Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Eating In

I spent most of today in the kitchen. I actually followed THREE recipes. Well, kind of. That's a big deal for me because I don't like following recipes, which is why I don't bake. I tend to think of something I want to cook, read three or four different recipes and then do my own thing. Or, at the most, I'll look at the list of ingredients and just kind of eyeball everything.

The first things I made were Pecan Cinnamon Muffins from Laura Rebecca's Kitchen. I really like her blog and these sounded great when I was doing a search for breakfast items yesterday. I also used the KitchenAid mixer for the first time all by myself. I don't bake - EVER, so I'd never had a need to use it before. Granted - Tim had to show me how to use it, but I figured it out. :) I thought the batter was really thick and I was concerned I had done something wrong, but they turned out great. Okay, I'll be honest. I did do one thing wrong. I forgot to add the vanilla. They taste fine, though, but I'm sure the vanilla would have put them over the top. We've each had one and we enjoy them a lot. I did double the amount of everything in the topping, like she suggested. I like a lot of the crumbly topping, so it was great.

The second thing I made was a marinade for chicken. My friend Scott sent me a recipe for a bourbon marinade a couple of years ago and we really liked it. After exhaustive searches on our emails, we weren't able to find it, but after doing some internet searching, I think we found the right recipe. Tim is going to marinade the chicken breasts tomorrow afternoon and we'll grill them tomorrow night. I figure we can have the chicken breasts and some sort of side dish tomorrow night, and may be salads with chicken the following night.

The third thing I made was potato salad. This is one of those times when I just looked at someone's recipe and used mostly the same ingredients and did my own thing. I left out the celery because I really don't like it raw and the scallions because we didn't have any. It's in the refrigerator right now kind of absorbing the flavors. I also used white potatoes instead of russets. I wanted a more waxy potato than starchy. This was from Simply Recipes - a site I consult quite often as a jumping-off place for a lot of dishes I make. I've never made potato salad before, so from the little taste I've had, I really like it. The real test will be tomorrow once all the flavors have soaked into the potatoes and eggs.

Speaking of eggs, I have found the secret to hard-boiling eggs without getting that nasty greenish hue to the yolks. The color doesn't affect the taste, but it's definitely not as pretty as when it's just yellow.

I did take pictures of both the muffins and the potato salad but they turned out terrible. How do people take pictures of food that don't look awful? Maybe I shouldn't be using white plates? Maybe I shouldn't be using my flash? I don't know - if you have a food blog and take pictures of food, I'd love to hear your secret.

Eating in this weekend

We are on a bit of a tight budget lately. Okay, we've been on one for a long time. It's a little tighter than usual right now because we're going to Maine for Christmas and we're trying to save for presents, hotel room, and rental car. We are also going to Kai for dinner to celebrate our birthdays on December 1. We're really excited about it - it's one of those places we've been talking about for ages, but it's so expensive, we have to really save for it.

So for that reason, we are eating in this weekend. Yesterday, I made scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes and bacon from VonHanson's. It was great. Here's a picture of my plate with some of everything.

Tim actually made the bacon because he's a lot better at it than I am. I tend to get impatient. The way we do bacon is put it on a rack on a cookie sheet. That way, the bacon gets crispy without sitting in its own grease and it doesn't splash grease everywhere like it does when you do it on the stovetop. Tim has figured out the perfect way to do it, which is quite involved with timers and such. :) I whipped the eggs with a little milk and salt and pepper. I used to over-cook them all the time, but I have to say I've gotten really good at getting them just right. They were creamy and fluffy.

We also had some fingerling potatoes left from the bag I bought earlier this week for dinner so I sliced those into discs and added some chopped onion and fried them in a little butter and olive oil. If I'd had any bacon grease, I would have added some of that too, but I didn't. I've started saving it, though, and will probably be using it a lot.

This morning I slept in quite late. That's the best part of Sundays, right? When I woke up, Tim had already started the bacon and was in the process of making pancakes. I like mine with chocolate chips - they were always a special treat from my dad, so I've always listed them among my favorite comfort foods. Tim does a great job of making them, too.

Last night, I made fettuccine alfredo, with a green salad and garlic bread. I forgot to take a picture, though. I made a salad with chopped romaine hearts, mushrooms, corn, and red onion with a little Italian dressing. The fettuccine was made with both Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses to give it a lot of flavor. I always forget, though, how filling it is and I made way too much, which we just ended up just throwing away. I don't know what it is about fettuccine, but I don't like it the next day. We haven't decided what's for dinner tonight yet, but I'm sure I'll put something here about it...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Holy Grail

Through Chowhound and blogging, we've met some great people. One of those people is named Mike. We've never met him in person, but have chatted with him online on several occasions about food. Tim did a post on his blog a couple days ago about the elusive Vosges bacon candy bar. He got a comment from Mike saying that he had two of them and that we could have one. He came over this morning with it. If you remember, this is the candy bar we traipsed all over God's green earth looking for, to no avail. We came close at one candy store, but because of the heat in Phoenix, it was far too expensive to ship chocolate here. They said they would be getting it in the fall, so I've been anticipating it for months.

Well, Mike just stopped by our house about 10 minutes ago. We barely had enough time to take this picture...

...before I was tearing into it and making animal sounds of pleasure. First bite. Just chocolate. Second bite. Let it melt in your mouth, see what you can taste. Third bite. Fourth bite. I can feel the bacon pieces because they're crunchy, but they don't really taste like bacon unless I suck off all the chocolate and just eat the bacon. There is also some smoked salt in there. I can taste it, but barely. Not like the Barcelona bar. As a candy bar, it is very tasty. It was a bit of a letdown, though, because I didn't feel like the bacon was a very dominant flavor. I'm thrilled that I finally got one, but I wish the bacon flavor were a bit more pronounced.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Never Thought I'd See The Day

When I left work yesterday, this was what my car temperature was reading. I never thought the day would come when I would walk out of a building into 95 degree weather and think "I'm so happy it's finally cooling down!" Never thought I'd see the day.
The weather is definitely starting to turn, though, which is making everyone happy. Once the sun goes down, it gets down into the mid-80's and it's almost chilly!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Corn-y Goodness

I found a recipe yesterday for scalloped corn yesterday that I really wanted to try. So when I got home from work, I made some meatloaf, mashed potatoes and scalloped corn. I was going to take a picture, but I left work late and by the time everything was done cooking, we were too hungry to take pictures. I found the recipe here but made a few changes because, well, that's what I do.

I used 2 cups of frozen corn - half yellow and half white. I don't know why I did half and half, but that's what I wanted to do. I also did not pre-cook the corn since frozen corn basically just needs to defrost. I used Ritz crackers and I mixed some into the corn mixture, as well as sprinkling on top. They absorbed quite a bit of the liquid, though, and if I did that in the future, I would probably up the amount of milk. I also did not add the green pepper because Tim doesn't like it, but I did add garlic. In my opinion, all the best things in the world start out with sauteed onions and garlic - am I right? I had originally started to make just a half batch since it's just the two of us, but it didn't look like much and I'm glad I made the whole batch. I had leftovers for lunch today and they were just as delicious as last night. I may even make it for Thanksgiving this year. It will be just the two of us as usual, so there's always a ton of food.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Breakfast

Most Sundays, we like to eat in. We sleep in, make breakfast together, and just kind of have a lazy Sunday. This morning we had French Toast and bacon. Tim got the bacon on his trip to Midwestern Meats yesterday. He tends to cook bacon much better than I usually do, so he was in charge of that and I made French Toast. We had some challah bread and I mixed some eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and soaked the bread for a few seconds on each side and cooked them on our griddle. They turned out great.
The bacon turned out great too. We LOVE VonHanson's double-smoked bacon. It's almost sweet and cooks up perfectly. The stuff Tim got at Midwestern Meats is our new second favorite, though. It's got some of the sweetness and cooks up perfectly, too. A couple of weeks ago, we tried some of the applewood-smoked bacon from Hobe Meats, a butcher here in Phoenix. It was okay, although nowhere near VonHanson's, though.
I love Sundays - sleep in, good food, lazy day.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Tim and I bought a gas grill Labor Day weekend. We'd been threatening to do it for a couple of years now, but there was always something - the one we wanted wasn't in stock, we didn't have the money, whatever. We've used it a lot since we got it and we love it. I hadn't had a grill since I moved out of my parents' house and I forgot how nice it is to not have to heat up the kitchen and how great everything tastes.

We've been wildly successful with chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers. The only thing we had trouble with was steak. Tonight was the fourth steak I've tried. The first one was very tough. The flavor was pretty good, but it was almost impossible to chew. The second two turned out similar. The first steak was purchased at VonHanson's Meats and it was called "grill steak". I can't remember what cut he said it was, but it was extremely lean and probably wasn't the best choice for grilling. It would have been a lot better off marinating and then grilled. I bought two steaks at Safeway a couple days later and naturally, I can't remember what cut they were either.

One of the food blogs I read on a regular basis, Andrea's Recipe Box, had this post about steaks, which led me to another blog with a post about cooking steaks. This method intrigued me so much, I had to try it.

After breakfast this morning, I wasn't feeling well and I came home and took a nap. Tim was feeling a little restless, though, and decided to drive around aimlessly for a while. He came back with lots of goodies and one of them was a ribeye from Midwestern Meats. I used the salt method before cooking it and we fired up the grill. I grilled it about 10 minutes one each side at medium-high and when it reached about 155 degrees on my probe thermometer, I took it off. It was absolutely delicious. Certainly one of the best steaks I'd had in a long time. What a difference it makes when you buy a good cut of meat instead of the cheapest. Tim had a bite and he said the steak was so good it may even convert him. He has never really liked steak in the past, but he had several bites of mine and loved it. I'll turn him around in no time! My favorite part of the night, though, was just standing outside at 9:00 pm and it was only 82 degrees. We were watching our food cook, enjoying the gorgeous weather, and just talking. It was a good night. My man, my steak, and a lovely night. What more could a girl want?

The Good Egg

Tim and I had breakfast this morning with my friend Stephanie and her husband Jeff. We went somewhere close to their house, which is in the west valley. There isn't much as far as "foodie" places in the west valley so we let them pick. We met at The Good Egg on 83rd Ave & Union Hills. We had gone to The Good Egg in Scottsdale a couple of years ago but neither of us could remember what we'd had. The food was mediocre at best. It's a chain and nothing special. Tim had one of their skillets and I had a "traditional" breakfast - eggs, bacon, potatoes and an english muffin. Nothing special, but we were there more for the company.

Stephanie and I used to work together. The company we worked for isn't around anymore for a variety of reasons, and is actually in some legal trouble. There are a few lawsuits going around over some of the things that happened there, so there's always a lot to talk about.

I miss the people from that job - we were all friends and very close. We used to go to work in the morning and hug each other hello. We would look out for each other and take care of each other. A few of us still stay in touch, although not as much as we'd like. Whenever I get together with the people from that job, I just end up sad that we don't all work together anymore. So to all of you from that old job, I miss you guys!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where Were You?

When I was cruising through the television schedule this weekend, I saw that one of the news stations is re-broadcasting their 9/11 footage today, exactly as it appeared on that day. I'm glad I am not home because I would feel compelled to watch it.

Where were you when you heard the news? I know you know. It's like knowing where you were when Kennedy was shot, when Elvis died, during OJ's slow-speed police chase, when the Challenger exploded. I was in my car, driving to work. I was listening to the radio and the station I listened to was well-known for joking around and they said that a plane had been flown into one of the towers at the World Trade Center. I remember thinking to myself, "that's not funny. Why are they saying that?" It was like when I thought the news coverage about Princess Diana was a Saturday Night Live news skit. That's not funny - why are they doing that?

I continued on to work and there was a television on in the conference room. Everyone was standing around and watching, and no work was getting done. Our CEO came in and told everyone to get to work and had IT disable the internet connection so we would get some work done. She wasn't exactly a warm fuzzy person. When I got home from work, though, I watched TV all night and couldn't believe what I'd seen. I was with my friend Cheryl and her two kids watching the news and her daughter, about 4 or 5 at the time, asked "mommy, how many times is that plane going to run into the building?" We turned off the TV at that point. They just kept showing it over and over and she didn't understand that it wasn't multiple planes.

A few short months later, my grandma on my dad's side passed away. I think it was those two events, so close to each other, that made me think about moving to another place and trying to start a new life. I realized how short life really is and I wanted to try to make some changes and be happier. I looked into moving to Colorado because I had visited there during high school and fell in love with it. I was at the point of looking for jobs and apartments in Colorado Springs when I decided to move to Phoenix instead. It's hard to believe I've been here for over five years. Sometimes it seems like I've been here forever, and other times, it feels like I just arrived.

I hope everyone takes at least a minute or two today to remember what happened on this day six years ago. I know I have.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hooray! Christmas in Maine!

Tim's parents bought us tickets to go out to Maine for Christmas this year! I love going out there to visit. It's always so nice because the only thing we really have to do while we're out there is relax. When we go to Minnesota, there are dozens of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to see and we spend the whole time running from place to place. Lunch with that person, dinner with those friends, drinks with this person. It's exhausting. In Maine, though, all we do is relax. We sleep in and lounge the whole time.

Thanks for the tickets, Charlie & Cathy!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Excellent Advice

Sometimes you meet someone and they tell you something that just makes so much sense.

Thursday night, we went out for dinner at Osha Thai in Scottsdale - definitely our favorite Thai restaurant in the area. We know the waitresses there very, very well because we go so often and they are really friendly. We had originally tried to go last Saturday, but they were closed for the holiday weekend. We were teasing the waitress that next time they take time off, they need to check with us. I told her that we were there on Saturday and were disappointed they weren't open. She said, in her lightly accented halting English, "You need to call. Nobody answer, don't come."

Excellent advice. Excellent. Thank you. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Because Sometimes You Just Need to Laugh...

Happy Labor Day!

Today is a day to honor the working man and woman and since I work more than most people I know, I've decided to honor myself. So, to do that, it is 10:27 am in the morning and I'm still in bed. That's not unusual for a weekend day, but for a Monday, it's downright decadent.

It's been a rough weekend, for a number of reasons, which I'm not going to get into. Let's just say I'm not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. I have a feeling there's going to be some drama, and I'm not looking forward to it.

Speaking of decadence, yesterday was spent almost entirely in bed. I was exhausted! Friday night and Saturday morning were tough and I had a massive headache and various muscle aches and pains. Tim was tired, too, and we didn't even leave the house yesterday at all. I'm getting a little cabin fever, though, so maybe today we'll actually go out in public at some point. :)