Monday, July 29, 2013

The Road to Nowhere Means You're Going Somewhere

This weekend was a big scheme by me to get Mrs. Awesome out of the house and somewhere different.  Little Awesome was really just along for the ride - or was he?

The day before we left, I told my beautiful bride that I only had two requirements:

a) We go somewhere we have never been.
b) We do something we've never done.

Now, I realize that we are broke as a joke and so zip lining over the Amazon River while whistling "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" was definitely out of the question.

I felt like the kid in that Disney Commercial that was too excited to sleep, so naturally, I was up early.  I made sure that the formula was made (and packed).  The Awesome-mobile was fueled and ready.

On the road, the sky was overcast and gray.  No importance... Rain shall not soil this da... It's raining.

But hark! Off in the distance, what do we see?  Yes, that glorious Den of Hot Doughnuts Now - Krispy Kreme.  This month's special offering of sugary goodness was Dark Chocolate.  I have a love affair with Dark Chocolate.  So much so I feel the need to Capitalize it.  Dark Chocolate.  I decided immediately that I would try all three of their wonderful creations.  Mrs. Awesome decides to play it safe and complete the half dozen with a few chocolate glazed with sprinkles.  Either way, it's glory in a box.  Little Awesome enjoyed watching how the doughnuts were made and swore to cut a tooth instantly for a taste.  In my opinion, the Dark Chocolate with Pretzels was the clear winner of the morning.

Afterwards, we continued east and traveled past Destin, FL and onto Highway 30-A.  This road took us through Seaside, Florida (where the Jim Carrey film "The Truman Show" was filmed) a midst several hundred herds of people flitting about.  There were so many people in such a small area I honestly had no idea what special event was going on.  So rather than fight the crowd we continued on through Alys Beach and to Rosemary Beach.  Rosemary Beach was my favorite, but the weather would not allow us to stop.

Getting back on the main road, we discovered that we had almost arrived in Panama City Beach.  We were both surprised, because we didn't feel like we had been on the road that long.  But here it was two o'clock and Panama City Beach was within sight.  Unfortunately, every restaurant we wanted to eat at opened at 4.  Shucks.

We had wanted to make it all the way to Apilachicola, but we had explored so much already that the time frame was escaping us rapidly.  Rather than suffer the wrath of the Awesome Dogs, we decided to head back west and see what we could find for lunch/dinner.

We initially tried Joe's Crab Shack - but the wait was almost two hours... you know how cranky Little Awesome gets when he has to wait for seafood.

So we ran... and tried Bubba Gump's shrimp.  I would have expected more varieties of shrimp, but all in all - not bad.  We had a few appetizers instead of entrees and managed to get away without spending too much and with full tummies. No dessert please - we had a plan.

On the road again and headed west in search of a sign.  A sign that read "Key Lime Pies made fresh daily".  I am a h-a-uge fan on Key Lime Pie in the summer, winter, fall, and spring.  In my mind, there are only a handful of pies that you should strive to learn how to make correctly and Key Lime Pie is one of them.  Mrs. Awesome had her navigation skills masterfully honed and she was determined that I would not miss the turn.
I didn't.
If you find yourself driving by this little gem.  Please make a legal u-turn and stay awhile.  Just reading the menu board was reason enough for me to reconsider my discovery plans.  The waitress was syrupy pleasant and gave us time to decide.  Mrs. Awesome ordered a pineapple upside down cake - I ordered Key Lime Pie of course.  Hands down, one of the top three Key Lime Pies I've had the honor of putting in my mouth.  A whole pie a bargain at $15.50 - had I the extra funds we would have brought one home and named him Terrance.

All in all, a pleasant trip.  Not necessarily the bungee jumping excursion I had built up in my head.  But spending quality time with my wife and son earned more stars and diamonds in my travel book than the Taj Mahal.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

You guys are Awesome!

You Guys are great... 

It's been a couple of days and this blog has almost tripled its page views.  I think that's very humbling, and I thank you.  

I've worked on some ideas that I would like to bring to this page, but in my mulling I've figured that the last thing we want is a box - a defined statement that shapes what this Awesome means and needs.

Little Awesome says "Gaaaah" which means "You guys rock!"

Mrs. Awesome and I are planning on setting out this weekend to discover some awesomeness in our area.  We will post some photos by Monday. Stay Tuned!

P.S.: See the Follow button on the right hand side? Push it! Don't miss an episode!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sometimes Life Happens - Schedules? What schedules?

A week ago, Little Awesome turned two. Months old, that is.  Two is about the number of hours of sleep that it feels that we get.

Two souls trudging through the house - looking like they just stepped onto "The Walking Dead" film set.  Eyes heavy, and coordination??? Imagine trying to do aerobics while wading in mashed potatoes.

Meanwhile, L.A. is growing rapidly and learning!  He's tracking objects, smiling on purpose, saying our names - just kidding... I wanted to see if you were paying attention.

He is, however, cooing a lot at night which barrels through our sleep patterns and doesn't compliment our social skills.

Co-Worker: "How was your weekend?"

Mr. Awesome: "Bleearrrrrrrrgh!" *snore, drool*

And I would love to say that in this awesome time that we have been creative and productive. Alas, earwax.  I read my favorite blogs of domestic super powers "Plain Chicken" and "The Virtuous Wife" and "The Kitchn" hoping to find the inspiration to be a helpful partner to my wife seeing as how she is upholding the awesome while I'm at work. But all I want to learn how to craft... is a pillow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

With Great Power Comes Great Tasting Food

It's been a few weeks, and I had planned on writing several times about getting peed on and a varying sundry of topics, but decided that I might not get bogged down in a trend.  While Mrs. Awesome and Little Awesome are doing well - and there are lots of little things that he's doing that I can't wait to talk about - I thought as Monty Python would say, "And now for something completely different."

I love to cook... It says so in my profile.  Go ahead, look at it. :) Last Christmas, my Mother in Law gave me a present that I had given out before but never received.  Le Creuset is, for the most part, the go to winner when it comes to cookware.  I, however, am a huge fan of Lodge cookware when is comes to cast iron.  But on a trip to TJ Maxx I came across a Le Creuset casserole dish.  I love casseroles.  I think casseroles scream "I am a parent, and I frequent flea markets." But dog-gone it, casseroles should be a semester course in school.
I lucked out, not only was the dish Le Creuset, but it was Green.  Green is my favorite color and boy does it look good.  Now, the casserole does not have a very big footprint, either on the counter, or in the oven.  Which means that you can prep and cook with several of these without tying up your counter or oven space for multitudes of time.  As an added bonus, they are freezer safe to oven safe.  So, if you wanted to prep a meal and not cook it right away - you could place the whole thing in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag and pop in the freezer, to be taken out on those nights when you "don't want to cook".  (Author's note: If you're like me, you pretty much know that morning if it's going to be "one of those days" - take the meal out of the freezer and place it in your fridge... You'll gradually bring the temp of the dish up, reducing the chance of cracking the dish by placing it directly from the freezer into a hot oven.)  Not to mention, clean-up on this dish is a dream - it goes from dirty to almost brand new looking with a light soak and scrub.  I have yet to work the grease out of my elbow with this dish.

So, last night I had planned to make fajitas for the Fourth of July.  I didn't get home until 4 p.m. from the dog park.  I don't know about you but I make tortillas from scratch - and I honestly just didn't feel up to it.  So, I found some Chicken patties in the freezer and decided to make my version of Chicken Parmesan.

First, start your noodles boiling - salt the water first please.  The type of noodles really depends on you (I used Fettuccine noodles in this case.)  What you are looking for in the noodle is slightly under cooked.  Everyone I know throws the word "al dente" around like an old familiar sock - but what you really want is just bendable but still kind of hard.  Really, don't over think it - but if you cook your noodles too long because that's how you like it on your plate, you'll be most likely be unhappy with the end result.

Now would be a super time to pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (About 200 Celsius).

Once your noodles are under-cooked and drained, place about one quarter of your sauce on the bottom of your dish.  I find that this reduces the noodles from sticking to your dish at the end.  Then, place your noodles in the dish almost to the top.

Next up, the chicken patties - I bought the budget brand...  Feel free to use your favorite brand if you like.  Just position them on top on the noodles so that they fit well.  If you have fussy kids that don't like cutting up their own food (I was one of those kids) by now the patties would probably be thawed enough to handle being chopped into cubes.

Now, I prefer to add water to my sauce in the jar almost to the top and give it a good shake.  To me, this optimizes noodle to sauce coverage, and I don't have to open another bottle of sauce.  As the noodles begin to cook they release some of their starch - thickening up the sauce.  Viola! No watery sauce on the plate!

I also used block cheese this time as I am a heavy-handed cheese Lauder.  I love cheese and Lord knows, that I would have cheese in my veins if it was medically possible.  Using block cheese really helps me keep track of how much cheese goes on the dish.  This time I used about 1/4 of the block.

In the oven it goes for 25-30 minutes.  I placed the dish on the lower rack and put garlic bread on the top rack during the last ten minutes of cooking.  

The end result was delicious, and didn't cost a fortune.  I hate to say it, but it tasted equally as good as some Italian restaurants.

So check out your local home goods store.  TJ Maxx or Marshall's may have one of these beauties for $15 bucks or less.  In my opinion, if you spend a good deal of time in the kitchen, you owe it to yourself to invest in one or twelve.  I am putting in a standing birthday / Christmas order with my family members in hopes that they might join forces and surprise me with one (or twelve) each year.

Happy Cooking, and Bon Appetit!