Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quotable Wednesday & Fall Pictures

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

If you can't be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped” -Anonymous

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Walt Emerson 

"Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others."  -Audrey Hepburn 

Here's to a wonderful Wednesday and an even better rest of the week. Hard to believe it is the end of October all ready; November is just around the corner and thus bringing the Holiday season. What is even harder to believe is it is still, or only depending how you look at it, near 80 degrees at the end of October. This girl is used to snow on the ground by now and freezing temperatures. Not this year though. Too bad I wasn't 8 years old and still dressing up for Halloween to go trick-or-treating; every other year I dressed up growing up I had to wear a coat per my mom's request due to it being near freezing temperatures outside. This year, I will be lucky enough to have my Mom, Dad and brother out to visit for the Halloween weekend. AND, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Halloween. More to come about that later.

Thought I'd add some random Fall pictures, that were taken during Fall over the last couple of years.

AMS Club at the Corn Maze, yearly tradition

Ahh, the traditional Corn Maze!

Credit Dann Cianca for this picture

The "4 Musketeers" at Super Science Saturday

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finally, Lemon Bread

I think this may be one of my new weekly fixations. I love to make pumpkin and banana bread, as I've been making some all summer long and have always loved my mom's banana bread. Pumpkin bread is a favorite all year long for me. So looking through my favorite cookbook (can you tell since I use it SO often!) Taste of Home, I found many recipes for some delicious breads. One night I came across this Lemon Bread recipe and it sounded so light and flavorful - and it was! This is super easy and I was a bit shocked when I noticed that the only lemon flavoring comes from the glaze put on at the last second, but don't be fooled, the amount of lemon flavor this gives makes the whole loaf taste like lemon heaven (if that's even possible?!).

And I recently bought a mini loaf pan to make mini loaves, which I did upon buying said pan that night :) Those mini loaves are perfect for a breakfast on the go, which I usually have since I'm on my way to work. Prior to the mini loaves, I also didn't have a bread loaf pan so I've made this in a square 8x8 pan, and it turned out perfectly. Now, I do have a bread pan so I can use that as well. I'm sure these would be good made as muffins too!

Lemon Bread
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk and couldn't taste the difference)

Topping: to be made while bread is in oven
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (aka powdered sugar)
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice (I've used small lemons and used the juice from 2 lemons)

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar with a mixer. Add in eggs one at a time mixing very well. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry mix to the shortening-sugar-egg mixture, alternating with adding the milk. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and add the mixture to a greased 9x5 loaf pan or 8x8 square dish or mini loaf pan, whatever you choose. Baking time may differ depending on the pan used, but bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, pour the mixture over the top of it so the flavor soaks into the warm bread. The first time I made this I didnt' have powdered sugar so I used regular sugar and it seemed to turn out the same. Might be a little more "sugary" on the top, but basically the same. If using regular sugar, use a bit more lemon juice.

Made in my 8x8 pan

Image from Taste of Home

Wa-la! So yummy, I eat this for breakfast. It's light and a great way to start the day.

Chocolate Cake Monday, Yes Please!

So I have to post this recipe because I've had a few people ask for it and I absolutely love that is it completely dairy free! So I thought it would be good to share it with you all. My lovely cousin D'anne shared this recipe with me and every time I've made this I couldn't help but having more than one piece, so maybe I shouldn't make this too often?! It keeps and stays moist for days, which is good since we don't need to eat the entire thing in one sitting! I'm not particularly going to make this today, just wanted to share it and what not a better way to start the week than with some visions of chocolate, I know it would make any horrible Monday that much better :)

Quick & Moist Dairy Free Chocolate Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups cold water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp  baking soda
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Look at that, not even any eggs! I know it sounds like of strange to use vinegar, but you don't taste it and it is a very small amount. Now that I'm thinking of it, I may use applesauce next time in place of the vegetable oil for a more healthy version. Trust me, once you make this, you will never use boxed cake mix again! This is so simple to make.
Heat Oven to 350 degrees.  In large mixing bowl combine all ingredients.  Beat with electric mixer, or I just used a wooden spoon, until well combined. Pour batter into well greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, altitude depending, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I found that when I made this in Colorado it took less time to bake then it did in Arizona, altitude difference, so just be ware of that and keep an eye on it.

I frosted it with my mom's famous Peanut Butter-Chocolate frosting! It is heaven in your mouth. These pictures were taken when I made the cake back in May for Josh's birthday.

Happy Chocolate Monday to all :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Veggie & Beef Stew with Char-Friendly Cornbread

Does anyone remember the show that was on Friday nights (if I remember right) that played movies and during commercial breaks they were cooking something that kind of went along with the movie or theme? I believe the theme song was "Beans and Cornbread" and had a little catchy jingle to it. Well I've been singing that all night while I made this great tasting cornbread, which by the way is DAIRY-FREE (or lactose tolerant)! So maybe not completely dairy-free, since it has an egg and some milk and butter, but I used soy milk and lactose-free butter/margarine! The stew was super easy since I got everything ready last night and threw it all in the crock pot this morning before I left for work and man did the house smell awesome when we came home from work. The cornbread was super easy to do when I got home and I had time to clean up the kitchen while it was cooking, multi-tasker!

Since I'm such a veggie freak there are a lot more veggies in this stew than meat, more veggie to meat ratio, plus I didn't have enough meat on hand so I just went with it. The stew was all made up by me and thrown together. The cornbread was followed along with a recipe in Taste of Home cookbook with the dairy substitutions and an added secret ingredient that I'll share with you!

6 small yellow potatoes, cut in large chunks (smaller than russet potatoes, probably4-5 cups worth)
1 small green bell pepper, cut in large chunks
1 medium white onion, sliced and chopped in larger chunks (smaller peices if you don't want big chunks)
1 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/4" slices
1 small bag of bite size carrots, cut in half (next time I would use regular size carrots and more of them)
3 garlic cloves, smashed

Put all veggies in a large zip lock bag and drizzle about 1/8 or 1/4 cup EVOO over to coat veggies. I added some spices to this: salt, pepper, garlic salt, red pepper can add whatever you want. Some pre-mixed spices may offer great flavor. Especially some you would season beef or steak with, since we'll be using beef. I let these marinade overnight in the fridge.

I had 1.5 lbs of beef for stew, chunked beef. I threw this in the bottom of the crock pot first. I always spray non-stick spray on the bottom of the crock pot, makes clean up SO much easier!

To the crock pot I added 2 cans of beef broth and 1 can of chicken broth. I would have liked to have used all 3 cans beef broth, but this is what I had. You couldn't even tell I used chicken broth, it just helped moisten and flavor the veggies and meat while cooking. After adding the meat, I seasoned with garlic salt, then added the bag of veggies and then the cans of broth. Turned the crock pot on high and it cooked for about 9.5 - 10 hours then I turned it on low/warm when I got home until we ate. WOW!!

Now on to the cornbread!

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream (However...I substituted dairy-free greek yougurt)
1/3 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1/4 cup butter, melted (I used dairy free margarine)

In a separate bowl mix all wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Secret Ingredient: Honey/Agave Nectar. This wasn't in the recipe and I thought it would be good. Everyone I know eats their cornbread with honey, so I added light agave nectar, very similar basically the same as honey but an organic-better for you type of honey. Tastes exactly the same. I added about 3-4 tablespoons worth, and tasting it after it was cooked, I would have added more. It was very light and just added that extra sweet, moistness. Add mix to a greased 8 inch square dish and bake for 25-28 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

It has been too long since I've had cornbread. I've never made it from scratch like I did here, always just had a mix and added water. And I worked at a BBQ restaurant for 6+ years and made cornbread by the dozens daily so I know how to made it, but it was nice to make it my own way.

I hope your weekend is warm and cozy if it's cold outside. It's almsot the end of October and its only 75 degress here, some fall!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Char's Original - "No-Ricotta" Cheese Stuffed Shells

Yes, you read that right this is an original made by me. I was looking around for what to make for dinner and remembered I found these jumbo shells at the store the other day. I've wanted to make stuffed shells for a while but couldn't find the shells. So now that I've got the shells, what do I put in them?! I've always seen recipes for ricotta cheese in shells, just like in raviolis and while I'm not one to keep a lot of cheese on hand, on account I'm lactose intolerant, I looked to see what I did have. I had bought a small chunk of parmesean cheese for making Josh's cheese-garlic bread and have some cream cheese for bagels. Why not make my own?!

About 2-3 big hand fulls of shells (uncooked). Depends how much "stuffing" you make
1/2 block or whole block of cream cheese (again, depends how many shells you want to make or how much stuffing you make)
1/2-3/4 cup shredded parmesean cheese
1/4 cup soy milk (use regular milk if you like)
1 cup chopped leaf spinach (I used fresh spinach)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
About 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (bottled or homemade)

In a large pot cook the shells just like any other noodle. Make sure not to over cook the noodles. Set aside.

In another small pot add butter and turn on low heat. Melt butter and add spinach, garlic and onion. Saute until spinach is wilted, 2-3 minutes. Add cream cheese and milk. Heat until mostly melted. Add in shredded parmesean cheese. Heat for a few minutes until mixture becomes thick and all melted. Add more parmesean or cream cheese to your liking, or more spinach of course. I made this on the fly so what I had and the amounts worked out great. It would be easy to double  if you wanted or make less for single serving.

Put shells in a casserole dish and top with tomato sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Wow-ie my house smells like Italy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Christmas Chili

The only reason I call this Christmas Chili is because of a Christmas party that we've gone to since it started a couple years ago. At this party there has always been a chili cookoff contest and prizes were awarded. I never entered in  chili, I just wanted to go and have fun. But last year I thought at the last minute, why not? So I whipped up some chili taking a few different recipes and smashing them all together to kind of make my own and BAM, I won 2nd place! Granted, there were only 8 entries and the top 3 won, but still! The other chili's were awesome. There was everything from green chili, red chili, all-bean chili, no-meat chili, white chili, you name it. The theme to this Christmas party has always been Cowboy Christmas. It's awesome. Some of our good friends host it out in the country near Johnstown, CO and it is an absolute blast every year. Some years colder and more snowy than others but still a great time with great friends. That is one thing I am going to miss so much about being in Arizona this year. Might have to make this chili just to remember them all!

1 lb ground italian sausage (use ground beef for less spice)
1 onion chopped
1-2 cloves garlic chopped
1 green or rell bell pepper chopped (add another for more veggie if you like)
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Add onions, garlic, bell peppers and a small bit of olive oil to a pan/skillet and cook for a few mintues until soft and onions are translucent. Cook the italian sausage (the secret ingredient!) in the same pan/skillet until cooked through. Now bring out the crock pot. Turn on medium heat, or low if you're going to cook it all day. Add the meat mixture and add beans, corn and tomatoes. **Here you can add more tomaotes if you like. I'm trying to remember if I added more, since I obviously did this on the fly and didn't write it down. Of course you can alter this and make it all tomatoes and no beans, all beans and not tomatoes, etc. Add the spices to your tasting and let it cook on medium for about 1 hour or low for 3-4 hours. I've been known to add more spice (fire) to my meals so here I think I added some hot sauce. Feel free to make this however you want. Like I said, I used many different recipes and ka-booshed them together to make my own.

a milestone along the path of life

"Birthdays are just another day to, twenty five years ago, you had just drawn your first breath, had your first meal and enjoyed the warm comforting arms of someone who, would hold you in highest regards for the remainder of their life. That first hour was all mine and I cherished every moment. Even if no one around you is celebrating..I am. Love is an easy word for such a deep emotion." -my lovely mom

my birthday was on thursday. for me, i always look forward to my birthday each year. i don't think i'll ever be at an age when i don't get excited to have my birthday. while as i get older the parties are smaller and there is less 'celebration' going on, i still get so excited. the night before i find myself unable to sleep because of the excitement. just like before the first day of school, for me anyway. this year was no different. on my birthday this year i had to work, which i will no better and ask for it off next year. it wasn't bad having to work, it was nice to be with people on my day. my mom had flowers delivered to me at work, which was amazing. she is always so thoughtful and thinks of everything. this was the give away how everyone else found out it was my birthday.

josh and i both had a day off together, yay! so friday night we went out for sushi dinner. yum! we had different kinds so we could share and it was amazing. my favorite was all of them! let's back up to thursday. when i got home from work i changed and went down to the pool to sit out in the sun for what was about 30 minutes of sun before it set. i went back to the house and josh was home. he was busy working on making a cake (from the box, but still with love). i bought the cake mix and frosting and he said he'd make the cake. what started out as a chocolate cake soon became a marble chocolate + white cake, since the chocolate cake mix was not enough to fill the cake pan. topped with chocolate + peanut butter frosting (one of my mom's touches). yum-o!

while he was doing the cake, i had a little scavenger hunt to go on, how fun! with notes in random places around the house with each a little clue of where to go next i spent almost 45 minutes looking around. he did good! even had to go downstairs to the neighbor's door for one. at the end of the hunt was a small box with a necklace inside. on the necklace is a small pendant with a small diamond and a bigger opal, my birthstone. "the diamond is for our 1 year anniversary and the opal is for your birthday" he tells me. what a guy! the necklace was definitely well hidden among the clues.

after our sushi dinner night we got to spend the whole day saturday together, a very rare thing for us. we got up and went to the bookstore and had coffee. i think we spent at least 3 hours there roaming through books. josh got his usual plant-disease-cure-what-not-to-eat-or-plant-and-how-to-grow-it-your-self book and i of course got a cookbook which i'm so excited to try out some more food! we went home to get a bite to eat and headed to the movies to see the new jackass movie. very funny by the way, their movies always are. we enjoy them, however at times they can be a bit too much and gross, but overall a great laugh and a great time together. we then went to the store and bought a few needed items around the house and came home and played around with the house-items and headed to bed. it was a great way to spend a whole day together. we definitely need more of those!

as for the milestone....i feel like turning the corner to 25 will bring me a lot more. not that i had low expectations from before or high expectations for the future, but i feel like there is quite a bit more to come. i have no problem telling people how old i am and love the feeling of being the age i am. it's just a number after all, you determine how old you want to act and feel. most days, i still feel like i'm 13 with endless energy and opptimism and not a care in the world, of course with an adult lifestyle of bills to pay. and every now and then i have a day where i feel 21 and need to recover, try not to have too many of those! like i said before, birthdays are very special to me and i love the entire sha-bang that comes with them.

bring on the "quarter century", "halfway to 50", "only 5 years to 30", "got your drivers permit 10 years ago" lines....i'm loving it all!

Chipotle Chicken Bites

I figured it has been a while since I've posted some of what I've been cooking up so here goes. I admit, I haven't been as timely to taking pictures of what I've been cooking. Work has been so busy and I just get home and cook something up and eat it and head to bed. So I'll strive to get better at that. Besides, there are a lot more delishness dishes to come this month. Mainly due to our Thanksgiving on Halloween event. My parents & brother are coming to visit on Halloween weekend and since they won't be here to do Thanksgiving and Josh and I both will be working, we are going to do Thanksgiving on Halloween.

Anyway, on to what's been cooking...

Chipotle Chicken Bites with Chipotle Mayo Dip
I guess I should start off by saying having found these won ton wrappers back a few months ago I've used them for about any use I can think of. And they are perfect! I found a recipe that talked about making phyllo dough chicken wraps or something and it used an avocado dip of some sort....but I've been dying to make this chipotle mayo dip that my good friend Ari gave to me so I botched this recipe and made my own, sweetness!

1 1/2 lb ground chicken
1 package of won ton wrappers (30) though you may not need all of them
1/2 onion chopped pretty fine
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese **optional for those lactose intolerant people :)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped and seeded (for more spice & fire leave some seeds in)
salt & pepper to taste

The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the international cooking asile with pasta and mexican food, small can.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine chicken, onion, cheese (if using it), garlic, salt & pepper, and chipotle peppers using some of the sauce in the can. Mix all together. Using the won ton wrappers add a small spoonful to the middle and fold up sides. I make it so it kind of looks like an envelope or a 4 sided pyramid?! Depending on how full you stuff them, make sure they close all the way, will depend how many wrappers you use. You can always get more wrappers or use more meat. This would probably work great using ground turkey as well. Put the bites on a greased cookie sheet and in the oven for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Chipotle Mayo Dip
You can add a dab of this inside the chicken bites or just use to dip with. This also goes great dipping fries, tator totes, etc. in!

Equal parts Mayo & Sour Cream (about 1/2 cup each)
2-3 chipotle peppers seeded and chopped (leave seeds in for more spice & fire)
garlic salt, about 1 tsp depending how much you like garlic
lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons worth

Combine all ingredients into a food processor and blend. Wa-la! It is kind of a make-it-as-you-go type of recipe but I absolutely love it!

This snack can be made for a game day treat, an appetizer before a big meal with friends and family or eaten as a meal itself as we've done before. It's great, not bad for you (maybe a little but you can't tell), and fills you up without filling you out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life Aside From The Kitchen

Life does go on outside of the kitchen, as hard as that may be to believe with all of the food posts I post. Rarely do I just post about random things anymore, so not to confuse that I do have a life outside the kitchen. While that has become a good new hobby for me, there are other things I do. For starters, I have a full time job and career as a meteorologist. Starting out my career there is a TON of training, and that is an understatement. Taking on this challenge has been a non-stop, deer-in-the-headlights feeling for most of the time, but nonetheless it is going well.

With any new experience there will be a lot of training and if you know me you know that I love to learn new things. I recall a time in high school during a Geography or Spanish class while sitting towards the back and having friends in the class we would pass notes and talk and at one point I turned to the guy next to me and said "Shhh, I'm trying to learn". How funny that seems now to say that as a High Schooler but it made complete sense in the big picture. I was not one to ditch classes or school. On senior ditch day I believe I came to school and got extra credit for being one of the few that showed up. I can remember the one class period I ever ditched, one and only during 4 years of high school. It was spanish class and I skipped with two friends to go to one of our houses, since we all lived so close, and have lunch. Woo-who rebels!

Anyway, the new job/career is going well. I'm a science nerd at heart and love all things weather. My passion for space weather is still quite present, as I check spaceweather daily. Coming to Arizona for weather, my first words were "Arizona has weather? Sunny and hot, repeat 365, right?". While this has been true 96% of the time since I've been here, I've come to learn Arizona has a different kind of weather. Most people may not think that heat is any significant weather, but when the thermometer reaches upwards of 112 degrees (or more) I'd consider that 'weather'. The impacts are different than I would have though, having never experienced temperatures above 101 before in my life, except in visits to Las Vegas. Other weather that has happened in Arizona have been the "freak" rain storms and this last Hail-of a storm last Tuesday, which looks to rank among some of the craziest weather that has happened here since the 1980's. By "freak" I mean sudden, fast, quick and not very severe/long-lived. Also, since being here the skies have been 98% clear. Upon moving here in March, I think it was until June that I didn't see a single cloud in the sky. That is very rare for this Colorado girl! As much as I love summer weather, clouds are a necessity to have in the sky for beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

If you're still with me, congrats. I know this is a pretty random and ramble of a post and I thank you for sticking with me!

Lately we've hung out with our neighbors downstairs, Jenny, Todd and Bertnee, and also our neighbor across the way, Sean, quite a bit. They are all such great people and have really been good friends to us. Outside of work for both Josh and I, we havn't made too many friends so to have people we get a long with and have a blast hanging out with that live so close has been a blessing.  Speaking of work friends, Josh has made a couple buddies at his work along with the guys that work for him. He's really broadening his Spanish and learning new ways to communicate. He's also feeling the stress of being "in charge" of guys and thus having to be on the phone and deal with more drama/stress. Such is life though, right?! And for me, after a long while of feeling "out of place" at work, I'm finally feeling like I'm fitting in and being accepted. Making a few friends at work has definitely helped. It is nice to have conversations with people at work that don't necessarily deal directly with work, I'm human too! So for that I'm thankful that some have taken me under their "wing" and befriended me.  It can be hard; you don't always get along with people you work with nor do you really have to, you just have to be able to work with them. For me, it sure has helped to get along with the people I work with.

Looking forward to the next few months of "nicer" weather and the opportunity to do more outdoors now that it won't be scorching hot. Will be interesting to see what the holidays are like here. As it stands now, it looks like we both will be working through all of the holidays so we'll just make our own holiday on another day, no biggie. It would just be us two anyways. Hard to believe its been over 8 months since we've moved here, time sure has gone by fast it seems.


Keeping up with everyone back home and all those babies being born. Holy cow, baby city! Let's see if I can count how many babies have been born since we moved. Steph B., Rebekah D., Ashleigh K., Kristi, Leota B., Alicia D., Katie M., Jennifer M., Susan S., and on top of that 3 more women are pregnant and due very soon! It must have been something in the water, but I'm so happy for all of them and all those babies!

Just a little randomness for now...I'm sure I'll have more for later :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sky's on Fire

Not literally, but it looked like it with these photos I took of a sunset back on Sept. 21st looking Southwest from our condo. Enjoy!

A full moon peeking through the clouds

The sky really looked like it was on fire!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Severe Weather - Arizona Style

First off, wow! What a crazy few days it has been here in Arizona. If I had known better, I would think I was in Nebraska or Kansas, not Arizona with this type of weather we've had. I was lucky enough to work all day Tuesday in Phoenix in the heart of it all, and what a long day it was. Phoenix got hit real hard Tuesday, widespread and all over, and Northern Arizona near Flagstaff got hit Wednesday with more severe weather. Talking to the people who have lived and worked here, they have said a storm like this hasn't happened since at least early 1980's, and they can't ever remember this many Tornado warnings, let alone tornadoes, happening ever. Flagstaff issued 28 tornado warnings on Wednesday, with 4 confirmed tornadoes at this time and 7 injuries. Phoenix had tennis ball and golf ball size hail on Tuesday, tying for the 10th largest ever reported in Arizona, with 4.50 inches being the largest ever reported back in 1995.

I helped take over 9 pages of storm reports on Tuesday and those were the ones that could get through the busy line and through local HAM radio; no one can ever recall that line being busy. My normal work day turned into a 15+ hour day! TV stations were covering most of the weather pretty well, with one reporter out in the action (like that guy from The Weather Channel who goes and stands out in the hurricanes?!) getting pelted by hail and covering the floods.

Early in the day SPC put out a Slight risk and a mesoscale discussion for Arizona. While at work, we talked directly to the lead forecaster at SPC, this was all too real and felt like we were really in for it, and this was all at 8:30 in the morning!

Some of the notable reports were 6 foot deep water under an underpass in North Phoenix, power poles and power lines came down on hwy I-17 and closed the hwy for more than 3 hours and backed up traffic (approx) 35-45 miles, multiple reports of wall clouds, shelf clouds and funnel clouds but no confirmed tornadoes in Phoenix on Tuesday, from our office window (facing Southwest towards the airport) we could see a very well defined shelf cloud, largest hail reported was 2.50 inches or tennis ball size, so many large trees damaged and brought down.

Here is a link of a slide show from AZ Central with some pictures from the storm. The storms moved all across the valley, it wasn't localized. These storms were moving very fast, over 40mph!

And here is a link from AZ Central of pictures from the storm damage by the Tornadoes up in Flagstaff on Wednesday.

NWS Flagstaff put this Weather Story out

And video video of the Bellmont (near Flagstaff by a few miles) tornado. You can see power lines coming down, near the ground as they "flare" or "Spark" when they hit the ground.

There are other videos on AZ Central that you can look through, one has a great shot of hail coming down in a pool in a backyard, so crazy!

Also, Flagstaff National Weather Service has a preliminary report out documenting all of the damage and tornadoes, updating regularly. The latest I read was that there were 5 confirmed tornadoes, but they are still surveying. My friend Chris that works there has gotten to go out on the surveys, so jealous! Flagstaff's Preliminary Storm Reports

Just thought I'd share some exciting weather news from Arizona!

Recent delishness & upcoming wonderfulisms from Char

Well it seems life has caught up to me and I forgot to post this about 2 weeks ago, yikes! What can you do when you work full time?! I havn't got pictures to put with this yet, I know, I know, but I wanted to send this out since I forgot and left it as a draft. Just to share some of the wonderful yummy ideas I've come up with and made in the kitchen. Still wanting to try the Taco Puffs, and will. Fall hasn't quite got here yet in Phoenix, but it is slowly creeping in. We've had some active weather over the last 2 days so that has kept me busy.  It seems that I've been nominated for an award, how in the world?! But it was from my long lost friend Amy over at Eating with My Mouth Open. How sweet! We went to school together way back in Kindergarten in Denver, CO and we've met up and found each other, what distance and time has separated us we've come back together! She is such a sweetheart and so crafty when it comes to cooking. Definitely an inspiration! Without further a-do....

Thought I would do a quick post about some of the wonderful things I've put together & come up with for dinner around here. 

So the plan for the week was:
Monday - Grilled Chicken & Scalloped Potatoes
Tuesday - Texas Bean Chili
Wednesday - Chipotle Chicken Bites w/ Chipotle Mayo Dipping Sauce
Thursday - Mac n Cheese
Friday - Grilled Corn w/ Brats

All of these were new ideas and recipes to me, having never made any of these. With a combination of glancing through cookbooks to find the recipe for Scalloped Potatoes, it called for pork chops but I substituted chicken since that was what I had, to find the recipe for Taco Puffs, to be made later, which I'm excited about because it sounds so good, and throwing together half recipe-half made up for the Chipotle Chicken Bites and then completely making up my own Texas Bean Chili, this week should serve as quite the cooking challenge....on top of working full time and keeping up with the start of hockey season!

First off, the Scalloped Potatoes were amazing and I had some great help with these, thanks Joshy! I did the chicken while he did all the works for the scalloped potatoes. What a great guy :) Turned out awesome!

Next for my attempt at a homemade chili type soup. I know what to do better next time, that is what I got out of doing this, haha! It wasn't bad, but could definitely be better and maybe add some meat next time.

These little bites were Ah-May-Zing!!! Wow, I definitely know what to make for an appetizer for a holiday party, holiday get together, party with friends, sports event party, Thursday night dinner, etc. Simple to make and such a flavor blast in your mouth and the potential to be more spicy, just the way I like it! There is something so filling about a little bite like this that you munch on that fills you up but doesn't make you overly full with a stomach ache.

Yes, I know I am lactose intolerant and can't handle cheese. I do very well staying away from it but sometimes I just get such an urge and want it! Don't worry, I paid for it later, and the next day :( But it was worth it!

I was in the mood to grill and had some corn on the cob I needed to use up. Pulled out some brats, spicy Italian sausage brats, from the freezer and added some beef broth flavored steamed Quinoa to go with. Yum! It still feels like summer here in Phoenix so I still wanted to grill.

Also, found another recipe I have to try: Taco Puffs.This recipe sounded so good, I just have to give it a try. After finding this recipe when I was just flipping through a cookbook I inherited from helping my brother move (thanks Jim!) whether he knows it or not, I took it and I'm making use of it. Man what a great idea for a recipe; taco filling inside a biscuit - yum!