Monday, November 21, 2011

Get your Velveeta now

You're going to need it Thursday, or in the Paper-Dog family's case on Sunday- either way you will need it the day after you dive into all of the turkey and have your leftover turkey sandwiches.

For it is the day after Thanksgiving diner that I remember fondly from Memaw's with the Tautenhanners that we would have Velveeta cheese dip as children and I loved dunking my turkey sandwich in the dip.  It must have been extra special because we didn't usually have cheese dip at our house in the little city.  

But... get our family of four plus four boy cousins, a favorite aunt, a crazy uncle, a wonderful Memaw, a handy Pepaw, two bedrooms and one bathroom together on 13 acres and look out... cheese dip and card playing were sure to be on the agenda.

Even now over twenty years later I think about those years playing in that little house, being shooed into the pasture or just "outside" and am so nostalgic for a time when things like cheese dip could make a weekend magical.  Maybe it still can.

Lulu, I think I have an addition to the grocery list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Little slice of home

I've been to Pavillions.  You might remember that last week I had heard of this lovely store on the Hill called Pavillions.  Well.. friends... I've been and it was a little messy, a little crowded for a Tuesday afternoon and a lot like Tom Thumb.  I loved it .

It was like walking into the Tom Thumb on Hulen and I-20 in the Fort and it was just what I needed after trying in vain to find all of the tings I have been looking for in the grocery store for weeks.  I'm not saying that I'm turning into a grocery store freak or anything, draw your own conclusion there, but when they had the big Thanksgiving baking pre-set pallet right in the front door... well- I was excited to see a little bit of Safeway safety just 1.2 miles from home.

 Tonight we're having Lasagna for dinner. It's a recipe that I think I've shared before- one that the Paper Family loves- and that they request much more than I love making- for it makes much more than the three of us can consume in two sittings and then there I am with noodles and sauce stinking up my fridge... so I am considering making friends with the neighbors to see if they're in the mood for ooey-goey cheesey saucy pasta for dinner.

So here's a re-post of the recipe with a few updates- Lasagna 201

Ingredients- all approximate measures:

8 or 9 oz package flat homestyle dry lasagna noodles
2 jars of spaghetti sauce- I like Barialla Basil
1# ground beef
1 c water
15 oz part skim ricotta
1 egg
1# shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup water
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 T parsley flakes
Dash nutmeg
¼ c fresh basil chopped
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350

Brown ground beef in a dutch oven or other deep pot- flavoring it with salt, pepper and garlic. Drain any excess fat. Add to the pot 2 jars of sauce and a cup of water. I use the water to rinse the jars so we get every last drop of tasty sauce. Bring to a low boil.

Meanwhile, mix together in a small bowl the ricotta, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, egg, ½ cup water, parsley flakes, fresh basil and nutmeg.

Assemble: Spray a 9x13 glass pan and a small side dish oven proof pan with cooking spray.

Put about a ½ cup of sauce in the 9x13 pan and ¼ cup into the small one to serve as the base. Lay 3 noodles side by side in the 9x13 to cover most of the bottom. Spread about a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each noodle, sprinkle with ¼ of the mozzarella, top with a generous ladle of the sauce meat mixture. Then repeat two more times in the 9x13 and use the remaining noodles and sauce in the small pan.

Sprinkle all remaining Parmesan cheese and mozzarella over the top of the assembled lasagna. Spray cooking spray on foil or use easy release foil to tightly cover the pans. Bake for 45 minutes covered. Then, uncover and bake for 15 minutes more to brown the top nicely. Remove from oven to rest for 15 minutes before cutting to give cheese time to settle.

Refrigerate any uneaten portion and reheat for lunch the next day or dinner the next night...

Uncooked lasagna can be frozen. Cover tightly with additional foil and freeze for up to 2 months. To cook, thaw in refrigerator 24 hours, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking- I've never done it though-

We like to eat Lasagna with salad (ha) and garlic biscuits-

take a can of small biscuits- cut the dough in half to make 20 half moon shapes- dip the uncooked dough in a mixture of melted butter, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven after you take the lasagna from the oven.  Smells like heaven.  Tastes pretty good too...


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's in a name??

It occurred to me today as I was re-reading the wedding ceremony program from my BFF Duke's wedding this summer in an effort to clean up some of the clutter in the nest this afternoon that names are a really cool lot that we draw that we have little or no control over but which have much influence over us.

I have a two name family name- named as the legend goes after my mom's two favorite uncles.  The Peep is named for her paternal great grandmother and is the fifth of her middle name on my mothers side.  My sister HillDog  is named for our great grandmother and for our mom's favorite grandfather...

Do we become our name I wonder?  My sister is a little wacky- but her name has a wacky spelling- I am calm and demure- but my name is too- the Peep is movie star dramatic- and so is her name...

And what about nicknames?  Duke has been with us for 20 years but we are the ONLY ones in her family to bestow Dukeness on her- Somehow in 20 years it never caught on anywhere else.

And there are Juniors.  Some parents have no intention of calling their kids by their names- just calling them Bob or Rob or Jr.  That's cool too.  Those kids get to start out cool from the get go.

Now my preggers sister is settling on names with my BIL Bruder and Hallie-Jackon aka Shanequia is growing like a weed.  Will she be a hell raising red haired pale faced little thing or a little spit fire they call Jack??  What if she were called Jack?  What is in a name?  What's in yours??  Please do share...


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Big Vons Little Vons

Vons is the grocery store that I tend to frequent when I have to go to the store.  It's is part of the Safeway chain so it's like Tom Thumb back in the Big City.  Nice and Clean.  Stocked pretty well.  If I have my 'druthers, Slick goes to the store since he does most of the fancy cooking, but sometimes we need bread, milk and eggs and I am relegated to the store.  There is a Vons super close to our house that is more like a large convenience store attached to gas pumps, except that there aren't any gas pumps.  Same number of parking spaces though.  About nine.  Little Vons is probably ok if all I wanted was truly milk, bread and eggs, but inevitably I end up with one or five things on the list that little Vons doesn't carry and I leave frustrated that I even stopped there.  Inconvenience store if you ask me.

Big Vons...  now there's a store.  Even I will go to the store with a smile for Big Vons.  It is the biggest regular grocery store I remember being inside.  They have all kinds of things.  Not fancy and exotic things like Central Market or clever things like Trader Joes, but lots of choices for regular people kinds of foods.  Wild rice.  I was looking for regular old original recipe Uncle Ben's Long Cooking Wild Rice last week to go beside roasted chicken with cherry sauce.  Little Vons only has the pre-cooked reheat in the microwave version of wild rice.   I don't like that kind.  I like the old school orange box with the nice picture of Uncle Ben on it.

Had to go to Big Vons for it.  And while I was there I had to get a can of cherries for the cherry sauce because apparently cherries that aren't in gooey mess but packed in water are not for stocking at little Vons either.

Just last week Slick told me about Pavillions.  Apparently it's a super fancy Vons.

I can't wait to go... I wonder how big it is...?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This was tasty Halloween dinner!

For Halloween dinner we needed something I could make fairly quickly since I hadn't given it much thought and I was supposed to be printing the Peep's homework packet and was instead trolling my new obsession Pintrest- where I stumbled upon this delicious looking dinner-  I am more of a save the-new-recipe-and-think-about-making-it-but-stick-with-tried-and-true-kind of a girl... I know you are shocked given my high level of adventures... kidding- but for some reason the creaminess spoke to me and I had to try it.  SO off to Big Vons the Peep and I ran and an hour later we were having super tasty creamy chicken taquitos!

baked creamy chicken taquitos

Let me say: this is not my photo.  Ours did look that wonderfully.  But we ate them so quickly that there wasn't time for a picture.  This is the photo from the tasty blog that I got the recipe from- and if you make them please let them know if you liked them because I sure did-

But just for your ease here is her recipe and my modifications in ( ) because you know the PaperPeople can't follow instructions...

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Yield: 12 taquitos... (somehow we only got 11.  I know you are surprised.)
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa (I wasn't sure what this was supposed to be so I got a can of salas verde from the Mexican aisle at Big Vons)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, juice from half a lime
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder (I just saw this so I forgot to put it in... )
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced (I was in too much of a hurry to chop garlic- we were trying to get out the door- it WAS Halloween- so I just used garlic salt)
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro (Same with the garlic- didn't want to chop...)
2 Tbsp sliced green onions (Ditto...)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I took raw chicken tenders form the store sprinkeld with garlic salt and canola oil and cooked on the grill pan on the top of the stove.  They were really this and cooked really quickly while I was mixing up the rest of the ingredients.)
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese (I just used a big handful :))
small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray
Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I used foil which I call ALUMINUM FOIL like it says on the box and which Slick calls TIN FOIL and which makes me laugh)
In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.
[If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.]
Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll, about 20 – 30 seconds. (My tortillas were really fresh so I didn't need to do this)
Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can. 
Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone.  Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole. (We served with all three and with cheesy chips- recipe follows)
**To freeze:  Before baking, chill the taquitos on the baking sheet in the fridge.  Once completely cooled, wrap each taquito individually with plastic wrap.  Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze.  To bake a frozen taquito [no need to thaw first]: Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes. Source: Adapted from Our Best Bites- and then from via PaperGirl

Now this is a super easy recipe so don't laugh.  We were at Slick's current favorite Mexican restaurant- Lupita's in Redondo Beach- and were watching the Texas Rangers whip up on the St Louis Cardinals in game 5 of the 2011 World Series- no need to mention how the rest of the series went- and were starving so being the take charge kind of girl I am, I ordered Cheesy Chips.  When they came to the table were skeptical right up until we took the first bite.

Cheesy Chips

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spread corn chips of your choice in a single layer.  Cover with desired amount of freshly grated jack cheese.  Bake in preheated 450 degree oven until cheese is melted and bubbly   Serve with sour cream and salsa...  yummmmmmmm.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We have a few neighborhood birds

In many neighborhoods they have wildlife and ours is no exception, it's just that our species is exceptional.

We have the loveliest birds.


Before we got here people warned us against moving to the hood of the loud birds- and when we first moved we noticed their morning wake up calls, but now we don't unless we are specifically listening for them and instead look forward to seeing them.  The Peep and I usually see them in the morning if we are going to see them at all- though they will occasionally make a late afternoon appearance.

We've begun a Peacock Count and just so you know, today's is 10.