Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grilling burgers

My burgers are a hit in my house so I thought I would share my tips.
Ingreds (all mostly estimates since I eyeball everything):
  • 2 lbs your fav ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • S&P to taste
  • 2 TBSP parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 3 TBSP chopped Italian parsley
  • 2-3 TBSP of your fav onion, diced
Tip 1: I think its important to not overwork/overmix ground beef when combining ingredients for burgers, meatlof, etc. If overworked, I find the end result to be chewy which feels like its overcooked. To help avoid this I put a pound of beef in the bowl, add all of the ingredients, then add the second pound of beef. Mix.
Tip 2: I don't handle the meat too long when I'm forming the patty either. I take a chunk of meat about the size of a tennis ball and flatten it slightly. When I measured the patties today for the blog they were big, almost as big as my hand. I only get five patties out of 2lbs of beef.
Tip 3: My mom likes the ol' "throw a packet of french onion soup in the meat". And I used to do that but I like the fresh ingredients. The natural moisture from the herbs and onion seem to keep the burger moist and obviously has less sodium than a dried soup mix.
Tip 4: Invest in a griling book by Steven Raichlen. I have the "How to Grill; BBQ Bible" cookbook. Its AMAZING and its a book Adam and I both use and refer to almost every time we grill. It would make a great Father's Day gift actually. Raichlen grills everything from creme brulee to red cabbage to Beer-Can chicken. We have had this book since 2005 but if anyone is a Top Chef freak like Adam and I are, you will take comfort in knowing that Tom Colicchio gave it a thumbs up and said it's a "how-to guide for anyone passionate about grilling".

Its so hard to talk about cooking temps and time, as least for me anyway. Just today I had our gas grill to 350 then my husband came and cranked up to 400. So one side cooked at 350 and the other side at 400. One thing I know is they cook close to ten minutes on the first side. The second side is usually less time. But when I see them and think, hmmmm maybe I should cook them a tad longer, I take them off the grill. I put them on a glass plate and throw a sheet of foil over them. I let them sit for at least 10 minutes - cooking in their own juices. I never regret it. They are perfectly done and juicy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The month of May

We were all sick between May 2 and May 19. It just kept morphing into different things it was awful. So that took up most of the month but since feeling better I have been purging my house. Just in baby clothes I removed at least 12 bags from my home. We set a garage sale date of June 9. Can't wait. Whatever doesn't sell I'm donating. We have also been preping our garden for planting. Very excited about our new garden space as well. Take a look!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Favorite Pasta Salad recipe

The Cuisine at Home Magazine did a Latin-inspired menu (June 2009) and I LOVE every dish. The southwestern pasta salad has become a staple in the Maley house. Full of fresh veggies and herbs and the two-second dressing it requires, its a must-try!!
I made this after I returned from the Produce Depot today. Mason sat on the counter next to the bowl the whole time to watch me cook. It was so sweet hearing him randomly talk and ask me questions about all of the vegetables, etc. It reminded me of when I used to stand on the toilet in the bathroom to watch my mother put on her make up before work. I must have been in third or fourth grade...it wasn't like last year or anything. Ok maybe it was.

  • 1 lb dry pasta rotini or farfalle
  • 1lb frozen corn (I normally don't care for corn in recipes but I love it in this one)
  • 1 3.8oz can sliced olives (again not a big fan of olives but love them in this salad)
  • 2 red bell peppers diced (I use whatever I have but if I can use a red pepper and yellow pepper and then like 1/4c green pepper.)
  • 1.5 c green onions (again I use what I have on hand. My fav combo in this dish is green onions, chives and red onion)
  • 3 TBSP chopped garlic
  • 2/3c olive oil
  • 1/3 c fresh squeezed lime juice (I don't use this much. I juice two limes and if I need more after the dish is made I add it.)
  • 1-2TBSP white vinegar (I find this is essential for any Latin recipe. I add white vinegar to salsa, a dry rub to make a paste to rub on a pork shoulder, etc.)
  • 1TBSP fresh chopped oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp each of cumin and coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados diced
Prepare pasta according to box. Drain. Toss with corn, olives, peppers, onions and garlic.
Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, and spices. Pour over bowl and toss. Stir in avacados before serving.
This dish is best if made the day before serving - the flavors all marinated together are amazing. I love the lime and oregano in the dressing. For me I find the lime helps keep the avocado from turning discolored.

Good deal on produce today

My friend, Samantha, told me about a place in Dyer, IN called the Produce Depot.
When I go in there the smell reminds me of a produce stand my mom used to take us when we were little (off route 30 I think). I leave this place feeling excited about my purchase. It's half organic and half regular produce. I usually get a mixture. I like the ready-to-eat selection too - small but hearty.
Check out what I got today for $35:
  • Huge bag of cilantro
  • Huge bag of Italian parsley
  • Red Pepper
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Green Pepper
  • Shittake Mushrooms
  • 1lb Fingerle potatoes
  • 3 shallots
  • 4 limes
  • 1lb organic carrots
  • 5 lbs Idaho potatoes
  • Organic Lettuce
  • 3 avocados
  • Organic broccoli
  • 3lbs Organic Granny Smith apples
  • 1lb Michigan asparagus
  • 2 lemons
  • Fresh Gingerroot
  • 3 organic juice boxes (kept the kiddos quiet)
  • a bag of fresh torilla chips
  • Quart of lemon rice soup (For hubby's lunch)
  • pint of hot salsa (I like Dad's Roadhouse better but it will do for this weekend)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Staying cool, old school

Our AC is broke.
And over the past few weeks we have had some pretty hot days. It wouldn't be bad but our house heats up so much that it's actually cooler to stay outside. I have to admit, I was irritated about being so hot. Especially since the kids were sick and getting up during the night, I was sleepy, worried about them and then super hot.

But lets face it, we could have worse problems. So I decided to change my attitude and think back to what my sister and I did when we were little. We rarely had AC and had to get creative to stay cool.

First thing we did was find something to clean. A hose, soap, a bucket - from a child's standpoint, what's not to love? So we cleaned the baby pool and filled it up. Joy and I used to give our dolls a bath. But since I have all boys, we gave their dinosaurs a bath.
Next we played "thunderstorm." We broke out the umbrellas and took turns spraying the water, while the others hid from the "rain" under the umbrellas. This game lasted a long time. It was a nice. Then we played in the puddles we had made from the rain.

Their rooms were so hot as I was putting them to bed. So the two older boys got a cool wash cloth to go over their forehead. I was surprised at how much they liked it.
I also put their pillows and top sheet in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Joy and I used to do this when we were little. It doesn't stay cool too long after they are out from the freezer but its nice to fall asleep to something cool on the back of your neck and body.

Anyone want to share a trick to stay cool? Please do!

Spinach popsicles

Well it worked! I made green popsicles for the boys today and they loved them.
I juiced about 4 or 5 Granny Smith apples and a cup of spinach. It tasted so good that I made more for myself to drink. I was suprised. I think a pineapple would have been good in there...I'll try that next time.
My sister told me about this combo a long time ago. I should have tried it sooner!
Anyway, I threw the juice in the popsicle maker and then poured what I had left in glasses over ice for the boys. Everything was consumed.
Very excited about this!!

Gingered Green Tea Soda

This is a refreshing recipe. I made it for my sister's baby shower and it was a huge hit. My sister in law, Cori, loves it as well. I didn't think I was going to like the lime in it but it's amazing with the fresh ginger.

The recipe is from Cuisine at Home - one of my fav cooking mags.
1c water
1 2-inch knob fresh gingerroot, sliced
6 green tea bags
1c sugar (I only use 1/4c; I found 1 cup to be too sweet)
3c club soda (I use mineral water, whatever I have on hand)
4 lime wedges

Bring water and gingerroot to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove and discard bags and gingerroot. Whisk sugar into until dissolved. Fill pitcher with ice, pour tea. Stir in mineral water/club soda.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Healthy popsicles!

For Christmas a few years back my mom bought me this popsicle maker from Williams Sonoma. I LOVE it. And was very excited to break it back out when the kids were sick this month.
The kids and I juiced a carrot, apple and two small oranges. You pour whatever juice you choose into this popsicle base, insert the sticks provided and in 9 minutes you have popsicles.
The kids are really excited to make juice anyway then to make popsicles with it - its a win-win. Next I'm going to try juicing green apples and spinach and see if they will eat it as a popsicle.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Toddler Noodle project

I had a box of spagetti noodles that I had opened and then never used again. I thought they tasted gross. But instead of tossing it in the trash I put it in the boys' craft box.
While Brant was at school I thought Mason and I would have some one-on-one time and do a project together. Mason LOVES painting so that was our focus.
I grabbed a handful of noodles, cut them in half and glued them to a piece of construction paper. After it dried I had Mason paint it green. To make a flower, Mason painted a cupcake wrapper. As that was drying I had him paint a white piece of construction paper blue for a "sky." We also painted a ladybug.
Mason and I glued all of the "garden" components to a piece of cardboard and this is how it turned out.
This was the most excited I ever saw Mason get about a craft project. He was very proud of himself and talked about it for a couple of days... showing anyone that would look.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New baby talk

These are my favorite quotes from the two boys regarding baby Isla.
  • Daddy, did you see the baby? She is so nice! (Brant, 4)
  • Isla is love. (Brant)
  • Mommy, show baby Isla your boo-boo. (brant)
  • When Jaxon first saw her, he tickled her head and said "TickleTickleTickle"
  • I think baby Isla needs a kiss *smooch* (Mason)
  • Mommy what is Uncle Chris doing with aunt ja-joy's baby? [Chris was holding Isla] (Mason)
  • Uncle Chris is a daddy, just like my daddy (Brant)
  • To the neighbor: This is aunt ja-joy's baby! She came out of her tummy! (Brant)
  • Helping Joy change Isla's diaper: Why is Isla crying? I don't cry when I poop. Mommy doesn't cry. Daddy doesn't cry. Brant doesnt cry. Jaxon doesn't cry. Why is she crying? (Mason)
  • For the entire first day the boys called Isla "Baby ja-joy"
  • Mommy, I think I have a baby Brant in my tummy (lifts up his shirt to show me)
  • I gotta feed my baby, said Brant pretending to nurse his bunny rabbit.