Monday, August 31, 2009

Easy chicken and rice bake

This a super easy meal to put together and forget about while you get other things done, because most of the meal is in one dish in the oven. Add a green vegetable on the side and you're set. My mom made variations of this a lot growing up, and I remember one of my favorites being the one where she just put chicken, rice, and a jar of salsa together and baked it...mmmm. I'm sure a lot of people have made this same or similar thing, but couldn't help but write it down at least for myself to have a record of for next time! We got three dinner servings plus two lunch servings out of this one cheap meal, so I'll definitely be making it again. It's not exciting to look at because there isn't a whole lot of color. If it would go over well in your family, add some veggies in there to cook with it. I served our green beans on the side.

Easy Chicken and Rice Bake
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper to taste
dried Italian seasonings to taste

Preheat oven to 375. In a 9x13 pan, combine rice and chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings.
Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings on both sides, then add to dish.
Cook for about 40 minutes. Add the cheese to the top and put back in oven for 5 more minutes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


No, we didn't get robbed. And yes, we know "who" did it. Take a wild guess. Reason #3 to get a fence soon...

I had no idea there was so much batting in one throw pillow.Our 65 lb. lab still thinks he's a lap dog. Still working on that one!

Friday, August 28, 2009

In the presence of my enemies...

And no, it's not my enemies! And I'm so thankful that I've never been through anything even remotely like this, and cannot believe how inspirational this woman is after having been through this.
My grandma and aunt invited me to join them last night for their Christian Women's Club speaker-- Gracia Burnum. Maybe you've seen her on Locked Up: Abroad?? (yeah, we love that show) She and her husband were captured in the Phillipines by the Abu Sayyaf and were held in captivity for a year before her husband died in their SEVENTEENTH gun battle they had been through in that year. She was injured but rescued, and came home (to a town just outside of our city) to raise her family on her own.
Wow--she is now speaking all across the country and even has a sense of humor about what she's been through. When she was talking about her experiences, it was almost hard to believe, even though I knew she was telling the truth, just because it seems like something that could never happen. Now this part is even more amazing---her mission is to pray for these people that held her captive and she is in correspondence with them today (many of them are in jail). Wow! Makes me think a looooot about forgiveness and putting things in perspective.

Picture of the book is from Amazon...for a way better recap of the book, follow that link!
And, no, I haven't really made anything worth writing about this week. It was good stuff, but I've already shown it to you! Some really yummy homemade pizza, a chicken and rice bake, and hmmm...a PBJ? :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marinated Carrot Slaw with spicy shrimp

I got this idea from a neighbor from a reallllly long time ago. I was pretty surprised when my grandparents recently sent me a newspaper story showcasing "the little girl from down the street" as the top student chef in the country!! How cool!!

Her recipe is not available online, so you are just linked to the story. I used her recipe as an idea. I meant to actually use her recipe, but I copied it down and then left it at work, so I just went with the ideas that I remembered! I thought it turned out really well. I served the carrots over romaine lettuce with dried cranberries and drizzled a little extra of the marinade on top of my salad. Her original recipe also has julienned apples in it, which sounds awesome! I'll try it that way next time. I marinated some shrimp to make it spicy, cooked them, and topped the salad with that. Really good!!

Marinated Carrot Slaw

3 medium carrots, julienned
2 t spicy brown mustard
2 t olive oil
2 t white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 t sugar
pinch salt

Combine everything but the carrots in a small bowl. Add carrots and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Spicy Shrimp

1 lb shrimp
2 t olive oil
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t minced onion
1/2 t garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, minced
1 T butter

Marinate shrimp overnight in everything but the butter, then cook the shrimp. When it is almost finished, add in the butter, let it melt over the hot shrimp, and serve.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do we live in the desert??

Part of moving seems to be repeating many of the same projects we did at our old house in the last year. We hung some blinds today, started to plant some grass, and some other repeat projects, but the biggest and most difficult is definitely the fence.
Our yard is sooooo hard. Tons of rocks and really clay-ish ground. Norris has been out there for a lot longer on this fence than the last one and he hasn't gotten half as far, so I feel really bad for him! He's been working really really hard and we're both anxious to have a yard both for privacy and for a place for Bruno to run around. Until then, he's loving the backyard neighbor's sod..he'll go roll around in it and lay down and won't come home.
We only moved about a mile north, and we wound up with completely different ground! The results will be great, but until then, better make Norris a chiropractic appointment, because this project is definitely not good on his body!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chicken Piccata

The first day of school is tomorrow!! I can't believe it's here already, but I am kind of excited to get started after a whole week of just meetings. Bring on the kids! Going to bed early tonight, but wanted to share a yummy dinner.
This is a good light recipe perfect for summertime weather. It comes from Cook's Illustrated The New Best Recipe book.
Chicken Piccata

Serves 4

2 large lemons (I would only use one unless you like a very pronounced lemon flavor)
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
salt and pepper
1/2 cup AP flour
4 T vegetable or olive oil (I only used 2)
1 small garlic clove, minced (or use 1 shallot)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 T capers, rinsed (didn't use)
3 T unsalted butter, softened (I only used 2)
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves (I used dried, about 1 1/2 t)

1.Adjust oven rack to lower middle position, set a large heatproof serving or dinner plate on the rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Halve one lemon pole to pole. Trim the ends from one half and cut it crosswise into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; set aside. Juice the remaining half and whole lemon to obtain 1/4 cup juice; reserve. (next time, I would only use one lemon--so I would follow these instructions but omit that second whole lemon juicing)

3. Pat chicken breasts dry with paper towel. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Measure the flour into a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Coat cutlets with flour and shake off excess.

4. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. (If you need to do them in two batches, only heat half of the oil in the first batch). Place half of the chicken in the skillet (if all fits, go for it!). Saute until lightly browned, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from heat and transfer cutlets to the oven. Add the remaining oil and repeat process with remaining cutlets.

5. Add the shallot (or garlic) to the now-empty skillet and return the skillet to medium heat. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds for a shallot or 10 for garlic. Add the broth and lemon slices, increase the heat to high, and scrape the pan to loosen browned bits. Simmer until the liquid reduces to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes. Add the reserved lemon juice and capers and simmer until the sauce reduces again to 1/3 cup, about one minute. Remove from heat and swirl in the butter until it melts and thickens the sauce. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Honey Glazed Carrots

I served these alongside the roast for a good Sunday dinner. The honey gave them just a little bit of sweet but not too much--I don't like really sweet cooked vegetables. The cilantro was a good flavor combination with the honey, and a little salt finished them off. I thought they were great! And, they're cheap to make!

I found the recipe from an old friend from church! She was always someone I looked up to, and it was fun to find her blog! It's a great name-- Daisies n Dump Trucks-- for her little boy and girl.
Another steamy picture!!

Honey Glazed Carrots

1 cup water
1 t salt
1 lb carrots
1 T honey
1 T chopped cilantro (optional)

Bring one cup of water and salt to a boil. Peel and chop carrots into bite sized pieces (as Kristen says, on the diagonal is more fun to eat!). Put carrots into boiling water and cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain off water and add honey and cilantro. Let sit for 5 minutes for flavors to blend. (Or, as Kristen says, mingle and introduce themselves to each other:)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Three Packet Pot Roast

I saw this recipe the other day when the Rookie Chef posted it, and since we are working through a bunch of beef from that cow we got back in the spring, I tried it out. Neither of us really like roast much, but we wound up with a whole bunch of them (we already decided we won't be doing this cow thing again!). But, we both really liked this. It's really tender and has great flavor. It's also super easy. I put it in before we went to bed and it was ready for Sunday lunch. This recipe is originally from the Crockpot Lady, the one who cooked with her crockpot every single day for a year, blogged about it, and got a cookbook deal from it! Maybe a movie is next, like Julie Powell?:) (can't wait to see that movie!)
And I was way too impatient to wait for the steam to die down before photographing, so here it is with steam ruining the focus completely!

Three Packet Pot Roast
1 pkg Italian salad dressing mix
1 pkg brown gravy mix
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 cups water
4.5 pound roast (we used a chuck roast)
mushrooms (optional)--I used about 2.5 cups of sliced fresh mushrooms; Rookie Chef used 2 cans

Trim extra fat off of roast so it doesn't float around and get your gravy all globby.
Empty three packets into bowl and stir together.
Use about half of the dry mix to rub the roast.
Place the roast in your crockpot, add two cups of water around it, and stir in the rest of the dry mix into the water.
Add the mushrooms here if you want.
Heat on high for 6 hours or low for 8 to 10.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Smoky Grilled Red Potato Salad

I had to greet you with this precious face:)
This is my favorite recipe I have posted in a while!!! I have had my eye on this since before Colleen actually even made it--when she was talking about this idea she had for grilled potato salad! Potato salad isn't something I typically make just to have around, but we were going to a barbecue, so it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. I like how she describes it as a delicious variation of a loaded baked potato, because I'm pretty sure everybody likes those! I don't even like regular potato salad, mayonnaise, OR bacon, but I thought this was pretty good! The people who ate it at the barbecue said they loved it, too!

The only thing I did differently was use my broiler instead of the actual grill. It's WAY too hot outside to go start the grill. I'll try it again this fall for football season and see what it's like on the grill.

As I said before, this recipe is from Colleen, who dreamed it up herself. Thanks for sharing!

Smoky Grilled Red Potato Salad
from Colleen's Kitchen
Makes about 8 side dish servings
about 2 pounds red potatoes
olive oil
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
1 cup low fat mayo
1 tablespoon barbeque sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
2 ounces REAL Bacon Bits (1/2 of a 4-ounce bag)
1 cup coarsely shredded cheddar cheese
Thickly slice scrubbed potatoes and quarter each slice. Toss in a bowl and lightly coat with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and gently mix to combine.
Combine mayo, barbecue sauce, and salt and pepper in a large bowl; set aside.
Heat the grill to medium-high. Lay potatoes on a piece of non-stick foil and place directly on the grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning potatoes so that they cook evenly on both sides. You will know they are finished when they look golden-brown and crispy.
Transfer potatoes to the large bowl with mayo mixture. Gently toss until combined. Once the potatoes have cooled a little bit (so that cheese doesn't melt), add green onions, bacon bits, and cheese; mix again.
Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grown Up Hamburger Helper

Norris loves Hamburger Helper. I don't love it, and I don't really love the fact that he loves it. I guess because it's in a box with a ton of preservatives? Although I eat things with preservatives...

Maybe it makes me feel like a bad wife when he's stuck eating hamburger helper? But he likes it. I don't know, I just would rather him eat things not directly from boxes, so here's a "grown-up" version of Hamburger Helper adapted from Rachel Ray and this food site. Norris loved this!

Grown-Up Hamburger Helper

3 cups whole wheat pasta (I used spirals)
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp butter
3 T flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups skim milk
1 Tbsp spicy brown or dijon mustard
1 cup shredded cheese (I used combo of 2% cheddar and part skim mozzarella)
1 cup sliced mushrooms

1. Boil a pot of water and add the pasta, cook per the box. Don't drain until the rest is ready.
2. In a large skillet brown the meat. Drain and rinse. Return to skillet and add onion powder, garlic powder, W sauce, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove meat mixture to another bowl.
Saute mushrooms in a separate skillet to add at the end or toss them in with your beef when it's about halfway cooked to saute with the meat.
3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in the milk and the chicken stock. Bring to a bubble and cook for a few minutes until it thickens up. Stir in the mustard. Add the cheese and keep stirring until all melted into gooey goodness.
4. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce skillet along with the meat.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found a new chocolate chip cookie that I may like more than the other ones. I will post that other recipe sometime--I've made 150 batches in the last year because they are the recipe we use for cookie sales fundraisers at school. I am going to let the kids hold a taste test and do a recipe costing at the beginning of the year for both of these recipes and let them decide which is their best business decision! (I'll let you know:)
I found an Alton Brown recipe on a blog called prepared to drool if you go to that site! It's from Alton's "I'm Just Here for More Food" cookbook. He has a few different recipes--you always want to follow his instructions closely because he knows all about the science behind the food and has specific instructions for a purpose (because I'll admit, I really only follow instructions when baking:) BakingBlonde's first post on these said they were too greasy with 1 cup of butter, so she took it down to 3/4 cup, which is what I did. Still lots of flavor and not greasy. I think they're actually best the next day! My dough was pretty crumbly because of less butter, but I just pressed them into balls and it worked.

The best part--you don't even have to get out your mixer--one less thing to wash!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups chocolate chips (I used about 1 1/2 because I don't like them very chocolatey)

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the melted and cooled butter, sugars, egg yolks, and vanilla until combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the butter mixture, and fold the ingredients together just until combined. Add the chocolate chips and fold to combine. Do not overmix. (at this point it's a good idea to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes; overnight if you want!)
Dish out your cookies 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I put mine on a Silpat).
As soon as you put the cookies in the oven, lower the temperature to 350.
Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.
Don't forget to heat the oven back up to 375 before you put the next round in!
Yield: 24 cookies

Monday, August 10, 2009

The reason for the delay

We were set to close on a Friday, so we had our house in boxes, like this:
We got a call that morning telling us it wouldn't happen that day because of some paperwork issue. It would be happening Monday. Then we get a call later in the day saying we'll have to wait until Wednesday. Then on Tuesday we find out it might not happen until Thursday. I'm fine with waiting extra time, but it was so frustrating to already be completely packed and living out of boxes! We went to our friends' wedding--we were a sight running around the house trying to dig through boxes to find the right shoes, belt, jewelry, etc. What a mess! But it all worked out and we are mostly moved in here, and we had lots of help from our families--thanks again! I will share pictures of this place soon.
The fun part was that Karis came to visit and we actually got to hang out instead of unpacking dishes! We're weird and always thought it was funny to take pictures in the bathroom when we go places, so we got Laine in on it this time:)
So, like I said, we went to a wedding the next night:

And Norris tried on someone's suspenders. I think the man in the hat behind him is calling for backup?
Food posts, coming right up!! Thanks for being patient! (ha, if you're still here that is!!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Moving on...

We finally are all moved in to our house (although there are plenty more boxes to looks like we're moved in upstairs at least). There were lots of snags along the way to closing, but it happened! I started back to school since I have an extended contract, and am getting pretty much back into the swing of having to be somewhere every day! (What a thought!)
I can't find my camera cord, but I have pictures to share. I ordered another one so it should be here soon. I actually cooked again last night for the first time in a while, which was nice! I definitely love our new kitchen--it's so much brighter in there, which is definitely the best part.
Just thought I'd give a quick update. See you soon!