Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter Barley Salad with Cranberries and Feta

1 ½ cups pearl barley
4 ½ cups water
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
¼ cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
3 tbspn. balsamic vinaigrette
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse and drain barley.
Bring water to a boil in a heavy saucepan.
Stir in barley, and return to boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, 45-50 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature. (Barley can be cooked the day before and kept refrigerated.) In a large bowl combine cranberries, feta, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley. Mix in barley, then drizzle with vinaigrette and toss, seasoning to taste.

Source: Whole Foods Happy New Year Flyer

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle

This past weekend, we renewed our house working efforts. Nate continued painting the basement and we also hooked up our HD box from the cable company - WOW! what a difference. I have to admit that I was not sold on the whole HD TV, but the quality really is fantastic. We also have hung some shelves in the living room and gotten some new lamps.

And...drumroll...our new dishwasher is arriving Saturday! I can hardly stand the excitement!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

We love Whole Foods, But...

Our weekend started off with this brilliant idea of going to this wine & cheese "event" at Whole Foods on Friday night. Going to Whole Foods is a bit of a trek for us, given that the only WF in the area is in downtown Milwaukee. The "event" was advertised in the monthly flyer of classes and other events that the store makes available. We were looking forward to tasting a bunch of wine and unwinding after a particularly hectic week.

We were greeted by an employee serving two wines, as live guitar music played in the background. We tried the burgundy, chatted with the employee and went to find other wine stations. We went left. We went right. There were no more wine stations. And no cheese. What a bust! I guess that is what we get for attending a "free event". Ah well, WF, we still love you, just not your events.

Why We Haven't Been Posting As Often...


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We're BAAACK! (aka Curtailing Junk Mail)

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we were enjoying a nice 10-day vacation in FL and GA. And while we were in Atlanta, that damn snow followed us! Our friends there were excited, but alas, we were not!

Of course when you go on vacation, you return to a bunch of mail. Coincidentally, I received an email about ways to avoid junk mail which is not only a headache, but is a waste of paper as well. I thought I would share.

Website #1, Catalog Choice, allows you to sign up to NOT receive any catalogs you may get but not want.

Website #2 allows you to opt out of any non-direct mailings.

Website #3 allows you to opt out of those annoying insurance and credit card offers.

I have no idea if these actually work, however, I did sign up for all three in an effort to curtail our junk mail!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sex Offender Map

If you are interested to know how many sex offenders live near you, you can use the mapping feature at this link. Clicking on the squares even gives you pictures and information about the offender.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green

The house belonging to friends of some of our friends in Atlanta, GA will be featured on a future Discovery Channel Planet Earth show for their green remodel of their home. I have added their house blog to my list of blogs/websites - Green Home Planet Earth.

The plans for this house are incredible and include remodeling a bungalow style home to double the amount of space and reduce their carbon footprint. This puts our feeble attempts at greenness (energy efficient appliances, lightbulbs, recycling) to shame. Heck, it even puts our remodeling process (slow & steady) to shame!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Muy Bien!

Inspired by the Martin Ramirez show at the Milwaukee Art Museum, we made Mexican Lasagna for dinner last night. It was delish.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground meat (the recipe called for chicken, but we used beef)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes**
1 cup frozen corn kernels
8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack
2 scallions, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add meat and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.

***Oops! I actually added BOTH the tomatoes and taco sauce b/c I didn't read and it was still good. We served with sour cream as well.

Source: Rachel Ray

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Scrumptious Creme Brulee

We had some peeps over for dinner on Friday night and I fired up (literally) the kitchen torch for some homemade creme brulee. All the recipes I have found have been variations of the same thing, and I am tempted to try them all until i have perfected the recipe, although based on the empty ramekins Friday night, this one is pretty darn good. The cookbook even called it "scrumptious".

So here goes...

Classic Creme Brulee
2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Heat the cream almost to a simmer. Meanwhile, stir the yolks & sugar with a wooden spoon until blended. Gradually stir in the cream through a sieve. Stir in vanilla.

Pour into six to eight ramekins and place in a water bath. [side note: this made 5 servings in my ramekins, which are on the large side]. Set the pan in an oven set at 250. Bake until the custards are set, but slightly quivery in the center when cups are shaken, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Let custards cool at room temp for an hour and then wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge. Let set for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

Before serving, sprinkle brown sugar on the top and torch with kitchen torch. Serve with fresh raspberries and blueberries (my favorite way).

I highly recommend these bowls from Crate & barrel with the pouring spout for this (and pancakes) and the williams & sonoma kitchen torch.

Recipe Source: The Joy of Cooking circa 1997

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Horror!

UGH. Since becoming a home owner, my favorite magazine has definitely been Blueprint. Now, I just find out that the Jan/Feb 2008 issue is the last one and that the magazine will be folded into Martha Stewart Weddings! I thought this was just a rumor. ARGH! While MS Weddings is by far the best wedding magazine out there, I took the walk down the aisle already and no longer consider it relevant to my life, as Blueprint is/was! ARGH.

My magazines are all folding on me. Last week I got a postcard that House and Garden is no more either.

It's a sad day here.

Make my magazine count 14 instead of 16.

We are officially married

We have started to hang/display some more artwork and pictures throughout the house. We even have hung our first wedding picture in our bedroom - I guess we can claim to be officially married now that there is photographic proof.

We also got this cool new leather bench to fill up our room more. It even has the bonus feature of having storage inside. The room still looks a little bare, but it's getting there. A few more pics can be viewed in the Master Bedroom album.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Guide to Homebuying from Blueprint Magazine

Each issue of Blueprint magazine comes with a mini-magazine tailored to a specific topic. The latest issue's mini-mag is a guide to buying houses. Clearing, that ship has sailed for us, but if any loyal reader wants it, leave a comment and I will mail it to you!

An excuse to read even more!

With our money that we got from returning our beloved firepit, we bought a chair and ottoman for the library (aka Bedroom #2). Nate calls it our swanky east-side chair, and I must admit it is very comfy. We also have started hanging up some artwork, like this fun print given to us by our Chi-town friends, Jenn and Jeff. If you click on Jenn's name, you can see the print up close, it is the first one on page 2 of 4.
What you don't see is the OTHER side of the room, which is crammed with all the stuff we have yet to find room for! (Please no comment on my classsy blue sweatpants circa 1983).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fantastic Invention

While in line at Pick-N-Save, my eye breezed past the magazines and landed on these lint filters for the laundry hose. Basically, a tube of wire mesh that fits around the hose leading from the washing machine to the drain. At $1.89 for 2, I thought they were worth purchasing, even if they didn't work.

A week later, I have decided it was the best $1.89 spent as it definitely is catching lint. We are hoping that this will save the hero some future drain de-clogging, even if it looks like some medieval torture device!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy 2008!

Lest you think that all I do in this blog is whine about snow, I would just like to state that December 2007 was the 2nd snowiest winter ever on record in Milwaukee! Although, it has been like living in a Christmas card lately - the snow has stuck to the trees in a very pretty way.