Archive for January, 2010

Jan 28 Thursday

A picture is worth a thousand words

As you well know, my nephew Jack Jack the Super Kid  is kicking cancer’s booty. And he really is. He has the head to toe super hero outfit and the remissions stats to prove it.

Super Jack!

To show our support from afar, friends and family took photos in Jack’s honor. I took the photos and made them into a book and collage for his bedroom wall.

They are both marvelous.

For the collage, I photographed the letters J A C K around our house and used a free program called AndreaMosaic to create the files.

See for yourself.


You can download the program FREE here.

My next project is to scan and create my parent’s wedding photo or last name with a series of images from their life together.

The possibilities are endless!

J is for Jack

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Jan 27 Wednesday


The best kinds of gifts, to give or receive, are the well thought out ones. The kind where the giver excitedly hands you a package and anticipates seeing your reaction upon opening.

Big or small, no matter the value.

It might be a coupon for $1.25 off Tums antacid that your friend passes over the table to you at happy hour with the girls (because she knows when you drink you get heartburn and you are a coupon clipper) or a pair of Prey vs. Predator mittens portraying a frog and a fly for your random amusement.

These are my favorite kinds of gifts. For my recent birthday, some good friends of ours surprised me with the most unique item I have ever had the pleasure of owning. A clutch made from recycled computer keys. It’s brilliant. Not only because I am a writer, but because she and I became friends because of this here blog. And it’s super duper cute.

And the kicker, they wrapped it up in the small patch of fabric and ribbon I used to give them a recent gift.

It was so thoughtful on every level; useful, cute, kitschy, recycled and REUSED!

Everything I love, literally wrapped up into a pretty little package.

Let me spell it out for you, A W E S O M E!

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Jan 26 Tuesday


My favorite part of watching American Idol with SuperHub, is the ability to say things like “Remember when you were 18? Yeah, THAT IS THE YEAR SHE WAS BORN.”

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Jan 24 Sunday

Peanut Butter Noodles with Chicken

This is an article I wrote for my Cooking With Kids column in Family Time magazine. It was originally published in April 2009. In honor of a “Hot Deal” today at HyVee (our grocery store of choice) I am posting this gem.

Food allergies? Try substituting rice noodles or almond butter.

And go…

My idea of cooking with kids is preparing what my husband and I like to eat and crossing my fingers that the kids get so excited about cooking, they gobble up all the food on their plates.

It also is about being creative with the verbiage in the kitchen.

“Fee, Fi,  Fo, Fee, I am a giant and I eat my tiny trees!” Also known as broccoli. Green beans are magic wands. Garlic is zeee garleeek. When I run out of funny names for otherwise boring food, I just speak with zee fake French accent and zee kids eat zee foods.

What they don’t know won’t hurt them. Veggies in disguise can be a beautiful thing. Or meats in disguise. My theory on this came to be during my own childhood. My parents would return from fancy Saturday night dinners with a doggie bag. One night there was something that resembled chicken. My dad told me it was a “hoppy” meal. So I tried it. It was buttery and garlicky. I loved it. He giggled and told me it was frogs legs.

I nearly croaked.

I eventually had more.

This dish is my own little version of  a hoppy meal, except it is made with chicken. It’s fun, healthy and your kids have no idea that they are eating healthy foods.

It’s about as adventurous as my kids get at this point. It only contains one vegetable but there is wiggle room to add whatever your family enjoys. The combination of ingredients creates a wonderful flavor that leaves everyone slurping up noodles.

Most everything can be kept on hand. I cheat and precook my chicken. That makes this meal come together in the amount of time it takes to prepare your noodles.

You will need:

1 1/2 Lb. Chicken, cooked and chopped into 1 inch pieces
4 Large carrots, washed
1 Lb. Whole wheat spaghetti
1 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Teaspoons Ground ginger or 2 inches of ginger knuckle, peeled and grated
2 Cloves garlic, grated or chopped
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Tamari or soy sauce
Hot sauce, just a couple drops to infuse flavor
1/4 Cup Sesame oil, or canola oil
1/4 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Sesame seeds, toasted

Have the kids wash their hands, then let them wash the carrots. Set aside.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium high heat until golden brown. Kids can watch from a distance. While you do this, explain that these are super hero seeds. If they eat enough of them, your kids will disappear when you snap your fingers. To bring them back, simply snap again.

Let one of your assistants fill the pasta pot with water. Have another kid count the noodles for the dish. This is a very important responsibility. Bring water to a boil and add pasta.

Carefully grate ginger and have the kids help. Be sure to assist them and go slow.

Peel the 4 carrots, thinly slice 2 for the dish. Give the kids each a portion of a carrot to munch on and ask them to find a seat for the next part. It’s an adults only deal for a few minutes.

Saute the garlic on medium high in the sesame oil until golden brown. Add the chicken broth, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, hot sauce and honey. Whisk until mixture begins to boil and add sliced carrots. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots become tender. Add more chicken stock if desired. In a pinch I have also used a corn starch and water mixture to thicken my sauce.

Add chicken and pour the sauce over the noodles and stir. Sprinkle with super hero sesames and enjoy!

Note to You:
This dish reheats well for lunches the next day.

What is Tamari? Tamari is a wheat free sauce similar to soy sauce. It is thicker, sweeter and has more depth of flavor than a traditional soy sauce.

Peanut Butter Noodles

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Jan 23 Saturday

Chicken Tac-Ooohs!

I caught wind of a slap-your-knee-it’s-that-easy chicken taco recipe from some extended family. See if you can follow the link: My sister, Erin’s sister in-law, Amy. 

Also known as my big sister’s husband’s sister.  Amy is an excellent cook as is her husband Rick. They own restaurants in Sioux Falls, SD and Okoboji, IA.

It’s very very tasty and almost as easy. I made it as a quick lunch today and already have plans for the leftovers to be a magnificent salad topping for tomorrow’s lunch.

You will need:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used almost 2 lbs.)
8 oz Fat Free  Zesty Italian Dressing (1/2 bottle)
Carrots (3 regular or 20 baby carrots)
A tomato

Toppings to suit your fancy: Sour cream, cheese, taco sauce or salsa, shredded lettuce

Cut the chicken up into bite size pieces. Cut your carrots julienne style, which means long and skinny like matchsticks. Cut up your tomato. Add the cut up chicken, carrots and tomato to a medium size stove top pot and add 8 oz of Zesty Italian salad dressing. Bring to a boil, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked completely through. Reduce your heat and let simmer as the sauce thickens.

Serve in warmed tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Note to You: These can get soggy quickly, as with any soft shell taco, so serve immediately. You could easily prepare the meat mixture ahead of time and keep warm in a CrockPot until ready to assemble and eat. 

They were so good, everyone oohs’d and ahh’d as they inhaled their food. Except me, I didn’t waste time talking.

I just ate.

Nom nom nom.


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Jan 22 Friday

Confessions on Facebook

True story.

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Jan 22 Friday

One in a million

Dear You,

Today this blog hits a major milestone. Since I moved my journal of gibberish out on my own last September, I have had one million clicks on this site. One million clicks in 5 months. It makes my head feel dizzy.

Some of you I know. A dozen of you (or so) are family. Many of you I have the pleasure of calling friends. Yet there are so many of you who I have never met.

It’s for all of you that I maintain this running dialog of crazy. Your emails and comments have served as constant validation that someone, somewhere out there is enjoying what I have to share. Your words have meant as much to me as mine may have meant to you.

I write because it keeps me sane. I write because I truly believe it makes you a better parent when you realize you are not alone. I write because it opens people to another perspective. I write because I will always think poop, farts and playfully harassing SuperHub is funny.

Whether you work outside of the home or not, being a parent is complicated, sticky and quite smelly.

It’s also marvelous.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. Thank you for being you.

Peas & carrots,


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Jan 22 Friday

Guess who made dinner?

Funny one, Dear.

Clearly, the Browns love to spell with our food: Here and here.

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Jan 21 Thursday

Day Makers

Every so often I see, hear, read or stumble upon something that totally makes my day. I call them Day Makers. It’s the same theory as doing a kind deed or going out of your way to make someone else’s day. You can be the Day Maker.

Tonight, as I sat in a meeting, I glanced at the datebook of the gal next to me and I saw scribbled “I ♥ this pencil”.

For some odd reason, it made me wildly happy. I nearly lept onto her lap to make sure my contacts weren’t fuzzy. Seriously. You can tell a lot about people by doodles. The fact that she was grateful for a fine writing utensil doesn’t surprise me one bit. The fact that she documented her love affair with it is beyond awesome.

She agreed let me snap a photo with my phone. The quality of snap doesn’t do her doodle justice. All the same, it’s now my background on my phone.


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Jan 21 Thursday

Easy Peasy Chinese-y!

I made dinner, start to finish, in 8 minutes the other night. You can go ahead and be impressed.

It even involved a skillet.

I can do lots of things in 8 minutes: Shower, unload and re-stack the dishwasher, change laundry, pick up a kid’s room, wipe down a bathroom, sort 9 loads of laundry, find the lost pink furry boot, read two books, change a diaper, have the kid poop again, change a diaper again, decide what I want from a take out menu that hasn’t changed in years.

Dinner in 8 minutes, for 5 people, is not something I am accustomed too. (Excluding peanut butter and jelly sandwich nights.)

This recipe isn’t the pillar of health, it’s a food company marketing manager’s dream come true. However, it was acceptable under the “It contains lean protein, whole grain and vegetables” rationalization that we busy parents often use and it was dang tasty.

Luckily I had picked up a box of Hormel Natural Choice Carved Chicken Breast at the store for easy chicken monterey jack cheese quesadillas for lunch. Awesome, except I forgot to get a package of tortillas. This chicken sat there begging to be made into something good. And I was desperate.

You will need:

1 Box Hormel Natural Choice Carved Chicken Breast
2 Bags Frozen SteamFresh Long Grain White Rice with Mixed Vegetables

3/4 Cup Orange juice
3 T. Soy sauce
2 T. Brown rice vinegar
1 T Sesame oil
Dash of hot sauce (We use Rooster Sauce…I call it Cock Sauce. It’s available at your local grocery store.)

Put your first bag of rice in the microwave for 3 minutes. Heat the skillet and add the orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and hot sauce. Whisk to mix. Add the chicken and heat over medium high heat to bring to a simmer. Pour the first bag of rice into the chicken and sauce mixture when it’s done. Put the second bag of rice in the microwave for 3 minutes. When it’s done, stir into the mixture and serve immediately.

In the future, I might throw some broccoli or red pepper strips into the sauce to simmer. It would make it prettier.

You can use any kind of rice, add any veggies and use meat, no meat or tofu. That is my Go To sauce recipe and it has never failed me. Sometimes I use lemonade or frozen lemonade concentrate as the base.

Use the time extra time to read your favorite blog, scan the headlines or update your Facebook status about how delicious your dinner smells simmering away. No one has to know that dinner was this easy. It’s okay, your secret is safe with me.

Note to You: To distract the kids, and get them to eat their food with less cross examination, we serve meals like this with kid chopsticks.

Easy, peasy Chinesey!

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