Friday, September 15, 2017

Food for Thought

I'm pretty close to catching up on menu posts - I think this is the last back-logged one.  And even back-logged they are recipes I did recently.

Is it good, or sad, that no matter how long ago I cooked something, I can remember what we thought about it?  Sometimes I have to scan the recipe, but I still know.

It was hot.  Sandwiches sounded good.  Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches it is.  It's hit or miss for me when I make shredded beef anything in the slow cooker - usually it doesn't so much shred and is tough.  I now know it's more than likely because it hasn't cooked long enough to melt all the fat.  My other issue is sometimes the seasonings just evaporate in the long cook times.  I can say both of those issues were NOT present in this meal.  I went longer on the cook time and got a roast that shredded with barely a touch and seasonings that seemed over-the-top at the beginning, were just right when it was all said and done.  Add gooey cheese and, well, there you go.

This Sausage, Pepper and Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls recipe is showcased as a make-ahead grab-and-go.  I opted to serve it up in ramekins for dinner, but it would be great to have for those everyone is going somewhere nights.  It starts as a sheet-pan meal and it only gets better from there.  I have really grown into using sweet potatoes all year and they are great paired with your choice of sausage (the recipe calls for turkey, but I had smoked Kielbasa.)  Seasoning comes from oven roasting and the flavor of your sausage, and a bit of salt and pepper.  It's hearty as is, or with warmed bread.

Using a quesadilla recipe always feels like a "duh" moment, but like sandwich recipes, sometimes you need a reminder of what goes well together (or you have no brain left to think of combos) - which is why I cook other people's recipes and am not a cook who creates her own.  Such as it is with these Roasted Corn Quesadillas.  The snap of fresh corn (because it was in season) and the light heat from green chilies and all the melty cheese.  It was good and would make a great side to soup when the weather finally turns.

These Perfect Summer Basil Burgers are a just seasoned with salt and pepper,.  It's the sauce is the star.  It's bright and summery and fresh.  It's a great pairing with beef.  I thought about, and have seen, english muffins used instead of buns, but went with buns.  Maybe next time.

It was a chocolate cake, WITH cherries.  How could this Black Forest Texas Sheet Cake go wrong?  It didn't.  It was totally worth turning the oven on for.  Moist.  Cherry-filled.  Good stuff.

When all I have to cook in a hot kitchen is bacon, I can handle it.  These Bacon Lettuce Avocado Tomato Chicken Salad Wraps were good.  Well seasoned - I liked the Worcestershire sauce bite - and filled with enough to be hearty.

I think I mentioned before, I've been having more meatless meals without really having to think about it.  Which is good.  Hopefully I can continue that as we hit the cooler months, which seems to beg for meats.  This Mediterranean Farro Salad with Spiced Chickpeas was awesome.  It was fresh and well spiced with great crunch.  It was the first time I'd used Farro (she has instructions for cooking linked in the post), which is now our favorite grain.  I think it would be great as an oatmeal alternative and I need to see if people use it as such.  It's got a great chew and holds up well in salads and bowls.  Bowls and sheet-pan meals.  That pretty much describes our summer.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Creative Time Taken

Between my boys heading out fishing a couple weekends ago, and hubby being gone this weekend, I had time in a (mostly) empty house to do some soul-saving crafty things.

I had a few choices that I talked about here.  This weekend I opted to work on a couple things - now that my ducks, or rather additional supplies, were now in a row.

I picked up a home decor kit from  Paisley and Polka Dots.  I had been decorating the house for the change in seasons and decided to start with this wooden apple, to add to the decor.  All the paper and embellishments were included.  It was an easy project, that took very little time and was satisfying to complete.

The Apple is part of a larger box that includes 11 other seasonally-based pieces.  The apple, along with the other 11 designs, can go in the place of the "O" in the "Home" lettering below, but I opted to put it in with my mantle decor.

The letters for Home" were a bit more challenging, only because of their shapes.  Cutting out the papers and then sanding off the edges took a little longer, but nothing unmanageable.  My A-type personality is trying to be okay with my not aligning the paper on the "M" the same as the other letters (which happened because I wasn't thinking) - the "slats" run horizontal instead of vertical.

I chose to put the letters in a corner shelving unit in my kitchen.  I need to add more fall things to this corner, but I like the letters here.  I'm sure they will move around as various seasonal decor fills or opens up these shelves.  Sometimes they'll be accompanied by the other 11 designs in place of the "O" and sometimes it'll probably just be as it is now.  I really like the letters size and can see different spots in the house where they would work, too.

This weekend is all about birthdays - we have three in my little family that fall within a week - so creative time will be limited, if not nonexistent.

Happy Thursday,


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

We Are

Last week there wasn't a lot going on.  School, work, homework.  That's about it.  Hubby did head out to spend a Dude's Weekend with his brother, which made it even more quiet at home.  Opened up some time as well. 

  • Brothers together again.  Those innocent looks fool no one.
  • They attended a Cigar-fest. . .
  • . . .and appear to have enjoyed the "tasting."
  • Meanwhile, back at home.
  • Last weekend he was shown, by dad, how to make pancakes.  This weekend he assured me, as he stood on the side of my bed, that he knew how.  Darned if he wasn't right.  They were really good blueberry pancakes.  The mess he left behind, however . . .
  • Good to know she's a helpful dog
  • Beauty
Happy Wednesday,


Friday, September 8, 2017

Food for Thought

I'm closing in on all the recipes I cooked, but haven't yet shared.  It's been hit or miss, okay miss, when it comes to menu planning recently.  I'm pretty much winging it.  The only upside to that is I haven't served cereal for dinner yet.

I was craving something creamy, it must have been a cool-ish day so this Cajun Chicken Pasta sounded good.  I'm pretty sure (it's been a while) that I doubled this recipe for In-Law Dinner night.  I do know itt was good, and creamy.  It had just the right amount of spice and a touch of heat.  I liked the fresh tomatoes on an otherwise one-pan meal.

I needed a side and was tired of my usual salad.  I could handle roasting the sweet potatoes in hell's kitchen for this Sweet Potato Rainbow Salad.  I roasted the potatoes earlier and opted to serve this on the cool, rather than warm side.  I really liked the dressing, but for us, I'd thin it a bit more.  It's a great meat-free lunch the following day.  It would also be good in a wrap.

I've done several meat-free dishes over the summer, without really being intentional about it.  Nobody in the family has said anything when it's been a meatless meal, so there's that too!  These Heavenly Hummus Wraps are a Pioneer Woman recipe.  It was a simple enough assemble, even with cooking down the onions - which I could have used more of, because they were great.  I diced the artichokes smaller, than just the halves called for.  I also used plain tortillas because I always have them on hand.  You can make this even faster if you use store-bought hummus.  Hummus is so easy to make though, I just whipped it up.  I had a bit left over, but with hummus that's not a big deal.  Adjust the hummus seasonings to your taste - we like a bit more cumin, and it will likely need a salt adjustment.  Make it thinner by adding more water.  Simple.  Good.  This would make a great side to soup when it's cooler.

My son was wanting waffles on morning and looking for a mix.  I have this homemade pancake mix, and told him to make a couple adjustments to it for waffles, but told him I'd look for a waffle-specific mix.  I found this Homemade Belgium Waffle Mix.  It mixed up thinner than I'm used to, but they cooked up light with a thin crispy outside that held up well to syrup and fruit.  I found, when I was out of milk, that half-and-half produced a little denser waffle that I really liked.

I've only ever thought of gnocchi as cool evening comfort food.  Then I found this Summer Gnocchi with Corn and Smoked Sausage.  It was awesome.  Those chewy pillows of gnocchi, crisp browned sausage and the lighter "sauce."  I opted to leave out the jalapenos - they've been too hot this season.

I just wanted something quick and easy - heat in the kitchen be damned.  I had blackberries from our bushes coming out my ears when I picked this Blackberry Bacon Grilled Cheese for dinner one night.  I didn't realize it was just blackberry jam.  So, I skipped that blackberries, though in hindsight I could have just mashed some fresh ones and added them to the berry sauce I did use.    I did use jalapenos, and they were freakin' hot...way too hot (which is why they weren't in the gnocchi recipe.)  Next time I'll opt for a poblano.

This Tomato Basil Artichoke Chicken Bake was another Parent-Dinner Night meal.  It was easy enough make for a larger crowd.  I used chicken thighs instead of breasts.  I loved the fresh ingredients - tomatoes and basil from the garden were a bonus.  It had good flavor and, well, there's the cheese.  You can't go wrong with fresh mozzarella.

Happy Friday,


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We Are

We kick off September with heavily smoke laden skies, an anniversary and lots of studying.

  • Girlie spends a lot of time at coffee shops studying - or drinking coffee.  She says studying.
  • Hubby and I celebrated 28 years of marriage.  It actually fell on our wedding day. . .how often does that happen?  To celebrate he fixed tires, bought tires and cleaned wheels.  I headed out, alone, in search of fall decor.  We did spend a bit of time together at WalMart where we picked up some Mums for the front porch.  While there I saw a Pioneer Woman display and found this platter.  Last year, he tried,  to get a similar platter (it was sold out everywhere, and eventually disappeared.)  So when I found this one, I had to get it, naturally.  It's huge.  I love it.
  • Smoke from Western fires is causing some interesting light here.
  • Fall. . .it's coming!
  • The smoke from Western-States' fires (and two from Colorado) was so heavy, you couldn't see the foothills, let alone a quarter mile down the road.
  • Back-to-School Night Mystery.  Find your child's desk based on the clues they left behind.  Clue #1 was, "I like Mustangs."  Found him!
  • When the teacher at back-to-school night finishes with, "Hopefully your kids are studying their states and capitals for the test tomorrow."  And you come home to find back-to-school child thinks the test is next week.
  • #welcometocramming
  • We have three drivers, five different places everyone needs to be and two cars.  Enter the really inexpensive car we purchased this week.  The new car is not only really inexpensive, it's a manual - all the kids know is automatic.  Brave hubby took all three, at the same time, to teach them.
  • Let the chiropractic appointments commence.
  • It's not easy learning to drive a manual, but when you add a peanut gallery that includes all your siblings, it's brutal.
  • After just a couple days things are much smoother
  • Coffe Shop and Girlie.  A love affair.
  • Working on Labor Day only has one benefit (besides the money). . .getting your APUSH done because everyone else is outside.
  • My final peach recipe for this season.  A pie.
  • The wildfire smoke makes some great sunrises. . .if nothing else.
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Just Stick to Cross-Stitch

Last weekend, on Saturday, my boys headed for the mountains and some fishing and adventure (see this post for the adventure part.)  That left me, and Girlie, home alone.  

All.  Day.  

I had time to putz around and time to play.  And, I even had choices on what crafty notion to follow.  I have been cross stitching quilt squares before bed.  I have yet to decide what to do with said quilt squares since I'm not a quilter, nor am I much for sewing in general.

My first choice was doing a quick-gratification project by completing my 2016 December Daily album.  I had purchased, during a sale, a December Daily kit and 4x6 album from Ali Edwards.  They were clearancing out last year's selections.  Most of what I needed was right there - I may look for the odd, low profile embellishment, but all I needed to do was print my photos for this project.

My next choice was a home decor kit from Paisley and Polka Dots, that was a reward of sorts to myself. I have previously purchased a chipboard album kit from Paisley and Polka Dots that I used for a past December Daily.  Her kits are all-inclusive, except for adhesives.  

I also had the August layout from the Scrapbook and Cards Today 365 Class.  I haven't done a layout for the class since March - I'm okay with that, but it would be nice to do one.  Maybe another layout for the 8 y.o. whose pages completed just for him I could count on one hand.  Doing this would just require me grabbing a paper pack and photos, which I probably already had paired up.

So, after going over my options, I chose to undertake the home decor stuff.  It was something different, and I would be decorating for Fall soon.  This home decor kit, as I discovered, required a bit more outside the kit:  a couple different glues, ink, paint and some sort of sanding tool.  I had paint, but oddly not white.  I didn't have any of the glue.  I usually have a "crafting" emery board for sanding edges, but couldn't find it - add to the list of things to buy.  I had the ink.  Okay, so this would require a trip to WalMart to get the needed items and it was too hot at the time to get in the sweltering car and make the 10 minute drive.  Yes, I was beyond lazy.

Okay then.  On to my second choice.  2016 December Daily, which just needed photos.  So, I set up my printer, grabbed my photo paper and started selecting photos.  I knew what size the pocket pages were, a selection of 4x6 and 2x3's.  Unfortunately, all the 4x6 were horizontal.  Most of the photos I was using were vertical.  2x3's it is.  I'm cruising along, selecting, editing where necessary (I really do need to adjust my printer to my computer screen so that what I see is what prints) and printing.  I go flying along, until I hit Christmas Day and find that ALL my Christmas morning photos are missing.  I spend some time searching to see if my computer downloaded them on a "download date", instead of by "date taken." Nope.  They must still be on the stick in my big camera.  I use my point-and-shoot to download photos, but that's dead.  Looking at the above photo, I realize I could have just put the memory stick in the appropriate slot you can see on the printer, but then I'd still need to download the photos.  Off to charge the point-and-shoot's battery.

Screeching halt.  End day.  End scene.  Cross-stitch sounds pretty good.

Check back to see if I make any progress.