Gretchen Schock shares her love of recipes, crafts and frugal living. She also speaks very opening about the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. After a breast cancer scare in 2012, she decided to say goodbye to her nightly glasses of Chardonnay. It was time to get sober and live life with eyes wide open! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.

6/25/2007

Chicken Tetrazzini

This recipe is a little high maintenance for me for a weeknight dinner but perfect for a dinner party with all meat eaters. Of course you could substitute the chicken for tofu and the broth for vegetable broth. Regardless it's fantastic and relatively easy to make. Would also make a great frozen pre-made dinner in your freezer for later in the month. Serves 12.What You'll Need:

salt and pepper

6 tablespoons butter

1 pound mushrooms chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3 cups milk

1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup dry white wine

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 pound spaghetti or linguine noodles broken in half

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups)

1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas or mixed vegetables thawed and drained.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta).

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper.

Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8-10 mins.

transfer to a bowl and set aside.


Make sauce: in same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.

Add flour; cook, whisking about 1 min.

Whisking constantly add milk, broth and wine.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, and add cheese and thyme.

Season with salt and pepper.


Cook pasta 2 mins less than package directions for al dente; drain and return to pot.

Add sauce, chicken, peas/mixed vegetable and mushrooms and garlic.

Toss well to combine.

Divide between baking dishes and sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake until browned about 30 mins.

6/17/2007

Oil Mister

Yesterday I bought a great new kitchen tool. It is a reusable oil mister.
Here is an example of what one looks like at nexttag.com but I'm sure there is a huge variety of misters out there.

I used to love spray vegetable oil in an aerosol can but it isn't very friendly to the environment. I missed being able to spray a cake pan or even bread to make grilled cheese but now I have the solution.

6/10/2007

Betty Ruble Necklace


I knit this necklace to give to Gretchen for her Birthday (which was weeks ago now) and I am finally getting the picture of it up. I liked it so much I knit myself one. The pattern is by Jennifer Stafford whose website dominknitrix.com is fantastic for unique and modern knit patterns.


In order to learn to make the necklace I had to learn 3 new stitches and a technique. The technique was how to make I-cord and the person that taught me was my former co-worker Jessie. Jessie is a fantastic knitter and her flicker page is filled with pictures of her beautiful work.

Anyway, this project is perfect for one ball of a thinner weight novelty yarn. The yarn I used was black with an bit of a sparkle to it so it will catch the light. If some one wants the actual name of the yarn make a comment and I'll look up the name for you.

I am always searching for a gift knitted or crochetd to give someone that lives somewhere that it is too warm for a hat or scarf. This fits the bill for a woman at least.

Some tips on making it. Basically the "chain" part of the necklace is I-cord, which is perhaps one of the best knitting techniques ever, and the balls are increased and immediately decreased pouches that are stuffed with yarn scraps. I recommend using a similar color to the necklace, if not the same yarn, as the yarn you are using to make the necklace. Finally, I bought a small magnetic fastener to join it and make putting it on and taking it off a breeze and hot-glued the tiniest bits of Velvet ribbon to both secure down the ends (that would normally be woven in) and to give a truly finished look.

6/04/2007

Bridal Shower Gift

It's the season in most families when the wedding invitations and bridal showers invitations start pouring in the mail. One of my favorite gifts to give the new bride is something that isn't on her wish list but should be. Thank You cards.

I make up a set of cards using white card stock from an office supply store, and while you are there grab a box of invitation envelopes. I use scrapbook paper on my cards but honestly you can do whatever you want or if you aren't feeling crafty buy some beautiful cards that someone else made. The key to the gift is to affix address labels with the bride &/or grooms' address and stamps. So that all the bride needs to do is write the card out and send it in the mail. It makes like so much simpler when you have to sit and hand write 20 thank you cards in a night or even when you need to grab a card quick and send it out in the mail. I normally make about 20 since that is the number on a sheet of stamps. I package the gift in a photo storage box that you can buy at Joann's,Michaels or even Target. I also include a nice pen. It's a low cost gift for you but the bride will thank you over and over again for making her life simpler in such a hectic time of her life and also for not buying her some tacky gift that wasn't on her wish list but now she will feel obligated to keep it. :)

The Master Cleanser

Day 1 of a Master Cleanser for me today. I did it once before for 3 days in January and felt great. The Master Cleanser or lemonade diet has been around since the 70's this is a great sight to find out the recipe and tips - therawfoodsite.com.

Unfortunately, many people do the cleanse incorrectly or for the wrong reason. It is not for weight loss. You will lose weight but it is mostly water weight and will return. The diet is for ridding your system of toxins.

Yesterday, I was reading Time Magazine because the cover story is The Science of Appetite. There is quite a bit of interesting information in the stories about why, how, and what we eat. The story about the Master Cleanser was however fairly inaccurate. Notes on a Food Free Diet follows the life of a very unhappy reporter who is attempting to do the Master Cleanser for 48 hours. The reporter explains that he doesn't even have the first drink until around 12:00pm when he is already hungry. This is exactly the kind of mistake that gives the cleanse a bad rap. You have to drink at least 6-8 glasses of the drink in a day and you have to drink them all day throughout the day.

I found that I was not hungry at all when I did the cleanse and expect the same thing to happen again this time. I did however, realize how often I wanted to eat sometime. I wanted to taste something. I wanted to chew or bite or savory food but I wasn't actually hungry. After the three days was done I felt as if I had rebooted my whole hunger system. For weeks after the cleanse I was more aware of if I was eating for hungry or eating for boredom.

Anyway, I'll keep you updated and if anyone has any questions please post a comment.

6/03/2007

The Place Where Bikes Rule the Road

Sometimes things get really popular for seemingly no good reason (think Paris Hilton). Sometimes good things get really popular and then tragically over-hyped (think Harry Potter). Thinking green might be on the verge of getting over-hyped but I hoped it isn't soon forgotten. One of the many refreshing things to moving to the West is the definitive difference in the way they think about the environment. Green is not a passing fade here. It isn't just en vogue. It is the status quo.

This is a city that actually publishes a pedestrian / bike path map .
People are serious about biking here. Many people commute to work on bike here. More people that I can conceive of bike for fun on a daily basis. It should be a dream for someone like me who doesn't like driving cars. One of the main reasons I moved to NYC (and one of the things I am missing the most) is the NYC subway system. Boulder is completely unique in the measures it has taken to make non-car transportation possible. It is a Green-Anti-Driving Girl's Dream.

Except for one thing.

I can't ride a bike. REPHRASE! I couldn't ride a bike until about 3 weeks ago when I visited Gretchen on my vacation prior to moving to Boulder.

Hello, my name is Jessica I'm 31 and I'm afraid to ride a bike. Unfortunately, there is no "Can't Ride Bikes Anonymous." If there was I would have joined it. Instead, I kept my fear of two- wheeling one of my dirty little secrets. I felt like the only person in the world to which the phrase, "It's just like riding a bicycle." actually brought up feelings of inadequacy. Until on a cool spring day in Maryland, my Cocktail Mom Gretchen helped me get over my fears and I rode a bike for the first time in my life. I was miraculously able to do it again the next day with her help and some additional coaching from her father. I thought my life was changed forever. That I could check something off my list of life goals. Until....

Yesterday, I tried to ride again to get a little practice in on the two-wheeled machine. My boyfriend has a very good friend who loves bicycling. She does 50+ mile rides. She and I went to a local bike consignment shop in hopes of finding me a used bike that I could start peddling all over Boulder on ASAP. We didn't find a bike. Once we got back to the house she encouraged me to ride here bike around a bit. Scared but needing some practice I agreed.

When I got on something didn't feel right. The seat was up too high. I was on gravel not pavement. It wasn't a good idea. I knew it.

In order to learn to ride the bike Gretchen and her father had instructed me to lower the bike seat all the way down so I was able to put my feet down if I needed to. This was vital to my learning to ride the bike. I finally felt safe up on the seat. At any time I could put my feet down and stop (provided I wasn't speeding along too fast). Anyway, on her bike I couldn't touch the ground. Not even on my tip toes. She told me that that is how it was really supposed to be and that I couldn't ride with my feet touching forever. I shouldn't have tried it. But I wanted to prove to myself that the rides a few weeks ago had not been flukes. I barely rode for a few feet. Then crashed. I fell off the bike and bloodied the very knee that still bares a scar from the day my parents took off my training wheels. It really sucked.

Here I am, in the one of the few cities in American where you really can bike everywhere, and I can't ride a bike. I knew I needed some more confidence. I knew I was still scared of being in traffic or being passed by another cyclist but I thought I was at least able to ride. It was a sad moment but my ego was was hurt more than my knee.

And so today - I got back on the bicycle. My boyfriend took me up to the campus of the University of Colorado and with the seat lowered to a point where just my tip toes touched I was able to ride again. I'm still not ready for the busy bike paths of Boulder Creek but perhaps soon I'll at least be able to enjoy a quick trip to corner store on my bike.

Here are my tips for learning to ride a bike:
  1. Have someone patience and positive with you
  2. Lower the seat on the bike so that your feet can touch
  3. When you start to fall turn the handle bars into the fall ...not way from the fall
  4. Take it at your own pace especially if you're an adult. Everyone thinks it is so easy that they forget that it can be scary and that you are just learning

Cocktail Mom out of sorts!

I've been out of sorts and off my schedule. I left New York City on May 5th and vacationed with friends and family until I arrived at my new home in Boulder, CO. I've moved in with my boyfriend and things with him and the apartment are much better than I expected. I was afraid to live with anyone (after living alone for so long) but we've been adjusting exceptionally well.

The hardest part is not having a job and having to budget my money. I'm a reformed spender and had been doing really well. I paid off my debt and created some savings prior to my move. Now, that I am here there are things I want to buy and things I want to do_BUT_I shouldn't be spending money until I get a job! And it is going to take a few weeks to find a great job.

Anyway, my main goal this week is to get back in the groove. I started working out again. I now I have to start writing, crafting, and blogging again. So, I send out a "great work" to Gretchen for keeping the entries fresh and promise to contribute more soon.

6/01/2007

Apartment life rant

We are currently renting an Apt in a planned community in MD. The area is beautiful, manicured lawns, duck pond, pools galore. Townhouses go for 350 thousand and single-family homes are half a million at best. On this 90-degree day I’m looking out my window and watching the sprinklers watering the lawn at 12noon. I called the rental office and asked if they knew that you should not water lawns in the middle of the day but at night, that the lawn is not benefiting from the sprinklers. The woman on the other end asked if the sprinklers were bothering me…well yes, they are. It’s bothering me that you are wasting water. That wasn’t good enough of an answer.
When we first moved here from Seattle, WA I was shocked to discover that they don’t recycle in this apt community. What?!?! No recycling?!?! Coming from the recycling center of Seattle I just couldn’t believe it. In Seattle they recycle everything, they even have days where you can get mulch for free made from trees that the power company had to trim back for the safety of power lines. I asked the rental office why they don’t recycle and the simple answer was “it’s too expensive”. It’s frustrating to live in this type of environment where I watch moms on the playground simply throw the yogurt container in the trash and I want to scream “carry it home and recycle that!” This mindset is, in my opinion, how our planet has gotten as bad as it is. It’s not convenient to recycle…god forbid you have to rinse out the container before putting it in the bin…or it’s too expensive for an apt community to get a recycling dumpster that I’m paying monthly more in rent than I will on a home mortgage. So every other week I drive myself to the recycling center, which just happens to be 5 miles from my house, and I dispose of our rather large load of recyclables. On my last visit I asked one of the workers if I could take things out of the large trash dumpster, they looked at me like I was insane. But sitting on top was a little girls bike and while talking to the worker he said he has a little girl that needs a bike I told him he should pull it out and take it home. After much convincing he did…hopefully I created a dumpster diver in him.

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