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Cheesy Mozzarella Ranch Burgers

*Warning:  Do NOT read this post if the sight of raw meat makes you queasy.  Unless you like feeling queasy.  If that’s the case, read on.

I realize it’s kinda ballsy to post a recipe for burgers on a blog that a) isn’t entirely about food, b) isn’t written by a food connoisseur, or c) claims that poo-pourri is one of the best. gifts. ever.

Many people tend to take hamburgers very, very seriously.  Such people insist that burgers should be prepared as simply as possible, using very little ingredients.

But c’mon – it’s a burger, people – ground chuck stuck between two buns (and I’m not talking about Erin’s husband when he finally gets home).  (Sorry Erin’s mother-in-law!)  I mean, it’s ground beef – not veal.

All I’m sayin’ is that it’s a meat that’s made to be played with – and play with it, I do.

So here’s what you need for the burgers I made for the 4th of July celebration (a recipe inspired in-part by Erin’s good friend Kevin and other recipes found online at various times):

  • 4-ish lbs. ground beef (I normally like to get the good stuff, but since I was being cheap after much purchasing of alcohol, I got a pre-packaged brand of regular ground)
  • 2 (1 oz.) packages of ranch dressing mix (I would’ve actually used 3, but I only had 2.  Crap.)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups crushed saltine crackers or bread crumbs (amount depends on the consistency of your meat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • Worcestershire (if meat is dry)
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese
Burger ingredients

1)  Dice up your onion, nice and fine.

Diced onion

2)  Stick all your ingredients in a giant bowl.

3)  Now’s the fun part.  Make sure your hands are clean and dig on in!  Trust me, you can try to do this with a spoon if you want.  You can try.  But your burgers will likely end up very unevenly mixed.  Plus, you won’t have the fun of digging ground beef out from under your fingernails later.

Ooohh feels so good.

4)  You want them to be sticky, but not too sticky.  (Yeah, that helps, right?)  Then form them into balls.  I think I got about 14 balls out of my 4 or 4 1/2 lbs. of meat.  You can really make them as big as you’d like.

5)  Break off chunks of your mozzarella cheese (wash your hands first), and then press them inside the meat, making sure to cover the cheese completely with meaty goodness.

I only used half of this block of mozzarella:

6)  Once each burger ball is stuffed with 2-3 pieces of the cheese, it’s time to slap ’em on the grill.  Now I’m not about to tell anyone how to cook your meat, but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE don’t make them well-done.  I know it’s not veal, but it’s not tire rubber, either.  You want to taste the meat, don’t you?  (Unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case I’m not sure why you’re even still reading this post.)

ranch burgers

Now is when I have to admit I’ve failed you.  I’ve failed you as a blogger and as a human being.  Every person who blogs about food knows you’re supposed to have a photo of the finished product.  They know this.

But here’s what went down:

We took some really good buns and slathered butter on the insides and stuck them on the top rack of the grill so they could get nice and toasty (you could also do this on an indoor griddle).  Then we added condiments of our choosing and finally bit into the ranchy, cheesy goodness that is these burgers.  It was the cheese, friends.  (Okay, it might have partially been the beer), but it was mostly the cheese that made me forget about picking my camera back up and snapping a photo of the finished product.

I promise you I will probably forget to take the final picture on more than one occasion.  That’s just me.  But it’s like the Gin Blossoms said, “Don’t expect too much from me, and you might not be let down.”

Make these (or some variation there-of) this summer.  You won’t be disappointed.  Unless you screw ’em up.

What’s your favorite kind of burger?

Two Peas in a Pod

The hubs is coming home!  The hubs is coming home!

Sweet Lindsay Lohan, Chuckles is coming home!

After two excruciatingly long, obnoxiously celibate (sorry, Mother-in-Law!) months apart, he’ll be flying in Monday.

Our relationship, like, well, let’s face it — pretty much everything about me — might appear slightly abnormal to the casual observer.  A military career and the number of traveling jobs that followed managed to keep us apart a good chunk of the six years we’ve been together.  Sometimes in different zip codes, sometimes on different continents.

Fortunately, Chuckles and I are both independent creatures, so separation isn’t as dire for us. 

I, for one, revel in my alone time because it gives me the chance to shamelessly partake in a colorful array of nasty-ass habits.  Like, for instance, eating S’mores for dinner while standing over the sink (because the thought of washing a plate literally weighs on my soul) wearing crusty, stained pajama pants that have spent the entire weekend molding to my lower half.

Anyhoo, while I enjoy my “gross-girl” downtime, that doesn’t mean I don’t miss him tons, and my lil’ ol’ heart still gets all a-flutter when it knows he’s coming home soon.

And since it looks like he might actually be sticking around for a while this time (more on that later), I feel I should get you guys all nice and acquainted.

Let’s see, how do I describe Chuckles?  Well, he’s an “extreme” kind of guy.

How so?  Well, he’s into stuff like this…

And this…

And this…

 And this…

All of which have, on occasion, lead to this…


Bad husband.  Bad.

And let’s just say my hobbies are a little less, um, diverse? 

…you get the idea.

So how do we make this crazy little thing called marriage work?

Well, we’ve got one very important quality in common, Chuckles and I…


A quality that allows us to take life less seriously and smile through even the toughest circumstances…

And I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone who knows us that the quality we share is…

…being dead sexy.

Aww yeah.

Contemplating Waves

A jet plane and a big idea
I jump over the sea
What ifs hot on my trail
But that can’t catch me, no…

-Avett Brothers  

Don’t worry kids, even with all of this Costa Rica talk, I’ll still continue to post about some of our house projects and my attempts to cook.  It seems like so long ago that I showed you our crime-scene guest bathroom, and I haven’t forgotten that I still need to show you how it turned out.  

In case you forgot, the last time I showed it, it looked like this:  

Kate's Guest Bathroom Crime Scene


But since this Costa Rica thing is currently still so fresh – so mind-numbingly, eye-openly, heart-palpitatingly new and exciting, I can’t help but talk about it a little more.  

First, let me just say that the hardest thing about going to work when you know you want to quit, is going to work when you already have quit.  The gray cubicle walls seem a little… grayer… and the harsh neon lighting seems a little… neonier.  It’s like the last couple weeks of a prison sentence.  Except with coffee breaks and I don’t have to worry about my co-workers shanking me on my way to the bathroom.  Usually.  

The interesting thing about going back to work after making such an announcement are the slew of questions that follow.  And the questions with their associated reactions to my answers are different depending on who’s asking:  

  • So you’re leaving here to go work on a farm?  For free?!
  • What does your husband think?
  • Why??
  • Can I come with you?
  • A farm?  Working for free?  REALLY??!
  • What will you do when you get back?
  • So like… aren’t you afraid you’re going to get raped?
  • Isn’t it going to be hot there?

And my personal favorite…  

  • What are you trying to accomplish by doing this?

And my answers are:  

  • Yes
  • Why do you care?  (He’s supportive, by the way.)
  • The heart wants what it wants.
  • Do you want to work on a farm?  No?  Then no.
  • Yes.  Yes.  Yes.
  • I have no clue.
  • Always.
  • I ain’t afraid of a little sweat.
  • I realize an existential heightening of awareness and enlightened state of mind along with the final, clear realization of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life might be a bit too much to ask out of this trip.  So let’s just say I want to do something fun.  I want to meet new and interesting people.  I want to experience life for a moment unchained by the conventional constraints that have me constantly worrying about the future.  I want to see the sights today. Smell the smells today. Taste the tastes, hear the music, and walk the trails that don’t have to take me anywhere other than where they actually go.

Seriously, guys.  I know to 70% of you this sounds irrational.  And the other 30% tell me they want to do this as well, but it’s not the right time, those loans still need to be paid, they need me right now at work, and on and on and on.  

And on.  

So if you still think we’re crazy or need a better explanation for why we’re doing what we’re doing, please read this.  It should make it a bit more clear.  

And remember that I defied death to take this:  


And Erin and I have both done this:  

Skydive Hawaii


Oh, and Erin has a BIG tattoo:  


So maybe we are a little crazy.  But only a little.  

And I will tell you this – it’s never a good time to quit work.  It’s never a good time to be selfish.  It will always conflict with somebody’s schedule, somebody’s budget, somebody’s feelings.  

A very good friend of mine, Christy Lowery, wrote this:  

“Closing ear to the voices that call,
Would be as seeds of adventure unsown.
Heed not the doubts, feed not the fears
For they will surely blind your path.
Spirit yearning for freedom is your driver now.
Let it take you where it may.

So take all of your questions and turn them back on yourself.  There is a consequence to every decision we make.  If you’re happy with your life, if you are content with your job, then there is no question for you.  But if you long to do something else, then what’s stopping you?  It’s only fear.  But as wise old Amazon book reviewer once told me, “Fearlessness is only attained on the moving side of action.”  

You could stand around and contemplate the waves…  

Heather Brown Print
(Click photo for link to artist's website)


Or you could just jump on in.  

I’m tired of contemplating waves.  

Photo by: Leah B Photography (click photo for link)


In the end, we all have to make our own choices and take our own risks.  

Find the quotes, song lyrics, or other inspirations that work for you.  Of all the ones I posted here, this one was the table-turner for me:  

“It is never too early to start beefing up your obituary.”  – Dos Equis commercial.  

‘Nuff said.

This Blog Is About To Get Even Better. If That’s Possible.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

But as riveting as posts about pet dust bunnies and senseless wine glass violence are, we’re kicking it up a notch, folks.


See how I did that?  That easy.

As Katie revealed earlier, very soon here we’re about to get even less domestic than we were to begin with.  Normally, I’d say the only way that’d be possible is if we moved to rural Arkansas and spent our days on a rickety porch in bare feet and rolled-up overalls blowing mountain songs on whiskey jugs.

But, in this instance, it means we’re blowing off our household duties (ha!  like we did them to begin with) and hitting the road for two whole months.

And this ain’t your grandma’s annual road trip to the Atlantic City slots, either.

All right, we’ve toyed with your emotions enough.

We’ve explained, for the most part, about why and for how long, but it’s finally time to tell you where we’re going–

–And to do so, we’ve arranged a month-long series of events featuring increasingly elaborate tasks our readers must accomplish prior to the “GRAND FINALE REVEAL!” on August 30th at the Molson Amphitheater in Ontario, Canada.  Tickets are on sale now!

–Or I can just tell you that we’re going to Costa Rica.  Hah, how I slay myself!

But, in all seriousness, Costa Rica is, in fact, where we’re going.

And while we’re there from mid-August to mid-October, we’ll be doing some volunteer work for a chili pepper farm, taking a metric ton of photos, sampling fascinating cuisine (for a related topic, see list item #1 below), venturing out on exciting weekend excursions, and generally trying not to contract malaria.

Ok, I’ll admit that was kind of a weak reveal after weeks and weeks of buildup but, in all fairness, we kind of trapped ourselves in a situation where anything short of hearing that we’re launching into outer space was going to be a disappointment to some reader out there.

Plus, it’s not like we’re getting paid to do this blog.  So walk it off.

Besides, going to Costa Rica isn’t even the most exciting news.

In fact, Katie already mentioned the best part in her last post, but you were probably too busy staring at her boobs.  But that’s ok.  I know it’s hard to resist their sweet siren song.

So are you ready to hear the good news (again)?

Cause here it comes…

You’re coming to Costa Rica with us!

 And here’s a little taste of what you’ll be experiencing…

Miravalles Volcano in Guanacaste

Llanos de Cortez, outside Bagaces

Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja

Now, before you arm-sweep everything off your desk into your trashcan and start flipping off coworkers while lugging a briefcase full of smuggled office supplies to your car, I feel I should add a caveat here.

We can’t literally take you with us since you probably have families who’d get all weird and start putting up “Missing” posters with your face on them all over town.

Besides, with six hours of direct, unadulterated exposure to Katie, me, and our incessant, senseless chatter on the flight to Costa Rica, the odds are extremely high that you’d be clawing at that emergency door handle somewhere shortly after takeoff, ready for sweet, silent oblivion.

But we can still take you with us in a less “suicide-y” way.  And we intend to — by continuing this here blog from Costa Rica, so that the tales of our shenanigans might be a shining beacon of light in your otherwise crap life.

Or, you know, just a way for you to burn a quick five minutes each day.

Anyhoo, now that the secret’s out, let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?

Based on my research of the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica in which we’ll be visiting and the opinions of a doctor (or I assume he is… whatever, he wears a lab coat) — as well as the unsolicited advice of a large number of nosy strangers — apparently, Katie and I can look forward to the following:

1.  At least one or more vengeful bouts of “travelers’ diarrhea” that will literally make us wish we’d never been born, let alone left the States.  My doctor gave me the sunny prognosis that there’s about an 85% likelihood that several days of the trip will be spent in agonizing torment in the seventh circle of hell (otherwise known as “the crapper”).  Awesome.  I’m debating whether or not I will subject you guys to this apparently inevitable little incident.  It will largely depend on how bitter and hate-filled I’m feeling after all’s said and done.

2.  Extremely hot, humid conditions.  It will be muggy and steamy and damp.  Also, it will be oppressive and suffocating and moist.  Basically, it will be like living inside someone’s mouth for two months.

3.  Being wet every moment of every day until our skin has absorbed so much water that we look like bloated, Jabba-the-Hut versions of our former selves.  Our little excursion directly coincides with the rainy season, which means fewer tourists (good, cause I hate those people) but also lots of, well,  rain.  Who knew?  So much rain, in fact, that mud becomes a big problem and many roads are impassable during this season.

So that’s the short list of what to expect, for starters.  Rest assured, there will be plenty more related posts to follow as we gain a better understanding of what exactly we’ve gotten ourselves into…

But you know what?

I’m still insanely, unbelievably, losing-my-mind excited about this trip!

Because, after years of living comfortable, unassuming ordinary lives, we’re embarking on a journey that will be equal parts frustrating, enlightening, scary, freeing, challenging, beautiful, lonely, interesting, and different.

And, well, ain’t that what life’s about?

Don’t Let ‘Em Drag You Down

“Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.”

That’s what the gate guard said to me when I was headed back to the installation from my lunch break a few weeks ago.  Okay, so he says that to everyone.  Every car – always, “Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.”  It’s his mantra – that thing he repeats over and over again just to get himself – and others – through the day.

But that day, for some reason, it meant so much more.

Those of you who’ve been keeping up with us have seen that Erin has had a busy couple of weeks – getting hired, getting fired (err… quitting), and cultivating an overall level of squirreliness that’s borderline-scary.

Even for her.

But I’m about to explain this, since it’s finally come to the point where I actually can.

See, I gave notice at my place of employment last week as well.  And while it didn’t involve high-heel shootouts or greased piglets, it did involve a certain amount of uncertainty.  After nearly 2 1/2 years at the place, it’s the longest I’ve consistently worked anywhere.


In fact, one year I had to file taxes for 7 jobs in 3 different states.  So this?  This was a feat.

What’s crazy is that it was a good job.  A very good job.  Oh, and that whole deal about getting a paycheck was pretty great too.  But somewhere along the ride, it went from newness and excitement to this and this.  And while most people would still be grateful to even have a job, what I’m looking for is something else.  Experience.  Stimulation.  Life.

How’s that for introspective?

I know I have a passion for something, but it definitely isn’t this:

(I stole Erin’s picture because the sad reality is that mine looks pretty much the same.  But cheaper.)

And I’m pretty sure it’s not government work.  So after 27+ years on this earth, I still can’t tell you what my passion is.  But after 12 years of thorough research, I can definitely tell you what it isn’t:

  • Washing dishes
  • Selling jewelry
  • Waiting tables
  • Wearing suits
  • Fixing watches
  • Giving tours
  • Hanging clothes
  • Making spreadsheets
  • Kissing asses
  • Watching children
  • Flipping burgers
  • Sorting CD’s

In fact, the only commonality I actually liked with each of these jobs was the people.  Be it the people I worked with or the people I helped, I always enjoyed them.

So after much thought and consideration about what I actually wanted to do, I eventually approached my equally professionally-dissatisfied friend with a proposition:

How about we take this blog on the road?

All it took was a weekend trip to Frederick, sushi bribes, lots of alcohol, and a quote from Thoreau (“How vain it is to sit down to write when you haven’t stood up to live.”) to convince her we both needed this adventure.  And I might have let her see my boobs.


Actually all it took was a quick Skype session with her husband, and we were ready to roll.  The rest was just for fun.

So that’s what we’re doing.  Actually, we’re not driving.  We’re flying.  Then busing.  Then walking.  Then riding.  But we’ll get there, and there we will stay for 61 days.

Where?  Well it’s taking a bit of planning (not exactly my forte), and all will be revealed very shortly.

In the meantime… Stay safe, keep faith, and don’t let ’em drag you down.

Our Family’s Newest Addition

(Warning:  This post contains pictures that may not be suitable for readers who are easily grossed out by filthy kitchens.  And if you are one of those easily grossed-out readers… well…  mayhaps this blog is not for you.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to announce the newest addition to our family!

I came home from work yesterday evening and imagine my surprise to find this little guy waiting for me…

Well, hi there, lil’ fella! 

Apparently, while I was hard at work earning money to feed their chubby, slacker faces, the cats spent the day working like West Virginia coalminers to excavate what might possibly be the world’s largest dust bunny from under our fridge.

This is all extremely fascinating, I’m hearing you say.  But, tell us, exactly how big is it?

Allow me to defer to the fine folks at Centrum Multivitamins to put “the sitch” into perspective for you, gentle reader.

That is a 100-count bottle, by the way.

For your further elucidation, here are a few other random nearby objects I scrounged up for comparison, so that you may truly appreciate the beastly magnitude of what we are dealing with here.

I keep my high school combination lock handy for just such an occasion.

I must admit, I was a bit overwhelmed at first since we hadn’t really even talked about getting another pet.

But, after spending a little time getting to know each other, the little guy’s just so fluffy and well-behaved that I’ve really come to view it as part of the family.  And, hopefully, in time, the hubs will learn to love it as much as I do.

For the record, I’ve decided on the name McFluffin’ (shout out to Superbad!) and have already made an appointment for next week to get all the necessary shots.

On a side note: Perhaps I should clean under the fridge more often.

I’m going to go scrub myself vigorously with a wire brush now.