Sunday, September 9, 2012

Grilled Pizza

After my swordfish success I decided to make grilled pizza.  I went with a Cooks Illustrated recipe because I like detailed directions that when followed to the letter produce delicious results without fail.  Unfortunately that also means that the recipe takes a long time and produces a dishwasher full of dishes (if the dishes are actually dishwasher safe).

This is not a weeknight recipe. I needed to bring the card table out for all of the necessary items and ingredients to grill the pizzas.

We had lots of tomatoes from Cleverly Farms and John's Mom, so I used them along with Fontina, Parmesan, and basil.

 Hot Toddy and Ivy were able to join us for dinner, which is good because the recipe makes four pizzas.  Those pizzas are supposed to feed 6-8 people....

...but we found that a pizza a person was a more appropriate size.

Grilled pizza may have ended up being more work than I expected, but I'll probably try them again. They turned out great for my second attempt at grilling. I look forward to cooking something new on the grill soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Dinner

I grilled dinner tonight.  It's kind of a big deal.  I've never grilled before.  

It all started when John said he didn't want to grill tonight but he wouldn't mind if I did.  I figured it was a good excuse to learn how to grill.  It was also a good excuse to by a new kitchen gadget.  I picked up a chimney starter at the hardware store and headed to the grocery store.

I have been wanting to learn how to grill for a long time now.  Why?  Because you get to stand outside and drink beer while making dinner.  That is the sort of activity that I'm very good at.

I decided to jump into grilling with both feet.  I made fingerling potatoes with onions, grilled garlic bread, and swordfish with a mango salsa.

It turned out great.  It was the best meal I've had in a long time. I was shocked at how it all came together.

It turns out grilling is really easy. I don't know why I have never done it before. I'm looking forward to grilling again.  I'm thinking I might try grilled pizza later this week.  Before long I'll be like my Dad and I'll able to tell you how many beers it takes to grill my favorite items (Dad is 1.5 beers for pork chops, FYI).

Classy Lamp

 I've had an ugly lamp in my possession all of my adult life.  It was in my house growing up.  I'm sure it wasn't  ugly when my parent's bought the lamp.  But 40 or so year years later the lamp was looking pretty dated.  The entire time I've lived in my house the lamp has been in the basement.  I couldn't bring myself to give it up.  I knew it had potential.

So today, after telling John for over a year I was going to do something with it, I did something with it.  I cleaned it, primed it, and painted it.

 It's now a shiny light blue.  It is my new bedside lamp.
 I love how it looks now.  The paint and a new lampshade really glammed it up.

Happy Dog

Wrigley is the happiest dog I have ever met.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Crafty Jars

 I spent Saturday hanging out with Kathleen, Mary-Claire, Deirdre, and Kathy.  We had a crafty day.  I got a lot of knitting done, but by far my favorite craft of the day was playing with Kathleen's Shilhouette cutter.

I made a snack jar for work.  I hope that the cheekiness of the jar will keep people from stealing my almonds.  I'm not going to hold my breath.

I made a jar to hold Wrigley's treats so I don't have to look at a Milk Bone box in the kitchen.  The jar has a bone and says Wrigley's Treats. I was focusing on the super cute dog, so you don't get the best photo of the jar.

She seems to like it.

I would tell you about what a great time I had and how much I love hanging out with my family, but I'm not going to blog about how great they are until they update their blogs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday Night Party

Our awesome neighbors Ricky and Kelly had a party yesterday.  It was a day long brewing party.  We headed over after work to check out what they were brewing.  I stuck to cider, because as I have previously noted, the rum raisin cider is the best cider I have ever had.  I also tired the vanilla cream, which was like a lighter version of the Breckenridge Vanilla Porter.

Heading to a party on a Monday was a good way to make the start of the week suck a little less.  I think I'll try to do something fun every Monday to kick the week off on a positive note.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wrigley's New Sweater

Wrigley doesn't have much body fat or hair, so the recent cold spell has been hard on her. Today I set out to find her a sweater to keep her warm.

She might not look happy, but she does appear to love her new sweater. She's been snoozing all afternoon and for the first time hasn't snuggled under the blanket on the couch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Awesome Neighbors

John and I have lots of good neighbors. Two of our favorite neighbors are Ricky and Kelly. They are genuinely nice people, and they invite us over.

Ricky is an accomplished home brewer with a five tap system in the basement. He makes delicious beer...and cider and bread and sake and tonic. This morning he stopped over with a pint fore me to try of his new rum raisin cider. It was by far the best cider I have ever had.

John & I will be having Ricky and Kelly over soon, but we will be serving them store bought beverages. We'll just go overboard with homemade baked goods.

Chili and Cornbread

I've heard some people don't eat cornbread with chili. I don't understand those people. The slight sweetness of cornbread balances out the spiciness of chili beautifully.

I had been dreaming of some time about yeasted corn bread bowls for chili. After a lot of research I found a recipe I could adapt. I make six bolles, but eight probably would have made them a more appropriate size.

After we filled them with chili we topped them with cheese. It was pretty much the perfect meal for a snowy night.


Four photos that prove my birthday was awesome (none of which are of Wrigley):

1. My co-worker knows that every girl loves a post-it and a granola bar.

2. Kathleen made me a delicious a birthday cake. If she ever offers to make you a cake say yes, then insist on chocolate buttercream frosting. Trust me. You're welcome in advance.

3. Emily made me a cake too. This one was strawberry with cream cheese frosting. And it was at a super bowl party with amazing food and wonderful friends.

4. Dinner at Splash. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one. I'm pretty sure you're already drooling at the photo.

If this year is half as good as my birthday I'm in for a wonderful year.

Allyson & Ryan

Yesterday John & I threw a couples shower for Allyson & Ryan. We are very excited that they are getting married, so we threw them a party.

The shower was a tailgate theme. Allyson is UNI fan (she has excellent taste) and Seymour is an ISU fan (we all have our faults). Of all of the treats that I made I am most proud of my Panther and Cyclone sandwich cookies. They were delicious and full of team spirit.


John has given me some great presents over the years, but my birthday present this year takes the cake. WE GOT A DOG!
Wrigley is a boxer mix we found through AHeinz57 pet rescue. She is just over a year old and it full of energy and love.

She is adorable, so I will probably be posting a lot of dog photos.

Doesn't she have a beautiful smile?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Must Make This Right Now

I have a thing for Lara Bars. These tasty bars contain three simple things: dried fruit, raw nuts, and spices. They are delicious and nutritious. There's only one drawback: they are very expensive.

Luckily I recently fell in love with Pinterest and discovered that my friend Sarah had located a blog with a recipe for homemade Lara bars. The recipe looked easy and all of the ingredients were in my kitchen (one of the perks of buying dried fruit and nuts in bulk at Costco).

I've now made these bar three times in two weeks. They are amazing. You need to make them. All you need are dates, dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and a food processor. Don't have those things? Get off of your butt and go buy them. Now. Even if it means you need to buy a small appliance. That is how good these bars are. If you come to my house I will force-feed you them until you admit that you love them and your life will not be complete until you make them and have them in your refrigerator at all times.

These are amazing bars. And they are so easy to make I was compelled to document the entire process in an effort to convert you. As you can see, these are bars so good they make you crazy.

Step 1: Get Fruity
Put dried fruit into a food processor. I went with blueberries and dates and dried cherries and dates. Yes I love these bars so much I made two kinds in one day. Get off my back.
If you are able to get these in the bowl without eating any dates I applaud you. I have a date addiction and need to constantly taste.

Once the fruit is in the food processor, process it (I told you it was a simple recipe). You want it to go from this:
To this:
When it is mushy like in the photo put it in a bowl.

Step 2: Go Nuts
I've made the bars with almonds, pecans, and pistachios. Pecans are my favorite. Pick the nuts you want to go with and process them.
They should go from this:
To this:
Once chopped, put it in the bowl with the fruit.

Step 3: Spice it up
Add a dash of cinnamon.
Your bowl should look like this. When you look in the bowl you will probably be questioning my love of these bars.

Step 4: Mix it up
You'll need to use your hands.

Mash it up until it looks like this:

Step 5: Wrap it up

Split the goo in half. Wrap your bars in saran wrap and store them in the fridge. When you are running out of the house and need to eat breakfast grab one on the go and congratulate yourself on being so prepared.

Now head on over to Enlightened Cooking to get the recipe and make these.

You're welcome, America.

Apple Butter Bartering

A few weeks ago I read on Stacia's blog about her apple butter making. I love apple butter. It is perfect on toast, especially in the dead of winter.

I convinced Stacia to trade me one jar of delicious apple butter for a loaf of bread.
One loaf my favorite light wheat bread later I am now the proud owner of a jar of apple butter.

I could really get into bartering.

While I was at Stacia & Greg's dropping off the bread I was able to check out her worm composting system. It's incredibly cool and I am getting one at our new house.
So in short - I tried being a hippie and it's cool.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Slippers for Mom

Over Christmas Mom requested a pair of felted slippers. I recently finished a huge knitting project (photos to be posted as soon as possible), so I was ready for a a quick hit knitting project.

I had stash yarn leftover from other projects. I found the Duffers pattern on Raverly and got to work.

Knitting items to be felted is fun, because you get to use big needles and act like you are knitting for a giant.
Once felted the slippers are toasty warm and much cuter.

UNI Game

Last weekend we headed to Drake to watch UNI kick some butt at basketball. I neglected to take photos of my UNI friends at dinner before the game or at Justin and Amy's after the game, but I did remember to take a photo at the game. It shows what a good job Justin does at getting tickets for the whole group.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iowa Nice

If you haven't seen this yet you should watch it. They language may be offensive. I think it's funny even with the language.

Republican Recap

Tonight is a big night in Iowa. After months of campaign commercials thousands of Iowans are headed out to Caucus for candidates they support. I am not caucusing, as my candidate in November already has a spot on the ballot.

Even though I am not participating tonight, I have enjoyed learning about the candidates running for office. Along with my trusty co-workers Brian and Angie I have gone to see five Republican candidates for office over the past two months. It has been quite an experience.
My trusty co-workers

One of the perks of working at a large insurance company is that Republicans line up to speak to your office. For you convenience I have arranged my comments in order from least crazy to totally crazy.

Not crazy: Mitt Romney
Do I agree with this guy? No. Do I respect him? Yes. Unlike most other candidates I heard speak, he was not an enormous ass.

Newt Gingrich: Angry Grandpa
Newt started off great. I liked the guy. Then his medication wore off and he started talking crazy. Having seen him answer questions off the cuff I can now easily imagine him shaking a rake at kids and yelling at them to get him off his lawn.

Michele Bachmann: Not the craziest
What does it say about the options that this lady is not the craziest? That's right. This tiny woman who thinks you can pray gay away and speaks of Obama like he is a disease not the president is not the craziest person I heard speak this fall.

Rick Santorum: He Probably Hates You
He spoke for 30 minutes. He didn't mention the economy until a question was asked about it. He hates gay people and women's rights. We don't exactly see eye to eye on the social issues.

Rick Perry: Frightening Nut Job
Imagine you are watching a sketch from Saturday Night Live about a politician giving a speech drunk. That's pretty much what listening to Rick Perry is like. He wants to privatize the TSA. He's for states rights but for a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. He sited a story from the Bible and said God had picked him to run for president. He didn't even speak about his platform. He had Bobby Jindal do that for him.

If Bobby Jindal runs for president I'm pretty sure I would put him between Mitt and Newt.

I am thankful for the opportunity to hear so many candidates speak. I hope that the next time I hear candidates speak they do not focus on how faith can heal our country. I think God has bigger things to do than think about tax law in the United States. I hope that candidates start focusing on how everyone can work together to keep our country great. If we spent half of the time we spend complaining about the other party working together we could accomplish a lot.