April 29, 2010

Steve Update

Doctor said it was just a cyst...all other tests came back clean :) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!!!!

April 28, 2010

Random thoughts for today

1. Steve is getting blood work and an ultrasound done right now. Positive thoughts, people - positive thoughts.

2. My next food post will be the recipe (and pictures!) for homemade chicken pot pies. I made them on Sunday. Yum!

3. I was just getting ready to tell you that it is the time of year to leave all of the comfort food behind, and start taking advantage of summer eating/cooking. I mean salads and grilling and light dinners and fresh fruits and veggies...but today I feel like I'm still needing lots of comfort. So tonight I am making Shrimp Scampi...with pasta. And butter. And preferably lots of wine (in my belly, not in the scampi).

4. It's quite possible that joining a yoga class is the best thing I have done for myself in a long time. I was feeling pretty close to the end of my rope last night...shutting down and crawling in bed was about the only thing that I wanted to do, but I dragged my ass out of bed (yes - I went straight home from work and took a nap) and went. By the time I got home, I was feeling 100% better. More calm, centered, positive, in control. I just wish I could maintain that daily (without having to spend the money and time at the yoga center every single day).

5. I am hungry. All I want to do is eat. And cook. And eat. Clearly this is my outlet. I wonder if my life is ever drama free (ha ha ha!), if I would even want to cook??? Probably :)

6. Right before I was walking out the door to go to work this morning, Kempton barfed. Inside the house. On the floor. I heard the gagging and raced across the room to let him outside before he blew, but just like slow motion, I didn't make it. Now I feel less hungry. Thank you for letting me share.

7. Please let 4:30pm be here soon. Amen.

April 27, 2010

Surveillance Checkup #2 - UPDATE

Doctor called last night...they found something on the CT scan that they would like to explore further. The doctor said not to worry (yeah, right), that it is probably benign, and that they want to do an ultrasound on the cyst/tumor just to take a closer look. Ultrasound Wednesday at 11 am, meet with doctor Thursday afternoon. Please God, let him be ok.
I'll keep you posted as I know more...

Easy Cheese Sauce

Mmmmmmmmm - cheese sauce. My mom used to make it to pour over steamed broccoli and cauliflower when I was a kid...and I'm sure parents everywhere have been using this approach to trick kids into eating vegetables for centuries. I was intimidated by the cheese sauce for a long time (that and gravy)...but once I finally just did it, I realized that it was actually really easy (that and gravy!).

You basically make a roux...and stir in your favorite cheese! The end. Seriously - that is all. You don't know how to make a roux? Ok, I'll tell you. Here are more specific instructions:

Easy Cheese Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup of cheese, grated. I used half medium cheddar and half sharp white cheddar.
Salt and pepper

Make a roux by melting the butter over medium/medium-high heat in a saucepan and then stirring in the flour. It will be really thick, so start whisking in the milk (I used skim because that's how I roll...it would be richer and creamier...and more fattening...if you used half and half instead). Once the milk is added and heated through, stir in the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Resist the urge to drink it straight out of the pan.

PS - You can always add more than a cup of cheese. If it gets too thick, add more milk!

Printable Recipe

April 26, 2010

Surveillance Checkup #2

Steve went in this morning to get a CT scan and chest x-rays as part of his every-three-month-checkup-regiment. I'm sure that everything is perfectly fine, but it is always a little nerve-racking...especially  having to wait for 3 three days to get results! So...if you pray, please pray that the cancer is gone and everything comes back clean. If not, please just keep him in your thoughts.

If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, then read this post or just click on the tag "cancer sucks" on the left hand side of the blog so you can be in the loop!

And thank you for all of your support through this whole thing. I'll keep you posted!

April 25, 2010

Happy 50th Birthday Mom!

Yesterday was my mommy's 50th birthday!

She and my Dad celebrated by spending some quality time up at the cabin...complete with a sauna, champagne, filet mignon and crab on the grill!
Isn't she just beautiful? You would never guess that she was 50...she could easily pass for 30!
Happy Birthday Mom! You are the strongest and most beautiful person that I know. I love you! XO

April 22, 2010

I thought this was funny...

Saw it on zencancook.com :) ha ha ha - love it!

"Anyone using less than stellar ingredients for this will this dish will be spanked senselessly with a wooden spoon."

I can think of a few people I wouldn't mind spanking senselessly with a wooden spoon...but since this is a (sort of) family friendly blog, I will refrain. Happy Thursday!!! 

April 18, 2010

Life is a picnic!

Yes, I do know that this is like the 5th post I've written tonight (and all of them complete with pictures! Take that! And take me off the slacker list!), I promise it's my last post of the night. Look on the bright side - at least when you are bored at work on Monday, you will have plenty to read!

So anyway, the last couple of weeks I have been super stressed out about money (who isn't, right?). Like, on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown, I need-a-new-job-before-I-go-off-the-deep-end kind of stressed. It all came to a head last Wednesday, and I could feel myself slipping into zombieland (it's what I do when I get really down...I can't help it...I don't want to eat, talk, move, cook...I basically just want to sit and stare, or sleep for days). Of course, this made Steve ultra worried. I think when I said that I didn't care what we had for dinner because I didn't feel like eating anyway, he panicked. I always care what we have for dinner. And I always want to eat! Always. So he did the only thing he knew would get me back into reality long enough for us to talk things through and come up with a plan to work things out...he brought me to my favorite restaurant in town, The Scenic Cafe, set a bottle of Chablis in my lap, and started force-feeding me artichoke slather (it's like artichoke dip but with lots of Parmesan cheese and sun-dried tomatoes - YUM it's my favorite). I cheered up long enough to see reason and realize that I wasn't going to go off the deep end, and (as usual) his calm and positive attitude pulled me off the edge. It's just one of the reasons why I love him.

So the next night, I wanted to do something nice for him...but he really isn't super enamored with fancy restaurants and gourmet food (he says he prefers my cooking...weird, right?!!! Plus, like I said before - I am totally poor)...so I took him on a picnic! We both love to hike and be outside, appreciate a beautiful day, the sparkling water of Lake Superior, and fighting off hungry mosquitoes, so it was perfect! I packed some shrimp with cocktail sauce*, artichoke tortellini salad, fresh strawberries, pita chips, hummus, kalamata olives, feta cheese...and an individual turtle cheesecake (cheesecake is his favorite) for dessert. Oh - and a bottle of wine, of course! We packed some blankets and Kempton in the car, and headed out to our secret picnic spot up the north shore. Check it out:

Hello handsome!
Pretty water...and Kempton's head...
He's handsome too!
The food!
* Here's a tip to spice up your bottled store bought cocktail sauce: mix it with equal parts bottled store bought chili sauce! Trust me - it really gives it something extra. I think my parents taught me that one...try it next time!
Yay! Much better. And yes, we really did have to fight a few mosquitoes off...one little bloodsucker bit me on the neck!
Thank you Steve - for always making me feel better, and for being you. I don't know what I would do without you. And with that...I bid you all a good night!

April 17, 2010

Part III and final installment of "I can't stop cooking and eating Italian"!!!

About a week after we got back from Florida, Steve and I invited Tara and Eli over as a "thank you very much" for watching Kempton while we were gone. Of course, I was ass deep in my Italian obsession, so the entire meal was Italian themed. It was a month ago, so my memory is a little foggy and I might leave something out...As far as I can remember, we had:
  • Roasted tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, kalmata olives, peppers and fresh mozzarella cheese drizzled with a balsamic reduction on baguette for our appetizer.
  • A salad with most of the above accouterments (minus the baguette and balsamic) all chopped up and a homemade zesty Italian dressing (I will post the recipe below)
  • Risotto
  • Pork tenderloin marinaded in Italian herbs, white wine, garlic and lemon juice

See below for some pics and the recipe for the salad dressing...

The food: 

The company:

Please note: this is Eli starting a full blown wet-willy war than is still being fought today. Please pray for the insides of my ears. Also - thanks for doing the dishes guys!

The hosts:

*Disclaimer* This was after we ate and I promise that I washed the counter off before I used it for food again.
Kempton seems to be the only one paying attention to the camera!

Thanks so much for watching Kempton Tara and Eli! I appreciate being able to leave him with someone who will love him, exercise him, and let him snuggle in the bed!

Here is the recipe for the delicious zesty Italian vinaigrette, taken from www.cooklikeyourgrandmother.com:

Zesty Italian Vinaigrette Dressing:
1½-2 cups extra virgin olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar
4-6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon each:
* black peppercorns
* kosher salt
* dry basil
* dry oregano
* dry parsley
* mustard powder
* 1-2 teaspoons sugar
Combine garlic, salt, peppercorns and a half-cup olive oil in a food processor. Process until
the garlic and peppercorns are well crushed.
Add the remaining herbs and sugar, the vinegar, and another half-cup of olive oil and blend
again. The dressing should start to thicken up.
Add olive oil and continue blending until it reaches the consistency you want. Taste
frequently to make sure you don't add too much oil and dilute the flavor.
Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks. It will still
be good after that, but will start to separate.

Printable Recipe

I can't stop cooking and eating Italian...Part II


During my post-vacation Italian extravaganza I ate lots of pizza. Mmmmmmm - pizza! I'm kind of a cheater when it comes to making homemade pizza because I rarely make my own pizza crust. I like homemade pizza to be a quick, go-to meal...but now I've got Steve loving homemade pizza and he is not satisfied with any of the store bought packages of make-your-own crusts (I usually use the Jiffy kind in the blue box). I think he is going to insist on trying to make our own dough next, which of course I will have to post about (have I ever mentioned that I am not a baker? It should be interesting), but in the meantime - here is my recipe for quick "homemade" pizza:

For the crust:
We usually use two boxes of Jiffy pizza crust mix (you can also use the Betty Crocker pizza crust bags), mix it with 1 cup of hot water (as per package directions), add some Italian seasonings and kosher salt. Let it rest (covered) in a warm place for about 5 - 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Flour your counter top or a board and roll out the pizza crust into a circle (or a deformed circle, if you are like me). Place the crust on a preheated pizza stone or pizza pan, brush the top with olive oil. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes (depending on how thick) or until the top is just starting to get golden...this helps make a crispier crust (if you like that sort of thing).

For the sauce:
If you are in a hurry, use a pre-made pizza sauce. Just make sure to taste it first, because they can be pretty salty. You can add more herbs if you want to, but you don't have to. If you are feeling rowdy, you can always make your own sauce. I like to saute garlic and really finely minced onion in a small amount of olive oil, then add a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of tomato paste. Stir in oregano, basil, thyme, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook on the stove top, stirring occasionally until it is the consistency that you like. If you are really feeling crazy, you can start with fresh tomatoes. You will probably want to use roma tomatoes (they make thicker sauces), and you will probably want to seed and peel them. This will take longer because fresh tomatoes are more watery and will take longer to get to the desired consistency. You may also have to hit it with the immersion blender to get rid of any large chunks (unless you like that sort of thing).

Once the crust is golden, remove it from the oven and spread desired amount of sauce over the top. Put the remaining sauce in a jar and put it in the fridge to use to top chicken breasts, for use on sandwiches, for dipping breadsticks in, or better yet - make another pizza!

Top the sauce with your favorite toppings and bake at 500 degrees until the cheese is melted and starting to get golden. On the pizza above, I used some leftover chicken and chopped up jarred jalapeno peppers with mozzarella and provolone cheese. Chicken jalapeno pizza is one of my favorite pizza's ever! The other kind of pizza I made during my Italian extravaganza was a classic margherita. I left the tomatoes in the sauce a little chunky and then used fresh basil and fresh mozzarella cheese on top. Delizioso!

Shack Pics

A few weeks ago (ok, it may have been more like a month), Steve and I went up to the hunting shack for the weekend. My dad met us there on Friday, and then on Saturday, my mom and my nephew Sam came up. The weather was a little chilly but it was so nice to be up there...it is so peaceful! We took saunas and hiked and went four-wheeling and spent some quality time with Sam. I was pretty sporadic about my picture taking, but I think I got a few good ones (Cal: mom has more pics - I took a bunch with her camera too):
Saturday night, Sam and I went down to the edge of the ridge to watch the sun set. It was beautiful...
How cute is he? I can't believe how big he is getting. He is 5 years old (almost 6) and he looks like he could be 9. He can read anything that you put in front of him (I am not exaggerating) and was showing off his mad skills at math with Steve:
Steve has a math app on his iPhone that his youngest son plays so he can practice his math skills. Sam willingly traded his Uno cards for the game, and really liked it.
Here he is thinking hard about the answer (and maybe looking to Grandma Patty for help???)
Cheese! He did really good and got most of the questions right on his own! Kempton hates math. He just went to sleep.

On Sunday, while everyone was trying to get things packed up and ready to go, Sam fell asleep waiting for his 6 wheeler ride...it was pretty much the cutest thing I'd ever seen, especially with Grandpa's blaze orange hat on:
(ignore my shadow in that one)
It was so good to see him, and we had a really nice, very relaxing weekend. Mom - if you want to email me some of your pictures, I will post them here so everyone can see them.

This is what my weekend has been like so far...plus reminder recipes of sun-dried tomato pasta salad and crock pot beef roast

Go to Gina's and have a couple glasses of wine and chill with her and her mommy (which was lovely - thanks ladies!).
Come home, watch Twilight and New Moon.
Snuggle with Kempton.
Look over to see this:
Lord, help me.
He is very...special.
Isn't he just about the cutest thing you've ever seen though?
I had to go to bed after that.

Take Kempton for a walk here:

Go grocery shopping.
Buy Kempton a bone.
Watch him parade the bone around the house, coming in and out no less than 14 times to show it off.
Finally convince Kempton to settle down and chew on bone.
Wash dishes.
Make my favorite pasta salad in the whole wide world:
You take a pint of cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half.
A couple handfuls of kalamata olives, chopped.
A package of basil, washed and chiffonaded.
A package of corkscrew pasta, cooked according to package directions and then rinsed with cold water to cool.
Add 7 ounces of drained sun-dried tomatoes, 4 cloves of garlic (mine were already minced), cracked pepper and 3 - 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar to a blender (note: I used more like 10 oz of tomatoes...or you can add a roasted red pepper). Puree, slowly adding up to a cup of olive oil while you are pureeing (note: for part of the oil I use the oil from the tomatoes, and the rest straight up olive oil).
Mix all of it together (you may have extra dressing). Add about a cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Shamelessly shove large bites into your mouth. Repeat.
PS: The original recipe is from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). The Pioneer Woman adapted it and that is how I first discovered this little slice of heaven. I have further tweaked it from there (and think/talk/dream about it all of the time), you can read my previous post about it here.

Eat more pasta salad.
Check lottery tickets only to find that I do, indeed, have to go back to work on Monday.
Brown a beef roast. Mix a heaping tablespoon of beef bouillon with a bottle of beer. Put roast in crock pot and pour beer mixture over top. Add a cup of red wine, cover and cook on low so that I could eat these tomorrow:

Consider watching New Moon for the 3rd time.
Decide to get my poop in a group and catch up on some blogging.
Decide instead to blog randomness.

Tomorrow I plan to:
Clean Kempton's poop out of the back yard.
Make the french dips you see in the pic above (don't worry, I'll wash my hands).
Wash more dishes.

April 14, 2010

Chili. Because it's chilly!

I lied about having a chili recipe that includes pictures. FAIL! I can't find my battery charger + extra battery for my camera. I thought it was in Steve's camera case, but it wasn't. He thinks that it might be in his laptop bag...which is who knows where. I better find it soon because my brother emailed me yesterday and told me that I needed to quit blogging about food and post some pictures from our shack weekend (which was like 4 weeks ago, to give you an idea how behind I am). I am going to do my best to get it in my possession by this weekend so I can play catch up. In the meantime, here is my sad, lonely, picture-less (but still delicious) recipe for hearty chili! PS - this is based off of the recipe that my mom told me about years and years ago. Which means that one day, I called her to find out how she made her chili, and she said, "I use spicy V8 juice as the base." And that was about all she could tell me. Because it is impossible to get a full recipe from my mother. She simply doesn't believe in them. So I had to figure the rest out myself! Hi Mom!

Chili: (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of meat. Usually I use venison, but I didn't have any and I had ground beef on hand, so I used that. You could also use ground turkey, or round stead cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 - 6 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons chili powder (maybe more depending on the quality of your chili powder)
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons (or more, if you are feeling spicy) cayenne pepper
  • One bottle of Spicy V8 juice
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can of medium or hot chili beans, undrained
  • 1 can of butter beans, drained (these are optional...I just really like butter beans!)
  • 2 cans of tomatoes, stewed or diced (I used one of each), undrained
Brown your meat and saute your onion and celery in a large dutch oven or soup pot (drain grease if necessary).  Throw everything else in and let it simmer for 30 - 60 minutes. Taste and add seasonings if necessary (sometimes I add a little sugar, paprika, garlic, or more chili powder). And that's it! Easy weeknight meal! Make it before summer comes!

Printable Recipe

April 12, 2010

Fajitas! Spanish Rice! Muy Delicioso!

I looooooove Mexican food. Whether it be authentic Mexican food (the real kind, that you get in Mexico), or my own version of Mexican food which is not very authentic sometimes but (I think) is still really good. It's good party food, it's comfort food. It can be a super easy go-to meal, or a complicated process (see my recipe for chicken enchiladas). It can be made healthy or artery clogging. Last night's version was not super authentic, but it was comforting, easy and partially healthy but mostly topped with cheese and sour cream. First, we will talk fajitas...

Mmmmmmmmm - fajitas. I always used to cook fajitas in a pan on the stove, until one day when I used leftover grilled kabob meat and veggies to get my fajita fix. Holy cow. 100% improvement. Obviously, if it is raining or freezing, I still do fajitas inside, but if at all possible - try this recipe on the grill. You will need soaked bamboo skewers or grill baskets if you do it this way.

*side note: you can use whatever kind of meat you want for fajitas, and whatever veggies too. I used chicken, onions, and peppers because I am boring, but I have also used pork, beef, shrimp, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, etc. Feel free to substitute or use whatever you have on hand!

  • 2 lbs of chicken breasts (you can easily halve this. I wanted leftovers for fajita salads, nachos and quesadillas because, like I said, I love Mexican food)
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips (I used red and yellow)
  • 1 small onion, cut into strips (or more if you like onion)
  • 1 lime, cut in half (roll it on the counter before you cut it to juicify it. Did I just make that word up?)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (or less if you don't like it. Which would make me feel pity for you.)
  • fajita seasonings, divided (cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic...or a pre-made blend like Penzey's...or just buy one of those packets of fajita seasoning - I won't tell anyone!)
  • shells (hard, soft, flour, or corn - whatever floats your boat!)
  • jarred jalapenos and some juice from the jar
  • fixins! sour cream! salsa! guac! taco sauce! shredded cheese! shredded lettuce! black olives! diced tomatoes! Whatever your little heart desires! But remember - if you are trying to keep it healthy, more veggies and less cheese/sour cream/guacamole.
Cut your chicken breasts into strips, and toss it with the juice from 1/2 of your lime, a generous handful of cilantro, 2/3 of your fajita seasonings and some juice from your jar of jalapenos. In a separate bowl/bag, toss your cut up peppers and onions with the juice from the other 1/2 of your lime, a small handful of cilantro, and the remaining fajita seasoning. Marinade both for a couple of hours, or however long it takes you to finish your bloody mary, relax on the patio furniture, start your grill and get it to the desired temp.

At this point, you can either skewer the meat/veggies (separately), or throw them into separate grill baskets. Steve (aka grill master) skewered the meat, and threw the veggies in a grill basket that had been coated with oil. He put the veggies on first, let them cook indirectly for a few minutes, and then put the chicken skewers on. While the food was a-cookin, I warmed up the shells. Once everything was done, we threw everything into serving bowls and loaded up our own fajitas and fixins! Delicious! See below for Spanish rice.

Printable Recipe

Spanish Rice:
When I first starting cooking (and I use the term "cooking" loosely), I would crave Spanish Rice but wouldn't know how to make it, so I would make minute rice, and then stir in jarred salsa and some Kraft singles. Super authentic, huh? Especially the Kraft singles. Barf. When I got my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, that was one of the first recipes I made, and even though I have it memorized and make my own version of it now, the book still falls open to that particular page (that page and the one for jambalaya) when I first take it out. Here is the BHG recipe (with my alterations, of course):

  • 1/2  cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1/2  cup chopped green sweet pepper (I use red, orange or yellow peppers, because I don't like green)
  • 1  clove garlic, minced (I like garlic, so I use 2-3 cloves)
  • 1  tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1  teaspoon chili powder
  • 1  28-ounce can tomatoes, cut up (I usually use 2 cans of Rotel, unless I don't have it on hand. Then I will just use diced or stewed tomatoes...make sure you don't drain them)
  • 1  cup water
  • 3/4  cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1  4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, undrained
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon black pepper
  •   Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional) don't be a pansy - this isn't optional!
  • 1/2  cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional) I wouldn't leave this out either
  • diced up jalapenos (I usually just keep a jar in the fridge. If you are using fresh, you might want to saute them with the onion/peppers/garlic first)
  • salsa or taco sauce
  • cilantro, chopped
  • sour cream for garnish


1. In a large skillet cook onion, sweet pepper, and garlic in hot oil until tender. Add chili powder; cook 1 minute more. Stir in undrained tomatoes, water, rice, chile peppers, jalapenos, salt, pepper, and, if desired, several dashes hot pepper sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. If desired, sprinkle with the shredded cheese, cilantro, and a little salsa or taco sauce. Top with sour cream. Bueno!
2. Makes about 5 cups (6 to 8 side-dish servings)

Printable Recipe

Weekend, etc. etc. etc.

Is a blog without pictures like a cheeseburger without ketchup?

...like a salad without croutons?

...like a caking without ICING???

I have failed you lately. I have been a giant photo-taking slacker. All the fun things I've done in the past few weeks, all of the glorious food I've eaten, and no photos to share. And then, to top it all off - when I went to take pictures of the food I was cooking last night, my battery in my camera died. And I didn't have my backup battery on the charger. Can you ever forgive me? If you do, I will post a recipe for fajitas. Not good enough? How about fajitas and spanish rice? Fine. I will post a recipe today for fajitas and spanish rice, sans pictures (slacker), and then tomorrow or Wednesday, I will post a recipe with pictures. I'm not sure for what yet, but I am thinking chili (the red version). Deal?

I love having conversations with myself.

I had a busy weekend this weekend - and ended up not cooking at all until Sunday night. First of all, I had to work on Friday (gasp!), and then we attended a bonfire/dinner party at a friends house where I ate bbq chicken on the smoker, stuffed mushrooms (I must get the recipe for this...they weren't your typical stuffed mushrooms - they tasted like pizza), BLT salad, crab salad, and fresh fruit/veggies. And beer. And I didn't have to cook any of it. It was a sort of repayment for Steve and I having them over the week before for a deck party, in which I cooked pulled bbq pork, pasta salad (the vinegar-y kind), coleslaw (the creamy kind), fresh veggies, chips (I didn't make these, I bought them), and beer (I didn't make this either, I bought it). And I don't have pictures of either party. We will talk a little more about my deck later though.

Saturday, Steve surprised me with tickets to the last MN Wild hockey game of the season, because  he is the sweetest man alive, and I had mentioned in passing that I didn't get a chance to see a Wild game live this season and the season was almost over. So we went down Saturday afternoon and came back Sunday afternoon. I just love St. Paul, don't you? Sunday before we left we ate at the Great Waters Brewery (where I had a delicious grilled cheese with tomatoes and bacon) and then wandered around downtown St. Paul for a while. It was a beautiful day and (as always) we had a great time.

Sunday we hit the grocery store on the way home, and enjoyed our evening cooking together and hanging out on the deck. I have always loved sitting outside on my deck, but recently (before our infamous deck party that I didn't take pictures of) we added a bunch of super comfy patio furniture and one of those made-for-the-deck fire pits...and now you can't get me off the deck. That is all I want to do. I don't care if it is 35 degrees outside, I will be out there in 52 layers and a blanket, sitting by the fire. As a matter of fact - last night, after we ate dinner outside, we curled up in the love seat next to the fire...and both fell asleep. I woke up because I had a dream that my blanket was on fire, but in reality, the fire was long gone and my nose was almost frozen off. But it was still awesome because this spring has been totally kick ass and there is nothing like being outside without having to deal with mosquitoes! It is suppose to rain (boo! but yay! for my mom who has been working long hours due to fire season), but when it gets nice again I will have another party I will take some pictures of my beloved deck for you to see!

April 7, 2010

This is what I want to eat

Evidently, April is National Grilled Cheese Month. So of course, I want grilled cheese and tomato soup. Heuvos rancheros. Guacamole. Fresh salsa (or pico de gallo). Pizza. Sun-dried tomato pasta salad.

But instead, I am having hamburgers. With pepperjack cheese. And pickles. On the grill. Yum...now that sounds good too.  I love burgers on the grill with pepperjack cheese and pickles. I usually form my burger patties and then marinade them in Worcestershire, soy sauce, and a little sprinkling of seasoning salt (pick your poison). Sometimes, my dad will put bbq sauce on the burgers right before he lays the cheese on (at the end of cooking)...that is also delicious. So is adding a splash of red wine to the marinade. Tonight, I might add a little hot sauce (because I am feeling...saucy. ha!).

In case you can't tell...I am hungry. I'll keep you posted on what I make this week. Of course, when I bought groceries on Monday, I bought none of the above (except the burgers). At some point, I do need to make my recipe for crock pot beef, because I have some veggies that I chopped up and froze in beef broth that I need to use up...so I think I'll make some vegetable beef soup with barley. I am starting to panic that soup season is coming to an end...I need to make soup a few more times before I am ready for summer!

The other thing that I am going to try to work on, is to make some new recipes that I've never posted about before. I have found that I cook a lot of the same food (and of course, both Steve and I have our favorites), so I need to try some new things instead of posting links to the same recipes over and over. Ok, I must go find something to eat right now before I chew my arm off. Thanks for letting me spew randomness at you. Goodbye for now!

Roast Chicken?!

"What is this?"
"Nothin'. Just a bit of seasoning. I thought maybe if we was havin' a roast chicken one night or something..."
"Roast Chicken?!"
"You never know..."

A little Lord Of The Rings for you on this lovely Tuesday afternoon! And some Roast Chicken! Wait, is it still considered roast chicken if it is cooked on a grill? Or is it Grilled chicken instead?

Either way...on Monday, Pastor Ryan did a guest post on PW's website for herb roasted whole chicken. This got me thinking (mostly about chicken), and when I went to the grocery store after work and saw that whole roasting chickens were on sale (3 for $9.99!!!), well I just figured that was fate. So I bought them, threw 2 in the freezer, and made one for dinner Monday night! My recipe is pretty close to the recipe that Pastor Ryan posted, but with a few exceptions. See below:

Grilled or Roasted Chicken 
1 whole chicken (I get the little roasters without giblets or neck...I think they are 3 - 4 lbs)
4 tablespoons fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary...whatever your little heart desires!)
butter, olive oil or canola oil
1/2 - 1 fresh lemon
1/2 an onion, cut into large pieces
3 - 4 garlic cloves
salt, pepper

Chop up your herbs (I used thyme and oregano because that was all I had...I may or may not have added a little Pizza and Pasta Magic as well), add salt and pepper (I think I used about 1 - 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of pepper), mix with 3 - 4 tablespoons softened butter or oil until well blended.

Using your (clean) fingers, gently lift the chicken skin off of the meat all over the breast and thighs. Then use your hands to stuff the herb mixture evenly between the skin and the meat. If you have any left, you can rub it on the outside of the skin...but usually I peel the skin off to save on calories, and by putting the seasoning right on the meat it absorbs it much better. Then stuff the cavity with a half of a fresh lemon (whole if you can fit it, but my chicken had a small cavity), onion, and the garlic cloves. You can even put some more fresh herbs in there if you want (no need to chop them up).

If you are going to be roasting the chicken in the oven, throw it on a baking sheet and put it in a 415 degree oven for about an hour...check it with a meat thermometer and take it out when the temp is 180 degrees (you may need to cook it for longer). Let it rest for 15 minutes, carve and enjoy!

If you are cooking it on the grill, ask Steve. He is the grill master. I think he got the charcoal super hot, then moved them off to the side (indirect), put the chicken right on the (clean) grate and cooked it at about 415 degrees. Grill temps are a little harder to control (plus - for whatever reason, grilling usually involves drinking...this sometimes results in your attention wavering, so it is always good to grill with a partner. That way one of you might remember to check on the chicken periodically), so you may have to stick the chicken with the meat thermometer a couple of times to check the temp. I think it took around 2 hours for our chicken to be done on the grill. It was delicious. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving it, please! And please grill (and drink) responsibly.

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