Sunday, January 31, 2010
I decided to group the recipes by ethnicity, loosely, which has some benefits. One is that I think it will be fun to get out the map and talk with the kids about the cultures that the food we are eating comes from. Another is that I will have less waste with ingredients because many will be repeated throughout the week, so I won't have to buy a whole bunch of something to only use half of it and then buy it again two weeks later because what I bought before has gone bad. However, we may be sick of rice this week, and tired of beans the next, and tired of tomatoes the next. Hopefully it will just be fun.
Here's the lineup for this week.
Week 1 - Asian Week
Monday: Asian Black Bean Soup
*Miniature Lemon Cheesecake Tarts for dessert
Tuesday: Applebee's Orange Chicken Skillet
Wednesday: Crock Pot Thai Curry
Thursday: Peanut Noodles
Friday: Korean Short Ribs
Here's the shopping list:
May Have On Hand:
rice wine vinegar
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
May Need To Buy:
8oz cream cheese
Betty Crocker Sunkist lemon bar mix
lemon or raspberry pie filling
1 cup chicken broth
3 cans black beans
13.5 oz can coconut milk
Thai red or green chili paste
short-grain, sweet, or "sushi" rice
almond rice pilaf
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4-5 boneless chicken thighs
8-10 flanken-style short ribs, thawed (thin cut, 1/4-1/2 inch thick), or boneless ribs
1 bunch green onions
1 garlic clove
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 large eggplant
1 large sweet potato
1 orange (or orange zest)
sugar snap peas
I go grocery shopping tomorrow morning. Oddly, this is often the most stressful part for me because it can be hard to find so many unfamiliar ingredients. Usually when I shop, it's pretty brainlessly. I have a beaten path through WalMart, and I know exactly where on each aisle to find what I usually buy.
But even though it is stressful, the shopping is also one of the things I missed the most after my November challenge was over. I don't do my challenge shopping at WalMart. I patronize local grocery stores because I know they have what I am looking for, and there are people who know what they are talking about working there. It became such an adventure to learn about new vegetables and cuts of meat, and I have a real love for the produce section at Lin's and the meat counter at Albertson's now.
So, wish me luck, and watch for the barrage of blog posts!
Friday, January 29, 2010
First, how I organize and use my recipes. This recipe box was a wedding gift, and I love it. The dividers are homemade from index cards and labels (I was poor and it was cheap and customizable). I predict that it will fill to capacity sometime in 2010, which means it took 9 years to fill it. It holds 4x6 recipe cards, and I only add a recipe when we've already proven it--it has to make the cut before it's in the box. Many recipes have been thrown out, too, when we've replaced them with something we love more. I'd say about 75% of the recipes in this box are printed off Allrecipes, and I've been using the site so long my recipes are in about 4 different formats as they've changed over the years. I continue to really love their site, especially the ratings and reviews of each recipe.
I love my recipe cards, but they do get pretty beat-up, stained, and smudged. Someday I intend to print fresh copies of all of them and laminate them. Because that may never happen, I especially love this magnetic recipe board my mother-in-law made for me this Christmas, that provides a place to put my cards to keep them visible and clean(er). I had a different one that I made, but I just love how sturdy and pretty this one is.
I do occasionally use a cookbook, too, though, and was having all kinds of trouble keeping them open while cooking, until I found that the easel the magnetic board sits in is a perfect solution for this:
Okay, now for the actual tools. There is no way I could bake without my KitchenAid. Also a wedding gift, it has withstood the test of time. You can probably see the black knobs are broken off, but it still works amazing for me. I use it mostly for baking: bread, cookies, batters, etc. For our homemade pizza, it's practically essential.
Yeah, doesn't look like a kitchen tool, eh? It so is. If you've ever been around Max for more than 10 minutes, you know there is no way I could make dinner without him being strapped in (okay, there is: Adam. He really makes it possible). He has a highchair, too, but this keeps him close and involved in what I'm doing, while keeping him from practicing his two favorite pasttimes: loudly emptying everything in the lower drawers and cupboards (tripping Mom repeatedly in the process), and sneaking behind and around Mom to touch the pans on the stove. It's also awesome for snacks because there is less surface to "wash," I can just wipe and go.
So, you saw mine . . . what are your favorite kitchen tools?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
It was a rainy day, too wet to go outside.
Mommy said, "Let's make
cupcakes! What color do you want?"
"Pink!" I said. "Pink, pink, pink!"
Monday, January 25, 2010
But even still, I nursed babies all through the night. And I have woken up to clean up blowout diapers and puke on the carpet. I know tired. It's not even just the nighttime stuff. It's all the millions of little things all day that you do for everyone but yourself: wiping noses, pouring cereal, fixing "owies," etc, etc. The brain cells that are sucked from you as you play Ponies or Legos for hours, sing songs and talk incessantly to build language skills in your baby, or painstakingly decipher what your toddler is so emphatically trying to tell you. It's knowing how important the job you are doing is even as it is the most tedious, frustrating, exhausting thing you've ever done.
I've been thinking about it a lot (as I mentioned in this post). Apparently I'm not the only one. I stumbled across this post at Diapers and Divinity while reading this post at Chocolate on My Cranium, and they both resonated with the scripture that's been bouncing around in my head since that night that I wrote about my New Year's Resolutions: Doctrine and Covenants 64:33 "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
How to be not weary? I'm don't know exactly, but I'm pretty sure it requires more prayer and faith than I've been having lately. In any case, I am "laying the foundation of a great work." At the very least (which may be my best for now) I can keep plugging along, hanging in there. After all, "out of small things proceedeth that which is great." I can bless my family even if I am imperfect. And, as my grandpa used to say, "I can sleep when I'm dead." Or maybe he said, "I was born tired." Hmmmm . . . either way, it's past my bedtime.
1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp butter, melted
2-4 tbsp milk
1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture, mix until smooth. Add milk until desired consistency.
2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying ban over medium high heat. Ladle the batter onto the griddle, brown on both sides and serve hot.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat ingredients with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Dollop on top of pancakes piled with raspberries.
Just the basic recipe. I thought about talking Katie and her friend, Gabe, into making something a bit more complex (scotcheroos), but I thought for a kid project, simple is good. Plus, it's what they wanted.This was dang yummy. I made giant rolls, so I got half the amount listed. And, a word of caution if you try to make this recipe, you have to use a whole lot more than 6 cups of flour. More like 10 cups. But they are so great with cream cheese frosting:
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp orange juice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
1 10oz can enchilada sauce
1 med onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped green chili peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
approx. 20 oz chicken broth (I just poured it from a big box until it felt right)
1 can black beans, drained
10oz frozen corn
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (I didn't have any, I just think it would be good)
Put all ingredients in crockpot, stir. Cook 8 hours on low. One hour before serving, shred chicken an return to crockpot. Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese.
We had this last night for Sunday dinner. I love crockpot dinners on Sunday! It's so nice to come home to your house smelling yummy! Adam said he preferred my Taco Soup, but I still thought it was good and an alternative to the same old thing.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Katie: "I have tried onions before. They are terrible!" exclaimed with a wrinkled nose, hands on hips and attitude.
Max: "blowing kisses"--holding his hand out for me to kiss
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
- Five nights of every week in February I will cook dinner for my family, take pictures of each dinner and blog about it. The recipes used can be new to us, either from you or my new cookbooks (birthday gifts), or from our collection, but I will cook at least two new recipes each week (more if I get enough recipes from you-*update: I already have enough to do 3 new recipes a week!*).
- You may submit as many recipes as you wish, but they must be dinner recipes, and their ingredients must be readily available in my relatively small town. I will include recipes or links to recipes in each blog post. I promise to follow the directions as you give them in the recipe. I start cooking February 1, so get them to me with enough time to shop before I cook.
- I will give credit to you in my blog post, I'll even link to your blog or site if you ask. You may link away if you so choose.
- Our family will rate each recipe by the thumb system: Thumbs up, thumbs medium, or thumbs down. (Still deciding whether or not I'll publish that on the blog for each recipe--let me know if you don't want me to rate your recipe publicly.) The top three dinner submissions will receive a prize! (Not sure yet what it will be, but I'll come up with something great, at least something real this time! I'll pick something I would want.)
Sound like fun? Well, it does to me, we'll see how much of a cooking mood you all are in . . . . Send your recipes to rachel at ellishome dot org. I can hardly wait to see what's been cooking at your house!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
See, Pete and Colleen are visiting, which is so much fun. You know those friends that have known you long enough that you don't have to explain everything with a whole story? You can quote a movie line and everyone laughs because you all watched it together almost a decade ago (or more), and it was funny then, so it still is. I love that. Having friends visiting is also a perfect excuse to make food, and lots of it, and not just hamburger gravy, but to break out that roast that you froze, waiting for an occasion to make it. Yeah, that's what we did, actually.
First, we made Awesome Pot Roast.
My modifications to the recipe:
I dip the meat in flour and sear it in a pan before putting it into the crock pot. (And, obviously, I use a crock pot liner. This time I forgot until everything was in the crock pot and I literally dumped it into the liner, washed the pot and put it all back in. It was so worth it, I didn't even have to rinse the pot after dinner.) This roast was half-size, so I halved everything, and I added beef bouillon to the water to make beef broth. When it was done cooking, I picked up the liner and just snipped it and let it pour through a strainer into a sauce pan, then brought the strained drippings to a boil. I added about two tablespoons cornstarch and a teaspoon or two of beef bouillon to a quarter cup of cold water and mixed it into the drippings
We also had green beans and plain ol' mashed potatoes:
And what's Sunday dinner without bread? I was planning to make rolls from scratch, but was running short on time. So, I pulled out my backup Rhoades rolls, only to find I only had a dozen. (Not nearly enough for our now-large families.) And I couldn't do my other backup, because I only had a dozen Pillsbury bread sticks. So, I did both. I made Italian-Style Rosettes with the bread sticks. I didn't post a picture when I made them before, so here you go:
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
They are super easy and you start them the night before, so there is no time cooking spent away from Christmas morning festivities. Although, I do usually make scrambled eggs to go with them, because between sticky buns and stocking candy, it's a lot of sugar to start your day with.
18 Rhoades rolls
1/2 pkg cook & serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
(optional: pecans and cinnamon)
Grease bunt pan. Sprinkle pecans in the bottom of the pan (if using), then arrange rolls around the bottom of the pan. Layer the remaining ingredients as follows: pudding mix, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and raise overnight. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
After breakfast we move on to opening gifts from each other. Here are the highlights:
Isaiah's fave: DS Lite we bought used from EBay (He'd been assured for months that a DS was really expensive and a really big gift for a 6-year-old, I think he had resigned himself to the fact that it wasn't a possibility--do you see the surprise/excitement?!)
Max's fave: toddler slide (No pics of him enjoying it on Christmas, he was a bit pukey that day. However, he quickly mastered climbing up and sliding down face-first on his stomach!)
The Birth of Christ
And, of course, the holiday season is all about family.
Friday, January 1, 2010
I've spent a lot of time this past week reading. I received some books as gifts, and being as sick as I was, reading was about all I could do. I think I can count it as a blessing in disguise that I wasn't able to do anything else as I realize I have nearly finished every written thing I was given (representing hundreds, if not thousands of pages), because there were some really valuable things presented to me in those pages.
One of those has addressed the discontent I've been feeling as a mother and wife. Now don't get me wrong, I know I am just about the most blessed woman on the earth to have Adam and our beautiful children, and the most important job in the world caring for them. But our generation of girls was done a disservice when we were hammered with the idea that we could become anything we wanted when we grew up: we all got the idea that the age-old infinitely important and essential job of "Mother" was something to avoid. That it wasn't important or valued at all. How on earth am I supposed to feel fulfillment when there are no promotions, bonuses, awards, or even a salary involved?
Of course, the answer is God. Now if you have a pretty good relationship with God, it doesn't matter what anyone says, you know who you are and what your role is. You will feel fulfilled digging ditches or cleaning toilets, or even changing diapers and wiping noses.
That is the essential puzzle piece I've been missing for so long. Of course, God is in my life, but I haven't had a close, meaningful relationship with Him in years. I've been so frustrated myself and my own failings that I gave up trying to do the things that brought me close to Him. But how could I feel His approval with the choices I've made in my life, the things I am doing, if I don't invite Him to comment?
Just now, I was reading from a book Shelli gave me, Contentment: Inspiring Insights for LDS Mothers by Maria Covey Cole, and I came across a familiar quote by Richard G. Scott that has actually struck me with meaning before: "It is easy to forget the fundamental purpose of life. Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill life with 'good things' so there is no room for the essential ones."
This is where I remembered an object lesson I gave, I think in Relief Society when I was in the college married ward or maybe it was in Young Women, where I filled a jar with different things: sugar, beans, pasta. When you fill the jar with the sugar first, nothing else fits in the jar. But when you fill it with the pasta first, the beans and the sugar, trickle down in between, finding their proper place.
And I knew what my New Year's Resolutions needed to be.
Focus on the essential things:
1. Return to regular personal prayer and scripture study.
2. Peacefully care for my family.
3. Seek ways to give service to others through Church callings and personal friendships.
I feel like I need to clarify my #2 because written down it seems really general, but I have a specific idea in my head for what that will look like. I'm thinking of the mundane, necessary things like feeding, clothing, teaching, and cleaning up after my family. But finding a peace in doing it, instead of beating myself over the head about trying to do it perfectly. Someone wise recently told me that in all these things is some of our most important spiritual work. Because, "all things unto me are spiritual" (D&C 29:34).
So, here's to a peaceful 2010 focused on what's most important.
Things I've learned over the last two weeks:
1. The best way to clean up a pop tart that has been crushed and scattered over the carpet: call the dog in to eat it.
2. You can entertain a toddler by laying on the floor next to him, moaning, for approximately 42.5 seconds. (Just long enough for the other parent to escape to another room to answer a business phone call.)
3. Christmas decorations start to self-destruct (okay, with a little help from a couple of tiny beings) if left up too long after Christmas. (Luckily, I found and reassembled everything that was missing!)
4. There are at least 4 different ways for a house to smell bad when its occupants are sick.
5. You can be well for the requisite 24 hours (or even 48 hours) after a stomach bug to return back to public and life in general, only to relapse even more violently than ever when you least expect it.
I had great intentions of doing a month-long challenge of some kind for January. I was so pumped (just wait, you'll love my ideas!), but here it is Jan. 1, and I am still recuperating. So, we'll see. But for now, we're just still hanging on . . .