Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Macaroni and Cheese

I had this idea to use up some leftover ham.  I was so proud of myself  - a new recipe!   I googled after I made it – many a blogger had beat me to it – mine is a little different and “Three Servings Andrew” gave it two thumbs up and a fist bump.

Original recipes - I don't think they exist anymore --  maybe on Chopped because no one has made anything with some of those weird combinations of ingredients.  Twenty something years ago when Bryan was a little boy - I put an Oreo into a cookie, into brownies, I topped brownies with chocolate chip cookie dough or peanut butter cookie dough -all these folks ranting and screaming about their "content" - nothing is new - we've all made it before.  I do think we should link back to recipes we find on blogs (original or not) - and NEVER edit, copy or post a recipe into a Facebook post - but we all need to get over ourselves.  Changing an ingredient - does not a new recipe make. 

That being said  -- I do have respect for some of these beautiful blogs.  The pictures are gorgeous and everything  is just perfect.  Newsflash - nothing is perfect in this house.  We eat the food that I make.  I seldom have time for a half-assed picture let alone - staging a photo - a light box....that's a lamp in our house. I do not have time to post once a day - and I don't have time to read blogs that post more than once a week - I'm lucky if I get to some of my friends once a week.  I guess there is a market out there for people looking to kill time - my time is dead already.  Dead and buried.  I love my blogger friends and I do try to get to their posts - it's all about support - but this blog is entitled Mad Rantings -and occasionally that is what I do.

So here it is - my not so original Chicken Cordon Bleu Macaroni and Cheese...or Three Servings Pasta.


1 pound box of farfalle pasta – cook and rinse – I only cooked my pasta in salted water for 7 minutes (the box said 11 – the pasta cooks in the sauce and in the oven – so trust me – 7 minutes and rinse thoroughly). Reserve one cup of the cooking liquid. 

½ pound of diced ham (or more to your liking)

homemade chicken cutlets or nuggets  – two cutlets – or about 12 good size HOMEMADE nuggets, diced about the same size as the ham  (if you want to pick up two cutlets from the deli – go ahead or two orders of chick-fil-a nuggets – I won’t tell anyone – but please please please don’t put “Mc” anything into this pasta.

4 tablespoons of butter

4 tablespoons of flour

Salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of Dijon, a sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg

Two gloves of diced garlic

½ pound of grated Italian fontina

1 quart of whole milk

Topping:  ½ cup of panko, olive oil and parsley for the topping

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook farfalle or pasta of your choice as directed above (RESERVE one cup of cooking liquid).

Melt butter and sauté garlic until fragrant, add flour – cook a few minutes – add milk, dijon, nutmeg, salt, ground pepper – to your tastes.  I used about a tsp of salt, ground pepper and about a ¼ of a tsp of nutmeg).  Note: Diced onion would be wonderful in this as well -- since I don't want to watch my husband dissect a dish which would bring about my inner need to strangle...I don't put diced onion into anything -- I do put onion into the food processor and hide it that way but I didn't yesterday.

I let this cook about five to ten minutes – add the cheese.   Let the cheese melt into sauce.

Add the pasta, chicken and ham into sauce and then add ½ to ¾ cups of reserved pasta cooking liquid – it loosens up the sauce without making it too rich and globby.  Globby is a word.  My word. 

Top with a little shredded fontina and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven – up oven temp to broil.

In a small bowl – add panko, olive oil and parsley and then sprinkle on top of pasta – and  place under broiler for a minute or two – KEEP AN EYE ON IT.  If the smoke alarm goes off -- it's over done.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Clan Wars

I wake up in the morning terrified. My heart races and I feel nauseated.

Will he be in a good mood?  How long will it take me to get him to urinate and wash his hands?  The fastest it has been is five minutes, the most it has taken is forty five minutes.  Will I stay calm?  Will I get some breakfast into him before he has to take his medicine?  Will the eggs be hot enough?  Will the waffle be crispy enough?  Will something set him off? Will we make it on time to school today - four days a week we don't.  Will I be a good and patient mom.  Trust me, some mornings I'm not.

The last few nights he hasn't been sleeping well and neither have I.  I'm going through a flare up right now  - and I'm in incredible pain.  I don't complain about it....I just try to deal with it.  Pain has been my life for thirty years now - that isn't a "pity me" statement - it is a fact.  I have a high tolerance for it - but this week it has been bad.

Earlier this week a crown broke - not one of the ones I wear during dress up - but one of those that live in my mouth.  Waiting for a dentist to call back is annoying.  Teeth have always been a worry for me.  I want to keep my teeth in my mouth.  My mother kept her's in a glass in the cupboard.  My father did too.  I want empty glasses in my cupboard.

Last night was a particularly bad night - he is so anxious about this game he is playing.  We cut games completely and now they have eased back into his life.  When there are no friends around -- and I've exhausted all avenues - I have to let the child have something.   It's Clash of Clans or something like that.  He wants to join a "cool clan"  - don't we all?  He wants to partake in clan wars.  He wants people to join his clan.  We put him to bed at 8:15 and I went up at 9:30 and he was still awake.  He was whimpering.  "Help me with my problem, mommy."

I asked him what his problem was.  He wants to join a cool clan and they are all full.  We talked for thirty minutes.  He was still up at 10:15.

Before 5 a.m. he came into our bed and I hurry and got him back to his bed and stayed with him.  At 7 a.m. I got up and Andrew went back to our bed.  Jim was showering.  From 7:30 until 8:05 -- I tried to wake him up.  He wouldn't budge.  The anxiety he lives with over the most inane things wipes him out.  I got him out of bed at 8:10 - and it took feats of strength to do that.

I made eggs and sourdough toast - and played Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah and that calmed him.  While I went to get his clothes and get dressed to take him to school - he had made his way upstairs to check out his game.

He was hysterical -- "They started the clan wars - they started the clan wars - in the middle of the night -they started them."  I told him that this was enough of that game - that it wasn't for him.  He screamed "I fucking hate you" and tried to hit me.  I started to cry.  I'm tired.  I'm weak.  I live clan wars every day.

It took another fifteen minutes after I pulled myself together - to pull him together.  I got him from red to yellow.  I got him dressed - we left.  We signed into school - late again.

He has been doing great things at school.  He is in the 99th percentile in the nation for math.  He is in fourth grade and at an eight grade level.  He is above superior in his IQ -- the psychologist told us yesterday that it would have been a higher rating if his autism didn't get in his way - his flapping, pacing and attention- if it is something he is not interested in - or if he just wants to get it over with - he guesses - or skips the question.  They are doing great things for him - speech groups and counseling groups.  

Every morning - I wonder how I can make it through another the time I pick him up at lunch his meds are in and he's in a good place.  When we go to sleep -- I worry about the morning.  I know I will get through the war - if the daily battles don't kill me.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hodge Podge

I've been in a funk.  I miss New York. I miss Krista, Joanne, my sister in laws -- I miss going over to Joanne's and having a bagel and talking.  I miss our neighbors Paula and RoseAnn.  I miss Tom and Mary, our church friends.  Even as busy as they were with all their grandchildren they were filling Andrew's need for grandparent figures.

Colorado is beautiful and I love our home - but I don't have, and I won't have, those kind of relationships here.  It takes a great deal for me to bond with someone - I'm much like Andrew.

Jim loves it here.  He doesn't miss New York at all.  He is worried about me.  He said he would move back but I will not move again - it's too expensive and exhausting.  He is happy and Andrew is happy and that is what really matters.  I am use to being a miserable fuck. :-)

I've been cooking up a storm.  I am posting here a few of my cooking groups dinners and a few things I have made lately.

 A variation of Amy Thielen's Brown Butter Rosemary Chicken.  It was fantastic.

My macaroni and cheese with barbecue kielbasa.  This was delicious!

A variation of Amy Thielen's Chicken Pot Pie with Bev's Crust.  Buy her cookbook for this crust recipe alone.  The best crust EVER.  I know everyone says they "best ever" - I mean it!  Anybody want a peanut?  (For those Princess Bride fans out there.)

From Wintersweet Maple Brown Butter Apple Cake.  A few people in our group made comments about it being bland which surprised me but this cake was really delicious.  Very few things WOW me - I'm a hard nut to crack.  But Andrew and I thought this cake was yummy -- we ate it warm with some powdered sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.  People tend to overcook and over bake things.  I think that might have been the case. I did add a little ginger to the recipe.

A variation of Amy Thielen's fried chicken.  I made chicken and waffles one night and Andrew asked "this is so good - is this what the movie stars eat in Los Angeles?"

I had an idea for tomato basil soup with tortellini and I made it.  Several people asked for a recipe - and I googled something similar --- and found something that sounded close.  Sorry that is how I roll.  I don't have time to write down every recipe I have in my head. I served it with mozzarella en carrozza.

Bagged Caesar salad with chicken cutlets.  This was a nice fast meal one night.  I added sesame seeds and all kinds of spices to the panko crumbs.

Amy Thielen's Peppered Pork Loin (I used tenderloin) -- this truly was fantastic.  I made garlic cheese bread and parmesan, shredded potato cups to serve along with it.

Earlier this month we took a trip up to Estes Park - we saw the Stanley Hotel and then we spent a few hours in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was gorgeous.   

Well if you have gotten this far - thank you for reading my hodge podge of thoughts.  That is how I feel lately -- lost and rambling.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


So Anonymous says (sic):
"Don't you think you are asking alot from a school? I fele very sorry for you and know your son needs extra care and attention but it sounds like the school is doing the best it can. Teachers are overwhelmed just dealing with kids without special needs. We ask too much of our teachers and admins. I do hope things improve for you and Andrew."

So I reply:  
Jenny said...
In most school districts classes - especially in a class with three or four children with special needs they have an aid. In NY Andrew always stood next to the aid during transition times. I'm not asking for one on one attention  I'm asking for common sense. If he breaks down during line up stand next to the teacher or aid. And I've volunteered to be an aid to help out. They take volunteers at the school. Andrew's teacher is amazing. The admin is amazing. But we've had to go through seven months of hell before we can start the classification process again to get him extra help. It's the school district that lacks common sense. Are people so overwhelmed they can't have someone stand next to them? Don't leave a comment without leaving your name. I know who you are anyway.

I've thought about this all morning.  YES, I do expect a lot from the school.  YES, I do expect each child - every, single child to be safe and be afforded the same education.  YES, I do expect that when a child has autism, ADHD, OCD, bipolar disease, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy - any issues whatsoever, that in the GREATEST FUCKING COUNTRY IN THE WORLD - that that child is given what he needs.  
If it requires that an adult be close to him during transitions so that he doesn't hurt another child with a push or a harsh word - YES.  How the holy fuck do you think it makes me feel when he hits or hurts another child?  It makes me feel like death - yes - death.  I feel like a part of me dies every fucking time he does something wrong.
What if your child was pushed or hurt because my child misinterpreted something - would you expect your child to be protected?  Should my child be home schooled - which EVERY SINGLE ONE of Andrew's health care providers screams NO.  Do you want my child to turn into Adam Lanza?  Do you want my child to be isolated and abandoned by a society that helps every fucking country in the world?  I am mad - yes - I'm mad because Anonymous doesn't have the common courtesy to leave her name.  She can disagree with me - but do so with a face.  Not in a cowardly faceless way.  
I have great respect for teachers and school staff.  But in this day and age everyone no matter what the job complains that they are overworked and underpaid.  I would give my left arm to work again.  Before Andrew I was a paralegal but I would work in a grocery store - putting sprinkles on a donut for eight hours a day.  I worked from the time I was 9 years old - helping neighbors with housework for money, when I was 11 I was cleaning the nun's home - for money - which was given to my father for bills.  I worked three jobs for many years to make ends meet and to support my family.

I haven't worked since Andrew was born - how can I hold a job when I'm being called repeatedly throughout the day or week to pick up my child.  I can't - no employer wants that.  I wanted to work in the evenings but Jim's call schedule didn't allow it and basically Jim won't allow it.  He's right - I'm mentally and physically exhausted now and I do have a job.  MY JOB is to make sure my child is safe and cared for.   My job is to teach my child not to act out in anger.  My job is to control my lupus and other medical conditions so I can make sure Andrew is cared for. 

SO YES, Anonymous, I do expect a lot for my child and every other child.  

Monday, February 10, 2014


As most of the blogging world knows Elle of Elle's Kitchen passed away a few weeks ago and many bloggers picked recipes from her blog to recreate in her memory.

I had intended to do so as well.  Life got in the way.

I ended up doing what Elle always did - put family first -- doesn't mean I love her or miss her any less than anyone else - I had to do what I needed to do. I still cooked for my family last week - but I didn't have it in my heart to do a specific recipe and write a post.  

Andrew had a few great weeks.   I try to keep quiet when he does well because inevitably something comes to knock me off my happy, high horse.  It's like telling people you are pregnant as soon as the stick turns positive.  

Last week - Andrew was in school for about a day and a half.  Delayed starts due to wind chills of -25,  he felt sick on Tuesday at lunch and came home at noon.  He looked pale and I kept him home the next day.  Thursday comes and another late start but he feels fine and goes in.  I get a call at 1:00.  "Mrs. ______ I really really hate to call you and tell you this...."   He went after some kids and made contact.  Again, I asked  after making sure the kids were okay and stating that I know the responsibility for this is 100 percent on Andrew "where was the adult, aid, teacher?"  They know he has issues and until this magical IEP gets put into place -- an adult needs to be on him during transition periods.  "Oh, that's a good idea."

He was suspended on Friday.  He got exactly what he wanted - he wanted to avoid school and they gave him what he wanted.  Whatever happened to detention?  

Seems in Colorado - there are so MANY days off, so many weeks off - far more than in New York.  Seems to me that Andrew can't even get into a rhythm.  This coming week -- he is off Friday and Monday for President's weekend.  He needs routine.  He isn't getting it here.  Then the icing on the cake is when he does something -- he gets sent home.  He wants to come home - of course, he is going to do what he needs to do to get sent home.  

Now he is back in school and every day I have to pick him up from 11:55 to 12:40 because the school won't take the responsibility of making sure Andrew is near an adult during recess/lunch transitions.   All the outbursts, going after kids...all the problems occur during that time I need to give my child what he needs because the school system can't.

I feel defeated and empty.  I feel like we take two steps forward and then get bitch slapped all the way back to behind the start line.

Please understand none of the inconvenience bothers me.  It is the fear that one day he is going to hurt someone.  That paralyzes me.

Elle would be the one to private message me after reading this to tell me - she wished we were closer, hang in there, sending me love.  She always knew when I needed a bandaid. Elle, I miss you.  I know you understand.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bananas Foster Pancake

Breakfast -- the most important meal of the day.  Right?  Tell that to Andrew.  
He has been having a hard time eating due to his medications.  He is wasting away.  Before I give him his a.m. medications (while he is screaming, pacing and out of control) I try to get a hot breakfast into him.  It's like being front row center at a Gallagher concert - remember him?  (at 4:49 you'll see what I'm talking about).  

Yesterday, I decided to do a Bananas Foster Pancake.   Something different to intrigue him.  I was prepared for "this is not delicious" what I got was "this is the best pancake ever".  

It was a hit.

If you want to hear this is the best pancake ever - do the following.  Note:  if you don't like bananas....don't make this.  (Sadly, I feel like I  have to put a disclaimer on everything these days.  My batter was too runny.  Add more flour.  My batter was too thick.  Add more milk...but really just go to IHOP and save yourself the trouble and me the headache.)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • milk, just enough to make pourable batter - about the consistency of pudding
  • 1/2 tsp of rum extract (optional) or 1/2 tsp of vanilla

  • Topping:  
  • Brown sugar for dusting
  • Banana slices (not overly ripe) 


Combine dry ingredients. Stir in the beaten egg, melted butter, and enough milk for batter to pour easily -- about the consistency of pudding mix (before it sets up....oy)  Mix lightly to blend.   Pour pancakes onto hot, buttered (or greased) griddle or pan.    
While the pancake is cooking on the plain side arrange banana slices (about five on each pancake--depending on how big the pancakes are).  Then top with a sprinkle of brown sugar.  When the bubbles are coming through - flip the pancake carefully and allow to cook and caramelize on the other side.  
This recipe for pancakes makes 2 to 3 servings, and can be easily doubled for a family.  For Andrew I drizzle with a little maple syrup but when I have adults over for breakfast - I will warm some maple syrup with a little rum for these incredible pancakes.  
Note:  I think the integrity of the pancake would suffer if you  placed some bananas in the pan with brown sugar poured the batter - and then proceeded to banana and brown sugar the top...Andrew would think it was too mushy and so would I...but go for it.  (I just used banana as a verb...go me!)

Last week, was a tough week with Elle's passing so I'm not going to do a full post on the Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hot Dish from Amy Thielen's wonderful book, The New Midwestern Table.  This Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hot Dish was great.  We all loved it.  The recipe can be found here.  If you want to join us as we cook along - come join us here

Thursday, January 30, 2014


My heart is heavy.  I woke up yesterday and had two messages from friends about another friend, Elle.  "Did you hear about Elle?"  My first thought was 'oh Lord she let someone have it over a New England Patriots comment - she's banned from Facebook'.  Then panic crept in and I knew it had to be bad - someone in her family - something bad.  I hurried to her page and saw post after post and I started to cry.  

On Tuesday, Elle collapsed and passed away.  Forty five years old, a mom, a wife, a doesn't seem possible.  She was just posting about the Grammy's being boring...she can't be gone. 

Elle's blog was one of the first blogs I started to read.  Years ago we became friends.  She made me laugh.  When Andrew was having a hard time and I was falling apart - she would send a kind message or a virtual hug.  Four kids of her own and always had time for others.

Her back and forth with Dawn and Lisa always made me smile.  Her willingness to help anyone at any time was inspiring.  She also had a quick wit and a sharp tongue. 

It's a heartbreaking wake up call.  Yesterday morning, I was more patient with Andrew.  Last night, I sat with him as he sobbed and sobbed because he wasn't learning a foreign language fast enough. He had decided yesterday that he wanted to learn French.  He started with French for an hour and just fell apart.  We then tried Spanish - and for two hours I sat there patiently while he cried and practiced bueno noches and other Spanish phrases.  He cried because he thought he could be fluent in an evening.  Those were his words.  "I want to be fluent."  My nine year old little genius. Because of Elle - I was more patient, I didn't take the iPad away - instead I sat there and enjoyed every moment with him.  

Jim and I were talking yesterday even before the horrible news hit my heart that life is too short.  We decided that we would travel more - and not let the reality of how difficult it is to travel with Andrew deter us.  Life should be lived.  We would be kinder and more patient.  As humans, it is hard to keep up with our commitments and our promises especially to ourselves.  But I promise to do better.

We have started a Facebook page - Friends of Elle to honor our sweet friend. There will be a tribute weekend February 8th and 9th and there has been a fund set up for her family.  Please think about contributing here.   

Elle, I will miss you so.  My prayers and thoughts are with her beautiful family. Please send up a prayer or two for her husband and children.