Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Last week the Angsty Teen was hungry for a Caesar salad. I thought it sounded good, even though I  didn't have any Caesar dressing or croutons on hand
After the tough day she'd had, I decided that those things were solvable... After all, I did have lettuce and a block of parmesan cheese.

I found a recipe (Click here to find the recipe I used...) of someone's on Food Network... Cathy Lowe? Who is that? Is she on Food Network? I don't know, I don't think so... but I thought the recipe looked easy enough... and I actually had all of the ingredients on hand...
Source: dumpaday.com via Sally on Pinterest

Fortunately this ingredient list wasn't too bad:

Garlic? Check!
Vinegar? Red wine, white, and apple cider!
Mayonaise? Yep!
Olive oil? Always!
Salt? Duh...
Pepper? Again, duh...
Lemon juice? Always some in the bottle in the fridge, but I actually had a fresh lemon on hand!
Anchovy filets? Well...
Dijon mustard? Hmmmmm.....

Well, okay, I was missing one of the ingredients... can you guess which one I didn't have?

No, it wasn't the anchovies... I had bought a tin of those a while back and they were down in the basement on the pantry shelves. I was even able to find the can! (For those of you with perfectly organized pantries, that might not seem like a very big deal... but trust me, it was a huge deal for me!)

It was the Dijon mustard... I didn't have any of that stuff. I substituted a little regular mustard.

So I started making the dressing and sipping some wine:

All I can say is I'm VERY, VERY glad that the Stern German didn't want any wine... Oh, and I'm also VERY, VERY glad that I went light on the garlic!

The recipe called for SIX cloves. I used one largish one... it probably counted as two of the six.
And my dressing was plenty garlicky... maybe even a little too strong. I don't like it when the raw garlic in something makes my tongue burn... and this did... just a titch. (Really? Titch isn't a word?)

I didn't use all of the olive oil either... only about half... I didn't want the dressing to be too runny.

For the croutons, I just sliced up leftover bread into cubes and sautéed them with a little olive oil and salt/pepper until they were crispy, but still chewy.

The salad was delicious... This week I made it again and we had grilled chicken on it. So good.

I don't have enough time to tell you what it is like when the Stern German grills for us... that'll be another post...

If you've never made a salad dressing, give it a try. It's definitely cheaper than a buying the dressing... and your family thinks you slaved away just for them... and you get to drink wine while you make all that stuff.

Minnesota Blogger Get Together!

Last Friday was the second time I was able to get together with other Minnesota Bloggers for an event. We had a cooking class and there was a pretty good turnout.
Minnesota Bloggers
It was a fun night... but for a while... all of my photos were coming out blurry... so I put my glasses on thinking the pictures must just be blurry to me... but they weren't.

Then I tried taking more pictures with my glasses on... and that didn't help...
Finally someone suggested I wipe off the lens of my phone... yep, it was smeary and smudgy! Guess that happens when you're cooking and snapping pics! I didn't end up with a clear group picture...

The night consisted of:

 ... a little chopping, slicing, dicing, and sautéing:

... a lot of picture taking.... especially of the food:
Bloggers take lots and lots of pictures.
... some wine consumption and craziness:
... some munching and crunching:

                       Chicken Lettuce Wraps                                       Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza
                       Deluxe Cheeseburger Salad                                              BLT Pasta Salad

... a bit of a  birthday bash...
Whose birthday was it? Can you tell from the pictures? It was....  Tatum Channing... or Channing Tatum. I actually don't know which it is. (I rarely, if ever, go to movies... so I haven't ever seen him in a movie, and seriously... the guy has two first names... or two last names... I've heard it both ways.)  I could Google it... but I did that once and I still don't remember...
... and a whole lot of fun!

I saw some bloggers I had met in September, missed some that weren't able to make it,  and met some new ones. I was, by far, the old lady of the group... but everyone was a lot of fun.

A fine time was had by all.

There's a linkup for all of the Minnesota Bloggers who attended the cooking class. Click here to see who all linked up and to read other bloggers' thoughts about the evening!
This is the BLT Pasta Salad I made at home on Saturday...
The Stern German and the Angsty Teen devoured it.
I posted this picture of the BLT Pasta Salad I made the day after the cooking class... and someone asked me for the recipe... So here it is:

BLT Pasta Salad

8 ounces pasta (We used corkscrew at the class... but they don't sell that in my town, so I used penne.)
1/2 cup milk
1 lb. bacon
3 ripe tomatoes (cut into chunks)
1 tablespoon of a garlic/pepper spice blend (We used Wildtree brand for all our spices... so good.)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons of an onion/chive spice blend
5 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 green onion tops, diced (or chopped chives)

Cook pasta according to the package and drain. Toss pasta with milk in large bowl. Set aside.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. (This is great to do ahead of time.)

In 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings, sauté tomatoes and garlic with the onion/chive spice blend until warmed through. Season with the garlic/pepper spice blend.

Crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces. Set aside 1/4 cup of the bacon for the top of the salad.

Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.

Mix the mayo and sour cream until smooth. Add to pasta and stir until mixed.

Gently stir in the lettuce. Garnish with green onions or chives and the reserved bacon.

Serve at room temperature.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Happy Monday! I'm linking up with Kati and Kate to bring you:
Incorporating Color
The Good: As of yesterday... I've been blogging for a whole year!
The Bad: The learning curve has been pretty steep. (It's that whole "Old dog, new trick thing...")
The Ugly: I really only know enough about blogging to be dangerous... but it's been a fun ride!

The Good: On Friday night I went to a cooking class with a bunch of GREAT Minnesota Bloggers.
For a while my photos were all blurry... guess you should make sure you don't touch your lens with greasy fingers...
The Bad: I stayed too late. It started at 7:00 pm... I left after 10:00 pm... & I had a 2 hour drive home.
The Ugly: I was so tired driving home... I hate driving when I'm that sleepy.

The Good: Saturday was a beautiful day! (in the 70s, warm, and not snowy!)
The Bad: I didn't get to be out in it at all.
The Ugly: I spent all afternoon cooking/baking & my kitchen was so hot... I missed the gorgeous day...
But I made a fantastic BLT Pasta Salad that we had made the night before at the class.

The Good: My parents were able to get out and come to church with us yesterday.
Their outfits coordinated... the Angsty Teen's sweater is purple... it's hard to tell...
The Bad: I had forgotten that my mother whispers very loudly... and frequently during church...
The Ugly: My father had snagged a handful of wrapped hard candy from the candy dish before  he came to church... and the only time he thought to unwrap a piece was when the sanctuary was ABSOLUTELY SILENT.  Rustle, rustle, rustle. So loud!

The Good: After about six pieces of candy, the diabetic, geriatric, bariatric blind guy hit a sugar high.
The Bad: Then he crashed... and fell asleep... during church...
The Ugly: He snores.

The Good: I took a two hour nap on Sunday and it was another beautiful day.
The Bad: The Angsty Teen thought it was a great day to get out and drive "her" car.
The Ugly: Since I wanted to get outside for a while I made her do some yard work with me before we drove. Actually, she was quite pleasant since she wanted to drive... so I guess there wasn't anything "ugly" about it!

It was a pretty good weekend. We all took our turns being tired and ornery... everyone else more than me, of course... especially the Stern German... but, we worked through it and we all survived... barely, but we survived!

Did you have a good weekend?

Friday, April 26, 2013

High Five for Friday

It's FRIDAY! I think that's a good thing... It has been a crazy, crazy week... well, a lot like any other week of my life, I guess....

Tonight I am going to the Minnesota Bloggers' cooking class! I've only made it to one other MN Blogger event and that was way back in September. It will be great fun.
Minnesota Bloggers
Now I'm going to share with you, in chronological order, the five highlights of my week:

1. I had a spectacular time with Kati last weekend. 
Getting away from my crazy, care-giving life - even for a short time- is enough to keep me going!
2. The Angsty Teen was able to get a some meds that will help her with her concussion headaches until we can see her doctor next week.

We went to the ER... they gave her some good drugs & they got her in a little later for an MRI.
We'll figure out how to get rid of those headaches yet!
3. I read in the oldest Grand Boy's preschool classroom yesterday.
Yep, these are the two books I chose... I love reading books to kids!

4. I survived being at the Angsty Teen's track meet for four hours in the cooler, windy weather!
I sat on a sleeping bag alone for the most part...  the Stern German was working a 13 hour day...
but the teen joined me for a bit.

5. No pants were shat in the making of this week... 

Well, the week isn't technically over... but so far, so good!

That pretty much sums up my week... Have a great Friday... and a wonderful weekend.
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Join me on Monday when I link up with Kati and Kate to tell you about my weekend in:
Incorporating Color

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday!

I am not a scrapbooker... I don't even pretend to be one. When Kati graduated from high school, we hung up a couple dozen pictures on clothesline around the living room and dining rooms. No boards of photos... no albums... it was glorious, for me, a non-scrapbooker!

My pictures are all upstairs in boxes... some are in albums from the six month period of time where I thought I could/would be a scrapbooker... but that was a short-lived phase.

This is the second time I've linked up with the Throwback Thursday bloggers... and it's been fun to look through some old pictures.
Here's what I dug up for you this time...

This is the Angsty Teen as a preschooler... wearing her dad's socks... and a smile.
Sorry, girl, but it is pretty adorable...
 When we wanted her to keep her clothes on... it didn't happen. When we wanted her to take some off...
 Nope, not gonna wear a leotard without panties. Such a good look. But, if memory serves me correctly, Kati was the same way. Did you wear undies with your leotard?

Also, when I came across that picture I showed it to the Angsty Teen and said, "You refused to take your panties off." To which she replied, "I would think that would be a good trait in life."

She's right. Point taken.

She is a lot like the little girl who had a curl down the middle of her forehead... Do you know that poem?

When she was good...

She was very, very, good...

And when she was bad...

She was horrid.

Yep, those pictures sum up her personality and emotions quite well. She is delightful and fun to be around most of the time... so that's a good thing.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Minnesota Springtime

Yes, it's true... Even though the first day of spring was over a month ago, yesterday, April 23, here in southern Minnesota, our schools had a two hour late start... because of snow! 

Pretty sure this tweet is true:

It started on Monday afternoon while the Grand Boys were here...

It was snowing pretty hard when they were leaving...
Lots of big flakes in the 'hood... Sorry, honey, not you...
And, at 5:45 am on Tuesday the phone rang with the call from our superintendent... Yep, he's a busy guy but he personally calls each and every household in the district when there is a late start, an early out, or a snow day.

He's always in a hurry and he never answers my questions... I'm beginning to think it's a recording...

The guy is leaving in a few weeks... for a job in a larger district... maybe this was his last hurrah!

The heavy wet snow was quite beautiful:

By 10:00 am it was pretty wet and slushy... and still quite snowy...

My blog friend Michelle has been good at coming up with things like this over the past few weeks:
 She's definitely had enough of this snow!

She had definitely had enough of this weather...

My dad enjoyed his workout in a brightly lit window... and... yes, people, that really is snow on the ground on April 23... Even in Minnesota that is pretty abnormal!

We Minnesotans are tough, hearty souls... and we will survive... The promise of real spring weather is in the air... ever so slightly. This coming weekend? There is a high in the mid-to-upper 60s projected.

Yeah, we'll see about that... I'm not holding my breath...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Wooden Leg Named Smith

The day that my parents moved to my town 2 1/2 years ago... another lady, we'll call her Tillie, moved into their building, too.

Tillie's son lives in our town with his drop-dead gorgeous, sweet, blond wife... (She is so gorgeous and pulled together with perfect hair and makeup every time I see her, I would love to hate her... but she is so genuinely sweet, that I can't...)

Anyway... when Tillie moved to town her daughter-in-law told us that Tillie was looking for a man. And she was dressing the part, too. Tillie has a nice assortment of mini-skirts from years gone by that she wore/wears with aplomb. She has the best legs for a a lady in her upper 80s.

When Tillie met the diabetic, geriatric, bariatric, blind guy, she said to my mom, "Is he with you?"  My mom replied, "Yes, that's my husband." Tillie said, "Do you want to share him?"

Actually, Tillie is pretty hard of hearing... so it was more like this:
"Is he with you?"  My slightly hard of hearing mom replied, "Yes, that's my husband." Tillie said, "Do you want to share him?"

In hindsight, my mom probably should've said yes... It would've been a lot less work for her...

Anyway, Tillie eventually found a boyfriend...  I thought he was mean and ornery. If there was ever a mean, dirty old man in that place, it was him... That's who she chose...

Well, there weren't really too many other men in the place to choose from, come to think of it... especially since my mom didn't want to share her man...

About a year ago Tillie's mean, ornery boyfriend, whom she thought was wonderful... because she couldn't hear half of what he said to her, had a blood clot in his leg... Now he is a one-legged man... and he had to move to the adjoining nursing home. Tillie goes to visit him every single day.

This always makes me think of the line from Mary Poppins about the man with the wooden leg named Smith... Anyway, I digress... (What's the name of his other leg?) Sorry.

Tillie was pretty devoted to her Man With the Wooden Leg Named Smith... although last week at my cooking class... she was sitting at a table and the new resident, a retired dentist, walked by... She took off in a sprint.

Well, maybe not a sprint... but she was following him as fast as she could go.
She ended up sitting right next to him. Tillie is as deaf as a doorpost. So, she couldn't hear what he said but she laughed and flirted with him while touching him on the arm. She definitely looked like she was making her move... I thought that maybe things were over with the one-legged man.

But today I heard... Wait. Play this song to get in the mood for.... The Rest of the Story:

Yep, that's right, I heard that Tillie, dear kind, sweet woman that she is, and her Man With the Wooden Leg Named Smith... got married... to the ornery, old coot... and that she is moving to the nursing home. I don't think true love could get me to do that...

What should I get them for a wedding present? Maybe... a "Do Not Disturb" sign?

Leslyn's Lovely Life

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It was a great weekend. Lots of laughter, a few margaritas, a little wine... okay, maybe a little more than a little wine, a little shopping, and lots of hanging out!

I went down to Omaha to visit Kati while the Angsty Teen went to a youth conference for church and the Stern German held down the fort.

The Good: I thought of a fun, unique, and what I thought was cheap, solution for holding Kati's curtains over to the side of her windows.
I'd seen this in a magazine quite a while ago... thought it would work well...
We went to Menard's and all the guys were MORE than happy to help youthful, gorgeous Kati!

The Bad: The cost was starting to add up with each little piece of plumbing hardware we needed...
The Ugly: The pieces came to nearly $40. This was no longer a fun, cheap project.

So we ended up going to Target. Curtain holder-backers (that's probably not what they're really called) were about $10 a pair. That would've only cost $20 for both windows... but being the cheapskates that we are... we solved the problem for under $5... and it looks pretty great. (Go to her blog to see pics!)

The Good: We both bought new bras.
The Bad: We decided to go and be fitted to make sure we were wearing/buying the right size.
The Ugly: We got fitted... (or as we referred to it "got our ta-tas touched")
Well, the ta-ta touching wasn't terrible... but the girl who measured us didn't really do that great of job... We figured out our own sizes... and the new bras made our ta-tas look great!

The Good: Kati and I cooked delicious food for every meal... We didn't eat out once.
Stuffed mushrooms
Eggs Benedict with a ton of asparagus!!
The Bad: The weekend went by much too quickly...
The Ugly:  I ran into a terrible thunderstorm on the drive home... I could hardly see. At least it was short.

I was white-knuckling it for about half an hour...

Well, that's my weekend wrap-up. The Angsty Teen will be coming in the door any second from Variety Show practice which she went to as soon as she got home from her weekend away... She will be hungry and tired.

I'd better batten down the hatches...

Friday, April 19, 2013

High Five for Friday

It's Friday... and in some ways it has been an exhausting, bizarre week.

So, as I link up for my High Five for Friday, I want to say that I'm really, really glad that...

1. There are more good people in the world than bad ones.
Yes, there are some awful people out there... but I don't think we could survive in a society where most of the people were horrid. Also good? There are a lot of folks who jump in to help in time of need.

2. I get to go see Kati this weekend!
We're going to cook our own food and mix our own drinks. As much as I love a deal and eating out... sometimes the experience ends up lacking in deliciousness and it still gets pricey even with a Groupon.

3. I had a great time cooking this week... at my cooking class on Wednesday night... and at the cooking class I taught yesterday at the assisted living place where my parents live.
Yesterday, we made truffles! Dark chocolate ones and milk chocolate ones... rolled in pecans, coconut, cocoa powder, or sweetened cocoa powder. They were so good!
Before the class I had my dad cut up cucumber and red pepper slices for him to snack on.... he didn't want them...
Yep, this lady slept through my entire class...
4. We had a fun evening with the Grand Boys!
We don't really ever buy them stuff...like toys or stuffed animals because their other grandparents seem to buy them everything. It's simpler to just back away instead of trying to compete in that arena.

But on Monday, we found caps that they LOVED... at WalMart, of course...

Spiderman? Yep.
Thomas the Tank Engine? Definitely, yes.
5. Yesterday school got out early due to rain, sleet, and SNOW!!!!

Really???? Snow??? It's APRIL... past MID-APRIL, no less!!!  The Angsty Teen and the Stern German were home for MANY hours together... dang.

The Angsty Teen is supposed to leave to go to a youth conference through our church today... And since I'm supposed to head to Omaha... The Stern German had the Angsty Teen check the weather for her trip and for mine...
The Stern German is a little anal... the the Angsty Teen is a little spastic. This is why I drink.
Hopefully, by the time you read this... the weather will have cleared up... the Stern German will be at work... the Angsty Teen will be on her way to Duluth, MN... and I will not be stranded in Iowa as I head to Nebraska... (I've heard that can happen...)

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Have a great weekend! Check back here on Monday when I link up with Kati and Kate for:
Incorporating Color