Sunday, May 30, 2010

Week 20 Menu

Sunday: Whole, roasted chicken on the grill, Grilled Potatoes Slices (from Bitten Word)
Monday: Steak, roasted broccoli, cornbread
Tuesday: Panzanella
Wednesday: Leftovers (Dad is out of town)
Thursday: Gobi Matar Sabzi (from Jane!)
Friday: Shaved Asparagus Pizza (from Smitten Kitchen)....we are obsessed with homemade pizzas now!
Saturday: Out

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wildlife

Since we moved to the new house, I try to take advantage of the awesome porch and serene lake view when I'm reading my blogs and doing computer work. It's just so peaceful!

But, the mini-forest and lake come at a price: critters. This place is crawling (pun INtended) with them! Here is a compendium of those animals:
- A family of Canadian Geese that roam the neighborhood; evidence of them is splattered all over the porch on a daily basis....not sure what these guys are eating, but it's gross!
- Big-sounding things that splash in the lake...could be Nessie for all I know
- Giant lizard; when I say giant, we're only talking 4".....but they're definitely more substantial than the ones at the old house; last night I saw one jump from the ground to a perch 6" off the ground. It was impressive
- Squirrels....these squirrels have a thin, scraggly tail; they seem to keep to the trees unlike the U of I Quad Squirrels (I still have night terrors about those aggressive rodents)
- Some sort of mouse/rat animal. I'm not sure of the technical difference between the two, but it was on the deck last weekend sniffing around the grill. And, said Mystery Rodent is sitting on a branch staring at me as we speak.
- Mosquitoes. They're probably good in some sort of "circle of life" way, but I hate them. We are looking for mosquito repellent ideas. Now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

I grew up with a Grandma who made stuffed peppers, and I also grew up not liking stuffed peppers. Don't know what it was, but I've always had an irrational dislike of them. I tried making them once, but they weren't a hit. I decided to give them another try after I saw this recipe posted on one of my favorite food blogs: This Week for Dinner. It's worth trying when readers reply with comments like: "Everyone raved about them and I kept hearing 'just one more.'"

Rochelle and I made them for dinner on Sunday night. We were commenting on the healthy dinner we were preparing, and she said, "It's vegetables stuffed with vegetables. It's got to be healthy?!" When I tried making the peppers before, I used rice, but they were so bland! This time, I used corn and mushrooms, instead. And, I seasoned the ground beef well with garlic, basil, chili powder, and cumin (insert your favorite seasonings here). They were fantastic!! The corn and mushrooms made the dish a bit heartier and a smoky flavor. The red peppers were sweet, but still a little crispy. This is another great dish for "clean out the crisper drawer." I'm thinking to add some zucchini and carrots and celery next time for a little more veggie-ness.

Scott actually said, "Please make this again!" I'm even thinking this might be a good candidate for a freeze-ahead meal....



Stuffed Peppers
From This Week for Dinner

- 6-7 bell peppers of various colors, 1 3/4 to 2 pounds....red is the sweetest, in my opinion
- 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground beef (optional)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cobs corn, kernels cut off corn
- 8oz mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 8-oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds and ribs. If your peppers don’t want to stand up nicely, cut off part of the bottom as well to level the base of the pepper. Try not to cut through to the inside, but if you do it’s not the end of the world. Brush outside of peppers with olive oil.

In a medium frying pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, corn, and cook 2-4 minutes, or until softened. Crumble ground beef into pan and cook, stirring to break up lumps, until it begins to lose its pinkness, 5-7 minutes. Drain the fat (use a slotted spoon or pat with papertowels).

Slightly beat egg in a large-ish mixing bowl. Add parsley, cheese, salt, pepper and beef/veggie mixture. Mix well.

Stuff the bell peppers with filling, mounding top slightly. Place peppers in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Mix tomatoes with water and pour into dish around peppers. Bake 45 minutes.

Kitchen Tip: Another reader commented that using a Bundt pan helps the little guy stand up while cooking. I used a high-walled casserole dish, and they stood up just fine.
Serve with tomatoes as a sauce and sprinkle with parmesan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who's That Baby?

Shelby is obsessed with babies...videos, in vivo, or pictures. When she sees one, she stops, points, and says, "BB. BB. BB."

To keep her occupied through a grocery shopping trip, I showed her baby videos in the iPod Touch of her that we took when she was 8 weeks old. She stared at the 35-second video and demanded more when the video was done. Now, when she sees the iPod, she wants the "BB."

Scott was getting his hair cut after work, and I was cooking dinner and watching Shelby. She wanted the BB. After replaying the same video 48 times in a row, I got a little smarter. Shelby got a little smarter, too. When the video ended, she figured out how to play a new one!

This self-entertainment went on for a good 15 minutes! I realize this may make me a bad parent using the iPod to babysit, but it was SO funny!! She was so happy watching the BB, drinking milk, eating snacks, and laughing!!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week 19 Menu

Sunday: We're having dinner with friends; meatballs for the kids; stuffed peppers and baba ghanoush (yum!) for the parents! Rochelle is bringing the dessert (she's a much better baker than I)
Monday: Leftover meatballs and marinara
Tuesday: Individual Zucchini, Pepper, & Fontina Fritatta from Goodlife Eats
Wednesday: Pesto Chicken and Sweet Potatoes in the slow cooker from A year of Slow Cooking
Thursday: Chicken and veggies on the grill!
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Homemade Pizza

We love pizza. We've had it twice in a week before without blinking an eye. A DiGiorno has been our go-to-we-don't-feel-like-cooking meal. Pioneer Woman had a recipe for California Pizza Kitchen BBQ chicken pizza with homemade dough. We cooked. We ate. We loved!

If I had known the dough recipe was so easy, I would have been making this on my own years ago! the only problem was that the bottom of the pizza was never crispy enough for my liking - always a little mushy.

Scott sent me this article from the NYT on homemade pizzas. Foodies everywhere are sounding off on the best way to make a pizza at home. I didn't put two and two together to realize that high heat is the best thing for a pizza. Using the cleaning cycle to prepare food is definitely a creative use of the stove (and not necessarily one I'd jump to use!)! This week I put the sheet pan on the very lowest rack in the oven (almost touching the heating element), and cooked the thing on 475 for 18 mins. It was perfect! The crust was crunchy and the cheese was bubbly and almost charred (like at the pizzeria).

I have the other half of the dough recipe in my freezer just waiting for the next chance to make some!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cranberry Pork Roast

I came across a blog of a woman who made an ambitious New Year's resolution to use her slow cooker everyday for an entire year: A Year of Slow Cooking. Since we have an unnatural relationship with cranberries and a pork loin in the freezer, I thought this would be a good one to try.

I made my homemade cranberry sauce the night before (because canned cranberry sauce is just sacrilege). I also added one cup of mushrooms to the pot. The pork loin was amazingly tender, and the cranberry/onion, sweet/savory combination was fantastic! The blog-stress is completely right: you can experiment with the cut of meat. You can dress this dish up with some crusty bread or a green salad, and it's good enough for company!

Cranberry Pork Roast
from A Year of Slow Cooking

2-3 pounds beef or pork roast or stew chunks [Bonnie note: I used a pork loin]
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 c mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
16 oz can of cranberry sauce (or 2 cups homemade!)*

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Plop in the meat, and add the onion and soy sauce. Pour in the entire can of cranberry sauce over the top. Do not add water.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 5-6. If you are cooking on high, you may need to "help" the meat break apart by taking it out an hour or so before serving by cutting it into chunks, then returning to the sauce.

Serve with slotted spoon.

* I buy a metric ton of fresh cranberries during the holidays, and freeze them to use throughout the year....otherwise good luck finding fresh cranberries in May!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Snarky Jacksonville

I think the misuse of quotation marks is hilarious! And, now there's a commentary on the mangling of punctuation in Jacksonville!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Helper

Shelby has tried to be such a big helper since we've moved. She's trying to use the broom (push and dust). Plus, she thinks she wants to help with the vacuum. She has a love-fear relationship with the vacuum. When it starts up, she gets spooked and wants to be picked up. She works up her courage and will play around it giggling and screaming. Then, when the vacuum turns off, she wants more (even using her sign language)!


video

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 18 Menu

Sunday: Thai ribs (I swear I will make them this week....they keep getting preempted for another dish)
Monday: Balsamic chicken salad
Tuesday: Pumpkin pancakes
Wednesday: Cranberry Pork Loin in the slow cooker
Thursday: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Housewarming party at friends' house (who moved in 8 blocks from our new house!!!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Beach.

It was a gorgeous day today. So, the Lawrences packed up and went to the beach! We've always accessed the beach from Neptune Beach. Since we are now officially Jax Beach residents, we went to our "home beach." Less than 10 minutes after leaving our home, our bare feet were being lapped at by the waves! Awesome!!!

It was low tide when we got there. The tide pools were perfect for Shelby to play in! She ran down to the waves and laughed when the water came up over her legs. We had such a great time!


video

Moving....OMG!

My blog posting from the past couple weeks have been limited to menu posts....trying to keep some semblance of our life in tact! On April 30th, we became the proud owners of a home in Jacksonville Beach! Over the following week, we moved boxes by the 4Runner-ful to the new house.

The professional movers came on Thursday/Friday to move all the big furniture and remaining boxes. My mom came down to help us. Between unpacking the new house, scrubbing the old house, and entertaining a one-year old, I don't think we could have done it without her!! We had enough of the downstairs unpacked to have our friends Jenny and Dan over for dinner Sunday night!

Now, the past week, we have been living pretty normally at our new house. Everyday we get a little more of our house put in place. It's a little frustrating not having our house completely in order. But, I think we've done pretty well considering we still have work and life to worry about in between moving activities!

Shelby has adjusted to the new house famously! She knows exactly where all her things are. I know I will jinx it, but she's even sleeping well in her new room (even though her pictures aren't hung yet...). I was worried we would run into a rough patch. But, she's really been such a big girl!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Week 17 Menu

Whew! Moved into the new house! I have my kitchen unpacked and I'm ready to get cooking again!

Sunday: Grilled chicken, oven-fried potatoes, and balsamic tomatoes/cucumbers
Monday: California grilled cheese (AKA grilled cheese + avocado)
Tuesday: Salsa chicken/corn/veggies
Wednesday: Thai-style Ribs
Thursday: Veggie Burgers
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 16 Menu

Sunday: Pork and veggie kebobs
Monday: Fried egg sandwiches
Tuesday: Homemade Ravioli
Wednesday: Burgers and veggies
Thursday: Not quite sure....something that requires no kitchen utensils....our stuff will all be packed in boxes at this point!
Friday: Probably out...the movers are moving our furniture to the new house!
Saturday: Grilling at the new house???

Man, what a pathetic menu this week! I can't wait to unpack in my new kitchen and make some real food!