Wednesday, December 2, 2009

chocolate sandwich cookies

From the martha stewart show:

Chocolate sandwich cookies
6 T butter
3/4 c pow sug
3/4 c flour
Cocoa (how much)
1/8 t salt
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla

Shape into rectangle
Roll out w/ rubber bands on rolling pin
Cut out w/ rectangle cutter
Bake 325 for 12-14min

6 T unsalted butter
2 c pow sug
1 drop food coloring
2 drops peppermint

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Franks Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip

from the Franks Red Hot web site.


8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup any flavor FRANK'S® REDHOT® Sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cans (9.75 oz. each) SWANSON® White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained


1.HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
2.MIX in salad dressing, Frank's RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.
3.BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or vegetables.

1.Microwave Directions: Prepare as above. Place in microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 5 min. until hot, stirring halfway through cooking.
2.Tips: You may substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.
3.Slow Cooker Method: Combine ingredients as directed above. Place mixture into small slow cooker. Cover pot. Heat on HIGH setting for 1 1/2 hours until hot and bubbly or on LOW setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir.
4.Tailgating Tip: Prepare dip ahead and place in heavy disposable foil pan. Place pan on grill and heat dip until hot and bubbly.

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

Clipped from a Pillsbury ad:

1 box (19.5 oz) brownie mix
1/4 c butter
4 oz cream cheese (1/2 package)
1 egg
1 c powdered sugar
1 c peanut butter

heat oven to 350

combine brownie mix, melted butter, cream cheese, and egg, whisk 50 strokes w/ spoon until well-blended (will be sticky)

drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2" apart, make about 24 cookies. smooth out edges of batter.

in another bowl, mix powdered sugar and peanut butter. with hands, roll spoonfuls of peanut butter mixture into balls and place one ball in the center of each ball of dough.

bake 10-14 min or until edges are set. cool on cookie sheets at least 30 min if being frosted.

if desired, frost with ready-to-spread frosting

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 T baking cocoa
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c milk
2 T oil
1 t vanilla

mix separately:
1 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c baking cocoa
1 3/4 c HOT water

mix ingredients 1-5 in a 9x9 pan
add ingredients 6-8 and mix, then spread out

sprinkle 9 and 10 over batter, pour water over batter

Bake 40 min at 350 until top is dry

Friday, November 6, 2009

Some sort of chocolate loaf

I was looking for recipes for some bread/cake stuff that we had when we were in Greece. It was a really mild chocolate flavor and was really dense and moist. I would eat a few pieces at breakfast, then swipe a few more pieces to take with me for the day. I have looked all over for a recipe, so if this sounds like anything you've ever had before, let me know! I THINK this might be one of my attempts at making it. Not sure. Again, I didn't label it, so I'll have to make it and see how it turns out!

Sift together:
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t soda
1/2 c cocoa
1 c sugar
1/2 t salt

in a small bowl, combine:
1 egg
1/3 c butter
1 1/4 c sour milk (add 1 T vinegar to room temp milk, let sit 5 min)
combine until just blended
put in sprayed 9x5 loaf pan, bake 1 hour @ 350

California Rangers

This recipe comes from my great grandma, Jessie Van Curen. It's like a sweet, crunchy oatmeal cookie (thanks to the coconut and corn flakes, respectively). Sometimes I toss in a few chocolate chips.

1 c shortening (I use butter)
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 T milk
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 t vanilla
3/4 t soda
2 c fllour
1/2 t salt
2 c oats
2 c corn flakes
1 c coconut or nuts (or both, but I only use coconut)

The dough will be really hard to mix!

bake @ 350 until golden brown (10 min)

Wheat Bread

I didn't label this recipe when I wrote it down. I think it's for wheat bread. Guess I'll just have to make it and see what it turns out to be!

1 1/2 t yeast (1 envelope)
vegetable oil (I'd probably use olive oil)
2 T honey
1 t salt
2 c warm water
4 c wheat flour
3 c flour
egg white

mix yeast, honey, salt, and water

combine flours in another bowl, stir 2 c flour into liquid, mix, add 3 more cups flour, knead in as much more flour as necessary for soft dough, knead 8-10 min.

let rise 1 1/2 h, punch down, knead out bubbles, divide into 4 pieces.

let rise 45 min, bake @ 350 40-50 min with a pan of water on the lower shelf

Whole wheat choc chip cookies

Stolen from my friend Gina's blog!

1 1/4 c raw sugar
1 c butter (soft)
1 t vanilla
1 egg
2 c wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
12 oz choc chips

Bake @ 375 for 8-10 min

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breakfast Crepes

Found this recipe in a leaflet for Egg Beaters.

1 c flour
1 T butter
1 c skim milk
2/3 c egg beaters

combine flour, milk, egg, and butter, let stand 30 min

heat lightly greased 8 inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over med-high heat. pour scant 1/4 cup batter, tilting pan to cover bottom. cook 1-2 min, turn & cook 30 sec to 1 min. place on waxed paper. stir batter & repeat to make 10 crepes. fill w/ desired fillings or use in recipes calling for prepared crepes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread

2 c whole wheat flour
5-5/2 c all purpose flour, divided
1 c quick oats
2pk (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast
1 t salt
1 c warm water (120-130 degrees)
1 c warm sour milk* (120-130 degrees)
*to sour milk, place 1 T vinegar in a measuring cup, add milk to equal 1 c.
1/2 c honey
1/3 c butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 egg white
1 T water
1/4 c quick oats

In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, 2 c all purpose flour, oats, yeast, salt. Stir in water, milk, honey, and butter, beat until smooth. Beat in eggs. Add enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 min. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, shape into 2 loaves. Place in greased 9x5x3" loaf pan, cover & let rise until doubled, about 45 min, beat egg white & water, brush over loaves. Sprinkle w/ oats. Bake @ 375 for 40-45 min or until golden. Remove from pans & cool on wire racks.

Wagon Wheel cookies

From a coupon insert for Enova oil in the Sunday paper, then found online. I use cocoa powder instead of choc. squares.

Chocolate Wagon Wheel Cookies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (not chips), melted and cooled
2 ½ cups flour, sifted
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup Enova brand oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten or 1 cup liquid egg substitute
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

With a double boiler, melt the chocolate and cool to room temperature. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.

Mix together the Enova oil, chocolate and sugar; mix well to fully incorporate ingredients. One at a time, blend in eggs or egg substitute to the chocolate, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and then stir the dry ingredients into the chocolate.

Cover and place mixture in refrigerator to chill for several hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Portion dough into pieces and shape into 1-½ inch balls. Roll each dough ball in powdered sugar and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 40 servings (serving size: 1 cookie)

CALORIES 120; FAT 5 g (sat 1 g; mono 1.5 g; poly 1.5 g); PROTEIN 1 g; CHOLESTEROL 20 mg; SODIUM 60 mg; FIBER <1>

Peanut Blossom Cookies

From a newspaper that cites as the source. Since I have a baby at home, I'm just copying and pasting from the site:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 LAND O LAKES® All-Natural Egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375°F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes.) Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.

Ingredient Substitution Index

Nutrition Facts (1 cookie): Calories: 100, Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 70mg, Carbohydrates: 12g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Protein: 2g

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Handbag giveaway at "EverythingUpClose"

I've found something I can do while I feed Gabe...I can enter contests. Sure, it takes me forever b/c I'm typing w/ one hand, but it keeps me occupied, which is just what I need.

Yesterday I found a giveaway for a gorgeous handbag on a blog called Everything Up Close. The blog is full of cool information, product reviews, and giveaways...I look forward to reading it regularly! And, of course, I would love to win the handbag she's giving away! Check it out here:

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Not much time right now, so I'll get to the point.

Gabriel Christopher
6lb 8oz

Monday, August 31, 2009

A little blurb I read about overcoming negativity

As I probably mentioned before, I have lots of little things written on paper that just clutter up our house, so I'd like to put these things (quotes, stories, information, etc...) online, note the source so it doesn't look like I'm trying to steal the writing as my own, and then I'm going to toss the paper. Actually, I'm going to use the other side of the paper for grocery lists or phone messages or whatever, then I'm going to recycle it, but you already knew that.

So this story is called "Negative? Who? Me?" and it's from Doreen Hatfield, CEAP, director of EAP, from Family Services of the Chautauqua Region.

"One cross word, gloomy mood, or sarcastic remark can escalate to a hostile, conflict-ridden work environment. Morale decreased and productivity suffers. Communication comes to a halt and employees stop working well together. The ramifications are far-reaching and too harmful to ignore.

"So what do you do when you recognize pessimistic attitudes spiraling through your workplace?

"PROTECT YOURSELF! It's always good practice to take some self-inventory. Ask yourself, "Am I a 'carrier'?", "How do I respond when negative people try to bring me down?", "Do I have the courage and conviction to confront a negative employee?", "What do I do?".

"We often speak of early intervention when dealing with children's problems. It is just as important to fight off negativity in the workplace by addressing it early on."

The rest of the paper just goes on to inform readers about what they should do if they want to attend a workshop on overcoming negativity. But I thought what they wrote about above was pretty brilliant. It's just a little reminder of a few things: 1) Are you making the work environment hostile? (I know a few people who should take that message to heart!), 2) Is someone else making the work environment hostile?, and 3) If someone you work with is making the work environment hostile, are you letting it drag you down? If so, maybe it's time to check your attitude. (I know it's time to check my attitude because I know I let the negativity around me get me down.)

(Side note: my computer is saying that the word "children's" is spelled wrong, but it is, in fact, correct. Children is the plural form of child, the "apostrophe S" denotes possession, so there is nothing grammatically wrong with that word!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Those purple boxes hanging in trees

A couple years ago while driving in Pennsylvania (around the Erie area, I think we were on our way to Ohio) we started noticing some weird purple plastic three-dimensional triangle-shaped boxes hanging in trees. We had no idea what they were, but we steadily started seeing more and more of them. This spring I noticed that one had been put up on my way to work, and I think there are some along the thruway headed toward Buffalo, but I still didn't know what they were. I figured they were some type of environmental project and asked a few of my sciencey friends if they knew what the boxes were...but they didn't.

So in the conservation building at the fair this year I saw a little leaflet that described what they are! So now I know! And because I want to put this paper in the recycling bin so it's not cluttering up our house, but I don't want to lose the info, I'm posting it on my blog. I'd like to find a picture of one of the boxes but I'll probably just have to stop and take one myself. Here are the facts listed on the card:

Q: What's purple, sticky, and hangs in an ash tree?
A: It's a detection tool that's being used in your state and 46 other states across the country to survey for the emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle. For convenience, we call these detection tools "purple traps."

Q: Who is conducting the EAB survey?
A: The US Dept of Agriculture's Animal & Planet Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and State Depts of Agriculture or Natural Resources are cooperating partners in the survey effort.

Q: How do the purple traps work?
A: During EAB adult flight season, beetles fly around ash trees, nibbling on leaves & looking for a mate. If an EAB lands on the purple trap it will get stuck in the glue.

Q: Is the purple trap safe?
A: The purple traps pose no risk to humans, pets, or wildlife, however the non-toxic glue can be extremely sticky & messy if touched.

So now we know that the purple boxes are traps for the Emerald Ash Borer Beetles. I know they're "only bugs," but it seems a little inhumane to trap the bugs (and other flying creatures, like bats and birds?) in that manner.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunset at Lake Erie

We've seen sunsets all over the world, but still some of the prettiest ones I've seen have been right in Dunkirk. I took these today...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Agave Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Instead of copying the entire recipe to my blog, I thought I'd post the link to the recipe I found, thus giving credit to the creator.

On second thought, maybe I should copy and paste the recipe anyway just in case the link ever stops working. This one looks so good and I don't want to lose it!

Small Batch Agave Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (2 25 oz)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg or egg substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
6 tablespoons agave nectar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons quick cooking oats, divided**
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 muffin tins with flour-added cooking spray or line them with paper liners.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using a fork, lightly beat the oil and egg together in a medium bowl. Beat in the vanilla, ricotta cheese and agave nectar. Mix in the oats, then slowly add the flour mixture. When flour mixture is almost but not quite mixed in, add the chocolate chips and stir until flour disappears.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Cool on a rack and remove from pan.

**If you don’t have quick oats, you can pulse old fashioned oats in the blender and sue those instead. Also, if you are short on agave or don’t want to use it sparingly, you could try using 3 tablespoons agave & 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. It would change the flavor of the muffins, but I think it would still be good.

***I had to use whole fat ricotta, but next time I’d use low fat or part skim.

Chris' roller coaster obsession

A while back Chris and I were in the car and I started asking him if we could list all of the roller coasters he's been on. I wrote up a list but I want to get rid of it so that it's one less paper sitting on our counter (horizontal surfaces and I do not get along--they get cluttered fast!) and I don't want to lose it because I have plans for the list, so I'm going to type it up in my blog...

New York
Darien Lake
Mind Eraser

Coney Island

Great Escape
Steamin' Demon (was Ragin' Cajun)
Comet (was at Crystal Beach)

Black Widow

New Jersey
Great Adventure
El Toro
Kingda Ka
Dark Knight
Great American Scream Machine
Rolling Thunder
Runaway Mine Train
Skull Mountain

Busch Gardens

Loch Ness Monster
Big Bad Wolf
Apollo's Chariot

Sea World

Busch Gardens

Rockin Roller Coaster
Space Mountain
Big Thunder Mountain

Islands of Adventure
Dueling Dragons

Cedar Point
Top Thrill Dragster
Millennium Force
Mean Streak
Iron Dragon
Blue Streak
Wicked Twister
Disaster Transport

Geagua Lake
Big Dipper
Dark Knight
Double Loop

King's Island
King Cobra
Top Gun
Son of Beast
Italian Job
Outer Limits

Kentucky Kingdom
Rolling Thunder

Las Vegas

San Diego Boardwalk
Giant Dipper

California Adventure
California Screamin'

Magic Mountain
Riddler's Revenge

Alton Towers

I think the grand total is 83 coasters.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(Scallops) in Thai Sauce (Use tofu instead)

A friend of mine at work found a recipe in the Taste of Home magazine that she thought I'd like. She said that it could probably be done with tofu instead of the seafood it calls for. I haven't made it yet, but I thought I'd post it in case I decide to at some point. Deb noted that she found the Thai Chili Sauce in the international section at Wegman's (Asian section).

1T cornstarch
1 can (14.5oz) vegetable broth
2T creamy peanut butter
1 to 2T Thai chili sauce
1 lb cubed tofu (instead of sea scallops)
2 T vegetable oil, divided
1 small onion, sliced
1 large sweet red pepper, julienned
1/2 cup salted cashews
2 t minced garlic
1 can (8 3/4 oz) whole baby corn, drained

(hot cooked angel hair pasta, optional)

*In small bowl, combine cornstarch, broth, peanut butter, and chili sauce until smooth, set aside.
*In large skillet, saute tofu in 1 T oil for a few minutes on each side, remove from pan w/ a slotted spoon and keep warm. In the same pan, saute the onion, pepper, cashews, and garlic in remaining oil for 3-5 minutes or until veggies are crisp/tender.
*Stir peanut butter mixture and add to pan. Bring to boil, cook and stir for another 1-2 min or until thickened. Add tofu and corn, heat through, serve over pasta if desired.

Makes 5 servings

Monday, July 13, 2009

Remodeling our bathroom

We just remodeled our bathroom and I thought I'd post some pictures for everyone to enjoy. We have lots of pictures from the entire process, but it was so extensive that seeing the bathroom all torn up in those shots just stresses me out, so I'm posting pictures of the mostly-done bathroom in the process of being painted.

Here's the wall above the tub, primed and ready for paint...

And the wall next to the shower/above the toilet, also primed and ready for paint...
Our first glimpse of the blue paint we picked out, other than the little paint chip we used to choose the color. We thought the bluish-grey would bring out the blue/grey in the tiles we chose and would contrast nicely with the brown...
The first swipe of blue paint being applied to the wall above the tub...
Chris continuing to make his way around the bathroom, finished with the tub area and now painting over the window, working toward the shower...
The wall above the tub with the first coat of paint...
A little better view of the newly painted wall above the tub...
And finally, the first coat of blue above the shower...
I did some of the painting, too! We did the second coat this morning and we're waiting for that to dry. We have one wall that needs a lot of prep work before it's painted, and once that's done we'll get the paint on that. I'm anxious to get the tape off and see how it looks. We also need to work on the ceiling a bit, and we need to get some cabinets put up. We're getting there....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Firemen's" Barbecue Sauce

I don't like traditional red barbecue sauce, but I love the white barbecue sauce on tofu (because I don't eat meat). We have always called it Firemen's Barbecue Sauce because every year the fire department in my home town of Cuba, NY has a chicken barbecue and they use the white sauce. So no matter whether the sauce comes from the bottle or is homemade, it's Firemen's Barbecue Sauce to us!

I don't know what the exact recipe is, but the main ingredients and approximate measurements are:
1 c. olive oil
2 c. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. pepper
1 egg

It works best to make it in a blender--put the egg in the blender and blend for a second, then add the oil and blend it good. Slowly add the other ingredients and mix it up. It will separate when it sits, so you'll need to shake it before you use it. Put it on whatever you normally put barbecue sauce on. I like to put tofu in a pie pan and dump some of the sauce on it, then put it on the grill. Delicious!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another contest I entered

One of my favorite blogs right now is BabyMakin(g)Machine, and she has a great contest going to celebrate her 6 month blogoversary!

Even if you don't win the contest, the blog is worth checking out! Even though I've never met blog author FutureMama, I feel like we've become friends through her blog. She's adorable!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

(Raisin) Scones

Wow, as I've started collecting recipes that sound good to me, I realize that I have really unhealthy tastes! Or maybe it's just that I tend to see more recipes for baked goods than I do for healthy meals.

I also sometimes automatically substitute ingredients--in this case I'd replace the raisins with chocolate chips or take them out completely, which is why I put Raisin in parentheses. I got this from the Parade magazine that came in the Sunday paper.

(Raisin) Scones
Instead of spending money at a bakery each morning, make breakfast scones at home. These light treats are ready in 30 minutes flat and freeze well.

1 lg egg
1/2 c milk
2 c. all purpose flour
2 1/2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
6 T. cold butter, cut into bits
(3/4 c. raisins)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Whisk egg & milk together in one bowl and the flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt in another.

2. Drop the butter into the flour and, using your fingers, cut and rub until the mixture is pebbly. Pour in the milk and egg. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moist. (Add the raisins and give the very sticky dough a few more stirs.)

3. Spoon a dozen mounds of dough onto a foil-lined baking sheet & bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown. Cool for a few min. Serve warm w/ butter or jam, or a little of each.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I think I've been stabbed in the back!

I was talking to a friend of mine today, and he said that he saw an acquaintance of mine. I say acquaintance because we know each other and might possibly be friends, but there always seemed to be some tension between us and I don't know what it is; we just never really "clicked." So anyway, I was talking to my friend and he said that this person said some stuff about me...stuff that only a few people know. It's not that I have any deep, dark secrets. I just happened to share some of my deepest fears at a really rough time in my life with very few friends, and I have a feeling that one of the people I talked to told this other person. Let me see if I can explain this better...

I was going through a rough time as so many of us do. I leaned on a couple friends. Like, TWO friends. And I told them pretty much everything. One of those people, we'll call her "Person A" is friends with my acquaintance, "Person B." Person A knows that I don't particularly like Person B. So when my other friend, "Person Z" told me that Person B knew all kinds of stuff about my emotional turmoil of a few years ago, the only one I could really think of who would have shared such information would have been Person A.

I'm very confused right now because, first of all, this information was probably shared years ago, and that situation has long since passed. I'm over it and am now very happy. I don't know what good it would do to confront her about it. At the same time, though, I want her to know that I'm not pleased that she shared this information. And then there's a tiny part of me that wonders if I'm barking up the wrong tree. Maybe she didn't say anything!

Ugh, I'm so angry and hurt right now!!! But the good thing is that Chris will be home in a few hours and I can't wait to hug and kiss him and make up for the four days we've been apart!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Melt-in-your-mouth Strawberry Muffins

I got this recipe from a Stonyfield Farms yogurt lid, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm considering replacing the strawberries with chocolate chips (I know I'm terrible!) because I tend to like to keep my fruit and my baked goods separate.

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 eggs
1 c. Stonyfield Farm yogurt
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
1 c chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and baking soda. In another bowl, mix eggs, yogurt, butter, and vanilla. Toss strawberries into the flour mixture, then pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and stir. Spoon batter into greased muffin tin, bake for 20-25 min, or until the tops are golden brown. Yield: 12 muffins.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Contest to win a beautiful bracelet! (I REALLY like this!)

I found the most adorable giveaway on the Contest Corner blog! We went to England last year and I loved it so much, so I really hope to win the bracelet! Here's a direct link to the contest so you can check out the bracelet:

And here's the link to the etsy shop so you can see all of the wonderful things that Bebe and Yaya have to offer:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Closed again

We got word this afternoon that my school is closed again on Monday because of swine flu. Here are the latest articles:

While I love the idea of another day off, it's also incredibly frustrating because this is such a busy time at work that I really need to be there, and also, this creates a conflict with two big events, which will now have to be scheduled for the same day! ARGH!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our bathroom remodeling project

We've decided to remodel our bathroom. Our tub is a little on the nasty side. It looks like the tub wasn't installed properly, and the caulk is all flaky and hard to clean. We figure we're going to have a kid who I imagine is going to need a bath occasionally, so that was kind of the impetus for us to seriously think about getting this project in gear.

Today we went to a place in Orchard Park called L.A. Hazard because we heard that they had a beautiful showroom, and people are right, that place was amazing. It wasn't terribly large, but it was beautifully organized and the ladies there were so nice! They showed us a lot of things, gave us opinions, etc... We really had a nice time, and now we have some decisions to make. Tonight I think we're going to sit down and work on throwing around some ideas and seeing what we can put together.

As you can imagine, I want this project to be as green as possible, however, it looks like I may have to forfeit some "green-ness" for two reasons--first, it's hard to tell what's really the greenest option considering all of the extra supplies you need for something like granite or tile, and secondly, the seemingly greener options are so much more expensive that we just can't afford them. We did find what appears to be some pretty nice, long-lasting flooring, but it's essentially plastic, which doesn't exactly thrill me.

We also decided we might do the project in phases so we're not shelling out a load of money all at one time, and it will give us some extra time to pick out some details that we really like for the second phase. The first phase will be to get the separate shower installed, then to get the new tub installed. The vanity, sink, and faucet will be the next phase.

My "day off"

Yesterday I didn't go to work, and it felt really weird. Normally if I stay home on what would usually be a workday, there would be three feet of snow in the driveway and it would be a snowday. But yesterday was a swine flu day.

I figured I'd use the day to tackle some of the work-related tasks I have waiting for me, but instead I talked on the phone with other schools, the health department, etc... So many precautions have to be taken when a kid is diagnosed with what is proving to be quite a deadly disease!

A lot of people are saying that it's being blown out of proportion, and to a great extent I agree, but I DO NOT think that our superintendent overreacted by closing school today, and there are many reasons why I believe this. First of all, a lot of thought and discussion went into making this decision. Our superintendent was on the phone and in meetings ALL DAY trying to determine what would be the best course of action, and you know what...he had to do WHAT WAS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE KIDS, those little people (and not so little people, since this is a junior/senior high school) who we are paid to protect. Yes, it's our job to educate and guide them, but I think that even more important than the educating and guiding is keeping them safe. So yes, maybe this was a drastic measure, but if they hadn't closed school and kids started getting sick, then people would have been even more angry, and understandably so.

I've noticed that this topic is making people fight. People are arguing about whether people are overreacting or whether it's worth it to try to make sure we protect ourselves. My feeling is that the more we talk about it, the more we're perpetuating the hysteria. If you're not worried about it, why not keep your mouth shut until you're asked? The only reason I'm taking the time to write about it is that I was directly affected by this situation.

Be safe, everyone. Wash your hands, don't touch your face, and do everything else you'd normally do. (Universal precautions!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Long walk with Xander

Chris and I walked Xander this morning, and we found a fenced in area at the school where we decided to let him off his leash so he could run. He did a lot of sniffing (that's the hound in him!), but then he also ran for a few short bursts. It was really funny to watch him go tearing across the lawn. Now he's completely knackered and is resting on the wood floor where I imagine it's nice and cool. Hopefully this will help keep with his behavior problems a little bit.

I don't think I mentioned that the other day we finally put him on anti-anxiety medication. Chris got home on Monday and found that he had gotten into the garbage and spread it throughout the house. (My fault for not tying the garbage bin shut.) If the meds don't work, I really don't know what we'll do with him. I'm *this close* to finding a new home for him, and I NEVER thought I'd say that about any animal.

I have to admit, the walk felt pretty good for me, too! The weather is gorgeous and I need to keep exercising. I'm starting to get fat... ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Giveaway!

In honor of Earth Day, check out the My Sentiments ExactLee blog and enter her giveaway!

Simplest Loaf Cake

I got this recipe out of the Parade magazine that comes in the Sunday paper. I haven't tried it, but I'd like to, so I'm going to post it here and then throw away the paper copy (since it will get lost in my "drawer-'o-recipes" anyway! (And of course I'll substitute some of the ingredients with healthier choices).

Serve this easy cake plain, with ice cream and berries, or toast it and spread it with jam.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 flavorless oil, such as canola

1) Preheat oven to 350 and generously butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan (6 cup capacity). In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Whisk the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla together until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Finally, pour in the oil and use the whisk to gently but thoroughly fold it into the batter.

3) Put the batter in the loaf pan and bake 50-55 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 min, then unmold and cool to room temp right side up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Back when I was in high school, I used to make Cinnamon Rolls from scratch on Christmas morning. I had an extra packet of yeast from when I made King Cake for Mardi Gras, so I decided to mix up a batch of Cinnamon Rolls for Chris.

I made the dough, rolled it up, sliced it into individual rolls, then froze the dough. Last night I took a few out and put them in a baking dish in the oven (oven wasn't on, but I wanted to put them in an enclosed space) to thaw and rise. This morning we had a pan full of puffy rolls, which I then put in the toaster oven to bake. They turned out well...probably could have used a bit more cinnamon and sugar, but I think next time I'll just try to roll the dough out thinner and that way I should be able to fit more "stuffing" in them.

I got this recipe from, and it was very good!,174,150187-253196,00.html

4 1/4 to 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Step 1: In a large mixer bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour and yeast. Heat the milk, granulated sugar, the 1/4 cup butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees) and the butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.

Step 2: Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (Dough will be soft.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball.

Step 3: Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). (The dough is ready for shaping when you can lightly and quickly press two fingers 1/2 inch into dough and indentation remains.)

Step 4: Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half; shape each half into a smooth ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

Step 5: On lightly floured surface roll half the dough to 12x8 inches. Spread with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over rectangle. Roll up from a short side. Seal edges. Make a second roll with remaining dough, butter and sugar mixture.

Step 6: Slice each dough roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices, cut side down, in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Cover; let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Step 7: Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Invert at once onto a wire rack. Cool slightly. Drizzle rolls with Maple Nut Glaze or Powdered Sugar Glaze. Serve warm.

Makes 16 rolls.

Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) for drizzling consistency.
Bake and cool rolls as directed, do not glaze. Wrap in moisture and vapor proof wrap. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat in a conventional oven, wrap frozen rolls in foil. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until warm. Drizzle with your choice of glaze.

To reheat in a microwave oven, wrap 2 of the frozen rolls in microwave-safe paper towels. Micro-cook on 100% power (high) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until warm. Drizzle with glaze.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Top Fives"

The new trend on Facebook is to pick your "Top Five" in a variety of categories. For a lot of them, it's hard to pick just 5, and for some of them, it's hard to say which ones I'd rank as my favorites.

I did one on Broadway shows, and I picked:
Avenue Q
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

But I forgot about Les Miserables and some other really great shows.

Then I was invited to do one on five concerts I've seen, so I decided to pick the five BEST shows I've seen, but even that is hard! I picked:
Collective Soul
Nickel Creek
Goo Goo Dolls
Toby Keith

But left out Sara Bareilles, Blue Man Group, Maroon 5, etc...

The hardest for me, though, is movies. I haven't done that yet, and will have to work on building my list. I'm going to use my blog to tweak my list before I post it:
Love Actually (no brainer--best movie ever made)
10 Things I Hate About You
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Austin Powers International Man of Mystery

More that I like but a little more on the serious side:
Save the Last Dance
Ever After

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tzatziki Sauce

I actually went looking for this recipe for Tzatziki on the Stonyfield Farms web site. Stonyfield Farms makes ORGANIC yogurt and it's the only kind of yogurt I buy.

If I may get up on my soapbox for a moment--Yes, organic products, including yogurt, are more expensive than non-organic products, but if we continue to spend a little more money for a better-quality product, the prices WILL come down! So think about it, and consider choosing organic next time you make a food purchase. Even if it's ONE ITEM, it still adds up. We're all in this together!

Tzatziki Sauce

A classic, creamy dip often served with traditional Greek dishes.
Try it with cut vegetables and pita wedges.


1 cup Plain Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
2 cucumbers
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. white vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Peel, seed, and coarsely grate cucumbers. Drain and combine with garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend in the yogurt. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then serve.

From our Oikos Organic kitchen.

Noodles and Spinach with Tofu

I got this recipe from the newspaper (written by Dawn Lewandowski) a long time ago and still haven't made it.

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
1 lb frozen or fresh steamed spinach
1 to 1 1/2 lb firm tofu, in 3/4 inch cubes
2 to 4 T sesame oil
2 to 4 T tamari or soy sauce
2 to 4 t minced garlic
2 T peanut butter
2 T tahini (ground sesame)
2 t sesame seeds

For the sauce:
Pour a Tablespoon or two of sesame oil into a large frying pan or work over medium heat. Add a Tablespoon or two of tamari, a teaspoon or two of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon tahini. Stir until mixed to a thick consistency, about 30 sec.

Immediately add tofu and stir to coat. Stir intermittently, allowing tofu to brown before stirring. When tofu is browned sufficiently, remove tofu from pan and set aside, covering to keep warm.

Repeat the sauce process above, being perhaps a bit more liberal with oil and tamari. Add cooked spaghetti and mix through. Add spinach and mix again. Heat and taste test for flavor. Add tofu when spaghetti is hot. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. Toss and serve.

(You may use peanut butter rather than sesame oil, omit tahini, add more peanut butter and peanuts, or use only the sesame products. Works well with broccoli and other vegetables as well.)

I think this is a good place to post recipes

I have tons of recipes that are clipped from newspapers, written on index cards, or printed from web sites. I keep them all in the same place, so I know where they are, but since they're on paper of all different shapes and sizes, I always have to sift through them to find what I want.

I also have some recipes that I'd like to try, but not right away, so I have newspaper clippings with recipes I've never tried before just sitting around, always in my way.

So I decided to take a page from my friend Gina's book and post some recipes online. I don't have enough recipes, nor am I a good enough cook, to devote an entire blog to cooking and recipes, but I thought I'd just tag the posts as "recipe" posts, then I'll always know where to find them when I need them. If you find the recipes helpful, that's cool, too!

Warning--not all of my recipes are healthy, but I usually substitute some of the not-so-healthy ingredients for healthier options.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My stupid shopping trip

Oye, what a day I had yesterday. I had planned on running out to get some groceries, since we did a "lite" shopping trip on Sunday after we got home. There are some good sales at Tops that I want to take advantage of, and since I'm off this week, I thought I'd just do the more extensive shopping Monday or Tuesday. However, I didn't really have my coupons or my list together; (YES, I use coupons, and lots of them!); but I realized that if I didn't get dog food, our pooch wouldn't be able to eat brekkie today.

So I ran to Wal-Mart (icky store, but affordable) to get dog food, spaghetti, and something else (can't remember at the moment, but it doesn't really matter). When I had just about finished shopping, it hit me that I wasn't sure if I had my wallet in my purse. In fact, I didn't know where my wallet was! Having just been on holiday, I had my usual "purse stuff" in different bags and hadn't gotten everything back where it belonged. I did, however, have our checkbook in my purse, something that rarely happens, but it was in there because I had picked up Xander from the kennel.

But then I didn't know if I could write a check without my license. Thank goodness for Jarod, the cashier at the self-checkout lanes. He was incredibly helpful and kind. I think that may be the only time someone at WalMart was helpful, especially someone at the self-checkout lane. (Normally they're too busy daydreaming or talking to their friends to bother doing their jobs!) Anyway, Jarod said that I could use my social security number if I didn't have my license. Cool. Then I took out my checkbook and realized that, despite being married for six years and living in Dunkirk for 6 1/2 years, our checks still bear my maiden name and Olean address. It was all ok, though. I gave him my phone number, too, and it all worked out. I felt pretty darn stupid, though.

When I got home I found my wallet under the passenger seat of the Pilot. It probably fell out of my purse and got kicked under there when we switched drivers.

In closing, I have to say thank goodness for nice people being there when you need them. I was wishing that I had gotten one of those surveys on my receipt, because I would give a glowing review of my experience. Jarod deserves to be commended.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help solve a dispute

Chris and I disagree about what these are called, so I'm taking a poll--what do YOU think these are? This is not a trick question. Please comment!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NYC 4.11.09

We went to New York City today. The past couple of times we've gone to the city, we've stayed in Rockland County because we have friends here, and it's very easy to hop on a train to get there. Parking costs between $25 and $50 in the city, and then there's gas, tolls on the bridges, and the time and aggravation of getting down there. A round trip train ticket costs $12 and once we get to the city, we can take the subway almost anywhere we want to go.

Today the weather was absolutely miserable. It was cold and raining and that put a bit of a damper on my mood. The car show was incredible, though. (I should mention that while I'm a huge tree hugger, I also really love cars. It's tough when two things I love are mutually exclusive, but I will say that if I had to choose one of the two, it would be the environment.)

We saw so many exotic cars and some really neat concept cars. I was happy to see that so many car companies are putting a lot of effort into "greening" their production process and their engines. I still think we have a long way to go, but they're on the right track.

Here's a picture of Chris checking out a BMW motorcycle.

This BMW Z4 did a "painting".
I know I can't have a Mini anymore, but can Blueberry? Here's the wall where the Mini racer was...

...and here's the Mini racer
Bumblebee! (He's in Transformers)
Our lunch from Angelo's Coal Fired Pizza. We go out of our way to eat at this restaurant when we're in the city. Can you blame us? Look at that slice!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Travel Day--4.8.09

We spent the day traveling from Virginia Beach to Nanuet, so I didn't take a ton of pictures, and those I did take, I haven't offloaded yet.

We crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel this morning and headed for NY. Along the way we passed through Maryland (where I found Liz Blizz SoBe--my FAVORITE, which I can't get back home), Delaware, and New Jersey (making 11 states we've visited in 2009). We got into Nanuet between 5:30 and 6:00, then met Rob and Emily for dinner around 8 or 8:30.

One last sunrise picture...
We took another bike ride on the boardwalk, but this was a short one because it was cold and windy...
Chris, trying to stay warm on our bike ride...
A diagram of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It cost $12 to go across!
Here's one of the tunnels, which, obviously, you can't see...
Stopped at a scenic overlook on the way through the Chesapeake Bay area...

Tomorrow Chris and Rob are going to Great Adventure and I'm hanging out with Emily and Connor.

It's just after midnight and I'm not the least bit tired, but I'm going to see if I can force myself to sleep. If not, I'll get up and read some blogs I've been neglecting, and that I miss very much!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Virginia Beach--4.7.09

When I have so much going on, it's hard for me to sit down and write out what happened each day, but it's something that I hope to complete, not only so that my friends, family, and my "cyber friends"--(who are more likely than anyone to read my blog!), but so that I can have something to look back on. I told Chris that this is kind of like my online scrapbook! Anyway, the point is that I plan on posting these halfway done blog entries, but they will be updated, probably multiple times until I can get them "just right."

Tuesday morning's sunrise from our hotel window. Much better than Monday's weather, albeit much colder! (Still, we heard that there's snow in Western NY, so we're not complaining!)

We were on the road by about 8:45 so we could be at Busch Gardens when the park opened at 10:00. We needed to stop for gas along the way, too.

As we approached the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, we saw that there was an aircraft carrier in the water and it was about to go over the tunnel that we were on our way through. We were literally going through a tunnel with the George HW Bush Aircraft carrier in the water above us! When we got out the other side of the tunnel, I snapped some pictures, and here's one of them.
I took a lot of pictures of the rides at the park with our other camera, but I snapped a few with my little pocket camera. I especially loved looking at the wolves. I got video of one of them howling. It was so cute!
They also have an area filled with bald eagles who have been injured and who are unable to fly.
Here's a picture from our balcony on Tuesday evening. Nothing special, I just thought it would be nice to have a picture of our view in the evening, too!
We went to dinner at a restaurant called Doughboys, and when we got back, we saw that someone had written "Virginia 2009" in the sand right below our window, so of course, I had to get a picture of that!

Monday, April 6, 2009


We woke up to a cloudy but warm morning. We had breakfast and decided to get on the road before the rain hit. Today we went to the Outer Banks.

When we got to North Carolina, we realized that since Blueberry has been with us he/she has been to 9 different states (NY, PA, NH, VT, MA, MD, WV, VA, NC) and by the time we're done with this vacation, will have been to 11 when we add in DE and NJ. Here's when we crossed into NC.

First we came to Kitty Hawk...
Then to Kill Devil Hills....
Here's the monument to the Wright Brothers...
And the plaque about the first successful flight in an airplane...
We continued to drive's when we entered Nags Head... (I love taking pictures of signs)

And our final stop before we turned around and went back to Virginia...the Bodie Island Lighthouse.


We started the day with a beautiful view of the sunrise over the ocean...
We ate at the "deluxe continental breakfast" at the hotel (cereal, toast, and muffins--not exactly what I would call "deluxe".

We took our bikes downstairs and biked the boardwalk--about 6 beautiful miles on a nice little bike trail:
After that we changed our minds about what we would do next, but we settled on: Harbour Tour, Linda and Ray's, First Landing, then dinner with Mike.

More pictures to follow...we're getting ready to leave for another day on the road...

Ok, I'm back. Now I have to catch up on yesterday's events AND do a post with pictures from today.

Next stop on Sunday: The Harbour Tour. We drove to Norfolk and bought tickets for the Victory Rover. We had a buy one get one free coupon from the Entertainment Book! We boarded the boat at Nauticus (right next to the USS Wisconsin) a little after 10:30 and waited for the 11:00 tour. Here's a picture of Chris on the boat. You can see the Wisconsin in the background.

First we went to the left and checked out a little bit of the shipyard and some of the buildings, then we went to the right, heading past some more buildings and toward the Naval Base. We saw tons of Navy ships. It's unbelievable how much of our money is being spent on ships. Here's a picture of the newest ship--an aircraft carrier, the George HW Bush.
The tour took 2 hours. We got back to the port at 1:00 and called Linda (Dad's cousin) to let her know that we'd be on our way to her house. She said not to eat lunch because she had cooked lunch for everyone. We got to their house and were greeted by their two beautiful yellow labs, Bruce and Abbey. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and some catching up, and then we hit the road for our next adventure (below)...
First Landing State Park is one of my favorite places in the world. It's a bike trail through the woods, and it's just about the most beautiful place we've ever ridden our bikes. I love being in the woods, and I love biking, so it's the perfect combination. Chris took a picture of me when we stopped at a bog to check out the Spanish moss.
We only did about 6 miles on the First Landing trail because we had to meet my high school friend Mike at Macaroni Grill at 5. We got the bikes loaded back up and headed to the restaurant. I had mushroom ravioli that was very good. Not the best I've ever had, and it was a little on the expensive side (plus, our waitress had practically no personality), but it was nice to see Mike and to catch up a bit.

Next stop, go-kart racing. I opted out since I thought it would be stupid to partake in risky activities while pregnant, so we used more buy one get one free coupons so Chris could race twice. I'm glad I decided not to race, because it looked bumpy, and Chris said that it was.

We got back to the hotel around 8 or 8:30 and could barely keep our eyes open. By 9:00 we had given up on trying to force ourselves to stay awake. We had propped the balcony door open, so the sound of the waves even got me to sleep quickly, which rarely happens!