Wednesday, April 21, 2010


One thing I am not good at is commitment. Oh, I'm good at the big stuff: I married my wonderful husband for life and nothing will ever change that. I have my boys and I tell them everyday that there's nothing they could ever ever do to make me stop loving them. I'm a CASA and that is at least a two year commitment that I am heartily looking forward to. It's the little things, like, "I'll call you back as soon as I know." or "I'm gonna shine my sink everyday cause FLYLady tells me to." or "I'm gonna make a new recipe EVERY day in April!" These things that sound easy always trip me up.

A few months ago, I would have spiraled into a moody funk that would have lasted for days at the merest hiccup in my plan. I have spent a few too many years setting my bar way too high and then beating myself up for missing the unattainable but lofty mark. I realized that my Dad, (the all powerful, all loving One) doesn't give a hoot for my lofty aspirations. I mean He does, don't get me wrong, but I have a Dad who just wants to be with me and He just loves me. A beautifully organized and well executed meal plan can't make Him love me any more than a messy house and 10 undone (or pre-done as I like to refer to them) loads of laundry could make Him love me less. So I'm not stressing about it.

We've been having new food. Even when I don't tell you about it, we do. Most of the time. So, Monday, we had Joshua and Karen over for dinner with their girls. On a side note, I'd like to think I would know what to do with a girl if I had one, but my interactions with them lead me to believe that that might not be the case.

We had Gnocchi with Sausage and Swiss Chard.

It was a hit. It was a little too spicy for the Tinys and Josh (my husband, not my pastor). I think that gnocchi (what's the plural of that? do you add an 's'? whuteve) are/is a little boring, kinda slimy and not that fun to put in my mouth. It's an opinion, don't hate. But it really was pretty good, it's mostly just a texture thing for me. For dessert, Karen and I made these little kiwi-lime tartlets...Yowza! I could eat those every day and they were SO easy! If you want the recipe, ask Nakita...
Here's those:

AND THEN! A winner! It makes me happy to call it noodles with peas and cheese, cause that rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? But the real name was Ricotta Pasta with Peas and Grape Tomatoes.
Again, it was Rachael Ray. I would say it was very close to 30 min. It was so easy, and good for summer because it was served kind of cool. That was mostly my fault because I was making these:

Garlic Parmesan Crostini! Dude! It's FRIED toast with cheese on it!
I'm not even kidding.
Oooooh! Heaven is a place on earth! It's wherever these little butter drenched babies are!
Don't get me wrong I really like the pasta! Like I said, it's good for spring or summer cause it's cool without being cold, and it was really fresh tasting and light. I almost would think of adding a little mint into it too, cause I'm crazy like that, but the fresh basil was SO nice! It's totally a keeper. Back to the bread. YUMM! YUMM! YUMM.
Yesterday we kind of had pecan crusted chicken tenders with a nice salad with tangy maple barbecue dressing. I shall elaborate. For whatever reason, I was again procrastinating on making dinner. Josh was going to be late home from work and, oddly enough, that always causes me to stall dinner. SO I pull out my chicken and start it to thawing, then I remember why I haven't made this recipe before. NO FOOD PROCESSOR! Duh Carlie! Get it together! Cripes! well what did I do? You ask. I hand chopped a cup of pecans into a fine chop. It took for-freaking-ever. Then I had to bread and fry them... Fine whatever... I made the dressing, which was good, and when I went to get the lettuce, I found that it had been pushed to the back of the fridge. It froze and and my salad loving hopes were shattered like the ice clinging to the soon to be wilty romaine leaves. Well, it was about then that I decided that I wanted to go to Josh's practice, I called up Amy and told her I'd feed her if she came over. She did. It's cause she's cool like that. I promise not to take advantage of her now that she lives so close. Maybe.
Anyway, Josh came screaming through the kitchen looking for food, and left a trail of week old macaroni salad behind him. I ate one piece of the chicken, and then asked Amy to cook the rest and feed the boys so I could go. She did. It's cause she's cool like that. Anyway, they were sufficient. I didn't get pics, because I was in such a hurry and also they weren't too pretty.
Tonight was supposed to be sweet pea soup... But as evidence testifying to the first few paragraphs, it didn't happen. Instead, we ran to, I hate to say it, McDonald's. It's true. Please don't hate me. We were in a hurry. Jackson and I had a great date and Josh and Noah and manly time at home.
It's been a good week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NFA: It's gonna be a long one.

Well, for whatever reason, the picture of the chicken phyllo bundles would not load to my blog, thus causing me to postpone the blog for DAYS. We have continued to eat, and I have continued to take pictures.

New Food April is beginning to spread like wildfire. My friend Josh Guth told his wife that they need to hvae New Food May. We were having Tagine Style Chicken at the time and she replied, "We're not having this!" But I'll get to the Tagine Chicken later. There was some talk about who I would have play me in the movie... it was Beyonce. But there's lots to catch up on, so I'd best get started.
Let's see... after phylo chicken bundles was Vodka Cream Pasta.

This picture cannot adequately describe how much food there was. Again, you guessed it, Rachael Ray was the conspiritor. I kid you not, on the recipe, it says makes two servings with some left over. Well, being the thinker that I am, I knew that it would be more than that, but Josh and Nakita were coming over. So, I "halved again" the recipe. Five days later, there's still some in my fridge. But you know, it was awesome!

There was salad. There was bread. A good time was had by all.

Following vodka cream pasta was chipotle chicken rolls. They were supposed to be with avacado dipping suace, but it was not until I was cutting into the avacados, that I remembered I don't have a food processer. I was running late, so those avos went right into the guac, which was as usual, devine. We had the chicken rolls (Shhh, I used turkey) on Sunday for Josh's birthday party. Lots of friends came to the Rivas House to hang out and eat TONS of food. We had a great time and my love was blessed. I forgot to take pictures, but that's ok, because, while they tasted good, they were not pretty. I got to use some new ingredients and that was fun. Well, one really. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The recipe said one and I didn't really think that'd be enough, but trust me when I say that it was!

Moving on... (I told you it was gonna be a long one!)

Monday was one of my favorites! It might go into the permanent rotation. Wait for it....! German Potato Salad with Keilbasa!




It was so good and easy, that 2 days later I still remember the recipe:

2lbs new red potatos, quartered and boiled until just fork tender

1 med. red onion, quartered and sliced thin

1 cup beef stock

3tbsp red wine vinegar

8 strips bacon cooked and chopped

1 keilbasa cut in half moon slices

1 head kale coarsely chopped

you put the reds on to boil and put the bacon in to oven to cook (at 400) they get done at around the same time. next you take a sautee pan and toss in some EVOO (thanks Rach) and the onions. When they're tender, you toss in the kale until it's wilted just a bit, then add the stock and vinegar and take the pan off the heat. Next you cook the keilbasa in another pan until its crispy on the edges and warm through. Everything's basically done at this time so, drain the reds, chop the bacon,put the reds back in their pan, add the onion stock mixture and the bacon, then fold in the keilbasa. At this point, I added some flat leaf parsley to make it look pretty and thanks to RR's exuberant use of it, I have begun to love the taste... Be careful that you don't start to smash the potatoes, and salt and pepper according to your doctor's reccomended sodium intake levels.

Seriously, to a girl who grew up with a German mama making stuff like this up in her head all the time but not quite turning out every time, this recipe is what a good memory tastes like. It was a winner!

And, last and quite possibly least was last night. Quick Tagine Style chicken with couscous.

If you're like me, you didn't know that Tagine is pronounced: tah hee nee.

That's all I have to say about that.

When I read the recipe, I discerned that it was of Mediterranean origin. I still don't really know where it came from, and that's ok. I went to winco to get the necessaries, and found the prunes white raisins, and couscous in the bulk section. A thing for which I am eternally grateful, because we will most likely never have need for prunes or couscous again. I also spent some dough on some spices I probably won't ever use again, but on the off chance that I, someday, participate in a game where I have to shout out the spices in my cupboard and I win with turmeric and corriander and saffron (one of these I didn't use in this recipe, you have to guess which), I will look back on this day and rejoice!

You know what I don't like? Oatmeal.

You know what else I don't like? Sand.

Couscous is like eating a cross between soggy sand, and dry oatmeal. Why would you do that? If you are reading this and couscous is a staple in your diet, don't be mad at me for deriding your eastern pasta. If you've never tried it and my Adventure is spurring you to embark on your own, I give you this warning: Don't buy couscous!

There, I've done it. I'm caught up. Now I have to go make some tomato basil pasta nests. Honestly, I'm not really feeling it tonight. We've had a lot of Italian food lately and ( I hate to say it) I'm a lottle pastad out. It's not a typo, don't tell me. I mean it and I'm not afraid to say it.

One thing I love about NFA is that it is really making me want to have people over to share it with us. I never used to consider myself a very hospitable person, but now I find myself thinking up ways to get people over and feed them something awesome! I like what I'm seeing take place in my life and I really think it's a God thing.

Coming soon is london broil and burbon pecan smashed sweet potatoes... Uh HUH! Also, I heard a rumor about pineapple rum chicken, but I can neither confirm or deny such a menu item.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NFA: Phyllo Chicken Bundles with Wild Rice

Well.... NFA is rocking our faces off. It's fun, it's a great conversation starter, we're saving money by not eating out.

Chicken bundles... I'm sad to say, there will not be a repeat performance of the chicken bundles any time soon. They weren't bad. They just weren't awesome.

The recipe came from a little Betty Crocker Casseroles and Slow Cookers book that I got in the impulse buy section of Safeway. I have got to stay out of there! The other day, I almost paid $29 for a movie I didn't really even want!

My little bundles were attractive, but labor intensive, which is not really what I'm going for. The recipe specifically called for 40 sheets of 14X17 phyllo dough. Thawed. Yeah, didn't have that.
I had 28 sheets of 12X19 frozen dough. I forgot to set it out. So I ran to the computer to google "how to quick thaw phyllo dough" Let me tell you that nobody spells fillo dough the same way. Even I don't! Look at that! Well, I also forgot to thaw the chicken, so I was RUSHING to get it done before home group.

The filling was very good. I made a few adjustments. It was supposed to have asparagus, but Josh and the boys detest it, so I just used celery. Also, it called for shredded swiss cheese. I had some sliced provalone and that was very tasty. I ruined the lid to one of my Pampered Chef prep bowls microwaving the carrots. Bummer. ANYway, they came out very nicely, but were too papery for everyone's tastes. But! As I said before, the filling was very good.

I used the wild rice medley you can get at costco, and when it was done, I realized that the boys (all three) would probably not like plain wild rice, so I tossed some garlic salt and parmesan cheese in it and that ROCKED!

Yesterday, I forgot to thaw the roast for my pulled pork with root beer sauce, and I cleaned a house till five so we had Bam's again, and tonight is our good friend Josh Guth's birthday, so it's Red Robin tonight, but in the spirit of NFA, I will be having something new! Tomorrow is Vodka Cream Pasta for Josh's birthday. I hope no one saw me coming out of the liquor store...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NFA: Meals 2 & 3

Oh my gosh!

So the recipe was Ziti with Sausage and Canellini Beans. It was legen...wait for it.. DARY!

In all of my forays to the places I normally shop, I have never once found ziti. I know what it looks like. I know how to spell it. It's nowhere. It's not at Winco. It's not at Walmart. It's not at Safeway. The rigatoni that I ended up using was the bomb, so it's not a big deal. I've never thought to use beans with a pasta dish, especially not a red sauce, but this was AMAZING!

I made this for dinner on Friday night. Josh's parents came over and got to enjoy NFA (as I'm calling it now) with us. The only blight on the night was that Noah refused to eat any of it, desiring only to nosh on my fabulous garlic bread. He spent most of dinner time screaming in his crib. Awesome.

I feel like this project is totally opening my eyes to what I can do with a few ingredients. I know, everyone in the world knew this but me. Still, it's only been three meals and we're all (except Noah the Contrary) loving it. Home made food makes me happy. And it makes my house smell good.

Saturday was a busy day for us, so I didn't plan anything for dinner, knowing we'd probly just go out. We did however have kinda new food: Bam's bellybuster pizza. Nice. That's all that needs said 'bout that.

Sunday was Easter and I didn't plan anything new for that, but I did manage to make a new recipe for Pea Salad that I got off It was OK. No awards would have been won, I assure you.

Which brings us to yesterday. Yesterday, the list said Turkey Corn Chili. Again, I used the Rachael Ray Comfort Food cookbook. This time, I DID manage to make it in a half hour, so that's something. It called for red bell pepper, which is not my favorite, or even my least favorite. In fact, I hate bell pepper, but I am really trying to stick to the recipe so...there. When I shopped for the week, I beligerently skipped buying the bell pepper, so I wasn't gonna put it in. Then I remembered that Jackson picked out an orange pepper the other day, so I felt compelled to use it. I did. Everyone liked it, but me. Noah surprisingly, ate two bowls. Jackson ate it because I promised him chocolate. He's going through a phase.

Anyway, here it is:

I liked how colorful it was with the orange pepper and the scallions and the corn.

On a side note, if you ever see Rachael Ray, ask her if she feeds lumberjacks, because, so far, everything of hers that I have made has served twice the people the recipe says it will. I think I should have scheduled leftover days.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Food April

It's kind of a big deal.
A few weeks ago, I was again, rushing to fix something for dinner. I don't know why I do that. I had some frozen Swedish Meatballs, and I thought, I'll just thaw these in the pan.... What a STUPID idea! Josh walked into the kitchen as I was swirling the frozen, blistered log of gravy around the pan.

"Wanna go to Bambino's?" he said,
"Yep." I replied.
Bambino's was great as usual, by the way.
So, that brings us to three days ago. I decided to plan out a month's worth of meals. That way, we wouldn't be spending money on (totally worth it) Bam's. So, I got out all my cookbooks and as I was leafing through them, a thought struck me: Why not make new recipies every day of the month? So I did it. I went through my cookbooks, and found a bunch of stuff I wanted to try. Then, I put them on a calendar. After that, I made a shopping list and the boys and I went to two stores and got everything we need for the next ten days.

Tonight's menu was Shepherd's Pie. I got the recipe from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals Comfort Food.

Here are some highlights.

The Guth's came over.

I doubled the recipie and there was a TON!

There was a cup of cream in the potatoes.

There was cheese on top. (That was not in the recipie, but come on.)

Everyone liked it except Noah, but he did have a huge cup of juice right before so that might have had something to do with it.

Some lowish lights:

It was a little bland. The recipe only called for a little salt and pepper to season the ground beef, but it needed more than that, I would have for sure used some garlic salt had I been thinking.

Ummm, I guess that's about it.

Oh, and so far, I have never made a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal in thirty minutes. Maybe it'll get better.

Tomorrow night will be Ziti with Sausage and Canellini Beans.

Wish me luck!