Tag Archives: food

InstaFriday: Lots & Lots of Bacon

I haven’t done InstaFriday in quite a while, but wanted to link up this week because Lows & Highs is on a hiatus for right now.
Our pepper mill broke all over Brian’s Saturday morning breakfast. We stared in surprise for a moment and then laughed and took a picture. Fortunately, he was able to brush the peppercorns off and still ate his food. He missed the peppercorn that landed in his juice glass, though!
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We went to a princess-themed birthday party for two young sisters, a five-year-old and a one-year-old. Thanks to Pinterest, I made a travel-sized drawing kit for the older sister. Thanks to Sara & Eli’s recommendation, we gave the younger sister a bubble bucket (not pictured).
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We had a brunch at church and I didn’t know what to take, so I half-jokingly suggested to Brian, “We could just take lots & lots of bacon.” He agreed as gleefully as a kid accepting birthday presents. I also took fruit salad.
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Cola is now four months old and finally old enough to go to the dog park! She often turns to the comfort of her pillow when she gets in trouble or when we are not available to constantly play with her. She has her own hashtag on Twitter and Instagram: #ColaPup.
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life rearranged

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What I’m Into (August 2014)

Friends

College students back on campus & coming to our house for Sunday lunches. We are all getting back into the swing of school and campus ministry.
2014-08 Sunday Lunch

Food

I used to disdain iced coffee unless it was really, really hot. This summer, though, I discovered Pioneer Woman’s cold-brewed concentrate that I mix with almond milk and one of my homemade coffee syrups. It tastes delicious and the college students who come to our house think so, too!

French Toast Roll-Ups with blueberries and cream cheese… Brian and I liked these so much we rated them “let’s have it again every month.”
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My tomato cages toppled from the weight of the vines, but they kept growing. Now I have what I call a “tomato thicket.” Rabbits kept eating the unripe fruit but my puppy decided they’re fun to chase. Now we have tomatoes!
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Watching

On TV: Rizzoli & Isles and Girl Meets World.

On Netflix: Doctor Who season 7. I like Clara, “the impossible girl,” who gets scared and plunges in anyway. “We never just walk away.” In addition, I’m working my way back through Haven (currently on season 2) because I missed having a new season this summer.

Music

Colbie Caillat’s Gypsy Heart Side A, especially “Try.”
The Likes of Us (self-titled album) from Noisetrade has been a fun addition to my jazzy weekend breakfast playlist.

Technology

Since school started this month, I’ve been using Quizlet to make free electronic flashcards for the high school students I work with. As an a added bonus, they can use my flashcards (as well as any they create) online or on their smart phones.

Now that the entire school email system is run through Google, I have been using Google Drive for sharing documents with coworkers (I had never used it for document creation before this month.)

I upgraded to a iPhone 5s and a waterproof, drop-proof Otterbox Preserver case this week and I am enjoying both! FYI: The Preserver cases appear to still be on sale for 50% off on Amazon.

Same-day Instagram prints from Walgreens, especially when I procrastinated making them until the day before I needed them!
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Random Fun

I like the graphic design of the @HomeGoods Stylescope quiz to “find your home design personality“. I’m supposedly “The Traveler” and liked the graphic so much, I made it my iOS wallpaper.


What were you into in August?


Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Lows & [Lots of] Highs

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

 

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One Low
Our sweet, adorable puppy killed a bird and then tried to eat it. Brian noticed and went out to dispose of the dead body, but Cola decided she wanted to chew on it and play “keep away from the human” instead. After a few minutes, I went out to help, which made us two disgusted people and one playful puppy. Eventually, she dropped her prize for a moment and I picked her up. That gave Brian an opening to make the bird disappear. Since then, Brian keeps promising Cola she will never be allowed to lick his face ever again.

 

Three Highs
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1. Brian and I put up new gutters on the back of our house.

 

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2. I made French Toast Roll-ups with blueberries and cream cheese. They were delicious and we want to have them again.

 

 

3. A barista was astonished to overhear me talking with a friend about making my own coffee syrups and asked for details, so I gave her my blog address. I have never directed a total stranger to this site before, but it was the easiest way to give her the information!


How has your week been?

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Simple, Speedy Cooking for One

One of my college student friends recently asked for recipes and tips for cooking for one. Before I got married last year, I spent the previous four years living on my own and either working two jobs or working and going to grad school. I love food – a lot! – but had limited time to cook. Here are my tips & recipes for her. Most of these are scalable recipes that can be easily increased to feed a crowd.
 Cooking for One: Tips & Tricks (StairStories.com)
Tips
  • Brown several pounds of ground beef in a skillet and freeze it in one-pound or half-pound portions to speed up meal preparation later.
  • Rotisserie chicken from your local deli can be a healthy, fast way to add protein to several meals (especially if you do not eat the skin). Meal #1: Have the legs and wings with vegetables and a roll or biscuit on the side. Meals #2-3: Use chopped breast and back meat in a Quesadilla or Chef Salad or on Baked Potatoes.
Cooking for One: Stir-Fry with Potstickers Recipe (StairStories.com)
Stir-Fry with Dumplings/Potstickers 
1 serving frozen potstickers, sometimes labeled as Asian dumplings (check package for serving size)
1/2 cup broccoli slaw
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts or sliced almonds (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Prepare potstickers using the skillet directions. When they are done, leave them in the skillet and add the broccoli slaw. If the bottom of the pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon of water. Cover the pan and steam for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl. Top with soy sauce and nuts to taste.
 Cooking for One: Italian Chicken & Potatoes Recipe (StairStories.com)
Italian Chicken & Potatoes
2 frozen chicken tenders or one breast (split)
1 medium or two small potatoes (white, red, or sweet potatoes are fine)
1 cup Italian salad dressing
Preheat oven to 350. Place thawed chicken on a casserole or baking pan with high sides. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into medium-sized chunks. Place the potatoes around the chicken. Pour the salad dressing over the chicken and potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes. The chicken should be white all the way through and the potatoes should be soft.
 Cooking for One: Baked BBQ Chicken Recipe (StairStories.com)
Baked BBQ Chicken
2 frozen chicken tenders or one breast (split)
1/8 – 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Place thawed chicken on a casserole or baking pan with high sides. Pour the barbecue sauce over the chicken. Bake for 15-20 minutes. The chicken should be white all the way through.
 Cooking for One: Quesadillas Recipe (StairStories.com)
Quesadillas
2 tortillas
1/2 cup cooked meat (ground beef, chopped chicken, prepared barbecued pork)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (mild cheddar, American, colby, jack)
Heat skillet or griddle to medium high. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Lay one tortilla flat on the hot skillet and spread meat evenly across the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese over the meat and top with second tortilla. Cook while frequently pressing down on the top tortilla with a spatula or a plate until the cheese is melted enough to hold the tortillas together and the bottom tortilla is nicely browned. Flip the quesadilla and brown the other side. Cut and serve!
 Cooking for One: Sweet & Tangy Meatballs Recipe (StairStories.com)
Sweet & Tangy Meatballs – adapted from Ring Around the Rosies
1 serving turkey and romano cheese frozen meatballs (check package for serving size)
1/4 cup grape jelly
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
Place all ingredients into small saucepan heat on medium, stirring occasionally until meatballs are heated completely according to package directions and jelly is blended with sauce. Serve over rice or pasta.
 Cooking for One: Chef Salad Recipe (StairStories.com)
Chef Salad
1 cup greens (I like spinach because I can use it in other favorite recipes)
1/2 cup other vegetables or fruits (fresh berries, tomatoes, peppers, celery, shredded carrots, beets)
1/2 cup protein (cottage cheese, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped sandwich meat, cooked chicken, sliced boiled egg)
1-2 tablespoons salad dressing
 Cooking for One: Loaded Baked Potatoes Recipe (StairStories.com)
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Scrub potatoes. Cook in oven (350 for 30-45 minutes, depending on size) or microwave on high (4-7 minutes, depending on size). Top as desired. Some of my family’s favorites are cheddar cheese, sour cream, olives, ham or any kind of sandwich meat, cooked broccoli, cottage cheese, bacon bits, Italian salad dressing.*
* Not all on the same potato!

 

Make the whole recipe and eat one serving. When the casserole cools, wrap individual servings in plastic wrap and place in a gallon freezer bag to freeze. Unwrap and reheat whenever you need a quick meal. It tastes far better than store-bought freezer meals!
What is your advice on cooking for one?

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DIY Coffee Flavoring Syrup

Cinnamon & Vanilla Rum

I like my coffee strong, dark, and sweet, so I like coffee-flavoring syrups. Did you know it is easy to make your own, customized syrups that taste better than store-bought? I start with the most basic simple syrup recipe and add whatever suits my taste. Both microwave and stove top work well for me, so I have included directions for both.

What is your favorite coffee flavor?

Basic Coffee Flavoring Recipe

Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

 

Cinnamon Stick Syrup
Add 1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches long), broken into pieces

 

Vanilla Rum Syrup
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (Mexican or some other really good kind), and
1 teaspoon rum or rum flavoring

 

Microwave Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a clear, microwave-safe container that holds at least four cups. (I use my four-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Cook on high for two minutes, stir, and then heat until bubbling but not to a rolling boil. Stir about every minute and keep a close watch so it does not boil over. Cook at a “bubble, not boil” for about five minutes in total.

 

Stovetop Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan that holds at least four cups. Heat to a low simmer, but not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about five minutes in total.

 

Taste Test & Finishing
When the sugar is completely dissolved and the solution is thicker than plain water, you can check the flavor: Scoop up about a half-teaspoon of HOT syrup and let it cool before you taste it. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can simmer for a little longer and consider adding a little more of the flavor add-ins. When you like the flavor, let the syrup cool.

 

If your add-ins are not dissolved (like the cinnamon stick), strain out the pieces with a strainer and cheesecloth. Pour the syrup into your preferred containers. I prefer easy-to-pour bottles. Use right away or store in refrigerator.*

 

*I always store mine in the refrigerator and have no idea how long it lasts because I use the syrup quickly!

 

 

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Caption This – Condiment Edition

Yesterday was my birthday and Brian took me out to breakfast at Perkins before work. Although I did not need ketchup for my blueberry pancakes, the ketchup bottle amused me. What should the caption be? On Tuesday, I’ll post my favorite suggestion or two as text superimposed on the photo.

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Lemon Cream “Tarts” Snack

I eat two to three snacks a day, interspersed between three small to moderate meals (my mom says I eat like a hobbit). Since I try to keep a healthy blend of carbohydrates and protein, I usually stick with the same basic snacks that serve their purpose but sometimes become a little boring.

Every so often, I happen upon a particular snack that is satisfyingly delicious and nutritional. I tried what I am calling Lemon Cream “Tarts” today and they are yummy! (Yes, I realize they are not actual tarts but call them that anyway.)
Lemon Cream "Tarts"
Lemon Cream “Tarts” 
1 thin sandwich-style bun, whole wheat
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese, part-skim
2 tablespoons lemon cream*

Split the bun open and toast the the two sides separately. (They toast faster than normal bread, so watch closely.) Spread the ricotta on the bun. Gently spread the lemon cream over the ricotta. (Total calorie count: 200.) Enjoy!

*Many people call it lemon curd but that name sounds gross to some my friends and family, so I call it lemon cream. I make my own using this recipe from My Baking Addiction.

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Lows & Highs: Snow Days

Snowy neighborhood 2Low: Last Wednesday, I broke one of my contacts (the rigid gas-permeable type) and have had to wear my glasses for days. I finally had an eye exam today with my new optometrist today, so the contacts are on order!
Snowy neighborhood 1

High: Today is our second snow day in a row here in Great Bend. The school district and college preemptively canceled classes on Tuesday and then it snowed all day, blanketing the town with at least five inches of snow… granting us a second day of “snow vacation.” We have spent the past couple days doing laundry, keeping the house tidy, and watching mini-marathons of West Wing and Quantum Leap on Netflix.
Brian in the snow
I also like to bake when I am snowed in, something Brian had not yet experienced with me. In all, I made Apple Pie Streusel Muffins, roasted chicken, tamale pie casserole, and peanut butter cookies.

Apple Pie Streusel Muffins

What were your lows and highs from the past week? Do any of them involve snow?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Love Where You Live: Date Night #1

This week, we decided on dinner and miniature golf for our date night. 2013-08-28 18.28.09-2We tried Johnsons Smokehouse BBQ for the first time because I have heard so much about it. If you like Johnsons on Facebook, you get a coupon to get 50% off one entree when you buy two (valid at the time I am writing). The pulled pork I tried was not quite to my taste, it had a sweet barbecue sauce on it already and I like less sweetness and more smokey flavor. The potatoes were deliciously mixed with melted cheese and butter, though. My husband and I agreed that the potatoes were our favorite part of the meal. If you like barbecue with flavor on the sweeter side and lots of cheese on your potatoes, you should definitely try Johnsons.

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After dinner, we went miniature golfing at Walnut Bowl and had the whole course to ourselves so we felt free to be as silly as we wanted. We are nowhere near good enough for it to be a seriously competitive activity. On hole #12, though, we each putted a hole-in-one!

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If you like mini golf, I recommend Walnut Bowl. I have not tried the bowling there, but everyone seemed to be having a terrific time on the lanes so I hope to go back sometime soon to try it!

Love Where You Live GBI am participating in Robin’s Love Where You Live series. This week’s theme is dinner.

Disclaimer: I do not own these businesses and am not paid to recommend anything, I just like places that have food and fun. Now, if someone offers me free stuff, discounts, etc. for saying nice things about them, I will be sure to let you know.

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Love Where You Live: Restaurants

Love Where You Live GBI am participating in Robin’s Love Where You Live series. This week’s theme is restaurants.

Since I have lived in Great Bend, Kansas, less than two months, I have not discovered many local restaurants yet. I do, however, have a favorite – Perks Coffee Shoppe!

Food & Drinks
Even though Perks has a menu of cafe-style foods, I have only tried the baked goods. I enjoyed every type of cookie I have tried as well as the miniature cinnamon rolls, “Mini’s.” So far my favorite treat has been the blueberry scones. I do not have a usual drink yet because I keep trying their numerous flavors in my standard Americano. So far my favorite is a butterscotch Americano, hot or iced.

LWYL-Perks
Atmosphere
I like people-watching and observing the stories swirling through the shop. On various visits, there have been locals who work nearby stopping in for lunch, a ladies’ group playing cards, a couple planning the next leg of their road trip vacation.

This seems to be a good place to bump into people you know or to meet new ones! I have heard “catching up” conversations between people who apparently had not seen each other in months. I have also seen chatty strangers who struck up a conversation about the local water quality and water filter recommendations while waiting for their orders.

Disclaimer: I do not own this business and am not paid to recommend anything, I just like places that sell delicious coffee and pastries. Now, if someone offers me free stuff, discounts, etc. for saying nice things about them, I will be sure to let you know.

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