Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The ABC's of me!

Thought we could take a break from all this eating to share a little personal stuff among friends! Here are the ABC's of ME!

A. Age: 32 - but only for 27 more days!

B. Bed size: Queen. I didn't want a King because I didn't want any room for the kids to feel like they could squeeze in there! I like my space & I cannot be touching anyone while I'm sleeping!

C. Chore you dislike: Washing the dishes that you have to do by hand. you know, like the pots & knives!? I hate the feeling of wet hands and, even more, I hate the feeling of pruney fingers!

D. Dogs: We have Cooper, he's a Shepard/Greyhound(?) mix & he is about 10 years old. We also have Polly, a Black Lab. I think she's about 3. Both are rescue dogs.

E. Essential start to your day: I love a good Diet Coke in the morning! The bubbles just perk me right up!

F. Favorite color: Brown, followed closely by pink!

G. Gold or silver: If it's white gold I'll take it. Otherwise, silver.

H. Height: I am 5' 7".

I. Instruments you play: Flute. And if voice counts as an instrument I sing kinda OK, too!

J. Job title: uh... seriously? this could get long. Wife, mom, CEO, Bookkeeper, taxi, chef, maid, nurse, event planner, teacher's assistant, law enforcement/judge, spiritual advisor... should I keep going!?

K. Kids: Luke - 7, Nolan - 5, Jocelyn (Joss) - 4, Jack - 1.

L. Live: Northern Nevada for the past 7 years. California Bay Area for 26 years before that.

M. Most favorite thing: Hearing my kids laugh & play together, especially when they're using their imaginations, rather than the TV or a video game.

N. Nickname: Pedey (said like Petey), Meesh, MP and Michelin (like the tires - Michelle Ann run together). Only Hubby calls me that one.

O. Overnight hospital stays: Delivering 4 babies as a grown up. As a kid I was hospitalized with severe dehydration for a couple of days.

P. Pet peeves: Oblivious, discourteous drivers.

Q. Quote from a movie: All of them! LOL I'm kind of a walking Wikipedia of movie quote & they show up often - several times a day - in casual conversation - and I usually have to clue Hubby in on the fact that I was quoting a movie when he hears me spout of the random phrases. He just looks at me & gives me this smirk that tells me he thinks I'm a total dork - but he loves me anyway!

R. Righty or lefty: Right. But I dance left (turns, leaps, etc are stronger on the left).

S. Siblings: Chris - older bro & Tammy - younger sis.

T. Time you wake up: 7:15 am. Every morning.

U. Underwear: Yes, please! LOL

V. Veggies you don't like: Zucchini & squash. *shudders*

W. What makes you run late: I'd say kid #1, #2, #3 & #4 all contribute equally!

X. X-Rays you've had: Dental stuff, an ankle & a spine.

Y. Yummy food you make: All of it! That's not true - sometimes I fail.

Z. Zoo animal favorite: Giraffes. They're tall, skinny & have great big lips! (Hmmm... sound like anyone else I love!?)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dad Does Dinner - Blue Cheese Crusted Steaks

There's a food blog I love called UCreate: Foods & she has this challenge every month called Dad Does Dinner where you're supposed to have your man cook & then blog the meal, just like you would if you'd done it all. Mom gets the night off! Sounds like a good deal, right!? I've been meaning to participate for the past 3 months but keep running out of days in the month. Well, this month she asked for suggestions for the theme for March's challenge & she choose mine (have our hunks cook a hunk of meat!) so now I had to make SURE we got it done! And now, here it is March 28 - only 2 days left in the month, and I'm finally doing it! Whew! Nothing like the last minute, right moms!!? Zac asked if I'd do the typing & he'll just dictate - his stuff will be in the standard type - if I add anything to it it'll be in italics! Let's begin!

Zac starts here: This one's a fan favorite at the station (Hubby's a fire fighter & does the majority of the cooking at the station... because he;s pretty dang good at it!) - it's quick & easy. I got it out of a cook book Michelle got me for Christmas. It's got a great flavor & only takes about 10 minutes. For us, we use petite sirloins, but you can use whatever cut of meat you want. The better the cut of meat the better it'll taste! We enjoy the heck out of it with the cheap-o steaks, but if you're going for gourmet spend the extra money.

Steaks, seasoned bread crumbs, fresh parsley, crumbled blue cheese, salt & pepper (and fresh rosemary but Zac completely forgot about it tonight!)

Start by preheating the oven to 450. Then you're gonna mix the bread crumbs, blue cheese & parsley (finely chopped) in a bowl & set it aside.

Then take a whatchamacallit (yes, he really said that! LOL He's defeating bad guys on the XBox as he's talking so he's totally not focused!) pan on high heat & put a little olive oil in it. Let it get hot. While it's getting there season the meat with generous amounts of salt & pepper on both sides. Put the meat in your hot pan anywhere for about 4 minutes per side to sear the meat. Depends on how done you like your meat. Don't burn it - just sear it. (He likes a lot of bright pink in there so maybe go a little longer if you don't like as much color.) It'll be going in the oven so just try to get a nice brown on it - don't cook it all the way.

Once you're done with the sear put the steaks onto a cookie sheet (or any oven safe pan) and generously top with crumb mixture. If you have a cast iron skillet you can just do it all in the same pan from stove top to oven.

Put it in your preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the crumbles start to brown.

Let them rest for a little bit to lock in the moisture & then enjoy the crap out of them!

Thanks, Babe! Enjoy the crap for sure! These puppies were really yummy... and I don't even like blue cheese! To go with theses he also made his famous (at work, anyway) brown sugar green beans, garlic bread & a berry salad.


I hope you all enjoyed this edition of Dad Does Dinner & maybe even feel a little inspired to get your man in there helping out!

Blue Cheese Crusted Steak:

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 TBsp chopped fresh parsley
1tsp chopped fresh rosemary (Zac forgot to put this in there today!)
1 TBsp olive oil
4 sirloins, 4-6 oz each
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley & rosemary in a bowl; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet. Season steaks all over with salt & plenty of black pepper. Sear each side of the meat for about 4 minutes to get a good brown on the outside.

Move steaks to a baking sheet & top each with 1/4 of the crumb mixture; press gently into the meat with your fingers. Bake in preheated oven for 6-10 minutes or until crumb mixture has a nice golden color. Let it rest before serving.

Source: Cook This, Not That

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ground Beef Stroganoff

We love Beef Stroganoff in our house. It was one of the first 'real' meals I started making for Hubby in our early days as I was just starting to discover the magic that could be made without a box in the kitchen! LOL Growing up, my mom was consistent & always made sure we were fed, but it was often something frozen or from a box & I was never a part of making it so I came into our marriage a complete cooking rookie. Thank goodness for the internet & the Food Network - who knows what we'd be eating these days if they hadn't held my hand along this journey! This here is my friend's recipe. Normally when I make Stroganoff, I use a sliced sirloin & slow simmer it in a homemade sauce. When I saw Kristi's recipe I wanted to give it a try to see if it could be as delicious with such a simple recipe - and it was really good! I still love my recipe, but this is definitely a great lazy-day alternative that gives a very similar taste!

You will need:

Ground beef, onion, 2 packets of brown gravy mix & sour cream... and egg noodles to serve it over! I usually get the wheat ones - make me feel like I'm being good!

First thing is to dice up some onion (just do an amount you think your kids will tolerate! LOL I did about 1/3 of the onion). Get the onion & beef into a pan & cook it up.

While that is going prepare your packets of gravy mix according to the package directions. Pour cold water into the pan with the mix & whisk it together well. THEN put it on the heat - medium. Once it begins to boil let it got for 1 more minute & turn it off.

Stir in the sour cream.

Then add your beef into the gravy.

And serve it over your noodles! Don't forget to get the noodles going while you're doing all this. I spaced it & had to let the beef gravy sit for 10 minutes while I hurried up on the noodles. Woops! Oh well - it was still yummy!

Easy, warm comfort! This sort of reminds me of something my mom & dad have mentioned from their Army days - S.O.S. (I won't decode that for anyone that doesn't already know what it stands for, sorry!) ... but they'd serve it over a slice or two of white bread/toast. I'll have to make this for them sometime - I think they would both love it.

Ground Beef Stroganoff:

1 lb ground beef
Diced onion
2 packets brown gravy mix
1/2 - 3/4 cup sour cream
Egg noodles, prepared

Brown hamburger with onion and season with some salt and pepper. Make brown gravy according to the instructions on gravy packet. When gravy is made, add sour cream to gravy mixing until it is all blended. Add ground beef to the gravy. Cook egg noodles according to directions on noodle package. Serve beef gravy over the noodles.

Source: Kristi's Kitchen Kreations.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Mint Pudding Cake

My dad's birthday was this past week & he's the kind of guy that has everything he wants - or, if he doesn't have it yet, as soon as he decides he wants it he just goes out & gets it for himself. This makes him nearly impossible to shop for... so this year I didn't even try! LOL Instead, I made him a cake - something I KNOW he can't do for himself!! I decided to try something new on him this year - and according to him & my mom it was a success! I didn't totally love it, but I was still more than willing to clean my plate! I'm sure you've all seen the 'Better Than [insert something desirable here] Cake' where you bake your cake, poke holes all over it & then pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over it, right? Well I wonder how it would be to pour pudding in those holes, instead? SUPER moist! That's how it'd be! And because plain old chocolate is practically begging to be tampered with we added in some peppermint extract. Mmmmm - chocolate mint! Love it.

Cake Ingredients:

Just look on the box & bake it as it says. Mix, oil, water & eggs.

Mix, mix...

Bake, bake....

Let it cool for a while - maybe 1/2 an hour? - and then poke, poke, poke with the handle of a wooden spoon. Be generous with those holes - you want a TON and they need to be everywhere! No more than an inch apart.

Now we're ready to move on to the filing! It's even easier than the cake part!
You'll need:

Pudding & milk! Just like the box says. And, because we're making this minty, get out your peppermint extract.

Mix up the pudding, milk & extract in a bowl.

Then immediately pour it over your cake. It won't really distribute itself much once it's been poured, so work carefully to try & get an even saturation.

Pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to set.

And now we're on to the frosting! You could just grab a jar of pre-made frosting, but there is honestly not a canister on the shelf that can even *sort of* come close to the wonderful, smooth, rich, chocolaty & perfect taste of a frosting made from scratch. It's worth the 5 minutes it takes! Really!!

You'll need:

Look on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa canister - you'll see the recipe there. It uses cocoa, powdered sugar, butter. vanilla & milk. And, of course, we're adding in more peppermint extract!

Start out melting your butter & mixing in your cocoa.

Then alternately add in powdered sugar & milk. Add a little extra milk, if you need to, to get a good consistency.

Finally, add in the vanilla & mint.

Now spread that down over your cake.

And serve it up! If you have the time/patience to let the frosting set up for a while first it'll help compensate for the supreme moistness of the cake - if not, just be aware that you won't have much contrast in your textures.

YUM! Play around with the extracts, too - I can imagine this being good with a white cake, vanilla pudding & a white butter cream with a lemon extract! Add a little zest on top. MMMmmm boy!

Chocolate Mint Pudding Cake:

1 box of chocolate cake mix
+ ingredients to prepare cake according to directions.

1 small box of pudding (I used white chocolate)
+ milk to prepare pudding according to directions
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Bake cake according to package directions. Allow to cool about 30 minute then poke hole all across the top with the handle of a wooden spoon; 1-inch apart, at most!

Prepare pudding, according to package instructions, adding in the mint extract. Immediately pour over cake, evenly distrusting across the cake.

To make frosting, melt butter, stir in cocoa. Add in milk & powdered sugar a little at a time until all is used, adding more milk if necessary. Stir in vanilla & mint. Spread frosting over cake.

Allow to set for about 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. Store leftover cake in the fridge.

Wordless Wednesday - Cousin Edition

(three of mine + 1 cousin - they actually have 13 1/2 cousins - but this is to encourage/remind/convince me that sunny days really are coming - even if I can't see them through the frigid snow right now! Brrrrr.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blackberry BBQ Chickcen

I have a habit of overcooking my meat - but somehow this time I not only didn't over-cook it, I think I probably could have cooked it a little longer. That never happens! Even Hubby was saying he though it was a little underdone - which also never happens. Oh well - it was much juicer than I like my meat to be, but everyone ate well & nobody got sick so we'll just call it a success. A mild success, but a success, nonetheless! LOL This sauce was sweet & tangy & just a perfect topping for this chicken. I think it would also taste great on pork chops!

Our ingredients:

Chicken breasts, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, blackberry jam, chili powder & salt.

I buy my white vinegar in a big gallon jug because I use it in the laundry, too - to help the towels & bedding (& any clothes that the kids had 'accidents' in!) to smell fresh. I use it in the laundry way more than cooking so it sits on the dryer normally. I always feel so strange grabbing my laundry stuff to cook with! LOL But it's all the same, right!!?

Anyway - mix everything (except the chicken, of course!) in a bowl to make your sauce.

Pour it over the chicken in a prepared baking dish.

Flip it around & get it all nicely covered.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (until it's actually DONE! :o)) basting once half way through.

You can also cook it in the crock pot on high for 3 1/2-4 hours.

Or on the grill, basting occasionally.

When it's done you'll have a nice dish of baked on mess! LOL

But it's worth it!!


Blackberry BBQ Chicken:

3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup blackberry jam
2 TBsp white vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts

Mix all the sauce ingredients. Put chicken in a prepared baking dish. Pour sauce over chicken, turning to coat. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Source: Aubrey's Recipes

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's Mint Chip Cookies (a day late!)

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day - and that means all things GREEN! Or, perhaps it does if you have it in you to plan ahead! After I tucked my kids into bed Wednesday night I jumped on Facebook to have my 'me time' and unwind & I started seeing my friends mention all the fun things they had planned for St.Patrick's Day - Leprechaun traps, green foot prints all over the house, green toilet water, all sorts of fun green meals with more green food than I think I could handle! Fun treats, special shirts - and what did I have planned!!?? That's right, folks - I just pulled any old green shirt out of their closets & called it good! LOL It was way too late for me to run out & get anything to surprise them with in the morning so instead I went to the store the next day & had these cookies ready for them when they got home from school!

The line up:

Flour, sugar, vanilla, baking powder, salt, butter, Andes chips, butter & eggs(not pictured).

Have you seen these things!?? I could seriously just sit there & chow down on a bag & mindlessly devour the entire thing without realizing it! Way more dangerous than the actual Andes Mints because there is no unwrapping to slow you down!

First up you're gonna cream the butter & sugar together (so make sure you're starting with room temp/softened butter!)

It's so pretty & white! (makes it take on the color well!) Now add the eggs & vanilla & give it another whirl.

Once you've got that all fluffy & wonderful add in your dry ingredients. If you're a responsible baker you should sift the flour, salt & baking powder together first. If you're me, just sprinkle in the salt & powder as the mixer is going, then add the flour. Blend it well & then add in your food coloring. How much? Lots! LOL The original recipe only said 8-10 drops. I did more than that & still feel like I should have done more - I was using the cheap little drops that they sell in the grocery store baking aisle. Just make the dough a little darker than you actually want your cookies since they'll lighten up a little as they bake.

Last step is to add your Andes chips!

It's like a giant bowl of mint-chip ice cream! YUM!

Scoop these out with your 1-tablespoon cookie scoop. You all have one of those, right!?? Don't have one!? GET ONE! (Name that movie, moms!!)

Bake at 375. Original recipe says 12-15 minutes. In my oven they were done at 8 minutes. You know your oven - just watch that first batch!

Breathe it in - they smell so great as they bake! As much as you'll want to eat them hot/warm, I recommend you let them cool. I ate them warm & thought *ehhh - they're OK*. Then I went back & had a cold one & thought *YUM!!!* And then I ate 3 more! LOL Danger, danger!

St. Patrick's Mint Chip Cookies:

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Green Food Coloring, 8 – 10 drops
2 cups Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips

Preheat oven to 375. Add butter and sugar to stand mixer. Cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Add vanilla and mix until light and fluffy again.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to mixer and mix on low until combined. Add enough green food coloring to get the right color. Different brands will take different amounts, but 8 – 10 drops is about what it will take. (The color of the dough should be a little darker than you want the cookie color to be.) Add mint chips and mix until incorporated.

Drop cookie dough by the tablespoon onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes at 375. Let cool.

Monday, March 14, 2011


My friend Kristi, from Kristi's Kitchen Kreations, tagged me in a Four Times Four post. Here you go!

Four Places I Go:
1. Target/Walmart/Costco - I need to go somewhere every day!
2. Little Lambs - playgroup
3. The school - 3 times a day!
4. Anywhere that'll sell me a Diet Coke from the fountain!

Four Favorite Smells:
Ok - this is where you're all gonna judge me! There is seriously something wrong with my Olfactory System! LOL Good smells smell good to me - but so do bad smells. Some of the smells that I absolutely gag on are some that a lot of people love, though - cut grass & fresh rain. My 4 favorites are probably:
1. Skunk
2. Cow manure
3. Men's deodorant
4. Lemon

Four Favorite TV Shows/Movies:
1. The Bachelor
2. Survivor
3. Glee
4. Grey's Anatomy

Four Recommendations:
1. Laugh as much as possible
2. Smile at strangers
3. Let your kids get dirty
4. Have a standing date night with your spouse

Tag Four Others:
1. Keri @ Raising Noble Men
2. Heather @ My Little Spoons
3. Jana @ Double the Deliciousness
4. Mandy @ Mandy's Recipe Box

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fry Bread Tacos (aka: Indian or Navajo Tacos)

Twelve years ago I had the chance to have a roommate that grew up on one of the Navajo reservations down in Arizona. She introduced my to fry bread. That act alone has earned her enough good karma to make it through life with blessings to spare!! LOL It was fun to watch her make it, too - no measuring at all. Just 2 handfuls of this, a few pinches of that, keep adding things until the texture is right in her hands. And it was always delicious. Me? Well - this is probably as inauthentic as possible, but sometimes you gotta take the easy route, right!? And frankly, my little white kids will never know the difference (until they spread their wings and find a friend to make the real stuff for them!) Ha! Pillsbury dough is all they get for now!

I flaked out on the ingredients photo, sorry. But all you need for the bread is a can of the classic Pillsbury Buttermilk biscuits. None of the fancy stuff.

You can have them as a treat with a little honey and/or powdered sugar and/or jam.

If you're making tacos you'll need some ground beef, cooked up like you would for tacos. And a can of chili beans - not chili - just chili beans. Lettuce, cheese, tomatoes - some of that, too!

Step 1: POP open that can & separate out the biscuits. Use a rolling pin to smash them flat. Go for 5-6 inch circles. They'll shrink back down a little when they hit the oil.

Heat about 1/2" of oil in a skillet & get it good & hot. Do you know how to check if your oil is ready to fry with? Get your fingers wet & flick some water into the pan. If it sizzles & spits back at you it's ready. If it takes a minute to crackle or if it doesn't crackle at all give it another minute to heat.

Add the dough, one or two at a time. Don't crowd the pan.

If your pan is really hot they'll only take like 30 seconds per side. If not, you'll need a little longer. Just watch them - don't let it burn!

Set them on paper towels to let the oil drip down. That's it for the bread! Wanna turn them into tacos!?!

First layer is some of the taco meat. Then the beans.

Next comes the cheese - if you put it against the hot stuff it'll melt!

Top with lettuce, cheese & whatever else you want. I usually just add salsa to that list.

ENJOY!! Yum, yum, YUM!

Fry Bread Tacos:

Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits
Oil for frying
Taco meat, prepared
Chili beans, from a can/heated
Shredded lettuce
Shredded cheese
Salsa/diced tomatoes

Open biscuits, separate dough into individual biscuits. Use a rolling pin to flatten dough into 5-6 inch circles.

Fill a skillet with 1/2" of oil & heat until flicked water spits back at you. Fry flattened dough on each side until golden; 30-60 seconds per side.

Top with meat, beans, lettuce, cheese & salsa!

Wordless Wednesday - Mystery of the Missing Hair Clips!




This mystery brought to you by Jack. Shocking, I know!