Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Super Mashers with Chicken and Green Chili Hash

This week I have revisited Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats. I prepared recipe number 144: Super Mashers with Chicken and Green Chili Hash. Now I am a huge fan of anything green chili, so this seemed like the perfect dinner... chicken, green chilies, mashed potatoes. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint (except for the fact that I dumped the leftovers all over the kitchen floor, that was disappointing).

Every layer in this dish was full of flavor. You start with a layer of garlic and scallion mashed potatoes; add a layer of sharp cheddar cheese; and top it with chicken, bell peppers, onions and green chili strips seasoned with green chili salsa. It was like a fajita in mashed potatoes instead of a tortilla! To change it up a bit, you could stuff a baked potato or fill a tortilla with the same ''hash''. YUM!

This recipe is one of a variation on a theme. She has what she calls a master recipe and then makes a couple more featuring a few different ingredients. Same basic dish with different flavors. I can't wait to try the other variations!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's a quick little Thanksgiving project for the little ones who will be joining you for dinner. Take a large Styrofoam ball, cut it in half (thru the middle). Paint it brown. Take a smaller Styrofoam ball, also paint it brown. Two google eyes, a red balloon and a piece of orange craft foam cut out in the shape of a beak make the face (either use hot glue or craft glue). Take the sharp tip of a pencil and pierce holes along the back deep enough to fit the crayons in. Voila! Cute and easy!

Pattern and idea from: 100 Days of Holidays Newsletter (it's free)!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plans For an Inspired Weekend

I have just returned from the craft store with two bags full of supplies and a head full of ideas and inspirations. Not to mention the pile of WIP's sitting on my kitchen table.

Here's a little taste of what's to come:

To be covered by fun paper
for the little guy's room.

A new book full of
holiday themed goodies.

A pair of socks in progress

us a washing machine full of new fabric destined to be adorable pillowcases!

I'm currently working on a couple of birthday presents (I'll share those next week), and homework for an Afghan KAL that I'm moderating starting in January (we are working on a blog to share all that on, so pay attention and I'll let you know about that in a couple of weeks)! I am also planning on dyeing some yarn for Christmas gifts this weekend, if I get the time...

It looks as if my plate is a bit overflowing, but isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about? Stuffing yourself with all the things you love most? Thankfully for me, most of these crafty WIP's will end up being gifts so I do have a little bit of time to spread them out.

Ahhh... it looks to be a great weekend.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Handsome Hat

Here is another finished object. I did it earlier this fall, but was waiting for the designer to release the pattern before sharing it with you. It is called "Burning Love Hat'' and can be found here.

It is really a great cabling pattern. And she even gives hints about how to cable with-out a cable needle. Which, by the way, I totally get the hype now- it is a very handy technique especially when working small cables (one or two stitches).

There are four sizes ranging from toddler to adult and it is super fast (a couple of afternoons), pretty darn easy (despite all the cables) and heirloom quality once finished (if I may say so myself). All you need is a size US8 16 inch circular needle and a skein of worsted weight yarn (I prefer wool). Like cake.

The only thing I can add is to check it along side your favorite beanie to make sure the length is alright before you start decreasing. I wish mine was just one repeat longer...

Kiddo modeling his brand new ''hockey game hat''.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Pictures

Red leaf, wet ground

Bird fattening up for winter

October's Glory

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Our book club book for September was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book is a series of fictional letters written by members of a Literary Society, ie a book club, during the German Occupation of the Guernsey Islands (located between the shores of England and France).

I would definitely recommend this book. It gives some historical insight to the experiences of people during WWII, in a situation that most didn't know existed. I, for one had no idea that any part of England was occupied during WWII, did you? The format is truly unique, as it is entirely letters written by different people. If you're interested, found a great review here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Photo of the Day

A busy bee preparing for winter

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Ode to Fall

A fall inspired work in progress...

Fall is in full tilt in the Pacific Northwest with it's brisk breezes and fiery colors. This really is my favorite time of year. All my senses are heightened and I feel like I can accomplish and enjoy more. Summer is always so fast with places to go and people to see; winter makes you want to hide in your cozy hole; and spring is so unpredictable. But fall... is fresh and colorful. My husband and I spent two years living in New Mexico, where the seasons were Hot and Windy, I didn't know I could miss seasons so much, especially fall. My only complaint is the days are now getting shorter, and all those six and eight legged creatures are trying to find a cozy place to wait out the winter. Ick.

I read a great article/blog post this morning. You can find it here. It is all about finding creative ways to use your brain, change your routine, and be creative. What a lot of great ideas. There isn't anything tough or weird in it, but I think it's a great start to making your life a little more satisfying. There are two of the things in that article that I am thinking about implementing into my daily happenings... but that is for another day.

On a personal note, I have some creativity simmering away right now. A sewing project that will hopefully be done by Halloween, a couple of gifts in the works, a whole slew of cards to make, and a delicious dinner on the way. I also have a few finished objects that I can't wait to share.

With that, I am off to the farmer's market. It's the last one of the season...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Warm Woolies

Just in time for winter...

Noro Kureyon and Fisherman's Wool

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Raise your hands if you've ever had Shepherd's Pie before. No? Well, you should.

Shepherd's Pie is a meat (usually beef) and veg casserole topped with mashed potatoes and warmed through in the oven. With as simple a formula as that is, you can imagine the infinite possibilities. It is a great meal for leftovers since you can use ANY type of meat that is hanging out in your fridge or freezer. I've used brisket, roasted chicken, even taco meat. Add frozen veggies (or leftover cooked veggies) and top with some mashed potatoes. If everything is warm it takes just a few minutes in the oven to brown the potatoes and warm it through. Or you can leave it in the fridge for a couple of days and have a mid-week dinner done in a flash (just pop in in the oven to heat up- everything is cooked already)!

So where is this going? Smoked Turkey Shepherd's Pie, recipe #2 in Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook. This used bacon and ground turkey as the meat; sauteed carrots, onions, celery, and bell pepper for the veg; and (of course) mashed potatoes with peas for the topping. The ''smoked" part came from smoked paprika and the smokey bacon. I added a little bit of poultry seasoning and topped the whole thing off with a bit of smoked Gouda cheese to boost the flavor even more.

The inner workings...

I then divided the ingredients into three smaller casseroles for three separate dinners (each of the three could feed 3-4 people). If I wanted to, I could have covered the casseroles well and put them in the freezer for much later, but I gave away two of them to family and saved the third for us. (By the way this recipe is written to feed four, but as you can see it really is more like eight or more, especially if you add a salad and rolls along side... Rachel has big appetite).

Really what could be better?

Happy eating!

A Vegetable Intervention

Last week my son was hanging out with his Grandparents while my husband and I were at a couple's book club meeting. My Mom made him a dinner of creamed peas and mashed potatoes and oven baked chicken. Sounds good right? Well, while they were eating, my Mom suggests to her darling Grandson that he eat some of his mashed potatoes and he looks at her with the most serious expression a two year old can give and says: "I don't eat vegetables."

Now, I fully realize that toddler refusal of vegetable consumption is nothing new. However his grandparents were rather shocked at the verbal conviction that this particular toddler used in his refusal. I was embarrassed, my husband thought it was hilarious (he's not much help in this particular venue of child rearing). I admit we were pretty complacent when it came to meal time. We'd offer a variety of foods (fruit, protein, whole grains, dairy, veggies, etc) and let him chose what he'd like to eat. Real meals before snacks, milk or water to drink. We though that was good enough. Apparently not. It was time for an intervention.

I plan on taking a tricky approach, hiding the goods in his favorite meals, and then gradually showing him that what he really likes is also good for him. Today I took the first step. We had vegetable soup, pureed smooth in a blender. I added some cooked macaroni noodles to entice him. And guess what? He ate it. In fact he ate around the noodles (leaving most of them behind) and polished off the broth of the soup.

Mom: one, Veggie Phobic Tot: zero.

Although in reality he wins too :)

I know this will be a long, drawn out, frustrating, and likely tearful process, but in the end I think it will be worth it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crock Pot Dinner

Monday night is family dinner night and I decided that I was going to make it "Crock Pot Night"

We had Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, which happens to be my favorite Italian meal. This variation was pretty good. It made a huge amount of food that served 5 adults with about three more servings as left-overs. Sorry there's no ''real life'' picture. We'll just say that it didn't look like the picture above, despite how tasty it was.

I happen to be a huge fan of the crock pot. Some may think that it is a bit old fashioned or confusing but they just don't understand. If you still aren't sold on the joys of slow-cooking, here are some reasons why I love it!

1- It takes about 15 minutes of prep work. Wash, chop, stir, open a can or two and that's it!

2- It can cook all day- which in turn means that all the flavors get a chance to really mingle with one another, making dinner taste like you slaved away all day. Example? Cook a pot roast while you're spending the day out picking apples this fall and come home to a hot, delicious meal!

3- It can cook in less than a day. Most slow cooker recipes give you the option of a faster cook time (ie 3-4 hours rather than the 6-7 hours for a slow cook), so even if you don't get a chance to get started until the afternoon you still have the option of having a meal ready when dinner time rolls around.

4- Clean up is a breeze! You can literally have your entire meal from a single pot, and since you did your prep hours before, chances are that stuff's already been cleaned up and put away!

5- Makes for great left overs. You can cook large portions of food that can be frozen or packed away for lunch during the week.

6- There is a plethora of information, recipes, and cookbooks available out there, so you never have to work very hard to get some good ideas or recipes.

7- You can do dessert too! No kidding! But I will save that for another day...

happy eating!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tex-Mex Salad

Tex-Mex Salad
6 servings

1 Bag pre-washed Spinach
1/2 can (15 0z) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 chopped bell pepper (preferable red, orange, or yellow as they are sweeter)
1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado cubed
Crushed tortilla chips (for garnish)

Arrange salad in that order (I told you it was easy). Can be dressed with salsa or ranch (I love jalapeno ranch!) dressing. To make this a meal, double ingredients and add either taco or fajita seasoned beef or chicken.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Let's take a trip...

Last night's dinner was a little trip down to the Texas-Mexican border. I'm not really sure how authentic this menu is to this region, but it was still tasty. We had Tex-Mex Mac-n-Cheddar with beef and peppers, recipe number 6 out of Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook and a Tex-Mex Salad I made up on my own. Sorry there won't be any pictures because the mac and cheese wasn't as pretty as it was tasty. If you've ever seen Hamburger Helper, that's pretty much what it looked like. Although, I would have to say that it was infinitely more healthy and tasty than its boxed counterpart (there are some in my family who like HH, I am not one of them).

I am really diggin' the mac and cheese recipes out of this book- there are four with the same prep and basic ingredients. First off, they are rather simple: boil some pasta, make a cheese sauce, add either a meat or a veggie and combine. No real difficulties here. But the different varieties make each one unique from the last. Three of the four I have made (although in this venture I've only technically done two) and I think that my favorite is still the Mac-n- Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower. Last night's dish would come in at a close second. Granted, last night I rushed the cheese sauce and ended up with a rather soupy mac rather than the gooey cheese that I could have gotten by taking my time, it was still well received leaving limited leftovers in the fridge.

If you tune in tomorrow, I will give you the recipe for my Tex-Mex salad... can't wait to make that beauty again!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird

I am dedicating today's post to one of the greatest books in American Literature.

I am a member of two book clubs, one I am an active member (I read all the books in the time allotted) and the other I am a optional member. How does the optional status work? Well, it really is a knitting group that the members choose to read the same book every month and then we have something to discuss at our monthly knitting night. Both groups chose very different subjects. The knitting group, ironically, chooses craft themed books and the other group is more random (with each member getting to take their turn to pick). Funnily enough, both groups chose the same book for the month of August: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This summer marked the 50th anniversary of this story's existence.

It is written in the perspective of a six year old girl from the tired old (fictional) town of Maycomb, Alabama. The story takes place during the height of America's Great Depression, World War II, and racial segregation. There are really two stories in the book, which start separately but by the end are intertwined in such a way one couldn't speak of one without the other. A strange recluse, a trial where one man's word challenges another, and the coming of age of two southern children create a sobering glimpse into our nation's history.

If you've never read this book, or it has been a long time, you really should read it again. I had forgotten the details of the book, and how much I really liked it. I had read it before, in high school, when it was required of me but as a teenager I had the tendency to read it, write the report, and then promptly forget about it. I think that as an adult I could really appreciate the story on a more mature level.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So I have a confession to make. I made this realization this morning while thinking about this blog and, and trust me it was a no brainer.

I got bored. I got bored making Rachel Ray's recipes all the time. Sure they were tasty, but for the most part they were all very similar. Same type of ingredients, same type of prep, and in a lot of cases, same flavors. Add to that the fact that the recipes always made huge amounts of food. Much more than a family of two and a half would eat. And we've been trying to go on a ''food spending diet'' as well as trying to eat healthier. It's just not working out. Sorry Rachel, I'd like to see other chefs but I still wanna be friends.

So I have come up with a couple of solutions. I'd still like to pursue cooking through 365: No Repeats, but I'd also like to try some different things. I have a couple of cookbooks designed for one or two serving meals, as well as one with over 100 different things to do with chicken (which is perfect for our family, we LOVE chicken). So I'm thinking three or four nights will be dedicated to these ventures (one per the three nights). I'm pretty sure I could swing that, and still remain sane.

I hope you'll forgive me, but a girl's gotta have some variety in her life!

Wine's always good after a tough break up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Salad, Two Ways

This week I had the opportunity to make two salads that contained almost the same ingredients. All I did was get all the ingredients, and then made two half recipes and voila! One Salad, Two Ways!

The first was Salad Capricciosa (Recipe number 185 in Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook). It's kinda like an Italian version of a chef salad. There's romaine lettuce, artichokes, tomatoes, onion, basil, parsley, prosciutto (which I sub-ed in bite size pepperoni pieces), peas, and mozzarella cheese. Mix this with a lemon pesto vinaigrette and you've got yourself a steller (and easy) salad. This went to a potluck dinner, and there were NO left-overs. It was fresh and light, especially with the lemon in the dressing.

The second recipe, Caprese Hot-or-Cold Pasta Toss (recipe number 79), was a slightly different take on the Salad Capricciosa. Instead of the lettuce, you add cooked penne rigate (any short cut pasta would work), everything else was the same! You do a slightly different prep too. All the salad ingredients (artichokes, tomatoes, onions, etc) get sauteed in some garlic and olive oil, tossed together and you're good to go. This one was great because you could serve it hot out of the pan or chilled. Perfect for leftovers! I love meals that are tasty hot and cold!

Chalk one up for versatility!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Study in Green

As I've said before, this has been one crazy summer. But I am resolved to get back into the swing of things. My new goal is to try and get two recipes done a week. I will (with best intentions) stick to this new plan, and I'll be sure to let you know about it :)

I've got two recipes to tell you about. The first meal could be described in two words: green and spicy. I prepared Mexican Tomatillo Stoup with Chorizo (recipe number 311 from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats). The green came from the tomatillos (which there was 2 28oz cans of). The spice (which was a little crazy, even for someone who likes spice) came from chorizo, jalapenos, and cilantro. There are some in my family who request no chorizo, so instead I substituted spicy Italian sausage. Next time I think I'll just go with a plain sausage or ground beef so the spicy factor isn't so outta control (there is enough in this stoup to make it interesting with out letting it getting so crazy). Other than that the soup had some great things going for it. It had an interesting depth of flavor and it was relatively low in fat from what I could tell (potatoes, chicken stock, sausage, and some veggies).

The next recipe was Turkey Noodle Casserole (recipe number 9). I have to say that I am still on the fence with this one, but the guys in my family loved it. I would have personally liked the cheese to be a little more saucy and creamy rather than just melted cheese. This recipe was simple and took little time to complete- less than 30 minutes. With a few changes it will be a good one to repeat, perhaps in the fall when it isn't 100 degrees outside...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I know, I know, it's been a while. But please believe me when I say that I've thought of you often. And to boot, I've been really busy. So, as you know, my son turned two last week. To be expected the week was filled with celebration, eating, and family. Phew, what a week.
So I've made another decision about my cooking though Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats. It is now too hot to be eating soups and casseroles (although there probably will be some randomly thrown in there) but perfect weather for the more grill-friendly recipes. So, over the next couple of days I will go through and sort through the recipes, and find the weather friendly ones.

In the mean time, I will give you this... Lemon and Artichoke Risotto with Shrimp (314). I can honestly say that I have never eaten, made, or wanted risotto before. I've always heard that it is a complicated, time consuming process. But really, it wasn't all that bad. It did take some constant stirring, but the ''labor'' was worth it. The risotto was really well balanced, between the tangy lemon, creamy rice, and sweet peas. I'm looking forward to trying another risotto.
Happy eating.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Birthday

My son turns two today. It is hard to believe that this could be happening, the time has gone so quickly! Someone once told me, "the days are long, but the years are short." I believe every word in that statement.
We celebrated his birthday this weekend, with friends and family surrounding us. And we had a blast!
So what does a two year old want for his birthday?
The coolest gift, ever...
And some reading time to cool down...
He couldn't be happier. Thanks to all who helped us celebrate! And happy birthday little one- I love you!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I love soup

It's true. I love soup. I could eat it on a daily basis. It's nutritious, and delicious, easy to make and makes your house smell homey and inviting. Usually during the winter, I make at least one pot of soup a week. So imagine my delight, when I drew not one, but two soups in this most recent batch of recipes! Soups are easy. Usually the only effort put into making soup is throwing your ingredients into a pot and let it simmer away. The clean-up is minimal, and you can fake out your diners to think you've slaved away all day.

Last night I made recipe number 99 from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook, Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Stoup. Everything I said previously held true. It was quick, easy, smelled delicious, and filled us up to the brim! I served it along side a mexi salad (greens with corn, cheese, avocado, tomato and salsa to dress it) and some jalapeno poppers (the kind you find in the freezer section of the grocery store). Aah, my bowl runnith over.

A word of warning to those who don't like it hot (spicy that is), this is a bit of a fiery soup. This calls for a chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce. This is a smoked jalapeno which just gets more and more hot through the process. You could do a couple of things to tame the fire. Instead of adding the pepper you could add some smokey chili powder or chipotle flavored hot sauce (Tabasco makes a version of this). This is infinitely easier to add to suit your spice level (add until its hot enough). You could also add fresh (or canned) jalapenos, which are less spicy than the chipotle version. I loved it the way it was, but there are lesser spice-tolerant people in my family and the next time I make this I will tone down the spice to suit their tender tongues.

How do you feel about soup? Are you an 'eat it every day' or only an 'only when its cold' kinda person. Will you eat it for a meal or only as an appetizer? Curious minds want to know...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Two for One

So as far as this past week was concerned, cooking was successful, blogging was not. I realized that I have three dinners to tell you about, that I haven't even talked about. Tonight I will give you a taste of two of the meals, and will save the third for another night.

Meal number one, or rather 232: Chicken Sausage with Fennel and Onions, was moderately successful. Try as I may, I could not find fennel. I searched three different grocery stores and to no avail. I didn't think it would be so hard to find, I am wondering if it's not in season- any clue? So anyway, I made the sausage and onions as per the recipe and then added some bacon-y brussel sprouts and crusty bread to round out the meal. I suppose that it only sort of counts since one of the three ingredients in the recipe was missing, but I don't think I will repeat this one since it was just a quickie that we make on a variation on a very frequent basis (like for dinner tonight we had sausage with mac and cheese).
Earlier in the week I made meal number 104: Garlic and Herb Chicken and Romesco Sauce for my hubs and bro. It. Was. Awesome! There is this fantasticly spicy sauce made with roasted red peppers, tomato, and garlic. It was really tasty and even had a bit of a kick to it, which was even appreciated by our two year old. It was really fast to make, just throw everything in a food processor and let it go then serve it over the cooked chicken (which did take a bit of time). I was supposed to serve it over spicy arugula greens, but decided to instead serve it over some spaghetti. It will definitely be on the list of repeats, excellent!

Well there you have it. One more post and I will be all caught up, but that will have to wait for another day. See you next time, happy eating!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hello and welcome back after a most enjoyable holiday weekend. I hope that you had a wonderful time doing whatever it is you did. Every Memorial Weekend, for the last thirteen years, my family and four other families make our way down the Oregon Coast for three relaxing days filled with absolutely nothing! Except for sand castle building, ocean exploring, aquarium visiting, shopping, and of course eating! What a great way to recharge the batteries!

We're home again, and that means that I am back to cooking my way through Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook. The recipe that I'm going to tell you about today was number 294, (Chicken #14753) Deviled Divan. We had this before we left on vacation, and was a great quick and inexpensive meal (I had everything needed for this in the pantry and freezer!). You bake up the chicken (with lemon and thyme), add some mustard sauce and cooked broccoli, top it with cheese and pop it under the broiler to melt together. The 'deviled' part is some hot sauce added to the mustard sauce to give it a kick (next time I'll add a bit more, because it was completely lost in the final product). It was fast, easy and delicious- what more could you ask for the night before leaving on vacation?

Sorry the picture isn't the greatest, we were so excited to be eating, that I forgot to take the picture before diving in!

I should get at least three more cooking nights in this week, so come back and see what's in store! Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"If you like pina coladas..."

Then you'll love Pina Colada Shrimp!

Last night was family dinner night, and we had number 96 in Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook: Pina Colada Shrimp! I don't normally do shrimp, mostly because I don't have any real experience dealing with it, and most anytime I have it in a restaurant it is so overcooked it tastes and feels like eating a pencil eraser. I am happy to report though, that this shrimp meal was a success.

This shrimp dish was a blend of sweet and spicy. It was cooked with a combination of pineapple, coconut milk (I was able to find and use the real thing as opposed to the drink mixer the recipe called for), red pepper flakes and cilantro. I also opted for cleaned and precooked frozen shrimp. This way I saved myself some time by not having to clean, devein, and cook the shrimp. I could just warm them up and mix them into the sauce.

This was recipe that I probably would never have been brave enough to make without the inspiration of cooking though this book, and everyone agreed that its a keeper. I hope that the really scary recipes turn out to be as fun and successful as this one (or at least not terrible)! There will be two more meals this week (Tuesday and Wednesday nights), and then I will be off on vacation for the Memorial Weekend from Friday until Monday! Maybe there is a real Pina Colada in my future...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Buffalo Hot ... Burgers

Hello to all. I hope you had a nice weekend. We had (mostly) good weather, so there was a lot of yard work and gardening done at our house. We did however, take a break Sunday afternoon to have some good company and good food! Of course good weather at our house means grilling, and in addition to plain burgers and 'dogs, I made some Buffalo Turkey Burgers with Blue Cheese Dressing (number 260 in Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats Cookbook).

I'm not typically a huge fan of buffalo hot wings, but I have to tell you, the burger version is outstanding! The patties were flavorful and juicy and the sauces (buffalo wing sauce and blue cheese dressing) were the right balance of spicy and tangy. This recipe was easy to prepare and quick to disappear. I'll defiantly use this one again! More to come tomorrow!

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


So, really. I haven't been cooking. This week has been nuts. Most of the nights this week I have had other plans around the dining hour, so my boys have been left to fend for themselves. Thank goodness for leftovers!

I have, however, been knitting (I'm always knitting) so how about a little show and tell? Right now my obsession has been socks. I love how you can take a wad of string (usually what it looks like after my cats or son has gotten a hold of it) and a couple of sticks and make something functional and fun. The possibilities are endless! And you know it will be something you can use when you're finished.

I completed a pair this weekend (it only took a handful of days from start to finish), and can't wait to make the next pair! You can find the pattern here:
The yarn is Felici by Knit Picks in the color Coney Island (which has since been discontinued) and I only had to use one skein for the pair. Sweet!

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boring Chicken

No sooner had I mentioned the thought of summer weather, did I wake up to this. Rain. Rain. Rain. That's ok though, because it's still pretty warm, and at least it's cooling off the house from the 80 degrees it was yesterday. I planted some more seeds yesterday in the garden, and hadn't gotten around to watering them, so the benefits of the rain are twin fold.

Sunday evening my father-in-law came for a visit and dinner, so it was a perfect opportunity to make dinner! We had a fun visit, he brought my son a t-ball tee and a bucket full of wiffle balls (which has since become the new obsession). And dinner? Well... dinner was pretty lame. I made Big, Thick, Hearty Thighs... (#50 from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook). It was basically stewed chicken with some potatoes and peas. Stewed chicken is fine if you have it in a soup or if you are adding it to a casserole. But stewed chicken on it's own is pretty boring. And this was no exception. I was complaining to my mom about this and she so wisely told me that they couldn't all be good, we were bound to find some stinkers. I guess she's right.

In fact I think the leftovers will end up in a soup, either lentil or chicken noodle... what do you think?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"There's no I in team, but there is one in meat pie..."

Happy Saturday to you! Hope you week went well, and your weekend is even better. We are finally enjoying some warm weather. Spring can be fickle here in Washington, warm and sunny one minute and cold and wet the next! I think though, we are done with the cold and ramping up toward the heat of summer!

I have two meals to tell you about, so lets get going! We had brisket for dinner on Monday that left us with a TON of leftovers. We needed a plan, although it could have been eaten as is... it was delicious. What to do...? I had planned on preparing Aussie Meat Pies (#201 from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats), and instead of going with the ground beef that the recipe called for I went with the leftover brisket. Can I say... FANTASTIC! What a great idea. It's always a great plan to reuse your leftovers and make them into another meal!
I fiddled with the recipe a little bit by making them into actual pies rather than the sandwich-like things that were called for. The recipe called for baking the crusts out and then topping them with the meat filling. Instead, I layered the crusts with the meat filling in the middle and pinched them shut around the edges. This really didn't take a whole lot more time, and the result was certainly a hit. We ended up with NO leftovers. A first for Rachel's generous meals.

Meal number two was certainly fancy, although not as tasty as the first. Don't get me wrong, it was "delish''... just not as "delish". We had Chicken No. 14,754- Chicken Bustard, a.k.a. Chicken in a Basil- Mustard Sauce (#295). I was a little wary because I'm not big on dijon mustard and things prepared in a lot of it, but it worked. I think the biggest reason this recipe turned out ok was because a couple of spoonfuls of pre-made basil pesto was added to the sauce at the end (by the way, I don't think I have ever had pesto before, and after trying it I can't tell you why- it is really quite good. I even spread some on the bread that was served along side). I served the chicken atop some orzo pasta to soak up the excess sauce, which also made for a pretty presentation. Overall, we decided it would be good enough to repeat, and recommend to you :)
Hope your weekend is fantastic, we are off to a birthday party... Happy B-day Dad!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lunch for the Ladies

This is going to be one of those weeks. The kind that gets out from under you and try as you might you won't be able to catch up to it as it snowballs down the hill. So far I only have one meal to tell you about, but I do intend on cooking again tonight so there will be something to share tomorrow.
Monday afternoons I host a knitting group at my house. It's just a small group of ladies. We knit, we chat, and then we eat. Usually I make a big pot of soup (especially when the winter weather is raging outside), but this week I decided to do something different. Recipe #1 in Rachel Ray's 365:No Repeats is a meat, egg, and cheese Scramblewich. Since our group was smaller than usual, I thought that would make for a good opportunity to have something different. I had some cooked ham in the freezer, and the left-over smoked gouda (from last week's mac-n-cheese), and quickly whipped up the sandwiches.
Overall, I would have to say the best part of this recipe would be that it's easy, and you most likely have everything you'd need already in your fridge. Meat, cheese, eggs, and bread. Simple as that. And the cost? For four it was only $1.57 a person (plus, as always, there were some leftovers).
See you tomorrow, and happy eating!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all the Mommas out there!! We are who we are because of you!

This is what my mommy got for her special day... I mosaic-ed a terra cotta flower pot with some shards of stained glass. Cool, huh? Second... FOOD! I've cooked twice more since my last post. The first time was Thursday night, which was game night for my hubs and his friends. I prepared Chicken Schnitzel (#132 from Rachel Ray's 365:No Repeats). I think the boys liked it- there wasn't any leftovers. Here is another recipe that requires the chicken breasts to butterflied and then pounded out as thin as possible. I was feelin' lazy so instead of spending the time and muscle, I sliced the chicken as thin as I could. I ended up getting about three thin slices across each chicken breast. This was a super simple meal requiring practically no prep- one could easily get this on the table in no time! One interesting thing about this particular recipe was that there is nutmeg in the breading. I thought would be a little weird, but it added a new dimension to this would be (otherwise) boring dish.

The second dish I prepared was Mac-n-Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower (5). This was a home run! Although, in the future I am planning on cutting most of the meals in half. This spicy mac-n-cheese (cayenne and paprika) could certainly feed a crowd! In fact there's enough leftovers for dinner tomorrow.

These two meals were the cheapest yet. The Chicken Schnitzel weighed in at $11.07 total, making it a whopping $2.77 a plate for four people. The Mac-n Smoked Gouda w/ cauliflower was $15.08 total. This dish would probably yield ten servings easily, making it $1.51 a serving. Nice!

Now I know what you're thinking... there's supposed to be one more meal. I haven't done the Veal Scallopine w/ Dijon Sauce, Asparagus, and Avocados (#189). The reason is simple... I can't find the veal! So until I do find it, or come up with an appropriate substitution, this meal is going back into the pool. Fear not though, I will be back!
Happy eating!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two for Two

Dinner number two was last night: Turkey Stroganoff Noodle Toss (recipe 341 in Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats) and the Red Caraway Cabbage from recipe 132. I believe this meal was a success, although not nearly as high on the list as Monday's dinner (the family was still raving about that one!). Definitely would do this again, especially the cabbage. I don't know what it is about cooked cabbage, but I love it! It's sweet and tender, and with the addition of red wine vinegar and granny smith apples, tart and tangy as well! Dinner totaled at $11.10 (including the meat) which for five ended up at $2.22 a head! Sweet!

One thing I have to say about Rachel's dinners is you can certainly feed a crowd. This dinner was supposed to feed 4, and we could feed four at least twice! In fact, the leftover cabbage is going to a pot-luck dinner tonight!
Happy Eating!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

price shopper...

I am in awe of myself right now!

I just got back from the grocery store -I had to get the stuff for tonight and tomorrow's dinners. I made a list, grabbed my reusable shopping bags, and The Tot and off we went. Would you like to guess how much I spent? $15.65! For two meals! Granted I didn't have to buy any meat for the dishes since I had exactly what I needed in the freezer, but come on! I'm very impressed! I was so excited in fact that I had to call The Hubs as soon as I got home to share the news (A typical grocery stop for me is at least $30- if I'm lucky). I'm curious if this cooking thing is actually going to save me some mo-lah when all is said and done...

Anyway, I have to go uncover my child from his lunch which he decided would be more fun to paint on himself rather than eat. Who knew spaghetti could be so much fun (anyone who's had a two year old, that's who!)?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grand Slam

We definitely started off on the right foot! Last night was the first dish and it was excellent! Monday is Family Dinner Night- my parents, bro, and family friend all came over. I made Prosciutto, Garlic, and Herb Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Tarragon Pan Sauce. Yum! I have to admit I probably would have never chosen this had I been to my own devices, but man am I glad I did!

First, you pound out the chicken breasts until they are as thin as you can stand (I am not so patient so they were pretty thin not super thin). Then you spread prosciutto and garlic and herb cheese on top, roll 'em up and pan cook them. To top it all off you make a pan sauce with white wine and tarragon. Phew! We had asparagus and rice pilaf to go with. And of course some vino too! I think I'm going to have a full house every time I cook now!
I calculated the cost of the meal and it came out to $27.50 which ended up being $5.58 a plate- not bad for dinner for six people.
After our bellies were filled the boys were off to watch the basketball play-offs, and the girls went to work knitting cupcakes- Adorable and calorie-free!
Until next time... happy eating!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Day

Sunday is going to be my prep day. I'll begin this week by selecting 5 meals from Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats using a random number generator (this will be easy, since all recipes are numbered). Grocery shopping to follow (whenever I get the chance), and then start the cooking engines!

Hub's birthday is this week, so we've already got an "Eat Out Nite" planned this week. As well as some WHL hockey games to attend and a book club meeting. Thank goodness I chose a book in that speed is the Number 1 Priority!

So here are this week's winners!

46- Prosciutto, Garlic and Herb Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Tarragon Pan Sauce
341- Turkey Stroganoff Noodle Toss
132- Chicken Schnitzel with Red Caraway Cabbage
5- Mac-n Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower
189- Veal Scallopine with Dijon Sauce Asparagus and Avocados

After each meal, I'll let you know the verdict: keep, toss, bury six feet under, or place on a pedestal. Don't know what will be when, so check in now and again and see what's going on!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ready, Set, GO!

So here is! The first official post!

I suppose I should let you know what this is all going to be about. I've decided to do something a little bit different (only a little bit though, since I'm sure that this has been done before). I have decided to attempt cooking through the next year without repeating a meal. I plan on accomplishing this by cooking through Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook. I have no illusions about finishing this book in a year though. Cooking every night isn't always possible. We have a love affair with dining out, as well as nights that will be devoted to left-overs and dinners with family. But my goal is to complete recipes from the book MOST nights of the week, and see where it gets me after a year!

Not all of this will be about cooking though. A majority of my time is also devoted to gardening, knitting and other craft-a-licious things, so there will be some of that in here as well.

I'll keep this post short, since I haven't yet started the cooking. Hopefully I will get a dish in before the weekend, if not the cooking will officially begin in May!