Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recipe #37: C is for cabbage, concerts, cowboys, clowns, charity, & cagefighting!

(57 recipes to go.)
With an action-packed weekend planned, we opted for something simple to make & easy to clean up; the Shrimp & Purple CABBAGE Salad. Its probably the least demanding recipe in the cookbook so far. I just tossed all the ingredients together, and ta-daa, it was done! A light, tangy lunch. And it left enough room for us to still chow down on some popcorn at the Kenny Chesney Concert Series in 3D this afternoon! (Thanks Jen & Mikel!) As huuuuge Chesney fans (see collage of KC concerts & autograph that hangs in my laundry room), Mikel & I impatiently waited months for this theater event. And Kenny didn't disappoint. It was like being at a high-energy CONCERT!! Our second concert this weekend, actually. Travis & I also two-stepped to his cousin Jarod playing bass in The Teka Brock Band at Montana Chads on Friday. (They sounded awesome!) In addition, that rowdy night included another "C" word with watching COWBOYS during our double-date with Cristin & Trevor at the PBR (Professional Bull Riding). Great rodeo. However, when it was televised the next day, we quickly noticed it was missing our favorite rodeo CLOWN Flint Rasmussen! Hence, the live PBR is waaaayyy better than the commercial-filled, Flint-less version. He is hilarous with his dance moves! (Click here to see his talent!) The viewing came after another weekend highlight of Brenda, Jamie, & I attending the Peaks CHARITY Luncheon & Fashion Show- a fundraiser for cancer patients. Yup, an eventful couple of "C" days, indeed!
We snuck in another Chico repeat-recipe last night by whipping up some Baked Beans with sauteed onions/shallots/garlic/mushrooms/apples and deliciously grilled steaks for some pay-per-view WEC (World Extreme CAGEFIGHTING) hosted at our house. Sorry all you California Kid fans, *spoiler alert* he was just no match for Jose Aldo. Too bad he wasn't as well-prepared as our scrumptious dinner!!
~Rating of Shrimp & Purple Cabbage Salad: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Baked Beans (also made for Recipe #6): 6 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "We were wild, we were crazy, we were mostly young.” -Kenny Chesney.
~Music while cooking: Kenny Chesney's Live.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Recipes #34- #36: monologues, queens, & red ripe tomatoes

(58 recipes to go.)
The combination of this weekend's entertainment was somehow, someway profound. We're just not sure yet how to categorize it. A different look at FEMINISM perhaps? New SOCIAL norms? Redefined GENDER roles? However you want to describe it, we were thoroughly entertained with the Friday night viewing of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues Play and last night's dragqueen show titled Wicked Lil Girls. One is a global-wide campaign to stop violence against females, the other; an artistry of men portraying caricature women. Both were fantastic!! Alive with passion, empowerment, conviction -and controversy! Traditionally considered taboo!! (And after the Monologues Friday night, my girlfriends & I were excited to unexpectedly catch part of another dragshow called The Divas!) Great discussions (and dancing) followed all three productions.
I'll get to the Chico recipe in a minute. But first I've just gotta mention; I always appreciate a good drag show, but this is the first time I've experienced The Monologues. Have you ever been a part of this phenomenon? I see how it has attracted so much attention! A nonprofit called VDay has been created from this play. Their focus is to increase awareness, raise funds, and help organizations in their fight to stop violence against women & girls (including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, & sexual slavery). You can help their cause by donating here. And, the drag show had some indepth material as well. The Fish Stix (this is the sixth time we've been to one of their shows) always throw in a meaningful number, whether it pertains to gay marriage, acceptance, hate crimes, HIV awareness, etc. Last night they held an auction to raise money for The Yellowstone Aids Project. See? This really was an all-around profound weekend!
Okay, enough about that. Let's get back to the cookbook.... I selected a special, light lunch for Travis' last meal on medical leave today; Tomato-Basil Bruschetta. We also whipped up the Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce & Basil Oil to drizzle over this delightful little treat, as the cookbook suggested. And like a lot of Chico's recipes, this had some intricate steps. We were blanching the fresh basil in boiling water & shocking it in ice water before blending it in oil & straining it, when Travis asked, "Can't we pick a meal that uses less pots & pans?" It was a tasty lunch, but a little bittersweet with the new workweek looming before us. Dang it, I'm gonna miss his handsome mug being around so often! Oh well, c'est la vie, I guess. We've got to do, what we've got to do. I'm actually heading into work as well, playing a little catch up in the office. The weekend has officially come to a screeching halt!
~Rating of Tomato-Basil Bruschetta with the Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Sauce & Basil Oil: 6 stars (out of 10) from Travis. 8 stars from me. The leftover ingredients were good too; dipping the french bread into goat cheese & balsamic vinegar. YUM! Oh and of course, we sipped on some Perrier...
~Ma's Rating of Walnut Gorgonzola Salad: 7 stars (out of 10) (a follow-up to Recipe #33, when I mentioned taking her the ingredients to taste-test.)
~Quote of the day: "I believe in pink. I believe laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, & I believe in miracles." -Audrey Hepburn.
~Music while cooking: none

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Recipe #33: To garden, or not to garden? That is the question.

(61 recipes to go.)
Well, this week had the potential of being disasterous... But Travis & I are in a good rhythm, jumping hurdles as they're thrown at us! Yay team! (I tell ya, my husband's newfound drive & good mood this week are contagious! -Hopefully his intense headcold isn't as infectious though!!) So, on account of a lot of goings-on, we selected easy meals; today is spaghetti with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette salad, yesterday was Tilapia Tuesday with Corn on the Cob (a repeat from Recipe #30) & a small fire- oops. Tomorrow we're taking the Walnut Gorgonzola Salad ingredients to my mom for a taste-testing (she's been eating a lot of salads lately). And Monday didn't involve a Chico recipe but became noteworthy when talking to Brenda on the phone; we both happened to be making sloppy joes! With elk burger! And garlic! And green beans! Too funny. Great minds must think alike? :)
Here's our most recent family portrait taken just a few minutes ago. Which was no easy task with Pete bucking all over the place & Chester wanting to eat. Its Day 3 of their diet. Those silly puppies, they aren't enjoying their new weight management food very much! No table scraps for them nowadays, unless its veggies. Which prompted us to brainstorm this year's garden. We plant one every year and love harvesting our very own fresh produce. Crisp cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, sweet strawberries, oh yes! Tis that time of year! Daydreams of tasty herbs & plants were further enhanced when reading about Chico's Heirloom Garden in the cookbook (a great testimonial to the resort's "pioneer beginnings & agricultural history," as well as to the "kitchen's demand for quality ingredients"). But get this, as much as we (especially Travis) love gardening, we are actually considering NO GARDEN this year! An article titled "Garden Soil Tips" is making us think our garden area needs a little break, as we haven't gotten very good results the last couple of years. Hmm, perhaps we need to focus on the soil to improve the performance of our plants? Add some organic nutrients & minerals maybe?? We shall see, enough contemplating for tonight; Travis is now in his man-cave doing leatherwork and I'm meeting up with the ladies for Bunco. (There's just not enough hours in the day!) We shall think more on the garden later. Enjoy the rest of this WINDY Wednesday, everyone!
~Rating of Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette: 6 stars (out of 10) from Travis. 4 stars from me.
~Rating of Corn on the Cob: 8 stars (out of 10). We boiled it instead of grilling it this time.
~Quote of the day: "Whoever loves & understands a garden will find contentment within." -Chinese Proverb.
~Music while cooking: none, just the sound of Travis & I visiting about our days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Recipes #31 & #32: ribs to DYE for



(62 recipes to go.)
Starting the morning off with sneaking food coloring into Travis' milk, I've been playing with dye throughout most of today! After a yum-a-licious breakfast of turkey sausage & french toast (weird, its the first time I ever recall making this common treat), I anxiously started a dye project. Inspired by a blog I once saw, I was in the mood to turn a BLAH WHITE BLOUSE into a beautiful shade of SPRING COLOR. My creative creation began with sifting through Goodwill's throw-backs to the 70's & pieces reminiscent of The Golden Girls, until finally coming across a white top worthy of some transformation. For a mere $3.99! (I do love thrifty finds. Check out Mr. Thrifty for groceries & ReStore for home improvements; some of Billings' best deals!) I selected RIT dye for $1.66, simmered my shirt on the stove, and was thrilled with the vibrant outcome! It went well with another economically-wise find, a soft pink cardi for $5.99, and a guardian angel pin my mother gave me. Just in time for "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs!" Travis was the chef on these succulent St. Louis-Style Ribs, while I made salads & homemade fries (some baked, some fried). Supper was finger-lickin' good tonight! And, I didn't stop with this one dye job, stay tuned for more of my "white to color makeovers!"
~Rating of French Toast: 8 stars (out of 10). We added some dehydrated strawberries to the corn flake crust for an extra bit of sweetness.
~Rating of St. Louis-Style Ribs: 8 starts (out of 10).
~Quote of the day: "Do not look back & ask why, look forward & ask why not." -Brett Favre.
~Music while cooking: Erin McDougald's Auburn Collection, & Aerosmith's Greatest Hits.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recipes #29 & #30: small town Saturday night



(64 recipes to go.)
We happen to have an abundance of eggs in the fridge, so tonight's meal was geared toward using some of them up. That's how we selected the cookbook's Eggplant Timbale. Its a soufflé, quiche kind of dish. And it used 2 eggs (recipe cut in half). A couple interesting things while cooking this light, creamy sidedish; 1) I'm getting pretty good at removing skin from a bell pepper. (This is the third or fourth recipe now that's allowed me to practice.) And 2) The timbale was baked in a bowl that was submerged in a seperate bowl filled with water. Hmm, definately my first time with that unusual technique.
We accompanied this dish (that I thought was going to be quite a challenge, but ended up being quick & smooth) with STEAK. Yep, like a vampire seeking blood, Travis was having another craving. So we swung into the Meat Palace this afternoon on our way to Pete & Chester's vet appointment. Got some appetizing smoked femur bones for the pups and ginormous sirloin steaks for us (of course this was before the doc instructed Chester to lose 30 pounds- that will be no easy task!). We're trying to remember exactly how Travis prepared these cuts of meat, cause they turned out MOUTH-WATERING DELICIOUS and definately deserve to be repeated! Pretty sure they soaked for about an hour in a marinade of whatever we had on hand; milk, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, jalepeno juice, & worchestershire sauce. Grilled them on the barbie with some Corn on the Cob, and voila, this became an excellent meal to dine on during The Blindside. For as crappy as the week started (stress, sinus infection, & geographic tongue- don't ask), it sure did end well (a lil sushi action, the best steaks Travis has ever made, & my new hair tie arrived in the mail from the fabulous Cynthia- it matches my Puddin' Tane apron!). Hooray for the weekend & uplifting sunshiny weather!
~Rating of Eggplant Timbale: 6 stars (out of 10) from Travis, 7 stars from me.
~Rating of Corn on the Cob: 8 stars (out of 10). Instead of boiling it like the cookbook suggested, we stuck to our personal fave option of grilling it.
~Quote of the day: "Being strong is important. But knowing who you can count on is equally important." -Author Unknown.
~Music while cooking: Erin McDougald's Meeting Place. Long story short; I fell in love with this critically acclaimed jazz singer's voice at The Allerton in Chicago last December. Bought her CD online, but was devastated when it never arrived! Until today. Erin herself has emailed, facebooked, & texted me all week about this situation. And to make up for the delay in receiving her music that I was so excited about, she threw in an extra CD, a couple signed posters, a nice letter, & a check for my money back! She is great!!! Check her out at flappergirlsings.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Recipes #27 & #28: lobster & shrimp & lamb, oh my



(66 recipes to go.)
I have two tubs of butter in my fridge, if that gives you an inkling of how much we've been using lately... The Chico Chefs want me to go up a couple pant sizes, don't they!
Today's buttery recipe came after a FUN-FILLED FRIDAY with FRIENDS (brought to you by the letter "F") and a FANTASTIC afternoon of "Walking With Dinosaurs" with my parents. (The life-size Brachiosaurus, Torosaurus, & Tyrannosaurus Rex were super spectacular! Such an amazing show!) We selected the Seafood Bisque (with Shrimp Stock) mainly cause it was so cold & rainy outside. We were hoping it, along with cranking the heat, would warm us up! And what a delectable mid-weekend meal this turned out to be!! Travis was REALLY yearning lamb too, so we accompanied this thick creamy soup with the Rosemary Rack of Lamb (from Recipe #12) that we so dearly love.
A trip to two stores, 5.5 hours, and FORTY-FIVE cooking steps later (yes, 45 -I counted), we were ready to sample our treat. It was sooo G-O-O-O-D, but would have been even better if we'd baked the lamb for a few minutes less. (Mental note; bake for 18-20 minutes next time instead of 25. And Anna, while you're making mental notes; don't forget about how much crust was leftover. Cut the ingredients in half!) One other slight issue was my inability to find seafood base for the bisque. I ended up adding seafood seasoning to mushroom base instead, which seemed to work out just fine. And of course shrimp & lobster are a rare treat for us (although we did luck out with Alberstons having lobster tails on sale for $4.99!). Usually its reserved for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, so we felt like we should be celebrating something! Travis dug out the beautiful pendleton I won at a Native conference awhile back, and decided we would celebrate the warmth it provides us. (Aww, sometimes he's such a good thinker, ain't he?) Oh spring-like weather, where have you gone? Our current conditions are still a bit chilly, but thank goodness the Easter Bunny knows better than to hide my treats out in the cold! You'd think after last night's extravagant dinner we'd still be stuffed. But no. We're excited for all the candy & cornish gamehens we're about to gorge! Have a HAPPY EASTER of celebrating Jesus' resurrection. Alleluia!
~Rating of Seafood Bisque with Shrimp Stock: 7 stars (out of 10) from Travis, 8 stars from me.
~Rating of Rosemary Rack of Lamb: 9 stars (out of 10).
~Quote of the day: "Genuine relationships that are truly meaningful, help keep your life full of joy." -Author Unknown.