Delicious Free-Ta-Tas!

Tonight I made a frittata. 

In case you are unaware, a frittata is an Italian crustless Quiche.  It’s also referred to as an Italian omelette.  It’s a very delicious and protein packed meal, and it’s a good thing to eat after a strenuous workout because when your muscles are recovering, i.e. sore, they need protein to rebuild.  It’s what will help you walk the next day. 

I did my workout this morning, it’s XTrainFit, which is a little less intense version of a muscle confusion workout, similar to P90X.  It’s a little more beginner friendly, and my hubby is beginning a workout routine, whereas I have been on one much longer.  Since he decided to join me, I decided to shelf P90X until we can survive 90 days of this program together.  To ramp it up a little, I’m still running in the evenings to add more cardio.

Anyway, the recipe turned out delicious, and my husband likes to call frittatas “free ta-tas” because he is basically a twelve-year-old boy.  I laughed at it, so I must be one, too. 

Here is the recipe that I made tonight, and it was inspired by all the veggies I had in the fridge that must have been used by tonight, or they would face the trash tomorrow. 

kale frittata carbonara

Kale Frittata Carbonara (I added the Carbonara because it has bacon, and it sounded fancy!)

6 eggs

1/2 c parmesan or romano cheese, shredded

1/2 c mozzarella, shredded (I used one with pepperoni and marinara flavors incorporated)

1/2 c 2% milk (if you’re not watching fat, you can use heavy cream, and it’s delicious!)

1 c onions, diced

1c sweet red peppers, diced

2 c kale, stems and chewies removed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp Oregano, dried (or fresh to taste, I just didn’t have any)

1 tbsp butter

10 slices of bacon cooked crispy, crumbled

black pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat broiler in oven.

In an oven-safe saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown garlic with oregano.  Add in the onion and peppers.  Cook until almost soft.  Add in kale.  Cook until kale has softened to your liking.  Set aside from heat, but leave the burner on. Toss in the bacon crumbles.

In a separate bowl, blend eggs, milk, and both cheeses. 

Push veggies to the side in the pan and return to medium heat.  Pour the egg and cheese mixture into the open space.  Let cook for just a moment until the egg begins to just stick to the bottom.  Quickly blend in the veggies and bacon from the side.  Do NOT scramble.  If scrambling begins to happen, remove from heat and turn down burner.

You should have a semi-liquid mixture.  Leave on medium heat burner until the bottom begins to set and top starts to turn barely white and bubbly.

Transfer whole pan to oven under broiler.

WATCH. LIKE. A. HAWK. to prevent burning.  Time will depend on oven and rack placement.  I had my rack set down low, and the broiler on high.  Took about three minutes to brown and set fully.

Once golden brown and no longer runny, remove quickly, slice into four servings, and serve immediately.

This would be an amazing brunch option, but we ate it for dinner and had coffee with it to drink.  It was the perfect combination.  I imagine a nice red wine would be nice as well, but we did not have one!

12 Points Plus for Weight Watchers if you use the exact measurements I used.  I put it into the recipe builder to get that measurement. 

I encourage you to try this.  It sounds complicated, but let me tell you, if you are like me and either chop and freeze your veggies or chop and store them ahead, it only takes around a half hour.

Oh, and my bacon tip, and trust me, I make the best bacon, is that I make it in the oven.

If you line a pan with foil, then top with parchment, you can lay out the bacon to cover the pan without overlapping.  You then set your timer to 20 minutes and the oven to 400.  I have never once burned the bacon, and it’s always chewy without being too crispy.  Perfection.  May take a little longer if you use thick bacon. 

You can cook a whole amount ahead and crumble, storing in the fridge, as an add on for extra flavor, if you have the points.  Bacon is ALWAYS worth the points to me.  So is real, grass-fed butter. 

Happy cooking!

 

 

 

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Sweet and Sour Quinoa

 

Here is a little recipe that I came up with tonight based on what was in my fridge and what I had points left to eat today (Weight Watchers Points Plus). 

 

I am not affiliated with or paid by WW.  My point values were calculated with the recipe builder and are not verified by WW.

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Here is the recipe.  It was SO good.  Even my three-year-old son loved it!

Here is what you will need: 

3 cups prepared quinoa

1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded (I used just the breast meat, about 8 oz)

1/2 butternut squash, cooked soft and cubed

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper chopped

3/4 c pecan halves, chopped (after measured)

1/2 c craisins

 

For the dressing-

juice of one lemon

juice of one lime

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c fresh cilantro, very very finely chopped

mix in a bowl, set to the side.

Instructions-

Saute the onion and pepper in a pan with some olive oil (I spray mine), add in the shredded chicken and cooked squash and turn pan down to low.  Stir in the dressing. 

 

Put the cooked quinoa in a bowl.  Top with the chicken mixture.  Throw in the craisins and pecans and stir. 

 

Zesty, fresh, sour, sweet, and all with a neat nutty texture.  Tip- To reduce bitterness and add flavor to quinoa, make sure you rinse it first and then cook it with half chicken broth and half water. 

Divided into six servings, it’s 11 points plus each.  It’s fewer points if you add components separately, so keep that in mind, trackers! 

 

Toss it in a bowl.

Receive love and adoration, as you deserve.  You are a whole food goddess. 

You’re welcome.

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Here Comes Sketti Boo Boo

I don’t know if you are as trashy as I am, but I love watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC.

Sure, there are ten million reasons not to watch it, but my inner armchair anthropologist can’t help but observe the Southern family in its natural habitat.  I’m a Southern girl.  I know families just like this.  Heck, I’m friends with families like this.  I’m not like this myself, but I get it, and I’m not very judgmental about it because I know that so much of it is influenced by where they live and their socio-economic status.

The episode that got to my amateur chef side is the episode where mama June is making the old family recipe of “Sketti.”  Seriously, watch the clip.  If you don’t,  you’ll have no clue why this post is so amazing.

Her basic recipe for “Sketti” is that she makes spaghetti noodles and makes a sauce for them using equal parts Country Crock and ketchup.

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I kid you not.  She calls this an old family recipe.

Strange, but why not?

I decided to try the recipe and see if it is as gross as it seems that it would be.

Yeah, it totally was.

ImageYeah, my microwave has diabetes now

ImageHad a “tomato soup’s white trash cousin” thing going on, according to my husband

Oh, it was bad indeed. I started to toss it, but then I felt guilty.  I’d be throwing away a legitimate food source that this family regularly eats.

Rather than toss it, I asked myself what I could do to make it taste better.  Tomatoes and butter sound like the beginning of a vodka sauce to me!  I even went the extra authentic step of using dried herbs that most lower socio-economic status homes would have on hand.

Jennifer’s Honey Boo Boo Vodka Sketti-stravaganza

equal parts butter and ketchup, melted

oregano to taste

garlic powder to taste

onion powder to taste

vodka (dunno how much)

basil to taste

grated Parmesan

I put the sauce over medium high heat until it boiled.  I let it reduce by about 25% and then added water because it seemed really gross (lesson here, don’t let it reduce).

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I threw in all the ingredients above and let it boil, whisking constantly until it smelled like the spices were incorporated, and then I removed it from the heat, whisking in the grated Parmesan.

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Staying true to my Honey Boo Boo inspiration, I had to test to see if the noodles were ready.  How do we do this, Alana?  We throw it at the kitchen cabinet!

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The finished product, poured over noodles with additional Parmesan cheese to garnish.

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The verdict?  The end product actually tasted sort of decent, like a very low price jar of grocery store sauce.  You definitely wouldn’t know it was made with ketchup.  It was certainly not delicious, but I think I could pass it off as a homemade sauce if I made it in a slow cooker and tweaked the spice amounts. No, I’m not kidding.

Will I make Sketti again?  Nope.  The mental block was too much for my husband, and I am the only one who ate it at dinner.  He popped open a can of Prego.  My Sketti sauce tasted better, but it was just the idea of it.

He’s so uppity.

Would you try Sketti?

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Best. Wrong. Number. Ever. (or, How I met DJ Sketchy Mike)

Tonight at dinner my mother-in-law asked me if I had any pictures of my husband’s cousin’s new baby.  It’s the South, every drop of common blood means kinship for life.

I looked on my phone to see if my archaic iPhone would pull up Facebook quickly enough to be useful, and alas, it was crapping out.  I asked my husband if he had Mandy’s number, and he looked it up for me, and I sent her a text message.

The oddest conversation emerged… behold the image:

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The first time she mentioned “perks” I assumed it was an autocorrect of “pics,” so I tried to make a lame joke about standard perks (hence the insurance comment, yeah, I’m lame).

I began to get puzzled by her responses, and asked her if she was having a stroke (slurred speech and nonsensical talk are no laughing matter!)

I was showing the chain of messages to my husband who was equally confused when the phone rang.

Here is how the conversation went:

Me:  Hello?

Caller: (lazily, smarmily) Heeeey…

Me:  Who is this?

Caller:  It’s Mike.  You got the perks?

Me:  I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think I have the wrong number.

Sketchy Mike: Perks.  Percocet.  I need some.

Me:  I definitely don’t have Percocet (all of this was beginning to sink in at this point)  I definitely have the wrong number.  This number used to belong to my cousin Mandy, and I was trying to get her to send me a picture of her new baby.

Sketchy Mike:  You don’t have any perks?  You know where I can get some?

Me:  Well, since she just had a baby, she may have some, but I doubt she’ll share.  Sorry.

Sketchy Mike:  So, Jennifer, can I ask you a question?  How old are you?

Me:  Um, I don’t think I want to talk to you anymore.

Sketchy Mike:  (laughing) Ah, alright girl.  Good night.

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Artist’s Rendering of Sketchy Mike

I laughed harder than I have in quite some time… until it occurred to me that there was a darker undercurrent even than the wanton drug use…  I asked, “Are you having a stroke?”

His answer, “Not yet, need perks.”

Uhm…  He was not talking about a blockage in a brain artery…  Oh dear…

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Something tells me he was also not referring to painting techniques…

 I did finally get in touch with real Mandy, and she was quite pleased that the first memory I will have of her son will be attached to such a great story.  Can’t wait to meet this kid.

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I wanna squish his cute face!

Another wonderful side-effect of this rather traumatic conversation is that Matt now has a DJ name, in the event he ever becomes a DJ:  DJ Sketchy Mike.  Since he is still in the market for a job, this may be a possibility.

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Matt is still recovering from the club scene in Blade, so I doubt DJ Sketchy Mike will be making any appearances any time soon.

All in all, a very entertaining moment, and it has taught me to never underestimate the ability of sketchy males to turn anything, including dire physical health issues, into a double entendre.

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Making my own lavender/tea tree laundry detergent

I watched a really interesting documentary last night.  It is called Chemerical and it streams live on Netflix.

The whole purpose of the movie was to point out how many volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) are in our homes due to the chemicals that we  use to clean (bleach, ammonia, sulfates, pthalates, etc).

There were several recipes for things that can replace the nasty chemicals in our homes, and I decided to start with the one that I am about to run out of, laundry detergent.

Here is the recipe that I used:

Jennifer’s Lavender Tea Tree Oil Laundry Detergent

1 gallon plus 10 cups of water

1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree soap, grated

2 cups Borax

2 cups Arm and  Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)

20 drops of lavender essential oil

It’s really easy.  You put the 10 cups of water into a sauce pan, dissolve the grated soap by stirring over medium high heat.  Then you add the borax and soda and mix until it is dissolved.  Set off heat.

I used a three gallon bucket from Home Depot.  Into that, you add a gallon of hot water, then pour in the soap mixture and stir.  Fill to the top with water and stir again. Add about 20 drops lavender oil.

Skim the suds off the top.  Let cool.  Once cool, it will be a thin gel, and you can use it a quarter cup at a time in the washing machine, even high efficiency because it’s a low suds formula.

And that’s it.  It smells WONDERFUL.  My whole apartment smells like lavender.  I feel like I’m doing something good for the earth and for my family.  Happy Earth Day!

 

***Edit***

The next morning, I freaked out because it had basically solidified into this weird gelatinous mess, but when I stirred it, it became a thick liquid again.  No worries, I just didn’t want anyone to think they’d messed up!

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Blue Like Jazz: Reviewed

“I have always distrusted memoir. I tend to write my memoirs through my fiction. It’s easier to get to the truth by not claiming that you are speaking it. Some things can be said in fiction that can never be said in memoir.”
Armistead Maupin

Matt and I went to see Blue Like Jazz today.

I must say that as far as movies adapted from memoirs go, this one was excellent.

I suspect that some people will be unsatisfied with this movie because it is not “true” to the stories told in the book, but it is important to note that it is a fictionalized account of true events.  It seems to me that for the purpose of film adaptation, Donald Miller had to condense multiple friends into a few well-rounded characters.  It also seems that for the purpose of making the transition from scene to scene smooth and interesting, he had to play around with the timeline of things and the placement of certain conversations in different circumstances.

I wanted to put that out there, so that no one would be confused as he or she watched it.  One cannot watch it and expect a literal reenactment of the book, as the book was not written in complete narrative form.

As far as the production quality goes, I found the movie to be well done.  There were some interesting nods to the book.  A scene where the reflection of a bridge in car windows called to mind the image on the cover of the book.  The cinematography was well done, and the party scenes were as close to an actual party scene as I have ever seen in a movie about faith.  Most “Christian” movies get this as wrong as a “Hell House” does.

The actors all seemed real, and the fact that I didn’t know who any of them were gave them some credibility as the actual  people I had envisioned in my mind.

Blue Like Jazz the book came to me at a time in my life about eight years ago when I desperately needed to feel less alone.  I needed to know that there were other freaks like me who had questions and needed validation that I was not floating out in space all by myself.  There are elements of the book that I have revisited and changed my mind or approach about since that time.  The interesting part is that it seems that Miller may have done the same thing.

The main example of this is the confessional booth.  I will not post any spoilers, but I must say that shifting the focus from “they” to “I” seems to be a reflection of an additional ten years of maturity and wisdom on the part of the writer.  It also rang true with me.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie.  I left the theater with my husband and we commenced an excellent discussion about where we both were when we read it and where we are now.  Incidentally, we were in similar places spiritually and situationally to the protagonist and Penny.

This book and the movie will always have a special place in my heart, and I highly recommend seeing it.  I think it will leave you with more questions than answers, and that is probably the point.

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A Plea for Politeness Regarding Asking about a Couple’s Intentions for a Second Child

This is very non-Valentine related (for which, I’m sure some of you are grateful). It does have a lot to do with love, though, so it’s relevant.

At this point in my life, most of my married friends are producing their second offspring.  I keep getting asked by many people (family, friends, complete strangers at Target) when we are having another one.  The polite answer is, “we are considering only having one.”  This elicits looks that range from shock to scorn.  To be frank, this annoys the hell out of me.

Just like the dreaded, “When are you guys having kids?” question which, to be honest, is not really anyone’s business but our own.  Please allow me to give you a non-exhaustive list of situations where this unsolicited request for information and prying may be offensive:

  • If the couple in question is having financial problems, but they would like to have a child, and they feel it is irresponsible at the time.
  • If the couple wants another child, but there are health or fertility issues at play.  This one is especially bad because it is really emotionally painful and terribly sensitive to the person in the couple with the issue.  When your body fails you, you have horrible guilt about it sometimes, and it will wreck you emotionally.  Adding in random strangers figuratively probing your gonads to see if they are working does not help.  (Shout out to all my friends who have this issue.  I’m saying this on your behalf because I love you and respect your privacy).
  • If the couple is planning to adopt, but they don’t feel like telling you about it because they are not sure it will happen for them, or because people get all weird about adoption (that is a story for an entirely different post).
  • If the couple is having marital problems.
  • If the couple’s first child is having expensive health issues.
  • If the couple’s first child has developmental issues that you are not privy to.
  • If the couple is secretly brother and sister and they are just happy their first baby doesn’t have two heads (ok, that one is a stretch, but I don’t want to seem too angry, so there’s your humor for the post).
  • If the couple really only wants one child for their own set of reasons that you are not privy to because, let’s be honest, it’s none of your freaking business to begin with, and if they want you to know, they’ll tell you about it.
  • If the couple has considered the fact that not all siblings get along, and just having them around is no guarantee  of their kid not being lonely.

I get the negative sides to raising an only child:  my kid could be lonely, my kid may wish he had siblings in the future, my kid may want someone to share memories with in the future when we are gone, my kid may be self-absorbed and/or anti-social, etc.

Allow me to inform you of some of the benefits:  my kid gets 100% of our attention when we are with him, which is working wonders on his social skills and learning, my kid gets the benefit of all of our limited resources, we can potentially become debt free earlier on (securing the funds to place him in a good school in the future), my kid won’t have to worry about student loans, my kid already has a decent amount of savings because we can afford it, etc.  I could go on, but I won’t.

I’m not saying having more than one child is bad.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I love my sister, and she is awesome, and I’m glad she’s around.  I get it.  I just don’t find it to be the best plan for our family.  I know a lot of siblings who don’t even speak.  I know that inheritance issues get iffy.  I also know that as we get older, we do need those important people in our lives, but you know who is under-appreciated in that equation?  Cousins.  Hello, I have awesome cousins, as well as a sister, with whom I share rich childhood memories and memories of my parents during that time.

This post doesn’t mean that we won’t have another child.  It also does not disclose which reason applies to my husband, son, and me.  That is none of your business –unless I choose to share it with you. I love my husband and son in a fiercely loyal way that will cut you if you mess with them.  I am, after all, pretty gangsta.

I say this not out of rudeness, but out of a desire to help myself and others set boundaries and make certain that you know your place in the scheme of my ovaries.  They are, of course, mine and not yours.  If we are close, it is likely that I will share this with you at some point because it is not a secret; it is simply my information to share and not yours to request unless we have a very close friendship or family relationship.  Even then, it could be touchy for some of the reasons listed above.

The point of all of this is to remind people to be respectful of other people’s decisions.  Just because you chose something else does not mean that a different choice is bad.  It is simply different.  It may work better for the people involved.  Perhaps they will regret it one day, cry to you, and you can cross your arms, shake your head, judge them, and condescendingly tell them that you were right.  Somehow, though, that seems counterproductive to friendship and love for others;  if you like that type of thing, you’re probably not a person I would share my plans with anyway.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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