Tag Archives: food

Thanksgiving, Just Late

This year Nate and I wanted to try to host Thanksgiving at our house. We also ambitiously decided to make the meal ourselves. What were we thinking?!

It ended up going really well, with only a few hiccups. Ever the procrastinators (how did we end up together?) we started everything the morning of… cleaning, the turkey, prepping, etc. Everything. I guess we both work best under pressure. We were lucky to have grocery assistance from both sets of parents plus my sister, and my sister came early to help entertain the boys and prep food. We had one casualty… one of our favorite kitchen tools, our Deep Covered Baker, broke in all the hustle and bustle. But, lucky us, we just got a bunch of free and discounted Pampered Chef stuff, including the RockCrok and a mini Deep Covered Baker, so I think we’ll survive.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and we were lucky to have all five boys together at once, a rarity these days. Everyone stayed afterward and relaxed, napped, played video games, laughed, and just enjoyed our time together. It was a great day!

One thing I always struggle with is using leftovers creatively. I don’t mind reheating things myself for lunches and for dinners when Nate isn’t home to cook for me, but sometimes having the same meal more than three times in a row gets really boring. I asked around my friends and moms groups about using Thanksgiving leftovers, and found some great ideas. A friend a fellow blogger shares a ton of great ideas here, and she inspired me to try a few things myself.

Everyone knows I can’t cook… I’m not joking.

ruined pancakes... my specialty
Here are some pancakes I worked really hard to ruin a few weeks ago

So the first thing I did was totally easy because, ya know, it has to be for me even attempt it. I have been totally digging this Stoneware Microwave Egg Cooker I got from Pampered Chef recently. I’ve used it to cook actually decent pancakes and have been using it to cook scrambled eggs in nice neat patties for Atticus and I. Friday I made eggs with leftover ham and green pepper, and we both loved them.

Last night Nate and I made cheesy turkey and ham pockets and they were fabulous!

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We used:

  • some chopped turkey and ham
  • 2 packs of crescent rolls
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • some shredded cheese
  • some chopped onion and green pepper
  • some melted butter
  • seasonings

It made 8 pockets.

We divided the cream cheese in half, melted it a little in the microwave, then added turkey to half and ham to the other half. Then we added a handful of shredded cheese and a handful of chopped onions and green pepper and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

We separated the crescent rolls into rectangles of two crescents attached together. Then, we scooped a few forkfuls of the mixture into each rectangle and folded the ends of the dough over to make pockets. I melted some butter and sprinkled some garlic powder into it, then brushed the butter over the pockets. We baked them at 350 for about 20 minutes.

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Delicious! What didn’t get eaten was wrapped up so I can take them for lunches and freeze some for later meals.

How did your Thanksgiving holiday go? Did you spend good times with family or friends? Any leftovers?

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I Challenge You… To LOSE!

A month ago I found out I was much more overweight than I had previously thought. It jolted me into deciding to do something, and since then I’ve been paying more attention to what I eat and trying to be more active. In the past month I’ve lost just under 8 pounds, though I’ve fluctuated and am right in the middle of that now.

One of the things that has really helped has been the support of my friends and family and the support of a special group of mom friends I have online. My mom group started a weight loss challenge that ends this coming Monday… we all contributed some money and whoever loses the highest percent of their body weight wins the pot. What a motivator that was!! I was determined to win.

What a great motivator friends and money can be! I’m not ready for the group support to end, so I’ve decided to start a DietBet. And I’d love for you to join me!

It’s simple…

  1. Visit my DietBet page and consider signing up
  2. “Bet” $10 that you’ll be able to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks
  3. Lose that 4%!
  4. Split the money pot with all the other winners losers

The challenge will begin Monday, October 20 and will go through Monday, November 17. Please consider joining me. The weigh-ins are completely private, and the DietBet Referees appear to take our privacy very seriously. The Rules can be viewed here.

Zucchini spaghetti lasagna casserole thingy

We seriously need to go to the grocery store, but Nate and I are both holding out. Luckily we have plenty of produce in the garden ripe for the picking. When Nate took off to take Nick back to his mom’s house I decided to buck up and try to cook something stead of relying on Chef Boyardee or pizza rolls.

While we aren’t overwhelmed with zucchini we do seem to have some that are read for harvesting at perfectly timed intervals. Check out this puppy!

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So tonight I found some frozen ground beef and started browning it. While it was browning I sliced some zucchini in very thing strips using a pampered chef slicer thingy. I layered the zucchini slices on the bottom of the pan, then sprinkled kosher salt and pepper on it and brushed some Italian seasoned oil on it.

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When the meat was done browning I drained it, then dumped it in a bowl and mixed it with chopped onion, some minced garlic, Italian seasoning, an almost full jar of spaghetti sauce, a small can of tomato paste, and… I think that’s it. I spread half the meat mixture, then topped with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Also Mexican cheese because I wanted a ton of cheese and that’s all I had. I added another layer of thinly sliced zukes, then the rest of the meat mixture and more cheese. Last I poured a little more Italian oil on the top because it’s so delicious. That didn’t make much sense, though, I know.

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I baked it uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the cheese was brown and bubbly.

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So good! The only thing I wish I’d had was either less beef and more spaghetti sauce, or ricotta, so it could either be more spaghetti-like or more lasagna-like. I’m not sure whether this is zucchini lasagna or zucchini spaghetti. I guess it’s both!

Two pickle recipes plus canning instructions

I’ve been asked a few times for the pickle recipe Mary and I use. Let me make it clear first that Mary is the Pickle Master, not me. I’m like the jester… Just there for jokes. Just kidding. I’m kind of her sidekick. I just do what she tells me. I’m good at following directions, but not organizing the task and managing time. She okayed me sharing the recipe we typically use. And I’ll also share the ones we tried yesterday, for pickle sticks and fridge pickles.

The first recipe goes into the most detail, in case you’re not too familiar with canning. The first recipe is also the on Mary has been using for a few years and most people love these pickles. We’ve done pickled cucumbers, green beans, peppers… you name it. The other recipes we only tried yesterday and haven’t tasted the pickles after they’ve sat but dang they smelled good and the brine was delicious.

Mary’s Famous Pickles
These pickles are dill flavored and quite garlicky with a tad bit of spice. Not a lot of spice, because even my mom loves them. So will you.

Ingredients:
4 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup pickling salt
2 to 3 garlic cloves pealed (per jar)
3 or 4 onion chunks (per jar)
3 small sprigs of fresh dill -OR- 1 teaspoon dried dill (per jar)
~1/2 teaspoon mustard seed (per jar)
~1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (per jar)
~1/2 teaspoon pickle crisp -OR- 1 grape leaf (per jar)

Wash jars, lids, and rings and then boil or steam 4-6 quart jars I your water bath or steam canner for 10 minutes. While your jars are sanitizing, combine vinegar, water, and pickling salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Once jars are sanitized, put the remaining ingredients in each jar. Note that nearly everything is approximate; if you love garlic or onion, add more. Pack the jars tightly with cucumber spears or chips.

Once the brine has boiled ten minutes, use a funnel in the mouth of the jar and pour the brine into each jar until it’s about 1/2 inch from the top. Use a chopstick or something similar to gently like down into each jar to release air bubbles. Then use a clean, wet cloth to wipe the rim of the jar. Place a clean kid on top, then screw a ring on until it’s what I call finger-tight; not too tight.

Put all the packed and lidded/ringed jars in your steam or water bath canner, and process for 15 minutes. Once they’re finished, lift them out and let them cool on the counter. You’ll know it’s a success when you hear the telltale pops of the kids sealing. Let the jars store at least 2 weeks before you go HAM on them.

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Pickle Sticks
While I haven’t yet tasted the finished, processed pickles from this I did drink 3/4 of a cup of the brine It’s so delicious, and I think these are going to be awesome. The brine tastes kind of nutty and almost cinnamon-y sweet, sort of like bread and butter pickles.

Ingredients:
9 cups sugar
5 1/2 cups white vinegar
4 cups water
8 tablespoons pickling salt
4 tablespoons celery seed
4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Sanitize 8 pint jars. While that’s happening, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for about 5 minutes. Pack the jars while your mixture is boiling.

Once the mixture has boiled about 5 minutes, use a funnel to pour the brine over the pickles in the jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Clean the rims, then lid them. Let them process for 10-15 minutes.

We also made fridge pickles and relish yesterday, but I’ll wait to share those until we taste the product. Do you have a favorite pickle recipe? Please share it with me! We always like to try new things.

Zucchini overload = awesome easy lunch

We need to grocery shop, bad… I’m running out of easy stuff to bring for lunch. But while looking over the garden last night I noticed a lone zucchini. Lunch for today was easy peasy… Zucchini pizza!

I brought my small stoneware bar pan from pampered chef, which I use all the time for everything… In fact I may as well buy another. I also brought a snack sized Baggie of shredded cheese, a small cup of spaghetti sauce, and of course a small-medium sized zuke.

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First I preheated the oven at work to 400 degrees. While it heated up I sliced the zucchini in half long-ways. Then, I spread the pizza sauce on and sprinkled on the cheese. Sometimes I add oregano, garlic, sliced tomato, basil, mushrooms, or pepperoni, but I was in a hurry and feeling kinda plain when I got my lunch ready last night.

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I let the zucchini pizzas bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese was bubbly and somewhat burnt on the pan.

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Then my website went down, I received a text from my husband that my child is puking, and our credit card machine stopped working. This is my job and my life. Technology hates me.

Luckily I have awesome coworkers and while I was tethered to my computer my pal Kate brought me my half on a plate, complete with plastic ware and a napkin. So nice. While I would have loved taking an actual lunch break, at least I got to enjoy the deliciousness.

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A day in my garden with my boys

I almost didn’t take Friday off work as I had planned, but I did… And I’m so glad! It was a great day.

I got to sleep in a decent amount, until 9:30ish, then Atticus and I went downstairs and I did some (very little, to be honest) cleaning, which included finding a 4 oz. jar in the kitchen sink drain that I could not remove on my own…

Atticus and I went out to water the garden while Trent was still asleep. I’m so happy with how it’s growing! It seems like each summer in this house I’ve had some issue that makes the garden just fail. Pregnancy slowed me down two years, drought another, using the wrong weed killer before planting another… But this is our year so far!

I was pretty ambitious this year, but it’s because I’m determined to get some harvest! I planted about 16 heirloom tomato plants, 16 varying pepper plants (sweet, green, hot), corn, celery, cabbage, zucchini, cucumber, and several herbs. I also have potatoes, onions, rhubarb (brand new, so no harvest this year), and a few other things.

I noticed one of the mystery heirloom tomato plants (my dad often has volunteers that are strayed between several different plants, so we just wait and see what they end up being… I love it!) has some baby tomatoes on it! I’m crossing my fingers that this is either rowdy red or the grape-sized orange variety.

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I also noticed the two heirloom paste tomato plants (the only tomatoes I didn’t get from my dad) have something happening!

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I like to go around every few days and pinch the tomato crotches. Well, that’s what I call it. My mom says my granddad called it suckering the tomatoes. I’ve just always done it because my family has always done it, not sure why. If I had to guess I think it probably helps focus the nutrition in the growing plant on the blossoms instead of in worthless extra growth.

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Atticus likes to watch, mostly, but sometimes help.

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As I was looking things over Friday I noticed a giant hiding under some leaves…

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I took it to the hose to rinse off but Atticus didn’t want to wait…

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I’m hoping to have a bunch more by this next weekend for a possible pickle party. But I had to try out this guy both fresh and with some yummy vinegar.

I chopped the cucumber up as well as a small onion from the garden and threw both into a Tupperware container.

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I splashed in 2 parts red wine vinegar (I was out of apple cider vinegar) and 3 parts water, then added a small palm-full (maybe a tablespoon?) of kosher salt, and a few pinches (maybe 1/2-1 teaspoon?) of sugar, plus a shake of garlic powder. I ate some of them later that night and they are amazing!! Tried more today, two days later, and they’re so tart and a little sweet. Delish!

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Late afternoon/early evening both boys had some splash-time. They love hanging in the yard!

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A spur of the moment meal at the red lion grog house

It was too good of a day not to take off.

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I feel good about my accomplishments at work today, so I took off early and decided to head to Fountain Square for lunch and a beer. Of course I went to Red Lion Grog House. It’s an English pub with awesome food and a good selection of imported and local brews, so it’s a favorite of mine… Oh yeah, and Nate works there and Sara and her fiancé Wally own it. It opened in 2009 at 1043 Virginia Avenue, in the Murphy building. Nate and I frequented when we could and in 2012, almost 2 years ago, he took a job in the kitchen.

It’s funny, cooking is something Nate has always enjoyed and he definitely does it better than me and most other people I know. The job had worked out just perfectly; he excelled more than I though he would and is a natural leader in the kitchen. And he’s so much happier in this job than he ever has been, at least as long as I’ve known him.

I would call this a review of Red Lion Grog House, but I guess it wouldn’t be unbiased, huh? Well in any case, this is how I truly feel.

One of the first things I ever had off the menu was the fried pickles. If you know me, you know how much I love pickles…. they’ve been a favorite food of mine since I was a kid. Anyway, the fried pickles at RLGH are breaded and fried crispy golden and served with a garlic aioli that’s made in-house. It’s hard to pass up the pickles, but I do occasionally have the spicy shrimp served with a chili aioli, or the deep fried Mac and cheese bites, all of which are delicious fries goodness. I haven’t tried the scotch eggs, because I’m simply not interested. However, this traditional UK appetizer is apparently really awesome at Red Lion, and comes highly recommended. One of these days I’ll try the sausage and panko wrapped hard-boiled eggs, I promise.

The first entree I ever had at the Grog House was, of course, the fish and chips. The fish was light and fluffy and battered in what Nate calls a wet batter before it’s deep fried. The chips are hand-cut in-house and taste amazing with the spicy curry sauce. I basically had the signature dish and left so happy that first time that Nate and I promptly came back with his parents, then with my parents. I’m also a big fan of the chicken and chips, battered the same delicious way.

I often get the buffalo chicken sandwich (because I can never get enough buffalo sauce) with the house blue cheese dressing, or sometimes the macaroni and cheese with the crunchy breadcrumb topping. Red Lion recently donated some of this macaroni and cheese and some of their traditional shepherd’s pie to my library’s arts gala event. Though I don’t order it often, the shepherd’s pie is another of my favorites, and people seem to rave about it. I have had a few friends tell me they don’t care for it; I think it’s because it has a very herby taste with a strong rosemary flavor, and it seems like rosemary is something people tend to have strong feelings about.

I rarely get dessert… I never have room because I fill up on an appetizer and entree. But sometimes I come in just to have a few drinks and a snack. The elephant ear is definitely worth getting, because you can’t find one easily unless it’s summer and it’s just so delicious. Red Lion also does a specialty bread pudding that they change up frequently. They’ve had an orange flavored on, caramel, Oreo… The list goes on. Nate has fun thinking up new bread pudding ideas, and I have fun trying them out as a customer.

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Red Lion has a great relationship with local breweries and serves beer from Fountain Square, Sun King, and Triton breweries, among many others. The taps change frequently enough that even when I was going in more frequently (a few times a month) I could try something new often.

I’m so glad Nate gets to be a part of this restaurant. It seems like such a random thing that happened, him applying for a job in the kitchen, but it has really allowed him to explore his passion and excel. He’s also the cook at home and he’s more motivated to try new dishes at home as well. I love that he is proud of what he does, and that he truly does work for a great place with delicious food.

If you haven’t tried Red Lion, you really should. Say hi to Nate, Wally, Sara, or any of the other awesome and friendly staff members, and tell them I sent you. You won’t be sorry!