Friday, June 26, 2015

It's All About the Food

We've been enjoying some rain, to cool off from heat, at the end of the day.  Well, sort of enjoying it. It's not only a bit more rain than is good, like street flooding and high, fast rivers, but it's a bit more than rain.  We've had some palm-sized hail fall out east.  Palm-sized, people.  And not baby palms, big, adult, farmer palms! There was a tornado that touched down on the other side of town from us; Colorado gets tornadoes (a lot of them) but seldom in the city.  Today, temps will be down, but storms will again roll through.  It's the perfect day for cooking - and I have quite the list of things to get done:  a dessert for tonight, a loaf a bread, a loaf of raisin bread and some muffins (because I have bananas that are past their prime.)

I've been pinning recipes like a crazy person, now it's time to use them.  I did some last week and because I was a total potato this week and didn't plan, I carried over some recipes I was too lazy to do in last week's heat.

I watch a couple shows on the Food Network - Pioneer Woman (I'm kind of a groupie with her), being one of them.  I've finally figured out that while I watch, I should have Pinterest open to snag recipes.  That was the case with this pin.  She provided a couple options to the basic recipe, one of which was making Butterscotch Pudding.  I was planning to do the White Chocolate Chip version, but was doing gluten-free dessert, so I went with Butterscotch.  I'm hit or miss with Butterscotch, but after eating this pudding, I figured out I'm hit or miss with artificial Butterscotch, because this pudding was equally buttery and caramely.  It was amazing!  I topped mine with lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream.  My family opted to top their whipped cream with mini chocolate chips.  It is a definite do-over!

Tortellini is a freezer staple for me, along with ham steaks, smoked sausage and rotisserie chicken. Those types of things come in handy when you don't plan a weekly menu but need to feed the family.  Enter this Ham & Cheese Tortellini.  It was quick and easy and totally cheesy goodness.  The recipe calls for Swiss, which I love.  I had one person in the family comment, What's that bitey flavor?"  To which I replied, "Swiss cheese."  Back came, "Oh."  So, I'll take that comment into consideration next time, no matter how much of a perfect match Swiss and ham make.  I'll cut the Swiss with Monterrey Jack, both good melting cheeses.

I was supposed to make this for In-Law Dinner last Friday but the garage sale and my parent's move sort of cut into the day.  We cancelled the dinner and I moved this Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato Cream Sauce to Monday.  It was a meal that was easy to pull together.  My only issue, the sauce was too thin.  Really good, but too thin.  When I think of a cream sauce, I think of a sauce with some body to it; some stick-to-it-ness.  Next time I make it, I'll drain off almost all of the fat - probably leaving a couple tablespoons for the flavor it provides, and go from there.  You could also try to reduce the sauce before putting the chicken back in.  I served it with angel-hair pasta to soak up the sauce, but orzo would work too.

We go through a lot of granola, so it's become a homemade staple these days, heaven knows I have plenty of recipes to try out.  I've made the kind you can grab by the handful to munch on and kinds like this Vanilla Almond Granola, that is more sprinkle on yogurt, ice cream, in a smoothie or in a bowl with milk.  It's good and light and crispy.  You can taste the toasted almonds and oats.

I love Oven Tacos - something about the sort of soft bottoms, crunchy tops and melted cheese - but never make them.  I don't know why.  So when I was menu planning, I pulled this Oven Tacos recipe.  They were just how I like them - soft, crunchy, gooey.  I didn't use the called for two pounds of beef, instead going with one pound beef and a half a pound of ground pork.  That combined with the rest of the taco-filling ingredients, made a ton of tacos - close to 20; filling them about a third full.  We topped them with lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and tomatoes.  I found I also had this one pinned, and they are almost the same (the one I made has green chilies and chopped onion), so I deleted the second one.

With the Oven Tacos above, the blogger provided a Taco Seasoning mix recipe (I'm making almost all my own mixes these days, they're too easy not to.)  I had a previous recipe of Taco Seasoning on hand when I made the Tacos, so I used that.  The recipe used up what I had, so I mixed up another batch using the new recipe.  Now, no menu plan for this week, combined with some freezer staples, raw tortillas that needed to be used up and a couple left over taco shells and I had dinner for last night.  I grabbed my rotisserie chicken from the freezer, some leftover brown rice, and a tablespoon of the new Taco Seasoning (with a bit of chicken broth to keep the chicken/rice mixture moist while it reheated) and boom, I have chicken tacos.  Served up with the same toppings as the Oven Tacos, that seasoning was really good!  It may become my go-to; I think I have one more pinned to give a try, but that one has bumped out my previous go-to.

Besides my baking for today, I have a couple end-of-business-day things to get done, so I'd best move on.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We Are

We are passed the busy weekend - the garage sale went well.  Friday was definitely better than Saturday, but we sold stuff (met the goals the kids set) and what was left over was packed up and dropped off with Goodwill that night.  My parents were moved out and over - not without its hiccups, but it's done and they are getting settled into their temporary digs.  I am the keeper of their dining room set, the delivery of which - combined with the garage sale - created a huge mess in my house.  The proverbial dust has settled, and I now have actual dining room furniture in my dining room; a first in my 25 years of marriage.  Father's Day was spent with both families - one for brunch and one for dinner, with a small break to celebrate the father in my own house.

  • We are never to old to enjoy a good splash after the rain.
  • We are selling all kinds of things - this one is "solb"
  • We are father and son (who is also a father.)
  • We are playing "Chubby Bunny" and they can have at it.  The only way you'll get me eating marshmallows is fire roasted and dipped in Bailey's.  Or day-old Peeps at Easter.
  • We are trying to earn $10 in the "Eat six saltines in 60 seconds" challenge.  Only the challenge-issuer won, and that was because he didn't have to pay out; he, too, couldn't complete the challenge.
  • We are family, minus one sister.
  • We are just happy to be playing in water.
Happy Wednesday,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We Are

We are heading into a busy weekend - to start it's Father's Day; are you ready?  Me?  Ah, yeah, not so much.  We are participating in our neighborhood's Garage Sale, which is Friday and Saturday.  Also, on Friday and Saturday my parents are moving out of the house they've been in since we moved here, when I was finishing up 3rd grade.  They'll be packing up and moving in with my sister while they wait for their new home to be finished.  My 16 y.o. will be attending the Steubenville of the Rockies conference, which is sleep-away and all weekend.  And I have some of my own torture to deal with Friday afternoon.  Fun stuff.

  • We are the Official Race Photo from the Steamboat Springs Half-Marathon.
  • We are deep into the real struggle to perfect this trick, or even get it down once.
  • We are doing our best to survive #Droughtlander.  Funny how reading eight 1000+ page books for eight months can make a 200+ page book run like a hot knife through butter.  This is my second book since completing the series and I'm enjoying it - the book, not the lack of Outlander.
  • We are pouting because we were not invited up on the couch.
  • We are playing on sister's phone and discovering the joy that is Snapchat
Happy Wednesday,

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday Food

I know it's a Saturday.  What's up with this?  This is the time I didn't have yesterday, as I spent it doing a lot of cooking.  Monday's and Friday's seem to be the day I do some major food prep - baking bread for the week, mixing up snacks, etc.  Yesterday it was granola bars, cookies, mock apple pie, a smaller batch of chicken stock, along with the usual Friday night In-Law Dinner.

So, as food was the theme, I'm carrying that over to today's post (that should have been yesterday's) with my weekly Pinterest finds.  Trying out recipes that are quick to pull together, but tasty (usually), too.

Given that I've pinned more to Pinterest, lately, than I've been cooking, I see next week's menu planning being Pinterest heavy.

I love a good cakey brownie; I'm not much for the gooey versions.  The photo for these Irresistible Fudgy Brownies caught my eye - they looked cakey and rich.  And they were.  Rich, dark chocolate and cakey enough to make again.

Indiana's state pie seems to be some sugar cream concoction.  I've made this one a couple times, and it's good.  Really good actually.  I came across this Sugar Cream Pie recipe and it was different from the first, so naturally I have to try it.  Holy moly, as much as I loved the first one, I love this one, too.  It's creamier, custardier, thicker, caramelier.  It's just more.  Caution, because you blind bake the crust on this recipe, cover the edges on the blind bake and during the second baking or they can get over dark - over dark can be bitter.  This pie will definitely make the rounds again!

With the exception of this Mug Cake recipe (because it is two boxed mixes mixed together, along with water), mug cakes aren't exactly cost effective.  But if you're making a mug dessert, you're not interested in cost, you're interested in satisfying a craving.  I have a couple in my repertoire, the Mug Cake above and these brownies, which actually serves two.  I have several mug desserts pinned, and decided to try a couple this week.  Up first, Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Mug.  If more than one person is wanting chocolate chip cookies - make a batch of cookies, because each mug takes one egg yolk, whereas a full batch takes two eggs - see cost effectiveness.  I also had these chocolate chip mug cookie recipes pinned: this one and this one and outside of the photos, all three recipes are identical, so I deleted the superfluous ones.  They were a little more cake and a little less of that chocolate chip cookie dough taste I like; but good, and if you're only making one, I say go for it.  I would used mini chips, instead of regular sized.  I also didn't cook them in a mug, I used ramekins.

I love my morning coffee.  I love it full of creamer.  Flavored non-dairy creamer.  And I'm well aware how full of chemicals they are, but I can't seem to wean myself from them.  I've tried.  I have a more than a couple creamer recipes pinned; I've tried this one and this one and they are okay.  For me, with making my own pantry staples, I have to weigh the cost of making it, versus is it better for me/my family versus flavor factors.  This Cinnamon Bun Coffee Creamer, compared against the two I've tried, uses cream and milk and flavorings versus sweetened condensed milk and flavorings.  The Cinnamon Bun creamer seemed a little thicker and creamier than my other recipes.  I almost always have cream on hand, so I think it could be cost effective, compared to store bought versions, and maybe even versus the older pins, sweetened condensed milk being the cost-variable ingredient.  I liked the flavor and the texture enough to try to not only make again, but to adapt my older pins to cream/milk bases.

This Dark Chocolate Mug Cake was all about satisfing a craving.  The link has links to three other flavors, which sound good.  The chocolate was rich and the cake moist.  I used a ramekin and had to cook it 20 seconds longer than suggested.  I was expecting it to take less time than a mug, I'm not sure how a mug would have cooked in 40 seconds.  Nonetheless, it was good and will be a go-to for single serve cravings.

Happy Saturday,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

We Are

Last week, heaven knows why, I had a thought about these "We Are" posts.  I realized they are my own versions of a Week in the Life that Ali Edwards does - she'll do one in August, and I'll be snapping along as it should be interesting given we'll be prepping to send off one child to college, another into his first year in high school.

I then thought about how I use these photos.  Some are the reason I do Project Life® - they are just a photo or two of random events (like my keeping track of what I'm reading.)  Perfect to slip into a weekly or monthly review and pop into a yearly album.  Some are photos of larger events, like going up to Steamboat Springs to watch my daughter and sister in the half-marathon.  Those are more likely to be a page to two in a traditional album.

In either case, they are about capturing moments beyond the "biggies."

  • We are clueless as to what to do now. . .finished book eight (waiting on nine); season one has finished and season two won't be out until Spring of 2016.  I'm lost.  I may or may not need a 12 step program to get my life back on track.
  • We are super excited to be staying in a hotel.  Remember being young and checking out the whole room, desperately wanting to go out to the pool and the general excitement of impending adventure?
  • We are waking up to a beautiful Colorado mountain town morning.
  • We are cheering at the finish.
  • We are celebrating the marathoners - and their big heads.
  • We are so desperate to do something crafty, we pulled out some sewing to do on winding mountain passes and bouncing through constructions zones.
  • We are pretty sure suffering through a thunder storm requires us to give in to the begging to play in the gutters afterwards.
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Food on Friday

After a fairly hot, dry start to the week, our weather started rockin' and rollin' on Wednesday night.  Last night was even worse - enveloped in lightening and thunder.  Alternating down pours of rain and hail.  Fun stuff.  I'll be heading to the basement after this to clean up.  Should we have to retire down there later, I at least want to be comfortable and not be stepping on Legos, trains and cars, along with all the paraphernalia waiting to be put away from grad parties and piles of stuff that wintered in the boat.

This is our first weekend with everyone out of school.  No planning.  No parties, though my daughter will be saying good-bye to one friend from her close-knit school family as he heads off to basic training with the Marines.  It will be hard for her, but she has a half marathon to focus on later this weekend.  We'll be out there to support her, and my sister, in their run.  I believe it will be the last, until October when our daughter runs the Colfax half, unless she finds another.

This Slow-Cooker Chicken Stock recipe had me at "no skimming."  Rotisserie chickens, chopped and frozen in two cup portions, from Costco are part of my freezer staples, because the cost of raw roasters is the same as the cooked ones.  Every time I toss the bones, I think, "I need to make stock," which I've done, but frankly, it's such a pain and my end product is pretty bland, it makes the effort so not worth it. Enter this head slapping, why-didn't-I-think-of-this recipe.  I put it to work with the bones from the last supply of Costco chickens.  The recipe calls for two pounds, I didn't weigh mine, but I had two chickens and that's what I used.  I loved it!  Easy to pull together; I had everything on hand.  I set it to cook overnight and woke up to the comforting smell of chicken stock - something my other method never produced.  I froze the stock in two-cup batches.  I believe I can scratch another pantry staple off my buying list and add it to my homemade list.

For me cherries and chocolate are a perfect marriage.  Therefore, this Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake was just screaming my name.  It was so good.  Sweet cherries (some day I will attempt the homemade version of maraschinos) and a ribbon of chocolate.  I didn't have baking chocolate, so I used semi-sweet chocolate.  Worked for me!  I contemplated serving it with chocolate sauce, but opted for just straight up cake.

I had a couple sandwiches on my menu this week because it was supposed to be hot.  One of them, Hearty Turkey & Feta Sandwich, called for hummus.  Hummus is too easy to make to buy - plus no preservatives.  So I whipped up this Roasted Garlic Hummus which was spread on one side of the sandwich.  Because I was using it as a spread, I added the pepper flakes and parsley to the hummus.  It should stand for a bit to kind of meld the flavors.

I have definitely become more comfortable in the homemade bread world.  I'm breaking away from the bread machine for dough, as well.  I make our sandwich bread (and even have an adaptation that includes wheat flour.)  I made the french loaf for the Turkey sandwich above.  I make our hamburger buns and pizza dough.  And now I can add Hoagie Rolls to my repertoire.  The recipe requires an overnight rest for the starter, but it's so easy, the extra time is no big thing.   The dough comes together easily and the buns were so good hubby didn't believe that I made them!  

Tornado warnings are being issued and the skies are now quite grey.  It's time to go clean up, but first a pit stop in the kitchen to pull together tonight's dessert.  Whatever that may be.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Are

We are closing up the school year, with just the first grader still in school.  We have a half marathon coming up to enjoy.  And then life should settle into a slower-paced routine.  At least I'm hoping so.  It has been a crazy, fall-into-bed, just-tackling-one-thing-at-a-time, past few weeks, or months depending on how far back I feel like counting.

  • We are They are thrill seekers - and thanks to weeks of rain and 60 degree temps, they frozen.
  • We are not bothered by facts like, it's only a smidge over 70 degrees or that the water is like glacier run-off, we're just thrilled for the simple joy of playing; goosebumbly, but thrilled.
  • We are more prepared for our second spontaneous stop after school (the next day), by wearing shorts to school.  Water didn't get any warmer, but the temps moved up a couple degrees, so it was easier to run around for twice as long.
  • We are a very good liturgist
  • We are officially graduated of two kids (daughter and the son in the middle.)  We are not going to think about how quickly the next four years will fly, when we are again celebrating these two who will be graduating from College and High School.  We are not!
  • We are all about the cupcakes afterwards.
  • We are not to happy to find three cinch bags from last weekend's white water rafting trip filled with damp gear.
  • We are enjoying a final afternoon with some of these classmates.
  • We are one event in on Field Day and discovering our arms may not long enough for launching the water balloon over the net.  #physicsproblems
  • We are smokin' it in the Leaking Hot Potato game
  • We are missing a few feet in height
  • We are not so much the javelin thrower
  • We are finding our stride is a bit short
  • We are gonna rock this relay - and we do, to help the team come in second.
Happy Wednesday,