Monthly Archives: June 2011

Red, White, and Blue Potato Chips with Warm Blue Cheese Dip

I have been setting my alarm for 5:00 a.m. so I can go running. I don’t understand what part of “I’ll get up at 5” my body interprets as “let’s wake up at 4:21” but that’s what’s been happening. Why 4:21? Does that number mean something? Maybe I should play the lottery?

It’s too dark to go running at 4:21, so I just lie there in bed thinking how sucky it is to be awake. And then when 5:00 rolls around, the last thing I want to do is go out for a run. But I have to, do you know why? Because of these:

Red, White, and Blue Potato Chips

  • about 1 1/2 pounds red, white, and blue potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450.˚
  2. Slice potatoes into super thin slices. Use one of those fancy slicer-thingies if you have one. I had to make do with a knife. Poor me.
  3. Toss potatoes in a bowl with oil, salt, and pepper. I only used 1/2 tsp. pepper because I was afraid a whole teaspoon would be too spicy for the kids.
  4. Transfer potatoes to two baking sheets. Spread out into one layer on each sheet. Bake on bottom rack in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes so they don’t stick to the pan. When potatoes are as crisp as you like, remove from sheet and place on paper-towel lined plates.

While the potatoes are baking, get the dip ready:

Warm Blue Cheese Dip

  • 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:

  1. Stir cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth.
  2. Add half and half, garlic, and onion powder. Stir in blue cheese. Transfer to a small baking dish.
  3. When potatoes are finished baking, turn oven down to 350˚. Bake dip for 15-20 minutes.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Dip

Click here for a printable version

Holy Cheesy Dip, Batman, this was fantastic! You have to make this dip. Right now. I don’t even want you to finish reading this, I want you to go to the store to buy the ingredients and get cooking. Okay, I do want you to finish reading first. But then get cooking. Here’s what the Critics thought:

Don Corleone wouldn’t stop sneaking chips while they were cooling. About the dip, he said, “I want to run away with this dip without it’s parent’s permission.”

Sarah Crewe loved the chips, and politely tasted the dip and said quietly, “It’s good.”

Batman ate a more than generous portion of chips and dip. “This is soooo good!”

Elmo loved the chips but when I showed her the dip she moved as far away from it as she could and said, “No!”

Curious George has strep throat, so he had ice cream for dinner. “That’s no fair! Why does he get to have ice cream for dinner? I wish I had strep throat!”

I halved the recipe for the dip because I (rightly) guessed that only half of us would eat it. Later that night, however, I was wishing we had leftovers! The chips made enough for the five of us to have a side dish to fish. For a Fourth of July party treat, I think I’d double the potato recipe, but keep the dip as is.

I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but you really have to make this dip. Even if you don’t run at 5 a.m. You still should. Go!

🙂

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Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken Drumsticks

We are home from our beach vacation, and a good time was had by all. The kids love the ocean, and it was a lot of fun to see them splashing around in the water, and building things in the sand.

Now that we’re home, and I’ve had time to reflect, I’ve put together a list of tips for vacationing with little ones:

Things You Should Know Before Taking Small Children on Vacation:

  1. There is no such thing as too many bottles of sunscreen.
  2. Someone will drop their ice cream cone on the ground.
  3. Seagulls have bad manners.
  4. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the grandparents, “Oh, my kids never eat______.” If it is served on vacation, your kids will gobble it up as if they haven’t eaten in a week, proving you to be a liar.
  5. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the grandparents, “Oh, my kids love to eat ______.” If it is served on vacation, your kids will look at it as if it is the most repulsive thing on the planet, proving you to be a liar.
  6. When you get home, you will discover that you inadvertently brought half the beach home with you, at the bottom of the bag that you designated a “sand free zone.”
  7. Sand will get into creases on your 2-year-old that you never knew were there.
  8. If your 4-year-old accidentally walks in on you while you’re putting on your bathing suit, he might ask why “your bagpipes are so big.”
  9. Swim diapers aren’t that great at holding in poop.
  10. Uncovered electrical outlets are toddler magnets.
  11. When you get home and unpack, the dirty laundry will create a mountain of such magnitude even Marvin Gaye wouldn’t cross it.
  12. When you realize you are the one responsible for cleaning Mt. Washmore, you might cry.
  13. When you look at the pictures of the little ones on their vacation, and you hear them talk about their favorite parts, your heart will swell. (And then you’ll resume crying over the laundry).

Of course when you are home from vacation, life goes on, and you must cook dinner. I promised I would try this recipe, and I did:

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe comes from the blog Thirty and Thrifty. I retyped it here to show a few changes that I made, mostly because of what we had in the house.

  • 12 chicken drumsticks (mine were frozen)
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 20-oz can pineapple chunks, undrained

Directions:

  1. Place chicken in the crockpot.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low for about eight hours, moving chicken around every few hours if some aren’t covered by the liquid.

Crockpot Hawaiian Drumsticks

I served this with rice and a fresh can of pineapple chunks. It was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be! My Critics loved it. In fact, they were so busy gobbling it all up, that the most I got out of them for a comment is, “It’s sooo good!” Except for Batman, who said, “Don’t write that I said ‘It’s good,’ because that would be a lie. Write that I said, ‘I LOVE IT!!!!'”

Always so happy when a recipe is enjoyed by all 🙂

Gummy Penguin Cupcakes

We are going on vacation for a week with Grandma and Grandpa Corleone. We’re going down the shore. That’s Philly talk, for “going to the New Jersey beaches.” Look for me on upcoming episodes of Jersey Shore. I’ll be the cool one, unloading a cooler full of Juicy Juice and Goldfish crackers from the minivan. Yeah, that’s right. This baby’s got not one, not two, but ten cup holders! Eat your heart out, Snooki.

Before we leave, I thought I’d give you a glimpse inside the insanity that is my mind. Here is an excerpt from my to-do list:

Things to do (not necessarily in this order):

  1. wash every article of clothing in the entire house
  2. pack
  3. clean the bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and living room
  4. clean and organize the toy bins, putting toys in similar categories
  5. put away all the clothes from #1
  6. re-organize the game closet
  7. finally tackle that basket of ironing
  8. go to Sam’s Club
  9. go to Walmart
  10. decide if I’m buying that awesome blue bag I saw at the mall
  11. go to mall to buy awesome blue bag (I need it for packing)
  12. spend some time admiring new blue bag
  13. bake cupcakes for daughter’s summer birthday to share with class (done!)
  14. bake cookies I promised to bring for last day of school party
  15. go to store to buy cookies I promised to bring for last day of school party
  16. see if my bathing suit still fits
  17. stop crying and just pack the dumdum* bathing suit, already (I don’t think I’ll say dumdum, but this is a family-friendly blog, so I can’t put the word(s) I will say).
  18. run a 5K (done!)
  19. write a blog post (done!)
  20. wash and change all the bedding in the house
  21. finish reading Bossypants and return to library
  22. find the rest of the library books and return them

The sad thing is, this really is just an excerpt. These are just some of the things that I would like to get done before we leave. I know it’s crazy. I know it’s unrealistic. I know that if the ironing waited this long, it can wait another week. But I can’t help it. I walk around the house every day and see all the things that need to be done, and even though the list plagues me all the time, at vacation time, I somehow think I can turn into Superwoman and get it all done in a few days. 

By the night before our trip, my to-do list will look like this:

Things to do:

  1. pack

And that’s not because I got everything done. It’s because I finally decided that fine, okay, the toy bins don’t have to be organized before we go. The game closet can wait. I just need to get this dumdum mountain of dumdum clothes into those dumdum suitcases so we can go to the dumdum shore. (see ‘dumdum’ note above).

Anyhoo. You’ll notice that one of the items on my list is cupcakes. My daughter’s birthday is in August, during summer vacation, so she brought cupcakes to school today to share with her class.

I wanted to do something with candy on top, and my first thought was, Trader Joe’s Gummy Tummies Penguins. I puffy heart Gummy Tummies.

Yummy yummy in my tummy

Since it’s late, and I have 22+ items on my to-do list, you won’t be getting many details on how I made these. Basically, I baked cupcakes using a chocolate cake mix (yes, a mix. Hel-looo?!? Have you seen my to-do list??).

Then I made Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting from sweetsavorylife.com which is just so, so easy… and way better than the stuff in a can. I piped the frosting on top in two layers, and sprinkled with some blue sugar. I added the penguins, and voila! A perfect winter  summer cupcake!

Gummy Penguin Cupcakes

The other Critics were upset that they didn’t get a cupcake, so I promised I’d make them again soon. Awww, shucks! You mean I have to buy those darn penguins again? Rats!

Apparently the kids in the class enjoyed the cupcakes. Except Robert. He said he didn’t want one. I don’t know what his problem was.

Okay, back to my list…


Sausage Stuffed Peppers

I’m pretty sure my kids can see right through me. I think they figured out that I don’t know anything. I’ve never been good at acting. I just didn’t think they’d catch on so soon.

My parents know everything. When I was a little girl, I would ask them questions, and whatever they answered, I knew to be The Truth. Even if it didn’t make sense. I’m still not sure how my dad had to walk to and from school uphill both ways. I guess it was some strange cosmic thing where you live at the bottom of the hill but you’re also at the top…? I don’t know. All I know is, my dad said it, so it must be true.

Also, I’m still trying to figure out where they sent our dog Bingo. I’m sure it’s a lovely farm. I’d like to visit him.

As for my kids, I’m wondering how many times I can say, “I don’t know, honey, that’s just the way God made it” before they start whispering to each other, “Don’t bother. She doesn’t know anything. Let’s go look it up on wikipedia.”

I was hoping I’d learn some things before they become teenagers and really know more than me, but it’s all going by so fast, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting dumber by the minute.

I guess I should be happy that my kids are smart. And I am. But if I have to hear the words, “Actually, Mommy…” one more time, I’ll… Well, I don’t know what, because my brain already punched out for the night. But I’m sure it will involve  the “little Smart-mouths” getting “something to cry about.”

Even my two-year-old has added the word “actually” to her vocabulary. The other day she pointed to the book I was reading and said, “That’s mine.” I told her that no, it was Mommy’s book. But apparently her wise older siblings already informed her of my stupidity. She calmly replied, “Actually, it’s mine.” Sigh. Et tu, Elmo?

Sometimes when my kids ask me a particularly hard question, I just stuff their sweet, inquisitive little faces with food. It’s a win-win.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 lb Italian sausage (I used a mix of hot & sweet)
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 large bell peppers
  • 4-6 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Remove casings from sausage. Brown sausage over medium-high heat in a skillet, breaking up into crumbles.
  3. Drain the can  of tomatoes and reserve juices. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl. Remove sausage from skillet and add to tomatoes. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, and oregano. Mix to combine.
  4. Pour reserved tomato juices into a baking dish. Remove tops, seeds, and membranes from peppers. Place peppers in dish on top of the juice. Fill the peppers with the sausage mixture.
  5. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp mozzarella cheese over each pepper. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes, or until peppers are soft and cheese is melted. Serve with tomato sauce, if desired.

Click here for printable version

The Reviews:

Elmo: I don’t like it. (She was talking about the peppers. Actually she had several helpings of the sausage)

Batman: Mmmmmmm…. I love it!

Curious George: I tasted it, and I don’t really like it. Then: I sort of like it. Then: I like it.

Sarah Crewe: I like the pepper but not the stuffing.

Don Corleone: I love it!

I didn’t think the kids would eat this dish, so I thought four peppers would be enough. (Of course I thought that. I dumb, remember?). I think next time I’ll make six peppers and give each Critic their own.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Maybe one day I’ll learn some stuff, and then I’ll share it with my kids. For now, I think I’ll embrace my ignorance. At least it gets me off Homework Duty.

Summer Crock Pot Recipes

It’s hot.

I mean really, really hot. I think the temperature today reached eight-hundred million degrees. Roughly.

Of course, I’m a whiny baby when it comes to hot weather. Anything above 80˚ is hot to me. Once the temperature reaches 90˚, forget it. I’m done for.

I’ve had a stuffed peppers recipe that I’ve been meaning to share, but it’s been too hot to even think about using the oven. So instead, I’d like to share some summertime slow cooker recipes I’ve been collecting. Some of these I’ve tried and love, and others I will be trying very soon.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sooooo good! My whole family loves this. I don’t use pork tenderloin, as suggested, though. I usually use whatever kind of pork roast-type thing is on sale. You can even take it right from your freezer without defrosting (but you might have to cook it longer). Really tasty topped with cole slaw.

Easy and Tasty Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches Almost the same thing as above, but with chicken. Easy. Tasty.

Chicken Tacos We love tacos. I like this recipe because you can just take the filling out of the crock pot, put it in a tortilla, and call it a taco. Extra toppings are nice, but not necessary. For example, if you don’t have any sour cream because when you were standing in the dairy aisle at the store thinking ‘Do we have sour cream at home?’ and finally decided that yes, you do remember seeing some sour cream at the back of the fridge, but then when taco night rolled around and you removed said sour cream from the back of the fridge you realized  it expired three weeks ago, well, it’s okay. Skip the sour cream. It’s still good. Oh, and when your husband says, “Do we have any sour cream?” don’t yell at him. It’s not his fault.

I am also excited to try Creamy Chicken Tacos. The best part is, it has cream cheese in it, so there’s no need for any of that rabble-rouser sour cream.

John McCain’s Rib Recipe (in the crock pot) Haven’t tried this one yet. But I’ve been thinking about ribs A LOT  lately. Don Corleone isn’t a big fan of ribs, unlike the complete carnivore that he married. But I think he’ll just have to deal with it one night. Or maybe two:

Barbecue Beef Ribs Haven’t tried this one yet, either. But I will, I tell you. I will indeed!

Hawaiian Chicken Drumsticks. Oooooh…. I’m so excited to try this one! I love when the word “Hawaiian” is included in the title of a recipe. Even though Hawaii is hot.

I will continue to share summer crock pot recipes as I try them, and if you have any favorites, please share 🙂

Hope you’re enjoying the weather, wherever you are!

Brown Rice Krispies Treats with Peanut Butter

My 8-year-old daughter performed in her first orchestra concert the other day. Now, being a musician and the wife of a musician, I have been to countless orchestra and band concerts. My first as a performer was when I played the flute in the fourth grade band. Since then, off the top of my head, I can think of 27 concerts that I performed in before high school graduation. That doesn’t count football games or marching band competitions. Then all those concerts and recitals in college… phew! My parents came to every one, the poor dears!

Then I became a music teacher and I got to conduct these concerts. So I was a performer and a director. But this time I got to be the proud parent!

Let me tell you, Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star never sounded so beautiful in all my life.

For a special after school snack for my budding young cellist before the big night…

Brown Rice Krispies Treats with Peanut Butter

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 10-oz pkg regular size marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 cups brown rice cereal (puffed rice)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Stir in peanut butter and mix until well blended. Remove from heat.
  2. Add rice cereal and stir until evenly coated. Press into a 9 x 13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. (I used a star shaped silicone pan). Cool.

Click here for a printable version.

Brown Rice Krispies Treats

These were a big hit with my Critics. I like to make Rice Krispies Treats with brown rice cereal instead of regular Rice Krispies because I like the nutty flavor the brown rice brings. This was the first time I added peanut butter, and it was a success. Lots of “mmmm…”s and “They’re good!” even from Don Corleone.

A little star for my Little Star

Here’s wishing you a musical day 🙂