Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sign of the times

I was planning on posting a picture with this blog, which would have made it alot more interesting. Unfortunately, I got a little ahead of myself and tossed the box in the dumpster before I remembered.

So, on to the story. Last night, my roomie & I decided to grab pizza for dinner (he gets a great discount on Tuesdays, so it's super cheap) We picked up the order, and as we were leaving, I happened to notice the label on the box (the sticker that has your name, etc)... It said "Your Pizza Experience Was Managed By Christ"

Now I'm not trying to be sacrilegious or anything... but it truly is a sign of the times when the son of God has a part time job!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Homemade Croutons

I love croutons... I'm not a fan of salad, but I snack on croutons... but have you ever looked at the ingredient list on some brands? Not to mention, it's actually pretty easy to turn ingredients you already have into yummy crunchy goodness without leaving home.

I'll share with you my method, it's not an exact recipe, because it will vary based on your personal preferences and the quantities you have on hand.

Start with your bread. You can use fresh bread or stale bread, doesn't really make a difference in the end. The only difference is that the fresher the bread, the longer it will stay in the oven, in order to dry it out. Most recently I made some croutons with some leftover Sourdough bread I had. It was a really rustic bread and had lots of flavor, but you can really use any bread you want.

Cube your bread, size is up to personal preferences. I usually cube mine in about 1 inch or so pieces, because I like jumbo croutons. If you make them smaller, they'll finish faster of course. You'll want them to be similiar in size, so they'll all finish at the same time.

Spread the bread out on a baking pan and drizzle with melted butter (for a full pan, I use about a 1/3 a cup of butter) you can use more or less, just eyeball it, the more butter you use, the better the end result. Sprinkle the bread with your favorite seasoning (I use garlic powder) and then toss the bread cubes to make sure they are coated as evenly as possible (you don't have to be perfect)

Bake the bread @ 300 degrees until lightly browned and completely dry. You'll want to stir them every 10 to 15 minutes. I usually bake mine for about an hour and 15 minutes. These are a good project for when you're cleaning the kitchen, etc, since you'll already be in there. After about 30 minutes, I usually take them out and drizzle/stir in some additional melted butter (maybe another 1/4 cup) and some more garlic powder.

When you think they are done, taste one... if it's chewy in the middle at all, go another 10 minutes and try again. At about the 1 hour mark, I take mine out and sprinkle in some grated Parmesean cheese (toss to coat) and let them go another 10 to 15 minutes. Once they're done, to ensure that they are completely dried out and nice and crunchy, I just turn the oven off and leave them in the oven to hang out for awhile.

You can store them in an airtight container, or in the freezer for longterm storage.

Want more great kitchen tips? Head over to Tammy's Kitchen for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a monster eats

Yes, her chew toy is not 6 inches away, but she would rather chew on a stray plastic container she found.

But she eats her greens too! On a plate no less!

Life with pets

We recently bought a bookcase to fill some blank wall space in the living room. Previously there had been a large ottoman on that particular wall, but when we got the new living room set, the room was rearranged, and the ottoman was out. And we were stuck with a blank wall that just looked really bare. We went shopping looking for something to fill that space. We had some ideas, unfortunately, the stores weren't cooperating with our ideas. Everything we looked at was either not in our price range, too big, too small, or the wrong color. We finally ended up modifying our plans and switched to a grouping of items. This is how the bookcase came to be in our living room. For days, it sat empty while we figured out what was going on it. Well, except for the cats... who decided that this was their new multi level cat bed.

Finally, I started filling the shelves. We wanted the shelving to be functional (it needed to be a place our remotes could go, out of reach and maybe house some DVDs) but we didn't want it to be completely packed full of stuff, and end up looking cluttered. Our living room is small, and if the bookcase is overrun, it will just make the whole room feel cluttered. So far... I've got 3 shelves arranged... and then comes the decision... what goes on the last two shelves... because clearly, the cats still think that these two shelves are their bunk beds...

And of course, I somehow got a strange angle when I took this, and cutting off part of the shelf, because it looks crooked, but I'm looking at the shelf now and it's not.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A yummy mashed potato

It seems that everywhere I read, people are pairing down their food budget, trying to economize, not be wasteful, etc. One of the popular ideas, that's been going on, on a few blogs, is skipping the grocery store, and just using what you have on hand. I'm trying this as well. Yesterday I made a baked mashed potato recipe. Well, it's not really a recipe, so much as a method. I've read several recipes, and I just blended a few together, based on what I had on hand.

Here's what I used:
Bag of Oreda Steam & Mash Potatoes
1% Milk
Sour Cream
Onion Powder
Neufchatel Cheese
Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend
2% Colby Cheese
Salt & Pepper (not pictured)
Cooking Spray (not pictured)

Now, you could always use regular potatoes to start this out, but I had these on hand, buried in my freezer, and they cook in the microwave, less hassle for me!

You can also use regular cream cheese, I just happened to have the Neufchatel on hand.

You could also use whatever sort of cheese you had, I think any would work equally.

Now, start by popping the potatoes in the microwave, according to package directions (mine took 10 minutes on high). While they are doing their thing, go ahead and cube up your Neufchatel and shred your cheese:

Once your potatoes are done, wait about 2 minutes, then carefully pop open the bag, and dump them into a bowl with your milk & butter blend (use quantities recommended from package).

You can mash these by hand, or mixer. If I'm making regular mashed potatoes, I usually will just do them by hand, so as not to overwork them, but since I was going to be incorporating other ingredients and wanted it to be smooth, I used my KitchenAid. Once you get the potatoes started, and they're about halfway mashed, go ahead and add in your cream cheese (8 oz block cubed), shredded cheese (about 2 oz), sour cream (I just grabbed a big spoonful), and the onion powder (I just sprinkled some in, I'm guessing, about a half a tsp):

Mix until combined and kinda smooth. Spray a casserole dish (I used 9x13) with cooking spray, then spread the potato mixture in the dish evenly. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and dot with some additional butter.

Bake @ 350 for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through. Serve

I forgot to take the picture until some of it had been served up, but I think you get the idea :)

Fabulous 5

So, here's the challenge. Go to your picture folders (or where ever you store them) and randomly select one subfolder (if you don't have subfolders, improvise) Then, select pic # 4, 7, 12, 16, & 22 (Again, if this folder doesn't have that many... just go with it) This probably works best if you're like me and have a folder that just seems to collect all sorts of random pictures with no real theme, there's always plenty of pics in the folder.

Here are mine:

This was taken a couple years ago on a trip to Vegas. It was the last night we were there, so we were walking around on the strip, trying to see/do as much as possible before going home. This shot is down by the Venetian, of course it was FREEZING out there, so it has hard to get a shot without shaking.

This is the hole in my backyard. They started semi filling it in with rocks when they were doing construction, now it's just there, one of these mornings, I'm going to be taking Zali out and I'll be half asleep, and when she starts down the incline (because heaven forbid she should pee on flat land) I'm going to lose my balance and go tumbling down this.

I'm a little behind on sorting, clipping, filing coupons. 'Nuff said.

I was just messing around with my camera when I took this picture, though one of my FAVORITE shows is on :)

These things are taking over my backyard