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Experiments in the Kitchen

One of the things I’ve learned after a few years of cooking for myself on a consistent basis is that the week always goes better if I’ve got a plan.  Whether it’s not knowing what to make, or not having all of the ingredients, it’s the worst to have to go to the grocery store multiple times a week or resort to eating out (especially on a tight budget).  One of the chores for the weekend is to plan out the whole week and go shopping.

Yesterday I was in the mood to try a few new recipes, and so I picked a few from this list that sounded interesting.  65 Cheap, Healthy, One-Dish Meals with Good Leftover Potential. . . what’s not to love about that?  Genius.  

First up, Shrimp-and-Rice Stuffed Tomatoes.  After I went shopping, this was the recipe I was most excited to make, so i did.  🙂

Rice, tomatoes, onions and garlic, lemon, oregano, feta cheese, and shrimp. Sounds simple enough, and it really was.  There were a few things I did that were slightly different than the recipe, but nothing drastic.  First, I only had basmati rice, so I used that.  Also, the tomatoes I found were outrageous mutant enormous tomatoes, so I only got three.  Also, I got raw shrimp still in the peel, so I had to peel and de-vein it myself.  This can be a little bit time consuming, but it’s really not hard, and it makes the shrimp much cheaper (I got a half pound for something like three dollars and change).  If you’ve never had to clean shrimp before, this video is a good tutorial.  

Because I only had three tomatoes, I had some extra stuffing at the end, so I just filled a ramekin and baked it in that.  I baked the ramekin about 10 minutes less than the tomatoes.  The reason I felt the need to share the recipe was that it was really delicious and satisfying for a little bit of work and time.  I love recipes that are a high rate of delicious return on your small investment of time/money.  They turned out great! The stuffing on top got browned and a little bit crunchy, the cheese got soft, and the shrimp were really tender. It was a nice light summery meal.  

Also, I was in the mood for a cocktail, and the peaches grabbed my attention in the produce aisle, so I made Peach Margaritas following Martha’s recipe.  The first step was to cut up the peaches and let them soak in sugar, a little bit of salt and triple sec.

I could have eaten them out of the bowl just like this!

After tequila, lime, and the blender. I’m not fancy enough to have actual margarita glasses, so I’m living it up with plastic tumbler. haha

They turned out pretty well too!  It was a really great summer evening meal.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Settling in. . . Slowly

We finally finished our mega road trip to Houston on Saturday afternoon after spending the night in Little Rock, AR.  I have never in my life been happier to get out of the car!  Just about 1400 miles over three days, and I was thrilled that nothing catastrophic happened with the trailer or hitch.

“Welcome to Texas”

It only took about an hour to empty the trailer and car into the apartment, but I’m on the second floor, so it was pretty good exercise.  We just dumped everything in the dining room to be sorted out later.

The giant pile in the dining room

Driving with all of that extra weight felt really weird, and I was more than happy to get rid of the empty trailer Saturday evening, walk to dinner and have a glass of wine, and fall into bed.  (For those of you who are interested, this list worked like a charm.  We were able to shower, have a snack and go to bed without having to dig through all the boxes.  I did, however, forget shower rings, so you should probably add that to your list so you won’t have to jury-rig the curtain with duct tape like we did 🙂  )

It was really nice to have my parents stick around for the whole day Sunday to help me get set up a little bit.  We made a big trip to Target to fill in some of the holes.  One of the biggest jobs I wanted to get done right away was to put Contact paper in in all of the shelves and drawers, and it turns out my mom is a pro!

It felt good to accomplish something and start setting up the kitchen.  Hey, it’s    the little things.

 

 

 

 

We went out to dinner Sunday night at a local chain, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, which is Creole/New Orleans food.  It was delicious, and a great way to spend a relaxed last night with my parents.

The parents at Pappadeaux (nice alliteration)

After I dropped them off at the airport really early this morning, I got to work on putting the kitchen together, and then I ran a bunch of errands.  I’ll show you some of the cool stuff I found for my place in a post soon!

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Moving, organizing

 

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My New Life as a Minimalist

Just kidding.  There is something about packing to move that makes me want to call it quits and just start over though.  I’ve know that I am moving since about April, and I’ve tried to go about it in a logical and organized way, but let’s be real.  It’s way more fun to hang out with friends than to price out different moving box options.  Having had bad and disorganized experiences before, I vowed that this time would be different.  With just a little bit of time and planning, I’ve managed to save myself most of the stress, I think (although moving day isn’t here yet, and there are still plenty of things that could go wrong).  All in all, there is still just a lot of stuff!!

The monster pile in the corner of my living room that’s growing slowly as I get more things boxed up.

Anyone who knows me well won’t be surprised by the fact that I’ve been googling some variation of the phrase “how to organize a move” for the last three months or so.  Here are the best tips and ideas I found that might be helpful for anyone else planning to move soon:

  1. Be RUTHLESS!!!  Long before I actually needed to pack things up, I went through my closet, shoe rack and bookshelves, trashing or donating anything I don’t absolutely need, use often, or love. It means there is way less to deal with now, which is certainly a good thing!
  2. Buy boxes in bulk:  I found the best kit for my needs on Overstock.com ; they had a packing kit with 20 boxes, some paper and bubble wrap for $45, which is better than a lot of other places I had looked.  Also, when the kit arrived, it included a permanent marker and a box cutter:  bonus!!
  3. MarthaStewart.com  shows you how to cut handles in plain cardboard boxes that don’t have any.  An inverted triangle is supposed to be the best because it won’t compromise the integrity of the box too much, and makes it way easier to pick up.
  4. The final tip that sounds like a great idea to me is the idea of a Pack Last, Open First Box.  This is all the stuff you’ll need for your first 24 hours in the new place.  Obviously, I’m not there yet so I can’t tell you how convenient it is, but having it planned out in advance makes me feel like I’ll be less lost in a sea of boxes when I arrive.  Also, I love a good list, and so I used the handy tool at PrintableChecklist.org  to come up with a checklist for said box.  There is something so satisfying about taking a big black marker to an actual paper list.  After reading a few variations online, I compiled the items I liked best into the one that works for me.  If you want to use my checklist, here it is:  Pack Last Open First Checklist.

Hopefully some of that will be helpful for someone else, too.  Is there anything else you can think of that I forgot to mention?

Moving day is only three days away, so it’s time for me to get back to work!

-Kathleen

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Moving

 

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