Sunday, September 7, 2014

Recipe Links

We're getting Gazelle intense to pay off our new debt :(.  We hate debt.  We have three things to pay off.  A TSP loan we used for our down payment, a family loan we used for our down payment and our mortgage.  Ballparking 6 years to pay off if we stay in CA the whole time. I've written it down, so it must be true!  :)

We get takeout A LOT, so needless to say, we've wasted tons of money on food.  This week, we didn't get takeout at all.  It helped that I was sick and home all day, but I also meal planned, grocery shopped (spend $105 for the week) and made some good meals.  All my devices were dead, so I have no pictures, but here are the links.

They are both slow cooker recipes.  It's been super hot here, so that was the only option, other than grilling, which we did one night.  I'll include that recipe too :)

First up was Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki.  I used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts and it was super yummy!  Definitely a keeper.

Next is Fried Rice.  Neil and I both agreed that this was actually really good, although the picture didn't look good.  One blog post mentioned the fact that the picture wasn't good, but still everyone who makes it loves it.  It uses leftover rice, so next time I'll make a double batch of rice earlier in the week for the Chicken Teriyaki and then keep 2 cups of leftover rice in the fridge for this recipe. This recipe called for chicken, but we had frozen shrimp we used instead and just put them in at the end.  It called for 4 T of butter, I might try 3 T next time and go from there.

The last recipe was Grilled Salmon I.  Just a good staple recipe.

Let me know if you make any of these.  What did you think?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Current Kitchen Loves

As we've pared down our kitchen, we've started to notice what's truly working for us and what isn't.  Simple things like Neil likes to drink out of pint sized mason jars and I like to use cups that stack so they don't take up much space.  To have a matching set of vintage (but familiar) Corelle dishes that don't weigh as much as our last Goodwill find. Both of us don't miss those at all. Without further ado, here are our current loves:

Butterfly Gold Corelle dishes.
I wasn't sold on this pattern, but I found exactly what I was looking for (4 each of dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, cups and saucers) on etsy AND then I found out it was LOCAL!  I was able to save $20 on shipping and once I saw them in person I couldn't be more happy with the design.  It doesn't scream feminine and the gold/brown color matches well with our beige and blue/green theme going on in the kitchen.  They also look really nice on our dark wood table. Neil particularly likes the cups and saucers, because they fit under is espresso machine and it has a nice handle.

Le Creuset Braiser in Marsaille
I love the color and I love making food in this! I feel so gourmet when I use it. :)

Ninja food processor/blender
I had a 30% off coupon at Kohl's and was able to get this for about $45.  With three different sized containers, it can easily be used as a mini food processor, or 2 blenders. The motor sits on top of the containers and is interchangeable.  Consumer Reports rates just as a high as a Vitamix!  After making sure it worked the way we needed it too, we've donated both our very old blender (free cycle) and our mini food processor (wedding gift). Neil uses it almost daily to make protein shakes, and I've made a smoothie or two, make hummus and chopped onions.  Very handy!

All Clad 6 Qt. Pasta Pot  
We have a 12 Qt. Pasta Pot that we never use because it takes SO long to heat up the water, but I really liked the quality.  The 12 Qt. has been relegated to the canning process and I use it for jelly making. I got a discount 6 Qt. Teflon pot from TJ Maxx, which was working well, but it was an ugly red and black.  Recently, I started noticing the Teflon was starting to wear, so on the lookout I went for a new pot to save up for.  The 6 Qt. was $99 on Amazon and then just yesterday our local small business kitchen store was having a 20% off the entire store.  While Neil took Arya to the beach, I headed over there, thinking it was probably too good to be true that they would have it as the same price as Amazon.  I walked in, saw the All Clad display and there was a 7 Qt. for $400!!  Just a WAY bit our of my price range.  I walked aimlessly around the store, a little disappointed and then a clerk asked me if I needed help.  I said was looking at 6 or 7 qt. pasta pots, but it was more than I wanted to spend, pointing to the $400 one.  She then pointed me to a display and there it sat!  The amazon one that was $99.  Guess what, it was $99 there too!  and it was 20% off, so I got it!  I used my Christmas gift card, so I ended up spending $16 cash on it.  It's awesome!!

USA Pan, small Jelly Roll pan, silicone covered
We make a lot of chicken nuggets, bacon and garlic bread.  Every time we use our big cookie sheets and every time we add a layer of foil to make clean up easier.  We'd save the foil for the next time, since we used the oven nearly every day, if not multiple times a day, but the cookie sheet is really too big for what we need and the grease from the bacon always got on the sheet, so we had to wash it anyways.  In comes this new pan.  It's about half the size as the cookie sheet and it has a silicone covering on it.  It's hard to explain, it makes the pan a little slippery, for instance the frozen chicken nuggets just slide around the pan.  Well basically, its nonstick and we've used it now for a couple of days and it's still clean, everything just wipes off!  We haven't even had to use water.  It is SUPER handy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Kind of Dessert!

During nap time today Neil and I made some chocolate mousse!  I was rather confused on how to make it because some recipes called for egg whites and some called for egg yolks.  Some called for semisweet, some for bittersweet. Being a dark chocolate fan, I decided to go with bittersweet and I went with egg yolks because it required less eggs.  The result was amazing!  I knew it would be.  I've always liked chocolate mousse at restaurants, but I've never tried it at home.  A newbie no more, I'm hooked.  The only issue is that I had to dirty 3 bowls to do it and once the chocolate, egg and whipped cream harden, it's hard to clean them up!  So word to the wise, clean out the bowls right away, you'll thank me later.

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
adapted from Taste of Home

8 oz. 60% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used and recommend Ghiradelli)
1/2 c. water, divided
2 T butter
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
2 T. sugar

In a microwave, melt the chocolate, butter and 1/4 cup of water.  It should take about a minute.  Stir until combined and without lumps.  Cool for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat on medium heat and stir the egg yolks, remaining water and 2 T sugar until 160 degrees or until it's thick enough to coat the back of the metal spoon.  (Mine got pretty foamy, so I couldn't tell if it was getting thick.  Then I saw curdles, so I lowered the heat and whisked rigorously until it was all better, have a whisk close!)  Remove from heat and add the chocolate mixture.  Stir until smooth.

In an ice water bath, place the saucepan and stir and cool for 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream until soft peak form.

Once the chocolate mixture is cooled, fold in the whipping cream.  Distribute into 6-8 small dessert dishes.  (I used 4 8 oz. jelly jars).  Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Ooh,  Mother's Day was great today!  We woke early, had breakfast and then headed out to the Hillcrest Farmer's Market.  It's by far the biggest one we've ever gone too and it's always a fun time.  This time, I got to splurge a little bit and I got 4 truffles and strawberry basil lemonade.  Usually, the lemonades are super tart and sugary, so I wasn't expecting it to be too refreshing, but oh my, it was delish!

I decided I'd try my hand at making my own.  I adapted a recipe from Food52 and I love it!!  I made single serving, then a small pitcher full and lastly, a concentrated version to freeze and add water later.

1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup boiling water
3 cups quartered strawberries (about 16 oz.)
20 medium basil leaves, chopped
1 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 6-8 lemons

Juice the lemons until you get 1 1/2 cups, set aside.
Put the sugar in a heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the sugar and stir until combined, let cool.
Put 3 cups quartered strawberries into a blender/food processor, add the chopped basil and 1/4 cup of the sugar water.  Blend until really smooth.

To make:
Combine equal parts strawberry puree, lemon juice and sugar water (1 1/2 cups each). This makes a concentrate. To this add 3.5-4 cups cold water.  Serve with ice.

If make a single serving, put ice in a cup, add 3 T. each of strawberry puree, lemon juice and sugar water, add 1/2 cup cold water.

In the food52 recipe, they used 3:3:1or2 ratio.  I thought it needed more sugar, so I upped it.

UPDATE: After sitting in the fridge overnight, it tasted much more sugary than after I just made it.  I may try the actual food52 recipe next time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spice Storage!

We had to do some rearranging in our kitchen cabinets to accommodate our new OXO brand airtight containers.  I was never really happy with our spice storage, which was in the upper cabinet on the lowest shelf next to the stove.  We couldn't see what was behind anything and we had several multiples because of that.  

I had read somewhere that keeping them in the freezer kept them longer. We don't put much in the door of the freezer, so we moved what little there was and moved all the spices over.  It freed up a bunch of space in prime real estate and made better use of the freezer door space.  It still is hard to see what's in there, but now it's only two deep and I just need to label them on the lids.  I was also thinking, I would just put them in order alphabetically, then I would be more apt to know where they would be.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Project Life Dilemma! HELP!

I've spent the last few days looking at Project Life scrapbooking. Mostly from a new blog called As a fan of Shutterfly and their ease of creating albums, I've definitely shied away from scrapbooking because of the inherent messiness and cost.  BUT, it would be fun to tangibly create something every week and to document/journal our lives a bit. AND, if I buy the cheapest set (which you use for the whole year), it would come out to $100.  Over 12 months, that's less than $10 a month.  And, it doesn't seem like it would be too messy. It's a conundrum.  I don't really need it, but it would be fun!

Opinions please!

Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 Easter Basket

I tried to make a pixlr board, but I could load any of the pictures, so instead I'll just list what we are going to give Arya for Easter this year. :)

I've had a basket like this for a few years, and I used it for Arya's Easter basket last year, so we're keeping with the tradition.

Next up, is a tiny little gnome.  It's about 3 inches tall.

Here's my favorite!  A jellycat bunny. They are so soft and machine washable.  She already has a white cat, so hopefully she'll like it.

Easter eggs with yogurt covered raisins probably.

 Not shown, a bunny book!