Monday
Jan182016

Not Nice, Indeed

As we waited patiently for the elevator doors to open, Alexis let out a happy sigh. After several minutes of Mila complaining, I had finally let Alexis take Mila out of the stroller and they had been walking together, hand-in-hand, giggling as they often do. "Mom, I love having a sister," Alexis said as she stood with Mila.

It's true. She does.

Happiness spread over Alexis' face as she thought about all of the things that having a sister has changed for her. She has gained some independence even as she has had to give up a few freedoms. There are no more late night Alexis Dance Parties because SHHHHHHH! MILA IS SLEEPING! but there are early evening dance parties that feature both girls. I say "Watch your sister for a minute" almost as often as I say "Pick up your dirty clothes," but that "watch" thing is open to interpretation. Sometimes it annoys Alexis, but often it's a treat.

Alexis continued to smile as the elevator chimed to signal it had arrived. The doors parted and out walked a mom and her daughter and her other daughter and her other daughter ... and her other daughter. And her other daughter. Five near clones of their mom shuffled out in a row, the only visible difference between them their ages. I'd guess there was a ten year spread total between the five girls.

I watched as Alexis processed what she was seeing. Her eyes grew wider and wider before she turned to watch them walk away and then made a OMG! face to me. "Do you think they are all sisters?" she mouthed.

"Yep," I replied. "I think they are." Then I continued, "Can you imagine having four sisters? It would be four times as much fun!"

"MOM ARE YOU CRAZY?" Alexis instantly yelled back. The doors to the elevator had closed, which is usually when a dance party breaks out, but the girl was too stunned to remember that dancing when nobody can see you is the best. She then launched into a looooong laundry list of reasons it would be awful to have THAT many sisters. "The sharing, mom! I'd have to share everything! Even the air I breathe!"

"So one sister is enough for you?" I asked.

"YES!" Alexis yelled.

Miss Mila, she who is usually full of all of the words, had remained silent through the exchange. Perhaps she was confused by the lack of an elevator dance party. Perhaps she was busy plotting world domination. I don't really know. I just know that she picked that exact moment to raise her voice and yell, "NOT NICE!"

You can't make everyone happy, I guess.

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Sunday
Jan172016

Grilled Veggie Hoagies

Long ago, I worked at a little company that was near a small restaurant called Bee'z. Bee'z is your typical neighborhood restaurant in that the service is terrible but the food is pretty terrific. They have pizza and pasta and just a bit more and did I mention Grilled Veggie Hoagies? Because good grief. They win at Grilled Veggie Hoagies.

And THAT is why I made Bee'z a very regular lunch haunt. The Grilled Veggie Hoagie is all that and then some.

Alas, Bee'z is no longer convenient for lunch or even dinner, so I went hunting for a new source for Grilled Veggie Hoagies. That task turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than expected. Nobody gets them quite right, so I had to figure them out for myself.

Which, WIN!

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Though, I will be the first to tell you that this recipe is lacking one really important ingredient that would make all the difference in the world. It's missing that magical ingredient where someone else did all of the work and you just sat and happily ate.

I still have to figure out how to get that ingredient in my life more often.

Grilled Veggie Hoagies (makes four 6-8 inch hoagies)

Hoagie rolls
Provolone cheese slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced hot pepper rings
1 pound baby spinach
1/2 cup feta (Bee'z uses ricotta. I say feta is better.)
Shredded lettuce
Tomato slices
Italian dressing

1. Turn the oven broiler on high. You're going to use it to melt the provolone and toast your hoagie rolls a bit.

2. While that's heating up, let's get started with grilling the vegetables. The only trick to this is the order of the veggies. The goal is to start with the veggies that need the longest to cook so that everything is ready at the same time. So! Big skillet. Olive oil. Medium-high heat. Start with the red peppers. While they are cooking, slice your onion. By the time the onion is ready to throw in, the peppers will have had a decent enough head start. Then let the onion cook for 3-4 minutes before adding the next thing. You're ready to rumble when the onion starts to turn clear. Once the onion starts to seem clear, toss in the olives, mushrooms, pepper rings, and spinach. Yes, I know that's a lot of spinach. It will shrink as it cooks.

(Don't forget to stir the veggies as they cook so that you don't burn anything.)

3. Speaking of the spinach cooking, when it's completely wilted, it's time to toss in the feta. Give it 30 seconds to warm up then turn off the heat on your veggies.

4. Slice open your hoagie rolls. Place them on a cookie sheet so that the sliced open sides are facing up. Toss a few slices of provolone cheese on top of each roll then put them in the oven. Allow the broiler to melt the cheese. The amount of time it will take will vary wildly based on your oven. Just watch it. When you think the cheese is melted enough, it's melted enough.

5. Once the cheese is melted, top with some grilled veggies. Then toss some shredded lettuce and tomato slices on top. Then add a bit of Italian dressing.

So good.

So very good.

Saturday
Jan162016

Thanks, Mila

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