Friday, October 24, 2008

I love cupcakes but....

I ordered cupcakes from the local grocery store for Will's birthday tomorrow. So far I've gotten two calls about them....the first one to tell me that they didn't have red sprinkles and the second one was to confirm that I really wanted 136 cupcakes! I said 36.....if I got 136 that would've been a cupcake explosion! Thank goodness they called, if I got 136 cupcakes we'd be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Hmmmm....on second thought! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time for a Quick Dinner??

Yesterday was just one of "those days." I found out late in the day that a project I had been working on was ready, and I had a whooollleee bunch of letters to get out. Since I'm not going into work today or tomorrow, I chose to go back to work after dinner last night and spend a couple of hours stuffing envelopes and typing up labels. It's times like these that I'm grateful to live less than five miles away! So what makes a quick, delicious dinner? Asian Steak Stir-Fry!

I've made plenty of stirfries in my life, usually with chicken or shrimp. I'd never considered using steak, really. I usually picture steak on a plate with some A-1 and a baked potato! I got this recipe off the package that the steak came in, interestingly enough. Sometimes you can find really good recipes on packaging, like my Mexican Chicken and Rice, or Chocolate Rollo Cookies. (My Favorite!!!) This comes together really fast and makes great leftovers for the next day.

Asian Steak Stir Fry

Flank or Pan-Fry steak, cut against the grain into thin strips
2 bell peppers (a red and a green) cut into strips
1 lg onion, cut into large strips
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 cucumbers, peeled
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
hot cooked rice (I prefer brown rice in this dish, but white is fine)

Cut the cucumbers lengthwise and use a spoon to remove pulp and seeds. Cut into large chunks. (Cucumbers lose a lot of water when cooking, hence the large cut)
Coat a skillet with a little vegetable oil, heat. Add peppers and onions, saute. Add minced garlic, stir fry some more. Add cucumber. Stirfry some more.
While veggies are cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, red wine vinegar and soy sauce.
Add the steak to the veggie skillet. When steak is halfway cooked, add the sauce mixture.
Remove from heat when steak is cooked throughout. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

There's Nothing Better......

.....than fresh baked goods coming out of the oven!!!! And what better than my favorite fall scent in the kitchen....pumpkin bread! Mmm.....intoxicating with it's pumpkiny cinnamon spicy goodness! I baked two loaves tonight after work, one is a little present for someone and the other one is just for us! (I really wanted to say me, but I will begrudgingly share with Will and Brian.) And do you know what goes really well on warm pumpkin bread? Softened cream cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The only problem.....I bought three cans of pumpkin puree at the store. (I know that making my own would be soooo much better, but I haven't had the time) Anyway, since I made two loaves, one can of pumpkin wasn't going to cut it. So I had to open the second can, and now I have a bunch left. I read in Taste of Home that one reader mixes a little honey, cream cheese and spices I think into some leftover pumpkin puree for a bagel spread. Now THAT sounds better than just plain butter, doesn't it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No Lunch Necessary

Brian starts a new job on Monday, and needs some clothes for said new job. So when he suggested going to the outlets for some new clothes, I knew that he was also going to suggest Cracker Barrel for a Saturday breakfast preceeding the shopping trip. WOOHOO!!!

For most of the year, I'm good about having a small breakfast. Usually cereal and fruit, or a bagel. But once a year usually, we go to Cracker Barrel. At Cracker Barrel, all bets are off. It is simply the best breakfast place in (my) the world!!

First of all, breakfast is served all day. This is a big part of being the best breakfast place! Secondly, they have everything. EVERYTHING. Today I had bacon, eggs over-easy, a small serving of cheesy hash brown casserole, a biscuit covered in gravy, a cup of coffee and I stole a couple of Brian's fried apples. I realize that this is the kind of breakfast a farm hand would eat, and that I am not a farm hand. Nor do I work like one, so breakfast like this is a rare treat, and I look forward to it a little like a kid looks forward to Christmas! Plus, as the title implies, if you have breakfast at Cracker Barrel then no lunch is necessary!

Goodbye till next year, Cracker Barrel.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Grillin' Turkey

Today is Friday, October 10th. And it was nice enough tonight to fire up the grill. Well, sure, you could grill in the dead of winter if you wanted to! But it was really nice grilling tonight. Turkey burgers tasted pretty good with just a bit of bread crumbs, spices and soy sauce. Will mostly stuck to baked french fries and cheerios. Hey, if he's eating, I'm happy! :)

Brian and I were thinking of foods that just get better when they're grilled. we came up with was better grilled. Think about it, can you think of anything you can cook on a grill that doesn't taste better for it? No fair answering Ice Cream, or popcorn!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Anniversary Pie!

Today is Brian's and my Eighth Wedding Anniversary. (thank you!) Eight years ago, our reception was just winding down. Tonight we will have a quiet celebration at home, with a homemade Chocolate Cream Pie. :) I can't think of a nicer way to celebrate your anniversary than saying it with chocolate!

This particular recipe comes out of "The Joy of Cooking," which we lovingly refer to as "The Bible" in our house. Why the pie? Well, I made a refrigerator pie (it's kind of like quiche, a la Alton Brown) for dinner on Saturday night. One thing about me: I DO NOT roll piecrust. It's the most frustrating thing in the world! I've gotten so flustered, I have rolled up the dough into a ball and tossed it in the trash can. Anyway, the frozen piecrust that I buy always has two to a package and there really is no way to defrost just one. So I usually turn one into a dessert.

This particular pie almost wasn't a reality this time. I almost forgot to bake the crust, so it would've been chocolate filling over a raw, cold crust. Mmm....tasty! (not.) Luckily I remembered, and took a chance on putting the whole thing into the oven. Brian and I agreed that if the crust came out bad, we'd just start dipping spoons into the filling! Luckily it didn't come down to that, it was awesome!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Restaurant Experience....Spanish Tapas

I went out to dinner with some mamas from Mamas and Munchkins tonight, I had won the drawing to pick our next place and I chose a Tapas restaurant. What a great place! It was a small, intimate setting that wasn't busy at all on a Sunday night. Tapas is Spanish Dining, basically the idea is similar to courses in Italy. Tapas means "little dishes" so you get smaller portions of each type of dish that you choose, and you share with the people at your table. We got a set menu of two appetizers, seven tapas, a plate of paella and two desserts. Sounds like an awful lot of food, but the dishes are very small.

For the appetizers we chose Fried Goat Cheese with Honey and Almonds, and some sort of beef with garlic. The goat cheese was fabulous, being soft and creamy inside, and crunchy and sweet with honey on the outside. Then we chose our tapas, and I can't name them all but they were soooooo delicious! The paella was pretty fantastic too, it reminded me of some of the paella I ate when I was an exchange student in Spain. But of some room for dessert--we had flan and churros con chocolate. Hot, fresh churros....who can resist??

I forgot to mention the sangria....sangria of all kinds! I usually get a white wine sangria but this time I got one with rose wine, limoncello, champagne and fresh raspberries. Oh my goodness!

I think it's safe to say that I can't wait til next month's dinner club!

It's Crunch Time

Now we're going to have something new in our household. For the first time in four years, Hubby and I are both going to be working M-F, regular business hours-kind of jobs. There have already been some who is going to be home for the telephone company when they have to come out to do some work at the end of the month? How are we going to do any housework? And most importantly--how and when are we going to eat dinner????

I'm trying to take the proactive approach. I actually took the time to write out the menus for two weeks in advance. We've been really, really good about making up a menu every week since February. Now is the real challenge. Both of us are going to be tired, cranky and not feeling like cooking a lot of the time! Plus having a picky toddler.....those two things together make me want to put the pizza place on speed dial. (Wait it already's a nice thing to have in a pinch!)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Update on Online Groceries

Note to self--When ordering groceries online, watch out for how many of an item you are ordering. I wasn't paying attention well enough, and thought that I was buying six bagels from the bakery. was six packages , with four bagels in each package. Do the math....I had 24 bagels in the house! Good thing we like' em! (and they freeze so well) Or I could just have a bagel party. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008


There was an envelope waiting for me one morning on my front porch. I opened it to find a $50.00 giftcard. Thinking it was a gimmick, I just tossed it on the coffee table and headed out the door to work. My husband, being more patient at these kind of things than I am, took the time to read it and discovered that I had won a contest! Only then did I remember that I took a card from the deli counter at the grocery store to enter some sweepstakes. I never really thought that people win these things, but I guess that they do!

So with my winnings, Brian and I had a little "date night" the other night. My sister-in-law offered to babysit while we went out to dinner to celebrate his new job! Since he was "the guest of honor" it was his pick for where we went. He chose Not Your Average Joe's, which just opened not too far from us. I heard the name and thought "Yeah right. This is going to be just like every other chain restaurant I have ever been too!"

Was I ever wrong! Everything is made from scratch and cooked to order. So fresh and soooo good! I had a peach sangria and shrimp and scallop skewers. Brian had mustard crusted chicken and a glass of wine. And then we split a "peanut butter thing" for dessert. The whipped cream wasn't from a can, it was whipped from scratch! The best part? The bill was only $59. So we only tossed in $9 + tip for a great meal. So, if you ever get a chance....check this place out. I doubt you'll leave disappointed!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Feeding the Dog

Joey really loves having a child in the house!! Our dog Joey has got to be one of the best-fed dogs on the block. Will leaves a lot of leftovers, things that he loves to devour like macaroni and cheese, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken nuggets....etc etc etc. He's learned to cherry-pick around the high chair, so Will can toss him Cheerios and blueberries. (Fruit is where Joey draws the line though, he won't touch it.) But yesterday was a different story altogether.

I let Will eat breakfast in front of the TV some mornings while I get ready for work. (and if that makes me a bad Mom, then so be it!) Usually he has toaster pancakes (cay-cakes) and some fruit, like a sliced banana. I went to close our back door and almost stepped on something unusual. Will had apparently decided that he was finished with breakfast and put his plate down on the carpet in the family room for Joey! Joey hadn't found it yet, he was still in bed. (the lazy, lucky dog!) So I intervened and scolded Will, and proceeded to toss the leftover "cay-cakes" in the sink. That's when I's not really Will's fault. He's probably seen Brian and I giving Joey leftovers after dinner. (well Ok, really it's just me) So I guess we need to break the habit of giving Joey leftovers anywhere besides his food dish. Hope he doesn't go on strike, pack a bag and move in with my parents! They wouldn't mind though, my dad is always trying to steal him!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jazz it Up!

I have a dirty secret. Sometimes I bake (Gasp!) from a boxed mix! Ok, so it's not a dirty secret. I love to bake from scratch, but really, who has time for that! So I mostly stick to scratch baking around the holidays. Unless something catches my fancy, like the pumpkin recipes in this month's Taste of Home. (though I think I'll skip the pumpkin and black bean chili, thanks!)

I've learned over the past couple of years that baking from a boxed mix doesn't have to taste like it. And that some brands are definitely better than others, I've had some brownies that taste exactly like the box the mix came in! Will adores muffins, so tonight I took a blueberry muffin mix, added craisins to the mix as well as cinnamon and nutmeg and VOILA! Instant delicous treat, packed with fruit so Bubby doesn't know he's eating something decent. He just thinks it's "Yum, YUM!"