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I have a recipe to share with you, I promise!!

But it needs just a little more tweaking. Which involves re-making it and taking new photos.

Trust me, this is a good thing. For me. Because I’ll get to eat it.

Eventually it will be a good thing for you, because you’ll get to eat it. Assuming, of course, that you make it. (You should!)

Anyway, until Saturday when I can re-cook and re-shoot, here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

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Soaking up absolutely every last bit of sunshine. Fortunately, until this week we’ve actually had really amazing weather.

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Marveling at how fast my son is growing up. He’s writing sentences! (It says “Secret Agent Machine,” in case you don’t read 1st grade)

Apple Canning
Canning! For the first time ever! It’s so fun, and I love love love eating homemade applesauce, apple butter and plum butter. I don’t know enough about canning yet to share with you, but I have lovely friends who are helping me learn.

Pinterest. If I need to tell you more, you are seriously missing out. I can pin like it’s my job, people.

I’ve also gotten us back on a weekly menu plan. I can’t believe how much time, energy, money and sanity this saves! It only takes us about 10 minutes to figure out what we want to eat that week, and then we just figure out what ingredients we need to buy and head to the store. And then I know that we won’t be eating the same things over and over, and we use up leftovers much more efficiently because it’s planned into the menu. Oh the little things that make me happy :)

What have you been up to?

It’s no secret that I read a lot of blogs.

Like, a lot.

Like, opening Google Reader after a vacation is pretty scary.

I just like to learn! And I’m fascinated with other peoples’ lives. And people take extraordinary pictures.

One of my favorite blogs is dig this chick.  And some of my favorite posts of Nici’s are Hump Day Nuggets.  Little nuggets from the past week.  A lovely collection of photos and snippets of stories.

I’ve always wanted to copy this style, but never felt like it would be right for me to do so.  It’s so uniquely Nici’s voice!  Recently, though, she began encouraging other bloggers to adopt her crazy awesome Nuggets, and I may have squealed a little bit.  No big deal.

So, here are my nuggets from the past week or so…

Our garden is finally–finally–blooming!
Basil
Basil–used in homemade tomato sauce just last night

Garlic
Garlic, curing in the sun before I will eventually roast some in the oven

Baby Eggplant
Zucchini
Baby eggplant and zucchini peeking through the leaves

Green Tomatoes
I didn’t get pictures of the red tomatoes, because we eat them as fast as they ripen. Oh mama, they’re good!

Edible Broccoli Flowers
Have you ever eaten broccoli flowers? I hadn’t either, and now I’m contemplating letting all the broccoli go to bloom.  Eating flowers is fun.

Beer Can Chicken
Beer can chicken getting smoky and juicy next to corn on the grill.

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Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that turned into ice cream sandwiches

Ice Cream Sandwich
Don’t worry, that post is coming soon

Coils & Feathers
I fell in love with my friend Jayann’s earrings. Fortunately, she sells them at the Farmers Market

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Did you catch the Oula Flash Mob on Saturday?! It’s one of my life’s goals to be part of a flash mob someday.

Lovely little nuggets. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with them every Wednesday, but I am pleased I get to share them with you today.

What are your favorite moments/memories from the past week?

humpdaynuggets

Hello!

Oh my gosh, it’s been so long!

You *look* fantastic!
*I can’t really see you, but knowing you, I can assume.

What have I been up to?  Oh geez, where do I start?

Well, we’ve been moving.  And that’s seriously hectic.
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Have you ever moved?  I swear things start appearing.  Literally materializing out of thin air!  You think you know how much stuff you have until you try to move from one house to another.  Just as soon as I thought we were close to being done, I’d open a closet or a cupboard and have another carload of stuff.  Plus, if I ever have to scrub walls again, I may die.

And then of course, because moving isn’t epic enough, *my* babies all graduated.
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*In full disclosure, only one of those “babies” are mine. And one of them only graduated kindergarten this year.

*Also, Nick is rolling his eyes. I can feel it. It’s cool. 

And that’s been mixed in with working, rehearsing, performing yadda yadda yadda.

But it’s great.  All of it.  I can’t believe how lucky I am.  How awesome our friends and family are.  I’m never hesitant to say that I’m loving life, but there are times when it’s truer, more real.  This is definitely one of those times.

What about you?  What have you been up to lately?  I’d love to hear from you, and let’s promise to meet like this more often!

See you soon?

I really do mean to post with some kind of regularity, so I apologize for disappearing. I promise that soon I will post more often.

It’s just that, things have been happening.  Exciting things.  Like, big, awesome, things.

We’re moving!

Before you freak out, we’re staying in Missoula.  I’m not sure we’d ever choose to leave this town.  But we’re moving into a house.  With a yard.  And a garage.  And wood floors.  And the dryer won’t be in the kitchen!
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See? Only the dryer is in there. The washer is in another part of the apartment. Ridiculous, no?

We are super excited, but it’s going to be a big change. We’ve lived in our apartment for over six years. Six years of good neighbors.  Bad neighbors. People walking over head. Parties. Car alarms.  Pregnancy.  First steps.  Bike rides.  No kids our son’s age. Lots of kids our son’s age.

It will involve a change of schools.  Leaving the Northside neighborhood we’ve grown to love so much.  Trying to pack up six years worth of stuff and moving it across town.

But it will also involve exploring a new neighborhood.  A yard with a fence!  A garden!!  A big trampoline!!! (Be still, my dancer’s heart!)  Getting used to a new oven.  Backyard bbqs.  Mowing grass, for the first time ever.

All the amazing things that are involved with moving your things, your heart, your sense of home into a new space, and making that place your heart, your home.

It’s scary.

It’s exciting.

It’s stressful.

It makes me feel like a kid.

I can’t wait.

Be patient with me while I sort through our life and pack it into boxes.  I can’t promise that I’ll post much during the next few weeks, but I can promise to take lots of pictures, and check in with you now and then.  Because you know you’re coming with me, right?  I promise, it’s going to be great.  You’ll like it.

There’s a trampoline.

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Apparently we’ve been eating a lot of chicken lately. I hadn’t even thought about it, but then again, I can happily eat the same things over and over again. (Not a great quality for a food blogger, I realize.)

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I think beef is intimidating for me because it definitely has its own unique flavor. Chicken is just such a great blank canvas. Beef is already the whole painting.

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But then again, that’s kind of arguable, depending on who you ask. Like my husband. He would totally disagree with that. (And he did. Hence, the beef.)

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This recipe is a very welcome change from the pot roast recipes of my past. I hate pot roast (normally) because it was either too bland, too fatty, or too tough.

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This marinade does so much for pot roast! It gave it a great, bold flavor, kept things incredibly moist, and created a really hearty sauce for serving.  Waaaaaaay better than gravy!

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You might think that coffee and beef don’t go together (kind of like caramel and salt), but you’re wrong. They complement each other perfectly, bringing out the savory quality of the beef without tasting like bitter black coffee. And don’t even get me started on what it does to the vegetables in there! I could almost eat just those. The beef is like the icing on the cake. Or, the beef on the vegetables?

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Coffee Braised Beef
based on this recipe from Real Simple

1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 pound turnips, chopped
2 1/2 pounds chuck roast
salt & pepper to taste
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups brewed black coffee
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
*optional: flat leaf parsley to garnish

Place chopped vegetables and 1/2 cup coffee in a large slow-cooker. Set the beef on top and season generously with salt and pepper. Whisk 1 cup coffee, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir tomato paste into coffee mixture to combine. Pour the coffee mixture over the beef and vegetables, then cook (covered) on low in the slow cooker for 7 to 8 hours. We didn’t add any water throughout the day because we were at work, but if you’re home you can keep an eye on it and add as necessary. Serve with country bread (any whole grain, dense bread).

It was pretty exciting knowing that dinner would be done as soon as we got home. Very minimal effort, and very minimal dish washing! And our whole house smelled amazing. I got a knife to slice into the beef, and didn’t even need it. It literally fell apart. I only wish I would have known about this all winter long! C’est la vie. There’s always next year.

What foods could you eat over and over? Are there any foods that you just can’t eat any more?

I made a variation on my favorite tofu marinade.  This one comes from Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, and she’s not kidding when she calls it her Perfect Baked Tofu.  In our house, we call it candy tofu, because it’s surprisingly sweet from the honey, but spicy enough for dinner.

I started with honey and olive oil.
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Then added peanut butter and Cajun seasoning.
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I microwaved that mixture for about 30 seconds, and then added a few shakes of low sodium soy sauce.
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Sorry for the blurry photo :)

Then all I had to do was mix in my tofu and some toasted sesame seeds,
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let that marinate for about 15 minutes, and then toss onto a lined cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
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I always broil my tofu because I’m impatient, but I accidentally left it in the oven a few minutes too long. The peanut butter really changes the cooking time. I think that Caitlin’s method of slow baking would work better for this marinade, but I’ve had success both ways.
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It still tasted amazing though! I was seriously craving peanut butter, and this really hit the spot.  I wanted to throw in some wilted spinach, but we were fresh out.  Ah well!  Served over top of seasoned quinoa, it made a really filling meal.

Give it a go, and let me know what you think!

Blueberry Bagels
Mmmmm.  Remember when I used my bread machine to make bagels?  That was an awesome day.  Well, I did it again, and this time I added a half cup of frozen blueberries.  Perfect!  Seriously, these are some of the best bagels I’ve ever had.  I give my bread machine total credit.  I know I said I was going to try and make them without my bread machine, but I was dragged outside (in winter! the nerve) for a beautiful photo walk through Greenough Park.  I’ll put up photos later, but I took so many that it’s hard to pick!
PS–anyone have any thoughts on what to name the bread machine? I love naming inanimate objects ;)

Sweet and Spicy Tofu
Serves 3-4

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix olive oil, honey, peanut butter and Cajun seasoning together in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke for about 30 seconds, mix again. Add soy sauce and combine, then stir in pressed tofu and sesame seeds. Let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator 15-30 minutes, stirring every so often to keep the tofu covered.
Broil tofu on a lined and sprayed cookie sheet for about 15-20 minutes, watching carefully so the marinade doesn’t burn.
Serve over rice, quinoa, or salad.

This post contains an obscene amount of exclamation points.  Read at your own discretion.

1.     I have exciting things to show you!

2.     But not today.

3.     I’m feeling so much better!

4.     Strep is awful.

5.     Antibiotics are amazing!

6.     Which is good, because strep is truly debilitating.

7.     I got back in my kitchen!

8.     The pictures, of course are still hanging out in my camera.

9.     I made something that my husband loves!

10.   I love it too!

11.   I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love it as much as we do!

12.   I feel like a schmuck for not remembering  to upload my photos.

13.   I feel like a schmuck for teasing you with such an exciting title.

14.   As soon as I get my photos uploaded, I’ll have a really exciting recipe to post!

Have a good day!  And in advance preparation, please pick up some course grain sea salt and some half and half.  Extra credit goes to anyone who can guess the recipe based on those clues!

:)

No Bake Cookies have been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember.  Perfect for when you’re absolutely dying for chocolate and peanut butter but are too lazy to put things in and out of the oven (read: PMS).  Also perfect for when you’re craving the absolute unhealthiest cookie ever.  It happens sometimes.  Everything in moderation, right?

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We were having one of those days, and my sisters were kind enough to do the “hard work” while I took photos. See if you can tell whose hands are whose…or whom’s…or hoooos…

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Lots of sugar

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And butter

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Cocoa powder

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And melting

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This is making me hungry

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Oh man, and the peanut butter

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And then the peanut butter melts in the chocolate, and it smells amazing

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And then it gains volume

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Vanilla just makes everything better

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Oh goodness. I know what I’m doing later.

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This is too easy

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They even make your refrigerator smell good

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If you have the patience to wait for them to cool, they peel right off the parchment. I don’t always have the patience. It’s chocolate and peanut butter! Don’t judge, you know you do it too :)

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I like looking at the bottoms, because they’re so perfect compared to the haystack-like tops

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And in my mouth it goes!

1 3/4 cups Sugar
1/2 cup  Butter
1/2 cup Milk
4 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 cup Peanut Butter
3 cups Oats
1 tbsp Vanilla

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, milk and cocoa powder.  Bring this mixture to a gentle bowl, then add the peanut butter and stir until just combined.  Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Drop spoon fulls of batter onto parchment paper and place in the refrigerator or freezer until chilled.

Happy no-baking!

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There’s a story behind this one.

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We were all staying at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house while my little sister was being born.

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Grandma shared that she was making Tuna Bun Boats for dinner. Without hesitation, the four of us declared that we hated them, and we weren’t going to eat them.

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I should tell you that my grandmother was an excellent cook. Nearly everything she made was amazing. (I have to add the “nearly” because some things she made had walnuts, which only belong in salads, and mayo, which only belongs in…well, nothing.)

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“Have you ever had a Tuna Bun Boat?” she asked. “No, but we hate them. They’re gross.”

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My grandmother proceeded to make them, and we all pretended not to be interested.

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She was an incredibly patient woman. I guess she had practice raising her three sons,

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And one daughter.

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*Not mayo*

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She mixed everything together in silence.

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By the time she got to this stage, it was getting harder and harder to pretend that we weren’t interested.

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“What on earth is she doing?” “Eeew. I’m not eating that.”

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“Where are the boats?”–That one was me. I was pretty little. And the loudest of the nay sayers.  Mostly, I think, because I thought we’d get to eat them ON a boat.

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But then the smell started wafting out of the oven. It’s pretty hard to turn your nose up at melted cheese.

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They came out of the oven, and still looked pretty weird. What happened next was the worst case of “Please just try it–Eeew, no!–How can you say you don’t like it if you’ve never had it?–Because we just know!–You’ll sit down and eat, and if you hate it I won’t make it for you again.–Fine, but only because we’ll never have to eat it again.”

Silence.

Tiny, angry bites.

Devouring.

Seconds.

Thirds.

“I told you so.”

My Grandma never held a grudge against us for being so snotty, and when we were really nice she’d make them for us when we visited.  These are so easy to throw together in a hurry, and I’m told that they reheat well, though I’ve never had them last that long.  They also make a great packable lunch because you can leave them in the foil to take on the go.

So before you vehemently affirm that you hate them, just give them a try.  I promise that if you don’t like them, you’ll never have to make them again.  But you won’t hate them.  Fair warning.

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Tuna Bun Boats from Grandma Paula
Makes 6 boats

2 hard boiled eggs, diced (I don’t like hard boiled yolks, so I left them out and used the whites)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tbsp sweet pickles (I used regular pickles)
6 1/2 oz tuna in water, drained
enough mayo (or plain yogurt) to moisten well
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Combine all ingredients. Assemble in buns and wrap in foil. Bake for about 15 minutes, then serve hot.

Ok, so the first post was called Pierogies.  I was informed (by Nick) shortly after publishing the post that it’s actually Perogies.  Subtle, but different.  I swear I looked it up!  But, I’m going to go with the “spelling that has been used for three generations of my Polish family.”  Three generations, huh?  I dig.

Anyway, writing the original gave me a major hankering for p(i)erogies, and Nick will never say no to them, so we went for round two.  I won’t go into detail about the process, since you’ve seen it already, but I will show you how to put the dough together.  Cause it’s super hard.  Or something.  :)

Put three cups of flour and six eggs into a bowl.  Using your very clean hands, mix until “rollable.”  (Not too floury, not too sticky.  I had to add more flour a few small hand fulls at a time.)  I found rolling the dough significantly easier after Nick told me to let the dough rest for a bit.  Roll it out thinly, and then cut and assemble.  Like so:

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I seriously almost didn’t get pictures of the end result again!  As soon as they were out of the water, we sat down to eat and I had already gotten one down before I remembered.  P(i)erogies are that good, according to me.  (And you can trust me, right?)  After making everything in one go, I totally understand why this process is drawn out to an all day event on Christmas Eve.  They’re simple, but time consuming to put together.  But, when you’ve got friends in the kitchen and some grown up hot chocolate, the time goes by pretty quickly.

You could get all sorts of fancy with your fillings, but I really just love these the way they are.  No matter how long they take.  And no matter how they’re spelled.

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