Wednesday, May 23, 2018

52 Recipes | Grilled Whangdoodles aka Spiraled Hot Dogs

Back in March, Teddy started asking for a Willy Wonka Tea Party Unbirthday Party for his birthday. We took that as some mash up between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Thankfully, both of those stories/movies leave a lot of room of creativity and weirdness. My mind started to spin with all of the possibilities. In the middle of planning and after inviting some people, we decided we would be going to Disneyland (more on this on Friday) right before the party! Gears switched and I decided to focus on the food.

I have been wanting to try spiraled hot dogs since they first were popular a few summers back. I felt like making them and calling them Grilled Whangdoodles was a great tie in for the party. If you are unfamiliar with the reference, Whangdoodles were one of the types of horrible creatures that Willy Wonka rescued the Oompa Loompas from. It happened to be a pretty big hit. They were so good, we forgot to take pictures right away.

Recipe
Again, no true recipe but the idea is pretty simple. Grab your hot dogs, some skewers, buns and a knife, and then light up your grill. Slide the skewer through the entire length of your hot dog. Place hot dog on cutting board then cut into the hot dog at a slight angle. Turn hot dog and continue cutting until you reach the other end. Carefully remove skewer from hot dog. Repeat with remaining dogs. Grill them up and then top to your liking!

Results and Thoughts
This is such a fun and easy way to jazz up such a simple meal like grilled hot dogs. It took a few extra minutes of prep but it was worth it. We will probably be doing it again. Also, I really love the extra crispy edges.

Monday, May 21, 2018

May | Currently

getting back into the swing of things after a busy few months and an especially busy couple of weeks. 
celebrating Tiny Krueger being not so tiny anymore. Teddy turned three earlier this week and the weekend prior we had a small barbecue in his honor. 
eating all the party leftovers.
making small adjustments to our daily routines as we head into the busy part of the summer season. 
loving that the structure leads to most days being pretty predictable.
reading Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan's Always Enough, Never Too Much devotional. I have been struggling with my faith and feeling like I do not fit in with the church congregation we have chosen to fellowship with the last two years. It is hard to feel like you belong when most of the people in the community are in vastly different  phases of life. This amazing devotional has been helping bridge that gap. 
trying to get back to spending my mornings in the word. 
looking for a daily devotional. Do you have one you love?  
spending more time outside as the days get warmer and longer.
enjoying the return of our summer sunsets.  
replanting most of the vegetables and flowers we planted in April. After fairly mild winter, we felt it was safe to get our garden all set up. Then we were hit with an early May cold snap, snow, and frost. Almost everything was nuked.
working on finally getting those patio chairs redone. I have a plan and now I am searching for all of the correct materials. 
thinking about all the other goals and plans I want to make for this summer. Every spring I make our "Summer List" and every fall I am glad I did. I feel like writing out a solid list of plans, intentions, and goals helps to answer the typical "what do you want to do today?" question and guide us to fill in free days.
cooking my way through my 52 recipes for the year. My current count is about 15 recipes. I am about five recipes behind the overall schedule for the goal and I have seven or eight recipes I need to post here. 
spending evenings and random moments throughout the day in front of the laptop, writing posts, editing photos while podcasts play in the background.  
listening to all the podcasts again. This, this, and this are the top of my list right now but I rotate through about a dozen others. Clearly I am into True Crime. 
feeling like time just keeps speeding up. 
watching the kids hit all sorts of milestones. Eliza is crawling and trying to get into all sorts of trouble already.
doing my best to keep up. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

52 Recipes | No. 5 Hominy Burrito Bowls

​One of my favorite recipes growing up was my mom's red enchiladas made with ground beef, red sauce and hominy. A few months ago, I had made some of her enchiladas and had some of the meat mixture leftover. What I had wasn't enough to make a whole other tray of enchiladas so I set it aside in the freezer. After our most recent Disneyland trip, we had not gone grocery shopping yet and I was looking for something to make. I decided to pull out this frozen meat mixture and see what I could do with it.

Recipe:
There isn't a true recipe here. I mixed together roughly a half pound of browned, lean ground beef, a 15ish oz can of hominy, 2 cups cooked pinto beans and 2 cups of red enchilada sauce. I added cumin and chili powder to taste. I served the mixture over jasmine rice, with shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream. This is one of those throw together dinners where you could add anything you want.

Results and Thoughts:
For using what we had on hand, this was really good! I was honestly surprised. It probably won't be something we eat regularly but the next time I make my mom's enchiladas, Ill be sure to prepare a little extra meat so we can have this variation of burrito bowls later in the same week.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

52 Recipes | No. 4 Honey Sesame Chicken

Now that we are back from our Spring Break trip, I can continue posting about my 52 Recipes in 2018 project. I had planned to post while we were away but then left my laptop at home. Oh well! I am back and I am chugging along. Although this is only the fourth recipe I've shared, I think I am up to thirteen for the year. From the nine that I haven't shared yet, three were complete disasters, four are keepers that Ill be sharing them soon, and two I want to make a couple more times to see if they are worth sharing.

Today's recipe is the Honey Sesame Chicken from the Chef Mickey cookbook. According to the book, this dish is served at the Nine Dragons Restaurant in Epcot China Pavilion at Walt Disney World. This is one of about ten recipes from the cook book that I wrote on my initial list. While I selected a lot of recipes based on recreating magical foods at home, this one was purely a "I am craving Chinese food" decision. I've never made Chinese food at home from scratch before so this was a great recipe to try.

Recipe:
Honey Sesame Chicken from Chef Mickey - Treasures from the Vault & Delicious New Favorites. There are quite a few Disney food related blogs that copycat recipes posted as well.

Adjustments:
No real "adjustments" but I did leave out the sesame seed and green onion garnish.

Results and Thoughts:
So I have never made Asian style chicken over rice from scratch before. I was super nervous and this recipe was a bit of an undertaking. There were a lot of steps and was a tad bit overwhelming with a toddler and newborn demanding my attention. It didn't help that we decided to make this on a weeknight. It definitely would have been smarter for us to wait for a Saturday afternoon because we ended up eating after bedtime.

All that aside, I am still so glad I made this! It was delicious. I can't comment on how this recipe stands up to the Nine Dragons original because neither of us has eaten the original but we enjoyed this and will be trying it again!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

2018 Book Report | Jan - March

Every year I challenge myself to read something. Anything. Some years it is a specific list (Hello abandoned Rory Gilmore Challenge), some years its "Just Read Something" and others it is a set number of titles. For 2018, I am going to read at least 26 books. That is a book every 2 weeks. I could have pushed myself and gone for something upwards of 100 books but with two kids, I just wanted something doable.

At the end of December when I set my goal, I also started a list. Much like my 52 Recipes project, I knew that success means having a plan. I wrote out all the titles I knew I wanted to read, books I needed to finish from previous years and stuff I wanted to reread by myself or as a family with the kids. As of the end of March, I have eight books (only six if you ask GoodReads) finished and about 50 on my To Be Read list. I am feeling good.
screenshot taken from my GoodReads profile

Tips For Living // This was a January Amazon First Read pick. I am glad I chose it for my first read of the year. Its been marketed as a Suspense but it is more of a curl up with a blanket on a cold afternoon mystery.  It was an easy read (I finished in less than 48 hours), and some of the plot points were predictable. That said, I did find it entertaining and I really wanted to know "who did it".

The Last Letter // I love me some Historical Fiction and The Last Letter did not disappoint. There was so much to take in between all the tragic events that befall this group of 1800's homesteaders. It took me a bit longer to finish but once I got to the second half of the story, it really took off. The rest of the books from this series are currently on my To Be Read list.

The Starlight Hill Series Books 1-3 // With as heavy parts of The Last Letter were, I decided to read something lighter. Hello Chick Lit. I got this for free and did not realize at first it was three books in one. The series starts off innocently enough with no romance novel-esque sex scenes. Once you get to Book 3 it is a little more present. I only mention it because it caught me a little off guard as I was not expecting it, however it is nowhere near the sex from Harlequin books I would sneak read as a teen. Or even Flowers in the Attic!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine // This title was chosen as part of the short-lived It's All Good Book Club with Dani Hampton of Sometimes Sweet. I am not sure that I would have chosen this on my own just from seeing it on the shelf. From the onset, I found it Eleanor so relatable and unexpectedly lovable with all her outlandish quirks. As the book goes on, it becomes a little heavy, quite heartbreaking and humorous all at the same time. I was a little let down by the ended but only because it was different than I had hoped. For a debut novel, it is fantastically written and I look forward to reading more from Gail Honeyman.

Anywhere With You // Again, I needed something a little lighter after a heavy. This is a small novella taking place after the third book of the Starlight Hill series I read at the end of January. Like I mentioned above the series starts our more Chick Lit/Rom Com and slowly turns more Romance. This one had some ridiculous love scenes that read as if they were out of a teen girl's diary. I had to roll my eyes a bit.

Silent Victim // This was my Amazon First Read for February. Another Suspense title pick for me and this one was actually thrilling to read. The story is told from varying perspectives of three different characters spanning from 2003 to 2017. This is easily one of my favorite types of storytelling and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Just was a warning there are potential triggering topics in this books.

Currently Reading/Planning to Read 
I chose Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen by Hannah Howard as my Amazon First Read for March. I started it but it didn't pull me in right away. I had planned to pick it up during Spring Break but that didnt happen. Also in progress is Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. I have been trying to read this book since last fall. It is very similar to "my kind of book" but I haven't been able to get into it. I think if it were on my Kindle I may have more luck but I am still trying to finish it. The second and third books from The Letter Series, Turtles All The Way Down, and The Dirty Life are all standing out as titles to be read next as well as whatever I pick for my Amazon First Read.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

March | Currently

settling into routine again after 17 days in California
celebrating spring with snow showers, rain storms, and small bouts of warm weather, and I love it
preparing for our Resurrection Sunday celebration
filling and rolling dolmas for Sunday
feeling a little sad that we won't be with our extended families or close friends for the holiday
remembering the old days out on the Lopez Family Patio making fried dough
chasing around a curious almost three year old and an army crawling seven month old
marveling at how fast Eliza is growing
wondering if our family is truly complete with two kids
thinking about adopting a furry family member
scaring myself with the thought of adding another wild beast to this equation
dreaming about our summer garden and backyard plans
gathering the supplies to start the work
planting roots, figuratively and literally
embracing Berkeley's promotion to Engine Captain
letting go of my "return to Flagstaff" dream, for now
missing our people
opening myself up to new people and relationships, and new opportunities building a community here in Alpine

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

52 Recipes | No. 3 Meatball Sliders

Moving on to recipe three of my 52 recipes project for 2018. Today it is meatball sliders. This is a recipe I hodgepodged together from a bunch of different things that I've seen on the Internet. We've all seen those Tasty and BuzzFeed Food videos that are popular on social media right now. And those recipes using sweet Hawaiian rolls. All of those were what got me thinking about making sliders to begin with. Then I went searching for a recipe that I thought we might like but nothing really called me so here is what I did.

Pistachio Project Grain Free Meatballs with diced onion and grated carrot

Recipe:
12 2oz. meatballs
Slider buns or Sweet Hawaiian style rolls
Provolone cheese
Pasta sauce
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan

Open the buns and lightly toast both sides under the broiler. While the buns are toasting, warm the meatballs and pasta sauce in a saucepan. Remove the buns, and a loos to cool for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 350*F. Place bottom buns in a casserole dish, and layer provolone slices on top. Then spoon a meatball and some sauce onto each bun. Cover with the top buns. Mix olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese together and drizzle over the top of the buns. Cover with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes making sure the top buns don't burn. Serve while warm!

Adjustments and Thoughts:
This is another recipe where I use the Pistachio Project meatballs. I love Britney's recipe and we use it for all different kinds of meals around here so they are always on hand.  Sometimes, I hide veggies in them like bell peppers or carrot. If I know I am going to be making sliders later in the week, I will prepare larger meatballs by adding in a little bit more meat and veggies and roll out 12 meatballs instead of 16. They end up being closer to 2oz instead of the 1oz ones from the recipe. Than I cook them for 25 minutes. You can use whatever meatballs you like though.

Most recipes for sliders I saw called for shredded mozzarella over meatballs and sauce on top of an untested bun/roll. Instead of ending up with a soggy mess, I decided to toast my buns then layer on sliced provolone then add the meatball with sauce. I feel like this allows for a more solid slider. The cheese acts as a little bit of a moisture barrier and things are a lot less soggy.

Like I mentioned above, because I use the meatball recipe that we like, I tend to have the meatballs already made and so it's an easy meal to throw together on a busy night. Also, this is something that my husband and the toddler both love. Most nights, we serve them alongside a nice big salad and it's a complete dinner.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

52 Recipes | No. 2 Slow Cooker Chicken Chickpea Curry


Hey everyone today I'm here with my second 52 recipes post. Today we are talking curry chickpeas and chicken or chicken curry with chickpeas. I don't quite remember what the original title of the recipe was. This came from the Woman's Day Slow Cooker Classics magazine that I got from my grandmother for Christmas. We've made this recipe a handful times already and we've done it a couple different ways. I'll talk about that below.

Recipe:
As mentioned above, the recipe was from a Woman's Day recipe edition. You can find the recipe online here. I serve it over jasmine rice instead of the plain white rice listed in the recipe.

Adjustments:
So the first time we made this the only change the name made it was substituting almond milk for coconut milk. I am pretty allergic to most forms of coconut so anytime we make curries or Thai food we make that substitute. It's a little thinner but the flavor is very similar. The other ingredient change is using chili powder instead of cayenne because of the little palates in our house.

The second time we made this recipe, we used chicken that had been made in the crockpot separately when I made a big batch of bone broth. I sautéd the vegetables and spices. Then added in the almond milk and other fluids. Lastly, I added in the chicken and let it simmer for a little bit.

Results and Thoughts:
This recipe is definitely the jumping off point for a new family favorite. The toddler eats a large portion and Berkeley and I have seconds. Both ways we cook it are fairly quick and easy for such a flavorful and filling meal.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

52 Recipes | No. 1 Faux-bondigas Soup

How is it already the end of February? I feel like 2018 has already been the fastest year. I think I say this every year but man it sure has flown by this time around. Today I'm sharing the first of my 52 recipes in 2018. And if you want to learn more about this project you can check out my previous post here.

Like I mentioned in that previous post, I have a list of ideas and recipes that I am using as a jumping off point. Since I will be using other people's recipes, I decided when it comes to sharing in this space, I will either link to a website where the recipe can be found, or sum up the ingredients and process if it's not my own. I'll also be sharing any adjustments I made, as well as my thoughts on the recipe. I also have created #amakEats52 and an Instagram stories highlight for this project. The order in which they're in my stories on Instagram will be the order in which I post them here on the blog to make things easier. Lastly, Instagram will probably be more up to date than the blog. If you look right now, there are four or five dishes shown. Today I am sharing my faux Albondigas recipe and then I think next week I will be sharing both the curried chickpeas and the meatball sliders recipes.

So now that we have the more administrative stuff taking care of, on to the recipe. This started out as a cleaning out the fridge type of situation. We had a little bit of ground beef left over from a different recipe and I used one of Pistachio Project's meatball recipes. We didn't have a full pound of ground beef so they ended up a bit smaller than a normal meatball. With all the other stuff I was trying to use up, I decided Albondigas soup was on the menu.

Soup is so hard to photograph!
If you're not familiar with Albondigas soup it is really simply just Mexican meatballs in soup base made with broth and onions and garlic and tomatoes with a ton of vegetables added in. This is very much a comfort meal and, as such, there are so many different ways people make it. Most recipes use carrots, potatoes, green beans, and zucchini. I was just using what we had on hand (our pantry and fridge staples) thats why I am jokingly calling this faux-albondigas or fauxbondigas.

Recipe:
12-16 small meatballs (again, I used this recipe)
1 sweet potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz can stewed tomatoes
4 c. broth
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

First, I sautéed all the vegetables about 5 minutes, then added in the garlic and spices and sautéed for another 1-2 minutes. Next, add the stewed tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the pre made meatballs. Lastly, simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender and the meatballs are warmed through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Results and Thoughts:
Given that this was a "flying by the seat of my pants" recipe, and my first time making Albondigas soup, I think it turned out okay. More importantly, it was toddler approved which is a big deal and makes this recipe something we will make again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

52 Recipes in 2018

One of the people I follow via blogging and social media is Megan at The Nerd Nest. For years, she has been doing this project where she aims to make one new recipe per week. I really like that idea and when I felt like we were falling into the same handful of recipes, I decided to try it as well.

I always see things in magazines, on blogs, and in cookbooks that I always say I want to try "someday". So to prepare for this project, I pulled out my planner and started writing down all of the specific recipes I would be interested in trying. I also added more general things like making the kids' birthday cakes. At some point this year I want to make ice cream, jams and jerkies. I added those to my list as well. 

Right now, I think I am at 40 meal ideas on the list and we've made 6 of them. I am working on figuring out how I want to share these recipes, my thoughts, and whether or not we will be eating them again. For now, I have been sharing them on Instagram using the Highlights feature and the #amakeats52. Also, I probably will not sharing the recipes that don't quite work out for us, especially if it is something I come up with on my own. Anyways, keep your eyes open and be sure to check back soon as I start adding updates to this project. 
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