Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Out {What's for Dinner? 3/31/2010}

We ate dinner out tonight. I had an event to go to and Alex went to a friend's house. The end.

Short and Tasty {What's for Dinner? 3/30/2010}

I'm tired and trying to get caught up so this is going to be short and sweet.

Last night's dinner was Peppercorn Chicken with Lemon Spinach {click the link for the recipe} from Food Network Magazine. It was really good!! Definitely a keeper. I love finding new, interesting, delicious chicken recipes!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Only Veg I Don't Like {What's for Dinner? 3/29/2010}

I have never been a picky eater. Let's just say my nickname growing up was "The Garbage Disposal" because I'd eat anything and everything put in front of me. My brother, on the other hand, was the antithesis of me when it came to eating. He would have to sit at the table for hours trying to "just eat 5 bites" of his veggies. Meanwhile, I had succeeded in cleaning my plate long ago and since then trotted off to watch TV or play a game. I remember never understanding why he had so much trouble choking down a few bites of vegetables.

Well, last night I was reminded of one vegetable that I just don't love. COOKED BELL PEPPERS. It's not that I can't eat them, I just don't enjoy eating them. I actually like them raw okay...they're not my favorite but they are crispy and sweet and palatable.

When Hubs said he wanted to make stuffed bell peppers this week I was less than thrilled, but I knew that this was something he'd been wanting to make for a while so I conceded. Sure enough, I didn't really enjoy them at all. The filling was good but the soft, slimy cooked bell pepper was just....not my cup of tea. But I give Hubs lots of props for coming up with a great meal mostly all on his own {without a recipe}!


If you're interested in a very rough description of how he made these:

Hubs made these Stuffed Bell Peppers by steaming the bell peppers for 10 minutes first. Then he mixed cooked ground turkey, cooked brown rice, diced tomatoes, and a mix of spices {chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, etc.} together for the filling, which he stuffed inside of the peppers. Finally he baked them for about 25 minutes in the oven on 375 degrees and then topped with shredded cheddar.

We served a cherry tomato and cucumber salad on the side.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's for Dinner? 3/28/2010

Sunday night was super-chill kinda night so we just had leftovers for dinner. So exciting, right?!? I'm starting to wonder if I even need to do a blog entry for nights like this one. Thoughts?

Kim's Baby Shower & What's for Dinner? 3/27/2010

So Saturday was the day of the big shower that I was co-hosting for my lifelong BFF, Kim. It was held at the other hostess' house {Thanks, Megan!} and we went with an over-the-top baby pink theme. This was the first baby shower that I've ever thrown so it was a bit of a learn-as-you-go experience. I thought I'd share some of our ideas for anybody who may be planning a baby shower in the future...


We served chocolate covered strawberries.



And fresh fruit.


And my mom's famous chicken salad on mini-crossaints.


I made this sign by buying cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby, painting them pink, and then mod podgeing scrapbook paper to the front.


We used cloth diapers as napkins.



I made these favors...there were two options: pink candies or white chocolate dipped oreos. Food table in the background.


Drink station! We served a delicious pink punch {recipe below}, water, tea and grapefruit mimosas. All drinks were served out of glass baby bottles with pink straws.

Baby Shower Pink Punch

1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate (thawed)

1 can frozen cranberry-raspberry concentrate (thawed)

2 2-liter bottles strawberry soda

2 quarts pineapple sherbet


Combine first 3 ingredients in a punch bowl and then drop in dollops of the sherbet. Enjoy!




My mom made this ADORABLE diaper cake! I have no idea how she did it but I wish I did. The gifts on either side were the prizes for the game winners {they were just Bath & Body Works wallflowers}.


I made these Grecian Party Squares {click for recipe}.



I also made these mini-quiche. There were two varieties: ham & cheese and spinach & swiss.



Mini cupcakes that we purchased from a local bakery.


Sun-dried Tomato Hummus served with pita chips {I made the hummus same as I would any other normal hummus but just added some sun-dried tomatoes}.



The guest of honor opening her many gifts.



Guests and guest of honor!



Me & my lifelong BFF, who is going to be a MOM! Crazy! My mom brought some old photos of Kim and I from when we were babies/growing up and they were so funny! I will have to scan them sometime soon so I can share. :)

Overall I think it was a very successful shower, especially for it being my first!

By the way, on Saturday night we went out to a hibachi restaurant for dinner with my mom {since she was in town for the shower}. It was tons of fun but I didn't take any pictures! :(

Catching Up {What's for Dinner? 3/26/2010}

Friday night I had tons of last minute preparations for the shower so we just picked up a Papa Murphy's cheese pizza for dinner. Unfortunately, it was not that good. :(

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Faux-Burger {What's for Dinner? 3/25/2010}

Tonight Hubs had to go to a unit function for dinner so I was on my own for dinnahhhh. Hmmmm...what to eat, what to eat? FAUX-BURGER! A Morningstar Grillers Prime veggie burger with baby spinach, cheese, pickles & dijonnaise, to be exact. With leftovahhh eggplant veg mix and mashed 'taters.


Off to start prepping food for the shower on Saturday.

{And in case you were wondering, the twitching continues.}

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Twitchy {What's for Dinner? 3/24/2010}

I've been having eye twitches all day. ALL. DAY. It's so annoying!! That just goes to show how stressed I am right now. BAH!

A conversation much like the one below happened between the hubs and I when I had a little outburst about how annoying it is to have your eye twitching all day long...

Hubs: "Well just stop stressing, then."
Me: "How?!?!?" :::eye twitch:::
Hubs: "I don't know. Just....do it."
Me: :::eye twitch and angry glare:::

I was elbow deep in pink, baby shower items again tonight so Hubs picked out this recipe for Spicy Chicken Schwarma {click the link for the recipe} from our new Cooking Light to make. I know I say this a lot, but...........THIS WAS SO GOOD! Yum yum yum YUM.


If only eating a delicious dinner was a cure for eye twitching...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Spy.....

This one's for all my Bachelor fans out there...

Did anyone else catch this interesting shot of the audience of Dancing with the Stars last night:


Now let's see here, we have Vienna in the middle, who I was secretly hoping wouldn't be there and that Jake would announce that they broke up. But alas...

And oh LOOKIE THERE! It's Ed on the top right, Jillian's choice from her Bachelorette season {which Jake was on}. And although you can't see it in this shot, Jillian was in fact there too.

Oh and don't think we don't see you there, Miss Gia {the 2nd runner up on Jake's season}!!!! Just to the left of Vienna and keeping your head down and hair in front of your face during all the shots. Sneaky, sneaky!!!

It was like an incestuous pool of Bachelor-ites last night in that audience!!

BLTAM's {What's for Dinner? 3/23/2010}

Busy, busy, busy I am! I'm co-hosting a baby shower for my very best friend this Saturday so it's been a non-stop rotation of errands and preparations. It's fun but it's exhausting, that's for sure! {Yet all worth it when it's for such an amazing friend}

I basically handed over the reigns to Hubs for dinners this week because I've got so much going on. He decided on BLTAM's {Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado & Mayo} on marbled rye bread for tonight and they were DEEEEEELISH. BLT's are really a perfect example of a simple thing that just works so well.




And because I was still hungry after eating one BLTAM, I made myself a little runny egg on toast snack. Yummmmmmmm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Indian LOVE {What's for Dinner? 3/22/2010}

I've been craving Indian food lately for some odd reason and I just happened to remember that there's an Indian restaurant down the road that we had never tried before. SCORE! Tonight both Alex and I had to work late so we decided it was a good night to go out to eat.

I think I had forgotten just how much I looooooovvvee Indian food! OMG. So spicy and full of flavor and just delicious! The prices are a little more than we like to spend {around $14/person for a dinner plate} but JUST LOOK at all this food that they give you:

That's Chicken Curry on the far left which was INCREDIBLY good. I think it may have been my favorite curry I've ever had. I was dipping my naan in the sauce like a mad woman because the sauce was so good.

I'm not really sure what the middle bottom dish was called but it was like a curried potato side dish. Pretty good but not as good as the rest of the stuff.

The middle top dish is Dal Makhani, which they describe as "lentils cooked in butter and spices". Loved this too!

The far right is basmati rice, obviously, but on the menu they call it "pullao rice".

Then there was the.....

...NAAN!!!!! My favorite part, I think. This naan was so perfect. Hot, salty-ish, garlicky, tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, CRAZY GOOD.

And the best part is that I have enough leftovers for at LEAST one lunch, maybe two! It was so. much. food.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Steakhouse in Our House {What's for Dinner? 3/21/2010}

Mmmmm I love Steak Night! Alex grilled up the sirloins and I made the side dishes, which were mashed potatoes and a random assortment of sauteed veggies. The veggie side dish basically evolved from having various vegetables in our fridge that were on their last leg. Use them or lose them!


Alex's Steak:
Season steaks with balsamic vinegar, garlic salt & fresh cracked black pepper on both sides. Put on a hot grill for about 5 minutes. Flip the steak and then put 1/2 Tablespoon butter on top of the steak. Cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from grill for medium-rare steaks.

Sauteed Veggie Mix:

Saute sliced mushrooms and eggplant in olive oil until soft and cooked through. Then add a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach, some salt, and a couple splashes of Sherry vinegar to the pan. Saute until spinach wilts and then serve!


Ashley's Fave Mashed Taters:
Boil cubed red potatoes until cooked. Drain and then return to the hot pot. Add a 1/4 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of milk and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add salt & pepper and more milk, as needed to smooth it out. Serve and enjoy!

Burger Bash {What's for Dinner 3/20/2010}

We had a little get-together at our house on Saturday night and we served burgers and grilled chicken. Our guests supplied the side dishes, apps & desserts which was WONDERFUL because A) I didn't have to slave over a stove all day and B) They were really delicious. I love potlucks!

Burgers & Chicken


The Boys (+Jenn) chowing down


The chicks (+Taylor)...notice the March Madness in the background.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Summery Meal on the Last Day of Winter {What's for Dinner? 3/19/2010}

The weather has been BEAUTIFUL here lately! Warm, bright blue skies, lots of sun. It has definitely been feeling spring-ish around here but the first day of spring isn't until tomorrow. And isn't it just perfectly ironic that tomorrow is the day that it's supposed to get cold and rainy again?!?

In honor of the great weather, we cranked up the grill for tonight's dinner...Grilled Barbecue Shrimp, Grilled Corn on the Cob and Spinach & Pesto Orzo.


We just brushed the shrimp with Stubb's BBQ Sauce and then grilled them on skewers. The corn was simply grilled in its husks. The orzo mix just consisted of baby spinach, feta cheese and pesto. All of it was super easy!

AWESOME Recipe Website!

So I just discovered SuperCook.com and I'm HOOKED! It's the best thing since sliced bread! Ever found yourself with nothing planned for dinner and no idea what to make with what you have in your pantry/refrigerator? Yeah....me too.

Well this is our answer to this problem! All you do is enter the ingredients that you have on hand and it will automatically search tons of recipe websites and collections and tell you what you can make! The more ingredients you enter, the more results you get!

When I started I put in that I had chicken, goat cheese & sun-dried tomatoes and POOF! It suggested a "Goat Cheese & Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken" recipe that sounds DELISH!

I also LOVE that it saves your "ingredients" that you enter for each time that you log on. You don't have to keep reentering your "staple" items every time because it remembers what you had before!

Other recipe websites {such as allrecipes.com} have the ingredient search option BUT they don't search other websites too. This is the first one I've seen that searches multiple sites for you.

I'm super excited about this new discovery! What a great website!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Carnitas Deliciosas {What's for Dinner? 3/18/2010}

I looooooooove carnitas! It's usually my meat filling of choice when I go to Chipotle. Juicy, flavorful, delicious! Carnitas are also a perfect thing to make in the crockpot. The low and slow cooking method makes for perfectly juicy, fall-apart meat.


Slow Cooker Carnitas


Source: allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Hours

Ready In: 10 Hours 10 Minutes
Servings: 5

"Carnitas means 'little meats' and is traditionally fried then braised. This recipe is made much easier using the slow cooker but the results are just as tasty. This makes a great filling for tamales, enchiladas, tacos and burritos. This filling is also great combined with your favorite barbecue sauce and served on buns."

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon {next time we'll leave the cinnamon out...it was just kind of weird}
1 2-pound boneless pork shoulder
roast
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken broth {I have a hugggeee crockpot so we added about another cup of broth}

Directions:

1. Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.
2. Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Add cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.


My recommendation is to serve the carnitas in corn tortillas with avocado, red onion, salsa, cilantro & a squeeze of lime juice. YUM!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deja Vu {What's for Dinner? 3/17/2010}

Recognize this? That's because it's LEFTOVERS!


I had to work a St. Patty's Day event til late tonight so a "real" dinner just wasn't in the cards.

P.S. This is what *I* ate for dinner...hubs ate about 35 mini pizzas.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wendy Made Dinner Tonight {What's for Dinner? 3/16/2010}


Yes, it's true. We had a nice meal planned to make tonight but Hubs has a bit of a cold and I had a headache and was feeling exhausted so....fast food it was!

I had planned on being healthy-ish {for fast food} by ordering a grilled chicken sandwich {no mayo} with a sour cream & chive baked potato but somehow I spazzed and accidentally ordered a crispy chicken sandwich.

FAIL.

{It was a tasty mistake though}


I Wanna Win!


One of my favorite Health & Fitness blogs, Health for the Whole Self, is giving away a case of Chobani Greek Yogurt. I am DYING to win this giveaway because I can't ever find flavored greek yogurt in the grocery stores here. :::Crossing my fingers:::
Check out Katie's blog....she's truly inspiring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicken Picatta by Any Other Name... {What's for Dinner? 3/15/2010}

Alex dog eared this recipe in one of his Men's Health magazines for Crispy Parmesan Chicken and we decided to try it tonight. I don't really know why they didn't just call it "Chicken Picatta" though, because that's basically what it is. Pan-fried chicken with a caper-butter sauce? Um yeah...hate to break it to ya but that's Chicken Picatta! Despite the weird renaming of it, it was really tasty and relatively easy to make.

On the side, I made a really random, last-minute side dish that combined red potatoes, broccoli, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, and white wine. It was okay but definitely nothing worth writing out in recipe form. I think with a little tweaking it might end up being worth it though so maybe look for it in the future!


Crispy Parmesan Chicken


Source: Men's Health magazine

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 oz each
1 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
2 egg whites
Salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp capers
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Cover the chicken with parchment paper or plastic wrap, and use a meat mallet or a heavy-bottomed pan to pound it until it's 1/4" thick.

2. Combine the crumbs, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning in a wide bowl. In a second bowl, beat the egg whites slightly. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Now carefully dip each breast into the egg whites and then into the crumb mixture, pressing to make sure it's evenly coated.

3. Heat the oil on medium in a large stainless-steel sauté pan or cast-iron skillet. Add the breasts, and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes or until the crusts are deeply browned and crunchy. Turn them over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Then transfer them to a platter to rest.

4. While the pan is still hot, add the butter. When it's lightly browned—which should take no longer than 1 minute—stir in the capers, mustard, and lemon juice, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Turn off the heat and add the parsley. This is your sauce.

5. Serve the chicken breasts with the sauce drizzled on top, and a side of spinach sautéed with garlic and dried chilies. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 497 calories, 61 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber), 21 g fat, 816 mg sodium

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunlight & Spaghetti {What's for Dinner? 3/14/2010}

Look! Natural light photos! Taken at 6:45pm! It's officially "spring forward" time, which sucks in the aspect of losing sleep but is wonderfulllll in the aspect that it stays light later. LOVE.


This dinner was basically the same as this one from last week, except we used fettucini instead of spaghetti and green beans instead of broccoli.

This time I got a picture of our favorite spaghetti sauce flavor:


YUM! Love this stuff.

BBQ on Board {What's for Dinner? 3/13/2010}

Saturday night was a good night for a BARBECUE!

We had brisket and deer sausage with all the fixings at our friends Kim & Ricky's house. It was a great night and I so enjoyed seeing my lifelong BFF in her very preggo state. :)


Unfortunately I really sucked at taking pictures last night. Boo me!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Can't HANDLE The Truth!!


Sooooo, which one did you think was true? The answers in my comments were overwhelmingly for #2....


And those answers were RIGHT! It was #2! Guess I didn't make it hard enough. Either that or my friends just know what bitch I can be sometimes....hehe jk. Here's the breakdown:

1. I broke my nose while playing softball in high school when a line drive smacked me in the face. {I did play softball in high school but this happened to my coach, not me.}
2. The first thing I ever said to my husband when we met was an insult. {Ding ding ding! This is sad but true! I called him a jerk for no apparent reason. Keep in mind I was only 18 when we met so basically it was my immature attempt at flirting/getting his attention. I guess it worked!}
3. I changed my major 3 times in college. {I went in as a Marketing major, and came out as a Marketing major.}
4. I had a total meltdown/freakout on my wedding day. {I think everyone expected me to have a meltdown because I can be a bit neurotic sometimes, but I was cool as a cucumber on the big day!}
5. I was/am a pretty good pianist. I even played in Carnegie Hall when I was 10. {BAHAHA! I've never played a piano in my life. However, my friend's little sister, Amber, DID play in Carnegie Hall when she was about 10 years old...she was a prodigy!}
6. I've spent the night in jail before. {Mannnn I was hoping more people would pick this one. I guess I really come off as the goodie goodie that I am! I've never even gotten a traffic ticket.}
7. I used to be such a neat freak that I would clean my friend's rooms for them when I would play at their houses. {Uh no. I'm not and never have been a neat freak. My BFF, Kim, used to do this though. She would come over to my house to play and end up having to clean my room before she could focus on playing. LOL. Love ya, Kim!}

That was fun! Thanks for playing!

Pizza, Pizza! {What's for Dinner 3/12/2010}

Another Friday during Lent, another no-meat pizza! This time we took some homemade pizza dough out of the freezer and loaded it up with mushrooms, red onion, fresh basil, garlic & red bell pepper {no bell pepper on my half though}.

Alex PILED his side up...mine was more modest.


Unfortunately this pizza was just okay. I don't think we let our frozen dough come to room temperature for long enough because it really didn't rise at all. Plus we didn't have enough dough so it ended up being a reaaally thin crust. Alex also tried a new trick to make the pizza sauce stretch a little further by adding tomato paste to it...I didn't like it this way at all. It just tasted like pure tomato paste to me with no spices or flavor. Oh well, you live and you learn! It was a good idea in theory. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Girl Time x 2 {What's for Dinner 3/10/2010 & 3/11/2010}

I was lucky enough during this deployment to have awesome Army wife friends who were also going through a deployment. We laughed together, cried together, drank together, fought occasionally, and spent oodles and oodles of time together. Although we had only known each other for a max of 6 months, we bonded as though we had been friends for years and years. We spent just about every weekend together almost non-stop and often met up during the week too. I can attribute this deployment going by so quickly largely in part to these girls.

Since most of our husbands have returned, one of the biggest adjustments has been the sudden decrease in girl time. Granted, we still get together about once a week but usually we bring the husbands along. And although the husbands tend to seclude themselves away from us crazy women on the back porch or as far away from us as possible, it still doesn't count as true "girl time".

So last night and tonight are all about "girl time" and I'm super excited about it. No matter how much you love and adore your husband, girl's nights are an essential part of staying sane!

3/10/2010
Last night I went to a "coffee" which is basically just a get-together with the wives in my husband's unit. The host served sandwiches.

3/11/2010
Tonight I have BUNCO with my girlfriends. I'm super excited and hoping I don't have as bad of luck as I did last time. I don't know what Amanda is serving but I'm sure it will be delicious!

In honor of my nostalgia for our constant, year-long girl time I'm going to share some photos of me and my amazing friends that were taken over the past year.


Wedding fun



Posing and getting stared at like we were crazy by passerby





Jumping for joy on top of Enchanted Rock




A summer backyard party



Official photo shoot...I love this one.




Having fun at a Country dance hall




Introducing some of my non-Texan friends to the Dixie Chicken



P.S. A special shout out to Emma, Danielle & Angie...we miss you girls so much!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pleased with Pork {What's for Dinner? 3/9/2010}

Crispy Apricot Pork Chops
with Pesto Potatoes
and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

This technique for this Crispy Apricot Pork Chop recipe is very similar to the Panko Crusted Cod I made recently, except the "glue" is apricot jam instead of dijon mustard. I love this method of breading meat because it's so easy and it adds tons of flavor, as opposed to using plain old beaten egg.

In this case the apricot jam didn't come through strong at all {which is good since I'm not a big fan of fruity meat}. It mostly just gave the meat a vaguely sweet flavor that was really good! We both gave it two thumbs up for taste AND quickness. The pork only has to bake in the oven for about 15 minutes so this truly is a 30 minute meal...actually more like 20 minutes!

My changes to the recipe are noted below in red. It's a keeper!!


Crispy Apricot Pork Chops
Source: Everyday Food

Prep: 10 minutes Total: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Serves 4.

* 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
* 2 slices multigrain sandwich bread {I just used pre-packaged bread crumbs because I'm lazy}
* 4 bone-in pork loin chops (about 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick), patted dry {we used boneless chops}
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 4 teaspoons apricot jam


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil {or just spray with Pam like I did}; set aside.
2. Tear bread into large pieces; place in food processor. Pulse until large crumbs form. Drizzle with oil; pulse once or twice, just until crumbs are moistened (you should have about 1 1/2 cups crumbs). {Omit this step if you're using pre-packaged bread crumbs}
3. Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper; spread one side of each chop with 1 teaspoon jam. Dividing evenly, sprinkle breadcrumbs over jam, and pat them on gently.
4. Transfer pork, coated side up, to prepared baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden and pork is opaque throughout (meat should register 150 degrees.on an instant-read thermometer), 14 to 16 minutes. Serve immediately.


Pesto Potatoes:

Toss steamed or boiled red potatoes {cut into quarters} with pesto. Season with salt & pepper. The end. :)