Category Archives: Food

Recipe Sharing: Lemon Herb Dressing

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A brief intermission to share with you my new favorite dressing/vegetable topping…
I recently made this delicious Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde from Smitten Kitchen. I adapted the sauce/dressing because a) I HATE parsley with a passion and b) have tons of basil out on my deck. I made some other tweaks and very much enjoyed the leftovers on salads for the next couple weeks. Here’s my version in case you would like to make your own. I’ve been having it on fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or grilled veggies. Enjoy!

Lemon Herb Dressing
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4-1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (or more to your liking)
2 T. capers, drained (these could probably be left out, but you may want more salt or to substitute kalamata olives instead)
juice of one lemon
1/2 c. olive oil

Put all ingredients except olive oil in food processor (or blender). With machine running, drizzle in olive oil until you get the consistency you desire. Store at room temperature in airtight container for up to two weeks. Alternatively, you can make larger batches and pour in large freezer bag and lay flat in freezer until frozen. Break off and thaw portion you would like to use as desired.

Wednesday Musings

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  • We’re moving this weekend. In theory, I’m ready – or we’re ready, I should say, though my husband will gladly tell you I have done 98% the packing while he makes sure the rest of our house runs as it should in the meantime. I kind of like packing and do not trust him to not just put things randomly in a box and call it good. That kind of packing is only allowed the day before the move when you resort to just throwing all things left out into boxes and taping them shut. This is also when you abandon labeling boxes so you end up with 20 boxes that you have to search through for that Very Important thing that you had to wait until the last minute to pack (in our case it will be Vegamite, toothbrushes and/or power cords for the Kindle/iPad).
  • I made a Facebook event out of our move so maybe it won’t seem like we are asking too much of our friends because it’s: FUN and we will feed you and give you drinks of whatever variety you would like. Win-win, right? Unless you pull a muscle lifting a box, in which case, I can give you an Advil Liqui-Gel, a heating pad and my sincere apologies.
  • Swim lessons went fabulously last week – both boys learned to swim and swam the required distances across the pool after either jumping in or being tossed in by their beloved mother. This week’s lessons have not gone as fabulously… well, for 50% of my children. Jack happily does whatever Miss Julie asks of him and hasn’t once protested or cried this week; Liam is another story. He has suddenly developed a FEAR of the deep end and whenever he is taken there to swim because he will NOT stop touching in the shallow when he is not supposed to, he FREAKS out. It is not pretty. And it makes no sense because he is actually quite a good swimmer and can swim across the pool, no problem. It’s all in his head and it’s like a switch gets flipped and he WILL NOT be reasoned with. I am at a loss. Tonight is the last night, I’m hopeful he will remain calm as he did finish up well last night and without a total freak out for three laps across the pool.
  • I made these Nutella Mocha No-Bake Cookies as first recommended by my friend, Keri… they are awesome and you should make them. The End. Recipe at the end of the post.
  • We had a family reunion last weekend – it was quite a lot of fun to catch up with people I don’t see often and also makes me sad I didn’t grow up along with my cousins being that the closest in age cousin to me is still 9 years older. Ever the baby of the family. Alas. But at least I can hang out with them now that we are all adults and hopefully we will make the reunion an annual or bi-annual thing! I’m totally up for hosting next time – though we might elect Bill and Paula every time because they were pretty awesome hosts!

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  • Because we will be getting rid of our DVR next week, I have let the children record whatever shows they would like in the past couple weeks. So now we have 15 episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and at least a dozen of Kung-Fu Panda Legends of Awesome and Monsters vs. Aliens. [Spell check offered “Lung-Fu” as an alternative option for Kung-Fu up there – really?]
  • Sandy’s little baby L has finally warmed up to me and will let me hold her without crying. This does wonders for my confidence since last week I made her cry the big tears after I looked at her. She probably knows I am the mother of boys.
  • I wish bandages solved all the worlds problems like they do for my kids. Jack will demand a bandage for a nearly invisible ouchie he has been crying over for a large amount of time and when I give it to him he is suddenly “all better.”
  • We also close on our current house tomorrow, which will be awesome to no longer own two homes. Sadly we didn’t close on it sooner because yesterday Simon tossed a bread knife in our sink and it poked a hole in it so today we had to put in a brand new sink. Awesome.
  • I feel I shouldn’t put this here, but I have a wrinkle on the outside surface of my eyeball (yes, even imagining that makes me squeamish and it’s MY eye) that I’m just ignoring until after the move. It feels like I have an eyelash in my eye but does not seem to be affecting my vision. And yes, I will get it checked out but I cannot be wearing glasses right now since I have not actually worn glasses since freshman year of college and that one time I did, I fell down some stairs because my depth perception was WAY off. Does anyone else ignore health issues because they don’t want to deal with them at the moment? I know I’m not alone on that one.
  • And happiest of birthdays to my sister-in-law, Joan! I think she’s pretty awesome! May you all be so lucky to have a relative like her!

Nutella Mocha No-Bake Cookies
In double boiler, melt: 1/2 c. butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp instant coffee granules (I used 5 packets of Starbucks VIA instant coffee)
Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of Nutella until melted. Stir in 3-4 cups of quick oats (original recipe called for 3 cups, I used 4 because mine seemed too runny and I also used Old-Fashioned Oats, use your judgement). Scoop onto wax paper and cool in fridge.

Thursday Randoms

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Like every other person in the world, we’ve been busy. That’s what happens at the end of the school year, when you work full time and also are packing up your house to move the first week in July. Throw in a round of IBS flare up and/or the stomach flu, camping one weekend and a family reunion and even the most prepared person might not find time to blog. But my fans are clamoring (read: my dad) for an update.

Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to since last we met:

  • Watching The Voice… it’s pretty much the only new television I’ve been keeping up with this summer, though I also enjoy Rookie Blue when my husband doesn’t delete it from the DVR before I can watch it… we’ve also been cleaning off all the saved items on our DVR since we will be sending it back when we move. We watched 50/50 two weekends ago – pretty good movie. Genuinely funny, though still with Seth Rogan so at times inappropriate. We also rented Pitch Perfect last weekend and I really enjoyed it despite the two unnecessary puking scenes, but I love a musical (aside from Les Mis, which was not my favorite despite how much everyone loves it). We also went to see “Fast & Furious 6” for date night recently – it was even my pick because along with musicals and movies with dancing in them, I also love a mindless movie with fast cars (and Paul Walker).
  • We found a restaurant in town that actually makes its own tamales and tortillas – delicious. It is tiny and more suited for take out, but it is worth checking out. La Huasteca on Plainfield.
  • We closed on our new house – I don’t think I actually mentioned that here… we also ended up buying all the furniture from the list in my last post that weekend (thanks to an awesome warehouse sale at a local furniture store) so in the span of a few days we spent a whole lot of money with virtually nothing to show for it at this point since we don’t get possession of the house until the 30th and our furniture isn’t delivered until the first week in July. Here’s hoping it actually comes then or else the living room, kitchen and dining room are going to be quite empty. [Also, we are leaving the clawfoot tub, at our buyers request so I don’t have to fret about that.]
  • We’ve had some fun play dates with sweet friends – I feel so blessed by the people in our lives – my friends and my children’s friends.
  • Liam wrapped up first grade – which officially means we have a second grader (yipes) – and got a little verklempt on the last day of school when we pulled out of the parking lot. (I admit that it choked me up a little but then I remembered that it was the last time I’d be doing daily school drop off and pick up and I was happy once again – the bus stop for Liam’s new school is literally at the end of our driveway).
  • I signed up for the summer round of Biggest Blogging Loser – last time I came in third (though we were on vacation and my last email weigh-in never got sent so that’s according to my calculations and nothing official) and there is no glory (or money) for third place so I’m doing it again! Wish me luck!
  • The boys had their 6-month check at the dentist and BOTH of them had cavities. Sigh. We are admittedly a little lax lately in the toothbrushing department and apparently it DOES make a difference (yes – I really do know this, but sometimes things fall through the cracks). So we go back in another couple weeks for fillings. The dentist recommended that we get nitrous for Jack since during the cleaning and check up it was all she could do to get him to stay in the chair. I booked them for a morning appointment, thinking it would be a perfect thing for Simon to take them to but then realized I wasn’t about to miss the hilarity that was sure to ensue with Jack in nitrous oxide so I think we’ll make it a family affair. Winsies for everyone.
  • I had a perfect check up. Go me. At least one of us is good with their dental hygiene (Simon also had a cavity at his last check up).
  • The boys start swim lessons next week… like the intense, teach them to swim in four days kind of swim lessons. I cannot wait!
  • I received the following mis-directed texts this week which cracked me up:
    • Text #1: That ugly [derogatory term we don’t use here, but made it clear they weren’t referring to my Australian husband] you with doesn’t deserve you. He be cheating with some b!tch. I tell you cause you some sweet girl and deserve a [same lovely term] that will treat you good.
    • Text #2: He was pulling out of a hotel with some girl last Tuesday.
  • Firstly, what a lovely sentiment and text to receive from a “friend.” Second, the sender waited an entire week to send this tidbit of information, clearly they weren’t overly concerned. Hope it all works out because I never responded to tell them that they sent the texts to the wrong number.
  • I cooked nearly 4 pounds of bacon last night and you would have thought George would have been at my side, begging for every little morsel I might throw him, but there was also a thunder storm going on so my sad little dog was cowering upstairs, too afraid to venture down the stairs even for some bacon.
  • Speaking of bacon, it is delicious.
  • Liam had a play date with my coworker’s son last week to reacquaint them since they will be at daycare together one day a week this summer and she texted me about how talkative he is… and it is 100% true, the kid can (and will) talk to anyone, about anything, for as long as you will listen.
  • And then there is Jack who just never stops moving and does everything with the greatest intensity he can muster (which is great).
  • Re. above two bullets: my children are exhausting.
  • I’ve also been playing a wee bit of Candy Crush Saga and Words with Friends (read: every evening, until my eyelids can no longer stay open). I have a problem and I’m okay with that.
  • We are going camping this week (like for real, in a tent and not in someone’s backyard) (i.e., reason for the bacon cooking above). In theory, we are all looking forward to this weekend. The boys have no idea what to expect and I know they will love it. I grew up camping (be it in a pop-up camper) and also love it, but I never had to do all the prep work for those trips and lo, it is a lot of work. But the memories, it will be worth it!
  • I feel like there were many other funny stories to share about the boys… but this is what happens when I take two weeks to blog, I forget things. Sorry, dad.
  • My Nespresso maker came and I am dying to use it, but I am saving it for the new house. It is adorable though and it’s going to make yummy coffee…
  • Making this today, per Heidi’s recommendation: Blueberry Boy Bait. Also made these Party Pretzels and Get Thee Behind Me Satan Snack mix (recipe below) for camping

“Get Thee Behind Me, Satan” Sweet Snack Mix
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup lite corn syrup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
melt all in sauce pan, boil 2 minutes
In large bowl mix together 18oz box of crispix cereal (can also use corn or rice chex), 3+ cups mini pretzels (optional, replace 1 cup pretzels with peanuts). Pour syrup over all and mix well. Put into large greased roasting pan (or two 9×13 pans). Bake @ 250 for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 min. Dump out on wax paper or foil to cool (slightly) then add M&M’s (optional). Eat until you can’t stand yourself!! Store in airtight container.

Bad photos of food – stuff we ate in Texas

I commented to a couple people that it was sad how forward I was looking to our trip for the food we would be having. Don’t get me wrong, I would go to someplace were very boring food just so I could see my family, but the fact that they live someplace with my favorite foods, well, that’s a double bonus. Add to that, the fact that I had been doing the blogging weight loss competition since the beginning of the year, let’s just say it was time for some yummy food and vacation is not a time for dieting (though we did a very good job exercising the first week – the second week, not so very much – bygones). So bring it on – we were going to enjoy ourselves.

Keep in mind, food blogger I am not and most of the time were so happy to be eating it would be mid-meal before I thought to take a picture so many of these things you will just have to imagine and trust that they were indeed delicious. (I apologize in advance to Heidi for this show of gluttony in one of her most favorite places in the world – I love you, friend, but it must be done).

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Our first night in Corpus called for a visit to Silverados, hands down my very favorite BBQ place EVER (of course, I haven’t been to very many, but this place is so good, we went twice in the five days we were there). I had brisket, chopped BBQ and smoked sausage with mashed potatoes and corn fritters. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Liam ate a quarter-pound of smoked turkey and put away two cornbread muffins. Jack ate Lays potato chips and apple sauce.

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Our second trip to Silverados I had chopped BBQ and pork ribs and thought I would be virtuous and get a side salad with my mashed potatoes (only because corn fritters weren’t in the menu that night). Wouldn’t you know the only thing I didn’t eat was my salad. Sorry salad.

Not pictured from Corpus:

  • Hot tortillas, fresh made by an adorable little Asian lady at the HEB
  • Lunch at Jason’s Deli – wish we had one up here in Michigan (I ordered the same thing I got two years ago: 1/4 Muffaletta and cup of french onion soup)
  • Dinner and Snoopy’s (fish tacos and homemade hushpuppies)
  • Breakfast at Andy’s Country Kitchen (hot blueberry muffins and eggs Benedict; so good my parents went there again less than a week later the morning they left Corpus for Houston)

Then we were off to Houston to stay with my brother and his family the rest of the trip, stopping at the infamous Buc-ees on our way for snacks and Buc-ee Nuggets.

Dinner that night was a shrimp boil – and I peeled and de-legged all my own shrimp all by myself (I can’t think about it too much, but I can do it). The boys, of course, had chicken nuggets.

I’m realizing that the bulk of what we ate in Houston was not captured on film, but it is worth mentioning two places that we went on Saturday night with Marty and Lynn: Leon’s Lounge and Onion Creek. If ever you are in Houston, check them out.

Leon’s Lounge is “Houston’s Oldest Bar” and has every ounce of character you’d imagine that comes with. Plus they make killer cocktails. I enjoyed the fanciest Bloody Mary I’ve ever had, garnished with (among other things) a slice of sausage and a pickled okra, and a Whiskey Smash (Maker’s Mark, mint and a splash of lemon).

Onion Creek is a place we went last time we were in Houston and I could go there weekly – it’s got a huge outdoor seating area, sandwiches, burgers and pizza – lowkey but still feels hip and happening (which is ideal when the youngest in our group was nearing 35).

We also had breakfast that morning at the place Simon dreams about – Taqueria Arandas – for breakfast tacos with chorizo. The only downside to that breakfast is that you are full ALL day, which is a problem when you want to eat more yummy food at some point, which is why we didn’t eat dinner until nearly 9 that night.

When my parents came into town, we happily ditched our kids with them for the day and headed down to Galveston for the day. I did a quick online search and found a Houston Chronicle article listing the 10 best restaurants in Galveston and picked the one that didn’t serve seafood, BBQ or Mexican: Mosquito Cafe. Best decision ever of the day. These photos do not even do the food 5% justice, but they are all I have, aside from a picture of an empty plate where our devoured Lemon Dream Cake had been sitting.

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Shown above: my Turkey Divinity (oven roasted turkey with melted brie, hickory smoked peppered bacon, grilled apples, red leaf lettuce and garlic-herb mayo on a french baguette)

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Simon’s lunch: Salmon Club (fresh grilled salmon filet with hickory smoked peppered bacon, balsamic onions, red leaf lettuce on toasted wheat bread and chipotle sauce on the side)

Since we were going big or going home, we decided to stop at Pappasito’s on our way home – Simon’s first time there. Let’s just say we ended up taking more food home than we were able to eat – though we gave it a valiant effort. Below is the worst picture ever of our queso, but lo was it good. And they set it on fire tableside so it was also fancy.

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And we can thank my brother and SIL for introducing us to Pimm’s Cups. Look what I was able to find in Michigan, imported all the way from the U.K. so we can make our own cocktails! [Honorable mention: Saint Arnold’s Santo beer]

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So that was how we ate our way through Texas, along with some stops at Chick Fil A and Sonic. Liam and Jack were happy as long as they had burgers (Liam), chicken nuggets (Jack) or fries (both). Next time we will work on broadening their horizons.

Recipe Sharing: Guilt-Free Chicken Chili

Shout out to my favorite spam comment of the week on this recipe post for Thai Curried Lentil Vegetable Stew: “There is noticeably a bundle to understand about this. I assume you created certain nice points in functions also.” (submitted by: michaelkorsbagdiscount.com – totally really site, I’m sure – P.S., not really, do not visit it). Yes, I am quite certain I made some nice points and that there is a bundle to understand about that RECIPE.

Perhaps this new recipe can enticewpid-IMAG0708-1.jpg another great spam comment. Here’s hoping. Because then I will have funnies to share with you guys and that makes my day happier. I am an easy person to please.

Disclaimer: I have another favorite creamy chicken chili recipe from my friend, Keri, but it’s not nearly as guiltfree though it is equally as delicious, so delicious I once made the recipe for her when she was coming over for dinner.

I made this new recipe for myself last week for lunches and again for small group last night – both times delicious and oh-so-easy (unless you are my husband who does not like beans, in which case, you are out of luck – well, to the extent that you don’t get to eat this chili but your loving wife will also make you creamy potato soup [from a mix]).

Guilt-Free Chicken Chili

  • 2 (ish) cups shredded chicken (I boiled two chicken breasts the first time and the second time I used the meat from a rotisserie chicken)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 cans great northern beans, undrained
  • 2 cups corn (I used frozen corn that my friends’ MIL “put up” last summer, but any corn will do – though I think white is best)
  • 1 packet white chicken chili seasoning mix (or, for gluten free: 1 packet McCormick taco seasoning + 1 Tbs. garlic salt and 1.5 tsp. cumin)
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce or 1 cup salsa verde (The first time I used this Frontera enchilada sauce from Target, the second time I used this Frontera simmer sauce from Meijer, plus some additional green salsa to taste)
  • Optional: Large handful of chopped fresh cilantro for the last bit of cooking

Throw all ingredients in large pot on stove and bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes (or put in slow cooker on high for 3 hours). You can cook it longer, it will just get thicker as it cooks but it won’t hurt it, plus your house will smell divine. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa verde and/or sliced avocado.

To go with the chili, I made these Brazilian Cheese Rolls – so yummy and gluten free if you are looking for recipes along those lines.

On a food-related note, for President’s Day, Liam had homework that had him write down what question he would ask the president if he could. His question: What is your favorite food? His imagined answer: vanilla ice cream. So there you go.