Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Valentines Dance

The PTA had a Valentine Dance fundraiser on Friday night. Emmet's "date" was another fifth grader, Sarah. She was on the t-ball team I coached years ago. She's also a member of the junior geological society. But here's the killer: she was so excited when she told me that she was wearing the lip gloss and the perfume she got for Christmas. OMG HOW CUTE IS SHE?!

Speaking of cute...Becca went solo, but she looked adorable, and I think she had fun. At dinner, after the dance, she showed us her new moves--the Chicken Dance and the Electric Slide.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Best Facebooks Statuses I've Read Today

Because I can't make fun of these people on Facebook...

Angela F_____
I'll be glad when this rash is completely gone.
Mitch H______
A Communist, a Muslim, and an Illegal Immigrant walk into a bar.
The Bartender says.....
"What are you drinking, Mr. President?"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spoiler Alert: It's Superglue

I tried this new nail stuff: NutraNail Gel Perfect UV-Free Gel-Color. I honestly think it's superglue. At least, that's what it smelled like. And the results?

Not good! I followed the package instructions on my right hand, and these instructions on the left. The polish looked okay, though it was a bit streaky, and maybe not as shiny as a salon manicure.

Unfortunately, immediately after I washed my hair two days later, all the polish started chipping off. It was obvious that water got underneath the polish. Also, in spite of already being perhaps 50% chipped off, it was still a bit of work to get the rest of it off.

Pros: at $12, it's cheaper than a Shellac manicure
Cons: at $12, it's still a waste of money.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Soup Swap 2012

Finally had a second Soup Swap on Sunday. The last one was a couple of years ago. I thought there was some demand for a second one, but the turnout was kind of disappointing. HOWEVAH, here is the email I sent to everyone with recipes--thought you might be interested:

Hi everyone! Thanks to all of you who came to the soup swap. I had a great time, and I can't wait to try your soups.

We talked at the party about having other kinds of swaps--casserole, desserts, etc. Later last night I had an idea: since it's hard for everyone to get together, maybe we could share a monthly email with everyone's favorite new recipe in it. So let's say on February 20th or so, I would send an email to all of you requesting recipes. You would then respond directly to me with your new favorite recipe--send me a link to the recipe, or send the text of the recipe. [Just don't "reply all"--we would quickly be drowning in email.] On the first of the month, I can send the compilation of recipes to everyone subscribed.

The recipes could be for anything--a new drink, snack, casserole, soup, entree, vegetable--whatever you got especially excited about in the previous month. Anything that was so good it made you want to shout from the rooftops and tell everyone how awesome it was. It could also be a family favorite for an upcoming holiday; for example, at the end of February you could send your favorite St. Patrick's Day recipe, or something like that.

Anyway, think about that idea and whether or not you'd want to be on the email list. In the meantime, as promised, the recipes we collected yesterday are listed below.

See you soon,

Simply Recipes' Chipotle Pumpkin Soup (from Annie

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (from Annie)

The Homesick Texan's Red Posole (from Letitia)

Letitia made a couple of changes to that recipe: "She has a smoked hamhock and ground cloves in hers, but I can't find the ground cloves and think a ham hock might make it taste like an ashtray."

Pam Anderson's Creamy Chili-Corn Soup with Chicken and Black Beans (from Terri)
PS--You should be reading Terri's blog--she's always making something good.

Cook's Illustrated Artichoke Soup a la Barigoule
(aka Artichoke Fancy Soup) (from Jamie)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 (9-ounce) boxes frozen artichokes, thawed and patted dry
• 12 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and sliced thin
• 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and rinsed thoroughly
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
• 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
• 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2 bay leaves
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon or basil leaves
• Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Lightly brown the artichokes, 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook until they have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until the mushrooms are dry and browned, about 5 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in the leek and butter and cook until the leek is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, anchovies, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and vegetable broth, smoothing out any lumps. Stir in the parsnips, bay leaves, and half of the browned artichokes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook until the parsnips are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Off the heat, remove the bay leaves. Stir in the remaining browned artichokes, cream, and tarragon, and let stand off the heat until the artichokes are heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Serves 6.
Baked Potato Soup (from Biz)

Ingredients (Please note that I tend to cook more by eye than by actual measurements, so you may need to make some slight adjustments.  Sorry)
  • 1 pound Russet baking potatoes (if your potatoes weigh more than a pound, use itI)
  • 1/2 C chopped white onion
  • 1/4 C finely diced celery
  • 3 TBSP butter (sometimes I use less butter and supplement with olive oil)
  • 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill (fresh dill is better if you have it.  Note: you'll use more fresh than dried.  yummy alternative: fresh chives.  I just always use dill)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 1/4 C milk
  • 3/4 C chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • Bacon (crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled) for garnish
  • Sliced green onion for garnish
1. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender; cool (Cooking them in the microwave works fine, too. In fact, the flesh scoops out more easily after being microwaved). Cut each potato lengthwise. Scoop out white portion of each potato. Break up any large pieces of potato, mashing with a fork. Discard potato skins (or do what I do and eat them with a bit of sour cream. Yum!)
2. In a large saucepan cook the white onion and celery in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, dill, salt, and pepper. Add milk and chicken stock all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly (usually 12 to 15 minutes). Add the potato and 1 cup of the cheese; stir until cheese melts.
3. Top each serving with the remaining cheese and garnish with bacon and green onion.
4. Makes approx. 5 to 6 servings of 1/2 cup portions (but come on, who really only eats a half cup?)

Chicken Corn Chowder (from Angela P.)

Fry 2 slices of bacon in a large soup pot until crunchy.  Take the bacon out (reserve for garnish if you wish).  Sautee 1 onion, chopped until soft.  Add 1 chopped red pepper, 1 jalapeno, and salt and pepper to taste.   Sautee for a few minutes.  Add 1 bag frozen corn and 1 potato diced (I use frozen hashbrown potatoes).  Add 3 cups chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Blend about half of the soup in the blender and return to the pot.  Add 2 cups milk and 2 cups chopped cooked chicken.   Garnish with the bacon and some cilantro.

**I play with the seasoning…I usually add cumin and cayenne pepper.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (Mamacita)

chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
andouille sausage, sliced
3 big handsful of flour (enough to cover bottom of pan 1” thick)
vegetable oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped

1. Brown the regular onions and remove them to another plate. In the same pan, brown sausage, then remove to a second plate. Brown chicken in same pan and remove it to plate with sausage.

2. Using pan drippings and additional vegetable oil as necessary, use flour to make roux. Brown roux, stirring constantly, until it's the color of a Hershey bar.

3. In the meantime, make the stock using chicken broth or water, plus bay leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne and Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco) and the browned chicken.  Bring all of that to a boil, then add green peppers, onions, celery, and garlic.

4. Just before the roux is ready, remove all chicken from broth.  Add the roux into boiling chicken broth and let that go until it's sufficiently thick and dark.  Pick the chicken from the bones and return it to the broth; then add the sausage.  Remove the gumbo from heat and add chopped green onions.