Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicken Curry over Basmati Rice

I desperately need to go to the store, I have found that if I don't have exactly what I need or at least a recipe/plan for dinner I am wholly uninspired. I still have CSA veggies to get through and I found I had one more curry packet left over in the pantry and I thought, ah ha! I can toss all sorts of veggies in a curry! So I started with the rice, then I cut up a leek, and an onion and sauteed that with the chicken breast cut into mini-pieces about the size of chickpeas, which I also added later. I also included red new potatoes and carrots. I thought about adding some summer squash but when I asked my husband if I should - I am not a fan of squashes it is one of the only veggies I am not too keen on- he said nah! So I didn't add it. Now when the directions on the package ask for 6 cups of water I add 4 cups of broth instead, I like my curry a little thicker but this is a very flavorful curry spice mixture but it isn't spicy -my husband adds saracha sauce for his heat- but Molly likes it (even though she didn't eat this because it was a day of sickness for her poor baby)!
Chicken Curry:
1 small leek, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 chicken breast, chopped
3-5 good sized new potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 can of chickpeas
4 cups chicken broth
1 packet (4 squares) of Golden Curry Spice Mix

**Feel free to add any and all veggies you like to this curry, I am sure it will work well. This is a great clean out the fridge/pantry dinner.

Linked to Mingle Mondays, Meet Me Mondays, Making Friends Mondays.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

quick from scratch chicken cookbook (Food & Wine Magazine)

I feel like this cookbook looks twice the size it should in the top right hand corner because I have simply dog eared so many recipes to try. At this point I have officially tried 3 recipes out of roughly 78 available in the book. I probably should preface with my first book review that I look for books that have LOTS of pictures (I like to see what the end product should look like, not because I am a horrible cook and need to be able to salvage it when it comes time to plate the meal; but more because I like to look at the picture first to see if it looks appetizing. If it does then I will peruse the ingredient lists and see if in fact I will make it. Does anyone else do this?) I find that cookbooks without pictures are like boats on dry land as the tale end of that ancient Japanese proverb states. I find them sort of un-useable or not as appealing when compared to my cookbooks with pictures... Unless it is a tried and true work horse of the kitchen like the Better Homes New Cook Book, but that is for another post I digress.

From this book I have made the Tandori Chicken recipe for the grill, fantastic flavor and even though the recipe says you have to marinade it forever I came home from work or something and didn't marinade it in the morning and only used about 20 minutes of marinating on the counter and it was very flavorful.
** See the post for that here.

I have also made the turkey sausage with cheddar cheese grits & tomato sauce. I really liked this simple dish, it is made with prepared turkey sausage after all and if you substitute quick grits then this is an easy whip up weeknight meal. My husband didn't care for the sausage, I might have used a chicken sausage actually now that I really think on it, versus Turkey but regardless he didn't care for the texture. I don't believe I did a post on this recipe though, it might have been pre-blog.

I have also made the arroz con pollo dish from here as well. A great all-in-one meal chicken, veggie, and rice all cooking in one pot. I really liked this meal, and now that the weather is getting colder but I still have some leftover veggies from summer this would be a great dish to throw in random veggies to "use them up" before they went bad. Again I am thinking I made this meal pre-blog as I don't have a post for it in my archives.

I not only like this book for the pictures, and easy family style meals but it also pairs it with a wine selection/recommendation, it is by Food & Wine magazine for cryin' out loud. All and all a very good buy,

I give it 4 out of 4 forks!

Getting to Know You

Getting to know YOU

1. If you accidentally nick a car in a parking lot..Do you leave a note or do you get the heck out of there?
I can't believe I am admitting this but it depends on the size of the nick...
2. Love your body or plastic surgery?
Love your body, although I would probably get breast augmentation (reducing the size) of my boobs if I couldn't get them smaller by simply losing weight.

3. What about your favorite blog(s) continues to drive you back?
Interesting topics, great recipes, great lunch ideas, and for one specific blog it is just to read her voice (it comes across great in her blog).

4. What percent of your blog is BS just to make your life seem more interesting than it really is?
I would say 0% because if I don't have anything to post I don't. Or if I didn't cook and we went out for dinner: again I just don't post.

5. If you had to give up one type of meat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably pork, not a huge fan... I could have said fish, since I hate it, but then I wouldn't be giving up anything as the question to me sort of hints at.

6. How often to you eat out?
Once a week or less, seems I eat out more in the summer because when it is hot I don't want to cook. And some weeks I eat out more than others, like this week for instance I went to a conference and I wasn't home so I had quite a few meals out as did my husband and daughter, because if left to his own devices my husband will not cook.

7. Skinny jeans or boot cut jeans?
Boot cut, honestly there are WAY too many people wearing the skinny jeans that have no business wearing them (there are very few in my opinion that can actually pull it off) and at least I can admit it. Also this is coming from a middle school teacher and I have to stare at the little teenagers trying desperately to fit in and be trendy and wear the skinny jeans like everyone else when they really shouldn't be. The ones that kill me are the ones that really shouldn't be wearing skinny jeans and then to top it off wear fluorescent yellow or black and white checkered skinny jeans to draw even more attention to themselves... hideous.

8. If you caught your spouse cheating would you forgive, divorce, or plan your kill?
For me there is no excuse for cheating, I would hope to be told before the cheating started that the marriage is over. If that didn't happen and cheating did happen then divorce immediately, there is no going back from that for me, and I would probably cause a little harm on the way out the door.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lunch Time, & Breakfast for Dinner

I had a mini-tub of whipped sun dried tomato cream cheese from Noah's Bagels and it was just sitting in my fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad. I was thinking pasta sounded pretty good. So I boiled up some noodles added a little bit of sauce from a jar, and a couple tablespoons of this cream cheese. Has anyone tried this? So creamy and tasty, you must try it for an easy pasta dish for lunch or dinner. Some extra Parmesan cheese and ta-da!

I didn't really want to cook anything last night so I thought... hmmm... what can I whip up fairly fast? I made the decision to go with breakfast for dinner. This brings me back to nights from my childhood when my dad had a late credit union board meeting and Mom and I were on our lonesome, mom always made it seem like we were getting away with something by having breakfast for dinner. My dad always helped too by seeming so upset that he missed out because he had to be at a meeting.

Now is there anyone else out there that likes bacon but doesn't particularly like the smell that lingers in the house? Well I am not going to take credit for this one, my mom decided to do this one morning when we were at their house and I thought it was pure genius. You know how I am always talking about using my BBQ for most anything I can, but have you ever thought about cooking bacon on it? Yes, you read it right, bacon on the grill. I am sure you are saying, wait wouldn't that start a grease fire or something? Well this is how you avoid that: you line a cookie sheet (one with a lip) with tin foil for easy clean up. I like to put in a cooling rack so that the bacon isn't sitting in it's own grease, and then line up your bacon on the cooling rack and place in the BBQ. You don't even need to turn it, just watch it for your desired doneness (I like mine extra crispy but not burnt). And when you are finished, carefully bring the bacon inside, but the best part... that lingering bacon smell stays outside! Genius, pure, genius!

For the eggs I used fresh parsley, leeks (cooked in a touch of olive oil before I added the eggs to soften, and I used these because I have a bunch to use from my CSA bag) garlic powder, and salt & pepper to taste. They also had a sprinkling of mozzarella after they were fully cooked, delish! These pancakes were made with my pre-mixed pancake mix, see the recipe by clicking here.

**Side note yes those are those horrendous sausages that we all know and love, they were bought for a camp out and didn't get used... no excuses...but this is in super fine print so you get how I feel about it! HA HA HA!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Brats with pineapple salasa and burgers on the grill with CSA goodies...

So this first recipe is another Relish recipe that as I was making it I said  to myself, really, you want me to put that in it? But knowing it was a relish recipe, and often they do this to me, I have learned to follow the recipe regardless of how weird I might think it is. I pre-cooked the brats in some beer and water on the stove and then Brian finished them off on the grill. The sweet potato fries were cut with my mandolin but they were in the oven a bit too long, about 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes is a more appropriate time. The sweet potato fries had some thyme and salt & pepper on them.
Pineapple Salsa
1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks
1 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lime
1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced (I didn't have this so I added a few dashes of Tabasco)
1/2 tsp cumin (this is what I questioned)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving

Now my husband didn't want to try this pineapple salsa at all and instead slathered his brat with ketchup, but as soon as I tried mine I was swooning. Somehow the tangy salsa cut the richness of the brat, and added a freshness that was much needed. I convinced Brian to try a bite and then he was bummed that he ruined his brat with the ketchup instead of trusting me with the salsa (by the way it was just the brats on a bun with the salsa no other condiments) it was really good and I will probably make it again.

CSA Booty (booty like a treasure not the other kind -cheeky cheeky!)
 From one end of the counter to another, we have five ears of sweet corn, five apples - this is one of the reasons I love the CSA so much, they tell you stories about the family and farm and you really feel like you know them, these apples for instance probably 50 years ago won the great grandma of the farm first price in the local county fair for her apple pie, which is sweet to know that history- a bag of tomatillos and 3 heirloom tomatoes, 2 yellow onions, a big bag of green beans and basil thrown in, another bag of beans - which I need to go back to the CSA e-mails and figure out what the heck these beans are because they aren't familiar- pickling cucumbers, 2 zucchini, 4 yellow summer squash, a bowl of cherry tomatoes that by the time I took this picture my daughter had decimated! Carrots, a bunch of garbanzo beans (these are a pain in the butt to shell) a bunch of red new potatoes. 
3 huge cucumbers, a bunch of little leeks, and patty pans (this is the first time we have gotten this squash I know that they grow this squash every year but they usually sell it at the farmer's markets instead of putting it in our bag so I am excited to use these) 

This was an impromptu dinner (I often revert to burgers when I don't really want to cook) I was looking at all of this food that I had from my CSA bag - the above is two weeks worth too so don't think I get an obscene amount, we were just camping and I haven't had a chance to get to all of it. You can see why though that I don't really have to go to the grocery store except for some meat and basic staples like milk and butter!

So we had grilled potatoes and carrots, look at how my hunny has perfected this on the grill! Again, we use a cast iron grill pan on our grill so that these little beauties don't fall through and they get extra seasoning from the pan! We also had sweet corn from the CSA bag, and I was able to use a tomato and onion from the CSA bag too, so I was able to put a small dent in the produce with just this one meal!

Linked to Boost My Blog Friday, New Friend Friday,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meal Plan Monday #9

Monday: Chicken Fingers with appricot dipping sauce; snap peas and carrot sautee (was supposed to have this last week with the babysitter and I fixed a bento plate for Molly instead)
Tuesday: Grilled Brats with Pineapply salsa & sweet potato fries (we had burrito bowls last night instead of this)
Wednesday: I will be gone to a conference so dad and Molly are on their own.
Thursday: I will be late coming home from conference so dad and Molly are on their own again.
Friday: Curried chicken salad and parmasean parsley biscuits
Saturday: Grilled Flank Steak, couscous and grilled veggies
Sunday: Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork

Click here for other menu plan ideas.

Burrito Bowls... and Gourmet Smores???

This is a family favorite, so get ready! Burrito bowls and cheesy nachos.
Burrito Bowls
2 chicken breasts
Taco Seasoning
2 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 can black beans
1 tomato diced
2 green onion
1/4 cilantro chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
Jar Salsa
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt

1. Sprinkle taco seasoning all over chicken breasts, then grill till done.
2. While chicken is cooking make rice (add a touch of salt to rice for flavor), prep other ingredients (I put beans, tomato, green onion, salsa, sour cream all out on my island for easy assembly)
3. The cilantro and lime juice will be stirred into your rice when it is finished.
4. Once chicken is cooked remove from grill and cut into bite sized pieces (during colder months when I don't use the grill, I use a wok and cut the chicken up before I cook, your preference)
5. Assemble bowls, layer Cilantro lime rice, chicken, beans, tomatoes, green onion, sour cream and salsa... the key to this dish is the sour cream it makes everything so creamy and tasty... this is a family favorite and one that I make A LOT! It reminds me of Cafe Yum (a Eugene favorite, or The Whole Bowl - a food cart here in PDX)

I served this with cheesy chips, I made one little plate and put it in the middle of the table for us to munch on between bites of the burrito bowl. Another nod to Relish for this one, although there are some variances to their original dish.

So my family goes camping a lot in the summer, and when I mean family I mean extended family from my dad's side that can reach upwards of 40-60 people. This trip was small, closer to about 25, but we had a great time. We had two potlucks, one is cocktails and appetizers (this time was a little difficult for some because it was mostly spicy or seafood - I had to go and make myself a sandwich because I am a wuss when it comes to spicy food and I can't do seafood) the second potluck was fantastic and more than made up for the previous one, everyone turned out to have a Tex-Mex sort of dish. We ended up with taco salad, yum bowls, BBQ pulled pork, tequila lime wings, Frito rice pie, beans (SO GOOD), and for dessert we had a dump cake (apple cinnamon) made in a dutch oven on the fire.

But I digress, after the cocktails and appetizers on Friday I brought a Fantastic Smores Buffet (say it like the British do, that is how I say Buffet in my head -think Turkey Curry Buffet from Bridget Jones's Diary) my family has been experimenting over the years a little with smores, we thought we had hit the jackpot with substituting a peanut butter cup for a slab of Hershey's chocolate until I cam across an article in the last Food Network Magazine, there was a two page spread devoted to gourmet smores. I immediately tore it out and thought we had to try them at the next camp out, I went to my local WINCO and bought everything I needed mostly from the bulk section and brought it to the fire after our Friday night potluck, it seemed to be a resounding success and one we will replicate hopefully next year. Here are some of the interesting combinations:
Elvis Smore (this one I think was the resounding winner)
Honey Graham
Peanut Butter
Roasted 'mallow
**we also did a variance where we used a chocolate covered graham cookie instead of just the regular graham, I thought it was a bit heavy but others thought it was divine**

Cinnamon Toast Smore
Cinnamon Graham
White Chocolate square
Butterscotch Chips
Roasted 'mallow
** key to this one is to melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips on the fire while toasting the 'mallow**

Peppermint Patty Smore
Chocolate Graham
Small Peppermint patty
Mini chocolate chips
Roasted 'mallow
**we did a variance on this one too with a mint chocolate covered chocolate cookie -store brand grasshopper cookie, again I thought this was a bit heavy but those that liked mint swooned - said it was refreshing**

Caramel Apple Smore
Cinnamon Graham
Thinly sliced green apple
Rolo's Candie (although maybe a different caramel that was easier to soften might have been better)
Roasted 'mallow
**must melt candy while roasting 'mallow**

Do any of you have interesting smore recipes? I would love to add it to the buffet!

Linked to Mingle Monday, Meet Me Monday, Making Friends Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Anniversary Dinner and Successful Ribs

So yesterday was not my anniversary (it was actually on Saturday but I couldn't get a babysitter) so we celebrated last night. We left Molly at home and headed into Portland for a "fancy" meal. I say that with quotations around it because it was a nice place, with great plates, but the atmosphere was relaxed and fantastic. We went to Three Doors Down Cafe, you live in PDX or you are visiting for whatever reason you should definitely make a stop.

We started with an antipasti of Italian cured meats and cheese, then had an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and 30 year old balsamic vinegar. Then we each had a salad, mine was bib lettuce with pancetta and a garlicky aioli and Brian had the classic romaine Cesar salad. For our entrees Brian got the hangar steak -cooked to perfection medium rare- some caramelized peppers with what Brian thought were currants and potatoes au gratin. I got the orecchiette pasta with oven roasted cherry tomatoes, corn, smoked bacon, and scallion sauce. It was also very good, and topped off with a few classes of their house white wine. It was a great date with my husband. We don't do presents for our anniversary or for valentines because -I probably more than my husband- request that we go to a nice restaurant, spend time together, enjoy the food and spend the money there. It was a great night. I thought about taking pictures but I didn't have the balls to do it, sorry!

Then today I tried ribs in the slow cooker, I have attempted ribs only ONCE before and they were not good. My husband really likes ribs and will frequently when we go to a gastropub order them so I actually do have an invested interest in trying to find something that will work. When I found the recipe as an option on my favorite meal planning site Relish, and saw that they used the slow cooker I thought BRILLIANT! Of course! Why didn't I think of that! Fool proof fall off the bone easy-peezey ribs. Here is the recipe, but again I got it from Relish so I am not taking credit for it.

Saucy BBQ Ribs
2 slabs of baby back pork ribs
(I couldn't find this at my store when I went so I got St. Louis style... now I am not a fan of eating meat off the bone, and I hate fatty meat and this was very fatty does anyone know if St. Lois style ribs are just more fatty??)
2 tsp coarse salt
1 yellow onion chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Cut ribs apart to fit in cooker, coat with salt set aside.
2. In a bowl mix sauce ingredients together, put some of the sauce on the bottom of the crock pot, layer the ribs and the sauce into the crock pot make sure to pour some sauce on top of the ribs before putting on the lid and turning to high to cook for 6-7 hours.
3. Towards the end I took the lid off to try and cook off some of the sauce, and I must say the tips and pieces that were above the sauce and got more of a "burnt" look to them were the best parts in my opinion!

** Served with regular ol' baked beans and corn on the cob.

It was a success and if my husband requests ribs again this is the way I will cook them, no more messin' with the oven and then the BBQ and what not. Slow cooker is the only way for me, and if people think that is lazy well I just don't really care, ribs are hard for me and this was foolproof.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Slightly Spicy Sloppy Joes

So we ran out of propane last night so my original idea for tonight's dinner didn't pan out. Instead we had Sloppy Joes, local corn from one of my favorite farm stands that is unfortunately on it's way out- it needs to be eaten, and homemade coleslaw -cabbage from CSA bag.

Hold on, pregnant pause as the say, so that I can watch Anthony's show on Rome real quick.

Ok I am back.

I made up the cole slaw tonight so I thought I would share that recipe as well as the sloppy joes.
Sweet Mustard Cole Slaw
1/2 big head of cabbage
1/3 cup Mayo
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1. Shred the cabbage, mix rest of ingredients in a separate bowl and then toss all together. I didn't have any nectarines but these have become my favorite thing to add to coleslaw, give it a try and tell me what you think.

Slightly Spicy Sloppy Joes
1 lb hamburger meat
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 can Original Rotel's tomatoes with chilies
1/2 cup of ketchup, or more depending on your tastes
2 tbsp yellow mustard
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
4 hamburger buns

1. Saute meat, onions and peppers together. When meat is brown drain excess fat.
2. Add canned tomatoes, ketchup, and mustard let cook until thickened a bit.
3. Toast hamburger buns, top buns with meat mixture sprinkle with cheddar cheese to melt and top with green onions before finishing with the other bun.

** Now I find sloppy joes to be, well sloppy, so I usually have mine open faced and eat it with a fork (as seen in pic above) my husband however eats it as a true sandwich. To make it kid friendly, my two year old still has a hard time with "sandwiches" so I just gave her a bit of the meat with some cheese on top sans bun. By adding peppers and tomatoes into the mixture I don't feel too bad about giving it to her, and it wasn't too spicy (believe me I am a wuss, and my daughter never mentioned a word about it being, "Spicy momma!" So for those of you that like more spice get the hotter brand of tomatoes,or add red pepper flakes or saracha to make it to your taste buds but for my family it was just right!)

Added bonus, you have more than enough left over for lunch the next day. This is my husbands meal for tomorrow. Yet another reason why I am so passionate about cooking and eating at home it makes leftovers for lunch the next day so great and EASY! I love easy lunch boxes but all of mine are dirty, husband doesn't always bring them back, and this little box was found for $2.99 at Target in their summer section (I have seen them there the last two years be on the look out they are great!)

Slight nod to Relish, my favorite meal planning site for giving me some direction with this meal.

Linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays At the Table, and Tasty Tuesday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grilled Asian Chicken Part Deux

Click here for the original post and marinade recipe.

This is a meal that is one of my husbands favorite, white rice, grilled veggies, and Asian marinaded chicken. I think if my daughter wasn't a little distracted with Dora's birthday show I would have had more of her attention but as it was she ate a few grilled squash and onion and half a chicken breast and some rice which is pretty good. Again this marinade is quick (this one went for about 15 minutes) and it lends itself to great grill marks.

The chicken breasts, I have mentioned before, lately are HUGE! I have just automatically taken to butterflying the breasts (so I start out with two HUGE breasts and end up with Four) which is usually enough for us to have left overs for lunch the following day. How do you portion your chicken? And apart from our or rather "my" little freak out in the kitchen with raw chicken and uncomprehending two year olds, Molly helped me assemble the ingredients and was with me during the preparation.

Turned out great again, I used more orange juice this time and sesame oil it is a very unforgiving marinade. And I just searched through my fridge for whatever veggies I had that would be great on the grill. With our CSA bag we have had a lot of sweet onions and summer squash this summer. And thankfully our propane tank held out to cook the meal, have to get a new tank tomorrow with this heat there is no way I am cooking inside!

This was our dinner on Friday (Saturday was our anniversary and while we didn't have our big anniversary dinner, that is on Tuesday, I didn't want to cook so we went out to Noodles & Co. which is always great). I love burgers on the grill, and again I have a huge amount of green beans from our CSA so they are a constant lately. As are the potatoes, which just keep getting better the more we use our grill pan. If you have one of these, yes you can use it in your house on your stove top but have you thought about taking it out to your grill?

Linked to Mingle Monday (I am a featured blog this week on this one!),  Meet Me Mondays, Making Friends Monday,

And just for fun I am popping in a pic of my Molly from yesterday, or Friday (can't remember which one) when we were trying to beat the heat, swimming pool and water table does the trick!

Menu Plan Monday #8

Monday: Burrito Bowls with chips & cheese
Tuesday: Anniversary dinner! I am so excited! Dinner for the babysitter and Molly Chicken Fingers with Apricot BBQ sauce, Snap Peas and Carrot Sautee
Wednesday: Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs with baked beans
Thursday: Traveling on the road, no cooking!
Friday: Appetizers and Cocktails Potluck with the family. I will be serving 7 & 7's, Creamy Garlic Salsa Dip  & chips
Saturday: Family Potluck, BBQ pulled pork sliders (in the slow cooker)
Sunday: Grilled Brats with Pineapple Salsa & Sweet Potato Fries

Linked to Menu Plan Monday, click here for other ideas.

Friday, August 13, 2010

25 Random Things; for my new blog hop peeps to get to know me!

1. Maybe two times in a school year will I ever wish not to go to work. I love what I do! (8th Grade Honors LA Teacher)

2. I pick out a new Bath and Body works scent everyday depending on my mood, I have about seven to choose from at any one time and it makes the day a little more interesting for me.

3. I HATE doing dishes, I hate the squeaky clean feeling from moist dishes coming out of the dishwasher, it gives me Goosebumps every time.

4. I am stoked to have my daughter try new foods, I never know what she will eat and what she won't I don't make her something special she eats what we eat, and I get so proud when I see her try new things or LOVE her veggies.

5. I took Shakespeare classes in college as an elective. My thoughts were; I loved Shakespeare but have a hard time reading it on my own, so by taking the class (not once, not twice, but three separate times) I can say that I have read most, if not all, of his works.

6. Most of the time when my daughter starts crying and I know that it isn’t anything life threatening (she is fed, clean diaper etc.) she is just being cranky, I laugh. It is so funny to me that she pouts, and she is so cute! Instead of making me upset it just makes me laugh, don’t really know if that is a good or a bad thing.

7. I LOVE accents. In high school I would annoy my friends sometimes for days by speaking in an English accent non-stop. Since then however my voice has taken on a weird North Dakota/Minnesota accent which I am not sure where it came from because I have never lived anywhere but Oregon. “Doncha know!”

8. I hate it when people find out that I am an only child and then automatically say that I was spoiled. I could have been spoiled but I wasn’t, in fact sometimes my parents went to extremes to make sure that others knew that I wasn’t a “spoiled only child.”

9. I also hate it when people find out that Molly will probably also be an only child and they again automatically assume that she will be spoiled as well. ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT MOLLY HAS IS A HAND-ME-DOWN OR USED (INCLUDING HER TOYS AND NURSERY ITEMS! For those of you that have seen the pictures I have posted, think of all that you can do with recycling people!) Plus I am a teacher, and Brian owns a small business despite what people might think we just don't have a lot of money to spare. Plus why would you say no if someone is willing to pass down items?

10. I used to say that if I won the lottery I would still work so that I wouldn’t be bored, I have since changed my mind. If I won the lottery I would buy some land near here and build a completely green sustainable house, and spend my free time gardening and raising my own animals a la Animal, Vegetable, Mineral style. I mean we are talking off the grid; sun, wind, and water energy (because the land would have to have a creek of some sort) and some sort of waste management system for our toilets.

11. I love my 20+ year old Volvo station wagon, Stella; she is my dream car and the embodiment of me in car form.

12. I have a very good memory for song lyrics, movie lines, and pop trivia. I wish that memory would have translated to my memory of subjects in school.

13. I am a horrible test taker.

14. I am a voracious reader, I read for probably an hour every night, and unfortunately I am a bit addicted to romance novels (I wish I could be more studious and admit to only reading the classics and books from Oprah’s book club, but alas it is not so, give me smut any day!)

15. I am never sick, my immune system is spectacular. When I was a student, as supposed to a teacher, I would always get a little sick on the first day of my vacations. Spring break sick, first week of summer sick, etc… it was as if my body knew it was ok to shut down and get over it.

16. Since having Molly I got a house keeper. It makes me feel a little guilty, until I come home on a cleaning day and I revel in the cleanliness!

17. I love to cook, except when it is really hot out.

18. My mom is one of my best friends, my husband is the other one.

19. I avoid Holocaust movies because they make me too emotional. Once in high school I went to Life is Beautiful without knowing it was a Holocaust movie. Once I realized where the movie was headed I got very nervous and cried a lot in front of the two guy friends my friend and I dragged along with us. And having to teach this subject to my 8th graders never gets easier, in fact it hits harder now that I am a parent.

20. I love my huge extended family. The camp outs we take are hugely important to me, and have been all my life. Every year I can’t wait for camping season to start, and now more than ever I am looking forward to it so that Molly can play with all her second and third removed (is that how you say that?) cousins.

21. Since my husband’s cat, Coal Kitty, I hate all cats, and will never own one again.

22. I LOVE IKEA. It is my Mecca.

23. I think my husband is incredibly smart and talented, if not a bit nerdy (which in my book is a plus).

24. I find LARP’ers incredibly funny and yet strangely embarrassing all at the same time.

25. I can watch a movie and read a book over and over again and never get bored, and strangely enough cry at the same parts every time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Few days, no post (back at the grind)

So over the last few days I had my wonderful parents invade my home to help watch Molly while I went back to work for a few days. While the work, and the people, were very stimulating and really got my juices flowing for going back to school my house/family/and cooking has fallen to the wayside. On Tuesday we went out to dinner at a great Thai Restaurant in town; mom and dad both had Yellow Curry, Brian of course had Masuman Curry, and I had Lemon Grass Chicken that I shared with Miss Molly. It was fantastic and lead to plenty of leftovers, well mine was fantastic the rest of the group said their curries were a little bland, but the appetizers were good. Anyway, on Wednesday we had another Zoo concert Leroy Bell and his band My Only Friends played. They were great, but my daughter's -who only had about a 20 minute nap- left much to be desired and I didn't feel like I really got to enjoy the music. Guess I will just have to settle for buying his CD's and listening to them in the car, in the kitchen, and in my classroom while I set everything up! My dad refused to let us pay for the Thai dinner asking instead that I make another crumble. At the time I was out of blackberries but I did have a pint of fresh blueberries from our CSA bag, and four nectarines. So I used the exact same recipe as before just instead of blackberries it was a combination of the two other fruits. I have found that I really enjoy nectarines, in any way they come in. LOVE THE FLAVOR! Click here for previous post which includes recipe. Just switch the berries!
The berries!

The crumble before and after baking.

Finished product, we ate it warm before the juice could really set, but I think this combination of berries might have needed a bit more flour than the blackberries. The previous crumble was perfectly set, this one was a bit watery.

The Monday night before my parents got here we had grilled flank steak with tossed salad, steamed green beans (done on the grill, click here for how I did it.) and garlic and olive oil noodles. Brian didn't care for this salad, it was tossed simply with olive oil, vinegar, and celery salt. I thought it was great with pieces of meat but Brian wasn't into it.  Anywho, aside from the second crumble, and the food packed for the picnic this was the last thing I cooked in the last few days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday #7

Monday: Grilled Mushroom Skewers over cous cous (this was supposed to happen last week and it got pushed back)
Tuesday: Thai Food (dinner out to celebrate Mom's birthday...not my birthday but Nana's it was two weeks ago but this is the first time we have gotten to get together)
Wednesday: ZOO CONCERT! Sandwiches, veggies and dip, ??? (My parents are here watching Molly for two days because I get to go back to work - planning with the AP vertical team, I am such a nerd and love my job to the point that I am totally jazzed about this! So I will gone all day, which makes packing for a picnic dinner more difficult. I will figure it out later and re-post)
Thursday: Burgers, bistro fries, salad
Friday: Fajita Chicken Salad

For other menu ideas click here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blackberry Almond Crumble

On Friday in the morning before it got too hot I made a blackberry almond crumble. I roughly followed this recipe in the food network magazine, but I used oats instead of cornmeal and blackberries instead of blueberries. It turned out delicious!
Blackberry Almond Crumble
4 cups Blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
7 tbsp softened butter
2 tbsp cold butter (for top of crumble)

1. Preheat oven 375, grease your pan.
2. Load 4 cups berries into your pan. Sprinkle sugar over top of berries, and tablespoon of flour.
3. In a separate bowl mix the crumble ingredients together with your fingers until the butter is incorporated nicely.
4. Evenly spread the crumble over the top of the berries.
5. Dot the top of the crumble with 2 tbsp of butter divided. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden and bubbling.

For the magazine recipe click here. Also linked to Making Friends Monday, Meet Me Monday, Mingle Mondays, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Zucchini Bread, Pulled Pork Leftover Magic, and "Coopins"

Molly helping me cook in the kitchen, believe
it or not this is her "smile face." Cracks me up every
So I am starting to get a lot of zucchini lying around the house so I decided to make a zucchini bread for the first time this season. As you may or may not know we don't have AC in this house so I find very creative ways to cook (as much outside as possible, or by using the microwave, toaster oven or this year the BREAD MAKER!) It turned out fantastic, and I see a lot of zucchini bread in our future. The only problem is I am not a huge fan. Walnuts make my mouth swell up, and I am not a fan of the spices in the bread, reminds me of pumpkin pie -which I am also not a fan of. This is why earlier in the summer I was thinking of calling all of my zucchini attempts my "Zucchini Adventure!" (read that in your mind with one of those superhero announcer voices, that's how it sounds in my head when I say it) Anyway I digress, my husband loves the bread, so he is just destined to it all. I keep trying to give my daughter pieces of it and she very politely says, "No thank you." Or, "I don't like it daddy." Which is what she told my husband last night when he tried to slip her a slice. She is very polite for a two year old I think.
Zucchini Bread
1 cup of walnuts
2 tbsp flour
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/3 cup veggie oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups zucchini (drain/squeeze excess moisture out with cheesecloth or dish towel)
2 cups flour
1. In a small bowl combine walnuts with 2 tbsp flour, in another small bowl lightly beat eggs.
2. Spray bread pan, place ingredients into the pan in the following order; eggs, oil, flour, baking powder and soda, sugar, cinamon, clove, salt, zucchini, and walnuts with all flour that remains in the bowl.
3. Choose quick bread setting on breadmaker, when finished loosen with a spatula after it has cooled somewhat then carefully remove from the pan.

So I made pulled pork in the slow cooker (another way to save my house from the heat, because although it does put out some heat, it is nothing compared to heating up the oven). When I make this recipe I usually use a 3 lb roast and have a TON of meat left over. Usually the second night you will always find that we have BBQ pizza.
BBQ Pulled Pork PizzaZXZ
Bread maker Pizza dough (can make two cracker thin large crusts, or one large thick crust)
1/4 cup favorite BBQ Sauce
1/4 white onion thinly sliced
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
Pinch of Italian seasoning over the top.

1. Prebake the pizza dough before you put any ingredients on it at 350 for 6 minutes or more, so that you can ensure a crispy crust.
2. Spread BBQ sauce (we even like it on the crust even if you don't put the other toppings on it, the sauce on the crust is always good) layer all the rest of the ingredients evenly, sprinkle with seasoning and I guarantee it will look like any BBQ pizza you might order at a restaurant or buy in a store.
3. Back in the oven for 15 min or more until all cheese is melted, and crust is to your liking.

Even after the pizza I still had left over meat, it is like the meal that keeps on giving! So I pulled out some Rhodes dinner rolls and popped those into a muffin tin to allow them to thaw and rise.  Once they were ready to go I rolled them out on my counter, plopped in some of the pork, folded them over a la empanada style, crimped with a fork, popped into the oven, 350 at 20 minutes until golden brown. You can eat these right away, but I prefer to freeze them and eat as needed, for a snack, lunch, whatever. I pull them out of the freezer pop them straight into the toaster oven with a little cheddar cheese on top for five minutes. The cheese is melted, the pocket is thawed, cooked through with a crispy outer crust. They are simply fantastic! You have to try them. For those of you, like me, that are on a crazy kick to make/pack better lunches for your kids after watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution these would be a GREAT addition to a lunch.
Homemade "Hot Pockets"
1 1/2 cup BBQ pulled pork
12 Rhodes dinner rolls (or biscuits in a can, or pizza dough from previous recipe or your local store)
Rolling pin
1. roll out rolls to about 4 inch diameter circle
2. Fill with pork
3. Fold over, crimp with fork to seal
4. 350 degrees for 20 minutes, serve and eat or pop in the freezer for a go to snack, lunch or meal.

So last night I went to a coupon class, I like to say "coopins" in my head like I am from Northern Minnesota, just a little something I do -can't be explained. The woman that ran the class was super informative, and very funny. If you live in the Pacific Northwest she is a great resource if you want to start, or are into "coopins" (say it with me!) Click here for her site Frugal Living NW Anywho, I am wondering at this point how far down the rabbit hole I want to go. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gooey Chocolate Mug Cake

So I saw this post on my feed on both my dashboard and on Facebook, and I immediately was intrigued. I then shared it on my wall and asked if any of my friends were with me on trying it tonight. I mean come on it has literally three ingredients, all of which are pretty much home staples. I got a pretty big response, but wouldn't  you know it I had a bowl of ice cream and then only remembered mid way through that I was supposed to try this gooey chocolate mug cake thing. The next day one of my relatives by marriage in England asked how it went, she was convinced we were all going to have major heartburn so she had an invested interest to see how it all turned out. This of course made me feel bad that I didn't follow through, so I thought, why not. It was the middle of the day I hadn't had any lunch yet, I was pseudo-hungry and instead of a blistering hot summer day it was overcast and cloudy. A warm mug of chocolate cake sounded pretty darn good. The original recipe was on babble, and it called for:
Gooey Chocolate Mug Cake
1 egg
1/4 cup confectioner sugar
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 standard coffee mug
1. Mix together in mug, pop in the microwave for 50-60 seconds and then top with chocolate chips, whipped cream, ice cream (whatever tickles your fancy).

Now, I love chocolate so I did two tablespoons of cocoa powder. And I have an easy 30 second button on my microwave so I hit it twice and voila, it was cooked. I mention these two steps because these were the downfall, to what was almost but not quite the best thing EVER! It reminds me of those warm delights that came out a few years ago, same kind of consistency but obviously not processed and loaded with preservatives. So I am thinking to make this the best thing ever, 1 tbsp cocoa -it was too rich. 45-50 seconds in the microwave - mine wasn't gooey at all, it was surprisingly spongey cake like even though it had no flour. Chocolate chips at the end is a must -they melt and add to the gooey. Maybe even caramel sauce - this would make it even more like those warm delights treats. And you definitely need cool whip/redi-whip or something of that ilk. I mean I am assuming this is a spur of the moment kind of thing and not everyone has whipping cream in their fridge at all times to whip up some homemade whipping cream. If by chance you are an amazing person and literally make things like that on the fly all the time, all the better. I will be sure to try this again, to see if my musings are correct on how to make this better, for me. Until then, have you tried it? What is your take?

**For the original story click here.
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