12.24.2009

Christmas Family Picture

Yep, here we are. Wrangled pups and all...

Also, here's the house in the snow... All 14 inches... And it's still falling!!!

12.18.2009

Here's Some Link Love

So I'm big into reading blogs and I don't think that I could ever live without my Google Reader. So I'm going to list a TON of blogs and websites that I think are pretty cool and awesome and actually give you insight so here goes:

Photography:

Digital Photography School - Learn lots of awesome tips & tricks along with the basics
Jasmine Star - Just awesomeness of inspirations and photos and whatnot...
Shine Pet Photos - I want to photograph animals like this. Oh, yes, I do...

Food:

Alpine Berry
Bread + Butter (Hi Jenn!)
Eat Me, Delicious
Half Assed Kitchen

Do you notice a theme here? There's Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen (I love them both, but I feel like everyone reads them, am I not correct, here? I'm trying to broaden horizons...)

Ok, and more food:

What's Cookin' Chicago - Joelen's Culinary Adventures
Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen
Whipped

Decorating:

Apartment Therapy
Design Style Guide
Design Sponge
Young House Love

And the fun stuff:

F***MyLife
People of Walmart
My Husband is Annoying
Wedinator
Not Always Right

You know whatever... this is my usual list of reads during the day along with either D-Listed or Perez and then the local MSP headlines.

Happy reading!

Friday Humor

And now enjoy the Food Network Humor.

Because it's Friday and everyone needs a laugh for the rest of the afternoon/work day...

I'm In Love. Again.

Dear Lord,

Please give me the strength NOT to order anything from HERE.

AMEN.

P.S. God, if you could throw a winning lottery ticket my way, that would be AWESOME.

Thanks.

BTW: Here's Horchow's sale section.

Frye Boots: I Want Them

I do believe that I have died and gone to Heaven. If I ever win the lottery or all of a sudden have $400 to spend... I shall buy myself some Frye boots.

Happy Friday. Remember to wipe your chin after you drool.

Fiona Stitch Pull On - $378

Riding Back Zip - $648
Carson Shortie - $318
Campus 14G - $298

12.17.2009

Addictive Guacamole

Hi, Nigel! Nigel is a fantastic dog (and remember, you can also adopt him. Click here for more information about Nigel!). If you like to cook, he likes to lay in the same room, but totally out of the way. Nigel doesn't like being stepped on much. (I have to admit that I cut up pieces of cheese and toss them to Nigel & THE MONSTER when I cook...)
And THE MONSTER. He just likes to be in the middle of everything. Seriously. I went from chopping, to going AROUND THE MONSTER, taking a picture, then going AROUND THE MONSTER back to chopping and food processing. I tell ya, the things we do for dogs.

(Oh, quickly, green & eco-friendly tip: I bought a composter for $30 and it came with a small green one for the kitchen. I stick it in the sink when I chop so I can pretend that I'm Rachael Ray, only I compost and not use a garbage bowl...)
So, I use a WHOLE jalepeno. You don't have to if you don't want it, but it'll put hairs on your chest if you're not used to the heat. Trust me. I know how to put heat into food.
So:

2 - 3 avacados
1 teeny, tiny onion, roughly quartered
2 cloves of garlic
The juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper

Add all to food processor and process until smooth.

Serve with good salty chips.

Grown-Up Gouda Grilled (Ok, Baked) Cheese Sandwiches


Bimmer Man tells me that I don't make grilled cheese sandwiches correctly.

And I don't.

I bake them.

On the magical pizza stone. In the oven.

Oh, yes, that's right. I BAKE MY GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES.

So I guess they're not really grilled, right?

Ok, so ready?

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees - I use a pizza stone so make sure the pizza stone is preheating in the oven too.

Put the sammies together (butter or margerinize the outside, cheese on the inside... you know... like a regular grilled cheese...). BUT, I used Gouda. It's nice and stinky. With a bit of mozzarella.

Now, I have something to confess. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MATCH CHEESES. I just like cheese so I throw together whatever I happen to have in the fridge that melts well together. Gouda melts pretty well with mozzarella, so why not? It's better than the processed cheese, which I cannot for the life of me actually call real cheese.

And um, well, put the sandwiches into the oven for 6 minutes.

Flip.

Bake for 5 minutes.

And then they're done.

I made tomato soup to go along with my stinky cheese sammie.

Happy Thursday!

12.11.2009

My Best Impression of Sandra Lee

Green Onion Cornbread Muffins:

Box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix
2 tablespoons of chopped green onions

Instructions:

Follow instructions on corn muffin mix, add green onions to batter before pouring in muffin cups.

Seriously, you can laugh now!

Happy Friday!

Oh, what should I make with the overripe bananas in the picture?

How Do You Get Sticky Tape Off Glass?

Nigel actually poses for the camera. He sits. And then you can ask, "Where's Nigel?" And he tilts his head, he's so cute!
And the MONSTER. He lurves snow, but mostly lurves to eat it. So I cought him snow-nosed. HA! He's a goon!
So I went to Tuesday Morning and found this frame to put up in our house. I was going to make a picture wall on the stairs going up to our Master Bedroom. Lo and behold, I found a black frame. Woo hoo!
But, I, well, um, didn't get the stick off all in one swoop.

So, how do I get the rest of it off???

I have no idea! HELP!

12.09.2009

Challah Bread

I love bread.
I love carbs.
But mostly the smell of freshly baked bread in the neighborhood. This was super easy! Trust me!

I followed the recipe from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and amazingly it was awesome.

Unfortunately I'm lazy and I don't want to type up the recipe though (but it can be googled!).

I did swap out 1 cup of AP flour for wheat flour though and it was still delicious.

Which brings me to my next project - finding a good wheat bread to make for sandwiches.

Chicken with Olives & Tomatoes

We need to eat healthier. Mostly because it's winter in Minne-snow-ta and it's not like you can run in 8 inches of snow.

So, my fallback is always chicken, mostly grilled with veggies (mostly steamed) and cous cous or rice. This is new because Bimmer Man suddenly likes tomatoes. But they have to be a certain kind otherwise he won't eat them. I don't blame him, I mean I don't like mayo and I don't eat it if I don't have to. It's ended up on a few sandwiches, and I can't say that I didn't like them, but I definitely didn't like the texture. Something about a glob of mayo just doesn't sit right with me!
So, for this it's chicken and olives and tomatoes. Favorites for Bimmer, so score for me!

2 - 4 chicken breasts
Handful of Bushel Boy Baby tomatoes
Good 3/4 cup of green olives (you can use black olives too, but these are tangier)
1 small onion, finely chopped (again, not one of Bimmer's favorites but the sweet onions have the least amount of "onion" taste when cooked)
3/4 cup Italian dressing
Dash of hot sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup water or chicken broth or white wine, whatever
Salt (very little) and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

So, here goes:

1. In a large pan over medium high heat, cook the chicken breasts *almost* all the way through with a 1/2 cup of Italian dressing and 3 tbsp of olive oil. They should only have about 1 minute left, so the juices should be pretty clear.

2. Take the chicken out of the pan and let it rest while you make the sauce.

3. To the pan add the onions and cook until clear. Add the olives, cook for about 3 minutes, then add the Italian dressing, tomatoes, hot sauce, water and brown sugar. The brown sugar is so the tomatoes won't be too acidic - just like tomato sauce for pasta, always add a spoonful of sugar!

4. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the chicken back to the pan until heated through again, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Then, serve over cous cous and with a side of veggies if you want. It's really that easy!

12.02.2009

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Onions


Here's another lazy meal. In fact, I've been so lazy lately that I haven't even been taking pictures of my finished food. Oh, well, not a problem.

You know those bags of frozen chicken breasts that you can buy?

Well, I just toss those into a baking dish with this:

1 lemon, cut in half
2 medium onions, cut into fourths OR smaller, whatever
4 - 5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp basil
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
Salt & pepper

Mix lemon juice from the lemons, olive oil and herbs/spices together. Pour over chicken in dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until done (generally about 35 - 40 minutes in a 375 degree oven, you can also raise the oven temp to 400 or 425 and it'll be done 10 minutes sooner).

See? Cooking is just so dang easy. And it's good for you. Serve with rice, cous cous, steamed veggies and/or salad.

12.01.2009

Spaghetti With Turkey Meat Sauce

I love spaghetti and pasta and sauce and garlic bread and salad. And so does Bimmer Man. He used to not like spaghetti. At all. Now, if I give him a choice of spaghetti or penne, he'll take the spaghetti hands down (but if gnocchi is thrown into the mix, he'll take gnocchi).

And so, I've memorized an easy way to get rid of your leftovers and single cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes or whatever else you have. Seriously. Mostly I just throw stuff in the pan and hope that it turns out. I think that's what a lot of people do, so you'll notice that most what I cook for pasta sauce is similar but I like to change up the seasoning. This is my throwback meal when I need to clean out the pantry and take stock of what I need to buy at the grocery store.

So here it is:

1/2 to 1 lb ground turkey (or pork or beef or chicken, whatever)
1 - 2 cans tomato sauce
1 - 2 cans diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes or whatever
1 onion, chopped
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, mashed through a garlic press or chopped (do you really want to smell like Rachael Ray tomorrow???)
Couple dashes of hot sauce OR cayenne pepper OR red pepper flakes

And optional:
1 medium eggplant cut into 1 inch pieces
1 summer squash, spaghetti squash or any squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, diced fairly finely
Any other vegetable that would hold up to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes without being too mushy

And then spaghetti, cooked 2 minutes AFTER al dente so it swirls around your fork correctly but it still has a bite.

Now:

Brown the meat, add the onions and garlic. Then the spices and the hot sauce or whatever you're using to give it a kick. And then the veggies if you're adding those, let brown a bit, maybe 3 minutes or so. Add all the cans of tomatoes.

Simmer 15 minutes or until the flavors have melted together and it tastes like spaghetti sauce.

And then eat over a plate full of spaghetti noodles.

AND then loosen the top button of your pants and sigh with relief that you'll have leftovers for the next few days so you don't have to cook if you don't want to.

UPCOMING RECIPE:

Challah Bread & something with pumpkin, I haven't decided yet.

11.29.2009

My Pathetic Living Room

And my pathetic $14.99 Christmas Tree from 2003.

I haven't quite decorated it yet. See, there's the big green dream machine from the basement, and in the corner is an antique table. The windows are large but I really don't like the curtains. They're from Ikea and have wavy stripes on them.

Bimmer Man - if you're reading this, I need a sewing machine so I can make my own curtains and throw pillows and duvet covers. Thank you.

And this upcoming week, we can tour the Master Suite upstairs.

I'm just kind of at a loss for inspiration at the moment, so I need to make some sort of a notebook where I can rip ideas out of magazines and get my decorating style together.

So, I'll keep y'all updated on my decorating process as it happens.

11.28.2009

Marinated Porkchops

Pork chops are my favorite. I don't eat red meat and pork is um, well, the other white meat so that's fine with me.

I love to marinate anything and everything and then saute it or pan fry it or sear it on the outside and finish it in the oven. There's just so much you can do!

So, here's the marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt - just a dash, there's already a lot of sodium in the soy sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
Red pepper flakes - just enough for some heat
1 lemon - use 1/2 in the marinade, then add the other half to the juices in the pan, let reduce in half and pour over pork chops... YUM!

So, mix everything together, pour over pork chops in a glass dish. Let sit in fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Using a heavy skillet, heat to medium-high heat and sear the first side for 3 - 5 minutes, then flip over, drop heat to medium to finish cooking them through for another 4 - 6 minutes.

After you've taken the pork chops out of the pan, squeeze the rest of the lemon around the pan, scrape up all the good tasty bits, let it reduce for about 2 minutes (this is a quick pan sauce) and pour over your plated pork chops.


I served these with steamed veggies. I'd also make cous cous but as it turns out, we were going out for appetizers at a later time so I didn't make any. Oh, well. Next time!

Enjoy!

11.24.2009

11.21.2009

Read Anything Good Lately?


So I've been reading these Gourmet Girl series books and they're positively awful. The writing is terrible, I've been skipping a lot of pages but I just keep reading them. Isn't that horrible?

I know, I should be glad that I'm reading SOMETHING because I feel like reading has been slacking lately, not to mention some of the horrible books I've been seeing at the bookstore lately but in any case...

I've read these because they come with recipes. I just didn't have enough time to go through all the recipes at the library when I was there so I just brought the whole series home with me. Let me tell you - a girl who barely works, dates a hottie chef that cooks for her and lives off of a trust fund - that's the sweet life but she's fairly boring to read about. It's the typical mystery, someone dies and she plans on investigating but oops, the killer just fell into her lap. Eh, whatever.

The recipes in the book however, are a completely different story. I actually want to eat them.

So, in short, just read the recipes and skip over everything else. The recipes were created by an actual chef, so no worries, not just an author making up some absurd recipe to go along with being killed by a food processor!

Have you read anything good lately that you'd like to recommend?

11.20.2009

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


Oh the Escapades of living in a house... with crappy electrical fuses...

The fuse blew, once and I totally forgot to turn the oven back on so that means that the oven was cooling down for like 10 minutes. Oops.

Anyway, these turned out really well despite the fuse incident. They're fairly fudgey, good amount of swirl (if you're a good swirler) and dense. Pretty good combo for brownies, right? I'd totally make these again.

In fact, I'm bringing them to my hair stylist for a thank you for my appointment this afternoon. It's hard when you don't work in a large office to bake anything so I try and bring everything I bake to a variety of people. I gotta share the love!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


Prep: 20 min.; Bake: 45 min.; Cool: 1 hr.
Cost per serving: 37¢



Swirl:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brownies:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides. Mist foil with cooking spray.

2. Make swirl: Using a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add egg; beat until smooth. Beat in sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

3. Make brownies: In a double boiler, melt butter with chocolate, stirring often. Remove from heat; stir in sugar, vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl; cool slightly.

4. Using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat eggs into chocolate mixture 1 at a time. Sprinkle flour over mixture and gently stir in.

5. Spread 1/2 of brownie batter in prepared pan. Carefully spread swirl mixture over brownie batter. Spoon remaining brownie batter on top. Use tip of a knife to gently swirl through both batters to form a marble pattern.

6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Remove brownies from pan to cutting board using foil to lift them out. Peel off foil and cut into squares.



Yield: 16 (serving size: 1 brownie)

CALORIES 217 ; FAT 14g (sat 9g); CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22g; SODIUM 55mg; PROTEIN 3g; FIBER 1g

All You, MAY 2009

11.14.2009

The Office. In the Middle of Everything

So, here's the office from the door. The window faces the front street. Directly across the street from us there's a McMansion for sale. We obviously don't live in a McMansion. So at this point, the office doesn't look like these pictures anymore.
We have Elfa shelves on the wall where the printer is. There's no more crap on the floor. And I've washed my coffee cup several times over. But still, I wanted to take pictures for the curious ones...
Here's the bookcases (do you see how much stuff is NOT in a filing cabinet? It's totally filed away! Except for Law School stuff) from Ikea. They're pretty flimsy unless you anchor them to the wall, which is what we've done. I like covering up all the clutter. Generally, if you open the cabinets, you may or may not find what book you'd like to read.
There's the MONSTER and looking out the door. BTW, that is Twitter on my computer. And no, the desk really isn't a mess anymore. But this is how you live for awhile after you move and you didn't pack the boxes!
Our diplomes and the closet. Bimmer Man is a Ferrari addict.

Ok, so now I'm going to have to do another post with an updated office. Which is just fine! Because these are the BEFORE pictures anyway!

Happy Friday and have a fantastic weekend!

11.13.2009

The Basement BEFORE

So, this is the "on-your-way-to-the-basement" from the kitchen picture. It's fairly messy, but that's ok. Whatevs...
And don't forget your reusable bags - they're hanging on hooks which are super easy to grab. Here's the stairs down to the basement. What gets me is this:

The people before us had THREE cats. And they were HUGE. Just HUGE. So the carpet is fairly gross even though we've tried to vacuum and clean it as much as we can. Oh, well. New carpet before we move is in order anyway.
The super small bar that's under the stairs - right now we hide crap back there like alcohol, blankets, computers, dog toys, etc...
The back part (the stairs are on the right by the dark wall). There's three closets with storage and the MONSTER's dog dishes. Yep, they're in the basement because the kitchen is kinda small.
There's the stairs and the door to the laundry room.
Oh - it's the Big Green Dream Machine! Actually, the couch is now in the living room and we have a new couch. It's brown and L-shaped. I'll take pics of that next week because I'm LAZY.

And the immediate view from the stairs. So the basement is partially finished, there's really not much there because I've been LAZY and haven't really done anything. Oh, well. Whatever!

And it's been a long time!

Me: So, how are ya?

Readers: Um, where have you been?

Me: I've been, um, a little lazy.

Readers: Yeah, you sure have been lazy. So, where have you been?

Me: Um, making pasta. And chicken soup. And getting a new couch.

Readers: So why haven't you posted anything?

Me: Blame it on the laziness. Please.

Readers: So, when are you going to post something?

Me: I'll show you our basement and office this afternoon.

Readers: Thank you for posting, we've been waiting to hear from you.

Me: You're welcome.

11.05.2009

Garlic Broccoli Pasta

This is a really easy almost-one skillet meal (you need one pot for cooking the pasta, another one for the chicken and broccoli).

1 head of broccoli, florets chopped fairly easy to eat in one bite
1 lb of chicken, sliced into easy to eat pieces
1/2 cup Italian dressing
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used a garlic press)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lb of pasta, penne preferred

Saute the chicken in olive oil over medium-high heat until about halfway cooked, add the broccoli, and keeping cooking about 5 minutes. Then add the Italian dressing and garlic, bring heat down to medium-low and simmer about 10 - 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and broccoli doesn't squeak in your teeth.

Serve with either feta or parmesan, garlic bread and a salad. An easy weeknight meal!

11.04.2009

Chili. With Black Beans.

Here's ANOTHER recipe for chili.

Currently it's just that time of year where chili becomes the number 1 staple in the freezer. I make chili in GINORMOUS batches so there's always a go to meal in the house, especially on a cold Minnesota day.

So, here it is:

1lb ground turkey (or ground beef)
2 cans black beans
1 can red beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Just a little cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
Salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press or finely chopped

Add the onions to a large pan over medium with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, wait about two minutes, and then add the meat to brown.

Add all other ingredients and simmer for about 25 - 30 minutes.

Et voila! It's another chili recipe on the internet!

Actually, I like reading all the different spices that people put in chili. My favorite is cinnamon (really! Try it!) because it just makes it all warm and cozy. But generally for me it's chili powder, cumin and coriander.

So next on my list is a chicken chili. Maybe with lime? Eh, not really sure... I'll just have to wait until I need to stock the freezer with chili again!

11.03.2009

Oh - Patina Lovers!

Check out what I found in my e-mail inbox this morning!

They have a new sister store in South Minneapolis - and I'm so dang excited! It's all about highlighting local talent, so now I have a new place to shop! Yea!

So, everyone, what are your favorite local stores? Do you feel the need to shop there every week or every once in awhile? What are your favorite purchases? Do you feel better about yourself and your environmental impact when you shop local?

More Tomato Beef Stew

So I've never tried tomatoes in my beef stew before.

NEVER.

I always thought that beef stew was for beef, celery, potatoes, bay leaves and salt & pepper.

But um, ahem... We tried it.

And I do have to say - I'm not a fan of a lot of tomatoes in my beef stew. So, here's my recipe, try it if you must, but um, don't be surprised if you're surprised that you don't like it. But, um, you know, give it a try if you like tomatoes.

More Tomato Beef Stew

Take my mom's beef stew recipe from here,

And then omit all the cream of... crap and add 2 cans of tomato soup instead.

Ya, that easy! But trust me, it just doesn't taste the same.

So, I dare say, if you have a favorite beef stew recipe, don't mess with it. Just eat it. And keep it to yourself so that you can impress guests when you have them over.

Ok, Happy Tuesday.

10.30.2009

THE MONSTER & Diego

They play like crazy, chasing each other around the yard, stealing each other's bones. You know, the usual dog stuff.
Aren't they goons? The MONSTER with his tongue hanging out... he rarely takes a nice picture around other dogs these days. He just lurves them too much!
But Diego is also for adoption. He has so much energy, loves to chew on bully sticks and when he's finally done playing, he'll crash in your lap or next to the MONSTER for a long time! So, if you're interested in Diego, please click here for more information.
So, here's Diego! Diego says, "Adopt me! I want a lap to sit on every morning! And I like watching Flash Forward and Grey's Anatomy! Or ESPN or Sportscenter!"

Happy Friday!