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Archive for September, 2010

Oh my goodness.  It was FANTASTIC. 

Yesterday, my peer mentor from my learning community (I’m the coordinator) last year took me out for lunch.  Is it weird that I don’t feel weird that she took me out because she’s older than me?  Maybe.

Anyhoo, we went to Cafe Beaudelaire here in Ames.  First, they have Diet Coke.  The pre-requisite to being on my “where do I feel like eating?” list.  Secondly, they have this sandwich. 

The Beirut.

Yep, that’s the name of this sensational sammie (who doesn’t love alliteration?).  Have you had it?  If not, you just found yourself a willing lunch companion!

1.  It’s about the size of a large salad plate. 

2. It’s served on something that’s in between a bun and pita bread.

3. It has muenster and mozzarella cheese.  Which I didn’t think I’d like, but it rocked!

4. Oh my goodness–that was some good roast beef!  You can also get it with chicken.

5. Typically, it comes with cilantro mayo.  Which I think would be very enjoyable for you condiment-types.

6. Lastly, it’s served with a fried egg on top!  I didn’t think I’d like this at all (I’m not much on eggs and with the scare recently–yikes) but I did!  And you will too.

Is it dinner yet?

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We love us some pumpkin

Last week was pretty rough.  I didn’t account for the S factor.  Stress that is.  Last week’s menu plans, grocery shopping, and cooking were majorly thrown off by this pesky characteristic.  The hubby started a new job (yay!) and I had multiple special events going on at work.  Many that required me to stay on campus until after 7pm.  Read: way too starving and tired to cook a meal.

But, we survived and made it to the weekend.  We celebrated by indulging in some major Fringe Season 2 watching Friday night.  The hubby had drill on Saturday and Sunday.  I spent six hours on Saturday in the Workspace, helping my sister sew some fabric squares for her wedding reception.  I love the Workspace and it’s a perfect place to spend a rainy Saturday.  That night, I headed down to Des Moines to go to DTC with my sister and her fiance. 

After DTC, my sister and I were planning on doing some baking.  And let me tell you, we LOVE us some fall baking.  Which means we love us some canned pumpkin.  In case you didn’t know, last year, there was a shortage.  Can you imagine?  A shortage of pumpkin.  Well, Saturday night, we stopped by a local grocery store in search of this beloved commodity.  No luck.

At first we weren’t concerned.  We decided we’d check on Sunday before lunch.  After trying two more stores, our anxiety level definitely increased.  We even went so far to buy a few pie pumpkins so we could roast on our own.  Then, finally, at the fourth store, we found it!  My sister dutifully stood guard over the shelf while I ran (literally) for a cart.  We loaded up.  I mean it.  We bought 24 cans.  On the way to the check-out lanes, we got stopped by a grocery store employee who informed us they technically weren’t supposed to put it out on the shelf yet.  And that, in fact, there’s a shortage this year too!  Well too bad for them, they didn’t see us coming.  And anyway, we left three cans behind 🙂

We’re excited that we have a store of pumpkin for awhile.  But I’m guessing it won’t even last until Thanksgiving.

In other news, by special request of the hubby, I made this AWESOME Puerto Rican pulled pork this weekend as well.  It was delicioso!

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She Pours the Shots…

While telling me about how he told a friend he would check with me about a dinner date, my verbally clumsy hubby accidently said, “I told her you pour the shots” instead of “you call the shots.”  I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been one of those Mondays.  Work nonstop, work errands over lunch, and meetings until 7.  I’m hopeful that I’ll still eek out enough energy to make some spicy & sweet drumsticks.  If not, I’ll just pour the shots.

I’m completely kidding.  Please drink responsibly.

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Grocery Challenge: Week 2

Why is it that the shortest work weeks are always the longest?

While working with students on professional communication, I discovered my own trifeca of irritation (do you have one of these?).  A sure-fire way to reduce your chances of getting a helpful response from me is to include the words “obviously,” “apparently,” or “clearly” in an e-mail.  Okay, so I’ll still answer you quickly and pleasantly.  But for some reason, these words just scream at me, making me feel like the writer thinks I’m a complete idiot.  Anyone with me? 

Okay, enough with that business 🙂  Now, onto more enjoyable topics…like groceries and cooking!

This week’s menu wasn’t too exciting.  Tuesday night’s dinner was leftover butternut squash mac & cheese.  Wednesday was chicken enchiladas.  Thursday was a mixture of cereal and snacking (had a really bad headache after teaching) while watching Project Runway.  Tonight we went out for Mexican to celebrate hubby hopefully having a part-time job in a few weeks!

After dinner, we went grocery shopping so we could be free to watch the ISU v. Iowa game tomorrow.  I’m sad to have to admit to you all that I went $1.06 over my $20 budget.  Sad.  I’m not sure where I went wrong.  Maybe the acorn squash I couldn’t resist.  Or it might have been the PB (but I’m almost out!).  Or it could have been the crescent rolls and little smokies (mini pigs in a blanket–like we can watch football without them!).  Nevertheless, I think I still stretched our dollars perty far 🙂

When we got home, I started in on a few projects for the evening.  I had some ripe bananas to use up so I made my favorite banana bread (trusty Hy-Vee Cookbook recipe–picked it up at a garage sale).  I had been given some fresh tomatoes this week (seriously, it’s like I’m in a veggie co-op.  Yay for generous friends!) so I made a batch of homemade salsa.  With plenty of kick. 

At the grocery store, we decided to save a couple bucks and a few dozen grams of fat by making our own tortilla chips at home.  I still had a package of corn tortillas (less than $1) at home.  With a little cooking spray, a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of seasoning salt and cumin, presto!  Delicous, baked tortilla chips.

Oh and last but not least–I finally skimmed my chicken broth, got it into plastic baggies, and into the freezer.  I’m hoping to make my tortilla soup Sunday night so I can bring it for lunch next week.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and don’t forget, GO STATE!

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…of Saturday’s breakfast, Sunday’s snack, and well, Sunday’s dessert.

Meet my friend, Baked Oatmeal (ignore her initials–she’s amazing!).

I can’t find the exact recipe I used, but I found one on Taste of Home (definitely what I call a reliable source) that seems pretty close.  A few adjustments will have you mmm-mm-mming in no time!

1. I only used about 1/4 cup of sugar in the actual oatmeal.  I lightly coated the fruit in some leftover Splenda that I had at home.

2. I used old fashioned oats.  Because it’s what I had.  And it worked just fine.  Just need a little longer baking time.

3. I only used peaches and blueberries.  Because it’s what I had.  This will be the theme of September 🙂

4. I threw in some ground flax seed and sliced almonds that had been lurking in the back of my baking cupboard.

I really love having a hot breakfast on the weekends and this felt very comforting, dessert-like, and yet pleasingly guilt-free.  On Sunday night, it even served as a dessert substitute (warmed up with some low-fat vanilla ice cream).  I can’t wait to try this with apples–orchard season is upon us!

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The Labors of My Day

Happy Labor Day All!  I hope that your days were filled with bbqs, naps, and all of the things that a day off should bring 🙂

The hubby and I decided to stay in town this weekend (though I’ve stated clearly that I MUST get the heck out of dodge before Thanksgiving–I’m just antsy like that).  I stayed late to work on Friday night in an attempt to free up more time over the weekend.  Thankfully, we had all the ingredients to throw together a quick stirfry for dinner.  On Saturday, we wandered in downtown Ames and sampled some barbeque from the state competition that was happening.  Pulled pork is definitely one of our favorite treats right now.  After that, we headed to Des Moines and enjoyed the perfect weather from our seats (free!  I snagged the tickets from ISU earlier in the week) at Principal Park.  The I-Cubbies won!  Sunday was pretty lazy and enjoyable, ending with a House-fest with friends.

So, even though I had the day off from work today, I had a lot that I needed to get accomplished.  First, I am giving my first exam in one of my classes this week.  I needed to finish writing the exam and prepare my questions for the in-class study session.  Like the top-notch procrastinator I am, I put these tasks off for as long as possible and did what I wanted to do: cook.

On Sunday night, I inherited a couple of butternut squash and a zucchini from my wonderful sister-in-law.  So first things first–I preheated the oven to 400 and roasted the squash with a little butter and cinnamon.  While the squash was doing its thing, I shredded my zuch.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make.  I found a good recipe for bread in my handy Hy-Vee cookbook but still had about two cups left.  I remembered my good friend Angie had posted a “Tour de Zucc” awhile back on her blog.  I decided to try this recipe for zucchini brownies.  It was DELICIOUS!  We didn’t frost ours (didn’t have any frosting) but ate it with some leftover light vanilla ice cream.  Mmm mmm mmm!

(My computer isn’t reading my card tonight so no brownie picture.  Boo.)

In true multitasking glory (FYI: did you know some studies suggest that women are better able to multitask due to a thicker corpus callosum?  Look that up in your Intro Psych textbook, haha), I also got around to starting my first batch of homemade chicken stock.  I used PW’s recipe as planned and it turned out amazingly!  I can’t wait to use it in tortilla soup, casseroles, and maybe even some mashed potatoes!

After the squash finished and I was able to stave my hubby off from devouring it, I began the search for another recipe.  I found a couple on Tasty Kitchen and ended up with a mixture of recipes for Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (see here and here).  I used the cheese that I had and threw in some shredded chicken from Sunday’s roasted chicken.

Finally, at 8 p.m., after cooking all day, running errands, doing some random redecorating, and repainting my toenails, I settled in to finish writing my exam and study questions.  And two hours later, I’m done!  Thankfully it’s only a four day work week because after today, I’m going to need a break!

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So, although it’s only September 3, we technically started our challenge on Monday.  And so far, so good.  We made it the whole week, making dinners at home, and most importantly, NOT going to the grocery store.  We did eat out for lunch twice but took advantage of lunch specials (and our eating out budget is different from our grocery budget). 

Here’s the line-up:

Sunday: Baked Chicken ($0.59/lb at Hy-Vee last week!) with roasted peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and potatoes.  We used this chicken all throughout the week.

Monday: Homemade chicken, bacon, & roasted garlic pizza.  This was from a store-bought packet, but I’m hoping to try homemade pizza dough in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner.  I made a scramble with potatoes, onions, red peppers, onions, bacon, eggs, and a little cheese.

Wednesday: Chicken, onion, and black bean tostadas with rice.

Thursday: I have to teach on Thursday nights.  Jensen had some ramen (that we’ve had for six months) and I had cereal when I got home 🙂

Friday: Hot & Spicy Chicken Fried Rice.  I used instant brown rice (have two boxes), red peppers, broccoli, green onions, and chicken.  Mmm good (I had to restrain Jensen so we’d have some for lunch Saturday).

The weekends always seem to be challenging for us so we’ll see how this first one goes.  I scanned the ads today and tried to prioritize what I’d like to buy with my $20 this week.  I’m pretty excited to see how far I can make our money go!  We’ve got another whole chicken in the fridge defrosting.  I’m hoping to make it on Sunday and then on Monday (since it’s Labor Day and I have the day off), I’m going to try to make homemade chicken broth using this recipe.  If the weather stays cool, I plan to make some chicken tortilla soup (one of my favorites!).

I’m hoping to get my camera charged up tonight so that I’ll be able to show my loot from the grocery store 🙂

Here’s to celebrating small victories!

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