Monday, October 15, 2012

Bacon Chicken and Dumplings

Bacon + Chicken + Dumplings = yum! Well, it should anyway. This recipe is okish. There are other soups I like better (just plain Chicken and Dumplings are pretty tasty) so I don't know that this will make it in to the rotation. The bacon doesn't come out a strongly as I would hope, and the potatoes make the soup grainy instead of creamy.

3 slices bacon
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
halves - diced
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn,
drained and rinsed
3 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups biscuit mix
1 cup milk
1.Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside; reserve bacon drippings in skillet.
2.Add potatoes, onion and chicken to bacon drippings and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in chicken broth; season with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in corn, and simmer all together for 15 minutes.
3.Pour in half-and-half and bring to a boil; add crumbled bacon. In a medium bowl, combine biscuit mix with milk and mix well (dough should be thick). Drop tablespoon sizes of dough into boiling mixture; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, then another 10 minutes covered. (Note: Do not stir while simmering, or dumplings will break apart). Serve hot.

While this was not quite what I was expecting, I think I would make it again. Instead of adding the bacon to the soup, I would just sprinkle it on top (in significant quantities of course! ;P) Otherwise, follow as directed.

B and I have been finding things to watch together, and it's always a challenge when we finish something to find our next show. 
Wins: Buffy, Angel, Psych, Monk, Gilmore Girls, House (in the early years), Burn Notice, Lois and Clark, Big Bang Theory, and the current watchs: Kyle XY, and Once Upon a Time. 
Not so much winners: X-files, Charmed, Sliders, Star Trek (any of them). 
Any suggestions for upcoming shows? I'm thinking maybe Supernatural, or finally finishing Smallville. 

Chicken and Wild Rice Slow Cooker Dinner

I'm sure you have not at all noticed the trend of crockpot meals. ;) I have started to really like wild rice, and am trying to incorporate it more frequently into the regular rotation.

cooking spray
3 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream
of chicken soup
2 1/4 cups water
1 cup milk
4 cups long grain and wild rice mix
1 (16 ounce) package baby carrots
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1.Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray.
2.Stir together cream of chicken soup, water, milk, long grain and wild rice mix (including seasoning packets, if any), and baby carrots in the slow cooker.
3.Place chicken breasts on top of the mixture.
4.Cover and cook on High until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender, about 5 hours; or cook on Low setting for 7 to 8 hours.

This one, however much I really WANTED to like it, was just ok. The rice got a bit mushy after so long in the crockpot, so decreasing the time may helped. It calls for wild rice mix, so I used the Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice mix. The taste of seasonings seemed to overpower the dish - next time I may try to substitute 1-2 cups of rice mix for just plain wild rice. I also didn't add carrots - not really a big fan of cooked carrots, though adding them may have helped with the over-seasoning taste. I froze part of this for a later meal, and am curious to see how it'll be after being frozen. 

One of my favorite things kitchen-wise the past couple of months has been freezing leftovers! It's kind of trial and error to see what freezes well and what would be better just to make in smaller portions. So far, everything I've frozen has thawed and reheated well. So many recipes are for 6-8, which can be a bit much for 2 people. Instead of scaling them down to fit our needs, I'm making the standard recipe, leaving enough for leftovers the next day, and freezing the rest. We are acquiring a small chest freezer in the next couple of weeks, and I'm excited to have a little bit of extra room to store these extra goodies! It is helping to curb those "I don't want to cook, so we go out to eat" impulses. (Though sometimes I STILL want to go out to eat!) We are in the midst of a sabbatical from eating out, and so far we've done pretty well. Now to just keep it up! :D Plus this way we're not eating leftovers of the same thing for a week! 

Peking Pork Chops

I love the name of these. I mean really, they are Peking Pork chops!! What are they peeking at, I wonder? And they taste pretty good too. And I'm telling you, I can never lose my crockpot. Or it break. Or die. I love starting dinner before I leave for work, and then voila! Hot meal that I don't have to deal with when coming home from a long day. Definite WIN situation.

6 thick cut pork chops (1 inch)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1.Trim excess fat from pork chops and place in slow cooker. Mix brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl and pour over meat. Cover, turn to low and cook 4 to 6 hours, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

No changes, other than of COURSE you add more garlic! Served with some steamed veggies and au gratin potatoes. 

Creamy Chicken on Linguine

This looked good, and as I love anything Alfredo-y, I gave it a shot. Truthfully, it's a chicken alfredo. And not my favorite one. Flavor-wise it's ok, just very heavy. Worth a try, but I doubt it'll make it into the regular meal rotation.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 (16 ounce) package linguini pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 cube chicken bouillon, crumbled
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
4 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2
inch pieces
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1.In a large saute pan, heat oil, butter and garlic over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until juices run clear. Remove chicken from pan let cool and slice diagonally into long strips. Reserve oil in pan.
2.Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain.
3.Reheat oil in pan, add onion and saute, stirring often, until onion is soft but still white. Add bullion cube and water; bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for approximately 10 minutes. Stir in cream, milk, green onions and Parmesan cheese.
4.Place pasta in a bowl, layer chicken slices in a decorative pattern over pasta, pour sauce over top of chicken and around pasta. Garnish with parsley or any herbs you desire. Serve immediately.

recipe image

Mexican White Cheese Sauce/Dip

This was for a Mexican themed Dr. Who night. I loooove the Mexican restaurant's white cheese dip, and this one was pretty similar.

1 pound white American cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
cayenne pepper to taste
1.Place cheese, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook until cheese has melted, stirring frequently. Stir in green chilies, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper to taste. Add more milk if dip is too thick. Heat through and serve immediately.

 I, in my infinite wisdom, decided that it needed some salt. It does NOT in fact need salt of any sort. :D Other than that, it was very good! I used white American cheese, as well as some shredded Queso Velveeta cheese. I made it in an electric fondue pot, which was nice because I could just add all the ingredients and leave it on low to melt together. I only added 1 can of green chilies...they are not my favorite taste in the world, so I tend to go pretty light in any recipe that calls for them. Would definitely make this one again, minus any salty additions.

Manicotti Stuffed Shells

A fun way to branch out from your typical spaghetti. Hubby LOVES spaghetti and could eat it for at least 5 meals a week, so I'm always on the lookout for alternatives that still incorporate similar ingredients, plus manicotti sounded good. A bit of work to stuff the shells, but well pretty worth it. Not necessarily one of my all time favorites, but a nice change from regular spaghetti.

1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
5 1/2 ounces manicotti pasta
1.Cook manicotti in boiling water until done. Drain, and rinse with cold water.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3.In a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/2 cup Parmesan, eggs, parsley, and salt and pepper. Mix well.
4.Pour 1/2 cup sauce into an 11x17 inch baking dish. Fill each manicotti shell with 3 tablespoons cheese mixture, and arrange over sauce . Pour remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
5.Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly.

recipe image

Follow as directed, other than using Jumbo Pasta Shells instead of Manicotti shells - I think they are easier to stuff. I did add some ground Italian sausage to the cheese mixture for half of them, which was a yummy addition. Both varieties were good, but I do love meat. ;) 
I ended up having quite a bit of cheese stuffing leftover, so I combined it with some lasagna noodles and spaghetti sauce, making a tasty lasagna to freeze for later consumption. 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Roast/Coleslaw

Alright, we're starting a blog blitz - it's been too long, and I promise you, I HAVE been cooking! :) I'm trying to branch out beyond mostly chicken - sometimes it works out better than others. This one will soon become a favorite - I froze about half of it for later, and I'm excited to eat it again!

1 (3 1/2) pound pork butt roast
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Heinz® Tomato Ketchup
1 cup Heinz® Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1/3 cup Heinz® Mustard
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Soft rolls
1.Remove all string from the roast and trim away excess fat. Place the chili powder in a bowl; blend in the oil, chili, pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, allspice, salt and garlic to make a paste. Rub all over the pork, working the spice mixture into the meat well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker.
2.Blend the ketchup with the vinegar, molasses and mustard. Pour mixture over the roast and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until very tender.
3.Transfer the roast to a large bowl; discard any visible fat. Use two forks to separate the meat into long strands. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the cooking juices and strain into a saucepan. Whisk in the cornstarch and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbling. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker; stir to combine with remaining cooking juices. Serve the meat on soft rolls; drizzle with thickened sauce mixture to taste.

This recipe I followed as directed, served topped with coleslaw (homemade! Recipe below) on Onion buns. I wasn't sure about the sauce as I was making it, but it was an AMAZING BBQ type sauce that really melded all the flavors together. The only change I would make would be to thicken more of the sauce and add it back in to the meat. The juices tended to soak in to the bun pretty quickly.


1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons diced onion
2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (such as
Miracle Whip™)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1.Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
2.Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

recipe image

I agree with a couple of the reviews that say the sugar is a bit much...I would decrease it a bit. And honestly I didn't measure the Miracle Whip, just added until it looked right. Didn't add poppy seeds...I don't keep them on hand usually, but I think it would be yummy!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Amazing Pork Tenderloin (Crockpot)

We're not a huge pork-eating family, but this one is definitely going into the regular rotation! Super easy, it doesn't take a very long time, and the results are fantastic.

  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with the contents of the soup packet. Pour water, wine, and soy sauce over the top, turning the pork to coat. Carefully spread garlic over the pork, leaving as much on top of the roast during cooking as possible. Sprinkle with pepper, cover, and cook on low setting for 4 hours. Serve with cooking liquid on the side as au jus.

Followed the directions...mostly. ;) I added a couple teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce as recommended by a couple of reviewers. Used Merlot for the wine. I used a frozen tenderloin, so I increased the cooking time to about 6 hours, and upped the heat to hi on the last 45ish minutes. Once it was done, I poured all the juices into a small saucepan and made gravy! Fantastic, yummy gravy. :D I added some cornstarch (which I was pretty much out of, otherwise I could have done it with just the cornstarch), a little flour, and a package of onion gravy). Serve with butte chive potatoes - cut potatoes into bite sized pieces, boil until done (about 17 minutes), mix a small amount of olive oil and butter (to taste), add chives (fresh or freeze-dried) and some garlic salt. Delish!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Overnight Coffee Cake

This has become my favorite go-to coffee cake recipe. It's easy, and I love that it can be made the night before!


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Lightly grease an 8 inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar, and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Beat in the egg until well blended. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, walnuts, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I think that walnuts are gross. You may be of a different persuasion, and that's ok....for you. :p Sometimes I opt to not use nuts at all and use a bit more brown sugar (or you could use oatmeal). This time, I used some already-made Cinnamon Pecans with the sugar/cinnamon for a little extra somthin'. I love this cake because it's really light and fluffy, and sweet without being over the top. No changes needed (other than the nuts).

Some little factoids for the day:
1) I am craving manicotti. I plan on making that at some point after my next grocery shopping trip.
2) I like painting my nails dark colors, particularly blue. I then hate when it chips (which it inevitably does after a couple of days), but for that first couple of days I find myself staring at my nails frequently. It's weird, I admit it. :)
3) I need to work on reining in my temper. I should not have the desire to kick as many people as I seem to want to kick on a daily basis. :P And even if I still WANT to kick people, I should decrease my verbalization of that desire.
4) I love my bookclub ladies, and I loved our most recent book (Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern). My favorite line: "By the time he reaches the farm, he is sure that the Bailey he is now is closer to the Bailey he is supposed to be then the Bailey he had been the day before."  I want to be closer to the person I am supposed to be tomorrow than I was today. So here is to tomorrow - Cheers!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Favorite Hamburger Bites

The hubby really likes White Castle burgers. Personally, I think they're gross, but what is marriage about but compromise? ;) Found this recipe via my daily AllRecipes e-mail and thought it wasn't TOO gross sounding, and it might make him happy. And actually, it turned out that I really liked it. Score one for compromise! :D


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages dinner rolls
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar dill pickle slices, drained


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a medium baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, stir together ground beef, dry onion soup mix and dry minced onion. Cook until beef is evenly brown. Remove from heat, drain and stir in mayonnaise and Cheddar cheese.
  3. Slice tops off the dinner rolls. Arrange the rolls on the baking sheet. Spoon some of the ground beef mixture onto each roll. Garnish with pickle slices. Place tops back on rolls.
  4. Tightly wrap the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes.

Couple of minor changes... 1/2 cup of dried minced onion is a LOT! I find that it tends to overpower recipes (see Baked Ham Sandwiches) so I put in less then 1/4 cup - it was still pretty onion-y, especially with the French Onion Soup packet, but much less so. Next time I might decrease the minced onion even more. Instead of using the already made rolls, I got the Rhodes frozen rolls (in dough form) and baked about 20 of them. Brean is VERY in to rolls, so I figured having extras was not going to be a problem. :) The only difference that they provided was being of a smaller roll then the pre-made rolls that you get from the deli. I think they worked out fine - I ended up with 18 little burgers instead of 12. While I am a fan of pickles by themselves, I don't really like them on sandwiches, so I left them out. Otherwise, follow as directed. They were pretty tasty, and are good re-heated as well. They would make a very fun appetizer or finger food for a party. Next time I may freeze half for later, as we are still working on them 2 days later!

       I was talking to a friend yesterday and asked her where she wanted to go with her life. In 5-10 years, what do you want your life to look like? As one who always has about 5 plans for her life, I actually had to stop and think about what my answer would be. Do I want to be working? If not, what would I be doing to contribute? I loved her answer, so I'm going to share it with you. She said she wanted her life to be more simplistic. Not in a "do less activities" kind of way, but in a "be content with what you have and not always have to strive for the newest and best" kind of way. I need to incorporate that philosophy in my plan, that is for sure!
       I tend to strive for the next "thing". Take my scrapbooking corner for instance. I love it. I love the way it looks, and how it makes our bedroom come together. Does that mean I'm going to scrapbook more often? Maybe...but maybe not. I acquire things more because of the way I want things to look then for the purpose of actually HAVING to have the space. Now that is not to say that I won't be more likely to scrapbook now that I have a space to leave things out - it was a pain to get everything out, just to clean it up again a couple of hours later. The reason that the scrapbook area is in our bedroom vs. my room (the guest room) is for that very purpose - to be able to leave a project out to be worked on without worrying about it not being clean anytime someone comes over.
      Alright, here's my short-term goal: I want my scrapbook corner to be my connecting place. I want to use it to write letters to people, to blog, and scrapbook, remembering the amazing people that have been in my life over the years. It was really fun to have a place to sit and write thank you notes from my birthday extravaganza - my own little oasis.
       As for what I want my life to look like in 5-10 years? I want the only debt we have to be our mortgage. I want to be working, but maybe part-time? (still debating about that one - time off vs. money towards things) I want Brean to have a job he loves. I want to have traveled somewhere big. I want to be involved in some capacity in our local community. So here is to the next 10 years - may it be all that is hoped for, accepted for what is, and cherished for what it was.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Easy Shrimp Scampii

So, it seems to be a shrimp week. This has fast become one of my favorite recipes - it's so easy, and is probably is the best scampii that I have ever had. Win-win in my book! Plus, it's a Chaley original. :D Listening to One Direction station on Pandora, which just started playing Justin Beiber. Umm, no. Just no.

1 pound pre-cooked shrimp, thawed (any size, I usually get the frozen ones)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tblspn butter
1/2 cup onion, diced
Minced garlic - a lot! (to taste - a couple of tablespoons)
1 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 package McCormick Garlic, Wine, and Herb marinade
Dash of lemon juice
1 box angel hair noodles
Salt and Pepper as needed, though it's pretty flavorful, so I say taste test first!

1) Add oil and butter to a pan and heat on medium-high heat until hot. Add onion and garlic, sauteing until onion is translucent.
2) Start water boiling for angel hair noodles. Add marinade package, lemon juice, and broth (or wine) to the sauteed mixture, reduce heat to medium and cook for ~5 minutes.
3) Add shrimp to the mixture and cook on medium heat just until warm. Cook angel hair noodles according to directions - they should be done about at the same time.
4) Add shrimp mixture to noodles, stir and serve! It's just that easy. :)

So, because this is my creation, I don't have any changes. :P I took this recipe from about 5 different ones on the web and only took a little bit from each, so there's not a lot to credit. I started looking for a scampii recipe that used pre-cooked shrimp, because A) it's less expensive then un-cooked shrimp, and B) it's quicker. It was actually hard to find one! But now you get to reap the benefits of all that research. Enjoy!

This evening was one of the funnest evenings I have had! Two very dear friends, Brean and I went out to see Hope Springs, with a stop at Maggie Moo's (if you've never been there, BEST ice cream ever), and a supposedly quick that turned longer trip to Meijer to pick up "a few things". The movie was good-ish. It's a slow mover, but I liked how REAL it was. The problems weren't fixed in two seconds, and I think it gave a good picture of marriage, and how people drift apart. (it does have a happy ending, for anyone who is wondering) A little heavy on the old person sex for me,  and not as comedic as I was expecting. I did enjoy it though, and it was fun talking about it over ice cream afterwards. (cinnamon ice cream with Heath bar, caramel, and chocolate flakes for me) I think my favorite part of the evening though was putzing around Meijer, with a happy hubby and goofy friends, finding all kinds of crazy jewely, neon leggings (or skinny jeans), baskets, etc. I haven't just goofed off in a store for Lord knows how long - I usually go in with a mission and stay very focused. It was fun to just be goofy and have people to be goofy with!

In other news, my scrapbooking corner (which was the entire focus of my most recent birthday) is almost set up!! It's not turning out quite like I was seeing in my mind's eye, but it is fun. Pictures will be posted on Facebook shortly I'm hoping. Hopefully spending tomorrow getting everything organized and it should be all set. Much smiles all around in this household! :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Asian Peanut Sauce

So this one was an attempt at a shrimp spring roll type deal. And while I think the base is there, it needs some playing around to make it what I was hoping for.


  • 1/4 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 (8 inch) round sheets rice paper
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger


  1. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan for medium-high heat.
  2. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt and black pepper.
  3. Grill the shrimp on the preheated grill until opaque, 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and set aside.
  4. Combine the cabbage, carrot, garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, teriyaki sauce, and lime juice in a bowl, stir well.
  5. Working with one at a time, wet rice paper with water and lay out on a clean surface. Place a quarter of the cabbage mixture in the center of the paper, top with a quarter of the shrimp. Shape the filling into a log shape and roll the rice paper around the filling, tucking the ends in as you go. Repeat with the remaining rice papers.
  6. Whisk together the peanut butter, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, garlic, 1 tablespoon ginger, salt and pepper. Slice the rolls in half on an angle, and serve with the peanut sauce on the side.

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Asian Peanut Sauce Recipe

I did double the recipe, because I had about a pound of shrimp and didn't have a specific use for it other than this recipe. The shrimp was the already cooked frozen shrimp, which I have to say is my usual go-to when it comes to buying shrimp! I also doubled the sauce, but that was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much! We barely ate more than a couple of tablespoons for all the rolls. Brean chopped veggies for me, while I sauteed the garlic, salt and pepper, then added the shrimp just to cook until it was heated up. Then combined everything for the filling in a bowl (including the shrimp mixture, which we drained first) and let it sit for a few minutes. So reading over this recipe I just realized that I tripled the amount of sesame seed oil in the sauce...whoops! I think my main complaint was that the sesame taste was over-powering, and while I think it would be better without my whoops moment, I still think decreasing it even more would be beneficial.
We soaked the rice paper individually in warm water for a couple of seconds, which worked pretty well. I had never done anything with rice paper before, so I was a bit nervous, but after the first couple I think we got the hang of it. The flavor of the rollups themselves was good, but just not as fresh tasting as I was hoping for. I think I'll play around a bit more with this one, because the hubby liked them. I will let you know how it goes! ;) I should also point out that ours did NOT look as pretty as the picture...think more a loosely wrapped spring roll with teryaki sauce in it.

     In other news, it was my birthday this week, and fun was had by all. (well, at least me) I wandered around Jackson (wandering in a specific route I should say) to be fed all the free food I could eat. I think the best way to do it would be to find a birthday twin and traverse together - then you BOTH get free stuff! Otherwise you're just dragging another person along who has to pay for everything, or just watch while you get free food. Weird!
     I also got a massage yesterday. It was great, but I felt really weird/out of it for the rest of the day, and even today! I heard that sometimes post-massage feels like being stoned, and while I have not partaken in the stoning myself, I feel like that's what I feel like. ;) I feel like I'm just in a cloud-filled state and my brain is not really engaged. Very weird! Hoping it changes soon!
    Going to see Hope Springs tomorrow with some very dear friends - here's to hoping it's good! I'm tired of watching bad and mediocre movies! There are enough movies being made that you think that at SOME point it would be easy to find the good ones! Like maybe because of the sheer number of movies it would have to spontaneously HAPPEN at some point. We shall see. But here's to hoping! ;)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Roasted Pecans for Steak Salad (updated)

A little update to the steak salad recipe. I loved the cinnamon pecans, but the previously used recipe sometimes didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped. I tried this one last week and it was AMAZING! It takes some babysitting, but it is well worth it!


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 pounds pecan halves
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


  1. Preheat an oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Beat egg whites until foamy in a large glass or metal mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the egg whites will form soft mounds rather than a sharp peak.
  3. Mix the pecan halves into the egg white.
  4. Stir the white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl; add to the pecan and egg white mixture and stir.
  5. Coat the bottom of a jelly roll pan with the softened butter.
  6. Spread the pecan mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until crisp, turning occasionally, 45 to 60 minutes.

Couple of changes: I used a whole bag of chopped pecans, which I think was 2 cups (but less then 1.5 pounds). Switch the amounts of brown and white sugar (3/4 cup brown, 1/4 cup white). I covered  the pan with foil, which made clean up pretty easy.
I think they turned out AWESOME! And you could just as easily use a different kind of nut (almonds come to mind). The only thing I might change is add a little bit of salt, though on the steak salad paired with the blue cheese, I think it was perfect the way it was.

Hopefully now that life has settled back down after preparing, executing, and recovering from the Hawaii trip, I can get back to trying new recipes and blogging! It's weird how one event takes over your life for such a significant amount of time! It was an AMAZING trip, but I've found it so hard to tell people about it now that I'm back! I'm not sure whether it's just me, but I find it hard to relate something that was so much an experience, and less a story. I've found that as time goes by, I'm remembering bits and pieces that didn't come to mind when asked how the trip went.
It is nice to get back to "real" life though. Happy Sunday, everyone, and here's to hoping for a wonderful upcoming week.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

       So as I've been going to the last two movies I've seen in theaters, I've felt the need to come home and decompress via blog. Maybe cause the principles are deep? Not really sure. I, Elon, Marie, and Teusink have just returned from the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. We'll see if this blog gets posted at the 3:30 AM time when it is being written!
       Little bit of background first...I read the book a little over a year ago, and loved it. Was not as fond of the next two books, though they were still good - I felt they delved too much into social/political commentary, which I am not as much of a fan of. Katniss is an amazing heroine - I found she was smart, clever, and I empathized with her character. She doesn't know how to make people like her, she's awkward, she's caring, she's strong - all traits I found endearing. So as the movie was coming out, Elon and I wanted to go see it - we had both read the books and it would be fun to do something like that together. We contemplated going to the midnight showing (which he first suggested when we put together that the date the movie came out would be while he was here visiting). Planned on going at midnight, but didn't get tickets. Contemplated it a little more and decided we didn't want to fight the crowds, so we would plan to go Friday to a late morning showing. Fast forward to today.
     It is a gorgeous 81 degree day. March has broken all kinds of Michigan weather records this year, which happily has happened during Elon's spring break! As a result, we have gotten to do many more outdoor, summery activities then I expected. So we decide to go to Lime Lake and go tubing. We spend several glorious hours in the sun (and I have tan lines to prove it, but not a sunburn - it's fantastic!). As we're packing up, the boys point out to me that there are what appears to be 4 tickets to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games that very night, abandoned on a picnic table. We were pretty sure they belonged to a group of teenagers who had been sunning themselves about an hour before. With no way of knowing who they were, and much ethical dilemma-ing on my part, I make a decision. My first thought was "Free tickets to a movie we already wanted to see!!" Then, "we can't just take them, they'll come back for them, and that would be stealing!" Then, "But I can't just leave them - what if they don't come back for them? They'll just be wasted!" So my solution was to take the tickets home, leaving a note with a rock on the picnic table that said "call this number if you are looking for your Hunger Game tickets". Sort of a ransom note, and I will admit to TOTALLY hoping they wouldn't call, but if I lost movie tickets that I was really excited about, I hope that someone would have been kind enough to try and help me get them back.
     The evening passes, and I call my Glee night buddies up and let them know we have tickets, and providing the owners did not call, did they want to go tonight? They enthusiastically agree, so at 10 pm, we head over to the theater. We have perfect timing, arriving just as the small line outside is allowed to move in to the theater. We get great seats, and settle down for the wait. At around 11, we decide to make a Meijer run for less over-priced snacks and drinks (yes, I will shamefully admit that I am one of "those" people who smuggle snacks in). At 11:40 we arrive back at the theater (having left Elon as a seat-holder) and get a phone call from Brean as we are heading in to the theater. "The people just called about the tickets" he says..."what do you want me to do?" At that point, I was pretty sure they were sold out, and we had just sat for an hour and a half to save seats. Plus, I really didn't want to disappoint these three other people who were with me, all excited to see the movie! What I REALLY wanted to tell Brean was the tell them that it was too late, that we were already there, or that he wasn't able to reach us. I was feeling very frustrated at the situation, but finally told him to tell them they could meet us at the front and we would give them the ticket stubs. Head back in to the theater, and low and behold, they have tickets left still!!! So we were able to keep our seats, and pass off the tickets to a very happy group of teenagers, about 5 minutes before the movie started. This was definitely not a story to get a pat on the back - it is a story to tell you that I struggle with doing the right thing a LOT of the time! So there you have it....little window into my soul. In the end, it was a nice feeling.
    So now on to the actual MOVIE decompressing! (if you are still reading this, I promise not to give away any spoilers!) I think the movie was FANTASTICALLY done. It kept the feeling of the book, and in some points even made the feelings more real then was felt when reading. The characters were well cast, and I felt it stayed pretty true to the book.
    My biggest struggle was during the first half of the movie, when they are going through the Reaping, and preparing for the games, my head just kept screaming "This is wrongboppers who were cheering and laughing, despite knowing it was a fictional story. It was an incredibly stark visual reminder of the power of people, and the damage we can do to each other.
    Once the the Hunger Games actually commenced, I found I was able to engage in the story, rooting for Katniss. The previous feeling of wrongness was not dissipated, but I was able at that point to enjoy the story for what it was...a story. And a well-told one at that. The pacing of the movie seemed a little rushed, but it wasn't too bad. I feel like if you haven't read the book prior to seeing the movie, there is a lot of character thoughts and back story that is left unsaid. I know they are usually not able to do that well in a movie, and people who hadn't read the book still loved the movie, so maybe it was better then I was thinking.
      So yes, I did like the movie. But it leaves me with questions, the wrestling of how to fix a world gone so terribly wrong. How to teach people to love, to figure out a different way to solve our battles that does not involve the bloodshed of either party? I am by no means a "peace at any cost" believer - you must stand for truth. And all of my mental puzzling has not come up with a perfect way. But I hope that maybe, someday, we can come up with a better way.
    On a slightly lighter note - teeny-boppers annoy me and make me laugh at the same time. The theater was pretty full, and we in our late 20's were definitely part of the "older" crowd (but by no means in our "middle age years" - never fear, Marie!). So this crowd of teenagers created quite the ruckus during the whole movie. There was lots of cheering, and clapping, and whooping, at some inopportune times of trying to hear the dialogue that followed the heroic action! I found it detracted from the moment and am curious to see if I like the movie even more after seeing it with my bookclub in a couple of weeks with a less enthusiastic crowd. (at least I assume it will be less enthusiastic, who knows!) I will say, it was kind of fun being surrounded by so much energy though! Probably while I'm still up at 4 am! :p
    So, blogger readers, what do YOU think? Did you like the movie? Did you read the book? Love them? Hate them? Wonder what all the fuss is about? I'd love to hear from you! I promise the next post will include a recipe (as this is a foodie sort of blog), but my brain is just too tired to pick one out right now! Until next time...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Herbed Chicken Nuggets

Hey blogger world! I am sitting here on a sunny Wednesday morning as Doofenschmirtz chases the sun spots that glance off Sully's collar, enjoying the quiet. It's been a stressful and busy last couple of weeks, one of the culminations being that my brother has come to visit! I am so excited that he is here (him being here was the busy preparation, not the the stressful part :p)!!! I've been a bit on the homesick side for Alaska these past couple of months, and it is so nice to have a little part of that brought to me. Some of the highlights so far - meatloaf (made by him - it was fantastic!), walking to the library to acquire books for the both of us, watching Sarah Palin's Alaska (and WHY is that a highlight, you may wonder...we watched it because since we are both from Alaska, everyone assumes we've seen it and asks us what we think. And we had never seen it! So we watched part of an made us laugh....), playing with the critters, and just catching up. One of the nice things has been that the weather has been sunny, and in the mid to high 70's all week so far. In the middle of MARCH! It's crazy.

All of that to say that hopefully the blogging sabbatical is done for now! ;) On to cooking! This chicken recipe has fast become one of my favorites, and has definitely worked itself in to our regular meal rotation as a quick and easy dinner that we usually have the ingredients for.


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, seasoned
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs with the water and add the chicken.
  4. Combine the parsley, thyme, red pepper, bread crumbs, wheat germ, basil and ground pepper. Stir in the oil with a fork and mix well to distribute evenly. Pour seasoning mixture into a resealable plastic bag and the chicken pieces to coat.
  5. Place coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 minutes, turn the pieces and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

The best part about it is that you can use it to fit your own tastes! I don't think I've ever actually made the recipe as directed - I just use Italian bread crumbs and whatever seasonings I feel like at the moment. (usually a lot of garlic based ones :P) Instead of cutting the chicken into nuggets (which I'm sure would be tasty, but takes more time), I have used chicken tenders, and have been quite pleased with the results! Just bake the tenders as directed on the package (usually 375 for 15-20 minutes). Serve with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy - it is fannnntastic.