Oct 31, 2009

Happy Halloween and a Recipe for Chili, sort of

I almost forgot that today was Halloween! You would have thought the older gentleman throwing Reese's candy at me at the grocery store would have given it away. I didn't realize until I got home and Jeffery said "Oh yeah, Happy Halloween!" And then I threw the candy at him. I don't care for Reese's all that much and I know he loves them. Darn it too, I could make some peanut butter chocolate balls at home but noooo...

Keeks and Gretch and Gretch's boyfriend Paul stopped over today. To use my shower. How lovely, I thought they actually wanted to see me. ;) I'm somehow not surprised that I didn't get to see much of them this weekend. It is a big "kyds" weekend after all. (For those of you unfamiliar with that term, "kyds" refers to the high school and older singles in our church. They get together on the weekends and have several "big" weekends throughout the year in different locations. There are always festivities in the Marquette area for Halloween.) They had a Halloween party tonight, and as of 3 o'clock this afternoon, they still didn't know what their costume would be. I'm pretty sure they figured something out so I'm curious to see what they did.

I happened to have chili on the stove when they arrived. I made pork tacos the other day and had leftover meat to use. I had made it in the slow cooker and it was flavored with, get this, cocoa powder! Among other things of course. For some reason it reminded me of chili. I'm realizing lately that I am actually learning to cook and not just how to follow a recipe. I've made up quite a few recipes, or meals I should say. Mostly soups, but it's a start.

Anyways, back to the chili. I started off by sauteing onions and garlic in oil. I added one chopped green pepper. To this I add a few things from the fridge that otherwise might not have been eaten; some chopped green chilies (leftovers from enchiladas), a few chipotle peppers (from those paninis), a couple caramelized onions (also from paninis, I really don't think they made a difference, I just hate to throw food away), and of course, the leftover pork. To this, I added two cans of diced tomatoes and one can of sauce; we like our chili chunky and not too thick. I let it all simmer for a couple of minutes to check on the flavor before adding two cans of (rinsed and drained) kidney beans. The only thing I added after that was a little bit of oregano. It was already so flavorful from the pork! It was definitely a different flavor than I am used to in chili but it sure was tasty! I served it with cornbread, which I love. I'm wondering why I don't make it more often.

Don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight!

Oct 28, 2009

Chicken Panini with Chipotle Mayo

I wish I had my camera so I could show you a picture of my lunch.

I love the Frontega Chicken Panini from Panera Bread. I've been meaning to make a similar sandwich at home and today I finally did. It wasn't exactly the same but Jeff and I both thought it was pretty good, and definitely one to make again!

I used Sandy's Focaccia Bread from the Magnolia Lane cookbook, p. 217. It is a bread machine recipe, but I don't have a bread machine so here's how I make it:

1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/8 c. warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/3 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in water. (I run my water as hot as it goes.) Add salt, sugar, oil, and about one cup of flour. Use a whisk (I use my Kitchenaid mixer) to mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour and knead for 8 minutes. Raise for about an hour or until doubled. Now at this point, the recipe says to pat onto a jelly roll size pan (like flat bread). Poke holes into dough using a fork. Brush with additional oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Instead, I made several smaller balls and pressed them down. (I didn't add the garlic salt or parmesan this time but I did when I used this same recipe for hamburgers the other day. It was awesome!)

Now, for the panini itself you'll need:

  • Chicken, pulled or very thinly sliced (preferably smoked. I used leftover chicken that I had boiled for a soup)
  • Onion, sliced thin (you can use raw red onion but since I don't care for raw onions, I just caramelized sweet onions instead)
  • Tomato, sliced thin
  • Provolone cheese (or whatever cheese you like!)
  • Fresh basil (I forgot to buy this!! I sprinkled a small amount of dried basil on top of the cheese instead)
  • Chipotle mayonnaise (combine about one cup of mayo with two to three chopped chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce))

Slather both pieces of fococcia bread with the chipotle mayo and layer everything on. Brush both sides of the panini with oil. I have a panini press for the stove so I used that but if you don't have that (does anyone else have one of those...?) :) you can use a heavy pan and put another heavy pan, or plate or whatever, on top of the sandwich and weigh it down with a can of soup....or any other heavy object.

I also made homemade potato "chips." I poured just enough (safflower) oil on a cookie sheet to cover the entire bottom and laid thinly sliced potatoes in a single layer. I sprinkled them with sea salt and baked them at 400 degrees for...a long time. I never really keep track of cooking time. I just flipped them about every 10 minutes to make sure they weren't sticking to the pan, and to make sure both sides were getting crispy.

Aaaah...that was an easy lunch. Not. To tell you the truth, I don't really mind. I love to cook and bake and it's been kind of a challenge lately (in a good way) to make as many things from scratch as possible.

A few things I would change to make this panini even better:

  • Use smoked chicken! I have no idea how I would be able to smoke chicken in this apartment, short of buying it, I didn't really have that option.
  • Use rosemary and onion focaccia bread (recipe to follow) I don't have any rosemary...I really need to get that considering I've seen a few recipes lately that I've wanted to try
  • Chop the chipotle peppers smaller. I thought the size I had chopped them in would be fine but now I wish I had pulled out my food chopper. You might like them bigger though, I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, although I should mention that Jeff said they were not spicy at all.
  • Make the chipotle mayo ahead of time. I had made it this morning, but it may have been better to make it the night before to let the flavors blend a little more. Maybe.
Rosemary Foccacia Bread (My sister Sara's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook, p. 217)

1 tsp. yeast
3/4 warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 c. flour
crushed rosemary
parmesan cheese

Mix together all ingredients in bread machine on dough cycle or in mixer until well blended. Pat dough onto a baking sheet dusted with flour, cornmeal, or lightly oiled. Dimple dough with the end of a wooden spoon. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper, rosemary and parmesan cheese. Let dough rise about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees til golden brown about 10-15 minutes.

If you use Sara's recipe, you can omit the parmesan and instead press a few rings of yellow onion into the top of the dough.

I'm realizing as I type this that Sara's recipe only calls for 15-20 minutes of rising time. Is this typical of focaccia? Maybe you shouldn't rise it for an hour as I stated for Sandy's recipe. Feel free to let me know if you have some expertise in the matter! ;)

Wow, this is one long post considering it's all for a sandwich! Try it though, before you call me crazy. It is quite tasty!

Oct 27, 2009

My Facebook Status

Looking for some super-cute boots, maybe just a little bit on the wild side. No chains or grommets. Not black. Probably not brown. A simple bow would be cute. And slouchy. Definitely slouchy. Preferably suede. 3" heel, mid calf. Less than $50. Is that so hard? Yes. Yes it is.

I would have bought these boots but they didn't have my size. Apparently my feet grew half a size because all my shoes are a bit small. (I guess that can happen with pregnancy...?)

ETA: These boots are from Kohls.

Oct 21, 2009

Looking for me?

I have been terrible about posting, I know. I do apologize. I'll tell you the truth here, I haven't been on the computer much at all lately. I seem to go in spurts. Sometimes I can't get enough of it, and other times, like now, I have too many other things that I would rather be doing. Like what you ask?

I have no idea.

Okay, well I guess I like to snuggle my baby.

And I have this huge stack of magazines piling up that I still need to read so I can get them off my side table.

And I have these...projects that I'm working on for Etsy. :) I never mentioned that before did I?

And I keep baking. Cardamom rolls with caramel (my sister's Jen's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.) Banana Oat bars from the latest Co-op ad. Focaccia bread, or buns rather, for hamburgers today. (My Auntie Sara's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.) And whole wheat bread. (My Grandma Lorraine's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook. It calls for Rye flour, but you can also use whole wheat.)

And I'm trying to get in shape...? I bet you think I'm joking with what I just mentioned above.

Actually, it's not a joke because I now fit into a pair of jeans that I haven't been able to button since Adrian was born. So, I must be doing something right!

Anyways, I'll try to be better about blogging, but I won't promise anything because I usually don't follow through. And I wouldn't want to lie.

P.S. I found my camera. Or, rather, I figured out where it was. I left it at my in-laws, I should have it by Halloween weekend. (Meaning, Keeks or Gretch can you get it from my in-laws and bring it up when you come?)

Oct 14, 2009

Our trip south

If chocolate chips cookies are "healthified" you can eat as many as you want, right? (My sister Emily's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.)

I hadn't intended to take a week-long break from blogging but when we went downstate for five days it just sort of happened! And you know I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs the entire time...

Actually, I wasn't. I wish I was. Well, sort of. The thing is, every time we go downstate to "visit our families" we end up running around like headless chickens. This past weekend was no different. In those five days, we attended several church services (it was fall services for that area), went to a wedding (outside), played the guest of honor at a baby shower (I did, not Jeff), and did some shopping (nothing too serious). Did I forget anything?

Friday was probably the most relaxing day. We had arrived late the night before, leaving once Jeff got out of work. I went garage saleing with my Mom and sister-in-law. Or tried to anyway. We went to one of the three we had planned and didn't get anything (one had a sign posted reading "rain delay"). So we went to Salvation Army instead. This particular one is fairly new and it is HUGE! I found a few things for Adrian. I wish I would have had the time (and money) to look for things for myself. I mean, there is seriously so much there. My shopping experience was cut short by a little...er, we'll just say, a little stinky situation. (Why does that always happen when I'm out and about?)

Saturday was the wedding. Jeff's cousin got married in a cornfield behind his grandpa's house. Well, not literally. The cornfield was more of a backdrop. It was really pretty with the fall leaves scattered everywhere. I'm realizing, as I type this, that I never got a picture of the bride and groom. We, however, got yet another family picture!

We went to church on Sunday and managed to see both sides of the family. It was fun to see my brother Brad's baby. She's grown so much! Besides that, she is tall for her age (7 months) so when she was rolling around on the floor, I was ready for her to jump up and start walking!

I did some running with my mom on Monday and then headed over to see Jeff's family before the baby shower that my mother-in-law hosted that evening. (Thanks again!) I enjoyed seeing everyone at the shower, Adrian is not lacking in the clothing department anymore! Besides what I got Monday night, I also received a ton of hand-me-downs from Jeff's cousin who has two boys. I'm still working on sorting through everything to see what he still needs as far as pants and shirts. I have stacks of clothes piled up on my couch. A friend of mine stopped by this evening and was telling me about a clothing sale of sorts at a local elementary school this weekend. So that's my deadline to get all this stuff figured out!

We left Tuesday evening to head back home. Jeff and I both agreed that we should leave earlier in the day next time. He's working afternoon shift so it's not really a big deal for him to be up so late (it's a 7 hour trip). But, it would be nice to have some time to unpack and unwind before going to bed. As it was, when we got in last night (or this morning?) we only brought in what we absolutely needed. And our car was stuffed! We ended up hauling the rest of our stuff in this morning before running out grocery shopping and I still haven't unpacked.

We pulled in around 2:00 a.m. and surprise, surprise, Adrian was still up at 8:30 this morning! I didn't sleep much in the car, I get too nervous that late at night. Needless to say, I'm pretty exhausted by now. I had this list about a mile long of things I had wanted to get accomplished today. I'm trying to think of one thing that I did get done...oh yeah, I went grocery shopping. Yet another reason to come home earlier in the day. Every time we get back from a trip I have to go shopping the next morning. It'd be nice to get it done that day rather than waking up hungry and knowing there is nothing to eat for breakfast!

Well, I'm off to bed! This momma is tired!
Good night!

P.S. I had wanted to post pictures but I can't find my camera and I have this sinking feeling that I forgot it at my Mom and Dad's...and it's too late to call. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers that it's around here somewhere!

ETA: Brad's daughter is 8 1/2 months, not 7. Whoops! I can't keep track anymore!

Oct 6, 2009


I knew my baby was growing, but I guess I still thought he was kind of small. Then I held Kendall. And then I realized that maybe he's bigger than I thought!

(Please note, Kendall and Adrian are almost 4 months apart in age!)

Oct 3, 2009

Latest Cookbook Corrections

This is the complete list of corrections for the Magnolia Lane cookbook, please pass this on to anyone who has the cookbook!

Page 17- Nacho Dip - Should say to brown and drain the sausage & hamburger.

Page 21 - Puppy Chow - add 1/4 cup butter to ingredients

Page 42 - Turkey Wild Rice Soup - should be 1/4 cup slivered almonds (rather than 4 cups)

Page 61- Turkey Pasta Salad - Should be 1/2 can crushed pineapple (rather than 1/2 cup)

Page 67 - Susan's Vinaigrette Potato Salad - should be 3 pts per cup, not 8

Page 69 – Mom’s Christmas Eve Fruit Salad - Directions should say – Combine sugar and flour and mix with remaining ingredients up to cream. (Rather than except)

Page 79 – Red Skin Potatoes - Should say 1 T. Johnny’s Garlic Spread (or minced garlic) (not onion)

Page 85 - Asparagus and Parmesan Pasta Toss - should say chicken Italian sausage in the notes with no comma between chicken and Italian sausage

Page 87 - Uncle Niilos Corn on the Cob - should be, bring water to a boil before adding cobs, boil for 7 minutes

Page 88 - Green Bean Deluxe - beans should be drained

Page 119 - Mexican Curry - add 1 can (tomato sauce can) water to ingredients

Page 129 – Anne’s Spaghetti Sauce - Ingredient list should be – 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lg. onion, 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ¾ tsp. dried oregano

Page 135 - Corned Beef Casserole - Should also have 1 c. American cheese

Page 144- Chicken Stuffing Hot Dish - should be 9x9 or 8x8 square pan (not 9x13).

Page 201
– Blueberry French Toast - To ingredient list, add 12 eggs and 2 cups milk

Page 255 – Peaches and Cream Dessert - Crust ingredients were left out: 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 38 wafers). Combine melted butter and wafer crumbs, reserving 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top, and press in 9 x 9 pan.

Page 268 - Good Everyday Cake - add 3 eggs to ingredients

Page 300 - Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies - add to ingredients; 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1 (6 oz.) package chocolate chips, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk and 4 tsp. cherry juice

Page 316 - Mint Brownies - should be 3 eggs and add 2 cups brown sugar to ingredients.

Page 317 - Caramel Bars - should say, save 3/4 cup for topping (rather than 3 cups), first baking time should be 10 minutes (rather than 40).

Page 332 - Mom’s Fudge - add to ingredients, 1 teaspoon vanilla

Page 338 - Country Style Hot Dog Relish - total celery seed should be 1 T. (it's listed twice). FYI: 12 green pepper = 13 cups & 10 tomatoes = 10 cups

Page 324 - Pineapple Bars - add 1 cup (2 cups total for recipe) sugar and 2 T. of corn starch to filling ingredients

Oct 1, 2009

Go borrow it, buy it, or check it out!

(If you do buy, make sure it's on sale!) :)
However you get your hands on it, go read this book! Especially you young folks. Read it before you give yourself a chance to get in trouble with money!

On a separate but related note, Heather asked where I find my coupons. So, for Heather and anyone else interested, moneysavingmom.com and hip2save.com are two of the blogs that I regularly check. They match up the coupons with the weekly sales. There are links to the sites where coupons are found. Keep in mind that you will sometimes need to sign up to receive coupons, but not always. You'll also need to download a coupon printer application.
These blogs often link to other blogs about saving money. There are a ton! I also check to see what coupons are in the upcoming paper before I buy to see if I should get more than one or any at all. (The blogs I listed link to the list of coupons a few days before they come out.)
Also, stores like Target, Walgreen's, and CVS will let you combine their store coupons with manufacturer's coupons on the same item. We just got a Walgreen's here and I am super pumped about that!
It might take a while to get the hang of it all and really start saving money, particularly with the drugstore rewards programs, but it's all so worth it!!

Well, I hadn't meant to make a big ol' post on that, but there you are! If you have any questions or just want to know something, leave a comment or send me an email, I'm getting pretty good at this stuff! ;)