Monday, August 22, 2011

Greetings From Indiana

It was a Super Saturday here in Indianapolis. Michael took me out to the Indiana State Fair (This year's theme was "The Year of the Soybean") :)

Below are some of our favorite Home Economics Entries:


For some reason these three painted gourds cracked Mike up. It was hilarious to see!

The fashion show below gave us both a good chuckle. It was a 4-H fashion show with amazing clothes the girls had sewn themselves, set to the music of the sweet old lady on the organ in the bottom right of the photograph. She was playing lots of hymns and funeral-type marches for the girls to walk down the runway to.


We indulged ourselves with a few of our favorite fair food treats including corn dogs, fried dill pickles and lemon shake-ups as well as multiple cups of delicious chocolate milk from the milk barn. We also visited the livestock barns - the draft horses were phenomenal! After that we took a ride around the fair on the soybean oil powered tractor ride for 75 cents a person.

We skipped the midway rides but we did visit the Germany village exhibit complete with garden gnomes - which also made Mikey laugh (and that made me laugh).


After a morning at the State Fair, Michael took me downtown to the Canal District for a paddle boat ride. Along the way we saw Lucas Oil Stadium (the home of this year's Super Bowl).
The paddle boat canal goes right through downtown and is about a mile and a half one way. We had so much fun sight seeing and paddling along in the heat. Here are some of the things we got to see...










I know what you are thinking! How can a day like this get better? We thought it was perfect until we passed the Chicken Limo on our way home! I wonder who rents that thing?

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful husband who misses me when I am away, who takes me out for creative dates and still makes me laugh every day! Mikey, just being with you makes everything more fun.

Fun In The Sun

Last week Michael got to go to Atlanta for work and I got to go back to California for a visit. It was so good to be out of the humidity and among friends and family. Here are some of my adventures....

Prop-plane ride from San Fran to Modesto Airport. I was so happy to have a window seat!
I got to weed and harvest our garden (which had gone wild while we've been in Indy). I bagged about 5 one-gallon bags of peppers and 4 of tomatoes. We also harvested some strawberries and mini pumpkins. The larger pumpkins are growing up the grape vines and should be ripe in time for carving!
My dad took me fishing at Clark's Fork...
My cousin Jenny and her family came along. It was so much fun!


I used Mike's tackle box and pole - I lost two lures in the swift, tree strewn water but...
I caught 4 fish - 2 of which were large enough to keep! Oh-yeah!
My niece Novalee and nephew Braylon came over for a hike down by the creek and a dip in the pool.
I spent Tuesday at the temple. It was a lovely day and I was so proud of myself for driving all the way there without getting lost that I treated myself to In-and-Out Burger on my way home.

The Ricks invited me over for their "Shark Week" party! It was awesome! Themed food and lots of amazing "Shark Week" shows! I loved the watermelon shark head fruit salad with blue jello for water and whipped cream for foam. Gail is so creative!

The family also took a trip to the Sunsplash Waterslides in Roseville. We met up at the Lodi Airport and arrived just in time to watch people skydive. The waterslides were more fun than I remembered. We all wish Michael could have come with us on all our adventures. Everyone kept asking when he was coming home. It was wonderful to be back in California but everything would have been more fun with Michael around. We missed you Mikey!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cheddar Garlic Chicken with Bread Crumbs

We found this recipe on the back of a bag of shredded Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese. We decided to give it a whirl and it was AmAzinG!! Easy to make and oh-so-delicious. We served it with a green salad.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.
  4. Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Spicy Potato Corn Chowder With Shrimp and Bacon

I miss cooking (as you can probably tell from the most recent posts). I've always loved to cook and after a month of not being able to cook anything here in Indy I long for the chance to chop, mix, saute and stir. I am hankering for the opportunity to hand-knead some bread dough or try out some new recipes. In the meantime I pulled up some of the food pictures I had taken in the last few months and decided to blog the recipes. They are best-loved by us and we hope you like them!

This Chowder was a weekly staple in our house over the cooler months. It is quick, takes familiar ingredients and is delicious!

Spicy Potato Corn Chowder {with Shrimp and/or Bacon}
Recipe adapted from one given to me by the fantastic Cindy Ortland - she is an amazing cook!


Ingredients:

1/2 chopped yellow or white onion

1/2 C chopped bell pepper (I always keep a bag of frozen bell pepper strips in the freezer - they are perfect for lots of dishes, especially this one!)

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into very small pieces (think O'brien Potato size - you can also use frozen O'brien Potatoes as a substitute)

1/2 tsp celery salt

1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it extra spicy)

3 TBS Butter

2 TBS Four

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

2 ½ C milk (whole, 2%, non-fat - it all works in this chowder)

1 can creamed corn

1 can corn nibblets, undrained

1/8 tsp sage

1/8 tsp parsley

1/2 Shredded cheddar cheese (plus more for toppings)


Salt and Pepper to taste


Optional:

1 C frozen, precooked shrimp, trimmed and tails removed



Toppings:

1/2 lb to 1 lb crisp cooked bacon, crumbled

Bread Croutons

Shredded Cheese

Chopped Chives


Directions:

Saute onion, peppers, potatoes, celery salt and red pepper flakes in butter in large pot. Gradually add all other ingredients while stirring. Stir! Bring just to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes (until potatoes are cooked) up to an hour stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. (Or put in crockpot on low setting)

If you wish add frozen shrimp during last 5 minutes of cooking (we've also added ham and it was yummy!).


Add 1/2 C shredded cheese during last minute of cooking - stir.


Serve with toppings - the bacon is fantastic and so is the cheese!!

Italian Zucchini & Tomato Skillet

We love this recipe and when I say "we" I am including my 3 year old nephew, my 7 year old niece and the pickiest vegetable eater of all...Michael. The consensus among those three is that it tastes like pizza. I hope you give it a try and that you like it! Feel free to adjust the seasonings to your own tastes - I think we always end up adding more or less of the things we really like :)

Italian Zucchini and Tomato Skillet
{aka Pizza Veggies}

Ingredients:

Olive Oil (enough to coat the bottom of a skillet)
1 clove minced garlic (I used the pre-minced kind sold in a jar)
2 or 3 medium zucchini, cut in slices and then in half
1 large tomato, or 1 C of cherry tomatoes, cut into half moon circles
1 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs Basil
1 Tbs minced chives
1/2 to 1 Tbs "Jamaican Me Crazy" Sea Salt Seasoning {to taste}

1/2 C {or more!} grated Parmesan cheese


Directions:

1. In large skillet cook zucchini and garlic for 5 minutes in hot olive oil, over medium heat, stirring often - until zucchini is crisp-tender.

2. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, parsley and basil. Cook one minute more.

3. Add chives and Jamaican Me Crazy. Cook one minute more.

3. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top of dish, remove from heat and let cheese melt.



Cinnamon Crackle Chocolate Zucchini Bread


I tried this recipe last month, just before we left for Indy. We had so much zucchini in the garden the only thing to do was try out some new zucchini bread recipes! Luckily for us there was a plethora of delicious recipes in our cookbooks and online. I combined a few and this was the hands-down favorite. On a side note, Michael vetoed the cinnamon from the subsequent batches - he really doesn't like cinnamon. As a cinnamon lover, I thought it was fantastic! The moist bread tasted like chocolate cake {with the hidden benefit of loads of zucchini in it}. The Chocolate chips gave it a little something extra but the crackle topping was the kicker. Michael liked it so much he suggested I whip up a batch as a layer cake and instead of the crackle crust frost it with cream cheese frosting!

If you've got some extra zucchini this summer I hope you give it a try :)

Cinnamon Crackle Chocolate Zucchini Bread
{makes 2 loaves}

2 C flour
6 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon (Optional)


1/2 C canola oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C sour cream
3 C grated zucchini {squeeze out excess liquid - I wrapped grated zucchini in paper towels and squeezed out extra liquid}
1 C chocolate chips {mix chips with 1 tsp of flour to help them not all sink to the bottom during baking}

Crackle Topping:

1 tsp Cinnamon {optional}
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together, use a whisk to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed. In a separate bowl mix up the wet ingredients. While whisking, add dry ingredients to wet and keep whisking until full incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Evenly distribute between baking pans.

In small bowl combine ingredients for crackle topping and sprinkle over the top of each bread mix in pans.

Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool completely on wire rack before removing from pans - or keep it in pans and take some to someone special!



Enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Baseball (and Other) Stuff

Two weekends ago we attended the Bastian Summer Picnic. It was excellent! They had a caterer who whipped up a feast including cheeseburgers and BBQ chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad and yummy desserts. They had multiple bounce houses, about 10 giant ice chests filled with anything you could want to drink, fans to help keep everyone cool and games!
Michael and James (the other newbie) teamed up for the Corn Hole Tournament. Word to the wise, Corn Hole is HUGE in Indiana. Everyone has their own equipment and everyone practices all the time for just such an occasion as a tournament. Anyhoo, Michael and James were pitted against the big boss - Bastian Jr. himself and his lovely wife Nan in the first round. Wouldn't you know that Mikey and James spanked them?! They ended up taking 3rd place.
Last weekend, on a whim (because Mike got out of AutoCAD training early), we hopped in the car and drove to Cincinnati to see the Reds take on the Giants. We had originally decided against going because it is so hot and humid outside all the time here but we couldn't resist the siren's call.
Here is the Great American Ballpark! Below is one of the mosaic murals they have inside the park.
Our seats were amazing! Things are so much cheaper here - we got basically front row seats for what we would have paid for view reserve in SF...
We got to see the Giants up close and personal doing things like the fist bump :)...



The Panda blowing a bubble with his gum...

They were so close I could have reached out and touched them (had I wanted to leave in handcuffs)...

The Giants ended up losing and we were both puddles by the 13th inning but we did get to see the Red's Chapman pitch - he consistently pitches over 100 miles per hour! They call him "The Cuban Missile"! It was outstanding - although way too hot. We are in agreement that baseball in SF is so much more enjoyable to watch.