Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New family member-- Tobie!

Long time no blog! Time has been FLYING for the last few months. I can't believe its already December. Good thing I'mm done with Christmas shopping. :)
We have a new family member. His name is Tobie and he gets along famously with the kitties. Ralfie adores him. The doggies walk shoulder to shoulder everywhere, play together, sleep together, etc. It's been great so far and only one potty accident. His first vet appointment with our vet is Friday-- I think he may have an ear infection. Poor little guy keeps rubbing his ears on the carpet all the time. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Minneapolis Vacation-- Wednesday

We also did a lot on Wednesday. We started at the James Hill House. James Hill is not only the name of one of my uncles, but also the name of the guy that built the railroad we traveled on to get to Minneapolis. His house was built at the turn of the century and is about 30,000 square feet. It was HUGE and filled with beautiful trim, tile, woodwork, etc. There was a kitchen in the basement that had a gas stove and a prep area on the main floor next to the dining room that had hot and cold cabinets where the food was stored until served. The coolest thing was the clothes dryer system. The system contained large wooden slats that hung over steam pipes. As steam ran through the pipes, the heat dried the clothes. Not bad for the 1890's!

The first picture is the front of the house. The bricks are a darker color because of the coal that used to be used to heat the furnace. The second picture is the buffet in the dining room. The third picture is the clothes dryer. The slats slid out so the clothes could be hung above the steam pipes.

After the Hill House, we went to the St. Paul Cathedral across the street. The church was filled with ornate stained glass, beautiful painted ceilings, and elegant statues. Here are a few pictures.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Minneapolis Vacation-- Monday and Tuesday

On Monday morning, we went to the Midtown Global Market. The global market is a collection of shops, delis and restaurants from around the world. My favorites were the Italian deli (fresh cheese, salami, and other meats), the Farm Stand (local cheeses and meats), and the soap shop. I got some rosemary mint soap that tingles nicely.

After the Market, we went to see Shanna at the University. She's a professor there. Here she is in the University of Minnesota mascot hat. Isn't she cute??

We ate lunch at a wonderful Italian deli and ventured off to the Zoo/Conservatory. Sam had never been to the Zoo-- he goes to the conservatory to beat the winter blues and the zoo is closed at that time. Admission to the Zoo/Conservatory is just $1! We saw a baby orangutan. sleeping monkeys with their tails wrapped together, a snow leopard, tigers, lions and giraffes.

Next, we went into the Conservatory. It took my breath away! The plants were beautiful.

Tuesday, I tortured my poor husband by taking him to the Mall of America. We spent about 5 hours just walking on every floor. I didn't go into too many stores. It was a great way to get our exercise for the day!

Minneapolis Vacation--Sunday's Activities

It's been a while! Ty and I just got back from a vacation to Minneapolis. We drove to Havre, MT to catch the train (Amtrak) to Minneapolis. The way there was really nice. We left Havre at 3:30 pm and arrive in Minneapolis the next day at 8:00 am. I was surprised at how comfortable the travel was. The train had a dining car where you could sit down to eat dinner and a snack car if you just wanted a little something. I saw several deer as we passed through Montana and North Dakota-- plus, I finished reading two books.

Once we arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday Morning, Sam (my uncle) took us to the Rennaissance Festival. It was really cool. People dressed in costumes and there were several fun shows to attend-- fire breathers, comedians, and magic shows. Here are a few pics from the fair...

That was it for Monday. We were tired after that long train ride and took a long nap. Here is Tyson with Abbie-- Sam and Shanna's Pit Bull puppy. She's a year old and LOVES to play!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chicken Caprese Pasta

Dinner last night was great! I made Maple Grilled Chicken the other night and used it to make a Caprese Chicken pasta. To make the chicken, combine:

1T. Maple Syrup
2t. light soy sauce (reduced sodium) or light teriyaki sauce
2t. minced garlic
2t. olive oil

Pour over chicken breasts and let marinate at least overnight. Grill or broil for 7 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature registers at least 165°F.

To make the pasta, you will need:

6 oz. pasta (I use Dreamfields-- less digestable carbs) cooked according to package directions
1 small tomato, chopped
3T. chopped fresh basil
1T. chopped fresh parsley
1T. lemon juice or balsalmic vinegar
2t. olive oil
1 oz. light mozarella cheese, cut into chunks (Sargento makes a good light mozarella cheesestick)

Just combine everything in a bowl, plate it, season with salt and pepper, and top with chicken. Yummy!

While I was cooking, Charlie and Ralfie were playing in the back yard. Then they decided that it might rain soon and they should come in. Here they are waiting for me to open the door.

Until next time.... enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Howdy Ho!

Hello again, everyone!

Isn't Ralfie cute? He just got his hair cut again a couple weeks ago. He loves his bandana and enjoys going for walks around the neighborhood every night. He also knows what 'go for a ride' means now and is very proud that he can jump in the car by himself. They grow up so fast! Ha ha. And what have the kitties been up to? Well, lets take a look....

Charlie is hoping, wishing, and waiting patiently for the elusive Spring weather. We get 1 to 2 days of great weather, then it snows again. Charlie loves to be outside when it's warm and he's made a few friends (neighborhood cats that wait for him to come outside). I didn't know cats had playdates!

Ralfie is trying to increase his function as a vacuum in the kitchen. He waits patiently while anyone is fixing anything, just hoping something good will fall while he's paying attention. Good dog! This is also his 'I want a treat' face.

We recently recovered our orange dining room chairs with a pretty green fabric that matches the dining room rug nicely. Mocha loves to sit on one of the cushy chairs to take a nap in the sun. She can't wait for Spring to be here either.

In fact, she thinks she's ready to go on a vacation. We got the kitty carrier out to take Charlie to the vet and found Mocha chilling out in it. She likes to be in enclosed spaces-- closets, cupboards, boxes, etc.

Remember that crazy Idaho weather I've been telling you about? Well, on Monday it was 70°F outside. This is what it looked like yesterday morning:

Yes, my poor baby Maple trees are covered in snow. Good thing it didn't stick! Here's hoping for more nice weather for all of us. TTFN!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

White Fish with tomatoes, olives and feta

I made a really yummy dinner last night-- white fish with tomatoes, olives and feta. First, I scrubbed a medium red potato and sliced it 1/8" thick. I divided the resulting slices in half and layered each on an 11x18 piece of aluminum foil. I laid a 6 oz. filet of fish (about 3/4" thick; I used red snapper this time) on top of each and sprayed it with olive oil spray. Next, I sprinkled the top with a little citrus herb seasoning, then sliced a small roma tomato and put the slices on top of the fish. I added five halved olives to each filet (I used green olives, but kalamata would also be good). I topped this with 1 oz. reduced fat feta cheese and 1 tsp. lemon juice. I rolled the foil into packets and cooked them in a 450°F oven for 15 minutes. Yum!

We planted two trees in our front yard on Sunday. Tonight, I'm going to steak them down so they don't tilt in the wind. Yesterday and today were very nice, but tomorrow the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worse. I sure wish mother nature would make up her mind!

Things are going well. All the pets are happy. My house isn't clean yet, but I'm getting there! :) Also, since my parents and brother have moved out, I've been able to concentrate more on my diet. No more potato chips or ice cream cones around the house to tempt me. I'm just not that strong all the time! I also started my workout routine again-- but Denise Austin isn't on Lifetime anymore to record. Instead, I've been picking a couple of workouts from the Cardio Blast DVD and the Target Toner DVD to mix things up. I also take Ralfie for a 30 minute walk every night after work. It's good for both of us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Long time no see! (Greek Salad)

My goodness it's been a while! Things have been great, but really busy. Mom, Dad and Ryan are still with us, but are in the moving stage. Most of their belongings are in the garage of their new home-- just waiting for the hardwood and tiled floors to be sealed one more time before officially moving in. We should be lugging things in this weekend. I'm excited for them, but sad at the same time. It will be very different not having as many people around.

The pets are doing well. We got a surprise the Saturday before last. I took Charlie in for his annual checkup and found out that he had FORLs. That means that his immune system started attacking his teeth and they were rotting from the inside out. He had to go into surgery and have all his teeth removed with the exception of his bottom fangs and the very front teeth on the top and bottom. They gave him a pain patch along with droppers containing pain medication and antibiotics to be administered every 12 hours. We took the pain patch off last night and he is doing very well. He really likes getting canned cat food every day, but isn't so keen on the dropper medicines.

I started a new thing at work-- Ladies Friday Lunch. A group of six of us get together every Friday and we take turns making lunch. The only stipulation we have is that the lunch must be healthy. So far, I've made Greek salad and Lynn made some wonderful corn curry (indian food). I can't wait to see what everyone else will make! Here's the recipe for my greek salad:

1 head romaine, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, cored and chopped
10 kalamata olives, halved
6 pepperonchinis, seeded and cut in half
1 small can artichoke hearts in oil, drained with oil reserved
4 oz. fat free feta cheese

3T. oil from artichoke hearts
Juice of half a lemon
1/2t. dried oregano
1/4t. pepper

Place dressing ingredients in a jar and shake. Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour the dressing over it. Toss well to coat everything with the dressing and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Nice Weekend (BBQ Pork Chops and Cinnamon Apples)

Yesterday, it rained and snowed. Today, the sun is shining and the snow is melting. It might even be over 40 degrees out there! I took Ralfie on his first walk and he did pretty well. He didn't know what to think of the leash, but I think he'll get the hang of it with more practice. Right now he's pouting because Charlie is outside without him.

Mom, Dad and Ryan have moved in. Things are going great so far. No one is clashing for time in the bathroom and Ralfie is sleeping at night. It's been really fun cooking for 5 instead of two. Plus, leftovers don't last in the fridge for long. I've been making some of my favorites for them. Have you tried BBQ pork chops with cinnamon apples? It's really good.

Here's how you do it:
First, turn on your broiler. Then combine 1/4c. ketchup, 1/4c. packed brown sugar (or 2T. brown sugar substitute), 1T. Worcestershire sauce and 1T. low-sodium soy sauce. Place half in a separate bowl and set aside.

Combine 1t. dried thyme, 1t. garlic salt, and 1/4t. cayenne pepper and sprinkle evenly over both sides of 6 bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick, fat trimmed off). Coat a grill pan or broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray (I use Pam for grilling) and broil for 6 minutes on each side, using half of the sauce to brush the pork chops while cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for at least 5 mintes. Spoon the reserved sauce over the top and serve.

For the apples, peel and cut up about 2 lbs. of granny smith apples into small chunks. Place 3T. butter in a skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add the apples and saute until the apples are tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Add 1/2c. packed brown sugar and 1/8 t. ground cinnamon. Cook an additional minute or until the sugar melts. Delicious!

Well, I'm going to go back outside to enjoy the day. TTFN!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cumin Dusted Chicken with Guac Sauce

Last night we had a very good dinner-- Cumin Dusted Chicken with Guacamole Sauce that I adapted from Cooking Light. First, I made the guacamole sauce by mashing one ripe avacado with 1 finely chopped scallion, 1/4c. chopped parsley, 1/4c. light sour cream, 2T. fresh lime juice, 1/4t. lite salt, 1/8t. freshly toasted and ground cumin, and 1/8t. cayenne pepper.
Next, I preheated the oven to 400*F and made a spice rub for the chicken using 1T. brown sugar substitute, 1t. freshly toasted and ground cumin, 1/2t. lite salt and 1/2t. freshly ground black pepper. I pounded the chicken to an even thickness and sprinkled the spice rub on top.
I preheated a skillet over medium heat and sprayed it with olive oil spray before adding the chicken. I cooked the chicken for 3 minutes on each side, then put it in the hot oven for 7 minutes. I served it with salad and raw sugar snap peas (not pictured). It was very good! I have lots of leftover guacamole sauce that will be great on fish as well. We're having flank steak with mushrooms tonight, so I'll have to take the guac to work with me tomorrow.
I made a fabulous soup for lunch today-- Spinach and Sausage Soup (also adapted from Cooking Light). I started by browning 10 oz. of sweet italian turkey sausage in a large saucepan with olive oil spray. Next, I added one onion (chopped) and 2t. minced garlic. I cooked this for 3-5 minutes, and added 1t. dried oregano, 1/2c. water, 1 can white beans (drained and rinsed), 1 can low sodium chicken broth, and 1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes. I let it simmer for about 10 minutes, then I removed it from the heat and added 2c. spinach and 1T. chopped fresh basil. I served it in a small bowl with a bit of grated parmesan on top.
The rock on the fireplace in the new house is done and it looks beautiful. Not long now!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ralfie's first haircut

Ralfie got his first haircut today. He looks so different-- he went blonde! The groomer trimmed away all of his dark ends. He's looking more and more like a Shih Tzu. Below is a picture of Ralfie before his haircut and a picture of Ralfie after his haircut. When we brought him home, Charlie didn't recognize him. He arched his back and hissed at his little buddy. It didn't take him long to recognize our little pup and they were back to their usual shinnannigans.

Ralfie before his first haircut.

Ralfie after his haircut.

Dad, Tyson, Ryan, Morgan, Uncle Jim and Matt worked really hard today getting the big stuff moved. This next week is the last week my parents and Ryan will have in the Shelley house. Not much left to do now. Next weekend (not this weekend like I thought), they will be moving to our house. Fun fun!

Tonight I made Sloppy Joes from the LA Weight Loss cookbook. They were much better the last time I made them because I had fresh tomatoes. I had to use canned tonight and it wasn't as good. Next time, I'll be sure to have those fresh tomatoes. I gave the dish more flavor by adding some BBQ sauce and served it with Buddy's Salad. Here's a head-scratcher for you... Tyson says he doesn't like garlic, but he loves Buddy's Salad which is LOADED with garlic. His tastebuds are slowly starting to expand. Yeah! Charlie waited next to the garage door while I cooked and Mocha played with a kitty treat on the kitchen table. One of her favorite games is to jump on the table and see how far she can move the tablecloth without falling off. We have to be really careful about what we set on the table!

Sloppy Joes cooking in the pot. Made with ground turkey, tomatoes, and green peppers.

Charlie waiting to play in the garage-- one of his favorite winter activities.

Sloppy Joes and Buddy's Salad for dinner. The bread is sourdough.

Mocha caught playing on the table. Silly kitty.

This last week, I went to BYU for another panel. Linda and I were quite adventurous in our dining choices. We had Mexican for lunch on the way down (tortilla soup), wonderful Italian at Ottavio's (caprese, salad with vinaigrette, and shrimp scampi over angelhair pasta), French dips for lunch the next day, and Peruvian for dinner (with chicha mirada of course). Linda told me she hoped there wasn't a civil war in her tummy. She's a very nice lady that is easy to work with and even more enjoyable be around. I love working with her. Well, that's enough for now! TTFN!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Do the Amish buy vanilla pudding? (Potstickers Recipe)

I recently got a starter from a friend for 'Amish Friendship Bread'. It makes a dense, moist bread that is more like a cake. It was very easy to manage and I reduced the fat by using skim milk and replacing half of the vegetable oil with applesauce. For several variations, go to . They all sound good! However, looking at the recipe made me wonder whether or not the Amish would buy instant vanilla pudding. After reading bit on the internet, I have concluded that those in an Old Order Amish community would not buy instant vanilla pudding, but those in the Beachy or New Order Amish communities might. Very interesting!

Things are also coming along for my parents and their new house. The painting got done yesterday and the mantle is up above the fireplace. Floors and cabinets are next. I'll take some pictures and post them once everything is done. Ralfie loves running through the house. The other day, he found a piece of sanding paper and was so proud of himself. He didn't try to chew on it very long. Must not have liked the texture.

Happy belated Chinese New Year! I arranged for us to order in Chinese food at work for lunch and made some yummy Potstickers I found at Food Network. The filling consisted of 2c. nappa cabbage (wilted with 1 1/2t. salt and drained), 1/2lb. ground pork, 2T. ginger, 1 1/2T. garlic, 2T. soy sauce (reduced sodium), 3T. toasted sesame oil and 1 egg. I cheated and bought wrappers at the grocery store. Once the dumplings were filled and sealed, I cooked a pan full in a skillet over medium high heat with 1-2T. vegetable oil (depending on pan size). After 3 minutes, I added 1c. water and clamped on the lid. I steamed the dumplings for 7 minutes. They came out perfect! I also made a dipping sauce using 1/3c. soy sauce (low sodium), 1/3c. Rice vinegar, 1t. toasted sesame oil, 1 scallion sliced thin, and 1T. Sambal (garlic chile paste).

I have to go out of town tomorrow, so there won't be any posts for a few days. Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mama Mia Pizza-ria!

I made thin-crust pizza last night. Yummy! For the dough, place 2t. yeast (1 packet) in 1 cup of warm water with 1t. sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then add 2T. olive oil and 1t. kosher salt. Slowly stir in 2c. bread flour until a stiff dough forms (about 5-8 minutes, I use my kitchenaid mixer). Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.

FOR A THIN CRUST, divide the dough in half and place on a greased 12" pizza pan. Spray the top and your hands will olive oil spray. Working from the middle out, spread and stretch the dough to cover the entire pan, then poke with a fork every inch or so. Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until it just begins to brown. Take out of the oven, top with toppings, and slide directly onto the oven rack. Continue to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. You may use the other half of the dough, or freeze it. If frozen, place in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it. You may need to let it rest for 30 mintues at room temperature to be able to stretch it to the pan.

FOR A THICK CRUST: Place entire ball of dough on a greased 12" deep dish pizza pan or on a half sheet pan. Spray the top and your hands with olive oil spray. Spread and stretch the dough to cover the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. Bake in preheated 350*F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Remove from oven, top with toppings, then return to the oven by sliding directly onto the oven rack. Continue to bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

I use the tomato sauce with garlic, basil and oregano as my sauce, and I use a basting brush to 'paint' it onto the crust. Ty's favorite toppings are pepperoni, black or green olives, and mushrooms. My new favorite is pesto sauce, parmesan/mozzarella cheese, roasted chicken, artichoke hearts, spinach, green olives and green peppers with fresh tomato on top.

Enjoy your pizza!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fish with Lemon-Parsley Sauce

Another great recipe I created this weekend.... Fish with lemon-parsley sauce. I used salmon, but other fish would work, too. I started by melting 1T. butter and 2T. olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. While it was heating, I rinsed the fish and cut it into two portions, then dried with paper towels and sprinkled with lite salt and pepper. Then I placed it in the pan, presentation side down, for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, I flipped it so that the skin side was down and cooked another 2 minutes. Then I added the zest of 1 lemon along with the juice and 1/2c. water (white wine would also be good). I clamped the lid on and let it steam for 7 minutes, or until the center of the fish flaked easily. Once cooked, I removed the fish and added the parsley to the pan. I cooked this over medium heat until slightly thickened. I arranged the fish on a plate with steamed broccoli and thin slices of lemon, then spooned the sauce on top. The fish was moist and flavorful. Yummy!

I'm pretty sore from shoveling this weekend. We got a lot of snow! When we got home from work on Friday, Tyson and I shoveled a 3-4ft tall drift out of the driveway. The next day (Saturday), we had the pleasure of scooping another 3-4 inches up, and Sunday, yet another 2-3 inches. This morning I woke up to.. you guessed it.. more snow! We're supposed to get a break from the white stuff for a few days (thank goodness). Ralfie loves it. He buries his face in it and walks around. When he comes inside, he looks like a little mountain-man with snow all over his face and beard.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I feel like Tacos tonight!

There is a new thing in the refrigerator section of the grocery store-- raw tortillas! Just place in an ungreased skillet over medium heat for 1 minute on each side and you are in tortilla heaven. It's just like the tortillas at the good mexican restaraunt in town. Yum! I had to come up with my own blend of taco seasoning to keep my hubby happy. The seasoning is: 1T. cinnamon, 1T. ground toasted cumin seeds, 1t. garlic powder, 1t. onion powder and 1t. salt. Shake it up in a jar and use as necessary. It's great on chicken, fish or beef. I also like to add a little lime juice and cilantro to the taco to make it taste a bit more authentic. A little shredded cabbage instead of lettuce is another nice change. Man, I miss Patty's Kitchen in Moscow. I really want the tomatillo salsa. I know how to make it at home, but I don't have time tonight!

The parents' house now has a stair rail. The countdown to mid-March has begun. My family has until Feb 26th to move out of the old house, so they will live with Tyson and I until the new house is finished. My mom is very excited about playing with the puppy for a few weeks. I'm excited to cook for 5 people! It's very difficult to cook for two. Lots of leftovers. I guess they make a good lunch the next day. :)

Last night, I went and cleared out some things I had stored above the shop at the house in Shelley. Holy cow, I had no idea I was such a packrat. I need to work on that. I found my high school yearbooks-- those should be fun to go through.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pesto Tomato Soup

Hey everyone,

I just made some very good soup for dinner last night-- Pesto Tomato Soup. It was so easy! First, I sauteed 1 medium onion (chopped) and 1/2t. salt in 3T. of butter for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Next, I added one can (14.5 oz.) of diced tomatoes and one 14 oz. can of low sodium, lowfat chicken broth. I brought this to a boil, turned the heat to low, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat and used my hand blender to zip up the soup into a puree. A blender would work, but I don't like trying to transfer hot soup around. :) After the soup was thoroughly 'zipped', I added 2T. of pesto (frozen in my freezer) and stirred until it was completely melted into the soup. You may also add 1/2c. cream to add to the mouthfeel if you'd like a silkier texture. I served it with some whole wheat bread I made eariler that day. Soooo good! Once I figure out where my camera cable is, I can start posting pics of the food for you to enjoy.

Ralfie, my 15-week old Shih tzu, slept on the kitchen rug while I cooked. He loves it when I'm inthe kitchen and stay in the same area. Such a cutie! We got lots of heavy, wet snow yesterday. I let Ralfie and one of the kitties (Charlie) out at about 8pm and noticed it was very slick. Charlie was puzzled when he walked down the driveway and suddenly found himself sitting down instead of standing. He puffed his tail and came running back in-- did not like the ice at all. Ralfie just jumped from the sidewalk onto the snow and jumped through the snow.

Have a great day! I'll post again when I make something else really yummy!