Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vegetable Udon Stir-fry

A great quick & easy meal prepared with any veggies you have!

2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green peppers, chopped
1 small can bamboo shoots
(I also included leftover broccoli slaw)

1 package refrigerated Udon noodles (in vegetable section in my grocery)
1 tbsp House of Tsang, Hunan Smokehut Spicy Grill Sauce (This stuff is great and pretty spicy!!)
Heat sesame oil and veg oil over high heat.
Add the veggs that take longer to cook first (gr pepper, carrots, celery, onion, broccoli) and saute for about 2 minutes.  Then add peas, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.
Warm noodles according to package and then mix in to the pan.  Add seasoning packet and water (I use less than they say, not to make it too watery).  Mix in and finally, add the Spicy Grill Sauce.  Mix thoroughly and enjoy!

Mustard Herb- Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I have so many cookbooks but always default to online recipes mostly due to the ease of searchability.  But I finally decided to get into my "Cooking Light Annual Recipes of 2008" cookbook last weekend.  No, 2008 is not a typo :p
Chris actually ended up preparing this for us since I was running late and it was delish!  Posted below with our modifications.

1/2 oz. unseasoned bread crumbs (or 1 slice slightly stale white bread)
2 tbsp dried parsley
3 tbsp grated cheese (parm, romano, etc.)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 - 1 lb. pork tenderloin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2-3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove (minced)

Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
Combine crumbs, parsley, cheese, and thyme.
Sprinkle pork w/s and p.
Combine mustard & minced garlic and rub on pork.
Rub pork in breadcrumb mixture.
Bake at 375 for approximately 45 minutes, until thermometer reads 170 deg.

More yard work

Some updates!

The garden fence is painted, still waiting to be put up.  Table is cleaned off and we are very much looking forward to moving our meals outdoors.

 Our big bleeding heart plant, unfortunately with a poison ivy vine twisting through :(  I'm not touching it!!

Large side garden weeded and mulched-

 Iris coming up and peonies getting tall!

 Some more mulching in the neglected front area :/

Easy Sautéed Asparagus

Quick & easy!

Bend asparagus until the bottoms break off, discard in your compost.
Add ~1-2 tsp vegetable oil to sauté pan, heat to M-H.
Add asparagus and salt to taste.  Sauté for approximately 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently until asparagus is bright green and cooked through but still crunchy.  Enjoy!!

Slow Baked Spare Ribs

This was a baby back rib recipe that I modified.  Chris likes spare ribs and I don't particularly, but they are all that were in stock w/our local farmer so spare ribs it is!  They are fattier than I would prefer but I couldn't deny these were SO good.  So take a smaller portion and enjoy :)

~1-2 lbs spare ribs
1 large onion, cut
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
Mix all ingredients in measuring cup.  Place 1/2 of the onion pieces in the bottom of a large baking dish, cover with ribs, and add the rest of the onions.  Pour sauce to cover, place glass lid on the dish, and bake at 350 for 2-3 hours.  Ribs will be falling apart!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bathroom Demo Continued

We had a busy Saturday this week - continuing to rip down plaster in the upstairs bathroom to expose the stone.  We also removed everything from the adjacent shower stall.  Both spaces will be combined to create a larger bathroom.


After!  It is a 2 step process; removing the bulk of the plaster to expose the stone, and then cleaning out the old mortar from in between the stones so it can be repointed.  You can see the cleaner side on the right.

And the still-filled-with-mortar side here.

And the shower stall is gutted:

Baked Eggplant Parm

A much healthier and still delicious version of the classic.

1 medium - large or 2 small eggplants
Seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg, whisked
drizzle of EV Olive Oil
1/2 package pasta
pasta sauce

Rinse & cut up eggplant into large slices.
Dip each slice in the whisked egg and then coat with bread crumbs.  Place eggplant slices on greased cookie sheet.  Drizzle lightly with EV Olive Oil - this will help them brown.
Prepare pasta as per package instructions.  Heat sauce in separate pot.
Bake eggplant at 350 for approximately 45 minutes, turn up to 400 for a final 15 minutes.

Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken

We have made this both baked and slow cooked and it's great both ways.

1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs.), giblets removed
2 tbsp each of basil, parsley, garlic powder, kosher salt, and onion powder
2 whole lemons, quartered
1 pint water

Place chicken in slow cooker and season.  Place quartered lemons around chicken, and 2 inside the cavity.
Add water and cook on low for 9 hours.

You can make gravy with the juices if you wish, we were too hungry this time!

Garden Step 1

We got our garden in last weekend!
We ended up using Trex Decking planks for the edging since standard wood would fall apart eventually and treated wood is a no-no for a veggie garden.  We got a few bags of cow manure as well to add some nutrients to the soil although we think it is in pretty good shape - there were a  LOT of worms in there!  We also did a quickie soil test kit...luckily the pH is great and does not have to be adjusted.  Here are some photos:

Our awesome custom painted wheelbarrow ready to go - our 1st anniversary gift from my sister!

Lily found the Bovung very interesting-

Our $75 Craigslist special rototiller ready to go.

Chris finished while I painted the fence we got from his parents'.  Love to reuse!

Needs another tilling to chop up the chunks from putting the boards in but we were done for the day.

And a peek of the front where the peonies are coming up!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Garden Plans!

We are close to installing our garden... I planted the seeds that are to be started indoors this weekend. I purchased all our seeds from Seed Savers Exchange a few months ago and have been eagerly awaiting this time!

I have the seeds of:

2 kinds of beans
Brussel Sprouts
2 kids of carrots
2 kinds of cucumbers (one for salads, one that's for pickling)
Lettuce mix
Red onion
Yellow onion
Sunflower mix

I am planning on buying plants of basil, parsley and cilantro as well.

I discovered GrowVeg.com which is a great website to lay out your garden!  It helps with companion planting but I liked this Site as a better reference.  There is a free 30 day trial on growveg, which I am doing now.  This is the initial plan I drafted for our 10x30' raised bed, using marigolds & sunflowers as companion flowers.  The top row is along the outside fenceline so the peas & beans can climb.

Here is a picture of Lily playing from today which also shows where the garden will be; along that side fenceline.

Hopefully next weekend we will get the lumber and construct the raised bed...can't wait!

Bird Nest Cupcakes

I planned to make two kinds of cupcakes, both from scratch, for Easter.  Well, neither ended up being from scratch :p
I really wanted to make Annie's Baby Bluebird Cupcakes, but ended up going with nests as time was running out!  Still very cute and delicious :)

Make cake...I used the always fun Funfetti cake from Pillsbury:
Toast coconut over medium heat, stirring constantly.


Make chocolate icing - I used this recipe.

Ice cupcakes and cover with toasted coconut-

Add M&Ms or any other candy that resembles an egg, and Voila!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Yum!  A classic favorite.  I fully intended on making these From Annie's Eats, but with company coming and time running out, I cheated and used this boxed mix:
It's a good one...there are shredded carrots & raisins in the box so it really seems homemade, and it really did come out very moist!

I did, however, make my own icing, following this recipe exactly.

The fun part is the decorating :)


Baked Pineapple

Like scalloped potatoes, I don't think I will make a ham without this anymore!  Slightly fattening but so good!
Recipe from allrecipes.com with minor omissions/ changes.  1 cup of sugar made it pretty sweet, so I would reduce it for next time, as indicated below.  I also mistakenly used DOUBLE the amount of butter I should have...doing too many things at once apparently!  I noticed while preparing that it was very moist and added more bread.  But it wasn't really tooooooooo bad with a ton of butter (taste-wise, not cholesterol-wise!).  So I would increase the butter from the recipe...just not quite so much as I did yesterday ;)

3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks), softened
3/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup if you like things very sweet)
5-6 slices slightly stale white bread (I left them out overnight)
1- 20 oz. can pineapple chunks
4 eggs

Blend butter and sugar until well mixed.

Add the eggs one at a time until blended.
Add pineapple chunks (with juice) and torn up pieces of bread.

Bake at 350 for approximately one hour

The complete meal with spiral sliced ham, scalloped potatoes, and roasted broccoli:

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes are a necessary accompaniment to ham for me.  We love them!
I combined a few recipes I found on allrecipes.com to create one that worked best for us.  We don't like a lot of cheese or too heavy of a sauce, so this blend of broth with a bit of milk works great.  Here is my favorite scalloped potato preparation.

6 large potatoes
1 large onion
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup milk

Peel potatoes and then slice them with mandolin slicer into 9x13 baking dish.  Do the same with the onion, mix together, and add salt and pepper (as you can see, s&p has not been added as of this picture!).

Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour.  Slowly add broth and milk, stirring constantly.  Add cheese and stir until slightly melted.  Pour over potatoes and bake at 350 for 1 hour.


says hello!

Easy Breakfast Strata

This could be dressed up with whatever you have in the fridge.  Leftover broccoli would be a great addition!

5 eggs
~3/4 cup breakfast sausage, grilled and chopped (this was about 1/2 of one of our packages from the local farm)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 tube crescent rolls

Mix all ingredients except sausage with a wire whisk until well blended.
Lay the crescent roll dough in the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish.
Put sausage in dish and cover with egg mixture
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.