The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kindle Community's Nancy Ellen's Spaghetti Sauce

In the Amazon Kindle Community is a thread called "What Made Your Day Today." This is my favorite place to go because it always lifts my spirits. I've "met" some really awesome people who inspire me and remind me it's often the little things in life that bring so much happiness. Nancy Ellen lives in Colorado and is an author of adult "spicy" fiction. She has wonderful husband who agreed that dusty pink carpeting was a fine choice for the living room. She often talks about her spaghetti sauce recipe and has generously shared it with us:

Nancy Ellen's Spaghetti Sauce:

Olive oil
hamburger - brown until hamburger crackles
tomato juice
tomato puree
tomato paste
chili peppers
green olives -

Heat olive oil, brown onion and garlic
remove after sauteed
Brown hamburger until it crackles--I season the meat with salt and pepper.
In large pot, heat tomato juice, tomato puree, tomato paste, add onions, garlic, hamburger mixing together, add salt, pepper, sugar, chili peppers, green olives. Stir together and let simmer for a few hours, stirring now and then.

I use lots of onions and garlic, I use as much of the ingredients as I need for the amount I'm making. I add the seasoning to taste. I put in lots of chili peppers at first, then as the sauce gets spicier, I remove some so it doesn't get too hot. You want to make sure you take out all the peppers before serving, and I warn that there could be some I missed.

Nancy Ellen
If you like "spicy" adult fiction Please check out Nancy's eBooks on Amazon ~ very affordable at .99cents!
A Woman of Moderate Decadence
Dellie's Room 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Dancing Flower

I found this a the Dollar Tree store in New Britain, Pa (off of 202 in the Giant Supermarket center). It's the little things that make me happy. I spent a buck on this and it's made me smile 100 times in the last 2 days!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bad Review On Yelp Leads To Firing of Manager

I'd given Manhattan Bagel in Chalfont a one star review in August 2010 because, though the food was very good, the place clean, most of the staff was extremely nice, the manager was rude (and to ME, the FourSquare MAYOR of Manhattan Bagel!) and embarrassed me in front of a busy store.
After I wrote the review, I stopped giving MB my business. It made me and dog Diablo very sad because it was a fun place to walk to (and I did love the Whole Wheat Everything Bagels).
Fast forward - February 19th, 2011. On our way to walk Diablo at the park,  KT was dying for a bagel and I swallowed my pride, parked in the MB lot, and, thinking no one would recognize me (actually, hoping no one would recognize me, I was wearing baggy sweat pants/sweat shirt, no make up), I ordered a chocolate chip bagel with cream cheese (it is better than it sounds). While waiting, someone recognized me. OMG. And asked if I brought my dog with me. "Uh, my dog was banned." I said.
And then, the heavens opened, and  a light shone down on a man who left his place behind the register and walked toward me.
He lifted his arms and sang, "Praise you, baggy sweat pants girl, and your dog, and the bad review you wrote on YELP."
Then, the people working the grill pulled trumpets from below the counter and played while he said, "The person that was rude to you was fired 2 weeks after your review. It wasn't just you, she was burnt out, and rude to other people. She needed a change of scenery,and we let her go. Your dog is welcome in Manhattan Bagel."
"Who are you?" I whispered as confetti swirled down from the ceiling and the sky, which was gray when I walked in, and was now a brilliant blue. "Are you Jesus Christ?"
"No. I am the owner, Don Bradley."
And so it was, on February 19th, 2011 - Dog Diablo was no longer banned from Manhattan Bagel.
I learned two very valuable lessons that I hope to pass on to other reviewers:
If you have a bad experience, don't hesitate to contact the owner. Had I contacted Mr. Bradley, I have a feeling I would never have given a one star review initially, and I would have enjoyed bagels all winter long.
If you are as vain as I am (probably impossible to be as vain as I am) - DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE LOOKING LIKE A SLOB. EVER!

****I may have exaggerated actual details in this story (I WAS wearing eyeliner).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lazy Sunday Morning Pecan Rolls by Kindle Boards 'Happy Reader Joyce'

If you own a Kindle and don't yet know about the Amazon Kindle Community, let me tell you, it's a great place to ask questions about your Kindle, find free books (thanks to Happy Reader Joyce (and many others) and discuss books! This recipe is from Happy Reader Joyce and it's perfect for a lazy Sunday morning! Joyce wrote on the Kindle boards "This is a recipe handed off to me many moons ago (probably about 15 years or more) from a close friend. And, I definitely consider this a family recipe. Yes, I make them all the time. I used to make and take out of the oven in the mornings to work and everyone always wanted more."


1 package Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls (frozen - 12 count package)
1 - 3.5 ounce package Jell-O Cook and Serve Butterscotch Pudding (Do not use instant - do not make pudding, only use it to sprinkle as a topping)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)

1. Spread chopped pecans in a well-buttered or greased 9" x 13" pan.
2. Distribute the rolls over the pecans.
3. Evenly sprinkle the butterscotch pudding over the rolls.
4. Melt butter or margarine and mix in brown sugar and cinnamon and heat until the sugar melts.
5. Pour butter mixture evenly over the rolls.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil sprayed with Pam or any non-stick spray.
Set the pan in a cold oven overnight (rolls will rise by morning).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

After taking out of the oven, turn the pan over on a cookie sheet so the pecans will be on top.

Enjoy while reading your Kindle!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Potato Casserole Good Enough For A Governor AND Potato Casserole For A Long Happy Marriage

Sunday Morning is the perfect time to take about Potato Casserole. If you have a Kindle and haven’t yet discovered the Kindle Amazon Community Boards, please do yourself a favor and pop in every once in awhile. You’re sure to make a friend or two, pick up some reading suggestions, find an answer to a question about your Kindle (or sometimes Keurig Coffee Machines), discover FREE Kindle books (thanks Happy Reader Joyce) and maybe, if you’re lucky enough, you just might find a recipe or two!

AnnieB’s Terrace Hill Potatoes

Terrace Hill Is the Iowa governor's home. These potatoes were served at a dinner  more than 30 years ago and became such a hit they became known as "Terrace Hill Potatoes"
I am sure the original ones weren't made with your average garden variety frozen hash browns but who knows. I think everyone makes them to their own taste after a few tries. I love sour cream, butter and cheese (cheesehead here) so I never skimp on those ingredients! The original recipe didn't call for O'Brian potatoes but I like onions and red and green peppers so I made a change. Same with the soup.

1 bag frozen O'Brien potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of celery soup
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup melted butter (optional)
1/4 cup crushed corn flakes (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients except butter and cornflakes.
2. Place mixture in greased 9x13 pan.
3. If using cornflakes crush and sprinkle on top then pour butter over the CF
4. Bake and 350°F for 45 minutes.

This is NOT Joyce!
Happy Reader Joyce’s POTATO CASSEROLE
Joyce said this recipe was handed down from her mom and is such a family favorite, that it was good enough to make an appearance at her 25th Wedding Anniversary. I think the message is clear – serve this casserole for a long happy marriage!

1 (30 ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 onion, chopped
1 cup butter
3 cups crushed corn flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour the hash browns into a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream and soup. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion with 1 stick butter and saute for 5 minutes. Add this to the soup mixture and spread this over the potatoes in the dish.

Next, arrange the crushed corn flakes over all in the dish. Melt the remaining stick of butter and pour this evenly over the corn flakes.

Bake at 425 degrees for 1 hour.

*** Definitely low calorie ... Makes 6 servings at 400 calories per serving ***

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FTD - Floral Thieving Douchebags

Oh, isn't that a spectacular flower arrangement? Doesn't it make you feel happy? That is what I THOUGHT I was sending my mom when I used FTD.COM.
Now, I've never used FTD before. Usually I use 1 800 Flowers, but when I browsed online, I just didn't see anything that seemed right for my mom. I was sending her flowers as both a congrats and a good luck. So, I searched other websites and when I found "Sweet Splendor" by FTD, it was PERFECT!
Well, a big snowstorm hit Denver on the day of delivery (I was in PA, enjoying a snow free, albeit windy day). I called the 800 Customer service number to make sure they could/would be delievered, and if not, to make other arrangements.
Well. That was an omen.
Though the customer service rep was quite friendly, I couldn't understand a word he was saying. It took at least 20 minutes to finally be told that "FTD can not tell me a time, but does guarantee me it will be delivered on the date it was scheduled for." I don't think the service rep I spoke with even knew where Denver was.
So, then, a few hours later,  I get a text from my mom that the flowers are beautiful!
Then, my daughter, who works with my mother, texts me a picture of the flowers.
Hello! I would have NEVER EVER picked an arrangement like that in a million years. Oh, and then, to make matters worse, I texted: "What about the vase?"
Daughter texts back: "It's the same, but red."
Oh. My. God. It must look horrid. What are these people, color blind?
But I know my mom. She is thrilled just because she got flowers. She would roll her eyes if I complained about the fact that they look NOTHING like what I bought.
However. She is in Denver. I am half way across the country. She can no longer ground me. I won't be able to see her eye rolling.
So. Let me say this: I. AM. Pissed.
I searched 3 other online florists. I put thought behind this. I paid good money (even UPGRADED to the larger arrangement!) and I should expect that what I paid for would resemble what would be sent out.
I called customer service (again). And this time, had an English speaking rep who was very kind. She offered to have the florist re-deliver another arrangement.
Uh. No.
There's a snowstorm in Denver. I hate the thought of a delivery driver making that hike again. And my mom would be mortified to know that I complained. I suspect it's not the florist's fault. If they had the right flowers and vase, I'm sure they would have replicated what I bought. At least, I hope they would have.
After I got off the phone to customer service, I recieved an email from FTD stating they were sorry I had an A-Typical experience and REST ASSURED, all future orders will be filled with the special care and attention that they deserve.
Um. Hello? If you can't fill the very FIRST ORDER I've ever placed with FTD using special care and attention, then why on earth would I use FTD again?
Lesson learned.
When John was "courting" me - he sent me flowers occasionally. (now he just buys them at Wegman's - but I'm just as thrilled, believe me!) They were always fabulous. And he always used 1 - 800- Flowers.
Valentines Day is just around the corner. If you're thinking about sending flowers - I hope my frustrating experience will help you to make the right choice.
Screw flowers. Just send wine.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 6 - The Vegan Experiment - And a recipe for Caponata

Okay, I know the picture does not do the recipe I'm about to give you justice, but TRUST ME when I say this is a most fabulously tasting veggie/vegan dish that can be served with tortilla chips, russian rye bread, over pasta, or straight from a spoon.
Rebecca Forster a talented legal thriller author shared this with me, and I'll be honest. I had no idea what "Caponata" was when she gave me this recipe. I also had no idea who to cook an eggplant (hey, I'm mostly a BAKER and as far as vegetables go, unless it's green or red, chances are, I didn't try it!). Also, she didn't give me specific directions other than chop, stir, add a pinch, eat. And guess what, it worked out fine. So, I'm not going to change a thing other than to tell you, I forgot the celery, added more red wine vinegar (love that stuff) and think this might be one of the best dishes going. I've been eating it by various methods for three days and am still not tired of it.
It fills the house with the most glorious aroma - what I imagine Sicily must smell like around dinner time.
Oh, and one final suggestion, enjoy a nice glass of red wine while you're preparing it. And then when you eat it!
One quick word on the "Vegan" front - while my scale say's I've lost a pound, my jeans are a wee bit roomier. I feeeeeeeeeeeel lighter. I've been educating myself more and more about  the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and the other day I spent half the morning looking up farm raised chicken/beef/pork in our area. I've been educating myself on "both" sides - and while there are many wonderful benefits to being vegan, I feel (right now) as if I might belong in the "clean" eating (as farm fresh as possible/minimally processed food).
Because, let's face it, I think about tearing open that bacon in my freezer every single day!
Anyway, this recipe for Eggplant Caponata is something I will treasure and keep eating long after the Vegan experiment is over! Thank you, Rebecca!

Rebecca Forster's Eggplant Caponata

Chop up eggplant, celery, red pepper,onion, lots of garlic - saute all in a little olive oil. Add a can of diced tomatoes (2 if you want) capers (lots of capers), sliced green or greek olives, salt and pepper, dash of red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar. Let all cook down for a lovely caponata.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Applebees - FAIL

I don't know WHAT I was thinking. Ummm, maybe CHEAP?
I usually don't like chain restaurants. I prefer cozy family owned pubs or diners with white haired waitress's who still smoke Pall Mall's.
And then I heard an add on the radio (see, I should have been listening to my iPod) for all you can eat Applebees salad/soup bar for only 6.99. Factor in my dinginess - I confused Applebees with Ruby Tuesdays. Ruby Tuesday's has a somewhat cool salad bar. NO where near as fantastic as Wegman's, but, hey, for 6.99? And since this is a Vegan month, I thought it sounded good.
So, off John and I go to Applebees in Montgomeryville.
Here's the thing. As a "Vegan" - there was NOTHING on the menu I could eat. I thought I could eat the tomato basil soup. Ah. But it came sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. And half way into eating it, I realized it probably was made with milk. Sigh. And then we have the plain salad. Sprinkled with cheese (probably fake cheese at that). Um, oh, and the honey mustard dressing? DUH, Laura, surely it has some form of egg. But I ate it. And as far as quality goes. well, you get what you pay for. Add to that, a young waitress who kept referring to John as "Sweetie" (this should only be done by those white haired waitresses I mentioned earlier.) Add to that, the screaming baby throwing food everywhere with an oblivious mother and grandmother (hint, ignoring him may have worked for you, but it sure as hell didn't work for us).
Now, a positive thing about Applebees is that they support and donate to the military.
Other than that, I discovered how frustrating it is to eat "out" and that when it comes to cheap food, you get what you pay for (or, more accurately, what John pays for).
To make it up to John, I'm taking him to Honey. The best cozy foodie restaurant in all of Bucks County. Though they actually do have Vegan/Vegetarian items BUT we'll be going in March so I can feast on the 
Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs (Twice Cooked Berkshire Pork Spare Ribs, Pine Nuts,
Toasted Sesame) with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream.
Because sometimes, you get better than what you pay for, and when it comes to Honey in Doylestown, you walk away with a happy belly and feel like you just robbed the place - it's that fabulous!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GoodBye Bacon and Butter: I'm Going Veganist.

Goodbye Ham Reuben from Pumpernicks.
I swore I was going to stop reading diet/health books. But it's becoming like a damn addiction. I can't help but be teased by these skinny authors whoring their books on talk shows. I've spent as much time baking in the kitchen as I have reading "diet" books.
I was going to give it up, but after a week on the Belly Fat Cure (Jan 11, week 1) and seeing crappy results, I went Slow Carb (felt GREAT, had good results) and then it was the weekend of debauchery. Family Party, Beef and Beer Fundraiser, Flyers game pregaming at Dante and Luigi's (fabulous authentic Italian in Philly) and I fell HARD off the diet wagon. Funny thing, it wasn't so much that I ate horribly while attending this functions, it was that I DRANK martini's and then the next day, felt like I needed hangover food to chase the fog away. Then there was a family illness, then there was SNOW SNOW SNOW, (read: EXCUSES). And I swore off this year long diet experiment. But I'm not ready to let it go. I really do want to know: Will I feel better w/o dairy? How about cutting out grains? Meat?
I read Kathy Freston's Veganist  and while I still think eating farm raised meat/eggs is okay, I've decided to give a month of NO MEAT/NO Dairy (oh my God, is wrong that I cried a bit when I hid the butter and bacon in my freezer?). I'll be cutting out as much processed food and white food and trying to keep to the 50 protein, 30 fat, 20 carb rule of thumb (as I learned from Slow Carb) because I seem to have the most energy with that.
The only dairy I'm really going to miss are eggs and butter.
Oh. And sour cream.
And creamer.
So, Feb 1st, I'm going Veganist. And today I ate a ham hoagie - ah parting is such sweet sorrow. But I think next month I will try the New Evolution Diet because I'm anxious to see what it will feel like to eliminate grains!

Yours in an unending quest for best of everything,

Laura "Quirky Girl" Freed