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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Still Alive 'n Kickin' and the Story of an Auction

I'm still here! For real.

My kitchen is still fully operational. We still eat.

3252 Festival Foods West Mason St, Green BayImage by bsabarnowl via Flickr
Today I had a GREAT kitchen day since Festival Foods had their super duper excellent deal meat sale. I am SO STOCKED up! Months of meals in my freezer. Yeah! Well, I mean, I'm getting there. I'm sorta still at the point where I have the potential for months of meals in my freezer. It's mostly still on my counter. So... this will be a short post. To discourage the ecoli outbreak, etc.

I just wanted to spout a bit (which I've done on a personal level with loads of friends already, so if you are one of those, my apologies for redundancy) about the girls' school auction fund raiser. Let me preface this with, I TRULY did have a BLAST! This is the first year I've managed to actually USE the tickets I bought. So that's a bonus. And I dragged Candle Natzi (one of my BFF's) and her hubster along. So that was fun, too. (Bizy Pappa had to stay home and be Busy Pappa with the Minis in tow.)

So away I went and had starry twinkles in my eyes at the piles and piles of AWESOME goods to bid on. How fun!!! Except here's kinda how it went:
ME: ooooooooooooooooh, look at that awesome sauce cool thing I really want to win! But awwwwwwww, look at the poor little crappy auction next to it that doesn't have any bids but costs a billion dollars! Oh for sure someone will outbid me. Ok, I'll bid on the crap.

and later...

ME: Oh look! The awesome sauce is going for an incredibly great price! I could so bid and win that one! Hmmmm... The crap is still sitting there at my opening bid and therefore I cannot chance winning $6000 worth of stuff instead of just $3000. Too bad. Sigh.

At the end of the night it took Candle Nazi, Hubster AND me to carry all my crap to the car. Fun stuff.
So here's what I tell myself... good cause, Brandy, good cause.

And it was. We LOVE our school and we LOVE our girls. And the school raised over $40,000. So all good.

Now, off to eBay to unload...

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Kitchen and the Cobwebs

Wow - I've been a slacker here lately. Both blog-wise and kitchen-wise. It was one of those crazy busy weekends. You know the ones - as they are happening I look forward with much anticipation to the fact that my Minis are going to sleep like STONES (or stoners or like they are stoned) at the end of it. What I forget is that keeping THEM busy keeps MAMMA busy. And I have NOT the stamina and energy that they have. Why is that? Shouldn't the Mamma be given an infusion of energy when she procreates to keep up with the procreatee? (Is that a word? Pro-create-ee... hmmm, doesn't work with an extra "e" either). Google it.

At any rate, littlest Mini has a new phrase that might give you some insight into my kitchen as of late...
"Moobie?"  "Peet-za??" (for those who don't speak baby Japanese - that's pizza and a movie.)

That's about the size of it. And tonight I think we're looking at my version of hamburger (the venison version) helper-ish. Tomorrow back to life as we know it. Except, let's face it, movies, pizza, and deerburger helper IS life as WE know it.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is There Any Mommy Out There?: Fall from grace

Ok, so this is definitely sacrilegious. But HILARIOUS. It's okay to laugh. Really. (As I pick myself up off the floor from laughing.)

Is There Any Mommy Out There?: Fall from grace

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Baby is TWO Today!

How did this even happen? I can remember with amazing clarity waking up at 2:30 in the morning wondering if these were contractions, or just indigestion. I remember heaving myself out of bed and coming downstairs to try and figure it out. I remember deciding it was "the real thing" and realizing I had to do some laundry, and dishes, and cleaning, and mopping, etc. I remember waking my husband up at 4:30 to let him know and telling him we had plenty of time (Mini #1 took her sweet time with 30+ hours of hard labor) and to go back to sleep. (Thank goodness he wasn't able to fall back to sleep.) I remember taking a shower to relax (a little too relaxing maybe) and calling my parents back again to tell them maybe there WAS a rush after all for them to come get Mini #1. Of course, how could I forget frantically packing the suitcase, which Pappa D promptly left at home, and the 90+mph trip to the hospital. I remember skipping the registration process and realizing the dreaded truth - too late for an epidural. No matter since Mini #2 arrived within minutes of making it into the delivery room, but still...

A couple of days later, we joyfully brought home our new family addition - a few hours after that we headed tearfully back to check her in for jaundice treatment. After that release we were home for good, thank God. I can hardly believe it has been two full years. Time surely does fly.

So today in my kitchen are all things toddler and celebratory. Breakfast was out with Grandma and Grandpa. Lunch was cotton candy at Summer Extravaganza Bonanza - gotta love Family Video for a timely celebration. (I know, BAD Mamma! but when was the last time you had FRESH cotton candy?)

Picswiss BS-55-16Image via Wikipedia

Dinner will be Pappa D grilling out skinless cheddar wieners from a local meat market. I'm also going to do some baked beans, so I'll let you know how those turn out. Yum! Grandma to the rescue with store bought mini bug birthday cakes (so cute! I'll take pics when they get here!!)

Overall, it's for the most part a day when Bizy Mamma gets the day OFF from her kitchen. If you ask me, that's fitting, since I had to do the hard work on this day two years ago.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

A J.A.M. and a Barbie Q

Last night was my final July J.A.M. and it was a hoot! Thanks so much to my girls Jen, Rae, and Linda for coming (and Jaz for recruiting Jen to double up on her meal-making so Jaz could get some, too, despite not being able to join us). We did GREAT conquering the kitchen and loaded their freezers up with Beef Stroganoff, Orange BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tacos, Cheesy Roasted Chicken, Cilantro Citrus Pineapple Chicken, and Hawaiian Pork. YUM. I'm already hungry as I'm writing this - I may have to take a break and eat something before I finish!

So we had a blast and we actually got something accomplished besides. It was great to listen to the kids raise the roof upstairs, too. All this and everyone was done in time for dinner.

I had some ground venison thawed, so I decided (at Pappa D's request) to make some sloppy joes. He asked me to pick up a mix (since he planned to do it himself) but I declined since I have a FABULOUS recipe that I'm going to share with you instead. This recipe is a sweet version of sloppy joes that we usually call Barbie Q (can you tell I have all girls?)

  • 1 lb of ground beef (or venison, pork, chicken, turkey, etc)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped (I don't always have onion on hand, but I DO always add a scoop (Tbsp) of Grandma's Sunday Roast Seasoning and then the onion is actually superfluous)
  • 8 oz ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 tsp salt (which is not really necessary when you add the Sunday Roast Seasoning - maybe a dash at most)
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
Once you have your meat browned (and onion along with it if you got that route), add everything else and just let it simmer on low for a bit to get the flavors all nice and infused. You can serve it on bread, buns, or just eat it with a spoon.

Enjoy! And feel free to share your version! Off to eat my leftover Barbie Q...
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Let's Fill Our Freezers!

I LOVE J.A.M. weekend! What? You don't know what a J.A.M. is? Well, I'll be happy to tell you.

I've mentioned in other posts that I like to use the zippered freezer bag method to get meals in my freezer for ease of preparation on days that I have too much to do (in other words, every day!) So here's how we do things at my house (and how I share that with others).

First of all, I definitely stock up when things are on sale - that seems fairly simple, right? Well, as long as you pay attention I guess. I find that meat is sometimes hard to find at a good price - and I guess when I say meat I'm talking about "protein" in general....so chicken, pork, beef, etc. We have a freezer full of venison, so that helps (except if you take into consideration the ACTUAL price per pound of that deer having to factor in all the hunting expenses... yikes... yet again, I digress!) But we can't, or rather, I don't want to, serve venison every single night. So I do have to keep my eyes open for other deals on chicken and pork especially. Another way to do it is try to buy in bulk from discount clubs, etc. Or maybe you are lucky enough to get in on purchasing a whole cow or something like that. Whatever the case, get your meat at the best deal possible.

Then, for me it's a matter of implementing the 4 Meals in 4 Minutes system that I found when I started using Homemade Gourmet products. I used the products for quite a few years first, and then just over a year ago became a consultant. That story is likely a post for another day. Today I want to focus on the freezer meal part of this.

So here's the deal-i-o. You need freezer storage bags, meat, seasoning, and other canned goods, etc. to get started. For me, it's sort of like getting your pantry and your freezer to work nicely together, rather than get on your nerves by arguing all day like a 2 year old and 5 year old. Oh wait... I think I'm getting sidetracked - maybe because I'm getting climbed all over.

Start with your zippered freezer bag - make sure it's one that won't leak! I always test mine before my J.A.M.ers come over with my own meal. Can you imagine if I sent everyone home with a slew of leaky meat juice and condensed soup bags? Yuck. No more J.A.M. attendees either I bet! My personal favorite is definitely Ziploc brand freezer bags.

The great part is, it's SO EASY to get a bunch of meals quickly, efficiently, and (most important) cheaply into your freezer.
  1. Label your bag with the name of your meal, date, and cooking options. A Sharpie black permanent marker works great for the labeling. When my J.A.M. attendees come over, I have pre-printed on 2x4 inch the meal options for them to just slap onto their bag. But when I do my own personal meals at home, I use a Sharpie.
  2. Into your bag goes whatever the recipe calls for - for example, if you're doing Hawaiian Chicken (or pork if you prefer)...3-4 Tbsp of BLT Dip Seasoning, a 15 oz can of pineapple tidbits (or chunks, since I can only see BARELY a difference between the two), a Tbsp of low-sodium soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of honey, and 3 pounds of your choice of boneless, skinless chicken breast or pork chops
  3. (The Minis' favorite part) SMOOSH it all together.
  4. Throw (or gently set, your choice) it in the freezer. VOILA!
When you're ready to use your meal, you can thaw and bake, thaw and grill, or thaw just enough to slide it out of the bag (or if you're me, you simply cut the meal out of the bag) and put it into your crock pot. LOVE that. LOVE to stick one of my meals in the crock pot in the morning, head off to work, and come home to dinner. Done. Ready. Smellin' nummy.

Back to where we started, what is J.A.M.? Just. Add. Meat. Come on over, pick your meals, put them together in your Ziploc Gallon-size freezer bag. Then go home, and just add meat. Get it?

That's kinda the gist of it. Get to work!

I'd love to hear what YOU do to make life easier in the kitchen. And as always, if you have questions because (gasp) I didn't explain this in a way that makes sense to you, please feel free to ask away!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge

So I'm SUCH a newbie, but I figure this challenge, which starts Monday, July 19, will be really good for me to get my feet (and the rest of me) thoroughly wet! I'm super excited to learn what one does when one is a blogger (surely it can't just be the spouting that I've been doing since I started?!?)

At any rate, I'm getting involved in the blog hop that is now happening in conjunction with this challenge... I know, another one??? Yep. Even if you aren't a blogger yourself, this is a GREAT place to find a LOAD of fun blogs to check out! Have fun!  hop hop hop...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sitting Down to Write - but first...

Can you even believe this place? Notice the mini on the couch who who is completely exhausted from this accomplishment of hers. SIGH. Just a few hours ago it was so spotless in here. Well, what passes for spotless in my house anyway. These are the joys of being a busy working mother I suppose. Now that the two minis are asleep, can you guess what I'll be doing for a while?

First a drink maybe.
Where to even begin? Maybe with the marbles...before I lose them. (Did you catch what I did there?)

When I get back though, I'm going to tell you about what's coming up for me this weekend! So exciting...and also imperative for me to get this house straightened up!

Blog Hop - well, from a Newbie's Perspective

It's highly possible I'm doing this all wrong, but since starting this blog adventure, the most fun part has been hopping around from blog to blog, reading what others have to say and how they say it. So I'm going to give this Friday Follow Blog Hopping thing a Try... hop hop hop!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's for Dinner, Mamma?

Well, nothing too exciting for dinner over here tonight. Bizy Pappa is working late at the store, so the Minis 'n Mamma just did some fridge/freezer emptying...leftover Flatbread Pizza from Uno's for me (lobster, goat cheese, spinach, plum tomatoes - yum!) and the last of a bag of chicken nuggets along with some SCRUMPTIOUS black grapes for the girls.

Why is it these simple (and not to Mamma's taste) dinners get gobbled right down? At any rate, the clean plate club called for some yummy treats as a reward. Can you say comfort/naughty/yummy/sweetness goodies?

I pulled out my tried, true, and HEARTILY tested old family stand-by... Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownies. Otherwise known as blondies to most of the world. But for my fam the long name has always served well. I've tweaked it a bit from the original I'm sure. I don't really even know if I have it written down anywhere else, but am going to try scribble it down for you to sample in your family.

1/3 cup (5 'n 1/3 Tbsp) butter... no substitutes work as well for this one... melted
add 1 cup packed dark brown sugar (can use light I'm sure, I just like the flavor better when I use dark; the light stuff to me is just a little thicker version of white sugar that doesn't have that full bodied, caramel-y taste - but I digress)

Take it off the heat and let it cool a little so as not to cook the egg.
Oh, that's what's next -
Add one egg. I'm betting once upon a time the recipe said to first whisk the egg and then add it. But I don't bother with those extra steps.
And one Tsp vanilla (I really just mostly splash mine in, so it may end up being a bit more than a teaspoon - but when I use good vanilla extract I don't need anymore than a teaspoon for really good flavor)

Once that's mixed well, add one cup of flour.
I am certain my recipe once upon a time said to do the "right" thing by first mixing the flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda (1 tsp each) and then gradually adding the dry ingredients. However, I've long since given up such proper niceties and just toss in the flour all at once, top it with the salt, powder, soda and then mix it all up. Believe me, my blondies are none the worse for it and disappear just as quickly.

At any rate, my way or yours, get those dry ingredients in there and mixed in and then sprinkle (liberally if you're at my house - but to your own taste) semi-sweet (or your favorite) chocolate chips over the whole thing. Well, I suppose you have to put it in a baking dish first. Mine almost always goes in my small round stoneware baker. You can do a double batch (and I have) and land it in something like a 9x13 dish or the larger round stoneware baker, but you're better off doing it times two in separate pans. It just doesn't bake as nicely in such a large quantity. You can put it in an 8x8 square or even 9x9 (just thinner bars).

Then bake at about 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Yummo!

Also works great (and especially when warm!) as the bottom of a (wishfully calorie free of course) Sundae... just top with some ice cream and chocolate sauce or hot fudge... or butterscotch or caramel. You see the possibilities.

Hmmm, I REALLY need to consider weight watchers...

I'd LOVE to hear from you and your ancient family (not so) secrets.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Equal Rights - Who Me?

I admit it. Some days I just can't manage to get myself into the kitchen and get it done for dinner. I am a HUGE advocate of freezer cooking, cook once serve twice, and making ziploc meals to toss in the crock pot at the start of the day to have ready at dinner time with little effort.


Some days, let's face it girls, having to remember to open the freezer, plug in the crock pot and turn it on is too much. No really. Even that.

Today was certainly one of those days for me.

My usual six hour day at work (outside the home kind of work) turned into ten hours. Since Grandma is our usual daycare and even Grandma has her limits, this happens pretty rarely. But as it happens, Bizy Pappa manages a restaurant and this allows for a non-typical work schedule for him. Usually he does a 10-day stint and then is home for the weekend plus Monday and Tuesday. On those days that he's home, or when he works in the evening instead of a typical 9-5 day, he takes care of the minis to give Grandma a break. Today was an at home day for Bizy Pappa, so I was able to put in an extra long day at the J.O.B. Yay.

At any rate, my next confession is that Bizy Pappa helps out quite a bit around the house. Now, mind you, he doesn't exactly do it joyfully, and sometimes the mumblings and grumblings aren't worth the hassle - but I digress and this is a post for another day. But when it comes to cookin' in my kitchen, he is in his element (clean up a whole other issue, again, for another day).

Last night B.P. took out venison tenderloin to thaw for the grill for tonight. Yum! (Yep, we're a venison household - B.P. also happens to be a Polynesian version of the Great Not-so-White Hunter.) The promise of this yummy dinner may just have been the cheese at the end of the maze for me today and my report/presentation marathon at work.

So when 2 o'clock turned into 4 o'clock, which turned into 4:30 and then five... I texted B.P. to let him know I was finally on my way and needed a drink! He texted me back to pick up some wine for the steak. Happily! Hi ho, hi ho it's off to the packie I go! I stopped at the liquor store and picked up a six pack and a box of wine - to take home to the dinner that was being cooked for me. I even paused and considered a bouquet of flowers for the hubster.

I arrived home to find the minis doing their usual high drama welcome, running out to the car to say hello... or rather scream hello. I dropped my six pack off in the fridge, set the box of wine on the counter, took care of business in the water closet, changed clothes and went outside to play soccer with the minis... while Pappa cooked dinner. Yep. I feel NO urge to prove my womanhood in the kitchen.

What about you?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Vicious Cycle

So do you have a coffee maker in your kitchen?
I do.
For me, it's an evil contraption. Instigator, author, and gatekeeper of a vicious caffeine cycle.
So here's what happens.
I have two minis, ages almost 2 and 5. They are beautiful, loving, amazing little creatures. I'd definitely jump in front of a bus for them. HOWEVER, it takes a TON of energy to keep on keepin' on with two minis, a nearly full time job outside of home, a biz of my own, and a Pappa D to look after. Not to mention upkeep of the abode that houses us all. Whew. Exhausts me just to think about it. BRB, I need a drink of coffee.
Every now and then I rely on a crutch. It looks BEAUTIFUL from the outside. Ahh, lovely caffeine. Can't you just see your favorite caffeinated beverage in its glorious outer packaging?
Now let me also set up the story this way. I have been nursing or pregnant or both since July of 2004. So I truly don't indulge in caffeine too terribly often these days... or these years ... nearly decades it seems. The between the lines there is the fact that it doesn't take much to get me zinging off the walls.
At any rate, yesterday I may have overdone it a bit. Zing zing.
Coffee in the morning. Yum. Just for that tiny little extra bit of zing. Zing. zing. Yawn. Then I had a bit of Dr. Pepper at lunch time. Just 32 oz or so. And only one refill. Of another 32 ounces. At about 2PM.
My usual cut-off for caffeine is around 10AM. Which only stands to reason since they say the peak of caffeine effects is about 8 hours in. And I usually hit the sack at about 8PM. No, really. I do. Not on purpose. But there's this thing that happens if I sit still for more than 10 or 15 minutes to watch TV, read, snuggle with a mini. Zonk. As opposed to zing.
So... I was up a good two thirds of the night last night. Because of too much caffeine. Which was administered to keep me from falling alseep during the day when I had too much to do. So.
This morning I am SO TIRED. I really need to get some good sleep tonight.
Meanwhile, I'll be okay after a cup of coffee.
Or two.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Modern Bird Studios Guest Giveaway

Modern Bird Studios Guest Giveaway
You've GOT to see this. BEAUTIFUL work and definitely my FAVORITE artist currently.

Diving In

Ok, I'm doing it. I'm scared and shakin' in my boots, but I'm going to close my eyes, hang on tight, and enter the blogosphere... did I even spell that right? Forgive my beginner's foibles. I'm excited to learn how to do this and have an outlet for the craziness that lives currently only in my head.

My primary function here is to learn from you and your kitchen successes (and maybe some of your non-successes should you choose to share). C'mon, I know you've got them. My frustrations as of late have to do with organizing my kitchen cupboards in my currently limited space, and getting my two beautiful Minis to eat their veggies. SIGH... I hear there are ways to hide them and get them down their pretty little gullets... I have yet to find a way to hide from L the fact that she is eating veggies... no matter how small. She is DEFINITELY not color blind like Pappa D. No way. No how. She can spot a green speck from about 3 stories up.

Ok, back to work - let's face it, I haven't gotten to the point yet where I can support me, Pappa D and the two Minis with just my blogging... is that expecting too much? Isn't that how it goes? Open blog, money rolls in? Maybe I'm not doing it right...