Monday, February 28, 2011

Spaghetti Bolognese

I decided on my way home from work last Friday that I'd like to make something yummy for lunch for Jeremy. He's been working his behind off in school and at work and he's under a lot of pressure with this Europe trip, so I wanted to treat him.

I started flipping through my tagged recipes in my cookbooks and nothing looked too appetizing. I had The Easy-To-Use Beginner's First Cook Book by Bridget Jones open and started flipping through the recipes that weren't tagged [a walk on the wild side].

I started by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Once it was hot, I added a chopped up garlic clove (recipe also calls for a finely chopped onion, which I skipped). After cooking that for about five minutes, I added about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs (I estimated on that one) and substitued a few shakes of paprika for the pinch of cayenne pepper.
 Meanwhile, I was also making some beef stock with Better than Bouillon.
 After a few minutes of cooking the herbs in the garlic, I added one pound of ground beef and browned that.
Then, I added a can of diced tomatoes (next time, I will definitely put them in the blender first - was not a fan of those huge tomato chunks), about 3 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon oregano and pepper.
 I mixed all of that together and poured in 1-3/4 cups of beef stock (and skipped the suggestion of 3 tablespoons of red wine).
 Bring this combination to a boil, cover, lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. While it's simmering, stir occasionally.
 Jeremy and I had crescent rolls with it and it was delicious (despite the huge tomato chunks).
 Jeremy absolutely loved it. He told me it reminded him a lot of the spaghetti his mom used to make when he was growing up.
 Jacob ended up having some leftovers a couple days later. At first glance, he said "I don't think this is good, Vicky." I, of course, told him he would need to try it. After eating 2 noodles and piece of meat, he said "Thank you for this delicious lunch!" I finally convinced him to try the sauce "The sauce isn't bad, Vicky, I like it. I thought it would be spicy, but it's not."
I love that I'm using the stove more often and becoming more comfortable with it! This recipe was far from my comfort zone, and, not only was it very good, but I was even able to eat a few smaller pieces of tomato, which is HUGE for me. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Last weekend, I decided to try out making pancakes. I had literally never made pancakes in my life. Crazy, huh?
 I went through my trusty cookbooks and websites and chose the Buttermilk Pancakes recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, but made the changes for regular pancakes (milk for buttermilk, 1 tablespoon baking powder & no baking soda).

 Once I put the batter into the pan, I added chocolate chips.
This alteration made my boys ridiculously happy!
I'm proud that I'm slowly but surely becoming more comfortable using the stove. I'm also learning through experience why everyone prefers gas stoves, which never made a lot of sense to me before. Now, I really hope my next place has a gas stove!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Hello, Mr. Very Tall Animal. It's so nice to see you in my car window!

Last Sunday, the boys and I made the road trip out to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center [before my free passes from a former employer expired at the end of this month]. We had been once before - but, it was in the heat of summer. That time, we got there at about 8:00 a.m. to try to see the animals before they went to hide in the shade. Even still, about halfway through the zoo, most of the animals wouldn't come near us. It was just way too hot.

Anyway, we went back last Sunday. It was an absolutely beautiful day and all of the animals were out enjoying it with us!

The ostriches are kind of crazy and stress me out a little bit. They do things like: stand in the middle of the road so you can't drive through [pictured below] and I've even seem them stick their ugly heads in peoples' cars. Yuck!
The zebras are very friendly! This one was trotting right on over to grab some treats out of our hands.
The hair on your neck makes you look not-so-friendly, Mr. Zebra!
Sure, eat right out of Jacob's hand. I'm sure the slobber you leave won't end up on my car seats or anything.
Oh, you wanted treats, too?
On top of animals, there are some beautiful views at Fossil Rim.
Please get those horns AWAY from my car!
The boys were oddly okay with these large animals slobbering all over their hands. Gross.
I kept concentrating on the driver's side of the car (where the boys were) to take pictures, and I'd look back at my side, and there would be a strange animal patiently waiting for me to give them treats.
Again, the beautiful views. This is the scenery while eating at the cafe about halfway through the zoo.
Mr. Zebra, I think you might need to see an orthodontist. Just sayin'.
And the highlight of Fossil Rim [for us, anyway]: The giraffes!
Unfortunately, when we pulled up to the giraffes last time we came, they were hiding far far away trying to stay cool. This time, they had just been fed and wanted nothing to do with us.
The zebras, of course, wanted everything to do with us.
But, all of the sudden, that huge giraffe you saw above literally ran over to us. It was crazy and it was awesome. And, it stuck it's big 'ol head right up to our window. And we got to feed it.

And we loved it.
This picture was taken from outside my passenger side window of Mr. Giraffe on the other side of the car. He's up there in the clouds!
He was very pretty, too. After we fed him for a few minutes, he decided to share himself with everyone else and marched to the car immediately behind ours. So long, friend. We enjoyed our time!
The cheetahs were even wandering around this time!
Anyway, that was our experience this time at Fossil Rim and I would highly recommend to go during mild weather than, let's say, August. 
It's a fantastic time for the entire family, but Jacob especially loved it, of course. 
"I really like this zoo," he told us. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Alrighty friends, it was time for a new, more personalized look for Adventures in Domestication.

What do you think??
[Don't be too harsh - it was my first time using this kind of software!]

I think the background is just a tad obvious, but I created a few other things as well:

A signature!

Plus, a few indicators whether my boys like what I made/created or not:

Loads of new fun coming!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Alrighty, friends... I don't have any recipes, projects or even pictures for you today.

I'm just going to chat about a few minor accords to update everyone.
  • Today is 73 days until I graduate! But, who's counting?
  • As of now, I'm 100% on my New Years resolution... Go me! My resolution was to send out birthday cards to my closest friends and family. For some reason, I've never been good about that. I made month-by-month list (inspired by my step-grandma, Terry) of all the important birthdays and made sure I had addresses for everyone on the list. The resolution got off to a slow start because I had no January birthdays, but I got cards out to my friends Chelsey and Leslie for their birthdays - & they both received them before their birthdays. [Thank you Target for making this resolution affordable.]
  • In approximately 16 days, I'm almost certain I'll be headed to Europe with my two favorite boys! The trip is pretty last-minute because of some not-so-great circumstances, but we're going to make the best of it by exploring. It's going to be fantastic. 
  • Next week, I get to put my 60-day Notice in to my apartment complex. I can't wait to move! I feel like every time I go to open a cabinet, an avalanche ensues because I don't have room for anything! Moving ALSO means TONS of new projects for Adventures in Domestication - get excited, people.
  • Added update: A big congratulations to the boy! He was named treasurer of UTA's chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Great job, babe!
That's all I've got today! Have a great Wednesday, friends.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mac & Cheese

I've been making Pioneer Woman's Macaroni & Cheese for a couple of months now.

It's become a staple for my mini-family because it is delicious.
It's also been a hit among mine and Jeremy's friends!

I usually use penne pasta because it's usually the first thing I see when I open my pantry.
Then, I cook the sauce (I've never used the egg or mustard).
I grate about a pound of cheese... I used some mozzarella because it was already grated and I got lazy. This was my first time to use multiple kinds of cheese.
Melt the cheese into the sauce.
But! Leave a little bit of cheese! This is important... it takes this stuff from great to amazing.
Then, salt and pepper... I tend to do heaping on the salts (especially seasoned) and scant on the pepper.
Pour in the (drained) pasta.
Stir them together. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Pour it into a baking dish (someone please buy me Corningware! Hah!)
THEN, sprinkle the cheese you set aside on top.
It'll look a little something like this when you're done baking it and it'll taste DELICIOUS!
Make it soon!