Cooking, Personally Speaking

Lunch to Supper

I love to cook, but I don’t want to spend a life time in the kitchen which is why I love to make meals that the family loves but does not take a long time for me to get on the table. For my lunch I like a simple little dish which I have talked about before but it is easy to make it work just the same for supper, you just need to make some changes that make it feel like it bigger than it really is. Since this is a little bit bigger I use a wok but only because I have one. You can use whatever pan will hold everything if you don’t. Thawed chicken, cut into bite sized pieces. Amount of everything will depend on how much chicken – I usually do three breasts a package of frozen broccoli, and I use something like 2 tsp for that. You should have enough to coat your pan, so the chicken doesn’t stick. Cook it on medium heat. You want enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan in a thin shimmery layer and you’d want to cook the chicken over high heat. I find chicken tough to cut up evenly before cooking it. If you’re having trouble with it, it’s easier when it’s partially frozen – it holds its shape more, so you can see what you’re doing. When you throw in the broccoli, you can add the sauces too and stir it up and let it all steam together. I throw it in frozen, you can thaw it if you want, it’ll cook faster that way. Turn the heat down to medium low after you add the broccoli/cover to steam. Stir it every few minutes so that the stuff on the bottom doesn’t get overcooked. I’d turn it down when you throw it on, just to give yourself some more wiggle room. The chicken will have some residual heat to help the broccoli along. For the sauces, I’d guess it’s about 1 tsp of each per chicken breast, although you can add more sriracha if you like it hotter. If you want to change it up, you can also do thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, peppers, snow peas, or you can get the bags of frozen “stir fry” veggies if you don’t feel like assembling/prepping your own stuff. This recipe works pretty well for beef, too, but beef is easier to overcook imo.
Personally Speaking

How I Lunch

This is a quick one. But I just thought I would share what a typical lunch looks like for me. I make the other women at the office jealous. I cook chicken in sesame oil, add broccoli, put a lid on it and let it steam. Add a tablespoon of oyster flavored sauce, a squirt of soy sauce and a squirt of sriracha. Eat over plain rice. I have those nice little disposable containers and I mix the rice and veggies when I am ready to eat. Coconut oil is tasty too, if you’re not watching sat fats (which I am).
Personally Speaking

We Are A Swinging State

Have you ever wondered why we are your perfect example of a swing state? The reason is simple. We are the US. At least we are the US on a small scale. We have 3 major cities that go hardcore blue, a handful of less known cities that also go blue, and alot of farm land that can magically vote Republican. Out in the country the GOP is strong. Throw in an atrocious amount of gerrymandering and you get Ohio. And while Ohio may be on the northern side of the country you’ll only find democrats near the cities.
Personally Speaking

Alcohol State Park

Are alcoholic beverages allowed in state parks?

Alcohol is prohibited in public areas in every state park. The only exceptions are resort lodge restaurants and lounges, which provide complete beverage service. In addition, the golf course pro shops at Deer Creek, Hueston Woods, Maumee Bay, Punderson, and Salt Fork offer limited beverage service. The State of Ohio legal age for possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21 years of age.

If you're discreet and responsible, you can drink at your campsite.

Technically still against the rules, but I've had rangers walk past me when I waved with a beer in my hand because he was on his way to toss out some rowdy kids who weren't discreet or responsible.

Personally Speaking

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The park is a nice spot for some mellow day hikes. Mostly the trails are through an established hardwood forest that was carved up in interesting ways by the glaciers that used to frequent the area. Think of it as a shady woods, with mossy sandstone cliffs and rocks, with some streams and waterfalls. If you were just walking the trails leisurely, most trail heads can be explored in under 3 hours, giving you the chance to then drive to another part of the park and explore some more. It has some fantastic hikes, wonderful waterfalls, and contains part of one heck of a bike trail. Just keep in mind that the park is designed around visitors taking a quick day trip from one of the surrounding cities. Most everything is a short walk from a parking area, with a heavy focus on picnic spots for families. The bike trails are flat. Road biking between trail heads/destinations is possible, but keep in mind the roads are two lane with a minimal shoulder and folks tend to drive a bit fast. There is a great farmers market there and some of the most dedicated volunteers. The area around Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers additional opportunities that those other areas do not offer. It is also bordered by several Cuyahoga and Summit county metroparks that are also great. It’s a great place to visit, but I’d definitely rank it in the bottom third of U.S. national parks, though that’s not necessarily an insult. It’d be like ranking in the bottom third of your class in Harvard. You still graduated Harvard.
Personally Speaking

I Love Broccoli

Quinoa, I hear people raving about it everywhere and now I finally decided to try and make something with it. I actually settled on a casserole since they are pretty hard to mess up and I will be honest the quinoa didn't have to carry the whole thing.

Since I love broccoli chicken casserole I decided to base the recipe off of that. And here is what I came up with:

The Ingredients (Standard stuff)

  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup flour (all-pupose)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Seasonings:
    • garlic powder
    • black pepper
    • red pepper flakes
    • salt
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
    • Everyone has told me this is important and it said to do it on the package so I did my best. It is really hard and this was actually the first minus point I gave the product
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
    • I lightly grilled the chicken breast in oil since I thought that the quinoa would get soggy if left to cook until the chicken was done. This turned out to not be the case.
  • ¼ cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
    • I used a large head of broccoli


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease 9×13” baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a saucepan, bring broth and ½ cup almond milk to a boil.
    1. While waiting for mixture to boil, whisk together ½ cup flour and the remaining milk in a small bowl to make a cream base.
    2. Add mix along with 1 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp salt, and pinch red pepper flakes into boiling pot.
    3. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine broth mixture with quinoa and 1 cup of water. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  4. Cut chicken length-wise into 2”-thick strips and place on top of quinoa mixture in pan. Add pinch of salt and pepper over chicken then bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  5. While casserole is baking, steam broccoli about 3-4 minutes, or until just slightly soft – you still want them to be a little crisp so they don’t get soggy once you add them to the casserole.
  6. After casserole has baked for 30 minutes, check to see if chicken is cooked through and the quinoa has puffed out. If either are still undercooked, return casserole to oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Once quinoa and chicken are cooked, stir in steamed broccoli along with ½ cup of water. Top with cheese and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the sauce has thickened.
  8. Remove from oven and let it sit for about fifteen minutes before you serve
  9. Enjoy!

I think it was a hit, but I will probably not make it again anytime soon. My expereince with the quinoa was, well, lacking.

Personally Speaking

College Years

Years ago I had vanity plates and they were double the cost of regular every year for renewal. So, it was $50 a year for standard and $100 a year for the vanity registrations.

I looked up the cost again today because I was thinking that I wanted something a little different. And passenger car is $34.50. Personalized is $50 additional. Logo plates are another $0-50 (for example most college logos are $35 more, but military ones are free with proof) and that's on top of the other two fees, so you're probably ~$120 for custom letters on a logo plate.

Cooking, Personally Speaking

The Cornish Game Hen – A Thanksgiving Feast

A Cornish game hen isn’t actually game. It’s a young farm-raised chicken with a misleading name. My sister didn’t like them, she found it annoying how small they are, but we made a number of them last year and there was more than enough for everyone. And the left overs are also great since it can be used for a lot of different dishes and freezing leftovers is super easy! I find them easier than turkey. They taste so much better and well, as I said. They are so much easier. For turkey I spent forever making sure they were alright. I am sure that you know the game. For exaple when I was just doing the turkey breast I had to make sure to keep it moist. Brine and baste, then baste and then repeat 100 times. But for the best results I tend to make a lot of extras. Because even if its only a small Thanksgiving dinner, the best part is the leftovers next day. I also like to add if you can get the turkey skin to wrap the roulade in it adds so much more flavour and keeps the white meat from drying out. Getting some turkey necks or wings on the side to make gravy makes it even better.
Personally Speaking


I love that we have a sense of humor here in Ohio when it comes to politics. That is something that you just don’t get too often and I find it refreshing. One example was when Ohio Gov. John Kasich stopped the rumors that he might run for president in 2020. The rumor was circulating that he was planning on running as an independent on a unity ticket with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. His response on a ticket with Hickenlooper was simple, “No one could pronounce it and you can’t fit it on a bumper sticker.” I might add it was hilarious. I have seriously considered voting for him but Kasich will never win a republican primary. He’s incredibly conservative, strongly prolife, has legislative and executive experience, was a key figure in balancing both the federal and Ohio’s budget, and also has a lot of name recognition after the 2016 election. And I might add that he manages to avoid foaming at the mouth relatively well while speaking in public so the base wouldn’t be interested. He has talked about fixing Obamacare instead of replacing it. Ron Paul 8 years ago got cheered in their primary debates for implying if a person with cancer couldn’t afford treatment, and their community wouldn’t raise money for it, they should die. He’d be a solid contender for the republican ticket.
Personally Speaking

It’s The Small Things

I think that it is the small things, the little extra touches that make something special. I will give you an example of what I mean. I have had acquaintances who thought that “perfect” was when they picked something up at the store and presented it as is. For a more specific example I guess I have to go back a couple of years. But it is something that really drives home what I am talking about today. A friend of ours (hubby and me) were going to celebrate our friends mother’s 60th birthday. They were nice enough and we had met their mother a number of times so it was a nice chance to get together and visit. Most of the decorations were well done, time had been taken to use them to make the room come to life and in general they had made an effort to make it festive. We had come a little bit before the celebration was to begin because I had been asked to help get the rest setup. So while hubster and his friends were talking outside we were busy getting the last odds and ends together. And that is when the cake arrived. The hostess’ sister was responsible for the cake which she had picked on up at the store. I am not against this, don’t think that I am a snob in that regard, because I am not. But even if you have not got time to bake your own cake you still need to put some effort into making it look appealing. And you can do this with everything. No matter what, presentation is everything. And that cake was a good chance to prove it. When it came time to server it, the sister slid it on a serving tray and want to dish it up. I quickly jumped up and put some quick garnish together and we served a cake that looked worlds better than it had a moment before. Their mother even raved about how nice the cake had been. As I said, the small things.