Monday, May 31, 2010

God's Country

I am going to give it to you straight, people: Kansas is highly overrated.

Don't try to argue with me or persuade me to think otherwise. You will not win. Do you know why? Because there is no more boring stretch of road in the entire U.S. of A. than that of I-70. It's like having a nightmare on a treadmill: you can't escape it and all you see are the same scenes over and over and over again. And to make it worse, you are already awake.

Leaving Denver, all you have to do is point your car east and you'll see what I'm talking about. I could have sworn I saw the same cow, the same hill, the same windmill and the same exact acre of wheat the previous mile. There is absolutely nothing on that stretch of road except for a turn-off to the world's largest prairie dog. How do you do it, Kansas-ites? Kansians? Kansans? How do you live like that? You are practically savages.

There is only one glimmer of hope in that vast wasteland of middle America (I know, it's the same wasteland that grows my wheat and raises my beef, but whatever). And this glimmer is called Colby, Kansas. It is a mere 45 miles past the state line and it boasts not only in having more than one gas station to choose from but it actually has...

wait for it...

wait for it...

A Starbucks!


Do you know how the mere thought of a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere can boost the moral of a car full of people? Do you know how important it is that this store is strategically located between "I think I have seen that tractor before" to "Let's turn around and head home?"

It is crucial, people! Without it, my Oklahoma family would never see their Colorado cousins. And that, my friends, would be a crying shame. A CRYING SHAME.

And of course, once we hit the lovely metropolis of Wakeeney and begin heading south, everything starts to look a little more beautiful. The hills are greener, the cows are fatter, the wheat is taller and my butt isn't nearly as flat as it used to be, having sat in the car for the last five hours. Heading south means you are heading toward the greatest state on the planet. Even a detour through Dodge City doesn't seem that bad because you know the Oklahoma line is only miles away.

And do you know what happened the minute we crossed the line, other than belting out the "Oklahoma" song? A farmer, in a big, old pick-up truck, waved at me.

That's right, he waved. As in he was glad to see me. As in he was saying, "Welcome to my state. Sure we have tornadoes. And sure we have rattlesnakes. But don't you worry. We have Sooner football, Braums and if that isn't enough, we aren't Kansas. Just sit back, relax and enjoy. This is God's Country."

Amen and amen.

I believe I will do just that.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trivia Question-o-Fun: OKLAHOMA

Hey peeps!

How are the Memorial Day cookouts coming along? Splendid, I hope! I am on the road headed to the great state of Oklahoma! I love that state. It's my favorite.

So, in honor of the waving wheat and all the jazz, it's time for our next trivia question.

Are you ready?

Here are the rules:
1. The first person who answers correctly, wins.
2. Please email all answers to
3. Good luck, you smarty pants.

Question: Name the Five Civilized Tribes. These tribes were part of the Trail of Tears and were forced to relocate in Oklahoma.

Okay, get to it! I'm off to eat some homemade ice cream and look for tornadoes. Oh, and pick out a really cool Oklahoma gift for the winner.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe Round-Up: Triple Chocolate Brownies

When the Friday of a holiday weekend is combined with a recipe that calls for copious amounts of chocolate, wonderful things happen.

When you combine a holiday weekend and triple chocolate brownies with a trip to Oklahoma, I'm pretty sure I have discovered utopia and I don't ever want to leave. No not ever.

Please give me a moment as I bask in my utopia-ness...

Thank you.

Now, these brownies are a new recipe for me. I made them for my dear friends who just had one of the world's cutest babies and brought coffee ice cream to serve with it.

Um, yes please.

And I'm pretty darn sure these brownies could bring world peace. I am thinking I will send a batch with Hillary the next time she decides to go to Iran. I figure it is the least I can do to make sure we avoid nuclear disaster. And no dictator worth his salt is going to pass up a brownie!

So, let's mix these suckers up, shall we? I would hate for your holiday weekend to continue without them or for world peace to come to screeching halt because of my lack of promptness.

Here is what you need for the brownies:

Milk, Flour, Sugar, Cocoa, Baking powder, Baking soda, Butter, Eggs, Vanilla, Salt and Chocolate chips (I used E. Guittard Milk Chocolate Wafers, but you can use any kind of chocolate you want!)

In a saucepan, combine sugar...


Side Note: Chocolate count #1

And put it on the stove to melt.

Melt over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Pour it into a mixing bowl and get ready for magic to happen.
Side note: If the butter is not fully incorporated with the sugar, do not panic! Once you begin adding ingredients, it will get mixed in.

Okay, add two of these.

And stir a little...

Add a little vanilla, and stir a little more.

Now it's time for the dry ingredients. Add a bit of salt...


Baking powder...
Side note: Pay no attention to the fact that my baking powder is glowing. The sunlight hit my metal measuring spoon and nearly blinded me. Don't worry, I'm okay.

And his fiercest competitor, baking soda.

Now, start to mix slowly...

And add the milk as you go.

And there you have it!
Side note: I could live on batter alone. I am not kidding.

But wait, we're not done! Add in your chocolate chips. You decide how much you want.
Side note: Chocolate count #2

Doesn't the world already seem more peaceful?

Now, grab a 9x13 pan and pour. I used two 8x8 pans so I could take one to my friends and keep one for myself.
What's that? Oh yes, the STUPID INTERNATIONAL FITNESS CHALLENGE OF DEATH totally approves of me having my own pan of brownies. Check the rules if you don't believe me.

Now, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes and prepare for your house to smell AMAZING.

I would like to introduce you to my hot date for the evening.

Okay, let this cool and get crackin' on the icing.

Start with a small saucepan and add unsweetened chocolate (I used both cocoa powder and a 1 ounce square because I had both in my pantry) and a few tablespoons of shortening and put on stove.
Side note: Chocolate count #3

Let it melt and remove from heat.

Next up, add salt, vanilla and powdered sugar.

And mix in milk to even it out.

And when you have done all of that, you will have the BEST FROSTING IN THE WORLD.
IN THE WORLD, people.

Go ahead, take a taste. Or four.

Put a big dollop on your brownies and grab your offset spatula or knife and go to town.

Hurry up, your taste buds are screaming at you.

See? One for you, one for me. I love how that works.

What's the big deal? World peace isn't that hard.

Here is the recipe for you:

For Brownies:
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips (or however much you want!)
Optional: walnuts or pecans

For Frosting:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk (or more if you want frosting to be thinner)

Directions: Grease 9x13-inch pan (or two 8x8-inch pans) and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, heat sugar, butter and cocoa powder over medium heat until butter melts, stirring constantly. Pour into mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to wet ingredients. Stir while adding milk slowly. Stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and nuts

Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool.

For Frosting: In a small saucepan, melt unsweetened chocolate and shortening over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Slowly pour in milk and stir until smooth consistency and glossy. Add more milk if needed. Frost cooled brownies and eat triumphantly!

COMING UP: Trivia Question-o-Fun with a great prize from the fabulous state of OKLAHOMA! Questions will be posted soon!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, my friends!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Bunch of Weirdos

Once upon a time there was this family.

From all outward appearances, they looked normal.

They knew exactly how to pose for a picture.

But in reality, they were a bunch of weirdos.

Abnormal. Nutty. Wacko. Weirdos.

Don't be fooled, people.

The End.

Eye Candy

My darling, wonderful, funky sister sent me this picture:

Darn her.

How in the world can "Chuck" look so stinking great in such a ridiculous shirt?

It is a mystery we may never solve but I am oh-so glad I have a picture of it.

I still heart the guy who plays Chuck.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ferris Bueller

I have a brother named Ferris Bueller.

What are the odds, right?

Just kidding, his name is Sam. But he might as well be Ferris Bueller. He has always been the kind of guy that can do anything, get away with everything, and at the end of the day, everyone is just happy to be around him.

I, on the other hand, am like the sister (It's Jean, but most guys call me Shauna). I try all day to find a fault and get him in trouble, but in the end, I'll do anything to help him get away with it.

What is up with that? It is a weird, twisted world I live in.

Anyway, there isn't anyone on the planet that makes me laugh more than him. I am powerless. Truly, I can't fight back to save my life. I just giggle and giggle. It's ridiculous.

When we were younger and we would get into arguments, my dad would make us hold hands. HOLD HANDS, people. Do you know how traumatizing that is for an eight and a ten-year old? I am pretty sure it warped me.  But, it was also highly effective. There is nothing that ruins your social life more than holding hands with your brother.

That is still true today, by the way.

Somehow we survived our adolescence and moved into the painful years of high school.  Even though he was the heartthrob of many teenage girls and played every sport on the planet, and I was the nerd who studied all the time and had her nose broken in the middle of her junior-year musical, he stopped telling everyone I was adopted.

I considered that progress.

And on my 16th birthday, when I was in the throes of insecurity and awkwardness, he brought in a huge box of cupcakes my mom had made and sang to me.

Sure, Ferris Bueller may have sang in downtown Chicago, but that is nothing compared to singing in the middle of a high school cafeteria. The stakes are high and reputations are on the line.

And for that reason, it could very well be one of my favorite moments in all of history.

Danke schön, big brother.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Birthday Girl

I have this friend and her name is Lizz. She makes me laugh. A lot.

She's spontaneous, fun, profoundly deep, loyal, passionate and insightful. She introduced me to my pink golf clubs, helped me fall in love with praline ice cream pie and she nudges me to lighten up and enjoy life just a bit more. Plus, she is the most generous person I know.

And guess what? Lizz had a birthday party this weekend and it was A-MAZING. It involved rented vehicles, gourmet cupcakes, and a dog that looked like a horse.

Don't worry, I'll write all about it.

And do you know what she wants me to give her for her birthday? My undivided attention to help her sort through her stuff and figure out what stays and what goes.

Not only does that fit perfectly into my budget, but it also feeds into my organizational craziness and my love for a good garage sale.

And here are Lizz and I together at a Rockies game last summer. And that's all the pictures I have us because she doesn't share very well.

But hopefully she'll grow out of that this year.

But I hope she never grows out of her ability to make my life so much brighter.

Happy Birthday, my friend! I am so glad you were born.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Recipe Round-Up: Soy-Glazed Asparagus with Pecans

I love Fridays. I especially love Fridays when the forecast calls for 80 degree weather. And I love all the yummy food that goes with this season.

So, let's bust out some asparagus, shall we?

This dish is pretty spectacular! It is tangy and refreshing, perfect for the summer. You must try it this weekend because I promise it will make you want to sing a little ditty.

And like most of my recipes, it is SO STINKIN' SIMPLE!

Here's what you need:

Asparagus, Pecans, Sugar, Olive Oil, Pepper,
Cider Vinegar and Soy Sauce.
That's it. Nothing else.

Here is the star of the show: asparagus.
Or as Wikipedia and I like to say, Asparagus officinalis.

Make sure the asparagus heads are firm and still clumped together. I heard that on the Food Network.

Snap the ends off. Just bend those suckers until they break.

And put on a pan of water to boil.

Drop them in. You don't want to cook them through, just until they turn bright green.This should only take 4-5 minutes.


Let's mix up the glaze!

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil...

A little bit of cider vinegar...

A little bit of soy sauce...

And some sugar. I have also used Splenda for this dish and it turned out great! Just add a packet/teaspoon at a time until it is the sweetness you like.

Next, grind up some pepper.
I love the sound of grinding up pepper. Weird, I know.

Okay, now it's time for some nuts. Grab a handful of pecans and chop them up.
Side note: I still love my knife. Thanks, siblings.

I love pecans.
Side note: My grandparents used to have a goat farm in Texas (that's right, you heard me) and in their front yard they had a huge pecan tree. I remember shelling pecans for hours and we would each take home huge sacks of them. I miss my grandparents and that tree...but not the goats.

Okay, throw those pecans in there and mix it all up. Make sure you let the sugar dissolve.

Now, quick! Go check on your asparagus!

Yep, they're ready! Perfect timing.

Now immediately throw them into an ice bath to stop the cooking. This helps them keep that bright green color.

After they are cooled, put them in a dish.
They have no idea what is about to happen to them...

They just became blissfully happy, that's what happened to them.
This is what asparagus were grown to do.

Pour the sauce and the pecans all over. Make sure everything is coated.

And there you have it! I dare you to eat one.
You can eat them at room temperature or you can pop them in the fridge. I love both ways.
Give this a whirl and let me know what you think!

But I do know one thing, your asparagus will never be the same.

Here is the recipe, my friends:
1 1/2 pound asparagus
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sugar (you can reduce this amount to 1/4 cup or use Splenda)
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Wash asparagus and snap off the ends. Place asparagus in a boiling pan of water until al dente, or bright green. Immediately put asparagus in an ice bath and allow to cool for a few minutes.

For the glaze, mix all the remaining ingredients. Place cooled asparagus in serving dish and pour glaze over the top. Serve room temperature or cold.

Happy Friday, you turkeys!