Saturday, February 26, 2011

Last Chance Discount

Today is the last day you can take advantage of 10% off in my Etsy shop.  Just enter "SHOPOPENING" at checkout to receive the discount. 

Come celebrate the opening of my shop!  Click here. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Stir-Fries & Pizza--Part II

**Due to the lengthy nature of yesterday's post, I am continuing today with Part II.  To read the first part, click here.**

Pizzas, mmmm....

However, I am unable to eat cheese, so many of the take out and restaurant versions are a no-go for me.  Therefore, I set out to make a tasty version for home. 

Here are my hints.
1. Crust--that would most definitely be the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day version.  I've mentioned this before.  I am a total convert of this method.  Try it and you will be too.  From the book I will vary the recipe--either the boule or the pain d'epi, depending on what I have on hand. 
2. Since I use the AB in 5 version, it is necessary to:
-have a super hot oven, as in 500 degrees!  You must start ahead of time to get it up to temperature in time for cooking.
-use a baking stone.  This makes all the difference.  I love the crunchy crust.  Tastes like brick-oven from my electric one. 
3. Sauce--if you use this at all, don't put it on until you are 100% ready to start adding toppings and go straight to the oven.  Otherwise the dough gets soggy and starts adhering to your pizza peel.  I prefer to instead use sliced tomatoes, or canned diced tomatoes.  It's more "paste-y" as opposed to "sauce-y".
4. Toppings--these vary.  I've found that they taste the best when sauteed before going on the pizza.  But, lets get real, who wants to do that step when hungry?  This works best if the veggies are leftovers from a previous meal.  Last week our favorite combo was pineapple and pepperoni.  Or, in our case, whatever pork pieces you have around (i.e. shaved deli ham, sandwich salami, etc.).  Here's how Mr. P's version (avec fromage) turned out:


What are your favorite toppings?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

ETSY opening

Did you all see the announcement about the opening of my Etsy shop?  You don't want to miss out on the discount.  It only lasts until Saturday!!!


Stir-Fries & Pizza

These are two foods that, while I enjoy them, I'm not always sure how to make them very well.  I like ordering them in a restaurant, but when it comes to me making them, they seem to lack flavor.  My goal, starting last spring, was to search out recipes and learn to make them like a pro.  So here are my secrets.

Did any of you watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last year?  If you didn't, you should check it out on  I thought it was awesome and totally got hooked on the idea of stir-fries.  I've found two options that I like to rotate through.  My meat preference is beef, although you can mix it up as you'd like.  I find that this is an easy way to get off of my chicken bandwagon. 

Option 1: Joy of Cooking's Beef and Vegetable Stir-Fry
First make the marinade.
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T rice wine (I think I just use rice vinegar)
1 T water
1 T sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 t. sesame oil
Add your meat, making sure that it gets full coverage
1 lb boneless beef steak, cut into strips
Leave the meat in the marinade for at least 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the following veggies....or your own preferred mixture.
1 onion
2 bell peppers; I like to mix it up for color
1 c. mushroom caps
4 scallions; cut at an angle for better presentation
In another bowl, mix up the following seasonings
2 t. minced fresh ginger
1 T minced garlic
Heat your skillet or wok with a small amount of oil.  Joy of Cooking calls for peanut oil, but that seems fattening to me, so I use canola or vegetable oil for their taste-less properties. 
Add the ginger mixture and let it hang out until you can smell the aromas.  Add the beef and cook until browned. 
Remove beef & ginger mixture to a plate.  Wipe out pan, add some more oil and add your veggies.  Stir fry them to your liking, whether that be "crisp tender" as stated by Joy of Cooking, or not. 
Add scallions.
Add meat mixture.
Add marinade (from earlier), adding 1/3 c. chicken stock/broth or water.
Let it all hang out until the beef is re-warmed. 

Serving options--over rice or Udon noodle.  There is also the option of eating them as is! 

Option 2: Julie's Quick and Easy Method
This is my go-to stir-fry option for a quick meal when I feel the need for lots of veggies!  For my latest version I used the following veggies:
2 bell peppers of various colors, sliced
mushrooms, sliced
snap peas
Sometimes I like to add
onion, chopped
mini corn on the cobs, quartered
Next I heat my pan (I am NOT the proud owner of a wok.  Maybe I should invest.)  Heat a neutral oil. (i.e. canola, veggie, etc.)  Stir fry the veggies to your liking.  Here's my favorite shortcut--sprinkle on ground ginger!  On my "quick and easy" nights I hate fussing with too much grating, peeling or chopping.  This seems to work decently well. 
While all of this is going on, I usually have my sliced beef cooking in another pan.  (See info on meat selection in "Option 1".)
When the veggies seem close to ready, I pour in:  House of Tsang Classic Stir-Fry Sauce.  This is my absolute favorite.  It adds so much flavor and can be used during cooking or after.  That's crucial for this house since I like things less-saucy than Mr. P.  I put the bottle on the table with the meal and he adds more as desired.   
Add the beef to the veggie mixture.  Mix all together.
Serve over basmati rice.  None of that instant stuff allowed. 
**Note on the sauce--I like to cook from scrach.  And, I am NOT a big condiment user.  I find that they are usually full of all kinds of things I can't identify.  As well as loaded with salt.  However, I make an exception here.  This one is awesome! 

Wow this post has gotten long.  I think I will save my pizza comments for later. 

To be continued...


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I'm very excited to announce....

the opening of my ETSY SHOP!!!!!!

Check it out at

This is cause for celebration, folks!

And for you, the loyal reader, I'm offering the following deal:  from now through Saturday, receive 10% off any item in the shop by entering the coupon code "SHOPOPENING" at checkout. 

Happy Browsing...and Shopping!

*Continue to be on the lookout--more items to come*

Walkin' in a winter wonderland

These were taken during our weekend getaway during our walk at Taughannock Falls.  I couldn't choose just one!  I'm trying to appreciate the end of the season (hopefully!) beauty, despite a desire for spring.   


Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Going-Ons

Although it may be Monday, my weekend is still going on.  That is, we had today off for President's Day, and tomorrow also.  A sort of mini Mid-Winter Recess, if you will.  Don't mind if I elaborate on what we've been up to!
On February 13, 2011, Mr. P and I had been married for precisely one whole year!  As we spent last weekend at my grandmother's funeral, we decided to celebrate this one with a little getaway.  We found ourselves in Ithaca, which we happen to enjoy frequenting time and again.  Not only was it our anniversary celebration and a long weekend, but it also happened to be the beginning of Ithaca Loves Teachers Week.  There was a lot of fun to be had there, so we lived it up with free wine tastings, restaurant discounts, and purchase discounts.  Our original plan had been to spend Saturday at the Chili Cookoff, but since the weather decided to interefere, we made do with the following:
-Arrive in Ithaca; get registered for Teachers' Week
-Upon hearing the Chili Cookoff is postponed, make our way to Viva Cantina for lunch-we both had the taco trio-1 each of chicken, beef and pork!
-Beer tasting for Mr. P at the Ithaca Beer and Soda Company; root beer tasting for me (although I did sneak a taste of the Apricot Wheat and had to notice it wasn't bad for a beer!)
-Drove north to King Ferry and Long Point Wineries
-Almost turned back sooner due to high wind, snow drifts and snow fall
-Continued on to our place of respite and sustenance for the night:  the John Joseph Inn and Elizabeth Restaurant
We thoroughly enjoyed the Inn and our dinner.  The rooms were tastefully decorated to have old inn charm, but with modern conveniences such as a gas fireplace, jacuzzi tub, flat screen tv, and wireless internet.  The room was comfy and spacious. 

Our dinner was a three course Prix Fixe (prepared by the owners and CIA graduates), with an added "amuse bouche" and palate cleanser (raspberry sorbet with champagne!).  I had duck and Mr. P ate veal.  Our only complaint about the restaurant was that it was freeeeezing!  If it had been a tad warmer, I think I could have focused more on the delightfulness of the meal.  Otherwise the atmostphere was beautiful.  The building was a restored barn with beams across the ceiling and wonderful decorations.  The highlight of the evening for me was the dessert course--Pluot Tarte Tatin.  Quite delicious, but I do admit to needing to look up the definition of "pluot": turns out to be a cross between plum and apricot.    

Another fun point of the dinner was that we got to drink local wines with the meal.  I chose the chardonnay* from King Ferry which we had just taste-tested in the afternoon.  How nice to actually be familiar with the wine selections and be able to pick something you know you'll enjoy!  (*side note on chardonnay--I'm not usually a fan but this winery knows their stuff!)  

-Get up and rush to breakfast to find the restaurant door locked, no one in sight, and no one answering the phone
-Puzzled, pack up and set off for Ithaca
-End up at one of our favorite (and sentimental) local eateries:  Ithaca Bakery; chow down
-Short drive to Taughannock Falls for a frigid, but beautiful, winter walk
-Admire falls for a few short moments before returning back down the icy path
-Head out of the city with one more stop--Six Mile Creek Winery (at this point, you shouldn't be surprised by our winery-hopping) 
-Finally drive home

We definitely had an action-packed weekend!  Lots of fun celebrating our anniversary, plus great discounts and yummy food.  Doesn't get any better than that! 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blog oh blog, oh where have you been

Life has been just plain crazy as of late, and frankly-not all good crazy.  We've traveled, worked, eaten, celebrated, stood by bedsides, made life decisions and attended a funeral.  I have been distinctly missing, therefore, from my blog due to, well, LIFE.  It happens and we can either choose to live it or blog about.  I chose to live.  And I'm so glad that I did.  As much as I value you dear readers, let's face it--my life in the here and now is just so much more important than this cyber world.  I was able to spend time with precious people in my life and make lasting memories.   

During this time my grandmother passed away after a brief illness.  And although I loved her and was so close to her, I realized at her funeral that I was still learning things about her.  Like how thoughtful she was, not just to me her granddaughter, but to those around her.  And those she did not know.  How sacrificial she was.  And how she had such a heart for serving. 

What an example she was, and is still, to me.  It has inspired me and made me rethink some priorities.  How do I show love to others?  How do I help out in times of trial?  Do I have a giving spirit?  I know that it is late for a New Year's resolution, but maybe that's ok.  Maybe these are meant for more of the LIFE resolution type.  

So, lets get back to the blogging, but with a more reflective spirit.  With a more generous nature.  

Here are some blogging inspirations:
-knit for charity with Minimalist Knitter--she has a goal of 150 items knitted for charity in 2011!
-join Katie of Making this Home for the Giving Month Challenge!  Pick up with Challenge II or start at the beginning with Challenge I!   

How about you?  Have you been more thoughtful?  or giving?  or sacrificial lately?  Have any ideas on how to incorporate?  Have you been inspired to start?  Share your story!  Comment away, folks!  Let's make Grandma Raye proud! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yay for Snow Days!

Snow days are the best when you are a teacher.  Today not only did we get a snow day, but it actually snowed a decent amount.  It is predicted to keep snowing.  It is predicted that we will get yet another day off tomorrow.  Awesomeness.  The best part of today was that I got to try out my new cross-country skis on my poorly paved street.  Ok, so it took me half an hour and a phone call to Mr. P at work to figure how to latch the boot to the binding, but it was still fun.  There I was, stuck in my driveway, with only one boot hooked onto a ski.  I tried to go in the house and look up "how the heck do you hook on these boots to cross country skis" in google, but then I couldn't unlatch the latched boot from the ski.  Ugh.  Thank goodness for Mr. P coming to my rescue via cell phone!  I will, however, choose to ignore his laughing comments. 

Here's to more fun tomorrow...


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