Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Recipes of the week

I've decided to start posting them after I've already tried them, instead of before. What's the point in telling you about them twice?

I got quite a few from Everyday's past issue. I actually doubled my stack of recipes to try when I was finished reading it.

We had a handful of new ones last week.

First up was Chicken-and-Orzo Soup with Arugula and Basil from Everyday. I couldn't find arugula, so I substituted escarole. And I used chopped portabello caps. This was supremely quick and easy to toss together. It was so extremely very deliciously yummy. Did I get across how much I liked it? I absolutely loved it. Monkey did as well, judging by the fact she ate 2 bowls. T wasn't home that night but warmed some up to try and enjoyed it as well. This gets a huge thumbs up from us.

Next up was Shrimp Fried Rice, also from Everyday. T doesn't eat eggs (I know - and we have chickens - which were his idea - don't ask), so I scooped a big bowl for him before the egg stage. It was easy to make, but T and Monkey were very "Meh" about it. Though I liked it, I won't be making it again.

I have another from Everyday and one from Country Living, but they aren't online yet, so I'll share them later.

I also did some experimenting a few weeks ago and wanted to share. I had a pound of ground chicken and an orange I needed to use. I took the juice and some grated rind from the orange and some fresh rosemary and made burger patties. I grilled them up and topped them with swiss cheese and Head Country BBQ sauce (worth the cost of shipping - it's delicious). For someone who is scared to throw stuff together and fly by the seat of her pants at dinner, I thought they turned out very tasty.

A variation on it I tried at my parents house last weekend - I took chicken parts (breasts and thighs), seasoned them with dried rosemary, salt and pepper and roasted/basted them in orange juice. It got good reviews.

I love kitchen success!
Enjoy your kitchens!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cold Weather Goals - 2009

It's that time of year again. The air is turning crisper. The leaves are changing from a beautiful green to a beautiful array of reds, oranges and yellows. Furnaces are being turned back on and windows are being closed up tight. You know. Fall.

While we've been doing some random winter preparations around the house over the past weekend, I did a lot of thinking about what I want to accomplish this coming winter. This year, I've broken it down into five categories.

1) Personal
  • Lose 10 pounds. At 10 weeks post-partum, I've lost the entire 28 lbs I gained during pregnancy and found myself 155 (yes, I just told you how much I weigh. It will keep me honest. ha). Technically speaking, I lost all of the weight in about 3 weeks. As of yesterday, I've already lost 2 of the 10 lbs I want to lose. My ultimate goal is to get down to 135, which will bring me to a healthy BMI for my height. But I've found breaking it down into 5 or 10 pound chunks makes it much easier to attain - and maintain (I've already lost 30 pounds from my heaviest, non-pregnant weight, so even if I stay right here, I'm already much better off than I was.).
  • Start using my etsy site. I did all of the paperwork last fall and even have supplies for a couple handfuls of projects. Now I need to actually list items. No more talking about it. No more dilly dallying. Just freaking do it already!
  • Get myself on a schedule. I've been getting overwhelmed with housework and bill paying. I can handle taking care of these tasks, I just don't have an efficient system in place. Need a system!
  • My blog. I am aiming for 3-4 posts a week.

2) Family

  • Institute a bi-weekly family outing. It can be as simple as spending 2 hours in the back yard playing with the chickens (NO WORKING) or going out for a hike. We had been doing this before Little Man was born, but we haven't done it in some time (other than all of the little day trips we had right before T went back to work). Our family is our top priority. We need to act the part now.
  • Weekly craft projects. I want to set aside 1 afternoon a week for random craft projects with Monkey (and Little Man when he's old enough to participate). We will start this week by making our own clay - and then making a nice big mess with it!

3) Kitchen

  • I will make cheese this winter.
  • I will make bagels from scratch this winter.
  • I will learn to make soap with the 20 pounds of pig fat we received with our pork.
  • I will continue my kitchen experimentation. I considered a new recipe a day for a year, but I think that's a little much. We do enjoy take out every now and again. Or just a plain ol' pizza. Then I'd feel like a failure. So I'll just continue on with the new recipes as I have been doing since the beginning of the year.

4) Projects

  • Paint frame of full length mirror
  • Paint frame of hanging mirror
  • Stain wine crates
  • Make hanging quilt for Little Man (like the one I made Monkey)
  • Knitting

5) Turning house into home

  • Our bedroom has not been finished. The walls are still empty, we still have no curtains, we need a bed skirt, you get the point. Finish.
  • Our bathroom has not been finished. The walls are still empty, we still have no curtains, random trim has not been put back, you get the point. Finish.
  • Hang Monkey's curtains. Hello. It's been since January. Just do it.
  • Little Man's bedroom isn't finished. Deck it out for a little boy. Need a bookshelf (hopefully I can talk my Dad into building one like he did for Monkey).
  • Complete the stairwell. T will be putting up drywall. I want to finish this.

I like having something to work towards. And I love having a list to scribble on. It feels so fantastic to cross something off!

Have a great day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Recipe of the week

I have multiple recipes. They're technically from last week because I haven't done any cooking yet this week. It's 5:45 AM on Monday morning - nope... all I've done is put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen this week. (Smart alec, I know.)

I'm going to attempt to not get frustrated because I have 2 from Martha Stewart Living again. After searching and searching last week on her website for a recipe, I'm dreading going to take a look this morning.

First up, I made Corn Soup with Fresh Tomatoes (Surprise. I can't find it online. September 2009, page 162). While very easy and very quick to make, it wasn't as "WOW" as I would have hoped for. Monkey didn't like it at all, which surprised me because she loves corn.

Next, we tried Mushroom and Bacon Tart (Guess what? I can't find this online, either. September 2009 issue, page 162). This ended up being a 2-fer because the crust was a new recipe on it's own. I don't own a food processor, so I made Pate Brisee (of course - this recipe showed up 3 times in my search!) with a pastry blender - a little extra elbow grease, but it was worth it. I believe I may start using this crust for pies. The tart was easy to assemble, but you need to plan ahead for it. The crust dough needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, it took about 25 minutes to slice and cook the bacon and veggies, and then it needs to bake for nearly an hour. I wasn't planning on making it last night so just started throwing it together - and then I read ahead enough to see that dinner would not be ready for our 6 PM dinner time. Oops. It was good so it's a keeper, though!

My last new recipe is from Cooking Light. Hearty Minestrone with Barley, Sage and Beans was both easy and delicious. It is most definitely another keeper.
That's all for today.
Enjoy your kitchens!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sew Fun Sunday

Ok - so it's really Saturday, but I want to try to bring this feature back. And at the moment, I do what I can, when I can. If that means posting on a Saturday, that's what I'll do.

You may remember my GFT is getting married (in less than a week! Freaking out yet?). Monkey is their flower girl and we decided I would make her dress. No, it's not quite finished yet (it needs a zipper, which I'll be putting in after the kids go to bed tonight). I hadn't worked with a pattern in many many years, so I was a bit intimidated. I bought a sun dress pattern to practice with (you may remember the fiasco here).

I ended up getting a different pattern because they didn't have the original in the smaller sizes (they still don't - I happened to be by there yesterday and looked for the heck of it).

I did finally get the sun dress made. It didn't take me as long as I expected it to after the pattern was cut out.

Adorable, isn't it (it looks tiny in this picture, but it's a 2T. haha)?

Now the only problem is getting Monkey to wear it. She loves wearing dresses, yet for some reason, she freaks out when we pull this dress out. I tried putting it on her yesterday to model it for this picture and you would have thought I was beating the child.

I've put the dress back in the closet for now. If all else fails, I can try to make her use it as a shirt next summer, I suppose.

What are you working on?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cooking up a storm

I've been going crazy in the kitchen lately. I've been loving every minute of it, though!

We found a Chocolate Lassies cookie recipe in Northwoods Sporting Journal probably nearly 2 years ago now. I finally tried them out 2 weeks ago. I didn't have enough chocolate chips on hand, but crushed up the never ending supply of Hershey Kisses we keep in the cupboard for Monkey. I didn't think I would like them because of the molasses (I'm not a huge fan of molasses), but was quite surprised to find they were mighty tasty.

The Wild Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms I made a few weeks ago is now available online.

A great side I found in Everyday recently is Rigatoni with Prosciutto and Parmesan. Not only is it ridiculously easy to make, it's extremely good.

The last recipe I tried last week is something I found in Martha Stewart Living. I'm trying to add more greens and beans to our diet. Pork Chips with Sauteed Chickpeas, Escarole and Apple fit both. And while searching for the recipe online, I've come to the conclusion I very much dislike the recipe search function on the website. I can't find it online. It's in the September 2009 issue on page 66.
I still have quite a few recipes to share, but the kids need tending.
So stay tuned.... and enjoy your kitchens!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some more new recipes

I really am trying to get back into the swing of things. The kids are making it difficult by refusing to nap at the same time. Mommy just needs a little break, guys! haha

The BBQ Barley-Chicken Burgers from a couple weeks ago were actually quite tasty. They were also a huge pain in the rear to cook. I found I'd need to use much less barley. The burgers didn't hold together very well on the grill with the patties just kind of melding into the grill grates, so I ended up losing a lot of meat when flipping. I will be trying again - with a little less barley.

I never got around to the Chicken Pot Pizza. I just wasn't in the mood so I put it back into the "to try" pile and will get to it when the weather is cold.

I have tried a few other new recipes, all from my What's Cooking Barbecue cookbook.

For our fourth wedding anniversary last week, I made something special for T. He loves bacon wrapped scallops, so Bacon & Scallop Skewers (page 40) seemed like a sure win. After a dip in a lemon, oil and dill marinade, I skewered the wrapped scallops with bell peppers of various colors and grilled until cooked through. Served with wild rice, it was delicious.

Over the weekend, I tried Sweet Maple Chicken (page 64). This marinade consisted of orange rind and juice, maple syrup, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. You also baste your meat with the leftover marinade periodically during cooking. It was delicious, as well. I was disappointed in the quality when reheated as leftovers, though. You couldn't taste the seasonings at all. So be sure to eat it all up the first time around.

And a couple weeks ago, I gave a whirl to the Pork Ribs with Plum Sauce (page 150 - this link is a recipe very similar to the one in the book). Yet another delicious meal. These were also excellent leftover.

I've been having a lot of fun in the kitchen and have quite a few more recipes to share. Alas, children need tending, so you'll just have to wait.

Enjoy your kitchens!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reflections on the Summer of 2009

As the summer is drawing to a close, I find myself thinking back about everything we've experienced in the past few months.

My Monkey turned 2 in June.

We got chickens (we've recently purchased an additional 2).

I nearly burst.

Instead, I had a successful VBAC and brought our wonderful Little Man into the world.

We then had 5 blissful weeks to spend as a family while T was on paternity leave.
We went to the ocean,

We went to the fair!

We went to the lake,

And up high in the air!

Ok.. enough rhyming... ha
We also managed a night at camp and wish we could have gone even more.

As great as the summer was, we've also been dealt some difficulties. My Pepere's Alzheimer's has progressed some more. My baby brother is in a rough patch. And my mom was just diagnosed with cervical cancer. Luckily it is Stage 0, so it's 100% treatable (we're just waiting for a consult to find out what the next steps are at this point). It's so very difficult to be 200 miles away and not able to do much more than listen on the other end of the phone....
But we thank God for the good and pray he helps us through the bad and continue to live life as full as we can.
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