Friday, February 27, 2009

12 days

Spring break is a little over a week away.

And I need a break. I've taken the whole week off and I'm looking forward to relaxing and getting away. I need a break.

Plus, in 12 days (the end of my spring break) I'm going to see this girl!


Tea

this was taken almost 3 years ago..at our tea party for 2!

And I couldn't be more excited! Have I mentioned I haven't seen her since June?

So, here's to 12 days until I see Beth and 5 more work days until spring break.

It can't come fast enough.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dark Chocolate Fondue

Fondue

I meant to post this a while back, but you know how life gets in the way of what we plan sometimes?

Fondue

The hubby and I had this fondue for Valentine's Day and it was h.e.a.v.e.n.l.y to say the least!

Fondue

One of the good things about this recipe is the super rich, dark chocolate keeps you from wanting to eat the whole pot. And it really doesn't make a lot so it's good for the figure.

Fondue

This is very easy to make and you can get creative with what you use for dipping!

Fondue

Dark Chocolate Fondue
adapted from Ellie Krieger

2 Clementine orages, segmented
1 apple, sliced (I prefer Pink Lady apples)
1 (8 ounce) container strawberries, hulled
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) finely chopped

Place the orange segments, apple slices, and strawberries in separate piles on a serving plate. Sprinkle the apple slices with the orange juice and toss gently.

In a medium saucepan whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually add the evaporated milk and whisk well to make a paste. Place the saucepan over a low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until simmering. Remove fromt he heat and whisk in the vanilla and chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted.

Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with fruit and enjoy!

Notes: I prefer to use an electric fondue pot because the heat is evenly distributed over the entire bottom surface of the pot whereas a fondue pot that is heated with a tealight tends to burn in that one spot. Also, use your imagination with things for dipping. Cream puffs, pound cake, angel food cake, bananas, marshmallows, and pretzels are all wonderful.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

fat tuesday.

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!


Beads

I'm not a huge Mardi Gras celebrator. Ok, so I never celebrate it. I've never been to NOLA for Mardi Gras. But I've been a bad blogger lately so I thought a good way to get going again was with Fat Tuesday.

And who doesn't love colorful beads?!

One of my co-workers brought a King Cake to work today. We are going to cut into it later this afternoon and see who gets the baby. If you have no idea what I'm talking about go here.

And I promise to be a better blogger.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Oh yes, Bakerella has done it again. She is absolutely fabulous at taking a store bought cake, brownie, or cookie mix and making it, well, fabulous! However, this isn't her recipe but she did take it over the top. The recipe comes straight from Betty Crocker herself. (Did I mention I was Betty Crocker for Halloween?)

Food3 031

This recipe combines to very incredible things...brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, amazing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Anyway, instead of the normal packaged frosting that the Betty Crocker recipe suggests Bakerella tops her brownies with ganache. Oh yes, this is chocolaty goodness taken to the next level. And they're easy but they impress. ALWAYS A PLUS!!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Oh, and try to only eat one. I bet you can't do it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Betty Crocker recipe found on Bakerella

1 box Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
Chocolate Ganache

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13x9-inch pan. Make brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water and 2 eggs. Spread in pan.

Make cookie mix as directed on pouch, using butter and 1 egg. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto brownie batter; press down lightly.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Pour chocolate ganache over brownies and allow to set, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Ganache
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage. Pour over the chocolate morsels. Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.

the bachelor

Wow. ABC has taken this a little too far in their quest for good television.

If you want to know what's going to happen with The Bachelor go to www.realitysteve.com.

There are some big time spoilers so don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Chicken and Vegetables

Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe was created by using anything and everything I had in the pantry/refrigerator. Sometimes the best meals can be created that way. Also, because this recipe was created that way, it can be changed so easily. Don't use the veggies you don't like or add others. Change the meat up (Italian turkey sausage would be fantastic) or leave meat out all together. It's always fun to take a recipe and make it your own. You may be starting to notice a trend with me and a rotisserie chicken! I love those things because the chicken is so flavorful and moist and it is so convenient to throw a meal together.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken and Vegetables

Whole Wheat Penne with Chicken and Vegetables

1 pound whole wheat pasta (any shape)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
3 handfuls fresh spinach
2 roasted chicken breasts shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken from HEB)
4 ounces low fat or fat free cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.

Saute onions, garlic and red peppers in a large saute pan until tender. Add chicken broth and scrap up bits. Add broccoli and cook until just tender. Add chicken and spinach to pan and cook until the spinach starts to wilt a bit. Add the cream cheese and stir until it melts. Add cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. Top each serving with a little of the grated Parmesan cheese and serve!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Balsamic Chicken with Sauteed Spinach and Whole Wheat Couscous

Balsamic Chicken

This was a very easy and quick dinner. Perfect after a long day at work! Couscous is so fast cooking as well as the spinach and the whole meal comes together in under 30 minutes. (Sorry for sounding like Rachael Ray there!)

I've gotta be honest here though. It was good for dinner but as leftovers it was not good at all. I'm just being honest here. When I made it I added another chicken breast to the mix so I could take it for lunch the next day at work. Don't do this. Also, if you really love spinach make more than this recipe says. Spinach cooks down so much and it really doesn't end up making much.

Balsamic Chicken with Sauteed Spinach and Whole Wheat Couscous
adapted from Ellie Krieger

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded about 1/4 inch thick
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup diced canned tomatoes with juice (use low sodium or no salt added)
1 cup whole wheat couscous, cooked

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and cook about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and juices run clear. Remove the chicken and set aside. To the same pan, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Be sure not to burn the garlic! Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook just until wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Lower the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken back to pan and cook for 5 more minutes.

heart day

Fondue

It was for fondue y'all! Come on...this is a family blog!

We aren't big "go out to a fancy dinner and exchange gifts on Valentine's Day" type of people. Staying in, spending time together, and just being together at home is the perfect Valentine's Day to me.

This year we made homemade pizza and had chocolate fondue for dessert and it was perfect! It was a wonderful night at home and I loved it. I think this may be our new heart day tradition. 


Pizza

We made a half-and-half pizza. Half BBQ chicken, half Italian turkey sausage and pepperoni. YUM! And the crust...thin and crispy just how John likes it!

And the chocolate fondue with strawberries, Clementine oranges, and apples...so good!


Marshmallows

Oh, and maybe we had a couple of these too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentine's day

Our Valentine's Day is going to involve this

Chocolate

and this

Chocolate

What can be better than dark chocolate? 

Have a fabulous Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So I Jumped

It was the second semester of my freshman year. I just started pledging a sorority. And the funny thing, it was the Christian sorority. A few of my friends and I had really connected and become close friends with some of the older girls and those older girls were so outgoing, adventuresome, and downright cool. We wanted to hang out with the cool kids. We were the little freshman and we wanted to do whatever they were doing.

It all started one night during an innocent game of cops and robbers. Oh and I must state for the record, our game of cops and robbers had the boundaries of Baylor Landing apartments (where the new Dutton parking garage is now) to Ghetto HEB (12th and Speight). Those of you who are familiar with Baylor’s campus know that this is a rather large territory for a game. The robbers would leave Baylor Landing first and get a 5 minute head start and would have to race across campus to Ghetto HEB without getting caught by the cops who were 5 minutes behind. It was a great game and so much fun. Once everyone got to Ghetto HEB we would wait for everyone to get there and then head back switching teams. This cycle would go on for a couple hours.

One night, after a few rounds of cops and robbers we were back at one of the older girl’s apartment at Baylor Landing and we were deciding what to do next when one of the older girls had the brilliant idea of jumping off the Suspension Bridge. We were already wearing all black, had our running shoes on and it was almost midnight so why not. It was the perfect situation to do it of course!

So off we went to downtown Waco. The whole way there we were discussing our game plan. We were going to park the car, a couple people were going to keep watch and the rest of us were jumping..at the same time. Oh and the most important part. If for some reason the cops showed up or someone else important then our code word for "danger" was "JOHNNY!" Don't ask me why Johnny, it just worked. As we were making our way to the bridge the discussion was nothing more than, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe we're going to do this." We got to the area on the bridge that we had decided on to jump from. Climbed over the rail and we were standing on the side of the bridge, facing the river, with our arms stretched to the sides still holding on.

"On the count of 3 we will all jump!"

"1...2...3...JUMP!"

Everyone jumped but 2 of us! I was still freaking out and could not bring myself to let go. My friend who also had not jumped yet went quickly after everyone else so now it's just me, still hanging on, trying to convenience myself that this is a great idea and I will later regret it if I don't do it.

So I jumped. Mid air I heard "JOHNNY JOHNNY JOHNNY JOHNNY...." Perfect timing. I hit the water and went down for a long time and it felt even longer trying to swim back to the top. Once I finally came out of the water I took the biggest breath of my life and began swimming faster than I've ever swam before.

When I got to shore the Johnny Call had been a false alarm.

Soaking wet, I walked back down the hall to my dorm room in North Russell and found a few friends waiting on me.

They had 2 questions. Why all black and why all wet?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

3 things about the bachelor...

1. He wants to be a rock so she can fall down?!?! I'd be scared for my life if a guy told me that!
2. No wonder they got divorced..he loves Jesus and she loves past lives and dead dove funerals.
3. It's obvious he is going to pick Melissa.

ok, maybe 4...

4. Personally, I miss Shannon and Stephanie. I know neither one of them was right for him (ok, Shannon was flat out weird and a stalker and if Stephanie got an engagement ring it would have gotten lost in all of her other accessories), but they were so much fun and made the show so much more interesting! I mean stalkers and scarves, and earrings, and necklaces, and rings, and belts, and hats and....I could go on but I'll stop.

What are your thoughts? Who do you think he will pick?

Friday, February 6, 2009

all my friends jumped off a bridge so i did too...

For those of you on facebook, you know that this has been going around for a while now. I wasn’t going to do this, but I saw an article in the NY Times yesterday that said over 5 million people have posted this on facebook this week alone, so I wanted to play. And like a few others, this doubled as a post also. Yes, if all my friends jumped off a bridge I would too.

1. My freshman year at Baylor all my friends jumped off the Waco Suspension Bridge so I did too. No lie. It was to this day, the dumbest thing I have ever done.

2. I am married to my best friend and he is hands down the funniest person I know. He can always make me laugh. That’s important.

3. My family means more to me than anything else in this world.

4. I think my favorite place in the world just might be Santa Fe, New Mexico.

5. I am rediscovering my love for reading. One of my new year’s resolutions is to read at least 1 book a month. So far so good.

6. Traveling is probably one of my favorite things to do. So far in our married life John and I have traveled somewhere every year. 2005: New York City, 2006: Santa Fe and Aspen, 2007: Kenya, 2008: Western New York and Toronto, 2009: we are going to Nicaragua in June! We make a photo book of every trip.

7. Photography is becoming a new hobby of mine.

8. When I was 5 I played on my first soccer team. There was only one league and it was all boys. Except for me. I had really long hair (down to my butt) and one game I fell down and all the boys ran across my hair.

9. I love movies. My favorites are Return to Me and The Shawshank Redemption.

10. I absolutely cannot wait to be a mom. But I am not in a hurry at all.

11. Bon Jovi is my favorite band of all time. I seriously miss their long hair though.

12. I own all 10 seasons of Friends on DVD. It is still my favorite show to this day. I believe that there hasn’t been another sitcom as good as Friends.

13. I was in a commercial for a local video store when I was younger. The store was called Video Today. In the commercial we said, “Come to Video Today for a video tonight.” Lame, I know.

14. When I was in high school my sweet friend Ashley and I would talk about being “business women” one day and getting dressed up in fancy business outfits and going to fancy business Christmas parties. Now we are both married to ministers and I don’t see fancy business Christmas parties in our future.

15. I love cooking and baking. Baking can be therapeutic for me.

16. One of my favorite things to do with my husband is watch Kristen Wigg do anything on SNL. She always make us laugh really hard without fail.

17. I have lived in Waco for almost 8 years. I never thought when I came to Baylor as a freshman in 2001 that I would live here for almost a decade!

18. I love magazines. Currently I have subscriptions to Cooking Light, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and Better Homes and Gardens. And I am notorious for picking up US Weekly at HEB.

19. I drove a blue Volkswagen Beetle for 5 years.

20. I don’t like rollercoasters. They are too “jerky” and I have a bad back.

21. I was a lifeguard and taught swim lessons in high school and my first summer after my freshman year of college.

22. I’ve been to London twice. Both trips were because of very extended layovers and one day I hope to be able to see London without rushing to and from everything.

23. I have a degree in Psychology but I’m not using it.

24. I have never broken a bone or had a cavity.

25. My favorite tree is a magnolia and when I grow up I want to have a huge magnolia tree in my yard.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore means "hunter" in Italian and Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian dish that is traditionally made with peppers, tomatoes, chicken and is braised. Sometimes the chicken is dredged in flour before cooking, but I just browned it over high heat to create a delicious crust. I had been craving Italian food for a few days (and not the South Beach friendly kind..I wanted pasta) and thought this would be wonderful. This recipe started off pretty traditional in my head, but while I was at the grocery store getting the ingredients it evolved into this. I really love the roasted piquillo peppers and fire roasted tomatoes in this dish. The smokiness adds a whole other level of flavor that isn't too overpowering at all. I served this over whole wheat orzo, but honestly, it didn't even need it. Again, if calories weren't an issue here I would have served this over some hot, al dente linguine because that is my long pasta of choice. I'm not a fan of spaghetti. I think it is boring. Same with angel hair. I don't like it. 

Whoa...did I get off topic there or what! Here's the recipe!

Chicken Cacciatore

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped 
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved (quarter the larger ones)
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 jar roasted piquillo peppers, drained and coarsely chopped (use roasted red peppers if unable to find these)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
1/2 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season both sides of chicken breasts with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook about 3 minutes on the other side. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Add the onions, mushrooms, green bell peppers, piquillo peppers and ½ tsp salt to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and spinach and cook stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Turn the heat up to high and quickly add the broth, scraping the pot bottom and edges with a wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Stir in the tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, thyme and pepper. Add the chicken breasts back to the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour at 325 degrees. This is great served over any type of pasta. 

priceless!

I saw this on Sean and Ashley's blog and it is perhaps one of the funniest You Tube videos ever! Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

White Chili

White Chili

I've been making this for a few years. I recently described it to a friend as guiltless comfort food. It is fabulous. And I only made 1 minor change to lower the calories. The original recipe calls for butter, but I used extra virgin olive oil. And to be completely honest, you would never know it was missing. And, you would never know this is a low calorie meal. The pureed beans add a thickness and creaminess without the calories of flour or heavy cream. I promise, if you make this you will love it!

White Chicken Chili
adapted from Southern Living

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
5 cups water
1 large onion, chopped and divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 celery ribs, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 cup chicken broth
3 (16-ounce) cans great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
4 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, not drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Place chicken, 5 cups water, half of onion, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and cook 15 to 18 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, reserving broth in Dutch oven. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Saute remaining onions, celery and garlic in olive oil until tender.
Process 1 can beans and 1 cup of chicken broth in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir bean pureƩ, chicken, celery mixture, 2 cans beans, and next 6 ingredients into broth in Dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 1 hour, stirring frequently, until thickened.
Remove and discard bay leaf; stir in cilantro just before serving with desired toppings.

Monday, February 2, 2009

thoughts on groundhog day

Groundhog day doesn't really mean a lot for those of us who live in Texas. 6 more weeks of winter? I mean, it's 30 right now and the high tomorrow is supposed to be 72. Really? But I'm used to it. Wear a jacket in the morning and you probably won't need it in the afternoon. Maybe in Texas 6 more weeks of winter means 6 more weeks of freezing morning temps but 70s in the afternoons. 

And really, I think it is kind of silly. And does the groundhog remind anyone else of the gophers from Caddy Shack? Anyone?

Really? Just me? Okay.

Happy Groundhog Day anyway!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

hmm..who won?

I just googled "who won the super bowl." And did I also mention that I really had no idea who was playing until Thursday night while I was watching Leno and he mentioned it? True story.

Sad? No, I don't think so. 

I did enjoy a nice evening at home waiting on my hubs to get back. I just finished watching The Devil Wears Prada while finishing some laundry. Classic. Perfect Super Bowl Sunday movie.

Have I mentioned that I miss him and he's been gone since Tuesday? He has and I do. A lot.

But he should be home any minute now. I can't wait.

Is it weird to anyone else that it is already February? 

The Steelers won in case anyone else is in my boat. 27-23. I'm sure it was a good game. 
 
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