Thursday, May 21, 2009

Murphy's law at it's best

Today was one of those meltdown days:

Went to the grocery store & was ready to check out... no $$$
Lost car in grocery store parking lot... TWICE
Almost got hit by Graeter's Ice Cream Van
Bread that was purchased somehow opened, dumping into carseat
Dog broke tooth (her's, not mine)

Purple & Orange Cauliflower, Oh My!

I stopped in at Kroger today & they have a great little sale. You can buy a head of Purple or Orange Cauliflower for just .99 each! White cauliflower is still about 2.50, and these were normally almost $4, so I grabbed a couple (plus they are just so darned cute!)

Once you bring the cauliflower home, you might be looking for a good recipe. Here's a good one to try. I wish I had a pic of it, but it was gone before I blinked! Maybe next time.

One head of cauliflower - chopped into bite size pieces.

Olive Oil - about a 1/4 cup

Salt & Pepper (I never measure these when I'm just cooking, I just sprinkle)

Garlic Cloves - Anywhere from 10-20 (sounds like alot, but it's worth it)

Italian Seasoning - about a teaspoon

Red Pepper Flakes - just a pinch

Shredded Parmesean Cheese

Place your cauliflower in a casserole dish. Peel & slightly crack your garlic cloves, throw them in whole. Drizzle the veggies w/ your olive oil. Season w/ salt, pepper, Italian seasoning & red pepper flakes. Toss to coat evenly. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven. After 15 minutes, stir the veggies & sprinkle with the shredded parmesean cheese. Bake another 10 minutes. Check to see if the veggies are tender. You may need another 5 minutes or so (stir again if you do)

Remove & Serve immediately.

I really believe that in most cooking, (not baking which requires some degree of measurement) it should be about just getting in there and having fun. Feel free to swap out some ingredients if you want.

I suggest:

Can swap broccoli for cauliflower (or use both!)

Don't swap the garlic - It gets really tender & sweet, and is great smushed into the cauliflower as you eat (or on a hunk of bread)

Use whatever seasonings you want, experiment!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A real sinker

More & more often, our cell phones go lots of places with us. And it is inevitable, that at some point, many people find their cell phone taking a swan dive into the nearest body of water... When this happens, you might think it's money & contact info down the drain... but this may not be the case.

A few years ago, I worked briefly as a customer service rep for a cellular company, as well as spent a couple years in other capacities for the company. The knowledge I gained there has been pretty helpful, I'm an expert at troubleshooting my own phone. One great tip that I picked up while there was how to handle a wet cell phone. I've shared it with a few people, most recently with one today, and decided it might make a good blog post, in an attempt to get the info out to lots of people faster.

So, if you find yourself in a situation where your phone is in the water, the first step is pretty simple:

GET IT OUT! The longer the phone is in the water, the less likely you might be to restore it.

The next step is very critical... DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, attempt to turn the phone back on to see if it still works! The truth is, often times a phone can survive being dropped in water, as in most occasions, the phone powers itself off when it hits the water. When you try to turn the phone on, because there is water inside the phone, you then short the phone out, frying it, so to speak... Water + Electricity = BAD

Now, quickly remove the back of the phone and get the battery out. This is really important if your phone by chance didn't power off, because you need to temporarily "kill" the phone.

Grab a towel, and dry your phone. Dry all the visible places... inside where your battery case is, around the hinges, open the little covers that hide the charger openings (you can use a Q-tip to try to soak up some moisture there) If your phone flips or slides or anything, open that too. The key is to expose as much as possible of your phone to air.

Next place your phone on a clean dry towel.

Now walk away, that's right... just leave it... you've done all you can do, and now you must leave your phone to the elements... Depending on how long your phone was in the water (say I dropped it into the sink and immediately grabbed it back out, versus I went into the pool and forgot I had it on me) You'll want to let your phone dry out for anywhere from 24 - 48 hours. If you have a small fan, it wouldn't hurt to set it near the phone to provide some air circulation.

After 24-48 hours, come back and reassemble your phone. Attempt to power it on. If the cellular gods are smiling on you, your phone should power back on. If it doesn't at first, you may want to try plugging it in and charging it, some batteries lose their charge quickly when wet.

I've had personal experience, and my phone came through just fine. I've also heard some really weird stories of things people have suggested that ended disasterously, such as:

Freezing your phone: BAD IDEA... water expands when it's frozen... you could really do more harm than good, plus you're going to be allowing more moisture into the phone.

Baking your phone: You would have to be VERY careful and I would NOT recommend baking the battery. Even without the battery, the LCD screen can be very tempermental when exposed to heat.

Of course the best plan is prevention... but we know that it's not always possible.

*On a side note, I imagine you could use the same process for other small handheld electronics, like Ipods, etc... but I've never had personal experience with 'em

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Staleness be gone - Kitchen Tip Tuesday

It's Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's Recipes. Be sure and check out her site for a variety of tips!

Ever reach into a sleeve of crackers only to realize they're stale? or perhaps a bag of chips that someone left the clip off of? Maybe in your morning fog you didn't close up your Cheerios... While I'm a huge proponent of repackaging items, using clips, etc to keep out the air... inevitably something is going to get stale. And nowadays, everyone is looking for ways to make their money go further...

So the next time you find yourself with some stale chips, crackers, or cereal... try one of these two ideas:

#1 - Microwave - Use the microwave, on high, at about 30 second intervals until the item is thoroughly heated (it will vary depending on your microwave & the amount of food you're working with). Just spread the stale chips, etc out on a paper towel & microwave. Afterwards let the food cool down, and you'll find they've crisped back up.

#2 - Toaster Oven/Oven - Spread out the stale cereal, etc on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes in a 300 degree oven until nice and toasty. Once cooled, you'll find they taste fresh again.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Breakfast Pizza

Like most of my recipes, this is more of a method, you can embellish as you see fit to suit your tastes.


1 small/med onion

2 T butter

Salt & Pepper

Small can of refridgerated biscuit dough (6 biscuits)

2-4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 lb breakfast sausage

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

Start by cutting onion in half, and then slice fairly thin. Place onions in pan with butter. Season with salt & pepper. Start on Med/High for about a minute, then reduce down to Med/Low and continue to cook until the onions become soft and caramelized to your liking (depends on how much time I have) stirring periodically to prevent burning.

Brown & crumble the breakfast sausage (you could do this with the onions if you like, but if you want to cut down on excess grease, cook separately) then drain. This is where I took a short cut. I used precooked fake sausage crumbles because my roomie doesn't eat meat.

Roll out each biscuit individually until about 1/8 inch thin. It's easiest if it's done between two layers of waxed paper. Overlap the biscuits in an 8" or 9" pan/pie plate. I used a can of 6 biscuits, but these were fairly small biscuits, if your biscuits are bigger, you could probably get away with 4.

When the onions are done, spoon them onto the biscuits. Add the sausage as well. Sprinkle with cheese (you can use any kind of cheese, and more or less to your liking)

Whisk together the eggs & milk. Pour this mixture over the topped biscuits. Bake in a preheated oven (375) for about 20-25 minutes (until center is set). Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serve.

I forgot to take a picture until part of it had been served :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baked Asparagus

Over at Tammy's Recipes, it's time for In Season Recipe Swap. I really like the idea of this recipe exchange, because it's all about using what's in abundance. This week's theme: Asparagus.

I've tried a few asparagus recipes. One of the new favorites in my house is one from Tammy's site, Creamed Asparagus Over Pasta. I only make 2 small changes to the recipe. (1) I go ahead and combine everything (the sauce, pasta & alfredo) in a casserole dish & bake it for a few minutes. (2) I add a pinch of nutmeg to the cream sauce. I like to add nutmeg to most cream sauces.

Hands down the favorite asparagus recipe in my house, and actually it's the easiest... is Baked Asparagus. It's more of a method than a recipe.

Start with the asparagus. You can use as few or as many stalks as will serve your family.

Snap or trim off the tough ends.

Lay the asparagus in a single layer in a baking pan.

Drizzle the asparagus with your favorite olive oil. (This is my favorite brand)

Toss the asparagus in the oil, so to coat them

Sprinkle with salt & pepper

I also sprinkle with shredded parmesean cheese sometimes

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes

Serve warm

I like this recipe because it's so easy, I don't dirty any dishes except for my pan and it's done in less than 20 minutes without having to fuss over them, giving me time for whatever else I need to prepare. None of the ingredients are exact, just to your liking. I would guess it's about a tablespoon of olive oil, for an average bunch of asparagus. I just turn the bottle up and make one pass over the asparagus. I use a couple small pinches of salt & just a couple quick shakes of pepper. As for the cheese, I use it when I think to, but it's just as tasty without. You could substitute any hard cheese.
Make sure you go check out everyone else's recipes. I have a fridge drawer full of asparagus, so I'm excited to see some new recipe ideas.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

It gives me GREAT pleasure to say that I'm heading back to Vegas this fall!!! The first weekend of October to be more specific. This is a rather recent development, it was only decided YESTERDAY. My roomie & I visited Vegas in December of '07 for an awesome concert (Spice Girls) and yet another concert is bringing us back there this year.

Still looking at vacation packages, we just purchased our concert tickets yesterday. So who are we off to see? Kylie Minogue! This is her first U.S. tour... Ever... My roomie is a huge fan, and I like her music myself. She finally announced a small tour (only 7 shows at this time) for North America. We actually barely got the tickets, they had a presale yesterday that started at 1PM, and both my roomie & I were online, and had to keep refreshing for about 5 minutes before someone's tickets must have gotten released, and we managed to score a pair!

If you have any bargains you've heard about in Vegas, be sure and let me know. Last time we were there, we managed to score a few, but always up for suggestions.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Schoolin' and Such

Well, back in January, I blogged that I had started my classes. I am happy to report that I am now going into my finals for each class. WooHoo! This semester has actually went by rather quick. I have just one final assigment/exam for each of my classes. And break for me, beginning the week of May 10th, I will be starting summer school! Summer school will be 1 part catch up and one part get ahead.

I previously blogged that I was taking 3 classes & a lab (which is basically a 4th class) this semester. Unfortunately, I decided to withdraw from one of my classes. I was taking Comparative Religion and while the class itself had so much potential, and in the time that I was taking it, I discovered so many interesting tidbits, in the end, the class lacked the instructor input that I felt was needed in order to be successful. Each week we simply read a chapter and then posted our thoughts on a discussion board. We were graded on our posts, but our professor was very unclear about how he would grade the posts. We would only get one grade for all the posting for the entire semester and he provided practically no feedback on our comments. Additionally the few assignments were very vague. My biggest fear after being in the class for a month and a half was that when finals rolled around, I would have a final on unknown material. There just didn't seem to be a good compass for the class. So I withdrew, while I could still do so without it impacting my GPA. I will be replacing this class with a Women's Studies class in the fall.

My biology lab actually turned out to be very fun! Because the class was online, we had to purchase lab kits. We got to perform experiments at home! Some of it was challenging, because this was a new kit that they had not used previously, so adjustments in instruction had to be made, but I liked the class overall. And I now know how to extract DNA with everyday household ingredients!

Unless something goes terribly wrong, I should have an A in all 3 of the classes from this spring!

So, as for my summer classes. When I decided to drop my religion class, I knew that I needed to take at least one class during the summer to keep my fall schedule manageable. The first class I will be taking is public speaking. I DO NOT WANT TO TAKE THIS CLASS. Why? Well, the first reason being that while it is sometimes offered online, and I was holding out to see if it would be in the fall... they didn't... so I actually have to go to school (which means if I start working before the class ends, scheduling) and second, because I don't think I'll get the same benefit from the class. It's a requirement for the program I'm transferring into, and while I completely get why it's important for students... Having worked in professional settings, in management capacities, public speaking is something I've grown quite used to... but at least I was able to pick it up as an evening class for the summer... Just 3 evenings a week, for about 6 weeks... and my roomie also needs the class for his degree... so we're taking it together!

I'm also electing to take an additional economics class this summer. It's being offered by the same professor I have this semester. Since I'm familiar with his teaching style, I feel comfortable taking the class in an accelerated format (AND IT'S ONLINE). It will be picking up right around the time that my first summer class ends. This also means that I will only have to carry 7 hours (3 classes) in the fall to meet all my requirements for my transfer!