Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ode to Robin



Despite all of the samples listed above, I actually have the world's best Mother In Law.  Robin has always been so kind to me and I have learned a lot from her.  Even though I know she doesn't judge, I want to show her my best when she comes to our house.  She came up to Grand Forks last week with two of her close friends, Sharon and Colleen.  They were coming to bring Grandma Lee's ashes to Grafton to be laid to rest with her husband.  All three women are extremely cool and I admire all of them very much.  So it was with great bravery that I invited them for dinner.

Cat and I had watched an episode of Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian the week before, and were planning on making the recipes we learned, so I thought it would be perfect to show off a little.

I made Caprese Tartlets, Parmesan-Crusted Pork Loin Cutlets and Garlic oil Sautéed Pasta with Broccoli.  Everything turned out really well, and the Caprese Tartlets were topped with fresh basil from my garden.  There some small snafus, I didn't have any napkins in the house, so had to use kleenex and Dan threw away half of the fresh mozzarella when he was trying to help in the kitchen!  It was a meal that was really enjoyable with guests around the table, and they even helped clean up afterward!

We had frozen most of the raspberries that we picked and I used some of those to make a Raspberry Cream Pie for dessert.  Using fresh home made whipped cream really put this dessert over the top.

Aren't you all hungry yet!

That evening was a lot of fun visiting with these ladies and it was so nice to entertain in our new place.  I am so thankful that my husband has such a wonderful mother, my son has a cool grandma and that I have a friend in her.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Free Year of Prime Shipping on Amazon.com for Students!

While I was at work today (I work for Amazon.com customer service) I just found out about a great new promotion from Amazon.com.  Students with a valid email address at a college (one that ends in .edu) can get a year of free Prime shipping.  That's the free 2-day shipping from Amazon!  I paid $79 for my year of Prime, so this is really a good deal.

Here is the link with more info, pass this on to any college students you know, and if they have questions, they can ask me, since I work for Amazon and know the website pretty well.

Join Amazon Student

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food. Good.

It seems that ever since I became pregnant last year that food has been a major topic in my life.  Cravings, eating the right kind of food and being hungry a lot.  This summer, thanks to my reduced work hours, I get to focus on making food from scratch.  My weekly box of produce has been very inspiring.  Here is this week's box, with my helpful demonstrator, Baby Daniel:

He is excited because we received beets, lettuce, raspberries and an herb called summer savory.
We still had raspberries from our picking on Monday, so I made a raspberry sauce to go with pancakes on Tuesday night.  I put two handfuls of raspberries in a saucepan, added some water, several tablespoons of sugar and a dash of lemon juice.  Then I boiled the sauce and mashed the berries for a while.  When we couldn't wait any longer, I strained out the seeds and we were left with a brilliant red, sweet sauce.  Poured over pancakes, it was a wonderful dinner.

I have plans to use the lettuce for a taco salad, (and guinea pig food), the beets for baby food and the summer savory in a chicken dish and a pork dish.  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Raspberries

We had so much fun today!  There is a Pick Your Own berry farm near Fertile MN and we drove down and picked 3 pints of raspberries.  I am not sure how I am going to use them yet, but I am pretty sure muffins are in our future.  Most of them I am freezing for later.  Besides, we ate plenty while out in the field today.  Here are the pictures from today:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Surprise!

So, funny story today.  FlyLady's habit for July is swishing and swiping the bathroom every morning.  Yesterday, I finally got the bathroom cleaned for the first time since I moved in.  This morning, I wiped it down before leaving for work.  I even made my bed!

I got a call while I was at work from Dan's Aunt Susan, and she was sitting in front of our house!  She lives down in southern MN and happened to be up here for a reunion in a nearby town.  She came and went while I was still at work, but I wasn't freaked out.  The peace of mind that a clean bathroom brings is so nice!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Bounty

How many pennies are in two water bottles? Quite a bit actually. I have been randomly saving pennies in 20oz bottles randomly over the years. When asked why, I always said "to use as a club against burglars of course!"

I was de-cluttering this week and emptied out two of these bottles and brought the pennies to the bank. To my surprise, they were worth $21.41!

Our second box of produce arrived yesterday. This week we had spinach, a large head of some lettuce (maybe romaine?), a very large bag of mixed lettuce greens, small radishes, raspberries, and some homemade granola.

For dinner, I used the entire bunch of fresh spinach on a Spinach and Caramelized Onion Pizza

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 4 cups) (I never seem to get mine thin enough)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or more if you like garlic)
1 can (11 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated thin pizza crust
1 box (9 oz) Green Giant® frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain (here is where I microwaved the bunch of fresh spinach in a glass bowl with a few spoonfuls of water for 5 minutes in the microwave, then drained)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1 cup shredded provolone cheese (4 oz) (or any other cheese you have, I used the Italian blend from Kraft)
1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, sugar and vinegar. Cook 8 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown; stir in salt and garlic. Remove onion from skillet; set aside.

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray or grease 15x10-inch or larger dark or nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough on cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into 15x10-inch rectangle.

Spoon onion mixture evenly over dough to within 1/2 inch of edges. Top with spinach; sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Then for dessert (which wasn't chilled enough to eat until today), we had Lemonade Cheesecake Pie:
Ingredients

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 tub of cool whip or 2 cups of whipped cream  (We whipped our own heavy cream for this, so good!)
1 Graham Pie Crusst
Fresh Berries (We used  fresh raspberries from our box)

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add concentrate, beating well after each addition.  Stir in 2 cups of the whipped cream.  Spoon into crust.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.  Serve slices of pie topped with the berries and any remaining whipped cream.

I still don't know what to do with the radishes.  I really don't like them raw, but maybe I will try to make chips out of them.  Anyone else have any ideas?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sparkly!

Boy, summer is just flying by!  Up here in North Dakota, it took a little while to get started, and we only just got into the high 90's this last week.  My garden really enjoyed the rain and now the sun, and I have harvested my lettuce mix and some of my basil. 

I have been working to keep flying with FlyLady, but it has been a challenge.   She really disproves of being mean to yourself, so I just wake up every day and tell myself to get one thing done at a time and let the day before go.  However, my sink has remained clean almost every night, and our bed is getting made most of the time.  I even got the vacuum out this week! (and used it)

We have used up all of the greens from our produce box, and our salad dinner on Monday night was awesome!  Mixed lettuce leafs, roasted chicken strips, dried cranberries, feta cheese, sunflower seeds and a Basil Vinaigrette Dressing.  It was so much better than I ever knew salad could be!

On Monday, Catherine and I took the baby out to buy fireworks.  Confession: I have never set off any fireworks in my life, including sparklers.  I know, I was deprived!  We mostly got sparklers, and some small noise makers and set them off after the baby had gone to bed.  I was not ready for him to try and eat a sparkler yet.

I don't know where the time is going, but I am making sure that we enjoy as much of it as we can.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Box has Landed

Sooo, anyone who has spoken with me recently has heard that we signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.  Red Goose Gardens delivered the first boxes of the season to my local co-op.

We got a huge bag of mixed lettuce greens, a large head of green lettuce, a large bunch of spinach, a container of tiny strawberries, and a jar of apple raspberry butter preserves!

So last night for dinner, I made a casserole and to go with it, a Chive-Mushroom Spinach Salad.  We have chives in the back yard so that worked well with the fresh spinach.  Then for dessert (don't hate me), all natural vanilla ice cream, sliced strawberries, whipped cream, angel food cake and chocolate syrup.  And just think of it, we get a new box of produce every week until late October!