Sunday, July 31, 2011


I love summer. I love summer because of eating outdoors. I love eating outdoors with friends at BBQs.
Tonight for dinner we were invited to a friends house for a BBQ. They provided the hamburgers and hotdogs, the guests provided the side dishes. I love side dishes. I didn't eat a hamburger or hot dog, I ate the side dishes.

I brought Cucumber and Dill salad. I discovered this recipe around the 4th of July. It is now my go to potluck dish. It's super easy, super yummy and relatively healthy. I also love it because it's light and refreshing.

Here's a link to the original recipe and here's how I make it when sharing:

Cucumber & Dill Summer Salad

1 Medium Onion Sliced Thin
2 Large English Cucumbers Sliced into Circles
2 teaspoons White Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Grape Seed Oil
Generous Amount Of Dill
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Slice onion and cucumber toss in a bowl with vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and grape seed oil. Chill before serving.

This will taste even better if you make it the night before and chill in the fridge overnight.

All I can say is yum.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The best Banana Bread Ever

I didn't cook dinner (or lunch or breakfast even!) today. We were really good the last two weeks and didn't eat out, not even once, so we treated ourselves today. :)

I owed a good friend something "handmade" and I don't do much besides cook. I don't knit, sew, scrapbook or any of that nonsense, I cook. I was more than happy to make her banana bread. I love the way my house smells after making banana bread. So while this blog is about dinner, this post isn't. This post is about the best banana bread ever.

It comes from this cookbook:

This is the best cookbook for the old fashioned basics. I love this cookbook.

Here's the recipe-- enjoy!

Directions:Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 1/4 hr

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside.

2 In another bowl combine egg, bananas, sugar and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts.

3 Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven 50-55 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool on rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and store overnight until serving.

P.S. That last part is hard, but storing the bread in plastic wrap overnight makes it about a 1,000 times better.

Too many new things...a day late.

We had our steak dinner last night. Overall, I was a little disappointed, hence I didn't blog last night and folded 5 baskets of laundry instead.

My husband BBQ'd the steaks. I made mushroom couscous and my in-laws brought over fresh salad fixings. It looked like I had a salad bar in my house. It was awesome, fresh lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, sunflower seeds...the list goes on, I was in heaven. If I ever open a restaurant it will be a salad bar restaurant and even if I'm the only one that eats there I will be in heaven. Oh and we BBQ'd peaches for dessert.

For steaks we typically use this Santa Maria seasoning. It is wonderful. We use it on chicken a lot as well. During a recent Mom's Group event I received this steak seasoning by Tom Douglas:so I decided to give it a try. It was good, but not as good as our Santa Maria. This rub was quite a bit sweeter, the Santa Maria's is more savory.

For the couscous I used this recipe that I found during a Google search. I added sauteed shallots and pine nuts as well. The couscous turned out ok. I doubled the recipe, but didn't have two packages of dried mushrooms so I used just plain water for the extra liquid. I think it would have been way better with the right amount of mushrooms and mushroom broth.

I also sauteed some fresh mushrooms. My mushroom recipe is easy, get a package of whole mushrooms, quarter them and saute them in butter. I love mushrooms, raw or cooked. I like to keep my mushrooms simple.

Below is a picture of the meal. Not the best picture, while I love my iPhone it isn't really good at taking good pictures of food.

Oh here's my delicious salad...yum!
We bought a big box of peaches at the farmer's market on Thursday and the plan was to make peach cobbler. The peaches were still a little firm so we decided to try and BBQ the peaches instead. I am continually hearing how good grilled peaches are so was excited to give it a try. After lots of internet searching I decided on this recipe. I didn't use the basil though, I'm not a big fan of fresh basil. I was a little apprehensive of the balsamic vinegar, but almost every recipe I found called for it. (I'm glad I used it, I really liked the flavor it added.) As I'm sure you can tell from the picture, the peaches turned out just eh. I think either our grill was too cold or the peaches too firm. We are going to try again once the peaches are riper. The vanilla ice cream was super yummy with the peach juices though!

Hopefully the next time I cook I'll be more excited with the results. :) That's what I get for trying too many new things in one meal!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Picnic Dinner

Every Thursday evening the community center in North Bend has a farmer's market. Eli also has swim class at the same community center on Thursdays. It's not a very big market, but we're happy with it. Carter LOVES the farmer's market, mainly because they have Hawaiian Shave Ice.

One of my favorite summer traditions is visiting the market and then staying for a picnic dinner. Unfortunately, we're still waiting for summer to arrive in Western Washington and we haven't had good enough weather to have our picnic dinners. We finally had the perfect weather today. It was around 74 degrees, warm, but not too warm, and sunny, but not too sunny.

Here's what I packed for our picnic dinner, yes I tend to over pack. A lot of the items are from Trader Joe's. I LOVE Trader Joe's. I'm sure I'll be expressing my love for that store quite a bit through out this blog.

One of Eli's favorite things to do is play in our pantry. He pulls out all shorts of random things and is always very proud of himself. While I was packing our picnic dinner, he had access to the pantry. This is what Eli thought we should pack for the picnic:

It's become a tradition that Carter and I share a Hawaiian Shave Ice while Daddy and Eli do swim class. It's one of my favorite Mommy and Carter times. I look forward to it every week. :)
The best part of the Shave Ice? The funny tongue colors! The flavors lime, blue raspberry and grape make this color:
During dinner we got to listen to some music, sorry I forget the band's name. The music was fun with a good beat and the boys had a blast clapping and dancing along.

Next week I'll have to take a video of Carter dancing, it's super cute!

Jon and I also treated ourselves to some fresh handmade tamales at the market. They were delicious. Carter was super excited because he got to pick fruit from the market to go with dinner. He picked peaches, an apricot and blueberries. :)

Tomorrow night I'll be doing some real cooking, steaks, sauteed mushrooms and couscous. I'm already hungry.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Tonight for dinner I really didn't cook anything, I just prepared a meal. (Hey, I never said I'd be making something from scratch every night!)

Here's the supplies:

Can you guess where they all came from? If you guessed Costco, you win! (Sorry, there's no prize this time around.) We also had fresh raw red bell peppers on the side, those too came from Costco, but they didn't make it into the picture. (But my goodness were they delicious!)

Orange chicken, rice (always Jasmine in our house) and spring rolls is one of our favorite quick meals. I'm sure I could make the orange chicken and spring rolls from scratch, but remember I chase after two small children all day. I have no time for such things right now!

Now let me take a second to talk about these spring rolls. They are by far the best store bought spring rolls, egg rolls, or even gyozas I've ever had. Plus they come with a wonderful dipping sauce. They are super yummy-- I could each a bunch of them (and nothing else!) for dinner and be happy. If they have them at your Costco, go try them now!

That's it for tonight. So you be the judge, did I cheat?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This isn't really the best way to start out, things will get better and more exciting, I promise!

We had leftover enchiladas tonight. Eli (my youngest son) had swim class until 6:30, so by the time we got home there was no time to cook. I made a big batch of enchiladas last night so we'd have leftovers for today.

I intend to take pictures of my dinners, but there's no picture tonight. Leftovers don't take good pictures. I'm sure I'll post about my enchilada method in the future, tonight it's all about the sauce.

I've always used enchilada sauce packets. You know the kind you just add tomato sauce to? Recently I decided to try making my own. After a few Google searches, one try at a recipe that I wasn't happy with, and more Google searches, I finally found a great recipe. It came from the website This was my first visit to this site but now that I've found it I'm excited to keep up to date with it. It looks fun and helpful. Here's a link to the originial recipe.

Here's how I made the recipe. I doubled it, plus added more garlic powder and added onion powder. (We like garlic and onions in the Cantrell house.)

Simple Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe
(adapted from

4 TBSP Vegetable oil
4 TBSP all purpose flour
4 TBSP chili powder
2 rounded tsp cumin
4 cups chicken broth (1 carton)
15 oz tomato sauce (1 can)
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil is hot, whisk in flour and chili powder. Cook for one – two minutes just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Super easy, super quick and super yummy-- my kind of recipe-- enjoy!

Here we go...

I've wanted to write a "real" blog for years. I've started two, but didn't keep up with them. (One lasted two weeks, the other I never posted on. Not even once.) I recently decided to give it another try. I really took my time deciding what my newest blog should be about. I realized it had to be something I was passionate and excited to talk about, otherwise, like my other two blogs, I would get bored too quickly.

I've decided to blog about dinner. I make dinner for my family (typically) 6 times a week. I really like to cook and eat at home. With two small children, it's just easier to stay home than to eat at a resturant. We do eat out, there are just some things I just can't cook as well, Mexican rice for example, but it typically turns into more work than just staying home would have been.

I've always been told I am a good cook and people are always asking what I've made lately. I'm not claiming to be a chef. Most of my recipes come from an outside source, and I will be giving credit where credit is due. I love sharing yummy recipes and I love trying new things. We're also a family on a budget and short on time, so quick, afordable, yummy recipes are my favorite.

I'm going to be upfront and realistic, I may not be posting everyday. I'm going to try my hardest, but sometimes the four baskets of laundry staring at me are going to win the priority war. I'll do my best to post nightly, but my posts may turn into weekly recaps! (I'm telling you being a stay-at-home mom to two young boys is hard work!)

I hope you all enjoy this adventure with me. I'm really excited to get started-- let's see how a I feel in a week! ;)