Wordless Wednesdays

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fab Five Friday Foto(s) zzzzz

I just finished a rousing game of Shark Attack, Bear Attack, Dinosaur Attack, Hippopotamus Attack, Snake Attack, Rhinoceros Attack, Tornado Attack, Splash Attack, and Great White Shark Attack with David and Daniel in our 3-ft wide kiddie pool. This was after pulling weeds for nearly an hour. Needless to say, that is why my title for the day contains some serious "zzzzzz"s. And so, because I can't find any toothpicks to prop my eyelids open, and my boys are waiting for me to snuggle up with them to watch Toy Story 2, here we go with this week's Fab Five.

And because it's almost August, and I am quite ready for summer in New England, today's theme shall be:

Snowmageddon 2011!!! Also known as The Snowpocalypse. And a few other names. Whatever you wish to call it, this was the worst snowstorm ever in the history of Kenosha. I think. So enjoy the craziness!

(Update: I apologize for the delayed post! My WiFi decided to get a little wacky and wild the past few days. Thank you for utmost patience. Phew!)

Our backyard, drowning in 5-ft. drifts.

Our front porch.

David, ready to brave the insanity.

Daniel, who actually got lost in a drift that day.

My hubby, Steve, shoveling out his car. Just for a fun point of reference, Steve is 6'6. That huge pile of snow is actually covering our fence. It was quite the spectacle.

Longing for winter yet? Didn't think so. Have a great week! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fab Five Friday Foto(s)

I couldn't think of a single creative thing for my title today. I suppose you could say I'm a little off today. Not on top of my game. A few sandwiches short of a picnic. The engine's running, but nobody's behind the wheel. Okay, I'll stop. Right now, all I know is this:

1) I just finished downing two cups of half-caff coffee. Because I am a passionate and consistent consumer of tea, it hurts admitting this: I LOVED IT. Now believe me, this is not my first time drinking the glorious beaned beverage. I have descended from a VERY long line of hard-core coffee drinkers. My momma worked at Starbucks. I worked at Starbucks. My sister Megan just got a job at Starbucks. It's in the blood, baby; it's in the blood. For many years, I didn't think I could drink coffee because it made my heart rate soar at a rather alarming rate. That didn't feel so hot. And then, I had an epiphany: When I would make coffee for myself, I would use the same amount of grounds that I would use for a huge group of friends. No wonder I was about to drive myself to the cardiologist every time I had a cup. I felt truly ridiculous once I realized it was my own foolishness, so I toned it down, and SUCCESS. YAY. ME.
2) After a week of 95+ degree weather, I practically wept tears of joy upon awaking to dark, gloomy, rainy skies. I danced around the house like a possessed court jester (kind of), and let the boys play in the rain. When we drove to David's gymnastics class today, I slowly sauntered into the gym, relishing every bit of the rain that poured upon us. It's enough to make me rethink this whole North Carolina obsession and consider the vast and glorious Pacific Northwest.

Now that we've got those two extremely important things out of the way, let's get to it, shall we? Warning: These might possibly be the most random set of Fab Five EVER. BE READY.

Asparagus, ready for the grill. I chop. I season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I drizzle with olive oil. I fold over the packet, crimping the sides. Steve grills for about 8 minutes. I love asparagus, and I don't care who knows it! And because I ALWAYS chop extra...

...I end up with this gorgeous lunch the next day. Don't you DARE say,"EWW, yucky." Have you tried it? Hmmm?? I will sing the praises of poached eggs over a noble vegetable or two until the day I die. It's probably one of the healthiest and most protein-packed lunches you could manage in 5 minutes. So. THERE. While we're on the topic of making the most of your leftovers...

I made chicken stock yesterday because I couldn't stand the fact that I had not made anything besides breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 4 whole days because of the heat, and I couldn't take it anymore. I just HAD to create something. So I grabbed a frozen chicken carcass from the freezer ( I love the word carcass, by the way. It has to do with a fond memory of my brother screaming,"CARCASS!!!" out the car window on one our many family road trips every time he saw a carcass on the side of the road. I loved him for that. My parents; not so much.), plop it into a dutch oven, throw in some assorted veggies (I used carrots, celery, fresh parsley, some onion, and half a shallot), and fill it quite full with water. I didn't measure a single thing. Such rebellion!

Oh, and a bay leaf. We cannot forget the precious bay leaf!!!

As you can see, none of the veggies are finely chopped. I rinsed them, and RIPPED them with all of the BRUTE FORCE my small hands could muster. This is not long on prep time, folks. I wouldn't make it if it was. I love the purple shallot floating in the corner. He's like,"Hey guys! Don't forget about me!!" Now for the hard part (ha ha): Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for as short as 15 minutes or as long as all afternoon. Because it was still uproariously hot yesterday, I only let it infuse for about 15 minutes. Hang infusing, I thought to myself as I began to sweat. After letting it cool, I pour the stock into various size containers. 1 cup, 2 cups, 4 cups, etc. Into the freezer it goes, and I am left with a fantastic feeling of accomplishment. The moral of this story: Save the CARCASS!!!!!!!

And last of all, here's a bonus picture for you:

I think that pretty much says it all. Have a wonderful weekend, folks!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fab Five Hath Returned!

It's just about 90 degrees out, and you will never hear me complain about 90 degrees in July. I will, however, complain if it's 90 degrees in September. As much as I love summer, fall is my hands-down, absolute favorite season, and once the lazy days of August are past us, I usually wake up with this little ditty running through my mind:

Me: "Yes! It's September! Jeans! Cute sweaters! Cute little brown clogs! Leaves! Cool nights! Air smelling like burnt leaves rather than dead fish! House not filled with sand, dead grass, and dirt! I'm cool! I'm comfortable! I'm..I'm..I'm awake." And then I realize that I still live in Wisconsin, not New England, and September is just an extension of August, and fall doesn't really get going around here until mid-October. I'm not complaining; I'm just stating a fact. So for now, it's lovely, and I am loving every minute of it. I will strive to maintain this attitude next week when the temperature is supposed to be in the mid-90's for the majority of the week. Steve came home and informed me that I am not allowed to bake for the next week. I guess it's good I got it all out of my system today! Seriously; what is going on with me?? I have never baked this much in the summer. Today it was banana bread, crisp chocolate toffee bars, and homemade pizza. Clearly, I'm losing my mind. So let's take a look at the chaos in the ol' kitchen today, shall we?

I call this..."Kitchen Chaos in Instagram."

I am truly floored by my creativity. *snort*

David took this picture. He is really developing an artistic side lately, I must say!

Prepping for crisp chocolate toffee bars...


Aaaand...Banana Bread.

Aaaaand...a huge mess.

But that's okay. The fruits of my labor are completely, totally, and utterly worth it. And now, if you would excuse me, my 4yo is hitting the patio door with a baseball bat, my 2yo is causing trouble in the bathroom, and my 1yo is gleefully throwing banana bread into the air and all over the floor. Have a great weekend! I will post recipes for the toffee bars and banana bread in the extraordinarily near future; I promise.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meandering Monday

As I sit here at my beloved secretary's desk (Craigslist!!), I can't help but be amused and somewhat disturbed by my current attire:

-Blue superman t-shirt.
-Red, green, and white plaid Winnie The Pooh boxer shorts that state,"Real Bears Don't Ask for Directions."
-Raspberry-red mary-jane crocs.

Oh, yeah. This girl is HAPPENING.

The best part of all is that I've been wearing the above articles of clothing since about 6:00 am this morning. Gross; right? You may ask,"What on earth could you have possibly done today that would not permit to dress yourself in a somewhat respectable manner??? For shame!!" Well, my friends; I'll tell you. I've been creating the most delightful chaos imaginable in my kitchen! Today, I have made:

-Chai latte concentrate.
-Iced Rooibos Tea.
-Blueberry Almond Granola.
-Homemade Italian Tomato Sauce.

Yep. I went a little crazy. There have been crazier cooking days in my household, but because it was about 90 degrees outside today, I completed all of the above recipes in about 1.5 hours. Baking and cooking at the speed of light!! It was most exhilarating. And that is why it's 8:57 pm, and I am still in my pajamas. I lost myself in the world of exotic spices, simmering garlic, fresh basil swirled into a most rich tomato sauce (Thanks, Jenelle!!), perfectly golden granola, and visions of Trader Joe's dried wild blueberries dancing through my head. Dear Lord, thank You for food. Amen, and Amen. I would like to add one thing:

I DID brush my teeth today. Right before breakfast, in fact. So I am not completely disgusting.

Here are the links to these wonderful recipes:

A brief note on the Chai: While technically NOT a concentrate, this tea keeps very well in a covered pitcher in the fridge for about a week. I just pour some tea in a mug, heat it up, then add some hot milk and sweeten it to my liking.

Brief Note: I did not use the fresh herbs. Sorry; boring and cheap. Also...please use fresh tea. Please? Mine was definitely a little on the...*gasp*...STALE side. Also...be generous when sweetening with honey. Trust me on this one.

Brief Note: This is my go-to recipe for homemade granola. My favorite. The bastion of hope. Or something like that. Since discovering this recipe nearly 2 years ago, I have not once bought granola from the grocery store. Serious!! It's ridiculously easy, and truly delicious.

Brief Note: I DID use fresh basil, and I DID use butter. If you're wondering why, ask yourself this: WHY NOT?? I have tried a few other homemade tomato sauces before, and this one definitely obliterates the competition.

So go a little crazy, and try something new this week!! You won't regret it. And now, if you would excuse me, it's time for me to go change into a clean pair of pajamas before I go to bed. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Completely Unintentional Falsehood

I confess; I hath unintentionally lied to thee. I was planning to resume Fab Five yadda yadda today as I promised, but alas; Blogger is having "issues" uploading my precious Fab Five Foto(s). I apologize for this accidental falsehood, but because I do not feel like wrestling with Blogger for 45 minutes only to find that once again, I have taken on a much more ferocious opponent than anticipated, and once again, I have been conquered by the internet in all of its voracious cruelty, I shall instead share two random things AND a recipe.

Oh yeah. I'm really getting wild here.

Two Random Things and A Recipe

By Mary Johnson, homeschooling mama and cooking/baking fanatic by day; music librarian and concert pianist by night.

HA! Not really...anyway.


Random Thing #1:
Do you remember our new little tree we had planted a couple of months ago? Yeah, neither do I. JUST KIDDING. Anyway, the moment that I remember the most from that fateful day was when I was talking with the Boss Man, and he proceeded to give me detailed instructions on how to care for our wee tree. "Water it twice a day, every other day," he instructed me. "And call me if it starts to lean a little funny. But you should be fine. Unless, of course, we have ourselves a crazy wind storm in the next week or so!" And he proceeded to roar with laughter for about 30 seconds straight, which, of course, made me roar with laughter as well. It's a rule: If someone roars with laughter for no real reason, it's inevitable that I will succumb to the roaring laughter as well. Now here's the best part: After the tree men left, we proceeded to experience THE MOST FEROCIOUS SPRING WEATHER I HAVE EVER KNOWN AS LONG I HAVE LIVED IN WISCONSIN. Wind storms! Tornadoes! Hail! Rain pounding with an absolute fury! Cloudbursts! Damage! Flying trees! Power lines down! Power outtages! Flying rhinoceros! PEOPLE SPILLING LATTES EVERYWHERE. Okay, maybe not flying rhinos or spilled lattes, but man, oh man, it was truly something else. Every time another storm would descend upon us, Steve and I would say to each other,"If this tree can make through this, then it can survive anything." Well, we've come to the conclusion that IT CAN SURVIVE ANYTHING. It stands in its self-assured glory. Gosh, do I like that tree. Thus ends Random Thing #1.

Random Thing #2:
Only 42 days until we shall be basking in the gorgeousness of the Green Mountain State. Yes; it's Vermont we're headed to for our Great Adventure this summer. I love New England. There is nothing quite like it. I have yet to experience to vastness of the wild west, but that will come soon enough. The farthest west I have ever been was Houston, Texas, and yes; I realize that's not the WEST, but geographically speaking, that's as far west as I have been. So you tell me:
What's your favorite vacation spot, EVER?? If you're having a tough time deciding, go ahead and pick your top two. I understand! I usually struggle picking between Maine and North Carolina. Go figure. Thus ends Random Thing #2.

And now...a recipe.

This is the promised recipe from my last post. Get ready...here we go...it's..*gasp*...it's...

Chicken Breast Piccata Florentine

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.


1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, for dredging

2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese (Romano is lovely, too!)
2 c. fresh chopped spinach leaves, washed, or 1 c. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tsp. dried Italian herbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. salt (scant)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tblsp. olive oil
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded lightly, or 4 (3 oz.) boneless turkey breast medallions, pounded lightly

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the flour in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken breasts in.
Combine the eggs, Parmesan cheese, spinach, Italian herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, blending well. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter.
Place the olive oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Dredge the chicken breasts first in the flour, dusting off any excess, and then in the batter, and carefully place in the hot oil. Saute, turning once, until just golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
Place the breasts on a baking dish, and transfer to the oven to finish cooking, for 10-15 minutes.



Note: I have found I need to bake the chicken a little longer than 10-15 minutes once its in the oven. I usually bake them for about 20-25 minutes, but it all depends on the thickness of the chicken. Remember: NO PINK MEAT. eww. eww. eww. I love to serve this with brown rice, and either broccoli, peas, or asparagus, but you can go nuts and serve whatever you desire for a side. Have fun!

So there you have it, my friends. I have turned lemons into lemonade, and hopefully nobody will die of undercooked chicken poisoning this weekend. Have a great weekend (I love a good dose of morbidity every now and then- sorry)!!