Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Feeling... overall, happy with life, postponed dreams aside.  I have 2 wonderful men who love me back, 3 awesome kitties who I adore, a home that I love, and a kitchen full of food to cook.
Post-it note doodle
Thinking... about where I am now in life compared to where I thought I would be when I was a recent college graduate.  I haven't given up all my dreams but I will be older when I finally achieve them. :)

Watching...  all the Netflix!  (*giggle*)  Not really, but I am catching up on shows I never watched when they were on originally.  Right now, I am going through Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias.  Now that I've reached season 4 of Buffy, I am going to also start watching Angel.  On the YouTubes, I am watching Good Eats... can you believe I'd never seen it before?!

As for "live" TV, I'm watching Project Runway, Top Chef Masters, MasterChef, InkMasters, MythBusters, and Breaking Bad.  I say "live" because we actually record it to watch later.

Reading... blogs and cookbooks, cookbooks and blogs.  The blogs I read are *mostly* food related but there are a fair number of art/craft/sewing blogs thrown into the mix as well.

Here is a list of my top current favorites (in alphabetical order):
  • 100 Days of Real Food - I discovered her blog when I was trying to pinpoint what in my food was making me sick before I was diagnosed with an allergy to processed foods.  We haven't pinpointed what exactly in processed foods but just avoiding it seems to do the trick.  Lisa's blog has helped me figure a lot of things out. 
  • Back to her Roots - Cassie is a recent discovery and I absolutely adore her and her blog!  In fact, this whole "Currently" thing is a blatant rip-off from her site. :) 
  • Bleubird - I love the hippie, Bohemian feel to this girl named James.  She and her family seem like such cool, down-to-earth people 
  • Crafty Pirate - pink, black, skulls, etc... Thera and I have a very similar aesthetic. :) 
  • Kath Eats - Because of Kath, I actually looked into going back to school to  become a registered dietitian.  Unfortunately, it's not something I could easily do while keeping my full-time job.  And her nearly-1-year-old son Mazen is freaking adorable! 
  • Max California - this rockin' mama has a lot of cool sewing ideas for herself and her kids that give me a lot of creative inspiration. 
  • Pull Your Socks Up - I heart Desiree a lot!  She has a "fuck you" attitude when it comes to style and it makes me smile.  While her personal aesthetic is not necessarily mine, she's given me the bravery to wear things I want to wear, regardless of what others might think. 
  • Sweet and Savory - Ally is a mom in Iowa who makes a lot of what I call "real people food".  Her recipes don't require a lot of specialized ingredients and are just plain delicious!

Excited... that in 1 month from today, I will get to celebrate 10 years of being married to Rich.  We've been together for over 14 years now and have been through quite a bit together.  He is definitely the Geek of my Heart.  :)  1 week after that, it will be 1 year since Andy moved in with us.  It took a lot for us to finally get to be together, including a massive heart attack on his part.  I am very lucky to have these men in my life and even luckier that they both let me have the other. :)
Missing... my Gramma.  She had a brain aneurysm when I was 15 and miraculously survived it, though with a lot of brain damage which affected her personality in ways that were hard for other people to understand and cope with.  My mom never gave up on her, though, and I know that her devotion is why Gramma lived another 12 years before passing away.  Gramma died over 12 years ago now (yes, the math says I am 39 now *grin*) but she was such a pinnacle part of my childhood and early teenage years.

Wondering... if there is a way to balance my relationships, my love of cooking and obsession with recipes, needed free time, AND get back into doing other creative things like sewing, drawing, and painting.  if only I didn't have to work full-time!

Working... in the same job in the orange corporate hell where I've been for almost 8 years now.  It's really not that bad but it's SO not what I want to be doing with my time.  Debt that was accrued over 10 years ago is why I am still here, though.
Random mini van convoy... including mine (that's my dashboard) and the one behind me. :)
Proud... of my cooking.  I really am.  I am able to make some amazing things that still amaze me when I make them.  For instance, my homemade Sweet Italian Sausage.  Whenever I make it, I still can't believe that *I* made it.  It's so much better than anything I'd ever purchased and while I based it off a recipe I found, I changed it to make it mine.  The same goes for my chorizo and pizza sauce.  And the fact that I make all my own bread now is still something that I am amazed by.
Rosemary & thyme roasted chicken with tomato & mushroom gratin, broccoli, and roasted potatoes
Wanting... some things for the kitchen, like a salad spinner and a better mandolin.  I also want to make my own spice and herb blends and would love a food mill.  I also need a new Dutch oven.

Wishing... I took more pictures of the foods I am cooking and eating.  Part of it is because I am so hungry that I just want to eat!  The other part is that we eat dinner around 8pm and my kitchen has fluorescent lighting so it's hard to get good pictures of my food... as you can see from my blog posts. :)
A doodle I did for Andy... he was trying to win an MVP. :)
Eating... all the things! :)  For the most part, I eat a pretty well-balanced diet, though there are days that are lighter on the veg than others.  I envy salad eaters in that regard.

Drinking... I am addicted to 2 sodas: Pepsi Max and Sprite Zero.  They are the only processed "foods" that I can seem to handle in "sipping quantities".  I've been search for something else that I *want* to drink all day and have yet to come up with the perfect thing.  Though True Blueberry iced tea sweetened with a little apple juice is not bad and I try to drink that as often as I can.

Loving... my life. I have 2 wonderful men who love me back, 3 awesome kitties who I adore, a home that I love, and a kitchen full of food to cook.   :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'll (Bent)Go Anywhere for Chipotle BBQ

Yeah, it's a stupid title but I make no apologies because it makes me giggle. :)

Anyone who knows me really well knows I have an obsession with a few different things: office supplies, cookbooks, saving empty jars, and lunch boxes/lunch box systems, to name the top 4.  I have enough notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. hoarded that I could probably supply an entire grade for the school year.  Okay, it's maybe not quite that bad.  Maybe.  But... ahem... that's not what this post is about.

One of my favorite lunching systems that I've found is from BentGo (and no, I am not a professional blogger nor do I get sponsors nor do they even know I am writing about them).  It's like a bento box (which falls under the lunch box system category of my obsession and I *may* own more than one) but I feel it's a little more user-friendly for a Western diet.

And, of course, I have all 4 colors. :-D

This is what it looks like when I bring it to work:

The nestle together nicely and I can use the elastic as a handle if I don't want to bother with my lunch bag.

The elastic comes off and there are 2 lidded containers:

The translucent lid in the back has places for plastic cutlery that is also included.  I have silverware at work that use everyday so I just keep the BentGo silverware at home.  But they are perfect for when I pack picnic lunches for the guys and I on roadtrips!

Once opened, there are 3 compartments which house things like... oh, say... my Oven Chipotle Barbecue Chicken, mashed potatoes and corn perfectly for lunch:

I rarely heat my leftovers but these are microwave safe and BPA-free so I feel a little safer about heating in them if I choose to do so.

We had a potluck at work recently and I even used this for that!  I had dates in the bottom container and 2 kinds of cheese in the top.  I got a lot of comments on the containers!

The nicest thing about this system is that the little piece fits inside the big piece for transporting home and storing:

Now, let's go back to the chicken I showed up there.

Apparently, 17% of households in America don't have grills.  I am sad to say that I am part of that number.  However, I am not sad to say that I enjoy barbecued foods at home without any guilt, even if they are made in my kitchen. :)  This chicken is no exception!

Oven Chipotle Barbecue Chicken

by Sarrah "Sashi" Steiner
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Keywords: entree chicken bbq sauce
Ingredients (6-8 servings)
  • 4-5 lbs bone-in chicken, skin removed
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1.5 c water
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c tomato paste
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • ...Note: if you do not have chipotle powder, either use 1 tsp of Ancho chili powder OR 1 Tbsp chili powder mixed with 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line large baking sheet with foil; set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over med heat. Brown chicken in batches on both sides and arrange on baking sheet, bone side up. Bake 35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in med saucepan, melt butter over med-low. Add garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add paprika, chipotle powder, black pepper, water, vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and whisk in tomato paste and molasses. Simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn chicken bone-side down. Put about 1 cup of sauce in a separate bowl and brush about half of that over the chicken. Bake 10 minutes then brush on remaining 1/2 cup of sauce. Bake another 10 minutes or until chicken is done (170 degree or juices run clear when poked. Serve with remaining sauce (but not the sauce used for basting).
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Want a recipe for just the sauce?  You can find it here.

What are some of your favorite obsessions? :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How I Recipe

Before I begin, I *know* that there are a lot of digital programs for keeping track of recipes and that it'd be easier to print them or bookmark them for looking at later.  I know this.  I am fully aware of it and briefly even explored various digital options.  However, the method I use for collecting and keeping track of recipes I want to try works for ME. 

These are my "essentials":
  1. Notebook
  2. Binder for recipes I want to try
  3. Recipe cards for recipes I want to keep/make again
  4. Binder for recipe cards
When I come across a recipe I want to try, I write it in my notebook.  The reason I don't just save them off or print them is this keeps me from collecting every single recipe I come across.  If I don't think it's worth taking the time to write down, chances are very good I won't make it.  That's one of the main reasons I am analog instead of digital.  I need a way to limit myself. :)

When I copy down a recipe, I always put the website or book I got it from so I can give credit where credit is due if I pass it on.

I number the pages for a reason I will get to in just a bit.

After I fill up a notebook page, I put into the white OmNom binder.  I use the binder because 1) I filled up a notebook already (*grin*) and 2) the page protectors keep them safe while I am cooking.  The recipes are in the book in the order I copied them down.  I tried keeping an index but didn't really keep up with it.  Plus, it's fun to flip through when menu planning.

If I make a recipe and like it enough to make it again, I copy it down on a 4x6 recipe card and put it into my yellow binder.  I put the source of the recipe on the card as well. 

I prefer to use the binder because it is too awkward to carry a recipe box around and I like how the page protect the recipe for me.  And yes, I do carry all these books around!  I bring the notebook with me to and from work nearly everyday and the binders come to work with me at least once a week while I work on my menu planning during my lunch break.

I also like the recipe cards because I don't have a good, easy digital way of viewing recipes while I am cooking.

I have this binder categorized to make it easier to find what I want to make.  Every recipe over on my ReciPage is in this binder.  So, see?  I do have a digital version as well... just for you! :)

When it comes to menu planning, I plan Friday - Thursday because I usually go grocery shopping right after work on Friday.  The picture above is the sticky note I put on the fridge so the guys can see what we have planned.  There is no reason for the multiple colors except it makes me happy.  I use a different 2 or 3 color scheme each week. :)

Usually on Wednesday, I sit down and think about what we have in the freezer that I can use.  If I see deals while I am shopping the week before, I will pick them up to be used the following week.  I then try to plan the next menu based around as much of the stockpile as I can.  I also try to balance out our proteins, with chicken as every other one.  The guys would revolt if we had vegetarian meals. :P

I also try to plan ways to use leftovers as well as planning for leftovers that I can take for lunch. In the menu above, I planned on having pork leftover to use in the Cuban sammiches.  I will often plan to roast a whole chicken over the weekend and use the leftover meat in another meal a few days later.

You see those numbers in parentheses?  Those are the page numbers of the recipes in the white OmNom binder. :)  Not only do having the page numbers make it easier to find the recipe, but it also lets me know that this is a new recipe.

After I make my menu, I go through each recipe and make a first draft of my grocery list.  After I have everything I know I need to the meals, I add whatever else we need.  On Thursday, I then rewrite the list in the basic order of the aisles at my grocery store.  For me, this helps eliminate the need to run back and forth as I realize I've forgotten things on the list.  I also clip whatever coupons I may have to the list with an asterisk next to the list item to remind of the coupon.

So that's how I roll recipe and menu plan. :)  As I said, this way works for me but I would love to hear how you do it!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Looking Saucy and Cooking Sauces

Not a super lot has been going on except the usual cooking and... oh!  I got sunglasses!

Singing along to the radio... don't worry.  I'm not driving.  I'm sitting in my driveway. :)
I know that seems like a silly thing to get excited about but since I've been wearing glasses since I was 10, cool sunglasses have always just been a dream.  When I was younger, the choices of frames for prescription sun specs (that were cheap since money was tight) were far too dorky for even my dorky self.  I did have a pair of regular ones but, of course, I couldn't see if I wore them.  I also had a pair of clip-ons that were for driving only because... egads.  Awful!  But I still couldn't easily afford prescription ones because I didn't have that sort of luxury money laying around.

These are similar to the ones I had in junior high except the arms of those were pink... and I couldn't see when I wore them.
But then I discovered Firmoo!  First time customers can choose from a selection of free frames, which is what I did.  Single vision lenses are included for free so all I had to do was pay for the tinting and UV/radiation coating.  When all was said and done, I got these for just over $21.  Not bad for prescription sunglasses.

Now, I *do* wear no-line bifocals but since these are mainly for driving, I figured I'd save a nice little bit by just getting single vision lenses.  It feels a little weird for me but it hasn't been bad. :)

You didn't know I wore bifocals or didn't think I was old enough?  Yeah... I was 25 when I got my first pair of bifocals.  That's when I discovered that even though I am fairly low-maintenance, I do have some vanity as well.

What do you think of my new regular glasses I got from the eye doctor?  I'd like to say I got these for $21 as well but no such luck.  Even with insurance, they weren't exactly cheap.

I also did a bit of cooking this past weekend... well, cooking that is worthy of mentioning, anyway.

First, for Andy's birthday, I made him a Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

With the leftover pineapple and half a pork loin in the freezer, I decided to do a roast with 3 different sauces.  I think the Blueberry-Bourbon Sauce is my favorite... or the Apple Chutney... or the Pineapple Curry... or the blueberry... um... yeah.  I really liked all 3. :)  The roast itself was simple.  I just sprinkled the 5 lb loin with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and roasted it at 325*F for 30-40 minutes per pound.  The recipes for the sauces are after the picture.

by Sarrah "Sashi" Steiner
Prep Time: 10-15 min
Cook Time: 50-60 min
Ingredients (3 - 3.5 cups)
  • 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and 1/2" diced
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 c orange juice
  • 3/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 c raisins
Combine everything except the raisins in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over med heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins.
Let cool and store covered in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

by Sarrah "Sashi" Steiner
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Ingredients (~ 1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp apricot preserves
  • 3 Tbsp canned pineapple juice
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2" rings and each ring cut into 16 wedges
In small bowl, combine preserves, juice, mustard, ginger and curry powder.
In small saucepan, combine the sauce, pineapple, and thyme. Heat over med-high. Cook, stirring, until hot and bubbling, 3-4 minutes or until thickened slightly. Serve over cooked pork or chicken.

by Sarrah "Sashi" Steiner
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Ingredients (1.25 - 1.5 cups)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, chopped
  • 1/2 c bourbon
  • 16 oz pkg (2.5 c) frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • 1/2 c ketchup
  • 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
Heat oil in large saucepan over med heat. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook, stirring, 30-60 seconds. Add bourbon and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in everything else and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Let cool in pan. Refrigerate in covered container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
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