Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Newest Biggest Problem

Actually, the *problem* isn't new,
it's just that it's bothering me *now*.
What is one to do with one of these?
It's not like it's something new. 
It's been there the whole time we've lived here.
It's just that every now and then I walk under it and think, 
Is this really acceptable?

Now if that attic access was on a wall I would hang a painting over it.
Heck, I'd paint a painting ON it. 

But it's up there on the ceiling, and while I am fond 
of my house, the Sistine Chapel it is not.
So, I am left to ponder.....

What does the rest of the world do with these?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I love that these are the souveniers I received post spring break!
Two different people. 
There is a sugar sampler of raspberry, espresso 
and sweet onion sugars.
A variety of salts; pinot noir, black truffle and olive.
A tube of vanilla beans and two colorful rices.
In amongst that fun is
PURPLE rice.
It photographs kind of black but trust me, 
it is purple!
It tastes like wild rice. 

That's a salmon stir fry on top.
It's really easy. I just throw in whatever vegetables I have around. 
I like to toss in some "angel hair" shredded cabbage at the end.

I'm excited to come up with ways to use all these goodies.
I'm pretty sure the salts will be "finishing" salts so as
to get the most from their specific flavors. 
The sugars will be a bit more of a challenge.

And I am happy to report the closest Shanna came to becoming 
a drug mule was "smuggling" a tube of vanilla beans
home from Mexico. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chipotle Brisket with Sweet Potatoes

I love making things I haven't made before. 
It's funny, when I go to a favorite restaurant  I 
will frequently order the same thing.
But when it comes to cooking I really enjoy experimenting. 
So here you have today's adventure:
This came from my friends at Relish.
Try to ignore the ads, I am not a fan but I guess
everybody needs to pay their bills.

This was really good. I have a couple of comments.

The only time I have prepared a brisket was one that was corned.
As in Corned Beef.
I was tempted to grab a chuck roast, they were quite a bit cheaper,
but hey, you have to spread your wings.
I'm glad I did. The brisket was really 
tender but not all shreddy and fally aparty (technical terms)
like a chuck roast would be. 
It also had great flavor but different from chuck. 
My other point of interest was the 
Chipotles in Adobo sauce.
The instructions call for you to "seed" the chilis.
Good luck. 
I gave up and just tossed the whole mess in. 
Well, it was a bit on the *hot* side and 
I did need a glass of milk at my side. 
But, the smoky flavor they imparted was amazing.

Bottom line, I will make this again, but somebody.
Give me a clue about "seeding" chipotles in adobo sauce!

How Did YOU Celebrate Easter?

You get two guesses what WE did!

Yep, Chinese, yes we did.

But it makes perfect sense. 
Here's my story (cause there's always a story):

We decided to be good parents and not make Michael and Michelle
eat two Easter dinners this year.
We thought we would give Mike's parents a call and
just do a very low key thing.
Turns out Mikes parent's had in mind 
visiting Omi at the nursing home.
That's a great idea! We'll go with!
 About a week before Easter Michael asks what our plans are.
I am all proud at what a wonderful in-law I am becoming,
and tell him, we set you free for the day!
Go forth and enjoy Michelle's family!
Except Michelle's family is doing a breakfast sort of thing
and Michael and Michelle are watching kids at their 
church and so can't make it.

Ummm, you wanna visit Omi?
Turns out, yes! Yes, they would!
Michelle has not met Omi yet so this would be nice. 
And now maybe there needs to be some food involved
but we are all going to be at the nursing home. 
Who will cook?
 I don't like going out to eat on Easter anymore.
I have developed a guilty conscience when I make
other people work on Easter.
(But, believe me, I don't judge, please, go out for
 Easter dinner. It's good for the economy)

So, what country has the least amount of Christians in it?
Short of a Jewish deli, I'm thinking my safest bet is Chinese!

So that's what we did. 
We ordered in Chinese.

And now as I peruse all my cooking sites and blogs
and all the wonderful ideas they are giving out for 
what to do with all those leftovers....
I am enjoying the aroma of my egg rolls reheating in the oven.

Happy Easter!
He has risen indeed!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Food Photography

Done right.
I twisted Ken's arm and got him to pull out the big guns.
His camera, I mean.

I am not inclined to invest the kind of money it takes
to get a camera that will do this.
Nor am I inclined to invest the amount of time it would take to develop
the talent it would take.
But I am smart enough to recognize when I have access to the 
equipment and talent to make these kind of shots happen.
And just ballsy enough to to make a list of requested shots. 
:o) Thanks, Ken :0)

Pink And Black Party Recap

How much fun did I have?

 A little bit of ribbon and double stick tape goes a long way.
 Black beans in the vases looked really cool against the pink flowers.
However, I left the clean up to Lory and I'm not sure what 
kind of mess those beans soaking in water all night 
created. Oops. 
Seems I got pics of everything except those cool water bottles.
Good thing I posted those already.

I got my inspiration for the table from Glorious Treats.
That's also where I got the how-to for the water bottles.
If you want to have some fun and get some great ideas, stop by her blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Of My New Favorite Things To Do

Custom bottled water labels.
I found this idea while roaming around the internet.
I used the idea first in the Easter baskets.
I cut pieces of springy wrapping paper just slightly
narrower than clear packing tape and 8 1/2 inches long.
I printed the kids names on card stock and then cut them 
out with a 1 1/2 inch circle punch.
Here I printed the little giraffe and stamped the fleur-de-lis.

A little double stick tape to hold the circles in place and then
a strip of packing tape laid over top, 
 wrapped around the bottle, and
Custom labels!

I've been using Target's brand, Archer Farms, water because
the bottles are pretty smooth and the labels are clear
so I just put mine right over without having to 
try to peel theirs off. 

These are for the infamous shower next month and a 
friends 60th birthday party this weekend. I think they will 
be a cute addition to the tables. 

And besides, it's how I have my fun :o)

No Guts No Glory

I spent Saturday held captive by Easter baskets.
And in an effort to make the most of my time waiting for
 moms to come by and pick up their baskets,
 I did a little experimenting in the kitchen.

Michael and Michelle were coming for dinner. 
I was making bratwurst stew and I thought 
Pioneer Woman's Cheese Muffins
would be a good accompaniment.
 But how fun would it be to add beer instead of milk?
I even had a few to choose from.
I consulted with my chef in my pocket 
(like how I have taken possession of Chef Brian?) 
and my FB friend and overachieving home cook, Maggie.
If you want to be impressed, go "like" her page. 
We all decided cutting back on the baking powder a bit and 
leaving some of the milk in for the fat would be a good start.
Yeah, well, it was a start.
Maybe they could have used all the baking powder?
I would pursue this but honestly, the beer didn't impart that much
flavor. The cheese is the Diva in this recipe and there ain't
no getting around a Diva. 
There's the original recipe for you.

But here's the glory:
My egg, avocado, wasabi salad in endive leaves.
Duh, Winning!
Sorry, had to. 
These little beauties will be making it to the baby shower next month.
And the good news is, the expectant mother can eat these!
Unlike the apple, brie, smoked salmon tea sandwiches.
....who knew????

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Things That Make You Go, Hmmmm...

In case you don't know this about me,
I like to decorate.
A lot.
Any season.
Any reason.
Easter 2006.
Just to make it clear, I have lots 'o Easter accoutrements.
 Easter 2010
Not sure what's up with that!

But, plastic Jewel bags do scream EASTER!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Remarkable Faith - Prayer

Prayer is an amazing thing.
Sometimes I struggle with *what* to pray for.
God always has a bigger, better idea of how things should go
and I quite often am taken by surprise.
There have been too many times when the outcome
of what looked like disaster turned out to be awesome.

I pray for my marriage but would it be the gift it is to 
the two of us and the example to our children if we 
hadn't gone through those two gut retching years apart?

I lived through four Romans 8:26 years with my best friend.
I prayed that every tear I shed would be one 
less that she would have to.
Her son is a testimony to God that none of us
could have even thought to pray for.

I pray for my children's safety, but is safety what I really want for them?
What I want for them is amazing and amazing
 is very seldom achieved through safety.

I do struggle with what to pray for but I am 
comforted knowing that God hears me, understands me, 
and is gracious enough to reveal Himself to me. 


The Baskets Are Done!

And this is what my dining room looks like:
68 baskets, folks!
And I could never have done it on my own.
Girlfriends and wine.
You can conquer the world!

I really agonized over what to put in the older kid's baskets,
but in the end I think they turned out great.
And the little guys were a cinch.
I love this project.
My kids are grown.
It's so much fun to get to adopt all these kids for a little while.
I have a good time and I am able to take one thing
off an already over worked single mom's
to-do list.

Next year I think I'll get bunny ears for 
the basket building bunch!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cooking In Other People's Kitchens

This has got to be one of the most challenging things to do.
Surprisingly challenging.
There are kitchen tools that you just take for granted. 
Like these.
I cannot make a traditional vegetable peeler work.
I ran into this problem at church a few weeks ago.
The other tool that is really hard to do without is
your own knife. 
Nobody else's is ever sharp enough.
I guess there is a reason all those Top Chef guys
carry their own knives.

But the up side to other people's kitchens is this:
You never know when you will happen upon
something you didn't know you needed!
This mini food processor was perfect for 
the nut-less pesto I made for Shanna.

At some point I'm going to need an annex to my kitchen....

Fish Tacos

In keeping with my fish theme
I offer this for your consideration:
Fish Tacos.
Let me begin by saying I have had a fish taco
Last week.
Let me also state that I have had no desire to eat a fish taco
until last week.
I have no idea what they are supposed to contain
except fish.

I am not entirely certain the fish taco I had
was a fair representation of what one should be
so I set out to give it a try myself. 

So, flying by the seat of my pants, I brushed some
olive oil on a couple of tilapia filets, sprinkled them with 
homemade taco seasoning mix
and broiled them.
I made a kind of avocado/black bean/corn salad
and put that with the flaked fish and some sour cream 
on top on a flour tortilla.

It was good. 
 I don't think I get the attraction.
Is the point just that it's *fish* and not *meat*?
I'm perplexed. 
But I'll probably make them again :o)

Here's my taco seasoning mix:
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1 Tbsp. Cumin
4 tsp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Paprika
2 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sherried Sardine Toast

I feel compelled to share.
This was my darlings lunch today.
I love him very much. 
That is the only reason I would EVER touch 
these things. 
And, I might add, this was the second
time I have prepared this plate of,
um, words fail me.

This was actually featured on one of Alton's shows.
(I'm on a first name basis with him)
He went into all the reasons why it matters what kind of sardine
to use. I know, right?, there is more than one kind?
Well, there is and the kind you should get is "brisling."
But I don't remember why.
Just trust me for it.

I cut the recipe in half because I only serve one.
I also used a baguette so that each little fishy had it's
own little nest of avocado. 
They do look kind of good in a strange way. 

There you have it. 
Do with it what you will.
My work here is done.

You Say Timbale I Say Timbale

And my point is, 
I don't know the correct pronunciation for this
but I do know it's gooood!
I made this at Shanna's house this past week 
for the first time and knew Honey had to have it.
Check this out:
It's from Food Network Magazine.
It was really pretty easy to make, just a little pots
and pans intensive, if you know what I mean.
Shanna did not have a springform pan and I was not 
inclined to get one for her
 (I'm pretty sure I would be the only person who would ever use it.)
I used an 8 inch square pyrex dish which 
worked just fine but being able to unmold it
really was cool.
My family loves all things starch so this is terrific for us.
That's a lot of sticky rice in there!
I'm not sure if it might be a bit much for the public at large.
It is my understanding that these are also traditionally made
using pasta and I could totally see swapping 
the rice for some broken up bucatini.
I messed with the filling tonight by 
adding some calamata olives.

I wonder if every culture has some variation of this.
I'm thinking Shepherd's Pie.
Hey, Mark, what do think?
He's my food encyclopedia.
And my brother. 

Bet he lets me know how to pronounce it too :o)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things That Freak Me Out

Actually, multiples of the same thing.
Have you ever driven through a "Wind Farm"?
It's kind of freaky.
All these tall ghosty-skeleton-like things.
I had to just hold my camera up and click since I was 
alone and therefor driving. 
These things just go on and on.

Wind energy is way cool. 
I just feel like these things are watching me.

Mike says they each have a single red light at night.
That will not endear them to me at all. 
Note to self, do NOT drive down to Indy at

Friday, April 1, 2011

It Doesn't Have A Name

I don't know what you would call this:
It's a combination of this stuff:
And then  I did this with it:
And it was delicious.

What would you call it?