Monday, November 29, 2010

My favorite leftovers recipe

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

We had a full weekend - loaded with lots of family time, good food, resting, and Christmas decorating!

I was just getting used to the whole lay-on-the-coach-and-do-nothing routine when Mr. San Antonio decided we should go for a run last night. It was really fun. Especially the whole burning lungs, wobbly legs, i-think-i-might-die feeling.

When we got home I made my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe for dinner, and then some Gingerbread because I had the ingredients and it just felt like the right thing to do.

Over the weekend we contemplated a lot of deep things such as:
1. How to decorate the mantle for Christmas;
2. How to stay warm when our home is below 60 degrees and drafty and someone back in time thought it was a good idea to cement in the fireplace;
3. How to sneak the last bite of pumpkin chiffon pie without the other one knowing;
4. And how is it that "The Christmas Shoes" song is so popular?

To keep you in the loop - I've gracefully declined the invitation to go hunting. Instead I have a whole list of girly plans lined up for that weekend. Including but not limited to: painting my nails; drinking tea with my mom and sister; accomplishing a couple of sewing projects; and eating dark chocolate.

And I'll leave you today with my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe (it's my favorite because it uses up leftovers, but has such a different flavor combination that it doesn't feel like leftovers)... so here you go:

Pumpkin Enchiladas!
Ingredients:
1 - 15oz can of pumpkin (or if you're like me, the 3/4 of a can that was sitting in the fridge - in which case decrease appropriately the amount of everything else)
1 jalapeno (I take out the seeds first because I'm a wimp)
4 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 cups of water
salt and pepper and chili powder (to taste - or if you're like me and don't have chili powder use cayenne or red pepper flakes... just something to give it a kick)

6 scallions (sliced up - I used the white and the green parts)
Leftover turkey, shredded (or chicken, or if you are a vegetarian, you could probably do zucchini and other squash like veggies)
Tortillas (corn or flour is fine - you'll probably need 6-8 depending on the size of your pan)
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded (I used yellow, but white cheddar would be good too)

Directions:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the pumpkin, jalapeno, garlic, 2 cups of water and spices in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more water until you get the consistency you want.
- Pour enough sauce into a baking dish to cover the bottom (this recipe can handle a 9x13 but I usually use something smaller since there are only two of us)
-.Then, if you're a cheater like me, just lay some tortillas down on top of the sauce until the whole bottom is covered.
- Next distribute the turkey on top of the tortillas - be generous!
- Sprinkle the scallions over the turkey.
- Place another layer of tortillas across the whole dish.
- (Alternatively - you can roll each tortilla with the turkey and scallion mixture and place seam side down along the pan; but honestly they taste the same if you cheat).
- Pour the rest of the sauce over everything making sure it is completely covered (pour on more than you think because the tortillas will absorb some of it and you don't want them to dry out).
- Then sprinkle the cheese on top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese and sauce are bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Let me know how it turns out! And enjoy the beginning of this new week!
-The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To go, or not to go

Mr. San Antonio's annual hunting trip is fast approaching. And in an effort to be all-inclusive, he has sweetly extended an invitation for me to join him along with his dad, uncles, and male cousins. It makes my heart melt just thinking about it.

This is going to be a very difficult decision for me. After all, I did purchase his newest hunting rifle as his law school graduation gift last spring - and I have yet to use it myself!


Maybe you can help me decide whether or not to attend the outing... we'll make a PRO and CON list together. Ok?

Let's start with the PROs:
1. I won't have to worry about greasy hair - because there is no shower and therefore no way to clean it anyway.
2. I can get my exercise by walking to the outdoor toilet any time nature calls.
3. I'll get to wear every single article of warm/outdoor clothing I own (including the fabulous new tights I just bought!) in order to combat the 11 degree morning temperatures.
4. I will have the opportunity to sit in a deer blind with spiders and owl droppings - which, is truly one of the greatest joys in life.
5. If I get tired of greasy hair, I can work on my shoulder muscles by cracking the ice over the cattle trough, building a fire by rubbing sticks together, and creating my own hot tub.
6. When I'm exhausted at the end of the day, I can curl up on my own bench in the kitchenette portion of the trailer.
7. And all weekend I'll be able to look out on this and wonder when a giant javelina (otherwise known as a disgusting hog-like animal) will come out of the bushes and attack me (oh wait... this is a PRO list):


The PRO list is going to be pretty hard to beat... but I'll give the CON list my best effort:
1. There is no sleeping in on the hunting trip.... and it is common knowledge I'm not a cheerful morning person.
2. Greasy hair gives me goosebumps.
3. If I wear every piece of clothing I own all at once, I'll look like the little brother on "A Christmas Story"
4. I think my blubbering over the spiders and owl droppings will scare the deer away.
5. A cattle trough does not make a legitimate hot tub.
6. I have a prejudice against benches... they're inherently inferior to my bed.
7. Javelina.

And there you have it.... that's the list. I still have a couple weeks to make a decision - so I'll keep you posted on the final result.

But, I'm sure you won't be surprised.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Traditions

Even though the Paris bird family experienced Thanksgiving in August this year (and shared their leftovers with me), we've decided to go ahead and celebrate again.

It's going to be a little different this year. Growing up in California, we were close (relative to Texas) to all the extended family on both sides. No holiday came and went without 20+ people elbowing each other for the last piece of pie, or talking louder and louder as the night went on so as to be heard over the laughter and story telling. There were always cousins, and neighbors, and friends of friends who didn't have family in town.

And through the opening of our doors to strangers - we created a whole new family.

This year it's going to be a little different. For Thanksgiving day we are choosing to spend it with my (genetic) family. But there will only be five or six of us. My folks, one of my brothers, us, and hopefully one of our friends.

To avoid the inevitable tears that come to my mother and me when traditions are changed or unexpected - we decided to do things a little different. We made a rule that we are not allowed to make any recipes that we have previously served on Thanksgiving. Instead, we scoured the Internet and our favorite cookbooks to come up with unique versions of traditional dishes. This way no one (meaning my mom or me) will be blubbering as we scoop potatoes and saying: "This *sob* is *hiccup* my sister's favorite *sniffle* Thanksgiving dish!"

I believe both my dad and I have been asked to make a pie (though it must be unconventional in our Thanksgiving terms).

And there will be brussel sprouts. Because brussel sprouts make the world a happier place. In fact, many of you have asked me to post more recipes on this site (like I used to)... so here is the brussel sprout recipe I will be making for Thanksgiving. Feel free to incorporate it into your menu - and start your own new traditions! Happy Thanksgiving!

Brussel Sprout (and lots of other great things) Salad!
Ingredients:
- One bag of Brussel Sprouts (or if your store sells them still on the stem - use one whole stem); cut bottoms off and pull off outer leaves (or folds, or whatever those are called); then cut in half lengthwise.
- One Granny Smith Apple (peeled, cored, and chopped - I like to leave the pieces pretty big so they stay crisp)
- 1/2 Onion (I use sweet yellow) (chop to whatever size you like, I usually chop it up pretty small)
- One Sweet Potato (peel, and chop into 1/2 in squares)
- 4 slices of Peppered Bacon
- 4 oz Feta Cheese
- up to 2 TB Olive Oil (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste (but I don't usually add much because the peppered bacon adds plenty!)

Directions:
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet. When done to how you like it (I like mine super duper crispy) remove the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate - but LEAVE the grease.
- Depending on how much grease has been left (you need about 2 TB), either add in olive oil, or don't.
- Turn the heat to medium/high and add in the onion and the sweet potato and saute for 10-15 minutes or until the sweet potato is just a few minutes away from being cooked all the way through (you have to eye ball it - or stab it with a fork - and I'm known for walking away from the stove to get away from it's fire breath and forgetting how long I've left it unattended).
- When the sweet potatoes feel almost ready to eat; then toss in the brussel sprouts and move everything around so they can get to the bottom of the pan and get a little brown and cook fast without getting mushy (you do not want to overcook the brussel sprouts or they will be bitter and will not make you happy).
- After about a minute, toss the apple pieces in and let those heat up (but not get mushy - again mushy apples will not make you happy) for a minute or two.
- Once everything looks bright and cheerful, turn off the heat, sprinkle the bacon on top along with the feta cheese.

ENJOY!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

She picked me?

I am constantly amazed at the unconventional and/or unappealing things (and people) that God uses to bring me closer to Himself.

There is a student at our school who is very unconventional. At first, if I'm going to be totally honest (which you knew was coming), this student rubbed (and sometimes still rubs) me the wrong way.

Not so much because she runs across the room every time she sees me in order to give me a hug and tell me she loves me.

Not so much because every time she hugs me it's while telling me her stomach is upset and she feels really sick and will I please feel her forehead and make sure she's not ill.

And not so much because every time I see her we have the exact same conversation - maybe four times in one day.

(Here's the honest part....) She rubbed me the wrong way, because all my co-workers snickered, and teased me for being this student's chosen "mother-figure" while at school. And it embarrassed me. And made me feel uncomfortable. And as a result I would get irritated (ugh... not that again), and short on patience. How many times do I have to tell this student she is not sick and that she's going to get along just fine today?

But slowly, day by day, hug by hug, God has been softening my heart. Growing in me an appreciation for this girl's wide open vulnerability and lack of inhibition for showing her feelings and letting people know she appreciates them. I've also been reminded that what we do for "the least of these" we're really doing for God himself (Matthew 25:45).

And somehow I've had this humble thought that grasping your stomach and scrunching your face (like you think you might lose your insides on the person you're hugging) is painfully similar to some of the social awkward moments I've pulled in my day.

There are still times when I see this student and have to fight the urge to turn around and pretend I didn't see her. But then I remember that God doesn't make mistakes. She is the way she is for a reason. We're at the same place each day for a reason. And there is a reason she has picked me to be the receiver of her love and attention.

Now... if I can just get Miss Middleton to pick me to receive her friendship and place of matron of honor - everything else in life is bound to fall right into place.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Advice for Miss Middleton

The big news of the week is not that I elbowed Mr. San Antonio in the head when he woke me up with his snoring. Nor is it that the blemish that was beginning to form on my chin has decided to retreat for the time being. And no, the big news is not that the sink is officially full of dishes to the point that not one more dish will fit.

The big news of the week is that Prince William is engaged to Miss Middleton! And if this isn't an "Oh Girl!" moment, then I don't know what is.

P.S. Mr. San Antonio always says "Oh Girl!" in response to my excitement about things like shoe sales, fresh paint on my toe nails, or blemishes disappearing.

I realize that the Prince and his soon to be Princess probably have a lot of people giving them advice about the important things in life - such as how to properly bow to the Queen, or which fork to use first at a royal dinner, or whether you can wear navy blue and black in the same outfit. But, they probably aren't being given advice about the every day aspects of marriage. And this is where I've decided my niche in the world comes into play.

Miss Middleton, my first tip goes to you. If Prince William reaches for your water glass - snatch it away quickly, because if you do not, then he will consume all the water that is left and then you will have to karate chop him.

My second tip is to invest in a strong, reliable mouth wash. That way you can triple the amount of garlic a recipe calls for and the Prince won't regret it later.

My third and fourth tips are for the Prince. Please make sure you don't steal all the sheets in the middle of the night, because otherwise you might have a grumpy wife in the morning.

And if you tell Miss Middleton every day that she is beautiful - it will work magic, and I promise she won't get tired of it.

My fifth and final piece of advice for the engaged couple - is please for the love of sanity - please get air conditioning, and please make sure to slay the fire breathing dragon before entering your castle.

All the best to the new love birds,
The Pampered Bird

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Birthdays Galore!

Today is a special day.

No, I did not scrub my floorboards. No, I did not squish a spider without screaming. And no, I did not change my own oil.

Today is a special day because my Grandpa (on my dad's side) turns 79! Here he is with my Grandma at my sister's graduation this past June:


And - because in our family we never do things on a small scale - today is also my Grandma's (on my mom's side) 90th birthday! Here she is with my Grandpa and my sister and me this summer:


And so as not to leave anyone out... it's also my Uncle Darrell's birthday! WooHoo for birthdays!

Thank you for being important people in my life and helping to make me the woman I am today. I love you all!

And P.S. (can you do a "P.S." if you haven't technically signed your name... or if it's not technically a letter at all? These are the questions that keep me up at night... but nevertheless) - P.S. Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country and to all the men and women currently serving! We are all blessed because of your sacrifice!

With love and appreciation,
The Pampered Bird

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is how we celebrate...

I'm sure many of you have heard the good news... that my beloved Mr. San Antonio passed his bar exam and is officially an attorney! Please begin sending me your best lawyer jokes now.

The morning after we received his results, his boss arranged for him to be sworn in by a local judge. It was a very meaningful experience for us, and was made all the more special by the whoops and hollers and clapping that erupted from all the lawyers (who we did not know) sitting in the court room waiting for their cases to be heard by the judge.


The whole weekend was full of celebrating! And an incredible feeling of "IT'S DONE! IT'S REALLY OVER!" What a relief!

Then I decided to celebrate on my own by coming down with a stomach bug. Nothing says "Congratulations my love," like Pepto Bismol breath.

And to top off the week - last night our neighbors went and got themselves into a domestic dispute - and we decided to get involved. If you see us on the news as key witnesses - don't be surprised. And if one of them decides to come back and ask for a lawyer... I've got a great recommendation!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

(Irritability)

I've been doing a study called "Respectable Sins" with some (wonderful!) woman from church. The book talks about some of the things we often overlook, excuse, or rationalize away but that are in reality hurting us and creating a separation between us and God. Things like irritability, anger, anxiety, and selfishness (just to name a few).

It has been an illuminating journey - especially when I start out by thinking that I do not struggle with one of the issues listed, and then realize - as if my parents' dog stepped on my toe (Ok. I know that is a random analogy but i didn't want to use a cliche like having the light bulb turn on or be hit over the head - so please just hang with me) - that I do indeed struggle with it (name your sin) very much.

Like being irritable.

Ok, let me be really open here. I am actually well aware that I get irritable (frequently) - but until recently I didn't realize that was wrong. What's the big deal about getting irritated when I can't pick out an outfit to wear, or when my plans get changed at the last minute, or when Mr. San Antonio drinks out of my water glass? Those things are superficial issues, but still totally justifiable, and ultimately I only hurt myself in the process so what's the big deal? Being irritable must not be a sin... it's just... I don't know... being irritable! 
(Unfortunately) it's a lot more than that.

Last night I had another experience with irritability. Again, it was a small thing - an inconvenience with having to stand in a long line to vote. But when I walked into the room and saw the line, and realized that I wasn't going to be on time to my parent's house where we were scheduled to watch the election results, I could feel the heat of irritability rise up within me. The symptoms were all too familiar... my heart began to race; I used short words with Mr. San Antonio; I cast glaring looks around the room (at people that I assumed in my heart had gotten in line just to make me wait longer); and I stomped my feet, sighed loudly, and pouted. (Oh how I wish I was exaggerating.)

Then all of the sudden I recognized what I was doing. Almost as if someone announced it over the intercom (or the dog stepped on my toe...). I was being irritable and selfish and angry and ultimately I was sinning. I quickly said a prayer asking for forgiveness and for lots of help in overcoming my attitude... and you know what? My heart changed.

I was reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to vote. I was reminded of all the people who fought to give me that opportunity, and how many people in the world still don't have it. I was reminded that time is not mine, and that for some reason God Almighty wanted me to be in that line during those minutes instead of anywhere else in the world (including my parent's house).

And now that I'm done being deep and introspective, I'm going to go create better analogies for all the strange thoughts that go through my head. And I'm going to work on not (maybe) using so many (parentheses)!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spray Tan Memory

I'm not sure what sparked this memory... it was either

1. That every time I look down on my bare feet I see the criss-cross pattern of fading tan lines from the sandals I wore all over France...

or 2. The fact that my Scottish (and other northern European heritage) skin is steadily making its way to what I like to call the "winter transparency" stage...

But either way I was reminded today of the time in college when a friend called me all excited because she had two coupons for spray tans! It was January and we were feeling on the pale side (me more so than her - because she has beautiful ethnic skin). I thought that was a great idea - and waaaay more healthy than tanning beds - so we met up at a tanning salon near campus about an hour before my first class in conflict mediation.

We walked inside and got our tans and immediately began doubting our decision. Not only were we covered in a slightly smelly substance, but we weren't allowed to shower for six hours so it could be fully absorbed (what exactly we were absorbing I do not want to know). But, I figured that my class would distract me from the smell and the urge to use a loofa, and so off I went.

It turned out that conflict mediation was a pretty small class, with just about 30 students. For our first meeting we all sat in a circle so that we could look at each other full in the face as we began learning how to save the world.

As the class moved along for the next couple of hours I noticed that more and more people were throwing glances at me. I figured my awesome tan was making them assume I had just come in off the beach and they were jealously trying to figure out how to become my friend so I could take them with me on my next trip.

That is... until someone said, "you're looking a little orange, do you feel ok?"

I have never wanted a loofa more in my entire life.

Apparently throughout the two hour class, my skin slowly shifted from translucent to pale to peach to peachy pink to orange. And I realized that no one wanted to go hang out on the beach I came from.

Now, just in case you were wondering, the orange did wash off and I resumed to my natural hue comfortably situated between pale and paler. My friend on the other hand, with her ethnic skin, came out just great. And I have never touched fake tanner since. The end.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Acrobatics

This weekend we saw Cirque Dreams Illumination with some dear friends.

The show was incredible – measured by how far forward I leaned in my seat and how obnoxiously wide my mouth hung the entire time.

After the show the four of us looked at ourselves and decided we need to hit the gym pronto. Of course to make ourselves feel better we agreed that doing all those tricks is much easier when you are 4’10” and weigh 85 pounds. We ignored the whole “solid muscle” thing.

The most incredible act was done by four women who were the above size and trained at the Mongolian State School of Contortion. Sounds suspicious if you ask me… but the results are amazing. These women hung from a spinning, suspended open cube made of PVC pipe (at least that’s what it looked like). They swung, flipped, hung by their necks, hung by their ankles, hung from each other, twisted, looped and mesmerized us all.

Yes, the fact that none of them fell was amazing. But I was more impressed that, with all their spinning and flipping, none of them lost their stomach fluids.

Watching the show was inspiring to say the least. Yesterday I pulled out my Pilates video that has laid dormant for *cough* months (aka too long), with the intention of working my body back into flexible shape so I can once again touch my toes.

I pushed myself through the whole 60 minutes of stretches, strength training and sweat inducing exercises -and was feeling pretty good with myself afterwards.

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning to find that I had regressed. I am so incredibly sore that not only can I not touch my toes, but I can barely reach my knees. And my knees are a full 22 inches off the floor. (I just measured them with a ruler). My legs are the height of the Mongolian gymnasts…. And my hopes of being the acrobatic champion of the world are officially crushed.

Here’s to hoping your dreams are not crushed today.
-The Pampered Bird

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