Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Trick Pony

I feel like a two trick pony. I have two dishes that I can pull out and "wow" folks with. I need more. Now I can make good, basic, classic dishes, but meatloaf, although good, is far from "impressive".
When I want to "wow" I either bust out the General Tso's Chicken or my Beef and Chicken Satay. Both dishes look impressive and all fancy, and they could not be easier (I'm all about easy)
I need more dishes that can feed a crowd and look good doing it. Do you have a "wow" dish standby?? If you do, can you share it with me? Pretty please??
Extra bonus points if it a dish that won't break the bank.
Moving out of the kitchen...(at least for a while)

Today is SUNNY!!!! It is a spring tease kind of day. The kids are at BaChan's house so it is just Joj and I and I'm so temped to fight the crowds at Home Depot. I'm thinking the "dead" theme I have on my front porch isn't workin' for me anymore. I have some spring bulbs that I'm forcing (aka didn't get into the ground in time) in the garage that I would like to get into some pots and of course the obligatory pansies. I love the sun. When I was in college at CWU it was always sunny. Even in the winter. Blue skies everyday. If Boeing ever opens an office in Eburg, I'm so there. Blue skies and supermother burgers at the TAV, pure heaven.

One last note, before I'm off to be productive (in theory) The key lime pie I posted yesterday had some drawbacks. While the taste was good, the crust was not. I would suggest using a different crust recipe. This one was dry and not sweet enough. This surprised me since I doubled the sugar and butter it called for. Hmmmmm.
Anyway, I hope it is sunny where you are.
:0) Laurie

Friday, January 30, 2009

Key Lime Pie Y'all

So it is DND night and Joj wanted me to make something. We were flipping through the channels and saw Ms. Paula Deen making some Key Lime Pie. Joj decided he wanted me to make some.
Okay, I've never made it before, but the recipe looked easy enough. Can I just say that this is not a pie I think I would like. For starters, the filling has just 3 ingredients: Sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and egg yolk. That seems a little strange to me. I made Joj taste the filling and he said it was good. Is it just me or does that seem really rich? Anyway, if you like this kind of pie, here is the recipe. It took me about 15 minutes to whip up, plus and extra 10 minutes to brown the meringue.

Bubba's Key Lime Pie
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key lime juice
2 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup almonds, slivered

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, combine ingredients and pat down into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon zest; blend in the egg yolks. Pour the filling into the crust.

For the meringue, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and 1 teaspoon zest until the mixture is stiff. Spread the meringue over the filling; spread it to touch the edge of the crust all around. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minute, or until the meringue is golden brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings, depending on size of slices
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Word on the street is that my sister-in-law has an even better recipe that includes sour cream. I might just have to make that for the superbowl and let you know how it turns out.
Happy Saturday Y'all :0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Seriously? The women in this video are actually having this conversation.
Now I love a good pantry, but seriously? Vignettes? Seriously?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Easy Peasy Penne Carbonara

So I made this a couple of weeks ago for Joj and his friends. It was really good and the best part it was SUPER easy. Now for those who have been reading the blog for a while (hello to all 5 of you) you know I'm all about easy. This dish easily fits into that category and as an extra bonus, it can most likely be pulled out of the pantry. Combined with about 20 minutes of work, this is a perfect midweek dindin. Another plus, and maybe it is just me, but I love leftover pasta for breakfast and this seems to make a ton so there should be leftovers.

Easy Peasy Penne Carbonara
4 slices of bacon cut up
a couple cloves of garlic minced
some chopped onion (I would say 1/2 to a whole small yellow)
1 box (1 lb) of penne pasta (I used the whole grain stuff and it tastes fine, but it is definitely more filling)
1/4 cream (you could probably use milk, but I haven't tried it)
2 egg yolks
1/2 C Parmesan
While the pasta cooks, cook bacon and don't drain the fat (if you want, you can drain off a little, but not all)
Saute the garlic and onions. If you want to add a couple hand full of chopped mushrooms and olives now would be the time to add them.
Remove sauteed stuff and set aside.
In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and cream together really well.
Once the pasta is drained return to cooking pot and pour remaining bacon fat in and toss.
While the pasta is still hot, pour the egg mixture in and mix well. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg.
Add the bacon and other sauteed stuff and toss again.
Lastly, pour in the cheese and give it one last stir.
Plate the pasta and sprinkle a little more parm on top and some black pepper.
This makes enough for 8 decent "sides" or 4 decent "mains".
Now this isn't a super rich and gooey sauce, so you feel free to add some additional cheese if needed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cutie Pies

Sammie made her first Lemon Meringue Pie yesterday. She was thrilled and has enjoyed serving up slices to the family.
I am loving the size of this little pie. I have a few of these fiesta fruit bowls and I think they make the perfect sized mini pie. I might just have to experiment with these.
I hope everyone is enjoying a nice relaxing Saturday evening.
I sure am :0)

Friday, January 23, 2009

National Pie Day

Today is National Pie Day.
In honor of this, I will be making two pies for Joj's poker buddies to enjoy this evening. I used to be afraid of pie making, but my dear friend Megan shared the bestest, most foolproofest crust recipe and now I can make pie in my sleep.
I know I have posted these before, but they are worth a second look. If you have some time today (and for the pecan pie it is less than 15 minutes of prep, seriously) try your hand at some home baked pie. Your family and friends will think you are a pastry rock star.
So put on a frilly apron and a string of pearls and start baking. If you need more inspiration hop on over to Warm Pie, Happy Home and check out what RuthAnn has in the oven. I'm sure it is to die for.
Happy Friday Everyone!!

Never Fail Pie Crust
1 1/2 C shortening (I use butter flavor crisco)
3 C flour
1 t salt
Pulse in Cuisinart until size of small peas
In a small bowl mix
1 large egg well beaten
1 T vinegar
5 T ice water
Add to flour mixture and pulse until a ball forms. This is enough for one 9" 2 crust pie or 2 single crust pies.I usually roll it between to sheets of waxpaper. Much easier to handle and much less mess

Perfect Pecan Pie
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C dark brown sugar (you could use light)
1 C light Karo Syrup
1/3 C melted butter
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 C pecans (I usually only chop 3/4 C and use the rest to decorate the top
1 9" unbaked deep dish pie crust
Preheat oven to 350
mix butter, sugar, vanilla and syrup
when cooled add eggs and mix well
add chopped nuts and pour into shell
place unchopped whole nuts on top in pretty design
bake 50-55 minutes
let stand a few hours to completely cool and set up
Serve with whipped cream or the stuff from the can we call "SHHHHHHHHH"

Best Ever Lemon Pie [Source: Ann Landers]
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
1-1/4 cups sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1-1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp vinegar
3 Tbsp butter
Mix sugar and cornstarch together in the top of a double broiler. Add the two cups of water
Combine egg yolks with lemon juice and beat until well mixed
Add to the rest of the sugar mixture
Cook over boiling water until thick, about 25 minutes. This does away with the starchy taste
Now, add the lemon extract, butter and vinegar, and stir thoroughly.
Pour mixture into deep 9-inch pie shell and let cool
Cover with meringue (recipe follows), and brown in oven
Never-Fail MeringueIngredients:
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
3 egg whites
6 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Blend cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan
Add boiling water and cook, stirring until clear and thickened
Let stand until completely cold
With electric beater at high speed, beat egg whites until foamy
Gradually add sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry
Turn mixer to low speed; add salt and vanilla
Gradually beat in cold cornstarch mixture
Turn mixer again to high again, and beat well
Spread meringue over cooled pie filling
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until top is lightly browned

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jury Duty

Today, after 3 days of trying to find enough potential jurors and sitting through hours of questioning, I was excused from the jury pool. Can't say I'm sad. It was one of those cases you knew was not going to be pleasant.

It was probably a good thing I was excused, the prosecutor reminded me of Dr. Johnny Fever. Apparently I wasn't the only one. When asked if any potential jurors had issues with his appearance, an older woman raiser her hand and said, "you look like someone who enjoys marijuana".

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

If you can't say something nice...

If you are going to call someone out, have the decency to say it to their face. You see on blogs all the time how folks will leave a mean comment and hide behind "anonymous". This is really sad.
Over the past few months my community has been involved in a couple of delicate situations regarding teachers. In both cases, venomous statements were made by people unwilling to stand up publicly. How can they sleep at night?
Sure, you may feel like you want to lash out, but is that really the best approach? By actually owning what you say, you are forced to think about what you want to say, how you want to say it and determine if the consequences of saying it are really worth it.
I recently was sent an email that was sent to friends of mine regarding the school in which my children used to attend. The sender created an account just to send this email so no one would know who they were. The email was full of misinformation and heresy, not to mention flat our mean. I went through about 4 drafts in response to the "whistle blower" email, but since I was going to sign my name, I wanted to make sure my message was clear and respectful. With each draft, the tone softened. I have to say that I was pretty proud of my final draft. The real kicker was when I sent it, the email came back due to the email being disabled. How do you like that? They could obviously dish it out, but couldn't take it. Truly sad.
In a world of faceless communication, I think it is more important than ever to be advocates of manners and compassion. Just because you can say whatever you want doesn't always mean you should. If you say it, own it. Geesh.
That's Laurie's Lesson for today. I'm off for some jury duty.
Happy Humpday :0)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The boys are coming...

Every few weeks or so Joj has his friends over for a little male bonding. I really enjoy playing hostess for a few reasons.
First, it makes me clean my house. Now I know this is on wife/mom to do list anyway, but company forces me to kick it up a notch (even though they are guys and won't notice) Secondly, they will eat anything. It used to be that most of the guys were single and a home cooked meal was a treat. Now most of the guys are married, but they are still so appreciative it makes me want to pull out all the stops. Last, but certainly not least, is the fact that the every now and then one of my favorite wives will tag along and I can get in some really good girl talk.
Now, the boys have their favorites and I'm sure I could just rotate through them, but I like to try new recipes every now and then. Over the holidays we went to our friends' house for some pasta carbonara and it was too die for. Ever since I have been seriously jonesing for some more. I found a recipe for penne carbonara and it looks good and more importantly, easy. I think I'm feeding about 15 folks tonight so that is a lot of pasta. I'm also going to make a salad and garlic bread. My friend Jess is bringing something for dessert, which is great because all her stuff is super yummy. It is going to be a fun night. I just need to clean, shop, prep and cook. Oh I'm also watching Lily today so I will have a helper. A very busy day for sure, but it is the good kind busy.
Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Solar Powered

Today the sun is out and gorgeous. It is a rare day in the PNW that we get such a day in the middle of January. I truly think my life would be so much more productive if I could wake up to sunshine like this every morning. I've decided to play hookie from my testing duties and just stay home and focus on the house. It is so pretty today, I might even wash the windows (who is this person typing??)
Seriously though, I love days like today. When the morning fog burns off I will be able to see Mt. Rainier out my bedroom window and the Olympics out of the kids windows. The white snow against the baby blue sky is so amazing.
It is the kind of day I might actually work out in the yard. It is still a little cold, but you never know. The recent snow killed a bunch of stuff in the pots on my front steps, so I should probably clean those out. Nothing says "welcome to my home" better than pots full of dead stuff :0)
Well, Joj just called and when he asked what I was doing I told him I was blogging about how productive I was going to be today. He started laughing. So on that note, I'm off to select some festive house cleaning music. My recent adventures with Facebook have left me very nostalgic so I'm sure my selection will be something very 80's. I heard Tenderness by General Public the other day on the radio and I swear my car began to smell of Polo cologne. Good times...
Happy Humpday everyone, hope it is a good one :0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Target: A love/hate relationship

I used to love Target. My mom and I would always go there on the weekends and browse for hours. We would usually find some great deal and it was a lot of fun. That is no longer the case...

We have a "new" Target that is now part of our local and dying mall. The parking is a mess and I can never find anything and it is ALWAYS crowded. I'm sure it is basically the same as the old target stuff wise, but the layout is soo bad. It is actually stressful to shop there because you feel like you are in a rat maze. However, I do like there little "dollar" section. They do have the cutest things.

This Saturday, Sam's friend is having a birthday. Instead of the bday girl getting a bunch of presents she doesn't need her mom decided to have a gift exchange instead. I think this is a great idea. Since I was at Target the other day I thought I would pick up my gift. Sam isn't really into all the latest and greatest girl toys, so I was kind of stumped as to what to get. Target has a bunch of Valentine's Day cooking stuff so I thought I would do a cooking themed gift. I think everything is cute and I will throw in some cookie mix as well. So for less than 20 bucks I got the following: apron, matching pot holders, sprinkles, silicon baking mat, measuring spoons and cups, spatulas, doilies and tea towels.
I will probably go back and pick up some more stuff. Sam wants to have a Valentine Tea party and this stuff would be perfect for that.

I'm subbing again today and I gotta say, the mornings are tough. I don't see how working moms do it. Every time I sub I end up "talking very loudly" to my kids to get it in gear. I'm sure if this was our daily routine it wouldn't be such a battle, but it still isn't the nicest way to start the day. The upside to subbing of course is the little (and I do mean little) paycheck at the end of the month. I have to start squirreling some money away because in a couple of months, I'm heading back down to AZ for Jenny P's 40th bday. We are planning a repeat of nothing but sun, wine and girl talk by the pool. I can't wait.
Happy Tuesday everyone :0)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stormy Weather

Today is the first day this week it hasn't poured. I'm talking build an ark rain. I know I live in a wet place, but sometimes the rain is just a little too much to take. It can be soo depressing. I had to work yesterday and I would just get soaked running from my car to the school (did I mention the ocean sized puddles that I had to cross in my clogs?? not fun) Now I'm a true Washingtonian and never carry an umbrella. Around here they are more trouble than they are worth especially when I'm testing and don't really have a place to put my stuff. The last thing I want is a soggy umbrella I have to carry around. Bottom line, I'm so over the rain.
Thankfully, today has a little bit of sunshine. I will be able to get out and run some errands. I'm watching Lily today which is always great. She is 2 and I get my "little kid" fix. She is great. She is talking so much now. Boy time flies. I can barely remember Sammie at this age. Another benefit of watching Lily is that I have to be a little more focused on what is going on. Spending hours on line blog hopping really isn't an option when she is around. I even find I clean more when she is around so that is another bonus. Well, Lily is here so I gotta get going. I hope every one's day is nice and productive. I'm hoping mine is :0)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Thrifty Finds in '09

So we have been really enjoying the sloth mentality around here lately. I can't believe that school is back in on Monday. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It will be nice to have the house a little more quiet and I can continue to purge the house without "help", but then again it will be just me kicking around. I do have to say that as always the new year inspires me to want a fresh start. Our winters here are SO VERY GRAY that I'm really feeling the need to lighten up the house. Of course, the best way to make a house feel lighter is a trip to the old G-Dub (Goodwill) However, I'm afraid that it is more effective when you are donating instead of shopping :0)

Today my mom and I hit the local G-dub. All of their Christmas stuff was 59 cents. Didn't matter what it was it was 59 cents. They had a bunch of boxes of really pretty ornaments that would have been perfect to make one of those ornament wreaths, but I resisted. Most of the stuff was pretty picked over but we did find two MAJOR scores. My mom spotted this Fitz and Floyd Santa plate and I thought it was cute. I had looked at one similar earlier this season, but didn't want to spend the money, but for 59 cents how can you pass it up? As we were walking towards the check out my mom this Fitz and Floyd water pitcher. Now it is a bit much as far as my tastes are concerned, but again for 59 cents?? While we were looking at it, another lady came up and said, "you know it has a chip" (yes, I very small one you have to look to see) and "it seems like it would be a a pain to store all year" (yes, probably) "I don't think they will give it to you for 59 cents. It way too nice of a piece" (do we detect some sour grapes?) Long story short, we got both pieces for $1.18.

Now whenever we get a screaming deal, we always go home and check it out on line. This pitcher is no longer on the FF site, so I'm thinking it is retired. However, similar ones on ebay were going for $60-75. Bottom line, great score. I have a couple of other "old world" type santa things, so I'm sure I'll be able to find somewhere for it. If not, I can always ebay it to feed my thrift store habit.

Speaking of thirfting, I think I have converted my son Ben. We were at another G-dub recently and guess what he found. A brand new looking and working Homedics Massage Recliner. It was only $40, so he bought it (or at least half of it) It is now sitting proudly in his room. Again, we went on line and it turns out that his chair is around $350. Amazing what some folks will give away.