Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 5.


Last week went mostly as planned, though we didn't end up ordering pizza. Instead, I made ribs, chicken wings, AND potato skins. And yes, we're both planning to work out extra tomorrow. Yipes! Also on Friday I added a blackberry cobbler to our Stout stew and it was a nice cozy ending to our snowy day. Sunday I did pork with some leftover wild rice I had from the chicken and rice casserole, some roasted carrots (the other half of the bag that went in the stew), and for some reason made mac and cheese because I saw a picture of one and it was FANTASTIC.

Monday: I'm going to make some baked chicken, sauteed spinach, and we'll have some leftover macaroni and cheese I made Sunday night (and HOLY crap, it was good. Go HERE for recipe).

Tuesday: OCF- I think we're having sandwiches.

Wednesday: Matthew is in charge, and has been asking to have his mom's tater tot casserole. I have consented, against my better judgment. Hehe, no, I think it will be good, though BAD for us. I'll put that together during the day and he can toss it in the oven when he gets home from work!

Thursday: Burger night! We haven't had one in a while and I'm having an uninspired week so voila!

Friday: Valentine's dinner at church- no cooking at home tonight!

Saturday: Calzones or pizza... we'll use stuff we already have, and I'll make the crust.

Sunday: Super bowl! Gotta be Chili.

Happy cooking and eating!

Cook this Soon!

I suggest you make this at some point in the near future. This no-kneed bread is simple, satisfying, and lasts for several days. The penne with roasted vegetables and italian sausage is easy to adapt to what you have in your fridge, and the leftovers are great! If you're not interested in the bread, just skip down to the pasta recipe!

First, you'll want to take care of the bread since it takes 12-18 hours to do its thing. This take forethought, but very little effort. This recipe is taken directly from Jim Lahey's My Bread: The Revolutionary no-work, no-knead method. You'll need:

3 Cups Bread Flour (or, if you're being precise, 400 grams)
1 1/4 tsps table salt (not kosher. 8 grams)
1/4 tsp instant or other active dry yeast (1 g)
1 1/3 C cool water (55-65 degrees F. 300 g)
wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting (I've only used flour as of yet)

Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Add water and using your hand or a wooden spoon, combine until you have a wet and sticky dough. If you've made other breads this will seem extremely wet for a dough. If your dough doesn't seem really wet, add a bit of water (by the Tablespoon). Cover that business with some plastic wrap or a tea cloth, and let 'er be at room temp for 12-18 hours. I've been leaving mine for at least 18 hours because we leave our house at 68 degrees which is a bit cool. If yours is warmer you could do less, but basically you want it to double in size. If your house is cooler, you might think about letting it sit for 24 hours. Bottom line: give it time!

You'll know it is ready when it is doubled in size, bubbly on top, and has a slightly darkened color to the top. You're letting the bread ferment over this time, and it gives a really nice flavor. The ingredients are simple, but that bit of yeast and the time you give it really make a difference!

When your bread is ready at this point, dump it out on a floured surface. You'll notice the dough clinging to your bowl with long threads of dough-- this is the gluten at work! Pull it out of the bowl with a spoon, bowl scraper, or hands (I use hands and a spatula), and do NOT add more flour. It is wet and sticky and you want it this way! Pull the edges under to form a round ball of dough.

Place a cloth napkin or tea towel on the workspace and generously dust it with flour (I put a layer of plastic wrap down because the last time I made it, though I dusted it thoroughly, it developed into the cloth). Lay the dough down and fold the wrap and cloth loosely over the dough. Let rise another 1-2 hours or until about doubled.

About a half hour before the second rise is done, preheat your oven to 450-475 (based on how your oven runs. I do 450) and place your 4.5-5.5 qt. heavy pot inside the oven. When the second rise is ready and your oven is too, pull out the pot (careful, that baby is HOT!). Dust the dough with flour or bran or your choice, and carefully move the dough into the hot pot, seam side up. Pop that sucker, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes. After 30, uncover and let cook another 15-30 until it is a "chestnut" color. I've been cooking mine about 10-15 more to get a slightly lighter crust. Pull it out when done and move to a cooling wrack (don't let cool in the pot or it'll continue to cook-- trust me). Let it cool at least an hour-- you'll hear it crackling, and according to Lahey, this is an important part of the cooking and if you cut it while it is hot you're destroying the loaf! So resist!

You'll have a pretty good looking loaf and can slice it how you wish. I found slicing it like this (below) is best because you get just the right amount of crust to bread. Lahey slices his like a pie, which is tasty too.
So that is the bread, and here is the main dish:

Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Penne
Adapted from Melissa D'Abrabian's recipe of the same name

1 onion, cut into wedges
1 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise
1 red bell pepper quartered, cheeks and core removed
1/2 pound button mushrooms (or portobellos, etc)
1 head of garlic, top sliced off
2 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, washed and dried
2 sweet or hot Italian sausages, casings removed and thinly sliced (if you don't eat sausage you could try turkey kielbasa, tofu, etc. Whatever you like!)
1/4-1/3 Cup white wine
1 or 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
12 ounces whole-grain penne, cooked. *Reserve 1/2 pasta water!
Freshly grated Parmesan

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the vegetables together in a bowl (except the tomaties and garlic) with about a Tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. You want to leave them in larger pieces to roast and then after they're roasted, you'll chop 'em up! Spread the onions, zucchini, red pepper, and mushrooms on a baking sheet (you may want to spray with cooking spray). Place the garlic on the sheet, sliced side up. Roast in over for 25-30 minutes, then add the tomatoes on and roast another 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye out to make sure they don't get too crispy! Take those babies out, let them cool a few minutes, and chop them up. Pull out the cloves of garlic and chop them too, or just smash them. If they get brown, don't add that part (it may be bitter). The whole clove may seem like a lot, but roasting it sweetens and lightens the flavor and it don't be overwhelming.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the sausage and saute until it is cooked through. Turn up the heat and deglaze your pan with the white wine. You can use a bit more or less than is called for. If you don't have white wine you could use chicken broth, but just keep in mind that you'll definitely lose some of the fantastic flavor that wine brings. Add 1-2 Tbsp. of tomato paste (I like the super concentrated Amore brand-- it keeps for quite a while in the fridge and comes in a hand tube) and stir in. (Note: If you've used sweet sausages or something other than hot sausages, you might want to add about a half tsp. or red chili flakes in-- it'll give it a nice subtle kick.)

Chop up the vegetables and add them to the pan. Let that all simmer together a bit and add some of the pasta water to loosen things up if you need to. Toss in some salt and pepper, and then add in your cooked pasta. If you are making this for two people (like I always am!) you can half the amount of pasta, but you may want to just make the sauce as is-- leftovers are delicious!

Now, serve and enjoy! Top with some salty parmesan cheese, and have at it! A slice of the no-kneed bread goes really well with it.

ENJOY! Let me know if you make it, how it turns out, and what you do to it to make it your own!

Pictorial: Food I Been Cookin.

For the New Year I made Matthew a chocolate pie.
If you like chocolate pie, this is a pretty darn satisfying recipe, and it is muy easy too.
Butter and sugar:

Add melted chocolate:
Add eggs:

Pour into crust:

Topped with some whipped cream and chocolate curls.

That little feller turned out real nice. Check out the recipe here.

Another thing I've tried out a few times lately is no-kneed bread. I got an awesome book for my birthday (Thanks Staci! Courtesy of your giftcard!) that I've been reading about, and now I have it in me hot little hands. It is pretty much the easiest bread recipe ever. Take flour, water, salt, and a bit of yeast, combine in a bowl. Leave it alone for 12-18 hours. shape into a ball, leave for second rise. Heat a dutch oven or ceramic pot, and then dump the bread into it. Cook it up, and voila:

It doesn't look super pretty, but it is much like Tuscan bread when all is said and done. The first one I made I kind of over did and the crust got a bit tough. I made another one last week, and it turned out SO well!

Kitty break!

Here is the second loaf:

Beautiful! And I even messed it up a little- forgot to use bread flour and instead used regular, and yet, it worked! Woot!

The dinner I made with the bread was a roasted vegetable and Italian sausage over penne. REALLY good. I'll post the recipe in a bit.

I've decided to try new recipes every week, and for some reason I thought a banana dessert would be good. It was certainly limited ingredients that I already had, and quick. What I neglected was the fact that Matthew and I both dislike cooked bananas. For some reason I thought we might get past that with this dessert.

Well, we didn't.
They are sauteed bananas with sweet and tangy cream. The sauce was really great, and the glaze on the bananas was nice. It is an orangey glaze and I happened to use a blood orange which I thought was going to be pretty, but actually turned out to look a little bit like a robitussin glaze. hah. But if you like sauteed bananas, this would be a decent and quick dessert.

That concludes this portion of Food I Been Cookin :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week 4.

Monday: Roasted vegetable and sausage over wheat penne*. No-kneed bread. Carmelized bananas and tangy-sweet cream sauce*.

Tuesday: Bible study! Someone else gets to feed us :)

Wednesday: Chicken and wild rice casserole with green beans on the side (and salad for me).

Thursday: Another Battalion sponsored evening-- at least we think! If this changes I'll update.

Friday: Beef and Stout Stew (basically Guinness stew)

Saturday: Matthew has requested delivery pizza. I suppose my hands are tied and I'll leave it to Papa John.

Sunday: I have pork chops in the freezer, so I'll be doing something with those boys!

And there you have it! This week we'll be eating out left over ham from last week in omelets and various breakfast items, and Matthew will have it for lunch too. I'm polishing off our spinach from last week in omelets and scrambled eggs this week too.

We've also remembered smoothies and are reincorporating those. I make easy and pretty cheap and healthy smoothies using frozen fruit, fat free plain yogurt, a tsp. or brown sugar, and a 1/4 or less of milk. Tonight we had strawberries and peaches (thawed) and a half of a banana with those, and it was nice and tasty! Good to have some fruit that is out of season, but for cheapies!

And there you have it! The cinnamon rolls turned out pretty well last week, and tonight we had chicken marsala with mashed potatoes-- not bad for a last minute decision on what to do with the chicken!

Hope you all have a great week-- don't forget to tell me what you're eating!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mrs. Teter.

Last semester was my first semester as an instructor at a college level (or, really any level aside from 3 and 4 year old children's church help). It was certainly a learning experience. I feel like I'm still trying to figure out how to implement what I learned last semester into this one.

I'm not sure I can actually name all of the things I learned-- this seems so silly because, duh, don't you write those things down Claire? Well, if you're really asking me this, if you're really I didn't. Dumb, right?

But the main thing I learned I knew I wouldn't forget. I like strict professors-- always have. I flourish under high expectations (as I have them for myself anyway, so might as well have someone else expect the same or better so I can rise to that too, ideally). I like clear objectives, expectations, and challenges. I like having to stretch and be disciplined in order to succeed academically. So naturally I envision being this kind of instructor for my students-- that strict and demanding professor who ultimately helps you learn more than you thought you could.

It turns out, I'm rather a softy, much to my dismay. I'm not sure how it happens, except that I guess I have a little more compassion than I thought I would. I don't ACTUALLY buy the excuses, but I'm also painfully mindful of how "at risk" the freshman population at APSU is. If I don't invest in them, give them a second chance, will they ever get one?

Well, probably yes. And at 18 or 19 (or 50), it is time to learn to meet deadlines and follow directions. But still! I'm a sucker!

[And on a side note, I am continually blown away by the aspiration to mediocrity that some students are so comfortable with. Matthew constantly laughs at me for my genuine consternation and disbelief of the real nonchalance with which students accept Bs and Cs (Cs!!!). I just really don't have that ability, nor have I ever. But realizing that not all students are created to eat, sleep, and breathe school is a good reminder, and Matthew is sure to help me realize this anew on a weekly basis.]

So I realized this (that I'm a sucker) last semester, which was important. I've tried to bolster my syllabus so that the things I feel are important to really stick to, I've given ample instruction about. The primary thing is deadlines, and I've created a kind of lenience in my syllabus that I think will allow me to give grace when something comes up, but still ultimately have a way to penalize students who don't meet deadlines. We'll see how that works.

The tricky thing with all the other things I think I learned is that this class is entirely different than my last! The students are from more places (fewer from just Clarksville), I have more non-traditional students, and a majority of male students (vs. 15% of my class last semester). Will the male population change how I teach? I have no idea.

I think I've got a good plan, but it is often overwhelming to think that I'm responsible (in some ways, not all though, I do realize) for their understanding of the English language at a college level. I'm creating and ideally helping them meet the expectations of written communication at this new level-- no longer high school or the work place. Intimidating!

I know they'll learn in their next classes-- they are required to take 1010, 1020, AND 2030 at APSU, so they get quite a dose of Language and Literature. But I do set them up for success or failure, in many ways, for their future language classes. Yipes.

I received my evaluations from my first class, and they were very good. I'm pleased with the feedback, but I do realize that this basically only means that they THINK they learned something, not that they actually did. I saw improvement in ALL of them over the semester... but will I this semester? And is it simply improvement that I think is valuable, but won't actually serve them well in their next class?

Who knows. I AM excited for the coming weeks. My first class went well on Thursday. I think I always scare them with the syllabus-- I sound very strict, though hopefully they hear that phrase I continually repeat after EACH deadline or expectation I give: just contact me ahead of time if something comes up and we'll work together to figure it out. We'll see!

As for my education, I only have one class I'll attend (Southern Literature-- woohoo! Going to read some fabulous authors!) and the other six credits worth of my time (which, by the way, makes me so glad I don't actually have to pay for this-- how lame to pay for... well basically, nothing) will be spent on my thesis. Feel free to ask me each and every time you see me or interact with me what I'm writing. I need help staying on track. I do SO much better when I've got a million things going on, and for some reason the freedom that this semester seems to have is a little worrisome!

Ok, enough babbling... man I can just go on and on!

Week 3.

Well here is the menu for this week, about which I'm less than excited, but at least there is a plan.

Monday: Ribeye Steaks, spinach, potato.

Tuesday: OCF: Lasagna, salad, etc.

Wednesday: My only night (!!!) of classes this semester, so Matthew will only be throwing things together once a week (or dishing up crock-pot sludge, as it may be). Wednesday he is making ham and a few sides of his choice... we'll see what we end up with :)

Thursday: Battalion FRG meeting, including dinner! No idea what will be available, bit if all else fails, we'll polish off some leftovers.

Friday: Omelets and a light salad for me, potatoes for him (most likely... maybe sweet pots?).

Saturday: Italian Beef Sandwiches-- a shareable meal, and something Matthew has been craving.

Sunday: Something with chicken. I have no inspiration yet.

So last week we kept to our schedule for the most part. We got takeout last night so we bumped the steaks to tonight, and otherwise it is pretty true to what was planned.

This week there are no new recipes either, but I'll have to take an appetizer or dessert for Thursday and I'll make that a new one. I'll let you know what it is and if it is any good!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's for Dinner.

In an effort to be inspired by you all and to keep myself accountable and excited about planning meals, I'm going to post what I've got planned for dinner each week on my blog.

I started last week and it went really well! So here is last week's menu (items with stars indicate new recipes):

Monday: Leftovers from the Sunday before :)
Tuesday: Orange and red pepper glazed shrimp with rice*
Wednesday: Chicken picatta, sauteed vegetable cous-cous, salad.
Thursday: Red wine braised beef short ribs*, chevre polenta*, sauteed spinach, homemade herbed bread*.
Friday: Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
Saturday: Buffalo chicken pizza.
Sunday: Chicken and portobello mushroom Parmesan risotto, and salad for me.

For the coming week, this is what I've got planned:

Monday: Baked pork chops with glazed carrots, and probably spinach since I've got some.
Tuesday: From now on, our Tuesday dinners will be at Bible study, so I'm off the hook! I will be making some homemade no-kneed bread, so that's my new recipe for the week.
Wednesday: Shrimp and penne arrabbiata.
Thursday: Baked chicken with Bobby Flay's signature spice rub that Whitney gave us for Christmas!
Friday: Baked potato bar.
Sunday: Ribeye steaks with some kind of sides.

Last week went well. My goal is to try one new recipe per week. So far last week was great, but this week I'm trying to have a smaller grocery bill, so I'm using things we've got in the freezer or pantry. Other than the bread, I won't do any new recipes, though I'll probably improvise the shrimp dish which I guess kind of counts.

Anyway, the point here is that I'm doing well so far, here at the beginning of week 2 of 2010, but I need help and ideas! The Recipe Co-Op has ideas, but not always things Matthew will eat, or that work for a quick weeknight meal. I'd love to hear your ideas-- whether you post them on your blog and tell me you did (since I've been terrible at checking blogs lately...), or post them (at least WHAT they are if they're simple, or some part of the recipe if they're more complex) in the comments.

If nothing else, if you guys aren't interested, my blogging what we eat (or plan to...) will maybe help me make better weekly menus!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ahh, Le Weekend.

I just have to say, I am loving not being in school right now. And I'm loving that Matt got off around 2 yesterday, and we've had a GREAT weekend!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Our Christmas.

This year we had our "Christmas morning" on the weekend before we went to Utah so that we could have some time together, a special meal, and exchange our gifts for each other at home.

Our tree! Notice how the ornaments stop about 2/3 of the way down the tree. As Dutch pulled them off we just replaced them higher up. He has pretty much hammered out cheapie little fake tree, but it still works well despite.

Our happy little stockings, and that little one in the middle is D's of course.
He got a new feather toy, and played with it for probably 3 hours straight.
We got great gifts from each other- spoiled each other with the thought that we won't be together next year (most likely), and I think we're both glad we did.

That night I made my first tenderloin roast, and it turned out PERFECTLY! Holy CRAP it was good! The internal temp and EVERYTHING! Next time I make one I'll do a step by step, it was so easy and SO awesome! Pricey cut of meat, but it fed us a fancy dinner TWO nights in a row and the cost of ONE roast is what you'd pay for a 7oz filet at outback. I followed Pioneer Woman's instructions and will changer her seasoning a bit, but yet again, win one for the fabulous PW! (the chocolate pie I made was also hers, and also awesome)

I just did simple sides: boursin smashed potatoes,
Sauteed Garlic Spinach,

and some fabulous rolls!
It was a great dinner, and a great Christmas day for us!
Our time in Utah was VERY short, but very sweet. We spent quality time with our families and even had a night to spend with a few friends.

I didn't think to start taking pictures until later on, so if you were there and I didn't snap a picture of you, I'm very sorry! I'm especially sorry I didn't get a shot of Lisa, Kyle, and Nolan who is now TWO! Crazy!

Ashley and Thaddeus

Kelli with Baby Jane, Colby, Amy, and Julie!

Robby and Crystal

Brady and Baby Blue

Me and Baby Blue! So fun to see our friends' children!

Matthew and Colby and Blue.

Me and Micah

Jesse and Pete

We did an unusually bad job at taking pictures of family, though I think other members of the fam did take some, so I'll post those if I get my hands on them. For now, here's one of the now FOUR years old Dash!

Whenever we go to Utah, we have a list of places to eat. On the top of our list this time around were only a few since we were only in town 6 days, two of which were spent traveling. This was definitely the fewest days either of us has been in Utah in one year-- we were away for an entire year straight! Crazy. We got to eat most places, including our often-longed-for Bajio!

Me about to dive into my Bajio salad
Matthew is so excited, he's almost in pain.
And that's about it folks! We had a great Christmas with our families, Matthew got to ski once, and we did see a few friends. Six days in one year is NOT enough. I should be back more next year, and you are certainly welcome to come see what our lives are like out here!

We hope your Christmases were wonderful too, and we hope to see you soon! Here are a few parting shots of what our cat has been up to the last little while...

Hanging out in a sack


Squirrel hunting
Hard to see, but top leftish is the squirrel, and Dutchy is down at the bottom, hunting again.


Happy New Year too!

Friday, January 01, 2010


One thing I experimented with this fall was Apple Butter canning. I did one round of it with reasonable success and meant to can some more for Christmas presents, but it didn't happen due to my rather crazy schedule!

But I do have proof of my first canning adventure:

I tried it on my sour cream pancakes (right pancake), and it was fantastic!

Grandpa Teter's 90th!

On the 28th we headed to Russellville, Arkansas to celebrate Matthew's Grandfather's 90th birthday! We got to Arkansas just about 7 hours after we left Clarksville-- it was so nice to travel that journey in our new car!

On the first day we visited the Teter farm, formerly Matthew's Uncle Jerry's farm, now his cousin (Jerry's son) Brian runs it.

Below are Aunt Dianna, the oldest of the Teter siblings, Brian Teter, and John!

There was a SUPER cute little baby farm dog named Buckets who charmed us all. Whitney had to get her puppy loves in!

Here is Jerry, the middle Teter child, and his granddaughter (Brian's daughter). Adia is quite the farm girl-- she runs with the dogs, knows how to feed the calves, and has incredible aim with a snowball!

We loaded up into the back of a pick up to head up to the field to feed us some cows!

This is the life for a dog! Running around on tons of property, harassing cows, swimming through ponds...


Whitney faces off with the cows. The guy on the right is Norman, an elderly and friendly cow she has met before-- he's several decades old (I think). That's what you call prime aged beef.

Hmm, wonder if they're related...

When Whitney was a tiny one, and Matthew was yet a twinkle in his father's eye, she printed her foot into the cement outside her uncle Jerry's chicken house. Here she is, back again, with a rather larger hand print to compare. Her cousin Kevin, the oldest Teter cousin, is next to her (and was, so many years ago, too).

Here's John, patriarch of the Utah Teter branch, posing at Teter Lane.

And this might be the best part... the sign for Booger Hollow Tabernacle. Incredibly, this area of Arkansas is called Booger Hollow, properly pronounced "booger holler."

The second day of our visit we had a fantastic time looking at old pictures of the family and grandma and grandpa Teter's younger days. We heard lots of stories and it was a very sweet time. That evening was Grandpa Teter's 90th birthday celebration. We went to Pearl's, a local restaurant that the Teters know and love. The restaurant made all the food from Grandma Teter's recipes, just the way Grandpa likes it!

Whitney was trying to get Matthew to smile... success! But the results for her were cruel...

Grandpa was served his favorite homemade cake.

He invited us all back for his 100th...

A friend bought him 4 scratch and win cards, with which he was fairly delighted. Grandma had to get him back on track with his cake and ice cream, but not before he won 20$!

Family pictures.

Three generations.

No resemblance at all, is there.

Grandma Teter and her first granddaughter.

There we are! My hair looking weird, but there we are.

Whitney and Matthew again.

Ashley, Matthew, and Whitney.

Ashley, Matthew, Debra, and Whitney.

Ashley, Matthew, Whitney, John, and Debra.

And there we are, Ashley, me, Matthew, Debra, John, and Whit.
We had a great time! It was so great to meet the rest of the Teter extended family and see the grandparents again. We fully intend to be back for Grandma's 90th, and Grandpa's 100th!