Thursday, April 22, 2010

What the...?

     So I just spent 30 min of my precious blog posting time filling out all that "google bio" and personal info related to blogger junk. Hmmm. Not really sure about the point to this exercise. Why would I want to add my personal bio url address as a signature to my emails? Did I miss something in the new techno world of computers and blogs, bios and the like? I thought it was kind of a joke so I gave myself the name easy e. Maybe I should work on professional-ism, class, or some other over used -ism to describe myself and present some smiley story about me. Oh well, pretty sure I failed that subject in school too.

     Quick update on life. It is still crazy! Had a friend come down and visit from Oklahoma (we were in alaska together while her husband was deployed and I even got to attend her first sons birth!) Anyway, because we are 'closer' to each other, she made the 5 hour drive down with kids in tow (and pregnant belly might I add) and Wooohooo was it fun! She has 2 boys and another boy on the way. Let's just say testosterone levels here were
Love it. She could only stay 2 days, but it was beautiful any way you sliced it, and I am quite sure she needs to put a blog together for her much more appropriate ways of throwing parties, and presenting the more "Martha Stewart" side to my rather red neck (at least I think it is, I seem to be getting in touch with my roots out here, I am pretty sure we have some Kentucky bluegrass running through our vains from my mom's side!) take on food, life, raising kids. That is why I had to force her to make me chocolate chip cookies as her allowance to stay here! (p.s., almond extract works great in place of vanilla in those cookies when you are ghetto and don't have all your ingredients on hand!)  Someday I will have some more class for all you little loyal fans out there. At least I hope you are all there!

     Now on to the juice. As in, what is really going on and why I am giving you some brief update and lame excuse for no new recipes for the last week. We are going to buy a house! Yup, the hubs decided that it was a good time to buy. SO now we are scrambling to find something, and get closed in enough time before the baby, and me to take full advantage of the hubs before more training starts. Which means (I am so excited) I get to go look at houses in Utah this weekend! *sigh* I have it all lined up and even my dad is going to be that way for a couple days to give me some back up. I can hardly wait! The long and short of all this is I will be gone and pre-occupied (my additional excuse for everything) for a few days and I am going to leave you with this tasty morsel (the only somewhat original thing we have cooked in a week!) before I go...

     Chicken (or Tofu, or no Meat) Thai Green Coconut Curry

4-5 chicken tenders (or sub firm chunks of tofu) sauteed in a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then chopped (super silken tofu works to be dissolved right into sauce if desired instead)
about 1/3 of a jalepeno finely diced
about 1 heaping tbsp fresh ginger finely sliced (matchstick style, skin removed)
1 small can bamboo shoots (use 1/3 or so, save the rest for a quick asian salad) also finely sliced (matchstick style)
1 13.5 oz can lite coconut cream
1 tsp finely chopped fresh basil (or dried is fine too, fresh really does rock though)
Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, use about 2 tsp-1 tbsp or to your liking
(Ingredients are as follows in case you want to make your own from your cupboard; 
green chile, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (thai ginger), salt, shallots, spices, kaffir, lime)
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
Pot of rice on the side (brown basmati or jasmine are great!)

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil (stir frequently) Pour 2-3 or more large serving spoons over hot rice and enjoy!

*We like to serve this with Thai Kitchen's Pad Thai for Two (follow directions on box) and some ubber good Lumpia (Thai egg rolls, preferably homemade, I will give you the recipe when I come back!)*

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thanks hubs

     Don't you love it how on a particularly emotional day (I won't mention of course who was the cause of most of the turmoil...) your significant other or even someone else special in your life will come through and totally make the day at least end better? Well thanks to the old husband, that is exactly what happened. After that long and stressful day, compounded by a few or more taxing conversations about money, kids etc. he managed to pull it all together with even more sit down time...maybe a little crying time, and YES, a Weinerschnitzel Chilli Cheese Dog.
*sigh* Life was most sweet again. SO, by a quick raise of hands out there, lets see who has a secret chili dog passion? Anyone? No? What about you, over on the left, trying to hide behind that hat...yeah I saw your hand. Any other late night craving secrets? Do tell. I love to swap juicy stories (and when I say juicy, I mean "where's the best place around here for a seriously juicy and amazing burger?!") You may not call that healthy, but I am pretty sure that mental health definitely qualifies as a key component factoring in on your overall daily health quotient. AND, the naturally occuring endorphins from such food eating bliss are sure to create such a rush, thereby aiding in increasing one's metabolism, consequently expelling the unwanted fat promptly and producing an overall cleansing affect on the body that might not have even been experienced without the said chili dog. Yeah...or something like that! The real beauty of this happy hour hot dog was that it really was a happy hour for it...after a few tears, mommy and daddy time, NO interference from the TV, and trying to get settled in bed we were back to our newlywed tricks.
 Don't sit there blushing like you don't know what I am talking about. 
Anyway, food was something that brought us together (you know, the whole "hey, you like food, I like food, we should make out" thing). Seriously, though. Since there wasn't a Del Taco around for those ever delectable chicken soft tacos or bacon double del's, we settled for the dog at 11pm and proceeded our late night talking and laughing ritual, just like the old days, til well past midnight. Maybe you folks are more fun and do that regularly. I am pretty sure we hit our middle age hump long before the buzz is still keeping me afloat today. And just to add sweet sticky icky sugary gooey syrup with whip cream and a cherry on top...I found leftover pine nuts in the cupboard today due to a seriously zealous packer of a husband who lugged them in his weighed down and no air-conditioned car all the way from California. i think I'll keep him. And what a good thing it was too, because I threw together an amazing Chicken and Rice Pilaf Salad that would not have been complete without it. So go on, laugh at the anti-blogger who now posts all my most intimate of intimates out into cyberspace (what comedian was it anyway who said blogging is just a glorified diary and that we used to hide that behind lock and key underneath your mattress!) Kick back and chuckle that I am no longer able think rational thoughts about my day without turning them into some headline for my next post. Get a good giggle out of the fact that I did name my Blender 'Gary'. Whom I might also add has become such a favorite of my 5 year old that he informed me today that 'when I am super old like grandma (sorry mom) and he is a daddy and has kids he will take my blender so he can use it'. I promptly responded with "Just because I am old doesn't mean I won't still use it, or even share it with you!" to which he replied, "Well then when you are asleep I will sneak into your house and steal it away and you'll never know!"
Kids say the darn'dst things don't they?
I tried to fool him with the old, "well I'll get an alarm that goes off when you sneak in my house" technology response and he just threw his head back and laughed, ever so  cynically might I add. How do you even respond to that? Maybe we'll hold a contest at some point and I can just will Gary to the winner. Seems fair. And since I am still so high off of a good night lack of rest and a yummy satisfying lunch, I figured it was time I share my lunch-time easy idea with you, so enjoy the salad and maybe even some late night food raids of your own,     
just for sanity puposes.

     Chicken and Rice Pilaf Salad
  • 4 chicken breast tenders (or 2 chicken breasts) or Tofu (optional) cooked in a saute pan with a little olive oil and italian spice, basil and garlic, or whatever else suits your fancy. Be sure to add salt and pepper.
  • Leftover rice pilaf, homemade pilaf, or any other plain leftover grain such as quinoa, barley, brown rice etc (basically whatever might be in your fridge or could quickly cook up. Try the 'Near East' brand of quick foods as it has no msg, and great ingredients.Warm it through if using a leftover.
  • 1/2 - 1 whole summer squash and zucchini chopped into rounds
  • 1/4 of a white onion diced
  • 2-3 tbsp. pine nuts toasted (or any other delicious nut favorite or even just a nut you happen to have around like walnuts or pecans)
  • Mixed greens (salad) and extra olive oil and lemon juice are all optional, see below
After cooking chicken, set aside and quickly saute the veggies. Toss all the ingredients together til well incoporated and take a quick taste to check seasonings. Add any as needed and serve alone or over a nice bed of mixed greens with an extra shot of olive oil and squirt of lemon juice. Delish! Leftovers great for lunch to go. If vegetarian, simply omit the chicken and add Tofu or nothing at all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

State Park entry fee? $6. Bait for fishing?...

     $3. Fishing licenses? Free for military. Tackle boxes and rods through the local "neighborhood fishin'' program? Also free. First ever fish caught + complete exhaustion, sunburn, and a few cuts and scrapes to boot? Priceless!
     Yep, and it was all right here in Texas! I have lived in 'outdoorsy' places for years and never was it so easy to take the kids fishing as it was this past weekend. We even found a $4 spiderman fishing rod at the local Goodwill, (along with our $5 vacuum, and $2 toaster...gotta love it!) The kids definitely loved it too. I'm so grateful they did, because it was a bit of work trying to figure that whole process out! Or to not get lost in the state park and keep the youngest from getting too involved in helping (i.e. getting wrapped up in all the fishing wire, throwing sticks that get caught instead of fish, or even just throwing mud and getting the rest of us dirty!) And although we only caught a measly little carp (sorry, not gonna eat that!) and under-estimated the sun (yeah my middle one looks like a little ripe cherry tomato!) we had a great and fulfilling outdoor adventure that reminded us why it was so important to follow the hubs out here, simply for these little weekend adventures! The culture being as it is out here too, made it quite easy to take the day and go for a sort of "country lake trip'. My next biggest challenge though is going to be staying away from all these country cookin' restaurants and all-you-can-eat chicken fried steak buffets...I didn't realize how big that old southern gene might actually be! It's all I can do not to act on one or more pregnancy cravings (I will totally blame that the whole time I am here!) and send my hubs out for some chili cheese or gravy smothered home fries, or some fantastically wicked BBQ pork ribs or shoot, anything BBQ for that matter! So just to satisfy my need for comfort food today, I have decided to share another recent Shepherd's Pie Recipe (this one was from the Healthy Kitchen book I recommend early in the month of March I believe). Only, as usual, I have a couple suggestions from my personal taste preferences.  Maybe trying the zucchini slices on top of the whole casserole (under the bread crumbs) to brown and sort of crisp up a little more.  We happened to do the recipe without mushrooms or nutritional yeast, but it is my guess that if you can get ahold of those ingredients, do so to add more flavor and depth. And most importantly, try something new and enjoy it!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - Dr. Weil's Healthy Kitchen

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where to Begin Today?

     I am always so humbled by a return to routine, to life "by myself". I think that is why I find such joy in cooking and in food, it is truly one of the only things I can control (and really though that is only to a certain extent!) It is also the one thing that remains consistent in my life, despite my reliance upon it (you simply have to eat!)
     I am going to delve into my personal life for a moment (like I don't do that already) and take a step back a week...well almost 2 now to my little trip to the east coast with my sister. It was a great week, and honestly who doesn't enjoy some time away from kids/reality/spouses/life etc. One thing I have learned the most through my life of traveling is how much you have to be able to adjust to change...quickly. For example, I could not control my eating situation (or that of my children for that matter) on such a trip at all times. I could not exercise the same, and in some ways I was even more at the beck and call of someone else (not that she was demanding, we just had a lot of scheduling for friends and activities to coordinate). This was an ok time for this, that is exactly how you manage in such a situation; you press forward, have fun, and look back with amazement at all that you accomplished, and all that you may even have been given the opportunity to discover about yourself, your loved ones, or the world around you. I love that I have learned this from my life. Maybe others learned it in a more normal fashion, but my lessons have come from moving about 11 times before I even graduated high school, and a shocking 11+ since.
     Now what is it I am getting at exactly? Not sure. Only that I have been repeatedly reminded in both little and big ways, what is really important and how easy it is, on a daily basis even, to loose sight of that. While I was in DC on our last official day of leisure, we were able to make it over to the Holocaust Museum. What an experience. I lived in Germany, Berlin actually during a very tumultuous time. Back in '89-'90 when the wall was coming down in fact. It's not like I grew up without any idea of what things were like in other countries, or in history for that matter. I did live in several places, other than the U.S. before I was a teenager. My mother was also quite avid in her studies and we were fairly well informed about this type of event in history for example. Maybe it just hit hard after visiting all the memorials around DC, or taking a stroll through the Smithisonian's American History Museum and getting the opportunity to see that original 28x32 ft Flag that inspired our National Anthem. Maybe it was the visits with old friends, people I haven't seen in over 9 yrs (who gets an opportunity to do that very often?) or the long talks finally with my sister about family, life, and the few things she began to share about her deployment and why it has reinforced her conviction and hope even more that somehow we must still be trying to fight for something good. Maybe it was simply being reunited with my own little family, and then how quickly I have taken it for granted, that I feel so reflective over that single 2 1/2 hour visit.
     I think I am now beginning to understand why parents try so desperately to cram some things down our throat while we are selfish teenagers, or why they wish that awful universal parent wish for us..."I hope you have children just like you!" I know now that there is a time and place for understanding things in our own personal time and place in life, something I didn't understand wholly maybe until now. This very day even. How very important a family is! What a great work I AM doing each day, even if the only "world" I save is my own little one that I created right here. What I teach my kids will matter, it will reflect in who they become. I think that is why I have such a passion for healthy food too. Don't get me wrong, if you look in my fridge right now you would see hot dogs, and maybe some chicken nuggets and ice cream in my freezer. And no, my meat is not grass fed right now. I am pretty sure we even have enough leftover Easter candy to produce 2-3 more Easter baskets if needed...but that is what makes this ok. Just like I said above, it is your ability to adapt at any given time that is a blessing. Next week we can try harder to stick a few more veggies in at dinner, or skip the ice cream all together. I know my body and mind will thank me for it. I will feel better, and be that much more able to function at the best of my ability, which sadly at this time I may or may not be doing. But it is ok today. It is ok to spend the afternoon playing out side, blowing bubbles with the kids, enjoying the sunshine on my face, and the freedom I have to enjoy it. Now if only I could find that baking sheet, then I really could be in business with that possessed old oven in there...

It seems that whenever I feel dysfunctional in my kitchen, I always want to cook fish. Sorry for all you non-fish lovers out there! But this is an easy recipe I can manage with my two simple pans, and the kids always seem to love it! Plus, all that east coast eating inspired me to pull this one out of the attic and dust it off sorta may not be a G&M Crab Cake, but it will do nicely!

     Salmon Patties

14.75 oz can Salmon (like Bumblebee Pink, Red is higher quality but pink is cheaper and works fine) drained
1 egg
1/4/-1/2 c. crushed saltine crackers (or whatever you have around, bread crumbs work too!)
salt, pepper, and italian seasoning to taste
1 tsp each olive oil and butter for the pan

Heat oil and butter (oil with the butter allows the butter not to burn and still carry over the butter flavor which is super yum) in the bottom of a large skillet. Mix the rest of the above ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. I personally liked about 1/2 tsp of each of the spices. Grab a handful of the mixture (yes with your bare hands, make sure they are clean!) and smoosh into a palm sized fairly flat patty. Place in the hot oil butter, and repeat until the pan is full. Cook for about 2-3 min on each side, or til brown. Place on a paper towel covered plate and repeat until mixture is used up. No need to add more oil, you can also do this with a no fat cooking spray to save on calories! Serve with sweet potatoes on the side (like sweet mashed or baked, even quick french fried ones work great too), a fresh salad and even steamed veggies. Easy, quick, yummy, and kid friendly! 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I Am Back to Reality

     Well not quite see, tomorrow (Monday, April 5th) will be my first day by myself with the kiddos (in a new place again no less) in well over a month and 1/2. I am SO excited. Especially because I just pulled a 13 hour and 16.7 minutes (ya each one counts!) drive also BY MYSELF from Denver to Texas on thursday. (P.S. Eat THAT if you can!) When we got here, my hubs had just moved into our new (meaning it was a new place for us to live) fabulous 2 bedroom 1960's cozy but dank apartment, complete with 2 pans for cooking, and water that still tastes questionable even after it has been filtered.
     Yup, life is going to be interesting, and I am looking forward to the adventure of it all. Why? Because I am sick. Because we just had to be together as a family, and because I like a challenge. Some people take on normal things, you know...volunteering at their kids school, joining the PTA, coaching little Johnny's T-ball team, an extra late shift, whatever. Not me. I am only satisfied with constant change, up-rooting my family, cooking on a hot plate and writing an entire food blog while doing it (ok so I may not have one yet but have been considering getting one just to complete the overall atmosphere, and again, the challenge of it all!) and even taking on potty training and minor personalized preschool for my other kiddos.
     All of this in 2-3 months, because once June hits, who knows for sure where we will be! It doesn't matter though, it will be another adventure, another opportunity to grow, another notch on by belt of moves and crazy moments that my kids and I will hopefully get to look back at and laugh...fondly at of course! Yes, my dreams for the simple life were realized much sooner than I had anticipated, and I hope I can capture these moments effectively and pass them on to you, if only for a laugh. At least we were able to find a couch and cheapo dining table yesterday, so I know I am really ready now!
     Stay tuned for more adventures!

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