A Few On Friday

1.  B and I watched Happy this week.  Looking for something to do on your long weekend?  Check it out! 

Their theory on happiness is that happiness is around 50% genetics, 10% situational and 40% what you make of things.  Very interesting scientists.  Very interesting indeed!  They also discussed a concept of the hedonic treadmill which pretty much says that even with the getting of more stuff we are really no more or less happy. 

Good thing to remember as I continue to whine about wanting new fall boots.

2.  Speaking of happy, I've recently joined spotify premium.  Hello music at your finger tips.  I, along with the help of the group members, created a playlist for us using this spotify technology to jam to whilst doing a therapeutic activity this week (Run-on!) and it was full of amazing stuff.  One new jam they suggested was this:
Just try to not bob your head while you listen to that.  Just try.  Nope.  Not happening.

3.  The opposite of happy is unhappy and that's what I was when I realized that I had shingles.  But I don't call them shingles, I call them the shang.  However, there were several points of gratitude involved in the shang.  I shall list them now:
  •  My alarmist nature led to me catch them early and therefore treat them early.  I've had no issues other than itching.
  • I'm pretty sure that once you get the shang you aren't going to get the shang again.  One more thing to cross of the list.
  • I've enjoyed singing "Shang shang shaaaaaaaaang!  Shang of fooooools!" to the tune of Aretha's Chain of Fools all week long.  This is one of the many joys of living with me.  Just ask Brandon. 
4.  Our 139# akita has developed two fears as of late.  He is afraid of the dark and afraid of loud noises.  This makes early morning and late evening walks mighty difficult.  Even more difficult when someone is doing external home repairs and/or slamming doors.  And if this guy doesn't want to go walking he's not going walking.  I've tried reasoning with him, dragging him, begging him.  Nope, says the Browne hound.  Nope, nope, nope.  

5.  I had a standoff with an armadillo in my front yard this morning.  

6.  I heard a piece on NPR this morning about dumplings.  Now I can't stop thinking about dumplings!  I want these.  But I think that they are technically pot stickers.  Either way.  Sounds like a fun Saturday adventure.  I'll let you know how it goes. And if it goes.   

Happy (long) weekend dear friends!  Take care and do things you love!   


WooHoo!! Wednesday (ThankYouThankYouThankYou)

When was the last time you had one of those thankyouthankyouthank moments?  Mine was last Saturday, whilst jogging past Rice Hall on the Mississippi State University campus.  
What is Rice Hall?  It's a monstrous old building, gloomy and boring amongst it's newly constructed neighbors.  It's where my Mom lived, my sister lived, I lived while doing our thing at MSU.  

As with many people, my Freshman year of college was quite the interesting time.  And by interesting I mean I did things like pierce my eyebrow, score a 0.71 GPA and generally make people nervous.  I had no idea who I was or what I wanted but was convinced that I knew everything, blah blah blah you know what I mean.

As most lives do, mine turned out exactly as I'd planned not even a little

As I passed that dorm memories of flowy skirts and bad decisions came flowing back and I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and say one of AL's top three prayers: thankyouthankyouthankyou.  Thanks be to God for the grand plan and the interventions and the firm and devastating no's.  Thanks be to my family for their support and their eye rolling and their hand holding.  Thanks be to my friends for their ears and their sitting with and their distraction.  Thanks be to life for it's chaos and its beauty and it's adventure. 


"Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business."  Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow


Apple and Havarti Quesadillas

If I said that apples and Havarti cheese were a good combination what would you think?  Would you believe me?  Would you contact 2 physicians and an attorney in an attempt to get me committed to the state hospital?  I hope not.  That would be a bummer.  

I'd be all like "I'm a therapist!  You can't keep me here!"  and they'd be all like "Ha!  You are delusional! Apple and havarti is crazy town...go play jenga!"

I'm here to tell you that apple and havarti is not crazy town, it is amazing town.  Any Greenville people familiar with the Grilled Quesadilla Cancun dish that the country club used to have?  It was one of my favorites and had a taste that I could never quite replicate.  Well, my friends, this is it. Makes sense that the GGCC was using Come on In.  Duh. 

I brought this dish for a going away party.  I must admit that I was only brave enough to bring it after it was brought as an appetizer for our cookbook club last month.  They were a hit!  All were eaten but one....and of course I wanted to eat that last one but didn't want to be rude.  Then it got to cold.  But I still wanted to eat it.  But I didn't.  Bam.
Apple and Havarti Quesadillas
from Come on In

1 granny smith apple, peeled cored and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 tbl unsalted butter
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp brown sugar
4 flour tortillas
8 oz havarti cheese, thinly sliced
butter for frying quesadillas

Over medium heat, saute the apple, pepper, onions in butter until softened.  Add the cayenne pepper, salt, vinegar, garlic and brown sugar and stirl to combine.  Remove this mixture and wipe out your pan.  Add a little more butter (not to much as they will get greasy!) and set up to make your quesdadillas.  Arrange cheese slices over half of one of the quesadillas, add some of the apple mixture.  Fold and fry.   I've found that it's much easier to flip quesadillas when it's just one tortilla folded in half versus two tortillas atop one another.  But you can do whatever. 

Repeat with the remaining ingredients. 

Cut into triangles and serve warm.


A Few on Friday

1.  Please watch this video of akita puppies.  I can't even handle it. 

2.  Send some prayers/positive energy/good thoughts to Brandon this weekend as he takes the GMAT.  Word on the street is that it's got some geometry on it.  

Gee, I'm a Tree!  

That's all I've got. 

3. I really enjoyed this article on NPR this weekend entitled Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances, A Runners Beautiful Confession.  If you don't venture to read it, at least check out the cartoon that it features over at The Oatmeal. It is good stuff.  Good stuff indeed.  I consider myself a runner running to outrun the blerch.   

4.  Here are some great articles on narcissism for your Friday afternoon enjoyment.

5.  Today is my dad's birthday!  Get it with your mustache, Andy.

6.  In an attempt to practice gratitude today I'd like to thank my friend Brantley for telling me about the Futurebirds.  I've created a Pandora station and it's making for some good charting music. 

Happy weekend, dear friends!  Thanks for reading!



Shrimp Tortellini Helen Mary

I've got a little visualization exercise for you this morning.  Close your eyes.  Imagine a lovely bowl full of pasta.  Give it a cream sauce, some big gulf shrimp, some cheesy tortellini.  Now keep that image with you for the rest of this post.

Why?  Because I didn't take a picture of this dish!  Well, I did take a picture of this dish but not one that was worthy to post.  If I'm saying it's not worthy to post then you know it's bad, I've posted some blurry shiz on here lately!

But here is a picture of me being nearly mauled by a cat in a fabric store:
This was the dish that I made for our last cookbook club gathering.  It was at my house, one would think that I would have things together enough to do some better documenting.  Alas, I did not.  But I swear, I'm making it all up with this recipe.  It was really (really) good and simple to put together! 
And beware of cats in fabric stores. 
Shrimp Tortellini Helen Mary
adapted from Come on In
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley
1 pint of heavy cream
9 oz spinach tortellini, cooked
hot sauce, cayenne pepper, salt (to taste)
Saute onion and garlic in butter until soft.  Add shrimp and continue to cook until shrimp is done.  Add cheese and parsley and gradually add enough cream to make a thick sauce.  Fold in the tortellini.  Season to taste with hot sauce, cayenne pepper and salt.   


Pasta with Roasted Veggies and Bacon

I know that roasting cauliflower and sweet potatoes may be rushing things a bit but really, I care not.  I'm not even going to talk about how hot we all are and ready everyone is for fall.  I'm not going to talk about it one bit.  
Instead, I'm going to share this recipe with you.  This recipe that I found in the WW Magazine that, of course, featured all fall recipes.

How's a girl supposed to stay in the moment?  

Oh well, moving on.  

I hate sweet potatoes.  With a passion.  This hatred is one that I'm hoping to change since I hear that in order to be self actualized and healthy, one should eat only kale, quinioa and sweet potatoes with the occasional piece of dark chocolate.

Since we all know how far this girl is from that (I chose french onion dip over running on Monday) let's just start with a few chunks of roasted sweet potato.  

Fast fact:  the Big Browne Hound adores roasted sweet potato!     

Pasta with Roasted Veggies and Bacon
adapted from WW Magazine

12 oz fresh cauliflower and broccoli
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cup sliced onion
2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 lb multi grain pasta
3 slices center cut bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
3 tbl Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower, broccoli, potato, onion, oil and salt.  Roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until everything is getting soft. 

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add the pasta water, the bacon, the cooked vegetables and the Parmesan cheese.  Toss to combine. 

Serving size 1 1/2 cup (serves 4)
Points plus 9


Back To School Breakfast Burritos

Raise your hand if you are returning to school this week.

Wonderful!  Good luck.  Hope you aren't taking microbiology online.  It's impossible.  

Raise your hand if you are sending a loved one back to school this week.  

Mines up! 

Yes, yes.  This week my mister heads back to college for what is shaping up to be his final (fall) semester as an undergraduate college kid.  God willing and the creek don't rise, as always.

(Side bar:  that's one of my favorite phrases.  God willing and the creek don't rise.  Use it in conversation today.) 

In honor of his return to college I share with yous guys today some freezer breakfast burritos.  
 These guys are tasty and microwavable, a handheld dream in the form of breakfast.  I whipped these together while also whipping together dinner, meaning that they are quite simple.  

Looking forward to experimenting with them soon, adding things like hash browns and black beans.  Make them good and skanky.  Of course.  

For more information visit the post that inspired these guys over at the blawg Photographing My Life.  Her photos are way more appetizing and she, I'm guessing, has not forgotten how to use the aperture feature on her camera.  Thanks for posting, Lucy!  

Happy back to school dear friends!

Breakfast Burritos

12 oz breakfast sausage
6 eggs
2 tbl milk
salt and pepper
1 can of rotel, drained
1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese
10 fajita size flour tortillas

Cook the sausage.  Drain and set aside.  Wipe out that pan!

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, salt and pepper and milk.  Transfer the eggs to that same pan (that you've wiped out!) and scramble the eggs until done.  Add the rotel and the cheese, combine.  Return the sausage to the pan.  

Add 1/4 cup of sausage mixture to each flour tortilla.  Roll them up (burrito style!) and wrap them in foil.  Freeze them up!

Serving size 1 burrito
Points plus 7  

To cook a frozen burrito, remove the foil and wrap it up in a paper towel.  Cook it in the microwave for about a minute.  Let it sit for about thirty seconds.  Flip the old gal over and repeat. 



These Pancakes Have a Secret

Why is this pancake sitting in a shadow?  Because it's shrouded in secrecy.
What kind of dirty secret could this pancake have that's causing it to retreat to said shadows?

Well.  It all goes back to the McCaleb family (kind of)tradition of weekend pancakes.  It had been a minute since we'd had them and everyone in the house (well, Brandon and that hound) were pretty fired up. 

The bacon was in the oven, the dried ingredients had been mixed together.  Then, horror of horrors, I discovered that we were out of cow's milk! 


I make the distinction that we were out of cow's milk because we were not, in fact, out of soy milk. 

I had two choices.  I could (or I could ask Brandon to) quickly scamper to the grocery to grab some milk.  OR I could just use the soy milk and play dumb if the pancakes tasted a little bit like edemame. 

Of course I chose option number two. 

As it would turn out, substituting 1 1/4 cup of light soy  milk for 1 1/4 cup of 2% milk makes for the lightest and fluffiest pancakes I've ever had!  I followed this recipe

Happy Monday turkeys! 


A Few on Friday

1.  OMG where have you been?  Jokes. 

2.  Raising the roof for this cool snap over here.

3. Speaking of this cool snap....what's your fall clothes plan?  What's in?  What's out? What are you focusing on? 

I know it's really early to be thinking about this but hear me out.  For starters, I didn't do much fall clothes purchasing last year (or the year before for that matter) so I've got lots to buy. Boots.  Pants.  A new bag.  A festive yet pseudo-neutral flat.  Transition pieces.  

For second, like many folks, I'm on a budget.  That means that I've got to choose wisely what I put in my shopping cart.  

My office mate/friend/person that I spend more time with than anyone else had the following wonderful advice...

Her:   You have to first decide what you want to look like this fall.   

Me:  Ooooohhhhhhh.  That's a good idea.  Thank you.  I think I'd like to look wrapped.  

Her:  That's good.   You do wrapped well.  

Me:  Thanks girl.  

Solid advice.  Keeps your look from looking like it's been diagnosed with schizophrenia, disorganized type.  

4.  I registered to run a marathon.  Eek!

That is all.  Happy Friday.  

Keep being awesome!    



A Few on Friday

1.  Brandon has claimed Sunday afternoons at our house Documentary Sunday.  I'm a fan.  Last Sunday we watched something on Russian Prisons (Just don't wind up there, guys.  They make you walk bent over at the waist with your hands beside you....kind of like yoga but not) and The House I Live In.  Both good stuff, especially The House I Live In.  Check them out on Netflix. 

2.  I've started following Runners World on the facebook and I'm a fan of that as well.  They recently put an article up on taming one's monkey mind when running called Find Zen Through Running. It's a good read...check it out if you enjoy the running + have the monkey mind.  I'm putting the book Running With the Mind of Meditation on my to read list. 

3.  While we are talking about social programs (see #1) and running, run over (BAM.) and listen to this story on NPR about how running programs are helping the homeless.  Super, super cool stuff.  Listen to the story here.    

4.  I can't handle this.

http://www.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/copyrightWrapper/watermark.php?display=true&image=http://bp2.uuuploads.com/dog-with-moustache/dog-with-moustache-2.jpg http://www.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/copyrightWrapper/watermark.php?display=true&image=http://bp3.uuuploads.com/dog-with-moustache/dog-with-moustache-3.jpg
5.  I also can't handle Madonna's diet.  Read about it here
Oh so you don't care about Madonna's diet?  Well read it anyway because the woman who wrote the article might be one of the funniest gals on the web right now.  Really.  I'm crying at my desk. 

Happy (Fugee) Friday, yo!  Have a great weekend!



The Tale of a Gigantic Cookie

Once upon a time I borrowed a mini spring form pan from a friend and then forgot to return it.  
 Then once upon a Sunday I said I want to bake! and Brandon said What about cookies?! and I said Heck yes!  Go get some milk chocolate morsels! 
On that very Sunday, after dropping my cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto my baking sheet, I wondered what in the world I would do with all of that extra dough!  Luckily, I remembered that mini spring form pan that I never returned and thought huh.  I wonder if that would work?
It did work!  And it made the most glorious gigantic cookie ever!  And I shared it with Brandon, even though I didn't want to.  

To make your own gigantic cookie just borrow a spring form pan from a friend and never return it, spread your leftover cookie dough in it and bake it in the oven at 375 for, um, like 12 minutes?  I don't know.  I just kept checking it but didn't really keep track.  

If only I would have had some vanilla ice cream.....

The end.   


Woohoo!! Wedneday (Bucket Lists)

Friends.   What are your thoughts on a bucket list?

Here are mine....

On one hand, it's the ultimate to do list...a great way to do some long term and short term goal setting and get shiz done.   

On the other hand, it's a bit panic inducing.  It can lead to thoughts like:  Is this worthy of a bucket list?  What if I accomplish none of these?  What if I wind up at the end of my life riddled with regret because I didn't get to cross of every. Last. Thing. 

That, my friends, would be terrible. 

But not really.  Right?  Right.   I made a to do list over the weekend and did not cross everything off and everyone woke up in the McCaleb house with their limbs and the ability to problem solve intact.  It was fine, really. 

Perhaps I'll view a bucket list as a place to jot down Hey!  That Would Be Cool! ideas that I come across.  Kind of like pinterest, but for life experiences.  Big and small.  Silly and important.  Near and far.  Healthy and glutenous.

Tell me.  What would you like to do?  Here are a few of mine:

Run a marathon
Visit Talladega
Travel to New England / Cape Cod / that general area
Return to Carmel and run a race in Big Sur


Creamy Baked Tacos

It's Tuesday.  

Let's talk tacos.  

Let's talk, more specifically, creamy baked tacos.  

These buddies are tasty, quick and just the right amount of trashy to make them seem like a treat.  

Trashy Tuesday Tacos...got a nice ring to it.  

Serve them up with some festive rice and call it a day.  Done.  Pretty good leftover, as well!
 Creamy Baked Tacos
adapted from Food.com

1 lb lean ground beef
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbl garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbl water
4 tbl taco seasoning
8 flour tortillas
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 10 oz can of healthy request cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup 2% milk

Preheat oven to 325.  Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  

In a large skillet, cook the beef, pepper, onion, garlic.  Add the taco seasoning and water and simmer for about 10 minutes.  

Divide the meat evenly among the flour tortillas and place seem side down.  Combine the soup and the milk in a small bowl and pour evenly over the tacos.  Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.  

Serving size 1 taco (makes 8)
Points plus 6



Frank Ann Steen's Chicken

Guys.  What was the go-to meal at your house when you were a kid?  Ours was Frank Ann Steen's Chicken.  Or at least in my mind it was.  I feel like we had it all the time.  And I feel like I whined about it a lot.  This last part?  Not shocking.  Peggy is sitting somewhere, nodding her head, saying "Uh huh!  She did!

So recently, I started thinking about FASC.  Didn't take me long to come to the realization that I had to make it again.  I had to understand why this particular food memory was so strong for me, why my mom kept making it (in my mind) week after week.  Also, I really wanted some of that Jiffy cornbread from the box.  Because that stuff is amazing.

So here it is! Frank Ann Steen's Chicken in all of its glory.  Try it out...and don't forget that Jiffy.     
Frank Ann Steen's Chicken
from Temptations Cookbook

3/4 cup of butter 
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, choped
4 tbl flour
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of milk
 2 cups of cooked chicken
salt and pepper

In a skillet, melt the butter and cook the onion and the celery until soft.  Add the flour and stir until smooth.  Add the chicken stock and milk, continuing to stir until the mixture is thickened.  Add chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve over sweet cornbread (adjust points). 

Serving size 1/2 cup
Points plus 8  


A Few on Friday

1.  Y'all.  I won a blog giveaway!  I guess it's a sign that it's time for me to reign in that monkey mind.
 Come on, Pema.  Let's do this. 

2.  If you follow me on Instagram then you know that my sweet Browne Hound's weight has crept up to an out of control 142 pounds.  Oh dear, Browne hound.  That will not work.  He's on a diet and beyond annoyed.  A few nights ago, he stared at Brandon's pizza so hard that I thought, surely, this hound is about to explode. 
Pardon me while I research healthy hound treats.   And stare at this precious chunky hunk of heart for the next half hour. 
3.  Speaking of dogs,that precious Scatter Brained Collars is having a festive fundraiser this month.  They are honoring several different animal rescues, one being Big Fluffy Dog Rescue which I think is beyond cute.  Visit their Etsy site and pick up something for your buddy! 

4.  Switching gears.  Anyone got any experience with these jeans?  Since the image wont show up, you're just going to have to carry your happy self over to the gap and check them out.  Click hereMary Straton emailed them to me earlier in the week, she's fly in her style and with me on the idea that jeans should hang out at your waist and not at your crack.  We're thinking of trying them.  Unfortunately, the reviews say that the color bleeds.  This would be difficult.  I know this because I have a pair of dark indigo jeans from the gap and I always end up with blue hands at the end of the day.  Awkward. 

5.  This video might be the cutest thing you've ever seen.  Go watch it, I'll wait.  

Amazing, right? 

6.  Runners!  Walkers!  Skippers!  It's time to sign up for 300 Oaks.  Do it.  GO!  Register here   

Happy weekend, turkeys!  Make it a good one!


Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

The McCalebs are a people that love any meal ending in the word "Parmesan." Seriously.  If I found  a picture of raccoon Parmesan on Pinterest and I had all of the ingredients, I'd probably whip that up.  But no raccoon here, only eggplant.  For this reason, eggplant Parmesan sandwiches were a no brainer for dinner last week.

Raccoon parmesan makes me shiver.

OK sorry for that heinous mental image, let's get back to edible food. 

This is a great idea to use that eggplant that's growing in your (or your neighbor's or your mom's or your grandfather's) garden right now.  It's quick and easy and yum...the trifecta of awesome for a (meatless) week night dinner. Woo!      
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
from Food Network

1 small eggplant
1 egg, beaten
2 cups of breadcrumbs seasoned with italian seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
4 wheat hogie buns
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup marinara sauce, heated

Slice the eggplant into rounds.  Soak in warm, salted water  for about an hour.  

Take the eggplant and dip in the egg then in the breadcrumbs.  Set aside.  

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to medium high heat.  Place the eggplant in the skillet, cover, and cook for about five minutes.  Flip the eggplant and cook for another 2 or so minutes.  Move to a plate and let them hang tight.  

Meanwhile, heat your hoagie buns up in the oven for a bit.  Layer 1/4 of the eggplant, 1/4 of the cheese and 1/4 of the sauce on the bun.  Repeat with the remaining buns.  

Serving size 1 sandwich
Points plus 13