31 October 2010

Weekend in Pictures

Yes, my costume included a foam menorah and lots of messy hot glue.  I burned myself more times than I'd care to admit.

 Werewolf Bar Mitzvah furry scary gloves.

 Mmmmm.  Favorite cookie made with peanut butter M&Ms.

 It's never not cute when he does this.

 Ahh. . .open window days.


 This is where Matt put the Halloween candy so that I could easily find it and hand it out to the trick-or-treaters.  Really, Matt?  Trying to prevent more Butterfinger fugue states?

The Dude and Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.  It was when I saw this picture that I knew with complete certainty that I married someone cooler than me.  And smarter.  Shoot.  At least I'm better than he is at shapes.

A Cookie Recipe from the President?

Three things:

1.  I am not always the most careful of readers.
2. Matt and I (not Mitch, apparently, because we've decided that he's decided that he's a Tea-Partyin' Republican) are Obama lovers.  Yes, still.  And we always get emails from him and his friends.  And they must have my email in their list twice, because I usually get them two at a time.
3.  It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Martha Stewart.  She and I are good friends, and she also emails me pretty regularly.

This afternoon, I logged onto my email [for the 27th time today] and was really confused.  Whoa!  Was the president going to take time on this glorious Halloween to share with me his favorite cookie recipe?  Finally, the democrats are going to stop nagging me to make phone calls and they're going to give me something useful like a new cookie recipe!  And what does Kenan Thompson have to do with anything? 

Then I looked a little closer, and it wasn't nearly as exciting.  Shoot.*

*After approximately five seconds of internet research I learned that Obama's favorite cookie is a chocolate chip one from some diner in Des Moines.**

**What did people do before the internet?

29 October 2010

Fugue State

Here's the thing.  We live on the last block of a dead-end road.  And, as far as trick-or-treaters go, we will only get them if I've forgotten to buy candy.  If I buy candy, however, we will get not a one.  So I buy candy just in case, so that I don't anger any little mutants on the off chance that they will appear at our house in lame-o costumes like "a student" or "a football player" or "a kid."  (Nothing makes me more angry than trick-or-treaters who aren't in costume.  Dress up, dammit!)  Today I told my students that when I get non-costumed trick-or-treaters that I kill them.  I went on to describe the trick-or-treater graveyard in our back yard and to complain about the mess that ensues after killing so many non-costumed candy beggars.  (I'm pretty sure they knew I was joking.)

Okay, so back to the candy.  This year's candy is a Butterfinger trio: classic bars, crisps, and these little snacker things that aren't very good.  And, let's be honest, I only chose a candy that I would like to eat myself.  Or bake with and create special treats for other people.  But really to eat myself.

So in the last 26 hours, I've eaten approximately 7 of these miniatures.  Okay, fine.  I'll deal.  But what I can't deal with is eating miniature candy bars like some sort of zombie.

Tonight, before we got dinner ready, I decided to snack on a miniature Butterfinger Crisp.  Matt told me to stop eating before dinner, so I offered him a bite and we agreed that the candy is quite good (kind of like a Little Debbie Nutty Bar, only better).   

But then I kind of blacked out.  Next thing I knew, I was standing in the kitchen holding a miniature classic Butterfinger--or, shall I say, half of a miniature classic Butterfinger.  I don't even remember getting it out of the bowl or unwrapping it or anything. 

It was a fugue state.  And, when I did some research on the world wide web about fugue states, I discovered:
  • The person in the fugue appears to be functioning normally to other people. However, after the fugue experience, the individual may not be able to recall what happened during the fugue state.
  • Some fugues appear to protect the person from suicidal or homicidal impulses.
Here's what I'm thinking.  My Butterfinger fugue state just saved the lives of some non-costumed trick-or-treaters.

28 October 2010

Boys Becoming Men. . .

I'm getting pretty pumped because this time tomorrow, Matt and I will transform into these two.

Will you excuse me as I fashion a yarmulke from a paper plate and some fabric? 

If you're bored, just listen to the full-length version of my current favorite song.

What are you being for Halloween?

27 October 2010

This and That

1.  True or false?  I ate a Taco Bell chicken crunchwrap while lying in bed this afternoon.  (True.  Sadly, true.)  I have an amazing husband who will bring me Taco Bell in bed.  If that's not love, then I don't know what is.

2. Got a haircut last week.  I think I'm going to start getting semi-annual haircuts instead of just annual haircuts because it just feels so nice!  Plus, now I'm embracing the crazy curly lioness look more, so I'm saving time on blow drying.  Extra minutes of sleep in the morning?  Yes, please.

3. Went to Publix tonight and spent $222.  Eek!  I don't think we have to go back, though, until Thanksgiving, except for maybe more bananas and milk.  Every time we spend a lot of money at the grocery store Matt and I spend the entire drive home talking about how really we're saving money and how much better it is that we're cooking instead of eating out.  And all that's true, but still, $222?  For two people and a dog?

4. The latest issue of Food Network Magazine is so good!  Tonight we made this Thai Chicken Soup and loved it!  It's a good thing, too, because it made like 8 servings (not four like the recipe says--maybe four servings for giants) and we'll be eating it for days.

[Source: Food Network]

5.  Oh, and on Sunday we ate at Umami.  If you're in Savannah, go there.  It's super good and super cheap and has great service and is clean and nice inside.  I would show you pictures of our food, but I can't because Matt shames me when I pull out the camera in public to photograph food.  Also, I was really hungry and may or may not have resembled the Tazmanian Devil when the food came out.  But seriously, go there.

6. Also, every time I think about Umami I laugh because it reminds me of Unagi and then I think about that episode of Friends where Ross kept trying to scare Rachel and Pheobe.  I can't resist a good Ross episode.  (He's the best one.)  Here's the episode, since apparently YouTube won't let me embed Friends videos.  "Chandler. . .I sensed it was you."

7. We're currently very into Boardwalk Empire.  The show is beautiful and has great characters and is written wonderfully and is basically everything you could ever want in a show.  Even if it was terrible, though, I still might keep watching just to listen to Margaret Schroeder's Irish immigrant accent.  Matt and I like to have whole conversations where we talk like her.

8.  It's the end of the quarter at school, which is kind of hellish.  Ugh.  Get here already, Friday afternoon.

9.  Tomorrow my ninth graders will read the end of To Kill a Mockingbird, specifically the part where Bob Ewell tries to kill the kids and Boo Radley saves them.  I love reading that part with them, and I kind of can't wait to watch their faces as they realize what's happening. 

10.  Obama on The Daily Show tonight?  Well, that's almost too much sexy for a room to handle.

26 October 2010

15 Minutes of Fame

Work today kind of made me want to beat my head against a brick wall.  It's as though my students were doing everything in their power to knock me off of the pro-baby wagon, and I was tired, and since it's the end of the quarter, I had approximately one bajillion things to do.


So, imagine just how incredibly super and awesome it was when I came home and saw this.

Basically, Pioneer Woman wants to be me.*

And last week little ol' M Cubed was featured in The Kitchn for Fossil Cookies.  Hell yeah! 

Can I please just quit my job and make cookies and ice cream and take pictures and write about them and have that be my new job?**

* Except that she probably doesn't.
**Jokes.  I do not want to quit my job, especially since with each passing year, the "wanting to beat my head against a brick wall" days are fewer and farther between.

24 October 2010


I still can't decide if I think this commercial is funny or not.

How many lizards has she had sex with?  Gross.


You know how Target is my home away from home?  It's kind of sad, really.  It's just that Target is less than five minutes from our house, and it's nice, and clean, and if I have to get something small (paper towels, cough drops, a new pack of Pilot Precise V Rolling Ball pens), I opt to go there instead of the nearby grocery store, the one that makes me more of a misanthrope with each visit.  So, in short, Target keeps me from hating people.

And when I go to Target, because I have the luxury of time at this point in my life, I'll put that one necessary item in the cart and walk around the entire store looking for a good deal, usually whilst talking on the phone.  My friends and family must think that I actually live in Target, like Natalie Portman lived in a Wal-Mart in that awful movie that I watched once

For the last week and a half, every time I was at Target, I'd walk through the purse section, and look at this bag.  I am usually not a fan of bigger purses, but lately I've been carrying my camera around a lot and I needed more space.  And I liked how this one had all of the compartments and looked all weathered.  It was like I could carry this purse and also ride a motorcycle.

But it was $35, which is, in my opinion, way too much to spend for a Target purse.  But then it went on clearance for $25, which is, in my opinion, still way too much to spend for a Target purse. 

So instead of just buying the purse, I'd put it in my cart, walk around the entire store staring at it and debating the purchase.  I'd run the tag under one of the price scanners to see if there was some kind of miraculous price reduction, and then when there wasn't I'd put it back where I'd found it.

I was beginning to get nervous, though, because this was the only one of its kind at the store.  I was playing fast and loose.

So on Thursday, while walking around and talking to Chloe on the phone, I decided to be cunning and to hide the purse behind a bunch of other purses and turn the tag around so that another shopper might not notice the red clearance tag.  I think Chloe thought I was crazy.  I figured that I would wait until Tuesday (when our Target does all of their markdowns, or so I've been told), and then I'd go back (or I'd be there anyway) and see if the purse was still there and if the price had gone down.  It was farfetched, sure, but I had nothing to lose.

But then Saturday I was at Target again because we were getting low on dishwasher detergent.  I went back to the purse, put it in my cart, and walked around the store talking to Matt's mom and looking at it.  At this point I was about to cave and just pay the $25 for the bag since I was obsessing over it so.

I ran the tag under one of the price scanners just to see


Who's the big winner? 

So now I have a fancy brown fake leather purse from Target.  And tonight I wore a denim jacket. 

Tomorrow I'll be buying a motorcycle.

22 October 2010

Love and Marriage

Me: Do you want me to get you a spoonful of Mandy's Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream?

Matt: Eh.  I'm not really into pumpkin.

Me:  Sometimes I wonder why we even got married.

Matt: So that you could have all of the pumpkin stuff.

Me: Fair enough.

21 October 2010

Jesus Christ Lizard!

Okay, so that year that I was homeschooled I missed a life science course.  I also watched every episode of I Dream of Jeannie.  It's possible, that in missing that course, I also missed out on learning about something that Matt claims everyone's seen and knows about. 

Does everyone know about the basilisk lizard?  I sure didn't, and when Matt showed me this video I laughed for seven full minutes.  Then I said that I was going to put it on the blog and he said that would be dumb because everyone knows what a basilisk is. 

In case you are an ignorant fool like I am, or in case you spent a year of your life being "homeschooled" and missing out on life science, or in case you just need a good laugh, here's the basilisk lizard in action. 


Mandy's Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Man oh man, what's happening to October?  For one, it's almost over.  How did that even happen?  And, two, it's still too warm outside.  It was 81 degrees here today.  Okay, now, don't get me wrong.  Who am I to gripe about weather that's 81 degrees?  Fine.  All I'm sayin' is that a little nip in the air would be welcome.  But, hell, that'll be here soon enough.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the best thing that this warm, balmy October has to offer: pumpkin cheesecake ice cream.

Last year I looked all around for Ben and Jerry's pumpkin cheesecake ice cream, but couldn't find it.  All I could find was some Edy's low-cal garbage.  I tried to jazz it up with cream cheese blondies (and if I remember correctly they were quite good), but still, in the back of my mind, I was craving pumpkin cheesecake ice cream.  So at Thanksgiving we made a pumpkin cheesecake, but I somehow overdosed on Thanksgiving food and so I didn't really get to enjoy it the way I should have.  So, here I found myself, a year later, still craving pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. 

Only, now I own an ice cream maker.  And I also possess some mad ice-cream-makin' skillz.  Yes, that's skillz with a z.  (Pronounced skeals.)  So this one, ladies and gentlemen, is Mandy's Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream. 

What we have here is a pumpkin custard ice cream (the base of which is similar to Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream), cream cheese ribbons, and brown sugar pie crust chunks.  So, don't think for a second that this ice cream is good for you.  It is not.  But that's okay, because each bite is so jam-packed with creamy pumpkiny spicy nutmeggy cinnamonny brown-sugary cream-cheesy goodness that you only need a few bites to be satisfied.  Share the rest. 

Mandy's Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cream Cheese Mixture (for the ribbons)
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese (NOT fat free)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar

Pumpkin Custard Mix
12 ounces pumpkin puree
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar

Pie Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, cut into cubes


In a food processor, blend the ingredients for the cream cheese mixture.  Pulse until fully combined and smooth.  Empty contents into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.

For the pumpkin custard mix, combine the pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a bowl.  In a large saucepan slowly heat 1 1/2 cups of cream with remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  (Do not let it reach a boil.)  Add the egg yolks and stir constantly, not allowing the temperature to exceed 160 degrees.  When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove, and add to the pumpkin mixture.  Stir until completely combined, and chill for an hour or two.

While the two mixes are chilling, combine the dry ingredients for the pie crust (flour, brown sugar, white sugar) in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment.  With the mixer on low, slowly incorporate the butter pieces.  Mix for 1-2 minutes, until butter and dry ingredients reach an almost sandy consistency.  Press mixture into the bottom of a cookie sheet, and bake at 350 until crust is golden brown and slightly crispy.  Allow to cool, and break into chunks.

Once the pumpkin custard mix has chilled, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  In the last 5-10 minutes, add about 1/3 of the cream cheese mix.  Once fully incorporated, transfer to a large bowl.  Fold in the remainder of the cream cheese mix to create cream cheese ribbons throughout the ice cream.  Gently add and mix in half of the pie crust.  Save the other half for topping.

18 October 2010

This and That

1.  Watched The Blind Side the other night.  Caitie had raved about it, and I think it was at that point where she began to seek out a Taco Bell mogul and wear sassy suits.  Anyway, it was on HBO OnDemand and I was tired enough to sit down for two hours, but not so tired that movie narcolepsy would kick in.  Oh, and I cried approximately 785 times. 
2.  Back in the Day Bakery's Cheryl has shared with the world her recipe for Old Fashioned Cupcakes.  They're incredible, and not that hard to make! (Though I couldn't bring myself to add 8 whole cups of sugar to an icing recipe, so mine was a little too liquidy.  In the future, I'll actually halve the recipe, because I'm good at fractions and don't want to get the diabetes.)

3. I love these v-neck shirts from the Gap.  I first bought the green, and then went back for the hot pink.  Then I got the dark heathered grey.  Then the heathered blue.  Then I went back and lost my mind when I bought the white, the fuschia, the purple, the regular dark grey, and the camel.  (On that last trip the shirts were marked down to $3.67/each, so I went a little bananas.)  Apparently, I am completely incapable of moderation.   Also, I don't need tshirts again until 2020.

4. How funny is Mitch's entourage?

5. Grandma Carol, I mailed you something!
6. Found a beautiful cake plate at Macy's yesterday.  Half off?  Yes, please.  Now I just need to make a chocolate cake.  This one will do.

7. Becky got me to watch Freaky Eaters this weekend.  It was. . .freaky.  How is the girl who subsists on cola alone (and not even some specific brand of cola?) even still alive?  I don't get it.
8. I was very, very happy to see the glee club team get eliminated from Amazing Race last night.  If I had to watch them serenade one more cab driver I was going to throw something at the TV, and then Matt would be mad at me for breaking his baby. 
9. Did I ever tell you that I was homeschooled in the sixth grade?  Yeah, my mom (who dropped out of high school) decided that she could do a better job of educating my brother and me than, say, a school full of actual teachers could.  So what happened?  I spent a year eating oatmeal creme pies and jumping on the trampoline.  And I would spend about one day each week doing schoolwork.  I was a little manic even back then, and would be either super focused and organized and hardworking, or lying on the trampoline in a Little Debbie sugar coma.
10.  Matt and Mitch are currently napping on the couch.  I think they're on to something.  G'night!

(This picture has nothing to do with anything.  I just think it's funny.)

16 October 2010

Whoop! Whoop!-ie Pies.

Pumpkin + cream cheese = heaven.  Am I right or am I right?

I think my first exposure to this flavor perfection came when I was in high school, and worked as a shampoo girl at my aunt's salon that was in the same shopping center as the Amish market.  It was during this time that I grew to both love and hate the Amish. 

Pumpkin cream cheese rolls and soft pretzels contributed to the love part.

The cheating on the whole "no electricity" thing + the no buttons thing + the bad haircuts thing + the Nike shoes combined with awful smocks thing contributed to the hate part.  Hell, those same "Amish" are probably reading this on their iphones right now.  Cheaters!

Where was I?

Oh yeah, pumpkin and cream cheese.  The only thing that is better is a cute dog on a couch.

Yeah, dog, I mean you.  (Mitch also reads the blog on his iphone.)

But without further ado, I bring you a birthday treat, the pumpkin and cream cheese whoopie pie.

I know you're dying to have it, so here's the recipe.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (adapted from this recipe)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Lightly grease or line four baking sheets with parchment paper.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Drop by heaping measuring teaspoons onto prepared baking sheets. (A total of 72 cookies are needed for the recipe.)

BAKE for 10 to 13 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

BEAT cream cheese, butter, milk, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy. 

14 October 2010

This and That

1. Jon Stewart is on my list. I'm having trouble, though, deciding which Jon Stewart I like more. This one?

Or this one? Mmmmmmmm.

2. New favorite singer boy: Trent Wagler. I first learned of Trent Wags through Danielle. He and his band, The Steel Wheels, play shows in Harrisonburg (Oh, how I love Harrisonburg. . .) often and she's a big fan. I downloaded what I could of his stuff, and Danielle sent me a few CDs a couple of weeks ago (because she's AWESOME!). They're so fun, and he has such a great voice, and he's cute to boot! Move over, Jon Stewart.

3. Teen Mom is out of control. I can't wait to watch the reunion special. Maybe they'll have social services come in a take little Leah away from Amber for good. My god, I hate that troll.  My eleventh graders may or may not have succeeded in getting me off task today by discussing Teen Mom.  So much to say!

4. Horray for the rescue of the Chilean miners! Between the coverage of the retrieval and the finale of Teen Mom, Tuesday night boasted quite an emotional television lineup.

5. I really, really love reading To Kill a Mockingbird with my students. I mean, saying that you like it is basically like claiming to like The Beatles, since pretty much everyone loves that book, but still. It's so pretty, so perfect. And I have to hold back tears every time during the courtroom scene when the lady tells Scout to stand up because her daddy's passin'. Sigh.

6. I have become a little bit too obsessed with Dear Prudence. Even though I know when her columns will come out, I can't help but to check Slate approximately 789 times per day to check for a bonus column. I pretty much want to be Dear Prudie.

7. Someone's knocked up!

8. It's not me. It's her.

9. Celebrating Cris's birthday tonight. Making pumpkin whoopie pies for the occasion.  Mmmmmmmm.
10.  I get to wear jeans to work tomorrow!  Why is it that that's the most exciting thing that's happened to me all week?

13 October 2010

Happy Birthday to Cris!

I realized not too long ago that we talk about Reilly (Mitch's best dog friend) all the time on the blog, but we never mention Reilly's mom, Cris.  And since today (Oct. 14) is Cris's birthday, it seems only appropriate that I take a few minutes to share with you just how incredible she is.

Cris was Matt's friend first.  She worked with Matt when we first moved to Savannah, seven years ago.   But I stole her.  She's my friend now. (I like to steal Matt's friends and keep them for myself.)  About five years ago Cris and I realized that we both needed a roommate, so we moved into a house together.  I'm pretty sure that all of our neighbors thought that we were lesbians (Particularly the old lady next door, Alma, who I'm pretty sure had sex with Elvis.  Remind me to tell you later about how Alma made me pick figs for her.).  Cris was a great roommate.  She's an even greater friend.

Cris is an actual counselor, and she's a great listener, and she gives great advice.  She's honest and loyal and smart and not afraid to stand up for what she believes is right.  She's open-minded and kind and caring. Cris is more dedicated--to her work, her friends, her family--than anyone I know.  For almost twenty years she's worked at a camp hosted by her church, Camp Moja,  a summer camp for people with developmental disabilities.  Cris is also super organized and adventurous, which means that she's always thinking about and planning her next adventure, whether it's UniverSOUL or kayaking or skydiving or attending random festivals or joining a fantasy football league. 

I think the only bad thing I can say about her is that she has terrible taste in movies.  (Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Cris?  Really?)

The cool thing about being friends with Cris is that it's fun regardless of what's happening.  Of course it's exciting to go to the soul circus, but it's just as fun to sit with her at Taco Bell and talk, or to wander around Target buying things we "need." 

[all pictures stolen from Cris's Facebook page]

It's cheesy to say, but Cris is one of those people who makes everyone around her better.  I'm so fortunate to have been able to steal her from Matt.

Happy birthday, lady!

11 October 2010

Magic Meatballs

I realize the ol' blog has been pretty food heavy lately.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, I am obsessed with food.  You know that statistic about how men think about sex every eight seconds?  Well, I think about food at least that often.  When I'm not thinking about food, I'm sleeping, or thinking about Matt--and the next thing we'll cook together. 

Second, this is a really uneventful time of year for us.  It's not bad, but it's not terribly interesting.  My days consist of getting up way too early, arriving at school twenty minutes later (which actually can be eventful, but I'm not supposed to blog about school), coming home and eating too much, napping, talking to Matt, making dinner, ellipting, and watching television.  I know, I know, it's pretty glamorous.

Finally, Mitch hasn't been blogging much because all he ever wants to do anymore is lie in his dirt spot in the back yard.  He does this for hours a day.  It's really weird.  Also, I'm kind of wishing that he'd choose a more tidy place to lie than a DIRT SPOT, you know, since he sleeps in the bed with us and all.  (Is this an excuse to buy more sheets??)

And the weekends have been pretty quiet, too, since I spend much of my time trying to catch up with stuff around the house: laundry, house cleaning, reorganizing, etc.  Sometimes I'll take on small projects.  This weekend, for example, I was determined to use the meat grinder attachment that I received when I got my KitchenAid mixer.  I've had it for almost two years, and been intimidated by the meat grinder the whole time.  We had some boneless chicken thighs in the freezer, and Matt is grossed out by chicken thighs, so I decided that I would grind them up and make meatballs.

Oh, and remember that my KitchenAid is really old--from the sixties or possibly seventies.  So the attachments are old, too.  My meat grinder attachment is slightly newer than this one.  It looks kind of like a medieval torture device [for chicken].

So I set out to grinding.  It seemed like a good idea at the time (Kind of like how that one time it seemed like a good idea to let Chloe's stroller roll down the hill while I ran beside it.  Sorry about the fall and the busted up face, Sister.  My bad.). 

Now, I'm not squeamish or easily grossed out, but grinding this chicken made me want to puke all over the kitchen.  Not only did I have to squish the chicken down this little hole, but the chicken, as it came out, kept making this wet, lip-smacking, disgusting spitty sound.  It was as though Halloween had come early and I was grinding up human brains.  I'm not really sure why the meat grinding was such a disgusting disaster--perhaps I should have found myself some directions or made sure the blades were sharpened--but I do know that I was about two chicken thighs away from becoming a vegetarian.  I took pictures, but I'll spare you.  Just picture a human brain being pressed through a screen and you'll get the picture.

Anyway, I was thoroughly disgusted by the whole meat grinding endeavor, and didn't even know if I would want to eat the meat because the very thought of it made me squirm.  But then I found this recipe, and decided that it was high time to buck up, to get back up on the horse if you will.

I'm so glad I did.

These meatballs were so good!  Sure, it's a little deceiving to call them chicken meatballs when they have 1/4 lb. of pancetta in them, but I don't care.  I think that the step that really made them incredible was where we broke up Italian bread and soaked the pieces in milk before adding them to the meatball mixture.  The Smitten Kitchen lady, Deb, said that the greatest thing about the meatballs was how they tasted cheesy, even though there was no cheese in them.  She was right.  So, basically, we need to rename these Magic Meatballs.  (Next up: making celery taste like cookies.)

I stole her picture because I forgot to take my own, and because hers is really pretty.

Moral of the story: make yourself some Magic Meatballs, but buy the chicken already ground.

Magic Meatballs (Baked Chicken Meatballs from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 4, or more as appetizers or sliders

3 slices Italian bread, torn into small bits (1 cup)
1/3 cup milk
3 ounces sliced pancetta, finely chopped (you can swap in Canadian Bacon if you can’t find pancetta)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons tomato paste, divided*
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Soak bread in milk in a small bowl until softened, about four minutes.
Cook pancetta, onion, and garlic in one tablespoon oil with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large skillet over medium heat until onion is softened, about 6 minutes. (Alternately, as in “I thought of this after the fact”, I’d bet you could render the pancetta for a couple minutes and cook the onions and garlic in that fat, rather than olive oil.) Cool slightly.
Squeeze bread to remove excess milk, then discard milk. Lightly beat egg in a large bowl, then combine with chicken, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, pancetta mixture, bread, and parsley. Form 12 meatballs and arrange in another 4-sided sheet pan (I used a 9×13 roasting dish).
Stir together remaining tablespoons of tomato paste and oil and brush over meatballs (the paste/oil does not mix in any cohesive manner, but just smoosh it on and run with it) , then bake in upper third of oven until meatballs are just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (though mine took a good 5 minutes longer).
*Smitten Kitchen lady accidentally added a heaping tablespoon of the tomato paste into the meatball mixture the first time she made it, and ended up liking it better than without it. She’d use the tomato paste on top too. It’s good both places.

10 October 2010

Dr. Scholl's Fast Flats

This is not okay.

Will you be purchasing these ($10 for disposable shoes!) during your next Target visit?

What We're Watching

Matt and I are unapologetic TV addicts.  Fortunately for us, the quality of television shows has increased tremendously in the last decade or so, so we can be entertained by smart, beautiful programming.  And then, of course, there's Teen Mom.

Anyway, here's what we've been watching lately:

1.  Football.  This one's more Matt than me.  He watches and I provide commentary.  For example, when one of the refs threw a flag during the Bills game this afternoon, I hollered, "Ooooooh, someone's in trouble!"  Then I fell asleep for four hours.  Oh well.

2.  Boardwalk Empire.  Ooh, what a pretty and smart show!  We are both really enjoying the glimpse into Atlantic City during prohibition.  Martin Scorcese and HBO?  Yes, please.  We're an episode behind, though, because every time we go to watch it I fall asleep.  Oops.  (Also, don't make old timey Omar kill your ass.)

3.  The Office.  The new season of this old favorite has had a really strong start.  I think my favorite little storyline so far has been Pam creating herself an entirely new position.  I just got caught up with The Office because I'd fallen asleep during last week's episode.  Does anyone else think that I might have narcolepsy?

4.  30 Rock.  Another strong start to a season!  There's a special place in my heart for 30 Rock, and I'm still working on getting Matt to dress up as Werewolf Bar Mitzvah for Halloween.  I think the only way I'll get him to do it is to get in a big fight with him that is his fault, and to cry and then say that the only way he can make it up to me is to dress up for Halloween. 

5.  Modern Family.  This might just be my favorite show.  And while all of the characters are wonderful, I think Phil might just be my favorite.  (He's the most like Ross Gellar, I've decided.)

6. Amazing Race.  Even though this season's teams are pretty crappy, we're still watching.  I wish I'd chosen Kev Jumba and his dad, though.  I also wish there was a watermelon face smash on every episode!

7.  Teen Mom.  We've talked about this one a lot, and it's simultaneously the best and worst thing on TV right now.  I can't believe that the next episode is going to be the season finale!  Matt would like to point out that he does not watch this show, because he is above trash like this and prefers high brow entertainment, which you will discover with item number 10.

8.  The News.  I'm a little bit of a news junkie.  My favorite news show is Rachel Maddow.  Watching her show is educational and entertaining, and she's not a maniacal idealogue like some other hosts.  And she has Kent, and she's really tall, so that's good.

9.  Glee.  Just kidding.  We stopped watching that in the middle of last season.  I just couldn't make myself care anymore.

10.  Real World/Road Rules Challenge.  This season takes place in Prague, and the elimination battles happen in the "Gulag". As in, Brandon and Derrick will be facing off in The Gulag. WTF?  What's the next season going to be?  The Challenge: Auschwitz?  There was even a part where the players had to go into a gas chamber to read a clue.  One of the girls mentioned that she shouldn't go into the gas chamber because she has asthma and it would be unhealthy for her.  You know, because gas chambers are only bad for you if you have asthma.  Matt is more invested in this than I am, but I join him in watching it sometimes.  In the absence of Teen Mom, however, this show will serve me well.  It's just horrible enough and entertaining enough to make an hour of ellipting go by in a flash.

What are you watching?  Is there anything out there that we should be watching but aren't?


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