Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe--Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Or, "How To Make Your New Hometown Smell Delicious."

This recipe was delayed in being made due to the power outage Sunday.  No fear, it was made and eaten last night!  Obv this isn't the picture I took (I snagged it from the Hellman's website) of what I made, but it looked similar (minus the random greens; we had stuffing and carrots.)  It's quite tasty.  I bought a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grated it myself...and it took forever.  But it's a better value to buy whole and grate down.  Let's get to the recipe:

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
courtesy of Hellman's Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (if you aren't going to grate your own, at least buy the shredded kind; this recipe isn't best prepared with the green canister mess)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 Tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb chicken breasts (I flatten my chicken breasts out; paranoid about chickeny doneness so I like them to be the same thickness)

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine the cheese and mayo in a small bowl.  Arrange chicken breasts on baking sheet (I pounded them out after I put them on a sheet...I'm one for small bursts of genius) and spread mayo mix over the tops of chicken.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Verdict from Beloved?  "I don't know what you're cooking but it smells good!  I could smell it when I opened the car door!"

Monday, August 29, 2011


Thursday, August 25 (day before closing; anxiety level:6):
Noontime:  Text Beloved to see if he wants me to work a half-day tomorrow in order to help him with our move.
Noon-oh-two:  He replies I should stay at work and make money.  Believe this is a polite way of telling me to stay the hell away while he moves all my stuff into our new home.  We both know I'm more useful at work, anyhow.
My plot to escape work early has failed.  Sorry, boss.

Friday, August 26th (day of closing; anxiety level: 29):
7am:  Beloved meets mom and I at her house for our ritualistic Friday Bagel Central breakfast.  Commence meltdown in the driveway, uttering things such as "I don't want people touching my stuff."
7:15am:  Am mildly sedated by jalapeno cream cheese.  Judging people who walk in looking like Lady Gaga also helps to take my mind off of today's event.
8:00am-3:00pm:  Work.  Boss lovingly tells me no one will unpack my stuff.  They're just gonna dump my shit and ditch.  Feel better.  Wish I was there supervising my loving people who helped to move my many years' worth of accumulation and Beloved's one suitcase.
3:00pm:  Beloved whisks me away to the Farmhouse for dual housewarming presents.
3:15pm-3:45pm:  Wander up and down Main St. on foot,  feeling odd to be out during the day.
3:50pm:  Figure we can be early, we go in to the attorney's office.  We're nearly the last ones there, so we get this show on the road.
4:36pm:  We own a house.
4:37pm:  Stooled at Paddy's for one congratulatory beverage.
5:00pm:  Each to his own parent's house to gather belongings not scooped and dropped in this morning's move.
5:10pm:  Pizza and such with our people who helped moved us. They were good people.  One even ran after a squirrel attempting to enter the mudroom.  But I'll have no squatters in my new home.  My nephew is running round, having "adventures" and doing somersaults in the yard.
8:36pm:  Bed.  Only to be followed by...

Saturday, August 27th (first day owning a home; anxiety level: 2):
2:30am:  Up and at 'em.  Beloved sleeps and I'm upstairs unpacking the kitchen like Martha Stewart on crystal meth.  
6:00am:  I lay down on the couch in the upstairs living room, and hear padded steps and a tired-looking Beloved approach.  "You've been up this whole time?"  A girl has priorities.  And her cookie sheets are one of them.
6:36am:  Breakfast, half of which was on the house.  Thanks, one-arm-in-a-sling lady at the golden arches.
7:00am:  Lowe's.  Sellers took their mailbox so we're on the hunt.  We pick up a rake, new lighting for the upstairs bathroom, work gloves for me (I still laugh at that whole collection of words together), garage door rollers (I got the ricketier door of the two), and was doing my best to seem interested in the difference between 2-stroke and 4-stroke weed wackers, when I blurted out:  "Crap!  We need a mailbox!"  Bubble bursted, we make a mad dash to the postal aisle like a couple from Supermarket Sweep (I would give my mailbox to be able to bring that show back and be on it!)
8:00am:  Walmart.  No one should have to go into a Walmart on a weekend past 9:00am.  You're just asking for your day to be ruined.  We got in and out of there pretty quick.  Beloved has never spent more than $14 for groceries in one trip.  I had to defibrilate him at one point.  I also pointed out that toilet plungers and clothes hampers don't count as food and we weren't throwing down too much.  Be a good boy.  Wheel my groceries to the car.
11:00am:  Converge on new house with more and more stuff taken from parent's homes.  Introductions of opposite sides of family that haven't yet met (oh, Nana!  My mom just loved you!) Lunch and unpacking.
4:00pm:  More unpacking?  It's all sort of a blur.  We did hit the pool, and it was cold.  We mostly just stood in it and drank champagne.
7:30pm:  Out in these parts, we don't get "the cable" or have "the internets" so we popped in a movie.  Just as it should be.

Sunday, August 28th (second day owning a home and day of hurricane; anxiety level: -12):
4:45am:  No rest for the weary.  Beloved returns to Work-work and I am left to tackle Remaining Unpacking Projects.
7:00am:  Steal away to Hannaford and Walmart (remember my 9:00am Walmart rule!) to buy staple groceries before Irene swept Eastern Maine off the map.
9:00am:  One more haul of stuff at my parent's house (I think my stuff mated while it was in storage and produced more and more stuffs.)
10:00am:  Mom arrives and holds it DOWN in the handwashing of large items too big to be chucked in the dishwasher department.
Noontime:  Last of the Friday pizza is eaten!  House is 98% settled.  Mom departs, between sheets of rain, and I guiltily rest.
3:15pm:  No power.  Means no hot meal for the Beloved who worked very hard in the nasty storm.  My suggestion of PB&J via text message is not warmly met.  After many calls back and forth, it is decided he will bring home to-go dinner from his parent's house (yes, I hadn't showered all weekend, and there was just no need for his parents to know me like that.)
6:44pm:  Power restored.  I text Beloved.
6:45pm:  He rolls into the driveway. 

And that is how you buy a house, avoid moving all the really heavy stuff, come to terms with people touching your stuff, and eat your first meal at home together, prepared by someone else.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I See Is What You Get

The day isn't even half over and already it's been all kinds of ridic.  So I thought I'd take a minute and share with you the view from my desk.  Items to note:
  • Dilbert calendar.  Dilbert is so much like life, it's hard not to share with people.  So I do share.  Via inter-office envelopes.  You're welcome, Finance.
  • Ruby Slippers.  I love Wicked but WOZ  stuff is easily accessible for purchase.  So I do when I can.  Got these babies at the Border's closing sale.  They click and everything!
  • Dwight Schrute stress ball head.  I have .02% stress at my job, so I mostly just use him as a chat buddy.
  • Panic button.  Word.
  • WWII-era condom by Trojan.  I like the slim packaging versus contemporary square packaging.  It's petrified, but still pretty funky.
  • Car keys.  Always have a fast way to get out.
  • USDA news release on food safety with the coming threat of Hurricane Irene.  If this weather damages my brand new house, so help me...
  • Menu for Uno's.  We're having a doughraiser there today, and I simply cannot decide what to eat.  Days like today I wish I had my old stomach, but my same number of chins (that would be one.)
  • Coupons.  I know my weaknesses.
  • Tin-foil wrapped piece of Almond Joy Brownie.  It was too beautiful to reveal.  I wanted no competition in the eating portion of my afternoon.  Thank you for sharing with me, Ms Patsy.
  • Cell phone.  Important things like free Redbox codes and FB status updates simply cannot be ignored.
  • Looooong list of "needs" for new house.  Ack!
Chaos, thy name is glass desk.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Make an Ass Out of U and Me? How About Just U.

Once upon a time, certain of my immediate family members all up and moved to Louisiana.  Raising me in four walls of codependency, I planned one pre-move vacation to see if Louisiana was "for me", knowing very well I was packing my crap and heading to the (quite literally) Dirty South.  This was one day post-Katrina.  I may well have been the only Destination Vacation girl in the Baton Rouge Airport. 
A tree falls in the hood...ok, well, in the sub-division.
This is why you buy Gap Insurance.

I moved to Gonzales on my mom's birthday (nothing says, free, cheap present like showing up.  I also do Bar Mitzvahs.)  This was the beginning of November 2005.  I started work in January 2006.  I promptly filed my federal and Maine state taxes like a good, Government-fearing girl. 
I moved from Gonzales on Memorial Day Weekend (I finally figured out how to use my ruby slippers and clicked the hell outta there.)  This was 2006.  I resumed my Maine life:  same job, same apartment, same ballooning weight problem. 

With the ringing in of 2007, I gathered together my paperwork to file federal, Maine state AND Louisiana state taxes. 

And now, to this year.  The state of Louisiana sends me a bill.  For taxes.  For year 2005.  I like to call them Assumption Taxes.  They assumptin' I owe them money for 2005.  But if we look to my series of unfortunate events that brought me to and from Louisiana, we see that I didn't work in 2005.  Not one day did I smock up for Leader's Fried Chicken or Cigs-N-Suds.  It's hilarious!  I can't believe more states aren't trying this.  I bet they get more people writing them checks just to be rid of the hassle.  But not me.  I eat hassle for breakfast.  With a smear of jalapeno cream cheese, if they're serving it.  Miss Faye is very nice and I'm allowed to do all of this very important back and forthing via email (or fax) and I will give her my new mailing address, in hopes of getting a t-shirt that says:  "I Survived Katrina...and Trying To Pay Taxes In Louisiana."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe--Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

My mom asked me to make a chocolate bread pudding because she missed having it at Christmas parties past, courtesy of Montes.  She either wasn't making them anymore, or the price wasn't right.  Either way, I saw Michael Chiarello make this and thought, that will feed some Fords.  I made two the first year.  It was a sugar-coated Christmas, for sure.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

1 stick butter (unsalted, or salted, your preference)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 large croissants (ok, so note here:  it's all coming back to me that I made two because I think I had tons of croissants, adhering to the recipe.  But I haven't made this recipe since snow was on the ground, so buy 12.  If you don't use them all, split them open, butter them, grill them in a griddle/pan/cast-iron, and eat them with homemade jam.  Rinse, and repeat.)
1/2 cup raisins (I never added these; only add them if you want to make your family cry at Christmas.)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped small (I used the chip form, as you can see from the picture.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a food processor (and this part is so important; I didn't use a food processor the first year and it was horribly messy.  I used it last year, and it was less messy (would have been less messy if I had been smart and not removed the blade while the custard was still in the cup...but, like test-driving a vehicle, I had no idea how the processor worked.), combine butter and sugar process until well blended. Add cinnamon, and vanilla, and pulse to combine.

While the processor is running crack 5 eggs into the mixture. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides.  Add the heavy cream and pulse to combine.

Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Break up the croissants (I chopped them; it seemed more...hygienic?) into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan (I used a disposable tin pan...as you can tell, I picked the size that can also roast a 40-lb turkey.) Scatter the raisins (I'll turn my head as you do this) and shaved bittersweet chocolate over the top, and gently mix to incorporate. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants; soak for 8 to 10 minutes. You will need to push croissants pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.(It's true, you will.)

Cover with foil and bake for 35minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The croissant bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft. Allow to cool.  But really, serve it warm. 

Michael recommends serving with Bourbon Ice Cream Sauce.  This is 1 Haagen Daaz size container of ice cream and 2 ounces bourbon.  Let the ice cream come to melty deliciousness in the fridge, then whisk in the booze (or not.  I never let my ice cream drink and drive) and put into a gravy boat-style container and try to prevent your dad from drinking straight from it (or just help me with my dad.)   

Recipe--Black Bottom Coconut Bars

I hope my one stalker appreciates this post.  I was asked to provide this recipe for her, but I'm too lazy to walk down the hall to give it to her daughter (THAT'S why I ought to qualify to use the in-office electric wheelchair all day) so I thought I'd make a post of this.  I normally don't make these black-bottomed, but it's easy enough to make them whatever sort of bottom you'd like.  These are one of my brother's favorite desserts.  I found it in my gram's church cookbook, adding the coconut myself as I thought without it, would be sorta plain.  Then Paula Deen rolls up and calls them gooey butter cakes.  I should have known that any recipe with two sticks of butter would end up making its way into Paula Deen's hands. 

Black Bottomed Coconut Bars
1 box cake mix of your choice (chocolate cake will make it black bottom, etc.)
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted (when baking, I always use unsalted butter, but you are your own baker)

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted
1 16-oz box powdered sugar
1 bag coconut

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix crust ingredients together in a bowl.  Press into a sprayed 9x13 pan.  In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar (slowly...watch for powdered sugar dust storm) and coconut (can mix this by hand...I just eyeball the amount of coconut...I shake out enough in until it looks like there's some all through the batter.)
Pour filling over crust, spreading to cover entirely.  Bake 40-50 minutes.  Center should still be a little soft (per Paula Deen.  I cook it until it looks as brown as it is in the above picture.)

Stalkers and regular followers, enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Like A Virgin

Now that we have a set-in-stone date for the closing, I'm still in baffle-mode that it's all happening.  Eight months ago, when we started the process of buying a short-sale house, it was like practice purchasing.  We went through all the motions of attempted home acquisition:  offer a price, sign some purchase and sale paperwork, and dazzle them with some earnest money.  Oh, and attend a first time homebuyer's class put on by a man WHO RENTS AN APARTMENT.  Because homebuying "isn't his thing."  But apparently, having a comfy little racket is.

No one told us that trying to buy a short-sale home is worse than high school.  Ok, well maybe Real Estate Man said something to that effect, but he's seven feet tall, there was an echo, and I thought he was complimenting me on my outfit that day.

So when we ditched that first house and fell head-over-heels for the "Double A Ranch" (I'd type it out "AA Ranch" but with our hobby of Homebrew, that just seems...fitting?), things came together so much faster.  Too fast, actually, for my experience.  The other house was ok with going slow, but this one wants to go all the way.  Where is an afterschool special on thirty-year mortgages when you need one?

And now we're being handed off to The Attorneys.  I've had no dry-run for this part of the show.  Everything in me wants to push Beloved out of the way next week, sign all the forms for both us, grab the keys to the house, and cart him away to our new zip code.  Because sometimes love means never having to sign your initials yourself.  This will not be the case, though.  We will sit across from the very nice sellers and ping pong paperwork back and forth (I assume; this is all secondhand information gleaned from HGTV shows like Property Virgins who have budgets of $200,000.  We probably get some sort of value-meal closing in a greasy brown paper bag.) 

I do envision some tears (him) and some cursing (me) as soon as the last Ford is signed.  And then more cursing (him) and tears (me) as we try to move my 31-gallon tote of cookbooks into our upstairs kitchen.  I'll be sure to have 10cc's The Things We Do For Love blaring.  Note to self:  move the boombox in first.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

T minus Someday...

I have a feeling that Realtor Man and Bank Guy will throw back a few cold ones the day they get to be rid of me. 

Having more time on my hand than Beloved to handle the communications aspect of homebuying, I have made a habit of emailing both of these men at least 25 times a day.  Realtor Man gets most of my worry-infused emails; Bank Guy gets the virtual foot-tapping 'are we there yet?' emails.  After six months of a stalled short-sale purchase attempt, Realtor Man suggested to Beloved that we look for a different home to buy.  It was just the push that I didn't want to give him.  Coming from a seven-foot man, it was probably more effective. 

The House We Really Are Buying was worth waiting for in Dante's Fourth Ring of Homebuying Hell.  The first time I saw the picture of my kitchen, I knew it.  And then when I saw the size of the garage, I knew that Beloved would probably feel the same as when he first met me.  I suspect he won't try to casually avoid the garage, causing the garage to change its phone number, and forcing him to try to find the garage on Facebook to try to win it back. 

Anyhow, we are in the last leg of this ridiculous venture.  Awaiting appraisal information, we've done all the other adult things, such as radon testing and Homeowner's Insurance buying (Convicted of Arson, you say?  Well, not recently.  Better than the question my parents were asked:  'Do You Plan On Making Methamphetamines? Ha!)  We're now in the hurry-up-and-wait stage again.  Only we're sure this one will be ours. 

And if Realtor Man and Bank Guy are reading this, I'll make you cookies when this is all said and done.  I have no plans to leave my beautiful kitchen.