Monday, October 19, 2009

Koolickles & Poppy Seed Chicken

One of my new favorite snacks are Koolickles.
My mom told me about this little treat after watching an episode of Alton Browns on the Food Network. She remembered that it called for "the big jar of dill pickles, two packets of cherry Kool-Aid, and a couple cups of sugar". Intrigued, I looked at the Food Networks website but wasn't able to find the recipe anywhere. So, I decided to wing it.
My first attempt at the Koolickles I just got a normal sized jar of dill pickle spears, dumped in one packet of cherry flavored kool-aid, some sugar (didn't measure), shook the jar until it was all well mixed, and put it in the fridge. They came out okay, Grandma liked them, but I wasn't overly impressed.
However, I did like them enough to give it another try. This time I decided to follow my moms loose recollection of the recipe a little closer and I got the big 80 ounce jar of dill pickle spears and two packets of cherry kool-aid. I removed all of the spears from the jar, leaving the brine, and added the packets of kool-aid. The only dilema was how much sugar to add. I decided to follow the guidelines on the kool-aid packets and added two cups, put the lid back on the jar and shook the heck out of it until it was all well mixed and it appeared as though the kool-aid and sugar were both completely dissolved. I put the spears back in the jar, and put it in the fridge. This was this past Friday night, I had my 9 year old cousin for the weekend and it was a fun project for us to do together.
Tonight, Monday, we sampled the Koolickles. HUGE hit. They were much better than the first batch even though they haven't sit for as long as is recommended. Before writing this post I decided to Google the recipe rather than to just rely upon the loose interpretation provided by my mother and found this recipe.

I know it sounds weird - cherry pickles - but trust, they are tasty. The only other variation I may try is to use Splenda in place of sugar because I'm sure my diabetic sister would like these.

The other cooking project I did with my younger cousin was my famous (okay, so its not really "famous", but my Grandma loves it as does my mom and now my younger cousin... so, its getting there) "Poppy Seed Chicken".
A while back I read a cooking tip that recommended using ranch dressing in place of an egg bath for homemade chicken nuggets. I thought that sounded delicious and was anxious to try it, BUT Grandma doesn't like ranch dressing. The only salad dressing that Grandma likes is Maries Creamy Poppyseed. A light bulb went off.
Take your chicken pieces (breast, thigh, leg, all work equally well - the only piece I haven't tried this with is wings) and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper then place in a marinade of creamy poppyseed dressing - I use about 1/2 a bottle of Kraft brand simply because it's cheaper than the Maries brand. I typically allow this to marinade for about an hour.
Once the chicken pieces are done marinading, dredge the chicken pieces in a mixture of Italian Seasoning flavored bread crumbs and shredded parmesan cheese - the good stuff in the little tubs, not the crap in the can on the shelf in the pasta should NEVER use that stuff for anything.
Bake the chicken on a cookie sheet. Heres where my grandma thinks I'm weird, when I cook meats of any kind I almost always start off at a low temperature, in this case 200F, for about 45 minutes, THEN I turn the heat up to 400F until the juices run clear when cut. I really need to time this some time - I think I cook it at 400F for another 30 minutes, but I could really be off here. The reason I start off with the lower temperature is that it seems to start the cooking process without drying out the meat. I read this technique somewhere and it stuck with me, I don't know how accurate it is but its worked well for me the majority of the time.
Whenever I make this chicken it gets rave reviews, my grandmother will talk about it for a couple of days afterwards. I think thats a clue that I need to start making it more frequently.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Technology I Want

We're all familiar with my technology killing skills, I've covered it ad nauseum. So much so that I'm not going to bother linking back to all of the individual instances... either that or I'm just too lazy to look up all of the past links. Potato, potatoh.
Anywhoosits, the curse has not been broken.
Back in April I reconciled to the fact that I could not afford the new MacBook of my dreams so I took a portion of my tax refund and purchased a cheap ass netbook. Seriously cheap - the thing was less than $300 with tax and everything and it worked like a dream. For two weeks. Seriously, two weeks. Then the thing wouldn't turn on. I took it back to Best Buy where they easily exchanged it for a new one of the same model. That one looked like a dream... for three months. Seriously, what the hell is wrong that everything technological I touch goes up in smoke... that reminds me, I have another computer story to tell you... you are going to shit.
So when the second netbook crapped out on me, I took it back to Best Buy. Unfortunately it was beyond the 30 day warranty through the store so they offered to run diagnostic on it... for $200. Thats right, two thirds of what I paid for the thing. If it was a software issue I would have to pony up whatever additional monies would be needed to fix it, and you know that would be in excess of $100, effectively paying for the thing ALL OVER AGAIN. However, if it was a hardware issue the netbook would be sent back to the manufacturer for them to either repair or replace and then I would have to try to get my $200 for the diagnostic back from the manufacturer. So far I've said screw it and the thing is being a very highly priced paperweight at this time.
Now, get ready to shit.
A while back my office was painted AND the carpets were replaced. Naturally, the office was rather smelly for a while from the paint and the carpet glue. Then a few weeks later I'm sitting at my desk and notice a weird chemically smell. It only lasted about 10 minutes, then went away. Then a few days later the smell comes back for just a few minutes, then goes away again. Since they were brief I thought that maybe they were residual odor from the carpet glue or something. Both times I just brushed it off. THEN one day the odor pops up again and doesn't go away, it keeps getting stronger. I finally turn to a manager who sits near me and ask "Do you smell this"?
He comes over to my desk and says "Holy crap, get away I think your computer is on fire - that smells like an electrical burn".
He runs off to get our facility guys.
I'm standing there trying to process this. My computers on fire? Bullshit. My computer can not possibly be ON FIRE. Seriously.
Our two facility guys show up, one of them pulls out the tower and the other one looks at the back of it and says "Crap!" and immediately just starts yanking out all of the various cords.
Apparently the exhaust fan thingy had died and my computer was doing some sort of slow electrical burn. Not exactly ON FIRE, but not exactly NOT on fire either.
So, my work computer was replaced and the one I have now is archaically slow. Seriously, what is it with me and faulty electronics?

Anygeek, I've compiled a list of the four technological products I want. Any bets on how long it would take for me to kill all of them?

iPod Touch

Ahhhh.... 64GB of music, game, and app goodness.
The benefits of an iPhone - apps, wifi, etc - without having to switch my phone carrier to AT&T.
It's only $399

MacBook Pro

15" anti-glare wide screen display
3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
4GB memory
500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
3 year protection plan (Because, seriously, if ANYONE needs a protection plan for their computer, it would be me)
This gems only $3,067 (with the protection plan and upgrades)

Nikon D5000

12.3 MP of Nikon goodness with a nifty flip out swively display for $679


Streaming my Netflix AND Amazon Video on demand? Aaaaaaawesome! I could watch the current season of Dexter without paying for premium cable! Saweeeeet!
All for just $99!

So, it all adds up to just $4,244. Why the hell can't I win the Lottery?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Time, No Blog

Yeah, I've been caught up in the middle of all of the drama with my niece.

I can't exactly say that things have gone badly, but I also can't say that they've gone the way that I wanted them to.

Kylee has been placed with her paternal great-aunt, she came down from Idaho for the time being and my mom and I get weekend visits.

My sister is doing well, she is in a residential rehab facility that is designed for women with children so there are other mothers there and a couple of them have their children in the house with them. My sister could potentially have Kylee in the house with her later down the road. I'll admit, at first I was a little apprehensive at the thought of Kylee going into a rehab house but I have met all of the women in the house and I am a little more comfortable with the thought of it now.
Overall, she is doing really well with her recovery - I am very proud of how far she has come so far and trust that she is on the right path to getting herself together to be reunited with her daughter and make a life for the two of them.
My nieces father is a different story. He was supposed to go into rehab the same day that my sister did but didn't check himself in until over a week later, and that was only after several people talked him into it. He was there less than two weeks until he just walked out one night and he has missed two court dates. He's supposed to have gone back into rehab over a week ago but still has not. I am very conflicted on this.
Overall, I know that as long as he continues the way he is that he will not be a good father to Kylee and that it may be better for him to not be involved in her life.
However, this makes me incredibly sad. I know firsthand what it is like to grow up without a father and I hate hate hate the thought of her going through that. I know what its like to wonder why he wasn't around, to track him down as a teenager, not knowing if he had a whole other family, not knowing if he would accept me or how my sudden appearance would affect this whole other hypothetical family and what their reaction to me would be. I really don't want Kylee to have to go through that. I hope that he gets his act together so that she doesn't have to go through that.

To leave you on a CUTE note, here are some of the ADORABLE photos I've taken of Kylee on a couple of our recent visits.