Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monkey Bread, With Whole Wheat Flour & Love

whole wheat monkey bread recipe

It drives me insane when a writer uses an exclamation point in place of a question mark. Everyone should know a sentence no longer makes any sense if it's supposed to have question mark but it instead is finished off with an exclamation point.

It is unnecessary to yell. You're asking a question.

It gets under my skin. I am the wife who went to college for words, the husband told everyone on Facebook after he beat me at Words With Friends for the third time. So, there you have it: The misuse of the exclamation point drives me batty.

It is true I sometimes write in incomplete sentences, though I scold everyone at work for doing it. And I sometimes struggle with when to use a semicolon. (My solution? Avoid the semicolon. Write around it. Do whatever you have to do to get out of using one.)

It also makes me a bit crazy when I've had a regular ol' breakfast, a salad for lunch and (hot!) leftovers for dinner, and I'm left with not a whole lot to blog about. I guess that leaves me no choice but to rewind to Christmas Eve when the husband talked me into making him monkey bread for breakfast.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Hot Meal Courtesy of the Husband

I knew what the husband got me for Christmas. We share a bank account. It can be hard to keep large secrets from one another. So come Christmas Eve I couldn't take it a second longer. About an afternoon of the puppy dog look later, the husband gave in and let me have my new camera. I gave him an iTouch.

The husband and I haven't talked since. Well, not much. Words With Friends doesn't count as talking. 

But I did ask him to make dinner tonight. So after I made him cannoli ...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Freestyle Friday: Cookie Jar Mixes

cookie mixes in jars

*Sometimes there's a little more to my life than food. Friday's the day I'll share, I mean, most Fridays I hope to share those bits with you. We'll cover crafts, music, travel, who knows.

The Christmas countdown is officially on. Only two sleeps until Santa Paws arrives, and I am happy to say we're ready. I know the husband has my presents wrapped and hidden away in the guest closet. (Every night I want a sweatshirt I have to ask him to pick one out for me, since I'm not allowed in there!) And I have the husband's gifts tagged (To: the man of my dreams From: his beautiful wife) and ready to stick under the tree. I'm also happy to report we wrapped and shipped all of the gifts we needed to send to family miles and miles away - some have even received their packages already. (Sorry to those of you who won't be seeing your gifts until after the big day. We tried.)

For those of you who have had your shopping done since Black Friday, I know my accomplishments sound like small potatoes. But I'm feeling quite efficient right about now. So efficient, in fact, that the husband keeps asking what we're going to do tomorrow on our day off. 

We don't have any shopping left to do - thank God. I think tomorrow afternoon sounds like prime time for a good Christmas flick. 

How about you? Are your stockings hung by the chimney with care, or are you still baking Santa's cookies and worrying you've forgotten to get a gift for someone on your list?

If you find yourself in the latter boat, here's a quick and easy way to redeem some of your sanity: cookie mix jars. You most likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry, they take minutes to put together and recipients will love 'em. Seriously, who doesn't love cookies? People you shouldn't be friends with, that's who.

Chocolate chip cookies make just about everyone's holiday happy:
Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar From

I know chocolate and peanut butter always make me happy:
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies in a Jar From Cravings of a Lunatic

Cinnamon and sugar is a nice alternative for those (crazy people) not in love with chocolate:
Snickerdoodle Mix in a Jar From

And for those who want to pretend cookies are healthy, throw in some oatmeal:
Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar From the Comfort of Cooking

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Corn Puddin'

The Muppets have been singing "Ma Na Ma Na" in my head since last night. Yes, the song is getting a bit old now, 24 hours later, but I can't complain. I have the best boss in the whole world. She took my co-workers and I to the movies yesterday as a little Christmas bonus and, grownups that we are, we chose to see the new Muppet movie.

No, my job has nothing to do with the cinema or puppets. My boss is just that cool.

Popcorn and soda for everyone! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

"That-Spice-Is-Nice" Cajun Seasoning

homemade cajun seasoning
Cajun-Spiced Chicken
Snakes in the grass yards and yards away from me make my skin crawl. As soon as it hits 65 degrees in our house, I get chilly and curl up with a blanket. Camel crickets in the bathroom sink send me running in search of the husband so he can "take care of them."

True story: I'm a big girl. 

So the husband wasn't the least bit surprised the other night when after trying half of a spicy saltine my co-worker's husband made I was coughing and drinking almond milk - straight from the carton. (That's how we roll in this house. The rule is if you're the only one who drinks it, do what you want with it.)

I like to think my taste buds are growing up and approaching adolescence. I've moved up from mild to medium when it comes to salsa, and I'm no longer scared of red pepper flakes. I even eat wing sauce. No, I don't eat wings, but that's another story.  

It's unusual, though, for the husband and I to agree on liking an item's spiciness. I think it's too hot; he thinks it's wimpy. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homemade Peppermint Patties

how to make homemade peppermint patties

It was all my grandma's idea. When my momma was dating Da in high school, my grandma started putting Fig Newtons in the freezer. She did it so all of my aunts' boyfriends - and Da - would keep their mits out of the cookies. Mama was sure the freezer would be the perfect deterrent. 

Little did she know she was starting a family tradition.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Freestyle Friday: How to Make a Fleece Knot Blanket

how to make a fleece blanket

*Sometimes there's a little more to my life than food. Friday's the day I'll share, I mean, most Fridays I hope to share those bits with you. We'll cover crafts, music, travel, who knows.

Many of my Christmases growing up included a "Mom present." Since you, unless you're Big Little Brother, didn't grow up in my house, you have no idea what a "Mom present" is. I'll explain. A one-of-a-kind present from Momma is a gift bag filled with material and pins. 

Whenever I got one of these presents Christmas morning I'd ooh and aaaah over the fabric and then Momma would have to explain what she was making. 

I got used to receiving these presents and often came to expect them. There's something about a little something homemade that makes Christmas that much more special, if you ask me. It doesn't matter if it's pajama pants, a scarf or a new nightgown. If it's homemade, I'm a fan.

So with hopes of spreading this homemade cheer a bit further this Christmas, I decided to make one little girl in our life a fleece blanket. It was super simple, and I like to think this present will mean a little more to her knowing it came to her with love - and at least one solid hour of me not thinking of anything but her.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Egg-in-a-Hole Breakfast

egg in a hole recipe

Staying in bed until after the husband gets out of the shower, putting on my p.j. pants and the tan wool sweater Momma made me that I pair with just about everything, drinking coffee with my glasses on and cooking the husband breakfast makes for a good morning. 

That's not at all what I did this morning, but it's exactly what I did last Friday when I burned up my last PTO day of the year. I woke up slowly and played a little Words With Friends without feeling like I should be packing lunches instead. 

I did what I wanted. 

But the best part of all? Making sure the husband started his day off right, even if it meant flipping him up a breakfast that made him lift his eyebrows. His look said it all.

Egg-in-a-what are you going to make me eat?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sometimes You Just Need a Cookie

Let's be honest: Oreos aren't that great for you. They're filled with sugar, fat and Lord knows what when it comes to preservatives. 

But they're sweet, chocolatey, crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside and, when covered in white chocolate, just about one of my favorite things on the planet.

I prided myself on not buying these white chocolate-covered devils the last two holiday seasons. Sure, I'd seen them in the stores, but I'd resisted temptation and left 'em on the shelf. Three years, though? I'd reached my limit.

This year I told the husband I wanted to give in and - even though I knew I didn't need Oreos after dinner in a tall glass of almond milk - I was going to buy those Oreos and eat them during the month of December.

One box. I just wanted one box. I promised I'd make them last.

So I started looking for my much-loved Oreos with full intentions of making a purchase. I looked at our local grocery store. I looked at Walmarts (and I meant the plural because I looked at more than one!). I looked at convenience stores.

No luck.

But not a whole lot went the way I planned today, and I needed something good for me - not necessarily in a fruit and vegetables kind of way, either. The husband feels like he's coming down with something and didn't want dinner tonight. And when he doesn't want dinner, I'm not always that motivated to cook for myself. 

In the midst of my guess-I'll-go-eat-worms mood, I told the husband I just wanted to eat cookies for dinner.

"Oh, yeah," he said, reaching into his lunchbox. "I brought these home for you."

The man answered my prayers. His boss' nanny recently made white chocolate-covered Oreos - and the husband brought two home for me!

So, yeah, I'm sure Oreos are even worse for you if you eat them for dinner, instead of making yourself some baked fish and green beans. But they were soooo good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nuts if You Think We're Giving These Away

savory mixed nuts

After making two batches of Dark Chocolate Bark - one batch for my co-workers and another for the husband's co-workers - I figured it was time for something a bit more savory. Sweet treats are great, but I think it's nice to hand out a little something now and then that isn't going to induce cavities and spike everyone's blood sugar. 

I went back and forth debating what I should make once I cleaned up the bark mess. Visions of bread and not-too-sweet oatmeal cookies danced in my head.

But I kept coming back to nuts.

I've just had nuts on the brain lately. I spent years not eating nuts; I'm not sure why. I don't remember ever thinking they were gross. I think I just never tried them, so I never knew how absolutely amazing they are. And now? Love. Almost. All. Of. 'Em. I've been eating them in yogurt, in my hand, whatever. 

And the abundance of nuts in our pantry wasn't helping. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Minty Coffee-Infused Protein Shake

Camera phone = bad photos
My good friend, truth be told best friend from grad school, A, and I took our capstone lunch breaks on the lawn of our very expensive private college. There was a serious heat wave (at least for the Northeast) that summer, and we'd sit under the biggest tree we could find, even if it meant fighting off tent caterpillars the enter hour we were out there. (If you don't know about tent caterpillars, you aren't missing much; I will spare you the details.)

We ate light lunches we packed from home: turkey sandwiches, fruit, caffeine, simple stuff. Sometimes A would crack me up and bring just a 99-cent bag of chips and a coke. She'd often finish her "meal" by telling me: "Alright. I'm going to turn the bag up now."

That was her way of saying her flavored corn chips were so dang good she was going to tilt her had back and get every last crumb she could.

I miss those special moments, A.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh, Suga, Suga Cookies

easy sugar cookie recipe

Three years ago tonight was a Saturday. I remember it all quite well. We had gone to the mall that afternoon, done some Christmas shopping, went out to lunch at one of our favorite pubs and then returned home to settle in for the evening.

We lived in a small yellow house then. We rented. Our kitchen housed our stove, fridge, washer and dryer. We shared the fence in our backyard with neighbors on both sides. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Easy, Easy Turkey Taco Burgers

turkey taco burger recipe

The husband and I are going on a week now of battling colds in our house. Actually, he went and got himself an ear infection; I just have the usual lovely early winter cold symptoms. Everyone at work seems to have them, too. It's awesome.

So the husband and I did some grocery shopping yesterday, but that was about it. Today was reserved for Christmas tree decorating - and then napping. 

It was a simple day that called for a simple dinner that didn't require much work on either of our parts.

Friday, December 2, 2011

*Freestyle Friday: Fooducate App

*Sometimes there's a little more to my life than food. Friday's the day I'll share, I mean, most Fridays I hope to share those bits with you. We'll cover crafts, music, travel, who knows.

I took nutrition 101 my freshman year of college. It was painful. My teacher barely spoke English, I don't think she wanted to be teaching and most of us struggled through the semester. I passed, but all I can remember from the class is the teacher making us keep a food diary for a week. Good luck calculating calories at an all-you-can-eat college dining hall. 

When I look back on the class, I wish I'd learned whole lot more. I wish I'd learned more about nutrition labels, the importance of percent daily values, how much sodium is too much sodium, how to calculate a food's glycemic index. I could go on and on.

Luckily for the husband, though unfortunate for me, I have yet to learn all I want to learn about diet, nutrition, and all that encompasses food and our health. I can just see him rolling his eyes imagining how long I'd take at the grocery store if I knew all I want to know about the food we're buying. 

Unfortunately for the husband, I just downloaded the Fooducate app. Perhaps I didn't need a better nutrition teacher after all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein Balls

chocolate protein balls

Happy end of fall, y'all! I know, I know, we have another 21 days until the first day of winter, but this is my most favorite time of year. I can now wear turtleneck sweaters and socks with snowflakes on them without feeling silly. The husband will let me listen to Christmas music (so long as I choose a Pandora station he doesn't mind, like Trans Siberian Orchestra). And spending afternoons in my craft room making gifts for our friends and family - or trolling the Internet for ideas for gifts I can make - is totally acceptable.

Oh the things I could do with unlimited funds for those Saturday morning runs to the hobby store. 

But funds aren't unlimited, and sometimes that means pinching a few pennies now and then so we can spend all the money we want on flat-rate boxes (so we can send my homemade goods north!). 

Perhaps that's why the husband and I have yet to go grocery shopping, even though we're down to one rotten banana on the counter, string cheese in the fridge and nothing but frozen fish in the freezer. 

Thank God for peanut butter.


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