THE Thing To Do

Howdy howdy! Happy Thursday! How’s everyone’s day starting off so far?

So last night was a wonderful evening – I got away from the computer and out of the house for a bit. Jay and I had to make a trip to the mall, so we headed out after eating a quick dinner of random leftovers from the fridge.

Now, it’s not very often that I can get hubster to go to the mall. Unless there’s something he needs (hence, our trip yesterday) I’ve pretty much just stopped asking him to go. I’ve decided I’d rather go by myself than listen to him complain.

But while we were there last night, for some reason, it totally brought me back to when we were younger. As teenagers in high school, going to the mall was one of “the” things to do (aka, one of the only things to do), so that’s where we’d be…pretty much every weekend. Usually after a dinner at TGIFridays, Pizzeria Uno, or Applebees.

100_0429That isn’t high school…but it is Applebees, circa 2007

I love thinking back to those days…knowing just how long ago they were (over 10 years!!) and knowing that Jay was a part of them. Awwww, aren’t I just the little sapster this morning? Winking smile

So after we were done at the mall last night, I was able to convince Jay to stop for some fro yo at another new-to-us place called Lemondrop. I had a Groupon, so he really couldn’t say no. Honestly? I think this is now my favorite fro yo spot. It was just sooooo good.

Conveniently enough, Lemondrop is located right next door to one of our other newest locations…

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So we walked on over since Jay still hadn’t had a chance to check it out. (P.S. – going at 9pm on a Wednesday night is PERFECT). We picked up a couple odds and ends, including THIS.

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Ohhhh, I know I probably shouldn’t have. I’ve heard people rave about this stuff. I know it’s going to be dangerous…but…I can’t help it. I want to bake with it in a bad way. Winking smile

******

So let’s fast-forward to this morning. I was up nice and early to attempt to get a head start on my day. I started by typing up and emailing out some client training plans, but about 10 minutes in, the power went out. Basically, the worst thing that could happen to me today…because not only did I still have seven more training plans to email out, but I also still have to frost four dozen cupcakes.

Rather than freak out, I decided to take care of a few things that didn’t require electricity, and as I started to do that, I was getting huuuungry. I really wanted oatmeal today, but I had no idea when the power would be back on, so I settled for a no-heat-required sweet breakfast quesadilla.

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It wasn’t exactly oatmeal, but it was better than I expected.

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My coffee on the other hand? I thought it’d be okay since I managed to put the pot on before the power went out, but by the time I got to it…lukewarm.

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Womp womp.

Of course, not five seconds after I came in to sit down to eat my breakfast…

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The power came back! Thank goodness. The first thing I did was warm up that coffee. The second thing I did (am doing?) is type up this post.

The next thing I’m going to do? Get workin’ on those cupcakes!

Question for the Morning:

What were some of “the” things to do when you were growing up (either in high school, middle school, etc.)?

Birthday Dinner & Homemade Thank You Brunch

I promise, I’m still here!  Sorry for no post last night – I was feelin’ a little lazy and sleepy when we finally got home, so let me get you guys all caught up.

Yesterday was a very special day — it was my mom’s BIRTHDAY, so Jay and I met up with her and my dad for a late dinner at one of their absolute favorite places: Applebees! :)

Happy Birthday Mom!!

By the time Jay and I got there, mom and dad already got the party started with some nachos – Jay and I happily helped them out.  They were pretty decent – I did a lot of picking at the crumbs. ;)

For me entree, I picked an item off of their Under 550 Calories menu: Grilled Dijon Chicken & Portobellos, which was Marinated chicken breast grilled and topped with roasted red peppers, onions, portobello mushrooms, Dijon sauce, and aged cheddar cheese. Served with steamed herb potatoes and seasonal vegetables. It was REALLY tasty – quite impressive for under 550 calories! :)

And then there was the birthday dessert: Mom told me I could choose, so Chocolate Molten Lava Cake it was!

Our server was smart and brought out 4 spoons so we could all share, but I did a pretty decent job of licking the plate clean…

Oops, caught red handed ;)

It was a fun night being able to hang out with Mom & Dad – they’re always such great company! :-D

So TODAY started nice and early and has been BUSY BUSY BUSY!  We have a few friends over helping Jay and I out with some landscaping — we’re revamping our entire front yard!!  Yes, it’s going to be quite a project, but I’m so excited at how things are going to turn out (we got some gorgeous stuff!)  I’ll give you guys a little preview of our “before”:

*This was actually “my” side that I was supposed to weed out — oops** :oops:

As a thank you for the boys coming over to help, I cooked up a little “Thank You” brunch!

Fresh Watermelon

Egg Strata (see recipe below)

Overnight French Toast (see recipe below)

My plate (I actually went back for another slice of the french toast too) ;)

The bottom of this french toast is out of this world good!

This meal has actually become a Christmas tradition for me and my family.  I first got the recipes for the eggs & french toast in my 7th grade home & careers class, and the tradition just kind of “stuck”.  I’ve now found new reasons to make it, such as today!  They are seriously two of my favorite breakfast recipes: they’re so easy to make, AND you make them the night before so it makes for an easy peasy prep in the morning — so let me share them with you! :)

Egg Strata

Ingredients:

2 slices whole wheat bread, cubed

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup diced peppers

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup chopped cooked ham (you can just ask for a chunk at the deli counter)

6 eggs, remove 2 yolks (*you can also incorporate egg substitute as well, and it tastes just as good – this batch actually had 1/2 cup egg substitute, 2 eggs, and 2 egg whites)

1 cup milk (or 1 cup evaporated milk or 3/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream)

paprika

Directions:

  1. Grease 9″ square baking pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Layer first 6 ingredients in pan.
  3. Beat eggs and add your milk (or whichever milk mixture you choose). Pour over layered ingredients.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Set out for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.

Overnight French Toast

Ingredients:

2 tbsp corn syrup (light or dark)

1/2 cup butter or margarine (I used 5 tbsp and it tasted perfectly fine!)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 loaf unsliced French bread

8 eggs, remove 3 yolks (*you can also use egg substitute – I’ve done many different combinations, and they’ve all turned out fine – today’s was 1/2 cup egg substitute, 3 eggs, and 3 egg whites)

1-1/2 cups milk (*any milk will do – I used 1 cup skim milk + 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. In small saucepan, combine corn syrup, butter and brown sugar and simmer until syrupy. Pour this mixture over the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg.
  3. Slice the bread into 20-24 slices and dip in the egg mixture until well coated.
  4. Place the bread, vertically, over the sugar mixture in the baking pan.
  5. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread. Cover dish and put in refrigerator overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake, covered for 40, then uncover and bake for 5 more minutes (*this keeps the tops from getting too crunchy and the sugar mixture less sticky).
  7. Serve hot or warm, or the French toast will harden in the pan.

Time to back and check out the landscaping!! :)

Question of the Afternoon:

What traditions do you and your family or friends carry over from year to year?