Dec 30, 2012

All Good Things Must End

I would say we have the post-holiday blues.  We left our friends and family back in CT and headed back to NJ this weekend.  We both had a blast catching up with everyone and would have liked to make the trip longer, but the wedding of our friends Ian and Michele on Saturday night sure brightened our spirits after saying goodbye to everyone up north (details on the holiday and wedding to come, but frankly I am quite exhausted after all the shenanigans and do not have the energy right now)!
I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday, and is enjoying the snow.  Us poor folks in South Jersey are snowless.  Not even one flake.  Not one.

Just wanted to pop in and share a quick recipe, which I made tonight with my brand new digital, programmable crockpot (Christmas present from BearFace which I am in love with after only one use)!  After all the holiday feasting, a bit of drinking, and lot of dessert-eating this week, I am definitely looking forward to returning to a normal diet!


I'm in love.


White Bean, Sausage and Kale Soup

I adapted this recipe to work for the crockpot, and also added some sausage for extra protein.

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 15 oz. can cannellini beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3-6 cups kale, chopped or ripped
Black pepper
Salt
  1. Saute onions, sausage, bay leaf and garlic over medium heat about 5 minutes until onions are translucent and sausage is just browned.  Meat will finish cooking in the crockpot.
  2. Add chicken broth, undrained beans, and sausage mixture to crockpot and turn on High for 1 hour.
  3. Turn heat to Low for an additional 3 hours.  
  4. Add kale and cook for another 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I served with toasted ciabatta rolls for dipping.  Warm, healthy, and satisfying!  



In with the good, out with the bad!

Dec 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays

The Christmas countdown is ticking by fast!  Only one more half day of work tomorrow, our work Secret Santa lunch/party, and then a 4 1/2 hour drive home for the holidays.  BearFace, Murphy and I will be making the trek back to our home state once more....for me it will be the first time since the beginning of October, so I am SUPER excited to see family, friends, AND my eyebrow maintain-er (I only trust one person on Earth with my eyebrows!)  

It will certainly be a busy week, since I only have a few days to pack everyone on my list into the schedule.  Here's what it looks like so far:

  • Monday night: Annual Italian Christmas Eve at Aunt Mollie's, complete with Christmas Jager Bombs and the Annual BeerPong Championship (in which I have yet to make it past the first round...)
  • Tuesday: Christmas with Drew's family (finally get to see his nieces after about 6 months!), then Christmas round two with my family.  Hopefully topping off the night at the movies to see the new Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained.  Unbelievably excited about this movie!  
  • Wednesday: meet up with MagSauce for a bit of catch-up, then rendezvous with Jenny at UConn, our old stomping grounds.  On the docket for the day?  UConn dairy bar, Wings Over Storrs, visiting long-lost pony friends, and maybe Margarita's for an early dinner.  
  • Thursday: Riding with Sarah, a few appointments, and then heading to West Hartford for happy hour with some of my favorite girls.
  • Friday: Reserving this day for family time and Murphy's annual vet visit.  
  • Saturday: heading back early morning for Ian and Michele's wedding in PA.
A whirlwind week, but I know I will love every minute of it!

BearFace and I already started warming up for the festivities this weekend.  My dear BeenBag came home for the holidays on Saturday.  Since her parents only live about an hour away from us in Alloway, we were able to visit her (of course she HAD to move to Wisconsin only a few months before I moved to NJ!  Wisconsin, really?!).  She took us to Atlantic City for our first taste of the casinos.  We ate at The Continental at Caesar's Palace.  This being the first restaurant we've eaten at in Atlantic City, I'm really not an expert.  But you should eat there.  Just do it (Three words: buffalo chicken meatballs).    
After dinner, we sent BearFace home and spent the night snuggling and movie-watching, which basically sums up the two years that we lived together in college.  


The best ex-wifey I could ask for!  


And this guy....

I spent Sunday doing laundry, packing, and baking for our Christmas party at work. 


1 box vanilla cake mix
1 container vanilla frosting
Sugar sprinkles
Mini chocolate chips
Peanut butter chips
  1. Bake cake according to directions.  Cool cupcakes, then frost.
  2. Coat with sugar sprinkles, then add chips to make eyes and nose.

So cheerful, I almost don't want to eat them.  HAH that's a lie.

Peppermint Cake Balls

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 container chocolate frosting
6 candy canes, crushed
Peppermint extract
2 bags Wilton candy melts (I get these at Michael's)
  1. Bake cake according to package directions.  While still warm, remove cake from pan and crumble into bowl.
  2. Add entire container of frosting to warm cake and mix until combined.  Mix in about 1 tsp peppermint extract.  
  3. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then roll mixture into 1 inch balls.  Place on cookie sheet on wax paper.
  4. Melt candy melts according to package directions.
  5. Using 2 spoons, roll cake balls in melted candy until coated, then place on wax paper.  
  6. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top (This must be done immediately, before candy coating hardens or it won't stick)



I actually paid Santa's elves to make these.

In conclusion, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, and gets to spend some quality time with their loved ones!

Dec 20, 2012

The End of the World?

So.  What's everyone doing tonight?  Something special, I hope.  Something end-of-the-world worthy.  Because as everyone knows, tomorrow is the last day on the Mayan calendar.  Which obviously means that the world is going to end.  Right?  Wrong (At least that's my bet).  I have lived through quite a few "doomsday" predictions in my lifetime, and I'm only 24! (Y2K was definitely my favorite.  Such a catchy name).  Either way, I'm spending this Thursday night with my favorite people (BearFace and Murphleson), just in case this time it's true.

I'm still nursing a nasty cold and a bit of the black lung, so no riding again today (sad news, I miss my friend Chubbles!).  The evening will be spent relaxing on the couch, snuggling with Murph the Surf, and whipping up a homemade meal for the first time in over a week.  Between being sick and our busy schedule last week, I've been lacking some kitchen time.

Speaking of Murphy, the little guy has been quite busy with a ridiculous new obsession.  What could be more ridiculous than his shadow-chasing obsession?  Well, he recently discovered that Drew and I have something in our mouths that moves.  It is called a tongue.  He also has one of these, but it is not nearly as fascinating as the ones that reside behind our teeth.  While cuddling on the bed, I happened to stick my tongue out at him, at which point he went certifiably insane.  He spent the next hour with his face glued to mine, eyes locked on my lips, frozen as a statue, while I did my utmost to stop myself from crying tears of laughter.


I know it's in there.  I saw it with my own eyes, 
and I have nothing better to do but sit here and
stare at you.  All day.  


SHOW YOURSELF, mystery worm!

As entertaining as this obsession is, there have been a few close calls, most of which resulted in a wet Murphy face smush.  Not really sure what his intentions are should he get one of our tongues, but I definitely don't want to find out!  We had to take a little break from this game on Tuesday after he decided to eat a poop stick.  What is a poop stick, you might ask?  Well, a poop stick is exactly what it sounds like.  A stick.  Covered in poop.  It went something like this:
  • Murphy:  Hmm this smells SUUUPPERRRR yummy!  Smells like poop.  And it's on a stick. Aaaand I'm kind of hungry.  Mom shorted me a few kibbles this morning.  I bet this poop stick will make a nutritionally balanced snack.  Om nom nom.  
  • Michelle: Murphy, what are you doing?  Are you eating something?  Come here!  
  • Murphy:  Crap.  She hates it when I eat stuff.  Especially poopy stuff.  I better pretend I didn't hear her and run the other way.
  • Michelle: MURPHY get your butt over here!  Right now! 
  • Murphy:  She's not buying it.  I better go over there.
  • Michelle: What are you eating?! Oh it's just a stick.  Let me have th....AUGH IT'S COVERED IN POOP!  WHY WOULD YOU EAT A STICK COVERED IN POOP, YOU FOUL BEAST!!  
  • Murphy: COULDN'T HELP IT.  SO, SO HUNGRY.  
Thursday Night End-of-the-World dinner:

Indian Chicken Stew (I photocopied this recipe from a magazine a couple years ago, but can't remember which magazine it was.  I think Better Homes and Gardens...)

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper and/or cayenne pepper
2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp lime juice
9 oz fresh spinach
  1. Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with oil or cooking spray.  Add chicken, onion, and garlic to the slow cooker.
  2. Add curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat.
  3. Stir in drained beans, undrained tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf.
  4. Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-10 hours. 
  5. Stir lime juice into cooked stew.  Stir spinach leaves into stew, and let stand 2-3 minutes until wilted.  
I usually serve this with brown rice and Na'an for dipping.  You can also whip this up in about an hour on the stove if you don't have time for the crockpot.  Just saute the onions and garlic, then add all ingredients and simmer for about 45-60 minutes.  I have tried making this dish with chicken breasts but they tend to dry out, so I recommend sticking with the chicken thighs.   


May have forgotten to add the spinach...still good though!
  

Dec 18, 2012

A Few Words

I woke up this morning thinking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook and the families who were robbed of their loved ones only days before Christmas, and wanted to share some of my thoughts.

Having recently graduated from college (ok, maybe 2 1/2 years isn't that recent!), I have many friends who are now teachers.  In addition to friends, Drew and I both have a number of family members in the teaching profession.  After hearing about the deaths of the young teachers at Sandy Hook, as well as the principal and a number of other adults, my first thoughts were those of my friends and family.  This could just as easily have happened at their schools.  And I can tell you, without even a second thought, that every single one of them would have done the same thing as those brave teachers who lost their lives protecting their students.  This makes me both proud, and afraid for them.  I pray that they never have to face an event as horrific as this one, and that their commitment to educating the young minds of our country will never put them in the line of fire.  That being said, I also pray for the families of those teachers who were lost, and I hope they know how thankful we all are for the sacrifice that their loved ones made.

I pray for the families who lost children in this tragedy.  I cannot imagine sending your child to school and not being able to pick them up at the end of the day.  For the families who were able to pick their children up that day, I hope that this traumatic event does not scar their young minds for the rest of their lives, and that they grow up still able to see the good in the world.

Of course after something like this happens, there are always questions.  Questions of blame, and questions of motive.  Do we blame the guns that the shooter used?  Did he play too many violent video games as a child?  Did his family see this coming and fail to stop it?  In my opinion, the only one to really blame is the shooter himself.  Sure, if guns did not exist he would not have been able to use them in the shooting.  Maybe if he played less violent games as a kid, he would not have had such violent tendencies.  But if someone is sick enough to consciously make a decision to walk into a school with malicious intentions, I think he would have found some other way to do it.  As for motive, what does it matter?  No "reason" on Earth can justify what was done, and no "reason" can bring back those who were lost.  There is no "reason" that could make sense of this senseless crime.

In conclusion, my heart goes out to every family in Newtown and Sandy Hook.  I am so sorry that this happened to you.  I thank all of the teachers at the school for counting the lives of their children more important than their own.  And I pray that one day, you are all able to heal.

If you would like to donate to the families of the victims, check out this fundraiser:

Newtown Strong. Newtown Proud. 

Proceeds go to funeral expenses of the families, a town memorial fund, and a town scholarship fund.      

Dec 16, 2012

There IS a Santa Claus!!

It's been a busy week here in Alloway...Drew has officially graduated from the police academy as of Wednesday December 12th, and is a real, live New Jersey game warden.  I am extremely proud of the commitment he made, and the effort he put in the last 5 months.  I certainly would not have been able to do what he did...I would have run for the door after the first push-up!  He has a nice, long vacation (off until January 7th) as a reward for all of his hard work.  I'm sure I will be leaving him some to-do lists and ideas for Murphy adventures, muahahaha!

Drew's family was nice enough to drive the 4 hours down here to attend the graduation, and we  were all able to squeeze in lunch at Bull on the 19th over at the golf course in Woodstown before the ceremony.  Once again, I was not impressed with the waitstaff (never got the appetizers we ordered), but my pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich was cheesy and delicious. It was great to spend time with his family, whom I have not seen since we moved.  His boss Ian and fiancee Michele met us at the ceremony as well, and BearFace and I went out to dinner at Terra Nova in Sewell with them afterwards.  Again, it was great to spend time with some Connecticutians!  It was a late night for us old folks (went to bed at nearly MIDNIGHT!), but we had a lot of fun, and I know Drew was glad to celebrate his achievement.

Thursday was another late night for us...after a long day of work (for me), we headed to the Phily Diner in Runnemede for an open bar/graduation party with the rest of his class.  It was good to finally meet his classmates and put faces to the names I have been hearing about.  The Phily Diner was pretty neat too... it's a huge 50's themed diner/bar with multiple bar and eating areas.  Although I did have hypothermia by the time we left...I guess they put space heaters in there for a reason!

So, two nights out in a row?  Crazy, right?  At least for us...but this time, it wasn't enough!  Out again on Friday for my work Christmas dinner at Filomena Lakeview in Deptford.  Can't say I saw the lake, but the food was excellent, the restaurant was beautiful, and the waiters remembered our appetizers (I must say, I was rather concerned that our waiter was about to pass out or vomit from the looks of his ghastly pale face and the fact that he was sweating bullets.  Either that or he just snorted some cocaine.  I'm not really sure).  I ordered the Almond Crusted Tiramisu for dessert...doesn't really compare to classic tiramisu, but I absolutely love almond flavoring, so it was a real winner (I've been known to get high off almond extract.  Just kidding.  But seriously, it smells sooooo good!).

BUT that's not all (I saved the best news for last)!  ROOMDOG MOVED OUT.  That's right; as of Friday at noon, we no longer have a parasite residing in our second bedroom.  How do we feel about this?  ECSTATIC, ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC.  I was at work when he left, and coming home to a quiet house was so wonderful.  It's amazing how much tension his presence caused, and now that it is gone, our little house feels quite homey!

And finally Saturday...we crashed!  Three late nights took their toll and we are both exhausted and sick (something of the sinus pressure/chest congestion variety).  Of course, we still had to celebrate RD's absence, so what did I do to celebrate his departure?  Cleaned.  Obviously (Don't you know me by now??).  We managed to summon up enough energy to move some of the things in our bedroom into the now empty bedroom and closet, including Murphy's crate (He's all grown up now...time for his own room).  It will probably take a few days to get the stink out of there (Smells like an old man.  Maybe because he didn't shower daily...), but that's what we have candles for!  I also disinfected the shower, which is finally completely free of oatmeal, boogers, and toenails.  Yup, I found a toenail graveyard on the top ledge of the shower.

Murphy was feeling pretty spiteful after being left home alone for three nights in a row, so BearFace and I were nice enough to take him for a short walk at the golf course near our house.  He got out all his crazies, and we took in some of the warm winter air (another 50 degree day).          

                                      

  
BearFace really enjoys it when I interrupt our walks for 
the sake of photography.

Today is a day dedicated to relaxation, movie watching, and getting better!  We rented Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Drew loves Abe.  What can I say)  and Moonrise Kingdom from Redbox, got a couple cans of soup and some break and bake cookies, and will be planting ourselves (yes, all 3 of us), on the couch for the rest of the day.  Cooking didn't really happen this week, but I'll be back in the swing of things next week!

One final picture to leave you with:

Proof.  BearFace actually DOES love Murphy.

P.S. I finally figured out how to allow comments from all readers, without having to create an account.  I know, I'm a little slow. But comment away!  Please.  Pretty please.  

Dec 4, 2012

Numbers

Before I get to my adventures from today, a bit of recipe catch-up from last week.  My delicious chicken and black bean soup made enough for us each to eat two bowls that night, lunch for me the next day, and dinner for Drew the next night.  Plus I had about half of my whole chicken and 6 cups of chicken stock left for further cooking.  So, what to do with all these leftovers?  Use them to make more mouth-watering dishes, of course!

Leftover Night #1:

Michelle's Semi-Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 refrigerated pie crusts (I do not find making my own pie crust worth the time and effort that goes into 
        it, but if you disagree, be my guest!)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 cup frozen broccoli
2 cans Campbell's cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Saute onions, carrots, celery, and broccoli until slightly softened, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Mix vegetables, cooked chicken, and 1 1/2 cans cream of chicken soup in a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix in 1/2 cup flour.  Mixture should be only slightly loose. You may need to add more flour. 
  5. Line bottom of pie plate with 1st pie crust.  Add mixture to pie plate, then top with 2nd pie crust.
  6. Cut holes in center of top crust to allow pie to vent.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.  

Not too bad for Semi-Homemade.


Leftover Night #2:

Michelle's Homemade Chicken Soup

1-2 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cups homemade chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
Salt and pepper
1 cup pearled barley
  1. Bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, and barley to stock.  Turn down heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and barley is cooked through.
  3. Add cooked chicken, and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer another 5 minutes. 
Considering the fact that I only spent about $35 on all of the ingredients for my soup, I'd say getting 3 meals out if it was a bargain!

Moving on to Tuesday: Today was a day of numbers.

  • Number of gunshots I heard in the woods while trail riding today: 4
  • Number of times Chubbles bucked while trail riding: 3
  • Number of miles Chubbles wanted to walk, trot, or do anything besides gallop (He apparently did not appreciate having 2 weeks off from his bi-weekly trail gallop): 0  
  • Number of hours spent Christmas shopping today (...with poor Murphy in tow.  At least he got to accompany me into PetSmart!): 2 1/2 
  • Number of times Murphy tried to eat trash in my car while I was in a store: ~ 5
  • Number of empty Wawa quesadilla containers that were slipped through my cracked car window by a random asshole while I was shopping (No joke, this really happened): 1 
  • Number of times Murphy protected the car from random assholes: 0
Seriously though, who does that?!  If I hadn't known for a fact that RD was in Gloucester County at the time, and nowhere near my car, I would have bet a million dollars that it was him.  On the plus side, I had an awesome trail ride this morning (minus almost being shot by deer hunters and thrown off by my energetic horse), and only have one more Christmas present left to get! 


What I imagine Murphy to be thinking: How many times do I have to
 tell her, I am a DOG, not a darn HORSE.  She better not put this picture 
on her stupid blog.  This is humiliating, just humiliating.
What Murphy is really thinking: Squirrel?!?!? Shadow?!?! 
SQUIRREL SHADOW?!?!


Chubbles: Hey.  I see that carrot in your bag.  Yeah, that big one 
right on top.  I definitely deserve it after carrying you around
 for an hour.  Come on, just give it to me...you know you want to.

I made it home around 4:30 after a thoroughly exhausting day of riding and errands, and settled in to whip up this quick and yummy dinner:

Shrimp Fried Rice

~20 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (if using frozen shrimp, defrost first)
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen broccoli
Red pepper flakes
Garlic salt
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Heat about 1 tbsp sesame oil in pan over medium heat.  Saute shrimp until pink, about 5 minutes.  Season with red pepper and garlic salt and remove from pan.
  3. Heat another 1 tbsp sesame oil in same pan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes.
  4. Add cooked rice and toss with onions and garlic.
  5. Spread rice to edges of pan so there is an opening in the center of the pan.  Add eggs to opening and cook, mixing with rice. 
  6. Add broccoli and cook about 5 minutes until defrosted.  Season rice with more red pepper.  
  7. Return shrimp to pan and add soy sauce to taste. 

Easy peasy weeknight meal!

And now off to do some reading and relax a bit.  I am currently reading Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, by Joshua Foer.  It is a non-fiction book written by a journalist who set out to compete in the American Memory Championships after reporting on the event.  I am not usually one to read non-fiction, but this book is fascinating.  The author writes about how the memory works by detailing many studies done by psychologists, most of which revolve around people with abnormal memories.   He also explains the process by which he learned to "remember everything".  The most fascinating part is that he and everyone else who competes in the championships claim to have just an average memory.  They only had to teach themselves to use it properly.  For someone who used to have an amazing memory (I don't think I ever studied more than a night in advance for any test in high school or college), and now can hardly remember what I did last weekend, I was quickly drawn in.  I will let you know if I uncover any Earth-shattering secrets as to the human mind!   

Nov 27, 2012

Rainy Day Cooking

Today I was presented with an unusual problem.  Since today was my day off, and it was raining, and I had cleaned the house before leaving for Atlanta, I really didn't have much to do.  So, instead of sitting around relaxing all day (which, in hindsight, I probably would have enjoyed), I decided to spend the entire day cooking.  The whole. darn. day.

I decided to make this soup that my Aunt Jacki made with her leftover Thanksgiving turkey:

Leftover Turkey and Sweet Potato Soup with Black Beans and Lime

Problem: Your leftover turkey is in Atlanta.
Solution: Use a rotisserie chicken.

Problem: Your local grocery store's rotisserie chicken looks like a shriveled carcass.
Solution: Purchase a raw whole chicken and make your own chicken/chicken stock.

Problem: You purchase ingredients to make several other dishes with the leftover chicken, and then the
               cashier forgets to give you one of your bags.
Solution: NONE.  FAIL.

Luckily, I made it home with all the ingredients necessary for the soup tonight, minus the chilies.  Here is what I did for the chicken stock:

Michelle's Homemade Chicken Stock

1 5 lb. whole chicken
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 onion
Fresh oregano
Fresh thyme
Dried parsley

  1. Place chicken in a large pot, and fill with water until just covering chicken.
  2. Cut ends off carrots and celery and add to pot.  Peel onion and add to pot.
  3. Add several sprigs fresh oregano, thyme, and about 1 tbsp. parsley to pot.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil.  When boiling, turn down heat and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove chicken and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove meat from bone.
  6. Pour broth through a strainer, and discard vegetables and spices.
  7. Stock can be frozen or refrigerated and used for soups or other recipes!
Of course you can use canned chicken stock and leftover turkey or a rotisserie chicken (if you can find one that looks tasty) and eliminate about 3 hours of work for yourself, and it will be just as delicious.  Let me tell you, this soup was mighty delicious.  Hearty, thick, and creamy from the beans (and healthy), Drew and I both helped ourselves to 2 filling bowls.  Good find, Aunt Jacki!  


For you cilantrophiles out there, add a heaping helping of cilantro on top!

Stay tuned for more leftover chicken and chicken stock recipes!  I sure have a lot to use up...

Cast Iron Skillets and Blueberry Muffin Shots

Boy, oh boy, do I have a lot to say today!  And finally, something to talk about other than cleaning, grocery shopping, and riding.

Let me start off by saying that I hope everyone had a great holiday!  I hope it was filled with friends, family, and feasting.  Mine sure was!  After working a half day on Wednesday, I drove to the Philadelphia Airport and hopped on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia to see my Aunt Christine, Uncle Steve, and cousins Maddie and Jon.  My parents and brother had flown down earlier in the morning.  Being the night before Thanksgiving, the plane with packed with people (and a baby named Malcolm who sat directly behind me and alternately ate pasta and screamed just for the sake of screaming through the whole flight).   I landed around 8:30 pm and my dad and Aunt Christine picked me up.  I haven't seen this part of my mom's family in about 4 years, so it was really awesome to get to spend a few days with them!

Wednesday Night Dinner:

We arrived at their house around 9:30, and a delicious dinner of homemade Chicken and Oyster Gumbo was awaiting my empty stomach.  This was the first time I have ever had gumbo, and it was a hit.  I will be getting this recipe and making it myself for sure!  Served over fluffy white rice with Sister Shubert rolls for dipping (seriously, the best rolls I've ever had!), it couldn't have been better.

 Other highlights of this dinner: Got to see my parents and brother for the first time in almost 2 months!

Thursday:

TURKEY DAY!  My mom, Christine, Maddie and I went out for a brisk Thanksgiving Day walk (a tradition in their family).  We brought their dog Sandy along, and I had a lot of fun chatting with Maddie while we tried to keep up with our intensely-power-walking moms.


Next up, a "grazing" lunch of spiral ham sandwiches, and shrimp cocktail while Uncle Steve cooked the turkey on the Big Green Egg!  And the rest of us decorated and helped cook the sides (I can't take any credit on the cooking, but I did assist with the decorating).  Later on, my cousin Lynn and her partner Tracy joined us for dinner, and brought some super tasty Lemon Artichoke dip.  

Highlights of Turkey Day Feasting:
  •  My brother's witty humor.  While discussing the "presidential ruler" my dad bought on our Washington, D.C. trip years ago:
    • Dad: What year was John Adams president?  If only we had the presidential ruler!
    • Joe: Well I can't tell you what year he was president, but I can tell you he was 4 inches.
  • My appetizer-table centerpieces going up in flames when the candle burned down to the decorative raffi tie, whilst I was standing directly in front of them texting away, completely unaware.  
  • Hanging out in the kitchen with all the ladies after dinner, helping clean things up.  Mom washing dishes, turns on garbage disposal:
    • Christine: OH MY GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOINGG!!!!
    • Michelle, Lynn, Mom, and Tracy (thinking to ourselves): HOLY CRAP something is going to explode out of the garbage disposal and kill us all!
    • Christine: DON'T YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CAST IRON SKILLETS?!?!?  YOU CAN'T USE SOAP!!!!!  I've been seasoning that thing for 7 years!!!!!!!
    • Mom (probably almost in tears): Um, oh, ok...I'm sorry!  
    • Lynn, Michelle, and Tracy (in tears of laughter): Bahahahahahaha 
  • Dessert.  Enough said.  I actually had to have a dessert intervention with Christine when there was still no dessert in my belly at 10 pm.  I couldn't wait any longer!
  • A visit from some more of my mom's family (Sarah, Jeff, Jimmy and Sue).  

Cousins Jon and Maddie, and brother Joe


Friday:

We started out working off our Thanksgiving Feast with a hike up nearby Kennesaw Mountain.  It was rather refreshing for me to see an actual mountain after 2 months in the land of no hills.  If only Murphy had been there to enjoy the day with us!


A hill.

Next up: a reunion with my bestest buddy, Jenny!  She was staying with her sister for the holiday in Sandy Springs, and of course we planned an epic reunion.  After pampering ourselves with a manicure with Christine, Maddie, and my mom, we headed over to her sister Natalie's house to catch up and hang out with Natalie and her little munchkin, Ella!  Nothing has changed in past year since Jenny and I have seen each other!   Later on, we picked up Joe and the 4 of us went to check out Fado, an Irish pub in Buckhead for dinner and drinks.  And it was epic!

Highlights of the night:
  • Blue Cheese lamb sliders.  Yum!
  • Blueberry muffin shots (Actually not that great.  Tasted like licking the floor of a bakery.  With vomit on it).  
  • Laughing so much my abs (or lack thereof) hurt!  Jenny tells a story about one of our animal science classes in college:
    • Natalie: Did you say horse semen?  HAHAHA
    • Michelle: There is no situation in which horse semen is not humorous.
  • Joe, who had previously ignored our pleas to come dance with us, suddenly breaks out his dance moves to Gangnam Style.  In a peacoat. 
  • Jenny rolls down a hill in the parking lot in slow motion while the rest of us watch and laugh hysterically.


An awesome night out with some awesome people!

Saturday:

What is the best thing to do after a night of drinking (especially for someone like me who rarely drinks?)  A brewery tour, of course!  I normally love touring breweries, but my stomach was feeling a bit testy after having a few drinks the night before, so alas, I was not able to enjoy Sweetwater Brewing Company as much as I had hoped!  It was still a fun experience, and I got a sweet beer glass to take home.  For $10, they give you the glass, a tour, and 6 tickets to sample any of the beer that they have on tap that day.  A whole glassful!  Most other tours I have been on only give you a small cup with which to sample.  Not Sweetwater...They fill it right up to the tippy-top!  

Highlights of the tour:
  • Tour Guide: Who is drinking the Sweetwater Blue right now?
    • Dad, Joe, and about 50% of the tour group: Woohooo!!
    • Tour Guide: Congratulations, you are drinking the wussiest beer we make!
  • Tour Guide: If you drank 1 gallon of beer from this tank every day, it would take you about 80 years to finish the tank.
    • Joe: Challenge accepted.

Sweet sign.

After a short siesta, my mom, Maddie, Christine and I headed out again to see Maddie's friend perform in The Nutcracker with her dance company.  I have never been to a ballet before, and it was quite magical!  I was seriously impressed with Maddie's 14 year-old friend, who is incredibly talented and had a major part in the ballet.

I definitely was not ready for this trip to end by Sunday morning when I had to head to the airport.  It was wonderful to spend time with my family, and see my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  Hopefully it won't be too long until we see them again!  And of course it was wonderful to see my buddy Jenny and reminisce about our crazy college days.  However, I did miss BearFace and Murphles, so it was a bittersweet homecoming!      

Nov 18, 2012

Don't Step on the Star!

Mission GET OUT OF SALEM COUNTY was a major failure this weekend.  At this point, Drew and I are both getting South Jersey cabin fever.  We skipped our monthly trip to Connecticut since we would be seeing family a few weeks later at Thanksgiving, and 7 straight weeks down here has just been too much.  We both miss our friends and family, and desperately need a break from the parasite that resides in our home (AKA, Room Dog). Yes, RoomDog, who is currently parked on his desk chair in the middle of the living room, watching football at top volume and using his cooler-on-wheels as a computer table.  Not to mention the stench of his Tostito's cheese dip that has saturated the air.  PLEASE HELP US.  Luckily I have something amazing in the oven for dinner that is covering his stink!

Anyway, we planned on going to Philadelphia on Saturday for a change of scenery.  We thought we might check out some free museums (always looking for a deal, I am!), and then stick around for dinner at one of the many, many amazing restaurants in the city.  This plan did not happen for two reasons:
  1. My troublesome little dog just started taking medication for his itchy allergy skin flare-up, which contains a low dose of a steroid.  Steroids make dogs pee.  My dog already pees a lot.  Therefore, my dog on steroids pees even more.  Like, can't hold it all night.  There's nothing like the sound of a pee stream to wake you up at 5 am on a Saturday morning!  Soooo we were concerned that if we left him home alone all afternoon, we would come home to a guilty dog and a urine-filled house.  No fun for anyone involved.
  2. We made online dinner reservations at a sushi restaurant in the city called Fat Salmon.  The menu looked amazing, and BearFace wanted some sushi but unfortunately the restaurant later called to tell us that they were full until 9:00 that night, so our reservation was a failure.  Bearface cannot make it past 7:00 without eating, and everyone knows 9 pm is WAY past our bedtime!  
This reminded me of a story that one of the girls at work told me...apparently there is a star on one of the sidewalk blocks somewhere in Salem.  If you step on this star, you will NEVER leave Salem County.  I must have inadvertently stepped on this star, because I sure as hell feel stuck here!

Our Philadelphia trip cancelled, we decided to head over to Fort Mott State Park with Murphy for a walk.  The park is right on the Delaware Bay, and the beach had some rather impressive damage to it from Hurricane Sandy.  Nothing like Atlantic City, of course, but there were some rather larger trees that washed ashore!


My dog likes to climb stuff...


We did eventually manage to make it out of Salem County and over to Gloucester County Saturday night.  After some general confusion as to the whereabouts of the restaurant, we had a nice dinner date at Samurai Sushi in Glassboro.  Or I should say I had a nice sushi dinner.  BearFace refuses to eat raw fish, and instead orders things such as sweet potato rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, and a even chicken tempura roll! BLASPHEMY!  (I was actually slightly embarrassed to be seen in a sushi restaurant with him and his chicken).


If you think I didn't eat all of this sushi, 
you clearly don't know me very well.

We didn't even attempt to escape Salem County on Sunday, and instead resorted to our usual routine of riding, grocery shopping, and a home-cooked dinner!  As a side note, DON'T GO GROCERY SHOPPING THE SUNDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING.  Just don't do it.  Not worth it.  As a rule, I try to avoid shopping on the weekends altogether.  Unfortunately Drew likes to go with me, otherwise I would only shop on Tuesdays!  But seriously, the weekend before a holiday = absolute madness.  I thought I was going to have to take someone out to get to the cheese (and no one gets between me and my cheese).

Shopping done, we headed home to whip up a delicious dinner and tasty dessert.  I was looking forward to a relaxing evening of cooking, which was quickly ruined by RoomDog and his cheese dip.  But the wonderful aromas of this dish (which I absolutely did not share with him) covered up his stink quite well:

Kayla's Turkey Lasagna (My friend Kayla made Drew and I this dish at her house one night, and it is definitely the best lasagna I've had!)

1 pound ground turkey meat
1 box No Boil lasagna sheets
15 oz ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cups shredded Italian-blend cheeses
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 jars marinara sauce
Italian seasoning
Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown turkey meat in olive oil.  Add about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic. 
  3. Add 1 1/2 jars sauce to pan and cover, then simmer for 15-20 minutes.  
  4. Mix egg, ricotta, and some Italian seasoning in a bowl.  
  5. Add a thin, even layer of marinara sauce to bottom of a 13x9 glass baking pan.  
  6. Place 3 sheets of pasta on top of sauce.  Sheets should not be touching each other.
  7. Spread ricotta/egg mixture on top of sheets of pasta.
  8. Add a layer of turkey and sauce on top of ricotta.
  9. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella or Italian cheeses on top of meat sauce.
  10. Repeat 2 more times, alternating mozzarella and Italian cheese.  
  11. For top layer, make a thick layer of mozzarella, Italian cheese, and grated Parmesan.
  12. Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Let stand to cool for 15-20 minutes after baking.  

Home-made lasagna goodness

I served this with a crusty loaf of bread for sopping up extra sauce!  But that's not all...for dessert I treated our bellies with:


I have been wanting to make this for a while, and it did not disappoint.  The texture was a bit unexpected...very moist, dense, and kind of doughy.  But the glaze had amazing flavor, and I am always in favor of moist, dense desserts!  

I am going to have to lock up our dessert somewhere RoomDog cannot get to it...in the last 4 days, he has consumed an entire half gallon of Breyer's ice cream, a pint of Ben and Jerry's, and a HUGE bag of Reese's peanut butter cups.  The only explanation for this recent over-consumption of sweets that I can come up with is that he is having his period.  Pumpkin cake, beware!

Lots of chores and errands to do tomorrow...I'm heading to Atlanta with the family on Wednesday to visit my long-lost aunt, uncle, and cousins for Thanksgiving.  I will also be seeing the lovely Jenny McCoy, who will also be in Atlanta visiting her sister.  I haven't seen her since I went to Kentucky last year, so we are both SUPER EXCITED FOR A REUNION!!  Murphy and BearFace will be going back to CT for the holidays...wonder if they'll miss me!   

Nov 13, 2012

The Most Magical Day

I have solved the problem of the water-stained shower.  It has been my only goal for about 2 weeks now, and I finally did it.  In retrospect, I probably should have been able to figure it out much sooner, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, as they say.

BearFace spoke to our landlord this weekend to see if perhaps our well needed to be conditioned.  Tracy said it was probably just because the shower is being used more frequently than when he lived there alone, and gave us some special cleaner to use that he said should do the job.  I was unreasonably excited at this, and determined that I would not rest today until the shower was clean.

Now, for someone who HATES cleaning showers, that was not a particularly pleasant goal to wake up to on this rainy day off.  But I tackled the bathroom with vigor early this morning.  And failed miserably, once again.  My hopes were raised when the cleaner, Spray Nine, got most (but not all) of the rust stains off the sink, but after a literal hour of scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing the tub, I was getting nowhere (except high off the fumes).  So I decided a trip to Walmart was in order, where I spent a good 10 minutes in the All-Purpose Cleaners aisle reading the back of every cleaning product on the market.  I settled on Soft Scrub, a pair of rubber gloves, and some Daily Shower spray.

And then...it happened!  I fell in love (with Soft Scrub).  It is, without a doubt, the most magical cleaning product known to man.  After carefully reading the directions and letting the product soak on the stains for 3 minutes (no more, no less), I scrubbed away.  And watched the stains magically disappear!  I don't think anyone in the history of shower cleaners has ever been so happy about cleaning a shower.  And then I couldn't stop...I scrubbed the bathroom sink, the toilet, even the stainless steel kitchen sink.  SO STINKING SHINY.  But seriously, I think I have a problem (I guess I could have a worse addiction than an obsession with cleaning).

Things I concluded before, during, or after my cleaning expedition:
  • I am 75% sure that my shower is now the cleanest shower in all of New Jersey.
  • I am 100% sure that I am plumb out of elbow grease.
  • If the H1N1 swine flu virus was, for any reason, inexplicably living in my tub, it has now been completely eradicated, thanks to Spray Nine (I guess it wasn't completely useless after all).
  • 10 years from now, I will probably develop carpal tunnel due to the amount of scrubbing that was done today (2 1/2 hours.  Of scrubbing.  Ridiculous).
  • I will NOT be cleaning the shower next week.  End of story.  
Just when I had had enough of cleaning for the day, I headed to the barn with Murphy to ride Chubbles.  Who was FILTHY.  Must have rolled around in the mud for the better part of the morning.  After a thorough scrubbing of Chubbles, we had a nice ride in the rather muddy ring, watched Murphy run around like a rabid dog, and then called it a day.  


Murphy calls it a day. 


Nothing exciting on the menu for tonight....we are having a "detox" week of tasty and healthy salads.  I do have this to share from last week, though.


Unfortunately I do not have a picture, but I loved this soup.  It was easy, hearty, and healthy.  And cooks in the crockpot.  Really, what more could you ask for?!

I apologize for the lack of posts in the last few weeks.  There hasn't been much to report, except the usual weekend riding, hunting, and grocery shopping.  BearFace and I are feeling a bit stir-crazy down here...we are ready for the next move to a hilly-er county (no more RD will be a big weight off our shoulders, that's for sure). I will be going to Atlanta with my family for Thanksgiving to visit a long-lost aunt, uncle, and cousins, so things will be picking up soon!  And after that, only a few more weeks of the police academy, which means BearFace will be going into hibernation for a while.  We are both excited for that to be over, and will hopefully be able to spend some much-needed time in CT with friends and family around Christmas.  Just counting down the days now!


Still not used to the flatness of South Jersey, but it sure can be pretty sometimes.
  

Nov 6, 2012

Chemistry Experiment...in the Bathroom?

Before we get to my Tuesday chemistry experiment, there are a few orders of business to take care of.  First, a quick weekend recap.

  • Riding, as always.  
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Saturday night...last time I eat there!  A) Their wings don't even begin to compare to Bidwell's.  B) Found a piece of green plastic inside one of my boneless wings.  
  • Grocery shopping after Buffalo Wild Wings at 8;30 pm on a Saturday night.  Almost fell asleep while shopping.  I AM SO OLD.
  • Wreck-It Ralph Sunday afternoon movie date (trying to counteract the onset of old age by pretending I am still a child.  Not working, but it was a fun movie nonetheless).
  • And finally, home after the movies to our Big Sunday Night Dinner.

This week, Drew threw his famous Turkey and Bean Chili in the crockpot.  Warm, cozy, and oh-so-delicious-smelling.  

1 pound ground turkey meat
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 serrano chili, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
2 cloves minced garlic
10 dashes hot sauce
  1. Brown turkey meat, green peppers, garlic, and onions in saute pan over medium heat, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add meat, all peppers, onions, beans, and tomato paste and sauce to crockpot.  
  3. Add spices and hot sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  
  5. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with chips.


I pretty much finished off 2 bowls before remembering to snap a pic.

On to Tuesday...Murphy and I headed to the barn bright and early this morning for an 8:30 jumping lesson on Kim's horse, Chance.  Lots of fun, Chance jumped great, and the lesson Kicked. My. Butt.  I managed to scrounge up enough energy to take Chubbles out on a trail ride after, but let me tell you, I was pooped!  Which reminds me that my disgusting dog spent the entire hour-long lesson munching on poop.  He's really not picky, any kind will do.  Horse poop, deer poop, he even found some cat poop buried in the ring today.  I can yell all I want, but he knows there's nothing I can do about it while on a horse.  (He will be eating soap for dinner tonight).  Chubbles was not at all tired, and thoroughly enjoyed cantering and trotting around the newly cleared field, and actually wanted more.  


Follow that pup!  Actually, that's a terrible idea.  
Do NOT follow him.  


Here we have an oddly-colored, yet adorable boxer
modeling the new winter fashion for dogs.  


Handsome fellow. 

Then home to tackle the bathroom.  I did my weekly cleaning on Sunday, in hopes that I would actually have some time to relax today.  However, our bathroom has become a State of Emergency!  Our house has hard water, which has recently started staining the bathtub, toilet, and sink with a rust-colored stain.  I think the water just needs to be conditioned, but our regular bathroom cleaning products have no effect on the stains.  I found several sites that suggested using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to restore the tub to its former sparkling glory.  So I sat on my bathroom floor with a bowl, mixing baking soda and vinegar to the proper paste-like consistency, then smearing it all over the rust-colored areas.  The site said to let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe with a cloth.  That simple.  False!  I had high hopes in the beginning...lots of sizzling and fizzing (I felt like I was back in the General Chem lab at Uconn).  Maybe my stoichiometry was off, because the only result I achieved was a bathroom smelling strongly of vinegar.  Major fail.  Chemistry was always a challenge for me, anyway.

Nothing exciting in the kitchen tonight...I'm having a chicken salad craving!  I'm planning something tasty for Thursday though, so hopefully we will still have power after the nor'easter hits us tomorrow.  Luckily we still have a surplus of storm foods from the hurricane that almost completely missed us!   

Nov 1, 2012

The Pizza Debacle

BearFace and I started making our own pizza a couple years ago.  (Well, let me clarify.  We mostly made our own pizza...I'm too lazy to attempt my own dough, so store-bought refrigerated pizza dough it was).  The whole adventure was rather disastrous.  Neither of us had ever made pizza before, and the internet had not yet been invented, so we really had no clue what we were doing.  The results were often floury, chewy, and stuck to the baking pan.  Of course we always ate it, but probably didn't enjoy it.  Some of the later models improved, but not drastically.

That was until the great discovery. One of my CookingLight magazines from a few months ago had a pizza recipe that detailed how to properly make a pizza, and we haven't looked back since.  I have to say, tonight's pizza was my best yet!

Sausage and Broccoli White Pizza

1 pound refrigerated or frozen (defrosted) pizza dough
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1/2 cup PepperJack cheese shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1/4 cup ricotta
3 turkey sausage links (leftover from our lentil soup)
1/2 cup frozen (defrosted) broccoli, stems removed and chopped


  1. Place non-stick baking pan in oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
  2. While pan and oven are heating, remove casings from sausage and crumble into pan on medium heat.  Cook 5-10 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Set aside.  
  3. Defrost broccoli and set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough with rolling pin to a 13 inch circle (you can shape it into a rectangle if you don't have a circular pan).  Poke holes liberally in dough with a fork.
  5. Once oven is preheated, transfer dough to pan and drizzle with olive oil.
  6. Spread minced garlic over dough, and top with mozzarella and PepperJack.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of ricotta on top of other cheeses, then add chopped broccoli.
  8. Bake for 9 minutes, then add sausage, and continue to bake for another 3 minutes. 

I wanted to snap a picture of the whole pizza, but BearFace had it sliced
and on his plate before I could get to it.  They call him BEARFace for a reason!

Oct 30, 2012

See Ya, Sandy!

Over prepared.  We were over prepared.  The only storm supplies we purchased that we actually used? The sweets.  Never lost power.  Well, let me clarify.  We lost power for an insignificant amount of time while we were sleeping, which I only knew about because I had to reset the clocks this morning.  All trees remained intact.  BearFace and I took a drive to Vineland (about 30 mins away) today to see a movie...not one power line down, and maybe two trees down.  HALLELUJAH!  The storm that seemed dead set on hitting Salem County, and pretty much all of New Jersey for a sustained time decided to turn elsewhere and spare us.  Must have been deflected by my clean house!  Unfortunately the coast of New Jersey was not that lucky, as well as NYC from what I hear from brother Joe.  I feel very fortunate that we made it through the storm with no damage, and I hope all my friends and family in other states were as lucky as we were.

Resuming normal activities tomorrow, thankfully!  Spending three days locked in a house with a stir-crazy boxer=rather trying.  Day 1 and 2 were ok, but today was definitely a challenge.  It went something like this (Family Guy, anyone?):

Murphy: Hey Mom.
Michelle: Hey Murphy.
Murphy: Mom.  I love you.
Michelle: Thanks, Murph.  Love you too.
Murphy: Mom.  Hey Mom.  Um, Mom?  Excuse me.  Mom.  Mommy.  Mommy.  Mom.  Ma.  Mom.  
                MOM. HELLO.
Michelle: WHAT?!?!?! 
Murphy: HIIII.  Heehehee!


Murphy took to playing dress-up in an attempt to entertain himself,
then realized he couldn't unzip himself, panicked, and tried
to eat his way out of it.  

You could say that I am looking forward to heading back to work and getting the crazy back on his regular exercise schedule.

I'm also looking forward to getting back on a normal eating schedule!  Apparently Hurricane Sandy gave me permission to eat junk for the past 3 days.  This included: PopTarts, Fudge Stripe cookies, more PopTarts, and a massive amount of soda and popcorn at the movies today, all of which I normally avoid.  I also consumed more pasta in the last three days than I've eaten in probably three months.  I guess I thought this might really be the apocalypse...

Anyway, back to a bit healthier eating with this Tuesday Night Post-Hurricane Dinner:

Lentil Soup with Chickpeas and Quinoa

I have been wanting to make this for a while, and finally got around to it tonight.  It seemed like the perfect meal for a cold and rainy day (I made a few alterations, of course).  First and foremost, I had to add some meat to it!

1/2 pound turkey sausage, sliced

For the sausage (cook sausage first, then continue with recipe):

  1. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage slices and cook until just browned.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and set aside (meat will finish cooking in soup later on.)
  4. Add sausage to soup in Step 8 along with chickpeas.
This meal had great flavors and the sausage went well with it, but I do have some suggestions for improvement.  The quinoa kind of overtook the dish and absorbed a lot of the liquid, so I recommend A) using 1/2 cup quinoa instead of a full cup, and B) adding more chicken stock.  I would suggest 6 cups.  That is the amount I usually use in soups, and the 2-3 cups this recipe calls for just doesn't do it.  Also, serve with crusty dipping bread for extra deliciousness.  YUM. 


Not super soupy, but very tasty!



Oct 29, 2012

Hanging in There!

While Hurricane Sandy rages outside with the worst of it still to come, Drew, Murphy and I are hunkering down and getting ready for power loss!  Kayaks are in the garage in case of flooding, and Murphy's raincoat has been taken out of storage (What can I say, the dog hates rain).  Neither of us had to go into work today, and it has already been canceled for tomorrow.  We did venture out this morning to top off the gas in my car and stock up on sweets (who knows when we'll be able to buy them next!)  A lot of the fields we passed were already flooding as of 10:30 this morning.

Our landlord, Tracy, stopped by around noon to show us how to work the generator and pellet stove so we will have some power and heat.  Having never weathered a storm around here before, Drew and I don't really know what to expect.  Tracy reminded us that our area is barely above sea level, and rather close to the Delaware River.  I don't think our house will be in danger, but a lot of the roads around here will probably be flooded out.  Getting to work later this week may be a challenge.

Good news though...RD is prepared with a gallon of water, granola bars, and some mayo.  He's also quite knowledgeable about the storm...he informed us earlier that this is the "highest low pressure the state has ever seen!"  (I'm sorry, what?  Is that an oxymoron, or are you just a moron?)  Let's be honest, if it weren't for me and Drew, I don't think he would have filled the grill or figured out the generator. 

But oh well, nothing we can do about it now!  Time to shut off the Weather Channel, cook up something tasty for dinner, and put on a movie.  Murphy is in his glory.  He's never had this much snuggling in his life.


Can't. Take. All. The. Snuggling.


Sunday Night Hurricane Dinner:

Dad's Baked Chicken, Mom's Egg Noodles, and Roasted Broccoli (I was feeling something warm and comforting last night!)

For the chicken:

2 chicken breasts, pounded thin or sliced in half
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil in 9x9 baking pan.
  3. Set up a "chicken breading station".  Spread breadcrumbs and flour on 2 plates, and beat egg in a bowl.
  4. Dredge chicken in flour, then dip in egg wash, and finally coat with breadcrumbs.
  5. Place chicken in baking pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Flip chicken in pan, and continue baking for another 10 minutes. 
For the egg noodles:

1 package egg noodles (I used no-yolk noodles for a little healthier version)
~2 tbsp butter
~1 tbsp olive oil
Garlic salt
Parsley
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and return to pot.
  2. Add butter and olive oil and toss to coat (You can do just butter, or just olive oil if you want.)
  3. Add garlic salt and parsley to taste.
For the broccoli:

Fresh or frozen (defrosted) broccoli 
Grated Romano cheese
Olive oil
Garlic salt and pepper
  1. Spread broccoli on baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, and cheese.
  3. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until broccoli is slightly toasty.

A taste of Cheshire.  Yum.

Monday Night Hurricane Dinner:

Quick Hurricane Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Drew decided that he wanted to cook tonight, so I had to step back and let him take the reins.  I actually had to leave the kitchen so I didn't push him out of the way and take over.  I am that much of a cooking control freak!

1 pound ground turkey 
1 box whole wheat thin spaghetti
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 jar marinara sauce (Usually I make my own sauce, but didn't have the time/ingredients on hand tonight!)
Grated Romano cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Brown turkey meat and garlic in pan.
  4. Add sauce to pan and bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until meat is cooked through and sauce is hot.
  6. Add meat sauce to pasta, and top with Romano cheese.


Another warm and comforting meal!

Time to squeeze in one more shower before our power goes out and we lose the water :(  Not looking forward to going outside to pee!  I hope everyone is safe and dry!

Oct 28, 2012

Mass Hysteria

Before we discuss the impending doom that is heading our way, a quick recap of the week here in Alloway.

Tuesday:
  • Did some riding, and I honestly could not tell you if I rode in the ring or out on the trails (I think senility is setting in early).  All I know is Chubbles was cute!  
  • Murphy eats remote control #2 while Mom is at the barn.  Mom gets really mad because she is in the middle of watching NBC's Revolution on OnDemand (If you loved Lost, you should watch this show!)  Luckily, it still worked.
  • Went on a cleaning strike after finding a plate, tupperware, and several utensils in the dish rack that were coated in grease and crumbs.  Put dishes aside as evidence.  
  • Had a conversation about the dishes with RoomDog that went like this: "Hey, I found these dishes in the dish rack, and they are pretty much disgusting, so if you could try to actually wash them so I don't have to REwash them, I'd really appreciate it." RoomDog: "10-4".  
  • Made some tasty ground turkey burritos for dinner (nothing special here, didn't think the recipe was worth including).
  • Got really annoyed after dinner when RD's dirty dishes were in the sink AND in the dishrack.  Decided I was done being nice and threw all the "washed" dishes back in the sink.  NO MORE MR. NICE GUY. 

Mom's really mad at me for eating her remote control today.  
I hope she still likes me.  Thanks for listening, Stink Bug! 
You're my only friend.

Thursday:
  • No time for riding today, but took Murphles for a nice walk.  
  • Best of Salem County Awards Dinner with Tri-County Veterinary Hospital (A rather big event in Salem County.  We won best veterinarian, obviously because of my recent addition to the staff.)
  • Facebook-stalking and reminiscing over 6 years of wall-to-wall conversations with my Buddy Jenny.  HILARIOUS!  (Boy, do I miss my Uconn pals!)
  • R.I.P. Ember, Murphy's funny goat friend.  She was a good goat and had a great life at the barn, but she will surely be missed.

Friday:
  • Realization that there is a storm coming, and perhaps I should tune into the weather.  Mild annoyance at the possibility of a power outage. 
  • Mild annoyance slowly increases to genuine concern throughout the day at work while listening to clients and the other girls discuss the storm.  
  • Genuine concern increases to vague anxiety for these reasons:
    • The girls inform me that when power goes out in Salem County, it is often out for weeks.
    • They also told me that Hurricane Irene took out almost every bridge in the area, and I still barely know the roads around here. 
    • The water at our house is not drinkable.  (Tastes like sulfur, and our landlord told us it potentially causes cancer.)
    • Salem County is FLAT, and quite close to the Delaware River.  

Saturday:

GENERAL PANIC SETS IN.  I had to work in the morning, and of course the entire county is in a panic, which is quite infectious.  Everyone was calling to try to come in for an appointment on Saturday, and refilling their pet's medications just in case the hospital is swept away by Hurricane Sandy.  The possibility that we might be without power for several days, or even weeks seemed more like a reality, so I decided to buckle down and make a list of storm preparations:
  • Ride Chubbles.  Who knows when I'll be able to get to the barn next!
  • Get gas for my car.
  • Get cash.
  • Buy dog food.
  • Buy more water and non-perishable food items.
  • Do laundry.
I think every person in Alloway and Woodstown had the same ideas as me, because there was not one bottle, jug, or gallon of water in Acme, so that one was a failure.  Bread, soup, and peanut butter were also precious commodities.  I had to take out a couple people to get to the peanut butter, but I prevailed in the end.  I learned my lesson with the laundry from Hurricane Irene, when I had to go to work in dirty scrubs.  EW.  

I took a break from the storm hysteria that night to attend the Alloway Halloween Parade with Drew and Kim.  Pretty much the biggest thing that happens in Alloway all year, and I have to say it was worth seeing!  


These are Mummers.  Apparently they are a thing in Philly.  
I don't know, look it up!


Red Solo Cup float.  My favorite one.


Murphy wishes he was in the parade.  Or that he
had a glow stick.   

After the parade, Drew, Kim and I went to the Point 40 Diner to grab a late night dinner.  Drew ordered a Chicken Parm Sub, and I decided to go with a Meatball Parm Sub.  Simple enough, right?  Wrong.  People in New Jersey do not understand sandwiches.  The waitress was confused because apparently subs=lettuce, tomato and mayo on top.  She insisted that we wanted Meatball/Chicken Parm sandwiches.  I let it slide and agreed after making sure that it still came on a sub roll.  Good thing we didn't order grinders, because no one around here has any clue what a grinder is.  And don't get me started on hoagies!  

Sunday:    

IT'S COMING.  Nothing we can do about it now but hunker down and make our last few preparations.  So what was number one on my list of things to do before FrankenStorm?  If cleaning the house did not immediately come to mind, you might want to re-evaluate your survival plans.  Cleaning the house is essential for two reasons: 1) NO POWER=POTENTIALLY NO VACUUMING FOR WEEKS! and 2) Everyone knows hurricanes don't like clean houses and avoid them like the plague.  

Drew went to Walmart to purchase some propane for our grill and more water, since Acme was clearly not prepared for the mass hysteria that would hit the citizens of Salem County.  He also planned to get a few candles for night time, butttt so did everyone else.  He came back with 2 mini candles and reports of people actually stealing water from Walmart.  I mean, I'm definitely in support of "better safe than sorry", but seriously?  The world is not ending!  (Or is it?  Watching Revolution a week before a monster hurricane was definitely not a great idea.)

Luckily we have a car charger for our cell phones, kayaks in case of a flood, and our landlord is trying to find a generator for us to run our fridge and hopefully our toilet!  Trash cans are in the garage, water jugs are filled with tap water for cooking and Murphy's water bowl, and TV shows are caught up on. Last step was writing this post...hopefully I will have power on Tuesday to write my next!  So, in conclusion, I hope your house is clean, you have candles, you live on a hill, and you can drink your tap water.  Good luck!