Category Archives: cooking

Tasty Tuesday’s Aftermath

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Wowzer! I’m thrilled to report that the chicken baked using the Dijon honey mustard Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets was a huge hit with the boys! They said it was the best chicken I had ever made (and, believe it or not, they sometimes actually like the chicken I’ve cooked for them). The entire process was easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy. Here’s how it worked:

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First, you cut the chicken to size (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, because I’m lazy, of course), dampen it, and lay it on one of the sheets (above left). Then you put plastic wrap over it and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for about 30 minutes. Then be prepared to bask in the praise and glory of your ever-indebted family who have crowned you the Cooking Queen . . . as if!

I especially liked that there was almost no mess with the sheets, so cleanup was a snap. I’ll keep using the Dijon honey mustard sheets, as well as the Rivieria tomato and basil sheets, with chicken, pork, and fish. I might even try the Rivieria sheet with tofu, since it’s vegan!

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Speaking of vegan

Double-wowzer! While the boys were scarfing down their chicken, I was enjoying my red pepper and spinach hashed browns. They were really good! The recipe was a natural for my limited cooking abilities: It didn’t have a lot of ingredients (red pepper, onion, garlic, potatoes, and spinach), it didn’t take long to prepare and cook, and it wasn’t too messy. I definitely would make it again.

5259-me-goggles1The only problem with the recipe was chopping the onions. I try to chop as fast as I can, but I can’t stand how much the little buggers sting my eyes. If I had only checked out the National Onion Association‘s website! Guess I should’ve figured that the little buggers would have their own site. The NOA recommends chilling the onion before cutting and trimming off the root end last for reducing the tears. Me? I reasoned if the irritant can’t get into my eyes, it wouldn’t affect me. So I grabbed some handy swim goggles . . . and it worked! And it made the #1 son laugh! I did learn that it’s pretty hard to take a quick photo of yourself, so this was the best I could do.

Tonight’s TV watch

bob-harperIt’s an embarrassment of riches on the tube tonight! There’s the second half of “The Biggest Loser” along with “American Idol” and “Lost.”  Whew!

Speaking of “TBL,” there was sooo much crying, especially by my third husband, trainer Bob, on last night’s show. You would’ve thought Bob’s former trainees were moving to Siberia! Man up, Bob!

Get ’er dones

I’ll be spending more time on the phone talking to Applecare. Yesterday they advised uninstalling and reinstalling iLife ’09 to try to solve the GarageBand ’09 problem of not opening GB ’08 songs, but that didn’t work. I remain suspicious of the install disc.

Of course, it’s Kitchen Wednesday, so I’ll at least open mail and shred. There’s always so much more to do with so little energy in the afternoon.

Finally, there will be dinner and TV. How did John Locke die? I think we finally get that question answered on “Lost.” One answer down, 533 more to go!

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Tasty Tuesday, Omni- and Vegan-Style

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The Ice Bowl

The ironically named (for Houston) Ice Bowl Saturday was warmer than the evening’s scouts shooting gig, although a front passing through did dip the temps 10 degrees (from 71 to 61) along with a short shower. The Mister and the boys played in this 18-hole disc golf tournament that benefitted the Houston Food Bank, one of my favorite causes. I tagged along to click some pix and take some video for the blog.

183-2-wbeanie#2 son is the best player among the three (disc golf is his passion), so he, of course, posted the best score, followed by his Pops. But #1 son in only his second tournament did really well and only whined when he wanted the drink that he had left in the car. I went to get it, and, of course, missed #2 son’s drive that landed a few feet from the basket on the first hole, which eventually won him his first-ever CTP (closest to the pin) prize of a natty Ice Bowl knit beanie (he loves those).

I only took a few pix before the rain came. But I got some pretty good video with the Flip Mino. I really like this little camcorder; it’s so handy and easy to carry. I haven’t tried making a movie using the Flip’s software yet because I’m used to iMovie, but it looks pretty straightforward. The music, by the way, is part of iMovie. It’s easy to use and handy but almost impossible to tweak by a couple seconds, which is why it sounds a little short. One of these days I’d like #1 son to teach me how to compose in GarageBand, so I can be more exact with the music. That’s a way-in-the-future get ’er done!

Tasty Tuesday

flavor-magicIn our quest for healthier eating while watching “The Biggest Loser” (an hour tonight and tomorrow, for a change, because of the presidential address), I’m going to try something new for the guys: Flavor Magic Portion Control Sheets. Basically, they are easy seasoning sheets that marinate meat and fish in one simple step. I’ve never gotten the hang of seasoning food, so I’m taking the easy way out. I’m going to use the dijon honey mustard sheets with boneless, skinless chicken breasts tonight and will have my human taste testers report back.

Meanwhile, I’m going to try a new vegan recipe: Red pepper and spinach hashed browns that I saw on Jenn’s Hello Veggie blog. As you may recall, this is where I found the marinara squash recipe; I’m hoping that this attempt will turn out better.

cropped-mori-nu-silken-tofuEven though I’m not much of an experimenter when it comes to cooking (which usually is an experiment for me anyway), I have a box of Mori-Nu Extra Firm Silken Tofu that needs to be used this week that I might add to the recipe. Or I just might wait until Wednesday or Thursday to use it. Wow, two new recipes for me in one week?!? Did anyone else feel the earth shift on its axis?!?

Get ’er dones

I’m still working on the scout photos, of course. Those are top priority today. I also need to call Applecare to see why GarageBand 09 won’t play most of #1 son’s GB 08 songs. If I have a chance, I might Ten-Minute Task a certain family room chair that still isn’t done.

Squashing My Enthusiasm

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Was it hard to sleep last night, wondering how Tasty Tuesday turned out? The wait is finally over! Here’s the 411:

Possibly the hardest part of making the marinara squash was, no surprise, cutting the squash in half. That sucker was rock solid! I almost succumbed to running next door and pleading with JJ, the organizational wiz and accomplished chef, to help with the unyielding vegetable, but instead I just pierced its skin and microwaved it for a few minutes. That helped immensely. As is par for the course for me, I put the halves fleshy part down on the baking pan, popped it in the oven, and then read the rest of the instructions. Duh! Will I ever learn? So I had to pull the pan out of the oven, season the squash skin as instructed, and push it back in for 30 minutes.

Chipotle logoWhen I looked at the baked spaghetti squash, I was naturally dismayed: There seemed to be a lot of work ahead. This is why I’m usually the simplest of vegans: I can live on salads, which are easy to make, and fruit. Or I can live at Chipotle and let them cook for me. Either way, I’m a happy camper.

But I digress . . . I sat down at the kitchen table to deseed the squash while watching “American Idol” (which we never did finish; got to catch up tonight). It was a long, torturous job, with many seeds hiding everywhere. After a long sigh, it was time to rake the spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Raking = gardening = too much work! But I really wanted to eat dinner, so rake away I did. I finally got a bowl full, added the marinara sauce, nixed the chives (too much added work), and sat down for a taste test while watching the lovefest on “The Biggest Loser.” 

The verdict: The best part probably was the marinara sauce. Otherwise, I think spaghetti squash is too bland for my tastes and much too much work for me to ever make it again. I’m glad I tried it, though; now I can cross it off my veggie bucket list. Oh, and #2 son’s comment was, “That doesn’t look at all like spaghetti.” Doesn’t taste like it either, son.

Ten-Minute Tasks

The NuShield is on the MacBook! It actually only took about five minutes to apply. You can see the edges of it, but it’s not too noticeable. The $64,000 question, though, is how does it handle the glare? Quite nicely, I’m happy to report. I think it cuts the glare a good 75-80 percent, making it a worthwhile acquisition for those glossy laptop screens. Recommended!

mac-mail-logo1The iMac’s TMT is stretching for much longer than 10 minutes, unfortunately. The good news was that the Apple store geniuses put the data back on the computer. But there have been some glitches: First, the system administrator password doesn’t work anymore, which means I can’t install new software or certain downloads. That has to be reset via the install disks (hassle!). Second, Mac Mail isn’t working properly. I can set up the boys’ mailboxes and mail comes in but doesn’t go out. Grrrr! Finally, not only did the so-called geniuses not install iLife ’09 like they said they would, they didn’t reinstall iLife ’08, which came with the iMac! Major grrrrr!!

So along with Kitchen Wednesday, today I will be solving the above iMac problems, hopefully, satisfactorily. Maybe I’ll also solve a few of the “Lost” mysteries in anticipation of tonight’s episode!

Tasty Tuesday (I Hope!)

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See that lone, naked spaghetti squash up there? I hope that at this time tomorrow I can regale you with tales of how tasty it was after it’s been cooked tonight!

80x80px-ls-365_organicI’m going to use a recipe that I found on Helloveggie.org for marinara squash. While it does have slightly more than three ingredients, one is the squash, another is marinara sauce (I just happen to have a jar of Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Pasta Sauce), and the others are olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives—I have everything! I’ve never eaten spaghetti squash before thought I’ve always wanted to, but I must admit that I was intimidated by the hard-shelled beast. But Helloveggie.org’s Jenn has me believing that I can successfully master the squash, so I’ll be tackling it tonight and, hopefully, enjoying it while I watch “The Biggest Loser.”

Oh, and yes, I photographed the squash on a very old Thomas the Tank Engine plate. And worse? We still use that plate (love that Thomas!).

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 Ten-Minute Tasks

There are so many needy contenders in the house! I’ve decided to pick the NuShield, which came a couple days ago. It’s pictured above in the plastic bag it came in and on top of the MacBook (the white border is the adhesive). It looks like it might take a good 10 minutes to carefully adhere it to my MacBook screen (I’m usually terrible at tasks like this), after which I will test it to see if it really helps with the glare. I like the idea of a screen protector, of course, but I’d love to cut down on the MacBook’s glossy screen’s glare.

I’ll also be spending at least 10 minutes when I bring the boys’ iMac back home and set it up again. The Apple store geniuses think there was a problem with the operating system, so they wiped the internal hard drive and reinstalled Leopard as well as iLife ’09. We have everything backed up on an external hard drive via Time Machine, but the geniuses want us to move everything back manually in case the problem also was backed up. Naturally, #1 son is worried he’ll lose some of his iTunes songs, but I think all will be right with his world.

Those TMTs are today’s get ’er dones!

Hoping for some knee answers today

airrosti2-logoFirst things first . . . as for yesterday’s get ’er dones, I failed to go to Best Buy (no biggie) and to hook up the dvd. Everything else turned out a-okay. I baked the potatoes using a recipe at http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/PotatoBaking.htm; the Mister and I liked them more than son #2 (but he prefers mashed potatoes); #1 son ate the usual white rice and barbeque sauce delicacy. I enjoyed the middle school PTO meeting (nice group of gals and a short meeting . . . a great mix!). The doctor’s appointment gave me absolutely no answers, but it was only a prerequisite for today’s Airrosti appointment. I dislike seeing orthopedic doctors who don’t run; they think the answer to every ache and pain is not to run. They don’t understand that runners NEED to run, especially when they’ve paid $65 to enter a half-marathon! Obviously, I wouldn’t run with a fracture, severe sprain, or illness, but I know that I can at least walk for a fair distance, so the half-marathon still is doable. We’ll see what the Airrosti folks say today.

By the way, #2 son lambasted me about not using Arial Black (ugh! that’s not readable for a three-page paper!) and not single-spacing his science project paper (I used 12-point Arial on 18-point leading). Of course, he didn’t bring home his scrawled instructions, so I could double-check that I did NOT see any details about spacing or the Arial Black. I contend it said to use 12-point Arial. Geesh! The only middle school grade that counts for high school is Spanish, anyway. If he gets a B on the project, so be it. I did finally convince #1 son and the Mister to quiz #2 son on his Spanish, since both of them have taken it. Even though #2 insisted he didn’t need their help, he later admitted that he thought it was a good thing. But we didn’t get to the U.S. History; he should have some time during school to study that review today. We’ll go over it after school. He also has his math final.

Today’s get ’er done menu:

• 9:30 a.m. massage (hurts so good!). This could help my knee, and I know it will help my chronically sore illiotibial bands.

• One load of laundry; put water in pool.

• Hook up dvd to bedroom TV.

• Hook up external drive to the old Powerbook and back up the boys’ extensive iTunes library (we’ve done periodic backups onto dvds; I’d like more redundancy).

• Call a recommended guitar teacher, so that #1 son can start lessons. Expect that the lessons will end after a month, just like the drum and art lessons, but feel assured that he will get something out of them.

• 1:30 p.m. Airrosti appointment (http://www.airrosti.com/). Practice not cringing beforehand.

• Continue excavation of master bedroom; consider bringing in a forklift (it’s a daunting task!).

I did get rid of one big box in the bedroom . . . I freecycled an unopened Epson Stylus printer from 2004! I’m sure the ink has long since dried up, but it should work. My “trash” is someone else’s “treasure.”

Moving forward!

First things first: Did I get ’er done yesterday? Sure did!
• Got those four photos uploaded to the neighborhood newsletter. Not my best work because the lights in the school’s gyms cycle frequently causing odd color shifts. Over the two-week winter break I also met my goal of processing all the girls’ and boys’ basketball photos I had taken (includes A and B teams for both seventh and eighth grade) and posting them to my photo website (susansternberg.smugmug.com). A BIG accomplishment for me given my sloooow Photoshop workflow.
• Did one load of laundry and even matched up all the socks (but what about all the unmatched socks still languishing sadly on the dryer? Definitely a get ’er done in the future!).
• Shopped at Kroger’s and snagged the cornflakes (although they were the generic Kroger’s brand; the Mister said they tasted good, thankfully) as well as a few other items, most of them healthy.
• Watched “Oprah.” I liked what she had to say about having a balanced life. I also see my weight go in the wrong direction when my life gets out of whack.
• I planned the week’s meals to the best of my woeful cooking ability. The Mister and son #2 liked the barbecued pork that I baked for them; picky son #1 didn’t and mostly ate only his white rice and barbecue sauce (oy!) and biscuit with grape jelly.

Now on to today! Here’s what’s on the get ’er done menu:
• Redo the custom header in Photoshop because I don’t like how small the type is on the header that comes with this theme.
• Research wide-angle zoom lenses for my cousin Andi, who is a novice Nikon D300 user (she bought one, took it to Africa on a safari, and it looks like she took fabulous photos with it despite her inexperience using it).
• Pay the Discover and VISA bills online.
• Follow the Macworld expo keynote speech at 11 a.m. to see what Apple has in store for us Apple fans in 2009. I’m mostly interested in any changes (especially in price) to the MacBook, which will be my next purchase.
• Call Walmart to find out about their no-receipt exchange policy (son #1 desperately wants to know this information, not that he’s about to call and find out himself, of course; that’s what moms are for!).
• Work on getting rid of the clutter in the master bedroom. We’ve lived in our house for 12 years and haven’t painted or replaced the carpet in this bedroom. That builder’s-grade beige paint looks pretty faded. We can’t paint or replace the carpet until we clear out all the clutter, which includes our old (big!) entertainment center that used to live in the family room until it was replaced by a simple TV stand. The Mister, unfortunately, put it in our bedroom, and now all kinds of things have grown attached to it, none of which resembles a TV. So that, its attachments, and all kinds of miscellaneous items that haven’t seen the light of day outside of the boxes they reside in need to find another home or place.

I plan to concentrate on working on the bedroom for the next two days. Let’s see how much I get done!