Monday, December 14, 2009

Peppering the Pot

Today was a VERY busy day. Not so much at work, but after work I was running around like a mad woman! First there were computers to pick up. We're back to 4 working laptops! YAY! Especially yay given that there are only 2 we like to work on - 1 for Thatboy and 1 for me, and while his is working wonderfully, it was my favorite that was in the shop.

Next came a stop at the library. I love the local library system that lets me "order" books from any library in the county to pick up a couple blocks from my house. BUT, I've been a very fortunate girl to receive quite a few books for Channukah and "just cause" so it was time to drop off the library books I had.

Then there was a run to the grocery store, which luckily also had a bank so I could deposit some money, pick up some fixings for dinner, and of course, the requisite stamps so I could send out our holiday cards.

Things haven't slowed down since I've been home since I got right to work burning some Christmas mix cds. This meant, as usual, that I needed a quick dinner - and if you know anything about me by now, that means chicken! With some bell peppers and onions - kind of like you would normally pair with steak, or sausage...but you may remember I used up the leftover freezer steak earlier this week. So chicken it was!

Chicken with Bell Peppers and Onions
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 chicken breast
2 Tbsp avocado oil - well, you can use olive oil...we've switched over to avocado oil in Thathouse
1 small onion, sliced
1 small green pepper, sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock

1. Mix flour, 1 tsp seasoned salt and 1/2 tsp lemon pepper in a shallow bowl. Coat chicken with flour, and reserve remaining flour.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Cook 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet. Once cool, slice chicken into strips.
3. Add onions and bell peppers to skillet and cook 5 minutes while stirring.
4. Mix broth, reserved flour, and 1/2 tsp garlic salt. Add to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 1 minute. Add chicken back to skillet and toss with bell peppers and onion.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The last baby of 2009

On Friday, December 4, we welcomed Trois into the world. Trois is the third (and last) child of my friend Myrtle. Myrtle claims that Trois was the easiest of her three deliveries, by now she's a pro at this thing. I was thrilled that Trois arrived so early in December because it meant Thatboy and I could meet before our holiday travels.

I'd love to say Trois was delighted to meet us, but she seemed a little underwhelmed by the whole situation. Mostly she did a lot of sleeping. And cuddling with Thatboy. But who can blame her - wouldn't you like to cuddle with Thatboy?

Myrtle on the other hand was wide awake, and looking unbelievably gorgeous. She's been doing a lot of resting though and has some help from the family in dealing with her other two children, both of whom are in love with their new baby sister.

We brought over some food to help the family along, including some groceries Myrtle was running low on. Who would have thought someone could be so grateful for blueberries! And of course we had to bring presents for Un and Deux! (And maybe some alcoholic enjoyment for Myrtle and her husband)

Add ImagePoppyseed Chicken (renamed "Un's Chicken with Ants"
...because there's nothing 5 year old boys like better than bugs. Except pirates of course)

Lentil Soup (or "Deux's Melted Crayon Soup")

Italian Wedding Soup (or Trois's Baby Meatball Soup)

Roast Chicken with aspargus and roasted potatoes (or Myrtle's Wee-licious Roasted Chicken)

Corn Bread (or Wonderland Bread)

Mr. Myrtle's Baby-Q Pulled Pork

And of course, Friday marked the first night of Channukah.

We spent the first night with Thatmom, Thatbrother, and UDubb sharing a dinner and exchanging gifts. It turned into the Thatgirl show since everyone wanted to shower me with gifts. YAY me!

We spent the second night with Thatmom, seeing a movie and having a dinner out.

Tonight we were back home in Thathouse, sharing gifts and eating latkes. We're just sooo predictable this time of year.

And our finished Christmas tree - presents and all:

Happy Channukah to all those who celebrate!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Teriyaki - not just for chicken

I'll be the first to admit it, chicken and teriyaki go together like peanut butter and jelly. And I fall back quite often on making an easy lunch by tossing together some chicken and teriyaki sauce.

But teriyaki works equally as well with that leftover steak you've got in the freezer just begging to be used. Yup, that's right - I'm trying to use up freezer foods again! Mostly because I'm in the process of another "new mom" batch of food and I need all the freezer space I can get. Between making my new mom food, and the fact that TWO of my coworkers have birthdays this week, I'm also falling back on whatever I can make quickly for Thatboy and I to eat. Yes, sometimes we suffer so others can benefit. We're good sports. Although it is easy to be a good sport when you get something warm and filling in your stomach.

This is also another one of those "fill up with veggies" meals. I was able to use a small piece of steak to feed both Thatboy and I by adding a ton of fresh vegetables into the mix. It's the perfect trick to keep a meal light while leaving you satisfied.

Teriyaki Beef
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups of your favorite veggies
1/4 lb sirloin steak, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 tsp crushed ginger
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
  1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Add veggies, stirfry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add steak and cook until meat is cooked through.
  3. Stir in ginger and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in teriyaki sauce and cook until the sauce is heated.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Proof that I read into your comments

Well, due to the resounding lack of response to my last post, I'm going to assume that most of y'all aren't really into the idea of a holiday cd mix exchange. However, for the three of you that are, I'll personally send you a mix - just for playing. Jenny - if you could email me your address (contact info on my profile page) that would help.

For the rest of you - I'll get back to what you're more obviously interested in. Food. Growing up in a small town, I didn't have a wide selection of Asian cuisine available to me. We had one Chinese restaurant and one Vietnamese restaurant. But I grew up completely addicted to the Girl Talk series of books. One of my most vivid memories of the book is one of the girls in the group, Randy Zak was cool and from New York and her mother and she ate thai food takeout - straight from the container. First, I ADORE the idea of eating food out of a paper takeout carton. I'm always trying to get Thatboy to bring home cartons we can eat out of with chopsticks. But there are two problems with this. You'd be surprised how few places actually use them anymore, and it makes it hard to eat family style, which is how we usually eat. The other thing I got from the books is the exoticness of Thai food - which I always wanted to try. As soon as I was out of the house, Thai food became a staple in my diet. Luckily Thatboy is equally as interested in Thai food and the first two years of our relationship we had a semi-permanent booth at a local place near our college.

Thai food is one of those cuisines that is a little intimidating for me to make at home, so I usually go out when I have a craving. And it's just so easy because the place a block from our house is fantastic, and the waitstaff all know me. When I do make it at home, I go the easy route and usually use a premade curry which I then add meat and veggies to. But I have been looking for curry paste to attempt to make my own - and a couple weeks ago I found it. (I know, I wasn't looking very hard....I work right beside an Asian market. I just always forget to pick some up when I'm there.)

Once I had the curry paste, it wasn't very difficult to throw together the remaining ingredients. And this way I could add as much coconut milk as I wanted! Some of the Thai recipes I've attempted and featured in this blog are a little labor intensive, but this is insanely easy. Almost a cheater recipe. And while it won't ever take the place of my neighborhood haunt, if you pick up a takeout carton from Michaels you can eat it right in front of the tv!

Shrimp in Red Curry
1/2 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1/2 cup of snow peas and red bell pepper, sliced
1 Tbsp fish sauce

  1. Heat coconut milk in skillet, just until simmering and stir in curry paste and sugar, sturring until disolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp and veggies to coconut curry mix. Cook until shrimp just turns pink.
  3. Stir in fish sauce and remove from heat.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Proof that I read your comments

First, I'll address Amber who requested a post dedicated to my favorite Christmas songs.
In no particular order:

  • Baby I't's Cold Outside - I'm a fan of the original, with Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams from one of my all time favorite movies. But I have probably 5 different versions of the song. Thatboy and I do a rousing rendition that brings down the house.
  • The Chipmunk Song - The Chipmunks (obviously)
  • You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
  • Heatmiser and Coldmiser - I have no idea who sings these, but they're from my favorite Christmas movie, "the year without a santa clause"
  • Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
  • Melekelikimaka - Bing Crosby
  • Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
  • Christmas in Killarny - Bing Crosby
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin
  • Last year, Thatboy and I went to New York City the first weekend in December and while we were attending Avenue Q, the cast members were selling a cd called "Carols for Cure" to raise money for We purchased one and it is currently my all time favorite Christmas cd. It features the cast of every show on Broadway last year singing a Christmas (or Channukah) song. I love every song on the cd but my two favorites are:
* I Wonder As I Wander - The Broadway Cast of Spring Awakening
* Christmas In My Mobile Home -The Broadway Cast Great American Trailer Park Musical

Second - I'm using y'all as a sounding board. Inspired by Laura's 560 song mix, I was inspired with an idea. How would you feel about a holiday mix exchange? Different than your typical recipe exchange or ornament exchange, participants would each make a mix cd with their favorite holiday songs and then send it to some one else. What do you think? Would you be interested? And this could be done one of two ways to protect privacy. Option 1: I could collect the names and addresses of everyone who wants in and match them up, then email you with the address of your match to send the cd. Option 2: if it makes you feel safer, you can all send me the cds and then I can send them out to your match. In the comment section let me know if you'd want to participate and whether you'd rather option 1 or option 2.

And for those of you who HATE Christmas music, and only tune in for the pictures and recipes, well I wouldn't want to disappoint you.

Slaw Burger
  • 1/2 cooked brow rice
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup cole slaw
  1. Combine rice, ground beef, and taco seasonings and form into two patties.
  2. Grill patties over medium high heat until cooked through (about 10 minutes)
  3. Top each burger with 1/4 cup coleslaw.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

Tonight after work Thatboy began what will go down in the history books as "preparation for the holidays weekend." Technically I started it earlier when I started creating my "Christmas Mix." It's something I've been known for since college, and although it's never been as large a selection as when I was in college, this year we're at 300 songs. The roadtrip later this month is going to be SO much fun.

Tonight we went and picked out our Christmas tree. The best part about being married to a Jewish girl is that there are no fights about Christmas. I leave it entirely in Thatboy's hands. Thatboy grew up with real Christmas trees, so we have always gone out to get real Christmas trees.

We packed up Thatdog and headed to our local lot (that does free delivery - score!) We love the people here, and Thatdog loves running around the lot.

This is Thatdog impersonating a deer in headlights. We call this his "goat ears" look. I have no idea why he does this with his ears whenever we try to take his picture.

I picked out three trees which Thatboy vetoed. Then he picked out a 9 footer, which I vetoed. Eventually we found this guy! See how the light above looks like a tree topper?

Now look how the light above looks like a Thatboy topper!

All picked out, they wrapped up our tree and we headed home to make dinner and wait for the delivery.

Decorating the tree is a whole event in itself and will be done some night this weekend - complete with movies and hot chocolate! But Thatboy just can't wait and as soon as the tree came he had to put the lights on it.

While he got to work on the tree, I got to work on dinner - the ugliest chicken ever. It's an easy recipe, but yields a less than attractive result. At least it tastes delicious! And it's red - perfect for our pre-holiday festivities.

Salsa Chicken
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 jar of your favorite salsa
  1. Heat oil over medium high heat. Cook the chicken 5 minutes per side, until brown.
  2. Add salsa to chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mango Tango

Have I told y'all my mango story? Thatmom is SERIOUSLY allergic to mangoes, so we never had them in the house growing up. Apparently mango allergies aren't that uncommon as the mango is in the same family as poison ivy and the skin contains the same chemical. And because it's the oil of the mango that causes the problems, Thatmom has had a reaction requiring trips to the emergency room just by having someone who has recently touched a mango, touch her.

So until I was in my late teens, I never hade a mango, and I never knew what I was missing. Then, when Thatmom was out of town for a week, Thatdad did it - he brought home a mango! He had dutifully given them up upon finding out about Thatmom's allergy, but he never forgot their splendor. I remember watching with awed anticipation as he removed the thick, colorful peel and revealed the bright yellow flesh beneath. And I think I can remember my first wonderful bite. I was hooked. From then on, we had a 3 day rule. As long as Thatmom was out of town for longer than 3 days, we'd celebrate her leaving with mango! The three day rule has stuck with me, and I've imparted it on Thatboy - we don't eat mango within 3 days of seeing Thatmom. But otherwise, all bets are off.

I pack mango in our lunches, we have mango sorbets and margaritas, and one of the few times we order dessert out is when mango and sticky rice is on the menu.

This summer when I was ALL over the fruit salsa kick, I whipped up some mango salsa. It was excellent over shrimp, but went just as well with chips when Thatboy brought it into work for his coworkers. I also imagine it would be lovely with fish....if you like that kind of stuff.

Mango Salsa
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 papaya, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 serrano chili pepper, sliced (the more seeds you remove, the less spicy the salsa will be)
  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. Refrigerate overnight to let flavors marry

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Port of Call

Thatboy had to work on his actual birthday, and since it was a weekday, we decided to celebrate the big day with a dinner for just the two of us. I let Thatboy pick what restaurant he wanted to go to, and he nearly instantly responded with "Pizza Port." Pizza Port is one of Thatboy's favorite "after surf" hang outs. Although the pizza is good, Pizza Port is better known for their award winning brews. They've been featured in Bon Apetit, and just took home a bunch of gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival in September. They also won best in show at a local San Diego beer festival - which is important because San Diego is microbrew nation.

So naturally, we started off with beer! I went with the Shark Attack - a red that won the gold medal in its category at the Great American Beer Festival. Thatboy went with the Cardiff Cream Ale - which was much better than I would have expected.

To go with our beers we orderd the spicy hot wings. When we ordered them, everyone who worked there made it seem like a bad idea. "Those are REALLY hot" the cashier said. "REALLY HOT" said the young woman flipping dough. Thatboy likes a challenge, so we ordered them anyway. The first wing wasn't so bad, but these things have a SLOW burn. Soon Thatboy and I had eyes tearing up, looking around for something to help.

This garlic bread didn't help at all. It was so garlicy and spicy that it only intensified the wings. We discovered that the best thing was to just keep eating the wings. Once you got a rhythm going, they weren't so bad at all.

No matter where Thatboy works, he ends up with a work boyfriend. Right now, that boyfriend is N. Every day Thatboy comes home from work with a "N did this" or "N said that." They ride the train home together every day, so they get loads of good romantic time. Well, when we arrived at Pizza Port, Thatboy started in with "N said the best pizza is their bbq bacon cheeseburger pizza, so we have to get that." Far be it for me to argue with N. I learned long ago to let those battles slide. Normally I would veto this menu choice, but it was Thatboy's birthday so we ordered it. It was actually loads better than I thought. Because of the bbq sauce, it reminded me of bbq chicken pizza, which I love. And the cheeseburger part wasn't too different than sausage on a pizza.

Given that we were in Vegas all weekend, and I was hard at work preparing Thanksgiving, I consider myself truly blessed that Thatboy's favorite cake is Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. So we came home and did our own cake celebration. Everyone should have cake on their birthday! Happy Birthday baby!