Wednesday, April 28, 2010

i love spring!

You'd think I'd messed with the colors on this pic, but spring is just actually that beautiful! (on temple square)  It makes me so happy. Since we have a yard it's actually been kinda fun trying to figure out how to take care of it. Brad and I are both kinda clueless, and our house has given us a good challenge: The only flowers we had were irises, our lawn is lumpy and pathetic, the guy I hired to mow our lawn chucked a giant snake over the fence into our neighbors yard (I sure hope they didn't see that, I thought he was joking or I wouldn't have said it was a good idea...), 1/2 of our fall leaves were still stuck to the clay dirt that I was afraid to try and plant anything in.
Then my sweet mom came to our house with a truck load of compost and her roto-tiller to till the earth and prepare it for planting. We got rid of tons of leaves, weeds, and branches. The clean, dark brown dirt looked beautiful. I then felt confident to plant some flowers. I don't know that I have an eye for it, I just tried to pick out some perennials and some flowers I love and plant them wherever the garden looked particularly brown. We've still got a long way to go.   See how we have no privacy from our neighbors on that side? What would be a good shrub to cover them up? I love lilac bushes, maybe that would do the trick. It might rock Brad's allergies though. I also planted a little herb garden with some tomatoes and peppers:
Since our yard doesn't really look that awesome enjoy these pics of our visit to temple square, I love going there in the spring!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dinner and Dessert...for 1.

Another Lonely Day.
I like to mope around the house and listen to Ben Harper when Brad travels excessively for work. Suddenly two of my favorite things, eating and sleeping, are no longer exciting. Sleeping alone in our house makes me feel like I'm in a horror movie- I lay in bed, my heart racing, waiting to hear the breaking glass or creaking footstep. I really don't like cooking for myself either, I like cooking for other people then enjoying the food together. Eating good food is one of my favorite ways to spend time with people I like. Eating alone is lonely. I do things I wouldn't normally do when I eat alone. Things like eating count chocula for dinner.
Since Brad goes out of town frequently, I've come up with a few things to make that are very convenient for 1-2 people.

*I will tell you I've made time consuming mac and cheese: making roux and blending it with milk, grating onions in, adding dry mustard, topping with bread crumbs, baking it in the oven. Then I made up this crazy easy mac and cheese that I like more! Its as easy as making kraft from the box, but it tastes better (and I've never even added butter to this).
 Maybe my children won't grow up with of love of powdered cheese because of this. 
fusilli (curly) pasta- boiled to al dente
≈2-4 Tbs milk per bowl (want creamier? add ≈1 Tbs cream to the milk. want richer? add 1 Tbs butter)
≈1/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese per bowl
Just before draining pasta add milk/cream to a flat bowl and microwave 1 min, or until it begins to boil. Remove and add drained pasta. Top with cheese and stir until cheese melts into a sauce. (Yup, thats it. As long as you salted the water good and used sharp cheese it's very flavorful.)
*I can't stress enough that you'll want sharp cheddar, even if you think you don't like sharp. When you cook with it it's dulled down, the flavor spreads out over pasta, milk, etc. Kraft has a great, cheap shredded cheddar that is sharp aged wisconsin. It makes things yummy.

Now I want to share my invention of personal dessert. This is dangerous, but I really don't do it that often. It's great because you don't dirty any dishes or end up with a whole pan of brownies or batches of cookies. This is if you're feeling selfish and want to feed yourself, and maybe one other person. (if you don't devour the dough it easily makes 2 ramekins)

1/8 C Crisco
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs white sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt
¼ C flour + ½ Tbs
chocolate chips
Whip ingredients in order with a fork in a ramekin sprayed with pam. (careful with the flour) Bake at 350° ≈8 min. Top with a scoop of vanilla icecream if you want the pazookie effect.

2 Tbs butter
¼ C sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs cocoa
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 C flour
¼ tsp vanilla, (can swirl in peanut butter at the end, or ≈1/4 tsp orange zest and a pinch cinnamon.)
Melt butter in a ramekin, add remaining ingredients in order, whipping with a fork. Bake at 350° ≈8-10 min.

                                                                      Buen Provecho!

Friday, April 23, 2010

shake your bon bon!

So I read a blog post today from my friend Heather, it was all about an old obsession with Ricky Martin. It brought back all the ridiculous memories and I was so thouroughly entertained I wanted to share the love. Ricky got big while I was in Jr. High and I became obsessed with him. I listened to his music over and over. I stayed up all night to get tickets to his concert from Smithstix, I think we were on the 8th row. It was so epic, at the time. My brother in law gave me the above picture for Christmas one year and I displayed it proudly in my locker. (What  a perfect couple! Picture it, "Gay celebrity dates 14 year old girl.")

This is one of several collages I made using my calandar pages and photos I took at his concert. The picture in the middle has 2 gay guys who sat behind us at the concert, we thought it was silly of them to be there since we obviously had a better chance of being with ricky, you know, being girls and all.

I choreographed a dance to "Shake your bon-bon" with Heather. We always requested that song at the stomps. (school dances) I swear there was once a small group of girls behind us following all our moves, but that may have just been a jr. high fantasy where you think you're cooler than you actually are.

I once told my brother, "Ricky will be bigger than the Beatles." Those words burned in his memory and he has haunted me with them many times. He presented me with this "gift" at my wedding dinner:

Of course my brother immediately began taunting me when Ricky came out of the closet. Part of me knew he was gay...a small part. I close this blog, dedicated to the years I thought Ricky was straight, with my official twitter statement given after hearing of his official gayness: "what?! ricky martin came out of the closet? i would've been devastated in 9th grade...luckily now i'm married to a hot, straight, latino man."

that's right, gay ricky, take that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

carb lovin' monkey food

This bread is easy and self explanatory. Bananas ranging from brown to black work best. You can easily half this, and don't freak out about the amount of fat and sugar, it makes 2 big loaves. (and you could substitute splenda and do 1/2 C butter 1/2 C applesauce if you want to make it healthy.)
2 C sugar
1 C butter
6 ripe, mashed bananas
4 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark chocolate)
2 1/2 C flour
Cream butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mix. (If bananas are soft enough the mixer can mash them and there’s no need to mash before). Bake in 2 8x5 greased loaf pans at 350° for 50-60 min. Test with toothpick until it comes out clean. If top is getting brown cover loosely with foil.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good food, good company, good times.

This weekend was too fun! Brad worked hard for Zinch and we had Zinch dolla dolla bills all over the place. (that would be *fake* $ Brad took to the conference) :) I worked hard on my tan: naps in the sun by the pool with low SPF, two days in a row. I almost lost my pasty-winter white skin. Wonderful!
These are our friends, Cam & Brittny: They took us all over the place and we had fun hanging out with them and their bebe.
Brad had to work some of the time (that’s why we went there), but we still got to spend most of the time together and we had a blast. Cam and Brittny took me to a fun hike called camelback, I loved it! I haven’t been on a hike in who knows how long. I got a little vertigo on some of the steep parts, but overall it was great. We couldn’t go all the way to the top because it was getting too intense for lil’ Mckenna. And I don’t blame her, I would have been dying in a onesy, it was hot in shorts & a t-shirt.
Besides that we ate some amazing food.
We had a BBQ out by the pool with cam and brittny. It was tasty and brittny taught me an easy, cool way to cut peppers for kabobs.
Me and brad ate at a great Persian restaurant (reminiscent of the food in morocco, which we adored), mango’s yummy Mexican food, creamy and delicious FAT FREE and NO SUGAR ADDED (what the what?) gelato, and pizza from grimaldis! We ate this pizza in Brooklyn right before brad proposed. I’m glad I didn’t know then it was a chain restaurant because I probably would have thought it was less cool. But… now I’m so glad it’s a chain restaurant because we got to eat there on our trip to AZ and it’s the yummiest pizza ever! If you travel somewhere where there’s a grimaldis I recommend it, it’s truely delicious and not too pricey.
Very satisfying weekend, hopefully it gave me enough juice to get through this week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

that awesome soup

Remember how I said I was on a health kick? Well, it was also my sister-in-law's birthday last weekend. I was in charge of baking the cake, and I hadn't used my angel food cake pan thing lead to another and I'll just say I don't feel healthy again. I did however discover that coconut cream and cream cheese whip into a beautiful concoction that you can stir strawberries into then stuff them into a cake that is like heaven. I love filling things, then covering them so that there's a surprise when you break into it.
Last week for the first few days we rigorously followed the cabbage soup diet. I've just felt too gross with the extra winter flub, I wanted quick results. I know there's never an easy solution, but the quick idea always draws me in even when all my health classes have always taught me that eating balanced meals and exercising regularly is the way to go. I always have to get up so early, and after clinicals/school I normally feel exhausted. I do stuff I don’t want to do all day and come home wanting to spend my free time doing something I enjoy- relaxing, being with my husband, messing around in the kitchen, seeing what’s up with people on FB, twitter, and blog world.
It’s easy enough to say I’m going to exercise at least every other day, but then it just doesn’t happen. There’s always an excuse. I’ve got to start doing it though, because I love food too much and if I deprive myself of it I’m not as happy and don’t seem to enjoy life quite as much. I know I’ll be happier with myself if I get in better shape though. I think I’m going to make my husband join the gym so that I have someone to go with.
I have been making some yummy healthy meals though- salmon tacos with cabbage and chipotle/lime cream on corn tortillas, chawarma chicken with greek salad… I forget to take pictures normally so next time I make those if I remember I’ll take a pic and share how I made them. This isn’t really springy, but for those freak spring storm days, this is an easy, delicious soup that can be altered to be very healthy. Fresh basil is a must and fresh tomatoes will be a bit better too.

2 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes or 2 large cans whole, peeled tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
1/4 C olive oil (or less)
2 small yellow onions, sliced
2-3 C chicken stock (or less, or water and a couple boullion cubes)
2 bay leaves
(2 Tbs butter-optional)
½ C red wine
½ C chopped fresh basil leaves
¾ C heavy cream or 1/2 C fat free sour cream
red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 450°. (For fresh tomatoes, blanch in boiling water 1 min and remove skin.) Cut in halves and arrange with onions and garlic on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 20-30 min, or until caramelized. Remove from oven. Blend. Add to a stock pot with 1/2 C chicken stock, red wine, (butter), and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 min. Add basil leaves and red pepper flakes. Add cream/sour cream and more stock/water if needed. Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Indian inspired yogurt breakfast smoothie

Since Brad and I are on a little health-kick, I'll probably blog about some of our healthy foods I've been making lately. (I decided not to eat chocolate this week, I gotta be excited about something...)
Strawerry banana Lassis were my favorite breakfast of my non-nesquick week.
I’m in love with mango lassis. In India they put cardamom in the mango lassis. I’ve made it with just a pinch, but I prefer straight up mango. I can’t wait till mangos are in season! In India they also put rosewater in some of their lassis, it’s not really my thing, but if you’ve never had the sensation of eating a rose I suggest you add 1/8-1/4 tsp of rosewater to a strawberry lassi. I’ve also had success with mixed berry lassis: strawberry/raspberry/blueberry. Since strawberries and bananas are in season and cheap, that’s the lassis I’ve made lately. Measurements are a bit guessy, but you can replace bananas/strawberries with all strawberries, 1 juicy mango, or any fruit. If you like it runnier, add more milk or juice. If you like it thick, omit the milk. (In the summer my favorite is a thick mango lassi, just mango/yogurt/ice cubes/sugar. That is heaven.)
2 bananas (frozen works good)
1 ½ C strawberries
¼ C milk
1 C plain, fat-free yogurt
3-4 ice cubes (I used 2 ice cubes of pineapple juice I happened to have in the freezer)
a spoonful or 2 of splenda/sugar

easy-shmeazy strawberry jam!

I'd never made jam w/o my mom until today, and this was almost as yummy. (Almost only because it doesn't have real sugar, you really can't tell!)
5 C fresh strawberries, blended
1 C splenda (or less + some real sugar)
1-2 Tbs lemon juice + 1 tsp lemon zest
1 pkg pectin (I used Sure-Jell)
In a bowl stir together strawberries, lemon, and splenda/sugar, let sit 15 min. Then add pectin, stir 3 min, let sit 5 min. Stir again, pour into containers (leaving room at the top for expansion), freeze.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Food Loco

We're on a diet this week. My sister Julie likes to call weight gained after marriage “happy weight”, but the problem is you eventually realize you are slowly becoming a less attractive person, which isn’t so happy. So I'm going to go ahead and reminisce about food we won’t be eating this week.

On friday I wrote a "rigerously graded" book report on "Mountains beyond Mountains", because I'm in Jr. high. I also made 9 bundt cakes for Brad's missionary reunion, and took pictures as I thought of how I was making my own mountains beyond mountains instead of writing about someone else's more meaningful ones. Mine tasted better.

Flavors included: Southern Strawberry, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Coca-Cola, Lemon Poppyseed, Red Velvet, Chocolate Fudge, Pineapple upside-down cake, and vanilla. I wish I had a pic of the pineapple one right when I took it out of the pan, it was pretty.

For our St. Patty's meal we had glazed corned beef, colcannon, and Irish soda bread. The flavors were wonderful.

I realized I forgot to post anything about Brad’s birthday meal, and I really went food loco on brad’s b-day. It was our first birthday married and he was turning 30, kinda a big deal so I wanted to make it special. For breakfast we had waffles with homemade buttermilk syrup, scrambled eggs, and candied bacon. Yes, I skipped most of my first class. Dinner on the other hand, is where things really got crazy. I had class till 4, then I got home and made mint chip ice cream and oreo brownies to have for dessert.

I decided for dinner to attempt my own take at Papalote’s triple threat burrito. (a SF winner that I’ve never even tasted, I’ve got no clue if it even resembled it.) A large tortilla filled with everything: Carne asada, achiote chicken, grilled prawns, homemade papalote roasted salsa, guacamole, jack cheese, refried black beans, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican rice, and Brad’s favorite jalapeno chips on the side. It was fun learning to use some ingredients I’ve never worked with before: pepitos, achiote paste, chilies del arbol, California chili pods, etc. Too fun!

After all that work I ate the fabulous concoction with gusto, but was haunted by the fact that Brad would have been just as satisfied eating a caf√© rio burrito and store-bought mint ice cream. He does recognize when things taste yummy and is quick to thank me, but he’s also a boy, just barely learning that burger king is gross. I think next time I go to all that work I should make sure there are some girls to appreciate it, unless of course it’s Brad’s birthday. :)


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