Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs

I love this recipe!  Serve over baked potatoes with your veggie of choice and it makes enough for 2 meals + some leftovers! I've made some modifications from the original recipe, here's my (better) version.  Lovely spooned over baked or mashed potatoes.

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
400 degrees - 16 minutes

2lbs lean ground beef (or turkey, or a combination)
1 pkg stove top stuffing mix (I like the whole wheat)
1 cup water
2 large eggs

1 bottle (16 oz) barbecue sauce
2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce

In a large bowl, combine meat, stuffing mix, eggs and water.  Roll into 1-1/2" balls and place on foil-lined, greased (spray olive oil) cookie sheet.  You should have about 60 meatballs.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 16 minutes.

While meatballs are baking:
Combine in large pot or saucepan the cranberry sauce and bbq sauce over medium heat, stirring well to melt the cranberry jelly.  When meatballs are cooked, remove from oven and stir into sauce in pot.  Serve hot.

Saving a batch for later: (possibly my favorite part of this recipe)
Reserve half of the sauce and half of the meatballs before combining in sauce.  Put sauce in a quart freezer bag, lay flat.  Place cooled meatballs in gallon freezer bag with sauce bag on top.  To serve: Thaw sauce and meatballs then combine in pot.  Cook over low-medium heat until warm.  Serve.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Return To Slavery...

One Progressive Step at a Time

Interesting blog post you might check out. 

-Strip away the rheteric, boil it all down; forcing one person to do something for the benefit of another = slavery.  Makes you cringe, right?

-Punishing the young.  Not typical; watch out young people.  Oh, yeah, and you rich capitalist buggars too- but then, you're accustomed to being in the government's sights.

Contact your Senator or Congressional Representative now.  Tell them you don't want their idea of health care reform.  (personally, I'm for tort reform and allowing insurers/policies to travel across state lines instead of this comprehensive hooey - if after 5 years of reform we still don't see improvement, then consider a complete government run overhaul)  See, I'm in that 70% that works for a company that provides really great insurance - and I wouldn't have accepted their offer unless it did.  It's call choice.  Use it or lose it...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free eBook - What Matters Now

Thought you might enjoy reading this eBook.  What Matters Now

It's a bunch of 1 page musings on what matters now (Vision, Generosity, Ease, Meaning, Dignity, Fear, Enrichment, 1%, Excellence, etc.) by people like Seth Godin, Jessica Hagy, Hugh MacLeod, Elizabeth Gilbert, Chris Meyer, and a whole host of other big thinkers.  And well, if you don't enjoy it, no loss - it was afterall free! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cranberry Apple Compote

This is AMAZING over french toast (egg-nog or other) and has become a staple for Christmas brunch.

Cran-Apple Compote
2 c apple cider
6 t light corn syrup (you could also use maple syrup)
2 T dark brown sugar
6-8 T unsalted butter

3 apples, diced
2 c cranberries, washed and picked over
1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 t vanilla

Whisk apple cider, syrup and brown sugar in heavy saucepan over high head until reduced to about 1 cup (about 15 minutes).  Add half of butter and whisk until melted.  Remove from heat.

Melt remaining half of butter in large skillet over medium heat, add apples, sauté 2 minutes.  Stir in cider mixture, boil until syrup consistency (about 6 minutes).  Stir in vanilla.  Serve warm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Executive Presence

Forget Executive Presence, we're talking presence, period.  These are good things for everyone to be mindful of and try to improve on.  Pretty straightforward too:;col1

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I know it's just an infatuation, but look at this amazing jacket by Ann Taylor!! 

I love Ann Taylor clothes, classic, streamlined, but not too simple... mmm... now, just how to afford them!  At least window shopping is free.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Funny Bones

Found this in one of Epicurious' recipe collections for Halloween, thought it was an adorably light-hearted take on traditional Halloween goodies! It was a big hit at Alex's school party and was rather quite easy to make.

I used 50/50 white chocolate chips and almond bark to reduce the cost (and because I had leftover almond bark to be used up). I also made my own double boiler by using a pot half-full of water on low with a SS bowl over. Make sure you don't exceed 120 degrees F or you'll wreck your chocolate!! Use a digital or candy thermometer if you're not sure. I used a plain ol' dinner fork and was able to turn out 200+ of these in about 2 hours. Hubby helped putting on mallows after I finished the trial run batch worth. I stored them in airtight containers with parchment paper between the layers for 1 week before packaging (as seen above).

I'm reminded, once again, never to play with chocolate unless you're using a double boiler!! Makes the whole process so much better.

Next: White chocolate covered fresh cranberries!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You know you're old when...

completing an online form you have to scroll to find the year you were born. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What I want out of work...

This!  This is what I want to say to prospective employers.  Please read and excuse me while I re-write my resume:

“You can hire any number of people who will go through the motions and do a perfectly adequate job for you. But I will do an outstanding job if you give me the right tools to do my work. That means I’d like access to the latest technology so that I can leverage it on your behalf (I probably know how to use it better than anyone on your staff). I’ll work until midnight if you need me to, but let me come in later the next morning, or maybe even work from home. If I’m slacking off, it’ll be obvious and then I’ll happily let you chain me to my desk.
I’m eager to learn, so give me training and a mentor and make me accountable for my performance. And if I do perform well, please don’t tell me I need to ‘put in more time’ before I get promoted because nothing is more sure to put a damper on my enthusiasm. I have a lot of good ideas and if you think they’re good, too, let’s implement them and not spend weeks just talking about them.”

Footnote: this stuff is good for everyone, not just Gen Y!

Above from BNet Insight Blog "Upstarts! Donna Fenn: The Lessons of GenY Entrepreneurs"

Depending on who's talking, I'm either a Gen X or Gen Y, based on my 1980 birthday.  I'm not sure that I'd latch on to one or another, though I think the title "baby boom echo" sounds good. My parents being of the Baby Boom and me being strongly influenced by them, and displaying baby-boomer-tendancies combined with all the influences of modern technology and recent global events.  (It's always interesting when you try to evade all labels, and then stumble into fitting one quite well!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Trader Joe's Rally

Hi All,

Please join me in telling Trader Joe's that we need a branch in the Kansas City metro area. Please take just a few seconds to fill out their location request form online. You can use zip code 66061 (Olathe).

Whole Foods has the market cornered for health and gourmet foods and it's just not cool. Not that I have anything against Whole Foods, just that they should have some healthy (ha, ha... get it, healthy) competition.

Thanks again!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Yes... That is the moon.

Not a street light, the moon.  Captured with my cell, so you can just imagine how amazing it was in person!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

43 Things

Amazingly accurate, considering the lack of depth in the questioning!

I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I'm a
Romantic Self-Knowing Believer

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thouroughly Refreshed

Clean out the deep freeze,
Start a load of laundry,
Spa pedicure with best friend,
Lunch at 5 Guys with best friend,
Movie comped by BF's long-time friend (who we didn't know was practically a neighbor...)

A day to unwind, slow down, and enjoy some 'me' time...

Friday, August 28, 2009

If you've ever wondered about Fire Sprinklers...

Here's the stark comparison of a room without, and a room with sprinklers!

I already know what you're saying... So, what's that cost!?
For new construction, $1.00-2.00/sq. ft., depending on roof material and room layout. Prove to your insurance agent that it's a 13D system installed by a licensed contractor, and you'll pay less for your homeowner's insurance too. Long term savings AND life safety.

What a deal!

FENTON, MO ( AP) - This last Friday of the month is the first day for several new laws in Missouri. Among the new laws, home builders must now offer consumers the option of having fire sprinklers installed in their homes. To make a point about the new law, firefighters in Fenton, were 'burning down the house,' Friday morning. The firefighters at Engine House #1 demonstrated the value of an in home sprinkler system.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cilantro Lime Rice

Stan wanted rice "just like Chipotle", so I made my own recipe:

3 cups rice, cooked according to package directions

1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
2 serrano chilis, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 large lime
2 T oil (I use olive oil)
1/2 t coarse salt
1/4-1/2 t ground white pepper, to taste

While rice is cooking, combine all other ingredients in a large bowl. Mush them around with the back of a spoon to get the flavors mingling. Add the cooked rice, stir to combine. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hooray for Whole Foods!

You should read this Wall Street Journal article by John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods.

Then, you can read this MSN Money blog about the business ramifications of a seemingly level-headed businessman speaking his mind and standing up for the basic principles that founded our great nation!

Now go shop at Whole Foods and feel really, really good about it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An honest question:

How do you balance pissing people off with getting stuff done?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Microwave Peanut Brittle

I love this recipe! My Mom had one just like it when I was a kid (at the height of microwave cooking) and I found this one in a friend's cookbook (which I only have a photocopy of the page and am sorry to say I don't know the name of the book, but it was all about microwave cooking).

Things you'll need:
16" piece of heavy duty aluminum foil, lightly greased (or a silpat) on a cookie sheet.
Candy thermometer.
8 cup Pyrex bowl or other micro-safe bowl of equivalent size (I like having the handle and still use a potholder, both for my hand and when I set the bowl down to stir).
Wooden mixing spoon.

2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
2 T butter, cut up a bit (use high-temp coconut oil to make this dairy free)
1/4 c water

1-1/2 c nuts - roasted, salted (I use 1/2 c each- peanuts, almonds and cashews)

1/2 t baking soda

** All microwave times are uncovered on HIGH **

Combine 1st 4 ingredients, stir to combine, microwave 5 minues. Stir to dissolve all sugar.
Microwave 6 more minutes, or until 234-240 degrees F.
Stir in nuts, microwave 7 minutes, or until 290-300 degrees F.
Add baking soda and stir just until mixture stops bubbling.
Pour onto foil and spread to about 1/4" thick with wooden spoon.

Set aside to cool, about 20 minutes. Break into chunks and serve, or store in an airtight container several weeks.

Makes about 1-3/4 pounds.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Did we really just have this conversation?

I don't remember what started the conversation, but Stan mused that if they ever figure out how to slow down light, that he wouldn't be surprised if it turned into matter. Which made me think of the replicators on Star Trek, you know, you walk over to the box on the wall and say "earl gray tea, hot" some light appears and out of the light comes your tea*...
So I said to Stan, "like a replicator!", with which he immediately agreed and then I thought to clarify... "the Star Trek replicators, not the Stargate replicators". And Stan again agreed, thinking outloud though, that the theory could stand for either.

At which point I sighed, shook my head and asked Stan "Did we really just have a conversation in which we had to clarify which Star-series we were eluding to!?"

We're such old married geeks!!!

*before I get hate-mail from less casual Star Trek geeks let me disclaim - yes, I know, the replicator is transporter technology - taking matter stored in bulk and spitting it out in a different form. Turning light into matter is just my cool hypothesis of the how.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cilantro & Pepita Salad Dressing

Tastes just like the house dressing at El Torito! We don't live anywhere near one anymore, so I had to go find a recipe for it.

This one's modified from one I found on Recipezaar (206911)

Servings: 8 servings

You'll Need:
Food processor
Large bowl

2 medium anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled and seeded*
1/3 c roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 t crushed/diced garlic
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 t salt
1-3/4 c oil (I used EVOO)
1/4 c red wine vinegar
5 T crumbled Cotija cheese

2 bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed

1-1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c water

Place all ingredients, except 3/4 c oil, cilantro, mayo and water in food processor.
Blend to combine, then add cilantro 1 bunch at a time blending well.
Add final 3/4 c oil while blending.
In large stainless steel bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and water until smooth.
Add blended ingredients and mix well.

Arrange romaine lettuce on a plate, ladle dressing over lettuce and top with diced tomatoes, crumbled Cotijo cheese and pepitas. (try not to lick the bowl clean)

*broil on low on a wire rack about 6 minutes each side, or until skin blisters. Remove and allow to cool. Peel off skin, scrape out seeds.

Monday, July 6, 2009


My company just announced that you can now follow them on Twitter.


We have some really neat products and all, but who needs hourly updates on an industrial manufacturer? Even a cool one.

A number of my customers still have dial-up. Only a handful have a website. (Yes, really... we are a construction trade afterall. Some of these guys rarely if ever see a desk anyway.)

As a company, we block Facebook, MySpace, Gmail, YouTube and various others... but we fully support being a Twit?

I give up.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Banana Split Muffins

These are a favorite. Modified from my M-I-L's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins, usually made in mass around Thanksgiving time. For Stan, Thanksgiving is not complete without them. I liked the base recipe because it didn't require butter, like a traditional banana bread.

Don't be afraid to experiment with these. I've tossed in yellow squash, butternut squash, wheat germ, almond flour, chopped dried cherries, almond extract... Pretty much, you can't go wrong with these muffins!

Banana Split Muffins
Preheat oven to 350, line or lightly grease muffin tins.

Combine in microwavable bowl and warm, but don't cook (1 minute on power 8):

1-1/4 c oats
1T multi-grain hot cereal mix
1-1/4 c milk

Add to oat mixture:
2 mashed bananas ( or 3/4-1 c squash, applesauce, pack pumpkin)
2 eggs
1/4 c oil (I use olive)
1 t vanilla

Stir with a whisk, then combine with wet mix above:
2 c flour (half all-purpose and half whole wheat or other)
1/2 c sugar 
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg (especially good with the banana)

Stir until just combined then add:
1/2 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts
**Stir less if you like cakier muffins. Stir extra for a chewier, bread-like texture. 

Fill muffins 3/4 full and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks. Once cooled, store in airtight container. Makes 24.

If you want to get really fancy, put a small dish with water in the oven while they're baking. (Increased humidity is the same thing that makes bagels fabulous!)

I've been enjoying the "If You Care" unbleached muffin liners in the health market at HyVee. They act like parchment paper - have excellent release and stand-up. And they're a lovely brown-wrapper sort of color. I won't buy anything else now. I'm spoiled!

updated 12/13/2010

Frozen Fruit Salad

As much as I'd like to take credit for this yummy salad, it came from 30 Day Gourmet.

Frozen Fruit Salad
When we go camping, I create individual servings by using an ice cream scoop to fill foil muffin liners, then freeze. I transfer the individual cups to a single layer in a zip-top bag and keep in the cooler or camper freezer for an afternoon snack. For a meal at home I follow the recipe, using a 9x13 pan.

Beat together:
8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar (or splenda)

Stir in:
1-1/2 c sour cream
20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
~30 oz or 2 lbs frozen fruit (I found frozen mixed berries at Costco, 1 bag made 2 batches)

Put into serving dish(s) and freeze. Thaw 15-30 minutes before cutting if using 9x13 pan, 5-10 minutes if using muffin liners.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bunnies eat carrots.

"Bunnies eat carrots. Not wood chips. Just carrots. Wood chips are dirty and yucky. Carrots are cold and yummy."
I'm going to go out on a limb & guess that Alex tried to eat wood chips on the playground today.
They also had thei Easter party and MDA Hop-a-Thon. Auntie Valerie sent him the cutest bunny ears and a Lightning McQueen basket. I'm hooked on the ears though - they're SOOO cute!! (so is the kid wearing them) hehe

Friday, March 27, 2009

I am One of Seven

This really struck me. Ask anyone, no secret, Stan & I are not "touchy-feely" Christians. We are planners, doers, supporters. We're the logistics behind the people who are touchy-feely. And we're happy to fill that role any day of the week. We have no desire to go on a prayer walk - but ask us to plan one and we'll bust out a map with timelines and notes about the neighborhood demographics.

We are Stephens.

But we're given crap for it and I don't think that's fair. I think there's such a critical place for planner-doers in a healthy, growing church.

If all you have are a bunch of really inspired visionaries there's every possibility that they'll swirl around being fabulous - but without purpose and planing, it becomes near to impossible for outsiders to find a place, to get on board.

The bigger you grow, the more it's necessary for planning & purpose. And that's proven in this scripture. After infrastructure was added, the church grew and did even more amazing things, including the addition of some of the most unlikely people.

So I'm not going to feel lousy about not being a touchy-feely Christian anymore. I'm going to embrace the me that God made. The detail oriented, hospitality gifted, creative, organized, planner doer. That's me. And since I'm asking for less judgement from the touchy-feely people, I'm going to be less judgemental of them - because they do some pretty awesome things for God too.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Babe Count: 2

It's a quarter after 8 and I've already been called "babe" by 2 different customers.

Not that it necessarily bothers me... considering they call this "babe" when they need technical advice usually only gained from men twice my age. But it's noted.

Of all the words exchanged, somehow, this appears in my mind in neon lights. Not offensive in passing, but impossible to ignore.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

And then.

Ever have one of those days, no, weeks?

The new year has come and gone and I haven't even stopped long enough to think about a resolution, let alone resolve upon it.

I have, however, come to once again question where I am and what I'm doing... only to find myself at a total loss for answers, leading me down a trecherous path of self-reliance that ends only in a pool of pity and mild depression.

And then.

And then I talk to a sage girlfrieng who reminds me to breathe, pray, count my husband not as the enemy, but as the hero by my side, (did I say pray), and that she could find a new year in a different culture every month of the year for me to decide to start all over with.

And then.

I'm reminded of how much faith I have that God's doing great things in our life and thru Stan's work. And that the sacrifices I am giving are an integral part of that - and suddenly I don't feel quite so out of control anymore. Still a little, won't lie, I'm still supressing evil urges to rip people's heads off... it's just not my own anymore. (I know you've all been frustrated enough to want to rip your OWN head off at some point or another...)

And then.

I laugh a little and the cloud that's been following me around lifts a little... and a little at a time I find I've let the sunshine back in and without anything in life's circumstances having really changed, I feel better.

Remembering to pray can do that for a person.