Sunday, February 28, 2010

27???!!

How am I already 27 years old? I feel like it was just yesterday that I was having my sweet sixteen big birthday bash! I have had a wonderful weekend, and day so far. I am constantly reminded of how lucky and blessed I am. I mean, I really can't ask for anything more in life. I have it all...and I am so so so blessed.

Last night, the hubs and I went out for an early birthday dinner. It was a special treat!!!! We went to Osaka for sushi. I couldn't decide what I wanted for my birthday dinner, but then finally decided on sushi. I'm a huge sushi lover, but don't eat it as often as I'd like. Daniel and I had a GREAT dinner there, and Daniel actually ate sushi with me and he enjoyed it. :)

I had to work this weekend, but am off now. phew! Daniel and I are about to go on a long walk/run. We are excited that the sun in shining...I have Spring fever badly. Tonight we are going over to my parents for a delicious dinner.

Thank you to everyone for your warm birthday wishes. I am so grateful to have the best family and friends a girl could ask for!

Red Beans and Rice


My Birthday weekend started off on Friday by my husband making New Orleans famous Red Beans and Rice. He has made this once before and it is sooo amazing. We stock-piled dried red kidney beans while we were in NOLA last year for a wedding...we still have many left, so horray for more Red Beans and Rice meals to come. :) The is one of my most favorite dishes that Daniel makes! Below is the recipe that Daniel uses...yum, yum, yum.

You'll probably want to fiddle with it each time you make it, and arrive at the exact, instinctual combinations of seasonings that you like. Feel free to alter this recipe to your taste, but don't stray too far.

1 pound red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
As much garlic as you like, minced (I like lots, 5 or 6 cloves)
1 large smoked ham hock, 3/4 pound of Creole-style pickle meat (pickled pork), or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced, for seasoning
1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage or andouille, sliced on the bias
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
As many dashes Crystal hot sauce or Tabasco as you like, to taste
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR,
red pepper and black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh Creole hot sausage or chaurice, links or patties, grilled or pan-fried, one link or patty per person (optional)
Pickled onions (optional)

Soak the beans overnight, if possible. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot. (This helps reduce the, um, flatulence factor.) Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.
While the beans are boiling, sauté the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the ham hock (or ham or pickle meat), smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. (If the beans are old -- say, older than six months to a year -- they won't get creamy. Make sure the beans are reasonably fresh. If it's still not getting creamy, take 1 or 2 cups of beans out and mash them, then return them to the pot and stir.)

Serve generous ladles-ful over hot white long-grain rice, with good French bread and good beer.

YIELD: 8 servings

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Juicy Pork Chops

So the pork chops I made tonight were a hit. They were SO easy and very few ingredients. Recipe below:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 T. minced garlic
1 t. ground black pepper
1 lb. (1 inch thick) boneless pork chops

Directions:
1. In a large resealable bag, mix together the soy sauce, minced garlic, and pepper. Place the pork chops into the bag, squeeze out most of the air, seal and marinate for about 6 hours (or more) in the refrigerator. Turn the bag over about halfway through (if you are at home and can do so).
2. Preheat the oven's broiler. Place the pork chops onto a broiling pan. Broil for about 8 minutes per side, or to your desired doneness. Time will be different depending on the thickness of your chops.

Enjoy!

Gratitude





John Kennedy once said: "As we express out gratitude, we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

I have expressed lots of gratitude this week to my sweet husband as he has been amazing at taking care of our 12 week old puppy and our 1.5 year old puppy. My week has been pure craziness...I've been up and going from 6:00 am straight through 7:30 pm every day. It has been exhausting, but am sooo thankful he could help with the puppies. Daniel has a special touch with the dogs...he really cares for them and loves them, and they know this! Our little one, Zoey, follows him around like she's his shadow. We are having SO much fun with our new addition. Zoey is a sweetheart and so much fun to have. Her daddy bought her a dress yesterday (see pics of her in the purple dress) and she looked too cute for words. We have two spoiled puppies!

*Thank you, Daniel, for taking such good care of the dogs this week...we love you!!!!!

With this crazy week, I have not been doing much "fancy" cooking. Monday night we had rotisserie chicken, veggies, and left-over corn casserole. Tuesday we had Morningstar veggie burgers, with a black bean/tomato soup mixture I quickly concocted and veggies. Tonight I actually have a little more time to cook, so I'm making pork chops. If the recipe is good, I'll post it.

Enjoy the pictures and video (it's hard to see Zoey b/c she's so black-haha)! Oh-and take time to tell others how much they are appreciated. video

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ZOEY!!!!!!




Daniel and I have a new addition to our family! We welcomed Zoey (an almost 12 week old black pug puppy) to our family today! We are sooo excited about this, and so is Zoey's big brother-Zeus. We have been wanting a black pug for a while. The time was right and we found the one. Yes, we are crazy...but we are also pug crazy. Daniel and I are huge dog lovers and in the past couple years have become huge pug lovers. Now we have a sweet boy and a precious little girl...we are proud parents!

Zeus is already being a good big brother and trying to show Zoey the ropes. I will post some pictures, but will be adding a lot more later.

I am wondering how we will sleep tonight....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras


Happy Mardi Gras...or Fat Tuesday! Daniel came home tonight with a King Cake. We were going to try and make one...but this would be more of a weekend project for us when we have more time. Maybe next year! The cake is delicious. Happy Fat Tuesday to you and yours.

Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce

Thanks to my sister-in-law's blog , I have another yummy recipe to share. I am not a big bacon lover, but this recipe only uses two slices...it definitely makes the dinner and adds some flavor. The combination of bacon and apple juice is odd...but very delicious. The flavors complement themselves. Give this one a try! :) Thank you Lisa and Cooking Light!

Chicken with Cider and Bacon Sauce


4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (we just used tenderloins)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 bacon slices, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider (I just used apple juice)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. (I avoided this step by using tenderloins)Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper.

2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add chicken to drippings from pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

3. Add onion to pan; saute 2 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly. Add cider and broth; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until broth mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 5 minutes). Stir in cooked bacon; serve sauce over chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

Serve with broccoli and a combination of white and wild rice, or brown rice.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Dinner





Daniel and I aren't big Valentine's people, but we like to do a little something for it. I got him a couple of his favorite candies and a New Orleans Super Bowl t-shirt for V-Day. When I got home from work today, I was welcomed with many beautiful roses! I was so happy...I looooove flowers!!!! My sweet hubby also gave me a card and a gift card for Anthropology...woohoooo. I am blessed and have a very special valentine.

As you probably know about me and the hubs, we rarely go out to eat. Mainly because it's too $$$ to eat out, it's healthier to cook at home, and also because I love love LOVE to cook. We especially don't like going to eat out on holidays because restaurants mark up their prices and the food is not usually as good. So here it is folks, our menu tonight consisted of:

Panko Encrusted Salmon
Brown Sugar Brussel Sprouts
Corn Casserole Souffle
Cream Cheese Biscuits
and...
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

...this dinner was hands down AMAZING! Recipes below...

Panko Encrusted Salmon

-4 t. olive oil
-4 pieces of thickly cut, boneless salmon (6 oz. each)
-2 T. mustard
-2 t. chopped tyme
-2/3 cup Panko
-2 T. chopped parsley
-1/2 t. paprika

Preheat oven to 400. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Set the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet with the skin side down. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and 1 t. of the thyme. In another small bowl, mix the Panko with the remaining 1 t. of thyme, 4 t. of olive oil, parsley, and paprika. Using a small spoon, spread the mustard mixture on the salmon; top with the breadcrumb mixture. Roast the salmon for about 15 minutes-until it is almost firm to the touch and flakes when poked with a fork.

Brown Sugar Brussel Sprouts

-1 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
-1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1 t. red pepper flakes
-2 t. salt
-2 T. balsamic vinegar
-2 T. brown sugar

Steam Brussel sprouts over boiling water until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Heat oil and garlic over medium-high heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add Brussel sprouts, lemon juice, pepper flakes and salt, stirring until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, stir for a couple minutes and remove from heat, serve immediately.

Corn Casserole Souffle (a favorite of ours from Daniel's family!!)

-1 box Jiffy Corn Mix
-1 can creamed corn
-1 can corn niblets, drained
-1 (8 oz.) jar low-fat sour cream
-1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together. Bake in casserole dish for 45-60 minutes. Yum, yum, yum!

Cream Cheese Biscuits (Thanks, Lisa for this recipe---we loved them!)

-1 (8 oz.) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup self-rising flour

Preheat oven to 400. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed of an electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add flour, beating at a low speed just until blended. Spoon dough into ungreased miniature muffin pans, filling full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. Serve hot. Yield 1 1/2 dozen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

-1 brownie mix such as Pillsbury
-2 Cups semi sweet chocolate chips
-1/4 Cup peanut butter

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Bake until toothpick comes out nearly clean from center but still slightly undercooked. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. When you are able to touch brownies comfortably, scoop brownies with a medium cookie scoop, roll tightly into a ball and place onto a wax paper lined baking sheet. Continue rolling until brownies are gone. Freeze brownies until very firm, a couple hours or overnight. No worries if your brownie balls aren’t perfect, once frozen reshape them. They are easier to handle when chilled.
Place chocolate chips over a double broiler (or heat in microwave until smooth) to melt, then stir in peanut butter until creamy smooth. Roll each frozen brownie ball into chocolate and place onto wax paper to dry. Enjoy room temperature or chilled. These are rich, so serve with a tall glass of milk. YUMM---OOO!!!!!!!!!!

Enjoy, Enjoy, ENJOY! :)

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!!!! I will be posting about what we will be having for dinner tonight a little later. Come back, soon. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sloppy Joes


I remember eating Sloppy Joes growing up and being so excited about them! My Mom makes a mean sloppy joe, and this is what I remember as one delicious sloppy joe. As a child, I loved that they were sloppy and messy...very kid-friendly. I tried a new recipe for sloppy joes last night in one of my many cookbooks. In the past, I have always used my Mom's recipe, but thought I'd try something new. I am always trying new and different recipes because that's what keeps cooking fun! Although...I still have those traditional and just too-good-to-replace recipes that I go back to over and over again.

Anyways, I made the new recipe last night and it was good....but not great. Therefore---I will not be posting it. My Mom's recipe wins the prize! I don't have it on my computer right now, but will get it posted soon so that you can enjoy it as well. I thought I'd post about the sloppy joes because it's an easy, healthy (if you use lean ground beef), quick recipe that all will enjoy.

I like to post recipes as well as cooking suggestions/ideas on what to cook. I enjoy getting recipes and ideas off others blogs, so I hope you can get something out of mine. :) I try to focus on quick, healthy and easy recipes...but that is not always the case.

The hubs and I have a d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. dinner planned for Valentine's Day...come back soon to find out what it will be...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs, oh my!

Over the past few months, I have become a true blog lover. I find myself reading blog after blog after blog in my free time. I mainly read "foodie blogs," healthy eating/living blogs, and blogs from family and friends that live far away. What a great idea a blog is! In the future once I have many more posts---I'd love to create my blog into a book so that I can look back at it in a hand-held form to have for keepsake and memory purposes.

My Blog is not:

-professional
-I don't use correct English
-spellchecked
-pre-thought of with ideas of what to write

My Blog is just a space for me to share my ideas, thoughts, recipes, life-goings-ons, etc. I look at many other blogs which are beautiful and professional; however, that is not mine. I am not trying to win any awards or money (although-that'd be nice ;) )...so please keep this in mind when you read my scatter-brained posts. I just sit down at the computer and start typing! There really are no rhyme or reasons to my posts. Also most of the pictures are taking from our rinky-dink camera...not very professional once again. We want one of our next big purchases to be a super nice camera...so professional-like pictures will be in the future! ;)

I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy posting. Here's to more blogging!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Geaux Saints!!!!

What a great Super Bowl! I normally like to watch the super bowl for the commercials, half-time shoes ("The Who's" were a total let-down, by the way...), the food, drinks, etc. BUT, this time I enjoyed actually watching the game and paying attention. I knew who to root for...The Saints!!!! And why you ask? Because my husband, Daniel, was born there. His parents grew up there and they still have family and friends in 'Nola. They have a special place in their heart for New Orleans, as it means so much to them. I have visited the city twice, and it really is a neat place.

Daniel and I didn't do much cooking for the Super Bowl since we had another snowy weekend (didn't have much of the food "staples" on hand), and I was working. We did however make a couple things. One, is a favorite of Daniel's...it is a recipe from my sister in law, Amanda, so I call it "Amanda's yummy dip." The recipe is below. We also had guacamole, wings, beer, etc. :) Geaux Saints!

Amanda’s Yummy appetizer/dip

1 lb. sausage

2 (8 oz. packages) cream cheese (soften before mixing)

2 cans Ro-Tel

Brown the sausage in a little olive oil, then drain on paper towels. Mix sausage with the cream cheese and Ro-Tel. Bake for about 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees. I usually pop it in the oven for another 10 minutes or so just before it’s served. (I use lean sausage and get the low-fat cream cheese so it’s not a total heart attack) Serve with fritos, chips or crackers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wild Winter!

We've had quite a winter in VA this year. This is not typical for Richmond, VA! Today marks our second big snow of the year, and our fourth snow of the year. This is wild! Enjoy the pictures below.


We are beginning to feel as if we live in CO!
Daniel put his ski's on! Pure powder!
Puppy love

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yum!

Tonight we had a different dinner...but nevertheless yummy!

I marinated pork chops in barbeque sauce all day. When I came home this evening, I popped them in the oven at 350 for 1 hour. I also made orzo to go along with this and asparagus. The orzo was soooo good...recipe below:

Orzo with Mushrooms and Pecans

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cup uncooked orzo
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
-Toast pecans in toaster oven, or bake them at 350 for about 5 mins, or until they release their aroma
-Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onions and mushrooms until tender and golden brown (about 10 mins.)
-Pour in broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed (about 15 mins.). If after 15 mins., there is still liquid, remove lid and cook until liquid is gone.
-Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste!

After a delicious dinner, dessert is a must...so, I made these:

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, set aside.
-In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies.
-Bake 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry and more...



Chicken Stir-Fry

By: Lori Schlecht (allrecipes)

"'This is a tasty, healthy meal that everyone in my house enjoys!' reports Lori Schlecht of Wimbledon, North Dakota."

Prep Time:
15 Min

Cook Time:
10 Min

Ready In:
25 Mi

Servings 4

Ingredients

4 (4 ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided (I used peanut oil)

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup sliced celery (1/2 inch pieces)

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 small onion, cut into wedges

1 cup water

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (I didn't have this on hand, so didn't use it-and turned out just fine)

Directions

1. Cut chicken into 1/2-in. strips; place in a resealable plastic bag. Add cornstarch and toss to coat. Combine soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder; add to bag and shake well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil; stir-fry chicken until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Add remaining oil; stir- fry broccoli, celery, carrots and onion for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add water and bouillon. Return chicken to pan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Serve with brown rice!

Footnotes

Nutritional Analysis: One serving (prepared with reduced-sodium soy sauce and reduced-sodium bouillon) equals 306 calories, 14 g fat (0 saturated fat), 73 mg cholesterol, 239 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 30 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1 fat, 1/2 starch.

Laura's Moist Bananna Bread

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

4 bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine flour, oatmeal, baking soda and powder, salt. In a large bowl cream together eggs and sugar. Stir in mashed bananas, vanilla, oil and cinnamon. Stir in flour mixture, a third at a time, until just combined. Divide batter into either two 9x5 inch pans for two small loafs, or into one 9x5 inch pan for one larger loaf. Bake for about 1 hour.


*This recipe is from the foodnetwork, however; I have made a few personal changes and additions...so it is now from Laura's cookbook. :)




**My sweet hubby came home tonight with two eclairs for us to enjoy for dessert (picture above)! I was so excited about this, as my huge sweet tooth was wondering what we were going to have for dessert tonight! Gotta have dessert...oh.my.gosh. these eclairs were to dye for!!!! Thank you Westhampton Pastry Shop...we love you!

Easy dinners

Well, it's been a few days since my last post. That's because I've done super easy dinners that aren't necessarily "special treats." No fear though--the meals were still delicious and healthy, just embarrassingly easy!

Monday night we had bean soup. I soaked the dried beans overnight, then threw them on the stove Monday morning. The soup simmered all day, when I got home that evening I added frozen chopped spinach and some lean-turkey sausage to the soup. Daniel and I had this soup with triskets and fresh pear slices. Needless to say, we felt extremely healthy after this meal!

Tuesday night we had taco's with lean-ground turkey. These were served with all the taco fixins', plus fresh guacamole (I had a huge craving for this...yum!), lima beans and creamed corn. Super easy, yum-O dinner!

Tonight we are having chicken stir fry. If the recipe is good, I will post it this evening. Better get a cookin'...stomachs are a rummblin'!