Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meanwhile on the job front...

Life around these parts have not been fun lately. Way too many deaths and drama and heart ache. My eyes are still raw from the crying...

However, yesterday felt like a sucker punch to the gut. After only 11 weeks teaching in a dream classroom, things are going to change. A new student is enrolling and I cannot teach him at this time in life. So on Monday, I will switch classes with another pre-k teacher. She will teach my class of two students and I will take her very busy class of 14 four year olds! In the end, I know I'll love teaching this class. However, right now I'm sad to leave the class I've fallen in love with...

There are two songs that continue to echo through my heart right now. One we stumbled upon when flipping through radio stations last night...

Born To Climb
Right now you feel like you'd rather be anywhere else
Than here where you are
Cause life has a way of arranging your plans
And the journey you're on is so hard

Oh the mountain is high
And the road up the side is much steeper than you thought it'd be
You're out of breath and scared half to death
You won't have the faith to believe
But grace, sweet grace has strengthened you time after time
So don't be afraid of the mountain
Cause friend, you were born to climb

God has not given a spirit of fear
Or a burden that you cannot bear
And just at the moment you feel hope is fading
Behold the Lord standing right there

You have been called to be more
Than you were before
Just set your sights
On Heavenly heights
And trust in the Lord

The other song that echos through my heart is a new release from Amy Grant...
Better Than a Hallelujah
God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves a drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I need gift ideas!!!!

I know... It's not even Halloween yet... It's too early to think about Christmas... Normally I'd agree with you... I'm a huge fan of Thanksgiving and usually want to fully celebrate that holiday before Christmas sneaks around... HOWEVER...

We fly out for my brother's wedding a week before Christmas, thus cutting my shopping time by a week.
We have a thousand things to do for the wedding and we really want to get Christmas shopping out of the way.
We have no money because we're spending it all on travel for the wedding.

So... I need help! What should I get for the following people? Please feel free to offer any and all suggestions! (Especially if you ARE one of the following people.)

Mother and Father-in-law
16 year old nephew (I also need a birthday present for him.)
13 year old niece
11 year old niece (I also need a birthday present for her.)
10 year old nephew
7 year old niece
7 year old nephew
5 year old nephew (I also need a birthday present for him.)
My grandmother (Who loves the hubsters way more than she loves me.)

I also need a whole host of stocking stuffer ideas! Please throw any and all ideas out there - even the ridiculous!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Chicken in Cream Sauce

Dinner tonight was AMAZING! I just knew I had to share... It was super easy to make, but seemed like a super fancy meal.

Here's the original recipe:
2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
1 can (14 oz) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
6 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
2T Parmesan cheese
4 small boneless chicken breast halves (1 lb)
2t oil
1/3 cup Philadelphia chive and onion 1/3 less fat than cream cheese
3/4 lb asparagus spears, trimmed, steamed

Cook rice as directed on package, using 1-1/4 cups of the broth and 1/2 cup water.
Meanwhile, mix cracker crumbs and Parmesan on plate. Rinse chicken with cold water; gently shake off excess. Dip chicken in crumb mixture, turning to evenly coat both sides of each breast. Discard any remaining crumb mixture.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5-6 min on each side or until done. Transfer to plate; cover to keep warm. Add remaining broth and reduced-fat cream cheese to skillet; bring just to boil, stirring constantly. Cook 3 min or until thickened, stirring frequently; spoon over chicken. Serve with rice and asparagus.

The problems:
1. We don't like asparagus.
2. I wasn't crazy about the idea of chive and onion cream cheese.
3. 2 cups of rice is an entire box and there's only two of us.
4. I didn't have 4 small chicken breast. I had 2 giant, mammoth chicken breast.
5. Six Ritz crackers was not very much breading. We like more breading.
6. I've never rinsed chicken in water and it seemed like extra work because I was going to have to clean my sink so I just didn't rinse it. Then the breading didn't stick and it burned onto the bottom of the skillet. While this created some tasty crunchies to top the chicken, it wasn't what we wanted. (We also ended up using a ton of olive oil!!)
7. We didn't have enough room in the skillet for all the chicken so we had to cook it in two batches. This created lots more burning on the bottom of the skillet.
8. The recipe only calls for a little bit of cream cheese. We ate every bit of cream and licked the skillet clean. We still have chicken and rice left over.

The solutions:
1. We didn't make asparagus.
2. We used regular 1/3 fat cream cheese.
3. We used the same amount of liquid and half the amount of rice. It was perfect!!
4. I knew the chicken wouldn't cook evenly if I left them 18 inches thick, so I tried cutting them into strips. This didn't work so well. Next time I'll cut it into bites or pound some chicken breasts thinner.
5. We used 15 Ritz crackers and 5T of Parmesan cheese. I threw very little crumb mixture away.
6. We must investigate this breading thing. Maybe some milk? Or I should follow the recipe and rinse them in water? I found a website that said to dry the chicken, dip it in flour, then egg, then your breading. That seems like a lot of extra dishes and calories and work and all of that. It also said the breaded chicken should rest for 5 min before cooking.
7. Don't really have a solution for this one.
8. I guess I'll have to make more cream sauce! That's ok! It was easy, fantastic, and all over yummy! I just might make it on a regular basis to put on random chicken and such... Or to drink with my meal. :)

The new recipe:

2 cups instant brown rice
1 can chicken broth, divided
15 Ritz crackers
5T Parmesan cheese
About a pound of chicken, cut into bite size pieces or pounded into submission
Oil for cooking (way more than 2t)
1/3 cup cream cheese

Mix cracker crumbs and Parmesan. Dip chicken in milk or egg, dip in breading. Let sit for 5 min.
Cook rice using 1-1/4 cup of broth and 1/2 cup water.
Cook in skillet, trying not to knock off too much breading.
Make the most amazing sauce on the planet and try not to eat it while it's still boiling in the skillet. Lick splatters off of stove.
Serve chicken with cream sauce over a beautiful bed of rice.
Be thankful that you're eating at home and not in public. Moan loudly. Continue eating. Moan some more. Steal the chicken from your spouse's plate. Lick your plate clean.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fiona - a love story

Once upon a time, a poor college student had a car that was lovingly given to her by her grandmother. One day, that car died in the middle of the road. The girl got it running again and the engine raced and shot the car into an intersection. This was not the first time it had happened and so the girl was fed up (and a little terrified). She called her parents to inform them that she was going car shopping!

She shopped for cars at several places, but when she saw Fiona - she knew it was a match made in heaven. The little 2002 Ford Escort was practically perfect in every way and the girl fell in love. She wheeled and dealed her way through the sale and drove away with an amazing bargain (and her first tank of gas)! The girl and the car loved each other dearly and had many great adventures. But sadly, all love stories must come to an end...

On Monday, September 27, 2010 the girl was celebrating her first pay check at her new teaching job with a quick lunch at Subway. When she left the parking lot, she wasn't paying attention and smacked little Fiona into a very large pole. Fiona's bumper crumbled and both Fiona and the girl had to cry a little bit. This was the beginning of the end.

The rest of the week, the girl kept noticing that Fiona was having more and more trouble starting up. She shivered and shook all over and she threw a full-blown temper-tantrum when she had to stop at a light. Fiona knew what was coming and was trying to tell the girl good-bye. The girl knew something was wrong and spoke loving words of encouragement but thought it was nothing more than needing an oil change.

On Friday, October 1, 2010 the girl and her family climbed in to begin the two hour drive to see the girl's parents. Fiona kicked and screamed that she did not want to make this trip, but the girl and her husband didn't hear her. They gave her a little more oil, a tender pat on the hood, and urged her down the road. On the trip, they discussed how they were going to afford the repair to the bumper, the four new tires, the oil change, and the new ABS system that needed to be installed. They knew Fiona was in the fight of her life and they were determined to fight by her side.

Two blocks from her parent's house, the girl watched Fiona breathe her last. In the middle of a busy road, Fiona gave up her fight and died. Many strangers stopped to help the stranded family, but Fiona had given the girl her everything and was gone. The next day, a tow truck took her to her final resting place while the girl cried. She was thankful that she had hit the pole because she knew she had at least a little cash coming from the insurance, but she was very sad that Fiona was no more.

Now the girl and her husband only have one car. They are thankful that the girl is only working part time and can drop the husband off at work each morning long before her day must begin. They are thankful that cooler weather has finally crept to Texas because the one car has no a/c. They are thankful that Fiona did not have new tires, a new ABS, or a new bumper when she died. They are so very thankful that the girl's parents were close by when Fiona took her last breath and were able to come to the rescue. And, they are a little bit thankful that they get to go car shopping on Saturday! :)