Category Archives: food

Sizzled out…

My grill died. I’m pretty bummed. It is my fault, really. I didn’t oil him, clean him properly or cover him. He sat out year after year in the elements, with particles of food rotting below the grates. Sure I brushed him after each use and even wiped down the burner a few times… but alas, it wasn’t enough. The rust became too much for him and now his burner has fallen to pieces. How depressing this moment is, in the heat of the summer – prime grillin’ time. Think of all the burgers that will go un-cooked. The crispy grilled pizzas, the corn still in their husks… the steaks… sigh. Remember all those lazy nights, sizzling a burger while I sipped my wine? I even stood in the rain for you!
Why didn’t I take better care of you? Maybe there is hope. I will search for replacement parts and maybe, just maybe you will burn again for me.

I'm sorry I hurt you...


Cracker Jacks

What’s in the box?

Every day this summer my kids and I are trying to do or try something new, whether it be a new skill learned or a new place to visit locally. Or go on some kind of cheap outing.
School ended on a Tuesday, so Wednesday morning we had a girls day out shopping. We mostly bought birthday presents for friends, but we enjoyed some slow walking around the mall with no real agenda. Thursday we found ourselves at a park with a pond. We fed the ducks and geese, played on the jungle gym and took Sammy for a walk. (He mostly tried to eat goose poop, ew!)

Friday we went over to my sister’s house so that the cousins could play.

baking cookies with cousins!

On Monday, we had  a play date with a new friend and went to the open gym for the kids to jump around.

Yesterday was a day to learn a new skill. I taught the girls how to answer the phone properly. Dun, dun, dun. Up until now, they have only talked to grandparents on the phone. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I call my kids friend’s houses and the child answers with uncertainty… or they call us and I can’t understand who they are and what they want.  Speak in full sentences child, I cannot understand you! We practiced using manners, talking in complete sentences and getting your point across immediately. We also discussed information that should not be given away while on the phone, especially if you don’t know who is on the other end! For example, “She can’t come to the phone right now, can I take a message please?” Instead of, “um, she is not here… or she is on the potty.”  The rest of the day was spent working on the kids scrapbooks.

The other thing that the girls are doing everyday is school work. During breakfast we are doing 4th grade level flash cards for warm ups. The girls are sitting with a notepad while I read the questions. There is one for math and on the other side is a thinking problem for reading. Here is the link (click here!) for the cards. After breakfast, we go downstairs to the white board and table for a math lesson. We are doing Multiplication facts, learning groupings and memorizing by writing… a new fact everyday. The fourth grader is being very patient while we are learning/writing the 2’s facts since she already knows them. Then we do a Language arts/Spelling work sheet and finally the girls read for 15-20 mins. We try to be done by 9:00 AM. So far, so good! I would like to incorporate one or two book reports, science experiments and other subjects… but we will see.

I’m not sure what we are going to do today… maybe bake some cupcakes! Grammy and Grampy should arrive around 3:00 PM, since they are on their way home from their RV vacation.

Cracker Jacks. You never know what the prize in the box will be… (I couldn’t use “life is like a box of chocolates”!)

what's in that big box?

Homemade Cracker Jacks

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 15 min
about 3 quarts


  • 1 1/2 cups salted Spanish redskin peanuts
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 9 cups popped corn
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cane syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the peanuts, pecan halves, cayenne, Essence, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and melted butter, tossing to coat well. Spread mixture evenly over the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on parchment paper or paper towels. Combine the cooled spiced nuts and popcorn and divide evenly between 2 lightly greased baking sheets with 1/2-inch edges. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining unsalted butter, sugar, and cane syrup over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour hot mixture evenly over both baking sheets of popcorn and nuts. Using a lightly greased spatula, stir the mixture well so that everything is evenly coated.

Bake for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove caramel corn from the baking sheets and cool completely on waxed paper. Store in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

What’s for dinner?

I often make up pasta dishes. It’s not that I don’t like the recipes that I have, it’s mostly because I am trying to use the ingredients that I have in the fridge before they expire. Tonight there was a 1/3 of a cup of spicy pasta sauce and a bit over a half of a can of diced tomatoes with garlic. If I mixed those together, they would make a pasta sauce that was almost too watery and not enough for the amount of pasta that I was cooking. So, I added some creamed spinach (Giant brand deli) and some spicy Italian sausage. Then I baked it at 350* for 20 mins with some cheese on top. Yum!

In other news, the girls are camping with my parents for their Spring Break. Last year I went with them to the Disney World Fort Wilderness campground and this year they took the *infamous RV to Hershey Park campground for the week. I have received several text messages with pictures of the girls at the Chocolate Museum and tomorrow they will go into the park. As a child, we went to the park about 5 or 6 years in a row, as we lived in PA for about 3 years and then continued to go with friends every year after that for 2 or 3 years. I will join them up there for 2 days this week, but husband has to stay home b/c of the new puppy. My biggest memory is of Chocolate World, so I am excited to go and ride the tour again.

*actually famous RV. My parents have hosted several bands, groups and just recently the Capital One Vikings!

Dutch wonder

There are 256,528,423 things you can do with a dutch oven. I tip my hat to the inventor. Maybe one of theses days I will get around to writing down the recipes in my head and post them. It all starts with an hour playing around on foodie sites, reading about how to make different yummo-licious dishes and then when I get to the kitchen, I do what I want with it.

My cute hubby gave me a dutch oven for Christmas. I use it at least once a week. I have made soups (like white bean chili, creamy white bean and carrot, chicken noodle) and I’ve made a London Broil that cooked for 3 hours to make pulled beef tacos. So many things. You can also do every step of a recipe from sautéing onions to putting it in the oven. I know you can do desserts, like cobbler – but I haven’t tried that yet.

Yesterday I scorched milk, veggie oil and sugar together and then when it was almost cooled, I added yeast and flour and let it rise for an hour. Yes, that’s right folks… I ventured into the world of the Pioneer Woman. I mean, what does this gal NOT do… I need that much ambition. And so, I made cinnamon rolls, from scratch. I rolled out a fourth of the dough last night and buttered, cinnamon and sugared it up. Then cut it into rolls and let it rise over night. I baked a pan for the kids this morning… it is a state testing day, so they needed a double breakfast (according to my 8 year old), so oatmeal first, then yummy rolls. Sorry Pillsbury, you have been replaced.

I really wish I lived on a farm. Big open fields, cows and horses. I would homeschool my kids… do crafts and bake all day.