Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is it Christmas Yet?

With summer just around the corner there is no better time to post a vanity blog about this cute little gingerbread house I made.  Or rather, decorated.  I don't know exactly how many labor hours went into this but it took the better part of a day in between parenting my kids (parenting, as in, making sure they don't kill themselves).  Having done a couple gingerbread houses over the years, even making the houses from scratch, I have seen this delightful holiday tradition make middle aged women weep.  While manipulating the candy can be difficult, usually it is a matter of leverage.  The real curse inducing step is the construction.  

First, do not use the footprint sized plastic base that comes with the house.  You get no landscaping to play with, the plastic doesn't transport well, and it gives a lousy perimeter for defending your house from accidental bumps.  This house is on a Rubbermaid tote container covered in heavy duty foil.

Second, you do not need to decorate after your house has already set up as decorating at a 90 degree angle can prove difficult but if you predecorate you have to keep in mind things like seams and pressure points.  Pressure points you say?  Yes, see the next tip.

Third, when setting up your house do not place unreasonable expectations on a concoction of water and powdered sugar to act like Quickrete.  Once you have placed a generous amount of icing at the seams and in the gaps of the cookies set up your walls for 12 to 24 hours propped with soup cans from the pantry.  Once the walls are stable you can add the roof pieces.  Be sure to prop these up overnight as well.  Just stack several good size cans next to the lower edge to prevent slipping.  After that add more icing to seams and decorate.  Now your house will be capable of surviving all December and probably to the next.  This is why it important to decorate with appetizing candies.  So that it doesn't.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Salsa Chicken Quinoa

This is a homely little dish but it cooks up in 30 and the flavor imparted from the salsa is pretty grand for a quick mid week meal.

Salsa Chicken Quinoa:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken diced
1 16 oz jar red or green salsa
1 can black beans drained
1 can pinto beans drained
1 can/ 2 cups chicken broth/ water
1 1/2 cups quinoa

Saute chicken in 2 Tbl cooking oil of choice, add all the other stuff, cover, cook 20 minutes, stir occasionally.  Serve with whatever you like.  Here I have cheddar cheese, avocado and sour cream.

If you buy your quinoa in bulk (about half the price of prepackaged) you will want to rinse it well.  This recipe is incidentally gluten free as well. Rock on.


This is just a very basic, very quick avocado salad or chunky guacamole best served the second the salt is incorporated.   When we make this guacamole there is no need for a main course.

5 ripe avocados pitted and diced
1 large Roma tomato diced
1/2 medium Vidalia (or white if you prefer sharper onion flavor) onion diced
1/2 cup rough chopped cilantro
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
splash of tequila
1/2 medium jalepeno diced
salt and pepper to taste

give it a quick hearty stir to marry the spices and dig in.