February 29, 2012

101 Update

Another month has flown by, so it's time for another 101 in 1,001 update. Here is what I have accomplished this month.

22. Buy a label maker - Completed 2/19/12 - this one is sort of cheating, since I didn't actually purchase it, a friend gave it to me as a shower gift - which I promptly tore open when I got back to my house and started using. Yes, it really is the little things that make me so happy.

23. Organize kitchen cabinets – Completed 2/20/12 - soo necessary, especially since there will be plenty of wedding gifts that need to be put away!

38. Use up all the gift cards in my wallet - Complete 2/15/12 - shopping is fun when the money isn't coming directly out of your wallet!

69. Grow my own herbs – Complete 2/15/12 - Cilantro shoots up like a weed in our house, but the basil is a bit slower moving. Either way, we have our own herbs!


This means that 14 have been completed - these posts are boring, my apologies.

February 24, 2012

Avocado Fries

I am happy to say that today I am guest posting on Not Rachael Ray - soon to be titled Rachel Cooks Blog. Rachel and I "met" via twitter a few months back, and we became fast friends. If we lived in the same state, we would hang out all the time - I swear! Ever since her blog has become a must read on my list and I have even made one of her recipes. Find her on twitter and pinterest and like her on facebook! You won't regret it!

Head on over to her site for the full post and recipe!

I have been seeing avocado fries all over pinterest lately, and since I love avocados and I'm not typically able to resist breaded items, this was the perfect combo. Plus, since it's an avocado I refuse to feel bad about the fact that it's breaded. Girl math is the best, isn't it?



Enjoy!

February 22, 2012

Short Rib and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

... As promised, here is a recipe that I have been creating in my head for weeks. I am happy to report that it is fantastic.

One day while poking around on the internet, I found a recipe for merlot mushrooms. I also stumbled upon a lasagna recipe that contained short ribs. Add that to my recent craving for stuffed shells the way my mom used to make them and before I knew it, this dish came to be.

I made the sauce while the short ribs were cooking to make my life easier the next day when I wanted to put the whole thing together.

Ingredients in the sauce:
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of basil, chopped
1 large white onion, minced
Olive oil

Mince the onion, and cook it in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low until the sauce is a dark red color (about 25 mins). On a normal basis when I make this sauce, I  add crushed red pepper flakes, but this time I was going for savory instead of spicy. When done - use an immersion blender and run it until the sauce it just a bit smoother. I didn't want to get rid of all the onion goodness.

Ingredients for the mushrooms:
1 lb. of mushrooms
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/4 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon porcini salt

Olive oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms, letting them brown up a little bit (about 7 mins). Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low until they are cooked through. Spoon them out into a mixing bowl.

General Ingredients:
Jumbo shells
Gruyere cheese, grated

Pull apart the leftover short ribs meat - I had about a cup and a half shredded. Add the meat into the mixing bowl with the mushrooms. To determine how many shells to make line a casserole baking dish with the uncooked pasta until the bottom of the dish is completely covered. Add a few extra uncooked shells to the boiling water in case a few break. When the shells are cooked, drain the water and run cold water over the top of them. Cover the bottom of your casserole dish with a little bit of the sauce, and add about 1/2 cup of the sauce to the meat and mushroom mixture. Spoon the meat and mushroom mixture into the cooked shells and place them with the opening down. Cover them with the remaining sauce, and cover with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, or until the cheese is good and melted.






I ate two of these shells and immediately hit the treadmill, they are so worth it. Mike claims this is the best thing I've ever made, but I've heard that before!

Enjoy!

February 21, 2012

Short Ribs

I freaking love short ribs. They are fatty, and not all that great for you, but I refuse to not eat them - when they are cooked right, they just fall apart with a fork "like buttah" as we say at our house.

Mike is a meat and potatoes type of guy - so this one was particularly up his alley. This is a good Sunday recipe, since it requires quite a bit of time, but believe me it is SO worth it!

Ingredients:
4 pounds of short ribs - I doubled the meat, because I had an idea for how to use the leftovers, I would usually just buy 2 pounds. (recipe to come!)
Olive oil - about 2 tablespoons
2 Tablespoons porcini salt
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 bay leaves
1 cup of red wine, I used a merlot - and I would have used more, but Mike would have given me crap!
3 cups of beef stock - or enough to cover all the meat

In a hot skillet, add the olive oil and fry up the short ribs until they are good and browned on all sides. Place in a casserole dish, pour the remaining ingredients over the top. Place the lid on top of the dish and bake at 375 for what will feel like forever, but really it's more like 2-3 hours. You will know they are done when the bones are showing pretty significantly. I opened the casserole dish to find two of the bones floating, which is when I took mine out.

I served the short ribs with asparagus and scallion/perpperjack cheese mashed potatoes. It was fantastic.


Check out this money shot... oh yea - you need to make these...


Enjoy!

February 20, 2012

Bridal Shower

I have awesome bridesmaids. The two that live in Minnesota planned and hosted an amazing bridal in my honor yesterday. If you know me, you know that I am not good at letting others do things for me, so I resisted a bridal shower for as long as possible. Since they know me so well, they also knew they could wear me down. Once I agreed, they went to town planning away!

Kelly has a nack at finding only the good ideas on the internet and tweaking them just a bit to perfectly fit the occasion. Add to that the fact that she has been in, and around about a thousand weddings, and she knew just where to start. And then there's Brit, who can throw a party like no one else - and I mean no one. I wish I had these skills... I can cook, bake, and attempt DIY projects, but throwing parties, and being put on the spot are not my forte.

Thank God I found these two.


They chose pink and green for the color combo, there were cupcakes, an entire chocolate fountain bar with all the proper dipping items, a bellini bar (YUM), sandwiches, and roll-ups, and plenty more.



We played lots of games, and the biggest surprise of all was the video they had of Mike answering questions about me - it was hilarious! Friends and family were both in attendance - including some of my favorite babies!

I went home with a trunk full of gifts - I can't thank everyone enough - plenty of thank you notes to come!

February 16, 2012

Asian Salad

I hope everyone had an awesome Valentine's Day! I got to spend mine with one of my favorite little monkeys while his parents hit the wild game... isn't he cute!?


This salad is a copy cat from one that I ate in California that I just loved. I ordered an asian salad, didn't think much about it, because let's me honest salads aren't really my thing. I ate the first bite of this salad and my face lit up like a Christmas tree because I knew exactly what the dressing was - and it was spicy! This must be the key to me actually eating an entire salad, because I had every single bite. And it's not like I was hungry - oh no, we were on vacation, we had basically eaten all day! I knew that when I got home I was going to make my own version!

This is something good to make if you are in a rut with a series of typical salads - this is anything but a typical salad, and it's so good!

Ingredients:
Dark leaf lettuce, about two handfuls
Sesame seeds, about a teaspoon sprinkled over the top
Handful of unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
Oranges - mandarin would be ideal, but I had a normal orange and just cut out the segments

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1 lime wedge, squeezed over the top - optional

The dressing is salty and spicy - if it's too salty for you ad about a teaspoon of water at a time until you reach the taste you want. Need more protein? Add chicken!




Enjoy!

February 13, 2012

Update

It's been almost a week since I have last posted (bad little blogger, I know) But, I've been busy!!

I am in full on wedding SCRAMBLE mode, assigning jobs to other people for help, and trying to handle getting all the right information to the right vendors, and circling back with all of our guests who said three of four people would like chicken, and one pork... but didn't say who was what. See? It's the little things like that I would have NEVER thought of as something that needs to be handled when it comes to wedding plans!

On top of that... we were in California! That whole marriage license thing is apparently a necessary component of getting married. Lucky us - that means we got to take a quick vacation. And boy was it a well deserved one. We have had so much going on lately. We both miss our friends!!

Anywho... here are some pictures of our trip.

We started our vacation right... with bloody mary's at Ike's


The first day, we went straight to the county records office and we got our marriage license. Lucky for us it took hardly any time at all.  So, before we knew it we were at...

(When your car pulls up to this place, you just relax. We needed it.)


We got to barrel taste the not yet released second batch of the tres rose - and let me just say that it goes down almost a little too smooth - almost being the key word here.

This is not the classiest picture I have ever posted - my apologies. But, we were on vacation and wine tasting, and before we knew it we each had two glasses of wine in our hands and were being asked to try a third!!


We even visited the house we are renting for the weekend of the wedding - check this out - it's got the best views of the local vineyards.



 and of course a great pool...

Mike needed to have brunch by the ocean at least once while we were there... so, we went on a mission and found this great place called Jake's... do you think it was close enough!?


Where I had this amazing breakfast - banana stuffed french toast with this awesome streusel and special k topping. And of course with a side of breakfast potatoes.


Which I promptly did this to... Mike asked why I didn't eat the crust - my response was so that I didn't waste room on it (I wanted all the good filling) that was a satisfactory answer for him!


We had a ball... and I think we both wish we lived there. But, like I said... if you LIVE there, where do you vacation!?


Enjoy!

February 8, 2012

Bacon Bark

First of all - my apologies for posting two sweets in a row - I do try to have a balance. But, this week that just didn't work out.

I saw this idea on Pinterest - are you getting sick of me saying that yet? Well, I had to make my own version. This is one of those recipes that is just awesome from an ingredient standpoint, but from a practicality standpoint it's not that great. The chocolate kind of crumbles when you cut it so plan on eating this with a fork! I was hoping I would be able to pick it up and eat it - that didn't quite happen! Maybe it's supposed to be more of a novelty item?

Anyway, it is very tasty and actually really easy! Give it a try!

Ingredients:
2 cups of chocolate chips
4 cups of marshmallows
1/4 cup of whiskey
Caramel sauce - just use whatever you have, no need to make your own
8 ounces of bacon
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper. Melt one cup of chocolate chips, and spread them into the bottom of the pan. In a saucepan, start melting the marshmallows - stop when they are JUST melted. Pull them off the heat, add the whiskey and stir well. Pour the marshmallows on top of the chocolate. Squeeze the caramel sauce over the top of the marshmallows until they are good and covered. Place the pan in the freezer at this point.

Cook the bacon until it's good and brown, then remove it from the heat. In a small mixing bowl add the brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, you can use whatever you have) and the cayenne pepper. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it with your hands and drop into the bowl. Mix well until the bacon is covered with the sugar and cayenne pepper mixture.

Melt the second cup of chocolate chips, and pour them over the frozen pan with marshmallow and caramel in it. Spread it around to fully cover the top, add the crumbled bacon and brown sugar on top of the chocolate. I lightly pushed the bacon into the chocolate so that it would stick. Place in the fridge for about an hour.

Cut and serve.


Enjoy!

February 7, 2012

Healthy Brownies

These brownies are healthy... or, I should say... these brownies are what I am going to COUNT as healthy! I loved sweet potatoes as a kid to the point where I would turn orange, and I still love them today. These days baked with just a bit of butter and brown sugar is the perfect combo! So, when I stumbled upon a recipe that had chocolate AND sweet potatoes I knew I HAD to make them!

They turned out dense, and fudgy (is that even a word?) and delicious. This recipe makes a small 9x9 pans worth of brownies.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 squirt (about 2 tablespoons) of Hershey's syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1 sweet potato - baked and mashed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, peel your sweet potato and chop is up into small pieces. Toss the sweet potato with the olive oil and the brown sugar. Bake for about a half an hour, until mushy and you are able to mash them up with a fork. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.

Add all the ingredients to a bowl, and mix it up with a spatula - no mixer needed on this one. The brownie batter will be thick. Scoop it into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake for about 30 minutes.


Enjoy!

February 6, 2012

Egg Sandwich

A few weekends back when we were Kansas, we started our mornings at Starbucks - for coffee, and breakfast. They have awesome coffee cake, but we also had their egg sandwiches. Once I was back they still sounded good in the mornings, but I am not at the stage where I drink coffee every morning yet.

So, I made my own version, adding a little zip.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
3 scallions
2 slices of bacon
1 slice of gouda cheese
1 ciabatta roll
salt and pepper

Slice the roll in half. Make a mini omelet with the eggs, scallions, salt and pepper. Cook the bacon, and build your sandwich!


Enjoy!

February 2, 2012

Classic Rice Krispies

Ok - so before my mother calls to tell me I haven't posted "all month" I figured I should get on here and post this one quick. I have been trying really hard to avoid dairy lately - I am allergic, it makes me puffy, and I have dress fittings every couple of weeks which makes being puffy a problem. Last week I did AWESOME - I had 1/4 cup of cheese the whole week! This week... not so much.

As I've said before it's hard for me to go an entire day without something sweet, so I have to find no dairy alternatives whenever possible. (I don't include butter on my no-dairy weeks, because I don't react to it!) Oddly enough, rice krispies sounded amazing - so I whipped up a batch. Not just any version... my mom's version. Caution: there will be butter. My mom doubles the butter and adds an extra 1/2 bag of marshmallows - which totally explains why her rice krispies were the best on the block when I was a kid!

We have made many many batches of these over the years - somehow on a trip to Kansas that my parents took to visit family they came back with a new rule. If somone - anyone in the house starts a new row in the rice krispy pan, you have to finish it. So, if you are that person who takes a little one inch sliver from one side - you started a row with that tiny thing and now the rest of us would have to finish the row. (I should say that 9 times out of 10 we didn't mind finishing the row!)

Ingredients:
6 cups of rice krispies
6 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 bags of mini marshmallows

You know how to make these... melt the butter and the marshmallows in a pan, add the rice krispies and flatten them into a well greased 13x9 cake pan. Preferably one with a lid so that they don't dry out.

*Next time - I am going to brown 1/2 the butter in a skillet, while I'm melting the other 1/2 of the butter and the marshmallows in a seperate pan. When the marshmallows are almost completely melted I will pour the brown butter into the marshmallow mixutre and complete the recipe that way. Brown butter makes everything better, and it would also give these a toffee under tone that would be awesome!!

Enjoy!
 
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