Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Milkshakes and Movies



--- 1 ---

If you're looking for a pumpkin milk shake, you can skip Wendy's .  They never carried them.  You can skip Sonic.  They don't have them this year.  You can skip McDonald's. 

They stopped carrying them because they had to make room for their EGG NOG SHAKE.  C'MON PEOPLE!  IT'S OCTOBER 19TH.  We're not even in the twenties yet.  We haven't had the only two pumpkin holidays of the year yet, and McDonald's has already begun celebrating Christmas, or the Winter Fest, or whatever they're not calling it this year.

Bah humbug.
--- 2 ---
 
Take a deep breath.  Everything is going to be fine.

The good news is that you can still get pumpkin milkshakes at Dairy Queen and Culvers. 

Feel better now?  So do I.  Moving on...

--- 3 ---

Peter and Susan are at the Halloween Dance for (your) Life, proceeds benefitting The Women's Center, here in Chicago.

Lucy is baking things at her volleyball coaches' house to sell at her Volley for the Cure tomorrow, benefitting Alexian Brothers Breast Cancer Center.  Nope, none of that Susan G. funny business.

The Chef is at his manchild softball game that will render him completely useless the rest of the weekend, but this is the end of the season.  Huzzah!  That hole in the fence ain't gonna fix itself, and neither will that broken basement light.


So, Baby J, Edmund, and I are watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Gywneth, Jude, red lipstick, and WWII.  What's not to love?

I really enjoy films that are appropriate for the whole family. 

--- 4 ---

Last October, we watched this film, despite hearing it was awful.


 
We loved it.  The Village is scary, not gory.  Suspenseful, intriguing.  A real mind-bender.  


Then, we re-watched Signs, a classic.  Next, we checked out Unbreakable.  And we liked them all.


So began our family's annual M. Night Shyamalan festival, (my kids think the M stands for "mid").  There's something about the weather in October that is very conducive to watching thrillers and eating popcorn with candy corn.  Add a mug of hot cider, or a bottle of hard cider, and you have my idea of the perfect evening in.

--- 5 ---

This year I want to re-visit The Sixth Sense.  I think my high-schoolers can handle it.  I think the Chef is too scared to watch it again though.


Last weekend, we watched Lady in the Water, and for the very first time, the Chef was disappointed.  But I wasn't.  How could I be?  What with Paul Giamatti acting his little heart out?  He's absolutely amazing.  Plus, I am very intrigued by this character.


He only works out on one side of his body.  It's a scientific experiment. 

Yes, the monster/dog-made-of-grass was a little hokey, but that's ok.  Paul was anything but hokey.

For this weekend, I got The Happening from the library.


With Mark Wahlberg, it's gotta be good.  But with an R rating, it's not going to be family movie night.  That's what Sky Captain and The King's Speech are for.

--- 6 ---

When we run out of M. Night Shyamalan, and the end is near, I think we'll start on Hitchcock.  But not Vertigo.  That's too weird and trippy.  I much prefer The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest


--- 7 ---

Any other recommendations?  I've got a lot of candy corn to consume.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Unstacked Cake with Maple Cream and an Homage to Cook's

Eh.  Didn't get around to Quick Takes on Friday.  Sore throats, mine included, crusty noses, not mine but it was frequently rubbed on me, and second week in a row the washer is broken left me neither time nor inspiration for Friday QT.


But I did find the time to whip up this little creation on Saturday.  Pumpkin Stack Cake with Maple Cream

Now, that blogger in the link, she did a neat-o thing with her parchment paper.  I get out ye olde pencil and trace my pans on the parchment and then cut just inside the lines.  Different strokes...

Dire Warnings:  Should you make this delicious and easy cake, two things must be heeded.

First, pay close attention to the juggling of the layers post baking.  I left before all of my layers were done, and some less detail orientated folks might have cooled them upside down.  gasp.  Or cooled a layer upside down on the cake plate which then glued it there.  GASP! 

Second, DO not slice all the way across the cake!  That's how I usually slice my cakes, so the pieces are somewhat equal.  If you cut all the way across the cake, each piece topple and collapse and spill all over the tablecloth and you are left with Pumpkin Unstacked Cake.  Which also tastes good.  Disaster struck soon after the taking of the photo above.  So, trust me.  Just cut out one piece at a time.



This recipe, like 90% of what is cooked or baked around here, came from this magazine.  I have subscribed for nearly a decade.  I keep every issue sorted by month.  Every two months, I switch the pile of tattered, food-stained magazines out for the next season, putting the shiny new issue on top.  That way, I'm cooking seasonally a lot of the time, and we don't get tired of the same recipes.  Of course, we have our faves that appear frequently, like Mahogany Chicken (easy Asian dinner on the stovetop) and Deviled Chicken (easy SPICY oven fried chicken - we like it hot). 

And I have to subscribe online too, because it's so much easier for me to type "deviled chicken" or "glazed carrots" in the search box than to scan the indexes on the backs of the issues.

We also use their product recommendations.  When our corkscrew recently went kaput, I checked the recs on Cook's before ordering this gem from Amazon


You might think Cook's pays me to say such glowing things about them, but no.  Sadly, they don't.   I just had to renew my online membership like everybody else.  But it's worth every penny.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Quick Takes Feast of St. Faustina with Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins


--- 1 ---


I actually walked Cari's virtual 5K, with the Chef, the dog, and the baby in the stroller.  Sadly, I did not take pictures.

I'm in super great shape (she said sarcastically) because as Edmund observed, "You must get tons of exercise just walking around stores all day."  Babes and their mouths.

In all seriousness, I'm stuck.  Dietarily stuck.  In the last few months, I've tried less gluten, more paleo, and ended up more hungry, less satisfied.  And the seeds hurt my bad tooth badly.

According to that 90s diet bestseller, Eat Right for Your Type, my blood type is the only blood type that is supposed to consume dairy.  And I neeeeed dairy.  Especially with my gluten free tortilla chips (queso) and dark chocolate chip cookies (glass of milk).

Now I keep hearing from my redonkulously fit mother-of-four boot camp teacher about this "eat clean" thing.  So, my head is turned by that business and I just dropped a small fortune on greek yogurt, coconut oil, and evaporated cane juice which is actually really expensive organic sugar.

Here she is, with her beautifully fit family.  Oh, and I see her at daily mass too.  Yeah, she's perfect.  sigh.

At least eating clean doesn't eliminate any of the four food groups, except fried foods.  It also appears to be a healthy way of eating for the whole family.

Hmm, I wonder if there are any "clean" Halloween candies...

--- 2 ---


Everyone gets so jazzed this time of year about Stardollars Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Well, I've had it and guess what?  It tastes like coffee.

gross.

I much prefer the pumpkin milkshake at McDonald's or the pumpkin ice cream from Aldi.

I will definitely try the Culver's and Sonic shakes to compare.  I know you will need the results of my research.

C'mon Chik-fil-a, you've had that limited-time-only disgusting peach flavored shake since AUGUST!  Gimme some pumpkin!  I have a sneaking suspicion that they have to use up all the peach shake mix before they can change flavors.

Pumpkin is "clean," so everything pumpkin is clean too, right? 

--- 3 ---

When I fell in love with Downton Abbey, I explained the show to some people who hadn't seen it, and I was repeatedly told, "Oh, it sounds just like Upstairs, Downstairs."

In my head, I thought, "Silly people.   Downton Abbey is a period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs is a British comedy about a hotel."

It wasn't until this week that I realized I had confused Upstairs, Downstairs with the 1970's sitcom Fawlty Towers, starring John Cleese.

Oops.

This is not Fawlty Towers.
 
This is not Upstairs, Downstairs.
 
Lucky for me, I get to watch all of the remakes of Upstairs, Downstairs on Masterpiece Classic, and then I'm going to watch the original show from the 1970's on Netflix.

Huzzah for period dramas!

--- 4 ---

I plugged in Baby J for the first time today.

I waited until she was 17 months old.

Her obsession with farm animals, and the noises they make, meshed well with my need to take a shower, and the availability of Shaun the Sheep on Netflix. 



--- 5 ---

The Chef's family has their annual Oktoberfest this weekend.  I don't get why they get all München on us every year.  They're a bunch of Micks and I'll be one of the only Krauts there.

Ahh.  I think I just answered my question.  Micks + Beer = any excuse to celebrate. That's why I love Micks.

--- 6 ---

Back to "eating clean," the trainer makes snacks for us every Friday and sends us the recipes.  A few weeks ago, she made Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins.  I made them, and even the kids like them.

Yes, there is a greenish tinge, but you can't taste the avocado.  Not that tasting avocado is a bad thing...


Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour (I used the Ultragrain from Costco.)
3/4 c. organic evaporated cane juice (I used organic sugar from yep, you guessed it, Costco.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, because I have a ton of those.)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, or use olive oil mist spray.  (I used Aldi brand Pam.)
2.   In a large bowl, combine flour, cane juice, baking powder, salt.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, avocado, banana, coconut oil and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
4.  Spoon batter into muffin cups filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake for 25 minutes, checking for doneness.

This recipe is from the Clean Eating magazine.



--- 7 ---


I want to take my peeps to a Halloween movie this month, maybe Frankenweenie, maybe Hotel Transylvania, maybe both.  Not because I think either of those movies is something great, I just want to vote with my wallet against ParaNorman.  Also, I just got my tooth fixed and now I need a popcorn and candy corn fix.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Angels Watching Over Me

Lucy lost her North Face jacket.



Last Christmas, we had a technology-free Christmas that involved North Face jackets and Dover books.

I discovered her jacket was missing when she came downstairs dressed for school in my jacket, which she had not asked if she could borrow.  Her jacket was last seen in early 2012.  It had been missing for at least six months before we I noticed.

She also recently ruined her cell phone in a fit of rage.

And to top it all off, the hoodie I bought her at the Salvation Army just last week, got left at her last volleyball game.

I was steamed.  So, I lectured her about her inability to care for her belongings and her spoiled rottenness.  I also told her she owed me mucho buckso, for the repair cost of the phone, the replacement cost of her jacket, and the $2.50 I spent on the hoodie. 

Next, I started making phone calls.  I started with the grandmothers.  I called my mom on her birthday, which also happened to be the Feast of the Little Flower and asked if by any chance had we left the jacket there in March, and not discovered it in our dozen or so trips to STL since then.  She said she hadn't seen it, but that I should ask Lucy's guardian angel to tell her where it is.

That night when I picked Lucy up from volleyball practice, I sent her back into the gym to get the left-behind hoodie.  We had a "discussion" about the location of the lost and found box.  She claimed it was in the cafeteria, but I know the Athletic Department has their own box.

She finally went back in and came out with the hoodie and said,"I found the box and my hoodie was on top, and when I picked it up, guess what was underneath?" as she waved the missing North Face around with glee.

This event happened on the eve of the Feast of the Guardian Angels.



Fist Bump to the Angels, and St. Therese too.




Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Milkshakes and Movies



--- 1 ---

If you're looking for a pumpkin milk shake, you can skip Wendy's .  They never carried them.  You can skip Sonic.  They don't have them this year.  You can skip McDonald's. 

They stopped carrying them because they had to make room for their EGG NOG SHAKE.  C'MON PEOPLE!  IT'S OCTOBER 19TH.  We're not even in the twenties yet.  We haven't had the only two pumpkin holidays of the year yet, and McDonald's has already begun celebrating Christmas, or the Winter Fest, or whatever they're not calling it this year.

Bah humbug.
--- 2 ---
 
Take a deep breath.  Everything is going to be fine.

The good news is that you can still get pumpkin milkshakes at Dairy Queen and Culvers. 

Feel better now?  So do I.  Moving on...

--- 3 ---

Peter and Susan are at the Halloween Dance for (your) Life, proceeds benefitting The Women's Center, here in Chicago.

Lucy is baking things at her volleyball coaches' house to sell at her Volley for the Cure tomorrow, benefitting Alexian Brothers Breast Cancer Center.  Nope, none of that Susan G. funny business.

The Chef is at his manchild softball game that will render him completely useless the rest of the weekend, but this is the end of the season.  Huzzah!  That hole in the fence ain't gonna fix itself, and neither will that broken basement light.


So, Baby J, Edmund, and I are watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Gywneth, Jude, red lipstick, and WWII.  What's not to love?

I really enjoy films that are appropriate for the whole family. 

--- 4 ---

Last October, we watched this film, despite hearing it was awful.


 
We loved it.  The Village is scary, not gory.  Suspenseful, intriguing.  A real mind-bender.  


Then, we re-watched Signs, a classic.  Next, we checked out Unbreakable.  And we liked them all.


So began our family's annual M. Night Shyamalan festival, (my kids think the M stands for "mid").  There's something about the weather in October that is very conducive to watching thrillers and eating popcorn with candy corn.  Add a mug of hot cider, or a bottle of hard cider, and you have my idea of the perfect evening in.

--- 5 ---

This year I want to re-visit The Sixth Sense.  I think my high-schoolers can handle it.  I think the Chef is too scared to watch it again though.


Last weekend, we watched Lady in the Water, and for the very first time, the Chef was disappointed.  But I wasn't.  How could I be?  What with Paul Giamatti acting his little heart out?  He's absolutely amazing.  Plus, I am very intrigued by this character.


He only works out on one side of his body.  It's a scientific experiment. 

Yes, the monster/dog-made-of-grass was a little hokey, but that's ok.  Paul was anything but hokey.

For this weekend, I got The Happening from the library.


With Mark Wahlberg, it's gotta be good.  But with an R rating, it's not going to be family movie night.  That's what Sky Captain and The King's Speech are for.

--- 6 ---

When we run out of M. Night Shyamalan, and the end is near, I think we'll start on Hitchcock.  But not Vertigo.  That's too weird and trippy.  I much prefer The Man Who Knew Too Much and North by Northwest


--- 7 ---

Any other recommendations?  I've got a lot of candy corn to consume.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Unstacked Cake with Maple Cream and an Homage to Cook's

Eh.  Didn't get around to Quick Takes on Friday.  Sore throats, mine included, crusty noses, not mine but it was frequently rubbed on me, and second week in a row the washer is broken left me neither time nor inspiration for Friday QT.


But I did find the time to whip up this little creation on Saturday.  Pumpkin Stack Cake with Maple Cream

Now, that blogger in the link, she did a neat-o thing with her parchment paper.  I get out ye olde pencil and trace my pans on the parchment and then cut just inside the lines.  Different strokes...

Dire Warnings:  Should you make this delicious and easy cake, two things must be heeded.

First, pay close attention to the juggling of the layers post baking.  I left before all of my layers were done, and some less detail orientated folks might have cooled them upside down.  gasp.  Or cooled a layer upside down on the cake plate which then glued it there.  GASP! 

Second, DO not slice all the way across the cake!  That's how I usually slice my cakes, so the pieces are somewhat equal.  If you cut all the way across the cake, each piece topple and collapse and spill all over the tablecloth and you are left with Pumpkin Unstacked Cake.  Which also tastes good.  Disaster struck soon after the taking of the photo above.  So, trust me.  Just cut out one piece at a time.



This recipe, like 90% of what is cooked or baked around here, came from this magazine.  I have subscribed for nearly a decade.  I keep every issue sorted by month.  Every two months, I switch the pile of tattered, food-stained magazines out for the next season, putting the shiny new issue on top.  That way, I'm cooking seasonally a lot of the time, and we don't get tired of the same recipes.  Of course, we have our faves that appear frequently, like Mahogany Chicken (easy Asian dinner on the stovetop) and Deviled Chicken (easy SPICY oven fried chicken - we like it hot). 

And I have to subscribe online too, because it's so much easier for me to type "deviled chicken" or "glazed carrots" in the search box than to scan the indexes on the backs of the issues.

We also use their product recommendations.  When our corkscrew recently went kaput, I checked the recs on Cook's before ordering this gem from Amazon


You might think Cook's pays me to say such glowing things about them, but no.  Sadly, they don't.   I just had to renew my online membership like everybody else.  But it's worth every penny.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Quick Takes Feast of St. Faustina with Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins


--- 1 ---


I actually walked Cari's virtual 5K, with the Chef, the dog, and the baby in the stroller.  Sadly, I did not take pictures.

I'm in super great shape (she said sarcastically) because as Edmund observed, "You must get tons of exercise just walking around stores all day."  Babes and their mouths.

In all seriousness, I'm stuck.  Dietarily stuck.  In the last few months, I've tried less gluten, more paleo, and ended up more hungry, less satisfied.  And the seeds hurt my bad tooth badly.

According to that 90s diet bestseller, Eat Right for Your Type, my blood type is the only blood type that is supposed to consume dairy.  And I neeeeed dairy.  Especially with my gluten free tortilla chips (queso) and dark chocolate chip cookies (glass of milk).

Now I keep hearing from my redonkulously fit mother-of-four boot camp teacher about this "eat clean" thing.  So, my head is turned by that business and I just dropped a small fortune on greek yogurt, coconut oil, and evaporated cane juice which is actually really expensive organic sugar.

Here she is, with her beautifully fit family.  Oh, and I see her at daily mass too.  Yeah, she's perfect.  sigh.

At least eating clean doesn't eliminate any of the four food groups, except fried foods.  It also appears to be a healthy way of eating for the whole family.

Hmm, I wonder if there are any "clean" Halloween candies...

--- 2 ---


Everyone gets so jazzed this time of year about Stardollars Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Well, I've had it and guess what?  It tastes like coffee.

gross.

I much prefer the pumpkin milkshake at McDonald's or the pumpkin ice cream from Aldi.

I will definitely try the Culver's and Sonic shakes to compare.  I know you will need the results of my research.

C'mon Chik-fil-a, you've had that limited-time-only disgusting peach flavored shake since AUGUST!  Gimme some pumpkin!  I have a sneaking suspicion that they have to use up all the peach shake mix before they can change flavors.

Pumpkin is "clean," so everything pumpkin is clean too, right? 

--- 3 ---

When I fell in love with Downton Abbey, I explained the show to some people who hadn't seen it, and I was repeatedly told, "Oh, it sounds just like Upstairs, Downstairs."

In my head, I thought, "Silly people.   Downton Abbey is a period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs is a British comedy about a hotel."

It wasn't until this week that I realized I had confused Upstairs, Downstairs with the 1970's sitcom Fawlty Towers, starring John Cleese.

Oops.

This is not Fawlty Towers.
 
This is not Upstairs, Downstairs.
 
Lucky for me, I get to watch all of the remakes of Upstairs, Downstairs on Masterpiece Classic, and then I'm going to watch the original show from the 1970's on Netflix.

Huzzah for period dramas!

--- 4 ---

I plugged in Baby J for the first time today.

I waited until she was 17 months old.

Her obsession with farm animals, and the noises they make, meshed well with my need to take a shower, and the availability of Shaun the Sheep on Netflix. 



--- 5 ---

The Chef's family has their annual Oktoberfest this weekend.  I don't get why they get all München on us every year.  They're a bunch of Micks and I'll be one of the only Krauts there.

Ahh.  I think I just answered my question.  Micks + Beer = any excuse to celebrate. That's why I love Micks.

--- 6 ---

Back to "eating clean," the trainer makes snacks for us every Friday and sends us the recipes.  A few weeks ago, she made Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins.  I made them, and even the kids like them.

Yes, there is a greenish tinge, but you can't taste the avocado.  Not that tasting avocado is a bad thing...


Avocado Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour (I used the Ultragrain from Costco.)
3/4 c. organic evaporated cane juice (I used organic sugar from yep, you guessed it, Costco.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, because I have a ton of those.)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, or use olive oil mist spray.  (I used Aldi brand Pam.)
2.   In a large bowl, combine flour, cane juice, baking powder, salt.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, avocado, banana, coconut oil and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
4.  Spoon batter into muffin cups filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake for 25 minutes, checking for doneness.

This recipe is from the Clean Eating magazine.



--- 7 ---


I want to take my peeps to a Halloween movie this month, maybe Frankenweenie, maybe Hotel Transylvania, maybe both.  Not because I think either of those movies is something great, I just want to vote with my wallet against ParaNorman.  Also, I just got my tooth fixed and now I need a popcorn and candy corn fix.  

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Angels Watching Over Me

Lucy lost her North Face jacket.



Last Christmas, we had a technology-free Christmas that involved North Face jackets and Dover books.

I discovered her jacket was missing when she came downstairs dressed for school in my jacket, which she had not asked if she could borrow.  Her jacket was last seen in early 2012.  It had been missing for at least six months before we I noticed.

She also recently ruined her cell phone in a fit of rage.

And to top it all off, the hoodie I bought her at the Salvation Army just last week, got left at her last volleyball game.

I was steamed.  So, I lectured her about her inability to care for her belongings and her spoiled rottenness.  I also told her she owed me mucho buckso, for the repair cost of the phone, the replacement cost of her jacket, and the $2.50 I spent on the hoodie. 

Next, I started making phone calls.  I started with the grandmothers.  I called my mom on her birthday, which also happened to be the Feast of the Little Flower and asked if by any chance had we left the jacket there in March, and not discovered it in our dozen or so trips to STL since then.  She said she hadn't seen it, but that I should ask Lucy's guardian angel to tell her where it is.

That night when I picked Lucy up from volleyball practice, I sent her back into the gym to get the left-behind hoodie.  We had a "discussion" about the location of the lost and found box.  She claimed it was in the cafeteria, but I know the Athletic Department has their own box.

She finally went back in and came out with the hoodie and said,"I found the box and my hoodie was on top, and when I picked it up, guess what was underneath?" as she waved the missing North Face around with glee.

This event happened on the eve of the Feast of the Guardian Angels.



Fist Bump to the Angels, and St. Therese too.