Phallic Pops

Happy National White Chocolate Day!

Or what shall now be forever known as “The day the toddlers made penis popsicles!”at work…

Here’s how the day began:

My co-teacher Nicole has been busting her ass this week making strawberry-banana yogurt popsicles with our children… for the entire school.  160 “rocket” shaped popsicles.

Sounds amazing, right? What an awesome treat for everyone to enjoy on Friday afternoon, right?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Tuesday afternoon, as Nicole was removing one of the popsicles from it’s mold to see how they turned out, a horrible discovery was made.


They were penises.  Little flesh colored “rocket” penises.

Little flesh colored, supposedly rocket shaped penises that look a little like they have herpes….

At this point though, we were committed to the damn popsicles! Nicole had just made 40 of the suckers (yep, I made that joke.) and the children were expecting popsicles on Friday!

So today came.  (Hehehe)

The day of the popsicles.  Hours of Nicole’s life spent carefully crafting these dick-sicles.  We had to eat them.

Now imagine a room full of two year olds eating these.  It made an extremely long week just a little bit funnier.

It turns out cooking fails follow me everywhere!

At home, Mag and I whipped up some white chocolate chip cookies to celebrate the day.  After SO MANY dick jokes, I needed something wholesome like baking cookies with my daughter to balance out the scales.  I’m definitely back on God’s good side, right?!

Using a recipe from Cookies and Cups that claimed to be THE BEST white chocolate chip cookies, I had high hopes.

Since making the apple dumplings, Maggie has been extra interested in helping in the kitchen.  If nothing else comes from this project, I’m enjoying sharing this experience with my kids.  My brother and I were always under foot in my moms kitchen while she baked – she made cakes for a living when we were little, I should be AWESOME at baking!  I didn’t really learn anything about actual cooking in my moms kitchen, not because she didn’t want to teach us – she did – but my eyes were focused on the batter in the bowl, the GIANT tub of frosting, the cooling rack of cookies.  My mom tells a story about baking cookies in which every time she turned her back to open the oven, Tim or I stole an unbaked dough ball from the tray that was about to go in.  We were food motivated little buggers.  What I did learn in her kitchen was that love is always the secret ingredient and that sometimes having a good time matters more than how things taste.

That last little bit isn’t 100% true, everything my mom made tasted amazing!  50% of what I make tastes okay…. my damn if I don’t have fun!

After adding all the ingredients to the bowl, I attempted my favorite step in any baking recipe: creaming ingredients together without a fucking stand mixer!  The only other thing that I may get from this is killer arms!

Look at this lumpy shit!  A fork is not a stand mixer!


Maggie’s favorite part of any recipe is cracking the eggs and adding them to the batter.  I’ve shown her how to do this at least 20 times, she’s totally capable.  She goes to a fucking Montessori school, they’re cracking eggs by the time they’re 2!

What I forgot from the equation is that she’s still 50% me:


I wish I had caught this on video because it was seriously hilarious.  She tapped the egg like a pro, she broke it open like I taught her, then the egg yolk touched her hand and she threw the whole damn thing into the batter.  She’s a Heldberg at heart.

The other magical thing we Heldberg’s  fail at: measuring.  That’s Maggie’s attempt at  1/2 tsp of baking powder.  She just fucking went for it!  I helped her level it off before putting it in – I don’t know what happens when you add too much baking powder but I imagine it’s not good!

With a little more willy-nilly measuring and some half assed fork mixing, we had what could be considered cookie dough.  I lobbed them onto the baking sheet (that I remembered to line with parchment paper because I learn from past mistakes!) and popped them in the oven!

They came out a little weird shaped… and puffier than the pictures from the recipe…

But according to Ryan they tasted pretty good! He did describe them as scone-like though… too many incorrectly measured ingredients?!


Foot Thumbs

Happy National Pecan Cookie Day!

Once again my plans for a fabulous celebration fell through.. (notice a theme here?!)

I’ve been working long hours at work this week so by the time I get home it’s speed dinner time then bed time for the family.  Sad, but next week will be better!

In lieu of whipping up some awesome pecan cookies, I stopped at ye ol’ Whole Foods and bought a bag of pre-made pecan shortbread cookies.

Win for everyone!


Maybe it was the cookies, maybe it’s because she’s part me… but Maggie had this gem to share with us at dinner:

Mag: Mom, my foot thumb hurts.

Me:…….. your….. foot thumb?

Mag: Yeah, the big thumb on my foot. It hurts.

I didn’t have the heart to correct her – it was too damn cute!  (She also thinks she has two butts… a front butt, and a back butt…. I know, I should correct this one for sure but come on!  Hearing her say “front butt” is too funny!)


Teacher Life

Happy National Rum Punch Day!

Notice the time listed on the clock in this photo:


That’s what time I made it home from work today.  My hours are 7:30-4:30 every day with a roughly 30 minute public transportation commute.  I’m typically home by 5:30 at the latest, and that’s only if Nicky’s bus drops off late or I have to carry Maggie out of the building like a hay bale because she’s being stubborn.  Needless to day, today was a long day.

I normally try and share the funny parts of life – the general shenanigans and silly things that happen – but some days it’s hard to find the humor in things.  So today, I’m drained.  I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.  Plenty of occupations are WAY more challenging than mine, but there is something to be said about how wrecked a teacher can feel by the time they get home.  Add in two kids on top of that.  There are more days when I firmly believe I have the greatest job.  I get to spend my day with children – sharing their joys, laughing, playing, hugging.  Pure magic.  On other days, I’ve spent part of my time standing over a puddle of diarrhea while simultaneously comforting the pooper and greeting parents (true event) then spent the rest of my day trying to keep one child from biting another child’s face (also true event).  There are days where, possibly due to lunar effect or some other astronomical or astrological reason, the children are just sad.  Like suck-the-joy-out-of -the-room sad.

The most unfortunate part of this is that after a sad day at work, my children are stuck with a mom who cannot “mom” anymore for the day.  There are days where I literally cannot be responsible for another person – my patience is drained, I’m a heartbeat away from crying, and I probably smell like poop or some other bodily fluid.  Nick and Maggie, however, have no idea what has gone on in my classroom that day – they’ve just had a great day at school and can’t wait to share it with me.  They are unaware of how many children I have comforted, redirected, redirected some more, lost patience with, comforted some more…. how many tiny bodies have clung to me in sadness and discomfort. They just want mom.  But a terribly sad truth is that some days, on really sad days, I cannot be clung to anymore – I need to feel like a human being for a moment, to feel my own emotions rather than trying to guide a room full of toddlers in theirs.

How can I explain this to a 7 and 4 year old?  It’s difficult to explain this to Ryan at times – he has minimal human interaction all day and sometimes needs to just dump his thoughts on me.  On most nights, I welcome this exchange!  I love our conversations at the table as a family – I learn about Ryan’s weird theories, Nicky’s friends, Maggie’s thoughts on fast food restaurants… it’s one of the best parts of my day.  But some days are… well, some days are just sad days.

Today was a sad day. I’m incapable of having a conversation with another human being in this moment.

So after a frozen pizza for the family and sad fake cheese nachos for me – I celebrated Rum Punch Day by myself at the table in silence.


Hug a teacher the next time you see one.  Then buy them wine, they probably need a drink.



Not Quite Like Mom’s…

Happy National Butterscotch Pudding Day!

Butterscotch Pudding and I go WAAAAYYY back.  Dessert wasn’t a nightly occurrence when I was growing up, but at least a few times a week my mom either cracked open a can of peaches – which led to Tim and I fighting over who got to drink the syrup out of the can – or whipped up a batch of butterscotch pudding for after dinner.  My mom could expertly make pudding from a box to fit Tim and my weird pudding needs.  We liked it a little chunky… with some of the mixture in clumps so that it exploded in your mouth like little flavor capsules.

She was always happy to oblige, though now that I think about it – it sounds really gross.  Kids are weird.

I went into this holiday fully intending to make pudding EXACTLY like my mom did – how hard could it be?

For starters, Target was sold out of butterscotch pudding.  Including the snack pack pre-made style.  Like straight-up, bare shelf space in the pudding aisle.  Maybe everyone in Midway St Paul is celebrating this holiday?

I decided in the moment that I could just buy plain or vanilla pudding and melt in some butterscotch chips…. I’m pretty sure that’s not how butterscotch pudding is made, but when I’m in Target I start thinking that I’m a Master Chef and know everything about cooking and recipes.

On a whim I read the ingredients in the Jell-o vanilla pudding….

Don’t do that.  If, like me, you grew up eating Jell-o pudding and loving it… don’t subject yourself to that.

Beyond the second ingredient I could no longer pronounce what I was going to potentially eat…. then I got to the added yellow food coloring!  Why is there added coloring to vanilla pudding?!  It’s white!  Or at best, a sort of beige color… either way, it’s the color of vanilla which shouldn’t require any amount of artificial coloring!!!  Also, no where in the ingredients was vanilla listed!!! There was no vanilla extract in the vanilla pudding!!

Food rant over.

After a brief mental break down in the pudding aisle… I bought a weird brand of organic vanilla pudding.  The ingredients list read: Organic Sugar, Organic Cornstarch, Organic Vanilla Flavor (Vanilla Extract).  That’s it.  I win.


Because I’m a hypocritical asshole, I bought some generic butterscotch “morsels” that have ALL the artificial colors in them, including “blue 2 lake” because that makes sense.

Here’s something I never realized in all the years my mom made us pudding – you have to heat it up on the stove at least 90 minutes before serving so that it incorporates properly and has time to “set up” and solidify.  I’m not sure what kind of kitchen magic I thought my mom was doing when she made pudding – but it just always arrived at the table, perfectly chunky and delicious.  I guess I assumed you just mixed pudding powder with milk and Voila!  Pudding!

Because I was improvising most of this recipe, I heated some coconut milk on the stove with a handful of butterscotch morsels.  (I know they are chips… but calling them morsels like the bag says makes me feel better about them…)  I guess I thought this would create some kind of butterscotch milk that could be combined with the pudding mix?

It mostly turned into a thick oozy brown substance that vaguely tasted like butterscotch and mostly tasted like hot coconuts… (insert dirty jokes here, we all know we’re thinking them!)

At this point I was committed to my pudding recipe and added the powder.  I thought if I didn’t stir it too much it would turn out just like my moms.

Wrong.  So very, very wrong.

When I poured it into the serving bowls to cool, it looked a lot like my mom’s.  There were definitely thicker spots that had the potential to be awesome little powder nuggets.


90 minutes later, I found out the truth of the situation.

I’m not sure if it was this particular brand or because I’m not a kitchen wizard like my mom, but instead of little powder balls, I wound up with little gel-like balls… sort of like bubble tea but not as gross.  (What IS bubble tea anyway? It’s so weird!)

It was like eating vanilla slime with splash of butterscotch essence.

Afterwards I looked up some recipes for home made butterscotch pudding and found that I could have made something from scratch with ingredients I already had at home…. but fuck it, I just don’t roll that way!

I also probably could have called my mom…

Sisterly Advice

Happy National Monte Cristo AND Apple Dumpling Day!

Leading up to today, I asked my sister-in-law Alyse for some advice on making Apple Dumplings.  I’m not even really sure what an apple dumpling is (she wasn’t sure either), but through the magic of Pinterest we were able to get a general idea of what to expect.  And some of these apple dumplings are insane!  Take this recipe from Bunny’s Warm Oven for instance, it looks amazing!  But what real human being is making super intense, apple shaped dumplings with intricately cut dough leaves?! Who even OWNS an intricate leaf cutter?!  While simultaneously Pinterest searching, Alyse asked a very important question: Are you allowed to use crescent rolls?

I hadn’t considered this!  We both kept seeing recipes for “easy apple dumplings” using crescent rolls instead of dough made from scratch.  This seemed like a WAY better option for someone who is baking challenged…

My response to this question?  I made up the project so I think I get to do whatever I want!

I’m really just winging this whole thing and hoping for the best.  As long as the recipe I’m using (or generally disregarding) tells me that the food I’m about to make is in fact the food item for the holiday – I’ll use it!

I opted for a recipe from Sugar Apron that uses crescent rolls instead of dough!  After some comparison I found that other than making the dough from scratch, the recipes contain essentially the same ingredients: some sort of dough or crescent roll, granny smith apples, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and a liquid.  I felt a little bit better about taking the easy way out after making that discovery!


I enlisted the help of Maggie in peeling and dicing the apples – she immediately put on her baking leg warmers and got to work!  Fashion is definitely more important than cooking skills in our house…

After peeling, she “diced” the apples using a butter knife.  Briefly I tried giving her a small pairing knife, but while demonstrating how to use it I cut my own finger and decided that we should both stay away from knives for awhile.  Before assembling the dumplings, I asked Maggie to help clean up the apple peels… which she took to mean “eat the peels when Mom isn’t looking”…. so magically all the peels disappeared!


Next we assembled the dumplings and popped them in the oven.  It called for pouring Sprite or 7Up into the spaces between the dumplings, but (surprise, surprise) I forgot to buy some at the store… so I used lemon La Croix instead.  I’m not really sure what the soda is supposed to do for the recipe so I assumed that anything lemony and carbonated would probably work….

There are two things I really enjoyed about this recipe:

  1. It was so simple that Maggie was able to complete most of the recipe herself.  She really only needed me to put them in the oven and make sure everyone’s fingers stayed intact.  By everyone I mean me.
  2. It only required the dirtying of one pan.  Ryan’s only beef with the increase in baking and desserts that has happened is that now I’m using almost every pan and bowl in the house every night!  We don’t have a dishwasher, and I’m not very good at washing dishes, so this usually leads to a sink full of dishes for a few days while we passive aggressively wait for the other person to wash them…


35 minutes later, they looked great!  I’m SO glad Alyse thought of using the crescent rolls! There’s no way any attempt at pastry dough on my part would have turned out this good!

For dinner, I used The Chunky Chef’s recipe for classic Monte Cristo sandwiches.  I honestly thought a Monte Cristo was just a grilled cheese with some meat thrown in but, once again, I was wrong.  It’s like a magical deep fried meat and cheese sandwich!  How have a gone my entire life without enjoying this creation?! When I mentioned this fact to my friend Katharine later in the night she knew exactly what a Monte Cristo was AND had enjoyed one at a Bennigans!  What the fuck is a Bennigans and where can I find one?!


Everything about this seemed amazing – until I began to question how to actually fry this sandwich without it falling apart…


Like this… I went to put the sandwich in the pan with the oil and basically exploded the ingredients…

The recipe suggested using toothpicks to keep it together so I gave that I shot and had more success.


By toothpicks I mean weird little cupid arrows made of wood because that’s what we have in our house…

During all of this, Ryan came down and gave a glowing review of my frying skills!  He was so impressed by the “golden brown coloring” of the sandwiches, I couldn’t believe it!  He loved it so much that he hung out at the table for a little while to talk at me about the rising cost of Kraft singles…

Ryan: You’re putting a lot of cheese on those…

Me: One slice didn’t fit the bread so I used two

Ryan: Yeah, you gotta use one and a half.  Singles are fucking expensive.  That’s like $5.00 worth of cheese that you just used.


Ryan: Did you use all the singles?

Me: No.  They’re the Target brand and they cost $3 for a whole package. I used 6 slices.

There was some back and forth about the cost of singles which led to consulting the receipt.  They cost $3.17 for a 24 pack of singles.

Ryan: That’s still a lot.  They should be like 25 cents.  They’re not even real cheese.  They’re so good though.


This was my face during this time.

*fun fact: Almond cheese and I reunited for the making of my Monte Cristo.  It was good, just like old times.

“Do We Have Wine?”

I would like a reset on this afternoon.

Here is how I was feeling around 5:30 today while I waited in the pouring rain for Nicky’s bus.  Which was 30 minutes late.  Again.


Thank GOD today happened to be both National Linguine Day (easy dinner) AND National Creme de Menthe Day (BOOZE!!!!!!)

I stopped at the liquor store over my lunch break and picked up a bottle of Creme de Menthe, and immediately felt 90 years old.  The cashier at the local liquor barrel seemed very confused as to why I was buying Creme de Menthe – did I need any rum? No. Did I want a 6-pack? No, just point me to the minty liquor sir.



Kevin Belton, whose PBS cooking show I watch religiously on Saturday mornings, has explained the “Holy Trinity” of New Orleans cooking to me as onion, celery and green bell pepper.  In our house, the “Holy Trinity” refers to basil, garlic and onion and when I’m running late: packaged spice versions of these!


This, combined with ingredients I already had in the house – tomatoes, ground beef, linguine noodles – led to a perfectly adequate celebration of National Linguine Day!



On to the good stuff: Creme de Menthe!

Until recently, I didn’t realize that Creme de Menthe had alcohol in it – I thought it was just fancy mint extract.  I grew up eating ‘Grasshopper Cake’ that my mom made which consisted of chocolate cake and a frosting made with Creme de Menthe.  I always witnessed her pull the Creme de Menthe from the baking cabinet, never the liquor cabinet, so I grew up assuming it was strictly a baking ingredient.

Insert Ryans mom and her desire to give me a ‘digestive’ drink occasionally after dinner.  I can vividly recall being handed a LARGE glass of bright green liquid that tasted minty as hell after Thanksgiving dinner at Ryan’s parent’s house.  It was supposed to settle my stomach after a heavy meal.  Or make it worse, I’m not really sure.  Turns out, it contained Creme de Menthe and will get you drunk if you drink it all.  I now knew that Creme de Menthe was a whole lot more than just fancy mint flavoring.

I played around with the idea of making Creme de Menthe brownies or cake in honor of my moms traditional cake, but then the whole bus situation happened and I needed to honor the day a little differently.  Taking a cue from Ryan’s mom, I made after dinner drinks that looked terrifying….

They turned out to be the exact same shade of green as my eyes. It was really unsettling.  I looked up some recipes for Grasshoppers and other Creme de Menthe drinks and decided that I would make a variation of them all.  I combined non-dairy coffee ice cream, Creme de Menthe and a little coconut milk in a blender and came up with this:


Aside from the coffee beans floating in it, it’s very reminiscent of that very first Creme de Menthe drink I was served in the Hays living room.  I assumed it would taste just as minty and possibly more delicious due to the addition of the coffee ice cream.


Look at that smile, so full of hope and joy.

It went down hill fast.  It was minty.  It was chunky.  It burned a little on the way down.  My stomach didn’t feel settled at all.  But I no longer cared about the school bus incident!

*fun fact: Because he is a good man, Ryan ran to the wine shop in the midst of all this and picked up my favorite wine.  Not the box kind, the $9.99 kind.  We fancy.


Thanks boo.

Happy Birthday Bookie!

Happy National Cream Filled Doughnut Day!

Conveniently today is also Ryan’s birthday – so I’m off the hook for making a birthday treat!!!  Last year I made a beautiful rainbow cake that tasted… okay… but after the actual birthday night we never ate any more of it.  We’re just not cake eaters I guess.

I debated trying to make a fancy cream filled doughnut cake for the event, but reconsidered on Ryan’s behalf.  It’s his birthday, let’s just give the guy something that’s guaranteed to be delicious!  Call it a birthday gift.

I stopped at Mojo Monkey Donuts on my lunch break and picked up all the cream filled doughnuts they had in stock.  photo-3

This included 4 s’mores doughnuts, 1 creme brûlée doughnut and 2 raspberry cream filled bear claws.  This transaction went a little something like this:

Me: (after staring at overwhelmingly beautiful doughnuts for a few minutes…) Which of these are cream filled?

Very nice doughnut provider: (Lists all the doughnuts then asks) “Are you just looking for filled doughnuts?

Me: It’s national Cream Filled Doughnut Day!  I’m bringing some back to my coworkers to celebrate and also some for my husbands birthday.  Did you know it’s National Cream Filled Doughnut Day?!

Very nice doughnut provider: (Looking confused and frightened) Oh… well… how many do you want?

Me: All of them.

Loudly announcing these holidays to strangers isn’t winning me any new friendships…

Back at work, I distributed doughnuts to some of my coworkers and wished them a Happy Cream Filled Doughnut Day!  All were delighted – with the exception of Damian who laughed at me and pointed out how ridiculous it is to celebrate doughnuts as a holiday.  I scowled.  He might be too hip for doughnuts.


After dinner – Green Mill Deep Dish because FINE it’s your fucking birthday dear, we can order the stupid pizza!!! – I presented Ryan with this delightful s’mores doughnut complete with homemade marshmallow on top. Homemade by a professional doughnut maker who is better equipped and capable of creating something as breathtaking as this doughnut.  It’s stunning.  I could cry.

Maggie also really enjoyed today’s holiday and NEEDED to wear her pimp hat for the occasion.  I also feel it is necessary to share the following conversation that happened at the dinner table – because Maggie is her father.

Maggie: (After seeing a Subway commercial) Oh! Subway! I love Subway!

Ryan: I don’t think you’ve ever had Subway.

Maggie: No!  I like their french fries!

Nicky: (Hehehehehehe) They don’t have french fries!

Ryan: Subway is gross Mag, it’s not even worth it.

Maggie: Have you even had french fries daddy?  You don’t even know.

……… so that happened.

I probably say a lot of things about Ryan on here that, though true, don’t highlight how wonderful he is and how important he is in our family.  So, I’ll end this post with a little Ryan love:  He really is the love of my life, there is no other way to say it.  The last few years together have not always been easy, but the opportunity to celebrate another birthday with him is like a gift for me.  He’s the sane, rational half to our partnership – he’s the (sometimes annoying) reminder that the world does not operate in the magical way I believe it does.  He’s the one holding my hand and keeping me grounded when I need it, but he’s also the one who knows that I need to float around in that special magic world sometimes to really be happy.  He’s truly my other half and often my better half.  So Happy Birthday Bookie, I love you forever.

Not for the Allergic

Happy National Peanut Day!

It should be known that before making tonight’s meal, there was a *completely necessary* debate about whether or not we should just order deep dish pizza instead of making dinner…. One of us was hangry.  The other had an irrelevant holiday to celebrate.  There could be only one champion.

All the arguing gave me a new level of determination – this was going to be THE BEST peanut day anyone had ever had.  I was going to cook the crap out of some peanut sauce and everyone would learn to never question my cooking choices…..

Turns out I have a LOT of feelings about this…


In preparing for today, I looked up some peanut related recipes and decided that it might be best to steer clear of desserts for awhile.  I searched Pinterest, aka the time-suck of all time sucks, for “vegan peanut dinner” and found this recipe from Ceara’s Kitchen for Vegan Spicy Noodles that sounded awesome and only mildly difficult.

I can hear you shouting at me right now.  “But you said you’re not a vegan!  LIAR!”

Seriously, I’m not.  I eat meat.  Lots of meat.  (Feel free to make a dirty joke now.)

I have found that the recipes that show up when I search “dairy-free” are often gross sounding and contain weird ingredients that I refuse to buy.  I don’t mind substituting good cashew or almond cheese for real cheese or using lactose free milk when needed, but you cannot convince me that substituting applesauce for yogurt or avocado for cheese doesn’t alter the taste of something.  Yogurt and applesauce do not taste the same.  They are two fucking different items.  One tastes like apples.  There’s no apples in yogurt.  (I didn’t make up these swaps.  This picture claims it’s true but we all know it’s a lie.)

So that’s why I typically search for vegan recipes.  They don’t have dairy in them and I can easily add chicken instead of whatever made up meat product it suggests.  Or real cheese if  needed – it’s just easier to un-veganize something than it is to try and pretend that avocados taste like cheddar.

I gathered all the ingredients for the recipe and immediately began doubting its simplicity.  That’s a lot of ingredients Ceara.  I’m not a professional Ceara, this may not go well.


The first instruction of the recipe stated:

“In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, maple syrup, miso paste, lemon juice, peanut butter, ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and basil) until smooth and well combined.”

That sounds simple, right?

For all normal human beings it’s probably way easy to whisk together ingredients, but when you are cooking challenged like I am… it just doesn’t work that way.  For starters, this is what miso paste looks like:


Yep.  Looks like poop on a spoon.  Like something I find daily in a toddlers diaper.  The particular brand of miso that I purchased came in a bag inside of a resealable bag.  I’m not sure why, but I took the inside bag out of the resealable bag to squeeze it out.  This seemed like an innocent choice. It’s just a bag right?  The miso makers wouldn’t package it in a way that creates chaos and mess right?  Lies. The miso makers are laughing somewhere at all of us trying to get the inside bag back into the resealable bag without shooting miso all over their kitchen!  The more I tried to maneuver the stupid bags back together the more the miso paste oozed out!  And miso does NOT smell that great.

Eventually I pulled myself together and moved on to the next step – whisking kind of hard natural peanut butter into this mixture.  Mostly solid peanut butter does not want to be whisked into soy sauce, it just doesn’t.  It’s happy being a solid and the more someone tries to make it smooth, the more it clumps together and creates little peanut butter balls.

Approximately 20 minutes later I had what could be considered a “smooth” sauce and moved on to the final steps: pouring boiling water over the rice noodles and eventually combing all the ingredients into one dish.


Maggie REALLY wanted to help make dinner so I gave her the taste of crushing peanuts to use as garnish.  Much like Emily Gilmore, I hate garnish, but in this case it seemed like a good idea to have the meal be more than just saucy noodles.




This actually turned out really delicious!  Even with the addition of chicken and the omission of all the vegetables that I thought Ryan wouldn’t eat – it was awesome!  Ryan loved it and seemed satisfied with the fact that we didn’t order Green Mill deep dish!

The Cutest Chocolate Milks

Happy National Chocolate Milkshake Day!

This holiday also fell on the “morning after I accidentally knocked our tiny TV over and cracked the screen…”

I was going to put off buying a replacement TV and just dealing with the wonky screen, but we also were out of ACTUAL dairy ice cream.  And I forgot to buy malted milk for the shakes….

So, with the promise of being allowed to pick out the new tiny TV, I talked Ryan into a trip to my happy place for supplies.


For a guy who doesn’t really like things – really, he just doesn’t like most things – Ryan has been moderately on board with my need to celebrate National Food Holidays.  There’s a good chance that he’s only in it for the sudden amount of desserts that I’ve been making… but either way, I’ll take it.  He was pretty jazzed about having chocolate milk shakes, especially when I promised to use real ice cream in his and not try to fool him with the non-dairy variety.

No one, however, was as excited as Maggie.  photo-2

She does not normally move at a fast pace.  She only skips places and will get there when she damn well pleases… but she zipped this little cart around Target faster than I could keep up!  Thank God they have these little handles attached so you can hold on for dear life while your almost-four year old drags you around the store!  She then decided to loudly announce – to whom I’m not sure.. sometimes she just talks at the world  – that these would be “the cutest chocolate milks!” There was a lot of “Oh my goodness!” and “It’s so cute!” involved.  She gets her love of food from me – and her need to rant from her father!

Once we made it home, Ryan got to work setting up the new TV while I made celebratory shakes for he and Mag.


I vaguely followed the recipe on the back of the malted milk container… but most just heaped things into our shitty blender.  They both loved them so I feel pretty good about my shake skills.

I followed this up with a non-dairy version for myself 🙂



I Remember This Better…


Happy National Hot Dog Day!


I had lofty plans for creating a “hot dog bar” for dinner tonight based on a Huffington Post article I found on Pinterest.  It boasted “40 Different, Delicious Ways To Eat Hot Dogs”, including cutting the hot dog to look like an octopus. I strongly believe all food should be cut to look like octopus.  My childhood was severely lacking in octopus-shaped food and I would hate to have Nick and Maggie grow up without knowing the joy of an octo-dog!!

I bought all the supplies, I made lists, I dreamt of delicious hot dogs…..

Than my mom came into town and I completely forgot about all my plans until WAY late at night…

So I ate cold hot dogs straight from the package while singing “Happy Hot Dog Day to Me” in a sad, saaaaaad voice.

I remember eating cold hot dogs as a kid and LOVING them.  My own kids eat them when they are at the cabin (with my mom – the original cold hot dog feeder), and they too love them.  I remember them being salty and delicious, like deli meat but in a tube shape.

Turns out, they are like weirds salty meat tubes.  And they wiggle uncomfortably if you shake them.  And you can create odd shapes with them – or use them to express your feelings…

But they are DEFINITELY not as awesome as I remember…

*Fun fact, no wine was consumed during this day.  Seriously. Wine-less Gina also makes poor choices.