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.


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!



Seventh Generation E-Newsletter

Here's the fantastic link - there's even a link to coupons!!!


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?


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¢

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

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)


All You, MAY 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!


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.