Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Cookin Wednesday

While working on The Pullman I was trying to come up with meals that we could enjoy without having to cook (because of course we had a full commercial kitchen we couldn't use!) This fit the bill perfectly.

Slow Cooker Enchiladas

1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1/2 bell pepper, diced small
1 16oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided
2 16oz jars of your favorite salsa
12 6"-8" tortillas, flour or corn
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and just 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.

Scoop about 1/3 cup into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it inot the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.

Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the reamining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.

Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

This was yummy. I skipped the cheese at the end mainly because everyone ate when they were hungry and that wasn't at the same time. I didn't add any meat - but I think I actually used everything else in the recipe (WHOA! ;-))

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

So in the hustle and bustle of the season, I forgot to write this blog post!

This is a book I read about, put on my library request list and forgot about!

The story begins with Connor's grandfather, Finn's, passing. After the funeral Connor's grandmother tells him that his grandfather wanted his ashes to be taken back to Ireland and spread there. Connor goes to Ireland and the adventure begins! A crazy story-telling Irish actor, a bad dude, a badder dude, a girl with red hair, and a leprechaun...? Connor travels along the southern coast of Ireland trying to figure out where to spread his grandfather's ashes.

I enjoyed the narrative of the story - maybe it helped that I had been places in the book (both in Ireland and Atlanta where Connor lives). I liked the story. Actually - I'm gonna have a fine at the library because I kept this book 3 days longer than I should have!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

A good mixture of fall and Christmas-y taste for me is apples & cranberries!

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

2 pounds Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup cranberries
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375F. Butter an 8" square baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together apples, cranberries, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place evenly into baking dish.

In the same bowl, combine oats, flour and brown sugar. With a fork, mix in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.

Only made better with a bit of vanilla ice cream! :-D

Monday, December 19, 2011

Me and my shadow!

Please feel free to listen (or watch!) this song while reading this post. :-)

I have always thought silhouettes were such lovely and understated works of art. I would be fascinated by the people who did it at Disney World, Kings Island, or Central Park. They could cut your silhouette out in minutes! I decided I thought it would be fun art to hang in our humble bedroom.

Our bedroom is a work in progress. These silhouettes are only the second thing I have hung on the wall, so I am taking my time with it. We did get around to painting in over the summer. It went from drab and boring, to vibrant and living.

It was amazing to me how the paint actually made the room look much bigger! In a house cursed with small rooms, that is indeed a blessing.

I started out with some frames and material. The frames were fine as they were, but several accent things in our bedroom are white, so I opted to paint them. The material...well, I want to use it behind the silhouettes, but I need your opinion. Which do you think would look best as the background? Or, should I leave them as they are with a white background?

I was not sure how I was going to capture the silhouette, as my love was was leaving to play basketball. But, I quickly took a side pic of him and he took one of me. He is good an humoring me. :-)

I pulled out the laptop and uploaded the pics. Then I used Picasa (a free photo editing program) to make them black/white. They also have a feature where you can add shadows, fill light, and highlights. I added shadow, to make the picture (and outline) darker.

Then I put the paper against the laptop screen and traced the outline. :-)

Cutting out the outline was not a problem. Could you believe though, that i could only find yellow paper? Oh how funny.

That meant I had to spray paint it black. I tried a permanent marker first, and it did not work very well. But the spray paint made it look like shiny paper.

I mounted them in the frames on the back of the picture that already came in the frame. Yeah, I'm cheap like that. But, I also wanted to do it like this before deciding to cut any lovely vintage fabric.

But once I put them up, I could not decide it they were too plain or not. Any votes?

And yes, that is a cricket bat next to my husband's side of the bed. I always feel protected. :-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

This is the story of a woman who has suffered an accident and every morning wakes up not remembering the day(s) before. She begins keeping a journal - at the recommendation of a doctor, who she does not remember - and reads and writes in it every day. The doctor says that writing the journal might help her remember things. It does. Some of those things are sad, some are scary/mysterious.

I really got into the character - wanting her to remember things. Wondering, like her, if they were things she remembered or made up. The author did a great job of making me suspicious of more than one character in the book. I guessed a key part of the ending before reading it, but didn't guess the ending! This book had me staying up late and waking up early to finish it at the end.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Thanksgiving Edition (part 2!)

Today we get to the "non-veggie" side and DESSERT!

Cranberry, Apricot and Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf (Gluten Free AND Vegan!) (from one of my favorite web-sites Oh She Glows

1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped celery + 1/2 cup, divided
1 heaping cup chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
2 cups vegetable broth (be sure to use gluten-free if you want the dish to be)
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
3/4 - 1 tsp kosher salt + black pepper
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, thinly sliced

-Preheat oven to 325F and toast the pecans for about 7-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.
-Saute onion, oil and garlic in a skillet over miedum-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add 1.5 cups chopped celery and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
-Add wild rice, broth, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low-medium and then cover with lid. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once half way through.
-After 30 minutes, uncover, stir and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Note that wild rice cooking times can vary a lot so keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Remove bay leaf and stir in the dried fruit. Season to taste and stir in the sliced fresh cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped raw celery. Stir in toasted pecans.

yum! (but I skipped the pecans)

Applesauce Spice Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar and ice cream, for serving

-Place a 15" piece of parchment paper in the bowl of a 5-6 qt slow cooker, letting the excess come up the sides. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.
-Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the applesauce and vanilla (the mixture will look curdled). Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
-Transfer the batter to the prepared slow cooker and cook, covered, until set and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 2 - 2 1/2 hours on high.
-Holding the parchment, transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Dust with the confectioners' sugar and serve with ice cream, if desired.

I liked being able to put this in the crockpot and not worry about it. But it tasted the same as any old spice cake...which I'm usually "eh" about ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday wreath!

There is nothing for getting into the holiday spirit like a little Christmas-y DIY project. I was on the lookout for something fun, since I had just painted our door. I went to craft stores and hardware stores and other stores looking for a wreath. Those things are expensive! I was not about to shell out $60. So I opted to make one.

If you were to buy all these supplies, they would be around $20. But, with the ever present coupon and some sales, I scored all this for around $10. I got an 18in wreath form, brown yarn, red polka dot ribbon, three 81/2 x 11 sheets of white felt and one of green.

I trimmed down the form till it was the softer shape I wanted. I cut the pieces off with a knife, then pushed the foam down. I wanted rounded edges for the front of the wreath, not squared. But, I did want the back to stay squared so it would lay flat.

I put a drop of glue on and started winding. (If you choose to do this project, I suggest balling your yarn first. Its not easy putting the whole thing through each time.)

The whole process took me several hours, but I was very particular about how it sat. I jsut watched tv while I did it over a few nights.

Then I worked on the flowers. I wanted white ones, so I could use them year round on the blue door if I wanted to. I cut 1 - 1 1/2 in strips out of one of the white sheets. Then I cut into squares. Rounding the edges off two corners gives you a good shape for the petals. I sewed together the two square ends on a round piece of the felt. I just used two stitches in each piece. Went all the way around the circle.

Then I sewed on the second layer. :-) I made all of the flowers in about an hour or so. I only did two rows of petals, then I put fun vintage buttons in the middle.

I cut out random leaf shapes and sewed two on each flower.

Arranging the wreath can be fun. I pinned each flower on (under the big buttons) so that I could take them off and use different flowers if I wanted to use the base year round. I did the same with the ribbons, which are rather random, but I wanted to add the holiday color.

I made a yarn loop and glued it to the top part of my wreath.

Turned out to be a pleasant greeting each evening when I get home from work.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's Cooking - Special Saturday edition

Every weekday morning I eat the exact same thing for breakfast. Some may say I'm a creature of habit, but I like to say it's because I don't have to think about what to make every morning! But the weekends allow me time to bake a breakfast and enjoy with a cup of coffee...mmm.

Recently I tried 2 scone recipies. One I liked, the other I didn't.

Easy Scones (from Woman's Day November 1, 2011)

3 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup lemon-lime soda
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 & 1/2)

-Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. With a fork, gently stir in the soda and cream, mixing untl incorporated (do not overmix).
-Drop 8 large spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar, if desired, and bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with butter and honey or jam.

I was skeptical when I started. So few ingredients and it would taste good? They were ok - they were better with apple & peach butters :-D

Glazed Cinnamon Scones (from Money Saving Mom)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg, separated
3 Tbl honey
1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup milk mixed with 1/2 tsp of lemon juice)

Crumb Topping:
1-2 Tbls sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

-Preheat oven to 400F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in
butter until mixture is crumbly.
-In a separate bowl mix egg yoke, honey and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
-Form dough into a ball on a floured surface. Roll or pat out to 1/2" in thickness and 8" in diamete. Cut into 8 equally sized pieces.
-Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Whisk the egg white until froth forms and brush over the tops of scones. Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over egg-white-topped-scones.
-Bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Mix together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze forms. Drizzle over scones after they bake.

I simply sprinkled sugar and cinnamon over the dough. And I skipped the glaze (toooo sweet!). LOVED these!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday - Thanksgiving Edition (part 1)

Man, I really like to cook for other people. Something I've known for awhile, but I'm reminded when a group of people are going to get together.

This week will be the bread and vegetables I made for Pullman Thanksgiving.

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbls brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups milk

- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Stir in raisins. Make well in dry ingredients.
- Add the milk; stir till moistened.
- Turn into a greased 9x 1 1/2" baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven for 30-35 minutes or till the top is browned. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool thoroughly.
- Wrap bread in foil and clear plastic wrap and store overnight before servings.
Makes 1 loaf, 12 servings.
My changes: No raisins. I wanted this to be more of a bread then a sweet loaf. Used 1/2 & 1/2 instead of milk (had it on hand).

Can't go wrong with a loaf of Irish soda bread - even sent it home with an Irish lad! ;-)

Candied Carrots
4 Tbl unsalted butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds small carrots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over mediume head. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, cayenne, and 1/4 cup water. Add the carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are just tender and the glaze has thickened, 15-20 minutes, tossing gently every few minutes. Sprinkle with pepper.

This was yummy! Lots of butter though.

Dilled Carrots and Green Beans

3/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dill weed
4 medium carrots, julienned
1/2 lb fresh green beans
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing

In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, salt and dill to a boil. Add carrots and beans. Cook, uncovered, for 5-8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain.

Drizzle with dressing; toss to coat.

So simple! So yummy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Door is a perfume...what is Blue Door?

My house is one of many on the block. Built in the 50s, its a cookie cutter, built for the new families that needed homes after the WWII. There is not much to make it stand out. Honestly, that is OK. I do not want it to stand out TOO much. But, a little zest is always good, right?

I wanted to come home to something special. Something different from what everyone else is coming home to. So I opted to paint my door. The color was the difficulty. There are so many good ones!

I went for blue. And no, its not just a college basketball statement. I love blue! And my husband happens to like it to. When you agree, you just have to go with it! We took the door down, washed it and let it dry. Make sure you pick a time when you are going to be home for a solid 6-8 hrs. :-)

Then, I sanded it to get the rough spots out. After that came the painting. I tried it first with a brush. I knew it would take several coats if I went that route.

So, I switched to a roller for the flat parts, brush for the grooves. In this pictures above, left side is rolled. See the difference?

I ended up doing five coats total.

Then we put it back up. Its such a happy door now! I have to admit...I was thinking of this guy when I painted it also....

I love my fox door knocker! (He needed a special door!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Lime and Soy-Glazed Chicken With Cabbage Slaw
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced (4 cups)
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
kosher salt and black pepper
Heat oven to 400° F. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, stir together the sugar, soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice; add the chicken and turn to coat. Roast, skin-side down, until the sauce is simmering, about 10 minutes. Turn the chicken skin-side up and roast, basting occasionally, until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, scallions, and mint with the ginger, canola oil, sesame oil, the remaining 3 tablespoons of lime juice, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the chicken.

Heidi's changes: Used green cabbage instead of red (gotta use what you have!)
Skipped the mint and the ginger
Used regular onion instead of scallions (had on hand)

I thought this dish was good. Might have been better if I ate the skin of the chicken, but I don't usually do that. The chicken was moist and flavorful. The slaw was yummy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What's Cooking Sister's Edition

Pasta With Sausage and Tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, broken up with your hands
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage links
12 ounces cavatappi or some other short pasta
3 cups baby spinach (2 1/2 ounces)
grated Parmesan, for serving
1.Heat oven to 450° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, mix the tomatoes (with their juices) and garlic with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast until the tomatoes have charred in spots and the juices have thickened, 40 to 45 minutes.
2.After the tomatoes have roasted for 20 minutes, place the sausage on a second rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Thinly slice the sausage.
3.Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the tomatoes, sausage, spinach, and 2 tablespoons of the cooking water and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Sprinkle with the Parmesan

I sat this one out - but it got rave reviews! Even niece A said, "Nom NOM!" after eating it! Bro-in-law 1 said, "How could anything with spaghetti sauce and hamburger be bad?" That was when I told him that it wasn't hamburger, it was sausage and it wasn't spaghetti sauce, it was just tomatoes (he doesn't really like tomatoes!) we even had a little bit of a discussion about it (because he swore it was spag. sauce!) haha!

J used fresh tomatoes from the garden instead of canned.
H used Penne instead of cavatappi, and ground sausage instead of links (and I used 1 lb instead of 3/4) also I left the tomatos in for 45 min and the sauces did cook down but the tomatoes didn't really brown... (neither did J's)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Lemony Tuna and Olive Oil Pasta
12 ounces linguine (3/4 box)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 6-ounce cans oil-packed tuna
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta.
Wipe out the pasta pot and cook the oil, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the pasta, tuna, lemon zest, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and the reserved pasta water to the pasta pot and cook over low heat, tossing, until the sauce is slightly thickened and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the parsley and toss to combine.

Heidi's changes: Instead of lemon zest I used some lemon juice
Skipped the parsley

I like my dishes with more color! This dish just looked bland. Maybe it would have been better (at least looking) with the parsley. Overall I thought this was ok. Not repeatable though.

Monday, November 21, 2011

In my own little corner...

Im not really sure why, but I just had this thought of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, talking about having her own chair off in a warm room. That is what this precious little chair made me think of. Or in the old Cinderella, singing of her "own little corner, with my own little chair." ;-)

It started out looking like this. I saw it in a pile of broken furniture at an auction. In all honesty, it looked like the old farmer's "burn pile". He was going to have PLENTY of pieces for winter. The auctioneer was about to move on, when I asked if I could just buy one piece. I pulled this out and payed $2 for it. Honestly, it was the legs that drew my eye. They were so ornate, yet it was the only bit of it that could be called that. I loved that all the rest was simple.

The back looked like it would have held a bar, but both pieces were I wasnt going to be able to do anything to that. I decided to saw them off and sand them down. They ended up looking like little nubbins, which actually worked out quite well.

On closer inspection, the ornate pieces around the legs became even more interesting. They were not actually attached to the legs as you would think. They were four pieces that all fit together to surround the leg and stay put. It was amazing work, as it didnt take nails or glue. However, I did end up gluing the pieces down, since I was going to paint it. I did not want the pieces to move or anything.

The fabric was in a box that we got at a different auction. It was simple, being just one color. Yet it was so grand. It reminded me of ornate fabrics used 200 years ago in castles. Who doesnt like being reminded of a castle, right? It was velvety, and had a scheen.

I got a cushion from Hobby Lobby and cut it to fit the seat. I used the old board that came with it to be my template and also to use as support. I then fitted the fabric around it and nailed it all in place.

Then, it was paint time. I went to the standard white. Its classic and goes with most anything, so it was a safe choice. If you look closely at the ornamentation, you can see how the pieces fit on there.

Then, I screwed the seat on and voila! It just says "Sit in ME." Doesn't it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What's Cooking Sisters Edition

In following the month of cooking that we did in November.

Pasta With Sausage and Tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, broken up with your hands
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage links
12 ounces cavatappi or some other short pasta
3 cups baby spinach (2 1/2 ounces)
grated Parmesan, for serving
Heat oven to 450° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, mix the tomatoes (with their juices) and garlic with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast until the tomatoes have charred in spots and the juices have thickened, 40 to 45 minutes.
After the tomatoes have roasted for 20 minutes, place the sausage on a second rimmed baking sheet. Roast, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Thinly slice the sausage.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the tomatoes, sausage, spinach, and 2 tablespoons of the cooking water and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry). Sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad With Pistachios
1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 pound shiitake or cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup quinoa
5 cups baby spinach (4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped salted, roasted pistachios
Heat oven to 425° F. On 2 rimmed baking sheets, toss the carrots and mushrooms with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and thyme.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Divide the spinach among plates and top with the warm quinoa and vegetables. Sprinkle with the pistachios and drizzle with the oil.

Serves 4.

Heidi's changes: Used regular brown mushrooms
Skipped the pistachios

Since it's gotten colder I'm LOVING roasted vegetables! But overall I found this dish lacking. I didn't think it was robust enough to be a full meal. I know that all the key "needs" are there, but I was left feeling hungry.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What's Cooking Sisters Edition

Yes, the month of October is in our rear view mirror - but I didn't keep up with what we cooked in October! As you might remember we started with the Real Simple month of cooking...and after the first week, the 3 of us didn't cook the same dish again! So I'll highlight dishes that at least 2 of us made.

Chicken With Wild Rice and Grapes

1 cup wild rice blend
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups red seedless grapes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat oven to 425° F. Cook the rice according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In 2 batches, cook the chicken, skin-side down, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Place skin-side up and roast until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the grapes and thyme to the drippings in the skillet and cook, tossing occasionally, until the grapes begin to burst, 5 to 7 minutes.

Heidi's changes: Brown rice instead of wild
Chicken breast instead of thighs (gotta go with what's on sale!)
No green beans

H's changes; I used Chicken breast instead of thighs. Made my own "wild rice blend" 1 cup brown rice 2 T of Long grain wild rice. Used Dried Thyme. and used 1 T of marg. instead of 2 on the green beans. Oh and I boiled them for just a short amount of time instead of using a steamer. But maybe necessary if we used thighs instead of breasts. I felt like the green beans were still a little too greasy even with 1/2 the marg... wished I would have used Molly Mc. and ignored the marg. all together.

Everyone involved loved it! We did feel that the baking after "sealing" the juices in the skillet was redundant I left my grapes in the pan a bit too long and so there were some "burnt" attributes to them, but I liked the different texture a cooked grape takes on (my bro-in-law also loved the grapes!).

Friday, November 11, 2011

What I'm Reading Now

Meg moves from Phoenix to Spaulding, WA. The story follows her journey to get to know her neighbors and to make friends. It also includes a "beauty pageant" with only 3 requirements: you are a resident of Spaulding, you have a sponsor who was a past Queen(?) and you perform a talent.

This was my latest book club book. I have to admit - I wouldn't have picked this up on my own (and one of the main reasons I love my book club!). There were times I thought this book was very slow. There are moments she has "flashbacks" and I started just skipping those. There were times I thought this book was very funny. There were times this book just made me thing "huh?". Overall I'm glad I read it - would I recommend it? Probably not. My book club was also very divided in what we thought about the book. I have been told her first book was better (and non-fiction)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Cooking Wednesday

Today I share some of the things I bring to Football Sunday. First you need to know that it's at least 80% male and that I've been watching a lot of Steelers football (hanging head in shame).

A couple Sundays ago I thought I'd bring some food along - some semi-healthy food ;-)

Stuffed Baguette
Makes one 12-inch long baguette; about 24 slices
Baguette about 14-inch long
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz fresh goat cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
½ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 oz finely chopped spicy salami
About 2 tbsp minced Italian parsley
About 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (very unlikely since there’re plenty of salty ingredients)
Slice off both ends of the baguette. Using a long thin knife and working from the both ends, hollow the baguette out leaving about ½-inch thick crust all around.
Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump-free. Beat in the goat cheese and garlic. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Working again from the both ends, fill the baguette with the cheese mixture. Pack the filling tight. I like to use a slender tequila shot glass for pressing the filling in. Wrap the stuffed baguette very well in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. Right before serving, slice the baguette into ½-inch thick slices and serve. For the most neat looking slices, treat it as a cheesecake – each time slice it with a hot dry knife.

Heidi's changes: I started with a baguette from one of my favorite places the Merchantile
Didn't use the olives
Used pepperoni instead of salami

This was loved by all!

Roasted Chickpeas
1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
garlic salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, garlic salt, and cumin, if using. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Watch carefully the last few minutes to avoid burning.

Heidi's changes: I really didn't change anything at all. While the chickpeas I tried were done, all of them weren't (making them chewy-like.

The boys were not a fan. I will try again and bake them long enough and I think I'll be a fan!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bringing a fridge back to normal...

I've been picking out paint colors, working on seating arrangements, coming up with a menu and hiring staff. The long story about that will come some day, but today a project I'm working on in regards to that.

When we bought all the equipment we got this beer fridge:

Lovely isn't it?

When I started to sand it down (the advice I got online instead of trying to take the stickers off), most of the stickers just started coming off. So I worked on getting them off. Of course, in my stubbornness I was doing it with my hands and got a few cuts under my fingernails. Lessons learned for "next time"! After peeling for hours I got to this point:

And then I was ready to paint! I used a black spray paint that also had a primer in it. And 2 1/2 coats later we have this!

There are some places where I just couldn't get the sticker goo off (should have used goo gone!), but overall I'm pleased with the new look. It also now matches all the other fridges ;-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A year long quest for a corn dog....

Wow - the blog has been neglected by me lately. I have so much to blog and yet so little time to do it!

Yesterday was beautiful here. Fall is my favorite season and so when it's a beautiful day - a girl has to be outside enjoying it! I headed to the Cabbagetown's Chomp and Stomp in the early afternoon with 1 goal in mind: to get a corndog I hear about a year ago. This man (Jim Stacy) has a food truck and makes corndogs...yum?

The line was pretty crazy (my number was 226 and they were in the 190s when I got there) - which made me a little scared (what if it really wasn't worth the hype?). But all in all = worth it. I just got a regular corndog this time around...keeping it simple. But next time I'll try the polish kielbasa or the spicy italian sausage! Great mix of batter with just a touch of sweet. And the hotdog was good too!

Of course I left having not taken enough pictures or buying the 1 piece of art that caught my eye.... One day I will learn and be better prepared!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Haunted Trail

Happy Halloween!

No furniture this week, Im taking a break as our season is winding down. But, the guy and I DID carve you some awesome pumpkins. :-) His is the brightests, but my two are creepier. He cleaned them out for me and then let me carve awesome is that?

I thought it would be fun to tell you about the haunted trail we created this last week. My guy coaches a middle school girl's cross country team. (Awww!) He likes to make it fun, so that the girls actually have fun with the workouts and runs. Thursdays are often "Fun Runs" and they do things like gummy worm races, scavenger hunts, etc.

This Thursday, he told the girls they would just be running in the dark at the Nature Preserve. What the girls didnt know is, he invited all the parents to come to the Natrue Preserve after dropping their kids off about 1/2 mile down the road from it. The other coach was to meet the parents. The girls didnt know the parents were invited for an extra special treat during this run. Ha ha ha ha ha. How often do parents get to scare their kids?

The Natrue Preserve makes a loop, with a trail through the middle too connecting two sides. Dave and I had gone out previously and put these pumpkins in various spots to be spooky lights through the trees. I stationed myself by one, on a little bridge down a small hill from the trail. Parents were stationed along the trail, silently off to the sides, with masks and costumes. We also hid a bunch in a bird blind to all jump out at once.

As soon as the girls entered the trail, the screaming began. It was AWESOME! When they ran past me, I pulled my hood up and ran across the bridge toward them. The donimo effect of fear and falling bodies is just too fun to watch.

There is only one way in or out of the trail that connects to the loop. After they passed me, I ran opposite them, and place one of the pumkins right in the middle of the trail, where they had already gone. I hid about 20 feet further down.

When they came by again, they really freaked out. But, they also thought something would jump out immediately. I do love a good false sense of security and popped out into their midst once they started running again. (Yeah, they totally didnt want to pass it) I thought about tackling the coach for good measure, but opted not there were two guys running at that point, and in the dark...I might have tackled the wrong one. :-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Black and Blue

There are many things that would cause a person to repurpose furniture. This piece came to use scratched and bruised. The veneer was coming of fthe front and places on the top, like the picture above. I hate to cover the wood, but I would rather it be given a new life, than for no one to see its potential.

The blue worked so well months ago, I decided to try it again. I wanted it to be different though, so I opted to paint it just blue.

It turned out pretty well, and we had some interest in it as a coffee table, but it was a little tall for something like that.

It was quite striking in coloring.

But after trying it for a month, I opted to brighten it up a bit and add some details.

I thought that perked it up a bit and made it stand out a lot more.