Southwestern Caesar Salad

I've made this salad a whole bunch of times. It's an adaptation of Rachael Ray's version which you can find here. Hers is very good, and the dressing is absolutely delicious. I like to add chicken to mine to make it a main dish. And I make my own tortilla strips because I'm awesome. Also, I'm of the belief that a salad isn't any good unless it has tomatoes in it.

See those tomatoes in the picture? I grew those in my very own garden. I LOVE tomatoes. And I hate paying so much for them at the store. So this summer I'm growing my own. It's my way of standing up to The Man. It's possible I have some anger issues against The Man because every time I go into my garden to pick a tomato, I raise my fist into the air in victory. Not victory as in "Yay! I grew a tomato!" but victory as in "Take THAT!" to The Man. That's one less tomato I have to buy from you - The Man! As a disclaimer, I'm not really sure who The Man is, other than anyone I have to pay money to. I know that in this case farmers are not The Man, so it's probably the grocery store. I'm a confused rebel.

My rebellion may be rubbing off on Peyton a little. A few weeks ago I heard him singing to himself in his room. I crept up to listen in and I heard his sweet little voice singing Bob Marley:
"Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!"

I know, totally proof that I'm raising my son right.

And then other night, we were reading, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." And I'm not kidding, after every page Peyton would raise his fist into the air and yell, "POWER TO THE PEOPLE!" I'm sure what "POWER TO THE PEOPLE!" had to do with the story, but it took me twice as long to read because I was laughing so hard.

Anyway, whatever, here's the recipe (I included the chicken and tomatoes, and I don't like to measure, so just add as much as you like).

Southwestern Caesar Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
A little bit of honey, to sweeten the dressing
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Grilled chicken breasts, chopped - I put blackening spices on mine
Tomatoes, chopped
Blue corn, black bean or other tortilla chips (If you want to be awesome, like me, make your own - recipe below)
1/4 cup smoked cheddar and 1/4 cup pepper Jack

Chop and place romaine in a large salad bowl. Whisk together garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, chili powder, and honey in a small bowl. Continue whisking while streaming in extra-virgin olive oil. When dressing is combined, toss Romaine salad with dressing and garnish salad with chicken, tomatoes, broken tortilla chips, smoked cheddar and pepper Jack cheese.

Tortilla Strips: Cut some corn tortillas in little strips. I stack up a bunch of whole tortillas and then slice them. Toss the strips in a little olive oil and any combination of spices - I like cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread them out in one layer on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Stir them up and bake until they are golden brown. They will keep cooking a little after you take them out of the oven, so watch them closely. Also, they can turn from golden brown to burnt in a matter of minutes, so be careful.


Glazed Lemon Cookies

These lemon cookies are really easy to make and sooooo delicious! Peyton and Ella helped me, of course, and they loved them, too!

Peyton thought it was super cool when the the powdered sugar "melted" when we mixed it with the lemon juice to make the glaze. Ella prefers hers without the glaze. Because she's Ella - The Purist. But don't listen to her. She's 3. I've been around the cookie block enough times to know that they are WAY better with the glaze.

The only downside being that because they're not a super-sweet cookie, and they're lemony, my mind likes to pretend that I'm not eating an actual dessert. Which means I could easily have eaten the whole batch. By myself. In one sitting. The only reason I didn't is because my kids know where I sleep. I don't need any cookie wrath directed at me. Yeah. I'm totally afraid of my kids. Cookies are the only way I get them to behave. That's normal, right? Anyway...

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Makes 24 Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat until combined. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture.

2. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread cookies with Lemon Glaze and let set, about 1 hour.

Lemon Glaze

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth.

Happy Baking!

"O at Home" Can Suck It

I LOVE Oprah.

If there was a stronger word for love, I would totally use it in that last sentence. I adore her. I read whatever books she tells me to read. I listen very, very carefully to whatever exercise and food regimens her doctors tell me to follow - and then I don't follow them, but still, I listen carefully. Love. Love. Love. Love teetering on worship. As in, if she told me to drink the Kool-Aid, it would take me AT LEAST 30 seconds before I told her to suck it. (I just reread that sentence, and it stung a little.) And most of those 30 seconds would be spent gazing into her Oprah eyes in Oprah awe and soaking in the Oprah love.

And the only reason I can write this post in good conscience is that I'm pretty sure Oprah herself had nothing to do with my issue.

And here it is:

Plink is the name of the color of my daughter's room.

A few months ago, "O at Home" magazine made a list of "10 Shade Names We'd Never Allow on Our Walls." Yeah, I'm a little behind on my magazine reading.

Now, how many paint color names do you think there are in the world? I'm going to venture a guess that there are no less than ONE GAZILLION. Out of all those, can you guess, JUST GUESS! what "O at Home" picked as number 10 on their stupid little list? OH, NO YOU DIDN'T "O at Home!"

And, you know what, I don't really care what paint colors they'd allow on their million dollar walls. But I want the rest of the world to know, Plink is a darling color. And out of all the colors in the paint section of Lowe's, Ella chose Plink for her room. Of course, she might not have the most discernible eye for color, she is only three years old. But I fully support her and her decision.

At the bottom of their list they have a little: *Manufacturers to remain nameless.

Valspar makes Plink. I support them, too. I think the name is sweet. It reminds me of the sound a penny makes when you throw it in a wishing well. It's hopeful and small and sweet. How can you argue that kind of logic?

You might be thinking, "That Darcy - she's a whackamo. She's just making this crap up."

And if you are, first of all, who makes up crap like this? It's ridiculous.

For more proof, see this post to see Ella's cute little face when the Easter Bunny brought her the paint that she had picked out.

And secondly,

I know, right? It's DELIGHTFUL!

And that is why I am speaking out against "O at Home" and their stupid-ass list.

And that is why, on behalf of my daughter, I am telling "O at Home" that they CAN SUCK IT. And when I get their magazine in the mail, I am totally going to read my "Better Homes and Gardens" AND the regular "Oprah" magazines BEFORE I read "O at Home" as a vow of solidarity to my baby girl. I may even make little Plink-colored awareness wristbands and send them out at Christmas. Who's ready to join us? Power to the Plink!

My sweet little Ella. Mommy's got your back, baby girl!

*Epilogue: When I went to attach a link to "O a Home" - because you know I still love it - I realized they had stopped publication! I thought I hadn't seen any new issues because I was so far behind on my magazine reading. It just goes to show what happens when magazines make crappy lists about beautiful paint colors - cancellation, baby, cancellation. Take note home magazines! Or I'll come after you, too! Power to the Plink!

Wonder Pets Theme Song

I totally remember, back in the day, when Ella started singing along with her favorite TV shows: Caillou, Wonder Pets, The Wiggles. Oh my goodness, hearing my sweet little baby girl sing in her sweet little baby girl voice was pure heaven. So, so sweet.

And still, I love hearing her sing, but now it's a little different. Because now she likes to infuse her own style into everything she does.

Let's take the Wonder Pets theme song, for example. You may think these are the intro lyrics. Nope.
Here are the real lyrics, as sung by my darling daughter:

Wonder Pets! 
Wonder Pets! 
We're on our POOP! 
To help a friend 
And save the POOP! 
We're not too big 
And we're not too POOP 
But when we work together 
We've got the right POOP! 
Go, Wonder Pets, POOOOOOP!



The other day as we were getting ready to go to the park I told Peyton and Ella to each get a hat. Ella owns two pink sun hats and a Little Mermaid pink baseball cap. So, of course she comes out of Peyton's room wearing his old cowboy hat. The girl has her own style, what can I say?

Because We Don't Enforce Proper Dinner Etiquette

So we're in the middle of eating dinner. Ella declares, "Be right back!" She jumps off her chair and disappears into her room. A few seconds later she emerges:


And a moment later Peyton leaves the table. He returns:

Bam! I know, he's totally in his own gang in this picture.
West Siiiide!

As punishment we made them go outside with empty pillowcases. And in order to come back in, they had to say, "I'm crazy diaper-head! Gimme some candy!" again and again until James and I fell over laughing.

Okay, maybe it's not really punishment, it's more like Dinner and a Show. You just can't beat that kind of free entertainment.

So then, the next day, Ella comes out of her room with a diaper on her head. Again. It's the new fashion from her fall line:

I mean, what are you supposed to do when your kid looks THIS CUTE with a diaper on her head?

Let her wear it, that's what you do.