Thursday, October 29, 2009

Still having fun.

I realized I hadn't posted anything in a while-so I suppose it's time for an update.  Adam & I are still doing great and love being married to each other.  Last night I said to him, as we were watching Top Chef, "I'm glad I'm not teaching right now." and he replied "Me too.  I know you love to do it, but it's nice to have you here each night".  I think how different it would be if i was gone 3 nights a week like I used to be.  We wouldn't have this time together to cook dinner, play cards, watch movies or play Dr. Mario on the wii (our guilty pleasure).  Not teaching dance this year was a good decision (one that I really didn't make).  I'm sure I'll want to get back to it soon-but for now it's just nice to be married and get used to having someone living with you.

We've also had some great weekends with friends.  Most of our friends live over in St. Petersburg.  So when someone throws a party we have to decide do we stay or make the 45 min drive back.  Stay has been the unanimous decision and my good friend Tara has put us up for two Saturdays.  Last Saturday was the big costume party at the Smith house.  Adam and I went as Satan and Mrs.Claws. There were lots of great costumes-Tara & Alex were Dawg the Bounty Hunter and Beth-such a good and fun costume.
Sunday we had an impromptu picnic in the park with 6 dogs! It was fun, relaxing and such a great day to get outside and drink champagne in the park.

This week has gone a lot different than I anticipated.  First of all Adam was supposed to be in Miami all week for work.  So I began fretting about what i was going to do!  I emailed my friend Kristi to see if she wanted to see a movie since I had two free passes that were about the expire.  It wasn't until 5 on Monday that Adam found out he wasn't going.  I decided then that I would go to a ballet class that night since he was here all week.  I purchased a month of classes and hope to get back into shape.  Then Tuesday-my date still set, we had dinner at the McElroy's (Tommy cooked a yummy dinner). Afterward Kristi and I left the boys to the TV and headed out to our movie; The Invention of Lying.  I was a very interesting and funny movie.  If no one lied life would be a  lot different.  Unfortunately I think it's a good thing people lie-according to the movie it would be a very different-boring world.  Anyway-when it comes out on video add it to your Netflix list-it's a good way to spend 2  hrs.

Last night I tackled a recipe I'd been wanting to make since Christmas; Crispy Shrimp Cakes.  I have never made crab cakes or shrimp cakes-only birthday cake, so dinner was a gamble.  The first thing I noticed on the recipe was Panko Bread crumbs.  I wondered if they differed from the bread crumbs I had in my pantry so i Google'd it.  Supposedly they were different-and I stumbled upon a recipe for those, that became Adam's job, make the bread crumbs.  He did good.  I worked on the shrimp cake part.
After an hour of cooling in the fridge we put them in the pan to cook.  I thought they came out pretty good-the bread crumbs were really spicy and we're thinking that they overpowered the cakes a bit-but all in all I liked them.  We served them with Boars Head Spicy Romalade (our fav) and some coconut rice and peas.  We still have 4 cakes in the fridge ( I hope they keep;they're not cooked) so dinner tonight might be the same, but I'm not complaining.  I'm learning that my husband is a hard man to impress.  I told him last night "does anything I cook you taste "great!" ?  you always say "eh it's good". "  So I'm on a mission to get an "oh my god this is soooo good" out him.  Any suggestions?

Here is the recipe for the shrimp cakes (from Red Book)  if you try any modifications that are good share so we can try next time...because I will be making these again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't Mess With My Zohan!

The day Adam proposed I, unbeknown to the pending proposal, went and cut off my long hair to my chin.  The was the last hair cut I got.  Saturday while we were running errands I asked Adam to pull into a salon that I had noticed across from our church.  I needed a haircut, bad.  Walking into the empty salon I was greeted by two men of middle eastern decent.  The man behind the counter said he could cut my hair now so I sat down in the chair and he asked what I wanted to do.  After discussing the cut he asked if I wanted a shampoo-since I'd skipped that that morning I said yes and he handed me over to the younger gentleman who was to wash my hair.  Hmm a shampoo boy-I'd never had one of those, but ok.  Then after my hair was wet he brought me over to the chair and set me up with my cape and combed out my hair.  The first man came back over and began cutting away at my hair.  He moved quickly and with skill...and I was beginning to be reminded of the movie "Don't mess with the Zohan".  Especially when the phone rang and he had the younger man patch it through to his blue tooth.  He was just yapping away and cutting away.  After he finished with the cut he asked if I wanted a blow dry.  "Sure", I said.  As soon as the words came out of my mouth both of the men had grabbed dryers and were going at my hair; pulling it, fluffing it, two dryers at once! It took all I had to not laugh. After a while the stylist nodded at the younger assistant and he put his dryer away.  I bet he dried my hair a good 20 min-and then the other one came back and was hand selecting sections of my hair to be dried next.  He would hold them up and hand them to the stylist.  I kid you not.  Finally when he asked if I wanted flat iron (which i politely declined) I was sure his next question was whether or not i wanted the happy ending!
I am convinced that the movie had is based on my new stylist (yes I'll be going back) Emad Abdul from Jordan.  Now I'm not sure if he was or is an Israeli hit man, i really don't care, but my hair looked fantastic-the price was decent-and I had just had two men blow out my hair-all with my husband sitting quietly in the corner holding back his own chuckles.
I strongly suggest Chic Salon in Temple Terrece and say Yes to "blow dry"
And yes-he kind of looked like Adam Sandler.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Yankee Doodle Dumplings

The first time I ever heard the word dumpling was at my Aunt Sandy's house.  I must have been 6 or 7 and Uncle Don had this movie "The Apple Dumpling Gang".  I just LOVED that movie-it was a western/comedy with Don Knots.  Any way after watching that movie over and over I really wanted some Apple Dumplings-but i didn't know what they were and when I asked my mom she basically told me they were like a donut.  So I never really had my apple dumplings-but I still really wanted to be a part of the "gang".

After moving to Florida and meeting some real "southern folk" I started hearing about this chicken and dumplings stuff.  Again-I had heard it before or maybe saw it on the Cracker Barrel menu-but again Mom said it was no good fried dough/fat.  So as my friends raved about their mom's making the best Chicken and Dumplings I started to get curious.  I asked and prodded and they basically described it like fried chicken with gravy and fried dough...that was OOHHH so good.  I didn't buy it.  I am such a Yankee; I thought Greens was was a family of colors and  Black Eye'd Peas a super sweet hip hop band.  I also thought that when you fixin' something you were making it "un-broke". Boy was I wrong.  Anyways I've continued to live my life in the "fake south" (I've been told Florida is NOT south) and hold on to my northern ways as best I could.  Now back to this whole dumpling story.

We received a very large fry pan as a wedding gift (thanks Rita & Brandon!).  So large in fact that it doesn't fit in the cupboards.  I have to keep in in the oven! but I love it!  Well when i opened up the box there was this recipe card with a yummy looking picture on the front.  Chicken and Herb Dumplings.  Hmm I thought-that looks good, I've always wondered what a dumpling was.  So being newly wife'd I thought let's add that to the list.  Adam- a true Yankee himself hadn't had much chicken and dumplings himself so he was game.

I decided to fix the meal on Sunday night.  We had had a light lunch after Church and around 6 I figured I should get started.  The recipe said something like 20 min here 20 min I'm thinking and hour-tops.  I get out the Chicken hindquarters and start skinning them...only cut myself once.  Then I had to have Adam come and separate the leg from the thigh.  I began browning the chicken....and browning and took a LONG time.  finally i got bored so i started on the next step-the herb dumplings.  I found out that the jar of sage i had must have been 7 years old and had began to we opted for some rosemary.  But this part was easy-mix up some flower, cut in some butter ? Wait cut in? like with scissors?  I did the best I could and found a new use for a pizza wheel :)  Then it called for Evaporated Skim milk-what! i didn't see that.  That was not on the grocery list-so 2% it was.  Sure enough it made a dough ball just like the recipe.  So back to to the chicken-it was brown enough and i began adding the other ingredients.  Oops white wine...we HAD some of that...what about red? sure! So I get all the veggies and chicken and stock in that great big pan and now I'm to my 20 min's now 7 pm.  So after 20 min I'm supposed to add the dumplings-8 equal balls-their about the size of a lime.  I put them around the pot like the picture, put on the cover and we're told to wait another 20-25 min....with the pan on Low.

Ding! I put in my tooth pick and these dumpling haven't done any cooking! WTF?  I look at Adam and say I don't think this is hot enough, I'm hungry.  So we crank it up to Med.  another 20 min go buy-Ding! Tooth pick comes out clean!  And OH MY GOD does it smell good.  So it's now a little after 8pm -oh and the squash has been done for like 45 min. (which by the way is from MICHIGAN!)  So we sit down and dig in.  These Dumplings look a lot like mashed potatoes...but are definitely like a biscuit.  But with the chicken and the broth and the vegetables it was all REALLY GOOD!! ( I won't mention that Adam had to nuke his get rid of some red oops).  We had even had a couple of servings.  So I did it! A Yankee made Chicken and Dumplings!

When I got to work on Monday I was raving about it in the lunch room...and my bubble was quickly burst. As I described my meal the guys looked perplexed.  They said I had some fancy recipe and that REAL Chicken and Dumplings was different-then they went on to explain what I always imagined...gross.
Oh well-so what.  I liked it-my Yankee version of Chicken and Dumplings and I will make them again-but I will start a lot earlier.

So here is the recipe if any of you want to try a truly yummy, non southern Chicken & Dumplings. Enjoy!



2 1/2 - 3 pounds assorted chicken pieces, skin removed if desired

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 Tbls. vegetable oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

6 ounces large mushrooms, quartered

4 medium carrots, washed and peeled, cut on a diagonal into 1 1/2 " slices

1 tsp dried sage ( I used Rosemary)

3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup dry, white wine (I used Red Wine)

Herb Dumplings:

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried dill weed

5 Tbls. butter

2 Tbls. chopped parsley

2 Tbls. chopped chives (I didn't have any)

1 cup evaporated skim milk ( I used regular milk)



Rinse chicken and pat dry. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Preheat a 5 qt. Saucier over medium heat until the rim of the pan is hot-to-the-touch. Add the oil and allow to heat for another minute. Add the chicken, about half at a time; cook, turning as needed until brown on all sides. As the chicken is browned, remove it from the pan and set aside. Pour off all but 1 Tbls. of the oil and fat in the pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring often until lightly browned (3 - 5 minutes). Add carrots and sage and return the chicken to the pan on top of the vegetables. Pour in broth and wine. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Herb Dumplings:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and dried dill weed. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut 5 Tbls. of firm butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Mix in the chopped herbs gently. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the evaporated milk. Incorporate the milk and flour with a fork until the dough forms a ball.

Final assembly and cooking:

Skim and discard the fat from the chicken preparation. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop dumpling dough over chicken in 8 equal portions over the surface of the chicken, spacing slightly apart. Cover and continue to cook until dumplings are firm to-the-touch and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 20 - 25 minutes).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hallo Deutschland, wir kommen!

Well Adam & I finally decided and booked our honeymoon!  After much back and forth, dragging our feet and the good RCI exchanges being snatched up we found our destination; Germany!  It is actually the 1st place we looked at-Missen Wilhams.  It is on the border of Austria & Switzerland in German Alps.

Adam & I decided early on that we wanted to go skiing for our honeymoon.  Living in Florida, we get to go to the beach whenever we want.  We both LOVE the beach, but we wanted to do something don't get a chance to do. We have never been skiing together.  I would go back home during Christmas and Adam has also.  He also spent some time in Switzerland skiing in collage.  So it will be interesting to see how we fare together on the slopes.  I have a feeling he's a All OUT fly down the hill type, while i like to make it down in one piece with out any snow on my butt.
So with that decided we started on the "where". Russ, Adam dad, said that we could trade his time share-so we began looking.  Lone behold Europe was an option! Both of us had been wanting to get back there since we'd left; me 16 years ago-Adam 10.  We began looking at the RCI website and our options to exchange.  There seemed to be quite a few options.  But I really needed to focus on the wedding and we decided to wait until after to book it.  When we got back from michigan we started looking again...the place in Germany was no longer available :(  So I kept serching.  Then I found a place in switzerland! it would be great and the flights to Geneva where reasonable.  But when we got home to look at it, it was gone too.  Then it was Italy, france, back to germany....we kept playing this game.  We'd find something; check out the airfare, the skiing, and when it would come time to book it, someone had snatched it up.  I was starting to think we'd have to look into pushing the trip back.  Now there were plenty of resorts in  Norway, Sweeden & Findland-but i looked at the map and they are parallel with oh, NORTHERN Canada.  There was no way i was going skiing in January that far north.  There is a reason there are that many units available-it's COLD!
Finally yesterday, we looked and the original place in Germany was available!  We hit book and never looked back.  We will leave January 15th and fly to Munich where we will rent our "European SUV" and head the 1.5 hrs to Missen Wilhams.  We will stay for a week, get some skiing in and hopefully see some old friends.  Now our goal is to get Adam's passport papers in the mail and research the area.  I have also asked my mom to send me my German Picuture dictionary.  Adam also says he has a German text book...somewhere.

On a side note, many have you been asking "what's for dinner?"  Well the only other thing I cooked last week was chicken.  We used frozen chicken breasts and cooked them in some butter and white wine.  Added some mushrooms, asparagus, dill and garlic.  Then added a can of Cream of Mushroom soup.  We served it over white rice.  It was quite good.  And we only dirtied one pan & a rice cooker!

Then for dessert we finished our wedding cake.  I know you, you're supposed to save it for your 1st anniversary, but everyone knows it doesn't keep and isn't any good.  I wasn't going to risk that with our cake.   Those of  you who were at the wedding know how good that cake was.  It was made by my mom's dear friend, Jeanette.  Home made carrot cake should not be wasted.   There was no way i was letting that cake go bad.  We have decided instead to keep two bottles our our signature wine for a year and drink them on our 1st anniversary.  Maybe i'll buy a carrot cake too...or maybe i'll make one!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mmm Mmmm Good

Well I did it! I successfully made a  pot roast.  Or I guess I should be fair and say I prepped a pot roast-the crock pot did most of it.  As soon as I opened the door the smell was unmistakable. oh those poor dogs locked up in a cage all day smelling that, such torture.  Adam said he could smell it from out side too.  It was so nice to  walk in the door at 6 p.m. set the table, open some wine, serve up the meal (Using our new serving dishes (thanks Kim!) and server ware (thanks Sherry Jo!) and sit down and have  HOT delicious meal at 6:12. (I looked)

OH! and you'll never guess what i did!!! I, yes me, Stephanie made gravy! I have never made gravy in my life-Adam said "I thought you said you didn't know how to make gravy?"  I don't, but I have seen my mom, aunts and grandmothers do it a million times.  So I took out the cornstarch to make a rue (Like granny) and mixed it up with some water then I had Adam pour all the juice from the crock pot into my extra large measuring cup (thanks Rita!).  As I was beating it I thought back to making soups..hmm I think it has to boil. But I didn't want to dirty another dish-so being the 21st century working wife that i am, I popped into the microwave and hit start. Sure enough it began to boil and thicken! Magic!
So here Adam and I are sitting down at the dining table with a real live meal before us, dogs salivating at our feet, ready to dig in.  We say our prayer (such good upbringings :)) and dig in.  Now as we ate we did critique it; add garlic next time; need to season the gravy more; baste the meat as it cooks if we can....but all in all it's pretty darn good.  Adam even had 2nds (or was it thirds).  He was proud of his wife and I of the meal I prepared.  Dessert on the other hand (like we really had room) was complements of the check out line at IKEA; Dark Chocolate.  I thought of my Aunt Anette - she always needs a little chocolate :)
Now during dinner we noticed that the new pepper grinders we bought and I dropped was spinning a little funny.  So after dinner Adam did something that I am so familiar with that I had to stop and call my mom.  I'm familiar with it, but not from Adam.  He said he was going to fix it. went into the laundry room (closet) where I keep all my tool-ish stuff and came out with a packet of JB Weld.  JB Weld for those who don't know is the glue you mix together and it turns black and will bond almost anything.  If they had a frequent buyers club my dad would be the president.  He uses that stuff to fix EVERYTHING-ask my mom.  But the more canny part of this story is that my dad likes to fix things at the dining table and we're not talking about just pepper grinders we're talking guns, carburetors, ski boots, radios.  Someday, when i win the lotto I'm buying my mom a new dining set and my dad a heated work shed with that dining table and beer in it.  So here I sat watching my new husband sit down with his JB Weld and a piece of wax paper over our new place mats fixing the pepper grinder. Oh my, I married my father.  I called my mom and we just laughed. Hopefully my husband will be a little neater and won't ruin our dining table with his after diner fix-it projects.  But then again if he does, I'M getting a new table.
After dinner we continued digging our way through the living room.  We moved the twin trundle bed out of the living room-it's going to charity-and put our new cabinet in it's place.  We filled it up with all the lovely glassware we received.  It looks so nice all lit up.  Then after 3 trips to the dumpster with empty box's we settled on the couch for our newest NetFlix-Stop Loss.
Tonight we'll take a break from cooking and are attending a hosted Happy Hour at a local restaurant.  Free Appetizers!  Tomorrow we'll tackle another meal (I'm thinking Whiskey Porkchops) and another box.
PS I'll post the pictures this evening of our fabulous meal.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Newly Wife'd

Adam & I have been married just over two weeks. This marks our first full week back to normal life since the wedding. Yesterday while sitting at my desk I started to think about the week ahead and the fact that I or he would have to make dinner. A whole meal! Now, when it was just me it was a piece of cake. I would saute some frozen veggies and make some instant brown rice. If Adam had been coming over of course I'd plan something or we would go to the store and buy dinner. But now I had 5 days in which we'd need food and these so called whole meals.
Adam likes meat-needs meat-doesn't believe it's a real meal unless there is meat. So I started thinking about what we could do. Eureka! I have a crock pot! Pot Roast. I'm sure I can do that-it's just vegetables, some meat and seasoning in a pot that you cook all day. Ok, so Tuesday was solved....I sent a frantic email to my Aunts asking for recipes-and started searching online for blogs, advice, and recipes that other working wives liked. Luckily I did find some good ideas, so after attending my first ballet class in over six months (ouch) I headed to Publix where I succeeded in filling my cart with veggies, milk, eggs, cream of mushroom soup (Cambell's only Aunt Sandy says) and MEAT! Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Shrimp and Pork.  I almost lost it in the pork section. Those of you who know me, know i don't do pork-ham, yes, maybe some bacon...but no pork. Adam loves pork so since I love Adam I was going to buy some pork chops. As I'm scanning the rows of meat I catch a glimpse of something...not looking like a cut of meat...but a hoof! A pigs hoof all packaged up nicely in cellophane. Oh and look at that, a tongue! Well isn't that nice? I grabbed the only thing with a bone in it and moved onto the chicken swallowing my urge to vomit. I am not a vegetarian but more of a nieveatarian. I'll eat it just as long as I don't see any resemblance to the animal it used to be.
The only snag in my whole meat plan was that the seafood department had already closed. The one thing that I like, fish, I couldn't get. I guess our Salmon recipe will have to wait until next week.  After hitting up the wine aisle I moved my overflowing cart to the check out and made my way home.

Before work this morning I prepared my crock pot and seared the roast-which  almost started a fire because I never clean out my stove pans and a lonely macaroni decided smoke me out of the kitchen. Hopefully when I get home the house will smell of roast and fall (which we don't really have here in Florida-it's more like June) and my 1st attempt at a crock pot meal/pot roast will be a sucsess! Stay tuned.