Monday, January 31, 2011

Dad's Mac 'n Cheese Casserole + Accent Vlog

Evening everyone!

Before I get into dinner, my third article went live on Suite101 today! I decided I wanted to research Seasonal Affective Disorder, something that I haven't had to deal with over the past several years. After moving back to Connecticut, I realized very quickly how difficult long winter months can be - I hope this article can offer some help and guidance! Check it out here.

Now ... dinner!  Things have been a little bit crazy over here tonight, so I pulled out one of my dad's classic recipes to make a quick and easy dinner.

Mmm.  It's simple.  Here's how you make it.

Dad's Mac 'n Cheese Casserole

1 box Macaroni & Cheese, prepared according to instructions
1 pound Ground Beef
Sea Salt & Pepper
Chili Powder & Tabasco
Diced Onion & Garlic

Prepare the macaroni and cheese according the instructions on the box.  Add a little bit more milk than instructed (1/3 cup instead of 1/4 cup in this case).

Brown your beef, adding generous amounts of all of these spices.  Flavor is key with this dish, so don't be afraid to pour it on!

When the macaroni is ready ... 

... add the meat.  Stir and serve!

Maybe not the healthiest of dinners, but you could add some veggies or serve on a salad for some nutritional benefits. :)

And now ... I've been watching the "Accent Vlog" float around the blogging world for the past couple of days and I decided to play along today!  I grabbed my poor sweet husband into the shot and he played too!  I think the video is actually more fun with both of us, but you can be the judge of that.  Enjoy!  (I'll post the words/questions below the video if you want to play along!)

Accent Vlog from Sarah Weaver on Vimeo.

Words: Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

- What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
- What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
- What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
- What do you call gym shoes?
- What do you say to address a group of people?
- What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
- What do you call your grandparents?
- What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
- What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
- What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Play along!  Night!

Afternoon Soup

Afternoon everyone!

I heated up last night's dinner leftovers for lunch this afternoon.  Why is it that soup always seems to lose its soup-y-ness when it is stored?  It was like all of the moisture evaporated!  I ended up adding about 1/3 cup of water to give it some more liquid.  I stirred in some rice at the end because my leftover serving looked a little low on the rigatoni!

Colorful bowl on the outside.

Lots of great flavors and textures on the inside.

It was a late lunch, so I'm guessing it is going to be a late dinner, too.

See you later!  Bruce and I recorded one of those accent vlogs this afternoon and I'm uploading it to vimeo as we speak!  I can't wait for you all to see it.


Baked Oatmeal

Boy oh boy ...

Do I have a fun recipe for you!  Breakfast was yummy this morning.

This recipe was graciously gifted to me by Bruce's Aunt Jean last time we were in Pennsylvania visiting his family.  She even let me walk out of her house with it after I knocked an entire glass of red wine all over her white (!) upholstered dining room chairs.

Ugh, not one of my finer moments in life.

Hungarians.  We talk with our hands.  It's dangerous.

Let's get cooking, shall we?!

Baked Oatmeal
(adapted a wee bit from B's Aunt Jean)

3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/5 cup (5 tbsp) Butter, melted
2 Eggs
2 1/4 cups Oatmeal
1 cup Walnuts, chopped 
(Note - the original recipe didn't call for walnuts.  If you have nut allergies or don't really like the texture, leave 'em out!  It tastes just as good without them.)
1 tbsp Baking Powder
3/4 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla

Start by combining your brown sugar, melted butter and eggs.

Butter PSA - When melting butter in the microwave, don't melt it all the way.  Pull it out when it's almost melted and then whisk with a fork to melt the rest.  Otherwise, there is a chance you be cleaning exploded butter out of your microwave.

And when I say, there is a chance, I mean ... I did.


Stir until combined.

Then add your oatmeal.

And your baking powder.

Pour in your milk and vanilla.

Chop up your walnuts ...

Add them last!

Pour the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is a nice, golden brown.

Like so!

The butter makes this so moist that it just falls apart and then melts in your mouth.

Hungry yet?

The great thing about the recipe is that it is easily adaptable.  You could substitute fruit for the walnuts, leave them out all together, or top the whole thing with whipped cream and fresh fruit, Alaskan Waffle style.  Cover the dish with foil and store it in the fridge to keep it fresh for a couple of days and warm it up for future breakfasts.

And most importantly?  Enjoy.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Suped Up Soups


As I continue on my quest to rid my body of this cold, Bruce told me that I should see what kind of soup we had in our pantry for dinner.

I much obliged! 

I actually really like canned soups because they let me try different flavors of soup and give me ideas when I'm cooking my own.  But I do like to doctor them up a bit!

One things I've noticed about canned soups:  They almost NEVER need more salt.  So I tend to first add pepper for spice.  Then, because this soup had a tomato base, I added basil.  Then for some reason pulled out the rosemary.  I don't think I've EVER cooked with rosemary!  Maybe I thought the sweetness would remind me of warmer days?  I liked it.

I also cooked about a handful of mini rigatoni al dente and stirred them into the soup as it was heating up.  This addition made the soup heartier and gave me two servings out of the can of soup, instead of just one!

All served with a side of bread and butter.

So despite the fact that I have an office with a huge desk, a kitchen with long counter tops and stools, a dining room with an empty table and a living room and basement, both with a couches and over-sized chairs, I am currently blogging from the floor of Bruce's outdoor room!  What can I say?  I kind of love the guy who spends most of his time in it. :) I looked at the calendar the other day and realized the tomorrow is the four year anniversary of when we started dating!  Only four years?  It seems like forever ... (although the time has flown!)

About a week and a half after we started dating, I turned 22 years old - Bruce took me out to dinner and we took this photo before we left.  We look so young!


Icicle PSA

I was outside taking pics of my breakfast this morning when I heard a crash that caused me to jump three feet!

See all of those icicles on the back of my house?  There was one that had formed that was about NINE INCHES (!) wide and all three stories tall.  It all came crashing down in about four seconds.

Now it's in a big pile on the bottom deck.  Can you imagine what would have happened if someone had been standing there?  Icicles are pretty, but when they start to melt, it's dangerous!  I may try to knock some of the bigger ones down today before they fall.

PSA over. :)

Brown Sugar & Walnut Oatmeal, OJ on ice and Earl Grey Tea with Honey for breakfast.

I can't believe it took me until last year to make (non-instant) oatmeal on the stove and mix and top with my own fixins.  It's so much better than the packets!

Still trying to knock this cold out.  It's overstayed it's welcome, as far as I'm concerned.  I'm pondering some yoga later - I'm thinking it may loosen everything up?  We'll see ...

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Apparently My Cat Prays

We sat down to dinner in the Dining Room tonight!  I feel like we've been so busy that meals have been consumed on the couch or at my desk.  It felt good to have a sit-down (technology-free) meal.

I was also painfully reminded tonight that I need to figure out what to do with my mismatched table and chairs situation.  Suggestions?

Bruce and I aren't really good about "ritual" prayers, like before meals or at bedtimes, when it's just the two of us.  We're both much more spontaneous when it comes to prayers and meditations.  However, when we sit down at the table, I always feel like it's nice to bless the food.

Well tonight, in the middle of my prayer, Lilly pranced into the Dining Room, meowed twice and jumped onto the table!  I couldn't finish - I just started laughing.  Bruce said, "Well, she knew you were talking to God, she wanted to get a word in."

(God, sorry I got cut off before the 'amen'.)

Tonight's meal was inspired by these hashbrown patties that Bruce found at the grocery store.  Don't they remind you of elementary school cafeteria breakfasts?  I cooked them in the oven, though, not in oil.  I'm currently trying to figure out how to make them myself ...

Two eggs each, whisked with milk, scrambled with ham and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I heated the ham in the skillet with some butter before adding the eggs.  That worked well - the eggs didn't dry out while waiting for the ham to heat.

Still pumping myself with vitamin C.  I love juice served over lots of ice - maybe because it makes it so cold?

I topped off my meal with some Sleepytime Wellness Tea to help me drift off into dreamland ...


It's The Darkness That Gives Us Hope

(Ring Ring)

Me: Hello?
My Sister: You sound TERRIBLE!

(Thanks, Beth!)

This has been my view for much of the day.  Thankfully, I'm feeling much better.  I'm sounding more like myself and less like a man who had an altercation with a helium tank.

This precious one loves it when I take sick days.

I made a big salad for lunch and loaded it with fresh foods to continue to speed the healing process.

Romaine Lettuce
Roma Tomatoes
Pineapple Slices
Chopped Walnuts
Dressing: Sesame & Ginger Vinaigrette

Yes - it was THAT good.

Elizabeth Gilbert had a love affair with her pizza, I have love affairs with my salads.

Hulu has been keeping me entertained today and I came across episodes from season three of One Tree Hill.  Whitey (the basketball coach) said something that really resonated with me.

Remember it's only in the dark of night that you can see the stars.  And those stars will lead you home.
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