Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Good Eats

We had a great Memorial Day weekend packed with lots of fun activities and lots of good eats. We didn't adventure too far out into the culinary world, but we did make some great food to eat outdoors. Oh, and our friends Stephen and Becky took us out to eat at Chelly's, our favorite mexican restaurant (sorry El Caz, for all of you from Manhattan, KS), which was awesome as usual.

Anyways, on to the food we made. I am not going to post recipes for everything unless someone asks me too. Most of this stuff is pretty straight forward, especially if I don't need a recipe to make it.

Lunch with Nate and Naomi (I forgot to take pics when we were eating, so these are the before pics. Better than nothing!)

Marinated Shrimp skewers (soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, oil, ground mustard, chopped green onions and garlic marinade) with pineapple chunks.






Italian Pasta Salad with feta cheese, pepperoni, cucumber, olives, red onion and tomatoes.



Blueberry Buckle recipe courtesy of this Real Simple food blog. This was awesome and really easy to make.



Nate had marinated chicken and venison skewers, pepper, mushroom and onion skewers, corn on the cob and another regular salad. Of course I have no pictures of this, but trust me when I say it was all awesome.

Our own Memorial Day dinner Monday evening.

More shish-ka-bobs! Hey, they're healthy and easy, and grilling is fun. They were just marinated chicken, andouille chicken sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, white onion, and pineapple skewers. I also made some Pillsbury breadsticks from a can (brushed on some olive oil, garlic powder, parsley and oregano to spice them up). We washed all of this down with a bottle of Dancing Bull Zinfandel.





On another note- look at our new baby tree! It is a prairiefire crabapple for all of those interested.




Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Catch-Up

OK, so I am waaay behind on this blogger thing. Let me attempt to catch up:

Taigan - Our New Puppy



As anyone that visits Camp Bacon already knows, we recently got a new puppy! His name is Taigan and he is an Australian Shepard (as far as we can tell). Taigan is not my favorite name, but changing it seems like an uncool trick to play on a five month old puppy. Maybe we can pull what we did to Jaik and give him a second name too ("Pooper" in Jaik's instance).

Taigan would be the spittin' image of Jaik if it wasn't for the affects of gravity on his ears and tail. I think Courtney found a mirror image of Jaik so I wouldn't dislike him (something I threatened to do). One unintended side affect of his appearance though is that he reminds us of Jaik at times, and that makes us sad. :(

So far, he is doing great and learning very fast! We regularly play fetch with him and he has learned sit, stay, lay-down and come. We have also been taking him to dog parks and he gets along famously with other dogs. This is something we are totally not accustomed to, considering Jaik hated other dogs. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this cute little fucker, as he is opening up more and more every day.

Stewart the Cat

Stewart, our relatively new cat, had been a total douchebag ever since we got him. If you walked within 10 feet of him he would run the opposite direction. The only time he even came close to us was at 4 A.M. I think he did it just to deprive me of sleep (I would stay up and play with him, trying to earn trust from the douchebag feline). We had pretty much decided that he was going to always be a total douchebag, and then we got our new puppy. Now, all of the sudden, he is a model cat! He doesn't run from us, never bothers me at night, and he sits on your lap during TV. Perhaps Folgers replaced my cat with another cat ... I dunno.

Baby Fish

Our baby African Cichlids are getting huge, well ... huge in relation to how tiny they used to be! We haven't lost a single one since I first noticed them (that puts us at 7). I'm sure there were hundreds at some time, but I never saw them. I still love to watch them, although puppy antics usually kills my zen moment. On a more annoying note, recently our tank has come under siege by snails. Unfortunately, those cute little baby fishies prevent me from dropping a big can of chemical whoopass. So, for now, I am reduced to removing the snails whenever I see them. When I changed my filters last week I found over a hundred infidels inside the filters ... um, gross.

Nathan and Naomi

Recently we got to finally meet Nathan's daughter Naomi. We went to Nathan's house for a Saturday lunch ... it was good! More importantly, Naomi was a very intelligent, well-mannered kid and Nathan is a great Dad! I can't wait to tell her some stories when she grows up. :)

Vacations and Concerts

I could go on and on about the exciting things we have planned for this year. Perhaps I'll just list them and talk about them more after they happen (I've mentioned a few already):

  1. New York- We are going to New York in 2 weeks! So far we have the following things planned: Times Square Walking Tour, Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour, Royals vs. Yankees, Belmont Stakes, Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour, Central Park, Big Apple Barbeque, Dim Sum restaurant, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, MoMA Museum, Gangs of New York Walking Tour, Brooklyn Bridge.

  2. Coldplay Concert at the Sprint Center- We're going with Frank and Lynn (the seats are good).

  3. Nine Inch Nails Concert in St. Louis - Really good seats (we almost got floor tickets but changed our minds at the last moment).

  4. Las Vegas- Vegas with the neighbors (sharing a hotel room). I hope I remember this trip.

  5. Taladega- This is tentative, but Courtney is working on a trip that will take us through Nashville and end up at the Taladega Nascar race!


Well Courtney, did I catch us up?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Brian, you need to get on the ball.

As fas as this blog is concerned, I write about all of our culinary adventures and Brian writes about all of our life adventures. However, as of late, this blog seems pretty one-sided. We really aren't just eating our lives away (though it may seem that way).

Things Brian needs to blog about:

1. Our new pup (our friends have even blogged about him!)
2. Our growing fish babies
3. Our cat Stewart who is now totally awesome
4. Our upcoming trips, concerts, friendly engagements- NYC, Vegas, Coldplay, dog parks, lunch get togethers
5. etc., etc., etc.

I am totally not complaining, just motivating.

FFF (Fun Friday Feast)

May 23, 2008 Edition

I actually had to work this Friday, so I decided to make one of our favorite Friday dishes. This dish is what Brian and I call an "all-time favorite classic". This dish is a very simple dish that I will return to time and time again. It is easy to prepare, prep can be done ahead of time, and it reheats like it just came out of the oven.

I have finally memorized this recipe after making it probably 20 times (you should see the recipe card!), but I am including the slightly modified (by me) original recipe that was given to me. I didn't really change a whole lot, but I am sure you can do a lot of other variations with this one.

Chicken Stuffed Jumbo Shells







Approx. 18 Jumbo shells (they look just like velveeta mac shells, but much bigger)
1 box chicken Stovetop stuffing, prepared
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I usually use three, I like chicken!)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup water or chicken broth
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt, pepper, and Tony's creole seasoning to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil shells until just done (do not overcook). Rinse with cold water and drain. Set the shells on foil or one the counter to prevent them sticking together.
2. Mix chicken, stuffing, sour cream, half the cheese and spices. (This is the step I usually do the night before and keep in the refrigerator).
3. Stuff shells with the chicken mixture and place in a casserole dish. (I a Pyrex smaller than the typical 9x13. I think mine is a 7x11; the sauce covers the shells better in a smaller dish).
4. Boil soup and water, stirring to blend. Pour over stuffed shells.
5. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
6. Bake uncovered approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted and heated throughouly.

Fun Friday Feast

May 9th, 2008 Edition (Sorry this is sooo late! Better late than never, right?)

This time it really was a feast! I made a lot of food, including dessert, which will not be pictured (I put the oven on broil to brown the top and forgot about it, so you can guess what happened; it was still very tasty). I had the day off this Friday, so I decided I had time to go all out. I made Chile-glazed Halibut with Avocado Tomatillo sauce, Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro Lime Viniagrette, Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (each recipe found on Epicurious), and Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce (from the Pioneer Woman Blog). Everything was amazing. I can't wait to cook another feast. This Friday we are in a wedding, so I won't be cooking. Hopefully I will be back on track next Friday!





Chile-glazed Halibut with Avocado Tomatillo Sauce
Glaze
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice
6 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Sauce
1 large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled
2 medium tomatillos (about 4 ounces), husked, rinsed, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce

Fish
6 5-ounce halibut fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
1 orange with skin, cut lengthwise in half, thinly sliced crosswise
Ground cumin

For glaze:
Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

For Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in blender; blend until smooth.

For fish:
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Make crosswise slits in each fillet, cutting to within 1/4 inch of bottom and spacing slits about 3/4 inch apart. Brush glaze over top and into slits. Place orange slices in slits. Sprinkle fish with ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Place fish, orange side up, on grill; cover and cook until fish is opaque, about 8 minutes. Using wide spatula, carefully transfer fish to platter. Let rest several minutes. Spoon avocado sauce onto plates, spreading slightly. Arrange 1 fillet over sauce on each plate and serve.

Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro-Lime Viniagrette
2 lbs. sweet potatoes (four, long)
1/4 fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro

Cover potatoes with cold salted water in a large pot, then bring to a boil. Simmer until slightly resistant in center when pierced with a sharp small knife, 25 to 30 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Drain well. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes with a sharp small knife and quarter lengthwise.

Prepare grill for cooking.

Whisk together lime juice, salt, and pepper and add oil in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in cilantro.

When fire is hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds), grill potatoes in 2 or 3 batches on lightly oiled grill rack (over coals if using a charcoal grill), uncovered, turning, until grill marks appear and potatoes are just tender, 3 to 6 minutes total.

Serve potatoes warm or at room temperature, drizzled with vinaigrette.



Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar (I added a little more too taste)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 red onion chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh dill (I added too taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth, then whisk in dill. Add in cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve chilled.

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
Crisp
1 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick regular butter, cut into small bits (I ended up using 1.5 sticks)
5-6 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (I used about 8 small peaches)
Zest of one half lemon
Fresh squeezed juice from one half lemon
2 Tablespoon real maple syrup, not pancake syrup (such as Cary's)

Maple Cream Sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 Tablespoons real maple syrup
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

To make crisp:
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add in cut-up butter and mash into flour mixture with a fork until well mixed and looks "crumbly". In another bowl mix together peaches, lemon zest, lemon juice and maple syrup. Pour peach mixture into small baking dish, such as an 8x8 glass dish. Sprinkle crumb topping over top until all is used. Cover with foil and cook in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 20-25 minutes until the top is crisp and brown. You can use the broiler to make it darker (but don't forget about it!).

For Maple Sauce:
Stir together all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until thickened and reduced by 1/3. Stir constantly so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. It should take about 15 minutes. Store in refrigerator and serve cold over warm peach crisp.

Okay, now I'm hungry. Must go look for something to eat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Great Food Blog

I just wanted to let everyone in on this awesome food blog that I just happened upon: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/

I love two things about this woman's cooking blog: 1) her recipes are super simple and use ingredients you will most likely have on hand in your kitchen and 2) she uses pictures to show you step by step how to make each recipe (even for something as simple as rolling a log of cheese in dill). This woman takes amazing photos, so everything she makes looks awesome. I will definitely be sampling many recipes from this blog.

Sample pic of one of her recipes- Olive Cheese Bread



The rest of her site looks entertaining as well, but I haven't had much time to look into it. She has a home and garden blog, photo blog and everyday life blog.

Thanks Pioneer Woman!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tornadoes and Boobies

I wrote a really long post about Tornadoes and Boobies this morning. Rather than publish it immediately I saved it as a draft. I always do this so I can read it an hour later (get a fresh perspective before I publish). I just came back and it's gone .... FUCK!

I don't think I have the patience or sanity to re-write the motherfucker, so I guess your imaginations will just have to run wild this week about what I was going to say (the subject should help a little). Anyone that visits Camp Bacon will also get a fair idea.

Peace out.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weiners everywhere!

A friend of mine had a bachelorette party this weekend and I figured you could never have enough man missiles at a woman's last night as a singleton, so I made two dozen sugar cookie johnsons. These ding-dongs were the closest we got to the real thing that night (no strip clubs this time around, although I do think the bachelor went to one...) so they had to be decorated just like the real things. Not only were they fun to look at, they were fun to eat. Definitely the best tasting schlongs I have ever had!

I used a basic sugar cookie to make the dough, and I bought a wong shaped cutter at Spencer's to shape the cookies.

Before the decorating:



Basic sugar cookie recipe:

3/4 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Cream margarine and sugar well.

2. Add vanilla and eggs; combine well.

3. In separate bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and flour. Add to wet ingredients slowly until thoroughly combined.

4. Cookie dough must be chilled until firm, or overnight.

5. Remove dough from fridge and roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. With cookie cutters or rim of drinking glass, cut out cookies.

8. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on oven. Check often to prevent over cooking or burning. Cool on baking rack when done.

The peckers ready to be swallowed:

Can you find all the different nicknames for a man's genitals in this post?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fun Friday Feasts



This post was supposed to be for last Friday, but I got lazy and didn't get it posted.  I also didn't cook anything for Brian tonight because he stayed home from work today, and I was trapped at work until 4:20 A.M.!!!  So here it is this Friday.


I know, cheesy title, but I am going to try my hardest to write up something every Friday for the meals I cook. Being the awesome wife that I am, before I go to work every Friday (from 1:00 P.M. to 11:30 P.M.) I make a meal for my not-quite-as-awesome husband Brian. Some of you probably think this is a little crazy, but since I work evenings every night of the week except Monday I don’t get many opportunities to cook, plus I know Brian loves to come home to a "surprise" dinner every Friday. These meals aren’t too fancy because they have to be something that can be reheated well (e.g. casseroles, enchiladas, etc.) but they are still good none the less. Plus, they usually make tons of leftovers. So every Friday I hope to be able to write up a post of what I made, and if for some reason I am not working, I will write about where we go out to eat or what we make together at home.


So here’s the first Fun Friday Feast:


Sausage and Mushroom Baked Ziti


When looking up recipes for baked ziti I noticed that most do not contain any meat or veggies, just cheese and sauce. I don’t know if meatless baked ziti is how the real Italians make it, but I wanted to add Italian sausage and mushrooms. I thought, "Screw the traditionalists, I want to eat pork!"



Ingredients
1 lb Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4)
32 ounce meatless sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves (eyeball it)
16 ounce package ziti pasta, cooked and drained
2 (8 ounce) cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese



Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large skillet, cook sausage, onions and garlic over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes or until sausage is browned, stirring frequently.
Stir in spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, and oregano, and mushrooms.
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir the sauce into the cooked ziti noodles.
Spoon 1/2 of the ziti mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
Top with the remaining ziti mixture, then remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Cover and bake 20 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes until heated through.