3.31.2009

I Did It. Again


Baker's Secret 10-by-16-Inch Nonstick Cooling Rack, Set of 2 ($5 for a set of 2)

Whilst trying to make bagels the other night, I happened to come across a problem. I have no cooling racks! So I used a "shield" - the stupid thing that I got from Ikea that you put over a pan when you're either sauteing or frying something.

I set it up between two bowls. Didn't work out so well. I mean the screen didn't really allow the bagels to cool (I know, I know, enough with the dang bagels already...) and I just need these cooling racks in general for making chocolate chip cookies anyway.

Plus a set of two is only $5 with the free super saver shipping at Amazon.com.

I couldn't pass it up...

The Unicef Card - Vote For It!

So, you know how every year Pier 1 Imports sells the Unicef card? Well I could never figure out how any of the cards were picked.

Go figure.

I get an email asking to vote. Now, anyone who receives Pier 1 solicitations (um, yes, I did just type solicitations because that's what they are...) will receive this email.

You can vote online for your favorite card too! Just click here.

The cards are super cute - it'll probably take me 5 minutes to decide which one is getting my vote!

Happy Tuesday!

3.30.2009

Rock Hard Bagels

I bought two tubs of fabulous cream cheese last week. But not bagels. I figured that bagels would be super easy to make. After pouring through the puny three shelves of baking books at the library I decided upon this one: How to Bake: Complete Guide to Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Breads, Pizzas, Muffins,


Of course, I didn't even have the right tools. What did I do? I went out and bought one of these:


Black & Decker FP2500S Wide-Mouth Food Processor-500 Watts, Stainless Steel

It works well - I have the white one.

BUT...

The bagels didn't turn out. I knew from the beginning that I shouldn't have followed the recipe. I should've just used the ingredients and my baking knowledge instead of following it to a T.

I'm not even going to post a picture of the bagels until I get them perfect.

So tonight, bagels are on the menu.

I don't care how many times it takes me to get them right or how many pounds of flour. Or even if my new food processor starts smokin' I AM GOING TO MAKE BAGELS.

Here's the recipe from Chow.com (as it's not directly in front of me right now). So it looks easy enough, right?

My changes for tonight:

1. Don't roll them out, just poke a hole in the center (they came apart in the water AFTER I FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS. NOT GOOD).
2. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
3. Add honey instead of sugar.
4. Make 9 - 10 bagels instead of 12 (they were too small for me).

Wish me luck.

So, what's your favorite kind of bagel? I'm taking suggestions here...

3.28.2009

ShamWow Guy...

He's so NOT hot in real life. Check this out - the Sham Wow commercial crew must have fabulous make up artists because he definitely does NOT match his commercial face!

3.27.2009

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Foolish Gadgets....

Have you ever seen this before? Who would buy soap shaped like an Xbox controller? You'll never believe the price either! Or a beer can simulator?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA... I can't help but laugh. There are lots of things that people invent that I just can't see that many people using!!

McTatty

Going Green: Don't Clean With These Products...

What do I NOT clean my house with?

THESE:

TOP "10" HAZARDOUS HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS

By Richard Alexander


AIR FRESHENERS: Most air fresheners interfere with your ability to smell by coating your nasal passages with an oil film, or by releasing a nerve deadening agent. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener: Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: When phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives. Can cause cold sweats,convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death.

AMMONIA: It is a very volatile chemical, it is very damaging to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.

BLEACH: It is a strong corrosive. It will irritate or burn the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It may cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma if ingested. WARNING: never mix bleach with ammonia it may cause fumes which can be DEADLY.

CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY SHAMPOO: Most formulas are designed to over power the stain itself, they accomplish the task but not without using highly toxic substances. Some include: Perchlorethylene: Known carcinogen damages liver, kidney and nervous system damage. Ammonium Hydroxide: Corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

DISHWASHER DETERGENTS: Most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated.# 1 cause of child poisonings, according to poison control centers.

DRAIN CLEANER: Most drain cleaners contain lye, hydrochloric acid or trichloroethane. Lye: Caustic, burns skin and eyes, if ingested will damage esophagus and stomach. Hydrochloric acid: Corrosive, eye and skin irritant, damages kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Trichloroethane: Eye and skin irritant, nervous system depressant; damages liver and kidneys.

FURNITURE POLISH: Petroleum Distillates: Highly flammable, can cause skin and lung cancer. Phenol: (see Air fresheners, Phenol.) Nitrobenzene: Easily absorbed through the skin, extremely toxic.

MOLD AND MILDEW CLEANERS: Chemicals contained are: Sodium hypochlorite: Corrosive, irritates or burns skin and eyes, causes fluid in the lungs which can lead to coma or death. Formaldehyde: Highly toxic, known carcinogen. Irritant to eyes, nose, throat, and skin. May cause nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, memory loss and shortness of breath.

OVEN CLEANER: Sodium Hydroxide (Lye): Caustic, strong irritant, burns to both skin and eyes. Inhibits reflexes, will cause severe tissue damage if swallowed.

ANTIBACTERIAL CLEANERS: may contain: Triclosan: Absorption through the skin can be tied to liver damage.

LAUNDRY ROOM PRODUCTS: Sodium or calcium hypocrite: Highly corrosive, irritates or burns skin, eyes or respiratory tract. Linear alkylate sulfonate: Absorbed through the skin. Known liver damaging agent. Sodium Tripolyphosphate: Irritates skin and mucous membranes, causes vomiting. Easily absorbed through the skin from clothes.

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS: Hydrochloric acid: Highly corrosive, irritant to both skin and eyes. Damages kidneys and liver. Hypochlorite Bleach: Corrosive, irritates or burns eyes, skin and respiratory tract. May cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested. Contact with other chemicals may cause chlorine fumes which may be fatal.


OTHER NASTY THINGS THAT ARE AROUND YOUR HOME

PESTICIDES: Most pesticides have ingredients that affect the nervous system of insects. Dimpylate: Better known as Diazinon, extremely toxic. Impairs the central nervous system. Chlorinate Hydrocarbons: Suspected carcinogen and mutantagen. Accumulates in food and in fatty tissue. Will attack the nervous system. Organophosphates: Toxic and poisonous. If you can smell it, your lungs are absorbing it.

FLEA POWDERS: Carbaryl: Very toxic, causes skin, respiratory and cardiovascular system damage. Chlordane: Accumulates in the food chain, may damage eyes, lungs, liver, kidney and skin. Dichlorophene: Skin irritation: May damage liver, kidney, spleen and central nervous system.

LICE SHAMPOO: Especially vulnerable are children. Lindane: Inhalation, ingestion, or ABSORPTION through the SKIN causes vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and circulatory collapse. May cause liver damage, stillbirths, birth defects and cancer.

CAR WASH AND POLISH: Petroleum Distillates: Associated with skin and lung cancer, irritant to skin, eyes, nose and lungs. Entry into the lungs may cause fatal pulmonary edema, most marked Danger, Harmful or Fatal.

TAR AND BUG REMOVER: Contains XYLENE and PETROLEUM DISTILLATES.

Warning terms used are significant:

DANGER - Harmful or fatal if swallowed A taste to a teaspoonful taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult.

WARNING - Harmful if swallowed A teaspoonful to an ounce taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult.

CAUTION - Harmful if swallowed An ounce to over a pint taken by mouth could kill an average sized adult.


And here's even more links to information about dangerous toxins in your cleaners -

Cancer Prevention Coalition list of carcinogens

Toxic Chemical updates from the King Institute


Up later this week:

The natural cleaning power of: vinegar, baking soda and castile soap

3.26.2009

More Chicken

Chicken is a main staple in our diet. 2 - 3 times per week, we have chicken. Chicken and rice, chicken with potatoes, chicken and vegetables... Chicken, chicken and more chicken. So, you gotta spice things up a bit. Generally I make chicken on the grill pan and finish it in the oven.
I decided to be daring. Just making chicken in the oven.
Yeah, I know - judging from the similarity of the photos you think I'm crazy. I'm not.
I just like chicken. It has to be simple and easy, no fuss, easy to clean. Just normal.
And this is. As you can tell, sometimes I just make chicken and then a simple salad. The two of us shorties don't eat much, so I have to be wary of portion sizes otherwise food goes back quickly in the fridge.

Easy Baked Chicken

3 - 4 chicken breasts, thighs, whatever
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil (enough to coat chicken)

Preheat oven to 375 (or 400 degrees, depending on the thickness of chicken. Hotter oven = crispier "crust")

Place chicken breasts in a shallow dish. Be prepared to get your hands dirty. Mix together the lemon and olive oil in a small dish.

Then dump the seasoning in the olive oil and lemon.

Pour the seasoning mixture all over the chicken. Toss to coat.

Put the chicken in an oven proof baking dish and bake for 30 - 45 minutes depending on thickness of breats. (You can definitely do this with fish too!)

Enjoy!

Earth Hour


Earth Hour. It's coming...

3.25.2009

Spinach Quiche

I love eggs. I love quiche. Bimmer Man didn't mention that he liked quiche until I said that I was actually going to make it. Go figure, right?


So I ripped off a Paula Deen recipe and tried to make it more like my own.You can also find it in her cookbook Paula Deen & Friends. Honestly, I'm not much of a Paula person and I think it's because of the amount of butter. And lard. And fatty ingredients, but whatever. I do still adore southern cooking!
First, start off with this pie crust recipe. Super easy! It's unbelievable...
You'll need about two cups of fresh chopped spinach. I'd actually go back and use 3 cups - spinach wilts down so I used a lot less than what I thought I'd need. Oops - mental note for next time!
All the other ingredients - 2 Italian sausage links, 1 1/2 cups of Italian cheese mix and one small chopped onions.
Chop the onion. (Does anyone need to know how to chop an onion?)
Chop your spinach - but remember that it'll wilt down. So chop more than you need. Please, do.
Take the casings off the sausage, then break it up with a wooden spoon while you brown it.
When you're about half way done browning the sausage, put the onion in the pan to sweat it and make it all nice and sweet.
Then, after about 8 minutes, put the spinach in the pan. See how much it looks like? Well, scroll down, you'll NOT be pleasantly surprised. USE MORE!!! I SAY USE MORE SPINACH!!!
See? Isn't this a puny amount of spinach for a quiche? I'm telling you - don't be like me...
And by the way... USE MORE SPINACH!!!
Then crack open 6 eggs. I got a little egg dirt in them. Oh, well. Minerals, right? You won't need your daily vitamin...
Gently pour in 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Oh, yes, here's where Paula Deen comes in. But I gotta tell ya, she does the quiche well!
She says to put it in a blender. Screw it - use your real strength! Don't dirty dishes that are almost impossible to clean by hand! (Especially when the blender might still have a strawberry in it from the last time you made smoothies...)
Layer half of the sausage/onion/spinach mixture on the bottom.
Mmm... I could eat this with scrambled eggs - oh - make a hash!
Then layer the Italian cheese. Repeat.
Pour the egg mixture over the top.
And bake until nice, smooth, cheesy and just lovely. The PERFECT breakfast, lunch OR dinner.

Paula's Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Ingredients
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper
2 cups chopped baby spinach, packed
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate
Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Cut into 8 wedges.

Enjoy!

3.24.2009

An Era Almost To An End...

I will have Bimmer Man back in 46 days.

Ok, kind of. Then he has to study for the bar.

So I guess I don't really get him back until late August.

Job starts in October - so that leaves me with the month of September.


If your spouse is even thinking about going to Law School, please, go find friends and other activities now. And whatever you do, don't expect them to drop studying just because you broke a nail.

They will find friends in their classes. They will talk about torts, ambulance chasing, tax law and even more boring things than that which you will have no knowledge of (unless you are also in field of law). Trust me, do you really want to know what Professor so-and-so said in their second class of the day? NO. YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE LAW THAT SAYS THAT SOMEONE GETS SOMETHING and blah blah blah.

Instead, embrace and behold the powers of blogging, reading, running, swimming, doggies and family. Learn how to be yourself again. Find online forums. Go shopping. Challenge yourself to read/learn how to play Wii/etc...

Because for the love of sanity, the law never sleeps.

3.23.2009

How to: Pie Crust

Pie crust. Those two words. Oh, man... I just can't see myself making pie crust. But this recipe was just so dang easy. I mean look, food processor. I put this off for two weeks. My thoughts run amok and I just think everything is going to go wrong.

So first, combine the dry ingredients into a food processor.
Then get your butter ready (oh, yes, butter). Cut it into 8 pieces.
And drop it on top of the dry ingredients. You can mix it up if you want to, but no big deal.
Pulse together for 10 seconds. And this is where everything got a little scary. The butter has to be cold and you need ice cold water.
Dump into a big bowl and add 3 tablespoons of water. I needed to add an extra tablespoon to bring it all together though. Stir together with a wooden spoon and then bring it together into a ball.
Wrap the ball in cling wrap. Um. I didn't. Oops. See? It's ok though, I mean, if I can make pie crust then anyone can make pie crust. Trust me, I almost dumped the dang ice cube into the dough!
Flatten with your palm to get the pie shape started BEFORE you put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After it's been chilled then you want to put it on a cold surface and start to roll it out into a pie shape, turning after every few strokes (oh, doesn't that sound dirty??? HAHA!)
It'll get thin. Slowly but surely - just keep going!
See? It's getting there!
Make sure the pie crust is bigger than the pie pan.

When you want to move it, roll it up over the rolling pin and then gently drop it into the pie pan.

Eh, voila! It's there and almost done!
Just crimp the edges, take the extra dough off (and either stick it in areas that need dough or just scrap it).
But um, don't let Bimmer Man see your dirty hands. (Thanks, Bimmer Man. Nice hands, Love)

Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until you need to use it. You can freeze it too -

Flaky Pie Crust

From the book How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Yield 1 pie crust

Introduction

For any single-crust pie, 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Double the recipe for a two-crust pie.

Ingredients


1⅛ cups (about 5 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting work surface

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces

~ About 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

Steps

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
  2. Place the mixture in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over it. Use a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to gradually gather the mixture into a ball; if the mixture seems dry, add another ½ tablespoon ice water. When you can make the mixture into a ball with your hands, do so. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, and freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate for 30 minutes); this will ease rolling. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two, or freeze it almost indefinitely.)
  3. You can roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, usually quite successfully; sprinkle both sides of it with a little more flour, then proceed. Or sprinkle a countertop or large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle its top with flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes; it should give a little when you press your fingers into it.
  4. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. (If the dough seems very sticky at first, add flour liberally; but if it becomes sticky only after you roll it for a few minutes, return it to the refrigerator for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Continue to roll, adding small amounts of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. (Use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.) When the dough is about 10 inches in diameter (it will be less than ¼-inch thick), place your pie plate upside down over it to check the size.
  5. Move the dough into the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin or by folding it into quarters, then moving it into the plate and unfolding it. When the dough is in the plate, press it firmly into the bottom, sides, and junction of bottom and sides. Trim the excess dough to about ½ inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes).
  6. When you’re ready to bake, prick it all over with a fork.

3.19.2009

Shutterfly Discount

So, I use a variety of websites/stores/businesses/etc... to print off pictures professionally. For myself and my own pictures I use Shutterfly.com.

Here's a few discount codes:

Free Shipping Through March 25 - SHIP25

Also, if you create a new "share" site, you get some free prints.

Enjoy!

3.17.2009

The Google Reader

If you look closely, you'll see that there are a TON of subscriptions in my Google Reader. Some people tend to post more, others don't. And I've cleaned up my RSS feeds, believe it or not.

Generally I use Google Alerts for certain tags like green living, sustainability, cooking, etc... Those are shortened feeds which I only peruse the headlines (peruse... I really like that word). To get to this area of your Reader, click on "Trends" on the left hand side. I think you'll be surprised about who posts the most (Um, hello Perez) and who posts the least (which would be a friend that doesn't have the internet at home).

Mostly, I'm more addicted to iambossy.com, F***MyLife.com (which you can tell that a lot of these people are either in high school or make the shit up), Digital Photography School and my green living tips alerts (Oh, I can't forget Ideal Bite).

I try and go through my Google Reader daily, but sometimes I feel bad about commenting on a blog post that's older than a week. That's because I probably just got to it...

And you wonder why I've been posting randomly... I haven't had time to cook! I've been too enthralled with my Google Reader when I get home from work!

(Though, funny story = last night I made pulled pork and I didn't correct Bimmer Man when he called it chicken. Sorry, Bimmer. I just couldn't help it! You were way too cute!).

So, enjoy the stats!

I Broke Down And I Did It


Phoenix Smart Flash RF46N Macro Ring Flash Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

I wanted it so badly. So when I clicked through - I expected this awesome ring flash to be almost $200. But guess what - it's ON SALE!!!! FOR LESS THAN $100!!!!

Seriously, I think that all photographers need this. You know when you take photos of close ups, macros, etc... and you have the stupid dark shadows from bouncing your lights off the ceiling, well no more - check out the link below to see it test driven.

Ring Flash Adapter Test from the Digital Photography School

So awesome...