Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week 7 Menu

Last week I was feeling a bit lazy with my cooking. I made most of what I had planned, but it wasn't with the usual enthusiasm! I didn't get to make my Indian dish. I had planned on making it late in the week. But, I learned I need to put my ambitious dishes at the beginning of the week, and rely on leftovers and the Crock Pot at the end!

Sunday: Pizza with Grandma
Monday: Pork Chops
Tuesday: Chicken ala Orange (ala Crock Pot) and roasted asparagus
I am very excited about this one! There are some interesting flavor combinations (orange, cinnamon, mushrooms). I will definitely review it here this week.
Wednesday: Gobi Matar Sabzi (holdover from last week)
Thursday: Beef Stroganoff (made ahead)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Leftovers? Out? I’m working. So, it’s hard to say!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Language

Five points if you can name the reference in the title!

Shelby's language is really coming along! She has her own animal sounds for duck, dog, and cat! She can point out Dad and say "da-da" with glee!...of course "ma-ma" is touch and go. When someone leaves or says "goodbye," Shelby says "bye bye" with an accompanying wave. "Hi" has its own type of wave that goes with it.

She is really starting to understand when you talk to her. She can "fetch" a ball, Henry, her purse, socks, shoes (hers and Mom's and Dad's), and her cup. She knows where in the kitchen the milk, raisins, and granola bars are. She can point out her nose, hair, toes, ear, teeth, and mouth. When Scott asked her where her elbow was, she stopped, ran to the table, and grabbed her Elmo book. Elbow, Elmo....close enough!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Before the Buffett concert, we were invited by Mr. Buffett (okay, invited by his assistants) to a pre-concert party! We got had some snacks, beer, and, of course, margaritas! Jimmy even gave a shout-out to the workers of the "Land Shark Brewery" for all they do making his beer! It was pretty nice!

Not bad for two parents of a gregarious 16-month old!....but I've heard it's downhill from here...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roasted Chicken

It hard to believe somethign that tastes so good and is so classic can be so easy to make! I've seen the TV chefs making roasted chickens for a couple years, but have been a little intimidated in making my own. It's very Donna Reed, comfort food, and elegant all at the same time. Chicken is so bland on its own, but with some basic seasonings, it can be fantastic. While handling this sucker, I wanted to make the little chicken dance "Julia Child-style," but I kept my composure. :) For this recipe I used a combination of recipes from Ina Garten and America's Test Kitchen.

1 whole roasting chicken (6-8 lbs)
1/2 lemon, quartered
1 clove garlic
2 T butter, softened
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t basil (dried or fresh)
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Make sure you take the giblet bag out!!
3. Salt and pepper the cavity generously.
4. Cut garlic clove in half (knif parallel to countertop). Put garlic and 2 lemon quarters in cavity.
5. Combine butter, cumin and basil with fork until combined completely.
6. Separate skin from breast on chicken and insert butter.
7. Massage chicken from outside with olive oil to distribute butter mixture.
8. Place chicken in roasting pan and cook for ~80-90 min - until juices run clear when knife inserted between leg and body.
9. When cooked, take out of oven and cover with foil for ten minutes.
10. Carve and enjoy!

You can add vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan for a complete meal.

Week 6 Menu

Sunday: Roasted chicken and asparagus
Monday: Leftover chicken with pesto pasta
Tuesday: BBQ and broccoli
Wednesday: Chicken fajitas
Thursday: Pork chops Parmigiano ala Slow Cooker
Friday: Gobi Matar Sabzi from "This Week for Dinner"
Saturday: Grandma Lawrence in town for the weekend!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fins Up!

We had the bizarre chance to go to the Jimmy Buffett concert tonight!

My boss called last night that Jimmy Buffett contacted the brewery and wanted to give some tickets to the people who make Land Shark! And, Joyce asked me if we could go!! We immediately got on the phone to get a sitter. What are the chances for getting a sitter with only 24 hours notice?! Well, we scored with our first call!

It was a great show! How bad a job could it be if your work uniform was a t-shirt, board shorts, and no shoes??!! Lots of drunk, old people in beach wear...but no obnoxious ones near us (thank goodness!). I don't know all the words to all the songs, but he played some old favorites that even I could sing along to!

It was a great (unexpected) date night!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Extravaganza Soup

I haven't always been a fan of tortilla soups. This soup had such rave reviews and is such a departure from our usual entrees that I had to give it a shot. This recipe makes a pretty thick soup. Use more liquid if you desire a a thinner soup.

Yummy, onion-y, spicy goodness. Doesn't that make your mouth just water??

The final product.

Chicken Tortilla Soup Extravaganza
From: This Week for Dinner

Yield: 8 servings

- 1 onion, finely chopped
- olive oil
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 can corn
- 1 large chicken breast
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 lime (one extra for garnish)
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped
- 4-5 corn tortillas, cut into strips --> used half a tortilla per person
- 1 avocado, diced
- cayenne pepper --> used a 5 drops of cayenne pepper sauce
- chili powder --> 1/2 tsp
- cumin --> 1/2 tsp
- salt and pepper
- cheddar or jack cheese, shredded
- sour cream

Sautee onion in olive oil until soft, then add garlic, green onions, cayenne, chili powder, and cumin. Sautee until fragrant (a minute or two). Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add tomatoes, corn, black beans.

Grill up chicken spiced with cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. (You can also pan-fry it, but it won’t add the smokiness that the bbq does).
--> I roasted the chicken breast with only salt & pepper on it.

Cut up or shred chicken and add it to the soup. Try the soup and add more seasonings according to taste, if needed. Add lime juice, cilantro, and avocado.
--> We aren't a "cilantro household." So, we omitted.

In large fry pan over medium-high heat, crisp up tortilla strips. Add salt. You may do this with oil or cooking spray. (For a shortcut, use tortilla chips instead).
--> You have to cut them really, really thin to get the same consistency as the restaurant strips.
--> I used cooking spray. Cooked 'em ~3min per side for a satisfying crispiness.

Serve soup garnished with cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips, fresh cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Curried Carrot Soup

I have made this soup several times now. It's quick. It's easy. It freezes well. You can put as much or as little heat as you want. I found it on Three Many Cooks. This soup is perfect for a cool (Florida?) day or as part of your brownbag lunch!

Nothing bad can come from this combination. Cook these guys until they're tender and brown.

I used baby carrots. I wish I had bought regulation-sized carrots. Chopping up a pound of those little guys was a little tedious.

The receipe calls for curry powder. I happen to have this green curry paste to use it up! Use as much as you dare!

After everything has simmered, and the mixture is blended in the food processor, it can be mistaken for baby food.

I package up the soup at this point. You can put those party cups to good use!

Fill the bag with one serving. You can pull the bag out of the cup once it is frozen. Keep the soup-sicle in the freezer until ready to use. When the soup is thawed, you can add water to the consistency of your choice. Enjoy!

Curried Carrot Soup
From: Three Many Cooks

Yields 6 to 7 cups, serving 6 to 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into large dice
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoons butter
1 large pinch sugar
3 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons curry paste
3 cups chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 cups half and half or whole milk
Salt and ground black pepper

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep sauté pan until shimmering. Add carrots and then onions; saute, stirring very little at first and more frequently at the end, until carrots start to turn golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add butter, sugar, and garlic; continue to cook until all vegetables are a rich spotty caramel color, about 10 minutes longer. Add selected curry powder; continue to sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute longer.

Add broth; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and simmer, partially covered, until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender; puree until very smooth, 30 seconds to a minute.

Return to sauté pan (or a soup pot if pan is too shallow for milk addition); add enough milk so that mixture is thin enough to be soup, yet thick enough to float optional garnish. Heat through, ladle into small bowls, garnish, and serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe Reviews - The Bitten Word

This weekend Mike introduced me to a new food blog - The Bitten Word. They are two cute guys who review recipes from various food magazines. They started the blog two years ago as a way to keep track of their New year's resolution to make use of their food magazines.

I like that they don't always rave over every recipe they make. Could the Old Bay Sweet Potatoes match their favorite Fajita Sweet Potatoes? "Eh, not really." At least they're honest! To have a fighting chance, I always look for the reviews on recipes before I try them. I'll have to keep an eye on these guys for some variety in recipe sources!


I got an annual physical today (since I'm old now!). The doctor was asking my vaccination history. And, quite honestly, I couldn't remember most of them. I know I got the shots you're supposed to get when you live in a warehouse full of people (AKA The Dorms). But, with the other ones, I was at a loss. She suggested a tetanus booster. Now I have a sore shoulder, a headache, and a low-grade fever to show for it. If I feel this way after one measly shot, I can imagine how Shelby feels after one of her check-ups!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


On Friday, after we had enjoyed our chili, and Scott told me,

"I have to pick up your birthday surprise. I'll be back in an hour or so." After he left, I was racking my brain trying to think what it might be. I quickly gave up. Scott got home and didn't have to say anything. Behind him brother, his partner, and Scott's brother!!!! Scott arranged to have them come down for the weekend for my birthday!! What an awesome surprise! I hadn't suspected a thing (I was a little suspicious that Scott had cleaned the house before I got home, but I chalked it up to him being nice for my birthday). They were starving. so, it's a good thing we had so much chili left over!

We had a great time over the weekend. Shelby's school had "Date Night" on Saturday (babysitting service offered by the school every month or so). So, we dropped her off, and the adults went to Bistro Aix for dinner. They had an amazing Valentine's Day menu. I had short ribs over creamy polenta. Scott and Jamie had the ribeye. Mike: the tuna. Nacho: the grilled fish. All of us had great cocktails! I don't think anyone was disappointed!

On Sunday, it was sunny and warm. We had coffee at Shelby's Coffee Shoppe, and walked on the beach. It was great!

All in all, it was a great birthday weekend!

Chili Surprise

I had wanted to make chili in the slow cooker for tonight. But, I had to be at work at 4am that day, so I didn't get all the ingredients together. Oops. When I got home from work, I was still determined to have the chili. So, we had some great stove-top chili!

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 packet McCormick chili seasoning (cheater, cheater pumpkin eater!)
2 T. tomato paste
2 c marinara sauce

Saute the onion and pepper in large skillet. Cook until translucent and tender. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in all other ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

And, then there was the surprise....

Week 5 Menu

Sunday: Pumpkin Pancakes
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie (made ahead)
Tuesday: Quesadillas
Wednesday: Leftovers for Dad & Shelby; mom is out of town!
Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup Extravaganza (from This Week for Dinner!)
Friday: Whole, roasted chicken
Saturday: Out with friends

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feels Like Home

Well, today was the day. I turned 30 today. My boss brought a cake and sent out an email to ALL salaried people:

Guess who's turning 30?!

I read it and Vera giggled when she hear me say, "Oh, you're going to pay for that one!" I got a deluge of notes from well-wishers and sarcasmos. Who am I kidding? They all had a smart comment to make. I tried out saying it was the Second Anniversary of my 29th birthday. But, that was dismissed immediately . I always had the day off school on my birthday while growing up. So, while I had to work today, it felt like home because flurries were in the forecast.

I don't think you heard me:
Snow was in the forecast for Jacksonville, Florida.

Now that feels like home!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Haven't Lived Here Long Enough

I was at a stop light behind a rusty pick-up truck, and saw this bumper sticker:

Got R Did Therefore
I pay child support.

What? I don't understand. I spent two days thinking about it, but couldn't come up with anything good. I guess I just don't speak Redneck fluently. According to the Urban Dictionary, this is a past tense conjugation of "Git R Done." Clever folks down here, y'all.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shuttle Launch

Scott and I dragged our bodies out of bed to watch the last shuttle to be launched in the dark. The sky was crystal clear - perfect. We were looking in the general direction at the appointed time when we saw a huge orange glow from behind some trees (like there was a bonfire a few houses over). Sure enough, the shuttle rocketed above the trees a few seconds later shooting orange fire behind it. It looked like a meteor from the movies.

We saw the glow get brighter as the after-burners turned on. Then, we saw the boosters separate from the shuttle. They seemed to be suspended in space for a long time. We followed the shuttle as it headed east . It went from bright orange to looking just like a star.

It was awesome.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recipe Manager?

I am looking for a good recipe manager program. I frequent many websites and blogs trying to find my next meal. I have 'recipe boxes' and starred posts on the Google Reader. But, I have no coherent method for compiling them into one neat little package (I know...shocking that I would want such a thing. Give me a break: I'm an engineer!). I have a little recipe box with 3x5s on my counter. So, if worse comes to worse...

I don't want a 1000 recipes to come with it or other features I'll never use. Just a way to copy a recipe into the program, and can search on key ingredients (because who can every remember the name of any recipe?). Any ideas out there?

Week 4 Menu

Sunday: Burgers on the grill
Monday: ABLTs (BLTs with Avocado)
Tuesday: French Dip (Pioneer Woman she calls it "Drip Beef")
Wednesday: Meatloaf (made ahead)
Thursday: Quesadillas
Friday: Slow-cooker chili with homemade croutons
Saturday: Out for my 30th birthday!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Grown-up Brown Bag

Brown bag lunches are great: cheaper, healthier. For a foodie, the thought of PB&J and limp carrots everyday in a communal fridge is horrifying!

Uncle Mike (Scott's brother) is teaching in Chicago now. And, he's cooking for himself. Fast food for lunch everyday was starting to bore him. He found these great ideas for lunch. What great ideas! I have a hard time conjuring up flavor combinations. So, I always welcome more ideas for keeping the lunches/dinners fresh. This site really goes out on a limb with some of its ideas (I don't know if I can be that brave!).

When you read the descriptions, the dish sounds like an item on a shi shi bistro's menu! But, I've been indoctrinated by my Food Network mentors, that preparing ahead of time is crucial to a successful (fast!) meal. One chef said,

"If it's 4pm, and you're just now thinking what you're going to have for dinner, then you're behind the game." Shopping ahead, keeping staples on hand, having a collection of familiar recipes on hand, chopping the vegetables and measuring out ingredients the night before really helps make it all happen!

Some ideas that piqued my interest...

Fennel cubes, grapefruit and orange sections, and fresh mint leaves

Smoked Turkey With Avocado and Carrot: 2 teaspoons wasabi mayo, topped with smoked turkey, a third of a ripe avocado (thinly sliced), and 2 tablespoons shredded carrots

Black-Olive Paste With Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella: black-olive paste on rustic bread, topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil

Sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes, diced peppers, feta cheese, and fresh mint leaves

Tuna, fennel cubes, and orange sections

For a lower-carb version, use romaine lettuce instead of bread. P.F. Chang's may have perfected the lettuce wrap, but it's easy to copy.

Avocado and Roast Beef With Cheddar: horseradish mayo, sliced avocado, roast beef, cheddar cheese, and a few watercress leaves

Salami, Provolone, and Roasted Peppers: Dijon mustard or drizzle of olive oil, topped with salami, provolone, roasted peppers, and a handful of mesclun leaves

Apple Butter and Cheddar Cheese With Fennel: thick layer apple butter topped with cheddar, fennel slices, and spinach or romaine leaves

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random Fun.

You know how when you're reading a news story on CNN, there are a bunch of other stories down at the bottom? I found this fun news story today. It serves no other purpose than to be able to sit and be amazed at humanity for a moment. Then, want to bathe in rubbing alcohol because humanity can be dirty sometimes! The best part is that it's not even "news," per se! It's just some entertainment to keep your spirits up between reading about tragedy in Haiti and global warming.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Post Modern Procrastination

I left work tonight really feeling like I accomplished something at work. I checked a bunch of items off my list. I creatd some new procedures for reconciling full-goods inventories. And, yes, "super-nerd" is, in fact, hyphenated.

And then I came home, and Scott pointed me to a new blog he's reading. Upon scanning the blog, I came across this post about procrastination.

Laziness in a white collar job has nothing to do with avoiding hard physical labor. “Who wants to help me move this box!” Instead, it has to do with avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor.

"Honey, how was your day?"

"Oh, I was busy, incredibly busy."

"I get that you were busy. But did you do anything important?"

Busy does not equal important. Measured doesn't mean mattered.

While it was funny, it kinda deflated my proud-of-myself bubble! Then I remembered an older supervisor who trained me when I first started in Merrimack. He said,

"Walk really fast and write on a clipboard while you walk. Everyone will think you're really busy." And, that just cracked me up! The sad part is that it works.

At work this week, an Instant Messaging service was installed on our computers under the guise that it would "improve productivity." I have found it quite useful for finding out what time my friends will be in the cafeteria or asking what time the post office across the street opens. But, I do love the fact that I can desk stalk people. If they're not answering their phone, but their availability shows they are at their desk, I go on a stalking mission! Bwahaha!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


This headlines the "What the What?!" category. Scott saw this ad at the pediatrician's office. How bizarre.

How can a Birth Tub be "gently used?!?" (the seller says it's only been used for one clearly). There is nothing "gentle" about childbirth! Who are they kidding? She also says it can comfortably fit 2 people. I would be more interested in the cleaning solvents applied after the "gentle use." Everything about this is odd.

CrockPot Pork Chops

I'm in week 3 of CrockPot-goodness. So, I'd like to think I have some sort of idea how this works (yes, I understand it's a pot that gets warm...I'm not that ridiculous!). This was a good variety of flavors in the dish. A nice meal for a Florida winter's night!

2 Loin pork chops (seasoned with salt and pepper)
1 Apple, cut into eighths
1/2 Onion, chopped
1/2c Craisins (raisins work, too)
1/2c Water

Combine ingredients in CrockPot and cook on low for 8 hours. If you'd like a heartier meal, you can add potato wedges and substitute stock for the water.