Monday, December 15, 2014

New Version Book Challenge

I'll most likely do the Goodreads challenge again for 2015, but I found this online and think I'll add it into the mix.

Hopefully the link works- it's a printable checklist for the Popsugar Reading Challenge.

Friday, December 12, 2014

This is what happens when I work a double shift and the office is TOO DAMN HOT

So, around the beginning of the shift, I posted on Facebook that the office was too hot and if it didn't start cooling off, I was taking off my pants. (I did NOT mention the shorts I had in my car to change into)

The responses to that ranged from "Whoo-hoo!" (thank you, Martin) to "Pictures or we don't believe you." (Be careful what you ask for)

About 3 hours later the temperature had actually RISEN 3 degrees, so the jeans came off. The shorts went on, and to amuse my friends, I took and posted a picture of my legs propped up on the desk. (From mid-thigh down so it looks like I'm running around the office in my underwear)

About 30 seconds after I posted it, my cell phone started ringing, the office phone started ringing, and my FB feed went nuts. The smarter of my friends figured it out, but still thought it was hysterically funny, especially as I've been in a very down cycle lately.
The more obnoxious of my officer friends started calling people and telling them to look at it. I've also been informed that a van load of guys on a stakeout nearly blew their cover when one found it and screamed "Holy shit, Mickey has lost her motherf'ing mind and is getting nekkid in the property room!!!" Amusingly enough, HIS SGT. was one of the first people to respond online.

So, if nothing else, I have at least had some fun tonight and made it go by a little quicker. And I'm sure I'll get an earful from my bosses on Monday...except for the one on my friends list who is probably choking on his beer.

If I ever figure out how to add photos to my blog, I'll share that shot. :-)

Foodie Friday- Pioneer Woman's Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole

Found here

Well, the new dish I introduced for Thanksgiving dinner went over so well that I decided to try another of Ree's sides. We used to make a broccoli-cheese casserole all the time, and I'm not sure why we stopped. Ree's version involves the addition of cauliflower and a different cheese blend than I was used to, but it's QUITE tasty!


Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 30 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 8


Ingredients


1 head (large) Broccoli
1 head Cauliflower
6 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 whole Medium Onion, Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 cup Flour
2-1/2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1-1/2 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese, More To Taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/3 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs


Preparation Instructions

Break the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets, cutting off the thick stalks as you go. Steam them for 3 to 4 minutes until the broccoli is bright green, then remove them from the heat. Set aside.
In a large skillet, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter and saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top, whisk to combine, and cook for another 45 seconds. Pour in broth, whisking constantly, then cook until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and add the softened cream cheese, salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and paprika. Stir to combine until the sauce is nice and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, making sure it's nice and flavorful! Keep warm.
In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Set aside.
Layer half the broccoli and cauliflower in a small casserole dish. Pour on half the cream sauce, then sprinkle on half the cheese. Sprinkle a little paprika on the cheese, then repeat with another layer of broccoli, sauce, and cheese.
End with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve warm.


Mom prefers Cheddar to Monteray Jack, so I'll probably try that next time.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Foodie Friday- Pioneer Woman's Butternut Squash & Kale

found here:

I foolishly volunteered to cook our post-Thanksgiving dinner since I had to work on the actual holiday. Mom was so worn out after the health care battles with Dad that she agreed to that plan. I had made grandiose plans for what we were going to have, but the CFS & a sinus infection kicked in, so those plans went by the wayside.

Instead of the turkey breast cutlets, pounded, filled with homemade stuffing and wrapped in bacon that I planned, we had the cutlets pan-seared and simmered in homemade gravy. The stuffing came from a box. Sigh. It was good with the gravy over it. And I cracked open a tube of crescent rolls for the other bread dish.

Usually we have a green bean casserole or the brussels sprouts w/bacon dish that I introduced to our dinners about 10 years ago. This year, I decided to try Ree's Squash & Kale dish. Why? No idea. I don't generally like butternut squash. But it had been on her site and the picture looked so appetizing that I kept coming back to it, and I thought I remembered both parents liking the squash, so I went for it.

Butternut Squash and Kale
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 10 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 8

Ingredients
1/2 whole Butternut Squash; Peeled, Seeded And Cubed
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Black Pepper To Taste
1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder (more To Taste)
1 bunch Kale, Leaves Torn, Stalks Discarded
Preparation Instructions
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add squash and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook for several minutes, turning gently with a spatula, until squash is deep golden brown and tender (but not falling apart.) Remove to a plate and set aside.
In the same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and add in the kale. Toss it around with tongs and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the cooked squash and gently toss together.
Serve as a side dish with chicken or beef, as a main veggie dish, or as a filling for quesadillas or sandwiches.




My cheats- I used a bag of squash cubes and shredded kale from Trader Joe's. If you go with pre-cut squash, you will probably want to cut the larger chunks a bit smaller. I didn't and wound up adding a little water to the pan and steaming the cubes to make sure they were cooked through. I also used Lawry's 17 seasoning blend instead of salt & pepper, but I did add the chile powder.


Verdict?

Dad said dinner was "Alright." That's code for "I liked it, but I'm not saying that because I don't want you getting a big head."

Mom LOVED it.

I actually liked it, much to my surprise. I knew I liked kale, but it blended really well with the squash. In fact, I liked it so much that the small amount of leftovers went home with me!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Random Interview Questions

The divine Gail Carriger posted a list of interview questions on her page, and I thought it would be fun to try to answer them myself. Here goes:

1. If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?

This Is NOT What I Planned: A Look At The Life Of A Broken Biracial Amazon

2. Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?

Not exactly. I do tend to plan trips around bookstore visits. I looked up stores in Toronto & London before I went to both. And the only reason I want to go to New York City is to go to the Strand bookstore.

3. Describe the best breakfast of your life.

One of the best ones was the breakfast we had on the day we went to Stonehenge. I discovered the joy of British bacon, sausage, and ham, fried bread, and sauteed mushrooms for breakfast. All washed down with strong hot tea. I loved it!

4. What is your idea of absolute happiness?

Ideally, waking up in the arms of Tom Hiddleston or Michael Fassbender. More realistically, it would be sleeping in as late as I want, waking up to a breakfast of bacon and pastries, lounging around reading and sipping tea or iced coffee with my silly cat in my lap, napping, Chinese for lunch, going book shopping and then coming home to a steak dinner, before going back to bed and reading until I fall asleep.

5. What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?

Butter Almond Ice cream. Fleischkele (old family dish, basically a fried meat turnover), my 500 count lavender sheets.

6. Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin?

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme...

7. Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?

This is as close to writing as I get anymore, so no real influence that I'm aware of. I'm blanking on the characters.

8. Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.

no answer for this.

9. Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?

All of the above!

10. In the For-All-Eternity category, what will be your final thought?

Well, damn....

Monday, December 1, 2014

Still here...

The last few months have kind of sucked. We got Dad home, immediately had to have him re-hospitalized, and now he's home again. So far, so good...knock wood.

I'm tired all the time. Chronic Fatigue and Seasonal Affective Disorder are a crappy combination. Dr. B. is at the end of his tether trying to figure out how to treat me.

Anyway, posting may be sporadic for the remainder of the year. I'll try to keep up, but no promises.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Foodie Friday- BBQ Beef & Mashed Potato Pie

Another good casserole, found here.

Ingredients


2 pound(s) Yukon gold or white potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-in. pieces

Kosher salt and pepper

4 tablespoon(s) olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 1/2 pound(s) lean ground beef

4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/2 cup(s) ketchup

2 tablespoon(s) cider vinegar

1 tablespoon(s) Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon(s) molasses

1 tablespoon(s) Worcestershire sauce

Directions

Place the potatoes in a pot. Add cold water to cover; bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt; simmer until just tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking liquid; drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Mash with 3 Tbsp oil, ¼ tsp each salt and pepper and 2 Tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid (add more liquid if necessary).

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Heat broiler. Add the beef to the onion and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon off and discard any grease. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, molasses and Worcestershire; add to the beef and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Transfer the beef mixture to a 2-qt broiler-proof baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Broil until beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes.