Monthly Archives: April 2011

Chick-a-Roni

Some meals, sometimes, just need to be simple. Whether you are short on time or short on brain power, there is no shame in pulling out ingredients where the prep work is done for you, tossing them together, and calling it dinner

At least, I’m not ashamed.

Fact: This recipe is on the Rice-A-Roni box.
Of course, I adapted it to make it allergy friendly and added a veggie, but it is so simple! It literally takes a half hour, start to finish. I also love it because it uses uncooked boneless skinless chicken with no extra cooking time, rather than using precooked grilled chicken breast strips.

Man, I love those precooked strips. They make my life so easy. But they are expensive.

 When I’m in a hurry, I tend to grab the precooked stuff, but this just cooks right along with the rice. The only extra step you need is to cut the meat before you put it in the pan. Kitchen scissors, anyone?


And hello, this meal is a one-pan meal. Which totally makes cleanup amazingly easy.


Chick-a-Roni
adapted from the Rice-A-Roni box recipe

1 box Rice-A-Roni, Chicken flavor
2 T. margarine or butter
2 c. water
1 lb. uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 c. frozen broccoli 

In large skillet, sauté rice-vermicelli mix with 2 T. margarine (I used Bestlife Buttery Baking Sticks) over medium heat until vermicelli is golden brown, stirring frequently.

Slowly stir in 2 c. water, Special Seasonings, and 1 lb. uncooked boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces; bring to a boil.

 Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Add frozen broccoli during the last 5 minutes of simmering. Turn off heat. Let stand 5 minutes, toss, and serve.

Optional: top with 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese before standing time.



Cascarones

In our house, Easter is a religious holiday. Meaning we don’t do big Easter baskets and my kids know the “Easter Bunny” is 
total crap.
It’s quite possible I’m an Easter Bunny Scrooge, but seriously, a bunny that brings eggs? What is going on here and why aren’t we more concerned about this??

We of course participate in Easter Egg hunts, but there are no delusions about who is hiding the candy. Saturday is usually the day we do real Easter Stuff–all the family parties. Sunday I honestly didn’t have much planned. Jordan and Rebecca were with their mother Sunday evening, so there was no sense in going all out for an Easter dinner.

I actually canned strawberry jam on Saturday night so we had a nice Sunday brunch consisting of homemade bread, homemade jam, and scrambled eggs. A lot of scrambled eggs. And those who were interested had a few hard boiled eggs too. :)

Speaking of scrambled eggs… my hubby and I are not big hard boiled egg fans so I decided to blow out the majority of our dyed easter eggs out this year, rather than boiling them. So, Sunday morning we dyed raw (!) Easter Eggs, then without the children’s knowledge, I ever so carefully cracked the eggs open, stirred up the yolks, and poured them into a bowl to make cascarones. 
With cascarones, you need the hole big enough to be able to put confetti inside so you don’t actually need to blow out the egg. Very easy. In hindsight, I would have cracked the eggs first. 


Then I filled the eggs with confetti.


And glued matching tissue paper over the hole.


Let the glue dry and turned them over ready for smashing!

Just a note on how inexpensive this activity was: this is the bag of $1 confetti from Walmart after all 22 eggs were filled. Next year I plan on doing a lot more but even still, this bag is going to last me several years. The rest of the purchases were eggs (on sale for Easter at $.79/dozen!) and the egg dye I had gotten the year before on the post-Easter clearance sale. So buy your dye now, folks!

We were officially ready for smashing. I told my kids I wanted to take a picture of them for Easter, which was a total ruse since they were really just wearing their Sunday clothes. I couldn’t do Easter clothes this year, which made me sad. I posed Gary behind them, ready for action and the fun began!

You can click on the pictures for a close up view of the action.
I love these pictures. The impact, the utter confusion about why their dad just hit them on the head, the action… and is it just me, or does Gary look a little too serious about hitting them over their heads??

Once the kids caught on, the short-lived fun was a blast. None of us escaped getting hit with an egg. And no, Nicole isn’t hurting in that picture in the upper left. It had dawned on her that her dress was getting dirty. What a little princess, huh?

And the “After” picture. I think we lost Abigail. Hmm…

Definitely a new tradition for our family! It’s kind of exciting to start our very own traditions as a family, rather than copying or altering traditions we both had as a kid. Do you have any fun traditions that are unique to your family? Let us know!

National Pretzel Day

Do you love pretzels?
Not the dry super salty kind from the bag, 
but the soft, 
melt in your mouth
doughy kind from the mall.



Ooohhhh yeeahhh….

Today you can get a
free pretzel
from PretzelMaker

just by saying “National Pretzel Day!”

Apparently, limited stores are participating. But check out the list here <—
because more likely than not, the store by you is participating!

Whew. That’s one lunch I don’t have to think about!

Perfect White Cupcakes


I’m somewhat of a homemade cake snob. 
Not because I was born & raised on homemade cake…
but because I was raised on cake from a box

I try to bake from scratch as often as possible, if only because I enjoy it. I know about all the Big Bad Chemicals in box mixes, but sometimes convenience is worth the risk. Anyway, I was raised on box mix cake and I (gasp) prefer the taste. And the texture. Something about box mix cake is so light and fluffy and moist, whereas the majority of homemade cakes that I have personally had are dense, dry, and bland.

There are exceptions. I’ve searched high and low for exceptions and trust me, they are hard to find. One such cake recipe comes from a surprising source:

Product Image



I’m typically wary of recipe books that are sold more for the packaging than anything else, but this was so cute. Plus, it was on clearance for $4. Irresistible! Check out just how cute these are:
Picture

Isn’t that fun? I love it. She has so many different types of cupcake, from kid-friendly cupcakes, to cupcakes sure to impress even the most pretentious of your neighbors.

I tweaked the recipe just a bit (mainly omitted the almond flavoring). It’s a light, fluffy, sweet cupcake that’s so white it’s heavenly. :) Not to be confused with Angel Food Cake, though the two do have something in common: beaten egg whites. That’s the trick, folks. Egg whites! Who woulda thunk it, hmm?

 
 Perfect White Cupcakes

2 1/2 c. cake flour (or all purpose flour)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. whole milk (Low fat is okay)
1 T. vanilla
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 c. sugar
6 large egg whites, room temp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tin cups with paper liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, stir the milk and vanilla extract together.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until lightened in color, about 3 minutes. The mixture will look sugary and form large clumps. On low speed, add the flour mixture  in three additions and the milk mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until flour is incorporated. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with clean beaters on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Beat on high speed until the egg whites look shiny and smooth and the beaters form lines in the egg whites (soft peak). The egg whites should cling to the beaters. Stir one-third of the eggs into the batter. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended. 

Fill each paper with 1/3 c. batter. Bake just until the top feels firm, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the cupcakes from the pan onto a wire rack and cool completely.


Frost as desired.

Allergy Notes: Substitute the whole milk for plain soy milk and the butter for Best Life Buttery Sticks. Quite delicious!


Now that you’ve made your perfect white cupcakes, you’re going to need something to frost it with, am I right? I don’t use the frosting that is suggested on the recipe card, though I’m sure it’s lovely. No, you’re going to need perfect white frosting for your perfect cupcakes, and tomorrow, I’m giving you the recipe! 

(Or Monday? Tomorrow is pretty busy. I’ll get around it eventually, I’m sure. 
Hold your horses.)

My Worst Enemy

Disclaimer: I’ve gone back and forth for a few hours now on posting this. No judging, you swear?

Give me any kid, I can make him or her stop crying.
(Really.)

Give me some basic ingredients and a working oven, I can whip up dinner, or even better, a yummy and budget friendly dessert. 

Give me some materials and I can sew a simple skirt, make a quilt, or tole paint a sign for the front door. I can mod podge till I drop, photograph and digital scrapbook the important moments of our lives.
No problem.


Give me a pile of laundry…
and I’ll go take a nap.

This is the only picture of me on my computer doing anything close to napping. It was taken 2 weeks after we got married and clearly, I was already contemplating my hatred of laundry. :)

As a person who struggles daily (even medicated) with AD/HD, cleaning is a battle I fight everyday. I typically lose. Even if I get the house clean, I don’t have the energy to pick up after the kids after they get home, hurry and do homework, dump their stuff all over, feed them dinner, (don’t ask about doing the dishes please), then shuffle them off to bed.

It’s just too hard.

Laundry is my worst nemesis. 
It’s an ADDer’s worst nightmare. A person with AD/HD can often start things. But finishing? Urgh. Here’s what I see when I see laundry to be done:

1- put the laundry in the washer
(first, gather the laundry, sort the laundry, move the laundry downstairs, take whatever is in the dryer out of the dryer and put it somewhere so you can put what it is in the washer into the dryer so you can put the dirty clothes into the washer.)

2- put the laundry into the dryer
(wait unto clothes currently in the washer are dry, move those clothes somewhere else, then put the wet clothes into the dryer and start the dryer. All this being dependent on remembering you have clothes in the washer!)

3- remove clothes from dryer
 (if you are lucky enough to remember to have dried the clothes, you need to remember to check to see if they clothes are dry–they probably aren’t–so you need to start the cycle again and try really hard to remember to remove them from the dryer later. Then you’ll need to find a clean place for the clothes. Keep in mind this is probably the same place you put two previous loads of laundry.)


4- fold the clothes
(you now have minimally three loads of laundry to fold. Where to fold is tricky. Hopefully you have a place that you can watch TV so you’re less inclined to wander off. If you spread it out on the floor in your family room though, you’ll eventually get distracted and your kids will wander through and ruin your piles. You’ll get frustrated and not want to refold them then when you have family prayers later you’ll shove the whole pile in the corner and try really hard to forget about it. That is, if the kids are not destroying piles as you fold. After each pile is successfully folded or hung up, you must remember to return repeatedly to the laundry to hang up and put away each item.)

5- repeat.
(and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat and repeat…)

Since this is real life, and not some fantasy where I actually do all the aforementioned steps to laundry completion, my family room now looks like this. I’m not even sure where the crackers came from.

And now I get to start all over.

Update: 
Flylady.net has great advice on what she has termed “Mount Washmore.” I’m reading it over and thinking about what tricks I can implement. You can check out her laundry advice here. I’ll let you know what (if anything) I do and how it has helped The Situation.
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