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Archive for the ‘Seasons’ Category

 Pie’s Shepherd’s Pie

It is cold and I am pulling out all the stops when it comes to comfort food! Since it is March, why not embrace a bit of the ‘ol luck of the Irish roots I have along with making an easy one-pot meal with a few quick elements added to have a home-cooked value in an hour!    

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large oven safe cook pot (dutch oven), brown ground beef with 1/2 diced onion and 2 cloves of diced garlic.  Add 1/2 tbsp of Kosher salt and 1/4 tbsp of black pepper.  Drain only 1/2 of the excess fat. This will help establish a nice rich gravy. 

.  Heat should be at a simmer: Add 16 oz of beef broth/stock, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup,  2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp of butter and about half of the 1/4 cup of flour.  Stir constantly for about 1- 2  minute until flour is dissolved and  NOT forming dumplings.  It should thicken. 

Add 1-1/2 cups of the following frozen vegetables – corn, carrots, peas, green beans.  Keep at a simmer level so you will need to increase heat.   Once veggies are defrosted and warmed through (about 5 minutes) add additional flour.  Stir for about another 1-2 minutes.  The consistency should be thick enough it can support a standing spoon for at few seconds.   Turn down heat and cover.

Peel, dice and cook 8-10 potatoes. I normally just put them in a large glass brown and microwave them for about 15-20 minutes. Or you can boil the potatoes the traditional way.   Drain water from cooked potatoes, add 2 table spoons of butter, 1/2 tbsp of Kosher salt, 1/4 tbsp of pepper and 2 tsp of milk.  Mash to a semi-lumpy consistency. 

Fold in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. 

Add 1 cup of shredded cheese to the thickened base

Spread potatoe mixture over the top of the melting cheese and place in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees or until the potatoes start to brown and the cheese is melted and the gravy is bubbly. 

 

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lbs of ground beef

1/2 white onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon of black pepper

16 oz of beef stock (can substitute chicken or vegetable stock)

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce (a little goes a long way, be careful not to over season with this)

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

4 tablespoons of butter

1/4 cup of flour (you may need more or less depending on how you get to your correct consistency)

1 cup of frozen corn

1 cup of frozen peas

1 cup of frozen green beans (I did find a  green been combination of green and yellow “green” beans)

1 cup of frozen carrots (I did find a frozen carrot combination of yellow and orange carrots)

8-10 medium potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled

1 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons milk

*Yields about  6-8  large and hearty servings

Time: 1 hour total time:  30 minutes of hands on time. 30 minutes of oven time.

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This is my first attempt at haiku!  I am starting a New Year’s Resolution of branching out in other forms of writing to challenge myself and was inspired by this one with the lady yelling at her mother on the phone while I was at the mall the other day.  Think this pretty much sums it up!

the holidays –

                           family time

                                         
                                                nails on chalkboard

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I found that best gift for all you ladies to give to that special man in your life and maybe the Idiot can pass this idea on to  Ms. Idiot.  After seeing this infomercial no man’s stocking should be without this, this Christmas morning!

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‘Tis the season for heading off to the mall and embracing it for all its glory.  My Christmas shopping is pretty much done, however, I headed off to the mall for a personal reason; to buy the beloved popcorn maker that was on sale at Williams – Sonoma I have been drooling over for the past month! Another outing this holiday season that is the inspiration for the Top Ten Tuesday!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Photo from Kyle Dahl

10.  The parking lot situation is less than desirable, especially in a torrential down pour.

9.  There is a Salvation Army Santa at every corner ringing that friggin’ bell.  I don’t know what is worse the ringing in my head hours past the visit to the mall or the guilt I have every time I walk by one of them and not put some coin in the bucket.

8.  The way Macy’s places displays in the middle of the aisles making it pretty much a crap shoot to get through with a stroller ( I have a narrow incline double stroller; it is as wide as single stroller), trying to keep your kid’s paws off the merchandise as you are cautiously maneuvering them around them, or better yet trying not to run over people at the MAC or Clinique counters.  Oh, the looks I got yesterday when I asked people to “excuse me”.   “Seriously, lady?  What other options do I have?  Risk running over your foot or knocking down the 8-foot display of perfume gift sets.  Let me tell you, if you don’t move your foot, it will get run over and you can go file a claim with Macy’s for their inconvenient strategic display of merchandise!”

7.  The people on cell phones or texting while walking around, totally clueless of their surroundings.  This is such a blood boiler for me.  That is why the mall has benches and seating areas.  If you wish to turn the mall into your personal social network office, then pull over and sit the friggin’ down and twitter and Facebook that you are doing your Christmas shopping and the mall is a nightmare.  NEWS FLASH: YOU ARE ONE OF THE REASONS THE MALL IS A FRIGGIN’ NIGHTMARE!”

6. When needing to get on to the elevator and the people unloading decide to stop and block the doors for those trying to get on while they are discussing where they want to go to lunch or their next shopping destination.  I have a stroller to push onto the elevator and if my kids gets clocked by the doors closing on them because you screwed around discussing if you want to go to Cheesecake Factory or just the Food Court, I am going to run you over with my loaded stroller.  PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!

5.  The kiosks in the middle of the mall.  If I wanted to buy cheap Chinese crap from people who look like they are one day out of a state prison or a halfway house I would go to Wal-Mart.

4.  The line to Starbucks.  Since the mall does not sell booze, which I think would make the whole experience much better or at least tolerable (Marty Gras is a mob infested nightmare, you don’t realize it because all are intoxicated), caffeine and sugar are the next best thing.  Having to wait for that in a line that rivals the line for Santa is  beyond me!

3.  Other people’s kids.  Letting them run around like wild banchies is just something I will never get.  The world is not every kid’s play ground.  

2. Standing in line waiting to purchase your goods and having to hear a woman on her cell phone yelling at her mother that she is an enabler and all her 9 year-old son wants for Christmas is that his uncles get off the hooch and meth.  Now, this did make me fill a little better about my Christmas family situation.  At least there will be no tweakers at my table this year!

Photo from Kyle Dahl

1.  When you see that there is people standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the first and second floor of the food court that may be a sign that a major tragedy is in the forecast and it is time to un-ass the area.   Nothing would make it a holiday to remember by having the second floor collapse while waiting to hear Handel’s Messiah in a Random Act of Culture moment.  Go home and play the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and enjoy your festive egg nog and avoid the Random Act of Culture turned breaking news nightmare.

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A quick order of housekeeping.  Today I have been on double duty for Top Ten Tuesdays and  was also  featured on the recently Freshly Pressed blog of  The Life of Jamie as her guest blogger! Thank you Jamie, it was fun!

In almost every town in America there are certain neighborhoods that ban together and go all out decorating their houses for Christmas.  They are a festive bunch that are willing to invite all of the public into their neat and tidy cul-de-sac streets and manicured sidewalks.  They even make sure they park in their garages so there are no cars on the street for optimum Christmas light viewing.  Their kids pass out home-made cookies and hot coco and there are even little bins where you can dump your expired canned goods to go towards the homeless.  Yes, it is a bit of Mulberry in the new millennium.  But like anything wonderful and soulful, there has to be a group of jack-a-lopes that have to go and ruin the fun. 

Yes, I am going to bombard everyone with my 12-days of Christmas crap inspired moments well into the New Year!  This moment inspired me enough to make it part of my Top Ten Tuesdays! 

10:  If you decide to bring your dog please clean up after it.  Nothing spreads the smell of holiday cheer than dog poo on the bottom of your shoe which transfers into the car!

9.  If you have kids that must wear roller skates, ride a scooter/skate board or even a bike make them risk it in the middle of the street with the drivers not paying attention to their driving and more to the Whoville exhibit.  I would much rather them get hit from behind than me or my small children.

8.  If you are driving to the area and wish to park and walk the neighborhood, please pay attention to where you friggin’ park.  Seriously? Parking right in front of the house with the Charlie Brown Christmas exhibit works for you?  At least you could pull up six feet and not be blocking Snoopy and the Woodstock!  Really, I saw a whole family in a mini-van do this two nights ago.

7.  If you are going to partake of the goodies supplied by the local kids, give them a buck and pack out your trash!

6.  Don’t allow your kids to play tag in the sea of cool inflatable Christmas characters.  Someone is going to trip over the tie downs and get hurt and somehow it becomes the owner of the house fault.  Again, another true story only in Southern California my friends.  Now you know why Gloria Allred is so successful!

5. Why does someone feel compelled that as long as it is dark outside that it is OK to wear jammies.  It is 6:30 pm, it is not even prime time TV time yet. This goes along with my whole thing with middle-aged women not wearing jammies in public.  

4. You are not cool cruising up and down the streets standing up through your sunroof texting!  What do you think this is? South Beach? Jersey Shore? The only thing that is out looking at Christmas lights are annoyed husbands, grumpy grandparents, screaming kids and frumpy housewives. 

3. Be mindful that there are others wanting to walk along the same sidewalk as you.  So stopping in the middle of the sidewalk while texting, attending to a needed item within your stroller or adjusting yourself is considered rude and it holds everyone hostage to your narcissism. 

2. If you chose to drive instead of walk, turn off your headlights, everyone’s retinas will thank you!

 1. Parents when you let your kids get hopped on Starbucks and then they are running a muck and smack into me or my small child, do not get testy with me when I “accidentally” push them into a bush to slow them down. “Opps, I guess little Timmy should have been more careful on where he was going!  That bush just came out of no where!”

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Well, I am back, and Top Ten Tuesday’s will be kicked back into gear with one of my favorite holiday past times, Cyber Mondays!  Thanks to the Idiot, he was the inspiration of this post.  My experience was a polar opposite of his. There were no error messages or having to toss the computer around.  However, there was a ton of chain-smoking and caffeine involved!

Need I Say More?

Black Friday- Really People Enjoy This?Need I Say More?

                                                                                                                                               VS.

Nothing but a Zen Moment!

10.  No one has to get up after eating turkey the day prior at some ungodly hour (2 am) and have to load up on a huge amount to of caffeine to try to counter act the tryptophan effect!

9.  You are not having to stand obscenely close to strangers that smell funny.  Trust me, what Thanksgiving meals do to some people should never be relived, especially in a “boob to back line”!

8.  You get to stay home in the comfort of your jammies and look stupid doing it, but no one cares.  Seriously people! If you have time to put make up on, you have time to put some friggin’ normal clothes on! Jammies only look cute on 2 year olds, not middle-aged women.

7. The only risk of injury is carpel tunnel, not being trampled to death by an obsessive mob wanting the one of three dancing Mickey Mouse dolls, that will only drive you crazy after the first hour of the box being opened.

6. Coffee always tastes better at home.

5. I can be at my favorite ten stores at the same time!

4. I can yell at my kids with “Leave Mommy alone, go play!” and, ” Don’t bother me, Mommy is shopping right now!” without anyone giving me the evil eye of my bad parenting moment.

3. I don’t have to worry about the risk of my kiddos finding out  what “Santa” gets them. It comes to my door in a box and goes straight to the attic until Christmas Eve wrap-a-thone!

2. I am guaranteed not having to schlep all the gifts for out-of-town friends and family to the post office, stand in line for most of the holiday season and pay an enormous shipping fee.  With one click of the mouse that whole experience fades away and it is always free shipping!

1.  The only holiday season a–holes I have to deal with are the over exhausted, but very attractive UPS/FED EX drivers, which a plate of cookies and bottled water  remedies any ill feeling towards my address.

Happy holidays to all your fantastic blog buddies!

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As promised I am posting part two of the Halloween disaster at Disneyland  from a couple of weeks ago.   So let me jump right on in!   As you all know I have a two and half-year old and a fourteen month old.  That pretty much limits the “appropriate rides” for the family.  Since it was pouring out, I was a drowned rat, and I refused to purchase a poncho, we were very limited.  We found ourselves in the area that had the fairytale character rides, like Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, Dumbo, the Merry-go-Round etc.  That seemed harmless right?

PD1 loves all of those characters, yet I really have not let her watch any of the movies ( that should have been my first red flag). We thought we were the cat’s pajamas of parents sticking close to such “appropriate rides”  We get in line for Snow White and I may  have been on it before, but I did not remember it.  There was nothing indicating that this could be the possible worse idea that this should be considered an “appropriate ride”. . . well that is if I would have looked around and saw that there were no other kids in line under the age of ten! 

We load up in the car and off we go.  It starts out a little spooky, but nothing that would alarm PD1, then the ride takes a turn for the worst and the witch pops out at you around a corner and it all goes down hill from there.  I thought she was going to claw the hubs to death trying to get inside his rain jacket and she just kept saying, “Scary Snow White!”  The ride was finally over and she was in tears and needed to be talked down off the ledge.  We think another ride that will distract her, so we head to Peter Pan!

Now this ride was not as bad as Snow White, but seriously, PD1 was not convinced. She was just waiting in terror for that crummy witch to pop out at her again.  There was more tears and talking off ledges.

We finally decided that this whole fairytale land is for the birds so we decide to go to Pirates of the Caribbean.  We are convinced that she will love the music and the dancing pirates.  OK, I know by now each one of you reading this is screaming at me, “You are the stupidest parent on the face of the earth!”  Yes, I will own our stupidity.  One quarter the way through Pirate’s I looked over at the hubs who was holding our child’s head in his chest as she is not just crying, but sobbing, and saying over and over, “I want to go home mommy, I want to go home daddy”.  That is when I said to him, “Just so you know, we suck as parents!”  He nodded in full agreement.  We both just held our breath begging for the ride to get over so our little one will only have a week of night terrors not a life time. 

On our way back to Dumbo, a total safe option, we had to work our way by the Haunted House, due to the friggin’ trick or treat lines from hell.  Of course we would!  Why not have to walk right by the scariest part of the park after we just scared the piss out of our child and probably permanently scared her for the rest of her life.  That was another talk off the ledge moment. 

Finally we got to Dumbo and the Merry-go-Round and my thought was to ride those puppies as many times as we could. I was trying to do a “Superman” of reversing the past’s damage.  No, that did not work, that only worked for Superman.   We now have to have a night-light, the star turtle and the door open.  This was a child that could sleep in a cave before this little adventure to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Like I said before, we sucked as parents that day. The only “Happiest Place on Earth”establishment I am going to venture into for a while is Costco!

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Now that the weather is changing to have excuses to grab that ol’ Snuggie, comfort goodies and get cozy on the couch with good flicks, I wanted to incorporate my favorite top ten most favorite movies for my Top Ten Tuesday. Hopefully this will either  remind you of a good flick or introduce you to one.   I have a list that should appease most everyone from romantic comedy to action packed, including a couple must see movies during the holidays!  I included the trailers to maximize the relive or introduction moment! Enjoy!

10.)   Love Actually – Ok, so it is number 10, but it is a must see and one of the best love-happy movies I have ever seen.  I watch this while decorating my Christmas Tree each year!  Even the hubs likes this movie!

9.)  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – I can relate to this movie more than you know and I may be reenacting the “F—ing scene” this Turkey Day while I am at the Alamo car rental kiosk when visiting Colorado based family.

8.) Tommy Boy – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie.  There is not a scene that I don’t think is hilarious and is a movie that makes me miss Chris Farley very much.

7.)  Pride and Prejudice/Juno (they have to share because they rate exactly the same and tied for this spot) –  Let’s start with Pride and Prejudice– I know some of you would think it is a yawn, but I just love it.  Elizabeth Bennett reminds me of how I think I would have been during that time period. I also love the family dynamic and the father, played by Donald Sutherland, is just a warm and hilarious character that I adore  This is the ONLY Jane Austen movie I like.

Juno- Seriously, this movie rocks.  I love the lines, the story of how this screenplay came about and most of all the family dynamic.  I love how everyone handled this “garbage dump of a situation”.  I hope that if I am ever faced with this type of problem with my girls I will use this movie as an inspiration.

6.) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – OK, this is my life to a T during the holidays.  We must watch this at lest three times during the holidays.  I have many of these lines memorized and actually use during the season!

5.) Fargo – I love a good “dark” movie.  Yes, it is a bit disturbing because it is based on a true story, but it is an amazing flick!

4.) Christmas Story –  If you don’t like this movie, something is very wrong with you and we can’t be in the same social circle.  I look forward to the holidays for this specific movie.  I have no idea how many times I see this every holiday season since we leave it on in the background starting Christmas Eve and all day Christmas Day via TBS’s 24- hours of a Christmas Story. 

3.) Pulp Fiction – This made the top three.  It is a bit on the raw violence side, but it is an amazing movie.  The “bring out the gimp” scene s a bit distrubing to me, but that is what the FF button is for.  The one thing I noticed, is that this movie does not have a specific score behind the scenes. You know that this is a movie that has legs when you don’t have to have a score for scenes!  

2.) Steel Magnolias – I know, a total chick flick, but anytime I see this on, I stop what I am doing and watch it . . . and yes cry like a baby each and every time.  Shirley Maclain and Olympia Dukakis are my favorite characters in this movie.  I actually love the quote by Olympia Dukakis said to Dolly Parton, “You know what they say, If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me!”  That is usually how I open each “gossip girl’s night out”. 

1.) Shawshank Redemption – I can’t tell you how much I love this movie.  This movie speaks for itself and that is why it is number 1! 

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It was a dark and stormy afternoon, this past Tuesday, as we headed out to the “Happiest Place on Earth”  for their special Halloween celebration.   When I woke up Tuesday morning it was raining, not just raining, but pouring!  The kind of pouring that Texans call, ” a cow pissin’ on a flat rock” pouring.   I live in Southern California, the only worry we have in October are wildfires, not rain, thunder, lightning and hail. 

With the weather the way it was and the forecast showing it only gettng worse,  I called Disney to see if we could get a rain check since I had purchased these tickets for the family in advance for this particular day.  They nearly laughed me off the phone and pretty much told me that I could buy a poncho from one of the many gift shops and to pretty much suck it up.  So we packed up the kids and headed to the Happiest Place on Earth. 

When we got there, we loaded the kids up in the double stroller and put their rain coats on.  We headed out of the parking structure, which is conveniently located about a mile from the park entrance.  You can take a tram from the parking structure, but that would mean we would have to break down the stroller and all its contents (I tend to over pack when on outings so my stroller usually looks like a yak or sherpa heading to base camp of Everest).   It was only a light drizzle so we decided to “go for it”.   About three minutes into the walk, the heavens open up and we get soaked. It is raining cats and dogs!  I have PD1 holding a unbrella and trying to referee her from stabbing her sister in the eye with the umbrella spokes that is sitting behind her.   While trying to do that, I am not paying attention to where I am going and walk through puddles that could support a school of fish. 

We finally get to the gates, I am soaked, the hubs is soaked, but the kids are fairly comfortable and dry.  As we enter through the security portion of the entrance the Disney staff, must have taken pity on my “drowned rat cat” appearance and did not force the issue.

As we head in there are a million people there!  How could this be? It is pouring! Are there this many people as cheap and dumb as me to insisting on going to Disneyland in the rain?  Everyone is wearing those infamous ponchos that the customer service rep told me about.  I refused to not get one out of principal, which the only person it hurt was me, my rain jacket lost it luster of holding back the rain about an hour into the adventure.

While navigating through the park and you combine strollers, rain, people in ponchos and people texting, you are in the making of a huge disaster of pending foot, leg, hip, arm, back , neck and most of all butt injuries. The butt injuries are the most common because when someone is stupid enough to be pushing a stroller in the rain, while wearing a poncho that they can’t see in, and trying to text or twitter about how much fun they are NOT having at Disneyland, and they run over you, well lets just say the phone finds a new home.

Finally it is time for some rides!  We unload the kids and head to Dumbo!  The line is pleasantly short and we head into the loading section.  As I am stepping into the pink elephant, I am welcomed with an ice cold drench to the feet.  The friggin’ bottom of the ride if full of water!  Oh great! Just great!  Well, that explains why that ride had a short line.  Shortly after my feet get drenched, they rid the water from each bottom.

After Dumbo we take refuge in the Merrry-Go- Round until the rain lets up.   It is now dark and we head to Small World to only find that it is closed.  Drat! However, there is a long line and at Disneyland long lines usually means something fun and exciting.  I ask a random middle-aged guy standing in line with his family what the line was for, he said, “Candy!”  Candy?  I was puzzled.  I know that during this event Disneyland has stations set up for the kids to go and grab a handful of candy from, but this line was something deserving of meeting Mr. Wonka himself.I pressed the guy a bit further to the details of the “candy” and he said, “It is just candy!”  I could not help but laugh out loud and say, “Seriously, you are waiting in an hour long line, in the rain, for plain Hershey bars?”  He said, “Yes, it is all about the experience, plus they give you a lot of candy for the wait!”  I replied back in my soaken, sassy tone, ” Well, if it is a lot of candy you are looking for,  that is what Costco is for!” He was not amused. 

I kept looking back at the line and it just kept getting longer and longer.  The hubs kept saying that we may be missing something so I again asked a staff member and they verified it was just the candy line.  Those people were insane! They had small children, standing in the rain getting soaked for a few measly candy bars!  The hubs and I both agreed that we would rather have hemroid surgery than be that stupid. 

The evening was full of misfits and odd ordeals.  We managed to NOT stay dry, but we kept our humor and mockery of all the idiots we saw.  We must have rode the Merry-Go-Round and Dumbo a million times and we did manage to traumatized PD1 on two of the rides, which I will address in part two of this series. 

The moral of this story is don’t go to Disneyland ever while it is raining, even if you already have paid for your tickets in advance. You will only be surrounded by stupid, wet and insane people. The smart, dry and sane people stayed home and watched Toy Story and ate candy from Costco.

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