Monday, January 26, 2009

Old Fashioned Quaker Oats

I recently rediscovered my love for oatmeal. Not the little instant packs of oatmeal, but the old-fashioned kind...the kind you have to stand there and stir while it cooks in a pot on the stove. I love the comforting smell of it. It reminds me of being a kid and my Dad cooking us breakfast while we waited at the table. And you have to make it with milk...not water. And some brown sugar never hurts either. Fresh fruit as a topping is always good too.

Here is my question though...are Quaker Oats really superior to other generic brands of oats???

Ryan and I were in Safeway the other day and of course the generic brands of oats were on sale and probably cheaper than Quaker Oats at regular price anyway. Ryan said to compare the ingredients (which I usually do with other generic brand things - normally they're the same thing!). But how do you compare:




What is that special "Quaker Quality"???

For now, I got the Quaker ones (what can I say...brand recognition and childhood nostalgia, I guess). However, I'd like to know if anyone eats the other brands or has any sort of comparison for me. I would imagine for baking, oatmeal is oatmeal, but what about when you're eating it by itself? Can you really tell the difference?

Enlighten me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finally BACKING UP Files!

I guess I'm one of those people that has considered what they would do (i.e. ripping hair out) if their laptop was lost/stolen/decided to crash.  But at the same time, until today I had yet to do anything to prevent this ripping out of hair and panic.
(Would my laptop DARE do that to me?!)

I remember people telling me horror stories about them losing everything on their computer.  I even read Emily's blog entry about almost losing all of her files.  Still, it just seemed like such a hassle to try and back things up.  (All you tech. people are right now thinking, "it's not that hard, you just plug in the external hard drive and that's about it).

It's true.  It's easy.  Especially when you have a Mac :)  Oh how I love my MacBook Pro.  I could go on and on about how wonderful it is and why it's soooo much better than a PC, but I'll save that for another blog entry.

Previously my lame attempt at backing up, was occasionally burning photos to CD's.  Most of those CD's, I have no clue of their location.

The other day my laptop froze.  For the first time!  Just for about 20 seconds.  Longest 20 seconds ever.  I had visions of the "sad Mac face" (does that really exist) a la Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.  Luckily, my laptop snapped out of its funk and all was back to normal.  But that was what finally got me thinking...maybe I should back up the files.  I couldn't imagine losing all my photos!  There are so many of them stored on my laptop.  So many good memories I wouldn't want to lose just because I didn't backup my files.

So now I have this:

And by using "Time Machine" on my Mac, I have now backed up my entire computer.  Oh and what a cool function "Time Machine" is.  It saves copies of all your files and continues to do so each time it's plugged into the My Book.  It will literally save everything I'm doing...even the screens I have open right now.  Craziness.

Did I mention I love my Mac?

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Challenge...UPDATE #1

So it has been, what, almost 2 weeks now without shopping.  2 long weeks, I am ashamed to admit :(  I think I probably started complaining 4 days in...


...maybe 3 (or 2...was it really the next day?!)...

...regardless, I {we} have stuck to it.  Yay us!  Luckily I have Sara to commiserate with.

I try not to look at online sites because then I have that consumer urge.  I have only been to the mall once in the last 2 weeks and that was to have dinner with Christina.

See, I'm being good :)

I guess considering the state our economy is in, shopping is not a good idea right now anyway.

Now would someone please tell that to all the designers releasing their spring lines right now!!!

OK...I am calm.  I can do this.  We can do this.  3 months, 2 weeks, and some odd hours left...

But really - who's counting?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alvin Gets a Haircut

Every time we get into the car to go for a ride, Alvin gets excited.  Once we arrived at Petsmart this time, he was running and tugging on the leash to get in the door.  Then we get inside and he freezes, suddenly realizing why we're there.  He HATES going to the groomer.  They tell me he is very squirmy.  I can imagine him wiggling all over the grooming table while the lady tries to shave him...doesn't sound especially safe to begin with.  Anyway, he always looks so cute after.  AND his ears always look extra large.  He has pointy Yorkie ears as it is, but after he gets his hair cut short, his ears are super pointy and sonar-looking.  So funny.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

[BONUS] What's For Dinner? Giada's Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas

After posting the recipe for the Arancini that we made last night, I realized some of you may want the actual Risotto recipe that I used :)  So here it is...

5 3/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth OR vegetable broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups medium-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
S&P to taste

Bring the broth to a simmer in a heavy, medium-size saucepan.  Add the porcini mushrooms.  Cover and set aside until the mushrooms are tender (and plumped up), about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and finely chop.  Cover the remaining broth and keep warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the white mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, and garlic; saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the rice.  Add the wine; cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.  Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring (pretty much constantly), about 28 minutes.  Stir in the peas.  Mix in the Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Makes about 6 side-dish-size servings.

New Trash Can

Oddly enough we were really excited to get this new trash can (OK maybe I was the one that was excited).  We had a standard kitchen one before.  You know the basic open-top plastic kind you get from Target.  It did it's job, but was WAY too small.  We were emptying our trash daily, and if we did a lot of cooking, then twice-daily.  Plus, I wasn't a fan of the open-top trash can.  I didn't like walking into the kitchen and seeing the garbage in it.  Not sightly, not stylish.  It didn't go with our decor either.  Anyway, for awhile I had been searching for the perfect trash can.  This sounds ridiculous, I know.  I liked the concept of the Simple Human ones, and I liked how they looked of course.  I asked a few people (most recently Emily) for their recommendations.  A few of our friends had Simple Human ones, but everyone seemed to have a different shape/size.  So off we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond (don't you just love that store?)...

I spent at least 20 minutes (possibly more) looking at all the Simple Human trash cans.  There were so many.  I first narrowed it down by deciding I didn't like the round ones, or the half-moon shaped ones.  So that left us with rectangular ones.  Then we had to decide the size.  I probably went back and forth between the larger one and the one we ended up with forever.  Ryan I'm sure was annoyed this was taking so long (how do boys get in and out of a store in under 5 minutes?!).  Finally we came to the conclusion that we would get the 38L/10 gallon size.

And now we've had it for 3 days and I love it!  It fits perfectly in the kitchen (good thing we didn't opt for the larger one!), and keeps the smell of trash in it.  I got one of the charcoal odor-eater things to stick on the inner lid of the can also.  I like how the lid doesn't slam closed when you open/close it.  I like how it has a little bag holder in the back.  It's silly to get this excited over a new trash can...I will chalk it up to:

1. Loving to decorate our place.
2. Not being able to shop right now.  Haha.

P.S.  Love the 20% off coupons at BB&B.

What's For Dinner? Giada's ARANCINI DI RISO

This recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis' book, "Everyday Italian."  I happen to love her recipes :)  The Arancini are great as little appetizers, or even as a side to a meal.  She recommends using this recipe as a way to use up leftover Risotto.  Her recipe calls for "2 cups of Basic Risotto", but I used her "Wild Mushroom w/Peas Risotto" recipe (Thanks for the recommendation on that Siena!).  Anyway, these are delicious right after being fried.  They have melted mozzarella cheese in the center (yum - melted cheese!).  Oh, and if you don't like peas, you don't have to worry because you can barely taste them...they just add some texture.

2 cups Basic Risotto or Wild Mushroom w/Peas Risotto, cooled
1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 ounces [fresh] mozzarella cheese, cut into about 1/2-inch cubes
Vegetable Oil [for deep-frying]

In a large bowl, stir the risotto, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, the Parmesan cheese, and the eggs to combine.  In a medium bowl, place the remaining cup of bread crumbs.  Using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture for each cube of mozzarella cheese, from the risotto mixture around the cheese cubes to enclose completely and form into 1 3/4-inch-diameter balls.  Roll the balls in the remaining bread crumbs to coat (make sure to coat well).

In a large, heavy saucepan, add enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches and heat over a medium flame to 350 degrees F.  Working in small batches, add the rice balls and cook until brown and heated through, about 4 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels to drain.  Let rest for 2 minutes.  Serve hot.

Verike's Tips:
*You end up with A LOT of leftover breadcrumbs if you use the recommended 1 cup for coating.  I think you would be OK with 3/4 cup (or even a little less).
*I didn't want to use so much oil for frying, so I actually probably only had a depth of 1 1/2 inches of oil.  Then I just fried each ball for 2 minutes per side.  Still came out perfectly :)

These are sooooo good!  I know you'll love them!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Challenge...

All of you that know me, know how obsessed I am with fashion...and thus shopping.  Sara and I have decided to embark on a challenge together.  One that I'm sure is going to drive me absolutely crazy.  I love shopping, I love clothes, I love shoes.  Here is the challenge:

NO Shopping for 4 months.  Absolutely NONE.  The only purchases "allowed" are ones of necessity (we're talking toilet paper, and toothpaste here people).

Some of you may be thinking, that doesn't sound too hard.  WELL...for me it will be difficult.  I will probably go into withdrawal like some sort of addict (yes I admit, I am addicted to shopping - haha).

At any rate, wish us luck.  At least I have my best friend to do this with me.  Let the shopping fast begin...


(Better late, than never...)
Happy New Year to all our friends & family. Here's to 2009!

(I love this picture of us, even though it got cut off)

(Dinner at Flemings)

(Thanks for my shoes Hun!)