May 30, 2010 I am ready

It's Sunday morning, I am sitting on the couch next to my Grandma (on my Dad's side) in her Long Island home, so I figured this lazy Sunday morning would be the best time to finally share my adventures with you.

Again, sorry it's been so long! I was looking back at the archives and it looks like I have only been posting about 6 or 7 blogs a month since I started working. Man, I suck.....

Let's go back to Friday the 21st.....I had an extraordinary amount of canned beans that my Grandma (on my Mom's side) had sent me as well as some frozen kielbasa, so I decided to make up a new chili to use them in:
If I recall correctly, I put in white northern beans, kidney beans, and black beans. I sliced the kielbasa in chunks and then I also added canned tomatoes, garlic, onion and some other stuff I can't remember now. The finished chili:
Ta da! It was really really good. I like it way better than my normal chili (Mike disagreed). The kielbasa gave it a very interesting taste, but a good one none the less. But then again, chili is pretty hard to screw up.

Last Monday I had to work the close shift. When I finished I called Mike and told him to pull out some fish to thaw and I would cook it when I got home. He mumbled something and agreed. When I got home I found this:

He had already made a pizza for me! Half was just mushrooms, onions, and olives, and the other half was onions, mushrooms, olives, and turkey pepperoni for him. He is so good to me :)

The next night we had a meeting at work that provided us with free dinner so I told Mike he had to fend for himself that night and this was the picture I found on my camera the next day:
I guess he made himself pasta and sauce. I didn't get to have any since he ate it all before I got home, but he was very pleased with it.

Wednesday night I felt super lazy. I saw a can of refried beans, blue corn chips, and cheddar cheese. Nachos:
I know it doesn't look very appetizing, but it was good. After I started eating it I realized I should have put some onions and olives on it....oh well.

I opened my big mouth at work and told people I was a baker. Of course I had to show of my skills and bring some cookies into work on Thursday. The plethora of cookies:

I made chocolate chip:
And peanut butter:
But of course I left some of them at home so Mike could enjoy some this weekend while I was gone.

And finally, Friday night I used some of the mackerel Mike caught for this recipe. Here are the chickpeas simmering:
I didn't have any basil left (since some one used it all earlier in the week), so I tried parsley instead and I also substituted yellow onions in place of spring onions since that's what I had. The finished meal:
I really liked it, but you need to have a taste for chickpeas, which I do. At least it used up the chickpeas and some of the mackerel we had.

Okay....that's it. Unfortunately, the rest of the week I work close shifts so I don't expect to be doing alot of cooking. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of Charlie that we took earlier this month to celebrate one of our friends birthdays:

May 29, 2010

Long Time

I know it's been a long time since the last post and I apologize, again. I have been working alot of close shifts, but I do have a few meals/baking adventures to share with you, but you will have to wait till tomorrow :)
I just got to NY for the weekend to visit with my Grandparents and my Dad, but I should have some time tomorrow (or at the lastest Monday).

I hope everyone has a good extended weekend!

May 19, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday

In response to a comment from last post: Thank you for your comment! Sorry about the picture, if it helps at all here are links to the components of the spice rack from IKEA: the magnetic bar and the spice canisters.

On to today. Why was today wonderful? Well after a unfortunate bout of food poisoning yesterday (which forced me to leave work after only being their for 40 minutes) and wasting the day away on the couch when I got home, I feel much better today. I was able to get my weekly cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, mopping) done in time for my yoga show at 11:30 which was promptly followed by more exercising while watching TV. After lunch and a shower, I picked up some great deals at a Ross near my house followed by even better deals at Aldis. Upon retuning home I was able to get quite a few more chores done that had been neglected due to work and I was even able to make dinner and dessert!

Grandma had sent Mike and I home last week with a bunch of food which included a plethora of frozen fish. Tonight's dinner was a baked haddock dish based on this recipe.
Right out of the oven:
This whole recipe called for fresh ingredients which I did not have. Instead I used frozen haddock (and one grouper) fillets, canned whole tomatoes (sliced), mozzarella cheese (I just didn't like the sound of cheddar cheese and fish), prepared bread crumbs, canned marinated artichoke hearts, and canned spinach (leftover from last weeks pizza and used in place of the crab meat). It smelled so amazing while it was cooking! Here is it with some steamed sweet peas:
First off, I never knew what a difference steaming frozen peas (in our new rice cooker!) made compared to heating them up in the! They weren't dry or hard or tasteless. It was quite amazing! As for the fish, excellent! It tasted as good as it smelled! It was such a good combination and I wouldn't mind eating fish this way again. Note: the grouper came out sort of dry but that was probably because it was a much thinner fillet than the haddock; it also had a much different taste than the haddock that did not go with the flavors as well.

While the fish was cooking I stumbled across this recipe while I was looking for a slow cooker recipe. I never thought to try dessert in a crock pot....genius! It said it only took about 2 hours to cook and I had all the ingredients so I figured having dessert a couple hours after our dinner had settled wouldn't be that bad. The finished product (while cooling before removing for serving):
It was quite funny to watch while it was cooking because as the steam built up in the chocolate below the cake and started the escape it made the cake pulse in weird spots sort of making it look like some alien creature brain. It also smelled heavenly. Now it didn't exactly come out of the pot pretty:
But it was delicious! A warm, moist, spongy peanut butter cake swirled with chocolate and topped (well while it was cooking the chocolate was below) with molten chocolate. good! I need to find more desserts to make in the crock pot!

Since I used tomatoes in tonight's dinner I thought I should check on our tomatoes outside:
Remember my post from last Thursday with my lone baby tomato? Well check these bad boys out now:
If you click on the photo is should bring up a larger version where you can see all the tomatoes I pointed out. And there are even more growing larger that are out of frame. Heck yea! I can't wait for tomatoes!

Until next time, please enjoy this photo that a student working with me a few years ago took of one of my research tokay geckos:

May 15, 2010

Kitchen pictures

Remember me talking about our trip to IKEA and all the wonderful things we (Mike) got? The kitchen was finally semi-clean and suitable for pictures. Here is the new light fixture we got to replace the old fluorescent one that died:
You can still see the outline and the holes from the old one, since we were in desperate need of light in the kitchen so I could cook ,that we haven't gotten around to painting the ceiling or filling in the holes....someday. Next is a new rack we got to replace the big glass beer steins that were holding all these utensils:
Yes, I know that the coffee pot and the mixing bowl are missing, but they were in the drying rack after being used earlier that morning. Next is the new spice rack:
This was to replace the metal rack with glass jars I had taking up the corner to the left of the stove. Of course I have a ton more spices, they are all in the spice cabinet, but these were the pretty ones that looked nice in the metal, magnetic containers. And finally, another magnetic bar:
This allowed us to get rid of the knife rack, clearing up more counter space. You can also see our new glass tea pot in this picture. It has a strainer basket in the middle to use with loose leaf tea (also an IKEA find). Where the blender sits it where the old spice rack used to be. As you can see, I now have a lot more counter space and things look a little more IKEA-y, which I love. Mike and I love going to that store and just standing around admiring their kitchen displays (as well as there bookcase displays, we have a weird obsession with bookcases and old books).

To the cooking, yesterday (my 3rd day off of 4), I made some flax seed bread using this recipe. Mixer dough hook action:
 The bread cooking:
And the finished bread:
I think maybe I over mixed the bread or killed some of the yeast or something, but it didn't rise as much as I would have liked during the second rising time, so the bread didn't get as big as I would have liked. I think it could use a little more salt, but Mike liked it just as is. For being a wheat, flax seed bread it was really moist and chewy and not bland at all. It also sliced really well, so I think it will be really good for sandwiches.

I also tried out our new ice cream maker yesterday:
I made fresh strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately, I for got to take a picture of the first scoop, but there is still some in the freezer, so I will take a picture next time we eat some.

Today is my lazy day (I work a full day tomorrow and we are going to a concert tonight), so don't expect anything for a few days! Until next time, please enjoy this photo of me and some friends scuba diving in the Florida Keys during a class trip there in the summer of 2008:

May 13, 2010

Two days in a row....hellz yea!

Yesterday we went to the store looking for this. But after a little thinking ("we don't need a deep fryer" "it will be bad for us" "ooh look at this fancy rice cooker" "our rice cooker is old and doesn't work well" "lets buy this"), we ended up with a new aroma rice cooker that sort of looks like this, but actually looks like this:

Anyway, dinner tonight was shepherd's pie via Colman's Shepherd's Pie Mix. I used all the ingredients it called for except I made mashed potatoes my way, with beef stock instead of the normal chicken stock I use. Before the oven (while I was still adding potatoes):
And after the over (after it bubbled and oozed all over):
I can't remember the last time I had shepherd's pie. This was good but not anything spectacular. I sliced some of the carrots too thick, so they didn't cook all the way through. Whatever.

After a quick trip to the backyard.....check out the tomato plants:
And if you look really close (sorry the picture is blurry), you can see a baby tomato:
Hooray! Okay, that's all for today. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of Mike and my "cousin" Rocky:

May 12, 2010

Cooked rats....

Doesn't that sound appetizing? Just a funny story: I have been feeding my snakes frozen rats for the past few months since decent live ones are hard to find down here. Anyway, after the rats thaw all day, I microwave them in water for a few minutes at a very low power just to heat them up so the snakes will be interested in them. Well it's been a few months since one of my snakes has eaten (don't worry, I offer her food at least every 2 weeks), so I thought a really warm rat may be enticing. I wrapped the rat in a wet paper towel and put it in the microwave for 1 minute on power level 2 (which is what I normally cook them at). At about 30 seconds in I heard a popping noise and said "oh shit", then I ran to the microwave. I opened the microwave and un-wrapped the rat and thought "oh, this rat still looks good, I can feed it to Ichi" and as soon as I thought that the abdomen popped open and intestines started spewing out. Okay, so the rat was now no longer good. Then Mike can running in, gagging, asking what happened, since the house now smelled like cooked rat poop. You live and you learn.

On that wonderful note, let me share with you dinner from the last few nights! On Monday night I called Mike on my way home from work and said "Can you make up some of my pizza dough so we can have pizza tonight?" and he said "sure!". Well when I got home, after he had already made the dough, I realized we had no cheese and no tomatoes. So this is what we ended up with:
A pizza with my homemade sauce, sliced olives, and canned (rinsed!) spinach. It really wasn't that bad! It is probably quite good for you too since there is no cheese (now cheese really isn't that bad for you, it just has a little too much saturated fat for my liking). This was an experiment that turned out surprisingly well.

Last night (again I worked the close shift) I had Mike make dinner again and he really wanted beer battered fish and chips. We don't have a deep fryer (and that's probably a good thing), so he just pan fried the fish (fish that he caught I might add) in some oil in our big saute pan and he also made those spicy fries that we love so very much:
The fish sort of looks like fried chicken in this picture. It was really good, but probably really bad for us at the same time. But at least we made it ourselves (right Jamie Oliver?)!

Today was just leftovers from Grandma, but I think tomorrow might be my version of sheppard's pie. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of Bernie doing some work. Bernie was a CPR dummy that my Dad let me borrow to use for some research I did as an undergrad. Bernie, with his camera mounted on his head, would watch lizards on the treadmill for us while we did other things:

May 9, 2010


I didn't realize that my last post was in April. I guess it's been a while!

Some updates for you: my last day at Aldi was just this past Friday. Hell yes....and I also started working this past Monday as a PetNurse (aka vet tech). Since I don't have formal training as a vet tech it is going to be a lot of learning, but at least I have the biology and animal background to help me do it (which is why they hired me). I have all my little flash cards made for all the abbreviations and terms I need to know.

Now to everything else! Lets jump back to the night of April 30th, right after I posted the last blog talking about rib night. Here is rib night:
I used the Sweet Tea Ribs recipe I found in my Food Network magazine from last month. But instead of the lemony potato salad I made my spicy potato fries again:
All together now:
Remember....the black on top is not burned meat, it's cooked tea leaves. What an excellent taste these had. You could really taste the orange as well as the black tea. I have another rack of ribs in the freezer (they were 2 days from their sell-by-dates at Aldi so they were $4 off each! So I bought 2) and I may try a different type of tea next time and see if it changes the taste. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the taste of these, but something new might be exciting. Also, these ribs are really tender but not fall-off-the-bone tender, which both Mike and I like better since it makes them easier to eat and a little less messy.

Now onto May 1st, taco night. I still had some chorizo left in the fridge that needed to be used. Last time we made chorizo tacos they came out spectacular, so why not do it again? Plus this time I had just made fresh guacamole and had some fresh avocado slices. While I was prepping everything Mike got hungry and made himself a turkey-dog:
He had to take pictures of it to put on the blog. I guess he put cheese, salsa, and avocado slices on them and said they were "muy bueno". He also wanted a picture of his master piece taco:
He managed to get it to stand up and stay up for the photo, just a like a good little taco should. Then we ate them all and had no leftovers :)

Skip a few more days and now we are onto May 5th and back to our "always trying to make homemade" food kick. I have not made homemade granola bars since last year! With me no longer working at a food store, I figured it was time to make some. Here they are before the oven:
And after as I begin packageing them:
 I really can't remember where I got this recipe, but I wrote it down in a little notebook so I could use it over and over:
2c       rolled oats
3/4c    brown sugar
1c       whole wheat flour (could use white if you like)
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp baking powder
1tsp    cinnamon
1tsp    salt
1tsp    vanilla extract
1/2c    honey (sometimes I use agave nectar and it turns out just as good)
some water

extras (to be added by the 1/4c to your liking):
dried cranberries
sunflower seeds
slivered almonds
or whatever esle you may like

Pre-heat oven to 325F. Mix all ingredients up to vanilla together. Then add in all extras that you want and mix. Then add vanilla and honey and mix. I usually have to end up adding water a little at a time until all is moistened. It usually ends up being almost 1/2 cup of water, but add it a little at a time since you don't want it runny. Then press mixture into a greased glass baking pan (mine in the picture is a 11x8 but you can use bigger or smaller depending on the thickness you want for your bars). Then bake for 20-23 minutes (more time if thick bars, less time if thinner). Once the bars have cooled for about 10-15 minutes you can cut them into whatever shape you like and package them how ever you like. Just make sure to store them in the fridge. I wrap my in foil and then put them in a plastic container for the fridge.

And finally up to yesterday. Another bargain I got at Aldi was a half pork loin roast for $4 off, so lasts night's dinner was pork roast using part of a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and a marinade packet (I did not buy this packet, it was given to me... you know if I had the choice I would make my own marinade!). The roast going in:
I decided to keep the fat on and roast it fat side up to try and keep as much of the juiciness in.  While it was roasting, I went out side and look at what I found in Mike's new planters:
Seedlings! Yay! Hopefully sometime soon we will have fresh vegetables and it will help cut back on our grocery bill more! Speaking of grocery bill. I have been spoiled working so many hours and Alid, but I won't be working as many at the vet (which is fine, I will have more time to do what I love to do). I have been paying for most, if not all of the groceries for the past 3 months, but I am going to have to cut back and start budgeting again. Maybe I will finally do that "living on $150 a month for food" thing I kept talking about all those months ago. I digress....back to the pork.

The finished pork:
The left half would be used for dinner and the right half would be cut very thinly for sandwiches for the rest of the week. With some freezer burned green beans (I forgot they were in there!):
You may be asking yourself....what? No gravy or sauce? Trust me, this roast did not need it. It was so juicy and tender that I don't think I could have handled anything else. It made the freezer burned green beans taste that much better!

And something else I can finally share with you since the person I sent this to has gotten it (Happy Birthday!). The purse/tote bag:
With my busy work schedule I had been working on this bag for a few weeks in hopes to get it out in time for a certain someone's birthday (which also happened to fall on Mother's day this year). It was my first time working with pleats. I spent of ton of time making sure my pleats were immaculate and super even. Then when I went to sew the top band onto the bag, all my work went down the tubes. Apparently I basted my pleats too high up and they got all mushed around while I was sewing on the top piece. Well at least I know for next time (as well as maybe adding some inside pockets next time). Here is the inside so you can see the pretty fabric I found for the lining:

And now you are all caught up. I work the next 3 days in a row so do expect anything else till maybe Wednesday or Thursday. Until next time, please enjoy this photo of a New Caledonian Giant Gecko that my research team (back during my masters in Aug 07) was able to work with at a reptile show in Cleveland: