Saturday, November 30, 2013

Done, Done and Done

Did ALL my xmas shopping online, Thursday night! Took me 30 minutes and I was finished for the season. Thanksgiving dinner was spectacular, lots of food and good company. Outside lights are up, all that's left is to put up the tree. That takes maybe an hour? There is a surprise this xmas, but it won't be here for a week or so. So..all the time consuming traditions are done. All that's left is all the cheesy xmas movies on the Hallmark channel  to watch with hot tea and cocoa while knitting/crocheting.  This is the first year I have been done BEFORE December started!

I was a good girl and refrained from ordering anything for myself. I avoided Knitpicks because it's like kryptonite to me. I can't resist it. It's too much temptation. As for the other stores, nothing I wanted. All the gadgets I have are fine and in good working order. Clothes are serviceable, everything else is good.  Made it very easy to shop for me this year *laughs*

I do have to go grocery shopping, its pet food weekend. After many efforts of trial and error, I have managed to coincide the time when both the dog and cats need food. One trip for them all. Fact is, I just hate shopping. I used to not hate it, I actually was a champion shopper. I'm not sure when it because a hated chore, but it did. Now I would rather just order what I need online and have it delivered.  I'm not sure if it's just the fact the stores are full of people that could careless if they are blocking the aisles, or let their kids run rampant through a store oblivious to the havoc they are causing, or people that will run into you because you didn't jump out of their way. It's a bit of all the above. I've gotten tired of people running into me and me having to apologize.

I do want to go see the xmas lights at some point. Now that is peaceful since it's after most stuff has closed. The zoo lights are supposed to be really good this year, I'm tempted to do that as well. Take a thermos of hot cocoa and go see the lights.  Must check with family to see the schedule.

Bah, now it's off to the grocery, the most of all hated tasks. I'm really thinking of starting to use the Safeway delivery option again. It's rather nice.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Snack Mix

Again, Apartment Therapy has done it again. I swear, they are becoming my go to place for cool recipes. I'd never heard of this stuff before. Anything, though, with Nutella in it - is automatically in my good graces.

Dark Chocolate & Nutella Puppy Chow

Makes about 5 cups
5 cups Chex cereal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place the cereal in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pour into a gallon-size zip-top bag.
Place the dark chocolate, Nutella and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts until the chocolate and butter have melted. (If you don't have a microwave, melt the mixture in a double boiler instead.) Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Immediately pour over the cereal and stir gently until evenly coated. Transfer the cereal to the zip-top bag and shake until well-coated with the cocoa powder mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and shake again.
Spread puppy chow onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let cool completely. Puppy chow tastes best within 1 to 2 days of making it, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Mac n Cheese

I'm always searching for the perfect mac n cheese. This might be it!  It's all thanks to Apartment Therapy.

Creamy No-Roux Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 to 6

What You Need

1 pound pasta, any shape
1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 cups shredded cheese, like cheddar, Monterrey jack, or Colby (Colby Jack is PERFECT)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
1. Boil the Pasta: Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat in the pasta pot. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of salt. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Warm the Milk: When the pasta has finished cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Begin warming 1 cup of the milk in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the flour until there are no lumps. When you just start to see tendrils of steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, 3-4 minutes.
3. Make the Cheese Sauce: Turn the heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the milk. Stir in the salt and mustard. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Remove the sauce from heat.
4. Combine the Pasta and Cheese Sauce: In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and 1/2 of the cheese sauce. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add the second half of the sauce and any extra add-ins.
5. Serving and Storing Leftovers: Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated in the microwave. If the sauce is a little dry after re-heating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.

Additional Notes:

• Baked Mac and Cheese: If you have a little extra time, you can bake the macaroni and cheese to give it a golden crust. Pour the prepared mac and cheese into a casserole dish, cover with a lid or foil, and bake at 350°F for 1/2 hour. Remove the covering, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a few pats of butter, and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until the top is golden and the interior is bubbly.

Sunshine, Sweaters and Coffee

It's a picture perfect day here. Warm enough just for a light sweater and sunglasses and sipping your coffee outside in the sunshine. Yeah, it's really weird, usually it's rainy, grey and at least cool enough for a good thick hoodie.

I'm still knitting on the log cabin quilt. It's a slow knit because I haven't been watching as much tv lately. I'm going to settle down with it and knit tonight. I also have two gifts to knit for xmas this year. Luckily, they are easily knit, just need the yarn. Both are in a bulky yarn, so they should make up rather quickly. Gotta love the bulky stuff for quickie knits.

Coffee love today was a tall salted caramel white mocha. I've switched to a tall, it's cheaper and way less calories. Once I looked at the calorie count on what I "was" drinking, I about had a heart attack. Damn! Speaking of that, Burger King and I are officially divorced. That relationship just isn't a healthy one. Well it was healthy on their end, they got my cash. Was NOT healthy on my end, I really don't want to discuss the calorie count on their stuff. "shudders"

I'm also embarking on a new quest. I'm going to learn GIMP. I've been flirting with it for a year or so, but now I'm really going to give it a concerned effort. Photoshop has just gotten ridiculous with it's pricing. I hate the monthly fee they have switched to. I want to own my software, not rent it. I still have my old Photoshop CS2 that I can fall back on if need be, but I'm determined to go it with GIMP this time around.  It's a HUGE ASS learning curve, but it needs to be done. Thank god for deviant art and the nine million tutorials they have.

I'm also considering switching my laptop to linux. I really don't use it that much and want to have linux product in the house again. I need to refresh my coding, I've gotten so damn lazy with it. shame on me.

Also loving the new 4.3 update for the S3. I doubt I will be using the google gear, but it's nice to have the option. I have to say, I really do love Android the best. Not that IOS is not good, the iphone is a remarkable product. I just love the fact I can tweak and android to my tastes.  After all IOS has Catacademy, the only way to learn spanish! *laughs*

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's almost the Holiday season!

No matter what the retailers want me to think, I know that the holiday season does not officially start until the day AFTER Thanksgiving. So therefore, I simply refuse to feed into the hype. I will on Friday, I swear.

I discovered a new author, Dannika Dark . I started with the first novel in her new series, The Seven Series. I totally fell in love with her characters. It wasn't love at first sight, more like love from about halfway through. Naturally, I had to go get the rest of her books which is another series she has been writing. She truly spins a good story and her imagination is fantastic.

My living room is coming together, slowly but surely. I just need to change out the curtains to a winter red. Red is my winter theme, while blue seems to be summer. While neither is exclusive, each color is the major accessory color. I'm just going to live with the fact that my living room is eclectic and never going to be House Beautiful material. No matter how hard I try, it's never going to make that list. Oh well, comfy is not a bad thing.

I spent a good three hours today organizing my music. I had no idea I had so much of it, but I guess I've been collecting music for long enough that's it's a collection now. I did get smart and have it backed up in not one but two places. PC/external hard drive and a large SD card. Oh wait, four..I forgot the cloud server. If you have ever had a crash and burn happen, you become OCD about backing up stuff.

Also gave the cats a bath again today. You would think by the fourth time around, they would both realize they are a: not drowning, b: not dying, c: not giving up one of their nine lives or d: handing over a first born kitten. Sheesh, the amount of howling, hissing, growling and dirty looks is worthy of an oscar. Five minutes after though, they both want cuddles to help them get over the trauma of it all. Nothing like a damp cat on your lap to make your Saturday!

I saw Thor finally yesterday. OMG! The Marvel team just knocks these productions out of the park. The casting, the storylines, the costumes, the sets are all just spot on. I admit, I have yet to read one of the marvel comic books. I know, shame on me. I'm more of a movie production kind of marvel fan. *laughs*

One thing that I hate about the cinema, which I rarely go to, is the previews. Not that I mind the previews for what they are, it's just that they make me want to see a million other things.  One the list: Polar Bears and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Both were worthy of "cinema ticket" and not just "dvd". Yep, that's how I rate a movie. If I'm willing to pay 8 to 10.50 to sit in a cinema with usually rude people, you know I think it's going to be fantastic. Although yesterday, there were exactly six people in the cinema for Thor. It was midday on a Friday..I must remember that!  It was a really nice experience, to be honest. I skipped the mortgage required snack bar. Not in my wildest dreams would I pay 5.00 for a coke unless it came with whiskey, vodka or some other alcohol involved.  Nope, I just went for the movie and I totally enjoyed it.

I also managed three days of the week at the gym! Go me. I know, it's such a tiny accomplishment to most people, but to me, it rocked. I want to go again today. That bullshit of "once you start, you will like it" is true. Damn it. The first five minutes suck ass, but once you get your tunes going and a rhythm, it's actually pretty cool. My thing is I get so bored. I was counting suv's that drove by. I counted 172 in five minutes. Apparently Oregon is not quite on the "more miles per gallon is better" thing.   I'm hoping to go again today or tomorrow.

And now, it's off to tackle housework, I do the heavy cleaning on Saturdays. In my house that means, emptying the dishwasher, hoovering and laundry. It's soooo strenuous. Might bake today as well, depends.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dear Applebee's

Giving a heads up that there are mushrooms in the risotto would have been nice. My dinner was a failure. Boo. Mushrooms are a fungus. Athletes foot is a fungus. Do we see a connection. ANNNND, the statement "mushrooms will not kill you",is a false statement.  They do!!!!!!  Ick, just ick. 

Happy Holidays to me!

The sofa finally happened!!! Yes, I finally caved and bought a sofa. Didn't hurt that the price dropped considerably and honestly, it was a price that could not be beat.  I will go pick it up tomorrow and then bring that bad boy home. Just in time for snuggle season, too!

Today T and I traipsed ALL over. Started with getting coffee at our favorite place, Dutch Brothers. Then it was off to get gas at Costco.,which was 3.04 a gallon!!!! I almost fainted, my car all but tapped danced her way to the pumps. Stopped at Target and OMG, the christmas spruce glade plugs in where in!  I stocked up for the year. I can't help it, I like my house smelling like pine during closed window season. Also didn't hurt to get a Target gift card in the deal, either. Then it was down to Woodburn,OR.  to get mom's curtains. Then we had to get Bug's kid meal at Jack in the Box, Mom's Tacos at Taco Bell, our sandwiches at Subway (which honestly, is the WORST subway I have ever been in). Please do not ask why our family can not eat at ONE place, that answer is non existent. After that, it was a lunch stop to eat, collect Bug and back out.  We hit up the store for the sofa, then to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a citrus juicer. Yeah, I'm going to start doing fresh juice, it's been recommended.  After that I dropped T and Bug off and scooted for home.  All that and my gas gauge never left full - love my car!

Back to subway. T actually called our order in while we were between Jack in the Box and Taco Bell. We ordered and sat in line at Taco Bell and then drove to the subway. Our sandwiches were no where near ready! What's the idea of having "call in " if you don't actually make them. We waited and waited and got told twice they were working on it. No, you're helping every person that walks in the door. I was about twenty seconds from walking out the door when they were finally ready. Never that subway. Nope, not happening. Don't care.

Kind of excited to have a sofa again! I love to curl up and knit and watch movies and knitting in the recliner is just a pain since a cat insist on sitting with me! At least on a sofa, I can spread out a bit more. Annnd, my daybed is returning home. T has finally found a bed she liked and it was delivered today. So, daybed in the den, sofa in living is totally good.

Off to make vegetable stock. I'm making white bean soup tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Possibly the best sandwich ever

I had a veggie delight sandwich from Subway tonight. I've not eaten at Subway in forever!!!! Anyhow, the veggie delight on the honey oat bread with provolone, mayo and mustard is quite possibly the tastiest sandwich ever!

Normally, if I eat out I don't go for a sandwich. However, tonight it was just damned good. And to accompany my sandwich I'm watching Dracula from last week. I'm so slack. I love this show, just didn't get around to watching. I usually don't watch tv during the day and nights I've been watching Haven and getting caught up on that. 

I'm on square number three of the sofa blanket. I have to say, a log cabin style blanket definitely uses up all your odds and ends of yarn. I'm still really wanting to knit one that is made of particular colors. I'm thinking light browns and dark browns? It takes five colors to knit. Maybe a light beige, a tan, a light brown, a dark brown and a very bright color for the beginning center square? Torn between a really bright blue or a bright cherry red?  But, the joy of knitting..I can make two, one with bright blue squares and one with cherry red squares! 

I think that is my absolute fave thing of knitting. I can make it with exactly the colors I want. Kind of spoils you terribly to be honest. You can never just walk into a store and be happy with the offering. You alway see it and go "Oh that would be so pretty in (pick a color)". Grrr.  See, spoiled rotten.  If only I could find a good inexpensive source of material to make tshirts, I would be set!

I can't believe that Xmas is FIXING TO BE HERE!!! I'm not ready. Let me repeat that, I'm NOT READY! Can't it be like August again?  I would even deal with the heat just for a few more months to prepare. I'm not even ready for Thanksgiving. Well, I do have a turkey in the freezer. Plus stuff for pumpkin pie. The rest, yeah...working on that. Apparently, I'm not enthused with the holiday this year. I'm ready to put my tree up. I blame the stores, they put the shiny stuff out earlier and earlier. Soon, we won't even bother taking the stuff down because the stores will be selling it all year long.

I feel knitting coming on....yep...definitely knitting.


Bless my godmother's heart. She introduced me to this and I fell in love. I have since accused her of harboring a grudge towards my childhood dislike of vegetables. The woman had vegetables in almost every dish on her table. I secretly think she was a closet vegetarian.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 chopped medium onion

1 chopped carrot

1 chopped stalk of celery

2 cups chopped and peeled potatoes

salt and pepper

6 cups of vegetable stock

1 cup of tomatoes (peeled, seeded and cored) or use canned ones with the juice.

2 cups of beans, squash, zucchini or kale

Parmesan cheese


Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a stockpot. When hot, add the onions, carrot and celery, cook till the veggies have softened.

Add the potatoes sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock and tomato. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, till veggies are soft and tomatoes break up.

Add the other veggies, stll cooking at a simmer. Cook till all the veggies are soft. Season to taste and add the rest of the olive oil.

Garnish with the cheese. Serve with a good hearty bread on the side.

a small type of pasta like the shells or tubetti can be added at the end as an add on.

Toss in a small white bean with the pasta and have Pasta e Fagioli.

White Bean Soup

This is an all time favorite of mine. It's a standard in my home no matter the season. Why? Honestly, as a child I hated beans! Absolutely hated them. I once sat at the table past midnight because I was told I couldn't get up till I ate the damn things. That was the first time the parents discovered I might have a wee bit of a stubborn streak. My godmother finally convinced me to try this soup and I was won over. Hey, even then, if I was wrong I admitted it.

1.5 cups small white beans that have soaked over night in water.

6 cups vegetable stock, room temperature

1 chopped medium onion

1 chopped med. to large carrot

1 chopped celery stalk

2 bay leaves

pinch of dried thyme

salt, pepper

Drain the beans from their soaking water. Add to a stockpot along with the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil over a medium to high heat, then lower to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally (yes, I use a timer to remind me to stir) until the beans are very soft. Minimum time-1 hour. Add liquid as needed so soup doesn't thicken up too much (you can use water if needed.)

When the beans are very tender, season with salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender and puree the soup till smooth. Or you can pour it into a blender to puree. The immersion blender is much easier.

Serve up with a hearty bread on the side, or stuff in the fridge for a couple of days.


Lentil Soup

1 cup dried lentils, washed and sorted

1 bay leaf

few pinches of dried thyme

1 diced small carrot

1 diced celery stalk

6 cups vegetable stock-room temperature

salt, pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic


Put lentils, bay leaf, thyme, carrot, celery and stock in a stockpot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cook over a low heat till lentils are tender. (about 30 min)

While that is cooking, add the olive oil to a small skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and stir, cooking till tender. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about a minute till it's mixed well with the onion. Remove from heat.

When lentils are tender, remove bay leaf. (trust me, you do NOT want that bad boy ending up in your bowl, unless you're from Louisian where it is common and you fish it out at the table.) Add the thyme and the onion mixture and stir well.

Serve now, or you can toss in the fridge for up to 2 days. If tossing in the fridge, reheat it over a low to medium heat, adding stock if it thickened up too much.

Tomato Soup

Nothing tastes as good as a nice hot bowl of tomato soup in the deep dark days of winter. Well, I kind of like it on the hot sunny days of summer, but that's just me. Up until a few years ago, the only tomato soup I had came from a red and white can. Then I discovered an Italian bistro that made the best from scratch tomato soup. I have been hooked since.

1 cup sun dried tomatoes, loosely packed

1 can of whole peeled tomatoes (28 oz)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon thyme (I can never find the fresh..if you can, adjust up to 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 medium finely diced carrot

1/2 thinly sliced red onion

salt, pepper

2 tablespoons honey

1 quart vegetable stock

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Put the sundried tomatos in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of boiling water.

Drain the canned tomoatoes (reserving the liquid). Put half of them in a shallow baking pan and drizzing 2 tablespoons of olive oil over them. Add the thyme. Roast turning over once or twice, until the tomatoes are dried and slightly browned. -roughly 30 minutes

When all the tomatoes are done, drain the dried tomoatoes and pour their soaking liquid in the baking pan. Scrap up all the browned bits from the pan, breaking up the roasted tomatoes. Roughly chop the dried tomatoes and add to the baking pan.

Add the remaining olive oil into a stockpot and heat over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook till it begins to color. Add the carrot and onion and cook till they start to liquify. Season to taste, add honey and stir till it dissolves in.

Add the reserved liquid from the canned tomatoes and continue stirring till the liquid evaporates. Stir in the stock along with the bits from the roasting pan. Turn up to high heat and bring soup to a boil, then lower till you have a slow boil going. Cover and cook till vegetables are tender. roughly 30 minutes

Garnish with parsely.


Potato and Leek Soup

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

3 leeks, white and light green parts only, (wash well and slice)


1 quart vegetable stock, warmed at least to room temperature


Add oil to a stock pan, heat over medium heat till hot. When hot, add the vegetables, salt and pepper. Cook while stirring for roughly 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are tender. (about 30 minutes).


This can be chilled in the fridge for up to 2 days. It's also a good soup for hot summer days as it is yummy served chilled.

Cauliflower Soup

Makes roughtly 4 normal size servings (two in my household) and can be done up in under an hour.

1 chopped onion

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1 medium head of cauliflower, florets only

salt and fresh ground pepper

1 quart vegetable stock

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Croutons for a garnish


Heat 1/2 of the oil in a stockpot over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally til the onions start to brown. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, caulitflower, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring till the cauliflower starts to soften a bit. (about 5 minutes).

Add the stock and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, the adjust to a simmer. Cook till the cauliflower is tender (about 15 minutes).

Stir in the remaining oil, taste for seasoning and serve with croutons.

Goes well with a hearty salad and whole wheat croutons.

One Hour Vegetable Stock

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 carrots, sliced

1 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

5 to 10 white mushrooms, sliced

10 wo 20 parsley stems with leaves

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and fresh ground pepper


Put the oil in a deep skillet and heat over medium heat till hot. Add carrots, onion, potato, celery, garlic and mushrooms. Let them sit over medium heat 2 or 3 minutes then stir them till they are nicely browned. (More flavor this way)

Transfer to a stock pot, add 6 cups of water, soy sauce, parsley and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then adjust to a gentle simmer. Cook till vegetables are tender - about 30 to 40 minutes. (Here, longer is better if you can.)

Strain, taste and add seasoning if needed. You can use now or store for future use in the freezer. (I actually reuse empty yogurt containers, the quart size. Yes, I know they say don't reuse plastic containers, but I'm a recycle nut. They are excellent for storing soups and broths in the freezer)

Vegetable Stock

2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
1 potato cut into chunks
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
10 or 20 parsley stems
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine everything in a stockpot with 6 cups of water. Toss in a pinch of salt a bit of pepper - this is strictly to your taste. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat down so the soup simmers steadily. Cook for a minimum of 30 minutes. (The longer you cook this the better, but 30 minutes will get you a quick stock). Strain and then taste. Add seasoning if needed.

Use now or store in the freezer.