Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wibbly Wobbly Timey...W-Wait it's July?!?!?

It has been an insanely long time since my last post!  Life got pretty wibbly wobbly after the holidays! We found out that our tiny home will be a little fuller come this Fall!  That's right, we are adding a baby hobbit to our little home! 
We are expecting our very first human spawn, baby girl on 9/25/13!  Time is flying by very fast and we are working on preparing everything for her arrival!

But! I have a little more down time currently so I thought I would pop back in!  I see I have a few people checking back and even a follower!! Yay! You made my day! Thank you!  If you would like to see more recipes and posts please follow me or leave a comment to let me know you're out there.
I just like to know I'm not talking to myself (although that would not be much change from real life hahaha)  
I'm also open for requests for recipes, types of foods, themes, anything!  It may take me a bit but I will work on it! I'm going to be doing more cooking and freezing meals as September draws ever nearer so we have some good home-cooked meals to whip up quickly vs eating out all the time after Nooblet arrives. 
So please please leave me a few words in the comments, let me know what you'd like to see or tell me all about your favorite fandom! I would absolutely love to hear from you!  

Smaugs Smoking Hot Salsa!

Hello!  It has been too long since my last post.  Sorry about that.  With the holidays, work, being sick, and my poor time management skills it just didn’t work out.  Then believe it or not, after the holidays things got even crazier!  But I do have something delicious for you today!  And I guess I am inadvertently sticking with The Hobbit/Lord of The Rings theme because today I bring you Smaug’s Smoking hot Salsa and From the Fires of Mount Doom Salsa.  This is what we gave most of the family for Christmas.  Money is tight this year, and honestly what a better gift than food!  Everyone needs food!  I couldn’t believe, as my husband and I are buying all of the ingredients for two batches of salsa, the sweet little cashier goes “wow…what are you guys making?”   “Salsa!  It’s our Christmas gifts this year”
She looked up at us with this look on her face like we just told her we were hobbits “Wow, I’ve never heard of anyone making their own salsa before”
ARE YOU KIDDING?!  It’s one thing to have never made your own, it is a bit of work, but never heard of anyone doing it?  Wow, bafflement (yeah, I said bafflement).
Then she says, this year is the first year she has heard of anyone making food as gifts for others for Christmas.  She had a guy earlier that day who was making banana bread (Yum! Feel free to send me some for Christmas next year!  Or any time really)
She was so bewildered, we were bewildered at her bewilderment. (why do I keep adding -ment to everything? Too much eggnog!)
So here it is folks.  I got this recipe from a lady at work, but because it’s pretty much impossible for me not to mess with things, I changed it up a bit!  (I have learned by this point though, to trust my instincts, when I do follow recipes to a T ((what the hell does that even mean!?)), they never turn out as well as when I use the recipe as a guideline)

16 Medium to Large tomatoes
3 cups Chopped Onions
4 green Peppers
2 Tsp. Black pepper
2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
3 Tsp. Cumin
2 1/2 Tbsp. Salt
2 1/2 Tbsp. White Sugar
1/3 Cup White Vinegar

For a mild sauce: use 5 Jalapenos or 1 Habanero with seeds removed

For a medium sauce: use 2 Habanero peppers including seeds and/or 10 whole jalapenos
For a Hot sauce: use 3 Habaneros with seeds and/or 15 whole jalapenos

You can feel free to play around with these ratios.  if you don't like the taste of jalapenos so much, put in less.  You can use fresh or the jarred ones.  I used the jar and it turned out delicious.  

Start a large pot of water on the stove on high, put a lid on to boil faster (or two if you want/can/wish/yougetthepoint)
As that is working its way up to a boil, grab your veggies and give them a good wash in cold water.  Then take your tomatoes and with a good pearing knife, cut out the stem.  Don’t just chop the green off.  Down underneath the stem is nasty stalky stuff.  So dig down, at an angle around the green about half an inch, I take it and go around the green in a circle with the knife.  Then pull it out.  You can feel the stalky stuff with your finger.  If you still feel some, cut out a bit more.  Not the end of the world if you don’t get it all, it’ll most likely be boiled into oblivion anyway. Just easier to get most of it out now.  Grab a slotted spoon, something wide enough and with enough scoop that you can easily grab a tomato.  Set up an ice bath, I like to put my bowls right in the sink, a bigger bowl underneath with cold water and ice, then a strainer in the big bowl, all set right into my sink, less mess! Hopefully by time you’ve washed and got your ice bath set up your water should be boiling.  Take a few of your prepped tomatoes and toss them gently into the pot, watch for splashback, it hurts.  Soon you’ll develop a technique, it’s hard to explain though, you’ll get it though, or you can use a spoon to gently lower them in.  But I prefer doing it like jumping into a pool JUST JUMP! Catch them by surprise.  Now that they’re in the pot, don’t run away just yet, you’re needed shortly.  You can watch it, as if by magic, the tomato skins will split.  I like to give it a minute to split in multiple places, 
Like So

Grab your slotted spoon, pull them all out, and dump them in the ice bath.  

Now toss a few more in, repeat until all of your tomatoes are split and have had a turn in the ice bath.  The skins almost peel themselves.  Congratulations you have now successfully blanched tomatoes.  You have hit your first save point!

Next you'll peel and dice the tomatoes.  The skins on most of them will fall off with one gentle pass through your hand.  Sometimes a little bit will get stuck on, I just peel it off with some help from a paring knife.  

They look kind of creepy like a bowl full of alien eggs or something...I don't know, But I do know they feel weird too.

Now run them through with your knife,  It's okay if they're different sizes.  I think this gives the salsa more texture.  But dice to your preference, if you like more of the restaurant style salsa you'll probably want to dice them pretty small and not drain them so much for a saucier runnier mix.

I like to put mine in a strainer after they're diced with some salt on top and let them drain just a bit.  

While they're sitting, gather the rest of your veggies, green peppers, onions, jalapenos and habanero's.  I suggest doing the jalapenos and habanero's very last as the spice seems to get into the air and make it pretty spicy in the kitchen.  You can dice everything as large or as small as you want. 

After about 10 minutes of draining, toss the tomatoes into a pot and put on the stove, bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. 

   Simmer for at least 20 minutes.  If at this point it looks delicious to you! Go ahead and begin your jarring and canning (if you have never canned before, please do some research as some recipes - salsa in particular can be a bit risky to can up due to ph levels and all kinds of fun stuff. I really never knew there was such a science to it!) 

I let mine simmer for a while longer.  This batch went for about two hours, it looked like this.

This was somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.  We made the mistake of tasting it now...and we probably ate about a pint as it was cooking alone. But goodness it was deliciously addicting!

This is at about two hours.  The colors have gotten much duller but the flavor is pretty spectacular!

This is when I started my canning process.  When in doubt cook it less the first time, next time you can play with it more.

Here is our finished product!  We divvied everything up into jars and each family got one of each flavor.  

We attached a small card on top to make sure they all know that it could be pretty spicy for some people. But if you're not a huge fan of spicy you can always tone it down with a fresh tomato or two. I enjoy spicy but this is super good when you add in a diced tomato! It brings in a fresher flavor that is just awesome!
I would recommend trying it both ways!  

I hope you guys enjoy this recipe!  It did take quite a bit of work and time in the kitchen but find a friend (or in my case, my very best friend - my husband) to help and it makes it even more fun and spreads the work load out a bit!
The family enjoyed it and I sure hope you will too! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


My sincerest apologies, I didn't want to start out with just a couple posts and quit for a few weeks.  But in all reality life got crazy!  Christmas came upon me like it was some big surprise, I act like it doesn't happen on the same day every year and it was a mad dash to finish everything up in the last two weeks before Christmas.  Then I came down with a nasty bug that has turned me into a zombie but instead of brains alls I want is Chinese food and potato soup (mmm that's dinner tonight, and that recipe will be coming soon!) 
I finally broke down and went to the doctor, sinus infection and an ear infection.  Thankfully I am now starting to feel better.  Today for the first time in a week I am able to smell anything and I don't have to sit down to recoup for half an hour after I walk five feet to the kitchen for some hot cocoa! Woo! I am working on a few things right now and hope to have at least one new entry up sometime this weekend.  So please bear with me! I am new to this but would love for you guys to come back and visit me!  I'm still here and raring to go, but I must take care of myself first.
Thanks for stopping by!
Much love,
Nerdy girl

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lembas (Elvish) Bread

Stew may be a meal fit for a hobbit but when you're headed on a long journey, you can't exactly eat lavish every night. Lembas Bread or elvish bread as we usually refer to it, one small cake will fill you for "a full days march" Perfect for settling in for an adventure on screen! Top this with a little butter or honey and this makes for a delicious, filling treat! There are a few different recipes for this and this is the first one I've tried. I would eventually like to check them all out! Maybe for our next Lord of The Rings marathon or for the next Hobbit movie! But I would definitely make these again as well. I found this recipe Here after some quick searching. This one sounded easy and yummy and they were even better than I thought they would be.

Lembas (Elvish) Bread

2 1/2 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
8 tablespoons Cold Butter (1 Stick)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Honey or Maple Syrup
2/3 cup Heavy Cream or Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt
Add the butter

It's not mandatory to cut it up but I think it makes it easier.  Use a pastry cutter and mix it until it resembles fine granules.

I did it with a fork, but I will be purchasing a pastry cutter before I make this again, it would have been much easier.

Add the brown sugar and cinnamon

 Give it a good stir before adding the cream or milk, honey and vanilla.  Combine it all until a thick dough forms.

Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. I made mine a little thicker, but traditionally they are thin cakes.  Cut into about 3 inch squares and transfer to baking sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes, or until it is lightly golden.
Elvish Bread will for many many days as long as it is kept in the leaf wrappings.
This bread will be best kept in an airtight container though.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Geeky gadgets

I first saw this type of blog entry from an awesome blog, Success Along the Weigh!  Not only does she do the awesome window shopping, she will have you smiling, laughing, siteseeing around the U.S. (recently she visited my home state and did a whole blog entry about it! gorgeous pictures included) and recipes that are to die for and healthy to boot!
 Even your favorite dishes that you don't think could be lower cal and not taste like card board, she miraculously spins into better for you recipes so you can have your cake and eat it too!  Seriously!  Right now she is doing 12 days of holiday treats that have me wanting to bake every night of the week! Be sure to stop on by and say Hello! Success Along the Weigh!
She finds the most adorable stuff and I always enjoy those entries, so I thought I would share with you, the things that I have stumbled upon in my perusing. 

This is just too funny.  Who doesn't love to give someone a mustache? Some people like to use marker on a poster, doodling on paper, now you can too, with food upon your dinner plate!  Too fun for your kids or your goofy self.  And the Mr. would be lonely with out his Mrs.

Mmm..that fruit looks delicious and reminds me of I Love Lucy.
These are very Alice in Wonderland, they would be awesome for an Alice or Mad Hatter party, you could easily make some drink tags to say "Drink Me" along with lots of odd clocks, decks of cards, mismatched tea sets.  That would be a party I would love to attend.
*Funny side note, as I was typing this part up, my husband is play Assassins Creed, they just quoted Alice in Wonderland.*
I love Chinese food!  It is one food, I don't think I can ever get sick of, but you won't find too many recipes on here.  I have tried a few recipes and they just don't compare to the little places around here, so I figure I'll leave it to the pros.  My favorite, they pile your containers so high it's hard to close.  And two lunch meals will feed Heith and I for at least 2 full meals and snacking in between, for under the price of a lunch at your local chain restaurant.  These are awesome, I love the shape and it's got it's own little handle to carry along, no need for a lunch pale!  

   Oooh zombies, nothing like a good zombie movie, from Resident Evil to Shaun of the Dead, or even Zombieland.  This would be perfect for your Zombie Apocalypse Party or your next Halloween party.  With or with out the worms, this is sweet.  

This is too amazing for words!  I want a bunch of them! Everywhere!  You can't not look at him and smile!
Ridiculously marvelous.

Food always tastes better when you cook happy!  I enjoy listening to music while I cook, I forget a lot of the time, but when I do, I can't help but sing, dance and laugh all around the kitchen.  The food turns our spectacular!  Even though tears are streaming down your face from dicing all of those onions, you dump them into a colorful cheery face and just smile!

This cup is pretty fricking epic.  It would be cool one image or the other, but combining them into heat sensitive images is just...epic!  Perfect for your archaeologist friend, reptile fan, history buff, or 7 year old nephew, or in my case, the crazy girl who just likes things with dinosaurs on them. Curiously, my love of dinosaurs only increased when I saw the Allosaurus and the stegosaurus discover a fertile land, they called "this land" and the poor stego meets his untimely doom. "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

And on that firefly note, I'm going to call it quits for now!  Please let me know what you think in the comments.  Do you have any fun favorites on your wishlist? I'd love to see them!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hobbit Stew (unofficial)

We are so impatiently awaiting the release of The Hobbit! We already have our tickets and I have the whole day off just for the occasion! My husband, Heith is a big Lord of The Rings fan, and he sucked me in! Especially after reading The Hobbit, I am planning on starting Fellowship of the Ring after the movie comes out. I couldn't think of a more fun way to get excited for the movie, than eating a meal fit for a hobbit! Well actually, if I could afford it we would fly to New Zealand to visit Hobbiton, the set where they filmed! Or I would build my own hobbit hole in my back yard and never leave! Since neither of those are an option, we settled for what we could afford, a movie marathon with food fit for a hobbit! Simple creatures with a passion for food (who else do you know that eats seven meals a day!) and celebration, what better than a nice hearty stew full of delicious beef, tasty veggies and of course a hobbit favorite, mushrooms! You can eat this from elevensies through supper and still want more! Serve this with a side of crusty bread and soon you'll have a nice full belly and ready to settle in for a nice evening of pipe -weed and blowing smoke rings.

Hobbit Stew

2 lbs Stew Meat, cut into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 medium to large red skinned potatoes, washed and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 lb mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 teaspoons beef flavor boost (two packets)
2 cups water
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 Bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper

(Not pictured: Mushrooms & Worcestershire Sauce, oops!)

There are two ways you can make this. Well really there are many different ways, but I am including two different options for cooking, one if you wake up early enough to leave it sit for 8 hours; the other is if you slept in, like I did, and started later than you originally intended! If you have time to be in the kitchen for a bit longer, but not the full 8 hours to let it cook. Versatility, FTW! 

In a resealable plastic bag, add flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, basil & oregano, shake to combine. Add beef and shake until coated. Heat 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil in skillet; add floured meat and brown on all sides.

(I left my pieces kind of big, it's easier if you chop them smaller, they cook faster and they are easier to eat)

While that's going, chop your potatoes, onions, carrots, celery. I like to leave my veggies in big chunks, but dice them to your preference. 

Put your potatoes, carrots and celery into a pan with about a tablespoon of butter to soften on medium heat, stirring often.  You can put a lid on, that should help.

While those are softening, chop your mushrooms into halves or quarters.  Or leave them whole if you please.  I quartered them, but I think i'll leave them whole next time.

The beef should be about done now, all nice and browned. Transfer it over to your slow cooker.

Add onions and mushrooms to your still hot beef skillet with a little butter and cook for two minutes, no need to clean it out before adding the onions, that just adds more delicious flavor!

 After the two minutes, toss them in the slow cooker as well. 

I think I could eat just this...yum!  But it's worth the wait!
About this time, the veggies should be good and softened. Not all the way cooked but soft enough to cut the cooking time down.  Add them to the party in the slow cooker
To the beef pan add worcestershire, water and beef flavor boost, whisk until mixed.  Don't forget those brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  When it's all combined add to the slow cooker and remind yourself to not eat it all now.  Add garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and feel free to add additional onion powder, basil, oregano (about 1/2 teaspoon of each)

Cook on High for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is tender and everything is nice and combined.

Alternative: Do not soften veggies, just cook meat, soften mushrooms and onions, add everything to slow cooker top with worcestershire beef flavor mix  and cook on low for 8 hours. 

My brothers girlfriend came over the night I made this, she said "I don't like beef stew very much but I've decided to let you change my mind" 
Good girl, Love that attitude!

That's all I ask, even if you haven't liked it before, try a spoon and see!  If you don't  like it, I won't be offended, just try it!!
Verdict was: "It's good!"

Her and I were chatting later and we decided, she may not be a beef stew convert, but she's a hobbit stew convert!
No higher compliment.  I hope this will convert your picky eaters and non-beef stew likers as well.