Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchen Experimenting

Unfortunately, since Chris has been working some late nights lately, we haven't had as much of a chance to cook on a daily basis like we are used to. Thus, this past Sunday, we felt the need to use up all that pent up food creativity, making things up all day long.

The first thing we decided to try was a cold pepper slaw on some tacos (completely pulled this one out of thin air!)


Red peppers
Orange peppers
Serrano pepper (or jalepeno, whatever's in the fridge)
Red onion

Cut them up... peppers and onion in thin strips, serrano in little bits, no seeds

Simon likes to help cut up veggies. He's a huge veggie lover, you'd think he was a vegetarian. And yes, that's his ornery little tongue licking the pepper. (We cut that piece off, don't worry, we're sanitary. Or we'll say that to keep you from being grossed out.)

Aaaanywho... Next step, add some flavors:

Yup, tequila and margarita mix. Oh, and a bit of salt too, otherwise this would be far too sweet. Only add a little bit of those three items, otherwise you'll have a soup.

In the meantime, make something to put the slaw on:

Regular corn tacos are a little too big for an appetizer, and since they're 59 cents for a pack of 20, I decided to be a little wasteful and just cut a hole out of the center. To do this, I used a measuring cup.

I then popped a couple of these in the toaster oven, got them nice and crispy. Then we took them out, put the slaw on top, and voila!

Ok, so the camera work here is pretty terrible, I apologize. I clearly need a better camera. Regardless, it was a tasty appetizer!

Now on to the next cooking extravaganza, meatballs!

While we were making these appetizers, we had some ground turkey thawing. Why ground turkey, you ask? Because Costco sells it by the truckload and we had a bunch lying around. So turkey it is!

Here's where the creativity gets a little fun. One of my favorite meals growing up was porcupine meatballs. This is a simple recipe, where you put rice in the meat, form it into balls, and bake it in tomato soup. Very easy, but very homey and delicious. We decided to take that and spin it a bit into an Asian-type meatball. With the rice as inspiration, Chris and I each decided to make different sauces to cook the meatballs in, so that we could try two different things.

Here's the preparation for my spicy teriyaki meatballs:

The sauce was made up of water, Yoshida's sauce (my favorite teriyaki!), House of Tsang Sezchuan Spicy Stir Fry Sauce (the brand is awesome, and this spicy sauce rocks but they don't carry it in Chicago!), soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar.

Then I threw some rice in a bowl, and added just a tish of the sauce for flavor...

Then threw in half the ground turkey, mixed it all up, shaped little meatballs, and poured half the remaining sauce into the dish. The rest we saved for a dipping sauce at the end.

A sprinkle of garlic pepper on top, put the lid on, and it's ready to go in the oven!

Now on to Chris' experiment...

Chris really likes the peanut satay flavors, so he decided to go that route. But he got a little American too:

Yes, that is House of Tsang peanut sauce mixed with barbeque sauce from Smoque. If you ever get the chance to go to Smoque, please do, it's amazing. Some of the best food I've ever eaten. Well, last weekend we got some Smoque for takeout, and they loaded us up on bbq sauce. Seriously, tubs of it. Soooo Chris decided to mix it with the peanut sauce. I'll be honest, I had heard of the combination before, and it was actually pretty good.

So he did the same thing as me, rice, turkey, mix mix mix, but he didn't put any of the sauce into the actual meat, he just poured it on top:

Again, put the top on, and now that both were ready, time to pop in the oven! Now that's a 400 degree, pre-heated oven, middle rack.

Set the timer for forty minutes...

Go watch an episode of Mad Men (we're addicted!!)...

And ding ding ding the meatballs are done!

Mmmm tasty! I think, in the end, we both agreed that putting a little bit of sauce in with the meat at the beginning helped keep it more moist and flavorful, so we'll definitely do that in the future. But overall, both were very good, and fun to experiment with!

And finally, our last experiment...

Ice cream pie!

Ok, so it's only partially an experiment. Chris' mom makes ice cream pie all the time, and it's delicious and deliciously simple. An oreo crust in a spring form pan, leave ice cream out until it softens, put in pan, refreeze. Easy and delicious! Well, we happened to have 7 oreos left in a package, and they needed to be used. So we decided to get a little corningware dish and make a little dessert for the two of us! Ok I'll be honest, this was my idea, and Chris watched football while I did this. But it was easy!

The only problem was the ice cream... the problem being that we didn't have any. But we did have fudgsicles, so that was going to have to work!

So first I pounded out the cookies so that they were beaten to a pulp:

I should note that the fudgsicles are sitting out, thawing.

I then poured the cookie goodness into a bowl and added a tish of cold butter. I crumbled it throughout with my hands, making sure all the butter was throughout the cookie. Then I pushed it down into the dish to make a crust.

At this point, I took the fudgsicles out of their wrapper to continue thawing. Oh look at that, there's a little kitty who likes fudgsicles! It's a well-known fact that Simon would trade his left paw for a fudgsicle if given the opportunity, so needless to say, where there is fudgsicle, there is Simon.

You'll also notice the husband and the football I mentioned previously. Further proof that this was my idea.

Anyway, I impatiently waited for the fudgsicles to melt, but then I gave up. I used a fork to get the goodness off the stick and into the bowl, and stirred...

...and stirred and stirred and stirred, until it stopped looking like ice cream chunks, and looked more like soft-serve ice cream.

Then I used a spatula to put it in the dish, sprinkled a little of the remaining oreo crumble on top, and there you have it! Ice cream pie!

Of course, I had to put it in the freezer so it would harden up again, and we didn't eat it for another four hours, but it sure was tasty when we did get to eat it!

And that was our fun-filled day of kitchen experimentation. No amazing breakthroughs, and nothing too complicated, but it was a lot of fun, and we used things up that needed to be eaten anyway. Cheers to Sunday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jewelry Organizer Tray

First and foremost, a big thank you to my tech-savvy brother for fixing my blog background, making it much easier to read. Thanks!

Now on to the project...

As those who know me know, I love my cat Simon. He's my favorite kitty, and my second-favorite male in the house only by a hair. Simon is a great cat, except for at 4am when he wants me to get up and play with him. And the best way he's figured out to wake me up is to knock my jewelry around that's sitting on my nightstand. Thanks, Simon.

And that is how this Mod Podge idea was born!

Jewelry Organizer Tray

What you'll need:
Desk organizer(s)
Pretty papers
Mod Podge

Instead of buying some jewelry box and being done with it, I really like being able to see my jewelry and just drop it into a compartment. That's why I chose a desk organizer -- lots of compartments of all different sizes. And the best part, I found this two-pack for $8! What a steal!

Then I just went to Paper Source on my way home one day and walked around staring at papers, waiting to be inspired. I picked three so I had a little variation, came home, a little snip, a little Mod Podge, and ta da!

Sorry Simon, you'll have to find a new way to annoy me at 4am!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, I know I did! Chris and I spent the past couple weeks at home in AZ, visiting family and friends. While we were there we ate a lot, drank a lot, and even received a few Mod Podge presents, so I must say it was a wonderful trip! One of the last nights, we went to a renowned restaurant in Phoenix, Elements.

Elements is a restaurant located in the Sanctuary resort and spa, which is on a mountain overlooking the valley. It is truly beautiful, and would be a great place even without the amazing food. But oh, the amazing food!

To start, Chris got the tuna tartare, and I got the heirloom tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella. Both dishes were fabulous. Chris has a soft spot for tuna tartare, and any such dish done very well just wins him over. My tomato and mozzarella dish was also wonderful, with juicy tomatoes and creamy fresh cheese.

We then ordered our entrees, accompanied by a little wine. There was a bottle of chardonnay for the table (we were with Chris' parents and sister), but as the meals were ordered, the boys decided to order glasses of red wine. Chris got a glass of Row 11 Pinot 2006, took a sip, and quickly turned to me saying I must try it, "It's your type of Pinot." Oh boy was it ever! Needless to say, Chris did not get that glass back, and he had to order another one for himself :)

Finally, dinner. Chris had Alaskan salmon with a ginger glaze and shitake mushrooms, and I had the special of the day which was scallops with rock shrimp and artichokes. Absolutely delectable. Chris' salmon was melt-in-your-mouth, and my scallops were perfectly seared.

Overall, the meal was delightful, and we all finished it off with a bite of creme brulee. A perfect night.

But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and here we are back to reality, back to jobs and snow and laundry. But at least when you go back to reality, you get to sleep in your own bed.