Garage Project and Fires

November 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm (Uncategorized) ()

In preparation for my family coming down to visit for Thanksgiving, Misha and I needed to move some of the items in our spare bedroom to the garage. But we still wanted to park our car in the garage. Misha has been wanting to do this for months, we just haven’t found the time. So, we finally found the time on one of Misha’s weekends off.

Here is that side of the garage before:

Garage

I went outside at some point (when my assistance was not required) and spotted this plume of smoke):

Smoke

Looking further, we realized that this much smoke was not a good thing. I went upstairs to catch up on the news, and see what was going on. The fire was pretty close to my work, and they ended up closing our office.

Smoke

But our work continued:

Garage

As the sun set through the smoke:

Smoke

And Misha continued working in the dark until it was complete.

Garage

So now we have tons more storage down in the garage. Misha did a great job. And we cleared out space in our condo for my family to stay with us!

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Drop Biscuits

November 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Biscuits

I was looking for something easy to go with dinner, and I had recently starred this recipe from and a cookie for dessert’s blog. They sounded perfect, and easy. Great for a weeknight meal.

Drop Biscuits
Allrecipes via and a cookie for dessert
Makes 12

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 cup cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Stir in butter, milk, garlic, and cheese until just moistened.
  3. Drop batter on a lightly greased cookie sheet by the tablespoon.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until golden on the edges, about 8-12 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

These biscuits hit the spot, and as Brooke mentioned, a perfect base for adding other herbs or cheese (we added garlic and cheese).

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Matzo Ball Soup

November 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Matzo Ball Soup

I wasn’t feeling great the other evening, so though we had leftovers for Misha I wasn’t feeling well enough to eat them. My usual go-to meal for nights like these is Matzo Ball soup. It is quick, easy, simple, good, and great for nights that you don’t feel great.

Matzo Ball Soup

Ingredients

1/2 cup Matzo Meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
4-6 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and sliced

Directions

  1. Blend matzo meal, eggs, vegetable oil, and salt in a bowl until mixed. Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add carrots.
  3. Pull matzo meal mix out of the refrigerator and form into 1 inch balls. Try to handle the mixture as little as possible, and roll very gently. Note: The less that you handle them, the better. It helps to make them light and fluffy.
  4. Gently place matzo balls into the boiling chicken broth.
  5. Cover tightly, and cook for 30-40 minutes (they should be floating).
  6. Ladle soup with a few matzo balls and carrots into a bowl. Serve and enjoy!

I love this soup. I usually have leftovers for a few lunches or dinners.

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

November 13, 2008 at 6:28 am (Uncategorized) ()

Laundry Detergent

I know that this isn’t a meal, but it took some searching for me to figure out how I wanted to make my own green laundry detergent and I thought that someone else might be interested. Originally I was going to make liquid, which is pretty much the same thing except boiled. However, when I heard that it sometimes goes bad (and thinking about having to store liquid detergent) I quickly researched other options.

Some notes about the ingredients. I found the laundry soap in the laundry/stain removal section of the store. I used zote. For the Arm and Hammer washing soda, it is simply sodium carbonate or soda ash. I could not find the washing soda, but if you have a pool supply store soda ash is the same as the pH up chemical. Just make sure that the only ingredient on the label is “sodium carbonate”.

This detergent is great for HE washers. It is low-sudsing, so you can just use less and get the same cleaning power. I sometimes use a little bit of Oxi-Clean.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
Adapted from multiple sources.

Ingredients

1 cup grated laundry soap (such as Fels Naptha or Zote)
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
Container large enough to hold 2 cups laundry detergent

Directions

  1. Grate laundry soap. Note: I grated it with a hand grater. It helps to keep the soap as cold as possible, next time I might stick it in the freezer before grating, to make it a little easier.
  2. Freeze the grated laundry soap.
  3. In a small food-processor (I use our chop-chop) combine the laundry soap, borax, and washing soda. Pulse until the laundry soap is a powder.
  4. Store in a sealed container.
  5. Use 1 tablespoon per load of laundry. If you have an HE machine, you can use less.

I am not going back to purchasing laundry detergent. Making my own is so much cheaper and better for the environment. It is so easy, I was really worried about doing it the first time but now I would never go back!

Edited to add:

I also wanted to mention that I use plain white vinegar as fabric softener. It gets the soap residue out, and it is much better for the environment (and you, since you’re not inhaling all those chemicals). Also, it is safe to use with towels. Normal fabric softener makes it so that your towels don’t absorb as much liquid, but vinegar is great for them. And no, they don’t come out smelling like vinegar, they come out smelling clean!

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Capt’n Crunch Yogurt Chicken

November 13, 2008 at 6:28 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Key Lime Pie

Many many years ago I was at the doctor’s with my Mom and they had some sort of booksale in the lobby. My mom and I stopped by, and discovered a cookbook called Top Secret Recipes. Though I have not been to many of the restaurants or tried the dishes, this cookbook is a fun book that we have found some truly unique recipes. One of the random gems was a chicken coated in Capt’n Crunch. Being that my mom never bought “fun” cereal, this meal was a real treat. Capt’n Crunch and a yummy dinner.

Well, being that it was cooked in oil it was not the healthiest of meals. That didn’t help my craving of it though. So, realizing that I had two cups of yogurt in the fridge that needed using, and the recent Crispy Yogurt Chicken discovery, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and play with the recipe a bit more than I ever have before.

Capt’n Crunch Yogurt Chicken
Adapted from Top Secret Recipes.

Ingredients

4.5 cups Capt’n Crunch Cereal (next time I will add a bit of panko or corn flakes)
2 cups yogurt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds chicken breast, cut into tenders

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix yogurt and minced garlic.
  2. Add chicken to yogurt mixture and stir thouroughly until all chicken is coated. Note: I let this sit for a while, but I didn’t have enough time to let it really sit.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.
  4. In a food processer, grind the Capt’n Crunch, onion powder, and pepper.
  5. Dip the chicken pieces, one by one, into the Capt’n Crunch mixture.
  6. Place coated chicken in a cooking dish coated with non-stick spray.
  7. Cover in foil and bake at 350 for 45ish minutes, or until the chicken is done (I forgot the foil). Remove foil during last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  8. Serve with a honey-mustard sauce and enjoy!

Well, This recipe kind of turned out. I forgot the foil, so I think as a result the cotaing melted off more than I would have liked, and it didn’t get as crunchy as it would have had I cooked it in oil. But, when I try it next time I will add a bit of panko or corn flake crumbs to the Capt’n Crunch. I think doing that, and using foil, will really make a difference. It still tasted good, it just didn’t look as pretty or have quite the crunch that it could have.

Either way, we will be trying this recipe again, with a few modifications.

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Chicken and Veggies

November 13, 2008 at 6:27 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Key Lime Pie

This is one of our favorite stand-by recipes. It is so easy to throw together and really good. It is also one of those recipes that it is easy to remember what you need, in case you are out and about when you are trying to figure out what to do for dinner.

Chicken and Veggies
Adapted from Elly Says Opa.

Ingredients

3-4 Chicken breasts (or whatever type of chicken you fancy)
4-5 potatoes (Depends on how big they are)
2-3 carrots
1 onion
extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
salt
pepper
oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chicken broth

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Peel and chop up potatoes and carrots into large pieces.
  3. Cut up onion into larger chuncks.
  4. Add some extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon to a baking dish.
  5. Add chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onion to the baking dish, and turn them around so that they are coated with the olive oil and lemon juice.
  6. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic to the chicken and veggies.
  7. Flip the chicken and mix the veggies, then salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic the other sides.
  8. Add chicken broth to the pan, and squeeze the remaining half-lemon over the chicken and veggies.
  9. Bake at 400 for about an hour, basting the chicken and vegetables as necessary. Note: The onions tend to brown on top, so keep an eye on those.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

So easy and so good. We usually serve this with a simple salad.

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Hamburger Noodle Bake

November 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Hambuger Noodle Bake

There is a recipe that I have been craving lately. My mom made it when I was little, all I remember is the oohy goohy goodness of the cheese, noodles, and meat. I was at Misha’s Aunts house and spotted this recipe in a old cookbook. It sounded like it was it, so I checked with my mom and she thinks that this is the one. It wasn’t quite as I remembered it, but it was still good. I think that my ratios were a bit off (they don’t make packages in the same sizes that they used to, and what was I going to do with 4 oz of egg noodles!?). It was still good, I’ll be trying it again to see if I can replicate it.  

Hamburger Noodle Bake
Cooking for Compliments, Knudsen.

Ingredients

1 8oz package medium or wide egg noodles
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup minced green onion
parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions, adding 1 Tablesppon butter or oil to water. Drain.
  3. Brown ground turkey in a large frying pan. Drain Excess fat.
  4. Add garlic, chili powder, oregano, and basil to grount turkey. Saute for 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomato sauce to turkey mixture and remove from heat.
  6. Blend cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and onion.
  7. Spread half of noodles over bottom of baking dish.
  8. Cover with cheese mixture.
  9. Cover with remaining noodles.
  10. Top with meat sauce.
  11. Sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese on top.
  12. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

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Honey Baked Chicken

November 10, 2008 at 10:41 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Well, I don’t have a picture of this recipe, but it was too good to not blog.

Honey Baked Chicken
Misha’s Aunt.

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (We did them whole this time, next time I would cut them up)
1/3 cup margerine, melted (I would use much less margerine next time)
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons mustard (She makes her own mustard, it is the best!)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Arrange chicken breasts in a shallow baking pan.
  3. Combine melted margerine, honey, mustard, and salt. Pour over chicken.
  4. Bake 45 min to 1 hour (shorter if chicken is in smaller pieces) or to a minimum internal temperature of 165, basting every 15 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

So good! we cut ours up into little bits and enjoyed the chicken in the honey-mustard soup goodness. This recipe is a keeper. Misha didn’t like how strong the mustard was, so next time I might try it with less butter, mustard, and maybe adding in some apricot jam. It was delish!

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Fresh Asian Salad

November 10, 2008 at 9:25 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Key Lime Pie

We needed a different salad for dinner, and had some asian toasted sesame dressing. I went onto Kraft’s web site for some inspiration and used it as a basis to change up our usual salad routine.

Fresh Asian Salad
Adapted from KraftFoods.com.

Ingredients

Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing, Light
torn salad greens
mandrin oranges, drained
snow peas
shredded carrots
won ton noodles

Directions

  1. Mix lettuce, oranges, peas, carrots, and noodles in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with dressing, serve, and enjoy!

The kraft recipe used chicken in the salad, but since this was a side for us I omitted the chicken. It was a nice change from the normal, and I love oranges on a salad!

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Key Lime Pie

November 10, 2008 at 9:09 am (Uncategorized) ()

Key Lime Pie

The first key lime pie I ever made was a disaster. I don’t think that I have ever had one before, and really just went by the recipe that I found in my Top Secret Recipes cookbook, and it was not quite what I expected. And then I saw PeaBody’s post on Key Lime pie, and decided that it was worth a second try, and it was. The recipe got rave reviews and was worth it.

I had read in America’s Test Kitchen, that when it comes to key limes and baked goods like key lime pies that it didn’t make a huge taste difference if you used real key limes versus just limes. So the second time I made the pie, I made it with plain old limes (when you have squeezed 30+ key limes by hand for a pie that didn’t turn out your hands will remember the pain).

Anyways, the first time I made key lime pie I forgot to save a piece for Misha’s Aunt, the second time I made key lime pie I made two (well five actually, but four of them were minis). I brought her over her very own baby key lime pie, complete with whipped cream and zest. She loved it, and then teased me that I didn’t work as hard for this one because it wasn’t “real key lime pie”. So she never really got her key lime pie.

So, I planned way ahead and in June wrote down in the calendar to make a key lime pie for her birthday (well, to remember to request that that was the dish that I bring to her birthday dinner). So, in October I asked the family if I could do dessert for her birthday, and last saturday I spent squeezing 1.5 bags of key limes for 2.25 pies. Misha’s Aunt had a little baby (heart-shaped) pie all to herself.

Happy Birthday!!!

Key Lime Pie with Coconut-Pecan Grahm Cracker Crust
PeaBody!

Ingredients

1/2 cup key lime juice, fresh if possible
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Marscapone cheese, room temperature
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated lime or key lime
5 egg jokes
whipped cream, for garnish
1 coconut-pecan grahm cracker pie shell (recipe follows)

Directions

  1. Whisk sweetened condesnsed milk with the egg jokes.
  2. Whisk on Marscapone cheese.
  3. Stir in whipping cream and lime juice.
  4. Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest.
  5. Pour into a prepared grahm cracker crust and bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve with whipped cream and a dash of lime zest, and enjoy!

Coconut-Pecan Grahm Cracker Crust
PeaBody!

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups crushed grahm cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup pecans, toasted
7-8 Tablespoons melted butter

Directions

  1. Toast coconut flakes and pecans.
  2. In a food processor, blend together grahm cracker crumbs, coconut, sugar, and pecans. Make sure that none of the coconut is visible.
  3. Add about 7 Tablespoons melted butter, pulse a few times. Add more butter if necessary.
  4. Pour contents into a pie pan and press to form a shell.
  5. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 400. Note: Prebaking is not necessary if you are using mini pie pans.

This is the best key lime pie that I have ever had, not that it is that many. Though, FIL asked for all of the leftovers, and had seconds. In my book, that means that dessert was a sucess.

I’m not sure if the key limes versus limes made a huge difference. I made them too far apart to tell.

I am proud of myself for making one of PeaBody’s amazing dishes.

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Herbed Roast Pork

November 3, 2008 at 11:17 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Herb Roasted Pork

We have been at a lack for dinner ideas lately. I pulled out some of my latest Cook’s Illustrated and Cooking LIght magazines, and let Misha pick something for dinner. He found this Herbed Roast Pork in Cooking LIght

Herbed Roast Pork
Adapted from Cooking Light.

Ingredients

1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried tyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (1 lb) pork tenderlons, trimmed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475.
  2. Combine butter, salt, sage, thyme, and oregano in a bowl.
  3. Rub mixture over pork.
  4. Place the pork in a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 475 for 17 minutes (or until a thermometer registers 160).
  6. Let rest for 5 minutes (tented with foil).
  7. Slice and enjoy!

I think that this had a little too much sage (or maybe I added too much since we doubled the recipe). It was still good, just a bit to heavy on the herbs. I will try this again, but go a little easy on the sage.

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes

November 3, 2008 at 11:07 am (Uncategorized) (, )

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

We have been at a lack for dinner ideas lately. I pulled out some of my latest Cook’s Illustrated and Cooking Light magazines, and let Misha pick something for dinner. He found an Herbed Roast Pork in Cooking Light and I spotted these Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Cooking Light, November 2008.

Ingredients

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and cust into 3/4 inch thick rounds (we ended up with Yams, it was all I could find)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with canola oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated.
  2. Line a 18 x 13 inch baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray (be sure that you get every inch!).
  3. Arrange potatoes ina single layer on the baking sheet and cover tightly with foil.
  4. Place potatoes in a cool oven and turn oven to 425. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove top layer of foil. Return potatoes to oven and cook until bottom edges of potatoes are golden-brown (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  6. Flip potatoes over and continue baking until the bottom edges are godlen brown (18-20 minutes).
  7. Remove from pan, cool for a few minutes and then serve.
  8. Enjoy!

I LOVE sweet potates. This recipe was simple and easy, I will be doing this again, and maybe try the potatoes with a maple-thyme glaze next time. I am always looking for new recipes for sweet potatoes!

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Herbed Chicken Parmesan and Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

November 3, 2008 at 10:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Chicken Parmesan and Basil Orzo

We have been pretty stuck on dinner ideas lately. I was browsing around cookinglight.com and found this recipe, and decided that it sounded good.

Herbed Chicken Parmesan
Adapted from Cookinglight.com.

Ingredients

1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced (I used dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large egg white, lightly beaten (I just used a whole egg)
1 lb chicken breast tendres (I used chicken breasts, tenderized them a bit and cut them up)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup (1.5 ounces) shredded provolone (we used slices)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine 2 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt ina shallow dish.
  3. Place egg in another shallow dish
  4. Dip each chicken piece in egg then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  6. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes on each side (or until done). Put in a casserole dish when done.
  7. While chicken is cooking, combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper.
  8. Pour sauce over chicken (in casserole dish) and top with parmesan and provelone cheese.
  9. Cook in the oven until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through.
  10. Serve with Orzo with Parmesan and Basil and enjoy!

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil
Adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1/2 cup greated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I use dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and saute until lightly browned.
  2. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes).
  4. Mix in parmesan cheese and basil, season with salt and pepper
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Both of these recipes are keepers! I love chicken parmesan, and it was a nice change to add the parmesan to the breading and the balsamic to the pasta sauce. Two very easy changes that made a difference.

This was our first time trying orzo, and it was good. I will be making it again!

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Tomato Feta Salad

November 3, 2008 at 10:08 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Tomato Feta Salad

This salad is amazing. I’m not a fan of feta, and Misha is not a fan of tomatoes… but you put them together in this salad and we will both devour it! A friend origionaly emailed me this recipe to bring over, and it has been a hit ever since!

Tomato Feta Salad
Barefoot Contessa.

Ingredients

2 pints cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup diced red onion, small
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3/4 lb feta cheese Note: The trick is to use a good feta, we get ours from a local market and it is sold in blocks. It is a French feta (I think Valbreso). I think it makes a huge difference.

Directions

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the onion, vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, basil, and parsley and toss well.
  3. Dice the feta into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes, taking care to crumble it as little as possible.
  4. Gently fold the feta into the salad.
  5. Let the salad sit in the fridge for a bit, this lets the flavors all merge together.
  6. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!

We love this salad, it is a great summer salad or when you can find tomatoes. The trick to this salad is using good feta.

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