Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gutsy Cooks menu 25

The whole family loves Chinese food.  A favorite place to eat lately is the local Chinese Buffet, everyone eats their fill and there is a fortune cookie at the end.  But, Jim and I have realized that it's just too expensive to take our brood out to eat anymore.  I can sometimes talk him into some fast food when we're out shopping, but other than that, there is an embargo on restaurant eating around here.  So I was very excited to see this weeks menu.  Appetizer: Sesame Shrimp Toasts (pg. 50); Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken (pg. 303); and Thai Noodle Stir-Fry (pg. 200).  I knew that it would be a crowed pleaser!
When I showed the menu to Jim, he made the worst face when I showed him the Shrimp toasts, so I didn't make them.  I look forward to reading some of the other gutsy blogs to see if it was good.  It may show up on our table another time.
I don't usually have very good luck with Chinese food, so I'm always looking for new recipes. 
I usually have poor luck with batter dipped anything.  But I really liked this batter.  It used beer and I don't know if that was the key or what, but I will use this recipe again when I need to batter-dip and fry something.

Someone recently told me that the key to good Chinese is Asian fish sauce.  As is the case for most good things, my local Wal Mart doesn't carry that, so I didn't get to use it in my noodles.  But I'll keep my eyes open and pick it up next time I'm in a bigger store.
My local Wal Mart, also, did not have cellophane noodles, so I just used some angel hair pasta I had.  It worked out alright.  This recipe made quite a bit, as you can see it filled up my wok.   I did make more pasta than the recipe called for because noodles are usually a big hit around here.  These were no exception.

I thought both recipes were alright.  Not too exciting, though.  They were not at all rejected by the family.  I will for sure make the sweet and sour chicken again.  Perhaps more sauce next time.

Life finished hers and is eating off her dad's plate.

Gutsy menu 24... most of it

Our menu for week 24 was Ficelles (pg.79); Irish Stew (pg. 342); and French Apple Tart (pg. 454).  Once again, a new food for our family.  I've never had or made Irish Stew so it was a culinary adventure for us.  Mostly, the fam are not big fans of potatoes, so I didn't plan on it going over really well.  It was well received by those who like or tolerate potatoes and was not gagged on by the picky-set.  So, not a flop by any means.  I thought it was yummy and would totally eat it again.  Although I will say, that I wish that I had dipped the meat into a flour mixture before making this.  It was pretty soupy and not really stewy.  But the flavor was good.
Once again, we made the stew in the oven.  I love this method.
The Ficelles.  This bread was so easy and so awesome.  It had a salt water wash on the top which I thought might be weird, but ended up being very tasty.  It was a big hit at our house. 

Not much beats a bowl of stew and warm fresh bread!
I bought all the stuff to make the apple tart, but never got around to it.  We love apples here so one of these days, I'll bust out this new recipe and give it a try.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just wasting some time

I have 2 Gutsy Cooks meals to blog about, but I'm just not in the mood to do it.  Maybe because my belly is still full from the most recent.  Or maybe because the dishes are still on the table.  (They don't seem to be clearing themselves.  Strange.)  But, I'm trying to be better about blogging, so I thought that instead of food, I would share a cute picture of Life with you.
In my opinion, there are very few things cuter than a little girl wearing a dress and barn boots.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our newest toy

Jim and I love second hand stores.  We love to save a dollar and we love random things.  It's really a win win.  And the best part is that it's something we like to do together.  Where we live now, there are mostly Goodwill stores.   The great part about Goodwill is that the money they make from the store goes into job training programs.  So we also like to take our gently used items and donate them.  So really, we clean out our closets, donate the items, go shopping and fill our closets.  It's a cycle that we enjoy.  Anyway, on a recient trip to the Goodwill we found this:
It's a go cart!

Asked taking it for a spin.

Joy was the speedy one. 

Asked and the neighbor's grandson.  They were actually pushing Joy right before this because the battery was almost dead.

Treasure taking a leisurely jaunt.

Life absolutely LOVES to ride on it.  The battery was just about dead and Jim helped her take it for a spin.  She was glowing she was so happy.  I'm afraid that she will be my daredevil.  Only time will tell.

Today I came home from work to find all the kids outside sweeping the road, so they could drive it.  It has such low ground clearance that it gets can get stuck pretty easily.  So they were getting rid of any debris so they would get in a good ride.   What must the neighbors think?  I will tell them that my house is SO very spotless, that I just had to get the road tidied up.  Unless they come over, they will never know the truth.

Gutsy menu 23... kind of

I was so very excited to try this weeks Gutsy Menu (English Muffins pg. 76 and Eggs Benedict pg. 138.)  I tried my hand at Holindase sauce early on in my Gutsy Cooking and was really impressed with the result.  I had never liked it before I made my own.  I was also excited to make English Muffins since I had never made them before.  
I got home from work all geared up and ready to cook.  But then... my family said "What's for dinner?"   And I excitedly responded "Eggs Benedict!"  They all groaned.  Even Jim.  Oh dear.  If he's not on board I know that I'll never get the kids to even try it.  I was so devastated.  
So I tried to make the best of the bad situation, I made the English Muffins and then browned some sausage and scrambled some eggs.  Egg McMuffins!  HUGE SUCCESS!  So, no hollandaise sauce, but happy family.  So I guess it was a good meal in the end.
I have never made English muffins before, or even thought about how they were made.  Instead of baking them you make them in a frying pan!
Balls of dough in the frying pan.

All risen and ready to flip.

Flipped and browning on the other side!  GENIUS!
These were SO yummy.  The kids all devoured them.  Definitely a new favorite in our house.  They were more dense then the store bought ones and mine weren't very porous, but I think if I did it again, I would let them rise more before cooking them.  
Not pretty, but very happy, egg and sausage muffin sammy. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Encouragement from Dr. Seuss

Our homeschool has been very lackluster lately.  I'm not a good teacher and the kids are not excited students.  It happens.  I know.  Until yesterday I felt just hopeless about the whole situation.  The passion was gone.  We're in our 5th year and I just felt... eh.  Just... eh.

We follow a curriculum, My Father's World.  I really really like it.  This year we're working on  Exploring Countries and Cultures.  I think it's a great program, but the kids don't really like it so it's been a struggle to get though.  And if I'm being completely honest, we started it last year and only made it through week 3 and I think we've just finished week 8 this year.  That brings about more of an UGH than an eh, I suppose.

Yesterday I decided to have a Dr. Seuss day in celebration of his birthday.  We read a biography, several books and I printed a few worksheets

But then a beautiful thing happened.  All the big kids started READING... on their own.  Asked never ever wants to read, but he picked up this book voluntarily and made a good effort.  
Both Treasure and Joy picked up books and read as well. It was so very wonderful to see and it reminded me why homeschooling is so great.

Then, to make the day even better, the weather was super beautiful.  I hung out the first laundry of the year and the kids all played outside for a long time.
AND the flowers are coming into bloom.  I bet tomorrow I'll see some daffodils! 
Then, to bring the great day to a close, we had a Dr. Seuss inspired dinner.
Asked helping to make the green eggs.

We had both 'dippy' and scrambled eggs.  Joy noted that the scrambled eggs looked very 'Grinchy' in color.
Green eggs, ham and Cat in the Hat biscuits.  I added cantaloupe just so we would have a fruit, Treasure thought that they kind of looked like some of the houses Dr. Seuss created.  I was glad that it all came together.
I won't say that I have a renewed passion, but, I don't feel hopeless about our homeschool anymore.  Joy and Asked both were excited to read again today and that makes me happy.   Maybe, just maybe, they'll all graduate after all. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Well.  I have been a blogging slacker lately.  Just not feeling very motivated, I guess.  But it's a new month and I have lots of things to share.  So!  Let the blogging begin!

First, I need to update you on my Gutsy Cooking.

I made the Spicy Shrimp Gratin and Key Lime Pie scheduled for week 17.  While the Gratin was in the oven I got the call that my Grandpa had passed away.  So I cried when my Shrimp Gratin was super soupy.  But Jim was very understanding and told me that it would make a great soup.  What a nice husband.  Sometime I'll tell you about my grandpa, he was a great guy.  He also appreciated a great meal (see how I transitioned there)

I think I would make the shrimp again, but it was really soupy.  I'm not sure how it's supposed to be, but I don't think I succeeded.  It tasted good, though.  The Key Lime Pie was super lime-y.  It was really easy to make, but I think I would tweak the amount of lime in it. 

I forgot to take pictures so you'll have to use your imagination on that one.

I missed week 18, because we were home for the funeral.

Week 19 was Lamb Kebabs and Sticky Lemon Cake.
The Lemon cake called for almond meal, which I could NOT find.  Ugh!  I was frustated because I LOVE lemon cake.  Last week I found some at Whole Foods for $13!  Yikes!  I guess the Lemon cake is not in my future.  But I made the Lamb Kebabs with beef.   Yum!  My kids loved the meat on a stick.  I don't know why I don't serve it more often.
 The tomato dressing on top was ok.  It was kinda flat, which I think was due to the bland store bought winter tomatoes.  So it made me really look forward to summer when I can use fresh homegrown tomatoes.  But I will make it again and cover meat with it.  mmmmmmmmmm

Week 20 Scallop and Pesto Crostini and Mediterranean Lasagna.
I didn't make the Crostini, I'm not a fan of scallops.  I did make the Lasagna.  YUM-O-LICIOUS!  It was full of veggies.
The only thing about the recipe that I didn't like, was the way it said to slice the eggplant.  The pieces were too big and weird.  Next time I'll cut everything the same size.  But other than that, a real winner in my book!

Now, I've missed weeks 21 & 22, but this week is Homemade English muffins and Eggs Benedict!  OH BOY!  Stay tuned for that.  I remember early on in the gutsy cooking, I attempted my first Holindaise sauce and it turned out so super delicious.  I made some last night and it didn't work so well.  I'm hoping I'm back on my 'A' game when I make these eggs!
Just in case you're interested, here's the link for the Gutsy Cooks.  See you next week!