serendipitous reflections

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Scootin' Sharon

I promise you this was the funniest thing I saw all weekend. Dean's mom on an electric scooter. The story behind the scooter is it was bought for our niece, Sarah, two Christmases ago. The scooter arrived damaged so the company sent another scooter, but never picked up the damaged one. When Denny called to find out when they were going to come and get it, they said they couldn't take it back after 30 days, so they could keep it or give it away...whatever they wanted to do with it. Denny pulled it out of the box and with a little super glue, it was ready to go. At some point in the weekend, Denny was telling us this story and added in the fact that Sharon sometimes rides it to work. I almost peed my pants and said I have to see her on the scooter before the weekend was over. On Sunday night she charged it up and took it for a spin. I was laughing so hard I was crying. It was a hoot and a half. Posted by Hello

The 2nd funniest sight of the weekend

Well this was the second funniest thing I saw over the weekend. Dean on the scooter. He's about a foot too tall for it. He will have to tell you about him scooting around on the scooter. It makes me laugh too hard. Posted by Hello

Kelly and Kristin

This is Kelly and her best friend, Kristin. They were in band together all four years of high school, and travel together to other band camps in the summers. Kristin is going to study engineering in college. Kristin is a very sweet and smart girl. Posted by Hello

The family shot

I made everyone take a bunch of pictures because I still go back and look at my pictures from graduation. When you get older they mean much more. Times like these make me so nostalgic.

Posted by Hello

Dean and Kelly

Dean and I traveled to Ohio over the weekend for his sister's high school graduation. We had a really nice weekend. On Friday we got to celebrate the birth of our nephew Evan. On Saturday, we had an open house/graduation party for Kelly. There was a nice turnout and she got some really nice gifts. It was really nice for Dean and I because we really have never had a chance to meet Kelly's friends and neighbors. The food turned out wonderfully, and everyone had a good time. Then on Sunday was Kelly's graduation which short and sweet for a class graduating about 475 people. One really cool fact about Kelly's graduating class is they were offered over $9 million in scholarships. That's pretty awesome.

Dean and I are so excited for what lies ahead for Kelly. This is such an exciting time in her life. She going to have some many new experience with new people. She is going to go to college at The University of Miami (Ohio). She plans to study Music Education and is going to march in the band.

Congrats Kelly! We are very proud of you!

Posted by Hello

Big brother Noah

Here are our two youngest nephews, Noah and Evan. You can already see that Evan is going to look up to his older brothers and sisters. They are both so cute!

Posted by Hello

Announcing the birth of Evan William

Dean and I are proud to announce the birth our newest nephew, Evan William. He was born at Friday, May 27th at 9:35 pm. He weighted 7 lbs 3.8 ozs and measured 20.75 inches.

Congratulations Doug and Cathy! He is absolutely beautiful and we can't wait to kiss him all over and pinch his little cheeks!!
Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Kelly's Graduation

Honestly I can't believe she is old enough to be going to college. Dean and I were talking about the first time I meet Kelly. She was four years old, and his parents had come in town for a football game, so I babysat Kelly and another little girl. I know this must be very surreal for Dean and Doug. It's still funny for me to say we are going to Dean's sister's graduation. People say "OH, what college?" And I say "No high school." They get the funniest look their faces because of two things -- 1. People miss judge Dean's age all the time and think he is older than he is; and 2. They will say "Second marriage." and I say "Nope...Same parents. Just late in life." It's pretty funny.

Anyway, I will post pictures and commentary on Monday when get back in town. Pray for good weather so our flights are on time!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Noah

Today is our nephew Noah's 9th birthday. He is one of the sweetest children I know. Noah has such a tiny and sweet voice. I love hearing him say uncle Dean. It melts my heart. God blessed us with two more nephews and a niece when Doug and Cathy got married. And now we have another niece and another nephew (anyday!!). They all are so special. We love them all!

Dean and I can't wait until we get to spend a week at the beach with he and Sarah. Posted by Hello

Sunday Brunch

On Sunday, Dean and I had the pleasure of having a little brunch for Tiffany and some of her friends (Ellen, her son Will, Shelly, Lisa, her daughter Gracie, and Dean's cousin Kerry). We had a wonderful time. Unforturnately our A/C decided not to work, but it was fixed today. Sorry ladies for the streamy apartment.

The Menu
Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches
Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup (Paula Deen)
Mr. Lou's Kicked-Up Coffee Cake (Emeril Lagasse)
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Blackberry Butter (Emeril Lagasse)

Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiches

1 (10 oz) pkg frozen broccoli florets
6 large eggs
1/2 C half and half
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Butter four 8 oz ramekins or a 9" pie dish; set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli; cook 1-2 minutes. Drain well; transfer to a cutting board, and blot dry with a paper towel. Chop coarsedly.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and cheese.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly. Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.

**This would be awesome for a bridal shower, baby shower, and a brunch. Serving this in the ramekins really adds a little something special to the presentation. Also make sure to bake this on a cookie sheet because if the ramekins are too full they will spill over the sides some.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Raspberry Butter
Yield: 12 regular muffins, or 6 jumbo muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a standard 12-well muffin pan or a jumbo 6-well muffin pan.

ift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and lemon juice.
Make a well in center of the flour mixture and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Add the melted butter and use a rubber spatula to blend with quick strokes, being careful not overmix the batter; it should still be slightly lumpy. Gently stir in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each well 3/4 full. Bake until slightly puffed and golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Cooking time may be a little longer if you are baking jumbo-sized muffins. Lightly sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins, if desired. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve the muffins warm, with Raspberry or Blackberry Butter.

**Emeril has these muffins being served with raspberry butter, but I didn't have time to make it. I impervised and made blackberry butter.

Blackberry Butter

1 stick butter, softened
1/4-1/2 C homemade blackberry jam

With an electric mixer, whip until blended well, about 2-3 minutes. Put in a dish and chill until ready to serve.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

** I added homemade whipped cream to this dish. I was a wonderful addtion and a real crowd pleaser.

Homemade whipped cream
1 C whipping cream or heavy cream
2-3 Tbl sugar

Chill a metal mixing bowl in a the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take bowl out of the freezer; add in cream and sugar. With an electric mixer, whip on high for 3-4 minutes or until peaks form. Spoon in to a bowl and serve.


Mr. Lou's Kicked-up Coffee Cake

I haven't made many of Emeril's recipes before, but this coffee cake is out of this world. I used fresh raspberries, but next time I think I will use blackberries and raspberries, my two favorites. I also made this in a 9" springform pan. If you do use a springform pan, make sure to butter and flour the pan WELL. This was actually really easy to make and you get really big results from it.

Mr. Lou's Kicked-Up Coffee Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: about 8 servings

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, or any combination, rinsed well and patted dry

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped roasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan with the tablespoon of butter, and lightly dust with flour. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed. Into a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients in 3 stages into the butter, alternating with the eggs 1 at a time, beating after the addition of each. Fold the sour cream into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and arrange the berries evenly over the top. To make the streusel topping, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend. Evenly sprinkle the topping over the top of the berries. Bake in the oven until golden brown and risen, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.
Posted by Hello


Monday, May 23, 2005

Quick update

Had a fantastic weekend with Tiffany and her friends. We had a couple of them over here for brunch on Sunday. I will post pictures and recipes tomorrow. I'm just too sleepy tonight.

Cathy, God love her, still has not had her baby. (Well at least when I posted this.) Full moon...cross your fingers everyone.

I'm sure Dean will give you the lowdown on Star Wars Episode III tomorrow. We went today with his cousin Kerry.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Chicken Curry in a Hurry Salad

I have taken several recipes for curry chicken salad and finally formulated one that I love! I wish I would have baked sourdough bread to go with this, but the honey wheat toast worked out just fine. The chips in the foreground of the picture are Dean's all-time favorite, Zapp's Spicy Cajun Crawtators.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry Salad

3 C shredded or cubed chicken, cooked (I use rotisserie chicken from the store)
1 1/2 C celery, chopped
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C toasted almonds, chopped (optional)
1/2 C mayo
1/4 C sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 onion salt
3 Tbl lemon juice
1-2 Tbl curry powder

Combine chicken, celery, raisins, and almonds. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, lemon, and curry powder. Add mayo mixture to chicken mixture, blend well. Serve over greens or crusty bread.

**I have considered adding in chopped grapes, apples, and/or some onion.

Posted by Hello


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

This week's public radio review

I really got a laugh out of The Loh Down from Marketplace on Monday.

And the Georgia teacher getting fired for standing behind his grades he gave just left me dumbfounded on Morning Edition.

OK ... this was from last week, but I found this Nepal article on archives because I was working (working?!?) and couldn't listen to it. Still haven't, but want to... This is from The Connection.

Yes ... too much public radio, I guess. But there's really some good stuff out there.

52 in 52

I have decided that I'm going to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I came to this decision after looking at all the books in my bookcase that I haven't read, and the hundreds more that I want to buy.

So here's the beginnings of the list (in no particular order):
1. Poisonwood Bible
2. Vinegar Hill
3. Why Girls are Weird
4. Wuthering Heights
5. A Fine Balance
6. Diary of a Mad Bride
7. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
8. The Secret Lives of Bees
9. The Mermaid Chair
10. Stolen Lives
11. The Corrections
12. The Count of Monte Cristo
13. Pride and Prejudice
14. Three Musketeers
15. Honeymoon
16. 4th of July
17. The Big Bad Wolf
18. In Her Shoes
19. Little Earthquakes
20. Down Came the Rain
21. Deception Point
22. The Road Less Traveled
23. On the Road
24. I Love Everybody (and other Atrocious Lies): True tales of a loudmouth girl
25. We Thought You would be Prettier: True tales of the dorkest girl alive
26. The Idiot's Girls' Christmas: True tales from the top of the Naughty List (release fall 2005)
27. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and denim
28. Daughter of Fortune
29. Mother of Pearl
30. Unfit to Practice
31. Lucky Me
32. Bridget Jones: The edge of reason
33. Fall On Your Knees
34. The Jester
35. Of Mice and Men
36. Fluke
37. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 16, 2005)
38. The Passion of Artemisia
39. Marrying the Mistress
40. Emma
41. London Bridges
42. Black Friday
43. The Day I Turned Uncool: Confessions of a Reluctant Grown-up
44. Her
45. Stones from the River
46. The Hours
47. Catcher in the Rye (re-read)
48. A Child Called IT
49. Crackpot


When we were over at Lisa and Brian's this weekend, Gracie showed us her first cheer. Lisa would say "What do we want?!?" And Gracie would put both arms in the air, grin from ear to ear, and say "TOUCHDOWN!" Pretty good for a 15 month old.

For those of you that need a little background to this story--
Lisa was a cheerleader from the time she could hold a pompon, and 14 years after graduating from Graham High School she can still sing the school fight song and do the dance, kicks and all. Now she may be sore the next morning, but she and Nikki both can do it. (Honestly this is one of my favorite party tricks that they do.)
In addition to Lisa being a cheerleader, Rusty (Lisa's dad) played college football at VaTech and was one hell of a player. He still goes to most all of the games and he also still attends most Graham High's football games. And the icing on the cake, Brian (Gracie's dad) is a devout Clemson football fan and has season tickets to the games. So it is only natural that Gracie has already started learning her cheers for the games.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Geocaching on Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Jeni and I were catching up on some TV shows, and we were watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent from two weeks ago and they actually referred to Geocaching (the GPS global scavenger hunt game that we sometimes get a chance to do).

[As they said on the Geocaching website: Geocaching was featured on Law & Order: Criminal Intent this evening, May 8. Contrary to the creative license taken by the show's writers, we strictly do not list caches that are buried. We also welcome those who saw the show this evening!]

Curious what the heck I'm talking about when I talk about geocaching? Go here and your questions should mostly be answered. Or be like Tiff and call me and say, "What IS this?!?" If you saw the episode, the gps compass she had is the same one we have. Just kind of neat to see it on tv.

The new rug

Here is a picture of the new living room rug. It takes up most of our living room, but when we get a house, hopefully the living room with bigger than the one in this apartment. It really gives the house a warm feeling. I'm super happy with the purchase. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Weekend update

Dean and I went over to Camden, SC to visit our friends Lisa, Brian, and Gracie. We had an really good time. On Saturday, Lisa and I took Gracie to Lowe's to buy ferns for her front porch and some flowers for pots on the back porch. The bonus to the trip was I saw an area rug, that I had looked at months ago, half off. This was quite a coup, but then I started thinking we couldn't get it in our car to bring it back to Columbia. So I didn't get it. We had a really good dinner, if I say so myself. (I'll post the recipes later on.) Then on to a couple of games of Scene It! Since we are all movie lovers, it was a lot fun.

On Sunday, we decided to go back to Lowe's and buy lattice to go around Lisa and Brian's deck and storage building. After deciding we couldn't pass up the area rug, whether or not we could get it back to Columbia in our car, we were going to get it.

So the afternoon was spend putting up lattice and planting flowers. Everything turned out nice, and to cap off the day we played another game of Scene It! Dean and I were able to get the rug in the car using the backseat pass-through.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Plain white undershirt

When I get home from work, the first thing I do is get rid of the dress pants, button-up shirt and tie. It's not so much that I don't enjoy wearing them, but after 10 hours, and knowing I've got 10 hours tomorrow, enough is enough. Sometimes I'll catch myself just in shorts and my white undershirt, but I'm not really comfortable in just a white undershirt. I don't feel dressed.

The other day, I recalled a story from my youth. We were living in Cary, NC so I must have been between three and six years old, which amazes me that I even remember this. But Dad had come home from work and dinner was being served so he went back and changed. He came out in shorts and his white undershirt (with sleeves). Mom sent him away from the table to get dressed, saying "You're not eating at my table without a shirt on." Dad returned, joking that he should have come back in a shirt and his underpants instead.

Maybe this is at the root of why I don't usually wear t-shirts...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tiffany vs Wayne Crane's Tomato Plants

Picture it--a warm May night in the mountains of Virginia. A light breeze. A full moon. The sound of crickets. A quiet and peaceful night, right? Well this is where my story begins.

My mother was at the beach with her boyfriend, Earl, which meant party at my house. It wasn't supposed to be a big party, just a few friends. Famous last words from a senior in high school. When the party started it was just a few friends having some beers and playing quarters. No biggie. Then out came the liquor, and it all went go downhill after that. People were calling friends, and they would show up with more friends. And so on and so on.

My friend, Trinity, was already at home for the night when we called her to come down to the party. She said her parents were already asleep so she would "sneak out." Tiffany and I head out in the gold nugget -- a gold Cavalier,which was Tiff's first car -- to pick her up. (We lived on the same street.) It really wasn't any big deal to get her out of the window. We had done this many times. Tiff, Trin, and myself return to the party without her parents waking up. Good job.

The trouble came when we were returning Trinity to her room in the wee hours of the morning. Tiff and I had to lift Trinity back into the window. Sounds so simple. Tiff and I position ourselves under the window and Trinity climbs on to our legs (like a cheerleading pyramid). All of sudden, Tiffany starts sinking, and she is soaking wet. Trinity and I can't figure out what going on because we are so focused on getting her into the window without waking her parents. Now Tiff is starting to get frustrated because her whole penny loafer is completely covered with mud. Trin and I start laughing because the sight of Tiff soaking wet and one shoe down in the mud was too funny. Tiff couldn't take our laughing anymore and says "This f*cking shit ain't funny anymore!" and with one big push, pushes Trinity into the window head first. Well this made me laugh even harder because now Trinity is spread eagle on her bedroom floor and Tiff is in her stocking feet digging out her shoe, all the while water is just pouring down onto her head.

When we get back to my house, we try to clean up the penny loafer and try to figure out why she was soaking wet and I was not. It wasn't raining. Never mind the party was still going on.

The next morning, Trinity calls me just dying from laughing about the past night's events. Then she hears her dad say "Judy, I believe some boys were looking into Trinity's room last night. The tomatoes plants I planted yesterday are destroyed and there are footprints all through this flower bed."

Before Trinity knew it her dad was at Lowe's buying a motion detector light for the corner of their house -- to keep the boys from looking into Trinity's room. There was no way we could tell her parents it wasn't boys, it was just us. So the motion detector lights went up.

Oh, the reason why Tiff was so wet was because a rain gutter had leaked on her head. For as long as I live I will never forget looking over at Tiff in the pale moonlight, her curly hair soaked, her Polo sweatshirt soaked, and only one shoe on, and one shoe in her hand covered in mud, and cussing all the way back to the car.

It's funny how when you get old you start to fess up to your parents about the "bad" things you did as a teenager. This past summer when I was on vacation with Trinity's family, we finally told her parents about the tomato plants. Her mom, Judy, was just laughing so hard.

And for Trinity's sake, I will make the disclaimer that she was a good girl until she started hanging out with me and Tiffany. We were the bad influences you were warned about on the after school specials.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Cathy!

Dean and I want to wish Cathy a very happy birthday! Cathy is our sister-in-law and we love her very much. She is a wonderful mother and wife. As you can tell by the picture she is very pregnant so we really hope, for her sake, today will be baby Evan's birth day.

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago when she took her daughter Sarah's girl scout troop hiking in the Smokies. We just knew we were going to see her airlifted out of the mountains with a new baby in her arms. Now that would be a girl scout adventure! I wonder if they have a badge for that???

Hopefully she'll get to go out and have an ice cream cone on her special day!

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Want a good laugh?

If you want a good laugh, click here.

Apricot chicken, mashed cauliflower with cheese, and sweet potato with maple butter

I have made this recipe several times and it always turns out awesome. Really you won't believe how easy it is to make, and it has such a payoff with sweet flavor. Rachael Ray's recipe says to use chicken tenderloins (cut into pieces) but I use 4 chicken breast and it works out wonderfully. The cooking time is about the same. And Dean loves to take the leftovers for lunch. He even said it is almost better as a leftover because it is so moist and sweet from sitting overnight in the sauce. The chicken really soaks it up.

The mashed cauliflower is a nice change from always fixing mashed potatoes. Now don't get me wrong I am the #1 fan of mashed potatoes, but this cauliflower is wonderful. I have made this for some time now, but Rachael Ray makes it a little differently, so I have changed a few things in how I make it. (Thanks again Rachael!) And how can you go wrong with a sweet potato, brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup.

Apricot Chicken

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut in 1/2 across on an angle
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
12 dried pitted apricots, chopped (I use a about 16-20 b/c I love apricots)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup apricot all fruit spread or apricot preserves
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Heat a large skillet with a lid over medium high heat. Add oil and chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly brown the chicken a few minutes on each side, add onions. Cook 5 minutes. Add vinegar to the pan and let it evaporate. Add apricots and stock. When stock comes to a bubble, add preserves and stir to combine. Cover pan, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Smashed Cauliflower (Rachael Ray's way)

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded white extra-sharp Vermont Cheddar (recommended: Cabot brand)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
Coarse black pepper and salt
A generous grating of nutmeg

Place cauliflower in a medium shallow pot or pan. Add stock, cover and place pot over high heat. When liquid boils, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered 10 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat to medium high and allow the broth to reduce by half, 2 minutes.* Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and the cheeses and smash the cauliflower with a masher to the same consistency as desired for mashed potatoes. Season the cauliflower with black pepper, a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

* After 10 minutes, I drain off some the chicken stock because I think it is too runny if the stock is left in. If you don't have Parm, don't worry...it is just as good with out it. I have used sharp cheddar in this recipe and it's very good also.

Sweet Potato with maple butter

Sweet potatoes, one per person
3-4 Tbl butter, softened
3-4 Tbl maple syrup

Wash sweet potatoes well. Place them in a microwave safe dish with a lid. For two medium sized sweet potatoes, cook for about 6:30 mins with the lid on. (Change time accordingly to the size and amount of potatoes you are cooking.) Remember the potatoes are steaming hot when they come out of the microwave, so be careful.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the maple butter. With a spoon mix the butter and maple syrup together. I put it back in the fridge so will harden some before serving it, but it not necessary.

To serve, cut potato down the center, but not all the was through. (You can push the ends toward the middle to make the opening a little bigger and help loosen the sweet potato from the skin.) Top potato with a maple butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Posted by Hello


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day, Carolyn

Happy Mother's Day, Carolyn. These are two pictures of Carolyn and Jeni. (In the absence of a scanner, we took digital pictures of them and they turned out ok.) Jeni's mom passed away 10 years ago, all too soon, and we miss her very much. Happy Mother's Day. Thanks for keeping an eye out for us. We love you. Posted by Hello

Happy Mother's Day

This is our tribute to the Mothers in our lives. Thanks for all you do!
Sharon-- mother to Doug, Dean, and Kelly; "Nanny" to Tommy, Sarah, Noah, Amy, and (Evan- hopefully really soon for Cathy's sake) Posted by Hello

Sue - mother to Fred and Andy; step-mother to Chris and Jeni; Nana to Brock; Sue/Grandma to Andrew, Aaron, and Brittany Posted by Hello

Cathy - mother to Tommy, Sarah, Noah, Amy, and Evan (arriving any day) Posted by Hello

Doris - mother to Denny and Steven; "Nanny" to Doug, Dean, Kelly, and Kerry; Grandnanny to Tommy, Sarah, Noah, Amy, and Evan Posted by Hello

Tracey - mother to Garrett. This is Tracey's first mother's day! Posted by Hello

Jackie - mother to Andrew, Aaron, and Brittany Posted by Hello

Judy - mother to David, Trinity and Beth; Meme to Makenzie, Jacob, Madison, Shannon, and Patrick
Trinity - mother to Makenzie
Beth - mother to Jacob and Madison Posted by Hello

Nikki - mother to Morgan and Evan Posted by Hello

Lisa - mother to Gracie Posted by Hello

This push pin makes cents...

My boss got me new office furniture a few weeks ago and put cork boards with picture frames inside them over my desk. I have chosen a few photos to take in, but am being wishy-washy on those.

The cork boards came with these awful plastic push pins that are so not professional or classy looking. In an effort to jazz up the cork boards some, we hunted around for push pins. We used to be able to find these cool sets of pewter push pins when we lived in Iowa, but are not having any luck in Columbia. So instead, we decided to make some. Jeni and I went to an antique store hoping to find some old round type writer keys to make into push pins. We didn't find anything along those lines, but decided to use old type-setting blocks instead. Above is my first attempt ... I used an old "cents" symbol and hammered in an 18x3/4" brad about halfway. Then I pulled the brad out and reversed it and tapped it back into place and helped secure it with some silicone sealer we had. The brads appear to be pretty secure and the two brads will keep the block from swinging and hold papers more securely. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Thumbs up!

One of my favorite funny moments of our marriage was a few years ago when we were in chiropractic college. I had to head out to class, but Jeni didn't have class so she was sleeping in. So I stirred her a little and told her I was heading out. She raised her arm straight out of bed, gave me a "thumbs up," and went back to sleep.

Second to this was a similar reply the other day. As I'm leaving for work, I kiss her on the forehead and say that I'm leaving for work. She cracks her eyes and asks, "Are you serious?" That's my wife!

Juggle saver found

This was a happy day for me. The juggle bug has bitten me lately and during a break at work, I decided to do a search for Brian Apps and Juggle Saver. For those who aren't jugglers, Brian Apps designed one of the best juggling simulators/screen savers around. The graphics are done incredibly well, and you can even customize the patterns. A little history on this screen saver, though. I had downloaded it about eight or nine years ago, but back then you had to purchase a registration. Well, I didn't purchase it, and Brian Apps dropped off the face of the internet. When I would search for the screen saver, I always found this limited version. Well I don't know what was different today, but I found his current personal website, a newer, unlimited version of the screen saver, and a few other goodies, too. And while I still don't understand siteswap notation for creating your own patterns, I have the screen saver again. And that is exciting.

[BTW ... after posting this, I picked up my Dube juggling bags that I've had since 1992 and juggled five for the first time in a long time. Managed a solid 28 catches. Then tried to juggle four and couldn't make my fourth catch! Ugh.]

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette

This salad is quickly becoming our favorite. It is so yummy and easy. I use a cast iron grill skillet to grill the mini burgers. I have always put salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce in my hamburgers, but the onions keep the burgers moist and add so much flavor. We have used white cheddar, American, swiss, co-jack, and pepper jack cheese; they are all wonderful. But the key to this salad is the dressing. Man, oh man it is good. I'm not even a mustard lover, but this dressing has changed my mind. It's tangy, but not over powering, and it makes you feel like you are eating a big ol' cheeseburger.

Dean likes this salad so much, I always make extra for his lunch the next day. All the people at his work are so jealous when he pulls this out at lunch. It hits the spot!

Rachael Ray comes through again!! Thanks Rachael!

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or ground turkey
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, eyeball it
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3/4 pound brick sharp Cheddar (recommended: Cabot brand or Cracker Barrel brand* )
3 large hearts romaine lettuce
1 cup sliced pickles, drained – choose from sweet, half-sour or dill varieties
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

3 tablespoons yellow mustard (recommended: French's brand)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons drained salad pimentos or, 1/4 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

* There are many flavors of sharp Cheddar out in today's markets to choose from, so go plain or go wild! Among the choices out there in sharp cheddars: 5-peppercorn, smoked, dill, garlic and herb, roasted garlic, horseradish, chipotle, habanero, jalapeno – on and on!

Preheat a grill pan or a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat or, preheat outdoor grill. Combine the meat with onion, Worcestershire and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Form 2-inch meatballs, then flatten them into patties. Drizzle formed mini patties with extra-virgin olive oil to keep them from sticking to cooking surface.

Slice the brick of cheese into 1/4-inch pieces. Place patties into a preheated pan or grill pan or arrange on outdoor grill. Cook the mini burgers for 3 minutes on each side then add cheese to melt over patties. On outdoor grill, close the lid to melt cheese. In a skillet or on a grill pan, tent the mini cheeseburgers loosely with foil to melt cheese.

Coarsely chop romaine and combine with sliced pickles and halved cherry or grape tomatoes.
Whisk together the mustard and cider vinegar. Stream in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the chopped chives and pimentos, stir to combine

Arrange mini cheeseburgers on salad and drizzle prepared yellow mustard over the completed dish
Posted by Hello