Archive for the ‘Main Dish’ Category

February 15

When I just have random things to say the date makes for a decent post title, I suppose.  This really is a journal, after all.

I hope you had a beautiful Valentine’s Day yesterday.  Ours was rather low-key, but we had a good time.

Awhile ago, Steve saw this picture somewhere and told me he liked it:

For those of you who can’t tell, it is a Walker (from Star Wars) drinking out of the toilet.  So I decided to embroider it on a t-shirt for him.

This was a lot of work, but fun work, and it turned out pretty well, I think.

I used tear-away stabilizer, which ended up making some of my lines crooked, but perhaps that adds to its charm.  And my husband likes it, so what more can I ask for?

My Valentine gave me a copy of Beauty & the Beast and some mystery gift that hasn’t arrived yet… Evelyn got a copy of this book:

She loves it and is attempting to put to the test all of its guarantees of indestructibility. I’m thinking we may need to buy some of the other titles.

We spent the majority of our day at the Student Union building on campus for a Russian Club Fundraiser, selling cookies.

I’ve had more successful fundraisers, but we had a good time.  After we left, Steve took us to see Gnomeo & Juliet, which was fun.  Evelyn stayed awake for the whole movie, and even enjoyed dinner during the show.  Once home, we enjoyed a late dinner of  Blackened Tilapia with Secret Hobo Spices, one of our recent favorites.  I also attempted to recreate my favorite side dishes from the local Dakota cafe.  The sweet potato fries turned out delicious, but I’m going to have to do some tweaking with the kale to get the same result they do.  Delicious dinner.

And that brings us to today.  Just a normal Tuesday that feels like a Monday.  Evelyn and I spent the morning doing laundry, which is always a blast when Steve isn’t home to help.

Someday we’ll have our own washer & dryer. But until then, I’ve figured out that I can take two baskets full on the stroller at a time.  Don’t let the scowl on Evelyn’s face fool you, she was giggling and laughing the whole time.  She seemed to enjoy our walk in the rain immensely.

And now she is napping and it is time for me to pull out the ironing board and sewing machine.  Hooray!


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First things first, a big congratulations to Steve for being chosen for the CWU Alumni Experience Program.  He’ll be going to Washington D.C. this summer for 9 days to meet people in his field, make important future job connections, and see our nation’s capitol. Yay Steve!

Allright, so it took me all week, but I really want to tell you what we did last weekend.

Because we were crazy and it is learning from the experiences of crazy people that you grow. Prepare for growth.

Steve and I are members of the CWU Russian Club. Steve is the social director, and for our social event last month we invited the Russian Club to our house to teach them how to make Russian food.

It was a lot of fun, and we ended up with at least 20 people in our kitchen at one time.  Steve and I both had our hands full giving people assignments.

Luckily, there was A LOT of chopping, washing, and grating involved. It was great that everyone was willing to help and didn’t come just to EAT the food.

We made Borscht, Russian Black Bread, Eggplant caviar, Kidney Bean Salad, and Apricot and Walnut Vareniki.  Except for the borscht, we used the recipes that Deb from Smitten Kitchen shared in an NPR article. Our scant changes are made in the recipes below, along with Steve’s Borscht recipe.

We also had several people bring food, which was FANTASTIC- beef piroshki, tomatoes with some sort of cheese topping, potato bread, and a delicious walnut and honey dessert bar.

They were a little upset, however, that I served water rather than Vodka.  But they got over it when they tried Steve’s borscht. It’s amazing.

We were able to make all this food, which was enough that we had leftovers, for about $44. Cheap, healthy, good food.

After everyone ate, our Russian professor, Dinara Georgeoliani, entertained everyone with card tricks and we had a lot of group singing of Russian songs.

We really did have a great time, and luckily several club members stayed afterwards and cleaned all the dishes.

I still haven’t gotten around to mopping up the beet stains on my kitchen floor, though.

Please try some of the recipes below, you’ll be really glad you did.  Or come on over- we have enough borscht leftovers in our freezer to feed at least 40 people!

Steve’s Borscht

I copied this from the recipe book I made for my little sister, sorry for the weird formatting, I was too lazy to retype it.

We made our Borscht with pork instead of chicken this time- a little more authentic and pork was on sale.

Russian Black Bread

Makes 2 loaves

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

2 cups water

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

3 cups medium rye flour

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour

1 cup bran

2 tablespoons caraway seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/4 cup cornmeal

In a small bowl, combine yeast and sugar with warm water. Stir to dissolve and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Heat two cups water, molasses, vinegar, butter and chocolate until the butter and chocolate are melted. Set aside.

Combine whole-wheat, rye and white flours in a large bowl. Set aside.

In bowl of a heavy mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine two cups mixed flours, bran, seeds, salt, and shallots. At low speed, add yeast and chocolate mixtures. Mix until smooth and beat at medium speed for three minutes.

At low speed, add half cup of remaining mixed flours at a time, until dough clears sides of bowl and begins to work its way up paddle. It will be very sticky but firm.

Scrape dough off paddle, gradually add flour mixture, and knead to make a springy yet dense dough. You might not use all of the flour mixture.

Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I use my car as my warm area, it works really well.

Gently deflate dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two portions and form into two rounds. Place seam down on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled and puffy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Slash an X into the top.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 minutes or until loaves are well-browned, or register an internal temperature of 200 to 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely on a rack.

Georgian Kidney Bean Salad

Makes 2 cups

1 garlic clove, minced

1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

1 whole jalapeno pepper, minced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped, not ground

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk first seven ingredients in a bowl, stir in kidney beans and season to taste.

Eggplant Caviar

Makes about 2 cups

1 eggplant, about 1 pound

Half a large tomato or one Roma

2 to 3 small garlic cloves

3/4 teaspoon salt

Few grinds of black pepper

3 tablespoons vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork, and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft. Make a few slashes in the bottom of the eggplant, and drain it in a colander for about 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Cut eggplant open and scrape out flesh and seeds with a fork onto a cutting board, discarding the skin. With a large knife, chop the eggplant flesh into very small bits, or use the food processor- but don’t let it puree! Scrape into a medium bowl.

In a food processor, puree the tomato with garlic. Pour puree into bowl with chopped eggplant, add the salt, black pepper, vinegar and vegetable oil. Adjust seasonings to taste.

NOTE: I learned from one of the native Russian girls who came that I did this the hard way. She recommends peeling the eggplant before it is cooked, then chopping into small pieces and sauteeing them over the stove- quicker, less messy, and much easier. I will be doing it this way next time.

Apricot and Walnut Vareniki

Yields about 32 varenikis- according to Deb. I didn’t count- it is considered bad luck to count your Vareniki.

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

6 oz dried apricots (1 cup; preferably California)

1/2 cup walnuts (2 oz), finely chopped

Wonton wrappers

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Make filling: Bring water and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Finely chop apricots in a food processor, then add sugar syrup and pulse until just combined (do not puree). Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup walnuts. Cool.

Put 1 slightly rounded teaspoon filling in center of each wonton wrapper. Working with 1 square at a time, moisten edges with water and fold in half diagonally to form a triangle, pressing edges firmly together to seal. Transfer vareniki to a flour-dusted kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining squares.

Cook varenikis in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until tender, about 9 minutes. Make topping while varenikis cook:

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over moderate heat, then cook bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, stirring frequently, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season lightly with salt. Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar over crumb mixture and toss.

To serve varenikis: Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter, then drizzle about 2 tablespoons on a warmed serving platter. Transfer varenikis with a slotted spoon to platter and drizzle with remaining 4 tablespoons butter.

Serve hot, sprinkled with bread-crumb mixture and remaining cinnamon sugar to taste.

NOTE: This was the only recipe I didn’t really care for.  I think it would have been delicious, although totally unauthentic, to fry these in a little oil rather than boiling them. And the bread crumb topping was really good.

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Weird Cooking

Strange things are happening again.

If strange things happen often enough in one family do they cease to be strange?

Ginger Ale

Steve and I made homemade Ginger Ale on Sunday.

I got the recipe from an issue of Vegetarian Times because my husband somehow accidentally got me a subscription to said magazine.

I love meat.

Once, when I was about 11, I went to my Great-Grandparent’s house and my Grandpa Dunn had a whole closet full of bottles of Ginger Beer.  It was the most magical delicious concoction I had ever met, and I have been pursuing the flavor ever since.

This doesn’t taste like that did, but its pretty good.

And it has just enough ginger anti-tummyache quality to counteract the tummyache causing carbonation!

Mexican Stomach Cassarole

In other news, Steve made dinner for me.

We didn’t get to eat it together because our work schedules don’t permit us to look upon each other, but I’m not bitter.

He called me to tell me he made a casserole with the beans I had leftover from lunch.

He named it “Mexican Stomach.”

When asked why he named it that, he told me that it was made out of things you would find in a Mexican’s stomach. Of course.

Rice, beans, lime juice, cheese, chili powder, and chicken.

Yup, I’m willing to bet you could find those things in a Mexican’s stomach.

They are also in my stomach. It was delicious, and I enjoyed it very much.

What weird things are you making?

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Today was a lovely day for going to yard sales. The temperature was right, we had the free time, and there were great deals to be had.

Yard Sale 6-6

Today we got this beautiful desk, which we will use for our computer when we move in a couple weeks for only $20!

I bought the manequin for $6 even though I’m not sure where we’ll store it, because I had a really hard time passing up the Gottschalk’s liquidation sale manequins for much much more.  I’ll be using him to model things I make to sell.

I found these fun stamps for $2  and I’m excited to make some cards with them.

And, last, but not least, I found 3 lovely hardback books (total of $1.50) which I will be heartlessly abusing and turning into book purses.

I’ll have more about book purses in a forthcoming post. Don’t fall off the edge of your seat.

More importantly, today was my Momma’s birthday. I think shes like 35 or 50. Somewhere in there.

Happy Birthday Mom!

lemon chicken

Mom wanted chicken for her birthday dinner, and I thought lemon pepper chicken sounded yummy. I threw in some fresh parsley and some basil from my garden and it was BEAUTIFUL!!

I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to photo-document the finished meal.  I’ll hang my head in shame for the rest of the week.

It really was beautiful, though.

I roasted the chicken as you see it in the photo and served it right out of the oven.  I also grilled some petite baby carrots that I had been marinading in lemon juice since last night. I love my carrots a little al dente, and the grill is perfect.

I steamed some asparagus in Mom’s lovely, shiny, new asparagus steamer. I also made Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta. It was the star of the meal. I wish I had been able to squeeze my way around the table and grab my camera, but I was stuck.

I’m so sorry.

However, I did manage a picture of the birthday cake.


I didn’t say it was a very good picture.

Mom wanted a coconut cake and I thought it sounded like a good idea to throw a little lime in there.

It was a good idea.

I made a regular white cake but I threw some coconut cream powder in there with the dry ingredients, and a little lime juice and zest with the wet ingredients.  I also substituted the milk with coconut milk. I baked it in 3 8 inch pans and filled it with coconut creme pie filling.

For frosting I made a cream cheese frosting with liberal amounts of coconut milk and shredded coconut. I finished it off with a little lime zest on top.


I can now say I put the lime in the coconut and then I feel better!

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Looking for a tasty substitute for traditional pizza sauce? Try this incredible cheesy version and you may never go back!

First things first, toss out your favorite pizza crust recipe into a disk to form your crust.

Thanks, Steve, what a fantastic demonstrator you are. And that apron makes you look as good as this pizza is going to taste.

Next you’ll want to fill your food processor with some fresh spinach and pulse until its finely chopped. Throw in about 3/4 cup of cottage cheese, along with some minced garlic, basil, and oregano. You know how much you like these, add to your own preference.

Pulse until you get a smooth pale green sauce. The cottage cheese will have become more of a ricotta texture. Spread on your crust, but leave a fairly wide edge.

If you want to add some portabellas to your pizza, now is a good time to remove the stems and chop them to your desired size.

Brush the fungi with some olive oil, and while you’re at it brush some on that edge of your crust you left bare.

Sprinkle heartily with mozzerella cheese, top with a little chedder and asiago if your heart desires. When it comes to cheese my heart always desires.

Sprinkle some finely grated asiago or parmesan cheese on the oiled edges of your crust. If you have any doubts about how fantastic this will be please throw them out the window and try it. Trust me.

Add your mushrooms, a little more cheese, perhaps, and some coarsly ground black pepper. Sniff and enjoy the aroma.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400° for 10-14 minutes. When the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned and your house smells like heaven it is done. Remove, slice, wait 2-3 minutes so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth.

Enjoy! Tell me how you like it so I know if I should keep creating recipes for your personal enjoyment.

But I will, anyway… for mine.

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Steve is an inventor. He creates book series, designs things, and makes up recipes in his head. Wednesday night our family was treated to a series of chip-coated chicken nuggets by my one and only. It was delicious! He marinated the chicken all day, in several different types of marinade, then he coated all but the lime-marinated chicken in different varieties of crushed up chips. He used regular Doritos, Ranch Doritos, Chile Cheese Frito’s, and Fiery Hot Cheetos. Yum! My favorite was his Fiery Hot Cheetos Chicken, so I’m going to share that recipe with you. It goes really well with some black beans flavored with lime juice.



Steve’s Hot Cheetos Chicken



2 Chicken breasts, cubed


1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1/3 c Vinegar
3-4 large dried chili peppers


5-6 garlic cloves
1/2 onion


1 (99¢ size) bag of Fiery Hot Cheetos




Combine the chili peppers, garlic, and onion in your food processor, processing until smooth.
Make a marinade with all the ingredients except the chicken and Cheetos.


Put the chicken cubes into the marinade and refrigerate for 3-5 hours.


Crush your Cheetos. A food processor works best, but you can do pretty well if you spend some time at it with a rolling pin.


Roll your chicken in the chips to coat. Place on skewers.



Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink inside.




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