Saturday, July 28, 2012

Caesar Pizza

We had such a fabulous time yesterday evening at our Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics Party. Good food, friends, pageantry, laughter, tears - Olympic rings made of doughnuts. It was a magical evening!

Okay, I'm lying. That is what I wish the evening had been, if I had enough mental energy to plan an Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics Party. There were no friends. The food was good, but it was re-heated Moroccan stew, not party fare. Simon, despite my great hopes, had no interest in the ceremonies whatsoever. I found myself - a reading teacher - saying to my child, "Put down your book and pay attention to the television!" The baby was crying, the air conditioning was not keeping up with the ridiculous heat. It was not epic.

In some distant, misty memory I used to throw parties. One year for the season premier of Lost, I threw a fabulous party complete with tiny bottles of Oceanic Airlines liquor, buckets of Mr. Cluck's chicken, and fish biscuit shaped cookies for dessert (if you didn't watch Lost, that may not sound cool, but if you did watch Lost, you get how awesome that was). After reading a Civil War novel, I had my book club over for an authentic Civil War meal, complete with johnny cakes and the best beans you have ever tasted. I threw a tea party once that was so fabulously decked in flowers and dripping with tiny sandwiches that it rivaled high tea at the best hotels.

My party days are not completely over, I guess, since I am currently planning one. It is a Batman themed party for my three year old at which a naturalist will be showing the kids a variety of creepy, crawly insects (bat food - get it?).  Not exactly in the same vein as my former bashes, but I will try to make it equally epic. The times, they are a changin'.

Here is a throw back to a New Year's Eve party of yore - one of my favorite Pillsbury recipes. This is what you would get if your favorite Caesar salad hooked up with a light, flaky pizza bianca to produce the perfect appetizer baby. Salty bacon, creamy dressing, flaky crust, crisp veggies. Oh, yeah, bring on the party.

Caesar Pizza
2 cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Caesar dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
3/4 cup coarsly chopped broccoli
1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
 1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 tbsp chopped cooked bacon
3 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Open both cans of rolls; unroll dough onto a rectangular sheet pan. Press the dough firmly to the sides  and bottom of the pan for form the crust (be sure to pinch along the perforations to seal them. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. Cool completely. 
2. Mix the cream cheese and 1/2 of the dressing in a small bowl; spread over the cooled crust. Sprinkle with  lettuce, broccoli, chicken, carrot, bacon and parmesan. Drizzle with remaining dressing. 
May be refrigerated up to 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hot Water Cornbread

Here are a few things I cannot do:
1. Have potato chips in my house (because I have no self control and will eat the whole bag - yes, the whole bag - in one sitting)
2. Ride roller coasters (because I am olderish and no longer have the inner ear balance required to keep me from hurling)
3.Be aware of possible side effects

That last one is because I think I am a hypochondriac. Two days ago my neurologist prescribed a new prophylactic medication to treat my migraines. Said medication is a blood pressure medication which also helps with headaches. It is v, v safe for breast feeding mommies. The complication is that I already have so-low-I-verge-on-dead blood pressure. So, the doctor warned me that I might get dizzy, lightheaded, and tired.

Dude, why did you tell me that? Now I am dizzy, lightheaded, and tired and I don't know if it is because of the medicine or because I have talked myself into dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue (admittedly that last one may have something to do with the baby who went to bed at midnight and got up at 4:00). Do I call the doctor to say I am having side effects or do I tell myself to man-up and knock of the psychosomatics?

What, you are thinking to yourself, does any of this have to do with hot water cornbread? Well, nothing, really. Except that I was going to type out a recipe but decided that I am too lightheaded to accurately remember all of the steps so I will instead ramble at you about my medical issues and show you a picture of the hot water cornbread I ate yesterday at Kleer Vu in Murfreesboro.

Oh my gosh, it was so good! I don't actually understand how they make hot water corn bread and I don't want to know. I realize that no matter what recipe or technique I used, mine would never hold a candle to the crisp-on-the-outside, soft-in-the-middle, salty, sweet golden goodness that is Kleer Vu cornbread. Why even try to imitate it when I am a ten minute drive away from enjoying the world's most perfect version next to my plate of ribs, white beans, fried okra, and chess pie?

Back to the whole headache thing. The doctor says that if this doesn't work, I can try one other medication. And if that doesn't work, I can try botox. Seriously, botox. My dad thinks that idea is hilarious because he envisions me unable to make facial expressions like some over the hill Hollywood maven. I just think to myself, as someone who loves to cook and prides myself on the quality of my food, isn't injecting myself with botulinum toxin kind of ironic? Just, please, don't tell me the side effects.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cinnamon Pecan Pull Aparts

My sil posted a great meme the other day. It read, "Pinterest makes me love people I've never met. Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life."

I don't hate anyone on Facebook, but sometimes I get weary of all the political posts - especially as it gets closer to election time. It's not that I don't care about politics - I love politics. It's just that I have friends from both sides, and plenty from the middle, of the political spectrum and few of them seem to be able to play nicely with one another. I love a good, healthy discussion, but disrespect and fighting are not my thing.

This is why I think I should start my own political party based on something everyone can believe in: Cinnamon. We will have no philosophies beyond the belief that cinnamon is good for the soul and can bring people together in sweet, gooey bliss. We shall burn apple cinnamon candles, stir our cider with cinnamon sticks, and grow cinnamon ferns in our gardens. For breakfast we shall serve: Cinnamon Pecan Pull-Apart

Cinnamon Pecan Pull-Apart (a Pillsbury recipe)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp maple flavor
2 cans refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (each roll cut into four pieces)

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients save cinnamon rolls and icing. Add cinnamon roll pieces and stir lightly, just until coated. Spoon the mixture into a greased, fluted pan. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes. After cooling for 10 minutes, turn the pull-apart onto a serving plate. Spread with icing.

 Please check out my brand new Twitter account at

My favorite tweet of the day so far comes from Vanity Fair:

The weekend may almost be over, but we can still dream a little. A look at the best private paradises on Earth

I need a vacation! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer Reading Comes to an End

Today was the last day of the summer reading program at our local library. Simon had to "read" (aka listen to us read) 30 books. He turned in a list of 449 (there were more but we didn't get them all written down).  His favorite of the bunch was a book entitled Squids Will be Squids.

This is a fabulously funny book by one of Simon's favorite authors, Jon Scieszka. It is a parody of Aesop's fables that uses biographic information about that bard to envelope a series of sarcastic, whimsically illustrated fables that appeal to both children and adults.

I had to read 6 books this summer. My actual list included 9 titles.
1. Frederica, Georgette Heyer
2. Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris
3. Jeeves and the Fuedal Spirit, P. G. Wodehouse
4. Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, John Elder Robinson
5. The Color of Water, James McBride
6. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
7. My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier
8. The Convenient Marriage, Georgette Heyer
9. Love Wins, Rob Bell

My favorite was Love Wins, by Rob Bell.

Rob Bell's book purports to be about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Ever Person Who Ever Lived. It delivers. It is a searing look at "traditional" Christian beliefs that questions what some would consider the foundation of conservative American Christianity. It made me think and totally re-examine everything I was taught to believe as a child. I love that kind of book!

Don't forget to follow my new Twitter account at! My favorite tweet of the day so far:

"Drinking red wine could stunt fat-cell growth (woot!), the Journal of Biological Chemistry reports: " Awesome!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ranch Chicken Burgers

Do people ever just annoy the crap out of you? I don't know what kind of crack was in people's coffee this morning, but they have been on my ever loving nerves! I need a chill pill, a bottle of chill juice, and a chill sandwich with chill sauce. Blargh!!!!  At least when people are stupid, there is still good food!

Three reasons you will love this recipe:
1. There are only three ingredients.
2. With chicken and low fat mozerella, it is a low fat alternative to a hamburger
3. The cheese and ranch dressing mix will caramelize in the pan, giving the burger a sweet, crispy crust that will have you licking your plate clean. 

Ranch Chicken Burgers
1 package ranch dressing mix (powder)
1 lbs ground chicken
1 cup low fat mozzarella, shredded

Combine dressing with mix and cheese. Shape into four patties. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. We like ours on a crisp lettuce leaf instead of bread. to find my zen. It may be a long search.

BTW - you can now follow me on Twitter at

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spice Mix for Blackened Fish

During my pregnancy, one of the things I craved the most was fish. Not just any fish, big juicy steaks of salmon, mahi-mahi, and tuna. Since those are no-no fish for pregnant women (due to the possibility of high mercury content), it was a longing unfulfilled. As soon as Julian was born, I started grilling up as much deep sea deliciousness as possible.

One thing I love is blackened salmon - the sweet, flaky salmon - the smokey heat of spices - that's a sexy combo. I found this mix of spices, intended for tilapia, on the Food Network site. I changed it up just a little, in keeping with what I had on hand, and used it to season some beautiful salmon steaks. Perfection!

Spice Mix for Blackened Fish
3 tbsp parika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano

Thursday, July 5, 2012

French Toast Casserole

Sunday was a lovely day - it was a church potluck day. This one was a bit different as it was a breakfast potluck, giving everyone the chance to show off a different set of skills from the normal lunch or dinner on the grounds. I happened to be at my in-laws house when I was making my shopping list and told my mother-in-law that I was planning to make fab friend Lisa's French toast casserole recipe - a delicious custardy bread pudding with praline topping.

Sunday morning is not my forte. Perhaps it is rebellion against my upbringing as a church planter's daughter - being hauled hither and yon across Southern Africa every Sunday of my childhood -  that makes me sluggish and disorganized on the first day of the week. Whatever the cause, I have difficulty being on time for church. Now that I have two children, difficultly has become impossibility. Thus, As a result of being 25 minutes late to the potluck, there was quite a bit of French toast casserole left over. (You would think the promise of food would get me to church faster, but you would think wrong.)

Not wanting to spend all Sunday compromising my diet by stealing bites of pecan encrusted leftovers, I asked my husband to sneak the remains of the casserole into my mil's kitchen while the in-laws were still at church. It was greatly enjoyed, I understand, and my mil asked for the recipe. So, here it is....

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf French bread, cut into 1 inch slices
8 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups half and half

dash of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom

Place bread slices, overlapping, in a buttered 9x13" pan. Mix remaining ingredients just until blended and pour over bread. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

For topping, mix with a hand mixer:

2 sticks softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp dark agave nectar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spread topping over casserole. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

My fil advises that it is even better the second day:)