Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cleaning up my Act

I hate to clean. I'll admit it. There are so many things I would rather do: be outside in the garden, sitting on the deck reading a magazine, shopping, napping, surfing Facebook. It was one of the genes from my Mom that I didn't inherit. Our house was always clean, neat and tidy growing up. It was really small so I guess it had to be so four of us could fit in it, but she would spend weekend with the stereo up loud and an E & J brandy and water in her glass, washing floors, doorframes, dusting, wiping out the hutch with her 'good' dishes. I got her ironing gene-I hate anything that isn't pressed, but I could care a less if there are dishes in the sink or a stack of mail on the counter.....until the sink is heaping full and no one will help or I can't find that bill that needs to be paid. I couldn't take it anymore tonight. I cleaned out cupboards, threw out old food, washed containers, re-arranged shelves and cupboards. And all the dishes are done....until tomorrow. Sigh. Here is a new gadget I bought today while out shopping with Hermit crab, and the fruits of my labor of cleaning:
It is a garlic chopper. I had seen Brian Boitano use one on his Food Network show and thought about how much I like my big chopper so when I found it at Macy's today, I had to pick it up. Let's hope I like it as much as my big one. I was looking for some 1 quart casserole dishes to make individual servings of our favorite stuff so I can put some make ahead meals in the freezer but couldn't find any in the mall, so I'm off to Crate and Barrel online to make a purchase.

This is my cupboard next to the stove. It holds all my spices and my canned goods. Truth be told, I didn't really clean this one up too much, as I had just gone through and donated a bunch to our local food shelf, but then unfortunately, went and bought more stuff to fill it up. I think I need a 12 step program for reckless abandon at the grocery store!

We have a four shelf pull out pantry next to our fridge. I didn't take pics of the baking shelves only because all the stuff is white and in plastic containers, so they looked a little, well, white. In my top shelf I have dressings, peanut butter, tuna, some cooking oils, spare ketchup's and mayo. In the little green bags with the ribbons is something fun I picked up at a county fair and will be making soon to show on here.

This shelf has our soup mixes, noodle mixes, macaroni and cheese, organic gravies, rice and pasta side dishes. I'll be the first to admit I am no gourmet chef-I like the occasional flavored pasta or Betty Crocker loaded baked potato dried potato for a side dish :)

This is our pasta/oatmeal/popcorn cupboard. This one was the worst with partial packages of noodles open and crammed in here. Booger said "Wow! I've never seen that cupboard clean before!" Gee thanks.
Now it is almost 11 PM and I have a meatloaf and chicken to go cook so we can have some meals this weekend at work. Dude loves BLT's but I think he is hoping for a hot meal soon.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bistro Chicken Casserole

I found this while trolling blogs for food. I have scribbled "You've got it Made" in the margin, so that must be the website I lifted it from.

I didn't quite make it as written since I had a hard time with the toast and cheese on top. It reminds me of Coq Au Vin, which I had tried to make before and it turned out purple. Had a hard time choking down purple chicken.

Here is what I did with it:

1/4 cup olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper

4 shallots, quartered

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 cup Burgundy wine (mine was just a red)

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup flour

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot. Saute on both sides until chicken is golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add shallots, garlic and thyme. Saute until garlic is fragrant and shallots are softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes until they begin to color. Return chicken to pan, pour in wine and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine butter and flour to make a paste. Stir into bubbling casserole and stir until thickened. Original recipe then has you toast 8 pieces of French bread, lay on top of casserole then sprinkle with 1 cup Gruyere cheese and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. I just wasn't sure that toasty bread and cheese on top would work for Dude.

I made a batch of mashed potatoes and send it to work with him. I hate mushrooms and I am not a fan of dark meat, but this was AMAZING! I didn't eat any shrooms, but the sauce was crazy good and it didn't turn purple!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dude turns 45

Dude just turned 45 this weekend. He, myself and Drama Queen went camping while Hermit Crab saw some high school friends in town for the annual Fireman's Chicken BBQ. We had a good time camping; however were rather disappointed in the fact that the campground never enforced the 10 PM quiet time rule. Our neighbors were out partying (next to our 'bedroom' in our camper) until 3AM both nights...or was it days? Not very restful. I think we must be getting old since we like to have a nice fire and not listen to drunk people swearing at one another and saying "Oh yeah? Well watch this!" and hope our camper wasn't going up in flames or would have a cannon ball size hole through it's side. I think we will be sticking to the quiet campgrounds closer to home that we know.

Hermit Crab made Dude a giraffe quilt for his birthday. He has a thing for giraffes. Enough said
Having some margaritas with our dinner at the local watering hole. No, I didn't cook much

Dude had the fish special with deep fried cod, buttered reds and a salad

I had the sirloin special with the buttered reds and a salad

Drama Queen had a prime rib sandwich with fries. Dad took other half to work tonight.
While DQ snuggled into her air matteress, we went back to the bar and had more margaritas-that they forgot to charge us for. When we tried to pay, they said no-it was their mistake. It was like 3 for 1!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coming to a close

It has been so darn hot here in Minnesota. Like Africa hot. Okay, that was totally a line from a movie, but it has been a scorcher. Over 90 degrees for at least a week and over 70 percent humidity. Makes a gal cranky.

Today I awoke (after working 6 twelve hours days in a row) 75 degrees. About 50 percent humidity. Blue skies and puffy white clouds. I spent the early afternoon hours picking cukes and zucchini. Weeded, watered and mowed. Sat in my favorite yellow chair and watched some clouds go by. Threw some steaks and spuds on the grill while I sipped some Riesling. It was a good day. And I just sat in my scrapbook room surfing Facebook and Blogger and watched the sun set in a beautiful array of orange, pink and purple. I looked at the clock and it was 8:32. The days are getting shorter. And soon my favorite time of year will be upon us-fall.

We leave in two and a half weeks to bring Hermit Crab back to school. She is so excited to be back at school with all of her friends and, of course, the boyfriend. But she is also looking forward to being her own person again. Making her own decisions and plans. Not having to clear anything with Mom or Dad. Not arguing every day with Drama Queen. I will miss her like always, but am looking forward to the quieter days with only the three of us at home. And soon just the two of us.

I had posted about the bars and salad I had made for my nephew's grad party. Here are the second set of bars I made. Probably even easier than the Chocolate Chip cookie Dough brownies.
Only 6 ingredients, a pan and the oven.

Peanut Butter Cup Bars

1 package Betty Crocker Peanut butter cookie mix

ingredients on package-water, oil and egg

1 tsp. vanilla

8 individual Reese's Peanut butter cups, chopped

Mix the cookie mix with the water, oil and egg as directed on package. Add vanilla and stir to mix. Pour into a prepared pan. Use either a 9x13 pan or a bar pan-I think mine is 8x12. Prepared by spraying with a cooking spray. Chop up the peanut butter cups; sprinkle over the dough and press slightly into batter. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes. You want them to be golden brown and just pulling away from sides of pan. The first time I made them in the 9x13 pan and they cooked faster than in the bar pan.

The summer days are coming to a close. Sad, yes, but I say-bring on autumn!

Oh, and I'm not ashamed to say I ate 4 of these!

Monday, August 9, 2010


My Dad is home for his 50th HS reunion-came and had dinner
us on Sunday night
He's so good, he doesn't have to pedal

Forgot the pancake mix, had to make do with eggs

Yep, there are no words......

Anyone remember "The Partridge Family"?

It is so hot. Like 150 degrees with 300 percent humidity. I sweat just thinking about sweat. We spent the weekend camping at a state park only 40 miles from us, but was so beautiful with all the different species of trees, flowers and the water. I even spotted a doe in the woods as we took a bike ride at dusk, but didn't have my camera. Then I started to freak out a little that the vampires were hiding behind the trees luring me in with the cute deer just waiting to come drain all my blood. I'm sure they aren't related to Edward.
My Dad was home for a week to attend his 50th high school reunion. My step mom doesn't fly so he came home alone. However, she made him a list of people he was seeing, at what times he was seeing them and what restaurants they would be visiting. With the boatload of people he saw while he was home, he certainly needed these reminders.
Hermit Crab got up for work on Friday and saw this Mama turkey in our backyard with her babies. This shot reminds me of the Partridge Family into where the baby partridges are following the mama. Please let someone else remember this show.....
Hopefully the hot spell ends soon so I can get back in the kitchen. It has been a lot of salad and sandwiches at our house these days!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My baby Gurl

I'm a little verclempt. Is that how you spell it? My baby is a senior. I can barely say the word.

I love you Boog!