Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday's Meanderings

How was everyone's weekend? Ours was pretty fun - Superbowl Sunday. I made my DIY Nacho Bar again and it was a hit. I planned to take some pics but once I set everything up I think a bat-signal went out and the horde descended. Thankfully, they all said it tasted as good as it looked. I think I only managed two bites of the corn-green chili queso. Darn it. Everything went pretty quick, lol.

Side note - I make the homemade nacho cheese sauce in my big cast iron skillet. I love my cast iron. I'd use nothing but cast iron if I could get away with it. But, evidently someone (Bethany) had recently cooked bacon in my large skillet. Granted, she cleaned it, but there was a distinct bacon flavor in my nacho cheese sauce. Good thing everyone loved it! Time to strip that one down and re-season, I guess.

Sunday night I was on puppy duty. Bethy was out late (pre-arranged) so I was taking care of little Hunter. Little Hunter who had to be managed every hour on the hour. I gotta tell you, he's got it down to a science. Wake, drink, eat, (and eat, drink until it's gone), out to the yard to pee once, poop three times (yes, 3), play rabidly for 5 minutes, then sleep until it's time to start over. Seriously. Gramma was very happy to see Mommy at 7am. Lol.

And yes - for those of you who caught it... I'm back in the kitchen. It took me almost 2 weeks to be able to cook or prep anything in there after I lost Sadie. Knowing she wasn't sprawled at my feet, waiting for me to "drop" something, or just snoozing while I worked... I literally choked up just walking into the room. Superbowl Sunday was my big re-entry to cooking. I'm glad to be back at work in my beloved kitchen, but it definitely isn't the same.

Other recipes I've done recently include a very tasty lemon-broccoli pasta dish. The original was a vegetarian version, so I added some diced rotisserie chicken to it. It was fabulous!!! The hubby says he could have done without the spinach in it, and I could have done with more broccoli, but overall it got a full round of thumbs up. You can find the recipe HERE.

Longhorn Steakhouse Blue Ridge Salad
Another was more of a quick throw down... tried a lime-garlic skillet chicken (meh), and a wedge salad. Wedge Salad? Yeah, see, the hubby and I went out to dinner a couple weeks ago and I, having read the description on the menu, ordered the wedge salad. It was a romaine wedge salad. I knew this (again- having read the menu). The hubby, hears me order it and says, Oh! I love wedge salads, I'll have one, too.

The waiter serves our salads and hubby looks at his plate and says to me, what the heck is this?  I say, it's a wedge salad. He says, no- no, it's not. It should be a big chunk of iceburg. I say, well it was very clear on the menu that this was a romaine wedge. He says, well, I didn't read the menu. I say, well, there you go. And I happily bite into my very yummy romaine salad (though it did have too much dressing which I had to scrape off, but don't tell him).

Now, he has held this against me for two weeks, periodically reminding me that a "wedge salad" involves a generous chunk of iceburg. Finally, to silence him, I whipped up a lovely plate for him. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pics, but it was (to his delight) a quarter chunk of iceburg sprinkled with crispy fresh bacon, chopped grape tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, and a drizzle of blue cheese dressing. It was a thing of beauty. And it shut him the hell up. Lol.

I do have some recipes up and coming for you... including a Margarita Chicken Taco and a new Protein Yogurt Parfait. Still working out the kinks, but I'll have those for you soon.

In garden news... the Recipe For Fitness garden is doing well.  My potato plants have sprouted, the green onions, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce and beets have all popped up, and the replacements for the lamented tomatoes are in and thriving. I continue to blanket the beds each night - though the weather has gone back to normal, it's more to keep out whatever varmint is jumping around in my garden at night. Might be cats, but they haven't left any evidence.

My seedlings inside continue to grow.
I'll be moving the green beans and corn out to the garden tomorrow. Yay!
The peas should move in about a week or so.
The zucchini, too. Woot!

Hopefully they'll survive the transfer. Cross your fingers. ;-)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Well, DRAT!

So I had a bit of a miscommunication with the weather. Evidently Mother Nature wasn't quite willing to part with her frosty nights just yet. What a beyotch. And, evidently, I need to pay attention when I see my neighbors putting sheets and such over their plants. Hmm. Guess that means it's gonna get cold.

First there was the Great Wind on Sunday - practically blew us off our patio, and did blow away my pool umbrella (and all it's attached hanging lanterns) and my patio shade (actually got bopped in the head with that), lost a garden sign, and my gnomes ended up looking like the survivors of a frat party. But my plants did fine. A couple bent leaves on one of the artichokes, but otherwise all good. We cleaned up the mess, and carried on.

Then came Wednesday night. It got cold. I mean bring-the-heated-blankets-out-cold. As a novice gardener, I didn't even think about my plants. Thursday morning I began my daily routine of checking for moisture, growth, etc. And this is what I saw. Drat!!
You can hardly tell there are/were plants in there! Whaaaaaa!!!!!
Four tomato plants and one basil - gone. The basil actually had ice crystals on the sad, brown leaves. Serious bummer. But... I can fix this! I can run to home depot and replace each one - no one will ever have to know! So, I went about my day getting the necessary tasks completed, then headed to the big HD.  They've gotten to know me quite well over there. I'm sure that wasn't a smirk though, on the cashier's face, when I checked out with my new (bigger) plants.

I plot all the way home how I'm going to hide the evidence, and swap in these lovely new plants. I giggle and smile. And then brake to a screeching halt when I see my husband pulling into the driveway just ahead of me. Home early???? DAGNABBIT!!!! Busted!! Being the sweetie that he is, he begins unloading the car - and sees my plants.

"Don't you already have these in the garden?"
"Um. No. Well, yes, but..."
"You killed them, didn't you? How did you kill them already??? You're like a serial killer for plants!"
"Shut up. Not one more word out of you, mister. Not one."
"Laughing isn't words."

As I put away the other items I'd purchased (grocery store run), I wondered where my husband had disappeared to. I finally spied him in the backyard. I walked out there to catch him IN THE ACT of taking a photo and sending it to our kids. He spent the next two hours snickering over his phone.

Sigh.  I still maintain that Mother Nature killed those plants, not me. But, well, I guess we all know the truth.

On the flip side of that, the other plants I put in are doing great, and my turnips are sprouting like crazy, my onions have poked through the soil, and... I have 3 little asparagus spears growing! This is especially exciting because, it turns out, I planted my 32 asparagus crowns upside down. Face-palm. Yep. I did. Oy.

In other news, Bethy got a dog. She's wanted her own pup for years, and we finally gave in. On Sunday she and I drove out to pick him up - he's a sweetheart! 7 weeks old, boxer/lab mix. She's named him Hunter, and though she handles his care, I get to puppysit for an hour or so each day :-)  I'm definitely not ready for another furbaby of my own, but playing with little Hunter is a joy. Just look at that face!

Foodwise... getting ready for Super Bowl Sunday. Personally, I watch for the commercials, not the game. But the food.... yep, that's my thing. Doing a nacho bar again this year... tortilla chips and halved mini-peppers will be the carrier vehicles for all things yummy. I'll have a crockpot of my Bison Chili and another of Chicken Verde (seriously easy - just chicken and a jar of salsa verde). I'm making Queso and Nacho Cheese Sauce (the queso is a new to me recipe, but the Nacho sauce I've made a few times - it's incredible!!!). Then of course, the gobs of toppings: cabbage, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno, olives, cilantro, guacamole, salsas, greek yogurt & sour cream, etc. It's an easy set up with minimal food prep, so it's very party-host friendly ;-)

Well, friends - there ya have it. That's the updated life of Chelle, lol.
Happy Friday!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Official Recipe For Fitness Garden!

I'm super excited to share my garden with you! Check it out!! The Recipe For Fitness garden is officially underway! I've spent weeks researching and preparing - what grows when, and with what, where to plant, what soil to use, what kind of beds... it's kind of mind boggling, lol. There's a lot more involved than just throwing some seed on the ground.  Yes - I am a gardening newbie, lol.  I've tried to grow things before. Had a snake plant I managed to keep alive for almost 10 years. Then it died. Had a fabulous basil that lasted 2 years. Then it died. I've planted basil, rosemary, even cactus. They all died. See a pattern?

I was actually banned from purchasing live plants by my family. I think when I place one in my shopping cart, it actually cries, knowing that it's doomed to certain death. But... This time is different. It better be. ;-) And those of you veteran growers - feel free to throw tips my way.

I'm in zone 9b - which means I can plant sooner than most of the country. It also means I'll be hitting the fires of hell in a few months (seriously - there's nothing good about 118 degree heat). My early spring harvest should be bountiful, and I've even put in perennials. If that's not hopeful, I don't know what is. I've got 32 asparagus plants in, that should reach maturity next spring. Four artichoke plants - same deal. Please, oh merciful garden gods, don't let me kill them!

In planning this, I made a list of the veggies I buy the most of. Figured that was a good way to build a practical garden. To that end, I've either planted or have seedlings growing, of the following: tomatoes (early girl, roma, and cherry), peppers, jalepenos, potatoes, onions, green onions, broccoli, lettuce, beets (lots and lots of beets!), cucumbers, carrots,  kale, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, snow peas, eggplant, strawberries, and a ton of herbs. I've also got a blackberry bush planted, and a dwarf grapefruit tree (can't have full size citrus in our HOA).

Knock on the cedar beds I built, this garden is going to rock! ;-)  Wish me luck!