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Friday, July 24, 2015

Chew on This | Chicken with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

I love to people watch. Having a prime viewing spot in a place that hustles about is a lovely way to glimpse into the interactions of strangers. 

Today I had some time to myself while waiting for the kids. I grabbed a cup of tea and sat in a perfectly quaint spot that just happened to allow for some great people watching. Three medical students were studying together, intently quizzing and challenging each other about keloids, sarcoidosis, scleroderma...I'm thinking the dermatology rotation? Two other ladies were wedding planning for the one lady's daughter. Another young girl was studying a bunch of flash cards. A young mom was enjoying a sweet with her sweet toddler. 

Passerby in flip flops and shorts and others in business suits. A wide array of individuals going about their day - some looked to be in deep concentration, others were happily strolling, while a very few wore an angry scowl. I love to consider where these people are going, what they're doing, and what they're going to accomplish in their day. Are they happy? Stressed? Looking forward to a date? Praying? I sometimes choose a random stranger and envision their storyline in my mind. No matter what, I always make their story include a happy circumstance (especially for those few with the growly faces), because everyone needs a positive surprise in their day. 

In the blink of an eye, my observation time was up. I had pleasantly passed 45 minutes contemplating (and imagining) someone else's world. I tidied up my table, packed up my gear, and was off to pick up my kids. Back to my own story. My own reality. Back to my own happy circumstance.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Chew on This | Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips with Brown Sugar Peach Dip

"Inter-planet Janet, she's a galaxy girl. A solar system Miss from a future world. She travels like a rocket with her comet team. And there's never been a planet Janet hasn't seen. No, there's never been a planet Janet hasn't seen."

After spending some hours in the steamy hot box we call outside, we decided to bring our sticky bodies inside for some air conditioned relief. Once inside, the Boy wanted to just veg-out and watch a movie. Scouring every channel on tv, then paging through Netflix, he found nothing of interest. Suffering from a case of overheated whininess (!), he complained that there was absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing to watch. Grrr! My cranky, sweaty-ness pulled out the long forgotten dvds from my kids younger days and I told him to go to town. Schoolhouse Rock has been on rotation for the last hour, and it has been hard to pull myself away from tv. 

Schoolhouse Rock is classic! It was classic when my sister and I were kids. Figure Eight, Conjunction Junction, I'm just a Bill, Inter-planet Janet...oh man, I can so vividly remember waiting for a Schoolhouse Rock episode during Saturday morning cartoons. The Boy is entranced, giggling and thoroughly enjoying himself. I am, too. Yay childhood!!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Chew on This | Rosemary Bread


All family members are home and accounted for. The Husband is back from a business trip. The Sprite is home from camp. 

All is right with our world.

My instincts tell me to make things comfortable and inviting when my people come home. Baking or cooking up something delicious is just one way I share my delight in having my loves back under one roof. Today a fresh loaf of delectable rosemary bread (along with some homemade chili and brownies) seemed like the perfect way to welcome everyone home.

Soft and tasty. Fragrant and delicious. This Rosemary Bread is a good reason to come home!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Chew on This | Roasted Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Last summer we took a long weekend trip to Michigan. We stopped in Ann Arbor for one night and made our way walking around the UofM campus, shopping at boutiques (and Zingerman's), and of course, eating. 

We stopped at Mani Osteria for dinner and had a really spectacular meal. We came away from it wishing we lived closer, or had this restaurant closer to us. While there, both kids raved about the strawberry mint lemonade so much that I had to try. Wow! Holy wow! The. Best. Lemonade. Ever. Ever. Ever.

So here is my attempt to recreate the most amazing lemonade ever. Yes, I'm quite sure they don't roast their strawberries. That trick was my genius idea! And yes, I know they strain out the strawberry seeds. The Sprite insisted I do that as well, before she would try it. But dang, this stuff is gooooooood! 

Is it a labor of love? Yes, but you can shortcut the lemonade-making portion by using your favorite already-made lemonade product. The rest - well, all I can say is, it is TOTALLY worth it. Enjoy!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Who knew? How to...Celebrate Leon Day

We're celebrating Leon Day today. 
Happy Leon Day!

If you don't know what Leon Day is, no worries. Until a handful of days ago, I didn't know what it was either. You see, Leon Day is celebrated today, June 25th, and is the midway point until...Christmas. Yep, that's right, I said it - Christmas!

I know Christmas may be the furthest thing from your mind right now - we're in the midst of summer, for goodness sake. We're all popsicles, the sound of lawnmowers, and fire flies. However, Leon Day (Noel spelled backwards - clever, right?) gives us the opportunity to enjoy a little Christmas magic outside of a wonderful, but often times very busy, holiday season. To celebrate this lovely day, maybe you and the kids bake some Christmas cutout cookies for a friend as a nice surprise. Or you could write out your Christmas list and start making or shopping for the gifts now so that last minute spending doesn't blow the budget. Maybe you do what we decided to do to celebrate, make some eatable ornaments for our bird friends that fly south for the winter. 

I love preparing our house for the holiday season, our two large Christmas trees, one in the foyer and one in our family room, being my favorite things to decorate. We fill those trees to bursting with treasured ornaments made or purchased by ourselves or loved ones (these Christmas Ornaments from Patience Brewster are especially whimsical). So we thought, why not gussy up a tree outside to top off Leon Day. Here's what we did; we took some many-days-old bagels, slathered them with peanut butter, and sprinkled with a heavy dose of sunflower seeds. We strung them with bakers twine (as well as some crackers, you know, for variety) and hung everything from a Christmas pine in our yard. Now we can delight in watching the birds feast on our Leon Day ornaments! 

And for the two cuties that thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Leon Day with me, we toasted this new-to-us holiday with Roasted Strawberry Mint Lemonade (don't miss this recipe next Monday!!). Yum!

Happy Leon Day!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Chew on This | Herbed Oil

Our summer break is in full swing. We've had a vacation, camps, started sports leagues, eaten s'mores, been eaten by mosquitos, stayed up too late, slept in too long...all those awesome things that summer is made of. 

We've also been seeing tons of growth in the garden. The rain has been plentiful and more often than not, the humidity has made it feel like a greenhouse outside. So yes, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, snap peas, peppers, all getting huge. And my basil, rosemary, mint, and oregano are so gorgeous. I have so many recipes for their use that its been hard to decide what to make first. I was actually stunted by the whole decision making process for a bit until I couldn't stand it anymore. So, I made the easiest thing I could think of, this delicious Herbed Oil.

Our primary use for this yummy goodness is as a dip for bread. The best! However, herbed oil is good for so much more - as a marinade for your meat or seafood, over pasta, drizzled on pizza...all excellent choices. Now you go make a good choice and get to making this fabulous herbed oil.


Here's our recipe:

Herbed Oil
1/2 C oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
2 T basil, chopped
1 1/2 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t fresh cracked pepper
1/2 t salt

In a small sauce pan, warm your oil with the smashed garlic cloves over medium-low heat. When the oil is just beginning to simmer, take pan off the heat and allow the garlic to steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove the garlic (save for another recipe or discard) from the oil and add the rest of your ingredients. Stir to incorporate and allow the herbs to meld their flavors before serving (about 15 minutes or so). 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Chew on This | Seared Stuffed Dates

My Sprite, she has just completed her career in elementary school. She is now officially a middle schooler. To commemorate, celebrate, and honor the maturing masses, the kids had final choir, band/orchestra concerts, a class picnic, and The Clap Out.

The Clap Out is a school tradition when all students line the hallways and clap, cheer, and congratulate the departing fifth grade class as the walk through the halls. It is as precious and bittersweet as it sounds. 

There have been many 'lasts' this year for my Sprite. The last elementary school classroom parties. The last elementary school Father-Daughter Dance. The last time, for a long time, she'll be one of the big kids on the bus, sitting in the way back acting all cool and...big. The last day of elementary school. 

It dents your heart a bit. More than a bit. 

Lots of firsts and new beginnings are on the horizon. They will be wonderful. And different. And amazing. And ouchy. 

To lovely, sweet endings.
To exciting and happy beginnings.

'Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end...'