Friday, July 22, 2016

Pinterest may be killing me

So  this was an "off" Friday for me as far as the ministry goes.  I feel like on the Fridays I'm not in service, I should accomplish something worthwhile at home.

I'm not sure if this is really the right idea.  I end up killing myself (not literally, of course) with some tedious chore.  This makes my weekends tough.  Really, though, we are a couple who prefers to do nothing on the weekends, so maybe it's not too bad.  Just keep telling me that, please.

But Pinterest!  I both love it (recipes!!!) and hate it (cleaning!).  It makes me aware of ways to clean things I didn't really know needed to be cleaned and teaches me how to do it better.  Frankly, doing it all would be "better", right?

So I scheduled in my head that today was going to be Kitchen Day.  I told Sweet Husband that today was going to be Kitchen Day.  And you know what?  Today was Kitchen Day!!!!

It started with a bang!  I got to see something gross get clean right before my eyes.  I can show you.  It's really gross. Ready?


Greasy Dirty Vent

Squeaky Clean Vent

How'd you do that, you'd like to know.  Baking soda and boiling water! At least that's what I was supposed to do.  But I didn't have a stock pot large enough to hold the vent.  No problem...that's what my sink is for.  So I filled my kettle and put it on to boil.  But then this happened:

I actually saw the plastic melting.  This is is really a gross piece of kitchenalia.  I have this fairly new and definitely beautiful kitchen.  And then there is that ugly, disgraceful piece of poop on my cooktop.

NOT ANYMORE!!!  Meet Chantal (I didn't name was on the box.  I swear!)

She's so pretty...looks like she belongs in my kitchen.

So back to my icky dirty vent.  I poured what boiling water I could on the vent.  And it worked!  But not everywhere.  So out came my Blue Dawn and a gentle brush and the rest is history.  All the icky grease fell away.

Left my sink kinda dirty, but that's okay.  I cleaned, polished and shined my sink!  Things you didn't know you could/should do, right?  It involved more baking soda, flour, and olive oil.  (Not all at once...that makes bread.) In three discrete steps with rinsing and drying in between.  Looks pretty good, but not picture worthy.  (How did I know to do this?  You got it! Pinterest!)

I also cleaned the outside of my cabinets.  Don't get me wrong, I knew where there was some greasy smudges.  I was aware.  And I was mostly happy to turn the lights on so I couldn't see them.

But then I saw on Pinterest how to clean them.  And I had everything I needed.  Water, check.  Blue Dawn, check.  Something to wipe with, rinse with and dry with?  Check, Check, Check.  I really didn't have an excuse not to do it.  Except that I'm short.  And my cabinets go all the way to the ceiling.  I cleaned as high up as I could get on my tip toes.

Did you know you could you use Turtle Wax to polish your stainless steel appliances?  You can. I love the way my appliances look, but they are a bear to keep clean.  Drips on the dishwasher; fingerprints on the oven, microwave and fridge; and food splatter on the cooktop.  So I use Pledge mostly to keep them clean.  About once a month, I really clean and buff them.  Today, I actually bought Turtle Wax (previously I was using their Clean and Wax product...this time I went right for the big guns).  I think they look pretty good.  They'd look better if I could get my brawny husband to do the buffing for me.

Anyway, I'll sign off with a picture of the fridge.  Tell me what you think.

kristen out

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

DateNight--July 20, 2016

So in the midst of the crazy cleaning, I prepped a pretty good looking DN meal.

It actually started yesterday when I marinated the flank steak.  It's been in the fridge for about 30 hours now.

It kinda blends in with the granite, but that's really just the grainy mustard, basil and balsamic vinegar.

To go with the flank steak, I will be grilling sugar snap peas.  That's right, I said I'd be grilling them.


First I put some olive oil, lemon zest, black pepper and fresh thyme in a zip top bag and massaged it around.. Then I added my skewered snap peas to the bag and gently (you don't want to puncture the bag) massaged that.

When I take them off the grill I will toss them in this lemon juice garlic mixture.

I have never done this before.  I was determined to prepare them on the grill with the steak and saw pictures of something like this Pinterest.  Not exactly this recipe or method.  I'll let you know how it works.

Hubby always has to have potatoes with his beef.

These will roast at 425 for about 45 minutes.  Because I like them crispy, I will make sure that all the cut sides are on the foil.

(On a side note, are you understanding how much I really don't enjoy washing dishes?  Zip top bags for marinating, foil lined pans for roasting.  I couldn't make that work for dessert or appetizer.)

Dessert!  Chocolate Banana Mini Chip Cupcakes.


Total cheater here...this is a box cake mix.  I added my bananas (thawed from the freezer), 1 egg  and a bunch of mini chocolate chips.  They baked for about 22 minutes.  I think.  I checked them after 17 and thought I set the timer for an additional 3 minutes.  Turned out I set it for 3 hours!!!!  I think I rescued them in time.

Appetizer I have no pictures of.  I haven't made it yet.  It will be a caramelized onion and goat cheese flat bread.

We will have Manhattans (or maybe Martinis...have to ponder on this) with our appetizer and red wine with dinner.  Probably there will be whisky with dessert.  Usually is.

That's all from me.

happy cooking

Crazy Cleaning Day

I'm thinking maybe I need to change the blog title to a "Whisk in One Hand and a Feather Duster in the Other."  Not that I use a feather duster, but...

This trio has become a favorite of mine

I'll show you how I've been using them.

That's a cotton swab wrapped in a pre-moistened dusting rag.

A few weeks ago, I proudly realized that my house was well dusted.  Then I looked again.  The surfaces were well dusted but the bases of the furniture not so much.  And then there are the knick-knacks.

Don't even get me started on the baseboards.

So today, for he second week in a row, I crawled on the floor getting into the nitty gritty of my living room.  And if I happened to be near a base board, I gave it a swipe too.

Next Wednesday, I'll tackle the study/lounge/office room.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


My last post had nothing to do with food.  So I thought I ought to tell you what's been cooking in my kitchen.

Pineapple Salsa!

Technically, this is a no cook recipe, but you should see it anyway.   Fresh pinepple, pineapple sage (my herb pot runneth over with this), red onion, jalapeno, lime zest and juice.  Yum!  I made this yesterday with the plan to mix it with avocado and into the rice I will make tonight.  I think that will make a tasty side to for my Salsa Verde chicken.

Then last night I made roasted fruit for dessert.  I usually only make dessert on DateNight or for company.  Well I had the fruit, thinking my sister in law was coming over on Sunday.  She didn't and the fruit needed to be used.  This was a combo of peaches, strawberries and  blueberries.  I had a whipped some cream last week and a dollop of that with some toasted almond slivers made for a nice last minute dessert.  This fruit roasted with  brown sugar at 350 for 30 minutes. Again I say Yum!

I have definitely cooked more than just these 2 things and many of them can be seen on my Instagram page but this is what I chose to share right now.

happy cooking

Busy, busy, busy

I know that's not really an excuse to go 14 mos without a post.  I don't really have a good reason. Life just got in the way.

But I've made some adjustments to my weekly schedule.  I've followed it for the last 5 or 6  weeks and it feels like habit now.  It does continue to get tweaked, but for the most part, it stays the same.

Let me share my schedule.  This is what works for me.

Every day my husband and I start the day with some morning worship while we drink our coffee. This is one of my favorite things.  We sart together on the same page.

MTW and F I follow that with some personal Bible study.  And then I eat breakfast and take a nap.  I know.  A nap first thing in the morning.  I don't sleep so well at night sometimes.  I don't always fall asleep, but that time between 7:30 and 9:00 is allocated as such.

By 9, usually, I am ready to start my chores.

On Monday I tackle our bedroom and bathroom.  Now that the bedroom has regular attention (meaning I dust every week, not just change the sheets) I find that other bad habits have righted themselves eg I know longer hang my clothes on the dresser...they make it all the way to the closet. I'm proud of this.  Hubs would like the shoe garage under the dresser to go away.  We'll see.

Tuesday is about laundry.  I also try to make my personal appointments on Tuesday.  Does'nt always work. Not all the people I need to see are available on Tuesday.  This is also the day I run errands and go to the market.  Today, I'll leave about 1:45 and drop clothes at the cleaners, stop at the drug store. Then I have a dental appointment and I'll go to the market.  Dinner tonight is fairly simple...Salsa Verde chicken in the crock pot and Rice baked in the oven (best way I've ever made rice!  I'll tell you about in another post.)

In addition to being DateNight, Wednesday is also the day that I dust the rest of the house and vacuum.  Now that I've been at this schedule for a few weeks, this is a pretty easy day.  Depending on how elaborate DN is, I can do a deeper clean. Last week for example, I spent a loooong time with QTip and a pledge wipe cleaning the molding in my coffee table.  Once the surfaces are clean, you can't help but notice the dirt beneath. UGH!!!

Thursday, well Thursdays I do nothing.  Literally nothing. After morning worship I take NyQuil and fall asleep until it's time to get Hubby his lunch.  Did I mention that he works from home on Thurs?  He does.  The afternoon is all dozey until it's time for my shower before our meeting.  Dinner is always, ALWAYS, a frozen pizza on Thursday.

My Fridays change.  Every other I spend in the ministry.  As far a s housework goes, it could be mopping the kitchen floor or vacuuming the downstair entry area.  It might be that I have other errands to do.  Friday is my slush day, my catch up day.

That's what's going on with me.  Ciao!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Date Night May 13, 2015

It's Wednesday.  To most of you that means today is our Date Night.  Don't get me wrong.  It is.  And I think I've done a pretty good job with this one.

But Wednesday is also my "big clean" day.  You know, bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming.  This part of my day has really been an epic fail.  In part, I think, to the "pretty good job" I did with Date Night.  I only have so much energy, and this week it has been waning.   So I do the important things first.

Like make gravy, er Spaghetti sauce to you non-Italians.

By 9:25 I already had my sauce bub-bub-bubbling away

It looks good, doesn't it?
So I'm sure you've figured it out.  If I started with tomato sauce, tonight's DN must be Italian.  You would be right, it is.

Let me start at the beginning of our meal.



I do know how to make other drinks.  It's just my favorite.



What's that?  you ask.  It's Italian Bread Salad.  You toast some cubes of bread (a little EVOO, Italian seasoning for 10 minutes at 400) and toss them with some tomatoes in a simple red wine vinaigrette. 

You can see the thinly sliced shallot.  There is also a couple of finely diced garlic cloves in the mix. There really should be fresh basil, but I didn't have any and Dear Husband doesn't like herbs as much as I do.

I have some little mozzarella balls that I may add.  And I have some pretty glass bowls that I'll serve it in.


Getting back to my gravy.  I started in a way I never have before.  I halved a head of garlic and tossed it with about 1 pound of grape tomatoes in olive oil and  little salt and pepper. I roasted them at 425 for about 45 minutes.  When they were cool enough to handle, I dumped the tomatoes into my food processor and squeezed in the roasted garlic.  Then I let it rip.  YUM!

That was the first time I used, and then washed my food processor today.

Then I sauteed a diced onion in some olive oil, added my tomato paste, and a couple glugs of red wine (to the pot, not to me) and started adding my canned tomatoes and the roasted tomato garlic mixture.  By the time I was satisfied with my concoction, it had a bunch of herbs (including fennel seed...another new one for me) some parmesan, and some sugar.  I think it's a winner.

But, Kristen, you say, Dinner can not just be tomato sauce.

You'd be right, it's not.  I made braciole (braa-zhole).  This is an Italian "stuffed" flank steak. I have made this before but have always used a whole flank steak usually butterflied.  I did something different this time.

Let me tell you about the stuffing first.  It's grated provolone and parmesan cheeses, minced garlic and flat leaf parsley.  Bread crumbs, olive oil, and a little bit of salt and pepper.

So this time, instead of asking the butcher to butterfly if for me, I tried to do it myself.  This was not a complete disaster.  I ended it up with many thin slices of flank steak.  (This is actually more how my grandmother would it make it.  She could buy beef for braciole in her local market.  So far I can't.  I may ask Mariano's to help me out next time.)

As you can see from the pictures, you spread some of the filling over the slices of steak and then you tie them with butchers twine or impale them with tooth picks.

Then these little bundles of yumminess are seared in pan, the pan is deglazed with white wine and the whole shebang gets added to the gravy.  it then goes into a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes.

The filling was the fourth and final time I used and washed my food processor today.


Between making the gravy and making the braciole, I made dessert.

This proved to be a headache and frankly a pain in my back, too.  You see, I wanted to make a cannoli tart.  Okay, I did make a cannoli tart, just not with the crust on the website.  I tried.  It tasted great, but I couldn't work with it.  It was too sticky.  I tried to fix it but I'm not a baker.  There are things I can bake, and bake well.  This wasn't one of them.  

This was the second time I used and washed my food processor.  Have I mentioned yet that there is a bowl, a lid, a blade and insert-y thing on the lid that all have to be washed?  I'm not complaining, I just wanted you to understand that this isn't just like washing a spoon or bowl or something.

I decided that Pillsbury puff pastry would make a better crust.  I'll let you know if it was or not.

So then I used my food processor the third time to make the cannoli filling.   This tasted pretty good.  Actually, it tasted really good.  

Did I mention the chocolate chips?  There are chocolate chips.  And there is amaretto in the filling too.  Why did I bother making braciole?

That's what's been cooking in my kitchen...pretty much since 8:00 this morning.

happy cooking

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dump recipes and Tomatoes!

So I was a busy girl today.

My husband was home sick.  So I quickly rearranged my plans to be more available to him.

But, honestly, how much effort did you think that took?  More mental and emotional than physical.

So, what did I did I do?  I went to the market and bought the ingredients to make 5 (you read that right 1...2...3...4...5!!!) meals for my in-laws.  It's not really as much as I'm making it sound.  These are "dump" recipes.  See, I put all of the ingredients in in zip-top bags with some chicken.  They can be either baked in the oven (350 for one hour) or cooked in the crock pot (3-4 hours on low).  Really it as easy peasy...done in one hour.

But then....

Then, well what do you make of this?

Is it salsa?  Bruschetta?

Actually, it's BOTH!!!!

I realized a little while ago that my bruschetta and my salsa begin the same way. With Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Garlic.

Knowing that my meals for the next week included both bruschetta and salsa, I processed 10 cups of tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

It proved successful already.  Dinner tonight was Italian Sausage (which I grilled...I love keeping the cooking mess outside) topped with bruschetta. I just added some EVOO, balsamic, mozzarella and basil!

To make it salsa, I'll add jalapeno, cilantro, and chile powder.  Maybe a little cayenne, too.

They are both oh-so-good.  And oh-so-done!!!!

That's all from my kitchen.

happy cooking!