28 December 2010

FHE - I am a child of God

For our Christmas exchange this year in my family (my brothers and sisters), we decided to do the theme of "Family Home Evening in a box." We got our FHE plan from my brother Eric, and it was from the "I am a child of God" lesson in the Nursery manual.

We sang the entire song of I am a child of God, (it's one of the favorite bedtime songs around here).
We read, and the girls repeated, Psalms 82:6.
We talked about Moses learning from Heavenly Father that he is a child of God - Moses 1:4. I used the picture of Moses and the burning bush in the Gospel Art book.
We went around the room saying that each person is a child of God.
We did the activity verse in the manual.

For the activity, there were coffee filters included in our package that we folded up and cut into paper snowflakes, because everyone is different and Heavenly Father loves us that way. Adam and I had to do all the cutting because even with it being thin paper, it was still too hard for the girls to cut through all the layers. But that was okay. Once we unfolded the first couple of snowflakes for the girls to see what we were doing, they got all excited and were perpetually hovering, saying, "Cut another one!" Then we taped them up on our back door windows.

a series for this blog - Family Home Evening

In my mind, part of making a house into a home - a place you want to be - is more than aesthetic. It's not just how the place looks. It's how it feels. Part of being a Domestic Goddess to create the atmosphere that you want. One of the best ways that I've found to create peace in a home is to spend time together as a family, and have Family Home Evening consistently (FHE).

One of our family goals for 2011 is to do better with FHE - we've just been singing a couple of songs, reading a story from the Friend magazine, and calling it good. Five minutes does not constitute Family Home Evening. I'm planning to put together lessons/activities from the Sharing Time outline for the year which is online here, and the Faith in God materials which are also online but not pulling up for me right now. I'll post our lessons and activities on Tuesdays after we do them, and of course everyone else is welcome to share their ideas as well. Please do! I need all the help I can get! My stuff will be pretty simple - my kids are 4, 3, and 8 months.

If you are not Mormon: Family Home Evening is an official program of the LDS Church started in the 1960s. Monday is designated as family night - no church activities at any level are allowed to be scheduled that day and even the temples are closed. I realize that some of the doctrines are not the same, but as fellow Christians, I hope that you can get something out of the descriptions of lessons and activities that you can use in your own home to create spiritual peace and harmony among your family.

27 December 2010

the 12 months of Christmas

Yes, you read that right. My friend Amy (who has been added to the contributors on this blog - hello, Amy!) and I are going to make something for Christmas every month in 2011! It's going to be fun!

Our first draft list, in no particular order, includes:

felt hand puppets of the Nativity
a tree skirt
Christmas/winter playdresses for our girls
Advent calendars
handmade Christmas cards
dining room table stuff - runner, napkin rings, placemats, etc.
Nativity blocks
a felt garland of some sort of Christmas motif - lights, holly leaves, whatever
plan and compile materials for a whole month of crafting with kids (I was unsuccessful at doing this impromptu)

Okay, that's 9. Any more ideas? I suppose we should stop the list at 11 - January through November - and spend next December NOT working on the projects so we can enjoy the fun of doing crafts with our kiddos and baking! Mmmm ... baking ... I did not do nearly enough to appease myself this year. (Durned teething in my poor baby's mouth.)

No, we haven't decided what we're doing for January yet - I'll post it when we do. Anyone care to join us?

26 December 2010

Christmas crafts

We've been having a holly jolly Christmas with making some cute holiday crafts between watching Disney Christmas cartoons over and over and over, and eating Clementine oranges nonstop. We've made:

- a Nativity from coloring pages found HERE and cardboard rolls. We used the middle of wrapping paper rolls. You could also use the cardboard from paper towels or toilet paper.


- wrapping paper for presents going to cousins. We used packing paper that we still have stashed from our move almost 2 years ago (yes, we had THAT MUCH paper). I used cookie cutters as stencils and drew the shapes with markers, and the girls colored them and used foam Christmas stickers that I got at the dollar store.



- jingle bell bracelets described HERE with little bells and pipe cleaners. When the girls were done playing with them, I hung them on the tree. They make cute little ornaments.


- paper cone Christmas trees made from construction paper and decorated with markers and the foam Christmas stickers. I got the idea from a book, but HERE is a template and directions to make pretty much the same thing. The difference from the book is that our half-circles were folded into pie-shaped fourths and folded into a three-sided tree (with the fourth side being a full overlap for gluing together) rather than being round. My girls decided they were party hats rather than trees.

our Christmas dinner

Friends, this dinner was noteworthy. Nirvana on a plate. Adam's a good cook but seriously. When it comes to Mediterranean food, something just really comes together for us.

We skipped the typical turkey and mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner, and went with a Lebanese theme.

We had roast using this meat rub that we used on lamb at Easter. We were told by a friend that we could use roast if lamb is too expensive - and it was this time - and it worked spectacularly. Adam cooked it in the crockpot and it was very juicy and fell apart when cut into. The smell in our kitchen was amazing.

Adam made pita bread using this recipe - it didn't work out so well as the first time. The rolls were not hollow. So we tore out the middle and used the bread chunks in our dips, and voila! The shell is a regular pita pocket! For our pita appetizers, we had tomato, cucumber, green olives, black olives, strips of bell pepper, goat cheese, hummus, and an eggplant dip called baba gannouj. If you are a fan of hummus, may I suggest a replacement. Baba gannouj is absolutely delicious, not to mention hilarious to say. 8000 times. Baba gah-NOOSH! It was, by far, one of the most casual and relaxed and FUN meals we have had in a long time.

We also had, but hardly worth mentioning after all that, asparagus with lemon and rice.

And then dessert. Please join me in singing the Hallelujah Chorus. We have a new Christmas dessert at our house: Buche de Noel. It's a French cake shaped to be like a yule log - it's a flat, flourless cake with mousse rolled in the middle and covering it over the top, and it's all chocolate.

the most amazing dessert EVER!

09 December 2010

Paint



As long as Trina is painting I'll tell you about my latest painting adventures:

Although we have three kids I have never set up a "nursery" we lived in such dives or were so broke that it was just never an option.

Finally - now that my oldest is 6 I have walls that I can paint (turns out paint is pretty cheap - I never knew that!):










Turns out Dr. Seuss is amazing easy to paint! He used very simple shapes and designs, no shading, vivid colors... perfect for those of us with no artistic skill!

All you have to do is beg or borrow a projector, put the image you want on the computer - hook up the projector - trace it on with a pencil, then color in the lines.



Even I can color in the lines :)

I am particularly proud of it because it isn't gender or age specific. Right now we have a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old boy in the room. In a few months we will put the two boys in there (3 and 1).

Who knows how long we will live here but Seuss would work until they boys are 8 or 9ish - at which point I (or whoever lives here next) could just paint out the fish and put surf boards over the water :)

I realize that painting walls is not an option for everyone - but my next project is to put a few characters from the same book on their dresser, same process - project, trace, color in the lines!

I actually just used craft store paint for the fish - you know those tiny little bottles you get for buck twenty? so cheap - and pretty cute if I say so myself :)



sneak peak

Nobody has posted here for quite awhile, so I thought I'd give a little preview of what we've been working on for almost 2 months now - Adam is building a bunkbed for our kiddos. Our friend Aaron helped a lot. They started with raw lumber that was sanded and sanded and sanded. They went over Adam's design about 10 times and altered it here and there to make sure everything would work right. They cut the boards to the measurements and fit it all together and drilled the holes for the bolts.

It's now sitting on our patio in pieces while I take my turn with it - we went back and forth about staining it, and the final decision is that I'm painting it. Pink. Because my girls are 4 and 3, and they want a pink princess bed. Adam isn't very happy about it, but it's not his bed. He can get over it. I'm planning to get stencils to put a design on the sides, and I have little containers of paint in pastel shades of yellow, purple, blue, etc. I'm thinking flowers and hearts, and maybe little crowns. If I can't find a stencil like that to buy, I may try to make one because I definitely need a stencil. I'm not good at freehand art and I'm not going to use this as my first attempt at it.

It's taking awhile to do the paint because it's pretty cold out this week. Next week is supposed to warm up into the 60s, which is PERFECT painting weather. And we don't have anything scheduled during the day (unlike this week) so I should be able to get the pink done and do the stenciling.

10 November 2010

cupcake crafts

At Trina's request I am sharing my secret.

I love cupcakes. They're cute and delicious and individual-sized fun. As I surfed the net for some Christmas craft ideas I came across a few cupcake ornaments. Some I liked, some I didn't, but I ended up coming up with my very own. Behold: cuteness in a cup(cake wrapper).


The best part is they are SUPER EASY to make! All you need is: mini cupcake wrappers (Michael's), styrofoam balls (dollar store), and I had everything else on hand - scissors, seed beads, hot glue, tiny metal rings (left over from jewelry making), and ribbon.

- Use the scissors to hack up half of the ball so it isn't smooth anymore. Experiment with it a bit until you get a texture you like.
- Hot glue into a mini cupcake wrapper. A bit on the bottom and then all the way around. I was worried that my balls were too small, but once I started gluing they were exactly perfect.
- Use more hot glue to add beads, ribbons, and any other decorations. Glue on the metal ring to loop some ribbon through to hang, or just glue the ribbon right on top. Tada!

I'll probably be doing some more experimenting with these during the week - I'm curious what paint will do on the styrofoam, and I want to wander the dollar store and find other things to put on top - little berries or bells or bows. Super cute to put on the tree, attach to presents, and give away to friends while caroling! A sweet Christmas treat that won't go to your waistline.


(The Polly Pockets on the far right were our wedding (cup)cake toppers. Since we got married right after Christmas this was the perfect way to display them!)

11 October 2010

Homemade gifts - robes, skirts, dresses, & belts

I posted this on my blog, but figured it would fit into this blog too :) FYI - if you don't know how to make a pillowcase dress, there are TONS of directions and videos on youtube!

I was at Target early this week and saw some pillowcases and towels on clearance. That got the wheels turning in my head and I thought of all these different projects I could do with them for Christmas. If you know me, I cannot sew AT ALL - a straight line is about all I can accomplish. So these were all easy projects - none taking over an hour (which with a 2.5 month old, is important!!). I took me about 4 days to complete all of them....

I made them for Christmas - mostly for Sabrina (my 7 year old daughter)... She has been wanting dresses/skirts - so these came out cute and cheap! She is always wanting me to make her stuff, but unfortunately she was blessed with a mom severely lacking in sewing skills :P These should make her pretty happy and now I have a bunch of stuff ready for Christmas already :)

My FAVORITE thing I made is at the bottom, so make sure to check them out. I was REALLY impressed with myself for making them and coming up with it. I had no pattern, and couldn't find anything on the Internet that matched what I was wanting to make - so I winged it... and they turned out better than I hoped!! I also made 4 hair ties and a headband out of the leftover fabrics :) (didn't take pictures of them)


So these are the pillowcase dresses I made. The pillowcases at Target were REALLY nice (400+ tread count - really soft and silky). For 2 King size purple ones, it was $4.50, and 2 Queen size pink ones were $3.50. I went and bought some pretty sheer/pearl fabric to put over the pillowcases, to try and make it a bit fancier. I thought the fabric I chose was on sale for $2.99, but apparently I picked one that was $8.99! Yikes - I didn't notice until checking out... Luckily, the ladies at JoAnn's gave me a 50% off coupon making it $4.50 - so I decided not to return it...

So total cost for each one: $7.25
Purple one - $2.25 for pillowcase, $4.50 for the outer fabric, and $.50 for elastic at the top. Since this was a King size pillowcase and longer than I needed, I used the extra fabric for the ties and belt.. If I had gotten the right, on sale fabric, the total would have only been $5.75 :P
Pink one - $1.75 for pillowcase, $4.50 for outer fabric, $.50 for elastic, and $.50 for fabric for straps/belt.
There was also enough of the outer fabric for an extra belt (in pink one picture) for either dress

Now I just need to buy her a new pink and a white shirt to wear under them

This is what I did with the other pillowcases (there were 2 in each set). I cut them in half and made skirts. Sabrina has been eying these skirts at Target that have a bunch of tulle on them - they are about $12 :P So these are what I came up with. One pink and one purple have 1 layer of tulle each and the other pink and purple each have 3 layers of tulle.

The purple ones came out to less than $6 for 2 ($3 each!) - $2.25 for the pillowcase, $2.38 for 2yds of tulle, $.50 for elastic, and $.79 for the belting to tie the waist

The pink ones were about $5.50 for the 2 - the same break down as the purple, only the pillowcases were only $1.75..

I think I am going to buy her some black leggings to wear under the pink ones...

Belts - Sabrina has been asking for belts.. Why? I have no idea, but they are like $8-10 in the store, so I have yet to get her any. So when I was buying the stuff for the dresses/skirts, I found belting - I didn't even know they sold this (I told you NO sewing skills - I have no idea what they sell :P). So I bought some - apparently enough to make 6. and they were super EASY to make and way cheap! I ended up making 2 more, because Jonathan saw I was making them and said he wanted one too - so I went and bought some black belting and made him 2 :)

Cost: $2.05 a piece - belting was $1.99 a yard, I used .75 of a yard for each belt, plus had a 40% off coupon for the belting. The hardware was $2.29 and was enough for 2 belts (so $1.15 each belt).

These are my favorite things I made. The kids have been asking for robes - mainly because Oliver got one as a gift and they think it is pretty cool. At the store they are at least $20, so I refused to get them their own. Well, when I saw the SUPER SOFT and FLUFFY towels on clearance at Target, I thought I could make them some. I could not find a pattern or anything online that matched what I wanted. So I figured it out myself and I am quite excited I was able to do it and they turned out so well!

So each towel was on clearance for $3.50. I bought 3 to complete the project (if you only wanted to make one, use one towel and one hand towel). S0 each robe used 1.5 towels coming to a total of $5.25 per robe (and they are REALLY soft, fluffy, and nice towels!).

Here is how I made them - in case anyone is interested - Super easy, cheap, and a cute gift:

Fold the towel in half and then half again; cut at an angle, thus making a circle in the middle of the towel (for the head)
Unfold the towel and fold it in half lengthwise and cut one side the towel to the hole (making the front opening of the robe)
Fold about a half an inch around the edges you just cut and sew around it (to make a nice edge and help with the fraying)
Take a hand towel (or if like me, cut a hand towel size piece from a bigger towel) and sew it to the head hole you made.
Then sew along the top of the hand towel (on the inside), making it into a hood
On the open sides, mine were about 30 inches long (each side). Make sure you turn inside out. I cut in about 4-5 inches with 10 inches at the top for the sleeves and 20 at the bottom. I sewed the bottom 20 inches together (4-5 inches from the edge), creating the side. I then just sewed the the bottom of the sleeves together to make them into sleeves (make sure to do this on the inside).

And you're done! Turn right side out and you've got a robe. I sewed on pockets because I had extra towel leftover and made belts out of the extra towel.
They are really cute and as you can see really easy! I know my kids are going to be so excited about them!

02 October 2010

another cookbook referral

We received this cookbook - Jacques Pepin's Kitchen: Encore With Claudine - for Christmas from Beth, who apparently found it at a used booksale or something like that. It's set up by menu - a main dish, a couple of sides, and a dessert. We had never heard of this chef but Adam was getting tired of menu planning for the grocery shopping so he decided to work his way through the book.

Success!

There have been a couple of things that we didn't really like - the cold cucumber and mint soup being the one that immediately comes to mind. But other than that, it's been great! We've been introduced to some interesting food combinations - tonight's dinner was zucchini mashed into a mashed potato gratin dish topped with poached cod and a basil sauce. The side was steamed leeks with bread crumbs over them, with garlic and Swiss cheese in the breading. It was really good!

And there's something else - until this week, neither of us had ever had leeks. Or turnips or parsnips. And now we have. Our kids won't go near most of this stuff but we're not pushing them hard on what they eat - they eat tons of fruit, vegetables, and sandwiches and very few treats so they're fine. They don't need to develop an adult palate overnight - some of these dishes have a pretty complex taste.

We're not even halfway through the book yet but like I said, everything (with just a couple of exceptions) has been surprisingly good - even combinations that sound a little weird. So I thought I'd pass on the book referral.

23 September 2010

binge and PURGE

13 years from when I graduated from high school to when I met Adam - the entire decade of my 20s plus a little extra. I cannot believe how many pictures I shot, and printed, and put in albums in those 13 years. I have 14 albums (I think), not including the hundreds of pictures in binder photo sleeves from my mission. I apparently saved Every. Single. Picture. that I took in those 13 years, including ones that are very dark, very distant and you can barely see the faces in them, out of focus ... you name it, it's in there. I'm dumbfounded at the amount of money all of this represents - 6 bucks for a roll of film, $8-12 for developing (depending on if I used 1-hour printing) ... and that was just for 24 shots. I have thousands of pictures.

And now I'm going to throw an awful lot of them in the recycle bin.

I recently found the Small Notebook blog, which I love. And it had these two posts this past week about dealing with a plethora of pictures, both digital and print.

Essential Tool to Organize Your Digital Photos
What to do with Boxes of Photos

And those posts got me brave enough to crack open the boxes that have been sitting under the stairs since my parents were here in May. One album from 1999-2000 was dated for a 9-month span and had over 500 pictures in it. Just that ONE album!!! Having the band Colors come to Oregon was really fun and a key moment in my life because it affected how I thought about myself ... but I don't need 50 pictures of that weekend. Really, I don't. A dozen will be just fine.

Sooooo ... I'm tackling the photo albums. I should take a picture of the pile of albums before I get too far into this project (I've gone through 2 of them), and then another of how many albums I have left when I get done rearranging everything. And a shot (which I will not print and stick in an album) of the pile of pictures that is getting dumped. So far, I'm just stacking them off to the side for the fun of seeing (and counting - about 250 so far) how many I'm getting rid of. Then I let SM attack them with her little scissors to cut me out of some of the shots to practice her cutting.

I'm doing pretty well at keeping the digital photos under control and I rarely print anything anymore (much to Adam's annoyance - the picture he has in his office of RG is when she was 18 months old and she's 3 now). But whoa. These boxes of albums. Crazy.

To be honest, this purging stems in part from this past spring, when I helped clean the house of an elderly couple when the husband died. The children all live out West in Idaho and Utah, and took the wife to live with one of them. Someone came out here and got their personal paperwork like geneology and journals and things like that, and the rest of the house was just left as is. The family asked someone in the ward to clean it out, dispose of everything, and get it ready to sell. I don't know what all happened with it because Jenna was born a couple of weeks later ... but I cleaned out ONE bathroom with FIVE full-size garbage bags. It was ... indescribable. And not in a good way.

So with my albums, I'm thinking - "What are my kids going to want to see when I'm dead? And what do I really truly want to haul all around the country as we move over the next 20-30 years?" And the answer is - Not nearly this much.

And now I will go through another album.

20 September 2010

the dangers of blog-hopping

What started with one little link off a friend's blog ended with hours of blog-hopping and dozens of tabs open with craft ideas. I'm a stay at home wife and not even pregnant yet, but I feel like I'm slacking. Yes, I paint and do artwork, but what about the millions of crafts that moms are supposed to do these days (and then faithfully put them on their picture perfect blog)? There are clothes to be refashioned, furniture to be refinished, and so many ribbons and ruffles to add to everything around the house. I don't own a sewing machine and I've never used (or even seen) Modge Podge. What sort of mother will I be?!

Of course, I did find small manageable projects that I would like to try out like cute little baby hats out of old t-shirts, no sew baby carrier slings, and tutus for my future ballerinas. But then I found the thing that made me think of Trina - I know how you hate boring walls, and the frustration of living in a rental that prevents you from painting. So instead, you can put up fabric wallpaper! (It's even found on one of your home improvement blogs, Trina - Apartment Therapy!) You just use starch and fabric and put it up like wallpaper and it comes right off when you're ready to move (or change your mind) without any damage to the walls!! OR, instead of an entire wall, you can do animals or shapes (or a castle for your princesses?) - since wall clings are all the rage these days. But instead of shelling out for some overpriced, not-exactly-what-you-want piece just make it yourself! Simply use the same method as the wallpaper, only on a much smaller scale, and it won't be nearly as daunting a task. This is something I'd like to try myself at some point, and thought I'd share the love. If any of YOU try it, let us know, and you can give tips and tricks to help us out.

24 August 2010

painting tutorial

Do you get to paint your house? If you own it - duh, of course you can do whatever you want to it. Renting, on the other hand ... I went through my entire lease today to find what the rules are about painting walls and there was nothing. So I called the management office and was told, "Probably not." The girl is checking with the head manager but was doubtful.

SAD! Especially after finding a fantastic advice post on the MADE blog earlier today about painting the inside of your house. (It's not just sewing!) So I'll just refer it to you instead:

Home improvement: everything you need to know about painting walls, vertical stripes, paint tools, and a little crown molding

Isn't her daughter's room FANTASTIC? Not the color scheme I would use - I'm required to have pink in my girls' room. But it looks amazing. Can't wait to see Dana's posts on painting furniture and do-it-yourself artwork ... I'm still staring at my computer armoire trying to figure out what I want to do with it, and the kids' dressers haven't been touched yet either. (Cooler weather, I'm waiting on you to haul this stuff outside!)

One thing about not being allowed to paint means that whatever I do in this house, it has to move with me to the next one. That's not so bad. I have one idea for some artwork on our walls. We figure we're going to move around quite a bit, and I think it would be a good collection to start of nature photos from each state (and DC) we live in. What do you think of these to start?

Washington DC: the White House Rose Garden

Maryland: the botanical garden at Wheaton Regional Park

Mississippi: magnolia at the Vicksburg National Military Park

My dad shot the pictures in DC and MS, and I took the one in MD. I'd like to have them fairly large - an 11x14 at the smallest. You can't get that size printed at Walmart, so I need to find an alternate location. And printing on canvas is EXPENSIVE - 40 to 60 bucks at Walmart, and that's just for a normal-sized print. I saw this post a while back on How Does She that tells how to mount pictures on foam-core board, which you can do of any size photo because you cut it yourself.

family room picture displaying

Yep, I think that will do it.

10 August 2010

Homemade Granola Bars - very yummy!

Have you noticed that recipezaar.com changed it's name!! I miss the old site - but I guess I will get used to the new one eventually. The new site is food.com and once you figure out the new sifter tool it is almost as good as recipezaar was :)

My gripping aside I did find this the other day and they are amazing!

http://www.food.com/recipe/no-bake-rice-krispies-peanut-butter-granola-bars-lower-fat-73754

I rarely have corn syrup around so I used honey instead - they were a little too sweet - but of course my kids love them!

I can't wait to try them with corn syrup - honestly they are just as yummy as kudos bars, super versatile, and sooo cheap to make!

16 July 2010

homemade pita

I know I said I was expanding this blog beyond just recipes, but we've been having so much fun in the kitchen lately! It hasn't been the greatest for my weight loss efforts, but my taste buds have been quite pleased with the results. This one was good for weight loss and it was tasty - Adam made pita bread and we stuffed it full of small beef strips with cucumber slices, black olives, tomato strips, and feta cheese, and drizzled olive oil over the whole thing.


Doesn't that pita look professionally made? It wasn't. The original recipe is here.

1 1/8 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and combine. (We use our food processor.)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll and stretch dough into a 12 inch rope. With a sharp knife, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6 to 7 inch circle. Set aside on a lightly floured countertop. cover with a towel. Let pitas rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffy.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Place 2 or 3 pitas on a wire cake rack. Place cake rack directly on oven rack. Bake pitas 4 to 5 minutes until puffed and tops begin to brown. Remove from oven and immediately place pitas in a sealed brown paper bag or cover them with a damp kitchen towel until soft. Once pitas a softened, either cut in half or split top edge for half or whole pitas. They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for 1 or 2 months.

14 July 2010

lemon summer pasta

My sister remembered us making this recipe a couple of years ago and last night asked me for it again. We both did some digging and it was originally found here.

8 oz cooked pasta
2 c. asparagus
2 c. summer squash and/or zucchini
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs butter
1/2 c. whipping cream
zest of lemon
salt to taste

Sautee veggies and garlic in butter til they reach your preferred tenderness. Remove veggies with slotted spoon, leaving any juices and garlic. Pour in cream and lemon zest. Cook down cream til 1/3 c. (just when it looks thicker). Then combine all ingredients including pasta and enjoy.

When I made this before, I didn't get the proportions of vegetables to cream sauce correct - I wanted more sauce. So pay attention to that when putting it together. Thanks for bringing this up again, Mindy! I really liked it so maybe we'll have it this week too!

05 July 2010

a must-read

I've decided that I'm going to take a little jaunt into the realm of "food lit" - books and memoirs about cooking. I was not impressed at all with the book "Julie and Julia," which I read last summer. There was quite a bit about cooking, but mostly, the writer is just really crass and profane ... even when talking about the cooking, actually. I'm hoping that's an anomaly and I've built up a list of other food lit I want to read.

Our local library (amazingly enough) had "Confections of a Closet Master Baker" by Gesine Bullock-Prado, and I read it this past week in about 3 days. (With 3 small children around, that's moving fast for me.) LOVED it. From the first sentence, I was hooked. "I saw the devil at the age of 3 and he gave me chocolate. It changed my life forever." Awesome.

Long story short - she's Sandra Bullock's sister and worked with her in Hollywood. Got sick of LA and when their mom died of cancer, decided to do what she really loved - bake. So she moved to Vermont and opened a bakery. How cool is that? To just up and leave, and try something new. Anyway, so this book is her memoir about doing that, and it includes a number of fantastic-sounding recipes (minus her obsession with coffee - bleh - but we can get around that.)  Some of them are traditional desserts from Germany that sound oh so tasty! And I really like that she talks about desserts as things to be shared, and something to be special rather than inhaled in mass quantities as we gluttonous Americans tend to do.

I posted about the book on Facebook and talked about it with Adam and a couple of friends. Adam picked it up tonight and started reading it. He wasn't even halfway done when he said that he is not going to scan a couple of the recipes for me to keep - he wants to buy it. Done.

Ms. Bullock-Prado also has a blog, which I've added to the "food lovers unite" links in the sidebar. I'm all over trying to make my own English muffins - recipe on the blog, not in the book. I love them just out of the toaster, a little bit of a butter, and very thin slice of cheese that you just let sit until the heat of the muffin softens it. Then eat. Yum. And homemade English muffins? That has all the makings of a breakfast nirvana.

21 June 2010

dessert pizza

Sugar cookie crust - you can use your own sugar cookie recipe, but here's mine:
3/4 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour

The usual recipe says ungreased cookie sheet, but if you are making one giant cookie, it's best to lightly grease it if you want to take it off the pan before serving. Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Frosting - mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. We only had regular sugar, and it worked just fine. Spread across the cookie when it has completely cooled.

Top with various kinds of fruit. We used strawberries, kiwi, mango and dragonfruit. Cut like serve like a pizza, and enjoy!

18 June 2010

inventory

First of all, April - where's a picture of the headboard? The nightstand looks great!

Mindy - yes, rearranging and organizing your spice rack is a worthy post. Very creative of you to use a cereal box and scrapbook paper! Even more creative than using scrap wood and a power saw, if you ask me.

And speaking of organization, I've been having some related entertainment at this end of the pipeline. When my parents came to Mississippi for Jenna's baby blessing, they brought all of my stuff that had been sitting in their storage room for the past 7 years. (For the first time in 6 years of marriage, all of our stuff is in our own house instead of scattered about the country in various storage rooms.) I thought it was mostly books, and it was ... if you count 4 large boxes of just scrapbooks and photo albums. There were a bunch of knick-knacks like my travel souvenirs (my boomerang from Australia, for example) and a number of things that I'd forgotten about, as well as my collection of picture frames and carousel horses. I need more shelves before I can even unpack a lot of it, so I'm back to boxes stashed in corners. *sigh* I hate having our bedroom as a landfill, but most things have to get stashed there so Summer and Marnie stay out of it.

I also had:

~ a 2-inch binder full of just wedding announcements. That's it. I don't even remember a lot of these people. I'll pull out a few of them, like if I introduced the couple and/or was in the wedding. But the rest are getting dumped.
~3 or 4 t-shirts with signatures all over them. Again, don't remember anyone specific. Those will be painting shirts for Summer and Marnie now, until they're completely thrashed and then they'll get tossed.
~ beat-up ribbons and silk flowers from corsages from ... somebody's weddings. And maybe senior prom? I think? Gone. I have pictures.
~ the little black velvet boxes that Adam's and my wedding rings came in. Really?

What on earth was I thinking with saving some of this stuff? At least I didn't still have a 6-inch stack of newspaper clippings of the 1991-92 Portland Trail Blazers. I did find that in my stash when I got home from my mission. I went through it, remembered games that Eric and I spent screaming at the TV, laughed, and threw it all away.

Moral of the story - I'm still a packrat but I'm definitely learning to purge.

spice shelves

I'd been wanting to do this for a while, and an enrichment activity at church was the final push in the right direction. We have a small cupboard above the stove the holds all our spices. And we have a fair amount of spices. It's always difficult to find what we're looking for up there, so I figured some little shelves were needed. If this were any other crafty blog, I'd be expected to whip out some scrap wood, my power saw, and a few coats of paint. But what I did was fast, easy, free, and only used a pair of scissors, packing tape, and a cereal box. That's worthy of this blog, right?

BEFORE

AFTER

I was planning on doing it slightly different than it appears, but Aaron had to add his two cents and reinforce and all that manly stuff. It's mainly his spices, so I guess that's alright. I also rearranged my living room and reorganized my linen closet/bathroom storage.

17 June 2010

"new" bedroom set

Like the new theme of this blog! Here's a project I did recently and I copied the post I did about it to here.

Most of our tax refund this year was used to get our "new" car and to help us move this summer. It's dang expensive to move to the San Fran Bay area!

Anyway, I've been wanting a bedroom set for a loooonng time and decided to use a little bit of our refund to get one. We've never had a headboard and our nightstands were literally falling apart. So, I started my research and hunt. New furniture was out of the question (I saw a set that I liked for around $900 and that was at the cheap end).

I wanted real wood and not some plywood thing from Target. So, I researched how to refinish furniture and started hunting at Salvation Army, Goodwill and on Craigslist. And I did it!

I found two of these nightstands in great structural shape, but with the finish beat-up and chipping. I sanded off the old varnish, smoothed out the scratches and stained and resealed them.



I also found a headboard that was in pretty good shape and shined it up with some Old English oil. The headboard and nightstands are both this dark cherry stain.


After

Not the best lighting for the after picture, but it's good enough. I was in a hurry to get it set up in our room :) I love dark cherry finish, though I know it's not for everyone :) I feel pretty proud of myself for getting it done while living in an apartment and only having a patio (with no wind protection) to work on.

Cost of project: Nightstands (2) = $30, Headboard =$25, stain=$14, sealer=$12, spray paint for knobs =$4, Other (sandpaper, gloves, brushes, rags, etc) = $25

Total Cost = approx $110 for a "new" bedroom set! We're happy with it and hope it makes it through the move without getting too damaged :)

CHANGES!

Yes, this is the same blog. Just changed. And let's expand it.

Adam and I have been calling my venture into homemaking "Operation Domestic Goddess" since I quit my office job when Summer was born. I was that un-domestic, as a number of you know. I've got the cooking down fairly well now, for the most part. I've been looking into branching out into other things (but haven't yet, to be honest) ... and played around with starting another blog. And then - duh - I'll just expand this one to be more than recipes. I don't need another blog. Posts on this one are sporadic enough as it is, and we've been doing this for 18 months now. Time for a shake-up.

The inspiration to learn to sew - I can't believe I just said that - comes from this blog: Made by Dana. I'll list it with some other links in the sidebar. I don't remember how I came across it, but as soon as I started looking through her posts, I thought, "If I decide to learn to sew, it will be because of this blog." And here I am. I'm just floored by all the stuff on it. I want. Isn't that how it is with everything? I didn't learn to cook until I wanted to eat good food and cared enough to learn to make it myself. And now here I am with sewing - I want these things because I think they look awesome, so I will learn to make them. Beth, aren't you SO PROUD of me?

This morning, a couple of friends were talking about making hairbows for their new baby girls (Jenna was one of three born in April), and I want to learn how to do them. So we decided to do a group gathering for everyone to work on their own projects, help each other, and just keep everyone motivated.

So keep posting recipes, and now let's post about other things you're doing around your house too. 

09 June 2010

Potato Salad

So, I was blog surfing, and came across this contest at RoudyStroudy. Basically, she is calling for all potato salad recipes so that she can make them and try them.

So, here is my recipe!

Potato Salad

8 medium potatoes, boiled peeled and cubed
8 boiled eggs, diced
1 meduim onion, diced
2 regular sized dill pickles, diced
1 c. miracle whip
1/4 c. mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Basically just mix all of these ingredients and you get this:



You can eat is as soon as you are done, or you can wait a day. We always think it is better the next day when we have the leftovers! :)

08 June 2010

Braised Soy-Ginger Chicken and Bok Choy

This recipe is primarily for grilling, but making some variation on the sauce and then marinading the chicken in it, then cooking it in a wok, taking the chicken out, reducing the sauce and so forth, would work well.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine or dry sherry
2 Tbs firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or breast halves
1/2 lb. bok choy, quartered lengthwise
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs Asian sesame oil
Steamed rice for serving
Recipe:

Other leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, kale or spinach, maybe used in place of the bok choy. Chop the leaves coarsely and cook just until tender. The spinach will need to cook for only a few seconds.

Preheat a grill to high heat (I would just modify this to cook on the stove top or broiler)

Set a Dutch oven or deep fry pan on the grill. Combine the water, soy sauce, wine, brown sugar, five-spice powder, ginger and green onions in the pot. bring to a boil, then reduce the grill temperature to medium heat. Submerge the chicken pieces, skin side up, in the liquid and simmer gentle for 8 minutes. Turn the pieces over and continue to simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, about 8 minutes more.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil. bring the braising liquid to a boil, add the bok choy and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the bok choy to the platter.

Return the braising liquid to a boil and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and sesame oil. Move the pot to the side of the grill. Place the chicken on the grill, brush with braising liquid and grill for about 2 minutes per side. Arrange the chicken on top of the bok choy on the platter. Pour any remaining braising liquid over the chicken and bok choy and serve with steamed rice.

Serves 4

06 June 2010

Caesar Salad Dressing

My husband ate his very first salad EVER this year with this dressing. It's yummy!

1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 C olive oil

Put everything except Parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until homogenous. Add olive oil a little at a time, continuing to blend. Add the cheese, then blend just enough to mix it in. If the dressing is too thick, blend in a little warm water to achieve the desired consistency. Serve over Romaine lettuce, croutons, and fresh grated Parmesan [the best part of the whole deal!].

This dressing will keep for a week sealed in the refrigerator. Makes about 6 servings.

24 May 2010

taco salad

I don't know how other people do it, but I'd never had taco salad like this. It was easy, make a LOT, and is good for leftovers. If you've got a crowd to feed, this is a great thing. Too bad Aaron decided to make all that for just two of us. Lots of lunches already made now though!

  • Head of lettuce
  • Pound of ground beef
  • Taco seasoning
  • 6 tomatoes
  • Catalina dressing
  • Chips
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas

Brown the meat and add any sort of spices you want. We did most of a packet of taco seasoning and some chipotle peppers. Chop up the entire head of lettuce and tomatoes and put in a large bowl. Crush handfuls of chips for some crunch, and add the ground beef. Add plenty of catalina dressing to moisten everything without drenching it. Either mix in the cheese or let people add it themselves. Best served in homemade taco bowls with a few extra crushed chips on top.

Taco bowls are the easiest thing to make! Just push a tortilla gently into an oven proof bowl and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350-400 degrees. Be sure to watch it so it doesn't burn, but that's all there is to it. We had whole wheat tortillas, and they turned out delicious!

22 May 2010

green bean salad

Not a Utah green bean salad with French onions or corn flakes, or however it's made out there! This is from a Lebanese cookbook that we got at the library called "The Lebanese Kitchen" by Monique Bassila Zaarour.

Steam green beans until tender, and then toss with this dressing:

2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
4 tbl lemon juice
5 tbl olive oil

For some reason, I'm thinking Adam used lime instead of lemon one time when he made this last week. (We've had it twice.) So there's a possible variation for you.

Also, we think they taste much better the second day - they taste fine when they're freshly made, but the taste mellows quite a bit when they've sat for 24 hours and you have the leftovers for a second dinner the next day.

Greek green salad

This is called maroulosalata, which means ... I have no idea. It's from the island of Cos, and we found this in a book called "Real Greek Food." Apparently, there's a restaurant somewhere called Real Greek, and this book has their recipes.

salad:
lettuce shredded very fine - we used Romaine
scallions finely chopped, including the green parts
dillweed

dressing:
150 ml extra virgin olive oil (I have no idea what that measures to - Adam made the dressing and I'm just typing it out of the book)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
pepper and sea salt

Seems really basic and maybe even a little weird. But I liked it!

16 May 2010

homemade chocolate pudding

This was the trigger for me wanting pudding:


Adam found it online somewhere and posted it on his Facebook page. Now he keeps saying, "Pudding, you say?" So I told him I wanted some. So he made some. From scratch. It seriously has the same consistency as from a box, and tastes better. Yay!

Homemade chocolate pudding

1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in margarine and vanilla. Let cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

focaccia bread

We normally buy this bread but won't anymore ... we decided on Italian for dinner tonight after Adam had already been to the grocery store and he wasn't going to go back. So he found the recipe to bake the bread - totally easy, really good, and why pay 4 bucks for a small loaf of this when it's cheaper to make it?

focaccia bread

* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
* 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
5. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly. Pat or roll the dough into a sheet and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt.
6. Bake focaccia in preheated oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness. If you like it moist and fluffy, then you'll have to wait just about 10 minutes. If you like it crunchier and darker in the outside, you may have to wait 20 minutes.

Adam changed the recipe by tripling the amount of yeast. It would be good to add some Italian dried herbs - we'll do that next time. And then have it with motz cheese and balsamic vinegar - yummmm!

Be aware that baking it at such a high temperature means it cooks REALLY fast - we pulled it at 9 minutes, and the bottom was just about to start turning black.

07 May 2010

Chicken Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 lb. cooked, shredded chicken (I usually use can of Costco chicken)

1 lb. cooked rotini noodles (or bow tie)
2 heads broccoli, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
1 can sliced olives
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
1/3 - 1/2 cup ranch dressing (don't skip this--it's what holds it all together)

Dressing:
2 envelopes dry Italian dressing mix
6 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
4-1/2 Tbs. water
3/4 cup oil (you can reduce this some)

Combine cooled chicken, chopped vegetables, and olives. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables and chicken. Mix together. Add ranch dressing and cheese. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving (I usually am not organized enough to do this and it still gets devoured). Serves 8 - 10.

04 May 2010

spinach and apple salad

Well, check me out! I told Adam recently that I was bored with the typical garden salad we were eating - leaf lettuce with chunks of tomato, bell pepper, onion, etc. with Italian vinaigrette. I even asked for fresh spinach to make salads with - how weird is that?!? (My sisters will tell you that it's very weird!) Anyway, this is the dressing Adam found to go on fresh spinach leaves and ... here's more weirdness - I don't normally like fruit in my salads but I liked this! My eating patterns just expanded a bit more. Crazy.

apple vinaigrette for spinach salad

Of note on the recipe:

1. This makes quite a bit of dressing, so you'll probably want to cut the recipe if you're feeding only a couple of people.

2. Adam cut the amount of apple cider vinegar in half (1/2 cup to 1/4 cup) and left the other amounts the same. I think if you put in the full amount of vinegar, that would be ... well, a lot!

3. He mixed it in the food processor so the apple and onion were pretty much mushed but there was still texture to it.

4. The salad is just the spinach leaves and the crumbled bacon. We did not use bacon because we didn't have any. Adam put in chunks of apple (mmm, Pink Lady apples). Next time, I will plan to use bacon because I'm curious about the mix of spinach, apples, and bacon.

28 April 2010

French Peasant Bread

Here's a great bread recipe to go with your favorite Italian meal. It has a nice texture and is so easy to make! It's another from Recipe Shoebox.


The ingredients:
1 Tbs. dry, quick rising yeast
2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour ( I used half whole wheat and half white flour)

olive oil (for greasing the pan)
corn meal (for pan)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in warm bowl and stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended, but do NOT knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until double in size. Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and place in 2 roughly equal rounds on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the tops and sides of the rounds with melted butter and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and cook an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush tops and sides of rounds again with melted butter. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach

Recipe Shoebox is a great site for easy and tasty meals already tried out by a picky family. Love it! This site has really helped get me motivated to reach my recipe goal. I got kinda burned out after a batch of failures- recipes that sounded better on paper than in reality.

This one is delicious-we love pasta w/garlic anything!

The ingredients:
6 Tbs. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 box (1-lb) penne pasta
5-oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 Tbs. dried basil (or 1/2 cup fresh)
6 Tbs. lemon juice
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small glass bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute to blend flavors. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the flavored oil in a skillet. Salt and pepper chicken and cook in the oil over medium high heat until chicken is browned and juices run clear. Add the chopped and spinach and saute with the cooked chicken for 1 minute (or until just barely wilted) and remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package; drain well. Add cooked chicken/spinach to pasta, along with basil, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. Then stir in the remainder of the flavored olive oil. Toss lightly until all ingredients are well-combined. Serve immediately. Makes about 6 servings. Enjoy!

04 April 2010

traditional Greek Easter dinner

Adam decided we were going to be a bit more adventurous for Easter dinner this year, and found this article the other day on NPR with a number of recipes in it. Adam followed the recipes exactly, since these were all new cooking concepts.

chicken and rice soup - we had this with homemade sour-dough bread. It was the perfect complement to it! The lemon flavor was quite prominent in the soup, but it wasn't overpowering. If you try this, be careful with the eggs so they don't cook up wrong. This was our "first course" which we had for lunch between General Conference sessions, and we had the rest of the dinner after Conference ended.

roasted leg of lamb - this was expensive! 30 bucks for a not-very-large piece of meat! We wondered at first if we'd like it - if not, that was a pretty big waste ... but hey, at least then we'd know to not spend that kind of money again. But it was good! Lots of rosemary and garlic and other herbs in it. Adam is sold - we'll have this maybe once a year just because of the cost.

asparagus with dill and garlic - asparagus was something I never had as a kid, but have liked quite a bit as an adult. It also had melted parmesan cheese over it.

There is also a recipe for an Easter bread (the red eggs on it look kinda yucky, if you ask me). Adam planned to make it but we ran out of time and didn't really need it anyway because we had the sour-dough to go with the soup.

roasted new potatoes with feta cheese - this was not included in the article but Adam found it to be a side to the lamb.

26 March 2010

Thai Coconut Soup


Thai Coconut Soup
¼ cup cilantro (fresh)
olive oil
1 leek (bottom part)
galangal (cut 3-4 round slices)
lemon grass, cut in half
lemon leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger

Put all the above mentioned ingredients in saucepan and brown over medium heat until it gets light brown.

Then Add:

Canned coconut milk (shake first) – 1 can of coconut milk + 1 can full of water.
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
½ lime (squeeze the juice)
Palm sugar (to taste)
Shitake mushrooms

Boil everything gently for another 5 minutes.
Remove inedible pieces of lemon grass and galangal.
Add seafood as desired (for example: cod, shrimp, and scallops.)
Sprinkle with red pepper to get a kick (I used some red curry paste instead and it was great!)

cooking links

Adam found these links today and I thought they were pretty interesting. These are obviously the writer's opinion as far as "best" and all, and some are not very practical if you're on a tight budget (for example, get rid of all your non-stick pans and replace with cast iron and/or copper). But they're something to think about at least.

unusual cooking concepts

easy ways to improve your cooking

tips for great home cooking

common errors made in cooking

24 March 2010

home-cooked Chinese

One of the missionaries requested meatballs, sweet and sour meatballs. So Aaron took the suggestion and ran with it. He's got a handful of Chinese recipe books and was excited to use them. We made two dishes with lots of rice and some steamed asparagus on the side.


Lychee Pork
Company's Coming Chinese Cooking

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin cut into small cubes
  • cooking oil for frying
  • 20 oz can of lychee* fruit with syrup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

-Stir flour and salt in medium bowl.
-Beat eggs with fork in small bowl.
-Dip pork in flour and then egg until coated.
-It said to deep-fry, but we just did a simple pan-fry, just making sure pieces were cooked all the way through. It will be fairly light colored because of the flour. Remove to paper towels to drain.
-Combine next 6 ingredients (lychee - soy sauce) in medium saucepan. Bring to boil.
-Stir water into cornstarch in small cup. Stir into lychee mixture until thickened. Pour over pork. Stir lightly until combined.

*Lychee is an incredibly sweet berry found in China and southeast Asia. We got our can at an Asian supermarket here in Calgary.


Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Hawaiian Meatballs
Joy of Cooking

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs moistened with milk (we used quick oats)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

-Combine ingredients and form into 1-inch balls and saute in 2 tbsp vegetable oil until brown.
-We finished cooking in oven (about 15 minutes at 350) after pouring can of pineapple (chunks or tidbits) and sweet and sour sauce on top.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
Company's Coming Chinese Cooking

  • 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice (from can of tidbits)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp water
  • splash of soy sauce (says Aaron)

Stir pineapple juice into cornstarch in small bowl. Add next four ingredients and stir.

Over all impression - excellent. I'm not even a big fan of Chinese food and it was pretty good. I wouldn't suggest making both recipes at the same time though, simply because they are both rather sweet (with the lychee and pineapple). The missionaries went back for seconds (and thirds) and almost left us with no leftovers.

19 March 2010

cake mix cookie sandwiches


If you're in the mood for something sweet and don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, these are great - looks like a cookie, tastes like cake. All you need is:

  • one cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water
Mix together and drop by tablespoon on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. There's lots of variation, depending on what flavor of mix you use, and you can always stir in chocolate chips, raisins, or candies. I used a yellow cake mix and added 1/2 cup applesauce (minus 1 egg and the water), along with a tsp of pumpkin pie spice and a tsp of cinnamon. Whatever you're in the mood for.

To make them into sandwiches, simply frost the bottom of a cookie and match it up with one about the same size. If you want to make a lot, drop the batter by the teaspoon and you'll get something closer to an oreo size (which is what I did for the cookies shown). These are just plain rainbow chip cookies, so they definitely needed some fun frosting in the middle.

16 March 2010

Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta

I was surfing blogs this week and came across this blogger's link to this this recipe. I made it tonight and it was so yummy! We're not big fans of bell peppers (they taste too acidic for us), so we left it out.


Ingredients
8 ounces penne, whole wheat
16 ounces shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 red pepper, sliced
1 lb asparagus, cut in one inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Directions
  1. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.

  2. Add garlic and cook for one minute.

  3. Add asparagus and sautee' asparagus for 3 minutes.

  4. Add shrimp, red pepper, oregano and basil.

  5. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink and vegetables are tender-crisp; stirring occasionally.

  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package.

  7. Drain pasta. Add shrimp & vegetables.

  8. Toss with 1/4 tsp red pepper and parmesan cheese. Serve & enjoy!

12 March 2010

thyme grilled vegetables

Adam found this recipe for grilled vegetables with thyme, and yum! It's red potatoes, bell peppers (red, yellow, and green) and pearl onions with thyme, a little bit of salt, chicken broth, and olive oil. That's it!

You can do them on the grill as the instructions say. Or you can do it in the oven in a baking dish at 350 for the same timing as on the grill.

10 March 2010

Awesome Bread Recipe

Just posted this on my personal blog. Hands down the best bread recipe I have ever tried. It is a whole wheat honey bread. YUMMY!:)

09 March 2010

Italian Sausage and Pasta Bake

I cut this recipe in half and still had enough to feed 6 adults! I didn't have any fennel seed, but it still tasted good without it. It wasn't my favorite, but Aaron really liked it. From Recipezaar #286627.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Cut sausage into 1/2 inch chunks. I large skillet, brown sausage over medium-high heat, in batches and adding oil if necessary. Transfer sausage to a bowl.
  2. Pour off any fat from pan. Add onions, garlic and red pepper, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, basil, oregano and fennel seeds; bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Return sausage and any accumulated juices to pan; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until sausage is firm throughout.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 6 minutes, add spinach;cook for 1 minute. Drain well and return to pot. Add sausage mixture and provolone/mozzarella cheese; stir to combine well.
  4. Transfer to 2 greased 8-inch square baking dishes or 1 13x9-inch dish. Sprinkle with Asiago/parmesan cheese. Cover dish with greased foil, greased side down.
  5. To serve: Bake, covered with foil, in in 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or for 1 hour if from the refrigerator. This freezes beautifully (thaw in refrigerator before baking).

08 March 2010

Stuffed Jumbo Shells

This was yummy and a hit tonight with friends. I got the recipe off the back of the box of shells. I ended up using just half the box of shells- I now have some to use for another recipe :) I didn't have any spinach- so I just cooked the ground beef with the onion and garlic for 5 min. and didn't add any water. I didn't have any parmigiano cheese, so I used 1/4 c. of Parmesan and 1/4 mozzarella mixed together for the filling. This is an easy recipe to adjust to what is on hand.

1 box jumbo shells pasta
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 bag (6oz) baby spinach
1 cup finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese
1 jar sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella

PREHEAT oven to 350
COOK jumbo shells according to directions: drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water
COOK ground beef in large skillet until meat is no longer pink. Drain grease.
ADD oil, spinach, onion, garlic and reserved pasta water. Continue cooking 10min, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
ADD seasonings and blend well. Let mixture cool enough to handle.
STIR in egg and Parmigiano cheese.
POUR 1 cup of sauce into 13 x 9 baking dish
FILL jumbo shells with meat mixture and place in dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells, sprinkle mozzarella over the top, and cover with foil.
BAKE for 30 min.

06 March 2010

random news flash

I haven't posted much on this blog lately because we've had a series of cooking failures here. Not horribly bad, nothing burned or destroyed, but just stuff we didn't like.

The verdict is in: after multiple attempts, we do not like foods made with coconut milk.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

I found this while looking for meat-less meals. I didn't have any chipotle chili, so I used a combination of cayenne and chili powder. Turned out OK. I have wimpy taste-buds and can't handle spicy.
Found the recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile, (see Note)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and potato and cook, stirring often, until the onion is slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.

02 March 2010

lemon pie

Made this tonight for dessert - it's another new one for me, but I'm not counting anymore. It's very tangy - if you don't like lemon, you probably wouldn't like this. I do like lemon, and I loved this!

15-oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed = about 6 lemons. I used the little bottle things and it took about almost 2 full ones.)

graham cracker crust - either store bought or homemade

1. Mix the condensed milk and egg yolks with a hand-held mixer at medium speed until the mixture lightens, about 3 minutes.
2. With the mixer running, pour the lemon juice in slowly until it's entirely incorporated.
3. Pour into graham cracker crust.
4. Bake on center rack of oven at 350 for 20 minutes or until it's completely set.
5. Let cool for at least an hour before eating.

We ate it with vanilla ice cream. The pie would go great with a meringue, which you could use the egg whites for after separating the yolks. I was a klutz and broke one of the yolks in the whites, so they were no good for the meringue and I dumped them.

26 February 2010

yam cake

Aaron bought a yam this week. He claims he's going to do something with it, but has yet to do it, so I took a chunk off the end and tried something myself.

The original recipe calls it Golden Yam Brownies but they didn't look like brownies. They were a little flat for cake, but that's a bit closer to the truth. I skipped the glaze, added a tsp of cinnamon, and switched out the all-purpose flour for some whole wheat flour. Turned out great! Aaron isn't big on sweets, but he's gobbling this stuff right down.

Here's to trying out new recipes with random vegetables!

09 February 2010

Linguine with Shrimp and Creamy Roasted Tomatoes

This was delicious! Shrimp was on sale here the week of Super Bowl, so we got a good deal on it. This would make a great Valentine's Day dinner :)



* 1 1/2 cup(s) grape tomatoes
* 1 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 teaspoon(s) thyme leaves
* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* 3/4 pound(s) linguine
* 1 cup(s) heavy cream
* 3/4 pound(s) large shrimp, shelled, deveined and halved lengthwise
* 2 teaspoon(s) fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon(s) finely grated lemon zest
* 1 tablespoon(s) coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large ovenproof skillet, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 25 minutes, until starting to brown and their skins split.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the linguine until al dente; drain.
3. Add the cream to the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderate heat, gently crushing the tomatoes, until the cream thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the linguine to the skillet along with the lemon juice and toss over low heat until the pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and parsley and toss. Transfer the pasta to warm bowls and serve at once.

27 January 2010

Turkey Brine

As someone who has cooked more then her fair share of bad turkeys - this was amazing!

http://www.recipezaar.com/Kittencals-Brown-Sugar-Turkey-Brine-148225

Usually at our house we eat turkey the night it is made - freeze the rest - then avoid using it because it was so bad - in a few months throw away freezer burned turkey. These leftovers won't last the week!

18 January 2010

Simple Sesame Noodles

Got this from The Pioneer Woman.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 10 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 8

Ingredients

* 12 ounces, fluid Thin Noodles, Cooked And Drained
* ¼ cups Soy Sauce
* 2 Tablespoons Sugar
* 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
* 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
* 3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
* ½ teaspoons Hot Chili Oil
* 4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
* 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
* 4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

Preparation Instructions

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and toss.
Serve in a bowl with chopsticks. Yummy!

*****
This is very forgiving. I didn't have chili oil, so I used a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes. It was too much heat for my daughter, but the husband and I both loved it. I also didn't have any fresh garlic (WHAT???) so I used garlic powder, no rice vinegar so I used red wine vinegar, and I didn't have any green onions so we were deprived of that. And I only had about 1-1/2 Tbs of sesame oil left in my bottle. It was still OH SO GOOD.

The other thing I did differently: She said to cook the noodles first and keep them warm, then do the sauce. What a PITB. I did the sauce while the noodles were cooking, and it was done well before the noodles were. I whisked it again after they were drained, then combined them. Yummy.

Broccoli Salad

This is another from Recipezaar. It's #24862. Dressing can be made ahead of time and makes plenty. It's very thick at first and then thins out as the sugar dissolves. I ended up having to add more broccoli to even out the flavor and texture. I used regular raisins and peanuts instead of sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

Dressing (best to add just prior to serving)

Directions

  1. Put all of the salad ingredients in a bowl and pour on the dressing.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Chill.
  4. Keeps well in the refrigerator, but is best served within an hour or two while ingredients are still crunchy.