Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Voila, souffle au fromage! Yes, I am a master chef (wink). Here is a picture of my first ever attempt at a souffle. I am very pleased with the results. Looks good, and tastes amazing! The recipe is from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, the book from the movie "Julie and Julia." I have actually not yet seen the movie, but my mom did, and she realized that she actually owned that book from early in her marriage! She never cooked out of it, because the recipes were too difficult, but she knew I'd love it, and I do! So, thanks mom! Also, Rachel's hair is now long enough to put in to these adorable pig tails! I just love it! Lizzy has been signed up to start beginning ballet and tap class in January. We got her leotard and tap shoes the other day, and she is SO excited! She picked out the yellow leotard herself. It was her favorite!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Las Vegas!

We went on a small trip to Las Vegas last week. Jason had a pharmacy conference there that his work was paying him to go to, so the girls and I tagged along. The girls did fantastic on the drive down, even when our windshield wiper fluid froze up and we had to stop at a firestone so they could thaw, drain, and refill our tank with non-freezing stuff. (Coincidentally, we determined that the reason it froze was because the firestone we went to for an oil change in the summer had filled our tank with normal fluid, which of course we didn't use up by the time winter rolled around.) While we waited we had a very disappointing lunch at Goodwood BBQ company (Holy Smoke BBQ RULES!) and then we were back on the road. We made it to our hotel later in the evening, so we just watched TV and went to bed. Jason had to go to the conference early to check in, so we all went to the Venetian (where the conference was being held), and Jason checked in. Then we had some time before his first meeting started, so we wandered around the strip. I got an awesome pair of $80 jeans on sale for $30 at Banana Republic! We ate lunch (I can't remember where, so it must not have been memorable!), and then the girls and I went back to the hotel. We stayed at the Tahiti Village resort, the same one we stayed at a few months ago. Rachel had her afternoon nap, and Lizzy and I watched "Elmo In Grouchland." After Rachel's nap, it was only 50 degrees outside, and somewhat overcast, so I took the girls down to the hot tub to play. They really loved that! It's a large kidney-bean shaped hot tub with a bench seat all around the edge. The girls had fun walking around and around the edge, singing "pop goes the weasel". Even Rachel's pretty good at that one... she sings "pop...eeeesuuul"! We picked Jason up from the conference at 5:00 and came back to the hotel where we ate dinner. The next day, Jason had meetings all day. We dropped him off at 8:00 am, and then the girls and I just hung out at our resort again. We played in the hot tub, and on their fake sand beach, and played with the toys we brought at the hotel. At 3:00, after Rachel woke up from her nap, I packed the girls into the car and we drove over to the venetian. With Lizzy in the stroller, and Rachel in the mai-tai carrier, I'm sure we looked out of place in Vegas! But, the girls and I had a ton of fun walking around the canal shops and the adjoining palazzo shops. We got to see a little free show in the "town square" in the center of the canal shops, with jugglers, singers, etc. Lizzy really liked that a lot! She got to shake hands with several of the performers afterward, who thought she was really cute! At 5:00, we met up with Jason, and one of his friends who was also attending the conference, and his wife, and we went to dinner at "Trattoria Reggiano", an Italian restaurant in the Venetian that Jason and I discovered on our last trip. It is a fantastic restaurant. I had lobster ravioli, and Jason had chicken marsala. Both were delicious. Then we went back to our hotel, and watched The Biggest Loser finale. The third day, Jason didn't have to be at the conference until 2:00, so we slept in, and then went down to the strip mid-morning. We walked around the Paris hotel, and ended up eating lunch at the restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower, "Eiffel Tower Restaurant." It turned out to be the best restaurant we have ever eaten in! If you ever go to Vegas, we HIGHLY recommend this place... although, be sure to go there for lunch - I found out you have to make reservations MONTHS in advance for dinner, and even still, there is a long long wait to get in. At lunch, there were only 3 or 4 other parties in the restaurant. The best part... we ordered an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert, and the meal was only $60! We had a blue cheese souffle (it was not strong, like you'd think... just AMAZING texture, good!) on top of greens, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and walnuts. Then, I had something called "crab toast" which turned out to be like French toast stuffed with crab, although that description hardly does it justice. It was melt in your mouth delicious. Jason ordered a steak sandwich. The steak was so tender, you didn't hardly have to chew it, and it had a roquefort and horseradish sauce, and onion relish. None of the flavors were overpowering, it was just perfectly balanced flavor and texture... he said it was the best sandwich he'd ever eaten. For dessert, we got my favorite dessert of all time, creme brulee. It was SO good... just outrageous. And then the bill came... $60... we were so happy, we could have cried! Meanwhile, our table was right by the window, at the top of the Eiffel tower, overlooking the beautiful Bellagio fountains. Yeah, it was a fully amazing experience. After we got home, we were kind of sick of Vegas being so cold (after the first day being 50, it dropped down into the low 40's and high 30's, and it was too cold for even the hot tub that third day), and Jason had picked up a cold, and was feeling quite miserable, so we decided to call it a trip, and we drove back home in the middle of the night while the girls slept. We got home at 3:00 am, and went to bed. It was a pretty good trip. There are no pictures, because I could not find the camera! On the drive home, I noticed it was in the pocket of the door in the car. Oh well!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a really fun Thanksgiving! For the first time, I made a Thanksgiving dinner! I made turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, rolls, salad, sparkling apple cider, pumpkin pie, and cherry pie with whipped cream. Everything turned out great, except for the mashed potatoes! Those were the last thing I made, and all the other food was ready... they were taking longer to cook than I wanted, and due to other things also taking longer to cook than planned, we were already eating an hour or two behind schedule! So, I got impatient and undercooked the potatoes (slightly) and then I didn't have a clean measuring cup available, and I eyeballed the milk and got in way too much! So, our potatoes were lumpy and runny... yuck! But, oh well. The funny thing is, the mashed potatoes were the simplest recipe I made! My mom, sisters, cousin, and my cousin's roommate all came to the dinner, so we had 10 people total... 9 women and 1 man (Jason!). Poor guy! We watched the football game, of course, and had a lot of fun. Everyone helped out with the cooking, too, which was also fun! The best dish was the sweet potato casserole, which I have posted the recipe for on my recipe blog, so check that out if you want to make an amazing side dish for your next holiday party! I was very excited, because Jason gave me my Christmas present early just for Thanksgiving dinner... service for 12 china set and serving dishes. They were very beautiful, just plain off-white with a platinum border on the edge. It made our table very elegant! I was also able to wear my new blue and brown apron that Jason's sister's friend made for me... she sells the aprons on her etsy website if any of you want one... see the link on the side for "polka dots and posies." Anyway, I hope everyone else had such a good Thanksgiving! We certainly have a lot to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

3 Year Check Up

Lizzy had her 3 year check up at the doctor on Monday. We planned ahead of time that if she got upset, we would tell her we would take her to Arctic Circle afterward to play on the playland and get an ice cream. It half worked... she was still really terrified. When she gets really scared of something, she does this shivering cry, and her whole body shakes. Even though she was crying and shivering, though, she still opened her mouth to say "aah" and let Dr. Sigg look in her eyes and ears. After all the poking and prodding was done, and Dr. Sigg was just asking us general questions about her health and development, she stopped crying and suddenly said, "Dr. Sigg isn't scary, he's really nice!" Then she was happy, and talking to him. Then, of course, after he was done with the examination, the nurse came in with her flu shot... and then she was crying again, and is once more afraid of the doctor. The first time she ever freaked out at the doctor was at her 9 month appointment, and she's been terrified of doctor's offices and hospitals ever since. The other day I had to pick up a prescription from the Tanner Clinic pharmacy. I pulled into the parking lot with the girls, and got them out of the car. Lizzy took one look at the building and started crying, "I don't want to go to the doctor! I'm scared of the doctor!" I told her we were just going to the store, not to the doctor, and the inside of the pharmacy looked enough like a store to appease her. What amazes me is, she's never been to the Tanner Clinic, so how she knew it was a doctor's office, I'll never know. Anyway, Lizzy is very healthy, and right on track developmentally. She weighs 31 pounds and is 3 feet 2 inches tall. That puts her at 75th percentile for height and 45th percentile for weight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sewing Fun

On the "Hair Today" blog that I have linked here on my blog, the author posted a how-to for a simple but cute "Twirly Skirt" for little girls. I thought it looked intriguing, so I got some fabric and made these skirts yesterday for my girls to wear to church today. I was excited... they came out really cute. Just as the website advertised, the skirts were super easy, and I made both in about an hour. Their shirts don't match... this was at 8 pm, and so I just threw the skirts on with the shirts they were wearing for the day... dirty with dinner and everything! Click on the picture to see it larger. This morning I made a mini version of the skirt out of leftover fabric for Lizzy's new Barbie doll.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Lizzy!

My sweet little baby Lizzy turned 3 yesterday! She had a really fun birthday! She is presently in her room, where she took all her new toys and then closed the door so Rachel cannot play with them! She woke up this morning at 7:00, and the first thing she said was, "Can I play with my dollhouse now?" Her new dollhouse from Grandma and Grandpa Gale is definitely her favorite present, but she loves all her other presents at a close second! She got a doll stroller from my mom, and a doll to go in it from my step-dad. My sisters gave her a new outfit, and Jason and I got her a barbie doll with outfits and a carrying bag, and the new Tinkerbell movie. She has seen too many commercials for the Tinkerbell movie, because she unwrapped it, and said, "Oh! It's "Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure!" That made everyone laugh! I made her a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, decorated with Tinkerbell, as you can see in the pictures, and we also had her favorite "Cowboy" pizza from papa murphy's. What's really funny is, before everyone showed up for the party, Lizzy kept saying she was still 2, and it was not her birthday yet. She wouldn't say it was her birthday until everyone came... I guess she thinks the birthday party is the actual birthday! So... does this mean that if I don't have a party I never actually turn 30??? Ha ha ha. You can see in the pictures that my little sister, Angela, desperately needs a barbie doll for Christmas, as she thoroughly enjoyed playing with Lizzy's. On a side note: if anyone is interested in the technique for how I made the tinkerbell, I put directions for it on my recipe blog:

Monday, November 9, 2009


So, my homemaker battle has been floor cleanliness. Jason's pet peeve is dirty floors. He doesn't care if the beds aren't made, or if the dishes aren't done... but he HATES dirty floors. Of course, I have an almost-3 year old and a 15 month old, so they dirty my floors at least 3 times a day, and sometimes I just don't have the energy to sweep and mop one more time before Jason gets home from work! Anyway, I am a big informercial watcher (it's a secret vise that happened when I was up doing middle of the night infant feedings and care) and I got 2 WONDERFUL things off of informercials that I actually found worth sharing with all of you in the internet world. The first one is the swivel sweeper. The thing is AMAZING. Lizzy can use it, it is so easy! It swivels, like it says, and picks up stuff with rotating brushes in all 4 directions and on the corners. It also lies flat, so you can get it under stuff really easily. It is terrific for every day after meal touch ups. It works on both hard floors AND carpets, so when Rachel gets a hold of the kleenex box while I'm in the shower, and shreds 50 kleenexes all over the living room floor, it's no problem to clean up. The other wonderful invention that I got today is the shark steam pocket mop. Now this one is cool. I have tried traditional rag mops, the squeegee mops, and microfiber mops... they have all been terrible. We have travertine floors, and they have a marbled appearance, and are VERY hard to clean. I would often end up on my hands and knees scrubbing my huge expanse of tile floor by hand. When we first bought the house, the travertine looked beautiful, with a matte finish, but with a sheen to it. No matter how hard or much I mopped or scrubbed by hand, my travertine would be matte, with no sheen. In addition, I had to wait to mop until Rachel was napping, because otherwise, she'd follow me around, slipping on the wet spots and banging her head on the floor, or else crying behind the wall of chairs I made to block off the kitchen... it was just no fun. SOOOO, I saw that they had the steam mop at Costco, so I went for it. I mopped my floor with it today and WOW. It is amazing! It got everything up off the floor, and the sheen is back! It looks SO beautiful. I can't wait for Jason to get home and see my amazing floors! It's especially nice, because it dries almost immediately, so Rachel did not slip around on the floor. I also used it on our hardwood floor in the study, and regular tile floors in the bathrooms. They all came out gorgeous. Then, because I saw them do it on the informercial, I lifted the thing up and steam cleaned my granite countertops. Now that was cool! I also was able to steam clean the fireplace stones at the base of the fireplace, which were coated in nastiness from the kids, and have always been really hard to get clean. Anyway, enough informercial from me... if any of you are hating your constant cleaning the floor battle, I highly recommend these products!

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Recipes

I've just posted two amazing new recipes on my recipe blog: Spaghetti Bolognese (meat sauce), and chocolate chip cookie bars. Go check them out:

The cookie bars are soft, chewy, thick and wonderful - I think they're even better than eating cookies! The meat sauce comes out full of meat flavor, with really tender meat. It is a great meal because it makes a TON of food, but the ingredients are very cheap to buy! I paired the spaghetti bolognese with some ciabatta bread and spinach sauteed with garlic and a pinch of nutmeg. Try it out with your family!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We had a really fun Halloween! Jason's friend, Lane, came over to visit and watched the U of U football game with us. We grilled bratwurst sausages with peppers and onions, and they were really good football-watching "man food." I had bought some wings, a skirt, and a wand for Lizzy who had requested a Tinkerbell costume, and Rachel was going to wear the pumpkin outfit that Lizzy wore at Rachel's age, but Lizzy saw the princess costume that she had worn last year in the closet, and suddenly she wanted to wear that! So, Lizzy was a princess again, and Rachel wore the Tinkerbell costume! Jason took the girls out trick or treating, and I gave out candy. The girls really enjoyed trick or treating, although Lizzy was a little scared of some of the other kids' costumes! Here are some pictures of the girls in their costumes; with the pumpkins we carved; and a picture of Rachel with her first pigtails!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phone Pictures

We took the girls to Gardener Village with Grandma and Grandpa Gale... here they are sitting with Grandma Gale... I mean, a witch.

Also here: Lizzy went "poo poo" in the potty for the first time ever!

Lizzy was so tired one night, she fell asleep at the counter while I was making dinner!

Lizzy and Rachel climbing trees at Grandma Susan's house.

Lizzy at the zoo.

The girls being naughty at church.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

At Last!

It is a special day today... Rachel has just slept through the night for the first time IN HER LIFE. Which means, for the first time in 15 months... I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. She has been a terrible sleeper... waking up to nurse anywhere from 2 to 8 times during the night. Letting her cry doesn't work... she just ends up waking up Lizzy, and making Jason mad because then he is up too, and she wouldn't ever accept a substitute such as a pacifier or bottle. She would forcefully throw those to the side and demand "nuss! nuss!" However, she is now at the age where I weaned Lizzy, because Lizzy stopped nursing except for nighttime, and Rachel has just started this too. Also, my milk really dried up when Lizzy stopped nursing during the day, and the same thing has happened this time. When Lizzy dried me up, I layed in bed with her the night I stopped nursing her and just cuddled with her and told her the milk was "all gone." She whimpered and cried a sad cry, but then went to sleep after 15 minutes, and never nursed again. Rachel, I did the same thing last night, and she cried a MAD cry for 30 minutes. Boy, was she angry! We'll see how she does tomorrow... but this could be it! After 3 years and 9 months of being continuously pregnant, nursing, or both(!!) I am so ready to be done.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Last Week of CSA

Sadly, this week was the last week of the CSA. We received a letter with our boxes telling us that it was the end. I have had a really fun time experimenting with all these fantastic fresh veggies, and I hope I have inspired some of you to either join a CSA or grow a garden, and enjoy the variety at its best. This week, we got onions, potatoes, corn on the cob, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, cabbage, and jalapeno peppers. My friend, Celia, gave me some tomatoes from her garden, and so I was able to make some homemade salsa, fish tacos, and some freezer tomato sauce. (Click the links to access the recipes.) A week from Saturday, we get to go to East Farms (it's in Layton) and pick our own pumpkins (one per family member) from their pumpkin patch! So that will be fun.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CSA week 17

Tomatillos! I've never worked with them before... I'll have to look up what to do with them on Cook's Illustrated! Everything else is the usual: corn, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and an assortment of peppers and chilies. Fun stuff! It should be getting down to the end soon... bummer! Last year (according to my friend who convinced me to join the East Farms CSA) they received shipments until the last week of October.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Acorn Squash

One of the things we got this week from the CSA was an acorn squash that weighed one ounce shy of 2 pounds. Jason and I have never cared for winter squash when served by our parents in the past, and so I put off making it. But, I didn't want to waste it, so I looked up "acorn squash" on my favorite food website, Cook's Illustrated, and found their method of cooking it. (Cook's Illustrated is like the Consumer Reports of food - you have to pay for a subscription to their website; $25 a year; and they do recipe testing, equipment testing, and product testing that is all unbiased and really reliable.) Anyway, the acorn squash was a big hit. It tasted so delicious, and was wonderfully textured. Here is the article and recipe from Cook's Illustrated:

Tired of mealy, stringy squash that takes an hour to bake? We wanted it faster and better.

The Problem

After what seems like eons in the oven, it often lands on the table with little flavor and a dry, grainy texture.

The Goal

At its rare best, it is characterized by a sweet, almost nutty taste and moist, smooth flesh - a result that should not take hours.

The Solution

Believe it or not, microwaving took first place in cooking methods, presenting a squash that was tender and silky smooth, with nary a trace of dryness or stringiness. Hammering out the details was easy: Microwave on high power for 20 minutes, and the squash is perfectly cooked. It was best to halve and seed the squash before cooking; whole pierced squash cooked unevenly. Last, I learned that when added before cooking, salt seemed to better permeate the squash. Filling in the only remaining gap, equal portions of butter and dark brown sugar gave the squash ample - not excessive - sweetness. And for a smooth, cohesive filling mixture, combining the butter and sugar with a pinch of salt and briefly broiling the final product eliminated the nagging sticky glaze problem.

Squash smaller than 1 1/2 pounds will likely cook a little faster than the recipe indicates, so begin checking for doneness a few minutes early. Conversely, larger squash will take slightly longer to cook. However, keep in mind that the cooking time is largely dependent on the microwave. If microwaving the squash in Pyrex, the manufacturer recommends adding water to the dish (or bowl) prior to cooking. To avoid a steam burn when uncovering the cooked squash, peel back the plastic wrap very carefully, starting from the side that is farthest away from you.


2 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved pole to pole and seeded

table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar


  1. Sprinkle squash halves with salt and place halves cut-sides down in 13- by 9-inch microwave-safe baking dish. If using Pyrex, add 1/4 cup water to dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, using multiple sheets, if necessary; with paring knife, poke about 4 steam vents in plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until squash is very tender and offers no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 25 minutes. Using potholders, remove baking dish or bowl from oven and set on clean, dry surface (avoid damp or cold surfaces).

  2. While squash is cooking, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element); heat broiler. Melt butter, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in small saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until combined.

  3. When squash is cooked, carefully pull back plastic wrap from side farthest from you. Using tongs, transfer cooked squash cut-side up to rimmed baking sheet. Spoon portion of butter/sugar mixture onto each squash half. Broil until brown and caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes, rotating baking sheet as necessary and removing squash halves as they are done. Set squash halves on individual plates and serve immediately.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Count Chocula

My kids are dead silent at the breakfast table this morning because of.... Count Chocula! Usually they eat cheerios, or oatmeal, or whole wheat toast, but at the grocery store I saw that they had (for Halloween) Count Chocula... ah the childhood memories. So I bought a box, and served it to the kids this morning. Chocolate cereal with chocolate marshmallows. What more could a kid ask for? I ate a bowl myself... it was delicious. Its only redeeming quality is that it only has 110 calories per serving! But the kids are LOVING it. Lizzy already told me it was "so delicious"! And I've never seen Rachel eat so much instead of throwing it on the floor. On a side note: I got the yogurt burst cheerios last week, and Rachel would pick out all the pink yogurt covered cheerios and eat them, and throw the regular cheerios on the floor! Anyway, here's to letting the kids eat junk every once in a while!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CSA week 16

This week brought a ton of really amazing vegetables, and quite a few that I had never seen before! Such as a purple bell pepper, and a white eggplant! We also received corn, green onions, white onions, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, poblano chiles and an anaheim chile, green bell peppers, and an acorn squash. Wow. This time, Jason took the picture of the veggies, and he had me put my hand in the photo so you could judge the size of the veggies. They are HUGE!!

Happy Birthday to Jason!

It was Jason's 31st birthday yesterday. We had a fun day - he had it off work, and so we were able to spend the day together. We didn't really do anything in particular, just hanging out with the family. For his present, I made him a really fancy dinner, by his request. I made Steak Oscar, which is filet mignon steak topped with crab meat, asparagus, and bernaise sauce. I also made a 3 berry pie, ciabatta bread, and vegetable gratin. To do all this, I began cooking at 1:00 pm and finished at 6:45 pm. It was all incredibly delicious, though, and Jason loved it. My mom and Jason's friend Lane also came to the dinner. After we had all cleaned our plates, I realized I should have taken a picture of one of the beautiful plates to post on here, but... alas, it was too late. Anyway, take my word for it that it was a piece of food art. :) Ha ha ha!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Photo Session

My little sister, Katrina, is in to amateur photography, so I had her do a little photo shoot with
my girls... turned out cute, eh?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CSA weeks 13, 14, and 15

Week 13 we were in Las Vegas, so Jason's co-worker picked up our veggies and made good use of them. I was very jealous when I found out later that her load included peaches!! No fair. We picked up week 14 the day we got home from Las Vegas, and we received onions, corn, tomatoes, an eggplant, a cantaloupe, apples, and green bell peppers. I made the tomato and eggplant casserole with the tomatoes and eggplant. This week, week 15, we received potatoes, green onions, corn, tomatoes, a cantaloupe, green bell peppers, and a green chile pepper. I didn't take a picture this week, sorry! How about some chiles relleno, courtesy of Rachael Ray:


  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 6 ears corn on the cob or 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons corn, peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 palm full
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, eyeball it in your palm
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 pound spinach leaves, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 limes, zested, juiced
  • 1 cup shredded Chihuahua cheese, Asadero or Monterey Jack


Preheat broiler or grill pan to high.

Heat about 3 1/2 cups stock in a sauce pot with a bay leaf to boiling. Add rice, cover pot reduce heat to low and simmer 18 minutes until tender.

Place poblanos under broiler or on hot grill and char evenly all over, 15 minutes.

While peppers and rice are working, scrape the corn off the cobs or defrost frozen corn and dry by spreading out on clean kitchen towel. Heat 2 tablespoons light oil in a skillet over high heat. When the oil smokes or ripples add corn, onion, jalapenos and toss until the vegetables char at edges and onions are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in garlic, fire roasted tomatoes and season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook another minute or 2 then turn pan off.

Place the cilantro, spinach, scallions, lime zest, half a cup of stock and a tablespoon of oil in food processor and process into coarse green paste. Stir into your rice pot in the last 3 to 4 minutes of its cooking time.

Sprinkle the lime juice over the corn mixture.

Split the charred peppers open but not in half with small sharp knife then scoop out the seeds with a small spoon. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and stuff each split pepper with lots of the corn mix, top each pepper with 1/4 cup cheese and place back under broiler to melt and char the cheese.

Serve peppers on beds of green rice. Yum-o!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Las Vegas!

We just got back from a week long trip in Las Vegas. It was SO fun! We did a ton of stuff with the girls. Our hotel was the Tahiti Village. It's a condo style, so we had a bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen, and deck. That was good, because then we could eat a couple of meals a day in the condo and save some $$, and there was plenty of room for the girls to play. The hotel had a huge pool with little inlets and a fake sand beach, so the girls loved that, and then they also had a lazy river - that was WAY cool. They had innertubes and you'd float along the lazy river. There were little waterfalls and stuff that would spray you along your ride. We went to the pool and lazy river every day, and then part of the day we'd go to one of the big hotel/casinos, walk around, and eat a meal (usually lunch). The first day we got there, we had 2 hours before we could check in to our hotel, so we walked around the Caesar's Palace forum shops. Wow, those are AMAZING. It's like every single super high end fancy name shop you've ever heard of is in there - manolo blahnik, prada, etc... you could spend SO much money in there. We ate at the cheesecake factory there, and it was really delicious... we got the dulce de leche cheesecake for dessert! Mmmmm. The next day, we went to Mandalay Bay, because they have a huge aquarium and shark reef there. Lizzy is a fish nut, so she LOVED it. It is an enormous aquarium at the beginning, with tons of fish, jellyfish, stingray petting pool... the usual, and then the whole second half is one gigantic shark tank. It's got tunnels you can walk through with the sharks swimming all around you, and a gigantic viewing room in the middle of the tunnels with glass in the floor, too. They had hammerheads, and swordfish... it was so cool! Lizzy was just squealing with delight, and when a shark would swim overhead, she'd ask Jason to lift her up so she could touch the shark! After Mandalay Bay, we walked over to the Venetian and walked around and ate lunch at this little Italian "Tratorria" called "Reggiano." It was the meal of the trip... what a find! It was SO good. The best Italian we've ever had. First of all, they brought us bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, and I looked at the balsamic and realized it was REAL balsamic vinegar. Now, most of you have probably never had real balsamic. The stuff they sell at the grocery stores and serve in any restaurant that's under $100 a plate is going to be red wine vinegar with sugar and coloring added, and labeled "balsamic." The real stuff can only be found in specialty shops or ordered on line, it is EXTREMELY expensive, because it is only made in one little town in Italy by 2 manufacturors, and it has to be aged in wood barrels for 25 years. The real stuff is SO good... you could eat it straight with a spoon. They were selling the bottles of it at the restaurant for $20, which is a great price, so we bought one. Anyone who comes to our house for dinner can have some homemade ciabatta with real olive oil and balsamic for dipping. You won't believe how good it is. The day after that, we went to the Dolphin Encounter and Tiger Habitat at the Mirage. Now that was cool. You could walk right up to the edge of the dolphin pools and sit on them. The trainer would bring them over so they were right there in front of you and have them do some tricks. There was also an underwater viewing area where you could see them swimming around. Then, they had a big jungle-like area with tigers and lions. All kinds of them - the white ones and the gold ones. They were beautiful! They're the trained animals for the Sigfreid and Roy show. After that, we went to the Mandalay Bay seafood buffet and gorged ourselves on crab legs, shrimp, and fruit tarts! Ha ha! We didn't eat any dinner that night! The next day, we went to the MGM grand and saw the lions... that's a free exhibit and it was really crowded. The lions were just laying there, too, so it wasn't that cool. Then we walked over to New York New York and walked around there. That's a cool place! We ate lunch there at a little New York style (of course) pizzaria. We contemplated taking turns riding the roller coaster there, but it was $14 a ride, and so we decided not to do it. Same with riding the gondolas at the Venitian... it was going to be $16 a person for me, Jason, and Lizzy... so we didn't do it. The day after that, we went back to the MGM grand and ate lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. It's a lot like the Mayan restaurant, except it's all jungle-y, with gorillas, elephants, and fish tanks. The animals would all animate and make noises every 15 minutes, and in between there was a "thunderstorm." The kids thought it was half cool, and half scary. The food wasn't so great... and it was more expensive than any other place we'd eaten, so we were disappointed in that. We recommend going to the cafe and ordering a soda (except even the sodas were $3.50 a piece!!) just to see the atmosphere. After lunch, we walked over to Excalibur, because Lizzy was SO excited to see the "Castle." We also walked through Luxor so she could see the "pyramid." Those two are cool outside, but not too cool inside. The last day, we went to the Paris for lunch, at their fancy buffet. It was really good... all kinds of delicious French food, and crepes made to order... we ate lots of roasted meats... lamb, duck, pork, chicken, and some exceptionally delicious clams and mussels. There was lots of delicious bread, and we ate creme brulee and eclairs for dessert. No dinner that night either! We also walked around the belagio, which was so cool... they have an indoor flower garden that is amazing! We took the kids outside the belagio too, and watched the fountain show... it was super awesome, but Rachel was scared. That night we had one last time at the Lazy river, and then we drove home yesterday. It was really a great trip. Here are the photos!

At Belagio
By the Lazy River

Gondolas at the Venetian

White tiger at the Mirage

Dolphin at the Mirage

Playing at our hotel room.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CSA week 12

OK, this is the biggest bunch of veggies yet. I need to put something in the picture to show the scale of all this stuff - these veggies are ENORMOUS. The pictures don't do them justice. Anyway, this week we got an eggplant, a canteloupe, TOMATOES, green onions, green bell peppers, and a TON of potatoes. I still have a ton of potatoes left from last week too - good thing I can put them in our cold storage and they will last and last. I am excited to make Pasta With Eggplant and Tomatoes. Try it out - it's delicious! I hope someone out there is enjoying all these recipes I'm posting... or maybe you all just think I'm insane! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CSA week 11

After all the potsticker fun last week, I was looking forward to getting another head of cabbage to do something else with... and we didn't get any cabbage! Oh well. We got a HUGE canteloupe that is insanely delicious, 2 green bell peppers, 4 ears of corn, 3 cucumbers, green onions, lots of red potatoes, and 2 yellow summer squashes. I have been having so much fun with all of these veggies - finding new ways to cook and use them, and trying new veggies I've never had before... I highly recommend joining a CSA! I love getting my "surprise" veggies every week and then figuring out what to do with them all! I have noticed that the corn on the cob really needs to be eaten on the same day we get it, otherwise it is not very good. To combat this problem, since we get more ears of corn than our family can eat in just one day, I looked up how to store corn - blanching and freezing. For those of you out there who have no idea how to do this (like I did) here is what you do:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shucked cobs of corn and boil 5 minutes. Remove the corn immediately to a large bowl of ice water and submerge for 4 minutes. Thouroughly dry the ears of corn, place them in a large ziplock freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. When you're ready to eat the corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the frozen corn, and return to a boil, boiling for 3-5 minutes until heated through.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Won Ton update

I made the pot-stickers recipe with my cabbage as posted below, and they came out amazing! Here's a note - I was unable to find the round wrappers they call for at my grocery store - they only had these square won ton wrappers, which are smaller than what the recipe calls for, and therefore made more... a LOT more. I also increased the amount of filling, because the recipe calls for 3/4 of a pound of ground pork, and ground pork was sold in 1 pound packages, so I increased the whole thing by 1/4... anyway, I ended up with 75 potstickers! Yikes! Luckily, as it says in the recipe, you can freeze them, and then cook them up according to the recipe without having to thaw them or anything. The only thing I was nervous about was Jason... Jason went on his mission to Taiwan, and the pot stickers (in Chinese they're called *phonetically* sway-jowz) were his favorite thing to eat. They sell them all over the place at street vendor carts, and also frozen in large bags to cook at home. (If they're easy enough for a 19 year old missionary to cook up, you know they're a quick go-to food!) Anyway, here in SLC he's been extremely disappointed with the pot stickers sold at restaurants and in freezer bags at the grocery store - they just don't taste the same - but these... when he got home and I cooked him up a few and gave them to him with some soy sauce for dipping, I thought he was going to cry. He said they were perfect - exactly right! He said it was uncanny. So, I highly recommend them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CSA week 10

Cool new things this week - a HUGE head of cabbage, green bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, corn on the cob, and potatoes. Yum yum! Looks like Chinese pork and cabbage won tons!!


3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves (about 1/2 medium head)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 pound ground pork
4 minced scallions (about 6 tablespoons)
2 egg whites , lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
24 round gyoza wrappers (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water , plus extra for brushing


  1. For the filling: Toss cabbage with the salt in colander set over a bowl and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes. Press the cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture, the transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

  2. For the dumplings: Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep the remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap), follow the photos below to fill, seal, and shape the dumplings using a generous 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling per dumpling. Transfer the dumplings to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling; you should have about 24 dumplings. (The dumplings can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month. Once frozen, the dumplings can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer; do not thaw before cooking.)

  3. Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels; set aside. Brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of the dumplings in the skillet, with a flat side facing down (overlapping just slightly if necessary). Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the dumplings, without moving, until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to low, add 1⁄2 cup of the water, and cover immediately. Continue to cook, covered, until most of the water is absorbed and the wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until the dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Slide the dumplings onto the paper towel-lined plate, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly. Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and serve with scallion dipping sauce (see related recipe). Let the skillet cool until just warm, then wipe it clean with a wad of paper towels and repeat step 3 with the remaining dumplings, oil, and water.