Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sense and Sensibility

“Sense and Sensibility was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be published. She began to write it sometime around 1797, and she worked on it for many years before its publication in 1811. The title page said that it was written “By a Lady”, and only her immediate family knew that Jane Austen was the author. Impetuous Marianne Dashwood tumbles into a fairytale romance that goes sour, and her practical older sister Elinor copes with the family’s financial problems while hiding her own frustrated romantic hopes. The book was a success, and it even earned a profit!” -http://austen.com/novels.htm

Sense and Sensibility was a great novel- hilarious at times, and frustrating at other times. I mean, Mr. Willoughby was a jerk, Marianne, get over him already! I guess this book could be summed up as a lesson in heartbreak. Restrained on the part of Elinor and definitely not restrained on the part of Marianne. If only life could be like a book right? It’s obvious to the reader from the get-go who is a selfish jerk: Mr. Willoughby, John and Mrs. Dashwood (the heroine’s brother and sister-in-law), and Lucy. The dreamboats are: Colonel Brandon and Edward. Also see: Elinor is always right. We see all this happening, but the characters are so deeply involved in their own problems they can’t see a way out at first. Here we can borrow a good life lesson from Dr. Seuss. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” If only he were alive to help out in 1797.

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KU > North Carolina- Party on Mass Street!

“I will say this: I don’t know if I ever enjoyed coaching a team more than this one. I love them. We fight, it’s combative sometimes, all of those things. But I love coaching these guys. … It is just remarkable to me to see them cutting down nets out here because this would not be the year that anybody would have thought we would do it. It’s a pretty cool feeling.” -KU Head Coach Bill Self

Pretty cool feeling indeed! It was a close game in the first half- a back and forth fight, and KU’s well-coached defense gained the upper hand in the second half to stun the #1 seeded North Carolina team. It’s been four long years since KU has been to the final four- and defeating North Carolina to get there was frosting on top of my cake. The last time we played North Carolina in the tournament in 2008 I was in Manhattan, KS at my apartment during college- unable to join into the celebration in Lawrence. It was my senior year and I was thrilled we beat the team that our old coach Roy Williams had abandoned us for. (Still a little bitter… he just could have handled it better..) *Side note: Even though I went to K State to college, (which I loved, by the way) I have been and always will be a KU basketball fan. Pretty hard not to be growing up in Lawrence! From a very young age  I always said KU would win the National Championship my senior year of college. I totally willed them to win. ;D  (I did get to experience Mass Street after our Championship win in 2008 so all was not lost 🙂 )

Needless to say, being in Lawrence for our win against Roy’s team this year required a party on Mass Street! Anna and I headed out right after the game ended- it was an experience just getting there! Before I could even leave the neighborhood a woman was holding her toddler and waiving a huge KU flag inciting much horn honking from cars. Then reaching closer to downtown people could be seen hollering and waiving their arms out car windows, much horn honking and pedestrian cheering. Overall very similar to the scene from 2008’s Championship win- only it was still daylight and the weather was goregous. We parked a couple of blocks away, (very smart) and joined the masses headed in. It was a mad scene- cars blocked in, air horns, chants, cheers, lots of ‘Whoo!’ to be heard, high-fiving, alcohol everywhere, homemade signs, police officers on every corner – and even a float revived from the 1988 win. We had a blast.

Thanks for the awesome year so far KU! Ready for the Ohio St. game next Saturday- and hopefully another bid for the National Championship!!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go KU!

Céad míle fáilte… 2nd March Recipe Test with Anna!

Céad míle fáilte- ‘A hundred thousand welcomes!’

Anna and I started our second March recipe test day off early and went to the annual Kansas city St. Patrick’s Day Parade! There were about a zillion people there- all pushing and listening to one another’s conversations, and generally being all up in each other’s business. Anna and I spent the first 45 minutes before the parade in this fashion- and then another hour during the parade like that until we were starving and couldn’t take standing anymore- while being even more squished with a blocked view. Other than leg cramps and a stomach that was trying to eat itself from the inside out we had a great time! The entries in the parade were great- and it was pretty neat seeing everyone else dressed in green. We were a part of the cool club.

After we decided we were starving we walked further south in Westport and *after almost getting backed into by an insane driver* we stumbled upon a hill with plenty of sitting room. Forget our stomachs, we now had a great site to watch the rest of the parade! Needless to say, we were much more comfortable, and despite an incident with almost loosing my cell phone- that hill was steep– and that sucker can slide!!- we had a much nicer time. Oh- and we could actually see the parade entries too! This lasted another hour or so when we really needed to eat. You see it was about 1ish, and my internal stomach clock is set to go off promptly at noon. Indeed. So we walked back to the Plaza- yes, you heard me correctly- all the way back to the Plaza where we had parked [for free!] and stopped at the first place we saw The Cheesecake Factory. Yum. We survived the day – with a few sunburns and only minor exhaustion. 😉

For our St. Paddy’s Day dinner we made ‘Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Paninis’ -b/c they are green of course, and ‘Apple Amber’- a traditional Irish dessert that was labeled on the website as being at least over 100 years old. Both ended up being delicious- I think I would remake the dessert over the panini though. While I like herbs, the panini recipe called for a LOT of herbs.

Starting the Apple Amber- the apples are supposed to puree down to basically a sauce. Pretty sure that would take hours though- so chunks it is!:

Very strange interruption in the form of *Henry the squirrel who somehow had managed to fling himself onto my window, and with nowhere to go but down (to a certain and sudden squirrley demise) he managed to somehow hang on and after much scrambling, propel himself back to the gutter.

*Henry was a very worn-out squirrel:

The finished pie- topped with delicious meringue (to the slight detrement of the bottom of my oven):

Starting the ‘Green Goddess Panini’- four different kinds of herbs!:

Cream Cheese… nom nom:

Combined with shredded mozzerella and sharp cheddar… nom!:

Delicious!!

Anna!

Me!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! I couldn’t help but get in the spirit a little! Plus it distracted me from the KU vs Purdue game. Headed to the sweet sixteen baby!

*Henry the Squirrel: Henry is my friendly neighbor squirrel. He lives on my roof and would drive me crazy if I hadn’t christened him with a name. Now everytime I hear a squirrel fight on my roof or any un-called for scampering/thumping/tapping/chewing or any inturders in the HVAC system I just say ‘Oh, that’s just Henry!’ and it’s all better.

The Recipes!

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Panini

paninihappy.com

Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 15 min | Total time: 30 min

Yield: 4-6 panini

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I used a pre-chopped, jar version)
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy, finely chopped (left out)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (I used dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (I used dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (I used dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I used dried)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (left out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (left out- blech, mustard.)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into smaller cubes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 8-12 slices sourdough bread (I used a regular white bread)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add garlic and anchovies to a mini-prep food processor and pulse for a few seconds until it’s really finely chopped, almost like a paste (if you don’t have a food processor, you can always just chop the ingredients really well with a knife on a cutting board).
  2. Add in the lime zest, parsley, tarragon, cilantro, basil, shallot, mustard and cream cheese and pulse again until well blended. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and stir in the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
  3. Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
  4. For each sandwich: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture onto one slice of bread. Close the sandwich with a second slice of bread. Brush a little olive oil on top. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and oozy and the bread is toasted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Apple Amber

The apple, as one of the few fruits that grows really well in the Irish climate, has been held in high regard everywhere in this island for thousands of years. Before the new religion came in from the East, apples and apple trees were considered important enough to be looked after by the mighty Celtic virgin goddess Brigit herself. And in the Brehon law-code of a millennium ago, apple trees were protected to an extraordinary extent. Whoever damaged an apple tree belonging to someone else was liable to pay a fine of several head of cattle, and a landlord whose tenant was moving on was required to compensate the tenant on departure for any apple trees the tenant had planted during his stay.

As a food and as a basis for drink, the apple remains heavily cultivated here, though naturally Ireland imports apples from many other regions when the local varieties are out of season. And it would be a rare farmyard that didn’t feature a few apple trees for cooking and cider-making purposes.

Apple Amber is one of those Irish recipes that plainly involves the cook strolling out to the tree on a whim, pulling a few green cooking apples off it, and taking them back inside to quickly turn them into something unusually nice to end the meal. But the fact that the apples are cooked before baking suggests that this method was meant to work well with storage apples as well, the fruit that had been put away in straw in the cold cellar to last until the first new fruit of the next summer and fall started coming in.

Originally, apple amber was usually constructed as a crustless pie: the grated apple was briefly cooked, seasoned and sweetened (cider vinegar was probably used when lemons were hard to get) and then baked by itself in a pie dish: then meringue was piled on top and the dish returned to the oven just long enough to brown it. More recent versions of the recipe call for the addition of a pie crust. We’ve used a crust on this version, as it does a nice job of soaking up the juices produced by the fluffy apple mousse as it bakes.

Click on “read more” for the recipe and method.

Ingredients:

  • Pastry dough for a single-crust pie
  • 4 cooking apples, totaling about 1 pound, cored and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Juice of one lemon, strained
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 4 ounces sugar, or to taste

First, prepare the pie crust in a suitable pie dish. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 350° F.

Grate the apples on a coarse grater (or the grating disc of a Cuisinart or other food processor). Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a small heavy pot, heat until steaming, add the apples, and cook over medium heat until the grated apple reduces itself to a puree. (The apple bits do not have to completely disappear into the puree. It’s all right to leave some texture.) Remove from heat.

Beat the egg yolks slightly. Add the lemon and three-quarters of the sugar to the apple puree: then add the egg, and stir well. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and bake for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar gradually as you continue beating. Whip until stiff peaks form. When the pie has had its first twenty minutes in the oven, remove it and spread the meringue over the top of the pie, sealing it to the edges of the crust. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve hot or cold.

Bracketology

It’s that time of year again!
I’ve set up my guesses for my bracket a little safer than usual this year because usually I don’t and that hasn’t ever worked out very well so far.  I looked up each of the schedules for the teams (time consuming and ridiculous) and cross referenced several teams that had beat that same team, or ones who had lost or won to a team that I had them up against, (even more time consuming and ridiculous). I usually just fly by the seat of my pants, so we’ll see if this method works. It will probably work out better than my first thought of comparing all of the mascots and setting them up against each other as to whom I think would win…
As for my teams- I’m predicting KU to go to the Elite 8, and KSU to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. I’d really love to be wrong and celebrate another National Championship, but I don’t think that’s probably realistic this year. Although I’d settle for another North Carolina win! Buahaha!
Yes, I have Kentucky winning, but hey- that’s better than Duke, Missouri, North Carolina or Syracuse, right!?!  🙂 So, I’m keeping track- we’ll see how many I’ve guessed correctly and how many I was off on. (I’m usually off by at least 18 or more.. we’ll see if this one breaks the mold).

What’s your NCAA bracket look like for March Madness?

Life lately… according to my android phone

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1. I fixed the cheesecake from this recipe test with Anna. It’s delicious! (Just needed more baking time than the recipe called for).

2. Longhorn Steakhouse for mom’s b-day. I finally found something I like! Sierra Chicken – made for great leftovers too.

3. Mom’s birthday party!

4. Sylas & Maddy’s ice cream w/ Anna on her work break!

5. Green Machine- impromptu snack at work

6. Lunch break while out and about at work at Taco Bell- no pop involved! 😉

7. Dr. Scholl’s foot map analysis. Apparently I’m a heel-balancer.

8. Last of the rock candy from the now out of business Penny Annie’s candy shop in downtown Lawrence.

9. Last snow (hopefully) of the season.

10. Curious rat at the pet store. I named him Pierre.

11. Guinea pig at the pet store- I think I captured the single moment he opened his eyes the entire time we were there.

12. Crazy rambunctious mice at the pet store.

13. Colorful birds at the pet store

14. Kevin touching a starfish at the pet store!

15. Orange leaf frozen yogurt 🙂 Kevin Young and Jordan Juneman of the KU basketball team were there.

16. Vodka Penne @ Paisanos w/ Grandma Lee. Delicious!

17. Bowling with the fam!

18. Game # 1- Kevin, me, then mom. Yes, I lost badly and got my personal worst at the same time.

19. Game # 2- Same order- I did much better!

20. Downtown Kansas City blocked off for the Big 12 Tournament.

21. First blossoms on the Magnolia tree out my window!

22. Leave request for our family trip to Europe approved!

23. Backed up traffic under downtown KC for the Big 12 tournament.

24. Bug eating plants at Lowes! Tempting…

25. Made Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookie Tarts for Grandma’s birthday party.

26. Signs of spring!

27. Grandma’s party/St. Paul Singing Saints at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Emporia, KS.

28. St. Paul’s Singing Saints warming up.

29. Explosion of blossoms on the magnolia tree!

25.

Northanger Abbey

“Jane Austen’s first major novel was written in 1798-99, when she was in her early twenties. It is a comic love story set in Bath about a young reader who must learn how to separate fantasy from reality. Miss Austen sold the novel (then entitled Susan) to a publisher in 1803, and the work was advertised but never published. She bought it back many years later, and her brother Henry Austen published the novel as Northanger Abbey after her death in 1817.”                                      -http://austen.com/novels.htm

Northanger Abbey- I chose this novel to read first of Jane Austen’s six novels because it was the first she began to write, although it was last (along with Persuasion) to be published. I found it a hilarious, if sometimes monotonous read- especially at the beginning of the novel. I especially liked when Jane Austen would interject in the novel making narrative comments. Our heroine, Catherine, was sweet, good-natured, very loyal, and easily likable- even with her obsession with the dramatic. She fulfills her character as she learns from her mistakes. Catherine’s love interest, Henry- was funny and full of sarcasm and wit. My favorite line of the book was concerning him: “He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted.”

There are several themes in this novel, but my favorite lesson  is that Catherine realizes that she cannot solely rely on others as she finds some of her acquaintances bring a negative impact to her life. She learns to be independent and through her experiences grows up as the novel progresses.

Next up: Sense and Sensibility! 😀

A 5 hour Mediterranean getaway… 1st March Recipe Test with Anna!

If only we really could have been in Greece to test these recipes!

The second best plan was to cook up a dinner reminiscent of the warm summer breezes and light and healthy food that (I imagine) would be a given on the shores of the Mediterranean. For our first March recipe test we were back at Anna’s apartment- dreaming of spring, and trying out three new recipes. Greek Chicken Cutlets, Greek-Style Couscous Salad, and Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookie Tarts. Every one of them delicious and so light and airy! 😀

Some of the makings for the couscous salad

Starting the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookie Tarts

Louie was my cooking buddy!

The finished Greek-Style Couscous Salad

The finished toppings for the Greek Chicken Cutlets

Dinner is served!

Anna!

Me!

Delicious desert…!!!!

Next planned Recipe dinner- a festive St. Patrick’s Day- March 17th!

Recipes:

Greek Chicken Cutlets

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds thin chicken cutlets (about 8) (Or fewer chicken for less helpings, and you will have extra toppings left over like us.

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, feta, mint, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Heat a grill pan over high; brush lightly with oil. Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Cook, working in batches as necessary, until chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Top chicken with tomato mixture, and serve.

Cook’s Note

Instead of a grill pan for the cutlets, you can use a large skillet over high heat, adding 1 tablespoon oil per batch. (This is what we did).

Greek-Style Couscous Salad

What You Need

1 cup whole wheat couscous, uncooked
1 cup halved cucumber slices
1 large tomato, chopped
1 pkg. (4 oz.) ATHENOS Crumbled Reduced Fat Feta Cheese
1 tsp. dill weed (Or fresh like we used)
1/2 cup KRAFT Light House Italian Dressing

Make It

COOK couscous as directed on package, omitting the salt and butter. Fluff with fork. Place in large bowl; cool 10 min.

ADD remaining ingredients; toss lightly.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookie Tarts

INGREDIENTS:
1 pouch Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
Butter and egg called for on cookie pouch

1 container (8-oz.) strawberry cream cheese spread

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 aerosol container (6.4 oz.) Betty Crocker® decorating icing
Candy sprinkles, if desired

DIRECTIONS:

  • 1 Make cookie dough as directed on package. Roll dough into 32 (1-inch balls); place in greased muffin cups. Press each ball in bottom and up side of muffin cup. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Cool 20 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.
  • 2 Mix cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fill each cookie cup with rounded teaspoonful of filling. Top each cookie with decorating icing and sprinkles. Store in refrigerator.