Saturday, May 31, 2008

This week's menu

While Edward is watching the Stanley Cup finals I sat down and studied the Price Chopper ad. When I say studied, I really mean studied. I had my head down and was looking at all of the fine print. Although the economist on the news said that this is the most cost efficient way to grocery shop, my list looks awfully long. I'll give it a try though. I'm all into grilling this week because Foodnetwork has been doing Bobby Flay's Thrill of the Grill this whole month. Obviously I'm easily influenced by TV.

This is the plan for this week:

Sunday: Swordfish steak burgers with Balsamic glaze and grilled pineapple.

Ocean Perch with dill and southwestern style cranberry relish--This is definitely an experiment for me. I'm not sure how the cranberry will be, but it sounds tasty. I figured I'd put the relish on the side in cause it ruins the fish.

Zesty couscous salad with shrimp skewers--Julie recommended this salad so I thought we'd give it a try. I'm going to grill the shrimp. They're 10/$10. The minimum is 2 oz. but I figured if 4 skewers were less than 2 oz I'd get 6 or something. You can never have too much shrimp! Plus I think that shrimp is pretty easy to freeze. Hmmm....maybe I should stock up on the skewers to have for the next few weeks. Although, a lot of places that sell shrimp have defrosted the shrimp already and since Troy is pretty far inland I have a feeling that our shrimp was previously frozen. Unless you're right on the coast most store bought shrimp is comes frozen even if it isn't when you buy it. The boats that they come on freeze them pretty much when they catch them. Alton Brown says that it is perfectly fine, but refreezing defrosted shrimp might be risky. I've always been told you shouldn't refreeze defrosted stuff (I'm not sure why), but I don't want to chance it. Maybe I'll just get 4 skewers.

Wednesday: Mommy's Pork Ribs--I asked for this recipe a while back, but now that it's grilling season I can actually do it. I'm very excited because her ribs are really good. I'm glad my mom is such a good cook.

BBQ'd Korean style sirloin steak

As I said before, Friday and Saturday are left up for grabs. I have my end of the year 21st Century picnic on Thursday so chances are that I'll do the steak on Friday. I'm very excited to see if I spend less tomorrow when I do my weekly shopping. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Baby shower stuff

I was very excited when Melanie gave the okay to make her invitations. Here is the finished product. I also made thank you cards to go with the invitations and put together some name tags.

Last night I sat at our coffee table with Food Network on and worked on 25 of these cards. I went through and did everything one step at a time. So I stamped 25 baby carriages, colored them, cut them out etc. Repetition! I know there is a smudge from the stamp, but this was my tester invitation. Hopefully we don't end up having to use it.

This is the invitation envelope. Even though we're going with a ducky theme, I wanted to put the butterfly on there to reflect Melanie's personality. She likes butterflies like I like stars. Hehe.

These are the thank you cards and their envelopes. They're nice and simple, but they match the invitations, which I thought was pretty nifty.

These are the name tags. I think we're going to put these at the door and have people write their own names on them as they come in. I got these ducks for 59 cents each and then just hot glued two magnets onto the back. This way no one's clothes are ruined by pins and they can use their name tags as magnets later on. I cleaned the bin out, so not all of the ducks are perfectly painted, but hey, they were only 59 cents. Plus I don't think that people will care enough to really notice. Not everyone is as picky as I am. I hope that the magnets hold on tight enough. Sometimes hot glue can be finicky. I'm actually short about 6 ducks, so I think I'm going to have to go back to get more in a month or so...once I know they're restocked.

For my family: These wood die cut things come in lots of cool shapes. You guys should make magnets for your fridge.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Portabella mushroom burgers

Last night I made some pretty awesome portabella mushroom burgers that were very tasty. I stir fried my little brussels sprout greens to go on top. They tasted good too. The only unhealthy thing that I put on the burger was a slice of American cheese. You know, the fake stuff from Kraft. It just tastes so good!

I think that this week I'm going to look at the specials in the Price Chopper adds to see if I can formulate my menu around their sales. I saw on the news that this is the best way to save money with the rising prices. I'm going to try it out and see. I'd like to continue eating fish since it is filling and good for us, but Julie pointed out that some farm raised fish tend to have high mercury levels. That's fine though, it looks like for this week Price Chopper is having sales on their meat. I'm really into this grilling stuff, so I plan on grilling everything this week. This way there is less clean up, the fat drips off, and Edward helps me cook. I've actually been doing the grilling, but he tends to help more when the grill is going.

Servings: 2
Time 1.5 hours

4 portabella mushrooms
3 tbsp kosher salt
3 tbsp black pepper
3 tbsp Evoo
1/2 cup mesquite marinade
1/2 cup water
2 slices american cheese (optional)
4 slices polenta (optional. I used the left over polenta from the catfish.)
2 large buns

1 bunch greens--spinach is fine
1 clove garlic; minced
kosher salt to taste


Mix salt, pepper, and EVOO and spread over mushrooms. Place mushrooms in gallon sized bag and top with mesquite and water. Let marinade for about an hour. Grill on medium, flipping after 2 minutes. Place polenta slices on mushrooms to warm. Layer cheese.

Grate garlic into wok with hot oil. Toss greens until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top your double decker mushroom burgers with greens. Serve hot.

I only used the polenta because I had it in the fridge. When you first make the polenta is it quite liquidy, but after you chill it it becomes brick-like. I'm not sure if it liquefies again if you put it back in a pot, but I justed used them as extra filler for my burgers. They were very tasty though because the curry flavoring had really set in.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good and bad news

I've been putting off writing about my summer job situation because it's messy and too sticky for me to think about all of the time. I'll try to sum it up quickly though. I was very excited about being the Assistant Summer Camp Director, but then the exec wasn't to sure about me working with the kids because of our run-in last September. Things worked out, but then I found out from our 21st Century director (not Carol) that we would probably be having the summer camp, which meant that I would have a job with 21st Century like I wanted...except now I was committed to Child Care. Argh! Carol! She told me that the grant was done and we weren't having any program so I went looking for another position. For the summer camp I would be working with a friend of mine who I worked with last summer in 21st Century. The 21st Century boss sounded like she wanted me to be the director for our summer program, but I wasn't sure how that was going to work. So today I went to the Child Care director with a question and she was the one who informed me that I wasn't doing the summer camp anymore. My own boss hasn't even told me yet! So she let me off the hook. Anyway, so when the grant came through the exec told Carol that she'd pull me, which is fine. But then I had to go to my friend to tell him that I wasn't working with him. Well, I guess I didn't have to tell him because he already knew, but I didn't want to not tell him in person. When I told him he didn't seem happy, but he knew what was coming when I approached him. The thing that gets me is that he said that the Child Care director told him that I went to her to say that I wasn't doing the program. I was like No! I haven't talked to her since the interview and that the exec told Carol that she was going to pull me. So I told him that I definitely didn't tell her that and that I was letting Carol and the Child Care director handle it. Hopefully he believes me. Oh well. Shanna very wisely told me to "get over it".

I'm very happy that I get to do the 21st Century summer camp since I know the staff, kids and the program already. So that's my good news. The drama is the bad.

The other good news that I have is that I finally got off my butt and emailed the owner of Market Block Books about meeting her to learn about what she does. She was a publisher in NYC for a long time and then she opened her own book houses and publishing company. Edward keeps pointing out that if I don't make the best of my resources here then I'll never make it, especially since it's not very competitive around here. After coming out of my "funk" last week, I finally got her email address from Judd. She responded right away and now I'm going to meet with her next Monday! We already have a lot in common. She loves books and the smell of them. I told her in my initial email that I'd bring a very nice smelling book when I met her. I think that I got my friend Cassie into smelling books, but I don't know many other people who love the smell of libraries and book stores. If you want to start smelling books I highly suggest it. It's therapeutic. I'd start with just smelling the paper at the Sanrio store. That's where I found my love for the smell of paper. Heheh. Anywho, so far I'm having a good day. We have a field trip to Laser Tag in about 15 minutes so I'm very excited. Those kids are going down!

Wheat-crust Mozzarella pizza with fresh basil

I ended up using this pizza dough recipe from instead of the America's Test Kitchen one since I didn't want to try the 14 day free membership. Instead of using all purpose flour like the recipe calls for, I used wheat flour and added and extra half a cup of water. Since I had to go to work, I let the dough rise for 3 hours while I was gone. It doesn't look like you need to let the dough rise, but I figured that it wouldn't hurt any. Since I did let it rise I was able to cut the dough in half and freeze some for future use. I don't have a pizza pan, so Ed and I bought a set of disposable ones. If I find that I start to make more pizza then I'll consider buying one. But for now, disposable it is.


Follow instructions from; adding an additional 1/2 cup of warm water.

1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese; shredded
2 tbsp fresh basil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread pizza dough evenly on pizza pan. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce as evenly as possible. Layer cheese and basil accordingly. Bake for 15-20 min depending on thickness of crust.

I really liked just plain tomato sauce because it was nice and sweet, which went well with the cheese and basil. If you like the savoriness of spaghetti sauce then you can use that istead.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I got a bike!

Ed and I went to Walmart today and I got myself that pink and purple bike from my last post. The best part is that I only spent $89 for the bike and the helmet! I got this helmet in navy blue for $13. Edward had to make some switches on the padding because it was missing some, but now it fits nice and snug. I'm very happy about my purchase. I just hope that I don't fall off and hurt myself...I'm not the best of bikers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm buying a bicycle

After much grumbling and looking in the mirror at my growing belly (no, I'm not pregnant), I've decided to get myself a bike to ride to work. Since the Levie's were out here this month and were gracious enough to buy us loads of food from BJ's, I have money in my budget to get myself a bike, helmet, and lock. I've decided to settle with the cheapest thing I can find since I'm banking on the bike getting stolen. I'm hoping by saying it, that it won't really know, reverse psychology. After Emmy and I took nearly half an hour to get to the Y on foot I decided that walking was not a realistic way to transport myself to work when I have to get there at 6:30AM everyday. I'm so out of shape that biking to work will be my feeble attempt to loose the belly and strengthen my heart, among other things. Tomorrow I plan on waking up early to go to Target to check out their bike selection. Ed and I have already checked out Walmart and found a nice pink and purple bike for $69. The bike seat hurts my butt, but I think I'm just out of practice. I'd really like to get a cruiser since I've never had one before. I've had the cute little bikes with streamers and baskets. I'm pretty sure I had a Huffy mountain bike type thing at one point in my life and my bike at home is too nice to risk getting stolen. (Compared to Christopher's new bike it's cheap, but it was expensive back in the day.) This cruiser from Walmart looks good, but I have to see if they have it in stock and if I can fit it. The price is a little higher than I'd like, but if the bike lock is less than I think it is, then I might be able to afford it. All of the bikes on are a little too expensive for what I want, but I think I'll go look in the store anyways. Maybe they'll have a sale or something. I've tried looking on Craigslist, but since I'm so short I'm not having much luck.

Grilled Curry and Lime Catfish

Yet another great dinner in my tummy. Tonight we had grilled catfish with curry and lime. It was inspired by a recipe that was in How to Cook know that big yellow cookbook that everyone should have. This book really does tell you how to cook everything. If you're a beginning cook this is a good book because it explains everything to you, but for visual people like me it is lacking of glossy pictures. Although I think this book is great, I like to see what I'm going to get. Now that I've been cooking a lot more, I can kind of visualize what I'm going to make will look like, so the heavy yellow textbook is coming in handy now. Anyway, I pretty much followed the rub recipe, but had to add my own spin to it. Edward always remarks/complains that I never follow the directions to recipes. Sometimes things turn out well and sometimes they don't. It's a good thing this one turned out well.

Grilled Curry and Lime Catfish
Servings: 2
Time: 40 min

2 catfish fillets
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 lime
zest of 1 lime

1 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 small head of lettuce, coarsely chopped

4 cups water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 cup polenta or cornmeal
(reserved rub)
1 Tbsp EVOO

Combine cumin, curry powder, salt, pepper, zest, and half a lime's juice in bowl and set aside. Squeeze half a lime's juice over both sides of catfish fillets; rub in. Spread rub over both sides of fish, reserving about a Tbsp for polenta seasoning. Let rub sit on catfish for 15-20 minutes. Grill catfish on foil for 10-15 minutes; until flaky and completely white.

Heat oil in wok until the oil ripples. Add garlic and stir constantly to cook. Do not let it burn. Add lettuce and stir fry until slightly wilted.

Bring water and salt to a boil. Mix reserved seasoning and EVOO. Add polenta to water and stir with a whisk until it begins to thicken. While it is still slightly fluid, whisk in seasoning. Once thickened, take off heat and stir with a wooden spoon. Let stand for 5 minutes.

I should start a blog called "Cooking With Allison", however, during then winter it would be top ramen every day. Heheh

For everyone who read my last post, I don't have any pictures in my weed whacking get up because I was home alone with the Doozer. Maybe next time Ed will be home so that he can take a picture of me...however if Edward is home then he'll probably be the one to weed whack.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Best Ahi Tuna Burgers Ever

I just made the best Ahi Tuna burgers for about $5 a person. I grilled them but didn't quite cook them long enough so we had to microwave them to cook a little longer, but they were still awesome. I stir fried my home grown cauliflower greens with some kosher salt and grated garlic. Julie got me a microplane grater and I love it for grating fresh garlic.

Here is the recipe:

2 Ahi Tuna steaks
2 tbsp kosher salt (for fish and veggies)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp Creole seasoning
5 tbsp EVOO (for fish and veggies)
1 lime (reserving some juice for vegetables)
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 bunch greens--spinach would probably work well
1 clove garlic, grated
3 tbsp thousand island dressing
1 tbsp hot sauce

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and Creole season on both sides of fish. Squeeze lime juice on each side, rubbing in a bit. Drizzle EVOO on fish so that it doesn't stick to your grill. Cook for about 5 min per side. Toast buns and place fish on browned buns. Sprinkle fresh rosemary on fish. Top with greens.

Stir fry green vegetables in 2 tbsp of EVOO. Add reserved lime juice, grated garlic, and kosher salt. Cook until slightly wilted but still bright green.

In separate bowl mix thousand island dressing and hot sauce. (I used the hot sauce that you find in Pho restaurants with the chilies in it.) Spoon sauce on the side for dipping.


Yesterday I "harvested" my cauliflower and brussels sprouts leaves. I was really just thinning, but since Julie said that I could cook up the plants that I was pulling I decided to try it out. They were awesome. I was glad that Julie told me that I could eat them because I was a little sad that I had to throw away good veggy leaves. They never did anything wrong. Now they're in my tummy.

I really want to make another planter, but there isn't a whole lot of room out in our back yard. Edward said that he'd help me clear out the mound of dirt and junk behind our deck directly across from our current planter so that I could make myself a strawberry patch. I managed to clear his way of tree-like things a little with some gigantic pruning sheers that the landlords had left. The trees must have come from seeds that birds or animals dropped. The weird thing is that they are mostly growing from under the deck, which makes it hard to prune all the way down. My arms are still shaking (its about 2 hours since I finished)from trying to cut the dime-sized (diameter) trees. They were coming up to the deck and making it difficult for me to check on my herbs, which irritated me. I was also getting very tired of all of our weeds in our tiny little grass area. I decided to take things into my own hands. After consulting Edward and Julie, I decided on getting a cheap weed whacker to take down those burly weeds instead of Round Up. Some of them were really thick! I dressed up in my golushoes (not sure how to spell it), snowboarding socks, running pants, one of Ed's long sleeved shirts, garden gloves, a garden mask, and my giant sunglasses. It was about 80 degrees today so I was dripping with sweat. I don't know how Edward did all that grounds keeping last summer. I'm just not cut out for this kind of stuff. However, our little lawn area looks great. Here are some before and after pictures:

I barely even noticed the car in the background in the first picture!

I also finished that book The Red Pony and found the ending highly unsatisfactory. The novella was comprised of a series of four short stories that followed the life of a young farm/ranch boy named Jody. The end was so abrupt that I thought my book had lost a page. For a hundred paged book, there was quite a bit of death, which makes me think that farm life is not as peachy as Paris Hilton made it seem. The writing was excellent and everything that I expected from Steinbeck, but I wanted more! To me, this is the mark of a good book...leaving the reader wanting to know more about the character. The narrative was written in a limited omniscient point of view. Meaning there was a God-like view of the characters and surroundings but also a closer view of what Jody was thinking and feeling. It's kind of like when a movie pans out so that the viewer can see everything, but then zooms back in to the main character. I highly recommend this book. I saw it in the Doyle Middle school library, which leads me to believe that this book was a school requirement that my school failed to teach.

Well that's all for now folks. I think that I'll be very sore tomorrow, but I'm mighty proud of my garden work. I've also attached some of Edward's graduation pictures that I got off of my SLR.

Since Edward was graduating and his family is full of a bunch of nerds Julie got Edward a graduated cylinder as a grad present. Sadly, I knew exactly what it was before she pulled it all the way out of the bag to show me. I guess this means I'm sort of a nerd too. The fact that I first drank champagne (and thought I was totally cool) out of a beaker at Julie's old apartment puts me in the nerd-o category. As a graduate, Ed got an RPI paper weight. Now the paper weight is acting as a pedestal for the cylinder.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Welcome Allergy Season...Not!

Now that allergy season is in full bloom, I have headaches almost everyday now. Poor Edward has to hear me say "I have a headache" about every two hours or so. Yesterday I had a headache and cramps, which was a major bummer. I still managed to time a walk with Emmy to work. According to Google Maps the Troy Family YMCA is 1.5 miles from our address. At our slow pace (with Emmy sniffing every pole and tree we passed) we made it to the Y in 27 minutes. I wanted to time to see how fast I could get there today, but my head is hurting so I've decided to stay home instead. I'm trying to see how long it will take me to get to work everyday if I walk there for the summer camp program. If I have to wake up about an hour before I have to it might not be worth it since the program starts at 7AM and I have to get there earlier than that. I might start taking the bus and then walking home...or getting a bike. A bike would be the best idea, but I'm trying to uphold my no spending support group that I have going on with Shanna. So far it's working and I don't want to blow it on a bike that I will resent (I dislike biking). Plus, I really want to get a sewing machine. Anyway, so today Emmy and I are planning to thin our vegetables because Julie said that I should so that they grow bigger. Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts are getting huge so it makes sense. I'm just not sure if I should be ripping them out of the ground of just trimming their leaves. From the site that I'm looking at it looks like I pull them out all the way. I remember my dad going out to remove some of the baby apricots so that the others could get bigger. So I'm going to yank a few of the plants so the others have room to grow. I just hate to throw them away. We've run out of space that is poop free for me to transplant them. It seems like such a waste. Those little guys never did anything wrong!

After I do my plucking I plan on sitting out and reading The Red Pony by John Steinbeck for my project. It's a novella so I'm hoping to get through it by the end of the day. I've been putting it off, but I really need to get cracking on this project. The last few days have pretty much been me sitting around in front of the TV getting fat, so I figured I may as well be productive if I'm going to be a lump on a log.

Edward has office hours until 3PM then we're going to go grocery shopping. I wanted him to come with me because we need to get a propane refill and I don't want to lug the thing around by myself. This week our menu looks like this:

Sunday (today): Linguine with Seafood--This is what I made for our mother's day dinner. It was just so good I want to make it for Edward now.

: Ahi Tuna Steak Burgers--Grilled of course.

Tuesday: Sautead flatfish fillets with curry and lime

Wednesday: Portabella Mushroom burgers--I didn't used to like Portabellas but I want to try them out again since my tastes have been changing a lot. I'm also going to ignore my mushroom allergy. I think it's mostly just the raw mushrooms that get me now.

: Baked Pizza with Tomato Sauce and Mozz--I haven't decided if I want to make my own pizza dough or go buy it from the market. I saw it made on America's Test Kitchen, which is a great cooking show on PBS and it doesn't look that hard. It was on when I got up on Saturday, so I'm feeling quite inspired.

I leave Friday and Saturday's up in the air because we tend to go out with friends or have lots of left overs. Okay, well I'm going to take some Advil and get to my thinning!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Baby Shower prep

As many of you know, I'm helping plan my friend Melanie's baby shower. Since I'm all the way out here, I took pictures of all of the ducky stuff at Michael's to show her. It's easier to make captions with the blog than in an email...I'm not even sure if captions are an option in an email.

Melanie, these are candy trays. The friend that I went with said that if we didn't want to make chocolates, these would also make cute ice cube trays. Wouldn't that be cute!?! I can't remember how much these were exactly, but they weren't that expensive.

These little bags were on sale for $0.60. There were only a few, but I thought that if you could find them in your Michaels too, these would be nice to put the favors in. The bows were also where on sale so I thought I'd take a picture of them too. If you like either of these let me know quick so that I can go back and get them before they are all gone.

I REALLY like these little ducks. They come prepainted and are only $0.59! I thought that these could be little name plates for all of the guests. They can take it home afterwards. The little duckies were cute to, but I didn't really have a specific idea for them. Perhaps we can hot glue them onto the favors? I think these would be fun and easy to incorporate into the party favors and decorations.

Okay I took pictures of these so that you know that baby feet are available. Maybe we can combine the ducky theme and the baby feet theme? ...I was in the scrapbooking section, but tried to breeze through. I did spend a little more than I wanted, but I did a nice quick project that will make a friend of ours very happy for about $5. I'll post those pictures at the end.

I took lots of pictures of stamps so that you can see if you like any. I'd really like to make your invitations for you. I looked and the invitation cards are like $4. We can choose different colors, but I think the white will probably be the cheapest. Once I stamp it, I can color them in myself. They look really nice when they're done. You should see the cards that my aunts make. They look awesome and people appreciate them more because they were hand made.

These stamps were only $1 for each set so I couldn't resist. Unfortunately they don't stamp as cleanly as I'd like, but I'm going to try to glue them onto a wood block and try to stamp them again. My mom suggested that I print something out on the computer and paste it inside the invite also. I think that'd be a good idea because I have bad hand writing and it would just look nice and clean. The invitations would be clean and simple, but very cute and personal. What do you think? Can you tell I'm trying to sell you on letting me make the cards for you? The sweet pea stamp was also only $1, but it was the only real stamp that I got. The others are little rubber things that don't have blocks for easy stamping (that's why I'm going to try again). I'll let you know if they turn out. I also already had a couple of presents stamps...lots of stars too if you want to go in that direction.

Last, this is the little project that I picked up for our friend Lauren. She's starting an internship with Disney in a couple of days. I bought the journal for $1 and then added the Snow White scrapbooking embellishment to the bottom. I just covered up the red rose with Snow, which turned out really well in my opinion. Then I put princess stickers on every page. Those were just the sticker sheets that have like 25 stickers a sheet for little kids. So for about $5 I was able to give her a personalized gift that wasn't at normal Disney prices! I am very proud of myself.

Melanie, let me know what you think of all of this stuff minus the journal. I'm definitely pushing for homemade invitations and those little ducky name plates. I haven't thought of any prizes for games yet, but we could make some out of those tiny ducks if we don't put them on the favors. We can put them on little notebooks or something. I haven't gone to Joann's yet, but it's right out by BJ's Wholesale where I have to get gas and propane for our grill. Maybe I'll be able to go out there this weekend some time.