Sunday, March 22, 2009

Meet the 'chids!

Today I would like to take some time to introduce you to my family of orchids. Yesterday, my little family grew from five 'chids to eight!!! I couldn't resist - I went to purchase a simple plastic pot to repot my little lady slipper, and what do you know, there was an orchid promotion at the store! These guys were only $6 a piece...I couldn't say no! I was afraid Mike might be mad at me, but he likes them too, so we are in the clear. (whew!)

I decided to give them all names to help clarify which is which, and since I don't know their actual full scientific names (they are all just hybrids anyway).

Meet the new 'chids on the block:


The twins, Phalaenopsis Castor & Pollux:
(This plant has two spikes coming from one crown!)



Phalaenopsis Boo'ya Moon:


Phalaenopsis Piebald Pete:


Paphiopedilum Maudiae:
(This one actually has a real name! I've seen it called "The Queen" but I like to call mine the Green Lady)
I have not had this one bloom yet, but this is what it is supposed to look like, hopefully this year!

This is what it looks like now - it has started losing some leaves on the original fan, and there is new leaf growth on the new fan.

It's also starting to grow a new root!!! You can just barely see it in the center of the photo:


Phalaenopsis Mysterioso:
Remember this rescue that Mike saved from certain death in the garbage? How sad and barren it was?

Look at it now!!!! It has three blooms (there was a 4th, but it only lasted a few days) and another bud in the works!


Phalaenopsis SloMo Survivor:
This one was also a rescue. It is growing very slowly, but little by little, things are happening.
Here it is shortly after I first got it, when it just started growing it's first new leaf:

And with a new leaf growing:

That leaf is now full grown, and there is another one about halfway grown. I am still waiting for some new roots or some other sign of progress, but for now, I am just happy it is so strong and healthy and continuing to produce leaves!

Phalaenopsis Henry:
Here is my big daddy of Phals! Remember how beautiful it was in all it's glory -

Almost immediately after the last bloom dropped, new branches started, and new buds started growing! Take a look at him now -

These babies are growing FAST! It caught up to mysterioso really fast, and now it's a race to see who's bud blooms first! He is also growing a new root - FINALLY!!!! :)


And finally....
Phalaenopsis Von Primus - my first orchid.
Remember how pretty it was?

It has been slow going...I trimmed the spike on it after it's blooms dropped, and it feels like forever ago. It hasn't been quite a year though, so hopefully a spike will start one of these days soon! It is growing new roots and leaves like crazy, so I'm very positive about it!!!




So much fun with my flower family! I look forward to seeing them every day and finding what new things they have decided to grow!

Very Vanilla Banana Bread

This weekend I was practically FORCED to bake banana bread! They made me do it, I swear! I bought a bunch of bananas for the boys to eat, and no one ended up eating them. I had three brown bananas, so what else could I do??!?!?!

I used the same recipe as my last loaf that went over really well, the supposed Weight Watcher's Banana Bread that sure doesn't seem very healthy to  me. But who cares, really! It is SO tasty.

This time, I made different changes, and ended up with a LOT of vanilla in there!

Weight Watchers Moist Banana Bread recipe
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 3/4 cups flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used a teaspoon of my new Singing Dog Vanilla AND a vanilla bean!)
1/4 cup milk (My milk was expired, so I ended up using Vanilla Soy Milk instead)
1/2 cup vegetable oil 


1/4-1/2 cup walnuts (optional) (I used pecans)

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, oil, milk, sugar and vanilla.
3. Add the flour and baking soda.
4. Mix well to combine for about 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

WW POINTS per serving: 6
Nutritional information per serving: 286 calories, 10.4g fat, 1.3g fiber

 
Once again, this bread is phenomenal. I greased the pan and coated it with sugar...sinfully tasty. All the vanilla in the bread is SO good!!! I really love the Singing Dog Vanilla - it is organic, and it looks unfiltered - I love the smell of it. SO yummy!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another giveaway!

Everyone could use $1000 worth of free cookware, right?!?!?! Check out the link to the left, or simply click here! I am definitely entering this giveaway from the Food Service Warehouse!!! My pots and pans are a mismatched combo of beat up pans from 12 years ago and some slightly newer but still beat up pans from my wedding. I would LOVE to have a matching set like a REAL cook!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chinese Pot Roast?

Last night I made this tasty recipe I found in my Cooking Light 2008 cookbook. It seemed a little different, but I LOVE Chinese food, so I figured it was worth a try! It was super easy to make - throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it simmer. I wasn't sure what Mike's reaction would be to this concoction, but he loved it - he said it was like "Chinese Pot Roast" but with chicken. I definitely think I'll make this again! One thing I did different, I decided not to saute the spinach at the end, since everything in the pot was already SO soft from simmering. I wanted at least a little bit of texture!


Chicken and Potatoes over Sauteed Spinach
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light - www.myrecipes.com)

This recipe exemplifies the Chinese technique of red cooking--braising meat in a flavorful combination of soy sauce, ginger, alcohol, and spices. Serve in shallow rimmed soup bowls so you can enjoy all the broth. Sautéed mustard greens would also be good with this dish.

Yield
6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups chicken mixture and about 1/3 cup spinach)

Ingredients

  • 4  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced celery (My celery was all wilty, so I used shredded carrot instead - it tasted great, and added some color!)
  • 6  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4  cup  julienne-cut peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4  cup  dry vermouth or dry sherry (I used the dry sherry)
  • 2  teaspoons  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  five-spice powder
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2  pounds  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into thirds (I used chicken breasts...I prefer white meat to dark!)
  • 1 1/2  pounds  peeled white potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  teaspoons  canola oil
  • 1  teaspoon  dark sesame oil
  • 2  (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach, divided

Preparation

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add chicken; return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add potatoes; return to a simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cilantro and pepper.

Heat oils in another Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of spinach; cook 1 minute, tossing constantly. Add remaining spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, tossing constantly. Serve chicken mixture over spinach.

Note: I didn't cook the spinach - I just drizzled sesame oil over it and tossed it well. Then I served the chicken mixture on top.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 343 (20% from fat)
Fat: 7.6g (sat 1.5g,mono 2.7g,poly 2.2g)
Protein: 29.6g
Carbohydrate: 39.4g
Fiber: 6.1g
Cholesterol: 94mg
Iron: 6.2mg
Sodium: 846mg
Calcium: 170mg


Monday, March 9, 2009

I wanna be a superhero.

Not your typical masked, caped, spandex-wearing superhero, but the kind of superhero that actually manages to get all her required tasks done. It's kind of ironic that my friend Natalie over at the Bobby Pin just posted on a similar topic. It seems that as working women, we are expected to take on SO many responsibilities. Most days I can handle my regular job - I work my usual 8-6 or whatever time I end up getting out of the office, and it's usually okay. I either go home and make dinner, or go to the gym, and then go home and make dinner. But sometimes it's just not that easy. Life happens on top of all the stress from work. Then I take on side freelance jobs to help supplement my income, and to help me make progress towards my goal of being in business for myself. And then I get a little bit stressed that it won't all get done. Then I realize that I haven't cleaned my house in two days, and the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and the dirty dishes are piled on the counter. And then I start getting sick, so that all I can do is lay on the couch until I feel better. And then I feel like maybe I've taken on too much responsibility in life? And I don't even have a kid yet! How do women do it. Sometimes I just get so overwhelmed with life! Not that I'm not happy most of the time...but wow, it sure is hard to juggle work, personal life, household responsibility, taking care of my body, and still having time to relax now and then! Seriously. I think men have no idea how hard it is to be a woman sometimes!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Valentine Orchid

Sorry this is late...life has really been INSANE lately!!! But more about that later!


My mystery orchid bloomed - just in time for Valentine's Day! So very exciting. As much as I hate purple, I really love this little orchid, just because I brought it back from nothing - and to have so many blooms so quickly just tickles me pink. Or purple, in this case! Sadly, it wilted just as the second bloom began to open. The second one is now fully open, so I still have one bloom, and two more large buds on that stem, as well as a new bud forming on the second branch.

My super large white orchid blossom finally faded away, after months of shining brightly. I was sad to see it go, but at the same time, two more branches started to grow before I could even get to trimming them down! So, I now have three more buds starting to grow on that one! It also has a new leaf that finally seems to be making some progress.

My very first orchid is growing like a weed these days. Along with these root growths you can see, there is now another one that is growing VERY fast, and a new leaf that is also growing at an accelerated pace. I am hoping that a spike will start soon!

My little paph (the green lady slipper to be) is starting to grow a new leaf as well, and I am eagerly awaiting a spike on that one! It's flower season!!!

Singing Dog Vanilla

I just got my free samples today, thanks to Tracey! I can't wait to try my Singing Dog Vanilla. She sent me two beans and a bottle of extract! It looks great - now I get to decide what to make with them! Stay tuned for my review! It looks like they also sell vanilla coffee - I definitely want to try this!

I hear they will be updating their website soon, and featuring all sorts of fun vanilla recipes. So exciting!

Thanks again, Tracey - I will definitely let you know what I decided to make with my vanilla!