4.30.2012

Hey Good Lookin'...

...here's what we've been cookin' up around here lately!  First up...

Scallops with Creamy Bacon Corn Sauce

Here's a few pictures taken during preparation to get you ready for the recipe...





Total Time: 30 minutes (or longer if you're talking with your bestie and sippin' some wine...just sayin')
Makes 4 servings... ahem...riiiiiiiiight

3 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
1 T. canola oil (I used vegetable)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. pepper
3/4 lb. sea scallops, thawed
4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped (I used turkey bacon)
8 oz trinity mix (fresh diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers)
1 T. blackening seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 cup half and half
1 T. chives, coarsely chopped (optional)

Removed corn husks and silks; slice kernels off cobs (2-3 cups) into medium bowl.  Scrape cobs with back of knife to release remaining juices.

Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Season scallops with salt and pepper.  Place oil in pan, then add scallops; cook 1-2minutes on each side or until golden opaque, and firm.  Remove pan from heat; transfer scallops to plate and cover to keep warm.

Cut bacon into small pieces (using kitchen shears) while adding to same pan (wash hands); cook 3-4 minutes or until crisp.  Drain bacon fat, reserving one tablespoon in pan.  Stir in trinity mix; cook 2-3 minutes or until soft.  Combine blackening seasoning, half and half, and corn; add to pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3-4 more minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  Transfer corn mixture to serving dish; top with scallops and chives.  Serve.

(original recipe from Publix quarterly publication)


Blackening Seasoning
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (unless you LOVE spicy, I would cut this back considerably!)
1 T. paprika
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. oregano


Next up...a few pinterest finds made for a lovely Saturday evening dinner on the deck...


1 envelope (7oz) Italian dressing mix (or make your own - recipe below)
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. oil
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground thyme
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 t -- some of us aren't into spicy like others of us are)
1-1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast halves cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
3 bell peppers, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 fresh pineapple, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
2 small yellow squashes, cut into rounds (squash is not in yet...will repeat once harvested)

Mix together the Italian dressing mix, sugar, oil, soy sauce, cinnamon, thyme, and ground pepper.  Add the peppers, squash, and pineapple.  Stir in chicken until all are coated.  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, longer won't hurt!  Thread onto kabob sticks, and grill over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.

Italian Dressing Mix
1 1/2 t. garlic salt
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1 1/2 t. white sugar
1 T. dried oregano
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/8 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried basil
1 1/2 t. dried parsley
1/8 t. celery salt
1 T. salt

Mix together and store in a tightly sealed container.  To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 c. white vinegar, 2/3 c. canola oil, 2 T. water, and 2 T. of the dry mix.


1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed, drained, heated
3/4 cup cooked corn, heated
1 large tomato, diced
1 large scallion, diced fine (we substituted fresh chives instead)
2-4 T. chopped cilantro (not cilantro fans around here)
1 T. fresh squeezed lime juice (no limes. will make again and try with lime)
salt to taste (due to the lack of limes/cilantro I used seasoning salt)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss, and serve.


SO...there you have a few new recipes.  Enjoy! (Printable versions are available.)

Tomorrow I'll be starting a photo-a-day-in-the-month-of-May, as well as posting one Biblical virtue for each day to pray for our children.  The photo and the virtue may or may not have anything to do with each other.  

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4.28.2012

Your Child Can Read...

...or...you can read to your child and she will eventually memorize the books...because you have read them SO. MANY. TIMES.   What bliss is that - to read to a child!  Love it!

These are for the grandparents...and aunties...all others, please bear with us.  This is one of the better ways we have for sharing this type of media.

video


video

video


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4.26.2012

Fitness on Friday...

THIS is not a post I should be writing.  THIS post is WAAAAAAAY out of my comfort zone.  But, I feel compelled to write it.

I am not currently a very "fit" person -- but I am working (hard) to get that way.  I am choosing not to think of this so much as a diet/weight loss plan, but more of a healthier lifestyle.  I have started viewing my body as somewhat of a machine...fuel in, fuel used up, and so forth.  The reason I'm even posting this, is that what is helping me the most is community.  I'm speculating that there are others out there who are in similar situations, and I'd like us to be able to encourage one another.  My "friends" on the website I'm using aren't even people I know, but it still encourages me when they comment on my posts.  Fitness pins on pinterest have been a huge source of encouragement and inspiration for me. Reading fitness blogs such as Clare's help me to stay motivated and give me new ideas and tips.  Candace Cameron Bure's recent book Reshaping It All was a huge motivator in beginning this journey and I've read it twice now and I will probably start again soon.

So, what exactly is going on here?  Well, I'm on a quest to get healthier, both by eating better and staying active.  Turning 30 was a sobering thing for me, and then there was that whole thing about calculating my BMI only to see that I had crossed over the "overweight" category and into the "obese" category.  That's a self-esteem booster right there.  At the beginning of the year, I had surgery to remove my gallbladder and through that process I lost about 5 pounds.  It seemed like a good jumpstart to a new year, so as soon as I was cleared to eat anything (and I truly was now that the gallbladder was GONE!), I joined LoseIt.com and started tracking EVERYTHING I eat.  And, I mean everything.  Seriously -- Did you know chewing gum has calories?!?!  I've never really been a label reader, but let me tell you -- I check labels faithfully NOW.


For me, it's become a bit of a numbers game.  I track my calories, and with the help of the website, I figured out how many calories I need to be eating every day in order to steadily lose 1-2 pounds/week, but without letting my body go into starvation mode.  I love putting in my exercise numbers and keeping track of how many calories I've burned each day/week.  It also puts things into perspective when you're scooping out ice cream and you're counting how many laps around the track you have to do for each scoop.  "Um...no thanks, I'll just have 1 scoop."  Not to say that I don't splurge for special occasions, because I SO do, but on a regular basis, I'm fighting hard to be very disciplined.

Drinking water has been a huge help -- did you know that in order to find out how much water you should be drinking everyday, you simply divide your weight in half, and drink that amount (in ounces) of water?  Easy, peasy.  So -- are you drinking enough?!?!?

One of the things I like about LoseIt, is that regular activities can count as exercise for caloring burning...things like vacuuming, house cleaning, mowing the grass, gardening, etc.  I love to feel productive and I'm a hopeless multi-tasker, so if I can mow the grass AND burn calories, then by all means, SIGN ME UP.  I've also been using an old weight watchers video that is basically aeorbics, walking/running (when my knees let me) at a track, sometimes going to the gym (but the 25 min drive one way gets old), and I just got a Leslie Sansone walking dvd, and 2 workouts in and I love it!

Just this week, I read this article about lifestyle modifications formed during youth preventing heart disease later on...this hit home as this is prevalent in my family history.  But, the most encouraging thing I've read this week, with regard to this subject, is about the Most Powerful Diet Weapon...I think I need to read this post, daily.  My Just Do It pinterest board kind of sums up how I feel about the subject, so take a peek if you dare...

It's a long battle and I'm fighting hard.  But, it's a fun battle at the same time -- like I said, I like to be productive and I like to see results, and this provides both.  If you are on a similar journey and are a member of LoseIt, let me know so we can encourage one another.  I hope to post on Fridays from time to time with updates, fascinating tid bits, helpful hints, etc.


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Rosemary Potatoes (and my newly organized closet!)


Mouth-watering.  Om, nom, nom.  I kinda have a "thing" for Rosemary Potatoes...kinda.  So, I tried a new recipe last night.  The original recipe is actually for Thyme Potatoes, but I rarely have Thyme (pun intended), so we go with Rosemary since we seem to have that in abundance right now.

BUT....before I get to more lovely pictures of potatoes and rosemary, let me show you what I've been working on this morning...  

You see, my daughter had a stomach bug (that apparently decided to infest MANY in our church) on Tuesday, and this morning I woke up feeling not quite myself.  This was probably due to the fact that it seems to take about 2 days for the bug to transfer and today would be day 2 since she had it, and I had definitely been exposed to it.  I needed something to occupy my mind so that I wouldn't sit around and think about how sick I was feeling.  Power of suggestion is a powerful thing, y'all.  So, naturally, I started cleaning out and reorganizing some closets.  I forgot to take a picture of the first one before, and after pictures just aren't any fun without the before pictures.  So, you just get to see one -- mine.


BEFORE:


 AFTER:


Mmm, love me some order.  I keep going back to my room and peeking in just to make sure it still looks the same and my clothes haven't disorganized themselves in some sort of revolt while I'm busy doing other things.

Okay...on to the "recipe" - which it really isn't -- no exact measurements on this one.

Wash potatoes...

Pat dry...

Cut into quarters (or smaller if you're using giant potatoes...)

Toss them in your best stockpot and cover about 1" with cold water

Add in a splash of white vinegar and a healthy amount of kosher salt. (ahem)

Bring potatoes to a good boil, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Drain Potatoes.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over potatoes, and sprinkle with pepper and more kosher salt; toss until all potatoes are covered. 


I love pictures of food.  I really do. (thus the reason for tomorrow's post)

Lay freshly snipped (and washed) sprigs of rosemary on top of potatoes (which have been transferred to a baking sheet)

Bake at 500* -- yes, 500*, for about 15 minutes; stir, and cook for 15 more minutes.

Discard rosemary, and serve those delectables...

Seriously, people...I was eating them off the pan. yum.

(Oh...and I'm feeling fine...but that's all I'm going to say about that, because those bugs have a way of listening and just when you say, "I think I'm in the clear" - they come out and GET YOU!)
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4.23.2012

Birthdays are for...

daddy-daughter pics before church...

create-your-own ice cream sundaes after lunch...

phone calls and facebook greetings...

naps...


watering the trees...

lighting the grill...

multi-tasking...

bacon-wrapped filets...


phone calls with the grandparents...

I've got a crush on him...

candlelit dinners.

4.19.2012

Garden Gifts...

I'm taking a break from recording my 1000 gifts during March and April, and might resume in May, although I'm not sure yet.  (Hoping to post a picture a day in the month of May...clever, huh?  Not my idea.)  The break comes mostly because I did not get the guide sheets printed in time, so by the 10th of the month when I had to backtrack and record over 30 gifts, I decided to wait.  Not that I couldn't actually COME UP with 30 gifts, mind you, but I AM a firstborn, and I DO tend towards methodical ways of doing things, and I would prefer to actually have the gifts remembered on each given day, and I COULD NOT remember back to each day to think of gifts for that particular day, thus...I decided to wait.  (Our Pastor spoke directly to ME from the pulpit recently...although no one else BUT ME knew, when he said as Presbyterians we often have the attitude of, "If I can't do it THE RIGHT way, I'm NOT going to do it AT ALL."  Ahem...does your Pastor ever speak directly to you?  Yeah...they think we don't realize they have ALL our houses and phones bugged... ;-))

I have however been taking a LOT more pictures lately (read = I need an external hard drive for the next gift-giving holiday!) and often they are of things that I see as gifts.  It's also fun to explore this world through the eyes of a 2 year old, which I try to do on a regular basis.  My neighbors could tell you that it is not uncommon to see me on the ground in my yard, often kneeling or lying down taking pictures of random plants and bugs.  But, then again, there's probably NOT a lot that surprises my neighbors anymore...

So anyway...onto the gifts -- I don't have a ton of time for blogging (read = that I'm willing to devote to blogging) lately, so this is a heavy picture post.  Feel free to step away from the computer for a few minutes (read = hours...days...) while they all load. :-)

Rosemary - used since 500 B.C., rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area (where it grows wild) but is now cultivated throughout Europe and the US.  This mint-family member's silver-green, needle-shaped leaves are highly aromatic and their flavor hints of both lemon and pine.


Chives - related to the onion and leek, this fragrant herb has slender, vivid green, hollow stems.  Chives have a mild onion flavor and are available fresh year-round.  Chives are a good source of vitamin A and also contain a fair amount of potassium and calcium.



Lavender - a relative of mint, this aromatic plant has violet flowers and green or pale gray leaves, both of which lend their bitter pungency to salads.  The leaves may also be used to make herb tea.



C discovered these and called me over to see -- you can imagine how delighted she was at such a tiny spider web.  Compared to the blades of grass and small clovers, you can get an idea of the size.






We acquired 3 rose bushes when we bought our house 5 years ago, and I know little more now than I did then with regard to growing them.  They do pretty well on their own, but I know I could help them do better.  I tend to focus more on the edible plants...the ones we LIKE to eat, that is.  I have been served a salad with rose petals in it and I did taste them.  Apparently, I need to start using epsom salt in my gardening...


Still working on convincing the rabbits that THIS is for them...



Summer squash are high in vitamins A and C as well as niacin.


Corn - the peak season for fresh corn is May through September.  As soon as it's picked, the corn's sugar immediately begins its gradual conversion to starch which, in turn, lessens the corn's natural sweetness.


Tomato - a member of the nightshade family, fruit of a vine native to South America.  Some tomato advocates claimed the fruit has aphrodisiac powers, and in fact, the French called them pommes d'amour, "love apples."  It wasn't until the 1900's that the tomato gained some measure of popularity in the US.  Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and contain appreciable amounts of vitamins A and B, potassium, iron and phosphorus.  


Spinach - originating in the Middle East, spinach was being grown in Spain during the 8th century, and the Spaniards are the ones who eventually brought it to the US.  It is a rich source of iron as well as of vitamins A and C


Lettuce - all lettuce is low calorie and most of it is rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.  Keep in mind that the darker green leaves contain the most nutrients.


Strawberry - 16th century author William Butler wrote this tribute to the strawberry: "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did."  Red, juicy and conically shaped, the strawberry is a member of the rose family and has grown wild for centuries in both the Americas and Europe.  The Romans valued the fruit for its reputed therapeutic powers for everything from loose teeth to gastritis.  Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and also provide some potassium and iron.


Lettuce -- see above...



Green Bean - a long, slender green pod with small seeds inside, the entire pod is edible.  Green Beans have a fair amount of vitamins A and C.


Parsley - In ancient times parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness - though proof of their efficacy in that capacity is scarce.  Today, this slightly peppery, fresh-flavored herb is more commonly used as a flavoring and garnish.  Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.


Basil - called the "royal herb" by ancient Greeks, this annual is a member of the mint family.  Fresh basil has a pungent flavor that some describe as a cross between licorice and cloves.  It's a key herb in Mediterranean cooking, essential to the delicious Italian pesto, and is becoming more and more popular in American cuisine.  

 All of these most entertaining and educational blips can be found in one of my favorite food books EVER.  (And, just in case you were wondering, I think we're pretty well covered on getting our vitamins A and C.)
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