Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crisco Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

olive oil dipping sauce

When Little Big Brother was still smaller than me he would sit on my step-daddy's lap at the kitchen table and eat olives. Little Big Brother wouldn't just eat olives, though, he'd stick one on each of his fingers and eat them off one by one. And he didn't have to be with his dad to do this, either. The little man was more than willing to sit on our Mimi's lap and eat olives or even pal around with our cousin A at the table, laughing and eating olives like two peas in a pod. (If you ask them, they must be more related than Little Big Brother and I are because they're funny; I'm not one bit funny. But that's another story.)

When I'm cooking with olive oil I don't usually think much about where it came from or the many olives that had to be picked to make the beautiful oil. But I do think about where I come from and the people who helped me become the person I am today. 

With Little Big Brother off at his first day of college today, tonight seemed like a perfect night to enjoy some olive oil with dinner. It was like a sign from the heavens that I received a box full of olive oil sent by the sweet people from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meatless Monday: Veggie Calzones

veggie calzone recipe
Veggie Calzones
It's no secret that the husband and I love pizza. We eat it at least once a week. But pizza can get a little boring after awhile if you're just eating cheese or pepperoni all the time. Sometimes I even get tired of veggie pizza, and we all know I love me some veggies.

So I decided it was time we had calzones. I made the thin-crust pizza recipe we've had plenty of times before and made calzones. I split the dough recipe in half, saving half in the fridge for breadsticks or something tomorrow night (God willing the dough will keep nicely in the fridge and rise again or something). Essentially one-quarter of the dough recipe made one nice calzone. 

I filled my pocket o' pizza with low-fat mozzarella, part-skim ricotta, Italian seasonings, eggplant, onions and peppers. The husband had peppers, onions, red pepper and a lot of cheese in his. After about 12 minutes in our 450-degree-F oven we topped our calzones with a fresh tomato sauce: tomatoes, garlic, and salt and pepper I pureed in that new mini chopper I love so much.

Dinner was quick, easy, filling and meatless. What more could you want on a Monday?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Voila! Make Dinner Simple

It's true there are Sunday afternoons in which I'll happily put on my apron, heat up the kitchen with a hot oven, and spend hours and hours seeing how many dishes I can dirty just to make the husband some fancy dessert (e.g., cannoli) or a nice loaf of homemade beer bread. But I don't always want to spend a lot of time on dinner, especially if I've been out of the house all day. I love rice that'll cook itself in the steamer while I prep and bake chicken, and I'll always be a huge fan of frozen vegetables that are already cut up and ready to be cooked on the stovetop.

Seriously, can dinner get any easier than that?

Oh, yes, it can. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Honey, That's Some Good Chicken

"Whoah," was the first word that came out of the husband's mouth after taking a bite of dinner tonight.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked him. "Is that a good 'whoah' or a bad 'whoah'?"

"Tell me what you put in the chicken first."

The man drives a hard bargain.

Squash Mac 'n' Cheese Take 1

I hate to have y'all think we skipped our meatless meal this week, so I have to share my thoughts on last night's dinner with you, even though I am extremely disappointed, a bit embarrassed and was even left a little hungry after the meal was cleared. 

Pat me on the back, I actually sat down Sunday morning and made a meal plan for this week's dinners. Oh, was I looking forward to dinner last night: Squash Mac 'n' Cheese. The husband didn't scrunch up his nose at the idea of cooked vegetables in his comfort food. And, seriously, who doesn't love cheesy macaroni? Dinner was supposed to be a win-win situation all around.

So what happened?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

7 Links Project

Thanks to The Mom Chef, here's my contribution to the seven links project. I thought it'd be nicer than sending her a nasty-gram. 

1. Most Beautiful Post: Frozen Peanut Butter Pie - A Pie for Mikey

I'm in no way tagging this my most beautiful post because of my poor photography skills. A Frozen Peanut Butter Pie - a Pie for Mikey is, in my book, my most beautiful post simply because it was written with love for Jennifer Perillo, a woman I've never met but consider a very strong, wonderful wife, mother and woman. 

2. Most Popular Post: Garlic Knots Good Enough for Company

I had to check my stats on this one, and my post about garlic knots received 64 page views. I've only got a handful of followers (which is fine, but I wouldn't mind if y'all would tell your friends about me!), so 64 page views for a single post is kind of a high number. I patted myself on the back a little for that one.

3. Most Controversial Post: Pumpkin Pasta

Like Christiane, I don't tackle controversial issues here; I'd rather leave that dirty work up to someone else. So I'm taking a different angle at this one and should probably rename #3 "The Post That Caused So Much Controversy in Our House the Husband Is Still Talking About It Almost Seven Months Later." Do you remember the night we ate Pumpkin Pasta? Oh, boy. The husband is probably still having nightmares about that one. The rule in this house is usually I get three attempts at making something before it gets put on the do-not-make-that-ever-again list. Meatloaf got put on that list after three dinners. I've got a cookbook that's slowly working its way onto that list. But pumpkin pasta? I made it once. I was told never, ever to serve it again.

4. Most Helpful Post: Wakie, Wakie ... It's Time for Eggs and Bakie

I have absolutely no formal training when it comes to what I do in the kitchen. I wish I could say I've taken cooking classes or that I'm a nutritionist or a dietitian, but I'm not. So I don't feel like I share a lot of helpful instruction. I may offer a bit of helpful advice on what not to do in the kitchen or what not to feed your husband during your first year of marriage, but you're not about to get a croquembouche how-to from me. (Sorry, is that why you're here?)

But I do hope my post about sharing your breakfast helped someone out there. 

5. Surprisingly Successful Post: Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

I've been feeding the husband ground turkey for a while now, but never in the form of a meatball. I'd never messed with my meatball recipe. That's right: I'd never. And then I found a recipe for turkey meatballs that I was just dyin' to make. I wasn't sure how the husband was going to react to turkey meatballs made with spinach, but he really liked them and even suggested how I can serve them next time. The post received only two comments (I can count my own, can't I?), but the husband's comments alone really made this post successful.

6. Post That Didn't Get the Attention It Deserved: Layered Veggie Enchiladas

I won't repeat what the husband said this dinner looked like, but I will tell you that he loved it, I loved it, and we're definitely keeping this in our meatless repertoire. We ate veggie enchiladas for two nights and were happy as clams. You should check it out. I think you'll like it, too.

7. Post I'm Most Proud of: Have Some Cake, Little Big Brother

Yes, I loved all of the oohs and aaaahs Momma and I - and Little Big Brother's gf - got on the graduation cakes we made. But I really chose this as the post I'm most proud of because I'm most proud of him. And I was so happy I could make the trip and be there balling my eyes out at as he won award after award at his high school graduation. (You could say Little Big Brother is kind of a big deal. I mean, he is going to be an engineer when he grows up. At least, that's the plan. If he drops out of college and becomes a freestyle skier Momma may have a heart attack. Note to Little Big Brother: Stay in school.)

And now that I've shared my seven with you, I'm supposed to pass this along. So whose turn is it next to waste an entire hour or more of their life going through their old blog posts?

1. Carolyn over at All Day I Dream About Food has an absolutely perfect blog title, and she makes a lot of yummy-looking stuff with peanut butter and chocolate

2. Sarah at Baking Serendipity does a whole lot more than just bake, and she loves brown doggies.

3. Holly at Life as a Lofthouse makes simple ingredients come together to form great family meals. 

4. Brandie at The Country Cook makes down-home cooking and even has a recipe for spasagna.

5. Alex at The Food Diva actually went to cooking school and knows what she's doing.

6. Tiffany at The Kitchen Curtains cooks, crafts, paints. Her talent is so inspiring.

7. Megan at Wanna Be A Country Cleaver shares my name. No, really I love her blog because she takes fabulous photos and shares great-looking recipes.

Please don't hate me too much, ladies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken Kebabs From the Scratch-Made Husband

A lucky girl is one who can spend an entire Saturday afternoon in her craft room only to emerge to a husband cooking chicken kebabs for dinner. Fortunately for me, I'm that girl. The husband cut up peppers and onions, and covered chicken breasts with jerk seasoning all while I was fiddling around in a mess of fabric.

He was on a roll. But he wanted me to help him with the rice.


"What do I need to do with the rice?" I asked him. All he wanted was rice cooked on the stovetop, but, he told me, he wasn't sure what to do. He said if I could take care of the rice, he'd handle everything else. I agreed. I rinsed the rice and measured out a cup of water to 1/2 cup of jasmine rice. The rice was done in about 15 minutes and not long after that, we sat down to dinner.

I told the husband the kebabs were great - because they really were - and he agreed everything tasted really good. I had to laugh.

"Are you saying that because you made dinner?" I asked him. 

He told me he really meant it; dinner was good and he thought the rice was especially tasty. 

"I wouldn't have rinsed the rice," he told me. "I read that on the directions. but I had no idea what it meant. And I was not about to get the big colander out to 'wash' the rice."

Lucky for the husband he had me around to help him have really good, really sticky rice for dinner. Lucky for me I had the husband around to provide the chicken and vegetables to go along with our rice. Together, we made it happen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meatless Monday: Tostada Stacks

After years of not even eating eggs, I've come to love 'em when the yolk is just barely cooked. Weird.
The truth is I went to Pilates after work and no one in this household went meatless tonight. Actually, when I told the husband I was going to start taking Monday night Pilates classes his exact words were: "Sweet! No more Meatless Mondays for me!" 

I don't know where he heard that rumor. We all know he wasn't hurt by any of the vegetarian meals I fed him. But I do think he has a point. I don't think we'll be going meatless on Mondays any more. I think it'll be too hard for me to plan, stay at work late, go to class and then come home and make dinner. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie - A Pie for Mikey

Some things in life just go together: Sunday mornings and a New York Times, summer and campfires, plaid shorts and golf, chocolate and peanut butter, me and the husband. 

I could tell you all about how I held my hand to my chest and fought back tears as I read Jennie's latest post and how much it made me stop and realize how very blessed I've been. Instead I'm just going to tell you to enjoy dessert tonight and forget about the two loads of laundry that are waiting to be folded and put away. And don't worry if you have little piles of brown dog hair resting against the woodwork in your living room.

Love one another; linger over dessert. Be thankful for the day you were just given - even if your dessert comes out looking like this.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Orange You Glad I Brought a Watermelon Home?

orange watermelon

I'm not quite sure what you're supposed to do when your husband brings home a giant orange - or as the husband called it "yeller" - watermelon, but I guess we'll find out!

What do you like to do with watermelon, other than eat it with your fingers and make a mess all over your countertop?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pasta, Pesto and Chicken - Oh, My!

I'm guilty of buying the husband presents that, I'll be honest, are more for us than just him. I'll buy him a CD that'll make its way into my car after a couple of weeks. Or I'll make him something like oatmeal cookies, knowing full well I'm going to eat half the batch myself.

So when we went shopping last weekend and the husband encouraged me to buy myself a new mini-chopper, telling me mine was sooooo old and I reeeeally needed a new one, I had a feeling there was more to his enthusiasm than him just feeling bad for me and my mini hand-me-down appliance.

The man wanted pesto. And it was obvious he was tired of my mini-chopper not chopping the basil and making the worst pesto ever. Ever.

So tonight the man got what he wanted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Summer of Love

"Yeah, I love scuffed up cowboy boots
and broke in, tore up jeans,
a four wheel drive, eight point bucks,
and rocky road ice cream.
And hell yes, I love my dog
and Jack D In my Coke.
But, honey, I love your love the most."
- Eric Church

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

healthy turkey meatball recipe
Turkey Meatball Sandwiches
When I'm flipping through a cookbook looking for a new recipe to try out on the husband, I skim the ingredients. If I have all of them in the house, I stick a ripped piece of paper, junk mail, a card, a school picture of my brother, or whatever I can find in there to mark the page. So that's exactly what I did with this recipe a couple of weeks ago. I knew I had all of the ingredients in the house, but I completely forgot what they included except the turkey.

I got all of my ingredients out on the counter and realized, in addition to the spinach the husband wasn't excited about eating in his turkey meatballs, the recipe called for something else I wasn't sure the husband would go for: old-fashioned oats. Boy was I happy he wasn't home to watch me make dinner.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Monday: I Can't Read, But I Can Cook Burritos

Bean and Corn Burritos
While in a big-box store a couple of months ago the husband tells me he needs white t-shirts. I pick up a pack and throw them into the cart. "Put those back," he tells me. "These are cheaper." He replaces the shirts I had just picked up with his better, cheaper, package.

A couple of days later, the husband is getting ready for work and comes out of the bedroom laughing. "We need to return those shirts we just bought. They're for little boys!"

So there I went, back to the big-box store, a few days and told the nice lady in customer service there was nothing wrong with the shirts. 

"Unfortunately," I told her, "my husband can't read." I got a kick out of myself and, luckily, after a few seconds she realized I was making a joke and found my humor amusing, as well.

Unfortunately, I was the butt of my own joke tonight when I realized I can't read either. I guess it's good we don't need to teach the dogs to read.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Good Ol' Garlic Knots ... Again

homemade garlic knots
Garlic Knots

I've made garlic knots before, I know. But I'd never made them with the thin-crust pizza dough we're loving these days. So when I had planned to use our frozen pizza dough for pizza and the husband suggested garlic knots instead, I was a little skeptical. But it was anniversary weekend, after all, and we agreed that whatever we wanted went on anniversary weekend. And the garlic knots were a success.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homemade Salsa

canning salsa

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

That's what kept my kitchen a mess all night and left me without words to share with you.

Monday, August 1, 2011

White Beans and Rice

healthy white beans and rice

Someday I'm going to make the husband red beans and rice. After all, the poor guy has been asking for it for just about ever. I tried. Actually, I've tried twice now.

This time I swore I had kidney beans in the cupboard, but, to the husband's dismay, I only had Great Northern beans.


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