Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Holidays

I can't believe the holiday break is coming on its last few days--lots of things to do in the next few days, including planning for a new class I'm teaching this semester!
A little of our Christmas holiday:
country cruising with the dog riding on the tool box, his favorite place

I promise, they really do get along--Bruno and Jack. It appears as though Bruno is sniffing Jack's diaper for some goods!!

Treacherous driving conditions--a semi off on the side of the road. Amazing it didn't flip!
Norris wore a snuggie. The funny part is that this belongs to Zac!! He does not look as excited as a Snuggie model should.

Bruno and Maggie (Lauren and Zac's Akita) got along really morning he woke me up whimpering (not sure I've ever really heard him do that before!) so I took him out to go to the bathroom. Of course, he was just looking for Maggie, so he just stood there and ate snow while I shivered and wanted to go back to bed.

Going to a friend's New Year party tonight, and relaxing the rest of the weekend! Happy 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009


The hitching went off without a hitch! It was a great weekend of celebration, family, and fun! Lauren had our mom's wedding dress altered a bit (removal of sleeves and hat;) and look at how gorgeous she looked:

The "theme" was Tuscany/wine and cheese. The cake was awesome!
Beautiful flowers (althougth I'm sure you guessed that without my caption)

We had the "Catholic gap" between the ceremony and reception. (no, we're not Catholic!) so we went and hung out at the hotel and waited to go. We had a good time there too!

On the bus on the way over, about thirty minutes after officially becoming husband and wife.
Congratulations Lauren and Zac! Love you guys!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Congratulations Sis!!

Pretty big week for my sister--graduated on Sunday, and she's getting married on Saturday! Congratulations to Lauren and Zac for all the big things happening right now. So proud of you! (and I'll be sure to get some pictures to share from this upcoming big fun weekend!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giving Back

I am so proud of my students that I have to brag on them. Throughout the year, we sell some pretty amazing chocolate chip cookies (warm between classes..can't beat that for high schoolers!!) and raise money. At the end of this semester, they decided to spend the money they raised on Toys For Tots, two children at the Angel Tree, and another portion to the Humane Society. They also made about 40 scarves to be donated to Norris' students at the school he works at, where they don't have much to keep them warm during this bitter cold. I had them pose with their goods this morning..not convinced they like pictures :) but what great kids! (this is just one group of them). Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009


These are from a little Holiday Appetizer cookbook I have. I was looking for a savory finger food for our holiday "party" for my Professional Cooking class and wanted to try something different. They are basically a meatball delivered on a cracker toast. The kids really enjoyed them!
Another perfect appetizer for a holiday party--no forks required (don't even need a toothpick!). Very simple to put together. We made the filling and cut the bread circles a couple days ahead of time, then assembled them and baked them the day of.

1 ¼ lb lean ground beef
½ cup grated cheese
½ cup green pepper, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced and cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¾ cup bread crumbs
½ cup onion, chopped
1 egg
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
about one loaf of sandwich bread

Mix well all except for last two ingredients.
Using a cup or round cookie cutter, cut bread into rounds. (we got three rounds per slice of bread)Butter one side of rounds and put buttered side down in muffin tins. Add about 1.5 tablespoons of the meat mixture and bake at 375 F for approximately 25 minutes.

Makes 42 toasties.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Easy Popcorn Snack

Another great snack that doesn't need cold or heat. Simple: pop three bags of light butter microwave popcorn (or go all out and pop your own kernels on the stove!). Melt one package of white almond bark. Toss with popcorn, lay out to cool, and consume! Mix in some M&M's or nuts if you like. Cheap, easy, great snack that everyone will enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cheese Straws

Looking for an easy appetizer to put out at your holiday party or to bring to a work potluck? These don't need any refrigeration OR heat, so they are perfect to set out! They're like a giant fancy cracker kind of--really cheesy and great. You can cut them in whatever shapes you want.
Very simple to make and a great salty snack to balance out all those holiday sweets.

Cheese Straws

· 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons butter (14 tablespoons), room temperature
· 3 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
· 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less
· 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Put the butter and cheese in the container of a food processor. Add the flour, salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire. Cover and blend thoroughly. If a food processor is not used, put the flour, salt and cayenne in a bowl. Add the butter, cheese, and Worcestershire, and using two knives or a pastry blender, blend thoroughly. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300°.
Roll small amounts of dough into a long tube about the width of a straw and cut in desired lengths. Or, roll dough out on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness, cut into strips, and gently twist. Arrange the strips on 1 or 2 ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in preheated 300° oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the straws are crisp and lightly browned. Remove and let cool.
Tip: If you roll them into straw shapes, use a flat block or flat wide dish bottom to roll them uniformly. Makes about 5 to 6 dozen.

recipe from All Recipes

Friday, December 11, 2009

Black Bean Soup

So, have you figured out yet that we did a soup lab last week? We actually had a successful lab in that everything turned out well and it all tasted good!! This recipe is from All Recipes, but we had to make a few changes in the amount of liquid--the original amount turned out basically refried bean consistency. We also added a little cheese. This was excellent!

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
Olive oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)

Saute onion, garlic, and green pepper in oil over medium heat until tender. Add beans and water and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes.
Pour half of the soup into blender and puree. Return to pot and reheat over medium low heat.
Pour a few drops of olive oil into each bowl for added flavor before serving. Top with sour cream.

Serves 4 (but with additional liquid, it would probably make six decent sized bowls)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Egg Drop Soup

If you like the popular appetizer soup at Chinese restaurants, you will love this one. I think we all agreed that it is better than the average restaurant's soup. (That might have something to do with the fact that we ate it within minutes of dropped the eggs in, while they probably typically sit for a while before we eat them at restaurants.) This will fill your stomach a little before moving on to the heavier foods--give it a try!

Chi Tan T’ang (Egg Drop Soup)

Serves 6

8 chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups hot water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg plus 3 egg whites, beaten
1 green onion, minced

In a large saucepan, dissolve bouillon in hot water. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water and stir into bouillon. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally. Gradually pour the beaten eggs into the saucepan while stirring soup.
Sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately.

from All Recipes

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

French Onion Soup

I used to think I didn't like onions, but finally came around. Then, I finally got around to trying French Onion Soup--wow! The onions were much easier to cut using the slicer attachment of the food processor (remember that pretty one we got here at school??) and this was done in no time. Even my students who claim to not like onions really enjoyed this soup!

French Onion Soup

· 3 tablespoons butter
· 4 medium onions, thinly sliced (preferably Vidalias)
· **can cut onions in food processor!
· 42 oz beef broth
· 4 slices French bread, 1 inch thick
· 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Saute onion until golden in color and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover; simmer for about 20 minutes.
Once soup is finished, pour into four soup ramekins and place French bread on top. Cover bread evenly with the cheese and put under broiler just until cheese is bubbly.

Serves 4

from All Recipes

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baked Santa Fe Dip

My sister is getting married this month! Wow! I can't believe it's already here (I'm sure they are feeling that even more though!). We have celebrated with a few showers, a luncheon, and a bachelorette party so far. It's so great to have everyone together and so much love around.
For her bachelorette party, I made a Baked Santa Fe Dip which was really tasty. I got it from Colleen, where I often get appetizers from becaues they're always good. Remember that Smoky Grilled Red Potato Salad from her earlier this year? That stuff was awesome!

I liked this with tortilla chips, and it was also really good on vegetables.

This is a picture my cousin Amber took...quite a spread! And a beautiful bride to be!
Baked Santa Fe Dip

slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Makes a 9-inch pie plate
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup light mayo
1 (8-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chili peppers, drained
1/2 of a 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together cheeses, mayo, corn, chilis, beans (if using), chili powder, and garlic powder in large bowl. Spread mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through.
Combine tomato, green onion, and cilantro in small bowl. Spoon into center of baked dip. Serve with tortilla chips.
This can be covered and chilled up to 24 hours before baking. Store cheese mixture and tomato mixture separately.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Must Read: Redeeming Love

This school year started out in a strange way--with a substitute in our department. One of my coworkers was on maternity leave at the beginning of the school year, and Rebecca came to fill in for the first six weeks. We were so lucky to get her! She is a great lady--still our sub of choice:) and comes by to see us every now and then. Rebecca told me I had to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (all 478 pages of it..) and she gave it to me one day and said I'd probably be giving it back almost immediately because I wouldn't be able to put it down.
She was right--I think I read our entire time traveling for Thanksgiving, and I normally can't read very long in the car. This book was really incredible. It's set during the Oregon Trail/Gold Rush era and makes you want to go live in those times, if only for a few days. It's an awesome love story and a retelling of the Book of Hosea. If you're looking for a great gift or something to add to your check out list from the library, you have to check this book out!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Apple Chutney

This "chutney" (cranberry sauce!) was a hit at our Thanksgiving table. We also sold it for treats at school to teachers to pretend like they made their own, and even our principal came by after to compliment on it.
This is so good we were eating it with a spoon, on top of our turkey, straight from the fridge, and wherever else! We were thinking how good it would be on a turkey sandwich, but it didn't make it that far:) This would be great for any meal!
Cranberry Apple Chutney

Makes about 2.5 cups

1 cup cranberry juice
2/3 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chopped granny smith apples
Juice from ½ of a lemon
1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped (optional--use more apples or cranberries otherwise)
2/3 to 1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

Combine juice, apples, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and apricots and simmer until thickened and with a syrup consistency, about 15 more minutes. (add in up to 1/3 cup more sugar here if necessary) Stir in chopped walnuts.
mashed together from a variety of sources, starting with Epicurious