Friday, February 29, 2008

Theories

Ann Coulter = working for the democrats
Ralph Nader = working for the republicans

Points for this theory:

Ann has said she thinks all republicans should go out and vote for Hilary Clinton because she feels a Hilary Presidency will do more good for the republicans than any of the other candidates out there. This is because Hilary will screw up the presidency so badly that it would guarantee a republican white house for the next 20 years. Any other candidate and it's democrat for the next 20 years.


Nader has run for the presidency before. It was determined at that time, that he was taking votes away from Gore (...or for a different spin, maybe he didn't take any votes from Gore, he just got people to go out and vote...voters that otherwise wouldn't have voted). Ergo, it would seem to be in the republican's best interest to have Nader run for the presidency, and hope for a repeat of 2000. Honestly, I think he should have waited to announce his candidacy...mostly because he'll get more votes if Hilary is the democratic choice than he will if Obama is the victor.

But there you have it. Ann is a democrat, and Ralph is a republican.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It Starts.

The mad dash to finish the bathroom, and put up the pictures in the kitchen starts this week...

Or maybe not.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nostalgia Sunday: Brought to you by Cadbury

Thank you for joining us for our inaugural episode of NOSTALGIA SUNDAY!

This episode has been brought to you by Cadbury and their delicious, delicious Creme Eggs aka Bunny Eggs.
When I was a wee littl'n my parents never got me these creme eggs. This would probably be because a) I would throw up if I had too much sugar, and b) I thought I didn't like them.

The first bunny egg I remember having was when we did an Easter Egg hunt at Villa Italia Mall in Lakewood, Colorado. I had found the egg, and since I figured I probably didn't like it (and since it was chocolate) I decided to give it to my dad. Who promptly told me that he didn't like it because it was too sweet and I should try it, I just might like it.

So I unwrapped the 'top' of the egg (or the skinny part) and whined that the wrapper was all sticky. I took a tentative bite. I didn't like it. But I didn't hate it either. So I continued to eat it. Then I came to the creme part. I started licking the creme and decided that I really did like the creme.

Then, horror of horrors, I came to the 'yolk'. Now then, I don't eat egg yolks. Back then, it was because I didn't like the taste of the yolk (and that's mostly the reason why I don't eat them now as well), but furthermore, in my kindergarten class, I had learned that the yolk is what turned into the chick. Thus, by association, if I ate the yolk, I was eating an unhatched chick. So, since I had seen the 'bocking' rabbit commercials, I knew these were magical chocolate eggs that came from magical rabbits. I'm sure you can imagine my horror when I came to the 'yolk'. But the creme was so good! So I dutifully ate around the yolk as I did not, under any circumstance, want to eat an unhatched Cadbury Bunny. I remember eating the chocolate egg until the creme was just barely contained, and I had eaten as much of the white creme I could without eating the yellow creme. I don't remember if I decided I actually liked the eggs, or if I was more taken aback that they would use bunny eggs for some sort of crazy delicacy. Because, come on, a rabbit that comes from a chocolate egg and 'bocks'? Who wouldn't want one of those?

I don't remember actually getting Cadbury Creme Eggs in my Easter Basket until a few years later...But I do know I've been getting them ever since that Easter. When I was young, it was only 1 or 2, but as I got older it got to the point where I would get an entire 4-pack to myself. Now that I've moved out of the parents' home, I buy a 4-pack for Shawn and me to split. Too bad they only make these things around Easter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh Billary!

So, one of Hillary's biggest things is basically "forget i'm a woman. Hold me to the same standards you would a man."

Ok, I will.

But that doesn't mean you have to act like a 5 year old and start a smear campaign.

Oh, I see...you've already started...and you're starting the smear campaign against the other person in your party...interesting.

Well, thanks for making up my mind that I won't be voting for you.

hmm...I guess there are worse things out there than having to vote for McCain if it came down to a McCain vs. Clinton general election (I'm sorry, Lon, but I just don't think Ron Paul is going to eek out the republican nomination).

For example, it would be worse if I had to vote for Huckabee. :::shudder:::

:)

Mixed Signals

I'm getting mixed signals from my doctor.

Every year when I go to the doctor, they always make me stand on the scale and inevitably go "105. hmm...ok." and then the doctor comes in, looks at the chart and says "ok...you're a little underweight. I'd like it if you could maybe put on a few more pounds."

and I say "ok, I'll try."

Then, the other day, I get my 'summary results' from the doctor's office--it's a new thing they're doing where they send a little letter that basically says "good news, everything's normal. or at least as normal as we expect it." it will also have comments from the lab tech based on your results listed.

Apparently, the lab person thinks I'm overweight because I had the following comment on my chart: "exercise more, eat less calories."

Now then, I'm not sure, the the last time I checked, when you exercise more, you burn more calories...so how exactly is me eating less calories supposed to help me gain weight?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Woo! it's the last post! time to Celebrate!

By looking at the photos Shawn took of the trip:

Vegas Trip-Shawn's Camera

I swear! only 2 more posts!

This one is the promised post about dealing with delayed flights from Chicago. (the last one will be a link to all of Shawn's pictures from the trip)

For our return flight from Vegas we were supposed to be taking off at 345pm. Because I'm neurotic, I said "you know, we should probably leave the hotel by about 1245." I don't know why I said this. It only takes 15 minutes, by taxi, to get to the airport from just about anywhere on the strip. Anyhow, we got to the airport and got checked in by like 130.

Right before we got in the security line, we checked the departures board.

All the United flights to Denver (except ours) were delayed. By more than an hour.

By the time we got through security and to our gate, our flight had been delayed an hour. Since the United Flight to Denver right before ours was also delayed, and was now projected to be leaving at 3pm, we went ahead and put ourselves on the standby list. This is when we found out all of the United flights were delayed because of inclement weather in Chicago. (DAMN YOU CHICAGO!)

Somehow we managed to get on that flight ,though of course we couldn't sit next to each other. Instead I got to sit with two ex-fratboys-now-turned-chiropractors. Yeah...that was fun.

We land in Denver, and get to our regularly scheduled flight from Denver to Austin. As soon as we show up, the gate keeper picks up his intercom and calls us up to the desk. We get up there and ask, "did you just call us?" And with great disappointment in his voice he says,"oh...you guys made it."

This is when we learned they had overbooked the flight from Denver to Austin. Again. Yes, United has the really bad habit of horribly overbooking this particular flight. But of course, maybe it works because by the time we were boarding they were reading off their huge list of standbys that made it on...Actually I think the only person that didn't get on the flight was some guy who was obviously drunk...or stoned...or both.

Anyhow, next time we take United from Denver to Austin, we're going to take them up on their offer of "switch to Frontier and get a free flight to anywhere in the continental US!"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Part of Vegas is not for Children

And that is the part where you walk on the street.

That is because there are people making minimum wage handing out cards for 'strippers'. These cards are pretty graphic. The people handing out the cards do not hand them to children, and they rarely will hand them to women, but the problem is that as soon as some guys grab one of the cards, they look at it, their eyes bug out, and then they immediately drop it and subsequently rub their hand on their shirt or pants. As if the 5-second rule also works for things you pick up--"I only held it for 3 seconds, that means I didn't really take one!" Of course this now means that instead of these cards being in someone's hand, or in the trash, they are all over the sidewalk.

And this is what makes Vegas not for kids.

When we were walking back from the Bellagio Fountains, we were walking behind a family. Parents with two small girls (small being in the 6-8 range--old enough to walk and keep up with mom and dad).

The dad told the daughter he was holding hands with, "Look up at the sky! don't look at the ground!" Which, of course, for a 6-yr-old is easier said than done. One, they're close to the ground. Two, they probably don't have this walking without watching where they're going thing under control yet. Three, it doesn't help much that your dad, who is leading you around by the hand, forgets that you're not supposed to be watching where you're going so he keeps leading you into fence posts and whatnot.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Entertainment: The suggestions

Things I would recommend doing/seeing while in Vegas (some are free, some are for a fee):

The Aquarium at Mandalay Bay ($15 a few years ago--but they have sea turtles, thus it is worth every penny. If you go later at night, then there's not nearly as many people there to get in the way.)
Tournament of Kings at Excalibur (dinner and entertainment)
Lions at the MGM Grand (free)
Food Court at New York, New York (free)
Lost City at Planet Hollywood (free)
Village Buffet at Paris
Fountains at the Bellagio (free)
Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio (free)
Art Museum at the Bellagio ($18, so make sure it's something you want to see--when I went for my 21st birthday it was Czar Nicholas II collection, this last time it was contemporary painters of America)
Shops at Caesar's (or just wandering around searching for all the statues--they have a life size replica of Michaelangelo's David--free)
Volcano at the Mirage (free)
Dolphins at the Mirage (back in the day they had 'cheap days' where you got to see the dolphins, but not the Secret Garden. It was $10 cheaper and seeing the tigers and lions was actually pretty boring...so if they still have that deal, do just the dolphins)
Sirens of TI show (free)
Shops at the Venetian (and I'm still waiting to go on a Gondola ride--shopping is free, gondola rides are like $15...but usually a 75 minute wait)
Blue Man Group at the Venetian
See a Cirque Show (Alegria at TI, Ka at the MGM, O at the Bellagio, Love at the Mirage, or Zumanity at New York, New York)
Television City at MGM if you're looking to kill about an hour.

The Entertainment: The free

Of course, in Vegas there is always the FREE entertainment and then there is always the entertainment that you pay for. This is about the free entertainment.

Most of the casinos are entertainment in, and of, themselves. And you don't even have to pay for anything.

For example: New York, New York has the 'downtown' food court where it's almost like you're walking around in New York (well, except for all the muggers and the trash and what not). The MGM has the Lion Habitat where you can watch the lions. Planet Hollywood has the mall (as does Caesar's).

Anyhow, places/things we did to entertain ourselves that did not include spending money:
MGM Lion Habitat--I think we stopped here every day at least to just watch the lions for a while
New York, New York food court area--we ate lunch the first day here.
Planet Hollywood Mall
Planet Hollywood 'Lost City' and thunderstorm
Planet Hollywood free entertainment by acrobats (buskers)
Bellagio Fountains
Bellagio seasonal floral display (year of the rat)
statues at Caesar's, Bellagio, Paris
The Shoppes at Caesar's
Sirens of TI show
and we tried to check out the White Tiger Habitat at the Mirage, but it was closed in November of last year.
and finally Television City at the MGM where you watch a TV show that hasn't aired on US television yet so you rate it, and it helps the TV execs decide if the show gets aired or not. I have a feeling that Moonlight and Aliens in America are two shows that got the greenlight because of Television City. Furthermore, since they're always looking for reviewers, you can watch like 3 different shows if you want. After you watch the show, you fill out a survey and they give you coupons to use at the MGM for food (10% off at the CBS store, 2 for 1 at Nathan's Hotdogs, 2 for 1 at Haagen Daas, $3 off at Starbucks, 2 for 1 at some pretzel shop in NY, NY across the street, and a free appetizer at the Rainforest Cafe)

Of course we walked everywhere. The only times we didn't walk was when we were driving to/from the airport.

In the past, I've also gone to the Venetian, the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo, wandered around the Luxor (which they're apparently getting rid of the Egyptian theme), watched the Mirage Volcano and went to the Fremont Street Experience.

All things to do for free.

Who says you have to spend money to be entertained in Vegas?

The Entertainment: The paid.

Of course, in Vegas there is always the FREE entertainment and then there is always the entertainment that you pay for. This is about the entertainment that we paid for (aside from the buskers--I paid a dollar, but they were raising money for habitat for humanity).

We went and saw Ka by Cirque du Soleil.

Production-wise the show kicked ass. For those that don't know, Ka is performed on a stage that floats, twists, spins, goes vertical, goes horizontal, and sometimes isn't even there.

'Cirque'-wise, the show was very 'meh'. There was really only one act that seemed to push the realm of what the human body can do.

We sat in the back of the theater (there was only one row behind us), but for the most part we could see everything and it wasn't a problem. The only time when I would have liked to be closer would have been during the beginning fight scenes as from where we sat it was pretty boring. And I think a lot of it was because we weren't close enough to see all the sword and staff work.

I would suggest seeing it, especially if you haven't ever seen any Cirque Show. If you have seen a Cirque show, know that this isn't going to be the same type of thing--prepare to be entertained, but not necessarily wowed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Hotel: Post 2 of 2

Here is a layout of the hotel/casino:
We stayed in Tower 2 (upper right hand corner), and the strip was at the lower left. It was approximately 1/4 mile to walk from our hotel room to the strip. Each day, we ended up walking more than 6 miles. Of course, if we weren't the type to go walking up and down the strip, then it wouldn't have been as much.

Now then, for those of you who have been to Vegas, you know that none of the strip hotels offer an inclusive breakfast. And the food is expensive. My only suggestion is to go to the buffet during their 'breakfast' time. Mostly because if you time it right, you end up being there when they put out the lunch food as well. However, Shawn and I did not care for the breakfast buffet at the MGM Grand. I can't really put my finger on what we didn't like (Shawn would say they did the Eggs Benedict all wrong), but I'm glad we only paid $15/person (breakfast) instead of $18 (brunch price).
Suggestion: Go to the Paris brunch instead. It's about $10 more per person, but it's well worth it.

We also ate at Wolfgang Puck's (the pink/blue rectangle in the lower left). It was the best restaurant spaghetti I've ever had. Shawn ordered the eggplant calzone and it was as big as his head. No joke. The people next to us were asking if there was any way he could eat it all. He did eat it all. Even though we could have taken left overs back to our room (since we had a fridge and a microwave), we were to be going to Ka that night and we timed it just right so we got in without having to wait in a line (thus having left overs, and walking all the way back to the room, would have taken forever).
Suggestion: Eat here. This place is actually really cheap for the fact that it's a restaurant by a world-renowned restaurateur ($18 for the spaghetti, $15 for the calzone), and it was dinner time. The wait was about 30 minutes and we didn't have reservations.

On our last day, we ate at the Wichcraft (a sandwhich shop--closer to our end of the hotel). I had a $9.75 BLT. I've had much better BLTs for a fraction of the price. I don't remember what Shawn got, but after getting chips and a drink, the final bill was $30.
Suggestion: Skip it. The sandwiches are good, but they're not worth the $10 they have you pay. Though they are definitely large enough to split one sandwich between 2 people. They try to pass off that getting chips and a drink is cheaper than getting them separate, but they're not. All sodas were $3.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pictures

The good pictures from the trip (from my new digital SLR Canon Rebel). I probably took about 150...most at the Bellagio fountain.

Vegas Trip

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Hotel (post 1 of 2)

(The Signature: Tower 2 at MGM Grand)

The view ain't much,



But the room sure kicked ass.
Memory Foam king sized bed, kitchenette, internet access, flat panel LCD TV, complimentary bottled water and newspaper delivery.


Whirlpool bathtub, granite floor and counter top, his and hers sinks, bathrobes for each of us, toilet paper that had "MGM Grand: Signature" pressed into it, and a water heater that was so good, I swear you could get boiling water from the faucets.

Shawn decided we HAD to take a bath since he'd never been in a hotel with a bathtub with jets...too bad he tried to boil us in the water.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vegas

I promise to post a blog soon about the trip to Vegas, and the fun that is having to deal with delayed flights from Chicago.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A different point of view

The other night, at Lon and Daniella's, we had a conversation about a previous blog I had written...As such, I feel it is only fitting to post another blog about a different TV show which, on occasion, annoys me because of the "listen to me because I am the almighty boob-tube" vibe it sometimes sends out. Please note that CSI:Miami always annoys me--but this is because of the bad acting and for no other reason than that.

[sarcasm]
Dear Fox (and trust me, I KNOW how weird this is going to sound),

Thank you for your pro-choice views (or shall we call them pro-abortion views? as we all know that's what they really are) that have recently been expressed on your hit TV show, House. I just don't know what I would do if I did not have the most rude, angry, and generally high-as-a-kite 'doctor' telling me at every turn that babies (or 'fetuses' as he likes to call them) are the devil and need to be destroyed post haste.

I can think of at least 4 episodes in which he actively has lobbied the woman in question to destroy "the parasite". In 2 of those cases, the pregnancy was not life threatening to the mother. In one case it was life threatening until the team of doctors figured out what was causing the problem, and even then, he still advocated abortion over surgery. And in the last case, the mother chose (Ah free will, thy art a loathsome bitch) to continue her pregnancy even though it meant that she was going to die. Naturally, she must have been insane. I am so glad to see that he has never suggested to any of these pregnant women that they should keep the baby, or explore a different option. You know, such as adoption.

And onto to my next point: Religion.

I understand that House thinks he is God (and I mean, who doesn't?). This is why I think it is so awesome that he ridicules everyone for their personal religious views. He has so far ridiculed Catholic Nuns...and Hasidic Jews....and Agnostics. Oh, whoops, my mistake, he hasn't yet made fun of any Agnostics. Or Atheists. Or Buddhists, Hindus, Hare Krishnas, Scientologists, or non-denominational Christians. So I guess he's only an ass to the ones that you can tell on the outside are of strong religious conviction. Besides, we all know that the reason the world is at the point it is now (on the track to hedonism and hell) is because of the Catholic Nuns and Hasidic Jews.

Love much,
Katina

[/sarcasm]

Monday, February 04, 2008

Do you know my name?

So, as it can be ascertained, I don't exactly have a common name. And it is a name that can be confused quite easily with other names.

As such, it's pretty easy to know who remembers me. Mostly because they'll either screw up my name, or they'll be too scared to screw it up so they just take the whole "hey! it's....YOU!" approach.

I have gotten used to this. It has taken Shawn until recently to get used to this.

Anyhow, while Shawn was in Boulder, he ran into one of our old roommates. And he asked "How's Katrina?" and Shawn went ahead and answered him without correcting because what's the point really? it's not like either one of us ever sees him any more.

But still, it's funny.

Especially since we lived with this guy for a full year.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

French Onion Soup

Based on the recipe from the Colorado Cache cook book. This is the best book ever, I've never had a bad recipe from it (the Creme de Colorado is also a very good book). I highly recommend that everyone get this book--I personally got it specifically for the French Onion Soup recipe, though the other soup recipes sound delicious--like the tomato bisque which I still haven't tried.

Actually found out last weekend that my friend that grew up in Oklahoma knows his mom made recipes from this book.

The books can be purchased through the Junior League of Denver.

This recipe generally has served up to 12 people. I just keep adding beef stock and wine to make more soup if it looks like it's simmering down too quickly.

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 T of butter
1.5 t sugar
1 T flour
1 c dry white wine
1 quart beef stock, if using bullion, I suggest adding more than the amount it says.
Slices of French Bread.
Slices of Swiss Cheese (buy the ones that are presliced)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 oz)--we use the stuff you buy in the Kraft can.

In a heavy-bottomed pan, slowly brown the onions in butter and sugar until the onions are a dark brown, about 30 minutes. (With a wooden spoon, occasionally scrape the brown off the bottom of the pan.) Add flour and cook, stirring for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add stock and simmer partially covered for 1 hour. To serve, place a croƻton on top of each bowl of soup, Cover generously with Swiss cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake covered at 325* for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.

Beignets

1/2 package dry yeast
3/4 c warm water (about 110*)
1/4 c sugar
1 eggs
1/2 c milk
1/2 t salt
1/8 c shortening
veggie oil for frying
powdered sugar

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve.

Add sugar, eggs, milk --blend (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer)

Add half the flour, salt and shortening. Mix well (may want to switch over to the hook attachment at this stage)

add remaining flour and continue to mix to form a dough. Form dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Next day: punch down dough. cover with damp towl and let rest 15 min.

Roll dough in 1/4" thick rectangle. Use pizza cutter to cut into 2" squares.

Heat some oil for deep fat frying to 365* (to the 'donuts' marker if your candy thermometer has that written on it). drop in beignets, 3 or 4 at a time and fry on both sides til golden. Drain on a brown paper bag and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve.

Please note that beignets only have a half life of about a day. That means don't make extra if you can help it.

Politics Test(s)

Dani asked me to find and post a link to a politics test:
http://www.okcupid.com/politics

My test results below. Oddly, I was much more centrist while I was in college (one time I took the test and I was actually considered Libertarian). A little weird since I generally think I've become more conservative since moving to Texas.

You are a

Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(26% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Democrat (26e/68s)










Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

And here is a link to a different calculator:
http://www.vajoe.com/candidate_calculator.html
This calculator is more of a "which candidate aligns with my mores?" According to this one, in order 'my' candidates are Gravel, Clinton, Obama, Paul, McCain, Romney, Huckabee (haha, I had 0% match with Huckabee).

And yet another calculator:
http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460
This one has my matches, in order as Clinton, Obama, Gravel, Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Paul.

Oh! I just found a test hosted by the Brits. This one puts it more into perspective as far as the western world is considered:
http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
I was right above the "d" in Gandhi. Make sure to check out the link at the bottom to the U.S. Primaries 2008. (in which I should apparently vote for Gravel)

And one that at least as Colin Powell on it:
http://madrabbit.net/webrabbit/quizshow.html
(FYI choosing between Roosevelt and Reagan is only 1 point...with Roosevelt being the more liberal choice). And I was between Clinton and Powell, So, there you have it, if Colin Powell ran for President, I'd vote for 'im!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rosemary Pork Kabobs

Rosemary Vinegar:
2 c white-wine vinegar
6 (6-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic crushed

In saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil. Pour into glass bowl; add rosemary and garlic. Cover; let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain.


Kabobs:
1/2 c olive oil
1 T dijon mustard
2 t chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 t black pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound small red new potatoes
8 (6-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)

In bowl, whisk 1/2 cup vinegar (save the remainder), oil, mustard, rosemary and pepper for vinaigrette. In plastic bag, combine 1/2 c vinaigrette and pork. Chill 30 minutes.

Cook potatoes in simmering water, covered, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Halve potatoes and toss in bowl with remaining vinaigrette.

Heat broiler or grill. Thread pork alternating with potatoes on 4 skewers, or 8 rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Broil or grill 4 inches from heat about 10 minutes, turning and basting with vinaigrette from bowl.


(Alternately, if you're lazy, like me, then you use 1/2 c white-wine vinegar, a couple tablespoons of dried rosemary if you don't have fresh, and a teaspoon or so of garlic powder and a dash of black pepper. Do not boil the vinegar, hell, don't let it sit over-night--just put the ingredients into a ziploc bag with 1/2 c. oil and add either boneless pork pieces or pork chops, marinate for 30 minutes. Grill as directed--I have yet to make the potatoes with this thing...I think it's the boiling that always gets to me.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Peanutty Noodles

1 peeled carrot (you use the peels)
1/2 T vegetable oil, divided
2 t grated, peeled, fresh ginger (I still use ginger powder)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce (I usually use less)
3 T rice or white wine vinegar (you can use normal vinegar, but half the dose)
1 t chili garlic sauce (or a pinch or two of chili powder)
1/8 t salt
Cooking spray
2 c red bell pepper strips
1 lb snow peas
1 lb cooked pasta (usually spaghetti noodles)
fresh cilantro for garnish

Shave carrot lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable peeler, set aside.

Heat 1 t oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic. Saute 30 sec. Add chicken broth and next 5 ingredients. Stir until well blended. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat & keep warm

Heat 2 t oil in large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium high heat. Add bell peppers and peas. Saute 5 min or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine carrot, peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mix and pasta in large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with Cilantro and serve warm.

Notes:
We normally don't add the veggies because we never have snow peas in the house, and Shawn is allergic to bell pepper.

We normally add chicken to this--cook chicken in step one in the sauce pan, then pick up at the 'add ginger and garlic' spot.

Apple Dumplings (and mini dumplings)

1.5 c sugar
1.5 c water
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg

Bring to boil and add 3T butter and a couple drops of red food coloring (food coloring is optional). set aside

2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2/3 c. shortening

Cream together and then add

1/2 c. milk

mix until it forms a dough (it should be pliable, if it's too dry, add a little more milk)

Directions:
Roll dough into 18 x 12 rectangle and cut into 6" squares. Place whole cored and peeled apples in center of square. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the apples and dot tops of apples with butter. Bring corners together and pinch to seal.

Place 1" apart in un-greased pan (I usually use a 9" square if I'm doing 4 dumplings, or an 11 x 9 if doing 6). Pour syrup over the dumplings and sprinkle with sugar (optional).

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until apples are done.

For mini-dumplings:
same recipe, but peel, core and quarter the apples. follow the directions above (squares of dough will be smaller) replacing a whole apple with a quarter apple. place in pan. bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until apples are done.

Notes:
-usually it's difficult to get the dough to the 12 x 18 size. My mom and I both just started using 4 apples instead of the normal recipe of 6.

-I made the mini-dumplings for the first time and I managed to get the dough rolled out to the 12 x 18 size, and I cut up 4 apples. The minis took up my small oblong pan, and 2 tiny casseroles--they probably fit fine in a 9 x 11.

-My mom always added red food coloring because she found the normal brownish color of the syrup to be unappetizing. I normally don't add the coloring because I don't have it on hand

-You don't have to make as much syrup as the recipe calls for, the important part is to have equal amounts of sugar and water. In fact, I wouldn't recommend having the recipe amount of syrup. Unless you're looking to get diabetes.

Spaghetti

This recipe is very generic. Add as many spices as you want, don't add meat, whatever. Just taste the sauce until it tastes right to you. Note: if you have this with meat, you'll have to add more spices than if you don't use meat.

1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
onion
14 oz can of tomato sauce
a little sugar (about 1 t)
Worcestershire sauce (a couple dashes)
various spices (italian spices, or make your own: Oregano, fennel, basil, parsley, garlic, etc.)
cooked pasta

Brown beef and diced onion in sauce pan. Drain. Add other ingredients and simmer on low heat until noodles are cooked. Serve hot.

Apple Pancake

This can be served as Breakfast or Dinner (we eat it for Dinner though)

2 T butter
4 T sugar, divided
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1 large apple cored & sliced
4 eggs
2/3 c milk
1/3 c flour
1/2 t salt (I normally leave this out)

Melt butter in 10" frying pan with ovenproof handle. Combine 3 T sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over butter. Arrange apple slices over sugar mix in pan. Cook over medium heat 3-4 minutes. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, beat together eggs, milk, flour, 1 T sugar, and salt until smooth. Poor gently over apple slices. Bake in preheated 400* oven until golden brown and sides are puffy (approx. 15 min). Serve immediately.

Notes:
The pancake will always get puffy--it will also always fall.
Also, you will never get the batter smooth. The best I've gotten is to put all the ingredients in a Nalgene bottle and shaken it up then poured over the apple slices.

Blueberry Coffee Cakes

4 c. flour (slightly more for high altitude)
1.5 c. sugar (slightly less for low altitude)
4 t. baking powder
1.5 t salt
1/2 c melted margarine
1.5 c + 3 T milk
2 eggs
4 c fresh or frozen blueberries

Topping:
Mix 1/2 c sugar, 2/3 c flour, 1 t cinnamon & 1/2 c softened margarine

Heat oven to 375*. Grease two 9" layer cake pans. Mix all ingredients except topping & blueberries. Beat vigorously 1/2 minute. Carefully stir in blueberries. Spread half the batter in each pan; sprinkle topping on batter in each pan. Bake 45 min.

Serve warm or cool, wrap and freeze up to 3 months.

Glorified Muffins

1.5 c sifted flour (though I never sift it)
1.5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Sift together and set aside (though as stated, I never sift)

1/3 c. shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 t grated orange rind

Cream together

1/2 c. milk

Add to creamed mix alternately with sifted flour mix. Beat until smooth. Spoon into paper baking cups or greased muffin pans. Bake at 350* for 20 min.

***Topping***
1 stick margarine, melted
1 c. sugar
1.5 t. cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Dip tops of still warm muffins in melted margarine then into sugar & cinnamon mix.

Who says girls are bad with directions?

I just got off the phone with Shawn. He's in Boulder with his parents. They're going to eat at the Med (Which, by the way, is my favoritist restaurant of all time...I'm so jealous).

Shawn, for whatever reason, decided the Med was on Pearl Street. Good guess. But that's just it-- a guess. He's been there like 4 times and he doesn't remember where it is. Anyhow, after walking the entire length of Pearl Street, he finally calls and is like "hey, I've got a question. Where's the Med?" And I immediately answer "Walnut Street. Two blocks west of the Walnut Brewery. It's on the same block as the Walrus Saloon, but across the street. Where are you? Okay, from the end of Pearl Street, turn toward campus, walk to Walnut, go west a block." "Wait, WEST?" "Yes." "Are you sure?" "90% sure." "..." "...Fine. I'll google it...Yes, I was right: end of Pearl street, two blocks south to Walnut, one block west to 10th-ish...or rather, where 10th would be if it didn't dead end."

He didn't believe me. And I could hear Elsie in the background going "where are you going!? We're going the wrong way! You're leading us all over the place, do you have ANY idea where you're going?" I would have been the same way. he made them walk at least half a mile (it's half a mile if they had gone directly from the parking garage to The Med, but they didn't...they turned around a couple of times and had to back track and what not), AND it only feels like 22 degrees. Yeah, I would have been more cranky than "do you know where you're going?"

They found it though, right where I said it was.

Who says girls are bad with directions?

Beef Stroganoff

1/4 c butter
1/2 c minced onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 lb meat
1 lb mushrooms, sliced (optional)^
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t paprika
1-10.5 oz condensed soup (chicken or mushroom)
1 c sour cream
choice of noodles (wide egg works well)

^ - if not using mushrooms, use condensed soup of mushroom.

In skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and cook onion & garlic about 3 min. Stir in meat, mushrooms, salt, pepper, paprika. cook, stirring often until meat is browned (about 7 min)

Stir in undiluted soup; heat to boiling. reduce heat to low & simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in sour cream and heat (do not boil). sprinkle with parsley. Serve sauce over noodles.

Goulash

1 lb ground meat
diced onions
can of diced tomatoes
1/2 c ketchup
cooked elbow macaroni

Brown meat and onions. Drain off grease. Add tomatoes and ketchup. let simmer until noodles are finished (drain and stir into sauce). Serve warm.

Note: I cheat and use the petite diced tomatoes with onion already in them. We also usually had 1 teaspoon of sugar and some spices (italian usually)

Chicken Scampi

1/2 c butter
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c finely chopped green onions
1 T minced garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
2 lbs diced skinless chicken breast
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 c parsley
cooked pasta or rice

In skillet heat together butter, oil, onins and garlic. Saute for a few minutes. Add lemon juice, chicken, salt, pepper and parsley. Cook until chicken is done. Serve over pasta or rice.

4 ways with potatoes

Homestyle Potatoes:
Thinly slice 2 med red potatoes, cube 1 med green pepper and thinly slice 1 med onion. Combine all in a 2 qt microwavalbe casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup water, 1/2 t seasoned salt, 1/2 t pepper and dot 1 T margarine. Cover with wax papper and microwave on high 9-10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.

Twice Baked Potatoes:
6 scrubbed baking potatoes
1.5 c nonfat sour cream
1/2 t salt
1 c grated low fat cheddar cheese
1/2 c finely chopped green onion
Paprika

Preheat oven to 400*. Prick Potatoes. Bake 1 hr or until done. Let cool. Scoop pulp into a medium bowl; leaving about 1/4 of potato in shell. Add sour cream to pulp; whip with electric mixer. Stir in cheese, onion. Stuff shells with mixture and sprinkle with paprika. place on baking sheet and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until heated through.

Note: We cheat with this recipe and cook the potatoes in the microwave--about 12 minutes on high for 4 potatoes (make sure you prick with a fork first)

Packet Potatoes:
1 small onion
potatoes sliced
2 T olive oil or vegetable oil (or butter/margarine)
1 t seasoned salt
1/4 t pepper
shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 450* or grill to med-high. Spray aluminum foil with cooking spray.
Center onion in foil and layer potatoes on top. Drizzle with oil (or dot with butter) & sprinkle with seasonings. Fold foil into a packet & bake or grill (30-35 min in oven, or 15-20 min on grill). If adding cheese, after the packets have cooked and are ready, open carefully, add shredded cheese, and close packet loosely to keep heat in.

Herb Medley Potatoes:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinaigrette
1/4 c. chopped shallots
5 t fresh or 2 t dried thyme
5 t fresh or 2 t dried rosemary
2 t chopped fennel seeds
3 lb med red skin potatoes each cut into 8 wedges
3 lb med yukon potatoes each cut into 8 wedges.

Preheat oven to 400*. Oil 2 large baking sheets. Whisk all ingredients (sans potatoes), add potatoes and toss to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning occasionally. When done, recoat with oil mix and serve.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb hamburger
1 small onion, diced

Brown together

1 c. catsup
1 t mustard (optional)
1 T vinegar
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 c water

Add ingredients to browned and drained hamburger. Simmer 20 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns.

Easy Lasagna

Brown 1 lb of ground meat
30 oz jar of spaghetti sauce + 1/2 jar water
10 lasagna noodles
1/2 large container of small curd cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
bag of shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese

Mix sauce with cooked meat and water.

put in 9 x 13 pan:
layer of sauce
layer of noodles (4 across, 1 on end)
layer of sauce
layer of mozzarella cheese (or cheddar)
1/2 container of cottage cheese (or ricotta)
layer of noodles
remainder of sauce
layer of mozzarella cheese (or cheddar)

Saran wrap overnight

Bake when convenient at 350* for 1 hour (no need to preheat oven)

Oven BBQ Chicken

1 can Tomato soup
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c vinegar
2 T packed brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t garlic powder
2 lb chicken parts

Combine soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, and garlic.

In 3 qt. oblong baking dish, arrange chicken. Bake @ 375* for 30 min. Spoon off fat. Spoon soup mix over chicken. Bake 30 more minutes or until chicken is done. Stir the sauce and serve.

Note: We usually use boneless, skinless chicken instead of chicken parts--cook chicken 5 min, initially, then spoon the soup on it, then cook another 20-25 min.

Note: Since we don't use 2 lbs of chicken, there is usually quite a bit of sauce. Also, it seems to have an oriental flair (sort of), so we just always eat this over steamed rice.

Swiss Cheese Chicken Breast

From my mom's coworker Willo:

6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
4 oz swiss cheese (we use a lot more)
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 T melted butter
1/2 c seasoned croutons

Place chicken in greased baking dish with all sides touching. Layer Swiss cheese slices evenly over chicken. Coat with a layer of condensed soup. Optional to top with croutons and sprinkle with butter. Bake uncovered at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked.