Friday, January 29, 2010

Orange Chicken...with a little tweaking

Last night, I made Orange Chicken using a recipe that was published in the Baltimore Sun twice this year. I'm attaching a link to the recipe...
The recipe is a good idea, but here's my alterations (I do wonder if I've ever made a recipe just the way it was written =) )...
1) Every recipe that tells you two put 2 Tbsp of oil in the bottom of the pan and fry it is going to drive you crazy! At least it does me. It's really an idea that people have when they're trying to cut calories, but then the recipe doesn't come out because all the coating sticks to the bottom and I end up wanting to throw out the food and the pan! =) So, back to this recipe. Put about 2 Tbsp of oil--no, just kidding--Put 1" of oil in the bottom of a pan and heat it to cook the chicken in.
2) Put the egg whites and cornstarch in a blender rather than a food processor and if you don't have xtra large egg whites, use 3 lg egg whites instead =)
3) Why don't recipes put in enough sauce =) ? I know it's another way to cut calories. So, my recommendation is to double the sauce.
4) Omit the red pepper flakes if you're making this recipe for kids. If it's for adults, just put a couple if you're a mild person or a few more if you like it spicy.

The coating really is a good one and the sauce is good =) there just needs to be more if you don't want it to turn out dry. It is a good recipe, it's just better with a little tweaking!

PS I bought the Asparagus to try my first recipe from Essentials of Cooking and then my kids got sick with the stomach flu--actually, I think pneumonia was first a few weeks ago and then the pneumonia last week. So, the Asparagus went bad. Maybe I'll try it again in the summer when it's in season =)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Honesty is the best policy, right?

So, a matter of honesty and a matter of discipline...
I always tally our budget halfway through the month and often I find that we load up our big purchases in the first half of the month--which always makes for more of a stretch the second half. It's a cycle. Anyways, I did our budget this week and realized that there isn't much left in it for the last week. There's enough, but not a lot. So, I realized that the best thing is for me to do is to...

Stay home =) Literally, stay home and enjoy all the things I have to do at home with the kids. Go for a walk in the neighborhood after naps.
DON'T go into Target and look at the clearance racks. DON'T let myself look even if I have to run in for something small. DON'T surf the internet.

Stay home... and make the most of what God has blessed us with. And enjoy the time with my kids! I think that's the best solution for me this weekend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dogs: Frontline and Furminator

This weekend I needed to order our puppy some more Frontline. It is surprising how expensive dogs are. I am so thankful we are past the first 9 months. We spent an average of 200-300 per month those first 9 months. That may sound crazy, but we have a Golden Retriever so she had to get spayed, she had to get her appointments (since we got her as an 8 week old puppy) and then had to purchase everything you need for a dog. She also goes through about $20 of toys each month. But, I'd rather have her chew those than our furniture =)

But, back to the Frontline. I am so excited! I had been purchasing it through my vet and it cost $53 plus $4 shipping. I found it at Petsense Online.
It was $33 plus $3 shipping for the 2 packages I bought. Yahoo! $69 for 6 months.

Costco had started carrying it last summer for $35, but they were always out of the package size for Molly's weight category. This makes things much easier.

I also bought a Furminator Furejector brush for Molly. We have a Golden Retriever and I bought the medium size for $33. Petsense had the best price. I am so thankful for it. I would definitely recommend the medium size (large is hard to handle and the small is a lot of work). The furejector really makes it a lot easier too since I have to hold her with one hand and brush her with the other. It really does cut down on hair all around the house. All my friends recommend it to me and I am so thankful that took their advice!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Glasses and Contacts

My husband and I have always gotten our glasses at Costco. Even when we had a huge discount for Pearle Vision one year, it was still cheaper to go with Costco. I have a really bad eyesight and I have astigmatism. Usually, my glasses (w/lenses) run about $130. That's thin lenses with the coatings I need.

I just got a prescription for contacts today. I had to give up on them a few years ago because my fingers were so rough from dishwashing. But, my friend Colleen recommended these amazing gloves that have saved my hands. Bed Bath and Beyond carries them. They're called Casabella gloves. If you have sensitive hands and have to do a lot of handwashing, I highly recommend them. They have helped me so much. I also have contact dermatitis on my left hand to contend with, so I have to be extra careful. Anyways, my hands are finally soft enough (I hope) to handle contacts again. So, I got the prescription and started checking prices this afternoon. Here's the results:
1. 1800 contacts: $44 a box
2. Vision $38 a box ($28 if you order 8 boxes--which is a lot to order at one time)
3. Costco: Yahoo!!! $30 a box and I can order as many or few boxes as I want and they'll arrive in 7 days.

I thought it was interesting that there was such a difference in price. I think I'll stick with Costco =)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yummy Enchiladas

I haven't made enchiladas in several years. I couldn't find an easy recipe for sauce and all the sauces in the markets have MSG, so I just didn't feel I had a good option. But, on Friday night I made America's Test Kitchen's recipe for Fast Enchilada Sauce. This is a link to the recipe someone posted on their website: I did make 1 big change to the recipe. I cut the Chili powder in half. If you like it really hot, go with 3 Tbsp., but I have 3 little kids, so I cut it in half to 1 1/2 Tbsp-2 Tbsp and it was much better (I used 2 and it was still a little warm, so 1 1/2 might have been better). When it was done, rather than straining out the onion to make it a smooth sauce, I threw it in the blender. This thickened it and I actually didn't have to cook it a whole 5 minutes because of it.

For my filling, I sauteed 1 lb. ground beef with 1 minced onion and 1 chopped red bell pepper. When it was done, I threw in two large handfuls of cheddar cheese.

I poured the sauce in my 8x8 pyrex and used that as my dipping dish. I dipped one tortilla, turned it over and then put some filling in the middle and rolled them. I placed it in a 9 x 13 pyrex that had been coated in cooking spray and then spread with a little sauce on the bottom. When I'd filled the pan, I sprinkled cheddar cheese over top.

(I much prefer pyrex for dishes like this to metal baking pans, because it's okay to scrub them when you're done using them.)

I baked them for 30 minutes at 400 and they were yummy! Yay! We can have enchiladas again!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Here's my admission for the new year:

I am horrible at reading recipes all the way through before I begin them! My husband has prevented me many times from messing up a recipe by looking over my shoulder. But, for all the times that he hasn't, I roll with it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Christmas morning, I forgot to add the yeast to the bread for the cinnamon rolls. Oh, NO! Well, I threw it in the kitchen aid and added some baking powder (since baking soda would have added a lot of bitterness). It turned them into more of a biscuit tasting batch of cinnamon rolls, but thankfully they were edible.

You'd think I'd learn.


I just made some soup and missed one of the directions, I added the cider vinegar and orange juice early. I'm sure it won't be that big of a deal, but I just have to laugh at myself!

So, I should make a New Year's Resolution for cooking this year:

1) Read the recipe all the way through before beginning it
2) I'm going to try and work my way through Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson.

My second resolution came to my mind because of the movie Julie and Julia. While watching it, I thought it really would be a blessing to my family and specifically my husband (who loves good food) if I were to endeavor to learn more from Essentials of Cooking. At the end of the movie, I was a bit disheartened and wanted to forget it because of the end, but my husband shared some wise words with me. He told me that he would have said exactly what the husband did to his wife at the end. When we pursue a goal, it should not be for the approval of others. We should pursue the goal because we want to or we feel God is impressing it upon our hearts and minds to do so. He's right. I still don't really like the end of that movie, but I'm trying to think of it in the right perspective. So, as for my idea--I'm not trying to copy what she did in any way. I will probably only do a handful of recipes from the cookbook, but I do want to be a better cook.

If you've never looked at Essentials of Cooking it's nothing like Julia Child's cookbook. Peterson's cookbook is actually written to help people learn how to do gourmet cooking. It covers all the foundations of gourmet cooking--and it has lots of pictures! Cookbooks without pictures just aren't as appealing. I love pictures in Cookbooks. I have come to realize this more and more. This is the cookbook that I use for Hollandaise Sauce and it always comes out =)

Well, I hear my children waking. I hope you have a great start to your new year!