Month: January 2011

Memories of Mac & Cheese

So one of my goals this year is to be a little more helpful to Greg.  He is an amazing person who takes very good care of me and the kids.  I joke to people a lot that he is a better wife and mother than I am.  Well, for those of you who know him, really know him, you know I’m not kidding. One of Greg’s many talents is that he is excellent in the kitchen.  He bakes, he cooks,and he cleans up after himself.  He rocks.  If there is something that we like at a restaurant he creates it from scratch at home so we can eat it whenever we want.  Over the past few years the kitchen has been his domain.  I can’t compete with my limited skill (or even more limited desire).

Disclaimer:  remember we’re talking about my H-U-S-B-A-N-D here, so *BACK OFF!*  He’s taken.  Raise your own amazing husband.

Okay, had to get that out, and now that it’s out I can get back to my point.  My point is this: on the nights that Greg is driving an hour and a half home after a long day at work I feel like I should step up to the plate (ha, ha) and make dinner.  It would relieve stress from him and it would be good for me to learn some new recipes since I came into the relationship with only 7.  One for everyday of the week.  (there is a reason I don’t cook dinner, keep this in mind!)  Maybe my kids will like something I make or see that I’m trying to be a help to my spouse or maybe I’ll drag  include them in the kitchen with me so they can learn a thing or two as well.  Sounds like a win situation all the way around huh?  We’ll see how it works.

Lately I’ve been craving homemade macaroni and cheese.  Creamy yumminess that is no doubt one of this Southerner’s comfort foods.  I’ve made this one time before and it didn’t turn out so well, I’ve been hesitant to try again, but BY DARN IT, I will not let the Mac & Cheese conquer me!  I turned to my boyfriend go-to guy where recipes are concerned knowing he would not let me down.  Alton Brown.  {we love Alton at my house.  Greg has seen every episode of Good Eats and Feasting on . . . Greg even met Alton a few years ago at Costco at a book signing.  I have a picture of them together.  Both of them wearing black turtlenecks, wire-rimmed glasses, and hairstyles similar.  SO cute!)

Here is what dinner looked like:

The recipe turned out really well.  It satisfied my craving.  A couple of notes about it that I would change though is this:  First, boil your pasta in tomato sauce and water.  The tomato sauce flavors the pasta really nicely.  And it kind of cuts the bite of the cheese.  Second, I would not put as much sharp cheddar as the recipe calls for.  It turns out VERY sharp, so I would split the amount between sharp and mild or even Colby.  Third, pepper.  It was the other thing that cut the sharpness of the cheese.  Very important.  But you can add it to your own helping and not to the whole pot.  Other than that, it was a hit at the dinner table.  Oh, the memories that I mention in the title?  Well, I remember eating macaroni and cheese with tuna and canned peas as a kid and loving it.  Can’t stand canned peas now, but YUMM-O in mac & cheese!!!  Tonight’s dinner, the mac & cheese with sausage (which my kids call big hot dogs) and peas is my adult version of my childhood favorite. 

Here is Alton’s recipe for Stove Top Mac-N-Cheese:

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water (remember my tip here about tomato sauce – I did one 15 ounce can then added 2 of those cans worth of water to cook my pasta in) cook the pasta to al dente and drain.  Return to the pot and melt in the butter.  Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Stir into the pasta and add the cheese.  Over low hear continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Make 6-8 servings.

That’s it!  Dinner in under 30 minutes.  I know it was good.  I hope it was helpful.


I’m talking about what we had for dinner last night.  Oh, and again tonight.  Wanna see what it was?

Oops!  I couldn’t stop eating it long enough forgot to take a picture of it before it was all gone! 

Wanna know at least what it *was*?  It’s called Butter-Pecan Sweet Potatoes.  We eat sweet potatoes quite a bit at our house and are always looking for a new way to cook them.  I found this recipe here.  (you may have to scroll down just a bit to get to it, it’s worth it, trust me)

Yup, it’s a delish dish from the one and only Becky Higgins.  I have {puffy} hearted her for a long time.  I think she is smart, creative, skinny, and practical.  Skinny.  I almost hate her for that, but I’m going to be skinny too this year so Becky and I could totally hang together.  Well, unless I keep trying all the recipes she shares on her blog.  I do plan on trying more of them.

My family loved this recipe.  It’s a keeper for us.  Let me know what you think.  Or if you have any sweet potato recipes of your own I could try!

Resolve. It’s A Carpet Cleaner.

Word of the month?  Resolve.  Starting the end of December clear through January you hear everyone mentioning it.  In all of it’s forms.  Here is what I think of when I hear the word.

After my second child I went through a very dark time.  Full-blown Postpartum Depression.  Ultimately I went to a therapist that specialized in my condition.  Best decision.  I saw her weekly and most often had to take the baby with me.  Quickly the therapist realized that part of my PPD was in reaction to a condition my son was born with.  Acid reflux.  My baby, though I didn’t know it at the time, had a severe case and cried ALL. THE. TIME! My dear mother even said to him once, “Cameron, I love you SO much.  But would you just SHUT UP for a little while?”.  Our answering machine greeted callers with this, (baby screaming in the background, LOUDLY) “Thank you for calling the Deputy’s.  We probably can’t hear the ring of the phone right now, but your call will give us an excuse to have some adult conversation, so please leave a message after the beep and we’ll call you back as soon as Cameron is 18.”   Truly it felt like our child was going to cry for the rest of his life.  I was exhausted from sleepless nights and frustrating days.  To soothe my sweet baby I would hold him in the football hold  and literally bounce as hard as I dare.  Up and down.  Up and down.  Over and over and over again.  He was also on medication.  Not that it helped a whole bunch, but we gave it to him.  What bothered me the most was his projectile vomiting.  The stomach acid would smell awful (and I don’t do well with vomit in the first place) and would stain the carpet if I didn’t clean it fast enough.  Oy. Vey!  At one of my therapy sessions I had my baby face down laying across my legs and was patting his back.  He seemed to be doing okay.  Wasn’t completely quiet, but not screaming per usual.  Then, I felt it.  A bubble rise through his back, up and out of his mouth.  Not a bubble.  His last meal (which was chased with a pink Mylanta chaser).  All over the white carpet of my therapist’s office.  Tears.  From both the baby and me.  Without missing a beat my therapist rose out of her chair, went to a cabinet and retrieved a bottle of Resolve carpet cleaner.  She took care of the stain as best she could and went on to comfort me.  Bless her heart.  At the end of the session she handed me that bottle of Resolve and told me to keep it in the diaper bag.   So I wouldn’t blockade myself at home in fear of creating another stain somewhere else.  She had given me a tool for confidence to go out and continue to live my life.   She wanted me to feel that even though something may go wrong, I had the ability to fix it.  I didn’t need to feel bad for the inconvenience of life or things that happen in life.

So here we go.  It’s January and that word is back.  It reminds me of that therapy session.  Sure, I may have had some bad habits, but I also have the tools to change anything that I want to.  I don’t have to change everything, I can choose what areas I want to improve, where to progress.  I can decide to take baby steps to reach my goals, or I can set my sights high and just put myself out there.  The choice is up to me. 

Re.  Solve.  I can take care of something, again, if it didn’t work the first time.  Clean.  Slate.  Nice.

In future posts I’ll let you know what I’ve been thinking to resolve.  I actually like to think of it as goal setting.  And I don’t like to do it spur of the moment at midnight on New Year’s Eve because then I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure.  I like to take my time to prioritize and be real

Side Note:  Cameron is now 14 and has, to our great pleasure, stopped his incessant crying.  Whew.


This is my day.  So far.

  • I have a pet peeve: getting dressed for the day and standing in front of the mirror thinking that I don’t look too shabby *and* hey, exercising and eating right has paid off!  Look at how I look slimmer in these jeans!  Only to sit down and have all those rolls make themselves very obvious.  Hate.  That.
  • I’m realizing that maybe I’m not 24 anymore.  Clues into how I know this: *I don’t go with the flow of change too well. *I have to turn the radio up to understand the words, and even doing that I can’t make sense out of that ‘noise’.  *My six year old won’t let me kiss him at the bus stop anymore.  (wait, I have a SIX year old?  When did that happen?)  *The sun is down, doesn’t that mean it’s bedtime?   *The words ‘procedure’  and ‘doctor appoinment’ flow off my lips too easily and often.
  • Did you know that just by switching your dipping sauce from ketchup to mustard can help you lose weight?  Huh!
  • Small red sports cars should *not* be going 10mph UNDER the speed limit.  EVER!
  • There truly is strength in numbers. 
  • If I yell it will they understand me better?  Cause it sure as heck is apparent that asking nicely didn’t work.
  • Am I an old dog?  Can I learn new tricks?
  • Is this stuff even worthy of blogging about?
  • I think my therapist needs a therapist.  Just sayin’.
  • What do you mean the next step is detention?  What was the first step?
  • Is it naptime yet?
  • Is it bad that I just called my son “Stu Sylvester” because when he wears his warm-up suit he reminds me of Jane Lynch’s Glee character?
  • I need a clone to get everything done.  But face it, it’s hard enough having one of me in this world.
  • Griffin is playing on the new drum set and I haven’t called the men in white jackets to come get me and take me away!

This is my Wednesday.  Very random and all over the place.  How’s yours?  Wait.  What? Today is THURSDAY?  Crap.

Long Goodbyes

Dear 2010,

I hate long goodbyes.  I avoid goodbyes of any sort when I can.  In actuality I can avoid this one, but I have come to learn that it is good to acknowledge the past in order to better the future.  So for this purpose only do I give you anymore recognition.

Thank you for being better to me than the previous year.  We won’t mention it’s name, but we both know who it was.  You were still pretty harsh on me and my family, but I came to my senses and realized that I had some lessons to learn and you did whatever it took for me to learn them.  I still don’t think you had to be so severe, but whatever.  I am a better person for learning those lessons so I can forgive. 

No hard feelings, right?  I respect you and wish you all the best in the future.  Oh wait.  You have no future.  That sucks.  Well then, I bid you a fond farewell.

With Warmest Regards,


Dear 2011,

I have plans for you.  Your counteryear, 2010, has been gracious enough to teach me some things that have given me strength to kick your butt if I need to.  Unlike the previous Mandi, I am no longer willing to take crap with a smile on my face.  Oh no.  2011 I tell you now that you and I are going to accomplish many things in the next 365 days we have together. 

I see you there, staring me in the face.  And I tell you, Mr. (or Mrs., or Miss, or Ms.)New Year,  I. Am. Ready.  Faithful.


Mandi (the Powerful)

To all of my friends and family (that would be you dear reader),

Have a happy new year, I wish you much peace.  Inner peace.  I wish you joy.  So much that sometimes a tear may slip down your cheek.  I wish you love.  So that your heart may feel as though it will burst from so much of it.  I wish you contentment.  Enough to fill you even in your darkest hours.  And I wish you strength.  Personal, spiritual, physical, and emotional strength.  Be as good to yourself as you are to others.  Find the good in things because goodness likes to hide and whisper sometimes.  Give yourself a break, and leave judgement to Him.  We all live in glass houses.  Speak kindly.  Smile at strangers.  Keep the door open for the person behind you.  Hug your loved ones longer than normal.  Pray.  To whomever or whatever you choose, but show your gratitude for the things you have been given.  Even the icky parts.  Find three good things for each negative thought you have.  Give to others and learn to be a gracious receiver.  Laugh.  “Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured.” ~Gordon B. Hinkley

Now I’m off to play Lite Brite with my 6 year old.  Not something the old Mandi would have done.  But hey, it’s a new year.  I can be a new me, right?