Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Movie Quest

I just saw Inglorious Basterds. It was REALLY good. The movie was long but really well done - the long parts set the tone for the parts to come. I would highly recommend it :)

I can check that off my list and go on to District 9 next!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Oscars

Sunday is the Oscars. Normally I just watch for the outfits and the gossip. This year I've actually seen some of the movies and am going to an Oscar Party. I also want to watch more of the movies before Sunday so I can be better informed on who to root for.

I have seen:
Julie & Julia
Up In the Air
The Blind Side
Princess and the Frog
Star Trek (1/2 of)

I have not seen:
Inglorious Bastards
The Hurt Locker
An Education
A Serious Man
District 9

I will be seeing Inglorious Bastards tomorrow at a friends house. I'm thinking of going to the movies Saturday night and seeing Avatar (it should be seen on the big screen). I don't know if I can sit through Precious.

Any suggestions?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken in Peanut Sauce

I came home last night and had 20 minutes to make a side dish for some crock pot chicken I was making. A friend was coming over for dinner and I wanted something easy, tasty and relatively healthy. This fit the bill on all counts.

I omitted the chicken since I was serving chicken but otherwise kept everything else the same. The dish was rich and flavorful and just spicy enough!!

Spicy Soba Noodles with Chicken in Peanut Sauce
(Adapted from CL)

1 carrot, peeled
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
16 ounces boneless/skinless chicken breast
10 ounces dry soba noodles, cooked and drained
6 tablespoons sliced green onions
6 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrots into long and thin strips.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup broth, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, pepper and garlic.

In a large saucepan, add chicken and the remaining 1 2/3 cups broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is done, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain and shred chicken when cool enough to handle.

In a large bowl, toss together carrots, peanut sauce, chicken and cooked noodles - sprinkle with onions and peanuts to serve.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

So Funny I Cried

A friend sent this to me a couple of weeks ago. I have been forwarding it ever since.

One of the reasons I find it so hilarious is that I am Russian AND Jewish. I can honestly tell you that it is 100% true (especially the DVD and light dimmer parts).

I am definitely planning on seeing this comic as soon as I can.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I was all excited today because I was going to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a hamper. Ours fell apart (helped along by the monkeys constant sitting on it) after about 5 years.

I was all excited. I even skipped the gym for this. First I went to the grocery store and then I hit Bed, Bath and Beyond with my trusty coupons (and my friend in tow).

I got there at 9:05pm. One little problem - in the San Fernando valley apparently people don't leave their houses after 9pm!!! The store closed at 9pm!!! Seriously?!?!?!

My friend suggested Target. Off we go to target. You'd think that there would be some nice hampers at Target. Well - you'd be wrong.

Now I'm home and pouting and hamper-less. I can't go tomorrow so my instant gratification of a new hamper is not meant to be. Hopefully Friday!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's in The Eye of The Beholder

At the birthday party we were at on Saturday, the monkeys kept coming up to me wanting water, or just to hang out for a minute, or to see what I was doing. At one point, the little monkey was fighting with another little girl over a ball they both wanted. When I told my monkey to just let her have it, she did, but not before she pushed her.

I am constantly worried about the monkeys' behavior and making sure that they behave.

Tonight my mom spoke to the RGP who told her that my monkeys are SO well behaved and well mannered. They said hello to everyone. They said good-bye and gave hugs and kisses to everyone. They said please and thank you. They came up to me often just to be with me. They spoke to everyone who spoke to them.

As a parent I am always looking for how to better my monkeys and focusing on their negatives, so I can turn them in to positives. I forget to look at them with fresh eyes, seeing all their positive traits and their warm, loving hearts.

I will try to do better every day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Birthday Party

On Saturday night we went to a kids birthday party of a long time childhood friends' daughter. They're Russian like us. It was a great party and the monkeys had a fantastic time.

I was sitting there watching the monkeys play and realized that you would only hear the following at a Russian birthday party:

RGP (Russian Grandparents) - The brother was absolutely beautiful as a baby and all through child hood. She (the birthday girl) was not a pretty baby.
Me - Um, she is absolutely beautiful.

RGP - She (the birthday girl) is absolutely freezing!
Me - It's 65 degrees and she's in a full on long sleeve dress and stretch pants about to walk in to an indoor play place.

RGP in-law - She (the mother) has gained weight!
RGP mother of my friend - I don't think so. What do you thing Julia?
Me - Um, she looks great like she always does.

RGP - Julia! You look so great! I hardly recognized you! I can't even tell you're your parents daughter!
Me - Um, Thanks (seriously, how bad did I look before)?!?!?!?!

RGP - Julia! You've lost weight! Do you not eat?
Me - Nope, just go to the gym.

RGB (Russian Birthday Guest) - RGP, hi how are you? Why are you eating that sandwich? Look how many calories it has (mind you, the RGP is in her 60s and has earned the right to eat whatever she wants).

I realized a long time ago that:
1) My people can not do real compliments, only ones that are dripping in criticism or put downs
2) My people have no filter and no one is safe, not even a birthday child
3) We are all so used to this behavior that no one even bats an eye when it's done

Thursday, February 18, 2010


As nice of a sentiment this is, somehow I don't think so. I would not go on a date here, ever.

What do you guys think?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day

I haven't had a day like this in a very long while.

I woke up and relaxed in bed. I met up with a friend at 10am and off we went to a spa :)

We were there from 11am-3pm. I got a full body scrub. It was amazing and now I am very soft. From 1pm-3pm, while me friends was getting two treatments, I used the sauna, the jacuzzi, read the 10 magazines I brought with me, that I normally don't have the time to read and had a mud face mask poolside.

It was fabulous.

After we came home we picked up the kids and went to Japanese barbecue. It's just like Korean barbecue, but with a Japanese twist. Miso Beef, Ahi Tuna Poke, etc... The kids all love it because they get to cook their own food with tongs. The adults love it because it's relatively cheap and extremely tasty.

Everyone is now asleep. What a great day! Our presidents would be proud :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sleep Over

They grow up so quickly. Only last month I was worrying about my 7 year old having her first sleep over. Now both my monkeys are sleeping over at their friends' house (the one whose house the big monkey slept over at last time).

I can't believe I let my 5 year old also sleep over, but she was crying. And begging. And promising to be good! She's going to sleep with my friends 13 year old daughter in her room, while the "big" girls (my big monkey, her BFF and their 2 other BFFs) sleep in the living room!

Here's to hoping I won't be called at 3am to come pick her up!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sugar Coated

As much as I know that children should have less "sugar coating" at school, sometimes it is nice to see them all enjoy something, without the harsh reality of disappointment.

In the monkeys' elementary school, either all kids get Valentines cards, or no kids get Valentines cards. the "to" line is even left off of the cards so that no one can feel left out. Both my monkeys were SO happy today. They were going on and on how ALL of the kids gave them Valentines Day cards, candy, treats, etc...

Seeing their smiling faces, keeping them in the dark about the harsh realities of the world not being fair, doesn't seem so wrong :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentines Day in School

I decided to do what I always do, in terms of cards. I bought Wizards of Waverly Place cards and Bakugon cards. The Wizards cards come with stickers. The Bakugon cards come with tattoos. I have got to say, cards are so much cooler then when I was a kid. Back then, cards didn't come with stickers, tattoos, bookmarks or pencils attached. The also didn't have cool characters on them. Also, I had to walk four miles in the snow every day - OK, not really :)

I will also probably just make a fruit salad for the class party, because there will already be TONS of candy consumed. On Sunday, I think we will make the monkey's a special breakfast of waffles with powdered hearts on top.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kids Self Esteem

I was at a kids birthday party this weekend. The kids that attended this party were all dressed really stylishly. The moms are really into designer clothes.

One of the little girls (8 or 9 years old) was wearing cute, designer, jeans. I saw her coming out of the restroom and her shirt wasn't down over her jeans. The jeans were unbuttoned and unzipped. The girl in question is a little chubby and had clearly outgrown her jeans. Instead of dressing her in something comfortable, for some reason, the mother decided to put her in a pair of jeans that didn't fit her anymore.

I wonder what this little girl thought? Was she self conscious the whole party? Did she feel ashamed, in the back of her mind, about being chubby?

What added insult to injury was that when cake was served, she yelled out to her, in front of the rest of us, "only take 2 bites". There are times when I stop my monkeys from eating cake, but that's usually if they're on a second piece and will start jumping off the walls, not because I don't want them to eat the calories.

In this society, I think we are all fairly vigilant about making sure our kids are healthy and have a healthy weight. Yet somehow, I think the way this mother is going about this, will cause many more problems than she is trying to solve.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentines Day in School

We normally do the store bought cards with a pencil tucked in.

Any new suggestions? Any suggestions for treats for the classroom? Should I do heart cupcakes?

What about something savory but Valentines oriented??

Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's Easy - Italian Drip Beef

I love to cook. I love to feed people. I love for people to come over and eat what I've made.

As much as I love to cook, I hate food that involves hours of active work time and a plethora of ingredients. The joke is that when my friends tell me how good my food is, my answer is always "it's EASY". In fact, to me, the biggest compliment to my cooking is when people take my recipes and try to make the same food at home.

I read Cooking Light, I frequent the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, I read food blogs and I peruse cookbooks. I mark recipes I want to make. Looking through the recipes I have tagged, there is a running theme. There aren't too many ingredients and I have most of the ingredients at home (or can easily substitute).

One of my favorite blogs is The Pioneer Woman. Her food always looks AMAZING and super tasty. The best part about her recipes - they are all low on the number of ingredients and pretty darn simple to make (or at least she makes it look that way).

This weekend I made her Italian Beef Drip. Wow!! For about 5 minutes of work and a couple of ingredients, this is about as good as it gets.

I modified her recipe just a little bit to use what I had on hand, but I don't think that she would be too upset. If you read her blog, she's all about the simplicity and using what's on hand.

If you want to see pictures of what this looks like, check out the link above. I tried to take pictures of mine and they did not turn out well.

Italian Drip Beef
Servings: 10

1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 2.5 To 4 Pounds
1 can Beef Consomme Or Beef Broth – used 2 cups Turkey broth, because it’s what I had
3 Tablespoons (heaping) Italian Seasoning – used 3 tablespoons of Pasta sprinkle and 1 tablespoon of Northwoods seasonings from Penzeys, because it’s what I had

1 teaspoon Salt – omitted because the Northwoods blend has salt in it
¼ cups Water
½ jars (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, With Juice
Buttered, Toasted Deli Rolls

Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid. Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven* for 5 to 6 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and falling apart. Remove from oven. With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind. Serve immediately, or keep warm over a simmer on the stove.

I used my crock pot – combined all ingredients and set on low for 8 hours.
May make the day before, then store in the refrigerator. Remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.

Serve on buttered, toasted rolls. Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired. Serve with juices from the pot.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I hate being sick. Maybe it's because I don't like staying home and am not very good at it.

I have gone through the shows on my DVR queue, I only have one book left to read (I read quickly) and I am usually sick on a weekend when we have a lot of plans.

This weekend I should have stayed in bed all weekend. However, we had a kids birthday party to go to (it was so much fun). I also wanted to hang out with a girl friend going through some stuff (we ended up just going for coffee).

Tomorrow my in-laws are taking the monkeys for the afternoon and I will try to get some rest and not talk to anyone, or do anything. Hopefully that will be all my body needs to heal it self before work on Monday.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Months ago I got tickets to see Mary Poppins for our family, for this Sunday. This is the last performance of the show. Tickets have been sold out for months. The girls were SO excited.

A couple of weeks ago, we got invited to the big monkey's friends birthday party, for this Sunday. This wasn't just any friend - this was the first friend she ever made.

A couple of days ago I realized that the events were on the same day. Today I finally was able to find people to take my Mary Poppins tickets.

Tonight I get a note on Facebook reminding me about the party, TOMORROW! I ran to look at the invite - sure enough, the party is on Saturday, not Sunday.

So, I gave away my tickets for nothing.

If I am this senile now, I am SO scared for the future.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Random Thoughts

I was watching The Real Housewives of Orange County and Lynne was having a housewarming party in her new home. These are my random thoughts while watching this episode:

  • You move in to a smaller, rented house to save money and yet the house is on THE BEACH! I'm willing to guess that the house is not that much cheaper than the rent or mortgage you were spending living in your old house.
  • You have a house warming party where the men talk about spending less money in this economy - all the while, the party is catered. Couldn't the guests make their own drinks? Also, the food was sliders. Really??? How about you just make some pasta and salad. Cheaper , healthier and easier to eat at a dinner party (it was comical watching them with their knives and forks trying to cut in to the sliders)!
  • One of the guests, Jim, talks about reducing his spending habits as well. A couple of episodes back he bought his wife an enormous diamond necklace. Way to save there, buddy.
  • Lynne talks about how she is working so much now on her cuff business. At the same time, she has time to spend hours a day in the gym.
  • Tamra and Lynne try to talk Vicki in to going to a workout class with them. The class is two hours long and then they go to lunch afterwords. They are surprised when Vicki can't take 5 hours out of her day (driving to the gym, working out, changing, lunch and driving back). Seriously??
  • All Vicki talks about is how much she works. I don't remember her working that much in season one. Someone has something to prove.

OK - I have no idea why I am so invested in these women. Lol! Also, I have NO IDEA why this episode irked me so much but I just want to ask these couples what the hell they are thinking half the time?!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Every Sunday we make waffles from scratch, whipped cream from scratch, etc... This past Sunday we decided to add some cocoa powder to the whipped cream to turn it in to chocolate whipped cream.

The little monkey, who is 5 tried the chocolate whipped cream and made a face. She said that she didn't really like it. I told her that I thought that she actually did like it. Her response:

"Oh yeah! Well then why don't you open up my head, look inside my brain and tell me if I really like it?!?!?!"

The older monkey was at her friends house a couple of week ago for breakfast and got super excited when her mom brought out frozen waffles. She said that she only gets home made ones at home and was SUPER excited to GET TO eat the frozen ones, like her friend. She has also been begging me to make hamburger helper (sigh).

I am depriving my children of processed food, lol!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Working Out

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a girl friend and she wondered how anyone could work out hard enough to pass out?! Well tonight I found out.

I am in pretty good shape - I go to the gym, get on the treadmill, take a hard core Zumba class multiple times a week. I joined a new gym for a trial period and was given 4 private training classes thanks to my Amex. Tonight I had my first private training session.

She put me through the ringer. Lunges holding a medicine ball, side lunges holding a medicine ball, free weights, weights on the equipment, ab work, etc... I hate doing workouts half-assed - at least the ones I am paying for (ie personal training, classes I'm paying for). I like to have correct form and to push myself to finish the reps/sets.

I finished the workout. And promptly felt DRUNK. Not the good drunk but the nauseous, shaking, dizzy drunk. I slowly walked out of the gym, got in to my car, drove to the gas station, started filling up and layed my head down on the center console. Then I drove home SLOWLY, praying that I wouldn't pass out.

I guess I now know how a person can pass out/throw up during/after working out..

Monday, February 1, 2010

Daughter in law of the Year

My mother-in-law called me about a month ago and invited me to a concert to see a Russian Lounge singer. I had heard of her, but I didn't know any of her songs.

I got there 1/2 an hour late (LA traffic sucks) but she had only begun 5 minutes prior. Her concert was almost 3 hour long. I was so bored that I decided to post both on facebook and twitter just to get through it. Allow me to piece both together:

6:05pm - off to see Dolina - fashionably late thanks to an accident on the 101!

6:30pm - just got here and, darn it, she started 1/2 an hour late.

7:09pm - Old man in sequined rhinestone Ed Hardy jacket just gave her flowers.

7:58pm - is at a Russian Lounge singer concert - with my mother in law - please help me! The things we do for family.

8:02pm - and now she sang a Blues song in English! She doesn't speak English.

8:09pm - Her current outfit - black fishnet leggings, leather daisy duke short and a purple sequined halter top! She's 55 years old!

8:13pm - and now she's "attempting" Just The Two Of Us - oy vey!

8:57pm - Oh HELL NO - she's killing I Will Survive!! Bitch better step off!!

Man that concert was painful!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chocolate Bundt Cake

It had been a while since I had baked (I took a break after the holidays). I knew I wanted to make something, but I also wanted it to be light. This Chocolate Bundt Cake fit the bill. I saw the recipe on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board and knew that I had to make it.

The cake was very good - moist, chocolaty and light. I made it in a regular sized bundt pan, but since it calls for a smaller bundt, it came out really low. Next time I will follow the suggestion of the recipe and use a loaf pan. It also had a difficult time coming out. I have a silicone bundt and thought that I wouldn't have to spray the pan - I WAS WRONG :) Luckily, my family doesn't care about looks of dessert ;)

Chocolate Bundt Cake
A 6-cup Bundt pan is smaller than the standard size. You can also use a 9-inch round cake pan.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso granules
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add butter, egg whites, and egg; beat with a mixer at low speed 1 minute. Beat at high speed 1 minute. Add milk, espresso granules, and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Pour batter into a 6-cup Bundt pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 piece)

CALORIES 192 (28% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 3.5g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 27mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.8g; SODIUM 225mg; PROTEIN 4g; FIBER 1.8g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2002

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I love to organize. Not at home - although I really try. Not in my car - although that would be great too.

I am very organized when it comes ot my computer. I file all attachments and documents in their own folders. I have my pictures organized by month and topic. My outlook email never has more than 80 items in its inbox.

The one I'm most proud of is my recipe files. Any time I see a recipe online that I want to try, I copy the text in to a word document. Then I file that recipe in my "2010 To Try" Folder. Once I make the recipe I move it to the "2010 Made" folder. Every year I go through recipe I never made and review them to see if I still want to make them. The ones I REALLY want to make move to my 2010 To Try folder, the ones I realize that I will never make get trashed and the rest stay in their respective years just in case I

Monday, January 25, 2010


I have been thinking recently about friendships. There are times I get in a rut when I think that no one likes me...or that my friends have stooped caring...or that I don't have enough friends.

And then I realize....

A any point in time I can call up at least 10 people who would be happy to hear from me. I can always find someone to go to coffee, drinks or dinner with if I am in the mood for that. When I travel to SF I have my pick of friends who want to see me.

For all that, and much, much more I am truly blessed. I have many acquaintances and many friends. I know the difference - but both make me who I am. I am a part of a community, in fact a number of communities and I am thankful for them all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random Comments from my Weekend

I have heard the following comments this weekend:

Big Monkey - You have to pick us up from Taekwondo because when I got out of school the biggest rain drop fell on my face! It was like hail! Proof that it never rains in LA since my big monkey was TRAUMATIZED!

Friend - You keep burning those napkins - you're like a necrophiliac. Um, no, you mean pyromaniac! In fact, ANYTHING BUT necrophiliac!

Big Monkey - (As I was telling my husband about the conversation above) Mommy, what's necrophilia? Me - nothing it's a nonsense word (while thinking in my head that she's going to probably start using the word around the school yard).

Me - I want to have a light dinner tonight. Dinner ended up being Lobster Dynamite, Halibut on Crispy Rice, Spicy Seafood over Noodles and Bourban Bread Pudding. Amazing, but NOT light!

The preceding describes my weekend well! What a fun weekend - and I got a bunch of personal book keeping work done today!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We, in Los Angeles, are sissies. The storm is freaking us out, me included. There are moments when I am driving in the rain and I think that it's crazy to be driving in such "horrible" weather.

And then I smack myself because I realize that most cities in the US have snow in the winter. And while it is snowing, people still drive. So while I lament the fact that I can only go 40 MPH, I now realize that in some parts of the country, people are going 5 MPH, or are snowed in and can't go out at all.

I am a sissy :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Lately, the little monkey has been using "adult words" and it has me quite upset. The words aren't the ones you think they are, but every time I hear them, I cringe.

The words I am referring to are "psycho" and "stupid". The big monkey's friends used the word "psycho" once and the little monkey just latched on to it. She uses it
in the correct context, but to me its a "mean" word.

The word "stupid" is more difficult to curtail - because it is everywhere. One of the monkeys' favorite songs is "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Their favorite line - "I should have changed that STUPID lock". They also love the song "Stupid Girl". That word is such a regular part of society today that it becomes almost impossible to explain to a 5 year old that it is an inappropriate word.

Now I just have to go find a bar of soap - it doesn't have the same effect when you pump some soap in to your hand, lather up, and THEN stick the soap in to her mouth ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Free Food

I have come to the conclusion (yes, I am a slow learner) that there is no free lunch. I sign up for all of the restaurant reward programs. Once in a while I get a $20 gift card good towards food, but even that is at a location where each appetizer is almost $20!

Usually, I get emails with "free lunch" or simply "FREE" in the title. Once you open the email you see that you indeed get a free entree, when you PURCHASE another entree of equal or greater value. The ones that are my favorites are for free items -free onion rings, free fries, etc... Those are all well and good until you are trying to eat healthy. Then those emails are plain annoying.

How about "free salad" or "free grilled chicken breast"? Oh no! It's really the oil, butter and flour that is cheap to make, tasty to eat and bad for you - that's what is free. Sigh!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I am a daily reader of the Smitten Kitchen. Many of her recipes look amazing. As soon as I saw this one, yesterday, I knew I had to make it.

This took me about 10 minutes to put together after I can home from dinner out. It was SO good! I didn't make the Chipotle and Toasted Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche but I'm sure it would give this soup an even better flavor and an added depth.

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Toasted Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Yields 6 main course servings

1 tablespoon olive oil - omitted
2 medium-size red onions, chopped - I used one HUGE red onion
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped - didn't have, so omitted
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped - didn't have, so omitted
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles from a can (this gives it a solid kick, dial back if you are wary)
7 cups hot water (I just used very hot tap water)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - used limequats (like kumquats but different)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

You're supposed to heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. I didn't do any of that - I just dumped everything in to the crock-pot. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 3 hours. I actually cooked it for 8 hours on low, overnight.

Transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Ladle soup into bowls.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I do not make New Years resolution's. It is an arbitrary day to start a new habit. If I want to make a change I should do so right away, right?

Regardless, January is a new beginning and I have been thinking about a couple of things I want to resolve. Therefore:

  • I will yell less at my kids - my husband brought it to my attention that I yell at the kids - A LOT!! In the moment, I know I am justified (and at times I do it to be heard over their yelling, complaining, zoning out) but its still not right. Today I only yelled once - and it was when they ran in to the bathroom to talk to me, as I was using it.
  • I will be more cognizant of what I eat - I exercise (or at least walk) 3-4 days a week. I'm OK with that. I eat healthy for the most part. However, I snack. And then I am SHOCKED when I gain weight. I also tend to eat out more than I should. And no matter what, my home made food is healthier than what I can buy for lunch.
  • I will take more time for myself - anyone who reads my blog knows that most days I am so busy running around and doing things for the kids, that I spend little time for myself (and when I do it's late at night and/or I feel guilty).
  • I will be thankful for everything I have been blessed with (my family, my health, my families health, my job, the roof over my head).

That's it for now. I hope I can keep these resolutions. I know I will definitely try.

Monday, January 11, 2010


For some in-explicable reason, I feel let down when the holidays are over.

I'm not in school, so I don't get winter break. I don't work for one of the company's that makes you take the week between Christmas and New Years off. I am no longer a child, so I don't have a ton of gifts waiting for me this season. I'm not Christian so I don't celebrate Christmas and get overly excited about Jesus.

I guess it's like the end of summer. It's another reminder that time is swiftly passing by. I remember hoping that time would go by quickly so that I could "the one"...get married...have kids, etc...

In today's world, I hope that time would slow down so that I didn't have to rush to get the kids to school/activities/bed, get myself to work/working out/paying bills/grocery shopping/etc...

From childhood to adulthood, not only does your outlook on life change, but so does your perspective. Not sure yet what it means :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Asian Summer Salad

Months ago I had a Pampered Chef party. The consultant gave me a couple of recipes to get ready so that she could demonstrate some of the products.

This recipe was a COMPLETE hit. In fact, I made it for the New Years party and I got rave reviews for it again. One of our friends said that it was one of her favorite things that I made!

Asian Summer Salad

8 ounces uncooked vermicelli pasta
3/4 cup julienne-cut carrots, 2 inches long
3/4 cup julienne-cut zucchini, 2 inches long
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onions with tops
3/4 pound deli roast turkey or chicken breast, cut 1/2 inch thick - I usually omit the meat

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 t. sugar
1/8 t. ground red pepper
1 t. finely chopped, peeled fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, pressed
Coarsely chopped peanuts or cashews and fresh cilantro (optional)

For salad, break vermicelli into quarters. Cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place vermicelli in large Bowl and set aside. Using Julienne Peeler, cut carrots and zucchini into julienne strips; cut strips into 2-inch pieces using Chef’s Knife. Chop bell pepper and slice green onions. Cut turkey into thin pieces, 2" long. Add vegetables and turkey to vermicelli. For dressing, combine oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and ground red pepper in Small Batter Bowl. Peel gingerroot; finely chop using Food Chopper. Add gingerroot and garlic pressed with Garlic Press to batter bowl. Mix well using Stainless Steel Whisk. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. Spoon salad into serving bowl. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro, if desired. Yield: 6 servings

Cook’s Tips: This salad can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

per serving: (1 2/3 cups): Cal: 300, Fat 11 g, Sat. Fat 1.5 g, Chol: 25 mg, Carb: 35 g, Pro: 16 g, Sod: 980 mg, Fiber 2 g

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orange Sesame Chicken

I brought a dish to my friends house to complement the boiled lobster we were having. I had seen it that day on one of my favorite blogs, Culinary in the Desert. The way Joe describes the recipes, they all seem do-able.

This one was quite easy, and OH SO tasty! I doubled the recipe and these were devoured in about 10 minutes flat!

It all came together very quickly - I threw the shrimp in the marinade and brought it to my friends house, along with the sauce mixture, and whipped it up at her house.

Sesame-Orange Shrimp (Adapted from Culinary in the desert, who adapted it from Eating Well)

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large egg whites
16 ounces (1 pound) peeled and deveined raw shrimp
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided (I used cooking spray)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dry sherry (I used mirin - a rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
cooked brown basmati rice, if desired for serving

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sesame seeds, salt, pepper and egg whites. Add shrimp and toss well to coat.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add half of the shrimp - cook until each side is golden, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Scoop shrimp out onto a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Repeat process with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and shrimp, scooping them out onto the plate when done.

Into the skillet, stir in orange juice, sherry, soy sauce and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil - cook, stirring, until slightly thickened and reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add shrimp back into the skillet, stirring to coat, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle sliced scallion over the top - serve over brown basmati rice, if desired.

Makes about 4 servings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Branding is Everything

Yesterday we were in the car with the big monkey, picking up the little monkey.

Husband: Monkey, do you want to come get coffee with us and you can have hot chocolate?
Monkey: Sure. Where's the Starbucks?
Me: No, we're getting coffee at the gas station.
Monkey: Ooh, AM/PM? That means I can get candy!
Me to husband: This is your fault, snicker, snicker, lol!

Sigh! At least she knows where to go if shes ever in need of a coffee or sugar fix!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A 6 Day Weekend :)

I like my job. Really, I do. I work on a number of different projects. Many of them are things that are outside my normal realm of responsibilities, so I have to think outside the box. That being said, I have loved having long weekends!!

I really think that we would benefit from working 4, 40s (4 days a week, 10 hours a day = 40 hours) and having long weekends every week.

I was talking about that with some friends tonight and one of their daughters said, "Yes, but then you would want to a 4 day weekend, then a 5 day weekend, etc.."

Hmmm, that sounds pretty good :) Of course, the monkeys school would still be in session 5 days a week :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cooking, etc...

I was just watching the Julie & Julia movie and was enthralled. In one scene, Julia Child wonders what she is good at. The answer comes to her - she's good at eating :) She is always thinking about food, and she even dreams about it.

There are many times I feel that way as well. I don't cook every night, but I do devour cooking magazines like they are novels. I imagine cooking the recipes and then eating the meals. Interestingly enough, I sometimes look up old recipes that I have bookmarked to make and realize that my moods have shifted and/or that my taste buds have changed (I was going to say evolved, but I don't think that the things that sounds good to me now are better, just different).

I also feel the same way about cooking catalogs. I think my favorite one has to be Williams Sonoma, but I also LOVE Sur La Table and Crate and Barrel. I always discover fabulous new tools/bowls/serving pieces that I would love to own. I imagine owning them, cooking with them, serving out of them.

In fact, my husband and kids got me a couple of cooking items from Crate and Barrel for the holidays, and I must return one. I am excited to go there tomorrow - to me, that is my "candy store".