Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Amazon's Great New Feature

I couldn't believe that Home Depot already had their Christmas decorations out!  Christmas shopping always sneaks up on me.  I have, however, made a vow to be like I used to and have it ALL done by Thanksgiving so that I can enjoy the holidays without the stress of crazy crowded malls.  I've always kept my own Amazon wishlist so that when people ask what I want for Christmas, birthdays, etc. its all there.  Really, I use it more for myself to tag things that I find and really like.  Amazon has stepped up its game on the whole wish list thing.  Now, you can add things to your wish list even if they aren't on Amazon!  All you do is add the link to the Universal Wish List button to your favorites and when you come across something you like ANYWHERE, you click on that tab and its magically saved to your list!  How easy is that?  Instructions and button download can be found here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Back!

I'm so sorry for not posting this last week.  We've had lots going on for the past two weeks and it has still been crazy at work from the floods.  One exciting thing that's happened is I'm a new aunt.  My sister had her baby last Monday night.  He's so cute and was born with a full head of hair!  Anywhoo, I'm back on track (kind of).  Tonight we tried a chinese hot pot for dinner.  I served it over a bowl of soba noodles.  Mmm, so good.  The whole star anise pods were a bit tricky to find but I managed to hunt them down at Specs which is a liquor store that also carries gourmet food and spices.  This one is a keeper.

2 cups baby carrots
2 medium white turnips, (8 ounces total), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges
2 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, (picnic or Boston-butt), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (I used center loin roast which wasn't so fatty)
1 bunch scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons medium or dry sherry, (see Ingredient Note)
4 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2-4 teaspoons Chinese chile-garlic sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 star anise pod, (see Ingredient Note) or 1 teaspoon aniseed
1 cinnamon stick
4 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, (see Ingredient Note) for garnish
Place carrots and turnips in the bottom and up the sides of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Top with pork and scallion whites. Bring broth, water, soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, ginger, vinegar, chile-garlic sauce to taste and garlic to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour over the pork and vegetables. Nestle star anise pod (or aniseed) and cinnamon stick into the stew. Cover and cook until the pork and vegetables are tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours on high or 5 1/2 to 6 hours on low.

Discard the star anise pod and cinnamon stick. Skim or blot any visible fat from the surface of the stew. Add the cornstarch mixture, cover and cook on high, stirring 2 or 3 times, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with scallion greens and sesame seeds.

Tips & Notes
Ingredient Notes: Sherry is a type of fortified wine originally from southern Spain. Don't use the “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, purchase medium or dry sherry that's sold with other fortified wines in your wine or liquor store.

Star anise (named for its star-shaped pods) lends a distinctive licorice-like flavor to numerous Asian dishes. The pods come from a small evergreen tree that is native to China. Look for star anise in the bulk spice sections of natural-foods stores, in Asian markets or online at penzeys.com.

Sesame seeds can be purchased already toasted. If you can't find them, toast your own in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Per serving: 332 calories; 17 g fat (6 g sat, 7 g mono); 91 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrates; 29 g protein; 2 g fiber; 538 mg sodium; 613 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (110% daily value), Zinc (33% dv), Vitamin C (25% dv), Potassium (18% dv).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pancakes to Pump You Up

Again, I've had several requests for the recipe to my protein pancakes.  Keep in mind, they aren't as fluffy as normal pancakes, but you won't feel like you have have a brick in your stomach after eating them either.  I've also made some changes to make them a little lighter.

Protein Pancakes:
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (dry)
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
4 egg whites
1 tsp of cinnamon (or more if you like)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (I prefer Lean Body)
Fruit of your choice (blueberries are my favorite)

In this order put the following into a blender, cottage cheese, 1 egg white, oatmeal, protein powder, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Take the three other egg whites and and beat with a mixer until they form stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter.  Using a non-stick skillet, get the skillet hot and spray with Pam for baking.  Pour batter like you usually would for normal pancakes.  Plop in a few blueberries, banana slices, diced strawberries. or even peaches and cook on one side until bubbles form.  Flip and cook on the other side until done.  Serve with butter and sugar free syrup. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dinner Last Night

I gave these Sweet Potato and Chicken Hand Pies from my latest Everday Food magazine a whirl last night.  Clay said they'd be better with more meat (of course) but overall, they were pretty good.  I only had phyllo dough instead of puff pastry, so I think I could have piled more meat in them if I had the right dough.  The cumin and coriander in the potatoes was awesome.  I didn't measure out the spices and I'm pretty sure I used more than the recipe calls for, but I loved it.  I didn't use the prior recipe so I didn't have the "reserved potatoes," but used about three good sized ones that I cut up and boiled until soft. 


Serves 4
Reserved roasted sweet potatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream ( I subbed with a little lowfat milk and a dollop of butter)

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Coarse salt and ground pepper

All-purpose flour, for rolling

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (I used phyllo dough, it will work in a pinch)

Reserved cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces (2 cups) ( I used a rotesserie chicken from the grocery store, cut up into cubes)

1 large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mash sweet potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Add cream, coriander, and cumin; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

On a floured work surface, roll out puff pastry to a 12-inch square and cut into 4 squares. Divide sweet-potato mixture among bottom halves of squares, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top each with 1/2 cup chicken and brush edges of squares with some egg. Fold top halves of squares over filling to make a triangle, then crimp edges with a fork. With a sharp knife, cut vents in pastry and brush with remaining egg.

Transfer pies to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

Read more at Marthastewart.com: Chicken and Sweet Potato Hand Pies Recipe - MarthaStewart.com

Scarf Giveaway Winner

The winner chosen at random by www.random.org is lucky #16, the last entry!  Congratulations to:

Kathy said...

I love the dropstitch cowl in cranberry...great for our November NY trip!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Last Day to Enter!

Last day to enter in the giveaway for the handmade scarf from Jill Lauren Handmade Knits!  You have until 11:59pm tonight to enter.  All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of this post and leave a comment. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Project Down

I was really hoping I would get all my projects done before Clay got home, but things don't always work out the way I want them to.  However, I got my sewing mannequin redo about 98% done.  I ran out of glue sticks and didn't have the energy to go to the craft store.  Funny how that always happens!  I lucked out last week at Hancock Fabrics during my quest for the perfect leopard print.  I searched all over the store and the only fabric they had that would have worked was a washed out leopard, but it was $22/yd!  Um, no...that is not thrifty.  I was about to leave when I caught a glimpse of leopard peaking out from the bottom of the remnants pile.  And there it was, 1 1/3 yds of small, dark, leopard in a somewhat heavy almost twill like fabric.  Since it was a remnant, it was only $7/yd. Nice.  It was just the right amount.  I have three small back pieces to cover yet but I will have plenty of material and maybe a bit leftover.  So, its is almost all the way put together and I love how it turned out.  Once its done, I'll top it off with a strand of pearls and flower brooch to make it extra fancy!

BEFORE: covered in thin wool that fell apart when I pulled it off
AFTER: nice and clean, I can't wait to see the whole thing done.  Sorry the pictures aren't so great, I had to use my camera on my phone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We didn't float away

The rain has stopped and the sun came out today.  All my plants were looking quite content when I got home today.  We are still crazy busy at work with all the water damage jobs (I work for a restoration company) but it seemed to get somewhat under control today.  I apologize for my lack of projects, recipes, etc.  It has just been a couple of hectic weeks.  Plus, I have about three projects that I'm almost done with.  I have a baby quilt almost complete, a laundry room almost done, and a mannequin overall that is right in the middle of its renovation.  So, hopefully I will have three FINISHED projects to post about by next week.  Ahhh, that would be great.
On a side note, only EIGHT people have entered for the scarf giveaway.  This is such a great piece for the fall!!  All you have to do is leave a comment, you even have to become a follower (even though all the cool people are).  Post a comment here and tell me which one is your fav.  Drawing ends Monday night so get your comment in today!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When It Rains, It POURS...and apparently doesn't stop

Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall yesterday.  She has now been downgraded to a tropical depression, but the remnants are causing major flooding in the Austin metro area.  I've lived here almost my whole life and don't remember anything like this happening here. We have had close to 11 inches of rain in my part of town in the last 48 hrs (most of that being last night) and it is still down pouring outside.   I work for a restoration company, so needless to say, my work day started very early this morning (2am to be precise).  We are sending out water damage crews and hauling in equipment from our other locations.  This is crazy!  I feel so bad for all the customers I've called reassuring them that someone is on the way and to hang tight.  What is even worse is that the rain hasn't stopped, therefore, the water coming in their homes hasn't stopped either.  What a mess for Austin.  Please keep all those with flooded homes in your prayers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

September Giveaway!!

On one of my latest searchs through Etsy, I came across Jill Lauren Handmade Knits.  She makes the biggest, coziest scarves in great colors for fall.  Now is your chance to win one to start off your fall wardrobe.  All you have to do is enter a comment on this post.  Tell me which style and color is your favorite (I won't hold you to it).  If you post about this giveaway, tell me in a separate comment with a link to the post on your blog and you'll get another chance.  If you become a follower, tell me in a separate comment and that gets you another chance!  If you comment anonymously, make sure to leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you.  You will have three styles to choose from:

The Linen Chunky Knit Neckwarmer (my personal fav)
The Dropstitch Cowl
The Ascot

You get to pick the style and color of your choice!  Here are all the great colors:

All those colors make it a hard choice!  Good luck to you all.  You have until 11:59pm CST on Monday, September 13th to enter.  Get your entry in today!
p.s. if you haven't made an outfit for the Polyvore yet, don't miss out on your chance to win $1000!  Its so easy, just scroll through the items, drag them to the screen to make an outfit, and hit publish.  Sooo easy.  Contest ends tmmw, September 7th!  Go to the post here.