Saturday, August 28, 2010

Today's Special: Pressure Cooker Meals

So about a week before my birthday my mom called me to chat. Sometime during the conversation she asked me what I wanted for my birthday present:

Me: Um.... hmmm.... I know I want lots of stuff... let me think for a second.

Mom: Corinne got a really cool 3-in-1 steamer/pressure cooker/slow cooker. She really likes it.

Me: I know there's something I wanted I just need to think for a second.

Mom: Has she told you about it? It's really amazing.

Me: Wasn't there some sort of fishing thing I needed?

Mom: So I have one of these 3 in 1 pressure cookers too. It's really amazing. It's ELECTRIC.

Me: Wait, what?

Mom: Yeah it's an electric pressure cooker.

Me: Really? Does it work good?

Mom: Oh yeah. You can just type in the amount of time you want it to go for and after it's done it shuts down to a "warming" mode. It's a steamer too. You can cook rice in it and use it as a slow cooker. And it has a delay cooking option.

Me: I've never even heard of such a thing! I need one!

Mom: You can think about it if you want and let me know.

Me: Nope I've made up my mind. I need a 3 in 1 electric pressure cooker for my birthday.

Mom: Ok, if that's what you really want.

Isn't my mom so geniusly talented at getting me to want stuff? It was like some sort of Green Beret tactic of making me ask for the thing she already had in mind. Those are some serious skills.

So I use my pressure cooker on a regular basis, but usually just to cook potatoes or frozen chicken breasts. But now that I had this new fancy contraption, I had to expand my mind and use it as intended... a quick one dish delicious meal producer.

I scoured the Internets and found a handful of recipes that sounded enticing and thought I would share them with you in this week's theme: Pressure Cooker Meals. Enjoy.

Corned Beef & Cabbage: This was by far my favorite meal of the week. It wasn't exactly fast at about 90 minutes, but much faster than a regular corned beef meal and definitely tasty. Plus since I didn't have to watch the pressure cooker at all, I was able to fit in a pre-dinner run . I don't know if the recipe producer had a giant sized pressure cooker or what, but I wasn't able to fit all my veggies in the pot. I will definitely be making this again.

Navy Bean Soup- This one took a little preparation to soak the beans overnight, but it was hardly time consuming or difficult. I couldn't find a 3 lb. ham shank... only a bunch around 10 pounds, so I thought maybe it was supposed to use ham hocks instead. So that's what I used. They look really disgusting but the soup turned out great. I cooked mine a little bit longer as I noticed the recipe says to cook it at 15 psi and the high setting on my pressure cooker is 9 psi. Oh, I also ended up using both my regular pressure cooker and the electric one because this made a ton of soup. If you only have one regular sized cooker, I suggest cutting the recipe in half. This was a very good soup and one I would make again. If you've never tried Navy Beans (aka White Beans) you're missing out. They are very buttery and delicious!

Ham with Vegetables- While this wasn't a gourmet meal by any means, it was a good solid meat and potatoes type meal and it was fast! If you like ham and vegetables, this would be a nice addition to your weekly menu.

BBQ Ribs- I picked up some pork baby back ribs on impulse when I saw they were on sale. Turns out you can cook them in the pressure cooker too! I think they could have used a few extra minutes in the cooker as the meat wasn't quite as tender next to the bone as I would have liked, but the sauce was great! I cut back on the sugar by 1 full cup as suggested by other reviewers and doubled the cayenne pepper (they were not spicy in the slightest). I may like this recipe even more than my regular standby. Awesome!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Shoot 'em Up

Since this is my 'random' life story, I'm interrupting my family travel log with some guns. No, not my amazingly ripped muscles (spectacular as they are...).... REAL guns. Made of steel. And power. And really tough things.

Last weekend Seth and I went out to the west desert with my parents to do some good old fashion shooting. Ok, maybe it wasn't 'old fashioned' per se, but it was fun and we liked it. However, before the shooting began we had to find some wild horses. What else were we going to use for target practice? I jest! I jest! We just looked at the horses (and maybe corralled them with our car) and admired their untamed beauty.

The wild west.

It was a very windy day... note the dust storm in the background.

After watching the horses for a while we loaded up our weapons and did some shooting... Fred style. My dad likes to mix things up a bit with rapid fire, quick draw, and timed obstacle courses. Not your average plinking by any means...

Dad starts things out with the 357 Magnum revolver.

Then it was onto the quick draw with a 9mm Smith and Wesson.

I must have been surprised that I actually hit something.

Next was the obstacle course with the AR-15. Most fun I ever had losing.

Next came the hunting rifles. I got to try out the lever action 30/30. Sweet.

We pretty much fit the profile of gun nuts.

Even Mom joined us... didn't do any shooting this time but she had the fastest knitting needles in the west!

I am the law.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crossroads of the West

So way back like a month ago we went to Zions National Park and some other places with my family. I know I said I was working on these posts a few weeks ago, but that was pretty much a lie. Unless you count vaguely thinking about the fact that I needed to post about it. But, I figure you don't really want a whole lot of blah blah blah about all my summer vacations, so just look at these pictures. They're more interesting anyway. If I waited until I was inspired in the literary realm, this story would never see the light of day.

BEHOLD... the first day...

So as we were driving down to Zions we saw this motorcycle towing a Barbie houseboat trailer. WTF?! Was it a trailer disguised as a Barbie houseboat or just a Barbie houseboat? Why, for the love of all that is good and holy would you possess such a thing?! People are INSANE.

After seeing the Barbie houseboat we got pulled over by a couple cops so a giant dump truck bed could pass us. It was HUGE.

Thus ended the first day. And it was good.

BEHOLD... the second day...

Waiting for the shuttle bus.

These kids. Sheesh.

The squirrels on the Narrows trail had no fear of humans. Seth actually nudged one with his foot and it just sat there. A few of these guys just about got stepped on!

Seth likes to pretend to hike while he's hiking.

Hiking the Narrows.

Lily and her dad. They made a pretty cute team.

I love this picture of Seth. *swoon*

Annie looks like she's crossing the river to kick my ass.

Such a cute little family. Gotta love these guys and don't even get me started with that kid.

J.R. started carrying Lily through the deeper water. She was good at playing "damsel in distress."

Group shot... minus Annie and Eric who turned back a little earlier.

Later on that night we celebrated my 30th birthday. Meh, 30 is way easier to say than 29 anyway.

The festivities were moved inside due to windy conditions (hard to keep the candles lit in a breeze). Notice my monkey face. Now THAT'S hot. Thanks for the gifts everyone, and those cupcakes rocked, Mom! I'm pretty sure I ate like 5 of them.

Thus ended the second day. And it was was good.

Waterfall Canyon: Way Better Looking than Ogden.

Seth and I tackled another local hike this weekend called "Waterfall Canyon." It's pretty much just like it sounds... a hike up a canyon to a waterfall. It was very similar to the Adam's Canyon hike, though shorter and to be honest... at least this time of year, the waterfall wasn't quite as spectacular. The waterfall was probably at least twice the height of the one in Adam's Canyon and we were told the flow is much more significant in the spring. It was still fun though especially since it was my first hike up on the east side of Ogden. The view was great albeit a little weird with the Great Salt Lake so far in the distance.

Overlooking Ogden. It looks way better from up here... trust me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Bit of a Motley Crew

Ok so there's some good news and some bad news. Good news is I've been taking a lot of pictures lately. Bad news is they're all piling up and I'm a little overwhelmed with them and don't really know where to start so I'm procrastinating in hopes that some magic fairy will come and take care of it all for me.

Alright, alright, I know there are no magic blogging fairies. So I guess that means I'm going to have to tackle this myself. To start the multitude of really amazing things to come, I thought it fitting to introduce you to my family. My dad took some family photos during our recent Zions trip and they all turned out so great! I can't wait to get these printed up and hung on the wall!

The crazy kids who started it Dad & Mom a.k.a Fred & Denise. Best parents ever. My dad loves Fresca, can you tell?

My older sister, Corinne and her family. That's my bro-in-law J.R. holding Bryce. Corinne is holding Reid.  Lily is front and center with Ella on the left. Such a cute family. Wish I could see them more often... it always seems like the kids are growing up so fast. Love all those dark brown eyes!

This is my younger sister, Annie with her husband, Eric and their adorable daughter, Belen. Aren't they the cutest? Love that these guys live so close. Makes it easier to be the favorite aunt! HA!

 It's hard to be this good looking, but we take our trials and deal with them the best we can. (But seriously... isn't Seth so amazingly handsome and manly? I love those baby blues.)

Eh, it could be worse!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


See! We do dress up... sometimes...

Not too shabby, eh?

That's 'Potato,' Mr. Quayle

Every time Seth and I drive to and from his parents' house in Idaho Falls, we pass signs in Blackfoot that read "Potato Museum." I sarcastically beg Seth to stop so that we can go see it and he always promises that we'll do so "next time". It's usually Sunday when we pass, or it's too late in the evening, or we have the cat along for the ride. The time has never been right... until today.

We went up to Idaho Falls for a quick over-nighter and found ourselves driving back home in the middle of the day on a Saturday. "Let's stop at the Potato Museum!" I said in a genuinely excited tone. "You really want to?" Seth said incredulously. "Sure! I want to get my picture taken in front of the giant potato! Plus, this may be our only chance... we can't let it slip away!"

So this time, as we drove by the sign on the freeway that announced "Potato Museum, next exit" we took heed. And it was all I ever dreamed it would be. Behold... the one and only Blackfoot Potato Museum in all its wondrous glory:

Seth with some potato machinery stuff.

My excellent potato masher displaying skills.

Seth loves potato sacks.

And the pièce(s) de résistance...

Oh yeah, I know you're all jealous. You should be.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today's Special: Smoked Salmon Burgers, Cobb Salad Pizza, Spaghetti w/ Clams & Corn, Grilled Pork Loin, & Red Velvet Cupcakes

Smoked Salmon Burgers- New Recipe. These turned out really good. The avocado mayo mixture was tangy and went well with the salmon. If you don't like fishy stuff, smoked salmon is not for you. I think regular grilled salmon would work well as a less-fishy substitute.

Cobb Salad Pizza- New Recipe. This was my first time using one of the refrigerated pizza doughs. I thought it was pretty good and would use it again. The pizza was good but the lack of sauce made it so the toppings fell off really easily. I'm not sure what I'd do to remedy that as regular pizza sauce wouldn't taste that good. I know it's not exactly healthy, but maybe ranch dressing or something like that would work. It may also work a little better to shred the chicken instead of cutting it into cubes because then the chicken's center of gravity would be lower and it wouldn't topple over the side of the pizza slice so easily. There are a lot of physics involved in cooking.

Spaghetti with Clams and Corn- New Recipe. I should've listen to the reviews on this one. There were only a couple reviews, but they all said this was too bland. I thought, " How could it be bland with all those onions and fresh herbs?" Somehow it was. It wasn't bad by any means, just not that great either. Too bad.

Grilled Pork Loin- No recipe. So I just bought a pre-marinated pork loin at the grocery store and threw it on the grill. Made some Rice-a-Roni and there's dinner!

Red Velvet Cupcakes- New Recipe. I made these and brought them to work for a birthday treat and all those guys raved all day long about how they were the best cupcakes they'd ever had in their entire lives and what did I do to them to make them so delicious and what's in the frosting and on and on and on. So they were good. Even though I don't like Bobby Flay and think he's a douche.