If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

At a restaurant, my mom will peruse the menu like it's her last meal. The wait staff will often appear three times before she's had enough time. My son is baffled by McDonald's drive through window. "Wait, WAIT, I'm not ready."

I'm not like that, although I do feel a bit pressured at drive through windows and often revert to whatever I normally order just because I didn't see that new salad that they've got displayed in a gorgeous picture by the window where you pay.

We're not frequent diners at places where you get your food through windows. McD's is a great, relatively low cal place to get an ice cream cone. It's cheaper than DQ and I think tastes better. But, I'm a little put off at the taped welcome voice that pushes the latest whatever burger or implores me to try an iced mocha today. I always say no thank you to the recording and then feel really stupid when the completely different voiced person then takes my order and seems to not understand why I'm no thanking them.

I think my mom reads from menus so deliberately and completely because she's from a generation that just moved slower. It's ok really, not a slam, I think it's a good thing. I love all things slow and really hate it when someone I'm with is compelled to look at their chirping electronic device rather than be with me. Really, what is it about those leashes that have made us all rude? What will 100 years bring? Absolutely no human contact of any kind?

So, anyway, back to slowing down. I can't eat grilled food all the time, so here's one of my go to recipes for summer. It simmers in your crock pot all day and is great for those days when standing over a 600 degree grill just seems wrong.

Pulled Pork with Beer and Garlic

Take a big old pork roast, loin is good, but way too expensive to cook until it falls apart. Put it in your crock pot. Dump in a good bottle of beer and more garlic than you think you can stand. Salt and pepper to taste and let it cook all day.

Shred, put on buns and top with bbq sauce and cole slaw. Freeze leftovers to do the same thing in the future when it's too hot or your too busy too cook.

Makes a great tortilla stuffer too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Just One More Grill Marinade

A Smidgen of This Marinade

I'm always surprised by how very little liquid you actually need to marinate with. This marinade goes together quickly and was a hit with my family and one of Sam's friends when used on chicken. We especially liked the leftovers the next day cut up and tossed with a big veggie salad. I think it would be great on steak and pork too.

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 TB honey

2 TB vinegar, white or cider

1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 tsp grated ginger

1/2 medium onion chopped (or equivalent dried or onion powder)

pepper to taste

Place all in a zip bag. Add desired meat and let marinate for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. Longer is better. Remove from marinade and grill.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suzie Homemaker Household Engineer and SuperWife

I hate to tell people that I'm a housewife. You get that look of condescension and perhaps a little pity. Some, a very rare few, will say, "hardest job on Earth." And they're right and I want to kiss them which makes for a very awkward moment in Minnesota Land of Very Defined Personal Space.

I've developed many answers over the years. Queen of the Mean Vacuum gets the most puzzled looks. (Where have all the funny people gone?) SuperMom is the shortened version that most people seem to appreciate and understand.

There are some days that I really feel valued and like I'm making a contribution. Yes, I do this (insert mundane task here) and because I do this (insert mundane task here), D doesn't have to worry about it. He can make the bacon in peace. But, it's mostly when I'm baking that I feel like I'm making a warm and happy home. Not warm in the literal sense of what in the heck are you doing turning on the oven when the air conditioning is on, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, then comes out Suzie Homemaker Household Engineer and SuperWife. I brandish my spatula and whip up some kind of sweet hug for my boys.

This was one of those days. As you can see by the picture, it was well received. I've separated the recipe by crust and filling. This is my go to single crust recipe. It takes 5 minutes and is flaky and fantabulous. And if you serve it to me, I'll know you've visited my blog! I can't keep this one to myself, it's just too good and too easy to not share.

Betsi's Super Easy One Crust Pie Crust

I'm sure you could double it and then roll out or piece together a top crust.

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 TB skim milk

Preheat oven to 400. Mix all with a fork, press in a pie pan, flute the edges, and poke the bottom with the same fork. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Then cool and fill to your heart's delight.

Sort of the Same Recipe for Blueberry Pie that one of Darren's Relatives Made, but Better Because I Lost the Recipe and Was Able to come up with a Delicious Version Myself Which May Even Be Exactly the Same as the Original

This is really easy, but don't tell them that!

2 pints of blueberries, place 1 in the pie shell, 1 in a sauce pan over medium heat

Add to the pan:

1 TB flour

1 TB butter

1 TB lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until berries just begin to pop. Pour filling over berries in the pie shell. Chill and serve. I love it just as is, but if you want to go completely over the top, serve with vanilla bean ice cream or real whipping cream.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Probably the Best Lowfat Blueberry Muffins I've Ever Baked*

*Bragging as a general rule is not accepted in Minnesota culture, but I'm putting this one out there. We loved them. Enjoy at your own risk. They're so good that portion control is a challenge!

We went blueberry picking with friends last Friday morning, followed by a picnic at Big Marine Park Reserve. Fun day! The blueberries hung like grapes, so picking was very easy. The three boys were especially good at it. The shortest one could get up under the bushes like a champ!

We love blueberries at our house. So, finding ways to use them has not been hard. We ate them fresh all day Friday. We had blueberry muffins and blueberry pie (recipe tomorrow). The blueberry muffins were a hit. This batch was so big there were plenty to freeze to take along on our camping trip.

Amazing Low Fat Blueberry Muffins
Why blogger won't let me use HTML today, I don't know. But, here you go, no spaces no matter what I do. I'm sure you can deal with it.
Makes 24 muffins
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla-- I think you could go up to almost a tablespoon
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups light or fat free sour cream
2 to 4 cups of blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add wet ingredients (except blueberries) and stir until just well combined. Fold in blueberries.
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup real butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix topping ingredients until crumbly.
Line muffin cups with paper liners. Fill muffin cups with batter. I use an ice cream scoop disher to make it easy and to keep the muffins in a uniform size for baking. Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

August 8 is officially been named Sneak Some Zucchini on your Neighbor's Front Porch Night, but I'm getting a jump on things. Be forewarned. If you're within a bike ride of my home, you might want to leave your porch lights on and and a kid with KoolAid in his SuperSoaker hiding in the bushes. Cause once the sun sets, I'm on my way.

We've been dive bombed already this summer by a neighbor and my plants are loaded. So, I went to All Recipes to see just what to do with all this shit bounty.

This recipe uses 8 cups, can I hear a Hallelujah? You can even use the big ones that your kids like to throw against the fence repeatedly until they explode.

And dang, if it doesn't taste like apple cobbler. Seriously, it fooled even the pickiest of eaters and if I had been smarter and removed the seeds, it would have fooled everyone.

Head on over HERE for the recipe. I want to make sure that Don gets full credit. I followed the recipe exactly which is really hard for a non measuring cook like me to do. I wouldn't change a thing

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Learning to Let Go

I don't remember who it was, some actress, maybe Lindsay Lohan, and I'd hate to mention anything that I admire about her, but I really think it was her. And if it was her, then I've found a redeeming quality in her that I'll cling to as she bumpily navigates her way through life.

Anyway, in the background of a busy day, I was stopped smack dab in the middle of a dirty bathroom because I heard the words, "Just breathe." You see, it was one of those days where my thoughts were muddled and jumbled and my To Do Lists had developed their own To Do Lists. There were Post-it Notes in my brain and all over my counter tops and stuck to mirrors. I was frustrated and overwhelmed and I just knew, it wasn't all going to get done. No way, no how.

And those words, they came through loud and clear, despite the fact that I was quite far from the TV and I abhor daytime television...........

So, anyway, back to the actress. She had the word breathe tattooed in white so it really was only apparent to her on the underside of her wrist. And immediately, I wanted to find the nearest tattoo parlor, which in suburbia would be a very long drive. Long enough that I would totally reconsider because there's nothing permanent that I would ever want applied to my skin, aside from sunscreen because I just hate having to put that on again and again and again.

Breathe, remember?

And I realized, I need this reminder from time to time. Dinner can be hot dogs and all will be well. I don't need to work my way through one of Julia Child's cookbooks. That's been done and it doesn't need to be done again. Dust is a wonderful household accessory. He can wear the same socks two days in a row. It won't kill him. Even Martha Stewart has weeds in her garden. And the dude in the Home Depot ad probably has just as many unfinished house projects as we do. The universe will not come to a screeching halt if the items on my lists don't get crossed off. They're lists and by their very definition, they never end.


So, here's a recipe that doesn't require much thought, planning, or preparation. Just toss it together. Grill or bake. And then sit down and breathe.

Chili Maple Marinade
Good on chicken, pork chops, pork ribs, or pork tenderloin.

3 TB maple syrup
2 TB chili powder
a little water
salt to taste

Dump together. Marinate if you have time. Grill or bake until done.

Serve with a big salad, straight from the bag, and steamed veggies (straight from the bag!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One More Honey at the Table

Sam has been so busy this summer. There have only been a handful of days that he hasn't had a friend over or been invited to one of their houses. Mostly it's been our house. "You're so lucky not to have a brother," one kid yelled as they ran out to the pool.

Playdates have blurred edges at our house. If it's close to dinner time, there will just be an extra place at the table.

This recipe easily lends itself to adding one more chicken breast to the marinade and it's a definite kid pleaser.

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

1/3 cup mustard, Dijon is perfect, spicy brown would be nice, just don't use "that yellow stuff" as Sam says
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp minced garlic
2 TB light mayonnaise
2 tsp steak sauce
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix all, but the chicken breasts in a small mixing bowl. Place chicken breasts in a zip bag. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Seal bag and toss to coat. Refrigerate chicken and the reserved marinade for at least 2 hours. If you're using frozen chicken breasts, just let them defrost overnight in the marinade. Preheat your grill for medium high heat Remove chicken from bag. Discard marinade. Grill for 7 minutes per side, basting cooked side with reserved marinade. Be sure chicken is completely cooked through and has an internal temp of 165 degrees.

Monday, July 12, 2010

You Say Tomato...

If you get a cool day this summer, you must use your garden bounty to make this treat. I try to roast tomatoes whenever I can. This is a slow roast recipe. You can also roast them on your grill if it's too hot. Biz over at Biggest Diabetic Loser has a great recipe for grilled tomato soup that's to die for. (Thanks Biz!) Instructions for grilling tomatoes can be found at her wonderful website. Be warned, you will find yourself lost in her fabulous pictures and recipes.

Roasted Tomatoes

Use in pasta or rice salads, to toss with basil and hot pasta, or eat directly from the fridge. Great on cooked chicken or fish. Mix with roasted peppers and put on a sandwich. Mix with white beans, fresh basil......If you can't figure out what to do with them, drop them off at my house! Yum.

Line a big pan with parchment paper. Wash and slice your cherry tomatoes in half or chop regular tomato into bite size pieces (I've never tried this, but I'm sure it will work). Slicing the tomatoes is a tedious job that you can pawn off on your kids. Add several cloves of garlic, unpeeled or peeled. I was lazy the day I made this, so I left them unpeeled. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Then roast in your preheated 225 degree oven for 3 hours. Your house will smell amazing. Cool and store in a covered container in your fridge.

Monday, July 5, 2010


There are a few things that people do not tell you about motherhood. One of the biggest kept secrets is that your job title becomes the official K.o.S (Keeper of Shit). And it's not an honorable title.

Everyone will look to you when they can't find their own stuff.

And it's not just your kids.

I think a long time ago, when people had less shit, this was a much more desirable title. And then they built castles and it all went to hell.

I've been accused of stealing and secretively hiding away:

  • remote controls

  • fireworks

  • rocket engines

  • men's size small underwear

  • bike locks

  • keys to a car I rarely drive

  • the checkbook

  • the other checkbook

  • an iPhone

  • a game case for an Xbox game (even though my thumbs haven't evolved enough to use a controller like that)

  • a set of screwdrivers

  • a tape measure (that actually is MINE)

  • a boys size xl swimsuit

  • beach towels

  • the camera

  • the video camera

  • our passports

  • sunglasses

  • fishing gear

  • some sort of tool that I couldn't identify even if my life depended upon it

all for my own personal enjoyment and satisfaction.

The K.o.S title has even prompted me to only own purses that can hold just my shit.

We had my mom over for dinner and blowing up stuff for the Fourth. Panicked and stricken, Sam came bursting into the room with a dire emergency. He couldn't recharge his phone. "I've looked everywhere."* Darren and I were unfazed by the emergency phone cord loss. It happens almost every day. Mom wanted to call out the National Guard. But, I held strongly to the beliefs that

a. It's not my phone and if he wants the perk of having a phone he has to be responsible for said phone and all it's cords, attachments, do-dads and deelie-boppers (Those were all extra and were paid for out of said owner's allowance.)

b. Responsibility training is a difficult, but essential part of my job.

c. Never treat an only child as if they're the complete center of the universe if you don't have to.

I have to wonder if they ever ask themselves why I never ask them where my shit is.

*This phrase is a prerequisite when approaching the K.o.S. The speaker must convey the extreme peril of the situation and his already thorough searching.

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!