Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pot Roast


    1 (3 to 4-pound) boneless chuck roast
    1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 cup thinly sliced onion wedges
    3 cloves garlic, crushed
    2 bay leaves
    1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
    1/4 cup red wine
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
    3/4 cup water


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Add the House Seasoning, salt and pepper to a small bowl. Rub seasoning into the roast on both sides. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the roast, searing it on both sides. Place the meat in a roaster pan. Add onions and garlic to skillet for 1 to 2 minutes to absorb leftover roast juice. Place into roaster pan with meat and bay leaves.

    Combine the mushroom soup, wine, Worcestershire sauce and beef bouillon into a bowl. Pour over the roast. Add water.

    Cover pan with foil and bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until tender.

    Remove and discard the bay leaves.

    *Cook's Note: If the gravy is not thick enough, remove the meat from the pan and pour the gravy into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and thicken it by adding 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water, stirring constantly.

    House Seasoning:

    • 1 cup salt
    • 1/4 cup black pepper
    • 1/4 cup garlic powder
    Mix ingredients and store in an air tight container for up to 6 months. 

    Source: Paula Deen

    Saturday, September 29, 2012

    Icy Coffee Punch


    3 cups coffee
    1/2 cup chocolate syrup
    4 cups milk
    Vanilla Ice Cream


    Combine ingredients in a pitcher and stir together.

    Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream to each mug. Pour mixture over each ice cream in each mug. Serve immediately.

    Will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, covered.

    Source: Paula Deen

    Nutella-stuffed Chocolate Chip Lava Cookies


    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon slices
    2-1/2 cups bread flour
    1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    2 tablespoons milk
    1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 cups milk chocolate chunks


    Step 1:

    In a small pot melt the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once melted, the butter will foam up, and then subside. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until light brown specks form at the bottom of the pot and the butter has a nutty aroma. Careful not to let it burn. Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl. Set aside to cool.

    In a small bowl, sift together the bread flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

    In a small bowl whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract, and set aside.

    Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, on medium speed cream together the cooled browned butter and sugars for 2 minutes.

    On low speed, add in the egg mixture, mixing until well combined, about 30 seconds.

    Slowly stir in the flour mixture, mixing until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed.

    Stir in the chocolate chunks. Form into dough balls, dropping a spoonful of Nutella in the middle and wrapping the dough around to cover the filling completely. Alternatively you can drop a spoonful of dough in a ramekin, drop a dollop of Nutella over it then cover with another spoonful of dough, filling the ramekin 2/3 full.

    Chill the dough balls (or ramekins) in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.

    Step 2:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Line two cookie sheets parchment paper.

    Place dough balls about 2 inches apart on each pan.

    Flatten balls slightly. If using ramekins, place on unlined baking sheet.

    Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans half way through for evening browning.

    Cool slightly before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm.

    Source: Christian Science Monitor

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twenty-four.

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twenty-three.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twenty-two.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twenty-one.

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twenty.

    Balsamic Chicken Drumettes

    1. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    2. 1/2 cup honey
    3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
    4. 1/4 cup soy sauce
    5. 5 sprigs of rosemary
    6. 5 garlic cloves, halved
    7. 10 to 12 chicken drumsticks
    8. 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
    9. 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1. Combine the balsamic, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, rosemary sprigs, and garlic cloves, in a large, re-sealable plastic bag. Shake and squeeze the contents of the bag to dissolve the honey and the brown sugar. Add the chicken drumsticks to the bag and seal with as little air as possible in the bag. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours.
    2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
    3. Place the chicken drumsticks on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the skin is caramelized and very dark in spots, about 30 to 35 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil (in order to kill bacteria). Reduce the heat to simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Reserve.
    5. Use a pastry brush to brush some of the cooked marinade on the cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.

    Source: Giada De Laurentiis

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Homestyle Meatloaf

    1. 2 pounds ground chuck
    2. 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste, divided
    3. 1 cup crushed saltine crackers
    4. ½ cup finely chopped onion
    5. ½ cup finely chopped celery
    6. ¼ cup Dijon mustard, divided
    7. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    8. 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    9. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    10. 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
    11. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    12. 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
    13. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    14. Garnish: fresh parsley
    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, crackers, onion, celery, 2 tablespoons mustard, eggs, Worcestershire, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Shape mixture into a 12-inch loaf on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
    3. In a small bowl, combine remaining tomato paste, remaining 2 tablespoon mustard, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Spread mixture over meatloaf, and bake for 30 minutes more or until a meat thermometer registers 165°. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
    Source: Paula Deen

    5 Ways to Spend Better Time with Your Kids

    As a parent, we always wish we had 48 hours in the day instead of 24! More quality time with our kids would be a treat for any family! I know for me, between work, housekeeping, homework, dance, swim, karate and soccer, I hardly have time to think…and I only have one 3 year old! I honestly don’t know how some parents with 2 or more kids do it, especially working full time! This thought is what has sparked some creativity in me! I’ve had to come up with creative ways to get things done while also incorporating my kids into the activities to allow for quality family time! I wanted to “spend better time” with my kids! Below are some issues many of my mom & dad friends complain they “don’t have time for”. Try them out and see how your day CAN include your entire to do list and your kiddos too!

    1. I can’t exercise, I don’t have time! Your kids LOVE to be outside (usually) so, take them out on their bikes, roller blades or skateboards and keep up with them with a slow jog. Your kids are too young to ride a bike, put them in a jogging stroller and get to pushin’! Not only will you get a good workout jogging but the pushing will tone your arms! Too hot or too cold to go outside, pop in a workout video or go online to some of the many sites that offer free, short daily workouts! Do them while your little ones are napping or early in the morning when your family is still catchin’ zzzs!

    2. I don’t have time to cook. It’s true, when you get home at 6pm, there’s hardly time to shower, not to mention busting out the cookbook and apron and sweating it out in the kitchen. After all, dinner is supposed to be at 6-7pm not 6-7am! So, why not take an hour or two out of your weekend and make dinners for the week! Freeze them up in different containers, label them Monday – Friday and pop them in the freezer. When you get home from work, soccer practice, parent conference or just come home early in tired, pop it in and your home cooked meal is ready in 2-5 minutes!

    3. I don’t have time for myself. Many parents, mostly moms but some dads too, complain they never have time for themselves. They don’t have time to get nails done, get their hair cut or just treat themselves with a well deserved massage. Well, many spas and salons offer packages for mommy & me and daddy & me! Take your kids and turn it into a bonding activity! It will make your little ones feel extra special, especially if there are siblings involved and they can each have their own day.

    4. I need alone time with my spouse but don’t have anyone to watch my kids. Well, that’s a problem many of us have. Recently some friends and I have gotten together and developed a calendar. Two to four times a month we have one of the parents watch all of the kids for 3-4 hours. The rest of the parents go out for a parents’ night out! We take turns so we all get our night out and our kids get the fun with friends they love! Local indoor gyms and studios like My Gym also offer Parents Nights Out. You pay a fee, usually between $25-35 per child (with siblings at a discount rate) and they’ll watch your kids for 3-4 hours, feed them dinner and show them a good time!

    5. I don’t even have time to clean the house. Ok, so, few kids like to clean but, it’s all part of growing up. We all have to learn to take care of our possessions and take pride in our home. Starting early and teaching kids to help out is not a crime nor will it hurt your child’s upbringing. If you have toddlers, teach them where their toys go and to put them away (with help from you in the beginning). If you constantly clean up after them, that’s all they’ll know and you’ll end up doing the cleaning for many years to come. Elementary age kids can be given an incentive to help out. They can earn an allowance like a salary that we earn at work. Their room should be clean without compensation since it’s their own space (like our house is ours and we have to maintain it). If they help out maintaining the rest of the home by dusting, vacuuming or cleaning some windows, reward them in some way. Activities are usually a good option to money, like a day at the park or a trip to your local museum! You can also check out It’s an excellent online chore chart that teaches your kids to earn, save & spend and best of all it’s FREE!

    So, you didn’t think it was doable but it is! You just have to make do with what you have and get creative to spend better time!

    Source: Playground Dad

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number nineteen. 

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number eighteen.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    This may be hard to swallow: If they left you, you didn't need them. If they walked away, they weren't part of your destiny.

    - Joel Osteen

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number seventeen.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number sixteen.

    Mexican Chicken Casserole


    1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of chicken soup
    1 10 3/4 -ounce can cheddar cheese soup
    1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of mushroom soup
    1 10-ounce can tomatoes
    1 whole chicken, cooked, boned, and chopped or 4 cups leftover cooked chicken
    11 1/2-ounce package flour tortillas
    2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large bowl, stir together the three kinds of soup and the tomatoes. Stir in the chicken.

    In a greased 13x9 inch pan, layer the tortillas and the chicken mixture, beginning and ending with tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.

    Source: Paula Deen

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number fifteen.

    Tablets for tots, retro brands make up Toys R Us 'hot toy' list in 2012

    It's still technically summer, but for some it's not too soon to think about what the kiddies will want for the holidays.

    Toys R Us has come out with its annual "hot toy" list that includes tablets for kids, fashion dolls in the likeness of boy-band sensation One Direction, and even retro hits like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Furby.

    Knowing early what will be popular during the holiday shopping season is crucial to retailers seeking to have the right mix of toys at the right prices. The holiday season can account for about 40 percent of a toy seller's annual profit.

    Last year, U.S. retail sales of toys fell 2 percent to $21.18 billion, according to research firm NPD Group.

    This year, Toys R Us, is introducing a "hot toy" reservation program. Starting Wednesday, the Wayne, N.J.-based retailer will let customers reserve the 50 toys on its list. The reservation system will run through the end of October. Toys must be reserved in stores and customers have to put down 20 percent of the toys' cost.

    The Toys R Us hot toy list has a mix of items that it carries exclusively, as well as toys available everywhere. Toys on the list come from both established companies as well as from some lesser-known toy makers in the U.K. and Australia.

    There's no indication yet of a runaway success like 2009's Zhu Zhu Pets stuffed hamsters and last year's Leapfrog LeapPad tablet. But Toys R Us executives are betting that if there is, it is on their list.

    "We have an incredibly skilled team of merchants here that track new products and identify toys," said Lisa Harnisch, the company's general merchandising manager.

    Here are the top 15 toys on Toys R Us' list. The complete list of 50 can be found at

    Doc McStuffins Time for Your Check Up doll by Just Play, $39.99: Doctor doll based on Disney Jr. show character.

    Furby by Hasbro, $59.99: Update on hit 1998 furry interactive toy robot.

    Gelarti Designer Studio by Moose Toys, $24.99: Sticker set that lets kids paint and customize reusable stickers.

    Hot Wheels R/C Terrain Twister by Mattel, $99.99: Radio-controlled car that takes on all terrains.

    Jake and the Never Land Pirates Jake's Musical Pirate Ship Bucky by Mattel's Fisher-Price, $44.99: Ship from Disney Jr. animated series.

    Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Stars Harmony B. Sharp by MGA Entertainment, $69.99: Version of popular button-eyed dolls that talks and sings.

    LeapPad2 Explorer by LeapFrog, $99.99: Latest iteration of LeapFrog's kids tablet with faster processor and more memory.

    Micro Chargers TimeTrack by Moose Toys, $34.99: Miniature car racing track set.

    Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset by Playmates, $119.99: 42-inch playset that recreates TMNT's lair.

    Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle by Lego Systems Inc., $139.99: Ninja-themed Lego board game.

    One Direction collector dolls by Hasbro, $19.99: Dolls of each of the five members of One Direction.

    Skylanders Giants Starter Pack by Activision Publishing Inc., not yet priced: A sequel to Skylanders Spyro's adventure that combines real-life action figures with a video game.

    Tabeo by Toys R Us, $149.99: Toys R Us' own tablet offering with enhanced safety features and 50 preloaded apps.

    Wii U by Nintendo, not yet priced: Nintendo's new two-screen gaming console.

    Y Volution Fliker F1 Flow Series Scooter by Atomic Sports, $99.99: A three-wheeled scooter that is self-propelled by the rider's movement.

    Source: Associated Press

    Frozen Meringue Cake



    4 large egg whites, at room temperature
    3/4 cup superfine baker's sugar
    1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
    Pinch fine sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    2 cups heavy whipping cream
    2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)


    1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)
    1 cup balsamic vinegar
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    1/2 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish, optional

    Special equipment: One piping bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip


    For the meringue: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, trace two 8-inch-diameter circles, side-by-side, on the parchment paper.

    Beat the egg whites until fluffy in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Gradually add the superfine sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, with the machine running on medium-low speed, until the mixture holds soft peaks. Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Place the meringue in the piping bag. Pipe the meringue into two 8-inch circles on the prepared baking sheet using the traced circles as a guide. Bake until crisp, 2 hours. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely while still in the oven, about 2 hours.

    For the cream: Beat the cream on high speed until thick using an electric hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on high speed until the cream holds stiff peaks. Add the raspberries and beat until incorporated into the cream.

    Spread one-third of the cream over each meringue circle. Place 1 circle on top of the other to create 2 layers. Spread the remaining cream on the sides of the cake. Garnish with fresh raspberries if using, and freeze the cake until firm, 3 hours.

    For the syrup: Mix the raspberries, vinegar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Lightly mash the raspberries using a fork. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thick, 25 to 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and allow to cool.

    To serve: Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cut the cake into wedges and place on serving plates. Drizzle with the syrup and serve.

    Source: Giada De Laurentiis

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Mitt Romney: "My job is not..."

    Romney's Responsibility Map

    Logo change!

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number fourteen.

    Sonoma Chicken Salad



    1 cup mayonnaise
    4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    5 teaspoons honey
    2 teaspoons poppy seeds
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


    2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
    2 cups red seedless grapes
    3 stalks celery, thinly sliced


    In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

    When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.

    Source: Whole Foods Market

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    The Choice

    30 Days. 30 Ways

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number thirteen.

    Will My Kid Survive Kindergarten?

    This past month my daughter and four million other five year olds in the United States started kindergarten. Standing next to them on that appointed day were eight million of us parents and caregivers, each a basket case of emotion. How could someone who was entirely dependant on us for survival only a few years ago (and for some forgettable moments this past week) survive the perils of kindergarten? When did she become so grown up? Will she be able to speak up for herself? Will she be lonely? Can she handle the rough and tumble playground politics or just sit still during class?

    And then I pause. She can brush her own teeth. She can reach the light switch. She puts her own clothes on before waking us parental figures up, at times with “interesting” results. She is the one who lectures me to keep two hands on the steering wheel and will defend her little sister when I speak with a little too much tone in my voice. She will bargain, with surprising deftness, for her own interests. And she can tell us with agonizing precision what, when, and how she wants something with the seemingly irrefutable logic of a 5 year old mind. Now I’m thinking she will be just fine and it is the teacher and her classmates who we should worry about.

    I am so excited about her first step into the academic world. Yes, it is just kindergarten, but I see it as a powerful partner in nurturing a great love of learning. These days she is brimming with wonder. Each statement I make is followed by two questions. “What are they talking about on the radio?,” she will ask on our morning drive to daycare. “Oh, just the Syrian conflict and crushing impact of the recession on real families,” I explain. I am hoping school will help with that too.

    So with all that in my head I asked her one day if there was anything about kindergarten that scared her. Unfamiliar faces? How to find the bathroom? High expectations? She gave me a rather nonchalant look and said , “Hmmm, I am not scared of anything”. Now that’s my girl.

    Source: Playground Dad

    50 Days

    Candy Corn Oreo Craze: Does it live up to its hype?

    The internet is abuzz today with a photo of Candy Corn Oreos making the rounds. The Oreo camp has confirmed to HuffPost Food that they are indeed real and they will be available exclusively at Target for a suggested retail price of $3.59.

    The cookie is a limited edition (Halloween season, clearly) and several blogs are racing to try them (stay tuned, we've got people ON IT as well. Our friends at Foodbeast snagged some). From the looks of the product shot, the cream center is half orange and half yellow. There's a strange amount of excitement going on about these, but we wonder if it is sheer amazement or sheer horror. If they are anything as good as Birthday Cake Oreos, we're in.

    Foodbeast managed to get their hands on a package at a local Target and found that the Oreos tasted pretty much like frosting:

    If no one had told you they were candy corn flavor, chances are you would have never guessed it was themed after the popular Halloween candy. There’s a slight hint of candy corn flavoring, but it’s almost indistinguishable from birthday cake frosting flavors.

    Source: Huffington Post

    Mitt Romney: Extreme Makeover Campaign Edition

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number twelve.

    150 Years Later: Picturing the Bloody Battle of Antietam

    Today marks the 150th anniversary of the single bloodiest conflict ever witnessed on American soil. The Civil War’s Battle of Antietam, fought 60 miles outside of Washington D.C., resulted in the death of 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers in just 12 hours—a statistical horror never replicated again in any conflict fought within the United States.

    The Battle of Antietam marked the first time the Union substantially halted a string of Confederate advances into the North. Looking back, historians conclude the victory allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation—fundamentally altering the context of the nation’s conflict, and thus, our understanding of the battle’s importance.

    Were a battle of this magnitude to erupt today, we would know about it within seconds—breaking news alerts would buzz in our pockets, anchors would interrupt our regularly scheduled programs and social media would drill down on the latest details of the rapidly evolving situation. Often, we intake news imagery before knowing all the details, and in the early hours following the conflict, we might not know the full meaning of what occurred, but we definitely know what it looked like.

    One hundred and fifty years ago, on the other hand, the public viewed painfully explicit photographs with unconditioned eyes—the first time America visually confronted the carnage of its conflict.

    After the Battle of Antietam, photographer Matthew Brady tacked a sign to the door of his New York City photo studio that read, simply, “The Dead of Antietam.” Inside, he exhibited the work that his assistant, Alexander Gardner, made in the aftermath of the inconceivably bloody fighting at Antietam Creek. The show drew a large crowd.

    One particular viewer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, took notice of Gardner’s photographs, and in an 1863 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, penned his reaction. “It is not [for viewers] to bear witness to the fidelity of views which the truthful sunbeam has delineated in all their dread reality,” he writes. “The sight of these pictures is a commentary on civilization such as the savage might well triumph to show its missionaries.”

    Holmes writes of the dreadful accuracy with which Gardner’s photographs depict the gruesome casualties of war. Photography, less than 50 years old in 1862, was still understood by many as an extension of painting. Early critics were often split between a view of photography as objectively accurate or grossly inaccurate and incapable of matching the magnitude of the scenes it recorded (either for want of detail or of a ‘correct’ perspective).

    Holmes, it seems, falls in the latter camp. As an eyewitness to the Battle of Antietam, he bristles at the idea that the public may, after viewing Gardner’s work, presume to understand the true nature of war. He mentions that the emotions came flooding back to him as a witness to the scenes captured by Gardner—emotions that he would like to lock in the recesses of a far-off place. Holmes feels that this pictorial representation, while succeeding in capturing the physical setting of war, does nothing to convey the visceral nature of conflict among men that he witnessed. Yet he still acknowledges how the public is moved practically to tears as they realize the implicit significance of Gardner’s photos. Although they don’t understand what he feels as a witness, they are moved in ways they shouldn’t be afforded as mere casual viewers of recorded conflict.

    The New York Times echoed Holmes’ chilly wonder at how captivating Gardner’s war photographs seemed. The paper noted that the public response to Gardner’s images was as if the photographer had “brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets.”

    “You will see hushed, reverend groups standing around these weird copies of carnage…chained by the strange spell that dwells in dead men’s eyes,” they write.

    Images of today’s conflicts still arrest us just as they did in 1862. We pause, marveling at their vibrancy, viciousness and pictorial excellence. The world of 2012 allows us to “like” them, “share” them, and “re-tweet” them, hoping to pass along to others the feelings they elicit in us.

    Gardner’s pictures articulated a different utility. Depicting the dead fathers and sons of a generation, his plates represent one of the first times America was forced to confront its own tragedy—emotionally—immediately after the fact.

    While today we perceive and employ the Antietam photographs as memory triggers and historical records, the public of 1862 confronted them with no expectations or precedent. Unconditioned (and perhaps not yet protected by) the daily and hourly cataract of imagery that we endure today, Civil War-era viewers recognized Gardner’s images for what they were: immediate reminders of the brutal nature of mankind. And thus, on the 150th anniversary of the bloody conflict at Antietam, it’s worth pause to consider how the modern image of conflict impacts us.


    Source: Time

    Cheesy Manicotti


    1 (8-ounce) package manicotti
    1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
    1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    1 cup shredded provolone cheese
    ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    2 large eggs
    1 tablespoon dried parsley
    1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
    1 (25-ounce) jar tomato and basil pasta sauce


    Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
    Cook manicotti according to package directions; drain and set aside.
    In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, spinach, 1½ cups mozzarella cheese, and next 5 ingredients. Spoon cheese mixture into manicotti. Pour half of pasta sauce into prepared pan. Place stuffed manicotti over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over manicotti. Sprinkle with remaining 1½ cups mozzarella cheese.
    Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

    Source: Paula Deen

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    No family should...

    30 Days. 30 Ways.

    For the 30 days between the start of the Democratic National Convention and the first Presidential debate, we're highlighting 30 ways a Romney-Ryan presidency would hurt the middle class. Here's number eleven.

    Grape Salad


    2 lbs. red and/or green grapes
    1 (8oz.) pkg. of cream cheese
    1 (8oz.) container of sour cream
    ½ cup of sugar
    ½ tsp. vanilla
    Chopped walnuts/pecans {optional}
    Brown sugar {optional}


    Combine cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, & sugar in a large bowl and beat together with mixer. Wash your grapes and remove from the stems.  Fold into the cream cheese mix until well coated.

    Optional: For a little fun with color, mix it up with a pound of green & a pound of red grapes. For a little crunch, add some chopped walnuts or pecans. Or sprinkle on some brown sugar for an added sweetness.

    Source: Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour blog

    Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Ravioli with Arugula, Tomatoes and Pancetta


    1 pound cheese ravioli
    6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
    1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
    3 cups arugula
    1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, divided
    2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature


    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook for 7 to 9 minutes until tender. Drain.

    In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook stirring frequently, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add the arugula and 1/4 cup basil and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the butter and melt. Add the ravioli and cooked pancetta and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the ravioli to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining basil and serve.

    Source: Giada De Laurentiis

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    'Buy Shoes on Wednesday': 10 tips on when best to accomplish everyday tasks

    Is there a best month to buy stocks? Does it matter which day of the week you buy your bread? Writer Mark Di Vincenzo researched the best times of year, week, or day to complete all kinds of household tasks and personal purchases. In 'Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00,' he offers advice on everything from travel to grocery-store shopping. Here are 10 tips from Di Vincenzo's book

    1. When should you buy a cell phone?

    Di Vincenzo says there are two months to choose from when deciding to purchase a cell phone: June or December. Both are now popular months to make such a purchase because June is high school graduation month and December means the holidays. High demand during either of these months, says Di Vincenzo, will lead to cheaper cell phones.

    2. When should you post something on Facebook?

    If you want something you're posting on Facebook to be read by the maximum amount of people, Di Vincenzo recommends three times: 7 a.m., 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Most people leave for work later than 7 a.m., head out of the office shortly after 5 p.m., and go to bed sometime after 10 p.m.

    3. When is the best day to go golfing?

    Wednesday, says Di Vincenzo. There are fewer people playing in the middle of the week, so golf courses often give discounts on those days to try to lure customers. But, Di Vincenzo says, the discounts usually don't bring the price down enough to lure people away from work, so you'll get a discount and it'll still be less crowded.

    4. When should you get your car washed?

    When you're looking to spruce up your vehicle, Di Vincenzo says to head over as soon as possible in the morning. The car wash itself is cleaner and the employees aren't tired from a day of work, so they'll be alert when washing your car.

    5. When should you get your hair cut?

    Di Vincenzo says it's best to get your hair trimmed on Tuesday. It's usually a slow day, so less waiting time, and your stylist won't feel rushed. He suggests avoiding Saturday, which is often the busiest time for a shop.

    6. When should you go to an ATM in a dangerous neighborhood?

    Di Vincenzo says the safest time is between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., when statistically the least amount of crimes occur. Most people who would commit crimes, he says, have been out late and would probably be asleep.

    7. When should you go for a quick doctor's appointment?

    The best month to go to the doctor is May, Di Vincenzo says, because the flu is gone and parents haven't booked appointments for exams for camp yet, or for physicals for school in the autumn.

    8. What's the best day for getting something done at work?

    Tuesday is the most productive day of work during the week, says Di Vincenzo. A survey of workers chose that day overwhelmingly as the day they would be most productive, with Monday trailing far behind to come in second, Wednesday and Thursday tying for third and Friday placing last.

    9. When is the best time to call a lawyer?

    Di Vincenzo suggests calling lawyers in the afternoon – they often arrange sit-downs with clients or are in court during the morning. However, if you get in there early, Di Vincenzo says, 9 a.m. can also be a good time because even if the lawyer isn't there, they may start calling people back in the order in which they called, so you'll be at the top of the list.

    10. When is the best time to vacuum?

    Try vacuuming in the late afternoon, suggests Di Vincenzo – around, say, 4 p.m. Humans experience a boost of energy and an increase in their mood in the late afternoon, so you'll be happier when you start the task and be more inclined to do it.

    Source: Christian Science Monitor

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