Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Some Things You Need To Know About Why I'll Never Be Mistaken for Mrs. Fields

If you were driving by my house last night, you totally suck because you didn't stop by and say hi  you may have seen me cleaning out a can of condensed milk.  Perhaps I should be embarrassed by the fact that I was standing in front of my kitchen window licking the sweet nectar of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk directly out of the can (ok, I was actually licking it off a spatula, under the guise of cleaning it out to put in the recycling bin).  But I am not.  I may be embarrassed when none of my clothes fit in a few days from extra poundage, but not of those few minutes of my public display of affection for my culinary crack...
Hello Lover

This is my new Wilton Cookie Imprint Cookie Sheet.

I am underwhelmed by it.  It doesn't produce cookies as much as it does muffins.  If  needed cute muffins, I'd be really happy with this cookie sheet.  But, alas, I need cute cookies. Lots and lots of them.  This pan was a total fail in that area.

Sometimes, when recipes call for dough to be chilled for two hours, what it really means put it in a freezer for 18 days.  Apparently, chilling dough in the fridge for 48 hours isn't enough.  And then you end up with a crazy mess like this...

OK, I admit, this carnage probably would have happened to some extent even without dough that pretended to be super glue, adhering itself to the counter, my hands, my clothes.  Initially, I was going to make 20 dozen cookies.  All for a good cause (every year all the young, unaccompanied airmen on base get a dozen cookies.  It's to help them have a happier holiday- can you imagine being as young as 18 and being so far from home during the holidays??).  Then the non-stop cheesefest, AKA Hallmark Channel Christmas movies life got in the way and I got realistic and cut that number in half.  The cookies started coming out of the oven looking like this...

There must be some law of physics explaining why the sprinkles don't disperse evenly when baking although the dough was rolled and covered in its entirety prior to baking.

These cookies are sugar cookies, yet they are the color of gingersnaps.

Can you guess what those shapes are?  Who knew that the Hunchback of Notre Dame and a fat Snork were somehow Christmas related?

All I know is, I muddled through it...

After producing racks and racks of cookies, I hope that this is one of those times where it's the thought that counts more than looks.  And as a reward to myself, I finished up the evening with my favorite Christmas time snack, a Hello Dolly and a glass of milk.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas, It's In the Cards

How is it already December?  It seems like only yesterday there were 35 people at our house feasting on turkey and dressing and celebrating Thanksgiving.

Of course since we are in day 336 of summer here, there is absolutely nothing climatic to indicate that Christmas will be here in just a little over three weeks.  Good thing there is the un-decorated tree in the corner, the ever-growing list of presents to purchase and ship, the 20 dozen cookies that must be baked before Tuesday to remind me that December 25 will be here before I know it.  But this year, unlike last year, I'm already feeling Christmas-y.  It could be because our calendar is filling up with all kinds of Christmas activities, or maybe because even though our house isn't decorated yet, everyone else's is.  But probably, the reason I am more into Christmas this year is because of the little guy.  Any time he sees anything Christmas related he says, "Merry Christmas."  In the candy aisle, it's "Merry Christmas candy,"  it's not just a Christmas tree, but a "Merry Christmas tree."  He walks around singing Jingle Bell Rock.  And to prove that he really does listen to me, he also talks about Jesus.  In his mind and vocabulary (as I hope it always stays) Jesus is synonymous with Christmas, the latter is rarely mentioned without the former.

I really hope that I am able to capture P's excitement of the season.  He doesn't need the weather to be colder to be excited.  He can tell that it is a magical season.  I want to share this first year of understanding Christmas with our family and friends.  One of the ways I know I can do this is by sending out Christmas cards (ok, who am I kidding, we all know that IF they even get sent they will probably be more like New Years or Mardi Gras cards).  But thanks to Shutterfly, no matter when I get a picture or get ready to send out my cards, I will have so many great options to choose from.  They're actually being awesome and giving me 50 free cards for this post, but I'd give them props without the freebies!

Last year, I made calendars for several family members.  I know it was my mom's favorite gift and she has hinted no less than 1 million times that she wants one this year.  What I love about Shutterfly is how easy it is to use!  I made at least 5 calendars last year and each one was tailored to the person receiving it.  I was able to finish all 5 in one night and they were all delivered in time for Christmas.  I also sent some things to Don when he was deployed and one of the items didn't arrive, I contacted Shutterfly and they sent a replacement immediately, at no cost.  They also usually have great specials.  Right now, you can get free shipping on certain orders.

The only thing I don't like- there are too many great cards to select from!!!

I can't decide if I want to do a card that features the three of us.

Or if I prefer to just put Price by himself, after all we all know he's what everyone wants to see.

Do we rub it in acknowledge that we live on a tropical island and will probably hit the beach several times this month?

But no matter which one we go with, it may actually get sent before Mardi Gras.  Because Shutterfly will even stamp and mail the cards for me.  With that kind of service, I may not even ask for a Christmas present.

Full Disclosure Time:  I am being compensated by Shutterfly for writing this post.  I get 50 free cards for sharing my opinion about Shutterfly.  I have not been asked to write anything positive, but to share my opinion of Shutterfly and any past experiences that I've had.  If you're a blogger and want to get 50 free cards from Shutterfly, follow this link

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Totally Random

1.  Today, it rained.  Really, really hard.  But, I was on a quest for pumpkin and I would not let thunder, lightning or torrents of water from above or rushing through a parking lot deter me.  And I am now the proud new owner of 6 large cans of pumpkin.  And a new pair of jeans.  Because the ones I had on when I went to get the pumpkin got so wet, I couldn't walk around the store without sloshing water everywhere.

2.  I have never lived in a place where people loved to stand on the street and yell about things as much as they do here.  During campaign season, huge gaggles of supporters of various campaigns would line the main roads waving and shouting their support to passersby.  Last week, folks were out in force thanking veterans. Today was my favorite.  Today, I got to drive through the "Save the Shark" roadside rally.  Hundreds (or maybe tens) of people were lining the road drawing awareness to the plight of the shark and their allegedly tasteful fins.  If I were the type of blogger to use this forum as a soap box, this is when I would tell you that CBS says 73 MILLION sharks are killed each year to meet the demand for shark fin soup and that is leading several species of sharks towards extinction.  But since I'm not that type of blogger, I will just move on and tell you that it's when I'm driving down the main drag and see people standing shoulder to shoulder with someone dressed up like a shark and holding up signs that say, "cut class, not fins" are the times I really love this place.

3.  Other times I love this place are the times when I go to The Kmart and on my way out witness a fight breaking out.  Adults getting into a screaming match, while even more adults surround them to witness the action. I'm just not used to seeing fights break out anywhere other than hockey arenas or other sporting venues.

4.  I have FINALLY (at least for the past week) gotten to a good place with keeping peace housekeeping. About 6 months ago, I tried to get on track by following the Fly Lady. All I got out of that was a really clean sink.  But something seems to have clicked with me, and hopefully will stick with me.  I realized that if I stay on top of things, I don't get overwhelmed and it's much easier to spend about an hour everyday doing dishes, tidying up rooms, doing a load or two of laundry and concentrating on cleaning one room than it is to spend multiple hours during the weekend trying to make up for everything I let slip during the week.  I know this is probably pretty elementary to many of you and possibly hive inducing for several of you.  But what a difference a straight house can have on a marriage... if nothing else it (hopefully) eliminates any visions of me sitting at home eating bon-bons from Don's brain.

5.  Isn't he cute?

He's cute about 99% of the time, whether he's using his own vocabulary (Bear Poo= Pooh (as in Winnie the) Bear, Mr. Wheats Cereal= Frosted Mini Wheats, bacoose= caboose, coyboy boots= cowboy boots), crying for five seconds and then stopping to tell me what he's crying about, "cry go playground (even if it's nine o'clock at night and monsooning this kid wants to go to the playground), just playing in his room or saying his nightly prayers, even when God blessing all of his trains takes precedence over blessing any living, breathing member of his family- he's a cute kid.  Except for when he turns into the Poo Poo Picasso (PPP), like he has TWICE this week!!  We've overcome this problem at night by duct taping him into his pajamas, so PPP usually strikes at naptime when we forget to dress him in five layers of clothes.  I am soooo over this stage.  And sick of cleaning up his crap.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Homecoming

I am happy to be back in Guam.  No, really, I am.  I am just not happy about the fact that it seems like all the boonie bees on the island have taken up residence around my house, which causes me to go on mad bee (don't worry they're really just very aggressive wasps) killing rampages.  For which I am then required to shoot large streams of toxic poison into the environment.  Only after my displays of violence do I get the pleasure of watching them drop dead from the hive, one by one.

I'm also happy to be back because the beach is at my beck and call.  And while I love to be surrounded by water when swimming in the ocean, I don't love it so much when it is dripping out of my cabinets.  I guess I should be (and when I think about it and don't need it as fodder for my blog, I truly am) happy that our typhoon water supply didn't start leaking until some recent day since we returned home.  But it sure was a delight this morning (in the midst of throwing away a freezer full of spoiled food, thanks to the compressor going out of the fridge) to walk into a raining laundry room.

The Culprits
Since this has happened on more than one occasion, I have decided to change our typhoon supply over to the more hardy bottles pictured below.
I wonder if three cases of beer is enough to last the recommended 7 days?
And as happy as I am to have funny stories to tell of all the creepy creatures that inhabit this island, I didn't miss how they just kind of jump out at you from no where.  They really do a good job of scaring the crud out of me.  Today alone, I have startled myself and a little gecko who had taken up residence in my umbrella.  And then there's this little guy,
He thinks it's fun to hop out from just about any place I am about to put my foot down.  Night or day, on the porch or in the yard.  He has given me no less than 4 heart attacks.  Especially last night, when I thought he was going to move into the house.

And finally, while I was completely overwhelmed by all of the grocery selections that I had back in the states, I didn't miss having to go all Laura Ingalls Wilder living in a Little House on the Prairie (or in my case a little cinder block box on an island) and feeling the need to buy a 25 pound sack of flour (even though I have no where to store it). I have lots of baking to do over the next month and a half and the commissary ran out of flour last year.  That may also explain the 6 boxes of butter in my refrigerator (according to Don, safe from having to be thrown out with the spoiled milk and eggs) and my never-ending quest to find some pumpkin.
Mommy flour and her baby
 But really, I am happy to be home.  We've returned in time to be greeted by pleasant trade winds, beautiful rainbows and a full calendar.  I've actually made some MAJOR progress on one of my goals, I'll share that with you soon.  But now, because all unexpected messes come in threes I have to go clean up after the Poo Poo Picasso (something else that I didn't miss while I was away, I guess it's back to duct taping).

Monday, November 8, 2010

More To Come

Hi!  We're back in Guam.  We've been back for a week now.  I finally made it to the beach today.  Jet lag seems to be gone, procrastination has taken its place.  I've promised myself that with the new month (that is now on it's 8th day) I will be: better about blogging, better about staying healthy, better at keeping the house clean and straight.  So far, I am 0 for 3.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi, let you know I'm still here..  If nothing else, Price has started saying all kinds of funny things, and don't think I'm above being one of those moms that doesn't feel the need to share.


Friday, September 24, 2010

There's a Recipe In Here Somewhere

I should totally be packing right now, taking advantage of a sleeping child so I can throw some stuff in a suitcase before we head out for a weekend excursion.  Of course, I hate packing and will do pretty much anything to avoid it, so instead I'm blogging.  Hoping that all of our stuff will Mary Poppins itself right into the appropriate bag at the appropriate time...  a girl can dream can't she?

We have really been having a good time here.  It's funny how being in Guam for only a year  (it seems like such a short time right now, but when I'm "in it" seems like forever), has already changed me.  I unknowingly have really adapted to the slow, less is mostly enough except when I want something and can't find it immediately lifestyle we are experiencing over there.  I am constantly amazed at how much stuff there is here.  And I wonder, after living in Guam, is it really ALL necessary?  Don't get me wrong, I won't ever NOT love Target, but it's interesting how much you take for granted when you are surrounded by everything you could possibly need and want 24/7 and not have to go too much out of your way to get it.  I'm sure when I get back to Guam, I'll be longing for these days, pinching myself for not buying something so trivial I couldn't imagine flying it back, only to "desperately" need it and not able to find it on the island.

In our almost two weeks of being here, Price has learned to say, "Target. Yay!," "cowboy boots," "doggie door," and a whole bunch of other terms.  He is having the best time being spoiled by grandparents, escaping from the house through the doggie door, going to the Children's Museum, playing on the farm, eating more hot dogs than a person could ever want, just being an active two year old.

Mom wanted to show him off to all of her neighbors who have to hear about us all of the time, so she came to me last Friday and said, "Terrell, I would like to throw an impromptu brunch TOMORROW for a few friends."  I kindly replied, "Ok Mom, whatever you'd like to do is fine.  Let me know what you need me to do."

It was then that I realized a few friends was about 50 people she's ever spoken to about Price of her closest neighbors, and by "throw a brunch" she meant, "I'm going to do all the inviting and you're going to do all the cooking."  Ahhh, mothers, you gotta love them.  Anyway, I really didn't mind cooking, especially since I made my favorite breakfast casserole and I've been wanting to share the recipe with you.

I have been making this super simple, make ahead casserole for about 10 years.  It is one of my favorites, every time I make it, people ask for the recipe.  It's perfect for Christmas morning, or any other occasion when you want something hearty and filling that doesn't require any effort on the day of serving.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Southern Living Breakfast Casserole.

For this recipe you will need:

1 lb ground pork sausage, browned and drained (I always use a combo of half regular, half spicy sausage.)

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups milk (or if you're feeling a little frisky or like you need to up your fat intake, take a walk on the wild side and do a cup of milk and a cup of cream)

6 eggs, lightly beaten

10 slices of the least expensive white bread you can buy

Plus salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. dry ground mustard.

Brown and drain sausage.  While cooking sausage, lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  Cube (by cube, I mean tear into quarters, it doesn't need to be pretty) 10 pieces of bread and line bottom of pan.

Layer with cheese, then cooked sausage.  Be sure to cover bread evenly.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, add milk,  mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, stir until combined.  Pour over sausage.  Be sure to coat evenly. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight.

Take out of refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until eggs are set.

The bread soaks up all the milk and eggs to form a custard, it's like a savory bread pudding.  You can thank me now, your taste buds will thank you later!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blame It All On the Boots

It took almost a week, but we finally overcame our jet lag!  I have decided it's my personal mission to eat my way across the Lonestar State and to turn Price into a bonafide Texan.  I am succeeding in both areas...

A little boy in the back of a truck, could it possibly be better?

Well, maybe if you put him in a field of cows,
Maybe it wasn't a huge herd, and possibly only 6 head, and they weren't all cows, there were some bulls.  But, my little boot wearing one (oh yes, boots were bought for the occasion) realized he could  "mooooooo" with the best of them and spent a lovely few hours moooing and tossing cow treats into the pasture to feed the cows.  And he was quite content with that until he spotted the tractor.  And any thought that ever crossed my mind that he isn't 100% pure boy was quickly vanished as a chorus of, "tactor, tactor, red tactor, mommy tactor, tactor mommy" began to endlessly repeat itself ring across the wide open spaces.  And there was nothing left to do, but to let him drive the tractor.
So that is what I did, and that is how I ended up with the happiest, hungriest, dirtiest little Texan in the making.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I am not sure that I'm cut out for world traveling.  I think that as long as I have a two year old, I will stick to visiting locations that do not require me to be on a plane for 16 hours or cross 22 million time zones or the international date line.  I am exhausted, but unable to sleep.  I'm happy to be back in the land of plenty, but overwhelmed by how much of everything there is.  I haven't even ventured into Target yet, for fear of not enjoying it.  We haven't been able to get back onto any kind of routine or schedule, unless you consider waking up daily at 4 am a routine and passing out before 9 at night a schedule.  Or maybe Price's new fondness for a 45 minute screamfest each night in bed, one that can only be ended by me sitting in his room and singing any song I can think of over and over again, until I he passes out is our new routine.  I miss my happy to go to bed baby, and hope we get it together soon!!!  I'm still completely discombobulated and couldn't tell you what time or day it is, just that I'm in Texas, and that the math to figure out what time it is in Guam seems harder in this direction.

Other than feeling upside down and somewhat untethered, things are good.  It's great sharing Price with his grandparents and other family members.  And he really is, despite feeling as upside down, untethered and exhausted as I am, really well behaved and having a good time (until bed time rolls around).  And I LOVE that his granpeeeps like taking him places without me so I can stay home and actually take a bath instead of a five minute shower and even use the bathroom all by myself.

Each day gets a little bit easier, I am not as cranky as I was the first couple of days and haven't fallen into a midday coma on the couch since, well I can't remember what today is, but it's been a few days...  We are staying busy and having a good time.

Well, it's 5 a,m,, I;ve been up for an hour.  Guess it's time for me to stay on routine and try to go back to sleep for a bit.

Incoherently yours,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Guamania... Sounds Like a Mental Condition"

Sorry I haven't been around in a while.  I've been enjoying the last few weeks of summer- participating in rainy 5ks, making marshmallows (yes, actual marshmallows, not s'mores, although I did use the marshmallows to make s'mores and well, who knew that snack could actually be improved upon?), taking advantage of having babysitters at my disposal, dealing with the ongoing saga of the Poo Poo Picasso, dodging lots of raindrops and puddles (the rainy season is definitely, for sure, back in full swing), and celebrating surviving one whole year in Guam!  Even though it always feels like summer here and I don't have a kid who goes to school, I had to soak up every ounce of summer vacation that was left, and I just didn't feel like spending that time on the computer.

I should be back to posting on a more regular schedule now that my mom and a few other folks have complained enough to shame me I've gotten the summer lazies pretty much out of my system.

The big news on Guam right now, other than there are only two working ambulances on the entire island (ok, this is not completely true, the military ambulances aren't included in this count), is that there is a BIG election coming up in November and the primaries are this weekend.  Signs are up everywhere for the candidates, and pretty much any time I go off base, I'm sure to pass a huge group of people standing on the side of the road waving a chanting for their candidate.  One of the people who is up for re-election is our Congressional Rep.  I don't know if anyone is even running against her, I do know that she wears suits all the time.  Even to the Liberation Day Parade, where it was approximately 400 million degrees and she had a suit and SCARF on and looked impeccable.  I on the other hand, had on as few clothes as possible, could have used a scarf to mop the buckets of sweat escaping from my body and any trace of makeup, deodorant, or impeccability I may or may not have had, vanished within five seconds of stepping outside.   Anyway, Stephen Colbert recently interviewed our Rep, Madeleine Bordallo.  And just like at the Liberation Day Parade, you never see her sweat!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Madeleine Bordallo
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rainy Season

It's time for me to be honest.  I haven't seen the inside of the gym in more than a month: the in-laws came for a visit, then I had to go to the Liberation Day Parade, and as the days rolled by I had missed so many classes, that  I forgot what day they were on (on a morning when there was class,  we'd just be sitting around in our pjs  and at 9:15, I'd be like, "damn, Mommy & Me started 15 minutes ago"). Then when I made a mental note of when class was and a conscious decision to start going again, Price got sick and we couldn't go.  And then it was like when you start skipping a class in college (or so I've been told) and you miss so many you're afraid to go back, so you drop it ... That's kind of where I am now. And it doesn't help that legitimate things really keep popping up on class days, so I keep NOT going.  I'm pretty sure that my face is up on a missing person poster at the gym.   I really miss going.  I miss how I was feeling, how my arms were starting to get some definition and how the abs that have been hiding were slowly starting to emerge from a case into a 12 pack.  And I miss the structure that getting out of the house at a regularly scheduled time brought to my day.

I'm trying to get back into the routine I had in June, the one where I went to the gym no less than twice a week and walking on days I wasn't at the gym.  Of course, I still haven't crossed the threshold of the gym, but I figure it's time for me to stop doing arm curls with chocolate chip cookies, donut muffins and tortillas filled with melted chocolate chips and peanut butter.  And maybe soon, I'll start back with the weights and the sit ups and the lunges- oh Lord, the lunges!

But I have started walking with Price almost daily. The problem with walking is that the rainy season is upon us.  I know I have mentioned this about a million times, but unlike much of the rest of the world, Guam does not have four seasons.  We have two- rainy and dry.  The difference between the two seasons- in the rainy season we have what feels like 6-8 hours of (thankfully, non-consecutive) rain a day.  Luckily, the rain usually blows in (you can often see it coming), does its thing and moves on.  Most showers last no more than 15 minutes, often with the sun shining and sometimes literally pouring so hard you can't see two feet in front of you, yet across the street it's barely sprinkling.  However, even though you can often see the rain coming, it comes up fast.

Like today, when I was out for a walk with Price.  We were about a mile into our walk and had about a half mile left, when the sun disappeared and the wind started blowing, and I knew it was coming.  But we were at a point in our walk where we really couldn't stop and take shelter, so I picked up my pace and hoped that I could get to a shelter before the bottom dropped out.  Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.  And even more unfortunate, I left the house in a shirt that I often wear a cami under because it's borderline see through when dry, but of course was sans cami today.  So I was pretty sure that I might be thrown into the brig for conduct unbecoming an officer's wife for gallivanting all over the neighborhood in a now completely see through shirt that was stuck to every curve my upper body had to offer- a true sight to behold.  The construction workers in the neighborhood got an eyeful for sure!  

I came to a realization though as I walked home, looking like I went swimming with my clothes on (not that I would have really bragged about how I looked before I left the house, but post-rain it was so bad I took a picture, which I ended up not being able to post here because, I looked so awful and let's face it, I may be a tad bit vain).  I realized how far I have come in the almost year that we have lived here.  

We arrived here in the midst of the rainy season.  And it seemed like every time I would make any attempt to go somewhere or made an effort to get dressed and put on make up or do my hair, I would get caught in a down pour and end up looking like a drowned rat.  I felt like I could never get ahead and always felt demoralized by this and would more often than not, end up sitting in my car drenched, with stringy hair, and crying.  And now I just roll with it.  Getting caught in the rain no longer sends me into a fit of tears, but usually into a fit of laughter.  It's just part of life on our little island.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Second Time Around

I'm a BIG fan of leftovers.  I love that I don't waste uneaten food, but what I love even more is that cooking leftovers usually means there's less mess in my kitchen.  Less mess means less cleaning, which means more time to spend with any show on Bravo Don and Price.

I also love when I get to re-purpose leftovers (do you like how I'm using trendy HGTV terms on a more Food Network type post?) and turn them into an entirely different meal than what they originally started out as.  This is actually pretty easy to do when you make something like pulled pork or a brisket (not as easy when you are working with leftover lasagna).  And in my house, being able to disguise leftovers is a GREAT thing because I may be married to someone who likes and appreciates my cooking, but who can only handle the same meal for so long (maybe twice if I'm lucky and he LOVED it the first time).

I was very happy last week when the planets aligned and I was able to turn a crock pot meal (hardly any clean up on the original meal) into a Mexican delight (with very little prep/clean up) the second night! As Price would say, "Awesome Pants!"

I think I'll call this dinner,  Play It Again Pile Up

Up til now, every paragraph I have written begins with I.  I am feeling very self-centered I suppose, maybe all the fame has gone to my head.  Sorry, I will get back on track now....

On Wednesday, we had Bacon Chesseburger Chicken for dinner.  It was pretty good (as soon as I put everything in the crockpot, I was like, "you TOTALLY should have made it this way", but it was too late, so I'm planning on making it MY way very soon.  If it turns out like I think it may, I'll share the recipe).  There was a lot left over, even after Price and I had it for lunch on Thursday.  Friday night, I didn't feel like cooking, but we didn't really want to go out, so I busted out the leftover chicken and stared at it for a while. And then I opened the fridge and stared at its contents for a while.  And then I went to the pantry and stared at it for a while.  And then as if someone waved a magic wand, items began floating into focus...

Leftover shredded chicken
Whole wheat tortillas
Black beans
Sour Cream

Almost all of my favorite foods stacked on one plate.  So easy!  Here's all you have to do

Start a pot of rice (or use leftover rice, or omit it altogether).  Place leftover meat (this recipe works great with ANY meat- chicken, pork, beef or leave meatless if you prefer) in a skillet or small sauce pan to reheat.  Heat 1 tortilla per person in the oven until warmed (or if you're like me forget they're in the oven and don't remove until puffed up like a balloon...).  Heat one can of black beans.

Once everything is heated and rice is cooked, start piling everything on a tortilla...
 I placed spinach on the bottom to sneak in a vegetable that Don doesn't care for.

Next, rice and beans.

Then chicken and cheese.

Finally top off with any condiments, you could even use plain yogurt instead of sour cream to cut out some fat.

If you ignore how the chicken was made, you could lead yourself to believe this is a low cal, low fat meal.  This meal that came together at the last minute was the perfect Friday night dinner- quick, easy, not much to clean up- and nothing was leftover!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Boys

The other day, as I was walking into the Commissary, eyes starting to glaze over as they typically do right before I cross the threshold into the world of "who knows what waits for me on the shelves today,"  a poster grabbed my attention.  The Men of My Boys Comedy Tour was headed here, to Guam, to our very own Air Force Base.  I was so excited by this news that I almost didn't even care that I ended up standing on line for almost an hour waiting to check out...  I digress...

Don and I have watched My Boys since it debuted in 2006.  It is one of a handful of shows that we actually agree on. The writing is good, the humor is smart, the cast has good chemistry.  So, when I told him that two of the guys from the show were coming here, to Guam, he was as excited as I was and we made plans to go.

The show was last night and it was great!!  Michael Bunin, who plays Kenny, and Jamie Kaler, who plays Mike, each did a set.  Each of their routines touched on aging, being single and drinking.  And since I'm not a comedic writer, I won't try to retell any of their jokes- plus they weren't really of the knock-knock, who's there variety, but let me tell you- there were tears, lots of tears from laughing so hard.

After last night, we are going to be even bigger fans of My Boys.  You know, now that we're friends with two of the stars.  Friends?  Oh yeah, did I not mention that after the show, we got to meet the guys?  They were so nice to stick around and visit with everyone.  We got autographs (ok, I got the autographs, I forgot to tell them Don's name, so they only signed for me.  They had fun trying to figure out how to spell my name and gave me a hard time about it)

Then, they were kind enough to take a picture with us (from left to right- Michael Bunin, Don, me and my extra chin, and Jamie Kaler).

Ok, so I have known this about myself FOREVER , I am REALLY, REALLY bad at making small talk, (in fact, when I am asked, "If you could have any super power, what would it be? I always reply, "small talk").  Apparently, I become even more tongue tied and less amusing when I am around someone who is slightly famous and stars on a tv show.  Even with a a few drinks in my system, I can't make witty repartee (although of course the minute I walk away, I am cracking myself up with all the witty dialogue I could have just exchanged).   I don't think I completely made an ass out of myself (too much, except for when I went into tooo much detail about my name- I just have DORK stamped on my forehead), but boy am I envious of people who have the ability to talk to anyone about anything at anytime and make it look so effortless!

Thanks to the guys for coming to Guam and thanks to the USO for bringing them here!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Facts of Rice

Mom- this post is for you!!

Growing up in Louisiana, we had rice at almost every meal, be it our family standard of red beans & rice or a special treat of crawfish etouffee.  And now that we live in Guam, there is rice at EVERY meal (even breakfast- and if you haven't had an egg over rice, you really, really must try it).

Although rice is a common and basic grain, many people are intimidated by cooking it.  They don't  know how to cook it without contraptions like steamers or rice makers.  The thing is, you can make it quickly and easily (and nope, I'm not talking about insta-rice from a box) on your very own stove top as long as you have a saucepan with lid.

22 Minute Rice (makes about six 1/2 cup servings, if you need more just remember that for every amount of uncooked rice you use, you need to add twice as much liquid)

2 C hot water (you can also use stock or broth or a combination)
1/8 tsp salt (add more salt if using unsalted butter)
1 C Long Grain Rice (not parboiled)
2 tbsp butter

Step 1:  Set kitchen timer to 22 minutes.

Step 2: Pour hot water into sauce pan, make sure burner is set to highest heat setting.  Add salt.

Step 3:  Add rice

Step 4:  Add butter.

Step 5:  Bring to a boil.  The water should be boiling when the timer has 16 minutes left.

Step 6:  Once water is boiling, give a quick stir, making sure there is no rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Turn heat to lowest setting and cover pan.

Step 7:  When timer goes off, voila!  Perfect rice (it may be a little moist on the bottom, just fluff with a fork).  If you don't like sticky rice, cover and let sit on stove until ready to serve.

Tonight, to spice it up, I put a small dab of butter, a little bit of garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Sometimes I add peas and cheese, a lot of times I just serve it straight out of the pot.  And tonight, I set some aside to serve with milk and sugar tomorrow morning.

While we're on the subject of rice and so many of us are fortunate to have all the rice we want, many people around the world do not.  There's a website, where you can play an entertaining vocabulary game and for every answer you get correct, rice is donated to a country in need.  Snopes has verified that this site is true to its word.  I am NOT being compensated in any way for mentioning this site, I just found it when I googled something about rice.

Oh and Mom, since you inspired this post, by teaching me how to cook rice this way and then telling me you forgot how to do it since you only use Minute Rice these days, I thought you'd like to see the little monkey who was helping me cook the rice...  And by helping, I mean climbing up my legs and onto the counter and savaging cookie crumbs from every surface he could find!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Comfort Food

I am a bit of an emotional eater.   I think celebrations are made better (and sometimes even more memorable) by good food.  I think pity parties can be turned around by no less than a pint of decadent ice cream or a pan of homemade brownies.  Basically, I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm sad, I eat when I'm lonely or bored (are you sensing a pattern here?).  The only time I don't eat is when I am nervous about something (like right before I fly, or about to go into a social situation where I don't know many people).  So it should come as no surprise that I really dig comfort food.

This weekend, I was struck with a major desire for one of my favorite comfort meals, grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I'm not sure if it was the grey weather we were having or my premonition that Price's teething illness would be striking shortly (and yes, I am quite the toothsayer- hahaha- we are currently in the midst of upper molaritis) or just the fact that my body was longing for soup since it's summer ALL.THE.TIME and I just needed to feel a season change, even if it was only temporary.

Of course, once my taste buds were sending signals to my brain that I had to have grilled cheese and tomato soup and I looked outside and saw mybasil plant begging me to pull some leaves, I also knew I wasn't gonna be ok with a can of Campbell's or a slice of American cheese slapped between a couple slices of bread.  Nope, I knew it was time to pull out two of my quickest, easiest and most impressive and wholly crave satisfying recipes in my arsenal.  I'll share them with you, but while your lips will thank you, your hips may not!  This is not a low-cal, low-fat meal (although it could be slightly better with one some modifications that I'll share with you)-  don't say I didn't warn you!!

Chunky Tomato Basil Soup (think La Madeleine)  & The MOST AMAZING GRILLED CHEESE.EVER

 For the Tomato Basil Soup you will need: salt, black pepper, red pepper, cream (or for a lighter version half and half or for a seriously lighter version, low-fat milk- but really how comforting is low-fat milk?), and

1/2 stick of butter

1 small onion chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 large can of tomatoes (diced are ok, these are what I had on hand)

about 1/3 cup of fresh basil, chopped (for all of you herb enthusiasts out there, this is Thai basil because that is what I have growing in abundance right now. I prefer a sweet basil for this recipe, but the Thai basil wasn't bad)

To make the soup, sauté butter, onion and garlic until onions are soft and translucent.

Add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper to taste (more pepper than salt and less than a tsp of each to start with, you can add more at the end if needed) and about 3 shakes of crushed red pepper flakes.

Cook on medium-low heat until gently boiling. (This is a great time to start the grilled cheese sandwiches).   Stir often (if using whole tomatoes, when stirring, smoosh the tomatoes a little to get the juices out).  Once the soup is boiling, transfer to a blender or food processor (my blender broke before we left Ohio, on account of crushing ice one too many times for margaritas  smoothies so I had to use my food processor, the blender worked better!!)

Puree soup so that all tomatoes are broken down.  Then add about 1/3 cup of cream (if you're not into dairy, you probably quit reading a long time ago since this recipe called for cream, but you could use a veggie stock, but the cream- ohhh the cream- it's what makes this so much better than canned soup)  And puree to your desired consistency.  (I leave mine a little chunky, slightly less chunky than salsa)

Return to pot and simmer on low heat until you are finished making your AMAZING Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (adapted from Taste of Home's Ultimate Grilled Cheese)- Thank you Kalina for describing these sandwiches so well several years ago that I was able to find the recipe on-line and have been making them ever since!  These sandwiches are actually a great make ahead food.  You can make the cheese spread and refrigerate until you are ready to grill the sandwiches.

For the sandwiches you will need:
About 10 pieces of bread (a thick bread like Italian or French is better than regular sandwich bread, trust me, I know from recent experience), 1/4 tsp season salt (I used Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb spice blend), 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and because I wanted a teeny, tiny little zip- 1/8 Tony's Creole Seasoning.  You'll also need

the other half of the butter left over from the soup, softened

one block of cream cheese and one green onion

1/3 cup of mayo (if you don't like mayo- Shauna- use 1/4 cup.  You probably won't taste it even using  1/3 of a cup, but you need it to bind everything together.  Don't let the mayo stop you from making this sandwich!!)

2 cups of grated cheese- it doesn't matter what kind or how many types you use.  I did a sharp cheddar and monterey jack.  It's also great with a pepper jack or swiss, what ever you like!

Combine all of the above ingredients (except bread and butter) in large bowl. (If you are not going to make sandwiches immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Definitely keeps well over night).

Once everything is combined, spread on 5 pieces of bread and top with remaining pieces of bread (there will be some cheese spread left over, stick it in the fridge and use it as a cheese dip with crackers the next day).  Butter the outside of the bread and cook on griddle or in frying pan or however you usually cook grilled cheese...

I did not have good bread!!!  I made them again the next day using my leftover spread and put them on hamburger buns, open-faced under the broiler and the bread really does make a difference.  They are too rich without a thick bread or soup to dip them in.

Ooey, gooey!  Yum, yum.  

Nothing like dunking grilled cheese in tomato soup.  I felt like I had just put on my favorite sweater (which I haven't worn in almost a year since living in the tropics really doesn't allow for much sweater wearing).  It soothed my soul until I thought about the fat content, which is probably why I volunteered to mow our lawn today.

What's your favorite comfort food?
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