Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekly Recipe: Chik-fil-gay Sandwiches

Yesterday was Sunday, right?  You know how you always get a Chik-fil-a craving on Sunday?  Well I did the unthinkable, I had Chik-fil-a on Sunday!  How you ask?  I made my very own Chik-fil-gay sandwiches!  
I'm not even going to touch on their headline debate.  I like chicken and I like gays, so here's my way to accept both (:
I wish I could take credit for the clever name, but alas, it was Hilah who coined the term in her video tutorial of how to make a copycat version of the sandwich.  Her video inspired me to give it a try and I have to say, they were pretty darn close to the real thing.  I read another (serious) article today about someone trying to perfect the process and I was able to get a few tips for my next attempt.  And oh yes, there will be a next attempt!  
I even tried to create a vegan version by following the same procedures, just using tempeh.  I'm having it for lunch today so I'll report back as to the taste.  In the meantime, please enjoy.  It's been "my pleasure" to bring this to you today.
Oh and this was the perfect meal for my dear son, Colin, because the meal told a tale of his future.  You see, when he grows up, he's going to live right around the corner from us (a house that is currently for sale), work at Whole Foods and only eat vegetables and drink water because that's what's healthy.  He said the only restaurant he will go to occasionally is Chik-fil-a but only sometimes.  I think I've driven the vegetable message home, what do you think?
Chik-Fil-Gay Sandwiches
from Hilah Cooking
2 boneless chicken breasts
2/3 cup pickle juice (dill is my preference)
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 T. powdered sugar
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 cup peanut oil
pickle slices
  1. Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/2 inch thick all around.
  2. Cut each breast into two pieces, as even as possible.
  3. Marinate in the pickle juice for 30 minutes to one hour (add a teaspoon of Tabasco sauce now for a spicy sandwich).
  4. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl.
  5. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in another bowl.
  6. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then coat in flour on both sides.
  7. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350.
  8. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.
  9. Blot on paper and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.
Linking up to Jam Hands.

Friday, July 27, 2012

FYI Friday

I'm back with my second installment of FYI Friday!  Let's get right to it.

1.  This morning I asked Colin which of his 3 summer camps he's enjoyed the most, Superhero, Basketball, or this one?  No surprise he chose that one!  The child loves to eat.

2.  I was very surprised that this girl won Design Star.  Spoiler alert if you haven't watched the finale yet!

3.  Speaking of breakfast, I think I might treat the boys to this one day next week...or maybe the first day of school so that Colin's teacher will really think highly of me (:

4.  I just discovered this place and now I'm already ready for next summer so I can go back to Charleston and engorge myself!

5.  This might change my life.  Or at least Wes' since he usually gets an earful about it!

6.  Only 2 1/2 weeks left until this little fella starts his first day of kindergarten.  Yikes!  I'm trying not to think about it.  I've been trying to think of some great tradition to start or some special way to kick off the year.  Here's a cute idea.

7.  I'm starting this tomorrow.  Swear!  

Have a great weekend!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Blueberry Patch

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Blueberry Festival has become an annual event in our house.  This year, we decided to get there as early as possible to try to beat the heat.  No such luck in that regard but we were able to snag some pretty good berries because we were some of the first to pick!  If you've never experienced fresh blueberries from the vine/bush, you are missing out.  As Wes said, "Now this is how blueberries should taste!"  I couldn't agree more!
Here we are about to set off on our exploration.  Please note, it is not easy to push or pull 65+ pounds in a wagon, uphill.  

Let me show you how to do it, Bubby.

Colin learned from last year and now understands that we only want the blue ones, not the green ones.  So he studied each one before it made it to the bucket.

Others are still learning.

But he still had fun.

We're already looking forward to next season!


Friday, July 20, 2012

FYI Friday

Some of my favorite posts from fellow bloggers are those short, sweet and often informative weekly lists.  The lists typically link to a variety of other things from recipes, to fashion, to books, to party ideas, etc, etc.  They are usually just a hodgepodge of random tidbits, both of which I love, random and tidbits (:  I like the fact that they leave something to your imagination and just provide the link with a tiny bit of background.  Not being one to resist the urge to copy other people's great ideas, here is my first installment of FYI Friday!  

- Want to see something amazing?  I had to watch this video twice to fully grasp it's awesomeness.  

- Good things really do happen in Kentucky!  Thanks media for portraying our decent side for once.

- I can't wait to celebrate with the one I love this weekend at the restaurant of a former Top Chef!

- I just discovered this new-to-me store today and I can't wait to check it out.  Too bad it will be closed before we get to Louisville this weekend.  

- I can't get enough avocados right now and I'm dying to try this.

- I made my very first batch of ice cream last week for Sawyer's birthday.  I picked a great recipe to start    with!

Want to read more?  Here are a couple to get you started.
How Sweet It Is - Tuesday Things
Lovely Little Parties - Friday Miscellaneous
South Shore Decorating Blog - 50 Favorites for Friday
xoxo, Mrs. Smith - Menu Monday


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekly Recipe: Blueberry Muffins

A few weeks ago we visited a nearby farm for their annual Blueberry Festival.  We've gone a couple times in the past and Colin always looks forward to it so that he gets to pick his own blueberries!  The timing couldn't be more perfect because it's always the last Saturday in June, meaning it's always near his birthday.  He likes to think they're throwing him a special blueberry birthday party and who am I to doubt him?!

This year we came home with more berries than ever before because I was determined to do more than just eat them by the handful.  I wanted to bake, freeze, blend, and pop a few in my mouth along the way.  Well, unfortunately the heat had other plans and while we still got more than last year, we weren't able to get enough to freeze.  

We did get enough to bake with and even though I voted for a pie, muffins won out by a landslide 3-1 vote.  Luckily, I had discovered my new go-to blueberry muffin recipe back in May for my Mother's Day brunch, so I was set.  This is really the only blueberry muffin recipe you need.  It's versatile in that I swap out at least half of the all-purpose flour with 50/50 white-wheat blend, I don't use quite as much sugar as called for, and the blueberries can either be fresh or frozen.  The best part is that you can whip up the batter ahead of time and then just bake up fresh, hot muffins whenever you want!  There's nothing better than a piping hot baked good!

Blueberry Muffins
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • coarse white sparkling sugar for garnish (optional)
1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with papers, and grease the papers.
2) In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then set aside.
3) In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light, fluffy, and almost white in color. Start the mixer at low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, then gradually increase speed to medium-high until the desired color and texture are reached.
4) Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5) Add the vanilla and sour cream or yogurt, and mix until incorporated.
6) Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the batter is smooth. It will be thick.
7) Fold in the berries by hand.
8) Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using a heaping 1/4-cup for each. Sprinkle with regular granulated or coarse white sugar, if desired.
9) Bake the muffins for 18 to 24 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a rack.

A few tips from King Arthur:
  • If you're using frozen berries, mix them into the batter while still frozen. They'll turn the batter a streaky blue color. They'll also increase the baking time by as much as 5 minutes.
  • Take the muffins out of the baking pan as soon as you can. Leaving hot muffins in the pan creates steam that will toughen the muffins as they sit.
  • To make handling baked muffins easier, use a potholder to tilt the hot pan at a 45° angle. The muffins will tilt enough that you can lift them out of the cups easily. Place them on a rack to finish cooling.
  • You can use any kind of fresh berry, dried fruit, diced peaches, bananas, or nectarines in this recipe. Canned blueberries are fine, but drain them well first and make sure you have 1 3/4 cups of berries.
  • Substitute a flavored yogurt, like vanilla or strawberry, in place of the sour cream


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

Last month I finally finished the first book in, dare I say, 15 years!  Gasp!  I know, I'll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.  I'm just not a reader.  I've never been very fast at it and that has discouraged me because I'm fast at everything else I do.  I also have a hard time concentrating because I'm always thinking about what else I need to be doing or could be doing.  But I recently decided that all the book lovers in the world couldn't be all wrong, there had to be something to this whole reading thing.  I'm not even sure how I came across the book I chose, but I'm glad that I did.  It took me 2 cycles of waiting and checking out from the public library, but I finally finished The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  

It's not that I wasn't happy, I just wanted to feel like I was getting the most out of life.  I wanted to learn to live each day to it's fullest and not just repeat the words.  I wanted to enjoy the journey of motherhood (more than I was) and also take steps to discover my place in this world.

I didn't solve all of the world's problems but I did learn a lot about myself and things I wouldn't have even considered otherwise.  To some extent, I learned that happiness is being content.  Whether it be in your own skin, with your life, with your job, whatever, because once you are content, it shows in your face and your actions and those around you are influenced by your contentment.  If you're happy, it's easier for those around you to be happy.  

All of this seems perfectly logical and not overly complicated.  However, I was one of those students in school that couldn't think of a good answer during a test, but as soon as the test was over and the answers were revealed, I realize I did know it, I just hadn't been able to articulate it.  That's still true today.  I read something and I think it's so well-written and then I wonder why I couldn't have thought of that?  But sometimes you need someone else to do the thinking for you.  It's easier but it also allows you to think in a direction you might not have ever thought.

One such instance in this book was when Gretchen decided to make herself laugh more.  If you would have asked me prior to reading this if I had a problem with laughter, I would have emphatically said no.  But reading her examples and really looking into my personal life, I discovered that I had lost part of my jubilation.  In this fast-paced, hurried life that I think I live it, I had not taken time to just be.  I'm always so busy looking ahead to the next chore, the next meal, the next destination, that I've forgotten how to enjoy the moment.  

Gretchen gives the example of her daughter playing something like peek-a-boo a hundred times over at the kitchen table.  Gretchen lost the humor in it after the first time but her little 3-year old could have gone on for hours, thinking each time was just as funny as the first.  Gretchen resolved to laugh more and forced herself to laugh out loud with her daughter.  She said at first she was laughing at the fact she was making herself laugh but by the end, she was laughing because her daughter was so happy and it made her happy.

The other example she gave was of her older daughter (5-ish), who loved to tell jokes.  Now we all know that 5-year old humor is not exactly stand-up comedy but to them, it is.  Her daughter would tell a joke, wait for a response, and usually receive the good old eye roll.  This one really resonated with me because I am all too guilty of this exact scenario.  Colin loves to tell jokes, no they're not funny, but he wants them to be.  He wants us to fall out of our seat in laughter, he craves the attention.  So Gretchen told herself that she would laugh out loud at her daughter's jokes.  She did and she felt joy and happiness not only within herself, but also saw it all over her daughter's face.  

Since reading this part of the book, I have made it a goal of mine to stop rolling my eyes and laugh more.  I used to laugh a lot.  I'm not sure where I lost it but somewhere along the way, I did.  I'm lucky in that I have a lot of things around me that make me smile.  I have a hilarious husband who makes it easy to laugh but yet I found myself rolling my eyes more and more.  Yet the next day, I would find myself telling his jokes to others, proving that I did, in fact, think they were funny.  I want to be lighthearted, not stuffy, jovial, and happy.  Is that so much to ask?  

What about you, what makes you laugh?  Are you happy enough?  Is there such a thing?


Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!  I honestly don't think my words could do this man justice.  He's honest, kind, thoughtful, helpful, caring, and loving.  The last 11 years has been magical and I can only hope we have many more years to come!  I can't imagine a single day without this man and I look forward to seeing his handsome face every day.  Happy Anniversary, Wes!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sawyer

Happy Birthday to my little firecracker!  I should have known by the fact that you gave me little to no notice of your arrival that you were going to do things your way.  You started out determined (hard-headed) and you've never changed.  With your determination comes a lot of bumps, bruises, and tears, but that has yet to deter you from picking yourself up and trying it all over again.  Fall of the kitchen stool?  Climb up and do it again!  Bust your lip running through the house?  Wipe it off and take off again.  Nothing stops you!

You are learning so much each day and some of the things you say and do amaze me.  I have to remind myself that you are 2 because I still think of you as my little baby.  As fun as it is to watch you experience new things and see the joy and excitement in your eyes, I often get sad knowing I'll never have another little baby of my own to rock to sleep or cradle in my arms.  When I give you your milk at night, I find myself squeezing you a little tighter and kissing your forehead over and over again because I know my days of you letting me do this are numbered.  I want to keep you my little baby as long as I can!

Even though you're growing with leaps and bounds, you still love your Mommy and Daddy, specifically our arms and feet!  You've loved rubbing your face (nose) up and down feet for a while (you usually prefer mine) but within the last month, you've developed an affection to arms (you prefer Daddy's).  You like to rub your face up and down his forearm and then bang your head repeatedly into his muscle/bone.  You've even developed a little rash on your face from what I assume was too much rubbing.  I guess my arm isn't big enough because you usually just try to just wrap your little arm around mine and pull yourself close.  I love it and it reminds me of what I used to do with my mom.  You love to give and receive hugs. 

Channeling you inner Al Bundy

You also love your big brother...except when you're throwing a fit and then you don't want him anywhere near you!  You scream, "Uhn-uh" as loud and dramatically as you can and then either push him away, or worse, you bite him.  But most of the time you think he's the bees knees.  You want to do whatever he's doing, you laugh at anything he does, and you call for him whenever he's not with you.  You love his superhero toys ("Soup-man, Bat-guy, Piderman") but you tend to prefer anything with wheels.  You love to make messes by dumping all of the toys out but I think half of the fun for you is getting to clean it up!

You're a little guy but it's not because you don't eat!  There are definitely things you won't eat (pickles, tomatoes, mushrooms) but you usually clean your plate.  You love "broc-wi," all fruits, brown rice, beans, and of course, all breads!  You still love your "malk" (milk) and have become quite demanding when you want it.  Usually your milk is associated with your nap (we're down to 1 a day) and most of the time you willingly go down after drinking your first milk of the day.

Whether you're doling out one of your sweet hugs or sharing your infectious laughter, you are a joy to be around.  I do wish you'd find a way to slow down and make the next 2 years of your life go in slow motion!  I do look forward to seeing how your personality evolves and hopefully you'll lose a little of your temper somewhere along the way (:  Happy Birthday, sweet Sawyer!  Mommy and Daddy love you more than you'll ever know!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Weekly Recipe: Grilled Shrimp and Smoky Grilled Corn Grits

This recipe was definitely created prior to the heatwave of 2012!  Our poor grill hasn't seen much action since the record high temps have swept through Kentucky.  There was one day that I just had to grill pizza and while it was good, I was still sweating even after dinner was over.  A grill pan will suffice just fine during ridiculous heatwaves like this.  

For whatever reason, Southern Living and I haven't been clicking much as of late.  I guess it's partly because of all the awesome blogs I read, complete with great recipes and fantastic pictures that suck me in every time.  The convenience of seeing them daily has had a more lasting effect on this never-be-the-same-again-mommy-brain.  With magazines, I have a tendency to dog-ear the pages, even copy them into my Excel file, but that's often where it stops.  I'll get around to them...eventually.

This issue of SL must have either come right when I was making out my menu or the idea must have made a serious impression on my little mind.  Whatever the reason, I'm so glad I listened and added it to our menu.  Grilling outdoors does produce a flavor that can't be matched by an indoor grill.  Maybe it's the sweat dripping on the food, maybe it's the fresh air, but whatever it is, it is different.  I love the smokiness of the shrimp and corn in this dish.  I love that you can actually taste the char on the corn through the grits.  I love how the grill brings out the natural sweetness in the tomatoes, which then pairs perfectly with the earthiness of the mushrooms.  

This is a great one recipe dinner.  It may have multiple components but you won't have to flip back and forth between recipes.  And another added benefit of using an outdoor grill, cleanup's a snap!  My husband certainly appreciates that (:

Grilled Shrimp and Smoky Grilled Corn Grits
from Southern Living

  • 2 ears fresh corn
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I left out)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound peeled, jumbo raw shrimp with tails (1 6/20 count), deveined
  • 16 (6-inch) metal skewers
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 (8-oz.) package fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Grill corn, covered with grill lid, 10 minutes or until done, turning once. Cut kernels from cobs. Discard cobs.
2. Bring salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes or until thickened. Stir in corn kernels, cheese, and chipotle pepper (if using). Cover and keep warm.
3. Stir together olive oil and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss shrimp with olive oil mixture; let stand at room temperature 3 minutes.
4. Remove shrimp from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers alternately with tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
5. Grill kabobs, covered with grill lid, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve kabobs with grits, and sprinkle with cilantro just before serving.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Just like Bubby

Colin and Sawyer may not look much alike, but they sure do share many of the same attributes.  They both suck their thumbs (although Colin is trying to kick the habit since he turned 5), they are both very loud and screech and scream for fun, they are both very active and have to keep moving to avoid getting into trouble, they both love to be snuggled and loved on, and perhaps the biggest similarity, they both LOVE to eat!  Specifically corn! Without prompting, they both began eating it the same way - holding it by themselves and eventually vertically, so as to not miss a single kernel!

Colin, Summer 2009

And the vertical flip.

Sawyer, Summer 2012

The same vertical flip!


The end result is always the same, an empty cob.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Colin's Superhero Pary

I'm not sure who looks more forward to Colin's birthday party each year, me, Wes, or the birthday boy himself.  After some back-and-forth on the theme, he ultimately decided on Superhero (despite my best efforts to sway him towards a pirate theme - walk the plank anyone?!).  Somewhere along the lines, the 2 of them had to go to Toys R Us for something and they came home with a Wolverine mask and an announcement that I had to get Colin a costume for his party.  I live with some demanding children.  I'm sure none of you can relate.  Not only was Colin to wear a costume, Wes was too.  He would be the bad guy.  Thankfully, I was left out of the costume equation!  I just got the fun job of orchestrating the entire adventure!

Being the thrifty, wannabe crafter, resourceful person that I am, I wanted to make as much of the goodies as I could.  I can't take credit for the creative mastermind but I did do the labor.  The bunting was made with old comic books and awesome superhero printables from Kiki and Company (Father's Day 2012).  I also used the printables for the food tags and award certificates.  I found all the various logos online and then used cardstock to support them for the centerpiece.  For the Gotham City backdrop, I just used black posterboard and glued on some white windows.  I picked up most of the favors at Target in either their $1 bins or their party favor aisle.  

The fellow superheroes were greeted with a Superman shield that I personalized for Colin.  Alongside the shield were their favors.  

Since not all of the kids were coming in costume, I didn't want them to be left out.  I cut out masks for them to decorate and had red capes on each of their chairs for each of them to put on to complete the look.

The kids loved making their masks and were instantly transformed into real life superheroes!

The youngest superhero in training.

After they were sufficiently dressed as superheroes, they had some snacks to power up for the obstacle course.

I lined the kids up to give them instructions on how to complete the obstacle course.  As I began to give directions, Wes was busy stealing the presents and taking them to the clubhouse outside.  After he was secure, I told the kids that I noticed the presents had been stolen.  It must have been a villain!  The kids darted out the door to start the course.  They ran in and out of cones "quick as a flash", rescued a puppy from a burning tent, leaped tall building with a single bounds, and defeated the villain to return their gift to Colin!  

Colin couldn't wait to open his gifts after all the excitement!  We are now overflowing with more superhero gear than I thought was possible!

As if the kids needed anything to make them more hyper, cupcakes were served after presents.  

At the end of the party, each superhero was given a certificate from the "Superhero Academy" proclaiming them to be a real superhero!

After the party, Colin gave me the best compliment he could, "Mama, I want this exact same party again next year!"  

**I'm linking up to Bird's Party Blog Monthly Link PartyBloom, and The Purple Pumpkin Blog.