Happy Early Holidays Everyone

Christmas has come early to the house of Jinx this year.  I don’t know exactly where it all started but I think it was when my Sister-in-law Katie said something on Facebook about putting up her tree already and it kind of snowballed from there.  I mentioned to to Waldo and he said that it was a great idea to put the tree up now, that way we’d get more time to enjoy it.  I told my Mother-in-law what we were planning and she loved the idea.  Now we have our tree up in our family room, my MIL has her tree up in the livingroom and Katie has all of her other decorations up (her house looks great) and her tree will be up any day now.
Christmas Tree 2011

The tree was just the beginning though.  I’ve already spent one afternoon baking and gifted our new next door neighbor a lovely box full of Holiday Cheer.
Early Holiday Chocolate Chip And Mint Cookies

I made two different cookies and rice crispy treats all with a mint theme.  Here are my chocolate chip cookies with a hint of mint.  I cut up Andes Mints for these.  I also made Triple Chocolate and mint Crinkle cookies.  I added chopped up Candy Cane Kisses and Andes Mints to the crinkle cookies. I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of those. And now I can’t even find the recipe online. I got it from last December’s Food Network Magazine and it is amazing.

Cut Up Peppermint Kisses

These are the chopped up Candy Cane Kisses that I put on top of the rice crispy treats.  I loved them.  Waldo informed me he’d rather have semi-sweet chocolate then white minty chocolate. All the sudden I have no idea who he is anymore.

Happy Cookie Girl

Lily got to enjoy a little cookie after her lunch and she thought it was the greatest thing EVER.


Here are my finished packages. One to my Sister-in-law Katie and her family and the other two to neighbors.  We tried to give the neighbor’s theirs tonight, but only one of them was home.  We might be forced to eat the other box,  you know I can’t give away 3 day old treats, it would do. Forced I say.

Hey you can see the Triple Chocolate and Mint Crinkle Cookies in the box, they are covered in powered sugar. Yay I did sort of get a picture of them.

Early Holiday Packages

Happy Early Holidays Everyone!  Enjoy!

All of these pictures were taken with my phone in less then stellar light. Sorry.

Random Mobile Shots

While these aren’t totally random, they are all from my phone.

We’ve been to the zoo in Boise twice since moving here and both times we got Lily some popcorn. She loved it, but we hated that it was full of crap so we decided to buy an air popper. I found one at a thrift store for $5.99 and it’s been sitting in a box since that day. We bought some organic popping corn at the food Co-op, so now it was just a matter of deciding that I was adventurous enough to try making it. Today I decided was that day.

Popping pop corn

Lil's checking it out.

I read that you can put 1/2 cup of popcorn in the chamber and that makes about 18 cups of popped corn.  I didn’t want nearly that much so I used the little butter cup that comes with the machine filled most of the way full and was happy with the bowl full of popcorn we got.  It was still too much, but not as bad as 18 cups.

Popping pop corn

The little kearnels are heating up and dancing around.

Lily wasn’t a fan of the machine’s noise, I tried and tried to get a picture of her with her hands over her ears, but didn’t manage it.

Popping pop corn

The corn is starting to fly.

Once it started popping it went very fast.

Popping pop corn


I started to panic that my bowl was going to overflow, but luckily it was just perfect.

Popping pop corn

The blur is Lily trying to hold in her excitment.

Popping pop corn

Which one should she try?

Popping pop corn

This was her fourth or fifth handful.

She loved it and kept stuffing pieces in my mouth because she just had to share the yumm.   She ran upstairs to tell her Daddy all about it too.  I think the Popcorn was a huge success and using the air popper was crazy easy.

p.s.  Lily tinkled in the potty this morning.  YAY!

Grilled potato wedges

I saw part of a episode of Grill It! with Bobby Flay where he was making some grilled potato wedges and both Waldo and I said almost at the same time that we had to make those.  They looked so good and sounded really easy to make.  I was surprised to find out that they were in fact very easy to make, if you don’t burn your oil.

par-boiling potatoes

Parboiling taters

Grilled potato wedges

My finshed wedges


Grilled Potato Wedges with Hot Garlic and Red Chili

adapted from Bobby Flay’s Grilled Potato Wedges with Hot Garlic, Red Chili, Parmesan and Parsley

  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil Sunflower oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (which I totally forgot to add)

Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water, add some kosher salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer slowly till soft but firm (about 40 minutes).  The potatoes must be cooked through and fork tender, but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside to cool slightly, then cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.

I carefully covered the wedged (which were on a cookie sheet) with some sunflower oil, salt and pepper, then I wiggled them around to coat all the sides. Grill until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan until it begins to shimmer, this is very important, shimmer not simmer.  Do not try to simmer the oil, it doesn’t go well. Remove from the heat and immediately add the garlic and red chili flakes and let sit for 1 minute. Season the oil with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the cheese (if you don’t forget) and serve immediately.


I wish I would have had the parsley that the original recipe called for, but I forgot to grab it at the store. I think it might have added a nice herby flavor.  And I really wish I hadn’t forgotten about the cheese, but you know what, I didn’t notice anything was missing until I saw the cheese on the counter after I was done eating.  Next time I’ll add the cheese for sure.

Grilled mushrooms

I am not a fan of mushrooms. I will eat them sliced very thin in our salads, but I don’t want to eat them pretty much any other way.  Waldo however loves mushrooms, he eats them with steak (well he did before he went pescetarian), on pizza, on just about anything he can.

I read in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that people that convert to vegetarianism have to change the way they think about meals.  Meat eaters have a meal that centers around a main dish (meat usually) and then a side dish or two.  Vegetarians usually eat what amounts to a bunch of sides and that is how its suppose to be.  These grilled mushrooms made a great side to add to Waldo’s plate.

Waldo loved, Loved, LOVED these mushrooms.  They were easy to make and he said it was like eating meat.  He never believed people when they said that mushroom cooked the right way could taste like meat, but he believes it now.  He said that at first he tasted a really good steak and the rest of the bites were pork.  He is a big fan now and says that these mushrooms need to be on our weekly menu.

Speaking of weekly menus we have a very boring selection of food options, this is mainly my fault as I’m the pickiest person you will likely ever meet.  We have about 8 dishes that we rotate through, so our dinners are pretty routine.  I’d like to add options and broaden our menus.  I want eating to be healthy and really enjoyable.  My goal for the next few months is to get a wider array of food options for my family.  If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.

We made 2 shiiitakes and 1 cremini. I cut the sauce amount in half and it was still a little more then I needed, but not by much. I didn’t get a picture of the finished mushrooms because Waldo was enjoying them too much to let me at them.

mushrooms getting ready to be grilled

Mushrooms waiting their turn

Grilled Mushrooms

adapted from How to cook everything vegetarian by Mark Bittman

1/3 cup EVOO

1 tablespoon minced shallot, scallion, onion or garlic (I used a little shallot and garlic)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, if available (I only had dried thyme and Waldo was fine with that)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large portobello mushrooms, trimmed and cut in half right down the middle; or 12 to 16 cremini, trimmed and cut in half or left whole; or 12 to 16 shiitakes, stems removed, caps left whole or cut in half

Chopped parsley for garnish (I left this out because I forgot parsley at the store)

Heat the grill until quite hot and put the rack about 4 inches away from the hear source.  Mix the EVOO, shallot/garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Brush the mushrooms all over with about half the mixture.

Grill or broil the mushrooms with the top of their caps away from the heat until they begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Brush with the remaining oil and turn. Grill until tender and nicely browned all over, 5 t 10 minutes more. Garnish and serve hot, warm or at room temp.

Salad takes on a new life for me

We eat salad at least a couple of times a week and we have a standard format for them.  They are always the same: cut up romaine, baby spinach, shredded carrot, sliced mushroom, broccoli, avocado, occasionally hard boiled eggs.  Waldo uses a Parmesan ranch dressing and olives.  I add hemp seeds and 1000 island dressing.  We have both wanted to try different dressings, but I’m picky and have been putting off finding something new.  We haven’t gotten tired of the salad yet, and frankly we are both surprised by that.  Oh well.

So I was going through How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and found a good simple vinaigrette.  I couldn’t wait to try it.  Like I said on the pasta sauce post Mark Bittman makes good base recipes with a lot of variations listed.  We loved the vinaigrette and can’t wait to try some different versions.

I made some changes to fit our likes, but it’s a really good base recipe.  I’ll add my changes at the end.


adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1/2 cup good EVOO

3 tablespoons of a good wine vinegar, plus some to taste

salt and pepper

1 large shallot cut into chunks (optional)


Put the EVOO and vinegar in the cup of a immersion blender and spin.  It should get creamy in about 30 seconds or so.  Add salt and pepper and taste.  Adjust with more seasoning and 1 teaspoon of vinegar at a time if necessary.

Add shallot and blend again.  Taste again and serve.

Waldo and I both loved it and I really appreciate that Bittman give a lot of variations for most of the recipes. I can’t wait to try some vinaigrette versions.


I used:

Sherry vinegar which Bittman recommends and I agree with.

1/2 large shallot



A few days after trying this vinaigrette we tried it again with a teaspoon of mustard as was suggested in the variations and we hated it.  Hated. It.

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