Thursday, August 26, 2010

What we ate this week; Trying new things!

Well technically, this is what we ate last week since I've been a little slack in the update area.
I've been covering another shift at work and so I've been a little sluggish in the late evening when most of the "free time" happens. School is starting on Monday and I'm looking forward to finding a routine again. Perhaps it will make my journaling a little more organized as well!

So- This is what we ate!

Monday: Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken (allrecipes), sauteed wax beans & salad w/prosciutto.

(Grilled Honey-Mustard Chicken)

(Sauteed Wax Beans)

(Green Salad)

(Prosciutto for Salad)

Tuesday: Hawaiian Salted Pork (allrecipes), Bok Choy Salad (all recipes) Dessert: Tai Sweet Rice with Mango (allrecipes)

(Hawaiian Salted Pork)

(Bok Choy Salad)

(Tai Sweet Rice)

Wednesday: Dennis' Lemon Garlic Salmon (hubby's recipe), Spaghetti Squash (from neighbors garden), Green Salad

(Dennis' Lemon Garlic Salmon)

(Spaghetti Squash)

Thursday: Homemade Pizzas (easy dough recipe from this site), Dessert: Poached Pears(Cooking With Amy) with homemade syrup and vanilla ice cream.

(Pizza fixings: tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, bruschetta seasonings, prosciutto, fresh garlic & white onion)

(All put together and going into the oven)

(Coming out of the oven)

(Poached Pears w/vanilla icecream & syrup)

Friday: Minestroni Soup, Homemade bread from a friend, artichokes

(Minestroni Soup)

(Artichokes & homemade bread)

Other Miscellaneous things we made and ate were Banana Bread (all recipes)

and just as I promised...

Homemade Pickles!

There were lots of favorites this week. The Salmon, Hawaiian Pork & Honey Mustard Chicken are all old favorites. I suggest trying the recipe links for them. I figure anything the whole family likes and will eat more than once in a two month period is an awesome recipe in my book!
Some of the new favorites were the Bok Choy Salad. My husband was eye-balling it skeptically but ended up eating all of the left overs for lunch the next day.
The homemade pizzas were fun and good. It was our first time using stoneware. I didn't have a pizza stone so I used an old pampered chef stoneware. It makes all the difference in the crust! No more soggy middle!

The pears, by far, were the absolute favorite. I FINALLY found a cooked fruit my oldest kid likes! After searching a while, I found a recipe that didn't contain any alcohol. (Not that I don't mind, but my kids do!) They were super yummy, but I will double the sauce next time.
The minestroni was good. But it was a cheater recipe! We used a Bear Creek Mix as the base and added all sorts of good stuff to it!
The least favorite would be the Tai Sweet Rice. It may just be that we've never really eaten Tai food, but the flavor combination was weird. I think if we would have left off the sesame seeds then it may have been better. It was one of those things you take a bite of and you're just not so sure you like it, then, you take another and you think maybe it is good. It was just strange!

As for the banana bread and the pickles, it was mixed reviews. I think the banana bread had an awesome flavor. Unfortunately, I had to leave for an hour and I left my poor husband to take them out of the oven. He swears the toothpicks came out clean but they were fairly gooey in the middle.
The pickles were fairly spicey. So half of us liked them and the other half didn't. I hope to be trying another recipe soon. Maybe we'll get some more English Cucumbers in our basket this weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Last week was the 4th birthday of my sweet little niece. It rather snuck up on me so I was ill prepared when she showed up at my house for music lessons (her mother teaches my daughter piano) and she happily announced "it's my birthday"!
I told her I was going to make her something but I wanted her to pick out the material for it first ; )

So I led her to the fabric cabinet where she picked out a Dora the Explorer fabric I've had on hand for a few years and was more than happy to be using it up.
The fabric came with a panel for a decorative pillow. So I decided it would make a good quillow.

A day or so later I pulled out my daughters old quillow she had gotten for her birthday several years ago. I unfolded it and began measuring it out, calculating seam allowances and such. I was thrilled that I indeed had enough Dora fabric for a quillow!
I studied the shape and the structure and it looked simple enough.
It only took about thirty minutes to sew the whole thing!

The only thing I would do differently is double the batting. When the quillow is folded into the pillow, it isn't quite as fluffy as I would have liked.

If you are another fellow sewer, you should give this pattern a try. You will find how quick and easy it is! Here is a pattern that is close to what I did on my own. I believe my measurements were just off a little on the length. But this one explains it pretty well.
I'm thinking about making some for Christmas for the girls to put in the car!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

We rarely get anything special from our little local market. So when I walked down the produce aisle and saw these pretty little heirloom tomatoes, I couldn't resist getting a carton even though they were not on the list and were a little more than I would normally pay for a carton of grape tomatoes!

But their pretty colors and tiny little shapes lured me in!
As I walked around the store with my treasures in hand, I was thinking about what I could make with them. The bakery then announced an advertisement for their breads and so I made my way over to see what they had to offer. I found an Italian crusty loaf and immediately thought of bruschetta.
I wasn't going to get my hopes up on fresh mozzarella but decided to scope out the little gourmet cheese island nearby to see if I'd luck out.

I couldn't believe they had some! The stars must have been aligned just right for me to find beautiful heirloom tomatoes, fresh crusty bread AND fresh mozzarella all in one stop to our little local market! That just doesn't happen!

Although it was an unconventional dinner, and not at all what we had intended to have. I made a batch up as soon as I got home and everyone snacked so much, there was no longer a need to make dinner.

It was the perfect meal for a hot summer day. I hope I get as lucky finding baby heirlooms next year!

What we ate this week; Helping with Bountiful Baskets

This past week I found myself longing for the new produce basket.
It's amazing how much fruit and vegetables one family can eat when the produce is fresh and delicious. We didn't have quite enough to make it two weeks.
So needless to say the weeks menu was boring and consisted of quite a few left overs and simple dishes.
The only new recipe I managed to try out was another Smitten Kitchen recipe for Artichoke & Mushroom Marsala Pasta.

The pictures from the site left me drooling all over my keyboard. I've had a hankering for mushrooms and my family loves artichokes so I gave the recipe a try.

It was good, but not fantastic. Smitten Kitchen lady even mentions that it might need some "brightening up" with some lemon or balsamic. We tried balsamic and it helped, but I think I was expecting it to be a little more saucy, less dry perhaps. Maybe I'll double the sauce next time.
Nothing exciting happened on the cooking front but the good news is I may be teaming up with a friend to start running another Saturday basket pick-up! There were several mentions of the desire to have produce delivered every week instead of every other. So my friend Anne suggested she and I run another Saturday in-between.

I got to go help out with the last delivery and I think it would be manageable. It was fun helping out and feeling apart of something really cool.

The volunteers got a few of the extra's, I got a couple pluots (plum/apricot hybrid). They are so heavenly! If you've never had one let me tell you, they didn't last a day in my house!

Those are the Pluots next to the very large Roma tomatoes.

I was also given some English cucumbers for pickling.

I bet in the next post I will be introducing pickles!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What we ate last week

Thanks to our very first Organic co-op basket and a very generous sharing of fresh homegrown beef from my in-laws, this was a great week for trying new things in the kitchen.
My wonderful husband agreed to play Sous Chef and between the two of us we knocked out some good meals in half the time it usually takes.
We didn't want to waste anything from our basket so we tried to incorporate as much as we could into each meal. The highlighted items came from the basket.

This is what we tried:
Monday: BBQ Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli.

Tuesday: Grilled Green Chile w/Monterey Jack Burgers & Napa Cabbage Salad w/Buttermilk Dressing (Smitten Kitchen Recipe)

Wednesday: Chicken Curry, Whole Wheat Couscous, Sauteed Patty Pan Squash (From Dennis' Aunts garden) and Whole Lemon Tartletts w/strawberry topping. (Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Thursday: Steak Quesadillas (using left over steak from Monday), Baked Tortilla Chips and Avocado-Mango Salsa (All Recipes)Corn on the Cob and Chocolate Pudding Pie w/Fresh Whipped Cream

Friday: Leftovers (no children were home so we didn't feel it necessary to cook for just us two!)

Saturday: Went to a Birthday Party Dinner! No cooking!

Sunday: Ground Beef Tacos (Homesick Texan) with leftover Avocado Mango Salsa & Chili Beans

Our favorite this week (all around family census)was... the Grilled Ortega Chile w/Monterey Jack Burgers and Napa Cabbage Salad!

(Yeah, that would be the hubby's rare burger, NOT how I like mine!)

We received a brown lunch bag full of fresh green chiles in our basket and didn't really know what to do with them all! So we roasted them on the BBQ and used some to put on Burgers made from fresh home grown beef topped with Monterey Jack Cheese. Put them on a crusty bread roll and mmmmm! They were so good!
Also, the Napa Cabbage Salad w/Buttermilk Dressing, a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, was a nice companion to the burgers and was more on the pickley side rather than the sweet side for a slaw-type salad. This is a good thing to us! I will use the recipe again!

If I would have offered it in the runnings, then the Whole Lemon Tartletts would have been picked. But I didn't think it was fair to count dessert. However, it was an awesome recipe from one of my favorite cooking sites Smitten Kitchen (you might have already noticed how much I like this site). The dough alone is heavenly. Using a whole lemon gives you these wonderful little candied bits of lemon peel in the curd. It was very very good!

The Chicken Curry was my personal fave. I just couldn't get enough!

And the kids devoured all the Sauteed Patty Pan Squash. We hope to get some more of that sometime soon!

After snacking on the grapes, plums, nectarines and bananas, we are pretty close to finishing off the last of everything! We get our co-op basket every other weekend. Now we have to wait another four days until we get the next one. I can't wait to see what we get and what we'll cook up next time!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Girly Birthday Present

My close friend Amy has a daughter just a month younger than my daughter. Actually, we were pregnant all three times at the same time, having our two eldest daughters two days apart and as she was getting ready to deliver her number three (a boy) I was finding out I was expecting my number three (a girl) as well!
So needless to say our children have all been friends for some time now.
Her middle child is turning eight, which in their religion means a Baptism Birthday.
I had a necklace charm I thought went well with the Baptism theme. I made a bead dangle in her Birthstone color to attach to it.

This Birthday girl also happens to be quite a girly girl. Since her room is done up in Shabby Chic, I made her a Shabby Chic Jewelry holder complete with vintage buttons.

Of coarse I needed to demonstrate how the jewelry holder worked. So I made a pair of earrings.

Then another, just because I was having fun.

And since no one was interrupting my quiet jewelry making time...

I went ahead and made another set in a blue I thought she'd like!

Hey, you gotta do what you like when you can! Even if you have to use cute girls having Birthdays as an excuse!