Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite Christmas Salad

We hope that you had a wonderful Christmas!  We have taken a bit of a blogging vacation so that we can celebrate with our families, but I wanted to quickly share this fantastic recipe with you.  My family eats this salad every year with our Christmas Eve dinner and on other special occasions.  I'm not a huge salad fan, but this one is sooo yummy.  When we were teenagers, Michelle's family would spend Christmas Eve with my family, so she can also attest to its yumminess.  You don't need to save it for Christmas, either; it's really quick and easy to put together and can dress up any meal.  Enjoy!!

Christmas Salad
1 head lettuce (I like to use Romaine)
1 bunch spinach, well cleaned, or 1 package of baby spinach
3/4 lb feta cheese
1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2-1 lb sliced mushrooms
1 small red onion, sliced thinly (I'm not a huge onion fan, so I usually omit this)

1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
3/4 c white vinegar
3/4 c sugar (we have used Splenda with great results!)
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp grated onion
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt

Mix dressing in a shaker.  Pour over salad and toss.  Share with your loved ones and watch them be amazed!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

List of Three...Christmas Movies

It hit me this morning that I have not popped in my traditional "White Christmas" and it's December 13th!!!! I need to get on that...(along with other Christmas preparations!). So here ya go my List of Three Christmas movies:

White Christmas: There is nothing like the combination of Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye & Vera Ellen to make you feel all warm inside!!  (I know this is your favorite too, but I had to take it because I have a sneaky suspicion that you will take Christmas in Connecticut!)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The classic cartoon version please! The live-action Jim Carrey one is okay too, but I was raised watching this cartoon every year. And while you can now get it on DVD I personally prefer the fuzzy VHS version complete with snippets of commercials.

Frosty the Snowman: The 1969 cartoon version that is narrated by Jimmy Durante. This was on the same tape as How the Grinch Stole Christmas so naturally you just pop in the *VHS and watch the whole thing. There have been many remakes of this cartoon, but none of them hold a candle to this version. Ya got to love the magician "Messy...messy...messy..."

*In case you were wondering the VHS had: The Grinch, Frosty and the 1985 musical version of Alice in Wonderland, the one with Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Sammy Davis Jr. & Ringo Starr.......oh the memories!!!

I also have a cherished VHS tape of children's Christmas shows, and half of the fun is watching the very old commercials!  It has The Grinch, Frosty, The Muppet Christmas special, Rudolph, The Town That Forgot Christmas, and one of my personal favorites, which will soon be revealed. :)  I have many Christmas movies that I love, but these would be my top three:

Christmas in Connecticut: You were right!  I grew up watching this 1940s classic and love it.  Thanks to this movie, my family regularly says things like "hunky dunky" and "the old magoo".  Barbara Stanwyck hosts a lonesome (and handsome!) sailor, played by Dennis Morgan, for Christmas.  She writes a column for a major women's magazine and has a reputation for being America's best wife, mother, and cook, but in reality, she's none of those things.  Such a great movie!

A Christmas Story: Another family favorite.  I have probably seen this 50 times at a minimum and I still laugh every time.  Ralphie Parker's family kind of feels like an extension of my own at Christmastime.  This is another one that takes place near World War II.  Is there something about the War that makes Christmas movies better?

The Night Before Christmas: This is a musical cartoon version featuring mice.  It may sound strange, but it's just not Christmas unless I have watched and sung along with it!  Santa Claus gets mad at the town of Junctionville and decides not to visit them, so the local clockmaker builds a musical clock to serenade Santa as he flies overhead.  So fun!

What are YOUR favorite Christmas movies?


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Oatmeal Souffle

I was first introduced to the idea of an oatmeal souffle when I read about it in FoodNetworks "50 Breakfasts Across America". They would highlight a restaurant and a breakfast item they were famous for in each state. I can't remember the name of the restaurant in Boise, ID that they highlighted, but I do remember they wrote about their Oatmeal Souffle. Now I'm not an avid oatmeal eater. Personally I prefer Cream of Wheat, but this sounded interesting...and a little extravagant - I thought it might be worth the try. I googled "Oatmeal Souffle" and found quite a few recipies for it and this is my own take on one. It's light, fluffly, it'll "stick to your ribs" and it doesn't resemble anything to a bowl full of mushy cardboard, Enjoy!

1 C. Milk

1 TBS Butter 

3/4 C. quick-cooking rolled oats

1/3 C. Sugar

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 C. Sour Cream

1 Egg, separated  
2 egg whites

1/4 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray four 5-oz souffle molds, custard cups or ovenproof bowls with nonstick cooking spray; place in baking pan.
In a small saucepan bring the milk and butter just to a boil. Gradually add oats while stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until oats thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat; pour the oat mixture into a large bowl. Add sugar, salt, cinnamon, sour cream and 1 egg yolk; stir until smooth. 
In a medium bowl beat all 3 egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold egg whites into oat mixture using a rubber scraper.
Do not overmix; small lumps of egg white will remain. Gently spoon the mixture into molds & sprinkle the brown sugar on the tops! Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or when the tops are poofy and you can stick a knife in them and it comes out clean. Serve immediatley (no one likes to eat cold oatmeal!)
Now this has crunchy brown sugar on top, but I was also thinking it would be yummy to have maple syrup dizzled on the top with some chopped pecans or some cool whip on the top or for those who like fruit a little jam spread or crazins sprinkled on the could really go anywhere with this. Just enjoy!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Your Doppelganger

So, I remember there was a little phase on Facebook awhile ago where they said to post your "doppelganger" as your profile picture.... I didn't. I could not think of one. I couldn't remember if anyone had ever said, "hey you look like....". Well that's actually a lie. When I was substituting at the local middle school I was doing recess duty (a job that I lothe and dispise) and had to take care of a few punks causing trouble. As I was walking away from them one of them said, "She looks like that girl on Ugly Betty". Now while I think America Ferrera is cute and I understand that Ugly Betty is just a TV show - I didn't take it as a compliment and I don't think that it was really meant as one either. So..... we are going to pick out dopplegangers for eachother. Here we go!
Now I know that it's kinda hard to find someone with the same look, but I have found three ladies that remind me of you in one way or another.
Nan your doppelganger would be a mix of:

Natalie Portman

With some Anne Hathaway

And a dash of Katie Holmes, but you make better choices!
Aw, I'm flattered -- and LOL at the Katie Homes but with better choices!  It took a little bit of thought -- after all, you're truly a one-of-a-kind woman -- but I finally came up with three women who remind me of you in one way or another. 
Michelle, I think your doppelganger would be a mixture of:

The oh-so talented and lovely Sandra Bullock

Idina Menzel (as her cute self, not as Elphaba)


Lauren Graham (You're welcome)

So what do you think?  Did we do a good job picking doppelgangers for each other?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How To...Paint Your Kitchen Cupboards

After this post, we had a question in the comments about painting kitchen cupboards, so I thought I'd share our experience with you.  We are by no means professionals, so this may or may not be the "right" way to refinish cupboards, but it's the way that worked for us.

When we bought our house, our kitchen cupboards were an ugly, scratched, dark brown.  I had already been dreaming of a dark blue kitchen with white cupboards, so I had no qualms about painting them.  I did a little bit of reading online, then dove right in.  We had four basic steps, after removing the doors:
1 - Wash
2 - Sand
3 - Prime
4 - Paint

Wash: Really take your time with this step.  We just kind of lightly wiped them down, and this worked okay for some areas and not so well for others.  If there's some grease buildup (which there will be in a kitchen), make sure you clean all of that off so that the paint sticks well; we didn't clean the doors above the stove as well as we should have, and the paint cracked, so really get those puppies clean!  See if you can find a detergent with TSP in it to cut through the grime.

Sand: Don't worry about sanding everything down to bare wood, just sand enough to rough up the surface so that the paint will stick better.  We used both sandpaper and steel wool for this step.  If there are any areas that were hard to clean, sand these really well.

Prime: I don't remember what brand of primer we used, but make sure that it is good at covering dark finishes.

Paint: This is the most time-consuming part of the whole process.  We used a glossy finish white paint, but I think semigloss or satin finish would work just as well.  After some experimentation, we discovered that foam rollers and brushes were the best for this job; they leave a relatively smooth finish and are easy to work with.  We just bought ours at the dollar store.  I think we did two coats of paint on our cupboards.  We didn't paint the insides of the cupboards themselves, but we did paint both sides of the cupboard doors.

Optional -- Add a clear protective coat: We didn't do this, but our paint job has held up just fine over the last five years.  It will add a little bit of protection, though, especially if you have sticky little fingers touching the cupboards.

So, was it a big project?  Yes.  Am I happy with the way it turned out?  Yes.  Would I do it again?  Probably.  Now that we've done it once and have learned from our mistakes, I think I'd be willing to try it again.  Take your time and you'll do just fine.  Have fun sprucing up your cupboards!

We don't really have any photos of the kitchen as we were painting the cupboards, so I'll just re-post the "after" picture. :)

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