Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's Been a While

It's been a while since my last post. Life has been bustling and busy! I'm happy to report that I am sickness-free. I am hoping to avoid any more flu for at least the rest of this year! I've been cooking off and on the past couple of weeks. One of my favorite meals of the year came along two weeks ago: St. Patrick's Day dinner! We had corned beef, Irish potatoes, and cabbage. It was very yummy and I enjoyed the leftovers for a few days.

Last week I fixed a super easy one pan meal that was really good. I am calling it roasted chicken and vegetables. This is a great meal to make if you don't have a ton of hands-on time. You really only need about ten minutes to prep all of the ingredients and the rest of the time is cooking time in the oven. For this dish (2 servings) you will need: 2 chicken breasts, a bunch of scallions- white and green parts, cut into thrids, 3 gold potatoes (or whatever potato you have) diced, baby carrots, evoo, paprika, salt, and pepper. Preheat the oven to 450. First start by prepping the chicken. To do this, rub the chicken with olive oil on both sides. Next, sprinkle the paprika over the chicken. You want enough to cover the top of the chicken. After that, sprinkle it with the salt and pepper. Put the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet (easier clean up) and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. After fifteen minutes, take the chicken out and add the vegetables to the pan. Drizzle them with olive oil, and add salt and pepper. You can sprinkle some lemon juice over it all for extra flavor. Place all of that back into the oven for another 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. So easy, so great!

The last picture is one from a lunch that I had this weekend while in Annapolis, Maryland. One of husband's best friends got married this weekend so we had a great weekend celebrating in Annapolis. This is a dish called crab-stuffed shrimp accompanied by rice pilaf and asparagus from the Federal House. I had gotten it there before and liked it a lot better the first time, but it was still pretty good the second!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wrapping up the Weekend

Yesterday, husband and I had a date in town at The Bakery. If you ever visit Farmville, Virginia, you need to stop in here. It is a quaint little sandwich shop with a European bistro feel to it. I had a tuna salad sandwich and husband had chicken salad. Both were served on a freshly baked baguette. Afterward we ran some errands around town.

It's been a good weekend, relaxing at home. Unfortunately, I believe I now have a second round of the flu. I started to feel "yucky" last night and woke up with a fever this morning. So, now, in the past month I've had two rounds of the flu and strep throat. Ahh! I'm ready to feel better and to be medicine free. In good news though, I think my fever has gone down a little this afternoon. I am enjoying some fresh air with the windows open right now, I love it.

Dinner tonight is supposed to be pork tenderloin and mashed sweet potatoes. I'll use the linked recipes as a guide for the meal. It may happen it may not, we shall see how I'm feeling then. Until next time...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stuffed: Shells & Pillows

Tomorrow is Friday. It hasn't been an awful week or anything, but it's just been one of those week's where I'm ready for it to be over. So, I am happy that tomorrow is indeed Friday. Saturday I plan to get up and do things around the house like my mom used to do on Saturday mornings. We're not in town very many weekends this time of year, so I am looking forward to a weekend home to get some things done. It's weird because usually I do these chore-type things tonight, but I'm not- well, I did take all of my husband's junk that he left everywhere (which does not bode well with my ocd-like habits) and threw it in his office; it was very therapeutic. No, tonight I'll relax, read, enjoy the sound of the rain, and make dinner.

Up tonight are ricotta-stuffed shells. This is a meat-free recipe that I'm adapting to make my own from an issue of Real Simple last year. I like this recipe because it's really easy and you can make as much or as little as you want. Tonight I'm not feeling particularly hungry, so I'm only going to make a few. To make the shells you'll need the following (this will make about 2 servings, you can adjust accordingly): 6-7 jumbo shells, 1/2 jar or 12oz of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese, olive oil, and 4 generous handfuls of fresh spinach leaves. Preheat the oven to 400.

First, cook the pasta according the package directions. Drain them and run under cold water until cooled. While the pasta is working, sautee the spinach in a skillet with about 1 tbs of olive oil. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Next, pour your pasta sauce in a square baking dish (larger if you're making more shells). In a bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan (reserve a few pinches), sauteed spinach, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, gently stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture. Place the shells into the baking dish and top with the reserved parmesan. Bake the shells in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, until the shells are heated through. Increase the heat to broil for around 2 minutes, until the parmesan on top starts to brown.

While I was gathering my ingredients for tonight's dinner, I happened upon a bag of Easter Peanut M&Ms that husband and I bought last night. You should know that these are my favorite Peanut M&Ms that come out all year. I love the colors and there's just something different about the way they taste. I poured them into a bowl I painted last year and ate some with a smile of my face.

I blogged about making pillows last weekend in my previous post. I'm really not a great sewer, but I'm getting more practice. Here's a picture of the finished products. Most of them are in our living room and the long white one goes on our bed. The best part about them is that they only cost about $10 to make all four. We have a great fabric place in town that sells remnants that are perfect for making small pillows.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Basil Chicken Hash & Weekend Plans

I'm so thankful that it's finally the weekend! Last night my friend Jesse came over and we cooked dinner together. We made Basil Chicken Hash, an Ina Garten recipe. When Ina made it she was making it as a recollection of a party that Truman Capote had hosted. It was really good and so colorful! I made some small changes to the recipe. My version makes 4-5 servings. Here's what you'll need:

2 skinless chicken breasts
basil (dried or chopped fresh)
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 tbs butter
4 medium gold potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, large diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp of thyme leaves
1 tbs tomato paste
3 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

First, coat the chicken in olive oil and rub on the basil, salt, and pepper, to coat. Place it on a baking sheet, and bake the chicken in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Once it is finished, let it rest until it is cool enough to handle. Dice the chicken into small pieces.

Melt 1 tbs of the butter and 1 tbs or so of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and onions, salt and pepper (to taste) and cook until cooked through, about 1o minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saute pan, melt the other 1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the peppers, garlic, paprika, thyme, tomato paste, and a little salt and pepper. Saute until the peppers are slightly seared on the outside.

Then, add the pepper mixture and the diced chicken to the potatoes and heat through. Add the scallions and parsley and enjoy!

If you have a hard time multi-taking it would be a good idea to go ahead and make sure all of your ingredients are measured and chopped before you start. I usually chop as I go, so it does require a bit of work if you do it that way.

After dinner, we made homemade chocolate pudding. It turned out pretty good.

This afternoon I'm planning to sew up some pillows with some fabric I bought earlier today. Then, I'm headed to Jesse's for dinner and mass tomorrow morning. Husband comes home tomorrow!! Horray!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back in Action

Apparently my body felt as if the last four weeks would be the perfect time to catch some sort of illness every other week. Tuesday night my throat began to ache, so I took some ibuprofen, went to bed, and tried to ignore it. Well, on Wednesday morning, it was quite hard to ignore the extreme pain in my throat, but I got up, got ready, and went on to work anyway. I made a doctor's appointment for that evening and as it turns out I have strep. Terrific. But now, thanks to one "mis-faxed" prescription, a breakdown in the Rite Aid parking lot because of the lost faxed prescription, a bottle of medicine an hour after I should have gotten it, a good night's sleep, and day of rest, I am feeling better. I do hope that this is the last round of sickness for me for a long while.

Last night, as I sat in Rite Aid waiting for my prescription that I wasn't supposed to wait for, I thought of many things. One- it's awful to be by yourself when you're sick. Two- I realized that there was no way that I was going to be able to make myself something to eat. Three- I would have to buy yogurt- which I really dislike- to accompany the medicine. So finally after I retrieved my meds, I ran into the grocery store and grabbed the first 3 yogurts I saw and a frozen dinner. So ladies and gentlemen, last night I dined on Stouffers turkey and mashed potatoes. Thank you Stouffers for making life easier for sick wives whose husbands are in Colorado.

Today, I watched TV and rested most of the day. So, I spent my energy tonight to make dinner. It was time to get back in action. I made a recipe from January's Food Network Magazine: Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic Smashed Potatoes. I changed it a little to use some of the ingredients that I already had and to make it 2 servings instead of 4. For this recipe (my version) you'll need: 3 medium sized gold potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic-sliced, 2 boneless pork chops, 2 tsp of sage, evoo, 1 medium onion- cut into wedges, 1 Granny Smith apple cut into thin wedges, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tbs butter, salt, and pepper.

1. First dice the potatoes and add them and the garlic to a sauce pan. Cover them with cold water and boil them for about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, season the pork chops with the sage, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 tbs of evoo in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pork chops until they are golden brown on each side. This takes about 4 minutes. Once they are golden, transfer them to a plate. Drain out the liquid from the skillet, wipe clean, and heat 1 tbs of evoo back in the skillet. Add the onion and apple and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Then, stir in the cider.
3. Place the pork chops back in the skillet and cover. Cook for 4 more minutes, turning once to cook them through. While that is working, drain the potatoes, and transfer them back to the pot. Add the butter, salt, and pepper. Using an electric mixer, mix the potatoes, slowly adding the milk until creamy.

It was good- you should try it! Well, I'm off to rest up- back to work tomorrow. Four more days and husband will be home!