Music & Lists
Jul 24, 2011

I’m a list person. I love lists. Lists of things to do. Lists of things I want. Lists of things I’ve done. It makes me feel productive.

And I love music! And I love concerts!

Hence, here’s a list of concerts I’ve been to! I have had an outdated list on a past blog. (Yeah, this isn’t my first blog rodeo.) I wanted to recopy it, so that I don’t lose it. Maybe you’ll find it interesting, maybe not!

Bands I’ve Seen:
New Kids on the Block (5th grade!!  First concert ever.) I was a Joey fan.
Boyz II Men (Sophomore year of high school)
Third Eye Blind (Their self-titled 1st CD is still one of my fave CD’s…especially the songs I Want You, The Background, Motorcycle Drive By, and God of Wine)
Huey Lewis & the News
Richard Marx
The Calling
The Wallflowers
Better than Ezra–twice
Lifehouse–twice
Matchbox 20
Coldplay
Sister Hazel–twice
Stixx
Sugar Ray
Live
Spin Doctors
Goo Goo Dolls
Smashmouth
Jars of Clay
Bryan Adams–twice, I LOVE Bryan Adams too. Summer of ’69 is my FAVORITE SONG!! :) :)
Def Leppard
Bon Jovi
Dave Matthews Band–three times
Weezer
Tom Petty–probably the best concert that I’ve been to
Augustana
Chris Daughtry
Dashboard Confessional
Gin Blossoms
Candlebox
Switchfoot
The Fray–twice
Mat Kearney–twice
Matt Nathanson–twice
Glen Phillips–lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Amos Lee–three times!!  Amos Lee is my absolute favorite singer.
John Mayer
Justin Nozuka
Matt Wertz–twice
Ray Lamontagne
Jason Mraz
No Doubt
Ani Defranco
Matt White
Josh Kelly

This list would be longer if I still lived in Charlotte. There’s not a lot of bands that come through Wichita that I want to see. Although I will get to add The Script to my list in September!

Mac & Cheese Please
Jul 24, 2011

A quick update:  I did see Horrible Bosses finally this week.  HILARIOUS!  Loved it!  I’m going all out and saying I liked it better than Bridesmaids.  I love me some Charlie Day.

And I wanted to talk about my dinner from tonight really quick.  I’ve been internally battling myself at the grocery store lately regarding boxed mac & cheese.  It’s so good for dinner…except I’d eat the whole box for dinner and call it good.  A box of mac & cheese isn’t a good idea for dinner…at least not for this lady.

Last night, I saw on  Sweet Tooth Sweet Life that Courtney had bulked up her mac & cheese though.  Could I add a bunch of veggies and protein to make it a more complete meal and resist eating it all?  YES!

Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar, make per directions on box

While pasta is boiling, I sauteed up some zucchini, red onion, and baby bella mushrooms in some olive oil with salt and pepper.  I added a can of white chunk chicken and a can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes.  Mix together prepared macaroni to sauteed vegetables.  I also added a wedge of Laughing Cow Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil cheese for extra creaminess.

Serves about 4.  Estimated calories:  275 per serving

It was DELICIOUS!  Very filling and I was satisfied after one serving.  My only wish was that I would have added more mushrooms.

My other “tip” is my blue bowl above.  I recently bought a few bowls marked “Primary” bowls, i.e. for small kids.  They were fun colors and I love that I can fill up the bowl to “trick” myself into thinking I’m getting more food.  I know this idea has been around forever, but it works for me!

Do you have internal battles with yourself at the grocery store or restaurants??

Special K Dessert Bars
Jul 24, 2011

So, I ran out of dog food last night.  And I was too lazy to go to the grocery store.

I poured Special K cereal into Haley’s bowl instead.  (Don’t judge!)  Haley didn’t seem to mind.  I often have cereal for dinner!

Okay, I think she minded a little bit.  She about flipped out with excitement when I came home this morning with dog food.  All is right in the world now.

Seque!

Did you see last Sunday’s True Blood??  Yes, I’m behind.  Did you notice it was Mona from Who’s The Boss playing Andy’s grandmother??  I think she’s aging very gracefully.  Go Mona!

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Back to the Special K.  I recently made Special K dessert bars.  Any dessert that doesn’t require turning on your oven is great now!  There’s a ton of variations on these babies too.  You can make them with cornflakes or rice krispies too.  And just use your choice of baking chips that you love and/or have on hand.  As with most dessert, I prefer these cold!!

Special K Dessert Bars

Recipe from Kate’s in a Pickle

Ingredients:

8 cups Special K cereal
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips  (I used closer to 1.5 cups.)
1 cup butterscotch chips  (I used closer to 1.5 cups)
about 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add 8 cups Special K.  Add the peanut butter on top of the cereal.  Set aside.

Bring the sugar and corn syrup to a boil in a saucepan.

Pour the boiling mixture over the Special K. Stir well.

Smooth the Special K mixture into your baking dish.  Set aside to let cool.

Melt your chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in a saucepan (or in the microwave in 30 second increments stirring in between) on low heat.  Continue to stir.  Add heavy cream as needed to get a smooth, pourable consistency.

Smooth the chocolate/butterscotch topping over the top of the Special K.  Spread with a rubber spatula to get an even layer.  Place the baking dish in the refrigerator to let the topping harder, at least 30 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.  Per Kate’s suggestion, I used a pizza cutter to slice the bars and it worked quite well!

Thanks to Sarah for this cute polka dot plate that she got me while I was in Charlotte too!

Winner Winner…Pork…Dinner
Jul 20, 2011

Eh, winner winner chicken dinner sounds better.

Speaking of pork..did you watch Big Brother tonight?? Ha, loved Adam’s shirt.

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“I put bacon on my bacon.”  Sorry for the toothbrushing and earwaxing going on in the picture too.

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Another good one….”Bacon makes everything Better.”  Yum, bacon.

That’s an excellent lead in to what I made for dinner last night!  Pork tenderloin, Lyonnaise potatoes, and sauteed green beans were on the menu.  My guests were my Mom & Dad as yesterday was my Dad’s birthday.  Happy birthday again, Dad!!

I recreated a delicious dinner that I had in Charlotte.  When I was in town, my friend, Kristie, and her husband, Jon, offered to make dinner so that we could catch up and I could see their new house.  First off, oh.my.God.their.house.is.so.nice.and.I’m.so.jealous!  Secondly, dinner was great!  Kristie made the pork and potatoes (and dessert) and Jon made his famous green beans.  Kristie had been telling me that Jon makes great green beans.  You know, I grew up with canned green beans.  I don’t really eat fresh green beans at all.  I was skeptical.  But now I’m a believer.  ;)

For the pork tenderloin, I went to Wal-Mart.  They have several varieties of Hormel pork tenderloins already seasoned.  I’d never heard of them, but the more people I ask…it seems I’m the last to know!  Kristie assured me that they are all good (except not the lemon one!).  I went with the Apple Bourbon Tenderloin.

She also recommended using a meat thermometer to ensure it was cooked completely.  Can you believe I don’t have a meat thermometer??  I made my Dad bring his over for me to use, ha!  And funny this is….I’M the one that bought HIM a meat thermometer!

Sauteed Green Beans

fresh green beans (I just used a big handful per person you’re cooking for…no biggie.)
olive oil
fresh thyme (or crushed red pepper)
Kosher salt

Snap off the ends of your green beans. Wash thoroughly. Add a generous amount of olive oil to a large saute pan/skillet and heat. Add your green beans. Add several teaspoons of fresh thyme and toss. (You can use crushed red pepper instead of thyme if you prefer more spicy food.) Continue to toss and cook on medium-low to medium for 25 minutes. Add Kosher salt to taste and cook for the last 5 minutes. Serve.

Lyonnaise Potatoes

3-5 large Russet potatoes, thinly sliced/chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced/chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat a small baking pan (I used a cookie sheet lined with foil.) with olive oil cooking spray.

Wash your potatoes well. Cut into thin slices. Cut your onion into thin slices. (Really, I just did a combo of slices and chopped pieces on both.)

Layer potatoes & onion in pan. Season with salt & pepper. Pour chicken broth over the potatoes and onion; toss a bit to coat.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Brush potatoes with a bit of olive oil and return to oven, uncovered, for 10 more minutes to lightly brown the potatoes. Serve!

I love to serve food in pie plates if you hadn’t noticed!!  Pie plates aren’t just for pies!!!  :)

Terrace Cafe
Jul 20, 2011

I’m still trying to play catch up on blogging about my trip to Charlotte, NC.  Sarah had asked me before I came if there were any places that I wanted to eat at while I was in town.  I had remembered that she had told me about a new-to-me brunch spot that she really enjoyed.  I immediately said…..that one place that you went to that one day for brunch!!!  What?!  That place you went to with Margot!  Ohhhhhhh  Terrace Cafe!!

I also immediately knew that I wanted our friend, Kat, to join as well.  We had the best lunch last time I was in town in January and I wanted to recreate the funness.

A word to the wise:  get to Terrace Cafe early on Sunday or be prepared to wait!  We only had to wait about 20 minutes and then were seated upstairs.

I ordered some coffee to start.  And Kat & I told the waitress to come back at 11:59 am to take our drink order!  Does every state have that rule???  No alcohol before noon on Sundays…

I looked at the specials and my eyes darted toward the Cajun Chicken Benedict.  Cajun fried chicken breast, buttermilk biscuit, poached egg & sausage gravy…..wow, sign me up!

It was SO good!  I really enjoyed it!  I wish that I could eat at the Terrace Cafe more often to try their regular eggs Benedict.

The best part of the meal happened at 12:05 pm though.

A Bloody Mary with bacon for garnish!  I’ve never had a Bloody Mary with bacon before.  It was great…..gave it some extra peppery flavor.  Now the bacon itself, you don’t want to eat as it’s slimy from being in the great.  But it was really good overall!

Sarah and I had tentative plans to see Horrible Bosses after brunch.  But after eating so much and being seated upstairs….under these scorching lights….I was so hot!  All I wanted to do was go home, change into comfy clothes and take a nap….and really, isn’t that what we all want on a Sunday afternoon??

I’ve still yet to see Horrible Bosses.

Have you seen it??

Quiet mornings
Jul 19, 2011

Good morning!!  I’m not much of a Wal-Mart grocery shopper.  It’s just too dang busy.  I get overwhelmed…and frustrated…and annoyed, very annoyed.

But gosh darnit (did I just say “gosh darnit”?), I really wanted one of those egg muffin pans!  And I’m making pork tenderloin for dinner and I know that Wal-Mart carries what I was looking for.

So I braved the store at 7 am this morning.  7 am is the perfect time to grocery shop at Wal-Mart!!  It was quiet and peaceful and not crowded.  I venture to say I might even go back.  The lady checking out in front of me saw that I was buying cherries and offered me her match-that coupon to get a cheaper price even!  Why thank you, kind lady!!

I remembered to brew some coffee last night too and put it in the fridge overnight.  Best iced coffee made at home so far!!

I put just a dash of heavy cream into the egg muffin pan with salt & pepper.  I microwaved it for 30 seconds only.  Every microwave is different, but this did the trick for me….cooked enough to stay in place, but still runny.  I served my on a bagel thin with a little Earth Balance and cheese on top with a side of green apple slices.

The only way my morning would have been better is if I would have exercised too.  There’s always tomorrow for that!!  :)

Zucchini Squares
Jul 18, 2011

Hello zucchini.  Meet my friend, Bisquick.  I think you two will hit it off.

I made zucchini squares for the 4th of July.  I wasn’t feeling them that day.  They just didn’t mesh well with the other items on the menu.

But I froze some of the leftovers.  And on Saturday, I heated a couple of zucchini squares up to go with my lunch of Lentil & Vegetable soup.  OH!!  That’s why you make zucchini squares!

They are great to go with soup!!  I think they’ll be even better with chili.  Now if I could only get a break from the 100+ degree temperatures to be able to make chili!

Zucchini Squares

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

5 eggs, beaten slightly
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup grated cheese—I used a combination of Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago
2 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
1/ tsp salt
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cups Bisquick
3 cups thinly sliced zucchini

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together eggs, oil, cheeses, chopped parsley, salt, seasoned salt, oregano and garlic powder in a large bowl. Whisk in your chopped onion.  Then whisk in your Bisquick.  Stir in the sliced zucchini gently.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  Smooth the top.  Bake about 30-35 minutes.  The top will be golden brown.

Serve with your favorite soup or chili!

Mud Hen Bars & Book Review
Jul 17, 2011

Where did the weekend go??  Come back, weekend!!  We didn’t get enough time together.

Okay, that’s pretty much all I could come up with on what to write.  Ha.

Let’s just do this thing, shall we?

Book Review:

The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble



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I read The Girl Next Door on my flights to & from Charlotte last week.  This book is yet another from my loot at the closing Borders store months ago.  I remembered reading an Elizabeth Noble book before (The Friendship Test).  So it was a pretty safe bet for my $.50.

The Girl Next Door is the story of Eve Gallagher.  She moved from England to NYC when her husband gets a promotion at work.  Eve & Ed moved into a Manhattan apartment complex.  From there, the story is more of an ensemble type book with each chapter featuring a different tenant/s.  Some of the stories co-mingle too.

In the beginning of the book, there was a list of 24(!) characters and which apartments they lived in.  Yikes!!  I’m glad I didn’t see that list until after I started the book or else I would have been overwhelmed.  The author really just focuses on 8 characters though, so that’s very doable.

So this book…eh, it’s alright.  It served the purpose of keeping me entertained in airports.  It was interesting enough that I wasn’t bored.  But I didn’t find myself rooting for any characters.  There were definitely a few twists that I wasn’t expecting and that was a pleasant surprise.  But in the end, I just found myself thinking….okay, that book is done.  What’s next?

The Girl Next Door:  2.5 out of 5 stars

Now on to something sweeter!!

Mud Hen Bars

Recipe from Taste & Tell

Ingredients:

1/4 cup shortening
4 tbl unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, whole
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts–I used walnuts
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Cream together the shortening, butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add in 1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks.  (You’ll be reserving the 2 egg whites for later.)  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet.  Mix well

Spread the batter into a butter 9×13 inch baking dish.  the prepared baking dish.  You can use a spatula (or hands or both!) to spread & pat evenly.  Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of batter.  Sprinkle mini marshmallows on top of nuts.  (I squished the marshmallows down a bit as they were close to brimming over the pan.)  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the marshmallows.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat your 2 reserved egg whites until stiff.  (You’ll need a beater or mixer for this one!  I tried (and failed) to stiffen mine just with a hand-held whisk).  Fold in the light brown sugar.  Spread sugar mixture evenly over the top of the chocolate chips.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  The top will be lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.

These mud hen bars are best served warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts
Jul 16, 2011

Hey y’all!!

Yes, I’m channeling Tami Taylor.  Tami Taylor is (or should I say WAS {tear}) my favorite character on Friday Night Lights.  Her southern drawl, her boots, her aviator sunglasses (love!), and her hair (double love!!)….

I decided to wait to watch the series finale until this morning.  I thought that watching it in the quiet of a Saturday morning would be more special.  I’m weird.

But first, I had to make some iced coffee.

Thanks to Sarah for this insulated Starbucks cup!  I only had a generic one up until now.  I’m snazzy now.

I first brewed some coffee and stuck it in the fridge for awhile.  The K-Cups say you just brew it over a cup with ice in it.  That’s ridiculous.  The ice will melt instantly that way.  It’s even smarter to brew the coffee the night before.  But I’m not much a planner.

I added some half & half, cinnamon, and Agave syrup.  Check out my new KitchenAid food processor too.  :)

Back to Friday Night Lights, I don’t want to give away spoilers in case you haven’t watched it.  Let’s just say I loved the series finale so very much.  I teared up at least seven times and was all out bawling at the end.  This series was so genuine and heartfelt.  I loved every minute of every episode.  I’m so sad that it’s over.  When the original “class” of Jason Street & Tim Riggins graduated 2 years ago, I thought that was the end of me liking the show.

And honestly, when Vince Howard started as quarterback I was very skeptical.  But in the end, I enjoyed these last 2 years of the show even more….probably because more of the focus was on Coach Eric & Tami Taylor.  I’m so happy that Kyle Chandler & Connie Britton are Emmy nominees this year.  Well, okay I’m a bigger Timothy Olyphant fan that Kyle Chandler, but that’s okay.  :)

Okay, I lied about the spoilers.  Stop reading if you haven’t watched it!!!

 

One part I wasn’t thrilled with:  Tim & Tyra getting back together…or alluding that they would.  Why didn’t Tyra go see Landry instead?  I always wanted those two to work it out.

And finally, I absolutely loved how they ended the state championship game with the 63 yard pass and then when the ball is mid-air it suddenly cuts to 8 months later.  BEAUTIFUL!!!  (That’s when my bawling started!)

If you never watched Friday Night Lights, I highly recommend that you rent the past seasons.  You won’t regret it.

Texas forever!

Back In Town
Jul 14, 2011

Hey hey!  I made it back to Wichita, KS today.  Dang, it’s hot!!  I had a fun 8 days in Charlotte, NC staying with Sarah and catching up with lots of friends.

I hope to get back to a quasi-regular blog schedule again very soon!!!!

For now, I’ll leave you with this:

After getting home today, I stopped by my aunt & uncle’s.  They are moving to Austin, TX (those lucky ducks!!) this weekend.  My aunt asked if I wanted any food from the fridge and freezer.  Ummmm YES!!!!!  My fridge was bare from being out of town for over a week.  I scored a ton of frozen veggies and fresh fruit and veggies.  I got some MASSIVE zucchini.  I’m especially excited about the dried cranberries and pecans.  Hello salad fixins!  Thanks again so much Ann!!!

And finally, this:

I’m happy to be reunited with my puppers, Haley.  She’s probably sad to be away from my parents.  She loves being able to suntan in their yard and get cheese treats from my Mom.  But hopefully I can win her back over with tummy rubs over the next few days.  :)