Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Milanese Risotto with Scallops and Asparagus

I stole this concept from Ntina and reproduced it at home. This was my first time making risotto and I don't think I cooked it long enough because it wass still a little crunchy but the flavor was great. I just seared scallops and blanced some asparagus so I won't include those recipes here.
2 good pinches of saffron threads
6 TBSP butter
1 large onion - chopped finely
2 garlic cloves - minced
3 c. risotto rice
2/3 c. dry white wine
5 c. boiling vegetable bouillon
3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1. Put the saffron into a small bowl, cover with 3-4 TBSP of boiling water and let soak while you prepare the risotto.
2. Melt 4 TBSP of the butter in a pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft but not colored. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the grains are coated in butter and starting to color.
3. Add the wine to the rice and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until it is all absorbed.
4. Add the boiling bouillon a little at a time, about 5/8 cup, cooking until the liquid is fully absorbed before adding more, and stirring frequently.
5. When all the bouillon has been absorbed (this should take about 20 minutes), the rice should be tender but not soft and soggy. Add the saffron liquid, parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes until piping hot and thoroughly mixed.
6. Cover the pan tightly and let stand for 5 minutes off the heat. Give a good stir and serve.

Ziggy and Salem - New BFFs

To my disbelief, Salem is the cat that is doing the best with Ziggy. He will let Ziggy chew on his tail while he eats and has decided it's worth dealing with the dog in order to be by his people. Last night I even caught them playing!

I just had to include this one because I am in love with his little face!

Ben's Room - Before and After

The next room we are looking at is Ben's room. We went back and forth on a "theme" for the room and finally Ben decided on a Lego theme. Turns out that is not an easy theme to create seeing as Lego doesn't produce bedding or decorations.


This is a picture of his room when we were first looking at the house. As you can tell, they "staged" the room.

The nice thing about his room is the built in desk. We pulled out some of the closet organizer but left a lot of it in there. Ben definitely has the biggest closet in the house.


His room took 3 solid days to paint because of all the colors but I love the way it turned out.

This picture turned out a little dark but it shows his little table with the "Lego Soft". I found these giant legos on ebay and had planned on attaching them to wall somehow but Ben decided he would rather have them to use so they stay on his table.

Ben decided he wanted bunk beds so off to Ikea we went. The dresser on the left, the bunk beds and the bedding are all from Ikea. Fang has decided that Ben's room is where she is going to hide from Ziggy.

Bandit and Ben posing on the top bunk.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl

We had both sets of parents over for dinner last night and I made 3 different recipes from the new Food & Family magazine. This is the dessert I made and I got tons of compliments. It is super easy and tastes incredibly light and fresh.

3 c. fresh strawberries - sliced
3 TBSP sugar
2 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese - softened
1.5 c. cold milk
1 pkg (3.4oz) vanilla instant pudding
2 c. thawed cool whip
2 c. frozen pound cake cubes - I could only find chocolate chip pound cake and I think it tasted better that way
1 square semi-sweet baking chocolate

1. Combine berries and sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk.

2. Add pudding mix and mix well.

3. Blend in 1.5 c. of cool whip. Spoon half into serving bowl.

4. Top with cake, berries and remaining cream cheese mix. Refrigerate 4 hours.

5. Melt chocolate, drizzle over dessert. Top with remaining cool whip. (I just realized as I type this that I totally forgot that part)

Summer Vegetable Stew Gratin

So now that I have new appliances, I have started cooking again. I was definitely getting sick of eating out during the transition of the move and am excited to be able to post some recipes again. This one comes from Weight Watchers and is another one of those "you won't believe the portion size" recipes. I put it in a 8x8 baking dish and you get 1/4 of it for your serving. The bread crumbs make you feel like you are chowing down on carbs without having to pay for it on the scale. Give it a try!

1 med onion - thinly sliced
2 med zucchini - thinly sliced
2 med garlic cloves - minced
14oz canned stewed tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried and crumbled rosemary
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c. dried bread crumbs
3 TBSP. grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and place over med heat. Add onion, zucchini, and garlic. Saute until softened, about 6 min. If pan becomes too dry, add 1-2 TBSP of water.

3. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, rosemary and cayenne. Increase heat to high and boil until almost all liquid has evaporated.

4. Put veggies into a shallow, 1 qt. baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese.

5. Bake until bubbling and nicely browned on top, about 10 min.

Serving size: 1/4 of dish - 2 points

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Meet Ziggy...Newest Member

So we got a new puppy today! I friggin love him!!!! We decided we want to add a dog to the pride of cats we already have just to shake things up a bit. I started looking online last week and found him and fell in love. We went and got him this morning from PetSmart and now he's home! His adopted name was Ziggy and we are thinking about keeping it unless someone else has a better suggestion. Feel free to leave ideas in the comments section. He is 8 weeks old and a husky mix.

Bandit decided to check him out while he was napping. She runs away when he's awake but thinks he's the greatest thing ever when he's sleeping.

Welcome Inside....

I forgot to include this picture in my previous post. Nick and I had the most amazing sellers ever! They left us a gift basket at the house full of goodies. They also left this picture frame and inside it is a picture that says...

"Bread so you're never hungry, wine so you won't be thirsty and salt so your life always has flavor." With it was a jar of salt, a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread from Whole Foods. THEN to top it all off, they left us a giant binder full of how to's for the house. This binder includes information on local parks, names of numbers of the neighbors, manuals of all the appliances, and the best part...where to stand in the house to see the most rainbows (I am not kidding here).

Anyway, onto the house. The kitchen was a little 1992 with the laminate cabinets so we knew that would be the first to go. Thus far, Nick has replaced the floor and built us a wall. We have all new appliances installed as well. By the way, appliances are a pain! There are about a majillion different choices and price points and unless you know exactly what you want it can be a bit overwhelming. We got the fridge from the Sears Outlet in Livonia which is now my new favorite appliance store because the prices were awesome!


On the right side you can see part of a chili poster. That is a cabinet that opens into the foyer. Nick and I decided it was a waste of space and tore it out. Nick and Caleb built a wall there and the stove will be over there instead.

The island you are looking at goes into the middle of the dining space so that got torn out as well. We will be replacing it with a smaller version.

This wall cabinet thing is actually pretty cool but it gives you an idea of how long ago these cabinets were built. It is going to look the same but with updated cabinets and appliances.


First thing to go was that island. Under it we found dog food and crazy amounts of dust. This picture also gives you a better view of the cabinet which was the second thing to go.

The island picture from another angle which shows you the dining room side of the kitchen. On the right hand side is where Caleb ripped out the baseboards. There was baseboard heating in the house long ago. When the previous owners upgraded the heating system, they left the baseboards in. We ripped them out of every room and created a Craigslist ad for "free scrap metal". Within 10 hours of the listing, I had 22 emails and the metal was gone within 12 hours. Craigslist is a beautiful thing....that and people will take anything!

Nick started on the floor next. It was just a plain white linoleum floor. We decided we wanted to work with the brick wall and went with a reddish brown floor. These were peel and stick tiles. He did a fantastic job!!

Here is a view of the room with the cabinet torn out. It really opened up the kitchen.

Behind Ben is the new wall Nick built. At the bottom of the wall you can see the gas line he and his dad installed. Thank you so much!!! I am so tired of cooking on electric stoves!


The brand new oven and microwave!! That is actually our second microwave. Nick blew up the first one by plugging it into a 220 circuit breaker....oops!

New fridge! We searched high and low for a french door fridge with a freezer on the bottom that wasn't a zillion dollars.....good ol' Sears Outlet!

New dishwasher. We couldn't understand why it was so quiet since we didn't splurge for the fancy dishwasher. Then we realized after a load of still dirty dishes that we forgot to reattach the water to the dishwasher. It's a little louder now but still pretty quiet! Pictured above the dishwasher is a Pear Vodka and Apple Juice Martini. Thanks Jo and F for the "recipe"! Nick and I might be stealing that for a signature drink!

We are waiting on the new cabinets and then we will be replacing the counter top. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New House

So I've been a bad blogger but here's why....Nick and I bought a new house! Picture above is our first picture in the backyard.

We looked at this house when we first started our search and liked it but wanted to see what else was available. Well after 3 months of searching and having a bank that wasn't cooperative with a foreclosure, another home rented out before we could see it and a third home bought out from under us buy some fancy investor guy we decided to look at it again. As luck would have it, there was another offer on the table. We decided to go for it and put our best offer in....AND WON!

It is a 1400 square foot ranch with a partially finished basement. There is a 2 car garage that is not attached. Stay tuned because inside pictures are coming next!!