Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kitchen Update

My kitchen remodel is almost done. Yay! I am very happy with the way it is coming together. It has taken a bit longer than I had planned because I had an extremely hard time making decisions. Who knew it would be so difficult? After many hours of research, shopping, comparing, and online browsing, it is finally coming together.

I had initially priced out cabinets that were a painted maple. I loved the color, off white with a red glaze. Hated the price tag. I just couldn't bring myself to spend four times as much for those as for the hickory that I ended up going with. Had there been a more economical choice of wood I would have probably opted for that. (I mean REALLY does it have to be high end maple if it is just getting painted?!)

The cabinets had been installed for quite some time when I realized that I REALLY had to decide on some countertops or I would never get my kitchen back together. Concrete, while I LOVE the way it looks : cost is insane to have it made for you, dry time is insane if you do it at home, and the weight of it is insanely heavy. I actually had picked out a granite from a local stone yard. I was really prepared to spring for the couple of thousand bucks (probably about $2500) that it would have cost. I loved the look, the feel, and the durability. Was about to place my order when I came across some research about radon being released from granite countertops. GAH! As if I don't have enough health risks to worry about! Seriously now my countertop might cause cancer?! I wasn't sure either way about the research, I still am not. But I did decide that at $2500 for the granite as long as the jury is still out, I am quite pleased that for $214 plus tax I have a wonderfully functional, attractive countertop.

Total cost so far for the kitchen (I still have grout to buy) about $2500. That is complete with new flooring (linoleum middle of the road quality), cabinets, countertops, tile backsplash, sink, and a very lovely faucet.

Where I cut costs: Clearance hickory cabinets. They were discontinued and 30% off! I ended up opting for ceramic and glass tile rather than natural stone for my backsplash. I actually went out and touched and played with the natural stone. My biggest issue was probably that I am HUGELY tactile driven. The unsealed natural stones left a type of grit on my fingers. They were porous and required sealing to avoid staining. I didn't like the way sealed stones felt.

I opted for a HUGE single basin sink that I swear is almost big enough for me to take a bath in! I believe that was just over $100. I know my deciding factor on the sink might seem silly to some, but here it is, I went with brushed stainless because I color my hair at home and the granite and porcelain sinks stain too easily. The fact that I color my hair at home also impacted my faucet decision. I ended up getting a delta brand. It is the type that you just pull on the faucet and it extends. It was around $220 and I really love it. Overall I am very pleased with the way everything came out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life in the Low Fat Lane

Wowy, I haven't blogged in a looooong time. I haven't given up my love of food. I am a die hard foodie. I have however given up about 45 pounds and would like to give up another 45, so my recipes have had a make over. I have been cooking leaner meals and creating whacky combinations to try out on myself and my friends. I try very hard not to skimp on flavor. I am up to trying just about any food combination. And there are some recipes I simply refuse to tamper with.
Currently my kitchen is in the middle of a re-do which I am extremely excited about. I have new cabinets in place, am in the middle of picking out countertop (leaning toward granite) and have picked out flooring. We will see how excited I am over the next few weeks as I live in exile from my kingdom uh...I mean as I live without a kitchen.
At any rate, hopefully once the kitchen is back up and running I can post my healthy concoctions that sometimes pass as food. LOL! Actually they are usually pretty good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The pasta fiasco

What wonderful intentions I had yesterday morning. I had cooked in the slow cooker overnight a batch of spaghetti sauce (from raw tomatoes). We are talking, blanched about 30 tomatoes and ran them through the food mill (which by the way was not nearly as easy I thought it was going to be when I had the mental image). So, we awake to the house smelling so insanely wonderful that for a few moments as I lay in my bed I wasn't quite certain that perhaps I was still dreaming. The sweet fragrance filling me with inspiration. I decide first thing...home made pasta. What better compliment to the absolute perfection that I had created in the sauce. But first...meatballs. But not just any meatballs. We are talking a pound each of ground pork and ground beef mixed with eggs, Italian bread crumbs and parm cheese fried in sunflower oil. Yeah, nothing resembling healthy, but little mouthfuls of heaven, and well worth the expense spent on fat and calories. So the meatballs are plunked into the sauce to absorb the saucey goodness. The house smells so wonderful at this point that I am certain there is no stopping me. Although I am sure that onlookers were pretty certain I needed leather restraints.
Ok onto the pasta, yeah that. Sounds simple enough, I glance over the ingredients...check. I have everything (eggs and flour thats it...who knew?!) So I crack open the eggs measure out the flour and get it all mixing together in my handy dandy kitchen aid. Looking pretty dry I am thinking to myself. Hmmm now rolling this out. I break the dough into three balls and attempt to roll it on my pasty mat. DANG This is NOT budging. I look over the recipe again...yup right amount of everything. What did I do wrong??!! I scan the instructions..."run through pasta maker three times"! WHAT?! What pasta maker? I don't have a pasta maker. So back to the dough on the counter. I try to tackle this with sheer determination. I bang it with the rolling pin, I stretch it with my hands, I pound it with my fists, not much seems to be happening. Who knew egg and flour when mixed in perfect combination could create a leather ball? Yup, that's exactly what it was. So I start rolling and rolling and rolling. Fast forward to three hours later, I am still rolling and rolling and rolling. I will not accept defeat. I swear it's the Scot in me. Finally almost all of the dough is rolled out, cut into circles and stuffed with cheese filling I decide that there is certainly enough ravioli made and that the third ball of leather would make a great treat for my dog (my pleading muscles made that decision). The ravioli boiled up (took about 30 minutes instead of the suggested 15 but that was because I am sure mine was three times thicker, but remember I didn't run it through the pasta maker three times though I like to think it was also three times yummy and three times as filling).
SO.... reviews of the experience. Absolutely delicious. THE best ravioli I have ever had...ever. But worth the work, only if someone else is going to make if for me. Now, that said, imagine my good fortune when whining about my aches and pains a friend on Facebook GAVE ME her pasta maker. So the next time I write a review on home made pasta I plan to do so sans the aches and pains.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rosemary Pork, Split Pea and Ham Soup and Tapioca Pudding

I was looking through the cabinets last night when I got home from work looking for "something". I didn't find anything I really wanted to eat, but did find supplies for dishes I had plan on making and long had forgotten about. So, I pulled out my supplies and set up for a day of cooking today.
One bunch of dried organic rosemary inspired the pork loin dinner for dear Hubby for later. By the way he really LOVED the Honey Chicken. goes the pork loin
In bottom of the lovely le creuset dutch oven place about 1/4 cup of olive oil then four peeled and chopped carrots and one package of whole small white mushrooms (12 ounce). The pork loin is probably a four pound loin cut in half. I crumbled rosemary over the top and cut five slits in each half of the loin and stuffed with garlic cloves. I baked covered at 350 for about one and a half hours and then uncovered and broiled for about five minutes until fat crisped. Internal temp should be 170 when done.
Split Pea and Ham Soup
My personal review on this is it is a little salty, however that said...I do not put salt on ANYTHING. Should I do this again I would cut the chicken broth probably by about a third with water meaning two parts chicken broth one part water.
2 cups dried split peas soaked over night in 2 cups water. (In the morning there was not extra water in the bottom of the bowl.)
One pound thickly sliced ham cut into pieces (left over frozen Christmas ham)
Three cups chicken stock
One can northern white beans
I cooked the broth ham and peas on top of the stove on low heat until the peas sort of liquified. About an hour and a half of simmering. I then added the beans and cooked about another 20-30 minutes. It is very tasty, though just a tad salty for me. Would be great with crusty bread.
Tapioca pudding
In saucepan place 3 cups milk, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup small pearl tapioca and 1/2 cup sugar bring to simmer for about 30-40 minutes stirring constantly and scraping sides to prevent milk from scorching. Tapioca should be almost transluscent when ready to remove from heat. In large bowl whisk two eggs. Slowly mix tapioca mixture into bowl of whisked eggs. I constantly whisked while hubby spooned in the hot mixture. This prevents the hot tapioca mixture from cooking your eggs. Once whisked together I added a tsp of vanilla and placed in the fridge to set up. We will see how it comes out, smelled terrific cooking!
**Just an update on the pudding...a little watery. I would suggest using three eggs instead of two. Very tasty, just I like my pudding a little thicker.
Well, happy eating, and hope all have a great weekend. I have time to sew up a scrub uniform before heading to work! Yippee!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Veggies and Veggies and Veggies Oh MY!

Holy buckets of blueberry buttons, Batman have I consumed mass quantities of veggies today. One would think where veggies are concerned that there is no such thing as "too much". Unfortunately, my digestive tract is not agreeing with that statement. The recipe is something I whipped up a few days ago and forgot I had in the fridge until I was ready to leave for work tonight. Try it at home if you like, but warning moderation may be needed if you have any where near as delicate a GI system as I do.

one small (baby size) yellow squash sliced
one small (baby size) zucchini sliced
1/2 diced yellow onion
5 diced cloves of garlic
two peeled and sliced carrots
one stalk sliced celery
2 cups baby spinache
1 cup chicken broth
one TBSP sunflower oil
Mix all together and cook until veggies are brightly colored and still crisp, yet spinache is wilted. It is delicioso served over pasta with some grated cheese. I might even consider using a white wine reduction with this. Enjoy, but be sure to wear elastic waisted pants when the bloat sets in!

Chicken Honey for my Honey

Not a lot of time to cook lately. It seems I have been on the go constantly. I have altered a few of my work scrubs by adding some batik gussets and pocket flare. They are looking so adorable, I am hoping to get a few more outfits done. the Chicken Honey. As many of you may be aware I did receive my lovely le creuset dutch oven. I started with about five small white onions chopped up, four cloves of garlic chopped up, three large carrots peeled and chopped, one brine soaked chicken (1/3 cup salt 1/2 cup sugar in enough water to cover the chicken in a snug bowl). Baked up for about an hour and a half covered in the dutch oven at 325 with enough water added to the bottom to cover the vegetables which were placed under the chicken. I then uncovered the chicken, brushed it with honey and cooked for another hour to hour and a half (internal temp of 165). Probably won't get a picture posted as darling hubby will likely devour it while I am at work and it is still in the oven at the moment.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Microwave Marinara aka (Julia don't weep for me sauce)

I actually got this idea years ago from my dear hubby's mother. I had experienced a wonderment of a marinara sauce while visiting (I actually think it may have been before I was even married). At any rate, I thought why not try? So try I did and as it turns out, I will certainly be using this recipe again as it is very little mess and takes a fraction of the time as my conventional sauce. And....low and behold dear hubby salivated heavily when he sampled it!

I used a large oval corelle casserole dish (the white ones with the clear lid) In the bottom I placed:

1/4 cup EVOO

one half of a large onion diced

on clove of elephant garlic (about the equal of 4-5 regular cloves)

then added

Three 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes ( I prefer Red Pack)

Three bay leaves

Two tsps salt

Two TBsp sugar

One tsp ground pepper

Two tsp dried oregano

One tsp dried thyme

Two tsp dried sweet basil

I mixed well and cooked for 20 minutes with lid on set at high, removed and stirred well.

Return to microwave and cook for another 20 minutes with lid on and remove and stir well again.

I then zapped it for another 5 minutes with the lid on. That's it. Pretty easy, no constant stirring, no splatter on the stove! I was impressed to say the least, and Julia forgive me, there are times I am in no way going to be able to live up to your loveliness. You see, besides cooking I have many other obsessions such as sewing and playing my banjo. Not to mention I try to hit the treadmill daily, have to clean my mess, and then go to work for 8 hours a day. Oh, and when I think I cannot possibly fit one more thing in my day, I decide to take up blogging. Go figure!