Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Enjoy the silence

My darling dear Bailey is away at camp this week, and my house sure is quiet. Well, quiet except for the cats meowing because no one is there to pet them all day.

Rominal and I are enjoying our "adult" time. Last night after a lovely dinner of steak and potatoes, we decided we wanted something sweet. So, we hopped into the car and took off to Sonic for a late night treat. It felt very odd not having that third person in the car with us and (I say this with the utmost of love) not having her monopolize the conversation. We talked about our day, things going on at our jobs, current news events, and not once did someone interrupt us to tell us about the latest text message she just received or roll her eyes. It was nice. Very nice.

Tonight we are going to see the movie The Hangover, an "R" rated film that we wouldn't be able to see if Bailey were with us. Can you believe it? I'm going to see a movie on a "school night!"

Wow - I feel so . . . so adult.

The campers aren't allowed to bring their cell phones, and they don't make calls home, so the lack of communication is difficult - for me. I find myself thinking of her several times during the day. Is she having fun? Is she getting along with her camping buddies? Is she drinking enough water? (I'm not just being silly, they are outside and it's really hot there.) I'm sure she is having a blast and hasn't thought twice about us.

We will pick her up on Friday and our short adult time will be over. I was thinking that this is good preparation for when she goes off to college. You hear of other couples who just don't know what to do with themselves after the kids have moved out of the house. While I realize it's only been a couple of days for us so far, I think we will be just fine.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken Bread Salad

For Father's Day, Mom and I made this salad and then took it to my Grandfather's for lunch. It was wonderful. Bailey and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was possibly even better.

We got this recipe from Allrecipes. The original is here. We added some cubed fresh mozzarella as well.

24 (3/4 inch thick) slices French bread
3 cups cooked, cubed chicken breast
4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 (15.5 ounce) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Place bread on a baking sheet. Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Cool on a wire rack. Cut bread into 1-in. pieces. (We recommend cutting the bread into bite-size pieces to make it easier to eat.)

In a large bowl, combine the bread, chicken, tomatoes, beans, cucumber, basil, salt and pepper. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toss.

Things got kinda busy when we were packing things up to take to Grandpa's, so this is the only picture that I got of the finished salad - which was taken right before I finished my plate of food.

It really is a good salad. Excellent to take to a gathering.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Florentine Meatballs

Sorry for the delay, life got busy there for a couple of days.

Here's the next post about food that Mom and I made on our marathon baking weekend. And guess what - this recipe doesn't involve butter! Oh wait, let me check that and make sure. Well, there's a little bit of butter, but not much.

This recipe is from Rachael Ray. The original recipe is here. These turkey meatballs turned out really good. We doubled the recipe so that we could freeze some.

Here's what you need:
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted in the microwave
1 1/3 pound (1 package) ground turkey breast
1 medium onion, finely chopped, divided
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups milk, divided
3/4 cup bread crumbs, 3 handfuls
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, 2 palm fulls
Coarse salt and black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 (10-ounce) sack shredded provolone or blend of Italian cheeses, available on dairy aisle
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wring defrosted spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel. Place turkey in a bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Add the spinach, all but 3 tablespoons of the onion, all of the garlic, 1 large egg, about 1/4 cup milk, bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well. Form into 12 large balls and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
While balls are in the oven, heat a small sauce pot over medium heat. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Melt butter, add remaining finely chopped onion and cook 2 minutes then whisk in flour. Cook flour 1 minute, then whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 cup stock. Bring liquid up to a boil then stir in shredded provolone or blended Italian cheeses. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, turn heat to lowest setting.
Place 3 balls on dinner plates and top with sauce, garnish with parsley.

We actually made our meatballs smaller than what was suggested - so that we would have more. Rominal and Bailey liked these as well.

Here's our finished product.

And I froze several bags of the meatballs in my vacuum bag thingy. The other night I pulled out one bag and let it defrost, then served them with spaghetti and spaghetti sauce. It was a great easy dinner.

We would certainly recommend this recipe, despite the lack of butter involved.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strawbery Soup

Can you name the theme that my last few posts have had? And just to make it more difficult, this recipe doesn't involve butter! That's a first!

I'll give you a minute to think it over. In the meantime, let me refresh your memory. This is the third post resulting from the marathon baking/cooking weekend that I had with my mom.

On Father's Day, we took a lunch over to my Grandfather's retirement home and we all had lunch together. One piece of our menu included Strawberry Soup. I got this recipe from Allrecipes and the original recipe is here.


2 pints strawberries
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Put everything into a blender and whirl away. Chill before serving.

Mom, Bailey and I loved this dish. We let Bailey and her friend Tiffany sample a bit of it on Saturday and they immediately declared their love. Tiffany went a bit further and proposed marriage to this soup. It's that good.

The guys, especially Rominal, didn't quite get the whole idea of a fruit soup. Rominal said that it tasted like melted strawberry ice cream.

Yeah, and the problem would be?

After this comment from Rominal, Mom and I decided that we loved this soup no matter what he said and that our problem might just be that we needed a taster with more sophisticated tastes.

Anyway - I highly recommend this soup.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Bars

So, did you happen to see the Better Homes and Gardens May, 2009 cover? Did it make your mouth water too? Oh, you missed it? Well, it was a picture of Fresh Strawberry Bars. They looked so wonderful that I knew Mom and I had to make them during our weekend of marathon baking.

Here's the recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup strawberry jam
4 cups small whole strawberries, halved or quartered

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil beyond the edges. Set aside. I decided to leave our bars in the 9x13 pan, so I did not line the pan with foil, I just left the bars inside the pan. I did butter the pan real well though.
2. In large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Beat in sugars, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining flour.
3. Spread dough in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
4. Cool completely on rack. Remove from pan by lifting foil. (again, I just left it in the pan) Spread jam and top with berries. Cut into bars. Serve at once or refrigerate up to 6 hours. Makes 24 bars
Make Ahead: Wrap the peanut butter base in foil; store at room temperature up to 24 hours. Before serving, top with jam and berries. Or freeze the peanut butter base in a freezer container up to 3 months.

We had mixed reviews for this dessert. Bailey and I loved it, while Mom and Rominal weren't that thrilled with it. Rominal isn't a good judge though, because he really doesn't like sweets that much (how I ended up with someone who doesn't like sweets is beyond me). To make matters worse, he doesn't like peanut butter that much either. Mom agreed with me in that we both thought that it was a visually pretty dessert and would be good to take to a pot-luck function.

Here's the cooked base.

Oh goodness, how did that extra butter get in there? Gosh - it was everywhere Saturday!

And here's a picture of the finished product. The magazine would have you take this out of the pan, which did look much better, but that would have meant I would have had to find a serving plate and dirty another dish. It just wasn't going to happen. Even using my dishes sparingly, we still had to run the dishwasher 4 times on Saturday because of all of the cooking and baking we were doing. I think that might be a new record for me.

Back to the Fresh Strawberry bars -

I would recommend this recipe, and I know Bailey would as well. In fact, she and I just finished up another slice each. Yummy!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strawberry Muffins from the NoblePig

My mom and I love to cook. Whenever we find a recipe that we'd like to try, we set it aside and hopefully someday get around to actually making it. We decided that we needed an entire weekend to make all (or just 13) of the recipes that we had been holding onto.

This is that weekend. So, expect some posts of our baking highlights over the next few days.

We started our morning with this:

What? What's your point? (All of this butter didn't go into the muffins, so don't freak out!)

Ever since I saw the Strawberry Yogurt Muffins recipe that Cathy from The Noble Pig posted about I knew we had to try them.

Her recipe is here. We followed her recipe exactly except that our store didn't have coarse sugar, even though our store is supposed to be the biggest in Texas. So, instead we bought and used Sugar in the Raw. I don't think it was the same, but it turned out ok.

Here are the muffins before they went into the oven.

And here they are afterwards. We can't stress enough how good these muffins are. You simply must stop whatever you are doing and go make them now.

The muffin part is so light and airy. I think they would be good with blueberries as well.

So far we have made 10 of our 13 planned recipes, and this is one of our favorites.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Oatmeal

My Grandmother was known for being a wonderful cook. She could host a party for 20 relatives and not get stressed out at all.

Back in 1988, each female in my family received a hand-made cookbook of recipes that Grandma had made us throughout the years. These were recipes that she particularly loved and made often. While this meant a lot to me at the time, now that she is gone, this book means that much more to me. It's a way to connect with her once again. In fact, for her memorial service earlier this year, my Mom and I made food from the recipes in this book.

So, the other weekend when my bonus-mom, Peggy, was in town, we made a recipe from this book. Peggy knew this recipe well, almost by heart even, because it was the same recipe she makes all of the time. I am very disappointed to say, that I had never made these cookies. If I had known I had this fantastic recipe all of this time, I wouldn't have waited this long.

Grandma has this recipe titled Mrs. Field's Cookies - but just so that I don't get in trouble, I'm calling them chocolate chip cookies with oatmeal.

Here's what you need:

Cream together:
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix in:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 cups of Oats (we used old fashioned oatmeal - and first you grind this for a bit in a food processor - you want it not so much "oats" and a tad bit more like flour - but with some oats still visible)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 24 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

The recipe calls for 8 ounces of Hershey Bar grated, and 3 cups of chopped nuts, but we left both of these out.

Roll into balls or use your handy cookie scoop and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

This makes a ton of cookies - which is a good thing. They won't last long.

Here's the mix all mixed up.

And here they are about to go into the oven. You can eat them now, but try not to.

And here's a plate of wonderful cookies. You have got to try these.

You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

No-Bake Cookies

A couple of days ago, Bailey had her friend Tiffany spend the night and they were wanting to make something. Actually, Bailey doesn't like cooking that much, but Tiffany does (a child after my own heart). So, Tiffany and I persuaded Bailey to make some cookies.

I got this recipe from Starwoodgal's blog and the original recipe is here.

I chose this recipe because it didn't involve turning on my oven - something that becomes more and more important as the mercury rises during the summer. Also, it has very few ingredients - have I mentioned that I'm kinda lazy?

Here's what you need:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 stick margarine (I used real butter)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim milk - what can I say, I'm a contradiction)
Mix in a saucepan and boil for one minute. Stir constantly. Add in the following:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
Mix them well and drop them in spoonfuls onto wax paper. I actually added about another cup of oats - I didn't think they would ever get solid. We put ours into the fridge to cool as well.

I actually made these again last night, this time without the distraction, er, I mean help from the girls. And this time I didn't have to add any extra oats and it worked perfectly. I suspect we might have gotten off count when we were adding oatmeal last time.
Back to the original post.

Here's the mix beginning to boil.

Food tastes better when you have two cute helpers!

Here's the finished product. The girls actually rolled some in coconut and some in pecans, although just like Starwoodgal says - we preferred them plain as well.

These cookies really grew on us. The hint of peanut butter with the chocolate is really good. And with the oats, you can pretend you are eating something healthy.

I meant to take a prettier picture with the cookies on a nice plate, but they were gone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Bailey and I were home alone Wednesday night. There was also a big storm that night. So, Bailey and I spent a lot of time looking at the radars on TV and listening to weather forecasts. When you live in Texas, you tend to pay attention to that kind of thing.

Early in the night it started looking like this outside:

Here's another shot - I don't think these pictures were too far apart. I would step outside for just a second, take a picture, then run back in. I know - it doesn't look that bad, but what you are missing is the lightening and thunder. We were seeing lightening all around us.

I had a goal Wednesday night when I got home from work. It was to finish up my Girl Scout financial reports and re-enrollment paperwork, then me and Bailey were going to go drop that off at someone's house, then we were going to pick up dinner on the way home. I had visions of having dinner at a decent hour. I had visions of finishing up the paperwork that I had once again waited until the last minute to complete.

My visions were wrong.

As I was frantically typing on the computer, Bailey was anxiously watching the weather reports begging me to come downstairs where it would be safer. I kept saying the big part of the storm isn't that close yet - I still have a bit of time to finish up my reports.

Then I got a call from our reverse 911 system saying that we were under a tornado warning.

Ok - that's fine. I can still work on my reports. The weather radars don't show anything definite yet.

Then the tornado siren's went off.

Allrighty then - I'll be heading downstairs NOW.

So, Bailey and I grabbed our cats and shoved them into our cat carrier (in case the house was blown to shreds, at least the cats would be together) and we piled into our downstairs powder room. It's the only interior room downstairs that has a door. Well, I guess our kitchen pantry has a door, but I don't want to be pelted by flying cans of food.

About a minute after the sirens went off, the wind kicked up several notches and the pressure in the house seemed to change. Bailey was in full panic mode. I will fully admit I was scared too. After a bit, I asked Bailey if she had shut the garage door, because it really sounded like it was open and all of the storm was coming right in. She said, "I think so." I gathered up my courage and ran and looked into the garage - the door was down. While I was there I grabbed Bailey's horse riding helmet and ran back. We sat huddled in the bathroom for a while longer and eventually things seemed to calm down.

After it had all passed, we reenacted the scene for your viewing pleasure.

The cats seemed to enjoy the forced close quarters. They had a good nap and weren't too eager to come out.

Zephyr (Orange) is the first to step out.

Twister (Cow) wanted to stay there the rest of the evening.

Luckily, there seemed to be only some fence portions down in our neighborhood - nothing else too serious that I could see.
I received a good bit of teasing from my coworkers today for telling them how I had made Bailey wear a helmet. Oh well - that's fine. I think I will keep it more handy for next time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sorry for the delay!

I'm sorry for the delay in my post, I know everyone has been sitting on pins and needles to hear what happened to Rominal after his court date. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, please read this first.

After all of this happened we went and looked through all of our cancelled checks. Turns out that I had records back to 3 months after the date the check was written, but nothing on this actual check or checking account. We suspect that Rominal might have bounced the check back then (it was his own account at that time) but we really think that we would have gotten this taken care of back then. However, we have no way to prove the check was paid. We hoped that he could plead his case to the judge to explain how are we supposed to keep up with this for 17 years?

Well, Rominal went to court and he was the last person to go in front of the judge. The entire time he was there he kept hearing her explain if you wanted a jury trial, she would set a date and she didn't want to hear anything else about why the person might think they are not guilty. If they didn't want a jury trail, they had the choice of pleading no contest or guilty.

So, after Rominal spent quite a while hearing each person go up and try to plead their case, only to hear the judge state, " jury trial, no contest or guilty?" it was finally his turn. He walked up and the judge opened up a folder and there was the check he had written 17 years ago. The actual check. So, he went ahead and pleaded no contest. He was assigned a fine of $100.00 and restitution fee of $75.00 for a total of $175.00. This money came out of the $250.00 bond money we had paid for him, so we actually got some money back.

All in all, we are glad to be done with it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nothing much to say

I don't have much to say today, so I thought I would post one of my favorite pictures. It's from a couple of years ago, and it was taken at the Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas. I love how Bailey is trying to imitate the sculpture - she even had a bun in her head that day. That was a coincidence.

Tomorrow is a big day for our family. Why you ask? Well, first you should read or re-read this story. Tomorrow Rominal has his court date to hopefully get this whole mess resolved. I'll keep you posted.