serendipitous reflections

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Favorite content

What is your favorite content on our blog? Do you prefer the stories, the references to things of interest like articles or other websites, the pictures, the recipes or something else? We're just curious... Thanks for your comments.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Did a deep hole

Remember being a kid and thinking, "If we dig all the straight down through the earth we'll end up in China." Well, thanks to Google Maps and someone being creative, we can now see exactly where you would end up if you dug straight down. From Columbia, SC, we would end up in the Indian Ocean, pretty much due west of Perth, Australia. Find out where you'd be here. This is one of the many "mashups" with Google Maps discussed in a recent NPR interview.

Also, I thought this one from the USA Track & Field website was really cool. It's a jogging distance map, but I could see so many other applications of this one, like an easy way of figuring distance and routes.

Finally, this one looks like a work in progress, but highly valuable for the college student ... beermapping.com.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another amazing video

Doug has been posting a lot lately so someone who doesn't read him frequently probably would have missed this one. But this video is truly amazing and this lady is incredibly talented. I can only imagine how much work and practice this took. This is worth the four minutes to watch...

Jane in Progress

I was hunting Google News for info on Jake in Progress, hoping it didn't suffer the same fate as it's timeslot neighbor Emily's Reasons Why Not (apparently, ABC found a reason why not to air it anymore) and I stumbled across a blog of one of the writers of Jake in Progress. Despite unintentionally inferring that Jake in Progress had been cancelled, she clarified herself, explaining that ABC is looking for a timeslot. Watch this show once it's back on. (The blog is kind of interesting, too ... if nothing else, she lists what she had for lunch each day, and since I'm getting hungry, this caught my attention.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Patient's child

We had a patient come in with his four-year-old son. His son was snacking on some Ritz bits and I asked him what he was eating. He explained, "I can't talk on account of the fact that I have food in my mouth." Later, he asked one of the ladies who works in the office if he could see her ears and reprimanded her for not wearing earrings (a request from his last visit). She said, "Next Wednesday, I'll wear earrings," and he gave her the "Good!" response to let her know that he was pleased with that. He's one of these inquisitive children ... looks like a little Harry Potter ... you just never know what he's going to come up with next.

Narnia Rap Battle

Have you seen the Narnia Rap Battle yet? I guess this is what you do in Hollywood when you're bored and you've got two free days. Pretty funny stuff.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Shrimp Sate with Pineapple Salsa

Just before New Years, I did another cooking day with Bill and Barbara's kids. We decided to do all appetizers. It was a lot of fun and all the food turned out awesome.

I just loved this recipe. It was very simple and full of big flavor. The pineapple salsa is perfect just by itself.

A couple of things that I did differently from the recipe:
1. I did use canned pineapple chucks mainly to save time. If you use canned make sure to drain the pineapple.
2. Also I let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before I grilled them.

Shrimp Sate with Pineapple Salsa
(Cooking Light magazine)

3/4 C finely chopped pineapple
1/4 C finely chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 wooden skewers (6")

To prepare salsa, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.

To prepare sate, combine mint, juice, salt, and chili powder in a large bowl; add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer. Place shrimp on a preheated grill (coated with cooking spray); grill 1-2 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink. Serve with salsa. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Yields 4 servings (2 skewers and 1/2 C salsa)
Calories 208; fat 3g; protein 34.9g; carbs 8.7 g

Posted by Picasa


Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce

I am always on the lookout for a good chicken sate with peanut sauce recipe, and this one is pretty good. The peanut sauce had a nice little kick with crushed red pepper, and the sate had a good sweet and spicy taste.

My changes:
I used freshly grated ginger instead of bottled ground fresh ginger.
I also let the chicken marinate for about 30 minutes before grilling instead of 10 minutes.

If you don't have a grill, you can broil these instead. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil eight to 10 minutes, turning once.

Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce
(Cooking Light magazine)

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 8 strips (or 8 chicken tenders)
1 Tbl light brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbl low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
1 tsp grated lime rind
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbl light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbl low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbl fresh lime juice
2 Tbl natural-style, reduced fat creamy peanut butter (such as Smucker's) (I just used what I had in the cabinet--Jiff)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray
8 wooden skewers

To prepare sate, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, red pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl; add chicken. Let stand 10 minutes.

To prepart sauce, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, peanut butter, red pepper and garlic in a medium bowl; stir until sugar is dissolved.

Thread chicken onto wooden skewers. Place chicken on a preheated grill coated with cooking spray; grill 5-7 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Serve chicken with sauce.

Yields 4 servings (2 skewers and 1 Tbl sauce)
Calories 205; fat 4.5g; protein 29.3g; carb 11.2g
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Sage Sausage Bites with Balsamic Apricot Dipping Sauce

Well my girl, Rachael Ray, came through again. These were such a hit at the dinner, there weren't any left to bring home. The dipping sauce is fabulous!

The only change I made to this recipe was to add the bread crumbs in to the meat and then formed the balls instead of rolling them in the bread crumbs.

Sage Sausage Bites with Balsamic Apricot Dip
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon evoo -- extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/4 pounds bulk Italian sweet sausage meat
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, 4 or 5 sprigs, slivered
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, eyeball it
1 cup apricot all-fruit spread or, apricot preserves
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1 cup Italian bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls

Preheat a small pot over medium heat and the oven to 425 degrees F.

To the pot, add oil and onion. Saute the onion for 1 minute.

In a mixing bowl, combine sweet sausage and chopped sage.

Next, add balsamic vinegar to onion and reduce by half, 1 minute. Remove vinegar from heat and combine with apricot all-fruit spread or preserves and spicy mustard. Stir until mustard is fully incorporated. Dip will be glossy and brown in color.

Add 2 tablespoonfuls of apricot dip to bulk sausage and mix. Form meat into bite size nuggets, coat in bread crumbs then place on nonstick cookie sheet. Recipe will make 20 to 24 pieces.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes, until evenly browned, turning occasionally. Drain, then serve with party picks for dipping with remaining balsamic apricot mustard dip.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
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Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard

These are some of my favorite chicken nuggets. I have made these several times because they are so easy and so yummy.

The changes:
1. I used barbecue flavored chips on these because the kids didn't like sour cream and onion.
2. I bake them in a cast iron grill pan, but a cookie sheet will work also.
3. I used about 3 cups of chips when I made mine. Also don't completely crush the chips. They are best if the chips still have some shape to them. And if you are having trouble getting the chips to stick to the chicken, I would sort "crush" the chips into the chicken by putting some chips in my hand and then the chicken piece and squeeze it.

Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

2 cups crushed sour-cream-and-onion-flavored potato chips
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
6 chicken breast fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup butter, melted
Honey Mustard, recipe follows or store bought

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the crushed potato chips in a shallow dish. Beat together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the chicken cubes into the egg mixture and then dredge them in the chips. Place the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. The chicken nuggets can be frozen after baking. Serve with your favorite sauce, such as honey mustard or ranch dressing.

Honey Mustard:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice from 1/2 lemon
Horseradish, to taste
2 tablespoons orange juice (more or less as needed)

Combine all ingredients except orange juice; stir well. Thin to pouring consistency for dressing or dipping consistency for dips with orange juice. Cover and chill for 2 or 3 hours.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

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Coconut Snowmen

For dessert, we made these little coconut snowmen. They were very cute, but you have be ready to get your hands cold. The crucial step is to get them into the freezer fast.

We did do a few things differently:
1. Some of the kids didn't like coconut, so we rolled the ice cream in pecans or mini chocolate chips.
2. Obviously we didn't make the marzipan noses, we just used mini chocolate chips for the face and buttons. (The kids didn't like licorice either.) And we couldn't find chocolate wafers, so our hats didn't have brims. (oh well)
3. We also made a chocolate sauce to set the snowmen in. This added an extra layer of sugary goodness, but next time I would just buy some hot fudge.
4. The best tip I can give you is to use a wooden skewer to secure the ice cream balls. We put a skewer in the middle of the large ice cream ball and built up from there.

Overall everything turned out really good and the kids really enjoyed themselves.

The cool thing about this recipe is I have had it for 5 years in my binder of Martha recipes and have wanted to make it. Martha had Susan Lucci and her daughter Liza Huber, on her show, and they had tried to make the snowmen once, and it didn't go very well. Martha showed them how to make them, which in turn made me want to make them. So there you have it....

Coconut Snowmen
(makes 4 snowmen)

2 1/2 pints best-quality vanilla ice cream
2 seven-ounce packages coconut
Orange food coloring
1 tablespoon marzipan (1/4 ounce)
40 Sen Sen licorice candies
4 marshmallows
4 chocolate wafers
Sifted confectioners’ sugar

1. Line a baking pan that fits in your freezer with parchment paper. Scoop the vanilla ice cream, rounding scoops as much as possible, until you have 4 of each size, and place on the prepared baking pan. Place the pan in the freezer to harden for 15 minutes.

2. Remove the ice cream from the freezer, and roll in coconut. Return to pan, then return the pan to the freezer. Add orange food coloring to marzipan until carrot color is attained. Shape marzipan into small carrot shapes, using a paring knife to make ridges. Remove 1 small scoop of ice cream at a time from the freezer, and make faces using Sen Sen for eyes and mouth and marzipan carrots for the nose. Return to freezer until ready to serve.

3. Remove middle-size scoops from the freezer one at a time; place Sen Sen in a row down the front to create buttons. Remove remaining scoops from freezer, and stack to create snowmen, pressing slightly to adhere. Return snowmen to freezer.

4. Make the top hats by roasting marshmallows on skewers over a gas burner. Alternatively, place marshmallows on a baking sheet under the broiler, and cook until browned, rotating every few seconds. Place the toasted marshmallow on the chocolate wafer, and dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar. Place the hat on the snowmen just before serving.

Note: To make these snowmen, you will need three ice-cream scoops in varied sizes. Shoestring licorice cut into small pieces can also be used for the buttons, eyes, and mouth. This recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living (December 2000).

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Saturday, January 21, 2006


Jeni's going to have to start posting more stuff because even I'm bored reading the crap I put up here! Our friend Kelli was in last week, which kept Jeni away, but she'll be sharing more fun stuff soon. By the way, did everyone see the new pictures Nikki put up over on her blog? Morgan just had a big slumber party (10 years! Can you believe it?) and new hair sytle. Over on Cathy's blog, she had a very amusing post about their missing telephone. The three-year-old knew exactly where it was. And I really enjoyed Doug's encounter with Noah and the "string with a hole in it."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mash mixups

I stumbled across this website with "mashed" songs, merging two songs together for a new sound. I listened to "Paperback Believer," a blend of the Monkees Daydream Believer and the Beatles Paperback Writer. Very interesting. Or how about "Papa was a Clock" ... The Temptations' Papa was a Rolling Stone laid over the music to Coldplay's Clocks -- very good. And maybe it's my musical bias, but the Wrapped Detective song with Elvis Costello, The Police, Lionel Ritchie, Peggy Lee, Bob Marley, The Hollies and Led Zeppelin was the best.

Want interesting... check out YMCK, a Japanese band who develops their music based on the classic video game sound. Unique, but nothing I could listen to twice.

[I can't wait until my patient load picks back up and I stop finding weird crap online while at work...]

24: Jack's arrested

We were watching Monday's two-hour 24 last night and after the terrorists were handled and CTU met up with Jack, Jeni turned to me and said, "How long before they arrest Jack?" You know, he's the only eye witness who can identify the sleeper among the hostages so what do they do? Detain Jack and send him back to CTU headquarters, less than five minutes after Jeni posed the question.

This season has started off with a bang, but if it ends up like season four when every time Jack got close to catching the bad guys CTU arrested him or interfered with him over "protocol" this is going to quickly become very frustrating.

I still love the show, but lets keep the action up and the bureaucracy down.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

24: Jack's back!

We're so happy to have 24 back, even if they killed off one of my favorite characters in the first 10 minutes.

We were watching the premiere on Sunday night and, since the football game ran a few minutes late and we were coming in from dinner with Lisa and Brian, we were able to just catch the very beginning. But also, because the football game ran late, it was going to overlap the local news. Well, I guess no one told the local news that the game ran late, so 24 went to commercial as the suspense was building, then the commercial break ends and our local FOX news starts. So I'm thinking, OK, a little news brief since the show ran late, then back to 24. Nope ... they cut the final 15 minutes of the show. Oh you can imagine the outrage across Columbia. I called that next morning (OK, that night I wrote a hotly worded email, too) and the receptionist had that tone like the boss had just yelled at everyone from the news director to the cleaning staff. They ended up re-showing the second hour that had been interrupted, and thankfully so because a lot happened in that final few minutes.

Because of the Golden Globes Monday night, we taped the third and fourth hours and will watch that tonight. It's good to have Jack back!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Priceless video

Doug posted this video of our niece Amy on his new blog. It is priceless! I laughed so hard that I had to share it with everyone. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy Birthday Chris!!

Today is my brother's birthday. He's the big 3-8. Only two more years Christopher!!

This picture was taken several years ago in Bonita Springs, FL when we were all down there for Thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Iraq update

A while back, we had told everyone of the horrible accident our friend Hannah's brother was in over in Iraq. He had been shipped quickly to Walter-Reed Hospital and had undergone several surgeries to save his leg, among other numerous injuries. Well, the leg was hit-or-miss for a while, and Nathan had resolved himself with the fact that he would lose it, but things are looking up. He was able to fly home to Kentucky to spend Christmas with the family and will be returning to Walter-Reed at the end of January. So that's really good news.

On a more distressing side of things, one of the ladies I work with just found out her husband is being shipped out to Iraq at the end of the month to work in a military hospital. He is career military and looking to retire in the next three years, but they had been in one spot too long for the military's likes, so they needed to send him somewhere. I just can't wait until all that mess is over.

My brother's blog

For everyone who either read my brother's old blog, or were wondering what was going to happen with the drama of Blogger deleting his account ... well, apparently nothing on the Blogger side, but he does have a new blog now (and I've updated the link on the side) so if you enjoyed his freeform stream of conscious posting -- He's Back!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Evan loved his Hot Wheels slippers we gave him for Christmas. (You can even look under the hood to check out the engine.) One of the coolest toys we bought this year were the Shake and GO race cars. Santa gave Evan the track for Christmas and we gave him two extra cars. If you need a present for a young boy, I highly recommend these cars. We also gave him Nascar underwear. (The boy is from Georgia!) Posted by Picasa

Pretty in Pink

Morgan isn't quite 10 years old, but she is really turning into quite a beautiful young lady. And she can really accessorize an outfit. She is her mother's daughter!! (and she finally likes pink!) Posted by Picasa


Tiff came down from Big Canoe to join us in ringing in the New Year. We always have a good time...good food, good wine/beer, and good laughs. BA-HA! Posted by Picasa

When they're tired, they will drop just about anywhere

Well this is how Evan rang in the New Year. I just couldn't believe he would fall asleep like that, but he did. He's such a sweet baby. Posted by Picasa

Do you need help little man??

This is Evan no so pleased with any of us. Evan came down to visit around 3:30am, and was hiding under one the bar stools ever so quitely. All of a sudden I see him under the stool, and he was so out of place, I said "What, what is that?" Then all I could think about was that Scare Tactics video with the Rat man, I say "Do you need help little man?" Well Nikki just about fell out of her chair. And then we all couldn't stop laughing. God love his little heart. (I'm sure I'll be putting some money into his therapy fund when he gets older.) Posted by Picasa

Raspberry-Balsamic Chicken with Shallots

About a month ago, we had Dr. Jones and Barbara over for a birthday dinner for Barbara. I made this chicken dinner. It was so tasty and so super simple, and really not too bad for you (296 calories, and 4 g fat)

Raspberry-Balsamic Chicken with Shallots
(Eating Well April/May 2005)

3/4 C seedless all-fruit raspberry jam
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 4-5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme

Combine jam and vinegar in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the jam is dissolved, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup of sauce. Place chicken breasts and the rest of the sauce in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal and shake gently to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and thyme and cook, stirring, often until shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Remove chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). Add chicken to the pan and cook until just beginning to brown, 2 minutes on each side. Add the reserved raspberry sauce; stir to melt the jam and coat the chicken. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, 6 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Explain this one...

I was listening to the local news on the radio on my way to work and I heard this little piece about legislation to make it illegal to reveal the identity of someone who calls Crimestoppers. OK, that makes sense. But they also included immunity to officials who accidentally reveal a caller's identity. Well, who other that an official should know this identity. And if it is revealed, why won't they just say, "Ooops... that was an accident." Silly lawmakers.

A weekend at home?

Looks like we're actually going to have a weekend at home. I'm not quite sure what that will be like after a month on the road (Knoxville, Jackson, Atlanta). We hope to be able to meet with some home builders and maybe get some encouraging news about possible houses! We've got a few we're interested in, so keep your fingers crossed for us. We'll be posting some New Year's pictures soon...