Friday, February 26, 2010

Shrimp and Scallion Stir-Fry

 I know its not the best picture- but hey- at least I took one, right?  right??

All I can say about this meal is- easy.quick.yum.

Chris doesn't really like shrimp- but he was pleasantly surprised with this dish.  In his book it is even a do-over/make-again dish. Psh- as if I ever make something twice.  What would I have to blog about?

Shrimp and Scallion Stir-Fry
from Everyday Food (Jan 2010)

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb large shrimp
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • cooked brown rice for serving
Directions
  1. Heat pan (or wok if you have one) until hotish.
  2. Add oil and swirl around. 
  3. Add shrimp and cook until mostly firm.
  4. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Add scallions, lemon juice and 2 tbsp water.  Cook (stirring continuously) until scallions turn bright green. 
  6. Serve over rice immediately. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

House Tour: Kid Room

When my parents came for Thanksgiving in addition to the table, they brought our childhood bunk beds from the summer cabin.  Now that their children are grown, they are going to put a real bed in that room at the cabin.  And we were happy to take the bed off their hands.  Not that we are hiding any kids from you- or even planning on having kids right now, but as the new "hand-me-down-kids" I will take another bed without much persuasion.  It might come in handy someday . . .

For fun- here is the downstairs bedroom the way the previous owners had it:

Here is the bunk bed all set up:

I have to show you two details that make this bed extra special for me.  First: my sister and I grew up spending summers on this bed.  We played hard on this bed: we did gymnastics on the bars and jumped so often on the bottom bunk it warped.  We went fishing for each other, built forts and even made Barbie go bungee jumping to her death.  Repeatedly.

Second: I spend most of my time on the bottom bunk, and placed this hemp like bracelet on the never-used ladder in my preteens.  I don't know, but it reminds me of those awkward years and makes me smile. 

I am glad that we accepted the bunk bed because it has already gotten used!  We had two people spend the night- one in the guest room and one in the bunks. Sweet.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Amazing Amazon!

PJ at Seens From the Backs of My Eyelids is having another amazing giveaway.  Really.  Remember when she gave away $50 to Amazon?  Well- here is another chance to win bigtime.  Check her out! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You did what without an Apple Peeler?

Last summer/fall I learned how to make my own versions of applesauce, apple-pear sauce and apple butter.  It was a lot of fun, but honestly, a LOT of work.  Mostly because I had to peel every.single.apple by hand.

That is a lot of apples.

And this next year, I hope to do it all over again, only with a little help from this:

An apple peeler, corer, and slicer!  

My father-in-law forwards me his work's internal Craig's List of sorts (remember the table and chairs?) and I jumped at the chance for a slicer for $10.  I can't wait for an opportunity to use it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli


Bam!  Another one off the menu plan.

Interesting idea to make a cream sauce using cream cheese.  It was a little on the thin side for my taste, which could be fixed by adding less water.  Also, I might add something else to the sauce for more flavor, maybe some diced tomatoes?  Something a little sweet would really go a long way.  Perhaps that is why the oringinal recipe called for ham instead of sausage . . . 

Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
adapted from Everyday Food (Nov. 2009)

Ingredients
  • 3/4 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets (or one bag of frozen broccoli)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sausages, cut into pieces and browned
Directions

  1. Cook broccoli accourding to bag, or roast in oven (Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roast until broccoli is tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until al dente. Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta.
  3. Return empty pasta pot to medium-low heat. Add cream cheese and 1 cup pasta water; whisk until smooth. Add broccoli and sausage and cook until hot. Gently fold in noodles. Thin sauce to desired consistency with more pasta water and season pasta with salt and pepper.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Awarded!


 Thanks Adie- you are the best.  (Adie from Almost Perfect gave me this award.) 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

House Tour: The Loft

The loft is the area of that really sold Chris on the house.  He loved the wood burning stove, and they open-ness to below.  He loved everything about it actually . . .
(What the loft looked like when we saw it)

I was not so sure.  I feared the loft would never get used- It can't be used as an office because then the mess could be seen from any room in the house!  It can't be used for pretty much anything- but a sitting room- and isn't that what living rooms and family rooms are for?

But I was wrong.  At least during the winter, the loft in my favorite place.  Chris has been building fires with the mountain of firewood the previous owners left us, making it the warmest place in the house - like 75 degrees warm.

We have nice seating up in the loft.  The love sac is finally free to expand to its fullest potential.  Plus, Chris' brother is allowing us to borrow his futon (and couches)(and coffee table)(thanks again Dave) so we have lots of comfy seating.  (Please disregard the wrinkles on the futon- I bought a full sized sheet set to cover the black futon (white dog hair and black futons don't mix) and didn't iron the sheet before I put it on because I am lazy I wanted to make sure it would fit.

See?

The loft serves another unforeseen purpose- as a dog play area. PeeWee has this toy:
We put his dry crunchies in it and he pushes it around with his nose to get the food out.  He loves loves this thing- but he will only do it on carpet because the hard wood downstairs is too loud.  So the loft is a perfect area for him to push it around and eat to his heart's content. 

We all enjoy this loft more than I had anticipated- I am so glad Chris could see its potential.

dog toy image from here

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta

My first meal with the menu plan was a bust.  Total fail. 

I knew this was going to be a different meal, I could not imagine what it would taste like, but thought I would give it a try (it did have feta after all).

But I don't know if I would recomend this salad to my worst enemy.  It was nasty. 

But if you like mush and tang and vinegar all wrapped up in each bite- go for it.  We however, will never make this again.

The vinaigrette was way to vinegar-y for my taste, and when paired with the sweet potatoes, it was actually gag inducing.  But I have some issues with texture . . .

(However- the potatoes by themselves were delicious.) 

If you are brave enough to try this, or just want the recipe to know to stay away, here it is:


Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta
Everyday Food November 2009

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (I used extra juice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
  • Salad
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper if desired. Roast until tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, grated orange zest, orange juice, and white-wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes, salad, and feta. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
Note: This was originally a side salad, but with the starch and fiber from the potato and the protein from the cheese, I served it as a main dish. 


Image from here

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Bread

Our good friend came back to town for a few days right before we bought our house and while he was here, he showed me how to make a truly 100% whole wheat bread. However, I didn't remember it all so while he was here over the weekend he filled me in so I can now share the nitty-gritty with you! 

We used this flour:
White whole wheat flour is a lot easier to use than regular whole wheat flour.  I am not sure what exactly the differences are, but white whole wheat flour seems to taste more like the enriched stuff.  (However- if you want- you could use whole wheat pastry flour- that stuff is hardly discernible from regular enriched flour.)

The problem with the bread is that we didn't take exact measurements of the flour.  Apparently, even within any certain brand of flour each bag will have different moisture content, so instead of measuring, we must just work the until it fells right.  I am still not sure exactly when the dough "feels right" but I will try my best to express the process to you.

100% Whole Wheat Bread
From Ian

Ingredients
  • about 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cup water
Directions

1. Add all ingredients together.
2. Stir up.
3. Add more flour until the wooden spoon stand up by itself (remember not to use any metal utensils with yeast- the metal will kill the yeast). Or until the dough forms a ball that you can pick up out of the bowl.
4. Wait.  8-12 hours.  Let the yeast do its work.  The next morning ours had escaped out of the bowl!
5. Take the risen dough and work it down back into a ball.  You could roll it out and shape it into a longer loaf if you like.
6. Let the bread rise again while you wait for the oven to preheat to 450 degrees (with the pan in the oven too).  Then bake until the crust is brown and the insides are done (about an hour).
I baked the bread in my green enamel-coated cast-iron dutch oven- however, my lid is only oven safe to 375 degrees so I had to bake without the lid.  If you have a lid that can bake at 450- use it!  A lid would help retain moisture and allow the bread to rise more before the outer crust gets done.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Hello Friends.  I have a confession:  I suck at menu planning.  I have tried a few times but I always deviate (Majorly- one time I didn't make anything I had planned to- anything.) It is like there is this rebellious part of me that resists making the planned meals just because I had planned to make them.

But now we have moved away out into the farm land and there are fewer grocery options.  So I have been trying to plan my trips out better, so I don't waste gas and resources.

And thus, I have begun to menu plan, again.

I have had one successful menu plan- for the last two weeks I picked out six meals and I have just finished them all.  (We ate out a few times and had to deviate from the plan for some vegan dinner guests, and we ate at his parents' house once or twice.)  But regardless, I planned six meals, and we ate all six meals.  Now I feel confident I can try again.  Hopefully, telling with world will keep me even more accountable.   

Additionally, with my first success, I think I finally figured out the benefit to the menu plan.  I look at the ads, I look through some food magazines, I find what I can make with what is on sale, I buy that stuff.  And then I am done.  I have everything needed to make five meals and no excuses.  And no temptations (Target) 4 minutes away . . .

I am still too rebellious to place food on certain days, so I have just planed out five meals and will pick and choose from those on each day.

So here is my Menu Plan for the week (or maybe two):
  • Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta
  • Red Beans with Sausage
  •     Side: Buttermilk Cornbread
  • Tomato and Shrimp Pasta with Feta
  • Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli
  • Homemade Pizza
 All the above recipes can be found in Everyday Food (Nov. 2009)

Can you tell what was on sale this week?  If you guessed sausage and feta- you would be correct!

Check out more menu plans here.

(P.S. I would like to thank the Presidents for this wonderful day off.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Christmas Cookies

After taunting me for over a month, I finally decided to make the Christmas cookies from a jar.  See?

So pretty.

I have no idea what the recipe was, but they were similar to the best cookies ever- Olympic Cookies.  If you have not seen or heard of Olympic Cookies before, please please please try them.  You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Kathryn!

Well, today is my sister's big 22nd birthday. All I have to say is: Happy Birthday Kafrin. xoxo
(Check out her birthday blog last year here.  Pretty sweet if I do say so myself.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

House Tour: The Guest Bedroom

When we came home from Minnesota with a car full to the brim- we managed to sneak an Ikea dresser into the mix.  After the box sat around for a few weeks, I have finally turned this
into this!
Building the dresser was not the more easy thing I have ever done- I am afraid I am not quite the perfectionist the engineering team was hoping to buy and build said dresser.  Oh well- turned out alright.  It is a little bland, but it will do the job for $34.50.  Plus, with a few drawer pulls, it could look a lot cuter. 

I have even partially lined the drawers with my fancy drawer liners I got for Christmas (thanks Mom).  And please note the bowling trophy with the jumping girl.  I got that this New Year's Eve when we went cosmic bowling.  My dad cleaned up some old family trophies in the garage and used the pieces to create new masterpieces.  Like this one.  (P.S. My dad also bowled a 197 (or maybe 193) that night.  No.Joke.  He got 4 strikes- in a row!  Way to go daddyo!)
By the way, I have no idea where this super girl-y room came from.  When I started trying to fill the guest room for my parents to stay during Thanksgiving I found I had a bright pink quilt, pink pictures and art, another quilt with pink to lay on the bed, a girl-y sweater pillow . . . I guess I was holding some girl decor inside- out of respect for Chris.  Now the guests will just have to deal with the pink.  I do love this room.  (Maybe when I get all the boxes cleaned out I will show you the closet and stuff.  But maybe not, it is just a closet.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Curry Chicken and Chickpeas

Fact: Our house is bigger than our apartment.  It makes me lazy.

I made this curry last week- but the night I made it the camera was not in plain view, so I though "I'll take a picture of the left-overs." However, we ate the last of the leftovers last night and guess what I didn't do?  If you guessed take a picture- you win!

I am still working on this whole having-to-take-more-than-3-steps-to-get-anywhere situation.  Sorry friends.

I did find a picture online. If I was a good photographer, our curry looked similar to this:

image from Daley Food

Although, I served it over brown rice and added some shredded chicken for my meat loving husband.  With the addition of the meat, Chris thought that this dish was a do-over dish.  That is saying something because Chris (and I) both tend to stick to standard American and Italian fare.  Big step taking on this  . . . dun dun dun . . .CURRY!

Ha- sorry, I guess it is too early in the morning for a blog post.  Here is the recipe.

Chicken and Chickpeas with Curry
adapted from Everyday Food

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder 
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches 
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 pinch course salt
  • 2 cups water (I used broth)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 handful shredded chicken
  • chopped cilantro and lemon wedges (optional), for serving
Directions
  1. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until dark brown around edges, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, curry, cinnamon, and pinch of cloves and cook, stirring until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  3. Add chickpeas, ketchup, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2 cups of water.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover and increase heat to medium high; cook until sauce is slightly reduced, 5 minutes.
  6. Serve on rice, topped with cilantro, with lemon wedges along side if desired.