27 December 2012

07 September 2012

Ten years...

Sunday, September 2nd marked 10 years since I saw my dad. It was such a bittersweet day for me, full of ups and downs. It's bizarre to think of how much he's missed. My 7 year old nephew and 2 year old niece... man, he'd of loved Dylan's sense of humor and Addie would be giving him a run for his money, and that's saying something. Cesar joked on Sunday that he would probably be teasing them with a rolled up newspaper like he did my cats.

When my sister and I talked about what to do on Sunday, we joked about doing Stan things, like buying the kids a kitten to torture my brother-in-law. In the end, we had lunch at one of his favorite spots, The Roadhouse and I celebrated him with his favorite side, the sweet potato.

I wonder if I'll make it through one of these September 2nds without tears. I wonder if I'll stop feeling hurt about those closest to me not checking in or sending a kind word on that day or even this time of year. I wonder what it's like to still have your dad...

05 September 2012

Pad Thai...

I've been on an Asian food kick lately. I've always been intimidated when I think about making any kind of Asian inspired food. But, I've found some very simple recipes that have inspired me to give it a try. I love Thai food and I'm always searching for good (to me) Pad Thai. Some of the local restaurants do okay, but some of them taste like ketchup. I have never been to Thailand, but I feel fairly confident when I say I am pretty sure that's not a real Pad Thai. I would be curious to know what constitutes a real Pad Thai.

After a Google search, I settled on this recipe (which I adapted), mostly because I was very curious about the tamarind paste (which I easily found at the local Asian market).  I don't have a wok so I used my cast iron skillet, knowing I could safely get it very hot and that worked well. I am now convinced this will be a regular dinner in the rotation. And did I mention how amazing it is as a leftover?

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 12 minutes, Total Time: 27 minutes Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups raw chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Marinade for Chicken: 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 13 oz. package of Thai rice noodles, linguine-width
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chili flakes, to taste
  • vegetable oil for stir-frying
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • wedges of lime
  • 3 spring (green) onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro
  • 1/3 cup crushed or roughly chopped peanuts (or other nuts, such as cashews)
PAD THAI SAUCE:
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. tamarind paste (Author recommends dissolving in 1/4 cup warm water - I didn't do this, I think the sauce would be too runny)
  • 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. or more dried crushed chili or cayenne, to taste
  • 6 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. Place chicken slices in a small bowl. Stir together the marinade and pour over chicken. Stir well and set aside. I let this marinate for about 5 hours, but even 30 minutes would be good.
  2. Bring a large pot of pot to a boil and remove from heat. Dunk in your rice noodles. Allow noodles to soak while you prepare the other ingredients. Note: you will be frying the noodles later, so you don't want to over-soften them now. Noodles are ready to be drained when they are soft enough to be eaten, but are still firm and a little "crunchy". This only took about 10 minutes, maybe less. Keep tasting them. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  3. Make the Pad Thai Sauce by combining the sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well to dissolve the tamarind paste and brown sugar. Set aside. 
  4. Warm up a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. oil plus garlic and chili flakes, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds).
  5. Add chicken together with the marinade. Stir-fry 30 seconds to 1 minute. When wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock, 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, to keep the chicken frying nicely. Continue stir-frying in this way until the chicken is cooked (5-8 minutes).
  6. Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Using two spatulas, wooden spoons, or other utensils, immediately stir-fry the noodles. Use a gentle "lift and turn" method (like tossing a salad) to prevent noodles from breaking. Stir-fry in this way 1-2 minutes. If you find your wok/frying pan too dry, push noodles aside and add a little more oil to the bottom (but no more broth, or the noodles will become soggy).
  7. Add the bean sprouts. Continue "tossing" 1 more minute, or until noodles are cooked. Noodles are done to perfection when they are no longer "hard" or crunchy, but chewy-sticky wonderful!
  8. Taste-test for seasoning, adding more fish sauce until desired flavor is reached. Toss well to incorporate.
  9. Lift noodles onto a serving plate. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion, and crushed/chopped nuts. Add fresh lime wedges.

19 February 2012

Twelve Years....

Since the day we walked down the aisle. On one hand, I can't believe how fast time has gone. On the other, it's hard to imagine how much we've had to endure in twelve short years. My husband has been my rock through it all and I'm so very lucky.

To celebrate, I surprised him with a night at the O'dysius in Lincoln City. It's a great hotel with wonderful views and it was nice to just get away. Instead of doing a big fancy dinner out, we had a nice lunch out and had a pizza delivered to our room and we watched some movies while listening to the pounding surf. So very relaxing and perfect for us.

Tonight, the day of our actual anniversary, we headed home and spent the afternoon running errands. We ended the day with the most amazing meal I have had in a long time, cooked by the two of us.

The Crispy Potato Roast was delicious and instead of thyme, I used rosemary. This went with the ciabatta bread I got from Costco that I baked topped with a rosemary and roasted garlic compound butter. I roasted two heads of garlic (tops cut off, drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in parchment paper) in the oven while cooking the potatoes, mixed it with finely chopped rosemary into room temperature butter.


But. The highlight of the meal was the culotte steaks Cesar grilled on the bbq to a perfect medium rare. Top this delicious cut of steak with perfectly sauteed criminis, portabello, shitake and oyster mushrooms with finely minced garlic in butter, olive oil and white wine and Oh. My. Word. Truly amazing.

This was better than any fancy restaurant could have been. A lovingly prepared meal with Cesar, enjoyed with a toast to twelve years.

Here's to the next twelve!

18 January 2012

A text in the life...

This might explain things.

C: you know that's not right.

Me: What's not right?

C: what ever it was you were just thinking. don't try to be slick. i got your number lady.

Me: Um, I was telling Don about how the shopping list said one carrot and you bought a bag of carrots. You're right, it's not right.

C: they did not sell individual carrots. asshat.

Me: Nowhere, not in the entire store?

C: that's right. i thought it was strange too. but things change. you used to be able to buy grapes by the bunch, cherries, sprouts, etc. now they all come in packages.

Me: Back in the day?

C: yes ok gotta go. you're still not right, btw.

Me: Hmmm. I'm going to tweet this interaction.

C: theres no comedic or educational value to this. but help yourself.

Me: It keeps you honest. Or on your toes. Or something.

C: weirdo.

Me: I married you, didn't I?

Many of our conversations end this exact same way as the last two lines of this exchange. 

Also, my husband does not use capitalization in his texts. He would say it's because he doesn't have some fancy smart phone. I would say he's being text lazy. Tezy. That sounds dirty. He does use punctuation though, so there's that.

Also, also, please note that he called me names. Twice. 

19 December 2011

Peppermint Bark...

Brace yourself. I'm about to publish the most complicated holiday recipe I have. The number of ingredients is astounding. But, I think you can do it. I have faith in you. I included pictures though, just in case.


  • 3 bags dark chocolate chips (I guess you could use milk chocolate, if you like that inferior "chocolate")
  • 2 bags white chocolate chips 
  • Peppermint extract
  • Candy canes
Melt dark chocolate chips in the microwave. I set the microwave for 1 minute and than 30 second increments until it's all melted, stirring between each round. Add a couple drops of peppermint extract (a little goes a very, very long way!).


Spread the melted dark chocolate on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Put the cookie sheet in the fridge.












Now, it's time to take out your frustrations on innocent candy canes. I find a ziplock bag and a meat tenderizer really do a great job. You basically want candy cane pieces and dust.



By now, your dark chocolate should be hardened. It's time to melt the white chocolate in the same way you melted the dark.


Add some of your candy cane pieces & dust to the white chocolate and stir to combine.




Spread the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate in an even layer. Add additional candy cane pieces and dust to the top, using the back of the wooden spoon to press it lightly into the white chocolate. Back into the fridge until white chocolate is hardened.



Break the peppermint bark into pieces and enjoy all of the swooning and compliments you received. Make sure you mention how very challenging the recipe is.


Happy holidays to you and yours!

19 September 2011

A plethora of recipes...

Yesterday I baked. And I cooked. And I prepped.

I baked:


Healthified Ginger-Pear Muffins, but used apples instead of pears.
Healthified Fresh Apple Cake
Healthified Raspberry Bars, but used Strawberry preserves instead of Raspberry


I completely prepped (so all we had to do was turn the crockpot on)

Steak Fajitas with Tomato Corn Relish, and added jalapenos to the relish

and I cooked

Healthified Mediterranean Chicken Panini for last night's dinner/lunch leftovers.

The fajitas were delicious, although they weren't really fajitas. The bars were delicious, would definitely make again. The muffins were good and the panini was ok, but those thin, sandwich rounds could not hold up. We haven't tasted the cake yet.

My feet really hurt last night.