Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please meet the Mexican pizza

Once a week we have a meal consisting of black beans.  I really like black beans and having them on nachos is a super fast, delicious, and filling meal.  Sometimes we go with the grown up version of this dish and have Mexican pizzas.  Last night I think they could be called Mexican mountains. 

These were extra special because we had grabbed some fresh peppers at the grocery store.  Mr. J is strangely extremely knowledgeable about pepper varieties.   We always end up with too many when he goes shopping. 

Mr. J didn't realize that the bag of tomatoes was suppose to be for multiple meals. Instead he chopped them all up and added to the heaping pile.

We finished these off with a bit of spinach.

Cheese and siracha sauce.

Bake for about 20 miuntes until cheese starts to brown. The heaping mountain becomes more of a plateau with the heat and weight of the cheese.

It is so good.  The most time consuming part is the chopping which can be done in advance.  Canned beans work great. If you are really in a rush you can buy the preshredded cheese as well.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nezinscot Farm

If you have looked at my About Me page you know that I grew up in Iowa.  I hated it.  I felt like I lived on a corn field.  In reality this was not the case at all but when you are a teenage girl…what can I say? 

Then my parents decided it was time to move to Maine right before I was to be a sophomore in high school.  Cruel, huh?  I thought my life was going to end.  After a few rough weeks, I started to adjust.  I eventually found a job not far from my high school.  The sign on the store read bakery, cookies, and sweet treats.  I was sold, and then I sold them on me.  It turns out though that this perfect little store, bakery, cookies, sweet treats place was on a farm.  Not just any farm but the first organic farm in Maine. 

I had always cooked and baked with my mother and grandmother but this job took it to a whole new level.  I became the perfect housewife.  Don’t let Mr. J know; a lot of my skills fell through after going to college. 

I visited this weekend to see my old stomping grounds and fell in love all over again.  Ironically I ate all of these treats non-stop but because I was hoisting 50 lbs bags of flour and sugar every day I never gained any weight.

On the weekends there are homemade donuts and cinnamon rolls.  There is also a small cafe where you can order French toast, pancakes, crepes, and yogurt and granola parfaits.

Everyday you can find fresh bread, cookies, and muffins.  Lunch finds soup and sandwiches filling the counter.  This is one place where you will never go hungry.

Along with the bake goods, Nezinscot farm makes jams, jellies, relishes, salsa, and pickled every-veggie-you-can-think-of.  My favorites are the cheese though.  I didn't get a picture but I love all of the cheeses.  There is both goat and cow milk, hard and soft cheeses.  They are delicious and have clever little names for the farm, animals, and area. 

To find out more visit the Nezinscot Farm website and blog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby girl on the way

I am going to start with the end of my weekend adventures.  Sunday afternoon came way too fast.  I was excited though because one of my friends from high school was having a baby shower.  Not just any baby shower, but her first baby shower for her first baby who happens to be a girl.  It was time to celebrate!

Meet Mariah, the lovely mother-to-be!

The theme of the baby shower was an apple picnic.  The baby's room has a beautiful painting on the wall of an apple tree.  Aren't the decorations adorable?

The favors were candied apples dressed with sprinkles and pink chocolate.  Mr. J and I shared this on the way home.  We thought we might break a tooth but we survived with all our canines in tact.

Apple blossom cake with pink frosting.  The inside was chocolate, a deep rich chocolate that was super good.

Can spring come any sooner?

The other decorations were pictures of the baby bump.  Mariah's mother lives across the country and had not seen her since October.  She did however get a picture every week to see the progress.  It is amazing to see them all in a row. 

Because it was in Maine, and in Maine the end of March means 2 feet of snow on the ground we had an indoor picnic.  We had cute little boxes filled with chicken salad finger rolls and all sorts of other goodies.

All sorts of cute, sweet, and very pink outfits came out of the presents.  Why are baby clothes so adorable?  It will be fun to play dress up.  I had a great time.  Now I cannot wait to meet the newest addition to the family.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthdays, Baby shower, and lots of CAKE!

Let's just say this weekend satisfied my sweet tooth.

My mom's birthday was a couple weeks ago.  Mr. J and I made the trek up to Maine this weekend to make sure we could celebrate with her.

Mr. J's dad has a birthday on Wednesday.  We couldn't leave him out of the fun.

And a dear friend of my from high school had a baby shower.  She is expecting her first next month. 

It was a full, cake-filled weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homemade croutons

Every winter I have the same problem.  The second it gets cold and gray I stop eating salads.  Of course I will occasionally have when I am dining out.  But at home I have no desire to make or eat cold veggies.  I want warmth.   Thus, there are lots of roasted veggies, steamed broccoli, and baked potatoes.  No salads though.  As spring comes (albeit very slowly) to New England, I am also SLOWLY adding salads as the side to our dinners. 

To make them the most appetizing I have been buying the extra toppings I love – tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and onions. Nothing too special but all together I love the combination. However, the one thing I have found is that if I add croutons the salads turn out AMAZING!

Now in restaurants I am the girl who picks out the croutons. Not because I am on some low carb diet but because I think they are typically disgusting dried up pieces of I am not really sure. They have gross flavor and are just crunchy yuckiness. Homemade croutons are a completely different story.

As a good way to use up the last few slices of loaf bread I have been making croutons to finish off our salads. They do SO much to add to salads and are super simple to make.

Simply cube up the bread and put in a bowl. Toss with garlic salt and pepper to taste. I use about 1 tsp of each for 4 slices of bread. Then add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and toss till all pieces are coated.

Spread out bread cubes on cookie sheet. Bake for 6 minutes at 350 degrees. Then flip or toss around croutons and cook for about 5 more minutes. The time and temperature can be adjusted depending on what else you are cooking for dinner. Any extra can be store in an air tight contain for up to a week.

I am telling adding warm homemade croutons to a salad makes you just want to dive in. It makes me want spring to come even faster. I cannot wait for farmer’s markets to start opening and green grass!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Steaks with a side of beef

I think I have finally gotten Mr. J on a one a week beef diet.  We have consistently been having more vegetarian meals each week and lots more chicken and fish.  I hope he is not reading this as he may catch on and demand more protein in his diet.

I will never be a vegetarian but I think the politics and farming practices of industry beef are getting WAY out of hand.  I don’t want any part of supporting it.  I know organic, free range, and grass fed products exist but to be honest they are EXPENSIVE.  And Mr. J has not learned the concept of a 3-4oz serving size.  Thus to feed him organic, free range, and grass fed beef would break us financially, out goes the whole grocery budget for the week. 

For those reasons we are going with other options but last weekend, after my big race, I had a craving.  And boy did we have us some beef. 

Those were some massive steaks.  I am happy to say that we only ate ½ and had a lovely lunch waiting for us another day.  For those out there who say I am depriving Mr. J, you know who you are; he also travels for work quite often having meals out where you know he is ordering the biggest steak available!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chili's offer

I think you all know how I love free things.  Well Chili's has an offer for you.

Sign up with their e-club and get a free welcome treat anthing from a brownie sundae to an appetizer chips N dip combo.  You will also get a free treat on your birthday.  Now I know Chili's is not gourmet dining but we all have those nights when cooking is not an option and you don't want to break the bank with a fancy meal.  Chili's is great for those kind of nights and when you throw in a free gift why not?  So click here to sign up

Don't be scared by cluttered email boxes.  I believe that the emails vary by your chosen location but I only get maybe one a month. 

I like me some bananas!

Hump day!  The week is half over.  I always feel like when the weekend is really, really fun, then the work week goes so slowly.   It is even worse when you have big plans coming up.  I cannot wait till Friday.  To help move things along a bit more quickly last night I entertained myself by making some banana bread.

I searched the internet for a good recipe and found several with nutella and chocolate chips.  Yum huh?  After much debate though I decided to go with my tried and true recipe from Cooking Down East.  Nothing like dirty pages to tell you where a good recipe falls in a cookbook.

Banana Bread
Adapted from Cooking Down East
Makes one medium loaf

1/4 C butter, softened
1 tsp salt
3/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp soda
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3 bananas, beaten creamy

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and then add salt and sugar. 

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

4.  Sift flour with soda and cinnamon.  Mash bananas with a fork and beat until light. 

5.  Add to butter mixture alternating between the dry ingredients and bananas.

6.  Turn into greased loaf pan.

7.  Bake for 1 hour in oven.

For breakfast I topped my with peanut butter and a sliced banana.  Love it!  After a sampling last night and breakfast this morning the loaf is already half gone. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good things

New walking shoes for San Fran

Premade HEALTHY Margarita mix!
Have you tried it?

A letter from a long (not so lost) friend

 Free golf balls - Mr. J appreciated this a bit more than me but it is always fun to win something!

We some how managed to accumulate lots and lots of leftovers this weekend.  No cooking until the fridge is clean!

What are some of your good things recently?

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