Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kitchen Tip - Broth

There is nothing better than homemade broth. I have found it difficult to have all the leftover 'stuff' to make broth all at once. However, I have now found a way that works great and all you need is freezer space... Simply place all your veggie peelings and such in a freezer bag and freeze until you have the chicken/beef/pork bones and fat then just add the frozen veggie leftovers to a pot with the meat (or to make a vegetarian broth just wait until you have enough frozen vegetable leftovers. You can actually have a bag for meat and one for vegetables as well.

What tricks do you have for making homemade broth?

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 20-26

This week started out at my in-law's house. We loved being able to visit them, even though we were only there for 3 days. We left before I had finished unpacking from our previous trip and I am just feeling like I'm getting settled down again. I also don't want to take a trip for a LONG time! I am really not a travel-loving person. True story, I'd rather stay home than go to exotic places - especially if it involves flying... after our last flight earlier this month, I don't want to fly again! However, I do love how short it makes cross country trips.

Here's our menu:

Monday: Teryaki Bowls (I made this while there, but it is an elusive dish that I still have never taken photos of... however I would make it again and be sure to take pictures if it wins the poll ;).

Tuesday: Chicken Fingers (made with crushed cornflakes instead of bread crumbs)

Wednesday: We were traveling and I don't remember what we ate

Thursday: Salad and watermelon

Friday: Omelets with Blueberry Muffins (muffins made with only honey as a sweetener, including the crumb topping!)
Saturday: Broiled Salmon with raspberry vinaigrette and salad (My son actually said, "this is good fish", while eating it! However he wouldn't eat it the next night - go figure!)
Sunday: Veggie Pasta Salad (My son helped me make this, however he snitched cheese at every chance he got!)

Vote for the recipe you want to see next Thursday! I'm going to be posting the pasta and bean salad this week.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weather, Bird's Identified and a Winner

Last week I posted about our traveling to Madison, Wi where my husband successfully defended and deposited his Master's Thesis. (Finally after 2 years of writing in addition to the 2 years of coursework!) What I failed to tell you is that while we were in Madison, the weather decided to do some crazy stuff and for a couple of days that we were there it was actually hotter and more humid in Madison than in Miami! Then it cooled off by 30 degrees in a few hours and had hail and tornado warnings... complete with the greenish sky.
One of the warm hot days I took my son to the splash park (hubby was working on edits to the thesis in order to get it handed in.)

He stayed nice and cool (as well as got worn out from running around for an hour!)

Now getting back to the birds: I'm going to label the birds I know...

#1 - Eastern Bluebird
#2 - Northern Cardinal
#3- Pretty sure this is a tree swallow
#4 - unsure, this bird only sat in the tree the whole time so we only saw the head.
#4 again with #6 mobbing it
#5 (bottom bird) - Brown Headed Cowbird
#6 BlueJay
 #7 Baltimore Oriole

And now for the winner:
Comment #2 is :
Natalie G. said...
I thought #3 was a blue bird until I saw #6. I think that is a true blue bird.
Please email me at:  crystalscozykitchen (at) gmail (dot) com   to claim the cookbook.

Plus stick around until next week when I'll be giving away another cookbook!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach Pesto

Every other Wednesday I will be sharing a vegetable side dish instead of a kitchen tip. This is part of one of my personal goals to make vegetables take a more central roll in my dinners instead of being an afterthought. 

I love basil, unfortunately it is not one of the herbs that my husband likes a ton. He will eat it, thankfully! However, pesto made with basil is a bit too much for him. Spinach Pesto works for us because I get a basil flavor but it is not too overwhelming for my husband. I also love this version since it gets a full serving (or two) of leafy greens.

Spinach Pesto
First, you'll need a blender (or food processor) and spinach.
You'll need 5 cups (loosely packed) spinach.
1/8 to 1/4 cup basil (depending on how much flavor you want.)
3 cloves garlic, minced.
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup oil, and 1/3 cup pecans. You can use pine nuts instead of pecans (I just don't really like pine nuts, but I love pecans!)
Blend (or process) until spinach is pureed and nuts are chopped into small pieces.
You'll also need some pasta.
Add the pesto to the pasta.
Toss until the pesto coats the pasta evenly.
  Or as evenly as you can... I love to top with more parmesan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Menu: June 13-19

It's been a while since I've posted a menu here and as it would figure, I haven't been in a habit of taking pictures of every meal each night, so I missed most nights (luckily I have some pictures of items made in the archives)!

Monday: Salad with leftover grilled pork/chicken (plain green salad)

Tuesday: Banana Bread (new version made with cheesecake pudding - YUM!), Scrambled eggs, and green salad

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes (step by step photos from scratch)

Thursday: Pancakes (made by my husband - yum!)

Friday: Pasta and Vegetable Salad (Step by step pictures will be taken if this wins ;)

Saturday: Ate out with Friends   

Sunday: Family dinner

I've decided to try using comments instead of a poll, so just leave me a comment about the recipe you want to see next Thursday!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foodless Friday: Part of our trip and a giveaway!

(Just an FYI for those of you who read my personal blog... this is pretty much the same post! You can skip to the end to see how to enter the giveaway...) The trip to Madison, WI for my husband to defend his thesis was such a whirlwind trip - from planning to returning it was 2 weeks, or just over - yep that includes buying plane tickets (highly suggest NOT buying plane tickets the week of)! We did have some time to watch a show all about airports to help prepare my son for flying (one of the episodes in Mighty Machines, one of his favorite shows!)

I think having him see the airport and watch all about airplanes helped him - he LOVED the flight out (the flight back was a little more rough since we woke him up about 4:30 to catch it - no luck keeping him asleep while getting him in the car!)
 Flight out, this was actually the flight from Chicago to Madison.
 Airport in Madison bright and early Saturday morning on the return trip. He loved looking at the planes, trucks while waiting for our flight!
 "It's an airplane!"
 Flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City.
 Look at those clouds!
 Another shot of the flight from Chicago to Madison.
 Somewhere in the Midwest...
The Rockies! I always love to see how massive these mountains are when flying. Plus on the way back it lets me know we are getting close to home!

My son also enjoyed riding the bus while in Madison. We rode it a few times to and from campus (and downtown.)
 He loved looking out the window at all the cars and trucks we passed by.
 He started riding like a regular bus traveler!
 He'd walk to the back of the bus and sit in the seat like such a grown up!
 Except the pacifier and playing with his ears... funny thing about the pacifier - he'd only been using it for naps until he got an ear infection that cleared up shortly before we left. Since then he ALWAYS wants it!

He really LOVED the bus rides!

We arrived Friday evening and got settled in a friend's apartment (thanks Margaret!) Saturday we ran some errands and such. Sunday we went to church, all took naps and afterward felt much more rested! After dinner we went to the Arboretum. When we lived in Madison, Hubby and I would take trips to the Arboretum to see the birds. We loved taking the less traveled paths and seeing all the different plants and animals that were there. We saw quite a few birds as well.
  I love how they have benches and such by trees.
 I loved this shot even thought it turned out a bit blurry.
 This bench has a great view and it was near here that Hubby and I saw a brown thrasher a few years ago.
 I think this bench would be a perfect place to take couple pictures, especially grandparents!
 This is the view from the bench. I love it as well.
 Hubby was sitting here and I loved the shot, so I made him look to the left to get a profile instead of just the back of his head.
I love how my son is captured by the plant that my husband is showing him!
 This tree intrigued me
 so I took a close up picture of it.
 LOVE this flower, so interesting.

And now for the birds we saw: 
#3 (this one is hard so just a guess of which type is fine)
#4 again
#5 (bottom bird)
Anybody recognize any of these?

Now for the giveaway:
This is a great cookbook for cooking with children. Especially if you haven't yet and want to start.
Each recipe has a suggested book at the top (and they have other suggestions at the end of the recipe as well.) They also give a list of ingredients as well as kitchen gadgets you'll need. It includes over 50 recipes as well as ideas for activities.

To enter this contest leave a comment and let me know which birds you recognize, or if you prefer you can leave a comment about anything...

For an additional entry, you can leave a comment on any post since Monday, then leave another comment on this post to let me know. (You can comment on every post, but only one additional entry.)

Contest open worldwide. Contest will end Thursday (June 23) evening. Winner will be announced next Friday (June 24), please check back to see if you won as I will not require you to enter any contact information. Winner will be selected by