Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fish in Parchment Paper

Have you ever wondered how they make fish stay moist? Have you ever wanted to make something you know costs lots of money in the restaurant? Then fish cooked in parchment paper is for you.

This truly is an easy recipe. And you can do all sorts of variations to it with vegetables and seasonings. But for my first try I wanted simple.

Fish in Parchment Paper
Recipe courtesy of

1 (6-ounce) firm-fleshed white-fish fillet, such as halibut, cod, or haddock (the fillet should be between 3/4 and 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, cut in half (optional)
Fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or chervil (optional)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 thin lemon slices
1 tablespoon dry white wine or water

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Draw out a large piece of parchment paper (about 17 by 11 inches) and, with one of the longer edges closest you, fold it in half from left to right. Using scissors, cut out a large heart shape.
  3. Place the fish in the center of one half of the parchment heart. (The heart should be large enough that there is at least a 1-1/2-inch border around the fillet.)
  4. Set the parchment heart on a baking sheet. Drizzle the fish with half of the olive oil, rub the oil all over the fillet, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Lay half of the bay leaf and a few sprigs of herbs (if using) on top of the fish. Break the butter into little pieces and arrange them on top of the herbs.
  6. Place the lemon slices over everything and drizzle with the remaining oil.
  7. Fold the parchment heart over to cover the fish. (The edges of the heart should line up.) Starting at the rounded end, crimp the edges together, folding them over themselves and leaving the last two inches at the pointed end unfolded. Slightly tilt the package up and pour in the wine or water. Finish crimping the edges, then twist the pointed end around once and fold the “tail” under.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes for a 3/4-inch-thick fillet or 12 minutes for a 1- to 1-1/4-inch-thick fillet.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the parchment package to a dinner plate. Serve immediately, cutting into the parchment tableside using scissors or a knife.
I used a little dried herbs instead of fresh and also just water because I didn't have any wine open. I will definitely be making this again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hodgepodge - The SUPER Version

Joining up with Joyce for this week's hodgepodge question. I promise it will be SUPER!

1. In the USA this coming Sunday millions will be watching as the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49's in the Superbowl. What was the last event you attended that could be described as super?

I can see that we are going to get lots of different kinds of answers on this question. I'm going to go with Whitney's high school graduation. It was super because both her grandmothers were here and that it symbolized all the hard work she had put into school by graduating with a 4.0 GPA. It closed out a chapter in her life and opened up a new exciting one. So that's why it was super.

2. Share something you're a fan of these days?

I'm a fan of my ipad. I love the portability and ease of taking it everywhere.

3. How do you feel about wings? In case anyone is confused, I'm talking the edible appetizer kind. What's your preferred seasoning on a wing-hot, mild, teryiaki, sweet and sour, other? Do you make your own or is there a favorite place you like to go for wings?

We used to make wings and then we stopped. I think because they tend to be greasy and I really try and avoid greasy food. But when we did make them we liked them HOT. So hot that I would have a coughing fit immediately on first bite. And I better have taken some heartburn medicine beforehand.

4. As long as we're talking sports today...have you followed the Lance Armstrong story? Did you watch his interview with Oprah and if so what was your reaction to his confession and subsequent remarks?

Didn't watch, don't care.

5. What's a question you hate to be asked?

What do you want for Christmas? I'm terrible at lists although last year I did a good job I think of writing stuff down.

6. The coaches in this Sunday's big game happen to be real life brothers. Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49er's and his older brother John Harbaugh coaches the Baltimore Ravens. Were you and your sibling(s) competitive? In what way? Are you still? If you're an only child how did you handle competition growing up?

I'm competitive in the sense that I hate to lose (although getting older I'm a little better than when I was young). I don't think I was competitive with my brother only because we didn't do anything the same. Neither of us were into sports so that probably helped.

7. What's your favorite game involving a ball and when did you last play?

Baseball is my favorite game and I've never played. But I've watched many, many games.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Whitney sent me this video. It's a pep talk by Kid President. You have to watch it. Things to take away from it...It is easy to be boring. So don't be boring.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meatloaf - The Chew Way

I decided that comfort food was needed on the weekend. Normally when I make meatloaf I just wing it with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But I wanted to try something new and went with a recipe from The Chew.

Carla Hall's Meatloaf
Recipe courtesy of The Chew

1/3 cup Milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 small onion (grated)
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 eggs
1/3 cup prepared horseradish (I left this out)
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs and milk until breadcrumbs are coated. To bowl add the remaining ingredients and mix until combines.

Pack mixture into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan. Bake until the loaf has an internal temperature of 155°F, 60 to 75 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

This was super flavorful and actually a little too moist. The grated onion and carrot had a lot of water so I think that made the mixture loose. I usually cook my meatloaf on a cooling rack on a sheet pan so the fat can drip out of it. The meatloaf was so loose that it sunk through the rack. Next time I will try and add more breadcrumbs.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Wrapup

Remember how I said we would order the new door this weekend. We went to Lowe's but they wouldn't let us order the door until the installer comes out to measure the door opening. So now I have to wait a couple of days to order the door. But we did buy the new locks for both the front and back door. I didn't realize that they don't have door knobs on front entry doors anymore. They are all these push button things and only have a deadbolt. Very strange.

I made two new recipes over the weekend: meatloaf and roast chicken. I can't believe I've never roasted a whole chicken before. It was super easy although the breast meat really wasn't flavorful. I think I could get it that way with a little amped up seasoning though. But now we have leftovers for most of the week.

Tonight is a big event at church for women. Over 1,000 tickets sold already for Girlfriends with special guest Holly Wagner. I got talked into head ushering tonight. Good news is I get to reserve my seat. I'm bringing someone I met while ushering who is new to the church and would like to be able to spend some time with her.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eggs with Sweet Potato/Apple Pancakes

As many of you have gathered, I'm obsessed with The Chew on ABC. I've had the cookbook since November and hadn't made anything. Partly because I'm afraid to bend the pages too much since Michael Symon autographed it. But he said use it to cook, so cook I did.

The first recipe I made was actually from Daphne Oz. Normally I wouldn't have made something of hers but she used sweet potatoes and I'm trying to expand what I use them for. Plus I thought this would be easy to make and Dan would eat it.

Eggs with Sweet Potato and Apple Pancakes
Recipe courtesy of The Chew


5 fresh eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 sweet potato peeled and grated
1/2 onion grated
1/2 apple grated
1 carrot grated
2 egg whites lightly beaten
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a pan lightly poach eggs.

In a medium-sized skillet heat 1/3 cup olive oil to medium-high heat.

Grate the sweet potatoes, onion, apple and carrot. Ring out the shavings in a cheese cloth or paper towel (this is to ensure the pancakes won't be soggy). Then in a large bowl, place shredded sweet potatoes, grated onion, grated apple, grated carrot, 2 egg whites and 1/4 cup flour. Then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.

In a medium-sized skillet, Combine and drop: enough batter into hot oil to make 2 1/2-3 inch pancakes. Add more oil, as needed, and fry cakes in batches until golden on each side.

I wasn't sure what size of any of the vegetables to use. I used half of a Fuji apple since I like those. I also used a smallish onion and my sweet potato was medium large. I made three pancakes the first night and then the second day I cooked up the rest for lunch.

This was really nice. I decided that I didn't even need the egg to complete the dish.

Now it is time for me to tackle some more recipes from this cookbook.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fragments

Yes it is another edition of Friday Fragments. The best way to end the work week.
Mommy's Idea

We have one item off the home improvement list...fix the ice maker in the fridge. Of course that still leaves three pages of other things. But we should go order the door this weekend.

Stupid criminal this week is from Columbia (the country). Seems as if three men tried to rob a grocery store but their getaway vehicle was a little loud and woke up the neighbors. You ask what was the vehicle...why a donkey of course. You just can't make this stuff up people.

I'm not going to talk about weather because we are lucky. Other than Thursday all week was in the 50-60 range. I would like rain however. Pretty please.

Oh my, Glee did the big butt song. I've heard the crooner version before but this was ten times worse. And I think it was one of the worst episodes that they have ever done.

I hit Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday after getting my hair done and they still had some Christmas clearance stuff. I got two cute snowman soap dispensers for 60 cents each. They had Yankee Candles in the fall and winter smells 50% off but they still are so darn expensive. I'm going to wait to see if they come down in price some more and then I'll get some.

I broke my comb this morning. Do you think that is a sign?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ham and Swiss Quiche

I was trying to clean out the freezer and had all of these ingredients. So I decided quiche it was.

Ham and Swiss Quiche
Recipe courtesy of

1 9" pie pastry
1 cup half and half
4 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp. honey mustard (I used Dijon)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1-1/2 cups cubed, cooked ham
1-1/2 cups shredded Swiss or Havarti cheese
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained (I only used about half of this)
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make Ham and Swiss Quiche, prepare pie crust and set aside. In medium bowl, mix half and half, eggs, mustard, flour, salt, thyme, and pepper and beat until combined.

Layer ham, Swiss cheese, and spinach in prepared pie crust. Pour egg mixture into pie crust and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-50 minutes until crust is golden and filling is set.

The key to making this work was layering the ham/cheese/spinach in the pie crust before pouring in the eggs. I've never done that before and it made for much more evenly distributed tastiness.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hodgepodge-Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

Yes it is time for this week's questions from Joyce. She's lost her voice but not her words.

1. The popular saying, 'All is fair in love and war' is originally credited to English writer John Lyly. Is he right?
No, No, No. This implies that underhanded tactics are appropriate such as tricking someone into loving you. That is just bad.

2. Are you a cereal eater? What's your favorite kind?
Yes I eat cereal EVERY SINGLE DAY. I love it. There are so many good kinds. Right now I have Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. But I also love Blueberry Mini-Wheats. I look at the calorie count for about 1 cup. That's how I determine what I buy. I like Raisin Bran but too many calories.

3. A five year old in Pennsylvania was recently given a ten day school suspension for talking with a friend about shooting one another with a Hello Kitty Bubble gun (the gun blows bubbles). She did not have the gun with her at school.

A psychological evaluation was also ordered and the incident was recorded on her permanent record. The suspension was later reduced to two days and her parents are suing to have the incident removed from her file. Your thoughts? (If you missed the story click here for details).

I hadn't heard about this story. I would think that if it was all cleared up that they could remove it from her record. I understand about taking everything seriously. But then you have to be able to correct the misunderstanding.

4. Whatever happened to_____________________________?
My first thought was Baby Jane like the movie title.

5. January 23rd is National Handwriting Day, billed as a day to reacquaint yourself with a pen and pencil. Do you like your handwriting? Do you prefer to print or write in cursive? This date was chosen because its the birth date of John Hancock. What's the last thing you signed your name to?

My signature is a chicken scratch. I've had to sign my name so much for this job that my signature went from being very readable to now being a T and then scribbles. Lucky for me most of my signature stuff is switching to electronic so no one will have to try and read my writing. The last thing I signed was a check for my niece for a fundraising event.

6. Speaking of John Hancock...ever been to Philadelphia? Do you have any desire to visit the city of Brotherly Love?
I've never been to Philadelphia but I would like to go. Just not to a sporting event. Those fans are vicious.

7. Share something funny you've heard a child say.
Our favorite line from Whitney when she was about 3. She loved the Muppets and we had a video game that you would try and throw some tomatoes at Fozzy Bear when he was telling jokes. So every time she would tell a joke, she would end with "Throw Some Tomatoes". It still makes us chuckle.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Had three good recipes from the weekend and won money on scratch off cards. Makes up for the fact that our sink quest is going down the drain.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Fragments

Have you joined Mrs. 4444 for Friday Fragments? If not, you should.

Mommy's Idea

I got a new computer at work. Huge screen and no box. It is an all in one. Only has two cords too. Of course I screwed something up on it immediately and no one knows how to fix it.

This weekend we are going to go look for a new back door and a new bathroom sink. The list of items to do for the house WILL be going down.

I found out that I'm going to get a raise for passing my certification test. Yippee!

My plea for Words with Friends players has yielded me two more opponents. If you want to play, I'm treinke65. I also do Hanging with Friends.

I finally have a stupid criminal to relate to you. A guy was arrested for shoplifting two pairs of underwear from a Dollar General store. He told police he needed the underwear to go to jail for the weekend to serve a sentence for shoplifting prior. I think he's going to need more than two pairs of underwear now.

The right person won Project Runway Allstars. I feel like the allstars version has been so that they can right the wrongs of past seasons. Both winners were people that should have won their season.

I can't believe that Josie is still on Top Chef. If she doesn't get off fast, I'll be very disappointed in the show. I'm stilling voting to save Chef Kuniko but if Kirsten loses Last Chance Kitchen, I'll have to change my vote.

For those of you watching Revenge, I never said it, but I predicted that the new girl was going to be trouble. How can you sell out cute Nolan? That boy just has no luck in love.

Hope everyone enjoys a three day weekend (if you get one). I know I'm looking forward to mine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

I've been making this particular recipe for years (and I mean years). It came from an old church cookbook I got shortly after we got married. I no longer have the cookbook but I cut this recipe out and taped it to a recipe card so I could keep it.

Pumpkin Bread

2/3 cup oil
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 cup raisins
3 1/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Beat oil, sugar, eggs, water and pumpkin. Add spices, baking soda and baking powder; beat well. Add flour gradually, mixing well. Stir in raisins. Pour batter in 2 loaf pans that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-70 minutes.

The original recipe says you can add 1 cup of walnuts or pecans but we don't like nuts. It also says you can use 4 (1 pound) coffee cans half full. That tells you how old this recipe is. Do people even get coffee cans anymore?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hodgepodge - Over the Fiscal Cliff

I love how Joyce brings us these questions weekly even when she goes out of town. How thoughtful. Come play along.

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's's the list for 2013-

fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, yolo (an acronym for you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings, and guru

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen.

I've said it before but "fiscal cliff" has just got to go. Reinsert the image of the mountain climber from the Price is Right going over the cliff instead. Much more hilarity and also you get yodeling.

2. When was the last time you rode a train? Where did you go?

By train I'm not counting the ones in the airports taking you from one terminal to another nor am I counting the DC metro line. So the only time I can remember taking a train was last summer in Alaska. This affords me an opportunity to post yet another picture from that trip. :)

3. Bagels-yay or nay? Favorite 'flavor'? Favorite topping?

I like bagels but don't eat them very often because I don't find them as filling as a bowl of cereal and they have so many more calories. But Panera has a cinnamon crunch one that is to die for. And then when you put some whipped cream cheese on

4. 'Tis the season of awards shows...if you could star in a movie already made which one would you choose?

Gone With the Wind - I would be Scarlet O'Hara. Really the costumes make me want it more than anything. Men begging for your love and attention. Clark Gable. Need I say more.

5. The move towards single gender classrooms has been making the news in recent months....what say you? Do you think kids perform better if seperated by gender and are taught differently or is that discrimination? If you're a parent, is this something you'd support in regard to your own children?

I don't think this is a good start for children. If they learn early on that they should be learning separately, how will they learn to be nice to each other?

6. What's your favorite thing about staying in a hotel?

Most of the time I'm by myself in a hotel for work and that's what I like best. The solitude of having the whole room to myself.

7. Do you have a 'word' for 2013? What's the story behind your choice?

I have read a lot of blogs doing this but I have not participated in the one word thing.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I'm going to do my big push to get twitter followers (@TracyReinke) and Words With Friends players (treinke65) this week. Feel free to follow (I'll follow back) and play against me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Passed My Test!

I passed my test and am now a Certified Research Administrator!

I'm really excited to have passed. This will help me in my current job but also help me find a new job when I retire from here in a few years. Yippee!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Wrapup

This weekend was filled with cooking Whitney's last meal at home for awhile (Saturday's post on Pizza Dough) and we also make pumpkin bread (recipe coming later this week).

Whitney left yesterday to go back to college to start the spring semester of her sophomore year. Other than business law and accounting I think she will like her classes. She's already dreading those two.

I got all the Christmas decorations put away but the snowmen are still out. We also gave the house a good cleaning. I made a list of house projects that need to be done and it was three pages long. Some are easy (scheduling the carpet cleaner), some will be put off probably for a year (planting front shrubs...not a good idea in a drought with water rationing) and some will cost a bunch of money (kitchen counters). But some we will tackle right away (back door and bathroom sink).

If you aren't following me on twitter (@TracyReinke) you missed out on my witty commentary this weekend on both the Miss American pageant and the Golden Globes. Katie from So Funny Story and I were going back and forth and I must say we covered it all.

In case you wondered, I thought Jennifer Lawrence was trying to catch bread crumbs in her bust line with the extra fabric sticking out.

Another loser was Halley Berry. Weird print and weird placement of cutouts.

Winners were Zoeey Deschanel. I thought she went for color in a simple elegant way (usually she's a little kooky).

I also liked Tina Fey's outfit that she wore during the show. Talk about a knock out dress.

So there you have it. My weekend wrap.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pizza Dough Recipe

I love to make homemade pizza. We used to always make it for Friday dinners when Whitney was home. We always use the bread machine to make the dough. For a long time we made plain dough but then we searched the Internet and found this one. Yummy is the only word to describe it. It is very fluffy so don't use it if you want a thin crust pizza.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough
Recipe courtesy of

1 cup flat beer
2 T butter
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast

Put in bread machine in order and use dough setting. Let dough sit 10 minutes before rolling out.

We use a flavored beer, usually a berry type to add a little sweetness to the dough.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fragments - Overflowing with Information

I missed last week's fragments due to the fact that my mother was in town and I can't figure out how to cut and paste html code on my ipad. So this week is an overflowing amount. I can't contain them anymore.

Mommy's Idea

As I said my mother was visiting. We spent her visit looking at places for her to live here. She's thinking about moving to be closer to me since she is getting older. We visited a senior apartment complex and also the big furniture store in town so she could price furniture. She would need to decide if it was cost effective to move her furniture or just buy new stuff.

I'm so happy that the garbage disposal/kitchen plumbing is fixed. I realize that dirty dishes are the trigger for me to go over the edge. I had a meltdown because of all the clutter. Normal clutter doesn't bother me but piles of dirty dishes...yikes. I won't let that happen again.

It rained here. This is big news since we are in desperate need of water. Our water source is down the lowest it has ever been and they are talking about water rationing starting in a couple of months. Normally that doesn't happen except in July/August. This is pretty bad.
This is the lake. All that brown is supposed to be under water. The road is going into it because it is a man-made lake and the road was sacrificed to make it.

Whitney's first allergy shots were this week. They explained how they do them and still one of the vials was too strong. So they are going to have to dilute it even more which will add two more months to get her to maintenance level. She was very brave though during her shots. She'll be going on her own starting next week. Luckily the clinic is only about a ten minute drive from her school and she has no classes on Fridays.

My house still has every Christmas decoration up. Between going away for the holidays and then having company I haven't had time to do it. I'll try and get the Christmasy stuff put away this weekend but the snowmen stay out through February.

Anyone watching Top Chef? I sure wish they would get rid of Josie. Gosh she gets on my nerves. Please next week get rid of her.

Ever bend back a fingernail without breaking it? Know that pain? I did that Thursday morning and I must have ripped it enough from the nail bed for it to bleed. I got to work and had a bunch of blood under it. Let's just say that wasn't pleasant.

Oscar nominations came out. I've only seen one movie in 2012 so I'm a poor judge of if they did good or not. But I'll still watch the show to see the fashion disasters. Last year I actually went to bed before the end. A sure sign of getting old.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

This is one of those recipes that you go...hey, I could have come up with it myself. But it is a favorite in the house.

Cheesy Baked Tortellini
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese (we use ricotta)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (we skip this ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella (regular works too)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inchbaking dish.
Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy Hodgepodge

Joining in this week for hodgepodge mania. I needed something to kickstart blogging for the new year.

1. What is ONE thing or area in your home or life you hope to report is completely organized when 2013 draws to a close? Do you have a plan to make it happen?

Well every year I say I'm going to organize my utility room desk. And I did clean it off when I painted in November. But now it is back to being piled with stuff. I hope to rectify that situation soon.

2. What's the worst uniform you've ever had to wear for a job?
Only time I had to wear a uniform is when I worked for Builders Square while in college. A yucky apron (think Home Depot).

3. What was your last kitchen 'mishap'? This question comes to you courtesy of Betty who blogs over at A Glimpse Into Midlife...everyone go say hi to Betty!

Not sure what the last mishap would be but the most infamous one is when I tried to make a pecan pie and melted the spatula in the hot corn syrup. I did learn a lesson that plastic melts under high sugar heat.

4. How do you protect yourself from other people's negativity?

Try and avoid negative people.

5. Who in your family do you most resemble (physically)? If you have children, who do people say they favor? Do you agree?

Definitely my mother's side of the family as I get older. More and more like my grandmother. When Whitney was little she looked more like Dan but she is more like me now.

6. January 8th is National Bubble Bath Day...will you be celebrating?

I take a bath almost every night but not in the way most people do. For some reason (don't ask) I like to run a bath and just listen to the water slowly fill the tub. Then I empty it. I know wasting water but I've stopped using hot water so it is only cold water.

7. Some of the 'world's best winter festivals' are - Mardi Gras (New Orleans), Quebec Winter Festival (Canada), Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah), Rio Carnivale (Brazil), Sapporo Snow Festival (Japan), Venice Carnival (Italy) and the Harbin Ice Festival (Northern China). Of those listed (and if cost were not a factor) which would you most like to attend and why?

Of those listed, I would probably choose the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan. Just look at what they can do with snow.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My mother came for a visit. Everything went well except on Saturday when I noticed that our garbage disposal had a crack. It had been leaking and spewing stuff under the sink. So I was down to one sink while cooking a huge turkey dinner on Sunday. And then we tried to change it out last night and broke a pipe connection. Luckily the plumber is at the house right now fixing things. I was totally out of dishes and silverware with no sink at all and couldn't do any laundry.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Scalloped Potato Gratin

Our first Christmas dinner was frozen lasagna courtesy of limited cooking in a condo. Our second Christmas dinner was ham this past Tuesday. We normally have broccoli and scalloped corn but Dan wanted to have scalloped potatoes too. I hadn't made them in years and luckily I actually had a recipe in my box (which means we've tried and liked it). These were really easy to make.

Scalloped Potato Gratin
recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme (I used about 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Butter (I sprayed the pan with cooking spray)
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (I actually didn't even use this much)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.

While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

So I got busy and the cream sort of bubbled up much more than it was supposed to when heating. And I added an extra layer of potatoes because I think my dish was smaller than the one he used. And I didn't sprinkle extra cheese on top and broil because we were already pretty brown when I pulled them out after 40 minutes.

But it was super tasty. Nothing like a good warm heavy cream dish with nutmeg to make anything taste good.

This is what half of it looks like after we ate

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hodgepodge - Welcome 2013!

First post of 2013 and I choose to celebrate by doing a Hodgepodge. Hey, if I can so can you!

1. How did you ring in the new year?
We all watched the ball drop in NYC (11pm our time) and then two out of three people went to bed. I stayed up to watch the ball rise in OKC at midnight.

2. What is one thing you are looking forward to in 2013?
Going to China in June for a work conference. Yes I have to work some and the months leading up to it may be difficult, but hey, I'M GOING TO CHINA!

3. Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying, "All of us every single year, we're a different person. I don't think we're the same person all our lives." What say you?
We most definitely change over the years. Hopefully we mature too.

4. The Pantone color of the year for 2013 is emerald green. Like or dislike? Do you already own something this color? Will you add something in this shade to your home or wardrobe in 2013?
Love this color. Finally something that looks good on me. I'm not sure if I have anything quite that deep of green in clothes but I can certainly add it!

5. Speaking of emerald...what's your favorite gemstone?
I do love emeralds. Especially emerald cut emeralds.

6. Share a favorite book or movie from 2012.
James Bond movie - Skyfall. Think I've covered this a few times last year, lol.

7. What is something you want to tell yourself at the start of this brand new year?
I don't make resolutions. There is nothing magical about changing the calendar. You can decide to change anything you want at any point.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
My mother is coming for a visit tomorrow for a few days. She lives quite a bit away (ok halfway across the country) so she will be flying in tomorrow and escaping the Wisconsin snow. Looks like the weather here will be lovely...sunny and 50's.