Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garlic Chicken

When I married Ed, I knew nothing about cooking. Absolutely NOTHING!! The very first thing I cooked well was a chicken breast recipe I got from the internet. I may have cooked this dish three nights a week for the first couple of years that Ed and I were married. Ed may have insisted that I never cook ths dish again, for the rest of his life. But Ed is rehearsing for a play in our community theater right now, and our munchkins have given me no such proclamation. So, I can cook one of my old favorites! It's super easy and always yummy!

The lineup:

4 chicken breasts, trimmed of skin and fat
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (like Kraft)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Mince the garlic and put it in a bowl with the olive oil. Microwave the olive oil/garlic mixture for 30 seconds. In a second bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Plain bread crumbs in a jar will work just fine.

Dip the chicken in the olive oil coating both sides. Then dredge the chicken breasts through the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides of the chicken well. Place the chicken breasts in a glass dish and bake for 35 minutes.

This dish is easily multiplied or divided. And munchkins love this because it's basically chicken nuggets in a bigger form. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It moved!

Nurses are a superstitious lot and, having been a nurse for the last 9 years, I've heard alot of folklore. Nurses who have been nurses for a long time always have a story about a haunting at some hospital where had worked years ago and everyone listening always plays lip service, never questioning the veracity of the story teller. Until last week, nothing paranormal had ever happened to me.

The intensive care unit where I work is fairly large and open. All of the rooms can be seen from the nurses station. There had been a fairly traumatic and emotional death the night before, but being a fairly busy ICU, the bed got filled by another patient the next day. The new patient had a visitor who was a nun, which would not have been notable except that we almost never saw a nun visiting a patient. I don't think there are any nuns associated with the Catholic church in town.

And then it happened...

The bed started moving on it's own!! I actually witnessed this with my own eyes!! The nurse would put the bed flat and then, the bed would move back into an upright position. And then, even weirder, the bed did this all day long, BUT ONLY WHEN THE NUN WAS IN THE ROOM!!!!

And as for my reaction at the time.... I stayed near my patient's rooms, on the other side of the unit!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Science Experiments

I haven't been cooking alot of food in the kitchen lately, but we have been doing science experiments in the kitchen. Lots of science experiments!! The boys attend a Montessori school and have been the "scientists of the week". I've discovered that boys can be fantastically smelly and slimy and gross!! We did a science experiment out of the book sent home with Trip for the first one. We dissolved egg shells in vinegar! It was AMAZING!!! I'm a nurse, so I took a few science classes in college, and generally enjoy smelly and slimy things. To keep Trip interested, we covered an egg in vinegar every day for five days until it was time for him to show his experiment to his class.

The egg and vinegar experiment was nice because we saw immediate results and then the vinegar kept working on the egg for several days. The vinegar almost immediately makes small bubbles on the egg shell. About twelve hours later, there are larger bubbles on the egg. We put lids on the jars of eggs and vinegar, so after a couple of days when we opened them, the built up carbon dioxide from the chemical reaction caused the lid to have a small pop as the lid was unscrewed. After three days, we noticed the eggs had expanded to the diameter of the jar. (We used canning jars.) When we finally did the presentation in class, we opened the oldest jar and had the lovely aroma of vinegar waft into our noses! Neither Trip nor Logan ever complained about the smell. We drained off the vinegar and had an egg with just the soft membrane encapsulating it! It was wonderfully jiggly! Trip touched it first. I love how brave he is! We passed the egg around and, being a class of 4, 5, and 6 year olds, the membrane was broken from all of the jiggling that had to be done to the egg. Fortunately, we had 8 more!

Because of the success of the egg and vinegar experiment, I decided the boys were ready to start doing science experiments more often. They're 5. Sounds reasonable to me. They should always enjoy the slimy, stinky experients, right? So I bought 3 kids science experiment books.

The books arrived and I was unbelievably excited! I told the boys about the science books. The only thing they wanted to do was make was a volcano! Boring! Everyone does that! I wanted to blow stuff up! So I read the books and found a few easy ones I wanted to do and got no excitement out of the munchkins at all.

Then, it was Logan's turn to be Scientist of the Week. We had a week to prepare, and I worked 5 of those days. Twelve hour, come home exhausted shifts at the hospital. No experiment planning got done. The night before the presentation was due, we experimented at the kitchen sink, trying to find a suitable experiment for Logan's classroom presentation.

First, we added a tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of soda. The soda fizzes up really quickly and there's a nifty explanation that goes along with the experiment, but for a whole presentation, it was kind of boring. I decided to find the "Turning Milk into Rocks" experiment that was in one of our new books. 1 1/2 cups of milk and 4 tsps of white vinegar, microwaved for a minute and my slimy and stinky expectations were met! The boys got one wiff of what was now warm and separated buttermilk and they started heading out of the kitchen! Ewww, gross! and That stinks Momma! were what I heard, not the giggles I expected. I trudged on anyway. I poured the mixture through a colander and separated out the milk curd. It was slimy and nasty! Logan would not touch it. Trip stuck in a finger and then wouldn't go any further. I picked up the whole mess in my hand and squeezed out the rest of the water! Logan assured me there was no microwave at school and that experiment was not a possibility for his presentation.

We settled on one called "Erupting colors". We used cooking oil in a small measuring cup, added in 4 drops each of red, green, and blue food coloring and mixed well. Then we added it to a large bowl of water and watched the colors not mix and then slowly dissipate out of the oil and into the water. It was kind of lame, but that was the experiment we did for Logan's class. Logie got excited with all of his friends and added in too many drops and stirred the oil in the water, so the colors dissipated out of the oil too fast. He ended up doing the experiment twice so all of the kids could see up close what he had done.

My inner child scientist was not appeased. I still wanted to see something explode! So today, we did an experiment called the "Cola Geyser". This one, I'm told, is on youtube. You take a 2 liter of a soda pop. The book said diet sodas work better, but the cheapest store brand of soda did not offer diet today, so we used full octane soda. You add a whole package of mentos to the soda pop and there is supposed to be an explosion. We didn't get the whole package of mentos in before it started working. It was a pretty good explosion. At any rate, my inner child scientist is appeased for a few weeks. It's now time to torture some unsuspecting herbs and vegetables!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Raspberry Popsicles

Now I realize that this recipe will be almost exactly like the blueberry popsicles, but I did have to experiment a bit fot this one. I figured the lime juice was the catalyst to that flavor pop for all fruit. I was wrong. Raspberries and lime juice are gross. The flavor is just wrong. The perfect flavor booster for raspberries is pineapple juice! It takes more raspberries for this recipe than blueberries because the raspberries don't have quite as much juice per berry. It's a scientific fact.

Try it and see. The only thing I might need help with is the adult beverage that might be made with this.

The lineup:

5 cups raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice

Put the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan an bring to a boil. Boil over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Make sure all of the raspberries have burst and the sugar has turned into a syrup. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl. Add the pineapple juice. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze!

Blueberry popsicles

I got the original blueberry popsicle recipe from Gourmet magazine a couple of years ago. The recipe include pints or quarts and I don't really remember some of the details. The one I'm going to show you is a bit more specific, but the flavor is the same. Think back on the popsicles you had when you were a kid. They were decadent and the flavors popped. Now think about the popsicles you may have shared with your children. They are bland, watered-down, almost flavorless. Try these once and you will never want your children to eat store-bought popsicles again.

The lineup:

4 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lime juice

Really. That's it.

Put the blueberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Boil for about 8-10 minutes. The blueberries will burst when they are done. You want to make sure all of the blueberries have burst and all of the sugar has turned into sugar. Remove from heat and strain into a glass bowl. Mash on the berries to get out all of the juice. The skin from the blueberries is trash, so get out all the juice you can. The blueberry syrup will yield approximately 2 cups of liquid. Add the lime juice to the berry syrup. Pour into popsicle molds or ice cube trays. Really. That's all there is to it. Freeze them for at least 4 hours.

Your children will proclaim you the best cook in the world.

Now take the blueberry pops you put in the ice cube trays and put one in an old fashioned glass. Let it melt a bit. Pour in about 1/4 cup (1 jigger, I think) of rum or vodka. Maybe coconut rum. Then top off with ginger ale.

I haven't tried the adult beverage yet, but I'm dying too. It just hasn't been warm enough yet to have a party.

And yes, I do realize the hypocrisy of that statement. My kids love popsicles when it's 20 degrees out, but I'm not willing to have a few friends over for adult beverages because it's too cold. Maybe I should start planning that party...