Thursday, March 30, 2006

A wrap for me, a baby blanket, and a new cookbook

I've been working on a wrap/scarf for myself. I'm using this beautiful yarn I bought at Stitches West. I love the colors! It's taking me awhile to finish it, but the way the weather's been lately it'll still be cold enough to wear it by the time I'm done.

I'm also making good progress on the baby blanket. It's about 4-5 inches long! The baby it's for is due in May.

I picked up a new cookbook on Amazon called "A Flash in the Pan". I have so many cookbooks, but this is my new favorite. I've already marked a few pages but almost every recipe in the book is a winner, and the best part is all the meals can be made in just one pan. Less to clean up. This week I tried the Summer Chicken with Tomato Caper Coulis, and this Thai chicken stir fry--the recipe called for lemongrass, ginger, and cilantro. Both dishes came out pretty good. It's so nice to try something was getting boring making the same thing every week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Valerie's celebration lunch

A few of us at work went to Black Angus for lunch, and then had cake afterwards to celebrate Valerie's baby-to-be. Here's a picture of the cake...chocolate mousse from a bakery in San Francisco. I have to get the name of the place from Cecelia. It was sooooo delicious! At first everyone was silent after they took their first bite, and then we couldn't stop talking about how great it was. MMMMM.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Here's a picture of the baby blanket I started over the weekend. The resolution's not that great since I took it with my camera phone. But I'll post more/better pictures soon!

it's in the water...

There are so many babies on their way this year! I have 3 friends who are pregnant right now, and 2 of them I already know are having girls. One of them is still to early to know. I want to make baby blankets and maybe a hat for each (so ambitious for someone with a one-year-old!). This weekend I did some yarn shopping for the first blanket. I normally don't like using acrylic yarn, but the blanket needs to be easy to care for, and nothing beats being able to throw it in the washer and dryer without worrying about the blanket felting! So I bought 3 skeins of TLC Baby (acrylic yarn) in Powder Pink. I love the blanket my girlfriend's mom made for my youngest, so I went online and found a baby blanket pattern that looks just like the one she made for me. I started it over the weekend and have just about 3 rows done, 150 more to go -- haha! This will be my first attempt at crochet. Reading the pattern doesn't seem to hard, but then again it seems like a simpler pattern than most.

What else did I do this weekend, other than yarn shopping? Window shopping at Santana Row! We spent a few hours at Santana Row which is this great outdoor shopping center just around the corner from us. We had amazing weather on Sunday and it was perfect for walking around outside. We had lunch at Straits Cafe and the food was delicious. I had the lobster pad thai; Kurt had this ginger/garlic salmon dish that was baked in a banana leaf. Yummy! After lunch we walked down to Ben & Jerry's and the little one got to try his first taste of ice cream. He loved it :)

Well at least we got to soak up as much sunshine as we could over the weekend, because now it's raining like crazy. It was coming down pretty hard today, and there was even thunder and lightening. It's the kind of weather that makes you just want to stay inside all day and hibernate.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

free starbucks

I heard on the radio that Starbucks is giving away a free coffee (one per person and only at participating locations) on Wednesday March 14, b/w 10am-12pm. It's kind of funny, but I only heard the commercial once--maybe they don't want to let too many people know. Anyway, too bad I'll already be at work by then! Almost every day I stop by Starbucks on the way to work. I used to get flavored lattes and mochas. For awhile, I was hooked on caramel macchiato's. Now I just get a regular old cup-o-joe. But I ask for a tall in a grande cup (translation: small cup of coffee in a medium-sized cup) so I have enough room for cream without having to pour some of the coffee out!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

recipe exchange

My friend Andrea started a recipe exchange. What a cool idea! I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I decided to compile the recipes I receive here and keep adding new ones as they come in. Look for a permanent link to this recipe list on the right. Enjoy!

Leslie shared:
Shepherd's Pie

2lb ground beef
5 large potatoes mashed with butter, milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper
1 pack brown gravy mix
½ diced onion
1 clove of garlic minced
1 cup of finely grated cheddar cheese
chicken broth (optional)

1. Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic
2. Make the gravy mix according to packet and add to browned meat (or use chicken broth instead of water)
3. Simmer for 15 minutes
4. Add salt and pepper to taste
5. Poor into a 13 X 9 pan
6. Top with mashed potatoes
7. Sprinkle on cheese
8. Bake at 400° when ready to serve for about 30 minutes (longer if refrigerated overnight) until cheese is melted.

Andrea shared:
My Absolute Most Favorite Tofu Stir Fry

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon chili paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 scallions, finely sliced into rounds, including the green part
1 pound of firm tofu, cut into pieces
**I also cut up and prep fresh vegetables - broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bok choi or other greens, whatever you like. When I add veggies, I double this recipe for this sauce. [I also first start the rice in our rice cooker cause it takes the longest amount of time]

Prepare the sauce: Put the cornstarch in a small bowl. Slowly add the vegetable stock, mixing as you do so. Now add the chili paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and sugar. Mix again. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium high flame. When hot, add garlic and ginger, Stir fry for 10 seconds. Add scallions and stir fry for 5 seconds. Add the tofu and fry for about 1 minute. (I add the veggies now and cook them til they are done the way I like them). Then turn heat on low and add the sauce to the veggies and tofu, stirring it up before you add it. Let the sauce thicken - stirring it gently as you do so. Serve immeadiately over rice. Recipe originally from World of the East Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.

Lisa shared:
Pesto Pasta

3 Tbsp pesto sauce, sun-dried tomato variety preferred
3 cup mixed vegetables, chopped, fresh or frozen
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
4 cup cooked pasta
1 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Heat a large nonstick pan coated with cooking spray. Add pesto sauce and vegetables; cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add milk, bring to a boil and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in pasta and cheese; cook until heated through. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Aparna shared:
This one is pretty easy and my husband's favourite...

Chicken Breast baked with green chillies and Onions

For the Sauce
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala (u can find it in any Indian grocery store or I can get it for u)
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream

You also need
4 boneless chicken breast
Salt as needed
Fresh ground black pepper
4 tbs veg oil
2 inch cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
1 big onion cut in half rings
1 inch ginger fine strips
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 clove garlic finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350

Put tomato paste in a bowl, add 1 tbs of warm water and mix. Add all ingredients of the sauce in the order listed mixing as you go.

Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides

Put 3 tbs of oil in a nonstick frying pan and set over high heat. When oil is hot, put in the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Ten seconds later, put in the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown them lightly on both sides. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place in a oven proof dish in a single layer. Put the onion, ginger and green chilis into the oil that remains in the frying pan. Stir and fry them until they are light brown in color. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread evenly over chicken pieces.

Add the last tbs of oil into the frying pan and let it heat. Put in the mustard seeds. As sson as they pop, put in the garlic. As soon as it starts to brown, put in the sauce. As soon as the sauce heats up and starts bubbling, pour it over and around the chicken without displacing the onion mixture. Place the ovenproof dish, uncovered, in the oven and bake for 25min.

Serves 2-4


Kate shared:
The hardest part of this recipe is opening the cans of beans, tomatoes and hominy. The chili's flavor is deep and full, as if it simmered all day.

Takes Under 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings

No-stick cooking spray
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce (450-g) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can (435-g) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce, optional
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1 pinch cinnamon
1 16-ounce (440-g) can yellow hominy, rinsed Lime wedges


1. Spray a large, heavy saucepan with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, chipotles (if using), cumin, oregano, cocoa and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add hominy and cook until heated through.
3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro or green onions. Serve lime wedges alongside.

Source: Miavita Kitchens

Buffy shared:
The first is very simple and fast. The other two are not as simple but my family loves them so I thought I'd share. Those last 2 recipes are my own creations. I've never written them down for anyone before, so if you have any questions or my directions don't make sense, please let me know!

CHICKEN ADOBO (Filipino dish)
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
5 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 pack chicken drumsticks (I usually get a 12 pack, but you can get a smaller pack and still use the same measurements on the other ingredients)

1. Place all ingredients in skillet/deep pan. Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from skillet and place on baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.
3. (To thicken sauce) Turn up the heat on the pan and when the juices start to bubble, vigorously mix in about a tablespoon of flour with a wooden spoon or a whisk.
4. Place chicken back in pan.

This is great served over hot rice, with a little of the sauce poured over the chicken and rice.

2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 pack pork chops, bone-in (I usually use a pack of 6)
1 onion
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add pork chops; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove pork chops from skillet.
3. Add onions to skillet; stir until onions start to look translucent.
4. Place pork chops back in pan, and pour stewed tomatoes over them. Cover, simmer on low for 2 hours.

I like this recipe because it's simple (with only 3 main ingredients), but it does have a long cooking time. If you use thinner sliced boneless pork chops, I think you can cut the cooking time down to 30 minutes (or check until the pork chops are tender)

3 cups white rice
2 cloves garlic
2 bunches cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
~ 1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 an onion
1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 can chicken stock
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Make 3 cups of white rice in a rice cooker. Set aside.
2. Place cilantro, chopped onions, garlic, salt, garlic powder in food processor. Drizzle olive oil into food processor as you blend ingredients until mixture looks kind of like pesto.
3. Pour cilantro mixture and 1 can of chicken broth into rice cooker. Fold into the rice until evenly mixed in.
4. Add frozen peas/carrots, grated parmesan cheese, and chili flakes and mix again. Let the rice sit in the rice cooker on "warm" setting for at least another hour (or longer). It actually tastes better the next day :)

Notes: Make sure the rice is fully cooked before you add the cilantro/onion/garlic mixture to it. Also, I don't really know the measurement on the chili flakes...I use the lid of the chili flake container and use about a cap full of flakes. It doesn't really make it that spicy but it definitely tastes better with it.