Monthly Archives: July 2012

Orange Peel Beef

I know, I know, a stir fry. But that’s okay! πŸ™‚ It’s a meal that, while not particularly quick (because peeling an orange is kind of obnoxious), is still particularly good. I’m sure most of you have been to a Chinese restaurant and either seen orange peel beef on the menu, or eaten it. Having worked at PF Changs, orange peel beef was something that was seen quite a lot on Friday and Saturday nights.

Now, I never cooked the beef. I was not a wok cook, I was a pantry cook. I did eat the heck out of the leftover oranges, though. The restaurant ordered bulk oranges (and the poor sous chef would stand there and peel the everliving daylights out of them all) specifically for the orange peel beef. All I ever made that had orange juice in it was…well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you. But it only required the juice of 1 orange, not 50. So we kept them and would occasionally eat them because there was no sense throwing them away.

I was looking for a simple recipe, which I can always reliably find in my Easy Chinese Stir Fries book – you know the one, I featured it in the Yangzhou Slippery Shrimp recipe I did. I came home from work and looked up the recipe to see what I’d need, and after a bit of surfing the interwebs for alternative recipes just in case, I decided to go ahead and stick with the book. Not because the internet recipes sounded bad, but because a lot of them had a very looong list of ingredients, and you know what, I’m just not feeling the need to make a 16 ingredient sauce for my beef tonight. And I don’t particularly feel like taking a bazillion steps to prepare the food either. I just want to eat. It’s one of my favorite things to do in this world.

And for all of you ladies (and gents) out there that have other things you want to do with your evening (I dunno about you, but for me that consists of gaming with the Ryan and watching Stargate..now not only SG-1 but Atlantis as well), I wanted to give you something that didn’t require inordinate amounts of time in front of the wok. Or pan. Whatever you want to use.

Let’s get started!

You will need: Light soy sauce (3 tbls), Chinese rice wine/dry sherry (1 tbls and 2 tsp, divided), cornstarch (1 tbls), canola oil (1/2 cup), 1/4 cup peeled orange rind or orange zest, ginger (2 tbls, minced and peeled), garlic (1 tbls minced), scallions (2, minced), chicken broth (1/4 cup), sugar (2 tsp) and whole chile peppers (6; I couldn’t find these at my grocery store, so I used chile pepper flakes).

In a medium bowl, add 1 tbls of the soy sauce, 2 tsp of rice wine and the cornstarch. Whisk together and then add the beef. Toss to coat well.

Peel or zest your oranges being careful to avoid the rind. Bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil.

Boil the orange peels/zest for 3-4 minutes.

Rinse in cold water and shake dry. I laid mine out on a paper towel, as shown.

In another bowl, prepare you r scallions, ginger and garlic, and set aside.

Finally, in a third bowl, mix together 2 tbls soy sauce, 1 tbls wine, the sugar and the broth.

In your wok, heat the 1/2 cup of oil on high (I didn’t use that much, I only used a little less than a quarter cup). When oil is heated, stir up the beef mixture and add to wok. Cook the beef until no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain the beef.

Add the additional 2 tbls to the wok and once heated, add the orange peel, ginger, garlic, scallions and chiles. Stir over high heat for approximately a minute, or until the garlic starts to color (don’t let it burn!)

Return the beef to the pan along with the soy sauce/sugar/broth mixture and cook until the liquid is almost gone, 3-5 more minutes.

For fun, I added broccoli which I pre-steamed for about a minute.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

Warning: This is spicy! If you’re a wuss like me, cut back/omit the chiles!!

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Rad Cat and Our Cats

Several posts ago, I wrote about the Ryan and I researching kitty anatomy and making the choice to switch our cats over to a raw diet. After many weeks of transitioning them over from kibble to wet food, our little black trouble maker Lestat finally decided to refuse to eat his wet food as well (no, he is not sick, he’s just a diva), prompting us to go ahead and make the final transition from wet to raw.

In our research, we found that pre-made raw cat food is pretty darn expensive. The highest quality pre-made raw cat food that you can buy has been Feline’s Pride across the board. We have read many websites by many veterinarians and all have come to that conclusion. The only problem for us was that a few pounds of cat food, along with shipping, came out to be a bit over $100. Yikes! Our cats together eat one pound of food every 2 days, so that was a bit much for our liking. That’s where the Ryan, being the resourceful dude that he is, found a comparable and highly-rated Feline’s Pride competitor by the name of Rad Cat. And it just so happened that a holistic pet store down the road from us sells the stuff. (If you live in the greater District, Maryland and Virginia area, and are interested, click here for the link and address to where you can score some Rad Cat for yourself.)

So we did what any curious cat owners would do and we punched the address into our GPS and headed off. The cat food still is expensive, coming in at $8.59 a pound before tax (which is around $30 a week in cat food!), but at least we don’t have to pay shipping. It’s not too far from our house, either, so we are definitely spending less in gas than we would in shipping.

Our goal is to acquire a meat grinder and eventually make our own cat food – the Dutch market sells giant bags of chicken hearts for cheap, and entire rabbits for about $19. They also sell turkey necks and all kinds of other lovely animal parts that our cats would go gaga over. Broken down per pound, if we were to make it ourselves (grinding bones, buying and splitting up/adding the supplements and all), the cost is significantly less – more along the lines of $1-2 per pound as opposed to almost $9. The time and pain-in-the-butt-ness is more, but after seeing the reactions and the behavior differences that are already apparent in our cats, it is worth our time and the extra effort. That extra money per month that we would be saving my making our own cat food would quickly add up as well, so it’s definitely the right choice for us.

Because the food is raw, it is frozen to keep it safe (just like we freeze our own meats), and should be thawed out only when you are portioning/ready to feed your cats the food. We bought our cats chicken and turkey, but they also sell lamb. Since organic lamb is not something the Ryan and I can get our hands on, we chose not to buy that flavor.

In order to portion our cats’ food, we decided to go with filling each of these 8 oz containers with 4 oz of food – 2 oz per cat per container. Our cats weigh 11 and 13 lbs, so 4 oz per day for each cat is about right for their respective weights. We bought these reusable Ziploc containers at our local grocery store, I believe that we got like 8 of them in a pack for $3-4. As you can see in the background, we used a food scale to measure the amount we put into each container for the best accuracy. Don’t be too disgusted with it – it looks gross, and as it thaws, it BECOMES gross, but it is what it is. It’s raw meat. Ground up raw meat. With supplements in it. It’s not going to be pretty.

Freeze the food you are not going to use immediately and refrigerate what you will use. We choose to have two containers in the fridge, and as we feed the cats breakfast/dinner, we drop a new container from the freezer into the refrigerator so it can begin thawing to be ready for future use.

Again, not glamorous, but Lestat likes it so much he has taken to meowing his face off and attempting to climb our legs while we prepare the food. He’s smart enough not to use his claws while he “climbs” us, which works out in our favor, but leaves him looking rather ridiculous. We have only been feeding them the Rad Cat for about a week, but we have already noticed that they are more playful, more alert, and seem to be held over longer by this food than prior food. After they eat, they each lick their paws and their whiskers to clean up and then they run around playing for a while. It’s nice to see them so spry and happy.

Lestat has also had severe abdominal/digestive issues, and suffered from extreme bloating with his prior foods due to his sensitivity. I am happy to report that the bloating reduced significantly when we took him off of kibble and switched him to wet food (I believe now that the bloating wasn’t really a problem with him specifically so much as his body’s inability to process the grain), and now that he is on raw, the bloating is completely gone. I believe that if his intestines could say thanks, they would. He seems to be much more comfortable as well (he used to go hide and lay down after his meals, I guess to ‘digest’ comfortably..now he plays and cuddles us instead).

If you would like to compare notes between Rad Cat and Feline’s Pride, or you would like further reading about feeding your cat a raw diet, I have provided a list of links below for you:

Rad Cat

Feline’s Pride

Cat Info.org – Site run by a DVM

Cat Nutrition.org, Not run by a vet, but partnered with one.

Costs of Raw Food and Other Info – a Yahoo! database of information and facts about raw food.

And lastly, I found an article written by a friend of mine’s sister, about the American Veterinary Medical Association’s new decision to try to institute a formal resolution basically stating that a raw diet is “bad for” your pet (because feeding your pet non-species specific food containing grains and other such things that its body cannot digest or process is good for your pet??). She explores the financial connections between veterinary associations and dry-food producers such as Hill’s Science Diet and Purina. It’s interesting, and both sides of the argument should be explored. But since my friend’s sister is a vet, and since I have researched and support raw diets (as do many in-the-know vets), I am clearly going to take the “This is all about money” stance on this matter. If you choose not to, suit yourself. Everyone is entitled to think what they wish.

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Take from this information what you will.Β  I am not selling nor endorsing any of these products, this is simply an update about my personal experience thus far with the decision made for the health and well-being of my own pets.

And PS! Completely off topic, but if you DO live in the area, and you DO choose to head over to Mighty Healthy Pets, check out the Mom’s Organic Market a few doors down! We found avocados from California there, and I bought a bunch and made guac with them – THANK GOODNESS I found this market close to us! The Ryan is much happier eating this guacamole now that it contains the avocados he’s used to. πŸ˜€ And bonus: we’re supporting domestic farmers by purchasing these goodies!

Scoooooooooore!!

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Chicken Quesadillas & Charity Donations

So as I sit here writing this, daydreaming of the yummy dinner I am going to prepare tonight, I cannot help but be saddened a little by the fact that I cannot feel my mouth at all. 😦 I went to the dentist this morning, and two hours later, I am still waiting for the Novocaine to wear off so I can eat lunch. Since I was going to the dentist, I didn’t eat breakfast, either, so I am pretty much starving. One attempt at trying to drink water, which ended with me not being able to feel/swallow the water and thus making a big mess, deterred me from any further attempts at consuming food or beverage for the near future.

Bummer! But in the mean time, at least I can’t feel the pain that will come after the numbness is gone, so I am counting my blessings.

In other news, I finally got around to emailing myself a couple of pictures for comparison between our old apartment and new one, specifically the kitchen area. We lost two closets (as you’ll see in the pictures) but I gained a foot and a half of counter space, and a hell of a lot more cabinet space too. It is also a lot more of an open layout here now, which I like. I can actually see my guests while I am cooking dinner, which is important to me.

This is the old corner – keep in mind that we got the exact same layout/square footage that we had before – same apartment, different building. As you can see, there was a large coat closet and a smaller closet where we kept the vacuum, broom, etc. Sorry for the mess, I took this the day we moved. Behind that wall you can just barely see the counter top and cabinets of the kitchen through the opening on the left.

This is the exact same corner in the new place on the day we moved in. As you can see, less closets, but more cabinets! In the old place we had a stacked washer/dryer where the long cabinet in the corner is. Here, we have a washer/dryer combo, so we gained all of that space for counters/cabinets. I like that I can see into our living room, and currently, there is a love seat on that wall. We have not been able to fully unpack, as continual maintenance issues have prevented us from doing so. Two weeks later, we’re still waiting for this nonsense to be resolved…however once it is, I will be able to unpack, clean, and give you better pictures. πŸ™‚ Yay for more counter space to work on, though!

I am actually sitting on my couch waiting for maintenance to come visit me now, ironically. *sigh* But I won’t get into that, I could rant for DAYS.

Instead, I will show you chicken quesadillas! These are not the most “authentic” quesadillas out there, and I actually learned from the Ryan that in Mexico, a quesadilla is made only with cheese. Adding meat or anything else actually turns the quesadilla into what is called a sincronizada. The most common cheese in Mexican quesadillas is actually Oaxacan (or string) cheese instead of what we use here as “Mexican Cheese” like cheddar jack and so forth. That being said, I enjoy Sargento’s 4 cheese Mexican blend. I also have some queso blanco I bought from the Hispanic section of my grocery store, and I will use that also. Wanna know a little more about quesadillas? Click here to read!

First, though, we should start out with the marinade for the chicken!

You will need: Olive oil (around 1/8-1/4 cup), the juice of 1 lime, Goya Adobo Seasoning (mine is all purpose with Cumin), cayenne pepper, onion powder, cumin, and garlic (4 cloves, run through a press). I did not really measure the spices, I just added them to my taste preference.

Mix them together in a bowl (I later threw in some black pepper and crushed a bay leaf) until well blended.

Add chicken to a gallon bag and then add marinade. Toss the chicken to make sure the marinade is coating all of the chicken well. I used a combination of tenders and cubed thigh meat to give the quesadillas some variety in taste. Refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for at least half an hour, but longer if you can.

For veggies to accompany the quesadillas, I chose to use red onion, a red and yellow bell pepper, two jalapenos and some garlic. I also added cilantro.

Dice all of your veggies and mix them up in a bowl. Set them aside and heat a nonstick pan and a grill pan (or another nonstick pan).

Also prepare a few cloves of garlic separate from the vegetables. I used 3.

In your first heated pan, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.

In your second pan (or, in my case, a grill pan), start cooking your chicken.

Once the garlic is fragrant, add the vegetables you diced to your second pan. You do not need to oil the pan, as the vegetables cook they will release moisture. Cook them until almost done (if you don’t want to, you don’t have to – cooking the veggies beforehand is optional).

Once your chicken is cooked, shred it and set it aside.

Chop up some fresh cilantro.

Heat a large skillet, and spray lightly with nonstick spray or melt some butter. Fry your flour tortilla for about 30 seconds per side, flipping once, until the tortilla starts to stiffen and bubble.

Transfer to a cookie sheet and layer chicken, veggies, cilantro and cheese on one side.

Fold the tortillas in half and press down, making sure the top side is touching the cheese – this will ensure the cheese melts and basically acts as the glue. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and tortillas are slightly stiffened.

I like to let my quesadillas set for a few minutes before I remove them from the pan and cut them.

Cut your quesadillas and serve with Mexican crema (as I did), guacamole, salsa or all three! Enjoy!

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A final, important note: I am sure that everyone is aware of the tragic recent events in Aurora, Colorado. While I did not live in the Denver area during my time in Colorado, I can say that the state and its people are very near and dear to my heart. To have innocent bystanders, just wanting to see a good movie, brutally attacked and killed by someone who clearly methodically planned out such a tragic event is something that so many of us cannot comprehend. I cannot begin to imagine what I would have done if I had been in any of those victims’ shoes. And now that I am on the east coast, I, like many, feel the desire to help from afar. I will be donating a portion of my next paycheck to the families in Aurora, and I have provided an article below on being cautious and finding a legitimate charity in the wake of tragedy (and avoiding scams), as well as a list ofΒ  charities that are accepting donations for the victims and their families:

Caution is Key: MSNBC’s article on choosing a worthy charity
The Daily Beast: List of Charities and Fundraising Efforts for the families and victims of the Aurora shooting

I recommend using the tips presented in the MSNBC article to make an informed choice as to which charity you will donate to, if you should choose to do so.

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Airmen and Macaroni Salad

What do the two have in common? Well, nothing. But if you’ve been by Google today, the doodle is in honor of Amelia Earhart. Today would be her 115th birthday.

As most of you know, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for her trip from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland. She was also the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Even today researchers are looking for her plane, which vanished somewhere over the Pacific in 1937. Though her disappearance is still a mystery, the road she paved for women in aviation has transcended generations to modern times.

To continue with firsts and achievements, this is where another set of individuals comes in. It just so happens that today, Amelia Earhart’s 115th birthday, I had the privilege of seeing two of the original Tuskeegee Airmen at work. If you are not aware of who these men are, they were the first African American pilots to fly in the U.S. Armed Forces, and fought in WWII. Out of the hundreds of bombing escort missions they flew, they lost only 25 planes to enemy fire. In a time when racism was still rampant in America and the armed forces, as well as the government (and pretty much everywhere else) were segregated, these men stood up for their beliefs and for their people to show that the black man could do anything the white man could do. They paved the way for people of color to enter the armed forces, and should be respected and admired for their achievements. It was amazing to meet a couple of the men who changed history. To read more about them, click here.

This morning, I had the honor of meeting Airman William Fauntroy Jr.,Β  Class 45-I,

And Airman James Pryde, of the 477 Bombardment Group.

Today was the start of our Diversity Fair, which will go until Thursday of this week. It celebrates diversity and differences in all cultures and walks of life. It is an honor of culture and achievement for everyone. As an intern, I was pegged (along with many others of us..interns form a small army at my job) to volunteer and take part in the events. Works for me, it gets me away from my desk! These gentlemen, along with Major General Darren McDew of the U.S. Air Force, gave the opening today at the ceremony for the fair. I got everyone’s signature on the program, and the Ryan (being the fan of anything air/space related that he is) is going to freak when he comes home and finds it on his desk. All in all, it was a very humbling and awesome morning.

Which brings me around to something that, while not quite as awesome, is still awesome – macaroni salad. I know, I know, anyone can make that, right? Yes! Anyone can. And it’s delicious! With the recent heat wave leaving oppressive temperatures across the country, I was feeling the need to have a snack food that didn’t need to be eaten hot, and that would be delicious and refreshing. Macaroni salad fit the bill. Not only that, but it’s the perfect dish to bring to a summer pot luck, so there is no reason not to have a macaroni salad recipe in your arsenal. Normally, I find most macaroni salads too sweet, but thisΒ  recipe I found on Allrecipes.com is not too sweet, and is my favorite by far! After reading billions of comments, I modified it a little to get it exactly the way I like it. So let’s get started!

Check it out! One of the recipes I made while at the old apartment. Fear not, photos of the new place will come! Anyway, you will need (the recipe I use is scaled from the original): 3 and 1/4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, 3/4 cup and 2 tsp mayonnaise, 3 tbls and 1 tsp distilled white vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbls prepared yellow mustard, 1 and 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 3/4 onion, chopped, 2 stalks of celery, chopped, 3/4 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped, and 2 grated carrots (optional). I also add a dash of paprika, and I read in one of the comments to add a tbls or two of olive oil to help the noodles/sauce not dry out, so I do that as well. Instead of grating carrots (because who really wants to stand there grating carrots?) I just throw them in my food chopper.

Though it’s not in the recipe, I loooove to hard boil a couple of eggs, chop them up, and add them to the salad as well.

In a large bowl, combine mayo, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, paprika and vinegar. Stir well to combine.

In a separate pot, cook the macaroni noodles and then strain them. Rinse them under cold water to cool.

While your noodles are cooking, chop your onion, bell pepper, celery and carrot. Add to the sauce and mix well.

When your eggs are done cooking, peel the shell off, chop them, and add them to the sauce as well. Mix to combine.

Finally, add your noodles and mix everything very well, making sure to coat the noodles thoroughly with the sauce. This is a good time to add the olive oil. Stir to coat and then refrigerate.

And voila! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy! A delicious snack that will last a good week in your fridge and will fill you up. Or take it to a party and watch it get eaten in a flash (which is what usually happens when I take this somewhere). Enjoy!

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Versatile Blogger Award

Wow! I was nominated for something! Which, I understand, also means I won! *flex*

A special thank you to 3 Hungry Monkeys for the nomination! I feel so honored! πŸ˜€ The only thing I’ve ever manged to win throughout my life has been carnival goldfish. You know, those ones you throw ping pong balls into tiny vases to win. Go on, admit it – you did it too as a kid. And your poor parents had to deal with the highly likely event that your new friend Bob would be floating belly up the next morning. It happened.

Though one time I did win a Bob that lived forever. I eventually gave him to my friend’s pond because he just kept getting bigger. He was kind of a jackass fish, now that I think about it. He’s probably still alive and leading a fish gang in that same pond all these years later..

But, yes, thank you 3 Hungry Monkeys for the nomination and the kind comment you posted on your blog about mine! πŸ™‚ Definitely make sure to check her out, I frequently stalk her Mexican food page for delicious recipes..I look at the rest of the blog, of course, but the Mexican section is my favorite!

When nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, one must contend with a list of things to do. So, as follows:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and provide a link to their page on your blog
  • Nominate 15 blogs for the award and let them know by leaving them a comment
  • Copy/Paste the award on your blog post
  • Share 7 things about yourself

Alrighty, seven things about myself? Let’s see if I can think of some..

1) When I was a child, I used to dig in my front yard to try to find dinosaur bones/footprints (or, you know, an Egyptian pyramid). I also used to walk around pretending to be an archaeologist with my first schoolyard friend Jenny Thorn. We happily spent our recesses identifying wood mulch on the playground as T-rex, velociraptor, stegosaurus or brontosaurus bones. That is how I came to be an Anthropology major.

2) Final Fantasty 7 is my favorite video game of all time and I keep my Playstation 2 just so I can play that, Kingdom Hearts and DDR as many times as I want to.

3) When I was 15 years old I played piano at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Despite that, I have only had 2 cumulative years of lessons.

4) There is nothing more soothing to me than hearing waves crashing on a shore. I grew up by the Chesapeake Bay, and would frequently travel to Ocean City as a child.

5) I have a bad habit of collecting books…so bad is my habit that I spend more money on books per year than clothing. Ironically, I have probably only read about 1/3 of the books that I own.

6) I am a total Joss Whedon fangirl. I own the entire series of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I also own Firefly, Serenity, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog (I have the soundtrack to Dr. Horrible and the BTVS Musical Episode too). I also use the word “Whedonverse.”

7) My first job out of high school was at the local jail as a mail clerk. Oh, the things I’ve seen.

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And now to nominate 15 blogs! These do not go in order of preference, just the order that I pulled them up off my favorites list in:
1) Fooding Rookie: I love her blog. Everything she makes inspires me to bake my heart out and get totally fat on goodies. If only I could buy a metabolism…

2) A Lot On Your Plate: She has probably won this award like 50 million times, but that’s okay! Every morning I wake up to a new email in my inbox about nifty, fun-filled and makes-life-easier tips and tricks that I thoroughly appreciate.

3) Sarah’s Musical Kitchen: Music and food? Duh! No brainer here. And everything she makes has a touch of class and elegance but is also not overly complicated that even the average Joe can’t make it.

4) Foolhardy & Reckless: This blog is so much fun. It is a series of letters exchanged between overseas “pen pals” about life, fashion, food, boys, fun..it’s a very wonderful read.

5) Learn, Create, Love: This blog is actually run by a friend of mine (and features pictures of her beautiful daughter!). It is perfect for Moms (and Dads!) who love to engage their kids with crafts, painting, and all things artsy and creative. I will be doing this stuff with my own kids someday.

6) Sierralei: She makes the prettiest cupcakes! And not only that, but she’s extremely artistic and witty! I wish I could be this awesome when it comes to baking.

7) Afternoon Popcorn Snack: Be still my heart, we have very similar tastes in what we like to cook and eat. I can pretty much say I’d like to make or eat almost everything on her recipe index list. πŸ™‚ Yum!!

8) Lulu the Baker: I love this blog. I originally found it through Pinterest when I pinned a broccoli and cheese chowder recipe (because, seriously – who doesn’t love that kind of soup???) but everything she makes is just beautiful. And delicious looking. And beautiful.

9) The Ranting Chef: This guy was actually the first person EVER to like my blog. πŸ˜‰ I can dig it, can you? On top of that, his sense of humor is awesome and he makes delicious (and easy) food! Bonus: he makes comfort food!

10) Just Baked By Me: Talk about a sweet tooth! So many beautiful, amazing dessert ideas. I know my sweet tooth definitely appreciates this blog!

11) Snixy Kitchen: I know I’ve said this about every blog, but seriously, there are so many talented foodies out there! Everything on this blog makes my mouth water. I found her recipe for chicken taquitos on Pinterest and am dying to try them sometime soon! Oh, the Ryan, why must ye be on a diet?

12) Curious Country Cook: Yet another set of awesome and delicious looking, not to mention lovely, recipes. Definitely check this out!

13) She Bakes Here: Another baker. Another amazing blog..she deserves some more traffic, her recipes are mouthwatering and her pictures are gorgeous!

14) Emily Cooks Vegan: She’s adorable. Her food is vegan and natural, and she’s just..ADORABLE!

15) at 350 degrees: More baking! I know it’s getting monotonous but every one of these bakers/cooks is just totally talented. I cannot get enough of the scrumptious things I see like chocolate covered strawberries, brownies and creamcake! Mmm!

**Update** I just found one of the links I was looking for! I stupidly told myself to nominate this person and then got distracted..and then came back like, “Wait, who was it again?” Jennirific is an AWESOME blogger with tons of admirable experience and she always has interesting and creative items featured on her blog. She also promotes all natural food and as much toxin/chemical free cooking as possible (like many bloggers I know) and that is a close to home concept with me! I know we’re only supposed to nominate 15, but she deserves it!! I hope the rules can bend to allow me to nominate a 16th wonderful person. I’d nominate everyone I knew if I could. πŸ˜‰

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Every one of the above bloggers should be admired and commemorated for their work – they are amazing! Definitely check all of them out for some recipes you won’t regret learning!

Ta ta for now!

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I’m not dead!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lack of posting recently…long story short, our apartment fell through, got rescheduled for this past weekend, and we have been very, very busy trying to move things around. We got all moved in and are almost unpacked..that being said, we have also already filed 5 (count em!) maintenance tickets. Water in my closet? I don’t think so. Dishwasher not getting electricity? Maintenance, you better FIX this crap!! (because clearly it’s too difficult or they’re too incompetent to make it move-in ready). Sorry! Just needed to rant..it’s SO frustrating to move into a place that is supposedly ready and find a million things wrong. It doesn’t stop at the water or the dishwasher, either..but I won’t work myself up.

In addition to those issues, we don’t have internet (Verizon is coming on Friday) for the time being, and I am actually writing this at my desk at work. πŸ™‚ I have three blogs pre-planned that I did while I was at the old apartment, but with no internet, I can’t write them. We’re not allowed to bring in our own USB drives or have our own pictures on our work computers, so I just have to wait.

I was going to have a fourth blog for you on chicken quesadillas (I will make them again, though, because they were so delicious) but while I was cutting my onion, I cut the everliving daylights out of my thumb and it has been in a gauze bandage ever since last Wednesday. I learned three things during that ordeal, however…1) OUUUUUUUCH!!!! 2) It’s amazing what your body will let you do before you go into shock and 3) I now know how my poor cats must feel without an opposable thumb.

Needless to say, I have been next to useless with carrying furniture during our move and other things you don’t realize you need your thumb for (like holding a dish while you scrub it with your other hand…of all the times not to have a functional dishwasher, eh?).

HOWEVER! The good news is that while I was sniveling on the bed, holding my hand above my heart and pathetically drinking orange juice (yea, I’ll admit it, I totally lost my cool and cried hysterically), the Ryan surprised me with a 9 cup Cuisinart food processor! OMG! It’s amazing! I totally love it! It’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time and it has a bunch of bells and whistles. He’s kind of awesome. He actually broke it out that night to chop a new onion, and proceeded to throw in the jalapenos and bell peppers as well. AND the queso blanco on the shredder attachment. Never deny a geek a gadget. He had a great time making fun of my cutting accident and pounding his chest about how awesome his gift was. Admittedly, it did make me feel better..even if I was embarrassed about having cut myself in the first place.

And, as many problems as we’re having with the new place at the moment, the only really major thing is the water issue, the rest can hopefully be fixed if maintenance pulls their heads out..and then I can brag about how much I enjoy the new layout of our apartment (more cabinet space, more counter space, open kitchen and more open floor plan in the living room) and how happy I am to have gained like 3.5 feet of much needed counter space! There is more privacy as well (we have a fence! And my plants get more sun!), and above all, it’s quiet. No more nextdoor neighbor with her subwoofer on our adjoining wall..no more toddler and sister running around upstairs having a screaming contest with one another..just peaceful, glorious quiet. Oh, happy good night’s sleep, how I’d missed you, my friend.

Look forward to pictures and new posts starting Friday!

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More <3 for your Leftovers: White Chicken Enchiladas

Oh yes, they are as delicious as they sound. You have no idea. I even had leftovers of the enchiladas I made with my leftovers. That’s how badass these things are.

Allow me to explain – as things got a crazier with packing during the week for this move, and as the week progressed, the Ryan and I were forced to cheat: we bought a rotisserie chicken. We steamed broccoli and the Ryan made us mac and cheese (albeit from a block of Velveeta cheese..which, might I say, is FREAKING RICH! Holy cow, I’ve never had mac that rich..O_O!!) and called it good.

The Ryan sat at the table, carving up the chicken for dinner (minding my own business…in storms my husband Wilbur in a jealous rage! You been screwin’ the milkman?, he says! He was crazy! And he kept on screamin’! ‘You been screwin’ the milkman!’ And then he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times – CHICAGO reference’d…I will forever equate carving a chicken with that show) while our cats circled his ankles, meowing like the ten pound furry vultures they are.

(Move to 3:34 for you reference if you didn’t get it ;)) I suppose this is a very random time to admit a girl crush on Catherine Zeta Jones. Oh well..moving on…

After our meal, we were left with a considerable amount of chicken – after all, just the two of us can’t eat an entire rotisserie chicken alone. So, we shredded the leftovers and put it to rest in a Tupperware container in the fridge. The next day, as I spent my lunch break doing my usual – surfing recipes and looking at Foodgawker, I was on the hunt for something specific, though I didn’t know what it was at the time.

First, let me tell you – if you have a Pinterest account and you haven’t yet pinned Taste and Tell’s “24 Ways to Use Shredded Chicken” post, go do it NOW. It’s amazing. It’s actually the inspiration for the white chicken enchiladas I ended up making. I saw her post and I liked it, but I didn’t want to use (or buy) cream cheese, and I was looking for a little more “oomph,” if you will. That being said, her list is a freaking awesome reference.

Secondly, even if you don’t have a Pinterest account (I literally signed up just so I could look at the pictures of the food I wanted to bookmark instead of having a list fifteen miles long), you should check out that post AND this one: Six Sisters’ Stuff’s post on 50 Easy and Delicious Chicken Breast Recipes. Seriously – someone else is being creative for you? Duh…bookmark/pin this. You will be so glad you did on that night you come home going, “Oh crap, what should I make for dinner!?” Chicken. Pick one of those recipes that you may have ingredients for..Done and done.

As I said, I used these for inspiration. The two chicken enchiladas on Taste and Tell’s blog, moreso. After looking those recipes over, I decided I wanted to do that…but I still wasn’t quite sold on it. So I turned to my trusty friend Google. Per usual, it did not fail me: I found Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

Normally, I’m not one to really get all up in arms and hyped and dreamy eyed about celebrity chefs..except Robert Irvine. He’s dreamy. I’d let him redo my kitchen any day. Have you seen his arm muscles? (Coincidentally, my friend Tucker works at the Grand Junction Airport in Colorado..Robert Irvine was in town doing a show in Paonia and came through the airport…he bought a Subway sub from my friend. Despite Tucker’s claims that Robert Irvine is not as muscular as he looks, I still raged that there wasn’t an autographed napkin heading my way in the mail!!) Anyway, I digress. The moral of the story: as hard as I try to deny it sometimes, celebrity chefs are celebrities for a reason. Her recipe is damn stinkin’ good.

So guess what I did with my leftover rotisserie chicken?

Alllllriiiiight. I admit, however, to making changes – just a few. First off, I clearly didn’t boil my own chicken for stock…I used bouillon. Secondly, our store didn’t have canned roasted jalapenos, so I roasted my own and chopped them..which probably made this even better. Thirdly, I didn’t have a full cup of sour cream so I put in plain non-fat Greek yogurt instead. Fourth – I used flour tortillas. And lastly, I felt like the sauce was more of a cheese sauce than it was really a “Mexican” influenced sauce – so I added chili powder, cayenne, cumin, and Mexican oregano until I liked it..and oh yea, the Ryan made me put in Sriracha sauce…because that boy will put Sriracha sauce in/on pretty much anything. I bet he’d put it on ice cream.

After I baked the enchiladas, I topped them with freshly chopped cilantro, which gives them amaaaaaaaaaazing depth and an extra oomph of flavor – exactly what I was looking for! The Ryan and I each had two, which left us with three, and we split 1 and a half enchiladas between us for lunch today! They were just as good the second time around! And leftovers from your leftovers? That’s totally a win/win.

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Be sure to check out all the links I provided for some amazing recipes you can make yourself! With leftovers or fresh!

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