Monthly Archives: March 2011

Cheese-Stuffed Hot Dogs with Spicy Onions

Shhh… Listen!

Do you hear that? The crack of the bat as it sends the ball flying out over left field… The cheers of the crowd as the ball soars up into the blue sky, and out of the park… The exuberant sound of the announcer as he declares, Harry Kalas-style, that the ball is “outta here…”

That’s right, my friends, it’s baseball season!

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out to the crowd

Field of Dreams

"That's what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases - stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag." -Field of Dreams

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack

I don’t care if I ever get back

"Red, it took me sixteen years to get here. You play me, and I'll give ya the best I got." -The Natural

‘Cause it’s root, root, root for the home team

If they don’t win, it’s a shame

"Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." -The Pride of the Yankees

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out

At the old ball-game!

"Man, this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking. Just have fun." -The Sandlot

Hooray for baseball! Hooray for hot dogs! Hooray for Kevin Costner and Gary Cooper and Dennis Quaid, and Hooray for the dog in The Sandlot! Hooray for ballparks and mascots and announcers and favorite teams! Hooray for hot dogs! Hooray for baseball caps that 4-year-olds wear all day and night, even to bed! Hooray for Roy Halladay!

Did I say Hooray for hot dogs yet?

Cheese-Stuffed Hot Dogs with Spicy Onions

This recipe is from Rachael Ray

  • 4 hot dogs
  • 2 tbsp grill seasoning
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, sliced 1/4-inch think
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 hot dog buns


  1. Preheat the broiler. Make a slit lengthwise down each hot dog, being careful not to cut all the way through. Place the grill seasoning and hot dogs in a plastic bag; shake to coat. Place the hot dogs on a baking sheet and stuff each with 2 or 3 strips of cheese.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the brown sugar, chipotle, adobo sauce and salt and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  3. Butter the insides of the buns and place face up on the baking sheet with the hot dogs. Broil until the cheese is melted and the buns are toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Assemble the hot dogs and top with the caramelized onions.

If you cook it, they will come.

Don Corleone declared these hot dogs “super awesome” and “the epitome of what a hot dog should be.” I completely and wholeheartedly concur. These hot dogs are so good that every time I see the picture on the page I clipped out of Rachael Ray’s magazine, I decide we need to have them again.

The kids are happy to have plain hot dogs. The onions are very spicy, so I don’t even offer them. And that’s fine, because a night where all four kids happily eat their dinner without a single complaint is sooooo okay with me!

"You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball." -The Rookie

"There's no crying in baseball!" -A League of Their Own

"Do you want to quit, Tanner?" "Crud, No! I want to play ball!" -The Bad News Bears

Here’s to baseball and hot dogs!

Go Phillies!


Healthy Tuna Casserole

Steve McQueen, were he still alive, would have turned 81 on March 24. I think we should all take a moment to reflect on our favorite Steve McQueen movie. And if you don’t have one, here are a few suggestions:

The Magnificent Seven

"We deal in lead friend."


"Look, you work your side of the street, and I'll work mine."

The Towering Inferno

"It's a fire, mister, and all fires are bad."

The Great Escape

"You aren't seriously suggesting that if I get through the wire... and case everything out there... and don't get picked up... to turn myself in and get thrown back in the cooler for a couple of months so you can get the information you need?"

I’ve been thinking a lot about the question of what my favorite movie is. I have never been able to answer that easily. As I mentioned in a previous post, I adore cheesy movies.  But just because I can (and have) watch You’ve Got Mail 1,000 times, doesn’t mean it’s my favorite.

On the other hand, a movie I love that is generally considered to be a great Film isn’t necessarily going to be something I watch again and again, but can it still be my favorite?

How do you choose a favorite? Am I the only one who struggles with this question?

Anyway, I have to place The Great Escape into my top 5.  It might be my favorite.  I’m just not ready to commit.  My husband will probably be shocked to learn that my maybe-favorite movie doesn’t have a love interest plot line.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there isn’t even a woman in the entire movie.  But there are lots of cool guys.  Super cool guys, like The Cooler King.

So in honor of Steve McQueen’s birthday, and my almost choosing a maybe-favorite movie, I am serving an adventurous meal.  That’s right, I am going to be bold and daring, just like The King of Cool himself.  Picture race cars, motorcycles, reckless adventures and dauntless courage.

Tuna casserole.

You heard me.

Laugh if you must, but it truly is an adventure for my family. I haven’t made tuna casserole since I was first married. My kids have never had it. My husband learned years ago that although he loves tuna, every time he eats it, he gets sick. So the beginning of my cooking career was also the end of my tuna casserole career.  But one night I found myself at home with just the kids for dinner, and it was a Friday during Lent (no meat) so I decided to resurrect an old favorite.  With some changes.

Healthy Tuna Casserole

  • 1 12-oz package Wacky Mac pasta (you can use regular pasta, but it won’t be as much fun as saying, “I have to go to the store to get some Wacky Mac”)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cans (drained) white albacore tuna
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 handfuls chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and  cook for about 7-8 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add flour and cook for one minute. Add milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook for one more minute, then remove from heat.
  5. Stir in peas, tuna, and dill. Pour into ungreased 2-qt. casserole dish.
  6. Add drained pasta and mix well. Top with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Wacky Mac


I am such a lazy cook. I am just so terribly busy caring for my little critics! I keep the ends of loaves of bread in the freezer to make bread crumbs, but whenever I need bread crumbs, I’m too lazy busy to toast the bread and crumb it. So for this dish I crushed some whole wheat Ritz crackers on top instead. It was really good. Take that, bread crumbs!

I like tuna casserole with rye bread and butter. I guess because that’s how my mom always served it, so it just feels right.

Healthy Tuna Casserole

My adoring fans critics thought:

Curious George: This would be really good if there was no cheese, no grassy things, no peas, and no meat.

Sarah Crewe: It’s okay. The tuna tastes like chicken.

Batman: I think this is delicious!

Elmo ate every bite.

Don Corleone had a small taste.  He said: The dill is a nice addition. It’s like the tuna and a pickle met at a bar. It’s really good; I wish I could eat more.

My little Curious Georgewhat am I going to do about him? He hates everything. He’s the Mikey of my dinner table. I asked him that very question once: “What am I going to do with you, you hate everything?” and he said, “Mommy, I don’t hate everything. I like lots of things. I like plain pasta. And there’s other things I like, too, that I can’t think of right now.”

It does make dinner time an adventure, I’ll give you that. And those nights that I do serve plain pasta are such a treat! No crying 4-year-olds at the table! It’s bliss! I’m going to have to treat myself to one of those nights soon, to give my cooking ego a little boost.

Oh well. Happy Birthday, Steve McQueen!

"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting." -Steve McQueen

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Today we mourn the loss of an icon.  Elizabeth Taylor died today at age 79.

National Velvet

"I want it all quickly 'cause I don't want God to stop and think and wonder if I'm getting more than my share." -National Velvet

I wish I could write an obituary to honor her, but I wouldn’t be able to do her justice. I’ll just share some pictures instead:

"You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. She looks up to you. You're her oracle. You're her hero. And then the day comes when she gets her first permanent wave and goes to her first real party, and from that day on, you're in a constant state of panic." -Father of the Bride

"Seems like we always spend the best part of our time just saying goodbye." -A Place in the Sun

"Maggie the cat is alive. I'm alive." -Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

"There are never enough hours in the days of a queen, and her nights have too many." -Cleopatra

"I'm loud and I'm vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody's got to, but I am not a monster. I'm not." -Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

"Why, there's a wench! Come on and kiss me, Kate." -Taming of the Shrew

Well, you know what they say. When you are mourning a Hollywood legend, the best thing to do is to eat lots of pasta.

They do say that, right?

Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

  • 1 lb pasta, any variety (I used spaghetti)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 5 chicken sausages, sliced (I used garlic flavor)
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz package baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp garlic & basil flavored vinegar (see note)*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken sausage and saute for about 5 minutes, or until sausage is browned.
  3. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.
  5. Add pasta to pan and top with remaining olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss well.

*A few notes: One of my husband’s students gave him homemade garlic & basil flavored vinegar for Christmas, so that’s what I used. It was fabulous in this dish. If you have a flavored vinegar that you think would work, then by all means, go for it. If not, I would suggest red wine vinegar. Don’t be afraid to play around with the flavors to see what you would like.

A second note: I used dried sun-dried tomatoes. If you use tomatoes packed in oil, drain them, and then cut back on the olive oil a bit in step 5. You can always add more if needed.


Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

I have to say, this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I really love marinara sauce, but it’s so nice to have something different for a change. And I love sun-dried tomatoes, and don’t use them enough! And chicken sausage is so tasty and easy! Since it’s pre-cooked, you really don’t have to do anything to it. I just like to brown it for personal preference, and because I think it looks more appetizing.

The Critics:

Sarah Crewe: Mmmm! This is pretty good! The sausage gives it a real flavor.

Batman: It’s delicious!!!!

Curious George: It’s good, but I don’t like the tomatoes. They taste like red raisins.

Elmo: Me too! Me too! Me too! (She wouldn’t stop eating!)

Don Corleone: It’s a piquant and delightful blend of pasta and pig. Oh, it’s chicken? It’s a piquant and delightful blend of pasta and poultry.

Ah, well. Rest in peace,  Elizabeth. We will miss you. Say hi to Michael Jackson for us.

On a brighter note, a special shout-out goes to Steve McQueen who would be 81 tomorrow, March 24. Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

More about The King of Cool later…

Steve McQueen

Easy Hot and Sour Soup

Did you know that March is Music in Our Schools Month?

Did you know that students who study music generally perform higher on their SATs than those who don’t?

Did you know that students who study music generally hold a higher GPA than those who don’t?

Did you know that schools that produce the highest academic achievement spend about 20-30% of the day on the arts, with special emphasis on music?

Did you know studies show that students doing poorly academically caught up to, and even surpassed their fellow students in reading and math when given music lessons for seven months?

Did you know that high school students who are in band or orchestra are less likely to use drugs and alcohol?


Oops, sorry, just tripped while getting off my soapbox 😉

All of the facts above can be found at:

Yes, it’s true, music education is extremely important. Do you know what else is extremely important? Movie musicals! Like The Sound of Music!

One of the first times we went out, my husband (who was then just a cute college boy I liked) and I were going for a walk, and ended up at a gazebo in a park near our college. There we shared our first kiss, and I said, “This is just like in The Sound of Music” and he said, “I never saw that movie.”

I couldn’t believe it. Don’t worry, he has seen it quite a few times since, and really likes it a lot! (Really!)

"There were times when we would look at each other... I could hardly breathe."

I’m pretty sure this is exactly what we looked like that night back in  college 🙂

Easy Hot and Sour Soup

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup pork, cooked and diced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes*
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, drained
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • scallions, sliced, for serving

*We like our soup really hot. You might want to start with 1/4 tsp and add more later.


  1. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat to a simmer.
  2. Add pork and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. While simmering, combine oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add to broth.
  4. Add bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and cook for about another 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
  5. Garnish with green onions.

Hot and Sour Soup

Don Corleone and I really love this soup.  I usually make it for lunch for us.  One time I asked the kids if they wanted to try it, and they politely declined.  It’s okay, it’s pretty hot, so I wasn’t going to make them eat it.  Plus, it’s nice to eat lunch without hearing, “How come you get to have that and we don’t???”

"Silver white winters that melt into springs/ These are a few of my favorite things"

"You brought music back into the house. I had forgotten."

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with the children. Only the governesses."

"Do, a deer, a female deer/Re, a drop of golden sun..."

"My fellow Austrians, I shall not be seeing you again perhaps for a very long time. I would like to sing for you now... a love song. I know you share this love. I pray that you will never let it die."

Wow, it was really hard to narrow down images from this movie!

"The hills are alive with the sound of music"

And finally…

People are weird:

And last but not least… Nothing says hilarity like a cat in a Julie Andrews pose:

Happy Music in Our Schools Month 😀






Cheesy Chicken and Ham Bake

Whoa, Momma! I have two words for you.

Comfort. Food.

Get out your slippers and your snuggle blankie because this is one of those meals that makes you want to forget your troubles and curl up on the couch with a plate of cheesy goodness.

This dish is called “cheesy” for a reason. Because it’s loaded with cheese. But that’s not the only kind of cheesy I’ll be discussing today. One definition of “cheesy” I found is:

of poor quality through being overdramatic, excessively emotional or clichéd

Boy, do I love cheesy movies. In fact, I love cheesy movies so much that I’m having a hard time narrowing down my favorites.  So I will randomly pick a few and revisit the topic sometime in the future.

1. Mannequin

"That teaches him to mess with a man and his mannequin."

Long before Kim Cattrall was wreaking havoc in New York City with her girlfriends, she was wreaking havoc in a department store with Andrew McCarthy as a mannequin come to life. It’s pure gold!

2. Dirty Dancing

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

She did it! She did the lift! Every time I watch, my heart leaps into my throat in anticipation, but she nails it every single time! Way to go, Baby!

3. 13 Going on 30

"I'll have a Pina Colada, not virgin. Wanna see my ID? Totally have it!"

Genius idea- a 13 year-old-girl magically becomes herself at 30… and many shenanigans ensue! Okay, maybe it’s not completely original. But I don’t care. I LOVE this movie. It’s one of my bad day go-tos.

4. Clueless

"Okay, so you're probably going, "Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?" But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl."

Mel: You mean to tell me that you argued your way from a C+ to an A-?
Cher: Totally based on my powers of persuasion, you proud?
Mel: Honey, I couldn’t be happier than if they were based on real grades.

Such a cute movie!

5. The Brady Bunch Movie

"Put on your Sunday best, kids; we're going to Sears!"

The title and picture say it all.

Which brings us to…

Cheesy Chicken and Ham Bake

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 5 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 2 oz. swiss cheese, cubed
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, dvided
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 2 cups cooked, diced ham
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Cook and drain macaroni.
  2. Combine bread crumbs,  1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 tbsp melted butter in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. While macaroni is cooking, melt 4 tbsp butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour in milk and bring to a boil. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in cheddar, swiss, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Stir until melted. Mix in chicken and ham.
  5. Pour the drained macaroni into a 9×13-inch ungreased baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the whole dish and top with tomato slices. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Cheesy Chicken and Ham Bake

"You gave us too many vegetables"

This is what they serve in heaven on the cheese cloud, right in between the french fry cloud and the giant “All Exercise is Strictly Prohibited” sign. Not all of my critics were quite as enthusiastic, however:

Sarah Crewe: It is extremely unique and pretty good. (High praise, indeed)

Batman: It’s a little too cheesy and I don’t really like it. (He’s the one that doesn’t like cheese, so no surprise there)

Curious George: It’s good. Do I have to eat all my vegetables?

Elmo loved it. She’s getting to be a better eater every day!

Don Corleone: Is one of the ingredients ‘deliciousness?’ This might be my death row meal. (We all should have one, just in case)

6. Titanic

"They've got you trapped, Rose. And you're gonna die if you don't break free. Maybe not right away because you're strong but... sooner or later that fire that I love about you, Rose... that fire's gonna burn out..."

Oh, come on! We all loved that movie when it came out! It wasn’t until years later that it became “cheesy!”

Here’s wishing you a very cheesy day!




Hearty Irish O’ Chili and Irish Candy Potatoes

Top o’ the mornin’, to ya, from The O’Critics in Me Kitchen!

"A fine soft day in the spring, it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late as usual, and himself got off. He didn't have the look of an American tourist at all about him. Not a camera on him; what was worse, not even a fishin' rod." -The Quiet Man

It’s unfortunate, but true. There’s not too much about Irish food that I find appealing. Or, I should say, Irish food that I know about.  I spent a lot of time in the last few years searching the internet for a St. Patrick’s Day meal but the two ideas that kept coming up again and again are corned beef with cabbage and Irish stew.

My husband doesn’t like corned beef, and I just can’t get excited about stew. And I wanted a St. Patrick’s Day dinner that I could get excited about.

I toyed with the idea of making an Irish fry-up, with eggs and hash browns and sausage, and other fried goodies, but my inner Jiminy Cricket just wouldn’t allow it.

So I decided to take my chili recipe and Irish it up a bit. I’m not sure the Irish are known for their chili. But I won’t tell if you won’t.

"I declare my soul, when I tell 'em this, down at the pub, they won't believe a word of it." -Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hearty Irish O’Chili

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs beef stew pieces
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bottle (1 1/2 cups) Guiness (see note)*
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, slightly drained
  • 2 15-oz cans potatoes, drained and diced


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add beef and onion and cook until beef is almost fully cooked.  It will continue to cook while the chili simmers.
  2. Add the chili powder through bay leaves. Cook and stir for one minute.
  3. Stir in beer, stock, tomatoes, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat.  Simmer 1 hour.
  4. Uncover and cook an additional 30 minutes, to thicken. Discard bay leaves.

*Note about the Guiness: This recipe calls for one bottle. I’m totally okay with it if you want to use slightly more than one bottle. Just do everything the same, but insert the following dialogue, spoken loudly from your kitchen, for all to hear:

“Well, would you look at that! I had to open a second bottle of Guiness for just a few drops! What a waste! [sigh loudly] I guess I will just have to take one for the team and finish the bottle while I cook.”

Good job, that was very convincing!

"Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry." -The Committments

There may have been a slight disagreement with my husband over the potatoes.  See, I opened a can of sliced potatoes, and dumped them into the pot. Don Corleone came over and said, “Oh, you have to chop those!” And I said, “But I don’t feel like it” and he said, “No, really, you should.” And I said, “Fine you do it,” and he said, “Fine, I will” and that’s the story of how the potatoes got to be diced.

Don Corleone dices potatoes

I know he was right, but I’m just so darn lazy efficient always looking for shortcuts just wanted him to do it eh, lazy works.

Finian's Rainbow

"Green is the color of the shamrocks /and the grass on Blarney hill / Oh, the darlin' green of Ireland /and the good old dollar bill." -Finnian's Rainbow

I knew this would be a tough one. As I said in my Groundhog Day post, more than half my critics don’t like chili. But the ones that count do, so too bad for the rest 😉

Irish Chili

Don Corleone: It’s good. It’s what they would serve at the wedding of Pancho Villa and Margaret O’Hara

Sarah Crewe: It’s pretty good.

Batman: It’s good. Yeah, it’s really good!

Curious George: I don’t really like it.

Elmo: Yeah. My soup. (She ate her whole bowl)

I thought it was good; a change from regular chili. It was not spicy at all. The potatoes made an interesting addition. It was almost a stew, but with enough chili flavor to be called “chili.”

"The sea is a sickness and you two will come to grieve for it!" -The Secret of Roan Inish

We also had Irish Soda Bread for dinner. I found a super easy recipe here. Notice the little hands trying to grab the bread? That would be my little Elmo.

Irish Soda Bread

For dessert:

Irish Candy Potatoes

  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • cinnamon


  1. Mix together the milk, coconut, vanilla, and salt.
  2. Add powdered sugar, slowly, until dough is easy to work with and not too sticky. Roll into balls, and roll balls in cinnamon. Place on waxed paper.

Irish Candy Potatoes

They’re so cute! They look like miniature potatoes. Unless you’re this guy, then they look gigantic:

Gigantic potatoes

I hope you all have a very fun, blessed St. Patrick’s Day!

Waking Ned

"We find the winner and make sure we are their best friend when they cash the check." -Waking Ned Devine

I’ll leave you with a little Irish humor:

Paddy O’Connor finds a Genie lamp and rubs it. Out comes the Genie and asks “Master you have released me from the lamp and I grant you three wishes, what would you like”

Paddy scratches his head, then answers “A bottle of Guinness that never gets empty. “Granted master” retorted the Genie and produced the bottle. Paddy was delighted and got drunk on this one magic Guiness bottle for weeks then he remembered that he had two other wishes. He rubbed the lamp again and the Genie appeared. “Yes master, you have two more wishes, what would you like?” “You know that magic, never ending Guinness bottle” he asks the Genie. “Well, for my final two wishes, I’d like another two of them”

Slow down, there, little guy. This bottle has an end:

Where's the beer?

May your home be filled with laughter
May your pockets be filled with gold
And may you have all the happiness
Your Irish heart can hold.


Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

I have a friend who is the kindest, sweetest person you could ever meet. She never has a bad word to say about anyone, even people she doesn’t know. Whenever a celebrity gets into trouble, she says, “Oh, that poor girl! She really needs help, it’s such a shame what happened to her.”

It makes me feel bad, because most likely, earlier in the day, I referred to that same celebrity as “jerk,” “idiot,” or the Bugs Bunny classic, “maroon.”

I haven’t talked to my friend yet about Charlie Sheen, but I’m certain she’d be somewhat sympathetic.

She is a much better person than I.

Charlie Sheen, what a mah-roon!

Remember Lucas? He was so dreamy in that movie.  And he was nice.  It wasn’t his fault that Maggie liked him and not Lucas. Corey Haim (may he rest in peace) never stood a chance.

"Are you interested in being kissed?"

So, anyway, enough about Charlie Sheen. Seriously! Enough about Charlie Sheen already!

This slow cooker chicken is really, really good. I will probably never roast a chicken in the oven again. It’s so much easier to plop it in the crockpot in the morning and then forget about it, instead of having to carve out several hours in the afternoon to watch it in the oven.

Did you like how I used the word “carve” when talking about a chicken? The word popped into my head, and for the life of me, I just couldn’t think of any other word.

"Either you're an athlete or you're not an athlete."

Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

This recipe is from

  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  1. Skin the chicken and discard all the yucky stuff from the cavity.
  2. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl and rub all over the chicken, inside and out. I only do out. I just can’t put my hand inside that chicken and rub spices in there. I just can’t.  Put the garlic and onion pieces inside the bird. Place the whole thing, breast side down, into the crockpot.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

Sometimes I make this and we eat it with traditional sides, like stuffing and mashed potatoes. But it’s also good to just carve the chicken and use the pieces in another recipe. Last night we had chicken tacos, and tonight we had fettucine alfredo with shredded chicken.

"You can't ever make me quit, EVER!"

Wow, I got soooo many compliments from the critics when they saw the chicken! Curious George thought it looked “so good” and said “I am definitely going to eat my dinner tonight!” And I’m pretty sure Don Corleone was salivating when he came home from work and saw it sitting on the counter, ready to be carved.

Sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce

Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken


This is what they thought of the fettucine alfredo (just used a jar of sauce, nothing fancy).

Don Corleone: It’s good!

Sarah Crewe: I think it is pretty good.

Batman: I like it. It’s deliciously good!

Curious George: I kind of don’t like it. It sort of tastes like pizza, but I don’t like it.

Elmo ate three helpings, so I’d say that’s a “good” as well!

"Not everybody has to be beautiful to have someone fall in love with them."

Look at little Winona Ryder in her very first movie! Now she’s all grown up and shoplifting just like a big girl.

Boy, the things my friend could say about the stars of this movie!

Happy Cooking 😀

Make Room for Dessert

“Mommy! We have to hurry up and eat a bunch of desserts before Lent starts!”

Says my 8-year-old daughter, upon realizing that Lent begins next week. My thoughts exactly.

""I know, its a cake-y... There’s a hole in this cake." -My Big Fat Greek Wedding

We always give up desserts as a family during Lent.  So, in order to capitalize on the remaining dessert nights, I will share with you some of my favorite easy, weeknight desserts. The kind you can quickly throw together and then be named The Very Bestest Mom in the World.

My favorite is apple crisp. It is so easy! And it’s healthy! It’s apples! So what if there’s a little sugar involved? Sugar is natural. So it must be good. Right?

I use this recipe from Betty Crocker.

Apple Crisp

  • 4 medium apples, sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnammon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
  2. Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients (except ice cream) until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with ice cream.

"Well, let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie... thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds." -Ghostbusters

Another favorite fast dessert is brownies. I don’t usually keep brownie mix on hand, but I usually have chocolate baking bars, and can whip up a batch of chocolate brownies in no time. I love brownies. I usually set aside enough for us to eat for dessert and then quickly freeze the rest. Otherwise I’ll eat them all before morning!

And a frozen brownie packed into a lunch box will defrost just in time for good little girls and boys to have a lunch dessert.

I like this recipe from Hersheys.

Quick & Easy Fudgey Brownies

  • 1 package (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking bar, broken into pieces
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional*

*sometimes instead of nuts I add chocolate or peanut butter chips, or toffee pieces. Sometimes instead of vanilla I’ll use mint or almond extract. It’s fun to experiment, and really hard to mess up a brownie!

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Add sugar; stir with spoon until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour and nuts, if desired; stir until well blended. Spread in prepared pan.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares.

"We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” -Elf

One thing I’ve really learned to love is crock pot desserts. I used to have two crock pots, and I could cook dinner in one and dessert in the other. But my old one broke, so I’m back to only using one at a time. Gasp! If dinner is NOT in the crock, then it is free to make one of these fabulous desserts:

Peanut Butter Cake

Dulce de Leche


Triple Chocolate Cake

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix
  • 1 4-oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 16-oz container sour cream
  • 6-oz chocolate chips
  1. Spray slow cooker insert very well with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, eggs, and sour cream. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Scrape batter into prepared slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hour or on high for 3-4 hours.

Olive: Can I get the, uh, waffles? And, um, what does "a la mode-y" mean? Diner Waitress: Oh that means it comes with ice cream! Olive: Ok. A la mode-y then. -Little Miss Sunshine

The crockpot recipes come from Stephanie O’Dea’s website and/or books (; Make it Fast, Cook it Slow; More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow). I love, love, love Stephanie O’Dea. She is amazing. I consult her books not quite daily, but close to it. I used to think the crockpot was only for soups and stews.

But now I know it is also for chocolate cake.

Marty: Twinkies and wine? Oh, that's real class, Jan. Jan: It says right here it's a dessert wine. -Grease

I will warn you now, so you don’t call me on it later. There is an exception to our No Desserts During Lent rule. St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, so we make a teeny allowance for 1. Irish candy potatoes and 2. Shamrock Shakes. Not at the same time. So technically, there are two exceptions.

But my sister did promise me that if I do a 3-mile run with her on Saturday then I can have a Shamrock Shake as a reward. And that’s still before Lent starts.

"But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real; if it's out of the can then nothing." -When Harry Met Sally

Oh, I almost forgot. The critics are always unanimous about dessert. “Yummm!”

As if there was any doubt 🙂

Happy Dessert-ing 😀