Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parsnips... no really, they're good!

I know, I know... what am I doing raving about root vegetables?  I hear you.  And honestly, I'm not even sure how this one ended up in my recipe box.  But it did. And it's amazing.  If you like carrots, that sort of spicy-earthy taste, you'll love parsnips.  Love.  I hope you'll give it a try. 

Creamy Rice with Parsnip Puree and Root Veggies
30-40 minutes, serves 8-10 as a side dish

1-1/4 c rice (I used a mix of brown basmati and my favorite calrose)
4 c chicken or vegetable stock (or broth, just taste before salting the dish)
2-3 medium parsnips, diced should equal 2 cups
2 turnips, diced should equal 1 cup
4 medium sized carrots, diced should equal 1 cup
1 T olive oil
3/4 t salt
Salt and pepper to taste.
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

If you don't already have one, I strongly suggest splurging on an electric rice cooker- one with a non-stick pot will run you $20-30 at Target.  Rinse the rice in the pot then fill with water - determine the right level by putting the tip of your middle finger at the rice level, the water level should be at the first crease on that same finger.  A sweet little trick I learned from my brother the chef, works every time!

Start the rice, then on to the puree:

Cut up enough parsnip to make 1 cup.  In a large saucepan or pot, heat 1 T olive oil. Add parsnips and toss to coat.  Sautee about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned.  Add 2 cups stock/broth and cook until reduced by about half.  Surface area is the trick here... the bigger the pot, the faster the evaporation.

While that's cooking:

Start a pot of water to boil with 3/4 t salt, then cut up the rest of your veggies.  Toss the cut-up veggies into the pot of water and cook 5 minutes.  When you do this, put a bowl into the sink and fill it with ice and cold water.  You'll drain the veggies then toss them into the ice water to blanch them (stops the cooking and keeps them nice and bright looking).

While the veggies are cooling:

Pour the parsnip and stock mix into a blender (or magic bullet) and puree.  If you need to add a little extra liquid, use some of the remaining stock.  Here comes the fun part.

Put the cooked rice, puree and blanched veggies all back into the large pot over low-medium heat.  Stir to combine, add the remaining stock and season to taste.  Serve hot with a little parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Yum! 

Modified from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creamy-Rice-with-Parsnip-Puree-and-Root-Vegetables-241352
.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffing

This amazing recipe is courtesy my sister-in-law, Lindsay.  She also contributed the Irish Soda Bread recipe (scrumptious)!  We enjoyed this on Christmas and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it - finally emailed her for the recipe and when I read it, couldn't believe how easy it is.  It just keeps getting better.  Thanks again Lindsay!

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffing
Makes a 9x13 pan. 

2 boxes cornbread stuffing mix
1 lb italian seasoned turkey sausage (from Walmart, it's $1.08 in the freezer section)
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
3-4 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 cans (about 32 oz) chicken stock
Salt, Pepper and Sage to taste.

Brown the sausage.  In large bowl mix with dry stuffing mix, veggies, salt, pepper, and sage to taste.  Put in baking pan and pour chicken stock over evenly. 

Bake at 350F until potatoes are cooked, 30-45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A FlyLady Rally

FlyLady just annouced her new motto for 2011, had to share.  And a big thanks to FlyLady Katie for a quick response with their OK to share this in full with you!  For those of my friends unfamiliar with flylady.net, take 7 minutes (set a timer, I mean it) and nose around their site - or just jump in and sign up for a daily digest of their emails like I get.  Their reminders help keep our home, our family (and yes, my office) on track.

Dear Friends,
Every year we debut a new motto the last week in December. Usually by December I know what that motto will be. I have asked everyone for suggestions because finding words to rhyme with eleven is not easy. 99.9% of the responses wanted to rhyme eleven with heaven. Last night I still had no clue what our motto was going to be for 2011. When I went to bed I handed it off to my Midnight Editor! This morning I woke up with it! I love it when my Midnight Editor works overtime to keep me from stressing out! Thank you God.

I felt that rhyming eleven with heaven would be putting a level of perfectionism in our motto that would not help us to get moving toward our goal of a peaceful home. You all know how I feel about the word perfect; that adjective is left for heaven alone. That perfectionism is what causes us to procrastinate.

When you look at my cartoon character; you will see that she has on a cheerleading uniform. She is your biggest cheerleader! This is the reason I have turned our annual motto into a rally cry!

Let's Go for Seven in 2011!

For eleven years we have motivated you to do 15 minutes. I have said you can do anything for 15 minutes. Many of you have become immune to 15 minutes; you were overwhelmed by just 15 minutes. I felt that it was time to make up a new game! With our new rally cry; Let's Go for Seven in 2011! I thought you could do lots of things.

1. Set your timer for seven minutes and focus on one thing.
2. Go pick up 7 items to put away.
3. Go pick up 7 items to throw away.
4. Go pick up 7 pieces of clutter to give away
5. Make a list of 7 things that need to be done and set your timer for the first 7 minutes.
6. Make up 7 menus for the next week.
7. Sit down and rest for 7 minutes or read 7 pages in your favorite book.

There are countless ways to use our rally cry; Let's Go for Seven in 2011! Seven is a doable number. Every week we already bless our homes with seven things that need to be done.

1. Vacuum
2. Dust
3. Quick Mop
4. Polish Mirrors and Doors
5. Purge magazines/catalogs
6. Change Sheets
7. Empty all trash cans

We already have seven days in a week, seven dishtowels and 27 Fling Boogie! Let's make it a 7 Fling Boogie! Our FlyBabies on Facebook are having fun with a 7 x 7. Check out what FlyBaby Emma has done with our new motto! 7 x 7 is complete! I must say it is a lot less painless then the 15 minute bingo and the rewards are still great. I think I'll make the 7 x 7 my every day routine after the kids have gone to bed.

7 minutes tidying loungeroom
7 minutes tidying kitchen and dining table
7 minutes washing dishes/shining sink
...7 minute rest
7 minutes rebooting laundry and folding a load
7 minutes laying out clothes/packing bags/making lunches for tomorrow
7 minutes writing a todo list for tomorrow

It will take a mere 49 minutes, then I can focus on me.

I love how creative you all are! Now it's your turn to take "Let's Go for Seven in 2011!" and make it work for you! We can use our sidetracked nature to our advantage. We only have to stay focused for seven.

Are you ready to FLY with Let's Go for Seven in 2011?

FlyLady

P.S. If you don't like our new motto; please don't whine.

--------

You are not behind! I don't want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are. O.K.?

Let's Go for Seven in 2011!

Copyright 2001-2011 FlyLady and Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved, No reprint to other email lists or websites without FlyLady's permission. You have permission to forward to a friend.

http://www.flylady.net/

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding

As my friend Helen put it:  What do you do when life gives you overdone muffins?  Make bread pudding!

Yes, it all started when I overcooked a double batch of muffins.  I didn't trust my gut.  I'd been baking all day and knew the oven was retaining heat well, but I didn't set the timer at the low end of the recipe time.  The top two-thirds of them were still fantastic (but that doesn't make a very nice gift, bottomless muffins) so I needed to find something to do with them. Bread Pudding! Of course. Never made bread pudding before. Since they were cranberry-orange muffins, those flavors were in my search terms and this came up. And I already had a bowl full of orange-cranberry relish!

So I quickly chopped up the 23 day-old muffins (24, minus the one I ate, and the too-dark bottoms) and the rest is history.  Now, don't be turned off by all the from-scratch ingredients.  Everything can be made in advance, pace yourself.  The muffins are supposed to be a little dried out, so day old is good.  And you could make the relish a whole week ahead. 
 
Cranberry-Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding
Start with 2 batches (24) Orange-Cranberry Delicate Muffins and 1 batch Cranberry-Orange Relish

Middle
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c orange-cranberry relish
3/4 c chopped cranberries

Custard
6 eggs
2 c milk
1-1/2 c cream
3/4 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
2 T unsalted butter
1-2 T orange liquer (optional)

Chocolate Sauce
4 oz chocolate - I used 2 oz chopped bittersweet and 2 oz regular semi-sweet chips
1/4 c cream or half and half
pinch salt

Lightly grease bottom of 9x13 glass pan.  Cut muffins into pieces, set aside. 

Chop chocolate, set aside. In a food processor chop cranberries with relish. Arrange half of chopped-up muffins in one layer in baking dish and sprinkle evenly with chocolate and all of cranberry relish mix. Top with remaining muffin pieces. 

In a bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, and salt and pour slowly and evenly over bread. Cut butter into bits and dot pudding with it. Chill, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. (I love make ahead recipes!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake on middle rack, about 40 minutes.

Sauce (takes about 10 minutes):
In a double boiler (small metal bowl set over a small pot of not-quite simmering water) melt chocolate then whisk in 1/4 cup cream and a pinch of salt until combined well. Keep sauce warm, covered.

Serve pudding warm with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Makes 12 generous servings.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disappearing Oatmeal Cookies

Stan's favorite with chocolate chips - my favorite with tart cherries.  Adapted from the Quaker Oats recipe for oatmeal raisin (you could use raisins, but, why???)


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip OR Oatmeal Tart Cherry Cookies
2 sticks salted butter, softened
3/4  cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  eggs
1-1/2  teaspoons vanilla

1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon salt 
3  cups oats, uncooked
1  cup chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped dried cherries)
Preheat oven to 350°F. 
In large bowl, or stand mixer, beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
In large bowl mix together all but chocolate chips.  Stir butter mix into flour and oats, then add chocolate chips or cherries, mix well.  I put the dry into my stand mixer and let it do the stirring, chips/cherries and all.
I use a small cookie dough scoop to form small balls and usually fit 8 at a time on my parchment paper lined cookie sheet.   Bake 10 minutes, allow to cool 3 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.  Cool completely, store tightly covered.  
** Holiday cookie tip: store crisp cookies separate from moist cookies, or your moist will dry out and your dry will get soggy.  I use disposable foil roasting pans purchased in bulk with foil or press-and-seal.  
http://www.quakeroats.com/cooking-and-recipes/content/recipes/recipe-detail.aspx?recipeId=474

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tracy's Orange Chicken

This is one of our favorite meals. All the ingredients keep in the pantry or freezer so I always have them on-hand!

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into pieces (breast or thigh, doesn't matter)
2 T olive oil

Combine in small bowl:
1 jar orange marmalade (8-12oz)
2 T soy sauce
2 T triple sec or other orange liquor (may be omitted)
1 T vinegar (I like rice vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste, sometimes I add some Chinese chili paste too!

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok (I love my non-stick wok!), cook the chicken, allowing it to brown.

When chicken is nearly cooked, add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice with veggie of choice. Serves about 4.

** I won a Smart Chicken recipe contest with this recipe (week 5) and it will be published in a benefit cookbook for St. Jude Children's Hospital! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Delicate Muffins

I found this in one of my Mom's cookbooks when I was a teenager.  My favorite muffin, very simple and very easy to dress up.

Delicate Muffins
2 c all-purpose flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c melted butter

Combine dry ingredients and whisk. Add wet and stir gently to combine, do not over mix.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes - until just brown.  Makes 12.

My Own Variations:
Cranberry-Orange 
1-2 tablespoons fresh cranberry orange relish
1 c dried cranberries (orange flavored or otherwise, soaked in warm water before to plump).

Apple-Yogurt
1 apple, chopped small
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/2 t vanilla
1 c plain greek yogurt
(substitute 3/4 c milk with 3/4 c water)

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Being far away from Trader Joe's, I had to figure out how to make my favorite Thanksgiving condiment.  And who knew it was so easy!?  You'll want a food processor with a chopping blade.  Best made the night before so the flavors have a chance to mingle.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
1 bag cranberries
1 orange
1 t vanilla
1/4-3/4 c sugar

Rinse cranberries and pick through.  Add zest from orange.  Cut segments from orange and add (no pithy white part - it's too bitter). Add vanilla and depending on how sweet your orange is, sugar to your liking.  1/2 c is safe, but occasionally you need more or less.   As good with your Thanksgiving turkey as it is on vanilla ice cream or in Delicate Muffins.  Mmmm...

Creamy Curry Chicken

Grandmother says this is the best curry she's ever had (and that in her 82 years, she's had a lot of curry).  It's also one of my sister-in-law's favorite dishes.  As a bonus, it's dairy and gluten free (so long as your broth is too).


Creamy Curry Chicken
4 pounds chicken, cut to bite size pieces* 
3-4 T Madras Curry Powder (yellow), divided
(2) 18.5oz can Coconut Cream (look for 70% or more)
(1) 14oz can chicken broth/stock
1 t ginger paste (optional)
1 t lemongrass paste (optional)
2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in large skillet or wok on high heat. Toss chicken to coat with oil.
Brown chicken with 1 T curry powder, salt & pepper.  When liquid has almost evaporated, pour in broth and return to a boil for approx. 5 minutes (this should finish cooking the chicken).
Add coconut milk, remainder of curry powder, and remaining seasonings.  Simmer on medium heat until thickened.  Serve over steamed rice with vegetable of choice.

When it's too hot for this dish, but you still want curry... check out Joni's Curry Chicken Salad.  It's our "summer curry".

*I recently doubled this for a big family meal.  Instead of attempting to cut up 8 lbs of chicken breast myself, I called to get a price to have it pre-cut and found out they don't charge extra.  $2.99/lb to have it cut up for me!  What a time saver.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mashed Potatoes with roasted garlic, rosemary and parmesan

You know mashed potatoes are good when you fight over who gets to lick the bowl.

This is a conglomeration of recipes, so I'm calling it my own.  It's the magic that happens when you read a half-dozen mashed potato recipes on epicurious.com the week before Thanksgiving.  You could easily half this, as written it served 13 with only a couple cups leftovers.  

Mashed Potatoes with roasted garlic, rosemary and parmesan
4 lbs red potatoes
4 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 t salt

Wash, trim and cube potatoes (I peeled about 1/3 of them). Cook in salted water until they fall apart when pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat and drain, reserving about 1 cup of water.



4 heads garlic (16 cloves), roasted
1 c milk, 2%
4 T butter
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
6 T parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste (I started with 1 t salt and added from there)

Combine above in small saucepan and bring to a low simmer.  I used an immersion blender to liquefy the garlic, you could also toss it into a blender.  Mix into mashed potatoes, serve.  Hope for leftovers.

Roasted Garlic

This takes all the bite out of garlic, making it oh-so-yummy and almost sweet.

Cut the top off a bulb of garlic, exposing the top of each clove.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap in foil, leaving some air space (I put the bulb in the middle and twist up the top almost like a chocolate kiss).  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.

Use in my favorite mashed potatoes or spread on top of steak like horseradish.

Cuisinart Pie Crust

I've come to find there are a lot of recipes for pie crust out there... I don't have the patience for most of them.  Raise your hand if you enjoy cutting butter into flour.  Didn't think so.  This, however, is fantastic.  Quick, easy, and seemingly foolproof.  I've used it twice now, once savory and once sweet - changing only the amount of salt.

Cuisinart Pie Crust
1-3/4 c flour (unbleached all purpose)
1 stick (8 T) butter, cut up
3 T oil (olive)
1 t salt (reduce to 1/4 t for sweet -or- use unsalted butter and add 3/4 t)
1/4 c ice water

Pulse flour, butter, oil & salt until crumbly.  Drizzle in ice water and blend just until a ball starts to form.

Dump out onto parchment paper or a sil-pat and roll thin.  Place pie pan on top and flip the whole thing over.  Fold the extra dough under, all the way around the edge, and pinch.  Chill in the fridge before baking, 30 minutes or overnight.  Makes 1 double or 2 single crusts.

Tips:  
Make sure to cover/seal dough well when refrigerating.  You don't want any rogue odors latching on when you're not looking.
To pre-bake shells (like for cheesy chicken pot pie) prick holes around crust with a fork and bake for ~15 minutes at 375F. If bubbles appear, carefully pierce with a skewer and smooth down with a long-handled spoon.  You can also put parchment paper in the crust and fill it with dry beans or use pie weights.
If you're feeling fancy, you can seal them with an egg glaze.  Just beat an egg, brush it on the hot crust then return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  (I haven't tried this, too lazy when without is just fine... but now you know what I know).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breakfast Cookies

I adapted these from a recipe on the Cheerios website.  I liked them, Stan not so much, but he's not really a breakfast person anyway.  The cereal on the outside was still a little crunchy, like it would be normally, and the ones in the middle were just part of the cookie. 

Cheerios Breakfast Monsters

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour (toss your oats in the blender until it resembles flour)
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups Cheerios® cereal

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. In large bowl, stir together sugar, butter, almond/peanut butter, water, vanilla and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except cereal. Gently stir in cereal. (If you want crunchier finished cookies, bake these now - for softer finished cookies let the dough stand a while.) On large cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, drop dough by rounded 1/2 cupfuls (rounded 1/3 cupfuls for 15 cookies) 4 inches apart. Flatten dough to about 1 inch thick.

3. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. DON'T OVERCOOK.  Store loosely covered.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkin Crunch

A requirement at our Thanksgiving table, this is one of those recipes that has you using 14 other recipes trying to describe it... it's kind of like pumpkin pie, or cobbler, but not really, and sorta like pecan pie, but with pumpkin... when really, it is an awesome dessert in a class all it's own!  If you love pumpkin, pecans, butter (who doesn't) and cake, you're in luck. This recipe has it all, is super simple to make, and is always met with rave reviews! 

Pumpkin Crunch
1 box butter pecan cake mix (yellow will also work)
1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 -1 cup chopped pecans (or more)
1 cup salted butter, melted

Whipped cream, ice cream or whipped topping.

Oven 350. Lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.

Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.  Pour into pan.

Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Top with pecans.

Drizzle melted butter over pecans.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until light golden brown. Serve warm* or chilled with whipped topping.

*Thanks to Megan for bringing it to small group last night, giving me credit for the recipe, and prompting me to finally get it on the blog!  And it was SOOO yummy (I think I've been over cooking mine)!  Mmmm... yummy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Breadstick Snakes

Today is Alex's class party. Not being sold on all the usual sugar and creepy that accompanies Halloween, I have made it my mission to find cool alternatives. Check out these little guys - inspired by these little guys
Alex helped by rolling and wrapping the dough and by drawing the eyes on (with food coloring markers). I manned the green color mist and the carrot tongues.  They each have their own little personality and Alex is so excited to share them with his friends!

We bought wooden dowels at our local home improvement store and cut them to fit the length of my baking sheets.  Then I covered them in foil and lightly greased them with a little spray olive oil.  We used store-bought breadstick dough and rolled them a little before wrapping them around the sticks.  They baked according to directions and I removed them from the sticks as soon as they were cool enough to touch.

All lined up on a baking rack, I held them over the sink and sprayed them with Color Mist in green (they're not kidding about that overspray warning- it's so fine you almost can't tell it's there -until you add water- so be very careful.  I laughed when I blew my nose before bed and had bright green snot!).  Then, Alex used a food-coloring marker to draw on the eyes.  The markers came in a set and were a bit pricey, but they're what really made the whole process interactive for Alex.  He was able to help with the dough and with the decorating.  He's been complimented by his teachers for having excellent spacial skills, specifically the ability to put facial features where they belong, so I got to employ one of his talents.  He did such a great job.

I wasn't going to put tongues on them, but when I explained the project to Alex he informed me "Mommy, snakes have tongues" and I'm so glad he did.  They'd just be worms otherwise.  I added a little sliver of carrot for a tongue (using a veggie peeler on baby carrots, then just notched a little v out, and I had to cut a little slit in the breadstick with the paring knife before pushing the carrot into place). 

We had a lot of fun working on this project together.  As Alex drew the eyes on, he would speculate about each snake - "this one's sleepy", "this one's looking up at the sky", "this one's funny".   And we managed to get all but the last batch (9 of 36) done between dinner and bedtime.  I'd call that a success.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chicken

This is another favorite. Seems I can never make too much, as the leftovers never last long regardless the quantity.  Even our 4 year old gobbles this up!


Balsamic Glazed Chicken
1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut in strips or pieces
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper

3/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce (reduced sodium preferred)
2 T brown sugar
1 T butter (unsalted if regular soy sauce used)

Toss chicken in oil, salt & pepper.  Cook in wok until done.

While chicken is cooking, simmer vinegar, soy and sugar in large saucepan or pot.  More surface area is better.  Whisk occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, 12-14 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.

Toss chicken with balsamic sauce and stir to coat.  Let stand 5 minutes, then stir again.  Serve over rice with veggie of choice.  Yummy!!

When the weather's really nice and Stan's looking for an excuse to grill, or wings are on super sale, we'll make this like the original.  It's just not necessary to enjoying the full flavor of this simple recipe.

Modified from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Balsamic-Soy-Glazed-Chicken-Wings-236679

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Favorite Teriyaki Chicken

This is the recipe Stan requests most often (and I keep losing the paper copy, now it's in safe hands - the internet.  Whew!)

Favorite Teriyaki Chicken
1-1/2 to 2 pounds chicken, cut in small pieces
1-2 T olive oil (for cooking)

Sauce:
3/4 c water
1/2 c soy sauce (Lite if you have it)
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t crushed garlic
1/4 t ground ginger

1/2 T cornstarch
1/8 c cool water

2 cups rice, steamed.  I use Botan Calrose Rice in a rice cooker.  If you've never used one, I recommend it highly.  They're about $20 at Target, look for one with a non-stick bowl. Rinse your rice first, and then fill the water to about 1" above the rice (about the distance from the tip of your middle finger to the first crease).

Cook chicken in wok or skillet.  Once chicken is browned and partially cooked, add sauce.  Allow to boil to finish cooking chicken.  Mix cornstarch with cool water, add to chicken.  Return to boil and stir occasionally until sauce thickens slightly.  Serve hot over rice with broccoli.  Yum!

***If you can't use corn products, you can skip the corn starch: Marinade the chicken in half of the sauce for 2-3 hours, then cook it separate from the sauce.  In another large sauce pan or pot, reduce (boil out the water) from the remainder of the sauce to thicken.  Just be careful not to scorch it, since there is a rather high sugar content.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trader Joe's... in Kansas City... REALLY!!!

I know!  I'm so excited.  They're coming, really coming... I'm so happy I could cry!  I'll settle for a happy dance and a blog post though.

Read all about it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

KitchenAid's dual fuel double oven range

Kitchenaid's stolen my heart again.  It's BEAUTIFUL. And FUNCTIONAL. The only thing I can't quite wrap my head around is the price, MSRP $2,349.00.  Though, I do understand that is a reasonable price in comparison to their other models... it's just more than I've spent on all my current kitchen appliances, combined.

Add this to the list of reasons I must make myself independently wealthy.  I'll retire with my new double-oven range and bake, all day, for the rest of my life.  I'll be the crazy old cookie lady.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caramel Apple Dip

Oh my!  This is SO YUMMY, features fresh fruit (that's available year-round) and it's simple too!  Thanks to my friend Becca for inspiring me with a similar recipe!

Caramel Apple Dip

2 8oz pkg low-fat cream cheese
1 jar, 8-10oz, caramel sauce (ice cream topping)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 t vanilla
1/2-3/4 c chopped nuts, I use dry-roasted unsalted almonds

4# apples, granny smith or your favorite   
2 T lemon juice

Allow cream cheese to soften, mix in sugars and vanilla.  Spread in bottom of 9x13 pan.  Top with caramel sauce, sprinkle with nuts.  Refrigerate.

Slice apples, immediately putting them into a gallon zip-top bag with lemon juice and 2T cold water (to keep them from browning). Occasionally close bag and toss to coat.  Refrigerate.

When ready to serve, put apples in a pretty bowl and set out next to caramel sauce.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pineapple Brown Sugar Topping

This is so amazing on ice cream, super quick to make, and doesn't require anything perishable.  It's a triple threat.

1 can (22oz) crushed pineapple in natural juice
1/4 c lemon juice
3 T dark brown sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In medium saucepan, combine pineapple with juice, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the juice is somewhat reduced, about 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Spoon 2-3 T worth onto vanilla ice cream, serve.

The original recipe is for banana splits, but the topping is amazing stand-alone.  IF you have bananas, and want to add them - more power to you.  They were yummy, but not necessary (and, unlike all other ingredients they have a shelf life).

Store any leftover pineapple yumminess in the fridge and reheat for later.  (Or dish it cold onto vanilla yogurt as part of tomorrow's lunch. mmm...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hiring a designer? (or anyone)

I really enjoyed reading this article, I think the points are relevant to many different professions. 

http://www.mcwade.com/DesignTalk/2010/07/hiring-a-designer-eight-things-to-look-for/#comments

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Joni's Curry Chicken Salad

Our Cousin Joni shared this with us for lunch today.  Yummy!  She was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and I in turn am sharing with you.

Curry Chicken Pitas
2 c cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T honey
1 t curry, yellow or Madras
1 c halved grapes (we had red)
1/2 c chopped pecans
4 green onions, chopped
4 pita breads, warmed, halved
8 lettuce leaves

In bowl, combine mayonnaise, honey and curry powder. Stir in chicken, grapes, pecans and onions.  Line pita halves with lettuce; spoon 1/2 c of salad mixture into each and serve.  4 servings.

From: Taste of Home's 2002 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Best of You

Heard the song Best of You by the Foo Fighters on the radio today.  I took it to be God asking me "Is someone else getting the best of you".  Not exactly the original intent of the song, but that's how it touched me today.

I'm also reading Crazy Love in small group right now and God's really been tugging at my heart to spend more time with Him.  Reading the Bible, sure, but specifically, spending more time listening to Him.  Just being quiet in His presence.  I don't admit this often, but I do believe that God has spoken to me. (why do I think that makes me sound crazy)  At my lowest times, He has whispered to my heart what I've needed to hear most.  Comfort and wisdom no person could provide.  

In the book, there's a challenge that's stuck in my head.  The author relayed the parable of the sower... if you don't know the story, it's explained here.  He says:  Don't assume you're good soil.

Don't assume you're good soil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Analogous

Have you ever gone to use a word, then decided your audience wouldn't receive it the right way?  I hate having to dumb down my vocabulary for business, but I'm regularly given a hard time for using "big words".  So tell me... is this really so much that I must be mocked for it?

conceptualized
multiple competencies
delineate  

I was going to use the word analogous today (it was honestly the first word that popped into my head) but instead I jammed on the backspace and said "just like".  Do you know how much I attempt to avoid the word "like" as a rule? 

Maybe that's just me rebelling against my Valley Girl roots.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Galations 6

1Live creatively, friends... 4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (The Message)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

communion station?

Our church worships in a gymnatorium (aka sanctuasium).  We have our own building, it's just the design of the church... community center by week, church by Sunday.  I saw this murphy desk in a catalog and thought it would make a neat little communion station... then the tireless volunteers who set up communion each week wouldn't have to set up tables... just unlock and fold down.  You could build them custom, so they barely stood off the wall at all - or get really snazzy and build them into the wall from the get-go.  It's a thought anyway.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rosemary-Skewered Artichoke Chicken

This is one Stan found, we always serve it with Pasta with Garlic and Lemon Sauce.  There's something wonderfully yummy about the slightly crispy ends of the artichoke hearts and the silky texture of the squash and tomatoes.  This is also easy to make for a crowd, as so much of the work can be done in advance, and guests can help thread their own skewers for an interactive dinner!

Rosemary Artichoke Chicken
Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 t dill weed
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1 t rosemary
  • 2 t lemon peel (fresh lemon zest will burn, due to the oil - stick with dried)
  • 1 T crushed garlic
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 can (14 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 wooden skewers, soaked in water

Directions

  • In a large resealable plastic bag or bowl, combine the oil, dill, oregano, rosemary, lemon peel, garlic, salt and pepper; add chicken. Stir to coat; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Drain and discard marinade. On soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread the chicken, artichokes, squash and tomatoes. 
  • Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 10-15 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Yield: 6 servings.


Modified from: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Rosemary-Skewered-Artichoke-Chicken

Pasta with Garlic and Lemon Sauce

Stan actually found this recipe.  He wanted Olive Garden but didn't feel like paying for it... we always pair this with Rosemary-Skewered Artichoke Chicken.

Pasta with Garlic and Lemon Sauce

1 lb. linguine or fettuccine
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp. butter
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. lemon juice

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the garlic and lemon zest until very fragrant.Add cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook to heat through. Set aside until pasta is cooked.
Cook pasta in plenty of salt water. If fresh pasta is used, this will take only 2 minutes after water returns to boil.
Reheat sauce, adding half the Parmesan cheese and all the lemon. Adjust seasonings. Drain pasta and serve. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Get out the biggest bowl you own!  Then be amazed at how fast this disappears...

Chinese Chicken Salad
1 cabbage (nappa if the recipe will be consumed same-day)
2-3 chicken breasts, poached and cut into chunks
2-3 packages ramen noodles (oriental or sesame chicken flavor)
1 c rice vinegar (or 1/2 plain white and 1/2 rice)
1/2 c oil
1-2 c frozen peas
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
sugar, salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c sliced almonds
1 can water chestnuts (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Crunch up noodles in medium bowl, add juice from oranges, oil & vinegar, and seasoning packets from noodles. Stir and let sit.

Chop cabbage, combine in large bowl with chicken, peas, almonds and oranges.  Add noodes and mix.  Serve cold with almonds and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

Taco Soup

We call this chili in our household.  It's a great addition to a baked potato bar, turns into nachos on day 2, and is super easy to make (you can even freeze it)!

Taco Soup

In a large pot:
Brown 1 lb ground beef with 1 packet Taco Seasoning, drain excess grease

Add following and simmer for 20 minutes or more:
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
2 28oz cans diced fire roasted tomatoes (I love Muir Glenn brand)
1 can chili and lime Rotel
1 can cream corn (and sometimes some extra corn from a bag of frozen)
1 can dark kidney beans, drained
1 can white kidney beans (cannellini), drained
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans pinto beans, drained

We like to top this like it's a taco... sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro.  It's a lot of fun to serve buffet style, letting everyone top their own bowl.  You can even make it vegetarian, or add TVP to stretch your meat.

Because I can keep the ground beef frozen and the cans always on hand, this is a go-to recipe, especially in the winter.  I keep all the cans for a single batch tied up in a grocery sack in my pantry and I toss the empty cans back in the bag as I make the recipe for easy clean up.

Apricot Gelatin Salad

I got this recipe from a blog another friend of mine follows, and I would link back, but I can't find it anymore... just so you know that I'm not the one that should be credited with this wonderful yumminess.  It should, however, be enjoyed all the same:

Apricot Gelatin Salad 
1        5.5oz package orange or apricot jello
1        envelope plain gelatin or 1 small package jello
1        cup boiling water
1        20oz can crushed pineapple
1        8oz package cream cheese or cream cheese substitute 
1        15oz can apricot halves, drained & chopped
1        carton whipped topping, thawed & divided
¼       cup chopped pecans

In large bowl, dissolve gelatin in water.  Drain pineapple, reserving juice.  Add pineapple to gelatin. 
In food processor or blender, beat cream cheese and pineapple juice until smooth.  Combine with gelatin mixture.  Chill until set. 
Before serving, fold in apricots and whipped topping.  Dollop with spoon of topping and sprinkle with nuts.

Notes:
You can make this work with mandarin oranges as well for a 50/50 bar whip.  It’s a lovely treat in the middle of winter when fresh fruit isn’t readily available.  

Chewy Wheat Crackers

This recipe is from Grandmother Searls.  Use high-quality whole wheat flour for the best results.

Chewy Wheat Crackers
2  whole wheat flour
2 c oats (quick cooking or chop up regular rolled)
1 t salt
2 T sugar

1 c water
8 T butter
Combine above in a glass measuring cup and microwave until butter's melted.

Stir together, knead only to combine.  Divide in half.  Pat into 1" thick disc, roll to desired thickness. (thicker for chewier flat-bread, thinner for crispy crackers).  Cut diagonally to make "diamonds" or use cookie cutters.  Bake without removing negative area, they will pull apart when cooked.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, coarse salt, or brown sugar and cinnamon. Lightly roll to embed topping.
Repeat with other half.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.

Store in an airtight container.

Steamed Artichokes

Stan and I love steamed artichokes.  Here's how I prepare them.

At the store:
Choose artichokes that seem heavy for their size.  Purple discoloration on the petals just means it was exposed to a frost, but do make sure the stem doesn't show any signs of mold or rot.

At home:
Rinse well and cut off stem at base.  Cut off top 1/4 and trim petal tips with scissors (I don't always do this, but it makes them pretty and less "pokey").

Stand, stem up, in 1-2" of water in a pot (arrange so they hold each other in place). Add some crushed garlic, salt and lemon juice.  Bring to a gentle boil with lid slanted so that some steam can escape.  Cook until tender, test by pushing a butter knife thru the base - if it goes all the way in, you're done.  Usually, 30-45 minutes.

Use tongs to pull them out and turn them petal-side up.  Dip in garlic butter or mayo and scrape the meat off with your teeth.  When you get to the "choke", scrape it off with a spoon and enjoy the heart.  I buy 1 artichoke for each of us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Apple Sausage Strata

I created this for Christmas brunch 2003.  It was something I could just wake up and pop in the oven, and it was a big hit.  I've since made it for retreats and family gatherings with rave reviews.  (It's easy too.)

Apple Sausage Strata
1 loaf french bread, sliced 1-1/2" thick
10 large eggs
3 c half and half (if you use non-fat, spray the pan with cooking oil)
2 t dijon mustard
1 t salt

Lay bread slices to cover bottom of dish, cut to fill smaller spaces.

Whisk together eggs with half and half and seasonings, pour over bread.  Let sit covered overnight, or at least 2 hours.

Topping:
2 c grated cheddar cheese
3 apples, diced with peels on (braeburn are my favorite)
2 c cubed smoked turkey sausage (or turkey kielbasa)

Top bread with some cheese, then apples and sausage and more cheese.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes covered with foil, then remove foil and bake until bread springs back in middle (20-30 minutes more). Cool 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 8-10 hungry people.

Peach French Toast Bake

Make this breakfast the night before... stumble out of bed and pop it into the oven. TahDah!

Peach French Toast Bake
1 loaf french bread
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1 c milk
1 t vanilla
5 c frozen sliced peaches
1/2 lemon or about 1-1/2 T lemon juice
3 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Spray 9x13" pan with cooking spray.  Slice bread about 1" think and cover entire bottom of pan. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla.  Pour over bread, pressing down on any bread that floats and using little pieces of bread to fill in all gaps.

Toss the still mostly frozen peach slices with lemon juice and brown sugar.  Arrange in a single layer on top of bread and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Bake at 350F for 20 covered with foil then 20 minutes uncovered, or until bread springs back in middle.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pipette

It's not a shell, it's not an elbow, it's... a shelbow?  It's Barilla's Pipette and it's fabulous.  New favorite pasta for Macaroni and Cheese, hands down.  Go get yourself some.  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tom Ka Gai Soup

My favorite Thai dish.  A yummy blend of creamy and lime, spicy and smooth.  I could eat a whole bucket of it- and now I can make it instead of shelling out $7 for a measly bowl.

Tom Ka Gai Soup

16-20 oz chicken broth
16-20 oz coconut cream (might be labeled milk, read the label for a 70% or better fat content)
3/4 t salt
4-8 2" long pieces lemongrass, mushed some but still intact (so you can pick them out)
1 heaping t galangal (or ginger from a jar or sliced)
6-8 oz chicken, thinly sliced (cut while still partially frozen)
2 T lime juice
8 oz straw mushrooms, about half a can
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 c cilantro, pulled from stems
chili powder/paste/peppers and ground black pepper to taste

Combine broth, salt, lemongrass, galangal and bring to a boil.  Add chicken, coconut milk mushrooms and lime juice, return to a boil and add all other ingredients.  The longer you simmer, the better it gets.

I love this served over steamed Botan Calrose rice.


Adapted from: http://importfood.com/recipes/tcsoupwithcomilk.html

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cindy's Cheesecake Cups

A dear friend told me the other day that she'd never made cheesecake... and I don't blame her.  Spring pans and water baths and all that... it can be daunting.  What most people don't know is that you can make cheesecake without all that fuss.  You just need the right recipe!  Voila!  These are a family favorite.  Dress them up and they're the bell of the ball!

Cindy's Cheesecake Cups
3 8oz packages cream cheese (low fat works well)
3 large eggs
2/3 c sugar (half spenda's ok)
1 T vanilla
1 t lemon zest (optional)
1 box Nilla Wafers
foil muffin liners
1 can pie filling/topping of choice

Beat together eggs, sugar, cream cheese (softened), vanilla and lemon zest.

Line muffin pans with foil liners.  Place 1 Nilla Wafer in bottom of each cup.

Fill 1/2-2/3 full, bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, until tops are drying, but not cracked.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks (cakes can be frozen at this point).

Serve chilled, topped with pie filling.  Makes about 24.

Variation:
Pumpkin Cheesecake Cups
3 8oz packages cream cheese
3 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 c pumpkin puree (pack pumpkin)
1-1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg

Follow directions above.

Sour Cream Top:
16oz sour cream
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla

Mix well, spread over hot cakes and bake additional 5 minutes.  Cool on wire racks, serve chilled.

Easter Bread

A Russian Easter Bread (round) and Challah (long). They were marvelous! The Challah's tried and true. The Russian Easter Bread is a new recipe but sounded really interesting, from Epicurious.com.  It's dense, and sweet and Granddad's fresh whole wheat flour is what really made it WOW.  Grandmother said that I would have won a blue ribbon on the Challah, it was funny to inform her that I already had!  Hooray for a home-made Easter.
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Friday, April 2, 2010

Process This

Ran across this neat food-processor cookbook while searching bread recipes for Easter.

I think I'll save her Portuguese Farm Bread recipe for another time though.  This year, I think Easter's going Russian. I know how much I love challah bread, so this sounds really yummy!

Tomorrow I have a date with my breadmaker.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blessing my Family

So, I've learned something that I want to share with all my friends:

HOUSEWORK DONE INCORRECTLY, STILL BLESSES YOUR FAMILY!

And on that note, some confessions:
I have removed my makeup with a cotton pad and then used it to wipe down my vanity.
I have quickly swiped a dusty baseboard with a clean piece of toilet paper (dust flushes)!
I have used my son's worn-but-not-actually-dirty sock to mop up drips from bathtime.
I have scrubbed the toilet bowl without any bowl cleaner.
I have used a piece of dirty laundry to wipe down the top-inside of my washing machine before tossing it in the load.
I have used a baby wipe to clean the inside of my car (not the windows) while at a stop light.
I have used waterless hand sanitizer to get ink off hard surfaces.
I have scrubbed only the bad spots on my floor with the sink sponge before tossing it and getting a new one.
I have used the spent hand towl from the half-bath to wipe down the entire bathroom with just water before laundering it.

And you know what - it's working.  I do what I can in the moment and there's some level of forward movement.  I throw more away.  I keep less.  I give more.  I sell more.  I clean less.  Because, as it turns out, you really can't clean clutter - you can only move it.  So.  I'm chosing to move it right out of my house!

While these specific tips haven't come from flylady.net, the concept has.  You're not behind, jump in where you are.  Fling Boogie.  Fire Drill.  Weekly Home Blessing.  Zone Cleaning.  It has taken time, but I have built some core routines and am proud to say that my sink is shiny, my dishes caught-up, the laundry managed, and the house is closer to being on auto-pilot each week.  I don't feel guilty about the "hot-spots" that still exist, I don't feel the weight of mountains of clutter or laundry, and I don't have CHAOS (can't have anyone over syndrome).  I'm rather quite enjoying coming downstairs for work each morning and seeing my lovely entry table clear except for the lovely vase and flowers on it!

And my sweet hubby and son are joining in, whether they realize it or not.  My behavior (improved attitude about cleaning in general) and routines have rubbed off on them.  Hooray for teamwork and a happy, mostly clean, home.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Crochet Trim

Ah! Check out my trial run... This is so much fun, I feel like I'm rediscovering a lost art... And in the same translating my current crochet abilities to a new end product (without getting all crazy and making real clothes. which require patterns. phooey.)
Now I need some fun flannel, borrow the serger from my MIL (Get her to do it, actually. I'd be mortified if I broke it.) Baby blanket, burp cloth... I might even jazz up a sweater or t-shirt. Ooohhh... The creative juices are flowing now!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

marketing

Heating and Cooling company with temps displayed in the back window of every service van... I love it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

PB Oatmeal Cookies

Pulled this recipe off the Rumsford jar:

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Blend/whip together:
1/2 c (1 stick) salted butter
1/2 c peanut butter (I used crunchy, mmm...)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 c milk

Sift/whisk together:
1 c oatmeal
1-3/4 c all purpose flour
2-1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Stir butter mixture into flour mixture. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment, use fork dipped in warm water to make criss-cross pattern.  Bake at 375F for 7-8 minutes.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

two.sentenc.es

New e-mail policy.


I like this concept.  Treat e-mail more like SMS, assume a character limit.  Instead of trying to track characters, just limit sentences- maximum 5 sentence response.

I love the power of e-mail.  When I started in my current position, I quickly realized that my boss responded to e-mail from his blackberry +90% of the time. I started posing my questions to him in multiple choice; A, B, C. I got responses from him faster than any of my peers, even on complex issues.

p.s. Each of the choices I posed to my boss were answers I was happy living with.  He had control and I always won.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sailboats (part 1)

So, there's been an utter lack of real posts here lately.  A recipe, a link, a musing... but nothing with substance that's truly my voice. 

Well, in the process of cleaning out my inbox I ran across this conversation with my dear BFF and thought, surely, other people will laugh/cringe with me.  I can't possibly be the only one with this fear.  So, here you go, another piece of me.  (I'll have you know that when it comes to the ocean I am, afterall, that small.)

BFF: Sail boats are very peaceful by the way. I don’t know why they scare you either. Have you really escalated to that kind of control chica that you can’t let go enough to let a boat buoy you up? Lol! What would Dad say? Or is “The Other Woman” different from a Sailboat?

ME: And yes, I am totally, completely, freaked out by sailboats. For that matter, I'm totally, completely freaked out by 3 meter diving boards. A sail boat, a real one that is, asks you to not only conquer that fear, but to grasp it going 30 miles an hour on the open, and unpredictable, sea. Without a seat belt, roll cage, or helmet. I trust mechanical things more than I trust the ocean. If I want to feel the wind in my hair, I'll ride a rollercoaster.


See... I've hit water the wrong way from three feet and it's painful. Pain you don't easily forget, painful. Add speed, and many other variables, and my brain says "run away". So sailing... thanks, but no thanks. The boats are very pretty, and I've even step foot on a lovely catamaran while docked at the long beach boat show and found myself wondering for real if I could give up everything else and live on it. But no. I would want to idle in the harbor. Stan would want to see how fast it could go (and that means I'd be hanging out in the dinghy until he got back to the harbor).

My Dad's boat sorta freaks me out, except that I know that the walls of it are filled with foam so that even if it completely filled with water, it would still float enough for all the passengers to stand waist-high in water - inside of it. Which, funny story... we changed our course on the way back from Catalina once, to check out a whale we saw in the distance. My Dad wasn't paying attention to the waves... he was steering into them (ish) and I was standing in the open front taking pictures (not looking where we were going, he was driving, or so I thought). And a wave came over the bow. Completely. A 4" wall of water, right over the front edge. I was drenched. Shocked and drenched. None worse for the wear, thankfully.

But you must respect the water. The water is NOT your friend. It has no compassion, nor do the critters contained therein. Bah.

If that makes me a control freak, so be it. I prefer my water chlorinated, with high visibility and minimal unknowns.

Now. I'm going to go heat up my lunch and let my blood pressure reduce. Just talking about it freaks me out a little. I'm able to not think about this stupid fear any other day of the week. Seeing a sailboat doesn't freak me out, but having to dissect the fear, that's a little different. I'll just look at the pretty picture. Thanks.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

There's a Hummus Among Us

My favorite hummus recipes... You'll want a food processor for these - borrow one if you have to (or do like I did; piece-meal the individual parts on eBay and pay less than half retail price).

Cilantro-Lime Hummus

Unlike traditional hummus, this is a low-fat alternative, since it does not contain any tahini. Critics of hummus and cilantro have both devoured this recipe. Great with a Mexican menu.  Often found with the label "I'm not Guac." when I share it with friends.

2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (peeled if you have time)
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1 bunch fresh cilantro (washed, tearing the bunch off the stems in one big twist, discard stems)
1 small garlic clove, chopped - or 1 heaping spoon jarred garlic
3-5 T fresh lime juice (2 medium-large limes)
3/4 teaspoon salt

Purée chickpeas with sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a food processor, add cilantro and blend until smooth. (peeling the chickpeas will give a smoother end product; grab them with thumb and 2 fingers, point of pea pointing toward the palm of your hand and squeeze, toss the skin into a bowl nearby and trash).

Serve with pita or tortilla chips and carrots. Red bell peppers are also yummy!

Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Most people seem to enjoy this best cold.

(Modified from Chickpea Cilantro Dip with Grilled Pita and Carrot Sticks)



Low-Fat Lemon Hummus
This is so fresh and light with all the lovely flavors of a traditional hummus.

2 heaping teaspoons jarred garlic (or 2 large garlic cloves, chopped)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2 T plain nonfat yogurt
2 T tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Mince garlic in processor. Add remaining ingredients; blend until coarse puree forms, occasionally scraping down sides of work bowl. Season hummus to taste with salt and pepper (I like white pepper). Transfer to a small bowl and serve with pitas/ pita chips and veggies.

Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

(Recipe from Hummus with Yogurt and Lemon)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

20 worst passwords - and my new favorite toy

A new article showing the 20 worst passwords, and my new favorite toy, Wordle!:

Wordle: 20 worst passwords

Friday, January 1, 2010

Go... Somewhere!


Picture of the sign for our Go! message series at church.  Very cool.