I AM the Crazy Neighbor Lady!

A few months ago I was a bit bored and when I’m bored, I sometimes decide to find something around the house to take pictures of. While meandering around, I found a little dandelion in my front yard growing up against the landscape block in front of my house. I decided that since this little guy had somehow escaped the perfectionist yard tending of my detail oriented husband, G1, I would see about getting up close and getting some pictures of it. In fact, I had decided to see if I could somewhat, re-create this .

So I went and fetched a cup of water and G2 (my beloved camera) and proceeded back outside to my front yard. I glanced around,  saw that my neighbors all seemed to be inside, so I, a grown woman, laid down on my stomach, reached my hand in the cup, submerged it in the water, then pulled it out to sprinkle it on this tiny dandelion. Soon, as I was sprawled on the front yard, facing a block wall, G2 and I were snapping away, trying to find the ‘just right’ angle at which to shoot this little guy. I was in my own little artistic world, both creating and at the same time marveling at the intricate detail and the frail beauty of this God forsaken weed when suddenly I was pulled back, into the dimension of consciousness with the words “What are you doing?”

I, flat on my stomach, feet stretching towards the street, turned my head to see my neighbors, a nice, young couple standing next to each other in their driveway, her, with their precious one year old son in her arms, looking at their crazy neighbor lady with bemused smiles on their faces. Initially, I felt my whole body as well as what dignity I thought I had, cringe at the thought of how I must look. I clumsily got to my feet and stuttered out “T-taking a picture of a, a um, dandelion?”

They looked at each other, chuckled to each other as if their previous conversations about their “not right neighbors” were somehow backed up by this newest piece of evidence and said “Ok”. I, started laughing at myself (with them) and told them I’d email them the link to my picture. I promised them that as ridiculous as I know I looked, I hoped that they would see that something so tiny could be a thing of beauty. We ended with a good laugh as they took their son for a walk around the neighborhood.

Yes, I too think I am crazy at times but honestly, once I get past that initial cringe of self consciousness, I don’t care. I enjoy getting down and close up to things most pass by. It brings me peace, and reminds me of the beauty in all things, even the little ones.

Cheese Stuffed Chicken

4 Skinless chicken breast filets

4 oz goat cheese

Sundried tomatoes, diced

1 red pepper cut into strips

garlic salt

black pepper

8 slices of bacon

toothpicks

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the chicken breast (start at the thickest part of the side) and fold open as pictured below:

I must interrupt this recipe to point out the new pan in the above picture.

 It was a gift from my Aunt Cheryl.

She saw my recipe for Italian Sausage Stromboli and the pathetic cookie sheet I was using (that I had hoped no one would notice) and she felt compelled to buy me a new baking sheet.

 Thank you Auntie Cheryl! I can now hold my head up high!

Now back to our regularly scheduled recipe.

After you have split the chicken breasts, spread with goat cheese,

Take your red pepper slices:

Place a few slices on top of the cheese,

sprinkle a little of your diced sundried tomatos, sprinkle black pepper and a little garlic salt

 and fold the chicken over.

Now, take 2 pieces of bacon per filet and wrap around chicken using toothpicks to help keep the chicken secure.

Put in oven and cook for aprox 30-35 minutes, make sure chicken has no pink color left to it.

You should believe me when I say YUM!

Let me know what you think!

Really? That’s What They’re Singing?

I’m sure most of us have done it before,

 we’re singing merrily along thinking we know darn good & well what the words to the song we are singing are.

Until,

 someone starts laughing at you.

Not because we can’t carry a tune (which could very well be the case with me)

but because we’ve managed to mutilate the lyrics.

I can think of 2 songs off the top of my head that I’ve done that with.

Don Henley – Boys of Summer

These are the real lyrics:

Nobody on the road,
nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
the summers out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets,
the sun goes down alone.
I’m driving by your house
though I know that you not home…

And I can see you
you brown skin shining in the sun
you got your hair combed back
sunglasses on baby.

And where they say “Your brown skin shining in the sun”, I remember thinking it was “Your breasts keep shining in the sun” (Like bikinis people!) That’s what I thought until one day my friend and I were riding along in the car, singing at the top of our lungs, and she stopped, mid lyric, and started laughing hysterically at me.

Good times!

Then there is a song most of us know, Winter Wonderland.

This time of the year always brings back this memory.

One of the verses’ goes like this:

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,

Walking in a winter wonderland.

(I hear you singing!)

As a child, I remember our family riding home in the car singing along with the radio to this very song when my mom, stopped & started to laugh hysterically and my older brother muttered “What a dork” when they heard me singing;

“Later on we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire”.

I don’t know about you, but I can see where MY lyrics make perfect sense.

In fact, I still sing MY lyrics sometimes.

Who among us hasn’t gotten a little too warmed up by the fire and had a little perspiration?

So now that I’ve shared some of my embarrassing lyric mishaps,

What songs & lyrics have you messed up in the past?

Grape Salad Recipe

This recipe is a delicious escape from the norm. Well, for me it was anyway, before trying this for the first time a few years back, I’d never had grape salad. In fact, when my sister-in-law announced she was making this for a family gathering I apprehensively said “Um, O.K.?” But I’m oh so glad she did! I’ve taken this to work before on a “Everyone bring a dish” day, and copies of this recipe were requested by quite a few.

Ok, this recipe will fit into your standard 9×11 (or similarly sized) casserole dish.

In the pictures below, I made a half of a recipe because I just needed a smaller portion.

8oz package of light cream cheese, softened

1 C Light sour cream

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups EACH seedless red & seedless green grapes (total of 6 cups of grapes)

3/4 C Brown sugar

2 T butter, softened

1 C chopped pecans

First, wash your grapes.

Remember how I said in the Chicken Chili recipe that I didn’t like using flash but would have to in my kitchen due to an insufficient amount of natural lighting?  Well, I did. Then I took the picture below & discovered that the flash can cause you to see the water droplets in the stream of water. It freezes them, and I was intrigued. (Yes, I’m easily entertained!) So after the recipe was done, I played with, believe it or not, taking pictures of water, I’ll show them some other time, don’t worry, because I know you are on the edge of your seat…. 

 I digress….On with the recipe:

 

In my best Robet Dinero voice “Hey, who you lookin at? You lookin at ME?”

I know, I know, I’m not ‘right’, you don’t have to tell me, my awesome friends & family all ready do.

In a seperate bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar & vanilla. Mix until creamy.

THEN gently stir in the grapes.

Don’t do like I did below, trying to be cute and play with your food because trust me, its much more difficult to combine without squishing the grapes!

I know, momma said “Don’t play with your food!” but I’m a rebel that way!

 

So after you have sufficiently combined your creamy mixture with your grapes, you will need the rest of your ingredients. In a seperate bowl, combine brown sugar, butter & chopped pecans.

Spread out your grape mixture into your casserole dish.

Then top with brown sugar/pecan mixture.

Yum, Yum.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and others I know have. I would even venture so far as to recommend you take this to a football party! Maybe its not “manly” food, but I’ll almost guarentee they’ll love it and if there are any female football fans present, they’ll probably be thankful there’s something at least slightly lighter than hot dogs, chili & chips.

For those of you reading my blog for the recipes, I want to let you know that over the next few weeks, you may see a few less than normal. It is Autumn here in mid Missouri and I fully plan on being on the go with “G2” (my camera) capturing the beautiful autumn colors in the fleeting time they are here. I will also be attending some art & craft shows with my photography in hand so basically, I won’t be cooking that much until the leaves are all down. (Here that G1? Better start ordering that pizza for dinner!) I assure you though that there will be more recipes forthcoming as my busy season slows in a few weeks.

By the way, for those of you who do read my silly musings, Thanks! I love all ya’ll and I love hearing from you.

 

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is perfect for a football game.

This recipe is perfect for a party.

This recipe is good for your family, and for you.

Oh and did I mention, this chili won an award? I think I did here. And o.k., it wasn’t exactly an AWARD, but it was a prize.

This recipe is good for a chili cookoff contest at work, because I know. Thats where I won a prize! My 40 hour a week job held a chili cookoff and I won with this exact recipe. It was up against about 12 other red chili recipes and it took first place.

I was in Weight Watchers for a while & put the ingredients into their point calculator & IF I remember correctly, and IF you go easy on the cheese & sour cream, for one cup, its only about 5 points and pretty filling, not to mention deeelicious!

So here we go, this is what you will need: (In the photos, I halved the recipe because I didn’t need a full recipe, the below ingredients are a full recipe.)

8 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless

4 cans Great Northern white beans, undrained (I actually prefer a little less beans so I only add 3 cans to a full recipe)

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp Olive oil

8 oz minced green chilis

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Pepper

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Here we go:

Boil chicken for about 45 minutes. Remove from water and let cool.

While chicken is cooling, chop onions & saute with Olive oil & garlic in your empty pan (that you used to boil the chicken in).

Once  your chicken has cooled a bit chop or shred it while your onions are sauteing, don’t forget to stir your onions now and then so that they cook evenly.

 

Oh, and didn’t I just say to saute your onions & garlic in your big pot? Well, thats the efficient, less dishes way of doing it. For some reason I used a seperate skillet, but its ok, all the same outcome, only another dish to do. I don’t know why I did it.

Maybe it was aliens!

Oh and I know the above photo is a bit dark, but I don’t like to use flash. Flash causes shadows and its just not as purty looking.

BUT since my kitchen does not have a lot of natural lighting, I think I’ll (reluctantly) start using a flash sigh.

I apologize for all of you non photography buffs who just fell asleep. WAKE UP, I’m moving on.

After your onions & garlic are sauted until tender, add Chilies, oregano, Cayenne Pepper and Pepper into your cooking pot.

Now put in your chicken, undrained beans and chicken broth & stir.

 

 Simmer for 30 minutes, then turn off heat and add 1 1/2 cup of cheese. Stir in while hot so that cheese melts & blends in.

When you fix a bowl, put a dab of light sour cream & top with a little more cheese & jalapenos if desired, stir and enjoy!

Hope you like it!