March 31, 2012

101 in 1,001 Update

Quick update today on the 101 in 1,001 list - I didn't accomplish much this month I was a little busy getting married and all! :-)

20. Buy darker fabric for café curtains in the front room - Complete 3/21/12
82. Re-make some of the the original recipes on my blog and take new photos if necessary – there are some pictures that are really bad! - Complete - 3/24/12 Some are still not great, but I'm satisfied for now!
86. Get married - Complete 3/10/12 - pictures to come I swear!
99. Go to a pricey salon and get a new haircut - Complete 3/13/12 - First real haircut since the engagement!

March 29, 2012

Chicken tacos w/queso fresco

I cannot take full credit for this one - I got the idea from The Novice Chef. If you haven't heard of her, you should really check her out - she has AMAZING photos, recipes and a great sense of humor! If you are in need of entertainment you should just swing over and read her posts!

These are quick and easy and very satisfying. I made them in under 30 minutes. I don't have a whole lot of patience so I didn't want to go down the crock pot route.

Ingredients:
1lb. chicken
1/3 red onion, sliced thinly
Salsa verde - store bought
Limes, sliced
Cilantro, minced
Queso fresco
1 can of black beans
Your preferred tortilla
Tabasco - just a few dashes, optional

In a pan, fry the chicken with olive oil salt and pepper. When fully cooked set it aside. Slice the red onion thin and fry them for just a few minutes in the same pan. If you have never worked with queso fresco it's packed tightly, but it's served crumbled. Break off a chunk of it and crumble it with your fingers. It is salty and moist and soo yummy. Build your tortillas however you want hit it with a lime and a few dashes of tobasco and eat up!




Enjoy!

March 27, 2012

Potato Salad

The weather in Minnesota has been amazing lately - Mike and I were dreading coming back to Minnesota after the wedding thinking it was going to be cold. Imagine our surprise when all the snow was gone and 75 degrees! Minnesotans sit outside in this weather, even at night when it's dipping below 60 degrees we are requesting to sit outside.

So, when a few of our friend invited us over for a BBQ, we happily obliged! I asked Mike what I should make as a side dish and he said potato salad - talk about a curve ball. I thought he would request something I have already made, but nooooo he creates a challenge. So, this was my first shot at potato salad. It turned out great!

Ingredients:
3 large red potatoes, diced
1/4 cup of starchy potato water
2 tablespoons of red onion, minced - I used more than this (scant 1/4 cup, minced) and it was way too much so I crept it back here.
3 tablespoons of banana peppers, minced - I'm not a fan of pickled relish, but I love banana peppers - go figure
2 celery stalks, minced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup of mayo - I of course used hellmans
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons fresh dill, minced
Salt and pepper
Paprika - for garnish

Rinse the potatoes and dice them, put them into a large pot and fill it with water - add salt. Boil the potatoes until they are tender, remove 1/4 cup of the cloudy water and strain the potatoes. Let them cool, then add them to a large bowl with the remaining ingredients. Stir well, and let it cool in the fridge for a few hours. Add the paprika when you are ready to serve.



Enjoy!

March 26, 2012

Butterscotch Bread

This is an awesome recipe for brunch, the only downside to it is that it takes a few hours for the rolls to rise. This recipe was passed down from Mike's grandmother to his mother and she passed it along to me! It's delicious and super easy, the waiting is literally the hardest part. Short post today - It's Monday.

Ingredients:
18 frozen dinner rolls - I used rhodes white dinner rolls, they are the best
1 package of regular butterscotch pudding
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
3/4 cup of brown sugar
6 tablespoons of butter

Grease a bread pan or bundt pan and sprinkle the nuts into the bottom of the pan. Arrange the frozen dinner rolls over the nuts, then sprinkle the butterscotch pudding over the top of the rolls. Melt the sugar and butter together in a small pan then pour over the pudding mix.

Cover with saran wrap and a dish towel and let the rolls rise per the package instructions - sometimes it's 3 hours, sometime it's 8.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. When the rolls are cooked through take out the pan and flip it upside down on a large platter. Serve warm.




Enjoy!

March 20, 2012

Mascarpone Pasta

Ok, I know what you're thinking - I just posted a pasta dish. But you know what, I crave carbs like it's the only thing left to eat on earth. I understand that carbs turn into sugar, which turns into fat yada yada - so, eat them with protein to slow down the process and keep you full and hit the treadmill a little harder that night. WORTH IT.
 
I get together with a few girlfriends of mine that I used to work with at a daycare center way back when. The friendships I made there stuck, and they both now have beautiful children. We trade houses when we get together, cook dinner, bring desserts, and sides, etc. It's awesome getting to see their kids grow and watch my friends change. They are both wonderful mothers - I digress.

I am more than convinced that mascarpone cheese is what dreams are made of - I know it is. This dish was made for me at one of those aforementioned get togethers on FRIDAY and I made it again on MONDAY because I couldn't stop thinking about it. That's how good this is. Oh and did I mention that it's really really easy? Which is just a bonus!

Ingredients:
1/2 box of small pasta - I used gemelli, because I think it's cute
1/4 cup of starchy pasta water
1/4 pound of mushrooms
1/3 of a bundle of asparagus spears, sliced into 1 inch thick sections
2 chicken breasts
8 ounce tub of mascarpone cheese
1-2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Basil, optional

Cook the pasta in one pot - salt the water more than you usually would. When the pasta is done, reserve 1/4 cup of the cloudy water, drain the pasta and set it aside.

Cut two chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces, cook in 1 tablespoon of olive oil with salt and pepper until cooked through. Set the chicken aside. Then add the cut asparagus to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes in the second tablespoon of olive oil, or until just soft. Then add the mushrooms (which will cook up quicker) and the starchy pasta water. When the mushrooms are cooked add in the mascarpone cheese and let it melt into all the goodness on medium low heat. Add in the pasta and the nutmeg. Plate once the pasta is fully coated. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper and basil.


Enjoy! (And thank you ROXIE!!)

March 18, 2012

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies represent the exact moment I fell in love with browned butter. If you have never had anything made with brown butter, you are missing out. Big time.

Girls night with a few girlfriends and their beautiful kids called for something yummy, and something with chocolate and these cookies fit the bill.


1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or if I'm really honest - I use a whole bag of chocolate chunks

Put the butter in a frying pan on medium high heat, swirling constantly until the butter turns a golden brown color and has a nutty smell to it. If you don't have unsalted butter on hand, just use regular butter, and omit the salt from the recipe.

Put the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add the egg. Pour the browned butter on top and stir until it's all mixed together. You are going to want to wait for the combination to cool off before adding the chocolate otherwise they will melt.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Add the chocolate chips and stir again. If you bake often, and you don't have a Silpat mat I highly recommend it. They make sure that your cookies don't turn into pancakes, and are evenly cooked. I obsess over mine. 

Drop the cookie dough onto the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.



Enjoy!

March 16, 2012

Mandarin Orange Salad

Alright - this is my "go-to" salad, and it's an old school betty crocker recipe - black and white pictures in the cookbook and everything! Mike loves this one because of the candied almonds and mandarin oranges - every time I make it I think it changes just a touch, but those two ingredients remain the same. We had this for dinner last night without adding any additional protein, give it a try!

Ingredients for the salad:
Your preferred lettuce - I use dark greens or spinach
1 (15 ounce) can of mandarin oranges
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
Scant 3/4 cup of sugar (which means a little less than)
4 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons of cilantro, minced

In a small saucepan heat the sugar and the almonds on medium to medium low heat. You want to mix it around often, but not too often - haha! You want the sugar to get hot and turn a caramel color covering the almonds. When it's completely dark and you can no longer identify the granules of sugar pour out onto a piece of tin foil and let it cool. That's the most difficult part right there and it just so happens to be the best part!

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper
A few dashes of tobasco sauce

Assemble the salad how you would like - add chicken or strawberries, omit an ingredient - whatever, make it yours and serve!



Enjoy!

March 14, 2012

Linguine in Egg Sauce

Since I'm sure everyone is wondering how the wedding went, I will simply say that it was the greatest day of my whole life! Every single detail was perfect.

The staff at the winery went above and beyond every step of the way - Sean, Shannon, Patricia, and Mary - special thanks to each of you! My bridesmaids were gorgeous - their up-dos were perfect (as was mine - thank you Holly at the hair district in Chanhassen, seriously go see her!).

The photographer and his wife who just so happens to be a licensed officiant were the world's greatest wedding team I have ever seen. Someone even pointed out to me that Andrew was trying to get to the front of the ceremony site in time for our first kiss, Janelle of course noticed this, and started talking slower so he had extra time to get there. I didn't pick up on it - so subtle. Big thank you to Andrew and Janelle Vick - we hope to see you soon!
 
More to come on the wedding later - including pictures. For now I'll move onto the food - it seemed fitting that the first recipe I made after the wedding would be out of "The Newlywed Cookbook" by Sarah Copeland. I picked it up from Ponte winery out in Temecula.

I used heavy whipping cream instead of half and half, and 1/2 lemon zested instead of a whole one.

Ingredients:
Sausage links - whichever kind you prefer I used spicy ones
1/2 box of linguine
4 egg yollks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan-reggiano cheese
The zest of about 1/2 a lemon 
1/2 cup of starchy pasta water
2 tablespoons chives, minced - I used parsley and I would have preferred chives!

Cook the pasta as usual in salty water - when cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Cut the sausage links into meatball sized chunks, cook in a frying pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. When browned set aside.  In a medium sized bowl add the cream, egg yolks, lemon zest, and cheese combine until yolks are smooth. When pasta has been drained, pour it back into the hot pot, adding the egg mixture and the sausages. Toss to coat. After a few minutes the egg mixture will thicken a bit. Use the starchy pasta water to loosen it a bit. Toss again and serve. Top with a few more chives, fresh cracked pepper, and extra cheese!
 



Enjoy!

March 10, 2012

Today

Today is March 10th, 2012. You know this, because you're not lame. But, you might not know that today is the day I am getting married! Do you hear wedding bells!?

When we got engaged it felt so surreal. We have been together seven years, and I could finally say "Mike is my fiancé, we are FINALLY going to get married!" We called our families to tell them the news, and then I called all of my bridesmaids, and somehow in that moment with tears streaming down my face and the happy squeals of my best friends, it was real.

If you haven't been engaged before you might not know that from that very moment, you get unsolicited advice from anyone and everyone. What I was told most was "love is a choice" and I think I hated that tidbit more than the others I received - because it just sounds so cold, and deep down I think we all still want to believe in the fairy tale, the idea that love won’t be hard and things will always work in our favor.
I'm not naive, reality set in years ago, but over the last 8 months, being engaged, and going through the roller coaster of planning a wedding (it's not always fun people) I have realized more and more that those stupid people are right. Love is a choice, each day I can choose to adore Mike and let my actions prove it. (Queue my mother saying “actions speak louder than words”) I can choose to see all the things he does for me instead of seeing the things he doesn’t. (I really do notice that you put the toaster away everyday honey!) Choosing him over something that will solely benefit me is love and it is a choice - a hard one that with practice gets easier all the time.
I have referred to myself on more than one occasion as the world's worst bride. Sure I chose flowers, a photographer and a cake, and sat with Mike and I's parents through the vendor meetings. But, the truth is, that's about all I did. My mom, my mother in law, and my bridesmaids did the heavy lifting. I give them the credit for how beautifully this day has come together and turned out.

My bridesmaids planned a bridal shower, and a bachelorette party without a second thought. Brit sat with me for 8 hours one day (after I called her in a panic) pulling pictures and ideas from magazines and organizing them into what became my wedding binder. Kelly was out of state at the time, but all she needed was the colors I chose for the wedding and my inbox was full of pictures, an invitation to Pinterest, and wedding ideas (many of which we used, because she has the tendency to find only the most adorable things). Sandy, who lived out of state the whole time came to the rescue more than once and was always asking what she could do to help. Seriously, you girls are the best.

If I sit and thank everyone I need to thank here, I will sound like I'm thanking the academy. So, instead, I'll write lots and lots of thank you notes. I am off to enjoy my last few hours as someone’s girlfriend/fiancé knowing that it’s the LAST time I won't be someone's wife but, I'll leave you with a few pictures! 

 {The weekend we started dating - 3.4.05}

 {Our senior prom and Mike's favorite picture}


So, happy Saturday to you, and happiest day of my life to me!

March 6, 2012

Bok Choy Stir-Fry

I love Mike, obviously - since I'm marrying him. If you know him you know that he RARELY has a bad day, so when I got home from work and he had that look on his face that I rarely see, I immediately felt awful. An hour later, he asks me to make a dish his mother has made for us a few times over the years - one I of course do not have on hand. I gave her a call, and she dug through her cookbooks and sent me the recipe. I ran off to the grocery store, and whipped this one up.

It is so not the recipe she sent along, but it was very good and it put the smile back on Mike's face!

Ingredients:
1 medium sized bok choy
2 small zucchinis
1 large red pepper
1 lb. chicken
1/3 cup of stir fry sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of hoisin sauce
3 scallions, for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste - optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Slice up all the vegetables and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil - sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook through. Set the cooked chicken aside. Pour the zucchini, red pepper and bok choy into the pan and cook until almost completely soft - about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, including the chicken. Cook through and stir to coat all the ingredients with the sauce. Serve over brown rice and top with scallions and sesame seeds.



Enjoy!

March 5, 2012

Marble Cake

Food had a tendency to come up on conversation with me, and when I meet someone new the answer to the age old "what's your favorite food?" question always interests me. Some people have really boring answers like chocolate, italian, or they give you the name of a bad restaurant. So, when I recently met someone new and found out his favorite food is marble cake I was very excited. You see, when someone asks you what your favorite food is, you should be specific. Why? Because it drastically increases your chances that they will make it for you!

Ingredients:
1/2 of this cake recipe
1/2 of this cake recipe

We used a 9 inch round springform pan for this cake - line the bottom with parchment paper for easy transfer when it's cooked. First pour in the chocolate cake batter and then pour in the white cake batter. With a spoon spin the two cake batters together until it looks swirled together - make sure you scoop all the way to the bottom and bring it up to the top. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

While the cake is still hot, run your knife around the outside edge of the pan, and open the springform pan. Let the cake cool, and frost with your favorite frosting. We used buttercream.

(Sorry for the crappy photos - all I had was my iPhone!)



Enjoy! (and happy birthday to a new friend!)

March 2, 2012

Kale Chips

I have been eating these a lot lately, and avocado fries, and salads, and mini pineapple upside down cakes and pretty much everything else I can get my hands on that doesn't have dairy in it. Anyway, since I've been eating these so often, I figured I should re-post them!

If you are someone who gets sucked into salty snacks and find yourself on the couch, watching TV consuming a bag of potato chips without even realizing it - this is the snack for you! Kale is insanely good for you, and ironically when you bake it, and add a little salt it tastes just like a normal, not so good for you potato chip!

I made two versions of these the standard ones and spicy ones.

Standard Ingredients:
Kale - one stem, leaves pulled off and torn into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt - to taste

Spicy Ingredients:
Kale - one stem, leaves pulled off and torn into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes - to taste
Lime juice - about a tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put all the ingredients from whichever version you are making into a bowl and mix until all the kale is coated. Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil, and spread everything out in one layer, bake for about 10 minutes. Check on them a bit earlier than that though just in case, they easily burn.





Enjoy!
 
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