Friday, April 27, 2012

Fenced In

We finally got our yard fenced in!  Inga is happy as a clam now that she can run around sans leash.  Of course, to celebrate the new found freedom in the backyard, we had to have a puppy play date :)  Meet Leeluu!
Our rough and tumble girls

A picture of them both staying still was nearly impossible
Inga looks like she's practicing for the red carpet ;)
Such a fun night getting to play off leash in the yard!

I am going to be taking the next week off from blogging, but I will be back with amazing pictures and stories to share with you all!!  Take care!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Porkchops with Rhubarb Cherry Sauce

We have a decades old rhubarb in our backyard, and I plan to take full advantage of it.  Here is the first in what I hope will be many rhubarb recipes.

Serves 4.  You will need:
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • 4 pork chop
Combine the cherries, balsamic vinegar, and water in a bowl.  Let them stand for 10 minutes to allow the cherries to rehydrate.  Once they have sat for 10 minutes, top with the rhubarb and sugar.

Meanwhile, heat a small amount of olive oil in a small pot.  Saute the onions until they are soft.  Once the onion is soft, add the cherry mix, rhubarb, and sugar to the pot.  It will look like there isn't enough liquid, but the rhubarb will release a lot of water as it heats.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 5-8 minutes, and add a dash of nutmeg.  Remove from the heat, but keep the sauce warm.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the pork chops and cook thoroughly (about 4 minutes on each side).

Serve the chops topped with the sauce.  We served ours with steamed green beans and oven roasted potatoes.  For the potatoes, make a tin foil pouch, fill with chopped potatoes and onions, top with salt and butter pats.  Bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees until the potatoes are soft.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Super Smoothies

Lately I've been on a smoothie kick.  They make a great breakfast or a super healthy snack.  Here's a few of my favorite recipes (they each make two servings)

Ginger, Berry, and Oat Smoothie

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 cup low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Take the oats and let them soak in the water for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. 
Then, put all of the ingredients (oats and water included) into a blender and blend until smooth.

Berry Nut Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

I like to make a few batches at a time and store them in the fridge in ziplock baggies.  Then, I've got breakfast or snacks in a snap!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Flowers and Herbs

This year, I'm trying a new pink, purple, and yellow color scheme in the pots and the beds.  Also new, I decided to do double duty with my flower pots.  I wanted them to be pretty and decorative, but I figured I could  throw some herbs in the mix, too!  And just to make sure I don't get confused when reaching for fresh herbs to cook with, I'm using these adorable garden markers - a birthday gift from John's aunt and uncle.  Do you grow any herbs?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Perfect Warm Weather Salad

Our temperature has been jumping around like crazy lately; one day it's 80, the next we have frost!  For those warmer days, though, nothing beats this salad!

All it takes is:
  • Mixed baby greens
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 ounce of feta
  • A handful of grape tomatoes, halved
Pile it all on a plate and dig in!  I used a balsamic vinaigrette, but it would be great with so many different dressings.  What I love most about this salad is that it's filling, delicious, and just sits on the border of healthy food :)  Enjoy!
There's a chicken breast buried in there somewhere....

Monday, April 16, 2012

House Numbers

We have slowly been sprucing up the house, and this weekend we added new house numbers! Near the end of last year we put in a new front door, but out with the old door went our house numbers.  We had been using a computer print out taped to the door until this weekend.  I think things are coming along nicely :)  Now I just need to add some potted plants!

Old door, old numbers

New door with lovely printer paper house numbers
New door, new numbers!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets

I spend a great deal of time posting the crafts I do and delicious recipes on this blog.  However, I have a confession to make:  I do not always make amazing meals.  I do not always have a fun project to work on.  Sometimes, I sit around watching Netflix and eating microwaveable popcorn for dinner.

So, on the days that I feel especially lazy and not at all like Suzy Homemaker, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Trick #1: Macaroni and Cheese.

Instead of just a plain box of mac and cheese, I make mine with fat free plain yogurt instead of milk.  It makes it feel a little more grown up and a little less lazy :)  Add the butter (2 tablespoons) and cheese powder like usual.  Then just add the yogurt by the spoonful until the consistency is to your liking!  Bonus points for adding bacon bits or some cooked veggies.

Trick #2: Dust

Whenever I lack the time (energy, motivation) to clean the whole house, I dust.  Cleaning the surfaces and clearing away piles on the table tops does SO much to make a house look clean.  In fact, just the other week I only dusted.  John came home and assumed I had cleaned from top to bottom!  (Another neat trick on the dusting line: dust a lampshade using a lint brush roller.)

Trick #3: Salad Dressing

Homemade salad dressing was impossible for me to master.  Then, I got a gift that changed everything: an emulsifier!  It whisks your ingredients together to the perfect blend and, best of all, it has the recipes and amounts listed on the side!  I can now make a balsamic vinaigrette, red wine vinaigrette, dijon vinaigrette... the list goes on.  Seriously, get one!

So, there's my list of dirty little secrets :)  Do you have any?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pasta with Asparagus and Prosciutto

I found the original recipe from Val So Cal, a lovely blog, on Pinterest.  The flavor combinations sounded so good, so I made it my own and stripped it down a bit.  Here's what I did:

You will need:
Asparagus (one bunch)
Olive oil
White wine (about 1/3 cup)
Pasta (2-3 ounces.  I used spaghetti, but any kind will do)
Prosciutto (3 ounces, thinly sliced and cut into strips)
Parmesan (lots...)

Bring water to a boil and cook your pasta according to the directions.  While the water is heating, heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Add a small amount of olive oil (enough for sauteing) and then add your asparagus. 
Saute for about 7 minutes (when the asparagus turns bright green and begins to get tender) and add in your wine.  Let the asparagus cook for another 3-4 minutes

By now, the pasta should be done and drained.  Return the pasta to the pot and toss with olive oil.  Divide the pasta and top with asparagus, prosciutto, and parmesan. 

As a side note on parmesan, we love our micro-plane grater but for thicker slivers of hard cheeses, nothing beats a vegetable peeler!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Honeymoon Happenings

In less than a month, John and I are going on our honeymoon!  I just booked all of the major things - hotel, flight, car - and I am beyond excited!  Here's the plan:
Fly into San Francisco
Rent a convertible
Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge
Arrive in Santa Rosa (can these lavender fields please be just like this when we get there?)
Wine tastings in Napa Valley
...and Sonoma Valley

With a hot air balloon ride in the mix!

Does anyone have any suggestions of things that we have to see or do?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yet another super easy dinner recipe :)

You will need:

  • 2 red bell peppers (though I suppose any color would work)
  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (plus more for topping)
  • baby spinach (I used about 1/2 of one of those prepackaged bags of spinach)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook the orzo according to the package.  Once the orzo is done, drain it and return it to the pot.  Drizzle with olive oil and add the feta and spinach, stirring until the spinach begins to wilt.

Stuff halved peppers with the orzo mixture, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes.  Once they are done, top with fresh feta and serve!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

This couldn't be easier to make.  It's so simple, but so delicious!  And I always feel a little French when I get to eat it :)

You will need:
  • Salad greens (I think baby greens are perfect for this)
  • Goat cheese (a 4 ounce log is the perfect size)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar whisked with 1/2 cup olive oil for dressing (this will make more than you need)

Turn on the broiler in your oven.  While it's heating, divide your goat cheese into four patties, placing them on a foil lined baking sheet. 

Once the oven is heated, broil the cheese for about 5 minutes.  It won't be golden brown or bubbly; it will just be warmed.  Serve the goat cheese on a bed of greens and drizzle with your dressing.  Yummy!
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