Paul and Cori

Things we love: cooking, photography, crocheting, reading, math and board games.

Friday, October 29, 2010

no cream of anything casserole

Sometimes I really enjoy one bowl (or one pot- although this isn't one of those) meals. Not complicated, but still made with fresh ingredients (not out of a box) meals.
Paul is clearly allergic to any condensed cream soups that come in a can (a casserole staple) plus the sodium content is outrageous. The appeal of casseroles is their simplicity (the ability to just throw ingredients in a dish and put it in the oven). Casseroles are also a great way of using left over meat- like turkey!
I looked for quite a while for a casserole recipe that included dry rice and didn't contain that dang cream soup. Not finding anything that really appealed to me, I decided to make my own.

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
2 cups cooked/left over meat- turkey, chicken, sausage
1 cup dry rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 diced onion, 2 stalks sliced celery, 2 sliced carrots, 1 diced green pepper
(or any vegetables you have, frozen or fresh, green beans, broccoli, peas, lima beans...)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 cups low salt chicken broth
1/4 cup cooking sherry/white wine

Preheat oven to 375*
Heat oil over medium heat and saute fresh vegetables and garlic until they start to get soft. Add the spices to the vegetables as they saute.
Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, and layer the meat, rice and any frozen vegetables in the bottom.
Add the fresh sauteed vegetables and canned tomatoes to the casserole dish.
Add the chicken broth and wine evenly on top.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 375* oven for 30-45 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed in the casserole.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

turkey noodle soup

Thanksgiving is coming! Every time we roast a turkey, one of our favorite things to do with it is make soup. It means the apartment will smell delicious like turkey not for one day, but two or three lovely days.
First, make stock from the bones: it's messy work.
1. Remove all remaining meat from bones.
2. Break the bones (a meat mallet does wonders for breaking the big strong bones) and put them in a large stock pot. We also put the remaining skin in the pot too.  -We actually would like to get a larger pot at some point.
copyright: Cori 2010
3. Cut one onion, one large carrot, and 2 stalks celery (including leaves) into large chunks and add them to the pot. (If I have a new bunch of celery, I cut off the tops and use those).
4. Fill pot with cold water, as much as possible, covering all ingredients.
5. Bring to a boil over high heat. While stock is heating up, spice away. Add in generous amounts of dried spices.  Traditional noodle soup spices are great additions (parsley, garlic, pepper, sea salt, thyme, rosemary). We always add in whatever our taste buds desire at the time. Which this time was a sweet curry type blend with  green cardamon pods, a cinnamon stick, 3 bay leaves, whole cloves, black pepper, garlic, savory and 1 teaspoon salt.
copyright: Cori 2010
6. Let simmer for 4-5 hours, until water has reduced some and the stock is nice and thick.
7. Strain out all the chunks and bones, transfer stock into a large bowl that can stand temperature extremes, and put it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Cooling the stock quickly prevents bacteria from growing in it.

copyright: Cori 2010
8. Cover stock and transfer to refrigerator until ready to use. -Which for us, usually comes the next day.
9. Wash stock pot before you make the soup.

Next, you are ready to make the soup!
1. Transfer the stock back into the clean stock pot. Put over high heat to begin boiling process. The stock should be gelatinous.
copyright: Cori 2010
2. While the stock is heating, add soup spices that you desire. Keeping with out sweetish curry like blend, we added coriander, minced garlic, ground ginger, and black pepper. Also spicing with marjoram, and parsley. This is also when I add in one diced onion.
3. If  it doesn't seem like you have enough broth (for the amount of soup you want) you can add in a can to a carton of low sodium chicken broth. The brand we use is actually the Giant store brand, Nature's Promise, because Paul can eat it, and it has VERY low sodium (about 4% per serving).
4. While the broth is coming to a boil, prepare your vegetables. We use about 3 stalks celery (with leaves) and 2 large (3 small to medium) carrots -very traditional noodle soup veggies. Once the broth is boiling, add the vegetables, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Bring soup back up to a boil, add 2 cups turkey pieces (we cut the meat we removed earlier into chunks with kitchen scissors) and 1-1 1/2 cups no yolk egg noodles. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.
6. Soup's ready! Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
copyright: Cori 2010
 You could substitute the egg noodles for any other noodle (of course) or with 1/2 cup of wild, brown or white rice. If using rice, cook vegetables for 5 minutes, then add rice, cook for 10 minutes, then add turkey, cook for 10 more minutes (you should test the rice at this point to ensure that it is done) , and enjoy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How long does it take to make 2 skirts? Day 6 & 7

I finished, I finished, tra-la-la! One week to make 2 skirts. :) Wonderful crochet rate, if I do say so myself.
Juno, Gremlins and Buffy kept me entertained these last 2 days.

copyright: Cori 2010
The night of day 5, I did finish the draw string, and thus, officially finished Mary's ruffle, boardwalk, something skirt (I haven't settled on a name yet). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
copyright: Cori 2010

I finished Koleen's Christmas tree skirt just tonight. I want to set up my little 4 ft. tree to take some better pictures, but I wanted to post this blog now! The tree skirt is roughly 60 inches in diameter when laid out like this. The thought I had of a ribbon at the beginning, I think doesn't actually need to be. You want your tree skirt to be flat so you can put presents on it nice and flat too.
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How long does it take to make 2 skirts? Day 5

Getting so close to finishing now! Mary's (wearable) skirt only needs a drawstring, which I believe I will make tonight! Koleen's tree skirt has 2 more color chunks, which I believe will take me 2 more days. So it seems that it takes one week to make 2 skirts. One week of  lots of crocheting, that is! I'm very grateful that Paul and I enjoy watching tv shows on dvd so much, it really gives me big chunks of crochet time :) .
copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010


Friday, October 22, 2010

How long does it take to make 2 skirts? Days 3 & 4

Day 3:  Last night, I noticed that I skipped a stitch in the tree skirt. I unraveled it to that stitch and worked it again only adding on 1 extra row. As the rows are getting very long, I still feel like I accomplished something beneficial (also knowing that the missing stitch is now there makes the extra work worth it). Tonight (assuming Paul and I watch tv-lately we have been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I will aim to finish the next color block section.

Day 4: Today was a wearable skirt day, all the way. I watched Stranger Than Fiction (including the deleted scenes) and I got a lot done. In fact, I only have 3-4 rows and the drawstring left to crochet! It needs 2 more scalloped rows of medium green, and 1-2 more dark green (depending on what I think looks better). I'm guessing it will be 1 row because each of the other dark green sections have only been one row.
The great thing about being this far along in both patterns is that I no longer have to read the patterns, I've had the rhythm down for quit some time. I can just watch something on tv and crochet, crochet, crochet. This is my favorite time in the project making process.

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How long does it take to make 2 skirts? Day 2

  Yesterday, I put on my yoga pants, my "winking witch" Halloween t-shirt, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and began work on Mary's skirt. It is solid at the top with scallops at the bottom. I  finished the solid top section, and the first row of scallops. Because she mentioned she wanted more outfits to wear with leggings, I made the top solid chunk a little bit smaller than the pattern says. I think it will be way cute :) .

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

I also finished chunk 4 of Koleen's tree skirt.
It's really beginning to look like great sparkly Christmas fun!
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How long does it take to make 2 skirts? Day 1

One is for a tree, the other is for a body. My sister, Koleen, and Paul's cousin, Mary, will be proud owners of these skirts when I'm done! Well, Koleen might have to wait a bit longer- I have to figure out if I have more gifts to make to send to MI or not first ;) .
These are the skirts I'm making: The tree skirt is for Koleen and her family and her Christmas tree. It is from Crochet today magazine, last holiday season's issue. I hope she loves it and enjoys it for many holiday seasons to come! I'm not worried about Koleen seeing her 'Christmas surprise' because she already knows it's coming.
Mary's skirt came from Stitch and Bitch crochet: the Happy Hooker a great book for learning how to crochet and for more experienced crocheters too. I have made tons of stuff out of this book. Many of the projects before I started taking pictures of everything I crochet (I don't even know how that's possible). I love this skirt. It is called the Violet Beauregard skirt, I made one for me about 2-3 years ago in red, black and white, and finally wore it for the first time to Paul's sister, Erin's, wedding on Oct. 8. I'm glad it was such a big hit :) . My hope for Mary is that she wears it lots and loves it to pieces. Not literally of course. Mary's skirt is shades of green.
So this is my first 'project in action' post. I plan to do more of these in the future and am interested in seeing how well it works out. I am also wondering if it would be better as a new post every day there is something new, or as one VERY long post that I continue adding onto. I'm thinking the former right now (hence the day 1 in the title). I have finished buying all the yarn for both projects (a bigger task than I had hoped, but I'm glad it's done). Also, today Angela returned my crochet book with Mary's skirt pattern in it, so I have everything I need! Okay, so here's what I did today:
Progress Day 1:
Mary's skirt and colors.
copyright: Cori 2010
 I worked on Koleen's tree skirt while I watched Love Actually today. A Christmas movie for a Christmas gift, I love it. There are 7 color stripes (or chunks) in this tree skirt and I finished almost 3 of them. Pretty good for the first day, I think.
copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010

I will start Mary's skirt soon. I am also interested to see how easy it is to balance 2 projects at once while keeping a good pace on both.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vegetable Beef Stewy Soup: soup's on!

Sometimes (usually right before we go on a trip) I find that we have more food than we can possibly eat before it's going to (or I'm afraid it's going to) go bad, so I try to find ways of using what ever we have in one giant meal. This time, it is turning into vegetable beef stewy soup.
copyright: Cori 2010
3/4-1 lb beef-cubed
copyright: Cori 2010
2 Tbl olive oil
1 onion-diced
3-4 cloves garlic-minced
3-4 stalks celery-sliced
3 carrots-sliced
3 small potatoes-diced
2 tsp savory, 1 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp marjoram
1 cup red wine, 1/2 tsp salt (if you use cooking wine don't add this extra salt, it is already enhanced with salt-1 tsp/cup) I ended up using 1/4 cup red cooking wine, 1/4 cup cooking sherry and 1/2 cup burgundy drinking wine because I only had that much red cooking wine, and when I added in the sherry, it really took over the smell of the soup, so I felt I also needed more red wine.
1/2-1 carton (32 oz) low sodium beef broth (I had 1/2 a carton)- the more liquid you use, the more soupy and less chunky your final results will be.
2 cans (14-16 oz) diced tomatoes-no salt added
fresh basil-snipped

1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot, add beef, 1 tsp savory, 1/2 tsp pepper, onion and garlic to hot oil and saute until beef is brown, drain.
2. Add the tomatoes to beef mixture. As you get each other vegetable cut, stir it into the pot.
3. Stir in the other 1 tsp savory and 1 tsp pepper. Then add wine and beef broth, until ingredients are covered with liquid.
4. Bring all this to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 2-3 hours until beef and vegetable are tender.
5. When soup is ready, snip basil (I used 2 stems) into the soup, stir and serve. Add pepper and salt to taste. (I added pepper).
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori: 2010
I was surprised how amazing fresh basil smells the first time I used it, and how much more flavorful it is than the dried spice. Always add fresh basil at the end of the cooking process. Prolonged exposure to heat will make it lose its flavor and essential oil (smell). With this in mind, you might want to add the basil to each serving, and not to the whole pot- especially if you are planning on reheating the pot to serve leftovers.
copyright: Cori 2010
Feel free to add other/extra vegetables too, such as green beans, corn, peas, or beans. Whatever really.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


copyright: Cori 2010

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
Paul and I have been very curious about Indian food for a long time, since they use so many different spices in the food, and we are spice fanatics. We have never been able to go to a restaurant due to the ample use of peanuts and yogurt. So we found a cookbook, and have been trying it at home. It is a time consuming cuisine to make, it takes a lot of prep time as well as a significant amount of cook time. Paul and I have enjoyed it very much!
The author, Camellia Panjabi, is great at telling stories and giving info on and about the dishes, ingredients, and different regions of India. We haven't tried a curry we haven't liked from this book. Very authentic :)
 If you are not fan of spicy, please don't try any of these recipes ;)

copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
Two of our more recent curries, were from Goa. This first one is Vindaloo, traditionally made with pork (but equally as good with beef or lamb) and introduced by the Portuguese. We made ours with beef. Vindaloo comes from vin(vinegar) and allo(from alho, which is Portuguese for garlic). Along with the garlic, it uses a lot of onions, ginger root and red chilies (preferably Kashmiri- which we have not been able to find around here unfortunately- most of the red chilies used in this cookbook are Kashmiri- which is why our curries always come out more brown or yellow they should). However, we were able to find a surprising amount of other Indian spices at Wegmen's which was/is very exciting. Vindaloo also uses curry leaves (we can't find these around here either) we use some curry powder and fresh basil leaves. The dish is best served with boiled rice. Our favorite is Jasmine (a Thai rice), because of it's stickiness and flavorful aroma.

Our second was Goa Fish Curry. This is the first time we'd tried fish in a curry (beef too, for that matter). This one was our chance to try okra and tamarind (which we'd never had before). It also uses coconut- which we substituted for tofu because it was for making a 'satin smooth paste', and last time we got a real coconut and it was too hard to grind smoothly, but the tofu made an excellent smooth paste and green chilies instead of red. Goa fish curry is served with cilantro sprinkled on top.
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
copyright: Cori 2010
 Curry means gravy. It is made by cooking meat or vegetables with lots of other ingredients including thickening agents and spices without the use of flour. The ingredients also each have a purpose, some for souring the spiciness of the chilies, some for aroma, and some for taste. My favorite Indian spice is garam masala because you make it yourself (our coffee grinder is no longer only used for coffee beans) and it is so aromatic. Ours has cinnamon stick, black and white pepper corns, black and green cardamoms, cumin, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, bay leaves and nutmeg in it.  Indian is a very interesting cuisine, and I'm looking forward to trying much more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

WOOO! (that was my outside woo)

My friend, Angela, has started her very own photography company, and I am her #2, her partner, her planning committee, her photo editor...  It is Archive Portraits and it is a Better Business Bureau company.
 My Introduction

Recently, we were each able to enter a work of art in the silent auction at the  BBB torch awards, and they both SOLD! My piece is called As the Tide. The auction was for charity, so we were to put a starting bid on the art, if it sold at auction we would get that amount and the charity would get the rest. It is so excellent to know that somewhere out there, MY ART is hanging in an office or waiting room! Super exciting!
copyright: Cori 2010 
copyright: Cori 2010