Our Easter egg hunt yesterday revealed a bunch of bossy, whiny, spoiled babies who would do anything to win. And that was the adults.
The egg hunt is the big Easter tradition at my parents’ house. It started when we were kids with actual colored eggs, but several years ago, my mother, the Egg Hunt Grand Master, switched to plastic eggs she could put clues and prizes in. This is a positive for me, because before, when the point was really just to find as many eggs as possible, my amazonian and ridiculously athletic brother and sister would basically just knock me down and steal my eggs. Now there’s an element of puzzle solving to the whole thing that evens it out a little bit.
This year, the people who competed were: my sister, my brother, my husband, my brother’s girlfriend, my sister’s friend, Jen and her other friend, Scotty and a family friend who used to be my sister’s swim coach, Todd (oh, and me, of course). It was a 12 egg hunt and we had to find them in order. Each egg found was worth between 1 and 3 points to whoever found it first, and then the person with the most points at the end won. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the event because it was really too violent to put on the Internet. The carnage would shock and horrify even the most worldly eyes.
You have to realize that I come from a competitive family. My sister was a world ranked swimmer through high school and college, my brother also swam competitively and if my dad isn’t playing ultimate Frisbee he’s training for his next biathlon. They used to have regular contests at the dinner table about who had the biggest bicep or the most defined calf muscle.
During the hunt, two small children were knocked over, one spa cover strap was broken, a vase of potpourri was decimated and one contestant had his head dunked in the spa while fully clothed. The balcony from my parent’s bedroom survived, but just barely. I think they’re going to have a structural engineer out today to certify it is still sound.
The final result was a tie between Scotty and Todd. That’s right, my highly competitive family didn’t even place. You can imagine the sour grapes. To break the tie, we divided up into support teams based on the college we attended (there’s a strong UA vs. ASU rivalry in the family) to answer trivia questions about, of course, the only state school none of us had attended: NAU. It was an honestly pathetic showing. There were three questions that each team had to answer on paper. The team who answered the most was the winner. The winning number was ONE.
So tell me, do you know the answer to these?
1. What is the school mascot for NAU?
2. What are the school colors for NAU?
3. What is the female to male ratio at NAU?
Anyway, it was a typically raucous and rowdy holiday at my parent’s house. I hope your Easter was just as fun! Oh, and here’s a little fodder for the Grandparents. This was the much less violent, much more tame children’s egg hunt:
If only we could all be so mature.
One of my favorite easy, healthy recipes is Asparagus and Lemon Chicken with Rice. It is all healthy, basic ingredients and literally takes about 25 minutes.
1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, minced
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup white wine
3 cups cooked rice
Cook chicken in skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and red pepper. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minutes. Stir in zest and wine and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Serve over rice.
Jason and I had decided not to do anything huge for the big VDay this year, but I was still determined to have a nice dinner. Monday I planned out a three course menu and shopped for all of the ingredients. Tuesday morning I woke up with a 101 fever and raging case of the ‘Don’t let that food get within 10 feet of my nostrils or I will totally hurl on you’ Flu. It was a date killer because not only could I not eat, I couldn’t prepare the meal without severe injury to the sanitary nature of our kitchen.
And then Jason got the flu too. So we had to reschedule a couple of times and ended up doing the third course on a different night from the first two. But we did eventually eat our gourmet Valentine’s Dinner.
Course one: Baked Brie with Roasted Garlic, Crackers and Apples
I used this same recipe, except I wrapped the Brie in puff pastry before I baked it.
Course two: Soothing Chicken Lettuce Wraps, ala PF Chang’s’
For this course I used a recipe I found online. These were my favorite and I plan to make them again this week for a Project Runway viewing party I’m having. YUM!
Course three: Chocolate Fondue
This one is an old standby at our house. It takes literally 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish. I buy a bag of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips, pour them into a small sauce pan on the stove set to medium low and add a couple of tablespoons of milk and a little bit of Baileys. Stir constantly until it’s all melty and good. Pour the chocolate into a ceramic fondue pot with a candle to keep it warm. Serve with strawberries, angel food cake bites, bananas and green apples (and marshmallows too, if you like).
It’s still early enough in the year that I’m making a conscious effort to stick to my New Year’s resolutions. In the spirit of my ‘cook at least four nights a week’ resolution, last night I tried this new recipe from Martha’s little FOOD magazine. It was easy and we loved it.
1 Pork Tenderloin
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar and set aside. Boil rice, 2 cups of water, a bit of salt and a tablespoon of butter (optional) and then turn to low and cover to simmer for 25 minutes. Cut pork tenderloin into smallish strips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over med high heat. Saute 1/2 of pork and ginger until pork is cooked through. Repeat with 1 more tablespoon oil and rest of pork and ginger. Meanwhile, boil green beans until just underdone. Then saute red bell pepper, green beans and last tablespoon of oil on high until red bell is tender. Add pork, peanuts and soy sauce mixture. Stir together and then serve over rice.
Whew, it was a full weekend and I have tons of stories. First of all, I attended a house warming party for one of my clients, who is also a good friend. Ryan and Amanda sold their old house with me back in October and we bought them a newer, larger house with a much better layout for them. I hadn’t been in it since they had moved all of their stuff into it and done quite a bit of repainting. Even though it was a really nice house to begin with, it was a major transformation. The master bedroom has been a sickly mint green before. I think the new toffee color was an excellent choice:
It was really fun for me to get to see them enjoying their house and to know I was a part of the process. I am so glad that it has turned out to be everything they wanted.
In addition, it was a totally fun party.
There was tons of yummy food. I made stuffed mushrooms that I had been determined to get a picture of, but completely forgot, again. Regardless, here is the quick recipe (I got it from my mother in law and this was the first time I had tried it, but believe me, I will make them again):
8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 jar of Hormel bacon bits
2 tablespoons diced chives
Butter to grease dish
Wash mushrooms and pull out stems to create cavity in center. Place mushrooms in buttered baking dish. Soften cream cheese in microwave. Mix cream cheese, bacon bits and chives. Spoon cream cheese mixture into mushrooms and bake at 350 degree for 15 minutes or until mushrooms are brown.
So over all, it was a great time. My favorite part of this business is being positively involved in people’s lives.
And there were even cute babies at the party! How’s this for a parting shot:
Check back this week for updates on my Willow District open house, a haunted house story and even a new listing or two!
It’s been a wild weekend here at the Newlin house. The quick rundown is:
1. I held a poker party Friday night at our house. We played Texas Holdem with a $10 buy in. It was very fun (except for the fact that I did not win). I meant to take pictures of the food so I could post all of the new recipes I used, but in the chaos of getting everything done on time I forgot. Here’s a quick one, however, that is my new favorite easy cheese appetizer:
Baked Brie with Garlic
Brie (I bought a 2.2 lb one imported from France from Costco)
2 heads of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
2 loaves of long skinny French bread
Slice the top of the heads of garlic off. Drizzle them with olive oil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or so. Remove roasted cloves from the head and mash together in a small dish. Place Brie in a glass pie plate and bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. Serve with sliced French bread. Spread garlic on bread and then cheese.
2. The kids have been sick again, again, again again again. I know it’s just the season, but man do I hope we’re almost through with all of this. Ben had strep throat and Gray had the usual (pink eye and ear infections). I’m feeling a bit like it’s all my fault because last week was the test run for a new day care center we are doing twice a week. I have gotten to the point where I need some time a couple of days a week to get stuff done without the kids. But then of course, they immediately came home with stuff. I swear, parenting is 50% guilt.
3. My sister ran in the PF Chang’s Rock and Roll Marathon and kicked serious tail. It was her first marathon, though she was a world-ranked swimmer in high school and college. She ran 3:41 and ran 10 minutes faster during the second half than the first half (which tends to mean that she went out too slow and could have done the whole thing faster). I’m just amazed at what a natural athlete she is.
Anyway, this week has been crazy with the sick kids, but the antibiotics have kicked in and I’m back in the saddle now!
I tried a new recipe last night from my latest Cooking Light Magazine (somehow, lately I have a subscription to it, even though I don’t remember ordering one… but hey, I’m not complaining!) and we very much enjoyed it. It is ‘healthy’, in theory, though I have to admit that I used an entire egg vs. just the egg white and I used more sauce on top than it actually called for. Plus, I paired it with homemade mashed potatoes with lots of butter, salt and sour cream and a little bit of horseradish. So they may have actually canceled out any of the ‘healthiness’ intended by the meatloaf. Regardless of the nutritional value, this meatloaf tasted good. I tend not to be a huge fan of loaves of meat, but this recipe has a special zing that won me over. (By the way, I also halved the recipe in the magazine and decreased the cooking times a bit. It feeds three or four adults the way I made it.)
Package of ground turkey breast (1.25 lbs)
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/8 heaping cup of regular oats
1/8 heaping cup of dry breadcrumbs
1/8 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 clove of garlic, pressed
Couple of shakes each of parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, basil
1 chipotle chile, diced
1 teaspoon of the adobe sauce from the can of chiles
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon adobe sauce
5 red potatoes
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon ranch dressing
2 tablespoons horseradish sauce (or to taste)
Put red potatoes on to boil. Combine all ingredients for meatloaf in a large bowl and mix with hands. Place in a greased 9 by 5 loaf pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients. After first 20 minutes brush top of the meatloaf with sauce generously. Bake 20 more minutes. Remove potatoes from water when fully cooked (pretty soft). Place them (skins and all) in electric mixer bowl with rest of mashed potatoes ingredients. Mix using paddle attachment on lowest setting until combined (feel free to add more of whatever until the taste/consistency is correct. Mashed potatoes are an art, not a science.). Slice meatloaf and serve with a big scoop of mashed potatoes. It’s down home cooking with a kick!
I received a free cooking magazine in the mail the other day called Cuisine at home. I am always looking for new recipes to try, so I flipped through it a bit. I have to admit, it has some interesting articles about technique and several recipes I plan to try. I might even subscribe.
Anyway, I made one of the recipes in the issue for the family tonight for dinner and it was a big hit.
Southwestern Chicken Panini
2 cups cilantro leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lime, juiced
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobe
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Thickly sliced sourdough bread
Sauteed boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half
Puree cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, salt, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor or blender until it becomes a pesto-like paste. Set aside. Combine mayo, sugar and minced chipotle and set aside. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Slather one of the other sides with the chipotle mayo and one of the other sides with the cilantro pesto. Top with chicken and slices of the pepperjack cheese. We used our George Foreman grill to make the cool panini lines, but a skillet works just as well.
PS – We made this meal kid-friendly by making a version with cheddar cheese and chicken, minus the pesto and mayo. It was like a grilled cheese with chicken and the kids gobbled it up.
I made Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner last night. I had a basic idea of ingredients I wanted to use, so I Googled a few recipes and took an inventory of what else I should use. This is what I came up with (we loved it):
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Bag of romaine lettuce
Small can of mandarin oranges
Package of uncooked wonton squares
Sliced almonds (toasted)
Sliced green onions
Vegetable oil (for frying wontons)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Slice wonton squares into thin strips. Heat vegetable oil on stove on high or in an electric fondue pot on high. Fry wonton strips in oil until brown and crispy. Saute chicken breasts until cooked through. Chop chicken into medium sized pieces. Arrange lettuce on two plates. Top lettuce with chicken, wontons, toasted almonds, green onions and oranges. Put remaining ingredients (soy sauce through sesame seeds) in a container with a lid and shake to mix. Split dressing over two salads. Love it!!
Mmm… I made a pork tenderloin roast in the crock pot today for dinner. It was delicious and took about 15 minutes to prepare in the morning. Simple and tasty (the celery is key), try it!
Pork Tenderloin with Veggies
1.5 cups warm water
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 teaspoons dry sherry
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
0.5 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of cumin
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, quartered
0.5 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
Place pork tenderloin in crock pot. Add celery, carrot, potatoes, onion and bay leaves on top. Mix remaining ingredients (minus the flour) in a large mixing cup. Pour over meat and veggies. Turn crock pot on high for 4 or 5 hours and then low until ready to eat. Remove meat and veggies from crock pot with a slotted spoon. Discard bay leaves. Pour remaining liquid into a sauce pan on medium high. Whisk flour into liquid until it thickens and turns to gravy. Serve meat and veggies with gravy on top.