Monday, July 30, 2007

Citrus Herb Marinade

Made this with chicken for dinner last night. It was VERY good. The herbs give it a citrusy taste, even though there's no actual citrus in it. Now I just have to write it down so I don't forget it!

olive oil
white wine vinegar
fresh pineapple sage leaves
fresh lemon balm leaves
fresh oregano leaves
minced garlic
dried minced onion (could have used fresh, I was being lazy).

Whirred in the blender until the herbs are well chopped. Pour over chicken, marinate 2 - 3 hours.

Next time I'm going to try adding a touch of dijon mustard, I think...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What's for dinner at your house?

We're having

- grilled, marinated chicken
- grilled potatoes with olive oil
- grilled green beans and onions
- tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella salad
- bread with roasted garlic and romano baked into it (thank you, New Seasons!)

Today's harvest

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Spent a little time in my garden today. Harvested yellow beans, green beans, pattypan squash, and tomatoes.

As you can see, our tomatoes have a little blossom end rot problem - I need to look into that. I did end up tying them up (some of the branches were down to the ground), but I'm pretty sure it's caused by something else, as the ones that ripened with the problem were up on the tomato cages.

I am amazed by our beans this year. Last week, I harvested nearly seven pounds off of both rows (we have a row of yellow and a row of green, and our rows are about five feet long). I'd say today I have about two more pounds in the bowl. The first harvest is in the freezer - these we'll be eating this week. There are plenty more still growing on the plants, too! I had to tie the plants up, though, as they were completely blocking the onions and the leeks.

The carrots are huge - I need to pull them up, too, and plant another row. I was hoping to finish the five-pound bag in the produce bin first, but since those are pretty much frozen (everything freezes in our produce bin!), I think I'm going to peel, slice and freeze those and use the ones out of the garden as fresh. That way I can get another round of seeds going for fall.

We ended up pulling out the monster artichoke plant (the artichokes were terribly disappointing), so I have one whole end free to do something with. I may plant some fall plants, we'll see.

Oh, and today I picked some herbs (pineapple sage, lemon balm, and oregano) out of the front beds and made a marinade with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and garlic. I'm going to grill it for dinner - we'll see how it tastes!

OMG! The internet crashed!

Hee hee!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to know your cat is not a bully...

When your cat comes home from the vet looking like this...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket know your cat is not a bully! According to the vet tech: the bullies get it on the top of their heads and their faces. The victims get it toward the rear as they're desperately trying to escape.

So yep, it's official, Puck is not a bully...

One morning late last week he came in and had trouble jumping. On Sunday I noticed a big old squishy lump on his side. We got him to the vet yesterday, and he had an abscess, as we suspected. They did a little minor surgery to put a drain in, and sent him on his not-so-merry way.

I don't know who has it worse - Puck, for not being able to go outside till the weekend, or us, for having to listen to him whine and cry because he doesn't like being stuck in the house (for those of you who don't know, trying to force Puck to stay in the house causes all kinds of lovely consequences, like him peeing on our pillow-top mattress out of spite).

Overall, he seems to be doing ok with it. Other than, of course, the part where we have to flush it out twice a day and force antibiotics down him. Fortunately, it's Wednesday, and we get to take him back in on Friday to have it removed... But the dogs haven't been too obnoxious, and we made him a nice cushy bed in the garage so we wouldn't have to listen to him cry all night about how he wanted to go outside. He even used the litter box for the first time in months!

He's going to look a little funny till that shaved patch on his side grows back in, but we're just glad he's going to be ok...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lentil Soup

I made this for lunch today. Yum, yum, yum!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups beef or vegetable broth
2/3 cups dry lentils, rinsed well
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add lentils and spices; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until lentils are soft. Add tomato sauce and salt and pepper, cook 10 minutes more.

Makes 3 generous servings.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The problem with being frugal...

Tomorrow the new Harry Potter book comes out. I am a big HP fan. Not the biggest, by far, but big. And I'm SO eager to read the last book and see how it all comes out (though I am extremely sad that it's the last book because I could probably keep reading about Harry for years to come).

So the book comes out tomorrow and what did I do? Bought it through Amazon and was too cheap to spring for shipping. Gah! This means I have to wait - last time it was something like four extra days.

BUT I WANT TO READ HARRY POTTER NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, well, live and learn...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Today's household tip

I read somewhere on one of my many forums that, if you plug in a night light and put a dish of soapy water under it, fleas will jump toward the light, fall into the water, and drown. The soap is apparently supposed to keep them from escaping somehow(?).

Well. Yesterday morning I sat down in my teeny-tiny hall bathroom and immediately had three fleas jump on my foot. This is, of course, NOT OK! So I decided last night I'd try my little experiment.

I had to rig up the night light because there are no outlets close to the floor in the bathroom, but I took a household extension cord (one of those short white ones), plugged it in to the outlet above the counter, ran it up through a towel bar, and then let it hang close to the floor. Plugged the night light into it, put a dish under it (about three inches deep, full of water with lots of soap), and closed the door.

This morning I went in and there were six fleas in the water! Voila! It worked! Too cool! Most of them were teeny-tiny, but there were a couple of big ones in there.

Nine fleas, just in my teeny-tiny bathroom. Wonder how many there are in the rest of the house? I shudder to think...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We caved...

We caved on Friday (at least I think it was Friday, I can't keep track of the days right now). And we're caving again tonight. But this is the part where, if you're going to eat out, you write it down so you know why. I think I have a good reason.

Leave it to me to get the flu in the middle of a heat wave. Really. I am SO talented. Hit me like a ton of bricks first thing Thursday morning, out of nowhere (I thought I was just getting a summer cold, not expecting a 100+ degree temperature), and there was no way I was cooking. I barely got my butt out of bed to check my email (had to check in on a couple of work-related matters). Thursday night, hubby ate cottage cheese and peaches for dinner. Friday night we got Burger King. Saturday, I have no idea what we ate, but I'm sure we ate something. Tonight we're getting KFC because I need some protein (I've eaten mostly bread and bananas for four days) and mashed potatoes sound especially appealing to me right now, even though it's 88 degrees outside!

Hopefully I'll be over this soon and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled home cooking...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A new challenge

After reading this article, I was inspired. Eating out is one of our biggest budget challenges (well, that and my tendency to grocery shop compulsively). So I talked to hubby about it. Today marks the beginning of a new budget month for us, and we're going to give it a shot.

Our rules are simple: we will not have an eating out budget (if I'm going to Starbucks it's coming out of my allowance!), and we can buy anything we want at the grocery store. I also like her philosophy that, if you find you NEED to eat out for some reason, you write it down and look at the situation, to try to change it in the future.

So I made up a list of a month's worth of meals that I can make, including some quick and easy stuff for nights when I'm tired, and some more cooking-intensive items for weekends when I really feel like doing it right.

So here are 31, whether or not we eat them all:

1. tacos (chances are we'll have this at least twice)
2. tamale pie
3. salsa chicken
4. balsamic chicken
5. buttermilk chicken
6. grilled pork chops
7. roasted cornish game hens
8. grilled salmon
9. teriyaki chicken
10. grilled cheese and soup
11. spaghetti
12. beefy tomato skillet
13. oven fried chicken strips
14. fish sticks and frozen fries
15. turkey burgers
16. hamburgers
17. chicken and black beans
18. pork tacos
19. stuffed peppers
20. blackened chicken salad
21. jambalaya
22. chili
23. tandoori chicken
24. rotisserie pork loin
25. kielbasa and cabbage
26. enchiladas
27. fried rice (pork or chicken)
28. Spanish rice cassserole
29. BBQ chicken pizza
30. stroganoff
31. chili dogs

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Busy Saturday...

Stayed out too late last night, though I had a ton of fun, and today I feel like I have a hangover even though I didn't have a drop to drink. Egads I'm getting old!

In spite of that, we're having a busy day today. Hubby got up and cleaned the kitchen. I got up and cruised my forums for a bit, where I discovered that is having a huge toy sale at the moment. So I spent half an hour shopping, and ended up getting six Christmas gifts and four birthday gifts for the little nieces and nephews for $60, with free shipping. My budget for all of these gifts combined was $150, so I'm pretty pleased with that!

After breakfast we went to Fred Meyer to buy boxes for storing our camping equipment in the shed (needed to keep rodents and bugs out). Also got some catnip for the herb garden (Puck's going to love that!). Came home and got the camping equipment out into the shed. Then I cleaned the area rugs that have been in storage for about two years (I forgot all about them!). So now the dogs will have something to lay on in the living room once again...

This afternoon we're going to Home Depot to buy some more stuff for the landscaping project. After that, who knows...

Dinner tonight will be something on the grill (hopefully pork chops if I'm remembering correctly that we have some!), because it's too hot to cook inside!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Beefy tomato skillet dinner

Swiped (and heartily tweaked) from a Campbell's Soup cookbook (love that cookbook!). Makes 4 servings.

1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 can tomato soup
1 cup beef broth (or the equivalent in water/bullion mixed)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small can sliced olives
1 cup sliced zucchini
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups (dry) twisty noodles
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and garlic*. Drain fat. Stir in all remaining ingredients, except noodles and cheese. Bring to a boil. Stir in noodles. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until noodles are cooked. Stir in cheese, cook and stir till melted. Let stand five minutes before serving.

*note: ground beef cooked with onions and garlic is one of the things that I prep up ahead of time and keep in the freezer. Just makes dinners go that much faster. I also keep peeled, diced tomatoes (from my garden) in the freezer - they taste so much better than canned!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Landscaping Update

Well, it's been a little while since we've been able to work on it, but the herb garden is finally in! Yay! Here's a picture:

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It's not full of plants yet, but here's what I have so far (clockwise, from the front):

Bed 1: Parsley, stevia, bay laurel, lavendar, and chives (this is one of my "miscellaneous" beds).

Bed 2: Lemon balm and lemon thyme (this is the "lemon" bed - I want some lemon verbena and then I have to see what else I can come up with that will fit).

Bed 3: Apple mint and peppermint (this is the mint bed - there are a couple of others I want to get).

Bed 4: Marjoram, cilantro, and pineapple sage (another "miscellaneous" bed).

Bed 5: Basil, oregano, rosemary, sage (this is the "Italian" bed).

I'm still collecting plants, and I'll probably fill in with some annual flowers because I know eventually the herbs will fill the beds, but it'll take a year or two.

Also, we put the capstones on the wall, and we started ripping out the sod. It's a giant pain in the patootie, though, so we're going to rent a sod cutter to finish it.

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That's about it for now. We're plugging along, slowly but surely. Some of the neighbors stopped by while we were working to tell us how nice a job we're doing and how it's going to look great when we're done. I'm glad they understand that we're working on it, because it looks pretty darn bad!!!