Wednesday, February 29, 2012

quote of the week...

"most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine."
~ralph waldo emerson

arches, utah

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

cinnamon rolls...

one of jarad's favorite things is cinnamon rolls, i will occasionally pick up a package of pilsbury ones at the store as a weekend breakfast treat, but this time i wanted to try to make them from scratch.  i love to cook, but don't consider myself a "baker", baking is an exact science and takes patience, i like to cook by taste and without following a recipe.  i adapted the "pioneer woman's" recipe and made a few adjustments and cut it in half...they came out pretty good for my first try.

ingredients for dough:

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (or 2 1/4 ts.) dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 ts. baking powder
1/2 ts. baking soda
1/2 ts. salt

ingredients for filling:

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
plenty of cinnamon for dusting

ingredients for frosting:

1 lb. powder sugar
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup marscapone cheese
3 tb. milk
3 tb. melted butter

how to:

mix milk, oil and 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan.  scald the mixture (heat just before boiling point), and then remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.  when mixture has cooled, add yeast.  let yeast sit for a minute and then add 4 cups of flour and stir.  cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let rise for at least an hour.

this is what my dough looked like after rising for approximately 2 hours, it almost doubled in size.

at this point, you will add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and knead together.  i made the dough the day ahead, so you can store it in the fridge, and it will continue to rise slowly or finish up the rolls.  the next day, i took the dough out of the fridge and allowed it to rest on the counter to become room temp.  i laid plastic wrap on my counter and sprinkled it with flour and rolled the dough out to a large rectangle, i cut the edges with a knife to make it more even.

next step is the filling.  melt 1/2 cup of butter and brush onto dough.  sprinkle both sugars and a generous dash of cinnamon all over.

cut the dough into 2 inch strips and roll up.  place in baking pan and allow to rest for 30 minutes before baking, they will rise all over again...

bake rolls at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden.  serve with plenty of frosting. also had this great way to transform cinnamon rolls into pie could use either the packaged ones or cut your own into slices to form crust...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

tic tac storage...

i've been on a tic tac candy kick lately.  i love the orange and spearmint flavors, and recently discovered that the empty containers make great storage for small arts and crafts supplies.  they are the perfect size to hold beads, shells, seeds, buttons, screws or even thin ribbon. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

garden box...22 weeks

here is our garden box at 22 weeks, the lettuce and broccoli are doing the best right now.  we will probably kill back the squash since the plant is all dried up and not getting any bigger.

the night before we cut back a lot of the broccoli, we prepared it by boiling it and then sauteed with olive oil and chili flakes for a delicious side dish.  i have never eaten broccoli raab before, and the leaves and stems are edible (along with the crowns) it tastes and cooks up very similar to spinach.

the chives are also doing well, they are very easy to grow.  i used them the other night in my chicken squares.  i cut the greens with kitchen shears and they just grow back thicker and fuller.

and the snap peas are just cute...hope they do well, and we get more than 5 peas like last time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

chicken squares...

this is one of my mom's favorite "go to" recipes when hosting a brunch or shower.  it is easy, delicious, versatile and can be made ahead of time.  the chicken filling can be used for chicken salad sandwiches or even creamy chicken enchiladas.  i'm using the filling to stuff pilsbury crescent rolls to make the chicken squares.


2 chicken breasts (shredded or cubbed)
1 package of pilsbury crescent rolls
1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can ortega chilies
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 t. garlic salt
few dashes of tapatio
pepper to taste

how to:

i boiled two chicken breasts and shredded the meat.  you can always use a rotisserie chicken as well, if you are low on time.  combine chicken, sour cream, cream cheese, chilies, green onion, and seasonings to make a creamy filling.

open your crescent roll package and pinch the seam of the two triangles together to form a rectangle.

separate your filling into 4 equal parts, and spoon into the middle of the rectangle.  fold the edges and seal with a fork to make a pocket.

this recipe makes 4 large squares, bake them at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

serve with a salad and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

quote of the week...

"we are still masters of our fate.  we are still captains of our souls."
~winston churchill

newport beach

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

pressure cooker...

as a house warming gift, we received a pressure cooker.  i remember as a kid my mom occasionally cooking with this to make a quick pot roast dinner.  i was not very familiar with how to use it, but now i am all into slow and speed cooking.  our favorite thing to make in the pressure cooker (so far) is steamed artichokes.  i recently introduced jarad to them and we really enjoy them as a snack or an easy appetizer.  however, before we got the pressure cooker, i would usually steam them in a big pot, and it would take at least 40 minutes, the new pressure cooker method gives you perfectly steamed artichokes in 10 minutes!

how to:

i learned to clean an artichoke by cutting the base and top and trimming the pointy tips of the leaves with kitchen shears.  this is how it should look before it gets cooked.

place the artichoke in the pressure cooker with one cup of water, and seal the lid.  once the spout on top starts to whistle and rock (it should only take a minute or two), start the timer for 10 minutes.  when the time is up, release the spout to let the steam out and remove artichoke.  we usually make a spicy aoili sauce to serve with it.


1/2 cup mayo
2-3 ts. tapatio (or to your liking)
dash of dill
salt and pepper to taste

*mix all ingredients to your taste (we like it spicy) and serve alongside your artichoke for a delicious dipping sauce.

we also did fried chicken and waffles for a brunch, using the pressure cooker to fry the chicken.  my next experiment will be to try a roast, but i love the speediness and versatility of this kitchen product.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

garden box...21 weeks

we have made lots of changes to the garden box over the last few weeks.  we have ripped out and replanted (from seed) the basil, and planted green bell pepper and artichoke seeds.  we have sprouts, but are not sure which one is which yet.  the broccoli and lettuce are doing really well, and the snap peas are also growing in nicely.  here is a picture of the overall box...

baby snap peas...


sprouting jalapenos...

we also planted a new herb box with basil, tarragon, thyme, rosemary and dill, i am excited for those to get going so i can use fresh herbs in my cooking...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

new art...

i love to collect interesting art, and you can see from my old blog on my living room, that i have collected quite a few prints over the years. i am not sure how you would describe my style, but anything with johnny cash, skulls or western style cowboys always grabs my attention.  choosing art is a very personal thing, and it's hard to understand why we are drawn to certain artists or pieces, i just know that a world without art or music, is boring.

we exchanged valentine's day gifts the other night over dinner, and jarad had mentioned a few times how excited he was for me to open my present.  he picked the most perfect piece of art to add to the collection, it is called "the lovers" (how appropriate for valentine's day) and is done by the artist dave lozeau.

jarad knows dave personally, from when he used to bike ride professionally and travel cross country on bike tours.  jarad will have to correct me if i am wrong, but i believe dave was their manager.  he is extremely talented and his artworks is exactly what i am drawn to.  i love the "day of the dead" style and his western stuff as well.  i had the opportunity to meet him last year at a "day of the dead" festival in los angeles, and fell in love with so many of his pieces.  jarad picked out the most perfect one, and it is beautifully framed and will have a perfect place of honor in our home.  check out dave's website here to see all of his amazing creations.

Friday, February 17, 2012


our last stop on our big post xmas road trip was portland.  we had heard lots of good things about this city and had high expectations of falling in love with it.  we drove from utah through boise, idaho (which we wish we spent more time in, already planning a RV road trip there this summer) to portland.  it was a long stretch, but we had planned to spend 2 full days in portland (the longest stop in our trip).  we got there and ended up downtown where all the food carts are...this was a good welcome, after being in the car for so long and hungry.

there is a block that is filled with permanent food carts, with every kind of food imaginable.  we checked out every single one and asked the valet guy what he suggested.  jarad decided on a vietnamese pork sandwich, and i went for a green thai curry.  while the food was really good, jarad ended up getting an allergic reaction to the food being prepared with the same utensils that touched shellfish.  after checking into our hotel and resting, we headed back out to the science museum, where they had the "body works" exhibit.  it is a fascinating display of the human body plasticized to highlight muscle groups, tissue and diseased organs.

the next day was new years eve, and the whole downtown seemed to be closed.  we went to voodoo donuts, which had been featured on the food network channel as having some of the best donuts.  we waited in line in the cold to try for ourselves...

we got a large selection of donuts, including bacon maple bar, purple lavender pixie stick, chocolate coconut, and banana chocolate peanut butter.  jarad really liked the donuts, but i thought they looked pretty, tasted stale and were overall too sweet.

we went to a few local gift shops and antique stores, and decided that we really only needed one day in portland.  we hit the food carts one last time before getting on the road and heading back home through northern california.  we both went to the chinese food stand, where the guy made homemade noodles for the choi mein.  it was delicious!

i am glad we went to portland, but we were both disappointed from the idea of what we thought it would be.  we both expected it to be smaller, cleaner and more hippie that it was.

we started the long trek home and spent our last night (new years) in redding, ca., so that we could have breakfast in chico on new years day, and i could show jarad chico state (my college town).  our very last stop was in fresno, so jarad could check out a city park known for its great bike park.  we had a great time on our road trip adventure, and even though we didn't spend a long time in any one place, we never felt rushed and did everything at our own pace.  whether it's a trip to europe, a camping adventure or a road trip, jarad and i have proved to be great travel companions, and i look forward to planning more vacations!  our next one will be next month to visit his family in texas, just in time for rodeo!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


since my last name rhymes with the holiday, valentine's day is extra special to me.  i am not into fancy dinners, flowers and chocolates, but i do like to acknowledge the holiday and the ones you love.  jarad and i decided to make our own special dinner together, with recipes that stem from some of the produce in our garden, and one of our favorite meals in italy (risotto).  since our garden isn't doing all that great, the two things that are doing really well are the spring mix lettuce and the broccoli raab.

our menu consists of risotto with sauteed broccoli raab, zucchini and grilled chicken and a simple side salad. 

risotto ingredients:

2 cups arborio rice
1 large onion (diced)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup marscapone cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
5-6 cups chicken broth
2 tb. butter
large pinch saffron
2 garlic cloves (minced)
salt and pepper to taste

how to:

sautee onion and garlic on medium heat with 2 tb. butter until soft.  add 2 cups of rice and stir together.  once rice is thoroughly combined with onion and butter, add 1/2 cup white wine and saffron and cook until it evaporates.  start with 2 cups of chicken stock and stir.  when the broth is absorbed, continue to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stir until all broth is used and the rice is cooked.  

add marscapone cheese and 1/2 parmesan cheese (to start, you can always add more, and use some to garnish).  stir risotto until thick and creamy.

we sauteed broccoli and zucchini and grilled the chicken to serve on the side.

and our spring salad from the garden, had feta cheese, cucumber and champagne dressing.

we watched a good movie over a great dinner that we had fun preparing together...this is valentine's day our way...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

quote of the week...

"never lose a chance of saying a kind word."
~william thackeray


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

quote of the week...

"happiness is not a matter of events, it depends upon the tides of the mind."
~alice meynell

barcelona, spain

Friday, February 3, 2012

garden box...19 weeks

our squash and cucumbers are not doing that great.  we still have new growth, but since the one plant snapped in half during a rain storm a couple of weeks ago, we don't have much to report on that.  however...we do have some new growth.  jarad recently replanted new snap peas, and they are starting to poke through...

we also are giving jalapenos another try...jarad planted them in the top of the strawberry plant (where the thai chili used to be).  they are also starting to break the soil.

our new superstars are the broccoli raab (right) and lettuce (left).

i thought that broccoli raab was just a leafy vegetable, similar to spinach, but the close up pic shows the crowns starting to form.