Jul 28, 2010

King of Kings.

I don't write very much on this blog about my ability to cook. Mainly, because I don't have a huge ability to cook.

I like to flatter myself and think my family might disagree with that - as they always tell me what a great cook I am. But I know I am certainly not what some of the foody bloggers out there today are - so I don't even bother.

And let me make this statement right now: I am a cook. I am not a baker.

Meaning? Meaning that if you were to die you would really prefer I bring my hot chicken salad to your loved ones and NOT my Oreo pie. One tastes like heaven. One looks like poop.

Or if you were to have a baby you might secretly hope that I show up at your door with a casserole in one hand a People magazine in another. Whereas you might secretly hope I trip and fall while carrying my chocolate chip cookies. Because one is hot and satisfying and the other looks like a virus carrying bird "laid" it on your car window.

So you see the difference?

But last night my new friend, Karli, asked me - ME! - to make a special dinner at our church to feed 18 people. I asked her what she wanted me to make and here's what she said, "Oh, I don't care. You decide. I just heard you were a great cook, so whatever you come up with is fine with me."

Did I mention she's a NEW friend? I suspect that newness will wear off just any day now.

So I gave Karli the run-down of my top three dinners.

  • My grilled chicken pasta with a creamy Alfredo sauce, packed with sauteed onions, bacon and bowtie pasta.
  • My poppyseed chicken with tons of buttery Ritz crackers on top, lying on top of a bed of white rice. With a poppyseed pasta salad and rolls on the side.
  • Or my King Ranch Chicken. A Texas classic. Full of chicken and cheese, sour cream, corn tortillas and more cheese. It's rich and warm and ooey-gooey.

Oh, and...and here's where things get a little sticky......I had never actually made it before. But I told her I had. Because, again, she's a new friend. But also because I have eaten it my ENTIRE life. Every woman in my family makes it and although I have never actually made the dish myself I feel pretty certain I could make it in my sleep. Or in a cheese induced coma, whichever came first. And wouldn't you know it? This is the one she wanted. The one dish I'd never made - is the one dish she wanted.

And if there's one thing my momma always taught me (other than how to make King Ranch Chicken) it's that you gotta give the people what they want.

So here is the recipe. It's nothing special. You can find this recipe or a million more like it online somewhere. (So please don't think I'm like Phoebe Buffett when she told Monica her grandmother had left her a special chocolate chip cookie recipe but it was actually the one from the Nestle' Toll House bag.) I'm telling you upfront - it's not the recipe that's special. It's the food.

So eat up. Enjoy. And remember that if you and I are to ever become new friends, I might lie and tell you something like, "Sure, I've run with the bulls. It was no big deal." Just don't make me pull out the pictures to prove it. I'll just be embarrassed.

Let me know what you think!

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 (4 1/2- to 5-lb. ) whole chicken
2 celery ribs, cut into 3 pieces each
2 carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
2 1/2 to 3 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
2 (10-oz.) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican-style chili powder*
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
12 (6-inch) fajita-size corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1. If applicable, remove giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use. Rinse chicken.

2. Place chicken, celery, carrots, and salt in a large Dutch oven with water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 50 minutes to 1 hour or until chicken is done. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from broth; cool 30 minutes. Remove and reserve 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Strain any remaining cooking liquid, and reserve for another use.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add bell pepper and garlic, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in reserved 3/4 cup cooking liquid, cream of mushroom soup, and next 5 ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 minutes.

4. Skin and bone chicken; shred meat into bite-size pieces. Layer half of chicken in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with half of soup mixture and 1 cup Cheddar cheese. Cover with half of corn tortilla strips. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

5. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Jul 27, 2010

I Know, I Know.

"You're blog is really suckin' wind these days."

And so began my mini-vacation out of town last weekend with the AG. We had not been in the car, alone and childless, an average of 15 minutes before he told me the three things wrong with my blog:

1. You have a picture of Remi up on your blog. You do not have a picture of Rocco. Oh, and Remi is no longer nine months old.

2. You only post once or twice a week.

3. And when you do post it is really lame stuff having to do with being a mom or making dinner or something.

Oh. I'mmmmmmmmmmmm sorry. How positively silly of me to not post my latest tales of suspense and espionage when I met with Castro last week. Can you believe I forgot to post my findings when I went deep sea diving in the Gulf? Did you not see me catching flames last night on America's Got Talent?

Silly me.

This whole summer has been a blur what with the....what with the.....with the uh.....hmmm.....yeah, I got nothing. Therefore this little blog here has got nothing.

Yes, I want to write about how the key lime pie in Key West Florida is as good as I've always heard it to be. But instead I have to write how happy I am there is now a McDonalds opened up in Wal-Mart so the kids can eat apple dippers while I try to shop.

Of course I want to tell lavish stories of how the girls and I went window shopping for hours on end during our New York getaway. But truth be told, the closest I've been to New York was Houston, the closest to window shopping I got was when that homeless man cleaned our car windows with newspaper, and the most I've done with girls was a Starbucks run. (If nothing else, we're caffeinated.

You know I want to tell you all about my experience judging on So You Think You Can Dance - but the nearest I came to that was laying on the couch in my bathrobe while two children climbed on me and made remarks like, "Have 'oo brushed 'ur teef?" and "bref stinky," while I yelled things like, "You call that a cha-cha? I'll show you a cha-cha."

So, let's see, AG: Why do we think it is our blog doth stinketh?

Maybe if I got away more often. Alone. Without children. Or you. And showered. Maybe I would feel more like writing.

Or maybe if even one day a week someone made ME a sandwich with marshmallow creme or stuck a little straw through a juice pouch and handed it to me, I wouldn't "suck wind" as you say.

Better than all that? Someone start school back. Please!

Because as much as I enjoy swimming every day with my kiddos (and I actually do), as much as I enjoy taking them to the summer dollar movie and getting that $1 popcorn (and I love it) or stopping for a sno-cone on a hot day (and I think you know how I feel about sno-cones), what I really enjoy is the first day that school has started back and preschool is in session. And I find myself alone in my house.
And I shower.
And crawl under my sheets.
And suck wind.

Jul 20, 2010

Mate and Ali. (You get it? It sounds like the old TV show, Kate and Allie? Get it?)

So I am finally going to write about The Bachelorette, because, well, to be honest, I finally care.

Now that isn't to say that I have missed an episode. Trust me, I haven't missed one second of one episode because I have that little of a life. But as I mentioned once before I just haven't been completely enthralled with Ali as The Bachelorette. Sure, she's as cute as a button, she can wear the heck out of a maxi dress, and my head starts to sweat just looking at those hair extensions - but I just haven't been enraptured like I was hoping to be. I think it's because I tend to like the reality TV dramatics of women vying for the attention of one man, versus the reality TV back-patting of the men.

But I don't know, that's just me.

But then there was Monday night. The night Ali went to Tahiti with her last three men. Aaaaaahhhhhhh Tahiti. Here is a run-down of my thoughts:

- Dear ABC, there has not been one cheesy thing this entire season...unlike last season when you had On The Wings of Love playing every time Jake kissed a girl...until Tahiti. Why, oh, why did you have the scene with Ali coming up out of the water and throwing her hair extensions far enough back to sprain something? I haven't seen a move like that since Flashdance or that one weekend we got that free preview weekend and the AG didn't know what we were watching. (Until we did. And then we changed the channel. Quickly.) Who is your cheese director? Fire them.

- Oh, Frank. You dumped her. You dumped The Bachelorette. Now that has surely never happened before and I'm sure it made for lots of back-patting at the local pub. And Frank, let me go on record as saying I'm a sucker for love. I really am. I actually felt for your ex-girlfriend when you went to meet with her and I could tell that the two of you genuinely cared for one another. But my question is, have you ever heard the phrase "hedging your bets?" Well, that is what you were doing. Frank, what you essentially did was the same as the employee who doesn't leave one job until he is sure he has the other one and then leaves the same day as he gets the news: no warning, no notice, no nothing. Has it been done a million times? Yes. Is it wrong? Yes. Should you do it to your employer on national television? I'm thinkin', no.

- Chris, run. Run fast. Run far. Because you, my slightly goofy friend, are in this much deeper than she is. Now maybe I'm wrong and she picks you. But I'm not usually wrong about these things. I saw Vienna coming (and going) from a mile away and I knew Ed and Jillian would last forever. Oh, wait. They didn't. Well, moving on........your heart is about to be broken sweet lass. Because she looks at you exactly like I look at my Golden Retriever, You are so pretty, you are so sweet, thank you for being great with my children, now please stop licking yourself and trying to eat my headband.

- Roberto, if it doesn't work out with Ali, I'd like you to meet my cousin Meridith. She's sweet, she's got cute little freckles like Ali, and though she's never watched a baseball game in its entirety she was once quoted as saying in regards to you, "I'd slide into his home any ol' time."

So I'd love to hear your thoughts on all things Bachelorette. Unless they are not in total agreement with mine, then I prefer you not leave a comment. Okay, you can, you can!

Let the dishing begin!

Jul 19, 2010

What You Might Have Heard Had You Been A Fly On The Wall...

So Remi has been sick all weekend. Which I am just going to tell ya, is NO FUN for me. And though she has been pretty pitiful that is still no reason for her to watch the TBS version of Big Momma's House 2 and then continually refer to me as Big Momma. I hate TBS.

So here are a couple of things the Attorney General and I heard being said in our home as Remi was under our watchful eye. You may be wondering where Rocco was, so are we. Either he's being a really good boy or he vanished three days ago and we've yet to notice; Remi can command an audience when she's sick, I'm not gonna lie. So wish us luck, won't you? My plan was to enroll Remi in the First Christian Church's preschool VBS this week. Which goes to prove the long-held belief that those First Christian's really know how to pray. I can only think this was their doing.

Me: Baby, what would make you feel better?

Remi: If Santa Claus would come tonight.


Me: If you're good at the doctor's office. I'll get you a surprise.

Remi: What kind of surprise?

Me: Whatever you want. A milkshake or a coloring book or a Sonic drink or a little toy.

Remi: What do you get if your good?

Me: I get a surprise too.

Remi: But just like last time we can't have one bite can we?

Me: Right. Same rules apply.


Remi: Mama, do rice krispy treats make you better?

Me: Uhhhhhhhhh....yeah....kinda.


Me: Honey, will you get me some more tea?

AG: I have filled up your glass, ironed your shirt, vacuumed the floor and bathed the kids. Why exactly am I tending to you?

Me: Because Remi is sick. And when she's sick I tend to her and you tend to me.

AG: And who tends to me?

Me: Take it up with the Big Guy.


Me: Remi, when we get to the doctor's office we will not be seeing Dr. G. He is not there today. He must be out of town.

Remi: Does he not know I'm coming?

(20 minutes later)

Remi: (to the nurse) Is Dr. G here?

Nurse: No, he is not here today.

Remi: Well, give me a phone and let me call him. I know his daughter.

Nurse: Well, I don't think we should bother him - he might be with his daughter.

Remi: I know. So do you have a phone?

Nurse: I do, but let's give him the day off, whaddayasay?

Remi: I say okay.

(Nurse walks out.)

Remi: And I say "RUDE!"


After our doctor's visit...

Remi: So mama when I get home can I still have a cookie and another rice krispy treat?

Me: Remi, why don't you finish your Snickers first. And no, after that you need to have something good.

Remi: This is good.

Me: I know it's good. But I mean you need to have something good for you - not bad.

Remi: This is bad for me?

Me: Yep.

Remi: Will it make me have bad faces and talk bad?

Me: No, it's not bad like that it's....

Remi: Then I'm eatin' it.

Jul 15, 2010

Dear Britany and Whitney, Meet Mel.

I'm not the first one to say this, I'm sure, but...


This man has lost his mind. He has absolutely, unequivocally lost his sanity. And I say this knowing full well my phone could ring at any second and it would be him assuring me of his plan to kidnap me in the middle of the night and sell me to a hot dog vendor in hell. I mean, he's that crazy.

Which is a shame because I loved me some Brave Heart.

But then again I also loved knowing he had been married for 30+ years to the same woman. I loved knowing that he had seven children with the same woman and he was a very present father to all of them. I also loved his movies and when he would go on Jay Leno and act so jovial and playful. I also loved when he was on Oprah with Julia Roberts doing publicity for Conspiracy Theory and he seemed so likable and funny.

But the ranting, raving, cursing, hitting and threatening to kill his girlfriend and bury her in the back yard? Not loving that so much.

Though I have never been more impressed with his acting abilities than I am now. Apparently his acting is beyond top-notch if this madness is what he's been shielding us from all these years. Bravo, Mel. Bravo.

Years ago right after Britany shaved her head I remember the AG asking me, "Who will it be next? Who do you think will be the next celebrity to lose their marbles?" I have to tell you my bet was on Mariah and that dude from NCIS, so I was so sad when Whitney Houston lost her way. Again and again and again. And I'm sad that in doing so she lost her voice.

There's a good chance Mel just lost his too. No more standing for a cause. No more helping the helpless. No more movies with a message. No more movies with a Messiah. You may have lost your voice this time, Mel, by not being able to control it.

What would Jim Caviezel say about all this?

Jul 12, 2010

Aaaahhhrighty Then.

Laugh at me. Go ahead. Get a good, hardy laugh at my expense. I don't care. I have absolutely no pride left.

So go ahead.

Several weeks ago you may remember that the women in my family had sort of an intervention for me regarding my undergarments. It went sorta like this (though I will admit, I'm paraphrasing)...

"Melissa, tame your beasts."

"Melissa, what are you wearing under there? Anything? Are you wearing anything at all?"

"Melissa, I will give you $100 right now if you will go buy some Spanx for pete's sake. And a bra. For the love of mercy buy a bra!

Now for the record I would like to state that I own a bra. Several of them.

- I have that one that fits like a glove but is almost seven years old and if someone looked at it just right it would burst into a million pieces. It's old. It's ugly. It has a stain from some sort of chili incident a few years back. But I love it.

- Then I have the one that feels exactly like I am being persecuted for my beliefs. It hurts. It has like, sixteen snaps or buttons on it and it appears to be made out of the same titanium China is smuggling. I hate it with all my heart but my Granny bought it for me becuase I "look like I'm about to kill over" according to her and I'll be honest, if I need to wear a dress where my oobies touch the sky - this is my go-to bra.

- Then I have the white, black and grey work out bras. They are comfortable and they love me because I have never been mean to them and made them work out.

- And lastly I have the hidous purple thing my friend T bought me because she thought I needed some spice in my life. It looks like she ripped it off a streetwalker in Transylvania. It fits me absolutely nowhere. T says this is the point.

Until now.

Ladies, allow me to introduce you to.......


(The name is corny. I didn't come up with it.)

But you know what I love even better than a wire-free, comfy bra? A good infomercial.

What can I say? I'm a sucker.

So Sunday when I saw the infomercial for the Aah Bra I knew I had to have it. It promises everything girls want in a bra; it doesn't clamp or pull or tug or sweat or pinch or poke or sag. And yet it holds and firms and de-bulges and smoothes. Am I in a dream?

So I ordered one. Actually I ordered three. Don't laugh, they were buy one get two free. (Which the AG says is a bad sign, but what does he know. He prefers that hideous purple thing.) So don't be hatin' on me for getting the Aah Bra before any of you! And certainly don't hold your breath that I'll be modeling it. Just suffice it to say that if it doesn't work and it still looks like I'm carrying deer meet around my neck (my mother's words, not mine) the women in my family will speak up. You can count on that.

And then I'll make them go with me to find the perfect bra - and that will be another post in itself.

Jul 11, 2010

7 Days Makes One Weak.

So I took last week off from blogging so the fam and I could go to the beach. And I have never been more exhausted in my life.

Perhaps someone, somewhere wrote that the beach is relaxing and enjoyable and to be delighted in by all manners of people; but I believe that person to be without three things:
1. children
2. grandparents
3. sense

When locked up in a beach house for seven days, make sure that you don't forget the Spf 50, a beach ball and (please excuse my language) a buttload of wooden spanking spoons. I forgot the wooden spanking spoons and found one of my children begging me to "please don't try to spank me with that cake thingy again." It was a cake server; not one my proudest moments.

Last week we spent four of the seven days inside a beach house while it poured rain. We had made the mistake of packing the fridge with things we thought might be worked off while building sand castles, swimming or playing outside. So a refrigerator full of Kool-Aid, Dr. Pepper, Chips Ahoy and Little Debbie's made for some pretty looooooong afternoons stuck inside. Add to that a set of grandparents who thought everything my kids did or said or tried was just wonderful and miraculous...

"I think it's cute how he spits on your Aunt Melba."

"Don't worry about them, Melissa. Playing in the street helps a child's confidence."

"Look how she hangs him over the balcony; she's strong!"

Of course I make fun and all sorts of snarky comments, but if you only knew that a week-long vacation with my family makes for some pretty memorable moments. Ones I wouldn't trade for anything to be totally honest. Like how on Wednesday we spent all morning with my dad before we remembered around noon that it was his birthday. We then decided to take him out for a nice seafood dinner and let him pay. He loves stuff like that!

Or how we decided to take in The Rain Forest Cafe on Thursday night, which was like saying, "hey, let's all go down to the Barnum and Bailey Circus and take acid!" Fuuuuuuun. Personally I think Satan is busy building one in his firey dominion right now as I write this.

But I am back and never the worse for wear. I would love for someone to leave me a comment and tell me how horrid their family vacation was - it makes me feel less alone. But if you can't, then tell me how wonderful its going, I like those stories, too.