Simpatico: November 2010


Just the life and times of a silly girl, her dachshunds and all things Southern!

Shutterfly Christmas Card Give Away

I hate sending out Christmas Cards. I never think of a good design for a family card to print up so I get some generic Hallmark box and begrudgingly send them out thinking "next year will be my year to shine with a creative cutsey Christmas card!!!" only to do the same thing again the following year. Actually it more like I get a really adorable card from a friend, think "OMG I could so do that", put it into my address book for a jumping off point for next year, then forget its there until time to start addressing my store bought cards and think "great!" This year was panning out to be the same thing until I found out that Shutterfly was giving bloggers 50 FREE holiday cards, I went into happiness overload!! :) Now the only hard part is figuring out which of the bazillion designs I am going to use. The two pictures I have shown are my favorites thus far, but I am only a few minutes into my perusing of their offerings!!

HERE'S HOW: Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly…sign up here...

Check out some Christmas designs here

Check out some Holiday designs here

Dance of Death

Over the weekend a family friend was killed as a result of a drunk driver. Even writing this now makes my gulp down my feelings and blink a couple times to clear my eyes. She was marvelous... words cannot describe how much she meant to me and my brothers... Feelings are just too raw to talk about it without breaking down into tears yet again.

When I think about death I am reminded of the poem, and its translation, I learned in high school while studying about the Black Death. This poem speaks of the universality of death - no matter one's station in life, the dance of death unites us all.

The Dance of Death Artist: Sidney Harold Meteyard

Danse Macabre / Henri Cazalis

(Français )

Zig et zig et zag, la mort en cadence
Frappant une tombe avec son talon,
La mort à minuit joue un air de danse,
Zig et zig et zag, sur son violon.

Le vent d'hiver souffle, et la nuit est sombre,
Des gémissements sortent des tilleuls ;
Les squelettes blancs vont à travers l'ombre
Courant et sautant sous leurs grands linceuls,

Zig et zig et zag, chacun se trémousse,
On entend claquer les os des danseurs,
Un couple lascif s'assoit sur la mousse
Comme pour goûter d'anciennes douceurs.

Zig et zig et zag, la mort continue
De racler sans fin son aigre instrument.
Un voile est tombé ! La danseuse est nue !
Son danseur la serre amoureusement.

La dame est, dit-on, marquise ou baronne.
Et le vert galant un pauvre charron – Horreur !
Et voilà qu'elle s'abandonne
Comme si le rustre était un baron !

Zig et zig et zig, quelle sarabande!
Quels cercles de morts se donnant la main !
Zig et zig et zag, on voit dans la bande
Le roi gambader auprès du vilain!

Mais psit ! tout à coup on quitte la ronde,
On se pousse, on fuit, le coq a chanté
Oh ! La belle nuit pour le pauvre monde !
Et vive la mort et l'égalité !

Danse Macabre
/ Henri Cazalis

Translation: Peter Low

Zigger-zigger-zig tapping on a coffin
Death has got a beat and a toothy grin.
At the stroke of twelve plays a crazy polka
zigger-zigger-zag on his violin.

The night is dark, the winter winds blow
the tree-branches creak in the stormy clouds
and off the whitened skeletons go
they skip and they leap in their flowing shrouds.

Zigger-zigger-zig how they frisk and toss
dancing to the beat rattling every bone.
Now a lustful pair sit down on the moss
hoping to repeat pleasures they had known.

Zigger-zigger-zag Death is keeping at it
scraping out the tune on his violin.
Two have lost their veils they are dancing naked
he gives her a squeeze like a carnal sin.

The lady they say is of noble race
her partner a lad from the market town
but oh! she welcomes his embrace
as if the young boor had a royal crown.

Zigger-zigger-zig hand in hand a-dancing
what a host of dead risen from the turf
zigger-zigger-zag in that ghostly party
is the king himself romping with a serf.

But hush! all at once their hands let go.
They jostle, they flee they've heard the cock crow.
How lovely that night when poor folk are free!
So all praise to Death and equality!

Still Sleeping Off the Turkey

We are still sleeping off the Thanksgiving turkey and the midnight run to Old Navy.

Hope that your Friday is amazing!!

The "Got Me" Stories of Milo and Dixie

Summer of 2005 I decided that in order to have a perfect complete family a dog was necessary. I did lots and lots of research and knew that a Dachshund was the perfect family pet. I was an idiot and went to a breeder for a dog, but would not change it as on September 21, 2005 little Milo came to live with us.

He was 800 grams and looked like a waterlogged rat. All the ideas of crate training left the moment he whimpered. Since that first night he has been snuggled in my bed, warming my feet at night.

As any dachshund owner can tell you, these are the most stubborn dogs when it comes to potty training, and we too had our troubles especially when it rained. Each day we had such fun training him commands, taking him to the dog park, going on walks, and learning what it meant to have a new dog in the family.

All in all we spent the next four years becoming a family who enjoyed this sweet little diva dog. Believe me, just like the addition of a child, all of our normal plans changed when we had to begin thinking about this four legged human with fur we brought into the house. And if we failed to forget him, he would let us know quickly.

Then came Summer 2009...

In June we received a call from a friend at the local vet hospital. This poor little dachshund had been found abandoned by its family. Apparently she had spent almost a week locked inside their now empty rental house in the middle of July. They had left her some food and water, but it had disappeared before anyone had found her. She was dehydrated, malnourished, and hoarse from barking non-stop trying to get her owners to come back.

The rental house owner found her and brought her to my friend's vet clinic. It was touch and go for the first couple days. They did not know her exact age, but she was several months old and weighed only 1 pound. It took several weeks of care for her to be ready for us to pick up.

All the time we were waiting on her, I was wondering if bringing this little dog home was a good idea. You see, Milo is a diva. He enjoys being the top dog, having no one to take up his lap space, share his bones with or his sleeping space. But we knew that this little girl deserved a good home with someone who would care for her.

So we brought her home August 2009.... yeah it was not fun. Milo couldn't stand her presence. She was skiddish of everything, did not like me at all, and was so sickly. She immediately bonded with Reed and would follow him everywhere. This was bad when school started and he was gone for long periods of time each day... she would whine constantly until he returned.

It took so much patience to train her. It took extra patience to get Milo used to sharing his space with her. Even to this day, he asserts himself as the alpha dog and will take anything she has taken a liking to. It makes for a noisy house of barking and whining, but they are getting along better.

On this day, Thanksgiving, when people are giving thanks for family and friends who make their lives special, we include these two little dogs who make our house a home.

The Best Day of the Week (for a Dachshund)

Laundry Day!!!
*As Milo and Dixie demonstrate the appropriate 'sleepy-eyed, OMD this is super-warm, can I stay in here forever' stare.*

Dutch Apple Pie, the Shelle Way

I love an apple crisp... you know, cut apples, mixed with sugar and spices, covered with an oatmeal mixture and baked, then served with ice cream. It is the easiest of all desserts to make, therefore I keep the ingredients on hand just in case I have an itch for something sweet.

I decided to take my love of the apple crisp and make it into a pie...and I am totally pleased with the results..

Shelle's Apple Crisp Pie
Pie Filling:
* 1 (9 inch deep-dish) pie shell
* 5 cups apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2/3 cup white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 3/4 cup rolled oats
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest
* 1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make Apple Filling: Place apples in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons flour, white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well, then add to apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated. Remove pie shell from freezer. Place apple mixture in pie shell and dot with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil lightly on top of filling, but do not seal.Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While filling is baking, make the Topping: In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, oats, and lemon peel. Mix thoroughly, then cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Remove filling from oven and sprinkle oatmeal topping on top of apples. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until oat mixture is browned and apples are tender. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.

Red Beans and Rice (Lazy Style)

I cook a lot of Cajun dishes as my grandparents live in Louisiana. Although I will be the first to admit that my cooking is not nearly as good as my grandmothers, but I try my best to pass along my heritage to my small human. Luckily for me he enjoys the spicy flavored food as much as I.

This weekend I was extra lazy, even cooking via Pizza Hut for one meal. So today we will be having something homemade, but easily fixed as I must needs go shopping for the big Thanksgiving holiday meal.

Enjoy this recipe... It will feed 4 easily.

Red Beans and Rice
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*3 andouille sausage links, chopped
*1 small container prechopped onion, bell pepper, and celery mix
*1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (Chachere's is the brand I use)
*3/4 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*2 cans red beans, rinsed and drained
*1/4 cup water
*1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and onion mix to pan. Saute 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and soft. Add Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, and garlic to pan and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beans, 1/4 cup water, and tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in pepper right before serving. Serve over rice.

Its Sunday....

Which means three things....

Football, Dachshunds and Beer...

(and for a few of you lucky people in the Wisconsin Area, III Dachshunds Beer)

Have a Happy Sunday!

Sibling Rivalry - Dachshund Style

As of late there has been a huge uproar at my house over rawhide bones. One dog will chew until it is just the right consistency for further chewing, go get a drink of water to slobber it up some more, only to come back and find that newly masticated bit of hide in the mouth of the other dog.

THEN comes the uproar.

It starts with pleading looks.... then a whine.... then a 'hey give that back it was mine' bark... then another whine... then pleading looks to me... then the back and forth looks from me to the rawhide culprit... then back to barking... and more barking...

This goes on and on until the other dog either has to get water to slobber it up, or I get annoyed and start banging my head against a wall therefore causing them to stop and see if I will be ok to hand out dried chicken breast treats later. (A dog has to have its priorities!!)

I just need to remember the "Dachshund Creed":
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my mouth, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm chewing something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

And get an industrial grade set of earplugs.

A Friday Funny For You! :)

Peach Pecan Pancake Topping

I love breakfast for dinner. I love the aroma of bacon frying, the sweetness of some foods mixed with the saltiness of others, the sound of milk being poured into a glass, and the feel of a warm biscuit in my hand.

Breakfast is something difficult to do well at breakfast time. Well, it is for me. Seriously, I am barely coherent before noon, let alone be able to time out so the eggs are perfectly warm at the same time the biscuits are ready for buttering.

Last night we had breakfast with all the goodies: scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast, bacon and home fries. It was amazing. And to add just a little bit of special flavor to the meal I made a Peach Pecan Pancake topping.

I wish I had a picture of the topping. It wasn't that I didn't want to take the picture... Actually, that is exactly why you do not have a picture. I make horrible inartistic pancakes. They are lopsided. They taste fantastic, but look like something that was a mistake!

So enjoy the recipe without the picture... Its easy peasy, and everyone will enjoy! Use any leftovers on vanilla bean ice cream!!

Peach Pecan Pancake Topping

*1 can peaches, with juice
*2 tablespoons honey
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 cup chopped pecans
*2 teaspoons cornstarch
*1 tablespoon water

Coarsely chop peaches; reserve juice.
In saucepan mix peaches and juice with pecans, honey and cinnamon.
Dissolve cornstarch in water; add to peaches. Heat on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about 4-5 minutes.
Spoon 1/3 cup over hot pancakes.

If My Dog Was a Teacher...

This is what we would be taught... (although I am sure other animals can teach just a brilliantly, these are the things that Milo said I should know...)

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up an opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

Let others know when they have invaded your territory.

Take naps and stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout; run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.

Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken with Potatoes

Some days just ask for being lazy. You know, snuggled under a blanket, watching movies or reading a book, and worrying about nothing. On those types of days (and also on the uber busy days I do not have time to even think, just do) I have an abundance of slow cooker recipes which I choose from.

This is a new one, and just amazingly tasty. It will be added to my rotation!

Easy Chicken With Potatoes
* 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (thighs will work just as well)
* 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or mix basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder to equal same)
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
* 4 to 6 medium potatoes (or 4 large), peeled and cut into wedges or thick slices (russett, idaho or yukon work fantastically)

Place chicken in bottom of Crock Pot. Sprinkle with half of the Italian dressing, spices, and the grated cheese. Put the potatoes on top or around the chicken. Sprinkle with the rest of the dressing, spices, and cheese. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or until the chicken is done and potatoes are tender.

**The carrots are simply baby carrots, steamed in the microwave with a little water until tender, then drained well and mixed with butter, brown sugar and honey.

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Indian Summer has come and gone leaving us with the gray cold days of late fall. There is nothing I dislike more than being cold! In order to warm up, lots and lots of comforting foods are made during the next 3 months. The soup I made is one of my staples. It is easy to make and warms up easily the next day for lunch!!

Zuppa Toscana Soup
* 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage – crumbled
* 1/2 lb. smoked bacon – chopped
* (3) 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
* 4 lg. russet potatoes – scrubbed clean, cubed
* 2 garlic cloves – peeled, crushed
* 1 yellow onion – peeled, chopped
* 2 cups chopped kale
* 2 cup heavy whipping cream
* salt and white pepper – to taste

Brown sausage in a pan over medium, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain sausage and set to the side. Spoon off any grease left in the pan.
Brown bacon in a the same pan over medium until crispy. Drain bacon and set to the side.
Using the bacon grease remaining, saute the onion until translucent.
Place broth, garlic, potatoes and sauted onion in a large dutch oven. Simmer over medium heat until potatoes are tender; around 30 minutes.
Add sausage and bacon to the soup. Simmer until heated through.
Add kale and cream and lightly season with salt and pepper. Heat thoroughly until the kale slightly wilts.

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie

I have to admit I have never made a Pumpkin Pie before. I have never made pumpkin fudge, cheesecake, bars, etc, either. I am not a pumpkin enthusiast. But, I have a small human who has some how been born with the pumpkin gene. So for him, I tried to make my very first pumpkin pie.

I always like to do a dry run of new recipes prior to a big celebration. And, since this was my very first can of pumpkin to open, I went the chicken way out and tried the recipe on the can. All in all it turned out marvelous. He was pleased, therefore I was pleased as well. Yay, me!!

However I have a trick for my next pumpkin pie given to me by my friend MacKenzie. She suggested I use phyllo for the crust, but with a twist. During the buttering of the phyllo layers sprinkle with a combination of cinnamon and sugar for extra goodness. I shall be trying this next week when I make my Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie!! ;)

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie
* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
* 1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool for at least two hours before serving. All leftovers should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Yummy, Creamy Coconut Pie

There is one pie I adore, but I never make as I am the only one in the house who likes it. In other words, if it is made, I must eat the whole thing. I am rather partial to the clothing I have in my closet, so I refrain from cooking things only I enjoy for this reason. :)

But today I just had to make one of these delish pies to enjoy! :) I rationalized that I had one pie shell left in the freezer so I had to make 'something'. As I had all the ingredients on hand -how fortuitous- then yay!! coconut cream pie!

Coconut Cream Pie
* 3 cups half-and-half
* 2 eggs
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 (9 inch, deep dish) pie shell, baked
* 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
Top with whipped topping, and with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut.
*To toast coconut, spread in an ungreased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Easiest Chicken Curry Ever!!

When I am in the middle of a project the slow-cooker is my favorite dinnertime friend. And, this dish is always at the top of my picks for dinner. Four ingredients and 8 hours.... how much easier can it get?

Shelle's Easy Chicken Curry
*2 lbs Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts (I buy a bag of the frozen and take out 1 or 2)
*1 jar (around 16oz) low sodium chunky salsa (Rocky Mountain Company has a great one)
*1 small yellow onion, chopped
*2 Tbsp. curry powder
*1 cup fat free sour cream

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine next 3 ingredients; pour over chicken. Cover with lid.
Cook on low 8 to 10 hours (or on high 5 hours).
Place chicken on serving platter. Add sour cream to slow cooker; stir until well blended. Serve over chicken.

I make jasmine rice -cough or by a bag of the frozen jasmine rice at Whole Foods cough- and serve with this dish. It is so flavorful.

If you do not like sour cream, it can be left out. You will find that the dish is just as good and the flavor is more intense.

Monte Cristo - Shelle's Healthier Version

Ever since I have taken my small human to Movie Tavern and he experienced his first Monte Cristo he has been hooked. Who could possibly turn down sweet and salty in a sandwich!! Since then I have been trying several at home versions of the recipe, and this is the one that we have found to be the best. It is made on a panini press or indoor grill -cough George Foreman cough- so there is no extra oil other than what is added to the egg wash.

Enjoy... we sure do!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches (makes 4)
* 8 slices whole grain (or sourdough) bread
* 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
* 1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
* 4 thin slices Swiss cheese
* 1/2 lb. thinly sliced turkey
* 4 thin slices Provolone cheese
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 Tbsp. milk
* 1 Tbsp. oil
* 1 cup finely crushed crispy rice cereal
* powdered sugar
* strawberry jam

Spread one side of each bread slice with Dijon mustard. Make sandwiches with the two kinds of cheese and the ham and turkey slices.
In a bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil and beat well. Place crushed cereal on a shallow plate. Dip each sandwich briefly into egg mixture, then into cereal mixture to coat.
Grill sandwiches on a dual contact grill or panini grill until crisp and brown.
Sprinkle hot sandwiches with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam for dipping.

The Rachel (Actually Its About the Taters)

Today for lunch, since my little man is home from environmental camp and he won't eat anything that he knows has mayonnaise in it... seriously, how can he be called Southern if he refuses the condiment of choice for sandwiches...I fixed a Rachel.

Rachels are easy-peasy to make: Light Rye Hoagie buns, pastrami cut seriously thin, swiss cheese which is broiled until a hot gooey mess and topped with fresh cole slaw and thousand island salad dressing... yes, that is a mess and I will throw away the shirt after I finish dropping it all over myself.

Since it is so easy, I won't tell you step by step how to make the Rachel. Even my little man could make it... well, if he would grow up and start ingesting the totally delish mayonnaise. So I will stick with the Taters which I will serve with my sandwich.

They are a hardy potato dish. You could easily serve to company with a fish or meat, accompanied by a lovely red wine. It looks very difficult, but is simple to make. The favors are outstanding and the aroma makes me think of 'home'.

Rosemary, Garlic, Olive Oil Potatoes ala Shelle
* 1 pound potatoes (your choice: red, russet, Idaho, Yukon)
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 rosemary sprigs (fresh) or 1 tablespoon rosemary (dried)
* 5 medium garlic cloves, crushed
* Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly scrub the potatoes, dry them well, and quarter them (eighth them if they are larger potatoes).
Add the oil to a 9x13 baking dish, add the potatoes, rosemary, and garlic and lightly toss. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Placing the baking dish on the bottom rack to roast the potatoes slowly. Check occasionally so that they don’t burn but have a nice crust and are dark golden brown (about 35 minutes)

Comfort Food Part Deux

I am really feeling bad today. I have a project that keeps getting these little 'last minute changes', which means that my portion of the project is going to be delayed. I am a girl who loves to be on time, and someone is making it very difficult for me to be the kinda girl I like to be.

My first mad thought was "I want gravy, in a bowl, with toast, NOW!!"
Then I thought "Yeah, might as well just buy the fat(ter) jeans while Old Navy is having a sale." *30% with their coupon in the stores!!*

Then I changed my mind and went a little bit more on the healthier side of the comfort food list. Best part of this recipe, it only makes a couple servings so I can have for dinner and then have it for breakfast tomorrow...and not throw much away.

So enjoy a bit of breakfast, my way... no gravy (shucks) but with strawberry jam and some whole grain toast!!

Breakfast Casserole Recipe
* 2 sliced bread
* 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
* 3 eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Remove the crust from the bread and cut into 1-in. cubes. Place in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. In a skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Sprinkle the sausage and cheese over bread cubes. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the sausage and cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Comfort Food Without Too Many Calories

Ok, my little dude has gone away for 3 days to an environmental camp so I am needing some serious comforting. You know, the kind that involves a Nicholas Sparks sappy movie, not taking a shower, a bottle of wine and several thousand calories all fried up and presented on a paper plate.

However, I am being good...
No Nicholas Sparks (don't like him anyway, too predictable a plot) so watching comic book movies instead
Bottle of water instead of wine. However if Jesus does wanna pass over it, I am so into a nice Merlot.
No artery clogging fare for me, it shall be.. ok, well it is a wee bit bad, but heck I am drinking water for gosh sake!!

Menu tonight:

The heated bacon dressing wilts the spinach leaves and gives this salad a wonderfully delicate flavor.

Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing

  • 10 to 12 ounces fresh spinach, washed and torn into bit-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs
  • 2 to 4 slices bacon
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
Place spinach in a large bowl and toss with the onion. Refrigerate, tightly covered, while you prepare the remaining items.
Fry bacon until crisp; drain on paper towel and set aside. Combine drippings with sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Refrigerate all ingredients until just before serving. When ready to serve, microwave the dressing on HIGH for 30 to 45 seconds, or until mixture boils. Toss the greens with the hot dressing. Top with sliced egg and crumbled bacon.

And, I am NOT taking a shower!! Pfffftttt!

Happy Birthday Feast!

Today is Reed's birthday! Yay, him!! So tonight involves a feast of his favorite foods dined en familia. It's a family tradition. The night before we eat out. In our case we ate in; the house filled with people playing games, and eating pizza and wings from Pizza Hut.

The day of the birthday we celebrate with family, serving the birthday boy or girl their favorite dishes.

So in honor of Reed's birthday, here is tonight's menu...

Tonight's Birthday Celebration Menu:
Stracciatella Soup
Tomato and Onion Salad

Shrimp and Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Garlic and Oil)

Crusty Bread served with my homemade bread dipping spice

Stracciatella Soup
* 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 2 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 2 tablepoons chopped fresh basil leaves
* 1 cup lightly packed spinach leaves, cut in thin strips
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, cheese, parsley, and basil to blend. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the broth in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin strands of egg, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach, then season the soup, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Tomato and Onion Salad
* 5 medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, gently seeded, and thinly sliced
* 1 small white skinned onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)
* A generous drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
* Coarse salt and black pepper
* Crusty Bread, as an accompaniment

Toss the tomatoes and onions with the chopped parsley, oil, salt, and pepper. Let stand about 20 minutes.

Shrimp and Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Garlic and Oil):
* 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
* 1 lemon, juiced
* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
* Coarse salt, about 1 teaspoon
* 2 tablespoons (a couple of generous drizzles) extra-virgin olive oil

Aglio Olio:
* 1/4 cup (4 turns around the pan in a light stream) extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 (2-ounce) tin anchovy fillets
* 6 to 8 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
* Coarse salt
* 1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Combine shrimp with next 6 ingredients and toss to coat shrimp evenly.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat, then add half of the shrimp. Cook shrimp 3 minutes until pink and just firm. Remove shrimp to a warm platter and repeat process with remaining shrimp.

Return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium low. Add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add anchovies, garlic, and pepper flakes to oil. Break up anchovies with a wooden spoon until they melt away into the oil and garlic mixture.

Toss spaghetti in the pan with parsley and the garlic oil, then season with a little coarse salt, to your taste. Top servings of garlic and oil spaghetti with shrimp and serve

Bread Dipping Spice:
*1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
*1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
*1 tablespoon minced garlic
*1 teaspoon dried thyme
*1 teaspoon dried oregano
*1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
*1/2 teaspoon fine-chopped fresh rosemary
*1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
*1/2 teaspoon olive oil
*1/8 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice

In the bowl of a small food chopper or small food processor fitted with the metal blade, place all the herbs and spices. Chop or use on/off pulses to chop all the ingredients to a uniform size. Place in a small bowl and add oil and lemon juice. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Makes about 4 1/2 tablespoons spice mixture.

Pecan Pie in All Its Yumminess!

I have a fondness for the fall. It always brings with it turkey, sweet potatoes, homemade pies, this broccoli, bacon, mozzarella cheese thing that is to die for.

No really, it is enough for you to cut off the hands of the person reaching for the last bits in the bowl.

But today is all about the Pecan Pie.

I made one late last week. It didn't make it past late last week. I got one, tiny little minuscule bite of it before it was consumed like a dog who had not ate for weeks.

As I said, fall brings these things... and apparently the worst in people as well.

I am a lazy baker though. I admit. Making a homemade crust is something for when, you know, you are giving the pie to someone. If it is staying in the house, to be consumed within seconds like this last pie, a frozen pie crust is good enough.

I am including the Pie Crust recipe, but feel free to do as I, just buy the cursed crust and use that time sipping some tea.

Southern Pecan Pie
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* Flour, for rolling the dough

* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup packed light brown sugar
* 3/4 cup light corn syrup
* 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
* 2 cups chopped toasted pecans
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 3 eggs, lightly beaten


Make the dough by hand: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.

Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don't let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired. Freeze the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans. Continue baking until the pie shell is lightly golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

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