September 9, 2010

Pasta alla Vodka

I had this dish for the first time about a month ago at a family reunion and couldn't stop thinking about it, so I had to make it. It's really easy and SO delish! Here's what you need:

1 lb uncooked penne pasta
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vodka
1/2 Cup whipping cream


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. In large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until garlic is golden brown. Add tomatoes and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add vodka and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add pasta, toss 1 minute. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or whatever you have in the fridge).

September 1, 2010

Chicken & Black Bean Burritos

I was looking for an easy meal to make and take the other night when I came across this lovely little number over at bettycrocker.com . This is so easy to make and I think everyone will like it, even picky eaters! Plus they freeze and reheat well (more on that later). Here's what you need:

1 box (7.6oz) Old El Paso Spanish Rice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pkg Old El Paso taco seasoning mix
2/3 Cup water
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained, rinsed
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 Cup sliced green onions (about 5 medium)
1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro - I left this out
1 pkg flour tortillas for burritos (8 tortillas, 8 inch) heated as directed
1 1/2 Cups shredded Cheddar cheese, taco seasoned cheese blend or Mexican cheese blend

In 3-quart saucepan make rice as directed on package, omitting butter. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat 1-2 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in the center. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed. Stir chicken mixture, beans, bell peppers, onions and cilantro into hot rice mixture. If necessary, cook until hot, stirring occasionally. Spoon slightly less than 1 Cup chicken mixture down center of each warm tortilla. Top with cheese. Fold bottom of each tortilla 1 inch over filling. Fold in sides, overlapping to enclose filling. Fold top over sides. Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

*I made a few changes to this when I made it. First I didn't buy any cilantro so I didn't add that, although I'm sure it would be fantastic. Second I used the smaller fajita size tortillas with less filling and it made about 16 smaller burritos. I wrapped each burrito individually in foil and put them in a warm oven (turned off) to melt the cheese inside the burrito. They traveled easily that way, so taking them to someone for dinner was a cinch! I also froze about half of the burritos I made because there were so many. I just put the foil wrapped burritos into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. To reheat just place the frozen burrito(s) into a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until heated through. You could probably thaw them out and cook them quicker, but I was afraid the tortilla might get soggy that way.

I hope you enjoy this super easy, and super delicious Betty Crocker recipe!

August 3, 2010

Cape Cod

I have recently acquired a free flight from Southwest Airlines and I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out where I want to go. Do I go visit an old friend in a place I’ve been before? Do I meet said friend in a new city I haven’t visited yet? Do I go to Orlando because it’s my favorite? Or maybe Los Angeles because I love it there too! Well folks, I think I might have made up my mind. Actually, I think Ali Fedotowsky made up my mind when she ditched Chris L. for the very dreamy Roberto.

Let me explain.

If you don’t know me well, you don’t know of my love obsession for ABC’s The Bachelor/Bachelorette series (see here for my reaction to last night’s finale surprise). The season that ended last night was apparently the 20th season for this show and I’ve only missed 2 of them. One of the seasons I missed because it aired while I was studying abroad in Europe, valid reason, the other season I missed because I couldn’t stand the girl who was the bachelorette that season and I didn’t want to waste my time on her. In case you weren’t counting, that leaves 18 seasons of this show that I have spent wasted my time watching. Needless to say, I have loved and hated many, many participants that have been on each season. Never have I loved the final two bachelor/ettes than I did this season.

When Ali broke Chris’s heart last night Amy, Chelsea and I decided we needed to make a trip to Cape Cod to hunt down this guy, Chris, and force him to fall in love with one of us.


As I’ve looked on Facebook and Twitter today, I’ve noticed we aren’t the only ones who had this idea. So we might be in for a fight with some other ladies who fell in love with this sweet, sweet guy while watching The Bachelorette this season.

I really hope he doesn’t turn out to be The Bachelor on the next season of the show; he’s way too good for that.

**If you know, or know someone who knows Chris please contact me immediately**

June 29, 2010

Beef Stir Fry with Orzo

This is a Weight Watcher's recipe, it's a little twist on traditional stir fry. You serve it with orzo pasta instead of rice! It's such a delicious, unique blend of flavors. Try it, it'll quickly become a family favorite. Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups orzo
1 lb. beef flank or sirloin steak
3 green onions
1 large orange
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp grated, peeled ginger root, or 1 tsp ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced

Prepare orzo as label directs; keep warm. Cut steak in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices. Thinly slice green onions. With vegetable peeler, cut peel from orange into thin strips. Squeeze juice from orange into cup measure. You need 2/3 cup of juice (add water if necessary). Into juice cup, stir sugar, soy sauce and cornstarch until blended. In nonstick 12-inch skillet or wok over medium high heat, in hot oil, cook green onion with ginger, garlic and orange peel until tender and lightly browned. With slotted spoon, remove to bowl. In remaining oil, over high heat, cook beef, half at a time, stirring quickly and constantly, until beef loses its pink color, about 2-3 minutes. Return beef to skillet, stir in onion mixture and orange juice mixture, stirring quickly and constantly until mixture boils and thickens slightly. Serve with orzo.

June 24, 2010

Sorry About That...

Sorry about my super long absence from blogging, but I actually have a good excuse this time! My laptop has been out of commission for the past few months and I just got it back! It's now in working condition, so hopefully I'll get back into the swing of blogging and give all my faithful readers (I still have readers, right?) some new recipes to try out.
I've been on a mission to lose weight lately, so my recipes will probably be a little lighter from now on since I can't so much eat those super fattening, buttery things that I used to! Hope that's alright with y'all...

April 10, 2010

Crockpot Black Beans

A while back I decided I should start making my own black beans from dried beans instead of buying the canned kind. There were a few reasons I wanted to do this 1) It's cheaper that way 2) I like that I would control what went into the beans. It took me a while, but I finally got around to making them this week and it was pretty easy. One 16oz bag of dried beans makes approximately the same amount of beans that are in 3 cans and one bag of beans costs about as much as one can of beans. I got the recipe from this fantastic website, if you haven't looked at it before, you should, and you can get some great recipe ideas. The only thing I did different was add some garlic cloves to the water. Here's what you need for the recipe:

1 bag (16oz) black beans
water
crock pot and liner (if you want)

Pour the entire bag of dried beans into a colander and rinse under cold water. If you see any beans that have broken in half, or skin that floats to the surface, get rid of it. Also pick out any beans that look shriveled and gross.

Dump all the beans into your crockpot. Add enough water to cover all the beans and an additional 2 inches.

Cover. Do not turn on. Let the beans soak for at least 6 hours, or overnight. If you live in a very warm area, and the crockpot won't be in a room that is climate-controlled, put the stoneware in the fridge. You don't want bacteria to have the opportunity to grow.

In the morning, dump the water, and rinse your beans. The water will be bean-colored.

Put the beans back into your crockpot and cover with enough fresh water to completely cover the beans with an extra 2-3 inches.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

The beans are done when they are bite-tender. Don't worry if the water hasn't all absorbed. You're going to dump it, anyway.

Drain the beans.

When cool, put 1 2/3 cups of beans into storage containers or freezer bags (you're adding this amount because you aren't adding filler-liquid like the cans have). The beans will store nicely in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for 6 months.

Use as you would canned beans in your favorite recipe.

Like I said, I added a few garlic cloves into the crock pot while the beans were cooking, but I don't think it added any flavor to the beans. I would suggest adding a little salt or other seasonings because the beans have absolutely no flavor when they are done cooking. I love this new method of making beans because it's easy and I know that they are good for me because I control what goes in them.

Hope you enjoy!

March 30, 2010

Tuesday

Wait, I have a blog? I think I totally forgot about it, oops! I'm back though and I'll try to start updating with recipes on a regular basis. But for tonight I will tell you what my night consisted of.
First I got to spend some time with my favorite baby sister, M, who is at a precious age right now, although sometimes she can be quite a terror. Did I say terror? I meant perfect angel. We were watching the intro to Ni Hao, Kai Lan tonight and she started dancing and I'm pretty sure she slapped her butt at one point. I'm not sure where she is learning her dance moves, but I don't think that one is age appropriate.

After I left my parents house I decided I needed some Chinese take-out, it's my favorite. So I called up Great Wall and placed my regular order, cashew chicken with no celery with white rice instead of fried (I mean, at least I try to be somewhat healthy) and an egg roll (cancel that healthy thought). It was delicious as always.

Please ignore the discarded water chestnuts in the background, I detest them.

When I got home it was time for the OKC Thunder game! I love the Thunder and always try to watch the games when I can't be there.

Kevin Durant, up close and personal


And then to top off the evening friends came over to watch Lost, which is in it's final and best season. We gather together almost every Tuesday night to watch Lost and have for the past 3 or 4 years. It's always a good time, no matter who shows up. It had been such a long time since we had been together that we all sat around and talked for a long while after the show was over.



Great friends, great food and some great TV made for an exceptional Tuesday evening. I hope yours were as good as mine was!


March 1, 2010

Cream of Asparagus Soup

I had cream of asparagus soup for the first time a few summers ago in Mexico and fell in love. Since then I've wanted to make some, but I never had enough fresh asparagus on hand. I bought 2 lbs of asparagus this weekend and decided to make some soup. The recipe I found was good and I had everything for it on hand! Here's what you need:



2 lbs asparagus, ends snapped and cut into pieces

4 Cups chicken stock

8 Tbsp butter (I always use unsalted butter so I can control the sodium)

4 Tbsp flour

2 Cups half and half (I used the fat free kind)

kosher salt

pepper



Put asparagus and stock into a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until asparagus is very soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside 2 cups of the broth and keep warm. Puree asparagus and remaining broth in blender then return to the pot and set aside. Melt butter in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook stirring constantly with a whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in reserved broth, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to pot with asparagus puree. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Slowly add in half and half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



Note: Make sure to puree the asparagus well so you don't have large tough pieces in your soup. You can also strain the soup to make sure there aren't any large pieces.



Enjoy!

February 6, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This has been my go to recipe for spinach artichoke dip for years, and its always a huge hit. It's a great dip to take to your Superbowl party, that's why I'm posting it today! I like to just ignore the fact that it has heavy cream and butter in it and just go with it, because it's that good. Here's what you will need:

2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp minced onion
1/4 Cup butter
1/4 Cup flour
2 Cups heavy cream
1/4 Cup chicken broth
2/3 Cup Romano cheese, shredded
1/2 Cup White Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 Cup sour cream
2 10oz boxes frozen, chopped spinach thawed & squeezed dry
1 14oz can drained, coarsely chopped artichoke hearts

In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic and onion in butter until golden, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for one minute. Slowly whisk in cream and broth and continue cooking until boiling. Once boiling, stir in Romano cheese, lemon juice, hot sauce and salt until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir sour cream into mixture then fold in dry spinach and artichoke hearts.
Fold the mixture into a microwave-safe serving dish, or into several serving size dishes. Sprinkle Cheddar evenly on top. The dish may be refrigerated at this point until ready to serve. Microwave dip on 50% power until the cheese has melted.

This is restaurant quality spinach artichoke dip, so give it a try! I promise you will love it.

January 29, 2010

PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake

Well folks, I promised a recipe this week, so here it is. If you don't know who The Pioneer Woman is, well you must be living under a rock, and you need to check out her website and cookbook immediately. My big butt thanks her for all her wonderfully delicious recipes, especially this one. I'm just going to copy this directly from her cookbook. Here's what you'll need:

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk you can add 1 Tbsp vinegar to just under 1/2 cup of regular milk)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder

Icing:
1 3/4 sticks butter
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir together and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Mix with a fork and set aside.
4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and add the cocoa.
5. Whisk together to combine. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup water to a boil.
6. When the butter is melted, pour the boiling water in the pan. Allow to bubble for a moment, then turn off the heat.
7. Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture.
8. Stir together for a moment to cool the chocolate, then pour in the egg mixture.
9. Stir together until smooth, then pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan (or rimmed baking sheet) and bake for 20 minutes.
10. While the cake is baking, make the icing: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. (I just wash out the same one I used for the cake. Makes me feel responsible and productive.)
11. Add the cocoa powder and stir until smooth.
12. Add the milk and vanilla.
13. And powdered sugar. Stir together.
14. Dump in the chopped pecans and stir until well combined.
15. Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, pour the warm icing over the top. You'll want to avoid doing much spreading, so try to distribute it evenly as you pour.

I made this cake last night for the first time, I had eaten it before of course, but it is so easy and quick to make. I had friends over (its so nice to be withing walking distance to most of your friends during an ice storm) for chili and decided last minute that we needed dessert and I had everything to make this. Try it today, you know you want to. And you might eat a piece for breakfast, I'm just saying, it might happen.

January 26, 2010

OKC's Most Eligible Bachelor

If you know of any eligible bachelorettes, or if you are one yourself, please head on over to Amy's blog for information on one of OKC's most eligible bachelors.

January 23, 2010

Water

Here's my entry for Mandy's Photography Friday contest, the theme for this week is water.




I took this picture in F├╝ssen, Germany on my way to Neuschwanstein Castle. I had never before seen water that color, and I don't think I have since then either.

Oh an apparently I need to post more since my last post was for last week's contest...I promise to post a recipe this week!

January 16, 2010

Seeing Red

My entry for Mandy's photo contest






One of the very first things I saw when I arrived in London.
Taken with my very first digital camera, obviously very high quality ha

January 13, 2010

Perspective

This has totally put my life into perspective. I only hope there is something more I can do for these precious people than just pray.

You can donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting Haiti to 90999, they just add the money to your cell phone bill.

January 9, 2010

On the Wings of Love

Okay, so raise your hand if The Bachelor is your guilty pleasure (hand raised). What can I say, this is the 14th season and I've only missed one, and that was because it was on when I was living in Vienna. Needless to say, I love ABC. I have been looking forward to this season in particular because I LOVED Jake when he was vying for the love of Bachelorette Jillian Harris on the last season of the Bachelorette. He's from the Dallas area and he just seems like a nice southern gentleman. I mean, I would definitely date him, just saying. So anyway, Monday was the big day, the reveal of the 25 lucky ladies who would spend 6 or so weeks trying to win the love of one Jake Pavelka. Amy K came over to watch with me, its a tradition for us, we've been watching the show together for like almost 8 years, since my freshman year of college. I had obviously looked through their profiles online beforehand and chosen my favorites.



These girls are hands down the trashiest girls that have ever walked through the doors of the Bachelor mansion. I can't even begin to tell you how many bad pilot jokes these girls came up with (because our Bachey is a pilot) and how many of them flat out embarrassed me by what they said. My favorite would have to be Channy from Cambodia who said something to Jake in her native language and told him to find her if he wanted to know what she said. And do you know what she said to him? Brace yourselves, this is bad, real bad. She said to him "You can land your plane on my landing strip anytime". Yeah, she went there.



Nothing, and I do mean nothing, will ever compare to the moment when she said that to him, he was obviously speechless.



To end the show we like to have our own special drinks during the rose ceremony, our favorite, peach Bellini s(recipe here).



Oh, did I mention that we like to get really dressed up to watch the show? Yeah we do!
Come on over on Monday nights at 7 to enjoy this embarrassment to women all over the world with us.