Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Up...

I might have mentioned that it has been a rather long week
without my beloved husband as a tag team partner... 

He finally flew back from London yesterday
and I made the eager, yet ill thought out choice to take the kids
to pick him up at the airport... 

I was smart enough to not make the kids
wait for him in the airport lobby,
yet I was too dim to figure in the time through baggage claim and customs... 

As we sat parked in the cell phone lot for the better part of an hour,
my lovely, well behaved, poised children
recorded themselves saying potty words
and emitting bathroom noises...

They screamed with unrestrained glee
at hearing themselves spew inappropriate noises and words,
over and over again,
with various techno effects added... 

In our house, certain potty words have a penalty of one quarter
in the Potty Word Jar, per offense... 

Jack racked up $8.00 in less than forty five minutes... 

Kate brought up the rear
(no pun intended)
with a grand total of  three dollars worth of bathroom language... 

They poked and prodded each other until my jaw hurt
from gritting my teeth together... 

Just to create a change of scenery,
I drove over to the international terminal... 

By the 6th orbit, Tom finally emerged from the building... 

I am sure the look on my face caused him
to ponder whether he could turn around
and catch another flight, anywhere... 

By the time we arrived home in the O'Hare Sunday exodus traffic,
Tom's jaw looked tight, too.... 

These kids were fired up and frenzied...

Now I really don't ask for much,
but there are a few rare times
when the TV is all mine...

The Tournament of Roses Parade,
The Season Finale of Top Chef
and Oscar night. 

That's it... 

Sponge Bob and iCarly rule the rest of the time,
but please let me have those shows... 

When Jack realized that his shoot 'em up video game
was being preempted by the Red Carpet,
he turned into Linda Blair...

I buried myself in dinner preparation
(placing a pizza order)
while Tom somehow jedi mind tricked him
into watching some Disney mermaid series
with Kate in the living room... 

One would think that this is where the story ends,
but no, my patient Friend,
we were not able to critique the gowns in peace... 

The kids had their own version of Fight Club
in the next room, bouncing, tickling, crying and fighting
for the next hour... 

Try as we might, we could not settle them down... 

It was as if there was amphetimines in the meatballs I served them for dinner... 

The final straw came when Kate tiptoed into the den
to announce that the rip in the leather sofa
I laboriously repaired a few weeks ago
had given way again... 

Sermons about not using my threadbare furniture
as a jungle gym came home
and now it was my turn
at Linda Blair impressions... 

Needless to say, our poor tenants who live below us
are accustomed to much noise and discord,
but this had to have been fine, Oscar worthy entertainment
as we yelled and stomped our own feet... 

Kids were sent to bed post haste
and we drained the bottle of Pinot G. 

I felt horrible... 

I don't want to be a mommy that yells all the time,
but the confluence of events sent me over the edge...   

All involved have since apologized, hugged and made up,
but since I am stuck at home,
accepting the delivery of a new dishwasher in the tenant's apartment,
I decide to cook a "make up" dinner for the kids... 

Here's what's for dinner:

Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce, Only Ree can dish up a soothing, comforting recipe. I am using pork instead of chicken tonight....


  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 whole Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 cup Brandy (or White Wine If Preferred)
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Grainy Mustard
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream (more To Taste)
  • ½ cups Chicken Broth (more To Taste)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions

Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so that you have eight smaller, thinner chicken cutlets. Salt and pepper both sides.
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cutlets on both sides until nice and golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken from the skillet and keep on a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic to the pan and saute it for a minute, stirring to make sure it won’t burn. Next pour in the brandy (or wine if using) being careful if cooking over an open flame. Then just let the booze bubble up and cook until it’s reduced by half.
Throw in the mustards and stir to combine, then pour in the cream. Stir in chicken broth, adding more if the sauce seems too thick. Taste sauce and adjust whatever you think it needs. Add chicken breasts back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Allow sauce to cook for another few minutes, shaking the pan if needed to move things around.
Serve chicken with a green salad, spooning the sauce over the top.
Yum and…yum.

Heart Shaped Roasted Potatoes:  These are so cute and the kids will love the hearts...

Courtesy of the Peach Kitchen
5 large potatoes
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried/ fresh rosemary
Spanish Paprika
¼ cup olive oil
  • In a pot, pour in water and bring to a boil.
  • Peel potatoes and slice them. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many hearts as you can.
  • You can include the scraps in cooking or you can also reserve them for some other dish.
  • Cook potatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain and let cool slightly
  • In a large bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil, salt, spanish paprika and rosemary. Mix well and marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Grease a baking pan slightly and spread marinated potatoes onto the baking pan.
  • Roast them for 20 minutes or until they are golden on the outside at 250ยบ turning as needed using a silico
Apple Sauce

Pretzel Bars for dessert 
Martha Stewart Living, October 2011


  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 3 1/4 cups salted miniature twist pretzels
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 4 14-by-13 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment.
  2. Pulse 1 3/4 cups pretzels in a food processor until powdery. Transfer 1/2 cup to a bowl; discard any remaining pretzel powder. Stir in flour and baking powder. Transfer remaining 1 1/2 cups pretzels to food processor, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in egg yolk, then pretzel-flour mixture, until combined. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped pretzels.
  4. Press dough evenly into pan. Top dough with 1/4 cup chopped pretzels, pressing slightly; discard any remaining pretzels.
  5. Bake shortbread until pale brown and firm in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let shortbread cool for 1 hour. Remove shortbread from pan, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide rectangles using a serrated knife.

May tonight will be one of peace, harmony and full tummies..... And no more airport pickups....

Sunday, February 26, 2012


It's been a long stretch...

 T-Money has been on the road since last Sunday, hitting the British pavement in search of customers...

While I sort of empathize with his long and winding road of sales pitches,
reminiscent of George Clooney's life in the movie "Up in the Air",
unlike George,
Tommy has a family back home... 

And at home, it's a long, hard campaign not for the meek... 

Between battles to get the troops out the door each school morning,
to complete homework,
to find the elbow pad to wear to lacrosse
or to remember the ballet bag,
this drill sargent is tired of shouting orders... 

By Friday I have degenerated into barking one word commands,
"Math!", repeatedly until my distracted and uncivilized recruits fall into line... 

It's a tough job and someone's gotta do it... 

While the Pinot G or Chocolate are decent crutches to help me make it through,
another salvation of mine is the errant craft project...

 I saw these wonderful monogram door wreaths on Pinterest, the new love in my life...

Don't worry, T-Money...  It's just a fling... 

Anyway, I just had to make them... 

The fantastic creators on Etsy offer them at a very reasonable price of $35.00,
so if you don't have the time nor inclination,
please purchase them here

I, however, viewed them as a challenge to make them on the cheap... 

I purchased an H for Herlihy and a L, for our tenant's door... 

No reason to subject them to our H, too, I say...

The letters were $3.99 each, with 40% off with my JoAnn coupon. 
I also bought a spool of green grosgrain ribbon for $3.25 and some felt that I ended up not using.  At the Home Depot I purchased two rolls of twine for $2.99 each. 

The paper for the flowers and the glue gun plus glue sticks were in my craft cabinet already. 

I was rarin' to go! 

The tedious part is covering the ends of the letters with short pieces of twine
and then the endless wrapping
to cover the whole letter. 

I tacked the twine with hot glue every now and then
 to keep it from slipping later. 


Making the paper flowers was the fun part and I found this excellent tutorial here on Pinterest. 

Do love the Pinterest, I must say!! 

Next I made the ribbon bows and tacked the ribbon hanger on the back
by gluing them to the back of the letter... 

Don't they look snappy for early spring? 

So, for about $9.00 per letter, I made them myself... 

Funny that I had to force myself to stop working on them at 11:30 at night,
when normally I'd be dragging my exhausted kiester to bed at 9:30... 

A good creative project gets my juices flowing!   

Speaking of salivating, This recipe rocked my world the other night....

A good, light meal that is so satisfying!
Asian Rice Salad With Shrimp
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Prep Time:30 min
Cook Time:10 min


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved lengthwise
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles and/or chopped peanuts


Whisk the garlic, ginger, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a large bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the dressing to a medium bowl, add the shrimp and toss. Add the carrot, celery and snow peas to the remaining dressing and toss.

Heat a large skillet over high heat and add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer to the bowl with the vegetables. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water to the skillet and scrape up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, then add the liquid to the bowl with the shrimp. Let the skillet reheat, then add the remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and stir-fry the rice until toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Add the rice and scallions to the shrimp-vegetable mixture and toss. Divide among bowls and top with the lettuce, sprouts, chow mein noodles and/or peanuts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Therapy

The last week and a half has been a tad treacherous
and it left me with sparse mental creativity
nor clarity to attempt a post or two....

I just couldn't muster the energy to be the slightest bit funny
when kids were barfing,
their heads re-sprouting colonies of lice
and while fielding reports of various family members
in emergency surgery... 

Oh, and there were the ten consecutive days of

All is well...heads are nearly nit free,
stomachs have calmed,
my head is at cease fire,
and patients are convalescing at home... 

The second battle of the laundry gods was squelched
and the infrastructure was returned to some normalcy,
just in time for Tom to leave the continent again... 

What got me through? 

Chocolate, of course...  (and maybe those glasses of Pinot Grigio...)

Below are a few recipes I made and enjoyed...

Pound Cake Tiramisu

This dessert takes just 15 minutes to prep.
Everyday Food, April 2010
  • Yield Serves 8
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or brandy
  • 1 loaf pound cake, preferably marbled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup shaved semisweet chocolate
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar until combined. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.
  2. In a 2-quart baking dish, lay half the cake slices in a single layer, trimming to fit. Brush with half the coffee mixture. Top with half the cream mixture and half the chocolate. Repeat. Dust top with cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Root Beer Bundt Cake
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine
Serves:8-10 servings


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 1/2 cups root beer
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan; tap out the excess flour.

Heat 2 cups root beer, the cocoa powder, chocolate and 1 stick butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the granulated and brown sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Combine 2 cups flour, the baking soda, allspice and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Whisk the eggs into the root beer mixture, then gently fold in the dry ingredients (the batter will be slightly lumpy).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a rack. Gently poke the cake all over with a skewer and pour 1/4 cup root beer over the cake; let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving plate and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup root beer, a pinch of salt, the confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the cake.

Kahlua Brownies

Yield: 16 brownies
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons Kahlua (or another coffee liqueur), divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 Tablespoons kahlua
1 Tablespoon whipping cream
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar (more or less), sift after measuring


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9x9-inch pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Prepare brownies: In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (pan shouldn't be touching the water). Place butter and chocolate chips in bowl and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, mix sugar, eggs and 1/2 cup Kahlua. Pour in buttery chocolate mixture and beat until mixed well. Mix in dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
5. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until top cracks slightly and toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean (it might be slightly gooey on the bottom of the toothpick- that's okay!) Remove brownies from oven and immediately brush warm brownies with 2 Tablespoons of Kahlua. Let brownies cool completely. I like to refrigerate them after they have cooled down a bit.
6. Prepare Icing: Place butter in saucepan and heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and add Kahlua & whipping cream. Whisk in powdered sugar until you have the consistency that you desire (you should be looking for a thick, smooth icing that is still pourable). Pour on top of cooled brownies and spread to edges to cover completely. Refrigerate until set. Chilled brownies are easiest to cut... use a large, sharp knife, wipe clean after each cut, and you'll get nice, clean cuts.

*Store brownies in covered container. They're best if eaten within a couple of days.Source:


 P.S.  I don't have a cat...but he sure is cute, huh?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicago Auto Show

Just like the latest You Tube trend,

Here is SH@%T You Won't Hear at the Auto Show...

"Wow, these six dollar churros are so worth it!"

"Honey, let's bring the kids to the Auto Show every year. It's so much more fun when they come with us..."

"It's not crowded at all."

"I'd come here just for the climbing wall,
and to watch my son get berated while doing 30 pushups..."

"This Mercedes is ONLY $160,000??"

"Check out the new Sway Bar!"

"That's okay, Mom, I don't need a souvenir."

 "Those automotive hostesses really do know what a limited slip differential is!"

  "Yes, Brother, I'd love to hold your hand..."

"Mommy, I lost my tooth!  If I put it under the seat, will the Tooth Fairy leave me a Jaguar?"

"You're right!  These Buicks are AWESOME!"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A New Life...

Recently I mentioned that the new TV for the living room
threw the whole house out of whack...

After hard wiring the new flat screen to the wall,
we (I) decided that it would look 1000 times better on the opposite wall.... 

Insert stony silence, then a defeated sigh... 

The TV is now temporarily on said opposite wall,
waiting to be properly wired...

I have no idea how to make the surrounding wall space look good,
but suggestions are coming in...

Muchas Gracias... 

Anyway, the big ole yellow TV cabinet no longer had a useful life
housing the old boob tube,
and I jumped at the chance to repurpose it into a craft cabinet...

Pinterest offered loads of lovely ideas for containing
all the crafting crap I have acquired over the years... 

Man, do I have a lot of stuff that has
been squirreled away
in various crannies of the house....
textured scissors, colored pencils, stickers,
glues, glitter (see last post), patterned papers,
punches, brushes, paints, etc...

Inspired to create a crafting haven,
I set to work, designing the interior of the cabinet... 

The most frustrating thing about many DIY projects
is that you need great tools to make the job quick and easy... 

Flash back to those "This Old House" episodes,
where Norm Abrams created his own six panel doors
in thirty minutes with $60,000.00 worth of tools... 

Lucky for me, I have the next best thing to Norm,
my dad... 

Mr. DIY to the T, he has enough tools,
gadgets and routers to build a Taj Mahal in ten days... 

My personal handyman at home is awesome, too... wink wink! ;)

I needed a shelf and some panels cut to my specifications... 

Here's hoping my measurments were accurate... 

One quick trip to the 'burbs
and I had my new pieces, STAT... 

I asked and it was built, solid as a brick S@&$ house, too. 

Oh, how I LOVE a handyman!  

I decoupaged faux bois wrapping paper onto the shelf

and covered the door panels with fabric remnants. 
They peek through the rungs of the cabinet and look pretty...

I then covered the back side of the panels
with pegboard to add some utility...
Next stop, Ikea, for the cool containers
and receptacles for the crafting items... 

Ikea is great if you have a list to fulfill...

Otherwise it's an overwhelming maze of similarly dazed customers
and their crabby kids...  

The kitchen resembled an episode of "Hoarders"
as I sorted and tossed the years of accumulated crafting things... 

Tom came home from work,
took one look at the kitchen and walked out of the room... 

Couldn't blame him... 

Finally, it all came together... 

I still need to fine tune the peg board panels,
but I am thrilled with the overall results...

The lazy susans work well to store the glues and buckets
of pencils, tools and pens... 

The small shelves adhered to the top back of the cabinet
are great additional storage... 

I love how the baskets underneath offer
quick and easy access for Kate's art supplies... 

Outside the cabinet, I installed a knife magnet for the scissors,
which are used constantly... 

The cork board is a perfect gallery for Kate's daily masterpieces... 

The cabinet is even roomy enough to house my sewing machine...

Some day, when we are able to gut this old house,
I hope to have a crafting room of my dreams, just like Martha's,
complete with her crafting furniture from Home Decorator's Collection... 

Maybe even Norm will stop by and offer some construction assistance... 

Until then, my cabinet will have to suffice... 

Good enough for me!

What's for dinner tonight? 

It's cccccold here, so we will be warming up to some
Chicken Vesuvio, asparagus and garlic breadsticks... 

We are almost halfway through February,
spring is on its way!

Chicken Vesuvio
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

  • Prep Time:15 min
  • Cook Time:1 hr 0 min
  • Serves:  4 servings
  • Ingredients


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
    Heat the oil in large ovenproof pot over high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches if necessary, cook the chicken in the pot until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl. Carefully add the potatoes to the same pot and cook until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the broth, oregano, and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    Cover and bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Arrange the potatoes around chicken. Add the artichoke hearts to the sauce in the pot. Cover and simmer over high heat until the artichokes are tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Turn heat to low. Stir in the butter. Pour the sauce over chicken and potatoes, and serve.