Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SOLE MENUIERE with BALSAMIC BROWN BUTTER LEMON SAUCE

We have been eating more fish and green veggies lately. When I went to Costco yesterday they had some GORGEOUS fresh caught Dover sole that was calling my name.  So I found this recipe over at food network and dinner was perfect. I made only a few changes for our liking and what I had on hand.

The term meunière refers to both a sauce and a method of preparation, primarily for fish. The term meunière itself means "miller's wife". So to cook something à la meunière is to cook it by first dredging it in flour. A meunière sauce is a simple rustic preparation of brown butter, chopped parsley, and lemon.
SOLE MENUIERE 
       with BALSAMIC BROWN BUTTER LEMON SAUCE
Total Time: 40 min     Prep: 10 min     Cook: 10 min
Yield: 4 servings

4 (6-ounce) sole fillets, skin removed
2 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons AVOCADO oil
1 cup flour
Salt, pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
6 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Lemon slices, for garnish
  • Soak fillets in milk for 20 minutes. Remove from milk and pat dry.
  • Generously season fillets with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the avocado oil over a medium high heat.
  • Put flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Dip the fillets back into the milk and then again into the flour. 
  • Place fillets in saute pans and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. 
  • Transfer fillets from pans to a platter, sprinkle with parsley.
  • Wipe the skillet clean and add the butter. 
  • Heat until the butter begins to brown. Add lemon juice and cook a few minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar. 
  • Pour sauce over fish and serve. 
  • Garnish with lemon slices.

Monday, July 25, 2016

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY

Another Monday is upon us believe it or not. I've been so busy that some days I can't even remember which day it is.  We are trying so hard to get the majority of ALL the little projects done on this nightmare of a house before we set out on our anniversary trip the middle of next month.
OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE
I'd love to tell you that there was a cool breeze and pretty sky, but no such luck.  Unfortunately today is a carbon copy of the past few weeks in the high 90 degree heat and 70% humidity that hits me like a frying pan in the face"!! The air is so thick you can slice it. Plus it is supposed to rain the next several days which will only make it worse.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE
Oatmeal and sliced orange.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE
It is pretty straight except for the totes I'm still sorting and the pieces for the upcoming door installation next Monday.

We did get the water closet completed short of a piece of molding and the paint for the door and inside.
WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS
  • MONDAY - ERRANDS - Grocery and Home Depot/Lowes for parts
  • TUESDAY - finish painting kitchen and start caulking and sealing master bath to prep for final paint. 
  • WEDNESDAY - finish sealing spare bath for for final painting.
  • THURSDAY -  matinee movie and lunch
  • FRIDAY - MORE sorting
  • SATURDAY - laundry & cleaning
  • SUNDAY - ????
CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR
I finished my last book and have yet to start anything new.

CRAFTS & PROJECTS
I haven't started anything new yet. Right now I'm concentrating on finishing the "little" projects on the house and finish the 30 day minimization project that is now on day 94 as I have extended it to a 120 day project.  As of yesterday we re at 5206 items.  I am about to start on actual closets and cupboards for a final go through.
KITCHEN WISHES
I am about to start the minimization on kitchen gadgets and will then reevaluate what goes into this category.

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
YOGURT & FRUIT
SCRAMBLED EGGS & CHEESE
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
YOGURT & FRUIT
MAPLE OATMEAL & RAISINS
OVERNIGHT QUICHE
BACON & EGGS
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP & CRACKERS
SANDWICH
OUT
MEAT & CHEESE
LEFTOVERS
SANDWICHES
DINNER
CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS
SALISBURY STEAK
C.O.R.N.
CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD
CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
CHICKEN & CABBAGE BAKE
APRICOT CHICKEN
DESSERT OR SPECIAL



CELERY SEED DRESSING



SUCCESSFUL RECIPES and their links FROM LAST WEEK
HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS
It took me years to learn this trick, but with long fine hair it is a VERY important trick that works like a charm.  Before you use your cream rinse be sure to remove the excess water from your hair and to really leave the conditioner on for 2 FULL minutes - don't hurry.  Since I started doing this I have had 90% less split ends and my hair just seems to lay "right" increasing my good hair days a lot.

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP
COOKING TIP 
I have been binge watching DINERS, DRIVE-INS & DIVES lately and learned a tip about baking that I tried yesterday and it REALLY works!  On the episode that featured FOREIGN & DOMESTIC in Austin, Texas while preparing Gruyere & Black Pepper popovers the chef used a pre-warmed pan (put it in the oven while it is preheating and then spray it with non-stick spray before adding the batter).  As for the batter it should be warm.  The popover recipe the chef was making had no leavening agent and she was depending on the hot pan and warm batter to create a steam process to make the popovers actually rise and boy did the rise and pop over!  The other trick is to fill them to the top instead of 2/3.  Hers looked amazing and the diners were singing serious HIGH praise. I tried this with some biscuits and it worked quite well.

HOMEMAKING TIP
I use mineral oil for my butcher block and my wooden kitchen tools to keep them hydrated.  I also find it is an inexpensive and wonderful way to oil my hardwoods too.  This is my ALL time favorite dining room table.  It's been in storage for the better part of 7 years so was considerable dry.  It soaked up ALL that oil and is looking pretty good now.  I'm so happy to have our table together again.

Hubby took apart my cousin's old table and moved it to the garage until my uncle decides its fate.  The one we took apart matches that chair in the background with the gingham check seat but is not my style, color or another project I want to take on as it is in HORRIBLE shape and needs COMPLETELY refinished.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA
We found a great door at Habitat for Humanity.  They get display items from the local Lowes which is wonderful for us as we got a very expensive door for peanuts, but it is purple.  And while I love the color purple, I don't want a purple front door.  It is also metal, so right now I'm painting on a "GRIPPER" so it will take the paint well. We are going to do some shade of gray to match the bricks on the outside and the decor on the inside. I can't wait to show you a finished picture with the stained glass portion that doesn't show well in this position.
INSPIRATION
Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday and with Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

TBY's COOKIES aka MONSTER COOKIES or KITCHEN SINK COOKIES

My cousin who is quite a few years younger and her husband were in town this week with their 4 young children (ALL boys ages 7 months to 10 - God giver her strength) and we had dinner with them, her dad and another cousin I don't get to see very often so all was good with that night.  My uncle grilled burgers, I made pasta and potato salads and Jenn brought fruit salad and tater tots for the boys.

While we were setting up Suzy was entertaining the boys and started telling them all about the strange words Jenn made up as a kid for foods - like calling hamburgers hinkleburgers LOL.  When Jenn and her sister, Michelle were little they could not say "m"s.  As a result I became better known as Tby for quite a long time, in fact Suzy (we're the same age) still calls me that.

Jump to today when I made up a new cookie recipe and I asked hubby what I should call them.  He suggested Monster cookies because they are so full of things, but that name has been done so much as has Kitchen Sink so he suggested Tby's Cookies.

I've also incorporated some unusual techniques to infuse the flavors I wanted.  I hope you give them a try and let me know what you think.  When Jenn was little I visited often. I baked a lot of cookies back then.  I liked walnuts in my cookies, but my uncle hated them so I began grinding the peanuts and incorporating the flour into the cookies for flavor.  HE NEVER CAUGHT ON! LOL

TBY's COOKIES aka MONSTER COOKIES or KITCHEN SINK COOKIES
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons quick oatmeal flour - see note - this is easy
1 tablespoon peanut flour - see note - this is easy
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (high quality)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Sift the above ingredients together and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
2 cups butter (high quality)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
  • Cream butter with sugars until smooth and creamy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, blending until incorporated after each one.
  • Add vanilla, blending well.
  • Add flour mixture gradually, blending well after each addition.
Now on to the good stuff!
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup small walnut pieces
1/3 cup caramel baking balls, cut in half (Kraft)
1/2 cup Heath bar pieces
8 ounces dehydrated pineapple, chopped small
1 cup coconut rum soaked golden raisins**
  • Add the above items while the mixer is running.  I like to add a little of each one in a rotating manner so that the ingredients get well dispersed into the dough and there are no big clumps of any one item. ADD THE RAISINS LAST AND SLOW THE MIXER TO THE SLOWEST SPEED TO NOT BREAK THEM TOO BADLY.
  • Drop by small scoop or small spoonfuls to a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat on it.
  • Bake 11-12 minutes.
NOTE: Using a cuisinart junior blend oatmeal or nuts until they become powdery.

**About an hour before I plan to bake I pour about 1/4 cup of Malibu Coconut Rum over the raisins and then stir them periodically.  I start draining them as I begin to cream the butter.  While you want nice plump raisins you do not want to add a tone of liquid moisture so draining these well  is a key step.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

HECETA HEAD DESTINATION WEDDING

My brother got married a year ago and it was a destination wedding to a very special place that means a lot to him and my new SIL, Amy. We had family coming in from ALL over the country for both of them and being a Virgo, list maker and compulsive planner I started asking questions early on.  Since we were the closest to the location I felt responsible for helping in ANY way I could - from decorations, the cake, picking people up from the airport, etc...

My first stop was the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast webpage.  One of the first things that struck me was that they need a better webmaster, but then it was pointed out to me that because they are a lighthouse on the coast, they get the business either way, but I still believe there should be better information and facility pictures for when your are spending an arm and a leg for the weekend. So, one of my goals of this post is to add some decent pictures here as well as Pinterest for those who feel they need more information before spending $315 + tax a night just for a room.

This was a "later in life" (they are both in their 40's) first wedding for each of them and they were keeping it small so I really wanted it to be perfect for them.  Just trying to pick out a date turned into a HUGE fiasco.  The web page shows dates blacked out so they were trying to work around that to pick dates that would coincide with their available days off from work and coordinating family flights etc...  LONG STORY SHORT the blacked out dates ARE available for weddings and large parties, but have to be booked through the general manager, but since the general manager was SUPER SLOW to return ALL calls and emails, it took FOREVER to start planning this wedding.  The webpage has a link to wedding packages, but they are not clear or thorough.  You have to contact owner to even know what the wedding packages are.

The webpage also does NOT have decent pictures of the facilities. If you have never been there you are left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And with the pricey dollar amount on the weekend people kinda want to see what they are getting for the money. While we were there for their wedding people were stopping by trying to locate the owner/manager about their own weddings since their calls were not being answered.

The following quote is directly from their webpage: "Having just a few guests at your wedding, let us take care of your wedding plans! You set the date, pick a package and relax." Which as I can tell you IS NOT the case.

I grew up in an era of customer service and the customer is always right.   While that may not always really be the case I still believe business should be conducted a certain way - COURTEOUSLY.  Even if you are busy and have more business than you need you SHOULD ALWAYS return calls and emails.  The practice is akin to not burning bridges to me.  The customer you turn away today by not answering will not be there tomorrow nor will anyone they tell about their poor experience. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING became last minute in the 5-7 days before the wedding because of this.

To top off the management issues they were having EXTREME water problems.  When we arrived we found this note on the refrigerator. No phone calls before to tell us to bring bottled water, no one there to pave the way with explanations, just this note.
On our first night there we found we had NO water as we went to bed.  This meant NO flushing toilets, taking showers or brushing teeth unless you had a bottle of water laying around. They began trucking water in around 130AM right past our window! So that also meant very little sleep also. No one told us in advance that water was being trucked in to fill the tank periodically. No one told us that the tank had MAJOR leaks in it also and the water would continue to seep out on top of it. Apparently their water source had been cut off by a coast road crew repairing the road.  

I have to tell you though none of that mattered to me when the water abruptly stopped as I was in the shower with a head full of lather the next morning.  NOPE, I was EXTREMELY pissed off.
Amy's beautiful bouquet.
 Amy and her father walking down the aisle.
 Chris and Amy taking their vows.

 YAY! They did it!
 Casual and western!
Chris and Amy with her family (Allison, Tom, Dink, Amy, Chris, Aiden, Jen and Branen). LOL notice the boys shed their shoes as soon as they could.
Chris and Amy with his family (stepdad Glenn, mom, Chris, Amy, me and hubby)
Jen and Branen having a cute moment.
Branen waiting for dinner.
Aiden waiting for dinner.
Chris and Amy weren't decided on a cake type so I offered to have my girlfriend, Heather (a gourmet cupcake baker) provide an assortment of their choice and they were a HUGE hit.  Everyone loved being able to try all the different flavors. They even did the ceremonious cutting of the "cupcake".
Chris and Amy chose a wonderful sit down dinner from a local caterer that tasted fantastic! They also chose the candles and lanterns that I was able to pick up locally and I made the napkin rings.
 Chris & Amy with her parents, Tom & Dink.
 The setting was as peaceful and perfect and idyllic as was possible.
 Uninvited guests form a peanut gallery.
This was the view from our room! 
 Tom enjoying the appetizer spread before dinner.
ALL in ALL we had a great time DESPITE the poor management and water problems which says more about our abilities to roll with the punches than the Inn's ability to problem solve.  To this date the owner/manager has YET to call me back despite my many calls to him and I'm sure since he has my money he never will. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

HAPPY HOMEMAKER AND MENU PLAN MONDAY

WOW! IT'S MONDAY AGAIN. WHERE DID THE WEEK GO? We actually got quite a bit done, but it's never enough for me lately.  I am soooooo ready to be done with this place! It's now been 9 LONG months of majorly long days and non-stop work!

We have decided to take a trip for our anniversary next month so have been researching and planning.  We found a cute little B&B and are now searching for cool and unusual things to do and places to eat. We are looking forward to not only a change of scenery with NO projects, but also a change in temperature.
OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE
Remember last week and the week before when I said, "It looks so pretty with big fluffy clouds and sunny skies.  You would think it was spring.  Then I opened the door and the high 90 degree heat and 70% humidity hit me like a frying pan in the face"?  Well, DITTO again this week!

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE
A scrambled egg and coffee.

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE
I'm pleased to see most things are orderly, but I spent ALL of Saturday and most of Sunday doing a deep clean!

WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS
We met with the contractor for the jobs (re-texture the kitchen ceiling, hang the new front door and jamb on the "OLD" house, master bedroom window installation and living room wall crack) we decided to have done because we are just plain getting tired and are waiting for their bids so are doing a bunch of small "finish" projects while we wait.  So for this week:
  • Finish building the actual water closet.  The door is installed, the plumbing has been reworked and the new gas line is in proper place.We just need to build the side wall for e enclosure, but ran out of parts.
  • MORE caulking on the molding.  It really sucks doing the whole house at once.  Seems like that the projects are NEVER done, especially when you need multiple coats to do in each room and need drying time between each coat.
  • Install new pantry floor.
We hired out the plumbing/water heater move and regretted it as we have had to rework a good deal of it.  This picture was a before/midway shot.
We laid the remaining floor and started installing the walls.
LOVE the new connector box and updated plumbing!  GREAT water pressure now that the galvanized piping is NO more.
This is one of the things we had to rework.  They ran the gas connector way TOO tight AND right through the middle of the broom closet to be. It just burns when you pay to have a job done by a professional and it gets done wrong.  Originally they had the emergency drain running right through the broom closet portion too.  Thank goodness I walked into the room BEFORE they refilled the water heater.  The estimator is a good guy, but the installers were NOT following his design or using common sense and logic! They also did NOT have ALL the correct parts with them!
We changed the gas line to the longer length for proper and safe installation so it hugs the wall and adjusted for the broom closet portion.
We got the walls installed, molding installed and hung the cabinet so we could get the washer and dryer hooked back up.  We still need to finish the actual water closet and wall.
The pantry was built 40 years ago and in my opinion was only supposed to house boxed and canned foods, not fresh so it was holding TOO much heat. I decided to perform surgery and get creative to solve that problem.  I cut a hole ALL the way through the door and repainted it adding 2 new layers of chalkboard paint.  Then I added a decorative shutter to the front and a decorative tin sheet to the back for venting.
CURRENTLY READING
TELEVISION / DVR
Haven't been watching too much of anything specific.  We have actually been "catching" up on OLD reruns!

CRAFTS & PROJECTS
I am STILL hoping to start a few projects, but I have my doubts LOL. The time just seems to go too fast these days.  A lot will depend on whether we hire the contractor for the other projects.

KITCHEN WISHES
I'm still organizing, but think I'm finally feeling pretty good overall about the condition of the kitchen. I did recently purchase a Chef Tony bacon pan and am really glad I did.  I'm now calling it the baconator. Bacon always takes so long to cook and is so messy cooking in the grease and then draining on paper towels. This pan eliminates ALL of this while also giving you 20 minutes to prepare the rest of breakfast while it is in the oven.  I LOVE it!

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK
I'm trying another entire week of experiments.

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
YOGURT & FRUIT
SCRAMBLED EGGS & CHEESE
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
YOGURT & FRUIT
MAPLE OATMEAL & RAISINS
OVERNIGHT BREAKFAST PIE
BACON & EGGS
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP & CRACKERS
SANDWICH
OUT
MEAT & CHEESE
LEFTOVERS
SANDWICHES
DINNER
JOE BOOKER STEW
CHICKEN & DUMPLINGS
C.O.R.N.
SALISBURY STEAK with CAULIFLOWER CHEDDAR BISCUITS
GRILLED CHICKEN AND ONION KEBABS with SALAD
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
DESSERT







SUCCESSFUL RECIPES and their links FROM LAST WEEK
ON MY MIND/PRAYER LIST
I'm so upset by what is going on in this country and the world.  I CANNOT even begin to understand what is going on in people's minds that they can believe it is okay to take another life or create so much violence and upheaval in their own communities. ALL LIVES MATTER. As a woman of faith I know this will get worse before it gets better, but can't help praying that people will change their ways instead.

THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY
Despite my frustration at things taking too long to get completed around here, I am still happy with ALL the little projects that are getting done lately. I worked ALL weekend on of potential ebay sales items and going through Christmas ornaments.  I have decided that most things just aren't worth the time and effort so will be donating tons more items and probably extending the minimizing project yet another month. We are at over 4936 items in the last  84 days! AND still counting.

I'm also putting together some boxes of items for nieces and nephews of especially Christmas ornaments I think they will like.


FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA
Finally found a quilt to match my favorite pillows that my SIL Amy made last Christmas.
INSPIRATION
Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday and with Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.