Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thai One Pot, Homemade Cinnamon Rolls, and my pals

Updated a few things on the ol' blog, like Elora's picture. She's nearly 2, so no more of that baby crap, she's a big girl now!

As many of you know, I live by a mantra: "Screw the holidays! Who needs 'em?! Not me, that's who!" Elora spent her Christmas with Gammy and Papa (Thad's parents) in Colstrip and had a ball playing with her cousin Sophia and Gammy's teacup poodle, Lacy. She got some cool presents, and loved being spoiled.

Mama, on the other hand, spent last week driving her little Elmo-lover to Colstrip on Tuesday, then buckled down and worked Christmas Eve through Boxing Day. It wasn't busy, thank goodness, and I used my idle time getting calls scored for my team, and missing my little munchkin. We spent Christmas Eve with some dear, good friends of ours, Jen and Rick, and Jen’s family. Jen’s family is big and hilarious. Rick entertained us in the kitchen where we grazed on a gigantic spread of desserts and giant crock pots of meatballs and spicy chili cheese dip (and a festive green, red and white version of ranch bread, which I brought), and we drank what I will now consider to be my only light beer of choice, the Silver Bullet. We have made a solemn vow to visit Jen and Rick in Portland in 2009, and now it’s in writing, Jen.

Christmas Day started early for me. I worked all day, and was very pleased that I had the sense to get a few items for dinner at the store the day before. So we had a glorious dinner of BLTs and some Pinot Noir, and tried not to look to forlornly at the tree, wishing for our little girl. I’ll admit that even though I am not a fan of Christmas, it was really hard not to have her home for a holiday I don’t even care for. I masochistically listened to Christmas music on the way to work Christmas Day and cried some tears of self-pity.

On Friday we had such a bad storm that Thad's brother-in-law didn't want to risk the roads to drive home that night, which left me in a total funk. A good example of how bad the roads were would be that I got stuck at the end of my street…. In the snow….. but I was able to wheel and deal my little car out of snow drifts as tall as my knees. But I got home, finally, and headed to Walmart with my husband. We got all the necessary ingredients to make what has now become one of my new favorite dishes: Thai One Pot. I won’t post the whole recipe here, but I will link it here. This recipe calls for radishes. I don’t really eat radishes, so I took the route suggested at the bottom of the recipe: bean sprouts. This recipe also doesn’t have fish sauce, but I like to cut the soy sauce by half and replace the other half with fish sauce. The broth from this combo is the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s awesome, and ridiculously easy, or else I wouldn’t make it.

Saturday morning started early. Cleaning! Staining! Madness! Thad and I worked hard to get surfaces cleaned, vacuumed, washed, and ready. Thad got some really nice old wooden dressers from his grandmother's apartment and had stripped one of them in the basement, so he finished staining that one a really gorgeous dark red mahogany. So I helped him lug it upstairs *flexes muscles* cause I am pretty strong. I did laundry, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, and got things smelling good. Thad did kitchen floor and brushed the dog real good, then vacuumed up all the dog hair in the basement. We had leftover T.O.P. for lunch (even better the next day), and before you know it SHE’S HERE, SHE’S HERE!

Monkey’s home!!!!! She’d just woken up from a nap in the car, and she was actually in a good mood! She saw her Elmo stocking, filled with Elmo and Ernie stuffed dolls, and giggled and giggled! She looooooves Elmo, it’s her favorite thing right now. So we thank everyone for bringing her home and snuggle the child until she’s sick of us (it only took a few minutes), and then we sneak her back into her bedroom so Thad can put the presents under the tree. The minute she sees them she knows what to do. A symphony of paper tearing ensues. She kept getting tape on her hands and watching her pulling it off would send me into fits of laughter because her face gets so serious when she’s trying to get sticky stuff off her fingers.

So she gets all her presents open, and we take them all out of the boxes, and the rest of the day is spent on our stomachs, drawing on her Elmo Aquadoodle, or playing with her new alphabet train set, or trying to make her new robotic Siberian tiger cub growl. I’ll skip through the rest of Saturday, since all it involved was Beef Stroganoff (which was very yum!), bread, and a giant chocolate chip cookie, and bed. The house didn’t feel so empty anymore.

Oooooh, Sunday morning was another early start, because I had to get dough going in the bread machine. Oh, what kind of dough, do you ask? Only dough for the most AWESOME CINNAMON ROLLS EVER! Thad had found a recipe online for a Clone of a Cinnabon, and we decided that this would be good breakfast fare for Jen and Rick’s bon voyage brunch, in addition to biscuits and sausage gravy. Sweet mother, that was one of the best breakfast spreads I’ve ever put out in my life. We stuffed ourselves completely, enjoyed a pitcher of mimosas, and enjoyed the last bit of time we would have before they head West again. Then Sunday night was spent making ravioli and mashed potatoes for a visit from another West Coast homie, Brian. Awww, Brian, I love that we’ve known each other as long as we have and that you take the time to come see Thad and I when you’re here. You may be an L.A. fella now, but you’ll always be the guy with the worst forehead sunburn imaginable to me.

Thad made us a giant amount of stir fry last night, after using my fabulous Christmas present (a real food processor, with suction cups to make it stick to the counter and a cord that can tuck around the base) to slice up a ton of veggies. This is possibly the longest blog I’ve ever written, so I better wind it down. But only after I mention that I’m going to lunch with some work peeps today, and I plan to have a load of laughs with this troop of characters. I typically almost crap my pants from laughter during daily work interactions with these people, so away from work, in the safety of a neighborhood eatery, bedlam may ensue!

I’ll be back with an update of the Make-Your-Own-Sushi party that we’ll be hitting up for New Years. I am so glad to be out of the “going out to bars for New Years” period of my life. I look forward now to being at home and possibly asleep when 2009 rolls in.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hot Chocolate and Getting Toasty

So, I've recently fallen in love with making homemade hot chocolate. It's so easy, and compared to a packet of cocoa the end product never feels "watered down". Here's the recipe, and if you have some peppermint schnapps USE IT, it's like a peppermint mocha cloud of heaven!

Homemade Hot Chocolate
(makes 1 serving, so multiply the numbers below by how many servings you want to make)

1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1 cup milk
vanilla extract (optional)

Combine cocoa powder, sugar, and water in saucepan; whisk together. Heat until mixture begins to bubble (just a couple minutes, as soon as I see it releasing steam I know it's ready), add milk; whisk to stir. Continue to heat until warmed, serve.

Phew! See?! Easy!! And really, it's worth the time at the stove when you have the creamiest cup of hot chocolate in your life. Christ, add some half-and-half and go balls deep into decadence.

Be warned, if you use half-and-half and 101 proof peppermint schnapps you may end up dying a premature death from experiencing too much pleasure at once.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!