The easiest Easter cupcakes ever!

Hiya, everybody! :D It’s Easter weekend!! The bunny is coming, and bringing sugar to small children that will make them bounce even further off the walls than normal! Friends are gathering, people are worshiping, and the flowers are blooming.

Thank goodness it’s finally spring…Cross fingers, anyway. It was 34 with a wind chill of 28 just four days ago here…*sigh* Four more weeks and I will be done with my degree! It’s so close I can taste it! And then I can blog all the time again! :D And have hobbies! And a life!

Anyway, my friend Dawn is having an Easter dinner tomorrow night, and I have volunteered to make dessert! Only because I found the most adorable recipe on Pinterest and *had* to make it, though! And, of course, I will be cheating a little bit just to make things easier. :) The cupcakes will resemble teeny weeny egg nests, and I am *SOOOOOO* excited! I hope that people will eat them and enjoy them, and think they’re as cute as I do!

So what are we waiting for, let’s get started!

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First, get some cake mix. I grabbed yellow cake because it’s my favorite. :) Next to carrot cake (but people probably wouldn’t want carrot cake for Easter). Then I cheated and got Easy Frost icing cans in chocolate (to be the brown nest!), and finally, some Robin Eggs.

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Mix the cake mix according to the package directions. Mine called for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used canola), and 1 cup of water.

IMG_20140419_154958783Put your cute little cupcake liners in your pan and fill them ~1/2 way with the cake mix. As you see above, I didn’t have a ladle small enough so I used a gravy ladle. Heh. My mom used to use ice cream scoops. Use whatever works.

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Bake them for 12-17 minutes, until they are done and a toothpick comes out clean. The mix should make ~24 cupcakes. Cool them for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. :)

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In the middle of making the cupcakes, I decided that the ladle wasn’t working for me. My mom needed to go to the local mall for something, so I offered to drive her and we swung into Bed, Bath & Beyond for this little gem. EASIEST LADLING EVERRRRRRRR! Seriously, I don’t know why I waited so long for this.

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When the cupcakes had cooled completely, I went ahead and started with the icing. I’ve never used the canned stuff before, but it turns out to be pretty darn easy! :) Press down, out it comes. Bonus! It has a star tip on it!

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Work the icing around the top of the cupcake like a bird’s nest, and then put two of your whopper Robin Eggs on top. Voila! :D Easy, quick, cute, affordable, and totally fun for Easter!!

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And there you have it! A nice little set of eggs nests, all ready for your Easter! And since I will be taking them somewhere, I bought this AWESOME cupcake transporter, that has its own separate little cupcake tower that you can use by itself, or keep in the carrier! Genius!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Happy Easter!

Happy-Easter-23

 

 

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No Knead Artisan Bread

NOMNOM CARBOHYDRATES NOMNOM.

Let’s be honest, who *doesn’t* love a good loaf of bread? Who doesn’t love the smell of it as it bakes in the oven? Who doesn’t love the sensuous feeling of warm bread dripping with butter melting on your tongue….

Okay, sorry, I got lost in a fantasy world for a second daydreaming about bread.

In case you can’t tell, that’s the topic of today’s blog! :) Easy bread, to boot! As most of you know, I have possessed a Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven since last winter. Best. Purchase. Ever…in case you were wondering. Anyway, I am always on the lookout for things to make in my dutch oven. It is AMAAAZING for braising ribs, I recently tried an Irish beef stew in it (it was so delicious!), often make soups with it, you name it, I use the dutch oven for it. So as you can imagine, when I came across this little beauty on Pinterest, I pinned it right away with the intention of trying it VERY SOON!

And then school started up again, I got bogged down with homework, the usual stuff. The bread idea was placed on the figurative back burner and all but forgotten. But a few days ago, my best friend finally got her first dutch oven! She was so excited! I was so excited! OMG YAY DUTCH OVENS ARE EXCITING! She wanted suggestions for things to cook in her new toy, and while linking her various recipes I remembered: THE BREAD! “Ohhh yeaaaaah,” I thought “I want to make this too!” So I did.

As many of you know, the eastern seaboard has yet again been graced by Father Winter, who is cranky and stubborn and just doesn’t seem to want to leave this year!! Last Wednesday, it snowed…didn’t stick, just snowed and looked menacing, and it took me more than two hours to get to school for a 50 minute class. I was very, very upset. So last night, I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere today if the flakes started falling, and then school closed, so I didn’t have to worry about it anyway. Given that this particular bread requires 12-18 hours of rise time, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make it. Start it yesterday, let it sit overnight, finish it up today, watch the snow, smell the bread, be warm from the oven – perfection!

The only trouble was, I needed more whole wheat flour. UH OH! I went to the store and got some, but not before experiencing the mad house that is Maryland people before a winter storm. For some reason, snow = end of days in this state, and everyone panics and buys everything from the grocery store the day before. It’s stupid – GUYS, I PROMISE: THE SNOW WILL MELT AND THERE WILL BE NO SHORTAGE OF FOOD. Thankfully, since everyone was at Giant panicking, I was able to get in and out of Target at a relatively good speed. Remember that next time you can’t park at a grocery store the day before snow, folks – Target has a grocery section. They sell flour. :P Nyeh nyeh.

And so the process began:

I don’t have any photos of the ingredients, but know that you will need 6 cups of bread flour, 1/2 tsp of instant or active dry yeast, 2.5 tsp of salt, and 2 & 2/3 cup of cool water. I subbed 3 cups of whole wheat flour for 3 of the cups of bread flour. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water.

For not the first time yesterday, I found myself wishing I had a KitchenAid mixer. Doesn’t everyone want one of those at some point? Ugh, I needed that bread paddle yesterday (though a much cheaper alternative that I am going to look into is a danish dough whisk. It’s $10 to the KitchenAid’s $400). Let it be known, though, that the puny dough hooks and wimpy motor on my hand mixer actually worked long enough to incorporate the dough. I didn’t have much faith in it to start, but as long as I nursed it along patiently, it did well. I finished up by wetting my hands (the dough was ever so slightly too dry) and getting the rest of the dough ball mixed up. I had to add one extra tablespoon of water to get the right consistency (I find whole wheat to be a “thirstier” flour).

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Okay, so maybe it’s not the most glamorous thing in the world, but let’s face it, folks…It’s a ball of dough. YIPPEE. I then covered it with plastic wrap and set it on top of my fridge (it’s the warmest spot in my kitchen and also out of the way of fur balls that think it’s okay to walk on the counter tops).

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It is supposed to rise for 12-18 hours….Look at that bad boy go! I was curious, so I peeked while I was making dinner. I couldn’t help myself!

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And then I checked again before bed….JUST TO BE SURE THE YEAST WAS WORKING! (We have had yeast in our freezer for ages. By the way, if you’re going to use yeast that you’ve frozen, let it get to room temperature first, okay? Okay. Also, if you’re unsure as to whether it is still active or not, follow this simple instruction guide to tell if your yeast is still viable.)

IMG_20140303_085815936Good morning, snow day! I like what you’ve done with the place.

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And here is that beauty this morning. Looks gooooooood. You will know your dough is ready when it’s all bubbly and smells super yeasty. To me it smelled like beer, so I knew it was good to go.

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On a well floured surface, and with well floured hands, roll that bad boy out of the bowl and work it into a ball. Flour a piece of parchment paper or a tea towel and put the dough ball seam side down on it. Cover with another towel and let rise for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size. I have a lot of homework to get done today, so in order to make sure I kept the correct schedule for this bread, I anal retentively set an alarm for an hour and 30 minutes.

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Why an hour and 30 instead of 2 hours, you ask? Because for the last 30 minutes of the rising process, you’re going to want to place a dutch oven (or any heavy oven proof pot that has a lid) in a cold oven and bring it up to 425 degrees. If you’re not sure whether your dutch oven’s handle can…well…handle 425 degrees, wrap it in aluminum foil. I *think* mine is okay, but…just to be sure, I wrapped it anyway. Because I like my dutch oven and I want it to last for a long time.

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Eeyup, I’d say that effectively doubled in size! (After 2 hours)

IMG_20140303_121115090Slide your hand under the parchment paper and flip the dough into the dutch oven. BE CAREFUL, IT’S HOT! DON’T TOUCH THE EDGES!! Now the seam will be up. Put the top back on and stick that bad boy in the oven for 40 minutes. Mmmmmmmm, do you SMELL THAT??? *drool*

IMG_20140303_125204350After the 40 minutes has passed, take the top off and cook for 10 more minutes to make a nice crust. HOT DAMN, LOOK AT THAT! I almost didn’t want to put it back in the oven!

IMG_20140303_130255477 But I did. And man was it worth it….It’s so beautiful! *tear*

IMG_20140303_130440649It is now going to take every collective ounce of self control and restraint available in this house to let this cool down all the way before we cut into it. Once the Ryan wandered out here and spied it, there might just be was mutiny (“What? Why do we have to wait? What’s this nonsense? I don’t know what you’re talking about!” *grumbles and walks away pouting*). But I will emphasize again: DO NOT CUT INTO IT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED! Doing so will ruin the bread’s consistency and make it gummy and dense. Nobody wants that, do they? Didn’t think so.

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After hours of being pestered by the Ryan, the bread was finally read to cut. BEHOLD THE DELICIOUSNESS. I spread a little honey on mine. Mmmmm, good. ;) The Ryan hasn’t spoken in a few minutes, so I will interpret that to mean he enjoys it.

Well, what are you waiting for? GO BAKE SOME BREAD!!!

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Chicken Parmesan

Hello there, everyone! :D

It’s Sunday, and it’s supposed to be a lazy day, but alas, it is far from it! Actually, it has been a half lazy day. We’re cleaning our house, but we’re doing it slowly. We’ve got guests coming on Tuesday, and we helped our friends move to a beautiful new house yesterday (omg I want one!), so it has been an active weekend. Needless to say, we’re not in the biggest hurry to clean our own house today. The living room looks good, though, as does the hallway. I’m half cleaning the kitchen in between errands, eating lunch, and surfing the Gardening section of Pinterest.

The other night, when the Polar Vortex was still visiting us, I made the Ryan and I chicken parmesan, but lightened up, SkinnyTaste style! I love Skinny Taste! I wish I could just jump through the computer screen and eat all the food she posts! And I love her alternative and low calorie spins on traditional foods! Since it was about 7 degrees outside, a 450 degree oven didn’t actually sound all that bad! Plus, it gave me a chance to use my new rack for the oven! Win/Win, right?

Anyway, let’s get started!

IMG_20140108_184105059 First, let’s get started with ingredients. The SkinnyTaste Recipe called for seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs. I didn’t have that, though, so I used Panko bread crumbs that I crushed up to be a bit smaller, and then added some Italian Seasoning to the plate. It’s lazy seasoned bread crumbs, yay! And a special thanks to my friend Emily, who always sends me Penzey’s Spices for Christmas/Birthday/Wedding, whatever. I *love* them. They smell good, they taste amazing, and they are excellent quality! Anyway, I used their Italian Seasoning and it was sooooooo good.

IMG_20140108_184708963 My chicken breasts were a bit fat on one side and I was worried about them cooking unevenly, so I put a sheet of wax paper over them and went to town with my meat tenderizer (the flat side not the pointy side) to get them evenly thick.

IMG_20140108_185300646 I melted two tbls of butter and used a kitchen brush to paint the butter on each side of the chicken. I then dipped the chicken in the bread crumbs. I totally forgot to put the parmesan cheese in the bread crumb mixture, so I just sprinkled some on top. I lined a cookie sheet with foil and then put the chicken breasts on my baking rack. I then stuck them in my 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.

IMG_20140108_191824165While the chicken was cooking, I put some of the marinara sauce in a small pot to be warmed, and started some noodles. Gina’s recipe calls for linguine, but I had some leftover whole wheat “egg” noodles from some soup I made a couple weeks ago, and decided to use those instead. I got a pot of water boiling for those and then put them in.

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I also grated some mozzarella cheese, which is super un-fun since it’s a soft cheese. A trick I learned thanks to the masterful internet is to freeze the cheese a bit before you grate it to make it easier. Thank you, internet!

IMG_20140108_192219172After 20 minutes, I flipped the chicken and spooned one tablespoon of marinara sauce over each breast, and then topped with mozzarella cheese. I put them back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

IMG_20140108_193002113 Et voila! I drained my noodles and plated them up with the marinara that I’d warmed in my pot, placed the chicken over the noodles, and topped with some freshly chopped parsley.

Easy, quick, warm, delicious! The Ryan was amazing and surprised me with Episode 2 of the new season of Sherlock, which he had DVR’d without me knowing! AHHHHHH BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH! *Swoon* Let’s be honest: Smaug (bonus points since John Watson is also Bilbo Baggins! :D), Khan, AND Sherlock Holmes? Oh yeah, baby. He’s the celebrity crush that will never be fulfilled. And that’s okay! :D

sherlock-benedict-cumberbatch   Well, I guess I’d better go finish cleaning…….or something………*sigh* Have a great day!

 

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Sausage Egg “McMuffin”

Goooooooood evening, friends. I’m actually going to make a breakfast (in case you couldn’t figure out by the title)!

I found the recipe on Pinterest (don’t I find basically everything there? I mean, come on), and it’s actually a Paleo recipe. The Ryan and I do not eat Paleo, so I am not going to follow the recipe exactly (I only have margarine, not ghee, and I bought my sausage from Giant. It’s the Bob Evans kind. It was on sale), but the principle will be the same.

In fact, I ordered pastry rings specifically to try this. But in all honesty, I needed some pastry rings. So this just happened to work out! I’m excited to try them, and I figured I could pre-make these, wrap them up in some foil, and send the Ryan and myself to work with them tomorrow and Friday. We can nuke them up in the microwave real quick at work, and they’re nice, filling protein without the added carbs of buns. :) Sounds win-win to me (and they’re only 220 calories, so I’ll happily add in my normal morning oatmeal for some nice, filling fiber. OHYEAH, FIBER. You know you wanna eat it).

BUT! Before I get started, I have to show you the greatest thing I just discovered. I’m probably late to the game, but the Ryan and I don’t generally set foot in the yogurt section of the store…the closest we come is when we buy milk or half and half, and that’s still down the aisle from yogurt. We were eating it more often a little while back, but that was before I had to take a massive hours cut at work. Sadly, yogurt (the good kind, at least) is expensive. ;__; When I graduate, I’ll eat so much yogurt…Mmmm.

Anyway, check these out:

ImageThese are so good. I have so far only tried the vanilla golden crunch and a raspberry chocolate vanilla one (which isn’t pictured. BECAUSE I ATE IT), and I like the vanilla one the best. But I’m looking sooooooooooooo forward to the rest of these. Chobani, you’ve got the right idea, friends. Don’t stop making these! :D They make my heart happy. 

And another gratuitous off-topic picture, I just walked into our bedroom and look what I saw:

ImageIn my next life, I would like to be our cats. Thanks.

SO! Let’s get started with those work breakfasts! (Complete with iTunes spewing out Angry Scottish Pirate Metal. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? It’s definitely a genre.)

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First, let’s cook the sausage patties. They came pre-shaped, but as it turns out, my muffin rings are a bit wider, so I smooshed them down to make them a little wider and to help them cook a wee bit faster. I melted some butter before putting them in there, btw. Well, margarine. But you get it.

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When the sausages were cooked, I set them aside and placed the rings in the pan, after melting a bit more margarine. I forgot to grease the rings – oops! Note to self: next time, use Pam. I then cracked the eggs on in there and seasoned them with salt & pepper.

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After the eggs solidified a bit, I poured in 1/4 cup of water and *tried* to cover them. Hah, I don’t have a lid that large, so I just set them over. When that didn’t seem to be working, I flipped a stainless steel bowl (that was the correct diameter) on top of the pan and set that over everything. :) 

One thing I hate about this stove: It’s UNEVEN!! But the leg is broken so we can’t fix it. And we’re renting, so I’m not inclined to fix it. Not my problem. But oh man does it annoy the al;skdjf;lasdkflkjfff!!!! out of me.

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, there. Cooked. Granted, they’re not the picture of perfection, and I might use a different pan next time, but…They look good, no? :) At least, I think they do. Edible, anyway (so my pictures aren’t super fancy. I’m an archaeologist, not an artist, sorry).

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I gave the Ryan the better ones, because I always give him the better cooked ones of all things. That’s probably why he sticks around. That, and he’s married to me now. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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So they’re not the most beautiful, but I’m still looking forward to eating them. I wrapped them in foil and stuck ‘em in the fridge. Tomorrow I will nuke for 30 seconds and NOMNOMNOM. I hope the Ryan will do the same, but he would probably just eat them straight up. Because that’s how he rolls.

HAPPY BREAKFAST!

 

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Sesame Chicken – Done Easy!

Man, guys, I’m telling you. Today is surely not Monday but boy does it feel like it. Today was one of those days where you are certain by 9 am that you will need a glass of wine by the end of the day, even if you don’t know why. As it turns out, it was an ever-so exciting day at work, what with the men’s bathroom on the first floor catching on fire, and pipes bursting in at least three separate places of the building, flooding the third and second floors (that we know of)…After standing outside in 11 degree weather complete with a windchill of -5 (cold as heck but thankfully not as cold as it was this morning when I left for work) for about 30 minutes, just as we were starting to complain about not being able to feel our toes, we were all directed back inside and told to resume our business. Yep, the Federal Government will close for an inch of snow and clear roads, but won’t send its employees home after a fire and some flooding.

To top that off, I tried to grab a prescription on my way home, and since they didn’t have my new insurance yesterday, rather than call me, they just set it aside and decided not to fill it. You know, until I came in to get it and then told me I’d have to wait. That’s okay, I’ll get it tomorrow.

SO! How’s that Polar Vortex working out for YOU?

The good news, however, is that when I got home from work today, I received an email from my school congratulating me on being in the top 15% of my class. :) Well thank you! That made my evening slightly better. As did coming home and not finding any of my pipes burst or any leaks (yet) anywhere in the apartment. The night is looking up. Maybe when the Ryan comes home from work we can snuggle and enjoy some good ol’ bad TV together. And, of course, have dinner.

Tonight, I was feeling like something quick, tasty, and warm, so I opted for stir fried sesame chicken. Of course, I found the recipe on Pinterest, because with this cool winter break thing that I’m doing, I actually have free time at the end of the day. What I’ll do with myself after I graduate in May remains a mystery. Hopefully perfect my ability to make omelets (because last night I tried for the first time, and let’s just say that the Ryan is a gracious guy. I didn’t find the omelet I made him in the trash this morning, so I think that means he ate it. What a trooper). I kind of suck at omelets at the moment.

So let’s get started!

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First, for the chicken, you will need 1 lb of chicken thighs cut into 1″ cubes. I didn’t have a pound, so I used 10ish ounces. Mix together one large egg (I did two) and two tbls of cornstarch in a bowl, then add the chicken and toss.

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Heat 2 tbls of oil in a wok and let it get hot. Then add the chicken. DON’T BE TEMPTED TO MOVE THE CHICKEN ALL AROUND!! That is my worst offense, and I messed it up the first time I did it. Leave it be for a few and let it get nice and crispy golden before you go tossing things around. When you turn it over, then would be a good time to add any veggies if you want to. I added snap peas.

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While the chicken is cooking, mix up the sauce. You will need 2 tbls soy sauce, 1 tbls water (I used rice wine instead), 1/2 tbls sesame oil, 1.5 tbls brown sugar, 1.5 tbls rice vinegar, one inch piece of ginger, grated, and one garlic clove, minced. I didn’t realize I needed the ginger and garlic until my chicken was almost done, so I added garlic powder and ginger powder. It’s a sin, don’t do it unless you must. It’s soooooooo much better with the fresh stuff. Also, add two tbls sesame seeds.

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I forgot to take a picture of the chicken with the sauce and (in my case) snap peas in the wok together, all nice and pretty. But here they are in a bowl of rice looking beautiful. I sprinkled more sesame seeds on and cut up some green onions for garnish. YUM.

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See? Wasn’t that quick? (P.S. Sorry for crappy phone pictures, the Ryan and I’s camera died in the airport on a layover going to our honeymoon. We photographed our entire honeymoon with our phones :P And didn’t replace our camera).

Enjoy!!

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Holy Yum Chicken (And Happy New Year!)

The title speaks for itself. It’s not my recipe, though. Chances are if you’re on Pinterest, you’ve seen this gem floating around being pinned hither and yon. It’s totally worth pinning. Fifty times. Yeah, I said fifty times. I wish I could make it fifty times a week, but then we’d probably get tired of it, and that would be a shame. Also there aren’t really that many meal opportunities in a week, so…:(

The Ryan and I decided to stay in and have a quiet evening tonight. Our friends are off with their families, other groups of friends, whatever. We weren’t invited anywhere, and that is fine with us. With all the things going on recently, it’s nice to just be able to lay on our couch and do nothing. This evening has consisted of watching Star Trek: Voyager and Stargate: Atlantis. Yeah, SG-1 is better, but Netflix got rid of it. :( CURSE YOU, NETFLIX! Though we got Atlantis on Amazon Prime, so. Meh. Oh, and now a documentary called Secrets of the Sun about how the sun is going to destroy life as we know it by smacking us with a solar flare and killing our electronics (the Ryan always finds the good documentaries). Science!!

Anyway, since it’s a “special occasion,” (though to be fair, 2013 was kind of badass. I got engaged to and then married the Ryan, I met Mommy and Daddy S’s baby Cambria when she was just brand new and a day old and have watched her grow alongside them, I made some amazing new friends, got closer to existing friends, took one more step toward my degree, and got to sit on a tropical beach paradise in Jamaica for a week. I mean, come on! That’s awesome!) I decided to make this recipe. I tried it a while back when we first moved here, and the Ryan liked it so much he actually put it as his favorite food (out of all the things I’ve ever made him! Lol!) on the questionnaire game we did for my bridal shower. Clearly, he digs it. And I don’t blame him, I love it too. It’s called “Holy Yum Chicken,” and oh man, does the title totally do it justice. But enough of me raving about it, you should make it yourself. And here’s how:

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I was a little bit tired, and had mixed the ingredients before I decided, hey, I should blog this! It has been a looooooong day. Actually it has been a long week, y’all. Santa was good and all, but I’m tired! Anyway, for the sauce you’ll need 1/2 cup dijon mustard (Emeril’s is my favorite: I can actually read all of the ingredients on the label, and I think it tastes better. Especially in this recipe. No, Emeril isn’t paying me to say that. But wouldn’t it be badass if he did? Hellooooo, money! But I digress). You will also need 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. REAL. MAPLE. SYRUP. Not Log Cabin (as much as I love it) or sugar free nonsense, the real deal. And then 1-2 tbls of rice vinegar. I like to use 2 tbls because I find one leaves the sauce a bit too sweet for my liking. But it’s up to your taste. I like the tang. Add that deliciousness to a bowl and whisk it till it’s nice and smooth and ya can’t whisk no more!

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The original recipe calls for 1.5-2 lbs** boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I made the super fabulous mistake of only thawing out one chicken thigh that was folded in on itself and looked like two. WHOOPS! I frantically ran out to the grocery store to get more (as my oven was heating to a whopping 450 degrees, yep, you read that right), and elbowed my way through the New Years Eve crowd to find: bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Well, crap. But that’s all there was that was organic, so I bought it and just dealt with it. I cut off all the skin and fat, and voila (having the bone there didn’t make a difference that we could tell anyway).

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Line an 8×8 pan with a double layer of tin foil (trust me, do it. Two layers), and stick your beautiful chicken thighs on in there. Salt and pepper each side, and then pour your mix right in. Move them around to get them nice and coated with the sauce on both sides. Mmmmm, look at that. Stuff those bad boys in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cut up some potatoes and tossed them in olive oil, seasoned salt, garlic powder, pepper, and a dash of paprika and stuck them in my new (YAY WEDDING STUFF!!!) Le Creuset 9×9 bake pan. :D Lined with foil, of course, but I love that thing! Best. Cleanup. Ever. Anyway, I baked those for 30 minutes (so 10 minutes after the chicken went in – it’s real easy to prep when you’re lazy and chop them with the skin on :D).

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Mmmmm, out of the oven. Look at those bad boys. While it bakes, you will be drooling, it smells soooooooooo amazing. Let them sit for about 5 minutes, and then remove them to a plate and cover (or don’t, because you know, 450 degrees is frickin’ hot!). Return the pan to the stove, and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1-2 tablespoons water (this is the only part of the recipe I diverge from, because adding cornstarch directly to the leftover sauce has only ever left me with lumpy grossness, and you’re not really supposed to do that anyway), and whisk to incorporate until the sauce thickens. I’m too lazy for all that, so I just whisk it in and then turn the heat up a smidgen and let it come to a slight boil to thicken (don’t worry about safety, the sauce boils for a long time at 450 in the oven), and then whisk it more and remove it from the heat.

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Pour your sauce over your chicken, and voila! Dinner. :D And it’s soooooooooooooooooo good!!!!  Holy Yum!!! Go make it NOW!

**Normally, I only make 2 thighs and I halve the recipe, but today since I had to go to the store, I ended up making the whole thing. And now the Ryan and I have lunch for tomorrow! :D

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HAPPY NEW YEARS INDEED!!!!

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Tis’ The Season – For Kicking Cancer’s Ass!

Afternoon, folks!

Today I am taking a turn from my normal subject of food to discuss something that is very hard to discuss, but needs to be shared.

As many of you know, I did a post a few months back in which I was preparing food for Mommy and Daddy S for baby girl S’s little arrival. :) She is now 4 months old, and quite a happy little girl.

However, on Thanksgiving, Mommy and Daddy S announced that baby S – her name is Cambria, in case you were wondering, has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer. As you can imagine, Mommy and Daddy S are absolutely crushed…but being the kind of people that they are, they are remaining positive and bright admist it all. The good news is that they found it very, very early. Their pediatrician is amazing, and we just so happen to live close to Washington D.C., and as such, Cambria is able to receive treatment at National Children’s Medical Center. Neuroblastoma is also, I guess, “the” cancer you’d want…if you wanted cancer (which no one does), because it has a very good rate of going into remission, and is actually curable. That’s not a word to use lightly with the “big C.” But it’s possible. And if they hadn’t found this until she was much older, her life would be very different. For now, she’s just a bubbly 4 month old baby that has a bunch of new people paying attention to her and giving her lots of hugs. She has no idea what cancer even is, and that is a blessing in and of itself.

On top of all of that, the people around Mommy and Daddy S are pulling together to support them in any way they can, and the outpouring of support and prayers has been an awesome thing to watch. I am honored that they are my friends, that I know little Cambria, and I am inspired by their strength. :) I can’t even imagine what they are going through.

BUT! I can gain insight. And so can you. Mommy and Daddy S have set up a blog that will detail, for the coming months, Cambria’s fight with this cancer, as it looks as though she will more than likely be going through chemo (something babies are more tolerant of than adults, so it would seem). The blog is written from both Mommy and Daddy S’s perspectives, and it is quite insightful, as well as a great way to stay updated with the goings-on, as there are so many people inquiring.

The internet is an amazing thing these days! So many people can stay connected, share struggles, help each other, and do a bunch of other amazing things.

So today I come to you as a friend of these remarkable parents and this wonderful little baby, and ask for your support in helping them. A cousin of the family set up a donation fund for baby Cambria to help her kick cancer’s ass. With the end of the year, all of the family’s insurance deductibles (their plan has recently been downgraded after the Affordable Care Act’s implementation as well) will be reset to $0, and as you can imagine Mommy S (the breadwinner and only working parent) is not able to work much. Between pregnancy and maternity leave, she is basically out of PTO, so they’re taking a big hit. Any assistance possible is needed, and if there was any time to contribute to a good cause, this would be it. Help these parents help their baby. :) And help make the struggle ahead a bit easier, if you can. If nothing else, Mommy and Daddy S have asked for prayers for baby Cambria. So even if you can’t contribute financially, you can contribute spiritually.

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(Cambria on Thanksgiving)

 

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