Big Bucks for Beauty

I just left a beauty supply store with my tweenaged daughter and man, I gotta tell ya…I’m furious. Let me preface this by saying, yes, I do allow her to wear make-up. For her, it’s something of a hobby—she really doesn’t go overboard with it. She got gift cards for several “beauty” stores for Christmas because that’s what she asked for. Until recently, I had never set foot in one of these places. I’ve never been into make-up. My daily routine consists of slapping on a coat of foundation, a quick brush of eyeshadow, and some blush. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that some of my make-up is actually from the last decade.

So imagine my surprise when I entered this store, mecca of make-up and all things “beauty”. Wall to wall beauty supplies that I never even dreamed existed. My brain instantly went into sensory overload. Twenty-four different serums to lift eyes and fill wrinkles. Seventy-two different brushes to “contour” your face every morning. “Workout” make-up (what in ever loving hell would we ever need make-up to work out in????) Every conceivable type of hair styling product that you could imagine—ones that smoothed and plumped and straightened and curled. Everything that a girl could possibly want to make herself everything she’s not.  It had me screaming out…why??!?!?!?

Why? It’s 2018, ladies. We’ve made incredible strides as women in the last century. A hundred years ago, we couldn’t even VOTE. A hundred years ago, a woman’s sole purpose was to serve men. A hundred years ago a respectable woman couldn’t even go on a date without a chaperone or make a major purchase without her husband. In those hundred years, we’ve said to hell with those constraints. We’ve had women in positions of power, we’ve had women making groundbreaking medical discoveries, we’ve had women knocking down all the boundaries that were previously imposed on us. We’ve showed the world what we can do. And yet, here we are….still worried about our looks.

Now, I’m the furthest thing from a feminist that you’ll ever meet, but this infuriates me as a woman. Why the hell are we stuck in the last century? Why are we still telling ourselves, telling our daughters, that we’re not good enough unless we LOOK a certain way? Why are we contouring our noses off our face? Why are we making our eyes look like raccoons to seduce the guys in the copy room? Why are we straightening our hair till it actually falls out of our heads? And dear GOD why the hell are we wearing make-up to the gym?

Mind you, I’m also not advocating for poor hygiene. Please wash your hair and comb it. Brush your teeth and make sure your clothes are clean. Look respectable. That goes for women AND men. And I’m also not saying that being glamorous or playing around with make up is necessarily a terrible thing, either. Show your unique style. A little lipstick can cheer you up when you’re having a bad day. Bright nail polish colors are fun. Sometimes face masks make you feel fresher. But for the love of God, don’t think you NEED any of this stuff. The prices alone should deter you from that thinking. $35 for shampoo? $17 for a one time use face mask? $280 for perfume??? Is it made with the tears of our forefathers???

As shocking as some of the items in that store were, you know what I didn’t see there? A man. (The guy holding his wife’s purchases and sighing loudly while looking at his watch every thirty seconds does not count.) Yeah, I’m sure there are men out there that wear make-up and use eye firming serum, but 90% of the male population doesn’t. Most of the male population is cool with the “what you see is what you get” aspect of their appearance. They don’t spackle on a new face every morning or agonize over their appearance like woman do. I’m sure they have internal monologues with themselves about losing weight or finally getting around to plucking their nose hairs, but since there aren’t ENTIRE stores filled with men seeking a magic fix to make themselves look better, one can only assume they really don’t care as much as women do.

And why is this ladies? Why do we care so much? Why does the sight of wrinkles send us running for the make-up counter? Why does a gray hair make us call the hairdresser to schedule an emergency appointment? My hubby wears his wrinkles as a badge of honor—same with the few gray hairs he has. Why is okay for him to look his age and not okay for me? Who planted this narrative in our head? Who’s been telling us youth and external beauty are everything for women? Who’s telling us that our other contributions aren’t important? Who’s telling us we’re still not good enough? Blame men all you want, but it’s not them, that’s for sure. Poll any ten men and you’ll find that most of them can’t stand make-up. They don’t understand why we spend so much money on beauty products or why we “need” them. They’d rather have their wives and girlfriends au naturale. They want us to be real, so why can’t we be real with ourselves? Why all the subterfuge?

There’s a day dedicated to everything on the calendar. National Hot Sauce Day, National Bring Your Pet to Work Day, National Talk Like a Sailor Day, National Cheesecake day (my daughter’s birthday). This year, April 25th is National No Make-up Day. I say we all skip the make-up that day. Let’s show the world who we really are and stop hiding behind the masks we think we need…what do you say ladies?

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This Is the List That Never Ends…

The other night I told my husband I had made a list for him for BJs, our local wholesale store. After some off color jokes (from him, of course), he says to me after dinner, “Well aren’t you going to go with me?” I looked up from scrubbing a pot and replied, “No, I thought you could go in the morning.”

He looked like I had run over his puppy. “Well what else are we gonna do tonight? We might as well go now. ”

What else are we gonna do tonight? What else are gonna do???? Buddy, I’ve got a to do list as long as my arm. I am never lacking something to do. And even when I think I’ve finished everything, even when I check off everything on my list, I can add ten more items without blinking. It’s mathematically impossible for me to ever get everything done. At this rate, I’ll still have a to do list twelve years after I’m dead.

It isn’t because I’m lazy. I rarely sit during the day—I usually don’t sit until nighttime. At least, that’s when I will allow myself to sit because once I sit, it’s hard to get up and get going again. If I am sitting on the couch, it’s never because I’ve run out of things to do. I’m sitting there because I’m beat and I should be doing other things.

Most of the things I “should” be doing are self imposed. I have very few things on my to do list that other people expect of me. In fact, I could probably neglect 80% of the to do list and nobody else would even notice. Or, they would notice, but not right away. I could leave off “go to the gym” and nobody would notice until I gained thirty pounds. I could leave off “write blog” and nobody would notice for several months when there was absolutely nothing else to read. I could leave off “cook dinner” because they would just want to go out to eat anyway. I could NOT leave off “go to the grocery store”, however because my family would notice THAT within minutes. So why do I stress so much about getting it all done if nobody really cares but me? Why do I have heartburn and hair falling out and perpetual anxiety? I need to stop caring about things that aren’t as pressing as I let myself believe.

So that’s why I’ve made a New Year’s resolution today. I make a resolution every year and usually end up breaking it by January 14th, so I’m thinking, if I don’t actually make the resolution until January 14th, I should make it to the end of January, right?  This year, I’ve vowed to not focus on my to do list as much. Ha. Yeah, this is probably the hardest resolution I’ve ever made. Hell, vowing to exercise every day and only eat cottage cheese would probably be an easier resolution to keep. Resolving to learn a foreign language and master the oboe would probably be easier.

I’m wound a bit tight—I really don’t know how to relax and let things go. It’s really hard for me to sit and watch a movie and not feel guilty about what I’m not doing. It’s really hard to relax while reading a book and not notice that the bookshelf needs to be dusted. It’s super hard for me to waste time doing nothing at all. But not anymore. This year is different. I’m gonna let myself relax without feeling guilty. Hell, no one else in this house feels guilty about not getting anything done…why should I be the person giving myself a heart attack over every little thing around here? This is the year that I tell my to do list to suck it. This is the year I go “to do list-less”. No more lists. No more stressing, no more obsessing. It starts today—just as soon as I finish everything on today’s list…

The Bad Mommy Cooks—Tennessee

“Are you from Tennessee? Cuz you’re the only Ten I See.” Cue the cheesy laugh track.

Hubby taught my son this pick up line when he was like 8 or something ridiculous like that. Actually, I don’t know what’s more ridiculous…an 8 year old with a pick up line or a grown man who’s never used one in his life teaching it to him. Anyhoo, we pulled Tennessee out of the hat so I braced myself for the onslaught of Ten I See jokes from the fam. They did not disappoint. Insert eyeroll here. They really need some new material.

They did not disappoint me with their predictability and therefore I didn’t disappoint them with mine. Yup. After a good meal or two from me, old Bad Mommy cook was back. I had a lot of trouble with this one. *Sigh*

I think it’s because I try too hard. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but neither does the fact that a woman who has been cooking for over 20 years can’t seem to get more consistent with her meals. By “trying too hard” I mean that I don’t just take the easy way out and I end up setting myself up for failure almost every time. Case in point…the Tennessee meal.

Tennessee is known for BBQ and of Jack Daniels. (Side note: Jack Daniels is made in Lynchburg. Which I didn’t know. Which is why hubby laughed at me for five minutes straight when I said “Ooooo, now I know why they call it Lynchburg lemonade”.) So what would one do to represent the beautiful state of Tennessee? Combine the two, of course.

Ribs with Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce. Sounds delicious, right? Who can resist ribs? Certainly not my family. And I can’t resist the urge to make this even more difficult on myself. Just ribs isn’t a meal, right? You have to have a side! How about I add the most complicated side that I’ve never made before and will never make again, Onion Rings.

In my defense, when I decided to make the onion rings, I assumed hubby would make the ribs. Ribs are something of a specialty for him. I’ve never made them before this night. How was I to know we would have a Bomb Cyclone snow storm and he would have to go dig his elderly parents out right at dinner time, just when I started making the onion rings, leaving me to make the onion rings AND the ribs??? How was I to know this awesome storm would make it impossible to cook on the grill and I would have to make this in the craptastic oven instead?

(There was no way I was cooking in that wind with temperatures in the teens)

I know what you’re thinking: “How hard can it be? You have a fryer for the onion rings and geez…the ribs cook themselves! You’d have to be an idiot to mess this up! You’ve got this!” Right?

Obviously you don’t know me very well. Or…I’m just an idiot because this meal caused a mental breakdown. By the time hubby came home from shoveling, I was crying and flinging spatulas at the wall (don’t remember what I was using the spatula for, though—that could be part of the problem). And before you ask, no, I hadn’t been sampling the Jack Daniels, although afterward I wanted to pour the whole damn bottle down my gullet.

I started out okay. I prepared a time line in my head. I rub some spices the ribs, soak them in the Jack and apple juice, and pop them in our horrible oven. (I asked for a new oven again yesterday—Scrooge McDuck denied me again.)

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Then I would heat the oil when I was halfway through breading the onion rings. I would make the BBQ sauce after the onion rings were done being breaded. I’d take the ribs out, baste them with the sauce, pop them back in, make the onion rings and everything would be ready at the same time. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? WRONG.

First off, do any of you know how long it actually takes to bread the rings from ONE FRICKING ONION (while trying not to actually touch the onion with your fingers?)??? I think I could have watched the entire Godfather trilogy in the time it took me to do that.

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Meanwhile, I was trying to heat the oil in the fryer, but because of Christmas Eve, we had minimal oil left…like not even enough to get to the minimum line. I was all alone cooking this meal. I couldn’t run out to the store for more oil and chances were, stores would be closed because of the stupid Bomb Cyclone nonsense. The onion prepping literally had me in tears. I’ve heard onions do that, but I seriously hate onions with such a passion that I’ve never really cut them up so I haven’t been privy to this experience before. Why are you making onion rings then, you ask? Good question. It’s for my loving family who truly does not appreciate the culinary sacrifices I make for them.

Meanwhile, I was trying to make the BBQ sauce when I realized that the sauce required 3 tablespoons of bacon grease. Yes, you read that correctly. BACON GREASE. Guess what I needed to do? Yup, make bacon in the middle of this already greasy and messy debacle. And how much bacon does one need to make to yield 3 tablespoons of grease? Is it 1 tablespoon per strip? I had no idea, so I just stuck 4 strips in the microwave to be done with it. I think I got a few tablespoon fulls—I didn’t really measure. Accuracy is only important in baking, right?

So the ribs are now taking twice as long as they should because of the craptastic oven, which was a blessing in disguise because I would have had my nervous breakdown loooong before hubby came home to discover the lack of oil in the fryer, the fact that the ketchup in the BBQ sauce had clumped together because I hadn’t “whisked” hard enough (whatever THAT means)  and oh, the fact that I hadn’t even put the fryer together correctly. He offered to take oven the frying and I believe I accused of him of being a saboteur to all my cooking efforts and cursed him off. This is the part where I also flung spatulas. Sorry honey.

Somehow…and I still don’t know how this happened, the ribs turned out okay. I also heard the onion rings turned out pretty good as well, but since onions are the devil, I don’t know anything about that. And of course hubby had to tell me how I could have made the meal better, which I never appreciate (I’m not looking for constructive criticism here, pal). The bbq sauce was very tasty, and I’d highly recommend it (Get recipe here.) In fact, I’m planning to use it on wings tonight. And if you can’t find any meat to put it on, it works well right off the spoon…not that I did that or anything.

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Snow Days: Then Vs. Now

A few years ago I was stuck home with the kids during a snow day and I wrote a blog entitled Why I Hate Snow Days. It’s been one of my most popular blogs to date, probably because most parents can relate to it on some level. At least, parents that truly understand what a snow day entails. There are some people that actually don’t understand our pain. Yeah, I’m talking to you, whiny babies in Florida. Oh wow! It’s 39 degrees? We won’t see 39 degrees here for the next month! Shut up and go work on your tan! Have another margarita while you look for your “winter” flip flops.

Today we had a blizzard sort of thing that they called a Bomb Cyclone. I still don’t understand what the hell that is since not one weather person actually explained it. They just showed us charts and made circular motions with their hands. (In my next life I’ll be a weather person—not only can you be wrong 100% of the time and still keep your job, nobody understands what you’re saying so you can just improvise as you go.)

Basically, a Bomb Cyclone sounds like a cold blizzard. Whatever. It snowed. There was a lot of wind. It was freezing. They cancelled school.

Once again, stuck home with the kiddies. However, this time was a lot different than the snow days from six and seven years ago. Being snowed in with teens is a lot different than being snowed in with preschool or elementary school aged children. I’ve outlined some of the key differences for all of you who are now suffering with the younger children, to give you hope for the future:

2012: I am woken up at the butt crack of dawn by children begging to go play in the snow.

2018: No one wakes me up at the butt crack of dawn begging to go outside and play in the snow. In fact, they’re still asleep at noon.

2012: I have to go shovel because the kids are too little to shovel.

2018: I have to shovel because the kids are still sleeping at noon and somehow the damn mailman is fighting the gale force winds to deliver our mail and I don’t want him slipping on our front porch and suing us so he doesn’t have to deliver the mail in a Bomb Cyclone ever again.

2012: The kids don’t have snow pants that fit them. The kids don’t have boots that fit them. The kids don’t have gloves that fit them. The kids don’t have hats that the dog hasn’t chewed holes in.

2018: All of the above, except they don’t care because it’s not cool to wear coats and hats and stuff to keep you warm…duh, Mom.

2012: The children go outside. The children want me to go outside. I pretend to be very busy organizing the spice rack. The children come inside after three minutes. The children go outside again. The children come inside after two minutes because their gloves are wet from the last time they went outside. The children go outside. The children come inside after one minute because child #1 filled the back of child #2’s snow suit with snow. Child #2 retaliated by shoving an icicle down child #1’s pants. Both children are crying and frostbitten.

2018: The dog goes outside. The dog wants me to go outside and stands at the door and barks. I give him the finger. The dog sniffs the snow and pees on the deck. The dog barks to come inside. The dog comes inside and won’t let me dry him off. He shakes his body all over the clean floor. The dog wants to go outside. I ignore him. He barks louder. I still ignore him. He does his pee pee dance by the door and cries. I let him outside. He eats a frozen snow turd and barks to come inside. He comes inside and tries to lick my face. The dog barks to go back outside. The dog barks to come inside. The dog comes in and runs away from me, tracking snow, salt and something brown into the house. I find him in the living room rolling his body all over the clean sheets that I’m folding.

2012: I make copious amounts of hot chocolate for the children.

2018: The children make copious amounts of coffee for themselves and discuss staying up all night.

2012: We bake cookies and make a huge mess in the kitchen. We make snacks and make a huge mess in the kitchen. We make dinner and make a huge mess in the kitchen.

2018: The children make themselves popcorn, pasta, pizza, grilled cheese, tacos, and more pasta and make a huge mess in the kitchen for me to clean up.

2012: I can’t watch anything good on TV because stupid children’s programming is playing all day.

2018: I can’t watch anything good because everyone is streaming Netflix and I can’t get on.

2012: I hear the words “I’m bored” two hundred and fifty-seven times.

2018: I hear the words “can you drive me to my friend’s house?” two hundred and fifty-seven times.

2012: I cringe when I hear the phone ring, announcing that school is cancelled tomorrow as well.

2018: I cringe when I get the text announcing that school is cancelled tomorrow as well.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same…I still hate snow days.

The Bad Mommy Cooks—Christmas Eve Edition

Merry Christmas, everyone! Okay, maybe Christmas was way more than a few days ago, but it’s taking me a little time to crawl out from the holiday rubble our house is buried in to post this blog. Hubby and I have been making Christmas Eve dinner for the family for about twelve years now (we’ve had a few years when he’s been working that we’ve had to skip, though). When I was growing up, my grandparents did Christmas Eve and it’s always been a fond memory of mine. My grandparents were Italian, so they would have the Feast of the Seven fishes. On Christmas Eve, no meat is consumed…only seafood. It is supposed to be comprised of seven different fishes/seafood, but over the years (after much obsessing over this fact), hubby and I have adapted it to serving whatever we feel like—we try to stick to seafood, though. In the past, we have made wayyyy too much food and end up throwing a ton out (that is, whatever my mother doesn’t scrape into her pocketbook to feed her dogs with later on). Plus, my father in law isn’t a fan of the seafood feast, so we usually have some sort of meat, too. (I don’t eat the meat because it was drilled in my head that eating meat on Christmas Eve is bad luck…or some other nonsense like that.) Okay, so our feast isn’t completely traditional, but we try, okay?

Believe it or not, it’s the only day of the year that hubby and I co-exist in the kitchen without wanting to stab each other. It’s kind of…nice actually. That’s not to say things don’t get tense and we don’t yell and flip each other the middle finger on occasion. An emergency usually arises, resulting in me stomping off to the grocery store to retrieve some item that was inadvertently off the grocery list (usually by me). Hubby takes his cooking Christmas Eve a hell of a lot more seriously than I do, believe it or not. He makes it difficult on himself because he wants to try new recipes and he refuses to use ingredients like imitation lobster or crab. If I even suggest it, he gets very stressed about it. And to add to his stress, he’s been playing Santa Claus to the little kids after the meal and he gets neurotic about that as well. It’s a refreshing change to our usual roles.

This year my in-laws were visiting hubby’s sister in Florida and my brother’s family was also not coming—I told hubs we needed to scale back. He looked at me like I had slapped him clear across his Santa Claus cheeks. I held my ground and insisted. I even surveyed the family to find out what dishes were their favorite—unfortunately their responses varied so much we ended up making a lot of what we usually do—we only cut out two or three dishes.

However, everyone was a big fan of hubby’s Crab Corn Chowder (I may have mentioned it in my Massachusetts blog ) so we needed to make that. There are a ton of ingredients that go into this, and it’s very labor intensive, so instead of pulling his hair out Christmas Eve, he made it the night before:

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Yes, that’s Scotch in his hand. He’s like ninety-seven years old sometimes. Here’s the result (*You can click below the pictures for the recipes!):

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Crab Corn Chowder

So yummy—and great on a freezing cold day. We’ve eaten it every day this week since the weather’s been so appropriate. It’s also good with cornbread.

The night before he also made his crab cakes: IMG_5358

He just got this recipe from a cooking class he went to. I wanted him to make crab/shrimp sliders with pimento cheese, but he thought these would be easier. They were okay, but I do love shrimp sliders.

I made “Stromboli” of course and hands had to be slapped away—my nephews were grabbing it before it was done. This photo was taken literally thirty seconds after I put it on the table:

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I just realize that we always have Stromboli and antipasto on Christmas Eve, despite that pepperoni is a meat…I wonder why that’s okay? Anyone out there know the answer? Or was this some tradition that my grandparents adapted without regard to the meat situation?

In addition, hubs insisted on lobster mac and cheese (yup, with real lobster) and twenty-two different cheeses (okay, slight exaggeration…):

 

And ginormous bang bang shrimp:

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*Bang Bang Shrimp

Bacon wrapped scallops are a crowd favorite:

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I also made calamari which is a bitch to bread. It took me about an hour to bread one pound. You’ve got to get the breading on the inside of the ring to make sure it doesn’t fall apart. My efforts were not wasted:

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For dessert, I made my great-grandmother’s honey balls (struffoli for you hard core Italians out there). No one really eats more than one ore two of them, but the nostalgia is necessary. Especially since I refuse to make any kind of holiday cookie anymore until hubby lets me buy a new oven:

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*Struffoli

And my fridge is once again bursting with leftovers. Oh well, maybe next year we actually will scale back and order pizza or something. (Nah…hubby would cry and nobody likes a sad Santa.)

 

The Bad Mommy Cooks—Christmas Eve Recipes

The title of this blog entry is kind of a misnomer—it should be The Bad Daddy Cooks—Christmas Eve Recipes. I didn’t cook any of these except the struffoli. (Really, who wants me messing up a holiday meal?) 🤷🏻‍♀️ I’ve included all the recipes, except for the easy, self-explanatory dishes like bacon wrapped scallops and fried calamari.

Here’s all you need for your own kick ass Christmas Eve meal.

Crab Corn Chowder:

(He adapted this one from several different recipes)

8 oz of lump crab meat

2 slices of bacon

2 jalapenos (no seeds or ribs), minced

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, grated

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

16 oz of frozen corn kernels

1 cup half and half (divided)

1 or 2 red-skinned potaotes

2 cups of chicken broth

2 TBSP of flour

1 cup of whole milk

Directions:

Set a large pot (like a spaghetti pot) over medium heat. Add bacon and cook till crisp. Transfer to a paper towel when cooked.

Add jalapeno, onion, garlic, carrot, celery salt, pepper, and sugar to the bacon fat. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies have softened. Add corn and cook for a few more minutes. Take about 3/4 cup of corn mixture and add to 3/4 cup of half and half in the blender—blend and set aside. Add potatoes to the pot. Cook for a few minutes and then add chicken broth. Boil until potatoes are tender. Whisk the 1/4 cup of half and half and flour together. Add to pot and stir constantly until chowder thickens. Pour pureed mix in pot. Add milk, crab meat and bacon. Cook another few minutes until heated.

Lobster Mac & Cheese:

(He got this from one of the many cooking classes he’s taken. 🙄)

1 box of elbow pasta (we used the large elbows)

4 cups whole milk

8 TBSP of unsalted butter

1/2 cup of onion, chopped (WHAT?!?!?! I don’t like onion! He tricked me!)

4 cups of Gruyere cheese, grated

2 cups of sharp cheddar, grated

4 oz of Velveta, cubed

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp of dry mustard

1 lb of cooked lobster meat, cut up in bite sized pieces

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs

3 TBSP of butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. (Side note: I told hubby to preheat to 400 because our oven SUCKS, but he didn’t listen, so that resulted in the meal taking about a half hour longer to cook. 😒)The instructions also said to grease the baking dish with butter, which we forgot to do and it turned out fine and with less butter. We could all use less butter, right?)

Cook pasta al-dente and set aside. Heat milk in sauce pan, but do not boil. in a separate pot, melt 8 TBSP of butter. Add onions and cook till softened. Add flour and whisk without browning butter. Add milk and whisk. Cook till thickened. Off heat, add cheeses and whisk until melted. Add salt, pepper and dry mustard. Add pasta and lobster and stir to combine. Pour into dish.

Make the crumb topping by melting 3 TBSP of butter and combine with bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese. Bake for an hour or until sauce is bubbly and crumb topping is browning.

Bang Bang Shrimp:

(The original recipe was for chicken—we’ve only used shrimp.)

1 cup of buttermilk

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornstarch (here’s where I “messed” up—we had 1/2 cup…somebody didn’t bother to tell me that we were doubling this recipe. 🤔)

1 egg

1 TBSP of hot sauce

1 lb of shrimp (we used “large”…they were ginormous.)

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup Panko bread crumbs (we should own stock in Panko bread crumbs)

1/4 cup mayo

2 TBSP sweet chili sauce

1 TBSP honey

2 tsp of hot sauce

Directions:

Make the sauce by whisking the mayo, chili sauce, honey and hot sauce together. (This keeps well in the fridge for days.) Meanwhile, heat fryer (if you use the air fryer, I’m sure it’s healthier—we used the deep fryer.)

Whisk buttermilk, flour, cornstarch, egg, hot sauce and salt and pepper in a bowl. Dip the shrimp one at a time in this mixture and then dredge in bread crumbs. (This is VERY messy and time consuming—allow yourself at least one hour for this task—no, I’m not kidding. 😬) Fry it up and serve it hot.

Crab Cakes:

(Also adapted from a cooking class recipe—I only see these cooking class recipes once or twice a year. Good thing he got an apron from the teacher for the student who takes the most classes…insert eyeroll here.)🙄

1 cup mayo

2 eggs, beaten

2 TBSP Dijon mustard

2 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

3 TBSP parsley, finely chopped

40 Ritz crackers, crushed (I also hate Ritz crackers so I didn’t eat this one…I heard it was good, though)

2 lbs of lump crab meat

Directions:

Whisk mayo, egg, mustard, lemon juice, red pepper, and parsley. In another bowl, toss crabmeat with crackers. Fold into mayo mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Scoop crab mixture into 1/4 cup mounds and pat into patties. Fry in deep fryer, air fryer, skillet—whatever you have.

Struffoli:

(I found a recipe on Pinterest, but I’ve scaled it back considerably because the original recipe made a billion honey balls and took me 7 hours to make. This now makes about one plate full and takes around two hours—less if you have a fryer.)

2 cups flour

3 Tbs butter

1/8 cup sugar

3/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup honey

1 container multi-colored non-pareil

Mix the butter and flour together with your hands in a bowl until butter is in small bits. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt, strring to incorporate. Add eggs and vanilla, and stir until a dough forms. Knead a few times, then leave in bowl to rest for 1/2 hour in fridge. Roll out dough in ropes—cut into 1/4 inch pieces and roll the pieces into balls. Fry up in small batches (they will expand as they cook). Heat up honey in a saucepan and then toss cooked balls in the honey. Stack into a pyramid shape, add remaining honey to the top, and sprinkle with non-pareils.

12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas—#12

It’s December 26th. You did it! You made it through the Christmas season! 

Or did you? Technically, Christmas is over. Yet, there’s still a chance for you to go crazy.  I promised you 12 Ways to Lose Your Mind This Christmas and I’ve only given you 11 so far. Even if you held it together for the entire Christmas season…even if you shopped and wrapped and baked and falalalah’d with the best of them…#12 just might get you.

#12. The Aftermath.

Yes, that’s right. Even when Christmas is over…especially when Christmas is over…you just may end up losing your mind.

December 26th and you’re left with the remains of your busy holiday season—the empty boxes, the torn wrapping paper shrewd all over the house, the sticky floors, the broken candy canes, the dishes, the leftover fruitcake (Someone took a bite? Now you can’t regift it!) . You’re exhausted from the previous 24 days activities, but wait…it’s not over yet!

Not only does your house look like a gift wrap store threw up, you’ve now got to fold up all the boxes and get them into the trash inconspicuously, so the neighborhood robbers don’t realize you just purchased a scooter, 2 iPads and 4 tvs. Half the toys you bought require batteries…which you forgot to buy. Kids are now in tears because they can’t play with that one battery operated toy they must play with today. Not to mention your husband bought you the wrong size jeans, Junior broke a toy already, and your Aunt Edna seems to think you would look fabulous in a hot pink, sequined flamingo sweatshirt. Your daughter’s Lego house is missing pieces, she got two of the same game, and your hubby’s camera needs a memory card. The dog chewed your new phone charger and ate the stuffing from the new comforter. There are gift cards burning a hole in your kids’ pockets, gifts to exchange, and toyboxes and shelves (to store all that new crap) to purchase. You’re gonna have to sit in traffic again today to go back to the store with the millions of other suckers.

There’s a dead tree to drag out to the curb (remember how fun that was getting into the house???), ornaments to re-box (would it be bad to just line a Rubbermaid with tissue paper and stick them all in there?), and outdoor lights to take down (and it’s colder now than it was a month ago). Did I mention that the kids are off for the next week and a half and you have to find some way to entertain them? That means trips to the movies and skanky bounce places. Plus you made dentist appointments and haircut appointments for them back in October, but now you don’t even want to get dressed to leave the house—three weeks of terrible eating has begun to sap you of all of your energy and you feel like crap. You try to reason with the kids to get them to throw out toys they don’t play with anymore and there are more tears and time outs. The bills have suddenly arrived, demanding to be paid as well. You can’t believe you spent that much (maybe your credit card was stolen???). Didn’t you swear you were scaling back this year???

Speaking of scale, don’t even get me started on the extra 10 pounds you’ve put on during the season of eating (and drinking). The reality of your overindulgence is evident as you struggle to put on your jeans today (hmmmm…maybe hubby didn’t buy the wrong size after all), sucking in your gut and lying on the bed to get it done. The scale is screaming at you to put down that sugar cookie and jump on the treadmill, but you’re too damn tired to even fathom it. Plus, you still have so much left to do! All you want to do is crawl under your new fluffy blanket and sleep till January.  And you can…after you go to the toy store and wash the dishes and go grocery shopping (you haven’t bought food for “Real” meals in 2 weeks) and throw all the garbage out and eat all the leftovers and shove all the toys in your kid’s closet (because the shelves you bought were crap and fell apart already and they refused to throw things out and you’ll have to wait till they’re asleep to do it). Pour yourself a glass of whatever wine is left and curl up on the sofa to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Time Square. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!