Archive for Food & Drink

#31: Mojito, Mojito, Mojito. Need Your Recipes

I could google Mojito recipes and probably come up with a bazillion results (Actually, I just checked – it says “about 111,000 results). That doesn’t get me ANYWHERE.

It IS mojito season. Please tell me your treasured do-it-yourself mojito-makin’ recipe.

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Three Birds In One Day

Or something like that.

Last year, my husband started a pretty cool tradition of treating me to a day at the spa at the end of his crazy busy season. He didn’t realize at the time he was starting a tradition, though – but the end result of me being so temporarily giddy, relaxed and laid back ball of mush kicked him into gear to repeat this year. AWESOME.

Yesterday was the day. I left the kiddos with him and ventured to the spa for my day of getting princessed. On my agenda? Facial, manicure, pedicure, hair and makeup. (Note: I hate massages so this agenda is perfect for me).

I started with the facial. It was amazing. Last year when I went, they shocked the hell out of me because they tell you to undress and get under this heavy warm blanket on a table and I was thinking, “WTF? I am going to HATE this!” because it was quite obvious from the necessary-nekkidness that there was a massage component to it. I was SO wrong. I loved it. You’ve got the handy-dandy heated blanket yanked up to your armpits and it’s not an overly massagey-massage. (Seriously, I know that makes no sense). Anyway – heaven for the face. Yesterday was no different except the facialist told me that I’m very dehydrated. Apparently, I don’t use enough moisturizer.

MOVING ON.

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Margarita pedicure (my spring pedicure towards #25 on my list) was awesome. I admit, I’m the anti-social chick sitting in the chair soaking and not talking to the person working their magic on my feet. Rude, right? They have this awesome margarita soak, and scrub which included salt and squeezing actual limes on my feet. My toes are now a very attractive Miami Beet. Love.

I got the same color on my fingers when I moved on to my manicure. Only problem? I took off my rings for the parrafin wax dip, and after all the massage and rubbing of my hands my fingers were too swollen to get my rings back on. Uh oh. I stuck them on my pinky and as I was walking to get my hairstyled by a bald guy wearing sequins, my rings went flying off my finger and under a seat in the waiting area. Then I smudged my effing thumb nail.

Off to get my hair blown out. First a shampoo and I thought he was going to squeeze my brains out. It was as though his hands were saying, “I may be wearing sequins, but I’m still a man.” Or… maybe he just really likes to squeeze the hell out of people’s noggins. I don’t know. Either way, dude worked some SERIOUS round brush magic making my hair all smooth and shiny. Love.

I wrapped up my day getting my make up done (including a reminder to USE MORE MOISTURIZER, because I’m, y’know, dehydrated).

Met my husband and went for dinner at the restaurant voted “Best Martinis” (#98 on my list). I ordered a mojito. I’m not one to be super picky, but a mojito isn’t really a martini. And you could put it in a martini glass, and it will be really quite lovely, but still? It’s not a martini.

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I’m not saying I didn’t drink it all. Because whatever you want to call it, it was still yummy.

A fabulous day – after dinner and a movie, I was so wiped out even though it wasn’t even 10 p.m. It’s hard work to relax like that. Work I would happily repeat more than once a year.

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#89: Make Bagels From Scratch

I made this fabulous dinner in the crock pot last week. It was called beef carbonnade and it called for dark beer. As a result, I had a LOT of beer left over (it called for one bottle, my husband got some assorted sampler dealy-bob of 24 bottles. Hmmm).  WHATEVER to do with all this beer (No, can’t just drink it – meh).

When I find a recipe I think looks good, I tear it out of a magazine and I put it in a binder (there is no method to my madness yet, which is why recipe organization is one of my 101 Things). I knew I had a bagel recipe and I knew it called for beer.

Love it when  a plan comes together.

So… this morning I made bagels. I’ll share the recipe with y’all, because even though it was time consuming – it really wasn’t that hard.

INGREDIENTS
1 (12 oz) can brown beer, divided
1 cup water
1 pkg dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cooking spray
4 cups water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp water
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp sesame seeds (I made mine without)
1 tsp poppy seeds (I skipped these too)

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Read the recipe in its entirety – because I read the part about needing an egg white, tossed the yolk and then realized I use the yolk later in the recipe. Duh. Also, I mistakenly poured all the beer in the first time around, instead of dividing it – had to dump that all out and start over with another bottle of beer… maybe proving the point that baking before caffeine is not so smart.

1. Heat 1/2 cup beer and 1 cup water over low heat to between 100-110 deg. Combine beer mixture and yeast in large bowl, stirring til yeast dissolves. Let stand five minutes – stir in egg white.

2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 4 1/4 cups flour and salt to beer mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out on a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), add enough of remaining flour, 1 tbsp at a time to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Dough WILL feel sticky.

3. Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 deg), free from drafts 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch dough down, cover and let rest 5 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 10 equal portions. WOrking with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough so it doesn’t dry out), shape each portion into a ball. Make a hole in the center of each with your finger. Using the fingers of both hands, gently pull the dough away from the center to make a 1 1/2 inch hole. Place bagels on cooking sheet lightly coated w/ cooking spray.

5. Lightly coat bagels with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, let rise 10 minutes (They’ll only rise a little bit).

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. Combine remaining beer, 4 cups water and sugar in a dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Gently lower 1 bagel in the mix. Cook 30 seconds, turn with slotted spoon, and cook on the other side for 30 seconds. Transfer bagel to a wire rack also coated with cooking spray. Repeat for all bagels.
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8. Place bagels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Combine 1 tsp water and egg yolk in small bowl – stir with fork until blended. Brush bagel tops with yolk mixture. Here’s where you would sprinkle the tops with seeds if you’re using them. As I said, I didn’t. Some of mine have a cinnamon sugar mixture on top (MOTHER OF THE YEAR!) and some I left plain.
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9. Bake at 400 degrees for 17 minutes or until golden. Let cool (you can skip that cooling part, but if you do, you’ll probably burn your mouth like I did).
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ENJOY!

(And yay! One more thing crossed off my list).

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March 2009 Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated here – mostly because the month of March basically reeked of technical difficulties – those difficulties persist, but I’m at least back at it and connected with the world again. Whew.

I made huge headway on my list of things that make me happy. When I’m done, I’ll post it with the pages over there yonder to your right. You’ll find that there is a common theme but I really tried to not just define my happiness with food and coffee. Mostly.

I read tons in March (amazing how much time there is when you’re offline), and I also got several more awesome post cards in the mail. I know I said I would get a PO Box set up for postcards – but I haven’t done that yet. I will, I will… That’s the thing about having 1001 days. I’m not feeling rushed. I’m sure I’ll hit panic mode in August 2011.

I sent tons of care packages in March (as I did in February – raise your hand if you got bombarded with cookies in the mail!). I also made a totally amazing book of my photos using Shutterfly. They had an awesome free deal going on for a free 8″ x 8″ photo book. I couldn’t resist. With only 20 pages and with my 365 project not yet complete, I chose only a selection of my photos to have printed in the book. I LOVE IT. I will definitely be compiling a complete book when I’ve finished my 365 and I’ll include all of my pictures in sequential order.

There’s more, there’s more, but I am on track getting things done. I did a few other things I’ll address later, in more detail… March was full, for sure.

Here’s to April and functioning technology.

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Paying It Forward, Take One

A few months ago when I pulled up to the window at the Starbucks drive-thru I was told that the gentleman in the car in front of me had paid for my cappuccino. I was surprised, but so touched at the gesture – and then paid for the coffee of the person behind me. It had brightened my entire day to have someone do that for me – that gesture cost him about three bucks, but the unexpected nature of that gesture had me smiling for most of the day.

When I made my 101 List, I decided that I too would pay it forward. In the course of 101 days, I want to pay it forward at least five times. Today, I did it for the first time. It was impulsive, I guess – when I pulled up to the window at Starbucks and was rooting through my wallet, I found an extra twenty dollar bill.

Let me be clear: Finding extra money in my wallet? It almost NEVER happens. I’m not sure why I had it or why I hadn’t spent it (cash has this funny way of jumping out of my wallet into cash registers all over Michigan – I’m not entirely sure how it happens). Impulsively, I gave the twenty to the cashier and asked to pay for the person behind me. I hadn’t really looked closely who was behind me – just knew that there was a pretty long line at the drive thru at quarter to eleven on a Friday morning. I got my change and pulled away and didn’t look back.

The funny thing is having been the recipient of someone’s free coffee, I knew how giddy it made me. I had no idea that doing that for someone else would give me that same feeling.

I’m used to DOING for people all the time – I do laundry, I do dishes, I keep them fed, and all of this is expected of me. It was such an amazing feeling to DO for someone what was not expected. I can’t wait to do it again. And I will.

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Getting Things Done

You know, I’m sorta philosphically opposed to the phrase “Git R Done” – partly because I don’t know what it means and partly because well, it’s just not my thing (And philosophically opposed? What am I even saying – it’s not a philosophy so much as that I just really HATE IT). HOWEVER, nothing helps get things done more than going away for several days to a blogging conference several states away.

While I was at BlissDom, I:

20. Say Hi/Make Eye Contact with everyone for a day.
I’m not an unfriendly person, just a bit of an introvert at times. No, it’s not always easy for me to come out of my shell and be all “Heeeeey!” BUT, at BlissDom, it was pretty easy to do because everyone was so freakin’ nice. It was easy to sit down at a table full of people you don’t know, swap business cards and be chattering away within minutes. Were there any bad apples? Probably, but I didn’t meet ’em. I did this for more than a day. It was just too easy. I even ended up sitting with a woman in the hotel bar for awhile Saturday night (If you’re reading: HI! Hope you made it back to Boston smoothly!). It was definitely easier than I thought – and a reminder that maybe I should not be such a little hermit sometimes.

25. Pedi each season
No, I was not going with ugly toes. I had cute little open toed shoes to wear. Pedicure, check.

26. Yearly Girl’s Retreat
I think this may be it, because I’m definitely planning on going again next year.

56. Try a new cocktail
See that down there? That’s a Bliss-tini. No, I have no idea what the hell is in it but it tasted like KoolAid.

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While I totally intended to attempt to eat McDonalds on this trip, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it quite yet. HOWEVER, I did go inside McDonalds twice (this is a huge deal – the smell of their french fries makes me twitchy) and inside a Hardee’s once so my BFF could get a milkshake. By the way, in case you didn’t know – Hardee’s smells worse than McDonalds.

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#71: Dessert First

Every year around this time, I get pummeled by some horrible awful yucky strain of something, most likely passed on to me by one of my children. Last year it was the freak-of-nature sinus infection that left me immobile on the couch, unable to eat for a week, crying and moping and in general feeling like death warmed over. For a week. Until the magical antibiotics kicked in and I could breathe again and stopped feeling so pukey and stopped feeling like someone was poking my sinus cavities with a rusty butter knife.

And, hey, guess what? I’m sick again.

Now, it’s not that bad yet. I’m still up and around and doing the normal things I do – but I can’t breathe through my nose and my throat feels like I swallowed something prickly. My muscles ache and I feel chilled, and my god, I am going through SO MUCH KLEENEX.

When I feel this way, I just have very little patience for the little things. I am not a person overflowing with an abundance of patience anyway, so right now? I’m even less pleasant than I might otherwise be. I am in no mood to slave in the kitchen to prepare a dinner that no one is going to like, and will probably complain about. Who wants that? Yesterday, with my throat in agonizing pain, I spent a good portion of my day fantasizing about ice cream. On my way home from running errands, I hit the local grocery stores and found that cartons of Edy’s were buy one get one. Fate, I tell you. I selected a mint chip and a cookie dough and then my grand plan hatched: DESSERT FIRST.

I swung through the baking aisle and picked up the rest of my ingredients and came home and mixed up a batch of brownies. When both girls came home I told them I had a surprise for them, and when I told them, the look on their faces? PURE EXCITEMENT.

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We ate our brownie sundaes and then I served a low key dinner (who had room for real dinner after starting with brownie sundaes? Not us! We all had soup). The kids were happy, and well, I was happy too.

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