Thoughtful Thursday: How Having Muffin in My Life Has Caused Me to Stop and Smell the Roses…

Thoughtful ThursdayOnce upon a time, Muffin hadn’t been born yet.  I hadn’t met Josh yet.  I wasn’t even teaching yet.  I was simply Jane Doe, college student…who commuted from her childhood home to the university campus daily for classes (It was only about half an hour away).  I was one of those people who believes in being super early.  I cannot stand being late to things.  For the longest time, I was so crowd phobic that I couldn’t bear for people to look at me.  (Note:  During this part of my life, I had this great idea that I could be invisible if I showed up to classes before anyone else.)

Yes, I make my living standing in front and around a classroom of students all day communicating face to face and in front of the classroom.  But I wasn’t always this person.

Anyway (now that we’ve gone down that rabbit hole), I was on my way to class one day…and was stopped for forty-five minutes by a train first moving slowly on the tracks, then stopping, then backing up, then stopping, then moving forward a bit and stopping…stopping…stopping.  And made myself late for a Spanish class.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that has cursed a train for blocking traffic, right?

For those of you who don’t know Muffin…and therefore aren’t howling in laughter about what I’m about to say…sometimes things happen that are just…weird.  After years of (at best) inwardly growling at the site of a train on the tracks when I’m in a hurry (and at worst using my best road rage language), I give birth to a son obsessed with trains.  Uhb-ssesssed.  Meaning a car ride is not simply a car ride, oh no!  A car ride is an experience in expectation of finding a train…and so much better if you are captive for the experience of it being on the track in front of you.  With squeals of glee and mirth as each successive car lumbers slllllooooowwwwly past.  And the best is if they stop for awhile so that Muffin can give his verbal dissertation on the train car before us.

Oddly enough, after three years of train obsession, I don’t even flinch anymore at the sight of trains on the tracks.

I even find myself in childlike wonderment greedily observing the details of each passing car to later relay to Muffin if he isn’t in the car…or sharing in the train discussion with him.

And then…there is the great wavy guy hunt.  Thank you automotive places, whether you be a place that washes cars, changes the oil in cars, sells cars, or supplies parts for cars.  You have provided me the best bribe incentive for me to get Muffin to do things such as getting in the car in a timely manner.  One of the car lots around here even has four or five of them…in different colors.  And we have to wave at each…and…every…one.

And I’ve found myself doing so even when Muffin is not in the car.

Is this unusual?

 

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe ChallengeI’m trying to be more open about the bad.  I think I do okay opening up about the good, but this challenge has been…a challenge.  Monday I tried a new version of the Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich that I first saw on Forkful of Comfort.  I figured that a Hawaiian version would be great.  I love Hawaiian pizza (I especially love simply pineapple pizza), and it is a family favorite.  After the success of the salami version, I figured it would be AWESOME!  And it was.  Like totes.  :)  Here’s the kicker:  it is the fastest recipe ever.  It takes as long as it takes to make grilled cheese.  And not being a fan of cheese singles, being able to use mozza really amps it up.  And…all I have to say is…pizza dipping sauce.  I swapped out the butter/margarine on the outside with mayo.  Mayo is easier to spread more evenly (none of the torn bread syndrome).

Think of this cheesy goodness.

I may have already consumed one of the two sandwiches before remembering to take a shot of second of the two sandwiches.  As in, it was so super yummy I felt the need to inhale consume it instantly.  Here’s what we did:

Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese

bread, sliced (We used cheapy-cheap white bread)

butter, margarine, or mayo to slather on the bread (one side of each slice of bread)

shredded mozzarella (enough to layer on the bread twice

half a slice of thinly sliced ham (or Canadian bacon) per sandwich torn into bits

half a small can of crushed pineapple (and to keep the sandwiches flat enough it needs to be crushed), very well drained

jarred or canned red pasta sauce of one’s own choosing, warmed

Slather butter, margarine, or mayo on one side of each slice of bread.  Sprinkle a generous blanket on the un-coated side of half of the bread slices.  Sprinkle with ham and pineapple bits in an amount of your own choosing, but make sure to allow some of the mozzarella visible.  Sprinkle on more mozzarella.  Place the un-coated side of the remaining bread slices on top of the mozzarella.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot (You may want to spray the surface with nonstick cooking spray).  Place the sandwiches on the pan (being sure not to crowd too much).  Once the underside is browned and the cheese is partially melted, flip each sandwich carefully.  Cook until browned on that side and cheese is completely melted.  Cut diagonally into either two or four triangles (Muffin’s preference).  Repeat for remaining sandwiches.

Serve with warmed pasta sauce for dipping.

This was the thumbs-up portion of the week and definitely Muffin Approved.

That was the good news.

The thumbs down was my fault.

I attempted to make Josh’s Oma’s meatloaf in the slow cooker.  I had similar results to the Chicken Parmigiana meatloaf.  If you overcook meatloaf it turns kinda sour tasting.  If I had stopped at the five hours on LOW that I had it set for, but I didn’t think it looked quite done, so I set it for another hour.  It resembled dark brown leather afterwards.  I managed to choke down a slice, but Josh and Muffin couldn’t.  I do have to say this:  Oma’s meatloaf is yummy enough to deal with heating up the kitchen for.  Although the culinary adventuress within me wants to try it one more time and stop it at five hours.  I think it would have been awesome.

I didn’t take a picture.

Tomorrow we consume pancakes and bacon.  I plan to use the recipe from Miss Kay’s cookbook (because I like it the best) but to make sure I don’t use expired baking powder.

What is your biggest culinary achievement or disappointment lately?

Muffin Approved

Well…the pizza grilled cheese, at least.

 

Meal Plan Monday: A Low-Key Meal Plan Week with a Recipe Do-Over

Meal Plan Monday

After the oh-so-epic-fail of last week’s meal plan, I’ve tried to find a way to get back on track.  I’m being kind to Josh who is slow-cooker-ed-out.  Only one slow cooker recipe appears on the menu.  After the failure with the Chicken Parmigiana slow cooker meatloaf, I’m going to try to adapt his Oma’s meatloaf for the slow cooker.  I will chronicle the results here…fail or not.  It’s the world’s simplest meatloaf recipe…and, in this case, simplest is best.

Seriously, if successful, and I can reproduce this plate of happy without heating the kitchen?  Score!

Another notable recipe this week is one that I tried Saturday evening with the LFam but did not photograph.  It’s easy…peasy…and cheesy:  the pizza grilled cheese that only involves five ingredients:  bread, butter, bottle of pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni (although we used salami).

And…I’ve been Kuh-Raaaaving tacos.  Especially with the Alton Brown taco potion.  Done.

Anyway, here’s the plan.  And, contrary to what some people believe, a plan is set in stone and subject to the whims of the winds outside (and many many other things).  In other words, plan and actuality may be quite different.

I’m becoming more than a bit cantankerous in my old age.

Monday:  Pizza Grilled Cheese, veggies, fruit

Tuesday:  tacos a la Alton Brown’s taco potion

Wednesday:  Oma’s meatloaf in the crock pot

Thursday:  pancakes and bacon

Friday:  leftovers, pizza, or out

Saturday:  Chick-Fil-A Chicken nuggets, fries, hushpuppies

Sunday:  grilled pork chops, creamed corn, grilled garlic bread

As usual, I will be linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What’s cooking for you this week?

Cent Saving Saturday: Eat Sandwiches!

Cent Saving Saturday

 

Note to readers:  It is due to one of my readers that I managed to remember to front load this post.  When talking with one of my favorite coworkers, she reminded me that this blog existed (getting geared up for a new school year has kinda veered my mind away) and thus that I needed to get my tush in gear with my posts!

If you followed the roast beef debris sandwich posts, you know that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of sandwiches.  Josh is.  Muffin is perfectly fine with a jam sandwich.  But, as for me, not so much.

There are a few exceptions.  Meatball subs.  Roast beef debris.  Po boys in any form.

I think my distaste of sandwiches in general goes back to mushy bread in lunch boxes (mostly ones of my own making…my mom’s were always excellent).  But, for today, I’m going to share for you my favorite childhood sandwich.

No.  It isn’t PB&J.  I still can’t eat PB&J.  If I eat peanut butter (rarely), it has to be mixed with chocolate.  Even now, I’m cringing at the thought of PB&J.  When Muffin requests PB&J (to beef up his jam sandwiches), I make them, but I gag a bit.

Nope.  My fave sandwich came about when, according to my mom, we were kinda out of other sandwich ingredients.  The cupboards were a bit bare.  We had white bread.  We had mayonnaise.  We had a block of cheddar cheese.  And we had hamburger-sliced dill pickle slices (the crinkly cut ones).  I will spare you a picture of my fave sandwich.

We call it the cheese-and-dill-pickle sandwich.  Unpretentious.  Probably not too healthy.  Characterized by it’s salty flavor and the vague greenish tinge of the bread being exposed to the dill pickle.

For me, comfort food at its lowest common denominator.  If I need comfort food, and I need it FAST, this is what I go for.  Oddly enough, I’ve never made it for Muffin although he loves the components.  So, I can only assume it is Muffin Approved.

Cheese and Dill Pickle Sandwich

2 slices white bread, preferably crusts removed

mayonnaise

slices of cheddar cheese to cover one side of one piece of bread, preferably thinly sliced

6-8 dill pickle slices

Slather mayonnaise on both sides of the bread.  Arrange cheese on one side of the bread, trying not to leave too many gaps with bread exposed.  Layer pickles over that.  Top with bread.  Cut into two rectangles.  Wrap in plastic wrap or place in sandwich baggy for lunch consumption.

Warning:  This sandwich will probably make a few appearances Fridays when I’m on duty.  (I doubt any students will want a sample, but it is totally delish!)

But…if you need a healthier sandwich…here is the newest (last night’s) creation by Muffin.

Take two slices of garden fresh cucumber…fresh from the garden…pickling cucumbers.  Take a few spoonfuls of seasoned, boiled collard greens.  Now, before I go any further and petrify you even more, let me just say…I love our garden’s cucumbers.  I love collard greens.  But this made me gag.  It was more of a crudite sandwich.  Put a bit of collards on one cucumber slice, top with the other slice of cucumber.  Consume.  Repeat to the fear and disgust of one’s parents.  Oh!  And here’s a plate of Friday’s din-din.  Guess who didn’t follow the meal plan (which went to hockey sticks this week).

Now on to your specials for the week (NW Louisiana and North Bay, Ontario, style!):

Albertson’s

Boneless half pork loin $1.99/pound

Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite, 2 L, 99 cents each (limit 4 with coupon)

Wonder bread, 99 cents with coupon (limit 4 with coupon)

Hershey’s or Mars candy bars 49 cents (limit 6 with coupon)

Capri Sun $1.49 wyb 6

Kroger

Northwest red cherries $1.99/pound

Boneless skinless chicken breasts $1.99/pound

Kroger cheese, 8 ounce, $1.99

Red tomatoes on the vine 99 cents/pound

Romaine and leaf lettuces 99 cents/pound

Corn 3 ears/$1

Super 1 Foods

Red or black plums 98 cents/pound

3 pound bag onions $1.48

Oscar Mayer value shaved meats $1.77 (one pound package with coupon and $10 pre-coupon purchase, limit 4)

Fast Fixin’ chicken breast strips or nuggets $3.77 (same parameters as above, limit 4)

Minute Maid premium punch, gallon $1.98 (same parameters as above, limit 3)

Ocean Spray juice drink (64 ounce bottle or mini bottle pack) $1.98 (same parameters as above, limit 4)

Fresh baked baguettes 75 cents (I wanna make some of the blue cheese baguettes again!)

Food Basics

Coke/Pepsi 18 pack of cans $4.88

Cherries $1.88/pound

Cap Off Sirloin Tip Steak Family Pack $3.48

Romaine hearts, pack of 3 $1.88

Tomatoes on the vine 98 cents/pound

English cucumber 98 cents each

Packham pears 88 cents/pound

Laughing Cow cheese, round, $1.99 with coupon

Crush, Dr. Pepper, or Schweppe’s ginger ale, 2L, 98 cents

Fresh Co.

Carnation evaporated milk 97 cents each (limit 8)

Red Path granulated sugar, 2 kg $1.97

Ontario tomatoes on the vine 79 cents/pound

Ontario seedless cucumbers 97 cents each

Limes 10/$1

Giant Tiger

English cucumber 77 cents each

Independent

Ground beef, $2.99/pound

Red or green leaf lettuce 99 cents/pound

Sobey’s

Sugardale hickory smoked bacon, 375 g, $1.99

Dare cookies $1.99

Buy 6 pack of Libbey’s fountain sundae glasses, receive the following free:  ice cream, ice cream topping, sprinkles

Walmart

Seedless cucumbers, 6 pack (small) $1.47

Foodland

Value pack pork side ribs $1.97/pound

No Frills

Clamato $1

Ziggy’s fresh filled pasta $2

Old Mill hamburger or hot dog buns $1

Royal Gala apples $1/pound

Garlic 3 pack 4/$1…That’s 8.25 cents per bulb of garlic…we are paying at least 5 times that here!

Minute Maid juice concentrates 2/$1

Lysol wipes 70 count (2×35 wipes) $2

What is your favorite go-to instant comfort food?

Funny Muffin Friday: A YouTube Rendition of Jingle Bells

Funny Muffin Friday

I have mentioned that Muffin’s favorite Christmas Carol is “Jingle Bells,” haven’t I?  Well, here he is singing his version of his favorite Christmas song.  With a few…variations…in lyrics.  Have fun, y’all!

Oh, and this is the first YouTube video I have ever uploaded…and the first I have ever embedded here.  I hope this works!  (Fingers crossed!)

How do your little ones alter Christmas carols?

We Plan Wednesday: Taking Posts to an Audio/Video Level

We Plan Wednesday

I have been toying with the idea of amping up my posts lately, but the fru-ghee in me (I am not really fond of the term frugalista) won’t cough up the $18 for the Word Press upgrade, yet.  I recently made several videos taken during the Canada trip (Yah, the one I’ve only managed to make one post about…but it’s coming…I promise!) and wanted to share them from you.  I’ve seen the “Insert YouTube” button on the Add Media screen on Word Press, and I’ve watched YouTube vids…but I’ve never uploaded a video to YouTube.  And I’ve never embedded a YouTube video successfully in a post.  I have one of Muffin singing his fave Christmas carol that I recorded today and have uploaded and created a post around for Funny Muffin Friday, but I wanted to give a sneak peak of what’s in store…both from a video front and a Canada post front.

So…

Here…

Goes…

And, in the festive spirit, I bring you FIREWORKS!  (from the Canada Day festivities in Callendar, Ontario, on June 28)

What is your favorite type of video to view on YouTube?

Roast Beef Debris

As I posted in this week’s Meal Plan Monday, I have fallen in love with a new recipe…a sandwich.  Now, for those of you who know me, know that I’m not the biggest sammie fanatic.  I will eat sandwiches when forced to…or when there is nothing else left in the house.  I would prefer a casserole…salads…properly prepared fries…anything pretty much.  I don’t count burgers and hot dogs in that category.  Those are okay at pretty much any time.  I guess I chalk it all up to mushy bread syndrome.  I dunno.

But, I am a Louisiana girl.  I can appreciate the po-boy.  In any fashion.  I am not a fan of oysters, but I can deal with them in a po-boy.  Ditto for shrimp.  I like shrimp, don’t get me wrong, but, for some reason, I don’t think fried is their intended destination…unless on a po-boy.  I also am not a fan of lettuce on a sandwich.  It goes back to Subway and that seems to be their inexpensive filler.  And not in a good way.  But, again…on a po-boy…it’s different.

I have honestly never tried a Roast Beef Debris sandwich (Is that redundant?).  Recently, I spent a few days pulling down lots of Food Network recipes that I had never looked at and wanted to keep.  Actually, I was looking for Ten Dollar Dinners recipes and went down the rabbit hole, which usually happens when I get on the Internet.  Seriously.  I would like to open my laptop and not digress when looking for something.  From what I understand, that is a family (or maybe even universal) trait.

It usually results in some great results, so I don’t knock it too much.  This recipe, for example.  I am not really a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but I found myself looking through EVERY RECIPE LISTED for the show.  And this recipe…which has changed my outlook on sammies…came from the show.

I already had the roast made, so it was just a matter of locating the other ingredients.  That is why I am not listing the roast ingredients.

I made this to take on a poolside (sort of) picnic last night and wrapped each portion in foil to be served with veggies and dip and chips.  We didn’t open the chips.

Roast Beef Debris

From:  Food Network

Note:  For structural integrity, I found it best to come as close to shaving of the “debris” or vegetables as possible.

For three servings:

1/2 loaf French bread, split in half lengthwise (I used one studded in sesame seeds)

2 tablespoons softened butter, give or take

mayonnaise, as needed (I used reduced fat because I had purchased some on clearance at Target.)

Creole mustard, as needed (I used some from a small Zatarain’s jar)

Roma tomato, sliced as paper thin as you can make it

iceberg lettuce, shredded as thinly as you can…think what would happen if you put it through a paper shredder…that’s the look I was going for

red onion, again shaved wafer thin

shredded roast beef in juices (After serving the beef the previous night, I shredded up the rest and stirred them in the juices), warmed

Slather the cut sides of the loaf with butter.  Place on a lipped cookie sheet and broil it in the oven until the top is charred to your liking.  While broiling the bread, reheat the meat, if necessary, and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Once the bread is ready, I prepped mine this way.  On the bottom portion, I slathered on the mayo.  On the top, spread the mustard.  On the bottom (on top of the mayo…as it were), make a thin bed of red onion.  I cut the onion in half and made the slices from one half.  On top of that make a gala red carpet of tomato slices.  Place a judicious and juicy layer of roast beef on top of that.  I took it one step further and drizzled some more roast juices on top of that.  Then, sprinkle (or, if you are not me, pack) on the lettuce shreds.  Top with the cap of the bread, pressing down slightly.  Cut into three portions.  If serving immediately, serve on a plate with chips and/or veg and dip.  If traveling with the po-boy, wrap each portion tightly in foil to make it to go.

I wonder how this would be with pickles on the side.

What are your feelings about sammies, sandwiches, hoagies, subs, po-boys, and wraps?