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Monday, February 28, 2011

Schezuan Salmon

I realized I liked Salmon a few years ago. We had this AMAZING Schezuan Salmon at this local restaurant and I was hooked. I wasn't completely successful recreating it but it's still a yummy and healthy dinner.

What you'll need:

Chunk of Salmon ~ I think this was almost 2 lbs
Season Salt and Pepper
about 1/3 bottle Schezuan Sauce~I don't have a favorite brand
Zucchini and Banana Squash
Handful of Spinach
Wheat Spaghetti Noodles~or regular ones work fine.
Soy Sauce

Season your salmon with season salt and pepper. Chop your squash and onions. Prepare your noodles.

Taste your Schezuan sauce, if you think it's too spicy you can "lighten" the spice by adding some soy sauce and a bit of honey. 2 parts schezuan, 1 part soy and about a tablespoon of honey.

I did this salmon on my grill pan and although it was successful, it made my house pretty smoky. If you want to do it this way, put fish skin side down, tent with foil and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. What I would recommend is heating your oven to 400 degrees, spraying a piece of foil and wrapping/tenting the salmon (kind of making a packet) and baking for about 12 minutes. Either way, check you Salmon with a fork and it should easily flake away, you know it's done if it flakes. Brush with schezuan sauce and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.

While your fish is cooking. Saute your zucchini and onions. You can put a tiny bit of olive oil to help the party get started if you want, but it's really not necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in your spinach and noodles, few shakes of soy sauce and couple tablespoons of schezuan sauce. Toss around to heat through and serve.

Season your salmon
Slice your zucchini
Saute your onions and zucchini
Add your spinach
Put your salmon, skin side down on a hot grill pan and tent with some foil to speed the cooking process
Toss your noodles, soy sauce and sauce in
if you aren't sure it's done. Stab it with a fork, it should pull apart really easy.
Top with sauce
Put it all together and serve...YUM

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another hockey season...

is done. We didn't make it the state play offs this year, but we gave it a good run for the money. Max has finished his career as a Pee Wee. Which means he'll be a Bantam next year. Faster game, more checking, last 2 years of youth hockey..that's what Bantams are all about.

It seems strange to me that I have started book marking my children's life by what level they are in sports. "Oh, that was when he was a Squirt", like that should mean anything to the majority of the population. But, say that to a hockey parent and they say, "first or second year"?

Wasn't it only yesterday that Max hit the ice as a mini mite and he was 4 years old? SO excited that he was finally old enough to follow into a game that Dylan played. His favorite thing was doing Supermans...they would skate hard and when they got to the blue line, they would fling themselves forward Superman style onto their stomachs and see how far they could get.

I don't know that he has a favorite thing anymore, he loves most of it. We had a coach his final year of Squirts that shaped him into the player he is today. Max had made the A team and everyone knew this coach. He played in the Olympics, he had coached youth hockey for the past 40 years. He was old school, he was tough, he made the kids accountable on and off the ice, he accepted no excuses and he had them at the rink 6 days a week. Max loved his line, "I can do anything you can do except take a knee because I'm old".

And, I will never forget what he said at our first parent meeting. "This is the year that your boys will figure out if hockey is for them. I will work them to the point of exhaustion but yet they'll be excited to get back to the rink the next day. If your child doesn't feel that way, maybe you should find a new sport". It was that year that I decided, Hockey is more than a sport, it's a lifestyle.

This year I:
Put approximately 1800 miles on my car driving to and from games and practices
Spent approximately $3000 on everything from gear to hotel rooms to fees to skate sharpening
Max consumed approximately 108 bottles of Gatorade, not counting the G1s he had before games
AND, I made over 60 dozen cookies for our celebrations!

Highlights of the year:

Being named one of the captains.

The Outdoor Classic and beating the rival Highland!
Beating the number 1 ranked team in the state.

No injuries!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Driver

Yesterday was one of those days that made me feel older. The kind of day that made my stomach drop a bit and my heart hurt just a little. It wasn't anything "bad", it was a sign of growing up. Dylan passed his drivers test.

I knew it was coming, he turned 16 in July. I've let him drive me around on the roads and highways. He's reminded me several times of the big test day. I knew it was coming. And, yet that lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes came anyway when he called to tell me that he passed.

For those of you that don't know, Dylan is my nephew and practice son. He has my heart as if he were my own because his Mom has been gracious enough to share him with me from the time he was born. Every year on his birthday, I get misty. Every big moment, I get misty. And, lately, every time I look at him I swallow hard because he has grown up and there is no more denying that he is a young man. A young man who just got his license.

Congratulations D!! Be safe, no texting and always wear your seat belt!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

My favorite pie is Lemon Meringue. When I was pregnant with Max I wanted to eat Lemon Meringue pie every day. The local Baker's Square was out for some bizarre reason, so I would call every morning to see if they had any. This one particular day they said they had the pie. I told them to save a piece, I was on my way. Ten minutes later when I walked in the door, this waitress admitted to selling my piece. I was NOT a happy pregnant chick.

So, I had to make my own. It's nothing fancy but it is tasty. I still haven't complete perfected my meringue, but again it works and I'm sharing the tips I've found to be helpful over the years.

What you'll need:
Prepared pie crust~I use frozen and follow the directions on the back
1 Large box of Lemon Pudding prepared~I use the kind you have to cook

3 Egg Whites
1/4 t Cream of Tarter
2/3 C Sugar

Start whipping your room temperature eggs whites in a glass or metal bowl. Add cream of tartar. Whip until foamy and starting to get stiff. Add sugar a little at a time and keep whipping. I whip mine for about 5-7 minutes. They are so stiff, they stick to the beaters. You can just leave it now until you get your pudding prepared.

Prepare your pudding, pour your hot pudding into the cooked crust. Immediately put your meringue on top. You want the hot pudding to kind of cook the bottom. Swirl with a spoon or fork and give a few peaks. Make sure all the pudding is covered or your pie will seep. Bake at 325 for about 15 minutes until meringue is golden.

Pour lemon pudding into crust
Whip, whip, whip
Nice and stiff
Put meringue on top
Swirl around
Use a fork and make peeks
Out of the oven and ready to chill

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken Curry

I made my quick chicken curry a few months back but after eating at an Indian restaurant, I wanted something that tasted slow cooked with ALL the true flavors a good curry has.

I found the recipe here and had to change it up a little bit because I couldn't find one of the things and couple others..well I wasn't spending $10 per spice when I thought the improvising would work. I shopped at Cub and everything I used could be found there.

This is not for the weak of taste buds. It's a slow heat that rises as you eat. I love spicy dishes so this was two thumbs up from me. It will feed a crowd and I have no doubt should freeze well~I didn't have any leftovers to freeze because I shared with friends.

3 lbs boneless, skinless Chicken breast cut into half or thirds
1 large Yellow Onion cut into chunks
2 Tomatoes, cut into 4 pieces each
10 cloves Garlic
3 inches of fresh Ginger, peeled
1/2 T Salt
1 T Turmeric
1 1/2 T Garam Masala
1/4 C Vegetable Oil
1 C plain Yogurt ~ I used low fat
1 T Chili Powder
1 t Cinnamon
4 Cloves
4 Serrano chilies, cut lengthwise
1/2 C fresh Cilantro

Put Chicken into crockpot.

In food processor put Onion, Tomatoes, Garlic, Salt and Turmeric. Blend for a minute or two. Pour into a bowl and add, Garam Masala, Oil, Yogurt, Chili Powder and cinnamon. Mix together and pour over chicken. Throw chilis and cloves on top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove chilis and cloves if you can find them. I took the chicken out with a slotted spoon and chopped into bite size pieces and put back into the crockpot but that was just a personal preference because I like my chicken saturated with sauce. The chicken was fall apart tender so you could skip that step if you wish. I served with Basmati rice and the left overs were served with brown rice...both were tasty.

Serve over Basamati or Brown Rice and top with cilantro. YUMMY!!

I cut the chicken in thirds
Chop the onion and throw in food processor
How to break the garlic free...use your large chef knife (that's your biggest knife), press down on the garlic, the shell of the garlic pops off
This is how much ginger I used, make sure you peel and chop
Everything ready in the food processor. Give it a whirl for a couple minutes
Out of the food processor
Mix the Garam Masala, Oil, Yogurt, Chili Powder and cinnamon in with a whisk
I split the peppers but left the seeds for the heat
Throw the peppers and cloves on top, cover and crock
Dinner is served

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Driving Skills

Photo from Fox 9

This has been a snowy winter. We got about 21" over the weekend and to say I'm sick of it would be a HUGE understatement. But because of the snow, we also had a milestone moment.

Sunday night we were coming home from a hockey game, the roads were deserted because every sane person was snuggled up in their home and we got stuck. Max tried to push us out but he needed some help. Help would have to be me but who would steer the car and hit the gas??

I looked into the back seat and said, "Claire you're going to have to drive".

She giggled and climbed over the seat.

I showed her the brake, the gas and how to shift into REVERSE only. Told her how to turn the wheel and walked around to the front of the car. Max and I got into position and Max asked, "are you sure she knows what she's doing"?

"Guess we'll find out". I said a little prayer and looked into her excited eyes between the steering wheel and gave her the thumbs up to give it gas.

SUCCESS!! I jumped into the drivers seat to drive us home. Not success, we were stuck in another spot.

Out we went again. Claire got back into position. A guy came from somewhere and offered to help. I said, "my 10 year old is driving so you've been warned".

He asked, "does she know how to brake"?

"Far as I know".

He shrugged and helped push us out.

So, not only a milestone but a life lesson as to how to steer out of being stuck. She was pretty proud of herself and Max and I were very grateful that we didn't have to walk home in the knee deep snow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Date Cookies

When I was growing up, my Mom would take me to the local bakery and we'd get Date Cookies. They were her favorite and became one of mine. The bakery closed and the ones my Grandma used to make for her when she was little, well Grandma couldn't remember the recipe. I searched and searched for a recipe that she thought was similar and she said this one works. I hope you enjoy them.

1/2 C Butter
2 Eggs
1 C Sugar
2 T Milk
1 t Vanilla
2 1/2 C Flour
1/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

Mix the wet, add the dry until combined. Put some flour on your counter and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. I use a circle cutter because I like to fold them over and make little pockets like the ones from the bakery but I've made them without folding and they were just as good so it's your choice.

3/4 C Dates chopped
3/4 C Raisins chopped
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Water
2 T Lemon Juice

Heat all together over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. The smaller you chop the dates and raisins the quicker it will thicken but I've gotten lazy over the years and barely chop and it's all good.

Put a dollop of dates in the middle of the dough and fold over. Press the edges together so the dates don't seep out. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Bottom should be light brown. Makes about 3 dozen.
Dates in the pot
Cut out circles
Fill and fold over

Friday, February 18, 2011


My sister gave this to me a few years ago. Since that time, I have purchased MANY tubes of it because if you live in Minnesota, you need to find a lip product that works for you. Your lips are exposed to cold, wind, sun and there are days when your lips STING. This products is almost perfect.

I say, almost because it doesn't have an SPF and it's not cheap. But if your lips are stinging, you put this on and ahhhhh, life is so much better. I've tried the generic versions of this and they are not the same. MAC also offers an incentive...if you bring back 6 empty tubes, you get a free lipstick.

I use it everyday, a few times a day and have given it as gifts and they are now addicted as well. Both of my kids look for this when their lips hurt too. So if your lips are stinging, give this a try...I promise you'll love the way your lips feel.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best Frosting EVER

I found this on Pioneer Woman and LOVE it. It's not great for a piped/decorated cake but it's great for just a simple frosted cake.

Cooked frosting
5 T Flour
1 C Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 C Butter
1 C Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, looks like pudding when it thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together with your mixer until light and fluffy~you can't cream too much, you want the sugar to basically dissolve into the butter. The longer you beat it, the better they mix. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Do you want an easy appetizer that is always a crowd pleaser?? Look no further, Buffalo Chicken Dip is the answer.

I received this recipe a few years back from my friend Karol and changed it just a bit so that I could serve it in a crock pot.

What you'll need:

2 bricks Cream Cheese softened ~ I use low fat
1/2 C Ranch Dressing
1/2 C plus 2 T Hot Sauce ~ I use Frank's
1 C Shredded Cheddar Cheese
2-3 C Chopped cooked Chicken ~ I boiled mine in chicken broth with salt, pepper and garlic but you could also used canned, just be sure to drain it well

Melt cream cheese, dressing and hot sauce until smooth and blended. Add cheese and chicken and heat through. Pour into your crock pot and serve with French Bread rounds and celery sticks.

Cream cheese, dressing and hot sauce melted and ready for cheese and chicken to be added
Chopped chicken ready to go in

Monday, February 14, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cake

Big day today...Valentine's Day. I was trying to think of a fun thing to post but then I thought, what would I want today and the answer is Molten Chocolate Cake. Truthfully, I could eat this cake EVERY day.

I have posted this recipe before but it is worth repeating because it is SO yummy! It is an awesome and easy way to let someone know you love them or it makes a crappy day better. I orginally found the recipe here.

Here's what you'll need.
4 squares of Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Stick of butter
1 C Powdered Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
6 T Flour

Put the butter and chocolate in a bowl. I actually use a Large Mixing bowl so I can pour the batter. It's not necessary, just makes it a bit easier. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave. I only needed a minute to melt the butter and make the chocolate soft.

The chocolate will not be completely melted so you need to stir it around in the butter until it's completely melted and incorporated. See how shiny it is.

My trusty assistant and daughter Claire thought that I should show all of you how to separate an egg. Crack the egg over a cup or bowl. Tilt one side so the yolk goes into half of the shell and the white slides into the bowl.

Flip the egg into the other half of the shell, getting rid of all the white. Hope that makes sense?? Claire thought it did, lol;) Add the rest of the ingredients and make sure it's mixed well.

Here are the custard cups. This recipe only makes enough for 4 of this size. Spray well with cooking spray, you don't want them to stick. Place the cups on a cookie sheet.

Equally fill the custard cups. These are ready for the oven, are you getting excited?? Did you taste the batter?? YUM.

They take 14 minutes at 425 in my oven, should be obviously set around the edges, lightly browned. Let stand one minute and then invert on a plate.

Claire thought you needed to see what happens when you cut into the cake, yep, that's hot fudge that comes out of the middle. Can you hear the angels singing??!

We have either ice cream or whipped cream on the side. Unfortunately, neither photograph well. Trust me, the cream is worth it!! This cake will SO make your bad day better. And, if you're having a good day...BONUS!

To make the whipped cream

Small container of Whipped Cream
1 t Vanilla extract

Whip it until it's firming up. Add 3/4 Powdered Sugar and whip until stiff. It's PURE heaven.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Eve

I just finished up the sugar cookies and cake balls for all our family and friends and as I sit here in a quiet house, I got to thinking about my favorite Valentine's day celebrations.

You would think that at my age, one of the memories would include a romantic evening with someone special because I'm pretty sure I've had them;) But, my three favorite memories are:

3. When Cody and Dylan were 2 years old, Craig and I gave their parents a night off and took them to Camp Snoopy at Mall of America. We rode rides, we ate cotton candy, we watched them run around giggling.

2. Three girlfriends and myself found ourselves single on the big night. We decided to make dinner reservations at a nice restaurant. We got dressed up and were each others dates. We had a few bottles of wine and then went dancing. I have a photo of Kristen and I from the end of the night and every time I see it I smile.

1. When I got divorced, I made a new Valentine's tradition with my kids. I let them pick where we went for dinner. I've been to Chuck E Cheese and other random restaurants but my favorite year, Max picked Hooters. Yes, Hooters. He was 8 years old I think and he thought the waitresses were pretty:) So, Alanna (her husband was out of town) and I took our kids, headed down early to have dinner, take photos with the waitresses and then went on rides at Camp Snoopy. Max still talks about it.

So if you find yourself without a plan, remember the best memories are the random ones when you have no expectations and you just let yourself be.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Caramel Crispix

My friend Shannon brings this to every girls weekend and it's safe to say I eat about half the bowl. It's completely addicting and that's why I haven't made it myself until now. Her recipe is a bit different but this worked for me.

My "plan" was to bring it to the hockey tournament we were going to but when it cooled and my kids tasted it...well, let's just say they share their Mom's addiction and the rest was bagged up in snack size bags for school lunches and a special treat for the teacher.

What you'll need:

14 oz box of Crispix cereal ~ I used store brand
12 oz peanuts ~ I used honey roasted
2 sticks Butter
2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Corn Syrup

Put your brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a roaster. I used both burners to help the process along.
Simmer for about a minute and add cereal and peanuts. Put in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes
Take it out and give it a stir and back in the oven for another 8 minutes
Put some wax paper on your counter, give it a light spray of cooking spray so nothing sticks. Pour mixture out onto wax paper, making a single layer so it dries without sticking in a big clump. Let it cool for about 1/2 hour and put in sealed bowl to keep fresh.