Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poppyseed Chicken and Poppyseed Bread

One of my newest favorite ingredients: Poppy seeds!
About a year ago, my grandma passed on an awesome recipe for poppy seed chicken, which Norris and I both love love love, and Norris probably ten times loves it actually.
Then, Marc's mom finally passed down the recipe of her famous poppyseed bread that I have been enjoying as long as we have known their family. I made it last weekend for the Fantasy draft thing at our house and it was awesome, so I was excited to have another excuse to make it this weekend (going to the lake for Labor Day weekend!)
Recipes: (oh, and they both only take about 10-20 minutes to put together!)

Poppy Seed Chicken
8 chicken breasts, baked or boiled, deboned, cut into bite-size pieces
1-1/2 C. sour cream
2 cans cream of chicken soup
40 Ritz crackers, crushed
6 T. butter, melted
2 T. poppy seeds
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix soup & sour cream, pour over chicken in 9 x 13 dish.
Mix crackers and poppy seeds with butter, sprinkle over chickenmixture.
Season with salt & pepper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (may take a little longer to heateverything)
**I use reduced sodium, reduced fat, and fat free versions of everything, a little less butter (I actually just crush the crackers, mix them with poppy seeds--more like 3 or 4 T, and spray some spray margarine on top rather than use the melted buter), and it turns out awesome! You can sub cream of mushroom for cream of chicken if that's all you have. Whatever you do, don't leave out the sour cream!!

Poppy Seed Bread (it's worth buying the ingredients that you probably don't already have in your kitchen!!!)
2 1/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 T poppy seeds
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t almond flavoring
3 c flour
1 c oil
1 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t butter flavoring

Mix sugar, oil, and eggs. Add flour, milk, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, vanilla, almond flavoring, and butter flavoring. Beat until smooth and pour into two greased and floured bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour (I find it done after about 50 minutes) or until the top is not runny. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then pour glaze over loaves and let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.

3/4 c sugar
1/4 c orange juice
1/2 t butter flavoring
1/2 t almond flavoring
1/2 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients well.
**It's best to make glaze first and to stir it frequently while bread is baking, but it also works to make it right before the bread comes out of the oven. Put it on 5 minutes after taking bread out, while bread is still in pan.

**My notes:
you can use skim milk for sure, and Splenda is a maybe (I am experimenting with the loaf in the oven right now)
I am going to use Splenda for the glaze part, and I used about 1/2 c Splenda and 1 3/4 c sugar in the bread. I don't particularly like to bake with Splenda personally. Probably because I'm not so hot at baking to start with, and that makes everything look and taste even worse, normally!!

Hope you enjoy these like I do! No pictures--didn't have time to photograph the last loaves and these are in the oven.
Time to go do laundry and pack so we can leave tomorrow after work for some relaxation at the lake. Have a great, SAFE Labor Day weekend!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm a real professional teacher!!

I am so excited! I feel that, although I already graduated college, I am basically graduating again, since I am a real live professional teacher--no more of that conditional license stuff!
I got this in the mail today in an envelope that says "do not bend" on it, and the envelope was kind of crumpled up and definitely bent, which meant my license was the same. Awesome, state department of ed!
Anyway, I guess it's time to start working on recertification now:) This expires on 5/9/14!
First day of school tomorrow. I'm excited! We'll see how I feel tomorrow night:)

Oh and Grandma made us okra last once a year indulgence, and I definitely indulged!! It was awesome!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Steak and Potato Salad

Tonight I made a steak and potato salad. I was walking through the store the other day and saw it on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, but didn't want to pay for the whole magazine for one recipe, and thankfully they had it on their site!

Steak and Potato Salad

Prep: 30 min. Roast: 50 min. Grill: 10 min.

2 lbs. small new Yukon Gold potatoes, halved or quartered
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 lb. ribeye steaks, cut 1-inch thick
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 recipe Salsa Verde, below
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place potatoes in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Roast, uncovered, 50 to 60 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, brush remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil on steaks. Season with salt and pepper. For charcoal grill, grill steaks on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium coals, 10 to 12 minutes (145 degrees F for medium-rare), turning once. (For gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place steaks on rack over heat. Cover; grill as above.)
3. Slice romaine into six 2-inch-thick slices, reserving tops for another use. Prepare Salsa Verde.
4. Place slice of romaine on each serving plate; drizzle; with 1/2 of the Salsa Verde. Toss warm potatoes with remaining sauce and green onions. Spoon onto romaine. Thinly slice steak and place on top of potatoes. Makes 6 servings.
5. Salsa Verde: In bowl combine 1/2 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons chopped chives, 3 tablespoons drained capers, 2 teaspoons chopped oregano, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, and 2 cloves minced
I cooked my steaks in a really hot stovetop pan, since we ran out of propane! I pan seared them on really high heat for a minute or so on each side to lock in all the juices, then brought the heat down a little to finish the cooking. Next time, I would have left them a little pink in the middle for more tenderness. The roasted potatoes were amazing, especially with the dressing! I added spicy garlic seasoning to the dressing to give it a little kick. I blended the dressing in my food processor because I like all the ingredients blended really well.
Do what you want with it---it's an awesome meal, and (score for me!) it actually filled Norris up, which is a big deal around here!:)
And I actually remembered to take a picture of the meal--this is my version!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Great weekend with the parents

My parents came to Wichita this weekend (got here Saturday morning, left this morning) and we had such a good time.
They came to help us with projects, but that's just not as much fun as hanging out! We did finish painting the front door and get the trim in the living room touched up. Norris and my dad built a workbench in the garage (which looks really great, I have to say!). So, we did get some big things done! My mom and I went shopping for "curtains" but we also went clothes shopping of course!
Last night was the most fun--we went to Margarita's where there is a live band, Lotus, who plays every Fri and Sat. They are an awesome band. We got there at 9:30 and stayed until 1:30! I was pretty impressed that my parents wanted to stay out that late:)
There is a dance floor and they play really fun music to dance to. Next time anybody comes to Wichita, you must go there!
Great weekend. I took a couple pictures; I'll have to get them off my camera and onto my comp. soon.
Back to work tomorrow. Kids come on Wed (freshman) and Thurs (everybody)!

Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Oooh...Back to school, back to school...

If anyone's reading this, I hope you are saying the lines from Billy Madison in your head and picturing Adam Sandler with a lunch box waiting for the school bus:)
The whole staff starts back tomorrow, which means I really have to be in the building and at meetings! Woah! I really have been working hard on getting some unit planning done and getting lots of contacts made with employers. It will be strange now with everyone there, almost like letting everyone else in on my territory, even though I'm the new one! It's been kind of nice to be there because I was forced to get familiar with the building, my room, and my new job. I have learned a lot and am excited for this school year.
I truly am excited for what is to come. I am so excited to meet my kids and get to know them and figure them out (as much as it is possible to figure out a teenager, anyway!). I am excited to cook great meals with them and everything else. Wooohooo!!!
Any other teachers actually excited for this school year?

Don't get me wrong--I already mourned the end of summer; it's time for some kiddos in my empty classroom now! (Let's see what I'm saying about this here in about a month and a half....:)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mini shrimp bites and Ramen noodle salad

Shelby is in town for a few days for the K-ACTE conference, so we have had a chance to hang out the last two nights!
The first night, we went to Cheddar's, which I normally like because it's casual and pretty quick, and we've always had good food. This trip made me not want to go back for a long long time! My food was not very good, and Shelby had a dead fly in her water. Gag!! They did give us both of our meals free, but the dead fly=no return trips for a while.

Last night, she came over and we made a really great meal. I was so glad she was here to help because I would have probably run out of steam about halfway through!
I had wonton wrappers, and I wanted to make something shrimpy or crabby:)
Norris' favorite salad is Asian Ramen Noodle Salad (I know, fancy!), so we made that, too.

Mini Shrimp Bites (from, a great website!)

Prep Time: 45 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour Yields: 16 servings

1 pound medium shrimp - cooked, peeled and deveined
6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cabbage
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
48 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons water
1.Chop shrimp; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add mozzarella cheese; mix well. Stir in the cabbage, onions, carrot, soy sauce, garlic and shrimp. For each shrimp roll, place 1 tablespoon of shrimp mixture across the bottom third of a wonton wrapper to within 1/4 in. of bottom and side edges. Combine flour and water until smooth; brush a 1/4-in. wide strip on side edges and fold side edges over 1/4 in. Brush side edges and top edge with water mixture. Fold bottom third of wonton wrapper over filling, then bring top over and pinch edges to seal completely.
2.Lightly spray rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Serve warm.

I don't really remember to take pictures of food, but they were great! We dipped them in a little soy sauce. I think next time I will make some sort of asian sweet chile sauce rather than plain soy sauce; that would have made them perfect.

Ramen Noodle Salad:
1 package ramen noodles (any flavor; uncooked)
small package slivered almonds
3 T sesame seeds
1 T margarine
1 head Napa Cabbage

1/2 c vegetable oil
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c Splenda
1/2 c white vinegar
2 T soy sauce

Break up the uncooked ramen noodles (save the flavor package or toss it; you don't need it for this recipe!) into small pieces. In a medium sized skillet, melt 1 T margarine. Toss in the ramen, slivered almonds, and sesame seeds. Stir occasionally and toast them in the skillet. They should be crunchy and golden brown.

Clean and chop Napa Cabbage while toasting those ingredients. I like to chop it into really small shreds.

Mix together oil, sugar, Splenda, vinegar, and soy sauce. Shake it, shake it real good!! Put this in the fridge until ready to serve.

Right before you're ready to serve, toss the dressing into the cabbage and top the salad with the crunchy topping. YUM!!

Both recipes were a hit with both of us girls and with Norris! We made 30 of the wontons (rather than 48, since I used some last week) and between the three of us, we ate all but two. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Boos wedding reception!!

Oh how I wish I could figure out this picture thing--just when I get it figured out it switches! I certainly didn't intend for our picture to be the first picture of the Boos wedding post.
We had a great time two weeks ago at Carianne and Aaron Boos' wedding reception in Topeka! They got married at the end of May in beautiful Mexico, and we all got to celebrate with them here! We had a good time--good food, good company, and good music to keep us out on the dance floor almost all night. Congratulations, you two!

So, us outside of the Capitol Plaza. Again, definitely not the focus, but can't figure out how to make this the last photo!

Their beautiful cake! It was really cool--it looked like the beach, and had chocolate shells. This is their topper from 5th Avenue in Playa....topper number two since the first one's head snapped off:)
One of the highlights of the evening--Carianne and her dad danced to Hey Carianne. They had a great dance they had practiced-- really fun to watch!
Cake cutting! And cheesecake bites...yummm!! Their dress and "suit" were really nice--all white and beachy!
Mr. and Mrs. Boos' first dance!


Our House...a bit further along!

I'm still figuring out this posting photos thing. Apparently the ones you upload first go to the bottom of the screen, and then get jumbled in order, so I apologize for there being no particular order!

Anyway...a little progress here, although I don't know how to decorate these recessed hole things yet. We got a cool blown glass plate and stand (above the fireplace) at the furniture store. New TV, and new Wii!! This is obviously our entertainment place, and the place we spend the most time when we are inside!

Norris' project--Troy and Norris put our mini-fridge into the wall in the corner of the basement. We wanted some sort of fridge down here, and we didn't want it just sitting out, so this was his "brilliant idea". They did do a really good job and trimmed it, so it fits perfectly in the spot. Now, when we sell this house, who wants a hole in the wall?!?
Our new giant sectional sofa. Love it!
Behind the sofa area, the bar and card table, still set up from last weekend. Definitely a party basement! We still don't know how to arrange things down there.
You can also see into the third bedroom, which I am choosing not to post a picture of because it is so packed full of stuff! It all has its place, but there are a few bookshelves, two desks, a bed, etc.
Our new kitchen floor. Don't know what to do about a table up here yet either, so we are decorating with our butcher block island. We are also currently decorating with leftover candy and centerpieces on the ledge:)
Ha...definitely not progress in the utility room! But hey, no more wallpaper, for the most part! We also purchased a washer and dryer, which is definitely nice to have! Lots of work to go in this room. We have the paint, just need to get there, and it's not at the top of our current list.
Our beautiful backyard! Norris is doing an awesome job of rehab-ing this area!
My project--the white front door. Almost done, a few touch ups needed. Then to work on adding some color! The middle window is the kitchen window above the sink.
Looking in that side area in the basement. We definitely have enough seating. And we definitely have a lot of work to do decorating wise! Right now, we have lots of hand me downs and our own old college stuff!
Guest room. Behind those white doors lies my great big closet!

Looking down the hallway. Back room is our room, left is bathroom, back right is guest room. New light fixtures, trim, paint, and doorknobs (from gold to brushed nickel).
Kitchen--finally have appliances! Still working on countertops and dishwasher. I did some work on the cabinets to spruce them up and get rid of the scratches and it really worked well. We still need to replace the hardware to brushed nickel. That sounds easy, but we have an odd length of handles which is difficult to find!
The kitchen. We removed this weird open cabinet thing there on the left and don't know what to do with that space now. We were thinking some sort of open shelving...
Still in the kitchen. That corner needs a table, but we don't know which one!
The upstairs living room/dining room (no furniture yet though). I would like to get two slipper chairs and a small table for a sitting/reading area.

The living/dining room upstairs. We don't have any chairs yet! And we have not decorated this corner or dressed this window, obviously. I would like to get a buffet or china cabinet for this corner. The table is really pretty--it's Norris' grandfather's that he had custom made for his San Diego home, and now it's in our house! It's a well traveled table!
Still in the living/dining room, looking into kitchen and down hallway.
The bathroom thus far. We picked this blue color and changed the light fixtures and bathroom hardware to brushed nickel. We finally got a different shower curtain. Now we have to get a new vanity and floor!
The guest room, currently full of my old stuff from my apartment and college years!

Thanks for spending the time to look! If you are up for a project weekend, let us know:) Just kidding of course. We are almost there! If you want to come stay in this bed or on one of our ten couches, let us know--we love company!!


What a great surprise! Norris had these delivered today. Since neither of us can really keep a secret, I knew there was some sort of surprise that I was supposed to get today while I was home for lunch. I had no idea what to expect though--with him, it could be anything!
I love the purple/yellow/pink combo! Anyway, I thought it was pretty sweet of him. Good job Norris!
We are off to Belleville for the weekend to go to the races. I'm hoping to go to the lake during the day tomorrow and get some sun, then go to the races and club tomorrow night.