March 31, 2010

Ostrich Festival

We went to the 22nd Annual Ostrich Festival at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler, Arizona a few weeks ago. I've been having trouble downloading photos off my phone onto the computer until today. It's one of those simple, annoying solutions -- I have to reboot my phone while it's attached to the computer.

Hubby and I went with YD and her BF and the Granddaughter to the festival. It's funny, because we kind of thought an Ostrich Festival would have ostriches as far as the eye could see. I think there were six of them -- several in a viewing pen and several that they raced. Oh, well. Beyond that, there was the usual great festival fare including food, carnival games and rides. It was fun, we spent way too much money and everyone was exhausted.

Here's an Ostrich fact sheet, in case you were wondering ...

There was a neat little petting zoo and it was definitely spring -- lots of cute babies ...

An alpaca, which is where some beautiful, soft yarn comes from ...

These guys just needed some honk if you're horny bumper stickers ...

We did see an Ostrich Chariot Race ...

This may be why they were running ...

And no, none of us had an Ostrich Burger. Stuck with my favorite taco fry bread. And for dessert, chocolate and whipped cream covered funnel cake ...

Evening carnival rides make everyone a kid again ...

March 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Easter Bunny

Wordless Wednesday

What's Cookin' - Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I got a great deal on a dozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the grocery store last week. Made Parmesan Chicken with 8 of them, then Hubby barbequed the remaining 4 last night. We made grilled chicken sandwiches for dinner and had 2 left over today so I got to make one of my favorites ... Chicken Salad Sandwiches.

I chopped up two chicken breasts into small chunks, although you can use the large cans of chicken that are sold near the tuna fish at the store. Drained and chopped one 10.5 oz. can of mandarin oranges, threw in about 1/8th of a cup of sliced almonds, seasoned lightly with garlic salt and mixed all together with a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise. It's that simple and is so good. It always tastes really fresh. I think it's the mandarin oranges that give it the light, bright flavor and the crunch of the almonds is spectacular!

You can get four sandwiches out of the two chicken breasts. We pile them nice and thick on wheat bread.

March 29, 2010

He had me at Hot Dog

YD, Hubby and I decided to attend a Cactus League baseball game at Scottsdale Stadium yesterday, Spring training home of the San Francisco Giants. It was around 80 degrees and we slathered on the sunscreen, which was a good thing. There were a lot of people frying out there and will be many sorry, sunburned folks this morning.

Originally, just Hubby and YD had planned to go. I'm not so big on sporting events and I like my quiet time at home. He starts giving me all these reasons to go -- I honestly can't remember anything he said until he hit, "You can have a hot dog!" Hhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm?!?! I was ready to go in a few minutes.

The Scottsdale Stadium was built in 1992 and is in the middle of downtown Old Scottsdale. It will hold 12,000 people and I think 11,500 were on the lawn with us. Lawn seating is the cheap seats. You bring a blanket, spread it out on the grass, watch the game, watch the fans, and work on your tan. We saw people playing cards, lots of kids rolling down the semi-steep grassy hill and many babies (I guess it is Spring). I even took a small knitting project for when I got tired of people watching -- a simple, rolled brim baby hat. I need a fast baby gift for an announcement we just received last week.

I had my hot dog. It was delicious! I ate it so fast, I forgot to take a picture of it. So I took one of some guy at the condiment stand juggling several dogs and fries. And my sweet Hubby tracked down a bag of Cotton Candy -- or as he calls it, Polyester Candy -- for me, which was hard to do near the end of the game. Supplies were low!

A good time was had by all ... except for the San Francisco Giants who were beat by the San Diego Padres ... 7 - 0.

Here are a bunch of pictures from yesterday, starting with this parking sign that YD pointed out to me. For some weird, unknown reason, it has a sticker of a ball of yarn on it.

March 26, 2010

What's Cookin' - Chicken Parmesan and Double Chocolate Cream Pie

We had our weekly family dinner Thursday night and everyone ate too much. This is another easy, delicious recipe that takes very few ingredients.

Chicken Parmesan

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

12 to 16 oz. fettuccine noodles or your favorite pasta


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 x 13" baking dish with olive oil. Rinse chicken breasts. Put beaten egg in one dish, bread crumbs in another. Dip chicken breast in egg (both sides), then in bread crumbs (both sides), coating well, then lay in dish.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Spoon spaghetti sauce over chicken. Put 1/2 cup of hot water in bottom of spaghetti sauce jar and shake it up to get every last drop. Then pour over chicken as well. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put back in the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, start your pasta water boiling. I time the pasta so that it finishes about 5 minutes after I pull the chicken from the oven. Just cover it with foil to hold the heat. Put a nice serving of pasta on the plate and lay a chicken breast over it. Spoon a little of the sauce over it as well.

It's amazing what you find when you root around in your cupboards. When I was looking for my pasta maker this last week, I found a mini food processor attachment that goes on my Oster blender. I've been thinking I wanted to get one and here I've had it for years. I use my blender all the time, but forgot about the attachment buried in the back of the cupboard.

And the point of this is, I used the mini food processor to make my own bread crumbs for the chicken dish. We have a bread basket that is always full of drying up ends of the loaf. I took those and some too crusty French bread and ran it all through the processor with some Italian seasoning. Ended up with several containers of wonderfully Italian scented bread crumbs to use. Geez, I feel bad now about all the bread I've thrown out over the years.

Something else new I tried for last night is Paula Deen's Double Chocolate Cream Pie. When I asked YD's BF recently what his favorite kind of pie is, chocolate cream was at the top of the list. This is definitely not a low fat recipe, but it sure is delicious. As Paula said to Oprah, "I'm your cook, not your doctor!" And easy to make. I loved the real sweetened whipped cream spread over the top. We eat a lot of fat free Cool Whip (because I'm lazy and I like it) but every now and again, I'll make a batch of the real stuff. I figured since we were already going big with 3 eggs, whole milk and 2 kinds of chocolate, what the heck? I had gotten this recipe from a website, but can't find it now so here it is ...

Paula Deen's Double Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup corn starch

pinch of salt

3 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 9" deep dish pie crust, baked and cooled

sweetened whipped cream (optional)

chopped toasted pecans (optional)


In a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir with a spoon to mix. Combine the milk and egg yolks and whisk until well-blended. Slowly begin adding the milk and egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, blending well with a metal spoon. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly (about 5 minutes). When it is quite thick, add the vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until completely blended. Pour into the pie crust, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with the whipped cream and pecans before you serve.

A couple of notes: I used a wooden spoon, even though it says a metal spoon. Mine took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes to thicken, which is probably the difference between cooking on a gas stove versus my smooth top electric. Whatever ... it was ridiculously good!

March 25, 2010

Not So Continental

I took another class at Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint ... the method of Continental knitting. It is also known as German knitting, European knitting and left-handed knitting. Apparently, I'm not Continental, German or European ... well, one out of four ain't great.

It was a 2-hour class simply on how to hold your needles and yarn, feeding it wrapped through the fingers on your left hand. Then you "pick" the yarn rather than "throwing" it, which is the method I've always used. It's really hard!!! Actually, it's not that hard but it's going to take a LOT of practice to master. I'm going to cast on a narrow scarf in an easy to work with acrylic yarn and knit the whole damn thing Continental if it kills me. In the meantime, I'll keep throwing, aka English knitting.

It is Arizona Knitting's 28th Anniversary and they are holding a 25% off sale on yarn this week. I bought 3 skeins of luscious 100% silk yarn -- Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Silk. I'm going to use at least one to make one of the Knitted Neck Scarves (from the Martha Stewart website), but a little narrower this time, going more for style than warmth.

I'm thinking I'll try stringing a bunch of small crystal beads on another skein and making a lacy fashion scarf. You can buy yarn with the beads already strung, but it is four times the cost. For that, I'll try stringing my own beads. At least once ...

And I think there's enough yardage in a skein to make a pair of fingerless mitts. Not sure which pattern I'll use yet, but I think a pair in silk would be so nice.

I'm currently working on the last sleeve of the Lion Brand Soft Rib Cardigan. It is a gift and I'll need it finished soon, so will keep plugging away at the pieces. Then I'll just have to seam them all together and pick up stitches for the collar. I'm just over halfway through on a prayer shawl for a friend. It's taken longer than I had wanted, but I have had other projects that had to be finished first. There is a surprise gift on the way to someone right now that I just finished over the weekend.

Happy Spring ... Happy Knitting!

March 24, 2010

Speaking of Dog Food

Since my last post was pictures of Louie and Miles chowing down together on dog food, it got me thinking about our Youngest Daughter and her love of kibble. Hopefully she won't read this. ;-)

When she was a toddler and I had my first Yorkie, Buddy, I caught her more than once on her hands and knees in the kitchen, eating dog food out of the bowl -- with no hands -- with the dog. It was so polite, the way they took turns ... I can't imagine what Buddy thought. (Here is Buddy in the photo with our girls.)

And when she was about 7 years old, we lived in Denver. Hubby traveled a lot for business and used to fly in and out of the old Stapleton Airport back then. We had to pass the Purine Dog Food plant on the freeway to get to the airport.

Once, as we were on our way to the airport to pick up Hubby/Daddy, it was warm, summer and we did not have air conditioning in our car. We had all the windows down and as we passed the Purina plant, the smell wafted into the car with a vengeance. Oldest Daughter and I were gagging, it was so strong and unpleasant.

Youngest Daughter inhaled and said, "I'm hungry!" Still makes me laugh!!!

March 22, 2010

It's my potty and I'll try if I want to

Check out this fancy princess-style potty chair -- the Granddaughter would have loved it!

When we were potty training the Granddaughter, I had picked her up from preschool one day and brought her home. As we came into the house through the kitchen, she kind of squealed, "Oh, Nana, I have to go potty," and started racing down the hall to the bathroom on her plump little legs. I was right behind her, with fingers crossed that she'd get there in time.

She sat down on her potty chair and I perched on the toilet lid across from her. She was seriously concentrating on the task at hand. Then all of a sudden she let out a long, loud blast of air. Her eyes got really big and she looked at me and said, "Did you see that?"

I laughed so hard! And told her, "It was so loud, I almost did see it!"

Once I was in the ladies' room in Dillard's department store at the mall. There was a woman in the stall next to me with a little girl who she was trying to coax into going potty.  Considering that the place was packed, it was surprisingly quiet. I started to go and the little girl said, "Is that me?" It was so funny!

What's Cookin' - Fresh Pasta

Youngest Daughter has been bugging me to make fresh pasta for months now. Way back in the 90s, I bought a pasta maker off of an infomercial -- the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker. Laugh all you want, this thing works! So we had planned to get together today and make fresh pasta and watch movies and hang out and veg.

Unfortunately, she had the stomach flu last week and caught a cold yesterday -- yep, she's typhoid Mary -- so she came over and I babied her and I made pasta while she watched me. Hmmmm, is that any different than usual?

I did my homework yesterday. Dug out the pasta maker and all the parts, washed everything, spent hours watching the instructional video and writing down recipes, and futilely looked for the actual cookbook that came with it. I even spent time in the garage going through my cookbook bookshelf, thinking maybe the cookbook was there. It probably is. However, I kept getting sidetracked and stopping to read and setting aside other cookbooks that I wanted to look through. And I finally gave up. Here's a picture of my cookbook shelves in the garage ...

... so you can see why I didn't find the pasta maker cookbook. I have a few cookbooks on my baker's rack in the kitchen -- usually the books I'm currently cooking out of. I like to rotate them and give them each a chance to live in the house sometimes with the rest of the family.

Back to the mother-daughter day and pasta making. I had picked up a package of Semolina Flour that is made of Durum Wheat and contains "an exceptionally high percentage of gluten, which is what makes a pasta strand stretch and not break apart when cooking." At least that's what it says on the package. No Semolinas were injured in the making of this pasta. Most of the flour I used is standard All Purpose Flour with some Semolina mixed in for flavor.

The recipe includes All Purpose Flour, Semolina Flour, 2 eggs, salt, olive oil and water. You can substitute things like carrot juice or liquified spinach for some of the water to make it more flavorful and colorful. One I plan to try, since I am overrun with lemons from our tree right now, is lemon pepper pasta. Yum. With sautéed chicken and garlic. Just yum!

Everything gets mixed right in the pasta maker. It came with about 24 different dies for all types of pasta noodles and we chose to extrude through the fettucine die. Pasta making in progress ...

I ended up making two batches of fettuccine noodles so we could have some for dinner this week as well as lunch today.

Here's a side view ... isn't it beautiful?

I boiled about half of one batch for our lunch, which ended up being a lot more than it looked like. And fresh pasta cooks so much faster than dried. This took just over 4 minutes. We melted a little butter over it and sprinkled it with grated Colby Jack and Parmesan cheeses. It was so good!

Then we made cups of Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice decaf tea, retired to the couches, put in "Evan Almighty" and cuddled with Miles and Louie. A lovely day, even for a sickly kid. :-)