Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. I almost forgot that I promised to show you our new appliances.

Sharp Microwave Drawer

One of the big things we wanted to do with our kitchen renovation was to get the microwave off the counter. At first we thought we were going to install the oven and a new microwave in the cubby that our former refrigerator was in but when the designer took the wall out in that area we were left without a place to put a microwave. We didn’t want one over the stove so luckily our designer was familiar with microwave drawers.

The Sharp Microwave Drawer is 1.2-cu ft so it has a very generous capacity. The control panel flips down when you need to use it and is held in place with a magnet when closed. So far the only flaw with the microwave is the location of the menu guide for the special controls.

You can only read it when the drawer is open and the way it sits under the control panel makes it difficult to read. I solved that problem by copying the menu from the manual and I keep it in a drawer with my potholders next to the microwave.

There is plenty of room for a dinner plate or you can put a few small containers of leftovers in and heat them at the same time.

This is very convenient for me.

The one drawback which we knew about going into it was that the microwave would be opening at dog level. If Millie & Walter were a bit taller they really would be able to stick their heads in there when it’s open. So far they’ve been very good about not trying to snarf anything out of it when it’s open. The biggest concern is making sure no doggie snouts are in the way when it closes. Here is a little video to show you how it opens and closes.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

I like our new microwave mom.

Next up is our new refrigerator. 

Because of its location we wanted to find a counter depth unit preferably with more capacity than our old one and this Samsung Food Showcase Refrigerator fit the bill. One of the things we liked best about this unit is that there are no handles sticking out.

The refrigerator side has an interesting double door. The outer one, or Show Case, is used for the items you use most often.

Show Case Door

The rest of the refrigerator is accessed through the “Inner Case” handle and you still have access to the Show Case items.

This is the first side by side unit we’ve ever had. With it being counter depth it’s very easy to reach everything on the inside.

The freezer side has plenty of capacity for everything we need. This is also the first refrigerator that we’ve had that has an ice maker and water dispenser and I’ve been giving it a regular work out too.

I thought you might like to see these new appliances since they aren’t very common versions. I don’t receive any benefit for blogging about them and the links are for the convenience of reading more about them if you are interested. We were lucky that we were able to catch both these appliances when they were on sale as well.


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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here to show you the final pictures of our kitchen. This might take a while so grab your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy.

First I will start where I last left off. The cabinets were installed and the finish details of the knobs, crown molding and base trim were in place.

The crew had a couple of days before the granite would be installed so they took that time to install all the appliances except the cooktop.

The granite was installed the Monday I was returning from my recent trip so I don’t have any pictures of that while it was being installed so here is the completed granite installation.

The granite color is called Santa Cecelia. The above picture doesn’t do the color any justice so here are a couple of close ups.

A wide view of the granite on our peninsula

A close up detail of the same area

The Santa Cecelia is described to have “colors that fall more in the grouping of gold-gray due to the slight hints of burgundy, ivory and black veins interlaced on the consistent white stone background. I also found this great description of all the colors found in this stone.

Next up it was time for the tile back splash to be installed.

Back splash tile without grout

We picked out Durango Travertine from Mexico in 3″ x 6″ tiles and paired it with Precious Gems Woodland Teak Glass and Slate Medley for the accent color.

Durango Travertine with Precious Gems Woodland Teak Glass and Slate Medley

The Precious Gems accent is described as a “collaboration of glossy and frosted glass with natural slate and quartzite”. We really love how the colors in the accent tiles resemble the colors in the granite.

Cooktop Backsplash Tile Detail

For the cooktop backsplash we used the same Precious Gems detail and paired it with the 4″x 4″ Durango tile. It is framed with Sandgate Antique Bronze Cove Liner.

Finally the cooktop and the glass for the cupboard doors was installed. It took quite a few days to clean all the cabinets and fill them up.

The kitchen looks great mom! When are you going to cook me some treats?

The view from our family room

I love all the large drawers we put in. They are great for holding pots and pans. The best part is that you don’t have to get on your hands and knees to try to drag something out of the bottom shelf any more.

This is a great place to hang out and be right in the middle of all the action.

Besides moving the door and window the biggest change in our kitchen was to remove a small wall that was on the left of the doorway from the family room that you can see above. You can see the wall in this next picture.

Old view of refrigerator

It created a little cubbie that our refrigerator fit in.

Corner where refrigerator used to be

Now there are cabinets that wrap around the corner. Without that wall the entrance from the family room is more open and makes the kitchen seem bigger.

View from the kitchen window

The new window is bigger and lower than the old one and gives us a beautiful view of the back yard. With LED under cabinet lighting the kitchen is very bright even at night.

View from the eating area

We don’t have the table in our eating area yet because Charlie is working on refinishing it. We really love is our new refrigerator. It is a Samsung counter depth unit and the thing we like best about it is there are no handles sticking out. I will do a review of it and our new microwave in another post.

I hope you have enjoyed watching our new kitchen construction. We are very happy with how it turned out. I have already done some cooking and felt it was great to work in. We now have a lot more counter space which makes it easy to prepare meals and work around the oven and cooktop.

I’m still catching up on my blog reading but now that this project is behind me I will have more time to comment. Thanks for your understanding.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here. We have a bone to pick with our mom. Do you know what day today is? Well if you keep up with the Blogville birthdays you will know that today is Walter’s birthday.

I’m 4 years old today!

That’s not all that is special about today. Do you know what else happened 4 years ago today besides Walter being born? Maybe this will jog your memories (for those that knew us then).

This was taken my first days in my forever home.

This was taken my first days in my forever home.

Look at me now!

Look at me now!

If you guessed that it’s Millie’s Gotcha Day you would be right. Once on this day mom baked us a cake to celebrate.

Mmmm...that smells great! Are we done with the pictures now?

This was a tasty blast from the past.

This time our mom says she can’t bake anything for us and she is claiming that it’s because her oven is broken! We’ll let her explain.

Hi everyone. It’s Cindy here. Back in the beginning of August our oven went dark.

Notice no clock showing on the oven.

Notice no clock showing on the oven.

We tried to get it repaired but there are no parts available for a 21 year old oven. When we went to buy one the sales person suggested we have an installer come first to make sure we were ordering the right size oven. Well since we have our cook top installed just above our oven it would have been next to impossible to find an oven that would fit under a 21 year old cook top. The only solution was to replace both of them. I won’t go into the boring details but there were delays in securing the cook top and as of now we have the new oven in our garage…

New oven...still in the box.

New oven…still in the box.

…and it will finally get installed this coming Thursday (along with the new cook top)! Mom Cindy out!

Millie Walter - Birthday Party Hats

Let’s celebrate!

Well we guess we will just have to find some other way to celebrate today but we hope our mom makes us a cake for her first time baking with the new oven.

We think since there isn’t going to be a cake today we should at least get extra treats.

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Hi everyone! It’s Millie & Walter here to tell you about the fantastic cake our mom made for us for our big celebration.

Millie Walter - celebration cake

Okay it might not be a fancy as the one we pictured on our celebration day post, but we think our mom did a pretty good job. She said the squirty green icing was not very easy to control, but you can still read it just fine. She found the recipe online at allrecipes.com and added some canned cream cheese frosting. Since she put frosting on it mom and dad decided it would be best if we had out pieces outside so we didn’t make too much mess.

Mmmm...that smells great! Are we done with the pictures now?

Mmmm…that smells great! Are we done with the pictures now?

We each got our own plate with a small piece on it (stingy pawrents!).

Millie Walter - eating cake

I, Walter, had my piece gobbled up in no time.

Nom, nom, nom!

Nom, nom, nom!

Whereas I, Millie, was more cautious about eating it and needed a little help.

Nom, nom, nom!

Nom, nom, nom!

While Millie was taking her time eating her piece of cake I had to just watch. It is torture watching Millie eat…she is sooooo slow!

Thanks for holding the plate dad.

Thanks for holding the plate dad.

Dad helped me out a bit too and held the plate so I could be sure to get every molecule of frosting.

Gobble, gobble...this is good.

Gobble, gobble…this is good.

After being so dainty with my cake at first I decided it was good enough to just snarf it down in one gulp. We are very happy that mom made us this great cake and we even got more for the next few days until it was gone. We are joining Sugar’s Tasty Tuesday blog hop today.

By the way all the ingredients in the cake are human edible too and our dad even tried a piece. His only complaint was that it was a bit dry. If it weren’t for the frosting he said he couldn’t have gotten it down.

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! The first thing I have to do is to credit my husband, Charlie, with the picture from the Black & White Sunday post since many of you asked. He really likes doing artsy pictures and converting them to black and white.

Now on to our day today. While I was prepping the big bird Charlie took Millie out for some play time.

The weather was very mild for us this time of year reaching 60 deg. F. and very sunny all day.  Millie always likes to start her time outdoors with a good stick. This stick is from our cherry tree and has been in the yard for a while. She is an expert retriever but likes to take a rest to nibble on it for a while too.

Does this rock make my butt look big?

In addition to all the shrubs and trees in our yard we also “planted” a lot of rocks in the yard. All the rocks were dug up on our property and most of them were moved using our tractor. Millie has recently discovered the rocks and likes to climb on them.

I’m Queen of the Hill!

Millie just started jumping on the rock on her own so we have been using a command (“hup”) to tell her to get on it and stay. She loves to find the rocks in the yard and climb on.

After Millie and Charlie were done playing outside they came in and Mille helped me clean up after whipping up my twice baked sweet potatoes. I was real happy that while the mixer was whirling around she was curious, but not scared of the new noise at all.

She really enjoyed diving into the bowl too.

What are you looking at Mom?

We had a nice dinner with all the fixin’s (sorry no pictures…too busy eating). When we first filled up our plates and took them to the dining room Millie stayed in the kitchen and after a minute we heard a whimper. It seemed that she was miffed that we didn’t fix a plate for her too.  She did enjoy cleaning all the plates after we were done eating. All in all I think Millie enjoyed her first Thanksgiving even if she didn’t get a plate full for herself.

This year has been a bit tough with Nina’s passing but we have a lot to be thankful for too. We are thankful that Nina gave us over 14 wonderful years. I’m thankful for all the love and support from my friends and family near and far. We are also thankful that this adorable, loving, bundle of fur has come into our lives. Thanks for being you Millie! We love you!

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Baking in July?

Yes, that is what I did this weekend.  Usually you would expect it to be too hot to do any baking during the month of July, but this year has proved otherwise.  The weather this summer has been unusually below average in temperature and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change any time soon.  We have been saving money on our electricity bill this summer by not having to run the air conditioning very much.  I have also taken advantage of the cool weather by baking and cooking like crazy the past couple of weeks.  Over the July 4th holiday long weekend, I cooked 4 dinners with plenty of left overs so for the next few weeks dinner is as simple as picking out what to have and heating it up.

Muffin Top Pan

Muffin Top Pan

As part of my weight maintenance program I like to have healthy snacks with  me at work so I don’t indulge in something I shouldn’t.  For my birthday recently, I ask for and received some baking mixes and muffin top pans from Vitalicious (Thanks Colleen!).  I had also re-arranged some things in the kitchen cupboards and discovered some muffin mixes I had for a long time and never used.  Normally these mixes call for whole milk, oil and eggs.  By substituting skim milk, apple sauce for the oil, and Egg Beaters egg substitute for the eggs I cut out all of the added fat the instructions normally call for.  To add a bit of fiber to the mixes without adding a lot of calories I added oatmeal to one of the mixes and crushed Fiber One cereal (original flavor) to another.  This didn’t effect the consistency of the mix or baking time at all.

In addition to the muffin tops I also tried a new brand of fat free brownie mix called Krusteaz I found at Wegmans. Charlie prefers “real brownies” over the chocolate Vitalicious Muffin Tops, but I refuse to make a full-fat variety.  The Krusteaz brownies are a big hit.  These brownies came out very fudgy with a great consistency.  I tried the No Pudge Fat Free brownie mix previously.  While very tasty, they are so gooey that they are almost impossible to cut into squares.

Brownies and Muffin Tops

Brownies and Muffin Tops

Baking is usually thought of as a winter activity, but I enjoyed being able to do some in the middle of July!  Now I have a good stock of muffin tops and brownies to last for quite a few weeks.  That way if Summer does come back I won’t have to worry about heating up the house when we are trying to cool it down with the air conditioning.

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taco-pizza-no-bkgndI love finding new recipes that are simple and delicious and make my husband, Charlie, rave every time he has it.  Not that I cook just to satisfy him, but it sure gives the ego a boost when something so simple can make anyone so happy!

Recently we purchased a frozen pizza with a Mexican flavor from Kashi and loved the combination of ingredients.  The crust was so thin it was as if it was made on a large tortilla.  Having recently scoured the Hungry Girl Recipe book, I remembered a recipe from the book that used a tortilla as the base for a pizza.  With a bit of creativity, both mine and Charlies, and a little help from Hungry Girl, we came up with this Personal Taco Pizza recipe.  It doesn’t take much time to whip this up and with a large cookie sheet we can bake 2 at a time.  Perfect for a quick dinner after a day at work.  Using the high fiber tortilla and beans keeps you feeling satisfied all evening so no desire for late night snacking!

Try it for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.  It is also vegetarian!

Download a copy of the recipe for your own recipe collection.

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Manhattan Clam-less Chowder

Manhattan Clam-less Chowder

Cooking for two can be a challange unless you don’t mind having the same meal more than once.  A new, full standing, freezer allows me to make more meals to save for the future.  Today I modified a recipe I found in a Weight Watchers cookbook.  Basically it is Manhattan Clam Chowder, but my husband, Charlie didn’t want any clams in it.  It turned out to be another great slow-cooker recipe.  I love dumping a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting it cook all day.  The house smells great and it is the perfect activity for these ultra cold days we have been having around here.  If you would like to try the recipe I have saved it as a pdf for you to download.

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