Posted in Ta-Da! Tuesdays

Ta-Da! Tuesday: Drained

I can tell you two things with almost complete certainty:

1)  You will not get pictures of what I’ll be blogging about today, at least not in the next 12 hours, because my hubby is sound asleep and the camera is in the bedroom and I don’t want to wake him.

2)  Tomorrow, on Written Word Wednesday, there will not be an excerpt from “Out of Place”, my NaNoWriMo novel.  That’s because I will be running around tomorrow like a chicken with my head cut off.  Or turkey, as it were.

You see, tomorrow is the very first time I’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner.  Family (oh, who am I kidding?  It was the parents’ idea) on both sides agreed that once we own our home, all big holiday get-togethers shall take place at our house and hosted by us truly.  So, being the ultimate hostess/big worrywart/slightly OCD (yet still cute enough to not come across as neurotic) person that I am, I will be spending the next few days making sure everything is as perfect as I can make it, including intentionally-placed appearances of “lived-innedness” (that’s actually a post for another day!).

So the post title has one part to do with the fact that I am indeed feeling drained.  It’s almost 2 in the morning in my part of the world, and you better believe that a good cup of coffee got me there!  But I’m actually loving it at the same time.  I’m really excited to pull out all the stops and show off and get some time with my dysfunctional yet oh-so-lovable families.  (And really, what family isn’t dysfunctional?)

I am also feeling drained from this last weekend.  And like my muscles have been stretched by a taffy-puller.  Why is that, you ask?  It’s because I spent those two days, in addition to the two days of the weekend before that, making a French drain.  That’s right; we decided to undertake the project so we ended up spending $300-$400ish dollars as opposed to the $3000-$4000 we would’ve paid to have someone else do it.  Lemme tell ya, too, that the $3-4 grand is totally justified to pay those people who would’ve done it.  Because man, is it hard work!

For those who don’t know what a French drain is, in its simplest form (read: the best way that Violet can explain it without sounding stupid trying to describe it technically) is a HUGE trench (ours is approximately 100 feet long, 3 feet deep, and 2 feet wide…yep, that’s what she said) with gravel, a pipe drain, more gravel, all wrapped up in polyester then dirt and beauty bark thrown back on in order to keep the house from getting water under the foundation.

That means that we dug that huge trench, transferred the REALLY HEAVY gravel one bucket at a time, and bent down to wrap up that pipe all by ourselves (with help from the a few friends and family, but one day it was all just us two).

I hurt.  A lot.  Thus the lack of any coherent thought in this post.  😉

So while digging a French drain isn’t on any grand checklist that I’ve listed, I’m giving myself a huge checkmark anyway, because that is a pretty huge accomplishment!

Also, I’m currently reducing apple cider for a glaze and just pulled some excellent-looking persimmon pudding out of the oven.  So there’s a whole lotta ta-da-ing going on in my head right now.  Imagine a raucous party raising the roof all at the same time.

Of course I’m too lazy to go upstairs to my desktop and find my checkmark picture to include on the blog, as well as my signature.  So this is going to look pretty boring.  I’m okay with that if you are!  🙂

And with that, good night and sweet dreams, dear readers!

To Worthwhile Hard Work,

Violet

 

Posted in Ta-Da! Tuesdays

Ta-Da! Tuesday: Fajita Filling & Spanish Rice

No, dear readers, you didn’t read that title wrong.  Remember oh so long ago when I originally said Tuesdays were reserved for not only crafts, but also recipes and attempts at interior design?  Well, today’s the day I finally break into the recipe realm.  Mind you, it wasn’t my initial idea for today’s post, but as I sat down and enjoyed my third helping of tonight’s dinner, I thought, “Man, this is one of the yummiest and most creative meals I’ve made in a long time!”  Then BAM, I remembered that I wanted to do recipes on Tuesdays, too.

This weekend, nature kicked my butt.  I went on a camping trip with some friends, and it involved hiking.  I don’t hike much, so I already had the disadvantage of not being conditioned.  Second strike against me was that the hike was quite possibly the most difficult one I’ve ever done.  At least that’s what my body told me when we finished the hike (a total of about 9 hours, and we didn’t even reach the top like originally planned).  Hubby, doggie, and I were all sore.  So much so that I came up with a new phrase:

“The family that climbs together, whines together.”

When we got home, we decided we wanted a nice, laidback night with a laidback friend.  We broke out the Monopoly and Netflixed some Russell Peters standup that we hadn’t seen yet and settled in for a fun night.  Our friend brought over a margarita mixer and some chips and salsa, which was awesome because I was craving some chips and salsa (and the margaritas…albeit being nonalcoholic because we didn’t have any tequila…were a nice touch).  He was also nice enough to leave us the leftover:


(Please forgive the empty salsa bottle.  As mentioned above, the dish was already cooked and in my tummy before I thought to turn it into a post, and I used all the leftover salsa in the recipe.)

So today when figuring out what to make for dinner, I wondered what I could incorporate our friend’s leftovers into.  I’m pretty sure I was partially influenced by my love of the TV show “Chopped” (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do!  It’s on Hulu and it’s sort of addictive if you like anything food-related).  These were the secret ingredients in my basket, and my challenge was to make it into a tasty dish.  I immediately thought of continuing the Mexican influence and making fajitas and Spanish rice.  I could use the margarita mixer as part of the marinade, since fajita marinade usually contains lime juice and sugar anyway, and put the salsa in the Spanish rice instead of the usual tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes.  Genius!  Here’s what I did:

(Author’s Note:  Most of my made up recipes don’t have specific measurements, so in many cases I will tell you what I did vs. how much of something I used.  I apologize for this in advance.)

For the Fajita Filling:
Ingredients:
pork (enough to make enough servings for your particular dinner group)
mushrooms, chopped
yellow onions, cut into strips
green peppers, cut into strips
margarita mixer (or you can use lime juice and sugar)
white vinegar
olive oil
**Usually there is also beer involved, but we didn’t have any beer.  It still turned out tasty, though!
Seasonings:
1/4 teaspoon curry powder (normally this is cumin, but we were out, so I used the curry powder since it is mostly cumin anyway)
garlic cloves (I would say about half a clove per pound of pork)
1 teaspoon sugar
onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (normally this is just oregano, but again, we were out [we’re kinda broke so I’m using what we’ve got], so I used Italian seasonings since there’s oregano in it)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Directions:
1) Put pork in large bowl.  Pour enough olive oil, margarita mixer, and vinegar over pork to just cover it.  (What I did was lightly coat the pork, then splashed on the margarita mix and vinegar.)
2) Finely chop the garlic cloves and pour on top of pork, rubbing it in slightly so it absorbs some garlic flavor.
3) Sprinkle enough onion powder over one side of the pork to cover it.  Toss pork in the marinade and let sit at least half an hour in the refrigerator (can be refrigerated overnight).
4)  In a lightly-oiled skillet, sear pork on medium-high heat on both sides.
5) Add marinade and onion strips, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about five minutes.
6) While this is simmering, mix together all fajita seasonings.
7)  Uncover pan and liberally coat pork with fajita seasonings on both sides.  Add green peppers and mushrooms.  If no moisture is left in the pan, add a little bit more vinegar and margarita mixer.  Cover and continue to simmer for about two more minutes, until peppers and mushrooms are cooked through (peppers should still be slightly crunchy, not soggy) and pork is cooked to desired doneness.


(The stuff that I added to the above “wild card” ingredients to make my delicious dinner.)

For the Spanish Rice:
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of cooked white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 of a medium onion
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup of salsa + 2 tablespoons of ketchup (mix together to create thicker sauce…normally, a can of tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes are used)
2 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillion/broth (you could also just cook the rice in liquid chicken broth instead of water, but I feel the rice has a better flavor if you use the powdered stuff and add it to already-cooked rice)
Directions:
1) Add oil to hot pan.  Saute onions for 1-2 minutes.
2) Add cooked rice to pan (add more oil beforehand if needed) and pan-fry until it starts to turn golden-brown, about 5 minutes.
3) Add garlic and toss.
4) Sprinkle chicken bouillion evenly on top of rice mixture.
5) Pour salsa/ketchup mix over the rice (so that the chicken bouillion has something to dissolve into) and stir until well-combined.

Serve filling and rice together and enjoy the yumminess you created!  😀


(The plate that I was sitting down to eat that inspired this post.  Doesn’t it make you want to make your own?)

**Obviously, you can put the fajita filling in a tortilla.  I did actually have the ingredients to make tortillas by scratch, but I was feeling a little lazy and the filling and rice by themselves did just fine filling me up.  I think I would’ve burst had I added a tortilla to the mix.

Anyone else out there have any stories of using seemingly-random ingredients?  Anyone else love Chopped, too?  What do you do to relax after a strenuous day of exercising?  Am I the only one who played Monopoly twice a one-week period?  (Although, I think it’s safe to say we both got Monopoly out of our systems.  It’ll probably be at least a good six months before we play again.)  Did any of you get the chance to enjoy nature this weekend?

To Finding Your Own Deliciously-Creative Rewards,