N - I - N - E. How? Why? Who the, huh?
I love you, Ben.
Here's just one reason why: Ben likes his hair long (no, that's not the reason, just context for this story, smarty pants). Like in this photo...
See? For a Cruze, he's pretty much a hippie. When it recently got out of control bushy I told him it was time for a trim. I met him in the bathroom with the clippers and proceeded to give him a reasonable cut...not too short, but off of his ears. He liked it. Then I took the guard off of the clippers to trim around his neck (see where this is going?). Then I noticed a group of stray long hairs over one ear. "Oh, let me just get these real quick..." BUZZzzz. Gasp of horror. Oh no, oh no, I forgot I took the guard off. In an attempt to take care of a few stray whisps I had sheared a 1x2 inch patch off the side of his head practically down to the scalp. I felt terrible. I had mutilated his hair. I grieved. Not because I care for his hairy look, but because I know he does and I robbed him of it. Straight away I dove into repeated sincere apologies and prepared for his inevitable tears of disappointment. But instead, the best part of Ben shone through. He didn't let a scowl cross his brow or a sour note enter his voice as he over and over assured me, "It's okay, Mom. It was just an accident." I babbled about the possible options (walk around with a bald patch until it grew in a bit better or shave his whole head super-close), Scott came on the scene and said he thought he could give Ben a close cut, but blend it in and not have to shave his whole head. Ben was optimistic and said that sounded good. Scott fixed my mistake, you could no longer notice the bald patch, and worked out an over all nice haircut. But, no bones about it, it was short. Really, really short. But not a word of bitterness, not a protruding lower lip to be found from our Ben. Although I know he would much preferred his usual shaggy do, he had nothing but good things to say about his new crew cut. "I really like it. Thanks, Dad. Don't worry, Mom. See? I think it looks great! I don't mind at all. In fact, I kind of like my hair short now." I love him because I know he was more worried about my feelings than he was about his hair.
Bonus (for me): we spent all day Thursday fall cleaning. The kids liberated every area of their rooms that had been burdened with junk (under the beds, that little space between the dresser and the wall, closets...tops of dressers saw the light of day for the first time in months).
Bonus (for the kids): the triplets came and stayed all day Friday with us and spent the night. The weather was perfect and they spent hours outside building forts and homes and neatly placed piles of foliage from around the yard. Emma painted everyone's face with her homemade face-painting kit. It really was the best kind of day. Just the break we needed to get us through till Thanksgiving.
Stacey H. of Nashville (so sorry Stacey T. of Knoxville), who said:
you crafty gal! i love the pear snack baggie. too cute. And KUDOS to you for starting the shop.....if it were mine, it'd all be flawed ;) the other Stacey, who used to live in K-town but now lives in Nashvegas
I'll email you to get your address.
Thanks for playing along everyone. Look for more reject-giveaways sure to be coming soon!
(Just a small giveaway, but a giveaway nonetheless.)
Let's kick off the week with some fun.
Snack bags are fun, right?
I want to find a good home for these two (originally intended for the shop) that have very minor cosmetic flaws.
See here? A dot from a sharpie.
And the thread kind of went crazy and got all bunched up here. I trimmed away a lot, but it still looks a little messy.
And on this one, I had a bunched-up thread issue as well. I was able to pick all the thread out, but it left a little hole. Not a big deal, but not quite sell-able, you know?
Leave a comment, whatever kind you like, and I'll pick one at random on Thursday evening at 9pm, and I'll send you the snack bags on Friday, and you can keep your snacks or your kids' snacks or your nieces' snacks or if somebody's gogos in them and I'll finish this run-on sentence sometime on Saturday, well, I won't really have time with all the soccer and football games so I may as well just finish it now as soon as I get to the word turkey. Oh, there it was. I guess that's it.
P.S. If you link to the giveaway on your blog or facebook you may enter two comments (double your chances of winning glory!)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a 6-quart slow cooker.
Add the chickpeas, squash, chard stems (not the leaves), the parmesan rind, if using, 2 teaspoons salt and 7 cups water to the slow cooker. Stir, then cover and cook on low, 8 hours.
Just before serving, lift the lid and stir in the chard leaves; cover and continue cooking 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to slightly break up the squash. Discard the Parmesan rind, if used. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the grated parmesan, if desired, and serve with bread and/or lemon wedges.
Afton: wouldn't even give it a chance
Josh and Lydia: gross
Emma and Mom: good, but a little spicy...next time skip the red pepper flakes
Scott and Ben: perfect
This was a good one for a busy afternoon because you're done making it by 9am because it crockpots for 8 hours
Grilled Chicken Taco Pizzas (the beautiful photo is not coming up on their webpage, just imagine the most delicious-looking pizza ever)
For the Taco Seasoning:
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Pizzas:
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 16-ounce tube pizza dough
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. diced red onion
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
Make the taco seasoning: Mix all of the ingredients with 1 tablespoon each salt and black pepper in a bowl.
Prepare the pizza: Mix 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning and the canola oil in a shallow bowl. Pound the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Add the chicken to the bowl, turning to coat, and marinate 30 minutes.
Preheat a grill to medium high. Grill the chicken until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let cool, then cut into bite-size pieces.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Roll out each on a floured surface into an 8-inch round. Brush with canola oil, sprinkle with taco seasoning and grill until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes per side; remove from the grill.
Mix the cheeses in a bowl, then sprinkle on the crusts and top with the chicken. Return the pizzas to the grill,
and cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the avocado, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, red onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Top the pizzas with the avocado mixture, salsa, sour cream and cilantro.
Emma, Ben, Josh, Lydia, Afton: very good
Lori: can't stop swooning over the most delicious pizza she's ever eaten
Scott: LOVED it, especially the chicken, and he never loves chicken
We topped it with Scott's homemade salsa and wanted to die it was so good.
1/4 pound thinly sliced ham, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices sourdough bread, torn into pieces (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
8 large eggs
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Whisk the half-and-half, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste in a small bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until just softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers; cook until the peppers are soft and the shallots are golden, 5 to 6 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, ham, bread, parsley and 1/4 cup water and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat.
Make 8 evenly spaced indentations in the bread mixture with the bottom of a ladle or small measuring cup. Crack an egg into each indentation. Slowly pour the half-and-half mixture over the eggs. Bake, rotating the skillet a few times, until the whites are set, about 15 minutes. Top with parsley.
Afton and Lydia: well, they never like anything except pizza and spaghetti
Josh, Ben, Emma: loved it
Lori: loved it even more
Scott: loved everything about it except for the soggy bread...we'll try skipping it next time
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this week. More than usual. I also took way more photos of food than I ever have. I think it was because I got a lot of joy from my kitchen-time this week. So I wanted to thank it by doing a whole post about food.
I like baking. But it is low on the priority list, so I don't do it as often as I'd like. Maybe I need to move it up. (It gives me a chance to wear an apron.)
The cub scouts needed some volunteers to bring in fall-ish refreshments for the pack meeting this week. Yessss, a perfect excuse to make the quintessential embodiment of fall deliciousness: pumpkin muffins. The kind whose smell is sensory-hardwired to crisp air, cardigans, blindingly bright colored leaves, and the anticipation of the fourth quarter holidays. The kind I don't believe I've gone a single one of my 31 autumns without. The kind I always thought were totally healthy when I was growing up because you know--"pumpkin." I remember still the first time I made them in married life and realized why they are oh-so-delicious. It's because they're not healthy. At all. The first ingredient? 4 1/2 cups of sugar. (Worth it.)
Later that night, after Ben advanced to Bear (hooray!), I helped mostly watched Scott make his famous salsa. Mmmm. Have you ever had it? My favorite thing about making this salsa (or just being in the same room while it's being made) is the way each ingredient smells like heaven while it's being diced. Cilantro, tomatoes, pineapple...wave after wave of olfactory bliss.
One of the perks of Scott's job is that he brings home the Food Network magazine all the time. Typically I don't get too excited about dinner. The part I hate is just deciding what to have. Same-old-thing-itis. But when I'm making something new/fancy it bring more joy into dinner prep. Three of this weeks meals were from the good pages of FNM, and each one was a hit. I photographed this grilled chicken (which went on a pizza) because it overpowered me with deliciousness.
Then. This morning I was cutting up a butternut squash to go in a slow-cooker soup. Starting dinner at 8:30am was atypical. And wonderful. The open window brought a perfect cold breeze and fresh feeling. It also brought in a bright beam of sunlight from the still-rising sun. While in the middle of my task, I was distracted by the brilliance of that sunbeam hitting the saturated yellow-orange of the squash's flesh. Laugh, if you must, at me for taking a hundred photos of a squash. I couldn't help it. I can't wait till dinner.
"Mom, are we doing anything tonight?" "Mom, I'm still hungry." "Mom, when I grow up I want to be the ninja of fighting and stealth." "Mom, what if the whole world is just a giant pop-up book?" "Mom, why do we don't have any flying stuff?"