Friday, November 28, 2008

I cook and eat

First of all, here are two of my favorite pies that were at my house on Thanksgiving Day. Here's Benji-pie
And here's Ethan-pie.
Now, I have to show you a picture of an early Christmas present from Chad's mom. New pots and pans!!! Aren't they cool? They are Emeril Ware. They are stainless steel and heat up pretty quickly and hold the heat well. They're shiny and pretty too. Now, tell me, can you look at these glorious pots and pans and NOT get excited??
On Thanksgiving Day, I got into the "holiday spirit" as Chad called it, and I cooked up a storm. Boy, oh boy, did I have fun! I made three things I've never made before. I made homemade cranberry sauce:
Home made rolls! (I know; I can't believe I did it either. But don't worry; I've recovered, and I won't ever be making home made rolls from scratch again. Not worth it. Pillsbury is just as good).
And my first ever chocolate chip pecan pie. The reason it looks a little over-baked is because I over baked it a little.
And I also made my de-de-delicious pumpkin dumpcake. SOOO tasty; I can't even describe how happy your taste buds are when you eat this. It's beyond delectable.
And I also made sweet potato casserole, but forgot to get a picture of it.
Today is Friday. I got up at 5:20 am, got dressed, nursed Benji, and went shopping! I got such a thrill walking out to the car in the dark and silence! So much fun. I went to only one store looking for a brown sweater for myself, and I found 2! I bought them both because they were so cheap. It was really fun to do that. I haven't gone shopping on Black Friday in about 4 years. Then I got home and found that Ethan had been awake since 5:40 am!
Today is also cleaning day, and look what I did to my stove! Have you ever seen a more sparkly and clean stove? Only Edward's skin in the sun could be more sparkly than this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twilight movie

I went with a gaggle of girlfriends last night to see Twilight. I haven't done that kind of thing since college: getting to the theatre an hour before show time, waiting in line, desperate to get a good seat. I was just as enthralled as the teenage girls packed in the theatre: I too squealed when Edward first came on the screen. He is definitely the most mesmerizing and devastatingly handsome vampire I've ever seen. My heart beat fast when he and Bella spoke words of love to each other. I clenched my fists in excitement when he rescued Bella over and over again.
Why am I, a 28-year old woman with a love and family of my own, so mesmerized by a movie that was made to entertain girls ages 12-18? Is it bad that I am not mature enough to calmly sit and not be absorbed by teenage romance? That, I too, will be completely swept away in a glorious love story because I am so deeply moved?
I don't know. The girl side of me says no; the adult side of me says, "Get a grip."
But, then again, there really is nothing more inspiring and moving than a great love story. And the vast majority of women really crave romance, whether we want to admit it or not. We want a manly man who will save us from danger, fight off other guys for us, looks at us with longing in his eyes, be protective and strong, loyal, wealthy, and of course, devastatingly handsome. Now, Edward really is perfect because he's a vampire; he's so easy to like because he has all those admirable qualities. But some human characters are almost as good: like Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, and Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife.
Enough of those rambling thoughts. Let's just say that I LOVED the movie!! And I LOVE the books! And I wish I could be half as cool as Stephenie Meyer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Menu for November 24-30

Monday: beef stew
Tuesday: pasta with sauce, parmesan zucchini
Wednesday: steak, couscous, broccoli
Thursday: THANKSGIVING DINNER (see a couple of recipes below)
Friday: Thanksgiving leftovers
Saturday: Italian tuna sandwiches, carrot sticks
Sunday: Southwest salad

Beef Stew
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg Lowry’s beef stew seasoning mix
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups chopped potatoes
1 pkg chopped beef (the package should say “Beef for stewing”)
Boil all ingredients until cooked through (about 40-45 minutes). Drain enough water out that the stew will not be too watery. Add the seasoning packet and stir.
Note: Also a great crock pot recipe!

Pasta with sauce
Use whatever kind of pasta you like. I always use jarred sauce. I think this week, I’ll use alfredo… If you want to add some meatballs, go for it. (It’s a vegetarian night for us).

Parmesan zucchini
3 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise in ¼ or ½ inch slices
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Parmesan cheese
Place zucchini slices in a baking pan. Sprinkle garlic over the slices. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Couscous, steak, broccoli
(This is our last bit of steak from Angel Food … sniff sniff).
Chad will grill our steaks after I marinate them. For the couscous, I use the boxed kind from Albertson’s (Far East is the brand). I’ll steam the broccoli and just put salt and pepper on it.

Thanksgiving dinner: We’re eating dinner with our friends at their house. We’re buying a ham this year, instead of cooking a turkey. I’m making a couple of dishes, and she’s making some. I’m just going to put down two recipes that I’ll make. They are SUPER yummy, and the pumpkin dumpcake is TO DIE FOR…it’s so great because of all the butter! Read on…

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 cups yams, peeled and cooked
1 cup white sugar (or brown for that matter!)
¾ cup margarine or butter, melted
1 tsp nutmeg (I always add more because I like that spice)
2 cups mini marshmallows
4 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon (I add more, like 2 tsp)
1 cup coconut, optional

for the topping:
1 ½ cups crushed cornflakes
½ cup brown sugar
¾ cup melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 9x13 glass baking dish. In large bowl, mash potatoes, sugar, eggs, margarine, evaporated milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, and marshmallows (and coconut if you want). Put mixture in baking dish. Bake 20 minutes in oven.
In small bowl, mix the ingredients for the topping. Spread topping over casserole, Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Note: if you prefer, you can sprinkle the marshmallows on the top with the other topping. That’s what I did last time.

Pumpkin Dumpcake
30 oz can pumpkin pie mix (NOT pumpkin!)
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 box yellow cake mix
2 sticks butter (I told you there was lots of butter … it’s so worth it!)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Mix pumpkin pie mix, milk, and eggs together. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the top. Slice the sticks of butter into very thin slices, and place them over the top of the cake mix. Sprinkle pecans over the top (optional). Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Italian tuna sandwiches (makes 1 sandwich)
When we went to Italy in 2004, we order a tuna sandwich from a stand, expecting it to be mixed with mayonnaise. But it was more like this, and it was delish!
2 slices bread, toasted
½ can of tuna, drained
1 slice of mozzarella cheese
¼ avocado, sliced
sliced onion
sliced tomato
Spread mayonnaise on one piece of toast and mustard on the other. Lay the tuna on top of one piece of bread. Add the slice of cheese. Add slices of onion, avocado, and tomato.
Serve with carrot sticks and/or cucumber slices.

Southwest Salad
(This recipe is really easy and quick. And it's a good vegetarian meal. Think of all the money you're saving not buying meat!)
1 can corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg Knorr Lipton Spanish Rice mix, cooked
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup picante sauce
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
2 Tbsp lime juice
Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tagged by Rena

7 Things I Can do:
1. Read cool books
2. creative writing
3. Clean
4. Cook yummy food
5. Organize and de-clutter
6. Be a (pretty) good mommy
7. Listen and sympathize

7 Things I Cannot do:
1. sleep in past 7 am (oh, the sacrifices I make because of my children...)
2. Run as many miles as Rena
3. Be calm, cool, and collected in stressful circumstances
4. Take my time
5. Forgive easily (It's terrible; I know)
6. Be a size 4
7. Shop as much as I'd like to

7 Things that attracted me to Chad:
1. his love for God
2. his analytical mind
3. his love of music
4. his calm and easy-going nature
5. he thinks I'm beautiful!!!
6. his patience
7. his desire to make me happy

7 Things I say most often:
1. I have a crush on Edward Cullen
2. Ethan,please stop whining
3. Benji, stop fussing
4. Chad, please take out the trash
5. Cairo, don't vomit on the carpet again!
6. Lord, give me patience
7. God, help me

7 Celebrity Admirations
This is totally shallow, but the only reason I like these people is because they are beautiful
1. Angelina Jolie
2. Anne Hathaway
3. Penelope Cruz
4. Reece Witherspoon
5. Jessica Alba
6. Daniel Pattinson (a new favorite!!)
7. Katherine Heigl

7 Favorite Foods
1. chocolate chip cookies
2. oatmeal raisin cookies
3. brownies
4. dark chocolate
5. tri-colored potatoes with yellow curry sauce from Joe's
6, Wing stop wings with lemon pepper sauce
7. The Barefoot Contessa's curried chicken salad recipe

7 People to tag:
1. Brooke W.
2. Bridget B.
3. Michelle P
4. Jen H.
5. Jessica R.
6. Whitney D.
7. Amber S.

Menu for Nov 17-23

Monday: yum yum potatoes, cooked carrots
Tuesday: barbeque chicken pizza, green salad
Wednesday: bacon wraps, sweet potato fries
Thursday: sausage pasta dish, broccoli
Friday: take out
Saturday: tortellini with pesto sauce, garlic bread, green salad
Sunday: split pea soup with ham

Yum yum potatoes
(This is a dish I made for MOPS recently. It was yummy, so I’m making it for dinner. I’ll use fat free sour cream and 98% fat free cream of soups so that it won’t be too terrible).
1 large bag frozen hashbrowns
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed
1 ½ cups sour cream
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour; let sit for 10 minutes.

Barbeque chicken pizza
1 pizza dough from Joe’s
barbeque sauce
½ a purple onion, cut in ½ inch long slices
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
mozzarella cheese
Roll out pizza dough and place onto a pizza pan. Spread barbeque sauce over the dough. Sprinkle with onions. Put the diced chicken in a bowl and cover each piece with barbeque sauce. Sprinkle the chicken on the pizza. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with a green salad.

Bacon Wraps
8 slices bacon
4 (10 inch) flour tortillas
4 tablespoons Ranch dressing
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded lettuce
Microwave (or pan-fry) the bacon. Warm tortillas in microwave for about 10 seconds each. Spread 1 tablespoon Ranch dressing down the center of each tortilla. Layer bacon, avocado, tomato and lettuce over the dressing. Roll the tortilla around the other ingredients.
Serve with sweet potato fries from Trader Joe’s.

Sausage pasta dish
1 lb pasta (I like the spiral ones)
1 large jar of marinara pasta sauce
1 pkg spicy Italian sausage links (uncooked)
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Squeeze the sausage out of the links and brown it in a pan. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the garlic and onion. Cook the pasta according the directions on the package. Put pasta, pasta sauce, sausage, and onions into a 9x13 pan. Mix together and smooth the top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, top with cheese, and bake 5 minutes more.

Tortellini with pesto sauce, garlic bread, green salad
I bought a package of dry tortellini from Joe’s. You just boil it and put a sauce on it. I like Knorr’s creamy pesto sauce mix. You just add milk and olive oil, and it’s really yummy. I’ll serve it with garlic bread and a green salad. I like the pre-made garlic bread that comes in the foil package at Albertson’s; it’s really tasty. If you prefer, you can always buy frozen garlic bread, or make your own.

Split pea soup with ham
(We get dry beans, peas, or lentils with WIC, and I got peas last time. I’ve never tried pea soup, but I’ve heard it’s tasty).
½ pound green split peas (dry)
4 cups water
1 ham hock or meaty ham bone (I’ll probably use a package of pre-diced ham)
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped carrots
½ tsp salt
1 garlic clove, pressed
Wash, sort, and drain the peas. Combine all ingredients in large pot with lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered, approximately one hour or until cooked through; stir occasionally. Before serving, remove ham hock. Cut ham off bone, dice, and add to soup.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Menu for Nov 10-16

I’m not buying any new meat this week; we’re using the rest our Angel Food meat. I’m trying some thrilling new recipes (the fried chicken, the quiche, and the ribs). Oh boy, I’m excited!
Monday: chicken curry with vegetables
Tuesday: quiche and fresh fruit
Wednesday: steak, potatoes, and grilled corn
Thursday: oven-fried chicken, dinner rolls, Parmesan zucchini
Friday: take out
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Ribs, baked yams, peas

Chicken curry with vegetables
This recipe does take awhile. I work on it throughout the afternoon while the kids are napping.
1 onion sliced (I use purple)
fresh or frozen broccoli
2 chicken breasts
about 3 cups of diced potatoes (I like the tri-colored potatoes from Trader Joe’s; for this recipe, I’d use about half the bag)
six carrots, sliced
one bottle of red or yellow curry sauce from Joe’s (see note below)
Heat oven to 350. Place chicken breasts in a baking pan and drizzle both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle both sides with olive oil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out, turn over the breasts, and add the sliced onions. Place back in oven for about 20 more minutes. Put chicken and onions to the side.
Place potatoes into the baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Put in oven (at 350) for about 45 minutes, stirring once or twice as it cooks.
Meanwhile, steam the carrots and broccoli in a pot. Drain and set aside. Dice the chicken when it is cool enough.
Toss the potatoes, chicken, cooked carrots and broccoli, and onion slices together. Serve with curry sauce over it.
Note: If you don’t live near a Joe’s, you can make your own curry sauce with one can of coconut milk or light coconut milk and some red curry paste or yellow curry powder. (Red is more spicy than yellow). Just heat up the milk in a saucepan and whisk in the curry to taste. You don’t need much red curry paste to make it spicy, so be careful.

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
5 eggs
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 cup milk
1 (8 ounce) package Cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
½ a can of Rotel, drained
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until soft. Whisk together eggs, Ranch dressing and milk. Stir in shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in ½ a can of Rotel (drained). Pour egg mixture into a glass baking dish (8x8 or round). Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with fresh fruit.

Steak, potatoes, grilled corn
It’s grillin’ night! I’ll marinate the steak all day, and Chad will grill it. For the corn, you can either wrap it in foil before you grill it, or put it straight on the grill if you prefer it a blackened.
For the potatoes, cut into small pieces (I’ll use the remainder of the tri-colored potatoes from earlier this week). Place potatoes in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring once or twice as they cook.

Oven-Fried Chicken (from The Barefoot Contessa: Family Style)
About 8 chicken pieces (I’ll use breasts, drumsticks, and thighs)
1 quart buttermilk (to make your own buttermilk, add 1 Tbsp of vinegar to each cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil
Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat over to 350. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Take chicken out of buttermilk and thoroughly cover each piece with flour mixture. Pour oil into a large stockpot to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 360 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Place several pieces of chicken into the pot at a time, fry for about 3 minutes on each side until coating is light brown. Remove chicken from oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan (I don’t have a rack, so I’m just going to use a regular baking pan). Allow oil to return to 360 before frying the next batch. When all chicken is fried, bake for 30-40 minutes, until it is no longer pink inside.
I’ll serve with store-bought dinner rolls (or maybe the pre-made Pillsbury ones) and steamed broccoli.

Parmesan zucchini
3 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise in ¼ or ½ inch slices
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Parmesan cheese
Place zucchini slices in a baking pan. Sprinkle garlic over the slices. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Campbell’s Honey Barbeque Ribs
Four pounds pork spareribs (we only have 1 ½ racks of ribs)
1 (10.5 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed French Onion Soup
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cut ribs into serving pieces. Place ribs in 6-quart saucepot. Cover with water. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Drain. Mix soup, ketchup, honey, garlic powder and black pepper in 2-quart saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook 5 minutes. Place ribs on lightly oiled grill rack over medium-hot coals. Grill 20 minutes or until no longer pink and glazed, turning and brushing often with soup mixture.

Baked yams
I bake them like regular baked potatoes. I peel them first, rinse them off, dry with a paper towel, and wrap in foil. They need to bake for at least an hour at about 350. If they’re too tasteless, you can add cinnamon and a little sugar.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vampires and Werewolves

Just a quick post to say that I am completely obsessed, consumed, and bewitched by the Twilight books. I read the first one in 3 days, and I'm working on the second one. It is so hard to put down. These books are INCREDIBLE! Everything else in my life is being placed on the back burner because I've been so addicted: blogging, emails, dirty dishes; everything except my children, and some sleep. Oh my gosh, these books are amazing! There is just nothing more inspiring than a great love story. I think I want to start a cult of people who are in love with these books. If you have read them, join my cult! If you have not read them, you must.
I really hope the final book has some closure, because Edward Cullen has been haunting my every thought.
BTW, the author is Stephanie Meyer, and the books are Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu for Nov 3-9

Last week, we picked up our first box of Angel Food (, so we get to have steak this week.
Monday: Greek grilled cheese and tomato soup
Tuesday: pork chops with green beans and rice
Wednesday: chicken fajitas
Thursday: couscous, steak, broccoli
Friday: take out
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: hotdogs, green salad

Greek grilled cheese and tomato soup
(Both Chad and my neighbor’s husband Pedro get home late on Monday nights. We usually eat together outside our houses at the picnic table while the kids run wild. Silvina wants me to show her to make the grilled cheese sandwiches this week, so we’re having them again. And that’s okay because they’re yummy).
1 ½ teaspoons butter
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 slices mozzarella cheese
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tomato, thinly sliced
1/4 avocado, sliced
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of
bread. On the non buttered side of one slice, layer the feta
cheese, mozzarella cheese, red onion, tomato and avocado. Top
with the other slice of bread with the butter side out.
Fry the sandwich until golden brown on each side, about 2
minutes per side. The second side always cooks faster.
Serve with tomato soup.

Pork Chops with green beans and rice
6 Tbsp Italian dressing
2 Tbsp apricot jam (I’ll use the orange marmalade already in my fridge)
4 pork chops (about 1 lb)
1 ½ cups minute rice, uncooked
2 cups green beans
1 can chicken broth
4 sheets of tin foil
Preheat oven to 350. Mix dressing and jam with whisk. Brush 2 Tbsp on chops. Let stand for 10 minutes. Place rice into centers of sheets of foil, top with beans. Make foil into a bowl. Gradually add chicken broth and remaining dressing mixture over beans. Close foil packets. Grill packets 20-30 minutes till pork is cooked through.
Note: Cook them with a sheet pan underneath to catch any drippings that come out so you don’t have to clean your stove.

I don’t have a recipe written down for this. I heat up some oil and sauté sliced peppers and onions for about 4 or 5 minutes. Then I add some water and let them cook till they’re really soft. I add a packet of taco seasoning, or you can sprinkle fajita seasoning over it.
I’ll be using the chicken fajita strips (pre-seasoned!!) I got from AngelFood. If you cook your own chicken, throw it in there (already diced) with the peppers and onions and cook it in the oil for about 8 minutes.
Serve with tortillas, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes.

Couscous, steak, broccoli
Chad will grill our steaks after I marinade it. For the couscous, I use the boxed kind from Albertson’s (Far East is the brand). Even Ethan eats it! Joe’s has a whole grain couscous that is fiber-licious, but it’s more dry. I’ll steam the broccoli and just put salt and pepper on it.

Need I explain hotdogs? Either Chad will grill them or I’ll pan-cook them. I might serve them with chili … from a can.