Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cookie's and Milk

The child comes out in me with the scent of a homemade chocolate chip cookie.  There is something about a chocolate chip cookie, right out of the oven, that turns me into the kid I once was.  I don't know what it is, the smell of them baking, the softness of the cookie, the warm melted chips, the cookie dipped in an ice cold glass of milk.   These are the favorite in my house and when I bake them they do not last long.  I have tried and played with many recipes and I have come up with this one. The taste testers (my kids and hubby) said these were the best.

I always line my cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Raw dough on the sheet and ready to bake.

Up close and personal with the cookies!  Yummy.....

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 2/3 cups of unbleached flour
1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/8 tsp kosher salt, I use kosher because it gives the cookie a little bit of salty flavor with the sweet
1 cup (=2 sticks) of Land O' Lakes butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp water
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and stir together. In the bowl of a mixer beat the butter until creamy.  Add the sugars, vanilla, eggs and water then beat until all is combined. Gradually add the flour mixture. When all mixed, add the chips and mix them in with a wooden spoon.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 -12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire racks lined with paper towels.  Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lovin the Lemon!

This is the second half of my daughters birthday dinner.  As I said in an earlier blog, she wanted Chicken Korma, and the rest of the family had roast chicken.  This was the rest of the menu - Roasted Herb and Lemon Chicken, Orzo with Butter, Lemon and Parmesan - Romano Cheese, Roasted Veggies with Garlic and Olive Oil, and there is nothing better than a Wegman's Ultimate Chocolate Cake for a birthday cake.   Both dinners were enjoyed by all!

I cooked the chicken in a large foil pan to relieve me of the cleanup afterwards.  I set it on a cookie sheet and then put it in the oven.
 The herbs I used were - rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, along with lemon.  The cooked orzo with lemon, cheese, parsley and butter.
Cut up veggies, ready to roast in the oven.
Ummm.... Roasted and caramelized veggies - green and yellow zucchini, red pepper, red onion, whole fresh green beans, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan-Romano cheese, salt and pepper.
 The best chocolate cake ever!

Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken

4 lemons

1/3 cup olive oil

2 whole roasting chickens, washed and split in half

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

8 whole fresh sage leaves

8 fresh whole thyme leaf sprigs

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp fresh cracked pepper

In a large roasting pan use 2 Tbsp of the olive oil to coat the bottom.  Clean the chickens, pulling out anything that is inside and discarding it.  Pat them dry with paper towels.  Place both, breast side up on the cutting board and then split in half, cutting down through the breast, top to bottom.  Place the 4 pieces in the roasting pan.  Cut 2 lemons into 8 slices and place 2 slices under each chicken. Cut the other 2 lemons in half and juice them over the chicken.  Put those lemons into the pan. Using the remainder of the olive oil, coat the skin of the four pieces of chicken.  Then, take rosemary sprig and holding at the top of the sprig, pull down and pull off the rosemary needles and sprinkle on the chicken pieces. Next rip the sage leaves over the chicken.  Place the whole thyme leaves, 2 on each piece of chicken.  Add the garlic, salt and pepper.   Cover with foil and place in a 350 degree preheated oven for 1 1//2 to 2 hours.  The last 1/2 hour of cooking remove the foil so the chicken will brown up.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bargain Shopping and Thrift Store Finds

These are some of my sister's thrift store and yard sale finds.  She will use some of them for her powder room redo.  We spent almost a whole day out shopping for items to recycle and reuse, because that's the way we roll!  It only takes a little bit of your time and some elbow grease, to make something old look new again. We like to look at things and think, what color it could be, or how or where in the house we can showcase it. I don't know why people look down on thrift stores or yard sales for that matter, they are some of the best places to look for things, and sometimes the items are new and never used.  If you are looking for a piece of furniture to redo it's the best place to go, it's cheap and if it gets messed up in the process it doesn't sting that bad, because you didn't pay a lot of money for it.  We also have some furniture redo's coming up, so stay tuned to the blog!

Thrift store find, rustic shadow box - $1.50, tin pitcher - $2.50, silver footed tray - $3.50
 She painted the center of the silver tray with chalkboard paint.  She'll write POWDER ROOM on it
 and display it.
 Thrift store find, very heavy metal lamp with finial- $5.00, the light bulb was free, and it works.  She wants to find the perfect shade to display it, it's very pretty!
 Thrift store find, metal flat leaf candle holder/candy dish for Fall and
 metal NOEL sign  for Christmas- $1.50 each, 
 Yard sale find, detailed design stone like mirror 30 x 25 painted it black to use over her
 vanity in her powder room. - $5.00 
 Yard sale finds, antique tool box - $.75, antique cigar box - $1.50 and 2 yardsticks $.25 each

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Building Your Own Home - Better Have a Sense of Humor

This was our lot before we started to build our home. My husband and some friends (they wanted the wood), as well as the builder (he was great!), came with their chain saws and cleared space where the house was going to stand. It was hard work and took awhile.  The lot was a mess, people were dumping trash and all kinds junk before we purchased the land, and it all had to be cleared out at our expense of course.  If you ever want to build your own house, not in a development, please have the area checked thoroughly - lesson learned.  We were in the red before we even had the foundation in, not good.  It rained a lot in January 2005 and about every month after, having big construction trucks getting stuck in mud cost us lots of money too. Another tip, keep and eye on your sub-contractors.  Today we still love our home and would do it all over again.  The process really was not that hard, even with the obstacles we had to overcome. You have to have a great sense of humor and someone beside you that is with you all the way.  Below are some pictures of the building process.

Clearing the lot - front and back

Left Top- week 1 first floor up. Left Bottom - week 2 second floor up 
Right Top and Bottom- under roof ,windows and doors installed in  front and back.  We had some vandalism - the Palladian window was stored in the garage and was broken  We had to wait for weeks for a new one so some work stoppage occurred inside because it rained and snowed.  Ground was a mud pit for weeks! Could not even get to the house.

Left Top and Bottom - Roof gets shingled, stone and siding put on
Right Picture - The finished house but not moved in just yet. This was August 2, 2005.  It took 8 months to build this house.

The front of  the house as it stands today.

And the back of the house. The deck was installed 1 year after the house was built it's 700 square feet 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Some Nice Cheap Shopping Finds

Went shopping with my sister again this weekend.  She is redecorating her powder room and needed some more things. While out and about I found a few things for myself and my daughter, who is decorating her college apartment.  Check out what I found.

I hung new curtains for my laundry room today.  I bought them at The Christmas Tree Shop - 1 pair with a valance on sale for $5.99.  I also have a table cloth that matches them. That was $9.99 for 60 x 84.

Hyacinth round woven place mats.   I bought 6 for $2.99 each.  I have been looking for them for a long time. I found them at IKEA.

Also at Christmas Tree Shop - Vacuum cleaner scents 5 in a box for $.89 each and dish cloths 4 for $1.99. 

Since my daughter was in London last year she loves anything British.  I found this canvas British artwork at the CTS.  Large canvas was $9.99 and the 2 small were $6.99 each.  Not bad for college room decorating.

 Guess what you can do with this stuff?

I have this chalkboard hanging on my pantry door.  When I run out of something, all my family has to do is write it on the board and I know what to buy at the next grocery store visit. I take a picture of it on my cellphone before I leave the house. I bought it as a mirror at WalMart for $5.00 painted it with chalkboard paint and just left it white.  Well, it was ugly, so I decided to jazz it up a little bit without painting it.  Who says only men can fix something with duck tape?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Clearance Jewelry on Parade!

My hubby and I went to a movie the other night and afterwards went to a few stores in the shopping center where the theater is.  Charming Charlie was the first store I saw, so I went in to take a peek at what they had on clearance.  Here are a few of the pieces I found, at 50% off I might add, while scanning the store racks.

Left - green and silver multi strand necklace and earring set $3.99
Right - bold pink and fuchsia rhinestone necklace $5.99

Iridescent faceted necklace $2.99.  Depending on how the light hits it, the color changes as you can see by the pictures.

Long mint green necklace and earring set $10.00

Left - pink and silver faceted bracelet $1.99
Right - mint green bead bracelet $1. 99

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Dinners

My husband and I started our own tradition, in our family, by having Birthday Dinners.  That means the  birthday boy/girl gets to pick the meal and what kind of cake they want for their birthday.  My youngest daughters birthday is today (she'll be 19), and she likes all kinds of ethnic food.  Chicken Korma with Basmati Rice and Naan is on her menu, and since no one else will eat it, but one of her brothers, the rest of us will have Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon Orzo with herbs.  Happy Birthday! to my baby, she is growing up too fast.

Below is the Chicken Korma recipe.

These are some of the ingredients you will need

Marinate the chicken in the yogurt

Chicken Korma over Basmati Rice with Naan

Chicken Korma

Serves 6
  • 8-oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 small onions, minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp chopped red pepper flakes chopped, optional (more if you like heat)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 large skinless chicken breasts or you can use tenders and cut them up
  • 1 14 oz. can of lite or regular coconut milk
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  •  2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, optional
  • 2 cups basmati rice, cooked
  • 1 package of naan flatbread

1.     Cut the chicken into bite sized, 1-inch pieces. Place the chicken in a large resealable bag and add half  the ginger and garlic and the container of yogurt. Mix together, and allow to marinate for 1 hour.

2.     Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper and salt, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

3.     Add the turmeric, paprika, coriander, ground curry, bay leaves, tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes over medium to medium high heat.

4.     Add the chicken and marinade, stirring to blend all the ingredients. Cover and cook the chicken for an additional 10 -15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.     Add the coconut milk and cook on low. Add garam masala and cumin. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve with basmati rice and naan flatbread. 

NOTE:  This dish actually tastes better if it sits in the refrigerator overnight after all the flavors combine.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quick Meal - Hail Caesar!

If you love Chicken Caesar Salad this is the easy way to make it, you can also put it on a wrap, we like it this way too. If you do the wrap - spread the dressing on the wrap, it helps to hold it together when you roll it up, add lettuce, chicken, cheese and pepper. Voila - Chicken Caesar Wrap.  This is what you need:

1 head of romaine lettuce, grilled chicken breast strips, I get mine from Costco, they're cheap and you get 2 packs of them, then I stick them in the freezer to have on hand for this quick meal. I use Ken's  Caesar Dressing, creamy or the oil one is good too, fresh Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese, a bag of croutons and fresh cracked pepper.
I grill up the chicken, to get it brown and warm, in a little olive oil.
While the chicken is cooking, grate and shave the cheese on a grater 
Wash and chop the romaine.
Start building the salad.
 Add the cheese, croutons and fresh cracked pepper.
 Dress it and you are ready to eat.  Yummy, looks good and takes 10 minutes to prepare!