Whip It Up finale

So this will be my last recipe post for a while. I must admit, though, it's been nice to have something that I have to post about, since I haven't been so great at other posts. Hopefully with Tom back at work and life getting back to normal (what is that, anyway?) I'll make more time to blog. But I make no promises. :)

This week's theme was desserts, which is usually my favorite thing, but it seems like we've had dessert coming out our ears recently. Our ward is having a linger longer on Sunday and the RS is in charge of providing refreshments. They recommended cookies, which I figure is because they are easy to eat without plates, forks, etc. But, shocker, I'm not in a cookie mood.

Also, my banana man has been slacking, and we had some seriously ripe bananas. I had already frozen like 5 or 6 this week and had five more that needed to be used. So I decided to try some mini banana muffins, since that kills two birds with one stone: I get rid of my bananas, and they qualify as easy to eat for the linger longer.

I googled banana muffins and found this recipe that looked good (and easy--always a requirement in my book) and I even had all the ingredients (otherwise I would have been tempted to ignore the bananas and make this instead.)

I used the full cup of sugar from the original recipe, since I'm all about sweet. And as I mentioned, I made mini muffins instead of standard size, so they only baked for 12ish minutes, but otherwise I followed the "fool proof" directions and was pleased with the outcome. I do have issues not "over-stirring" so I usually end up with either flour clumps or peaked tops... this time they were a little flat with flour clumps. Any ideas, chef people?

They tasted great, but I also made chocolate zucchini cake muffins at the same time, and let's be honest, I ate more of those, because, well, it's chocolate. And we all know that I. Love. Chocolate.

I only had one, but Tom enjoyed several. I will likely make them again, unless Rico picks back up on his banana eating, because he has me trained to buy lots of bananas. I think next time I'll add chocolate chips, because, let's review: I. Love. Chocolate. End of story.


Making up for lost time

I really must say, I'm not quite doing as well at this Whip It Up thing as I might have hoped. I've done the hard part and tried new recipes every week, but somehow, I never get around to blogging about it.

So here's week six and seven.

Week 6: The theme was appetizers, I think, but I didn't so much follow that. I don't have much cause for making appetizers around here. I was in the mood for something chicken and creamy, so I looked through a ward cookbook for some ward in Utah that I was never in, that I got from my mom, and found a recipe called Creamy Baked Chicken Breasts submitted by someone named Lisa Johnson. Now, not to criticize, but the recipe needed some help. It called for 6 chicken breasts, cut in half and arranged in a 7x10. I don't know about you, but I can barely fit 6 chicken breasts in a 9x13, let alone a 7x10 (which I don't have anyway.) Then it called for 8 pieces of swiss cheese, one for each breast. . . . Um, anyone else see a problem here? Yeah. So here's what I ended up doing:

2 chicken breasts
2 slices cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
2 cups dry seasoned stuffing mix
1/3 cup margarine, melted.

Arrange chicken in a 8x8 baking dish. Top each with a slice of cheddar cheese. (I don't like swiss cheese, and I didn't have any mozzarella, or I'd have used that). Mix cream of chicken soup with water and spoon evenly over chicken. Coarsely crush stuffing mix and sprinkle over chicken. Drizzle evenly with melted margarine. Bake uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes or so. Serve with potatoes or rice.

This made a lot of gravy (or sauce, or whatever you call it) and could easily have been done with more chicken breasts. I served it with mashed potatoes (yum) and used the soup as gravy, and since I like gravy, I was glad there was plenty.

While overall it was good (and super easy), it was a little bland (nothing a little salt and pepper couldn't fix) and not super special. While I might make it again, I don't think it will become a staple, as there are other similar recipes I like just as well, if not better.

Week 7: (this week! Aren't you proud of me?) The theme was salads, but I'm not a huge salad lover, so I ignored that. I had some zucchini in my fridge that needed using, but I couldn't think of anything to make with it (other than chocolate zucchini cake, but somehow that doesn't say dinner.) I put some rice in the rice cooker, and leafed through the casserole section of the above mentioned random cookbook. Nothing jumped out at me, so I improvised.

I cut up a chicken breast, and fried it in some olive oil with some minced garlic. After it was mostly done I added some minced onion and probably 2-3 cups chopped (peeled--but not necessary) zucchini and a tablespoon or two of margarine. I let that cook for a while then added a can of cream of chicken soup, a little water (quarter cup, maybe) to thin it out a little, and some pepper and Johnny's pork and chicken seasoning (a glorified seasoning salt--quite necessary.) Once it was hot, we had it over rice.

For zucchini, it was good. It was easy, and repeatable, but as zucchini is not something I always have on hand (or when I do I want to make chocolate zucchini cake or conchiglie con zucchini) I I don't foresee making it regularly, but I would not be surprised if it showed up on our table again.


Heaven is a red kitchen

Or pretty much anything other than what it was to start with. You may remember my hideously ugly walls? If not, let me remind you.
Remember that? Yeah. It's not so pretty.

So last week I spent two full days washing, taping, priming and painting (in the sweltering heat, I might add,) and now my kitchen looks like this.
Much better. I love my kitchen.



I am so excited for Ella to have little sister, and let me tell you, she is too. (Granted, I would have been plenty excited for Rico to get a brother, too.) For the first month she wanted a sister, then she was convinced it was a boy, but she has definitely been back on the girl side for a while now. And she has her vote for the name all picked out. She won't consider anything else.

I'm not huge into picking out and sharing names before the birth. Neither of the others were named before they were born, and Rico wasn't even named until the next day (even though he was born at 2:00 in the afternoon). Besides that, his name wasn't even one we had been considering. So don't expect to know a name anytime before you see pictures of the baby.

That said, I do love to hear ideas for names, so if you have some you love (and aren't planning on using, or don't mind sharing) send them my way.


And it's another....

I had an ultrasound today, and we found out that we are expecting an adorable little... oh wait. I'm not that nice. I had been planning on putting up a poll or something to see what the general consensus was, but I didn't get around to it before the fact.

So, here's the deal. I want your guesses on the gender. So comment away, and I will post the correct answer tomorrow at noon, or after I get 10 guesses (no, parents and parents-in-law, you don't count since you already know!), whichever comes first.

What's your vote?


Better late than never

Otherwise known as WIU weeks four and five.

Last Friday I made a potato casserole of my own creation that turned out great! I wanted to use potatoes because I had way too many. I was browsing the internet looking for something good. I found a potato ham casserole that looked okay, but I've made similar recipes and wasn't really in the mood. Then I saw a recipe for Pizza Lovers' Potatoes, but I had none of the ingredients, plus it involved washing the potatoes, which I H A T E. However, the name kept coming back as a good idea, so I put the two concepts together and came up with, for lack of a better name, Pizza Potato Casserole:

4 cups cooked cubed potatoes (I peeled, cubed, and steamed mine)
1 3/4 cups pepperoni, chopped
minced onion (I used like 2T, maybe?)
3T butter or margarine
3T flour
Seasoning salt
Onion powder
Garlic Powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded cheddar
Parmesan cheese

Put the potatoes, pepperoni and onion in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Melt butter in a saucepan. Once melted, add flour and spices. I added probably half a tsp or so of each, more or less depending on your tastes. Once mixed and bubbling, add milk. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Pour over potato mixture and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 350 for half hour or so, until bubbling.

This was quite easy, quite tasty, and I will definitely be making it again. I'm also planning on experimenting with other pizza toppings, like mushrooms, pineapple, etc.

Monday I made Pasta with Roasted Vegetables from the Gooseberry Patch Country Quick & Easy cookbook.

1 lb mixed fresh vegetables, chopped (I used zucchini, carrots, broccoli, onion, minced garlic, and (ahem) frozen green beans and corn.)
salt and pepper to taste
2 t dried rosemary
2 t dried thyme
2 T olive oil
1/2 lb rigatoni, cooked
2 t balsamic vinegar (I misread this and put in Tablespoons, not teaspoons)
2 1/2 T grated parmesan cheese

Arrange veggies in a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish. season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Pour oil over all and toss. Roast vegetables in a 500 degree oven for 10 minutes or until browned. Drain vegetables, reserving juice; set aside. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta, vegetables, reserved juice and vinegar together. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, toss.

I also added some cubed cooked chicken, to make it more of a main dish. As promised, it was easy, tasty and I'll make it again. Tom's comment was that this would be good with pork, or salmon as well.


Best Friends

Exactly 21 years ago today, my parents moved their young family into their first house. It was a four bedroom home on a large lot. There were fruit trees, a garden space, and plenty of grass. Even better, it was at the end of a small cul-de-sac with 16 other houses. But the best part was the plethora of children.

Sarah was one day shy of her 5th birthday; I was three, Grant was only 10 months old. In Sarah's 'age group' there was Alex and Rori, (both girls), Brian, and Dallas. My age, Beth, Tyler, and Perry, and Scott just around the corner. In between were Tyler and Rachel. Plus there were older kids and younger kids galore. Basically, it was heaven.

Whether we officially met on August 2nd or not, I don't really remember, but this was the beginning of a lifelong friendship for Beth and I. We lived together in "The Neighborhood" from the age of three until Beth moved after fourth grade. Even then, she told her parents she would only move if she could still be friends with me.

We went to different schools, and had different friends, but Beth and I kept in touch through the years. Before we could drive we would have our moms drop us off in Woodinville so we could catch a movie and eat at Red Robin. After graduation she went to WWU and I moved to Utah to go to BYU.

When I moved back to Washington, I was excited be closer to her, but before long she set off for law school in Colorado. There she met the man of her dreams, and is getting married this month. I told her she wasn't allowed to get married in Colorado, but she didn't listen. I guess it's only fair, since she didn't get to come to my wedding.

I've been thinking recently how lucky I am to have such a good friend. Even when we haven't talked in months, when we get together or talk on the phone it seems like no time has passed at all (except for all the catching up there is to do). This pic is from her bridal shower last week. I wish I had some older ones, but apparently that's the only one I have of the two of us on my computer. Mom or Dad, if you could email me some other ones (the older the better) I'll add them too.
I love you Bethy, I'm so glad to count you as my friend, and I'm so excited for you and Jay as you start this new stage in your life!