Thinking Out Loud: The Blend Edition

So I did something crazy.

No I didn’t get any more tattoos or pierce my nipples yet again. Ha, I’m totally kidding about that second one. While I like some bedroom (or kitchen or dining room table) foreplay, the idea of driving a fourteen gage needle through such a sensitive area makes me cringe even worse than discovering the dead chipmunk indoors, on my rug, earlier this week.

The crazy thing I did was sign up for this weekend long blogging retreat everybody is going on about. I don’t know; maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called Blend which stands for Blogger + Friend. Yeah, I know. Yet another thing which makes me cringe; a little less than the nipple action, but cringe worthy nonetheless.

Aside from the cornball name (watch me get banned from the conference now), it sounds like it could be a really great time. There’s a huge potential for me to meet some very cool and like-minded (i.e. food obsessed) people, assuming of course they’re not all homicidal white fifty-seven year males posing as food bloggers on the internet. I have my doubts, especially about Heather. I know I met her that one time, but I have concerns. She had to leave early, under suspicious circumstances. I’m pretty sure the Po-Po was on her tail, and she needed to flee the city, fast.

So in case there were any similar thoughts about me, I’d thought I’d clear the air; Out Loud, and share some never known facts about little old me; aside from the small detail I’m a fifty-seven year old male posing as a food blogger. ;)

Thinking-Out-Loud

  • I’m slightly shy, until I feel really comfortable around you, at which point, ♫ Watch out now. ♫ Sorry, I had to slip a little Beatnuts in there.
  • Despite my penchant for singing, it’s likely I won’t be doing any of it. It takes months of me knowing you before I’ll just belt it out. Either that or a really strong cocktail and when it comes to those, two is about my limit; I’m little, which means I’m a cheap date.
  • I’m a hot and red faced sweaty mess when I work out. Since fitness classes are a part of this retreat, you’re going to see this side of me. Brace yourselves.

Sweaty Meg

#sweatybitchesrock #noshameinmygame #vanillagorilla

  • I cheat on my squats and lunges, and I will continue to do so, even if you try to correct my form.
  • I don’t have six-pack abs. I don’t even have a two pack and my thighs touch. Despite those things or maybe because of them, I’m in great shape and incredibly healthy. Since I just got the results of my annual physical, blood work and all, I get to say that. My doctor said my kidneys were comparable to that of a small child. It’s probably all those beet juice mimosas I drink.
  • I’m a bookworm at heart. Every night, I fall asleep with my Kindle still in my clutches, generally in mid-sentence and with my little Kindle light still on.

Big Books

  • I’ve been known to hiss when I want to express displeasure. It’s possible, albeit only slightly, I’ve been living with felines for too long.
  • Sometimes I sleep with my foot next to my head. I’m not sure how the logistics work, but it happens.
  • You should probably let me have my morning coffee before attempting conversation with me.

Coffee

(source)

  • Speaking of conversation, I’m not one for small talk so let’s just get right to the heart of the matter. I also prefer direct and decisive communication whenever possible.

Introverts and Talking

(source)

  • If you want me to last past 10 o’clock on any given night, chances are I’ll need a nap during the day.
  • I can sleep through almost anything, and sometimes I do it with my eyes open while muttering, because that’s not at all creepy.
  • Even though I’m a sound sleeper, I can’t make it through the night without using the bathroom at least once, and that’s on a good night.
  • I really do appreciate order and precision in my general surroundings. If you want to live out of your suitcase that’s cool with me, just make sure it doesn’t assault mine. For my part, I promise, despite a desperate desire to do so, not to organize your stuff.

OCD Cleaning

(source)

  • I’m a fixer. If you want to tell me your problems, that’s all well and good. I will be genuinely nice and understanding, but I’m also going to give you solutions to correct them. Sometimes that’s great and sometimes people don’t actually want resolutions.
  • Even though I joke about the size of my inflamed ego all the time, it will be able to fit into any room just fine.

Aesomeness

(source)

  • According to the Hubby, I’m a big old softie underneath my tough exterior. I say Bullshit to that; ain’t nothing soft about me, except that tiny and cute patch on my inner thigh. I call her Duchess, and I just made that up.
  • If you need support, I’m your girl. I’m incredibly loyal and will have your back, always, even when you do stupid shit. Plus, you want me on your side in a fight. I may be an advocate for non-violence and think guns are overrated, but I’ve got a mean right hook and because I’m little, they never see it coming.

Yep, it’s safe to say we’re going to have a blast. Now who’s coming with me?

Are you going to Blend? Am I crazy for doing this? Tell me something, anything, that people don’t already know about you. Bonus points if it makes me laugh.

Posted in I Work Out, Reflections | Tagged | 10 Comments

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming today to bring you this.

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes

Totally worth it, am I right? That question is rhetorical.

Typically, I publish my recipes on Friday. I like my food to be the last thing seared in your brain before the weekend starts. I envision you hurrying out to the grocery store on Friday night, grabbing said ingredients and then spending a portion of your Saturday or Sunday whipping up whatever concoction I shared, at which point you’ll take countless photos and then Instagram that shit. Obviously.

We all know as fabulous as Monday morning recipes are, we’ve long since forgotten them come Friday, unless it’s Amanda’s Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie. Our stomachs, right along with our impulses, are fickle and fair-weathered friends. Or you suffer from self-diagnosed ADD, which means you can barely remember what you fell in love with on Monday and just had to have or else your world would end, and your Pinterest board is a black hole worse than the one in the center of the universe.

Today though is Wednesday, and I’m sharing my Cheddar Scalloped Potato recipe anyway. The horror, I know. I have good reason though. Of course I do, I always do and feel free to replace reason with justification. For me, they’re one and the same.

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes C

Easter is coming; like this Sunday coming, and you’re gonna want this dish on your table. Hell, I’d even set a place for it at mine; give it a seat of honor, perhaps a dainty napkin and a sizeable fork. As a self-proclaimed planner, who happily and readily embraces her planning ways, I knew I needed to share this recipe with you ahead of time, and if I’m being totally honest, I probably should have given it to you last week, so I could plant the seeds in your mind (I’m stealing a page from Kirsten’s book with this brainwashing stuff).

This dish is easy to make, requires very few ingredients and will blow your traditional cheesy potatoes with cornflakes out of the water. My houseguest said so when I fed it to him this week, and I never even mentioned that poor substitute for a potato dish. You call those potatoes? Ha! I call them cardboard, unless of course it’s being offered by my own relatives, then they’re fabulous, and I appreciate your contribution to the meal.

This dish calls for some of my favorite ingredients: potatoes and cheese. It’s a classic; a  rich and hearty side, comfort food at its finest. The best part though is its simplicity to make. At the end of the day, this wonderful, warm and inviting casserole of delight is nothing more than some sliced potatoes, coupled with a fast and easy cheese sauce. The two should mate more often. They could get married, have babies, and live happily ever after.

The End.

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes B

Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (serves 6 to 8 as a side dish)

Ingredients

  • 4 large Baking Potatoes (I used Russets), sliced thinly. Peeling is optional.
  • 1/2 cup yellow Onion, finely diced
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 4 Tbsp. Flour
  • 1 cup Milk of Choice, I used Almond Milk.
  • 2 1/4  cups shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided (2 cups and 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. White Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Note: This is one of those dishes which comes together quickly, so I like to have my ingredients prepped before I even start cooking. I dice the onion, I shred the cheese, I measure out the milk and I combine all the spices from the nutmeg to the red pepper flakes in a small cup. Last, I peel and finely slice the potatoes (a mandolin would work well if you are fortunate enough to own one).

The top pictures are those of the cheese sauce (a roux if you want to get technical) in action. Since it goes through some strange textural phrases rather quickly, I thought a visual might help.

Cheese Sauce & Scalloped Potato Collage

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a midsized saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter. Once the butter has melt, add the finely diced onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes more.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and then add flour, one tablespoon at a time and mix in with the butter and onions, using a whisk or a fork until the flour has been fully absorbed. It’ll resemble a paste, as seen in the first picture in the above collage.
  4. Slowly add in your milk, stirring until fully incorporated with butter/onion/flour mixture. Your sauce will be quite thin at this point. Add in 2 cups of your shredded cheese (see the second picture in the above collage) and all of your spices. Stir occasionally until cheese has fully melted and sauce has thicken substantially. If your sauce is too thick, you can gradually add more milk. Alternatively if sauce is too thin, you can add more cheese. Taste your sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary. It’s okay if your sauce is a little on the salty side because the potatoes will soak up that seasoning.
  5. In a greased 11 x 8 1/2 casserole dish, place sliced potatoes flat side down, alternating with scoops of cheese sauce. I lay out one potato, then one scoop of cheese sauce, one potato, one scoop sauce until I’m completely out of both. The cheese sauce should be your final layer. Note: The sauce should be spread over each of the layers, although it won’t cover everything. It’s okay because as it cooks it will melt and manage to fill the nooks and crannies you missed. Top with remaining quarter cup of shredded cheese and extra paprika for coloring.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You should be able to easily piece the potatoes with a fork when they’re done.
  7. Be prepared to fight your in laws for the top layer. It’s worth it. ;)

Today’s post is being shared with She Eats Fresh Food Wednesdays, Anyonita Nibbles Tasty Tuesday’s, Hun… What’s for Dinner’s Simply Supper Tuesday’sBuns in my Oven What’s Cookin’ Wednesday and The Novice Gardener’s Fiesta Friday.

Do you celebrate Easter? If so, what are your favorite side dishes at Easter dinner? If not, what are favorite side dishes at family gatherings?  

Posted in Good Eats, Reflections | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Week In Review: The Spring Has Sprung Edition

This past winter has been long and hard (that’s what she said).

I can’t even make it past the opening sentence without being wholly inappropriate. I like to think that’s a good thing.

A digression: I’m getting a little bored with my own link up party. Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk about myself (said all bloggers, everywhere), but I grow tired of recapping the same shenanigans every single week because as fun and exciting as my life is (Pet Supplies Plus is my new hangout on Saturday nights at 8:15 p.m.), I’m doing pretty much the same stuff on a weekly basis. Work, eat, work, cook, work, blog, work, exercise, rinse and repeat. I still love the idea of a Week In Review, but I need to shake things up a bit, which is where the long, hard winter comes in, complete with bad sexual innuendos.

This week instead of moving full force into the minutia that is my life, I’m going to list out all the signs I saw in the past seven days that Spring has in fact sprung. Yep, I did say list because no matter how far I stray from my own link up ideals, there will always be my beloved lists. No one can take those from me; myself included.

I Love Lists

Let’s get listing:

  • My feisty felines are shedding their winter coats, and my home is a den of cat hair, not to be confused with a den of thieves. Isn’t thieves what you think when you hear ‘den of something?’ No, just me? Must be my Catholic school upbringing, complete with being locked in a closet, Carrie style. That last part totally isn’t true; I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
  • The farmers markets around here are starting to sell produce. The heavens opened and the angels rejoiced. I scored a dozen eggs, spinach, kale, some fabulous homemade soft pretzels and kale tips. I shall allow you to make your own dirty joke here. Dream big, my friends.

Kale Tips

  • I devoured my first spinach salad of the season complete with hard-boiled eggs and smoked cheddar cheese.

Spring Spinach Salad

Blueberry Brussel Sprouts and Veggie Burgers

  • This past weekend we were graced with beautiful seventy degree weather, which means I went running….in SHORTS, with the Hubby. It was completely unintentional and I was embarrassed the entire time, but apparently we are now the couple who dresses alike. Never again, never again.

Running with Hubby

  • I also spent some quality hours digging in the dirt. My palms are covered in callouses, and my hamstrings are so tight you could string a bow on them (I have no idea if I’m using this phrase properly) and I love it.

Yardwork

  • I got my first bug bite of the season, right on my left tata. What can I say? Bugs in my neighborhood have good taste.
  • Speaking of firsts, I awoke to my first dead chipmunk In. The. House. this morning. I’ll spare you a picture, but I’m pretty sure at least one of my kitties must be Houdini because I have no idea how they got Alvin, Simon, or Theodore inside, through locked doors, while I slept peacefully upstairs. What I do know is that my houseguest will be handling the clean up because I don’t do chipmunk removal. See, there are consequences to staying with me.
  • Moving onto more pleasant things, another sign Spring has sprung is all the lovely flowers in my yard. They make me happy.

Spring Flower Collage

  • As does Summer Shandy, a celebratory drink for completing my taxes, with two days to spare. *blows on fingers and dusts off shoulder.

Summer Shandy

  • Oh and the neighborhood woodpecker is back and banging away, in full woodpecker style.

Clean Pecker

(source)

On that wholly inappropriate note…it comes full circle.

Enough about me. Let’s hear from you.

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Interested in participating in the Week In Review?

The Week In Review is a list, in its purest form, not of the things you still need to do, but of all the things you have done in the past seven days. It’s an achievement list and one with the sole purpose of bringing pleasure. Want in? Grab the Week in Review button for your post, link back to Clean Eats, Fast Feets and get your list on. For more details, click here.

Link up and get your list on.


Please tell me how the cats got the chipmunk inside? through the locked doors? What signs of spring do you see in your neighborhood? Do you enjoy yard work, or digging in the dirt as I call it?

Posted in Bottoms Up, Good Eats, I Work Out, Reflections | Tagged , , | 23 Comments