Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Asian Marinade

Oh beautiful food. One of our favorite marinades is this Asian marinade. It's so yummy and made these ginormous t-bone steaks even yummier. T-bones have a lot of fatty, so inevitably I managed to catch the steaks on fire and they got a little charred ... opps.

Here's our favorite marinade:

1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T sesame oil
2 t. minced garlic
2 t minced ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes

Stir all ingredients together and then let the steak marinade overnight in the fridge. The next day bring the steaks to room temp (they cook the best this way) and then grill according to your own preference. After they've almost finished cooking, let the steaks rest for 10 minutest off the grill. The steaks will redistribute their juices and finish cooking. And then they will be perfect and you will thank me.
When we had these beauties I also made skillet potatoes by cutting 3 potatoes up, and drizzling canola oil and Mrs Dash on them. I then threw them in a skillet on the stove over medium heat until they looked done. It was a fantastic meal.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's in your Pantry?

My pantry is intimidating. An organized mess. Chaotic to the untrained eye (Lance). But to me ... I know were everything is and typically have a good idea of what's inside.

BrownEyed Baker recently posted a series about Baking Pantry/Ingredient basics. Here's the list of things for a "beginning" baker.

In the Refrigerator:
♦ Unsalted butter. If you only have regular, salted butter available, you can use that but omit any salt called for in the recipe.
♦ Whole milk.
♦ Eggs.
♦ Sour cream
♦ Cream cheese

In the Pantry:
♦ Non-stick spray with flour
♦ All-purpose flour. Do not buy self-rising flour.
♦ Cake flour
♦ Granulated (regular white) sugar
♦ Light brown sugar
♦ Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
♦ Baking powder
♦ Baking soda
♦ Table salt
♦ Cocoa powder, unsweetened (a regular can of Hershey’s will work!)
♦ Cornstarch
♦ Cornmeal
♦ Vegetable (or canola) oil
♦ Vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco)
♦ Corn syrup
♦ Honey
♦ Maple syrup (the real deal, not Log Cabin)
♦ Peanut butter
♦ Graham crackers
♦ Vanilla extract
♦ Almond extract
♦ Cream of tartar
♦ Ground cinnamon
♦ Ground ginger
♦ Ground cloves
♦ Ground nutmeg
♦ Chocolate chips
♦ Unsweetened chocolate
♦ Old-fashioned rolled oats
♦ Assorted nuts (walnuts, almonds and pecans are used most often)
♦ Shredded coconut
♦ Raisins and other dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, figs, etc.)
♦ Food coloring (liquid and gel paste) for coloring icing or cookies
♦ Sprinkles, nonpareils, and candies for decorating cookies and cupcakes

I want the world to please note that I own every single item on this list. No joke. My fridge and tiny pantry can prove this.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I know. I don't really have a need for hiking shoes. Lance and I don't hike. There's not a lot of areas near us for hiking. If Lance and I go on vacation, it certainly is not an outdoor-sy type of vacation. I have a friend who went to Yellowstone with her husband this summer and all they did was camp and hike. Um ... not my idea of fun. My idea of fun is looking at her pictures and being thankful that we stay in hotels when we go anywhere.

Okay ... getting back to the point. When Lance and I went to Hawaii this spring, we went kayaking and hiking up to a waterfall. It was beautiful. Hiking shoes or sandals, such as Keens, would have been ideal as we were tromping through mud and wading through streams. But I didn't have blessed Keens at the time, I just had some very muddy Nikes. As a result of the experience, I decided that I needed Keens. Oh, but holy crap are those shoes expensive. But our local store, Active Endeavors, had an end of season sale ... And my lovely Keens were $95 marked down to $45. I couldn't say no. "These will last a lifetime! They're 50% off! They're comfortable and versatile." And this is how I ended up with my first (and last - at least for awhile) pair of Keens.

They're so great. I really don't feel too terrible about getting these.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sundried Tomatoes

One of my fantastic Craigslist finds last fall was a food dehydrator for $15. We dehydrate everything. (Lance gets a little carried away) We have an influx of cherry tomatoes. More than I can possibly imagine ever eating or giving away. There are only so many options when it comes to garden fresh produce. You can either a) eat it b) give it away c) can it d) freeze it e) dehydrate it. Tomatoes do not freeze well. There's too much moisture and it's just a bad idea. I don't can. I don't know how, I don't have the supplies, and I don't have the space. Maybe someday ... my MIL cans, so it is not impossible to think that someday I might learn. So that leaves me with a few remaining options: eat, give away, or dehydrate. We're going with the last option and making our excess tomato supply into sundried tomatoes. We'll rehydrate them and throw them into chili, soups, chicken catcatorie (I know it's spelled wrong) and other things for bonus flavor.

They're kind of pretty in the dried, wrinkled up way.

But they are money and food savers, which is a combo that Lance likes best! I've thought about packing them in oil, but I'm really at a loss for how best to do this. So in the meantime, they'll stay locked in a cool dark cupboard for optimal storage.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Three Question Thursday

I am wickedly sore. We do pilates on Tues and Thurs over lunch at work. And this past week our instructor has made class brutal. My calf muscles ache and sometimes I have a sharp shot of pain that runs through my abs. And my butt hurts just sitting. Good gracious. I am an old lady. You should see my crazy left arm vibrate while trying to do full out side planks. It's quite ridiculous.

Moving on. Three Question Thursday from Iowa Girl Eats

1. Would you rather smell like black licorice or garlic for the rest of your life?
2. Who’s your favorite talk show host between Oprah, Ellen, Tyra and Dr. Phil?
3. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
1. Both are bad options. I guess I would go for black licorice ... at least no one would think I have vampire issues
2. Oprah. But not crying/weepy/abuse Oprah, more the make-over/giveaway/celebrity Oprah. I never watch talk shows. Unless an occasional half episode of Martha counts.
3. I love candy. I love kit kats, twixes, nerds. I love it all. All the time.

It's Grey's Anatomy time!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beautiful garden meal

Something I struggle with every year is how to find a variety of meals from the produce of my garden. Last night I wanted to make lemon pepper chicken, but I needed some accompaniments.
Here's what I had for fresh garden produce:

  • Green beans

  • Green pepper

  • Zucchini

  • Yellow crookneck squash

  • Baby potatoes (from Lance's aunt)

  • Parsley

Additionally, I also had broccoli that I wanted to get used up. I chopped everything up, added some onion for flavor, dropped in a few butter dabs and sprinkled the whole thing with a little garlic and salt/pepper. I wrapped the whole thing in foil and made a lovely little campfire packet.

I did the potatoes in a separate packet because I knew they would have to cook/steam longer on the grill. I scrubbed the potatoes, pricked them with a fork, added some fresh parsley, butter, garlic, and salt/pepper. Lovely aluminum foil :)

And here's the finished product. The veggies were so delish. I left them on the grill for about 25 minutes on low. I really tried not to check them because I didn't want to let the steam escape. Lance hates broccoli, but told me this was the best he had ever had. Ya know, considering it was broccoli and everything. The potatoes got about 40 minutes on the grill and I did flip everything once.

Here's the whole meal plate: grilled lemon pepper chicken, mixed veggies, baby potatoes with parsley and cous cous. It was a beautiful meal that we enjoyed on our deck. We don't have much time left this year to enjoy dinners al fresco.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Shortage

I guess the punk 15 year old at Fareway wasn't lying. There really is a shortage of Libby's canned pumpkin because of a terrible pumpkin blight. And I thought he just didn't want to look in the back for me ... see article

**** I'm not really sure why I lament the loss of pumpkin at this point. I don't really have any specific need for pumpkin at this time. And to boot, because I am an obsessive compulsive stockpile-er, I actually already have a can of Libby's in my pantry. Leftover. From last fall. Because I also have a problem with closure. It appears that I have the inability to finish anything.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Ughh... I have a cold. Colds stink. Do you know why colds stink? Because there is nothing really you can do to make yourself better except rest and wait. And this makes me whiny. Lance has been hanging out with his parents this weekend and I've been left in Central Iowa to my own devices. Typically, I would be loving my alone time, but all I want is someone that I can whine to and who will make me food. Instead, I have Fire and chores to do. And school work that I've been putting off.
The weird thing about me and having a cold is my nose sweats. That's very bizarre.

Here are the things that I'm doing to self-medicate:
  • Drinking orange juice, mulled cider, Gatorade and water. I pee every twenty-two minutes
  • Downing cold medicine with pseudoephedrine - which means a trip to the pharmacist's counter to make sure I'm not making crystal meth in my oven
  • Using Zicam very carefully as it's been pulled from the shelves (at least the nasal kind has been pulled)
  • Rinsing my sinuses with my neti-pot
  • Taking baths
  • Using essential oils to open up my nasal passages
  • Rubbing Vicks on my feet and putting socks on when I sleep (I don't get it, but I figure it can't hurt)

Apart from chicken soup, I think I'm doing everything right. Except you know, being productive.

Trader Joes

I just discovered that St. Paul, MN is home to a Trader Joes - yes!! Lance and I are going up to the Twin Citites with my parents the first weekend of October. Lance and my dad will go to a Twins game and my mom and I will go shopping. In my mind, this is a perfect tradeoff. The last time I went to a Twins game with Lance I brought a book. I don't remember who the Twins played or if they won their game, but I do remember what book I was reading! I'm not a baseball person, I think games should be over in 7 innings. But Trader Joes is definitely worth the trip in my mind. Any thoughts about what I should get?

Friday, September 18, 2009

I love this shirt

This shirt was $36.50 at Ann Taylor Loft. Ridiculous. But last weekend it went on sale for $14.99. Go Kara and go sales at ATL (which, I believe the store must be going through a rebranding and shortening it's name to just "Loft"). I thought about getting it in another color, but I didn't really like any of the other colors. This pink was too rosy and the lavender had too much chalky gray. Not good for my coloring. I really love the floral whimsy of the neckline. It's a great tee. (Note to self: in the future, I think that I would be better off taking pictures of clothes on the hanger or on me ...)

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I hate this time of year

Lance and I have been talking about why I hate this time of year in regards to sports. Lance finally agreed last night he could see why I would be annoyed. I hate this time of year (and I do mean hate) because there are way too many sports seasons going on. Lance follows NASCAR (which will go on until October), Twins baseball (this season also lasts until October), Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings football (just getting started!) and Iowa State Football (let's be honest, our football team doesn't stand a chance this year - but Lance will still follow). TOO MANY SPORTS TEAMS. Every waking moment, Lance is checking scores or watching ESPN for highlights. When we're in the car, Lance has fuzzy AM radio on listening to the Twins game. I cannot escape sports and it's driving me crazy. NASCAR and baseball annoy me to begin with, but combined with football the only thing I want is silence and for Lance to stop filling me in with highlights.
Please make the constant bombardment stop.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three Question Thursday

Here's Three Question Thursday comin at ya straight from

1. How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled eggs give me the willies. I think it's the texture. In fact, most eggs give me the willies. I like them fried hard or hard boiled. But I won't eat the yolk of a hard boiled egg. Or I like them in egg salad or as deviled eggs!

2. Would you rather be stung by a bee in the eyelid or have a giant catfish think your finger is bait and clamp onto your hand? (You can thank Bear Grylls for that question…)
Stung by a bee in the eyelid. I imagine massive swelling, but better than a catfish flapping about and making my hand bleed or fall off.

3. What was last year’s Halloween costume?
Haha. Last year Lance and went to a couple of costume parties where Lance was the hunter and I was a deer. I dressed in brown and had antlers. Lance dressed in hunting gear orange and carried a fake bow and arrow. I wanted something inexpensive and the only things I bought were the antlers and the bow and arrow. I'll need to dig up a photo of that ...

I'm getting excited for season premiere week next week on ABC ... Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters. And now I'm enjoying Glee and I've always loved the SUMMER show of So You Think You Can Dance?. I feel a littl over capacity now that it's on this fall too. Obviously, I watch too much tv. Thank goodness for TiVo otherwise I wouldn't ever see anything.

Here's a great giveaway that you should read about or even participate in!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spicy Tortilla Soup

My tortilla soup looks nothing like the soup in my Food Network magazine. Nothing, but Lancer liked it, so what can I say. My doesn't look as tomatoey or thick. Sigh ... nothing ever looks as good as the magazines...

2 seeded jalapenos minced (with rubber gloves. I just finally got my fingertips to stop burning)
4(ish) tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Saute above ingredients in a dab of olive oil and then puree with 1 cup of chicken broth.
Add 5 more cups of chicken broth to the mix as well as fresh cilantro and cooked/shredded chicken, bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile tear 2 tortillas into strips and make in a 450 degree oven for 8 minutes.

Serve steaming hot with fresh cilantro, avocado, cheese and tortilla strips.
(I also threw in some leftover corn and have been known to add/hide things like summer squash and black beans in soups)
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Irrational Fear

I have irrational fear of getting splashed by toilet water at work. They are automatic toilets that have a pretty powerful suction. I've been splashed ON THE FACE previously and it just grosses me out. Ick.

And that my friends, is my irrational fear.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Am I Making ??

Can anyone guess what I'm making here?

Let me give you one hint ... it will burn your mouth and bring tears to your eyes ... or at least to mine. I suppose that's what will happen when you underestimate the power of those jalapeno peppers (note to self: use gloves when mincing japs. My fingers are still burning and that was hours ago)

Pico de gallo!

Rough recipe here as I didn't really follow one ....

handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 tomatoes diced
1/2 a red onion diced
2-3 jalapenos (not 4 like I so stupidly thought I could handle) minced
salt to taste

And when I couldn't stand the heat of all of it, I mashed up two avocados threw some pico in and called in guacamole. Foolish Kara. And the stuff still burnt my mouth!
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Honey Sunshine Super Spectacular Deal

Price of Cereal Savings:

$2.88 per box of cereal x 5 boxes = $14.40
- $1.50 x 5 coupons= $7.50
- $2.88 coupon =$4.62
-$5 Target gift card = +$.38

I made 38 cents on five boxes of Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal! Go Kara! You too can save money this week at Target for cereal :) I got two coupons from and four in the mail. Good luck!
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Giant Produce

After my bumpy yellow crookneck squash lost to an oversized zucchini in my work State Fair Contest, I asked my mom how in the world people let their produce that big. Easy, she said - you just pick your garden once a week - like me!
This is a cucumber from my mom's garden that was well over a foot long. My exact reaction was "Seriously Mom!? I need to take a picture of that!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labor Day and Art Splash

Labor Day weekend in Sioux City means Art Splash. It's great. It's basically an affordable Des Moines Arts Festival. Yes, I said it, an affordable Des Moines Arts Festival. Because let's be real, prices at the DM Arts Festival are atrociously high. Anyway, getting back to the point, I love Art Splash. I volunteered in the kids area for five years and I love it when we're home for it. My mom and I will usually go with a family friend and all the men folk stay home. I'm not sure what they do. But here are some of the things that get me jazzed about Art Splash ...

1. Kettle Korn. It's still hot and so fresh.

2. Sand sculptures. These girls pictured here are actually students at my old high school.

3. Kids activities like making balloons into impossible animals.

4. Bouncing in a harness (well, maybe if I was 10 again)

5. The art and shopping. Oh the shopping ...

Here was my first lust of the day. I really like this oak console table. In fact, I've liked this booth and this table for the past two years. But $250 would make Lance cringe. But it's so pretty!

I liked these button magnets. I can make these myself. And besides, hers were waaay overpriced.

I thought this stained glass art piece would be great in my garden. But not for $398.

I really love well done photography. Lance thinks that sunflowers are a noxious weed. Boo Lance. These were all taken in Nebraska in some small town. What a sight to see all of those beauties!

These are some water droplet photos taken my John Gapps - he's located in Winterset, IA. I like these too, but $125 is still a little pricey ...

I really do like glass and large bubbles. This would be so cool in my garden. But my garden is anything but decorative. In fact right now, it's full of squash dying of stem rot and weeds. Sounds picturesque, right?

I like birdhouses. But the tree we planted 2 springs ago would not support this fun pottery.

Or this sconce is cute! But I really do think the main appeal is the fresh flowers. I don't know what else I would have put in it.

Glass pendants are always pretty, but they aren't really me. Yes, I do have a couple, but my favorite things have pearls and charms and other pretty girlie baubles.

So, the only thing I walked away with this year were these earrings! But I love them, I loved battered silver, these were simple and airy and basically the perfect additional to my wardrobe (and the most affordable).

If you are ever in the Sioux City area during Labor Day, head on down to the river and the Anderson Dance Pavilion and check out Art Splash! Maybe next year I'll buy that console table I've always wanted. But then again, I would also need the matching end tables too ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All this for $7.42

Fareway, my local grocery store, ran 9/9/09 specials on Wednesday. Look at all the great stuff I got for $7.42!

In reality, this is about enough pop to last us through the end of 2009. But each of those six packs were 99 cents each! Crazy cheapness.

Fareway discounts their aging produce and in this instance, I snagged one heck of a deal. I priced these same Dole Caesar salad mixes at Hy-Vee earlier in the week for $2.99 each - yikes! If I'm running late in the morning I'll grab a bag of salad and head out the door with a complete lunch. I got two bags of salad mix for less that one bag at Hy-Vee. Sounds like a deal to me.

My co-workers had a little celebration for 9/9/09 at 9:09 am on Wed morning. Unfortunately, I was right in the middle of taking my property and casualty license exams and couldn't celebrate with them. Fortunately though, I passed with flying colors and will not have to worry about taking those exams ever again. Unfortunately, I work in insurance so this stuff is going to follow me around. But meet me for the first time as a licensed property and casualty (not that you would want me to sell you insurance or give you advice, I'll leave that to the professionals)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homemade Chai Tea

I've been doing a lot of studying recently at coffee shops for my insurance exam. I'm not sure of this, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that chai team has much caffeine. I have problems sleeping at night if I have caffeine after 4:30 pm so I've been indulging on chai tea lattes. Yummie! Here's a recipe that I found today for homemade chai tea, hopefully it will taste as good as S'Bucks.

Starbucks Chai Tea Recipe
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6-8 black tea bags
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 c milk
1/2 c honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
3 c water
1/2 tsp ground ginger (or a mashed, small chunk of fresh ginger)

Step #1 Bring water & milk to a boil
Step #2 Add other ingredients; return to boil
Step #3 Turn off
Step #4 heat & let steep for 3-5 mins
Step #5 Remove tea bags then filter through fine strainer
Step #6 Good hot or cold, this can be stored in the refrigerator for later use.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Get $10 back when you spend $75 at Jordan Creek TownCenter

Get $10 back when you spend $75 at participating GGP malls

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1. Come to Jordan Creek Town Center on September 17 - 20
2. Shop the great deals from our participating stores
3. Bring your mall receipts totaling $75 or more
4. Get your $10 mall gift card

Sounds like a reason to shop to me!

25 Things to Celebrate in September

I haven't had the best of mornings, but I wanted to post something on more of a chipper note. Look at all the fun things you can do to celebrate during this month! Now that it's September I start dreaming of things like roasted squash and football games. In reality, those things are more October than September. Typically September will be rather indian-summerish. But today is Cherry Popover Day - yippie! If you are anything like me, you don't really like real cherries. Just candy that is artificially flavored :) I'm such a healthy person. I'm looking forward to White Chocolate Day - I think I'll celebrate it with a White Chocolate Mocha.

1. National Biscuit Month.
2. National Honey Month.
3. National Papaya Month.
4. National Potato Month.
5. National Waffle Week.
6. Cherry Popover Day (Sept 1st).
7. Macadamia Nut Day (Sept 4th).
8. Cheese Pizza Day (Sept 5th).
9. Coffee Ice Cream Day (Sept 6th).
10. Date Nut Bread Day (Sept 8th).
11. Hot Cross Bun Day (Sept 11th).
12. Peanut Day (Sept 13th).
13. Cream Filled Donut Day (Sept 14th).
14. Linguine Day (Sept 15th).
15. Guacamole Day (Sept 16th).
16. Apple Dumpling Day (Sept 17th).
17. Cheeseburger Day (Sept 18th).
18. Butterscotch Pudding Day (Sept 19th).
19. Pecan Cookie Day (Sept 21st).
20. Ice Cream Cone Day (Sept 22nd).
21. White Chocolate Day (Sept 23rd).
22. Cherries Jubilee Day (Sept 24th).
23. Pancake Day (Sept 26th).
24. Strawberry Cream Pie Day (Sept 28th).
25. Coffee Day (Sept 29th).