Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Jalapeno Popper Casserole

Here is my Jalapeno Popper Casserole.  Just a heads up - I have tweaked this over the course of about a year to get it just right . . . FOR ME.  Which means that some of the ingredients no longer have valid measurements.  So if you are going to cook it up, you may want to do some tweaking of your own.

So here we go (insert drumroll sound here) with my version of this tasty dinner:

Makes 1 13x9 inch pan

1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese, divided
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
4-6 Jalapeno peppers (depending on the size of the peppers and how much of that flavor you want.  Just keep in mind that once the seeds are out, they aren't as hot as you might think), deseeded and diced (after I deseed the peppers I throw them in that food chopper attachment thingy that came with my blender. Also, I use latex gloves for the seeding and all touching of the peppers, because  . . . you know . . . I'll get that stuff in my eyes for sure)
1 bag of hash browns (I don't know the size of bag, enough to fill the bottom of the pan, and I use the cubed kind)
Green onions (quantity depending on your love - or not - of green onions)

Preheat the oven to 425.  Fill the baking dish with hash brown, and put them in the oven until they are warmed up.  While the hash browns are warming, cook the bacon and crumble it into small pieces.  Dice the peppers and slice the green onions.  Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, 1.5 cups of cheese, green onions and bacon (keep some bacon and green onions for sprinkling on top).  I use a hand mixer to blend it all up.  Spread that mixture on top of the hashbrowns.  Top with the rest of the cheese, bacon, and green onions.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

It takes 2 of these to feed my family.  My family of 4.  2 pans.  4 people.  I'm not kidding.

Yes, one of those people is Jack, but I'm not sure that 1 pan would satisfactorily (is that a word?) take care of the family sans Jack.  We kinda like it.  It's yummy.  And warms up nicely.  Or so I've heard.  I've never actually had any to warm up for myself.  But that's the rumor.

The actual recipe that I started with uses twice as much cream cheese and tater tots instead of hash browns.  It was too much cream cheese, in my opinion, so I kept whittling it down until I got to where we are now, which is perfect.  Someone else would probably like the full cream cheese portion.  And lest you ask, you could probably use the low fat cream cheese and sour cream. I've never tried.  Why would I do such a thing?  Low fat = low flavor = sadness for everyone.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kids These Days . . .

One of my favorite things to torment my kids with is the old parental stand-by, "When I was your age . . ."  We've got it so much better than our parents, so much more variety, and our kids are positively appalled at how things were in the "olden" days.  My goodness, we answered the phone without knowing who was calling!  We had to go to the LIBRARY to do a research paper!  We had to stand up and walk across the room to change the channel on the TV!  Gasp!  The inhumanity of it all!

But then when I stop to think of the things my kids will never experience, at least not on the scale I did, it makes me kind of sad.  My teens and pre-teen kids never hung out at the mall on Saturdays, seeing how far they could stretch $5.  My kids have never walked a mile (plus) to get a snow cone and then eat it while walking the mile (plus) back home (uphill).  And sadly, my kids have never - and probably will never - have the wonderful experience of a drive-in movie.

As a teenager, I went to the Timp Drive-in in Orem regularly during the summer.  It was just what people did then.  I usually fell asleep before the second movie began, because I'm exciting like that. 

A group of friends of mine bought an old car (I don't know what it was, but it was reeeaaalllly long), and they cut the top off it and put seats in the trunk space.  It could seat about 13 people, although if it rained it was not so cool.  We would take that thing, lovingly called "The Vert" (as in conVERTable) to the drive-in, park it sideways, and we could get 6 speakers on it that way.  Ahhh . . . good times.

The Timp Drive-in was also conveniently located next to a Winchell's Donut shop.  That was handy.    Sadly, the Winchell's Donut shop is also gone, and apartments sit in its place (also the drive-in).

I remember going with my friend Shauna to the drive-in once.  It was just the two of us, everyone else must have been on missions at that point or something.  Anyway, the double feature was Dead Poet's Society and then Beaches.  Who's idiotic idea was that?    That is surely the worst double feature ever.  We could barely see to drive home, what with the red, swollen eyes and all.  That was the worst.  Whoever dreamed up that double feature should be taken out and shot for poor decision making.

Also, no northern Utah county youth at that time could grow up properly without going to the movies at the Towne Cinema "Sticky Shoe" theater in American Fork.  That was the theater I most frequented back then.  It was a first run theater once upon a time.  That's where I saw Footloose and E.T.  (I'm thinking 1982?)  The only movies I remember seeing at the fancy University Mall Theater was Star Wars (as it was known then, but now I have to specify A New Hope), but I could be wrong.  But it seems like most of the movies of my youth were at the Timp Drive-in or the Sticky Shoe.

I don't think there are any drive-ins left around here (if I'm wrong, let me know), so I don't know my kids can experience that thrill.  But the Sticky Shoe is still alive and well.  If I can drum up the nerve, I'll take my kids over there so they can fully appreciate the name.

Then in my teenage years, the video store came into it's glory days.  My kids have some memories of Blockbuster, but they will never appreciate the days of having to call ahead to Adventureland Video in downtown PG to reserve their one copy of Holy Grail for a Friday night.  Everything had only one copy.  And now thanks to instant streaming and cheap DVDs, kids today don't know the anguish of going to the video store on Friday or Saturday, and finding that everything is out except for a copy of "Thouroghly Modern Millie" which was to be avoided at all costs because it was a - GASP - musical, or maybe a movie in black and white.  And every kid of the 80s knew that if a movie was in black and white, it couldn't possibly be any good.

My kids don't know the torture of dragging a hose around the backyard during the summer months, moving it every 30 minutes, because now we all have sprinkler systems. They don't know what it's like when the President speaks on TV and he's on Every. Single. Channel.  Thanks to Spotify, they will never know about trying to record a favorite song off the radio, only to miss the beginning of the song and have to wait around for it to play again.  They don't have to worry about having a dime on hand at all times to make an emergency phone call.  Other than their parents having access to their grades at all times (thank goodness that didn't exist in my school years!), kids today have it pretty good, I guess.

But thankfully, my kids also don't know the agony of trying to choke down a lima bean dinner.  Too many lima bean dinners prepared by my mom made me swear I would never, ever, EVER serve them to anyone I loved.  Because, let's face it, that's just abuse.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I think I can . . . I think I can. . .

So I'm back to 5k training.  Sigh.  Once upon a time I could run almost the whole 3 miles and then . . . and then . . . I don't know.  I just stopped.  Periodically I would feel enough shame to take myself down to the gym and run some on the track or treadmill.  I can still run for about 2 minutes, or almost a quarter mile.  Humiliating as that is, I remember back to the first 5k training and running for 1 minute was almost impossible, so at least I'm not back at Square One.

I went down to the gym last night, and all full of motivation, I hopped on the treadmill.  I got my 5k app running, my Spotify workout playlist going, and then realized that the gym has gotten new treadmills and I didn't even know how to start the dumb thing.  Not wanting to look more stupid than I'm sure I already did (people of a certain weight and age really shouldn't wear running tights) I fumbled around for a while, trying to look like I knew what I was doing, until I accidentally started the thing up. Thankfully it starts very slowly so I didn't get sucked off the back.  That would have been terribly impressive, running tights and all.

So yesterday was to run for 1 minute and walk for 90 seconds (stop laughing at me.  I know my shame), repeated 8 times.  It went very well, I stepped off the treadmill 30 minutes later happy, proud of myself, and perhaps a little cocky.  I told Addie on the way home that training this time wouldn't be as bad as last time, and we laughed about the frozen vegetables bags on my legs back then. 

I knew that Thursday's aren't good for me gym-wise, and I had to come home from work early today because our satellite needed readjusting, so I thought, "Hey, yesterday went so well, I'll go back for Day 2 today!" despite knowing from past experience that back-to-back training days are a bad idea.  But I was confident.

Turns out 2:30 is a great time to be at the gym.  It is pretty much empty and, more importantly, I got a great parking spot.  So I got on my treadmill, started it successfully and without humiliating myself, started my app, started my Spotify, and I was off.  I did just like I did yesterday:  walk at 3.6 mph, then jog starting at 5.1 mph and increasing that jogging speed on each run to max out at 5.8 mph.  It went perfectly yesterday, so it would go perfectly today too, right?

Well, mostly yes.  It went fine until the last run.  60 seconds has never been so long.  I kept telling myself if it didn't end soon I was going to throw up.  I wanted to turn down the speed.  But I held on to the end (the end of that WHOLE 60 seconds - stop laughing at me) and was pleased with myself.  I shared the workout to Facebook for accountability purposes, and went to get stuff to wipe down the treadmill.

I couldn't walk.  My knees almost buckled just stepping off the belt.  "Great," I thought.  "I'm going down here in a heap, and I'm still wearing these ridiculous running tights."  But somehow I hobbled over and got the machine wiped down.  Next problem:  walking down the stairs.  There's an elevator right there.  Why didn't I take it?

The silver lining was that I coincidentally had a massage scheduled for 3:00.  Thankfully, Vanessa would save me.  And she did. She always does.

And she didn't even act offended with all the sweat.

That's true friendship.

And now it's 8:00 and I'm back to feeling fabulous.

But maybe that's because of the Cadbury mini eggs I can't stop eating.