Friday, November 13, 2009

Daily Dilemma - Wish Lists

Ok, so this may not work, but I'm going to try and start posting to this blog daily with a "daily dilemma". This will be a question that pops into my head on a subject just about anything. You know, those annoying little questions that you think to yourself every day and wonder what others think. So I'm going to start posting my daily dilemma and hope that some of you out there in the ether will respond back with your opinions on the subject...

Today's Daily Dilemma: Wish Lists: Greedy or Good Idea?

So I was thinking today about Christmas present shopping which I usually try and have done or at least planned out before Thanksgiving. And always around this time of year I start hearing from family the question "What do you want for Christmas" and "What should we get E for Christmas" and "What should we get M for Christmas" (for those who don't know, "E" is my daughter, who is 14 months old and M is my husband).

Now, I usually keep a list on my computer of things I hear people mention throughout the year that they would like to have. It's my way of being able to surprise them with gifts on birthdays, Christmas, etc. But I don't share those lists as a rule because I only keep them for me... But as I was looking over E's list that I keep on Amazon, I realized it would be SO EASY to just create a wish list for her and send out the link and be done with it. Now, this list is things that I'd like to get her someday or things that other mommy friends have recommended or things that I've seen other kids with that I thought she'd like, etc. Some of the things are small things like books I think she'd like and some are bigger things like a wagon that seats two. Some are things that unless we win the lotto we probably won't be able to afford any time soon (like a swing set) and some are things that we'll probably eventually get her (like books). But all are things that I think she'd like or things she needs. So my dilemma is do I send out an email with a link to this list and a note saying, "just in case you were wondering what to get her" or does that seem greedy?

On the subject of wish lists in general, what do you think? Are they helpful or hurtful? For example, wedding and baby registries? Those are "wish lists" aren't they? Do you like them or prefer not to use them? I personally like to check them, but I may or may not buy something from them depending on my budget, how well I know the person, etc. And little kids often write letters to Santa with their wish lists... Do you, as their parent, pass those lists on or do you consider them strictly a "Mom & Dad" thing?

Is there an age at which a wish list becomes greedy rather than good idea? For instance, I have my own wish list on Amazon of things I'd like to have. I have a "book list" I have a "gift idea" list, I have a cd/dvd list and an MP3 list. I don't usually share those with anyone (except hubby when he asks) but I keep them so I can remember things I've seen that I'd like to have. Occasionally when I get a gift card or some birthday/Christmas money I use it to buy a thing or two off that list, but is that something that would be greedy if I were to share it or would it be a good idea so people know what to look for?

Is it a wish list if it's compiled by someone else? For instance, E isn't old enough yet to tell me what she wants, so it's not really "her" wishes on that list but our (mainly my) wishes for her. And M is old enough to tell me his wish list, but if the list I have is things that he hasn't specifically TOLD me to put on the list, is it his wish list or my suggestions of things he might like? In those cases does it make it ok for me to share the lists because they're my suggestions and not their wants? And does that mean that I shouldn't share my own but should rely on hubby to tell others his suggestions for what to give me? (Ugh! What a thought! LOL!)

So, what do you think? Wish lists - Good Idea or Greedy?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Indian Dinner - Salmon and zucchini with couscous

Ok, I've made these recipes a few times now and they have become a favorite, so I thought I'd share them with you all in blogland... The first is for an indian spiced salmon which is super simple to make and super yummy! The second recipe is for an indian zucchini which I've also made with eggplant, both of which are super yummy! I serve both these dishes with some tri-color couscous, made according to directions. Both the zucchini and salmon recipes come from the web, with a little tweaking of my own. Enjoy!

Indian-spiced Salmon
This recipe was originally from Everyday Food on PBS

Serves 4 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes

This salmon recipe utilizes a combination of spices — ginger, turmeric, and coriander — for unique results that draw on the flavors of India.

1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 skinless salmon fillets (each 6 ounces and about 1 inch thick)
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Heat broiler. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, turmeric, coriander, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
2. Spray a broiler pan or rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place salmon on pan. Spread yogurt mixture on top of fillets, dividing evenly. Broil until fish is just opaque throughout, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve immediately.

My notes: For me this is done in more like 10 minutes and is about 6" from the broiler element in the oven. It makes a great left over salad addition too!

Indian-Style Zucchini

This recipe was originally from Earthbound Farms, the produce people...

A potpourri of Asian spices and aromatics really jazzes up zucchini, or many other vegetables for that matter, such as green beans, okra or eggplant. The dish is delicious served hot or at room temperature.

Serves 2

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
5 cups diced zucchini (about 5 medium, cut into 1/2-inch dice)
1 small jalapeno or serrano chile, finely minced, or to taste
Salt, to taste

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat; when it's hot, add the oil and mustard seeds to the dry skillet. Cover the pan with a lid, and cook until the seeds pop, about 1 minute. Uncover the pan and add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and zucchini, and stir fry until the zucchini is crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chili and cook another minute. Season to taste with salt.

My notes: I've tried this with eggplant as well as zucchini and both are delicious. The first time I made this I didn't have any turmeric or ground coriander on hand so I used yellow curry powder instead of the cumin, coriander and turmeric. It tasted great that way too. For anyone having trouble finding garam masala, check your local Cost Plus World Market. They have a great international food selection! Also, I cooked this for longer than they specify since we like our zucchini a little softer and cooking the eggplant down makes it more custardy and yummy. I also didn't have any serrano peppers on hand so used two green thai peppers instead. This is a fabulous dish and my new favorite leftover as well.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Curry Bread

Ok, as I posted in my answers to this week's Take 5, I'm on a bread machine kick right now. I've tried a couple of recipes that were real flops, but today I've got a curry bread baked up that smells pretty darn good. I'll wait until my taster (Mike) comes home from work to report back on the results, but thought I'd post the recipe in advance anyway. This bread has coconut and peanuts in it along with curry powder. I'm thinking it might make really good PB&B sandwiches (peanut butter and banana) or be good with some kind of tropical chicken salad on it. Anyway, I'll report back after Mike tries it and let you know what he thinks :) Meanwhile, here's the recipe:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Curry Bread (1 1/2-Pound Recipe)

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 16 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Bread

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup flaked coconut
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons Fleischmann's® Bread Machine Yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer, adding coconut and peanuts with flour.

Recommended cycle: Basic/white bread cycle; medium/normal color setting. Timed-bake feature can be used.

"Fleischmann's Yeast"
S(Internet address):
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Tuesday's Take 5 Week 8

My Favorites - Tuesday's Take 5 - Week 8

1. What is your favorite food scene in a movie?
Hard choice! Food fight in Animal House? Escargot scene in Pretty Woman? Or maybe the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp :)

2. What is your favorite breakfast food?
Probably coffee cake, especially my grandmother's version!

3. What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?
Another hard choice! I swing between German, Thai and Indian. Right now I'm on a German kick cooking jager schnitzel tonight and sauerbrauten this weekend...

4. What is your favorite thing to snack on?
Usually something salty like popcorn

5. What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
Probably my food processor, although I'm on a bread machine kick right now too

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A bit o' the green!

In honor of my grandmother who would always make us some green food for dinner when we were eating at her house when we were kids, I'm posting a few of my favorite "green" foods for your enjoyment. Below you will find the recipes for "Luck o' the Irish" salad, Pistachio Cake and her potato bread, which she would make into rolls and dye green for St. Pats (along with the mashed potatoes occasionally!) Enjoy!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Luck O' the Irish Salad

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 4
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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1 package lime gelatin powder -- 4 serving package
1/2 cup celery -- chopped fine
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup pecans -- chopped
3 ounces cream cheese -- softened
8 ounces Cool Whip® -- thawed
2/3 cup crushed pineapple -- with juice

Dissolve the lime gelatin in the hot water. Add softened cream cheese and beat a medium speed with a hand-held mixer until well blended. Chill to soft-set consistency, then add crushed pineapple, celery and chopped nuts. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into a 3 cup mold or other container and refrigerate to set. Serve cold.

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* Exported from MasterCook *

Pistachio Cake

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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1 package white cake mix
3 eggs
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix -- 4 serving size
1 cup 7-up®
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped nuts -- pistachios or walnuts
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix -- 4 serving size
16 ounces Cool Whip® -- thawed
1/4 cup milk -- if needed to thin icing

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x12" pan (can also use a bundt pan) and flour with a small amount of cake mix or plain flour. Mix cake ingredients and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 40 min. or until lightly golden and springs back when touched. Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then put on wire rack to finish cooling. When cool, mix frosting ingredients together, using milk if needed to thin. Frost and garnish with extra chopped pistachios if desired. Keep refrigerated until serving. Freezes well.

"Very refreshing"
"12 pieces"
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* Exported from MasterCook *

Old Fashioned Potato Bread

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 0 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories :

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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1 package instant mashed potato flakes -- 2 servings
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup butter
2 cups Warm water (105-115)
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour -- sifted and divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter -- melted

Make 2 servings of potatoes, minus butter and seasonings. Measure one cup of potatoes. In large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water; stir until dissolved. Stir in sugar and salt until dissolved. Add 1 cup potatoes, 1/2 cup butter, 3 1/2 cups flour. With electric mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth - 2 minutes. Gradually add 4 cups flour, mixing with hands until smooth and stiff enough to leave bowl. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour if needed. Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic (small blisters will appear on the surface) 10 minutes. Place in greased large bowl; turn over. Cover with towel and let rise in warm place (85) until double - 1 hr. Turn out dough onto lightly floured pastry cloth or board. Divide in half. Roll out one half into a 16 by 8 in rectangle and roll from one end. Press ends even, pinch to seal, and tuck under loaf. Place, seam side down, in greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Brush surface lightly with some of the melted butter. Repeat with the other half of dough. Let loaves rise in warm place, until tops are rounded - 1 hr. Set oven rack at lowest level. Preheat oven to 400. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown and cover with brown paper. Turn out onto wire racks, brush tops with remaining butter. Cool. Makes 2 loaves.

From Betty Wood Calvert

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NOTES : Can be made into potato rolls easily. Just pinch off a lump of the finished dough about the size of a walnut. Take three such dough balls and place them together in a regular-sized muffin cup and allow to rise as with loaves. When risen, bake until golden brown as directed, usually 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday Take 5 Week 7 Answers

St. Patrick's Day Tuesday Take 5 Week 7

1. have you ever made some thing a certain color for a holiday (i.e. green cookies for st. patrick's day)? Yes, sure. Especially when we were cooking for church fellowship meals
2. what is your favorite green food? Asparagus! Love it!
3. what is your favorite irish dish to make?Colcannon and Barmbrack, just not necessarily together. Also like reubens, but I guess corned beef isn't actually irish...
4. what is one irish dish that you have always wanted to try?Dublin Lawyer sounds good to me!
5. have you ever had green beer?Nope. Don't like beer...I've had several green drinks though

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Take 5 Tuesdays Week #6

Take 5 Tuesdays Week 6
1. What was the last meal you ate out? Lunch at the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls on Friday for lunch on our way to Grand Prairie.
2. If your partner or friends could take you to any restaurant you wanted (their treat), which one would it be? Bohanan's Steakhouse in downtown San Antonio
3. Buffet, take-out or sit-down restaurant? Prefer sit-down most of the time, but occasionally the noise and crowds are too much and then take-out
4. What restaurant do you eat at the most? Sarika's Thai Cafe in Boerne
5. What type of restaurant is missing from your current town? German! We're a town with a German name and a German heritage and no German restaurants! Would also love to have some Indian and a good Italian place...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Dinner tip of the day - Meatloaf Muffins!

Ok, so today's tip for those who are interested, is meatloaf muffins... We started doing this when we were cooking for a large group at our church on Wednesday nights. It allows the meatloaf to cook quicker and is much easier to serve. Just make your favorite meatloaf recipe but instead of making a loaf out of it, form extra-large meatballs and bake them in a muffin tin. This is also very helpful when, like us, you have several toppings you like. You don't have to choose! Just top the meatloaf muffins differently. So, in the photos, you'll see first the "unadorned" meatloaves in the tin, then the "adorned" version with my ketchup and mustard toppings. This works really well for left overs as well. Freeze them and just take out one or two for an individual meal or several for the family. And slices are perfect for a hamburger bun for a meatloaf sandwich! Hope this idea is helpful to some of you out there!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Take 5 Tuesday Week #5

1. what 3 ingredients couldn't you live without? salt, butter, sugar
2. what food reminds you of your childhood? quiche, it was the first dish I cooked all by myself
3. what was your last cooking disasters? a cake I was making to decorate that just fell apart when I tried to work with it
4. what makes you a foodie? I'm interested in where my food comes from, how it's prepared and ways to make it taste better
5. what is the last meal you cooked? sloppy bbq joes with steamed vegetables

Take 5 Tuesdays Week #4 (catch-up)

1. what are you currently trying to learn/master with your cooking? bread
2. where do you go for ideas for new recipes (cooking shows, cookbooks/magazines, experiment in the kitchen)? I'd say a combination of all of those plus my recipe program, MasterCook, where I collect recipes
3. what is one thing that you make, but you don't eat? rhubarb pie, hubby like it, I don't
4. what is your biggest guilty pleasure with food? definitely chocolate, the darker the better
5. what is one thing that you mom (or who ever taught you to cook) can make better than you? chicken paprikash!

Take 5 Tuesday - Week #3 (catch-up)

1. what surprises you most about your cooking? how I go through spurts of ingredient use, sometimes I get on a kick for one ingredient and work with it a bunch or perhaps a technique that I'm loving, such as bread making
2. what is the one thing that you have mastered cooking (that you could not cook when you started)? cakes
3. who was your biggest inspiration to start cooking? my grandmother
4. what is your favorite thing to make? anything sweet, especially chocolate
5. what is one recipe that you are known for? my chicken salad

Take 5 Tuesday Week #2 (catch-up)

1. what is one food that you refuse to try? guinea pig!
2. what is the one food that you like to eat, but won't make? sushi (but willing to try making it, just haven't yet...)
3. what is the farthest you've traveled for a meal? 45 miles
4. what is the most creative/exotic meal you've ever made? Thai food
5. what is scariest (i.e. hole in the wall) place you've eaten at? a little place over the border in Nuevo Laredo

Take 5 Tuesdays - Week 1 (catch-up)

1. what is your favorite food/cooking website? Over all, but current fav is
2. do you prefer to watch cooking shows or read cooking magazines? depends on my mood. I like both, but more often watch than read.
3. are you more adventuresome in what you cook or in what you eat? eat. I tend to try things that are prepared for me before trying to prepare them myself.
4. what is one ingredient that you have always wanted to cook with, but never have? Foie Gras
5. what is the one thing that you can not cook without?salt! The universal spice

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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