Friday, April 23, 2010

Hello there friends.  If you reading this - then you are still coming to my blog - and you deserve a round of applause! Wow!  Thanks.  I am been more than a little absent lately.  I don't know what it is about. 

I am doing lots of great projects and making good yummy food- but I just don't feel the same desire need to share it with the world. 

Until that day comes again, I am just going to take a break from blogging.  I will still ready all your lovely blogs and hopefully commenting, but without much to say so I won't be blogging about my life much. 

That is, until something really exciting happens.  Maybe when the house burns down or it rains cats and dogs.  You never know. . . . 

Thanks for making blogging and the internet such an awesome place to be.

Hugs.   

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Home Tour: Makeshift Hutch

As I sit here writing this avoiding packing for our short trip to New Mexico I realized something rather exciting . . . something magical has happened.  


My first posts about our new house were rightly titled "House Tour."


However, my last one, about the pink bench, was different.  Without thinking, I titled it "Home Tour."

I guess our new house has turned into our new home.  how.cool.

Anyway, I have one more thing to share- the last thing my parents brought with them from MN at Thanksgiving was this green dresser.

Pretty sweet, no?  It was at our cabin for many years, but now my childhood dresser is here  to live in Colorado for awhile.

I secretly love the dresser just for the its smell.  When you open the drawers it smells just like my childhood family cabin (weirdly- the cabin has a very distinctive smell- a bit of a musty fragrance- but I love it).

Right now it is in the dining room serving as a makeshift hutch.  We have all the linens (place mats and napkins) in the drawers.  I have thought about repainting, but the color is actually pretty good for the room.  Plus, it is naturally distressed- which I find to have more character than when I try to distress furniture. What do you think?

Thanks Mom and Dad- you guys are the best.

(We are going to NM for a long weekend to see Chris' grandparents.  I won't have my computer- so- see you next week!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Homemade Pie Crust




This weekend we made the quiche from my menu plan and I thought of homemade pie crust.  I wish I had made some.  Store bought just isn't as good.  However, before I learned the proper way to make pie crusts, I made several disasters.  One literally had the consistency of graham cracker crust.  

Luckily, my good friend offered to help me make a crust so I could see how to do it.  I have not tried to make my own since her help, but her crust was divine. 

Her instructions and advice are found below. 

Homemade Standard Pastry Crust
from family friend

Ingredients
  • 2/3 Cup plus 2 Tbsp shortening or lard (or butter)
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-5 Tbsp cold water
Directions

1. Mix flour and salt.
2.Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are pea sized.
3. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of water on dough and toss the dough with a fork.  Continue adding water until all the flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans sides of bowl.
4. Divide dough into two even pieces.
5. Gather dough into a ball; and shape into pie crust between parchment paper (or nifty pie things) with a rolling pin.  (Try not overwork the dough- then it won't taste as good.)
6. Try to use the crust as soon as possible.  I am not sure what happens if you don't, but Candice says its bad.

Good luck.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Home Tour: Entry (Phase 2)

I did it.  I found a bench that meets all of my criteria!

Remember my mirror?  It has sat on the floor in the entry since we bought it back in January.
I have been looking for a bench or table of some sort to go under the mirror with these criteria:

1. Be sturdy.
2. Be cheap.
3. Be longer than the mirror- over 60 inches.  Do you know how hard it is to find a bench over 5 feet long?  Neither did I until I started to look.

Preferences
4. Be paint-able. (Because chances are if it is #2 it is going to need to be painted.)
5. Have storage capabilities. Such as this one:
 image from Potterybarn.com  

For the past 3 months I was unable to find what I was looking for- despite looking bi-weekly at the various thrift stores around town.  And in the end, thrift stores would have been a rip off anyway. . .   Last week I saw a estate sale sign while driving Chris to work.  On my way home, I drove down the long and winding road until I came to the sale.

Jackpot baby.

Not only did I find an old garbage can for composting in for a buck, but I found this:
The entryway bench of my dreams.

Well, almost.  I am thinking about painting the pink to a nice beige.  And distressing the heck out of it.

Look at how many criteria it meets:
1. It is very sturdy- made of heavy wood. 
3. It is over 60 inches- almost 80 inches in fact!

4. Definitely paint-able. (I was right about needing to be painted, huh?)
5. And it has storage spaces! Although the bench is skinnier (only 9 inches wide) than I would have ideally liked it, it is a keeper.  Besides, as my in-laws pointed out, this one is so skinny it won't stick out from the wall too far and cause a shin bruise hazard.  Nice. 

What about criteria number 2, you ask?  Well, it was cheap.  Real cheap.

Care to take a guess?

No?  You sure?

Oh well, it was a fun game for Chris and I.

The bench was a whopping $2.

I know.  It really set us back.

I am so excited to get it painted and get the mirror hung on the wall!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I am going to try again- a new approach.  I am struggling to do a weekly or even a bi-weekly list- so instead, I just created a long list of meals that correspond with last week's sales and what we have in our pantry and freezer.

Whenever we come close to finishing this list, I will make another list.  Hopefully it will fall close to a Monday, but if not, oh well.  Menu Planning Thursday will work too- i just isn't nearly as catchy. . .

Meals:

  • Lasagna Primavera (Made and frozen in the freezer for a day when we need something easy) (Everyday Food)
  • Pasta with Chicken, Raisins and Almonds (I will abandon the almonds) (Everyday Food)
  • Vegetable Quesadillas with Corn Relish (Everyday Food)
  • Brown Rice Casserole from Joy in My Kitchen
  • Pizza
  • Quiche
  • Salmon (I have no idea how I will cook it yet . . . any ideas?)

Desserts:



Snacks:

  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Graham Crackers
I am excited for this. It feels good to have a plan and food in the house.

However,  I was reading that we should go to the grocery store almost everyday to get fresh produce.  But that does not appeal to me at all.  Ick.  So I hope we can survive with this plan- besides, frozen veggies are almost as good as fresh, right?  Especially when the fresh produce is coming from across the world. . . . (although I suppose I shouldn't be buying that food anyway . . .100 miles?)  Hmm.  

What is your take?  Go to the store every few days?  Every month?  

Check out more menu plans here.

Awarded- in November?!

I hope everyone has recovered from the obligatory sugar high that is Easter - I know I enjoyed far to many Cadbury Eggs in one single day.  But that is Easter for ya.  (I guess that Jesus guy coming back for the dead is kinda important too . . . )

Anyway . . . way back in the day (November) Rose from A Record of Rose gave me a Kreativ Blogger award.  Not sure what happened between then and now- but thanks Rose!  I really do appreciate you blog love!


I was also awarded more recently by Kayla at Livin' the Great Life!

She is so sweet- she gave me the Happy 101 Award (Anyone know why it is called that?)

Thanks Kayla and Rose!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Fail: Puppy Chow

Haha- just kidding.  You can't fail at Puppy Chow!

After my previous failures, I decided to go back to an old standby- Puppy Chow.  I have not had it since high school and well, I wanted to make something delicious, that would be very difficult to mess up.  I am pretty sure if you add chocolate, peanut butter and sugar together, you cannot go wrong.   

Puppy Chow!
from the back of the Chex box

Ingredients
  • 9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I only used 1 Cup)

Directions:
1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. In 1-quart saucepan, heat chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter over low heat,
stirring frequently, until melted. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
3. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
4. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal
bag; shake until well coated.
5. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cheesy Biscuits

Unfortunately, my failures don't end with the soup.  The same night I made soup, I also made these beautiful biscuits.

I am not sure what went wrong, usually SnoWhite's dishes are amazing.  But these biscuits taste odd.  Weird.  Not really all that edible.  And that is saying something for a family that loves both bread and cheese.

Cheesy Biscuits
from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 1 C flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (I did not add the salt because I didn't think we needed it- but maybe that would have made the difference)
  • 1/2 C extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 + 1/8 C milk
  • half of a 1/3 C olive oil
Directions

1. Mix together flour and baking powder.
2. Add in the shredded cheese and stir to coat.
3. Mix in the oil and milk until batter is moist.
4. Grease a cookie sheet and then drop biscuits by the teaspoonful (makes about 12 biscuits (I got about 18) onto the cookie sheet.
5. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, until biscuits are lightly browned.

Sigh.  Maybe things will come around soon.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back on Track: Quickest Mushroom-Barley Soup

As you are aware- I am sucking it up in the blog world- but what you don't know is that I am also sucking in real life.  You would be amazed at how much I am losing at life these days.  For example- this soup:

Failed.  Massive failure.

It sounded like a good idea at the time. 

It smelled good, and all the ingredients seemed good, but Chris and I could hardly get our dinners down, and the leftovers went down the disposal.  I don't know what to tell you- except- please don't make this.

Quickest Mushroom-Barley Soup
adapted from Everyday Food (Oct. 2008)

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I used button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups canned reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley (Or regular barley cooked and then added to the soup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 chunk (1 ounce) Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler (we used shredded)

Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  2. Add broth and 2 cups water to pan; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to a simmer; add barley, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. (Or add cooked barley from another pot.) Remove soup from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice. Serve garnished with Parmesan.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life as we know it . . .

I have been a little absent lately- three reasons:

1. Internet has been weird.  Hard to get on when there isn't any.

2. Life changed a bit last Saturday.  We were driving to the mountains to go skiing and hit some ice, swerved, and rolled in Chris' parents' truck into a freshly tilled cornfield.  (Well, I don't know what kind of crops it will grow- but corn sounds good.)

Obviously, I left my phone and camera at home, so there are no pictures to document the event, but trust me, it happened.

We are both fine- thank the Lord.  Really.  It could have been a million times worse.  But thankfully, Chris and I both walked away from the crash with little more than a few bruises and a bit of a headache.

However, the car did not fare so well.  We still don't know what insurance is going to do with it, and we are waiting to see how on earth we can ever pay his parents back for trashing their truck . . so yeah.  But at least we are alive, right?

And just as my body was ready to take on the world again, I had to go to the dentist.

3. I got two cavities filled yesterday.  Two!  That doubles my lifetime cavity count in one trip to the dentist.  suck.  Cavities bite.  Plus, smiling with half my mouth was a weird and unflattering experience.

So there you have it friends.  Life as we know it is ever changing and always an adventure!  I am slowing catching up on blogs- I can't wait to read up on your lives.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade Zucchini Bread

Hello Friends.  I have not been posting much.  Why?  My hard drive has virtually run out of room.  I think it might have to do with the fact that I have about 15 pictures of every thing I have made in the kitchen for the last year and a half.  So I have begun the tedious and mind numbing task of deleting the extras- but it is taking a long time because. . . well I don't really like doing it.  I don't understand where iPhoto is storing the photos and if I have duplicates or not.  Anyway, while I was going through the pictures I did find some photos I have not posted about so here they are . . .


Have any shredded zucchini frozen in the freezer waiting to get eaten?  No?  Me neither.  I think SnoWhite or Lucy probably have some they could share though . . .

This is good bread.  Very, very moist with the shortening- I might take a only add 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of 2/3 cup.  But we could have had really juicy zucchini though . . . Either way, you won't be disappointed.  Plus, the added cinnamon sugar topping is a sweet surprise to most Zucchini Breads.

Zucchini Bread
from family friend

Ingredients
  • 2 2/3 Cup sugar
  • 2/3 Cup shortening (I never have shortening- so I will use butter or applesauce next time I make this)
  • 3 Cup shredded zucchini
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/3 Cup flour (regular or whole wheat if you are feeling healthy)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • optional: 2/3 cup each chopped nuts or raisins
Directions

1. Mix shortening and sugar.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Separate mix into two standard loaf pans.   
4. Bake at 350 fro 60-70 minutes.
5. When done, sprinkle tops of bread with cinnamon and sugar.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

House Tour: Fire in the Kitchen

Our cousin Kurt (yep- our cousin . . . long story) is in town for work and he stopped by last night for a little visit.  As we showed him the house, Chris and Kurt lighted several matchbooks on fire in the wood burning stove- because well, that is what you do when Kurt is around.  So Kurt, this one is for you.  Thanks for coming to visit.

Two days after we moved in, Chris accidentally started a fire in the kitchen.

I am not joking.

A real, smoky, burning, dangerous fire.

Luckily, he started it in the toaster oven and the fire politely stayed there until it ran out of air and died.

But it was an exciting 2 minutes while we watched and considered our options  .. . "Do we open the door to put it out with a fire extinguisher?" "Where is the fire extinguisher?"  "Do we have a fire extinguisher?" (Yes- two in the kitchen actually- thank you previous owners!) "What do you put on grease fires?" "Baking soda? Flour?" "Should we unplug the toaster?"

While we were deciding what to do- the fire died down leaving me with this:

A charred toaster oven and a smokey wall.

In our new-to-us house!  Seriously.  How ironic would it be if we moved into a house and then burned it down two days later?

Not good is what it would be.

My mother heard about our fire and got Chris a new Toaster Oven for Christmas (Thanks Mom and Dad!)  I was unable to wash the smoke off the wall so I just covered it with a little paint.  Good as new.
But Chris' toaster oven privileges have been severely restricted.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best.weekend.ever.

We had one of the best weekends ever.  What makes the best weekend ever?

Start with three great meals (Red Robin, Buca and homemade calzones), add in new experiences (Roller Derby in Denver), continue to knock things off your list of things to do (painting the door and side table) and end with a relaxing night of Oscar watching with friends.

It was the best.

I hope you had a great weekend too.  What did you do?  What did you think of the Oscars?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lucy's Chili

I have failed the menu planning.  In order for menu planning to work- you you must go grocery shopping during the weekly sale. I did not.  Our stores switch sales on Wednesdays.  When I made the menu this weekend, I knew I would only be able to go on Tuesday afternoon, but when that didn't happen . . . well, the menu plan was pretty much useless.

Enter- new game plan.  A good opportunity to practice being flexible.  (Which I am not.  I dislike change.)
Instead of making a meal, I had to pull a meal out of the freezer and wait to make a new menu plan with this week's flyer.  I might be able to keep the old menu acutally, some of the same stuff appears to be on sale.  I think.  It has been a crazy two days.

Anyway, the meal I took out of the freezer was Lucy Marie's Famous Chili.  SnoWhite has raved about it.  And now I must concur- this is amazing chili.  And I don't even like chili!

One thing I did differently was add shredded carrots instead of diced carrots.  I had 2 cups of frozen shredded carrots that were begging to be used in something besides Carrot Cake.  The carrots give the chili a mild sweetness throughout.  mmm, consistently sweet.  and a little bit spicy.  Yum.  


Lucy's Chili
adapted from Lucy Marie

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 medium bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped (Or 2 Cups shredded!)
  • 1 C frozen green beans
  • 2 cans beans (any combo - I used black and pinto)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder 
  • Dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
Directions
1. Brown meat with onion and garlic in a large stockpot until meat is no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.
2. Add veggies and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, ketchup, brown sugar and spices.
4. Simmer on medium-low for as long as you like. Lucy usually make this in the morning and lets it simmer all day.  I let is simmer for a couple of hours.  It is really good.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

My first trial run with a menu plan was a success.  And by success I mean- we made four of the five meals listed.  However, I have not posted about all of them yet.  We haven't actually finished eating them all yet . . .  I will post about Red Beans with Sausage with Buttermilk Cornbread and Tomato and Shrimp Pasta with Feta tomorrow and Wednesday. 

I did post about Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli

and the failed Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta.

Despite my failure with the salad and my inability to post about the food we eat in a timely manner, I think the menu plan is very helpful.  I think the real success and strength of the menu plan is that I prevented me from going grocery shopping anytime during the last two weeks.  Bingo.  I am sure if I didn't have a menu plan, I would have gone shopping- and spent money on stuff we didn't need.  But since I had the stuff to make meals at home, I didn't need to go shopping.

So I will try again.

Menu Plan
  • Quickest Mushroom Barley Soup
  • Greek Stuffed Peppers
  • Chili Tacos
  • Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta
all recipes come from Everyday Food (October 2008)

Check out more menu plans here.