Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Repurposing an old liquor bottle, AKA the girl is crafty like ice is cold!

Whenever I visit my Dad, he gives me something he randomly found in the basement and doesn't want. Most recently, it was an unopened bottle of Galliano. He had no idea where it came from, probably a Christmas gift from someone at work. He also had no idea WHEN he got it, so who knows how long it was sitting in the basement before he unearthed it.

Not one to pass up free booze, I took it home. Husband and I went straight to the internets. I don't know about you, but I'm not drinking anything remotely resembling urine before doing my research. Wikipedia says its 30 ingredients include "star anise, Mediterranean anise, ginger, and citrus and vanilla." Anise means Sambuca, which means black liquorice, which means... barf. I tried it anyway, and just wasn't a fan. My Sambuca-freak husband didn't like it either, so I didn't feel too bad about dumping it.

I liked the bottle too much to throw it away, so I decided to make it into a decoration.

empty galliano bottle

Yellow glass beads. Some of them were too wide to fit through the bottle opening, so I have a bunch leftover. No idea what to do with them. Any ideas?
yellow glass beads

Throw in a couple of fake gerbera daisies (I think).
the finished producttop shot

I think it's cute! The beads are not quite as bright as the liquor, but that's ok. It's on the dining room table now, but I might move it outside when it gets warmer. It's pretty sturdy, so I don't think it'll blow over too easily.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

6,000 chicken fajitas, please.

Don't lie, you know you always pronounce it "fah-jye-tuhs" like Peter Griffin.

Gentle reader and friend Erica answered my plea for easy recipes and came through with chicken fajitas. They were definitely easy, and very tasty!

Erica's Mom's Chicken Fajitas
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup mild garden salsa
  • 1 1/2 cup peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions or onions
  • 2 tbsp oil of choice (I used canola, it's what we had in the pantry.)
  • 8 8" tortillas, warmed
  • toppings! (guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc.)
  1. Cut chicken into thin strips.
    Raw chicken is GROSS. I didn't cut it as thin as I probably should have because I wanted the experience to be over with.
    sliced chicken, pre-marinate

  2. Marinate the chicken in the salsa for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
    Crap, should've read that part before I decided I was starving.

  3. Slice peppers and onions.

    Pepper fetus!
    pepper fetus!

    sliced peppers

  4. Cook peppers and onions in skillet over medium high heat in oil for ~5 minutes.
    peppers and onions

    Husband chopped up a few cloves of garlic and threw them in after I took this. We are garlic freaks.

  5. Remove peppers and onions (and garlic) with a slotted spoon.

  6. Dump chicken into skillet.

  7. Cook, stirring constantly until meat is cooked.
    See above about being starving and not cutting the chicken into thin enough strips. I was getting cranky around this point.
    cooking the marinated chicken

  8. Add peppers and onions (and garlic) back to skillet, heat through.
    added the peppers and onions back to the skillet

  9. Serve in tortillas with your toppings!

    In case you don't know how to fold a tortilla.
    how to fold a tortilla

    I've made guacamole before, but didn't feel like it this time. Guacamole in a pouch just seems... wrong.
    guac in a pouch
The best part... leftovers! This is only half. I actually tripled the recipe so we could eat them for lunch all week.
Big thanks to Erica! I'm feeling much more confident in my cooking abilities now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A cry for culinary help, and adventures in cleaning (with product reviews!)

Well, I haven't written here much, have I? Honestly, I feel I've been a big fat domestic failure lately.

I haven't tried to cook anything since the corned beef. I want to, but where do I start? We have so many cookbooks, and there are so many recipes online, I feel overwhelmed before I even begin! If you have a fantastic (and EASY!) recipe for a novice like me, please post it in the comments!

To give myself some credit, I have been cleaning a lot. Our residence has never been cleaner in the 8 or so years since Husband and I started shacking up. Former apathy has been replaced with annoyance every day when I find his coffee drip stains on the counter.

Other highlights:
  • Clorox's Green Works natural bathroom cleaner is fantastic! I use it on everything in the bathroom! It also cleans the mirrors without leaving streaks. I'm so stoked to not have to buy a separate glass cleaner. Another plus, it smells way better than other cleaners.

  • Swiffer WetJet is on my shit list. It doesn't pick anything up, just pushes it around. Maybe I'm doing it wrong?

  • I cleaned the microwave today, but only because my lunch went boom. Chicken was everywhere. I've nuked chicken before and this has never happened, so... I got nothing. It looked like the Bodies exhibit exploded in there. The horror...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Adorable pet tags on Etsy!

I like to support local and/or small businesses whenever possible. When we moved, I had to get new tags for our cats. Rather than get the usual mass-produced engraved plastic discs, I wanted to try something new.

Say hello to my little friend, Etsy! I found some adorable hand-stamped metal tags by seller PoochyCouture. The seller was super-fast, and my babies were sporting their new tags in no time.

Lenny. Phone number is at the bottom and blurred out (sorry, stalkers).
It’s hard to see, but there’s a little skull and crossbones in the middle.

Chloe. Phone number’s on the back.

St. Patrick's Day: Corned beef & veggie-o-rama

St. Patrick’s Day may mean green beer for some, but I’m all about the corned beef! I would eat it all year-round, and sometimes I do :P My dear husband has always prepared it for us, but I wanted to give it a try. I’ve been told it’s nearly impossible to screw up, so why not?

We wanted leftovers for the rest of the week, so I had to buy a cut big enough to last a few days. I settled on a 4-pounder. I also bought little red and gold potatoes, carrots and cabbage.

Supermarket shenanigans were still in full effect. I was able to find everything I needed this time, but the checkout area was completely different. A red velvet rope separated the customers from the registers, guarded by an employee who *ushered* me to a cashier’s lane. What? Thankfully, the weirdness got canceled out by the fact that everyone who works there was so gosh darn nice. I just moved here from Long Island, I'm not used to friendly people!

How to prepared corned beef and vegetables
(according to package)

  1. Trim fat from corned beef.
    You’re kidding, right? Corned beef by nature is half fat. I hacked off the obvious hunks until I had a baseball-sized pile of fat. That grossed me out enough to stop.

  2. Place corned beef in large pot and cover with water. Add spice packet and bring to a boil.
    Ever wonder what’s in those spice packets? Check out the ingredients if you’re curious.

  3. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours.

  4. Add carrots and potatoes, cook for 10 minutes.

  5. Add cabbage, cook for 20 minutes.

  6. Drain, cut and serve!

    Those are my husband’s hands, by the way. Just in case you thought I had man hands.

The meat was delicious! It practically melted in my mouth. The carrots and potatoes were the perfect consistency. Cooked, but not soggy. The cabbage could have cooked longer; some pieces were almost raw. Next time, I’ll buy less vegetables. I still have half a bag each of the potatoes, and one head of cabbage was just way too much.

I bought these two humongous whoopie pies for dessert. Fun fact: Whoopie pies are also known as BFOs, or Big Fat Oreos. I of course automatically assumed the F stood for something else. Whoopie pies are basically two soft chocolate cookies with a creamy filling. This particular filling was cake frosting, and it was waaaaay too sweet for me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lowfat Spinach Dip: Strong til the finish, 'cause I eats me spinach.

"One man's poison ivy is another man's spinach." -George Ade

My in-laws came to visit a few weeks ago. Since I don’t work Fridays, I was charged with the grocery shopping. It took FOREVER. The local supermarket has been remodeling since we moved here, so every time we go, everything’s in a different place. I got so frustrated, I just started throwing things in my cart until I had enough food to feed the Duggars on Thanksgiving.

I had some time to kill before The Husband got home from work and his parents arrived, so I got started on the spinach dip.

Light Spinach Dip

Makes 3 cups
  • 12 oz lowfat cottage cheese
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup dry vegetable soup mix (Works out to 1/2 a packet, I used the whole thing because… what else do you do with 1/2 a packet of soup mix?)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh onion (Unless you have need for the rest of the onion, feel free to substitute with dried.)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 12 oz water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  1. Process cottage cheese in food processor or blender until smooth. Place in bowl and set aside.

    I’m not embarrassed to admit it took me 10 minutes to figure out I had to lock the bowl of the food processor bowl before it would work.

    Don’t you hate when you need X amount of something but it only comes in Y size? What do you do with 2 extra ounces of cottage cheese? You eat it. Or at least try to. While my tastes have matured and I now like foods I hated as a kid (asparagus! beets! sweet potatoes!), cottage cheese? Still nasty. Its vomit-like consistency makes me gag. Blech.

  2. Press spinach between paper towels until barely moist.

    I wasn’t sure if I dried it enough, but it didn’t impact the consistency of the dip much.

  3. Add spinach and remaining to cheese mixture; stir well.

  4. Cover and refrigerate three hours.

The recipe says to serve with store brand Triscuits (guess where I got the recipe?), but I prefer lightly salted pita chips.

Guess how much we ate during their visit? NONE. But I ate it after they left. It was fantastic and not at all reminiscent of vomit. I’m glad I used the whole packet of vegetable dip because otherwise I think it would’ve been bland.