Monday, June 20, 2011

Forty before 40

I've worked diligently crazily feverishly ... Okay, I've just worked on this. It's been a task at times and other times the ideas came faster than I could write. Some of the ideas made the list, some of them didn't. There were a lot of things I wanted to put on it, but I had to remember that what did make it to the list had to actually be attainable. For instance, while I would love a trip to Africa, it isn't reasonable right now. Also, while I would love to be married someday, this isn't that day. And, I would really like to go on a cruise, that will also, mostly likely, not happen. This is all okay with me. I'm only concerned about the things with which I have actual control and ability to make happen--and probably with a little help from the Great Man above, too.

So, with all the formalities out of the way, let's carry on with the actual list (anyone who loves me will hold be accountable, right? Right. Great!).

  1. Write the young man's journal. I've been working, not hard, for about a year and I'd really like to finish it.
  2. Spend a week with my mom.
  3. Spend some much needed girl time with Dana.
  4. Complete two Beth Moore studies.
  5. Commit to my blog. (I think I've been doing pretty all right lately!)(I will blog at least 5 times a month! - Thanks, darlin!)
  6. Learn to make soft pretzels!
  7. Take a cooking class.
  8. Teach a cooking class.
  9. Cater at least one event.
  10. Be financially wiser, with some help. =]
  11. Cook at least one meal a month for another family.
  12. Lose thirty twenty pounds.
  13. Commit to some sort of new exercise routine.(This isn't going so well! LOL)
  14. Go to the beach.
  15. Participate in at least ten training sessions, of some sort, for work.
  16. Master baking my own bread.
  17. Dance more--like really, really dance.
  18. Weekend trip with just me and the kidlet.
  19. This one is private. heh. (I stole this line from the woman who inspired this list-we all have something we want to keep private)
  20. Survive teaching the young man how to drive.
  21. Graduate the young man.
  22. Be a mentor to another young woman/single mom.
  23. Start a freakin' cool women's ministry at my freakin' cool fun church!
  24. Complete all forty things on my list.
  25. Make a kitchen wish list. Done 6/18...see it here
  26. Learn and master risotto.
  27. Learn one new elegant dish.
  28. Stick to a grocery budget.
  29. Acquire at least four things on my kitchen wish list. (Two down!)
  30. Subscribe to Food & Wine magazine.
  31. Start a garden.
  32. Perfect chocolate cake with icing, from scratch.
  33. Play more volleyball.
  34. Host a party.
  35. Love more.
  36. Become better with occasion and thank you cards.
  37. Quality time with Nicole at least once a month.
  38. Complete three wellness quarters at work.
  39. Go to Volt.
  40. Make tart cherry jam even if I have to take a day off work to do it.
By the way, it's important to note, this wasn't my creation. No, I'm not this wise! haha. A fellow blogger, and a woman I don't know, but love just the same, has this on her blog and, if I remember correctly, she got the idea from one of her friends. I recommend reading her blog--she's inspiring. I plan to do this every year for the rest of my life. =]

My kitchen wish list

Don't we all have a wish list. A list of things we want or need... or want and need. Or just want. These fall into a little want... a little need, but mostly, want. heh.
  • KitchenAid stand mixer
  • Cherry stoner
  • Microplane Zester
  • Trifle bowl
  • Tea box
  • Cake keeper and carrier (glass and plastic) (Walmart had a cute orange one for $2.50!)
  • 1 new chef's knife
  • At least 1 mesh strainer
  • Japanese mandolin
  • Thermometer
  • Citrus juicer
  • Baster
  • Knife sharpener (handheld)
  • Grill pan
  • Bench scrap
  • Top Chef knife set with carry case
  • Cupcake carrier
  • Organize it All soup can rack

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My alone time...

I've been enjoying some time alone this week. The boy is at the beach. The housemate is at the beach. I've had to work... while I think there is something very wrong with this situation, I am really glad they've been able to have such a good time. And, even though I've had to work and it has exhausted my brain, I've still enjoyed the nice quiet evenings. It's been nice and cool, the windows are open, I've had time to do laundry, polish my nails, and do nothing of great importance. I haven't been a taxi cab since Monday morning, nor have I been a cook.

I've been working diligently on my "40 before 40" list which consists of 40 things I want to accomplish before I'm 40. I hope to have it posted later this week. Tomorrow is my birthday and I'll have just one year to carry out "the list" -- I'm excited about it. Scared of it.

This week I feel like I've been mentally stretched and pulled and I'm reminded how much Jesus loves me because He knew that I would need a break from being all the things I have to be to the people in my life and He provided that for me. I love that guy! =]

I know I promised the Chicken Pot Pie recipe, it's coming. Promise. One day. =]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken three ways...

Yep - this was a chicken sorta weekend. I don't know why, it just was. I had two whole chickens and made a yummie broth and three filling dinners! Wanna know about it? Yeah? OK... here's my master plan....

  • Take two chickens, place in large soup pot, cover with water. WAIT!!! If you've never cooked a whole chicken, remove the giblets and stuff that are packed inside the bird! Thanks. =]
  • Add 1 whole onion (cut in half) with only the outer skin removed, some seasoned salt, whole peppercorns, a smidge of poultry seasoning, a bay leaf, a couple tablespoons ready minced garlic, and whatever other vegetables you have on hand. Oddly, I didn't have celery or carrots, but I would have added both. I think I added a couple other spices, but I don't remember what they were now... that was SO two days ago. =]
  • Bring that to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady low boil for about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Turn the burner off and let the meat cool directly in the broth. This will keep your meat moist and give your broth a little extra "steep" time with the chicken.
  • After about an hour or so... remove your meat from the pot (it should be falling off the bone so be careful when you pull it out) and place it on a cookie sheet to finish cooling.
  • Pour your broth, through a colander to catch any bone, skin, fat, bay leaves that try to creep into your broth, and into two medium sized bowls. Set those on the counter to cool.
  • After a sufficient cooling period, begin to pick your chicken... The fat should come off pretty easily. If you aren't familiar with picking meat off a chicken, it isn't so bad... just dig in. I put a plastic bag in the sink and toss bones, skin, and fat in there as I work. Then I can just tie it up and take it to the trash.
  • Pick through both chickens and put the meat into a large bowl. Mix it up so all the meat is being friendly and you don't have all white or all dark in a handful.

Now, you have enough chicken to make at least three meals (depending on how many you're cooking for) and two large bowls of broth. Once the broth cooled, I poured one bowl into a gallon sized freezer bag and popped it in the freezer for future use. The other one I used a little for the following meals and put the rest in the fridge and I plan to use it in the next day or so to make some corn chowder I've been waiting for fresh broth to make!

I made two of these with the chicken and broth. One was for an awesome family who lets their husband/daddy help me when I have flat tires and things like that. Isn't that nice?!

Then I made a chicken pot pie with the rest of the meat. I'll post that recipe, maybe later today. Or tomorrow. Who knows... I have no idea. =]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuna Pasta Salad

OK - I know this is simple. Really, it's a no brainer. But this food holds such dear memories for me that I just had to tell you how my friend would eat it and how I feel wrong eating it any other way.

When I was younger, before I had my kidlet... so that was like YEARS ago, I had this tiny, little friend named Roxanne. She was small. Like small small. She was 4'10 and hung right around 90 pounds. She was single mom to two boys and she was feisty as ever. She was mean. I was scared of her sometimes and that's really saying something.

Before I met her, I'd never had tuna pasta salad or if I had, it wasn't memorable. I don't remember how she made it, just how she ate it. So, this is how I make it:

1 box any kind of pasta (I actually used two half boxes. One was WW penne, the other was WW small shells. Don't tell anyone. =])
2 cans tuna (in water), drained
1 can peas or frozen peas, thawed
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
some celery, chopped
some onion, chopped
mayo to taste
salt, pepper, any other "spicey type thing" you want to add

Cook the pasta. Drain. Rinse well with cold water. Add the tuna to a large bowl and break it into smallish pieces, add the peas, celery, onion and mix. Then add the mayo, mix. Then the salt, pepper, and any other "spicey type thing" you added. Finally, mix in the eggs. I save them until last so they don't get all broken and mushy in the process of mixing. OK... now it has to get cold, so I refrigerate mine overnight, but a couple of hours would be good, too.

Here comes the memorable part... When Roxanne would make this, she'd sit with a bowl on her lap (all 90 lbs. of her) and a sleeve of saltine crackers. She would put a spoonful of pasta salad on top of the cracker and pop it into her mouth. It's absurd, right? Who eats crackers with a pasta salad?? Oh, but then I tried it. Yum. I think it's the combo of the crunchy and soft, the salty and the tuna... I don't know, but it's good. Darn good. Now, when I eat it (which is maybe every two years), I eat it with pretzel thins... sort of a preztel, sort of a cracker. It's almost as good as it is with a saltine. I've also put it into a bowl and added oyster crackers. I know, it is weird. You can judge me all you want. =]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pig Pickin Cake

This recipe came from Allrecipes, but I did make a couple alterations. And a few people asked for the recipe, so here it is!

1 package yellow cake mix
1 (11 oz) can Mandarin oranges, with juice
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil, it's all I had on hand)
16 oz whipped topping
1 (15 oz) can crushed pineapple (super, duper, well drained)
1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cake, oranges (with the juice!), eggs and oil. Pour into two greased and floured (or sprayed with Pam) 8 inch round pans. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely on wire racks. I let mine cool and then covered them overnight. Just before serving, mix together pudding mix and pineapple, then fold in the whipped topping. Top one layer with the "frosting", be generous, it's okay, there's plenty. Then, add the second layer and top that and "frost" all around the cake. This can be quite messy. I'll be honest, I plopped it on there as best I could and used my fingers to put it where I wanted it. It will not be smooth, it isn't supposed to be. You want it a little pokey piggy lookin'! =]

This IS a food blog, right?

It is. It is. But sometimes my heart is just begging to cry out for more. Right now, I'm sad. Sad for a young lady whom I love dearly. She will never understand the depths of my love for her or maybe she will, one day. You see, her mom and I are very close. We both moved to this area around the same time and became fast friends. She was my rock, shelter, storm chaser, shoulder to cry on, friend to love, and constant companion almost from the very beginning. I love her. Immensely. Of course, that means I love her children with the same vigor and passion that I love her. When they hurt, I hurt. While details are not relevant, at least not for this post, please lift up a prayer for my friends daughter... God knows of that for which you will be praying--He does know everything, right?

So, maybe while this IS a food blog, it can also lend a place for me to pour out my heart from time to time. A place where I can plead with you to pray for me or for those I love. Maybe even a place I can just share what's on my heart at that particular time. I'm not a great writer. I doubt you'll come away with anything great and awesomely spiritual... but you will occasionally find my heart. And the places it hurts or finds joy or just feels something worth sharing.

Burger, Noodley, Go!

Yes. That's the title and the instructions received from my dear friend, Jessica. She was coming over, after work last night, for dinner. She asked, "What's for dinner?" I said, "I don't know. I took some burger out. What do you want?" She said, "I don't know. Something burger and noodley." I said, "Cheesy?" She said, "A little cheesy." Here's what was created from that amazing instruction.
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz can fire roasted diced tomato, with garlic, undrained
  • small bag frozen corn
  • 1/2 box (or so) whole wheat penne pasta
  • some chili powder
  • some cumin
  • some oregano
  • some fresh ground sea salt
  • some ground red pepper
  • some fresh ground pepper
  • some water (about 3/4 empty tomato can)
  • some shredded cheese of choice (I used mild cheddar)
OK, so by now, you know how I "measure". I don't. Unless mandated, like for bread or something. When I say some, just go with your gut. Here's what I did:

Get a big skillet. Big. Really. Brown the ground beef with the onion. Drain. Add it back to the pan and add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, frozen corn, all the seasonings, water, and bring that up to a nice boil. I told you a big pan, right? Then add a few handfuls of pasta and bring it to a simmer or number 2 on your burner as I like to call it. Cover. Let that cook up, stir it up a couple time for about 25-30 minutes or until the pasta is done. Now is a good time to make sure your seasoning is just the way you like it, too. Add some more things, if you like. Then, sprinkle some cheese on top, turn off the burner and recover for about 5 minutes or until your cheese is all melty and stuff. There ya have it. Eat it. =]