Friday, April 27, 2007

Madness, mayhem, chaos, exhaustion....

Need I say more?

But when you look at this face....

It's all worth it.

Cue the "duh...duh, duh..." music:

"Momma, what's this?"

"Oh, shit. Damn you, Momma!"

As you can imagine, getting in the kitchen to crank out something faster than a salad or sandwich has been nigh impossible with Gidget around. Heck, even sitting down at the keyboard must involve Princess Piddle.

Needless to say, I have been hankering for some real food. Not boxed mac and cheese, not a handful of crackers, not anything that should be eaten standing up so a certain puppy that shall remain nameless can stick her face in your plate or bowl.

Yesterday was filled with the first vet visit for my girl and a chiropractic appointment for me. And lots and lots of naps, both dog and momma. She just kicks my ass. I am supposed to take her visiting at the office this afternoon, but that means I need sustenance.

So I grabbed a Pamela's Wheat-free Bread Mix and managed to turn out focaccia. I ran to the store (gasp - puppy went into the playpen. Yes, we bought a play pen. Shut up.) to pick up a few things that had been making my mouth water with just the thought.

Momma can't live by junk food alone.

Chicken Sandwiches on Focaccia
Makes 2

2 squares focaccia
1 good-sized handful arugula
2 roasted red pepper halves (buy 'em if you don't have time to roast - I sure as hell didn't)
2 slices provolone cheese
2 thin-sliced chicken breasts
Olive oil
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Sea salt
2 tbsp roasted garlic mayo
Thinly sliced red onion

Prepare the chicken first so it has time to marinate: place the breasts in a bowl; drip the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil over the top, then sprinkle paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Go lightly here - no more than 1/8 tsp of each and even less of the paprika. Cover and place in the fridge for half an hour.

Drain the roasted red peppers and pat dry. Set aside. Wash the arugula if you haven't already. Dry the leaves either in a salad spinner or on some paper towels, if Gidget hasn't taken off with the roll.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat with about a teaspoon of olive oil; add the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (more if you use chicken thicker than 1/2 inch).

Slice the focaccia squares in half through the middle. On the crown, place 1 tbsp of the mayo, then a few rings of red onion, a slice of roasted red pepper, then half of the arugula. Place one chicken breast on each heel and top with a slice of provolone. Combine the tops with the bottoms and inhale delicately.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Or...we bring her home 3 days early

I am planning on getting no sleep tonight. When I found out that 2 litter mates left yesterday and the other is leaving tomorrow, the only reason I would have to not bring her home is the near-definite lack of sleep. So Gidget is home.

Heaven help me. Knock her out all night with no whining.

She is already a momma's girl.

A Mexican-y lunch

I was in the mood for quesadillas, but I didn't want to make anything I had done before (other than the corn tortillas, of course. Those I will be happy to make again and again). I found a recipe on Epicurious that I liked, but it involved going to the store. So I tweaked it.

This recipe would probably fill eight 6" tortillas, but I made teeny weeny Gidget-sized ones (FYI If I haven't mentioned it already - she comes home Wednesday) because I am betting that this will be damn good as a chip dip. I wanted some left to snack on later.

Pinto Bean & Cojita Quesadillas
Adapted from a recipe found on Epicurious

1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley (better with fresh, I am sure)
1 heaping tsp chili powder
1 scant 1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 corn tortillas
2 cups grated cojita cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine the pinto beans, onion, parsley, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Pulse until well combined but still a little chunky. Place into the fridge for an hour so the flavors can meld.

Prepare your tortillas if you are making them from scratch. If not, hang out for a while. Snuggle with the animals or something.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread a tablespoon or two of the bean mixture onto one tortilla, sprinkle a good amount of cheese (3-4 tablespoons), and then place another tortilla on top. Continue until you either use all your tortillas or the filling is gone.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tapdancing tongue and tastebuds

It was worth waiting an extra day to make the recipe that was rolling around in my head. I had intended to make it yesterday but....well, migraines happen.

Short and sweet post tonight - just the pictures and recipe.

Rolled Flank Steak

1 pound flank steak
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled, cut in half, and then sliced thinly
8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp worcestershire
2 dashes hot sauce
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet over low heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the onion and coo, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they release their juice, about 10 more minutes. Add the wine, worcestershire, and hot sauce. Mix well, then bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is gone. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

While the onion/mushroom mixture is cooling, prepare the steak by releasing your frustrations with a mallet (aka tenderizing). Believe me, you need to do this - flank steak is a tough cut of meat! Spread the mustard over one side of the steak. Pile the onion/mushroom mixture down the middle of the steak (go the long way instead of the short way). Gently roll the steak into a "jellyroll." Place into a baking dish and place into the oven. Bake for 1 hour for medium.

Serve with lumpy ol' mashed potatoes.

Interview by Flamenco Mom

Flamenco Mom emailed me 5 interview questions at my request. I thought it was a cute idea - a chance to get to know whose stuff you're reading!

1. What is your favorite meal to cook? Well. I just love to cook, period. But if I had to pick would have to be cheesecake. Because no matter how it looks coming out of the oven, you can cover it up with something and it still tastes good!

2. You've just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, darling. What do you do after Ed McMahon hands you the giant check? After picking myself up off the floor since I never win ANYTHING, I would call the boss, then pay off all our debt, then start the ball rolling to open a natural foods store. Oh, and buy myself a rose-gold Powell flute.

3. You, The Man, and the pets have to get out of town - fast - and you're not sure when (or if) you're coming back. What do you load up in the vehicle? Family pictures. Everything else is covered by insurance or can be shipped.

4. Where would you go on your ideal vacation? I would just stay home and spend time with the boys and Gidget. Maybe take a short jaunt to see my family up in Wisconsin.

5. If you could choose between living in the mountains or living near the ocean, which would you choose? Oh boy. I am a solitary soul, so probably living in the mountains, but I reserve the right to own homes in both places - I did win the Publisher's Clearinghouse, right?

So if anyone out there wants to participate, post a comment with the request for me to interview you. I will email you five fresh questions. Update your blog with the answers to the questions. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A recipe brewing, tasting, and animal porn

Since I forgot to take the flank steak out of the freezer when I stopped at home for lunch today, the recipe that is creating itself in my head will have to wait until tomorrow. I promise, it will be a good one.

As I mentioned briefly the other day, I went shopping. The kind that I have fun doing. Grocery shopping. I know, I am sick and twisted. I went back to the little natural foods store in Joliet on Saturday morning so that I could really poke around to see what they had. $170.00 later, I had Kinnikinnick hamburger buns, frozen bread, and a bread mix, hot dogs, bacon, 2 different kinds of honey, cookies, vitamins, colloidal silver nasal spray.....and a bunch of other stuff that I can't think of right now. I hauled out one of the hamburger buns for dinner Saturday and I decided that the Ener-G buns I have are better than these Kinnikinnick ones. The bread, however, is very good. I had a very satisfying ham sandwich for lunch yesterday.

For dinner yesterday, I had a visit with Gidget instead of food. And it was worth it. The Man and I ran out to pick her up a little before 5 and took her back to her dog mom at 7:15. It was a lot of fun having her here, although the cats may disagree with that. We played and played, napped, and played some more. I know I am in trouble because when she peed an inch away from the puppy pad (I should mention that it had been a good 2 hours since her last potty break by this time), The Man and I looked at each other, said, "She piddled," and giggled like a couple of school girls. We need to definitely get past that, don't we?

Humorous happenings during the visit:

As long as Baby can go up to Gidget, he is pretty much fine. He sticks his nose in her hair/fur, sniffs, and backs away (but no more than a foot or two). If she goes up to him, we have a hiss-y fit.

During nap time, Gidget and I were kicked back on the couch. Within seconds of bringing Gidget into the house, Vester was under the bed. When she crashed, Vester ventured out and hopped into my lap to snuggle. "Um, mom? There's a dog there!" Pupils huge, he darted away. I giggled so hard I woke up the dog.

We bought that stuffed squeaky toy thing that Baby tried to take over - I introduced Gidget to it yesterday. Damn if she didn't attack that thing right off the bat and cart it around, even though it's bigger than she is.

The innocent face with the toy. This is before she peed on the carpet.

She wanted you to see her butt, too. This is immediately before peeing on my carpet.
And of course, because I can't leave the boys out:
Baby in the kitty carrier that's too small for his big ass. He's crammed in there, but content. He goes in there all by himself. To think that when it comes to a vet visit, he won't go near it...
Vester sunning himself on the back of the couch this afternoon. I made this afghan the week of my father's triple-bypass surgery a year and a half ago.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Getting unannoyed

Funny how a good night's sleep, some chocolate, and some retail therapy will reposition your outlook on the world. Or on your blog.

I regained patience today...well, as much as a woman can with PMS. The Men are staying out of my face due to a healthy love for life. It's amazing how quick they learn, isn't it?

Snarky comments aside, the blog is much closer now to what I want. If only I could figure out how to get my banner to stretch all the way across the page.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Getting VEDDY, VEDDY annoyed

Giving up for the night. See, this is what happens when you plan with a new template. Grrr....

Sorry about the double header, but if I keep playing with this tonight while simultaneously being PMS Bitch of the World, my laptop may have a free flight to the backyard.

Tonight I really hate Blogger and CSS code and computers and...where's the damn chocolate?

Nothing fancy but sure is good

Happy Friday the 13th!

As promised, I made my pizza for Catherine's round-up last night instead of today...just in case. I don't like to tempt the whammies LOL

On a side note, Gidget's caretaker is going to allow me to bring her home for a few hours whenever I want until we bring her home for good. I really want to get the cats used to her as much as possible before G-day.

Over the last couple of weeks, I thought about the different kinds of pizza that I haven't had since going gluten free. One day, I will attempt a deep-dish Chicago style, but that isn't what I wanted for dinner last night, especially since I wanted to eat before 8:00. So I stopped at the store on the way home, grabbing some scallions and chicken.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 GF pizza crust (I used an Arrowhead Mills mix)
1/2 cup GF barbecue sauce
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 large ball of mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare your pizza crust as directed; if you make a crust instead of using prepared, make sure to prebake it since it doesn't take long to bake once you get the toppings on. Spread the barbecue sauce over the top of the crust, arrange the chicken over the sauce, and sprinkle the scallions over the top of the chicken. Place the cheese on top and place into the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and begins to brown, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Catching up

Rather busy recently.

1. I had a huge project going on at work. It's not over yet, either, but the bare bones are in place so the hard part is over. Thank goodness.

2. Puppy shopping. And I thought the cats were spoiled! The Man and I had so much fun on Friday afternoon, wandering through the pet store to get stuff for the new addition. I took a list with me to keep us in check on the spending, and we pretty much stuck to it, but we went a little overboard buying stuff she won't even play with for a while. And the squeaky plush toy we now own has been appropriated by Baby the Cat. I put it on top of the new dog crate; Baby moves it to the middle of the living room, licks it like crazy, then goes to a different room after becoming bored. I pick it up - he puts it back. It's a mother/child power struggle.

3. Girl stuff. For almost 2 weeks now. I must be getting anemic because man, am I tired all the time. I am boosting my iron-rich foods in hopes that it will help.

4. Haunted barn planning. We are trying to get the entire plan for 2007 together so we can meet with the owner of the pumpkin farm and get the ball rolling earlier this year.

5. Easter.

6. The Chicago Cubs Home Opener Party, held yesterday here at the house. I spent the weekend scouring the house in preparation for the party and started cooking yesterday morning at 5:30. We had a great time even though the Cubs lost.

So while all of this was going on, I still have a couple of recipes and pictures. So here they are.

Thursday's dinner was a crockpot thing. Well, not a thing. You know what I mean. I made garlic, cheddar, and sour cream smashed potatoes to go with the country ribs I cooked in BBQ sauce and boy, did it hit the spot.

BBQ Pork in the Crockpot

4 pounds country ribs
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
A few shots of Tabasco
1/4 cup worchestershire
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water

Place the ribs into the bottom of the crockpot. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove. Heat over low heat, stirring until well combined. Pour over the ribs, cover the crockpot, and choose your desired time setting. I put mine on 10 hours and came home to pork goodness.

Ham Glaze

I didn't take a picture of the Easter ham. Sorry about that. I had a couple of men acting like unfed vultures when I pulled the ham out of the oven, so I sliced it up and fed them for my own safety.

1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring well to combine, until bubbly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken; use to baste a half-ham every half hour it's in the oven.

Not a recipe - Gidget Update

Gidget's caretaker brought her over here yesterday for about an hour. Oh, how sweet and snuggly she is! I introduced her to Baby and Sylvester; it went a lot better than I expected. Vester wanted nothing to do with her, not even with the bribe of treats. Baby, on the other hand, stuck his nose right into her fur (this was before I even showed her face to them), took some good sniffs, then sat down, right by us. There were a few half-hearted hisses from the big beast, but other than that, everywhere Gidget and I went in the house, Baby followed. I feel so much better knowing that my boys will probably be okay when we bring her home.

A few new pictures, taken with a camera this time instead of a phone:
Gidget next to a 4-oz cat food can. Man, is she tiny!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gidget and the mohawk

After work yesterday, even with a screaming migraine, I managed to stop by and see my puppy. We have decided on the name Gidget for her. As we go through these last 3 weeks before she comes home, I want to see her as often as possible so she gets used to me and her name.

According to her caretaker, the puppies are growing their teeth and Gidget has been testing them on her brothers and sisters. Quite frankly, she's becoming a little shit. Which is fine by me.

Her caretaker held her for me so I could take this picture with my cell phone. One of these days, I will have my camera with me so I can take a decent picture.

If you look closely, you can see the white mohawk at the top of her little black head - which is why she is being held in the direction she is.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Being putzy

Man, I have been slacking off in a lot of areas lately. I have been taking the easy road with cooking, have barely maintained the house, barely updated this site... The only creatures in the Just Not Dinner household to benefit from my slack-age are the hairdroppers, who have enjoyed snuggling with their lazy momma.

Ah, to heck with it. Everyone's entitled to a little down time, right?

Tonight, I updated my GF blog links - sorry to anyone I missed. I have been finding and reading more and more sites, logging my bookmarks, and never updated my link list so the rest of the multitudes () that read Just Not Dinner can know about them too.

I have no choice but to get the house in shape during this weekend - The Man and I are hosting our second annual Cubs Home Opener Party on Monday the 9th. This means I get to take a day off of work to wait on a bunch of men drinking beer and yelling absurdities at a TV. But I can be somewhat happy about it because The Man is on vacation the whole week, so any messes that happen will be cleaned up by him for a change!

I am trying to come up with snackies that will have them begging for more (something they have come to expect from me and I just can't disappoint). Of course, this is the first time we have had any sort of party where I didn't have wheat flour in the house. We will be having the standard cheese and ritz crackers (the package will remain on our back porch and will not be brought into the house or the wrath of Sheri will arise), salsa and tortilla chips (both GF), homemade caramel corn, good ol' Wisconsin-style brats (I will make my own 'soaking sauce' with Redbridge - really looking forward to that!), and pizzas will be brought in.

I want to make some sort of warm/hot snack - any ideas out there?

So. Even though I haven't been cooking, I sure have been eating. So here are a few things I have tried over the last week.

Bakery on Main's Apple Raisin Walnut Granola. I had this for breakfast yesterday. It's pretty good and stayed fairly crunchy after a dousing in milk. I also snacked on it dry for breakfast at work this morning and again, pretty dang good. I was a little disappointed in the cinnamon amounts used - when I am eating a granola, especially one with apples in it, I really want to taste cinnamon and that's not the case here. But still very good. I will be on the lookout for more flavors to try.

Oskri Cashew Bar. See the Oskri granola bar I posted about a while ago. In my opinion, it's basically the same bar.

Mi-Del Arrowroot Cookies. Anyone else over the age of 30 get cravings for animal crackers? This was a case of "I came, I saw, I bought" while wandering the store looking for a snack. Thinner than the gluten-y animal cracker, the taste is similar to the "real thing." These could probably use a little more sweetener, but they help me kick the animal cracker craving. As a matter of fact, the bag is sitting open on my end table right now - for every sentence or two I type, another cookie gets stuffed in the gaping maw. Now, the package states that this product is produced in a factory...blah, blah,blah...., but it also states that their gluten free products are routinely tested to ensure gluten free status.

Somebody take these damn things away from me.