Archive for October, 2009

Operation Organization: Part 1

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

This front hall closet was a good place to start, as all of the other closets will be much more difficult to get organized. The front hall closet is where we keep all of our jackets and winter gear. The closet was only in slight disarray, so it was relatively easy to get organized.

I purchased 3 collapsible cubes ($6.99 each at Target) to keep our hats, mittens, and scarves tucked away but still easily accessible. I cleared out all of the miscellaneous boxes and junk, vacuumed thoroughly, and I was done. I am amazed by how a few cubes completely transformed the mess that all of our winter gear created.

Categories: Home Is Where the Heart Is Tags:

Italian Chicken & Cheese

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

We had my mom over for dinner tonight and I chose this recipe for 2 reasons. 1) It seemed relatively quick and easy to prepare after work and 2) it sounded delicious.  I love Chicken Parmesan, but it is slightly more time consuming and sometimes not possible to make after work when there are places to go and people to see.  To make this recipe even quicker, I used store bought spaghetti sauce.  I served this dish with spaghetti and garlic toast, and it was awesome!

Italian Chicken & Cheese
(Source: Land O Lakes)

8 (4-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I used 4)

1/3 cup chopped onion
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp butter, melted
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place chicken into ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish or 3-quart shallow casserole.

2. Combine all sauce ingredients in medium bowl; spoon over chicken. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

3. Meanwhile, combine bread crumbs, parsley and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle cheese over chicken; top with bread crumb mixture. Continue baking 5 to 10 minutes or until chicken is fork tender and bread crumbs are browned.

Categories: I ♥ Food, Marriage & Family Tags: ,

The Hold Steady at St. Olaf

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Andrew and I headed down to St. Olaf  Saturday afternoon with our friends (and old college roommates) Adam and Mel for a Hold Steady concert. After meeting up with Adam’s sister Emily and making some necessary purchases in the bookstore, we headed to The Contented Cow (know to most as simply “The Cow”) for some pre-dinner drinks while we waited for our other friends (Nate, Kim, and Ben) to arrive.

It was a little too early in the day  for us girls to get started, but the boys ordered some beers and we sat around on the comfy couches and talked for a couple of hours.  Before we left to meet our friends for dinner, we each did a round of shots – the boys and Emily did Irish Car Bombs while Mel and I did “Apple Pie” shots (and, just for the record, they did taste an awful lot like Apple Pie).

We had dinner at Hogan Brother’s, where Nate promptly “caught up” to us by chugging two beers.  We headed back to The Cow for more drinks, where we promptly did another round of shots (Irish Car Bombs and Apple Pie shots).  We decided to edge out the nice people near the couches, but it turned out that two of the people were the owners of that fine establishment and we ended up striking up a conversation with them instead.  They were very nice, but I’m not entirely sure they appreciated our antics.

Andrew bought me two more shots and Nate stupidly challenged me to a drinking contest.  I say “stupidly” because he wanted me to try to take my shot faster than he could chug his beer and the winner would by the other a drink.  When I accepted and won,  he promptly offered a double or nothing deal on the same drinking contest.  I don’t think anyone will be shocked to find out he lost again, and afterwords we convinced him to buy everyone another round of drinks, at which point we realized we needed to get back up to campus soon.

Needless to say, we forgot to pick a sober driver and we had to call a cab to get us back to St. Olaf.  We forgot to have them send a van, so we ended up cramming 7 people into a car.  I was the lucky one that got to ride laying across the four guys in the back seat and it reminded me a bit of my good ‘ol college days.

The concert was fun, despite the obnoxious people.  First there was the big, sweaty “ogre” that Nate almost got into a fight with.  Oh, and let’s not forget the crowd-surfers, one of which fell on top of me.  Adam lost the really nice flask that Ben had borrowed from a friend (now would be a good time to mention that St. Olaf is a dry campus, hence the need for it in the first place) at the security checkpoint when it slid from his crotch down the leg of his pants.  After Nate hunted down the person who had confiscated it, Adam fought with some chick on a power trip to get it back after the concert (she gave it to him because she “didn’t know what else to do with it”), and then we all piled back into the same taxi (the driver seemed less entertained by us the second time around) and we concluded the evening with 3 extra large Gyro pizzas from Basil’s.

Categories: Friends Are Forever Tags:

The Wonderful World of Disney

October 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t remember how exactly this came about, but my husband and I decided we wanted to have a Disney movie marathon.  I already had a bunch of Disney movies, but we decided to acquire some of our other favorites and, sometime in the fall, we would take some time off of work and relive our childhoods.


We only ended up watching six movies, which was a little disappointing, but I guess that just means we can do it again sometime and watch the ones we missed out on.

Thursday: The Lion King, Lady & the Tramp, Aladdin

Friday: The Emperor’s New Groove, Beauty & the Beast

Saturday: The Little Mermaid

Categories: Just for Fun Tags:

Spaghetti Carbonara and Tempura Battered Green Beans

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Spaghetti Carbonara

1/2 inch olive oil (for frying pan)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped onion
8 to 12 thick slices Italian bacon
4 eggs
2 packages spaghetti
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a frying pan, combine 1/2 inch of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one chopped onion and the Italian bacon cut into small squares. Let simmer for about a half-hour, being careful not to let the oil get to a boiling point.

2. In a bowl, beat 4 eggs with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper.

3. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook both packages of spaghetti until al dente, drain and immediately add egg mixture to pasta. (The eggs are actually cooked by the pasta, so make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked before proceeding.) Stir the egg mixture until it is well mixed. Pour in the mixture from the frying pan and stir. Finish with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Tempura Battered Green Beans
(Source: Recipe Zaar)

2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups ice water (We used club soda)
1 3/4 cups flour, sifted

1. In a large bowl place the egg yolks.

2. Add iced water gradually, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well.

3. Add flour all at once, stir BRIEFLY; that is well enough to coat but leave the lumps and bumps!

4. To fry vegetables heat a large frying pan with a half-inch oil (or more if necessary) and heat on high.

5. Coat selected large vegetables in batter and fry for a minute or two on each side.

Categories: I ♥ Food Tags:

Aamodt’s Apple Farm

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

We took our yearly trip to the apple orchard today. The last two years we went to Minnesota Harvest down in Jordan. This year we thought we’d change things up and try Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater.

Aamodt’s was a nice orchard, but their whole operation did not seem to run as smoothly. Upon arrival, we had no idea where we needed to go to get a bag for apple picking. Once we figured that out, we were given a hand-drawn map of the orchard and told which apples we were allowed to pick. The map was not helpful at all and I’m pretty sure most of the apples we picked were on the “do not pick” list, but we couldn’t tell what the heck we were picking. (Minnesota Harvest ties colored ribbons on their apple trees, which not only denotes which ones you can pick, but also informs you of what type of apple you are picking, both very helpful).

Regardless, we still had a nice time. Hare are a few snapshots from our day at the orchard:

Categories: Marriage & Family Tags:

Boeuf Bourguignon and Tomates à la Provençale

October 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Boeuf Bourguignon
(Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter (I think we must have omitted this, as I don’t remember buying any at the store)
Parsley sprigs

1. Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

4. Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

5. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

6. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

7. Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

8. While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

9. When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

10. Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Tomates à la Provençale
(Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

6 tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tbsp minced green onions
4 tbsp minced green herbs
1/4 cup olive oil
Optional: clove of crushed garlic

1. Pre-heat oven to 400° or warm broiler.

2. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise.

3. Gently squeeze out seeds.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onions, herbs, oil and optional garlic.

6. Spoon mixture into tomatoes.

7. Arrange on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

8. About 20 minutes before serving, bake at 400° or set under a slow broiler until heated through and top is lightly browned.

Categories: I ♥ Food Tags: