Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers


Prep Time: 30 Min

Cook Time: 30 Min

Ready In: 1 Hr






Ingredients
  • 6 green bell peppers
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • water as needed
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt and cheese inside each pepper, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, saute beef, onions and 1 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes (with juice), rice and 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the beef and rice mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle tops with cheese. In a medium bowl, combine tomato soup with just enough water to make the soup a gravy consistency. Pour over the peppers.
  4. Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.
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This was a regular meal in my house growing up and I probably haven't had them since I lived at home. I've been wanting to try the recipe for a long time and finally decided to do it! In hindsight, making this hot dish on a 95+ degree (heat advisory warning) day probably wasn't my best plan. But they were soooo good!

I made some very slight modifications to the recipe (my changes are reflected above). I don't cook with onions because I hate them. Normally I don't feel like anything is missing when I omit onions, but I felt like the meat was a little bland. Next time I plan to mix some of the Worcestershire sauce with the meat and maybe add some onion powder in place of the onions.

Other than that, I pretty much followed the directions exactly. Well I didn't completely follow the steps. As usual, I am incapable of following directions exactly and made some minor errors. I didn't get rid of the seeds. I overlooked that step when following along with the recipe and assumed they would come out in the boiling water. They didn't so please learn from my mistake! Luckily they kind of blended in with the rice and maybe they are filled with fiber or something.

Pat gave the meal a 10+! That's a record for me! I have to say, the leftovers were just as good, if not better than the meal was the first time around. We will definitely be making this meal again but I think we'll wait until the weather cools off a bit first.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

You'll probably notice that my style of writing has a slightly more mature and distinguished flare to it now that I'm 28 (that sounds old, right?). Even though my eggs are slowly rotting and my best baby making years may be behind me (according to my doctor), I still feel just as young as ever! Except for wanting to go to bed by 10:30 every night and barely being able to handle alcohol consumption anymore (minor details).

Anyway, my birthday weekend was absolutely wonderful and I couldn't have planned a more perfect way to say goodbye to 27 and hello to 28!

The weekend started with a date night to the movies with my husband. We decided to go see Horrible Bosses, us and everyone else on the west side of Cleveland, and unfortunately it was sold out. So we saw our second choice, Friends with Benefits. Probably goes without saying but when I say "our" second choice, of course I mean "my."

I really liked this movie and not just because Justin Timberlake is naked several times, although that was definitely a perk. Normally romantic comedies aren't that funny but this movie actually made Pat and I both laugh out loud on several occasions.

It also left me feeling overwhelmingly happy and grateful about the fact that my husband is truly my best friend. I give the movie two thumbs up!

On Saturday, Pat, my MIL Leslie and I went up to the lake to spend the day on the MacAskill's boat. The weather was looking pretty sketchy so no one really knew if we would get much boating action, but we actually got really lucky. We had just enough sunshine to spend a few hours out on the lake, soaking up the sun, lounging around in the big raft and enjoying some Summer Shandy (yum). We got back to the dock just before a big storm rolled in. The timing was perfect! Then we went to dinner where a live band was playing a lot of acoustic Sublime music. It was fun, easy listening music and a really nice dinner! Couldn't have asked for a better group of people to spend the day with!

By the time my actual birthday rolled around, at 12:14 AM on Sunday, July 24, I was already asleep. I guess I really am old, huh? On Sunday morning, I woke up to a surprise day that Pat had planned for me. I knew nothing except that we needed to leave our house by 9:45, that I shouldn't eat breakfast before we go and that I should dress comfortably. I am absolutely horrible with surprises. I love them, but I usually can't handle the suspense so I end up figuring out the surprise. Not this time. I was seriously clueless.

Our first stop was the 100th Bomb Group restaurant for a breakfast brunch buffet. Neither of us had been to this restaurant and wanted to try it, so Pat decided this would be a good time to check it out. I'm so glad we did because the food was amazing and the restaurant was really cool!


I could NOT believe our next stop. I was seriously in shock when Pat pulled into the mall parking lot. I think I even asked him if he was joking. Pat HATES shopping and I obviously love it. I'm always begging him to go with me so I can get his opinion on the clothes I try on before buying them; I'm very indecisive! So he took me to the mall for an afternoon of trying on clothes, his opinions and he was buying. His only stipulation was that he wanted to play angry birds on my phone while I tried clothes on and he would "try his hardest not to complain." And he didn't! He bought me a dress and an outfit for work! It was so nice!


Our third stop was the Wolf Creek Winery in Norton, Ohio. Pat packed a picnic basket full of cheese, crackers and pepperoni to go with the wine. The scenery was beautiful and it was such a nice afternoon. We ended up sampling almost every wine they had (they were only $.25 for each sample) and finally decided to buy a bottle of the apple wine. I had never had such a thing and it was delicious! Seriously like candy. Which is why I ended up drinking two bottles - I did share some. See, this old lady can still hold her own!





Our last stop was for a cookout at my MIL and FIL's house. Even though my brothers and sister-in-laws had all had a very busy weekend of summer games (somewhat of a beer olympics) and were extremely tired, they were all good sports and made my birthday evening so much fun! We ate, I drank more apple wine and then we played fun games. Of course I didn't win any of them, I guess that isn't changing with age, but I still had fun!

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world and had a more special birthday than I think I deserve! Here's to age 28 - the new 18! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thinking about today...

Exactly one year ago today, I woke up to a phone call from my mom and Mark telling me Mark's cancer was back. They said it was his worst re-occurrence yet. As always, Mark sounded extremely positive and hopeful and even said, "My time here is not done." I couldn't help but be sad for the rest of the day, even though they told me not to be.

Exactly six months ago today, Mark died. It's really hard to believe. When I think about the fact that it's been six months and how often I still miss him and cry, it makes me kind of embarrassed. Maybe I'm a slow griever? Or maybe I just truly appreciate what an amazing person I had in my life and know that he is worth missing!

Either way, I can't help but think about him and these "anniversaries" that fall on my birthday. Don't worry, though. I'm not sitting here having a pity party for myself! If my step-dad Mark taught me anything about life, he taught me that life is for the living and to live each day to the fullest. So that is what I plan to do.

My husband has a surprise day planned for me. I know nothing about what we're doing (which is absolutely torturing the planner in me! How am I supposed to know what to wear?). All I know is that we're leaving in 45 minutes, I can dress casual and comfortable and I'm not supposed to eat breakfast! I can't wait to to figure out what we're doing and spend the day with my amazing husband! I know for sure, that is what Mark would want.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza

Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza


Prep Time: 20 Min

Cook Time: 20 Min

Ready In: 2 Hr 40 Min



Ingredients
  • 1 box Betty Crocker® brownie mix
  • Butter and eggs called for on brownie mix box
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray or shortening.
  2. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, butter and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.
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This is the tasty little number I made for our 4th of July cookout. And I do mean tasty. I'm not even a huge dessert person and I couldn't stop eating it! I even ate it for breakfast the next day (hey, it's fruit!).

Our pizza pan has holes in it so I used my best judgement and decided it wouldn't be a good idea to pour brownie batter on it. I'm so smart, aren't I? Instead, I used two pie pans. I always seem to overcook my brownies so this time, I decided I would cook it for the minimum amount listed on the box and then take it out so the brownies would be nice and gooey. It worked and gooey they were, but not too gooey.

I didn't have any apple jelly and didn't think it would ever get eaten if I bought it so I decided to use strawberry jam instead. Rather than brushing the jelly over the fruit, I mixed it with the cream cheese frosting. Not only did this taste delicious, but it made the cream cheese frosting a little thinner and easier to spread on top of the brownies.

After letting the brownies cool for an hour or so, I tried to start frosting them and they started to crumble into the frosting so I knew they weren't cool enough. I put them in the refrigerator for another half an hour and by the time I took them out again, they frosted very easily.

I didn't use raspberries. For no particular reason other than I had already bought a ton of other fruit and food for our cookout and fruit is expensive so I was trying to save a little money. I don't think they were missed but I'm sure they would be good, too.

My final recommendation is that it might be easier to take the entire brownie mixture out of the pie pan before frosting. I had a lot of difficulty getting the pieces to come out of the pie pan and thought maybe if I would have done it before, it would have been easier. I took a knife and separated the brownie from the edges of the pie pan and this made it a little bit easier but they were still kind of stuck to the bottom of the pan.

All in all, this was a very easy recipe to make, it looked very festive for the holiday and it was absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good times

I'm really late with this update, so I apologize. But I'm starting to operate under the, "better late than never," philosophy with my blog.

Last Wednesday, Pat and I went out to dinner at our favorite Angelo's pizza in Lakewood. I don't miss the annoying cops and frivolous traffic violations in Lakewood, but boy do I miss Angelo's pizza. It was our first time eating outside on their patio, too. Good eats. Good company. After dinner, we went to the Rock Hall to see the Fitz and the Tantrums perform live, outside as a part of the FREE Summer in the City Concert Series. It was a beautiful night in Cleveland and this group was just as good live as they are on their CD's. If you haven't heard the Fitz, listen to one of my favorite songs here. After the concert we went out for ice cream. Have I mentioned I LOVE summer?

Fitz and the Tantrums concert
Last weekend we went camping with my college roommies (minus Emily Tucker-Halm - WE MISSED YOU) at my dad and Jill's house. Yes, you read that right. I did say camping at my parents' house. Don't judge. They have 13 acres (even though we camp within a stone's throw away from their house). But it's free, we can be as loud as we want without worrying about disturbing other campers and as long as you're sleeping in a tent, I still think it's camping. Are you with me? The weekend was quite eventful. Within twenty minutes of being there Grady got kicked by the donkeys. I cried. He was fine and he learned a valuable lesson. We played games, went canoeing, made campfire meals and had a great time. Love my old roommies and wish we all saw each other more often.



Last night we met up with the Duffys and the Detwilers at Tommy's restaurant in North Ridgeville. The pizzas were DELICIOUS and they even had an entire page of gluten-free food for Julie-D! I can honestly say, when it comes to buffalo chicken pizza, I've never had better! And they love Jesus. (see sign below).

'Make no mistake Jesus Christ is Lord." Amen.
After dinner we went over to the Detwilers for some beers, Euchre and some interesting conversation about the Casey Anthony trial, the judicial system and politics. Don't worry, no beers were thrown or mean words exchanged. It was a fun night!

Julie-D and me!
Today we are off to Youngstown for the 1st Annual Stitle Pigroast where Pat can reconnect with some of his college roommates. It should be a good time, if I can avoid seeing the dead pig spinning around on a stick. I also found out yesterday that at the last pig roast he attended, Pat actually ate some of the brain matter of the pig. He didn't say whether he did it as a result of losing a bet or just because he was highly intoxicated. Either way, I threw up in my mouth when he told me. Gross.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Panties in a bunch

I don't even really like the word panties. Actually, I despise it. But yet, I still find myself using the phrase "don't get your panties in a bunch," when a situation warrants such a thing. I'm pretty sure I've said it to Pat, who doesn't even wear panties. Go figure.

Anyway, I bring this up because today, my panties are literally in a bunch. Not because I'm upset; my day has been quite pleasant, actually. Well, except for the fact that my panties are in a bunch.

The problem is, I'm wearing panties underwear that are a size too small for me and therefore they are cutting off my circulation. I remember back in the day when I could wear a size extra small - in everything, including my underwear. And by back in the day, I mean all the way back to high school and perhaps my freshman year of college. It was a sad day when I had to go up to a size small. As you can imagine, it was an even harder day when I realized that I should go up to a size medium. But I didn't.

Instead, I kept pretending that I could still fit into my size small underwear and refused to get rid of them. When I buy new underwear now, I will buy a medium. But I still can't bring myself to get rid of the smalls. And when your laundry isn't clean or is clean but isn't put away, which is the case right now (I'm REALLY bad about putting my clothes away - I have one flaw and now you've discovered it), you have to resort to some of the old underwear left in your drawer. And for me, every single pair of underwear left in my drawer are all size small.

Do you hold on to old underwear, too, or is it just me? If you get rid of them, what do you do? Throw them away? With old clothes, you can give them away to charity and feel somewhat good about it. With underwear, you just have to throw them away and that seems wasteful and weird. But I'm quite positive no one, no matter how poor they are, want my used underwear. Gross.

Of course all of the underwear my dog swallowed whole were my medium-sized pairs. Maybe I should start feeding him the smalls. That is one way to get rid of them.

Whats a girl to do? I guess I need some new panties underwear.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Get your powder on

So it’s summer and you want to dress accordingly for the season. You picture cute shorts and tank tops, right? Not for me. You see, I have a very difficult time finding shorts that are at a length appropriate for both my age and my thunder thighs. When did all of the shorts get so short? Or have they always been this short and it just didn’t bother me when I was skinny enough to wear them?

If I do find shorts that are the right length, they are usually made for older women who are comfortable pulling pants up to their belly buttons. I’m not quite there yet. Maybe someday I will be, but not yet. For these reasons, I just avoid shorts all together which leads me to wearing dresses, like I am today. Dresses are great except that your thighs rub together when you’re wearing them and if it’s hot, they get sweaty and sticky. And after going around all day with your legs rubbing together, you can be sure that you will end up with leg chafage (aka leg chaffing).

It’s been so long since I’ve had skinny legs that I can’t remember if this is problem for everyone or just for those of us with big thighs that rub up against each other when walking. So I must ask you, skinny legs people; do your thighs touch each other, or not? If not, that may be just the extra motivation that I need to get my butt (and thighs) into gear and get skinny again! If your answer is yes, you are skinny and your legs still rub against each other, then I guess we're all in this together.

It turns out, guys have this problem, too. For as long as I have known Pat, he has always carried around Gold Bond medicated powder in his golf bag. I’m pretty sure I used to make fun of him when he would tell me about powdering up in the parking lot before going golfing. Maybe I had skinnier legs then and just could not relate to leg chafage, but I can assure you, I no longer make fun of Pat for his powder use. In fact, I’ve jumped on board.

A few years ago, if you would have told me that by my 28th birthday I would be carrying around a travel size bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder in my purse, I never would have believed you. Reluctantly, I must admit, just three weeks shy of the big 2-8, that day has come. Not only do I carry it around in my purse, but I will not think twice about whipping it out in public and rubbing it on my thighs if necessary.

You have to admit, it's pretty cute!
A few weekends ago, while in Columbus for the bachelorette party, I had to powder up mid-walk to one of the bars. Granted, it was Comfest weekend so me putting powder on my legs seemed like nothing compared to the hippies walking around with painted boobs. And just today, I’ve had to powder up once already at work. It is now a part of my life and I've accepted it for what it is.

Once you're able to swallow your pride, or once you get leg chafage so bad that you can barely walk, whichever comes first, you, too, may want to consider going out and purchasing your own travel size bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder to keep in your purse. Go ahead, get your powder on. One day, you will thank me.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

I'm not sure how to even summarize this amazing weekend without writing a novel. Although, most of my blogs are novel length anyway so what's the difference? It was an amazing weekend. I love food, I love fun and I love the 4th of July, all of which made this weekend absolutely perfect!

I had the day off on Friday so I slept in a little, woke up and went straight to work. I was working on a very special surprise for my SIL and BIL, Traci & Russ, who told Pat and I recently that we are going to be aunt and uncle to their little Baby Tigue in January 2012! WOO HOO!!! So I wanted to make Traci a pregnancy scrapbook/journal that she could use throughout her pregnancy. My mission was to complete it before our cookout on Saturday so that I could give it to her. I finished the book and she loved it. Mission accomplished!

Pat wasn't fortunate enough to have Friday off of work so I drove to Elyria to meet him for lunch. Since we work over an hour away from each other, meeting for lunch is a very rare and special occasion. There is also a really yummy Thai restaurant there. I loved it!

We spent Friday night getting ready for the Robinson Third Annual 4th of July Cookout! I guess we've started a tradition! Great company, good food, 4th of July accessories, water balloon slingshot and a water balloon toss. It was so much fun! I'm not trying to brag, but I hit the human target right in the head with my water balloon (sorry, Mike). If you don't believe me, watch the video below and see for yourself.

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On Sunday I went to another fun cookout at my dad and Jill's house. There were more games, more water balloons more great friends and family and more great food! And at night, we rode in my Uncle Paul's new pink limousine to the top of a hill and watched 360 degrees of fireworks in 12 or 13 different cities, among over 40 Amish. After the fireworks show, 22 of the Amish kids piled into the limo for a ride home and I piled into the back of an Amish cart with my dad for my very first Amish buggy ride. It was such a neat night!

Monday was a much needed lazy day at the Robinson household and we didn't even leave our house until 5 PM when we took Grady to the metroparks (one of my favorite parts about living in Cleveland) for a nice walk/jog. That evening, much to Pat's chagrin, we went and watched the Westlake fireworks. I literally had to drag him to the fireworks. I remember 6 years ago on our very first 4th of July together, Pat was so eager to take me to the fireworks in Brunswick. Note to those who aren't married, once they have you legally, all romance goes out the window. I'm just kidding. Kind of.

Today, Pat had the day off work so I took a vacation day. We drove to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park - my first time there and went for a three mile walk. We then had a picnic, using our picnic basket that we got for our wedding two years ago for the very first time. It was so fun and perhaps, even slightly romantic. Disregard my previous claim that all romance is gone. AND, Pat even packed our lunches. Doesn't get much more romantic than that!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!