30 April, 2012

| loaded potato soup |

Enter meal number .four.
The ziti rotini toss left me confidant; cocky even...
"Psh. I'm getting so good at this cooking thing...
I won't even have anything to blog about, anymore."
Open mouth, insert foot. CHOKE
Per '101 Quick and Easy Recipies' pg. 36
Prep: 12 Minutes - Cook: 35 Minutes
1. Prick each potato (recipe called for 5 large baking potatoes) several times with a fork. Arrange potatoes 1 inch apart in microwave, on paper towels. Microwave on HIGH about 20 minutes, turning and rearranging after 10 minutes. Let cool.
It didn't specify how long I should let the potatoes "cool." Based on the stated prep / cook times, one would assume not very long. Since I was otherwise distracted (thank you Internet) they probably sat for around 15 minutes.

2. Peel potatoes, and coarsely mash with a fork.

This is where

Have you ever tried to peel a baked potato? If you haven't, let me just say:
It is absolutely asinine.
do it, ever.
On the surface, the potatoes were cool to the touch.
As I start to peel* however,
*They don't peel, at least not like raw potatoes. The skin and soft innards kept jamming the potato peeler every 2.65 seconds, pissing me the F off.
and the skin began to painstakingly slough off, my hands...  OMFG .hot.
Hello, 2nd degree burns
Chunks of potato kept falling into the trash as a result of my manhandling, so I attempted to scalp them over a bowl.
The kitchen had, what looked like potato arterial spray everywhere.
Good thing the recipe recommended mashing coarsely
3. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add
1 medium onion, chopped I don't believe using an entire onion is ever really necessary. and saute' until tender. Add 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, stirring until smooth.

WHAT?! "Stirring until smooth"???
When I put the flour into the melted butter / caramelized onion mix, it turned instantly brown and clumpy. Not smooth. (and no amount of stirring was going to get it there)
Stir in potatoes, 1 qt. half-and-half, 3 cups milk, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper. Cook over low heat about 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
30 minutes later, the mixture was lukewarm at best.
I cranked the stove to get it almost boiling, then let the soup simmer a few minutes before serving.

I garnished mine with a Mexican cheese blend and black pepper. Matt cooked up some bacon to add to his / the kids'.

I can be directly quoted as saying, "I don't care if this is the best meal I have ever eaten, in my entire life. I will NEVER make it again." 

It did in fact, taste delicious. It reminds me of Outback Steakhouse's potato soup (which I love)
However, it was an absolute nightmare to make.
Finish time? 7:55pm
If I want to spend two hours on potato soup, I will drive to Lancaster and order some cheese fries to go with it.

26 April, 2012

| midnight muse |

A big thank you to Midnight Muse for publishing .two. of my images!

Continue to have my photography published: Five new publications...
This marks publication #2 of 5
See ALL of my 30 | 30 

25 April, 2012

| no-bake cheesy ziti toss |

Hello, meal number .3. of | 30 |

I am on a roll with this whole cooking business... I have spent more time in the kitchen these last few weeks, than I had in the many months prior. I wonder if my husband is going to start getting territorial? Doubtful.

Per '101 Quick and Easy Recipies' pg. 15
Prep: 15 Minutes - Cook: 16 Minutes
1. Cook ziti according to package directions; drain well
I couldn't find 'ziti' at the local Safeway, so I purchased whole grain rotini instead.
Oh, also it asked for 1/2 (16oz.) package. While cooking I only saw the 16oz. part... I was distraught that I had only picked up 12oz. box {which I used all of} What's an extra 4oz. among friends?
2. Meanwhile, stir together remaining ingredients in a large serving bowl*
*Initially, I had planned to make a Chicken Spaghetti Bake. As I am gathering the ingredients, I am realizing that a) I only have about half of what is required b) I have some really off the wall items in my cupboard (see: oil-packed dried tomatoes)
I don't know why I even bother writing a grocery list
Apparently while making my shopping list, I wrote down some of the ingredients for the spaghetti bake and the rest were hijacked from the ziti toss. (both recipes were on the same page) Seriously?!?! What kind of tool am I?
Clearly not a sharp one.
It worked out that I had most of the required items for the pasta-toss = Why it won the dinner raffle.
(I was really wanting that chicken bake too. Lame)
1 (15oz.) can pasta-style tomatoes, un-drained
Didn't purchase: Cut-up / gutted a fresh tomato instead... It yielded maybe 1/2 cup chopped
6oz. shredded cheddar-mozzarella cheese blend
I had medium cheddar cheese and a 4-cheese Mexican blend -I used the cheddar
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
These come in 16oz. jars... I bought .two. I have no idea why. Considering that I only used 4oz. I have a lot leftover.
1/3 cup chopped kalamata or ripe olives
Disgusting. Omitted.
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
I think this was my Matt's first experience with fresh basil; he seemed impressed with how .amazing. it smells
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3. Add hot pasta, and toss gently.


OMFG we actually prepared a meal under par!
This was only possible, because Matt helped to chop the basil and oil-packed tomatoes... Those were time consuming.
Out of the three meals prepared thus far, this has been my favorite.
It was quick, easy, and the whole family loved it.
I am thankful that I accidentally used 'too much' pasta, because we only had a small (whale) serving leftover. Had I not, there wouldn't have been enough. Next time we will probably serve it with a Chicken Cesar Salad and some Italian Bread.
A lot of this meal was prepared with household staples and it seems easily customizable. Matt and I also discussed trying a 'Southwest' version with black beans, corn and fresh cilantro. We cook with cilantro whenever possible.  

19 April, 2012

| chicken pot pies |

So tonight I attempted meal number .two. of | 30 |
Chicken Pot Pies kind of
I like (frozen) chicken pot pies. I do not like them microwaved however. I like even less that, should I choose not to microwave one, it takes over an hour in the oven to bake. Seriously?!?
60+ minutes for a mediocre meal?
No thanks.

So, let's see how making them from scratch stacks up...

Per '101 Quick and Easy Recipies' pg. 18
Prep: 15 Minutes - Cook: 23 Minutes
MY START TIME Funny story...
Right before we were about to start dinner, I realized that I had forgotten a *key* ingredient. Matt being the wonderful and doting husband that he is, volunteered to run to the store for me.
He came home, and we dove in.
{fast forward}
I am elbow-deep (is it just me or does 'balls-deep' just sound better, regardless of context?) in cooking when I realize *GASP* I didn't note my start time for the oh-so important blog recap.
I ask for the store receipt...
M says he threw it away
I ask if he received a text/call around the time he came home?
(trying to ascertain a general [time] frame of reference)
He says no
I may or may not have pouted. Mildly.
He digs through the trash to find said receipt
No dice
He checks the cupboard where we upcycle bags
At this point, I can't help but chuckle at his dedication; I state that "this series of events is way more exciting than simply posting the start time anyway."
I remembered that I had received a text right as he had crossed the threshold.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees -This should NOT have been the first step. The oven was 'pre-heating' for roughly an .hour. before it was actually put to use.
Cut 4 (4-inch) circles out of dough -I just traced the bowls we were going to use = Bigger than 4 inches
Place dough circles on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray -And this is where the kitchen thwarted me again. I go to spray the baking sheet, and the cooking spray? Well it really had no interest in spraying at all. It was more of a shart-sound | could-be-ooze out of the nozzle. (insert "reason number 675 why I hate cooking" tirade) I made do, by collecting the ooze onto a paper towel and wiping it onto the sheet.

Combine flour (2 heaping spoonfuls) sage (3 Jaiden 'pinches') salt & pepper into a zip-top freezer bag; add chicken*
*this is where I really need to start cooking vegetarian meals. I don't know which is worse: cutting up 1lb.+ of chicken into tiny "bite sized" pieces, or having to scoop up that raw, texturally disgusting mess with my bare hands into a zip lock for 'tossing and coating.'

Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat -F that. I substitute butter.
The recipe called for 1.5 cups of frozen vegetables + 1 cup fresh mushrooms. Instead I had M chop-up fresh carrots and celery; we also added in canned corn and canned green beans (both obviously drained).
Add chicken mixture; cook 5 minutes, browning all sides. Stir in water. Stir in vegetables and soup; (the soup is what required the 9-1-1 Safeway visit) bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 10 minutes.

Remember the dough circles? Yeah... They only take 8 minutes to bake.
Which is why preheating your oven 3 days ahead of time is futile.

Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into each bowl; top each serving with 1 crust circle.

Again, not a 38 minute meal...and there were even two of us this time!

It fed a hungry family of .5. with virtually no leftovers. The kids loved it, and it was much better than its frozen counterpart. I do think it could use more seasoning/flavor though. Matt ate his with ketchup; (weird Kiwi thing) we both added a lot of pepper.
Will I make it again?

Twenty-eight meals to go...

18 April, 2012

| mexican lime-chicken soup |

October 28th, 2011
That was the last time I cooked a meal from .scratch.
I know this specific date because it was a for a special occasion: My husband's birthday.
I made him his favorite New Zealand dishes -Minced Meat Pies and Pavlova.
While they turned out delicious (even to me, who doesn't eat red meat -generally) the process was so horrific it was borderline comical.
I had to toss the mince marinade and restart because I had misread the measurements
Cornstarch exploded all over the kitchen
...and have you ever tried to make meringue? You are beating the egg
  F  O  R  E  V  E  R
I remember thinking, "I should really blog about this."
But I didn't.

For some self-tortuous reason I decided to add COOK 30 MEALS FROM SCRATCH onto my list of 30 things to accomplish before I turn 30.
I really don't cook.* Obviously.
Matt does.
If I am forced to prepare something, it is from a box or a can... Or we go out.
*okay, sometimes I'll make stir-fry but that doesn't count.
I do not find it cost-effective, therapeutic, or that cooking makes me any more of a 'woman.' (insert whatever other excuse people use to validate their joy of cooking)

My 30 | 30.

Mexican Lime-Chicken Soup
In hindsight, choosing to make a soup from scratch after spending .two hours. single mom-ing it up in the freezing mist/rain to watch Little League Softball {with all three kids}, was probably setting myself up for failure.
Or at the very least helped to fuel my hatred, due to the sheer time and energy cooking requires.

Per '101 Quick and Easy Recipies' pg. 38
Prep: 13 Minutes - Cook: 20 Minutes

2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil     (I only had Canola and Olive - I used Canola)

1 Large Red Bell Pepper, Chopped

1 Large Onion, Chopped (An entire onion? No Way. I used maybe 1/4 and left the chunks really big so that we didn't have to eat them)

1 tsp. Bottled Minced Garlic (Last night I read that as 1 Tbsp. Oops.)

2 14.5-oz. Cans Mexican-style Stewed Tomatoes, Drained and Chopped

2 Limes (I only bought 1, by accident)

4 14-oz. Cans Chicken Broth (3 Chicken, 1 Vegetable... Since that's what I had on hand)

3 Cups Cooked Chicken (What looked like 3 cups raw, turned out to be maybe 1 cup cooked)

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro

1 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Jalapeno Pepper

1/4 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper

So much for a 33 minute meal
However, it was surprisingly delicious and flavorful (especially considering how many recipe changes I made). To serve, I garnished it with shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips; the scoops were perfect.
Cadence LOVED it: She devoured two bowls and said that the broth was her favorite (amazing for a kid who normally avoids it). Jaiden stated that she liked it... Though I don't really believe her. She picked out the chicken to eat, then excused herself from the table (foregoing dessert).
There was a lot leftover.
Speaking of leftovers...
Matt had some today, and he agreed that it was good / full of flavor.
I also ate it again for lunch; I feel that it is just as good re-warmed, as it was fresh off the stove. 
Will I make it again?
I might even try to follow the recipe next time...
PS. Food photography is really not my thing.

12 April, 2012

| project life, week four |

I have had this layout done for a week or so, but have just been so swamped; so behind on .life. that I haven't had the chance to blog...

I really, really love this week's spread. It is very... .me.
{i think it may be my favorite thus far}
It has little pieces of most everything that makes me happy; what, and whom I hold dear.

Miki's wear TWLOHA campaign video (or animated .gif as she called it)
A quaint menu from our little family lunch, with Matty's handwritten memories
Receiving a copy Line Zero in the mail... With .my photography. published
Adam Ferrara tweeting me back
Coffee chai & apple juice with Travis
Spring cherry blossoms... THE best time to be in Salem, Ore.
Memories made with my brother: New experiences, and his handwritting

this is essentially 'sandi' - this is my life


05 April, 2012

| walking on broken glass |

As part of my 30 | 30, I want to read thirty new books.
Initially I wasn't going to include The Element Encyclopedia of 20,000 Dreams, because it wasn't / isn't something that I am reading start-to-finish or cover-to-cover.
However as I find myself referencing it more and more; really reading (and reading into) my dreams, I feel it is worth noting.
Last Night: walking across .broken glass. the color .purple. the color .white.

Dreams of walking on broken glass may represent cutting words or wounding experiences. The vivid image in the dream is designed to draw your attention to a pain that you may have been denying in waking life. It can also refer to something clear and pure that has been broken, suggesting the shattering of expectations. Typically, such dreams are linked to personal, rather than career, conflicts. If you have such a dream, has something in your waking life changed dramatically and has that change caused you pain? If you are walking on glass, consider how your direction in life is causing you pain. 

In dreams, purple is indicative of loyalty, authority and justice. And because purple shades tinge the sky just before dawn and nightfall - times that were once thought to be imbued with mysterious and other worldly powers - violet, indigo and any shade of purple are thought to possess profoundly spiritual or religious qualities. Whenever they appear in a dream, they may be seen as indicating compassion, deep intuitive wisdom and, by implication, inner peace. Purple everyday objects in dreams could also indicate the need for more openness and honesty in your dealings with others. 

White is often regarded as the color of purity, truth, goodness and hope, perhaps best represented by the virginal bride. Within a Western context , seeing this color in your dreams may therefore be a message from your subconscious urging you to discover the truth of a situation, or to find your own truth. In addition, whilst black or darkness can obscure surroundings, white or brightness illuminates them, which is why it can denote transparency and truth. If the feeling in your dream that featured white was one of sadness or frustration, could the suggestion have been that you are tired of your colorless waking life and long for more excitement and color?  

This is so my life.
And while I recognize what my subconscious is grappling with, possession of that knowledge is not entirely helpful. I feel like there are no good decisions; there is no 'right answer.'

"I know the feeling... and for us, feeling bliss is a high. A reason to feel alive. Sensibility and security are brutal when your heart screams to dream." -the one who understands me best (Michelle Carter)

I made the decision to live in reality versus fantasy. Societal expectations reveal that that is the morally responsible thing to do. For probably the first time in my life, I have chosen sensibility and security over the flitting desires of my soul. For some reason, I thought that my self proclaimed self righteousness would bring me a shade more happiness. I was wrong. 

"If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind wanders." 

02 April, 2012

| project life, week three |

I really love this page; it is much more 'scenic' than normal... But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
All images are from year .27. | photo-a-day

Jenn took us to see Wicked for our birthday(s). I added an insert and saved the program cover.

On the back of the insert, I added another page from the program with some printed iPhone shots from the evening, my ticket stub, and a little journaling.

This page is really eclectic:
Part of the Venti's menu from my lunch date
The sweet little note from my Sugar Krystle's Cake Pops
A lot of iPhone / Instagram (@sandielle) images + thoughts from Matt
Plus some shots of Whale and I from our walk around Minto-Brown

Nothing too crazy this week....