way to go.  As luck would have it, an extremely shirt tail relative was able to get us free tickets. Score!

Blockette wasn't too sure about the whole thing at first.  She wondered why everyone was so "fancy."  Then I think that it hit her it was one big game of pretend and dress up.   Then she was upset we didn't all go completely in costume.  Maybe next time.

As it was, she was pretty fairy-ied up with her wings, wand and new crown-tiara-head dress thingie.

I really wished I'd taken more pictures.  Particularly of the faun.  She had hooves and everything.  She gave Blockette the bell for her wand from a secret fairy stash.  I think I was too in awe of the cuteness to remember I had a camera dangling from my wrist.

Here are a few pictures I DID remember to take of Blockette's favorite parts of the Festival.

First: The Secret Fairy Garden.

Blockette liked it so much we went through twice.  
Truth be told, this is one of my favorite places at the festival too.

You really have to know that this garden is there.  The entrance is in this weird spot where it doesn't look like much.  Then you go around this hedge and you come to a hobbit house.  This year they had a little person pretending to be a hobbit.  Blockette thought that was awesome too.  She had a grand old time chatting that young lady up. 

After the hobbit house you wander through this wooded path.  This in itself is awesome as it is the only truly shaded place in all of the festival grounds. 

The path takes you past several small fairy cottages.  It's sort of sad that they have to be roped off.  It would have been cool to take some closer pictures.  Why do people have to be dorks and ruin things for everyone? 

Anyhow.  The enchanted forest was right up our alley.  If you ever go to the MN Ren Fest, you've got to check it out.

Blockette's second most favorite thing at the fair was: The Mermaids.
This was a new feature at the Fair this year.  I opted to sit under a tree while Mrblocko stood in line with Blockette for 20 minutes. 

Blockette said it was totally worth the wait in the sun to see the mermaids.  She informed me that some of them were the tricky mean kind like the ones on "The Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."  Although, apparently the mermaid in the tank was one that wanted to be caught to see people.  I guess she was from the Ariel/Little Mermaid school of thought.  

I did ask Blockette if they were REAL mermaids and she gave me a weird look and said, "Oh of course they were."  (Cause why would they advertise they had mermaids if they weren't real?)

All in all Blockette had a smashing time.  She can't wait to go back!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cookie Dough Brownies

I was originally going to make Pudge Cake from Cookies and Cups for my birthday.  The bottom layer is a boxed brownie mix, baked in a 8" cake pan.  Then, you have a nice thick layer of salmonella free chocolate chip cookie dough.  And if that isn't enough, you've got a top layer of Funfetti cake.  Finally there's the obvious frosting, and decorative cookies.

Doesn't that sound sinful amazing?


Then I remembered that the day after my birthday we were driving up to Minnesota.

There was no way we could eat that entire massive cake in one day.  Nor would it stay fresh in the fridge.  I'm sure I could have frozen it, but there was no room in the freezer.  (I had made huge batches of spaghetti, turkey stock, and chili recently.)

So it was back to the birthday cake drawing board.  I settled on cookie dough brownies from Buns in my Oven.

Although, it wasn't really settling.

These brownies were exactly what I was craving!   Chocolate Fudgy brownies and cookie dough.  Yeah!

I used a box mix for my brownies, but you could jazz this up and make it from scratch.  You could even make one of those fancy box mixes with chocolate chunks or caramel.  I wasn't feeling fancy so I went with the standard fudgy brownie.

As these brownies are super rich, we didn't finish them in time either.  There was much less to try to fit into the freezer, esp considering I left a few in the fridge for our cat sitter.

I can only think of two bad things about these brownies:
1.) The cookie dough has a tendency to fall away from the brownie.  Blockette actually preferred eating her dough separate from the brownie.  I just smooshed them down together and forced them to stick.  Not a big deal in my book.

2.) I ate the last one on Friday for at lunch. Wah!

Cookie Dough Brownies from Buns in My Oven
1 recipe or box of brownie mix, prepared and baked
3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
3/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar
3 T milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c chocolate chips (I used semi sweet)

Bake brownies per package instructions, in a 8x8 or 9x9 pan lined with foil, and sprayed with cooking spray.  I like fudgy brownies, so I followed those directions.  Let the brownies cool completely.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla until well combined. Slowly add flour and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips. Top the baked and cooled brownies with the cookie dough.  Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Belated Thankful Thurs #33 and 34

1. Some beautiful fall like weather.

2. Hand me downs. I had very little back to school clothes shopping to do. 

3. Blockette's awesome performance in her first church musical.

4. I got a part time job as a crossing guard!

5. At least we found out our trees have Emerald Ash Borer before they totally fell over dead.

6. I have a job to help pay for our tree removal.

7. Blockette was not in her room when her ceiling fan fell.

8. I was able to get the ladder under the fan to stop the ceiling from falling apart. (The fan was too heavy for me to disassemble by myself.)

9. Mrblocko came home without me asking him to, in order to take the fan down. (It was balanced rather precariously on the ladder.)

10. Our handy neighbor came over after work and reattached the metal box that was supposed to be attached to the ceiling beam with several very long beastly screws.

11. Mrblocko agreed that we should not attempt to reattach the fan before heading out to MN that night.

12. A great visit with my mom.

13. Blockette loves the ren fair as much as I did at that age.

14. We all survived the long summer break without going completely insane.

15. I managed to find gym shoes the day before school started.  I checked them the week before and the ones she had fit just fine.  What is she doing? Growing in her sleep? 

16. Blockette's teacher seems like a great fit. 

17. Blockette LOVES school.

18. Naps!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Happy Seventh Blockette!

Hey Pumpkin!

Hope your special day is filled with magic!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Second Grader

Wasn't she just starting preschool last week?

EEP!  My baby is growing up way too fast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spongebob's Scallion Pancakes

My Husband pointed out the other day that Spongebob Squarepants was not a "real" sponge.

I mean he's square.

Natural sponges are not square, so therefore, Spongebob is a synthetic man made sponge.

This sort of bummed me out until I remembered that he lived in a pineapple.

Oh, and the whole thing is an animated made up way not real show.

Sometimes I'm slow on the uptake.

Any hoooo.... earlier this summer Blockette checked out Sponge bob's kitchen mission cookbook, by Nickelodeon, from the library.  I was surprised that the Scallion Pancakes caught her eye.

They were a bit fussy, but what else is there to do on a summer day when it's too hot to play outside and there are no kids at home in the neighborhood during the day and your munchkin is bored with all her toys.

I meant to take pictures of all the different steps, but I got distracted by my "helper".  Please imagine a photo of a ball of dough, a flattened ball of dough with green onions on it, and another of said flattened ball of dough being rolled into a tube.

Roll the tube into a spiral.

Flattened spirals on the skillet.

Yummy scallion pancakes quartered for easy dipping!
I think I enjoyed these savory "pancakes" more than Blockette did.  Although I think they are more of a flatbread than a pancake.  Maybe they call them pancakes because it's a term that is familiar to little ones?

Here's the recipe if you'd like to make some for yourself or your shorty short (square)pants.

Scallion Pancakes from Sponge bob's kitchen mission cookbook by Nickelodeon
1 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c water
3 T veg oil, divided
s and p to taste
1/2 c thin sliced green onions

ginger dipping sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 c gr oinions, 1 t minced ginger or 1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2 T sugar

Mix all ingredients for dipping sauce.  Set aside.

Combine flours, water and 1 T oil.  Knead 3 minutes on lightly floured surface.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest 30 min.

Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Roll out ball to make thick pancake about 5" across.  Spread 1/2 t oil, salt and pepper to taste,  1 T gr onions.  Roll up jelly roll style.  Coil into spiral.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Take snail shaped dough and roll out to 1/8 " thick.  Heat griddle or skillet over med high heat.  Lightly brush skillet with veg oil.  Cook 2 min per side til golden brown cut into wedges serve with ginger dipping sauce.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Tex Mex Crackers

Back in December I made these Ranch flavored oyster crackers. They were super addictive and I put them on everything from soup to salads.  I could not stop eating them.

So when I saw this recipe for Tex Mex Crackers in the kid's recipe book American Grub, by Lynn Kuntz, I knew I had to make some right away.
I fiddled with the recipe just a wee bit.  The original directions do not call for baking the coated crackers.  This made the crackers really greasy, and the seasoning stuck to your fingers, not the crackers when you tried to nibble on a handful.  Not good.

Over all, these were a tasty treat.  They weren't as addictive as the ranch crackers, but that was a good thing.  It helped facilitate portion control. And that is a good thing, particularly since oyster crackers have a fairly high fat content when it comes to crackers.

Here's what we did when we made our version of the Tex Mex Crackers:
1 12 oz pkg oyster crackers
1 1/2 T Taco seasoning
1/4 t chili powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t oregano
1/8 t cumin
1/3 c oil (I think 1/4 c would be sufficient)

Mix. Bake 250F for 15 min. Stir every 5 min.  Cool and eat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

DIY Pizza Lunchables

Last school year all Blockette could seem to talk about was Pizza Lunchables. How she loved pizza Lunchables. How pizza Lunchables were the best lunch on earth. And how come I never bought her pizza Lunchables? Didn't I love her? Didn't I know I was causing her excessive lunchroom trauma by not buying this wonderful meal in a box for her?


I explained to her that not only were they expensive for the amount of food you got, they weren't all that tasty.

She wasn't buying any of that.

I also tried to tell her that the pizza Lunchables probably wouldn't be a good idea because they are rather messy to eat. Oh, but didn't I know that Lunchables were magic?  They have the ability to transform the messiest eater into someone suitable for tea with the Queen.

I had no idea of those amazing properties?  Did you?

So I placated her by making a bargain. I found this recipe for diy pizza lunchables over at Mommys Kitchen.  I told her we'd test out how messy they would be while we were in the comfort of our own home, and if all went well, she could take some to school in the fall.

I let her assemble some mini pizzas just like she would if she was going to eat them in the school cafeteria.  

Guess what?

Not only were they messy, the cheese was NOT melted!  Maybe those Pizza  Lunchables weren't so stupendous after all. 

However, since we were at home, I popped those little guys under the broiler for a few minutes.

Now there was the awesome amazing life changing lunch Blockette was hoping for.  She was a bit bummed that she can't have them like this at school. (What do you mean no one will heat them up in the oven for me?)  I think she was satisfied to have them as a special at home lunch.

Homemade Pizza Lunchables from Mommy's Kitchen
1 - recipe no fail pizza crust or store bought pizza crust
1 - 14 oz jar pizza sauce - I like to add extra veggies (onions, roasted red peppers, shredded carrot, zucchini) to the sauce and freeze it for later
mozzarella and cheddar cheese

Prepare pizza dough according to recipe. Separate dough into 18-20 golf ball size pizza balls. Set aside and let the dough rest for about 10 min. Preheat oven to 400 F. On a floured surface roll out each pizza dough ball into a 5"circle.

Place place each pizza round on a pizza pan or baking stone. Bake for 8-10 min or until the bottoms are very lightly brown. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pizza pan. When completely cool place in a gallon size freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.

To assemble Lunchables for transport to school:
Add two pizza crusts to a plastic container with a lid. Add about 2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce to a snack size zip lock bag and seal. Add mozzarella, cheddar cheese and pepperoni if using to a second bag and seal (about 1/2 c cheese). Add everything to the plastic sandwich container and place a plastic spoon inside to spread the pizza sauce. Close or snap shut and add to your child's lunch box.

To make at home:
Defrost 2 - 4 crusts in the microwave on high for 20 seconds.  place on rimmed cookie sheet.  Top with sauce, cheese and pepperoni.  Broil for about 5 min until cheese melts.

No Fail Pizza Crust from Mommy's Kitchen
2 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 c warm water
1 T baking powder
4 T butter, softened
1 - 1/4 oz packet rapid rise yeast

Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Mix flour, salt and baking powder . Add butter and cut into flour mix using a pastry blender or fork. Add yeast mix and stir. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface til well blended. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn dough to coat. Let rest for 20 min. Cover bowl with dish towel or plastic wrap while dough rests. Preheat the oven to 400F.

(For regular sized pizza) Spray pizza pan with non stick baking spray or brush with olive oil. You can also use a pizza stone. Press dough into pan. Pre bake crust 10 min. Remove from oven and spread with sauce and toppings. Bake until crust is golden browned and cheese melted, 10-15 min.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summertime Bread

Are you ready to get your mind blown?
I just made this bread in my crockpot.



For those of you with fancy schmancy bread makers, this won't be a big deal.  I am not fancy enough to own one so I'm pretty over the moon about fresh bread in the summer without turning my house into gross hot ickyness. 

Now this bread is essentially steamed, so it doesn't have the same texture as the average run of the mill artisan loaf of bread.  The bread is a lot more moist.  We prefer this bread toasted, as it is a bit too moist for our liking otherwise.  Sometimes I'll even toast the bread, slap some cheese and garlic powder on it, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes and call it lunch. It's sort of like an open faced grilled cheese sandwich.  Yummers!

What is great is that the recipe makes enough dough for about 3 loaves, and the dough keeps in the fridge, uncooked, for about 2 weeks.  Whenever I'm in the mood for fresh bread I just tear into the dough and plop a blob in the slow cooker.  I'd like to say it's instant gratification, but I'm happy to wait two hours for bread that doesn't cause the AC to go into cardiac arrest.

Peasant bread in the Crockpot from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
3 c luke warm water
1 1/2 T yeast
1 1/2 T salt
1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c wheat flour
5 1/2 c unbleached flour

mix yeast, salt and water in 5 qt bowl.  Mix in remaining dry ingred without kneading.  You can use a stand mixer with a hook if you want.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid that does not have an airtight seal.  Let stand at room temp for 2 hours.  You can use it now, but it is easier to handle when cold. Refridgerate and use before 14 days.  break off about 1 lb/grapefruit size ball.  Shape it into a ball, stretching surface of the dough around to the bottom of the ball.  Rotate the ball as you do this.  Place in crockpot lined with parchment paper.  Cover placing kitchen towel under lid to catch condensation.  Bake for 45 min on high or until the bread feels firm to the touch.

My crockpot took 2 hours so you'll have to do a bit of experimenting with your first loaf.  I got 3 loaves from the above recipe.  If you use a larger crockpot you will have a flatter loaf.

For some reason my slow cooker never gets the bottom of the bread nice and crisp.  I prefer a slightly crisper crust so I place the loaf, bottom side up, on a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven and broil for 5 minutes.  I figure 5 minutes of oven time is doable for fresh bread.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Flavored Popcorn

I totally heart the library.

Yeah, I love it so much I heart it.

Not only do they have books with words for your brain, they have books with words for your belly.

In the past I've only looked at the grown up cook books. Little did I know, there are all kinds of fun kid's cook books! It was the Library's summer reading program for kids that got me interested in this new avenue for recipes.

One little gem Blockette and I discovered was Spongebob's Kitchen Mission by Nickelodeon.  We giggled our way through the whole book.  One great thing about the book is that it's spiral bound!  It lays nice and flat on the counter.  Why don't they make all cook books spiral bound?  It certainly would make preparing the recipes from the book a lot easier.

One of the recipes in the book was for flavored popcorn.  Well, neither Blockette, nor I could pass that up.

First we tested out the Italian flavored popcorn.   Blockette said it tasted like a lasagna dinner, in a good way.  Unfortunately, the cheese didn't stick to the popcorn. This may have been because I used the powdered stuff from the green can.  I thought the powder would adhere better than the real stuff shredded from the wheel.  Next time I think I'd just reduce the Parmesan cheese from 1/2 c to 1/4 c.  Blockette and I really enjoyed this popcorn.

Next we tried the sweet and spicy popcorn.  Blockette was put off by the title spicy.  She was afraid that it would be too hot for her liking.  I knew that none of the spices in the recipe contained any kind of heat.  Besides, would a mainstream cookbook targeted towards kids have something spicy in it?  No.  Not if it wanted to sell a lot of copies!  I told Blockette that the popcorn was going to be zippy and zesty, not hot.

Guess what?!

I was right!

She loved it!  We both agreed that it was the better out of the two popcorns.  (I think this is saying something for the sweet and spicy flavor because we both really liked the Italian popcorn!)  The brown sugar balances the spices nicely, so no one flavor is overpowering.  There's just layers of goodness all blended together.  Super yummy!

Here is how I made the popcorn, slightly adapted from Spongebob's Kitchen Mission by Nickelodeon.

1/4 c plus 2T popcorn kernels
2 brown paper lunch bags
3 T butter, melted

Topping choice 1: Italian
1/4c Parmesan cheese
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder

Topping choice 2: Sweet 'n' zingy
1 T brown sugar
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t garlic powder

Divide kernels evenly into the brown paper bags. Fold the top of the bags down to prevent a popcorn disaster in your microwave.  Nuke each bag separately for 1-2 min or until popping almost stops.  (Ours needed 2 minutes and did not burn.)  Transfer popcorn to large bowl. Drizzle with butter and toss to coat.  Top with your choice of seasoning mix.  Toss well to coat.  Try to share with the rest of your family.

The Bird is the Word

Last week Blockette and I went to the fabric store.  Sounds like no big whoop right?

Well, while we were there she fell in LOVE with these little stuffed birds that made a bird call when you squeezed them.  She loved them, except for the noises they made.

Oh how badly she wanted one.


They were $9.  Which is a lot when you only have $13.

Somehow I convinced her to wait.  I told her maybe Grandma would get it for her for her birthday.

Then, the next day, wouldn't you know it, I magically came across this pattern from Quilting Daily.  (You have to sign up to download/view the pattern, but it's free.)  I showed it to Blockette and she said that was exactly what she wanted and would I please please please make one for her?

I let her pick out all the fabric from my scrap bin.

I laugh every time I see that pinkish purple fabric. It is a leftover from a Gypsy costume for Mrblocko.  It's like the fabric that never ends.  Just when I think I've used the last of it, more pops up.

The tension on my sewing machine started to go all wonky at the end of this project.  I've been fighting with the machine for over a year now.  I even took it in to the repair shop and they did a massive cleaning and it worked fine...for about a month.  Then it got all wonky again.  The thing is, it works fine while I'm at the store.  Then when it get it back home again, it is naughty all over again.  I'm pretty sure the darn thing has it in for me.  I don't understand why it can't work how I want it to, when I want it to.  GRRRRR!

Anyhow, back to our little non feathered friend.

Blockette named it Sunshine...because it is rainbow colored.  Um...ohhhh kaaaay.  Whatever works.
Sunshine is the center of Blockette's universe. 
To the point that it is driving me a bit nutty. 
 (Not that it was a long trip.)

At least she loves the things I make her.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thurs #32

1. Blockette and Mrblocko biked 4 miles together., and Blockette only complained about the hills, not the distance.  (I mean can you blame her?  Hills are the worst.)

2. Getting together with friends for lunch.

3. Almost making it home from our friend's house before the torrential rains started.(If we had left their house any later we would have had to sit on the side of the tollway and wait out the storm.)

4. Making it home without incident.  (There was a close call when the car ahead of us couldn't see the road and went into the oncoming lane of traffic!)

5. No big branches on the tree fell in the big storm.

6. We now have a tiny patch of backyard that gets some sun for part of the day since Mrblocko trimmed a really large branch hanging over the house.

7. We have lots of wood (once it drys out) for our new fire pit that I bought with the gift card I won from Lowes.

8. Music camp for Blockette all this week!

9. Actually being productive while Blockette is away for a few hours.

10.Mrblocko talks sense into me when I'm being irrational.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Salad with Noodley Goodness

I am so super duper triple quadruple sick of the heat this summer. I've been avoiding the oven as much as I possibly can. We've gotten sick of my go to salad recipes, so I decided to switch things up and make chicken salad from A Well Seasoned Life.

Instead of lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, I used about 3 large grilled chicken breasts.  I had Mrblocko brush them with Italian salad dressing and lemon pepper.  Had I been thinking, I would have marinaded them first.  As it is, I thought it was pretty swell that I remembered to thaw the chicken out so he could grill them up over the weekend for me to use later in the week.

I also added about a third of a box of noodles.  Obviously, I cooked them before adding them to my salad.  Well, maybe not so obviously.  I've been super spacy and forgetful this summer.  I blame it on the heat and extreme allergy-ness. 

Apparently, my cilantro doesn't like this weather either.  I killed all the cilantro in my garden, so I bought a bunch at the store.  I got around to using it 3 days after I bought it, and nearly all of it was slimy!  Doh!  I was able to salvage a scant 1/4 c, so I added a few ribs of finely chopped celery.  I really liked the crunch this added to the salad.

I ate my chicken salad over a bed of lettuce.

Blockette thought this salad was icky because she could "see" the mayo.  I'm not sure what that had to do with anything.  Probably because she watched me make this salad, and knew that it had mayo in it, she decided it must be gross.

I asked her if she would eat it if she couldn't "see" any of the mayo, and she said, "Of course."
So I wrapped her salad up in lettuce leaves. Blockette thought this was super cool and happily ate her "lettuce burritos" without a fuss. She even went as far as to say she liked them and would I make them again? It's funny how a simple thing, like a leaf of lettuce, made such a big difference.

Chicken Pasta Salad adapted from A Well Seasoned Life
1 rotissarie chicken or 3-4 grilled chicken breasts, shredded
4 green onions, chopped
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1/4-1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro (I totally think you could use fresh parsley if you are freaky and think cilantro tastes like dirt.)
1/3 lb short cut pasta, (like macaroni) cooked, drained and rinsed in cool water to prevent sticking

special super secret sauce

1 c mayo (I like the kind made with olive oil)
2 T spicy mustard
4-5 drops hot sauce
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t garlic salt
1/2 t smoked paprika

Blend your super secret sauce ingredients together.  Add everything else and mix until combined.  Chill for a few hours so the flavors can mingle and get happy with each other.  Scoop onto a bread like substance for a sandwich, over lettuce, or like Blockette prefers, wrapped in leafy greens!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How We Kick it Old School

People think we are weird because this is how we roll:

1. We don't own an I pod. - We listen to music on the radio, or on Pandora.

2. We don't own an e-reader. - We read REAL booky books, from the Library no less.

3. We don't own a gaming system.  - All the games we play are on the computer.

4. We don't own smart phones.

5. We don't go on the internet with our phones.

6. We don't text on our phones.  (Ok Mrblocko does occasionally if that is the only way he can get a hold of a client, but it's less than 5 texts a month.)

7. We don't have any Movie channels or movie subscriptions.  - We watch movies on Hulu for free, or borrow them from friends or the library.

8. We don't do Facebook. - Ok sure I have an account, but only so I can use pinterest.

9. We don't use Twitter.

10.  Up until a month ago, I was still using my cd/cassette tape player I bought in high school.  Poor thing, the magic smoke finally left it.  Sniff sniff.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hot Dog Amoebas

These were supposed to be Hot Dog Rolls from Jo Cooks. 
Don't you think they look more like Amoebas?

I do.

They may look like freakish mutant alien explosions, but they were tasty.  I liked that more of the hot dog got exposed than they would with the traditional pigs in a blanket.

Crispy caramelized hot dog = goodness in the belly.

The addition of green onion was a nice change.  It gave the meal a little zing. 

I liked how the shredded cheese piled on the top turned out as well.  When you stick the cheese in the middle of the hot dog wrapped in a crescent roll, the cheese always oozes out the side and makes a huge mess.  This cheese melts evenly and browns nicely without getting burnt.

While I liked the flavor of the dish, man was it ever a lot of work.  The dough just did NOT want to cooperate with me.  And that made me really crabby.  To the point that I just might have almost cried angry tears of frustration.  Maybe.  But that could have been due to crazy allergies and lack of sleep more than not being able to get the dough to cooperate.

I really wanted this recipe to work out brilliantly because it tasted so good.  I think it was just too much fuss for this underslept lady.

Hot Dog Rolls/Flowers/Amoebas/Space Aliens from Jo Cooks
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp yeast
1 egg
2/3 cup water

6 large hot dogs
2 green onions
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (I omitted this because I killed all four of my parsley plants by not watering them twice a day and fanning them and feeding them peeled grapes.  Hopefully they will come back next year.)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg, for egg wash

In a small bowl mix water, yeast and sugar. Let sit for 10 min until it starts bubbling. In another larger bowl, mix flour with salt.  In a small bowl melt butter, add egg and whisk well.  Add wet to flour, including yeast mix.  Stir. You can use mixer here, but I just kneaded the dough by hand. Add more flour as needed.  Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover bowl with a clean towel and let it rest until it doubles in size. (About an hour.)  Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut dough into 6 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Roll out each piece into a small rectangle and place a hot dog in the middle of the dough, then just wrap the dough around the hot dog, covering well.

Cut each covered hot dog, into 1/2" pieces, cut hot dog all the way through, but stop as you reach  dough. Take each piece and roll it out and splay it into a flower-like or amoeba shape. Repeat with remaining hot dogs. Place rolls on a baking lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Brush with egg wash and top with cheddar cheese, parsley and green onions.  Bake  20 min til golden brown.

Friday, August 3, 2012

July Cross Stitches

July was a very stitchy month. I don't know when I've done so much stitching!
 It's been a very long time to say the least.

This design below was from the 2010 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornaments Issue.
The design was by La-De-Da.  I used a variegated silk.  You cant tell very well in the picture, but the colors go from white to very light pink and very light blue.  The fabric is 14 count navy aida.

The next design was stitched on black Aida 14ct, and stitched with a variegated silk.  The original was done on a tan fabric with red thread.  It's amazing how different the design looks with these bright colors.
The design was from the 2009  Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue, by the Sunflower Seed.

The following charts were all freebies:
This one is from By the Bay Needleart.  It was stitched over one on off white 22 ct evenweave.  I added blue for the sky because I thought the motif didn't stand out enough.  I thought the full stitch was too dark, so I just did a half stitch.

The design above is Autumn sampler from cosmic handmade. 
It was stitched on 18 count heathered oatmeal Aida.

Little House Freebie from The Floss Box was stitched on 28 count espresso linen.  
I believe I swapped some of the threads out for other hand dyed floss I had in my stash.  
I stitched this design up over the 4th of July.

Irish blessing chart from The Sampler Girl was stitched on the same fabric as the design from Floss box.  I used hand dyed threads by GAST and WDW, although you can't really tell from this horrible photo.

Finally, the piece de resistance:

This free chart from Disegni per Punto Croce, an Italian site.  I tried to find out if this was a chart with a key, but all I could find was the same chart on several different Italian, Russian and Spanish speaking Blogs.  I figured it would be a great challenge for me to make up my own key.  Through a bit of trial and error I did it.  Here is the finished project.  I'm so proud of it!

It's stitched over two threads on a 28 ct evenweave, possibly monaco, but the tag fell off so I'm not certain.  It was originally off white, but I "tea dyed" it with hot chocolate.  Ok so that sounds weird.  We have this hot chocolate mix that is years old.  I love it, but it gives me a tummy ache every time I drink it.  That's probably why the mix is so old.  I thought it would be fun medium to use to experiment with when I wanted a brown fabric.  I was impatient and didn't let the fabric sit in the cocoa long enough.  Originally, I had wanted the fabric to be a much deeper shade of brown.  As it is, I think the light tan complements the design nicely.

If you'd like to stitch this chart, but don't want to go through the hassle of figuring out your own key, here is what I did.  It's kind of hard to describe as the chart is solely a color chart, without any symbols.  I've listed all the colors from light to dark and hopefully you can figure it all out from that.

The same website has similar designs for peaches and grapes.  Maybe someday I will be brave enough to tackle creating a key for those charts as well.

Oranges key (All threads are DMC unless specified)
Oranges - lightest to darkest
720 +740 (one strand each)
 Outline of oranges and words:900
outline of tiny oranges on the tree inside the "o": 720

White on orange slice: Anchor 275

Purple (lightest to darkest)
outline of banner: 550

White: 000
Light blue on flower: 162
Flower outline: 820

Browns for dirt (light to dark)
Dirt outline: 433

Center of flowers (Light to dark)
outline: 781

Tree trunk browns (light to dark)
tree outline: 938

Sky (light to dark) I did this graduated not really following the charts colors because i wanted the sky to be graduated to navy.
824+823 (this is the navy color)
Black: 310

Blue-ish greens (light to dark) see the colors on the two smallest trees for reference
561 (I used this color to outline the green circles in the dirt)
all other green outline: 895

Yellowish greens (light to dark)
Anchor 255
Anchor 256
Anchor 257 (use this color for the branches to the flowers and the buds)
Anchor 258


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thurs #31

1. A day at home to myself.

2. Not having to water my tomatoes for over two weeks. (Yay rain!)

3. Not having a melt down when Blockette was having one, even though I wanted to.

4. Birthday month is here!

5. I won this contest! (Big thank you to the blog "Crap I've Made")

6. A fun trip to the Planetarium.

7. Blockette with the giggles.

8. Figuring out what was wrong with my Roma tomatoes. (Blossom End Rot. Bleck.)

9. Maybe I fixed the stinky bathroom sink problem. (We'll see in the next few days.)

10. Going to Feed My Starving Children with Blockette. I've never felt like I've done so much good in just 2 hours. (And it was fun too!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Reads

1. The Enchantress by Michael Scott.
Good grief. What a colossal waste of my time.  This was the last book of a really good series (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel), but this book, What The Frell!  I felt like it was LOST all over again.  I kept saying, your going to end it like THAT? (This is the point where I ruin everything, so avert your eyes if you don't want to know. )  I mean, REALLY?  a Time loop?  And They aren't even twins and one of them is a Neanderthal?  WHAT?  Neanderthals don't even have the same skulls as us.  Because, HELLO! they are Neanderthals.  Ok.  I'm done now.  My husband read this series as well, and he had no problems with the ending, so maybe it's just me who had issues. 

2. The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan
This is another finale of a good series. (Kane Chronicles) This one I had no issues with the ending.  I mean it was a little sad, but it didn't make me want to shout and throw the book across the book like the previously mentioned book did.  I kept getting this book and the book mentioned above confused, because it deals with Egyptian Gods and siblings.  

3. A Hero for WondLa by Tony Diterlizzi
This was the second book in the series. I enjoyed this book.  It had this sort of Avatar (the movie with the blue aliens) feel to it at the end, but not in a bad cheesy way.  Eva Nine finds her way into "civilization" and discovers it isn't what she expects or wants.  Futuristic books aren't usually my thing, but for some reason I enjoy this story.  Probably because the characters are so well written.This was a very quick read with all the action, and illustrations.  I loved the illustrations.  I look forward to the finale of this trilogy. 

4. Humming Room by Ellen Potter
This was another little quick read. Basically, this book is a modern retelling of The Secret Garden.  As long as you go into this book knowing that little tidbit, you will enjoy the ride. 

5 The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
Hooray!  I read one grown-up book this month.   This was a historical fiction written as the autobiography of Lavinia Warren, the wife of the real life Tom Thumb, aka Charles Sherwood Stratton.  It tells the story of her life and how she came to be a part of  P.T. Barnum's show.  I'm not really sure how I felt about this story.  It was ok.  I neither loved, nor hated it.  Maybe because the main character was not a very sympathetic person?  I can't quite put my finger on it.  I don't feel like I wasted my time reading it, but it didn't make me want to go out and find more books by the same author either.  If you are a big historical fiction buff, particularly around the time of the civil war, I'd say you should give it a read.

6. The Second Spy by Jaqueline West
This is the third book in the Elsewhere series, target audience: middle school.  I've really enjoyed this series, and it keeps getting better with each installment.  The evil witch is still on the loose and working to release her father, or a version of him from one of the paintings in our main character's house.  There is a double cross that I thought was unexpected, hence the title, "The Second Spy."  I love the character development in this book, and also the deepening of the relationships.  Hopefully the author will continue on this trend for book four.