Monthly Archives: April 2010

Chicken piccata

Posted by Katie on April 29, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 1 Comment

New recipes, week 3.

With guests in town last weekend, I broke out a new recipe.  Usually this is a trick I only pull on immediate family, as I’m nervous about cooking new things for guests.  There are really terrible recipes out there.  Fortunately, this was not one of them.

I was very pleased with the chicken piccata recipe from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis I found on Food Network’s website.  I served the chicken over angel hair pasta, with a hearty salad on the side.  I quadrupled the recipe, and did as much prep work as possible before the guests came over…squeeze lots of lemons, cut and season the chicken, drain the capers, etc.  When it was close to dinner, all I had to do was dredge the chicken, cook it, make the sauce and make the pasta. 

I will confess that quadrupling the recipe was not necessary for 6 adults.  Doubling would have been just fine.  But the leftovers we ate all week were delicious!

Ingredients

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes.  When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes.  Remove and transfer to plate.  Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil.  When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner.  Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.

Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers.  Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor.  Check for seasoning.  Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously.  Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.

We made it

Posted by Katie on April 27, 2010
Chicago, Family & Friends / 10 Comments

This last weekend was a very enjoyable whirlwind.

Dave’s cousin, Phil, was in town for work for a couple days last week.  He brought along his lovely wife, Rachel, and their cute little baby, Libby, for the ride.  It was a really fun visit, with lots of baby snuggling and several parties with family and friends.  I love it when we have visitors.  Being centrally located in Chicago is paying off.

Upon mentioning the cuteness of the baby to my Mom, however, she promptly intensified the, “When do I get a grandchild, already?  Just conceive a child now, PLEASE.  You don’t love me unless you give me a baby.  I would like to spend time with my grandchildren before I die” comments.

Also this weekend, my little sister, Morgan, who is not so little anymore because she is off to Nursing school in the fall, was confirmed on Sunday.  Dave and I made a day trip to Indiana on Sunday so that we could be at her Confirmation.  I’m really glad we made the trip.  It was great to see Morgan and spend a little bit of time with my family.

All this family fun, combined with a little sleep deprivation and a lot of work drama, makes Katie and Dave want take Wednesday off work just to sleep all day.  We won’t really do that.  I have lots of work to do, and Dave gets free bagels at work on Wednesday mornings.

Advocate for the blind

Posted by Katie on April 20, 2010
Family & Friends / 1 Comment

My Mom has spent her career serving as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor for the blind.  Before she got married, she worked at the Missouri School for the Blind, and has since worked as an independent consultant for the state of Indiana helping blind people develop the necessary skills to live independent lives.  Her passion has been both professional and personal, and I have witnessed her come to the aid of and become friends with many of her clients over the years.

Recently, she went out to lunch with one of her blind friends who uses a trained and certified Leader Dog as a guide.  They were denied access to the restaurant because of the dog.  While in the moment, the situation was exceptionally unpleasant for both ladies, they decided to use the experience as a learning tool.  They contacted the appropriate authorities, and ended up on the front page of the local paper today.  The restaurant claims this as a “misunderstanding”, but it was a very clear case of discrimination.

Their intention is not to harm the restaurant in any way, but to help raise awareness in the community for other blind people.  Terre Haute, Indiana is small town Midwest America…with a lot of wonderful people and a population of only 60,000…but there are about 10 trained guide dogs in the community.

PS – My absolute favorite part of this article is when my Mom said, “I offered to put a blindfold on him (restaurant worker) and let him experience what it is to be blind.”  Oh yes, that is my Mom!  I’m proud of you.

Ab force

Posted by Katie on April 18, 2010
Weird / 2 Comments

You remember the Ab Force belt.  You saw the infomercials in 2001, and you wanted one.  Well, I ordered one.  Of course it didn’t work.  I never had abs of steel without any effort.  Or with effort, for that matter.

Anyway, I got a surprise settlement check in the mail last week as part of a class action law suit regarding the Ab Force.  Turns out a judge ordered one too, and it didn’t work for him either.

$17.89.

I’m going to stay up tonight watching infomercials, so I know where to reinvest my money.

How to write a memoir

Posted by Katie on April 18, 2010
101 in 1001, Memories / 3 Comments

I recently read an autobiography written by Dave’s paternal grandfather.  The book, which I understand to be the first of three books which encompass his life, focused on his early married life.   His family self-published the book through the online publishing site, Lulu.com.

I was not fortunate enough to meet Dave’s grandfather in this life.  And while I never met him in person, reading his words helped me to better understand not only the history of the man that I never met, but also his personality, his family and my husband.  It was fascinating for me to see glimpses of Dave in the words of his grandfather.

The tradition continues on Dave’s side of the family with his Nana, his maternal grandmother, who I have met on several occasions and hope to spend more time with in the future.  She also wrote her memoirs which I read last year.  Nana’s story focused on her childhood in Rudyard, Michigan.

Both of these stories gave me glimpses into a lifestyle which seems entirely foreign to me in modern times, although in light of human history it wasn’t all that long ago, and a great wealth of family history.

On my side of the family, I don’t know of anyone who as attempted such an autobiography.  I do know that my Mom’s two sisters have done quite a bit of research into the genealogy of the family, but that includes mostly names and dates.  And my Dad has boxes and boxes of old family pictures, but unfortunately a lot of them are of unidentified family and friends.

This all fits into my goals #58 (Start a project to scan, save and file all of the old pictures from both families) and #59 (Start a project to research and write down the stories and biographies from both families).  How do you properly document and store all of the family information (names, dates, pictures and stories) so that present and future family members have easy access to it?  And how do you encourage people to record family stories, both their own and the things they remember about past generations, so that your family history has more than just names and dates?

This seems such a big project, that I can’t quite wrap my mind around it.  I think it’s a project well worth the time and effort, I’m just not quite sure how to approach it.

Any ideas?  Do people in your family write their memoirs?  Have you used any type of online shared resource that allows various family members to contribute like Ancestry.com?  Or is the internet really the way to go when we’re talking about family sensitive information and creating records that will hopefully last for future generations?

I would love to hear how your family records information.

Spicy coconut shrimp with mango basil salsa and lime jasmine rice

Posted by Katie on April 17, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 3 Comments

New recipes, week 2.

I’m not really a big shrimp person.  Something about the mental image of “cockroaches of the sea” has held me back for many years.  Dave, however, loves them, so I decided to focus on shrimp for this week’s new recipe.

Let me say, “Wow!”  I made this for dinner last night with Dave and Michael, and it was a big hit.  The spicy and hearty flavor of the shrimp was exceptionally well balanced, and it paired very nicely with the sweet mango salsa and the tangy lime rice.

I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks, although it can be found online as well.

I started by making a trip to Whole Foods, the only place in Chicago that I trust for seafood.  I doubled the entire recipe, which turned out to be the right move because I (and 2 grown men) devoured it.  There were enough leftovers for a lunch.  I pan cooked the shrimp in several batches, but they cook so quickly it wasn’t really an issue.  And I did hold back on the jalapenos a bit, only using 3 total and cleaning the seeds out of 2 of them.  The result had a little kick, but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy.

Ingredients

Salsa:

1 mango, peeled and finely diced
3 scallions, sliced
5 basil leaves, julienned
1 lime, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shrimp:

2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2–inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 lime, zested
1/4 cup coconut milk
Small handful basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 grinds pepper
1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
Lime Jasmine Rice, recipe follows

Directions

For the salsa: Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make up to a day in advance. Keep covered in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp: In a mixing bowl, combine jalapenos, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, coconut milk, basil, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. Use tongs or a fork to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place in an even layer in the pan, reserving the marinade.

Cook the shrimp until well browned on each side, turning once, about 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer cooked shrimp to a serving plate.

Add reserved marinade to pan, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Pour over the cooked shrimp and serve with Lime Jasmine Rice and Mango Salsa.

Lime Jasmine Rice:

1 cup jasmine rice
3/4 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup water
Pinch salt
1/2 lime, zested

Put the rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in the lime zest. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

What to do with a ham bone?

Posted by Katie on April 11, 2010
101 in 1001, Cooking / 2 Comments

Make split pea soup.

I should make this the first of my six weeks of new recipes for #83 on the 101 list.

In the interest of full disclosure, the official review from both Dave and Michael was, “Wow, this tastes WAY better than it looks.”

1 package (16 oz.) dried green split peas, rinsed
1 ham bone
OR
2 cups diced ham
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery plus leaves, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon seasoned salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon fresh pepper
1 1/2 quart hot water

Directions:

Layer ingredients in slow cooker, pour in water.  DO NOT STIR.  Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone.  Remove bones and bay leaf.  Serve garnished with croutons.

I increased the recipe by 50%, which fit perfectly into the crock pot.  And I added several large chunks of ham in addition to the ham bone, which made the result pretty meaty and hearty.  I left out the salt too, because the ham was salty enough.  This would be a perfect meal for a cold winter’s day.

Picture perfect

Posted by Katie on April 10, 2010
Family & Friends / 2 Comments

This is the result of all six siblings sitting for professional portraits when we were all together last Christmas.

I actually really liked this picture…back when I had a mole on my cheek and Dave had a jawline.

Photoshop much?

#97 – Done

Posted by Katie on April 06, 2010
101 in 1001, Moxie / 3 Comments

#97 – Teach Moxie to scratch something other than that chair.

Dave tells me that I should go ahead and count this as being done before Moxie changes her mood and goes back to scratching our chairs.  She’s actually been good lately and is USUALLY scratching the scratching post…like the good cat she is usually not.

The fancy organic citrus anti-scratch sprays that we used religiously on our furniture did not work.  The ugly sticky plastic strips that we used on our furniture did not work either.

What seems to be working in the end is simply moving the scratching post to the middle of the room…located right between our two chairs.  A little positive reinforcement…making Moxie feel like the center of attention…is what she responds to.

Happy Easter for real this time

Posted by Katie on April 05, 2010
Easter, Family & Friends / 2 Comments

Hope you had a great Easter this year!

We had a wonderful long weekend hosting part of my family in Chicago.  Lots of beautiful church services, lots of yummy food, copious amounts of candy and most importantly, the chance to visit with family.

Oh, and an Easter egg hunt which resulted in every item in our apartment being touched 10 times.  There is still one egg missing, and I don’t remember where I hid it!  Moxie will find it.

Note to self – don’t agree to organize an Easter egg hunt when the majority of participants are competitive grown men.  The funny part is that those same men were the biggest proponents of the hunt in the first place!

We had a wonderful time with everyone.  I am so lucky to have a great family, despite the chaos and crazy egg hunts that come as part of the package.

But now that it’s all over, I can not wait to go home this evening, open a bottle of wine, sit quietly with Dave while eating Easter ham sandwiches for dinner and go to bed at 8 o’clock.

They wore me out.