Friday, February 27, 2009

Close Call

Our dog, Watley, is not the brightest dog around. In fact, sometimes, he's just plain dumb. He has his smart moments, but those are becoming few and far between. But that's okay - he's a great dog, and we love him!

I've never been so proud of his "dumbness" than last night. We were closing up shop, getting ready to go to bed, and Grant let Watley out. All the sudden, I hear Grant say, "Oh no! There's a skunk!" I was just thinking he saw a skunk in the distance, but it turns out, the skunk was maybe 5-10 feet away. Now, back in Ohio, skunks were everywhere. Especially where we lived. There was rarely a night when we didn't smell one. Our neighbors warned us about this soon after we moved in, because they're dogs had been sprayed by a skunk not too long before, and they told us all the gory details of getting the smell out, and how tomato juice doesn't really work, and how their whole house smelled of it. This was ingrained in us, and we've never wanted to deal with it! Especially at 10:30 at night, when we're already so tired!

Well, Grant and I were standing by our door (with it closed for obvious reasons), watching the skunk while Watley was doing his thing. When it seemed Watley was done, Grant quietly opened the door and started calling Watley in. He was really close to the skunk at this time, but was completely oblivious. If he had seen the skunk, and started barking, it would all be over! And really, what dog wouldn't at least smell another animal in such close proximity! And to go even further, that skunk was pretty dumb himself, because here we are, opening and closing a door that needs oiling, and calling our dog, and yet it never seemed to notice us.

So he got in, and no one got sprayed! I was so relieved, because honestly, I didn't think there was anyway Watley could come inside without get sprayed. He might not be all that bright, but that's okay with us.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie

Yesterday, I went online looking for a recipe that I didn't need to go to the store for. I went to, which is my go-to place, and they had a picture of this pot pie on the front page. I realized I'd never made a pot pie before, but that sounded good, so I decided to try it.

I didn't have buttermilk for the biscuits, but my mom said I could add lemon juice to milk to make my own buttermilk. Well, it didn't turn out quite right for me (maybe you have to use whole milk? I only had fat free), but after all was said and done, and it was baked, you couldn't tell a difference. Which tells me, that this recipe is virtually impossible to mess up! Oh, and it's healthy. For the filling, the recipe (actually the video of the recipe) calls for 1% milk. Ellie Krieger said that it will make the filling creamier than fat free milk. But when I made it with fat free, it was plenty creamy, and in fact, I don't think it could have been creamier! It was delicious!

For the filling:
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

For the biscuit crust:
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk

To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large shallow casserole dish, or 6 individual casserole dishes with cooking spray.

Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the chicken with its juices to a bowl. .

Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the same pan and heat it over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the green beans, garlic and remaining salt and pepper and cook for 2 minute more. Add the milk. Stir the flour into the broth until it is completely dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes more. Return the chicken with its juices back to the pan. Add the peas and thyme and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish or individual dishes.

To make the crust: Put the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 12 times, or until pebble sized pieces are formed.

Add the buttermilk then oil to the food processor and pulse until just moistened. Do not over mix. Drop the batter in 6 mounds on top of the chicken mixture (1 mound on each individual dish, if using) spreading the batter out slightly. Bake until filling is bubbling and the biscuit topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kings and Philippe's

This past Saturday, we were able to go to an LA Kings game (that's hockey, for those of you who don't know) - get this - FOR FREE! It was military appreciation day, so earlier in the week, Grant picked up our tickets on base. I wasn't sure how Kendall would like it, because of how noisy it would be, but she loved it!

After the game, we went to this place called Philippe's, which is where the french dip sandwich began. We're big Food Network and Travel Channel people, and we kept seeing this place pop up. So, since it wasn't too far from the Staples Center, we thought after the game would be the perfect time to go.

So did everyone else in LA, apparently. We waited in line for about 45 minutes before we got our food. It's not fun standing in a line that's not moving, holding a squirmy toddler who just wants to get down and run around. But it was cool, the food was good, and we'd go back - but at a less busy time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good Times with Great Friends

My best friend, Kellie came in town last Thursday, along with her mom, Mrs. F. Kellie's younger sister, Angela moved down here to Orange County last summer, so this was visit was part family reunion, part friend reunion. I've been friends with this whole family for several years now, so it was great to have Mrs. F here, as well.

On Friday, we spent the day at Balboa Island, in the Newport Beach area. The weather was not that great, but it wasn't really raining, so that was good. Towards the end of the day, it started sprinkling a little bit, and by the time we got in the car, it was full-on rain. I felt so bad that during their quick trip to California, it had to rain!

After leaving Balboa Island, we headed down to this really cool lookout at Laguna Beach. I really wanted them to see this place, so even though it was pouring and freezing, we still got out and saw the view, which was actually still pretty good. As you can see, though, we got pretty wet.

Thankfully, Saturday turned out to be pretty nice. Still chilly, but not rainy. Grant was kind enough to watch Kendall for me all day on Saturday, to give me some quality time with my friends! We drove up the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is a gorgeous drive, eventually making our way to Venice Beach. After Venice, we went to Rodeo Drive, and then to Hollywood. After Hollywood, we went to The Grove, which is an outdoor shopping area that's one of my favorite places to go.

Then on Sunday, we headed back down to Orange County to Saddleback Church, where Ange is part of the worship team. She was singing this particular Sunday, so we were all happy to see her on stage. Kendall does okay sometimes during church - we never really know how she'll do. This Sunday, she was doing great, and made it through part of Rick Warren's message, until she found my nose and started saying, "Bo, bo, bo, bo!" really loudly (that's her word for nose). So I had to take her out for the rest of the service.

After a great lunch at In-N-Out, we made our way back up to our house. After Kendall got a bit of a nap, we went to White Point to show Mrs. F and Kellie what tide pooling is all about. Needless to say, they loved it. Kellie even said this was her favorite part of the trip. Mrs. F said that if Mr. F ever makes it out here, we should probably not take him tide pooling, because he won't want to do anything else.

Once we got our fill of the tide pools, we went up the road to Lunada Bay to watch the sunset. It was a little cloudy, so it wasn't the best sunset ever, but it was still beautiful.

Monday, both Kellie and Mrs. F had to head back to the Midwest, so our fun was over. But, it was a great visit, and a fun time was had by all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cool LA

We've had quite the rainy past few days here in LA. Rainy and windy. Well, the other night, when Grant came home from work, he told me to go up to the basketball courts to look out over the city and see how much snow got dumped on the mountains.

The basketball courts are up the street from our house, maybe 200 yards, and they're on top of this hill, so it's a great lookout spot.

So, I grabbed my sweatshirt (because it was COLD!) and my camera, and off I went.

This first picture I think is cool, because downtown LA is perfectly lit up by the setting sun. Oh, and downtown LA is probably about 30 miles away from us. In the foreground is lovely San Pedro.

These next pictures show the snow covered mountains. This is by far the most snow we've seen on these mountains yet! Makes me want to go snowboarding so bad! Closer in, you can see the Vincent Thomas bridge, which connects San Pedro to Long Beach, and goes over the Port of LA.

This last picture, you can see Downtown Long Beach.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Chair Shopping!

My mom wanted to get Kendall a chair. I told her how they have little Ikea Poang chairs for kids, that look just like the adult-sized ones. We have a Poang chair in her nursery, so I thought it would be cool for Kendall to have a matching one.

So, we took a fun little trip to Ikea on Saturday to get the chair. We had a great time - Ikea's always fun to go to.

Trying out the chair...

Going through the stringy-things in the children's area...

Playing around...

Testing out other chairs...

Looking for more stuff to play with...

Going through the tube...

So, we decided to go with the Poang, and that night, after Kendall went to sleep I assembled it. When she woke up the next morning - she had her chair! She's hardly been out of it ever since. Thanks Grandma!!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I saw this recipe on Jenn's blog the other day, and it sounded so good, I just had to try it. I did make a few minor adjustments to spice it up a bit, so I'll put the recipe as Jenn had it in black, and my adjustments in green.

4-6 servings
25 min, 5 min prep

1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic gloves minced
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/4 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
2 small chicken bouillon cubes
1-1 1/2 cup boiling water
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 lemon, juice of (I was unclear as to what this was, I think I did 1/2 Tablespoon?) (I ended up using almost all the juice of a whole lemon)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. In a pot, combine the first seven ingredients; simmer for 10 min.
2. Add half a can of black beans, salt and cumin; cook for 5 minutes
3. Puree soup. (I used my blender)
4. Add the rest of the beans to the soup
5. Combine the cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water.
6. Add the lemon and the cornstarch to the soup; cook until thickened
7. At the end, I decided to throw in some frozen corn.

I served it over some leftover couscous, then put sour cream, avocado slices, and shredded cheese on top.

Seriously, this was some good stuff. Grant loved it, I loved it, even Kendall loved it. I'll definitely be making it again. Another adjustment I'll make next time is doubling the recipe, so we have plenty leftover. I'm all about leftovers.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tony Danza (Tiny Dancer)

Okay, if anyone can tell me what Tony Danza and Tiny Dancer have to do with each other, you get HUGE points in my book.

Anyways, this little girl LOVES to dance. So, here's a bunch of little clips that I put together of her dancing skillz.