Saturday, September 24, 2011

The A-Z of Me!

I just found this cute little survey on Oh So Lovely, a blog I read often.  I thought I'd answer the questions and post them here.  I will even go so far as to copy her and say if you post answers to these questions, link me to them in the comments so I can check them out!

A.  Age:  42
B.  Bed Size:  Full
C.  Chore that you hate:  Cleaning the Bathroom!
D. Dogs:  I have one big dog named Bear
E.  Essential start to your day:  Something just short of an atomic explosion- I'm not a morning person!
F.  Favorite color:  Garnet
G. Gold or Silver:  Silver
H.  Height:  5'4"
I.    Instruments you play:  Piano
J.  Job Title:  8th grade Literacy teacher, but I sometimes wish it was full time blogger!
K.  Kids:  Did I mention we have a big dog?
L.  Live:  Colorado
M.  Mother's name:  Louise
N.  Nicknames:  Gertie (given to me by my Daddy) Mimi is actually a nickname- my real name is Mary
O.  Overnight hospital stays:  None!
P.  Pet Peeves:  Seriously?  I'm a teacher...I have thousands
Q.  Quote from a movie:  "It's not the years honey, it's the mileage."- Indiana Jones, "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
R.  Right or left handed:  Left!
S.  Siblings:  one younger sister, Cindy (only by 18 months), one older half brother, Bobby and an older half sister, Sherry
T.  Time you wake up:  6am under extreme duress- by myself...8am
U.  Underwear:  Please!
V.  Vegetable you hate:  tie between beets and fennel
W.  What makes you run late:  laziness and procrastination?
X.  X-rays:  teeth, kidneys and chest
Y.  Yummy food you make:  pizza, roasted tomato pasta, macaroni and cheese...
Z.  Zoo animal:  Monkeys!

We Have a Grill!

Very blurry dinner
We finally bit the bullet and purchased a grill.  After several months of research, Dev decided on a CharBroil Red.  The flames don't actually touch the food.  It has some kind of cast iron shield that conducts the heat, but doesn't allow flare ups.
Anyhoo- alls I know is that it has made some good food for us lately.
First, I threw some ordinary quesadillas on.  They came out slightly charred, crispy and delicious!  The next test was pizza.  Again, the crust was nicely charred and crispy.
Tonight I marinated some mahi in a soy, olive oil mixture and put it on.  It turned out really well.  I rounded the meal out with some zucchini fritters and grilled onions and mushrooms.  I only took one picture, and it was pretty awful.  That's what happens when you try to take a picture of your plate while you're walking out the door with it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Strawberry Banana Bread


Strawberry Banana Bread

1 ½ c. sifted flour
2/3 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¾ c. quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ c. strawberries, mashed
½ c. bananas, mashed
¼ c. almonds, diced

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; stir in the oats.  Add the oil, eggs, strawberries, banana and almonds, stirring just until no dry ingredients show.
Turn into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for one hour or til toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then turn out of pan to complete cooling.

I found this recipe on a blog before I became aware of Pinterest.  So, as usual, I copied the recipe, but not the blog it came from.  If someone recognizes this recipe, please let me know so I can give credit to whoever posted it first!  Now that I use Pinterest when I find things on the web, I always know who my source was.  If you find lots of ideas on the internet and want a way to keep them organized, you should look into it.

This turned out really well.  I followed the recipe exactly (a rarity for me), and I'm glad I did.  Dev and I had a piece right after I took it out of the oven and it was wonderful.  We put butter on ours, but cream cheese would be just as good.

Mixed Herb Butter

In this bowl I have chopped.....mint, oregano, chives, basil and parsley.  I softened a stick of butter, mixed them all in and put them it in a small glass container with a lid.

I always use salted butter to make compound butters.  I know most people say not to, but I find that it makes for a more flavorful butter.  Sometimes I'm not great at guessing how much salt I should use, and using already salted butter lets me worry about something else.

I'm roasting potatoes and carrots to go with some pork chops tonight.  This butter will go well on the veggies and the meat.

Fresh Herbs!

Fresh herb time will soon be over here in Colorado. It's time for me to start coming up with ways to use larger quantities of herbs as I harvest for the last time.

On this board I have chives (used this morning for herbed cream cheese and butter), mint (used for making simple syrup for iced tea, herbed butter and canteloupe sorbet) and parsley (also used in herbed butter and pork chops).

Sunday Morning Projects- herbed cream cheese!

So this morning, after our lovely ham and cheddar scrambled egg breakfast, I made a list of the projects I'd like to do for the day.

This yummie cream cheese was on the list.  When I was making my scrambled eggs this morning, I used the last of a container of chive-onion flavored cream cheese.  As I was putting the container in the recycle bin, I looked at the ingredients list.  It had way more on it than cream cheese, chives and onions.  It suddenly hit me that I have a whole herb garden (and chives are one of my most successful pots) and I never use them to make things like flavored cream cheeses.  I vowed then and there never to buy flavored  cream cheese again.  From now on- I'll make my own, using far more wholesome ingredients.

My first go at it was this chive-citrus cream cheese.  I had half of an 8oz. bar of cream cheese already in the ice box, so I took it out to soften it up.  Meanwhile, I headed out and gave my chive plant one last good haircut.  The weather here is getting cooler by the day.  All of my herbs are slowly wilting and turning brown, so this week will probably be the last for the outside herbs at least.  I brought in the chives and rinsed them off.  I used my kitchen shears to snip them into little pieces in the bottom of a small mixing bowl.  I ended up with too many, so I took some out and saved them for the mixed herb butter I'll post later.  Next, I added the softened cream cheese and about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.  I stirred them together well and transferred the mixture to a small glass bowl with a lid.

I'm thinking of using this not only in scrambled eggs, but also on bagels topped with smoked salmon, or even as a base for simple tomato-basil toasts.  There are hundreds of possible combinations out there, just waiting to be mixed up!

Ham and Cheddar Scrambled Eggs

So this morning I wanted something very comforting for breakfast.  Because of the significance of the day, I wanted a good breakfast, so I could spend the rest of the day being thankful for the people I love.

I decided to do some simple scrambled eggs.  Devin loves scrambled eggs.  I actually prefer fried or poached eggs, but it seems silly to cook eggs two different ways for one meal, I usually just eat scrambled as well.

I think I've mentioned this before, but I am very fortunate to have a family down the street from me that keeps chickens.  They usually get more eggs than they can use.  My husband taught their daughter when she was in 5th grade, so she brings a dozen eggs down once a week or so.  I love it!  Once you've started using fresh eggs, the ones from the store pale in comparison.

So there really is no recipe for this.  I scrambled 4 eggs with a splash of milk, salt and pepper and a dash of sri racha sauce.  The sauce doesn't make the eggs spicy, it just adds a little something that cuts the richness of the egg and cheese.  I melted a little butter over medium low heat.  To me, the secret of stellar scrambled eggs is using lower heat.  Low and slow works for barbecue and scrambled eggs!  After the eggs began to set, I added a few teaspoons of chive cream cheese.   I added it early because I wanted it to completely melt into the eggs.  Devin loves cheese cake, but he would not like chunks of cream cheese in his eggs.  If he never sees it, he won't know it's in there!  The cream cheese makes the eggs richer and adds a little extra flavor.  When the eggs were just about done, I added the chopped ham and shredded sharp cheddar.  I took the eggs off the heat and continued folding in the ham and cheese until the cheese was melted.  The eggs were served immediately with a slice of sunflower seed bread.

Very creamy and comforting on a special Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie!

Tonight my friend Kari came over for dinner.  She is my tech-yoda, and we have a great system set up where I feed her and she helps me stay up with the latest and greatest in technology.  I decided to make chicken pot pie tonight, because I saw a really cool looking pastry crust recipe I wanted to try, and chicken pot pie is one of the best crust-related dishes I know.

I found the crust recipe at Closet Cooking.  Here's a link to the recipe.  I followed the instructions exactly, and it came out beautifully.

For the filling, I totally winged it.  It was one of those ice box cleaner-outer kinda things.  I started by poaching 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs in white wine, chicken stock and water.  I strained the broth out and saved it to make the sauce.  I put the chicken on a plate in the ice box to cool so I could chop it.  I used the same pot and heated a few tablespoons of olive oil.  I dropped half a chopped white onion, some diced carrot, and some diced new potatoes in.  I seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as well as a pinch of poultry seasoning.   After about 10 minutes, I added 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt.   Then I stirred in about 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour.  I let that cook a few minutes and added about a cup and a half of the chicken broth I saved from poaching the meat.  I stirred constantly and brought it up to a bubble.  It thickened nicely.  Next I added about half a bag of frozen peas, about 1/2 a cup of heavy cream, and tasted to adjust the seasoning.  By this time the sauce was really thick.  I took the chicken out of the ice box and cut it in a rough dice.  I stirred it into the sauce.

The pastry recipe made 2 crusts, so I put the first in the bottom of my pyrex pie dish.  I filled it with the chicken mixture, and put the other crust on top.  I cut some vents in it, painted some egg wash on it, stuck it on a cookie sheet, and baked it at 375 for about 30 or 40 minutes.

Although it didn't come out of the pie dish in one piece, it was delicious!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Day

Dev and I headed to Montrose for Labor Day.  On Sunday, Dev and I joined his mom, his Uncle George and Aunt Lou, and Larry (a family friend) on a 4 wheeler trip to Animas Forks in the San Juan Mountains.  I took about a million pictures (as soon as I get them all uploaded to flickr, I'll let you know). I thought I'd put at least one here.
My souvenir from this trip was a nasty sunburn.  Apparently the sun is even more dangerous at 13,000 feet.

Pantry Remodel


 So Dev and I have been busy tackling the millions of projects we need to do in our new house.  The very first one was making a pantry for my teensy little kitchen.  We decided to use the space in the closet under the stairs.  I don't have a before picture, but I do have some afters.
Oh, and please ignore the goldish yellow horrid paint.  It's gone now.  That was the second project.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tried 2 new cheeses today-
Truffle Goat and Cocoa Cardona. Both VERY good!
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