Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicken Carbonara

chicken carbonara
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced bacon, chopped *
1 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 cups coarsely shredded chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, basil, and parsley to blend.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the chicken to the pan with the pancetta and stir to combine. Next, add the spaghetti and the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the sauce coats the spaghetti thickly, about 4 minutes (do not boil or you might end up scrambling the eggs). Season the pasta, to taste, with pepper and salt if needed (the bacon will likely add all the salt you need). Transfer the pasta to a large wide serving bowl. Sprinkle the lemon zest over and serve.

*Alright, here's the deal with the bacon. The recipe actually calls for pancetta, but I wanted to see how it would taste with bacon since that is SO much cheaper. Because I used bacon, I discarded most of the grease after I cooked it up with the garlic. This was my first time making carbonara, and we really liked it! I loved the lemon zest- it added a very subtle flavor. Tasty!

My pretty

Sure I'm bummed at the prospect of being homeless in a few months, but look what I got in the mail today- my pretty Amy Butler red lotus fabric! I've been so excited to get it.

And check these out, too!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

slow-roasted and pulled turkey sandwiches

There was this sandwich place in Utah that I LOVED to go to. When my boss wanted me to order sandwiches for a lunch meeting, I'd always suggest this place and order one for myself. I'd get it on sourdough bread, pay the extra 75 cents for the avocado and hope whoever was slathering on the secret sauce was feeling generous that day.

Well, here's how I recreated that lovely sandwich.

Actually, the turkey is my Mom's recipe. I've only made it three times. The first time I made it it didn't turn out. (There as a period of time where I failed each and every one of my mother's "no-fail" recipes.) But it seems like every time I make it and I have to call her and ask, "Okay, so you don't add water? Just the turkey breast and lemon pepper?" And that's it! You just take a turkey breast and sprinkle a lot of lemon pepper on it and leave it in the crockpot all day on low. So simple it can't even really be called a recipe!

So then you shred the turkey. (It will be tender and moist and oh so delicious!) Here's the funny thing- I used to dream up ways of how I could persuade the cashier at the sandwich shop to divulge the secret of the secret sauce to me. Could I make up an allergy? Say my boss has an allergy and I need to know the ingredients of the sauce? Well, before I was able to work up the courage during one of my many visits to the sandwich shop, I overheard a guy ordering a sandwich and he did all the work for me. Here's how that conversation went:

Guy: "I'll have a turkey sandwich."
Cashier: "Would you like the sauce?"
Guy: "What's in it?"
Cashier: "Mustard, mayonnaise, and a little bit of sour cream."
Guy: "Uh, no thanks."

A-ha! I was embarrassed for thinking I needed to concoct some sort of secret operation, but I didn't care, I finally knew the ingredients to the secret sauce! And it's so yummy!

You must have avocado with this sandwich. And it's best on sourdough. Tomatoes are good, too. So are alfalfa sprouts, lettuce and a little red onion.


Two weird things happened this weekend. I was planning to be in a hotel in Chicago tonight hanging out with my sister and her husband (wow, that sounds weird- they JUST got married), but since Julia isn't coming until next weekend (a misunderstanding that is probably more my fault than hers), I decided not to go and switched our plans for a week from now. Even though are bags were packed. And all of Franny's special food. And my laundry was done two days early. And I made a plate of scones to bring to my friend Meredith I was going to stay with.

Then today we got some really bad news. We have to move. In three months. Our landlords came and dropped that bomb on us right after church. Someone came to them and offered to buy the house. WHAT?! Have they even seen the inside? I don't recall showing them the house. How lucky is that for the landlords and how UNlucky is that for us?! I love this house. Boo.

So now we're faced with a decision. Buy or rent, buy or rent. Our future in this town is not certain and we weren't planning to make this decision for another year when we'll have a better idea what our plans are. Grrr... I'm a hot little potato right now.

All I want to do is sew. I wish I could sew all day. It's so weird to me that this is the way I'm dealing with my grief over my Mom's death. How random! I've never liked sewing. I feel cranky because my impending move and the stress and time associated with it is sure to get in the way of my therapy sessions with my Mom's sewing machine. All day I've felt okay about it. Until now. I hate this curve ball that's come our way. Boo.

I always have a hard time publishing posts like this. I hate to whine and rant in public; I like to keep things light and funny. On the other hand, I love it when people are real and don't feel the need to hide the unpleasant. So this is me being real. This is me saying that sometimes, just sometimes, life sucks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My arraignment

I had my arraignment a few days ago and I had to appear before the judge and plead guilty with an explanation as a result of my arrest a few weeks ago for an unpaid speeding ticket. Click here for the full story.

The highlight had of the whole experience had to be when the guy standing in front of me recognized a friend in the back of the room and called out, "hey, what are you in here for? A D.U.I.?" His friend answered, "No, a D.W.I." (What's the dif?) "What are you in here for?" The guy in front of me answered, "I got in a fight in Pancake City." I had to bite my lip so fast to stifle the giggle that was fighting so hard to escape my lips. Bobby calls Pancake City our town's "greasy spoon." Great pancakes, but not so great atmosphere.

I explained to the judge that March was an unusually busy month and I was at an autism conference when Bobby answered the door that Thursday night with Sophie and Franny and found a police officer stating he had a warrant out for my arrest. She was very nice and polite (didn't waive the court costs, but they were minimal) and then she went on to tell me that she's reading a book written by an adult woman with autism. I asked her what is was called and she got up, left the courtroom to get her purse and came back with this book. Then she proceeded to talk to me for a few minutes on the subject of autism. With all those people waiting! It was hilarious! I think I'm going to have to check out that book.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Mom's sewing machine

I snagged my Mom's sewing machine while I was home for the wedding. I figured I better make a break for it while none of my other sisters have any interest in sewing. :) I love having her sewing machine in my house. I can't really explain why, but it just kind of feels like she's nearby when I see it on my table. Those of you who knew my mother know she's an amazing seamstress. She made this:

and these:

and all of these:

She can do anything. Naturally, I've always wanted to enjoy sewing, because I've always wanted to be like her. Cooking has never intimidated me. Pie crusts, bread making, baking in general, yes maybe that once intimidated me because the measurements need to be exact when you're baking and I like to be more flexible when I'm cooking. But sewing freaked me out. It just never came naturally and I screwed up a lot of projects HORRIBLY. I would over-think everything and get nervous working the machine. I always felt like I was going to break something and then my Mom would yell at me. I once asked for her old Singer sewing machine that she hadn't used since either before she got married or before she had kids and she told me no, that she wanted to hold onto it. My Mom's not really the sentimental type. I was totally surprised that she wanted to hold onto something that she was obviously never going to use again. So instead she bought me a Brother Walmart special for Christmas one year. Maybe she recognized that I was not a natural-born seamstress, because she researched what was the best model of the cheapest brands. She gave me a pair of Gingher sewing shears, a 25 dollar Joann's gift certificate, and my brand new sewing machine and I decided my first project would be a pair of pajama pants for Bobby. So one night while Bobby was at his night class, I set to work on my sewing project. I bought a pattern and some cute fabric that actually matched a "quillow" my Mom made for him while he was on his mission. I set up the sewing machine on our kitchen counter because we didn't have a kitchen table and spread out all my tissue paper patterns. I was so confused- I was holding up pieces, trying to decipher which ones I needed, etc. when I started to smell burning. I look up and one of the pieces had caught FIRE from the candle I was burning. Well, I've never seen anything burn that fast. The tissue was burning rapidly and there was ashy pieces of pattern paper EVERYWHERE. Somehow I managed to still sew the pants without the necessary pieces, but the pants ended up being too small for Bobby and even too short for me. Bless his heart, he did wear them once for me.

Also, until a week and a half ago, I did not know to get my bobbin thread to come up and be ready to sew. It's embarrassing to admit. I'm embarrassed, but it's the truth. Thank you Jessica and Jenny for all your help. I'm sure I'll need more but you have both been so helpful. Ashley's birthday was coming up and I had this great idea to give her an apron. Cute sassy aprons seem to be all the rage these days for my demographic. I thought about buying her one, but then I thought, "what if sewed it?" Then I found this tutorial on this girl's blog. It's a great tutorial and really inspired me to start sewing. It is all I want to do now. I've made four aprons so far.

I also made this cute little purse for Franny. We have a reward system in place for her where I give her pennies whenever she makes a good choice. She can trade those pennies in for a bigger reward later. This system is called a token economy. I'll write more on that later. I learned about it at the autism conference I went to a couple weeks ago.

She loves the purse and wants to take it everywhere! It makes me so happy. I adapted this tutorial and didn't bother with the boomerang clip or the ID window and just added some decorative stuff and a strap. Also, I made it just a little bigger.

I have to laugh at myself. I mean, I am sort of notorious for never finishing projects. This is not really me to get into these projects. I mean, I've been to Walmart three (or is it four) times this week to pick up more fabric and sewing notions. Just ask Betsy if she's gotten the baby quilt for baby Emma yet. Oh yeah, how old is she now? Almost 2 1/2? Sewing makes me feel better. It's probably a combination of wanting to be like her and wanting to do something that would make her happy and proud. So I feel a little embarrassed about being such a super-spaz, but I think I'm just going to roll with it and hey, at least I'm learning to sew!

Monday, April 14, 2008

I want a cookie.

Franny makes spontaneous requests. She is able to ask for just about anything she wants using her words. We are so pleased that she is capable of this level of communication and know that it has taken a great deal of work to get her to this point, and we are grateful for all the help we've received from various people in achieving this end. However, her requests sometimes can seem a little excessive.

The other night I was on the phone and cleaning the kitchen before dinner. We had dinner planned and Franny came in and asked, or rather demanded, that we have bacon. Bacon was not part of our dinner plans.

"Just a minute, honey. Mommy's on the phone."
"Bacon. I want bacon."
Me on the phone: "Blah blah blah, kids are crazy, blah blah blah"
"Bacon, bacon. . . BACON!!!"
Me, firm and with authority: "Franny, I am on the phone. You will wait until I am finished on the phone and then I will make you bacon."
Her: "Bacon, bacon, bacon..."

So last night I was sewing and the girls were playing with Bobby on the bed in our bedroom and Franny said, "Cookie. I want a cookie. Can I have a cookie please?"

Now Bobby had probably just only minutes before procured for her a glass of milk. Her requests come rather frequently sometimes. Comfortable and settled on our bed, with two cute little brunettes under each arm and not wanting to venture into the kitchen again, he answered flippantly, "I don't know Franny. I'll pray about it." Franny folds her arms and closes her eyes and says: "Dear Heavenly Father, mumble mumble gibberish... cookie? mumble mumble he said no... Jesus Christ Amen."

We were unsuccessful at stifling our giggles and Bobby asked her what Heavenly Father said. She then said, "Heavenly Father. . . okay." Bobby said, "that's good enough for me!" And then he was off to the kitchen to fetch a cookie.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

French Food

Yeah, we're pretty classy around here on Thursday nights. French Dip Sandwiches and French fries. I was reading My Kitchen Cafe and saw she made something similar to my recipe and was reminded that we hadn't had this meal in a while and I started to crave it!

I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite Thursday night meals. I think it might be because growing up my Mom always took us into Fountain Valley for dance lessons with Miss Joan on Thursday nights and she didn't have time to make anything but a crockpot dinner, so we would often have this.

1 3-lb boneless chuck roast
1 packet au jus mix
1 tsp garlic powder
½ yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Place roast and sliced onions in slow cooker
Prepare gravy according to package directions and pour over roast and onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder (and onion powder if using), salt and pepper.
Cover. Cook on low all day (8 hours). Shred meet and return to slow cooker.

(I didn't start making this until about 12:30 PM, so I used my pretty new blue cast iron pot in lieu of the crockpot. It only took 3 1/2 hours for the meat to be tender enough to shred. I ended up shredding it after about 4 hours and just keeping it in the pot until we were ready to eat.)

Deli rolls
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat your broiler. Place your rolls facing up on cookie sheet and butter bottom side and sprinkle top side with shredded mozzarella. Broil until golden brown. (Keep an eye on them. Should only take 2 or 3 minutes, maybe less depending on how close your rolls are to the broiler.)

Put the shredded meat on your sandwiches, cut in half, and serve with a small cup of the juices from your crockpot.

My mom and dad always served these sandwiches with frozen fries that you bake in the oven. We do that, too, but lately I've been serving them with homemade fries and fry sauce. Yes, I allowed myself to be seduced by the creamy indulgences of a high ration of mayo to ketchup long ago.

In other news, we discovered on Friday that Franny can have No Bake cookies with just a few minor adjustments! I substituted margarine for butter (something that I never thought I would say- but hey, you make certain sacrifices for your kids when you're a mom ;) and rice milk for regular milk. I thought they tasted great. Franny, unfortunately, did not. On the upside, Bobby and I got to pig out on delicious No Bake cookies, so we didn't mind too much that Franny wasn't interested.

We all live in a yellow submarine

Today was Miss Sophie's first day in nursery. She LOVED it! And so did I. I came home from church in the BEST mood and I know it's because for once I wasn't wrestling, chasing, and entertaining a tired 18-month old, while simultaneously trying to get Relief Society attendance rolls in three different places, ask two sisters to give the prayer, photocopy newsletters, and still be spiritually edified. It made such a difference!

When church is over, our whole building turns into a freaking zoo. For some reason, one side of the church is practically vacant, and the other side is jam-packed with a bottle-neck every five paces. It's all that a hungry and cranky Mom can do not to flop on the floor and throw a Franny-style tantrum, circa 2006. Okay, it's not that bad, but some of you who read my blog attend church in my building. Have you noticed this phenomenon? Well, like I said, I was in such a good mood today that I didn't even notice the mass hysteria that usually ensues after the third hour of church. Yahoo for nursery! Here are some cute shots I took of her after church today in her new dress from her Grandpa.

I think Sophie should have been born with naturally curly hair. It suits her. My mom loved our hair in curls. We slept in pink sponge curlers every Saturday night when we were kids. So when I decided to curl the girls' hair for Julia's wedding, I did it for her. Now every time I see their hair in curls, it makes me smile because I know how much my Mom would love it. When Franny was a brand-new baby, my mom tried so hard to "scrunch" her hair with a little product. It was pretty funny watching her try and style a newborn baby's hair.

This afternoon we played Duck, duck goose for like half an hour. Then we played London Bridges for a while, and then Ring Around the Rosy. I'm starting to see why having a lot of kids could be a lot of fun. I love watching my girls interact with each other. It is so much fun to watch them learn and grow and become friends. I feel like this week I've had so many of those "moments" that Elder Ballard described in his talk. Lately, when Sophie (who by the way is uber-clutzy) hurts herself, Franny runs to her side to give her comfort and ask if she is okay. Tonight I feel really happy. I often feel happy, but ever since my Mom died that happy feeling is kind of laced with a sadness that just doesn't go away. I think that's probably normal. It hasn't even been a year yet. But sometimes that layer of sadness is lifted for a little while, and for once it just doesn't hurt as much as it did the night before. I am grateful for nights like tonight.

Is Sophie flipping me off in this picture? What's up with that?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Can I get you anything? Milk, water, rack of lamb?

My brother used to say that to me all the time. I think it was his way of making a fat joke. :)

It just occurred to me that I really did serve myself a whole rack of lamb! Bobby was REALLY sick last week and I needed to use this meat before it went back, so even though I didn't finish the whole thing off myself, I prepared the whole thing for MYSELF.

On our last trip to Whole Foods in Kansas City (on the way home from the airport), I picked up a few goodies, one of which was my first rack of lamb! I also picked up a fennel bulb. I've been seeing a lot of recipes with fennel, but I can't get it here where I live, so I thought I'd better grab one while I could.

Rack of Lamb Persillade (from Barefoot in Paris)

3 small or 2 large racks of lamb, frenched
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic cloves (3 cloves)
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the racks in a roasting pan, fat side up. Rub the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until they're both finely minced. Add the bread crumbs and lemon zest and process for a second until combined.

Take the lamb out of the oven and quickly press the parsley mixture on top of the meat. Drizzle with the melted butter and return immediately to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes.

Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, cut in double chops, and serve.

Roasted Fennel

  • 2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.

2 Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with silpat or aluminum foil. Lay out piece of fennel and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

This was pretty tasty, but I think next time I'll try a fennel-potato gratin.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The day before the wedding and the day before that

Franny and I had our nails done together on Thursday for the wedding. It was SO MUCH FUN!!! She thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and so did I! I was so proud of her for sitting so still while she was getting pampered and after while I was getting pampered.

Friday we all met at the church building to help put together the flowers for the wedding party and the centerpieces at the reception. She wanted vases filled with small limes and pink roses. They were really cute! I'm not sure if I got a picture of the finished product, so you may just have to take my word for it. We were there for several hours and Sophie and Franny were both real troopers! Sophie poured her water bottle on herself three or four times, soaking ALL of her clothes, so she just ran around the building in just her diaper (sometimes less!) Most of the time I didn't even know where she was- thank goodness Grant was around to keep an eye on her. That's my Aunt Gayle, Grant's sister Heidi, and his mom Sheryl doing an awesome job on the bouquets. (Mine was terrible! I wouldn't be surprised if someone had to go back and fix mine afterwards.)

Later that night we went to a dinner in honor of Julia and Grant and hosted by the Holmes. It was a really fun night with delicious food and great company. The highlight of the evening for me had to be when the fathers of the couple were getting ready to say a few words and Sophie lost her grasp on her balloon. The string was just out of my reach and Sophie was on the verge of a meltdown; I thought I could gracefully jump and grab the string but I was wrong. Instead a room of full of Julia and Grant's relatives saw me jumping and grabbing at air. That must have looked cool.

Clock-wise: The happy couple- aren't they cute together? Grant cracks me up when he makes that face. Richard and Kristy pretending they just met. Poor Franny, asleep and face-down on the couch. My Dad and Grant's dad saying a few words. (Which I barely heard any of, thanks to Sophie and her incessant whining over a certain balloon. It took my kids a little too long to adjust to the time change.)
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