Sledding and Hot Chocolate

Not everyone views an injury as an injury.

Growing up, I had the coolest aunt. Technically, she was my great aunt, but since it was far too complicated for us to say “Great Aunt Marie,” we just called her Grammarie instead.

It was Christmas break as kids, and we had a terrific blizzard that dumped a ton of snow. We had driven a few hours north to eat some fried chicken, visit the largest Christmas store possible, and see my aunt, who conveniently lived right there.

My aunt was famous in her teeny little town for teaching the neighbor kids how to cross country sky, along with her legendary toboggan collection.

Which is how my aunt and I ended up going sledding at the local school while my parents were out shopping. My aunt even ever so nicely let me sit in the very front of the toboggan so I could see best (and have the most excitement). She then hopped on the back and away we went!

We were racing down the hill (which turned out to be a bit icy, so my aunt’s running start and jump onto the toboggan might not have been totally necessary) when all of a sudden, I got the sinking feeling that we weren’t going to stop. There was, however, something that was going to stop us: a fence at the bottom of the hill.

I realized too late that protecting my head was a wise idea, and instead bounced face-first into the wire fence. However, I didn’t seem to be hurt, so we continued sledding for the rest of the afternoon.

It wasn’t until we got back that I realized that something had happened.

Mom: Oh gosh! What happened to you?

Aunt: We hit the fence. She’s fine.

Mother: But she has the impression of the fence ACROSS HER FOREHEAD!

Aunt: Ehh, she’s a kid. It’s just a battle wound. She’ll be fine.

I might have walked around for the next few days with a bruise on my forehead in the shape of wire fence diamonds.

My parents might also have required parental supervision the next time my aunt took us sledding.

Accident Free Spicy Hot Chocolate

spicy hot chocolate

Hard to mess this up

Ingredients

  • 1 C nonfat powdered milk (this is normally 1 package in a box of this stuff)
  • 6 packets Sweet’N Low sugar substitute
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (can increase if you’d like it hotter!)
  • pinch salt
  • 6 oz hot water (per cup of hot chocolate)

How-to

  1. In a jar, combine powdered milk, sugar substitute, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  2. Cover jar and shake to combine.
  3. To make hot chocolate, add 1 1/2 tbs mix to 6 oz hot water (feel free to add more mix for a richer hot chocolate). Stir until combined and enjoy!
  4. If desired, serve in a mug with a spritz of whipped cream and a pinch of dry mix to make it look fancy.
  5. To make an adult version, use 5 oz water and 1 oz vanilla vodka.

This post is part of a DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker Program with Sweet’N Low

Movies and Risotto

The tv version of a movie can be quite different from the original.

As kids, we loved Rodney Dangerfield movies. Friday and Saturday nights during the winters in Michigan were spent eating homemade popcorn under blankets with “Dinner and a Movie” on the television. One of our favorite movies (which somehow was normally on at least one per month) was Caddy Shack, the comedy where the caddy comes from behind and wins it all (and the girl) on the golf course.

So, when the DVD of Caddy Shack was on sale shortly before my youngest brother’s 8th birthday, my parents thought it was a perfect gift.

I should take this moment to state that no one in my family had ever seen anything other than the tv-sanitized version of Caddy Shack.

Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when we started watching the tv version. To start, the made-for-tv version with all of the commercials is about the same length as the full-length DVD version. That’s because Caddy Shack has about that much nudity and other things that must be cut from the tv version.

For some reason, we made it through the entire movie as a family. I think my mother nearly had a heart attack when she realized what she had bought her 8 year old son.

My 8 and 12 year old brothers, though, were absolutely delighted.

Adult Flavors Asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto

for anyone with grown-up tastes

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c white wine (I use a pinot grigio in the $8 range)
  • 1 lb asparagus, diced into small pieces
  • 4 oz goat cheese, softened (just leave it out on the counter while you make the risotto)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 3-5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1 c wine and stir until absorbed.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the broth, two ladles at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently (but not constantly) until absorbed. Add more broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 20-30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added half the broth, stir in the asparagus pieces (this will help them stay green)
  7. Continue adding the broth at 2 ladles at a time until all the broth has been added. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the risotto reaches your desired consistency.
  8. Turn the heat to as low as possible, then stir in the goat cheese. Remove from heat.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Alter Boys and Roasted Garlic

For some boys, the attention span does not last long.

I was in 6th grade at the time. Now, the middle school years were pretty rough. I had glasses, braces, and acne. I have a wonderful picture of me in 4th grade, when is when the ugly process started, that people don’t think is me, if that tells you anything.

Anyway, I was at the awkward age of 12. I was at some family function (I think it possibly was an uncle getting remarried, but that’s my best guess) that involved us going to church.

Now, on top of that gorgeous picture I just painted of myself, to this event I was wearing an unfortunate outfit. My mother used to make me a dress every year for Easter and Christmas to wear. Now, my mother was quite a good seamstress, but she always insisted on making the dresses have puffy sleeves.

Back when I was in middle school, I HATED puffy sleeves. HATED THEM.

So here I was, in church with my family, decked out in a floral print dress with puffy sleeves, with braces and glasses that took up half my face (the acne wasn’t as bad as normal that day). We’re in the middle of mass, and we’re at the part where everyone shakes hands and says “peace be with you,” for those non-raised-Catholic folks.

In this particular church, the priest and alter boys would walk around and participate. One of the alter boys made a beeline towards us, shook my hand, and then said, “You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

I was flabbergasted and flattered, since obviously it wasn’t true. However, he then turned to my cousin who was standing next to me, and said, “You’re even more beautiful than your cousin.”

Obviously he hadn’t learned too much about manners as an alter boy.

Saintly Roasted Garlic

this garlic has more manners than some alter boys

Ingredients

  • Whole head roasted garlic (you can roast multiple at a time)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut off tops of whole bulbs of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven until soft for 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use in sauces or just squeeze out a clove and spread onto a piece of good bread…my favorite!