Saturday, February 28, 2009

Try This!

Cheddar Corn Chowder
This soup was in my new cookbook, or you can find the original recipe here.
I love it, and it is 4 year-old approved too!
(serves 10 to 12)

Photo: Melanie Acevedo

8 ounces bacon, chopped

1/4 cup good olive oil

6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

12 cups chicken stock

6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)

10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)

2 cups half-and-half

1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cobs and blanch the kernels for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn, you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and Cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gray Day

Yesterday we had enough sunshine and birdsong to give us all a little spring fever, and today -

Inside and out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Conversation in the Car

"Aidan, do you want to go to the library tonight?"

"I will if you promise to cuddle with me when we wake up tomorrow. If you won't cuddle with me, then I won't go to the library for three more days."

Needless to say, we have a basket full of books and I have a date with my son for tomorrow morning. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


This winter I am trying to be better about making sure we exercise on the days we don't get to the gym. I hate to admit it, but things just aren't the same as they used to be, and so I need to work a little harder in hopes to avoid/stall the inevitable downhill slide. I have been working more lately due to some staffing changes at work, making it harder for us to get to the gym, so Aidan and I have been doing alot of workout video's. He likes them all, but especially the ones "with the green lady." (That is is favorite color, so he is partial to the green workout clothes!) He has a little green mat too and it cracks me up to watch him try and balance, and he often corrects my technique during yoga.

I can't help it, we are raising one. bossy. kid.

One cute bossy kid.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Did I tell you

How much I love my new cookbook?

I also received a wonderful cookbook from James for Valentines. I must say it is probably one of his best gifts ever. Sometimes he has a little trouble buying gifts for me, but this one seemed to be so right for me it made me think think maybe he is finally starting to "get me."

The only problem is, I already owned the book. No wonder he thought of me when he saw it..... that book has been on our kitchen shelf for months. I used it at Thanksgiving and blogged about it, I have hauled it on a few road trips earlier this year, pulled it out to show guests........ so yes, I am assuming the book would seem familiar and remind him of me.

But that's okay. I was happy to exchange it for yet another cookbook I have been drooling over. This one. Mmmmm.

Thanks James.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Absent again

So sorry- I just have not been in the mood to sit at the computer.

Here are a few pictures from last weekend. We were supposed to rendezvous with Val and my mom, but Nana was unable to make it thanks to 8 inches of snow that were dumped on Nebraska. The rest of us had a good time though. We stopped at Auntie Andrea's on the way to Fort Dodge, and had Aidan had a blast feeding the animals and driving the tractor. He loves Andrea and has been asking me all week when she will be coming to visit. He is also quite concerned that Nana was snowed in and asks me almost every day if I think she will be able to make it here for his birthday in April. Cute.

In case you can't tell, he was whistling while driving the tractor. I hope Andrea's hearing is okay.

While at Great-Grandma G's we endured countless games of Bingo, UNO and Airplane. Now they know what I live with every day. Did you know we play UNO so often that sometimes I see UNO cards in my sleep????

Monday, February 16, 2009

Get this!

If you could only have one cookbook in your kitchen, this is the one you should have. Not only can you cook with it, you can use it for your bedtime reading because Lynne Rossetto Kasper writes in the same wonderful way she talks to us every week on the Splendid Table. I love, love, love this cookbook.

The best feature of the book is that all the recipes are uncomplicated and fast. And if you don't have all the ingredients the recipe calls for she offers you ideas of how you change your dish based upon either what is in season or in your cupboard.

So if you need some inspiration in your kitchen than this is the book for you.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One person's trash is another's treasure, right?

I found this old lamp in a "Goodwill box" in my Grandma's basement. It is an Aladdin lamp, and the feature that makes it special is that there is a light bulb above and then a little one in the base of the lamp so that the milkglass decor will illuminate when lit. The electrical cord was in sorry shape so James kindly rewired the lamp for me with a kit from Home Depot, although at the time I didn't know I could get a kit to authentically rewire here, because our rewiring job didn't include the housing in the base of the lamp. (That is a subtle hint, James, for if you ever need a gift for your wife.) The above website even has a picture of the same lamp, but doesn't say what it's value is.

Now the dilemma is a lampshade........ maybe I will have to make another trip to my Grandma's basement!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine treats

We made two kinds of treats to give away. First we tried this chocolate chip recipe. I have a standby recipe I have used for years and it is almost identical, except this one uses butter and shortening. Yum. Aidan added sprinkles to them all too. Lots and lots of sprinkles. But hey - it made him very happy.

We also made these meringue cookies from Martha Stewart. But instead of making sandwiches we added some chopped chocolate and a tiny bit of espresso powder. They are so light and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. And they are really easy to make. You should try sometime!


4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For meringue: Put egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla; mix until combined. Use immediately. (At this point we folded in 1/2 cup chopped chocolate and 1 tsp espresso powder)
Preheat oven to 200. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
Scoop a spoonful of meringue onto large oval soup spoon, and use another soup spoon to form meringue into shape of small egg. Use second spoon to push meringue oval off first spoon and onto parchment. Spoon 12 ovals onto each prepared baking sheet.

Bake cookies until they are crisp on outside but have marshmallow consistency inside, about 1 hour. Reduce oven to 175 if meringue starts to brown.

Turn off oven, and return meringues to oven to dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely on parchment on wire racks.

Ni Hao

That is "hello" in Mandarin, pronounced "Nee HaOW."

We're in!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I almost forgot

Today is the day we find out about Aidan's school. I could attend the lottery tonight but I am just not good at maintaining a poker face, and if we don't make the list, I am sure I will be shooting daggers at those who did, at least until I burst into tears because then we will have to come up with another plan! James has class so he can't go, but one of the teachers said she would call us with the news. Anyone who knows me knows I am not not good with suspense. I usually read the end of a book first and if I buy you a present I beg and plead with you to let me tell what it is.

A few weeks ago they only had 30 applicants, and now they have over 100, with only 75 spots available. James says those are good odds, but that still means 25 kids won't make it! Ooooh, I better sign off this post because I am starting to sweat and have palpitations at the mere thought of not making it in.

Happy Valentine's Day! computer is finally working again! So here is a little Valentine's treat for you! No, we don't have any major Valentine's celebrations at our house, I just always feel the house looks so empty when I take all the Christmas decorations down, so I started decorating for Valentine's. Aidan loves it too, and he has been bombarded with Valentine's cards, letters and packages form all his many Grandma's this week.

Here he is eating breakfast on his little Valentine's placemat he talked me into at Target last week!

And here we are making little Valentine's for all his friends. Now we just need to get them in the mailbox........ (that is where I always fail!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comfort food

Sorry I have been away. I don't know what I have been doing but I seem to have been soooo busy. And the few times I did try and sit at the computer, I was kicked off by a certain someone who needed it "for work" and other times I tried to sit down and blog I really needed to get work done, and we have also had alot of random days where our connection has been horrible and I have been unable to even get on the Internet. Very frustrating for me. I forget how much I rely on the computer for directions, recipes and keeping in touch with people. Today I planned to make Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese for some dinner guests and all day long my computer didn't work! Thankfully, right around 5:00 I was able to connect, otherwise I might have had to try a version I found in Cooking Light. I don't know.... some things just aren't worth "cooking light" and I believe real macaroni and cheese is one of them. I mean, how often do I really eat it? And considering the fact I spent about 5 hours today chipping ice off the driveway I feel I deserve it. (and I have sore, jell-o-y arms and blistered hands to prove it!) But the driveway is finally clear -other than the speedbump of ice at the end- and we have some delicious Macaroni waiting for us!

Martha Stewart's Perfect Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 12
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I did it.

My apologies to those of you who think beautiful wood should never be painted. I agree. Sometimes. But I also know that someday if we ever buy a larger home with a larger dining room, I would be motivated to strip the buffet and restore it to its original glory.

But right now, I am totally satisfied with the way the buffet looks. It is a perfect use of that awkward space. There are no more toy baskets and piles cluttering up the floor and catching dust bunnies because there is plenty of storage in the buffet for toys and movies. My only problem is I can't figure out how to work the TV and DVD player. Really. It took me 40 minutes to figure out how to play a 20 minute movie. But that is a whole different topic for another time. Maybe James can blog about that.

I had a bunch of yellow paint left from when I painted the stairs, and I found these knobs at Anthropologie. Perfect! Makes me want to take on another project. Kitchen cupboards maybe?

Oh - and for those of you who like History and weird information like I do, I found that my thrift store buffet was manufactured in Burlington Iowa in the early-mid 1900's by a company called Chittenden & Eastman. And if I ever found myself in Burlington I could go to the Public Library and search through all their old catalogues and find out exactly when it was produced.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Whistle while you work

This morning Aidan was trying to help me clean up the house before some friends come for lunch. He loves to vacuum, and he also has a newly discovered ability to whistle. So he whistled all around the house vacuuming. So cute!

Thanks buddy!

(He is also wearing a stocking cap, which he has been wearing for about 5 days straight now, including bedtime. It smells great. I don't mind though, because it is also hiding the hair we are trying to grow out, which I have to say isn't looking the best right now. He recently decided he wants to grow "skateboard hair" like the "big boys" we know. Too bad it is almost time for spring haircuts!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

And the winner is.......


I am so glad you stopped by! Thanks for the great tip on the Velcro too, I think it may beat my sticky-tack idea, b/c the sticky-tac got too cold and never worked.

Although I am not sure what you would need a scarf for down in Alabama...........

Thanks to the rest of you who played too. I loved reading all your random facts. Jenica, yours really made me laugh, and while I would like to say I have no knowledge on the subject, well, remember the Rodgers dog, Nibs?

So this wraps up my month of giveaway's. Thanks for adding me to your "blogroll's" this past year. I feel like I have been able to reconnect/stay connected with lots of friends and family, and it will be fun to see what the next year brings.

Thanks again to all who left comments, I would have loved to give you each a present. Maybe next time!