Saturday, October 13, 2012

Grandpa's 90 Birthday Celebration

This past weekend I had the privilege of celebrating my grandpa's 90th birthday with my family. For the first time ever, the whole family was there: all of my grandparents' children, their spouses, and their grandchildren. Out of all the people I know, my grandparents are some of the ones that I respect the most.
They did trendy things before they were trendy. They got married young, but were older when they had children. They were entrepreneurs, at just age 20 and 24 they purchased their first business: a gas station and cafe. When it literally blew up in a gas explosion, they decided to go into education. They both have their master's degrees in teaching and Grandpa completed all the coursework for a Ph.D. Grandpa eventually became the Assistant Superintendent of a school district. Once he retired from that he got a job working for the EPA long before everyone was environmentally conscious. In spite of the fact that they made plenty of money, Grandpa rode the bus at 6:30 in the morning so he could get the discounted bus fare. However, the best legacy that my grandparents have left me is that they instilled a love of Jesus and a knowledge of the truth into their children and therefore their grandchildren. If my life is one tenth as influential as my grandfather's, it will have been far more than I could have ever hoped for. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to celebrate him. We had a wonderful celebration. We all got dressed up. Rode in a limmo. Went out to a nice brunch, and took family pictures. 


Friday, September 21, 2012

Easy Oven Pancake

Phil and I have a Saturday morning routine. If any part of this routine gets disrupted, it ruins my Saturday. Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic. I promise I don't have OCD, I just really like routines. Part of this routine includes him making me the breakfast of my choice, usually chocolate chip pancakes. I know, my husband is wonderful and I am spoiled. This past Saturday I decided to be a nice wife and make him breakfast so I turned to my favorite cookbook ever: Colorado Collage.  This is a super easy recipe and it is yummy, my favorite kind.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups milt
3/4 cup flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butter in 9-inch glass pie pan and melt in the oven. In a blender combine the milk, flour, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Pour into the pie pan with the melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake 10 minutes longer. Invert onto serving platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar and berries. This would be better with fresh berries, but we only had frozen at the time. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Random fact about me: I like the fake maple syrup better than the real stuff. The real stuff is just runny and so sweet. Does that make me a weirdo? Oh well, they are both terrible for you, even if only one has high fructose corn syrup. Whatever.

This is what it looks like out of the oven, don't worry if the sides get tall.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Day in Santa Cruz

A few weekends ago, Phillip's brother came to visit us for the weekend. He is more outdoorsy than his other brothers so we decided to take him to Santa Cruz for the day and go kayaking. I'm not so sure he had a good time kayaking, but Phil and I sure did. Not only did we see the usual sea lions and otters. But we saw the little harbor seals as well. Those are the smaller seals that are lighter in color and have spots on them. The sea lions can be a little scary when you are out in the ocean, they are huge, and loud and so mean to each other, but the harbor seals are just plain cute! The otters are adorable too. We saw a little pair just hanging out together and cracking their mussels on their belly. I want to snuggle an otter. The best part though was seeing dolphins while we were out. Not just 1-2 either. No, we saw a whole pod of them. We were watching the pod to our right as they traveled surfacing every so often and we glanced to our left and a dolphin surfaced about 10 feet from us. It startled Phil, especially since he is Mister Safety and always follows the rules. You are really not supposed to get close to the wildlife, but we weren't seeking them out, sometimes you just can't help what comes close to you when you are out there. 

Phil's brother fell in. I felt bad, that water was cold. We were wearing wetsuits, but it takes awhile for those to warm up. It took him so long to get back up that the lifeguard hopped on his surfboard and paddled out to make sure he was okay. After that, he wanted to go back, so we did. I don't think he felt very comfortable about there and had a hard time keeping up with Phil and me. We were in a double kayak so we had twice the power, in spite of the fact that Phil says I never paddle, which isn't true. I am a girl for goodness sakes, I don't have the muscle capacity that he does right?

Are you jealous of my wetsuit worthy body? :-)

After kayaking we had lunch on the beach by the canal. It was a gorgeous day, and it is never a gorgeous day in Santa Cruz. Phil and I have been very blessed with the weather on our day trips lately. 

Looks like Phil should have brought some sunglasses. Or not, shortly after this was taken Phil's brother lost the Ray Bans he is wearing. Oopsie.

I love this guy.

 Mandatory feet in the sand shot. 

Phil's brother decided to go swimming. This time on purpose. 

He looks like he is freezing, clearly the water was cold at the shore too.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vegasaurus Sandwiches

Growing up, my family always had a membership to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We frequently visited. When I say "frequently" I mean my dad took me every single Saturday for the weeks that my mom was on bed rest while pregnant with Kate.  I guess it was hard entertain a 4-year-old while laying on the sofa all day. I think I might have To the Limit memorized I saw it so often. Every time we would go, Dad would take me to the cafe and order what they called the Vegasaurus Sandwich. He liked it for the sandwich. I liked to steal the homemade potato chips. Anyway, we started to make them at home, especially during the summer. We would all get pretty excited when Mom announced we were eating these for dinner. 

prep time: 10 minutes
serves: 2

bread, bagels, dutch crunch rolls, or whatever bread you like for sandwiches
cream cheese, the garden vegetable variety is best
2-3 oz of sliced cheese, any kind you like, I use cheddar or pepper jack
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2-1/2 red onion, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
alfalfa sprouts
spicy mustard, if you like that nastiness
Italian dressing

1. Toast the bread if you like it that way
2. Spread a thick layer of cream cheese of the bottom piece of bread
3. Put the sliced cheese on top of that
3. layer all the other ingredients (except dressing) over it. This works best if you put a thin layer of sprouts between each veggie layer to give them something to grab and help them stay in the sandwich.
4. Use a basting brush to brush 1-2 Tbs dressing on the other piece of bread. Put it dressing side down to close the sandwich.

Of course I like to serve these with kale chips.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Turkey Chili

I love this recipe, my husband loves this recipe, overall, it is a winner. It makes a ton, which means that I don't have to cook for 3 nights in a row, which makes it even better. 

Serves: 8ish, but we make it and eat it for 3 days. My husband is 6'5" and weighs 230lbs, so I say he eats for 2.  
Time: 30 minutes

1 onion chopped
1.25 lbs ground turkey
3 15-oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans of kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz can of black beans, drained
1/4 cup chili flavoring, I used Penzey's chili 3000
1 tsp oregano if it isn't in your chili mix
1 Tbs ancho chili powder
1 Tbs cumin
1-2 Tbs chopped garlic, we really like garlic
pepper to taste

If I have them laying around the fridge and feel the need to use them up, I also add bell pepper, jalapenos, poblanos or any other pepper I have floating around. Two cups frozen corn is also a yummy addition.

Are you ready for the really difficult directions? Here you go:
1. Brown onions and turkey together in a least a 6 quart pot. 
2. Add everything else in the order shown and heat for 15 minutes. This is best if you let it sit in the fridge overnight. Top with your favorite toppings before eating.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vegetable Turkey Burgers

My husband was raised a vegetarian. I like meat and I think it is difficult, although not impossible, to get enough protein without it. Before we got married, we had a discussion on what we would eat and came to an agreement: my husband agreed to eat non-mammal animals and not cook any disgusting (and they are all disgusting) vegetation meat substitutes, and I would not cook any mammals for dinner. Therefore, we eat our fair share of turkey, chicken, and the occasional salmon. This also meant that I had to replace ground beef with ground turkey all the time. I have found that I actually really like turkey better than ground beef. Although, sometimes I just have to have a real burger when we go out. I hope you enjoy this healthier version of a burger.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes if on grill, forever and a year if on the stove/oven (about 45 minutes)
Serves: 6

2 medium carrots
1 medium zucchini
1.25 lbs ground turkey
2 eggs
1-3 Tbs of whatever mixed seasoning suits your fancy at the time (1 Tbs if using spices,3 Tbs if using herbs, I used 2 tsp Penzeys Arizona Dreaming this time around)
1. If you don't have a grill, heat the oven to 350
2. Shred the carrots and zucchini in the food processor.
3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Shape into 6 patties
6. If you don't have a grill, brown each side of each patty on a nonstick pan over medium heat (about 2 minutes per side) and place on a cookie sheet. If you have a grill, grill these, but be careful, they fall apart easily.
7. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping the patties at about 10 minutes. I bake mine on a wire rack, but you you don't have to. Do line your pan with foil or it will be a mess. Put cheese on during the 2 minutes if you are using it.
8. Top with your favorite toppings and eat. I did pepper jack cheese, guacamole, roasted red peppers and tomato and lettuce and it was yummy. Don't worry, I did figure out how to fit it all in my mouth. :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

My "Birthday" Weekend

My birthday is at the end of this month, but Phil will be in Delft for a conference that week so a few weeks ago, I sent him a very detailed list of what I wanted to do the weekend before he left to celebrate. So this weekend we celebrated my birthday. It started with us driving to San Francisco to eat lunch at Thai Time. It was delicious! I love Thai food and their portions were huge, we ended up taking 1/2 of our meal home. I snapped this after we had stared to devour our food.

Here is the handsome hubby.

Then we stopped at an Asian market. 

We bought this mango because it was the largest mango I have seen in my life. Seriously, it was 2.5 lbs.

On the way to our destination, we stopped at a pullout because the view was beautiful and it is never clear in San Francisco, but on this day it was. If you look closly you can see Alcatraz and the Palace of Fine Arts in the background. 

Finally we went to the Walt Disney Family Museum. We are crazy about Disney. In the 4 years we have been married, we have been to Disneyland twice, Disney World, and on a Disney Cruise. The museum was alot of fun. 

Phil made us pizza for dinner and after we went to visit some friends who live in Aubi Dhabi but are in town for a bit. What a great way to celebrate my birthday.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Organized Jewelry

When we moved to California, I knew that our apartment would be tiny, its 450 square feet tiny, but my husband insisted we live on campus. It has actually worked out really well for us, especially since we are a 1 car family and it came furnished. My desire to buy furniture for an apartment in California is about zero since the goal is not to stay here, furniture seems permanent, like its a big commitment. So when we moved, I purposefully didn't bring very much jewelry with me. It all fit in a tiny box a purchased at the Mart of Walls. However, when it comes to jewelry, I am weak and my husband is generous, so pretty soon my little box was overflowing. Now my "jewelry box" looked like this:

and this: 

and this:

What!? You couldn't tell those were jewelry boxes? Yeah, me neither. It was bugging me for along time and since I am not working 60+ hours a week to finish a master's degree in 9 months anymore, I thought it was time to get to it. I bought a cork board, burlap, upholstery tacks, clear bulletin board tacks, and 3M command hooks and went to work. A few hours later, I now have a lovely place to store all my jewelry. 

I can't take credit for this brilliant idea. I stole it from the lovely Paige over at Simple Thoughts. Awhile ago she made one for herself, and more recently, her daughter made one. I really wish I could find the doorknobs her daughter used here, but we don't have a Hobby Lobby. Oh well, we don't have a drill either, so I guess it would be hard to attach them to the board anyway.  

I don't think I need anymore teal jewelry. Can you guess what my favorite color is?

I don't need more silver bracelets either.

Just cover the board with the burlap using the upholstery tacks around the edges. Hot glue the edges that stick out to the frame in the sides or back. Put the clear tacks into the board and hang jewelry and you are done.

Do you know what the best part of the project is? Look at all that room for new jewelry!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kale Chips

I grew up in Colorado, the best place to live ever. Now I live in California, not the best place to live ever. Its my husband's fault really, he just had to get a Ph. D. and he just had to get it from Stanford, and Stanford just happens to be in California, so until he finally obtains said Ph.D. we are stuck here. But living in California with the love of your life is much better than living anywhere without him, so I try not to complain too much. I don't always succeed. Anyway, one of the best aspect of living here is the produce, it is plentiful and inexpensive. I have tried a plethora of foods I barely even knew existed before I lived here. One of my favorite discoveries has been kale chips. I thought people might be exaggerating a bit when they talked about how good they are. They were not. They don't taste like potato chips, but they do get crunchy, and they are delicious and nutritious. They are a totally guilt-free snack. And best of all, they are easy, perfect for the lazy cook. 

prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
serves: 2

1/2 bunch of kale
1/2 to 1 Tb olive oil
a little bit of salt

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Wash and dry the Kale, it must be really dry to ensure that it crisps. To make sure mine is really dry, I skip the whole washing step. Yes, I am serious. I know you must be thinking: do you know what is on those heads of kale? Yes, yes, I do. I have a masters degree in environmental engineering and my professors informed me exactly what could be on that kale. It doesn't keep me up at night. You should have about this much kale:

3. Tear the kale into large pieces, removing the thick stems as you do. It will shrink quite a bit. 
4. Place it on a large cookie sheet and pour olive oil on top. Use your hands to make sure all the leaves have some oil. They should not be completely coated, but they should all have some oil. Start with 1/2 Tbs and add more if you need it. Evenly distribute the kale.
5. Sprinkle lightly with salt, they will shrink and get salty fast.
6. Place in oven for 10 minutes.
7. Remove and flip the pieces. They should be shrinking. 
8. Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes, but after 5 minutes, check it often to make sure they aren't turning black. They should have a papery, crispy texture when they are done.

These are great with different variations of olive oil and salt. This batch was made with chipotle olive oil and it was so good. You can also try garlic salt or other seasonings as well. I have also done an entire head of kale on only one sheet and it was fine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peach Crisp

Ok, so this isn't healthy, but it certainly is delicious. Some people try to make dessert healthier by replacing sour cream with yogurt, using Slpenda or low-fat ingredients, or making healthy nut cookies. I don't believe in that business. If I want to eat healthy, I'll go eat a salad thank you very much. Healthy food is delicious. However, if I want dessert, I want DESSERT, not something parading around pretending to be desert. I feel the same about meat, but that is for another post. For about the last month peaches have been $.79/lb at the only market that I can stand. I hate grocery shopping. Thank goodness that my husband was kind enough to take over that chore after a year of marriage. Anyway, if summer peaches are available in your area, try this out, unless you are trying to stay away from sugar.

Prep time: 30-45 minutes depending on if you peel the peaches
cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 8


about 7-9 large peaches sliced into 8ths*
2-3 Tbs instant tapioca
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter straight from the fridge
3/4 cup cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal

*If you don't like skin on your peaches, you can boil them for 1 minute, put them in cold water and the skin should come off. I tried it with the last crisp I made and the skin would not come off, so I left it on. This didn't stop the entire crisp from being devoured when I brought it as dessert for a dinner party, so since I am a lazy cook, I think I will leave the skin on from now on.
This recipe has been modified from a family apple crisp recipe, I am too lazy to peel the apples too. I know that bugs you Kate. :-)
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Toss the filling ingredients in a bowl and place in a casserole dish, I used a 2 1/2 quart corningware dish, but a 9x13 works too. It should be about this full:

3. Put the sugar and flour into a food processor fitted with the "S" blade. Cut the butter into 1/2-1 Tbs chunks and place it in the food processor. Pulse until the butter is approximately pea-sized.

4. Add the oatmeal and pulse 2-3 more times, just to mix it in, but don't cut it up.
5. Sprinkle topping on peaches.
6. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Note: This is not best right out of the oven, it is soupy and needs a few hours to set up. It is awesome served with vanilla ice cream. If you ask my husband, you should buy all natural ice cream, because it is well worth the extra price. We used to buy Breyer's, but then they changed their formula and the husband won't touch it anymore. Now we buy less, but much higher quality Ben and Jerry's. Kate, if you are wondering what to get Phil for a gift ever, you should buy him a Safeway gift card and tell him he can only spend it on Ben and Jerry's because he feels guilty spending that much on ice cream. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mexican Soup

This is modified from the Weight Watchers 0 Points Mexican soup. I added beans, because everything is better with beans. 


6 cups vegetable broth (I used 6 cups water and Better Than Bouillon)
14 ounces canned diced tomato
2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces (frozen is good too)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small zucchini cut in cubes
1 cup tomatillo, cubed (these look like green tomatoes with a weird papery skin that you take off)

1 poblano
1 medium jalapeƱo, membranes and seeds removed
1 medium red or yellow 
1 Serrano 

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 roasted red peppers* 
1-2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 medium poblano chili pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cans black beans (or start with 1.5 cups dried beans and soak and cook)

*you can use canned, but that would require that I go to a real grocery store, so I just broil 2 red peppers and rotate until the skin is black, remove from oven and put in a covered bowl to steam them and then remove the skin

1. cut poblano, jalepeno, onion, and serrano into large pieces and pulse in the food processor until the pieces are slightly larger than salsa chunks. put in a large bowl
2. add all the other chopped vegetables and garlic to the bowl
3. blend the peppers in the food processor with 1 cup broth (or water and just use enough bullion to make up for it later)
4. Heat 5 cups broth until boiling
5. Add the veggies, reduce to medium, cook 10 minutes
6. Add the tomatoes, chipoltle pepper, cumin, lime juice, beans, and pepper mixture, heat through
7. Add cilantro to individual bowls

By the way, our favorite spice is cumin, so we use alot of it around here.

Quinoa Salad I

Well, there are sure to be many quinoa salads on this blog since I love the stuff and we buy it at Costco- meaning we could feed an army with our quinoa, so here is the first one.

Ok, I didn't put the avocados in here yet, but pretend I did

Time: 20 minutes
Feeds: 4 for lunch, 6-8 as a side dish

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 14-oz can garbanzo beans
1 14-oz can kidney beans
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 avocados

3 Tbs cup olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper

Boil the water and add the quinoa, reduce to low and cover for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, put all the salad ingredients except the avocado in a bowl.
When the quinoa is done take it off the stove and add the dressing ingredients to the pan with the quinoa. Mix it all together.
Dump the quinoa on top of everything else and stir it all together
Right before serving, cube the avocados and  mix them in

Kate, I promise all the recipes won't be quinoa since you are probably tired of it since I feed it to you every time you are here. But its gluten free and that is the cool new trendy way to eat.

Just for you Kate

Ok favorite sister, since you asked for it, I am starting a blog with healthy (and not so healthy) recipes, even though there are already 1000s of blogs out there for that. Maybe I will talk about other topics too, we'll see.  Anyway, I guess I should post an actual recipe, so I guess I will go do that now.