Monday, May 31, 2010

Today's Special: Wow No Red Meat Again!

Open-Faced Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula, and Fried Egg - New Recipe. I wasn't sure I'd like this as I'm not a big fan of fried eggs. But, not only did I like this... I loved it! I actually used fresh spinach instead of arugula, but otherwise made this as written. This technique for making fried eggs made them turn out perfectly and I didn't have to mess with flipping them over and accidentally breaking the yolks. This recipe made me realize that I do in fact like fried eggs (so long as they're not touching any maple syrup!).

White Chili with Chicken- Repeat. This doesn't really taste like a classic chili at all, but it's good anyway. It has a very fresh taste from the cilantro and lime and is a great healthy meal.

Ramen Shrimp Pouch- New Recipe. This is a recipe I stumbled upon from Alton Brown on Good Eats. I used a couple new ingredients with this one... mirin and dried mushrooms. Mirin is kind of a sugary rice wine and the black wormy looking things in the picture are the mushrooms (or "black fungus" as labeled on the package :D ). Anyway, I thought this turned out pretty good and it was simple to make. It took probably about 10 minutes longer to cook than it said in the recipe (the noodles weren't cooked through yet and the mushrooms were still dry). Aside from that it all went smoothly. I thought the broth for the soup was good, though a bit sweet for my tastes... I think it's from the 1/2 cup of mirin. I'd probably cut that back next time to about 1/4 cup and up the veggie broth. Seth and I both added a bit of Thai garlic chili paste and extra soy sauce to our individual bowls just for some added spice and flavor. This was good "as written" though and a fun experiment.

Meat & Grain Burgers with Shrimp Louie Pasta Salad: New Recipe. So I thought these burgers sounded kind of weird but they looked delicious and I had a whole bunch of bulgur to use up so I thought I'd give it a try. I also branched out and tried using ground turkey instead of beef. I thought these turned out really well and weren't weird at all. I was a bit worried after I made the patties because they seemed kind of mushy, but the texture was just fine after they were cooked. I'd probably stick with using regular hamburger next time just because beef has a lot more flavor to it, but turkey wasn't bad by any means (these were actually better then next day).

As for the shrimp salad, it was exactly what I was looking for... a basic pasta shrimp salad. It was good right after I made it, but even better the next day after all the flavors had a chance to blend and the pasta was completely chilled. I'm a sucker for a pasta salad, especially ones like this that remind me of all the potlucks from my childhood. Definitely a keeper. Oh yeah, I substituted celery for the red peppers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday 13: Fish Porn

 Seth and I have been out fishing a lot lately and have about a million pictures of fish we've caught. So, I figured I'd do a photo montage of our fish porn so I could show off some of these babies! I really should make you pay for viewing these...












I just thought this was a great release shot

That's right... two fish at the same time... AGAIN!

To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Today's Special: Trying to Increase My Processed Meat Intake

Grilled Ribeye Steaks with Mashed Potatoes- So this isn't really a recipe. Just salt and pepper some good ribeye steaks and throw them on a hot grill. The mashed potatoes are an inborn Idaho man secret. Or technique. Either way, only Seth can make them at our house. Sorry, you'll have to find your own Idaho native to make them for you.

Fancy Hot Dogs- New Recipe. Don't knock it til you try it is all I got to say about this one. This was a lot like stroganoff, but with hot dogs. I added mushrooms to this which I thought worked really well. I sauteed them along with the hot dogs and onions. Also, I know you're all going to be scandalized by this, but I've found a new brand of hot dogs. I had been using Ballpark Grillmasters for a long time, but decided to try Hebrew National Kosher Beef Hot Dogs this time. They taste more like a classic hot dog and aren't quite so greasy as the Grillmasters. I can see this recipe making it to the second round.

Tuna Casserole- Old Favorite. This is one of the recipes my mom always made. Super easy and you can keep all the ingredients on hand for a quick dinner. I tried using a couple green onions in place of the minced onions in this and was very pleased with the results.

Baked Cod with Chorizo and White Beans- Repeat. I made this recipe once before and decided it was good enough to make again. This time I actually used chorizo sausage instead of kielbasa sausage and it was great as well. I like this recipe because it doesn't involve frying or spices that cover the flavor of the fish. This works well with virtually any type of white fish.

Shrimp, Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya- Favorite. I love this recipe. One of my favorite things to make. It's an easy one dish meal (if you've got a big oven-safe skillet) and makes a ton. Although the andouille sausage is good in this, I prefer to use turkey kielbasa sausage. It's not so spicy and has a more mellow flavor. Seriously, this stuff is awesome.

Bonus: Dessert

Granny's Chocolate Cobbler- New Recipe. I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman website and had to try it. I thought it turned out really good.... kind of like one of those hot fudge cakes that make their own fudge sauce. I used dark chocolate cocoa to give it even more chocolate flavor.

Tip of the Week: Garnishes

Until I started taking pictures of the meals I make, I completely ignored garnishes. I saw them as an optional ingredient and rarely ever used them. I mean, how much of a difference can chopped parsley or cilantro make to soup or a Mexican dish? Why should I bother with the toasted almonds on a casserole or a sprinkling of green onions? Let me tell you... garnishes make a huge difference!

Garnishes are actually incredibly important. Not only do they make the meal look more appetizing, they can also give an extra little punch of flavor that brings the whole dish together. There are so many meals I've made that have been dramatically altered by a seemingly small finishing touch. So don't skip the garnishes! I  guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Best Thing Since Sliced... Rice Krispy Treats?

It was an unexpected surprise to hear we would be provided with catered snacks for both the morning and afternoon breaks during a special training class at work this week.

Everyone started out somewhat modestly, not wanting to be the first one to raid the snack table. As the week went on I decided instead of sitting there getting agitated waiting for someone to give the "OK" I'd delve in right away in order to eliminate the "I don't want to look like a pig syndrome" everyone seemed to be suffering from. Since I was the only girl in the group, I figured they'd see me as the 'manners authority' and follow suit of whatever I did. And if not, at least I'd get first dibs on the snacks.

I was happy to see my plan worked flawlessly. As soon as I came in and started stuffing my face, everyone else followed suit. It completely rid us of the awkward snack tension. Score.

On the last day of training during our afternoon break, we were happy to see they'd left us giant rice krispy treats. These things were huge. Like the size of bricks. Or at least half of a brick. At any rate, you could've built a house with them. So as per the established method, I walked over and grabbed one of these gargantuan rice krispy treats for myself and sat down to start eating. Everyone else grabbed one as well, but they also grabbed plastic knives too. I watched as they sliced off thin pieces of their treats and ate them as if slicing and eating a loaf of bread.

I wondered if maybe the treats were too hard to bite so I tested mine out. I picked it up and took a bite off the corner of the cube. Delicious. And not hard at all. Why were these people meticulously slicing off pieces of theirs? It looked like a lot more work than just picking the thing up and eating it.

At this point one of my co-workers said something about me not being able to fit the whole thing in my mouth so of course I proved him wrong by taking a huge bite. I laughed and kept eating my rice krispy treat, one bite at a time. I thought maybe picking up my treat and eating it like normal would once again give these guys "permission" to do the same, but no. Every single one of them continued to fight with their treats and slice off pieces bit by bit. It was insane.

Maybe I should have followed suit. Maybe I was the one with bad manners. But dammit I've never in my life eaten a rice krispy treat using a knife and I'm sure as hell not starting now. *belch*

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday 13: My Favorite Posts

This week just happens to be my two year "blogiversary." I've written over 250 posts. Digging through 250 posts is a pretty daunting task for a newer reader so I figured I'd help you out. As a celebration of two whole years of blogging, I'm re-posting not only the entries that are my favorites, but the ones I think give the best feel of who I am. If you've been around for a while (thank you!), come reminisce with me... there's some good stuff here (if I don't say so myself!)

1. The Ping Pong Table

2. Kindergarten

3. What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?

4. What's for Dinner?

5. Arachnophobia

6. Oh Great We're Gonna Die

7. My Biggest Fan

8. One Fry Short of a Happy Meal

9. Muscle Motion

10. Danger is My Middle Name

11. They're at it Again

12. Retro-Active Fortune Cookies and the Women Who Love Them

13. My New Apprentice

So after digging through all my posts, I realized my favorite ones are about my childhood memories. Of course that's what the original theme of this blog was... to write down my life story one memory at a time. I still try to write about my childhood memories now and then, but I haven't made a concerted effort to do so on a regular basis. I'm going to try and do more of an even mix of the past and the present from now on. Get back to the roots of this blog and what makes it fun.

To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words (Or Maybe Something Like 200)

Not only did we celebrate Mother's Day last week, but it was also my mom's birthday (yeah she got ripped off with that one). We always try to make the celebration big enough to incorporate both occasions, though I guess Mom would have to be the judge as to whether we succeed or not. I think we did pretty good this year! (My computer isn't cooperating so I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking).

Happy Birthday Mom! We love you!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Don't Read This if You Are Offended by Cleavage and/or Short Hair

So I decided to cut my hair again. My last haircut was just too high-maintenance. And it looked like a horrible mullet in the morning. Or any other time I didn't spend a full half-hour on it. So I went crazy and did something I've wanted to do for a long time... I chopped it off.

My inspiration?
(I always have to yell her name like Steve Carell does when he's getting his chest waxed on "40 Year Old Virgin.)

Wow, now THAT is a lot of cleavage. (Gotta get my male readership up somehow.)

Now that my hair looks like hers, I just gotta find out where she got that dress...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Conversation With A Mildly Crazy Man in the Checkout Line at Walmart

Crazy Man: Oh sorry, I always forget to put that thing (divider bar) on the end of my stuff.

Me: That's ok, I always forget that one too.

Crazy Man: Some people come up and start loading their stuff really close to mine so you can't tell where my stuff ends and theirs starts so I push it back a little and they always freak out and say "What the hell? Why are you touching my stuff?" And then I'm like, "I'm not paying for it! Scoot back!" and then they get all pissed off even though it was their fault!

Me: Yeah people can get kind of touchy about that kind of thing.

Crazy Man: Well you're nice. You seem like a respectable person. I'm always talking to people in the checkout line and some people are like, "Why are you talking to me?" and it's like, dude, SORRY! I didn't know it was against the rules to be nice to people in the checkout line.

Me: *Courtesy Laugh*

Crazy Man: Yeah and some women are like "I'm Married" and I'm like I'm not asking you on a date I'm just TALKING. Geez! But you seem respectable.

Me: *Laughing* Yeah don't talk to me I'M MARRIED. Ha ha ha!

Crazy Man: Dude did you hear about Bret Michaels? The lead singer from Poison? (as he points to a People magazine). He almost DIED!

Me: Oh yeah that was crazy.

Crazy Man: I'm mean he's really lucky. He was almost a goner. I heard he said that he just kept thinking about his daughter and he had to stay alive for her. But man I'm such a 80s rock fan, you know? I love all of em... Styx, White Snake, Rush, Boston, you name it. But that Aerosmith is my man. He's freakin awesome. He rocks so hard.

(His stuff is now checked and the agitated checker is waiting for him to leave while starting to scan my stuff).

But yeah that Bret Michaels I'm glad he's alright. That was scary.

Me: Oh yeah.

Crazy Man: Ok well take it easy!

Me: Yeah, see ya later.

Today's Special: Let's See... I Didn't Use Red Meat This Week? Yeah, That's It.

Grilled Chicken with Mustard-Tarragon Sauce- Repeat. This is currently my favorite chicken dish. I love to eat this with "mixed spring greens" and the sauce is amazing. I've used fresh thyme instead of tarragon both times I've made this and it is really good. I'm sure you could use just about any fresh herb you have on hand (or whatever you can find at the grocery store). Try this!
Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles- New Recipe. I deemed this meal as the most adorable of all the meals in the land. HA! They turned out really good and looked beautiful. They were kind of like Southwestern quiche omelet thingies. I thought they looked super fancy but they were also really quick and easy to make. I served these with *cough* canned refried beans.
Chipotle Shrimp Tacos- New Recipe. This was pretty much the fastest meal ever. I thought it turned out really well. The shrimp was actually not spicy at all, but the chile verde sauce I bought was, so it met our standards. If you don't want spicy tacos, just use a mild chile verde and you'll be fine. Oh and I used guacamole instead of plain avocados. Also added a squeeze of lime to the final product.
Pasta with Zucchini and Toasted Almonds- New Recipe. While this recipe was really easy to make and it tasted good, I don't know that it was good enough to make again. Forgettable is the descriptive word of the day. It was however, very fresh tasting and a good meatless meal. Maybe it would've been better with basil instead of mint?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday 13: My Maladies

Here are thirteen illnesses or injuries I've sustained in my life thus far:

1. Broken wrist
2. Dislocated pinkie
3. Strep Throat
4. Shingles
5. Hernia
6. Stitches (cut head open)
7. Allergies (weeds, trees and grasses)
8. UTI
9. Pink Eye
10. Gingival Graft
11. Deviated Septum
12. Enlarged  Saggy Nose Balls (aka turbinates)
13. Torticollis

Wow I'm surprised I was able to come up with all that stuff! I'm actually pretty lucky health-wise as I hardly ever get sick.  Must be good genes. Or all that food I eat.

To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Today's Special: Cinco de Mayo

Blackened Salmon Sandwich- New Recipe. Wow this was really great. A big surprise as far as flavor and it's healthy too! I would definitely make this again.

Nogales Steak Tacos- This was the second time I've made this. So so good and easy to make. You do have to plan ahead of time (the onions and steak need to marinate overnight), but it makes for a fast meal that's full of delicious flavor.

Brats and Sauerkraut- New Recipe. So I don't know that this really counts as a recipe as there isn't much added to the brats or sauerkraut. I mainly saw "Brats and Sauerkraut" and thought it sounded really good. I served this on fancy hot dog buns from the bakery (which I later saw were labeled at 'Brat Buns'), and mustard. It was really good and hit the spot.

Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese- Favorite. I LOVE this mac and cheese. I've tried a lot of homemade mac and cheese recipes and they are usually bland and don't have much flavor. This stuff is awesome. The Dijon mustard gives it an extra little kick of flavor and matches really well with the cheddar. This is one of my favorite recipes.

Bonus: Dessert

Ginger-Lime Coconut Cake with Marshmallow Frosting- New Recipe. After looking at about a million cake recipes, I chose this one to make for my mom's birthday. It was a bit time consuming, but turned out really good. I thought it was kind of a "key lime pie" cake. The lime curd filling was really good and the frosting was addictive. I kept eating the leftovers out of the bowl... it was just like marshmallow fluff. The cake turned out a lot more dense than I thought it would, but it was still really good. It was a really beautiful cake and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday 13: My Last Meal

I thought I should get my "last meal" list together just in case I'm on death row sometime. You gotta be ready with that kind of stuff, those prison wardens don't fool around. Plus, it's the responsible thing to do. It's one of those "end of life" tasks you need to prepare. Like a will... or a life insurance beneficiary.

1. Chicken Flavored Rice-a-Roni
2. Stuffing
3. A thick ribeye steak, medium rare with sauteed mushrooms
4. Mixed Berry Pie with Haagen Daaz Vanilla Bean Icecream
5. Roasted brussels sprouts
6. Seafood Pasta from Gabor Bros.
7. Fresh French bread with butter
8. Red Iguana's Puntas de filete de la Nortena
9. Market Street's Clam Chowder
10. Humbolt Fog goat cheese with mini toast crackers
11. Mashed Potatoes
12. Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll from Thaifoon
13. Beer Battered Fries

What would YOU choose?

To see more Thursday 13 participants click here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Torture? Sure! Where Do I Sign Up?

So I know you're all out there wondering how the 5k went this weekend (just humor me OK?). We only got a couple pictures because somebody forgot they brought a camera and didn't take any pictures of the post-race. (Sorry Annie, you can wear your race outfit with bib number on Sunday when we come over and I'll take a picture of you and you can pretend it was from race day).

This is Seth showing off his muscles.

This is my "hurry up and take the picture, I'm freezing" smile.

Seth took off like a rocket as soon as they blew the start whistle. He got a new PR out of it though. He wondered why he felt so crappy the whole time and it was because he was running way faster than he normally does. Looks like he's just a fierce competitor! His time was 25:17 and he took 4th in his age group.

I also got a new PR (27:46) and finished 4th in my age group. I'm getting better! I know this is going to sound terrible, but the best part of this race was passing all the little elementary school kids. I can run longer and faster than a kid! HA! Just kidding. But those kids are funny though. They'd get tired and walk and as soon as you came up next to them they'd start running again for a few steps and then stop after you got ahead of them a few paces. Don't worry, I kept the taunting to a minimum.

Seth and I decided we should do another practice race before we do our 1/2 marathon in September. So, we signed up for the Scenic River Classic 10K in Idaho Falls next month. They also have a 5K run, a 5k walk and a kids run which I believe is a mile, so feel free to choose the race that suits you best and come join us!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Today's Special: Pioneer Woman Extravaganza (aka You're Going to Need a Gallon of Heavy Whipping Cream)

This week I decided to try out a bunch of delicious looking recipes I've seen on the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog. They're definitely not as healthy as the recipes I usually make, but some of them are worth an extra run around the block.

Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen Recipes

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Groan.- OK, if you're going to use the word "groan" as part of your recipe name, it better be damn good. And this was just average. I mean it was good, but didn't warrant the "groan." Maybe it was a case of my expectations being too high? All I know is, I'm glad I bought the pre-roasted (cheaper) red peppers instead of doing all the work and paying the extra money to do it myself.
The Mushroom Soup- Of all the new Pioneer Woman recipes I made this week, this was by far my favorite. Very quick and easy to make and it was delicious! Nice mushroom flavor and the other ingredients complimented it nicely, especially the Parmesan.
Butter Chicken- This recipe had the most rave reviews from all the PW recipes I tried, but to me it was just so-so. Nothing special. Maybe it'd be better the next day, or maybe the sauce and such would go better on pasta than on rice. All I know is, I had a butt load of sauce leftover and I didn't save it for later.
Jaden's Beef with Broccoli- This turned out pretty good. I think I should've thickened the sauce up more after adding the broccoli, but I was too hungry to bother. This was a fast dinner, but it didn't have quite as much flavor as I'd thought there'd be from the marinade and sauce. This was good, but forgettable. On a positive note, I tried basmati rice for the first time with this meal and it turned out awesome! Recipe Intermission

Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes- New Recipe. This was EatingWell's version of healthy-ish Chicken Fried Steak so I was more than a bit skeptical as to how it would taste. I thought this was awesome and turned out great, even though I completely forgot to add the cornstarch to the breading mixture. It was just as good the next day as leftovers. Mmmm.
Chili-Rubbed Tilapia with Asparagus and Lemon-New Recipe. I thought this tilapia turned out really well  although I think I went a little heavy on the spice layer (I scraped a bit off). The asparagus was good, but the lemon was a bit overwhelming. I'd cut back on the lemon juice next time.
Pioneer Woman Dessert Bonus

Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes for Two- I wanted to make a dessert using the fresh pineapple I bought and found this on the PW website. It was very easy and turned out really good. Mine doesn't look as pretty as the one on the recipe because my pineapple slices were bigger and I didn't have any pecans. Not bad for an impulse dessert though.