Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time for things to break

Memorial Day Weekend is always a majorly busy weekend for us, and this year wasn't any different.  But to start off the fun, our air conditioning went out sometime last week.  It had been cool enough since we moved that we had only turned the air on once (2 Sundays ago).  The cross-breeze was usually enough.  Last Wednesday the temp started rising in preparation for the super-hot temperature predicted for the weekend (high 90's).  Lo turned the air on and it wasn't helping...because it wasn't blowing cold air...just air.  On Thursday he looked up things that may fix it, in case it was just a setting on the thermostat or unit or something.  The unit is about 5 years old, so we didn't expect anything major and put in a service call.  Unfortunately because we were so busy, we weren't going to be home any of the times they were available until Tuesday.  Fortunately, we were going to be busy enough that we didn't have to sit around at home and sweat all weekend -we knew we'd be here very little.  Back to the unfortunates, I had to make pulled pork for an event on Friday and I forgot to put it in the crockpot before I left for work.  So when I got home at 12:30, I had to cook it in the oven for a few hours to ensure it would be done on time.  Nothing like heating up an already hot house.  Since I already had it on, I went ahead and made some Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies and Kentucky Bourbon Bacon Chex Mix that I was taking to other parties over the weekend.
Pinned Image

We managed to sleep at home on Friday night, but by the time I returned from my SIL's baby shower on Saturday, it was balls hot in the house.  No, I don't really know what "balls hot" means, I just tend to throw the word "balls" in front of the word hot (and old sometimes) - kind of in the place of "super".  I was staying at my friends' house anyway, since Lo was going to the Indy 500 and we have no idea whether I can manage to stay at home alone in a new house without freaking out.  Those who know me are aware of my "nighttime problems".  I'm not afraid of the dark, but I have crazy dreams and wake up with irrational fears.  They are often so irrational that I won't try to explain them out loud.  We had lots of security devices on the doors in the apartment just so I'd be able to reason with myself that whatever I think happened, wasn't possible.  Now that we have 1st floor windows and multiple doors, we didn't know how I'd be at night.  So far, so good - but no sense risking it while he was gone and the house was balls hot anyway.

We were able to stay at our friends' house on Sunday too - they had a big party and were having brunch the next day, plus we have our own room there anyway.  Now that we live 10 minutes from them, versus 30, we didn't expect to be staying there much anymore, but thankfully they are always welcoming!

Monday night we finally left their house, which I often refer to our vacation home because it feels like we're on vacation when we are there.  It was still pretty hot at home, but was getting cooler at night so we thought it may be ok.  It wasn't.  Instead of heading back to their place, we decided to pack our stuff for work and sleep in the apartment for one last night.  We'd left air mattresses and sleeping bags there just in case, plus it gave us a chance to do a little more cleaning before we had to turn in the keys this week. 

The air conditioning company came on Tuesday after work and fixed us right up.  The coolant was completely empty, but he didn't think there were any leaks, so we should be good now! 

Surprise repair #1 wasn't so bad - I think the total bill was $230 or something, which included a service plan in case it turns out that something else is wrong and they need to come back out. 

And now the air is cool....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer Review and Giveaway

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner - I had a hair appt. after work today.  The winner is M!  Congratulations - I'll contact you by email.  There is another great giveaway coming up this week, so stick around!

I'm a member of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program and was super-excited when I was chosen to review the OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer.  I've wanted a mandoline for so long, but could never decide which one to buy.  I was even more excited when I opened the package and saw that in addition to the mandoline that they sent to me - they included another to give to one of my readers!

Sadly, I've been in the process of moving for the last few weeks so I haven't had a chance to use it as much as I've wanted, but one of the recipes that I was excited to try first was baked potato chips!  I can't really call it a recipe, because I just sliced up some potatoes on the thinnest setting, sprayed them with the oil mister and sprinkled them with a variety of seasonings.  When it comes to spices, I just grab and shake, so I don't really know exactly what I used. I spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees until they started to brown.  I flipped them over using a fork and cooked until the other side was browned.  They were excellent!  I've also used the mandoline slicer a few times to slice up peppers and I'm so excited to slice up turnips for turnip chips and au gratin once they are in season.

The mandoline slicer has 3 levels of thickness, though the thickest isn't as thick as I'd prefer.  That's not a big deal because I can just use a knife it I want it that thick.  Thinner is so much hard with a knife.  Once I got the hang of using the food holder to protect myself from the blades, it was simple.  I'm prone to cutting myself with a knife as it is, so I'll definitely be using this with the food holder - those blades are SHARP!  The food holder also slides over the blades for storage, which is key for protection.  You can use the slicer angled on a plate or cutting board like I did below, or you can hook the foot over a bowl and slice into the bowl. 

Like I mentioned, I haven't had an opportunity to use this with very many vegetables yet, but it worked great for potatoes and peppers!

If you'd like to enter to win an OXO Good Grips Hand Held Mandoline:
  • Leave me a comment telling me what you'd slice with it if you had one!

Additional entries:
Contest ends June 3, 2012 and the winner will be selected by and notified by email.  Good luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We're still here...just relocated...

We've been a little busy.  We bought a house a little over two weeks ago and tonight is the first time I've opened my laptop at home.  The first week was spent cleaning and such, and the movers did the heavy work last Saturday.  We still have a lot in boxes, but I actually am already feeling settled, which is awesome.  We got a house style that we wanted (two story), with the amount of bedrooms we wanted (4), in the condition we wanted (move in ready), in the area that we wanted (Dublin), for less than we expected.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  It was a short sale, which we were told could take months for approval.  It took 3 days, so it moved way more quickly than expected, but also worked out well according to our apartment lease terms.  Shockingly, they are letting us out a month early, so we don't even have to make a double payment. 

Luckily, we only "needed" to paint two rooms so far, because as we found out, we are pretty terrible at painting.  We will be enlisting help for future painting jobs.  We are also quite "green" at gardening, as in, we have no idea what are plants and what are weeds.  Lo was weeding one day and when his family came up later, his grandma pointed out that he weeded out snapdragons and a baby hosta (which she later went out and replanted).  And I just discovered that I pulled out a huge bunch of cilantro tonight.  It was probably going to bolt after this weekend anyway, but still...

There's lots of furniture and tools that we still need to buy, and I need to make some decorating decisions, but we'll get there eventually! 

*The pic above is from one of our first showings, so it looks a lot nicer now that it's spring and there are lots of plants and such.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spicy Bombay Sliders

When I made Buffalo Turkey Wraps, I only used half of the package of ground turkey since I mixed lentils into the meat.  Since we also had lettuce leaves, which are great to use as a gluten-free substitute for buns or wraps, we decided to make Spicy Bombay Sliders with the leftover turkey.  We picked up pound of ground chicken to round out the recipe - I don't love the taste of turkey burgers, so adding a different meat usually milds the taste for me.  Lo made Spicy Bombay Burgers for a friendly cooking "competition" with our friends, so we knew how good they were going to be. 
Spicy Bombay Sliders
recipe from The Fresh Market

Bombay Sauce: 
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. garlic chili sauce
  • 2-3 T. hot curry paste (found in the asian section)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 3/4 - 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 1/2 T. fresh ginger, minced (see tip below)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, chili sauce, curry paste and sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat grill to medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, fold together turkey, chicken, ginger, cumin, curry powder and garlic until well combined; form 1/3 cup of mixture at a time into patties. Season patties to taste with salt and pepper; grill 4 to 5 minutes per side until done. Serve sliders with spicy sauce.  I wrapped mine in lettuce leaves, while Lo ate his on a bun.

Ginger tip: I keep a knob of fresh ginger (found in the produce section near the garlic usually) in the freezer.  When I need of piece of it, I just grab it from the freezer and cut off a hunk with a sharp knife.  Using a veggie peeler or the knife, carefully peel the skin off the ginger.  Mince or prepare according to recipe instructions.  If I don't need much ginger, I'll often just peel part of the hunk with a peeler and continue to "shave" the ginger with the peeler.  Just chop the shavings to the size you need. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dandelion Eye

I spotted this walking through Goodale Park a few weeks ago.  We were walking along and I stopped dead in my tracks and walked backwards to take a second look.  I thought I was imagining it...but nope - someone stuck googly-eyes on a pair of dandelions!  The flower on the right was shriveled up and dead, but you can still see the eye on it.  Only in Goodale Park - and that is why it is an awesome park!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gluten Free Crispy Cereal Cakes

My friend was having a birthday and I wanted to make her a cake, gluten-free, of course!  I didn't want to make a super rich flour-less cake or try to mess with a bunch of types of gf flour, so I decided to make a Crispy Cakes!  I used Fruity Pebbles for one, and Cocoa Pebbles for another.  You can use Rice Krispies or any gluten-free crispy cereal. 

There are so many options for decorating these "cakes" and even people who aren't gluten-free will enjoy them.  Who doesn't like Crispy treats??

I can't say that I had a favorite between the two cakes...they were so different.  Normally I would always choose chocolate, but Fruity Pebbles are SO good! 

Basic Recipe for Crispy Treats
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups crispy cereal 
  • 1/2 t. vanilla 
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into pan(s)* coated with cooking spray.

*To make the layers, pour the mixture into different sized bowls and press down gently to level.  Don't press down too hard (like i did) because it will compact and crush the cereal, making the bars harder than they should be.

My pans/bowls were a little too big, which made the layers thin, so I ended up making another third of a batch (1 tablespoon butter, 1 1/3 cups mini marshmallows, and 2 cups cereal).  Just multiply the recipe for how many you want to serve. 

I piped canned vanilla frosting onto the Fruity Pebbles cake and used skittles and swedish fish to decorate.  I didn't have any frosting bags handy, so I just scooped the frosting into a ziploc bag and snipped off a corner. 

Chocolate-drizzled potato chips - YUM!

For the Cocoa Pebbles cake, I added some peanut butter into the marshmallow-butter mixture before stirring in the cereal, and used peanut butter frosting that I had saved and froze from this recipe.  I decorated with M&M's and then drizzled dipping chocolate (Merkins) over the cake by pouring the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag and snipping off a tiny corner.  There was leftover chocolate in the bag - I can't throw that away - so we drizzled the chocolate over some potato chips. 

These were so good and are going to be my "go-to" cake - especially in the summer when I don't want to turn on the oven!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I love lettuce wraps - especially P.F. Changs - but I wanted to make a version that wasn't Asian-inspired (mostly because we didn't have soy sauce).  I saw some recipes on Pinterest that were buffalo-style and I thought that sounded perfect.  I didn't have the ingredients for those recipes either, so I just (buffalo) winged it.  

I love these and the recipe is completely customizable.  I mixed cooked lentils with the meat to stretch the amount of meat and make it a little healthier.  The lentils can be left out, or you can used cooked rice or quinoa in place of the lentils.  You won't notice the taste or texture for the lentils though, so I recommend them.    

Buffalo Turkey Lentil Lettuce Wraps

3/4 - 1 pound lean ground turkey (or chicken or beef)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup dry lentils (brown or gets mushy)
3 carrots, shredded using a veggie peeler
Leaves of lettuce, washed (we used butter lettuce, but it doesn't matter which type)
Shredded cheese or blue cheese sprinkles
Buffalo Wing sauce, about 1 cup
Blue cheese dressing, if desired (I didn't have it and didn't need it)
Chopped celery, if you have it (I didn't)

Don't have buffalo wing sauce?  Mix some up.

Buffalo Wing Sauce:
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot (or favorite hot sauce)
1/2 T. white vinegar (more to taste)
sprinkle of garlic powder, to taste
1-2 t. sugar, to taste
pepper, to taste

Stir together the ingredients, tasting as you go.  Add more vinegar if you want it to be more tangy; add more sugar if it's too tangy.  If it's still too spicy or too tangy, stir in a couple of tablespoons or more of BBQ sauce to mild it out. 

For the wraps:
Sort lentils, discarding any weird looking ones.  Place in pan with 2 cups water and simmer with lid tilted until to desired tenderness, stirring occasionally, about 20-25 minutes. Drain water from lentils and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook onions for 3 minutes until tender.  Add ground meat and cook until browned.  Drain if needed. 

Add lentils to cooked meat.  Stir in buffalo sauce.  If the sauce it too runny (once mixed with the juices from the meat), you can turn the heat back on and cook for a couple of minutes.

To assemble, scoop meat/lentils down the middle of the lettuce, top with carrots and desired cheese and celery, if using.  Fold it up like a taco and enjoy!  I find it easiest to eat the stem end last, since it's a little more sturdy.   

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clippers Game - April 29

It was unexpectedly nice on Sunday, so we decided to walk to the Clippers game.  We have limited time left of walking everywhere that we want to, so we wanted to take advantage of it while we can.

I love how you can see downtown from the stadium...

 Right field...

I love the Hot Dog Race during the game....  I always root for mustard because ketchup and relish are gross on hot dogs.... 

Mustard is in second!

See that Lion/Bear mascot ahead (I have no idea what it is)....he's about to cause some major ruckus.

The Bear/Lion plowed down all of the dogs and then dragged Relish across the finish line his (its?) foot. 

Perfect day! 

After the game, we relaxed at home for a bit and then walked to zpizza for dinner to use an Eversave certificate.  We ordered the gluten-free zBQ pizza and it was GOOD!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Save the Earth - it's the only one we have...

One year in middle school, I convinced one of my teachers to let me and a friend leave class everyday to write a song about saving the Earth in an empty classroom.  I swear it was my math teacher, but seems like an odd class to be allowed to skip in order to write a song that isn't about math.

Apparently I wanted to save the Earth before it was a "cool".  I remember part of the song...the chorus went something like this:

Save the Earth, it's the only one we have
Why, yes, I still have my DARE shirt
from 6th grade...

Save the Earth, before it's too late
Save the Earth, we can do it together
Save the Earth, before it's gone

I can't remember the whole song because I start to get the lyrics mixed up with the D.A.R.E. song:  "The world's a difference place where life's become a race, and unlike the world of past our kids grow up too fast.  'Cuz what they see in stores is threats and bombs and war, and that deadly game we're taught our happiness is bought.  So the children of today have no time for children's play.  They feel like they're all along, even strangers in their homes.  To hide their pain and fears, they destroy their youthful years, giving up on love and hugs and escaping into drugs....  DARE to keep a kids of drugs..DARE...

Ok, I have to stop because I'm embarrassed that I know that many lyrics...and also, they don't make sense: "Even strangers in their homes" - who are these strangers...and do all kids have these?

Back to the Earth: things haven't changed yet - I still want to save the Earth...  April was Earth Month, so hopefully everyone read about or heard about some new ways to become more eco-friendly.

Here are some of the things to do our parts...

We recycle:  We don't have pickup, but we drive our recycling to a bin in the park.  We have a nifty divided garbage can for the kitchen where we can put garbage in one side and recycling in the other.  I'm super-excited because Columbus is providing FREE recycling pickup - and we should have it by the fall.

We reuse: We wash, save, and reuse jars and plastic takeout containers.  We use rags when we are cleaning.  I've even been reusing magazines to make decorative bowls lately (post coming soon, but here's another tutorial that I wrote here). 

We buy local when we can:  We love the North Market and farmer's markets.  We're happy to buy local beer, wine, and vodka. 

We combine trips: We run our errands on our way home from other trips.  I grocery shop on the way home from work, volleyball, yoga, or other outings.  We usually buy our gas at GetGo stations and Lo stops when he's near one of the stations for another task. 

We use CFL bulbs:  When we moved into our apartment, we replaces all of the regular bulbs with CFL's.  We saved the regular bulbs and will replace most of them and take the CFL bulbs with us when we move. 

We hang clothes to dry:  We hang a lot of our pants and shirts instead of using the drying so save energy and help our clothes last longer.

We use reusable water bottles:  We rarely buy bottled water and instead try to take reusable bottles when we need them.  We have a few bottles of water that we bought in a case months ago, because it's always smart to have some potable water on hand in the event of emergencies.

We use non-toxic cleaning products as much as possible, almost exclusively.  I use white vinegar to clean regularly, and when we do need cleaners, we often use Magic Erasers and have started buying non-toxic Method cleaners.  Our laundry detergent if Costco's environmentally-friendly detergent and we rarely use dryer sheets.  

We are going to compost:  I'm super excited about having the ability to compost once we move.  We don't have that option now, but I can't wait. Any recommendations on a composter?

We are going to grow some food:  When we have a yard, and are able to compost, we are going to grow what we can.

We are going to install a rain barrel when we move: Residents of Franklin County can take part in the GreenSpot Rain Barrel Program and get a rain barrel for only $50. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting some other green ways....what do you do to help?