Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chalk Board Update

I have been remiss in not doing a final post on my Chalk Board Pantry door.

I love it and am so glad I did it.  We use it all time for lots of things, but currently it has our go to "we-want-something-sweet" dessert for one.  Of course as soon as we have this memorized (yep, it's gonna happen) I'm sure we will put up something else.  Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

We also now have a great way to keep track of things we need at the store.  You can see we have fun with that.

And my sewing room?

I have been spending some time in there lately.  The design wall is filling up with my Dear Jane blocks.

I love seeing them sewn together in rows.  They look a little yellow since I took the pictures at night under artificial light.

My goal was to have 112 complete by the end of August and am currently on number 109 with three days and three blocks to go.  I bet you can guess what I'll be doing after work this week.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My First Egg Rolls

With Breck out of town on Sunday for Fantasy Football Draft, I found myself back in the kitchen.  This is not a bad thing for me.  I do like to cook, and it gave me an opportunity to do something new.  I gave egg rolls a shot.

I had some left over pork carnitas  from a meal a few days earlier that I thought might be good in an egg roll.  I started out with 3/4 Cup chopped cabbage, 1chopped green onion with greens, and 1 stalk of celery chopped including the leaves.  I microwaved this for 2 minutes uncovered.

Then I got my egg roll skins out the refrigerator.  I found these in the produce section of my HEB.

After the cabbage mixture had cooled slightly, I mixed it with my 1/2 pound of leftover pork (also chopped).  I also threw in a tsp of Soy Sauce and one of cooking sherry.

The egg roll skins were not as delicate as I thought they would be making them easy to work with.  I just scooped what I eye balled as a good serving size onto the sheet.

I folded in the two sides, then folded the flap closest to me over and rolled them shut.  A little water sealed the edge.

When I was done I had four pork egg rolls.

I still had more skins, so I rolled them with a slice of ham and Swiss cheese.  Won't these be good dipped in honey mustard?

I baked these for a healthier egg roll on a silicone mat, though parchment paper would have bee great too.

Lovely, aren't they?  400 degrees for about 14 minutes, turning halfway through.  Not pictured are veggie egg rolls I made to use up the last few wrappers I had.  Cabbage, carrot, celery, green onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.  I winged it.

I flash froze them so they would not stick together when packaged.  These will be great for work lunches.

I got on a roll and also put away two Rosemary Pot Roast bags.  So easy.

One went in the freezer, but one went into the crock pot before I left for work this morning.

And this is what I came home to.  Yum.

So nice.  I also made a basket of goodies for the other folks on my hall.  Just something fun to start the year.

I know you can't tell in the picture, but those are packs of Extra gum.  I love Pinterest.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Absentee Blogger

Things have been, as expected, a little crazy around here since going back to work.  Long days at the school, combined with birthday dinner celebrations with friends, and just getting used to the old routine again has made for a general lack of productivity around the house and blog posts.  Sorry about that.  I'll try and do better in the coming weeks starting with today.

I have been breaking into my freezer meals lately (Now to Put My Feet Up).  Breck and I had the Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas with sauteed red and green peppers, onions, and white queso cheese on Homemade Tortillas.  Very good eats, I must say, with enough left over for me to have for lunch.  Last night it was Italian Flank Steak Pinwheels.

With my busy schedule, it was nice to have this to take out of the freezer the night before to thaw in the refrigerator.

The only prep I needed to do was to stick 4 skewers into the pinwheels so I could make 1 inch slices.

Some of the filling fell out, but not much, and it didn't go to waste.

Onto the griddle for 6 minutes  on side one.

And 6 more minutes on side two.

I sprinkled the filling that had fallen out onto the top before serving.

I had Parmesan roasted potatoes and baked onion on the side.  So yummy.  I have been so happy with the meals that I need to get a day on my calendar to do this again.

Of course I have been in the sewing room as a stress reliever this week.  Check out my new blocks at My Dear Jane Experience.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to Work

It didn't go out with a flurry of projects.  I didn't scramble to finish any lists.  Summer for me just seemed to end unceremoniously.  Back to work.

I did get a lot of sewing done over the last 2 days.  At last count I completed 6 new blocks, and may make another before the night is through.  I have now made 105 out of the 169 blocks.  That's 62%.  Getting there slowly but surely.

I also can now vouch for some of the recipes that I made on my crazy day of cooking (Now to Put My Feet Up).  The Sausage Cheese Balls are amazing, as are the Sausage Cheese and Onion Muffins (hers have mushrooms but I left them out) and Zucchini Cakes.  I do recommend the oven reheating method for the Zucchini Cakes, but the microwave worked just fine on the other breakfasts.

Since my husband is out of town, I took the opportunity to indulge in one of my guilty pleasures; the SciFi Channel.  It was nonstop Vampires today.  I could not have thought of a better way to spend my day than watching Vampire movies (love Wesley Snipes in Blade) and sewing in my PJs, except of course with Breck if he were here.

Now back to work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Now to Put My Feet Up

My summer is just about over and it's time to get my ducks in a row to go back to work.  I came across a website this week that intrigued me and would also help me accomplish that goal;  Once a Month Mom.  This lady is one hard worker.  Once a month she posts menus for traditional and vegetarian, gluten/dairy free and whole food diets.  The plan is to shop, prep, and cook for a months worth of meals in 2 days.   I just had to give it a try.

I chose her August 2011 Whole Foods compilation with just a few modifications and choosing to cook for 2.  It generated a grocery list for me(simple, right?), then I shopped.  It went quickly with a list.

Then the real work began.  Chop, chop, chop.

I didn't do all the chopping.  I did turn some of the heavy work over to my food processor.  These are sun dried tomatoes for the stuffed flank steak.

Truthfully, the cushy mat on the floor helped in it's own way as well.

As I chopped, sliced, and diced, I marked off my list with yellow highlights.  So much easier than printing it.

Well, that was day one.  All in all about 2 1/2 hours of time (1 shopping and 1 1/2 chopping).  Day two it got crazy, but with all the prep done the day before it all came together.  While muffins were baking I made zucchini cakes.

While the quiche was in the oven, I made a stuffed flank steak.  Remember the sun dried tomatoes?

And while the summer vegetable chowder and the quiches cooled, I made labeled bags to get it all stowed away in the freezer.

The labels have directions on cooking or reheating.

The last items put away were my sausage, egg, and cheese muffins.  May tap that for breakfast tomorrow, though I made enough for 6 servings.

Now my freezer if full.

Here is what I now have stocked and ready for the month.

4 - 19 oz. servings of Summer Vegetable Chowder (plus an extra for Breck to take for lunch tomorrow)
2    Spinach and Tomato Quiches (each serves 2 people with probable left-overs)
12  Sausage and Cheese Balls (3 is a serving).  Great for breakfast
9    Zucchini/Carrot Cakes for lunches or side dish with dinner
2    Pork Loins marinading and ready for a crock pot for Mexican Carnitas for two meals.
9    Homemade Butter Tortilla for the Carnitas
2    Flank Steak Pinwheels for 2 meals
1    Roasting Chicken seasoned and ready to bake
4    Cilantro Lime Chicken Breasts with homemade Salsa Verde
9    Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling (breakfast or dessert?)
12  Sausage, Cheese, and Onion muffins (more like little omelets)
2    Hash brown potatoes made on the waffle iron.  Yep.  I did it.

A list on the freezer door will make it much easier to see what I have and what I have used.

It really wasn't too bad!  I really think I will do it again, but I will customize my own menu.  I will use OAMM's strategies, though.  And now I have my feet up relaxing with the Rangers and Yankees.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My New Garden

When I was in California I fell in love with succulent gardens (I Find I Have a Thing For Succulents).  It has been on my list to make one, but I have had a difficult time finding a pot.  I needed something shallow, big, and red.  While in Houston this weekend visiting the folks, I found what I was looking for at a local nursery:  shallow, big (17" diameter), and red.  The people even drilled a hole for drainage on request.  Once I got it home I could not wait to get it planted.

The hole was 1" wide so I used a plastic fork to cover it a little.

A coffee filter over that would keep the dirt from falling through.

Then some rocks from the yard to provide a little more drainage.  Succulents don't like their roots in water.

 Then some dirt for cactus that will drain well.

Now the fun part; time to plant.  I bought two dish gardens to plant from.  It was far less expensive this way.

I used an old plastic serving spoon to gently lift the plants out of their pots.

Then I rearranged them into my larger, prettier dish.


It was impossible to keep the dirt off the leaves, so I used a small paintbrush to gently whisk it off.

A few handfuls of small rocks to help hold the plants and the dirt in place make it a done deal.

I love the size for the table.

The the color is perfect.

There is a little room for the plants to expand as they grow, but it does not look sparse.

I like.  I like. I like.

There were a few leaves that fell off while I was transplanting, but I stuck them in the dirt of one of the pots to make a little nursery.  If they grow, they grow.

I do wish I had bought another dish while I was in Houston to use underneath to catch water.  At the time I assumed I would water the garden over the sink so It would drain well, but failed to consider how heavy it would be between the pottery and rocks.  Next time I am back I will probably pick one up.  For now, I have a piece of foil with a paper napkin on top under the drain hole.  It will be fine for now.