Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dismal Dinner

So sorry, I don't have the previously promised dinenr post. I made a maple-mustard pork tenderloin that really was a bit of a bummer. And my thoughts earlier about getting Abigail to eat a good dinner were well-foiled this evening by her expression of distaste at everything on her plate. And this was after I offered her a piece of candy and she looked at me in horror- "Mommy, I can't eat that! It's bad for my teeth!" Ah well. It will be a learning process.

So it was a rather uneventful day. I went to a Pampered Chef party tonight- they're getting a little old. I have most everything that I want from Pampered Chef, so they best come out with something new soon. I do like their Simple Additions dishes though, they are very clean looking, and I love dishes, so I can continue to collect those.

And this evening I think we determined that we are going to stay home for Easter this year. We were kind of waiting to see how our finances turned out before making any decisions about vacations, but we were thinking about going to North Carolina. Andy's brother and sister-in-law live in the Durham area, and we were serioulsy thinking about travelling there for Easter. However, reality has decided that instead we really do need to purchase a truck for Andy to get back and forth to work, so we will likely stay home this year. It will work out for the best though, this year Abigail only has two days off of school for Easter break, so next year will be a whole week off. We can surely make a vacation of it next year. Nothing like going South. We've never been to North Carolina, so hopefully things will work out for next year. Thanks John and Jen for inviting us though.

So that's it for tonight. The Amazing Race is on as I write this, so I must get back to my TV viewing. I'm so psyched for The Race to be back, and in it's original format. Some of th eteams are already annoying though, so hopefully they go soom. :-)

Have you seen this blog?

If you haven't, you surely need to. The Vegan Lunchbox is amazing. I cannot believe the things she packs for her son every day for school. And the amazing part? He EATS it. He DEVOURS it. Incredible. When I look at her blog, I think that I must be doing something wrong. I'm not talking about Veganism or Vegetarianism, I'm talking about the variety of foods her son will happily eat. And about the creative way she packs his lunch every day. I no longer pack a lunch for Abigail, she desperately wanted hot lunch, so she gets that now, but I can certainly try some new things on the weekends, and for dinner in general. Last night was a step I think. I don't think Abigail would have even wanted to taste the salisbury steaks last night if she hadn't helped make them, and she ate a lot!

I have this feeling that with her diet I need to strike now while the iron is hot. All the discussion at school over the last week about healthy eating and teeth really does have her paying attention to what she eats. Usually after school she has a healthy snack. And after her healthy snack she may have a small treat (usually a granola bar or fruit snacks). But yesterday she had her healthy snack (veggies and dip) and then asked for yogurt with graham cracker sticks for dipping. That request was accompanied by "Is it a healthy snack?" Wow. So while her awareness of healthy foods is at a hightened level, I am going to sweep in and change some things up on her. She's been eating waffles for breakfast. I am not complaining about the frozen waffle. She is not a big breakfast person, and if she will down two Eggo's before going to school, I at least know she is not sitting in class starving. But what I can change is the syrup on top. Tomorrow I am going to offer her applesauce as a topping, or some frozen berries pureed. We'll see what she chooses.

And tonights dinner of crockpot chicken stew has also changed I'm afraid. I know she won't eat that. So I am going to come up with something different. All I know for sure is that it will involve sweet potatoes of some kind. And since accoridng to Andy I have nothing better to do, I can surely spend my days dreaming up things for my children to eat. Because Zander loves doing what his sister does. And if she will eat that pile of brown rice on her plate, it must be good, so he will eat it too.

And with that, I will sign off and go eat my daily dose of bon-bons, because that is, after all, what stay-at-home moms do all day. ;-) I will be back later with a dinner report if I get a chance.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Kid Approved and Andy Approved

Today when Abigail came home from school, she walked in, and looked a little sad. I asked her how her day was, and she burst into instant tears. It took a few sobs before she could get out what had happened, but I had to laugh when she finally got it out. "Mrs. Schulz told me I can't have Coke anymore. Or lots of things I like to eat." LOL! They are studying teeth this week in school, and they were told today that those things are bad for their teeth. Now Abigail and Zander are not soda kids, it is a special treat for them. If they have it once a week that would be saying they have it a lot. So Abigail and I sat down and I had to explain the difference between someone who drinks a lot of soda, and Abigail who only has it every once in a while. I think she understood, but I decided that she needed to help me with tonight's dinner.

Together we prepared a recipe from Eating Well magazine. A magazine I am getting to really enjoy. It is very informative, and I enjoy reading it. But this was my first recipe attempt from them. Asian "Salisbury" Steaks were very simple to make. Abigail had a good time helping me mix everything together, although she didn't want to help make the patties, she is so funny about getting her hands dirty. I made some brown rice and California Vegetables to complement the dish. It was an instant hit. Abigail enjoyed it, Zander seemed to enjoy it, and Andy gave it an enthusiastic make again. So we will definitely make again.

I did change the recipe up a bit form the original, but not too much. The magazine suggested serving it on a bed of sauteed watercress. That is just odd, so I eliminated that, and for the sauce I omitted a Japanese rice wine and used chicken stock instead. I was impressed at how much flavor was in this entree. There really wasn't much to it. So I am thrilled that it was a winner. Other than the rice, this was thrown together and on the table in about 20 minutes, so it is definitely a quick busy night meal. If you would like to see the original recipe, you can check it out on Eating Well's website. I have my version posted on the Recipe Trove, and you can find that one there.

Random Thoughts Today

I'm sure I will be back later to post something yummy. I just felt like posting on this fine Monday morning. I'm in a very peculiar place today, and it feels good. I am in the wierd position of not having any obligations to anyone other than myself and my kids. I am not in the middle of planning a big holiday event, I am not planning to cater a wedding for 100 people, I'm not beholden to anyone for my time. It's a place I haven't been for awhile. For anyone who was interested, a few weeks ago I was in a serious dilemma over whether or not to accept a job offer. Be assured averyone, I am not taking the job. I don't know why I would be doing it, and I don't want to spend time away from my kids. This last week I also did something unexpected. I officially resigned from my Assistant position for the High School musical. So they are going to have to find a new seamstress and set dresser. And I feel REALLY good about that decision. Andy still might be involved, but I won't be. No more stress for me. The only obligation I have right now is to church. And that's a little obligation. I can handle cleaning a building at my leisure for a few hours a week. So what am I to do with myself?

Well, other than the obvious of spending as much quality time with my kids as possible, and playing in the kitchen, I'm just not sure what is going to occupy my time for the next several weeks. I have several ideas floating around inside my head, I'm just not sure if the timing is right for some of them. So it will be a fun few weeks. I will likely focus a little more on my blogging. I really enjoy the daily conversations with myself, but there is so much more I could do with my blog. You may see a few changes coming up. One for sure change is that I am going to participate in a weekly event called "Weigh In Wednesday." Weigh In Wednesday is really a day of the week set aside for reflection. Like most people, I feel I could stand to lose a few pounds. Childbearing has not been as kind to me as I would have liked, and I would like to shrink a pants size or two. Wednesday will be the day that I discuss my diet and excercise (or lack thereof) and check in to see how I am doing on my goals. This Wednesday will be my first post on that subject, and I will share my personal goals, my plan, and my point of view on dieting in general.

Another goal is to do better in my weekly menu planning. Things have been a little hectic around here, and my planning has not gone so well. Careful tracking of expenses the last two months shows that we are spending way too much on our food budget. By being more careful with my menu planning, I can easily trim that down, and I intend to do that. Without getting into the dollar figures, looking at our grocery bill for January, you would think that we had been dining daily on filet mignon, fresh seafood, and rack of lamb. :-o Hopefully tightening my fist will not result in too much dissatisfaction around here. Because it would be nice to be able to occassionally dine on the aforementioned filet mignon, fresh seafood, and rack of lamb.

So to start of this week, I will share our likely menu plan for the week. I really do have it easy. Abigail likes frozen waffles for breakfast before school. Zander likes cereal. Check. Abigail has school lunch, Zander really just picks at fruit, cheese, and sausage. Andy likes luncheon meat and cheese sandwiches. Check. So my big menu plan is strictly the dinner hour every week. I'm sure if I set some kind of order to lunch time, it would help budget wise, but I prefer to focus my energy ont he family meal of the day. Here is this week as it stands right now:

Monday: Asian Salisbury Steaks, Brown Rice, and Chopped Salad

Tuesday: Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew, Corn, and Applesauce

Wednesday: Mustard Maple Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Red Potatoes, Broccoli and Tomatoes

Thursday: Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake, Mixed Vegetables, Pineapple

Friday: Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday: Out to dinner

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Celery and The VRC

When I saw this week that Alysha had chosen Mardi Gras as the theme for this weeks VRC (Virtual Recipe Club), I knew what I had to submit. The idea was to contribute something that was from the city of New Orleans. There are so many things to choose from. Beignets, Okra, and Gumbo immediately come to mind. But wait! I do posesss in my repertoire an authentic award winning Muffuletta Burger, perhaps that would be my choice this week. Oh no. This week I chose to submit the recipe that Andy requests the most, yet seldom receives. There is nothing on the planet like Jambalaya. Such a simple dish, but so complex in flavor. It us comforting and warming, and perfect for a night at home. And on the bonus side, it really is a dish to use up those odds and ends laying around. For me, this was a no-brainer. I still have celery, tomatoes, and peppers screaming to be used. And fortunately, our butcher was running a special on authentic Lousiana Style Andouille Sausage. Seriously, the food of the Gods. When I informed Andy I was making this without shrimp tonight, he looked so crestfallen, I had to acquiesce and run to pick some up. So here we have it, Jambalaya in all its glory and splendor.

This particular recipe hails from that oh-so famous King of Cajun cuisine, Emeril Lagasse. Regardless of what you may think of his show and his increasingly annoying schtick, the man knows his stuff. Now I will say that the recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of his Original Essence. I have tried to make this jambalaya with other seasonings, and they just don't cut it. I don't use his Essence much anymore myself, but this recipe alone is worth the 3 bucks for the bottle. Put it in your freezer and pull it out just for this recipe. Trust me on this. The only change I have made to his recipe, is that the one I originally pulled off of Emeril:Live called for Chorizo sausage. A good sausage, in and of itself. But andouille is soooo wonderful if it is made right. It just tastes like Louisiana. It has so much flavor packed into one tiny sausage, and it finishes with that cajun heat that makes every bite even better than the last. So you could use chorizo if you can't find andouille.

Tonight to accompany, I also tried my hand at finishing off my celery challenge with a recipe found here. Celery and Apple Salad is a great way to use up some celery lurking around. All the flavors mingle together perfectly, and this is good enough to be company worthy. The only change I made was that I didn't have any walnuts, so I added a handful of craisins instead. And although the craisins are a tasty addition, I can taste the walnuts when I taste the salad, and next time they will be added. And there will be a next time. Thanks Alanna!

And now for something new. Today I spent some time creating a new blog to post just my recipes for easy searching. If you look over on the sidebar, you will see a link to Treasure Trove. That is where I will be posting my recipes from now on. Eventually I hope to go back and put all of my recipes from Tummy Treasure on there, but that is a daunting project, so I will just go forward for now. I will post a link for each recipe for all of you for easy look-up. Hopefully everything will work out okay. And please let me know if it doesn't!

Tonight's recipe: Jambalaya

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Such High Hopes

I really had high hopes for this dish. One of my favorite FoodTV chefs to watch is Mario Batali, and this was my first attempt at cooking out of his new book, Molto Italiano. While it certainly won't be the last recipe out of the book, it was a disappointing start. Stuffed Celery or Sedani Ripieni is prepared in a simple Roman manner. The celery is first blanched and then two pieces of celery hold a meatball in between them. This assembly is fried and then braised to completion in a simple tomato sauce. It was a little time consuming to make, although there are certainly steps that could be done ahead. But for the time it took, it just didn't have the Wow factor I so desperately wanted out of the dish. The preparation was unique, and it really smelled good cooking. Then came the tasting.

That first bite I made sure I had some of everything on my fork. A piece of celery, the meatball, the breading, and tomato sauce. I popped it in my mouth and waited to be wowed. It just wasn't there. There was a serious lack of depth to the meatball itself, and that translated to the celery that surrounded it. What it did have was a freshness. You could taste each individual element, and the tomato sauce was bright and refreshing. If I were to make this again, first of all, I would cook the celery in a broth or stock for added flavor. Then I would add garlic and basil to the meatball, as well as seasoning to the dredging flour. I think all those elements could be tinkered with. I'm not entirely sure I'll pull this recipe out again, but it certainly gets points for uniqueness, and it used a whole bunch of celery- so I'm down to 2 left, and one more dish for my challenge- watch for that tomorrow night. Until then, I will leave you with the recipe for Stuffed Celery courtesy of Mario Batali. I served it with cheese tortellini to soak up some of the excess sauce and a simple chopped salad. Overall, it was a nice dinner, and the celery was surprisingly filling. If you look closely in the picture you can see the meatball being flanked by the two pieces of celery.

Stuffed Celery
makes 4 servings
1 bunch celery hearts
1 slice day old bread, soaked in 1/4 cup milk and squeezed dry.
1 pound lean ground beef
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 3 TBS olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes
1. Separate the celery stalks and remove the stringy fibers with a peelr or paring knife. Cut into thirty-two 2 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Put the celery in a medium saucepan, add 1 teaspoon salt and water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.
3. Place the soaked bread in a medium bowl. Add the beef, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, amd 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and mix well to combine. Shape into 16 small balls.
4. Put 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl. Place 1 meatball between 2 pieces of celery and press so that they hold together. Roll in the flour and lay on a tray. Repeat with the remaining celery and meatballs.
5. In a small bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs with a pinch of salt. Put the remaining 1/2 cup flour in another small bowl. Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until very hot. Dip each piece of celery in the beaten eggs, letting the excess drop off, then dredge in the flour and place in the hot oil. Fry, turning occassionally, until golden on all sides.
6. Transfer the celery to a large skillet that holds it in a single layer. Add the garlic, tomatoes, remaining 3 TBS olive oil, remaining TBS of parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Place over medium heat and cook, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
I'm editing to add that I figured out how to fix the celery so that it would be great. I plan to make this again, only instead of making the meatball mixture for the center, I plan to use Italian sausage. I think it would be great then. So it's just a thought.

The Invention of Deconstruction

Recently, there was a fad. To my knowledge, it is in the process of fading, but still a presence nontheless. That fad has simply been known as Deconstruction. The basics of deconstruction are this: you take a recipe we all know and love, take the individual components apart and serve separately. For example, a deconstructed ice cream sundae. A shot glass of hot fudge, a bowl of maraschino cherries, a hill of chopped peanuts, and a healthy dollop of whipped cream surround a plain scoop of vanilla ice cream. And if you order this out, the deconstructed option almost always costs more than its fully constructed counterpart. A unique twist on plating to be sure, but not exactly my cup of tea. But where exactly did this originate? Food writers will likely say that the trend started in a tapas bar in Spain, or in a chic restaurant in Chicago. Perhaps the names Adrian Ferra or El Bulli will come up in a conversation on the origination of deconstruction. But who REALLY started it?

I am here today to tell you that the trend of deconstruction did not, in fact, come from the brain of a foodie genius. But rather, from a two year old child. This morning Zander requested one of his usuals, and I just gave it to him, but then I re-thought what I was giving him. I am certain that somewhere a chef was serving his 2 year old child a dish like chicken casserole, loaded with good stuff. And that child proceeded to take it apart and eat each component separately. And then that chef looked at that child, and thought of a way to make money. Deconstruction was born.

So what exactly inspired this mornings post, this mornings moment of revelation? Why it could only be the humble peanut butter and jelly sandwich, deconstructed, of course.

Zander frequently eats like this. He is a good eater, he just prefers his meals in their individual parts. Abigail is somewhat the same way. Casseroles don't fly at my house. Soups are iffy. Most often, Zander will be seen picking out individual pieces of meat, veggies, noodles, or spoons of broth. But never all at once. Pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream must not be piled all together. The strawberries get eaten first, and if they are on top of the pancakes, it makes them yucky. And the whipped cream is an event and a rarity all by itself, why cloud that by adding a bit of strawberry or a crumb of pancake. The only food I can think of that doesn't get deconstructed first is salad. And even that...they may not take the individual pieces out, but there is a pecking order. The cucumbers get eaten first, followed by tomatoes, then the lettuce. Any remaining veggies will be picked off after that. The PB&J is eaten by Zander with a spoon. First a spoon of peanut butter, then a spoon of jelly, and then the slice of bread. occasionally he will request one of the two to be smeared on the bread, creating what he calls "A Folder" folded only into a triangle. But most often, it's individual. Gotta love that. My son is a genius.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More Wedding Pictures

Here comes the bride...No, actually, she walked in to the theme from braveheart. Here are a few more pictures from the wedding. This one is of actual people, not just the food. :-)

A Pair of Princesses here. I know who my favorite one is...

Here is the rest of the wedding party.

And here is my family! (Minus the kids) The back row from left to right is Andy, Ben, Cody, Caleb, and John(who will be family soon). The front row is me, Belle, Rachel, Jenn, and Lizzie. Whew. Ben, Caleb, Rachel, and Liz are my siblings, yeah, it was crazy growing up. It's extra crazy that my baby sisters have found luv. Just crazy!!! Maybe we'll hear the pitter-patter of little feet from all of them at once? That would be fun. Abigail, Zander, and Kara want more cousins!!Lol.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sorry 'Bout That

So sorry if you tuned in here to find out what happened to my celery last night. As it turned out, I spent yet another day with Zander not feeling well, and we spent the day watching Thomas the Tank Engine ALL DAY. So Andy brought home some Buffalo Wild Wings and we had a take-out night last night.

Can't say that I'll make any promises to get on that celery project today either though. My thoughtful son shared with me, and I'm not feeling so hot right now. It is a long time until dinner time, but right now I'm thinking it will likely be a soup night. And it won't be celery soup, that's for sure. If I get a chance I will be back later, if not, well, this will have to hold you over.

How's that for a real princess?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Delicious Leftovers

Tonight my attention shifted away from the celery momentarily to focus on the dozens of cherry tomatoes I have sitting around. I chose a very simple recipe from Vegetarian Express by Nava Atlas. It's really more procedure than recipe, but Parmesan Broiled Cherry Tomatoes turned out very tasty. I sliced the tomatoes in half and laid them cut side up in a baking dish. A sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil provided the base for a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. I broiled until the cheese was toasty.

The result was a delicious side dish that both Andy and I enjoyed. We may have this again later this week as we continue to pick away at the mounds of food sitting around the house. I served them alongside simply baked chicken breasts and roasted broccoli. A simple supper, but a grand one after days of mac-n-cheese and McDonald's. Tomorrow night I will return to the world of celery. Hopefully it will turn out better than today's lunch.

Okay folks, trying something new here, please accept my apologies as I try and work out a few things over the next few days- just trying to keep up with the technology. :-)

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Imagine that...It tastes like...Celery.

Well, the first attempt at celery was not a home run. Today I turned to a cookbook called 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles. The few recipes I have made out of this book have been pretty good, so I turned to the soup chapter. Bell Pepper-Celery Soup looked simple enough to make for a quick lunch, and sounded intriguing to me. So I quickly chopped up my veggies and got my soup simmering. When it was ready I added a few shavings of Dubliner Cheese and some fresh parsley, and dug in my spoon. It tasted like celery. With a touch of heat from the jalapeno. But mostly, celery. I think I also made an error in using my food processor instead of the immersion blender, as the veggies were not pureed completely, rather they still had some texture. It was just odd. I do think it would make a good palate cleanser for a multi-course meal. But other than that, it really didn't rattle my bones. And since it only used a few stalks of celery anyway, it really was a bit of a bummer. If someone would like to see the recipe, I will be happy to post it for you, just let me know. But basically it is bell pepper, celery, onions, jalapeno, veggie stock, and seasoning.

Hopefully tomorrow's celery journey will prove more fruitful as I turn to one of my favorite food icons, Mario Batali for inspiration. Come back tomorrow for the results of that. Today I get to check soup off of my celery list. I still have a main course and a salad up my sleeve, and possibly more after that, depending how tomorrow goes. Mom has graciously accepted my offer of some produce, so I will have a little help with consumption. On tap for tonight will be a unique use for some of the many cherry tomatoes. If I get a chance, I will be back tonight to share the simple treatment.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Time for a challenge!

So life resumed normalcy today. Almost. It mostly was a lazy day for all of us. Every once in a while Andy or I would head into the kitchen or garage and clean a little something up. But mostly it's just been a relaxing day. As we were taking inventory of the leftover things from the wedding, it occurred to me that it's been a while since I did an Iron Chef Challenge. I did a couple of them before Thnaksgiving, but never got back to it. So this week's challenge is Battle Celery.

I use celery a lot. But it is never the star. This week I plan to change that, as I have four bunches sitting in my basement fridge. It will be an additional bonus if I can include some of the 6 pounds of cherry tomatoes as well. Or possibly some of the 5 jars of banana pepper rings. Or the #10 can of black olives. Or some of the 2 jumbo packages of broccoli flowerets. Yeah. I have a lot of miscellaneous leftovers, and I don't want them to go to waste.
So this week will be a challenge for me, I think. As well as for Andy. When I casually mentioned that I should do an Iron Chef Celery, he didn't look particularily thrilled. So tonight I will spend some time perusing soem cookbooks, magazines, and web pages, looking for inspiration. I am betting that if nothing else Alanna at A Veggie Venture will have something for me to draw from. Hopefully you will hear from me tomorrow in the first installment of battle celery. My goal is to make a minimum of 3 dishes that feature celery. So we'll see...

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Well, they did it. :-) Rachel and Cody are now married. I am so unbelievably happy for them. It truly was a joyous occasion. I only was weepy a little bit today. Well, maybe a lot, but it was happy weepy. I had seen Rachel in her wedding dress before, but when I walked in and saw her getting ready today, I just started blubbering. Then Lizzie started blubbering too...then Rachie. Ah well. Kleenex was shared by all. :-) And now they are married. And I am EXHAUSTED.

I know this is the part you've been waiting for. And yes, I did it. I successfully catered a wedding. I made waaaay too much food, but other than that, it was very well received, and I feel great about that. I'll tell you though, I could not have done it without Andy that's for sure. He's spent so much time over the last two days either helping me, or taking care of something with the kids so I could get something done. He was just wonderful. But would I do it again? I don't know. I obviously have alot to learn about quantity. I was so worried about not having enough food for everyone. Lol. Silly me. I think that if I had a full kitchen with walk-in cooler at my disposal, I might think about a career in the catering business. I love to cook, and I love feeding people. The expressions on everyone's face was sheer delight to me. Every time someone complimented me, they would just go on about how much they enjoyed the meal, and that's what it was all about. It was about that uncle coming back for the third piece of cake or the delight on a little girl's face as she pulled a fruit skewer out. That was why I did it today. I do know that I have my limits, but I think I would do it again if asked...

And with that, I will leave you with a series of pictures. And of course, they are all pictures of the food. I used my other camera (the one with real film) for the wedding pictures, so you'll have to wait for those. But here is my wedding buffet, well part of it actually. The several crock pots did not get pictures taken, and the cheese and cracker station isn't on here either, but that's okay.

Kay, now I am off to find myself a big glass of wine, and I fully intend to curl up on the couch and watch the Olympics tonight. Have a great weekend, and congratulations Rachel and Cody!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Happy Cheese Sandwich Day!

Well, it has been a very long and exhausting day. Preparing food for a wedding is a lot of work. Yikes. But I did make fantastic progress today. It helps that we are in the midst of a blizzard, so Andy was home from work to entertain the kids. I did very well today, tomorrow will be some of the more tedious food projects. Tomorrow I will be skewering the fruit and making the tortellini salad skewers. And of course, I will be taking the cake layers out of the freezer and proceeding with filling and decoration. Today my goal was to get as much done as possible during the day, because tonight is the men's free skate on the Olympics. And that is must see.

So today in honor of cheese sandwich day I made another grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. A simple sandwich, but still good. Today's version was on whole grain bread, and filled with ham, Irish Cheddar, red pepper strips, and green onions. Of course it was meltingly good. I also had a dollop of sour cream to dip it in. The sour cream is becoming a must have I think. I've always been a ketchup girl, but lately it's been the sour cream.

I'm afraid that's all for tonight. I am ready to collapse on the couch with a glass of wine. I am not sure if I will be back to post again until after Saturday. But I promise pictures from the wedding when I get a chance. I leave you with a picture of todays grilled cheese sandwich.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A truly wordly cheese sandwich

Today I also reviewed a new cheese on my Cheese Blog, so be sure and check that out. I just couldn't wait to try out my new cheese in a dish. And what better than a classic- the cheese sandwich. Well, maybe a little more than a cheese sandwich. But at it's core, I rpomise that was how it started.

A quick rifling through the fridge produced flour tortillas, a lone grilled chicken breast, and a carton of red-pepper hummus. Add to that my Dubliner cheese, and I thought that would be a great start. A quesadilla of sorts. I smeared the hummus on one tortilla, and laid sliced chicken breast strips on that. Hmm. A trip to the pantry resulted in a jar of fire-roasted red peppers, so a few strips topped the chicken. And finally a nice thick layer of sliced Dubliner cheese, followed by the second tortilla. I tossed this puppy into the broiler and turned to a dipping sauce.

I started with some sour cream, and added salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chopped scallion. It likely would have been great with a twist of lemon as well, but the scallion cream made me happy. So a little bit of Mexico, a little bit of Ireland, and a little bit of Hungary, and I had a cheese sandwich fit for any Olympian.

Two posts today!

I'm a little on the tired side. I did not sleep well, thinking of the busy week to come, and it is only shortly after noon and I have already had a busy day. Whew. But I am posting twice today because each topic deserves it's own post. So there you go.

This post is intended to introduce the newest member of my kitchen staff. I am pleased to welcome, and introduce to you, George:

George comes to us via UPS after a brief stay with Amazon.com. George is certain to be a huge help in the kitchen this week. He brings with him a full 9 cup capacity, a smaller work bowl, as well as slicing and dicing options. I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful dishes George can produce. He will be featured in the upcoming wedding festivities, so look for his all-star action then. :-)

Bess (KA Stand Mixer) is thrilled to have George join her on the kitchen counter. According to Bess, "I already sense chemistry. I suspect we will be a great team."

So do you know where the names of my kitchen appliances come from?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

No real new post tonight

Tonight I am busy baking wedding cake and watching the Olympics, but I just felt the need to post an update on the Cheese Blog. So if you haven't checked that out in a while, head on over and do so.

Why are you checking in here?

Just a very short and quick post this morning. I have much on my plate, and have yet another day full of shopping for the wedding ahead of me. I am finally onto the food shopping, I think, vs. the necessary items, so that is fantastic.

Anyway, since i will be posting very little over the next few days, I thought I should just mention that you should be doing something else anyway. The Winter Games are Open!! Get thee to a TV and watch the Games!! I love watching the Olympics, summer or winter, and the fact that NBC carries the games, and there is always something on one of their channels makes me a happy girl. So go watch. Watch the joy of young people from across the globe try to achieve their dreams. Ooh. Such exciting stuff.

I will leave you with a picture today. If I can't post about food, at the very least I can share a picture of Zander having his own happy moment.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


I don't know why I don't make this more often. I LOVE granola. Love it. I love it plain as a snack, I love it with a little milk for breakfast, I love it on ice cream. But most of all, I love homemade granola mixed with plain yogurt. The crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly nutty goodness melds perfectly with the tartness of a good plain yogurt. Depending on the granola I have, I also love a handful of fresh fruit tossed in. Bananas or blueberries come to mind specifically. So today when I saw a large bag of a dried Cherry-Berry blend, I knew I had to buy it and make granola with it.

I have seen my share of granola recipes. Some of them are really complicated, and the list of ingredients is huge. I like mine simple. My go to recipe is one by Kathleen Daelemans of Cooking Thin fame. I really enjoyed her show when it was on FoodTV. Occasionally I will catch it at an odd time, but mostly I think it is off the air, which is a shame because she has a fantastic approach to smart and healthy cooking. But I digress.

Her granola could not be easier, and you can add what you like to it. My favorite blend includes pecans and dried blueberries. But sometimes I will use walnuts, sometimes almonds, and the dried fruit options are endless. I'm sure if you wanted to you could add some shredded coconut, and occasionally I will add a pinch of cinnamon to the simple syrup. And while the simple syrup is made with water, I suppose you could use a fruit juice instead. Use orange juice and add dried cranberries. Or use apple juice and add some cinnamon and some dried apples. Use your imagination. So here is her recipe, use it and make it your own.

Crunchy Granola

1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups rolled oats
2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered almonds
dried fruit, if desired

Preheat oven to 275ยบ F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and reserve. Combine brown sugar and water in a 4-cup microwave proof glass measuring cup or bowl. Place in microwave on high for 5 minutes and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from microwave, add vanilla extract and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, and brown sugar syrup mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread the granola onto cookie sheets and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and crunchy. When the mixture comes out of the oven, it is still very pliable. You may choose to add in dried fruit as a finishing touch at this time. When granola has cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 6, 2006

The Great Wedding Countdown

Rachel and Cody's wedding is only 11 days away. I'm getting a little nervous. See, in an insane moment I offered to prepare the meal for their reception. I know. What was I thinking? Well, clearly, I wasn't thinking. So I will apologize in advance for the next two weeks. There will likely be very little new recipes and copious cooking coming from my kitchen. I do want to share the menu for the wedding at the moment. If you are reading this, and have a critique, comment, suggestion, whatever. Feel free to post a comment. I welcome any and all suggestions until the actual day of the wedding, so please share.

The wedding reception is a "Little Bites" menu. Mom Kranz (and Grandma) are providing hot shredded beef sandwiches and hot turkey sandwiches, and I am providing the little bites to accompany. Rachel is currently expecting 75 to attend, so I am planning on preparing food for 100, just to be safe for unexpected guests. Extras will go to Mom's house for the family the next day, so there isn't much worry for waste. Some of this may change yet, but this is currently what I am planning:

Imitation Crab Salad in Phyllo Cups
Crudite and Assorted Dips
Cheese/Ham/Sausage Platter
Olives and Pickles
Mini Meatballs in Sweet and Sour Sauce
Cocktail Shrimp with sauce
Fruit Skewers with raspberry dip
Chicken Satay Skewers
Hot artichoke spinach dip with sliced baguette for dunking
Deviled Eggs
Pesto Cheesecake
Individual Veggie Pizzas
Tortellini Skewers
One Bite Nachos
Canapes- Tuna with black olive, roast beef with herb butter, and mini reubens

I hope that is plenty. Beverages are being taken care of, and I will also be doing the cake. I might also provide crackers and spreads for that inbetween time when people are waiting for the meal to begin, but I'm not sure about that yet. The process should be fun. Assembling the platters will be a challenge, as well as dressing them up. I promise plenty of pictures from the actual event, and possibly the prep leading up to it. And as I said, any suggestions are welcome. :-)

Sunday, February 5, 2006

I feel like it's Thanksgiving...

I think I went a wee bit overboard tonight. :-) I started with the Coney Dogs, and those of course, were fantastic. Then I added a layered taco dip and a batch of Fiery Chipotle Baked Beans. Then I had a request for a Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip, so I had to add that. Then for some insane reason I decided that I needed to provide an alternative to the Coney Dogs and make meatballs in marinara for Meatball Hoagies. What was I thinking??? Then guests brought fruit and dip and gooey butter bars. Oh yum. We ate quite well tonight. And we had some new friends come over, and it was wonderful getting to know them a little better. Oh, and I forgot to mention the homemade egg rolls with plum dipping sauce that our friends brought over. I am feeling a trifle bit full. And I apologize, because I was so busy playing with all the kids, and feeding the kids, and feeding myself that my camera slipped my mind. And alas, I have no pictures to share this evening. And to top it all off, the Super Bowl game is kind of a dud this year. And The Rolling Stones? What were they thinking? I was so disappointed that they didn't do some kind of Motown mantage. Ah well. I need to share the chicken wing dip, because it really is fantastic. It isn't very pretty, the hot sauce separates while cooking, and it looks greasy, but it is 100% delicious. Everyone gobbled it up, and enjoyed thoroughly. Serve the dip with whatever strikes your fancy. Tortilla chips, potato chips, celery and carrot sticks, slices of baguette, crackers, etc.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts -- cooked and shredded
1 bottle hot sauce (use whole bottle or just half -- (12 ounce) if desired)
2 packages cream cheese -- (8 ounce) softened
1 bottle bleu cheese salad dressing (or can use ranch or 8 oz blue cheese and ranch) -- (16 ounce total)
2/3 cup chopped celery
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese or monterey jack and cheddar cheese blend

Preaheat oven top 350. In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken, celery and cheese. In a saucepan over med-low heat, combine cream cheese and salad dressing and stir until smooth. Stir in bottle of hot sauce ( don't have to use entire bottle if you want it milder). Pour heated mixture into bowl with chicken mixture. Stir to mix well. Pour into a 13" x 9" baking pan. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until bubbly----make sure top doesn't get browned. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm OR cold-----tastes best warm--- with celery or other veggies and crackers.

I was so worried-

Last night I could not blog. I tried to get on to Blogger last night for several hours, and every time I had a problem. I had not seen anything that indicated na outage, and I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen to my blog. I feel much better this morning. I'm sure Bloggers all over are feeling the exact same way. Whew.

Well, today is the Super Bowl, which for me is simply an occasion to make some fun food. My M.O. for the Super Bowl has always been to pay homage to the host city. I like to prepare a meal that centers on the host city. That presented a bit of a challenge this year. Detroit? As far as I knew there wasn't really a specific food that screamed Detroit. Turned out I was wrong. Detroit is famous for The Coney Dog. What is a Coney dog? It is a casing-less hot dog smothered in chili, onions, and mustard. The light bulb goes on- and we are having chili dogs for the big game today. I have a few go withs as well, but I will share those later.

This morniing I have to share my thought for yestreday's post that never was. I ofund a new food item, that to me, was fantastic. A friend had dropped them off one day, she'd picked them up by accident, and didn't care for them. I wasn't sure I'd care for them. But yesterday I finally opened the jar and took a bite. Wow. It was simply a perfect combination of flavors. Salty, briny, fresh, yet deep, and earthy,and slightly fruity. A sweetness that is offset by a subtle pungency. I am speaking of Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olives. Buy some. They are wonderful.

Well, that's all for this morning. I have two monkeys to get ready for church, a house to clean, and a Super Bowl game to prepare for. May Blissful Chewing and Swallowing vist your home today.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

My 200th Post!!

You Are Thai Food
Trendy yet complex.People seek you out - though they're not sure why.

SO maybe I could have come up with something a little more exciting than a Blogthing, but it is fun to see that I am Thai food. I am not super familiar with Thai food, but what I have had of it, I love, so it's fun to see I'm not something boring, like whole wheat toast or something. :-)

The 200th post means I get to be a little reminiscent today. When I first started this blog last year, it was really an effort to connect with my family. My sisters were blogging from college, and it was great to be able to check on them and see how life was going. I have family all over the country, and they are always wanting to know how Zander and Abigail are doing, so a weblog seemed the way to go. Little did I know what I would discover.

Enter the foodblog. I am a daily visitor at the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards. I love the magazine, and I love the people on the BB. They are so friendly, warm, and always eager to help out or try new things. Almost every day, I saw a post by a relatively new member- Missindi, with a blurb about checking her blog. Whatever, for some reason, that annoyed me at first. (Sorry Missindi ) Then one day I clicked on it, and I discovered a whole new world. I was so inspired. Not only by Sweetnicks, but by the dozens of foodblogs on her sidebar. I discovered a treasure trove of inspiration, and my blog changed accordingly. I found myself wanting to talk about last nights lasagna, or the next days cheesecake. And the wonderful thing was it gave me an outlet. Andy can only hear so much about the joys of a tube pan.

I have found an addiction, and I love it. :-) Almost all day long I have a little blog chatter running through my head- now what should i post about tonight, or what would Culinary In The Dessert do? Or, I hope this works out so I have something to blog about today. And food blogging is only getting more exciting! The Well Fed Network, and Very Good Things are both the beginning of something completely new and different in the world of blogging. While I can't promise to be as exciting as many of the food blogs are, I can promise to be real. I also can't promise the stunning photography or beautiful food writing, but I will continue to plug away. So many people around the world have inspired me in my humble little kitchen, that if I can inspire just one person through my blog, it will be well worth the effort. So I hope those who have travelled in my direction will continue to do so.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this wonderful journey. It can only continue to get better, and as long as we are able to avoid further "Peanut-up-the-nose" incidents, it will be a happy place at Tummy Treasure.