Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food Adventures: Boston Clam Chowder

Hello, friends!

I got a chance to have a nice foodie hoorah in the kitchen this Friday night. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy cooking and it's a great way for me to unwind. I was craving some clam chowder, specifically a recipe that Kyle and I had made for his parents over his Christmas break. We have made it a couple of times with slightly different brands of ingredients, so I knew exactly what I wanted for this go around.

We discovered this recipe for Emeril's Boston Clam Chowder, which is from his book Emeril's TV Dinners. It's easy to follow and tremendously delicious.

Because of the pace of the cooking of this chowder, I strongly recommend prepping everything before you get cooking. Chop up all the veggies and herbs and chop up the bacon. It's just easier to have it all ready to be added to the pot before you turn on the heat. ;)

As for the clams, we're not real close to the ocean in our neck of the woods, though we do have little neck clams available in our grocery store. However, I was a bit lazy for the prep that is involved for the clams. So instead of buying them whole, in-shell and cleaning and shucking them, I bought canned. I know, I know - not ideal, but! The clams we have found actually give a great end result chowder, despite the fact that we use canned clams. We used Snow's by Bumble Bee Chopped Clams in Clam Juice, the first time we attempted this recipe and it was delicious! We used a different brand the second time (I can't recall the brand); they were whole baby clams in water --- Not good. It resulted in a fishy and oft grainy chowder. No good at all.

So this time around, I went back to Snow's. It's also nice because Snow's also sells clam juice - though you nearly have enough of it after draining the chopped clams from their clam juice.

And I always serve my clam chowder with a delicious sour dough bread. I might even serve it in sour dough bread bowls, if I can find some.

Not only did I make the Boston clam chowder, I made a mocha chip cheesecake and some coconut walnut chip cookie bars for dessert!

The mocha chip cheesecake was super tasty but it wasn't really photogenic so you'll have to use your imagination. ;)

I love cooking and I don't get much of a chance during the work week so I revel in the times I get to on the weekend. Hope that you each have something (or many things, like me) that helps you unwind and enjoy your free time. Everyone deserves a hobby/passion outside of work to make life a little more exciting, and maybe even tasty. ;)

Stay excellent!
- Jenny -

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Update: Succulents


Do you remember that succulents terrarium that I posted about last year?
Well, it's changed some since then.

Here's what my succulents look like now:

I know it's probably hard to tell, but they got a lot bigger! I'm to blame for this growth, haha. I watered them quite a bit and they did get plant food in their soil, since as a college student in an apartment complex, there wasn't a whole lot of rocks and dirt around. So I used stones and potting soil from the store. I also got them a new pot to give them a little more room. And you may have noticed, I'm missing one of them - the tall one. I decided that three was too many to cram into a pot (with the rate at which mine were growing), so the tall one got the cut. 

I still have the lantern too, and I love it! I love my succulents too - I think they are happier in this adorable pot that I got at a local craft store, on sale. :) And the little drip saucer I actually picked up after the fact at Fred Meyer thinking the purple would be close to the purple in the pot - turns out it's a perfect match! Destiny!

For Christmas, I decorated them with little pom-poms. Adorable! Heehee. They're cute little friends. I enjoy having them around. 

Another fun little plant friend I have is my porchulaca. 
Fun story about it: I actually found it growing in the gravel that I park in, when I am home. I straddled it every time I parked and didn't even know, until one day I noticed a bright red flower...

It was gorgeous
I left it there for a few days, being careful not to run it over, now that I knew it was there. 

After a few days, I couldn't take it anymore - I had to get it in a pot to keep! 

So I went back to Fred Meyer and picked up a small, cute, green pot and saucer. Then I went home, lined the bottom with a circle cut from a coffee filter, then some of the gravel from outside, followed by some of that sandy dirt we have in my neck of the woods (semi-arid desert!). Then I gently dug out the porchulaca and placed it in the freshly dug up soil in my pot. Once securely set, I covered the exposed soil with gravel from right where I took the plant. Thought it would feel more at home that way. ;) 

I watered it a little after the transplant, to help it cope with the stress. 

A friend of mine was actually the one that told me what it was. He said it looked a lot like some porchulaca he had in a garden box. I think it looks like it too! I guess I don't know for sure, but it makes sense to me! 

He's a great little guy - they barely need any care. Sparse water and as much sunlight as they can get, being a desert-y plant. But it seems to be doing alright in the sparse sunlight of wintertime, too. 

I love the little guy.

And he's doing well!  

So my porchulaca and succulents sit in my window soaking up what little sun the winter skies have to offer. They seem to be coping pretty well, even with the chill from the glass. :) 

My little green friends. I like plants. :) 

Do you have any lovable and loving pet plants??

Stay excellent!
- Jenny - 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Twenty Thirteen (Plus+: Food Adventures: Cinnamon Swirl Bread)

Hello friends,

It has been a busy beginning of the year! Mostly, I have been fighting this ridiculous flu/cold thing. I got sick the day after Christmas, saw the peak of my symptoms that Friday, but have maintained this damned cough and sinus congestion since then. That's right, I still have a cough and sinus congestion.. *grr face*

Oh well! I am feeling better overall and I think the cough is finally beginning to ebb. *fingers crossed*

I thought I'd post real quick about my plans for 2013. Posting it here will probably give me more motivation to keep up on my plans - even if the readers of this blog are few and sporadic. :) This year, I have made a few resolutions. I do most every year and last year I kept the one that I made - to begin journaling again. My calendar journal was a yearlong endeavor to personalize and create. Granted some of the cards have yet to be stamped with their dates, I was able to write a little bit about each day of 2012. I am back to doing something I used to love to do - keep a daily journal. I have to say that with a calendar journal it really does get better with the years - I can already tell that I am really going to love looking at the previous entries every day when I go to write a new one. :)

So for this year, I am being a little ambitious and I set a few resolutions - not just the one. This year, I have the following resolutions (bear with me, one of them is pretty cliche):

  • Let go. 
I have held a.... I don't know if the word "grudge" fits it quite right, but for lack of a better word , we'll go with it... grudge. During the majority of 2012, I experienced a lot of injustice on the friendship front. It was unjust, unfair, and, frankly, immature what some people have decided was appropriate to do and say. I have held on to the anger that I felt at the time these events occurred for much too long. I held on to it and let it fester long enough. So I told myself in December, that I could indulge in this nonsense only until the end of the year. In 2013, I will let it go. I am currently sketching a song lyric to commemorate the letting go of this anger and frustration. Once it is complete, I will not hold on to the anger any longer. Those people don't care, so I shouldn't either. 

  • Learn more about personal finance. 
I have really good money habits - I don't spend much and I save everything. I'm frugal, always looking for the better buy. And I never make impulse buys. If I'm buying something, I've thoroughly thought through buying it. The more expensive the item, the more thinking occurs. I also don't go out drinking (SUPER expensive & completely frivolous in my eyes...) and buy inexpensively when I go out to eat. So I have a great foundation for ensuring that I have money when I need it most and ensuring that I make my money work for me. I am already saving a good portion of my paycheck into my 401K, I've got a $10,000 "emergency" fund saved up (in case I lose my job and need to live off of what I have, in case I get seriously injured, etc.), and I've got another fund building for my big buy (probably a down payment on a house). BUT I need to learn more about how to have my money grow - investment and other sources of income, etc. Thus, this resolution. I have already borrowed a book on personal finance from the library and begun to read it. Onward and upward!

  • Be more active. 
So here's the cliche. Everyone and their dog makes this resolution and many of them have not kept it, even already. I am a healthy person. I eat healthfully and do my best to keep my health in check. But I recognize that I am not as active as I should be. I have used the excuse that I am at work for 9.5 hours a day and drive to and from work for 2 hours a day to avoid trying to find a fitness routine that suits me. There's always time for health, so I'm making the time. I have purchased a jump rope and have found a routine that I can do most days of the week, even those days that I work. When Kyle and I are reunited later this year, once everything from the transitions settles down, we're going to go to a gym class. Maybe spinning, maybe kickboxing - those are the two that I want to do. :D I enjoy being active, as long as it's not just running. 

So there you go, those are my resolutions. I have other things that I want to improve as well - I always do. But I think it's better that the most urgent things be my resolutions and the other less urgent things be amorphous goals that I keep in mind as I tackle everyday life. I will make them resolutions at a later date if that's what it takes to get me to keep up on them.

On to the yummies!!
The first weekend that Kyle and I were back at his apartment from his winter break - I decided that I wanted to make bread, because who doesn't love homemade bread, fresh from the oven?? I'll admit that on some matters - I'm not too big a fan of bread. Like sandwiches - too much bread on a sandwich is a bad thing. Same thing with pizza - too thick of crust can ruin a pizza for me. But bread for the sake of bread - that's a different story. I looooooovvveeee bread for the sake of bread! So here's the bread that I decided to make for the sake of that delicious baked good, bread.

Cinnamon swirl bread!

I followed a recipe I found here via
It was easy, albeit a little slow given the two rises it goes through, but I think it's not a problem at all on a day that you're going to be around the house most of the day. Little effort goes into making it and it's delicious! I loved this bread and Kyle ate what was left after I left for the week in about a day. :) This one is definitely staying in my personal recipe book.

I hope you're enjoying your twenty thirteen so far and that your resolutions are holding up! Don't give up! Even if you falter, just keep on a-plugging!

Stay excellent!
- Jenny -