Old and New: Peach Pie and Grilled Pizza

This weekend I wanted to try some new things in the kitchen, like the lemon chicken yesterday and the grilled pizza today. I also wanted to make a peach pie, which isn’t new for me but always sounds so good this time of year.

Whenever I think or hear about grilled pizza, I’m always intrigued. I once had it a friend’s party and it was excellent, but I’ve never had a lot of luck after that. You can buy pizzas to grill at target, and those just ended up burned. It takes quite a magic touch. I had forgotten about my desire for grilled pizza until I stumbled upon this recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. In this recipe you make your own dough and sauce and this intrigued me. She also provides fantastic step-by-step instructions.

I am such a novice at making dough, dealing with yeast, and the like that it took me a bit to make my batch, but I did do it successfully. The sauce was super easy and perfect for pizza. Then I made browned and crumbled some sweet italian sausage and used pepperoni for toppings.

The actual art of rolling out the dough and getting in the grill went only okay, and after the fact we agreed that it would have been better to make smaller pizzas that were thinner. All-in-all they were tasty and not terribly hard to make.

Grilled Pizza | The Simple Sisters

Check out the recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

In the midst of all this, I threw together a peach pie, and I’ve got to tell you that it turned out perfect. The peaches were mixed, with some that were more ripe than others so the filling is scrumptious. I highly recommend this easy and delicious pie that anyone can make.

Peach Pie | The Simple Sisters

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In the Kitchen: Lemon Chicken

After a long week and lots of dinners out, I was really longing for some home cooking. I tuned in to one of my favorite cooking shows for inspiration, Barefoot Contessa. Who doesn’t love Ina? In my house she is overly admired, particularly by Mike. She can do no wrong. Yesterday morning she was cooking something very simple (for her), lemon chicken. It looked so divine! So, I added her recipe to the day’s menu. And here’s how it turned out.

I followed Ina Garten’s recipe for Lemon Chicken Breasts, and I didn’t make any adjustments, except I didn’t have skin on boneless breasts and I brushed on some of the marinade over the top of the breasts, where she only did olive oil.

The marinade/sauce was really quite easy to make and the smell made us salivate. Thankfully I had some wine I had been saving that was perfect for it. There aren’t a lot of ingredients and it’s relatively simple to put together. I think if you don’t have fresh thyme, you could easily use dried.

Lemon Chicken | The Simple Sisters

One thing I forgot, but thankfully remembered right after I put it in the oven was cutting a lemon in eights and tucking them between the breasts.

The chicken cooked flawlessly in about 40 minutes and was nice and juicy. Some lemon chicken dishes I’ve tried are kind of flavorless, this one was definitely not. You’ve got to love garlic to make this dish!

I served it with some chicken rice and steamed green beans, like Ina.

Lemon Chicken | The Simple Sisters

Reset, Routine, and Inspiration

Starting in April and going through the end of June, I was swamped with a big project at work. I’m the kind of person who can only have so many things going on at once before everything else slips. I make sacrifices to keep my sanity. During this time I stopped cleaning the house, I bought paper plates so my dishes wouldn’t back up, I ate out a lot, I stopped couponing, I stopped exercising, and I did a minimal amount of laundry. Terrible right? I had to put my life on hiatus while I worked hard to complete the project. While it saved my sanity, it got me severely off track with a lot of the good habits I was working so hard to develop and maintain.

The first thing I did when I regained my freedom is I read a book, and quickly it became about enjoying the pleasurable things in life and shoving off responsibility. So I took a nice vacation last week where I read more books and played outside in the summer (first time in years), grilled steaks and saw movies. It was definitely what I needed.

Pueblo Photowalk

As we all know, vacations end. It’s time for me engage in my life again and my work. I need a reset. I need routine. I need inspiration.

Space

Cleaning my space at home — it helps me want to be here and eases my mind from the stress of looking around and feeling burdened by the mess.

Cleaning out my pantry and refrigerator — out with the old and stale, in with the new and fresh. Less is more in terms of keeping food, in my opinion. Right now our pantry is bursting with stuff. There’s no space. It sounds like we have a lot of food, but we sit around thinking we don’t have anything to munch on. That’s because finding things in the fridge and pantry isn’t easy and it doesn’t feel good.

Laundry and organizing my closet — will make getting dressed for work easier in the morning. Anything that helps me get to work in the morning would be very helpful right now.

Cleaning, organizing and rearranging my office — I need a change to my space there. There have been so many other changes there, circling around me, I need to make a change myself so that I can complete this transition and want to actually be there.

Connections, Communications, and Productivity

Inbox — I actually did this recently, but I still have so far to go. My work inbox has over 12,000 messages in it. For a while I had 2,000 unread messages (mostly from Facebook and Borders and messages that didn’t really apply to me). I cleaned those out and that feels like a burden has been lifted. Now to clean out the old ones that I don’t need anymore. I love to lighten my load. I did this also on my GMail for my personal e-mail.

Google — I am a fan of Google’s application suite. It happened during my big project when my assistant showed me how awesome Google Docs is. We were able to really collaborate on documents and I could access those documents from any web browser, easily and quickly. Since then I’ve been using it for everything in my personal life and continue to use it at work for various things.

One of the ways I use it is for tracking tasks. I started doing this during my big project. Instead of all of these complicated task management programs, I simply use a Google document to write down what I need to do each day, what I’ve done (after the fact) and indicate when stuff gets done. I mix up both work and personal things because it’s way easier to only have one document. There are a lot of benefits to do this than just knowing what I need to get done. So many times I can’t remember what I’ve done. This tracks it. It’s a running list that just keeps going. So call it a task list, journal of sorts that I can access from anywhere (browser on whichever computer I’m on and from my iPhone and iPad) at anytime and easily edit.

Tasklist in Google Docs

I also use Google for my personal e-mail, personal calendar, and Google+ for connecting with others professionally and personally.

Mind and Body Nourishment

peachpie-20090808-2

Meal Planning — a little time and planning up front saves a lot of time, money, and calories during the week. It also eases stress. It avoids that pesky question (that I often get), what’s for dinner? For inspiration I turn to “This Week for Dinner,” a blog that promotes meal planning and sharing menus. I’ve also just started using my Google calendar to help me plan and help me remember.

Meal planning with Google Calendar

Meal planning with Google Calendar

Breakfast and Lunch — I’m pretty good about packing breakfast, but I stink at packing or planning for lunch. Most days I skip lunch and scavenge for snacks instead. There are so many things wrong with that, but the worst thing about it is that I end up so hungry for dinner that I don’t want to cook and I pick up food on the way home. I need to correct this.  I’m currently reading:

Reading — Summer is a great time to turn off the TV. It’s also a great escape, so I’ve been spending more time reading. It relaxes me at night and it helps me wake up in the morning. I know — waking up and reading in the morning is weird, but that’s my favorite time to do it. I love using Goodreads to connect with friends and get ideas of what to read. It’s also a fun way to keep track of what you’re reading and gab about it. Find me on Goodreads and add me as a friend!

Exercise and Play — My gym routine got totally out of whack during the big project. I have a fabulous gym membership that I haven’t used in weeks. I need to start going back, so I’m fitting that into my schedule. Also — besides boring exercise, I’m just looking for more opportunities to play. Whether it’s golf or tennis, or flying a kite. Anything that gets me off the couch is a good thing.

Conference — I’m planning on attending a work conference in the fall that will help inspire me and hopefully that spark will come back. Right now things are not so good there after they made some personnel and organizational changes. My feelings and attitude are not what they should be about a job that I used to love so much. I need to find that purpose again so that I can put my best into it. Being happy at work is obviously very important.

CU-Boulder Campus July 2009

I’d love to hear your tips and advice on helping me get back on track. What do you do when you slide away from the norm?