Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Time to Bake

It’s been a tough summer in the blogosphere. After a year of trying to decide whether I even wanted to keep blogging, I had finally settled in.  I found a schedule that worked for me, down from posting every third day to just twice a week. That should have been my first clue that everything was going to change.

And change it did. Summer came and life changed dramatically. Both boys are very much on their own. They have work schedules and social schedules. But there is so much that needs to be done in the next few weeks before my oldest son heads to college.

Writing has taken a back seat. So has baking. Those two have been so intertwined for me for the past year. And although my family doesn’t really have a reaction to my writing less, it seems the baking part has garnered some notice. And now, even I am noticing that, blog post or not, it’s time to bake.

Time to Bake | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado | #MyGraphics

How do I know? Is it time to bake at your house? Here are a few hints:

*It’s 8:00 pm and your teenager can’t find anything for dessert. So you make him an iced coffee, throw some vanilla ice cream in there and tell him it’s a float.

*You catch your son stuffing his face with your baking chocolate chips.

*Your husband searches the kitchen, the fridge, the pantry, then looks at you and says “are you feeling alright?”

*Your kids’ friends, who always stop in the kitchen to grab your baked goods on their way to the basement, are all standing in the kitchen looking perplexed.

*Your son holds up a stick of butter and says “Mom, these cookies aren’t going to bake themselves.”

Raspberry Lemon Bars | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado | #reicpe #dessert

Raspberry Lemon Bars

*Your husband threatens you with “don’t MAKE me go to the bakery . . . “

*Your son goes into the pantry, pulls out some store-bought twin-wrapped cupcakes and says “do you want to have to eat these?”

*Your son, who you’re sure doesn’t know where the oven is, offers to help you bake.

*You’re always out of parchment paper but when you check the drawer, there it is.

And finally:

*When even you have to concede that there’s nothing good to eat in the house.

See ya in the kitchen. Oven’s heating up.

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Raspberry Lemon Bars
Printable Recipe
1 stick margarine, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup Raspberry jam
4 eggs
4 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 TBSP flour
2 cups sugar
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a glass 9 X 13 baking dish.
*Beat butter and margarine until smooth. Mix in flour and powdered sugar.
*Place into the baking dish. Press evenly into bottom and just a little bit up the sides. I find this is easiest to do with my knuckles and fingertips. Do it quickly so the warmth of your hands don’t melt the butter.
*Bake for 20 minutes.
*While the crust is baking, beat together the eggs, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and flour. Then beat in the sugar.
*Place the raspberry jam into a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, then microwave 30 more seconds until liquid.
*After the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and pour ¾ of the raspberry jam onto the hot crust. Gently move it around so it covers the bottom of the crust.
*Pour the lemon mixture over the jam, then pour the remaining jam in swirls over the lemon mixture. The jam will mostly sink in, this is fine.
*Put into oven and Bake for 25 to 35 minutes. They’re done when the center is set and not runny.
*Cool completely before cutting.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

When you’re done click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
Follow me home . . .
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Menopausal Mother
Moore Organized Mayhem
The Insomniac's Dream
The Momisodes
Spatulas on Parade
The Rowdy Baker
Sorry kid, Your Mom Doesn't Play Well With Others

I usually have a theme for these Fly on the Wall posts. This time I have no theme, just some snippets of what you might see or hear or observe in my house:

Husband: That was good pizza. Did you use real cheese?

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

When you come into my house from the garage, there’s a bathroom on your right and straight ahead is the mud room/laundry room. The way the rooms are set up, the washing machine sits beside the same wall in the laundry room that the toilet backs up to in the bathroom. So for a good time, you don’t have to read public restroom walls, just come to my house and sit on ?the potty while the washing machine is going through the spin cycle. Oh, and hold on tight.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Son: Is there any cake left?
I just stare at him in disbelief.
Son, again: Mom, is there any cake left?
Me: No.
Son: Why not?
Me: Because YOU finished it and as far as I know it doesn’t regenerate.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Me to husband on a Friday night: Don’t you just love when no one’s grounded and we can drink in peace?

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Me to Son: You have a Dentist appointment tomorrow morning.
Son: No.
Me: That wasn’t a question.
Son: I’m sticking with “no”.

Grilled Taco Chicken | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Grilled Taco Chicken

Me: Be home by midnight.
Son: Do you want me to call or do you want me to text if I’m going to be late.
Me: Neither, you’ll wake me up, just be home at midnight.
Son: I’ll just tell you now then, I’ll be home at 1:00 am.
Looks like .I’m going to have to explain the whole concept of a curfew yet again.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

My other son is a lifeguard this summer. We were talking about a swim class he’s teaching. He told me that one of the Moms asked if her child would be moving up to the next level. My son’s answer? “If she passes this one.”

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

This is something that you’d actually hear fairly frequently in my home as a tousled, just awakened (again) teenager makes his way into the kitchen at around noon:
Me: Are you looking for something for lunch?
Son: I haven’t had my third breakfast yet.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

How you know you’re an invaluable help to your husband:
Me: Can I help you with that?
Him: Yeah, stay out of my way.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Me to son: Hey kid, your Momma’s ugly.
Son turns and looks at me with a blank stare.
Me: Just wanted to see if you were listening. But thanks for defending me, by the way.

Flies on the Wall | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Son: You’re mean.
Me: I’m the nicest Mom you’ve ever had.
Son: You’re also the meanest.
Damn kids, beat me every time.

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Grilled Taco Chicken
Printable Recipe
NOTE: I recommend you serve this dish with my Homemade Pico de Gallo. Find the recipe here: Pico de Gallo
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half
2 TBSP Salsa
¼ cup Vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp Chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
A pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ tsp paprika
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Opt: Pico de Gallo for serving
*Put chicken breasts into a container of your choice (I use a gallon freezer bag).
*Mix all other ingredients well and pour over the chicken.
*Refrigerate for about 4 hours, mixing frequently to be sure all of the chicken marinates.
*Discard the marinade and cook the chicken on the grill until it’s cooked through.
*Serve with Pico de Gallo

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wooden Nickels

With older kids you tend to spend a lot of time giving advice. And I’ve gotten my share as well. It was the casual mention of advice in the form of an old expression that got me thinking and resulted in this post.

It was recently recommended that I not “put all your eggs in one basket”, and I thought “how many baskets will I need? ‘Cause it would be much easier to just carry one”.

Somehow that innocent exchange morphed into a whole conversation (yes, in my head) about old expressions still used and whether people even understand their intent any more.

So I tried a few; on kids, friends, neighbors and family. Here’s how THAT went:

Wooden Nickels | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Saying: Living high on the hog.
Reaction: As opposed to living low on the hog?

Saying: Screw you and the horse you rode in on.
Reaction: Not that I have one, but what did the horse do?

Saying: A stitch in time saves nine.
Reaction: I can’t sew, does that mean I’m doomed or something?

Saying: Bob’s your uncle.
Reaction: You know my Uncle?

Saying: Better than being poked in the eye with a sharp stick.
Reaction: Is there a whole lot that’s worse than being poked in the eye with a sharp stick?

Saying: I don’t know him from Adam.
Reaction: I don’t even know Adam.

Saying (a two-fer): If you’re three sheets to the wind you may need some hair of the dog that bit you.
Reaction: {blank stare}

Saying: Fit to be tied.
Reaction: Is this a sadomasochist thing?

Saying: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Reaction: A bird in the hand will get you a hand full of bird sh*t.

Saying: You look like death warmed over.
Reaction: And what does “death warmed over” look like?
Me: You, apparently.

Saying: You are what you eat.
Reaction: I’ve been called worse things than Gummy Bears and Oreo Cookies.

Spaghetti Filled Garilc Bread | www.BakingInATornado.com

Spaghetti Filled Garlic Bread

Saying: Busier than a one armed paper hanger.
Reaction: That’s just plain mean.

Saying: Raining cats and dogs.
Reaction: You know there are animal cruelty laws, right?

Saying: Go pound sand.
Reaction: Is that considered aerobic exercise? I usually just go for a fast walk.

Saying: He’s full of piss and vinegar.
Reaction: Now there’s a diet I won’t be trying.

Saying: Mind your “p”s and “q”s.
Reaction (from my son): I don’t even mind you.

Saying: She was hoisted by her own petard.
Reaction: She was what? By her what? You made that up.

And although many people have now asked me to explain some of these antiquated sayings (yes, I googled them and now know what they mean), quite honestly I think I’d rather stand on my head and spit wooden nickels.

Baking In A Tornado signature | Graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Spaghetti Filled Garlic Bread
Printable Recipe
¾ stick butter, softened
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 (1#) frozen bread dough, defrosted
Flour and cornmeal
8 ounces of spaghetti, cooked al dente
Approximately 1 cup of marinara (click here for my Homemade Marinara)
¼ cup parmesan, shredded
½ cup mozzarella, shredded
Pepperoni slices, cut into quarters
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a small amount of cornmeal.
*Mix together the melted butter, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.
*On your working surface, spread flour and cornmeal so your dough doesn’t stick when rolling out.
*Roll out the dough to a rectangle of about 10 inches wide by 16 inches long.
*Brush the dough gently with most of the melted butter mixture. Save some for the top.
*Mix the cooked spaghetti with the parmesan, mozzarella and pepperoni.
*Leaving a 1 inch strip at the top and the bottom, place the spaghetti mixture in a line down the center of the length of the dough.
*Slice the dough along the sides of the spaghetti into strips. Don’t cut all the way to the spaghetti, leave about ¾ of an inch between the spaghetti and the strips on both sides.
*Fold the top and bottom over the spaghetti. Starting with the top strip on one side and alternating from side to side, gently move one trip over the spaghetti at a slight downward angle, and pinch under the opposite side of the dough. The strips should be pulled over so that the ¾ inch of dough that you left between the cuts and the spaghetti are forming the sides.
*Continue alternating sides until all strips are done.
*Carefully move to the prepared baking sheet.
*Gently brush the top with the rest of the melted butter mixture.
*Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the bread browns.
NOTE: I didn’t develop the idea for this recipe. I found a version quite a while ago and interpreted it to fit the tastes of my family.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Take 2 – July Secret Subject Swap

Welcome to another Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Take 2 Secret Subject Swap | graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
Dawn's Disaster
Crazy As Normal
Black Sheep Mom
Raising Reagan
A Working Mom's "Whoas"
Indian American Mom
Patience Juice
Home on Deranged
Just a Little Nutty (Guest Post)
It's Yummilicious 

My subject is: The phone rings at 3am and you are in a dead sleep. You answer the phone and find yourself talking to the Director of the CIA. He has an urgent message for you . . . It was submitted by Raising Reagan.  Here goes:

3:00am. I jump the minute I hear that phone start to ring, darting my eyes to the clock. I have teenagers and 3:00 am is an ominous time for ringing of any kind.

This is the Director of the CIA” I hear. CIA? My kids get into some interesting situations, but at the level of national security? Did he say “Director”? I may need to change my pants. And I’m not wearing any.

Your country is in an emergency situation. We need your blog.” Phew, it’s just a dream. I could swear he said my country needs my blog. I mean, I love my blog and all but no one NEEDS it.

Glow in the Dark | Graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

“We’ve intercepted chatter that has lead us to believe that plots against this country are being disseminated through the use of the recipes on your blog”, he continued.

“Huh?” (It’s 3:00 am, were you expecting scintillating conversation?)

It appears that terrorists have hacked into your blog drafts and are using the wording of your recipes as a cipher for their code. When you publish a post, their members simply read your blog and decipher the code.”

Wow, that’s a lot of page views, where should I send the thank-you note?”

Ignoring me completely he continued: “We’ve vetted you and it’s clear to us that you are completely oblivious”.

Oblivious? Now wait jut a minute. I take offense to that”.

“Mrs. T0rnado, you need to let me finish. To make the blog visits seem legitimate, they then make your recipes and serve them at their meetings”.

Ah, the old serve-my-recipes-at-their-terrorist-meetings tactic” I said in my best Maxwell Smart voice.

We’ve checked your next scheduled recipe and have found a way that, with the addition of one added ingredient will make whoever eats it glow in the dark.”

Glow in the dark? That’s it, I’m being punked.”

“Would you like us to break down your door, Mrs. Tornado?”

Umm,. no thanks?”

So I do it. I take one for the team. I adjust my next recipe and with a shaking hand I post it.

Not Your Average Pigs in a Blanket | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #appetizers

Not your average Pigs in a Blanket

And after dark the most amazing thing happens: the night lights up. There’s a flaw in the plan. Turns out those terrorists aren’t the only ones who read me. People everywhere have tried my recipe. I am loved. And people all over the world are . . . well . . . glowing.

I hope that phone doesn’t really ring ‘cause this is the best dream ever.

Baking In A Tornado signature | Graphic designed by and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Not your average Pigs in a Blanket
Printable Recipe
1 package of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
32 mini hot dogs
Your favorite barbecue sauce
Chunk of sharp cheddar, cut into matchstick sized pieces
Opt: mustard of your choice or warm barbecue sauce for serving
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Unroll the crescent rolls into 4 rectangles. Gently run a rolling pin over them to make just a little larger.
*With a pastry brush, gently brush the rolls with barbecue sauce. Just paint a little on, you don’t want to soak the rolls.
*Cut each rectangle into quarters, then each quarter into 2 triangles.
*Put a small slice lengthwise into the top of each mini hot dog. Don’t slice all the way to the ends or to the bottom, just make a pocket.
*Insert a piece of cheddar into each “pocket”. It’s easiest to just push it in with the tip of a knife.
*Roll each mini hot dog into a piece of crescent roll. It should close, but if some don’t, stick a toothpick in to hold it closed.
*Bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.
*Serve with mustard of your choice or warm barbecue sauce.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Jury’s Out

A few years ago I was called to jury duty. It was not a fun experience. I had to make arrangements for my kids early in the morning because to get all the way downtown in rush hour traffic meant leaving before school started. I had to find a parking garage and walk to the courthouse. I had to fill out forms and sit for hours. I had to stand up in a courtroom and divulge personal information. I was not home when my kids got out of school. I could not drive to activities. Dinner was late. Very late. I had to be available to do these things, including in a snowstorm, for a two week period. My life was turned upside down and I got off easy, I didn’t end up on a jury.

 I can’t even imagine the disruption to someone’s life if they do get chosen to serve. Especially in a high profile case.

Following an emotionally charged, well publicized case there will be public discourse. I think that’s inevitable, healthy even. We do and should be discussing law, rules of evidence, courtroom strategies, conviction options. But there will also be public anger and criticism and disagreement with the verdict.

What I’m asking you to consider is this: when we disagree with a verdict, who is it that we’re criticizing?

What we’re saying is this: you, juror, who have given up your time, who have made other arrangements for your life and your obligations, you who have been present through the arguments and evidence and contradictions, you who have given your thought and consideration and your energy, your head and your heart, you who have sat for hours and days through every minute of the evidence allowed to be presented to you by our legal system, you who have been given explicit instructions as to what you may and may not consider in your deliberations, you who have discussed and debated in a closed room negotiating and collaborating with strangers, you who have put your personal feelings aside in deference to the rules. You are wrong.

When we disagree with a verdict, what we're doing is second guessing and disrespecting, not the outcome of the case, but the people who reconciled it. We’re saying that their time and their commitment and their sacrifices have no value.

I’ve deliberately avoided a discussion of what I think happened to Nicole Brown, Caylee Anthony or Trayvon Martin here. It isn’t salient to this particular discussion. My point is that we have a system, including other avenues for both sides; appeals, civil cases, federal cases, new attorneys. If we feel that the system isn’t working, let’s discuss those components.

But as far as the initial court cases go, all I want to say is this: I believe those jurors acted with integrity, both individually and as a unit, given the constraints of the situation. 

Over the years, many jurors in high profile cases have talked openly about the dilemma they faced due to those constraints. Many have been emotionally scarred by the experience both of having served and by the fallout that ensued.

So no matter what my opinion of the tragic circumstances that result in any given trial, what I do want to say in reference to the human beings who made up the fabric of those juries is that I will not stand in judgment of their work and their service. I offer only my respect.

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