Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nachos or Something Like 'Em

I love nachos. I do. I love tortilla chips, I love salsa, I love beans, and I love cheddar cheese. Put those together and it's enough to send my senses into a happy overdrive. comfort food which is why this morning, when I so desperately needed a bit of comfort, I madeIt's also a damn good myself a bowl with ground beef, cheese, beans, salsa, and hot sauce. Nachos for breakfast? Yes I am aware that dietitians everywhere are feeling a disturbance in the force as I type. Have no fear, it was a small serving...really. *coughs* Horrible picture, delicious food.

Speaking of horrible pictures, my camera has begun picking up a lot of noise. I think it's time to clean the lens and read the owner's manual.

I've found a new muse, so to speak. In the past twenty four hours I've worked on three pieces of art with Dorothy on them. No, not from the Wizard of OZ, I mean the one from Big O. If you haven't watched that series, you should. Anyway, I love Dorothy's cold nature and thought it'd be fun to do some artwork with her and make her a bit warmer. To the left is a drawing on newsprint with marker I altered in GIMP, which is a free photo editing software much like photoshop. I also drew the same image onto a cigar box purse and onto a 11 x 14 canvas to be fully painted with acrylics. Today I'm going to try to work with her in a sitting position; her hands are becoming a pain to work with but I think I just put too much thought into it.

My art desk is a real mess and a half, by the way. If you go see the photo on flickr, read the notes to see what everything is. I managed to tidy it up last night but it's just going to get messy again today when I open up my paints so I am not sure why I bothered. C'est la vie.

Dinner tonight is tropical chicken soup. Hopefully my camera starts behaving.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Well, That Didn't Last Long

My mom was let go today. Aaaaand back into borderline poverty we go. That's my update of the day.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Testing the Nintendo DS and Blogger


Update: Well, I guess it worked! Apparently you can post on blogger using the internet browser on the DS. Unfortunately, it's a bit slow and not suitable for posting anything more than a short paragraph. Still, it's nice to know. I assume that I can post comments on other blogs through the DS as well. That'd be nice.

The picture to the side is a screenshot of this blog on the DS. I could read everything clearly, scroll down, zoom in, etc. To people with cell phones and PDAs this probably doesn't seem very special but since I don't have a cell phone, it's pretty cool to me. Three cheers for Nintendo!

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I made my first of a new slew of cheap meals tonight. I don't know if a lot of people consider spaghetti and meatballs to be cheap but it's not a budget breaker. I spent $5 for all the ingredients which makes this meal just under a dollar per serving. It was really delicious. Meatballs are also really good to make a ton of and freeze. I think I'll be doing this tomorrow morning after everyone leaves for the day. I'm adding my meatball recipe which I adapted from a whole bunch and have been using for quite some time. It's a good "base" recipe, I think.

Easy Peasy Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 c diced green bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large bowl, use your hands to mix all the ingredients well. Form meatballs about the size of a golf ball and place in a shallow baking dish.

Bake for fifteen minutes, turn over, then bake for another fifteen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mmm Cheap!

I cooked ribs last night and was not pleased; I think they came out tough, despite the fact my family practically fought over them. Normally I let ribs simmer for close to two hours in sauce before throwing them in the oven or broiler to get nice and crispy. Last night I was rushed though. You can't rush a good meal, dammit. Oh well.

Despite the fact I haven't been posting as such I've been doing very well on the budget I set for myself for the groceries in January. I haven't kept the closest track but if my estimates are correct I'll be surpassing it by about $50 for a grand total of less than $275. Not bad at all when you have six mouths to feed. Last time I posted I gave this list of cheap eats:

Split pea soup and biscuits
Morro (rice and beans together) with roasted chicken
Chicken Noodle Soup
Ramen and Onigiri
Yaniqueques (fried bread) BLTs
Rice and beans with tostones (fried plantains)
Shrimp alfredo
Lentil stew
Home fries with Scrambled Eggs
Oxtail (a treat) with white rice and beans
Penne with Marinara and romano cheese
Stuffed shells

The italicized items are the ones I actually got around to cooking. Not bad! Sorry I don't have pictures of all of them. Some days I sit down with every intention of going back to photograph food only to find empty pots in the sink. Whoops.

My family sat around last night telling me what they wanted me to tackle in the upcoming week. Here are the suggestions so far:

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Rosemary and Garlic Cornish Hens (a fall back I haven't made in a while)
Beef Stew
Soft Tacos
Chicken Empanadas
Salmon and Rice Pilaf
Fettuccine Alfredo
Chicken Parmesan
Black Bean Chili with corn chips

A lot of Italian and saucy stuff there. I think it's the cold. Some new things are on there too; I've never made gumbo before! I'm going to attempt this recipe someone told me about and go from there. Here's hoping at least one person in my household likes it.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

January 24th was my birthday. The festivities are planned for this Saturday but my mom got me a small cake and sushi to celebrate today. Kickass, eh? On Saturday I get a Spongebob cake, a nice meal, and a movie. Maybe I'll shift gears and go out to dinner with the family though. Being spontaneous has it's perks.

Happy birthday to me and I hope I have a wonderful year.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Kyle Cooked Meatloaf

Yeah, my little brother made dinner a few nights ago. It was absolutely delicious. I think this will be his meal from now on. Doesn't it look good?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Painted My Headphones

Painted Headphones - Right Ear

I am now, officially, the coolest kid on the block.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Red Wins This Round

I played Sorry!, Disney Edition, with a few family members and beat them all before they even had one person on their home base. I am the ruler of all boardgames...well maybe just Sorry!...and maybe only when I'm playing against six year olds. *clears throat*

In other news, my birthday is this week! I had a few options as to what I wanted to do but think I finally chose one. I will have some sort of mini celebration that will include drinks, sushi, and a Spongebob Cake. Afterward I'm going to see a late showing of Sweeney Todd dressed up as Mrs. Lovett! I doubt I will go in full garb but I do intend to wear all black, a flowy top, and do my hair and makeup that way. Kyle will go as the amazing Sweeney Todd, of course. I don't know if we'll sing along, yet. I suppose that depends on whether or not the theatre is empty. Sounds like fun though, right?

BTW I finally updated my flickr. Go and check out the photos, including one of my favourite purse (I am a girl after all).

Also I tried making a Lentil and Sausage stew that was supposedly amazing. As you can see it had sausage, carrots, celery, etc. I couldn't take a picture of the final product . I added in lentils, broth, and simmered for two hours. The family ate it all before I could snap another shot so you'll just have to take my word for it.

I hope to be making more regular posts as I manage to keep the house warm and fall into a regular schedule again. Hooray for a new year. Now if only my taxes would get done already...

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Spend Money On a Nice Doggie Bed...

And Poco sleeps inside his toybox instead.

Kids these days...

<3 Jess

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Somewhat Stuffed Shells

Somewhat Stuffed Shells: Say that three times fast! This was something I had a sudden craving for a few days ago and happened to have the ingredients for. It is high in calories, although the recipe below should feed about six or seven people and you can substitute part skim cheese for the ricotta.

The stuffing is quite similar to what I put in my lasagna so if you have a favourite ricotta filling, you can use it here just fine. If you try this recipe though, leave me some feedback. It's always nice to hear from you.

You will need:

1 12oz box of jumbo shells

32oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup reserved
5 oz Parmesan-reggiano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups marinara sauce (jarred or homemade; either is fine).

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large pot bring 4 quarts of water to boil with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook shells for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to drain.

In large bowl mix eggs and ricotta. Add Parmesan-reggiano, mozzarella, salt, and parsley.

Place shells in baking dish with open side up. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into each shell.


Place drained shells in baking dish open side up and pour over cheese mixture until the entire dish is covered. Don't worry about filling each individual shell; when you spoon out the dish, each serving will get an equal amount of cheese and sauce anyway.

Pour two cups of marinara sauce over entire dish and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Monday, January 14, 2008

A New Job, Two Meals, and Sibling Week

Chicken Noodle Soup

Ahh, what an invigorating and refreshing weekend I had! Nothing happened, which is nice sometimes. I just cuddled up in a blanket and laid low for most of the weekend, choosing instead to focus on my family and togetherness. Yes, this weekend should have had it's own Hallmark special.

In any case, good news: my mother found a new job. This comes as a welcome change since finances were getting tighter than Scrooge's wallet. I'm going to be quite the penny pincher even still as we try to build back the savings we depleted these past six months. I'm happy about that.

I haven't been keeping track of dinner which is a shame since I've been cooking some really delicious comfort food lately. Up there is a picture of Chicken Noodle Soup. It's way to simple to post a recipe for; just leftover chicken, water or broth, salt, pepper, celery, and carrots simmered for an hour. I add in the noodles (I use wide egg noodles) for the last 10 minutes. Mmm. Perfect for these slightly chilly days.

I also cooked Somewhat Stuffed Shells which proved to be a success. I'll probably post a recipe for those later on today or tomorrow. I call them somewhat stuffed because I don't actually stuff each individual shell; too time consuming when you're feeding eight (8) people after a long day. Of course everyone else is free to take the time to do so.

Tonight my cooking will take a bit of a southern detour. I'll be making stewed oxtail, some black eyed peas, some cornbread, and, of course, rice. I'm sure I mentioned my mom loves oxtail so this dish is for her. Kyle, on the other hand, hates oxtail so I'll be using some of the leftover gravy to make a pasta dish for him. I'll share pictures first chance I get.

Speaking of Kyle, he's got six (6) days off from school starting today so I'm going to use the time to unwind and spend some sibling time together. If I'm a bit scarce, don't fret; I'm just annoying my little brother to death!

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wannabe Shrimp Fried Rice

Wannabe Shrimp Fried Rice

2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup small to medium shrimp, cooked, cleaned, peeled, with tail cut off
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp plum sauce (optional)
1 egg, beaten (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large frying pan heat oil. Add in peppers, onions, shrimp, and spices and saute until translucent. Add in the rice, egg, plum sauce, and soy sauce. Stir constantly for five minutes or until rice and egg are heated through. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Notes: I usually use low sodium soy sauce that's why I ask people to adjust to taste. I have a slow tolerance of salt, some people love the stuff. This is a really simple meal that almost doesn't require a recipe; throw some rice in a frying pan and add things to your hearts content.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's Rice and Beans Month!

Remember my post a while back on how I was only going to spend $200 this month? Well it seems I'm going to try to squeeze that even further. It is now rice and beans month. That's an exaggeration, of course, but the idea is that I'm going to spend as little as possible per meal and still serve satisfying dinners. Money seems to be a bit tight for everyone and my family is not excluded (especially since my mom hasn't been able to find a job these past six months since the layoff). I think I can do it though. Here are my meal ideas for the month of January.

Split pea soup and biscuits
Morro (rice and beans together) with roasted chicken
Chicken Noodle Soup
Ramen and Onigiri
Yaniqueques (fried bread) BLTs
Rice and beans with tostones (fried plantains)
Shrimp alfredo
Lentil stew
Home fries with Scrambled Eggs
Oxtail (a treat) with white rice and beans
Penne with Marinara and romano cheese
Stuffed shells

I have the ingredients for all these things on hand so no having to buy anything until next week. Three cheers for being thrifty as hell. Expect pictures of these not-so-fine dishes. :)

Until next time,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Everyone's Making Their Shortlist

I entered a writing challenge. I had to write a poem where the last word of a line rhymed with the first word of the next line. I didn't win but the judge had this to say:

However, Cheryl insisted that special mentions must also go to Jessica Silfa for her poem The Going of Age which was "poignant and unusual but also strangely humorous as well as being deeply distressing with the twist at the ending. A well constructed piece that used the rules well."

I'm so excited! You can read the poem here. It's not my best but I guess someone liked it.

Until next time,
<3 Jess

Friday, January 04, 2008

Black Bean Chili

Egg and Sausage Omelett- Comfort Food!

Mmm an egg and sausage omelette! Today was just one of those days where I needed to pamper myself with food; the heat in my place is broken and I am freezing my arse off. After another cold night bundled in two comforters and some handwarmers, I woke up and started heating sausage without even thinking about it. Then I scrambled some eggs and tossed them in the same pan. A handful of mozzarella and tomato later and I had a delicious, hot, melt in your mouth breakfast. And it was all mine.

Mmm so tasty. This is my favourite plate too. I got it in Bombay's closing sale for $3. I think it's so pretty.

I'm cooking dinner tonight after a bit of a dry spell. It's CHILI!! Everyone is complaining it's too spicy; I think my tolerance for hot foods has gone up substantially because I don't even notice the spice. Whoops. I'm off to go add some more tomato sauce (and take pictures to post later).

Also I added pictures of my bedroom (mostly the artsy stuff) to Flickr. Go look! Later on I'll add more stuff. Thanks a bunch.

Until next time,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Games and Resolutions

I kicked Kyle's butt in Othello recently. It was my first time playing and, while I'm sure it was just beginner's luck, I had fun boasting about how wise older sisters can be and how I was the master of all games.

I truly do love games. I don't post about them much (or ever, perhaps) and I wouldn't call myself a "gamer" but I definitely enjoy playing them. I just got back into Starcraft after beating the game years ago.

It's a bit old (1999, I want to say) but I think it is one of the best computer games ever made. I go into each mission planning to win and achieve my goals and in that way, gaming is a lot like resolutions, don't you think?

I'm always making those; every year I sit down and sort through the mental list and figure out which one is worth tackling. The thing is I'm never specific enough. So this year I'm making mine a bit more detailed and yet simpler at the same time. I'm going to post a little reminder note and try my best to at least get halfway there by June. In no particular order, here are the things I want to accomplish by December 31st 2008:

Finish at least six video games this year (that I already have). Again, I tend to lose interest in everything after a while so I find it hard to finish games...which sucks since I pay for them.

Knit or crochet at least ten things. I'd like for them to be things I've already started too since I am prone to starting projects I never finish.

Eat at least half the recommended serving of fruits and veggies a day. Make one of those servings as close to the whole product as possible.

There you go. That's pretty much it! Those are my big resolutions. There are a whole bunch of smaller ones but these are the ones that have been bothering me for a while. Here's to happy 2008!

Until next time,
<3 Jess