Thursday, October 28, 2010
Mini Poptarts! On a stick!
These were SO easy. It's just premade pie crust cut in squares filled with 3/4 cup strawberry jam, 1 tbsp cornstarch, and 1 tbsp water. And the glaze is just 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp milk, and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. They taste SO much better than I thought they would though, much better than a regular Poptart!
Matt has barely been home the last few weeks and I'm SO looking forward to tomorrow. We're carving pumpkins and baking the seeds, drinking apple cider, and staying up late watching these movies:
If you notice that none of those movies are actually scary it's because Matt is petrified of every scary movie. It's true, he can't sit through them! But I don't mind, I'd much rather curl up together and watch Charlie Brown than Freddie Krueger or Jason!
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground pork (Yes pork tastes MUCH better as meatballs! But it's hard to do with large meatballs, that's why I use half beef and half sausage in my big ones! If you're totally opposed to using pork that's okay but it won't be as good! At least do half and half or half beef and half Italian sausage!)
1/4 cup milk
1 slice bread
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1/3 cup fresh parmesan (not using fresh is okay)
salt and pepper
about 1/3 cup flour spread on a plate
For the ziti part:
16 oz ziti
4 cups sauce (I use homemade sauce but you can use pretty much any jarred sauce, just don't get anything too sweet!)
1 lb fresh mozzarella (it HAS to be fresh!)
1/2 cup fresh parmesan
a pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
SO, first the meatballs:
1. Warm the milk in a small pan and cut the bread up into small pieces. Leave the pieces in the pan for a few minutes, then squeeze out the excess milk.
2. Combine the milk soaked bread with the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix with a fork or your hands.
3. Make small meatballs, about the size of a raspberry. Drop them in the flour and roll them around until they're well coated. If you use ground pork, it doesn't hold its shape as well as ground beef does. So just basically drop a small hunk of meat on the plate and it will be much easier to handle and shape once it's coated in the flour.
4. Pour enough vegetable oil in a large skillet so that the entire bottom is coated and the oil starts to come up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil and once it's hot, drop the meatballs in the oil. Brown on all sides.
5. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat with the meatballs until they're all browned.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
7. Put a large pot of water on to boil, and add a few tsp of salt. Boil the pasta until it's al dente.
8. While the pasta's cooking, slice all of the mozzarella thinly.
9. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, toss it with the meatballs, half the mozzarella cheese, half the parmesan cheese, and the sauce.
10. Pour it into a greased 9x13 baking dish, then sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on top and top with the remaining slices of mozzarella.
11. Bake for 30 minutes! I like when the edges and top are kind of crispy, so if you like that too bake for closer to 35!
It was so good we ate more than half the dish by ourselves last night!
YUM! If you try it let me know how you like it!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Dump truck driver.
Housekeeper who loves dogs.
Mock jury participant.
Nestle Toll House baker.
But really. Finding a job in California when you are not bilingual English/Spanish is ridiculously hard. ESPECIALLY in the nonprofit/social services sector. I just wanted to prepare everyone at home so you can keep a straight face when I come home for Christmas and tell you my first post-college job is frying dough for minimum wage.
Actually, if I'm being completely honest, I'd way rather have like triple chunk double fudge brownies. I'm a chocolate FIEND. But I kept seeing this recipe pop up everywhere and I had to try it. I used fat free cream cheese, which is a big no-no with this recipe. FF cream cheese never bakes up right (at least I think so), no matter how much you beat it on its own first, which is why you can see little white specs. So these weren't quite as decadent as they are supposed to be. But really they still tasted delicious and the whole plate is gone. If you love pumpkin or pumpkin cheesecake these are a must.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I found these candle holders at Homegoods when I wasn't even looking for them (which is always what happens!) and they were okay before:
But they're so much better now!
The smaller one looks like there's white paint on the inside but it's just my crappy camera and the light reflecting off the glossy paint. I know I said was I was going to copy the yellow and white that YHL used but I decided to use green instead. I thought it made more sense with this pattern. What do you think? Now I just need to find the perfect place for them!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Next weekend we're going to Pasadena to watch USC play Oregon! But mostly to tailgate :)
Sunday, October 24, 2010
As part of my 26 before 26, I want to do something sweet for Matt every month beyond putting a love note in his lunch box. So I brought him his favorite breakfast, pancakes, in bed. With a sweet little twist. It was no grand gesture but I loved seeing how happy it made him.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
4 bone-in loin pork chops
2 whole yellow onions
3 whole granny smith apples (I actually used 6 of the tiny apples we picked)
1/3 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Slice the onions in half moons and put them in an even layer in the bottom of the dish. Slice the apples in 1/4 inch slices and layer them on top of the onions. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper on each side of the pork chops. Cover the dish tightly with foil and put in the oven for 3 hours. Do not open the foil during cook time so that the moisture stays locked in and keeps the pork chops from drying out.
I actually really hate any form of cooked apples. But one of Matt's favorite meals are pork chops with apple sauce so this is a little variation on that. And I was really skeptical because of the cook time. But it was actually SO good. The pork chops were SO unbelievably tender.
Sorry, the lighting in this picture is even worse than usual since we ate super late last night. Also, it really looks like my plate needs some green and that's because I made green beans for Matt and I absolutely DESPISE green beans. So I went without a vegetable. Unless you call onions caramelized with brown sugar a vegetable. :)
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Simplest recipe and oh so delicious:
4 chicken breasts
1 lb baby red potatoes quartered
2 carrots sliced
1 carton of mushrooms sliced (how many oz is that? I don't know)
half a yellow onion sliced into half moons
4 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 package onion soup mix
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and make sure everything is coated well. Cook it in the oven for 45 minutes at 450 degees! It's better if you saute the onions and garlic first but I never do. It's basically a one dish meal so why complicate it? I doubled the recipe in the picture above. If you double it, I suggest using only 1/3 cup of olive oil rather than a half cup and cooking for closer to an hour.
I freaking love onion soup mix. That's probably gross but pretty much any recipe that contains it I'm smitten with. Hence, comfort food. If anyone has any good recipes containing onion soup mix, hand them over!! Or comfort food recipes that don't use a stick of butter or heavy cream, hand those over too.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Next we hit up the Raven Hill apple orchards. The orchards are NOTHING like orchards at home, and the trees aren't even tall enough to need a ladder. But it was still so much fun. The Fuji apples are to diiiie for. I can't wait to use them in treats!
On our way back we stopped at Mountain Valley Ranch's pumpkin patch. By then it had started raining, so we decided against walking around the corn maze or playing with the corn cannon. But we did a little photoshoot with Cannon and some pumpkins, found our big pumpkin and got on our way.
Despite the weather we had so much fun. We are definitely looking forward to heading back to Julian when it gets closer to Christmas for some holiday-themed baked goods and a horse drawn carriage ride!
Saturday, October 16, 2010
WELL. I chopped up half a yellow onion and 2 cloves of garlic and sauteed them in about 2 tbsp of olive oil. I also chopped up 4 Roma tomatoes, 1 green bell pepper, 2 teeny zucchini, and 1 small yellow squash... everything I needed to use up:
Hence my intimidation! I added them to the pan, with all the basil I had in the fridge (probably 30 large leaves, I'm a serious basil lover), and seasoned it all with black pepper and some red pepper flakes. Then I added a scant 1/4 cup of olive oil. I sauteed it all up and meanwhile boiled a box of spaghetti.
When the spaghetti was ready, I drained it (obvi) and added all the veggies. Then I added about 1/4 cup of Parmesan and cooked it all together for another 5. I was about to serve it, BUT as per usual, Matt needed meat. So I tried my hardest to keep the pasta warm and quickly cooked up some Italian turkey sausage, sliced it up, and mixed it in.
It was SO good. I'm seriously wicked proud of myself, and Matt ate more than half of it and there was A LOT! There was the perfect amount of spicyness and freshness. Try it!!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But it's delicious, I promise. If you like pesto, you must try.
2 densely packed cups of fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated Pecorino
2/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (though you don't need much salt at all!)
If you want to get technical you should throw in about 1/2 the oil with the first 3 ingredients, then add the rest of the oil and cheese after by hand. But I just throw it all in the food processor at once and it tastes just the same. And for the record, this is the ONLY recipe I know by heart.
It makes about a cup of pesto which I added to half of a large spaghetti squash, and then I chopped up 2 Roma tomatoes and threw those in because I love the combo of tomatoes with basil (hello Caprese salad!). I served it with garlic bread and over some chicken for Matt!
Monday, October 11, 2010
They've also released four more, whether or not they'll be part of a 10 book third collection, I'm not sure. But I'm nerdishly excited to find out!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
But sewing burlap proved to be difficult. I'm not a great sewer anyway, but yeah, it didn't look neat. Turns out cutting burlap in a straight line is hard too. So I did my best to fold and iron straight lines and finish the edges with stitch witchery. And somehow my burlap table runner came out suuuuper pretty. And it's the perfect texture for fall.
If you want a tutorial on how to make a burlap table runner, go here. (Check out her cute centerpiece!)
And if you want a tip on cutting burlap in a straight line, go here. Wish I saw this BEFORE I started my project!
And thank you to all my wonderful family and friends who emailed me with encouraging words and advice! I love you guys.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
So I started researching. Experts say that you should be putting in 20 miles a week for 6 months before you even start training. I can run 3 miles in like 25-26 minutes, which isn't TOO bad (though I'd like to improve), but lately anything beyond 4 miles no matter how slow I go my body just shuts down and I have to persuade myself to take every. single. step. Even running 3 miles every single day is only running 18 miles a week, and let's be real, I run no more than 4 times a week. So I need to put in a lot more miles per week. I also need to strengthen my muscles and joints because running 26 miles (and all the training leading up to it), will certainly not be easy on these knees of mine. AND I need to lose weight. I CANNOT carry my weight for 26 miles.
So I thought it all out, and realized, I need at least 2 years to train for this. That might seem like a really long time but I need to work my way up to running 20 miles a week, then actually run 20 miles a week for 6 months, then start training. And I don't want to give myself a deadline I can't meet.
And then I started thinking about goals. And how I feel a little bit loser-ish as all my friends graduated and are getting into amazing grad programs or getting really good jobs and I. am. not. And after starting my grad school applications, the idea of not getting in and all my dreams, goals, and plans falling through left me searching for a back up plan. And I came up with my 26 Before 26. Three years to complete 26 things, including running 26 miles, before I turn 26. And all this will coincide with Matt getting out of the Marine Corps. Sure, my goals aren't life-changing but it's something to work toward and if I complete my list, I will feel successful. Maybe not by other people's standards but by my own. And that's what's important.
So without further ado, here are my 26 before 26:
1. Run a Marathon
2. Lose 25 pounds (training for the marathon should help with that)
a. At a soup kitchen
b. At an animal shelter
c. With the elderly
d. At a hospital
4. Quilt a blanket
5. Pay off all debt (We have no credit card debt but we have two car loans and small student loans. Being debt free for our transition to civilian life will be suuuuper helpful.)
6. Read 150 books (roughly 1 book per week!)
7. Read (and study!) the Bible
8. Bake a multi-layer cake with fondant
9. Bake perfect sugar cookies with icing
10. Bake macarons (yes, baking is a major theme here)
11. Do something romantic for Matt once a month (and expect nothing in return!)
12. Organize all our pictures
13. Sew myself a dress
14. Reupholster something
15. Clean out my closet. For real.
16. Travel outside the country (location TBD)
17. Travel inside the country (location also TBD, but Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Redwoods, and Wine Country are some of the many places I’d like to go)
18. Get a job I love, even if it's not a career job (Completed February 2011)
19. Take a dance lesson with Matt
20. Take a surfing lesson (nope, never did it in Hawaii!!)
21. Actually learn to snowboard (and do it WELL and not give up and resort to skiing)
22. Teach Jack to sit, shake, and roll over. (No, sadly, he can’t do these things)
23. Grow an herb garden
24. Bet on a horse
25. See Tom Petty live
I was really hesitant in posting on this blog. First of all, it's kind of embarrassing and our families read this. Second of all, I can imagine how many of you are thinking (or maybe even laughing and yelling at the computer screen), "YOU!? Run a marathon!?" Third of all, the rest of my goals are also kind of embarrassing. But you guys are my friends and family right? So you should be proud of my goal setting. And besides, it's my blog. So in addition to recording our life here in order to share it with you, I'll be using the blog to keep myself accountable and record my accomplishments. Hope you don't mind!!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The commissary only had small green bell peppers so there was extra filling left over. I've eaten it in a wrap with spinach, made a quesadilla for Matt using the chicken and added cheese (of course), and added it to a salad with black beans and avocado. So many uses, so little time. Try them!!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
But we got to see this little lady who we love and adore so much:
And Matt hasn't been to DC before so it was a really fun day.
And we also got to go to the National Marine Corps museum. Anyone who knows Matt probably knows how much he was LOVING the museum. I was actually really impressed with how nice it was and how many artifacts they had. Here's a couple pictures from the day:
We are actually both glad that Matt goes back to work next week and life will be somewhat normal again. With both of us not working, all that free time is a little bit overwhelming.. and expensive! We do have plenty of fun fall activities coming up but Matt is excited to get back to his gym routine interruption-free and I am excited to get back in the kitchen and ruin all his hard work in the gym. :)