Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Debate

Lance made chocolate chip cookies the other night for a work function. His recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. My recipe calls for the whole bag of chocolate chips. Lance thinks that the whole bag is just being excessive. In my opinion, his cookies are woefully lacking of chocolate. I mean, no one eats chocolate chip cookies because they don't want chocolate - otherwise they would just be cookies, right? At any rate, I'm pretty sure that dumping 12 oz of chocolate chips is not excessive. Especially when most of his chocolate chip cookies had 3-4 chocolate chips in them. That's just sad.

But what is your opinion? How many chocolate chips do you put in your recipe?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Food Obsession

My food obsession crosses over into being obsessed with pictures of it too. Here are some food photos from Pikes Market. Food was too vibrant, exotic, and luscious not to photograph.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A couple of snaps

I think that in this picture Lance is still feeling a little under the weather.

Joel doesn't seem to want to take a normal picture.

In this picture it seems like Willa-Will is a little tired of getting her photo taken. This is probably 8 pictures in :(

Seattle Day 1

Seattle Day 1

Lance and I were blessed to stay with Joel and Stacy and their fabulous daughter, Willa, in Seattle. On our first day we took the ferry out to Bainbridge Island. I got a coffee and proceeded to have my full Seattle experience. Lance then proceeded to vomit in a park. No lie. Apparently 4 people in our small group all got a stomach bug. Not good. But Lance managed to bounce back in the time span of a day and not ruin the entire trip. Here is a few pictures of our first day in Seattle.

This picture encompasses everyone quite well. Lance looks nauseated, Joel is smiley and zippy and Stacy looks like she's protecting Willa from the paparazzi (aka me!)

Joel is goofy.

The only picture of Stacy and I during our trip. Sad!

Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle skyline.
Bainbridge Island.
More Bainbridge Island.

Church steeple on BainIsland

Troll under the bridge. Stacy drove in a circle for a full 15 minutes, but we did find it!
By that time we took Lance back to the house to let Lance sleep it off. I woke him at 10 pm to convince him that food is a good thing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Leavin' on a jet plane

Leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again ... leavin' on a jet plane ...
Yeah, I don't any more words to that song. In typical Kara fashion, I learn one verse and sing it over and over until Lance tells me I'm being annoying. Whatever, I'm lovable in a somewhat irritating, only-child, learned how to entertain myself by singing incessantly sort of way. My parents think I'm precious :)

Anyway, we leave tonight for Seattle for 2 days and then to Portland for 1.5 days and then to Spokane for 3 days. I'm excited for this trip. I'm excited to eat, shop, hike and use my camera. My friends at Franczyk Photography gave me a down and dirty lesson last night on aperture, f-stop, shutter speed, white balance, and using the light meter. Good stuff.

We don't have specific plans, just a general idea of some things we'd like to see/do and a place to stay. For example, I want to go to the Jcrew Factory outlet in Seattle. And eat clam chowder. And get a Jamba Juice. I've been told that a trip to Powell's Bookstore in Portland is a must. As well as eating at a food cart. I've been recommended to pay a visit to the garbage eating goat in Spokane. All good things to do on a trip.

Traveling is a little bit stressful for this girl who has troubles limiting the number shirts she's packed versus being prepared for EVERY POSSIBLE TRAVEL SCENARIO. And then there is my fear of being hungry. I have a costco bag of trail mix sitting on my counter. It weighs 4 lbs. I also have a fear of being bored. To remedy this, I have packed three books, one magazine, travel Scrabble, my iPod and my computer. At this point I have plenty to do- I also have a 500 word essay to write and two speeches prior to Wednesday. But I have plane and airport time ... no sweat for this procrastin-ista! I guess my philosophy has always been "Be over prepared. Even if you are two pounds shy of being over the baggage limit."

I may try and check in periodically, but for the most part sionara blog world!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

World's Ugliest Pie

Yes, I'm reserving that title for myself and my pie. That's probably what I get for making my own substitutions in this recipe. I know what you are thinking, "Kara you are being overly dramatic. Your pie isn't that bad." And to some extent, I'd have to agree with you, but this particular pie must be both tasty and visually appealing. Because this pie is a cooking club pie. Meaning once a month, other people with a similar love for cooking will be bringing items following that month's theme. It's quite impossible to show up to cooking club with an ugly pie. Which is why I made fruit salsa in addition to my ugly pie. But that's a post for another day :) Today's post is reserved for ugly pies. So without further adieu, the recipe for an ugly pie.
Lemon-Raspberry Pie (mine was a lemon strawberry pie - strawberries were on sale)

1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice
2 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 tablespoon milk
3 cups fresh raspberries, or frozen (thawed) raspberries without syrup, dried on paper towels
Mint sprigs, if desired

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate--except press pecans in bottom of crust. Generously prick crust with fork. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, mix granulated sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, butter and egg yolk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Pour into cooled baked shell. Refrigerate 1 hour.
3. In small bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon extract on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in whipped topping until well blended. Beat in milk until topping mixture is smooth and spreading consistency. Spread thin layer of topping around edge of crust over cooled filling.
4. Reserve 8 whole raspberries for garnish. Arrange remaining raspberries over top of filling. Spoon and gently spread remaining topping over raspberries. Garnish with mint sprigs and reserved raspberries. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.
If you click on the link, the photo features a lovely pie. So if you make this pie and it looks like the picture - email me. I need proof that this recipe is doable for future attempts :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Trader Joe's Coming To WDM

Multiple exclamations points because TJ is opening a location in West Des Moines later this year!!!! Super duper news for this TJ aficinado! Click the link for the full story!

It's Official, Trader Joe's Coming To WDM - Project Economy News Story - KCCI Des Moines

Power to the People - HyVee Grocery Shopping

Lance says that I'm embarrassing. I maintain that I am not embarrassing, I am just right. Obviously it's not my fault that you are wrong and I have to tell you about it!
Case in point.
At the Hy-Vee on the corner of Jordan Creek and University, (I'm not sure if this is the policy at all stores, but I had an economics professor say the same thing to me in Sioux City) if the item you are purchasing rings up incorrectly, you should receive the item free of charge.

I purchased Stacy's Cinnamon and Sugar Pita Chips a couple of different times for my fruit salsa. There is a ticket on the display that says "Price Decline - was $2.99, now $2.50!" At the time I did a price comparison between the Hy-Vee brand and the Stacy's name brand. The Stacy's version had 2oz more so it was actually a better price to go with name brand. This was the first time. I purchased it with all the fruit for my fruit salsa, so I didn't notice they rang up wrong.

The second time I purchased pita chips they were the only thing I bought and I noticed when they rang up incorrectly. So while the clerk was waiting for the other clerk to do a price check, she told me that if the price rings up wrong, I get the item for free! And I was right, so I got my pita chips for zero.

Fast forward. Once again I'm in line to buy pita chips and a few other items. They ring up again wrong. I pointed it out to the clerk, he proceeds to deduct 50 cents from my bill. I then proceeded to him that no, I don't want them for $2.50, I want them for free. Because I know if they ring up at the wrong price, I get the item for free. Well I know I'm right, but apparently Lance found this to be embarrassing. And the clerk was obviously ticked off at me because he marched back to the isle where they were located, checked the price, and saw that I was right and gave them to me for free - all without saying another word to me. I think I angered the poor clerk, but I was right!

So lesson to everyone, pay attention to the prices that ring up at the register. You are entitled to the item for free if it rings up wrong - and don't be afraid to say something, even if your husband finds you to be embarrassing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chicken Marsala = heaven

This was really good, despite some self-inflicted Lance obstacles. They are humorous, so I'll share, much to Lance's chagrin :)

The funny thing about all of this is that I only asked Lance to start the chicken while I went grocery shopping. I didn't think that he would go beyond the chicken flattening and flouring. But he had done much of the cooking by the time I got home, much to my surprise. I was surprised namely due to the fact that the recipe is a little more "involved" that I would typically assign to my dear husband :)

The recipe calls for 2 cups of mushrooms. I had purchased mushrooms much too early and they were starting to turn slimy. By the time Lance picked through the suitable ones, he had about 1/4 of a cup left. Not exactly 2 cups worth. But what struck me as funny is the fact that Lance knew I was at the grocery store - grocery shopping. He could have called me to pick up some more mushrooms. Needless to say, our Chicken Marsala was woefully short of mushrooms.

Lance didn't know was shallots are. He was under the impression that the white part of a green onion was called the shallot. Lo and behold, shallots are an actual ingredient! Luckily for Lance shallots are a cross between garlic and onion. No major harm there.

Despite a few problems, this dish was so good (I think it was probably the bacon!) I plan on making it again some Saturday - with all of the ingredients!

Laura’s Chicken Marsala
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
kosher salt
ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 cups white or cremini mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine (sweet)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, juiced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place large heatproof dinner plate on oven rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Meanwhile, pound the chicken breasts to a 1/2 inch thickness in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pat chicken breasts dry. Place flour in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Working one piece at a time, coat both sides of chicken breasts with flour. Shake to remove excess flour, and set aside.

Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot (you can hold your hand 2 inches above pan surface for 3 to 4 seconds), about 3 minutes. Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven to keep warm.

Return skillet to low heat and add bacon; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until bacon is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and saute for 1 minute. Add tomato paste, and cook until paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add marsala and chicken stock, and increase heat to high. Scrape browned bits from pan bottom, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken in the oven; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Return chicken breasts to pan and simmer in sauce for a few minutes.

Great served with pasta and a green salad or veggie.