Admin on January 3rd, 2012

Mr is recovering from Christmas vacation – too much heavy food! So I opted for soup. I was planning to make Italian Wedding Soup, but didn’t have spinach, so I just winged it. The ingredients are approximate – I just added what seemed right for the soup, and served with garlic Italian bread.

Winter Italian Soup

  • 2 slices bacon, cut in half
  • 1/2 c sliced carrots
  • 1/4 c sliced celery
  • 1/2 half onion, minced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I use S&W organic)
  • 2 containers chicken stock (or 8 cups water + 4 T chicken or veg bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (I used Trader Joe’s Rosemary Sea Salt)
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 can canelli (white) beans, rinsed (I used S&W low-sodium beans)
  • 1 c frozen green beans
  • 1 pkg frozen meatballs (I used Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatballs)
  • 1 pkg tortellini or other pasta
  • 4 T shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed; my favorite method is to heat pan of water to boiling, then add pasta, cover and remove from heat; let sit for 20 minutes. If you’re using stuffed pasta (tortellini, ravioli, etc.), cook as directed on package.

Place bacon slices in large stockpot and heat on med-high. Cook bacon until done; remove and drain most of bacon fat into glass dish.

Saute carrots, celery, onion & garlic in bacon fat for about 3 minutes (add more fat if needed). When carrots are slightly tender, add about 1/2 c broth and let simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes.

Add remaining chicken stock, mushrooms, white beans and frozen green beans, cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.

Add frozen meatballs & seasonings; cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Ladle pasta into bowls; ladle soup on top of pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

*NOTE: I am gluten-intolerant, so I skip the pasta. If you’re gluten-intolerant or on a low-carb diet, do the same. It’s still quite yummy!

Whew, that’s a mouthful! (hahaha)

I’m not sure why I keep posting chicken recipes – you’d think we never eat anything else! I think it’s because chicken is the most versatile main dish – you can do so much with it, unlike pork or beef or chicken. Since I love chicken and mushrooms, and my family loves cheese and whatever I do with chicken and mushrooms, we’ve got this yummy recipe!

Garlic Mushroom Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is a notoriously difficult dish – it requires a lot of stirring and oversight. I’m not a patient person, so I made up a “cheater’s risotto” – it’s basically rice cooked in the rice cooker with a bunch of cheese. There’s stirrage at the end, but by then, the rest of the food is ready. :) Read the rest of this entry »

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Admin on May 22nd, 2011

I planned to make a blueberry pie today, but a nap got in the way… Still managed to make a yummy Sunday Supper. Thanks to J for the suggestion!

Parmesan Chicken with Polenta Read the rest of this entry »

Admin on May 19th, 2011

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted! I have a million pictures, but have been very busy with work and other activities (including: teaching Art Literacy, spearheading a Youth Group Room remodel, speaking at conferences, re-painting my kitchen, dealing with pets, dealing with tweens… :)

Anyway, it’s been a very wet spring here – we finally broke the 70-degree mark for the first time this past week (the 3rd WEEK OF MAY!). And today, wonder of wonders, the sun is out, the skies are blue. I rode my bike to my 12.30 class and the kids made fun of my helmet hair. :)

So, what do we do when it’s warm? We open *every window in the house* and enjoy/ignore the neighborhood sounds. Enjoy: birds, lawnmowers, happy kids. Ignore: neighbor revving car, leaf blowers, chainsaws, crying kids. And serve a light spring supper in keeping with the weather. Since my life dream is to spend a month in Italy and Greece, I’m serving up:

Lemon Pepper Pork Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki and Xioriatiki

(sounds fancy, eh? Skip to the bottom for the details. Note: you can also use thinly sliced steak or chicken in place of pork. Someone will suggest lamb and you go ahead & have fun with that. I cannot stand lamb as food, tho the little smelly things are adorable in person and not on my plate.)

an Angelicious recipe

Gyros (30 min marinade):

  • 1 1/4 lb. pork sirloin (or chuck steak, or boneless skinless chicken breasts), sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

In a glass bowl, toss pork strips with remaining ingredients. Cover and let stand, at room temp, for 30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile…

Homemade Tzatziki – the easy way

  • 1 c plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt works best, but regular yoghurt is fine)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely diced
  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely dice
  • 1 T chopped fresh mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Other:

  • 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • flatbread OR pita bread pockets

In glass bowl, mix all tzatziki ingredients and stir well. Season with salt, pepper & parsely; stir, cover and set aside at room temp.

(Tzatziki – the not as easy, but seriously yummy way.)

Heat grill (I use my old, battered, but still reliable George Foreman!) and spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with oil. Grill meat in batches, placing in a slightly warm oven to keep until ready to serve.

Let's get grilling!

While meat is cooking, slice pita pockets in half, or prepare flatbread slices for serving. Tip: warm your bread before slicing to prevent tearing; about 15-30 seconds in the microwave should do it.

To serve, stuff pita pockets – or layer on flatbreads – with grilled meat. Drizzle with about 1-2 T tzatziki.

It's pita time!

Xioriatiki (Greek Village Salad)

Super simple & super yummy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, shredded (by hand)
  • 3 tomatoes cut into wedges OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c crumbled feta cheese (TJs has a great Greek feta)
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, drained
  • Capers (optional)

Mix first 3 ingredients in medium bowl; top with remaining ingredients.

(NOTE: You can also layer the ingredients (starting from the top) and drizzle dressing over individual plates.)

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried or 1 T fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine dressing ingredients; shake well and let sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. When ready, pour over salad & toss. Serve with gyros.

Pictures to come!

BTW, here is what you’re making:

Gyros = YEER-ohs. Essentially “Greek sandwiches,” consisting of meat and dressing (sometimes veggies) wrapped in flatbread. The typical ingredient is lamb. (yuck.)

Tzatziki = tsah-ZEE-kee. A sauce/dressing made of yoghurt and cucumber. Yummy & lowfat!

Xoriatiki = HOHR-ee-ah-tiki. “Greek Village Salad” or “Traditional Greek Salad.” A very simple and easy to prepare salad that brings out the true flavors of Greek food. Serve as a main dish with a nice, crusty bread, or as a side to dish with chicken, steak, seafood or – as above – gyros! The salad is typically made with chunks or slabs of feta, rather than crumbled, but I’m cooking for a family and chunks of feta do not live in my fridge.

Last but not least: this is a very kid-friendly recipe. The gyros are mild, minus “scary” ingredients and plus the fun of folded sandwiches. The tzatziki is smooth and creamy – again, nothing scary – and the salad is very basic (just watch out for the capers, some kids think they look like fish eyes. Some kids who  may have once upon time been, um, me).

Happy spring!

Admin on October 26th, 2010

Oh, no, not another chicken recipe!

Oh, yes, another chicken recipe.

What can I say? I love chicken! I open the Sunday paper directly to the Fred Meyer ad to see if it’s on sale, and if it is – bye, bye whatever supper I had planned and hello Sunday Roast Chicken!

This recipe is basically the roasted version of the Crockpot Skinny Chicken, which is basically an Angelicious version of the Barefoot Contessa’s famous roast chicken. I like to make it on Sundays – it’s my “cooking therapy day,” so I make dessert, too. And there’s enough chicken left over for another dish later in the week (such as Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas, which I’m making tomorrow – post to come!)… or just to snack on during the week. :)

I’ve made the recipe a gajillion times, and taken almost as many photos, so I’m going to try to squeeze all into one.

Without further ado, I give you:

Sunday Roast Chicken

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 whole chickens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (or as many as you like)
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, cut in half
  • 3 T kosher salt
  • 3 T fresh ground pepper
  • 1 T Old Bay (or poultry) seasoning
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 5 large potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1/2 bag baby carrots, or 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: chunks of onion, celery, other root vegetables

Let’s get busy…

I’ve already given you the prep lecture, so I’ll leave it up to you to decided if you want to do prep. I highly recommend it, because you will be handling raw birds, which have yucky raw bird germs than can make you very sick. I also recommend using gloves so you don’t get yucky raw bird germs under your fingernails. (And I know you wash your hands really well, singing the ABC song at least twice and using a fingernail brush, but better safe than sorry, right?) For what it’s worth, I buy surgical gloves at Costco – the size small fits my hands perfectly and don’t slip & slide like regular kitchen gloves. Plus I like to make that snapping sound when I pull them on. It doesn’t take a lot to amuse me, apparently.

Prep work

For prep: take two sprigs of rosemary and pull off individual sprigs (leave the other two whole). Mix salt, pepper and Old Bay (that stuff is awesome!) in a small bowl; pour olive oil into another small bowl. You’ve already cut your lemon, onion and garlic heads (note: don’t peel the garlic, just the cut the whole head in half) and set aside.

Mmmm... taters...

Line a large baking pan with foil (this makes cleanup so much easier) and spray with cooking spray. Spread quartered potatoes (leave the skin, mmmm….) and carrots in pan. You can also add celery, onions, whatever root floats your boat. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. You can add more olive if you like. Top with rosemary springs. I forgot to take a photo of it sprinkled with rosemary sprigs.

Rosemary says hi!

Put those gloves and STOP! Chicken time!

Naked on the red carpet

Pull the skin back from the chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Spread a light layer of olive oil over breast, skin and inside the cavity, the use your fingers to spread salt/pepper/Old Bay mixture on breast (under skin) and in cavity. Stuff cavity with 1/2 lemon, 1/2 (2 quarters) onion, 1 whole (sliced in half) head of garlic, and a sprig of rosemary. Place atop potatoes and repeat with remaining chicken. It’ll be a tight squeeze, but you can do it!

Truss the chicken using kitchen string (this helps keep your chicken from falling party, and also keeps the juices in. Don’t ask me how it works, it just does!). Sprinkle remaining Old Bay mixture over chicken, being sure to get drumsticks and thigh sections. Sprinkle with any remaining rosemary.

All trussed up and nowhere to go!

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear. When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and cover with foil; return pan with vegetables to oven and roast, uncovered for another 10 minutes to caramelize.

Veggies!

Crummy photo of delicious food.

I'm hungry just looking at it...

Serve to happy family. Enjoy leftovers.

Hey, Mr Grabby, get your box off the table first!

You rockstar, you.

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Admin on October 26th, 2010

What do you get when you combine a super-busy day full of meetings and clients and emails and classes and naughty pets and rainy weather? Inspired to make a fast and yummy soup!

I found this recipe in the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook (I really do love Trader Joe’s and I swear, if she hadn’t have written it – I would have!), which is made up entirely of recipes using products that can be found at my most favorite store.

This recipe calls for ingredients that pretty much live in my cupboard year ’round (except for the pumpkin, but I stock up when I can), and took less than 45 minutes – 30 of which was just simmering time so I could answer e-mails. (I also heart my laptop. And GMail.) Next time, I’m going to try it in the slow cooker, letting it simmer all day long. Oh. My. Pumpkiny goodness.

Now you know me… I don’t follow directions very well, especially when it comes to recipes (much to Mr’s consternation – he’s always telling me, “Now go write down what you changed before you forget! HURRY!”), so as we sat at the dinner slurping down this amazing soup, he commanded me to get the paper on which the recipe was printed and write the changes down immediately, which I had to do between slurps. So here it is, in all of its amazing soup glory. (PS: It’s gluten-free and, if you omit the ham and use vegetable broth, you’ve got a vegetarian dish.)

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

adapted from the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained (I prefer low-sodium black beans)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 1/2 T butter
  • 1/4 c chopped onion (about 1/2 small, use more if you like onions. I do not.)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (use more if you like garlic. I do.)
  • 4 c beef broth
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, just the plain ol’ puree)
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham or smoked turkey, cubed
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sour cream

In a food processor, coarsely chopped black beans and tomatoes; set aside. You do not need to puree them to mash, just chop ‘em really good.

In a stockpot, melt the butter and add onion. Saute on medium low for about 5-6 minutes, or until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so, then stir in bean-tomato mixture. Season lightly with salt and a little more pepper than salt (I used about 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp pepper). Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring well.

Add broth (heating it up in the microwave makes it easier to blend), about 3/4 of the can of pumpkin and sherry.

NOTE: The sherry is optional, but it really does add a nice kick (the alcohol cooks off, so you only get the flavor and not the “I fed my kids booze soup!” guilt). Although you can use cooking sherry, I prefer very dry sherry – it tends to have more flavor and less, well, yuck than cooking sherry. Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually tasted sherry outside of a recipe… huh.

Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take a little taste – does it need more pumpkin? Throw it in! The original recipe called for a 12-ounce can, and that just wasn’t enough. I like the mild pumpkin flavor married to the black bean tastiness, and ended up using all but about 1/2 cup from the 29-ounce can. You may also want to add more salt and pepper here – and then do what the recipe completely forgot to mention: add the cumin. Simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your soup will be very thick and yummy looking. Like this:

Much can be improved by a swirl of balsamic

That swirl you see is the balsamic vinegar. The original recipe calls for a dash of vinegar, but I am of the opinion that, to paraphrase Ms Austen, much can be improved by balsamic vinegar. Swirl it in (I’d estimate about 1-2T), add the chopped ham and stir well. Let it cook for about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat.

Lonely Sour Cream Needs a Bit of Swirling

Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream. The original recipe called for creme fraiche, which is not a product that normally lives in my refrigerator, so I substituted a quite yummy dollop of sour cream.

Swirl, baby, swirl!

I served it with Parmesan Toasted Garlic Bread. Mr and the boys raved, with the boys fighting over whose description was the best (“that soup wasn’t good, mom. It was AWESOME!” “No, it wasn’t awesome, it was THE BEST SOUP EVER!” “No, it wasn’t the best soup ever, it was…” you get the idea). Best of all, there where leftovers for lunch for both Mr and me – and I’m here to tell you, anything made with beans tastes even better the next day – I can’t wait! :)

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Admin on August 18th, 2010

Part 2: The Early Hours

So we’re up, and I’m getting ready. Enjoying my last hours on both feet. Not enjoying cottonmouth or sleepy head or bad dream hangover. One final pic of the Cutsie Tootsies, and we’re off.

Cutsie Tootsies!

I thought Nurse Rached told me to be there at 6.15a. Doors to the surgery center don’t open until 6.30am. WHAT? Is she out to get me or something? Nope, I think I was just groggy. She said an hour before the surgery, which is scheduled for 7.15am. We couldn’t go out for coffee (I might’ve gone on some sort of coffee rampage if I had to be around anyone sipping the beloved brew – or any liquid – right about then), so we sat in the car: Mr Lici playing PSP while I did my NYT crossword puzzle. We’d had the “Advanced Directive” talk the night before, no need to revisit that depressing convo. My no-caffeine, no-liquid, bad-sleep headache had reduced me to monosyllabic answers to any question, anyway.

Finally, the doors opened. We signed in, sat for 10 minutes looking around the beautiful office (complete with coffee pot and two water stations – AGH, will this torture never end?) and chatting. I read Chip MacGregor’s hilarious “12 Deep Thoughts From My Mailbox” out loud to Mr Lici (I’d've cried with laughter if I had any moisture left in my body). BTW, he really is a nice guy, and deeply funny. I thought I detected a very quiet giggle from the receptionist’s desk.

Finally, they called me in. I had to don to requisite hospital johnny (Janey?), which had the requisite confusing ties but was also quite warm and without the requisite breeze in the back. NICE. Plus I got super cute socks! (You’ll see them later, in the post-op). I heart socks. OK, here’s a sneak peek:

So cute, so warm & my favorite color!

My nurse was the exact opposite of Nurse Rached. She was amazing, so professional and soothing and comfortable. Nurse Jenni (hereby designated as Best Nurse Ever) got me situated, then she rolled down my left leg super-cute sock and looked at me. “Which leg is being operated on?”

I suppressed the urge to bolt. AGH! It is Nurse Rached in a nice nurse disguise! After this, I made it a point to enunciate exactly which leg I was talking about whenever asked.

Still being somewhat in command of a clear mind, I said the right leg. She rolled down my sock and wrote NO on my left leg. (You know why, right?)

Nurse Jenni then hooked wrapped a weird pump around my left leg that stimulated blood vessel movement to prevent clots. It wasn’t uncomfortable – that part was yet to come.

Finally, they let Mr Lici in to see me. Turns out I had to take out my contacts “just in case.” I’m pretty sure I turned a slight shade of green, but she assured me I wasn’t going under unless the anesthesiologist decided I needed to. (AGH!) I informed her of my terrible veinage issue (i.e., no one can ever find them and I end up leaving blood draws looking like Pinhead attacked my arms); turns out, the new veinage preference is the back of the hand, where I’ve always my IVs (oh, and ouch). Fortunately, her needle was itty bitty and didn’t hurt nearly as much as the butcher-shop phlebotomist from J’s birth.

Sounds like I’m ripping on nurses here. Hold onto your own purple socks – I’ll tell you all about the fab nurses.

Before I took out my contacts, I noticed Pastor Greg was in the room with Mr Lici. He got up early just to come and pray with me before the surgery! I heart Pastor Greg! (His wife, Marilyn, is one of my most favorite people in the world, too; don’t go getting any ideas – I am not that kind of secretary.)

The Fabulous Dr G comes in and we chat while he goes over my records, and signs my right leg. “Rockstar,” he says. I make a mental note to add him to my Christmas list and maybe buy him a car with my million dollar check – oh, wait, wrong place and time here… the “starter drip” on my IV has kicked in.

Nurse Betty comes in to go over my pre-op. Same questions as usual – by now I’ve got the pre-op answers down to a science. Tynosynovectomy with possible partial plate repair, right leg, no meds this morning, no food or drink since 9pm, sign the consent, yes, I’m comfortable. Nurse Betty, in addition to being amazingly professional, is also adorable. It must be Nurse Ratched’s day off. The anesthesiologist comes in and we talk drugs. (haha.) PS: Note to guys: when you’re talking to people in a prone position, take care of the nose hair grooming, ‘kay? Dr N was really nice, though, and did a great job at keeping the pain and sedation at a manageable level. That may have been the IV thinking…

Mr Lici takes a pic of me just as the “starter drip” turns into a woo-hoo drip, then staff kicks Mr Lici & Greg out (Mr Lici gives me a goodbye kiss and does a great job of hiding any fear. Go, Mr Lici!).

"Give me a thumbs & a smile if you're ready!" I guess I'm ready...

The conversations between me and the nurses has deteriorated into “After that, will I mumble-mumble fall mumble fish tank mumble…” as the IV drip kicks into high gear. I hear something about saline and antibiotic and “IV sedation is better than gas, you’ll come out of this very quickly with a check for ONE MILLION KRONA….” I knew I shouldn’t have finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest last night!

They wheel me into the OR, I’m transferred to an operating gurney, and wrap my right leg in an operating tourniquet. (Something a bloodless operating field. Think about that for a while.) “Just relax,” Dr N says and then it’s…

fade to black...

Stay tuned for Part 3, where the patient:

  • Becomes a Fan of Twilight
  • Finally gets a sip of water
  • Realizes a skirt would, indeed, have been a great clothing option
  • Gets a ride in a wheeled La-Z-Boy
  • Still isn’t patient

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Admin on August 18th, 2010

Note: Sorry for taking so long updating. I was lucid but loopy (oh, yes, friends, that is possible) all day yesterday!

Tuesday (pre-op day) was crazy busy. Housecleaning, bill-paying, catching up on work, answering emails, pre-making meals (well, menus, anyway), squaring everything away. Need proof of the craziness of Tuesday? I had a list!

Here’s my to-do list:

HAHAHA!Hahaha! OK, once I found the lost list, it looked more like this:

The  most awesome Dr G had told me at last week’s pre-op appointment that I couldn’t eat or drink anything (including water) for 8 hours prior to the surgery – contrary to what I was I told during the pre-op phone consult with the surgery center the day before, where I’d been told I couldn’t eat or drink for 12 hours. Yes, folks, 12 hours. If you’ve ever had to fast before a blood test or hospital procedure, you know how bad even 6 hours without water can be. It’s like your body goes, “WHA? I can’t have water? I will protest by giving you a perpetual case of cottonmouth the instant you know you can’t have water! That’ll show you!”

Haha from Consumerist.com

This nurse, by the way, was the same one who’d told me, during the same phone call, that I couldn’t wear my contact lenses to the operation. I was all, “Whatchoo talking about, Willis? I know someone might’ve told you I watch the surgeries on TLC, but I can assure that I will not peek while Dr G slices into my tootsies!” She said, “Ha-ha (no, really, she said “Ha-ha,” in that ‘I’m laughing but not’ kind of way perfected by the Nurse Racheds of the world). Actually we’ll be taping your eyes shut as a precautionary measure.” WHAAAA? Dr G reassured me that I would not be going completely under, I’d have IV sedation, which is a whole ‘nother ballgame. Dr G is the deliverer of very good news.

At around 7pm, the anesthesiologist called with even more very good news: I was not to eat or drink after midnight. WOOT! I celebrated by drinking a half-gallon of water, chased with a one-liter of H2O goodness. I’m not very bright sometimes.

Since the surgery was scheduled for first thing in the morning, Mr Lici made me go to bed at 9pm. (Mr Lici sez: “Yes, you are getting up at 5am. You always forget something and make us late.” What he meant was, “<evil cackle>You are getting up at 4.45am! Boo-haha!”) Whereupon I promptly guzzled another half-liter of my new favorite beverage while reading a really good book.

And since I always have bad dreams right before a big day, and my dreams are Technicolor (seriously, they’re like movies, and I can remember everything. This can be fun if the dream is about, say, Italy. The dreams following, say, a viewing of that movie where the couple set up a camera in the bedroom to capture the ghost at night – not so much). Cue tonight’s triple feature:

Dream 1: The boys are spending the night w/the Megs family because we have to get up so early. M is a notorious early riser, and also a notorious early alarm clock. He lays in his sleeping bag, where they’ve camped out in the living room, and sighs… and sighs… and sighs – until Megs comes down and clocks him with a pillow. (Not that he doesn’t deserve a pillow thunk for waking the entire house before dawn, but Megs would never do that.) In the dream, Megs calls us at 4.30am with the news that she has to take M to the ER with severe stomach pain. I jump out of bed, only to find that The Toe That Would Not Heal (henceforth known as “The Toe”) had become The Toe That Fell Off (henceforth never to be mentioned again). Screams over the closing credits as I nearly fall out of bed on for my first trip to Bruiseland via the hope chest blocking the path to restroom.

Dream 2: I am lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and blissfully getting all of the answers wrong in my NYT crossword puzzle. (1 Down: this can be a jar. Fred. 76 across: German mister. Fred.) Mr Lici came in and calmly handed me an envelope. I, assuming it was the Advanced Directive papers I’d (of course) forgotten on the table, opened it to find out he wanted a divorce. Cue more screams over the closing credits, then we move straight to…

Image courtesy of New Line Cinemas

Dream 3: I’m in the same bed, still hooked up to the IV and doing another NYT crossword. (24 across: another word for blog. Ego. 10 down: Greek eggs. Ego.) A doctor comes in and hands me an envelope. WHAT? Now my anesthesiologist is divorcing me? He tells me what I’ve a champ I’ve been during the surgery (WHAT? I had the surgery already?) and ask me to open the envelope, which contains a check for ONE MILLION DOLLARS. I look up and suddenly realize that the doctor who’s telling me they had to amputate The Toe is DR EVIL. Mr Lici comes in, ready to pounce with his laser-beam sharks, when –

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

It’s time for all good dreamers to wake up and dream of coffee they can’t have!

Read part two, wherein the patient:

  • Says goodbye to cutsie tootsies
  • Nearly ransacks a Starbucks
  • Meets the best nurses ever
  • Isn’t patient
  • Gets a tattoo

XO,

~A

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Admin on July 15th, 2010

Oh, goodness. I woke up to a sore throat and pounding headache. It’s going to be 86 degrees (that’s hot here in the Williamette Valley) – being sick in the summer heat is not a recipe for angeliciousness.

Then I went into the garage to get out some chicken for supper – only to find the outside freezer defrosting. A boy didn’t close the door all the way and it sat ajar overnight. AAAGGGHHH. This has happened before, and we had to lock the freezer. We stopped locking it about a year ago (such a pain), but it looks we’ll have to start doing it again. Unlocking and re-locking the freezer helps remind them to make sure the door is shut.

Fortunately, most stuff was OK, but I wasn’t taking chances with the beef roast. Since it’s going to be hot today and I don’t want to be hovering over the stove at the peak of the afternoon heat, I decided to make a family favorite: slow cooker french dip sandwiches. I’m posting the first half right now, just in case you’re in the mood to stick something in the slow cooker.

Angelicious Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
Perfect for a hot summer day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 eye of round (or other lean) roast, about 3 lbs.
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 T each salt and pepper (I used a roasted garlic pepper mix this time), mixed in a small bowl
  • 2 c beef broth
  • 1 onion, chopped or 1/4 c dried minced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T dried or 2 T fresh minced parsley
  • 1 T mixed pickling spices
  • 1/2 tsp each marjoram, savory, oregano and pepper

For later:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Sandwich rolls
  • Cheese slices (Havarti and Swiss work well with this recipe)
  • Lettuce & tomato

Before you begin:

I say this all the time, but it’s worth repeating: prep is everything. You’re going to be working with raw meat, so make sure to do your prep work before you touch it! Set aside the bowl with one T each salt and pepper, and have the garlic slices ready in a small bowl.

All set. Notice the red mat.

Mix onion, bay leaf, parsley and remaining herbs & spices in another prep bowl and set aside.

Garlicky Goodness, IKEA prep bowl. I heart IKEA.

Spray the inside of your crockpot and also a large skillet (if using a seasoned cast-iron, you do not need to spray). Sprinkle about 2 T of the herb & spice mixture on the bottom of the crockpot.

Let’s get busy:

Place roast on a cutting mat (you are using a special cutting mat that is only for raw meat, right?) and trim away any fat. With a small, sharp knife, make several deep slits in the roast. Stuff these slits with garlic slices. Repeat around the entirety of the roast.

Little pockets of garlic goodness

Remember that red mat? It cost something like $2.99 at IKEA and is only used for raw meat prep (that’s why it’s red! When my other cutting boards wear out, I’m getting a green one for veggies and a new wooden one for bread. :) ). Anyway, it’s important to keep raw meat away from other foods – don’t use the same mat you cut meat on to cut salad veggies – even if it’s been washed. If you have no choice – say, you live in a tent and have no room for a second cutting mat, which is really the only scenario I can think of for not buying a flat, $2 cutting board! – be sure to use a plastic cutting board (wood absorbs bacteria and is very difficult to disinfect) and put it in the dishwasher immediately after use (the dishwasher is the only way to disinfect a cutting board. Well, you could do the bleach/hot water thing, but hey, the dishwasher’s already full!).

OK, sermon over. :) I just want you to be safe.

Rub outside of roast with salt and pepper (or whatever rub you use; I tried a new roasted garlic mix, then added a bunch of pepper. Next time, I’ll go back to my traditional rub). Wash hands well with hot, soapy water, then turn heat under skillet to medium-high.

Rubbed & ready

When hot, transfer the roast to the skillet. Brown, turning to each side after a few moments. This seals the flavor. Be sure to get the ends, too!

You may need to stand the roast on its end to brown the ends.

Transfer roast to the sprayed crockpot. Pour a small amount of beef broth in the still-hot skillet and scrape with spatula to remove the browned bits. Pour this mixture over the browned roast in the crockpot.

Naughty Bits

Pour remaining beef broth and red wine vinegar around (not over, you’ll wash away the rub) the roast in the crock. Sprinkle with remaining herb and spice mixture.

Ready for cooking

Cover and set crock for 6-8 hours on low, 4-6 on high. OH, and don’t wash the skillet! You’ll use it again, with any remaining naughty bits, later.

Ready to serve:

Slice mushrooms thinly. In skillet you used earlier, swirl about 1 T extra-virgin olive oil and place on medium-high heat. When pan is ready, add mushrooms and saute for about 3-5 minutes, or until softened.

Slice cheese into fourths; slice tomatoes and prepare lettuce leaves. Split sandwich rolls and place one slice lettuce and two small slices of tomato on each one.

BUNS!

Remove roast from crock and place on (clean) mat. While roast is cooling (don’t cut a hot roast, you just get a bunch of chunks instead of nice, neat slices), strain broth/spices from crock into a sieve. Pour strained juices into small bowls for dipping.

Cooling time!

When roast is cooled (about 10-20 minutes), cut into 1″ slices. Place one slice of roast on each split roll, then top with one slice of cheese. I used a combo of Havarti & Cheddar. Top with a large spoonful of sauteed mushrooms.

Sandwiches, ready to eat!

When it’s not super-hot, I toast these in the oven; it was hot, so I didn’t.

Serve with homemade potato wedges, bowls of au jus and salad. Watch your picky eaters eat the entire lot & beg for more.

Hungry man!

Enjoy!


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Admin on July 4th, 2010

What are you doing for 4 July? We’re having ribs with friends, then fireworks. Happy birthday, US of A!

(BTW, this is a very patriotic and internationally happy appetizer: red tomatoes, white Havarti cheese, bleu cheese olives, peppered dry salami on ciabatta bread. Has been tested for quality control by @Michael Diehl & passed with (heh) flying colors.)

Ciabatta Bites Read the rest of this entry »

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