Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Picking Your Brain

I am really trying to finish The Thesis. A. graduates in May (wahoo!!) and we both want to be free as a bird to make changes come the day after graduation.

So - I am looking for some help. Do you have some yummy recipes that are not fussy and quick to make? A. is going to be helping out with making dinner and stuff to help me free up more time in the evenings, but he is not to interested in cooking anything that is too involved or requires more than a couple of pots and pans. Any suggestions would be welcome!


Speaking of The Thesis, I have been swinging wildly on the Pendulum of The Impostor Syndrome. On one end, is I Can Fake It Until I Make It and on the other end is I Am Going To Get Caught for The Dimwit that I Am.

Good times.


I need to pick your brains, again! I need ideas for some nice, thoughtful, tasteful, and rather inexpensive thank you gifts for folks who put me up in DC and helped me get my ticket. The recipients are female, smart, hilarious, and work hard as hell.


It has been really, really cold here the past few days (-25 degrees F and windy) so we have been leaving the dogs inside. They don't really do well inside without us, and I don't even know how to train them to be "inside by yourself" dogs.

They did great on Monday and Tuesday. I just talked to A. He just came home for lunch and Buster and Belle got into some food and made a mess. Bah!

It is mostly food and trash cans that they get into. They aren't chewers and don't destory stuff, just make messes.

Any suggestions? How to trian nine-year-old dogs how to stay inside and out of trouble? The older they get the more difficult it will be for them to stay outside in the cold...


  1. For the recipes, a bunch of the ones that I posted on my recipe blog are very simple. I hardly post there anymore, but the archives could be helpful:

  2. I'm not much help with most of these, but I can offer a couple of easy recipes:

    Quiche - premade pie shell (or crustless, if you prefer), 5-6 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, whatever cheese, veggies, cooked meat you like. Bake for 1/2 hour.

    Chili soup (thinner than regular chili)- 2-28 oz. cans diced tomatoes, 1 28 oz. can beans (any kind you like drained & rinsed), chopped onions, garlic, green pepper & celery, few tbsp chili powder. If you like ground beef, cook that first, then add the rest. I usually use veggie "ground round".

    Breakfast for dinner - French toast or pancakes, bacon (or veggie sausages) and fruit salad.

    Besides plain old spaghetti, these are our three main go-to-quick dinners.

  3. I second Lori's breakfast for dinner idea. We also like spaghetti with alfredo sauce, bits of chicken and bacon (because we are healthy).

    Another quick one: meatball subs (plain meatballs, tomato soup, topped with mozzarella cheese). We are SO not gourmets around here.

    Also: spam burgers. Mix a can of cream of chicken soup with Spam, add a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, smash until well mixed, spoon on top of hamburger buns, top with a sprinkle of more cheddar cheese and bake at 400 degrees until cheese melts.

    For gifts, maybe something Obama-related? Or some jewelry from Etsy? Or some nice framed photos of you guys at the Inauguration? Or wine? Or gift cards to their favorite coffee house or restaurant?

    RE: The dogs. Hmmm. Are they closed off in a certain area? Do they have enough toys? I dunno. We crate Shorty during the day because he is a crazy chewer and Abby still paw-slaps him whenever she has the chance. When he's a bit older, he'll get free rein, but until we can trust him - nope.

  4. We crate Millie and Bear whenever we leave. They do fine. That is my best advice. Starting with separate, roomie... (roomy?)... spacious crates for each dog is best while they are getting used to it.

    My favorite easy quick meals (outside of spaghetti variations others mentioned) are as follows:

    ~Bake chicken breasts till they are done, cut into cubes, make mac-n-cheese, add chicken pieces and a bag of peas. My favorite quick meal.

    As for pre-made stuff from the store(I know cost is a bit more, but it can be worth the time saving):

    ~Those skillet dinners are quick and handy.(Once, I made a giant batch myself once, just cooked a couple pounds of chicken, added bags of frozen veggies, and water chestnuts and whatnot, split it up into big ziplocks, and then added teriyaki to some bags and sweet-n-sour to others, it wasn't bad. If you go this route, pick a day when you have time to make a big batch, Look at the pre-made ones in the store then copy them if in doubt, and add some water too)

    ~Chicken strips and fries are my other favorite, baked all at once on the same cookie sheet, we have one of those non-stick cooling racks that fit in a bakers 1/4 sheet, the fries and strips get good and crispy. Then get out dipping assortments- bleu cheese, ranch, ketchup, catsup, sweet and sour- i like SUNDUCK, or whatever you like for dipping.

    Deriving dinner from:
    (One cookie sheet cooking)+(Dipping sauce)=COMFORT ...for me at least.

    Do I get the award for longest comment ever?

  5. Ok--- My two favorite easy recipes are

    Taco soup
    brown 1 lb ground beef with some onion, add 2 small cans of tomato sauce, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can black beans, 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 1 can of corn, 3 cups of water and 3 tsp taco seasoning. (It makes a ton, and leaves great leftovers-- or you can freeze it for quick meals later) Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and some type of corn chips (fritos, or doritos).

    Easy sloppy joes -
    Brn lb of ground beef (or whatever type of meat you like)
    add 1 can tomato soup and 1 cup of chunky salsa. Top with shredded cheese on buns or bread.

    And... I also have some ideas for thank you gifts. You could put a little book together (for example I can order small soft cover photo books in 3 packs for about $12 total (plus shipping). You could put the photos with captions from your trip in there and then send each of them one.
    Or if you got a few good shots you could have a different enlargement made for each friend. (would totally help you with the photobooks if that sounds like something you would be interested in)

  6. my go to quick meal:

    saute green & yellow zuchinni and tomatoes (or peppers, or whatever veggies you have/like) in olive oil, with some salt / pepper / herbes de province until just lightly cooked; dump on top of couscous cooked in chicken broth.

    or soup! i've just discovered how easy it is to make, and how delicious it turns out with hardly any effort!

  7. Quick and easy meals?! Writing from the land of pasta, I can give you more than you ever, seriously, wanted to know.

    Here's a favourite from Roma: cook penne or fusilli pasta, drain and mix with pesto sauce (not too much), sprinkle with grated parmesan, fresh ground pepper, and diced tomato. How to make this friggin' phenomenal? Make it using only fresh ingredients from the local market down the street. OK, I know, in Laramie that would be a little difficult. I had to rub it in. A little.

    Here's a favourite from Aspen: Place 4 chicken breasts (or fillets) in a baking dish, cover with 1/4 Cup melted butter and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. While this is baking, mix 1 T Dijon mustard, 1/2 Cup sour cream, 1/2 Cup apricot preserves (unsweetened, preferably). Drain most of the butter from the chicken then cover with half of the sauce and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cook pasta of your choice (penne works well). Once the chicken is done, place on beds of drained pasta and cover with uncooked sauce. This is friggin' fantastic when apricots are in season and you can garnish with fresh apricot.

    Fish would be a good choice for you, considering A.'s avid interest. Unfortunately, my interest is in tuna, salmon, and swordfish, and not trout or pike. However, here's a modified recipe for trout: Mix a marinade of 1/2 Cup lime juice, 1/2 Cup tequila, pinch of salt, and 4 T olive oil. Put trout and marinade in a covered container and refrigerate for 1/2-1 hour. Make 1 1/2 Cups of Uncle Ben's rice, following instructions on the box. Fluff rice once done and mix in 6 T lemon juice, 1/3 Cup chopped cilantro, 1/3 Cup pine nuts, and salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste. Grill trout, and place over beds of rice. Garnish with additional cilantro and/or diced tomato.

    Does A. smoke any of his catches? You could try smoked trout quesadillas. I've never made or seen these, but why not? Tortillas, smoked trout, sour cream, diced tomato, cilantro and fresh-ground pepper to taste. I'm not sure what cheese you would use, something to compliment the smoked taste of the fish. If you ever try this, let me know how it works out.

    Anytime you read a recipe it looks long and involved, but it's not until you actually try one that you realise they are considerably easier than they appear. All of these leave plenty of time for study, hockey, and, um, whatever else you need time for.

  8. I think that carrot risotto is one of the best easy dishes that lasts for a week in leftovers.

    Cook a whole slew of rice in olive oil and butter. Add chicken broth and let it simmer and absorb. Add more chicken broth again and again until the rice is fluffy. Now add a bunch of blended carrots. So yummy. Reheats well too.


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