Monday, February 18, 2013

Tastiness - Red Beans and Rice Salad

It's Meatless Monday at our house.  We try to eat meatless at least once a week, and admittedly, it's not always on Monday.  B has a tendency to buck the meatless menu, as he claims he just needs more protein.  Sometimes I can trick him into a hearty meal that's missing it's meat.  And yet...this salad is a staple on our menu rotation.  Even H, the recovering picky eater, loves it.

There's a microbrewery/restaurant in Ft. Wayne, IN called Mad Anthony's.  The first time I went there a million years ago, I saw something on their salad menu that intrigued me.  A House Salad.   I know.  I know.  Every restaurant has a house salad on their menu.  But Munchies' house salad, as the restaurant portion of the brewery was then called (and may still be?), took their house salad to a whole new level.  So I have been copying it at home ever since.

You could probably put anything you want in it.  Our standard is just romaine, tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, some form of cheese, and some ranch dressing.  The secret ingredient is Zatarain's Red Beans & Rice.  It's not really a secret.  I saw the giant bag of Zatarain's in the Munchie's kitchen.  I've used other brands before, and it's just not the same.  I'm sure you could probably make a delicious homemade version of red beans and rice if you're into that sort of thing.  But Zatarain's is like $2.50 and it takes 30 minutes.  (Insert your judgement here on the fact that I use organic vegetables, but a box mix full of lord knows what.  It's okay.  I can take it.)

First...In Pictures:

What I used - minus the clementines and gummy worms.  Small kitchen.

What was happening while I was in the kitchen
Chopped and divided into bowls
The above ingredients also made one more giant bowl that I'll take for my lunch tomorrow. 

Cheese.  B's a big cheese man.

And a big Red Beans and Rice man.

And he likes a little salad with his dressing.
To be fair, he did just spend 40 minutes as a horse with 2 riders.

Red Beans and Rice Salad

  • 1 Box of Zatarain's Red Beans & Rice
  • Romaine Lettuce 
  • Tomatoes 
  • 2 Green Peppers 
  • Red Onion (1/2 is probably enough)
  • Shredded cheese 
  • Ranch dressing
  1. Cook Red Beans and Rice according to package directions.
  2. While that's going, chop the veggies, rinse and spin (the veggies, not you - unless you want to spin)
  3. Divide the veggies up
  4. Add some cheese
  5. When the Red Beans and Rice are done, scoop them on top of the salad.  They're hot.  The salad's cold.  It's all delicious.
  6. Add some Ranch.
  7. Enjoy
This salad is so filling, and not terrible for you, either.  I've tracked it on MyFitnessPal in the past.  The only difference between tonight and the time I tracked it was I used a different brand of cheese, but the nutrition information was still the same.  Check this out if you're interested in the health stuff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

...The Unthinkable

I spent last night and today in my hometown - a place that barely resembles the town in which I grew up.  Each time I return as an adult, I realize I don't quite resemble the girl who left almost 14 years ago.  As I grow up - smarter (I hope), stronger (I think), and cuter (duh), it just keeps crumbling.  This quick trip was pretty disenchanting.  I found out that a meth lab was discovered across the street from my parents' place - and then a slum lord (who owns the 2 buildings surrounding my dad's shop/parents' home, and most of the buildings in the town) is renting a different space to the scumball meth cooks. Another house exploded a few weeks ago due to meth gone bad.  Break-ins have been happening throughout the downtown, including next door to my dad's shop.  It just makes me sad.  Is this what's happening to small towns all across America, or is my hometown just lucky?  I digress.

We went home for the funeral of a friend.  His wife is one of my lifelong girls - you know the kind that you grew up alongside, learning and laughing together, making mistakes and making memories.  She's one of the strongest, most positive people I've ever encountered, and this is the second time in just over a decade that we've rallied behind her beside the casket of those she loves the most.  And it's not fair.

3 months ago his cancer was discovered.  Melanoma.  A tumor in his spine that left him a paraplegic.   Wednesday they found that it had travelled to his brain.  Friday morning, he died.

I can't imagine this.  I don't want to imagine this.  I held B's hand throughout the service but couldn't get the image of his hand not being there out of my head.  When the unthinkable happens, I try my best to take a step back.  What is it that I need to learn from this - other than the obvious "life's not fair" lesson?

As the kids slept in the car on the way back tonight, B and I talked and talked and talked.  We talked about today and about tomorrow.  Our plans for this weekend and next and all the things we need to get done around the house.  And I couldn't help thinking while we talked that it was part of the lesson.  These tasks, schedules, vacation plans we were organizing and making are a big deal.  They're the little moments that add up to big ones.  And each moment in between is just as crucial to the memories we cherish when the unthinkable happens.

While I don't want to go to the grocery tomorrow, I will.  If I don't, I can't make heart-shaped bacon for H on Thursday.  And that might just be a moment he remembers forever.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Spoiler Alert:
I will not be revealing any sort of exciting news in this entry.  I don't have any.

Phew.  Now that your hopes are dashed, I can continue.  News.  More specifically, the news.  I don't watch it.  I hate it.  Sometimes I read it.  I have a handy dandy ABC News app on my phone that sometimes I'll glance at.  I did yesterday.  And I learned that a 9 year old in Mexico gave birth to her first baby, fathered by a 17 year old.  I got sick to my stomach and lost even more faith in humanity.  This is the kind of thing that's news.  I'm tired of tragedy.  While I get that life can't always be sunshine and roses, couldn't there be something good worth reporting out there?  Like even one story a day?  Or even one newscast a day?

There's this lady in my life (I'm not mentioning any names, here, but she gave birth to my husband) who spends her days watching CBS news.  Morning.  Noon.  4:00.  5:00.  10:00.  She doesn't miss it.  And then she watches other informative shows like Dr. Oz and The Doctors.  And life is one big conspiracy theory in her eyes.  We're all going to die.  There's arsenic in brown rice.  When you surround yourself with negativity, it's all you begin to believe.  Again, I'm not asking for puppies and rainbows all day every day, but how about some good stuff?

I prefer TMZ to the real stuff.  At least celebrities and their gossip are entertaining.  Does this make me ignorant?  Maybe.  I can research anything that I really need to know.

So...what do I watch you might ask?  Well...between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., the answer is not much.  H enjoys a little Full House, and old school cartoons from the 30s.  (Check them out on Netflix - Cartoons That Time Forgot.  They're awesome.)  L doesn't watch much t.v., as she'd rather play, but when she sits down, it's for Cookie Monster, Elmo, Mickey, and any princess she can recognize.

When I finally sit down for my roughly one hour a day of television viewing, I want it to entertain me.  Revenge (I'm still in Season 1) and Parenthood are some of my favorites, but Mad Men is my true viewing passion.  I have a countdown of days until it's back on.  B understands my deep-rooted passion for Jon Hamm, and he's totally cool with it.  It might be true that sometimes, during Mad Men seasons, I dream about Don Draper.  They're generally really good dreams.  Yes, that kind of really good dream.  It may or may not sometimes happen that after one of "these dreams" I wake up and sneer at B because he's B and not Jon Hamm.  Luckily B's cool with this.

Jon Hamm as Jon Hamm - Not as Don Draper
But he's wearing a cardigan.  And I LOVE a cardigan. 
Lately, I'm loving the Kroll Show on Comedy Central.  This shit's funny.  Really funny.  I'd say sketch comedy at it's finest.  Check it out.  Once you do, we can talk only in quotes from the show.  It'll be Uh-maaaaaze-ing.

Thus far my favorite sketch.

What are you watching?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

...A Getaway

I miss the weekend.  Already.  Technically it's still happening, being that it is Sunday night.  The Super Bowl is playing in the background.  The kids are in bed, and the beginning of the week chores are done enough.  But I already miss this weekend.  Ever have one of those that you never want to end?

This weekend we got away.  My wonderful parents came up and stayed with H and L so B and I could head to Michigan with some friends.  That's the key to getting away for me - knowing that H and L are being loved to death the entire time we're gone.

Our Shrek just turned 40, and his wife planned the ultimate surprise party:  a giant house, a hot tub, a pool table, a wine tour, a serious dance party, seemingly all the booze in Michigan, and 13 of his favorite people.  Well, they're 13 of my favorite people.

Some lovin' for the birthday boy

What's a weekend without a selfie or 7?

Just the girls Friday night

The pool.

Good food.  Good friends.
Our friends are the family we choose.  I couldn't feel more blessed than to have been chosen by this motley crew to share in each other's lives.