Dec 31, 2010

Cleanin' out the kitchen

We have now moved into November, the month that starts the seasonal over indulgence. The pantry was starting to overflow, so turkey chili with lots of beans was a must:

There were 2 carrots leftover from when Mike made lobster bisque and some onions from who knows how long ago.
Besides soup, all I could think of was a roast, so chuck roast it was. Considering I really haven't used chuck roast before, I did a pretty good job.

Mike had a work party and asked me to make something for it. After searching through my cookbooks I settled on this:
In the Better Homes and Gardens magazine these are called Spinach and Feta Phyllo Triangles but after research I found out these are called Spanakopita. They took some time to make, but they were really good! Everyone was surprised I made it. I was surprised too.

Cleaning out the freezer, I found lots of fish. We still had some that Mike had caught as well as some that my neighbor gave me.
If I recall correctly, the fish on the left is jack and the fish on the right is whiting. And the side is spinach and mushroom risotto (not homemade, from a box). Everything was very good.

We finally got some lemons from the tree Mike got last year, yay!
I haven't really made anything exciting from them yet. I know, sad.

Still in the theme of cleaning out the kitchen, we had 4 frozen turkey burgers left and no buns. So what did I make, poppy seed buns (because I had no sesame seeds!):
 My finished burger with fresh tomato:
Turkey burgers are always pretty bland, but these buns really helped liven things up!

Bone-in, chicken leg quarters have been the cheapest chicken (besides a whole chicken)  you can buy at Aldi. Unfortunately I haven't found too many recipes using chicken leg quarters that I like or have time to make. My old stand by : roast chicken legs (with garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper):
Simple and easy.

Half a bag of frozen corn as been staring at me from the freezer door for quite some time.
I am still not good at pairing dishes, so just breaded, pan fried, thin cut pork chops to go with it.

And finally, for today, my pretty dish. My friend had a holiday party and I had to work all day so the easiest, fanciest thing I could think of (and since I had stocked up on puff pastry dough from Adi....3 boxes in the freezer to be exact) was brie wrapped in puff pastry dough with a little poinsettia on top:
It was soooo good! Next time I do want to try topping the brie with something before I wrap and bake it.

Your overload for today is done. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year and until next time, please enjoy this photo of my babies (because I am in Ohio without them and I miss them):

Dec 30, 2010

Back in the sadle again

A quick up date for those that I have left sadly hanging for the past few months.... I ran a half marathon (yes 13.1 miles after never really being a runner before) back in November with my Dad. At the end of November, I switched jobs. I now work at a private veterinary clinic closer to my home than where I was working before. Mike and I are also working on a mini renovation of the house involving new flooring in one of the rooms and lot of new stuff from Ikea! I am currently on "vacation" in Ohio which is where this blog all began. Instead of bombarding you will a super huge post, I think spreading the various curiosities over the next few days might be good for everyone involved.

Lets go back to I really can't remember what recipes I used or what else the dinner/meal was that went with it, but I will try my best! 

This was my three legged chicken. I pulled it out to wash it and was like "What is wrong with this thing? Something is wrong" and for some reason it took me 5 minutes to figure out that it was missing one of the front legs! Ha ha. I felt so stupid that it took me so long. Anyway, this was just a roasted chicken, nothing new.

I got a great deal on pork chops at, where else, Aldis sometime back in October. Thus, a pork chop dinner:
 Pan-seared pork cops with sauteed onions and corn. Simple and delicious.

Remember that roast chicken from like 2 seconds ago? Well of course we had leftovers so I made chicken tacos later in the week:
That avocado looks so yummy! I want some now :(

At the very end of October I came home from a 12 hour day at work to a wonderful surprise:
 While I was at work, Mike went to the store and got a brand new table cloth and some lovely glass votives, but the real surprise was that he made homemade lobster bisque and sangria for me! (no he did not make the bread, but he would of if he had time). He was all dressed up in his suit, looking as handsome as ever. It was a wonderful meal and of course we finished every bite:

One thing that I have made a lot in the past year but have never taken pictures of before are my homemade granola bars. I know this picture sucks but I almost forgot to take one again:

At some point in time, I made cookies. I really don't remember what kind or what they were for. They were probably chocolate chip, but you can decide:

And lastly, for today, our new kitchen appliance:
A Belgium waffle maker from, of course, Aldi. And it makes wonderful waffles:

That's your overload for today. Enjoy. Until tomorrow, please enjoy this photo of Mike and I from Halloween this year. He was Rodger Sterling and I was Joan Holloway from Mad Men:

Oct 11, 2010

Catch of Yesterday

Yes, I know. I skipped a baking Sunday. Shame on me. Come to think of it, what was I doing last Sunday? Uh, I think I slept most of the day :) Oh well. Let's back it up to Sept. 29th. A dish you have seen many times before, but never gets old. Whole wheat pasta with homemade sauce and fresh basil, courtesy of Mike:
Do I really need to describe this dish again to you? It's pretty self explanatory.

Last Monday we finally used up the last of the fish we had in the freezer (only for me to be summoned next door by my neighbor who gave me a bag of frozen tilapia as well as a bunch of other food). Another night of Mike cooking. He grilled up the swai along with some potato fries:
We had never done potato fries on the grill before and I have to say I am quite impressed. They had the nice smokiness of the grill that went really well with the fish (which I now forgot what Mike cooked it in).

2 days later it was finally my turn to make dinner. I opted for something really easy since I was meeting my friend later that evening. This is what I came up with:
Sauteed onions and italian sausage with white rice. Mike very much enjoyed it. The onions were really good, but I haven't been a real big fan of sausage. I think it has alot to do with spending part of my childhood in Bucyrus, OH, the bratwurst capital of the US. Since then I have to really be in the mood for sausage to actually enjoy in.

I did actually do some baking this past Sunday while Mike spent the day fishing. I made ranger cookies from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook:
They have oatmeal, raisins, and coconut in them. They are actually a little too sweet for my liking and I think that's because I used sweetened coconut. Oh well. At least they are edible.

After his finishing adventures yesterday, Mike returned with some flounder, grouper, and red snapper. We did not cook any yesterday since I had plans in the evening, but we made up for it tonight. We used the crispy flounder fillets recipe from the fish cookbook Mike got for me. I prepared everything, and Mike cooked it. Pineapple was all about the free smells:
We made quite a bit, but we wanted to use the flounder while it was still fresh. Paired with some steamed broccoli, and dinner is served:
The flounder was so good. It just melted in your mouth and it wasn't fishy at all. I think I am sending Mike out again this weekend to catch some more.

Something else I have been meaning to share. My mother's birthday was a few weeks ago and I made her a very late birthday present, but I was waiting to share it until she got it so I wouldn't ruin the surprise.
I made potholders :)  She seemed to like them, so I am glad I made them.

Until next time, please enjoy this photo of  me from back in 2007 when Mike and I took a spring break vacation down to Florida to visit my Aunts. This is when I used to dye my hair black and when I was very impressed with my lizard catching skills:

Sep 27, 2010

I am running out of good titles...

Yesterday was baking day. To start the day off I made coffee cake from my Betty Crocker cookbook:
I was trying to make the streusel-filled variety, but this is what happened:
It came out more like cinnamon swirl coffee cake. How did I screw this one up? Well when I went to make the streusel topping, I think the butter was a little too warm and it melted all the brown sugar even before it got to the oven. It still was awesome. I think I may make it this way again.

The pie, the wonderful apple pie. Apples are finally in season again so Aldi's had multiple varieties and they had their pre-made pie crusts again. I am still working on my pasty making and I wanted this pie to be good, so I used a pre-made bottom crust. But Mike wanted a crumble top instead of a normal apple pie crust. So here it is:
I will share the taste sensation with you in a bit.

Dinner (before our 7 mile run/walk) was nachos made with ground turkey, onions, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and jalapenos:
It would have been nice with some sour cream, but that's not something I normally stock in the fridge. But for ground turkey mixed with taco seasoning, it was excellent. I have never thought to use ground turkey in nachos but I got the idea from the Jennie-O website. It was a little too heavy to eat before a long run, that's for sure.

But after the run, what did we have? Well how about some homemade vanilla ice cream with warm apple pie on our wonderful new plates:
Sooo good. That's all I have to say about that.

And tonight's dinner, shrimp tacos! Mike prepared everything tonight, and instead of avocado mayo, we just had slices of avocado:
Yum :)

Until next time, please enjoy this website that brings me much laughter. Even though I am a crafter and I screw a lot up, this is still hilarious. WARNING: Some language and pictures contain adult content.

Sep 25, 2010

Live life like you want to live it

My Father reminded me tonight of something my Grandma used to say. I miss her so much. Each glance at her picture brings tears to my eyes. Wearing her jewelry instills in me a sense a pride and love but still a tinge of sadness. I apologize for all the sentimental blabber, but I am still struggling with the emotional turmoil this has left in my head. Every day I strive to be like her in so many ways. When I am making dinner, doing chores, or even shopping, I think to myself "this is what Grandma would have liked" or "this is what Grandma would have done".

Speaking of dinner (nice transition, right?). I wanted to go out to eat tonight but then I reminded myself how much it costs and how much money I don't have. Mike and I went grocery shopping at Aldi's tonight (I ran out of eggs and can I have baking Sunday without eggs and milk!?!), and picked up some eye of round steak for dinner. Now even though this took a little while, it is more wholesome (and cheaper) than a dinner from one of our local restaurants. I give you eye of round steak with homemade mashed potatoes (using my homemade chicken broth) and fresh spinach salad:
The spinach is a little wilted, but it was the last in the bag and I wanted to use it up. As for the steak.....well I read, after the fact, that this cut of meat should have been marinated for 6-12 hours. It was quite tough, good, but tough. A nice cheap cut and probably a really good cut if marinated properly. Of course my potatoes are always amazing, but what can I say :)

No dessert tonight, but I will be making apple pie tomorrow! Yay! Until next time, please enjoy this photo from 2005 of my Grandma, Grandpa, and I at the velodrome where my Grandpa used to bike race (I think):

Sep 23, 2010

Mad Men

I have been watching way too much Mad Men (and now I am finally caught up and I don't know what to do with myself while waiting for the next episode). Come to think of it, what will I do when they end the show for good? I don't even want to think about it! The show has inspired me to dress nicer and take pride in how I look, but to also appreciate what I have and my family. If you haven't watched any, I suggest at least watching one episode, just for me :)

Let's back up to this past Sunday, baking day. Now I didn't make bread since we still had a ton (apparently last week was not sandwich week) but I did make coconut macaroons topped with chocolate to take to Sarasota for the birthday extravaganza:
I used imitation almond extract instead of vanilla, and they came out pretty good. I can't remember which cook book I pulled them from. They did the job.

Since we came home with some left overs from Sunday I really didn't need to cook much, but  prior to our run on Tuesday night I figured some pasta would be helpful. Just some whole wheat penne with homemade mushroom sauce:
You can't really tell, but this wonderful dinner is in one of my gorgeous new bowls my Aunts got me for my birthday. I need to work on getting some good pictures of the dishes to share.

Since I am Mad Men obsessed, I have been cooking a lot from my 1950s Betty Crocker cook book(yes, I know, Mad Men in set in the 1960s). Last nights dinner was butter-kist chicken. The idea of the recipe is to take pieces of chicken that usually aren't very good or may have passed their prime, and make them good again. The chicken cooking:
I know this is not super healthy. Pretty much you simmer chicken in butter for an hour or so. Yes, I used chicken thighs with skin on, but a bag of chicken thighs is so cheap compared to boneless skinless chicken breast. The finished chicken:
Okay so it doesn't look all that appetizing, but it was so juicy and wonderful. I probably should have removed the skin to make it a little healthier, but the skin was soooo good! I didn't make anything else to go with it since I thought this would be enough for us, and it was, especially when you see what I made for dessert.
Dessert tonight was a boxed confetti cake mix made with applesauce instead of oil and then topped with my homemade strawberry frosting:
Yes, it looks funny, but I only had one round pan and one square pan and I didn't want to wait to bake two rounds separately, so I made an awkward cake. Again, not healthy, but the applesauce in place of oil made the cake almost angel food like. It was spectacular. Actually, I think I will go have a piece right now!

Until next time....well I don't have a nice photo for you please go and enjoy the Mad Men website.

Sep 15, 2010


Sometimes it's the simple things that are the best. And it doesn't always need to be with food. Simplifying your life or enjoying the simplicity of a warm summer's night or even a simple kiss.

Last night's dinner was just that, simple. Put the pasta on to boil, picked some fresh basil from the garden outside, and heated up some canned diced tomatoes (with a few essential spices) and ta da:
Mike was commenting on how good it was as he stuffed his face. I really didn't do anything spectacular. But it just shows how good simple can be.

Tonight's dinner was also simple. Broiled the last of the grouper fillets in some melted butter and lemon juice and steamed up some veggies:
Not as splendid as the pasta, but still simple, good, and healthy.

And that rounds out my simple day. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of Mike and my youngest brother during a hike we took back in 2007:

Sep 13, 2010

Shrimp Tacos!!!

Yes, I made shrimp tacos for dinner tonight and they were wonderful. I finally used the big (well bigger than the one I currently have) food processor Mike bought for me about a month ago:
These tacos weren't as good as Taqueria Monterrey but they were still super awesome. So here you go:

Steph's Super Easy Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mayo

30-40 medium peeled and cooked shrimp
2 ripe avocados
1 medium sized tomato
corn tortillas (I think we ended up using 10)
2-3 tbsp light mayo
1-2 tbsp of lime juice
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of salt

Thaw the shrimp per instructions on bag (next time I am going to try uncooked shrimp so I can grill them myself). Prepare avocado mayo by placing 1 chopped avocado in the food processor with the mayo, lime juice, salt and pepper. Blend until almost completely smooth. If using pre-cooked shrimp, saute thawed shrimp in skillet for about 2-3 minutes until warm. Remove from skillet, cover and set aside. Heat corn tortillas in skillet while chopping tomato and other avocado. Then all that's left to do is combine everything. Yay!

Like I said before, I think I may get uncooked shrimp and grill them next time. Also, maybe I will pick out little less ripe avocados so I can make pretty slices, instead of the mush it looks like.

I am now full, thus it is time to veg out on the couch and watch Mike play the copy of Halo Reach that he got the day before the release. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of my Grandma at one of her birthday parties before her stroke:

Life will go on

So some of this pictures are from quite some time ago (and by quite some time, I mean like 2 weeks ago).

Let's jump back to August 25th. After going through the fridge and realizing there was nothing there, I opened the pantry and found that is was packed with tons of canned food (I don't know why I never look in there for dinner options). Thus, I made up my version of a 5 bean chili. It's very similar to my normal chili, but you just dump in whatever beans you have in the pantry at the time. I also added a small can of green chilies, which gave it a nice zing:
I actually prefer this to my normal meat chili since this seems to taste better and better as the days pass. With a normal meat chili, the beef (or turkey) seems to dry out and taste sort of bland a few days later.

Three days later, on August 28th. I defrosted the pre-seasoned pork tenderloin I picked up at Aldi's a week earlier. It was a meat and potatoes kind of day,  so I made my homemade mashed potatoes using smart balance butter and my homemade chicken stock instead of normal butter and cream. I also like to leave the skins on (after a good washing) since you get a little more added fiber. And what goes better with mashed potatoes then corn:
 The pork was very juicy, but it took a lot longer to cook then the package had directed. Of course my potatoes are awesome, but I love potatoes in general.

Sunday, August 29th, baking day. I have made the past 3 Sundays (with the exception of last Sunday since I was in NY) baking day. Baking day consists of 1 or 2 loaves of bread and a batch or two of cookies. Since I had messed up the previous week and forgot the cinnamon in my cinnamon raisin bread, I decided to redeem my self using this recipe. Bread in the oven:
Out of the oven:
And sliced:

Now my swirl wasn't as nice as the one on the recipes web-page, but it worked. It was very good. The only issue we had was when we toasted the bread. Since it has that swirl running through it, it would fall apart at those spots in the toaster and while eating it. I think next time too I would like the cinnamon flavor to run throughout the entire loaf and not just in the center.
Also on baking day I made oatmeal lace cookies. I wanted to share with you how I get them so nice and flat and lace-like:
I smoosh them down with the bottom of a glass and some parchment paper. They cook much more evenly and they also get the small holes in them that make them appear more like lace. My finished batch:
Of course they were gone in 2 days.

Going back to the pantry, since I had not gone shopping yet, I discovered a hidden plethora of pasta in the back corner of one of the shelves. I don't know why I don't make more pasta since I have so much. I decided on this recipe for dinner. The presentation:
I unfortunately did not have fresh asparagus or fresh tomatoes, but drained and rinsed canned versions also worked wonderfully in a pinch. I bet it tastes a little fresher with the right ingredients.

For some reason I have no pictures from the week of the 29th other than the pasta before. Since I left in a hurry at the end of the week, I didn't really leave much in the way of easy food for Mike. One of the days I was in NY, I guess he got hungry enough and really wanted the spicy chicken cilantro sausages we had in the fridge. But we didn't have any buns or rolls, so he decided to make his own:
Looks good, right? Well when I got home from NY there was still some left so I was able to experience his cooking skills. He did a wonderful job making the buns and they were very good. I need to get him to cook more often!

After I returned home from NY, I had to work the two days right after, but yesterday, Sunday, was baking day again. I don't know what I was thinking, but I made a loaf of bread using some rye flour I got on sale at Whole Foods, but I didn't take any pictures! I tried a little slice yesterday and it was wonderful. It's going to be for Mike's sandwiches throughout the week.
From my pink plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, I made their basic chocolate chip cookie recipes expect I used only butter (no shortening) and used half semi-sweet chocolate pieces and half white chocolate pieces. That one recipe made a lot:
You can never go wrong with chocolate chip cookies :)

And for dinner last night, in honor of Grandma Mary, I made a chicken with black beans and rice dish from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Now it's not the same black beans and rice that my Grandma used to make, but at least it has some of the same elements:
The recipe sounded good, but I think the way it was made caused the dish to loose it's luster. I think the rice should have been partially cooked before going into the oven and the chicken should have been covered by the tomatoes and black beans while cooking in the over to keep the chicken moist. Next time I will make those adjustments and let you know how it goes!

I think we are all caught up. I am very excited for tonight's dinner. Last week, the night before I left for NY, Mike and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant called Taqueria Monterrey. They had some amazing authentic tacos, one of them being a shrimp taco. So tonight I am going to try and make some shrimp tacos using corn tortillas, fresh avocados, and fresh tomatoes. Until then, please enjoy this photo of my Grandma and I, after her stroke, back in 2004: