No Pain Lo Mein

Well, it’s about to get really crazy around these parts.  A miracle has happened and I finally found a contractor to do the three big jobs we need done!  I can’t even explain the joy after almost a year of searching (with brief breaks when Jamie says he’ll just do it himself).  I promise to post at least once a week during the chaos!

Anyhoo, last night I was feeling lazy and in the mood for Oriental food without the work.  This is a really easy recipe, though it may not seem so with the long ingredient list, and my kids love it.  It’s also a great way for me to sneak mushrooms into a dish unnoticed.  I make a big batch because they love it so much and once in a blue moon, we get leftovers.  If you are cooking for light eaters, halve this recipe.

Chicken Lo Mein with Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients
  • 1 package linguine
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce (you may want to add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 3 TBSP sesame oil
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced or grated
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach, chopped, if desired
Directions
  1. Boil water and cook linguine.  Drain very well and set aside.
  2. In a bowl combine cornstarch, broth, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, salt and ginger and whisk until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. In a wok, or large skillet, stir fry chicken pieces in 1 TBSP sesame oil for 4-6 minutes, or until no longer pink.  Remove from heat and keep warm.
  4. Stir fry the carrots and onion in the remaining sesame oil for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes, until veggies are crisp tender and spinach is wilted.
  5. Slowly, stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil, stirring for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
  6. Add chicken and linguine to pan, stirring to coat everything and heat through.

Chicken Lo Mein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Shrimp (Bengali Curry in a hurry)

I have a secret to share.  This may heap much criticism on my head, but I can’t lie.  I loathe shredded coconut.  I mean, I cannot stand it.  I can cut up a whole coconut and eat myself into a coma off of the chunks of yummy goodness, but shred that stuff and my gag reflex kicks in.  I wish I was kidding and this may not be the best way to sell this recipe, but…where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah, so this recipe calls for shredded coconut, but thankfully my mother had a solution for me and this became a fondly remembered staple of my childhood.  If you’ve never made curry because it seems (and very well can be) difficult, this is the recipe for you.  I put off making it sometimes because I forget how incredibly easy it is to throw this delicacy together.  There are very few adjustments needed here, so rest assured, it’s tough to screw up and so delicious!

Coconut Shrimp

Ingredients
  • 1/2 – 1 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 can coconut paste or milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened (pahtooie!) coconut flakes, or 1 cup sweetened and rinsed coconut flakes (sweetened, rinse tend to puree better)
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP ground coriander
  • 1/2 + 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp + 1 pinch salt
  • 1 & 1/2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2-3 TBSP oil
  • cooked rice
Directions
  1. In a blender, puree the coconut flakes and coconut milk or paste until smooth.  I mean really smooth.  No chunks of flakes to be had.
  2. Saute onion and coriander in 1-2 TBSP olive oil in a large pot for about 5 minutes on medium high heat.  Remove from heat, wait 1 minute, then add 1/2 tsp tumeric, cayenne pepper and a bit of water to prevent burning and cook an additional 1 minute on medium heat.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. and cook 1 minute.
  3. In a skillet cook shrimp with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp tumeric in 1-2 TBSP oil for 5 minutes or until pink.
  4. Add chopped jalapeno, shrimp and coconut mix to the onion mix, stirring well and cook on medium for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Parm, You Really DO Taste So Good…and are Crazy Easy to Make!

Last night I once again I found myself in a panic, tearing myself away from a project at 5:30 pm, and realizing I had not planned anything for dinner.  Thankfully, I dug up some chicken breasts and threw together this easy crowd pleaser before 6:15.  I promise you that I am not above throwing on some hot dogs in this situation, but I’m trying to be good.

Add a can of mushrooms to jazz it up a little.

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients
  • 1 package spaghetti or egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened slightly with a meat mallet
  • 1-2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
Directions
  1. Mix the flour, bread crumbs, garlic salt and parmesan cheese in a resealable plastic bag.  Shake flattened chicken breasts in the mixture to coat completely.
  2. In a 12 inch skillet on medium high heat, cook the chicken breasts in the olive oil until browned- 6-8 minutes, turning once.
  3. Add the spaghetti sauce, any remaining bread crumb mixture and the mozzarella cheese to the chicken.  Cook 5-8 minutes then serve over prepared noodles.

For an easy twist to save dishes, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve in bowls.

ChickenParm

ChickenParm2
Nicely browned chicken breast

 

25 Movies With Valuable Life Lessons My Preteen Won’t Hear From Me

It’s time.  Time for me to fly the nerd flag…just a little.  I have so enjoyed the cooking part (my waistline will back me up on this), but today I’m going deeper.

I am currently weathering the wicked storm that is raising a preteen boy, thanking God he’s not a girl every day.  I’m not knocking all teenage girls, but I was one.  I know it could be far worse for me and I long ago accepted full responsibility for my father’s gray hair.  Anyway, we’ve reached the stage where I have apparently become just shy of “idiot” and I think he sometimes wonders how I manage to feed myself.  The words of wisdom I offer fall on deaf ears much of the time, so I just have to hope that the seeds I’ve sown have taken strong root.

Okay, most of the time he’s a great kid, but I realized that there are some lessons he just won’t hear from me anymore so I began looking for other options.  Yes, we go to church.  Yes, he plays sports.  Yes, he has some friends I feel are pretty good kids, but I realized there was another medium.  Film.  It all started with my being a history, classic TV and film buff, and simply wanting to share my favorites with them.  I soon realized that certain films had the power to teach valuable lessons which I could not.  That shows like “The Wonder Years” could reach him and make him feel less different than my assurances could.  It’s hard to admit this, but it’s true.

Aside from that, I have also been thinking about how certain TV and films touched me and I think as parents we owe it to our kids to show them that the music, TV and movies of the past have great value and artistry.  Plus, there’s nothing cooler than your kids joining your “fandom.”

I know I’ll miss a bunch and there will be a part 2, 3, 4, etc., but at least I won’t make you click through 25 individual slides like some sites.  I should also point out that this is not my collection of the greatest nerd movies of all time, just a few with some good life lessons.

Check the parent guides by clicking on the IMDB link in the title to make sure they are appropriate for your children.  Some of these are best for older kids.  You be the judge.

Here’s the Suburban Homestead Nerd’s list of must see Cinema for our kids and us to learn a little something, in no particular order.

Title

1.  Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope– 1977

     Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back– 1980

     Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi– 1983

Duh.  Did you have any doubt that this would be on the list?  I’m lumping the first three together because they are like Lays Potato Chips.  You can’t watch just one.

I remember being 6 years old when I saw the original film for the first time.  We were in Bangladesh in a small theater (dining room outfitted with folding chairs) at the American Club and from the moment that first music note sounded, I was mesmerized.  I’m sure that if we’d had a VCR, my mother would have had this movie looping 24-7 just to get me to sit still for more that 5 minutes.

Episode 4 taught me that the universe was a very big place and that, if a whiny guy from Tatooine could become a Jedi, I could be whatever I wanted.

Episode 5 taught me that true friends will do anything for each other, loyalty was a beautiful trait and that Darth Vader was the biggest bada$$ in the galaxy.

Episode 6 taught me that good always wins, Ewoks are cute and solidified my belief that you should never hire a Storm Trooper as your body guard.

2. Batteries Not Included– 1987

This movie blew me away as a kid and blew my kids away last night.  It’s sweet, it’s gentle and it teaches us to look outside of our world and ourselves, to empathize with those we don’t normally even notice; the elderly, the lost, the lonely.  Most of all, it’s magical without the crazy, theater rocking action and violence we’ve grown so accustomed to in these times.

3. Simon Birch– 1998

This movie is a powerful one, but also fun and speaks to kids without speaking down to them.  It teaches that even the most different of us can be great with a little unflappable faith.

4. Psycho– 1960

I know, I know, what the heck can our kids learn from this one, right?  Ha!  Let me tell you!  I’m a bit of a stickler for watching ratings and parent guides, and I get a little tired of all the gore, sex and cursing that we can’t seem to make movies that aren’t cartoons without anymore.  No, I’m not a prude, but my kids didn’t seem to think a movie could scare or mystify you if it wasn’t full color gross like many of their friends watch.

They did not move through most of this movie, which is no small feat in this house.  At the end of Psycho, they both turned to me with the most dumbfounded expressions I’ve ever seen on their faces.

Psycho taught my kids the value of a real psychological thriller…and that a boy’s mother is his best friend.

5. Harry Potter– all of them

Yes, that’s broad, but I can’t always pick a favorite, so I’m lumping them together.  I would strongly recommend reading all the books first, but these movies taught us about friendship, loyalty, standing up for what is right even when you are the only one willing to do so, to never judge a book by it’s cover, the value of family and so much more.  And then there’s that fun magic stuff.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird– 1962

It’s an absolute must to read the book for people young and old.  You owe it to yourselves and your kids, but the movie is a wonder as well.

In it we learn the value of all life and the ugly truth about the past as it was in our country.  We have to remember, lest we forget and are destined to repeat history.  We also see the kind of person we should all strive to be; one who will stand up for what is right at any cost, to teach our children to be decent human beings.

7. Uncle Buck– 1989

I still can’t believe I live in a world which lost the comedic genius that was John Candy as early as it did, but I am thankful for what he was able to leave us.

This movie taught us that anyone can change and that, while it’s never too late to grow up, you might as well enjoy the ride.  It also teaches us about imperfect family love, that big pancakes rock and solidified my distrust of clowns, though this one was at least not homicidal.  I’m kidding!  I’m kidding!  Fingers crossed.

8. Stand By Me– 1986

Simply put; Steven King’s brilliant take on friendship, the loss of innocence and where we go from there.

9. The Mission– 1986

With a soundtrack able to make you weep, performances by DeNiro and Irons which are astounding, a message of courage and the power of the faithful human spirit, this film will move you at your very core.

10. Secondhand Lions– 2003

This movie might not have been an Oscar contender, but it was a wonderful coming of age tale that taught us you are never too old to be completely cool.  It is a nice example of being comfortable in your own skin.

11. The Princess Bride– 1987

The iconic film which taught us that true love does indeed conquer all, friendship can survive anything, grandparents are cool and that you might have a shot against a Sicilian, even if death is on the line.  Oh, and watch out for R.O.U.S.es.

12. Glory– 1989

If there is a more moving soundtrack, I’ve yet to hear it…okay, The Mission is a close second, oh, and Rob Roy, but you get my drift.  Add to that a powerful tale based on the true story of some of the unsung heroes of the Civil War, with unbelievable performances from some of Hollywood’s best and you have a recipe for greatness!

This movie still blows me away.  These brave men volunteered and fought prejudice from the South and their own Union Army.  The lessons are many: brotherhood, equality, perseverance, bravery, and history.  I can’t say enough about this one.

13. Gallipoli– 1981

Here’s another war movie (usually not my thing because I am far too easy a crier in my old age) teaching us little known history about one of the bloodiest battles of the first World War.  Bravery, patriotism, loyalty and family are just a few of the lessons in this moving coming of age story.  You will never forget this film.

14. The Breakfast Club– 1985

Do I really need to say anything?  This movie taught me that despite all of our differences, we are basically the same underneath.  We have the same insecurities and are all just looking to fit in.

15. The Karate Kid– 1984

We moved almost every year when I was growing up.  My father’s work took us all over the world, so I could totally understand Daniel Laruso’s life as an outsider in this movie.  I learned to stand up to bullies and to work hard for my dreams, but sadly, I never had a Mr. Miyagi.

16. Some Like It Hot– 1959

This was one of the first movies to teach me that black and white could still be awesome!  I saw what all the fuss was about surrounding Marylin- her beauty and sweetness, and fell in love with Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis.  I laughed my way to figuring out that at our core, most of us will do the right thing when push comes to shove and that love really can conquer all.

17. Up– 2009

This movie taught us more about love between two people in 8 minutes than just about any other has ever done in its entirety.  The rest of the movie is funny, sweet, beautiful and teaches us that we can be heroes at any age.

18. The Goonies– 1985

Friendship.  No matter who you are, how big a nerd or how awkward, this movie gives you hope.  We all need people and if the Goonies can find fellowship, we all can.  I would also like to find a pirate ship, please.

19. Grumpy Old Men– 1993

In a culture where we seem to value youth, technology and beauty, this film is another reminder of how awesome the elderly are.  Friendship, loyalty, the pursuit of happiness and loss are just a few takeaways from this timeless classic.

20. Rob Roy– 1995

While definitely not for small children, this movie is one of the most powerful when it comes to teaching honor.  The love between Jessica Lang’s character and Liam Neeson’s is beautiful.  You will learn of the evils men can do and be thankful for the good men who rise up to defeat those evils.  And the soundtrack is awesome!

21. Parenthood– 1989

This movie never ceases to inspire me.  I think it gave my kids a glimpse at what parents feel and that we never stop feeling this way.  Love, loyalty, loss, heartbreak, joy, redemption, lost causes, victories…it’s all here.

22. Awakenings– 1990

This movie offers, in my opinion, the greatest EVER performances from Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.  I am never unmoved when I watch it.

Never stop hoping, even adults feel awkward and out of their element, always fight for what you believe to be right, don’t take this beautiful life and world for granted….just a few things you will take away from this one.

23. Life is Beautiful– 1997

This movie is one of the few about the Holocaust that isn’t terribly graphic, but is still unbelievably powerful.  As a parent, I was inspired by what this man did to get his son through one of the most hellish times in human history.  As children, my boys saw what a parent will do to protect their child.  Breathtaking.

24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial– 1982

Who doesn’t dream of having a pet alien with powers?  Loyalty, standing up for what is right, valuing all life and family are just a few lessons to take away from this timeless wonder.

 

25. 13 Going on 30– 2004

As a kid, I remember chomping at the bit to grow up.  This film helped my boys realize that maybe being a kid isn’t so bad and that maybe being with the popular kids isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Also, any film where a room full of people dance to Thriller is ok in my book.

The Friday That Got Away From Me

Good Saturday morning to ya!’  I apologize to you for missing Friday’s post, especially since it was to be a really good one (at least, I’m sure it would have been).  However, yesterday I walked outside to open the greenhouse at 6 am and heard a chorus of chaos coming from the chicken coop.  I quickly discovered that a raccoon had gotten in and that we’d lost a hen.  Try as I might to be “tough homesteader gal,” I was fairly upset.  I can’t believe that I didn’t hear the racket from in the house and what a terrifying ordeal that must have been!  And wouldn’t you know, it was the one hen we actually named?
After their nightmare, only one chicken would leave the coop before 10 am and my big, bad Roster Cogburn stayed up in his roost until almost noon. 
Naturally, Jamie wasn’t here so I had to deal with it myself and then my ADHD took over.  Cleaning up the disaster led to pressure washing the deck which led to picking up fallen branches around the yard and burning them.  That led to cleaning the pool which led to building a table/shelf unit for Jamie to use in his truck sleeper.   I picked up Jamie and then the whole family headed out to shore up the coop with enough hardware cloth to keep out a zombie hoard.
Then I made dinner on the grill.  The end.
Anyone else notice that the big stuff usually hits the fan when the spouse is out of town?  People call me a Renaissance woman, but the truth is that you have to learn to do it all when your husband is always gone.  I don’t mind, I promise, but curse that Murphy’s Law!
Anyway, I’ll be back Monday, so you all have a wonderful weekend. 

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P.S. This may not be my finest post as I am writing it on my phone, in bed, propped up with pillows and a heating pad on my back. Hmm. I wonder why my back hurts?

Pork Chops & Applesauce…I Mean Rice! Pork Chops and Rice.

When I was younger, I was convinced that I could cook like my mom even though I’d had very little practice or instruction.  I must have thought that it was an inherited trait, like patience or blue eyes, which one gets from their parents.  Sadly, I fail regularly at patience, but I like my brown eyes and have practiced a lot to get a palatable meal on the table.  Anyway, this was the one easy recipe that even I couldn’t screw up.  Better than fried lettuce and bologna surprise, right Mom?

Anyway, this is a basic “throw it in the oven and go” recipe, which is even better.  Normally, I use cream of mushroom, celery or chicken for the sauce, but I had this recipe starter can I didn’t know what to do with, so I tried it.  It was pretty darn tasty and the boys loved the cheesy rice.  Pork Bake2

You don’t have to brown the chops first, you can add cooking time, but I like to shave a few minutes off of baking time by browning.

Oven Pork Chop Bake

Ingredients
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 can cream of mushroom or other soup or recipe starter
  • 1 cup+ water
  • Salt, pepper, Tony’s to taste
Directions
  1. Grease a non stick pan and brown the chops on medium high for 4 minutes per side (I season with Tony’s and Garlic before browning).  Transfer to a baking dish and top with onions, then layer uncooked rice in the bottom of the baking dish.
  2. Mix water, soup and seasoning then pour over rice and chops, making sure all is covered.  Add water, if needed to insure you have at least twice as much liquid as rice.
  3. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes until chops are tender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seafood Lasagna, Cheesy Nirvana

If you are looking for a healthy recipe for seafood lasagna, this is not it.  If you are looking for a rich, decadent once a year treat for your family and friends, read on.  Even if Captain America isn’t your server, seafood lasagna is a creamy, taste bud loving, tummy pleasing, comfort food that you will love.

This is a relatively easy recipe and it is always a huge hit.  Like many foods, it’s almost better the second day and freezes really well.  I can usually squeeze 2 lasagna pans out of this and will freeze one for later.  You can’t really use too much Tony’s or creole seasoning because the cheese and noodles dissipate the flavor, but don’t get too crazy.

Seafood Lasagna

Ingredients
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3, yes, 3, sticks of butter (1 & 1/2 cup)
  • 1 lb shrimp (chopped, if desired)
  • 1 lb crab meat (I use the fake stuff and chop it up)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 cups cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked, or 1.5 boxes ready to use lasagna
  • Salt, pepper, garlic, Tony’s to taste (if you want specifics; 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2-4 TBSP Tony’s)
Directions
  1. In a large stock or black pot, saute onions and bell pepper in 1 stick of butter for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.  Add shrimp and crab and cook 15-20, minutes, stirring often.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic and Tony’s.
  2. In another pan melt 2 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of flour, whisking until smooth.  Add the milk and cook until thick.  Add to the seafood and veggie mix, stirring until blended and taste to season.
  3. Layer in lasagna pans, starting with seafood mix, cheese then noodles.  Bake 45 min to an hour, (longer with ready to use noodles) at 350 degrees.