Apr 30, 2010

How does your garden grow......

First off.....I got the job!!!! I will be working as a pet nurse/vet tech at Banfield Pet Hospital. I will be free of Aldi after May 14th. I feel bad since I liked the people I worked with so much, but the job was just not worth it. So now instead of a green polo shirt, I will now be wearing light blue scrubs and a stethoscope. Of course we will still shop at Aldi since the prices are so good, but where I will be working is right next door to a Whole Foods Market which will help Mike and I in our quest to avoid high fructose corn syrup (or anything with fructose or corn syrup in it), avoid preservatives and additives, and overall eat more unprocessed and healthy foods.

On to the new stuff.....

From my new Better Homes cookbook, on Tuesday I made Sour Cream Chocolate Drop cookies:
 They were really, really moist, but I could faintly taste sour cream. I don't know how I feel about them or if I will make them again.

Over the weekend, while I was working, Mike decided to be earth friendly for Earth Day and buy lots and lots of plants. Here is a look at our backyard now:
If you enlarge the picture, you can see I labeled the trees. On the left is the key lime tree, the middle is some sort of lemon, and the right is valencia orange. What are those boxes on the fence? Well let me show you:

The first box on the right hold three bush goliath tomato plants. Now the middle box planted with bibb lettuce and spinach seeds:
And the final box is planted with romaine lettuce and swiss chard:
Another view of the trees:
But thats not all Mike got:
He also bought two blueberries bushes! And of course our lavender and avocado plants are still going strong. And the long box in the middle? Well it's holding my basil, parsley, and cilantro that I seeded a few weeks ago:
When everything starts growing and blooming and fruiting we will have quite the garden!!

Mike wanted me to show off the fish he pan fried for dinner on Wednesday night (as well as my homemade mashed potatoes made with my homemade chicken stock):
I think this was the mackerel, but you would have to ask him.

And then yesterday I went on a cookie spree. Again, from my new cookbook, I made snickerdoodles:
And I modified the chocolate chip cookie recipe with a mixture of milk chocolate and white chocolate chips. The mixer in action:

Tonight is rib night! I am going to try a recipe from one of my Food Network magazines. I will let you know how it goes!

Until then, please enjoy this photo of some baby alligators at a put-put golf place in Orlando that I visited when my Aunt, Uncle, and their girls were here:

Apr 25, 2010

A little bit of fishing

I know it's not really crafting or cooking but I wanted to share some of the pictures from the week with you. First it was a visit with my Aunt, Uncle, and their three girls while they were vacationing in Orlando. Here is me with Benita, Jessica, and Alandra:
It was great to see them, it's been a while. Up till about 6 or 7 years ago our families lived near each other in Ohio and I spent alot of the time with the girls when they were young. Now they are all (almost) grown up. It's so amazing what great girls they have become!

After two 10+ hour days at work, I decided that on my day off I would go fishing with Mike, my Aunt Lorri, my Grandma, and her boyfriend Ray. They caught pinfish, jacks, mackerel, trout, and grunts. I lost count of who caught what, so just enjoy these photos:

Apr 20, 2010


UPDATE: Still waiting to hear back from that opportunity....one of the ladies was out of town till today, so that explains the delay.

Sunday, of course, was the day to try out a new recipe from my new cookbook. So for breakfast I made cranberry muffins:
I am glad that my cranberries were still partially frozen cause they would have been a pain in the ass to "roughly chop" otherwise:
I substituted 3/4 cup of white flour for whole wheat flour to make them a little healthier (and more filling for breakfast). As you can see from this picture, I beat the batter a little too much since I got some peaks on my muffins:
Very, very good. I like muffins with "fresh" cranberries instead of the dried, sweetened ones.

After my muffins, I had to tackle this:
We bought too many canned goods on Saturday, and I had to rearrange the cupboard to fit them all in, but until I did they sat on the counter like this all day Saturday and all day Sunday.

I had to work the closed shift on Sunday so I asked Mike to make me his pan-seared fish. And he lovingly did:
It was so so so good! The mackerel smelled fishy but did not taste it at all. I can't really describe what is tasted like (I guess like the sauce Mike put on it).

On Monday before work I made a large pot of chili so Mike could have left overs for the week. The onions, yellow peppers, and garlic sauteing in my wonderful dutch oven:
And the finished chili:
Exciting, I know.

Today was a pork roast in the slow cooker (sorry no pictures) and a fresh strawberry pie from my new cookbook. Now technically they weren't "fresh" strawberries, but it was very close. They were strawberries that were once fresh but were frozen and then thawed. And then Mike and I each ate a piece before I remembered to take a photo:
It's not very pretty, but it was good. I made the strawberry glaze myself and didn't do a half bad job.

I was scheduled to work tomorrow, but my boss texted me and told me I had the day off. I still haven't decided what I am doing tomorrow! It will be my first day to myself in a while. On my days off I am usually cleaning since I normally only get 2 days off a week. So until next time, please enjoy this photo of Toehead. He is a bearded dragon that used to be part of the collection over at the Malone University Serpentarium. He is aptly called "Toehead" because he has a genetic defect that caused him to grow a toe out of his head:

Apr 17, 2010

Who needs take out (or even frozen for that matter)?

Tonight was pizza night! Yay! Mike really really loves homemade pizza and it's way cheaper than take out and even the nicer frozen pizzas. Tonights choice was half mushroom, half spinach, but all sliced olives:
My base is a homemade dough made without yeast or eggs (sometimes I make a yeast based dough, but I like the flat bread taste of this one better).
The recipe for the dough is:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk (I normally use skim)
1/4 cup oil (I normally use olive)
This dough is fairly sticky, so you may need to add a bit more flour to pick it up and roll it out on your pizza stone or whatever. If you are using a pizza stone, I do not pre-heat it since I have to roll the dough out on it. Then I top it with my homemade pizza sauce. I don't normally measure when I make the sauce, but I will give you the ingredients. It's one can of tomato paste, olive oil, minced garlic, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and sometimes onion powder. I normally make it before I do anything else so it has time to sit and absorb all the flavors. Then I use whole milk mozzarella and slices of tomatoes. You can top it how you like from there. This pizza had fresh mushrooms (but I have used canned and they are awesome), canned, rinsed olives (I have used fresh and they are also awesome), and canned, rinsed spinach (I have not used fresh and I need to try it!). I have done chicken before, just make sure you saute it a so it's not completely raw when you put it on the pizza. I have also done a chorizo pizza too. Once you top it, bake your pizza at 425 F for about 20-25 minutes.

Alright, enough about pizza. Let me show you what Mike made for himself last night while I was at work:
 Sorry the picture is sort of blurry. Mike went fishing last weekend and ended up coming home with a ton of mackerel. I don't know what exactly he cooked it in or what spices he used, but he pan seared it and then ate it:

He said it came out really good and wasn't too fishy. Now I need to convince him to cook for me one of these nights :)

Guess who has a new cookbook? I found this at TJ Maxx for $13:
It's the Better Homes and Gardens Limited Edition Celebrating the Promise cookbook. I have not gotten a chance to look through it yet since it came plastic bound from the store. I did see it has a slower cooker section so I am pretty excited about that since mine needs some hardcore use.

Until next time, check out this photo of me from sometime back in 2007. I had dyed my hair black and cut it fairly short for me. Do you like it? Do you think I should try it again? I know Mike didn't care for it much, but I thought it was quite fun:

Apr 15, 2010


Yesterday I was scheduled from 7-2. Fine, I can do that. Well Tuesday night (after having to go in for a 8am meeting on that day....my day off), my boss texted me and asked me if I could work 6-1 instead. Okay, fine whatever. That will give me time to get somewhere I need to go that closes at 3pm. Wednesday morning I get up at 5am. I am getting ready to leave at around 5:35 and my boss texts me and says she is running late. So I wait till 6am, leave and get to work around 6:20 thinking that's what she meant by late. She didn't show up until almost 6:50. Why the f*** did I have to get up so early only to sit in my car for 30 minutes and not get paid?!? And then I didn't get to leave till 2pm since we didn't start unloading the truck until 7 am. And it was a huge truck. Normally between 6- 9 (or in this case 7-9) we unload pallets and stock the shelves. Then I get to be cashier for a bit and then go back to doing small pallets here and there. Not Wednesday. I barely got a break. I was working my ass off from 7-2. I am so sore. When I got home that night I felt like some one had kicked my ass and it looked like it too with all the scratches and bruises on my arms and legs. So I had to get up an hour early, and then I couldn't even leave early to make it to the place before it closes at 3 (it's on the west side of Tampa and I work on the east side so there was no way I was going to make it there in time). Ugh....

And guess what else happened on Tuesday, on my day off. The lawn guys finally decided to show up after at least 3 weeks of not mowing. Our lawn is out of control. Anyway, when they show up, we clean up the dog poop and open the gate so they have easy access to our yard (and so they don't break our gate). They are usually here all day working. After they left in the afternoon, I noticed the neighbors yards had been mowed (now granted they didn't seed during the winter so they have significantly less grass than we do). When I looked in our yard this is what I saw:
Well not the ruler (Mike put that there so he could take pictures to send to our property manager to complain). They edged the yard (very poorly I might add) and then never mowed. They mowed everyone elses yard, but ours? WTF!!! Sorry it's been a stressful couple of days. Mike is uber pissed too because he is paying all this money for HOA fees yet they can't even cut our yard? It's only 20 feet by 10 feet!!!

I did get to do some cooking on my day off, but first let me share with you what Mike and I found this past Saturday at a Ross store down here. First a sauce pan from Emeril's line of cookwear by All-Clad which we got for about $9:
The second is this wonderful saute pan that we picked up for $30:
Both were very good deals, so I am very excited! I haven't used the sauce pan yet, but I did use the saute pan for dinner on Tuesday night:
I don't know what to call this. I sort of made it up. I partially cooked some star shaped pasta in another pan while I sauteed garlic, onions, and chopped up chicken breast. Then when the pasta was ready I added it to the pan and also added a can of mixed veggies, some chopped tomatoes and a little pasta sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes. And that was it. It was really good and really good for you, especially since Mike and I are trying to eat healthier and smarter.

After that being said, I did make cookies on Tuesday too. But can you blame me, this box of mix was only 49 cents:
The cookie recipe did say it was going to make 21 3 inch cookies, but I ended up making about 3-4 dozen 1.5 inch cookies:
So we are eating them in moderation and trying to make them last for at least a week, if not more.

Well I close tonight and tomorrow night, so until next time, please enjoy this photo of baby Charlie during the first week we had them:

Apr 9, 2010

Things are looking up...

If you know me personally, then you know what I am talking about. But I can't say too much more until all is final.....I don't want to jinx it!

I want to share a few things that were made during this week. Mike has been making these personal pizzas this week using whole wheat square wraps:
This one had some of my home made pizza sauce, ground beef left over from tacos earlier in the week, onion, whole garlic cloves, and parmesan (since we ran out of all other cheeses!).

Super lean ground beef (93/7) was on sale, so Thursday night's dinner was ground beef with green beans and white rice (since Mike had a craving for it):
Nothing fancy, just a simple skillet meal. Really easy. It was good, nothing spectacular or super gourmet, but edible and low in fat and sodium!

After rummaging in the freezer for a few minutes yesterday, I found some imitation crab meat that my Aunt had sent up a while ago and a bag of frozen sweet corn. So why not some corn and crab chowder?
It was very colorful with the red peppers, yellow corn, and orange crab. Mike decided to make his bowl pretty:
I made way too much (especially since we still have left overs from Easter), but it was really good. I used skim milk instead of whole milk, so it was low in fat. I also upped the quantity of onion, red pepper, and corn so you get lots of veggies! Yum. Rachael Ray hasn't really done us wrong yet. Speaking of Rachael Ray, I really need to make some more recipes from the M.Y.O.T.O card set Dad got us for Christmas.

I need to stop making so much food! We have so many left overs, but Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has me really wanting to make everything I eat. Which also reminds me, I need to make some more home made granola bars. They are so expensive at the store plus they have also sorts of preservatives and additives in them.

Until next time, please enjoy this photo of Mike holding a little garter snake on a herpetology trip in the Smoky Mountains back in 2008: