We have a tradition in my house.  A market day tradition.  Not the farmer’s market mind you, but the specialty market.  It’s a pricier, fancier grocery store that in addition to Campbell’s Soup also sells hard to find cheeses, local organic meats and, when seasonally appropriate, local produce.  They make the best desserts too.  I kinda love the place.  While you might go broke buying the Campbell’s Soup, it’s well worth a visit for perishable goods.  My staple purchases include organic milk and butter rolls, yogurt, cheese, cheese spreads, my favorite gluten free breads and baked goods, sweet rice flour, The Husband’s favorite peanut butter and chocolate cereal, organic chicken, ham at the holidays, salad greens, mushrooms, peaches, chocolate bars, pretzel bread, ten dollar a pint ice cream (and worth every penny), cornbread, Naples-Style freshly made pizza, fruits and veggies and of course pretty much anything from the bakery.

The kids and I hit the market up almost once a week.  It’s the only place I will buy salad greens anymore so I try to make it often enough to keep the fridge stocked for lunch.

I started a tradition there this summer allowing Sweetey Petey to pick one item from the bakery each visit.  His top pick so far has been a black and white cookie the size of my hand, but he has branched out into brownies and cupcakes and more. Size has been irrelevant since he knows he has to share.  That’s my lead-in to no, I did NOT allow my almost three year old to eat that ENTIRE cookie.

Here’s this week’s pick.  The chocolate chip crazy cookie.

DSC_0327 RW

Thick frosting sandwiched between two homemade chocolate chip cookies, rolled in sprinkles, edible sugar glitter, and miniature chocolate chips, and drizzled with both white and dark chocolate.

DSC_0328 RW

We shared it after dinner and The Husband asked me if I had bought two.  Bwahahahaha.  Ummmm no.  That cookie was huge.  He did suggest we divvy it up based on body weight though.  This actually made sense to me (Sweetey Petey by no means needed to eat a third of that cookie) and proved to be the only time in the past four months I almost regretted the 20 pounds I’ve lost since I was cleared for exercise after Baby Charwee was born.

DSC_0335 RW

Sweetey Petey chose wisely this week.

DSC_0338 RW

Have a Wacky Wednesday all!

- Joanna

Question of the Day:   Would you pick a cookie, a brownie or a cupcake from the bakery?  Or a cream horn.  I’m always crossing my fingers for the cream horn!

    PATRICK himself RW Title

    A few months back (sniff sniff) our friends Patrick and Amanda and their little girl Emily moved back to Texas. Permanently. As in never coming back to the Midwest. Well, they agreed to visit once a year but that remains to be seen. Not only have we lost good friends, but poor Petey’s hopes of someday taking baby Emily to prom have been dashed. DASHED I say!

    Sigh.

    Patrick and Amanda were kind enough, however, to leave us with a parting gift.  Lots of parting gifts actually – a box of glass vases and an even bigger box of food! There was also a box of booze but The Husband commandeered that already. Liquids and perishables aren’t allowed in the moving van and there’s only so much you can fit in a Rav4.

    To honor their memory (you know, in case they never make it back like they promised) I’ve decided to make the most of their gifts and document what I did with them.  I’m calling it The Patrick Project.  Sorry Amanda, but The Amanda Project doesn’t have that whole alliteration thing going for it.  

    Here’s the official list of what I received:

    2 clear square glass vases

    1 clear round glass vase

    2 red round glass vases

    bag of shallots

    bag of garlic

    red cooking wine

    7 individual oatmeal packets

    peanut oil

    Stubbs BBQ sauce

    couscous

    salsa chipotle hot sauce

    real maple syrup

    fake maple syrup

    local honey

    basmati rice

    apple cider vinegar

    Morton salt

    kosher salt

    balsamic vinegar

    sherry cooking wine

    worcestershire sauce

    Tobasco sauce

    Tikka Masala simmer sauce

    Kansas City BBQ sauce

    arborio rice

    dried chipotle chiles

    dried mild new mexico chiles

    A Shelf of Food RW

    I’ve used quite a few things since the above picture was taken five minutes ago.  I took nicer pictures when I first received the box but for the life of me I can’t find them anywhere! So this crappy IPhone camera photo will have to do.  It’s actually a nice introduction to this project anyway since most of the photos I’ve taken of the recipes I’ve made thus far have been with my crappy IPhone camera.  I’m getting lazy in my blogging old age it seems.  Remember the days when I used to pride myself on a well taken picture?  Yeah, me neither.

    Patrick has offered advice on how he uses some of these foods and I will mostly likely take him up on that offer.  The dried chiles?  I have no clue.

    Not all of these posts will be recipes either.  So far I have two posts that involve projects for Sweetey Petey using the peanut oil and kosher salt.

    I have at least nine post drafts in this project already and I still have a whole shelf full of food to eat (and a box of vases) so you’ll be seeing Patrick around for awhile.  Stay tuned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    - Joanna

    P.S.  Yes, the first picture in this post is of Patrick himself!

    P.P.S.  The font I used on the picture above is called “Hobo” – this is funny because I’m always checking to make sure the trunk of my SUV is locked so no “hobos” decide to live there.  The Husband should find this immensely funny.  Ha!

    P.P.P.S.  Has anybody noticed that I changed my blog header to peeling paint awhile ago?  Cause it’s been so boring around these parts it’s like watching paint dry peel.

    Question of the Day:  Have you missed me?  There’s only one answer to this question by the way so don’t mistake it as multiple choice. 

      Because I haven’t posted anything in awhile and I’m getting complaints (ok just one.)

      Can you spot the bunny?

      Bunny RW

      Hoping to be back next week with the introduction to The Patrick Project.  Also the Father-in-Law has a guest post coming up.  It’s about the cool table at the senior center.  No, I’m not kidding.

      - Joanna

      Question of the Day:  How much sleep do you need per night?

        Just the other day I convinced you all (except Mavis) that chocolate covered pretzels were the perfect potluck food.  This summer we attended a ham radio field day (yes, The Husband is a ham geek but a damn sexy one if you ask me) and I brought my new go-to potluck food. Here’s what was left of them after the first pass.

        Plate pretzels RW

        Yes, the first pass.  They fared well.  Quite well I think – aside from one guy complaining (joking? it’s hard to tell with ham geek humor sometimes) about mustard pretzels being on the dessert table that is, although I’d like it noted he still took one.  The Husband went back to field day after the kids went to bed for the night and he watched a guy snatch the very last pretzel.  So I guess I was totally right about them being the perfect food to sit out for extended periods of time.

        Here’s Sweetey Petey enjoying one in case you need more photographic evidence they were popular.

        Plate Pete RW

        If you recall I also promised to share the rest of the potluck food. I focused solely on the dessert table for the post.  Yes, yes I did risk looking like a crazy fool in front of a bunch of people who have no idea I have a blog just to snap pictures of half eaten trays of food for you.  Because I love you all.  Or at least like.  I at least like you all.  Or at least most of you.

        Anyway, here’s a breakdown of the dessert table.

        The generic brownie.  Somebody always brings brownies.  They did okay. Not great, but solidly in the middle.

        Plate Brownies RW

        Store bought cake.  These did not fare well at all.  Nobody goes to a potluck for store bought cake people, so stay away from bringing these.  They sure were pretty though weren’t they? 

        Plate store bought RW

        I have no idea what these were.  Some sort of pastry?  It appears to have been pretty popular despite being purchased.

        Plate Pastry RW

        Apple pie.  Let’s face it, apple pie is always a winner no matter where you go or who you are with. So if you have the time, feel free to make one of these (message me your address if you need a taste tester mmmm K cause I love pie.)

        Plate Pie RW

        This was some sort of dump cake I think.  It was popular . . .

        Plate dump cake RW

        . . . so was the chocolate cake with caramel frosting.  Nothing beats a good homemade caramel frosting if you ask me (and apparently all the other folks who devoured this.)

        Plate caramel cake RW

        Fruit.  I’m tossing this into the dessert category here because it was with the desserts.  I devoured the cherries because cherries are expensive.  Must.  Get.  Money’s.  Worth.  From.  Free.  Potluck.

        Plate cherries RW

        For the record, the pre-sliced cherries made me look less like I’d been gutting chickens.  I had some blood red fingers after pulling pits out for Sweetey Petey.

        Plate fruit salad RW

        Watermelon is a classic and somebody always brings it.  It also always gets eaten.

        Plate watermelon RW

        This used to be cheesecake.  Clearly it was popular.  I bet Paula Deen’s mini cheesecake recipe would be a great option.  You all know that one right?  Quick, easy and already portioned.  I’ll have to keep that in mind . . .

        Plate Empty RW

        There were chocolate chip cookies too.  I forgot to snap a picture but I tried one.  Despite their claim of being “famous chocolate chip cookies” they were meh if you ask me.

        So there you have it.  The potluck dessert table.

        - Joanna

        P.S.   My mom called me out on my lackluster blogging schedule the other day (over the phone of course since she has no clue how to leave comments.)  So, for the official record here are the reasons I’ve been a bad blogger lately:

        1)  I’ve been painting the half finished wall in the Don Draper room (that’s what we call our family/play/TV/bar room.)

        2)  I’ve been stripping painted over wallpaper again.  This is actually going faster than the last time I attempted this.  Possibly due to lack of blogging.

        3)  I bought a carpet cleaner and have been cleaning the carpets (the Mother-in-Law will be happy about this because she noted the state of my carpets last time they visited.  Yeah, they are bad.  I have two kids and two dogs so they are bad.  Less bad now though thanks to my new Hoover baby.)

        4)  I’ve been working on Sweetey Petey’s birthday party.  I am having Chipotle cater it so a lot of the food stress is gone, but I picked a pretty random theme (Giraffe’s Digging) and have not only created my only image for invites, but am also attempting one of those giant plywood cut-outs you stick your face through.  It’ll be of Giraffe’s.  Driving a construction digger.  And it’s gonna be awesome.

        5)  I’m 95% sure that 90% of my readers these days are friends or relatives that I’m friends with on Facebook so they know the haps already.

        I do still have lots to say and a ton of drafts started and some fun house projects to share eventually.  Very soon I’ll be starting a new series called The Patrick Project as well.  I’ll leave you to ponder on what that might be . . .

        Question of the Day:  What do you think The Patrick Project is?? 

          Pretzels in the Pan Crop R

          Until recently I would have advised you NOT to invite me to your potluck.  I stink at bringing food other people like.  Let’s review my past potluck contributions:

          cold quinoa salad with raisins and toasted coconut

          brushetta with goat cheese

          greek yogurt cucumber salad

          marinated feta cheese, olive and cucumber skewers

          I thought they were all perfectly yummy, and best of all healthy . . . but no one else ate them.  Any of them.  It’s not that they weren’t tasty or that I’m a bad cook, they were just out of the norm.

          I was chatting with my friend Amber a few months ago and she noted she has this same problem.  She’s 100% Paleo and super excited for the food she brings to get-togethers.  Her contributions are super healthy, super within her diet and . . . super unpopular.  Or so she tells me – I go NUTS for her food because she’s an awesome cook.  We commiserated and I explained how I was done sharing food I like and was set on sharing food everybody likes.  Let’s face it, more people share the culinary tastes of my Father-in-Law than me.  It’d be a frigid day in H-E-double-hockey-sticks before I could get my Father-in-Law to eat a cold quinoa salad with raisins and toasted coconut and let’s not even discuss the goat cheese.  I shudder to think what he’d say if I served that to him.

          After much debate I’ve recently come up with a solution to my potluck woes.

          I’d like to introduce you to the perfect potluck food . . . dun dun duuuuuuun . . .

          CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZELS!

          Pretzels Crop R

          I have reasons people, oh do I have reasons!

          Pretzel Title RW

          One.  Who doesn’t like pretzels?  Nobody, that’s who.  Pretzels even come in gluten-free versions if that’s an issue.

          Two.  Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Nobody, that’s who.  Chocolate even comes in vegan versions if that’s an issue.

          Three.  They are fast and easy to make.  Melt chocolate.  Dip pretzel.  Top if desired.  Done.

          Four.  They can be made last minute.  Keep a bag of pretzels around the house and some chocolate and you are always ready to go, no special trip to the grocery required.

          Five.  They are completely customizable to any and every occasion.  That’s right.  Every occasion.  Wilton candy melts come in a ridiculous amount of colors to account for every holiday, graduating seniors class colors, birthday theme, season and more!  For formal occasions or to appear fancy, use more expensive chocolate.  Dip your pretzels in a mix of white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate and you’ve got every type of chocolate lover covered.  And toppings!  Yes, let’s discuss toppings.  Crushed peppermint for Christmas.  Toasted pecans for Thanksgiving.  Green sprinkles for St. Patty’s Day.  Yellow sprinkles for summer.  Orange sprinkles for fall.  Red and blue sugar on white chocolate for Fourth of July.  I could go on but there isn’t enough room on the internet  to list all the options.

          Six.  They are portable.  They store well, travel well, there’s no messy sauces to deal with and they are easy to grab a serving off the picnic table.  They won’t go stale, get soft or slimey or squishy and they have a shelf life that makes them just as tasty for a second helping when that fabulous party extends late into the night.  Plus, if by some miracle, there are any left and you take them home there’s no need to be concerned about contracting botulism from them sitting out on a table for hours and hours.

          Seven.  They are pretty.  Yes, pretty.  Presentation is half the battle and the better they look the more likely they’ll end up on that disposable plate instead of that plain old generic brownie default.

          Eight.  If you have kids, they can help! Get them dipping and rolling and you’ve not only got your potluck portion covered, but you’ve gotten your kids in the kitchen, kept them entertained and covered craft time.

          Nine.  They really aren’t that bad for you.  Sure, chocolate covered pretzels aren’t exactly on par with eating a salad, but the pretzels themselves are low in fat and if you use a super dark chocolate they can be low in sugar too.  Topping with crushed peanuts even offers a protein boost.  Take that generic brownie.

          Ten.  I don’t actually have a tenth reason, but nine reasons chocolate covered pretzels are the perfect potluck food sounded less cool than ten so how about you just take my word for it okay?

          Pretzels in the Pan RW

          Stop back in later for a post on how well these pretzels did at our last potluck . . . as well as how well other dishes fared!

          - Joanna

          P.S.  If you are asked to bring a side dish to your next potluck . . . well, ignore the request and go ahead and still bring these mmmm K?  No one will be mad once they eat them.  Besides, pretzels are carby and carbs are side dishes so WIN!

          Question of the Day:  What’s your go-to potluck dish?

            Can anybody tell me why in the world there are blueberries on this bag of sugar?

            Sugar RW

            No?  That’s what I thought.

            This is what I HATE about marketing.

            This is a bag of sugar.  It is NOT I repeat NOT healthy like, say, blueberries.

            Blueberries are good for you.

            Sugar is not.

            There are no blueberries inside this bag of sugar.

            There is no earthly reason to put sugar on fresh blueberries.

            Can it with the crappy marketing, sugar manufacturers, we are wise to your game.

            - Joanna

            Question of the Day:  What marketing ploys drive you nuts?

              Occasionally I come across a cooking tip that’s too awesome not to share.

              Garlic Chicken RW

              Roasting a small bird for dinner?

              Don’t want to pull out the big roasting pan and rack?

              Love roasted garlic?

              Love roasted garlic so much you could eat it by the spoonful?

              Then this tip is for you!

              Instead of propping your bird up on a fancy schmancy rack that you’d just have to wash later anyway, prop your bird up on a few heads of garlic with the tops chopped off.  It’ll get your bird up off the bottom of the pan for more even cooking, provide aromatics to help flavor your bird and BONUS you’ll have heads of roasted garlic for dinner or just for snacking.  It’s genius.  Pure genius.

              For this bird I used four heads of garlic.  I stuffed the cavity with fresh basil from the garden plus a cut orange (I was out of lemons).  I brushed the bird with melted butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Roasted for an hour at 375 degrees, then flipped the bird over and doused with more butter and seasoning.  Baked for another hour.

              So simple and so tasty. From this one quick and easy recipe I got ALL of the following:

              1) A four pound chicken to eat for dinner

              2) The most delicious butter sauce for drizzling or making into gravy

              3) Roasted garlic

              4) A chicken carcass for stock made in the crockpot

              So go forth and roast some chicken and garlic my internet friends, roast away.

              - Joanna

              Question of the Day:  What are your favorite roasted chicken seasonings?

                Remember that one time I talked about iguanas and alluded to a blog post I never shared?  Yes, well in that post I never shared I suggested I might mix things up around here and stop playing it so safe (aka not worry about ticking people off and just say what I want to say.)

                On that note I’d like to get something off my chest.  No, I need to get something off my chest.  Or out of my underwear. That really would make more sense if you’d read the post.  Sigh.  Let’s just move on shall we?

                I can’t believe I’m saying this, but . . .

                THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN JUST CHOCOLATE!

                You heard me.

                THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN JUST CHOCOLATE!

                Say it with me.  Let’s not scream it this time, just say it nice and matter of fact like.

                There is more to life than just chocolate.

                Once more, with expression.

                There is more to life than just chocolate.

                Specifically I’m talking to my husband and his folks.  Calling them out if you will.  Challenging them to broaden their horizons.  Take a risk, take a gamble, step out of their safe little cocoons and experience ALL there is in life to experience.

                Let’s set the scene.

                My in-laws came into town (with a ten foot yellow slide and a hideously framed fish picture but those are different stories entirely) for a visit the other day.  We had dinner one night and plans for ice cream the next.  There were three options for ice cream locations.

                Option A – The local dairy whip.  Yes, a town favorite but pretty basic soft serve and nothing distinguishable from any other dairy whip.  What it has going for it is location, location, location.  It’s five minutes from home and when you have a baby that gets the fuss in the evenings and a two a half year old that gets a case of the crazies in the evenings this really is a strong selling point.

                Option B – Fancy soft serve fro-yo.  Fun flavors and toppings.  The big selling point here (besides the points card which earns me free fro-yo) is all the options.  You can add as many different flavors and toppings to your cup as your hungry heart desires! The possibilities are endless (okay, not really endless but statistically really high)!  Option B is more like ten minutes from home.  Not too shabby.

                Option C – Local, French pot ice cream. It’s pretty much the all time best, stick to the roof of your mouth creamy goodness that is worth every dang pants tightening, cellulose inducing calorie.  Its only drawback . . . it’s more like 15-18 minutes from home.  Not bad, but go too close to bedtime and it’s the longest 15-18 minute car ride ever.  Plus it’s kind of on a busy road and Sweetey Petey is a runner.

                My husband wanted Option A.  The in-laws tend to get Option C on their own when they visit.  So I pushed for Option B – moderately close to home and with loads of options.  The perfect compromise if you ask me.

                Here’s the problem.  Despite the fact that the frozen yogurt came in fun flavors like Orange, Pineapple, Peanut Butter, Brownie Batter, Coconut, Coffee, Cheesecake, Vanilla, Pistachio, Strawberry, Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Blackberry Greek, Salted Caramel and even pre-mixed smoothies . . . my husband and his entire side of the family only got chocolate.  Chocolate.  Just chocolate.  Mike added a few toppings to his chocolate, but his parents?  They were toppingless.  As in without any top.  No sprinkles or nuts or crushed candy or fruit or gummy bears or Swedish fish or marshmallows or coconut or iced graham cracker cookies or brownie bits or nerds or sauces of any kind.

                Just.  Plain.  Chocolate.

                I’ll admit I myself didn’t go hog wild with toppings, but I never do when I’m letting new to me frozen yogurt flavors shine though.

                Yes, you read me right, flavors.  Plural.  With an s people, an s.  That’s the point of these places, to try new flavors!

                In my bowl was a combo of cheesecake, coconut and pistachio.  I sprinkled some rainbow jimmies on top for funsies.  Because these places are supposed to be fun.  My fav?  The pistachio!  Followed closely by the coconut and coming up last, the cheesecake.

                Fro Yo RW

                That’s Sweetey Petey’s cup above mine.  The Husband *gasp* gave him some peanut butter as well.

                There was no plain chocolate in my cup.  Because plain chocolate at a fancy fro-yo place is just so vanilla.  I’ll admit the in-laws aren’t notorious for trying new things (remember the kohlrabi debacle) but if ever there was a chance for them, I’d like to think it starts with fro-yo.

                I know my M-I-L doesn’t read my blog but my F-I-L does and so do some of their friends.  I say we all band together.  We all band together and double dog dare them to get something other than chocolate next time.  And toppings?  At least one??  Maybe even *gasp* a sauce???  Can they do it????  With a little encouragement I do believe there could still be hope for them yet.

                - Joanna

                What’s your favorite frozen yogurt topping?

                  My exciting life.

                  Dad by day.

                  Today’s chosen mode of transportation.

                  2014.08.05 Scooter RW

                  - Joanna

                  What did you do to today?

                   

                    My exciting life.

                    Day by day.

                    August 4th 2014.

                    Thanks to a $50 off sale and some Amazon associate rewards I finally bit the bullet on the Lensbaby Circular Fisheye Lens I’ve been jonesing for.

                    2014.08.04 Lensbaby RW

                    Notice anything wrong with that picture?

                    Here, I’ll help you out.

                    2014.08.04 Lensbaby RW Circle

                    Le sigh.  I ordered a Nikon mount.  Because I have a Nikon camera.  I was sent the Canon.  Now I have to wait till Thursday for the replacement.  If I was a nail biter I’d be down to nubs by Thursday for sure.  But I’m not.  So I’ll just whine about the wait here instead.

                    - Joanna

                    Question of the Day:  What was the last thing you splurged on for yourself?

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