Monthly Archives: August 2012

Week 1: Success!

I survived!! My first week of school! *raisetheroof* Come on, we all know how that feels. I even have homework already. Oh joy!

No, seriously, I do have homework. As a matter of fact, my geology professor keeps all of his notes on a website and I’m in the process of printing them all out to put them in a binder. The Ryan says that our laser jet printer can print a few thousand sheets before it runs dry, so I’m up to the challenge with this print job. 🙂

Yep, isn’t it pretty? There’s the school. Sadly, the back where that final building meets the tree line (toward the middle right of the picture) is where I park my car…and all of my classes are to the left and right of that big M down front, respectively. I think the best part is that to walk back to my car, I have to walk up a fairly steep hill. Will I be building butt and leg muscles this year? You bet I will! I like the campus, though, and am looking forward to seeing it in the fall and spring when the leaves turn and again when all the trees bloom. I bet it’s gonna be pretty. 🙂

My classes should be good, though Statistics is gonna whip my pale white fanny, so I’m a bit worried about that. If I drop off the face of the planet this fall, it’s because every teacher expects me to do the reading, and I’ve got Statistics first thing in the morning 4 days a week with a quiz every Tuesday that there isn’t a test. Oh boy! Since math happens to be my weakest subject, I wager I’ll be spending a lot of extra time on it. Geology and History both require papers, and Archaeology, I don’t know what to expect from that quite yet. My professors are good, so I am at least thankful of that.

In the mean time, I am praying that the Ryan will be off this weekend so we can actually spend some time together, he’s going to be out of state …like far, far out of state, for the next couple months starting the week after next..so who knows?

So, all of this means I don’t really have a lot going on in the kitchen at the moment. Tonight is chicken fajitas, but you don’t need to know how to make those, as they’re hilariously simple. 🙂 I promise I’ll find something soon, though!

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Crock Pot It: White Chicken Chili

Yeap, more crock pot, just like I promised. Yesterday, while I was at the store going crazy on baking supplies, I also picked up the ingredients for white chicken chili. I am going to a Girl’s Night Out date tonight in downtown Washington, D.C., so I won’t have time to cook when I rush home from work, shower, change and head to the Metro station. Instead, I wanted something I could cook all day, scarf down when I come home, and that would still be nice and warm for the Ryan when he gets home…you know, whenever that happens to be.

So what better appliance to use than the crock pot? Since I knew I was going to be out today, I went ahead yesterday and prepped everything so it would be ready to just toss into the pot on my way out the door before work. I’m not a morning person, so the less I have to do, the better. It leaves me more time to sleep. 🙂

In case you’re wondering, the chick date is to a drag show, complete with champagne and dessert in a historic mansion situated on notorious Dupont Circle. It’s a wandering soiree, so each different room has a different theme, and the whole mansion apparently has 64 secret doors leading to other parts of the house. We can enjoy touring the house, which is also a museum and hotel, drinks in hand, before heading to the show to stuff dollar bills down the shirts of our fabulous dragsters! I am looking quite forward to this, as my chick friends are all buckets of fun before booze comes into play. 😀 And why not have a girl’s night out on the town, even if it does mean getting home after 11 and waking up at 5? Sleep is for the weak!

But, I digress. The ingredient list on this one is quite simple, and thankfully so. It was easy to throw everything together in a pinch and keep it overnight so could just dump it all in this morning. So without further adoo, white chicken chili:

The recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced chiles, so I just decided to be lazy and use Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and jalapenos, as well as an additional small can of green chiles. 32 oz box of chicken broth, two 15 oz cans of white beans, drained and rinsed, a white onion, diced, 1/2 cup sour cream, a bag of frozen corn (but since corn is still in season, I bought fresh), a packet ofMcCormick White Chicken Chili mix, and, of course, chicken.

I drained and rinsed the beans, chopped the onion, and removed the corn kernels from the cob. I then put them all into plastic containers and stuck them in the fridge.

I also cubed the chicken and stuck it in a double-layered ziploc bag and stuck it in the fridge too.

The rest, I just set up and had sitting next to the crock pot for first thing in the morning.

Before I ran out the door, I went ahead and popped everything in and gave it a good stir.

Put it on low, ran out the door, hasta la byebye, dinner.

When I came home, as you can see, it looked pretty much the same. Only it smelled delicious!!

Ta da!!
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Not to be rude, but I gotta run!! Enjoy!

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Blustery Sunday: Perfect for Peanut Butter

Yep! It’s another Sunday, and the Ryan is stuck at work for yet another weekend. This coming week should prove to be rather ridiculous for us both, as I start school again, and from what I’ve gathered so far, he will be pulling even longer, more ridiculous hours than normal. He may or may not even come home from the base this week, we shall see. Blah.

To cheer me up and make me feel a little better about our life being so tentative and subject to change on a minute-by-minute basis, I’ve taken it upon myself to do something nice for the Ryan’s co-workers. As much as I am sad that we are hardly seeing each other, I have to remind myself that he is not the only person working – his whole team is. One of them has a very pregnant wife, and the others have wives and children at home that they, too, are missing out on. Since the guys love my pumpkin bread so much, I decided to oblige and make them the bread recipe in the form of muffins, and then make homemade cream cheese frosting for said muffins. If their week is going to be as insane as it is looking like it will, they will need the comfort food in a big way.

The other day, I also found this awesome looking no-bake peanut butter bars recipe that claims to taste just like Reese’s peanut butter cups. Let me say that again: it’s supposed to taste like Reese’s. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the man who invented the combo of chocolate and peanut butter, for he should be revered as a god among men. If the claim laid down by this recipe is, in fact, true, I could be revered as a goddess among the Ryan’s co-workers. Not only do I send them homemade pumpkin muffins with icing from scratch but I send them homemade Reese’s-esque bars as well? Someone get my man a promotion, yeah? 😛

So, this morning, with my now-traditional Sunday Starbucks in hand, I went a little bit crazy at the grocery store and am ready to get my bake on! And no-bake, in the case of the peanut butter bars. 🙂 The house will smell awesome when the Ryan gets home, and I will have done something besides laundry and cleaning with my Sunday. We’ve got a few “severe storm” warnings rolling around as well, so it’s all an excellent excuse to stay inside. Maybe I’ll pop in the extended edition of Lord of the Rings while I get all of this going…because who doesn’t still fangirl over Aragorn and Legolas? Hellooooooo, sexies!

Reese’s bars, courtesy of Bakerlady:

1 & 1/2 cups semi-sweet morsels, 1 cup and 4 tbls peanut butter, 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, and 1 cup butter, melted.

In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, 1 cup of peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar and graham crackers. Stir well to incorporate.

Spread the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 bake pan, or 8×8 for thicker peanut butter.

In a double boiler (or, if you’re me, with two pots the same size), or a metal bowl over boiling water, melt the chocolate morsels with the 4 remaining tbls of peanut butter.

Spread the melted pb/chocolate combo over the graham cracker mixture.

Pop it into your fridge. Voila! So easy! Refrigerate at least 1 hour before cutting. 🙂

Quite delicious! Pre-cutting for the Ryan’s crew. Use a sharp knife, and don’t saw into it or it will crack and crumb everywhere and the chocolate will splinter. And now that I’ve eaten a piece of it, I can say it reminds me of a treat very similar to this that my Mom made my brother and I as kids. 🙂 What a nice surprise to have that memory pop back up because of a piece of confectionery! Enjoy!!

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Oh yeah, eye candy for dessert…Yum! *drool*

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Spaghetti for Slackers

Yep, more cheating. This week marks the third straight week (including weekends) that the Ryan has been working, and the third straight week of big fat question marks on when he’s coming home, what kind of traffic he’s going to hit (he’s out of state this week but driving, only next week might be staying or might be driving depending on his hours, who knows??), how long that will take, etc., etc.

So I did what anyone would do and turned to our slow cooker for solace. As I sit here on my couch watching Pirates of the Caribbean for the umpteenth time (cuz, hey, I haven’t watched it in a few years and Johnny Depp is hott), I can smell the sauce enjoying its time in our slow cooker on warm. I suppose I should take this opportunity to correct myself, however…this is actually the Ryan’s slow cooker:

Kind of cute, no? With he ivy and flowers all over it. My old slow cooker (which is god knows where in Las Vegas, if it’s even still there) was more masculine than this – it was dark blue. And made by Crock Pot, not Hamilton Beach…but who cares? When he gets home, I am going to ask the Ryan to tell me the story about this acquisition. He either a) didn’t care about looking manly and just bought something for practicality (which is most like him and probably it) or b) it’s a family or ex-roommate acquisition that he picked up during his college years. Either one could be correct. We shall see!! In the mean time, school starts next week, and the Ryan is going to be on this odd schedule on and off up until approximately November, so I’d like to try to use the crock pot more. That way I have time to do more homework, and he has something warm even if he comes home at 10 p.m.

Edit: The Ryan called me on his way home just to tell me (I guess his phone was reading this to him?) that he got the slow cooker from our family friend Dawn. She got a new one and was like, “Here, Ryan, you need a slow cooker!” Free slow cooker. Hells yes.

Mmmm, doesn’t that look lovely? It smells lovely, too. And as much as I like to make my own meatballs, I cheated and bought Mama Lucia’s meatballs at the store… a) because they’re freaking delicious and b) because I am making this in the crock pot, so the idea is really ease more than authentic. When I lived in Colorado, I searched high and low for Mama Lucia’s meatballs at the store, and was always horribly disappointed when I couldn’t find them. That was before I learned that Mama Lucia’s restaurant is a Maryland-exclusive restaurant…so when I first moved back here I ate the everliving snot out of those things! Now, I rarely have them, as the Ryan and I mourned them having high fructose corn syrup in them. But I figured today we could have a treat. After all, I brought home Margarita cupcakes someone made for a birthday at work. What the hey, ya know? It won’t hurt us every now and then. 🙂

As for the sauce, I am going to give you my grandmother’s recipe:

1 onion, 2 tbls olive oil, 28-30 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 12-14 oz can of tomato paste, 2 tbls sugar, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup red wine, 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp chili powder.

Saute ground beef in olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven until clear. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours.

The only things I changed in this recipe are that I used a can of Hunts pasta sauce as my base in place of the crushed tomatoes and paste. I do not add sugar, and instead of ground beef, I just added already-cooked frozen meatballs. I added all of these ingredients to the crock pot and simmered all day on low. 🙂

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Either way, this will come out delicious, and is extra good, as is every tomato sauce, the next day or even two to three days later as leftovers. Yummy!!

P.S. – Sorry for the lack of pictures, we still haven’t found the charger for my camera…grrrr! And in other news, here is a random picture of a garlic clove that I shoved (out of curiosity) into a pot outside that used to have my now-dead cilantro in it:

I’m excited! I’m actually growing my own garlic! By accident! 🙂 One of our heads of garlic started sprouting in my produce basket, and I remembered a pin on Pinterest that I saw a while back on growing your own garlic from cloves..so I decided to give it a try! I have no idea how to tell when they will be ready to harvest, but that’s something Google can answer. Mostly since all of my plants (minus the basil) died due to extreme heat and then daily pouring rain and wind, I am just happy to see this actually…well, not dead. 🙂 Yay!

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Just Add Chicken: How to Cheat at Dinner

Five ingredients = 1 dinner? Baby, I’m down.

I was especially down last night…The Ryan, as most of you know, is pulling stupid long hours at the office and not coming home until, say, anywhere between 7 and 9 p.m. Since he is in a locked up room with no cell signal and no internet, I never have any idea how long he will be, when he will be coming home, when to start dinner…you get the point. As you can imagine, that is rather like playing dinner roulette as far as cooking goes.

So, this weeks theme is basically “What can I make within the 20 minutes it takes him to get home?” or “What can I make that will stay in the oven forever and ever on warm without fatally drying out and becoming cause for ordering a pizza at 9 p.m.?”

Last night’s dinner fell under option A, with only five ingredients to seal the deal. We all know how much I enjoy making my own sauces and marinades, but I have to admit to cheating a little. Last time I was in Target, I was wandering around their canned goods isle for some Ro*Tel tomatoes, and I spotted a jar of Tikka Masala sauce. I figured, hey, why not try it? So I picked it up.

Yesterday, I knew that the Ryan would be home pretty stinkin’ late (try 8:30 p.m.) and I wanted something quick and easy, so I thought I’d go ahead and break out the Tikka Masala jar. I thawed out some chicken, picked up some naan bread at the store, and decided on basmati rice and baby bok choy to round it all out.

When the Ryan called me to say he was on his way, I sauteed the chicken in a pan, heated up the sauce (which I found to be too sugary, so I added garam masala, cumin, lemon juice and cayenne pepper to it), mixed them together, cooked the rice and quickly wilted the baby bok choy in a frying pan. I heated the naan bread on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to make it nice and warm, and voila! In the 25 minutes it took the Ryan to get home, I had a hearty Indian-themed meal steaming hot and ready to go. We barely used any of the sauce, too, so if you’ve got a family of ~4 people, you will be golden with just one jar. If you don’t – LEFTOVERS!!

The swiftness of the meal also left us some extra time to hang out before I had to crash out for work today..which is always nice. Who doesn’t wanna re-watch Scrubs and cuddle on the couch with their honey?

For dinner in a pinch, this is definitely one to try (and it will make it look like you put so much more effort into it than you did!).

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Like A [Maryland] Boss.

Aloha, everyone! My sincerest apologies for my pointed lack of presence lately on the blogging scene. I haven’t forgotten about you in the slightest – the Ryan and I have just been extremely busy. With all the things happening in our apartment (we’ve had maintenance, plumbers, drywall fixers, painters and carpet layers in every day for the last 3 weeks), and my new awesome tooth problem (remember that cavity? Apparently I need a root canal now. To the swinging tune of $2100 that I do not possess. Yay uninsured healthy adult!), and the Ryan’s work hours extending into 15-19 hour days (along with him being out of state for several weeks this month, next month, and in October),  and me prepping for school, we have just been running around like headless chickens.

The Ryan and I have not been able to see much of each other, as you can imagine, so we decided to escape this past weekend to cool our heels and relax a little. Where did we go? Ocean City! Home of the illustrious boardwalk, Atlantic ocean, ridiculous traffic, boardwalk fries, Julie’s cannolis, and, of course, good ol’ Maryland blue crabs fresh out of the water for eating! Yum! And since it was the Ryan’s first time visiting the Atlantic ocean, I had to make his OC experience special!

Ahhhh, beach. People in bikinis. People who shouldn’t be in bikinis in bikinis. Warm water, the sound of the waves crashing..yep. I was a very happy girl.

COOTIES! (Stereotypical tourist shot ftw. Like my hat? Bought it at one of the stores 😛 Don’t hate, it kept my face from being sunburned.

After a long walk in the water chatting about space and science (guess who brought up that topic? ^_~), we decided we were thirsty and stopped in to Shenanigan’s Irish Pub. We had a horrifically-bad-for-us-but-oh-so-delicious cheddar and jalapeno stuffed pretzel and a few drinks. After all, we were on our day-vacation, right? Why not drink up? Especially since Shenanigans was voted Maryland’s Favorite Pub! We couldn’t pass it up.

After our pub pit stop, we stopped into an arcade where I whipped the Ryan’s tail at Tekken 5, and then we made our way over to the carnival at the end of the boardwalk. I also whipped his tail at bumper cars, and there was ferris wheel riding and enjoyment to be had.

We finished out our wonderful day at the Mug and Mallet, where I got myself a lovely dozen of Maryland blue crabs. It had been ages, and when in Rome, do as the Romans. Especially since it would go against my very upbringing if I didn’t eat steamed crabs at least once per summer. The Ryan was inducted as a true Marylander when he had to peel (I had to teach him, it was very cute) and de-vein his own shrimp right there on the spot. Good job, honey. 😛

Now, if you’re not from Maryland, I doubt very seriously that you would take the state’s supply of blue crabs as seriously as we do, but I promise you that they are awesome. We take pride in our delicious aquatic life AND our over-zealous use of Old Bay seasoning on pretty much every food group we can find. (If you just said “What? What seasoning? Click here and read about it. Try it. It’s awesome). We are also quite offended (as I was by our hilariously stoned waiter in the Mug and Mallet) if anyone suggests or infers that you do not know how to peel a crab. As someone who grew up hanging off the side of a wooden pier holding a string attached to a crab trap with a chicken leg tied inside of it, waiting for the perfect moment to close that box and catch that crab, I take a particular pride in my ability to not only catch, but steam and peel a crab. Silly stoned waiter.

Another thing that we Marylanders take a particular pride in is one of our favorite dishes, Cream of Crab soup. We also have “Maryland Style” crab soup, but I’m not as keen on that one. Something about tomato, corn, crab and celery in liquid form and in one place is just..odd to me. But Cream of Crab soup is delicious indeed. I have provided a few links below for you to find your own recipe for Cream of Crab. Why won’t I make it? Because I don’t do imitation crab meat. And as a child, I was taught to always throw the female crabs back, and eat only males. Unfortunately, a lot of the trot-liners down here that sell crabs on the side of the road do not discriminate, and will get females also. Not only are females harder to peel, but they can sometimes be pregnant (ewww) and have less meat. Additionally, one male crab can impregnate many females, and one lost female is a lot less future crabs. I am proud of the Mug and Mallet in OC because they served me only male crabs. It’s an ethical thing. So I don’t normally buy them off the side of the road these days. Finally, I can’t catch them off the family pier anymore now that my MawMaw passed away. 😦

You, however, can buy and eat whatever you like! I have provided you with four recipes to choose from, each a little different, but mostly the same. Pick what you thin suits you best and enjoy! If you do make some, send me a picture or send me a link! I’d love to see it!

Option 1. Traditional!

Option 2. A little more fattening, but still deeeelish!

Option 3. Now you’re talkin!

Option 4. Get boozy with it.

For the record, I approve of all of these recipes. 😉 Happy Eating!!

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