Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I am someone who enjoys online shopping in general. But I was very suspicious of StubHub for some reason. I thought it would be full of merciless scalpers trying to sell me their obstructed-view seats for front-row prices.

Wrong! Well, not totally--those guys are out there, of course. But overall, we've been thrilled with what we've seen. My husband got me tickets for the Madonna concert for a birthday surprise, and (other than the StubHub fees, which were less than $10) spent exactly face value but without any of the inconveniences of trying to shop online or in person within seconds of tickets going on sale, etc.

But last night was even better. We wanted to get the fun giveaway at the ball game but waited too long to buy our usual cheap(ish) seats. Rather than giving up, I clicked over to StubHub. Where I found tickets in the section behind the dugout selling for LESS than we were going to pay for our usual nosebleed seats. Less! I can only guess that some season-ticket holder (or other ticket holder) couldn't make it at the last minute and just wanted something back for his seats. And in doing so, he made my husband and kids very, very happy. I just wish StubHub had a "thank your seller" feature so I could let him or her know how grateful we were!

Paying less than nosebleed for infield seats? That worked for me! Now obviously we won't always get so lucky. But they also had our regular nosebleed seats for regular price, so at least we would have gotten in either way. And, if we ever find ourselves with tickets we can't use, it's a fantastic, trustworthy, legal way to get them to someone who will use them. And all those things work for me. Color me converted! What's working for you? Go share at Erin's blog, We Are That Family!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

MPM--How Is May Around the Corner?

Happy Monday, menu planners! I hope your week was lovely. Ours was a good one, with lots of fun--more on that below. This is a short week for me in the kitchen; we have good excuses to eat out at the end of the week, which is good, because I really lose steam for the kitchen by then. Our weather, after a glorious summery weekend, is turning chilly again (my poor tomato plant may never get outside) so I'm trotting out a few things before the warmth is here to stay.

Sunday: Sweet-and-Sour Pork, rice

Monday: Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Veggie Shu Mai from Trader Joe's, leftover tacos for the kids. (We didn't make it last week because we went to a baseball game instead.)

Tuesday: Chicken Broccoli Casserole, salad

Wednesday: freezer meal. Probably the South Philly favorites: gnocchi with crab sauce, eggplant parmesan

Thursday: Dining Out for Life. Probably at--wait for it--our pizza place. Sigh. But I do suggest clicking the link to see if your area participates. If so, please join; you go out to eat, your meal is regular price, but the restaurant donates a large portion of their proceeds to HIV/AIDS relief. Win-win. Even if it's just pizza again for me.

Friday: baseball game with the preschool! This is always a fun night and I am looking forward to seeing if my little guy can deal with the fireworks after this time!

Reviews from last week are a little light; I didn't make much new. I did make the crock pot tilapia from the Year of Crockpotting experiment. It was ok. I still don't know if the problem is my crockpot, my timing (I left it in a little long, but still under the outside time recommended), or that I shocked myself by deviating from the recipe by sprinkling with panko crumbs on top, but it was merely ok. Sigh.

However, the grand-slam hit of the week, as covered in many other blogs, was Wednesday Spaghetti. At the last second, I got the updated cellphone number of a babysitter and off I went to a gathering of local bloggers at her house. It was awesome. She lives in a great foodie area, and had hand-made mozzarella braids like the ones I remember from my childhood, four kinds of flavored oils, honey with Italian seasoning for dipping the ricotta salata, some great spaghetti and salad, and a bodacious selection of drinks and desserts brought by guests. Our hostess does this every week for a group of her girlfriends. This week, she graciously asked them to step aside and let our group invade. Despite not knowing a single one of us. ("I checked you out pretty thoroughly online," she assured us.) We all came away inspired to do our own Spaghetti Wednesdays, which is part of the idea, and we all came away having met new people and learned new stuff. She has a good list of who was there. She has a good description of the night. I was enormously impressed that she was able to park a car the size of a small school bus on a street that was not quite two cars wide. I was glad she took notes so I could learn all that she did. We talked Old School. (Go 186th.) We talked appetizers and I got a great new tip. Which you know I'll share later if it works for me. Other way cool women were there too, that alas, I didn't get to hang with this time, but I have my eye out for them next round! All of which to say: it was the best kind of meal, and even if it had been snack crackers in a package and fruit roll-ups, it would have still been the best kind of meal, nourishing in all ways. Many, many thanks to everyone who got the ball rolling, and most especially Lora and Jakezilla, who were consummate hosts for a wonderful meal and even better evening.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Hey VALMG--get well soon!

In honor of her surgery, this week's theme is Things That Are Mushy!

Here are this week’s four questions. I’m going on a diet of pureed foods soon so let’s see what you’ve got.

#1. What’s your favorite flavor of yogurt?

Safeway's black cherry. Yum.

#2. Got a recipe for a smoothie?

Not that I haven't shared already. There was a really good honeydew one I made, similar to this:
2 1/2 cups honeydew melon
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup of ginger ale or lemon and lime soda 6 ice cubes
Blend until smooth. Serves two. Sinfully delicious. Thanks to here for this recipe, which looks even better than the one I used.

#3. Got a recipe for split pea soup?

Nope. Totally wish I did.

#4. What’s your favorite kind of pudding?

Honestly? Pistachio. When it's not busy killing us with salmonella.

Want to play along or just wish VALMG well? Click on the button and head on over to Fun, Crafts, and Recipes!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WFMW--No-Touch Bathrooms

We were so, so lucky last night to luck in to great tickets on StubHub (another WFMW post!) for the baseball game last night. We were not quite as lucky that somewhere in the middle innings, there was a loooong rain delay. Everyone ran for the bathrooms, of course, and we joined in a little later, with our two preschool kids in tow.

You can just imagine what the bathrooms looked like after the rain and the rush. But never fear--we have introduced to our kids the concept of the no-touch bathroom. Which is just what it sounds like: a bathroom where you shouldn't touch anything--especially the potty. (These often go with "foot-flush potties.") And now my kids know: if you are in a no-touch bathroom, as interesting as that silver thing on the wall is--don't touch it. Usually you flip the seat up, sure, but here--don't touch it. I will grant you this is easier with a boy than a girl. But the overall concept totally works for me, and now when we walk in to a public restroom, the kids will ask: "Is this a no-touch bathroom?" And nine times out of ten, the answer is yes.

That's working for me. What's working for you? Go get great ideas from Erin at We Are That Family!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MPM--Keepin' On

Hello, menu planners! Reviews and links for last week below this week's menus. This week, in approximate order, as there are some evening events (baseball games, etc.) that I know are coming but I can't think which night.

Monday: onion quiche, salad, beets; probably these tilapia since I didn't make them on Sunday

Tuesday: crock pot chicken roll ups, veggie shu mai from Trader Joe's from the freezer. The kids may starve.

Wednesday: oh, I am so hoping to be at a bloggy gathering but alas, I'm having trouble finding a sitter. Pesky academic calendar!

Thursday: tacos

Friday: pizza, since we didn't make it last week, alas.

So, last week, this was great, although more involved than I wanted it to be. The chicken with almonds and green olives was wonderful but would take an alternate universe for it to be an "under an hour" dish for me. I will be very interested to see if Deb's recipes change when her baby comes though I suspect she has had enough awesome cooking experience that it won't change her very much. But if you are in the mood to dirty your food processor and chop or slice five ingredients, this is totally totally worth it. I also learned something this week: holy crow, the four drumsticks and four boneless skinless chicken thighs cost a ton less than equivalent amounts of chicken breast. But I am a dedicated white meat girl, so while I ate the boneless thigh I wasn't thrilled. And Deb was totally right--this is a really fatty recipe that is hard to skim with the bread soaking up the liquids. So next time--and don't misread my tone, there will be a next time--I think we'll split two chicken breasts and use those with four drumsticks and we'll all be happy--everyone's favorite parts, less fat.

We also had the lemon-scented quinoa. I used a shallot instead of the red onion (what I had but I would do so again), but the dressing was too much tahini for me. Next time I think some Annie's Goddess dressing or something else would be more to my taste...the sesame overwhelmed the lemon. But the basic idea is fabu. And the commenter who suggested a sprinkle of rice wine vinegar was totally right, and helped me work down yet another thing in my cabinet.

We also got to the Gourmet magazine black bean burgers. I heeded the suggestion to double the bread crumbs and used panko for lightness in both flavor and texture. And I would cheerfully eat the stuff from the food processor as a dip at any event in my life. The burgers held together, and my husband liked them, but the kids were unimpressed. Sigh.

Oh, and the Real Simple Ravioli? I stored the extra peas separately from the ravioli, then combined on the stovetop and added some cream left over from Easter cooking. Delicious. And even better with the leftover Easter ham.

Finally, we had forgotten just how much our kids love pesto. The one who normally won't touch non-wheat plant-based foods ate three bowls and had to be restrained from licking the bowl clean. And then he asked for a fruit smoothie. Miracle!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Hey, VALMG is back and talking about surgery--hope it goes well/went well!

#1. Sarafina’s suggestion. How far would you be willing to travel to satisfy a food craving?

Hmm. Half an hour, I think. In college, I did know a group of friends who drove from their dorm room in Philly for deep dish pizza in Chicago and then turned around and drove back---all in a weekend. But I've never gone that far for food!

#2. Have you ever eaten rabbit? What did you think?

I have. The chicken comparison didn't fool me. I thought it was greasier and just couldn't get past eating Fluffy.

#3. Have you ever made your own bread? How?

Yes--the New York Times 24 hour no knead bread, twice. The first time was awesome. Second time was fine but not as crusty. I don't have the slightest idea what was different between the two times.

#4. Where do you usually spend Easter and what do you usually eat?

Easter is one of the rotating holidays in our family. We do not host it as our yard is smallest and we are blessed to have lots of egg-hunting-aged cousins. Usually there's ham and lamb and turkey, mac and cheese, carrot mousse, salad, and other springy things (asparagus, usually).

If you want to play, click here or on the button and visit Fun, Crafts and Recipes! Speedy healing, VALMG.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

MPM--No Foolin'

Boy, last week's recipes looked great, didn't they? Too bad I didn't do any of them! Completely whiffed that I was going to the beach overnight one night and to the baseball game another. I did do the scallopine, which was ok but I need to try again (I have trouble working the temperature when pan-frying and so it wasn't as tasty as I would have hoped, and dark brown went to charred faster than I could finish the chicken. It's how we learn. I also had chicken leftover, so I found some sauce from a pork recipe that we loved enough that I saved the extra sauce and found we loved it as much on the chicken tenders. And the rest were freezer meals--including, finally, the Real Simple ravioli. With all that buildup it couldn't be a home run, but it was a solid ... well, single maybe. My kids won't eat ravioli, as it turns out. But the lemon added a nice springy touch, and I was able to use more of the out-of-control canned tomato collection to make Aid for Friends meals with the extras. For something similar, but better, I point you here, to this recipe, courtesy of the Accidental Hausfrau; it's Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach and Peas but I'll bet it would work well with ravioli too. Maybe I'll add my leftover spinach and some cream to the leftover sauce on Tuesday.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrated, with people and traditions you love.

Monday: from Smitten Kitchen, chicken with almonds and olives, lemon quinoa-chick pea salad, asparagus

Tuesday: leftovers, including ravioli

Wednesday: trying again on black bean burgers from Gourmet, with tacos for my taco-crazy kid. Sweet potato fries on the side.

Thursday: onion quiche. salad, and again, either this bulgar chickpea salad or kasha with onions from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Friday: back to pizza night, which will make my youngest dance with joy. How can I skip that?

I've gotten better lately about not overshopping...well, not by as much. I seem to only be able to cook for two or eight, so I need to continue to work on that. And I do like being able to see more of my fridge, and I'm getting calmer that maybe 7 people won't pop in for dinner so I don't need to be able to feed them at the drop of a hat. Progress.

What are you making this week? Go here for more inspiration!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Filch It Friday

From Chelsea, just living back up to my blogname!

You’re feeling: unmotivated
To your left: kitchen
On your mind: dinner
Last meal included: quiche
You sometimes find it hard to: declutter
The weather: spring!
Something you have a collection of: silver charms
A smell that cheers you up: hyacinth
A smell that can ruin your mood: asphalt
How long since you last shaved: yesterday
The current state of your hair: ponytail
The largest item on your desk/workspace (not computer): fishbowl
Your skill with chopsticks: lame
Which section you head for first in a bookstore: cookbooks
Something you’re craving: massage
How many times have you been hospitalized this year: none
Favorite place to go for a quiet moment: bed
You’ve always secretly thought you’d be a good: doctor
Something that freaks you out a little: raw chicken
Something you’ve eaten too much of lately: bacon
You have never: been to Asia
You never want to: do the dishes!

Also, FYI, this was a scheduled post. I'm techno-fasting today for Good Friday.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Ok, I admit it. Last week's entry was too long. It did occur to me that perhaps instead of one entry, it might have just as easily been five. Or at least three. But I know (thank you Statcounter) that lots of you (dozen) only come to see what's cooking on Mondays and you don't scroll. It's ok--really, it is--but for (the even fewer of) you who are curious about the week before, I felt like putting them all in one post was kinder. But maybe not.

So, a few changes. This week, menus first. Reviews second. And there were some GREAT links last week (and some losers) so hang in there.

I've had an unpublished post for months now that is all links to recipes I want to try. This week, since it's (hold me) spring break here, I thought I'd try a few of them. I'll try to list sources when I can.

Sunday: The Pioneer Woman's chicken scallopine, salad, asparagus. I may be the only one who eats it but hey. My efforts to impress my kids are not working anyway. Thanks to BooMama for pointing me to the PW recipe.

Monday: from Smitten Kitchen, chicken with almonds and olives, lemon quinoa-chick pea salad, sugar snap peas

Tuesday: Sweet 'n' Tangy Pot Roast as recommended by OrgJunkie herself! Figured we'd try to get this in before spring really comes in earnest, and we are supposed to have snow showers today. Good thing we have baseball tickets, right?! (World Champs t-shirts=worth the snow. W00t!)

Wednesday: freezer meal, courtesy of Trader Joe's and my impulse shopping; hoping to augment with this bulgar chickpea salad or kasha with onions from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything in the continuation of Eating Down the Fridge.

Thursday: Sweet-n-sour pork by Martha Stewart (c/o The Accidental Hausfrau), rice

Friday: Good Friday. We are supposed to fast, so I will probably wing it. I might make the onion quiche (since I have a ton of onions) and a ton of eggs (duh) from the new How to Cook Everything, but that seems a little self-serving as I am the only person who would enjoy it. The same thing is true for the fish dishes I want to try; my husband is hit-or-miss on fish, and my kids think it's "stinky" and accuse me of serving skink every time I make it.

Saturday: clean out the fridge day (leftovers). And for Easter, we're bringing macaroni and cheese (already made and in the freezer--go me!), carrot mousse, and sausage balls I made for Christmas but just excavated in the freezer doing the EDF challenge. (oops)

So. Speaking of the EDF challenge...we're still kind of living it here. Between the economy and the more thoughtful consumption the challenge inspired, I'm going back through both my piles of recipes I cut out to try later (and the cyber version I wrote about above), and going through my cabinets to see what is in there that I bought to try with some recipe that has either disappeared in to the pile or is gone completely. Hence, recipes that call for bulgar and kasha and all kinds of oddities (for us). Chances are, I didn't have to actually go purchase any of them. I have also recommitted to my favorite veggie stand, which routinely undercuts all my markets by orders of magnitude. (Lemons, 7 for $1; avocados, 79 cents each. You'd think you were in California.) I am sticking with the "bring in one bag, check out when full" mantra and finding less waste comes home that way too.

I made the day-ahead mashed potatoes from here and oh, my. I skipped the onion salt and the butter, actually, because despite using the suggested nine potatoes, the cream cheese and sour cream amounts seemed...luxurious, let's say. And, it was. And we all ate potatoes as though they were the only thing on the plate, despite some delicious peas and good turkey burgers (see below). But the potatoes? Clearly the big hit of that meal. Thank you, Cynthia Matzat, wherever you are!

The turkey burgers from last week were from a recipe from the paper. I was thrilled to use it since all it required me to buy was the turkey. They were certainly easy enough, and I discovered in EDF that I could have fed the squirrels all winter with the nuts I had, so it was a good way to work down the pistachios.(Of course, that night they announced a pistachio recall, but mine were from the freezer so I figured I was ok.) Predictably, the burgers were a little bland (but of course, in the world of my children, that works well), but I loved the cooking method and will try to use it in the future, especially since I now have the 12-inch not-non-stick skillet that The Splendid Table told me I needed. They were right. There have been at least three recipes (this, the amazing pears from last week, the braised leeks from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper) I've made that nothing else I own would have worked for. And meanwhile, don't use any pistachios, but maybe another nut would be good with these. Hazelnuts, maybe? I have a bag of those hanging around too. And at least the salmonella scare inspired more cabinet cleanout, right?

Pistachio-Crusted Turkey Burgers
makes 4 servings

1 lb ground turkey, formed into 4 patties [I made 5] (dark turkey eat, or a mixture of dark and light, will work best)
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the burgers with salt and pepper to taste on both sides.
2. Place the pistachios on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Coat the patties with the pistachios on all sides, pressing in gently.
3. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place teh patties in the skillet; cook until nuts are slightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, cook the other side.
4. Transfer skillet with patties to oven; bake until cooked through and interior of burgers are 165 degrees when measured with an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009


#1. Suggest a question for FFOF. Something fun is in store for the one whose question is chosen.

What's your favorite thing to make with five ingredients or less? (Salt, pepper, water, etc. not included.)

#2. Share instructions on how to make your favorite smoothee or shake.

Our Favorite Smoothie

fresh pineapple
orange juice
one banana
optional: blueberries or raspberries; plain yogurt

Throw in blender and enjoy!

#3. What’s in your favorite panini?

Am I hopelessly unhip to admit I don't have one? I'm not a hot sandwich girl (except for "Rachels"--Reubens made with turkey instead of corned beef) and I don't think I've ever had one!

#4. Share a recipe for potato salad.

I have to admit that I am a fan of "My Mother's Potato Salad" from a community cookbook I have:
"Go to store's deli counter. Say, 'I would like three pounds of potato salad, please.' Come home and transfer to your own bowl. Serve."

When I make it myself, it's pretty basic: peel, cube, and boil potatoes; dressing is mayo mixed with red vinegar. Chop up some celery in to really small pieces, and, if feeling fancy, some chives or scallions as well. Salt & pepper to taste. This is also my macaroni salad recipe!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

WFMW--Backwards Edition--soy milk and tooth whiteners

Hello, blog-advisors! I need two suggestions from the world of the web. This post was actually written a year ago, and I kept missing the backwards WFMWs! But I'm still very interested in your replies.

1) My boys are completely dedicated to a particular brand of light soy chocolate milk, which has saved me as it has been a winter of runny noses and avoiding dairy to keep mucus production low. To my own surprise, after a bout of my own sickness, I realized I felt better without dairy too and am contemplating skipping it on a more routine basis. While some things will leave my diet permanently only with immense struggle (hello, pizza, it is you I crave the most), really, on a daily basis, it's the milk in my cereal that I have most frequently. Do you have a soy or rice or almond milk that you adore and have found to be a workable substitute?

2) On a lovey-dovey night recently, my four-year-old son and I were giggling as he was brushing his teeth and I said, "Let me see those pearly whites! You know that's what some people call teeth, because of their pearly-white color." And with the beautiful brown eyes only a four year old can muster, he looked lovingly at me and said, "Yeah! And they can call yours 'golden!'"

Um, Ouch. And I gave up soda and chocolate for Lent! And I don't drink coffee!

So apparently I should be in the market for a tooth whitener. Any you love?

My goldens and I thank you.

Feeling helpful today? Go share what you know with the wondering at We Are THAT Family, the new home of WFMW.