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The G's Take Texas

This is about how California natives navigate a transfer to the great state of Texas; venturing away from family, friends, and all that is familiar.

Month

December 2014

Have One Hell of A Time

I can bore you all to death with a year in review. I am sure you would all like to know about our 2 moves, the birth of our second child (Munchkin), and another birthday for Mr. G, Toddler, and myself… but how much fun would that really be. I would probably bore the bee-geezus out of you and leave you no time to ring in the new year. For sake of argument I am going to skip all that fun stuff and move right along. In “research” for my blog today I came across this quote:

“We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don’t think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you’re hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time.” – Art Buchwald

I don’t know much about Mr. Buchwald, but I do know he was a writer of satire and according to him and some sort of settlement he agreed upon with Paramount Pictures, he had a hand in the writing of Coming to America (the movie starring Eddie Murphy). But, that is neither here, nor there… his thoughts (as I would understand them) were somewhere along the lines of: why waste your time reminiscing the past when you can put all that effort into enjoying the present.

I will be enjoying the present today with my kiddos and hubby (although he will be at work for a bit longer). I am going to enjoy my last day (for at least a month) of meat, cheese, etc. I am going to relax. I am going to watch the kiddos play. I am going to cook… something. I am going to go to sleep early and wake up to a new year.

I wish you all a wonderful night of fun and dancing. And if you choose to reminisce, I hope you do so briefly so you don’t miss what it taking place right now. Be safe everyone! Cheers!

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This Is Mmmmm Good, But Not Soup

It’s been two days… two long freakin’ days! I know I need to blog like EVERY day and then I am sure it will make me feel better, ’cause right now I have like emotional constipation. HAHAHAHA! (Ok, I know, I know… I have the maturity of a 5-year-old boy when it comes to talking about bodily functions.) Anyways, it really feels like it has been far too long. I hate feeling like I have so much to say and not enough time to write, which it probably the case all the time since I am the care taker of two mini-dictators.

After Christmas, I got back to thinking about food. Who doesn’t love food? It’s in our every day life. We need to have it in order to survive. We can eat a wide variety of them. But, really what stops us from trying new things? With my mini-dictators for example. I had an episode when the Toddler was having a fit over wanting “mo’, mo'” (that’s his version of more). After a grilled cheese sandwich and graham crackers I thought it would be a good time to give the kid some veggies and on most days he loves carrots. Well, that day was not today. He literally threw a tantrum in his big boy (what we call his highchair) as he tried desperately to hand them back to me. When I tried to find a different location on his big boy tray to put them he threw an even bigger fit. I am surprised that the damn things didn’t jump off the tray themselves to avoid the flailing. Here I go to rescue them and take them back to the cutting board and I start eating them. After I am about half way through eating them and dipping them in his “dip, dip” (that what he calls his ranch and ketchup, and I was going for the ranch in this case) he started to look at me like, “what are you eating, and why don’t I have any of that.” I then started making the yummy noises after each bite, “mmmmmmm good” and then I would show him what I was eating. Then, and only then, he decided he wanted some. I set him up with a small handful as to not anger the beast again, and walked away. As I sat and watch and waited for the inevitable tantrum… it never came. I would slowly add a few to his pile here and there. Still no tantrum. That kid ate all but one of those carrot sticks.

WOW! What is this?!?!? Have I found the secret to toddler eating? Hmmm… maybe I should do more research. We did it with veggie spring rolls. These spring rolls have cabbage, carrots, celery, and I think some zucchini or something in it. We had a different “dip, dip” this time (teriyaki sauce). I am over there eating away (no yummy noises this time). He points and stares. I offer him some and first bite… no spitting out, no tantrum… OMG, HE SWALLOWED IT!!! Then another bite… no shaking his head, no weird face… HE SWALLOWED IT AGAIN!!! Now he is pointing to his tray. He wants some of his own. He wants to feed it to himself. This is amazing!

This kid eats anything (for the most part) that we eat. If we are eating a sandwich, he wants bites. If we are eating a burger, he wants bites. If we are eating salad, he wants his own. Kids eat what you eat and they look at you and your facial responses to decide if they really want to try it too. It shocks the sh** out of me that he is willing to try some of the stuff that we eat despite all the potential “weirdness”. But, then it doesn’t surprise me too much because he wants to be a big boy. He is ready to take the plunge into “big-boyhood” and it’s something that we can’t take lightly.

With this latest Toddler discovery and Mr. G and my interest in making more of an effort to be health conscious we had a discussion on our hands. After I looked through my Thug Kitchen cookbook and browsing on their website we thought it would be a really good idea to test their theory. So, for the month of January, we are challenging ourselves to eat fruits, veggies and no meat. We are talking no chicken, beef, pork, fish, etc. We are also going to see if the Toddler can join us in that journey (if not, I won’t be withholding that kind of nutrition from him… he has to eat something). This is a big deal, especially if you know Mr. G. He is all about the meat. So, we are going to go without that, and I am going to try (yep, I can only say try because this part is the kicker) to go without dairy – cheese, don’t say it’s so – and eggs (so no animal products). Well, I will try.

I LOVE cheese, but who doesn’t?

I will be updating you all on recipes and such that we encounter, but I really will need your help to keep me honest. I want you to ask me about it. Make sure I haven’t strayed from the path of better and clean eating. Watch my recipes. I will have ONE night of pure indulgence with my cooking club, but just the one night. I am going to do my damnedest to keep you in the loop. At the end of the month I will do an evaluation to let you know what I will keep doing (if anything) and what I thought of my month.

Since this is still December I am going to give you some holiday goods. We made this for Christmas dessert. Remember I was having a hell of a time finding a Weight Watcher friendly dessert. Well, we did our best and made one based off of a recipe I found on Pinterest. It was rather festive and I will admit I will probably make it again (maybe tweak the filling next time). It is a Cherry Cheesecake Trifle from Freebie Finding Mom.

Cherry Cheesecake Trifle

This is how ours turned out, but unfortunately we started to run out of cherry filling (we only had 2 cans instead of 3) and we had some of the cheesecake filling left over so this one is like excess cheesecake filling. But who doesn’t like cheesecake right?!?!

INGREDIENTS

*This recipe makes 8 Christmas trifle desserts.

1 Full box of graham crackers (if you choose to not have such finely ground graham crackers you may use less)
8 ounces of cream cheese (softened, but I took mine right from the fridge and it did fine, we also used the light cream cheese, it’s really your call on what would best suit you and your family)
3 containers Cool Whip (we used the free Cool Whip, again this can be altered to your preference)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Cans cherry pie filling (we used the sugar free)

MATERIALS
Zip lock freezer bag
Food Processor/Blender
Large bowl
Electric hand mixer
Serving bowl or glass(es)

DIRECTIONS

1. Place the graham crackers in food processor and let it run until graham crackers have been ground to sand like composition. Set the crumbs aside.

2. In a large bowl, whip together the cream cheese, Cool Whip, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Place mixture in large zip lock freezer bag and close the seal. Snip bottom corner of the bag so there is a nickel sized opening to squeeze mixture out of.

3. In a bowl or a glass, create a base layer of graham cracker crumbs followed by a layer of the cheesecake filling and topped with a bit of cherry pie filling.

4. Repeat layers until the glass is full.

Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. (I would recommend refrigerating for at least 6 hours or until well chilled, it tastes better that way in my opinion.)

**This is my adaptation from Freebie Finding Mom‘s Cherry Cheesecake Trifle recipe. Their version is fantastic (and for a smaller quantity of people), I just doctored a few minor things to better fit me and my family.

The thing that is great about this recipe is that you can really make it how ever you want. You can do fresh fruit if you choose. You can even change the fruit up. You can do blueberries, strawberries, peaches, or even your favorite jam/preserves. It is so versatile for any kind of event too. It would be great in a huge version (like in a trifle bowl), but serving can get a bit messy. Just do what best suits you and your guests.

Enjoy your beautiful Tuesday, and I will be creating a bad ass shopping list for my no meat month of January. Do you have any good recipes that don’t have meat in it? Share it with me.

Spoiled Rotten

I am proud to say this post isn’t entirely about food, so don’t worry you won’t find any disgusting pictures of rotted tomatoes or moldy lettuce. When I say, “spoiled rotten” I am talking about my kids. You know, after the holidays they have more stuff then they know what to do with. Yeah… that’s them right now. I am sitting on my worn leather couch staring into the endless abyss of toys. Stuffed animals, blocks, teethers, musical instruments, etc. It’s all out and on my living room floor. Will I clean it up? Eventually… but right now I am also going to talk about how I was also spoiled rotten. Now, I have to admit when I walked into our family’s Christmas gathering I kinda thought that the kids would be spoiled beyond belief, but never did I think I too would be spoiled… and Mr. G too! It was pretty intense. Some of these gifts sat taller than I did. Let me explain…

We purchased a home like 6 months ago. Yep, our first home. Please, please… hold your applause. I know we are contributing to our states economy and all by purchasing housing here, but quite frankly California is ex-pen-sive. Aside from the fact that it’s on the coast, it really could be knocked down a peg or two on the “cool meter” and still live up to everyone’s expectations. I will admit I love it here and dreaded the thought of relocating to another state. So, when we found a beautiful, albeit slight fixer-upper, we jumped on the damn thing, It is kinda like that “rainbow unicorn” that I mentioned in my previous post… it just doesn’t exist. By the grace of God, we got the beautiful house we fell in love with and now we are in the process of fixing it up here and there.

Our gifts that I mentioned were literally taller than us (while sitting). That’s a big deal for an adult. Like get the kids gifts! Go nuts, but us? Really? We were just so blessed by the generosity of our family. The things that are super handy that we have on our house work belt is… a step ladder, a whole bag of super tools, a car tire gauge, hand shovels and gloves. It is a new home owners dream. We even got stuff non-house related.This is where it will tie in more to what I am going to be doing on here. I wanted used cookbooks. I don’t need new ones. If anyone has ever seen me cook they know why, and if you haven’t seen me cook you really don’t want to. I am a disaster. I have food all over me when I am done; in my hair, on my clothes, and all over the counters of my kitchen. I am a freakin’ tornado. One of my brothers got me some super awesome cookbooks… (I haven’t read them all the way through yet, but you can just tell by the covers of them.) ***Cue uncontrollable laughter***

I am so excited to cook from these you don’t even know.

I am so excited I can barely contain myself. Then, as my other part of the gift (as if these weren’t enough already) both of my bad ass brothers got me some clothes. I think they know me a little too well. First I can cook and then I can change my clothes after the cooking “magic” happens.

I am hoping to really start utilizing these books. From what I understand so far the Thug Kitchen cookbook is all fruits, veggies, no meat or cheeses. I am sure there is more to it than that, but that is what I have gathered from reading the first few pages. The Fifty Shades of Chicken just has ever dish labeled something dirty and a little raunchy. ***Commence school girl giggles*** Did I say how excited I am to use these?!?!?

Then the next item on the, “OMG I can’t believe I got so spoiled,” list was a Fitbit! I have decided that the Weight Watcher path is awesome for me and for others, but this doesn’t require a monthly membership fee. I am really excited to use it and see what kind of action I can see on the scale and on my body.

YAY!!! So ready to kick some major calories and lbs.

I am armed to lose weight and dangerous to all who want to f**k around in my kitchen. HAHAHAH! Next week we will be going grocery shopping, so until then I will be sticking with my regular Pinterest finds.

What did you do on your holiday? Did you celebrate anything in particular? Did you cook? I am sure you ate… what did you eat? Common, share something good.

And The Lights Twinkled

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Have a lovely Kwanzaa! And if you don’t celebrate anything, have an awesome day off on your employer. This is the time of family and home. It is the time you get to sip hot cocoa, unwrap gifts, share stories of the year, etc. It is really a time for family tradition and shared memories. The above clip from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York always reminds me of my childhood. It’s one of those things that my brothers and I would watch repeatedly and then at the end we would laugh hysterically at Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get pummeled by Macaulay Culkin. Good times!

This year is a new experience. This time we have a 2 year old and our newest addition to share the day with. Yep, Munchkin’s first Christmas. Toddler knows the routine pretty well, but every year is a new experience for him until he can remember it all. But, that really isn’t the purpose of my post today. As much fun as it will be absolutely thrilling to see them together at their first Christmas together that is not what I am writing about today. Today is about something else…

Tomorrow we get to celebrate with our families. Not many people get that luxury (yep, it’s a luxury). I am not trying to be uber sentimental or anything, I am simply stating a fact. My mind goes directly to those in the armed forces. This year, before Thanksgiving, Mr. G and I went to Target with the kiddos and some how got to talking to the cashier. She just casually mentioned that her husband was in some form of the armed forces (I think it was the army or air force) and she said that the reason she took the job was because she wanted something to do while she waited for his return. She said that he wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and if she was lucky she would be able to see him after the New Year. She said it so casually, like it was the norm. And it probably was the norm for her and her family. It hit me hard that this woman who was bagging our purchased items made a sacrifice… her and her husband made one of the most ultimate sacrifices that every American citizen takes for granted every holiday. They won’t be able to be together. They won’t be with their families, they will be working. This applies for certain service persons like police, firemen, first-responders (paramedics and EMTs), etc. and it made me sad.

These people sacrifice time, memories. Sometimes they give even more than that, they give their lives. My cousin is currently completing basic training for the Army and will not be with his family this Christmas. I am pretty sure this is the first time he will be away from the family for Christmas (or any holiday really), and it breaks my heart. I am so grateful for his sacrifice, for the sacrifice of all the others… if it wasn’t for them would we have a day off to celebrate? Do we bitch about having one day off opposed to the day before and the day after too? I know when I was working my day job, I was complaining constantly. Why didn’t we have more time off for _(enter annual holiday here)_ through the company? Why did we have to use vacation time? And my selfish self didn’t even think about those people who don’t even have the day off. The people who have to work and don’t get the option of “paid holidays”.

Tomorrow when we are opening gifts, sipping our eggnog, and admiring our holiday decorations dreading going to work the next day… I urge you to remember those people who are unable to be at home with their families. The EMTs who have to be available for Grandpa if he suffers his second heart-attack, or the doctors and nurses that help deliver baby so he/she can be your greatest present ever, or even the servicemen that are protecting us from the threat of North Korea (over a ridicules movie, in my opinion) or the many other potentially harmful countries, etc. These people don’t get to celebrate around a beautifully decorated tree. They don’t get to light the candles of the menorah. They don’t get to share libation or gifts. Most of all, they don’t get the day off to be with the people they love.

This year when I look at our tree Christmas morning, I will admire the handmade ornaments, I will remember the many days listening to Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song, I will see the lights twinkling, and the gifts perfectly placed beneath it.

As my children open their gifts, rummage through their stockings, and I hear the side conversations between my husband and parents… that moment I will dedicate to my cousin, Private J.D. I love you, I have been thinking about you and keeping you in my prayers. You will be getting my letter(s) soon I hope. Thank you for being my twinkling light this holiday season.

Just beautiful. Photo courtesy of my mother.

For those of you who may be interested in adopting a US Soldier or connecting with a pen pal, you can start at Adopt A US Soldier. I urge you to look around and find another organization if you aren’t interested in this one. If you choose to support a different program, you can always write to your local police department, fire department, hospital, etc. Share your thanks with the people out there who don’t get to have a holiday.

Round of Applause

The sound of clapping resounded in my ears. I didn’t even have to look up to know I was facing one of my most difficult audiences. My eyes slowly rose from the view of my empty dish and my fork gently fell from my finger tips and clanged against the white porcelain bowl. It wasn’t me they were clapping for, it was my epic meal. I can’t take total credit for it though. I only mimicked what was a stroke of genius shared by it’s inventor.

I have never been applauded for a recipe I made. It is a huge first for me. It was also the first recipe Mr. G ever applauded. Plus, this recipe’s main ingredient is a vegetable! That is an even bigger first for Mr. G. He ate something that didn’t have beef as a main ingredient. It was a night of firsts I suppose. I couldn’t believe that this recipe was such a hit.

“You know, you read about it, you see it in the movies. Even when you practice it at home, man oh man, it is nothing like that.” -Young Ethan, FRIENDS, Ick Factor Episode

It’s so true. I have never had a recipe received so well by the hubby, so I have to share it of course. And never in a million years would I ever imagine that he would applaud me for it. HAHAHAHA! Without further ado… this is the Chicken Zucchini Casserole from Six Sisters Stuff. I have to admit I found the recipe on Pinterest, so I didn’t notice the blog until I went to check out the full recipe (which took place today), but after some serious browsing I am in love with their site. They have everything! Recipes, DIY, activities, etc! I just love it. And they are the cutest bunch of sisters I have ever seen. Their site is super family friendly and with my bunch of boys that never hurts. I am just glad I found them. I also followed them on Twitter too.

This was fresh out of the oven.
Chicken Zucchini Casserole
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  45 mins
Total time:  55 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 ounce package of boxed stuffing mix (I used Stove Top)
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 4 cups of zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken, cubed
  • 10.75 ounces Cream of Chicken Soup
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ cup of sour cream
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the stuffing mix and melted butter. Set aside ½ cup of the mixture for the topping. In a large bowl add the zucchini, chicken, soup, onion and sour cream to the remaining stuffing. Place the zucchini mix into at greased 9×13 glass pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle reserved ½ cup stuffing mix on top and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.
I loved the chunks of chicken and all the zucchini. Perfect combo!

With this recipe it is perfect for my, “stay at home and eat better plan”. It can easily be altered to accommodate something a little more healthy (I used light sour cream and fat free cream of chicken soup). You can probably add a little in the way of veggies too if you want (peas and carrot or something). With zucchini it cooks down because it has so much moisture in it so it made the stuffing wonderfully fluffy and not dry at all. It definitely helps that the zucchini is such an easy veggie too. It can be easily seasoned to take on some very good favors.

This was just perfect though. The fact that I got the man that just does not eat vegetables to actually eat a vegetable is simply amazing! This has skipped our, “like” list and made a space for itself on our, “absolutely love it” list. Looks like I am in for more applause. Hahahaha!

Have you had any recipes that became quick family favorites? Which one is your go to fave?

We Blinked, Time Flew By & We Grew Up

I am sure you are all decking your hall, roasting chestnuts, and mulling cider while I am over here baking the sh** out of some seriously awesome cookies. Yep, it’s another baking day for me. Not that I mind. The sweet smell of vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter lingering in the air makes me go to my happy place. If only baking required less focus. Especially because my mind seems to always ignore the sound of the timer buzzer. I blame that on my children. It seems as though since I have had kids I have put up a mental block for any annoying sounds. You know, singing airplanes, talking dogs, toy truck sirens… you know the type. I can easily block those out of my head, but with those annoying sounds also goes alarm clocks, timers, and repeated toilet flushes (that is a subject we will avoid all together). Either way, my home smells good!

This weekend aside from some serious baking has also brought some fun with my friends. I got to have a day when my folks were able to watch the kiddos so I could visit with a friend of mine. It was so nice. Not only did I enjoy having a little time sans kiddos, but I had a great time catching up with my friend. You never realize how much you miss your friends until you have the “catch up” visit. I swear just visiting her home was like a breath of fresh air. I remember in high school when we would talk about when we finally had our own place. It seemed like we would be so old or grown up by the time that happened. Even now as I oogle her bedding set I felt like… “I can’t believe we are finally here.” It’s like we grew up. Life smacks you in the face hard sometimes, other times it’s much more gentle and allows you to ease into those “grown-up” moments, and then times like I had with her on Saturday… those times it just sneaks up on you and whispers, “surprise”. The day was filled with looking over wedding pictures, exchanging stories of our family and spouses. If I didn’t have to drive I am sure alcohol would have been involved at some point too. We even got to explore her amazing view of the water a top this small hill no more than 100 yards from her home. Maybe I didn’t need that drink, because I was able to drink in all that was our visit and that was enough. It was just a very much needed enjoyable afternoon.

After my visit with my high school best friend, I went back another half a decade and visited with my elementary school best friend and her kids. This visit was a kids zone. Last time we saw each other I think was at my wedding when I didn’t have any kiddos yet and she had her two oldest. Since then add 3 kiddos and about 750 mile move and we are sitting next to each other in her mom’s living room. I remember this house. I remember these people. Factors and lives have grown and changed, but the people are the same. The sounds are the same. The smells even are the same. It was nostalgic to say the very least. It took me back to when I was in 8th grade and we would come celebrate her birthday with inventive games her mom would host and the movie that made good ol’ Marky-Mark (Wahlberg) the creepiest guy on the block, “Fear”.

It was her birthday tradition. Every birthday came with fun and FEAR. LOL! Photo courtesy of IMDb.

It was a few hours of me telling the Toddler to not touch this, don’t climb on that, etc. but also catching up with her. You never realize how much time has really lapsed. I remember her kids being my kids age. Crawling, walking, getting out just a few words here and there… now they are 6 and 8, talking, full of personality. They reminded me of the girl I went to school with so long ago.

My elementary school friend left me wanting to visit for longer. Ask a million questions. Things felt like they changed so drastically for her, but she stayed the same. She was the responsible mother with a guiding hand, more mature than I could have ever imagined we would ever be. She smiled and held my son. My mind quickly popped up an old memory of her coming out of her delivery with her middle child. I was the first person allowed to see her in recovery. She was obviously exhausted and barely awake from the medication. I could see her shiver beneath what I could only describe as a mountain of those super thin hospital blankets. She had a smile on her face as I talked to her. In the moment I thought about what an experience it would be when she would be able to come see me after I had my children. Although, due to life and unexpected moves that wasn’t an opportunity available to us, but now… watching her hold and talk to my now almost 9 month old son… the time has come.

But, our visit ended with a few photos, hugs, and a promise to text and talk soon. On my drive home I felt like today was one of those days you thought would be just another day. Just another visit. Just more friends to see. Today was different though. It made me realize those days of middle school and high school shenanigans were far over and we grew up. Our times of talking and giggling over school drama while drinking Boone’s Farm wine in the passenger seat of my friends car were over.

I think this was even the flavor of wine we sat and drank in the car. Good times! Photo courtesy of The Party Source.

Birthday celebrations involving water balloon boobs and games of searching for buttons in a bowl of flour (without hands) were long gone. Today I sat across from my friends… we smiled, laughed, and reminisced as women. No longer the adolescents we once were.

This weekend was the weekend I needed. I needed to be reminded that life, although wonderful to experience and live in every moment, you also need to remember those close to you. With Christmas right around the corner, I hope you send out at least a text to those friends that mean the world to you, because despite the time between visits, these people are the people who love you and have shared some of life’s greatest memories with you.

To my friends who I visited, and you know who you are, thank you for making the time to visit with me and thank you for being my friend.

I Rolled The Dice & I Won BIG

We have discussed the level of my family’s picky-ness before, so I am sure that you are not surprised that I am the only one who is interested in eating anything “sea” related. Fish, shell fish, crustaceans, etc. I am totally open to, but unfortunately it takes some convincing for Mr. G to get in the mood for anything “fishy”. Well, this Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce recipe from Life’s Ambrosia was a gamble that paid off big!

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

Serves 2 (Really, it will feed 4 easily)

Prep Time 10 minutes (Took me like 20 min)

Cook Time 20 minutes (Took me 30 min)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • oil for frying

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add cream. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce will turn slightly pink and coat the back of the spoon. (Note: It is okay if the sauce boils slightly.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, pour enough oil just to coat the bottom of a skillet and heat over medium heat.
  3. Rinse and pat dry the tilapia fillets. Season both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  4. Combine Parmesan, panko and granulated garlic.
  5. Dredge the seasoned tilapia fillets in the flour. Shake off excess. Dip in egg. Press into Parmesan/panko mixture.
  6. Place fish in heated skillet, in batches if necessary and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Fish will be golden brown and will flake easily when done.
  7. When you remove the fish, chiffonnade the basil (Note: To do this, simply roll up a few basil leaves and gently chop). Stir the basil into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Lay fish on a serving platter and spoon sauce over the top. Serve.

This is how it turned out for me:

The beginning of my cream sauce.
My finished cream sauce. It was AMAZING. I loved it! It really did wonders for the flavor of the tilapia.
The finished fried tilapia. A little over done, but still better than being under cooked, right?
The finished product. My wholesome meal. YUMMY!

Mr. G liked it, so it has made it’s way into the rotation. It was crisp and light. It was simple and flavorful. I made my cauliflower and red potato mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was perfect for dinner, but it made the house get a little smoky when I was frying everything up. I actually had to open the windows and turn on the fans when I was in the middle of cooking.

If I were to make any changes to the recipe, I would probably add some Parmesan to the cream sauce to thicken it up a little and use a little fewer tomatoes. Over all it was a great dish. i am looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!

You have any fish favorites?

Cookies Galore!

I live about an hour to an hour and a half from my family. When they get to visit it’s a pretty big deal. Especially when we get to do some cooking or in our case today some baking. I love to bake, but I really don’t get to do it very often. With an obsessed “milk and cookie” monster (i.e. Mr. G) around it’s wise to only indulge my love for baking minimally. Plus, if I baked more frequently than once or twice a year, he would probably make cookies a whole new meal of the day.

Today my brother, lets call him Mr. Ice, will be helping me with all my cookie recipes. These are what we have on the plate today…

A Facebook Find – Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Our Facebook find. I hope they turn out like the pictures. Courtesy of Lois Mullins.

(I am not too sure where this recipe originated, but my Mom tagged me in it through a post on Facebook. You are welcome to take a peek at it here. If the link works.)

1 box Lemon Cake Mix

1 Egg

2 cups Cool Whip, thawed

½ to 1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, egg, and Cool Whip. The batter will be sticky! Form dough into tablespoonfuls and roll in powdered sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in hot 350 oven until the edges are golden. Allow to cool 1 minute on baking sheet; then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

 The Classic – Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened or at least room temp)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups (12-oz. package) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, and you can choose what ever nut best suits you. I love pecans, but walnuts work great too)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I line my cookie sheets with foil for easy clean up.)

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For high altitude baking (5,200 feet): Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes.

(I did omit a few things listed on their web page in regards to freezing and baking, as well as baking pan cookies. But I have included the webpage above for easy access in case you would like to see what options are available there.)

A New Experiment – Super Easy Chocolate Fudge
Photo courtesy of Real Mom Kitchen’s blog, the link provided above.
Ingredients
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz bag) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
¼ cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup nuts (optional, and one of my additions)
Instructions
  1. Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large sauce pan, add the condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring often to avoid burning. Cook until mixture is melted and well combined.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla; stir until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Tap few times to remove air bubbles.
  5. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours.
  6. When set, remove from pan using the foil and cut into pieces.
  7. Store fudge in fridge for long storage. Just remove from fridge an hour or so before serving to soften.

A Mr. Ice Recipe – Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie

Prep Time: approx. 20 minutes

Bake Time: approx. 8-10 minutes

Servings: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Additional granulated sugar

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove wrappers for chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fulffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3, Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

How did it go you ask?!?! Well here are all the details. The Lemon Crinkle Cookies were nothing like I had expected. It was a nightmare to be honest. Exactly like a nightmare. It started out wonderful and easy enough. You mix all but the powdered sugar in one bowl. It smells heavenly… like a lemon meringue pie almost. Then the damn things are impossible to “roll” in the powdered sugar. It’s more like you try to shake your fingers violently to try and get the stupid batter off your fingers and into the sugar. Then after that you try to make them into nice little round, cookie shaped things. Well, that doesn’t happen. Who ever made this recipe knew it would be a hot freaking mess and purposely did not take credit for the recipe because of the likely backlash from bakers everywhere. They must have photo shopped the sh** out of their cookie pictures. My first batch was a little over done and turned out mediocre at best. They tasted a little like lemon meringue, but had the consistency of wet cotton candy (you know how it gets hard and almost rock like in the crevices of your teeth). Here is how mine turned out:

Batter smells good, looks good… everything is going well so far.
Batch #1: A little toasty and kinda frumpy looking.
Batch #2: Hot Damn MESS!

The Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies are always amazing. I make these every time I bake, simply because they are always yummy. They do happen to be Mr. G’s favorite too, but that is really not the point. They are full proof. Most people like them and you can alter them rather easily to accommodate people of all kinds of diets. There are a million and one different chocolate chip cookie recipes, but this (since we do not have any allergies to foods, at least as far as we know) is always an easy favorite. It is also great to make with the kiddos. Most people give me this terrified, horrific look when I suggest cooking or even baking with children. I admit, at one time I was one of those people. But, with baking it is quite nice to have something that you don’t have constantly over heat and it’s messy anyways, but for the most part it’s easier clean up. Plus, they get to sample the batter (but please be aware that most batter has uncooked egg, so approach with caution). And as always, if you work with kiddos you just need to be the one handling the mixer. The Toddler is scared of the mixer and the noise it makes anyways, so that is an easy job for me to handle. I did make the last few batches with some chopped pecans and they are so yummy! Here is my turn out for that one:

Oh I love you, chocolate chip cookie dough! I could eat you straight from the bowl… but I won’t because I need to bake.
Without the pecans.
With the pecans! Oh Santa, we are waiting for you! 🙂

The Super Easy Chocolate Fudge was a Pinterest find of mine. I like this recipe for a few reasons. It has a limited number of ingredients and it’s quick. It was the first time I have ever attempted fudge (and I always crave it). I wanted to see that I try another “full proof” recipe so it would be really difficult for me to mess it up. Well this is as “full proof” as it comes. It was simple, easy, and yummy! This has a big chocolate smile written all over it. It took a total of maybe 10 minutes tops between prep and cook time. Waiting for it to set was a little challenging, but we were preoccupied with the other cookies. The hard part was cutting the damn things. They are dense especially when chilled and they haven’t thawed much. But, overall this is an excellent recipe. The nuts add a little texture to it so it’s not all “chocolate overload”. But, be warned it is very, very rich. Here is how mind turned out:

Fudge in the making!
Our finished fudge. B-E-A-Utiful!

And last, but not least was our selection from Mr. Ice. He told me he wanted to make these and how could I say no?!?! Who says no to peanut butter and chocolate?!?! (Unless it requires an EpiPen, YIKES!) We went ahead and made the Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie and it was great. It was a little tedious in the beginning because of all the measuring with all the different ingredients and the rolling of the dough, but those are amazing after you plop that Hershey’s Kiss (the recipe is on the back of the bag by the way) on them and let them cool. The kiss keeps it’s form, but becomes all ooey-gooey. Even the Toddler loved these, you can tell by his “facial hair”. HAHAHAHA! So cute! But, I would recommend this recipe hands down. Ours were a bit over sized, so our dough didn’t last as long as it should have, so that I would fix the next time I make these, but it’s really a great recipe. Here is how ours turned out:

A chocolate kiss on a peanut butter pillow. YUM!
The Toddler and his chocolate “facial hair”. Love his face!

That is our baking fun for today. Four different cookies under our belt. I will be using some as a Christmas gifts and some to send home with my brothers. I am sure my Dad will love a good cookie tray after my Mom has been a cookie Nazi – I guess I shouldn’t say that – she has just been trying to be more health conscious really. Which means my poor Dad (who is also watching his weight as well, so it is a little self inflicted) gets to skip on all the yummy cookies because they are not allowed over the threshold (beyond the front door), and when they are, they are quickly devoured by my brothers (aka: the “Hallow Leg” and the “Bottomless Pit”).

What is your favorite holiday cookie? Or just cookie for any time of the year? Or sweet treat? Anything that strikes a chord or sends you back because of a family tradition or favorite memory? Feel free to share and we might be able to make them next time.

It’s just like The Hobbit

Your journey requires fierce bravery and a great deal of strength. It is a long journey, one that will cover many isles and vast lands. You will encounter many a monster, but with the help of some kind creatures along the way you will over come. Oh so you hope…

Picture courtesy of Screen Rant.

I am not talking about a movie or a book. I am talking grocery shopping with the kiddos. To say the least it is a trek. Really, it’s a battle of will power and patience. I am in pursuit of groceries and baking necessities (for our afternoon goodies). I will not return until I have gathered all my supplies and defeated the two greatest beasts ever seen in a grocery store… the deceptively charming, Sir Screams-A-Lot (i.e. Munchkin), and my arch nemesis, King Tantrum-Galore (i.e. Toddler). Yesterday we tried to forge our way through the 3 stores that held our much needed supplies, but alas… we only survived the great land of Costco (pronounced Cost-CO, like it’s said by the character Norm in the movie Yes Man) and had to rest before embarking on the next leg of our journey Wally-World (A.K.A. Wal-mart) and Winco.

I tried to be swift and graceful as to avoid any real danger. Quickly that thought escaped me as we encountered several obstacles. First, the land of toys. You would think this would be able to distract the King and Sir Knight, but it only angered them as they could not claim anything as their own. I had to fend off their speedy hands and with my agility get us out before anyone got hurt. Then to the place of wild beasts. It holds all the food, garb, and simple housing for those furry critters we call pets. They were easily distracted by another journeyman that had to balance a bag the size of his own body in his cart. As we made our way to the market place, we had to weave in and out of the isles avoiding the ordinary country folk taking their blessed time oogling their pieces before selecting them. Then, out of the corner of my eye, one such country folk, an old woman, looked to the King. Now, we all know it is best for the King and those whom encounter him to avoid eye contact. Well, this bold hag decided to risk her life and actually talk to him! She spent a good 5 minutes trying to enchant him with her knobby, wrinkly fingers. She even tried to soothe him with a soft tune (or high pitched voice, which every you choose to call it). It was of no use, his highness what not amused. Thankfully one of the Wally-World guards escorted her to the next hut so we could continue our journey only partially unscathed. What would mark the half way point of our journey was our exit of this Wally-World, through payment at the gates. This went rather smoothly except for the King’s demand for patronage. He grabbed at anything and everything a was even able to commandeer a lolly-pop, before I had to tear it from his deathly grip and suffer the eye and point of death. Thankfully I thought to wear my eye shield today (my glasses) and went unharmed.

Once the chariot was loaded we were off to the fruitful lands of Winco. These lands I had never encountered before with the King and Sir Knight, and knew that would be my Achilles heel of our travels. After what felt like forever to load Sir Knight on his valiant steed (or just get him in the Björn) and to get the King on his throne, the sky darkened and little drops of clear beads grazed our faces as we traveled the parking lot through the entrance gates. We quickly found the garden of all that is good and green. This took us some time since we did not have proper handling and needed extra time to confirm the quality of the items. My hands trembled as I pushed our cart between each item. Was I getting what I needed? Where should we go next? And then my nightmare was slowly becoming a reality when Sir Screams-A-Lot started to send of his warning cries. I didn’t have much time, I needed to keep moving. As I learned to juggle produce we made our way to the drylands (the back bins). We collected our nuts, rices, and dried bread only to see that the King had leaned over and attempted to throw a few items in our cart that did not belong. He was reaching for his third canister of oatmeal before I caught him in his wickedness and fended of his flailing arms so I could return the oatmeal to it’s rightful place on the shelf. Then to the land of milk and honey, where we encountered Officer Not-Know-So-Much. He tried to trick us into believing that non-dairy creamer was the same as whipping cream. His smug face glared at us when he realized that we did not believe his trickery. But the biggest challenge was the dance of the jester. As you go to exit the land of Winco, the King and Sir Knight were at the end of their patience with me. They threatened, they cursed, and they were visibly violent, I had to do something. I did the dance of the jester, there was fruits and vegetables flying about, our canned foods and other random goods doing a dance of their own on the conveyor belt. It was the ever so popular “please don’t meltdown now” dance.

Once our carriage was loaded with our last remaining goods we were off for home. Both the King and Sir Knight drifted into a great slumber by the end of our journey, but that’s was welcomed by all.

You see all those fabulous Moms out there with the super awesome kid(s) that behave during all the shopping trips? Nope, me neither! It’s like a beautiful rainbow colored unicorn… IT DOESN’T EXIST! I my simple goal for the outing was to get shopping done and survive. I did, and I have to admit I am proud of me and my boys. I feel like if I would have done any more shopping I probably would have failed miserably, but I didn’t. Today’s “journey” was a success and despite the hurdles of random old ladies trying to “ooh” and “ahhhh” over my kiddos and the grumpy old Winco employee trying to get me to buy the wrong thing, I am pretty sure we did ok. There was a slight fiasco with the Munchkin and kicking all of the zucchini off the “stand”, but even that was ok. They made it through with me and I survived. It was difficult and it gave me a whole new appreciation for single parents of multiples, but thank God I did it!

Have you had any crazy outings lately?

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