Monday, January 31, 2011

If only

If I could change one thing about me, I would either give myself better hair or make myself shorter. The making myself shorter thing is pretty obvious: hello, I'm really tall. While many people, especially the short people, think that it would be fantastic to be tall, and I've become much more ok with my height in the last few years, I want to be able to wear fantastically awesome high heels, without making myself 6'6". And without making myself taller than my handsome husband.

As for the hair thing, I have naturally very thin and wispy hair which makes it really flat and stringy. For the past several years, I've tried to rectify the problem by getting a perm.

Yikes. There. I said it. Secrets out.

If I can just get through the first 3 or 4 months of crazy curlies, the perm stays with me for at least a year and a half, just making my hair less thin/wispy/flat and a lot easier to do stuff with. Additionally, because it is so thin and wispy, the ends split like its nobody's business. I swear its worse than the normal person. Anyway, my ends were fried and since my mom was in town this past weekend, she gave me a haircut and lopped all of them off, taking a nice chunk of my hair with it. Well, the residual effects of the perm I think are pretty much gone, and so its wispy flat thin again, and now shorter which makes it worse, but to add insult to injury, the very next day after the haircut I was just looking at a chunk of my hair, and what do I see? Big ole split ends up the wazoo.

This is just not ideal. Even if the general population may or may not really notice, the whole thing drive me nuts!

January Roundup

So here's my report on my food/meal making project for the month of January. Sorry there are no pictures.

Basil Chicken in a Coconut Curry Sauce
Ok so this one I technically made before I decided to do this project thingy, but it was completely new and fantastically delicious, so I'm including it. Spiced up chicken stir fried with onions, jalapenos and garlic, served in a coconut milk based sauce over hot rice... yeah that's what I'm talking about. We both really enjoyed it and I'll definitely be making it again.
Source of recipe: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Caramelized Shallots
In reading different food blogs written by people who know what they're talking about, shallots has come up several times as succulent and delicious. If you're like me and hadn't heard of them until recently, they're basically small onion-ish thingys. This dish was pretty straightforward: saute shallots in oil and butter, add some vinegar and sugar and let it go. Here's the thing. It wasn't bad, but there was still enough of an onion-y sort of taste to it, even when caramelized in butter and some sugar, that you didn't want to eat too many of them. Maybe its just that we don't have refined enough tastes. I think they would be great combined with something else instead being meant to stand completely on its own. That said, I would be up to experimenting with them some more in the future.
Source of recipe: Barefoot in Paris Cookbook

Craisin and White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Ok, so this wasn't really on my list, it just kind of happened one day, but again, it was something new that I've never made before. There wasn't anything particularly special about the recipe, but I still thought they were delicious, as did Matthew. I actually made part of them without white chocolate chips for Matthew (he's not a white chocolate guy, poor thing), and I also decided to roll the balls of dough in sugar before putting them on the baking sheet, which I think was a worthy decision.
Source of recipe: The back of a Craisins bag from Costco

Real Hot Chocolate
Lately I've really enjoyed drinking a cup of hot chocolate in the evenings, so when I realized  that I could make hot cocoa from scratch, I obviously made it the next day. It was everything I could have hoped and dreamed of and more: rich and creamy and chocolately. Loved it. Matthew thought it was a little too dark, but still fine. He's not as much of a hot cocoa person as I am anyway. I put in a little more sugar than what the recipe says, so I already had made it less dark than intended, but oh well. I certainly don't mind making it just for myself.
Source of recipe: The Food Network's Barefoot Contessa  
 Note: Don't worry, I didn't put in coffee like it says in the recipe. I also just used 2% milk.

Again, this is something I've only been made aware of recently (thanks mostly to the TV show Hell's Kitchen), but was intrigued with it and decided to make it when I found a nice tutorial for it online. Apparently the trick is to stand and stir in small amounts of liquid into the rice for 20-30 minutes, then you add in cream and cheese (at least that's what we did). Our opinions on the end result varied: Matthew thought that the rice tasted fantastic when it was just chicken broth soaked rice, but did not like the strong cheese flavor of the finished product. I thought it was pretty good, although I will agree that the romano cheese did end up being a little overpowering. I think in the future I will only put in 1/2 or even 1/3 as much cheese so the cheese flavor doesn't overwhelm so much. It will be something I make again though, and I think that changing the amount of cheese will make it just about perfect.
Source of recipe: The Pioneer Woman cooking blog

Outback Restaurant Style Rye Bread
This was a good loaf of bread, although not exactly like Outback Steakhouse bread. It was a little more dense, perhaps, than their bread, although not too dense. The recipe I was following called for 4 cups of flour, 2 of rye and 2 of white. But after putting that in, the dough was still suuuuuuupper runny, so I added more flour (somewhere between 2 and 3 cups is my guess) until the dough looked more like dough and less like batter. Obviously this made it denser, but it would definitely not have made good bread if I had just left it at 4 cups. Anyway, it turned out good, and we've used the bread to make toasted rye turkey sandwiches a couple of nights, which has been super fantastic. I'm sure there are some other fun sandwiches or other things I could make with the rye bread as well.
Source of recipe: Grains Galore, a stake cookbook from my sister-in-law
Ok, well that's all for January. I put in the links for where I found the recipes for the risotto and hot chocolate above, if you're interested. I think I will also include the recipe for the basil/coconut/curry chicken below, if anyone is interested.

Basil Chicken in a Coconut Curry Sauce
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 of a large red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 13.5 or 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
3 Tbsp snipped fresh basil (I just used dried)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger

In a medium bowl, combine curry powder, black pepper, 1/4 tsp salt and chili powder. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces or so. Add spice mixture, toss to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow spices to penetrate meat.
Pour oil into a large skillet, heat over medium-high heat. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic, cook and stir about 8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from skillet. Add half the chicken to skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken, then remove from skillet as well.
Stir together coconut milk, cornstarch and 1/4 tsp salt until smooth. Carefully add to skillet. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Return chicken and the onion mixture to skillet. Stir in basil and ginger. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve over hot rice.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

'nother one bites the dust

Whelp, another month has just about gone by. Apparently that means I'm 7 months pregnant... say what?!
I feel like I look really tired in this picture. I think that's because I was really tired when we took this. Go figure.

A few more words. First of all, since (so far) everything is looking really good with the pregnancy, the doctors are saying that maybe they'll let me go to 39 weeks instead of 37 weeks [although since this is still a ways off, things could totally change and anything could happen]. Anyway, since 39 weeks falls on March 31, it wouldn't be too hard to imagine a scenario where the baby actually arrives on April 1. April Fools Day. I would really not want that to happen, Matthew on the other hand thinks that an April Fools baby would be the best thing ever:

"I could tell everyone we had the baby and no one would believe me! But it would be real! It would be so awesome!"
"One year we could pretend to forget her birthday!"
"We could name her Jessica Kate so her initials would be JK!"

Our poor baby.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I won't call it a resolution but...

Yesterday I felt the urge to look through one of my cookbooks again and mark a few recipes that sounded intriguing. Somewhere in between making lists of various food items/recipes and showing Matthew some of the things I had marked, Matthew had a suggestion-- that I make at least one new thing each week for the rest of the year. After a few moments of reflection, I decided that I liked the idea, so I'm gonna do it! (Don't judge, I like to cook)

Some general guidelines for this project are as follows:
1. What I make doesn't matter so much as long as it is a recipe or version of a recipe that I haven't made before.
2. I'm mostly going to try to do main dishes/side dishes sorts of things. Although there will definitely be  desserts and breads and appetizers and stuff in there too.
3. A slight amendment to my #1 point: The sorts of things that I want to try out are generally not three ingredient dishes--I want most of the things I try to be a little more involved than a casserole or putting some spices on a piece of chicken. (Not that those aren't tasty, just not the sort of things I'm going to be focusing on)
4. Oh hey turns out I'm going to have a baby in a few months! So obviously there will be a few weeks when nothing much will happen. Although, you never know, because if I have my mom out here with me for a while she may be up for trying some new stuff. The point is that we're not going to be unreasonable about fulfilling this during the end of March and beginning of April.
5. I may post some of the things we make if they are great successes or failures. We'll see how many make it up here. 

Anywho, I have a list of recipes from various cookbooks, blogs, friends and other sources that are just dying to be made. Here we go!

the way we roll

Yesterday during Sunday School we ended up in the Strengthening Marriage and Family class. For an introductory activity they passed out two pieces of chocolate per couple to the husbands in the class, with strict instructions that they were to keep them safe from the women. Apparently we're just not trustworthy with chocolate I guess. Haha. Anyway, at this point they made some sort of connection between no one likes it when you don't share the chocolate and one person has all the control over the chocolate in the relationship and then how would either of you feel if this was how the money/finances was managed, with one person having complete control.

Anyway, Matthew and I were kinda cracking up at this point because this is exactly what our relationship is like, at least in regards to a particular kind of chocolate: mini Cadbury eggs. I've written before about my love affair with mini Cadbury eggs, I believe. Anyway, with most treats and chocolate I have some degree of self control, but I swear it all goes down the drain when it comes to these chocolates. I'm pretty sure I could eat a whole bag by myself in a day or two. I know this because I've done it, and at that point we were just like,"Dang, I have no self control with these candies." So now we have a good system worked out. I give the bag of chocolate to Matthew, he hides it somewhere in bedroom or spare bedroom or wherever, and whenever I want some, I ask him to bring me a few. Maybe it sounds a little weird, but hey it makes my bag of candies last a whole lot longer this way. So it works.

The end.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas Part 4

The final edition:

Thermals are my Best Friend

So I mentioned that we went up north in Minnesota. The big thing that we did was go snowmobiling!!!!!!!! Oh me oh my it was delightful. Tuesday we had three snowmobiles for the 8 of us (even Nathan went on the snowmobiles). We had a fun time cruising around this huge frozen lake for a while, then decided to go on a trek on some trails and go up to a lodge thingy about 30 miles away to eat and stuff. 

The trails were absolutely beautiful, and it was fun driving around with my handsome hubby. 
This is us, if you can't tell
This last picture is from the actual trails. Like I mentioned it was absolutely beautiful. We were out in the middle of the snow-covered wilderness. All the snow was white, none of this yucky dirty snow that you find everywhere else. There were tons of ice covered lakes and the primarily evergreen and birch trees had snow on the branches. It was cold, but we wore tons of layers and had thermals and stuff, so we stayed pretty warm, actually.

After this last picture was taken is when our trek became really interesting. So we had three snowmobiles, and Matthew and I were on the last one. My parents and Nathan (in the first snowmobile) had a map, as did we, of all the trails, but my dad still had been stopping whenever there was a fork or turn just to make sure we were taking the right turn. The maps weren't that fantastic, that's all I'm saying. 

So we started going along again, and since we were going on a long stretch without turnoffs, we didn't stop for several miles. During that time, Matthew and I got quite a bit behind everyone else. We were going just a little bit slower, and then stopped for a few minutes to get another scarf out of Matthew's backpack for me. We got to a spot where there was a turn in the path, but we figured dad would have stopped if he had turned. So we kept going, but then looked at the map and realized we should have turned, and the snowmobile tracks in the snow didn't look like fresh tracks so we turned around and went back to the correct trail. We kept thinking we'd eventually catch up with the family, but we never did. We decided that instead of taking random trails to try and find them we'd just go to the rendez-vous point at the Hungry Jack Lodge. Well, we got there, and they weren't there. Hmm... so we talked to the bartender there, called a couple of other places where they might have gone to, ate, filled up with gas, consulted the bartender about the path back and went on our merry way. We figured they were probably doing the same thing at a different location and that we'd see them back at the cabin. Well... we get back to the cabin and they aren't there. In fact, they didn't get home for another 2 hours. Turns out my family had a much crazier time than we did after we got separated. 
This just cracks me up. Such a big helmet on such a small boy.

After we got separated, my family kept going along the path that Matthew and I had deemed was the wrong one. However, they thought they were going the right way, and they got pretty dang lost. Then they got all worried because we never showed up, and they thought that we were lost. Then, when trying to turn around to maybe come find us, their snowmobiles got stuck in the snow drifts. When they got unstuck, they left Aaron and Ryan on the side of the trail, in the snow, in the dark (this trek ended up taking many hours of the afternoon and evening--about 8 for my parents, and 6 for us) at an intersection just in case we drove by. The rest of my fam kept going to try and find... I don't remember what. Something. Then, one of the snowmobiles ran out of gas, so my dad and Nathan stayed with the snowmobile while my mom took the running one to try and find someone or something. Keep in mind that at this point, its dark, my family doesn't really know where they are and they are in the middle of the deserted wilderness with no cell phone reception. Luckily, within a few miles my mom came across a random B&B that very nicely gave her some gas to take back to the other snowmobile and showed her exactly where she was and how to get to a Trailcenter. So they fill up with gas, get dad and Nathan, pick up Aaron and Ryan and finally make it to the trail center. By the way, they totally are worried about me and Matthew, whether we know where we're going and whether we've run out of gas and whatnot. When they're at the trail center, the nice people there decide to call up to the lodge where we were and the nice bartender we talked to told them we were there, ate and had left half an hour ago. 
Trying to keep this long story short, they stop worrying and are able to get back to the cabin where we were waiting for them just fine. When Matthew and I heard their story and how potentially they could have been in a really bad situation and how worried they were about us, we felt a little bad about how not worried we had been about them. We just figured that they were fine and just in a different spot than we were. We had no idea the crazy adventure they'd been having!! My poor dad felt so bad about losing us. It took a long time to convince him that it really was ok. Luckily, Matthew is a very fantastic map reader, although seriously, the maps we had were not that great. We took a couple of wrong turns ourselves, although we figured out our mistakes pretty quickly.

Anyway, despite all that craziness we still agreed we had a really fun time. It just makes the trip that much more memorable. The next day we had a lot of fun on the snowmobiles again, cruising around the lake and nearby trails. We even found a little hut thing on the side of a trail with a firepit, and so we made a fire and cooked up some food and stuff for a few hours that night. It was beautiful. And amazing. And not that cold, actually.
 Yes, that is all of us on the roof. We are so cool.

I've never been to northern Minnesota in the winter, and I've never been snowmobiling before, but I have to say this trip has made me a believer in both of them. It was nothing but the best of times! 

Thanks for bearing with me on the long, long-winded post :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas : Part 3

Holiday Jingling
(Kansas edition)

First of all, Matthew won the award for receiving the most random present this year. His brother gave him a book called "Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah: Planning the Perfect Day. Turning 13 is fun!" Hey you never know when you might have to plan an event like that!

Also, it turns out that in Lawrence, Kansas there is one of those houses that is decorated in lights that is coordinated to holiday music. Seriously how cool is that? We went and saw it one night... you actually have to wait in line in your car to be able to pull up to the house and watch. And, it wasn't just one song, these people had a whole show going on. We're talking five or six or something songs. Awesome!

Actually there was a second lighted song house that we went to too... but this place was kinda sketch. All I'm saying is there was a lighted angel hanging above the door, but it totally just looked like a creepy ghost.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Saga: Part 2

Welcome to today's edition of our holiday adventures, entitled

Every Christmas my parents do a "Santa present" for all of the Thibatots. Last year it was the puppy, one year it was a computer, etc. This year my parents gave us a Christmas break vacation to northern Minnesota to go snowmobiling, snowshoeing, stay at a cool cute cabin by a frozen over lake... and go on a sleigh ride!

That's right. Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh. Except in our case, the sleigh was pulled by two very large horses. Oh the excitement.

 We got all loaded up with blankets and everything, and our friendly drivers took us all over a snowy path through the quiet forest. It was gorgeous!
 After the ride our hosts invited us into their warm house for some homemade hot cocoa. Very atmospheric.

 And to make this story even more exciting, while we were driving up to the place, we came around a curve and there right in front of us was a moose! A huggggge moose! We watched it lumber to the other side of the road and disappear into the forest. Here moosy moosy moosey!

Here's the preview for the next episode... two words: Bar Mitzvah

Frumpty dumpty

Ok lets talk about maternity clothes for two seconds. I've reached the stage where, no matter how frumpty dumpty it feels, I need pants with the stretchy waistband. (Actually I love my stretchy waistband pants. They are super comfortable).

Anyway, I have a couple of pairs of pants and I bought a few shirts, although I have yet to need to wear the maternity shirts. But nary a skirt! I've gone to a bunch of stores, both thrift and department stores and Target, etc, and I swear, no skirts or dresses. (Although I have yet to go to DI. Maybe that's the solution??) I have exactly one pre-pregnancy skirt left that will sort of fit, but I've worn it 3 Sundays in a row (But those Sundays were all in different wards, so its totally legit), and the clock is ticking on it as well. 

So I'm just really confused. We live in Utah county. There are tons of pregnant girls here, as I have blogged about before, and probably oh like 90% of these girls go to church on a regular basis. Where are they finding skirts? Where are they hiding? Why can't I find them too??

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Saga: Part 1

This year's Christmas adventures will be brought to you in 4 editions! Part 1 is entitled

"Airports and Gong Shows"

We stayed a week in Kansas (it was super fun), and then were going to fly to Minnesota late in the afternoon Christmas day. It's only an hour and a half flight, and doing it this way meant we would have a more even amount of time with both our families. We just can't pick favorites yet.

Well we got to the airport and saw our flight was delayed 1/2 hour. No big deal, right? Then an hour later we find out that our flight got canceled, yes canceled, on Christmas day because there was a problem with the de-icing mechanism. Say what?! What a gong show. First of all, there were like 3 flights in the whole airport that day, why can't you just pull out another airplane? And second, the flight was canceled instead of further delayed because they had to fly a mechanic in from Minneapolis to fix it. Do they not have mechanics in Kansas City? I'm still really confused on that one...

We ended up staying the night in a hotel in Kansas City and getting free dinner there. If it hadn't been Christmas, it wouldn't have been such a bad deal. The hotel was decent enough (it was a Hilton). We also got travel vouchers to use in the future. That made me feel a little better. At least a little bit.

We caught a super early flight the next morning and were at my house in Minnesota by 9:00am. My dad, being the nostalgic that he is, put everyone's candy and treat bags back in the stockings and put them back out by the Christmas tree so we could all open them together. They saved out some of the presents for everyone there, in addition to the ones for Matthew and I. Basically we had a second Christmas morning. My dad suggested to my brothers that he would just re-wrap all of the presents they had already opened, but put different name tags on them so they would be surprised for the second Christmas morning. The thing is, with my dad, you hope he's kidding about something like that, but because it could fall under the category of "nostalgic" or "memorable" or something like that, you're just never quite sure.

Fast forward to the end of the following week: New Years Day morning when we were supposed to fly back to Utah. Well, we decided we really didn't want to go back yet, and since the nice travel lady that my mom talked to saw that we had had problems on Christmas day, she rebooked us at no extra charge for very late on New Years. Here's where the gong show really starts banging. We were thinking about going back on Monday morning, but Matthew didn't want to miss any of his classes on the first day, and not come back minutes before he had to jump right into things. So we came back Saturday. Again, no big deal. However, Monday morning, Matthew goes up to school and all his classrooms are locked and the professors aren't really around. School didn't start until Tuesday. We totally could have stayed 2 extra days.

That is why life is just a gong show sometimes. At first you're all like 'oh cool gongs!' And then after 10 minutes you're thinking 'oh my goodness make it stop!'

Not meaning to end this post on a negative note, I will say that despite some bumps, everything was fun and worked out. Stay tuned for Christmas Saga: Part 2...I'll give you a sneak preview. Part 2 involves hats that look like this:
It's going to be legendary!