Friday, June 26, 2009

I don't like following a recipe

So my mother in law got me this cookbook for my birthday (May 10). Well, she got me a bunch of cookbooks, but this was the one I used for dinner tonight. I made Chili in Tortilla Bowls. I'm going to have to admit, it wasn't my favorite meal. There are a bunch of things that I would have done differently and the next time I make it, I will def make those changes.
So it starts out with these ingredients: ground beef, red bell pepper, chili powder, black beans, corn, onion, salt, pasta sauce, large tortillas, and shredded cheese.
As I was defrosting the meat, I decided to chop up my veggies. Now I'm going to sound like an infomerical for just a second. I only use Cutco knives for all my cutting needs. These are seriously the best knives in the world. My in laws didn't believe me until I got some for our wedding (yes we registered at Cutco) and started using them over at their house (they only had store bought crappy knives). They were impressed and bought us more for Christmas! I still don't have the whole set, but I'm working on it. So for the next few years for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Groundhog Day, you can buy me Cutco knives!
Ok, infomerical done.
So I chopped up the veggies. Colorful huh?
Then I started to brown the meat. This is where I didn't do what I normally do when browning meat. I followed the recipe pretty much to the T and I shouldn't have. I normally season the meat with different seasonings that I know we like, but this time, I only put in salt and pepper. I should have at least put in a clove of garlic (which I would have pressed with my Cutco Garlic Presser), but I didn't. I also would have put in some other seasonings from our spice rack, but didn't. Oh well, you cook and learn.
So after I browned the meat, I added the bell pepper, onion and chili powder.
After the onion gets all soft and stuff, I added the black beans (recipe called for kidney beans, but neither of us are fans of that stuff), corn (I didn't have enough corn that the recipe called for, but I used what I did have and it didn't make a difference) and pasta sauce. Here is where I made mistake number whatever. I usually make "my own" pasta sauce, but I'm not sure how much sauce "my" recipe is and I didn't want to mess up this dinner. So I went against my better judgement and bought jarred sauce (gross). Next time, I'll use my own sauce, which consists of a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, a can of Rotel, and a little water. Add in some garlic and seasoning and you got yourself one heck of a sauce, at least according to Nuge. I can't take credit for this sauce either, because it's the one my mom makes.
So anyway, back to the meal. After you bring all that stuff to a boil, you lower the heat and let it simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
So while that is simmering, you take one of the large tortillas (I used spinach tortillas because I misread the recipe). You can use whole wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas. Anyway, you put it in a microwaveable bowl and kinda press it in there. You nook it (in the microwave) for a minute and a half and let it cool. After you let it cool...

You have a nice green tortilla bowl. Now I'm gonna be honest with you here. I was a little disappointed in how easy this was. I just figured there was more to it, but I guess not. Oh well. It worked. It was hard and held up when we put the food in it.
Since Nuge isn't home for dinner, I usually take food up to him at work so he doesn't have to eat fast food. So I had to put everything in a Tupperware to take it up to him, so the presentation isn't all that great, but it all tastes the same.
After you spoon your helping into your nice little bowl, you put some cheese on it and viola, a nice dinner you have!
Nuge ate all of his. I did not. The tortilla was kinda hard. Not crunchy. Maybe it's because all we did was put it in the microwave. Nuge said he'd probably like it better if it was rolled in the tortilla instead of spooned in the bowl. So I'll try that with the left overs and see what he thinks of that.
Overall, it was pretty good, but with the store bought pasta sauce and no seasonings, it was, in my opinion, pretty bland. Next time, I'm going to add garlic and my own sauce at the very least.
Here is the actual recipe from the book:

1.5 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey (I used only a pound of ground beef. Turkey would have been good too though.)
1 onion ( I didn't use all of it because it hurts Nuge's belly.)
1 red bell pepper ( I didn't use all of this either because I wasn't sure how I'd like bell peppers)
2 tablespoons of chili powder (measuring is for chumps, I just put some in there until I thought it was good enough)
1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used black beans and just took the juice out of it)
1 can of corn (I used frozen corn that probably didn't add up to a whole can)
1 jar of Ragu Chunky Pasta (not a fan. I'd use 1 can of tomato sauce, 1 can of tomato paste, and one can of Rotel)
6 burrito size whole wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas (I only used to because, well there is only 2 of us)
1 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese (measuring is for chumps, I just sprinkled some on the top of them and called it a meal)

1. In 12 inch skillet, brown meat, stirring occasionally. Add onion, pepper, and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in beans, corn, and sauce.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, using one tortilla at a time, press into 1 or 2cup microwaveable bowl to for bowl shape. Microwave on HIGH for 1.5 minutes. Let cool 1 minute. Gently life out and arrange on serving plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
4. To serve, spoon chili into tortilla bowls and sprinkle with cheese.

There you have it folks. A nice (sorta) dinner for you and your guests, husband, parents, whatever.
Just thought I'd leave you with some cute pics of Gus and our niece Emma.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being Domestic!

So last night I was really domestic! I went grocery shopping and bought a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't normally buy so I can try out some new dishes from some cookbooks I got. After I got home, I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies that Nuge has been begging me to make again. I found this really awesome recipe from under Ashley's Chocolate Chip Cookies and, if I do say so myself, these cookies are amazing!! I took pictures while baking so you can have the full effect.
First you need all the ingredients. We have flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, an egg, vanilla, Crisco, chocolate chips, salt, and of course, my trusty pink mixer!
Then you put the sugar, brown sugar, and Crisco in the mixer.
Then you start beating it.
Then you check on the sleeping dogs to make sure you aren't waking them up with the noise.
Then you add the egg and vanilla.
And I finally figured out what this little contraption was for.
To make sure when you put in the flour, salt and baking powder, it doesn't fly everywhere and you can just spoon it in nice and easy. Really handy!
Then you mix in the chocolate chips with your handy spatula. I love using my "Caren's Kitchen" spatulas that Karen Pulver gave me as a wedding gift. My mom always said to not trust a woman who uses a spatula while making cookies, brownies, cakes, etc since it doesn't leave much batter to eat later. Don't worry Mom, I made you proud at the end. Just watch.
So then you drop the dough, in tablespoons, on a greased cookie sheet. I actually did use a tablespoon to make sure I had it just right and then rubbed in in my hand to make them round.
You set the oven temp at 375. Of course, you don't have to bake your cookies at midnight, but I wanted to make sure they were nice and fresh for Nuge when he got home from work.
Then 8 minutes later, they come out nice and yummy!
Mmmmm! :)
Oh darn there isn't enough dough to make another cookie. Guess that's just gonna have to go in my belly! :)
Batch #2!
Yep, making sure they are still asleep!
Then you find a really cute cookie jar and put them all in. These fit perfectly inside this jar that Jan gave me.
So now the true test comes, does he like them or not?
Apparently he does.
Apparently he makes this face whenever he tastes something good. This is a pic of him after he tasted his Groom's cake.

So in case you wanted the actual recipe, here it is:
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (I used Crisco instead of butter)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips ( I used the whole bag because, well, I didn't see that it said to only use 2 cups. Maybe a whole bag is 2 cups. Either way, I used the whole bag. Besides, Nuge and I like a lot of chocolate chips in our cookies.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
So I hope you get a chance to make these awesome cookies yourself. They are wonderful. Once Nuge got home, he ate one, then ate 6 more. Then he ate more for breakfast. I'm almost out of cookies and it hasn't even been 24 hours. Granted, Jan and Kevin did eat some too, but still...they are that good. Too bad I can't take the credit for them.

Now on to my domestic activity #2!
I decided to make Gus her own doggy bed. Jan had 2 old, very flat pillows that she was no longer using. I thought it would be a good idea to sew them together and then tie fleece on it to make a nice, soft bed for Gus to lay on.
Here are the 2 pillows and the 2 different colored fleece. I bought them at Hobby Lobby and they were on sale since they were just left overs.
Now I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the project because I was in a hurry, but the instructions are simple.
1.) I laid the fleece out and put the pillows on top and kept a 4 inch (or whatever) margin all the way around so I could tie the ends.
2.) I then sewed the pillows together. It doesn't matter if your sewing skills are lame (which mine are at the moment but will get better, I hope) because it will be covered up by the fleece. 3.) Then I put the sewn together pillows on top of the yellow fleece and covered it with the red fleece.
4.) The I cut the strips (about 2 inches wide) all along the sides. After that, I tied them together.
This was the finished project. I forgot to take a picture of the yellow side, but you get the idea. Gus was pretty thrilled about it.
Although I'm thinking she liked sleeping UNDER it rather than on top of it. But whatever. It's her bed and she can do what she wants.
I still think this is her favorite bed though.

Monday, June 22, 2009

August Blu Nugent

So Memorial Day weekend, Nuge and I got a puppy. Her name is August Blu, but we call her Gus. We wanted a Basset Hound named Gus, but didn't want a boy dog, so we had to come up with a clever name for a girl with the nickname Gus. August was one of the only cute ones that we had come up with. Blu comes from her mother, who was named Blueberry. She was born on April 3.

So now, 4 weeks later, we are still trying to potty train her. She will have accidents on occasion now, instead of all the time. She knows to go to the door when she needs to go. Sometimes we make it in time, sometimes we don't. Either way, she is starting to get the hang of it. We are crate training her, and that is still going, eh. She is really good at night. We can put her in there and she will wimper for just a minute or 2 and then gets over it. She hardly ever has accidents at night anymore, so that's a big achievement. But if I leave her during the day, she cries really hard and usually has an accident in there. But as with all things, it just takes patience and practice. We are getting used to it though.

Emma really enjoys seeing Gus, and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual.
Here are some even more recent pictures of her. As you can see, she is getting so big. We took her to the vet a week after we got her and she weighed 8 pounds. We weighed her 2 weeks later and she weighed 13 pounds. We have been weighing her every week and she is gaining at least a pound. She is now up to 15 pounds, but everytime we see her, she is getting bigger and bigger. One of her favorite things to do is sleep. We really do have a very lazy dog. And she finds the weirdest postions to sleep in. She cracks us up!

She loves our bed!
She loves the couch. And yes, she really is sleeping like that.
And she loves the wood floor. No joke, she was really sleeping like that.

So that's been our month. We have also moved into the Nugent's house. We will be renting from them until we are able to buy, which, God willing, will hopefully be sometime this year. I'll post more on that in a few days.