Monthly Archives: March 2011

What Are You Into This Month? – March Edition

Following the lead of Sorta Crunchy, I’m documenting bits and pieces of interest.  If nothing else, it’ll be a fun way to keep track of where I’m at in the moment, and if I keep up with this, it’ll be a fun to chronicle the months as they fly by!  Feel free to snag this idea as well, or post comments on what you’re into this month.

What I Am Into This Month – March 2011

In My Book Basket:

  • Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs (on Playaway)
  • The Readaloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
  • Cook’s Country magazines

T.V. Show Worth Watching:

I’ve now passed the 100th episode of Bones!  A momentous occasion… though it’s one that makes me a little sick.  I mean, 100 episodes?  That’s the equivalent of 70 hours of television.  At least they don’t have commercials on Netflix – otherwise you could take on 30 extra hours to that.

I’ve also fallen into the trap that is American Idol.  If we’re being truthful, I could easily pull myself out, but I’m taking one for the team on this one.  It’s a show Paul really enjoys, and he does so many things that I enjoy without complaining a bit (okay, without complaining very much).  I owe him!  And I’m scared to admit this, but I think that if I give it a few more episodes, I may just be so far into the show that I wouldn’t stop watching even if I could.

Movie I’ve Seen:

The Social Network came through the mail from Netflix this month, as did The Kids are All Right.  We used the Wii to watch Sunshine Cleaning, IQ, and The Ugly Truth. Of all those, I liked The Ugly Truth the most.  And if we’re bing honest here, I didn’t even like it all that much.  It’s been a disappointing month of movies.

In My Kitchen:

I had several absolute failures in the kitchen, which hasn’t happened in a while.  The most notable of these was the alfredo sauce incident.  I’m not sure what went wrong… but I ended up with garlic cheese milk and a solid lump of rubbery Parmesan.  It was bad, folks.  Really bad.  Almost inedible.  Almost.  Yes, we did still eat it (though most of the rubbery mass went into the trash can).  We won’t even go into the balsamic steak, roasted tomato salad, and homemade goat cheese dressing that was Valentine’s dinner.

There were a few successes mixed in, luckily.  Bad Boy Double Chocolate Cookies, for example.  With a name like that, how could they not be good?


We’ve also had honey mustard crumb-coated pork cutlets, chicken and cheese quesadilla pie, grilled flank steak with charred sweet onion relish, chicken paremsan roll-ups, red beans and rice, ham and cheese mini quiches, pot roast, paninis, strawberry banana smoothies, and tapioca pudding.  That list makes me realize I’d better get caught up with blogging pretty soon!

Google Reader Trends (past 30 days)

What I’m Looking Forward in April:

A big announcement!

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It’s a Girl!

Okay, that announcement may be a bit preliminary, considering I’m only six weeks along and have absolutely know scientific way of knowing.  I do have this, however…..

To use the chart, you find your age on the right (mine’s 27) and the month of the baby’s conception (February) to find out the baby’s gender.  90% effective?  Hard to say.  Fun anyway?  Of course.

A full chart can be found at The Bump.

Out of the Middle Ground

I’ve been tracking my fertility cycle for seven months, since I went off of birth control.  For the first two months of that, we were actively trying not to get pregnant.  Since then, we haven’t necessarily been trying… but then again, we haven’t been not trying either.  Okay… so perhaps I’ve been a bit more “eager” around the time I’ve been fertile.  For five months, we’ve been in some sort of a middle ground.

All that changed this morning.  We’re out of the middle ground!

I’ve been tracking my morning temperature, and it was high for either 19 or 23 days in a row (I’m still not fantastic at telling the exact day I’ve ovulated).  The book I’d been using, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, said that anything over 18 days means you’re almost certainly pregnant.  I whipped out the trusty EPT, and within 10 seconds could see a plus sign appearing on the stick.

My initial plan was to find some cute and creative way to tell Paul the good news, like saying I had a bun in the oven .  I climbed back into bed to think, and within thirty second blurted out the good news.  So much for a surprise!

Since that time, I’ve been scouring the house, looking for areas that need babyproofing and eradicating all dust bunnies from the house.  I realize that dusting now will in no way do any good for my pregnancy or baby, but it seems like something I need to do.

We’re keeping everything very close to home for now, because you never know what can happen.  Who knows when we’ll start telling people – the three month mark seems logical.  I’ll keep these posts marked as “private” at first, though I want nothing more than to shout to the world this news.  I feel that it wouldn’t be fair to let strangers know before our own parents.  So, as hard as it is, mum’s the word for at least a few more weeks!

What’s been keeping me occupied…

Sorry for the lack of posts lately!  I’ve been working hard on a brand new project…

Kate the Cook

A new recipe blog!  From now on I’ll keep this as my personal blog, sharing links, ideas, my happiness project, and maybe a recipe here and there.  The bulk of kitchen-talk will be going on at Kate the Cook, though.  While I love the simplicity I’ve always had keeping up one blog, I feel embarrassed of owning up to this blog to family members.  It’s one thing to have a happiness project anonymously … it’s another to tell everyone you know your most personal self-improvement strategies.  Moving recipes over to Kate the Cook lets me keep a blog for personal motivation and be able to have a public face on the internet that I’m proud of.

I’m curious to know how others do this… do you tell your extended family and friends that you blog?

Pasties

We live close enough to Michigan’s upper peninsula that pasties are a well-known dinner item, but far enough away that I’ve never actually made one.  After paging through my Cook’s Country Lost Recipes magazine and seeing an easy recipe, I decided that it was about time.

The recipe wasn’t at all difficult.  Fill 8″ rounds of pie crust with a mixture of blade steak, potatoes, onions, and rutabaga.  I must admit, though, for all its ease, it wasn’t a quick process.  It doesn’t sound like it should take over two hours!  I partially blame the fact that it was my first time making the recipe, but by the time you make the dough, sautee everything, roll the dough, add filling, shape and close, add an egg wash, bake, do all of those dishes…  time adds up!  The original recipe, according to the magazine article, made 15 cups of filling.  I can see why.  It wouldn’t really take that much longer to make 15 versus six pasties – you might as well get more bang for your buck!

Don’t let my complaining stop you, though.  It was a fun project, and I’ll certainly be making it again in the future (though not on a weeknight!).  They were really tasty.  The recipe below has been changed to reflect our tastes – I replaced the rutabaga with more potatoes and cut back on the pepper to suit our tastes.  And though the recipe says it serves six, we somehow scraped together 7 pasties out of it.  Bonus!

Upper Peninsula Pasties

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Lost Recipes
serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
  • 1-1 1/4 cups ice water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped medium
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 12 ounces blade steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Process half of the flour and salt in a food processor until combined.  Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Add the remaining flour.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Sprinkle the ice water, 1/4 cup at a time, over the flour mixture.  Stir and press the dough together using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together.
  3. Divide the dough into six even pieces.  Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into a 5″ disk.  Wrap each disk in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.
  4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir int he potatoes and cook until softened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cream, broth, and mustard and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds.  Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  5. Stir the beef, salt, and pepper into the cooled potato mixture.
  6. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to an 8″ round.  Place one cup of the filling mixture in the center of each round and gently pack it down.  Wet the edges of the dough with water and fold the dough in half over the filling, pressing to seal the edges.  Crimp the sealed edge with your thumb and forefinger.
  7. Arrange the pies on the prepared baking sheets and brush with the egg.  Bake the pies until golden brown, 25-30 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Earthquake Cake

Not wanting to be late for dinner, my mom attempted to quickly assemble a cake that she’d just pulled out of the oven… a bit too soon, apparently.  While she got teased quite a bit by the rest of the family, I thought it actually looked pretty cute!

Earthquake Cake

recipe from Kate’s mom

Ingredients

  • 2 nine-inch cakes, just out of the oven
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • about 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • milk

Directions

  1. Make frosting by combining melted butter and powdered sugar.  Add milk until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Overturn first cake onto cake platter.  Frost the top of the first layer.
  3. Overturn the second cake on top of the first, unevenly, allowing it to break apart in several places.  Pull apart more if needed.
  4. Pour remaining frosting over cake.

Trail Mix

My go-to lunchtime filler is trail mix.  It’s easy, it’s filling, and it’s tasty.  There’s no official recipe, but my typical ratio is three parts nuts, two parts dried fruit, and one part treat.  The easiest way to toss it together is to layer the ingredients to fill about 3/4 of an empty peanut jar or other container and give a few shakes.  The picture below is way too full to be combined – I ended up splitting this equally into two containers.  (I also added a few chocolate chips, but we don’t have to tell anyone else that…)

Trail Mix Ingredients

nuts
peanuts
almonds
macadamia nuts
pecans
cashews
sunflower seeds (not technically a nut, I know…)

dried fruit
dried cranberries
raisins (regular or golden)
dried cherries
dried apricots

treats
yogurt-covered dried fruit
chocolate covered raisins or peanuts
chocolate chips
white chocolate chips
M&M’s

other
Teddy Grahams
Cheerios
Craklin’ Oat Bran cereal pieces
Goldfish Grahams