Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

It was a beautiful day today so I wanted to cook something outside on the grill. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and it's very easy. So easy in fact that even after putting the food on the grill and then the grill running out of propane I was able to schlep it back inside and cook it all in a grill pan. Slainte!

Grilled Peanut Chicken
2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 dash ground cayenne pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1. Spray grill with Pam or light oil. Preheat grill on high heat.
2. In a bowl, mix together the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Note: I added about 1 tsp of hot water to the mixture to soften the peanut butter a bit and make it mix together a little easier.
3. Place chicken on grill and brush with 1/2 the sauce. Grill 6 to 8 minutes. Turn chicken, and brush with remaining sauce. Continue grilling 6 to 8 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Remove from grill using a spatula to keep crispy bits on the chicken rather than on the grill.

I served with grilled zucchini and rice. It was so easy and very tasty. Next time I will double the peanut butter mixture to serve with the rice or for dipping sauce.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baby Announcement!

My friend Tami had a baby girl about 2 months ago and I got to make her birth announcements. I think they turned out pretty cute!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

This week's recipe I also make every year for St. Patrick's Day. I spent the summer of 2000 in Ireland and ate this incredible brown bread just about every day for breakfast. It is dense and very hearty. It's also very easy as there is no yeast and nothing has to rise. Slainte!

Irish Brown Bread


3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup oats (I use Quaker Oats)
1.5 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp molasses

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. I use my stand mixer and use that bowl for my dry ingredients.

2. In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk and molasses. 3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. I do this using the dough hook. The dough holds onto the dough hook when it is thoroughly mixed.
4. Lightly knead the dough 3 or 4 times on a floured surface. It can be sticky so add more flour if needed. Divide the dough into two rounds and score an X in the top about 1 inch deep using a knife. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake another 25-30 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and let cook on rack. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces. The bread is good warmed or toasted.

I made this recipe quite a bit before I had a stand mixer. It's tougher to make because it is hard to stir bread dough, but it can be done. If you have a stand mixer, use it because it is so simple - no heavy mixing needed!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Yesterday after work I was on my way home and pulled up alongside this old jeep-type thing at a stop light. I didn't really think anything about it until the palm tree sticker caught my eye. It wasn't just any ol' palm tree sticker though.

Please excuse the extremely dirty windshield of my car and the mutant bug that decided to dive bomb the window. That's beside the point. What is someone in 2009 driving around with a swastika on their car? Is that even allowed? That just disgusts me. The driver's window was open and it took every ounce of my being not to ask him what it meant, but I figured someone ballsy enough to drive around with a swastika on their car would also be ballsy enough to pull out a gun and shoot me, so I decided against inquiring. But really, who does that?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
It just so happens that this week's Tasty Tuesday is a recipe that I make every year for St. Patrick's Day. Actually, I made it this weekend for my St. Patty's Day party on Saturday, but that's just because I'm too busy to make it during the work week. It sounds a little strange, but it is fantastic!!!

Steak and Guinness Pie


1 pie pastry for double 10-12 in. pie
1 2-lb Round steak
1 TBSP Flour
1 TBSP Brown sugar
1 TBSP Raisins
1 small-med onion
1 bottle Guinness stout
8 Slices bacon
3 TBSP shortening

1. Cut the steak into bite sized cubes, roll in seasoned flour, and brown in the shortening with the bacon, chopped small.

2. Place the meat in a casserole, peel and chop the onions, and fry until golden before adding them to the meat. Add the raisins and brown sugar, pour in the Guinness, cover tightly and cook in a very moderate oven (325-350F) for 2 1/2 hours.

3. Stir occasionally, and add a little more Guinness or water if the rich brown gravy gets too thick. Meanwhile, line a deep pie dish with half the pie crust: bake it:

4. Add the Guinness/beef mixture from the casserole, cover with the top layer of pie crust, and bake until finished, probably about 10 more minutes.

Jason was my brilliant sous chef as he made the pastry look beautiful! Really, this dish is so tasty it's not even funny. After attending my party a few years back my friend Amy asked for my recipe and later that year made it for a family get together. The family had an "appetizer contest" and she made Guinness Pie for it. She won the contest with my recipe! It's a prize winning pie and worth a try.
Another delicious St. Patrick's Day recipe next week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Getting Ready for St. Patrick's Day

This weekend I am having my almost annual St. Patrick's Day party. I'm not much of a holiday decorator, with the exception of Christmas, but over the years I have acquired many St. Patty's Day gifts that I put out for a festive party. I will share more with you later, but when I pulled out the box of decorations the other day, this one made me laugh out loud (just like it does every time).






Wait for it...I promise it's worth it!










That's right, it's a leprechaun toilet seat cover and rug. Once a year this leprechaun comes out of the garage and has a seat (ha, ha, get it?) in my guest bathroom. I even laugh when I get it set up. He is cute, but does sometimes frighten the guests who aren't expecting him to be there. This guy was a gift from the one and only Jason from The Jason Show. Every year he reminds me to put it out, but seriously how could I possibly forget the toilet seat leprechaun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Little Painting Fun

A couple of weeks ago I bought a new travel watercolor set. I had used most of the paints in my last one and wanted to be at full capacity for my return to Italy at the end of the month. This weekend I got to play with it a little bit.
Here it is all tiny and compact. It's a Winsor & Newton travel set which makes middle of the road water colors, not too pricey but still pretty decent.

The top of the box comes off and can be used for a water dish. Then the box can be opened. To start, there is a small water bottle/palette, a small sponge, some additional small fold-out palettes, and a small paintbrush (which isn't that great, but will do in a pinch).

The palettes fold out and there are 12 pan watercolors.

And here's what it should really look like after some use.

I played around with the colors since I accidentally threw away the box that told me what colors are inside.

I pulled up some pictures of my previous trip to Italy and did some sketches and color washes to get used to the paints. I am getting more and more excited about this trip. Since we are traveling around by car I am hoping to have time to just sit with a coffee or a glass of wine and just sketch the incredibleness around me.
The island of Burano in Venice. I think this is my most favorite place in Italy. I can't wait to return.

A small bridge in Venice.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Target of My Very Own...Updated

Please note that my Target is not a Super Target, it is just regular, old Target, but it's brand new. So those of you from the other side of town really needn't bother to come over here. You've got your own! :)

Isn't it pretty?
I've been dreaming about it for a couple of years now and finally, this week, a new Target store opened up on my side of town, just a mile or so away from my house. My side of town has never had a whole lot (restaurants, shopping, etc), but a couple of years ago plans went into the works for a new shopping center just a mile or so from my house. It took forever...even after many of the other stores opened up last year, Target still hadn't opened. We received a mailer a couple of weeks ago saying that the store would open in March. This morning my friend and coworker Cori told me that it had its soft opening on Tuesday and is now open! Yay!

Today, after work and happy hour, I stopped by the new Target on my way home. I am just giddy with excitement. It will no longer take me one-half hour to get to Target anymore (even though the Target across town is only about 6 miles away, because of traffic and 40 million traffic lights it takes forever to get there). Cori told me that it was so nice, not very crowded, and the baskets moved "like heaven." When I arrived this evening, the parking lot was pretty crowded - obviously others had also been filled in on the new opening, but the store was so clean, the staff was very friendly, and the basket did move very smoothly.

I'm so happy that I can now shop at one of my favorite stores and I don't have to be gone half the day to do so! Yay!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Rules of the Road

Did I tell you that I'm traveling to Italy over spring break? I can't remember if I have mentioned it yet. If not, I am. After spending a few days in Rome, we are renting a car and driving through Tuscany to Siena and Florence, then over to west to visit Cinque Terre and Genoa, and finishing up by going east and ending up in Venice for a few days before flying home. We've never driven in a foreign country before (thank goodness they drive on the same side of the rode as we do) so I've been reading up about it in the travel books and online. On one of the websites, a "helpful hint" struck me as funny. "Unlike in America, the left lane in Italy is used as the passing lane. Expect honks, light flashes, and obscene gestures if you choose to travel in the left lane."

Hmm, did the laws on America change when I wasn't looking? I remember from Driver's Ed in high school that the left lane is the passing lane, however every time I am on the freeway I am unable to use the passing lane to pass as is is being used by another driver who has decided to drive right alongside the car in the 2nd lane. Maybe the laws did change, so I checked out the California DMV website and downloaded that little paper booklet with all the driving rules in it. Low and behold, the law is as I remember it...
"If you choose to drive slower than other traffic, do not drive in the 'No. 1 Lane'. Always move to the right when another driver is behind you and wishes to drive faster."
I find it funny that even though it is a law, at least in California, it is a law that is broken SO often that it warrants a mention on a website about driving in another country.

Driving slow in the fast lane is probably one of my biggest pet peeves (I do have many) and I think the thing about it that makes me the most crazy is that so many people do it on purpose. I can't tell you how many times I have been driving in the fast lane (passing other cars) and have watched a driver drive onto the freeway, move his or her way over three or four lanes of traffic into the fast lane (usually in front of me), and then travel no quicker than the cars in the other lanes.

From my reading, the "get the heck outta my way" road rule seems to be strictly enforced in Italy. I like that sound of that and may just have to stay there.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

Oh for frick sake!!!
I didn't get to watch The Bachelor last night. It's on way past my bedtime. This morning I woke up without a though about it, knowing that I'd watch it when I got home from work this evening. I found myself saying, "No, no, don't say it, I don't want to know what happened, I haven't watched it yet!" all day because everyone was abuzz about the events on The Bachelor. Of course they were, Chris Harrison, the host said it was going to be the most dramatic finale in the history of the Bachelor, even though, as Cortney reminded me he says that at every rose ceremony.

I got home from a board meeting this evening, later than usual. I still have about 150 pages of my bookclub book due for Thursday, but instead of reading I just HAD to watch this show. To make a long two hour episode short here's what happened in the episode in one run-on sentence. Melissa visited Jason's family, they liked her but didn't like that Jason hadn't met her parents yet, then he brought Molly home to the family and they loved her, so then Jason had one last night with Melissa, then with Molly, then Deanna came back and said she made a mistake and, without any drama at all, he basically told her to suck it and send her on her way, he found the ring, cried a little before and during the rose ceremony where he told Molly to hit the road since he was in love with another which was Melissa so he proposed to her, she said yes and then Jason, Melissa and Ty jumped in the pool together. What a big bunch of bologna that was! On the "After the Rose" show, the host, very seriously, again said that it was going to be a dramatic show. Jason came on the show looking very somber and proceeded to tell the host that things had changed between him and Melissa, he realized that the chemistry really wasn't there, and that he was still in love with Molly! Ya, what a crock, huh? Melissa called him a bastard and told him she never wanted to talk to him again.

Then the host brought out Molly who said she still thought about him every day and wished that he would change his mind. Well, guess what Molly, he did! He came back out and told her that he was still in love with her. She was, of course, shocked, but the emotion that concerned me more was that she was happy about it.

I really liked Jason in the last season and this season he was OK, kind of boring, but OK. After the last few episodes though, I want to kick his ass. Talk about commitment phobia. No wonder his wife left him! Plus I don't think I've never seen a man cry as much as this one does. I kept yelling, "Stop being such a baby!" at the TV. Of course, there's nothing wrong with a man crying but this one does it A LOT!

Happy Wife wrote an open letter to him, check it out. Whatever you do girls watch out for this one. I'm pretty desperate some times, but even I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole! What a loser!

Tasty Tuesday

We had about a week of cold weather and I like soup when the weather is cold. This is a potato cheese soup that is very easy and very tasty. Slainte!

Potato Cheese Soup
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons steak seasoning (I used Montreal steak seasoning)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheese (I use sharp cheddar)

1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine potatoes, carrot, celery, water and salt. 2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Once tender, stir in milk.
3. In a small bowl, combine melted margarine, flour, steak seasoning and pepper. Stir into soup, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until thick and bubbly.
4. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

I topped with cheese and a little Tastefully Simple Bacon Bacon. It refrigerates well and tastes great as leftovers too!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bachelor - 8 Episodes Down, 1 To Go

I know, I know! I must be a glutton for punishment, but I just can't help myself with trashy reality TV. This past week's episode was a reunion-like show that they do every time. After the bachelor (or bachelorette) narrows it down to his/her final two, they get all the rejected contestants together for a discussion about the season up to that point. Of course, I watched it, waiting for something exciting to happen. It didn't. Not much anyway, but the host did asked Jillian (my pick for Jason) if she'd be willing to be the next Bachelorette. She said she would. Maybe she'll find someone even better than that Jason.

The host said that the season finale (Monday) is "the most dramatic event in Bachelor history." Well that sounds exciting, doesn't it? I know you are all waiting with bated breath! Don't deny it.