Sunday, October 29, 2006

social event

This past Friday evening was interesting. I attended a "social event" where I work. This event was planned a few months ago with the hope that we could get to know our student workers a little better. Our original thinking was that since it was fall break, the students might be more likely to come to a "social event". Little did we know, however, that the Cardinals would be playing in the World Series in what turned out to be the final game of the series, and that most of our student workers had other plans, like family in town. So really the only people who came were those of us who have been working with each other for some time now and two students.

My husband, who is a super great guy, and who is always supportive of everything I do, was wonderful to come with me to this event even though these types of things can often be kind of awkward, and there was a World Series baseball game to watch. My co-workers and I all know each other in the work environment, but dynamics can change when the work is taken out of the picture, spouses are present and we are forced to interact on a social level. It was however a nice evening, complete with a fun game of "Bunco" with prizes, and all sorts of culinary delights. I know for sure that none of us went home hungry.

One of my new favorite appetizers to take to social events and one of the dishes I added to the food table for this event is a recipe I got off the web, but I added a little something to make it my own. And now I'll share it with you.

Spicy Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese

2- 13 oz cans chicken or 4 cooked chicken breast halves (diced)
1- 8 oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
3/4 Cup Ranch dressing
3/4 Cup Crystals hot sauce
3/4 crumbled blue cheese

Mix the cream cheese, dressing, and hot sauce together.
Add the chicken.
Spread in a 8X8 in baking pan and bake at 350* for 1 hour.
Sprinkle with blue cheese and serve with Fritos, Tortilla chips or crackers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shredded Kleenex?

Don't you just hate it when you accidentally leave a Kleenex in the pocket of something you're washing and when the load is finished everything is covered with Kleenex lint? I have to admit I've done it way to many times, probably more than I can count on both hands, because I almost always have a Kleenex in my pocket.

I always grab a tissue before leaving the house. I guess I have this fear that I'll get to wherever I'm going and my nose will start to run and all I'll have is my sleeve or the back of my hand or nothing. Either that or I'm turning into my mother. (Mom not only had a tissue in every pocket, but she also had one tucked in her sleeve). Well, in truth I think I turned into my mother a long time ago, but it's crazy how many times I've thrown clothes into the washer after having thoroughly checked every pocket of every item that has a pocket and still, I've missed that one illusive tissue. So when the load of laundry has gone through the spin cycle, that tissue that stayed so well hidden has now made itself very public on every single piece of clothing that is in that load. And it's especially bad if the load of laundry you've just washed along with the hidden Kleenex happens to be a dark load, because the dryer will get the big pieces of lint, but won't get the individual fibers that have become one with my black pants or my husbands black shirt. One has to either spend the next 30 minutes brushing or trying to shake lint off of every piece of clothing and/or wash the load all over again (although maybe without soap this time). And it doesn't stop there. After all of my shaking and brushing, the mess of Kleenex lint is now all over the laundry room and I have to get the vacuum cleaner and clean that up too. Maybe I should consider more seriously only using cotton handkerchiefs.

Weather's changing

Today is my day off from work and I usually take a long walk with the dog, but today it's kinda drizzly and cool and to be honest, I really didn't feel like taking a long walk. However, on the short walk I did take, I found much pleasure in the cool air and the sight of all the leaves covering the sidewalk and lawns. We've had a day or two cooler weather as the change of season has begun and it's felt a bit like autumn, but today it looks like autumn. There were a places, as I was walking, where there were golden and orange leaves all around me, like a tunnel of color. It was really beautiful, and it made me want to come home and make a pot of soup or bake some bread. So soup it is, and one of our favorites is a creamy broccoli cheddar soup that is very tasty and easy to make.

I first came upon the recipe in a cookbook called "Healthy Homestyle Cooking", but as with most recipes I use, I've tweaked it just a little bit to suit my family's tastes. So here's my "tweaked" version of Cream of Broccoli Soup.

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

6 Cups Chopped fresh or frozen broccoli pieces
3 Cups Chicken broth
2 Cups Evaporated Milk
2-3 Cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1 Tsp. Thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cook broccoli in chicken broth until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Using a food processor or blender, puree broccoli and chicken broth together and return it to the sauce pan. Add the Thyme.
Mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and stir into broccoli mixture. Cook and stir mixture until bubbly and thickened then slowly add the remaining evaporated milk. Add cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to desired taste. Makes about 4 servings.