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Why would I want TWO baked potatoes?

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And…it’s another Food post!  Haha!

My foodie picture addiction began a few years back after a friend added me to a Facebook food group. The whole group is just a bunch of positive folks who love sharing their delight in cooking, sharing recipes, posting mouth-watering pics, and talking to other food apprecianados. So there you have it.  I’m a food groupie! And I’m proud of it!

Summer holidays have come and gone and it appears every summer holiday is an opportunity to BBQ. Who am I to argue with that? It seems logical.  Summer. Heat.  Grilling. It all goes hand in hand, right? Actually,  the beer goes in hand.  The food…in mouth. But you get the point.

Anyway, chick #3 has been under the weather and chick #2 was beach bound with her buds. That means I get to decide what’s for dinner without the sibling bickering about who likes or dislikes what. It also means the food I make will get eaten. Not left in some reused container, taking up space in the refrigerator.

As I pilfered through the pantry and fridge, I would grab this or that and basically make suggestions to the baby chick. And I began to lay out my assortment, Chick #3 half listening, with her nose in her tablet, responded, “Why would I want 2 baked potatoes?”

Seriously, kid?!

Final Menu: Grilled chicken, baked potato, and summer squash medley.

 

 

 


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

When I saw this topic, I immediately envisioned a variety of ideas that could represent this theme.

We’re connected to one another via technology, media, family, friends, and community. We’re also connected to places through modes of transportation and physical connectors, such as bridges. And a person can feel connected through music, song, books, and arts. There’s literally a million ways people or things are connected.

After pondering the idea, I wanted to share what I feel is one of the strongest connections we should have to one another because without it, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect in other ways.   ~SE

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

90 Years: Can We Ever Make Up For Lost Time?

This past July was my grandmother’s 90th birthday and I was so happy we were able to make the drive from Georgia to Pennsylvania for this special occasion. It was a short and sweet visit but the time spent there, no matter how long, always leaves me longing for home – a home I haven’t been a part of since I was 6 years old but miss dearly.

I can still remember the day mom crammed us into that tiny car. It reminded me of a circus clown car because it literally breathed a sigh of relief when the doors opened and everyone spilled out. Funny how I can remember that uncomfortable trip, sitting all pretzel legged and humped over as we drove from Pennsylvania down the coast to Melbourne, Florida. Our new home.

We never went back. And the family we were torn from became memories of another lifetime. Connections were severed by anger and control. We had no voice. We had no power. We were pawns in an adult game. Yet we were the ones who lost.

I can still feel the hurt and confusion from being whisked away to a hotel so we couldn’t visit with grandma and grandpa. What had we done and why were we being punished?

The years ebbed on. Life went on. And for every beginning there is a heart breaking end.

I was 16 and in the hospital the last time I spoke with my grandpa. Cancer took him before I was old enough to escape from my personal tormenter.

The years of abstinence make it difficult to feel like I have a place in that old life. I’ve missed so much and I see those who are absorbed in it. Who live it. Breathe it everyday. And then there are those who were welcomed back and wonder if I, too, could ever find my way home again.

~SE

Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

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This is a super simple recipe that you can find just about anywhere. “OK, Google…” Btw, I love doing that to my daughter when she’s on her tablet. Hahaha!

Anyway, I had about a 1/2 bag of red potatoes I needed to cook up and some chicken breast I had already defrosted. So I decided to try this out.

Instead of typing out the recipe, I’ve provided a link here: Loaded Baked Potato & Chicken Casserole

The chicks loved this so much that they didn’t leave a single potato for my lunch tomorrow!

Bon appetit!

~SE

Breakfast Skillet

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Sundays for me equate to brunch, family time, and simply relaxing before beginning my normal weekly trek back and forth to work. This past week’s been a doozy, too. The kids went back to school the prior week so that meant last week they were in full school mode. And to top it all off, I was miserable from having a summer allergy/cold. Not much cooking was happening in this house last week. Sorry kids. Fend for yourself. Hahaha!

This morning, after relaxing on the balcony with my coffee, I came back inside to Chick #3 asking if she could make breakfast. She’s standing there, looking at me, while holding a bag of frozen tater tots and I’m like – what are you going to make with those?

Cooking is always a blast with the two of us because she truly enjoys it and is actually a really good cook. Chick #1 cooks, too. Her cooking is hit or miss though. Sorry, Chick #1. You know it’s true! And forget about Chick #2 cause that kid can burn water. She literally has.

Anyway, this was what we came up with: A tater tot, veggie, and egg skillet…and it is so easy to make!

Ingredients:

Chop up about a cup of your favorite veggies. This creation contains spinach, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. (set these aside)

Add a TBSP margarine or butter to heated pan.

1 cup tater tots or hash browns

Sausage or bacon (as much or as little as you want)

Eggs

Cheese (if wanted)

Seasons to taste

3-4 TBSP water

Directions:

Pre cook the meat. Set aside

Cook on medium. Add tater tots or hash browns to the melted butter. If you use tater tots, break them apart as they heat up. Add the veggies. Keep mixing the mixture so that everything cooks evenly. Season. Crumble up the meat and mix into the potatoes and veggies. Before the potatoes get crispy, press them down lightly into the pan. Make sure to fill gaps because you want the eggs to stay on top. Slowly add the eggs to the top of the potatoes. I try to keep the eggs separate so that I can simply cut sections and serve. After adding the eggs, add the water and cover. The water creates steam that cooks the tops of the eggs. I love sunny side eggs but hate oozy, snotty whites. So I started doing this a while back and depending on how long you cover and cook will also depend on how yolky the eggs are. While I like runny yolks, the chicks like their eggs more medium with less runny yolks. Just before the eggs are done add a touch of cheese if you want. Salt/ pepper/ season as desired.

Serve:

Remove from the heat, cut the potatoes into sections with an egg on top, serve. Enjoy!

~SE

Starbucks! Oh how I miss thee!

wpid-pomelo_20150822085629_save.jpgLiving in the country has both good and bad perks. For instance, I love the slower pace, less traffic, and the fact that there’s literally nature everywhere. In the morning, I can perch on my balcony among my potted garden, sipping my iced coffee while enjoying the humming birds, ducks, and sounds of nature. In the evening, a cool shower breeze usually offers a much needed reprieve from a hot, humid Georgia day. It’s the perfect spot for me to sit and think or to sit and do no nothing except enjoy the sweet serenity this quiet town has to offer. When you live in a town with about 15,000 other folks, traffic is almost non existent, the stores are seldom packed, there’s never any waiting at a restaurant, and the people are oozing with Southern charm and hospitality. I live in an apartment complex and we’re all “family”. We’re polite, friendly, talk about our days, the weather, our families, health, and just about anything else you can think of. It certainly isn’t anything like living in an area where people are so hurried and busy that they barely make eye contact, let alone say hello.  I’ll take Southern hospitality any day.

The down side? Good paying jobs aren’t found in small towns. Local restaurants serve some incredible mouth watering foods but there’s little variety. And…there are no Starbucks Coffee shops within a 45 minute drive! While I am a complete coffee snob, I can no longer rationalize the cost of the Heavenly brew nor the expense in driving that distance for a coffee fix. Yes. It is an addiction and I’m not proud in admitting that I am a recovering Starbucks junkie. My pockets and bank account scream at me every time I go out of town and give in to the coffee deliciousness. I have no control. I love Starbucks coffee!

I know what you’re thinking – she loves those whipped, high calorie, frozen, sickly sweet, dessert drinks.  And actually, you’re wrong. No whipped cream. 2% milk. Not overly sweet. Hot or iced. But I will admit that I do enjoy a Macchiato, Cinnamon Dolce, and Pumpkin Spice on occasion. Same rules apply here, too.

After moving from a place where there were multiple Starbucks within a decent driving distance to being cut off, cold turkey, I began looking for ways to sustain my need for a good cup of Joe. Trust me. This was no easy task. The ex always bought chocolate or caramel flavored coffee (yuck) and flavored creamers. And no matter how I doctored the crap, it always tasted as such – CRAP. My morning ritual has become polluted by poor tasting coffee and I was miserable. Didn’t know a cup of brewed goodness could affect you this way, hu? So. In this little town we have: McDonald’s (ok in a pinch), Burger King (um – NO!), Taco Bell (risky), Daylight Donuts (haven’t tried), a little local guitar/coffee shop (love the ambience and the coffee), and Chick-Fil-A (SCORE!). The latter, is the most convenient and tasty but that doesn’t even come close to my personal favorite. SB or go home!

I’ve bought those bottled and canned SB “drinks” before but they just aren’t the same. Too pricey and they don’t taste all that great. Not a fan. Not at all. And then…one day, while grocery shopping I spied upon a something I’d never seen before. A 48 oz bottle of SB Iced Coffee! Who knew?! (Probably the rest of the world just not this little town.) I was a little hesitant at first. I read the bottle over and over again. Put it down. Walked away. Came back. And repeated the same steps about 4 different times. And finally opted to try it. My rationale was simply this: 48 oz cost the same as a Venti latte. I could spare the $5.00 for a taste test. And much to my surprise, it was actually very good. The ingredients weren’t written in a foreign language, either. Water, coffee, sugar, natural flavors, ascorbic acid (to protect flavor – so it says), and that was it! So simple that it gave me the idea to make my own! I hate iced coffee that’s all watered down and that’s what I was doing. Brewing my coffee and pouring it over ice. Yuck. And I had never considered making my coffee and refrigerating it. Duh!

So here it is: Starbucks at home. I now buy my favorite SB blend (I ran out for this pic), brew it, bottle it, add a touch of whatever flavor I’m in the mood for, shake, and chill. When I’m ready for my fix, I pour it into my cup, top with 2% milk, and I’m good to go!

Problem solved! Oh – and I kept the original 48 oz container because it was the perfect size for storing my own personal blend.

~ SE

Creepy

Creepy” Weekly Photo Challenge – Creepy

A few weeks back, I was headed to the grocery store on my break when I noticed this brilliant, neon green hitch hiker. He was just hanging on, enjoying the view, without a care on the world. I am by no means a spider fan but this creepy crawly was so fascinating, I just had to take a few pictures.

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Drama Drive

Written 1/30/2015

I don’t even know where to begin with this…

Assumptions – who needs them?! Drama – who needs it?!  And WHY was MY day ruined because of other people?!

Yesterday was a day full of frustrations. The new job had my head spinning, eyes crossing, and head aching. But what made it worse was getting a text that said – “Call me now!” I’m used to the “!” mark following most messages from this friend but this text was not the same and immediately my stomach did a backflip and leapt right into my throat. In the middle of the lobby, I returned his call and was immediately assaulted with irritated ramblings about how people know information about him – private information. Information about his gift to me, etc. In the middle of the lobby, without any privacy, I did my best to stay calm during his accusations that I was the one talking to people to whom I never speak with. Oh sure. I speak to them but as a professional, not as a friend.

The problem here: I was happy, excited, and wanted to share…it was only when one particular person said something negative about him that he asked for nothing to be discussed…so I haven’t. That person only knew bits and pieces, has already voiced her opinion about him twice to me, and is friends with other people he knows. You see where this is leading, right? Straight down Drama Drive. But the bigger picture is that while it’s ok for people to discuss his dealings with one of the other people who’s talking, it isn’t ok for anyone to know about he and I talking. Why? There’s definitely something wrong with this picture. The reason seemed reasonable enough. That is until he told me about the other person he had been talking to and I began to piece it all together. This had nothing to do with his divorce or son. It had to do with him personally because he was doing exactly what my “friend” warned me about. The same warning, that when I told him, he completely over reacted and asked me not to discuss us any longer with people from work. And I respected him enough to do just that. Keep it to myself.

So – the text. The call. Assumptions. Accusations. And me – feeling like crap and then later to just being plain hurt because it wasn’t me who had done anything wrong. Normally, I would either  bury it deep down or explode in a fit of anger. I did neither. Instead, I called him back to express how I felt. I didn’t call to re-hash the original conversation but I did feel I needed to be heard about how he made me feel. At least I was heard.

Drama – Assumptions. Its all ridiculous. And his reaction was no less childish than those who talk about things they ought not. And I’m about to find another road to follow…

Awkward Compliments

Yesterday was one of THOSE days. You know the kind. The one where nothing is quite going right.

I woke up with a headache, my sciatica was killing me – literally, the man friend was unable to come by, one of my football teams lost, AND the new (used) dryer I bought worked all for…30 seconds. Yes. 30 FLIPPIN’ SECONDS and then it just died. No power. Kaput! Zilch! Nada! So I did what any non-repair person would do. Called Lowe’s, told them the issue – and they directed me to their Customer Care 1-888 # crap. Seriously?! I haven’t had the dryer for 2 hours and it worked for 30 SECONDS! Are you kidding me?! And to top that off, Customer Care is only open M-F.  Of course they are! So, I ended my Sunday on a very sour note. Screamed at the TV, took some sinus medication, talked to the man friend (which was the best part of the day), and crawled into bed.

Today is a Holiday. So, right off – it’s already a better day than yesterday. But…

First thing, I called that Lowe’s 1-888 # only to be told that the dryer was purchased “as is”. Ummm – pretty sure that’s a load of horse shit. The kind woman tried to tell me that there was a 30 day return policy but that the manufacturer warranty would only be good from the original purchase date. The funny thing was that she never asked for the Model or Serial #s. So how would she know if it was still under warranty or not? Additionally, the dryer had an electrical repair that would also be under warranty. Electrical repair + dryer not getting any power = coincidence? I don’t think so. Anyway, after several minutes of going back and forth and her collecting my information, she tells me she’ll contact the store. The store? You mean the SAME store I called YESTERDAY who gave me the 1-888 #?!    And sure enough, less than 20 minutes pass and who calls? The Lowe’s where I purchased the dryer! This gentleman asks me if it’s ok to send out his delivery guys again “just to check to make sure they didn’t install it incorrectly”? Sure. Knock your socks off. I mean, seriously even I know how to check the breaker box, make sure it’s plugged in, check to see if the door is latched shut, and even check the plug its self. But hey! Go for it!  A couple hours later, two delivery men arrive. “Hello. Lowe’s sent me to look at your dryer. I’m not really a “repairman” but I’ll take a look and see what I can find.”  Listen here, Mister. I didn’t ask for them to send you back to look at the damn thing. After the run around, I actually told the guy at the store to just come get the POS because clearly no one wants to fix the issue – I didn’t say this but it was right there, hanging on my tongue ready to be viperously spit out if this knuckle head said anything deserving of my wrath. Thankfully he didn’t and was actually quite helpful. I still have the dryer and they are going to repair it. Yay!

So, the main point of this post was “awkward compliments”. How can it be awkward compliments when it’s related to a lemon dryer? Well, today’s delivery guy asked to look at the breaker box. Now mind you, you have to walk through my entire apartment to get to the laundry area. Pass through the living and dining areas, past the girl’s room, down the hall, into the girl’s vanity and to the laundry closet. There’s an adjoining bathroom between the girl’s vanity and mine and you can see my vanity and my bedroom because all the doors were open.

Back to the breaker box. It’s in my bedroom. So I walked him to the corner of the room and as I was turning, he complimented my bed! “Oh, I REALLY like that bed.”  I politely thanked him and quickly backed towards the door. Sorry dude but if you’re going to compliment the bed you need to build up to that. You know. Compliment the living room, the pictures on the wall, how clean my home is and then maybe – just maybe, it would be reasonably ok to compliment my bedroom set. But you just don’t go straight for the bed plunge!

Good grief! I mean seriously, AWKWARD moment!!

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