Friday, December 25, 2009

Today's Special: Dec. 20-26th

First of all, I know I've said this before, but EatingWell is my new favorite website for recipes. I don't know how it's possible that they've come up with so many awesome recipes that are fast and easy. Not only that, but almost everything I've made tastes so good! And it's healthy! I've been consciously trying to watch my daily calories and I swear since I started using the Eatingwell website I've not only eaten the best food I've had in a while, but I'm eating a lot healthier too. Seth has lost over 10 pounds without even trying! The only hard thing with using these recipes is sticking to the suggested serving size because the food is so good. I supplement all the meals I've made with lots of vegetables instead of having the main dish the only thing on my plate. Plus if I'm diligent in dividing up the meal into the suggested portions, I get leftovers!

Sunday: Sesame-Orange Shrimp with Brown Rice & Sugar Snap Peas- New Recipe. This turned out really good, probably one of the better Asian-y type meals I've made for awhile (unless you count the peanut noodles from last week...). I used Minute Brown Rice instead of the regular stuff because I wanted to try it to see if it was any good. Fortunately I couldn't tell the difference between it and the normal stuff and it took 10 minutes to cook instead of close to an hour like usual. I'll probably keep buying it. I was also excited to find that I had a spare bag of sugar snap peas in the freezer. They went great with this. I'm definitely buying more of those this week. So yeah, this whole meal took about 15-20 minutes.

Monday: Salmon with Pepita-Lime Butter and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnut Brown Butter- New Recipes. I liked both of these recipes. The lime in the salmon recipe was pretty strong, but not necessarily in a bad way. I just don't think it paired well with the brussels sprouts I chose. I don't know if I'll make this exact recipe again just because the pepitas aren't exactly the easiest thing to find (had to pick them out of a trail mix). Oh, and I've started keeping frozen salmon fillets in the freezer. They're pretty cheap and a good staple for a quick dinner.

I liked the brussels sprouts recipe the best. I used almonds instead of hazelnuts because that's all I had. I also just used some unthawed frozen sprouts instead of fresh ones. Seth said they were "too dry" but as I've mentioned before, he's got a dry food complex. I'd make them again.

Tuesday: Steak Diane with Creamy Mashed Cauliflower- New Recipes. Both of these recipes turned out really well. Not a super fast dinner, but not too bad... under an hour. I used boneless ribeye steaks & portobello & regular button mushrooms for the Steak Diane. The mashed cauliflower was better than expected, although next time I think I'll cut back on the amount of liquid I add. Seth, who as I've mentioned before is a self-proclaimed cauliflower hater, LOVED this. He ate all the leftovers. He's liked two of the cauliflower recipes I've made recently... I think that's enough to make him a cauliflower enthusiast.

Wednesday: (Kelly's Chili)- This is my go-to chili recipe. I made a double batch of this for a Christmas lunch at work (I work with a bunch of men who don't cook stuff) and everybody told me how good it was. It was the first thing to disappear and I swear they just about licked the crockpots clean. I used 3 jalapenos (3 for one batch- 6 for the double batch) and omitted the brown sugar (makes it too sweet) and mushrooms (weird for chili). Seth was disappointed there was none left for him. This might get on the menu again next week.

This picture doesn't do the chili justice. It looked way better in real life.

Thursday: Christmas Eve Party- I brought  Scalloped Potatoes from America's Test Kitchen. It was a new recipe and it turned out really good. If you're going to make these, I'd suggest cooking the potatoes all the way through in the pot before the final bake.

Friday: Waffles with Bananas & Pecans- I made these for breakfast on Christmas morning. It's one of my favorites. Dad seemed to really like them too. Glad I made extra :)

Bonus Recipe: Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies- I made these for our Cousin Christmas Party this year. I think the name is really dumb, but the brownies rock so I don't really care. I don't like to add a ton of stuff to my brownies. This time I doubled the recipe and added about a cup of Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. I've also made them with peanut butter chips which were good as well. Just add a scoop of vanilla icecream on top and some hot fudge to make it even better!

These look really dark because I used dark chocolate cocoa... they're not burnt, I swear.

p.s. It's really hard to take appetizing photos of food. Those cookbook & food magazine photographers are geniuses.  Maybe I just need more hand models to hold forks. Or maybe I should just use fake food.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Boobs & Christmas Trees

A couple weeks ago we went to the tree lot at The Boob Theatre (I'm sure you can see why we call it this) and picked out a little Christmas tree. It was fun, but fairly uneventful, except for the part where Seth used his man-skills to start up the lot owner's 4 wheeler for him. I was so proud.

The Boob Theatre

I just posted this one because he looks insane. He was really just taking the trash out.

Pretending to put the Christmas tree skirt on, even though I'd already done it 5 minutes before this.

The finished product. That is Gracie's new favorite spot. She likes to look at the tree.

We managed to get the tree up and decorated without killing each other, which is always a plus. It looks totally different from last year's.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today's Special: Dec. 13-18th

Monday: I had an actual meal planned for tonight but there was a spur-of-the-moment online Wii Mario Kart party starting right when I got home so we had to hurry and scarf down some grub. Seth had shrimp flavored Mama noodles (like Ramen but way better... get at your local Asian market) and I had Vanilla Almond Shredded Wheat. It's one of my new favorite cereals. We supplemented our meals with popcorn drizzled with olive oil and salt & pepper... Seth's creation. Tastes like fresh corn on the cob!

Tuesday: Peanut-Ginger Noodles- New Recipe. Didn't have time to do the grocery shopping like I usually do (had to go to the dentist after work) so I scrounged this up for dinner. I really liked it... my new favorite peanut sauce noodle recipe. Very smooth sauce and just the right amount of spiciness. It's possible my taste buds were more lax than usual because I was starving to death and half my face was numb, but I digress.

Wednesday: Moroccan Skirt Steak with Roasted Pepper Couscous-New Recipe. This was really good and a nice change of pace. I used skillet steak instead of the skirt steak because I couldn't find it, but the skillet steak worked just fine. This entire meal took probably 15 minutes tops.

Thursday: Mediterranean Tuna Panini- I've made this before and it's awesome. Best tuna sandwich ever. I completely forgot to take a picture of it, but it pretty much just looks like a tuna sandwich. Their recipe is a little crazy and talks about using cans and pans and other crap to squish it like a regular panini sandwich, but I just grilled them up in the George Foreman. Try using a food processor for all the chopping and such, it works much better than hand-chopping especially for the little stuff like capers and olives.

Friday: Quick & Easy Chicken Enchiladas- Good old standby recipe. Special request from Seth this week.

Bonus: Eggs on Toast-Since I forgot to take a picture of the tuna panini I'm giving you a bonus recipe this week. I technically made this for breakfast on Sunday. It's an old recipe my mom used to make when we were kids. Use the Basic White Sauce recipe I linked to and add 4-5 chopped hard-boiled eggs. Put about 1/2 cup of sauce on top of 2 pieces of toast and waa laa! Breakfast!

One of my new favorite discoveries is frozen vegetables often labeled as "steamers." They come in bags that you can just throw in the microwave and heat up. It's fast and doesn't use up more dishes (I pour them from the bag onto the plate). Plus frozen veggies are cheap and taste really good. Those sugar snap peas I got this week were amazing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Streamlined Woman on the Go

I've tried about a billion times to consistently workout early in the morning. Usually I don't even do it for 1 day. I get really pumped up the night before and then when I wake up I'm way too sleepy and end up getting up late like usual.

The thing is, I feel much better working out at night. It's my peak time. But, it's just so hard to come home after working all day long, hungry and tired, and squeeze in a workout. Especially when there's a hungry husband waiting for some grub. The last few weeks have been especially tough for some reason and I knew I had to stop slacking off or I'd lose my motivation completely.

Seth has been working the extreme early shift at work (as in, he has to be to work by 6:00am). For a few weeks I'd been waking up with his alarm and drifting in and out of consciousness for the next hour & a half or so until my alarm went off. I finally decided I might as well get up when he does seeing as how I'm usually more awake then, than I am when I wake up again on my own later. Plus if I actually got up that early, not only would I have time to work out, but I'd also have plenty of time to get ready so I wouldn't be rushing around all morning.

So far I've gotten up early to work out every single day since last Wednesday (well, not counting the weekends... I have to take a break sometime). Somehow the workouts seem harder. Probably because I'm not completely awake yet and my body isn't as warmed up as usual. But I'm slowly getting used to it. Sadly, the apartment gym doesn't open that early so I'm stuck doing DVDs. Which isn't so bad, but I really liked doing the spinning bike and working in a run on the treadmill on occasion (ok I only ran on the treadmill like 3 times).

The good news is, my mornings go a lot smoother now. I get my exercising out of the way so I don't have to worry about doing it later, I'm more consistent, and I actually leave for work on time. The last 2 days I even had time to make myself a smoothie! And I don't feel any more tired or worn out during the day. I guess my point is, if you've got the motivation, working out in the morning is a pretty good way to go. We'll see how long I can keep this up!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

These Chompers Don't Take Care of Themselves

I know this is going to sound really weird, but I love my dentist! I'm sure most of you out there know how hard it is to find a good dentist... especially one that isn't crazy. I've had my fair share of weirdo/crappy dentists so it was a relief to finally find one that does good work and is normal.

My first dentist was my most memorable. He looked like Gene Wilder (you know, completely insane). He was really creepy and none of us liked him much (my mom was so-so but somehow felt obligated to keep going to him). He had a mural on the wall... you know those naturey wallpaper murals? It was a scene with a marsh and ducks or something and a bunch of his patients had signed it with messages like, "You're the best dentist ever!" and "We love you Dr. X!" My sisters and I always wondered who these people were. My guess was the dentist wrote them all himself. We were all happy when he took a trip to practice dentistry in Africa for several months. We convinced Mom to find someone new. Sweet.

So the new dentist wasn't much better. I don't remember much of what he looked like except for the fact that he looked way less crazy than Dr. Gene Wilder. We thought this dentist would be way better because he had TVs installed above the chairs. Let me tell you the TVs weren't worth it. His work wasn't all that good and once he called me (or was it Annie?) a "cute little booger." Ew. Anybody who refers to me as a 'booger' is not my friend. I only ended up visiting this dentist a couple times because by that time in my life I was close to being old enough to have my own insurance and make my own appointments.

After crazy Dr. Boogerman I didn't go to the dentist for a few years. Call it laziness, call it stinginess, call it what you will. I was mainly pretty sure I'd have cavities and I was too poor to pay for them, so I just avoided the whole situation. Plus by this point I hated dentists. My teeth usually hurt more after I got them fixed so I figured I'd just wait until one started hurting before I went in because it would end up feeling the same anyway.

Once I moved out and got my own apartment I finally went back to the dentist. This time I had a referral for a dentist whose office was more of a "dental spa." Being a chick, I thought "cool! I love spas!" So I went. I liked him alright... not crazy or anything and the paraffin wax hand treatments and face massages were nice (except when they massaged my earlobes because it reminded me of that 'Friends' episode where Chandler's boss doesn't wash his hands when he goes to the bathroom and rubs Chandler's earlobe and thinking about it made me want to start laughing so I had to concentrate really hard on keeping a straight face). But ultimately this guy sucked. He filled a couple cavities for me and as I mentioned before, they ended up hurting me and giving me problems after I had them fixed. And I seriously had to come back to the office at least 3 times whenever he had to fix something. What a pain.

So I went searching for another dentist. Again. I asked this lady Linda that I worked with if she liked her dentist. She raved about him and gave me his info. I was a little skeptical but figured I'd give him a shot.

Dr. Brent Baker, that's his name. His office could use a bit of an update, but I can completely ignore that because he rocks. What happens if he finds something wrong with my teeth? BAM! I'm all numbed up and gassed and fixed in under an hour. And my teeth don't hurt after he fixes them. And he explains everything to me so I know what's going on. He also usually does a lot of the cleaning and such himself instead of having the hygienist do it. Also, he has the nicest receptionist in the world. Her name is Kim and she is the friendliest woman on the planet. It's like talking to my grandma. She always looks so happy to see me and always says goodbye when I leave... I almost expect her to run around the counter and give me a hug or something. She's done this every time I've gone in, even the very first visit.

So if you're in the market for a good dentist, look no further. Dr. Brent Baker is your man. Tell him I sent you and give Kim a hug for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today's Special: Dec. 6-12th

Monday: Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Proscuitto- This was a new recipe. Not quite as amazing as I'd hoped (a little bland). Don't think I'll make it again.

Tuesday: Breaded & Baked Chicken Drumsticks and Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing- These were both new recipes and it ended up being the most disappointing meal I've made for a while. Neither of us liked this. Looks pretty though.

Wednesday: Squash, Black Bean, and Goat Cheese Tamales -I wanted to try making tamales and these sounded pretty good. As a warning, these were time consuming, though not necessarily hard to make. I couldn't find canned or frozen squash so I cooked some as suggested in the recipe while I made the batter and filling. I took step by step pictures for anyone who might want to try making these. I thought they were good, though I don't know that I'd go through the trouble of making them again. They weren't THAT good. Maybe you can try them out if you're really bored and have nothing else to do, or just want to try making something crazy. It was a fun experiment.

Step-by-Step Tamales

This is what the "batter" looks like... looks more like a dough to me.

Soaking the corn husks in hot water (the plate & juice kept them from floating)

The filling... no, it's not much to look at.

You put a 1/3 cup of the batter on a softened corn husk and spread it out.

Then you put about 2 tbsp of the filling on the batter.

Shape the filling so it's long and skinny and top with 2 tsp. goat cheese.

Fold up the long sides of the corn husk so it brings the batter together...

Put the long sides back down and it should look like a taco.

Fold the short ends together...

Then one of the long sides...

And the other long side. Should look like a burrito now.

Secure with a strip of corn husk tied in a knot (or you can use string).

Get a big pot and put a steamer basket in it. Put enough water in the pot so it touches the bottom of the basket. Put each tamale in as you wrap it... they should stand up on end.

Once you get all the tamales done, put the lid on and steam for 1 hour.

The finished product! Aren't they pretty? The goat cheese was the best part. Mmmm.....

Thursday: Portobello and Beef Patty Melt with Oven Sweet Potato Fries- These were both new recipes and both were delicious. It was very quick and easy to make. We used the grill for the burgers instead of the broiler and it worked just fine. Oh, I also used a full pound of hamburger and kept all the other measurements the same... just made one extra burger.

Weekend: Chicken Tostadas- I was planning on making Crispy Turkey Tostadas with Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Salad, but the Internets decided to break right at dinner time and I hadn't looked at the recipe close enough to remember how to make this, so I just made tostadas with shredded chicken, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, avocado slices, and green onions. They were kind of hard to eat and tasted just so-so. I'm sure they would've been a lot better had I been able to follow the actual recipe.

This week's winning recipe was the Portobello & Beef Patty Melt with Oven Sweet Potato Fries. No contest. Though, like I said, the tamales were good too.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brilliance Knows No Time

Whenever I get an idea for a blog post, I want to sit down right away and hammer it out. This doesn't work out so well because I usually get my ideas in the middle of the day when I'm working. You know, at my job. That I get paid for. I should sit down with my boss and convince him to let me blog-for-pay for a few hours during the day. I'm sure he'd totally go for it. Especially after reading all this gloriously fabulous material.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wii Won!

So last night Seth and I got all dolled-up and went to my company holiday party. We got to the Hilton hotel downtown at the end of the "social hour" and to our dismay the parking at the hotel was full. So, we hurried and parked across the street in a pay lot. The line to pay at the little kiosk was huge and people are generally clueless about how to use them, so I convinced Seth to just forget about it... we'd come back and pay later.

We get inside, find a table and go about eating and socializing with my co-workers. After a lag in the conversation, Seth decides he should go pay the parking fee and I go stand in line to get us some drinks.

When I finally got back into the main dining room, I noticed they'd started calling out names for a prize drawing. I walked over to our table and everybody was like, "Karen! They called your name! Go up there!" At first I thought they were just screwing with me, but then realized they were being serious. "What? What did I win?" "Just go up to the front of the room and draw a number!"

So I walk up to the front and draw a card from the lady standing there and wait for a moment with all the other "contestants." About this time Seth comes back and has a confused look on his face. I motion for him to come over and proceed to tell him they'd picked us to compete in a dance contest. I wait until I see the panicked look on his face before I tell him that no, we're not really in a dance contest, I've just won something and I'm waiting to find out what it is. He breathes a sigh of relief, tells me to win the Wii, and sits back down at the table.

I'd chosen prize #4 so it didn't take them long to get to my number... yup, you guessed it! I won the Wii! It was awesome! I never win anything! (ok except for that one time when I was like 8 years old and won a giant box of chocolates from Kara Chocolates at the mall). Anyway, we'd kind of been wanting a Wii, but not bad enough to actually fork out the money to buy one (hello, fishing stuff is way more important), but now we have one and it was FREE! Sweet! I hooked it up last night but we didn't actually play it. We just relaxed and basked in the faint glow of its gloriousness. Or maybe it was just the red "power" indicator light.

Anyway, we're totally going to be onto you if you suddenly start coming over to visit us. And we decided we're cool with that.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today's Special (New & Improved!): Nov. 29-Dec. 5th

So, I know that a lot the recipes I post have links to pictures and such, but I thought it would be fun to start taking my own pictures of the meals I make (did you see my pies?!). I may not be completely religious about doing this, but I'm going to try. I figure having pictures of all this delicious food might entice you to give the recipes a try. Another one of my evil plans.

Also, some of you may look at these recipes and think, "of course she can make all this fancy stuff... she doesn't have kids or other important things sucking up her time." Well let me tell you, I'm lazy. This stuff just sounds fancy. Most of it is really easy to make and is pretty quick. It has to be, because I'm pretty much starving by the time I get home from work and I don't want to waste my evening at the stove. I'd much rather waste my time watching tv, clicking around on the Internets, or torturing myself with a random workout video. I do use a handful of uncommon ingredients here and there, but I don't buy anything that's insanely expensive or can't be found at your neighborhood grocery store or Wally World. Plus it's kind of fun to try new things every once in while. Who knows, you might find something you like!

Monday: Pan-Seared Salmon with Avocado Remoulade, Herbed Couscous with Tomatoes, and Steamed Asparagus: Holy crap that salmon was really good! It was a new recipe and I'll definitely be making it again. The couscous was good, but nothing spectacular. I'll probably just stick with my Spinach & Onion Couscous from now on. I've made it once before and liked it a lot. Also, this whole dinner took probably 15 minutes to make. Not bad eh?

Tuesday: Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter with Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower: The gnocchi is one of my favorite new recipes. The cauliflower was a new recipe and Seth, who normally doesn't like cauliflower, was raving about it.

Wednesday: Savory Carrot & Tarragon Tart with Steamed Asparagus: This was a new recipe. I liked it, but it took a long time to prepare... mainly because of the 1 hour total cook time. I didn't realize this when I chose it, but if you've got the time, it was good. Also, having a food processor really helped with the prep.

Thursday: Lemon Garlic Pasta with Shrimp & Mixed Vegetables: I've made this recipe before, but this was the first time I've added shrimp. I added it to the recipe where it tells you to cook the garlic.

I had other additional meals planned for this week, but other dinner invitations came up, so those recipes will be moved to next week. If you've never made any of these recipes before and you want to try just one, I vote the gnocchi as my favorite with the salmon coming in at a very close second.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Failure Patch

That's what I've started calling the fly patch on my fly fishing vest. You can usually tell how good the fishing was by how many flies are on my failure patch. If there are one or two, the fishing was pretty good. Three or four flies... I probably caught a couple. More than four: FAIL. No fish. Unless it's been a really long fishing day, but even then there are no guarantees.

Seth and I went out fishing on the Snake River over Thanksgiving break. The first day of fishing went well and we both caught several whitefish and a rainbow or two. The failure patch collected a couple flies, but remained pretty sparse for the most part. The second day of fishing did not fare so well. We both caught a couple fish during the span of several hours, but it took a lot of work to do so. By the looks of my failure patch, you'd think I came away skunked. Luckily the copper "Prince-of-a-Bugger" streamer I tied on to use while I made my way over to Seth when it was time to leave actually produced a nice rainbow. Good thing too. There wasn't much room left on my failure patch.

The Failure Patch

Oh and just for the record, I caught two fish at the same time. Two whitefish to be exact... one took my bitch creek nymph and the other took a green hornet. I am the master.

You'd look insane too, if you caught two fish at the same time.

Seth and a pervert brown. It got hooked in the butt.

Seth and his 17.5" brown. Got it right in the mouth with a white woolly bugger.