Sunday, March 29, 2009

Really delicious smoky beef tacos

I'm back on the food blogging, people. Today I made a pretty involved meal, though tacos tend to be easy. Travis and I found a picture that looked really good in the Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine, and I decided to try to make it.

Enter smoky beef tacos with two special toppings - crema cilantro plus tomato and corn salsa. I also made cumin rice (eh) and a spicy pineapple salad (which was really good). I made the beef by taking a boneless beef chuck roast, and putting it in a Dutch oven with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, tomato sauce, vinegar, garlic and salt. The beef takes about two hours to cook, so while that was roasting away in the oven, I started working on the other pieces of the meal.

Rather than make our typical tacos with ground beef and the basic toppings, this version really kicks it up a notch.

The spicy pineapple salad is essentially lightly browned pineapples plus thinly sliced jalapenos and pepper. It was surprisingly tasty - it is served warm, and the heat from the jalapenos really tastes good with the sweet pineapple.

Crema cilantro sauce is just sour cream with lime juice and lots of cilantro. Travis liked it on the tacos, but said that it wouldn't be very good on its own. That makes sense. The tomato and corn salsa clearly includes both tomatoes and corn (I quartered grape tomatoes and rinsed canned corn), and also includes some sliced jalapenos and red wine vinegar. It tastes really good on the tacos.

I toasted the soft corn tortillas, and then our meal was set! From start to finish (including grocery shopping and cleanup), the meal took about 3 hours, so it's definitely a weekend thing. However, now I have some chipotle beef leftovers, so we will have enough to make fajitas later this week. Yum!

Sorry, no pictures :(


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I don't have anything against the South

But apparently, I really don't go there!

Samantha has visited 36 states (72%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Weird! Honestly, the only reason I have ever visited the southeastern portion of the US is because of work trips, and I was just able to add the Carolinas this year. Also, it is somewhat ironic that I haven't been to any of the states surrounding my current location. It's almost like Washington state is an island.

Kind of a funny little map.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Easter menu planning

Someone recently told me (OK, it was Beth) that she was sad that she didn't know what was going on for me food-wise lately. I went back and looked, and she's right. Apparently, I haven't talked enough about food in the past few weeks. Therefore, this post will be entirely devoted to one upcoming meal.


OK, well, folks, it is time to get serious about Easter menu planning. I think I have a pretty solid idea of what I am going to make for Easter Sunday.

-Deviled eggs - because it is Easter, we have to have some sort of egg thing, right?
-Cheese and crackers - Target has some delicious crackers that I will use for this one
-Veggie platter with ranch dip (or maybe I will make a homemade onion dip?)

-Spinach salad with almonds, cranberries, perhaps strawberries and grated parmesan cheese with raspberry viniagrette

Main course:
-Slow cooked smoked ham - now, most people would add a glaze like brown sugar, peach, pineapple or mustard, but that certainly is not happening at my house. I cannot stand "sweet on meat" flavor combinations, and I HATE mustard, so that is out. I've always enjoyed smoked ham as is - it is so delicious and salty without adding anything to it.
-Mashed potatoes - because creamy mashed potatoes are so wonderful
-Either scalloped or au gratin potatoes - even though I don't like them, I know a lot of people look forward to creamy/cheesy potatoes at Easter. They will be satisfied at my house!
-Buttered corn - a good, traditional vegetable dish
-Steamed broccoli - I just like broccoli
-Rolls - I am going to go with Pillsbury's Grands Biscuits - I could eat a million (or a "meeel-yun", as Charlie would say)

-Carrot cake - everyone loves when I make this, and Easter seems like the perfect time to have carrot cake - I've got some plans on how to make it look more fancy than usual for the special occasion
-Berry cookie cobbler - I found the cutest little Easter ramekins at Target, and they will be perfect to make personal desserts for my guests. A few years ago, I made something called berry cookie cobbler out of Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking cookbook, and it was ridiculously easy and really tasty. I'll serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. It will be a great addition to the overall meal.

I think the menu is pretty close to set. Any suggestions for substitutes or additions? Let me know. :)


Sunday, March 15, 2009

We got a new GMC Sierra Denali!

Goodbye, Dodge Durango! This is the last picture we have of the Dodge (taken yesterday evening at 6pm):
Hello, new GMC Sierra Denali!! The lease was nearly up on our Durango, and so Travis and I have been test driving and researching trucks for the past few weeks. (Well, Travis has been doing more of that than me.) Yesterday, on a rainy (shocking) Saturday, we decided to pull the trigger and get a new truck. We spent the whole day on this quest, and even I test drove the truck finalist...just to make sure I was at least semi-comfortable with the truck we were going to buy.

The winning truck is the GMC Sierra Denali and we went with the sleek looking black one. It is tricked out, with pretty much every upgrade imaginable, including heating and COOLING seats, heated steering wheel, integrated navigation system in dash, back up camera, all sorts of stuff! Below are some pictures I took of the truck today when the rain broke for a little while. Travis and I took several drives thus far in the new's pretty sweet. We headed down to the State Capitol in Olympia today, and spent a little time down there. We checked out a little restaurant on the water called Tugboat Annie's. We also went to Tacoma and found some really great waterfront restaurant options that we are going to keep on deck for us, including Katie Downs. That's for another day, maybe when Mom/Dad/Mary/Jessie are here. (That's less than a month from now, by the way, I am SO Easter planning is going to go into overdrive soon!!!)

Yay for us! Travis is pretty excited about his new truck - he loves it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A general update - pictures of the house and other miscellaneous stuff

Folks, I have been remiss in sharing recent pictures. I've been keeping busy, and haven't been too up on the blogging. (Sorry!) I am going to remedy this now, so take a look at some of the things I've been up to lately.

I made a homemade German chocolate cake with fresh cocoa frosting for the choir before we performed in the Saturday showing of Great Music. Apparently, people liked guy had three pieces! :) (Note the ultra fancy cake plate...aka the lid of a large Tupperware container that I used as my cake transporter. Hehe.)
Yes, friends, I got a Kindle 2. I know, I know, I already had a Kindle 1 (actually, that's Amanda's that is pictured below, but you get the point), but I needed the newest one! I must say, I love it. Even more than the original one. I've read a bunch of books on it already...I've really gotten into the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. They are hilarious.
The kitty I found in my garage spent a little bit of time in our house before making the journey to Minnesota. The now-named Lady June (fka Pirate, Outdoor Kitty and Junebug) explored a bit...the Ninja (aka Indoor Kitty) did NOT appreciate it. Doesn't Ninja look mad in this pic?
Outdoor kitty slept on me while I took a nap before the red eye flight back to Minnesota. What a little cutie. (I, on the other hand, look sleeeeeepy.)
This is what our dining room looks like. I really like the furniture, it looks very nice.
I bought a new rug for the living room, which was pretty brave considering the furniture for the room didn't come until today, and I bought red furniture. The paintings you see laid out on the floor actually tie the rug and the furniture together really well. We are hanging most of our art this weekend, so maybe I will have more pictures to share at the end of the weekend.
Ta da! The red furniture! I got it from LaZBoy, and I can't stress how bad their customer service has been over the past 8 weeks. I couldn't believe how bad the process was with them - if I had known how they worked in advance, I definitely wouldn't have bought from them.
This is the arrangement of family photos I have in the niche above the TV in the family room. I have a bunch more pictures that I am planning on hanging in the hallway, and am working on getting coordinating frames for that project.
Here is a view of most of the family room wall. And as an added bonus, you get a screen shot of Becoming Jane.
And there you have a run down of some of the things that I have been up to lately!

Monday, March 9, 2009

MS Walk 2009

That's right, folks, it's time for the annual MS Walk! This year, because I have moved to Washington, it was up in the air as to which walk I should lend my walking shoes to. And the answer is...Fargo, ND and Minneapolis, MN! (Both?! Whoa!)

I will be physically walking in Fargo, ND (and making a visit out to Fargo!), but collecting donations for the team I am captaining (AmandaJCR) in the Twin Cities. The rest of the team is doing two walks - the one in Fargo and the one in Minneapolis - but I can only make one trip out to Minnesota in such a short time frame.

There are several ways you can make a difference! You have several places you can sponsor me in the walks this year - the my personal page for the MN walk, the team page for AmandaJCR, or my sister Amanda's team up in Fargo, the Wildcat Walkers! Please consider making a donation this year - I know times are hard this year, and I definitely understand that. However, any size donation helps us get closer to finding a cure for MS.

For anyone who missed it last year, I did an interview with Amanda and her experience with MS. Please take a minute to (re-)read this post, because I think it is important that you understand why I walk - it's for Amanda!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pirate has a new home and a new name

Pirate has made it safely to Minnesota, and is starting to settle into life at its new home. The other cats are not enthusiastic about this new addition...lots of hissing right now. The kitty has been renamed - this afternoon, the kitty was dubbed Junebug. Cute! Sadly, that's not related to swashbuckling or thievery, but that's okay I suppose. Junebug is a cute name.

Now I am hanging out at Lisa's STP place for a couple of minutes (hello, Guitar Hero!) before I hop on a plane back to Seattle. The time at home was great - all the Schmid kids were in the same spot at the same time for several hours yesterday, which was fun. It was awesome to spend time with my parents...definitely miss the family a lot.

By the way, I saw the movie Taking Chance last night. See it, it's INCREDIBLE. It was so amazing.

Anyways, good weekend. Too short. Very whirlwind. But glad I made it home :) Lisa told me that Minneapolis wasn't the same without me, and I told her that I wasn't the same without Minneapolis!