Huevos Rancheros

As anyone who knows me is well aware, I like to cook.  And I take my cooking very seriously, as is evidenced today with 2 loaves of bread (one loaf of cheddar and one loaf of jalapeno cheddar) and two layers of just cake for snacking and desserts this week for the fellas (one chocolate and one banana).  I’m also making salsa today, so Beloved can eat it with some tortilla chips while we watch the Cowboys tonight.

That being said, I am not against cooking something yummy but easy, either, and since I had so much planned to bake today, I decided to take it easy with both dinner and breakfast.  First thing this morning I put a roast with some carrots, onion, sweet potatoes, white potatoes and mushrooms in the crock pot.  I love my crock pot – it makes all sorts of lovely Sunday dinners possible with a minimum of effort.  And for breakfast we had watermelon and Huevos Rancheros.  Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilies, commercially available corn tortillas and pre-shredded cheese made this meal a snap to put together…and it was sooooo yummy, too.

Huevos Rancheros

2 generous servings

4 6-inch corn tortillas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes with chilies, drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

4 large eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; coat an 8×11 inch pan well with cooking spray.

In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Using a fork or pair of tongs, dip the tortillas, one at a time, into the hot oil to soften.  Allow the excess oil to run off the tortillas back into the skillet, then place them in the prepared pan, overlapping slightly.

Reduce the heat under the skillet slightly, and sauté the onion and garlic until tender crisp.  Add the drained can of Ro-tel to the onion and garlic; simmer for about 10 more minutes.

Spoon 1/4 of  the tomato/onion mixture over each tortilla.  Make a well in the mixture on each tortilla, then crack an egg in each.  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Return to the oven and continue baking for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

I Have a Happy!

I had a NICE weekend – we went back down to Amish country and put a downpayment on a wine hutch and curio for the dining room (I’m slowly decorating my house, one room at a time).  The place we got them at is basically a consignment store for the Amish – they put a sample of their work in the store, customers come in and pick out the piece(s) they like, then the Amish craftsman makes it to specification.  We are getting the curio “as is” but are having some custom work done to the hutch.  The really great thing about getting furniture there?  The quality is amazing and the prices are cheap.  We’re getting book cases for the family room next and eventually a bedroom suit.

Then the Cowboys spanked the Browns yesterday.  That’s always fun, especially living as close to Cleveland as we do.  Bwaaaaahahahahahaaaaaaaa!

Today, I bought an iPod Nano.  I’ve been going down to the basement and walking on the treadmill – I still haven’t gotten on the BowFlex, but it’s coming and sooner rather than later – and have decided it will just be nicer with some music.  Beloved has an 80GB iPod, but I don’t like to mess with it and trying to filter through the tons and tons of Grateful Dead and bluegrass is just more than I care to tackle.  MY iPod will have just music I like and I am now in the process of uploading all of my Elton John (I feel about Elton the way Beloved feels about the Dead).  Next to me are stacks and stacks of CDs – Janis Joplin, Steppenwolf, Jimmy Hendrix, Creedence, Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, ZZ Top, Led Zepplin, Allman Brothers, the Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, Joe Cocker, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Chicago, Santana, the Beatles and a bunch of blues and Motown.  Looking at it just makes me realize what is missing, mostly stuff Beloved doesn’t care all that much for – Foreigner, Kansas, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, John Cougar Mellencamp, Billy Joel, the Talking Heads, Metallica, and the list goes on and on.  My playlist is going to be most supremely awesome when I’ve got it all stored away on this little piece of heaven.

I am such a rock ‘n’ roll animal.

My little foray into Weight Watchers land is going well…which is why there was no Sunday Brunch this weekend.  I didn’t make anything really exciting, unless you count pigs in a blanket for Beloved and The Young One exciting, or Egg Beaters and turkey bacon for me exciting.  I’ve vowed that I’m going to find a way to be a Weight Watchers Foodie, though, so the recipes won’t stop coming.  Besides, I still baked bread and blondies this weekend – I’m not going off the deep end.  I do believe I’m going to blog about it, though, and am already taking steps to start a WW-related blog. I’ll keep you updated.

I also went to see a new doctor today, and I’m am nothing short of THRILLED to report that she was just marvelous.  She actually took time to sit and talk with me and – wonder of wonders – listen to me.  And she’s giving me low-level doses of estrogen!!  GIMME A GREAT BIG HALLELUJAH!!!!

Life.  It can be good.

Okay, So I’m NOT Cheap

I hope everyone in the States is having a lovely holiday weekend, and everyone else is having a good Monday.  I’ve been so grateful for a 3-day weekend, and we’ve done very little in the way of work work – just housework and yardwork.  Today I’m baking, mostly cheddar bread and brownies at They Young One’s request for his school lunches this week.  And my Southwest Spoon Bread for brunch today, which has become one of Beloved’s favorite dishes.

Smuckers Authentic Jam and Jelly Tourist Trap

True to his word, Beloved took me down to Amish country Saturday.  We took a lot of back roads that we hadn’t traveled before, so we saw a lot of scenery we hadn’t seen before, and a lot more buggies.  First, though, we went to visit Smucker’s.  Yes, the Smucker’s jam and jelly people; their company was founded in Orville, Ohio (“Reddenbacher must be right down the road,” observed Beloved) in the late 19th century and they have a storefront/museum you can visit and – of course – buy things.

We now call it Smucker’s Authentic Jam and Jelly Tourist Trap, becasue there wasn’t a darn thing in there that you couldn’t get in a regular grocery store (unless you count the flannel pajamas I saw one elderly lady purchasing), and the museum part was bland and stuck in the back of the building.

Oh, well; at least we can say we’ve been there now.

After that came the back roads, and because they were back roads, you tend to see a lot of this.  We take a great deal of care around the Amish buggies; most of these people, especially on Saturdays when they do their marketing and run their errands, have their children with them and it really pisses us off when other vehicles – especially big 18-wheelers – go speeding down the roads there, especialy over hills when you can come up behind a buggy very quickly.

We soon found ourselves at Lehman’s Hardware, which is always fun and fascinating, no matter how often we go there.  I didn’t get any pictures, it was just so crowded, but an older Amish couple set up “shop” out in the large gravel parking lot out back of the store, selling the most beautiful split wood, hand-crafted baskets, as well as homemade cookies and jams.  The Amish are usually friendly but reserved, but this couple was downright outgoing.  The man ambled right over when he saw us looking at some tall, oval baskets with lids and leather handles (we were considering one for a laundry hamper) and started showing us how the lids fit, since they were obviously hand-carved.  The woman cheerfully asked us where we were from and chattered away.  The baskets weren’t cheap, so we went on in to the store where I bought 3 Beverly Lewis novels, a new flour sifter and some popcorn seasoning.

We bought the basket on the way out.  Because we’re gullible easy that way.

Next we did some more winding around back roads we hadn’t traveled before, taking a lot of pictures and playing a lot of Cow Rummy.  Before I knew it, Beloved was taking a back road, trying to get around the traffic into downtown Berlin.  I think he took my assertion that he probably wouldn’t want to go there as a personal challenge…in fact, I know he did.  I like that about him.  And the next I knew, we were here.  Yes, that’s Beloved, being the very, very good sport he is.

Here are just a few of the very beautiful quilts sold here.  All of them are handmade by the local Amish women.

And you know that old saying “Lust for Ask and ye shall receive?”  Look at what I got.

Yup, that’s our bed and my new quilt.  Here’s a closeup.

I love it!  It makes that hideous furniture in our bedroom (no, I didn’t pick it out – it was Beloved’s before I met him) almost bearable.

The only thing is, now I feel compelled to make the damn bed every day.

TGIF and Hooray for a Three Day Weekend

‘Cause this getting up at the crack of absurd every morning?  It’s for the birds.  Actually, birds aren’t even up yet when I drag my creaky, puffy carcass out of bed every day to make sure The Young One is up and properly fed and watered before he slumps off to the hallowed halls of middle school.

More good news is Beloved came home last night at a reasonable hour, so we were able to eat dinner and lay in bed while we watched Barack Obama’s acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination.

**WARNING:  Completely uncharacteristic and absolutely subjective political opinion ahead**

Whether or not you agree with his politics, you have to admit the man is charismatic as hell.  And while this middle-aged babe will be voting for Bob Barr come November, I believe I watched the man who will be the next President of the United States.  It will be interesting to watch John McCain next week when he gives his acceptance speech; how he will respond, and what promises he will make.  (C’mon, Mr. Obama – we’ll be entirely free of our dependence on foreigh oil in ten years and it will only cost $150 billion?  I’m really, really interested to hear the details of that little plan.)

**END:  Competely uncharacteristic and absolutely subjective political opinion**

Anyhoo, no sooner had we had time to raise a skeptical eyebrow or two, chuckle at Jon Stewart’s coverage of the convention, indulge in a little – ahem – cuddle time and catch 25 or 30 winks (because it sure as hell wasn’t 40), when Beloved jumped in the car and headed to Pittsburgh for the day.  I, myself, am making the pretense of working from home today and tried like hell to get him to stay home, too, even to the point of bribery with some more cuddle time this morning.  (Do you hear that, men who are commenting over on Twenty Four at Heart‘s wonderfully amusing gender gap posts this week?)  But like most men, he just turned over and went to sleep got in the car and drove to see a client in Pittsburgh.

I feel so cheap.  Good, but cheap.

And how am I repaying his desertion?  Well, with dessert, actually.  I’m making his favorite, Boston Cream Pie.  From scratch.  Because nothing says “I love you, you cuddle-and-run bastard” like a dessert that calls for a pound of butter and 10 egg yolks.  (I can’t post the recipe because the cake and chocolate glaze are from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, but I will post pictures once it’s done.)

On a somewhat related note, now that The Young One has returned to school, Beloved’s traveling is becoming more manageable and we’re all back on somethng that resembles a schedule, The Sunday Brunch will be back on a regular basis as of this weekend.  I don’t know what it will be yet, but there will be a recipe of something.

I hope you all have a marvelous holiday weekend.  I don’t know what we’re doing Monday, although it will probably involve baby back ribs, sweet potato salad and homemade biscuits, but Beloved has promised me a trip down to Yoder Miller’s Authentic Amish Fruit and Vegetable Tourist Trap tomorrow.  I’ll take my camera along, because it’s a fun drive through beautiful countryside and an interesting experience (I can’t promise pictures of the Amish themselves – they don’t like tourists to take their pictures, but their horses and buggies don’t seem to mind).  Lehman’s Hardware store is always fun, and while I doubt I’ll be able to, I’ll try to get him to drive to downtown Berlin; crowded on any Saturday, it will likely be a madhouse on a holiday weekend.  But there is a shop there that sells the most beautiful, intricate, Amish-made quilts.  I’ve been lusting after one for years, but they’re not cheap; one that would fit our California King bed will run anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000.  If I can pester talk him in to taking me there, I’ll see if they’ll let me take pictures of the place – some of the quilts are simply stunning.

Happy Labor Day, y’all.

Zucchini Bread – And Another Award!

There was actually no Sunday brunch today – Beloved had to catch a flight out of Cleveland this morning.  He was home all of one day, again.  *sigh*  Oh, well – we had a VERY nice day together yesterday, and I cooked brunch then.  I made a quiche, sausage and this very lovely zucchini bread.  It makes two loaves, but freezes well if you can’t eat it all right away.  That’s never a problem around here!

Zucchini Bread

makes 2 loaves

3 eggs

1 cup oil – I use Smart Balance

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Using a mixer, beat the eggs well. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla; continue beating mixture until thick and foamy.  Stir in the zucchini and pineapple by hand.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  A third at a time, add dry ingredients into wet and gently stir after each addition.

Divide the batter equally between 2 well-buttered 5 X 9 inch loaf pans.  Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

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Twenty Four At Heart has bestowed my blog with the “Sharing the Love” award, saying that it is always an interesting read and that I’m a kind person.  All I can say is it takes one to know one.  Thank you so much. my friend – you are a sweetheart.

If you haven’t read her blog, hop over there now.  This is a woman who has laughed – and lived – in the face of great adversity.  And where else can you read about hairstylists that dress like leprechauns after slathering their entire bodies in Preparation H, a pair of grandmothers who divorced their husbands – for each other – and a full pictorial account of hundreds of people mooning Amtrak?

It’s just good stuff.

 

Since I can’t find a better way to say it myself – the menopause brain-fog has claimed me for it’s own this morning – I’ll let the lovely lady say if for me:

I know a lot of bloggers love awards as a way of finding new sites.  Other bloggers hate them.  I am going to pass this award along and I hope those I am passing it to will appreciate it for what it is.  My way of letting you know that I admire your writing and your efforts in this crazy blogosphere we operate in.

Amen.

Thursday Drive – often funny, often touching, often thought-provoking (often all three at once) and always well-written.

It’s a Mad Madge World – her post on the Seven Stages of Blogging alone earns an award.  I’d have hugged her if I could when she posted it.

Ms. Meta at Adventures at Midlife – this is the second award I’ve passed to her.  She deserves it.  Her posts always makes me think, even if I don’t comment on or about them right away.  In fact, I have plans to post about something she’s posted about – again.  This could become a habit.

Midlife’s a Trip – also a “she makes me think” blogger, it’s worth visiting just to see her beautiful smile.

Shout – another blog I’ve passed an award to before.  Easily one of the best of the Mommy Bloggers, Tricia is smart, savvy and sophisticated.  I like her a lot.