Friday, April 29, 2011

Grilled PB&J - The Perfect Marriage?

When I was little, I never liked PB&J sandwiches.  But I Loved grilled cheese sandwiches.  The warm, gooey cheese and crispy, buttery bread - for me, it's one of the ultimate comfort foods.  I remember making a grilled cheese sandwich almost every day after coming home from school, before going to swim practice.  I

It was only a few years ago that I started eating peanut butter and discovered the yummy simplicity of a good PB&J.  I don't eat them often, but when in a pinch for lunch or a quick snack, they work perfectly.

So when I saw this post in Everyday Occasions, I thought it was the perfect marriage of two great things.  I would have never thought of grilling a PB&J sandwich.  I mean the idea is so simple but so great!

I had to give it a try today when I came home for lunch to find our fridge nearly empty.  But one of the best things about this sandwich is that there are only 4 ingredients - bread, butter, peanut butter, and jelly.

And I have to say, the grilled version is waaay better!   The heat makes the peanut butter and jelly melt together deliciously.  I think this may become a new staple for my Friday lunches!

Fill In The Blank Friday

Associated Press
1.   I am looking forward to      watching the Royal Wedding.  Cheesy, I know, but I love weddings and this is like the Wedding of All Weddings!  I remember how nervous and excited I was before my wedding so I can only imagine what Miss Middleton is feeling!

2.  Something kind of embarassing that I still love anyway is    um, see above!

3.  My favorite car is     I loved my old Jetta, and hopefully am going to love my new Prius.  I've always loved the little VW Golf too.

4.  If I could pick one type of weather to live with for the rest of my life it would be    the weather I live in - Southern California!  Except for this past year, it's usually sunny, mid 70's, cool breeze near the shore.  Perfect.

5.  My favorite thing to do after a bad/stressful day is     Pour myself a glass of wine, grab a gossip magazine, and fill the bathtub with hot water and tons of bubble bath.  I do this almost once a week.  Otherwise I usually come home and immediately put on my comfy pjs.

6.  This weekend     I will be spending indoors taking a continuing education class on shoulders.  Exciting, I know.  I'm kinda bummed to be spending one of the first sunny weekends indoors, but I guess there will be plenty more sunny days to come!

7.  If I were a color, I'd be       green      because,       it's one of my favorite colors, I have green eyes, and I just bought a "green" car!

I'll leave you with a pic of Cheeto enjoying the Friday sunshine.  His eyes are green too!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cooking With Martha - Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Since we just put a hefty down payment on a new car, I'm trying to be budget conscious the next few weeks until our next paycheck replenishes our checking account.  This recipe from the Martha Stewart website definitely fit the bill with a whopping 7 ingredients.  We served it up with a side of steamed artichokes from my dad's garden.

I was afraid the chicken would be too spicy for me, but it was actually pretty mild.  And the avocado salsa was a cool and creamy touch.  Next time I'd probably use half an onion and maybe 2 avocados, but otherwise I'd keep everything the same.

I Looove avocados!

 It's really hard to hold a squeezer in one hand and a camera  in the other!

In all it was a tasty dinner ready in about 30 minutes (okay well actually 45 but that's because of the artichokes).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Tostadas


I am by no means a vegetarian but I like the idea of Meatless Mondays.  Especially after gorging myself on an Easter buffet this weekend.  A week or so ago, I saw this recipe for Black Bean Tostadas on the Dana Treat site.  It looked tasty, budget friendly, and simple to put together.  I was able to run to the store at 3:30 this afternoon and have everything prepped and ready to cook in under an hour. 

The hubs and I rated this recipe as a keeper, though I think I would change a few things up.  It ended up making not nearly as much beans as I thought it would, and way too much cabbage slaw.  I'd probably double bean recipe, halve (or even quarter) the slaw recipe, and use more of the avocado salsa cruda (which I actually entirely forgot to make).

We paired it with a side of (boxed) Spanish rice.  It filled us up and there was enough left over for my lunch tomorrow.  Always a bonus when you're on a budget!

Cheeto thought it looked pretty delicious too!

A Different Kind of Easter Egg

The Easter Bunny came early to my house on Friday when I got my egg-ish looking, brand spankin' new Prius.  I've been on the market for a new car since my old Jetta, with 125,000 miles, was up for a smog test which I knew it wouldn't pass this year.  I loved that car and shed a silent tear as we left it at the dealership Friday, but what I'm gonna love even more is being able to drive more than 5 miles without worrying if I'll make it home again.  Also, the 45 mpg I got over the past 2 days doesn't hurt either!  As much as they used to annoy me, I'm now loving my new Prius!

Anything exciting happen to you this weekend?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

It's a beautiful, sunny (but cold) day here in Santa Monica.  I only wish it were a bit warmer so I could lay out by the pool.  But I am looking forward to heading over to my parents' house this weekend for Easter.  My sister and I (both in our 30's) still color Easter eggs every year.  So fun!

It's another Friday  and another Fill In The Blank from Lauren.  Enjoy!

1.   Fridays are  what I look forward to all week!  I only work a 1/2 day on Fridays so I'm off at noon.  I spend the rest of the afternoon shopping, running errands, going to the beach, lying on the couch....whatever I want.  It's such a great way to start my weekend!

Baking,making and eating delicious desserts  make me terribly happy.

3.  Something that inspires me is     my husband.  He's always in a good mood, he doesn't let stuff get to him and tries to be positive.  He reminds me to lighten up and think positively.

4.  If I had the day off today I would    go wine tasting in Santa Barbara!

5.  If I had to put a label on my home decor style, I would say my style is   a mix of "Trying to make old college furniture look new" and "clean and simple, but warm."  I cannot wait to get new couches without stains on them and don't sag in the middle.  But we have a bigger purchase (a car) to make first.

6.  Concerning politics I would say I'm   a bit apathetic and sick of the name calling, pettiness that has taken over lately.  I don't totally lean one way or the other, and definitely need to educate myself more on some issues.  I am NOT looking forward to campaign season starting again - I hate be bombarded with commercials and signs everywhere.

7.  I'd like to go to       school      so I could     take a photography class and take better pictures!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday morning.  
I had eggs. 
I had bread.  
I had an idea to make Eggs in a Basket.  
So I looked up this recipe on The Pioneer Woman site 
and in about 5 minutes had breakfast ready. 

Here's how it went:

Cut a hole in the middle of your bread
I used a heart shape cookie cutter since it was our 6 month anniversary

Melt some butter in a pan
Toss the bread in 
(I also buttered the bread in hopes it would brown up nicely
...and because I love butter!)
Pour the egg in the middle
Season with salt & pepper
Let it cook a minute or so until it sets up

Carefully flip it over and cook another couple minutes
This was a little tricky to not splatter the egg all over the place
Season with more salt & pepper
Cook until the yolk is still soft but not totally jiggly
The egg below is overcooked, with a hard yolk. 
But still tasty.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

1.   My favorite daily responsibility is, I dont really like any "daily responsibility" or anything I feel like I HAVE to do.  I guess I enjoy cooking dinner, though I'd enjoy it a lot more if I didn't have to work all day, then come home and cook!

2.  My least favorite daily responsibility is,   folding laundry or washing dishes

3.  My favorite cuisine to eat when going out is    I tend to eat a lot of fish when we're out.  I think maybe this is because I don't know how to cook really great fish at home.  And it makes me feel like I'm being healthy, though it's probably covered in butter or oil!

4.  My favorite cuisine to prepare at home is     Dessert!  I love baking (hence my blog) and would do it daily if I had a large crowd of people to shove cookies and cakes at!

5.  Andy Warhol said that everyone is famous for 15 minutes. My claim to fame is    umm, maybe when I was like 5 years old and had my picture in the paper for riding a tricycle through a little fake town at the mall.  I think was stopped by the "cops" for speeding.

6.  If I could have 3 wishes I would wish      to pay off my student loans, buy a house, and to start some kind of baking/cooking business.

7.  My biggest pet peeve is    I have so many!  I hate when people where sunglasses indoors. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Black and Blue

One of my favorite easy meals to make is a steak salad.  It combines two things I love - marinated steak and a big, colorful salad.  Throw on some blue cheese crumbles and you have a Black and Blue Salad!  All you have to do is whip up the marinade, add the steak, and toss in the fridge overnight.  The next day, chop up a salad, grill the steak, and you're done.  So easy and so yummy!

Steak Salad
 - From Orange County Fare by the Junior League of Orange County

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon dry mustard, or 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, whisking to mix well.  Pour into a large ziploc bag along with the steak.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready, take the steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  Preheat your grill or broiler.  I use our broiler and cook about 5-6 minutes on each side for medium rare.

When the steak is done put it on a cutting board and cover with foil.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes.  This allows the steak to reabsorb its juices.  Slicing into it right away will allow those juices to escape and you will lose a lot of the flavor.

All covered up!

When ready slice the steak into thin slices across the grain.  Serve on top of a large salad with crumbled feta or blue cheese.  You can also serve with a side of warm crusty bread.  Dee-lish-ous!

Maybe too rare for some, but perfect for me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently someone mentioned to me that during the holidays they prefer to give friends frozen cookie dough rolled into balls so they can make them whenever they want.  I had never thought of doing this before and it sounded like such a great idea to me.   With frozen cookie dough balls, you could make as many cookies as you want, whenever you want.  Got a hankering for just one cookie after dinner?  Just pop one in the oven, or better yet, the toaster oven, and 10-12 minutes later - Wah Lah!  Warm cookie!

Want to know how to do it?  It's super easy and only requires a few more steps than making regular cookies.

First, make your cookie dough.  Then use heaping teaspoons of dough to roll into a ball.  Fill a cookie pan or 13"x9" pan with the dough balls, making sure that they don't touch each other or the sides of the pan.

Stick the pan in the freezer until the balls are frozen.  Make sure there's enough room for the pan to lie flat so the balls don't roll around.  Meanwhile, label a large ziploc freezer bag with the name of the cookie, date, and baking instructions.  When the dough is frozen, put the balls into the ziploc bag and seal tight.  Try to get as much air out of the bag as possible.

When you want to make the cookies, just add a couple minutes to the baking time.  Then enjoy your nice, warm, gooey cookies!

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
  - from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook, 1996

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup stick butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 cups quick cooking or old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips

1.  Heat oven to 375
2.  Mix all ingredients except the last 3 in a large bowl.  Stir in oats, flour, and raisins (or nuts or chocolate)
3.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
4.  Bake 9-11 minutes until light brown.  Remove immediately to cool on wire rack.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend Recap

We did this...

And rode this...

And this...

I made these for breakfast...

And this for dinner...

I made these...

For this (Karen's baby shower!)...

How was your weekend?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Five Things....

Five new recipes I want to try...
  1. Cinnamon Leaves Bread  at Shop.Cook.Make

  2. Individual Chicken Pot Pies at The Kitchn

  3. Pie in a Jar at Our Best Bites

  4. No Knead Peasant Style Bread at A Chow Life

  5. Croque Madame at Everyday Occasions

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

I'm a little late getting in on this action today, but better late than never.  It was the 2nd beautiful day here in LA and the hubs got out of work early.  So we took advantage of the sun and rode our bikes up to the Santa Monica pier, rode a few rides, ate some ice cream, and rode back home.  A great way to spend a Friday afternoon!

Starting off with margs at Baja Cantina

Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier

The view from our gondola
1.   The best prank I ever pulled was  never.  I'm not much of a prankster - I think I'm just not creative enough.

2.  The best prank ever pulled on me was  when I was little my sister gave me a glass of "lemonade" but it was really pickle juice.  Yuck.

3.  A day without  good food   is a day wasted.

4.  The most important things in life are  giving and receiving love - from friends, family, pets, random strangers, whoever  - being happy with who you are, finding something you love doing whether it's your job or a hobby, a comfortable bed, and ice cream!

5.  I dream of   owning a nice home, having a family, taking charge of my career and making it into something I'm happy with.

 I dread  getting up for work every morning, getting my cavities filled, having to buy a new car.

7.  A discovery I made this week was  this new recipe for Breakfast Buttercups I'm gonna try making tomorrow morning.

My weekend will consist of baking cupcakes, going to a baby shower, and possibly test driving some cars.  What are you up to this weekend?  Hope it's a great one!