Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

I went to my first Homeowners Association meeting last night. It was the biggest turnout they've had and there were 10 people there.

Our neighborhood is old. I was 5 years old when it was built, so when I say "old", obviously that is relative. 1986 might be the year you had your first child or your tenth grandchild, but for me it was two years before I turned 7, and everything I remember about my childhood didn't happen until I turned 7.

For the most part, people in our neighborhood keep up with their yards. Sure, you get the occasional person who hasn't painted their house since it was built or the renters who never mow their lawn or trim their trees, but we actually live in a very nice, homey community. The HOA is very hands-off in our neighborhood which is not what my husband is used to. He came from a condo complex where the board consisted of crotchety old women who wanted to write letters and bang on peoples' doors if someone left their Christmas lights up past January 1. Yes, sometimes it got political and people got their undies bunched, but for the most part things got done. The condo community looked very nice and, since dues were over $220/mo, they had a nice reserve fund and took care of things right away that fell into disrepair.

Every house in the HOA (and there are blocks of them) pays $90 per year for HOA dues. Basically, our HOA doesn't have money to plant a flower bed, much less rent a room at a library at which to hold our meetings. Hence, the reason we stand in what is known as "the common area". It's literally a patch of grass that maybe one home could fit on at the T in the road. Renton hasn't seen rain on July 29th in years and last night it decided to rain. So, there we stood, all 10 of us, umbrellas in hand, talking over the sound of rain and the occasional car passing by.

I'm boring you. I'm sorry. There's just too much backstory.

Anyway, I went there with a little tiny bit of an axe to grind because we have 2 of the very few renters in the HOA living in our cul de sac and they are "typical" renters. I hate to use a generalization like that but let me explain. They don't maintain their yards very well. Dandelions reign supreme. Their trees virtually touch the sidewalk for lack of trimming and weeds sprout up in what could be considered a flower bed in high desert. I'm not a fan of this, especially considering the amount of work my husband puts into making our yard look nice. However, what bothers me the most (call me petty, I don't care) is that they use the front of our home as their personal parking lot. There are at least 2 cars parked in the front of our home at all times. It bothers me. A lot. Especially since their driveway is never full and they could park there if they were being thoughtful about the situation. Their house is even located on the opposite side of the cul de sac.


You're going to park in front of my house and then walk clear across the cul de sac to your home?

I put a picture of our house to the upper right. You can't really tell from this picture, but if you look closely you can see the sidewalk that curves around the front of our house. That is the curb on which they choose to park (notice the car parked there now). Please don't judge us based on the dead grass of our neighbor. That strip is not ours and the neighbors virtually refuse to maintain it. My husband is this (--) close to ripping up the grass and laying in mulch or gravel. Anyway, back to my boring point. The renters park directly in front of our home constantly - and they park at least a foot off the curb. I've seen them and I know they're just a bunch of young guys who probably were never taught any better, but I think about what I would do if I were them and I wouldn't park in front of someone's house every single day.

The HOA can't/won't do anything about the parking issue and I can't say that I blame them. It's public property. I don't, however, see an issue with them sending the renters a nice letter asking them to stop making our cul de sac their personal parking lot (a couple of other HOA members agreed with me). If you have more than 4 cars to park, clean out your garage. If you have more than 6 cars to park, move to the back 40 and park them in the grass. It just makes a neighborhood look trashy to be littered with so many cars.

:::back from lunch, 2 hours after starting this blog. boy, do I sound lame with all my complaining:::

Enough of that. I have some positive news. I finally met the girl who lives in the house around the corner from us. I knew that around the time we moved into our house a young couple moved in to that house but I never got the guts to walk over there and introduce myself. She became a Member-At-Large on the HOA board as did my husband so he's been going to the meetings where she has been going with her husband for a while. I usually have better things to do than go to some HOA meeting. BOH-RING. Ok, not really but I'm usually cleaning the kitchen after dinner (the meetings are at 6pm, for crying out loud) or sitting on my bum eating ice cream. Anyway, she is very sweet and they have a really adorable little 18-month-old boy who was so patient while his mom and I chatted away. I'm always excited to meet new people since I still don't know too many after relocating to Washington 4 years ago. I know, I'm lame.

In other news, last night when my husband let the dog out he saw this little guy hanging out on our front door. Meet Kermit.
Since these shots were taken through glass and I don't have the steadiest hand in the world, they're not the best quality. But he sure was cute. Very, very small. Maybe the size of a couple of grapes. I wonder if he'll come back. I don't know what was going on with the fuzzies hanging off of his sticky self. Anyway, he made me happy when I saw him last night and hopefully he isn't scared to come back.

I'm going to try to get outside tonight and take some pictures of the beautiful blooms in our backyard. I also have to work on designing business cards for the Kent coC.

I Grocery Game'd last night. Only saved 43%. Oh well. I'm trying a new drink. They were 10/$10 at Safeway last night so I picked up a few. This one happens to be a Snapple Noni Berry metabolism juice drink. Ok, whatever. It tastes good - real good.

Let's see - 20 Calories, 0 Fat, 2 Carb, 2 Sugars for a 17.5oz drink. Not bad!

I'm starting an exercise routine on Friday. $2.40 of my hard-earned money depends on me working out at least 20 minutes every day. It was a friend of mine's brilliant idea to take $2.40 of all of her friends money and pool it together. Whoever is the last exercist (ha!) standing wins the pot! I can only miss one day - never 2 in a row. Oh boy, what did I get myself in to?

I got the nerve to walk over to the guy who hacks loogies all day in the cube behind me but I didn't say anything. I'm such a weenie.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Coast

Monday. Back to work.

Last Wednesday, David and I drove the 5+ hours to Lincoln City, Oregon to spend some time with my family. Every year for the past few years my family has rented a house on the Oregon coast and we all escape there for a few days of R&R and family time. My grandparents came from Colorado, my aunt and her 2 kids came from Oklahoma (her husband is in the Navy so he's in Kuwait right now).

I made blueberry muffins with a streusel topping and banana chocolate chip muffins. I had spent the entire evening before we left in a baking frenzy. I think I made 500 muffins. No, not really. More like 40.

My family overdoes it a little on food. Meaning, we had made a list of things we would need to make meals and have snacks at the beach house then ended up having WAY too much. I'm not sure if it was assumed that all we'd do is sit and eat all weekend or what, but my muffins didn't really get eaten. Why eat a muffin when you can have a chocolate donut or biscuits and gravy for breakfast? Hm? Anyway, bless my twin sister's heart for breaking out the muffins on Saturday night when we were at her house playing "Ticket to Ride" (known as "The Train Game" in our family).
One of the things I love most about Lincoln City is the outlets (please don't throw things at me). I found some GREAT deals there this weekend. Let me share some with you. $10 Eddie Bauer jeans (low rise, boot cut!). $5 button up short sleeved shirt for David at Gap. $10 white, CUTE (you'll just have to trust me on this one) sandals at Coldwater Creek. $6 sweater at Coldwater Creek (I know that CC is typically a more "mature woman's" store, but this sweater is super cute and comfy). The shirt and headband in the picture to the left each cost me $5.

David gets very bored shopping at the outlets as do most of the other guys. So, they went home after an hour of outlet shopping and the girls stayed. After the outlets we hit the Shops at Salishan which is a really cute little outdoor shopping area on the Salishan resort property. We usually don't hit the jackpot there, but there are some really neat shops that we enjoy browsing. One shop in particular had Vera Bradley handbags on sale for 50% off! My sweet mom insisted that she buy each of us girls a Vera Bradley handbag. You can see mine in the picture to the left of me, Mom, and Lindsay. Isn't it cute?

Let me show you some pictures of where we stayed. I liked that it was brand new and spacious but I was not a fan of the neighborhood (a lot of older, not-so-nice homes).

This is David's and my room (to the right). Unfortunately the only pictures I got were of our room, the bathroom, and Lindsay and Craig's room. I think other people got pictures of the upstairs part. I'm so self-absorbed, I know. Anyway, this was our room downstairs and it connected to the main bathroom downstairs.

Lindsay and Craig were in the other room down there, so below is a picture of the bathroom and of Lindsay in the bedroom she and Craig shared. I love my twin for giving David and me the better room. She and Chris slept in the very upstairs on a fold-out couch where, in the next room, she suffered little sleep due to my dad's thunderous snoring. Last summer when my family rented a beach house, David and I got the room that had a twin bed with a trundle that pulled out from beneath it so he slept in the bed and I slept on the trundle. We held hands until we fell asleep and that was the extent of our cuddling during vacation. The winter before that, my parents rented a cabin on Mt. Hood where David and I got a bed that was in a cubby hole with a door on it...he couldn't stand up fully in that room. So, on this trip my sweet sister volunteered to take the sleeper sofa. Thank you, Carrie!

At some point on Thursday, my sisters, their husbands, and David and I took the little kids to the beach access to fly their kites. It was WINDY. Lots of wind. The kind that turns kite string into a butcher knife that cuts your skin when you try to wind up a kite. Max, my 11-year-old cousin, has a milder form of cerebral palsy because he was born really, really early. Sometimes he's not very coordinated but I actually think he manages very well for his condition. He enjoyed the kites as did his sister, Emma, who is 8. The wind was too strong for Caleb and he got tired of holding his kite after about 3 minutes. All in all, it was fun for the 10 minutes we were down there.

Let's take a minute to enjoy the scenery, shall we?

Okay, that was nice. I think my Monday will get better from here on out.

While we were at the coast, a family friend, Ashley took photos of our family. Unfortunately the skies were cloudy so the lighting wasn't all we expected. However, here are just a few of the photos she took. I had to lighten them a bit.

I do have some photos of when us girls went shopping. I'll post a few but the one of my granny sitting on a statue of a deer will have to remain sealed out of respect for the elderly! On second thought, I'll surprise you with the photos of us girls another time. This blog is getting pretty lengthy.
On the way to Beaverton from Lincoln City, we stopped in at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. If you have never had Tillamook cheese, you are missing out. It's all we eat in our house. I've been to the factory several times but David had never been and neither had Craig (Lindsay's husband). Caleb wanted to ride in our car so we strapped him in and boy, was he happy to be there with his uncle David. That kid is stuck to David like white on rice. They even took a tour of the factory together (ahem - that is David's $5 Gap shirt in the pictures).

All in all, it was a great trip. I'm tired. I was supposed to take the bus in to work this morning but I wimped out. I got an extra 45 minutes of sleep by driving in so I took it. Things would be so much easier if I had a normal carpool partner.

Skies are clearing up - should be in the mid-70s today.

I hope you have a great Monday! I'm not sure when I'll make any new recipes. I didn't take pictures of the muffins but I'll try to post the recipes anyway - they were decent.

Friday, July 18, 2008

We're all friends here.

I need your opinion. Your honest opinion. Insult me if you have to. I first presented this painting to my friends on Pleonast and it looked a little something like this:

I asked for suggestions on where to go from there and got a lot of "paint an ocean" suggestions. So, that's what I did even though I am not a fan of painting oceans - mine always look fake. But, I did it anyway.

Now I need your opinion again.

Here is the painting in its current state. I made it a little bigger so you could see more detail...

See the grass over on the right side? I feel like something needs to go there but I'm not sure what. I thought about a little girl with a windblown dress and a floppy hat but this painting looked more - grown-up - than that, if you know what I mean. Also, sun or no sun? And where to put it?

So, I need opinions. Come on, I know you have them. Any other suggestions are welcome, too.

Wanna-Be Gardener

I don't know how and I don't know if it's too late weather-wise, and I don't know if these things will even grow in Washington state, but nevertheless...

Things I want to grow

Napa cabbage
Purple cabbage
Red & yellow bell peppers

Things already in our backyard

Japanese Pears

No, I did not plant the things already growing in our backyard. But I love them.

If you have any tips on anything I'd like to grow then please share. If you have any tips on drying herbs, please help. I have harvested several but need to dry them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Adventures in Carrot Cake

I've never made a carrot cake. Usually when I make a dessert there is chocolate incorporated in some way. But, I had a bag of carrots that I needed to do something with and since I was having company this week I decided to make a carrot cake for after dinner on Tuesday.

It turned out well. Really well. I adapted this from a recipe on so I'm calling it my own. So there.

The frosting was delightful but it was too soft which is the reason you see it making its great escape off the side of the cake and out of the middle. If I would have had more time, I would have let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to get a little more solidified.

The cake. Oh, the cake. It was moist and delicious and wonderful which is why I had to get rid of it. Anything that good in my house would be eaten. By me. Only by me (remember, David isn't a "sweets" kinda guy). My guests loved it, my husband loved it, and the next day my husband's coworkers loved it. This will go in my "favorites" recipes. Although, as I said, a more creamy, non-liquid form of the icing will be better next time. I think I overmixed the butter and cream cheese. But who wants cream cheese or butter chunks in their frosting?? Not me!

So, here is the recipe. My recipe! I will perfect this as time goes on.

Carrot Cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg

Dash salt
2 cup flour (all-purpose)
2 t baking soda
2 1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut (optional - I didn't use b/c David is not a fan)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional - oh walnuts, how I love thee. If only David liked these I would have used them.)
1/4 cup pineapple juice (you're welcome to use crushed pineapple. I said "no thanks" to that idea)

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Grease & flour two 9" round pans**

3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt

4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well.

5. Add flour mixture and mix well.

6. In a medium bowl, combine carrots, coconut, walnuts, and pineapple juice.

7. Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

8. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350° for 8-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

9. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before frosting.

** To use an 8x12" pan, bake for 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream butter & cream cheese. Add sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and stir in nuts. Frost cake.

Boy, was it good!
I won't post the recipe for this unless someone really wants it, but here is a picture of my crockpot lasagna (made on Sunday). It was a little dry. I should have added more water, but I put in tomato sauce instead of tomato paste so I assumed it would suck up the water from the sauce. Next time I will add more water! David liked it.

And, just because I can, here is a picture from Tuesday of my sweet nephew, Caleb. My sister, my friend Sarah, and her sister-in-law Amanda were in town this weekend for a visit so we went to Pike Place Market. It was such a good time - I miss them already! Sarah cooked us a yummy meal last night of pot roast, carrots & potatoes, salad, and Carrie made garlic cheddar biscuits and cookies for dessert. Do we live large or what?

I'm salivating now and will head to the kitchen to heat up the leftovers from last night's feast!

Friday, July 11, 2008

And the results...

So I'll start with results for the German Lasagna.

I changed a couple of things based on what I had or didn't have. Instead of cream of mushroom, I used cream of potato. I've been looking for an excuse to use it for a LONG time and now seemed like a good opportunity. So, I did. I thought it was good.

I didn't have any mozzarella handy (I know, what kind of cook am I?), so I instead used Monterrey jack. I would not have dared such a feat had it been "normal" Italian lasagna - talk about sacrilege. But, I'm sure the Germans wouldn't mind the change - if I had Swiss I think that would have been even better.

I don't recommend using an electric mixer to blend the liquid ingredients. Just stir them together really well. I learned the hard way that when you beat milk, it splatters. All. Over.

By the way, whoever sealed our sauerkraut did a really, really good job. My poor husband just had an outpatient surgery and wasn't supposed to exert a ton of effort but being the meanie that I am, I made him open the sauerkraut. Easy, right? I mean, he's 6'2", 210lbs, some pretty rip-roaring muscles. Meaty man. He couldn't get it open. I couldn't get it open after he tried. I ran the lid under warm water. He tried again, bless his injured heart. No dice. I tried again. Nothing. Now I put the jar upside down in the sink and let the drain hold it steady. Hot water poured over all sections of that stubborn lid. Finally, after more of what his doctor would have called exerted effort (complete with finger wagging, I'm sure), the lid popped. Hallelujah!

And back to the point.

The layer on top was hard. I don't know what was up with that, so I have no advice.

David thought this was "interesting" and said I could make it again.

DAVID RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ out of 5

Next, the Pan Pizzas.

There were only a few things I changed. First, I used regular milk, not skim. I know, big deal.

I also didn't use a standing mixer with a dough hook. Mostly because I don't own a stand mixer. It worked just as well for me to stir the ingredients until they became too hard to stir then I picked up the dough and kneaded it in my hands until smooth (the dough, not my hands). I didn't feel it necessary to put flour all over my counter to roll the dough into a ball, so I just shaped the dough into a ball while it was in my hands and then flung it into its greased bowl for rising.

Okay, this is where you'll question my cooking skills. I still didn't have mozzarella cheese, so I used shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese. Argh, I know.

DAVID RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ out of 5
Yes, that's good considering he "doesn't care for pan pizza". Yeah, good thing I find these things out after I make the meal.

I haven't figured out the menu for tomorrow. Anyone else get crazy nervous when there are fresh veggies and meat sitting in your fridge? I feel like they'll go bad before I can use them. Maybe I can use my crock pot tomorrow!

And, just because I can, today was cruise ship Friday (my term). I walked a few feet to my office window and snapped this shot. It's a little surreal how close the ship is to our building. Passengers get on the ship and hang out on the deck of their rooms and stare at our building sometimes. Um, hi. I just work here. Every day. It's nice that you get to be on a cruise and you're drinking in the clean air while I'm stuck in this office just looking at the air. Anyway, I digress. With a photo, no less...

Tonight is a lazy night. I love lazy nights every now and then.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Ambitious

I'm not going to get to make the carrot cake for my parents but I plan to make it for company next week.

Tonight for dinner I'm trying a new recipe (surprise, surprise). It's called "
German Lasagna". While "Grocery Gaming" last week, I picked up some kielbasa. I remember my mom making kielbasa when we were kids and I loved it. She would just cook the meat then add sauerkraut and we'd devour it that way. While I would be perfectly happy serving kielbasa with sauerkraut alone, I would not be living up to my husband's expectation that I always make things more complicated than necessary. So, I found the recipe for German Lasagna and decided to take a stab at it. Just looking at the recipe I might decide to cook some angel hair and just throw everything else on top of that unless it turns out that I have enough lasagna noodles to pull of the dish. I realize I'm being backwards about all of this recipe posting. I know that I'm supposed to make the dish then post about it the next day with pictures of how it turned out and the recipe below. However, I like the idea of finding recipes and compiling on my blog so that when I go home I can pull up one website and know what I want to make.


9 lasagna noodles
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups milk
1 pound kielbasa
1 (20 ounce) can sauerkraut, drained
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. In a blender or with an electric mixer, blend mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup and milk until smooth. Cut sausage in half lengthwise and slice thinly.
4. In a 9x13 inch dish, layer 1 cup soup mixture, 3 noodles, half the sauerkraut, half the sausage and a third of the cheese. Repeat. Top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining soup mixture. Cover with foil.
5. Bake in preheated oven 25 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining cheese when still hot.

I also found a recipe that I want to try on Friday for personal pan pizzas. I say "personal" because, even though the recipe says they will serve 4-6, I know David will be able to eat one all by himself. I really love Pizza Hut pan pizzas so if this turns out anything like that I will be HOOKED! I thought about substituting whole wheat flour instead of all purpose but I don't think it would turn out the same (same being nice and fatty).

Makes two 9-inch pizzas serving 4 to 6

Dough Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 degrees
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for counter
1 package instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Topping Ingredients
1 (3.5-ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce (heat on stove and add salt/pepper to taste)
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Add any other ingredients you might like on your pizza as well.

To make the dough:
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off.
Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray.
Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons oil.
Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in measuring cup.
Mix flour, yeast, and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture.
After dough comes together, increase speed to medium-low and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes.
Turn dough onto lightly floured counter, gently shape into ball, and place in greased bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

To shape and top the dough:
Transfer dough to lightly floured counter, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball.
Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll and shape dough into 9 1/2-inch round and press into oiled pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm spot (not in oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.

While dough rises:
Put half of pepperoni in single layer on microwave-safe plate lined with 2 paper towels.
Cover with 2 more paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds.
Discard towels and set pepperoni aside; repeat with new paper towels and remaining pepperoni.
Once the dough has risen in the pan:
Remove plastic wrap from dough.
Ladle 2/3 cup sauce on each round, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges.
Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 cups cheese and top with pepperoni.
Bake until cheese is melted and pepperoni is browning around edges, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven

It is very important that you let the pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Then, using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into 8 wedges. Serve.

David is turning 30 this year. I thought about making the following dessert for his birthday but I might make it sooner to be sure that he likes it. Although, he loves peanut butter cups (check!), cheesecake (check!), and chocolate (check!) so I'm sure it will be a hit! I'm posting it now so that I don't forget about it later. I got it from Picky Palate (I love her recipes!).

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars

I'm also going to attempt to make my own granola. I absolutely love parfaits but I don't want to pay over $3 at Starbucks for them anymore! Just buying some peach, strawberry, or vanilla yogurt and adding granola to it will have the same effect for much less money so I will attempt that as soon as I can find some dry milk that isn't $17/box.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mexican food

David is not a dessert eater. If I make a dessert, I need to have a legitimate reason for it otherwise I end up eating an entire cake all by myself over the course of a week. Not good. My parents are coming in to town tomorrow night so I'm going to attempt my first carrot cake. I'm not sure when I'm going to make it - I am having dinner with a friend this evening and when I get home I will probably end up cleaning and getting ready for my parents' arrival. Tomorrow night it's possible I could have time to make it when I get home from work but we'll see! Here is the recipe I plan to use...

Carrot cake

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
3 c. grated carrots
2 c. self -rising flour
1&1/2 c. oil
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans

Blend sugar and oil. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Add flour, carrots, cinnamon and nuts. Mix well. Pour into greased and floured cake pans (either 2 8" or 2 9") Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool completely


1 box (2 cups) powdered sugar
1 (8oz) box cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chopped pecans

Cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and stir in nuts. Frost cake.

When I get home this evening I will make soft tacos for David along with Spanish Rice and refried beans. I found a recipe for Spanish Rice on that I've modified a bit and I will never go back to boxed Spanish rice again.

Spanish Rice

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 T dried minced onion
2 cups water

2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (if you don't like spicy, use a can of diced tomatoes in place of the Rotel)
2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

Dissolve chicken bouillon cubes in the 2 cups water.
Heat butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Saute rice & onion rice is browned.
Stir in water and tomatoes. Season with chili powder, cumin and salt. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

Servings: 4 Calories per serving: 270 Total Fat: 7.6g Dietary Fiber: 2.5g

Here's a little tip on the refried beans. It doesn't make them healthier but it makes them creamier and more like restaurant-style. Add a couple Tablespoons of butter to the beans as they're heating. Yum! I also add a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese.

Usually with Mexican food I will have made some enchilada sauce to go in the beans and to go on top of the tacos or enchiladas or whatever I am serving. Here is the recipe for the enchilada sauce:


3 T oil
3 T flour
6 T chili powder
2 c water (or meat broth)
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder

Dissolve chili powder in the water and set aside. (I measured out the 2 c water into a measuring cup and dissolved the chili powder in it beforehand so that it was ready...I used warm water to aid in the dissolving). In medium skillet, heat oil. Add flour and heat until dissolved. Add chili powder/water mixture and mix well. Add salt and garlic powder and mix well. Bring to bubbly boil, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes.

I'm not really sure if this blog of mine will be primarily recipes that fared well in our house or what, but for now that is what I felt like posting about.

It's a beautiful, 82° day here in Seattle. Come see us!