No Napping Here

Yesterday, Parker was tired. Very tired. He (again!) fell asleep in his highchair before finishing his lunch, yet when the Irishman tried to move him to the bed, Parker insisted that he did not need a nap and asked that he be put in the recliner instead…

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…where he promptly passed out. When he woke up two hours later, I asked him if he had a good nap. His response? “Mommy, I was just closing my eyeballs. Parker doesn’t nap.” And so it is that Parker joins the ranks among the males in my family who pass out in recliners daily.

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Meatball Subs

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Sometimes, I just don’t feel like cooking. It’s shocking, but it’s true. Some days, I may have something wonderful planned for dinner, but over the course of a long day, I get home and the last thing I want to do is stand in the kitchen.

On days like those, I make meatball subs. They are my saving grace when I have hungry boys who, left to their own devices, would eat either pizza or ramen noodles.

It’s super easy. I just put half a jar of spaghetti sauce in a small sauce pan. I drop in 8 or so frozen meatballs (either homemade or store bought) and I let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 25 minutes.

When the meatballs are done, I toast hoagie rolls in the toaster oven until they’re lightly browned. Then, I load the hoagie with meatballs, adding a tablespoon of extra sauce on top. Finally, I grate provolone cheese on top and sprinkle the finished product with parmesan cheese. (I grate the provolone instead of adding slices because the grated cheese melts simply from the heat of the meatballs whereas the slices need additional heat either from a microwave or toaster oven).

And that’s it. The boys get a hearty meal and I get to curl up on the couch with cereal and a glass of wine. Pure bliss on long days.

Double Cheesy Bagels

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Once of the first things to go when I started our budget was my random runs to coffee shops and bagel shops. When I actually looked at the cost of bagels in the supermarket, I was floored to see that 6 bagels cost less than $2, when a single bagel with cream cheese at the bagel shop was almost $3. Most unfortunate.

So, I decided that I could still get my scrumptious bagel shop creations, but I would have to put in the legwork for it. Fortunately, that consists of 2 minutes of my time. One of my favorite things to order was a bagel with veggie cream cheese on the bottom, topped with a slice of tomato and finally topped with a slice of cheese. Then, it’s melted. Yummmmm…

The first step is to toast the bagel first. I usually pop it into the toaster over for about 60 seconds just to firm it up a little bit.

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Then, I put a light shmear of low-fat veggie cream cheese. I always use the word “shmear” in reference to spreading cream cheese on bagels. I’m sure there’s a reason for it – I just forgot what it was.

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Next, I top it with an uber-ripe tomato. Since I’m at home and not at the frugal bagel shop, I use more than a single slice of tomato so that every bite has some tomato-y goodness.

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Finally I top it with a slice of cheese. This happens to be colby jack, but provolone and cheddar are excellent as well.

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Finally, I put it back into the toaster oven and melt the cheese.

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Wait for it…

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Oh my melted cheesy goodness. This bagel makes me so happy. The tomato adds a nice, juicy freshness to the mix and the two cheeses blend to perfection. The bagel has a nice crunchy outside from our double-toasting and the inside is warm and soft. This bagel makes me happy and better yet, it makes me full. And that is definitely a good thing.

Arrival

The last two weeks have been completely crazy. I’ve been attending meetings and receptions back to back and I scarcely had 48 hours of solitude before classes started.

Today was my second day of classes and in between the students rushing in and out, it hit me. I’m here. I finally made it. I’m a tenure-track Assistant Professor at a university that needs me. Holy smokes!

I almost jumped up out of my chair in my office to do a happy dance…but that wouldn’t have seemed very professor-like. My office is spacious and lovely and amazingly, is located the same building as my classes. I can find parking right outside of my office at any time of the day and I can make a cup of coffee and saunter upstairs to teach just minutes before class time starts.

I get to interact with college students and work with bright, eccentric, wonderful people. I can wear jeans and flip flops if I feel like it and I can teach from home if I’m sick or the weather is bad.

Most importantly, I get paid to study and teach what I love. Hell, I get paid to travel to conferences to present my research to other like-minded people. Please pinch me because I can’t believe that I’m finally here.

And please remind me of this when I want to strangle my students and hide in my spacious and lovely office. Thank you.

Shrimp With Linguini

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I love shrimp. I love shrimp cooked a variety of ways. I particularly love restaurant style shrimp scampi. What I don’t love is the 1,000 calorie price that goes along with the butter laden dish, so naturally, I made my own version at home that’s just as tasty, but much healthier for you. Oh, and it passes the guy test. A buddy of mine called me in a panic because he had to make Valentine’s Day dinner and this was the recipe I sent to him. It turned out great and trust me, if he could make it, so can you.

Here are our ingredients:

1 lb. of shrimp
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot chopped (optional – I include this if I have shallots on hand)
1/2-3/4 stick of butter
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh parsley

*With regard to the shrimp, if there’s a big savings buying them with the shell on, I’ll just peel and devein them as soon as I get them home from the store. If the already peeled and deveined shimp is about the same price, I’ll buy them instead and save myself the hassle.

I always get my large pot of water going before I even start gather my ingredients since this dish comes together in about the time it takes for the linguini to cook. In a separate large saute pan, melt your butter.

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If I have company, I might throw the whole stick of butter in there, but for just us, I usually stick closer to half a stick. (The restaurant version uses about 3 sticks!) Next, add in your garlic and shallots (if you have them).

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Cook just a minute or two before adding in the shrimp.

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After about 3 minutes, add in the wine and the lemon pepper. I usually toss in a teaspoon of salt as well. It’s really important that you don’t overcook the shrimp, so if they’re cooking fast, add the wine as soon as they’re mostly pink, even if only 1 minute has passed.

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Cook for an additional minute while stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and drain your pasta. Put the pasta back into the pot and add the shrimp and sauce in with the linguini. Throw in the parmesan cheese and about a 1/2 cup of chopped parsley.

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Stir and serve. I usually garnish with another sprinkle of parm and fresh parsley.

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This shrimp has the buttery goodness of the restaurant scampi, but it tastes much lighter and you won’t feel like you need to be rolled away from the dinner table at the end of the meal. A bonus is that you can always find deals on shrimp (I got this lb. of wild shrimp for $7.99) so the meal comes in at under $10. Bonus!

Mad Scientist

So, ever since I made the switch to instant coffee, the sky is the limit as to what other coffee house drinks I can create at home. My latest creation is my at-home spin on the cafe mocha. Well, technically, it’s a cross between a cafe au lait and a mocha since I’m using instant coffee and not instant espresso, but you get the point.

It’s simple, just add one packet of hot cocoa mix to a large mug. Add a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee, top it off with hot water (which I usually boil in a kettle) and then add your usual amount of milk or cream. Mix and enjoy.

It’s chocolately, it’s caffeinated, it’s an abomination of a cafe mocha and I love it. For the next round of testing, I’m going to heat up milk to see how that tastes. My guess is that it will be pretty damn good.

Things I Miss

Well, our house is more or less up and running. My syllabi are coming along and I think that I’m basically ready for the first week of classes. I’ve found the right stores and the right parks, but there’s something I really miss that’s still in Tallahassee. My friends.

I miss Meg swinging by and playing with Parker while I throw dinner together or calling her up for a last minute happy hour meet up. I miss catching up with Mel and hearing the latest craziness through which I live vicariously. I miss meeting up with my study buddy Kristina on Saturday mornings while munching on bagels and supporting each other through the labyrinth that is academe. I miss my running and cycling confessionals with Kasey like crazy. The hundreds of miles that we logged while training for our marathon were truly some of the most rewarding (and painful) of my life. Man, do I miss those 5:30am runs.

I also miss the cows that we’d see on our runs.

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These cows, found on a large pasture at the edge of the huge subdivision that we used to run through, were such a welcome sight.

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I remember the first time I saw them. I was so floored that there were actually cows there. Big black and white cows that were our signal that another 5 miles had passed. I remember thinking that they were our cheerleaders helping us struggle through another loop.

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Yup, I miss the cows and all of my human friends from back home. I know that I’ll eventually make new friends here and one or two of them will become fixtures in my life for years to come and while I’ll celebrate those friendships down the road, today, I just want my old buddies back in one place.

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I miss you all.