Thursday, October 14, 2010

...You're So Filthy

Last night's dinner was taken almost directly from The 150 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough & Molly Stevens. I really can't remember where this cookbook came from, but I've had it for quite some time, and never actually made any of the recipes out of it. It turns out that neither Dave nor I had ever eaten a sloppy joe before, so we really didn't know what to expect. In the end, we liked them quite a bit!

Dave loves Tater Tots, but I never make them, so this was a very rare treat.

The only changes made to the original recipe are:
olive oil instead of vegetable oil

1 lb of ground turkey instead of 1.3 lbs - my grocery store only sells prepackaged ground turkey from brands like Shadybrook Farms and Butterball, which are always exactly 1 lb.

28 oz can of ground tomatoes instead of crushed - Not much of a difference, but there is a difference! Crushed tomatoes are mixed with some amount of tomato paste, so the solids to liquid ratio is different. Somehow, I misread the recipe when I was making my shopping list and thought it said diced tomatoes, which I always have in the pantry. When I noticed my error, I figured it would just make a chunkier joe. As it turns out, I didn't actually have any diced tomatoes anyway! Luckily, I found a large can of ground tomatoes tucked in the back of the cabinet. They were given to me in a very cute gift basket that included pasta makings and a huge stockpot. Um, at my bridal shower in September of 2008...

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Mmmm. Love that smell!
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 lb ground Turkey
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tbsp ground Cumin
1 cup Dry Red Wine
1 28-oz can ground or crushed Tomatoes
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Molasses
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
6 Kaiser or Portuguese Rolls
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or chef's pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey and salt and mix well. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Mix in the cumin and cook for an additional 1 minute.

Add the red wine and reduce by 3/4. Pour in the tomatoes, stir well, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and vinegar, stir well, and cook for 2 more minutes to blend the flavors. 

To serve, toast the rolls, split them, and top with cheddar cheese. Spoon on the sloppy joe mixture and serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Arriving at the tent city Saturday night, Avon Walk NYC 2009
I <3 nipple rings. Yup, I'm a tattooed, pierced freak. Most of my clothing is black, and some has skulls on it. I listen to music that is more about distortion and screaming than anything else. This is the 3rd year that I'm doing the Avon Walk in NYC, and I've raised over $9,000 combined. Because I love my nipple rings, and I never want to give them up.

Hear Me Squawk

Last night's dinner was super-yummy, and really quick. I had it on the table in 20 minutes or so. For a healthier version, check out the link to make your own taco seasoning. Adding some chopped peppers with the onion would be great, too.

Quick Chicken & Black Bean Tacos
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb Boneless chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 can Rotell
1 can black beans
1 packet taco seasoning (we use Old El Paso) or Make Your Own
1/2 cup chicken broth

Serve with:
Tortillas - I had soft taco size flour tortillas, but whatever size you prefer, corn or flour.
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Sour cream

Heat oil in large saute or chef's pan until it shimmers (make sure to swirl oil to coat entire pan). Carefully trim the chicken breasts, place them in the pan, and cover. Cook for four minutes on each side, or until juices run clear (thicker breasts may take longer). Remove to cutting board and allow to cool. Shred with fork.

Add onion to the same pan and cook for four minutes, stirring often. Add Rotell and beans and cook for two more minutes. Add chicken, seasoning, and broth, and stir carefully and thoroughly to mix. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for at least five minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve with warm tortillas, sour cream, and cheese, and everyone can make their own tacos! :-) As always, the leftovers are great for lunch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...With a Little Help From...

How about a nice list of my favorite blogs that I follow? Feel free to comment with yours...

Lots of yummy recipes. All over the map in terms of subject, source, and occasion. Updated often.

Excellent recipes for everyday, and for company. Fabulous pics to go with everything.

Lovely tales of knitting, crafts, food, and family.

A man's mission to give away $10 per day for an entire year.

Making it work on a shoestring budget.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Empire of Dirt

Well, every great meal must have it's opposite, so here is my most recent tale of woe.

Recently, a new friend heard from others that I really enjoy cooking, and asked me to invite her over for a meal. I jumped at the chance, and asked what her favorite meal was, glad to try something new. It turns out that she is a big fan of Shepherd's Pie, so I decided to do a trial run for Dave and I before having a guest eat something I had never tried before. Given the outcome, I'm very glad that I did it this way, instead of just winging it for guests like I usually do.

Since Shepherd's Pie can be rather complicated to put together, I chose to make it on a weeknight when my soccer game would be starting later, around 9pm. I was actually able to find the ground lamb that it called for at my usual grocery store, and was very excited to get started. (Here is the recipe I began with:

First, I peeled and cut up my potatoes, putting them in water to boil. Then I put together the filling, chopping and browning and simmering. Everything smelled wonderful! It turns out that I had forgot to buy corn, but I didn't think we'd miss it. I mashed the potatoes, and they were thicker than I was used to, but tasted great. Finally, after a little more than an hour of prep work, I spread the filling in an 11"x7" Pyrex baking dish, spread the potatoes on top, and placed it on a pan in the oven. For once, I was following the directions in the recipe precisely. With approximately 10 minutes left to bake, I heard an odd noise come from the oven. When I opened the door, I discovered that the baking dish had shattered, filling the bottom of my oven with glass.

Needless to say, I was quite upset. I had wasted an hour and a half of my time, and had no dinner to show for it. To top it off, now I had to wash all of the dishes and pans that I had used! Dave hugged me and sympathized, offering to clean up, but I felt that I had to take care of my own mess. He quietly dried the dishes, while I washed and cried into the sink. Then he picked up some pizza, but I just didn't feel like eating anymore. The pans hadn't cooled off by the time I left for my game, so Dave was nice enough to clean out the oven. I definitely got out some aggression on the soccer field that night!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Am I Still Your Charm...

Today is Dave and my second wedding anniversary. To say the time has flown would be a vast understatement. Dave came up with a fun plan for Saturday to celebrate. We took the train in to New York City and went to the Museum of Natural History, then wandered through Central Park and over to the Met, where we spent hours walking around. Then we hopped the subway back down towards Times Square for a yummy (& cheap-ish) dinner at a cute Italian restaurant. Such a good time. There was skipping.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yum Yum Gimme Some

Three Cheese Sausage Manicotti

1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage, bulk or casings removed (I can usually only find Premio)
3 tsp Olive Oil
18 Manicotti shells (I could only find Ronzoni brand - 1-1/2 boxes)
2 lbs Ricotta cheese, whole milk
3 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
4 cups Tomato Sauce (I use Tuttorosso Tomato & Basil because it's cheap and Dave loves it - 1-1/2 jars)

Put large stockpot of salted water on to boil. Heat large, heavy pan over high heat. Add sausage in small chunks and brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Brush large baking sheet with 1 tsp olive oil. Carefully place manicotti in boiling water, stir gently, and cook for 4-6 minutes, until they begin to soften but are still quite firm. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon, and spread out on baking sheet to cool.

While manicotti are cooling, combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, and sausage in a large bowl. Brush 13" x 9" x 2" D baking pan with 2 tsp Olive Oil. Spread 2 cups tomato sauce on bottom of pan.

Carefully stuff manicotti shells with filling, and place them in the pan. Spread 2 cups tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

If making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling at the edges.

This was enough for 4 people, most of which were big eaters, with 3 manicotti leftover for lunch split between me and my boss the next day. I would probably be comfortable serving this to 6 people.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In the Morning, In the Evening...

It seems like we have Sausage and Peppers a lot over here! It's something that I know Dave loves, and it's always so easy to make. We've been so busy lately that it's been hard to make anything worthwhile for dinner.

Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes

4 large Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 Yellow Onion, halved and sliced
4 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into strips
1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage, sliced into 3/4" chunks
Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes, onion, olive oil, and salt & pepper together until well coated. Place in baking pan large enough for one layer without severe crowding. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover, mix in peppers, sausage, and basil. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring once, until sausage is well browned. (If using an instant read thermometer, internal temp must be at least 160 degrees.) Serve hot!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do You Think We Can Pick Up...

Just got back from our annual trip to the DSM Shootout. Basically, hundreds of people that are all into a specific kind of car get together in northern Ohio for a weekend of racing, drinking, and overall misbehavior. Some of our regulars weren't able to make it this year due to work obligations, and one friend had to back out at the absolute last minute due to illness. We didn't manage to find a tow vehicle until 4 days before the event, and had to have it fitted with a tow hitch before it was usable. Plus, I had a soccer tournament the Saturday before, and played a game or practice every night after that. The week was chaotic, to say the least.

We arranged to meet at 7:30am near our house, to get started on the long drive at a reasonable hour. Dave, Ira, and I were at the parking lot at 7, loading the 4g63-powered Challenger onto a rented trailer. I texted the other guys at 7:25, just to make sure everyone was awake. At 7:45, Cory let me know that Derek had just woken up and was on his way. They finally met up with us around 8:30, and then we found out that they had all stopped for breakfast together on the way! We didn't let any of this phase us, just hopped in the trucks and got down to business. We only stopped once along the way, for gas and lunch, and managed to do the whole trip in 8-1/2 hours.

As soon as we arrived, Dave pulled the Challenger off the trailer, Ira stuck the trailer in a back parking lot, and I walked around collecting our money for rooms. Every year, the three hotels that all of the attendees stay at inflate their prices for the one weekend. Since we're still staying at an Econolodge, though, the prices end up still being pretty cheap per person. Our friends from previous years, primarily from Wisconsin, plus a bunch of new people that they'd brought with them, were already spread out on the neighboring lawn, drinking and grilling. We settled into our rooms, bringing out the fold up chairs and BMX bicycles that we always carry with us. Ira found a mailbox on a post in the bed of the borrowed truck, and managed to affix it to the drainpipe next to our rooms. We always make it easy to find us!

Everyone relaxed together like we had never left, comparing stories from the past 12 months as we watched more and more people arrive. Later on, we loaded in to the trucks and made a run up to Steak & Shake for some dinner, stopping on the way back for a lot of alcohol. While we were gone, the sun had gone down, and people had started to get a bit wild. Friday night is usually pretty calm, since most people don't arrive until Saturday, but not this year. All three of the hotels were packed, and the Econolodge seemed to be overflowing. As always, there were beer pong tables on the grass and foot races in the parking lot, with the occasional burnout thrown in. The last of our friends from Wisconsin showed up around 3am, and I went to bed not long after that.

At 6am, I was awakened by a loud banging on our door. Dave and Ira didn't move, so I got up to find out who it was. I checked the peep-hole, but couldn't see anyone there. So, stupidly, I opened the door...and found Matt! He had suddenly been able to take Saturday off, so had left immediately following work the night before, and had arrived not long after I went to sleep. Ira had posted a picture of the mailbox on Facebook, so Matt knew which room was ours immediately. He said that he had banged on our door a few different times, but nobody had answered. I'm not sure why he didn't just call one of our cell phones. I was so happy to see him; I gave him a big hug...and then went right back to bed, haha.

After another hour of sleep, Dave woke me up with a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant and orange juice from Burger King next door. Mmmm, the only time the whole year that we would ever eat fast food for breakfast! Dave and Ira were dressed long before Matt and I, so they headed over to the car show, and we followed a bit behind. The rest of the guys were still sleeping, as expected. The car show is about twenty minutes away in a teeny tiny, one-traffic light town called Wakeman, OH. The shop that puts on the event holds an open house, complete with car show, refreshment vendors, and a dyno competition. They actually shut down the main street in the town, and let us take over. It was incredibly hot and sunny, so after a quick lap around the grounds to look at anything interesting, I settled in next to the Challenger and relaxed. Between a chair in the sun, some grass in the shade, and a giant fresh lemonade, I was all set. Throughout the day, we ran into pretty much everyone that we knew, and made some new friends that we would meet up with at the hotel later on. Dave's friend Mike and his wife Krysti arrived from Cincinnati early in the afternoon. The remaining NY crew showed up from the hotel, but by then we were all dripping in sweat and ready to head back.

It felt late when we got to the hotel, but it was only around 2:30pm. Everybody crashed, most of us even taking naps. I didn't get any sleep, but it was nice to just lay around for a little while. I spent a few hours chatting with the Wisconsin guys, and ate some awesome Oreo ice cream with Cory. Around 7, everyone finally got up, and Cory, Krister, Scott, Derek, and I went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. According to Dave, things got pretty out of hand while we were gone, including Ira doing burnouts in our borrowed tow vehicle, and a silver Evo flying by on the main street doing over 100 mph, with two cops following much more slowly behind. From what we hear, the guy wasn't caught, and nobody seems to know who he was. The police then pulled over every single silver Evo they saw for the rest of the weekend, which was quite a few, given the event we were there for. The parking lot was completely packed when we came back from dinner, including the upaved areas behind the hotel, and the lots next door. We squeezed into a small empty area, and jumped right into the mayhem. Low points (or highlights, depending on your perspective) of the night included: a footrace that ended in roadrash, some scary guy bringing over a stripper, shooting everything (including people) with the pellet gun, somebody with a taser?!, drinking 2 bottles of Arbor Mist Sangria, and a guy with a penis on his shirt that looked like it was realistically sticking up out of his pants. I was exhausted and had to get up early for the track, and went to bed around 2am. At 2:30, Cory sent me a text message that they were putting someone's wave-runner in the swimming pool. I didn't get up, figuring there would be a video in the morning, and I was right.

We made it over to the track in the morning not long after the gates opened. Dave was able to get into the staging lanes quite early, did an incredible burnout, and then couldn't build any boost on the line. He drove the car out pretty slowly, and I thought I heard him hit the rev limiter between first and second gears. Back in the pits, it turns out that the car was breaking up past 6k rpms. After checking every possible option, including unmounting the MSD ignition system to check its setup, I discovered that the tach was actually incorrect. It was reading 6k when it was really at 8k, and the sound I heard before the shift really had been the rev limiter. Armed with this new information, he took the car out for another pass, only to find that he still couldn't rev past 3k rpms on the line, so couldn't build any boost. At this point, both passes were in the 13.50 range. Frustrated that the newly refurbished converter had a problem again (the same problem that kept the car out of the race last year), Dave decided to run the car in the slow bracket class just to keep running. He was probably the only 500+ hp car there running in the 13 second and slower class, haha. The first car he competed against broke out, so he made it past the first round, but lost on the second race. At least the day was salvaged by some fun, and the car was still running and driving fine, it just couldn't launch.

Sweaty, dirty, and tired, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and then on to Red Lobster for our traditional Sunday night-end of the trip-Dave's birthday dinner. As always, I ate more that night than I do at any other meal the entire year, since it's the only time we ever go to that restaurant. Some of the guys were getting rather cranky with each other, after a few long days spent together. Most people leave right after the event, so only a couple of small groups were at the hotel when we got back. Matt and Krister packed up and started driving home, since Matt had to be at work Monday morning. Ira went to bed right away, and was followed pretty quickly by Dave. The rest of the group sat around with the Wisconsin and New England guys, waiting for some waitresses from Red Lobster that meet up with us every year. Not long after they arrived and started playing drinking games, I headed to bed, too.

The drive home was pretty much uneventful, and we made it with about a half hour to spare returning the trailer. Then it was off to Mom & Dad's house for birthday cake and presents, and to pick up the dogs. As always, we had an absolute blast on the trip, and have tons of stories to tell, most of which no one else will understand! :-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...When You Know Who You Are

Last night's dinner was similar to something I've made before (Things Can Get a Little...), but it was even better! I think it's even more spicy when reheated.

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
Meets Mexican Rice

1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage, bulk or links with casings removed
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 can Rotell
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 packet Goya Sazon
1 cup medium grain Rice

Tear the sausage into small pieces, place in large skillet with cover or chef's pan, and cook until brown. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve. Add onion to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add peppers and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in Rotell and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and sazon and stir well. Stir in rice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes without removing cover. Stir and cook 5 more minutes or until rice is ready.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Same Old Situation...

Monday night, I used up the last of a bulk pack of pork chops. I think it was 10 of them for $10, and I split them into pairs and froze them. These last two were over an inch thick, and I only had time to pan-sear them, so I was getting nervous that they were way too crunchy on the outside while waiting to get the centers cooked. They ended up being beautifully done and juicy! We hadn't had risotto in a while, and I try to force green beans on Dave at least once a month. He'll eat them, he just doesn't really like them.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops in Sweet Balsamic Glaze
Tomato-Red Onion Risotto
and Green Beans

2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tbsp Butter
1/2 Red Onion, diced
1 medium Tomato, cored and diced
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups Chicken broth (I only use Swanson - 100% fat free, Low Sodium, No MSG)

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts. Add the onion and tomato, and stir together quickly. Allow to cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place 1 cup chicken broth in a small pan and heat to simmer. Add rice to the vegetables and stir together, allowing to cook for one minute. Make sure the rice doesn't brown! Stir in one cup of broth and keep at low boil until most broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, place another 1 cup in small pan to simmer. Add the second cup of broth and stir, again keeping at low boil until most broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. While this is happening, put last 1 cup broth in small pan to simmer. When ready, stir in final cup of broth. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until most liquid is absorbed. Risotto should be slightly firm, but creamy. Place in serving bowl and allow to stand 1 minute before serving.
Tip: Risotto retains a lot of heat. If it is finished before the rest of the meal, leave it covered in the serving bowl for 5 minutes or so, and it will still be piping hot when served.

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 pork chops, trimmed

Salt & Pepper
1/4 Red Onion, small dice
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbsp Brown Sugar

Heat olive oil in frying pan. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. Place pork chops in pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. (Mine took much longer because they were so thick.) Remove and keep warm. Add red onion to pan juices and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Carefully stir in vinegar and sugar, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over pork chops and serve immediately.
Tip: I drizzled some of the balsamic glaze on the green beans, and my husband actually ate more than his usual three pieces!

To make the green beans, trim fresh beans, or buy bagged pre-washed and trimmed beans. Boil water in a large pot. Add beans and cook at boiling for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep them a nice bright green. Serve!
Tip: Put the green beans water on to boil first, then start the risotto. Put the beans in to cook when you start the balsamic glaze.

Mmmmm...leftovers for lunch!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

They're Good Fine People...

A few weeks ago, I reached a glorious milestone in every woman's life: I turned thirty. Though I don't really feel like my body or activities reflect my age, it is still not something that I was excited about. Dave planned a little family party at our house, complete with a make-your-own taco bar, and I made some yummy sangria. To my surprise, my aunts and uncles brought presents! I really wasn't expecting that. Anyway, one of the gifts was a card for Chef Central, so I bought myself a Dutch Oven. I've been wanting one for a while, but they are just so expensive. A Lodge enameled cast iron 6-quart dutch oven was on sale, and it was perfect for the beef stew I planned to make last night. With my parents in the Catskills, I actually had enough time to plan and execute a slow-cooked meal on a Saturday. Prepared stew meat had been on sale a few weeks prior, so it was already in my freezer.

Beef Stew

1 lb Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 small can Peas, drained
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Beef Broth
1/4 tsp Dried Orange Peel
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1/4 tsp Dried Bay Leaf
2 tbsp fresh Parsley for garnish

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven. Dredge half of the beef through the flour, coating all sides, and shake off excess. Cook beef, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a bowl, and brown the other half of the beef. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and carrots, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in tomatoes, including any liquid, and add Peas. Add wine, broth and spices, stir well, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2-hours or so, until beef is very tender. Remove beef with slotted spoon, raise heat to high, and boil sauce for ten minutes. Stir beef back in, and ladle into bowls. Serve with bread or biscuits.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Put On Your White Sombrero...

I had a package of ground turkey that had been hanging out in my freezer for a little while, so we had Turkey Tacos for dinner last night. We always use the Soft Taco Dinner Kit from Old El Paso, but after last night, that may have to change.
Tacos are so easy! Brown the ground turkey, stir in 2/3 cup water and the seasoning packet, cook until the sauce thickens, and you're ready! Sometimes, I season the meat myself with cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. We put out bowls of shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and taco sauce (also comes in the kit), and just put together our own tacos.

Unfortunately, it seems that Old El Paso recently changed their product. The tortillas were completely different from what we were used to; too thin and almost crispy, they wouldn't hold together! They didn't taste the same, and the seasoning seemed different as well. We've never been disappointed before, but we'll only give them one more try before changing to a different brand.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'll Go Find the Welcome Mat...

Even though I had an 8:45 soccer game last night, I invited my friend John over to have dinner with Dave and me. The meal I had planned sounded so good that I just wanted to share it with someone else! There was a small amount of potatoes and chicken leftover, and it was just as yummy for lunch today.

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Red Potatoes
and Asparagus Parmesan

1.5 lbs Baby Red Potatoes, halved and quartered
2 tbsp Olive Oil (I use a decent Extra Virgin for pretty much everything. Love the taste!)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again. Spread potatoes skin side up on baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and stir potatoes. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring again halfway through.
I layered the potatoes on a large platter, and then poured the chicken and lemon sauce over top.

4 tbsp Butter (I used 2 tbsp salted and 2 tbsp sweet)
1/2 cup Dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay that someone had gifted us a while back)
1/2 cup Chicken broth
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
2 tbsp Lemon juice

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet. Add wine, broth, and thyme, and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, reduce heat medium, add chicken, and cover. Cook chicken until white on all sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and keep warm. Add lemon juice and return to a boil. Boil 5-10 minutes, until sauce is reduced to approx 3/4 cup. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining butter in small amounts, stirring continuously. Add chicken and heat through.
Tip: Do not just pour the chicken back into the pan; use a slotted spoon. Some liquid will have accumulated in the bowl, and this will thin out your sauce.

12 Asparagus spears, ends snapped off
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Shredded Parmesan (I used a shredded Parmesan & Romano blend...mmmm.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange spears on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Shake pan to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and shake pan again to distribute. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with cheese and bake another two minutes to melt.
Put the asparagus in the oven after you've removed the aluminum foil from the potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are on the bottom oven rack, and the asparagus is on the top. Remove the potatoes after the 20 minutes, and melt the cheese on the asparagus while you prepare the potato and chicken platter.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

...Go Chase Yourself...

After a long break from concerts, I went to see 30 Seconds to Mars with Matt, Tommy, and Judy. Overall, it was one of the worst shows I've ever been to. The opening acts were fine, sound was good, they just weren't bands I was into. 30 Seconds to Mars had sound issues from the start. There were problems with a drum mike at first, distorting the bass and adding static, then some lead vocal mike problems. Despite the issues, the first couple of songs were ok, with the band sounding tight and the vocals spot on - when Jared Leto was singing. He spent a lot of time having the crowd singing for him; not what I came to see. After that, it all went to hell. There were huge pauses, sometimes 5 minutes or more, where there was just nothing going on, and we all just stood around looking at each other. Multiple times, there would be a song started, or a verse sung, just to stop in the middle and move on to something else. People around me started leaving, and the ones who stayed were screaming things like, "Play anything, just play it all the way from start to finish!" I know he was sick, but I came to listen to him sing, not half-hear the crowd try.

Friday, March 19, 2010

All By Myself...

My husband had baseball practice right after work yesterday, and then they went to the batting cages, and then they had dinner together. I had all this energy when I got home from work, so I took the dogs for a walk, and then made a pot of soup with what I had in the house.

Summer Soup

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes (no salt added), drained

2 medium Zucchinis, quartered and sliced

1 can Pink Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can Chick Peas, drained, rinsed, and pureed

6 cups Broth (I used nonfat, low-sodium Chicken broth)

1 tbsp dried Basil

1/2 tsp dried Rosemary

1/2 tsp dried Oregano

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/4 tsp Kosher Salt or Sea Salt

1 cup Pasta (I used Tubettini) - optional

Heat the Olive Oil in a large stock pot. Add Onions and Garlic and cook until Onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep Garlic from browning. Stir in Tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Add Zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in all remaining ingredients except pasta, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add pasta and cook until soft. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese on each bowl.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things Can Get a Little....

This turned out fabulous! My husband loved it, and I'm really looking forward to the leftovers for lunch. I used a shortcut with the Goya Sazon. If you'd rather use spices, throw in some cumin, paprika, salt & pepper. Makes 4 servings.
Quick Arroz con Pollo

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 can Rotell (diced tomatoes with green chile peppers)

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup long grain rice

1 packet Goya Sazon

Heat olive oil in large, deep nonstick chef's pan or frying pan. Saute chicken until all pieces are white, about 7-8 minutes. (Chicken will get cooked again, so don't worry about it being completely done.) Remove chicken and set aside.
To same pan, add onion and garlic. Saute about 3 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Add pepper and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 more minutes. Add Rotell, tomato paste, broth, rice, and Goya Sazon. Stir well, then bring to a simmer. Cover lightly and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until rice is ready. Do not stir until the mixture has been cooking for 15 minutes, and then be careful to scrape all rice from the bottom of the pan. I served it with shredded Monterrey and Colby cheese to sprinkle, and a dot of sour cream.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

...You Been On My Mind

Well, since my last update, I haven't actually lost any weight. I haven't gained any, either. I guess maintenance isn't such a bad thing, right?

Over the past month, I've stepped up my workouts quite a bit. I'm playing soccer three nights a week, and one of those nights is for three different teams. It ends up being about 225 soccer minutes per week. I love indoor soccer; it's so small and close together that you sprint the whole time, instead of spreading out like on a 10 v 10 outdoor field.

Dave and I joined a gym about three weeks ago. I'm still getting my workouts sorted out, but right now I'm doing cardio (generally intervals on the stationary bike) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (depending on what night I have soccer), Saturday, and Sunday. Then I do a full body strength workout on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I do some legs and shoulders in every workout, but I alternate biceps/back and triceps/chest days.

In the past week, I've lost 1" from my waist!

In other news, Mom has been quite sick recently. A couple of months ago, her seizures began increasing in frequency, and it was decided that she shouldn't drive until they are under control. She has to be without any seizures for three months before she can drive again. She's been to all of her doctors, including the neurosurgeon that did her brain surgery ten years ago, and had every test imaginable, but none have revealed any cause for the seizures.

About three weeks ago, she was taken to the emergency room suffering from extremely low blood pressure. It turned out that she had a major kidney infection, a UTI, and was severely dehydrated. All of that, plus what appears to have been improper high blood pressure medication, caused some cardiac issues. She was admitted to intensive care, and the doctors spent a couple of days diagnosing and treating the infections, and working to maintain a healthy blood pressure level. She was moved out of the ICU when the blood pressure stabilized, but remained in the hospital for just over a week total.

Now she is home, feeling a bit better, but still very tired and week. Her primary doctor has told her not to go back to work until at least February 1st, and prescribed complete relaxation until then. Depending on how she feels next week, she will probably extend the time even longer and go on disability. She's going crazy being at home, with pretty much only Dad for company, but we keep trying to impress on her that being healthy has to be the priority. Since she hasn't been driving, I go down to her house on Saturdays, and take her out to run errands. I always try to work in lunch, as well, otherwise she might not eat anything all day. She claims that she's been eating much better while she's been out of work, so we'll see.