Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Moving to a new area is always difficult. I had the realization a couple days ago that we have officially lived here for a month. Wow. A month. It seems like it's been a long time already but has flown by at the same time. When The Hubble came home Thursday and told me about a co-worker's son's birthday party on Saturday I was pretty excited to go.

The party would start with a tour at the local fire station. After the tour, the party posse would head to the guy's house and continue there. I figured if nothing else, Little Butt would get to meet some new kids and have a new and different experience.

So we went. Little Butt did get to meet some new friends. She got to look inside a fire station.

 Meet some real firemen.This one was showing her one of those heat viewer machines. I have no idea what the official term is but I like heat viewer machine thingy. I think it has a nice flow to it.

She got to see EMT and fire trucks. She even got to "drive" one of the firetrucks!

She tried on some fireman boots (though she wasn't extremely thrilled that I forced this photo op on her).

She got some nifty gifts...

And scored a cool hat!

We even got a chance to get a family photo taken! Woohoo!! 

She had a good time at the fire station. But next up was the party!! 

There were tons of toys to play with at the house. There was a huge pool with a slide, a jumpy balloon house with balls inside, and a swing set with yet another slide. When we first arrived Little Butt was extremely curious about all the toys...especially the pool.

She ventured into the pool and found that water sprayed down from the top of the slide.

Hmmmm...let's take a look...

Nope! I'm outta here!

So we checked out the swings.

Climbed up the playhouse.

Thought about sliding...

Then thought better of it!

Mommy get me down!

Then we tried jumping...

But that got tiring.

Let's try this pool thing again...

Okay...not too bad...

Balls are fun...and safe...this is pretty cool...

On second thought...this is AWESOME!!!!!!

And the slide didn't end up being too scary either.

All in all our Memorial Day weekend was pretty great. We spent it with several different types of heroes. Though the weekend was fun, we experienced novel opportunities, and met some great new friends. But throughout the entire weekend, as the wife and daughter of soldiers, the reason for the holiday weekend was never forgotten.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beef with Snow Peas

As I've mentioned before, The Hubble and I really like Asian cuisine. We would pretty much eat it every day of the week if we could. One of my goals for the year is to make my own sushi even!

When we first got married, almost 8 years ago, I made this dish for The Hubble and it's been in our regular rotation ever since. I've made changes to the original recipe over the years. I also seem to change it every time I make it. Sometimes I go spicy, sometimes not; it all depends on my mood really.

This recipe comes from the red Betty Crocker cookbook that I received as a wedding gift so many years ago. Here's how I make it:

Gather together my ingredients.

I start my prep work by cleaning off the snow peas and see that little bugger on the top of this pod? That little string looking guy?? Yeah that one...

Go ahead and just snap him off. Thank you. Continue to do this to all of those little guys.

Now cut your steak into slices. If you don't want them too long, cut them in half also.

Now we are ready to start cooking!

Heat your oil in a wok. I usually use sesame oil but today I only had peanut oil. You can use vegetable or canola oil as well. When your oil is heated, toss in your garlic for about 30 seconds to a minute.

Now we throw in our steak. I do a lot of tossing and throwing in my kitchen, and you can tell from the mess I make, believe me!!

Now, before the meat cooks too much you want to season it a bit with some salt...

And pepper.

Then cook until the meat is pretty much browned, about 3 minutes. I like mine to be extra tender so I leave it slightly pink because it will cook more as we go along.

Now we pour in our beef stock (or broth, whichever you prefer).

And bring all that juice and broth to a nice boil. Once it is boiling, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, you mix some water and cornstarch together, stir it until you get a nice milky base.

Next you add in the stuff to make your sauce. To the cornstarch and water mixture add your soy sauce and ginger. Mine is super red and delicious because I also added in some chile paste with garlic. But you can omit that step if you aren't into the spicy stuff.

Now pour that sweet (or spicy) nectar right into the wok with the meat and juice.

Let it boil and cook for a minute or two to allow the sauce to start thickening.

Then toss in your snow peas...

Let these cook and simmer about 5 minutes to get the pods a bit tender but still slightly crunchy and fresh.

Now serve it over rice and enjoy!

Beef with Snow Peas
Adapted from Betty Crocker's BigRed Cookbook

2 pounds beef round or flank steak, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
2 Tablespoons oil (sesame, peanut, vegetable, or canola)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or a heaping spoonful of pre-chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 can (10.5 ounces) condensed beef broth or beef stock.
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 to 6 ounces snow pea pods
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (optional)

  1. Snap tips and strings from pea pods.
  2. Remove fat from beef and slice into 2-inch strips.
  3. Heat wok over high-heat. Add oil until heated. Add garlic to heated oil. Add beef to oil and garlic.
  4. Salt and pepper beef. Cook until almost done, browned on all sides but still slightly pink, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in broth. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix cornstarch and water together until smooth. Add soy sauce, ginger, and chile paste (if desired). Boil and stir a minute or two until sauce starts to thicken.
  7. Add snow peas and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Prevention Dance it Off DVD Review

As we know, I've lost quite a bit of weight recently. I often have people ask me what DVDs, exercises, and or books I have used to lose this weight. So I am going to do a series of reviews of some of my favorite DVDs.

Today, let's talk about my ultimate favorite DVD. The one I always reach for when I want something fun and motivating. Prevention Dance it Off .

This DVD, like it says, is a dance DVD. It starts off with a bit of a warm up. They teach you a few steps and moves.

After the warm up are four different dance styles. You have hip hop, latin, jazz, and ballet. These are all followed by a cool down.

You can choose to do routines in a continuous order for a workout that is about 50 minutes long, or you can choose to do just one style.

Each dance routine is about 10 minutes long and the warm up and cool down are each 5 minutes.

The routines do take some time to get to know. I think it took me about 3 to 5 times with each routine to really figure it out. I would suggest doing one routine until you figure out the steps before moving on to the next one.

However, once you have the routines down, this DVD is so fun and enjoyable (if you like to dance anyway). The moves are challenging and I work up a pretty good sweat when I do the entire DVD. The ladies dancing on the DVD are fun and upbeat and they present a range of body types.

This is by far my favorite DVD, but I did have to learn it first. It's not one of those you can pick up and expect to start sweating to right away.

What is your favorite type of exercise? Do you have any favorite DVDs?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chicken with Forty (Twenty) Cloves of Garlic

The Hubble and I are not television people. As a matter of fact, we didn't have "television" for about 6 years. We had a television...but we only used it to watch DVDs. When Little Butt came along and we moved to a tiny town called Philadelphia...NY (Didn't know there was one?? Me neither...until I moved there). Since there was absolutely nothing to do in Philadelphia, NY (they didn't even have a grocery store) we decided to finally bite the bullet and get 'television.'

The magic of television consumed me and I immediately discovered the two channels that would save my sanity that year...The Disney Channel and The Food Network. I quickly picked out my favorites from both channels and filled the DVR with tons of shows and recordings. As I watched The Food Network shows I would take notes and jump on my computer to put the recipes that interested me in my 'recipe box.'

I fell madly in love with the Barefoot Contessa, or Ina Garten. She's just so sweet and lovely and I drooled over pretty much everything she would make. One of the first recipes I tried was her Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. Upon taking his first bite, The Hubble fell in love with Ina as well.

Now, I haven't made this recipe since then so it just goes to show what an amazing recipe it is since The Hubble asked for it specifically after a couple years. Now I will share it with you. However, I didn't make Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic since it was just us...mine is more Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic. Don't be scared because of the amount of garlic used. I promise...The Hubble still loved me afterward and he still gave me kisses. That's true love for ya folks. Okay...on to the food!


Separate all the little garlic cloves.

Throw them in a pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds.

Take them out and drain them.

Peel off all the little skins and set them aside.

Dry off the chicken with a paper towel.

Sprinkle on some salt.

And some pepper.

Melt some butter in a Dutch Oven.

And cook the chicken in batches, browning skin side down first, then flip them (about 3 to 5 minutes on each side).

At this point, if you are like me and JUST remembered you were supposed to make garlic mashed potatoes with this meal, you can call in reinforcements. I put The Hubble to work peeling the potatoes. A man has to work for his supper right?? Or is that sing?? Either way...

Here's the flipped chicken. Nice and brown on the top, now it needs to brown the bottom.

Finish browning all the chicken and set aside on a separate plate. The chicken doesn't have to be fully cooked at this point because we are going to cook it some more in a bit.

Throw all your garlic in the pot.

And saute until they are nice and golden brown (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Pour in 2 Tablespoons of the Cognac and all the wine and bring to a boil.

Go ahead and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all those bits loose while you are at it.

Return the chicken...

With the juices, back into the pot.

Sprinkle with thyme...

Cover and simmer on low heat about 30 minutes or until all the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

When all the chicken is cooked and you can hardly stand it anymore because it smells so good and if you don't eat it now you might just have to gnaw off your own arm...before you lose a limb...

Put the chicken in a separate dish.

And take about a 1/2 cup of the sauce/juice out of the pot and put it in a separate bowl.

Add in the flour and whisk it all together.

Then whisk that mixture back into the pot (we do it this way so you don't have big flour clumps in the sauce when you are done).

Add in the rest of the Cognac and some cream. Raise the heat and let the sauce boil for a few minutes until it's the desired thickness.

Then scoop some of that delicious sauce onto the chicken, serve and enjoy!

Chicken with Twenty Cloves of Garlic
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa via The Food Network


  • 2 whole heads garlic, about 20 cloves
  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken (I used a package of thighs and a package of drummies)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels. 
  3. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. 
  4. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 
  5. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. 
  6. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. 
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 
  8. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. 
  9. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
  10. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. 
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. 
  12. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes.
  13. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. 
  14. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.
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