Thursday, July 3, 2008

Exciting Purchases

Perhaps they're only exciting to me, but that's all that matters, right? Above, is my new favorite piece of jewelery. It says:

Count your blessings instead of your crosses
Count your gains instead of your losses
Count your smiles instead of your tears
Count your courage instead of your fears
Count your health instead of your wealth
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.

(Yup, really! All of that!) It's a mobius circle, meaning there's a twist in it; there's no beginning and no end. I love the poem around it. I'm not always the best at remembering all that I have to be thankful for. It sounds cheesy, but glancing down at this is a reminder to me. I have a feeling I'm going to wear this until it falls apart.

Next, we have the greatest piece of kitchen equipment I've ever invested in:

An onion dicer! I normally have to question most of the gimicky items I see advertised on TV. One day on the Today show, they tested several "as seen on TV!" products. This was the only one that they said was actually worth the ($15) investment. I hate chopping onions. It's not hard, but it's tedious, and of course, there are the tears to consider. With this, I chopped three onions in less than 5 minutes. I won't lie: the fumes (and thus the tears) are not completely eliminated, but they are significantly reduced. If you do any amount of cooking, I strongly recommend this product.

And finally, we have:

(I suppose I could have rotated the picture, huh?)

This is not something I normally buy. $5 for a bottle of dishsoap is pretty steep as far as I'm concerned. But today, my friend Amber issued a challenge (and corresponding giveaway) on her blog. In an effort to get her readers to go green(er), she's listed ten simple things that you can do. One of them is changing your dishsoap. I wasn't going to do this. I'm cheap. But I saw this in the store today, I decided to take the plunge. Really, in the broad scheme of things, it's a relatively small change to make. I was pleasantly surprised when I used it tonight: it works really well! I honestly don't think my dishes have ever gotten this clean. Though I had planned for this to be a one-time thing, I think this is a change I'm going to stick to.


I nearly forgot to post recipe reviews for last night and tonight!

Last night's Margarita Chicken was absolutely delish. (With a name like that, how could it be anything but?) It couldn't have been easier. My chicken happened to be thawed, but it doesn't need to be. You can plop it in the crockpot frozen. I can see this being a great last minute recipe (well, given that it's in the crockpot, it requires some advance planning, but you know what I mean).

Tonight was Potato Chowder. (Thankfully, it was fairly cool today.) This is the potato soup recipe that I have been searching for. It's very similar to the soup that one my favorite restaurants make. Next time, however, I will cut the cream cheese into smaller pieces. I cut it into about 1" cubes, and they really didn't want to melt. After thirty minutes of waiting, we finally just gave up and ate it as-was. (It was still wonderful.) I may even melt it separately next time, then incorporate it. Also, beware of the size of the recipe. Unless you're serving a lot, I'd strongly suggest halving this. We have a TON left over. I'm tempted to freeze it, though I'm not sure how that would reheat. I may try freezing a small bit of it, just to see what happens.

Also, for the chowder, I did not use canned condensed soup, but this recipe. I cannot recommend this recipe more strongly. I will never buy canned condensed cream of ______ soup again. I would eat this stuff by itself. I cannot describe how fabulous it is. If you ignore everything else that I say (which might not be a bad idea), please, do yourself a favor and try out this recipe. It will change your life. (Okay, that might be a bit of hyperbole. But then again, if you're a dork like me, maybe not.)

And one final recipe review: Hummus. My friend suggested this recipe to me, and I need to thank her. If you like hummus, you need to try out this recipe. To my surprise, Darren gobbled it down. I spread it on a pita and he polished off the whole thing (and then had some potatoes from the chowder besides!). I do have to confess to my stupidity: I didn't read the recipe as closely as I should have. It very clearly calls for one can of chickpeas, but somehow I got it into my head that it called for two. Long story short, I doubled the chickpeas, but nothing else. It was good, but still a bit smokier than I expected. It was only after I was cleaning up supper (and after Darren had polished off a bunch of it) that I realized my err. So I dug everything back out, dumped it back in the blender, and added the rest of the ingredients again. Consequently, I have a double batch. Good thing Darren likes it, too, because it looks like we're going to be eating it for a while! (And if you find yourself in the area, stop over. I'll send you home with some.)


I may or may not post tomorrow. Either way, have a fabulous Fourth of July and weekend!