A Bit of Housekeeping

Friends and Followers-

I’ve moved my blog to the WordPress.org system this week. This will allow me a lot more flexibility in my design and site set up, but most importantly it will allow me to use some fancy recipe plug ins. Once I fully transfer them all, the recipes that come out of hard copy cookbooks that I post here on Krystal cooks. will have lovely print features and other neat things like nutrition and serving size.

All this to say that if you were a follower of mine via WordPress.com or email, you need to re-follow me on my new site. I promise I won’t juggle things around like this again – at least for the foreseeable future. So, click here and follow me, add Krystalcooks.com to your reader, enter your email address on the right – whatever floats your boat!

Thanks all!

PS – If you’re an email subscriber, I’m going to try to transfer you over to the new system myself. If WordPress sends you an email confirming your updated subscription make sure you click “confirm follow” to finalize the subscription.

A Week, in Three Acts (Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches)

skipaheadAct 1: “Is it Friday yet?” So said the girl who enjoys an incredibly flexible work schedule and one or two work-at-home days each week. This week has seemed exceptionally long though. It all began with some news about staff changes at my job. It’s an exciting time, but it also likely means more demands on me and a more rigid work schedule. Since the biggest perk of my job is my ability to work from home as needed and start my day at 10am or leave at 4pm when I can, I’m a little troubled. I know we’ll get back to a flexible schedule again, but as we transition, I imagine I’ll be pulled in a few more directions. It’ll be a fun ride anyhow. Ride along with me?

Act 2: In the middle of the week I attended a conference and flashed a handful of attendees. Ok, not really, but kind of. If you ever plan a conference, please please please make sure you have a spot to direct nursing mothers to. PLEASE. To be fair, this conference did have a spot for me. On the other side of the hotel on the 24th floor. It took no less than 10 minutes to get to. So 20 minutes of travel, plus the time it takes to pump, meant I was missing whole sessions out of my $200 conference. There were only five sessions to begin with, so I was not a happy girl. Even so, I tried to roll with it. But when I went to use the room for the second time that day and found it was in use, I was incredibly frustrated when they didn’t have a back up option for me. Folks, I’ve pumped in storage closets, I’ve pumped in my car, I’ve even pumped in a restaurant after hours. I’m flexible. I really just need a door. I asked the hotel and conference crew if there was an office, a bathroom with a sofa, a closet – anything at all that I could use in lieu of the 24th floor isolation chamber that was in use. No, no, no. With tears welling up – mostly out of frustration – I started counting my options. I told the staff I’d nurse right there in the lobby if that’s what they left me to (fyi – I do have a cover-up, so we’re not talking about extreme indecency here). They said I couldn’t do that, but didn’t give me any other options either. So I walked three steps in the direction of the lobby sofa, saw a plethora of guys in three-piece suits on their blackberrys, and quickly chickened out. Instead I found a corner in one of the meeting rooms that had minimal traffic and a spot to plug-in my pump. It was still humiliating sitting there with my shirt hoisted, my nursing coverup (aka “tent”), and the steady “swish, swash, swish, swash, swish, swash” of my breast pump while conference participants networked and met with one another close by.

(By the way, later that day I found that the bathrooms did in fact have sofas, despite the front desk looking at me with bafflement when I asked that question.)

Act 3: Finally, the end of my week was spent battling a three-day snow storm that veered wildly from sputtering rain, to huge snowflakes, to sleet; and so on. I had watched the weather closely because of an early morning meeting, with participants from all around the state. The meeting went off without a hitch and although I hid behind various types of technology all through the meeting, my struggling social side was drained. I mean it, I was dog tired when I got home. Introvert friends, if you find yourself physically exhausted after meetings or parties, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Read this and take comfort. How to Care for you Introvert is one of my favorite articles. I share it, reference it, and read it often. It gives me comfort and reminds me that I’m not a crazy person (well, that might be an overstatement), but just an introvert.

So, needless to say, easy was the name of the game this week for dinner. I wanted comforting food, fast food (from my kitchen, foo, not from McDon’s), and mostly I wanted easy food. So, consider this the first installment of the “this week can just go right back to H E double hockey sticks” series.


Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Overall: five-star

Go ahead, have some wine! I love this Purple Cowboy Merlot. It’s named Purple Cowboy because the rodeo-loving wine makers always had purple teeth. My cowboy always turns his teeth purple when he has wine too!

This recipe makes me happy. It was so quick to whip up; had the meat, veggies, dairy, and grain all included; was a breeze to clean up; and tasted great! It costs a bit more since it does require steak and if you’re feeding a big family it could add up, but at least a little steak goes a long way in this one! (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.) Continue reading

When retro is new again (Pineapple Upside Down Cake in a Skillet)

skipaheadOver the weekend we celebrated my littlest sister and her 19th year. Yes, my sister is entering into her last teen year. I just can’t believe it. She’ll always be my baby sister though. After all, when I’m 99 she’ll only be 89. Spring chicken!

My baby sister and my baby boy.

My baby sister and my baby boy.

To celebrate her birthday, we went to the zoo and then made any cake she wanted. She could have chosen a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and chocolate ice cream. Or a lemon infused three-tiered cake with butter cream frosting. But no, she chose pineapple upside-down cake. And when I told her she was being retro and a little bit too easy on me she blinked back at me confused. Apparently 19 is too young to know that a pineapple upside-down cake is old-school.

Happy Birthday, Michelle!

Happy Birthday, Michelle!


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (In an Iron Skillet)

Overall: four-star

DSCF48701This is such a throw back recipe. It reminds me something that my grandmother probably made as a newlywed. I’d never made it though and it was really pretty good. The flavor didn’t blow me away, but it was easy to make and such a sweet presentation. (Recipe here, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.) Continue reading

Egg Wars! (Creamy Herb Deviled Eggs Recipe)

skipaheadFor Easter this year we went down to Southern Wisconsin, where my parents live. It is a long drive, compounded by traveling with a baby and two dogs. It was definitely worth it though. We had a blast seeing all of my family and catching up.

Great Grandma (Gigi) and Little K

Though Little K ended up getting two top teeth (yay for balancing out his smile!) and a terrible fever along with them, we did come home with some pretty fun goodies. Little K got some fun toys from the Easter Bunny and his very own adirondack chair.

Silly bunny hid Little K’s basket under his pack and play!

Mmm, Peeps! (For mommy and daddy…)

I fared ok too. First of all my mom gave me this beautiful deviled eggs plate that she had gotten as a wedding gift:

Ooo, shiny. And secondly, purdy eggs:

Do you decorate your eggs as intricately as this? That’s Little K’s egg (Rachel’s handiwork) with the big red tractor. We decorate eggs every year. And we’re serious about this project. This year we decorated seven dozen eggs. Don’t worry, only a mild cholesterol spike for us, each family only took about a dozen home.

What does any sane person do with all those eggs? Well, first you have an egg war.

After a couple eggs have sparred one another and been defeated, you make deviled eggs. What other option did I have?!


Creamy Herb Deviled Eggs Recipe

Overall: three-star

I made these as the main recipe calls for, and I made some that I “greek-ifyed.” The magazine has a bonus tip that says to add lemon, mint, and cucumber to give a Greek flair (I didn’t have cucumbers, so I used kalamata olives). Either way, I didn’t like them. E would give them a better rating than I would, but in my book I’d pick the traditional deviled eggs with mayo and mustard 99 times out of 100. However, if you’re looking for something a little healthier, this is the way to go! (Recipe here, from Taste of Home.) Continue reading

February is to cheetah, as March is to turtle: The Best of March

I have a feeling you’re tired of hearing it, but man was March long. Whereas February was a breeze, I felt like March was three months long before the first week was over. Whereas. Does that remind anyone else of the analogy  questions we used to have on tests in school?

Pop quiz!

  1. Apple is to fruit, whereas carrot is to ___.
  2. Coffee is to cup, whereas soup is to ___.
  3. Stinky is to Beaker the dog, whereas adorable is to ___.

Answers: vegetable, bowl, and Little K.

What? You’re saying that last one wasn’t on your ACT test? Well it should have been. Look at how sweet my baby boy is. I’ve got more Easter pictures on the way too – that post is coming soon! And guess what! It involves eggs. (Are you surprised?)

Anyhow, what were we talking about? Oh yeah. March was long. I think part of it had to do with the fact that we’re all hungry for Spring and it just doesn’t seem to come. And Easter screwed me up this year. We did Easter in Wisconsin with my family and whenever we see one another we always part ways telling the other when we’ll see each other again. It only happens once a month or every other month, so we like to remind one another that we’ll see them again soon. Well I think we left off in February saying “see you in a few weeks for Easter!” A few weeks was two months. But, finally, Easter came and went, and with it March. So, without further ado. Here is the best of March!

Best of the best: The two total package recipes this month! Chocolate chip banana bread and Baked Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce.

Continue reading