Tag: dinner

Just Another Sappy Date Night Story

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In case you haven’t picked it up from the title up there, this is kind of a sappy story. It is also a perfect representation of how random things happen in our lives. Not just in bad ways that lead to disappointment. This is the positive side of how things work out for us in ways I can never predict.

We Had A Date Night!

Here is how date nights happen in the Brickie household.

We find out a friend is having a birthday party. We both want to go. After sacrificing a small animal to a pagan god (KIDDING) we make phone calls and pray someone will watch the kids. Thanks to the not-really-sacrificed animal my in-laws are free and able to watch the girls for a solid five hours on the night in question! We are going to a birthday party!

We find out Thursday the party has been cancelled for reasons beyond the birthday girl’s control. Boo, hiss.

We have a sitter and five hours on a Saturday Night… DATE NIGHT!

Now we panic because instead of the cost of a bottle of tasty vodka we have to figure out if we have it in the budget for both of us to eat food. We have a TGIFriday’s coupon but we really want to kick it up a notch. We decide we just aren’t in a place where we can kick it up a notch and are resigned to going to a chain and really we aren’t resigned we are happy because we haven’t been out together without the kids since New Year’s Eve.

Saturday morning we are happy and getting excited about being grownups out together being in love. We get two emails and manage to sell two pretty large things on Craigslist Saturday afternoon and take it as a sign we are supposed to go someplace a notch above a regular chain restaurant we had been perfectly happy with and almost convinced ourselves we really wanted.

I let Mr. Brickie pick the restaurant because I normally pick and I was feeling all nice so I was like, “Where you want to go, boo?” and he was all, “Mmmmm beer.” So we went to Rock Bottom Brewery. We shared a beer flight (shown in that pic above) and shared one big beer and he had shrimp and lobster enchiladas and I had fish and chips and we laughed and talked and had the best time just reconnecting and being two people remembering how awesome the other one is. The whole time not worrying because those two things we sold on Craigslist that paid for dinner were things we thought would never sell, so we celebrated that stuff being out of our house as much as we were celebrating each other.

Really, it was bliss.

Moments like that, the ones that happen so randomly, are the ones that keep us fueled for the day after day worry and disappointment. The nights where we smile and laugh and remember what an amazing team we are? Those are the ones I remember when I’m frustrated and tired and don’t want to do one more article/survey/story. He keeps me going with our inside jokes and overdone footsie-playing under the table ending in both of us laughing so hard our sides hurt.

He picked up the kids on time and they were happy and the 4yo ended up falling asleep on the couch while fighting not to leave because she wanted to play, “Just one more game…” He came home and told me everything that happened and how happy they were and what a great time they had. Icing on the date night cake, right?

My mom used to say, “It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man.”

Mr. Brickie is still worth the “richer and poorer” I promised eleven years ago. I have no idea how that’s possible, but there it is.

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Chicken Nugget Recipe (or, Let’s All Try Not to Get Salmonella!)

IMG_3185We had some chicken thighs hanging out in the fridge for a while (my “as snotty as they sell at Walmart” brand) and even though a very lovely, dear, kind, almost nun-like lady is shipping me an extra meat grinder for my KitchenAid, my cooking instincts told me this meat wasn’t going to last that long.

I decided to suck it up and just this one time use my super-amazing 2 cup chopper attachment that my KitchenAid immersion blender came with to process the chicken thighs into mush.

IMG_3186“Why would you be putting raw chicken into your immersion blender attachment?” I can hear someone ask. Not you, someone else. Someone far less cool than you. “Because I want to smear raw chicken on as many surfaces as possible, of course!”

I mean, life just isn’t fun without an element of danger. Right?

Oh. You probably want to know why I would be making my meat into mush in the first place. Well I was on Pinterest (I know, right?) and there was this recipe and it looked really good. You can find her Better Than Fast Food Chicken Nugget recipe here. She’s really good with a camera, too, so enjoy those glamour shots. You’re not getting that here. I use pictures to illustrate a point and so I use my iPhone camera. They’re not going to have writing on them but really, they get the point across.

After you stick the chicken thighs into the chopper they look like this:

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I put some chopped onions from the freezer and some minced garlic from the fridge into each round of chicken-whirring to try and kind of, I don’t know, enmesh the flavors into the raw chicken. Also, it made it smell less like raw chicken and that’s kind of a bonus right there.

The next part is the part that all you “I hate touching raw chicken” people are going to cringe about. It’s okay. I used to be one of those people, too, until I bought non-latex kitchen gloves and now I can touch whatever I want and look like a cast member of CSI while I do.

You have to make your chicken-mush into nuggets by taking some and smooshing it into a vaguely nuggety shaped glob.

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After that, you plop the little buggers into a bowl of lightly whisked egg-yolk. I do the separating of the whites and the yolks by hand, which I find super easy (especially with my magic golves of not-grodiness.) Immediately put them into a plate or bowl with a mixture of bread crumbs and parsley. (My breadcrumbs are Walmart generic and my pretty darn good parsley flakes are the Aldi brand.) If you check that link above to the original recipe she uses homemade breadcrumbs.

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I don’t live in a world of homemade breadcrumbs. I bet she does crafts. I will probably construct a complete fantasy world where she lives being amazing. All because of homemade bread crumbs. Words have power.

Okay, quick interlude. I know how to make homemade breadcrumbs. It’s just the thought of even having bread that went stale or letting bread go stale. I mean, my family growing up only let bread go stale on Thanksgiving and eventually my great-grandmother was like, “I don’t have time to wait for this bread to go stale on its own, let’s put it in the oven at like one degree for a hundred hours because that will save time.” You know what saves time for me on Thanksgiving? Bags of breadcrumbs. That’s just who I am.

So now that we’ve gotten my confessional out of the way, let’s move on to the part where I slowly kill my children by feeding them fried foods in an attempt to make sure they are greasy and fat when they get older, thus making me less likely to become a grandmother too soon.

We use peanut oil. I don’t know why, it was Mr. Brickies idea. Something about a smoke point. He probably said more but after smoke point I started giggling and making “Dude, Where’s My Car jokes.”  I put about a half inch into the pan. Also note I’m killing my family by using a dented nonstick pan because carcinogens or chemicals or something.

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Here they are, fresh from the oil right before I pat them down to get the excess oil off. They were crunchy and sort of tasty. The salt/pepper/garlic/onion didn’t really season it enough for my liking. I thought they were mostly bland. Which makes them great for dipping, just like a real nugget. I think. I’m not sure if that’s actually the point.IMG_3192

Side dishes were broccoli and homemade creamed corn. It was actually leftover regular corn but I put a splash of half and half and some flour in it and no one realized they were leftovers. (I’m not kidding.) I guess maybe I’m not trying to kill my kids if I’m insisting on two vegetables every night.

Oh wait, I made them homemade honey mustard for dipping. Honey, Miracle Whip, and Dijon Mustard. (1/2C Miracle Whip, 1/2C Honey, and 1/4C Dijon Mustard). It was tasty.

Here’s a recipe rundown if you want it:

Stuff You Need

  • Chicken Thighs (I think I used 2lbs. Mr. Brickie ate leftovers from everyone else. I could have used 1lb. and been fine but he’s a growing boy or something I guess.
  • Onion or Onion Powder
  • Garlic or Garlic Powder
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Breadcrumbs (however you want to make that happen)
  • Egg yolks (I saved all the whites and am making them into scrambled half-eggs in the morning for the girls for breakfast. Waste not or you’re dumb. Or wasteful.
  • Frying Pan
  • Oil
  • Paper towels

Grind up the chicken, spice up the chicken, make patty, dip in egg yolk, flop around in breadcrumb/parsley mixture, fry it up.

Watch your kids look at you as if you were the most amazing human being in the world because you made chicken nuggets and that’s pretty much the height of human creation in the mind of the average 8 year old.

Don’t worry. This isn’t turning into a food blog. I’m just sharing what’s up while I try to formulate an update about the budget that doesn’t make me look like a giant tool and an even more giant failure. It’s coming. Soon.

Crock-Pot Ground Beef Stew Recipe Madness

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The past few nights have been rough.

I would watch the preschooler during the day while Mr. Brickie worked. Then, Mr. Brickie would come home and take care of the kids while I worked.

Needless to say, he hates this arrangement.

When we first got together he was all, “I’m so liberal when it comes to relationships. ehrmagherd I would never have a problem with you working or doing whatever you wanted to.”

If he was the deep, introspective, know-thyself type he would have said, “I really don’t want to have a problem with you working but I will always be naturally happier when I am the one working and allowing you and our children to have leisure time. Also, until I can afford to provide a maid for my precious and wonderful family, can you keep the house clean while you’re at it?”

So tonight I’m giving us both the evening off. I am not going to work and I already have dinner in the crock pot so I don’t have to cook and he doesn’t have to cook.

Tonight’s Dinner: Slow Cooker Ground Beef Stew (a variation)

First, you’ll need to get some stuff out and lay it all over your counter. Or not. I cook that way because I just want to have everything at the ready when the cooking starts. I put things away when I’m done using them, so there’s really no extra mess with this method. Feel free to substitute willy-nilly as long as you sniff your herbs first to make sure the flavors match up and won’t come out like crap.

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Stuff List

  • Marjoram
  • Sage (don’t really use this, I mixed up the bottles. I thought it was the…
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper (Mine is Great Value because I’m hoity toity like that!)
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • A pound of ground beef of whatever kind you want.
  • 4 peeled and diced potatoes.
  • Can of Cream of Mushroom soup (or you can use homemade)
  • Corn, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, broth (I use fresh celery and garlic, process the onion with the cup attachment on my 2 cup immersion blender and get chopped garlic in a jar and my corn was from a can. My broth was a cup of water and a beef bullion cube. I used a can of diced tomatoes. You do you.)

Brown the ground beef in a pan. I know it seems stupid to use pans and cook so you can put some stuff all up in a slow cooker and then have to wait four hours after you already cooked in order to see the fruits (or stew) of your labor but you know what, I assume the original recipe calls for it that way because of some food-borne disease. I don’t mess with red meat.

While the meat is browning shake some spices on it. All the ones you took out (hopefully no sage but if you made the same mistake as I did just go with it). Remember, marjoram is powerful, powerful stuff so use a light hand for shaking. Keep sniffing the pan. When it smells awesome you can be done. Keep going until the meat is brown.

At this point, I take the beef out with a spoon and plop it right over into the Crock-Pot insert thingy. I leave the grease in because it’s flavor and really, there’s just not that much. I put the garlic, pulverized onion, carrot slices, pulverized celery (I threw that stalk in with the onions. I was SO over chopping after that carrot) and garlic in the grease in the pan and let it kind of sweat/cook/marinade/hang out for five or so minutes until the flavor is all over them and then I dump that whole mess into the Crock-Pot.

Next you dump your can of corn, can of tomato paste, diced potatoes, cup of water, and bullion cube in the crock. It looks something like this.

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Gross, right?

Three hours later it looks like this:

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Still not looking like the belle of the ball, but a lot more like stew than that first picture would lead you to believe.

The finished stew looks like this:

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It smells divine, and it’s like potpourri for three rooms of my house right now. Also, it’s making me really hungry. We are going to serve it with biscuits and call it a day.

Prep time on this was around a half hour and cook time is going to be six hours on low. Everything is safe to consume once it’s in the crock pot (because you already browned the beef) and I’m pretty sure the entire six hours is just to cook the diced potatoes.

So when my husband gets home I get to be all, “Oh, hey babe, guess what I did. I scheduled zero writing jobs for tonight and started dinner at, like, eleven this morning. Feel loved yet?”

He will. I promise you he will. He will tell you it’s because he was cold all day (he works outside most of the time) and is really looking forward to stew. You and I know better. It’s because I accidentally married someone who wants to be all traditional and junk.

There are far worse problems to have.