Sunday, January 17, 2010

Danny is 2!

Happy Birthday to Danny!

Happy Birthday to Danny!

Happy Birthday to Da-a-anny...

Happy Birthday to Him!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mountainview Cemetery

I went to a cemetery today. I was uninspired...
We are quasi planning a trip to the south in August, and mom says the cemeteries down there are out of this world!

She didn't actually say they were "out of this world."

And on the subject of creepy: Whilst on vacation, I read the short story, "The Lottery." Then I requested the movie via Netflix, and I watched it tonight. It's very made-for-TV-ish, but super creepy! I encourage you to go to a cemetery and watch The Lottery all in one day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I made my first Chicken Cordon Bleu last night. I've always thought this recipe was way too hard, but I had nothing better to do last night, and we weren't having dinner til after 8:00pm anyway (my parents were coming over for dinner, and they had a high-intensity work-out from 7:00 - 8:00pm believe it or not!), so I figured, "What the hey?"

I got the recipe from - Chicken Cordon Bleu II.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices ham
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
3. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.

(You'll notice from the following pictures that I did not perfectly follow this recipe; for instance, I couldn't get six chicken breasts to fit in my oven dish, so I just used four.)

First thing's first:I've decided I'm really not fond of pounding poultry. Last night, it was so loud, I was nervous our next door neighbor was going to knock on our door. Ideally, you'd have a box of those really large, sealable bags instead of one flimsy piece of plastic wrap, but I don't live in an ideal world. And I must say... this piece of plastic wrap held up nicely.

Isn't it pretty? The reviews of this recipe suggested using no-water-added ham, but I couldn't find any unless I looked in the deluxe meats section (that's what I call it), and the deluxe meats section is out of my price range.

For some reason, I have "party picks" instead of "toothpicks," so that's why mine are so festive looking. Please, do not be ashamed of regular, non-dyed toothpicks. They will work just as well.

Okay, I forgot to take a picture of the raw chicken covered in the flour and paprika mixture, but that step did transpire, I promise. I also added some garlic powder b/c one reviewer told me to, and I follow orders. Look at how delicious this nicely browned piece of chicken looks! I thought the toothpicks - I mean, party picks - would really hamper the browning, but they didn't. I was able to flip that baby, no problem! (and my nonstick pans have already really disappointed me with the non-long-last-ability of their non-stickiness, that I really didn't care if the party picks wreaked more havoc upon them)

I then followed one main review many of the reviewers suggested. Instead of leaving the poultry in the skillet to fully cook, I popped them in a 350-degree'd oven. I had the butter/oil mixture (that's another review I followed... 3T butter and 3T oil instead of just 6T butter) left to work with for the sauce. In this pic, I had already added 1 cup of white wine... I used Pinot Grigio. Cheap Pinot Grigio. (Also... I doubled the ingredients for the sauce b/c again... reviewers told me to do it.)

I added the heavy cream/cornstarch mixture...

And I took the chicken out of the over after 20 minutes. The chicken was not fully cooked at that point, so I decided to pour all the sauce over it and pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Mmmmmmmm..... it was fabu (remember, pronounced: fab-yew!)! It was seriously delicious. I must say... I've come to an epiphany in the past few months. I - and most people, I'll assume - overcook chicken. I have overcooked chicken so many times when following recipes to the dime. For a long time, I thought I just didn't like chicken, but from time to time I would taste really excellent chicken! So lately, I take chicken out when I'm still a tad uncomfortable with it... when I still think there's a chance I could catch ill with salmonella from eating it.

And I haven't regretted it yet! Just as long as there's no visible pink, I go for it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've finally started!

It took me three days to finish cutting all my fabric. I completed my first block! Isn't it darling?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Today is the first day in my blog-everyday-in-January venture that I am completely blank. It probably doesn't help that I don't post my blogs til around 11:00pm.

Today I visited my friend in Dayton, NV; therefore, I did not sew, and I did not cook. Well, actually I did make some Chicken Cacciatore tonight, but I didn't take pictures, and I'm feeling too lazy to copy down the recipe.

To distract from my crappy blogging, here's one of my favorite youtube videos: the dramatic squirrel (chipmunk? guinea pig?).

It makes me laugh!

Here he is again, but this time with a lightsaber!

Hee hee hee!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I love Photoshop!

Click on it. Do it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My new "big" project

Here's the new quilt on which I have finally started. As I got all my fabrics out (and went to the fabric store to finish buying all the fabrics I needed), I realized I have been working toward this project for over a year now. Dave actually bought me a bunch of these fabrics LAST Christmas.

Quilting is just such a lifelong passion, ya know? *happy sigh*

So here's the quilt I'm making - from my favorite quilting book, "Big Book of Scrap Quilts." (Quilters are so clever... with names and such)

EXCEPT!!! I'm using blue, not red. I've always wanted to make a blue quilt... probably b/c I don't really decorate with blue or anything... yet I'm strangely drawn to the blue fabric section at most fabric stores.

I now have to change these fabrics into the above quilt:

Woo Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm tired.

Tomorrow I'll have a wonderful sewing blog. Promise.

But now I'm tired.

We just finished watching Scent of a Woman. I love that movie. Dave has never seen it, so I got it for us on Netflix. He loves it too now.

How about a joke?

Q. What did Mrs. Bullet say to Mr. Bullet?

A. "We're going to have a BB!"

P.S. This is in no way my clever way of informing the world of any important news Dave and I might have, so don't let your imaginations run wild.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Give Me S'more Cake

Tonight I tried a recipe from my Taste of Home magazine - Give Me S'more Cake. They had this big feature last month on the winning cakes from a contest they held. It was pretty cool b/c they provided these nice cut-outs for eight different cakes! I was excited to try this one b/c I love s'mores with all my heart. Side note: As a child, I was always resentful that my family never went camping. As an adult I realized I hate camping (almost as much as I hate hikes), but S'mores almost, ALMOST make camping worth it!

That's why I was so disappointed with this cake. I am a huge cake lover. Some may call me a Cake Eater. This cake turned out beautifully... but tasted so...

Completely un-camping-fantasy-like. Boring! It was so so-so, I actually stopped eating my slice! I thought to myself, "Why even keep eating it? Empty calories, Leslie! Empty calories!"

Dave, on the other hand, loved it. He had two slices. This news is big news because one would not call Dave a Cake Eater. He admitted it did not taste like S'mores, but he liked it nonetheless.

Anyway... since Dave liked it, maybe other people will like it. Here's the recipe:

Give Me S'more cake
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
2-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tsp baking powder
1 can (12-0z) evaporated milk

Marshmallow frosting:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Line two 9-in round baking pans with waxed paper and grease the paper; set aside. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. combine cracker crumbs and baking powder; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes (I found it took a good 28 minutes to fully bake) or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over low heat. With a hand mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating on low over low heat until frosting reaches 160 degrees, about 8-10 minutes (uh... I just stopped after about 4 minutes). Pour into a large bowl; add vanilla. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

Place a cake layer on a serving plate; spread with 2/3 cup frosting and sprinkle with half of chips. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining chips.

Dave actually voted for this dessert when I gave him a choice of three desserts I could bake today. I wanted him to pick Chocolate Ginger Cookies. I think I'd be happier tonight if I'd made Chocolate Ginger Cookies. I'd feel fatter tonight if I'd made Chocolate Ginger Cookies.

We also watched Julie and Julia. It was a great movie! I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. I love, love, LOVE Meryl Streep. Dave won't let me name our future daughter Meryl. I really want to though.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

the BEST hot chocolate!

NaBloPoMo's theme for the everyday blogger in January is "Best." You don't have to write on the theme, but it's supposed to help on farty brain nights.

As it is 8:27PM, and I am ALREADY tuckered out... I thought I would take a picture of the BEST hot chocolate I'm about to consume.

You see, you start out with a large mug - preferably one that says "Hawaii" on it. One that says "San Diego" is also acceptable. You empty one of those cheap-o hot chocolate packets into the mug - Sunny Select if I had my druthers. Pour boiling water over the top of it, but people... only fill the cup about 2/3 full... else wise your hot chocolate is way too watery! You then pile HEAPS of mini-marshmallows on top.

Voila! Consume while your husband is playing DJ Hero and dominating the only television in the house.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If you had to roll around naked in food... this dish would be what you choose.

Holiday Chex Mix is what I call it. I felt it needed a better name than "Cereal Treat," as my grandmother had christened it. I know the holidays are technically over, but we missed Christmas morning (you know, what with being in Hawaii and what not), so we're headed over to Dave's parents tonight to exchange gifts. We are dirt poor right now (you know, what with being in Hawaii and what not), so I thought I would distract attention from our chintzy gifts by making my favorite holiday candy-ish type of stuff.

The following ingredients combine together in a celestial way:

8 cups of Corn Chex
Gluten free!

The most delicious of cereals.
9 cups please.

2 cups of Flaked Coconut - sweetened. Did you know that coconut isn't actually that sweet? All my life I've been thinking the coconut that comes out of bags like these is what coconut tastes like! But my friend Gloria taught me that it's not! This stuff is sweetened! Some real light bulbs went off when I learned that little secret.

The recipe actually calls for slivered almonds, but I think sliced almonds are prettier. You're technically supposed to put one cup of almonds in, and this bag is just barely over half a cup. But nuts are expensive. And as mentioned in paragraph uno... we're poor as ish right now.

Dump it all together in a big fat bowl.

Then mix it up - don't be lazy.

This cellulite-ridden concoction includes the following three ingredients: 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup Karo Syrup, and 1 cup sugar. Stir it together and make it boil for two minutes.

Then dump it over the top of the cereal mixture. I dump a little at a time, stir, little at a time, stir, little at a time, stir.

Then spread it out on two cookie sheets to "cool." Or become crispified... whatever you'd like to call it.

And then eat. And thank the Lord. For he is indeed risen. This treat is proof of that.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?

Someday when we're rich... I'm going to buy all the most awesome camera lenses out there. First and foremost - a macro lens. A macro lens will enable me to take super-duper up close pictures... you'd be able to see the pollen stuck to the legs of this bee with a macro lens!

However... a Janome serger costs about the same. I plan on becoming an expert clothes maker this year, and a serger would really help me with those seams.

Which hobby will win?

I finally organized my sewing room today (the sewing room quadruples as the office, the second bedroom, and the work-out room), and I plan on sewing tomorrow... so that might answer my question. I'm breathing a happy sigh just thinking about the joys I will encounter tomorrow while sitting at my sewing table!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas in Hawaii

I'm staring January 1st off with a blog... I'm SO getting back into it! I'm going to try the whole post-every-day-for-a-month thing again. Last time I flunked after the second day.

We spent Christmas in Hawaii this year, specifically in Kailua, Oahu. Obama was less than a mile away! (But we didn't see him... there were patrol boats in the canal, and the neighborhood was blocked off with cement dividers!) It was different spending Christmas away from home... not bad... but different. I must say, I like my traditional Christmases with cold weather. So sue me.

It was hard to leave our little poopsies... the first time we ever have! Luckily we had a good friend who also has chihuahuas and works for the SPCA... so I felt pretty comfortable... sort-of. I was absolutely certain that my shmoopers were miserable without mama's warm bosom to keep them comfortable.

Anywho, here are some of my favorite pics from our trip:

The Dole Plantation, and Lucy's excellent photography skills...

Mother again... hit with a wave of artistic emotions.

We made it to the top!

The Valley of the Temples... and me and Dave.

And that's all I feel like posting for the time being. Happy New Year everyone! I read you're supposed to say "Twenty Ten" instead of "Two Thousand and Ten." But the article kind-of annoyed me. I've never liked anyone but my parents telling me what to do, so I think I might say "Two Thousand and Ten" just cuz...