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Photo: movieweb.com

Over Christmas and New Year’s I got exposed to some new-to-me music, movies, games, and books. One game especially kinda pulled it all together. There’s a card
game named Slash in which you try to find the best mate for each character. All the character cards are from TV, movies, and books. This brought to my attention to how many cards I needed to discard since I was at a loss as to who or what the character was.

I would love to get recommendations for all types of media in the new year. It is so readily available but it’s like diving into the middle of the ocean. Where to begin?
It doesn’t have to be new media either. For example, I watched Die Hard just before Xmas for the first time. Alan Rickman makes a cool bad guy and I hope he’s enjoying some peace just now. Oh, and dear god, get that cop some shoes.

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Photo: Buzzfeed

So, can you recommend some media to me?

  • Movies–I like comedies, romances, thrillers, action films. Not keen on angst ridden, artsy films nor horror flicks. Although, classic horror is good.
  • Television–Similar to movies. I like crime shows and comedies. Such as NCIS, Castle, and Parks &  Recreation.
  • Anime or Cartoons–I love all things Studio Ghibli. I am not into mech.
  • Books/Graphic novels–Mostly fiction/fantasy/sci-fi and some biographical nonfiction.
  • Music–I really like singable and dance-able music and sometimes I need chill background music.
  • Podcasts–I like em short, informational (somewhat), and funny.
  • Games–Solitaire type games, two person/small crowd, cards, dice, paper–I’m easy.
  • Recipes–I love cooking! I am not the most experienced, but I love playing with recipes!

Here are a few things I’ve been taking in recently:

  • Movies–Watch Die Hard if you haven’t. If only to hear Alan Rickman say “Yippie Ki yay, mother fucker” one more time. (Spoiler: https://youtu.be/7tKr5XRPGmQ)
  • Television–iZombie has been getting recommended to heaps of folks by me. I want to get into Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series.
  • Anime or Cartoons–Last animated feature I watched was Animatrix (again)–some not so bad ones in there.
  • Books/Graphic novels–Reading Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.
  • Music–Uhm, I have been listening to same playlists for years…
  • Podcasts–Thrilling Adventure’s Sparks Nevada Marshall on Mars is great!
  • Games–I enjoyed King of Tokyo over the holidays among several others.
  • Recipes–I don’t know why but homemade chicken salad is so simple and worth every ounce of effort.

Please leave me some recommendations in the comments below. I would absolutely love all input! I can quickly do a search and read a quick blurb on the media you suggest, but I would much rather like to know why are you recommending this? I assume because it was good, but it is thinky, inspiring, funny, great for a party, perfect with a cup of tea?

 

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Walkabout The Snow Day

Snow DateDepending on your line of work (teachers) and your age (still in grade school) you will see a ton of snow days in Kentucky. I don’t get many snow days as I am not a teacher nor am I in school. Snow Days in the South are a big joke to people up North who get snow in feet not inches. Down here, it would be insane to send a standard yellow school bus down curvy country roads that haven’t seen salt trucks ever. We got several inches of snow and several inches of ice overnight and I got a snow day! Sometimes it is good to live on back roads. It took most of the day for the road crews in our area to get the main parkways and interstates clear. We’re still waiting for our main highway to be cleared today (day two).

On our snow day we made a big pot of chicken and dumplings and sipped on hot coffee through the morning.

Veggies in broth

This photo of the chicken stock and the onions, celery and carrots was too beautiful not to share. Isn’t food just BEAUTIFUL! You can tell why my weight loss is so slow going. Hah!

Chicken n' dumplings

I painted my nails blue while we watched tons of episodes of Bones, Leverage and Rules of Engagement. I also caught up on some reading–glorious, glorious reading.

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In the afternoon, I donned three shirts, two pants, a sweater, hat and insulated overalls. I hadn’t ventured out of the house much because I hate being cold, but given the proper preparation I love it! I romped in just about every snow drift on the farm to show how impressively deep the snow had gotten–Several feet.

I attempted to  throw a snowball at Kit but quickly realized it was much to powdery for any real fun. A snowman would have been out of the question.  However, I had a grand time romping in drifts, making a snow angel, spying tracks of and seeing some actual wildlife.
We brought the camera: 

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One foot on top of snow and the other sunk to what I assume was the ground.

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I remember making dozens of snow angels as a kid until I got the perfect one. Then my brothers usually walked through it.

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Sunken into a drift that built up by the neighbor’s fence row. My knee is below the snow line.

snow angel poseHad to pose by my not-so-perfect snow angel.

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We wanted to see the half frozen pond and had to stop in short to keep from scaring off the pair of moose enjoying the pond. Okay, moose is a weird inside joke and it is what we call Canadian geese. If I explained it you would just think I am more crazy and less funny.

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The obligatory Snow Day Selfie! I hope you guys got to stay home with your loved ones. And if you didn’t get to yesterday, then make a point to spend a day with the people who make you smile soon!

Food Fotos

I have been trying to think of a lovely theme or nice way to tie my photos together for a blog. However, they would all be super short and simply saying: Hey, this is that one thing that I ate for dinner. And that sort of nonsense is for Instagram [which I also have].

So here are several food pictures of things I have been eating recently. If you’re interested in a recipe for it please let me know.

plate fish.rice.brusselI know this picture is a little fuzzy, my apologies. I was starved and wanted to eat immediately. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a good picture of it unless I snapped one right away.
We had fish with Catalina seafood rub, spiced rice from scratch, and Brussels sprouts coated in butter and nutritional yeast. This meal was orgasmic!

I followed this recipe as a basis for my plans, with some changes:

Soaking up the liquids--but not quite done

Soaking up the liquids–but not quite done

Tomato Rice Recipe Ingredients

  • Oil to saute
  • Onion – 1 large diced
  • Ginger Paste & Garlic minced – Eyeballed (1.5 tsp and 2 TBSP)
  • Chilli powder – eyeballed it
  • Dried red pepper flakes – eyeballed it
  • Curry powder – eyeballed maybe 1 TBSP
  • Bay leaves – 2 leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomatoes – 1 can diced
  • Can of black beans – rinsed and drained
  • Rice – 2 cups uncooked jasmine
  • 3 cups of water or chicken broth
  • NONE of the other ingredients listed on the website.

Saute onions with spices and a dab of oil. Add tomatoes, beans, rice and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is gone and rice is tender.

20131129_181217Don’t forget to make hill billy paella with your leftover rice. We cooked up chorizo and shrimp to put into it this time and served it on a bed of fresh greens. So much yummy!

20131128_113618I made entirely too many rolls for Thanksgiving, but it was good to share them for more family anyway. I made roughly sixty rolls and they made it to two family functions. The left-left overs are in my freezer now. I hope to pull them out for a good hearty soup night this winter.

20131128_113631Just take a gander at those luscious rolls! Next time want to brush them with egg or milk to give them a right nice sheen. Although, as pictured above they are perfectly appealing. Have I ever shared my fun bun recipe? I feel another blog coming….

Pumpkin Quinoa Soup–The Results

Let me start by saying–my hubbster is picky and I haven’t had anyone else over to the house to be on my side about this soup. I loved it!
If you’re a picky eater or not fond of weird foods then perhaps continue your google searching because you may not like this recipe. My hubbster might have liked it if I had included chunks of ham or chicken. However, as the recipe is below, Kit had no seconds nor leftovers.

You may recall that I posted a blog talking about how I make up recipes and end up a trial Franken-recipe once I get to the kitchen. Here is what I changed once I actually got into the kitchen to cook this soup.

Ingredients
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 TBSP garlic to taste (I never measure this)
2 TBSP olive oil (never measure)
2 TBSP curry powder (you can continually taste and add more/less as you cook because soups are wonderfully forgiving)
salt and pepper
A couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
3 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
3 small/medium sized yellow squash, washed and chopped

2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 can pure pumpkin (15 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 cup uncooked quinoa

Toppings–Grated cheese. I tried both cheddar and mozz.

Directions
Saute onions, garlic and spices in olive oil until translucent. Then add carrots and squash. Cover and allow to cook on low medium until veggies are a bit more tender–Remember you don’t want them super mushy because you want some texture to the soup.
Add broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, diced tomatoes and quinoa. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat the low and cook until quinoa pops open and liquid is absorbed. It took perhaps 30 minutes to make sure the quinoa was popped open and delicious.

What did it taste like?
It was awesome! The pumpkin was prominent and the coconut milk made it creamy and comforting. The curry powder did NOT make this soup hot but added a little kick and more complexity to the soup itself. I thought the veggies gave it just enough goodness to munch on.
If you please, you could reduce the quinoa amount at 1/3 of a cup and chicken broth by 1 cup. You would end up with about the same amount of broth/fluids.

The Process of Making a Recipe

People are constantly begging for my secret, Where on earth do you find these amazing recipes, Kat! Or, Gee, your cooking is the greatest, Mrs. Clark.
Honestly, no one says that, but in my head that is what it translates to when people compliment my cooking.

So here is that process I have to making a recipe. My methods are not unique, but do typically yield good results. It begins with me finding an ingredient, hearing people talk about or getting exposed to a food via media and it the gears start turning.

I have been thinking about pumpkin soup all summer because I have tons of cans of pumpkin in my cabinet and a co-worker mentioned that he really loves making pumpkin soup. Especially as the weather has gotten colder.

I started searching the Internetz for recipes that sounded good to me and almost immediately, had an unhappy realization. Almost all of the soup recipes I found had quite a bit of broth. Kit prefers a chunky soup, so I knew that a watery soups would mean I would have to eat the whole pot.

After pinning a few recipes I liked I started thinking and ultimately chose quinoa. It is filled with good proteins, has a good texture and soaks up liquids quite well. Quinoa and savory pumpkin sounds amazing to me. I also like the idea that I could adapt a recipe to having vegetable broth and make it for my veggie-saurus brother.

The trickiest thing about soups are that if you want a certain result of liquid you have to start with the right amount of liquid. Or suffer the cycle of doom where you keep adding things until it gives or you give….And end up with double the amount of soup you intended.

Under closer inspection of the recipes I found some similarities and pulled all the ingredients I knew we would love. I pulled ingredients from this Coconut Curry Pumpkin soup recipe I found on all recipes and a crock pot Chicken Quinoa-Pumpkin soup that I found on a personal blog.

That’s basically the process. The next step, of course, is making it on a night that I will not burst into tears if I have to order a pizza and dump it out. However, that isn’t so hard because I usually enjoy trying a new recipe.

crock-pot-chicken-quinoa-pumpkin-soup

Here is the Pumpkin Quinoa soup recipe that I came up with:
Warning: I have not tried this yet, but am looking forward to it mid-week. I will post an update to let you know what changes I made to the recipe below.

Ingredients
1 sweet onion, chopped2 TBSP garlic to taste (I never measure this)
2 TBSP olive oil (never measure)
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 can pure pumpkin (15 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa

Toppings–Sour cream, or grated cheese (parm) and chopped fresh spinach.

Optional–potatoes, carrots, celery, cooked chicken.

Directions
Saute onions, garlic and spices in olive oil until translucent.
Add broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, diced tomatoes and quinoa. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat the low and cook until quinoa pops open and liquid is absorbed.

Because I haven’t used this recipe before I’m not sure if three or two cups of chicken broth is more appropriate. I think for most people that three cups would be fine, but knowing that we like thicker or stew-like soups we should probably go for less. I already have a feel too, that I will want more pumpkin.

I’m really debating if I want more stuff in my soup. I usually have carrots and celery on hand to fill out a soup, if necessary. Chicken would be good, but it shouldn’t be a main player in the soup. I feel like the chicken would try to steal the show, when really, it is more about the creamy pumpkin soup.

After actually trying the recipe, Kit and I will sit down with our bowls or plates and eat for about five minutes before we start the deconstruction. What spices did you use? Are the flavors mellowed together? If you could change one thing to make this better, what would you do? And so on. We don’t place blame on the cook if the food isn’t perfect, but rather, figure out if we should try it again, tweak it, or keep it exactly the same. I love, love, love this part of our relationship. Not only can we cook and hang out in the kitchen together, but we make a game out of the recipes. Perhaps, like a friendly panel of judges on Iron Chef.

What process do you use when you’re trying to find new recipes to add to your regulars?

Do you ever follow the recipe exactly as you found it?

Who Knew Fried Rice was SO Easy

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Who knew? Even though I have made fried rice before, I always seem to forget how ridiculously easy it is to make at home.
I have been told that day old rice or leftover white rice is the best to use, but I’m not sure why. Perhaps it has had the opportunity to harden a touch and won’t mush as you cook it again.

The ingredients, more or less

• 3 tbs sesame oil OR dump some olive oil in the pan and about one tablespoon of sesame seeds

• 1 large onion, chopped or diced

• 1 TBSP minced garlic

• 3 carrots, peeled and grated

• 1 large green pepper, chopped

• 2 eggs, slightly beaten

• 3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice)

• 1/4 cup soy sauce

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Directions

-Saute sesame seeds and garlic in oil in a large wok or large bottom soup pot.

-Add the onions, green pepper and carrots. Add any veggie you prefer really. Most people do the frozen veggie mix of peas and carrots.

-Move all the veggies to the edge of the pan (make a hole) and scramble the eggs in the middle. When they are fully cooked, mix everything around.

– Lastly add the rice and soysauce. I added less than the 1/4 cup the recipe called for and I thought it was perfect. Just remember that is is easy to add a bit more soysauce than add a cup more of cooked rice.

-I added a tablespoon or two and mixed it all around to see if I needed more soysauce or not. Since everything is cooked, go ahead and taste it as you go to make sure it is the way you like it.

Birthday Grill Building

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In an attempt to trick Kit into thinking he wouldn’t get a birthday gift I waited over a week and surprised him with this. His birthday trip was the state fair remember.

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Photo credit: Angie.
I was lucky in that I was off work on a day he got scheduled to work. We got to work not long after lunch putting the new grill together.

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The first steps were unpacking the grill, grabbing some chairs for comfort, setting up the camera and posing like nerds.

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There were lots of ridiculous poses. Before we followed each assembly step we had a scavenger hunt for pieces. Some of them we discovered were actually inside the grill. Smart packing folks.

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I don’t have many photos of us actually working on the grill because, well, we were working! With four people it went together quite well. I imagine doing it by myself would be much more dull and super slow as I switched between tools, instructions and grill.

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Luckily, my friends/family that helped me had recently put together their own grills and were somewhat accustomed to the many and somewhat ambiguous steps.

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Photo credit here goes to Angie.
It was worth all the hard work! Whoo!! We got it finished with plenty of time to spare. Time to marinate ribeye in a chipotle sauce. And time to chop veggies, spice and wrap them in oiled foil packets.

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Kit didn’t act too surprised, but he isn’t the known for his game show style overreactions. I think he was pleased we had special steak, banana pepper poppers and squash/tomato/onion packets ready to throw on the grill. The new grill cooks like a dream!

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