Sunday, June 30, 2013

"The Other" Corn Dip

I love this.

I really, really love this.

It's best if you make it the day before you plan to eat it.  There's not much to it, but letting it marinate and chill makes a difference.  You can serve it cold or you can let it sit out before you serve it.  Either way, it's best if it has chilled overnight.

You can also make it and immediately eat the entire bowl for dinner.  Just sayin'.


"Turtle Creek" Corn Dip

2 cups (1 bag) grated cheddar cheese
2 cans Mexicorn (these are the bigger cans, not the baby ones)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
3-4 scallions, sliced thin

Mix it all up and chill.  Best served with Fritos Scoops

Sweet As Pie: Trisha Yearwood's Hot Corn Dip

This month (well, June, and it's still technically June for another 86 minutes) with Sweet As Pie, we had three recipes and a bonus.  The recipes were Hot Corn Dip, Country Quiche, Brown Rice Greek Salad, and a bonus of banana pudding.

The first two were both from Trisha Yearwood's Food Network show, and were my picks.  The other two I tried to make, I really did, but I wasn't feeling super motivated.  Unlike my friend Kristin (or my husband, for that matter), I don't like banana pudding.  Actually, unless they are mashed into cake or bread or sliced and served in Cheerios, I don't really care for bananas at all.  And brown rice just is not my favorite texture in the world.  I did buy the ingredients, I promise ... but I never quite mustered up the "I will make this for dinner tonight" motivation.  So, we were two-for-four this month.

(I'm kind-of okay with that, considering that in the past YEAR we've been almost zero-for-all.  The I-will-do-everything-I-commit-to part of me is distinctly not okay with that, but the Hey-you-can't-win-'em-all part of me is celebrating that I made anything at all this crazy year.) 

But this post is about the hot corn dip.

I picked this recipe this month because about 13 years ago, when we first built our first house in Georgia, we were invited to a Super Bowl party where I devoured (devoured!!!!) a corn dip that I would not have eaten if I had known it was a corn dip, but which I couldn't get enough of before I knew that little fact.  When say I loved it, I mean it.  There was one night months later, that I remember making the dip and sitting in the driveway of friends of ours, all of us circled around just being social, and I put the bowl in my lap with a bag of chips and ate it.  All of it.  For no reason except that I could.

My friend Paige still talks about "that night Jen ate corn dip for dinner."

So hopefully you get the idea: I am a glutton.

Well, yes, but my point was, I was intrigued by a new recipe for a different corn dip.  And a hot corn dip, to boot!

Here's the scoop.  (Bwah hah hah, I crack myself up!!!!)

Hot Corn Dip

Verdict: Not bad!  If you like corn dips, this will satisfy -- but it could stand a kick-up in the spice department.
Cook it again:  Probably ... it will depend, if I am craving a corn dip, on what is in the house.
Cost factor: $10-ish?  Could fluctuate depending on cheese prices and what you have in the house.  That is just the dip -- you also need chips.

Where was Mexicorn my whole life?  I don't know if this is one of those things I never had growing up because my parents don't eat spicy food and were afraid of this, or if it, like bite-size Snickers bars, did not exist for some unknown unGodly reason.

In any case, this recipe is ridiculously simple.

First, pour yourself a nice tall glass of ice cold Moscato.  There's not a single knife to break out in this recipe, so celebrate the fact that your fingers are safe.

Then, take two cans of Mexicorn and two cans of chopped/diced green chiles.  Drain them both and combine them in a bowl with a cup of mayonnaise, 2/3 of a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of grated Monterrey Jack cheese.

Why yes, that is el-junko Parmesan cheese.  For a dip, I wasn't breaking out the good stuff.  And no, I didn't remember to include the may or the Monterrey Jack here. 

Mix it all up, and spread it in a baking dish you've greased.  I just used Pam spray.  

See that mayonnaise-y glob on the left?  That's the dollop from the last few bits I got from scraping the bowl. 

Bake at 350 until the edges are bubbly and starting to brown.  This took us about 40 minutes.

These are cell phone snapshots and I put them both here because they were both equally bad the same quality.

Serve!  A food stylist, I am not.

Also I may have eaten half the chips I put on this plate before I took the picture.

This is a satisfying hot dip, but I wouldn't say it's anything amazing.  As you can imagine, the flavor was dominated by the corn -- as it should be for a corn dip, right?  (That sounded stupid, but Food Network Star is on in the background and I'm trying to be specific in my descriptions.  You know, taking a little advice from the experts and all!)

I was hoping the diced chiles would give it a little more bite than they did.  This dip was not spicy at all, which was disappointing and surprising.  I said earlier that I wasn't sure if I would make this again, and what I meant was that this dip is similar enough to the other dip that I make -- with just enough differences in ingredients --  that it would come down to what we had in the house rather than an outright preference.  However, if I did make this again I would try to use fresh peppers (serranos would be my preference) to kick up the heat a bit and make it a little more flavorful.

I'm going to post the other corn dip recipe in a separate post.  If you make it, please tell me what you think!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Pluto is Not A Planet

WHM:  Mommy, wouldn't it be cool if we could wide in a weal wocketship?
Me:  It sure would! Where do you want to go?
WHM:  I don't know.  But not to Mars.
Me:  Well, where do you want to go?
WHM (rolling his eyes as he thinks):  Jupiter!
Me:  What's special about Jupiter?
WHM:  It's made of gold.

(This from the same kid who could tell me when he was three years old that planets spin on an axis while they go around the sun.  He actually used the word "revolution!*") 

Methinks I need a trip to Jupiter.


*actually, I believe it was "wevvolution."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sweet As Pie: Trisha Yearwood's Country Quiche

Last year, one of our very first Sweet as Pie Cooking Club recipes was for the Pioneer Woman Quiche.  Prior to that, I'd never made a quiche before.  It was so delicious that we ended up making it a few times last year.  It was not particularly difficult, but it did take some ingredients that we might not typically have in the house, and it took a lot of eggs and heavy cream.  It was good, but it was expensive and not the healthiest endeavor.  I guess that is what quiche should be, really: a rich treat.

This month it was my turn to pick recipes for the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club again.  Confession: I've been so busy and so bad at managing this year, that I haven't cooked even my own two most recent picks!  I've also been disappointed with some of our club's picks this year -- I think because we've opened it to recipes from "wherever," we've hit upon a fair number of duds.  (This is also true of some Pinterest recipes I've made this year.  Everything on Pinterest is "the best ever," and all that really means is that too many Pinterest-ers have limited palates and dining experiences.)  Sometimes it's pretty clear the recipes aren't written by people who are adept at sharing recipes -- things are described in odd quantities, or quantities are left out altogether, and other times it's been that recipes are rife with grammatical errors.  Anyway, it's silly stuff I suppose, but I've been less than impressed.  Of course in other instances, I've been tickled with how great the food came out.  But I'm me.  I don't need to know something has been tested ten thousand times when I trust the tester, but when I get ready to cook something and spend good money on groceries, I like to know it's not going to be a waste of my time and my money.

In the meantime, I've fallen in love with Trisha Yearwood's cooking show (Trisha's Southern Kitchen) on Food Network.  So, when I got the email that I needed to make a pick, I decided that for my pick this month I'd go to something that I was pretty confident I would like -- and which was vetted well enough to have made it to television and a cookbook. 

I basically clicked through on Trisha's page on, and came upon a country quiche recipe that looked good -- and also looked like the kind of thing we could "whip up" on a Sunday morning.  Today's only Saturday, but if you read my post the other day you know I went a-shoppin', so I was and am ready to cook.  I just made this and Mick already devoured two giant helpings.

Here's the review.

Trisha Yearwood's Country Quiche

Verdict: Just right.  Not a gourmet quiche, but definitely will satisfy a quiche craving -- and you can go from deciding you want to make it to sitting down and eating it in a span of 45 minutes.
Cook it again: Absolutely.
Cost Factor: Ridiculously inexpensive -- everything in this recipe is stuff we have on hand all the time, but to buy it all would be less than $10.

First of all, you use two store-bought pie crusts.  I always have my trusty old Pillsbury crusts on hand, but I suppose an ambitious soul could make crust.  My take on this recipe is that it's not meant to be fancy-pants restaurant-style quiche, so store-bought crust is perfect.

You brown up one pound of Jimmy-Dean-style sausage.  Trisha's recipe calls for the kind with sage, but here in Maine our sausage pickin's are limited.  I got the regular sausage and just added some ground sage to it.  (How much?  A few gentle shakes until I got the scent.  Maybe half a teaspoon at the most.)

Set that aside, and in a mixing bowl, whisk together six eggs (much better than PW's 200 or so, and much more likely to be available in our fridge at any given time) and a teaspoon of baking powder. Then add about twenty grape tomatoes that you've cut in half and sprinkled with salt, and about 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar.  The recipe says to add salt and pepper but doesn't specify quantity.  I didn't add any salt since I'd been generous with how I did the tomatoes, but I added about a tablespoon of black pepper.  Finally, add the sausage to the mixture.

You can see that I wasn't overly concerned with making the crust look pretty.  You can also see just how much excess crust there was! 
Pour the mixture into two pie dishes lined with the pie crusts.  At this point, I would say that I was nervous.  First of all, six eggs just seemed to get devoured by the rest of the mixture and I was worried that we didn't have enough egg for a quiche.  Second, I think -- but didn't test -- that you could actually get away with pouring all the mixture into one pie dish and just making a deeper quiche.  I am quite sure I will make this again, and that's what I am going to try.  These were not very deep and I was too lazy to make a shield for the excess of crusts.  (It didn't matter; they browned but did not burn.)

Throw these in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Into the oven they go ...

Just look at how clean the bottom of that oven is!  I love that ammonia trick I learned last year.  Thank you, Pinterest!
I kept watching to make sure the crusts weren't charring, and at the 30-minute mark the crusts were not burned but the eggs had set, so I took the pies out.

... and out they come!  Turns out that the six eggs really was just the right amount, but again -- too much unused crust. 

And serve!  In this photo I broke off the excess crust.  

I definitely enjoyed this, but I prefer taller quiches, so I am definitely going to pour the entire mixture into just one pie dish next time.

I don't have a bad thing to say, and what I love about this recipe is that it is a simple basic quiche that will satisfy a quiche craving without necessitating a trip to the grocery store.  You can throw in any other meats you might like -- or leave meats out altogether, if you prefer.  The whole thing took me 45 minutes from the time I decided to make it until Mick was on his second helping.  That's my kind of perfect!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Where Have I Been, You Ask?

Last week was our last week of school, and since I teach at a high school, that meant we had final exams Monday-Thursday and a teacher work day on Friday.  This week, though, I've been attending committee and other planning meetings.  I have really enjoyed them.  I wasn't sure what to expect but I've been pleasantly surprised by just how well things have gone.  I know I didn't want to teach this year, and this was by no means an easy year, but I really do love where I landed.  

So if you're wondering (Mom and Dad) why school's out but I keep going to school, that's why.  Before you wonder if I am crazy, let me say that I signed up for these committees.  This is not burdensome.  I am enjoying it, and very much enjoying getting to work with people outside the confines of the often-stressful, always-busy regular school year.  Also, I do not drink the KoolAid -- I sign up for these things precisely because I don't drink the KoolAid and think it's important to see how policies, etc. develop -- and to be a part of it when and however I am able.  I've had meetings every day, but they've been productive and useful and I've felt good about what we're doing even if I've not always been in love with the fact that we are doing it... if that makes sense.  

Next week, I have three full days of meetings Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to go with my new role as mathematics curriculum facilitator at the high school.  That's right -- if you're playing along, I have finally stayed in one place long enough to have moved to a curriculum role!  I will still be a classroom teacher, but I am also now the mathematics curriculum facilitator, and if you know me, you know that curriculum work (and, eventually, policy work) is where my heart is.  (And if you really know me, you know that I am distinctly not a fan of the Common Core State Standards, so I hope that I do our math department a service by not being a "yes man." The standards are here, and they are not an option in the state of Maine, but I am hopeful that my wary perspective will be an asset to my new role and to our math department.)


Crossing my fingers it goes well next year.  I'm excited.  Not entirely sure what to expect, but excited to get out there and try it.

In the meantime, I have a bar exam to take in five weeks.  God help me, I've not so much as cracked a book yet.


Chef W

In our kitchens in both Alabama and Georgia, we had a countertop bar where we could cook and talk at the same time.  In Georgia in particular, we had a nice workspace that was open on one end, so I could be working at the counter and the kids could be standing on their stools on the end of the workspace and someone could be on the other side of the bar.  It wasn't quite a peninsula, but it worked like one.  Because of the way it all laid out, we always talked like crazy people as we cooked very often pretended we were filming cooking shows.  (Put it this way: WHM's favorite "grown-up show" is Chopped.)

Last year or the year before, my mother-in-law bought CAM some kids cooking tools made by a company called Curious Chef.  I'd stumbled upon them somewhere -- I can't for the life of me remember where -- and when Meredith asked what to get CAM for Christmas, it was a no-brainer.  The tools are fantastic because although they cut food, they are made in such a way that it's almost impossible to cut yourself.  If you slip with the knife, you'll scratch yourself and maybe wince, but you won't even break the skin.  Make that same slip with a real knife, and you're in the ER looking for them to re-attach your digits.  WHM has really taken to the kids' knives this year, and they are so important that they even sit in a utensil bucket on our counter, just like the grown-up tools do.

These are some of the knives.  We also have all sorts of other Curious Chef products and tools.  This was taken from and this particular set sells for $8.99.  

Yesterday was a really great day.  I had a meeting -- a good meeting, productive, with people who are all pretty fantastic -- at work in the morning and then for the first time in a million years, I went grocery shopping with the kids and actually got to take the afternoon and evening to unpack it all and cook dinner.  I had no papers to grade, no alarm to set (okay, well technically I did, but I could go to work in shorts today), nothing to worry about... Actually, I had a ton on my mind and was a bundle of stress, but for a few hours yesterday I put the world away** and I was able to enjoy myself.  It was fantastic.  One of my favorite things in the universe is to put on an apron and cook.  I got to do that, and I got to do it without any time pressure, and with help from my little man.  What a glorious afternoon.

Here are a few photos of WHM helping me prep the taco fixin's* from last night.  I wish they were videos, because hearing his commentary was priceless.  I'll do my best with the captions, but I assure you it was 1,000,000,000 times better in person.

First, you lean over to the sink and rinse your knife. (Even if Mommy says not to lean over because you'll fall.  Just be careful!)

Then, you dry that knife.

Then you chop, like this.  (Mommy note: his hand is much farther to the left of the knife than this photo makes it appear.)

Then you keep chopping.  (Mommy note: he's not anywhere near cutting his fingers.  Depth of field is a bit off here.)

And you chop some more .... this way ... 

... and some more ... 

... and some more.  This time you just chop with one had, realllllly fast!


*The apostrophe before the "s" here is making me crazy.  "Fixin'" correctly has an apostrophe after the end.  So pluralizing that should add the "s," but that makes it look like it's possessive ... or worse, like I am illiterate and just add an apostrophe to words whenever I add an "s."  These are the things that trouble me.  No, I don't have a therapist.

**borrowed from the Zac Brown Band's lyric, "gonna put the world away for a minute/pretend I don't live in it."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last Day of School

In August, I would mutter on my drive to work about how I was working a job I didn't want in a place I didn't want to live.  I came home in tears.  I hated everything about everything.

But, I had a wonderful team that I can't ever possibly say enough good about, a fabulous (!!!) classroom, and even with the ever-developing bumps in the road (which would happen at any school), I had a pretty good year.  No, I didn't want to move to Maine, and no, I certainly didn't want to teach again, but in the end I have to say that the good days outnumbered the bad days, and I had a good year.  (This is assuming that I had to work.  It's no secret I would have preferred to be home with the kiddos.)

Last week was the last week of regular classes and this week was finals. The way our schedule worked, I ended up giving two exams on the first day and two yesterday and no exams the middle two days.  I used those middle two days to to all the end-of-year administrative stuff (and lawd, was there administrative stuff!) and pack my room.  I graded, packed my room, took down my posters and so forth, and yesterday before I left for the day, I even managed to finish grading the exams I'd given yesterday morning.

Today was supposed to be easy -- a teacher meeting/wrap-up day, nothing much on the agenda.

Yesterday I found out that next year I am not going to be on my team with Mike and Victoria anymore.  You see, at our school ninth- and tenth-graders are on "teams" made of a science teacher, English teacher, and math teacher.  The idea is that having a group of teachers with the same basic group of kids allows for an easier transition to high school, more monitoring of our at-risk population, and generally is better for the kids.  It definitely has its advantages.  It also has disadvantages and doesn't always work quite the right way.  I've been extraordinarily fortunate, though, because I had an amazing team and we all liked each other as colleagues and as people.  We worked, plain and simple.  There were angels on our shoulders to put us together this August.

Well ... I was given an opportunity to change my schedule a bit for next year.  I told our principal I would teach anything except freshmen.  I suggested maybe I could stay on team but have one "off team" class.  In the end, my schedule is completely different: next year I am going to teach regular-level Algebra 2 (which is the same level of kids I taught this year in Geometry, just juniors instead of sophomores), regular level Precalculus, and AP Statistics. 

What that means, though, is that I am now not on a team with Victoria and Mike.  I also lose my room and have to be a traveling teacher on a cart.

And it seems a whole slew of math teachers are less than pleased with my new schedule. 

It is very bittersweet.  I want to be excited, but I am also a little sad.

Also, because of the schedule change necessitating that I no longer have a room, I learned that I couldn't just lock my stuff in my wall cabinet; I had to actually EMPTY my classroom.  Talk about your change in plans!




Holy Moly!  Mick and the kids came up to the school with some boxes from Home Depot and I packed and packed and packed and Mick loaded the truck and loaded the truck and loaded the truck.  Today was the last day, and it went well, but I am not even done turning in paperwork and I haven't unpacked the car(s) and I am running on less than empty. 

Tomorrow, though? Tomorrow's summer!

And I shall face all these tasks, plus bar exam studying and house and storage unit unpacking and cleaning, and yard sale planning, and general mommying and fun with the kiddos, ALL tomorrow.

For now, I am going to bed.  We made it through this year.  I did a lot of crying, a lot of venting, and I can't help but lament missing out on WHM's year being 3.  But we made it.  Mick did a pretty good job saying home with WHM.  And we're okay.  CAM survived full-day kindergarten.  I didn't unpack yet; I've barely crafted; a lot of our stuff is in storage; I can't even tell you the last time I made a cooking club meal; and we miss Costco and some of our conveniences from Georgia; but we made it.

Happy Summer!  It has, at last, arrived!*  It promises to be busy.

And filled with lobster rolls.


*well, at least in name.  It's still not summery weather here. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

WHM's Birthday

My baby is four. 

(That means, if you're keeping score, that I graduated law school four years ago. Took the bar exam four years ago.  PASSED it four years ago.) 

Two of those four years were spent at home with W and C, though, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the universe.

Still, my baby is four!

This photo actually shows two of the most important things in WHM's life these days:  "Fighter"man and Buzz "Wightyear". 

Look carefully to CAM's right and you will see WHM's hand.  He was 100% NOT into blowing out his candles.


WHM's last day


Ballet/Tap Recital

We're not allowed to take photo or video at the actual recital, but we can take as much as we want at the dress rehearsal.  I didn't bring the real camera for the dress rehearsal because I am just not that good at photography in the dark yet.  (I know it's a matter of learning settings, but let's be real: I'd rather get crummy cell phone snapshots than to have none of my "good camera" photos come out at all.  So that was my approach.  Hopefully next year I will be more skilled with the unique situation that is a dark room with fast movement.)

In any event, CAM took what they called "combo level 2" classes this year.  It's a class designed for little girls to be exposed to both ballet and tap, but who are not complete novices.  Since CAM did pre-ballet for two years in Georgia, this was perfect. 

At the dress rehearsal, I was a bit disappointed.  She was front and center, but kept looking to the girl to her left for steps.  Last year at the end of her recital, one of her friends' moms said that CAM was naturally talented, and that was 100% missing after the dress rehearsal.  Today's recital, though?  180 -degree turnaround.  She was fantastic!  Knew the routine, never looked to her neighbor ...  not perfect by any means (she's six), but she really did a GREAT job. 

Of course, we still need to work on her ego.  Much like after her baton competition, when I got backstage at the end of the show, she greeted me with, "Mommy!  We were AWEsome!"

(The photos at the end, with CAM in makeup, are from today's recital.  I took them backstage before I had to leave to go to our seats.)


An actual genuine giggle! 

Look at those eyes!

Add caption

Silly Sequence

Last week or the week before, Mick took CAM to gymnastics and WHM and I stayed home and got silly.  One at a time, we sent these to Mick while he waited for CAM's session to be over.  We're cool like that.