Monday, June 30, 2008

Flounder and Potatoes with Peas

This week we're trying to do a fridge and pantry clean-out. That means we won't be going grocery shopping, so I made the menu for the week using ingredients we have on hand. We had two flounder filets in the freezer, so I paired it with my usual potatoes and peas for dinner last night:

It was good, but I think we're done with frying for awhile. It was just too heavy. We're trying to eat lighter these days. And I'm not sure what was going on with the potatoes, but they didn't have much flavor.
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Dinner with Friends

Our friends C & D came over for dinner on Sunday. I tried a new Ina Garten recipe - Caesar Club Sandwich:

It came together and photographed beautifully. But first let's talk about the antipasto platter our friends made:

... complete with lettuce, grape tomatoes, marinated artichokes, olives, cauliflower, rolled meat and cheese, roasted peppers and a tangy dressing. It was hard not to fill up on all the yummy vegetables. After the somewhat healthy antipasto we gorged on chicken wings:

This is only one of two plates of wings (one per couple). I just used Frank's for the sauce and cut up some celery for dipping in the blue cheese dressing. After all that food we were stuffed, so we watched a movie before digging into the sandwich. That's what I love about sandwiches - they can keep so if you aren't hungry yet, it's OK.

I made a few slight modifications to the sandwich - used boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that's what I had on hand, as well as regular bacon instead of the pancetta. And I left out the sundried tomatoes because I didn't think they really went with the sandwich. It was a great sandwich. Not too heavy or complicated, but the flavors really came together nicely. And it was easy.

After all that food we took a long walk, but we still didn't have room for dessert, which was a bummer since SP and I had gone back to Velvet Sky Bakery for more outrageous cupcakes:

This time we got three Peanut Butter Cup, two chocolate with colored sprinkles, one Peppermint Oreo and a Milk Chocolate. We gave one Peanut Butter Cup and one chocolate with sprinkles to my parents and we sent C & D home with the other chocolate with colored sprinkles and the Peppermint Oreo to enjoy later.
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Cat: A Pictorial

On Sunday I was watching cooking shows with our cat. He's been quite the lovebug these days, so I decided to take some pictures of him.

I can't get over how young he looks in these photos. It's like seeing a flashback to his kittenhood. It always amazes me how different he can look from one day to the next depending on the lighting and his mood.

He was being very patient with me, which is rare. He really wanted me to just put the camera down and pet him.

He fell asleep after awhile and was having the most animated dreams, complete with leg and facial twitches. Then he stretched into this position:

Such a goofball. I love this little guy so much.
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Breakfast Sandwich

Sunday morning I made myself a breakfast sandwich:

I cooked two pieces of bacon, toasted an English muffin and used two eggs and some cheddar cheese to make a small omelet. I think one egg would have been more than enough for this sandwich. I always forget how small English muffins can be. But it was still darn tasty.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008


On Friday we went to my parent's house for dinner. We brought food in, but they wanted BBQ, which I've had too much of lately, so I got sushi instead.

I got three rolls - the spicy rock roll (along the left edge in the photo above), spicy tuna roll:

... and a tuna and avocado roll:

All of them were fantastic, with buttery soft avocado, spicy chunks of tuna and all the flavors melding beautifully. I wish sushi wasn't so expensive so I could eat it more often. We also got two orders of eel sushi for SP and my stepfather to share:

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We went to my parent's for dinner on Friday so I decided to make pizza on Thursday instead. We had a few mushrooms in the fridge and a can of olives in the pantry so I did a mushroom and olive pizza:

This wasn't my best effort (I made the pizza too large and we had a small mishap in the oven), but it certainly tasted good.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Seeing Red

I went out to water my garden tonight and what did I see:

Red! Houston, we have red tomatoes! I think they're still a day away from being ripe enough to pick, but I think tomorrow will be my first harvest. To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement. I just hope they taste good!
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Cold Sesame Noodles and Asian-Style Green Beans

I was really looking forward to this meal, but it didn't live up to my expectations.

I've yet to find a good recipe for cold sesame noodles to make at home. I tried a new recipe and had high hopes because the mixture tasted fantastic, but it was completely soaked up by the noodles, which left a dry, sticky mess on the plate. And I don't know what went wrong with the green beans since I'd made this recipe before, but they were incredibly salty and almost inedible. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
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Reese's Pie

We ran some errands last night after dinner and I had an unusual craving for something sweet. I'm not a big fan of sweets (hence why you rarely see them on my blog) but I think I needed something sweet to balance all the salt in the dinner. A restaurant near our house has a Reese's pie on the menu so we got a slice to go:

It really hit the spot, but I shouldn't eat that close to bedtime. I had the most bizarre dreams! Does anyone remember the episode of The Cosby Show where Cliff eats the sausage sandwich right before going to bed and has those weird dreams? That's totally me whenever I eat too late. That episode has one of my favorite Cosby Show lines in it - "All for one, one for all and three for five."
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Greek Chicken and Salad

I had taken chicken out to have with our pesto pasta on Monday, but it wasn't fully defrosted so I saved it for last night's Greek salad:

I made the salad with romaine, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta cheese. I made a quick dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. For the chicken I did my usual pounding it thin, dredging in egg and then seasoned bread crumbs, but to make it Greek I added oregano to the bread crumbs. It came out nice and tender and the salad was terrific.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Pesto Pasta

As I said in an earlier post, my basil plants had exploded. In order to encourage more growth, I cut off most of the leaves and made pesto, which I served with pasta and cut up grape tomatoes:

The pesto was gorgeously green and vibrant, with an amazingly fresh flavor. There is nothing like eating food you grew yourself.
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Yesterday I had the day off, so I slept late and ended up eating my first meal of the day around 11am. SP was kind enough to pick up some bagels at the store, so I toasted a sesame bagel and scrambled up a few eggs:

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When I got home on Sunday I was too tired to think about cooking. Luckily my darling husband took care of everything. He grilled burgers and we had them on kaiser rolls with fresh tomato, lettuce, and red onion:

He also bought Terra chips and Doctor Brown's to wash it all down.
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More Photos From the Garden

When I got back from my work conference I was surprised to see how much things had changed in the garden in such a short amount of time. The tomatoes are really coming along:

The grape tomatoes are starting to ripen:

The basil plants really exploded:

I ended up cutting off most of these leaves last night to make pesto. I love having fresh basil available to me so readily. I can't wait until it grows back.

And, shock of all shocks, the rose twig actually started flowering:

And it appears the roses are pink. Yay! It doesn't look anywhere as pretty as our friend's rose bush, but it's a start.
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On Tuesday, my last night at home until Sunday, SP picked up some BBQ for dinner. I got pulled pork, mac & cheese, collard greens and cornbread:

Once again, this is half the food they give you. It never looks like a lot in the styrofoam containter, but the food is rich and satisfying and a little goes a long way.
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On Saturday SP decided to pick up some cupcakes at a bakery he'd heard good things about from coworkers. Velvet Sky Bakery specializes in cakes and cupcakes.

SP got a few for us to ty - Milk Chocolate (Vanilla Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream), Peanut Butter Cup (Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Twist) and Peppermint Oreo (Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Oreo Buttercream, not pictured). My favorite was the Peanut Butter Cup. It had an intense peanut butter flavor and the half a mini Reeses on top of the cupcake put it over the edge. I'm not usually a fan of bakery cupcakes, but these were fantastic.
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More Takeout

I'm in the process of catching up on all the photos that were on my camera. I think this was dinner on Monday - mozzarella sticks and cheesesteak hoagies from the local pizzeria:

The mozzarella sticks were still hot when I got them home, which was fantastic. They were really well done so the outside was nice and crispy while the center held molten, gooey cheese.

I love a good cheesesteak hoagie and this was definitely an excellent version:

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I'm Back!!

I survived another work conference and am back at home. It was a long 5 days, but I have to say, it was eerie how much smoother it all went this year. We seem to have hit a stride. All weekend we kept saying how calm we were, how prepared we felt. Of course, that meant we all couldn't breathe easy until Sunday when we knew we'd made it through the meeting without a huge catastrophe, but in the end we did make it through and it was great.

I've got some photos on my camera (not quite sure what's on there so it'll be a surprise for all of us) and today I will start cooking again, so stay tuned!
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where's the Cat?

Can you spot the cat in this photo?

As any cat owner knows, they love to find new places to sleep the day away. Sure, our little guy has his favorite spots, but every once in awhile he changes it up and when we stumble upon him we can't help but scratch our heads and wonder, "Why there?" Recently our cat started sleeping in the corner of our bedroom, between SP's guitar and the wall:

I guess it's cool over there, since it's near one of the vents. I thought he looked so cute all splayed out in the corner. I was being extra quiet, but he can always sense my presence.

Caught again!

As I was working on my blog he switched positions:

Such a cute little bugger.
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Breakfast Sandwich

This morning SP ran out to get bagels so when it came to breakfast we decided breakfast sandwiches were the way to go:

I had mine on a toasted sesame bagel with bacon and scrambled eggs with melted cheddar cheese.
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Spaghetti Carbonara

SP was out with his brothers and nephews last night, so after working a long day getting ready for my work conference I decided I needed comfort food. In my world, that means spaghetti carbonara:

My coworker mentioned putting basil in her carbonara, so since I have a beautiful basil plant right in my backyard I decided to give it a try. I love the richness of the bacon and the onions and the basil added a nice sweetness that made this unlike any carbonara I've had before. It was good, but I don't think it's something I'll add all the time.
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Pizza and Salad

We're still not feeling that great, so we kept it simple Friday night and got an antipasto salad:

... and a Sicilian pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms:

... from the local pizzeria. The salad looked good, but it was mostly lettuce. We figured they subbed sundried tomatoes for fresh because of the tomato scare, but they just didn't work with the rest of the ingredients. The pizza was good, but I don't like the way they just throw the toppings on haphazardly. It doesn't make for even distribution.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Steak, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli

I told myself I wasn't going to cook this week. I just didn't want the stress of having to grocery shop, plan meals, worry about SP starving while I got dinner ready, etc. There's just too much else going on. Usually SP would take over in the kitchen, but his work schedule gets him home pretty late as it is, so we just decided take out was the way to go. Then I got sick. Then he started feeling sick. And by Thursday we just wanted to relax at home. I got out of work at a decent time so I stopped at the store on the way home and picked up two sirloin steaks, 2 huge baked potatoes and 2 heads of broccoli crowns.

This was a very simple, yet incredibly satisfying meal. And it took no time at all. I scrubbed the potatoes and threw them in the microwave for about 25 minutes. Done. The broccoli I just trimmed into large florets and steamed, then tossed with butter, salt and pepper. Done. While SP got the grill going I seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper and made a rosemary butter. I also snipped some chives for our baked potatoes. Dinner was ready in 30 minutes and we even sat outside to enjoy the nice break from the heat wave we've been having.

I just have to say, the chives on the baked potato were outstanding. We both commented on how incredible the flavor was. Something so simple and yet it was really tasty. Thanks for sharing the chives with me, Mom!

And a word about the steaks - the portion pictured above is about a third of one steak. I bought two steaks (totalling 3 pounds) so we'd have plenty for lunches the next day. And the kicker - the sirloin steak was on sale for $2.99/pound, so this entire meal cost less than $15. Score!
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I didn't think I'd have any blog posts this week. Monday we went out and then Tuesday morning I woke up with a sore throat and cough. Yeah, I'm sick. Again. I never get sick. Tuesday we got Chinese food (extra spicy) but I was so out of it I didn't take any photos. I felt a little better by Wednesday, when SP picked up some BBQ on his way home. We both got a combination platter:

... with ribs, pulled pork (not pictured), macaroni and cheese, spicy collard greens and cornbread. The ribs are nice and meaty, with a great smoky flavor. I drizzled some extra BBQ sauce on them before digging in. The amount of food pictured was half the platter - I took the pulled pork, half the cornbread and the rest of the mac & cheese and collards for my lunch. Delicious!
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

My Garden

My garden is coming along beautifully. I can't tell you how thrilling it is to go out in the backyard and pick fresh herbs when I'm cooking. I know it'll be even more exciting when we get the first ripe tomatoes. Here's my four not-so-little tomato plants all in a row:

As you can see, we bought the metal cages to encourage them to grow in a somewhat contained way. As they keep getting bigger I think I'm going to have to move them so there's more room between plants. I can't believe how quickly they've grown. It seems like overnight I went from just little flower buds to actual tomatoes:

The one above is from the patio variety, the second from the left in the top photo. He's always looked the least hearty, but he has the biggest tomatoes on him. Go figure. These are the grape tomatoes:

I also noticed the beginnings of a roma tomato (the third from the left in the top photo). I sound like a broken record, but I can't wait for them to ripen!

Last weekend we picked up a few more herbs - sage:

... and thyme:

I also got two basil plants two weeks ago that have quadrupled in size:

The rosemary plant is also doing well:

Like I said, I've already been using herbs from all the plants (except the sage...I need to think of something good to make with that). We get an excessive amount of sun in our backyard so everything seems to be thriving.
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