Saturday, February 25, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Stroganoff has to be one of my favorite food groups - beef, chicken - I love them both! My Mom makes the most amazing beef stroganoff. That was the most requested meal for my birthday dinners. This chicken stroganoff is equally good, and slightly easier, because you just throw everything in the crock pot and leave it for a couple of hours.


Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1/8 cup margarine
  • 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

Directions

  1. Put chicken, margarine and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Add cream cheese and soup, mix together and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.




Follow as directed. You really can play around with this recipe and I haven't had it turn out bad yet! This time instead of cubed chicken breasts, I put whole frozen chicken tenders in instead. Then after it had cooked for a couple of hours, I used two forks and shredded them before adding the cream cheese/cream of chicken. Served over egg noodles, it was perfect! Full of flavor and creamy, sort of a combo between stroganoff and alfredo.


I am typing this as I wait for Whip It to load - we just got back from watching a girl's roller derby scrimmage in Jackson, and I'm feeling inspired! ;) I pointed out to Brean as we were leaving that I could probably do roller derby, as he tells me all the time that I just continue on my way and mow people over. I think he's slightly crazy, but maybe a little bit right. Now if only I had the skating ability to back it up.
It was really fun though to go to a sporting event! I haven't been to many since I was in high school watching my younger siblings play, usually hockey or volleyball. Can I just add that my butt HURT after sitting on those bleachers for a couple of hours??? I don't know how you sports mom's do it consistently! But back to the actual game - I loved the crowd, and the energy that is flowing, both by the players and the audience. You watch with baited breath, waiting for the play, and then cheer or groan based on the outcome. I've missed that. So now I need to go find a sports team that I can watch consistently, so I can get my cheer on! Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Baked Ham Sandwiches /. Thoughts on "The Vow"

This will be a quick recipe post, because my main reason for posting today was to talk about my thoughts on The Vow (see below). But I don't want to disappoint you foodies out there! ;) These sandwiches were quite tasty, and worked really well to freeze for later lunches. (though I definitely recommend freezing PRIOR to cooking - we didn't, and I wish that we would have. They were still good though :P)


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/3 cup prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 8 hamburger buns, split
  • 16 slices deli ham
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine butter, onion, mustard and poppy seeds. Spread about 1 tablespoon over both halves of buns. Layer ham and cheese on the bottom halves; replace tops. Wrap each sandwich in foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 6-10 minutes or until cheese is melted, or freeze for up to 2 months.
  2. To use frozen sandwiches: Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted.



First of all - WAYYYYYY too much onion going on in these sandwiches! It was very overpowering to the other flavors, which were fabulous when you were able to get past the onion. Thoughts for the future on that  - either decrease the dried minced onion by at LEAST half, or possibly substitute them for some sauteed diced onion. I think you could probably leave the butter and mustard (we used Dijon - I probably need to buy stock in Dijon mustard, because I put it on EVERYTHING!) amounts the same, though that may change the mixture to more of a soupyness then a thick paste. Depending on how the mixture came out, I may just put it on one half of the sandwich instead of the top AND the bottom. I didn't have any poppy seeds on hand for this batch, but I think I would endeavor to get some for next time and see how that changed things. We ended up scraping off some of the onion mixture, and that being done, the sandwiches were really good! Definitely will make again with some changes.


The Vow: At this point, I'm pretty sure anyone who REALLY wants to see this movie has seen it, so forgive me if there are spoilers. Just got done watching it with some friends and am still processing - what better place to do that then cyber world? The reviews of the movie have definitely been mixed, probably with most people disliking the movie. I think I am neutral, with stronger leanings towards the "liked it" side. I think it was a less cookie-cutter movie and less of a romantic, slightly comedic film then it was portrayed in the previews. I was expecting the usual boy meets girl, falls in love, bad thing happens, they have some issues, but love triumphs in the end. If you haven't seen the movie, this next part might not make sense, but I shall forge ahead anyway!
      I was very disappointed that Leo (the male lead) signed the divorce papers. He had spent several weeks pursuing his wife, who couldn't remember who he was. Paige (the female lead) went back to her family, threw herself at an old fiancee, who was the last relationship she remembered, and really didn't seem to treat Leo as though the situation had any effect on him, just on her. Her treating him like that was very disturbing, yet with a movie title of "The Vow", I wanted and expected him to keep persevering! I think the film did an incredible job of showing real emotions that would be happening in that situation - he kept pursuing her based on their previous relationship, trying to encourage/force her to remember what they had. And he kept being hurt and frustrated when she just didn't remember. I wanted him to pursue a relationship with her, not based on what they HAD (which of course she can't remember), but what they COULD have in the future and quit trying to force the past into the future.
      In the end, after the divorce and 6-8 months of not seeing or talking to each other, that seems to be what happens. She still doesn't remember but wants to forge a new relationship with him. I can understand where both of them are coming from and it made sense to me. While I disliked the way Paige treated Leo, I can sympathize with the frustration of having a whole life you don't remember. I can't imagine waking up and having someone tell me they are my spouse, who I can't even remember meeting!

      A little disclaimer - I am not saying that as a blanket statement and there are a lot of unknown factors to be considered. I am NOT advocating for a situation in which there is un-repentance (repentance = a discontinuing of the behavior and an active pursuit of rebuilding the relationship with their spouse), repeated offense in this area (which I think indicates un-repentance, or an unwillingness to change), or unwillingness to forgive on the part of the wronged spouse. I am saying that to truly forgive someone who has hurt you that deeply in both beyond yourself, and demonstrates a grace undeserved by the offender
     I hope to nurture THAT grace towards my spouse, to accept the weaknesses and love regardless of the faults. I know that I can't do that on my own. And how grateful I am for a God who loves me that way, and who will give me the support to love that way too.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-apart Bread / Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

It's another two-for-one day, ladies and gentlemen. :) In honor of Dr. Who night (the theme this time is appetizers), I am again branching out and entering the world of baking, temporarily I'm sure. I think the reason I dislike baking is the time you have to wait for things to rise and whatnot. It just takes so much more planning to figure out when to start things! The Beer Bread recipe was one passed on from a friend, and Spice Cupcakes were a birthday request from my dearest mother-in-law. (though I added the pumpkin idea)

Cheddar, Beer, and Mustard Pull-apart Bread


Bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1/3 beer, preferably dark but really, use whatever you like to drink
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup rye flour (use additional a-p flour if you don’t have this)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Filling
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon or a mustard of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  1. Make dough: In a small saucepan, heat the 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup of beer, just until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup beer. Set aside to cool down slightly. You want the mixture warm (110 to 116 degrees), but not steaming hot.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and table salt. With the mixer on low, pour in the butter-beer mixture, mixing only until the flour is moistened. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. The batter will look lumpy, but will become smooth in a moment. Add the remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and all of the rye flour, mixing until just combined. Replace paddle with a dough hook and let the machine knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes on low.
  3. Oil a medium/large bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 50 to 60 minutes, until doubled. Meanwhile, prepare fillings.
  4. [Do ahead: You can also rest the dough in the fridge overnight -- wrapped tightly with plastic. The next day, let it rest at room temperature for an hour before rolling out.]
  5. Make fillings: Back in the same small saucepan you used for the butter and beer, melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce until smooth. Set aside.
  6. In the bottom of a medium bowl, stir together mustard powder, paprika, table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add shredded cheddar and toss until grated strands are evenly coated with spices. I like to keep this in the fridge until needed so it doesn’t get soft and clumpy, making it harder to sprinkle over the dough in a bit.
  7. Assemble bread: Either coat a 9-by-5 loaf pan lightly with butter or a nonstick spray and set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and roll the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle, making sure it doesn’t stick to the counter by lifting sections and re-flouring the counter as needed. Brush the butter-mustard-Worcestershire mixture evenly over the whole surface, right up to the edges. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips; each should be 12-by-4 inches. Sprinkle the first one evenly with a heaping 1/4 cup of the grated cheese (which is now fine to leave out at room temperature). Gently place another strip on top of it, coat it with another heaping 1/4 cup of cheese, and repeat with remaining strips until they are stacked 5-high and all of the cheese is used.
  9. With your very sharpest serrated knife, gently — so gently! The lightest sawing motions the weight of the blade will allow! — cut your stack into 6 to 7 2-inch segments (each stacked segment should be 4-by-2 inches). I say 6 to 7 range because while your 12-inch length should clearly yield only 6 2-inch segments, I find that the soft dough stretches so much when you lift and stack it that I end up with 7. Either amount will fit; this is totally not something to fret over.
  10. Arrange stacks of dough down the length of your prepared loaf pan as if filling a card catalog drawer. I make this easier by standing my loaf pan up on its short end to make the next part easier. If, when you finish filing all of your dough stacks, you ended up with less than needed for the dough “cards” to reach the end of the pan, when you return the pan to rest flat on the counter again, just shimmy it a little so the dough centers. It will all even out in the final rise/oven. If you ended up with toomany dough cards, before you add the last stack, simply press gently on the dough already filed to make room for it.
  11. Loosely cover the pan with more plastic wrap and set it aside to rise again for 30 to 45 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  12. Bake loaf for 25 to 35 minutes, until puffed and brown. Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes before flipping it out onto a serving plate/cutting board. 


http://smittenkitchen.com/2012/02/cheddar-beer-and-mustard-pull-apart-bread/

Mostly followed this one to the letter. I didn't have rye flour or hot sauce - just used more all-purpose flour instead of rye, and omitted the hot sauce. It turned out pretty well! I also did not have a stand mixer, so just mixed and kneaded by hand. The bread itself was very fluffy. I ran into the problem of how long to let it rise because I made it earlier then I probably needed to, so it ended up rising in the bread pan for about 2 hours. It was not as fully flavored as I expected. Next time I think instead of making it as a stack, I will make it into a roll by spreading the sauce and cheese across the whole dough when it's spread out and then rolling it. I'm not quite sure how to increase the flavor of the cheese/seasoning - I think it might just take some playing around. Definitely will make it again!


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  •  
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Sift together the flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup of butter, the white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree after the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting by beating the cream cheese and 1/4 butter with an electric mixer in a bowl until smooth. Beat in the confectioners' sugar a little at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; beat until fluffy. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost with the cream cheese icing.



I'm going back and forth about this recipe. But since I didn't follow it directly, I'm not sure whether it's the recipe itself that needs some work, or my changes! :p First change, based on reviews, was to substitute the butter for vegetable oil - apparently for moist cupcakes, you NEVER use butter, only oil. Who knew. Also based on reviews, I increased the amount of pumpkin added by about 3/4 of a cup. On my own personal taste, I increased the nutmeg/cinnamon/all spice in the batter probably by almost double after the test taste before baking (I sprinkled it in, so I'm not sure exact measurements). 
The cupcakes came out with great flavor, but were VERY dense. I may go back to using butter and decrease the pumpkin next time to see if they come out a little fluffier. The frosting was pretty good, though I like a bit more cream cheese in the cream cheese to powdered sugar ratio, so I may shift that around a bit. The cinnamon added a fun color and brought out more of the pumpkin flavor of the cupcakes. 


Factoid of the day: I loooooove naps. Most of the time, as long as I HAVE extra time (I don't really do naps under pressure of a time crunch) it's so nice to just lay there and doze, even if I don't actually sleep. I usually will read for about 20-30 minutes and then doze for about an hour or so. I'm in this quandary place of reading - I'm reading a book that I really like, but am not flying through, but I just went the library yesterday and now have 7 new possibilities to read next! Part of me wants to read one of my new books (All My Patients Kick and Bite by Jeff Wells), and part of me is enjoying the book I'm reading (A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly). 
I went through a phase about a year ago when I read nothing but animal books, mostly collections of short stories written by vet's about their patients and clients. So this new Jeff Wells book has gotten me thinking about getting back into that phase, but we'll see. All that to say that I'm excited to read it. Crazy clients and unique animals make me smile (as long as the crazy clients are can be observed from a farrrrr distance! :P) and even though I live it every week day, it's fun to read about someone ELSE living it! 
I've decided that if I were to write a book, it would be comedic non-fiction, an anthology of sorts. My current ideas are either crazy client/animal stories from work or listening to the Bible on shuffle, in the style of A Year of Living Biblically. Either one could be fun. I'll let you know if I ever actually start working on this. :P 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

This is a Chaley original! I had a block of Queso  Velveeta cheese leftover from nachos last week, and thought to myself - "I bet this would be awesome over chicken enchiladas!" I couldn't really find a recipe that I had all the ingredients for to make actual enchiladas, so I made up my own from what I had. May need some tweaking next time, but it was pretty tasty.

Ingredients

2 lbs of chicken, cooked
Chili Powder to taste (probably a couple of teaspoons)
Garlic salt to taste (2ish teaspoons?)
7-8 burrito sized tortillas
2 sweet onions
2 cans of Rotel (one original, and one mild)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
8 oz. Velveeta

Directions

  1. Sprinkle chicken with chili powder and garlic salt. Bake (or pan cook) until cooked through. 
  2. Dice onion, and mix in a large bowl with the can of Original Rotel. 
  3. When chicken is cooked, cut into chunks and add to the onion/Rotel mixture. Add Cream of Chicken and stir until mixture is consistent. Add additional chili powder/garlic salt to taste
  4. Fill tortillas and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan, with the seam down. 
  5. In a medium sized sauce pan, combine Velveeta and can of Mild Rotel and heat until melted. Pour over the wrapped tortillas and cover with foil. Back on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until all is heated through. 
  6. Can garnish with sour cream and chives if you have it on hand. 
So, some changes I would make next time. The chicken itself turned out awesome. I would probably cut down on the amount of onion to either 1 or 1 1/2, and maybe saute it with a little chili powder/garlic salt while the chicken is cooking. It was a little spicy for me (Brean thought it was just right) so I may either cut down on the amount of Original Rotel, or substitute it for a can of Mild. I thought I had shredded cheddar cheese on hand, which I discovered midway through this process that I did not...so I think that would be an excellent addition wrapped in the tortillas next time. Plus, maybe adding some more Queso - I like things cheeeeeeeeesy! :p 


Well, another Valentine's Day has come and gone. You'd think after 8 Valentine's together, Brean and I would have this thing figured out. Nope. Another cliched girl makes nice candle lit dinner, boy doesn't do anything, girl gets upset, boy gets upset, argument ensues, argument gets resolved, Valentine's day ends on a much less romantic note. Brean says that he hates Valentine's day because there is too much expectation. This is probably true, at least on my part. I don't know about the rest of the female race, but despite my best efforts to NOT expect presents, or a card, or SOMETHING on a holiday in which everywhere is telling you that you SHOULD get one, I fail miserably. So here are some thoughts on Valentine's Day, in no particular order. 

1) Valentine's is a made up card holiday. Definitely not going to argue with that. However, I think the premise behind the day is important. You SHOULD have  a day at least once a year that is specifically devoted to romancing your spouse, to making them feel special, to proving to them that yes, even after all these years, they are still the one for you.  And to those who say that they are not going to celebrate it because it's a made up holiday and that they can treat their spouse special whenever they want, I challenge them to actually DO it! It doesn't have to be on Valentine's day! Make up your own day! But set aside time specifically to connect in a romantic sort of way. 

2) Valentine's day should not be a day to make your spouse feel inadequate for not living up to all the hype. And I fail at that pretty consistently. Can I just put a plug in here that having "gifts" as your highest love language sucks most of the time? I was so excited to make a romantic dinner at home, and I kept telling myself "it doesn't matter if he doesn't bring you anything, because you are doing this because you love him". But it did kinda matter... I read a blog a couple of weeks ago about women tend to stuff their emotions into a nice little box that we just have to "deal with because we're women, and we're emotional, and we shouldn't be". I love the way the author unpacks "emotions" and lays it all out. I highly encourage you to read it if you've ever felt like your emotions are getting the best of you and "why don't they just GO AWAY?!" 
But I digress - intrinsically, part of me needs gifts to have the feeling of being loved. That does not mean that the person didn't love me before, or that my head didn't know that they loved me. Sometime it just takes that small gift, that thing I can hold in my hand, to make the feeling of being loved arrive. So often I sit there and try to reason through all of the reasons that I shouldn't expect a present, or that I don't need one to feel loved. I try to fit all of that hope, and longing, and feelings of unlovedness into a box that I can squash with a big hammer, because I tell myself I'm just being "greedy", or "selfish", or "demanding".. But they never fit in a box. Those emotions escape, threading tendrils through my attitude, my actions, and my feelings. And since I'm pretty bad about keeping my emotions hidden, it erupts into something that has to be dealt with. 
Gifts are hard for Brean, partly because they are his LOWEST love language. Often times, they don't even come up on his radar! So, for the other gifties (such as me), be patient with your spouse. It's not because they don't love you (despite the fact that it often feels that way), it really just may not occur to them. And for the non-gifties out there, be patient with us. Haha, I think patience and grace should be the theme of any relationship! 
My goal at this point is to be more honest with my emotions, both to Brean and to myself. The plan is that this will lead to more open dialogue, and more compromise to get a solution that works for both of us. A solution we've come up with so far is that Brean is going to shift the budget a smidge and have a category designated for buying each other presents. This way, he has the freedom to get me a gift, without worrying about financial constraints. I have much hope, not that this is going to be a miraculous fix to all future problems, but at least that it's a stepping stone to a better us. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Crepes / Cinnamon Cream Syrup

Today is a two-for-one deal! Crepes are one of my favorite foods, because they are so versatile. There aren't many food items that you can use for both a fancy main dish and dessert! Plus, when I'm running low on meal ideas, I usually have everything I need to make crepes already on hand. And the Cinnamon Cream Syrup, for serious guys, makes anything you but it on taste like the world's best cinnamon roll. I usually use it for pancakes, but it could go on just about any breakfast food you prefer.

Crepes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.



Crepes are pretty basic and come in all kinds of recipe varieties. I like this version because it uses less milk, and honestly, when I'm about to run out of groceries and we don't shop for another couple of days, milk is the thing that I'm usually short on! ;) I tend to add a bit more sugar then the recipe calls for, because I do tend to like slightly sweeter crepes. All you have to do is put all the ingredients in a blender, blend for a minute or two, and voila! My preferred crepes combinations are: Eggs Benedict Crepes for the main course, and Cream Cheese filled crepes with jam for dessert. For the Eggs Benedict, just add ham, an egg (fried, scrambled, whatever), sprinkle some cheese on top, and drizzle with Bearnaise sauce. But really, any savory combination you prefer will work. There is a crepe place that just opened up in Jackson (City Crepes for anyone who is wondering), and I had one there that was cream cheese, turkey, bacon, spinach and tomatoes. Fantastico! They put the ingredients on top of the crepe after you flip it so that it gets all warm and melty. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! 


Cinnamon Cream Syrup

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavored extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in cream, brown sugar, maple extract and cinnamon. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve warm.



If you're looking for a sweeter option, try filling crepes with homemade cream cheese frosting/filling. Then heat your favorite jam in the microwave until hot and drizzle it over the filled crepe. Or, try it with some Cinnamon Cream Syrup! No extra butter needed for this syrup, ladies and gentlemen - with 5 tablespoons already in it, I think you're covered. :p The recipe says it makes enough syrup for 8. I don't know about you, but I like a LOT of syrup on my pancakes, this recipe usually serves about 3. :p
I'm not sure in what universe the syrup thickens up in 3-4 minutes! Try 10-15, and even then, it's not as thick as regular syrup. It does get thicker when you use the heavy cream, but if you are looking for a lighter option, it is equally tasty using half and half. Other than that, follow as directed, serve, and enjoy!

So what are you watching these days? My two favorites at the moment are "Jane by Design" and "Hart of Dixie". They are by no means stellar shows, but I love them because they are sweet, and yes, somewhat predictable. What can I say, I am a sucker for happy endings. I WANT the heroine to always win at the end of my 45 minutes of viewing! Truthfully, I watch wayyyyyyy too many shows. Sidereel is my best of friends - it has this wonderful tracking calender, which tells me when I have new episodes of each show. I currently have THIRTY shows on my Sidereel calender, and that is not including anything that I have going on Netflix.(though I should point out that is total shows, which includes ones like Leverage, Fairly Legal, and Covert Affairs, which are in hiatus). How do I have a life, you must wonder! (don't worry, I wonder the same thing!). A lot of shows I get behind on, and then catch up during the millions of hiatusi (that is the plural of hiatus, right? :P) that shows decide to take during the year. Some shows get dropped (America's Next Top Model - just couldn't handle Tyra anymore!), some shows get added (Smash is the current new one, we'll see if it sticks around), and others just hang out (Unforgettable, which I have watched the first episode and can't decide if I like it or not, so I haven't watched any more episodes :P).
Brean and I together are watching House, Once Upon a Time (which actually does get better at about episode 4 or 5!), Revenge, Lois and Clark, and, secrety of secrets, he will watch the tail end of the Bachelor with me. All that being said, I am now off to catch up on Extreme Couponing! (while I clean the kitchen...I'm all about multitasking while watching shows!)

Factoid of the day - my Doofenschmirtz still loves me, even though today was bath day, and he reeeeeally didn't prefer getting wet, despite the fact that he loves playing in water and dumping out his water bowl. He came and cuddled with me, while frantically trying to lick every hair back into it's original place. At least now he smells like coconuts, and is oh so soft!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goat Cheese and Arugula over Penne

Hey blogosphere! So this is actually a really fun recipe if you want to branch out, sounds really fancy, and is super easy! It's really a win-win situation, as long as you like goat cheese and arugula that is. ;)


Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped arugula, stems included
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces penne pasta

Directions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  2. Crumble goat cheese into a large serving bowl. Add arugula, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper.
  3. Drain pasta, and toss with goat cheese mixture.



This was a "follow as directed" recipe the first time. It was a nice blend of flavors, and more out of the box than anything I had tried before. I think as per some of the reviews, I would definitely saute the garlic, or possibly add it to the water that the penne noodles are being cooked in for next time. Other than that, leave as is. It's super fast - only takes as long as it takes for the noodles to boil!

Sigh - it is the end of the one of the looooooooooooooooongest weeks. I am so grateful for several sweet ladies that I work with, who get what I'm going through and can validate all those crazy moments that inevitably happen.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pesto Cream Sauce with Shrimp

Well, I haven't really cooked in the last two weeks. Weird, I know! It's Brean's turn to grocery shop, and it's been a busy couple of weeks for him, so he hasn't been able to do it, hence we have been scrounging around what we have in the kitchen. Which I have to say has worked out well so far, with a couple of random milk runs. But I am getting the itch to make something new, so hopefully by the end of the week I will have a menu set!
This is one we tried a couple of months ago - I liked it! The recipe calls for shrimp, but Brean and I both agreed that it would probably be better with chicken. It's a nice mix of pesto and a makeshift alfredo sauce, making it somewhat unique in the world of pasta sauces.


Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package linguine pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 20 mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 roma (plum) tomato, diced

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until tender and translucent. Stir in garlic and butter, and saute until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Dissolve flour in milk, then stir in. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cheese, and stir until melted. Stir in pesto. Add shrimp, mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook 4 minutes, or until heated through. Toss with pasta until evenly coated.


I did not add the mushrooms or the tomatoes, though I would definitely consider doing the tomatoes next time. I decreased the butter by half (to 1/4 cup) because with the olive oil and the pesto, there was just a lot of grease going on already. Surprisingly, the reheated leftovers were not nearly as greasy as reheated pesto or alfredo usually is. All in all, this was a pretty tasty dish, and while I wouldn't add it to our regular routine of meals, it's definitely a "make again" kinda dish.

Factoid of the day: We have officially been in our house for a year, as of yesterday!!!!! (insert noisemakers and confetti here) It's been crazy, especially around the holidays and the month of January to look over at Brean and say "we were signing a crap-load of papers at this time LAST YEAR". It doesn't feel like it's been year since packing up our cars in the midst of the biggest snow storm last year and driving across town to unload in our pink and teal house. (which still has teal carpet going on, but at least the pink walls went away) We were (and still are!) so blessed by our apartment neighbors, who spent many trips helping us get all of our belongings transferred, as well as spending countless hours helping paint, and chip off horrible wall paper borders, and just keeping us company. We are starting to put down roots here, and it's nice. For a long time, we were just living in an apartment in our college town, just drifting by I guess you would say. But now we are getting involved in our community, and cultivating friendships of people who are planning on making this little burb their home.
In other big news, we have acquired a dog! Through a random series of events, we were basically handed the perfect situation to get a Great Dane - he's a re-homing situation that is up to date on all shots, has been neutered and had a gastropexy (which is a big deal in Danes - you tack the side of the stomach to the abdominal wall so that they are unable to bloat), is crate trained, sits/lays down/fetches, and is in general the most well-behaved dog that I have ever met (with the exception of chewing his bed) all at 9 months old! It's been several days, and the cats are adjusting actually much faster than I expected. Doof was "himself" yesterday, instead of slinking around and hiding all the time, and Minion just thinks it's fabulous that Sully's food is another potential food source for him!
It's been a stressful week - I'm fighting a sinusy/sore throat kind of cold, I'm concerned about getting finances for the family cruise in May, and despite the fact of loving Sully, it's been an adjustment adding a dog to the mix of our family. There have been several days that I've just felt on the verge of crying all day, and it just feels stupid. Today is a better day, I think. But if you think about it, send up a little prayer for me that my heart will remember the mantra that my head is repeating "God is in control". Worrying and stressing is silly, because there is nothing I can do to help the situation anyway! With that being said, I'm off to do some de-stressing treadmilling, and hopefully will blog more this week! Feel like I've been slacking! ;)