Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ben's Lettuce Wraps

I am definitely not the only cook in my house. Ben has some great skills in the kitchen, too. Here's one of his famous recipes that he made for our dinner party the other night. He let me help with some it so I could learn, so this is my memory of his recipe.
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 tsp salt
dash of black pepper
2 TBSP oil
1 8 oz can of water chestnuts, chopped
3 green onion, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 C dry shitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water until soft) chopped
1/2 C pine nuts
1 head lettuce (I suggest butterhead or romaine lettuce, not iceberg or green)

3-4 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP Hoisin sauce

Brown chicken in a skillet with the oil, salt and pepper. Add in the garlic, onions, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. In another dry skillet, toast the pine nuts on med to low heat (shirring or shaking often since they burn easy) until golden brown-add to the meat mixture. Mix together sauce ingredients in a bowl and add to meat. Cook all together until flavors are soaked though and vegetables are soft. Adjust with more sauce ingredients to taste. Serve a spoon of meat mixture on a leaf of lettuce.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vanilla Cider Pork with Pears

Fall is here! And I have officially caught the cooking bug. It's even more fun this year because I have a husband to cook with/for so I get excited to try stuff out on him. He has yet to not like something yet, surprisingly. I am successfully converting him over to the ideas of soups (he has only ever known canned soups), pumpkin-everything, and fruit +meat.  Here was one of our dinners this week that helped with the latter. I got this recipe for a "Cuisine at Home" magazine years ago (I got it for a year-I don't remember why). I've adjusted it a bit, they totally lied about how long everything takes and I've made some substitutions to make it less costly, less fatty, easier to do quickly, and less alcoholic... it's still good, I promise.

Vanilla Cider Pork with Pears 
4 pork chops
2 pears (cored and quartered)
2 TBSP butter or margarine
1/2 C flour
1 C chicken broth
1 C apple cider (not juice)
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP water
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat (not high...don't be impatient you'll burn the poor pears). Saute the pears until lightly browned, remove from heat. Set pears aside.

Season pork with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour. Saute pork (in same pan pears came from) until cooked through, about 5 minutes each side (or more if your chops are huge like the ones from Costco). Set pork aside.

Deglaze that same blessed pan with the broth, cider, and cream. Bring to a boil and add vanilla (or vanilla bean if you are really going all out). Reduce the liquid to half (this takes about 4-5 min). Add a little roux (flour and water mixed to a paste) to get it a little thicker. Put pears and pork back in the pan and cook all together a few more minutes. Serve! (I always like to serve it with the recipe below)

Pecan Wild Rice
1 C wild rice blend
14 oz. chicken broth
1/4 C apple cider
1/4 C pecan pieces

Boil chicken broth and cider in a saucepan, add rice mixture. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in pecans and serve.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Club

I'm in a real book club! I've never actually been a member of one before, and I quite like it. The closest I ever got was being a writer of a book blog that we wrote synopsis and critique about each book we read. That fizzled after several months.
      There's only 5 of us that come regularly to our current club although there are a lot more that are invited. They invited me a couple weeks after joining my ward and it's been good to know these girls (neighbors) that I've lived by for 3 yrs and never knew! We've read some interesting books the last couple months. Everyone has their opinion and take on things so it is fun to discuss. It makes me think more about the books I'm reading and the themes, hidden meanings and agendas of the writers. I haven't done that since High School English class.
    I like having book suggestions from others, even though my random picks at the bookstore sometimes surprise me in how good they are. We put together our list for this next year, and now I think I shouldn't have given so many suggestions because that means I've already read several of the books on there. Oh well. There should still be enough to keep me engaged. Anyone have any of these books I can borrow in the coming months?
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
The Wise and Joyful Potter of Niederbipp
The Help
Devil in the White City
Peace Like a River
The Poisinwood Bible

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recipe Shortcut

I have heard from a reader or two that they wanted to go back and find a recipe I posted once upon a time and had a hard time finding it. I admit, I actually go back frequently to see my version of tikka masala, etc. So, I finally got around to putting in a new gadget on the side with links to a few favorite recipes I've posted in the last couple years for quick access. It also made me think I haven't posted a recipe in a while...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Did you know I have mad tiling skills? neither did I. You never know until you try it. I've had plenty of opportunities of late, helping Ben and his dad remodel their old house to sell. We tiled the kitchen floor, bathroom floors, and the shower walls. I'm pretty proud of my work. I guess it's a little hard to see in this picture.

 I also helped install a tub, lay rockerboard, and remove wallpaper. Not to mention cleaning out 50 yrs worth of stuff, including large food storage bins from their crawl-space basement. I feel so handy. This is leaps and bounds above changing a furnace filter. It is always easier when with people who know what they are doing, too. What a smart and handy hubby I have!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Bride

The Dress
The Side View

The Dress Back
The Shoes

Hair, Flowers and Veil

The Bustle
Side Flowers


The Bottom View
The Dress Front

The Curly Tulle Skirt

The Train


I finally got my wedding pictures back from my photographer. Here are some of my favorites.