Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Big Game 2014

This year Nick and I decided to not to buy tickets to the Big Game because Cal hasn't done so well in the past years. I guess I should say, I asked my parents not to buy us tickets this year.  We did, however, go to the tailgate because lately, that's been the best part of Cal games.  As usual, it was the best part of the game.

I made a toothpick caprese with yellow tomatoes on a friend's recommendation.  Genius. 

I also made "golden" yukon potatoes and put them in a blue bowl.  As much as we chant blue and gold, they will do what they want. 

This has pretty much pre-Thanksgiving for me since I was a kid. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dimensional Stars

 As most of you know, I love to shop, but I hate spending a lot on one item.  I was at Joann’s the other day and saw some “dimensional” adhesive stars in the holiday section at Joann’s.  They were originally priced at $15.00 and were on sale for $11.00 for eight stars.  Bogus!  It was just a cardboard star with a piece of clear plastic folded in half and glued in the middle.  I could even see the glue through the clear plastic.  I quickly headed to the back of the store where I knew they had wooden shapes.  I bought 12 wooden stars of similar size for $0.29 each.  I went over to the scrapbook paper section and picked out some paper.  I could have been really frugal about it and used regular scrapbook paper, but I love sparkle so I splurged on glitter paper for $1.50 per sheet. I got two sheets of glitter paper and a sheet of holiday paper.  For $7.08 plus tax, I made 12 custom made stars to suit the theme of our house.  You could even be more frugal and make brown paper bag stars or use old Christmas wrapping paper.  

These are the stars that caught my attention.  The designs are on the clear plastic.

These wooden stars were $0.29.
Using 3M Spray Adhesive, I sprayed my entire piece of Christmas scrapbook paper and stuck the stars on.
While the stars were drying in the glue, I traced the star on the back of the glitter paper and cut them out. I had left out one star for a separate gift I was doing at the same time.  If you aren't reserving any stars, make sure to trace your stars before you glue them to your scrap paper.

Using an Exacto knife, I cut the paper away from the sides of the stars.  The stars would have looked nice like this if I attached them to a string to make a garland decoration.  Maybe that will be a future project.

I gently folded the glitter stars in half, careful not to crease the paper. Using a quick drying glue, I simply glued the center of the glitter star to the wood star.

I plan to put these over our fireplace this holiday season.

Since the glitter paper was $1.50 per page, I cut up the excess scraps and folded/curled them to put them into glass ornaments.  This yielded me three coordinating ornaments for our tree.

Mussel Shell Christmas Tree Decorations

My Mom loves Christmas decorations and holiday craft fairs.  It’s been increasingly more difficult for us to find birthday gifts for her.  Since I’ve been Pinteresting and crafting a lot, I found some inspiration and made her Christmas decorations from mussel shells that we saved from our Spanish inspired dinner.  It was actually quite easy.  The hardest part was finding time to go through the process of putting everything together. It’s a good thing I started early. 

I first let the shells air dry for a couple of weeks on a sheet pan in the garage.  I could have left them for a couple days and they would have been ready, but I didn’t have time to do anything with them for a few weeks.  After they were fully dried out, I was able to pull the feet off the shell with no problem.  I then boiled the shells and scrubbed them down.  I boiled them a second time with a good scrubbing for good measure and put them back out to dry.  A few weeks later, I lay them on a tarp and sprayed them with a clear spray paint.  I saw on Pinterest (I’m hooked) that you can spray shells and they will remain wet looking so that their opally insides are shinny all the time.  A week later, I finally got to assembling the mussel shell Christmas trees.  This could have all been done in a week or two (with drying time), but it took me almost two months because I didn’t have time to sit down to do anything.  I still need to make my mom a third tree, but need to find time to put it together. 

I've had this little mechanism for a while but always forget to use it. I will never forget again.  You just clip this onto your spray paint and it sprays a nice, even coat. It's amazing.  I highly recommend this for anyone who spray paints frequently.  It was only around $8.00 at Home Depot.

Note from the Author

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t been blogging as frequently.  I’ve decided to pare back and only post what I find to be interesting.  Let’s face it, jook really isn’t that interesting to read or write about.  So, I will only be posting about dinners that are a little more out of the ordinary, new recipes, baking, crafting, vacationing and things of that nature. I think it’ll be much more manageable to keep up with if I don’t have to blog daily. (I’ve been failing at that anyway.) 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Tonight's Dinner: October 29, 2014

I've never had Chicken Adobo, but I wanted to try a recipe that I found on All recipes for Adobo Chicken with Ginger. It was tasty, but my advice to you would be to make extra rice.  Nick said that adobo is supposed to be a salty dish.  It sure was!  I kept adding water to the pot because it was so salty when I tasted the broth.  I'm not sure if I would make this again unless Nick asked for it.  Too salty for my palette.

Adobo chicken over rice with garlic snow pea greens. 

Tonight's Dinner: October 28, 2014

Tonight a friend was stopping by to have dinner with us.  I picked up a couple of pork tenderloins from Ranch 99 because I was really in the mood for some pork.  I made an Asian marinade and let them hang out for about 30 minutes in the fridge while I got the rest of the dinner put together.  Being a single gentleman, we tend to have this friend over quite often and he's not very picky.  I think he thinks that he is pickier than he actually is.  He says that he doesn't eat vegetables, but whenever I make them he tries them out of courtesy and will get seconds.  Maybe it's because I don't give him enough carbs for him to substitute out for the veggies and he doesn't want to go home hungry.  Whatever works.  Veggies are good for you. A lot of the problem is that he's allergic to a lot of vegetables, but he hasn't complained about any reactions and continues to come over for dinner when invited.  I'm pretty good about keeping things separate too so that if he really is allergic to something like I am mushrooms, he doesn't have to eat them.

Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  

Oyster sauce gai lan.

Soy sauce stir fried zucchini. 


2 pork tenderloins1/2 soy sauce1/2 chicken stock2 tbsp garlic powder2 tbsp onion powder1 tsp mustard powder1 tsp ginger powder1 tsp red pepper flakes1 tsp white pepper1 bunch green onion, chopped 

Directions:Marinate meat for a least an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roast for 40 min or until the meat feels like a closed fist. Don't over cook.

Tonight's Dinner: October 27, 2014

My Mom told me about making a pancake-cake in a rice cooker.  She had seen it on a cooking talk show that she likes to watch called The Chew.  I'd been wanting to try it for a couple of weeks and finally had all of the ingredients on hand to try it out.  I also added some raspberry jam to the batter to add flavor.  It was edible, but I wouldn't do it again.  It was very heavy and nothing like a pancake.  It was more like a sweet, dense loaf of bread than a pancake.  It's definitely interesting and fun to make, but I'll stick with regular pancakes.

Nick likes sweet and savory together so he split his portion of the pancake-cake in half and put his eggs and avocado on top.  I like to keep mine separate, but we always take a picture of his plate because we take care to make his pretty. 

Tonight's Dinner: October 26, 2014

Nick's flight was delayed the night before so he was pretty tired all day on Sunday.  After going to a cousin's birthday party in the City I decided that I wanted some spaghetti.  I've been all about spaghetti lately.  Now, I've made plenty of pasta sauces in the past, but I've never been able to make an Italian tasting sauce because I throw so many different things in the pot.  I know that Italian sauces are very simple, but for me pasta sauces are kind of a catch for things that I need to use up.  Tonight I wanted to make a traditional pasta sauce.  I was trying at least.  It turned out really well.  I'm  no Italian, but it was the best traditional marinara sauce I've made so far. The extra virgin olive oil is really important to achieve that great rich flavor, which is something I've never used in the past. It is definitely a must-have ingredient. 

Marinara Sauce 
3 whole tomatoes, blended
6 cloves garlic; blended w/ tomatoes
1 small onion, minced
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried marjoram
4 bay leaves
4 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 c EVOO
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp red chili flakes
1 tsp sugar 
In a sauce pot, combine all ingredients.   Bring to a boil and then let simmer for at least an hour.  
Note: I pulsed my blender so that the tomatoes would still be chunky, but you can make it smooth if you like. 

Tonight's Dinner: October 21, 2014

Tonight was Nick's last night home for a while.  He was getting ready to go on a week-long business trip to Indiana.  To send him off well fed (I never know how well he eats when he travels) I made a family-sized Shepherd's Pie for the two of us.  I started with browning a pack of ground beef and adding onions and garlic to soften.  Once the onions were cooked, I added fresh corn cut straight from the cob and frozen peas. In a separate pot I had potatoes boiling for mashed potatoes and a head of garlic roasting in the oven.  I also made a packet of all natural beef gravy from Sprouts.  After assembling the garlic mashed potatoes, I put the pie together, topped with some yogurt curd cheese (lactose free) and put it in the oven until it was boiling.  I've been buying the yogurt curd cheese at Sprouts in their deli section.  It melts really well, tastes good, and doesn't make our stomachs rumble. I love a hearty shepherds pie.

I had bought four mushrooms for Nick to sauté for himself once the pie was in the oven. He just added them on his serving after. 
Shepherd's Pie 
For meat:
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 packet packaged beef gravy
salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese (optional) 
For mashed potatoes:
2 Idaho potatoes, boiled
1 head garlic; roasted 2 tbsp butter
1 c whole milk or cream
4 tbsp kosher salt (or to taste)
3 tbsp cracked black pepper (or to taste) 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   
Set potatoes to boil.   
In separate pot, brown ground beef.  Once browned, add onion and garlic; let soften. Add corn, peas and gravy.  Mix until meat is throughly coated with gravy.   Salt and pepper to taste.  
For mashed potatoes, once potatoes are boiled, add roasted garlic, butter, milk, salt, and pepper while the potatoes are still hot.  Mash until they are the desired consistence.  Add more liquid if needed.

In a oven safe dish, flatten the meat mixture on the bottom.  Layer potatoes on top to fully cover the meat.  Add cheese if desired.  Bake on a foil covered cookie sheet for about 20-30 minutes or until meat is boiling.  (It will bubble.)  Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Tonight's Dinner: October 23, 2014

Nick was on a week-long business trip, which means that I didn't eat very well.  I hate making a mess just for myself.  I literally spent the whole evening on the sofa and turned on the fireplace for the first time.  It was finally a cool 73 degrees and I really wanted to try it out.  It puts of a great amount of heat, but since it's a newer electric fireplace there isn't that nostalgic fireplace scent or wood cracking sound.  It is still nice to look at and was one of my big wishlist items when we were house hunting.  After wanting Taco Bell for a couple of weeks, I made myself a quesadilla and a grilled cheese sandwich because I didn't want to leave the house.  If Nick and I weren't married, I'd either be extremely skinny or extremely fat. I managed to look through two magazines and Pinterested to my heart's content.