Sunday, October 31, 2010

Totally Bought This One For The Label

And, it is. 

How We Have Our Fun

This seems like an appropriate Halloween post. 
It all started with this shot.
Mike and I were on vacation when I awoke in the middle of
 the night in excruciating pain. 
Turns out even the security guard at the hospital was able
to diagnose my kidney stones. 
They shot me full of really good drugs really fast and that would
be my excuse for this picture. Mike didn't get the same 
"Get Out of Jail Free" card and so had to throw himself at
 Shanna's mercy after he texted this pic to her with the only caption,
"wish you were here". 
We thought it was hilarious! Shanna, not so much.
A couple of months later Mike awoke in the middle of the 
night with either chest pains or really bad heartburn.
I decided I would rather have him in the hospital with really bad
heartburn than at home with a heart attack. 
Heartburn won (as did we) and we waited till a decent hour
to send this one off to Shanna. 
A couple months later she retaliated. 
I love that kid. 
How could you not!?

Good news, no humans were permanently damaged in 
the making of these photos. Michael's wife, Michelle, has
 been instructed that should he find himself in an 
emergency room somewhere, it will be
her duty to photo document the event. And Michael has been 
informed that this only remains funny as long as nobody gets hurt. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Best Chicago Style Pizza at Home

An Ode to Pizza
I love pizza. 
I love good pizza. 
I love bad pizza.
I love thick crust.
I love thin crust. 
I love to eat the corner pieces on the way home. 
They're appetizers. 
 If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, 
I believe I would choose pizza.

One time a bunch of us had a pizza pot luck.
It was so much fun to try all the different styles, 
combos and pizza joints people used. 
No two pizzas were the same. 
BTW, why are they called "joints"?
Oh, and, if you should decide to have a pizza pot luck,
tell everyone to not get any pizzas larger than a medium. 
There was a ton of leftover!

I like to make pizzas.
 I have a couple of different pizza stones
and a couple of different recipes for the dough. 
My regular stand-by recipe needs to rise twice and 
so you kind of need a couple of hours lead time. 
This pan style one only needs 30 minutes to rise so it's
a good one when you don't have a lot of time.
It originally came from America's Test Kitchen. I'll post the 
recipe over on the left there. The only thing I've changed over time
is the amount of oil you put in the pan. It calls for
3 tablespoons so you get that really crunchy outside 
of the crust, but that just seems excessive to me. Last 
night I used probably 1 1/2 tablespoons and it was just as good. 

Oh man, I'm getting hungry looking at this.
Look at those hunks of red onion.
Chunks of black olives.
And you know there's bacon hiding in there.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Won't Be Kissing Mr. Wineman

Yeah, well, maybe not *that* bad, but a headache nonetheless. 
So, I guess that means that all those pesticides
and the such are not my problem. 
The experiment continues.....

This is an OLD picture, I'm OK, Mom and Big. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Sommelier I'm Not

I choose my wines by the pretty labels. 
This one is my favorite (the label, not so much the wine). 
I like it so much that I have a poster of it
framed and hanging in my family room.
This one is pretty fun too. 
The wine is not half bad and the price is pretty reasonable. 
This is my current favorite and go-to gift wine.
It's a little pricey for sitting around on a Thursday evening unwinding
after having passed out candy to about 5 bazillion Trick or Treaters at
the store. I could digress, but I won't. 
So here is a wine that I would NEVER buy because of the label.
I stopped in to our local wine merchant (after aforementioned 
evening of terror) and asked Mr. Wineman to make a suggestion.
This is the man who once told me, "it's easy to find a good
expensive bottle of wine, the skill is in finding the 
good *in*expensive one."
How can you not just want to put yourself in that man's hands?

Public Announcement:
Whereas Binny's and other big box liquor stores have their place,
nothing can replace the independent guy and his love 
for his craft. 

My parameters for the night were, in the ten dollar range and that it not 
give me a headache. Some wines will do that to me and 
we just haven't had the fortitude to figure
 out which exact ones and why. 
Once my friend determined the headaches weren't caused 
from drinking the entire bottle, ahem, not that I 
*ever* have, but let's just say, that doesn't seem 
to be a factor, he decided we go from a chemical angle.
So here you have it, ORGANIC wine. 
I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.
It tastes just fine. 
The label is atrocious. 
If I don't have a headache in the morning, I may have to go 
kiss him on the lips. 
Well, not really because, 
THIS one doesn't give me a headache!
Great label, huh?
Now if I could only get it in Illinois.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

Here's a little something I left for Shanna 
when I was down there in September.
They are mexican lasagnas and are soooo easy. You probably have
most everything you need to make it in your fridge and pantry.
I use flour tortillas as the "pasta" but you could definitely use corn
if you prefer. I use salsa as the "sauce". Some ground beef browned
 up with a taco seasoning packet is good. I think in this one I used the 
leftover parts from a rotisserie chicken. Cheese is a must but from 
the looks of it I must have used some blend. 
And then start layering whatever you have around. 
Black olives.
Canned chilies.
Sautéed onions and peppers.
Banana peppers.
Black Beans.
Just build it like a lasagna, little sauce on the bottom, tortilla,
meat, assorted goodies, sauce, cheese, repeat (as many times
as you like). Put it in a 350 degree oven for probably about
an hour. Everything is cooked really, you're just heating it through
and melding the flavors. 

Yum, this is making me think about my taco soup. I'll have to post that
along with the "recipe" for making herbed oyster crackers. 

I love cold weather cooking!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fasten Your Seat Belts!

This one's going all over the place!

Has anyone ever *really* gotten a good recipe from People Magazine?
Has anyone *really* ever tried one of those?
And what *ever* possessed People to start publishing recipes?
And, btw, there is a post in the offing about the "*".

Well, kudos to their food stylist because while I really flip through 
People to look at the pictures of the pretty people,
their picture of pretty food caught my eye.
If I was half good at this whole thing I would figure out how to 
swipe their picture and use it here, well, for obvious reasons. 
But despite my photographic abilities,
It was really good!
Go figure!
This creation is courtesy of Mister Al Roker.
It used a chuck roast that you cubed and browned and then 
browned up some hot Italian sausage. I was tempted to
weenie out on the sausage and get the sweet but I manned up
and went hot. I'm so glad I did. There are not a lot
of other spices in this so the sausage really does double duty. 
I made it exactly as the recipe reads with one exception, I cooked
it in a slow cooker as opposed to the oven. 
I needed to be able to leave it unattended. 
Holy cow, yum!
I tried to post the link but it appears People hasn't posted it to 
their site yet. If you want it now, go buy the November 1st issue.
Or go to your local library.
Please support your library.
(That's for my friend Tory who is on the Library Board)

So, Mike says I should send this blog to Al Roker.
Cause I made his recipe.
He'd like to know someone actually made his recipe.
And my posts are absolutely scintillating. (love spell-check)
And since I know the man I am married to, I agree.
I just ask him to come up with an e-mail address. 
This is where it gets good.

Why would I with such confidence suggest such a thing, you ask?
Because when Rossella (Foreign Exchange Student)
was here she took Home EC and came home one day 
with a, hmm, what to call it, a bag of sorts.
That she sewed. 
She was very proud.

And, my husband being a very supportive host father 
and a fashionista to boot, suggested she 
send one to Paris Hilton and ask her to carry it 
some time. Then everybody will want to know where this amazing
bag came from, and, you get where this is going.
What you may not expect is that Mike actually tracked down Paris's
publicist to see where he could send this for her consideration. 
He got pretty far and really blew a few minds around here. 
Actually, the internet and a phone will get you far.

So, here we are. Mike feels he has found a way to get 
this to one Al Roker and I will not doubt my man's abilities. 
Let's all just see where this goes. 

So far I have hit on, a recipe, the use of the "*", People magazine, 
photography skills (or lack there of), the library, go vote!, Al Roker,
my husband, an exchange student and Paris Hilton. 
That sounds like the punch-line to a bad joke. 
And now you understand the title of this post.
Or, why it's so hard to keep a straight train of thought in my head :o)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Rant

Or, a public service. 
I'm not sure which. 
I work retail. 
I enjoy working retail. 
I don't need to make gobs of money, just a little to set us
over the top. I am a very social being. I like passing the time
with people. Sometimes I can help people, sometimes I'm just
a pleasant face. I don't always know all the answers. 
It hurts my feelings when people talk down to me on those occasions.
 I'm more than happy to find the answers. 
I guess I could just make stuff up. 
Hmmm, I sell baby cribs, car seats and strollers. I think it's important
that I find the right answers. 
Sometimes things go wrong, an order takes longer than expected
to arrive, there's a scratch on something, I don't know, there are
a million things that *can* go wrong. I try my best to be sympathetic,
I really do understand the frustration. But, let me introduce you to a new phrase;
There you have it, you're mad as hops, there is nobody to 
blame and chewing off any number of heads (mine included) will
not rectify the problem. 
Please, when those occasions happen, 
and they will, take a deep breath
and choose you plan of action carefully. 
Telling me it's not my fault and then proceeding to 
rip me a new one does not make things all better for me who 
has to have such anger vented at her. 
You're right, it's not my fault and generally speaking, 
I'm a pretty nice person who probably doesn't deserve what you have 
just regurgitated all over me. 
I'm also a person who lives in a pretty small town
and will most likely be looking you name up in the church directory.

Yeah, they've been there. 
That is all.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Making it Lory

This is what I got when I asked Lory if she would sew some
scraps of fabric together that I could use to cover some old pillows.
See, I bought a green chair
and an orange chair
to go with my purple couch.
And while this all makes perfect sense in my world, 
I thought the world at large
might like some visual cues to link the three. 
I thought that if Lory dug into the treasure trove that is her 
fabric *wall*she may come up with an assortment
 of fabrics that she could cut strips 
from, sew together to make one big piece of fabric
and then I could use that to cover my pillows. 
Yeah, that's what she did alright...... 

And while this post started out as a way for me to share
the artistry of my friend, I really want to share my friend. 
Well, not really *share* cause I really want to keep her to myself.
Lory and I met by very unlikely circumstance. 
In fact she just recently shared another twist to our
 whole meeting that reinforces our firm belief that God 
gave us to each other as a gift from Him.
We've been through a lot together and I could probably start another
whole Blog devoted to our escapades. 
I guess I can sum us up with this statement; 
we are friends who could ask each other for, or to do, anything
and know she would say "no" if need be. 
But we never say no. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Can a "Foodie" and Jenny Peacefully Co-Exist?

Craig, that is.
This is what I do to my Jenny Craig food.
I just thought I'd share.
I may have many things to say about this in the future
but for now, I think I will photo document what I do to the 
dear girl's "cuisine" and I'll get back to you. 
That is all. 
Just wanted to share. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to the Process

Lynne asked me the other day if I could replicate an item 
she had at Graham's 318. It was an egg, wrapped in bacon, cooked 
inside a cheese muffin. 
Well, soft cooking the egg to begin with was a no brainer
and the recipe for the muffin was one as well.
If you haven't tried "Fig's Cheese Muffins"
from the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen site,
well, you just need to. 
They are amazing. 
But I digress.
Some day I'm going to run some kind of scan that will tell 
me the most used phrase on this blog and I bet you it will be,
"I digress".
Argh, but where was I? 
Oh, the bacon! I wasn't quite sure what would become of it 
so I only made a half batch of the muffins and only
put the egg concoction 
(second most used word)
in three of them. I figured if it was a bust there would be
less wasted food and at least 3 glorious muffins!
Well, the bacon wasn't *raw* it was more like *steamed*.
Still, not a lovely thing.

I've learned 3 things from this endeavor
 (third most used).
Use a smaller egg, mine were *large*.
Cook the bacon a bit first, just till it starts to firm up.
Use a "jumbo" muffin tin.

And my conclusion on the whole concept?
It's kinda quirky and while I wouldn't make these for 
Sunday morning breakfast, if I needed something that was finger food
transportable, and kinda fun, these would fit the bill.
Maybe Lory's next Triathlon. 
They'd be a good tailgate breakfast served with a mimosa.
or 5. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hominy! I'm Home!

How cool does THIS look???

It was the craziest thing. Last week I happened upon some *thing*
(because I can't remember for the life of me what I was looking at)
that mentioned hominy. The weirdest things catch my attention 
these days and I just wanted to figure out what or who a
hominy was. So, I googled it and found it is derived from corn,
pretty innocuous, and is used quite often in mexican dishes.
The next day I get one of my Facebook updates from
Vegetarian Times 
and what do you know!
Hominy Stew!
Or as they like to call it,
Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin.
Mine's easier to say.
Just sayin'.
It looked pretty straightforward and as a bonus,
I get to use tomatillos for the first time!
The hardest part was probably finding an appropriate pumpkin to
use as the cooking vessel. They gave you a few to choose from.
I couldn't find *one* pumpkin large enough so figured dividing it
between two would work just fine.
And, it did.
I gotta say their picture was a bit misleading because they show a
ladle next to the cooked pumpkin. You don't actually serve it in the
pumpkin. It gets pretty soft and you pull the flesh of the pumpkin  into
the stew. Then they have you make a poblano-cucumber salsa
to serve on top and the combination is fantastic! 
I threw the tomatoes on top there just for fun.
My picture taking abilities kinda stink.
Maybe it's the red bowl.
This would look nice on a wall.
But, it did taste good.
Trust me.

Asian Meatball Subs

Hoisin Mayonnaise!!!
The meatballs were just fine but the best part of this little baby was the sauce!
It has Thai Chili Sauce in it along with Hoisin sauce and the
mellow heat you get is unbelievable!
This is another little find from The Food Network Magazine. 
Best 18 bucks (for the subscription) we've ever spent!
Well, maybe not *best*, but pretty darn good. 
I think this sauce has real potential as the goop for chicken salad.
 I can just see it with some shredded chicken breast,
chopped water chestnuts, cilantro and some shredded carrots.
Lots of the same things they put in the meatballs. 
Maybe some sliced almonds on top?
Could it be warm over some quinoa?
Oh no, wait, Salmon!!!
Ah, the creative process. 
...or, ADHD, you decide.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010


In my never ending quest to determine if there is 
put bacon in, I submit my latest concoction.
Food Network Magazine had a version of these in their
June/July issue. I was looking over the ingredient list and when 
I got to "potato starch" I drew the line.
I'm sorry but this magazine has sent me on one too
 many wild goose chases for ingredients. 
I submit my "Japanese Seasoning" at $15 (including shipping cause
you know *that's* not just sitting on the shelf at Meijer's).
So potato starch may not be that exotic and is probably something
you just boil up at home with a couple of potatoes,
but I'm sorry, just not in the mood. 
So let's just say I used their idea as inspiration.
I started with a spice cake mix and substituted the the grease
from the bacon for the oil. 
Yeah, these will kill you.
Get over it.
I substituted about 1/4 cup maple syrup for 1/4 cup of the water.
(Actually could have used more.)
Then I crumbled up about 3/4 pound of bacon into the batter.
Baked those puppies up and then made the cream cheese 
frosting the magazine published.
Now *that* was good!
It's really just a standard cream cheese frosting but instead of vanilla 
and milk you use 1/4 cup maple syrup and 
a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon. 
Then you garnish with what's left over of the bacon.
I think the chocolate bacon cupcakes are still my 
favorite weird way to eat bacon, 
but I'm not tossing these out either!

BTW, did I ever tell you about the company that sells 
Kosher, vegetarian, bacon flavored mayonnaise? 
Yea, scary, huh?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right

There are so many things wrong with this. 
Not the least of which is that I really like this.
In this bowl is what started out as perfectly lovely, healthy potatoes
that my sister has beaten to within an inch of their lives.
And then she adds the *secret* ingredient.

Please, don't tell anyone. 
I think she put in a half gallon of the stuff.
I've tried being all *better than that* and make
cheesy potatoes with real cheese, but it's just 
not the same. 
Cheese Whiz and Twinkies will survive a nuclear blast.
I feel like I'm at a 12 step program. 
Hello, my name is Merry and I like Cheez Whiz potatoes.
I will sit down and hang my head in shame now.

Friday, October 15, 2010


This is a test.
I'll let you all know what I'm up to 
This is a test.
This is only a test. 

Happy Fall Y'All

I went on a bike ride yesterday and actually remembered to take
my camera along.
And then bothered to actually stop and take some pics. 
And now I'm just sharing. 
Cause, I figured if you bothered to come here,
there should be something new to see.
(Michelle) :o)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Awful Falafel ?


I get updates from Vegetarian Times on my Facebook account.
Mike and I are very interested in cutting way back on the amount of meat we eat.
Don't get me wrong, we are most definitely NOT giving up
hot dogs and hamburgers.
It's that theory, if you do what's best for you most of the time, 
 then you're on the right track.
It's not a new concept, there's a term for it,
Hah! spell check doesn't even recognize it yet :0).
So, every now and then some totally unusual thing will catch my eye.
I had no idea what was involved in a "falafel" but I was intrigued.
Turns out they were pretty yummy and 
I will probably make them again.
I just have one concern. So, there's no meat involved and that's 
But what about the method of cooking?

Are chick peas and vegetables still good for you when you
deep fry them?????

Here's the link:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Breese My Niece

I suppose if Shanna (my daughter) got the
 Thank You Note gene from my aunt
it's possible Breese got the cooking gene from her aunt (me!).
Breese lives in DC and while she has an extensive pool 
of culinary guinea pigs to pull from out there, nothing quite
beats experimenting on one's own family!
Ask her mother and father, I do it to them routinely. 
Breese came to town this weekend with a mission mapped out.
Chicken Masala Saturday night and pulled pork
with coleslaw Sunday night. 
I was otherwise engaged Saturday night but was able to 
join in for the festivities Sunday night. 
She used Bobby Flay's recipe. 
It was really good, all be it a bit hot to start off.
The recipe calls for you to serve the sandwiches with coleslaw on top.
I've had BBQ that way before and while it seems really odd
to us Northerners, it's really quite good.
Breese and I agreed that the coleslaw would help to cut 
some of the heat so we decided to build the sandwiches
 and put them out as a "done deal".
We did catch a certain amount of flack but in the 
end we were proved correct.

So, my take away for today, when someone is preparing an unfamiliar
recipe or combination of foods for you, eat it as the
creator intended. Those weird combos may actually be what 
makes the dish so unique, great, wonderful!
Then, when you go back for seconds, do whatever you want. :o)

PS, Also, don't throw salt all over everything till you have tasted it. 
It just tells me that you're pretty sure I don't know 
what I'm doing before you have even tried :o)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Court and Christine

If you could take happy and bottle it, this is what it would look like. 
Lory's baby got married yesterday. 
Christine's last name used to be Merry.
How funny is that!?
On top of that her mother's first name is my middle name!
Weird, huh?
Court and Christine had a wedding in what is now my
official FAVORITE way to have a wedding, or at least the reception.
Would you call it homemade?
All the food was made by hands of those who love the couple.
All the food was made by groups of people.
It was like a bunch of little parties leading up to the BIG one.
Court and Christine made the chicken and egg salads 
that became the wraps.
Christine and some of her friends made ALL the cupcakes.

Lory, her mother and I made the side salads. 

Mike even helped roll the wraps in the hour before the guests arrived!

Those of you who are familiar with Mike's aptitude in the 
kitchen are very impressed at this point. 
Court and Christine gave me the privilege of setting
up the room for the reception. I enlisted Lynne,
Brian and of course, Mike.
We had a little pizza and wine party beforehand, helps
with the creativity. And the laughs. 

It's so much fun to do things this way. 
We are all invested in it.
We all know what's not "perfect".
We all know it doesn't have to be. 
We all know the real reason we are there.
We all know we aren't trying to impress anyone with our 
party throwing prowess.
We just want to impress the couple with how much we love them. 
The Reluctant Entertainer would be proud. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Want One!!!!

Have you ever seen such a thing?
This is a little spot we stumbled upon while on Hilton Head Island.
This is the coolest concept and I don't understand why 
there isn't one on every corner of every town. 
It's an Italian style wine bar.
How it works is that when you go in they give you a
 "credit card" and you slide it into the slot of any given "bank" 
of wines and then choose from, a taste, a half glass or a full glass
of any given wine. These contraptions keep oxygen out of the wine 
and the wine at the correct temperature. They have a full range from 
whites to reds from cheap to pretty pricey. 
They have a smattering of tables about and a selection of
 "small plates" and artisan cheeses. 
What a great way to try some new wines, have a little snack 
and hang with some friends.
When your done you just take your card to the cashier and it 
reads the charges you made. How cool!? 
I totally want to open one!
Lynne says those machines would run about 150 grand a pop.
Any investors?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pink Ribbons and a Suck It Pin

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In case you didn't know.
I think I have more things to say about breast cancer
 than I have pink ribbons.
My mother is a 26 year survivor. 
Other survivors like to hear that "26" so I'm putting
that out there for you :o)
Mom and I have a contest going to see who can accumulate more
pink ribbon pins. 
I wear one every day during the month of October.
My goal is to have a different one for each day.
That is a hard goal to achieve when one has a daughter unit 
who takes off with them. 
But I digress.
My mother met cancer head on and showed it who was boss.
One year ago next month, a friend who is very dear to my heart
was diagnosed with breast cancer. 
Her family history was very different from mine. 
She lost her mother and quite a few other female relatives
to the disease. I didn't know Indra back then, 
or those amazing women, but I believe they managed
 to instill one killer instinct in Indra
 and I pitty the fool (or cancer cell) who decides to mess with her. 
Indra and I have lots of laughs together and don't tend to tolerate 
Debby Downers. 
Cancer can be a big downer. 
So, whereas Pink Ribbons have their place, in Indra and Merry Land,
the Suck It Pin reigns!
It is the biggest gaudiest thing you will ever see.
I gave it to her and told her that any day that cancer was trying to 
get the best of her, she was to wear that pin proudly and tell
cancer to

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

It's my mom's birthday.
I have an amazing mother.
My mom was Betty Draper before Betty Draper was.
But she was a brunette.
And for every day stuff she wore her hair more like Peggy's. 
But man could she rock a french twist!
She was that stereotypical 50's stay at home wife.
She had some jobs as a teenager during the war.
One was butchering chickens, she taught me how.
It's a very important life lesson.
Once you can butcher a chicken from stem to stern,
 there isn't much else in a kitchen you won't attempt. 
And she dated a lot of Bills. 
I dated a lot of Mikes.
 Another life lesson, if you date guys with the same name 
you never have to worry about having your 
Dad (in her case) or your 2 year old (in my case) 
call a guy by the wrong name. 
My parents got divorced when I was in 5th grade.
So, my mom who hadn't worked a day in her life to support
herself, figured out how to get out of a rotten marriage,
 dissolve a bankrupt business,
 dispose of a house she could no longer afford,
 and cloth, feed and shelter 4 children. 
She didn't do it on her own, she had an 
amazing mother (and sister) herself.
It wasn't always pretty but it worked. 
And the life lessons I learned in that 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house 
on Oakton Street have served me well all these years. 
Thanks, mom.