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Great Sushi!

My wonderful hubby took me out for sushi while we were shopping in Grand Junction today. We went to one of my favorite sushi places....No Coast Sushi. Devin had the Wicked Garden and the Wasabi Nut Crunch rolls. I had the KA (eel) and the Cougar (fried oyster). I absolutely love this place. If you are ever in Junction and looking for great sushi, this is the place to go!

If anyone knows any other sushi places in Junction, please leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for new places to check out!

Soup and Sandwiches for Dinner!

Tonight I decided to take my panini press for a spin. I hadn't done that in a while. I knew we were having the cheesy brat soup for dinner, so I figured grilled cheese sandwiches would be a good combination.

Dev just wanted gouda cheese in his sandwich. I was in the mood for something a little more...complicated.

I took a slice of Dev's homemade bread and put 4 slices of brie on it. Then I laid a few pieces of thinly sliced deli turkey on the brie. Next, I piled on some radish sprouts and 2 pieces of bacon. I slathered the other piece of bread with a thin coat of sour cherry preserves. One more piece of brie finished off the sandwich. I slathered both outsides with butter, and fired up the panini press.

I think the picture pretty much sums up how good this sandwich was.

Cream Cheese Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

These are so good, they're sinful. And addictive. And rich. And easy. And relatively quick.

A couple of weeks ago, Dev and I went to a covered dish supper for the last night of our Spanish class. One of the many wonderful dishes there was a tray of stuffed, roasted jalapenos. They were whole jalapenos, somehow hollowed out, with cream cheese piped in, and wrapped in bacon, then roasted.

They were heavenly! The pepper itself was soft and sweet, the bacon done, but not too crispy, and the creamy filling was warm and gooey. I knew then that I had to make them for myself.

I had 6 jalapenos laying around in my produce basket. I couldn't figure out how to hollow them out so they could be whole, so I halved them. Then I took out the seeds and membranes. I decided since I could cut the cream cheese into sticks while it was still cold, not to soften it. This is good, because this time of year, room temperature in my kitchen isn't nearly warm enough to soften anything! So…

Beer, Brat and Cheese Soup

Today was a good soup day. It was cold and rainy.

I sat down and looked through my soup recipes and found an old favorite. The only thing I did differently this time was using kielbasa instead of brats (because that's what I had).

Brat, Beer and Cheese Soup
From Penzey’s

3 bratwurst sausages, cooked and sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped
1 c. celery, finely chopped
1 c. carrots, finely chopped
1/4 c. flour
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c. chicken stock
1 beer (12oz)
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 c. milk or half and half
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring every so often to keep from sticking. Stir in flour; cook about 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock and beer. I didn't have 6 cups of stock, so I used 4 cups st…

Shrimp Curry and other pantry purging meals...

Earlier today I posted about New Year's Resolutions. I had another brilliant idea. I resolve to figure out what all I have in my pantry, and start cooking with it. There are 2 benefits to this strategy. The first is, of course a neater, trimmer pantry. The second is the opportunity to make room for new stuff!

Being a foodie, I have amassed some pretty odd stuff. And the sad thing is, I have no idea what all's in my collection.

So this afternoon I poked around on the shelves and found a package of curry mix. Here's a pic of it...



Ok. Go ahead. I'll wait. I know you want to make jokes about the name of the mix. It is frightfully close to gonad shrimp curry. There. I said it. Now can we get on with the post?? Thanks.

I followed the directions on the packet and combined 3/4 cup of lemon juice with an equal amount of olive oil, then whisked in the powdered spice packet. I defrosted and peeled about a pound of shrimp and put them in a dish. I poured the mixtur…

American Macaroni Salad

I have rediscovered pasta salads. I don't know why I'd forgotten about them. If you think about it, any sort of pasta salad is the perfect lunch! You can add protein and veggies, and you've got pasta! There are vinaigrette type dressings, mayo based dressings, the sky's the limit...

I took a macaroni salad to our staff Christmas Party. It was the classic macaroni salad. The only change I made to the recipe was to add sharp cheddar.

American Macaroni Salad
From Food Network Kitchens
Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
--
Cook Time:
10 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
6 servings
Ingredients
• 2 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked, rinsed, and drained
• 1/3 cup diced celery
• 1/4 cup minced red onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drained
• 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 cup diced vine-ripened tomato (optional)
• 1/2 cup prepared mayonnaise
• 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons sour cream
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus…

New Year's Resolutions

I'm starting a little early this year on my New Year's Resolutions. I've been brain-storming a few ideas, which the goal of narrowing them down and picking the top two to tackle in the coming year. Here are the 2 I thought of today:

1. Spend less time watching TV and more time practicing my hobbies (cooking and knitting).
2. Get more active- this would be good for me and the dog. We took him out for a romp in the snow this morning and now he's pooped. That equals not as hyper, which equals happier owners.

Brickle Drop Cookies

Here's one of the recipes I made last week, but didn't have time to take pictures. These turned out really well. I added mini chocolate chips as well as the toffee bits. They passed the kid test...my husband used them as "auction items" in his 5th grade class.

Brickle Drop Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) HEATH BITS 'O BRICKLE Toffee Bits

Directions
. 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 

. 2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in large bowl until blended. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in toffee bits. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto prepared …

Christmas Break!

Yay! Two weeks off...sigh.

I have a whole bunch of recipes to try AND our new Wii should be here any time now. I can't wait!! One of my goals for the New Year is to be better about posting to my blog and remembering to take pics of the stuff I cook. I've been cooking up a storm, I just don't take time to stop and document it.

Wow- this has been a random post....

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Yields:
36 cookies
These cookies are something different and great for after school with a big glass of milk.
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze (recipe follows)
Directions
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle Glaze over cookies.

FOR GLAZE:
COMBINE 2 cup…

Getting in the Christmas Spirit...

Here are some silly Christmas pics I snapped over the past couple of days.





So cute!

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour Difficulty: Easy Servings: 6
Ingredients
• 8 pieces Chicken Legs Or Thighs
• Salt And Pepper, to taste
• 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
• 1 Tablespoon Butter
• 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes
• 1 can (14 Ounces) Whole Tomatoes
• 2 Tablespoons (Heaping) Tomato Paste
• Fresh Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary
• 8 cloves Garlic
• 16 ounces, weight Pasta (I Used Cavitappi)
• Grated Parmesan Cheese, For Serving
• ½ cups White Wine (or Red Wine)
Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper chicken legs.
Heat ovenproof skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. When oil/butter is hot, add chicken legs to the pan. Using tongs, brown on all sides, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.
Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Bring sauce to …

Pecan Pie Bars

Several people have asked for the pecan pie bar recipe. So here it is. I aim to please!

Pecan Pie Surprise Bars

Base:
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 egg

Filling:
½ c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 ½ c. dark corn syrup
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1 c. chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350. Grease 13x9 pan. Reserve 2/3 c. dry cake mix for filling. In large bowl, combine remaining dry cake mix, butter and 1 egg at low speed until well blended. Spread in prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

In large bowl, combine reserved cake mix, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and 3 eggs at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed about 1 minute or until well blended. Pour filling over base; sprinkle with pecans. Return to oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

36 bars.

I followed the recipe exactly as it is written here. I don't remember from whom I stole this. I'm guessing …

Rolls- 2 batches from one great recipe!

So today I decided to do some baking. Over the Thanksgiving Break, I spent some time in Savannah with my parents. They get the Cooking Channel with their cable package (I don't here in Rifle). I watched it quite a bit at night when Mom and I would get back from the hospital. One evening I caught an episode of "Kelsey's Essentials" (that might not be the exact title). She was making homemade roll dough that could be used to make either sweet or savory rolls. After I got home, I remembered it and downloaded the recipe.
I was extremely pleased with the way it turned out. I followed the recipe exactly. It made enough dough for one batch of cinnamon rolls and one batch of dinner rolls with rosemary/garlic.
For the cinnamon rolls, I just rolled out the dough and spread it with softened butter. Then I sprinkled brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans on it. I rolled it up, cut it in one inch slices, put the slices on a cookie sheet, let them rise 20 minutes and baked them a…

It figures...

So we haven't had any snow yet, to speak of. But right after I book airline tickets to fly to GA for Thanksgiving on Monday, a huge winter storm looms on the horizon- forecasted to hit our area tomorrow night.
Why??

Late Night Dinner in Denver

Dev and I arrived in Denver about 8:30. We checked into our hotel (the Hyatt Regency on 15th Street near the mall) and asked at the front desk if there was decent sushi within walking distance of the hotel. The concierge on duty happily pulled out a map of the area and marked 2 sushi places on the map, recommending one over the other.

So we set off walking, map in hand, eagerly anticipating our late night sushi feast.

Unfortunately, we went to the spot marked on the map, but could not find a sushi place anywhere. We knocked around, trying to "use the force" and ferret out the elusive sushi place. No luck. I was rapidly losing patience and becoming grumpy (due to my grumbly tummy) and decided we'd go to the seafood/steak house we had passed when we turned off the main street.

It looked fancy enough. Willie G.'s Seafood and Steaks was the name proudly emblazoned on the sign out front. Swanky lighting and fancy tablecloths promised a gourmet birthday meal. When a…

Happy Birthday to Me.......

Wow...it's been a while...again. Sometimes I really hate it that work gets in the way of all the things I like to do for fun.

So, I turned 42 on Friday. There. I said it. To be honest, it doesn't feel that different than 41.

It got off to a very good start shortly after I arrived at work on Friday morning. I complain about quite a few things associated with being a teacher (with good cause, mind you), but sometimes magic happens. You really haven't lived until you've had 200 8th graders sing Happy Birthday to you. It was a good feeling.

The good times continued during my reading class, when my wonderful husband sent one of his students to my room with 2 birthday cards: one from him and the other from our dog, Bear.

All throughout the day my students gave me hugs and birthday wishes. AND the day ended early as my teaching partner, Christi, and I got to leave school early to do some planning. Believe it or not, we actually got some good things accomplished.

Immedi…

Random Thoughts Source

This is the book I'm reading right now. It's the source of the random passages that are popping up on my facebook page and here on my blog. I'm loving this book right now. It seems like every other page contains something I want to underline or commit to memory. I'm thinking of buying a few copies and giving them to friends for Christmas. Really- so far it's that good.

Here's another example...

Food is as good a defense as any against the outside world. The way we prepare it and offer it to others says as much about who we are as the way we dress or talk.

Shrimp and Grits with Summer Veggies

This dish was amazing! I can't believe how great it tasted, especially considering I had no idea how I was going to do it when I came up with the idea this morning after breakfast.

So there is no recipe. I just used what I had in the icebox, but I think I can walk back through what I did.

I started by making some shrimp stock. This is one of those times when I'm glad I'm one of those weird people who save various and sundry animal parts to make stock from scratch. I really think it made all the difference in this dish. I had 2 quart ziplock bags of shrimp shells in the freezer, so I put them in a 2 quart sauce pan and filled it with water up to within an inch of the top. I put it on the heat and added 1 bay leaf, 4 smashed cloves of garlic (I didn't bother peeling it), a few stalks of celery, the heal of an onion and a few whole peppercorns. I brought it to a boil, then cut it back to simmer for about half an hour. If you had time, you could simmer it longer and …

Redemption!

I needed to be redeemed after last night's dinner. I had chicken salad (that won't be blogged because it was not good) and fried squash blossoms. They weren't bad, but for all the work, they weren't great, either. I will have to think about the stuffing and tweak it a bit for next time. Less cheese, more veggies.

Tonight had to be a grand slam. Dev picked some rainbow chard out of the garden this afternoon, and as luck would have it, I had seen a recipe for swiss chard lasagna in an issue of Food Network magazine. I assembled the ingredients and gave it a go.

It turned out really well. It has tons of cheesy goodness, and the chard keeps it light. Next time, however, I think I'll add some chopped fresh tomatoes just to cut through some of the cheesiness.

Here's the recipe:

Swiss Chard Lasagna

6 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used an 8x8 pan, so I only needed 4)
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 bunch swiss chard, finely chopped, leaves and st…

Bear's Test Video

I got a Flipvideo camera this week! So I used it to film the first use of the "Furminator" on Bear. Hopefully this little device will help reduce the amount of hair we sweep off the floor every single day!

Sometimes It's Good to be Weird...

I was going to title this post "Dinner When it's too Hot to Cook," but I decided I needed to give a little more background than that.

My love for food has been with me a long time. I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware of people in the kitchen, making wonderful things.

This life long love of food has given me eccentric tastes in food, and very peculiar shopping habits. And as a result of this weirdness, my icebox has a rather odd mix of things in it at any given time. I think this is a good thing. My husband sometimes doesn't agree. Although his objection isn't to the range of things. It's more a statement about the STATE of some of those things. I do tend to forget about the things that get pushed to the back. I have some interesting science experiments going on most days... :)

Oddness in my icebox brings me to tonight's dinner. There were 2 factors greatly influencing my choices for dinner: 1- it's hotter than blazes outside, a…

The Nepal Restaurant

I am always on the look out for my new favorite restaurant! I love cooking, don't get me wrong. But sometimes I want to sit back and let someone else prepare the food. Unfortunately, I haven't had many wonderful dining experiences out here in Colorado.

Last week, however, Dev and I found a diamond in the rough. A while back (while we were looking for the perfect dog to adopt), we drove out to the animal shelter in Glenwood Springs, CO. At the turn off from the highway, I noticed a restaurant in this little strip mall called The Nepal Restaurant. I made a mental note of it and filed it away in the back of my mind.

Earlier this week, Dev and I were shopping around in Glenwood Springs (which is a fairly common occurence). For some reason, I remembered the little restaurant in the strip mall, and suggested we go eat there.

I am sooooo glad I did!

The restaurant itself is nothing fancy. The dining room is rather smallish. The decor consists mostly of posters of Mt. Everest and…

Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

I am a very lucky girl. I married a guy who loves learning how to make cheese. I happen to love eating cheese. Works out well for me, huh?

I have been asking Dev to make a batch of fresh ricotta for a few days. I've seen several ricotta recipes on blogs and in magazines, and I prefer to use home made, because it is softer and sweeter than store bought ricotta.

I used the first of the batch on pizzas day before yesterday. This morning I used a little more to make something I've wanted to try for a long time- ricotta pancakes.

I saw a special on The Food Network about different chefs' favorite things to eat. On the breakfast episide, someone said they loved the ricotta pancakes at some fancy restaurant. I watched the process and figured there wasn't any rocket science involved and I could probably do just as well at home.

I started with my standard buttermilk pancake recipe.

I usually let the batter sit a few minutes while I plug in and heat up my electric griddle. Ri…

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?? Yes She Can!

Pie crust used to be on my list of things I was terrified of. My last attempt at making a pie crust ended badly. I ended up with a sore hand from repeatedly banging it on the counter and a frankenstein-looking pie crust that was dry and tough.

Fast forward 2 years. I am standing in my kitchen looking at 2 pounds of fresh cherries that are quickly going to start decaying if I don't do something with them fast. What to do?

I had no choice but to consider a pie application. No problem, I thought. I'll just go down to the basement freezer and pull out a handy dandy store bought pie crust. Wrong. No pie crusts in the freezer. Clock ticking on fresh cherries. How bad could it turn out this time?? I have 2 more years cooking experience under my belt. I can do this. Breathe. Concentrate. Suck it up. MAKE A PIE CRUST FROM SCRATCH.

I gathered my ingredients....2 1/2 cups of AP flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and two sticks of cold butter- oh- and a glass of ice …

A Variation on Eggs Benedict...

I love eggs benedict. I always have. Unfortunately, Devin doesn't, so if I make it at home I have to make some slight alterations in order to make it palatable to him. The only way he will eat eggs is scrambled. He is also not fond of hollandaise sauce.

On this particular morning I had lots of odds and ends sitting around in the icebox, and the craving for eggs benedict hit me right between the eyes when I woke up.

For the base (where the English muffin would normally be) I split and toasted a piece of garlic/jalapeno cheddar focaccia. On that I put a slice of capicola ham and a slice of juicy tomato. Atop that I perched the scrambled eggs. To guild the lily, I added some shrimp and mushrooms in a spicy sour cream sauce. I have to admit, I didn't make it, it was leftover from a trip to a local Mexican restaurant the night before. But let me tell you, it did the trick. This was seriously good. I might order the shrimp dish again just to have leftovers to make this!

We have a furry child!!!

This gorgeous guy is ours!! Last week we adopted Bear from the Rifle Animal Shelter. I can't say enough about the wonderful people who work there. They are truly dedicated to making life better for all the animals under their care.

Bear is a 2 year old black lab/New Foundland mix. At first he was quiet and shy, but now he has come out of his shell! He came to us house trained and crate trained. However...he does not walk on a leash well. Dev is working with him constantly and I'm sure he'll get the hang of it soon.

I'm sure there will be numerous future posts about Bear's exploits. Right now he's napping at our feet while we work on lesson plans and check email. I'm sure he'd rather be somewhere riding around or playing in some water. But then again, so would we!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

This was dinner night before last. I got the idea in Rachael Ray's magazine. It was really good, and could be used with almost any kind of meat.

The process was fairly straight forward. I used some chicago steak seasoning on some boneless/skinless chicken thighs and threw them on the grill. When they were done, I tossed them with some hot sauce mixed with melted butter. I covered them with foil and let them rest while I mixed up the blue cheese sauce. It was sour cream, crumbled gorganzola, chopped chives and lime juice.

I served the buffalo chicken pieces open faced on a focaccia roll. I basted the roll with the hot sauce mixture, then put some fresh spinach on it, topped it with a piece of chicken and some of the blue cheese sauce. As a veggie side, I grilled some corn on the cob, brushed it with mayo and lime juice, and rolled it in crumbled feta. I also sauteed some fresh spinach with bacon and shallots.

It was a tasty meal, but next time instead of focaccia rolls, I…

Snacky Snacks

This is a pretty normal lunch for us during the summer. We both love cheese and sliced meats, and the bonus is no cooking or heating up the kitchen.

On this particular day I had a few slivers of mango left from some salsa I made the day before, a few slices of capicola ham, some pepperoni, cotswald cheddar, an apple and some other spreads I had made over the course of the week (greek spread and bruschetta). Over to the side you'll see the last of the veggie chips I bought at Fresh Market before we left Savannah.

I love meals like this, when you just sit around outside, sipping cold drinks and talking about nothing in particular. Here's to a whole summer full of them!

Spinach!

This is the first vegetable harvest from our garden! I ended up having to cut all the plants down, because it was starting to bolt by the time we got back from our conference last week.

So now I have about a ton of fresh spinach. I'll be coming up with ways to use this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Migas

I read a lot of food magazines. And a lot of food blogs. I ran into this idea somewhere in a magazine or on a blog, I honestly don't remember which. It's a breakfast dish, which makes it a ok in my book. I love trying new breakfast stuff.

The idea is great because it helps me clean out my ice box. I had a few corn tortillas left, so I cut them into small squares and sauteed them in a non stick skillet with some vegetable oil. After that I added some diced sweet onion. I let it go long enough to kinda crisp up the tortilla and soften the onion. Then I dumped my normal scrambled egg mixture in with it (4 eggs, a dash of half and half, a dash of sriracha hot sauce and a dash of salt). I scrambled the whole mess, then topped it with some pico de gallo.

This was really good. I'd do it again in a heart beat. And you could use any vegetable leftovers you had. You could even skip the corn tortillas and use the crumbly chips left in the bottom of the tortilla chip bag.

Tr…

Asian Inspired Chicken Salad

Every so often you come across a recipe that whether you know it at the time or not, will become a regular in your meal line up. I ran into one of these types of recipes over 20 years ago, when I had dinner at the home of my college choir director.

I remember thinking his wife was one of the most exotic cooks I had ever met. Their ice box was full of condiments, but not regular, every day condiments...they had exotic stuff in there...gourmet ketchups and mustards, odd pickled veggies, etc. I ate asparagus for the first time at their table. I also learned a tomato based marinade for chicken that unfortunately, I don't remember and apparently never wrote down. But of all the wonderful things I consumed in their company, this salad recipe was my favorite. Perhaps because it started with something so lowly, so humble...a package of chicken flavored ramen noodles.

I think every college student on the planet has eaten ramen noodles. Most of us survived on them the majority of the…

Home Again, Home Again

We are finally home from our trip to GA. Although it was hard to leave my family and friends, it is so good to be back home.

Over the next few days I will try to do some posts about the trip. I took several photos with my camera phone, so I need to upload them to my computer so I can post them.

The garden survived our absence quite well. Almost all the seeds we sowed before we left have come up. When we went out this evening and took stock, we have these things sprouting up: potatoes, tomatoes, squash (yellow), cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, carrots, swiss chard and sugar snap peas. We also have some bonus veggies coming up that we think must have been sown in gardens past: pumpkins and maybe some corn. Some of the lettuce and spinach is big enough to harvest, so perhaps tomorrow night we will eat the first fruits of our labor in an early summer salad!!

So stay tuned for trip photos, food pics and a restaurant review!!

Midnight Train to GA- Day 4

WE MADE IT HOME ALIVE!!!! YAY!!!!!

I am presently sitting in the Barnes and Noble at the mall in my hometown. The parenthood aren't quite in the 21st century yet, so we have no wifi there. All future postings will have to happen here or at Di's house (although she's in the process of moving, so even that's not a sure bet).

I'll post pics later, but the last day of driving was long. And we drove in and out of what I think was the same rainstorm all day. We got lost looking for a restaurant in Brunswick, GA.

And to answer Tammy's question about the Cosmo Quiz, I decided for the sake of marital bliss not to inflict that on Dev- yet. I'm saving that for the drive back... :)

Right now I'm focusing on the culinary adventures we shall have here in the smorgasbord of the South. I am contemplating middle eastern food for lunch, or maybe the cheese plate downtown at Galleria Espresso???? So many choices, so many calories, so little time!

Well, for now I must…

Midnight Train to GA- Day 3

Here's your random, out the window pic for the day. That is some bayou in Louisiana. We drove through quite a few today.

By far, today has been the roughest as far as travel goes. We drove in and out of thunderstorms most of the day, and hit some major traffic going through Baton Rouge. We didn't make very good time today at all. But that's ok.

We have stopped for the night in Gulfport, Mississippi. Dinner was at Koi Hibachi Grill. I love Japanese steak houses. Is that bad? How come stuff I grill at home doesn't taste like that? Probably because I don't use 2 pounds of butter flavored oil per pound of protein.

We are in for the night. Right after we checked in, we were treated to a summer thunderstorm. I loved it. We don't get many of those in Colorado. This was a real toad strangler- lightning, booming thunder and heavy, heavy rain. It's so good to be back in the South!!!!

Well, except for my hair. Right now it looks like a fro.

Oops Again

I forgot to talk about dinner.

We have stopped for the night in Huntsville, TX. And yes, we're still in Texas. I know TX is a big state. One look at any map will tell you that. However, until you are driving through it, you really don't appreciate how massive it is. It just keeps going forever and ever.

We stopped in a little town called Chillicothe, TX at a pecan stand. We didn't buy any regular pecans (because they were $10 for a quart sized baggie), but we did buy some Bourbon Praline Pecans. They were yummie, until we got down the road and looked at the list of ingredients. Bourbon flavoring was the last one. Bleh. I did see one of my friend Damon's cookbooks for sale there, though. That was cool.

And now I'm sitting at the Holiday Inn Express in Huntsville, TX, after having dinner at a local seafood place. I had a combo platter of fried shrimp and oysters. Dev had the grilled fish. Mine was good, but his was better. When am I going to get over the …

Midnight Train to GA- Day 2

Day 2 of our cross country drive began having breakfast at our motel. We were staying at the Baymont Inn in Amarillo, TX. I don't recommend doing this. It was a less than favorable stay.

After getting our key from the front desk last night, we went to our room and were rather rudely greeted by the couple that already paid for that room. Back down to the desk we went....

Then at around 6:30am this morning, a little man came and banged on our door, delivering a machine to get rid of the stale cigarette smell in our "non-smoking" room. Nice.

The desk clerk told us we could come down between 6:30 and 9:30am for hot breakfast. We rolled down the stairs about 8:00, and took a look at what they had to offer.

There were institutionally oven baked scrambled egg (consistency somewhere between rubber door mat and foam mattress), biscuits, sausage gravy, sausage patties, apples, oranges, various pastries, cereal and a waffle maker. Not too bad, by motel standards, I guess. I ha…

Midnight Train to GA- Day 1

So Dev and I are driving back home to GA over the next 4 days. My plan is to take a little time each night and chronicle the events of our days on the road.


That's the traditional "Sixteen Candles" pic we take before all road trips. Here's Dev attempting to remove all the bug entrails from the windshield during one of our pit stops...


We have another tradition on road trips. We always stop and take pics of each other standing near the state name signs. This is the one I took of Dev as we crossed from CO into NM.


The first day of the trip was relatively uneventful.

We breakfasted (is breakfast a verb? I guess it is now) on leftover pancakes. Believe it or not, I actually planned it that way. I wanted there to be minimal clean up. I love it when a plan actually works, don't you? Another totally out of character plan that seems to have worked thus far is packing a cooler so we can have picnic lunches. Traveling is ridiculously expensive, what with hotel stay…

The Garden is In!!!!!

It has finally warmed up enough here to plant the garden! I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen this year. We knew we had to get it planted before we left for GA, but the night time temps were still below freezing up until a few days ago.

We planted sugar snap peas, spinach, carrots, swiss chard, lettuce, potatoes (red and blue), tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. In the deck planter box we put grape tomatoes, basil and oregano. I also put in 2 lemon grass plants in the corner of the yard.

We've been composting since we moved in, and we were able to use quite a bit of it to till into the garden soil earlier in the spring. It made some beautiful soil.

Gardening is hard work. I've never planted a garden like this. I've lived in apartments most of my adult life, so my gardens have always been in containers- no weeding or hoeing necessary!

Hopefully I'll remember to take pics along the way as our garden begins to grow. Dev has been working like a mad man,…

A Different Twist on Breakfast for Dinner

So we worked in the garden all afternoon long. I was sorely tempted to order take out, but then I remembered I had eggs in the ice box- so why not have breakfast for dinner??

I have always been a big fan of this. Breakfast is comforting. Breakfast is usually easy. Just the ticket for tonight, after bending and stretching and playing in the dirt.

I brushed corn tortillas with olive oil and put them under a low broiler until slightly brown and crispy. I put sausage on Dev's and a slice of capicola ham mine. I topped the meat with custardy, rich scrambled egg (eggs, a splash of half and half, a dash of sriracha pepper sauce and some salt), grated pepper jack cheese and some of my pico de gallo from earlier this week.

So good and so easy. It just doesn't get much better.

Chicken Quesadillas

One of the great things about grilled chicken is making sure you grill enough to have leftovers to play with for the rest of the week.

These quesadillas were made Monday with the leftover chicken from Sunday. It doesn't get any easier than shredding the chicken and grilling it between two tortillas with some cheese. I made some pico de gallo (chopped tomato, chopped jalapeno, chopped red onion with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then a liberal handful of chopped fresh cilantro) and topped it with some sliced avocado and sour cream. Very yummie.

New Feature!

My husband started a blog for his class. This was good, because I learned about a new gadget I could install on my own blog. Now you can search for any post on this blog by typing a keyword in the search box on the upper right hand side of the main blog page.

So if you want to see the blog entries that deal with strawberry rhubarb, just type that in and it should pull up those posts. I guess this means I'm going to have to get better at labels. Sometimes I just forget to add them. Who am I kidding? Half the time I forget to post at all, much less with a tag....

Hamburgers

Burgers are one of the things I find most challenging as a home cook. Every time I've tried to make a burger at home, it has always turned out dry. Then I try fillers and they taste like meatballs instead of burgers.

Today I decided to try something new to see what happened.

I went to City Market and bought a pork shoulder and some beef chuck steaks. I cubed up the meat, seasoned it with salt, pepper and BBQ seasonings and asked Dev to run it all through the grinder for me. I used half pork and half beef.

The resulting burgers were amazing! The pork kept the texture soft and juicy, but the beef flavor was still there. I topped mine with the BBQ sauce I made earlier. Normally I would also go for cheese, but tonight it was all about the meat.

I was really happy with the result. I can't wait to try other combinations of ground meats. Maybe next time I'll try a lamb/beef combo. I bet you could even saute some spinach and grind that in there as well. Hmmmmmm....

Ice Cream and Cobbler

Today was the day. I took my new ice cream maker for a spin. I used my tried and true vanilla ice cream recipe (from my "Ben and Jerry's" ice cream book.

I like the new machine. It's just as loud as my old machine, but a little easier to use. The lid has a much bigger opening for pouring in the ice cream base. It also has a larger capacity. When the ice cream was finished, it was also easier to scoop out into a container- I didn't waste as much.

I decided to use the last of the rhubarb in my freezer and make some cobbler. The filling was 1/2 lb. of strawberries, hulled and quartered, plus about 2 cups of sliced rhubarb. I mixed the fruit with 1/2 c. of sugar and 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch. I let it sit for a few minutes, then stirred and added about 1/4 c. of port. While that sat and festered, I mixed flour, oats, sugar, salt and pepper and pecans together, then poured on enough melted butter to stick it together. I put it in the freezer for a few minutes to…

BBQ Sauce

I love this BBQ sauce. I've blogged about it before (click here to see the original post). It has a great smoky sweet flavor. I made it today because we were going to throw some burgers on the grill tonight and I like BBQ sauce on my burgers.

I don't think I'll ever buy bottled sauce again.

My next project is ketchup. I'd like to try my hand at making it, so I can control the amount of sugar in it. When I find a good recipe, I'll be sure to pass it along!

Veggie Lasagna

This weekend I made a big pot of marinara sauce, and what better way to use some of it than a small pan of veggie lasagna? I don't really have a recipe for this. It just happens every once in a while.

The marinara sauce is easy. I saute one small onion, some anchovy paste (shhhh- don't tell Dev), carrot and celery and red pepper flakes for a few minutes. I add a couple of cloves of chopped fresh garlic. Then I add about half a small can of tomato paste (or a few squirts of ketchup if I don't have tomato paste) and let it cook for about 5 minutes. After the tomato paste has had a chance to fester a few minutes I add a few glugs of red wine (if I have it) and let it reduce a little. A 28oz can of crushed tomatoes lands in the pot after that. I salt and pepper it and let it simmer on the stove top as long as I can stand it. This weekend's batch simmered about 3 hours.

For the lasagna I roasted some mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini and red onion slices. When they…

Is It Summer Yet?

Wow. You'd think with a brand new computer I'd be blogging all over the place. Apparently not. I could blame in on the last few hectic weeks of school. And it is partly that. When we get home from school, we fix dinner and then fall into a semi-vegetative state in front of a baseball game or Top Gear or something else.

I've been cooking up a storm lately. This weekend I whipped up a batch of home made marinara and used it to make a pretty darn tasty veggie lasagna. I even made a swiss and bacon quiche to get a jumpstart on breakfasts this week. Tonight I made grilled chicken tacos with corn/jalapeno salsa. Tomorrow will be Santa Fe Quinoa Chicken Salad. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pics and blog the results. I did take pics of the lasagna. The tacos were gone by the time I even thought about the camera. Oh well, you can't win 'em all!

Brand New Toy!!

This is my first official blog post using my new MacBook Pro. So far I am very impressed. Well, except for one thing. I can't seem to get my iPod Touch to sync with it, because I already synced it with my school computer. I guess the Apple Tech who calls me tomorrow will have to explain that one to me.

Anyhoo...this is my test post for not only my MacBook, but also iPhoto. I uploaded some pictures I took of the yard a few weeks ago, and I have been wanting to post them here. So without further ado, here goes nothing......



Is It Friday Yet??

Some weeks are tough. But some weeks are even tougher.

This has been a tough week.

I lost a student. One of my 8th graders was killed in a car accident last Thursday. Even typing it doesn't feel right. It bounces around inside my brain and refuses to settle down.

Morgan was such a wonderful boy. He was sweet and always smiling. I never heard him say anything mean to any of his classmates, in spite of the fact that some of them treated him like dirt. He never once acted cool, but then again, he never worried about being cool. He was Morgan. He was extremely tall, and liked it that way. Everyone else was "shortie."

As a teacher, you see kids come and go every year. You never really think about something happening to one of them. But this is the second student I've lost since I started teaching in Colorado. Last year I lost a first grader to an ATV accident. It takes the wind out of your sails. It is exhausting to worry about what effect it will have on your…

Sushi Sasa

Poor Devin. Everytime we go to a new place, the first thing I want to do is scout out the sushi situation. I love sushi. I mean, I really LOVE sushi. And I really do feel guilty about dragging him along all the time, but not quite guilty enough not to do it. He assures me that he likes it and it's fine with him. But I'm not so sure sometimes. I love him for lying to me, though. :)

I did some advanced sushi research before we left for Denver, and Sushi Sasa showed up on several best of lists. And pretty much by accident, on Wednesday after we toured the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, I asked the guy at the desk on the way out if there was any decent sushi nearby. And imagine my surprise when he mentioned Sushi Sasa was just around the corner!

Just to make sure I was good and hungry before we went in, we made a pilgrimage to the REI flagship store (which is just across the street from Sushi Sasa). This was a beautiful compromise for Devin and me. He gets to run arou…

Vesta Dipping Grill

During my research for our trip to Denver, I came across the Vesta Dipping Grill on more than one list of the best restaurants in Denver. So I took a chance and booked a reservation there online.

The ambiance of the place is great. Our reservation was for 7:45pm, so it was all softly lit and candle-like, you know, romantical stuff.

The menu covers lots of territory. I linked to their page above, which lists their full menu. I had pretty much already decided what I wanted to get, but it took a little time there for Dev to make his decision.

I ordered as our appetizer the Vesta Roll, which was a tuna loin, rolled in toasted sesame seeds and panko, then quickly pan seared. It was perfect. A great way to start a meal...fresh and clean tasting. It was served with a sweetish-miso-soy dipping sauce.

For my entree, I ordered the duck breast. It was served with truffled farro and bacon sauteed brussel sprouts. Each entree comes with 3 sauces. You either take the ones suggested with it on…

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

This is the view from the evening (event) entrance to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Dev and I visited Wednesday morning...along with every school aged child within 50 miles of Denver. Ironic for two teachers on spring break- TRYING TO AVOID REMEMBERING THAT THEY WORK WITH CHILDREN EVERYDAY. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

What a neat museum! We went to see the iMax movie "Arabia." It was simply breathtaking! Narrated by Dame Helen Miren (sp), it was made by a young film maker from Saudi Arabia. He has been attending film school in Chicago, I think, for the last 7 years. It glossed over a bit of the uglier side of the regions history, but as a travel piece it was gorgeous.

The other exhibits at the museum included an Egyptian mummy room (really cool), regional diorama rooms for Africa, Australia, etc., a small insect exhibit, an educational room about space (with cool 3-d model projections and stuff like that), a Native American exhibit and a prehis…

The Tattered Cover

Dev and I are both book store freaks. We simply can't walk by one without going in and killing an hour or two.

As we were both doing a little research before our trip to Denver, independently, mind you...we both ended up putting the Tattered Cover Bookstore on our lists. We didn't figure out until we were there that we both wanted to go.

We went to the downtown location, which has to be the coolest. It's in the 16th Street Mall area, on the corner of 16th and Wynkoop. It is huge, and it's covered with books. Plus, it has a cool coffee and tea shop right as you walk in the door.

We went twice during our visit, both times in the evening. I can't think of a better way to wind down after a full day of sightseeing. As usual, we separated the minute we walked in the door...Dev wanders off to case the joint...I walk directly to the cookbook section. An hour or two later, we will wander around and look for one another, just to check in.

We both showed remarkable const…

The Gregory Inn

When Dev and I began planning our trip to Denver a few weeks back, we discussed our itinerary before we discussed where we would stay. Remarkably forward thinking for us, actually. After looking at the map, we decided to stay in the "LoDo" area of Denver, which I think stands for the lower downtown district- or the older part of town. We looked up bed and breakfasts and came upon a little gem called The Gregory Inn. This picture is the view of the Denver skyline from our room.

I have to admit that as we drove off the highway to it, I was concerned. As in most American cities, the area of town where the Gregory is located was once a very posh address, but as the city has grown, the poshness left with it. To give you an idea, the Greyhound bus station is across the street. Nuff said.

But I'm so glad we hung with it. While you're inside, you completely forget where you are. We were met by the man that I assume is the owner (he lives in the house next door). I th…