Sunday, May 31, 2009

Speaking of odd food combinations . . .

My favorite, easy, a little bit odd, go-to summer dinner is Tuna Fish and Cantaloupe.

Tada!

It is impossibly easy- just make some tuna fish to your liking (I had a bit of mayo, ranch and a pinch of sugar) then scoop into prepared cantaloupe halves.

Enjoy!

(Chris does not really like the combination like I do- but he humors me. He first eats all the cantaloupe and then finishes off the tuna. Silly guy.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bacon Maple Cookies?

One food site I subscribe to is Cooking During Stolen Moments. It is awesome. Lots of great recipes, with handy formatting for easy printing.

However, while I was catching up on some posts, I ran accross this one-



Seriously?

Has anyone heard of this combo? Tried it?

Bacon and Maple Syrup go together at breakfast, and cookies are just flour and butter and such. So I guess it works. But it is so weird!

image from stolenmomentscooking.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Homemade Honeydew Jam

I love homemade jam. I remember picking strawberries as a kid and watching my mom and grandma make jar after jar of jam. But I remember making the jam looked complicated and dangerous (hot).

Two years ago, I visited with my grandmother while she was making a small batch of jam for a neighbor. I realized that jam making is not that difficult or that complicated. So last year I made several batches of delicious Plum Jam and Plum with Nectarine Jam. I think I made too many, because we still have several jars left! Oops.

But that didn't stop me from making more this year! I tried something new- I made Honeydew Jam.

Here is how I did it, with the recipe below.

I can according to my grandmother. I know that the books, the Internet and even the pectin instructions tell me to boil the jars of jam, but I never do because Grandma never does. I have never canned anything besides jam, so when I get to something else, I will ask grandma what she does follow her lead.

To make your own homemade canned jam without added pectin:
  1. Buy some canning jars. Wash them well.
  2. Cut up your fruit. I cut up one honeydew and got 4 Cups.
  3. Smoosh the fruit.
  4. Add fruit and other ingredients to pot. (In this case, the other ingredients were 1/2 Cup Honey, 1 Cup Sugar, 3 Tbsp lemon juice)
  5. Let fruit sit for several hours, until a syrup forms. (I don't know if mine got to syrup consistency. I started Step 6 after 4 hours of sitting.)
  6. Bring fruit mixture to a boil and then simmer for 45 -55 minutes until thickened. Remove white foam that comes to the top.
  7. Meanwhile, set up your station for easy canning. I set mine up like this:
  8. Heat up your clean jars in a small water bath like so: When the inside of the jar is steamy and hot it is ready to be filled with jam. Do not boil though.
  9. Transfer jars one at a time and fill with hot fruit mixture.
  10. Put on lids, but no too tight or you will break the seal. Flip jars over to keep in heat which will help ensure sealing. As you can tell, I need to work on my consistency.
I made this jam over Memorial Day weekend. However, my jam is not set yet. It is still very liquidy. Perhaps I should have been like Grandma (she always uses pectin). Never stray from Grandma people!

However, I have not lost hope yet. A few of my Plum jams didn't set right away last year, and I just left the unset ones in the fridge for a few weeks and they set. So don't count these Honeydew Jams a total failure yet . . . only time will tell.

If you want to try this - but with storebought pectin, you can use this recipe and then cook accourding the the instructions found within the pectin box.

After reading this again- I can understand why this might seem complicated and difficult. I promise it isn't. It is fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza


There is this small independently owned pizza place around here that has amazing pizza on sough dough crusts. Mhhmmm. But they are pretty expensive. Like, too expensive to be having every week, as I would like. So last night I decided to try to make our own delicious specialty pizza.

It was great. Seriously. Almost as good and the real stuff!

Here is how we made ours- just in case you want to give it a try.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 medium chicken breast
  • 3-4 slices of crumpled bacon
  • 1/2 red onion. chopped
  • lots of ranch dressing to coat the pizza crust
  • a pizza crust (we used a store bought one that I had gottne for Chris to eat while I was away- but he didn't eat it because he ate dinner at his parents' EVERY NIGHT! )
  • pepperoni (if you are Chris and want to ruin/enhance a perfectly good pizza)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to crust's specifications.
  2. Coat crust with lots of ranch. More than you think you should. Trust me.
  3. Add cooked chicken pieces (Chris cut ours up into little pieces and then I baked them with a little olive oil sprayed on them. They cooked really fast in the oven with the bacon I was baking.)
  4. Add crumpled bacon and onions.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top. (Chris likes to take my picture. Thank you Chris.)
  6. Bake as the crust directs, or until cheese is melty and golden brown.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I really think I might hate you Earl . . .

Who is Earl? Earl is the Squirrel.

We met Earl last summer. He came and laid in the sun on our balcony. So cute, right?

Right. That is until we came home to find this:

Earl the Squirrel in the kitchen-


Courtesy of this hole he ate through the screen.


What a fiasco. Once we got home, Earl did not want to be there anymore (maybe he likes to live alone).

However, Earl couldn't find his hole in the screen. While screaming at us in his squirrel language, poor Earl kept running into the screen and bouncing off, jumping back into the open pantry, over the fridge, and onto the counter all while pooping. We were literally scaring the poop out of him.

Chris and I opened all the doors to try to get the guy outside, but ended up hitting the screen with the broom to make the screen fall out.


Earl quickly vacated the premises, and we were left with the two day task of taking everything out of the pantry, tossing anything open that might have been touched, cleaning the shelves and the food on the shelves, bleaching the counters and EVERYTHING that stupid squirrel might have touched.

The only reason I share this story with you is because . . .

Earl came back.

Seriously. This morning, I saw him on the balcony and immediately tried to scare him away. Not so cute anymore Earl. I opened the door and lunged at him. He left.

So I sat back down to work on my pathetic resume. But guess what?

Earl came back. Again.

Only this time, he was on the patio chair, SCRATCHING THE SCREEN!

I heard his scratches and jumped up, bounded to the kitchen and hit the screen. Earl instantly left, but when I turned around this is what I found for myself.


Thanks Earl. Even when you don't come inside, there is a mess for me to clean up.


Apparently, I was so animated as I ran to the window, I hit my hanging pot of baby spider plants and broke some leaves off another plant. I didn't even know that I had hit the pot. How crazy is that?

I had learned not to have any tables by the side of the house for Earl to stand on, but I had no idea Earl would balance on the arm of a chair and stretch to reach the window. I have since moved the chair so Earl can't possibly reach, but who knows.

Really Earl, I think I might strongly dislike you . . .

Monday, May 25, 2009

Exciting?

Okay- sorry people- my definition of exciting is really not that exciting. Don't be excited. (Although I would love to hear what you thought Lucy Marie.)

Our exciting news is:

1) Chris and I have spent the weekend looking at washers and dryers.

because

2) We are almost certainly moving when our lease is up in July.

See- not that exciting. But a little exciting for us- I like looking at all the new, cool washers out there.

But I do have a favor to ask from you all . . . I know it is vacation today, and most of you are not even checking your blogs, but I need your help.

What kind of washer and dryer do you have and what do you think about it?

We are looking at this one:

Linked at Home Depot here. It is a front loading Maytag Performance Series 3000. Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I got nothing but a song . . .

Well, I have some exciting news brewing- but should not share yet. However, I have had this random song in my head for the past few days and wanted to share with you.

I am usually not a country fan (I know, crazy) but this was a free song from iTunes awhile back so I gave it a shot. I think it is super funny- the singer's girlfriend breaks up with him for Jesus. And the singer says that someday, if he ever meets Jesus, he is going to kick his a**.

If you are familiar with mainstream Christian vocabulary, can manage the 'a' word, and are not easily offended at religious parody, watch the video. It is hilarious.

"She Left Me For Jesus" by Hayes Carll


Have a happy Sunday and remember Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blogger in Real Life!

Guess what? I just ran into another blogger- IN REAL LIFE!!

Danielle and I knew we lived at the same (ginormous) apartment complex, but hadn't ever seen each other in real life, until today! Exciting.

If you haven't yet, check out her blog. She is super sweet (not too creeped out when I, a stranger, knew her name) and her blog is awesome! Plus, she is getting married next weekend and has lots of awesome pictures of her hikes in the mountains. I am jealous of her hikes.

Anyway, it was nice to meet you and your fiance today Danielle. = )

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer is Here!

And that means fun time! While I am going to miss our TV shows of the regular year, I am very excited for a summer show that is coming back . . . WIPEOUT!


WIPEOUT is on Wednesday nights on ABC. Last year we watched every single episode. It is like American Gladiators with less talk and more fun. Check it out.

This is a video (albeit poor quality) of our favorite contestant from last year. This clip makes me laugh every time I see it. Hope you do too!

(Sorry about the ad- I don't know how to get rid of it.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hash Brown Quiche

I am back in the swing of things and last night we even tried a new recipe for dinner- Hash Brown Quiche.

We made Hash Browns for the first time awhile back, and they were phenomenal. And I love Quiche- so why not put them together? Good idea. It doesn't look too pretty- but it was really good!

Also, don't forget to put the leftovers in the fridge- we left ours out for 4 hours! Oops.

Hash Brown Quiche
adapted from Hot Dish Heaven

Ingredients
  • 3 Cups Hash Browns (frozen, refridgerated or shredded from actual potatoes)
  • a few shakes of Super Salt
  • 1-2 Cups shredded cheese (we used Italian blend and cheddar)
  • 3/4 Cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • whatever veggies you have laying around to add (I added 1/2 Cup each of bell peppers and asparagus)
Directions
  1. Spray a 10 inch pie pan with oil. (Spray REALLY well. Believe me.)
  2. Press hash browns into bottom of pan and up the sides.
  3. Shake Super Salt over the top.
  4. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Toss in cheese and veggies.
  6. Beat together milk and eggs. Pour over crust (and cheese and veggies).
  7. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 10 more minutes and then enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bridal Shower

I am back in Colorful Colorado! Time to catch up on my reader (all 500+ posts!) and catch up on life. I will leave you with a few pictures from the weekend.

We drove to Chicago and had a fantastic Bridal Shower for these two cuties- Kathryn and Erik.


The shower had a high tea theme, with hats and gloves, little sandwiches and delicious desserts.


Look at that cake!


Sisters . . .


Grandma, Mom, Kathryn and I at a fantastic Italian restaurant for dinner with the soon to be new in-laws the night after the shower.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cabin

Yesterday was heaven on earth. I went to my cabin. I got to hang out with the two characters in my header photo along with grandma and mom and dad. I got to weed, plant, water, fill the bird bath, hit a piece of concrete with a hammer until it was the right size, wade in the water, and mow the lawn (well, part of the lawn). All while looking at a real lake. It was grand.

I hope you had a good Monday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread


I got a friendship bread starter from a friend (imagine that). I made the bread and it was very very good- a sweet bread, almost cake-like. I would like to have given everyone is blog-land a starter, but that really isn't feasible, so instead, I will tell you how to make your own starter, and share it with others around. Exciting and friendly, right? Or you can horde all the bread for yourselves. Whatever floats your boat.

Starter Ingredients

  • 1/3 C flour
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast (I am not totally sure on this. But I think it should work.)

Starter Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients, set out on counter and stir daily for four days. It should be foamy like this.
  2. After you have your starter, add 1 C flour, 1 C sugar, and 1 C milk. Stir daily for four more (or so) days. It should be foamy again.
  3. On the 10th day you will make the bread and make the starters for others. If you want to make starters for your friends, stir 1 C flour, 1 C sugar and 1 C milk to your starter again. Then take three plastic containers and place one cup of starter in each container. Print off these instructions and share the love. If you don't want to share, just skip the extra three cup and move on.
  4. To what remains of your starter (about one cup) add 1 C oil, 1/2 C milk, 3 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla. Then add 2 C flour, 1 C sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and (optional) 1 C nuts.
  5. Grease and sugar (sugar! I know!) two bread pans. Pour batter into pans and bake at 325 for one hour.


(P.S. Don't use metal spoons or bowls with this- you will kill the yeast.)

(P.P.S. We had a great weekend- I will hopefully post pictures later. It was very lovely- Kate is one lucky girl!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bridal Shower

We are in Illinois, living it up at the retirement home. Hope you are having a fun filled weekend- Lordy knows I am.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garage Sale Treasure

This weekend our town had a townwide garage sale, so lots of people set up shop in their driveways, and I went out to scavange. Last year Chris and I went, but we were too scared to go up anyone's driveways! This year? I was a haggling machine! = )

Anyway, I got some tablecloths, a basket and this beauty.

They had taken the old window and turned it into a cork board. I wasn't feeling the flowers so I attempted my first before and after home decor project. It is pretty lame. But I love the window. LOVE it.

Here is an action shot of me removing the nails to free the cork stuff.

And here is the window in it new (temporary) home. I would like to use it to seperate some space, but right now I hung it in the bathroom. The bathroom has no windows, so Chris says it now feels like we are on a cruise ship. Oh well.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

I am in Minnesota!

Oops- I forgot to tell you that I am in Minnesota (and Chicago) for the next few days! My sister is having a bridal shower in Chicago so we (my mother, grandmother, sister and I) are going down there tomorrow for the weekend. I love Minnesota. It is so green.

I will be back later, but until then, Happy Thursday!

(If you want to see their site, there is not much up yet but click here.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

I know Cinco de Mayo was forever ago, but forgive me, I am a little behind. For Cinco de mayo, we had some delish quesadillas and tacos (well, actually I totally forgot it was Cinco de Mayo- Chris just wanted tacos). But we were without tortillas, so I decided to make some. Here is what happened . . .

I got the recipe from Finding Joy in My Kitchen, here.

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas

Ingredients
  • 1 C warm water
  • 1/4 C oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 C Whole Wheat Flower
Directions:
  1. Mix together ingredients and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough gets stretchy.
  2. Let the dough sit for a few minutes and then cut the dough in half, and each half into five smaller pieces.
  3. Roll these pieces out (preferably into circles, but if you are like me, you will settle for triangles and other odd shapes).
  4. Cook on a griddle at 350 for 5-7 minutes on each side. If you do not have an electric griddle, I am sure you could do it in the oven or even on the stove. This is not a precise science by any means. You are just trying to get them a golden brown color.
  5. Enjoy with the toppings of your choice!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Homemade Taco Seasoning

You know those little packets of taco seasoning you buy at the store? Well I have a better recipe that you can make for yourself next time you want some zesty fun!

Here is what you will need:


  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground White Pepper
Directions:
  1. Mix 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, 1 tsp Onion Powder, 1 tsp Garlic Powder and 1/2 tsp Ground white pepper together. Add to 1 lb browned ground meat like any other packet of seasoning.
This will work for people like me- who do not eat spicy food. The kind of people who think Mild Salsa, ground black pepper, and raw onions are too spicy.

For people with normal taste buds add some of your favorite spices- cayenne, crushed red peppers and such to this base. I promise- you will not be disappointed. It was good stuff!

Note: Because all Chili Powder seems to have different ingredients, and it might make a difference, my Chili Powder ingredients were as follows: Ground Chili Pepper, Ground Cumin, Ground Oregano, Garlic Powder, Salt.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Still Looking For a Mother's Day Present?

If you have 30 minutes and a pie pan I have the gift for you: A Giant Cookie!


Super easy and looks super special. Here is what you do:
  1. Take your favorite cookie recipe (such as Olympic Cookies) and make the batter.
  2. Smoosh batter into pie pan or pizza stone 0r any cool shaped cake pans you might have.
  3. Bake at 350-325 degrees for 18 minutes (keep an eye on it- Olympic Cookies took 18 minutes, but other recipes might take longer or not).
  4. Decorate with homemade frosting or store-bought (or not).
  5. Take cookie over to your in-laws and get lots of hugs for such a nice present! = )
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Guess who . . .

. . . just bought tickets to see this beautiful girl 6 times next fall? You guessed it- we did!


Thank you Chris for being a "full-time" student.

(Yes, this means we will be in the student section- with the crazies- standing for all 4+ hours a game. Who's ready for some football?!)

Ralphie V image from cubuffs.com

* I'm off to get my garage sale on- see you in a bit- when I come home with treasures galore! (I hope . . .)

Friday, May 8, 2009

How to Hem: Example Deux

Yesterday I showed you the Easy Way to hem; today I will show the other way to hem, which I have deemed the Hard Way. I was forced to do this method with pants where one flip on the hem wasn't going to cut it. I had a pair of nicer pants that were also too long. I used to wear them with heels, but ever since the chiropractor suggested I avoid heels to avoid aggravating my back further, I haven't worn them. Enter my wonderful sewing machine!

This method of hemming is useful for pants that are a little nicer, or when you need to hem them more or less than a simple fold at the manufacturer's hem.

The Hard Way:

First rip out the seams of your manufacturer's hem.


Then measure the desired height, cut off any excessive extra fabric and press at that height. Also, iron the raw edge of the leg under so you have a pretty inside hem.


Pin it.


Finally, sew the pants and you are done!


Not quite as clear as the Easy Way- so if you have any questions let me know. Good luck!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Hem: Example Uno

Since getting the lovely sewing machine, I have been doing all the tasks I only dreamed of doing. Like hemming pants. My pants are never the right height. I am not tall but not short either, so I have to choose between Regular which are often too long or Ankle, which make me look like I belong with the Jets in the '50s. Neither are super great options, but I usually choose to drag my pants than look like a square. However, with the machine, I don't have to have ruffed up hems anymore. I learned to hem- and I will now share it with you.

I found there are two ways to hem: the easy way and the hard way. Here is my tutorial of The Easy Way.

First iron the pants to the correct height.


Pin it.

Sew it.


End up with some pinches like this on the inside hem if the pants are flared.


And you are done!