Christmas Cooking

First of all, I swear I started writing this post a week ago but I can’t find a draft. My mind must be playing tricks on me..

So Christmas cooking. Like I said in the last post, we had a really scaled down Christmas and Thanksgiving feast. The Husband didn’t want to make a lot of dishes (he does about 95% of the cooking in the household. I can see his point.) There are only three of us, including a picky eater. Food will often go bad before we can consume everything and we were really lacking in the holiday spirit. We had the usual dishes for Thanksgiving–turkey, cake, roasted Brussels sprouts, more vegetables, homemade cranberry sauce and  dressing–I’m from the South, it will always be dressing. Unfortunately, my dressing is not like my mom’s and I’m starting to dislike making it and eating it.

Overall, I feel like this was our most healthful holiday meal EVA! We mixed it up really good. We had our roasted Brussels sprouts and green beans but we had a lamb roast (so good!) and a blackberry/raspberry cobbler with a handmade crust using some berries in the freezer from one of the many u-pick farms in the area.

Quinoa:

Yummmmm, quinoa… (Pic from wiki commons)


I decide to nix my regular dressing in exchange for a recipe for Sage and Stuffing Dressing Seasoned Quinoa.

It turned out both great and okay. Here’s why I say that: I think the recipe was very good, but I shouldn’t have added the celery (I generally don’t like it). The celery tasted odd and unpleasant to me when I reheated it. Maybe I overcooked it originally and it didn’t hold up to a reheating? Also, I could have been more adventurous with the spices. I tend to add as I go along and this time I didn’t. I pretty much followed the recipe. By no means was it bland but I’m so used to adding as I go, I think I missed that about my own cooking.  Since The Boy won’t eat anything he isn’t familiar with and The Husband was feeling “meh” about it because it wasn’t dressing; I don’t know if I will cook it again for the holidays. I do love that it was a healthy alternative and I loves me some quinoa. Maybe I’ll add it into our regular rotation.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
Biscuits are an utter pain in the ass to make.  In order to make good ones, you need to sacrifice a least a month of your time kneading and pleading. In most recipes, there are so many steps, I refuse to make them on principle alone. Then I came across the game changer: Easy buttermilk biscuits made with whole wheat flour. The hell. You say.  It can’t be true. You guys, seriously. Seriously. You guys. It really worked. These were better than restaurant biscuits and I made them myself and my arms only hurt minimally. As usual, I did make some changes. The UGC used regular milk but I used buttermilk. I followed her advice about using half whole wheat and half all purpose flour. The Husband and I loved them! The Boy said he liked it, maybe. Which means not really. **Le sigh. I’ll keep trying.

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The PDX Grinch

Hello everyone!

You have disappointed me in the following ways…

I know I’ve neglected you , dear readers but I hope all of you had a great Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter Solstice,  New Year’s and MLK day!

I’m so sorry I haven’t been posting like I thought I would. I have to admit, I haven’t had much to say and I haven’t been crafting much. I would rather not post anything than just put up some drivel. I read a few blogs like that. They’ll disappear for weeks, sometimes months, and then a new post!  And I get so excited. Yay! New post from semi-regular blogger!  Sure, it’s frustrating as a reader but life happens and you find yourself with other things to do besides writing a post. As a blogger, I don’t want to just slap up something just to say I made a post. I think that’s a disservice to you, dear reader. Anywho…….

Christmas, holidays. Bah humbug! As I get older, I find that I’m losing all desire in celebrating the holidays. It’s all BUY! BUY! BUY! And CONSUME! It’s all so crass. Personally,  I really don’t want or need any gifts or items – I have everything I need. The one thing that I crave and deeply want more than anything is time. A little time spent talking to friends; a little time to hang out; a little time for a vacation; and most importantly, a little more time with The Husband and The Boy, together and separately.

At the same time, is it fair to ruin The Boy’s Christmas because I’m the Grinch? Not at all. I will put on a happy Christmas face for him. He asked for the usual amount of crap that sound amazing to all six-year old boys: TOYS! Nerf guns! Angry Birds Star Wars! Angry Birds Space! More toys! Games!

Despite everything, Christmas was good. I got what I’ve needed for a long time. Friends, I got a space heater! Hells. Yeah. I also did some holiday cooking! It felt really good to cook again. Since it’s just the three of us, we decided to only make enough food for the three of us. Why in the world we were making these huge spreads, I have no idea. But we had just enough food. Second post about Christmas dishes, coming soon….

Testing

Trying out new app. Don’t know if this will work but the story below really did happen.

Last week, we were on our way to pick up pizza for dinner and The Boy decided he wanted chicken wings. We told him no because the last time we let him order chicken wings, he ate about two of them and forgot about the rest. He kept pleading until he said,
“But I will eat those wings like a man!!!!

Off to Cannon Beach

I have to admit, one of my favorite places on this earth is the Oregon coast. I say Oregon coast because really, I have never been to any other coast.

The first time I saw the ocean, it was right when we first moved to Oregon. We decided to do a day trip out to Florence, Ore, since it was easiest ocean-side beach to get to from Eugene. Not knowing anything about the weather, the climate and the drive, we bundled up the Boy, who was still a baby, and made our way to the sunny, sunny beach. I remember how I could see the ocean peaking over the dunes as we turned down the street leading to the beach and my heart just exploded into pieces. I can’t explain my experience in words but seeing the ocean exceeded my expectations tenfold.

What I can explain is how damn cold it was. If you grow up away from the ocean, like, oh say, MOST of the country and you only have images of people frolicking on the warm beaches of Florida, California and Hawaii, you are gonna be disappointed when you visit the beaches of Pacific Northwest. It is cold, cold and cold and often windy. And sometimes the fog is so deep that you can’t see anything beyond ten feet around you.  And the water is frigid!  When you first put your feet in the water, it’s like an electrifying shot of cold that shocks you to your core and leaves you speechless. And I loved it, loved it, loved it! We spent many happy summer days in Florence. We watched the Boy grow from a tiny baby who was mildly annoyed with the grains of sand stuck to his hands to a toddler who would run headfirst into the water if allowed. So many happy memories made there.

And then we moved to Portland. No time to visit Florence again (too far). Our closest stretch of coast is in Seaside, OR. It’s a little different from Florence. For one, it has an actual boardwalk full of restaurants, tourist shops and ice cream shops. There are throngs of people and tourists.  The quiet solitude that we loved in Florence was missing. We could set up a blanket in Florence and not have anyone around for quite a ways. While I will never hate going to the coast, something was different. We would drive all the way to the coast, and spend maybe an hour or two and then turn right back around and drive home.  Something was different. Something was off.

Fast forward to last month. My mother was in town. We are so lucky and grateful that she’s able to visit us. She also had never been to the ocean until we moved here and had only been to Florence in the middle of winter.  For this visit, we decided that one of her days with us would be spent at the coast. We had heard about Cannon Beach but had never ventured there. After checking a map, we saw that it was pretty much equidistant to Seaside from Portland. We decided to take the highway less traveled (for us, that is) and journey to Cannon Beach. I was hoping to see something new.  It was phenomenal! We stayed there, parked on the beach for most of the day. The Boy played in the water, we attempted a sand castle but mainly we sat and talked and watch the slow waves roll in.  I even made my mother dip her feet in the water. She had the audacity to try and tell me that seeing the ocean was good enough and I was like, aw hell naw! You don’t go to the ocean without standing in the damn water! I made her stand there and experience the majestic water, not once but twice! I even made her take a leisure stroll with me. Glorious! All of it, glorious!

I bought a tiny souvenir bottle and filled it with sand for my mom but surprisingly I took very few pictures. I’ll post some later tonight. I’m really sorry that I have been preoccupied and I’ve neglected to post anything in a while. I’m working on it…

Saying Goodbye to Summer

I’m feeling extremely weepy today. Maybe it’s because I can see the sunlight changing. While everyone in most of the country has been burning up, we here in the PNW have only had summer temps for about a month and they haven’t been too extreme. As much as I hate hot temperatures, I still would have liked just a teensy, weensy bit more of summer. I’m not complaining, maybe just a little wistful?

I keep thinking about how in just two weeks my little man will be back in school. He’ll be a first-grader! We’ve been talking to him about how different everything will be: he’ll need to do his homework, stay out of detention and trouble (his words, not mine), work on his handwriting, and learn more math and science. Those two subjects, he’s really excited about. As much as I would love him to be interested in the arts, he really likes science-y things more.  I have to admit how proud I was when we were looking at NOVA and he pointed to the screen and said, “Hey, that’s a nebula!” In order to encourage him, I got this app on my phone that takes your location via GPS and tells you what constellations you can see in the sky. He LOVES that one. Thanks, NightSky App!

But anyways, with him starting school and an impending visit from my mother (yikes!), I feel like summer is slipping away so fast and I can’t account for the time and before you know it, it will be autumn and the days will turn to grey. I’m trying not to think about it so much. I’m trying to focus on the Boy and how each new day, he’s growing a little bigger, a little wiser, a little older and a little less of the wee little baby I brought home from the hospital. It may go by quickly, but I am going to enjoy and savor it as much as humanly possible.

TTV round 2

On the pedestrian bridge

It was one of those lazy Saturday mornings when I was awake way before I wanted to be, so I was already in a pissy mood. The Boy had decided to annoy us both by doing typical six year-old stuff. In order to preserve everyone’s sanity, I decided to take the boy out, along with two box cameras, one for him and one for me.

Since I only had one digital camera, I tried to get him interested in focusing on a subject and then I would try to take a photo through his box camera. I’m still trying to get him interested in focusing the lens on a subject instead of being fascinated with the flash going off. He has his own cheap camera but he only cares about clicking the buttons and watching the flash go off. I was hoping this would maybe get him interested in photography. Well, not at all. I think he  kept asking about the flash and where was it and why wasn’t it going off. But we had a good time walking through the neighborhood, just spending time together. And we gave The Husband a good hour of quiet time.

They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

I love TTV. It’s like Instagram or Hipstamatic without the iphone. Speaking of which: I actually tried out Instagram and I can understand its popularity and appeal but I really didn’t like that I had to create an account to use it. I quickly deleted it. I ended up downloading a few other photo apps just because they didn’t ask for information or an account. I could just use the damned app!

 

 

Whoopie Pies Everywhere!

Get in my belly!

My lovely husband recently celebrated another birthday. Beforehand, I asked him if he wanted me to bake something for his big day. I thought for sure he was gonna say a pie, like a berry pie, peach pie or a key lime pie. What can I say, the man likes his pie! He surprised me by requesting whoopie pies.  Now, a few years ago, I had no idea what a whoopie pie was.  It almost sounds kind of dirty (use your imagination). But apparently, like millions of other suckers on Apartment Therapy, I got sucked in on the trend.  Let me tell you, I’m glad I did. Whoopie pies are like soft chocolate dreams with a creamy delicious filling. I like that they are hand-sized, which makes for easy portion control. My recipe is below. I should have used a homemade chocolate cake recipe (and you can too if you like!) but it was too much of a pain in the ass to go out and buy all the ingredients that we didn’t have on hand.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • I used a Sharpie and a mug to draw circles on sheets of parchment paper so that I could keep the whoopie pie size consistent.  I have no idea how other people can get them so perfectly circular. If you know, please leave a comment. I flipped the paper over so that I wasn’t  putting cake batter on the direct sharpie ink.  I’m sure you won’t die if that happened but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
  • Use room temperature butter! I totally spaced and forgot to leave the butter out to warm. I tried to warm the butter in the microwave. It melted a little too much. The taste was fine but the texture of the filling was a bit grainy. And I’m not a fan of marshmallows. If you would like that sort of filling, check Apartment Therapy for a recipe.
  • Eat and Enjoy!

Joy’s Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix, super moist
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of butter

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted or about a cup of regular sugar, to taste.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 350 (or whatever the cake mix says).
  • To make the pies: Prepare mix as directed on package except use only ¾ of a cup of water and substitute the shortening with butter.
  • Drop batter onto greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper to line pan) in 2 1/2 to 3 inch circles (see note above). Your batter should make about 16 to 20 circles.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool. Note: If you use two cookie sheets, bake them one at a time. It allows the pies to bake evenly.
  • Transfer the filling to a clean pastry bag fitted with a round tip or a large freezer bag with the tip cut off (much easier to do with the freezer bag!).
  • Pair the pies up by shape and size and pipe the filling onto one half. Put other half on top.
  • Makes about 8-10 delicious whoopie pies.
  • To store, place in airtight container and refrigerate.

To make the cream cheese filling:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until well-combined and smooth.
  • Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat again until smooth.  Note: Make sure you taste it as you add the sugar. Two and 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar is a lot! I ended up using about a cup of regular sugar. Your taste may vary.