Monday, February 23, 2009

...Build Me Up...

This was tonight's dinner. The flavors, especially the sauce, were not what we were used to, and turned out to be really yummy. The combination of the chili powder in the sauce and the rotel in the filling added spiciness at the beginning of each bite, and heat at the end. Obviously, I made enough to eat some for lunch the rest of this week.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 can Corn
1 can Rotell
1/2 chopped Red Onion
Cumin Powder
Paprika Powder
Garlic Powder
Shredded Cheese (I use 4-cheese Mexican blend)
8 Tortillas
Sour Cream

Mix together small amounts (that's precision) of cumin, paprika, and garlic powder. Rub into both sides of each chicken breast. Heat Olive Oil in skillet; cook chicken 3 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Put chicken aside. In same skillet, saute onion until soft. Add corn and rotell and allow to simmer 2 minutes. While simmering, shred chicken with a fork and add to skillet. Stir together well, cover and allow to simmer while making rice and sauce.

1 cup long grain White Rice
2 cup Water
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 chopped Red Onion
2 cups Chicken Broth
3 tbsp unseasoned Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder

Place rice in a bowl with 1 cup water. Allow to soak for 2 minutes. While soaking, heat olive oil in pan and saute onion until soft. Drain rice well; add to onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add remaining water and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic, paprika, and cumin. Add tomato sauce and stir well. Let boil uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the pan.

2 cups Chicken Broth
4 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
2 tsp Garlic Powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1 pinch Cinnamon
1/3 tsp Sugar
5 tbsp Cold Water
5 tbsp Flour

Combine chicken broth, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, cinnamon, and sugar. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook 3 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cold water to a bowl; whisk in flour slowly, breaking up all lumps. Turn heat up to high and slowly whisk in flour mixture. Continue to whisk for 1 minute.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Warm tortillas in microwave to make flexible. Spoon small amount of sauce onto center of tortilla. Add some of chicken mixture. Fold in both sides of tortilla and roll up tightly. Place seam side down in large baking dish. Continue until all tortillas are filled and dish is full. Spread remaining sauce on top and cover with shredded cheese. Bake at 325 degrees until cheese is melted. Serve over rice and top with sour cream.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dancing on a Weeknight

Etown Concrete at Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ, with Jenna, Swanny, & Ira. Once again, we met up with Ira's friends Cheryl and Billy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Walk On By

Once again, I am planning to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. The walk will take place in and around New York City on October 10 & 11, and will cover 39 miles. I was unable to participate in the Walk last year because it was on the same weekend as my wedding, which makes me that much more excited to get out there this year!

In the coming months, I will be keeping you updated regarding my training and fundraising. If anyone would like to participate in the Walk with me, please visit to sign up!

In 2007, I was able to raise over $2200 for this cause, so I have increased my personal goal for this year to $2500. In these difficult economic times, I understand that money is extremely tight. Even the smallest donation contributes to my goal, and furthers the fight against breast cancer! Please visit my page to make an online donation, or contact me for information on other payment methods.

Thank you for all of your support!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...Cob Pipe and a Button Nose...


1-1/3 Cup Coarse Yellow Stone Ground Corn Meal
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/4 Cup Granular Sugar
3/4 Tsp Coarse Kosher Salt
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp Buttermilk
9 Tbsp Melted Unsalted Butter
1 Egg + 1 Egg Yolk Beat Together

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add wet ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Allow to stand 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 9" x 5" x 3" metal pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until edges brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes; turn out of pan and cool completely on rack.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

...See We're Together

Hmm, since wedding planning is over, I guess red can now be the color of family stuff.

On Saturday, Orion had to be at the groomer at 8:30. It was Valentine's Day, so I stopped at Walgreens on the way to pick up a little heart of candy for Mom. There was a larger tin of candy that was round instead of heart-shaped, so I picked that up for the staff at the Grooming Post in Waldwick. They're very nice people, and take good care of Orion, so I wished them all Happy Valentine's Day with some candy.

Next, it was over to Mom's house. Dad and Uncle Jack had gone to the Catskills for the weekend, and taken Indiana with them, so she was home alone with Casey. We hung around the house chatting for an hour or so, then headed over to Andy's Corner in Hawthorne for some breakfast. We were there for a long time, like always, and finally left when we saw people waiting in line for tables. Back at her house, we relaxed at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee for her and some glasses of water for me, then it was time to pick up Orion.

John, the owner of the Grooming Post, and I chatted about business for a while. They seem to be doing pretty well, as an established business that's been in Waldwick since 1989. I remember taking our Springer Spaniel Cindy there way back when, and all of our dogs have gone there since. Mom and Dad stopped using them when they moved out of town, but I've taken Orion and now Haley there continuously. Orion came out looking cute and smelling sweet, and I loaded him into the car and drove home.

Dave was hanging out with Haley on the couch, so I gave him a quick kiss and headed back out the door to pick up Melody for lunch. On the way up route 202 in Suffern, there was an accident that included a car knocking over a telephone pole, and the wires were hanging down over the street. Everyone seemed to be fine, and I stopped traffic to allow the ambulance to get through to treat them. I made note to try and remember to tell Aunt Marsha to avoid 202 if she was headed that way, since the pole would take a long time to fix.

The night before, I had made another batch of cornbread with the last of the buttermilk, figuring Aunt Marsha, Uncle Jack, and Melody might like to try it. Melody was getting ready to leave, so I had a few minutes to chat with Aunt Marsha about food and recipes, which is always fun. She was headed out to see her sister, so we parted ways in the driveway, and Melody & I made our way down to Mahwah for some lunch. Aunt Marsha had suggested Roxanne's, which was a great idea. We ordered a small pizza with smooth tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil, and then some eggplant and zucchini chips with cucumber yogurt dip. Everything was great, but the dip was a little bit salty. I wasn't used to eating all of this greasy food! It was fun chatting with Melody about her internship and life at Aunt Marsha and Uncle Jack's house.

Melody mentioned that she needed some kind of dish to bring for a potluck lunch at work on Tuesday, so after lunch we went back to my house for a quick look through the massive pile of cookbooks that I have. Melody likes our new house; just like everyone else, she says it feels rustic and cozy. I found an Asian noodle recipe that appealed to her in this huge vegetarian cookbook that I have, so we found something to mark the page with, and off we went. On the way back, Melody showed me the route she takes to get to the train station in Ramsey, which is where she parks her car for her commute to NYC every day. We talked about making dinner plans for the near future, and maybe going ice skating at Bear Mountain with Anna next weekend, then I dropped her off.

Dave and I have a tradition for Valentine's Day where we buy each other a DVD, then make dinner at home and just hang out on the couch watching the movie. He had sent me flowers at work the day before, so I stopped at Blockbuster in Tallman to pick out a movie. There were two there that he wanted to see, so I bought them both: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Zack & Miri Make a Porno. They also had August Rush, which I had seen the first half of at Mom's house one day, so I picked that one up for myself. Next, I stopped at CVS for a gift bag and a card. They had a great card that talked about how much we love doing things together, including cooking, so I got that one. He was very surprised that I found one that represented us so well.

We were lazy and had both eaten lunch late, so we ended up getting a pizza and bread sticks from Pizza Hut, something that I don't think we'd EVER done before, at around 9pm. It was a full day of greasy junk food! Haha.

...My Dance In The...

Pete asked me to take a look at his taxes on Thursday night, so I made dinner for us. I also invited Rick over, so it ended up being a nice meal for the four of us. I had some Gorgonzola cheese in the house, so I followed this recipe for the chicken:

Chicken Gorgonzola Roulades

I had a few minutes to waste before beginning to cook, and there was still buttermilk in the house from dinner a couple of nights before, so I made up another quick batch of corn bread. I'll have to post the recipe when I get home. It's so easy, and doesn't take long at all, but everyone that has eaten it thought it was great. Dad said it reminded him of the corn bread that Nana used to make all the time when he was growing up.

Excluding the corn bread, which takes 75 minutes exactly (5 minutes to measure and mix ingredients, 30 minutes to sit, then 40 minutes to bake), the entire meal took 35 minutes to prepare and cook. For the sauce, I threw everything in a food processor for a few seconds, then just poured it in a pot and heated it through. I also made Risotto, and for that Rick was my helper, handing me measured cups of wine and chicken broth while we chatted.

I put a scoop of Risotto on each plate, a piece of chicken on top, and ladled a little sauce over everything. I removed the toothpicks from the chicken, but I didn't slice it as the recipe had said, just left the pieces whole. Overall, the meal turned out well; the guys thought the Spicy Roasted Pepper sauce was excellent, and Dave wants me to make it again.

I only had six chicken breasts for the four of us, three of which were big guys with large appetites, so I also made some peas with roasted garlic. In the end, only Pete ate two pieces of chicken, and we had one piece left over. None of us even touched the peas. The risotto was very filling, and everyone felt stuffed quickly.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

After a recommendation from Jenna, I tried a can of Campbell's Select Harvest Light soup. It sounds too good to be true, but each can is only 100-180 calories! There are about two servings in a can, with 50-80 calories per serving, and no fat. The sodium is rather high, but since I eat fresh meats and vegetables the rest of the day, it's not too bad.

The soup is complete, not condensed, and yummy! The broth is cloudy and there is a lot of it, with not much as far as the rest of what makes up soup: vegetables, chicken, beans, pasta, etc. However, an entire bowl is a large amount of liquid, and it fills me up for hours! So far, I have tried four of the recipes that they offer. The Vegetable and Pasta flavor was just ok, but the Southwestern Vegetable and Italian Style Vegetable were very good. The other flavor I tried was a Savory Chicken with Vegetables, which was not very good. The entire can contained only four pieces of chicken, and after gnawing through one rock-hard cube, I picked the rest out.

Overall, I really like these soups, and they have become a staple of my work lunches. However, I recommend staying away from any type that has chicken in it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

School's Out Forever

Another one of those notes about me:
I would love to go back to school. If I did, it would be the culinary academy.
I really enjoy my job, but planning and prepping meals like the one mentioned in my last blog is more satisfying in a creative way. I love to work with my hands: chopping, measuring, mixing, etc. Cooking is probably my most artistic outlet, the only one where I can make things look and taste beautiful. Having grown up as an extremely picky eater, it amazes my family what I am willing to eat now, and the dishes I prepare generally include ingredients that I would never have eaten fifteen years ago.

I wish I had the drive and the funds to learn cooking as a craft. I feel as though I have a natural ability to put common ingredients together and make them taste new and original, but I lack the technique to make sauces always be the right thickness, or have meat be perfectly cooked every time. Cookbooks and the internet can only teach so much!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Can I Make It Up...

Last night was Mom's birthday, so I had her, Dad, and Pete over for dinner. Dave's family had planned his mother's birthday celebration for the same time, so he wasn't able to stay home with us. I decided to go all out with the meal, so this is what we had:
First Course:
Cubed Anjou Pears with crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese and Toasted Walnuts
paired with a white wine called Traminette from Arcadia Vineyard in the Finger Lakes of New York

Second Course:
Roasted Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Roasted Garlic, Dried Apricots, and Dried Cranberries
Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary
Green Beans in Walnut Oil with Toasted Walnuts
paired with 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel
All around, everything was perfect. I loved getting to use all of my serving dishes, pitchers, and decanters that I never get to use. I made everything from scratch, and the only issue was not being used to the oven in our new house, so the pork took about a half hour longer than I had planned for. No big deal! I had so much fun planning the menu, prepping, cooking and serving, and I didn't even mind the cleanup. I need to plan another dinner party soon!

Pete brought Mom's birthday cake, per her instructions: White Cake, Lemon Filling, Vanilla Icing, and Coconut; and I served espresso.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

...I'm Coming Home...

Definitely one of the coolest stories I've seen in a long time:

Boy Unwraps Solder Dad

...Hiding Behind the Words...

I recently filled out a note on Facebook that called for 25 random facts about me. It took me a while to decide what to write in the list, and it ended up being quite different from what I had expected when I started. Since these items must be important to me, or funny, I thought it would be fun to discuss each one. So, my reader(s), haha, can expect these over a whole bunch of blogs.

Since I was a kid, I've had three creative goals to complete in my lifetime:
write a novel, compose a ballet, and learn to play the violin.

When I was thirteen, someone gave me a blank journal for my birthday. I remember this birthday very well; 11 April fell on Easter that year, and Lori, my best friend from summer camp, was allowed to sleep over and spend the holiday with us. Lori was Jewish, so this was a whole new experience for her.

Anyway, so I received this blank journal. That night, I decided to try my hand at writing a poem, and I thought that it turned out pretty well. I submitted that poem to a contest, and it ended up being published in an anthology. Feeling more confident now, I also submitted that poem to a teen magazine, and it was published there as well. Rapid success inspired me, and throughout high school I wrote hundreds of poems, and had many of them published. This is something about me that just about no one knows, not even my family or my friends from high school. Most of what I wrote dealt with my home-life, and it wasn't exactly pleasant. I've never let the people close to me read my work, preferring only strangers to know my deepest thoughts.

I kept writing poetry through college, and branched out into short stories through some classes there. In the end, I graduated with a degree in Communications, concentrated in Creative Writing. Since then, I've barely written anything, other than this blog, of course. But I still have all of the journals that I filled over the years, and sometimes its great fun to go back and read them.

...Brown Eyes Blue...

Dave is on a ski trip to Hunter Mountain this weekend with a bunch of guys, so I'm home alone with the puppies. It's been a long time since I had nothing to do and could just hang out on the couch for a while. When flipping through the channels this morning, I came accross Blade and decided to look up Stephen Dorff online to find the answer to some random question. I found this funny video making fun of his role in Brittany Spears video for "Everytime":