Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Monday, May 31, 2010


On this day we remember those who gave their lives fighting for our freedom. Take a moment today to honor their sacrifices. We owe our lives to these fallen heroes.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - A Snack

Ahhhh.... Sunday afternoon snacking... These scrub jays are dressed in their patriotic best too!

Ni Hao Y'all

Zentmrs Pin It

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Being a Step Mom

We took The Boy to see Star Wars In Concert last night. Great show. A symphony played John William's scores to the Star Wars movies, while Anthony Daniels (the actual C3PO actor) narrated the story and introduced clips from the show.

Split families get to split things with the kids.

We got Lego Star Wars, but not really any of the other Legos.

We don't get any new movies that come out (except Star Wars... which are all out...)

We don't get Sea World, but we get Disneyland.

We tend to get "technology" things, but we don't get facebook.

One of the things we got was Star Wars. Which is good for us - we like Star Wars.

I'm hoping as The Kids get older that we "get" more of these kinds of things.

Of course, there are always grandkids. ;-)

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Homemade Chicken Broth

I love soup. Summer or winter. Hot, cold, savory, sweet. I just love soup.

I got this cookbook for Christmas about 8 years ago.

From my dad. Which is kind of funny, because I gave him the exact same book that Christmas!

I've made a bunch of different soups from that book. A few of my favorites are the Chestnut Puree (great for Thanksgiving), Creamed Chile Soup, Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Onion Soup, Chicken Broth with Cheese and Bread Crumb Dumplings and Chicken Soup with Apples and Leeks (possibly my favorite soup ever).

I also found that I end up needing a lot of soup stock, or broth.

It makes more sense to prepare a pot of broth on a rainy Sunday and keep it around for throwing together last-minute soups than it does to wait around for a broth to cook every time you want to make a simple soup.

And having chicken broth around all the time is great for everything from stir-frys and sauteeing to making pasta and rice.

I use chicken broth instead of oil or butter when stir-frying veggies or chicken and when sauteeing just about anything. And I like to use chicken broth instead of water when making rice or couscous.

Broth is easy to freeze, but not everyone (and I am one of them) has freezer space for more than a litte extra broth. If you don't have room, you can refrigerate the broth for 5 days without its spoiling. To keep it long, just bring it to a simmer on top of the stove for 10 minutes, let it cool and regrigerate for up to another 5 days. You can repeat this trick indefinitely.

Better yet, use the broth in place of water to make your next batch of broth!

Here's how I do it:

Take all of these ingredients...

Bones, skin and leftover meat from 2 - 3 roast chickens (I freeze the carcasses
of store-bought roast chickens until I have 3)

Vegetables to add richness to the flavor of the broth - you can use whatever you have around....
some ideas
- an onion
- bell peppers
- celery
- carrots
- the ends of broccoli, asparagus, peas or whatever veggie you have had that week
- leftover half of a lemon

herbs - a few tablespoons of your favorite dried herb or a 1/4 cup or so of your favorite fresh herb (I think dried works better in broth personally)

Put all of these into a very large pot. Cover it with water (or use the chicken broth already in your refrigerator) and add an additional 2 -3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour.

Let the broth cool a bit, then strain it. Return the broth to the pot and discard the bones and other remaining ingredients. Add enough water to double the amount of broth and simmer until the amount is halved (or broth is concentrated enough for your taste).

Let the broth cool. (I put mine in a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator). After it is fully cooled, refrigerate. The next day you will be able to spoon any fat in the broth off of the top and you will have fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth! (Note: after refrigeration, mine is often kind of solid, like a jell-o. I just use a spoon and it "liquifies" once it gets in contact with some heat.)

Now you've got chicken broth whenever you need it! This process works with your leftover turkey carcass and with beef or other meat bones as well.

For more great recipes, check out The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap! And if you have a recipe to share, please join in the fun!

Zentmrs Pin It

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Award!

This week I was very excited to receive a Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks so much to a new follower, Ott, A of "A Latte' with Ott, A"! She's got a wonderful blog, and a great writing style. And you'll be so jealous of her garden! Stop by and say hello!

So here are the rules of the award:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass the award on to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and think are fantastic.
  • Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

And here are the 7 things about me:

1.) I played at Wimbledon. (OK, the dorm I lived in when I was living in London my junior year of college was actually on the grounds of Wimbledon and I played on the Wimbledon court. Very badly, I might add. Playing on grass is quite difficult when you are not used to it. That's my story anyway.)
2.) I once transported a human skull in my car. (I worked for a medical implant company and we needed cadaver parts for testing our product and for training. I would go to the cadaver lab at UCSD Med School and pick up cadaver parts and bring them to the office.)
3.) I have had 6 cats at one time. (And yes, I realize that makes me the crazy cat lady. Which is odd because I always considered myself a dog person.)
4.) The Mr and I get to carpool to work together and eat lunch together every day. (I think that is pretty cool.)
5.) I'm a lawyer, an engineer and an English major. (And I don't do any of those jobs.)
6.) The Children (my step-kids) actually have the same first names as my parents.
7.) I drink Tab. (And have since I was 13. Probably unlikely to switch.)

Wow. It was harder to come up with 7 things about myself than I thought. I'm going to think about who to pass this award on to. I was just excited to post about my award! Thanks Ott, A!!

Zentmrs Pin It

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday Garden Party

I mentioned on Friday that we are growing Anaheim chiles.

These large, mild chiles are perfect for chiles rellenos.

Mexican cooks (that is, those who cook Mexican food rather than cooks who hail from Mexico....) also like to dice or purée them, and then add them to sauces, soups, and casseroles.

They have a tough skin, but it peels off easily if you first char the chiles over a flame and then steam them in a paper bag for several minutes (remember Friday's recipe?).

Anaheims are available year-round, but they're best in the summer.

When mature and red, an Anaheim is called a chile colorado or California red chile.

And this is what they look like in my garden!

This plant has a ton of them already!

I am not sure you saw how many are already growing.... I'll point them out!

And this one is already nearly 5 inches long!

And another (unrelated but amazing) thing you are missing is the scent of these wonderful jasmine flowers as I take these pics. Smells like vacation!
I can't wait until our Anaheims are ready to pick! We're also growing jalapeños, habeneros, serranos, cayenne and poblanos. Should be a flavorful and spicy summer!

I'll show you how the strawberries are faring next week. But in the meantime, check out An Oregon Cottage for her weekly Garden Party.

What's in YOUR garden this week?

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Busy busy busy!

We had an incredibly busy weekend. But I think we got a lot accomplished. Let's see if I can remember how it went...

Friday night:
  • got home from work, started to make dinner
  • got The Children after their various activities
  • made the dough for Saturday night's pizza
  • ate dinner
  • did laundry


  • slept in until almost 10:30! OK, I actually woke at about 6:30 when The Boy got up, but at least I didn't actually get up until around 10:30
  • ran some errands - Home Depot, Michaels, Frys
  • ate lunch - Chipotle
  • spent two hours in the drainage ditch behind our house pulling weeds
  • refused to argue with The Boy when he decided that weeding was too difficult of a job for a 9 year old - it is a job for at least a 12 year old, which, coincidentally, is how old The Girl is. The Boy lost TV for the rest of the day. The Girl was thrilled that The Boy was in trouble. Ahhh... family harmony.
  • Showered and took The Girl to her youth group outing
  • rewired the webcams and sound bridge on the patio
  • made "Chicken Parmesaan Pizza" for The Mr, The Boy and myself. Yum!
  • worked (unsuccessfully so far) on getting my laptop to work at the speed that our new router enables.
  • picked up The Girl from her youth group activity
  • did laundry
  • washed dishes


  • got up, ready and got The Children to their church by 9:20
  • met The In-Laws for brunch
  • stopped at Home Depot for more irrigation supplies and a screen repair supplies to fix the door that The Girl broke
  • encouraged The Girl to complete her sceince project, due first thing in the morning
  • fixed the screen door
  • cleaned the fish tank
  • replaced all the front yard sprinklers
  • did more laundry
  • baked Tuscany Tomato Basil Bread for dinner
  • went grocery shopping
  • packaged the bulk meat we bought
  • started the rosemary roast pork
  • cleaned up the house for dinner with The In-Laws
  • encouraged The Boy to do his reading homework
  • ate dinner
  • cleaned up after dinner
  • continued to "encourage" The Girl to complete her project (despite the fact that she would rather look at American Idol websites)
  • folded more laundry
  • finished the science project and managed to get everyone off to bed so we could start all over again with a new week

Busy but productive. Maybe there's some relaxing in the weekend ahead? We'll see when we get there!

Zentmrs Pin It

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Snapshot - A Bird's Life

Isn't this the life? I wish all I had to do today was to sit on the top of a roof!

Ni Hao Y'all

Zentmrs Pin It

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On Being a Stepmom

We have an unusual custody arrangement. We get The Children every other weekend, and every weekday evening from 5:30 - 8:30.

And of course vacations and random other times like others do.

This is one of those "random other times". The Children's Mom and Stepdad are out of town for two weeks, and The Children will be with us.

Having them with us, for regular every day weekdays (as opposed to vacations I mean) has definite pros and cons.

Pro - don't have to drive them home at night!

Con - have to get up earlier to get them to their various places and still get to work at a reasonable time.

OK - so I realize that "regular" parents have to do this all of the time, but they get to have some say in the schedule and the locations of places the kids go. Because we don't do the daytime stuff, The Children's mom chooses places that are convenient to her - as we would were the siutation reversed. It's just not necessarily convenient for The Mr and I. Fortunately we live reasonably close so it isn't that bad. Still, an hour in the morning is a long time.

Pro - we can make sure The Children get to bed at what we feel is a reasonable time

Con - we get to deal with them in the morning, and they are not compatible in the morning.

Well, technically, they are not compatible any time, but morning is particularly bad. The Boy is chatty in the morning. All the time really. Actually, he has no idea how to be quiet. Ever. The Girl, who doesn't like to listen to him at the best of times (the understatement of the century) is especially not interested in the morning. The Girl is not a morning person. I can't tell you how hard it is to listen to them go at each other first thing in the morning. Well I could, but you wouldn't believe me.

Pro - we get to have lots of family dinners

Con - I get to have this conversation a lot: "I'm full Susan" "That's fine. You shouldn't finish dinner if you are full. But if you are full, you won't need dessert or a treat." "What?" "No dinner, no dessert." "Fine. I'll eat my dinner."

I will also get to hear "What IS this?!" a lot. My standard answer - poison. And no, so far it has never been poison. I think the sarcasm is lost on The Children.

It's good for The Children and good for our family to be able to spend this time together.

And those "cons"? We'll all get through it.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Roasted Green Chiles

We're growing Anaheim Chiles in our garden this year (check back on Tuesday to see how we're doing!) and I've been thinking about ways to use them. This is one thing I will be doing with some of the first ones. I love the flavor of roasted green chiles in so many foods!

You can roast chiles under medium heat on the broiler, on a very hot grill, over open fire or on the stove top. Here's the process:

  1. Clean chiles and dry thoroughly.
  2. Get the heat source ready. Pre-heat broiler or grill, get fire ready or place the metal steamer over the open flame of a stove top
  3. Place cleaned chiles under or over the heat and turn every minute or so until the skin is blackened. The entire chile will not be completely black, but it should be charred about 60%. It should take 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the charred chiles from the heat source. Tongs are helpful for this.
  5. Carefully place the chiles into a plastic baggie and seal it. This will steam the chiles to continue the cooking and make the skins easier to remove. Let the chiles sweat for 10-15 minutes. Use additional baggies if roasting a large number of chiles.
  6. Remove the chiles from the bag one at a time. As you remove them, rub the chiles to remove the skins. Use a knife to remove any skin that sticks.
  7. When the chiles are all peeled, you can use them immediately for best flavor, or freeze them for later use.

  • If a baggie is not available, place the chiles in a plastic storage container with a lid. Or on a plate covered with plastic wrap or a towel.
  • Be careful of the heat. Always use tongs, pot holders or whatever you need to protect yourself.
  • Remember that the chile does not need to be completely black. As long as the chile is at least 60% charred, it should be fine.
  • Another way to remove the skins is to hold the chile under running water. The water can remove some of the flavorful oils in the chile so try to remove the skins with just your fingers.

I can't wait until we harvest our first chiles! For more great recipes, check out The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap! And if you have a recipe to share, please join in the fun!

Zentmrs Pin It

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Coolest Thing In Our Backyard

... is our new webcam!

We've had our honeybird cam for a while...

... but that one only watched our honeybird feeder.

With the new one, I can move it around and see the whole yard!

You can access it here if you want to see it live -, user name is "guest", no password.

I LOVE it!

Zentmrs Pin It

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday Garden Party

We bought a bird bath when we first moved into our house. We filled it, but it would be empty by the time we got home from work the next day.

Makes sense. We live in a desert climate basically. Hot and dry. We tried for a while to keep the bird bath full, but eventually, we just gave up.

And so it sat. Lonely and empty in the backyard.

Until this winter.

This winter, The Mr built me a beautiful fountain in our bird bath, made from wine bottles and a wine rack. LOVE it! And the birds? Love it too!

And then? Just this month, we put an arbor over it. We're growing jasmine up the sides. Jasmine is one of my favorite plants - the scent is just beautiful. And you can also see our topsy-turvy planters hanging from it.

A closer look at the fountain. It's hooked into our irrigation system so that when the water level gets low, it automatically fills up!

I love listening to the sound of the fountain at night as we go to sleep. And hearing the birds in the morning as they splash in it. Everyone should have a water feature in their yard!

We'll take a closer look at the planters next week. But in the meantime, check out An Oregon Cottage for her weekly Garden Party.

What's in YOUR garden this week?

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Monday, May 17, 2010

An Afternoon at the Winery

We are members of Orfila, a local winery.

Pretty cool deal actually. We buy 3 bottles of wine every quarter (at member prices) and get free wine tasting for 4 whenever we go to either of their wineries. Plus discounted wines and gifts.

We were picking up our wine for the quarter and decided to spend some time at the winery, do some wine tasting and just wander the grounds for a while. Enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

You taste six wines when wine tasting here. Our first was their reserve chardonnay. I liked this one a lot. And, as it happens, this was one of the bottles that was part of our quarterly shipment!

Their moscato is really nice for those who enjoy a sweeter wine. Lots of floral and fruit flavors.

We also tried their rose and a sangiovese. Both were wonderful. I think the sangiovese might be my new favorite.

The Mr really enjoys the merlot. It's got a really rich flavor, but is a little much for me for an afternoon drink. With a meal I think I would like it a lot more.

The Mr's favorite - tawny port. They say "The port is smooth and rich in flavors of caramel, raisins, licorice, with a pinch of Orange zest." I'm not a fan of port, but I hear from oenophiles who are also port connoisseurs, that this is a fantastic port. Doesn't it have a pretty color?

After our tasting, we walked into the vineyard.

Saw new grapes and old vines.

And enjoyed the afternoon in general.

We're lucky to have a winery so close to where we live. If you are ever in the San Diego area, Orfila Winery is a great place to visit!

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Sunday, May 16, 2010


Is a time for relaxing!

Ni Hao Y'all

Zentmrs Pin It

Saturday, May 15, 2010

On Being a Step Mom - Privacy

The Girl and The Boy are on the internet. The Girl is on A LOT.

We don't filter what they get to see and where they get to go.

However, both The Mr and I are well-versed in technology. We both have worked in IT. I was the webmaster for our (Fortune 50) company.

So, I know how to figure out where they go. And what they do when they get there. And the things they have written on their message boards.

And I consider it my responsibility to know.

We've told both Children that we have the ability to know what they do on the internet and to behave accordingly. We've even demonstrated that we know things that they have done.

I'm certain that The Girl (12 years old and beginning to exhibit all the signs of teen angst) considers this an invasion of her privacy.

My thinking is, it's not private if it's on the internet.

Besides which, we need to make sure they make good decisions and grow up to be well-adjusted, productive members of society. Or at least able to take care of themselves once they leave home.

That's our job.

Zentmrs Pin It

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lemonade Iced Tea

We planted mint in our garden this year. Apparently, mint grows like a weed. And we've got mint growing out of our ears. (there are probably some other cliches I could use, but I'll stop here.)

I found this delicious recipe to get a start on using our mint... what a wonderful drink to serve while spending a relaxing afternoon in the sun!

3 cups water
4 tea bags
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups cold water
1 (6-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
Garnish: fresh citrus slices

1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and stir in fresh mint. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

2. Remove and discard tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar until dissolved.

3. Pour tea into a 3-qt. container, and stir in 4 cups cold water and lemonade concentrate. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.

Yum! For more great recipes, check out The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap! And if you have a recipe to share, please join in the fun!

Zentmrs Pin It

Thursday, May 13, 2010


You may remember that The Mr celebrated his birthday in Las Vegas. One of the things he has always wanted to do was go on the ride at the top of the Stratosphere.

So of course, because it was his birthday, we did. We went to the top...
... and the ground is very very far down. (Did I mention I am incredibly afraid of heights?)

The whole family made it to the top...

... but only my dad, sister, The Mr and I actually did the crazy ride (sis is taking the picture). You might note that my eyes are closed. That's not an issue with the photographer. The issue here is that we are over 1,000 feet in the air and on the OUTSIDE of a building. Logically speaking, that's not safe.
The ride shoots you up in the air and you bounce up and down a couple of times before coming to a stop. It actually was pretty fun - and I did open my eyes during the ride. We have a picture of it even!

Just the other day my sister sends me a link. To the Stratosphere's new ride. Called SkyJump. Here's what they say about it:

For your inner adrenaline junkie wanting the ultimate Las Vegas sky dive or base jump, SkyJump is the attraction that provides the highest controlled free fall in the world, all from the Stratosphere Tower Las Vegas. Before the jump, riders are prepped and suited up in Stratosphere’s custom jump suits and given a safety lesson. After a short elevator trip to the top of the Stratosphere Tower, the jumper is connected to a high-speed “descender” and led to the edge of the platform. Just take that last step and plummet through the sky 855 feet, equivalent to 108 floors.
Right there in the description. Free fall. From the top of the Stratosphere. What part of that isn't insane? Of course that's me talking. As I've mentioned, I'm not one for heights. And jumping off a building doesn't sound like a very smart idea to me.

But I digress. My question is, would you do it?

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wild Animals...

We recently took a trip to the Wild Animal Park. We do this quite often - we are members and really enjoy the Park.

This trip was different, however, because my brother-in-law and his wife came with us, and we went on a three hour photo safari!

This is what the WAP says you will do:
Riding on the back of a safari truck inside our animal enclosures will provide you with the opportunity to photograph our exotic wildlife such as rhinos, giraffes, and gazelles, at times just inches from your camera lens. See the critically endangered animals and possibly get the opportunity to feed a giraffe and rhino, all while being entertained and informed by your very own expert wildlife guide.
  • 3.5 hours
  • Visit five field exhibits
  • Giraffe and rhino feeding opportunity
  • Snack stop

What an incredible experience!! Nothing beats being up close and personal with these wonderful animals. I took lots (!!) of pictures and wanted to share a few with you.

I love this ostrich shot - she followed us all around the enclosure and stood in front of the gate so as not to let the truck leave!

This little lady was due to give birth at any time.

The springboks were so fun to watch!

Mom and baby running around...

The wonderful rhino.

We got a look at the cheetahs. (We are actually REALLY far away, but we have a really nice zoom lens which makes up for it.)

This guy was posing for us.

This mama just had twins! They were so cute - and tiny... a crow landed next to one of them, and they were about the same size!

The rhinos had no interest in letting us feed them. Mostly they wanted to walk slowly away.

This baby elephant was born on Valentine's Day. So cute!

We had a great time with the giraffes. We got a couple of chances to feed them, and they were VERY interested in eating!

Enjoying the view at our "snack stop". The Wild Animal Park is a very beautiful place.

The Mr and I feed a giraffe. I promise I wasn't trying to fight the giraffe - he'd win!

The Mr and a giraffe...

My father-in-law, sister-inlaw, me, The Mr and my brother-in-law.

This was so much fun! I would definitely recommend it - and I'll do it again the next chance I have! A great chance to see your favorite animals, up close and in their (mostly) natural environment.

What are your favorite animals to see at the zoo?

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