Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oh yes I did...

Thank you Mama Pea.  These biscuits are the best wheat biscuit I've EVER had.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Non-cinnamon rolls

Okay, I have a cinnamon obsession.  My husband does not like cinnamon; it might actually be an allergy of sorts.  Either way, I intentionally try to work around his non-cinnamon eating ways.  So, as you can imagine, cinnamon rolls are totally out of the question. 

Enter non-cinnamon rolls?

Yeah, I went there.  I took inspiration from Mama Pea and Heather at Side of Sneakers, even though both of their recipes very obviously contain cinnamon. 

I used the dough recipe from SoS, substituting the 1/2 t of cinnamon for 1/4 t ground ginger and 1/4 t all spice.  I aslo used real, organic 2% milk instead of almond milk and added 1/4 c sucanat.  I tried to use the dough setting on my food processor since I don't have a mixer.  That was an utter failure!  The mixture ended up coming out the bottom of my processor bowl!  Insanely messy.  So, that meant lots of hand kneading.  Even the husband kneaded! 

Once I finally had a nice, non-sticky dough rolled out beautifully into a sheet; it was time for filling.  Obviously, I can't do the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon combo that usually goes in cinnamon rolls.  Instead, I slathered a layer of McCutcheon's pumkpin butter that I found at Central Market.  They were doing a tasting.  It was too amazing to pass up. Next, I sprinkled brown sugar all over the pumpkin butter then just a very light sprinkling of all spice and ground ginger all over.  Roll into a log and cut.  That was definitely the easy part! 

These babies went into the fridge to be enjoyed Saturday morning with D&D.  I did, however, bake the ends last night since they didn't fit in the pan (yeah, that's why.....).  They were doughy, soft, and just perfectly sweet!  Even I didn't miss the cinnamon!   Despite the mess and mixer issues, these are totally worth it. 

I hope the boys like them! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Food in Review

No discernible theme came together for the week.  So, I just rolled with what was in the fridge added to a little of what I was craving with a dash of lazy. 

Friday: We were surprised to find out that two of our friends (they do seasonal work at resorts in fun, exotic places) were in town earlier than scheduled.  So, we had an impromptu dinner at Abbey Inn on the Square in Denton.  It was such a nice surprise and a great way to spend a Friday evening.

Saturday: I had the remainder of a half gallon of organic milk in the fridge that was threatening to go bad.  Rather than allowing bad things to happen to good milk, I turned the milk into paneer using the same method as last time.  I assume it’s because I used 2% instead of whole milk, but the paneer was far crumblier than the first go-round.  I sautéed a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower plus onion the bulk of the curry, then added the paneer and a bag of Tasty Bites Good Korma sauce.  As usual, I added extra spices to the pre-made sauce.  Now, I’ve used this sauce before and loved it.  This time, though, the flavor was just a tad off.  Still delicious, but not earth-shattering like I was aiming for.  The homemade naan on the other hand, was delicious and oh-so simple.  I served the curry over brown Texmati rice with the naan for dipping.  The naan was my favorite part!  

Sunday: I wanted to make a dish that I could use over a couple of times during the week, but not anything I’ve made recently.  Enter: meatloaf.  I made my meatloaf with lean ground sirloin and added a Tex-Mex flare with dice onion, pablano pepper, cumin, garlic, and hot smoked paprika.  For the binder, I added an egg and ground up rolled oats.  Bread crumbs seemed boring for some odd reason.   I topped the loaf with adobo sauce and baked at 350 until my thermometer read 160.  A pan of chunked-up sweet potato seasoned with olive oil, salt, and smoked paprika roasted along with the meatloaf.  Both dishes were amazing.  The meatloaf was spicy and super-moist.  The sweet potatoes were crisp on the outside and extremely creamy on the inside.  Totally hit the comfort food spot!

Monday: Meatloaf reinvention was in order.  I grilled slices of meatloaf in a skillet them melted Vermont extra sharp white cheddar over them.  The perfectly cheesed meatloaf slices went atop a split dark wheat roll with sour cream and salsa.  One the side, I made a little salad of left over brown rice topped with seasoned black beans, tomato, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.  The bun ended up being a little too much bread for me, so I ate mine open-faced.  The hubby did not.  He ate every bite.

Tuesday: I googled “recipes for leftover meatloaf” for ideas for dinner.  One of the suggestions was hash, so I ran with it.  Our hash contained a one-pound russet potato, half a yellow onion, and a quarter head of red cabbage, all sliced very thin using the slicing blade on my food processor.  I sautéed the onion until translucent then added the potato.  I let the potato brown in a couple spot then added a lid so that the potato would steam until cooked through, stirring quite often.  Once the potatoes were soft, I added the cabbage and let it soften a bit too.  Lastly, the remaining three slices of meatloaf got thrown on top of the veggie mixture and chopped up with my spatula.  I allowed it to warm through and added a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  One the side, we had some whole wheat buttermilk biscuits that I made from scratch….but rolled out far too thin to look like biscuits!  Now, looks are totally deceiving on this meal.  It looks like a pile of slop.  The taste, however, was amazing.  I was honestly shocked that it tasted this good.  This will be my new go-to leftover recipe for meatloaf.  We both devoured it in near-utter silence.


Wednesday: The freezer was my friend.  I didn’t have the time or energy to actually cook.  I’ve had a side Halloween project (for work) going on all week.  I like things you make, not buy, but it’s time consuming.  Anyhow, I pulled ancho pork tamales out of the freezer that I got last month from the farmers market.  I added an arugula salad with Caesar vinaigrette, tomatoes, and avocado.  Perfect, simple, and I could do stuff while the water was boiling!  Can’t beat a meal that minds itself!  Plus, the Tamale Company’s tamales really are divine!

Thursday: Still working on my blasted project!   The dinner I planned was scrapped in lieu of fast and easy.  We had Campbell’s Italian wedding soup (totally a comfort food of mine) and grilled cheeses.  Yeah, the only part of this that’s “healthy” is the whole grain bread and reduced sodium in the soup.  Still, the portion wasn’t out of control or anything, so I call it a win, especially since the alternative was take out. 

Happy Friday to you all!  Have a happy, safe Halloween.  


Riley just wants the Treats.  No Tricks, thank you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Element

I spent all morning chatting over email with my husband about my Ruby.  In case you don’t know, Ruby is my lovely 2007 Honda Element.  I LOVE MY CAR.  Seriously.  No one should love a car like I love this car.  I love the suicide doors.  I love the non-carpeted floors.  I love the clamshell back that is PERFECT for sitting on and relaxing.  I love the fold-any-way-you-want-‘em back seats.  I love that you can totally fit an air mattress in the “bed” and use the car as a tent (and oh yes, I HAVE done this).  I love that it’s totally, 100% Riley friendly.  I completely love my car.  

Here’s the thing though.  I’ve wrecked it once already.  Yeah, I ran into a tree while living in the woods and did a good deal of damage.  Thank you State Farm for fixing it right up for me after that unfortunate incident.  The window is cracked from a random piece of shrapnel taken during one of my epic commute legs, but that’s totally fixable too.  What isn’t fixable is that I got THE BASE model.  So much so that I don’t even have a radio antenna.  I have no bells.  Nary a whistle either.  My husband is appalled by the absence of arm rests or even a center console in which to sit your forearm.   I admit that took a lot of getting used to!  Now that we are using my car more and more, since the dog comes along for the ride more and more, the lack of any sort of amenities is becoming overly apparent.  This might have something to do with buying my husband a fully-loaded, leather wrapped, alloy-wheeled, Bluetooth capable, XM blaring, iPod compatible beauty…or it might be that someone (ehm) started pointing out all my cars failings since he drives it more now after driving his new rad ride. 

I’m a gal that likes (or perhaps is obsessed with) not having a lot of debt.  In a fantasy world, I’d want ZERO debt at all times.  But I do try to stay grounded in the real world, and that means that having no debt is less than likely.  In that case, my goal is always minimal debt.  My husband’s old Ranger was paid off when we met.  I’d been making double payments on my year old Element, but I wasn’t all that close to paying it off.  Once my husband and I joined our bills, he allowed me to use a lot of his excess income to pay off my car.  I paid that Element off in three years.  I was proud of us.  We’d agreed to get my husband a car once mine was paid off so that we maintained only one car payment at a time.  And so we did.  Let me tell you, I LOVE driving a paid off car!

So why spend all morning talking about the new 2011 Element, you might be asking.  Well, because the agreement now that the husband has his promised new car is that I can upgrade to an Element with at least a few bells and whistles once his is paid off.  Since most of you know we bought his car this year, why would we bother looking so soon?  To clarify, no his car is not paid off yet.  I’m good with money but I am no miracle worker (though, our next payment isn’t officially due till August 2011, thankyouverymuch).   I actually broke down and looked at the 2011s because Honda may be throwing a wrench in my plans.  They didn’t release anything about the 2011s till just a week or so ago.  When I had my oil change at the beginning of October, the sales manager told me he was just now allowed to order any.  Then I read on some auto-based websites that the Element line is in serious danger of being discontinued.  That means there is a chance that if I wait till the Sonata is paid off, there may be not more Elements in production.  I’m not sure I’m okay with that!  I know I do not want two car payments (at all!) but I also don’t want to give up on the idea that I can have a better version of a car I so very much adore.  What’s a girl to do?!

Expect me to be toying with this issue and watching Honda like a hawk.  I will not be denied my new Element!  

By the you all like the Citrus Fire metallic......
 Or the Polish Metal metallic....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random facts

I’m not working out nearly as much as I should.  (Read: if it doesn’t involve my dog or dance class, then it’s not getting done!)


Granola is my crack.

I have three different coffee makers on my kitchen counters.

I love beer and find a perfectly poured glass beautiful.

Halloween went from one of my favorite holidays to one I want to hide from….and nearly chose not to acknowledge.  (Four wretched Halloweens in a row will do that to a girl.)

I wish I’d been brave enough to live outside the DFW area at some point in my adult life.

I don’t think I was EVER actually a child, photographic proof aside.  

I find my husband incredibly sexy……and it baffles him. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall for a day

Saturday finally felt like fall here in the Dallas area.  It was warm and muggy with rain when I left for the baby shower.  A down pour and a few tornadoes later, it was downright chilly!  Gotta love Texas weather.

Once home safely, the hubby and I reveled in the coolness of the day!  We LOVE cooler temps.  (Ehm, we honeymooned in Baltimore in February after the worst snowstorm on record!)  Saturday was no exception.  We might be the only two people that get giddy over HAVING to put on long lounge pants instead of shorts.  Hubby even took it over the top with a sweatshirt.  

He admitted that it might be a bit overzealous but he was ceasing the cold weather before it left again.  Which it has.  Monday was scheduled to break our record high.  I believe it missed by three degrees or something minuscule like that.  

I’m really ready for the weather to turn nice and cool and stay that way for a while.  After all, I like my fall/winter wardrobe way more than I like my summer (no spring….this is TX, we don’t get a spring….or really a fall for that matter).  Yeah, I’m ready to rock this outfit again for sure (well, mostly just the boots which you can't see)!  

Oh, and I love the snuggles that come with cooler temps too.  The snuggles definitely trump the clothes.  Bring it on!

Are any of you looking forward to the changing of the seasons (all two of them!)?  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Granola - Attempt #3

So, the orange ginger granola has now been affectionately deemed "crack" in this household.  It was seriously some of the best granola I've ever eaten.  I found myself eating ALL of what I'd packed in my lunch instead of my usual half that I was eating with the pumpkin spice granola. 

I decided to come up with my own recipe this time instead of tweaking someone else's.  This is solely because I could not find what I was looking for.  My craving was for molasses and peanut butter.  Sounds like a great combo, right?  So, that's just what I did! 

Peanut Butter Molasses Granola
1/3 c peanut butter
1/3 c canola oil
1/3 c molasses
1/2 t vanilla extract
3 c rolled oats
1/2 c wheat germ
1/3 c pumpkin seeds
1/3 c chopped walnuts
1/4 c sunflower seeds

Mix the first four ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat.  Stir often until the peanut butter is completely integrated into the molasses and oil mixture.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour wet into dry and mix well.  Bake on a jelly pan at 325, stirring every 10 minutes until the mixture dries to your liking.  Mine took 30 minutes.

The color on this granola is far darker due to the molasses.  The taste is rich and more robust than the other granolas.  My husband grabbed a handful out of the pan and proclaimed it delicious!  Can't argue with those results. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Okay, this baby shower is too cute NOT to share.   

Yeah, these ladies thought of everything.  The cake table had those lovely gift and "belly" cakes along with cake lollipops!  The candy table had a mix of homemade and store bought in the appropriate colors.  The homemade fudge (make by the mom-to-be's momma!) was simply to die for.  I came home with two little favor boxes full.  There was also a full spread of veggies and sandwich fixings in the back of the room (those photos didn't turn out as well).  My coworker looked excited, and they even made a homecoming-style mum for her with the baby's name.  The room was PACKED.  I've never seen so many people at a shower.  And I've never seen a gift table so overflowing.  It was truly a joyous celebration.  This baby will be well-loved. 

Congrats again!  I'm so happy for you both! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Buckwheat pancakes


A few weekends ago, my aunt took us to the Original Pancake House.  I had my first buckwheat pancakes there.  They were delicate.  They were a deep, dark brown.  They tasted nutty and delicious.  They were also supposed to be the side dish to my omelet, which I neglected for the pancakes! 

So, I bought a box of buckwheat mix the next shopping trip.  This morning, I decided to bust that mix out for breakfast.  I followed the box directions, subbing yogurt for the oil.  The batter was far too thick without the oil so I ended up splashing milk in until the consistency seemed right.  And, as I always do with mixes, I threw some flavorings in.  Today, it was vanilla extract, ground ginger, and ground allspice. 

The pancakes were not nearly as dark in color as the Original Pancake House cakes.  They were still quite nutty, though, and far more filling.  Two cakes had me stuffed, whereas I ate all three plus about a third of an omelet there.  They also weren't quite as soft, but the texture was still nice. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this mix.  I have been rather disappointed as some of the other whole grain mixes (I'm looking at you whole wheat pancake mix!  Surprisingly from the same company as the buckwheat.  Get the buckwheat.). 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Food in Review

It’s so frustrating to me when my taste buds have moved onto another season, yet the Texas weather has other plans.  I’ve really been craving fall foods, but it’s still in the 80’s!  So…..fake it till you make it, right?

Friday: Well, we’re craving chili like nobody’s business, but I refuse to make it until there are no 80-degree days in the forecast!  So, we sufficed ourselves with chili nachos at BJs for dinner Friday.  And happy 2 years, 8 months, thankyouverymuch!

Saturday: I’d planned to make tuna melts, but after the phenomenal bagel sandwich success at lunch, the so-so tuna melts no longer sounded appealing.  We opted for delivery.  Thai delivery that is.  Two curries please!  Red tofu and veggies for me.  Penang beef for him.  Plus jasmine rice.  It was so intensely flavorful.  If you’re in the Denton area, try Andaman Thai.  Extremely good curry, delivered right to your door!

Sunday: Enough with the eating out already.  Though, we have a dinner date with my sweet, sweet Grampa this week.  So….perhaps enough till Thursday.  Sunday night’s dinner was inspired by Diana of The Chic Life’s Golden Autumn Salad.  I love warm elements on spinach salads.  The husband asked for a big dinner salad.  I saw that she did roasted veggies on her salad, voila!  I roasted a baby eggplant, a delicata squash, and brussel sprouts coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper for almost an hour at 325.  I turned them a lot (my oven has hot spots).  Meanwhile, I boiled three eggs and crisped four slices of real bacon from Central Market’s meat counter.  WOW.  I forgot how good real bacon is.  I usually eat the turkey variety.  The spinach was dressed with my favorite go-to vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic, Dijon, salt, and pepper) then I layered on the egg, roasted veg and bacon, cobb salad style!  I served it up with a piece of garlic toast which was simply a left over bun with a smear of butter, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parm broiled till melty.  This one inspired ohs and ahs.  I’ve never had delicata squash, and I loved it.  The creaminess was unlike any squash I’ve ever had.  Delish!  


Monday: I’m not a huge fan of Italian sausage.  It has fennel seeds in it.  I hate fennel, even the tiniest hint of it turns me off.  But my husband is a huge fan of Italian sausage.  So, occasionally, I try to use it as an accent to a dish just to make him happy.  I find that if it’s crumbed and browned outside of the casing, the fennel flavor is nearly unnoticeable.  So, I picked up a little less than a half pound for Monday’s dish from Central Market.  I paired the crumbled sausage with a tiny bit of bell pepper, onion, garlic, and a can of crushed fire roasted Muir Glen tomatoes.  I added fresh thyme at the end.  Meanwhile. I boiled some arugula and cheese raviolis.  Mix together, add parm and garlic bread, and devour.  There were a lot of “yum” noises going on from this meal.  Totally delicious and comforting.


Tuesday: I picked up a kabocah squash over a week ago and hadn’t used it.  Thank goodness winter squashes are hearty!  I decided, with the hubby’s input, to make it into risotto.  I roasted the squash on Sunday while roasting the fall veggies for our salad.  I think in total the four sections roasted for an hour at 325.  I started my risotto off with the remaining bacon, also from Sunday’s meal, cut into bits and cooked until crispy.  To the rendered fat (I know!  I used the bacon fat.  WHO AM I?!), I added two huge cloves of garlic and two small shallots, all finely diced.  Once the veggies were soft, I added about a cup of brown short grain rice.  As a tip, the brown variety takes about double the time of the regular white – aka arborrio – rice.  This is NOT a quick meal.  The rice cooked with the shallot and garlic for about two minutes before I added a cup of white wine.  Stir, stir, stir!  When the wine was cooked out, I started adding veggie stock (heated in a separate pot) in half cup portions.  I used an entire carton of veggie stock for this dish.  You simply add half a cup and stir often until all the moisture is absorbed and the rice is tender.  It took an hour for this process.  During that time, I took out the mini processor and blended half the roasted squash with a little of the stock in order to get a stir-able texture.  I added the squash to the rice with the last of the stock along with about 10 julienned sage leaves and a handful of parm.  Each serving was topped with a little parm and bacon for texture and, well, lovely bacony goodness.  There ended up being little chunks of squash that didn’t get blended smooth.  That was so fortunate, as you’d get an extra squash-y bite!  The texture and flavor of this squash is quite a bit more delicate, creamy, and sweet than acorn squash.  I totally loved it.  


Wednesday: Apparently there was an inadvertent Italian theme this week.  This meal contains pasta.  The night before was risotto, and the night before ravioli.  That was completely unintentional!  Thankfully, all of the dishes are different enough that it didn’t seem to matter to either of us!  Wednesday’s dish was my version of tuna mac.  I used medium-sized whole wheat shells for the pasta.  The sauce consisted of a shallot sautéed in olive oil.  I turned the olive oil into a roux with flour and added milk a little at a time until I got a thickness I was happy with.  I find that when making gravy of any kind – be it for cheese sauce, béchamel, or old fashioned gravy – adding the milk a little at a time and allowing it to completely incorporate and thicken before adding more milk is key!  I’ve never ruined gravy with this method through lumps or the inability to thicken.   I have ruined it by dumping all the liquid in at once, on the other hand.  So, slower is better.  It’s basically the same method as with the risotto.  Once I had a nice gravy, I added three quarters of a block of extra sharp Vermont white cheddar and stirred until it was completely melted.  The last step was to season as needed and add a little buttermilk for tang!  A big dollop of sour cream would work just as well as buttermilk.  I threw some Italian blend frozen veggie in with the pasta for the last minute of boil time.  I prefer peas, but for some completely unknown reason, I had no peas in my freezer!  Totally unacceptable!  Once drained, the pasta and veggies were tossed with the cheese sauce along with a package of Hickory Smoked Starkist chunk light tuna.  This hit all the old-school comfort food notes that I was craving, except without powdered cheese anywhere in the mix.

Thursday: A little late, but no less appreciated, my grampa took me out to our usual spot for my birthday dinner.  I was divorced six days prior to my 27th birthday the first time around.  I was happy to close that chapter of my life, but I was a little bummed out when my birthday rolled around.  My grampa noticed this, and offered to be my date for dinner.  We went to Texas Roadhouse because I wanted a steak.  He LOVED the place.  Anywhere that gives you buckets and buckets of unshelled peanuts is on his A-ok list.  The next year, I had a test on my birthday.  Again, he offered to take me out to dinner whenever my test ended.  This was going to be way later than he usually eats, because class didn’t start till 6:30pm.  He didn’t care.  He was going to take me to dinner than night no matter what.  Totally brightened my day, and it officially turned into a birthday tradition.  It’s a little less urgent now that he knows I have my wonderful husband to celebrate me, but he still takes me out at some point in October to celebrate our birthday dinner tradition.  He even reminds me, and that’s a big feat for an 83 year old man!  I love my grampa so much, and I love that we have this tradition.  

Hope you're Friday is as laid back as she is! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The 21st again

First things first: Here’s to our first 8 months of marriage!  

This year is flying by.  We’ll be celebrating our anniversary before you know it.  Too bad last year didn’t go as quickly as this year seems to be.

My workdays crawl by but my free time goes by in a whirlwind.  I love our weekends far too much.  I just suffer through the week to get to Friday night….where there is usually beer, a puppy, and my baby waiting for me.

What’s that you say?  Don’t I also have two cats waiting for me when the weekends (or even the week night) call?  Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?  I do still possess to fuzzy little cat babies.  Sadly, though, they chose to be completely excluded from us at this point because of the dog.  Oliver hides in his room.  Stinker hides on the counter-height chairs that are pushed under our kitchen table.  I have to seek them out if I want to pet them or even say hello.  

Perhaps someday they’ll reappear and rejoin the family.  I do miss seeing them.