15 November 2011

Opening a Pomegranate

'Tis the season that I start craving pomegranate! I used to be really intimidated by cutting into them, but it's really not too difficult or even messy if you go about it properly.

You'll need a mixing bowl, a sharp knife (I like my serrated tomato knife for this) and I'd recommend a trash bag to cover your cutting board or counter top as well, because the juice *WILL* stain, I promise.

Start by lopping off the top--about half an inch or so.

See the juice?!

Score the side from top to bottom about half a dozen times, give or take (at least 4 times).

Fill your bowl with cold water, and then break the pomegranate apart into the water. It should come apart pretty easily where you've scored it.

Then, all you have to do is get to work gently picking the little pearly bits out, letting them fall into the water. The fruit will sink, and the icky white part and skin will float to the top.

All you have to do from this point is skim all the white pith off the top of the water, and strain it and you will be left with about a cereal bowl full of pomegranate seeds/pearls/whatever you wanna call them to use however you want. My favorite is to just eat them as-is by the handful, but you could put them in salads, juice them, make jam, make grenadine, or any number of other things.

I store them in a bowl in my fridge wrapped in flour sack cloth.

14 November 2011

My Kitchen Sponge

I cut a chunk out of my kitchen sponge so it can sit up off the counter and actually dry after each use. I don't remember where I saw this idea, but I liked it, and it works really well!!! Just cut a bigger chunk out of your sponge and you can stick it around the neck of your faucet. :)

13 November 2011

Stuffed Shells

I haven't blogged in forever it seems. *sigh* I am going to TRY to get back into the swing of blogging regularly again.

I made these shells a couple weeks ago and I only took a photo of the finished product, so I'm posting this recipe/method by memory. It's not like I measure anything anyway, so measurements wouldn't matter much.

2 lbs ground turkey
1 lb ground beef
5 oz, divided in half, shredded Parmesan cheese (I PREFER grated...just don't buy that shelf stable crap. It's not cheese. Get it in the deli or grate it yourself)
seasoned bread crumbs (make them yourself, buy them, whatever)
3 cloves garlic, minced...or 1 tbsp garlic paste
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of chopped mushrooms, minced
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 lb jumbo shells (1 box)
2 qts of your favorite pasta sauce (canned works great for this....home made is fine if you have the energy to make it or have some frozen)

Start off by filling a large pot of water to boil. Salt it, and add the jumbo shells when it comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 mins shy of 'done' because you are going to bake these as well. Drain when cooked.

Add a tablespoon or two of oil to the bottom of a heavy skillet and add the garlic, mushrooms and onion, and cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Then add the ground turkey and ground beef, mixing them together thoroughly as they brown. When the meat mixture is cooked through, add the egg, half the parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of the pasta sauce. Add the bread crumbs a handful at a time until the mixture comes together to a consistency similar to a meatloaf mixture. I also typically pick through all of the cooked shells and chop up any torn ones and add them to the filling.

Pour 1-2 cups of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish. Take a teaspoon and gently fill each shell and set it into the baking dish as close as you can get them. Repeat until the pan is full. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells in the pan and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and a light dusting of the bread crumbs. Bake at 400ish degrees for about half an hour, or until the cheese is melted and the filling is heated through.

Note: If the pan fills up before you use all of your shells and filling, fill the shells anyway and flash freeze them and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer till next time.

22 July 2011

Ya know how to make a great breakfast sandwich awesome? Smear the bread with maple butter (mix maple syrup with your butter or margarine), and toast it like a grilled cheese sandwich. I guarantee....awesome, no matter what kind of bread you use, whether it's sourdough or whole wheat, a nice artisan bread or a plain white bread. Awesome. ;)

07 July 2011

Windows vs. Ford

So, I get loads of forwarded crap in my inbox every day, and most of it I don't even bother to read before trashing it...but this one caught my eye and I laughed out loud at how true it really is. Enjoy! :)

For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. 
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,

'If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.' 

In response to Bill's comments, Ford issued a press release stating

If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part): 

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash..........Twice a day. 

2.. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3... Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this. 

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads. 

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.

I love the next one!!! 

7. The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying. 

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car. 

10. You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine off.
PS - I 'd like to add that when all else fails, you could call 'customer service' in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!!!!

14 May 2011

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup

Wanna get this on the blog before I forget how I did it, because it's just THAT good.

Tonight I threw together dinner real quick--I've been sick all week, and now that I'm starting to feel better, my husband is sick as all get out. :( So, soup was definitely on the menu!

I'd been craving broccoli cheese soup all week, but was too sick to go out to dinner, and the deli at the market didn't have any...and yeah, canned stuff is not good to eat by itself. LMBO! Not sure why I didn't think to just make it for myself sooner....I mean, I had all the ingredients and everything on hand....likely because I was sick, though.

I just threw this together with no real plan other than to reach broccoli cheese soup status by suppertime, so there are no photos...sorry!

Here are the ingredients I used, though:

1 small onion, chopped fine

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs, or leftover rotisserie chicken or or or or....I won't judge ya)

1 1/2 pounds of frozen broccoli florets (You can use pieces if you'd like, or even a mix of broccoli and cauliflower would work)

1 lb cheddar cheese, shredded

1/3 lb provolone (I ordered some from the deli the other night for sandwiches, and it was cut WAY too thick for sandwiches....so I wanted to use it up...you don't really HAVE to use provolone if you don't have it on hand)

4 cups of milk

4 cups of hot water (you could absolutely use stock if you've got it on hand....I haven't been shopping all week cuz I've been sick, so water it was tonight!)

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp oil

Tabasco sauce to taste (I think I used like 10-12 dashes for a 5 qt. pot of soup? I didn't count....)

1 packet of instant mashed potatoes--The packet I had made 2 cups of prepared mashed potatoes. I know this sounds REALLY weird, but it'll help thicken it up. You don't have to use the whole packet if you don't want to...stir it in a bit at a time, wait a few mins and see how it thickens up before adding more, etc.

Old bay, fresh cracked black pepper, etc. to taste (I used about 2 tbsp of Old Bay and about 30 cranks of really coarsely ground black pepper.)

That's really it. :)

Start by putting the oil into a pan to heat up over medium heat. Chop up the onion and garlic, throw it in the oil. Cut up the chicken into bite size pieces (I did mine in about 1/2" x 1/2" cubes this time) and toss it in. Dump in the broccoli, cover and let cook for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the milk and water/stock, season to your liking with Old Bay, Tabasco and black pepper. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cover. Cook till the broccoli is tender to your liking.

Meanwhile, shred up the cheddar cheese. Mix the flour with the cheddar so it doesn't get clumpy when you add it to your soup. Break the provolone into bits.

Once the broccoli is tender to your liking, add the provolone, mixing after each slice. Once the provolone is all incorporated, add the cheddar a handful at a time, stirring to melt and combine after each addition, until the cheddar is all in the pot.

Bring it back to a simmer, and add the instant potatoes to desired thickness.

Voila! Big pot o' Chicken-Broccoli-Cheese Soup!

13 May 2011

Dear Nyquil

How do I love thee? Oh, let me count the ways.....

I started this week with the worst cough I have experienced in recent memory and oh, my goodness how I have been married to this bottle for the last few days. But, today I am finding myself straying....see, as the cough has dwindled, a new set of symptoms has moved into town, and I'm finding myself in falling deeper and deeper for this pretty girl's equally pretty cousin....

So, I'm so in love with these girls that I may be considering becoming a lesbian and leaving my husband and children and moving to some polygamous colony in Utah with them...

...I *REALLY* hope I feel better soon, because I'm awfully fond of my husband and children, but right now these two girls are making me happier than my husband and children ever could have, especially since they've really been making my constant migraine from all the coughing worse....

07 May 2011

Tiny Backyards in the Springtime

I think it's safe to say that it's officially Springtime in my neck of the woods. The weather has been in the 60s-low 70s for the last couple weeks straight, and it is just gorgeous outside!

This year brings a new opportunity for our family. For the first time since having children, we live in a house with a small enough backyard where we can view every square inch of it from just about every part of the first floor and half of the second floor of our house. On top of that, our exceedingly tiny yard is 100% privacy fenced with a gate that is locked from the inside as well as from the outside, so it's safe--no one is coming in, and no children are escaping. What does that mean? That means that for the first time in my children's lives, they have ultimate freedom in our back yard. They can come and go as they please, as if it's simply another room in our home.

And my children LOVE their backyard! They have a swingset, lots of outside toys, and more patio space than they know what to do with. They can run and jump and swing and climb and slide and bounce balls and jump rope and draw with chalk and dig in the dirt and blow bubbles and and and and and and...till their hearts' content. And they do. All day long. Every single day.

They come in at the end of the day exhausted. They get a bath and go to bed without so much as an ounce of fussiness almost every night. Ahhhhh, I love Spring!!!

When I looked at this house, I have to admit that I was skeptical about the size of the backyard, but it's proving to be the BEST part of this house!!

30 April 2011

I'm *NOT* Microwave-Compatible!

I'd just like to say that it takes mad amounts of skill to blow up a cereal bowl with 2 sticks of butter in it....on 30% power....before the butter is even half melted....

Add this incident to the 3 microwaves I've ruined in the last year, and ya know, I'm beginning to think that I'm not microwave-compatible. I think maybe I should leave all future nuking tasks to my husband.

That is all.

26 April 2011

French Coconut Pie

If you've never listened to me before, listen now.

You must make this pie. I mean it. You MUST. MAKE. THIS. PIE.

It is that awesome, and it only takes about $5 worth of ingredients.

I didn't do a photo-by-photo tutorial, because the bloggers over at Tasty Kitchen did it already. :)

French Coconut Pie on Tasty Kitchen's Blog

Holy yum.

24 April 2011

This is why I don't blog...

It's been 2 1/2 weeks since I posted to this blog. I'm already slacking! haha! There hasn't been much going on around here worthy of blogging. I have taken photos of a few recipes, including one I totally bombed, but I haven't gotten around to uploading them from my memory card, though. Hopefully I'll have time to do that this week.

Meanwhile....you should totally check out these recipes:

Tiramisu on Give Peas a Chance
Penne a la Betsy on PW
Blueberry French Toast (baked)
Strawberry Whipped Sensation
Luscious Slush Punch
Homemade Snickers Bars
Cheesecake Brownies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies on Smitten Kitchen
Cranberry Cheesecake Pie
Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Banana Bread on Half Assed Kitchen
BBQ Crackers on Patio Daddio
Waffles on Give Peas a Chance
Shepherd's Pie on Hillbilly Housewife
Soft Pretzels on Smitten Kitchen
Phyllo Cigars on Give Peas a Chance (seriously, try these, if you don't try anything else on this list!)
Cashew Chicken on Tasty Kitchen
Pig Candy on Patio Daddio

Ok, that should be enough to keep ya busy for a while! :) Hope everyone has a happy Easter!

06 April 2011

Crayola Colored Bubbles--a review

I'm using the word 'review' lightly here....because I really have nothing good to say about them other than in theory, this is an AWESOME idea! It is really unfortunate that it was so poorly executed.

I took my kids to Walmart to pick out a couple new outside toys. My older son wanted these colored bubbles he'd been seeing on TV. He picked a set that came with half a dozen different wands and two bottles of the bubble soap--orange and green. Package says "Washable" in very prominent letters, and 'Spill-Resistant Bottles!', so I figured we were good to go. My younger son picked out a few other things. Seeing the fight this was going to cause, I picked up some of Walmart's cheapy bubble soap with similar 'spill resistant' lids as well.

We got home about an hour later and the kids, of course, wanted to go outside and use their new bubbles. So I got the scissors out and opened the clamshell package (seriously, WAY overpackaged, Crayola, just sayin') and ripped the seals off the Crayola bottles. Wow....This stuff looks like straight food coloring. I kid you not. It could easily pass for a 4 oz bottle of liquid food coloring. Wow. My better judgment tells me not to give it to my kids. Ya know, though, I've never had ANY issues with Crayola products. Like, at all. I used to teach preschool, and we used nothing BUT Crayola products. I buy practically nothing else for my own kids, either. Never had an issue with Crayola products staining anything, or being any less than spectacular in any way. So, I went against my better judgment and handed over the bubble soap and sent the kids outside. (I gave my 7 year old his colored bubbles, and my 5 year old the regular clear ones...no, this isn't 'unfair', for anyone who may whine--my 5 year old picked another toy as his 'treat'. The new bubbles were simply 'extra' for him.)

I quickly noticed my older son being somewhat messy with it on the patio furniture, so I made him move to the other side of the patio...if for no other reason than that I didn't want to have to take the umbrella down to scrub orange and green spots off of it later....we'll forget about the side of the house and the 2nd floor windows, etc. that I didn't want to clean. haha! I really didn't think too much about the colored spots all over the concrete patio, because, well, again, it's Crayola, and it's WASHABLE.

The boys played with the bubbles for about an hour. They obviously enjoyed their bubbles yesterday! My 7 year old came inside and cleaned up, so I went out to play with my 5 year old. He really wanted to try his brother's colored bubbles, so I said sure, and got them back out. We had fun blowing bubbles together for about 20 minutes before my bladder demanded I go inside to go potty. ;) So I ran inside real quick (my 5 year old is perfectly capable of playing in the fully locked and privacy fenced back yard by himself for a few minutes, trust me). It's just bubble soap, and it's got a similar spill resistant top as the other stuff he hasn't spilled yet. *runs inside*

I go back outside and the utter carnage was nothing short of impressive. Hahaha!

Mental note: Crayola tops are not as spill resistant as cheapy Walmart brand ones. Imagine that?!

See? Impressive, especially considering I was inside for 1-2 mins at the MOST. (I'm going to spare you photos of the THOUSANDS of little dribble and bubble pop spots all over my fence, patio, house, etc....since those are to be expected. LOL!)

As shocking as that mess was, I really should've taken a photo of the kid, but these photos were an afterthought after I got him (and his footprints, and hand prints from the back door to the bathroom) cleaned up. haha! He was covered literally from head to toe. He had it IN HIS EARS. How does that happen? LOL! Oh well. It's Crayola, and it's washable...right?

Bring the kid inside, strip him down, throw his clothes--AND SHOES--into the washer (this is what play clothes are for, after all!), get him redressed and run to Lowes. See, we live in a townhouse...with underground sprinklers. We've lived here for 2 months...it's the first week of April. We have had no need to buy a garden hose before now, so we didn't own one. The package clearly says do not let sit longer than 1 week. Well great, it's only been 20 minutes, so it should come up pretty easily right? I wish!

Hosed it off....tons of green and orange water resulting (haha!), barely faded it. I've got to say that I was amazed at how little actual soap suds came off of the spots. I mean, this stuff is supposed to be bubble soap, right? Got out the scrub brushes, and just about every cleaner in our house--laundry soap, dish soap, Oxyclean, Awesome, vinegar & baking soda, CLR, Lime Away, Scrubbing Bubbles, Tilex, Lysol toilet cleaner, bleach, even various trial packets I had in a junk drawer. NOTHING pulled it off the concrete. We scrubbed and scrubbed till the soap suds ran white. *sigh*

Here are the 'after' photos:

Oh...I guess I *DO* have another nice thing to say about this product--it washed completely out of my son's clothing. Not that I was worried about his play clothes. His week old shoes will never be black and white again, but that's ok. MOST of it came out of his shoes when I threw them through the washer, too.

I've gotta say, this product pretty much needs a big, fat "FAIL!" stamp on the label. Awesome idea, extremely poor execution on Crayola's part. Even if it didn't stain, I probably wouldn't buy it again, as it's really crappy bubble solution that doesn't produce bubbles easily, and when the kids managed to get actual bubbles from it, they were small and there were only a couple from a freshly dipped wand.

I suppose I should add that I called Crayola this morning to voice my concerns. They are issuing me $10 in coupons to purchase a different Crayola product that I DO enjoy. I guess that's good, considering the bubbles cost $8 plus tax, but I wasn't real concerned about my wasted money so much as the mess. I was told 'the rain and sun will fade the stains in about 2-3 weeks'. Um....okie? The rep suggested I spray it with Tilex Mold & Mildew cleaner a couple times a day till the spots are gone. Um....okie? Apparently she missed the part about me not just hosing it off...but scrubbing the bejeezus out of it with every chemical in my house, including Tilex, which was laughable, by the way. Of everything I tried, Tilex did the least bit of good.

Time will tell, I suppose. I'm giving them the 2-3 weeks for the benefit of the doubt, although I'm still rolling my eyes. Doubt it'll do much good. I'll be sure to update this post with follow up photos in a couple of weeks. For now, I would *HIGHLY* recommend against buying this product for your children...unless, of course, you LIKE the permanently speckled look to your patio, fence, and house....Who knows? Maybe the speckled look will be all the rage in suburban backyard decor this summer!

Although, for those doll collectors who know me...I MAY try to cover it in Removezit and Oxy10 and bleach it out in the sun like I would an ink stain on a vinyl CPK head....hrm....That idea does have potential, although it'd likely get spendy. I wonder if the dollar store carries generic Oxy10? Hrm.....

31 March 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

This is more of a rewrite of a post from my old blog, so all of the photos are old. So why am I posting it? Cuz it's another use for the basic white cake recipe I posted the other day. :)

No ingredient photo, sorry. Not sure where along the line that photo got separated from the pack, but it's gone now, no use dwelling on it, right?

You'll need 1-2 lbs of fresh strawberries, about a cup of sugar (maybe more, maybe less), a tub of cool whip (or you really could whip up some fresh whipped cream, not real necessary, though), and a package of cream cheese. Oh, and a cake of some kind. The basic white cake recipe I linked to above works AWESOME for this. But you could just as easily use a frozen pound cake, or an angel food cake from your market's bakery, or I GUESS you could use some of those really nasty tasting little sponge cake cups that markets always seem to have on a shelf right next to the fresh strawberries. (Have you ever eaten one of those things? Gag. I'll eat the strawberries by themselves with a spoon first, thanks.)

Yummmmmm! Start by rinsing your strawberries. Cut off the tops and slice them up however you want. I normally slice them into quarter segments.

Then sprinkle them with about a cup of sugar and mix it all up. More or less, depending on how sweet your berries are and how sweet you like them to be. Yeah, you'll have to actually taste one to know. Cooking is so unpleasant, isn't it? ;)

Put the bowl of sugared strawberries into the fridge for a couple hours. This is a very necessary step. Why? Because you are macerating the strawberries. That sugar is not only going to make the berries sweet, but it is going to pull SOOOOOO much juice out of them and make a yummy 'sauce' for them, too! :D And yup, the photo of the finished strawberries apparently ran off with the ingredients photo. Oh well.

Meanwhile, bake your cake and make your cream. Put the whipped cream and the cream cheese in a large bowl and mix them up until smooth and totally combined. You can do this by hand or use a mixer...doesn't really matter. Hand mixing is better for your arm muscles, though! ;)

I really miss my red spoonula...I think it disappeared with the rest of the photos for this post. Its blue and green brothers are still in my drawer, though....*tears*

When you're ready to serve, put a slice of cake on a plate, and top with a few spoonfuls of the strawberries. Make sure to include lots of the juice to soak into the cake!

Put your cream mixture into a Ziploc bag and trim off a corner and pipe some of it over the strawberries.

Top with a few more strawberries, and make sure to spoon lots of the juice over the whole thing.


30 March 2011

Apple Cinnamon Cake

This is the first of what I'm sure will be half a dozen follow ups to my basic white cake recipe post.

Grease your pan with margarine (or butter, I guess). Peel, core and thinly slice 3 medium apples--any kind you like. Layer half the apples on the bottom of your baking dish. Sprinkle about 1/4-1/2 cup (yeah, I don't measure...just be generous) of brown sugar over the apples. Add about 1-2 tbsp of ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients in the cake batter. You could also toss in some nutmeg or ginger or heck, even pumpkin pie spice would rock. Layer the rest of the apples on top of the cake batter, and again, sprinkle with 1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar.

Bake as directed.

29 March 2011

Basic White Cake

Pretty basic recipe for white cake. I didn't write it, and I don't remember where I got it, honestly. I've been using it for about 6 years now, though, and it rocks. :) It's amazingly light, yet substantial. It's sooooooo utterly moist (although if I recall correctly, I edited the recipe to include milk, because the original was almost the texture of cornbread). You can alter it in any number of ways, and it's always perfect.

Sorry, no photos, as I haven't made it plain in a couple months. I'll post some follow-ups to this recipe in the next few days with a few other ideas that work well with this recipe. :)

What you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine (I really think the original called for butter? But I use Country Crock for almost everything, so....)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (add more if you'd like. I never measure, so I'm sure I always do. LOL!)
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour an 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan, I use a Pyrex.

Cream the sugar and margarine together. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the two mixtures, and then mix in the milk till combined.

Pour into the pan, and bake for 30-45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted half way between the edge and the center comes out dry.

*Edited to add: I found photos that I posted on my old blog when I posted Strawberry Shortcake the first time!*

28 March 2011

BBQ Meatballs

One of my all-time favorite things! Sooooo yummy & SOOOOOOOOO easy!!!!

A sudden craving for these came over me this morning, so I just had to make them for lunch today. :)

It's basically the same recipe I'd use for meatloaf (only for meatloaf I'd use a mixture of ground meats) or salisbury steak, only shaped into meatballs. :)

What you'll need:

Hamburger--About 2 pounds, but you could use more if you wanted to make more; seasoned bread crumbs; salt & pepper; one medium onion (feel free to use any color you have); 3 cloves of fresh garlic; one egg; ground cinnamon; Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick.

Not present for picture day: Soy & BBQ sauces. My bad!

Throw the hamburger into a bowl and grate the onion with a box grater directly into the hamburger (you want all the juice, etc., too). Make garlic paste and add it to the bowl as well. Add a palmful of grill seasoning, the egg, a dash of cinnamon, about 2 tbsp of soy sauce and about a cup of the bread crumbs to the bowl. Mix it all up with your hands, but don't over-mix it, as it'll make the meat tough.

Turn the meat out onto a cutting board (or counter, whatever), and divide it evenly in half repeatedly until you have 32 equal portions (you could absolutely make them larger or smaller, these will be about 2-3 bites each). Roll the portions into balls.

Heat up a skillet (I used a non-stick skillet, but it really doesn't matter too much) over medium heat and plop a few in the pan--do NOT over crowd the pan!! I do batches of about 6. Brown one side, flip, brown the other, flip, brown another, etc. I usually only do 3 sides. You're going to bake them, so don't worry about cooking them through, just make them a little crunchy on the outside. Remove the meatballs to some paper towels to drain the grease, and throw another batch in the pan. When the grease drains, move the meatballs to a foil-lined baking pan. Trust me...line your pan with foil. Your husband will thank me later when you make him do the dishes. ;)

When you get all of the meatballs browned, top them with your favorite BBQ sauce. Use whatever you like, really. I'm usually a fan of home-made sauces, but I really love Sweet Baby Rays for this.

Bake at about 375-400 degrees for about an hour. They will be all sorts of ooey gooey yummy when you pull them out.

Yes, as you can probably tell, they were too good to keep people's hands off them, so I wound up taking photos after plates were dished. haha!

Serve over rice, with tooth picks as an appetizer, on hoagie rolls with swiss cheese, etc. NOM!

27 March 2011

Garlic Paste

This is one of my favorite things to make just to have on hand. I used to buy garlic paste in a resealable tube, but then I saw someone on Food Network doing this about 7 or 8 yrs ago (I really want to say it was Rachael Ray?), so I tried it once, and I've been doing this ever since.

All you need is fresh garlic and coarse salt (nothing finer than kosher salt).

Just peel the garlic and cut the ends off (you probably don't have to cut the root ends off, but I always do). Then just keep mincing it till it's as small as you can get it.

Here's where the magic happens: Add a pinch of salt, right on top of the minced garlic. Run your knife through it some more. Lay your knife flat on top of the garlic and press down on the knife with your palm while moving it across the pile of garlic. I really hope that made sense? Just smash the ever-loving heck out of it. The salt will help smash it up like you wouldn't believe. If you feel you need to add more salt, feel free. A small pinch of salt will help tear up about 5 cloves of garlic, so that's a pretty good guideline. :)

Just keep going till it looks like this:

Click to see larger.
You can keep going if you want it even MORE fine, but this is usually fine enough for my purposes.

Throw it into ANYTHING you want to put garlic in--AWESOME in mashed potatoes! Just remember, it has some salt in it, so make sure you add it BEFORE you put any salt in your dish, and taste it before adding any additional salt. :)

26 March 2011

My Favorite Blankie

So, I have this blanket. Affectionately known as "my pink blanket". My dad's aunt made it for me when I was 3 or 4, and it's been my favorite ever since. It's a hand-stitched lightweight linen quilt. Or, well, it was. Now, 25 yrs later, it's not much more than a rag, but it's still my favorite blankie. :)

The problem is, however, that my husband and my children ALSO love it. It's a favorite throughout the whole house. I almost never get to use it. It even went on deployment with my husband in 2003. And most other times his ship went out, for that matter. I brought it downstairs the other night to curl up with on the couch while my husband worked a late shift. The next day, I had my feet wrapped in it and my 5 year old demanded I pick my feet up and then flat-out stole it from me! That is how much it is loved around here.

Problem is, it's falling apart. Duh. But, every time I wash it, I find pieces of it in my lint trap. :( I really should have it professionally cleaned and put it away for safe keeping. But ya know what? I'd just miss it too much. Call me sentimental, but I can't bring myself to do it.

24 March 2011

Tater Tot Casserole...or something kinda like it!

So, I need to go grocery shopping. Like, pretty bad. I had planned to go today, but I kept one of my kids home from school, and I have this hang up. I do NOT like to take kids or my husband with me. I spend way too much money when I take them, and it is SOOOOO much less stressful without them. haha! Bottom line: I didn't make it to the store today. Oh well.

I was fishing through my kitchen for something for dinner. My thought process went something like this: Hmmm...hamburger, steaks, pork cutlets, chicken breasts...all still frozen. Hrm. Out of rice....crud. Out of pasta, but I suppose I could make some quick home made pasta using Pastor Ryan's recipe/method. (Ok, OT...but his blog rocks, and I've never made ANY of his recipes that didn't totally rock, too.) But, I'm REALLY not in the mood to clean up that kind of mess tonight. *sigh* *looks around some more* Oh, there's Rice a Roni in my cupboard. WHY is there Rice a Roni in my cupboard? Where the heck did THAT come from? Yeah, not in the mood for Rice a Roni. Ummmmmm...

Ok, so you get the idea. My thought process wasn't real cohesive tonight. This is what I came up with...I took some photos, but no ingredient photos since I threw it together without much of a plan.

So my 'cooking' tonight went something like this:

"Suppose I ought to defrost SOMETHING. Hmm...Hamburger." (Hamburger into the microwave.)
"Ooh! Hot Rotel! Great!" (Rotel into the bowl!)
"Ooh! Southwest mix frozen veggies!!" (Veggies into the bowl!)
Hmmm...this could be awesome on tortilla chips...
"hmmm...I suppose if I make something spicy, the husband is gonna complain if there's no cheese." (shreds cheddar cheese.)
*BEEEEEEEP* (Puts still-half-frozen hamburger into a skillet to brown.)
"I should add some beef-ish flavor to that rotel veggie mix." (Tosses in a bullion cube.)
*drains & rinses now browned hamburger*
"Hmmm...should probably season the hamburger." (Tosses in a few tsp of Katherine's Taco Seasoning and about half a cup of water)
"Hmmm...should probably just mix it all together and serve it over rice or something." (Mixes the hamburger mixture with the Rotel/veggie mixture in the skillet, lets it boil a few mins.)

"Oh, I forgot. No rice. Great." *Fishes through the kitchen again*
*Remembers bag of tater tots that has been in freezer for the last 6 weeks.*
*Turns oven up to...well, where ever it landed...450, maybe?*
"Hmm I suppose I could cook this all together. OH! We can call it Tater Tot Casserole!!!!!!" (insert somewhat proud feeling here!) (Pours veggie/hamburger mix into the bottom of a foil-lined 9x13 baking pan.)
"Oh yeah, cheese for the husband." (Sprinkles a handful of cheddar over the meat/veggie mix. Tops with tater tots and presses them down into the hamburger/veggie mix to soak up the liquid during baking.)
*Throws the now exceedingly heavy tray into the oven.*
*Goes about her regularly-scheduled whatever it is she does.*
*Forgets about dinner.*

Almost an hour later....

"OH CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPPP!!!" *Runs to the kitchen, pulls pan out of the oven...PERFECTION!* *WHEW!*
*Sprinkles with a bit of cheese because my husband will whine I didn't use any if he can't SEE it...*
*Cranks the oven to Broil and throws the pan back in for about 3 mins till cheese is bubbly.*


Ok, not in any way, shape or form healthy....but it was good, used up a bunch of stuff that had been sitting in my house since we moved in last month...and no one complained about it! That, my friends, is the very definition of a successful meal in my house!

18 March 2011

"Quick" Project

Ok, so there's nothing quick about it...especially when you sew all of the hems by hand. hahaha! But, I do love it! And it totally serves my purpose, which was to block the sunlight from coming through that window and hitting people in the living room in the face. As much as I loved how light and bright it helped make my living room, that window is about the worst-placed window I've ever had in a house. The sun comes right through it for about 4 hrs in the afternoon. Thankfully, the other two big windows in my living room let in a lot of light. :)

The photo of the fabric is from my phone, so it's a little blah and washed out. The fabrics are both slightly darker. :)

This one's a little dark, but I'm still pretty happy with the results. :)

We won't go in to how I had to balance on the barstools from the kitchen and still had to use a spatula to shove the curtain rod up that high; or how after I was up there, I dropped the curtain rod and curtain and had to beg my 7 yr old to help me get it because I didn't want to climb back down; or how I twisted my back wrong when I was climbing down. Cuz it's done. And I love it. And it was...um...worth it? *snicker*

Now...to make a matching 3 piece set for the back door, a panel for the small window in the stair way, and a valance to go over the sheers in the entry way window.

16 March 2011

Hawaiian BBQ Pork Cutlets

Doncha hate it when a recipe has "Hawaiian" in the title, and the only thing even remotely "Hawaiian" about it is that it has pineapple in it? Yeah, me too. But this is one of those recipes. ;) haha!

No photos again tonight, sorry! But, it's pretty much the same method as my Pineapple Upside Down Pork.

What you need: 8 boneless pork cutlets, your favorite BBQ sauce (I like the recipe linked below), a can of crushed pineapple, flour, Old Bay seasoning, olive oil.

Start by mixing a handful of Old Bay into about a cup of flour. Dredge the pork cutlets in the flour/Old Bay mixture. Put them in a hot skillet (medium-high or slightly lower) with about a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Cook till golden brown on the bottoms, flip them over. Smear a spoonful of BBQ sauce on the browned side while the other side browns.

When the bottom is brown, flip the pork cutlets sauce-side-down into a baking dish and smear the other side with the BBQ sauce. Then add a spoonful of crushed pineapple to the top of each pork cutlet. Continue this method till all of your pork cutlets are in the baking dish, stacking them as you go.

Throw the baking dish in the oven at 375 degrees (or higher, I used a glass pan and that's about as hot as I'm comfortable using it) for about 20 mins.

Here is the BBQ sauce that I used...amazingly yummy, like EVERYTHING this guy cooks. :)

11 March 2011


I don't know about your family, but my family has a total love/hate relationship with leftovers. *I* love them. Everyone else hates them. haha!

If I have learned anything from cooking for my picky husband for the last 9 years, it's to plan ahead for leftovers. Don't put away leftovers of whatever it is I serve for dinner. For example, if I make lasagna tonight, I don't plan to serve leftover lasagna. Ever. If I put away leftover lasagna (or any other dish), I'd better be planning to eat it myself, because otherwise it'll sit there until it's time to throw it away.

So I plan ahead. Make extra sauce, brown extra meat, shred extra cheese, etc. Use what is needed for tonight's meal, and put the rest away in the fridge or freezer to assemble into another meal entirely. So another night this week, we can have spaghetti, or I can incorporate the meat into tacos or enchiladas, and then use the marinara sauce with deli ravioli or something else another night. If you make meatballs, make a triple batch, and tonight you can put them with spaghetti, a week from now, you can throw them in the crock pot  and make sweet and sour meatballs out of them, another night you can make BBQ meatball sandwiches with your favorite BBQ sauce, some swiss cheese and a hoagie roll. If you make mashed potatoes--make extra, and incorporate them into a shepherd's pie the next night or make potato pancakes for breakfast the next morning.

I made another batch of taco chicken the other day. We didn't eat it for dinner that night, but I froze it in small batches. Tonight we are having chicken quesadillas made with 'leftovers'. I've been making what I call 'cheater' meals like this the last couple nights, which is why I haven't posted recipes. haha!

09 March 2011

I'm Such a Spaz....

This will probably be the first of many similar posts I make....because I really am a total space cadet/clutz/spaz/etc.

So, tonight was the first time I've made mashed potatoes since moving in to this house. Got the potatoes peeled...ran the garbage disposal...clogged the drain. Yup, I knew better than to put potato peels down the drain, did it anyway, cuz I'm a space cadet.

Got on my hands and knees, took the drain apart, cleaned it out, and reassembled it. Problem solved.

Washed my hands, cut up my potatoes, and put them in a pot of water. Brought the water to a boil, then it hit me....guess what? I have no potato masher! "HONEY GO TO THE DOLLAR STORE, QUICK!!!" My ever-loving husband was halfway out the door before I realized that I while I have not yet purchased a potato masher for my new kitchen, I HAVE purchased a hand mixer. DERRRRRRR.

And if I didn't have two filthy chairs that were just begging to be shampooed when they came out of our moving truck, I would have never purchased the $6 hand mixer from Walmart. So for that, I must thank my children, because without that $6 hand mixer, their poor father would've had to run to the dollar store up the street for a cheapy potato masher to 'save' dinner. hahaha!

I'm such a spaz...

Why are you getting up at 0600?

Typical Wednesday. Alarm goes off (Yay for sleeping longer than the kids! *snicker*), I turn it off and lay there a minute, enjoying the 'calm before the storm'. After a few minutes of quiet, I get up, get dressed, do my hair, etc. Head back into the bedroom, warn the husband, who is still in bed, that I'm going to turn on the light, flip the light on and start grabbing clothes for the kids to wear to school.

It is only after I throw the kids' clothes on our bed that my husband chimes in 'WHY are you up at 6 am? Is there a reason for it?' ummm...DUH? "I've got to drive you to work and then come back and get the kids to school." 'No, Babe, I've got the day off.' "WHAT? It's Wednesday?! I thought you were off this weekend?" 'I am, but I'm also off today. Come back to bed.' "*grumble* You couldn't have told me this LAST NIGHT, as in, before I set my alarm? As in, while I was making your lunch for today?" 'Sorry, I thought I did.'

*Grumble* This had better not be an omen of how my day's gonna go. Hahaha! On a good note, I don't have to take the kids to school OR do their morning routine. This is going to be my husband's 'punishment' for not telling me I didn't have to get up at 6 am. *evil laugh*

08 March 2011

"Mexican Rice"

I made a simple and quick dinner tonight, and wasn't in the mood to take photos...so you're getting a recipe/method and no photos. haha! Healthy it's not, but it's super yummy and will feed a crowd.

Ingredients: 1 lb hamburger (or you could totally throw in my Taco Chicken if you have some already cooked), 2 cans of Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilis), 1 bag of southwest mix veggies (Birdseye makes one I love...corn, black beans, onions, red and green peppers, etc.), 1 1/2 cups of white rice (you COULD do this with brown rice, I suppose, but it'd take forever to cook....not really worth it when you're making a 'quick' meal lol), 3 cups of water, 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese, and a few handfuls of Fritos (and tortillas if you'd like).

Simple enough. Brown and drain the hamburger (I throw it in a colander and run hot water over it to drain it) and put it back in the pan, season it with whatever grill seasoning you like, toss the frozen veggies and rice into the pan and mix it all up with the hamburger. Open the Rotel and toss it in, too. Add 2 1/2 cups of the water (you may or may not need that extra half a cup, depends on how soft you like your rice--taste it at the end). Cook it till the rice is tender (you want a LITTLE bit of water left in the pot), and add the shredded cheese. Mix it all up.

Serve in bowls topped with a few Fritos, or wrap it up in tortillas. Everyone loves it.

07 March 2011

Chicken Parmesan

Everyone loves Chicken Parmesan, right? RIGHT? :)

What you need:

Grated Parmesan cheese (don't buy the stuff in the can....either get the stuff in the tub at the deli or get a whole chunk of it and grate it yourself); seasoned breadcrumbs; oil to fry in; eggs; salt & pepper; flour; chicken tenderloins (this is a 1.5 lb package....and you can totally use breasts, just butterfly them and/or pound them thin....I just forgot to take chicken breasts out of the freezer, so I stopped at the store on my way home this afternoon, and I said 'hey less work for me!' and grabbed tenders; pasta (I used whole wheat linguine tonight. Use what you like).

Not present for picture day: Mozzarella cheese--and only because I didn't PLAN to use it, but my husband whined, so I sent him to the grocery store down the street while I was breading and frying the chicken. haha!

Start by setting up your typical 3-part breading 'station'. Seasoned flour--heavily seasoned with salt & pepper; eggs (feel free to add some milk to this if you want, not really necessary, though); breading. For the breading, I mixed equal parts grated Parmesan cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. This was a 5 oz tub of grated parmesan cheese, and I basically dumped it on a plate, filled the tub with breadcrumbs and mixed them together.

If I were you, this is where I'd get a cooling rack out and set it near my breading "station", pour about half an inch of oil in the bottom of either a big skillet or a dutch oven over medium-medium high heat, and then lay out about 4 or 5 layers of paper towels/paper bags/newspaper under an upside down cooling rack next to the stove.

Trim any icky parts off your chicken, then get to dunking. Flour, shake off the excess--coat in egg, let the excess drip off--breadcrumb/cheese mixture, get a good thick coating on there. Then just set the breaded chicken tender on the cooling rack.

Once you get them all breaded, fry them up in small batches--don't overcrowd your pan or they won't brown and it'll be a big icky mess. haha! I find for my dutch oven, 3 at a time is perfect and leaves me lots of room to get in there and flip them over. Fry them until the bottoms are nice and golden brown, then flip them over and cook till the other side is golden brown. Don't worry TOO much about cooking them through, as you're gonna throw them in the oven anyway. Remove to the cooling rack next to your stove. Lather, rinse, repeat until all of your chicken is cooked.

Pile all the chicken up into a glass baking dish (and resist the urge to nibble....or, well, just don't take a photo of that 'step')....

NOMNOMNOM...snag a couple for lunches, these make killer sandwiches!
Pour your favorite red sauce over it. Tonight I used a simple 3-ingredient red sauce (tomatoes, butter, onion) that I made too much of and froze a couple weeks ago. All I added was some oregano. Use whatever you like. Then, if your husband is whiny like mine can be...sprinkle the top with cheese...ugh.

Cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees till it heats through (about half an hour, 45 mins for tenders, but I'd probably do an hour for breasts). Then remove the foil and put it back in the oven till the cheese browns if that's what you're into. ;)

Serve over pasta, with a nice salad, maybe even some fresh garlic bread. :) NOM!!!!!