armadillas


Arya and the queenmaker


Clearly, I’m going through a phase. I might even be prone to admit it’s a slightly obsessive phase. It’s the blogs I tell you, the blogs! I can’t help it. Whenever I’m feeling a little on the bored side and decide to open up Pinterest in my browser, I always end up stumbling upon some recipe or another and then being transferred to a blog. Lovely blogs, mind you. Inevitably, I  fall in love.

Today I fell in love with Stella. I don’t even know how I ended up on a page with Stella’s adorable face, but there she was looking at me with her dark, shining eyes. Oh yeah, Stella is a dog and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have dog envy. Sigh. Stella’s mamma is pretty cool, too.  I enjoy her posts and she has some pretty good looking recipes I intend to try out when my pockets aren’t feeling so empty. Check her out here at Witty in the City!

Anyway, one of her recipes that caught my attention was her mama’s roasted chicken. I’m a big fan of chicken. I’m a big fan of roasted chicken. I’m also quite the fan of those roasted veggies found under the roasted chicken. Witty in the City mentions that her family vies for the crispy ones. Girl after my own heart! I also like her philosophy in regards to cooking as you go. I’m not a mis-en-place type of gal either. It takes a certain amount of fun out of things.

Back to the chicken. With empty pockets, my cooking habits are a little limited at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t improvise. I may not have whole chicken pieces, but I have a few skinless, boneless breasts on hand. And the only vegetables here may be a bag of onions and I think a few cans of green beans. Well, I don’t do the canned green beans thing, but I do have a bag of apples. With September right on our heels, why not do an autumn inspired pseudo-roast? Onions, apples, chicken, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon, and thyme. A lovely meal is forming in my head as we speak. Plus some garlic! Can’t forget the garlic. Some of these combinations might sound a little weird, but I have a good feeling about it coming together into something beautiful. Mmm mmm mmm

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 granny smith apples (or apples of your choosing)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon juice

Maybe you noticed that I didn’t include any real measurements with the spices. That’s because this was my first attempt at this recipe and thus felt it best to eyeball everything. You’ll be fine! We’ll get to that in a moment. But first thing is first. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Now line a baking sheet with aluminum foil- or in my case, a pizza pan. Let’s make clean up a breeze!

Take your apples and give them a rough chop. Toss them onto the foil

Do the same with your onion. I separated the layers as best I could

Doesn’t it all look so pretty?

Okay, rinse your chickies! Place the rinsed off breasts right on top of the apples and onions. Gorgeous I say!

Onto the spices. Seriously, don’t be afraid to just eyeball everything. First, I sprinkled everything with some salt and pepper. Then I dashed on some cinnamon and brown sugar. I tried not to be too liberal with the cayenne (got to remember the boyfriend). Finally, a few shakes of thyme plus a spoonful of garlic here and there and we were in business. You know your own tastes better than I do. Follow your instincts.

 

At this point, drizzle lemon juice over the whole deal. An added option is to drizzle everything with some olive oil, but I omitted it. Oh, the choices! Pop the pan into the oven for about 45 minutes. In about 5 minutes your little house is going to be very aromatic

 

I had my doubts about this creation, but it turned out better than I expected. The boyfriend didn’t think it was too bad either, though he didn’t help himself to the crispy onions and apple bits. More for me! I think next time I might use the garlic and brown sugar to make a glaze. I’m just not the biggest fan of dry rubs. But it wasn’t bad, not bad at all. Nice and juicy!

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Browsing the web

I’m in love. Her name is Kay. She’s a Dutch girl and after a few days of browsing, I think her blog is amazing. It’s called Kayotic Kay and I can’t wait to make her Pink Peppercorn Hot Chocolate or Breakfast Pasta Bake. I’m all about some pasta bakes! I’ve already set up a link under my Foodies page, but here’s another link right here for your convenience.

Whoa, I really was in a linking mood, wasn’t I?


Too hot for comfort

There’s just no hope. I don’t think I’m ever going to master the art of pancakes. It’s just not going to happen. This morning- or rather this afternoon- I tried whipping up a batch for brunch and now my kitchen has been converted into a smokehouse. And the smoke is slowly seeping into every other room in the house. Naturally, the boyfriend had some criticism reserved for my little griddle cakes. I told him when he starts cooking he can start complaining. I’ve never denied that he makes better breakfast than I do anyway. Hmph! I think I’m going to stay away from breakfast for awhile. I forgot there was a reason I bought a waffle maker. Olaf!

But last night’s dinner was a success! My dad came over for a bit and then we were joined by the boyfriends brother so I put the Hamburger Helper back into the cupboard and decided to roast some chicken thighs instead. You see, I’ve discovered the world’s best chicken recipe. Actually, I don’t think it’s the world’s best as claimed by Pinterest, but it’s pretty darn good! The chicken was juicy and flavorful. I think a little while longer in the oven and I might have gotten a crisper skin as well. Mmm I love oven roasted chicken. I bet the marinade would work on a whole roast as well, something I’ll have to try next time I have a whole chicken on my hands. If you’re feeling a little tired of chicken, I’ve tried this recipe on pork, too. Gotta love versatile marinades!

Recipe adapted from Rachel Shultz

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 pack chicken thighs (or cut of your choice)

If you’re silly like me, misread the directions and add equal parts Dijon mustard and equal parts maple syrup. Hopefully you’ll realize your mistake before it’s too late and bump the mustard up a little bit

 

And make sure to use REAL maple syrup and not that fake sugary stuff. Mine is straight from Quebec, a gift brought back for me by a friend almost 2 years ago. Took me long enough to pop that bad boy open!

(It’s in French!)

So yes, whisk together the mustard, syrup, and vinegar

Now take your chicken and give it a good rinsing off. Pat dry with paper towels. Place in baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper

If you’re feeling a little rebellious, add some Adobo. Aren’t those chickies beautiful?

Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken thighs and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Forget to take pictures. Be sure to check the chicken periodically to make sure the sauce isn’t burning. That’s what some of the reviews said, but I lowered my heat from the original recipe and everything was fine

Yum, I could smell the chicken from all the way outside! Remove from oven and serve with some roasted potatoes. You know, to keep with that theme

Such a simple recipe packed with great flavor! Remember my broiler craze? I think I”m about to embark on an oven craze…just in time for Fall. I’m so ready for cooler weather and all the great foods that come with it. Pumpkin, soup, apple cider, hot chocolate…the list goes on!


You on the tube

I’m telling you…Pinterest is a dangerous, dangerous thing and I’m glad I lasted as long as I did without it. Man oh man. You know, I thought Facebook took up too much of my time when it first came out. I was wrong. So wrong. I’m not saying that I spend hour after hour browsing through Pinterest, but I definitely have to make a conscious effort to step away. You just get sucked into this endless array of recipes and crafts and wedding ideas and fashion. It’s a little ridiculous.

But I found a lovely recipe for Pizza Spaghetti Bake! Did you ever eat that as a kid? I remember eating lunch at school and every Friday was pizza day. That was the only time I was really interested in buying my lunch. My parents always packed me one. But sometimes there would be a special Friday where they served Pizza Pasta. Everyone LOVED pizza pasta day. Of course, there were those kids who pre-ordered their lunches and got first dibs, but once they were out of the way it was a fight to the death! Lunch would be over by the time you got out of line and at that point you were one lucky kid if you managed to get a tray.

Tough stuff! I’m so glad I can just make my own now. Recipe courtesy Tracey

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz pasta (I used spaghetti)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 6 large slices pepperoni
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the hamburger meat then drain. Naturally, an alternative could be Italian sausage or even ground turkey if you like the healthy route. I decided a little bit of ground beef wasn’t going to hurt me

 

Boil your pasta! Don’t forget to season the water with a touch of salt. It’s okay if the pasta isn’t cooked completely through. It’s going in the oven anyway. I guess it might be a good idea to go ahead and preheat it, huh? That would be 350 degrees please! Once the pasta is boiled and drain, lay it out in a baking dish sprayed with PAM/cooking spray of your choice

 

Layer the cooked beef over the pasta

 

Top the beef with your pasta sauce

 

Tear up your pepperoni and sprinkle it on top of the sauce. I suppose you could just use regular sized pepperoni, but all I had in my fridge was the sandwich stuff. So yummy! Save a few slices for later

 

Sprinkle the Parmesan and mozzarella over the pepperoni until covered. I’m pretty liberal with my cheese…

 

Finally, cover the cheese with the rest of the pepperoni and bake

 

After 30 minutes, pull your pasta bake out of the oven and be prepared to be taken back to elementary school. I like my cheese extra bubbly so I turned on the broiler for a few minutes

 

Now, was that not one of the easiest meals from childhood to prepare? Now that I’ve remembered the thing existed, it’s going to become a regular on my weeknight menu. So much better than just plain ol’ boring spaghetti


Something like magic

Today I woke up with a mighty craving. A strange craving, but a mighty one. First thing this morning, I was in the mood for something sloppy. You got it, I wanted a Sloppy Joe. Where did this need come from, I couldn’t tell you, but I’ve been thinking about one of those things all day long. I find it strange because I haven’t eaten one in probably a good seven years. Go figure.

But the Joe was a dear childhood favorite. I blame Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. It all started with a scene from the movie It Takes Two. Anyone remember that movie? I’ll admit back in my tween years (or I suppose just before hitting the tween years), I was an Olsen fan. This one was one of my favorites and I remember watching it all the time. The most vivid scene I remember is one of the twins (I think it was Ashley) not wanting to eat the Sloppy Joes and then naturally falling in the love with. Just look at that face!

Classic! Just classic! Kids, always try something new. You never know when you’re mind will be blown away. Ever since that day, I’ve had this ideal of what a Sloppy Joe should be and could never find it. Manwich never really did it for me, which is probably why i haven’t eaten one in so long. But today is different. Today I will create my perfect Joe and it’s going to be amazing. Just ask Alyssa (Ashley). I think a monster was awakened that day.

Here’s to being a 90s kid! And to being a Pioneer Woman because I adapted this recipe from hers

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Brown your beef. I like to use a large pot that way we can keep this as a one pot meal

 

In the meantime, dice your onion and green pepper

As you can see, my garden did yield that much green pepper. Make sure you find a nice big one. Makes all the difference in flavor! As this time, go ahead and mix together all your spices. You could just dump them in the pot later, but I had some time to kill

Once your beef is nice and browned, drain it and return to pot. Add in the onion, garlic, and green pepper

 

Wait for the onions to get translucent and squirt in the ketchup. I know. Sounds weird. Smells weird, too. But it will turn out. No fear

 

Stir it all together then throw in those spices you mixed up earlier. Don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste. I recommend keeping the heat on medium

 

The pioneer woman adds water to her Joes. I decided to get fancy and used chicken broth instead

 

Ah, it’s coming together now! Go ahead and add the Worcesterrrwoosectershirechur- that sauce that no one can pronounce!

 

Some tomato sauce emboldens the flavor

 

Let’s not forget the hot sauce. Sorry, dad. You were right. I did make it a touch spicy…

 

That’s okay. Spicy food keeps the doctor away! It’s almost time to eat. Let simmer for 15 minutes. The sauce will get nice and thick and before you know it you have good ol’ Sloppy Joes. If you’re anything like me, wear a bib and leave the whites in your closet

 

Serve with a slice of cheese and some fries and go watch the Redskins dominate in preseason!

 

I think from now on I’m going to serve these guys in a sub roll or hot dog buns. You know, to minimize the mess just a teensy bit

Tijuana

 

 


Cheater cheater pumpkin eater

So Saturday the boys and I had a steak-off! That’s right, I was the only participating female. Kinda makes you realize how often your time is spent in the company of gentlemen. Guess that happens when all your friends start to leave and get married and begin their lives. Sigh…looks like I’m falling behind in that department. I always was the late bloomer.

Anyway, enough of that gloom because I have reason to celebrate. Back to the steak-off! I feel like we’d been planning this steak-off for weeks and something always seemed to get in the way. But not Saturday. The three of us- Bobby, Frank, and I- were determined. And by golly, we made it happen!

Originally, I was going to come up with a new marinade. But the boyfriend told me to use the one here. I obliged. It’s a good marinade. Full of flavor with a hint of heat…which could be a downfall if your judges don’t like heat. To each their own (cough cough bunch of babies- just kidding!)

Now, a certain someone didn’t feel like pulling out the charcoal grill so Bobby and I had to turn to my trusted broiler

 

Bobby went and got fancy on us with a nice Porterhouse. Man, I wish I had gotten one of those! It was so much juicier than my puny little steaks

 

I was aiming for medium, but I think I ended up with medium-well. I think my thermometer is on the off side

 

Then these guys showed up (late) with a grill. If only I had known!

 

That’s okay. His steak might have had that char-grilled taste, but he and Frank are cheaters. Take a look at this:

Store bought marinade! Oh, the shame of it. Actually, I didn’t mind all that much. In my opinion, it gave Bobby and I the advantage. Not too shabby for oven cooked steak

 

And here is the lineup of judges

 

So who won you ask? ME! Yay, I beat out all the guys!

Tijuana: III

Bobby: II

Chris/Frank: I

Frank/Chris: 0

Chris and Frank brought two steaks. I don’t know which belonged to whom. It doesn’t matter. Homemade marinades rule! Next time I think we should all buy the same cut of meat. It really does affect things.


It’s not raining in Seattle

It’s raining. It’s been raining what seems like all week. But by my count that has technically only been two days, so I can’t really complain. I don’t mind a little wet weather anyway. Plus, gloomy days are perfect for pulling out the crock pot. Mmm hmmm.

Not too long ago Timeline activated on my FB (I held out as long as possible) and now I’m free to spend my days pinning away until the school year starts (finally got my TB screening squared away and am submitting the final bits of my application on Thursday- because that’s when they’ll do my fingerprinting). Needless to say, I’ve probably compiled enough recipes to last me the rest of 2012. One of those recipes is crock pot chicken and dumplings. Yummm! What a day for a good bowl of chicken and dumplings. Oh yeah, and I don’t have to do any work. Throw it in the pot, place a lid on it, and go finish your Supernatural marathon. Summers are great for marathons, aren’t they? Any excuse to drool over Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padaleki). To this day, I’m not sure which brother I would choose. Sweet, sensitive Sam who seems to have certain demonic connections with outbursts of rage and violence. Or gruff, wisecracking Dean who keeps his vulnerable side on lock down, always the tough guy, always the protector. Oh, the choices! Guess I’ll just have to take both, please. I’ve seen most of the later episodes by chance, but now am working my way season by season.

Yup, sci-fi/fantasy geek here! I don’t deny it. And I can’t wait to finish off the second season with a steamy bowl of goodness. Yeah man! This is my first time making chicken and dumplings on my own. The last time I tried to make a soup with dumplings…it turned into a pot of goop. There are a few reasons for that and I won’t go into detail, but I have complete confidence this time things will fly smooth. Being armed with a recipe from this lovely blog helps, I’m sure. Thanks Polish the Stars! Oh Pinterest, I can already see a good thing turning evil…

Recipe adapted from Megan

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can peas
  • 1 can refrigerator biscuits
  • Pepper

Lightly pepper your chicken breasts and place them in your nifty handy dandy crock pot/slow cooker/whatever you wanna call it! I decided salt was not necessary. The cream of chicken smells salty enough in my opinion anyway

Go ahead and toss your two tablespoons of butter on top of the chicken. I didn’t bother cutting it up. No biggie

Now the wet ingredients! Pour the two cans of cream of chicken soup and the one can of chicken broth into the crock pot.  At first, I had my doubts about how much soup I’d get out of all this. Silly me. I’m pretty sure three cans is sufficient for a home of only two

 

Mmm looks appetizing

That’s it! Place a lid on the whole shebang and cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8). Since I started so late we are taking the high route. I do tend to take my time, don’t I? Guess I should start pinning earlier in my day. By the way, no need to stir everything together. This is one of those things in life that can let itself go (hehe). After the prescribed time, it’s time for some added magic. Shred the chicken then put it back in the crock

Add the peas. We add them late so they don’t get too mushy. That’s my excuse anyway

Now for the dumplings! Take four of your flaky biscuits and cut them into little pieces. Drop them into the soup (or is it considered a stew?)  and cook for another half hour or until the biscuits are cooked

Voila! Dinner is served

Not too bad for a first attempt, though I do feel as those the dumplings were a little too doughy. Next time I might try a different approach.

I’m beginning to turn sweet on my crock pot. Last night I made a lovely Dijon pork in the crock pot that I’ll have to share later. Very flavorful. Another Pinterest discovery. I’m telling you, I see and addiction in the near future. I also found a bunch of freezer slow cooker meals. I’m thinking about whipping a few of those up this week. Quick and easy! Just remove from freezer, empty into pot, and a few hours later a full meal is served with no mess. Ingenious!

I still need to update everyone on Saturdays cook-off!


Crafting after a long weekend

Today I decided I wanted to get crafty. My project of choice? Corona Glasses– or rather, Bud Light Lime and Platinum glasses. After all, living in a house where friends are sure to swing by over the weekend and knock a few back gave me plenty of bottles to experiment with. Good thing these guys like to keep it classy (otherwise I’d be stuck with a bunch of cans)

Anyway, I gathered up my supplies from around the house (yarn and fingernail polish remover) then went outside to dig up some bottles out of the recycling. I was REALLY excited to be trying this out. The boyfriend caught my enthusiasm, too. I mean, how awesome would it be to have beer bottle glasses? Especially since I would be making them myself. So cool!

So, I braided my yarn

Soaked it in fingernail polish remover

Then I slid it over my beer bottle

And lit that baby on FIRE!

I rotated the bottle for 30 seconds before submerging it into an ice bath. But I just could not get a clean cut

That’s okay. I have plenty of bottles to experiment with. I think part of the problem is my ice water wasn’t cold enough. I also read it’s better to use remover without acetone. One review said to rotate the bottle over a candle flame. Looks like  I’ll have plenty of ways to keep my hands tied for a bit. I’ll produce a nice glass by the end of the week! What a nifty idea. Great for parties, I’m sure


Rushmore

Last night we had an oyster roast

Actually, it turned into a clam bake because apparently the oysters at the market weren’t tagged and therefore could not be sold. That was okay with me. I much prefer clams anyway and these little babies were nice and salty. I didn’t even add butter to mine that’s how good they were

Yum! Truth be told, I had never attended an oyster roast or clam bake before. Truth be told, the only shell fish I’ve ever actually chowed down on before is crab and shrimp. The last time I had oysters was a nasty experience. They were raw and cold and slimy and I think I got three down before pushing the platter as far away from me as possible. But I was excited nonetheless. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited for something called an Oyster Roast? Come on! Plus, some family members of the boyfriend were coming into town from Pennsylvania, which obviously gave us cause for celebration. And did we celebrate. I don’t think I’ve felt so stuffed since Christmas. It was a feast of oysters, clams, marinated shrimp, Napa salad, asparagus, cheesy potatoes. I don’t know if I even want to get into dessert- ahem cheesecake, chocolate covered strawberries, and peanut butter cups!

Boy, was it a great dinner!

The oysters came in a bad with ice

Then were popped onto the grill. So simple

Then came the clams. There was a pretty serious wager on how many clams came in that bag

These are some of the boys counting them up

There were 98. I lost

But I still got to eat them so didn’t bother worrying about it!

I did use butter for the oysters, which were from the James River

Hmm, oysters or clams, oyster or clams…I think the clams just look more appetizing in general

Ahh, an after dinner cocktail: Sweet tea vodka, raspberry lemonade powder, water, and a lemon twist. So much better than it sounds!


Pinterest and timeline finally got me!

Back in June I wrote a post in regards to my favorite food. If memory serves, I went on about how impossible it is to choose a favorite food, especially if you are a devout foodie, love to eat, and love to cook. But here recently, I’ve start to change my mind about this favorite food embroilment. It all started with a craving, as most things in life do. We had already eaten dinner that night. I shouldn’t have been hungry, not at all, and yet it would seem that my tummy was having quite the rumble. I tried to resist. I checked my email. I browsed through blogs. I chatted on Facebook. All this with the hope of forgetting my hunger.

But she had other plans. Finally, with a touch of reluctance and a bit of excitement, I pulled the bread down and grabbed the provolone and cheddar from the crisper in the fridge. I really, really wanted a grilled cheese, though for the life of me I don’t know why. Cravings. But I didn’t want just any grilled cheese. I wanted something satisfying, something that would allow me to sit down and enjoy the rest of my night. So I went to the garden, gathered a couple golden tomatoes, and returned to the house. Inside, I sliced those tomatoes as thin as my knife would allow, snacking on too-big slices (which tasted as glorious as sunshine), and arranged the thinner slices along with my two types of cheese across my bread. On a whim, I dusted everything with pepper and oregano before popping the whole shebang into the toaster oven.

Then I waited. And I waited some more. Before the crust turned black, I took my prize out of that toaster oven and ate it. If those tomatoes, freshly picked, tasted like sunshine, they transformed my sandwich into the best kind of ambrosia and I’m going to go off and live an immortal life in Olympus. Between the tomatoes and the oregano along with the cheese, I could have died a very happy person thanks to a very simple thing: a grilled cheese sandwich.

And you know what? I’ve always been partial to a good sandwich anyway. So perhaps that is my favorite food. If I absolutely without a doubt had to choose because my life depended on it.

The pictures are $%*&, but that’s okay. One day I will have a fancy camera!

 

 

So simple yet so awe inspiring. I’m pretty sure I could eat something like this everyday for lunch