Saturday, December 31, 2011

Confessions of a Scary Mom

The back story:
Before the Yeti hatched, Red and I had a conversation regarding the Yeti being in school someday.  The gist of the conversation was that I was a pain in the ass in school (but did very well) and Red was a pain in the ass in school (and was expelled from multiple institutions).  Therefore, the Yeti is genetically bound to follow in our footsteps.  I quickly stated that if I had to, I would march my ass in any school, go toe to toe with any administrator, and defend my son (if he is right).  If he is in the wrong, then by all means, use any form of torture to get your point across.  Red quickly asked if I was going to be one of those scary moms.  Yes.  With out question.

The follow up:
My biggest baby related pet peeve is when complete strangers approach us and want to touch my baby.  MY baby.  Nasty, flu infested, rejected for employment as a carnie, type of people.

We recently went out at one of our local pizza establishments.  We went early so the place would be empty in case the Yeti had a melt down, it wouldn't disturb a restaurant full of people.  Fortunately, when we arrived, there were only two other women in the restaurant.  As usual, when my food arrived, the Yeti started snarling and he too wanted to eat.  He was in his car seat between me and the wall.  I whipped out a bottle and began to feed him and eat my turkey grinder.

I LOVE turkey sandwiches.  When I was pregnant, I didn't miss beer.  I missed my turkey and swiss with mayo and lettuce on whole wheat.  This was my first turkey sandwich since hatching.  It was amazing.  Maybe better than sex.

Continuing on...
While I was feeding the Yeti, the two women that were there proceeded to come over to our table to see the oh so adorable baby.  This was on quite 50 something woman and her quite elderly (and as was soon to be apparent) mother with dementia (I hope).  So, while we were eating, they stood at our table for several minutes, just staring at the baby.  Awkward silence.  Dirty looks getting shot both across the table and to our new company.  Then out of no where, said elderly woman, PICKED UP THE REMAINING HALF OF MY GRINDER and stated "Ooooo hungry baby might want this later."  SHE PICKED UP MY SANDWICH.  I was a deer in the headlights.  Frozen.  Speechless.  Shocked.  What do I do?  She was old, I couldn't punch her in good conscience.  That seemed to be the end of their visit and they went back to their table.

I informed Red that from now on the Scary Mom was unleashed.

2 weeks later:
My grandparents invited my parents and us to dinner at a nice restaurant for a pre-Christmas feast (like we need it).  As we were being seated, I set the Yeti down in his car seat on the floor while I was getting situated.  When I turned around, a woman at the table behind us, had turned the car seat so it was facing her and proceeded to begin removing the Yeti.

Insert slow motion.  I felt the veins in my head pulsating.  My skin turned lime green.  I felt my muscles begin to grow and my shirt seams ripping apart.  My fangs elongated and foam started dripping from my strained lips.  DON'T TOUCH MY BABY!  Echoed across the restaurant.  Silence.  Stillness.  I bent down, grabbed the Yeti, and continued to have a very nice meal of my favorite duck.

PS  I never ate the remaining half of my turkey grinder.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Funny Fridays

Its almost Friday (11:00 pm my time) so I thought I would share this, because it is probably something that would appear in my house:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fridge Clean Out Chicken Pot Pie

Ok, I think I've discussed I HATE wasting food.  Its my hard earned unemployment money going in the trash.  So what can I make with some almost gone by veggies, frozen chicken boobs, and one rogue premade pie crust?  You got it, Chicken Pot Pie.

Seasoned Salt
4 tbl Butter
3 tbl Flour
2 Boneless Chicken Boobs (well, 2 halves that is)
Whatever veggies are in the house that need to get used up fresh, frozen, canned, moldy...
1 pie crust
1 egg, beaten

1.  Season boobs with seasoned salt and pepper (or whatever your desired flavor may be)
2.  I quartered an onion and tossed it on the baking sheet with the seasoned chicken breasts.
3. Bake at 350 F until the internal temp of the chicken is 165 F.  I foiled it up so as not to lose any liquid from the chicken an onions as I did not have any chicken stock on hand and needed all the flavor I could get.
4.  When chicken is done, dice up your veggies and boil them until done.  I cut up about 1.5 cups of pretty dried up carrots and the same amount of potatoes.
5.  Melt butter in a skillet.  Once melted stir in flour, cook 3-4 minutes to get rid of that flour-y taste.  This is where that delicious onion-chicken liquid comes in handy, whisk it into the roux.  I then ladled some of the boiling water from the veggies into the skillet too.  Hey, its got some flavor right?
6.  Dice up chicken boobs and onions and add to the gravy mixture.  I also added a cup of frozen peas.
7.  Once veggies are done (fork tender) boiling, toss them into the gravy mixture too, sans remaining liquid.
8.  Add chicken gravy goodness to a 4 qt casserole dish, brush inside top rim with egg wash, roll pie crust on top and seal her up.  Cut slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape.  Brush pie crust with egg wash for that shiny golden brown awesomeness.
9.  Bake until pie crust is done (remember the filling is already cooked).

I had not made this before for Red and he loved it!  It was so hearty and filling!  He couldn't believe how much flavor there was for using up a bunch of crap from the fridge.  Maybe next time I will have some chicken stock on hand.

How the Yeti got to be just that...

Ok, so this isn't a long story, but I thought I would let y'all know how my adorable little son became THE YETI:

When we found out I was pregnant, we insisted that we would not find out what we were having until it hatched.  But, alas, my 20 week ultrasound rolled around, and we just couldn't wait.

So, doing what any normal person would do, I posed the question on Facebook what everyone thought we were having.  Of course, the usual boy girl votes came rolling in.  However, one individual/co-worker thought that it might be a Yeti due to the fact that Red is a larger than normal human being as are all the males on my Dad's side of the family.  Thinking this was hysterical, the nickname stuck.

Oddly enough (he was born October 25th) the night that we brought him home (October 27th) it was snowing out.  Very unseasonal for Vermont.  That weekend, we got the now famous Halloween blizzard that dropped 2 feet of snow across New England.  Obviously, God knew a Yeti had been born into the world, and had to provide him with his natural Himalayan habitat.

New Years Resolutions

In the spirit of this time honored tradition, I have decided to post my future broken promises New Years Resolutions.  Some short term, some long term, I will periodically post progress on these.

1.  Obligatory cliche lose the baby weight + a few extra pounds

2.  Will the black hair on my chin to stop growing.

3.  Get and stay more organized, specifically the pile of shit in our back room.

4.  Take better care of my teeth.  The dentist told me to only floss the teeth I want to keep.  I should probably do that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Buzz About Me...

I stumbled upon a blog that posts prompts every week, so every Wednesday, I'm gonna re-post her questions and answer them.

1. Do you like your middle name or are you embarrassed by it?

I love my middle name!  My dear sweet momma gave me her middle name (Lee).  Let me tell you, that is one easy name to spell when you are a little kid tryin' to figure that whole thing out.  Plus its fun to write in cursive, its all loops!

2. Have you ever seen a white Christmas?

Are you kidding me?  I live in the mountains of New England.  Of course I've seen a white Christmas.  Too many, in my opinion.

3. Looking back, have you accomplished what you wanted to in life up to this point?

Well, I certainly never thought I'd meet one guy to settle down with and have a little yeti.  I hate kids.  BUT I'm digging it.  I've done so many things that kids my age (yes, I'm still a kid, dammit) haven't done.  I've traveled the country and a the Caribbean, I've worked an amazing job inspecting bridges, I've met politicians and celebrities, and now have a family that I wouldn't trade for anything.

4. Do you prefer baking or cooking?

Cooking!  We've discussed that.  I sometimes wish my career path had taken me down that road.

5. What's the website you think you spend the most time on?

Now?  Blogger.  Formerly?  Facebook

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pot Roast Stew

I made this crazy good beef stew for Red on a raw rainy day and boy did it warm and fill the bellies quickly!  I named it Pot Roast Stew cuz that's what it be tastin like, Mom's pot roast.

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if necessary
3 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
4 cups beef stock, at room temperature
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 lb potato, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed


Combine oil, meat, onions, seasoned salt and pepper in a stock pot over medium-high heat and brown 2-3 min per side, remove to crock pot.  You may need to brown the meat in more than one batch

Add the butter to the pan and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan to scrape up any browned bits, continue to cook for 3 minutes.  Savor the flavor

Add the flour to the pan, stir to combine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the stock, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Once the stock boils, add it to the crock pot and set the temperature to high. Cover and cook for 1 hour.

Add the potatoes and carrots, and cook the stew until the meat is fork-tender, about 5 hours longer on high.

Skim any fat from the top of the stew and, if you prefer a thicker gravy, transfer 2 tablespoons of the skimmed fat to a small bowl, whisk in 2 additional tablespoons of flour; add a small amount of the hot gravy to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.

Stir this mixture into the stew and cook until stew is further thickened, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Stir in the peas, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary

I served this with a warm loaf of Pillsbury French Bread that I got couponing and it complimented it wonderfully.

Test Kitchen Tuesday

I'm going to do 'Test Kitchen Tuesdays' from here on out.  That means that I am going to try a new cooking technique or use a new ingredient or product.  

Last night at the grocery store, Red was looking for a substitute for granola bars.  Having taken them in his lunch every day for years has apparently gotten old.  So after he left for work this morning, I looked for something to make for him and found this recipe:

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granular no-calorie sucralose sweetener, e.g., Splenda ®
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
2 apples - peeled, cored and chopped

  • 1/2 cup granular no-calorie sucralose sweetener, e.g., Splenda ®
  • 2 2/3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 2/3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup sweetener, salt, baking powder, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup applesauce, egg, and milk. Stir the applesauce mixture into the flour mixture until just blended. Fold in the apples. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full.
  3. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sweetener, 2 2/3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 2/3 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup applesauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and oats. Spread evenly over the muffin batter.
  4. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

I was excited about this because I had bought some Splenda (on sale and with coupons) and as you know I have plenty of apples.

I followed this recipe exactly (other than to double it) and they are great!  They taste like apple granola.  The texture is a little bit more rubbery than cakey, but after the first bite, its not noticeable.  The topping is really good and something I've never had on a muffin.  All in all, I would absolutely use Splenda to cook with.  By the way, each one of these muffins has only 1.3 g of fat!

I got this recipe from:

Things I wish my cat would forget much fun it is to attack my feet, full claws, under the sheets.  Every morning.  For nine years.  Its the worst alarm clock imaginable.

...that I must be awake at 4:30 am.  Every morning.  See above.

...any water is better than the clean, fresh water in her dish.  Preferably the toilet water.

...all cabinet doors need to be open.  Period.  End of discussion.  Said cabinet doors will be jiggled until the humans open them. food will only be eaten when the dish is full.

...shedding is a way of life.

...the windows must be licked free of all frost and dew every morning.

...the blinds must be open during daylight hours.  The crying will not stop until they are. give me a look of disapproval when the baby is crying.  Its amazing how a cat can make you feel like a bad mom.

However, my life would be incomplete with out her odd behavior.  It compliments our household.  Someday, I will look back on it and wish she was still there torturing us.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A View into the Minds of New Dads

When we had the Yeti, we agreed that since my Red drives trucks and runs heavy equipment all day and that I stay at home and rarely sleep, that I would take care of all the night time wake ups.  I absolutely had no problem with this and it works very well.  No over tired heavy equipment operators, thank you.

Christmas day, after we finished our family obligations, we decided to just go home, watch a movie, and crash.  Recover from that holiday hangover.  Red fell asleep in the green sleeping pill, and the Yeti, who was wide awake, was expecting to be entertained.  So, when Red awoke, I asked that he provide entertainment so that I could take an uninterrupted nap for an hour or so.  I escape into the bedroom, shut the doors, turn up the tv, snuggle with my favorite body pillow and Snarles Barkley and blissfully drift off to sleep.

Insert baby screams.

I tried to sleep through it.  I just kept hoping he would stop.  We aren't talking fussing or crying, but that infant scream.  You know it.

Well, I guess that nap is done.  I enter the living room, eye brows furrowed, awaiting to attack the first thing that looked at me.  I made sure I stubbed my toe on the door casing just to make sure I was extra ticked off.

Why is the baby screaming? He's hungry, feed him. - Me

What is that?  Mom sense?  How am I supposed to know that noise means he wants to eat. - Red

We had a few hours of very nonexistent conversation until I decided we needed to go for a ride and see what there was for Christmas lights in the hilltowns before they got taken down.

Sometimes I get really frustrated because you spend so much time with the Yeti and know everything about him, but I don't. - Red

I felt bad.  I wondered what must really go through a dad's mind when he knows he doesn't have that connection that a mother and infant have.  I had to forgive him for interrupting my Christmas day nap and have a new understanding of what goes through his mind.  I'm starting to think men are more complex than women.

Baby Torture Device aka the CRIB

Before the Yeti was born, my Red's very generous mom took me to Babies 'R Us to purchase a crib.  We got a beautiful one that was modeled after sleigh style furniture.  At our pig roast/baby shower we got the most adorable bed set with monkeys on it and I couldn't wait to get his nursery all set up and decorated.  I couldn't wait to bring my little man home to sleep in his new cozy quarters.

Ok, so we had the Yeti, blah blah blah, get home, and put him in his crib.

Insert baby screams.

Tried that for a few nights, assumed (being a new mom) that it was normal for brand new infant to scream all night long.

Insert more baby screams, punctuated by hourly breast feeding.

Discovery, the Yeti sleeps in his swing during the day.  Light bulb.
If Yeti sleeps in his swing during the day, then Yeti sleeps in his swing at night = true, then Hannah gets some rest.  The equation was true.  So, we moved his swing into his room (next to ours) and it was like a big old bunny sleeping pill.

Four weeks down the road, stupid me decides I'm sick of tripping over the swing in his less than spacious room, and put him in his crib for the night.

Insert baby screams.  Back in the swing.

Hmm...poll friends who have children.

The following is a list of things that did not make my baby want to sleep in his crib:
Ticking clock
Lights on
Lights off
Night light
No night light
Re-wash sheets
Not swaddled
No mobile
No music
Hot water bottle under the sheets
No hot water bottle
Sweatshirt that smells like us in the crib
Crying it out (yes, he screamed for a full 8 hours)

I was resigned to the fact that the Yeti would sleep in his swing until he grew out of it.  However considering the fact that at 7 weeks old he is so tall he wears 6 month clothes, I figured his growth rate would put him out of the swing shortly.

So, every day, while doing what ever it is I do all day, I would put him in his crib (awake) for a few minutes every day with the mobile on.  He seemed quite content in there.  He even finally got to the point that he would fall asleep in there.

Success came when the Yeti was 8 weeks 6 days old.  I put him in his crib, at night, for the first time since he was 3 weeks old.  Mobile on, lights off.  Boom, he fell asleep.  I laid awake all night long awaiting the nuclear meltdown, and it never came.

It was one of my big moments of feeling like I actually did something right as a mother.  Thank god for small miracles.

Christmas Eve Chaos, continued...

As I was saying, I was having a rough day in the kitchen.  Again, in the spirit of not letting my apples go to waste, I wanted to make apple pie.  But apple pie is a pain to cut and serve so I searched the internet for another idea.  I happened across a recipe at Pillsbury for mini blackberry pies.  Why not make them mini apple pies?  They would be easy finger food for adults and all those little monsters running around opening presents.  Not that any of the kids I know ever eat anything on Christmas anyway.  So, I embarked on altering the recipe.  I would post the link, but the Pillsbury website appears to be down at this moment.

1.  Roll out a pie crust (again, I used a premade, I've referenced my pie crust anxiety before) and use a 2 3/4" round cookie cutter and cut as many 'mini crusts' out as possible.  I was able to roll it back out and get 13 out of one crust.  Also, I used a cutter with zig-zag edges for appearance sake.
2.  Spray a mini muffin tin with wd-40 (aka Pam) and put the 'mini crusts' inside.  Press down gently.  Don't do as I did, and form them on the underside of the muffin tins because you thought you read the instructions correctly.  This adds an extra step.
3.  Now the apple filling:
     a.  Dice up 3 cups of apples
     b.  Add apples and other ingredients to a sauce pan except flour (recipe below)
     c.  When the mixture comes to a simmer, sprinkle flour in and stir in.  Allow to simmer, stirring frequently for 15-20 min until soft
     d.  Mash gently (I literally did this only twice just to make sure the chunks of apples were small enough to fit in the cups, don't over mash, we aren't making applesauce)
     e.  Place 1 heaping tablespoon in each
4.  With the remaining pie dough, I cut out little stars and put them on top of the little pies.  I only had enough dough to make a few, but I wasn't going to use a whole crust just for a few stars
5.  Brush stars with egg wash for a nice shine and sprinkle with sugar
6.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes (until crust is golden, the filling is already cooked)

Apple Filling:
3 cups diced apples
1 tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbl flour

Make sure, when you are transferring your mini pies to the serving device, your fiance doesn't yell a question at you from the laundry room, causing you to drop any of your pies.  Believe me, it can happen, and before you know it, there is an unsalvageable pie, upside down, on the cat hair covered floor.  No 5 second rule here.

Christmas Eve Chaos

Ok, every dog has its' day, so the saying goes.  While doing my Christmas Eve baking for my in laws gathering, there were several minor disasters which almost ended in me wearing sweatpants and spending the entire evening on the couch with a teeny tiny glass of red wine.

I based my menu choices on my mother-in-law informing me that for their holiday gathering they would be doing 'pick me up' food.  That way, she said, nobody would have to cook anything.  Hmmm....  So I decided to make the pastry wrapped brie recipe from the Pillsbury website and I altered a mini-pie recipe from the same site.  Of course she then decided a few days later that we would be having prime rib and lobster (certainly no complaints with that) so my selection of appetizers seemed a little bit inappropriate.  Oh well.  I already had everything, I'm refuse to go to the grocery store again.

We begin our Christmas disaster on the day before, que hazy memory scene.  I had gotten Red a pound of hand cut bacon from our local butcher for his birthday and promised I would cook it up Saturday morning.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  The pastry wrapped brie (I have included the link at the end of this post, which I followed this recipe almost exactly and it came out amazingly).  I have all the dishes done and put away, all my ingredients out, and the yeti happily kicking Kaptain Kalamari in his bouncy seat.  I am READY to bake, until it happened.  Red poked his head in the kitchen and requested his birthday bacon just as I was cooking down the cranberry sauce and toasting the almonds.  I really couldn't say no, could it?  Needless to say, the bacon was the proverbial straw on the camel's back.  Cranberry sauce and almonds got burnt, thrown away and re-done.  In my frustration I forgot to add the orange peel to the sauce.

However, when we finally arrived at Christmas Eve and baked the brie, it came out better than I could have planned.  It was quite delicious and I will certainly be making it again.  While peeling the fruit, however, there was a minor incident with a vegetable peeler that involved me shortening the end of my left index finger a few millimeters.  Oh well, the sacrifices we make for a nice presentation.  It was met with mixed reviews.  The foodies in the crew loved it.  The picky hillbillies I am about to be related to thought it tasted like 'moldy corn'.  Thank you.  I appreciate the compliment.  I'll make grilled cheese next time.  With Kraft and Wonderbread.

I was planning on posting the mini-apple pie adventure that was laced with profanity, but I'm being told its time to get off the computer and help take down our mangy Christmas tree.  I'll be back later.

Brie in Puff Pastry with Cranberry Sauce

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!

In this, our first Christmas with the Yeti and a bald tree, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!  May you bellies and cars be full, may your travels be safe, and your families be crazy.

The Insomniac Mom

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Tree Rogaine?

Ahhhh the age old tradition of the Yule Tide Tree.

This year, our closest friend and her mother were with out a pick up truck.  So, we banded together, a parade of Vermonters, to cross the line into Massachusetts (enemy territory), to obtain a tree.  Why, you ask, would people from Vermont get a Massachusetts tree?  It gives us something to complain about.

When we arrived at the local tree farm, Red retrieved his trusty chainsaw, a la Leatherface.  Overkill?  Nooooo.

Then of course, the ordeal of finding the elusive perfect tree.  My requirements are easily satisfied.  It has to have needles, be green, and less than six feet tall.  Our friend's children?  Well, they seem to have a much more ideal vision of a Christmas tree. 19' feet tall, wide enough to only fit through a garage door (and certainly not the tree bailer), and boughs grown all the way to the ground so it is impossible to cut down.  Check, check, and check.  Found one.  Now to fit two large trees and one small in the back of one pick up.  

Commence procession back to allied territory.  Punctuated with a quick stop to get Berkshire Brewery's Holidale.

We spent the rest of the day helping our friend put up her monstrosity.  Yes, the chainsaw was used in the house and it required 10 lb test fishing line to keep it in the upright position.  Merry redneck Christmas.

Next it was time to put up our tree.  I fished my decorations out of storage, found two boxes of lights, and was quite surprised to find that they were empty.  How did empty boxes of lights get back in the decorations.  Eye roll.  Impromptu Walmart trip.  Yep, out of lights two weeks before Christmas.  Way to stock up.  Fast forward through trips to dollar stores and Walgreens and I was able to find three (yes three) strings of lights.

We decorated with out incident.  Only one broken ornament, quickly remedied with super glue.  Make sure there are non-breakable ornaments on the bottom for the cat to play with, otherwise, she may be tempted to  reach the glass heirlooms at the top.

Its now almost two weeks later, and after diligent watering, our tree is suffering from male pattern baldness.  Snarles Barkley (long haired demon cat) finds it entertaining to roll in the needles on the floor, then go lay on Red's side of the bed.  Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't sell Rogaine for trees.

Judge Not Lest Ye be Judged...

No, I am not a religious fanatic, in fact, I can honestly say in 28 years, the only time I've entered a church is for weddings and funerals.  However, I do have to frequently remind myself of this Biblical cliche (especially when reading posts on Facebook, it seems).  However, unfortunately, making judgments and forming opinions is an involuntary human process.  After having been recently pregnant and now being a mom, I have encountered many incidents when friends, family, and strangers alike would criticize my actions and offer unwanted advice.  I recall an incident when we had not even told anyone that we were expecting.  We stopped at a local bar on our way home from running errands so Red could grab a quick beer to say hi to friends and I ordered a ginger ale (which, I will admit, was slightly out of character for me).  Of course, the bartender quickly exclaimed 'Oh my god!  YOU'RE PREGNANT'.  Clearly, the look on my face after the outburst was a dead give away.  Thank god the locals at our very small town establishment found out before family.  She then informed me that she would not serve me ginger ale because 'all that sugar was not good for the baby'.  Insert huff and eye roll.  What the else am I supposed to drink, oh by the way, don't mind me drinking a natural remedy for nausea.  So, thinking I was doing the right thing, I ordered cranberry juice.  Nope, still not good enough, that too has too much sugar.  Water it is.  Stay hydrated she advised.  Thank you Dr. Bartender, OB-GYN.  A few weeks later, I took my truck on a ride on its roof after encountering a patch of black ice and was, very thankfully, unscathed, except for being very sore.  Being pregnant, the only thing I could take for the pain was Tylenol.  After posting on Facebook that I was taking said drug, Dr. Bartender commented that I was not only doing damage to my own liver, but hurting the baby by taking the Tylenol.  Ironically, my doctor who does actually have a medical degree, told me it was fine.  I learned a quick lesson in being very discreet about my postings (and also editing my 'friends' list).

This blog has been inspired by reading recent status updates of a newly pregnant girl on Facebook who posts many statuses that I think would make any real doctor question this young lady's behavior.  She also, posts that people should be more 'considerate' to her.  If I can offer some advice to moms out there, if you think that you would like to post unconventional behavior to the public, just remember that you will receive some guff about it.  Don't cry about it, take your licks.  My mom always said that people will treat you how you present yourself.  She is right.  However, if your intention is to gain attention, then by all means, feel free to chronicle your every move.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steak and Cheese Macaroni

I was at a graduation party a few years ago and someone made this dish, but I never got the recipe, so I made my own!  My Red loves macaroni and cheese but thinks its too bland with out something in it.  I use the base recipe and will either add burger, sausage, or Steak-Umm's.  I would add a picture of how mine came out, but honestly, the hyenas attacked it before I could get a good picture.


1 box of shells pasta (I try to use whole wheat whenever possible)

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb ground meat or 5-6 Steak-Umms
  • 1 White Onion (cut into match sticks)
  • 1 Green Pepper (cut into match sticks)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk, warm
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Wistahshire Sauce
  • 3 cups cheese
  • Fried onions, bread crumbs, or crumbled potato chips
1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cook the pasta in salted, boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.  I always try to use whole wheat pasta to add something healthy to my dishes.  Red is a very picky eater and he has no complaints about using whole wheat.
3.  Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add meat and saute cooked.  Add peppers and onions until cooked.  I like to cook the veggies in the meat drippings so they suck up all that flavor, DON'T EVER THROW AWAY THAT FLAVOR!  Remove meat and veggies to another dish, place on a paper towel if you wish to drain some of the fat.  But why would you want to.
4.  Melt 6 tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add flour, stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a boil. Continue to whisk constantly. Stir while adding the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Stir in the cheese, meat, and veggies. The mixture will thicken as the heat increases.
5.  Pour the drained pasta into the cheese sauce and mix well. Add to a casserole dish. Top with  the fried onions, bread crumbs or chips. Bake for 35 minutes.  Please allow to cool before eating this dish or the roof of your mouth will suffer.  

This is a great meal that can be made ahead and then baked when dinner comes rolling around.  I have to make this with out peppers and onions because my honey doesn't like cooked veggies!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Drowning in Apples, continued...

My dear, sweet Red had a rough day at work yesterday and I thought that I would treat him with an apple pie (in addition to a good hearty dinner).  Also, I’m trying to use up the abundance of apples in the house.  I won’t lie, I purchased Pillsbury pie dough.  First of all, I had a coupon and there was a rock bottom sale on them.  Second of all, as I bow my head in shame, pie crust is a source of anxiety for me.  My grandmother creates a pie crust that is beyond description.  Its flaky goodness envelops whichever harvest season filling happens to be coming out of the oven.  It dances on your tongue, begging you to have just one more slice.  She passed this talent on to my mom, and I, at 28 years old, have been avoiding this lesson like the chicken pox.  Why?  Who knows.  Probably because I hate being told what to do.  What does one of my friends call it?  A strong case of defiance disorder.  So in an effort to make my honey a treat, I cheated.  I promised my mom that while she was laid up with surgery this winter, that I would go down and take care of her, if, in return, she would show me how to make pie crust.  Cringe.  So, nothing too exciting to write about here, but I wanted to post my picture.  For the filling, I use the recipe right out of my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. 

On another note, in an effort to get the most out of my food purchasing and preparing efforts, I was wondering what I could do with all of my apple peels and cores left over from baking these delicious fruity confections.  I spent some time searching the internet and it seems that some people save up cores and peels in the freezer until they have about 10 lbs, then use it to make apple jelly.  While I have never made any jellies, jams, preserves, etc - I think it may be a future Insomniac Mom adventure!

Zen Hair Care, I mean Wen...

Once in a while, I may plug a specific product on here.  Please know that these are not paid advertising, I am just giving an honest opinion on products I like.
My Mimi and my mom are truly beautiful women.  I hope that when I reach their ages that I am as stunning and youthful as they are.  Therefore, I take their beauty advice and product recommendations whenever possible.  Another thing about my mom, she shops on QVC.  As much as I chide her about this habit, she does come across some great products.  One of my favorites, that she buys for me (no, I will NOT purchase anything from the TV for fear that my addictive behavior will escalate my shopping habit out of control) is Wen Hair Care by Chaz Dean.  For those of you not in the know, it is a shampoo-less leave in conditioner product touted to bring your hair to levels never before seen.  It is sulfate free so as to preserve hair color.  I had seen infomercials on this stuff for years and being the grumpy, skeptical reincarnation of my Gramma Growley (my paternal grandmother about whom I will share stories in later posts, and yes, we really called her that) I called shenanigans.  The super human models on TV shake their angelic heads and shiny waves of hair catch the light and your eye.  One day my mom admitted that she had ordered some from QVC and absolutely raved about its benefits.  Her formerly dull, wiry, highlighted (shhh…to hide the grays) hair, was now soft and shiny after only two uses of Wen.  I had never seen it look this way in my 28 years.  She gave me the free sample that they sent her with the bottles that she had ordered (a delicious pumpkin spice which also happens to be one of my favorite tastes and smells).  I tried it once and was not impressed.  You are supposed to massage the Wen into your hair for a full minute then leave it in for five minutes.  FIVE MINUTES IN THE SHOWER?!?!  I HAVE A NEWBORN! Yeah right.  The next day I gave it another shot (after wrangling Red to entertain the Yeti for my shower time).  After my hair dried, it was starting to gain the shine that mom’s hair had.  Keep in mind that my hair had undergone every possible beauty treatment on the market since I was 15 and my hair had been very dull and greasy since living in our apartment as the water has an extremely high iron content (as in it turns our whites orange in the wash).  I was hooked.  I now use Wen about three times a week.  I can honestly say that while I personally cannot afford to buy this product consistently (I have a very generous momma who gives it to me), I strongly recommend it.
It sounds goofy, but I now truly look forward to my shower time.  Partially because (as anyone with an infant knows), shower time is a treat.  When I use the Wen, its like a little vacation from the toils of being a mom.  My Petit Spa (literally if you have seen the size of my batheroom).  Delishously hot water coursing over my body, beautiful steam filling my lungs, tasty smells filling my nostrils.  It is an amazing feeling to get out of the shower and have amazingly soft hair to make me feel like a hottie again, which is sometimes difficult when trying to get that prebaby body back.  Try it out!

Red's Red Velvet Cake, Part Two

Ok, I'm finally posting about the red velvet cake. 

Ok, here she is.  In case you haven't read a previous post, I embarked on a journey of which I had never before tread, baking red velvet cake.  I used Paula Deen's recipe from the Food Network website (see below).  For frosting I used a fluffy white frosting because Red doesn't 'know how he feels about using cream cheese in cooking'.  Direct quote.  By the way, in true insomniac form, this cake was made at 2:30 am.

The recipe was easy to follow.  I hit a few snags along the way:
1.  The recipe called for three 8" layers, I only had two 9" cake pans. 
2.  Our local grocery store carried neither the buttermilk or liquid food dye (only the gel)
3.  Even though I greased and floured the NONSTICK pans, the cake stuck.  I wish I had used parchment paper in the bottom of the pans.
4.  On the way to the inlaws' house, someone was taking curves a little too fast and the layers slid a little bit. D'oh.

1.  I did use the 9" pans, and just kept an eye on the baking time.
2.  Buttermilk can be made at home by mixing 1 cup of whole milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and allowing it to sit for ten minutes before use.  The gel dye did not color the cake as dark red as I would have liked.  Oh well, pink velvet cake tastes the same.
3.  It just took a lot of banging on the counter to get the cake out.
4.  Drive slower.

I thought the cake tasted delish.  I did get compliments on it (but not really sure if it was out of politeness, however, none got thrown away).  It did come out a little dense, but red velvet cake is supposed to.  The frosting I used came out beautifully.  It was incredibly shiny and tasted like marshmallows.  I thought that the consistency of the frosting did not pair well with such a dense cake.  I think next time I make the cake, I may try a different recipe just to see if it comes out different.  I have provided links below for the recipes that I used.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red's Red Velvet Cake, Part One

My fiancé’s birthday is on December 23.  Inevitably, due to holiday conflicts, his birthday is never celebrated ON his birthday and he always gets his birthday and Christmas presents combined, poor bastard. Unfortunately for him (although much to my chagrin), he is turning 30 this year.  I take delight in the new ammunition.  Doing my wifely duty, I asked what I could contribute to the family birthday party (parents, grandmother, brother’s family, best friend’s family – you know the drill) and he quickly piped up that he wanted Red Velvet cake, which his mother did not pipe up and offer to make.  Shit.  AND, he added, none of that cream cheese frosting, I want a super fluffy white frosting.  I have never made it and only heard horror stories on keeping this dense cake moist.  Did I have time to do a practice run? Probably, but I’m not going grocery shopping till payday and don’t have most of the ingredients.  Hell, I don’t even own cake pans or a sifter (ahhh memories of cooking with mom and using her sifter with the old wooden green handles, you know what I'm talking about). Anxiety attack.  I have to make a new recipe, a difficult recipe, and serve it to people right out of the gates.  We have already discussed my baking abilities.  Unfortunately with a cake, you can’t just remove a slice and do quality control – people notice. 

So, I sucked it up and decided to make it the morning of the party (yes I started baking at 2:00 am, doesn’t everyone? Hey it’s gotta cool before you can frost it right?).  Let me explain what has to get done today: Deliver dozens of Christmas Cookies baked yesterday (while they are still fresh and nobody eats them), make Red Velvet Cake, return 1 chainsaw borrowed yesterday, take care of infant, hand wash adorable handmade infant sweater for family events, wash not so adorable fiancé’s work clothes, birthday party at 1, dinner at the Whately Inn (an hour away) at 6, wash mountain of dishes.  Ready, set, go!
After my shopping trip (yes, that was Saturday morning at 3:00 am, no kidding, see my shopping trip post) I was fully prepared to make Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake recipe (see link below).  I read the reviews, decided hers would be best.  Fast forward to 2:15 am.  All the ingredients are out, coming up to room temperature, in the order that they are added to the batter, oven preheating, Christmas music blaring.  I tell myself that I took five semesters of chemistry and worked in the chemistry lab for a year, this is nothing.
By the time I got done making this thing, it looked like a 7th grade science experiment had gone wrong.  Lady Macbeth had nothing on me, perpetually washing my hands to get the red stains out.  There was red batter on the cabinets, baby bottles, and me.  Maybe the cat will jump up and lick it all off.  Yeah right. 
Well, I’m off to clean up this disaster area.  Stay tuned later for pictures and reviews of the final product…
By the way, I am making a complete, frosted second cake in case this one fails me.  I tell myself that its not my overwhelming perfection anxiety but being prepared in case one cake isn't enough or somebody doesn't like Red Velvet cake.  Yeah right. Freak.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but...

I'm glad I live less than five miles from a nuke plant that is about 10 years past its life expectancy...

This is an interesting article on the 3rd largest release of nuclear iodine in history.  It took place only 30 miles from Los Angeles in 1959 and nobody heard about it until a large scale civil suit was settled recently.  Creepy

Just a little creative writing...

An Ode to the Midnight Change

At the midnight hour,
Your sweet coos begin to sour.
As I lift my heavy head,
From the pillows in my bed,
With eyes afire from the light,
Delicious sleep, my brain does fight.
I pray for a blow out, NOT
As I lift my screaming tot.
Dreary digits wrangle onsie snaps,
My nostrils curl from the craps.
Wipe the guano from your ass,
Another child? I think I’ll pass.
Talcum powder I do squeeze.
Don’t inhale! Oh no, a sneeze.
Frigid air, a fountain is caused,
We both need to switch pajamas.
Now the diaper is back on,
My kicking babe, Satan’s Spawn.
Back asleep, my little brat.
Oh no, I stepped on the cat.
I lay in bed, now wide awake.
Infomercials again, for Christ’s sake.

Cheesy Corn Chowdah

On this damp December day, I thought that I would treat my amazing fiancé to his favorite belly warming soup: corn chowder.  We are talking a steamy bowl of cream, bacon, and corn.  However, feeling compelled to bring something new to the table, I looked online for some inspiration and have decided to add some cheese (who doesn’t love cheese) and a little bit of beer, basically combining a beer-cheddar soup with corn chowder.  It can’t be bad right?  So, old Mother Hubbard looked in her cupboard and as the rhyme goes, the cupboards were bare.  So after the Yeti and I finished running errands and visiting people, we hit Price Chopper and got our necessary supplies.  I was very excited that I got a 5 lb bag of flour for $1.88 (who doesn’t have enough flour to add ¼ cup to the chowder you ask? Refer to the Drowning in Apples post) and our own Vermont Cabot cheese was on sale 2 for $4.  Score.  I was also equally excited when I got home and unpacked the groceries to find that I had gotten someone else’s bag of groceries.  Part of me felt guilty as I know how frustrated I become when I realize that I have left a bag of goodies behind (particularly on those damn turn styles bag thingies at Walmart).  The other part of me was quite excited to get a free 9’ extension cord, 3 more blocks of Cabot cheese, and 2 blocks of Neufchatel.  What the hell do I do with Neufchatel?
Upon arriving home, rushing groceries and a screaming infant up to the second floor apartment (hopefully getting enough exercise to negate any diet damage done by eating corn chowder for dinner) I got the Yeti fed and asleep to prepare for making dinner.  I made the mistake of calling Red and telling him what was for dinner, hoping to brighten his day and give him something to look forward to on the two hour drive home.  Did I get oyster crackers?  No I forgot.  Bad wife.
Cheesy Corn Chowdah (hey, I am from Massachusetts, after all)
6 slices of slab cut bacon
½ stick of butter
½ Spanish onion, chopped
1 tbl gahhhhlic
1 lb frozen corn
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup beer
2 cups ½ & ½
1 ½ blocks of cheese (to your taste, I used cheddar and monterrey jack)
Salt, pepper to taste
1.  In the stock pot, fry up 6 slices of bacon.  Yes, I know it’s a lot, but my hunny considers bacon a food group that he doesn’t get enough of.  Allow it to cook a little for some of the fat to render out.  I cook it before I cut it up because I like the bacon to have a little bit of texture and I find it easier to chop up once it has cooked a little.  Ok, maybe I should sharpen my knives.  Also, I buy it by the slice at the deli because I like the thick cut stuff and if I had the rest of the package of bacon hanging around after only using six slices, well, Red would be begging me to cook a heart healthy breakfast the next morning.  Remove the bacon once it has cooked to the texture you desire and set aside to cool.  Add ½ stick of butter to the pan.  I chop my bacon pretty rustically because, again, we have a Baconator in the house.  Return it to the pan with ½ stick of butter.
2.  Add ½ chopped onion and cook it to translucency (I cut mine small so I don’t get any grief about big chunks of vegetables).  Add a tablespoon of garlic once the onion has cooked.  Remember not to add the garlic too soon because if over cooked, it will turn bitter.
3.  Add corn.  I used frozen and I eyeballed how much I thought would be good in there.  It was 1/2 of a 2 lb bag (yes, I realize that is 1 lb, but I just wanted to be clear for all of you math whizzes out there).  I let the corn cook in the butter & bacon fat for a few minutes to let it soak up all of that delicious flavor.
4. Sprinkle ¼ cup of flour onto the veggie bacon mixture.  Let it cook for another 4-5 minutes to get the raw flour taste out of it.
5. Open beer and taste it.  This is a crucial part in the cooking process as you would never cook with a beer you wouldn’t drink yourself.  I got a pale ale (didn’t want anything too dark and bitter).
6.  Pour in 1 cup beer & 2 cups chicken stock and stir as you are adding this.  You want to make sure that you get all those delicious bits of browned goodness that stuck to the bottom of the pot while sautéing.  I just realized that I have 14 oz left of Berkshire Brewery’s Steel Rail Pale Ale and don’t know what to do with it.  Allow this to cook for 4-5 minutes to allow it to thicken a little bit.  What should I do while I’m waiting? 
7.  Add 2 cups of ½ & ½, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Do not burn!  Stir occasionally.  What’s that?  There’s beer?
8.  Add the cheese.  I cubed up 1 ½ blocks of cheese.  Why this amount, you ask?  I had half a block of cheddar already open that I didn’t want to turn green.  I know it’s easier to melt if its shredded, but I was too lazy to shred and too cheap to buy shredded.  Cubed it is.  I added ½ the cheese and allowed it to melt to do a consistency check.  Since everyone is different and likes different textures, I advise you to do the same.  I did add all the cheese.
9.  Once the cheese has melted, taste the contents of your cauldron.  Add salt and pepper to your preferred flavoring.
10.  Serve.  Don’t forget the oyster crackers.

I wanted to serve this chowder in bread bowls, but the local Price Chopper didn’t have any small loaves of bread, instead I made Bisquick Cheesy Garlic Biscuits (yes, I used a mix because I had stocked up on Bisquick during a couponing extravaganza – the recipe can be found at the link below).  Of course, I didn’t have garlic powder, so in all reality, they are just cheesy biscuits.
I was going to put a picture of my delicious meal on here, but frankly, it was so goddamn good and we were both so hungry that we demolished both the chowder and biscuits.  Hunny had two heaping bowls and I really don’t know what happened to all of the biscuits.  I was told to make this again but next time with potatoes (and obviously oyster crackers).  So, when I do it all over again (which I certainly will, I think this would be a great addition to a winter gathering and would do great in a crock pot) I will chop up a few ‘taters to ½ cubes and throw them in the mix when I add the corn. 

 Here is the recipe for the biscuits: