Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Please won't you be my neighbor

Where there is nothing like the holidays to try to get in good with the neighbors. So this year we made some goodie baskets for our immediate neighbors and some Old New Friends

Here is what was included:

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups powdered sugar
7 to 8 tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur

1. Preheat oven to 330°. Butter two 6-cup-capacity loaf pans (or, if making the mini loaves, butter six 2-cup-capacity pans).

2. With an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla; mix until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and cranberries to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed; do not overmix.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.

5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 7 tbsp. Grand Marnier. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tbsp. of liqueur.

6. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. With a thin skewer or long toothpick, poke deep holes in tops of loaves. Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.

7. Let loaves cool completely, then slice and serve, or wrap and freeze.

Spicy Pecans

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 pound pecan halves

PREHEAT the oven to 325

MELT the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey, salt, and cayenne pepper, bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat, and add the pecans to the honey mixture. Stir to mix well. Spread the coated pecans on a sheet pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, possibly more often toward then end. Serve when cooled, first separating any pecans that stuck together.


2 cups milk chocolate and 1 cup semisweet chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter or margarine in large microwaveable bowl. Zap in microwave on medium until chips are melted, about 3-5 minute, stirring once or twice during cooking. Stir in nuts, if desired.

Pour into well-greased 8x8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until set.

I picked up the baskets at the dollar store (Shhhh) They cost a dollar.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Lights

Girl of My Dreams - Jonas Brothers from Scott Reinhold on Vimeo.

This is a house near where we live. Just a street over.

Here is their web site:

Cooper loves going over to watch the show.

Monday, December 8, 2008

like ta-mater, but without the ta

At our last pack meeting they gave each den a box. Not a lot of instructions to go with it, except that we were going to have a cardboard box derby. It was the day I picked up Val from the airport and right before Thanksgiving.

Well, our pack meeting is this coming Thursday, so we had to come up with some kind of design for our car. It is not quite finished yet, it needs some wheels and maybe some lettering on the side, but here is what Cooper and I came up with from the box we were given and garbage around the house.

We did buy some spray paint and some duct tape. Everything else was stuff we had.

It may be Lincoln's halloween costume next year (if it last that long) because he loves it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Minnesota Votes

Here are some of the challenged ballots from the very tight Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

It really is a shame that the Lizard People didn't have the funds or organization to get their message out. Maybe we wouldn't have this mess.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's going to be a crazy week

Tonight Val will fly out to Houston.

Val's stepdad's mom passed away this weekend.

While Val is in Houston we will be having swimming, den meeting, more swimming, pack meeting and all now with the 2 year old in tow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

McCain and Me

Ways I am like John McCain:

  • I am white

  • I have met George Bush

  • I will never be President

  • I didn't really know anything about Sarah Palin before September

Ways I am NOT like John McCain:

  • My wife and I only own one home.

That's right, today it is official. We closed on the house in Minnesota. No just waiting on the money to get wired to Missouri.

Thanks to everyone who has kept us and our housing situation in your thoughts and prayers. We look forward to visiting Monticello sometime and not having a place to stay.

Friday, November 7, 2008

For family far and near that ask about what to get the boys

It is that time of year.

Only 3 weeks until Cooper's Birthday, 7 weeks until Christmas.

I have made wish list on Amazon for both of the boys, you can find them on the right hand side of the blog.

Here is a little information about what both of the boys are into right now.


He is into Legos right now. He especially likes the Lego Agents, but likes all kind of legos. He is also into Indian Jones. He dressed up as Indiana Jones for Halloween and is having a Lego Indiana Jones Birthday party. Right now from Mom and Dad he is getting the first Indiana Jones Movie and a membership to the Lego Brickmaster club for his birthday.

One thing he has been interested in for a while is getting a Venus Flytrap.

He's doing pretty good on clothes, although is always open to unusual socks and could maybe use a hooded sweatshirt.

Christmas this year is going to be all about the Wii. Grandma and Grandpa have already bought the Wii for our family (shhhh) So you will see many items on his wish list that relate to that.


He loves the movie cars and the characters from the movie.

He is into trains and trucks. He also likes legos. We have some arguments over legos in our house.

Oh, and for better or worse he loves Sponge Bob. He sings the theme song (we have Cooper to thank for that).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recommended reading

Hey, everyone, it's Val here. It's been a long time since I've blogged...I've been too busy eating Chad's yummy food!

2 great books that I just read....

1. Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler . This book is incredible. It wasn't what I was expecting. It is about a man who travels the Middle East, trying to trace the Old Testament and the actual historic sites where the events in the Bible took place. It is a good "tour guide" to the region, but it is so much more. The author is Jewish, and he discusses the bigger questions about why the Bible is still important to us today.

2. Better by Atul Gawande. A doctor discusses issues of medicine and life. Very readable and inspiring, especially if you are in the healthcare field...but even if you're not.

1 book that I'm reading...

Listening to Prozac by Peter D. Kramer. This Harvard psychiatrist gives a very interesting history of how psychiatric medicines such as anti-depressants came to be. He grapples with the questions of what mental illness is, and how do we decide whether to use a medication or not for psychological problems. It is a long book, but a page-turner, as was Walking the Bible.

Halloween fun...and more!

Here's some pics of the guys at Halloween. Lincoln was "SuperWhy"and Cooper was Indiana Jones. They went to Mahomet and trick-or-treated with their Illinois buddies. Mommy and Daddy got to have 24 hours or so without kids...thanks Grandma and Grandpa!!

Here's the "more"'s looking like our house will be sold soon. Don't want to say more until the ink is dry.

Broiled Pork Chops with Pineapple Couscous

This was more of a "what do we have around the house" than an actual recipe, but I thought it turned out pretty good.

I used boneless pork chops and for a sauce I used:

Hoisin Sauce (about 1/3 cup)
Lime Juice
Sesame Seed Oil
Minced Garlic
Minced Ginger
Soy Sauce

Salt and peppered the chops and covered in sauce. Broiled, turning and basting periodically.

If I was making this recipe again I would probably try adding some chopped scallions to the sauce.

For the couscous I had a can of pineapples (used some for calzones the other night), which gave me about a cup of pineapple juice. Used water to get to 2 cups. Boiled that mixture, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup couscous (ours was whole wheat)

Took about 20 minutes to absorb to which I then added the pineapple chunks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election update

Maybe I am the only one who finds this funny, but this is my mock up of an actual sign I saw at our polling place today.

"If you don't vote, you're a moron"

(HT: Cindy)

Happy election day. Remember that if you vote you can also get free coffee, doughnut, and ice cream.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

my new, favorite Christian music based podcast

Recently I went back to Minnesota to take care of the house up there.

Had a talk with my pastor about church and such.

I told him we found a church that we are probably going to be attending. And I told him that the service we attend they sing hymns. My wife and I like hymns.

He asked, "Do you listen to hymns on the radio?"

To which I said, "Well I don't listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio."

Now, thanks to my wife I've found my new, favorite Christian music based podcast.

It's called The Bored-Again Christian. And so far we listen to one podcast on our drive back from Illinois and I am hooked.

It is entertaining and it has started to introduce me to an eclectic mix of Christian music. I didn't fall in love with every song, but I did fall in love with a couple. I've already bought one on iTunes.

So for those of us looking for something beyond Chris Tomlin and Jeremy Camp, I have found it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chicken and Vegetable Tostadas

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
12 ounces chicken breast tenders
1 cup chopped red onion (about 1)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears) (I used canned corn)
1 cup chopped zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup green salsa (I used hot salsa, gave it a kick
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat broiler.

Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring well. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over chicken. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 3 minutes. Add onion, corn, and zucchini to pan; sauté for 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in salsa and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Working with 2 tortillas at a time, arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon about 3/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla; sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup cheese. Broil an additional 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese. Sprinkle each serving with about 3/4 teaspoon of remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Holidays

Some reasons why it isn't even Halloween and I am looking forward to Christmas.

  1. It has been a long year. With the move, the house still for sale in MN and all the real life things that have come along with that it will be nice for that holiday spirit to roll into town.

  2. The move was tougher on Cooper than I had anticipated and I am excited for him to have something to really look forward to.

  3. I got 50 sticks to earn Christmas money this year and I am looking forward to seeing that pay off on Christmas morning.

  4. I already have Christmas presents stashed around the house.

  5. Looking forward to care free time with the family.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chad's pomegranate margarita

1 shot simple syrup
1 shot tequila
1 shot triple sec
1 shot lime juice
2 shots pomegranate juice

combine ingredients in shaker with ice and shake. serve over ice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

a note from "Real" America

So recently there has been talk about the "Real" America and the "Real" Virginia and so on.

So today I am going to step up and tell you something about what is real and not real. I don't care who it upsets. I don't care what your views are I am going to declare it loud and proud.


There, I said. And I'm not going to do some back peddling announcement on CNN to try please those who put beans in their chili that I didn't really mean it. I said it and I mean it.

And for heavens sake, it sure as heck isn't served over spaghetti.

Here in "Real" America we call that spaghetti sauce.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Even with kids it's a tight election

So Cooper saw the Nickelodeon Kid's Pick the President and wanted to vote. So his voice was heard in this Nickelodeon election.

It seems like even with the kids this is a tight race.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

General Tsao's Chicken

So this one is not from Cooking Light, but if you are like me and your favorite when you go to visit [insert favorite local chinese restaurant here] is General Tsao's Chicken, I think this is a pretty good recipe.


1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup hot chicken broth

1 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (MSG) I did not add this

3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 egg

1 cup cornstarch

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups chopped green onions

16 chile peppers, sun-dried I used pepper mix, like crushed red peppers

I also put in some steamed broccoli

To Make Sauce: In a large bowl combine 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Mix together. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, 1/4 cup soy sauce and white wine vinegar. Then add chicken broth and monosodium glutamate and stir all together until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until needed.

To Prepare Chicken: In a separate bowl, combine chicken, 1/2 cup soy sauce and white pepper. Stir in egg. Add 1 cup cornstarch and stir until chicken is evenly coated. Add oil to help separate chicken pieces.don't need to add oil Divide chicken into small quantities and deep fry at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To Make Mixture: Place a small amount of oil in wok and heat until wok is hot. Add scallions and dried chile peppers and stir-fry briefly. Remove sauce from refrigerator and stir. Add sauce to wok. Then add fried chicken and cook until sauce thickens (add cornstarch or water as needed until sauce is as thick as you like it).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Round 2

It is hard to believe that round 2 of the medical trial is here. In an hour I will check in for the last of the two part study.

36 hours later and 22 sticks later I will be released.

A week and 3 more sticks and I will have completed the study and will be picking up my pay check.

It would be great if on Sunday you prayed for good phlebotomists.

Thanks and see you on the other side.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Balsamic-Glazed Chicken and Bell Pepper Sandwiches on homemade Focaccia

No-Fuss Focaccia


3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for oiling the pan and drizzling the top of the dough
1½ cups (12 oz) warm water

1 tablespoon instant yeast or 4 teaspoons (2 packets) active dry yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

3¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour

Italian seasoning or dried herbs of your choice, for topping

Oil well a 9- x 2-inch-deep round or a 9- x 13-inch rectangular pan.

Combine the water with the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the oil, salt and flour and beat on high speed for 60 seconds. Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan with a dry towel and let it rise at room temperature until it becomes puffy, 60 minutes for instant yeast or 90 minutes for active dry yeast.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Drizzle dough lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake the bread until it is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes (depending on which size pan you put it in). Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature

Balsamic-Glazed Chicken and Bell Pepper Sandwiches


4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 1/4 pounds chicken breast tenders

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, divided

2 cups red bell pepper strips (about 2 medium)

2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1 large)

2 (8-ounce) loaves focaccia bread, cut in half horizontally (I homemade worked great)

4 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over chicken. Add chicken to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Add 1/4 cup vinegar; cook 2 minutes or until chicken is done and vinegar is syrupy. Remove chicken mixture from the pan; cover and keep warm. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

Return pan to medium-high heat; add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add bell pepper and onion; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 cup vinegar; cook 1 minute or until vinegar is syrupy.

Arrange chicken mixture evenly over bottom halves of bread; top with bell pepper mixture. Arrange cheese over pepper mixture, and sprinkle with black pepper. Top with top halves of bread. Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; let stand 5 minutes. Cut each sandwich into 6 wedges.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


UPDATE: No offense against your blog, I mean I really like your blog

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

This is another Cooking Light recipe.

I couldn't find boneless, skinless thighs, so I had to make them boneless, skinless myself. It wasn't too bad, but certainly adds a little prep.

The recipe has 321 calories per serving, so not too bad.

A serving consist of 2 thighs. Your milage may vary.


2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Cooking spray

6 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cider vinegar


Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Only saw part of the debate last night. This pretty much sums it up.

(HT: texas in africa

Friday, September 26, 2008

north and south

Val has headed south to be with a friend, I am in Minnesota to take care of some stuff around the house. The plants need some major care. Otherwise some cleaning and light decorating.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thinking and praying...

Please be in prayer for my dear friend, Melissa. Her 8 month old baby just died of SIDS. I'm going to visit her in Texas this weekend.

The following poem was on my grandmother's fridge for many years. Hope it inspires someone out there, even when things get tough.

Delight In Simple Things

Learn to like what does not cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like people, even those who may be very different from you.
Learn to shelter your family with love, comfort and peace.
Learn to keep your wants simple.
Refuse to be owned and anchored by things and opinions of others.
Learn to like the sunrise and the sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, the gentle fall of snow in winter.
Learn to hold heaven near and dear.
Learn to love God for He surely loves you.

~ Anonymous

half way there

So today I had my last blood draw for Phase 1.

I get to do the whole thing one more time and I am done.

We had told Cooper about me going to do the medical study and I told him I was doing it to have money for Christmas. Well Cooper really wants a Wii. We had looked at the price before when he was wondering how much they would cost so he had an idea what a Wii cost.

When I came home he asked how much I would be getting paid. I told him that when it's done it pays a thousand dollars to which he said, "You can keep some of it dad, a Wii doesn't cost that much."