Saturday, July 30, 2011

the goose loves chinese chicken salad

I know you are all patiently waiting to hear about my awesome anniversary present from Billy. Too bad, though, because it doesn't photograph easily, so it'll be a little while before I get photos of it up here.

In the meantime, I have LOTS of posts that will leave your tummy grumbling! Mine already is, and I just had breakfast...

First off is one for my mom - I finally made her recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad! I think there's a more politically correct name for this, but we're going for the familiar.

I haven't gotten her permission to share her secret recipe over the internet to my "millions" of followers, but I'll give you the basics.

Toast dry Ramen noodles, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and any other nuts and seeds you squirreled away last winter. Watch the toaster so they don't burn! (Note - if you have a vertical "pop-up" toaster, I do not reccommend throwing your seeds and nuts in it to toast them. Use your oven.) Then whip out some chicken and fry it in the pan (or bake, or broil, or boil, or whatever). Chop roughly. Meanwhile, have your husband cut up the lettuce. And then mix the dressing. The basics are olive oil (the good stuff!), vinegar (red wine, white wine, apple cider, balsamic, or all of these...), the Oriental Ramen packet seasoning, and soy sauce. Whisk vigorously, or shake in your cruet if you are fancy like my mom and have one of those. :) (Mom - why didn't you tell me to put one of those on my registry??) Oh yeah - here's the lettuce. We used napa cabbage from our farm share (the original inspiration for making the salad) and a romaine heart, too. Good to note - we cut up an entire head of napa and an entire heart of romaine and got about 5 lettuce-servings-worth. THEN we talk to my mom who says that cut lettuce gets brown, so don't cut it all. Bad timing. So we crossed our fingers and sprinkled some lemon juice over the cut lettuce we weren't going to use. The next day, I took some lettuce to re-create the salad at work, and it was green and crispy! We then enjoyed another serving each of salad with the remaining lettuce two nights later, and not one brown leaf! So use lemon juice. That's the secret. Or just don't cut so much. Mmmm Ramen. Reminds me of college. And finally, the best part. Mixing it all together! Well actually eating it is most fun. And most tasty. Just eat it right away, otherwise it'll get soggy and yucky. See, Mom? We eat healthy! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the goose loves fundraising success!

Last Friday, I posted about The Great Fundraising Act, a blogger auction for Susan, who was just diagnosed with lymphoma. The fundraiser is now officially over, and a total of $26,432 was raised! You can read more about the results on Susan's Blog or on Janetha's blog (which hosted the auction).

And my little entry didn't do too bad, either! My
custom made apron listing came in at $125! I wish I could normally sell them at that rate! :) That also means that I'll be making a lovely apron/mitt set for Susan as well (actually - I was going to make a set for Susan no matter what, but I wanted to up the ante and get as much money generated for her as possible!). So Susan, I'll be in touch!

And for the winner, Deborah Spear, we'll be in contact too! I'll put together some ideas/samples, but start thinking about your favorite styles and colors. I don't think the apron will be ready to go in a week, which is the normal shipping time for the auction items, but I promise we'll get going right away so that you can have a beautiful apron set ASAP! :)

A huge thanks to all the bidders and blogger donators, etc, for pitching in for a fabulous fundraiser. I'm so happy to be a (little) part of the cause.

Friday, July 22, 2011

the goose loves fundraisers

So today's post is very much not about me, but rather about a special lady facing a difficult time. Through the blogger world (it's as addicting as facebook! you read one blog, which leads you to another, and another...), I came upon Susan's story. She's a lot like me - young, good history of health, loves her family, food, and life. But she's a little not like me - she was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. But she's taking it like a champ and will keep blogging her way through it. You can read a little more about Susan here.

Although new to her blog, after reading through many of her entries, I was inspired by her strength and I really felt for her struggle. I can't imagine my life being turned upside down like that, and if it were, I definitely couldn't handle it with as much grace and optimism as she has.

Like many people suddenly diagnosed with a serious disease requiring lots of hospital time, medical treatments, and prescription drugs, Susan is faced with quickly-mounting bills - money that most of us wouldn't just have. So to keep her focused on recovery and healing rather than paperwork and finances, her blogger world is coming together to host an online auction/bakesale. All the proceeds go directly to Susan, and all the bloggers/bidders can enjoy some seriously awesome goods.

I wanted to contribute or help out in some way to the auction, besides just bidding, so I sent in an auction listing. I'll put my plug in here, but you can also visit the official site to check out all the other auction items and formally bid on any of them.

My auction entry is one handmade, custom-designed apron and matching oven mitt. I've made a few so far, and have lots more styles I'd like to try, so I thought it might be a good fit. There aren't any other aprons listed in the auction (that I know of) but there are lots of foodies/bakers/cooks browsing the auction and listing goods, so I figured an apron set would be at home here.

The one winner will work with me to choose a design and fabrics for a custom-made apron - I'll be sure to get the right sizing and styles and embellishments! I'll also make a coordinating oven mitt so they look super darling in the kitchen. Or when hosting. Or just when they wear it for fun! I can make an apron for an adult or child, and I'll ship to the US and Canada (Susan is from Canada, so they expect some decent Canadian support!).

Since there will be communication and custom work involved, the apron might not go out exactly within the 1-week timeline for shipping products, but a two-week turnaround is very doable. So if you're not busy on Monday, or if you are but you still want to support this fundraiser, go check out The Official Fundraiser Page and throw some bids down! Susan, we're all rooting for you!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the goose loves puppy parties

I know that all y'all are just waiting for the big anniversary gift reveal. You've probably been checking back into the blog every 5 or 10 minutes to see if I've posted photos of the most lovely anniversary gift on the planet.

So sorry to dissapoint.

The photos have not yet been taken, since we've been quite busy with other things. Plus, the present is rather tricky to photograph. So I'm also working on the technical aspect of that.

In the meantime, though, I have a wonderful post to share!

On July 10th, our dear darling devil - I mean puppy - turned 1 year old! That's right - 365 days on this earth. Not quite 365 days with us, though - only about 305 days with us since he was a little two-month-old when we picked out his cute little face.

Anyway, July 10th came and went and on the evening of July 11th, Billy says to me "When's Bentley's birthday again?" And I said "OOOOOOOOHHHHH. Horrors of Horrors! We MISSED HIS BIRTHDAY!" And yes, I said it in all caps. In our defense, Bentley forgot to remind us.

So while Bentley was busy turning one, we were busy doing other things. And in our guilt, we decided to make it up to him with a party! Lucky for us, another good puppy friend of ours also had something to celebrate. On July 10th, Dakota celebrated her second anniversary of being with her lovely owner and one of our best friends, Jackie! And it was decided. We'd celebrate the birthday and anniversary all at once, and July 19th was chosen as the perfect party day.

Jackie brought her two-year old lab Dakota (who is Bentley's best friend and girlfriend), Carolyn brought some bratwursts, and we all convened at our house for some BBQing-Bachelorette Watching-cupcake eating fun. Billy and I picked up a dozen mini people cupcakes and two mini puppy cupcakes from Cupcake Jones. Here are some of the people ones: Top left is lemon coconut (Carolyn's choice), top right is vanilla (Jackie's choice), bottom left is red velvet (everyone's choice!), and bottom right is chocolate strawberry, which three of us enjoyed.

And then the puppy treats!! Dakota and Bentley each got their own plate of a puppy-friendly cupcake (apples and carrots or something, with yogurt frosting?), a half-scoup of low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt (yes, puppy safe!), and some donut-shaped doggie treats. Sorry for the blurry photos - the real camera has found legs and walked away... for now... And here we are trying to keep Bentley from engulfing all of the treats all at once. He would SO do that if given the chance. And a better angle. Mom - I'm wearing a skirt with shorts underneath - I'm not naked on bottom - sorry about so much leg! :) Bentley is focusing on his food, making sure it doesn't run away. And looking at me, asking "Can I eat it now? What about now? I'm ready!!"

After we felt that Billy had probably gotten enough "before" photos, we let Bentley "dig in." Which means that I started feeding him frozen yogurt on a spoon. But then frozen yogurt started dripping on my leg, so we had played enough of that game. I put a spoonful on his plate instead, which he engulfed in one little puppy breath.

I'm not sure if there is a such thing as a puppy brain freeze, but if there are, Bentley definitely got one!

Once he polished off the froyo about five or six seconds later, we moved on to the cupcake.

Wanting the moment to last for at least a minute or two, I cut the cupcake in half and gave him a portion at a time.

He inhaled that half in no time at all. I hope he sort of tasted it as it went down!

He finished off the second half in one swoop, no problem, licking up the dog treat border too.

Meanwhile, his girlfriend was calmly and politely enjoying her anniversary treat. She daintily licked her frozen yogurt, even though it was sliding off her place (yay for sticky floors, which Billy cleaned up later!). She also enjoyed her cupcake in several bites, savoring the flavors of apple, carrot, and yogurt. Mmm.

If only my puppy was so patient.

Overall it was a great party with great friends. And the puppies had fun too. I think we'll have to do it again next year!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the goose loves brownie bite surprises

In case you didn't read the post before this one, Sunday was our 1st Wedding Anniversary. We had a great day - went to church, watched UP soccer players play for USA in the World Cup and lose, checked out Volvos, walked around 23rd Ave, and went to dinner! We didn't get dessert at dinner, so I figured I'd make something tasty at home. But by the time we got home again, we were stuffed and sleepy and busy getting ready for the workweek. So no anniversary dessert...

...until Monday! After getting back from work yesterday, our dear friend Jackie brought her dog Dakota over to play with Bentley and I got a-bakin'. I wanted to make something different that Billy would love, and there are few things he loves more than the combo of chocolate and peanut butter. (Yeah, he probably loves beer more, but I'm not about to make beer).
Mmm. I can't blame him. So I found this recipe from an amazing blogger and went to town. Being semi-short on time (Billy was due home soon from teaching drum lessons), I pulled out a handy box-mix for brownies (complete with a FUDGE packet!!) and started mixing.

Whipping the eggs, milk, and oil above, and then adding the fudge packet, below. Mmm fudge. Even though it kinda looks like poop in the bowl. Does not taste like poop, though - let me assure you. Maybe I tried some of it before it went in, okay?
And my very-coordinated mixing bowl-mixing spoon-measuring cup set. :) (Of course it's all purple!!)Here's my brownie batter in my mini-cupcake pan.

And now for the magic part! I may have taken a bite out of that top one.

So here is where I realize I missed one of the most important photos of the process. Or maybe not! I did say they were surprises, right?

Meanwhile, I had some extra brownie batter after filling up the muffin tin so I filled two little Le Creuset au gratins (I'm so french) with the extra batter. And the sprinkles were a must. When looking up close, you can see the heart sprinkles I added. It is our anniversary after all, and anniversaries are about love, and hearts, and chocolate, and stuff.

And now,


I'm sure you can guess what happened to those cute little bite-sized Reeses.

Ahh the wonders of ovens - what a beautiful product:

And at another strange angle:

And a whole pile of them, for Billy's enjoyment! (And mine. Don't worry - I enjoyed them too. Maybe overly enjoyed them. That's why the girls are coming over to get rid of them tonight!)

I dare you to whip some up yourself. They're too easy for excuses!

And how could I leave out the mini pan-size ones?

However, as delicious as these little brownie bites are, and as much as we both enjoyed them, the best part of the anniversary of the day-after-our-wedding was my BEE-UTIFUL anniversary gift, which Billy picked up in its final form on his way home from band lessons.

It made me cry. For reals.

But, I guess you'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out what exactly that was..... :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the goose loves anniversaries

Today, Billy and I celebrate surviving the first year of marriage! No, it really wasn't that bad. But it was fun to remember the awesome party we threw last year, and we thanked God every other minute throughout the day for blessing us with sunshine last year. If we had chosen the same weekend in 2011, we would have been faced with cloudiness and downpours, and I probably would have had a nervous breakdown.

So thank God for getting married in 2010! And thank God for my wonderful husband and a wonderful first year together. Here's to many more!

Thought I'd leave you with a few of my favorites from last year.

I love you, Billy! Happy Anniversary!

Friday, July 15, 2011

the goose loves strawberry chocolate muffins

In addition to making granola this weekend, I made some de-lish muffins for breakfast. I started with a healthy (no, I'm not joking! it's from a cookbook my grandma let me copy! thanks, grandma!) recipe for chocolate-hazelnut muffins. Except I didn't have hazelnuts, because they are wicked expensive (East Coast shoutout to Brad). But I did have freshly picked (and recently frozen) strawberries, which already earned their own blog post. And what, besides peanut butter, tastes so good with chocolate as strawberries?
So I whip up the batter, adding cocoa powder to achieve the chocolate-y flavor.

I thaw my pre-cut and lemon-juice-treated-to-maintain-color strawberries, and then added them to the batter. (No, Mom, I didn't save and wash the ziploc after I used it. I'm sorry - shame on me!)

I fill up some pretty little purple muffin papers gifted to me by my mommy with the batter.

Here they are, all lined up! You can see I made 18. But I could have filled them more, so next time I'll make 12 bigger ones.

And, with the magic of the oven, 30 minutes later I got this!

And another photo, more poorly lit.

I would have taken a photo of the insides, but you're better off not seeing that part. Chocolate muffins with red strawberry guts isn't the prettiest. But tasty? Definitely!

And I still have one bag of strawberries left in the freezer for something else! (Maybe I'll save that bag, okay Mom?)

P.S. Mom - you better be reading these, or it'll look like I'm talking to myself...;)