Saturday, June 7, 2014

Taste of Mexico

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I like Mexican food.  I like easy dinners.  So when BzzAgent sent me some new products to try that combined both of those things I was game.  Smith's Marketplace is having a Taste of Mexico festival for the month of June.  I decided to give the ready-made Barbacoa a try.




The meat is already cooked, all I had to do was microwave it for about 3 minutes, then open and shred it with a couple of forks.  The meat was not spicy-hot, but had lots of flavor and was moist. I added my own tortillas, cilantro and lime juice and served up corn on the cob on the side. 



Speaking of lime juice, I used this nifty Everyday Living citrus squeezer.  Cut the lime in half and put it in and squeeze out all the limey goodness.  Easy!  The squeezer would work with lemons or maybe even some small oranges.



Dinner prep took me less than 10 minutes from the time I opened the package until it was on the table.  Not bad for a weeknight dinner.  It made 6 servings, which I'd say is enough for two adults and two small kids or two hungry adults (I ate two and that was about right for me).

There are pork and chicken varieties too that are already cooked and look for the pre-seasoned fajita meat that you cook yourself. 


*I received Kroger products to try at no cost from BzzAgent, but was not paid for my review.  My opinions are all my own.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fish Tacos with mango salsa and cilantro dressing

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I love the Hispanic grocery store near my house!  It always has great deals on produce to make tasty dishes, such as last night's dinner...fish tacos.  I forgot to take any pretty pictures of along the way, so you get a picture of my lunchtime leftovers (which were the envy of the breakroom).

Fish tacos are like regular tacos, you put whatever YOU want on them--but I think last night's combo was a winner. Makes enough salsa/dressing for about 8-9 tacos.

Ingredients

Fish, any type you like, cooked the way you like it (tilapia, halibut, broiled, deep fried...whatever)
Tortillas (I used flour)
Shredded cabbage
Cilantro
Lime wedges
Mango salsa
Cilantro dressing

Mango Salsa
1 ripe mango, diced (about 1 c.)
1/4 of a red onion, diced finely (about 1/4 c.)
1/2 jalapeno without the seeds, diced finely
juice of 1 lime
Cilantro, chopped (I probably had about 1/4 c.)

Mix it all together--add more or less of any of the ingredients that you like.

Cilantro Dressing (kinda like Cafe Rio)
Warning...I just added stuff as I went and eyeballed everything, so....my next batch may vary a bit, but it was TASTY

1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sour cream
1/3 bunch of cilantro, washed...stems and all
1 T. of diced red onion
1/2 jalapeno without the seeds
2-3 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. ranch dressing mix (powdered)
juice of 1 lime
dash of cumin
dash of garlic powder


Puree everything until smooth (my Magic Bullet is great for this).  I added milk until the dressing was the consistency I wanted.  I used less ranch mix to begin with and added a bit more as I went (I didn't want it to "ranchy").  For the "dash" I just did a small shake from the spice jar...again, less at first, more later if you want more. 

Now to the good part...

Assemble your tacos with fish, shredded cabbage, cilantro, salsa and dressing.  Squeeze some fresh lime on it.  Keep eating until it is GONE (which won't take too long).





Saturday, May 3, 2014

Star Wars: May the 4th Printable

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Just a quick one today...I've been out doing yard work today with many of my awesome neighbors who came to help.  Tomorrow is May the 4th, and in case you didn't know, that is Star Wars day (you know, May the Fourth be with you...)  Anyway, I found some great images here, and I added a quick greeting and I'm done.  I think I'll put them with some cookies and take them to some of those awesome neighbors.

Look for the file called May the 4th and download it here:
https://sites.google.com/site/theprojectspot/downloads

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Running Inspiration Printables

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I've taken on a big challenge...running a full marathon.  That is 26.2 miles.  A very long way.  A few years ago I started running when I participated in a 5K benefit run, Fill the Ark.  I had very few excuses since that race set up its finish line pretty much at the end of my driveway.  After completing a couple 5Ks I started to think I could do a 10K.  I signed up, I trained and I worked...and then I got hurt.  I did nothing more than lean over to pick something up, and I was injured and in physical therapy for 6 months.  It was so frustrating.  About a year later, I decided it was time to try again--and I did it with the help of a kind friend who agreed to run super slow on my behalf and coached me along.
 

Many folks told me that running gets addictive, and it does...sort of.  I still don't love it.  I don't look forward to it, but I have learned a lot about myself and the power of setting goals.  I did my first 1/2 marathon last September in Disneyland.  I figured that if I was going to run 13.1 miles, I should do it somewhere I truly love.  It was quite the experience.  I trained and my body felt strong, but I was unprepared for the sheer size of this race...somewhere near 17,000 runners.  In my head I had planned to be back at the hotel resting within 3 hours of the start of the race.  Nope.  I didn't even cross the starting line until about an hour after the starting pistol went off.  Between the crowds, the heat (I thought I'd be done by the time the temperature became a factor) and a headache that just didn't want to let go, it took me MUCH longer than I had planned.  I was thrilled to finish, but felt discouraged that things didn't go well.


I decided to try another 1/2 marathon--I picked one in St. George, in January, which would be smaller and cooler.  My good friend agreed to go with me.  I continued training (including the run that ripped my favorite running tights in my last post) and managed to cut almost 40 minutes off my finish time.  I felt great at the end of the race--no real down time--which got me thinking.  And thinking.  And some more thinking, that MAYBE I could do a full marathon.


I spent another month really considering it...and I decided to sign up for a local race.  I've been training.  Saturdays are pretty much spent doing the long training runs.  This past weekend was my last long training run, 23 miles.  But I didn't make it.  At mile 15 my body was screaming at me and my back was tight and angry-and a migraine was threatening to get out of control.  I stopped.  I waited.  I waited some more.  And I knew I had to try.  I made it another 6.5 miles and I was done for the day.  So--now I have the taper...fewer miles, just maintaining my fitness and letting my body get ready for the real deal in a couple weeks. 

I decided I needed a few more inspirational quotes to hang around my house, in my car, in my gym bag.  Anywhere and everywhere.  Everyone tells me that the marathon distance is a mental game. I was singing in choir on Sunday after my not-quite-23 mile run and we sang the words from Isaiah 40:31 "they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint"...seemed like that was a good place to start my inspirational quotes.  Wish me luck (and good weather!)




If you'd like to print these quotes, click the link and look for the Run Inspiration file. Its sized to print on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper.  I'm even thinking of printing some on tattoo paper to put on my arm for race day.

UPDATE:  I did it!  I finished the Ogden Marathon.  It was exactly as hard as I thought it would be.  Miles 22-26.2 were SO long and so hard.  I appreciated all the wonderful people who cheered on total strangers along the route and the great volunteers who offered up water and encouragement.  




Saturday, February 22, 2014

Modern Darning

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I have a pair of running tights that I love.  I had gone for a run in January and was feeling pretty smug about myself...until I hit a patch of black ice and went down on my knee, which hurt--and to add insult to injury, I ended up with a small hole in the pants.  Argh.  The tights were pricey, and I knew that if I didn't fix the hole, it would just get bigger and the pants would be ruined.  So, a lesson in darning, the modern way.  I don't have a fancy sewing machine, just a basic Singer. 

My first step was to stabilize the hole. I grabbed some iron-on Stitch Witchery and some satin ribbon.  I slid the ribbon and fusible webbing into the pants and ironed it flat from the outside of the pants (this let me press all the edges of the tear into the fusible webbing).  After it had cooled, the hole was nearly invisible, but I knew that it wouldn't stand up to the multiple washings that running pants would go through.

 

Next, find a thread that matches the fabric.  I took the pants and my 40% off coupon to JoAnne's and found some thread that was spot-on for a match (no, not that gray, or that gray, or that charcoal, or that slate...ah, that one!) 

Get your sewing machine all set with the bobbin and thread all loaded up.  I set the  machine to zig-zag with a short stitch length.  Next time, I would recommend using a chalk pencil to draw a small circle around the area you are going to darn, then just fill in the circle (the dark fabric and good job of ironing the hole up made it hard to see if I had gotten it all covered with stitches).

I slid the pants onto the arm of the sewing machine--it was a bit tricky to get all the fabric bunched up and out of the way, but I managed it.  I sewed on the top side of the pants (just the one layer though, so I didn't sew the pants closed), turned the fabric a bit and sewed again and kept turning and sewing (sometimes using the backstitch mode).  It took about 30 seconds and I had it done!

Took the pants out for another run today, and they work great.  I can't feel the patch and I know it will be fine in the washing machine.  So, for the cost of a $1 spool of thread I saved my favorite running tights.  I have tried this on jeans too--you can buy variegated denim thread that matches very nicely (or you can try using a lighter thread on the bobbin and darker on the spool).
 



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ginger Cilantro Chicken Salad-my version of Thai Larb

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I like Thai food. Funny, but until about 5 years ago, I hadn't really tried it.  I grew up in a smaller town and I don't think there was anything outside of the usual Mexican, Italian an Chinese places.  Now I eat Thai quite often..although whenever they ask how spicy, I say "not spicy at all"--which is usually PLENTY spicy for me (and I like spicy Mexican food, but wow, Thai spicy is another scale).  Anyway, aside from Pad Thai, Green Curry and Massaman Curry, one of my favorites is Larb, a type of salad--which I think is pronounced without the "r".  I had some last night at Thai Siam, one of my favorite places, where they serve it lettuce wrap style.  I decided to try it out at home and used this recipe as my guide.

I ended up just making a big salad, rather than as wraps, and I didn't cook the sticky rice that would accompany it, but I sure did enjoy it!

Marinade and salad dressing base:
You'll mix this up and then reserve part of it to use for the marinade and the other part for the dressing.

1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbs finely diced fresh ginger (this is the secret ingredient, its about 2 inches of ginger root)
2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce-want more spice? add 1 Tbs instead

--Mix all the above together.  Take 4 Tbs out and save it for the marinade--

Now add the last three ingredients and you've got the salad dressing made.
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 green onions, chopped including most of the green parts
1 Tbs sugar (optional, or use a packet of artificial sweetener)

Marinate 1 large chicken breast with the 4 Tbs of reserved sauce in a zipper bag.  I pounded the chicken flat so it would cook nice and fast.

Get the salad ready:
1/2 of a large head of Nappa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4-5 cups)
1-2 carrots, shredded
2-3 radishes, sliced
1/2-2/3 cups of cilantro (remove stems, roughly chop)
toasted sliced almonds
toasted sesame seeds
fresh mint leaves (optional...larb has it, but I just used extra cilantro instead)

Once you've marinaded the chicken for about 30 minutes, place it in a heated skillet with a bit of oil.  Cook each side for about 4 minutes on med-low or until the thermometer reads 180.  Remove from pan and let rest while you mix up the salad.

In a bowl put the cabbage, carrot, radishes, cilantro.  Toss with the dressing.  Slice up the chicken and place on top and sprinkle with the almonds and sesame seeds.

If you are serving this as a main dish salad, it serves two.  If you are doing it as larb or a side dish you can probably get 4-6 servings.  If you are going to do it like larb, then chop up everything much smaller and serve with some pieces of romaine lettuce and sticky rice to make wraps. 




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nostalgic Cookies Part 2: Rosettes

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My last post was about cookies that my dad's mom made.  This post is about my other grandma-a great cook--who was always certain that she hadn't made enough cookies (maybe its because we  filched cookies while she wasn't looking).  I thought I'd give Rosette cookies a try--its been many, many years since I've had them, and for a first try, these seem pretty good (not Grandma perfect, but a worthy effort).

Batter
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla


Beat the egg, salt and sugar then add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth (I used my hand mixer for about 1 minute).  Refrigerate batter for about 30 minutes. 

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees.  Place your rosette iron in the hot oil for about 30 seconds.  Since I had 2 irons I kept one in the oil while I used the other one. 

To make the rosettes:
Take the iron out of the hot oil and tap off excess oil on nearby paper towel.
Dip the iron into the batter, leaving at least the top 1/4 of the iron out of the batter. Hold the iron in the batter for about 3 seconds.
Dip the battered iron into the hot oil for about 12-18 seconds. 
Tap off the excess oil and use tongs to gently pull the rosette off the mold. 
Flip the cookie so that the oil drips out of the indentations.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or a mix of granulated sugar/cinnamon)

I struggled to keep the oil the right temperature, but for the most part, the rosettes worked out fine.  They taste good, and that is the important part!  Merry Christmas.