Sunday, March 24, 2013

I am La Salle.

La Salle University just made it into the Sweet Sixteen.  The end of the game was so intense that I was hiding in my La Salle blanket because I just couldn't watch.  Only Jason counting the seconds aloud and the cheers that went up let me know the game had ended in our favor.

I have always enjoyed college basketball.  My father attended a school that went to the "Big Dance" from time to time, and we went to a Mount or La Salle game occasionally.  I went to maybe 4 La Salle games in my time there, partly because I was just so busy, and the energy around the team didn't pull me in.  I went to a few games while I taught, mainly as something to do while J was at work.  One of my colleagues in the history department is the team's "spiritual advisor," so I went to the game honoring  him last year.

The team was on fire this year.  Big upsets, exciting games: It made me miss being on campus.

Most people where I live now hadn't heard of La Salle until A) they met me or B) this past week.

They have now.

I'm so excited for the possibilities the Big Dance opens up for a school like La Salle.  Alumni donations, enrollment, recruitment, and the positive PR is something a long time coming for this wonderful school.

Now that folks have heard of our men's basketball team (GO EXPLORERS), they may now hear about the nurturing community, award winning Honors Program, and all of the other perks that come from a La Sallian education.  Schools like La Salle don't live and die by a sports program (although it doesn't hurt).  We rely on something deeper, something bigger than ourselves.  The values of St. John Baptiste de La Salle tie us together in ways that sometimes take us years to realize.  I can list at least 20 people that I know who found their spouse at La Salle (myself included).  Friends made here are friends for life.

2013 marks the school's 150th anniversary, founded in the midst of the American Civil War.  We have survived wars (when our students were only men); we have reached out all over the world to make life better for the less fortunate; we have academic credentials that impress (98% med school acceptance rate and 50 Fulbright Scholars, to name two).

In short, I hope the Big Dance shines the light on a school that deserves a second look.  I loved my times on campus (student and faculty), and I am eager to return one day (either as faculty or as a parent).

In all my actions, I am La Salle.
In association, we are La Salle.


LLP and I leaping for joy on campus, 2009.

Graduation, May 2008.
 - M., class of 2008.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I'm not a fan of pre-made spaghetti sauce (or gravy, as my Italian friends call it).  My mom has almost always made spaghetti sauce herself, and the recipe she has is easy and so so so tasty.  In another installment of my recipe sharing:



2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves fresh)
Sweet Italian sausage (optional)
3 lbs. crushed tomatoes (2 of the really big cans)
3-6 oz cans tomato paste
Basil (fresh or dried
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. thyme

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (85/15 or 80/20 suggested)
1 egg
1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tbsp. parsley (dried)

1. In a large sauce pan, pour olive oil.  Brown the garlic.
2. Cut the sausage on an angle into 2" chunks.  Brown in the olive oil / garlic mixture.  Remove the sausage, put in a dish, and refrigerate.
3. Add crushed tomatos and tomato paste.  Add three 6-oz cans of water.  Add spices, stir, and simmer.
4. Preheat the oven to about 425 degrees F.
5. Mix the meatball ingredients together by hand (it's super aware).  Make the meatballs into whatever size you like.  For me, this usually makes 12 meatballs.
6. Replace the sausage and meatballs into the sauce and let simmer for a few hours.

My mom and I always agree that the sauce actually tastes better after it has been refrigerated over night and reheated on the stove.  We don't know why; it just does.

Hope you enjoy!

- M.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Strawberry Chicken Spinach Salad

Last night's dinner was a delicious and fresh change from a lot of the wintery foods we've been eating.  I'm so happy to go into the produce aisle and see some of my favorite fruits back in season.  Strawberries are a favorite of all three of us, especially E.

All the ingredients, minus the chicken, which was cooking.

As promised, here is the (very very easy) recipe:

 - 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 per person, really)
 - 10 strawberries, washed and sliced how you please.  Obviously, since this is a salad, you can use as many or as few as you like.
 - Goat cheese (we didn't have this last night, but I've used it before to great success)
 - 1 bunch of spinach (again, as much as you please.  This is your salad base)

(For the Poppy Seed Dressing)
 - 1/2 cup sugar
 - 1 cup vegetable oil
 - 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
 - 1 t. salt
 - 1 T. poppy seeds
Not from last night, but just a vision of amazing strawberries.

1. Grill the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.  We discussed potential marinades last night, but didn't have a chance to test any.  Let us know if you try one!
2. Wash and slice strawberries.
3. Wash and dry spinach.
4. Mix dressing ingredients into a bowl or salad dressing container.  Be sure you can re-seal it, because it makes a lot of delicious dressing.
5. Plate your food: Spinach, strawberries, sliced chicken, cheese, dressing.


The longest step for us was defrosting the chicken.  It's easy and fresh, and a whole meal on one plate.  We gave E pieces of the meal, and supplemented with some other easier to eat foods (grilled chicken is too chewy for him still).

 - M.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Meal Planning

My crazy schedule, which just got a little nuttier, doesn't allow me to eat at home much during the week.  I have dinner on Monday and Friday at home and lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We usually plan a home-cooked meal for Monday and order in on Fridays.

This week, however, is spring break, which means that I am home all day, everyday.  I decided to plan some meals so we'd have left overs for next week.  In addition to sharing our plan with you, I'm also going to share the recipes!  I'm not a confident or adventurous cook, so rest assured these are pretty simple.

Here's our plan:

Monday: Strawberry Chicken Spinach Salad, with home-made poppy seed dressing

Tuesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs (and side salads)

Wednesday: Cheesy Crab Soup (probably the last one until the fall)

Thursday: Chicken Broccoli Divan

Friday: Oh...we're still eating out.  Probably Neato Burrito.  It's a local chain that's kinda like Chipotle.

I'm going to try to make some different snacks with left overs.

Today, Elliott and I enjoyed Pillsbury crescent rolls with peanut butter and Nutella in them.  Mmmm.  Sweet, but the peanut butter packs protein!

Hope you enjoy this series.  I'm also trying to get a handle on my school work and teaching.  I was assigned an "emergency" class, so I'm prepping for that.  I know life will be crazy this month with new classes, club events, and conferences (two!), so the more I get done in advance, the better.  Even if I get nothing else done, what I've finished so far this weekend is going to set me ahead.

Happy Spring Break!

- M.

Irish Soda Bread

I'm divulging a McGee family recipe today that I think you will really enjoy.  With St. Patrick's Day coming up, it's always nice to enjoy a sweet treat in between all that corned beef, cabbage, potato, and green beer.  Irish Soda bread is a good breakfast treat, or something for the end of the day.

The keys to amazing Irish Soda Bread.

Mixing the dry ingredients.
 - 3 cups unsifted flour
 - 1 tsp. baking soda
 - 1 tsp. baking powder
 - 2/3 cup sugar
 - 1 tsp. salt
 - 1 1/2 cups raisins

 - 2 Tbsp. melted shortning (or unsalted butter)
 - 2 eggs, whipped
 - 2 cups buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, or can't find it, here is a substitute.  Make enough to substitute 2 cups.)

1. Remove all refrigerated ingredients to allow them to come to room temperature.
2. Preset oven for 350 degrees F.
3. Mix dry ingredients together.
4. One at a time, mix wet ingredients into dry mixture.
5. Grease your dish.  I use dark brown glass dishes; one is a loaf pan and the other is an 8" x 8" dark brown glass dish.  They seem to use the batter perfectly.  My mother uses small aluminium or metal loaf pans to give the bread as gifts. A single recipe makes about 4 small (5" x 3") loaves, while a double recipe makes about 9.  Fill the container about 2/3 full.  They will get bigger, so don't overfill!
6. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Check with a toothpick to ensure the bread is cooked through. (If you are using smaller containers, cook for about 35 minutes).

You're done!  I enjoy Irish soda bread with the smallest amount of unsalted butter.  It's what my grandma used to put on top, so its nostalgic.

Happy (early) St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I Have to Wonder...

The room that needed the most rehab this year is our office.  It is, to be blunt, a hot mess.  I do very little work in there because it is too cluttered and too distracting.  I've been working on it little by little.  The main question I ask myself in this situation is "why did I EVER save this?"

I talked about why our lives are cluttered in this post from last year, and the clutter in my office definitely falls under the category of "emotional clutter."  It's old school notes that I never intend to look at again (although I organized the ones that will help me in the future).  It's random handouts and flyers and posters for events that don't even warrant a page in my scrapbook.  There is at least 15 pounds of paper waiting to go out in the recycling tomorrow.

I'm on Spring Break right now; I'm hoping to get caught up on both schoolwork and organizing this week.  I definitely need the break.

- M.