Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer so far...

Sorry for the delay in posting! Things have been busy around here, but we are winding down, because it is now...summer! Thursday was my last day at school. From there, we headed to NC to see MIL. We came back on Sunday, I cleaned up a little around here on Monday, and today we went to the Blue Ridge Parkway and went hiking, then hung around Lynchburg for a little while. We hiked the mountain where husband proposed to me. It was fun, but the end of the hike was a bit tougher than I had remembered. I think that since the last time he and I went there I was in a bit of euphoria (due to his proposing) that I forgot about the toughness of the end bit of it, but we made it, even despite my whining. He was a good sport. And- the way down was way better. We talked about a list of things we want to do this upcoming year. It was exciting. We ate dinner at a tapas restaurant in Lynchburg called Dish, you should check it out if you're ever in town.

this is where he proposed

flowers along the trail

summit of Flat Top Mountain

Since it is now summer, it is also now hot. We only have AC window units, so it gets quite toasty in here. I just had to get up from typing this and stand in front of the fan for a minute because I'm roasting!

In other news, my herbs are happy about the heat and they are doing much better. I had posted a few weeks ago about their dismal state. I am happy to report that they are looking much healthier. And- I am now on round three of dill, third time's a charm, right?

I have indeed been cooking recently, but I have not posted about any of the meals. Most of the meals at the end of the school year were ones I had posted on before. We did try a new recipe out of Southern Living called Tomato-Herb Mini Frittatas, only ours did not include the tomatoes. They were pretty good. I'm linking the recipe here. Up for the rest of this week's menu is: fish cakes & roasted potatoes and scallions, grilled chicken with squash casserole (you NEED this recipe it's so good, I'll post it!), and grilled flank steak with grilled vegetable packets. So- look forward to some good summer recipes coming up soon!

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

This past weekend we celebrated my Mom’s birthday. Husband and I arrived and hung out with my family for the day and then cooked dinner (with the help of Dad & brother). We had a good time both making and eating the food! For dinner we made: lemon-pepper grilled chicken, roasted asparagus with mustard vinaigrette, roasted tomatoes, and my favorite risotto. I’ve made some of these before so I’ll link the recipes. The mustard vinaigrette for the asparagus was a new recipe that MIL gave me. It was a really good variation for roasted asparagus. Here’s the recipe:

Mustard Vinaigrette:

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tbs fresh thyme, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp whole grain mustard, salt, pepper. Whisk all of the ingredients together, enjoy!

I also made a Key Lime cake, which was actually, get ready, really good! I was so excited (and so were the people who had to eat it). We had a great weekend!

Tonight, as the last week of school is progressing, I feel exhausted. I started drinking coffee at 7:30 tonight to stay awake to watch a movie, ha. I’m drinking it in my favorite Steamboat Willie coffee mug!

Favorite Kitchen Gadget: Silicone Tongs. I love my silicone tipped tongs because they are awesome when you’re cooking in a non-stick pot/pan and need to use the tongs to turn meat or something; they won’t scratch up the finish. Great!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Periodically we have breakfast for dinner; sometimes it is planned and sometimes I whip it up in the event of us not having gone grocery shopping. This month in Southern Living they featured a “Mother’s Day Breakfast” recipe: French Toast English Muffins. It is sort-of a make-ahead meal, which is good for a busy weeknight; and, it tastes good!

Here’s what you need:

4 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp orange zest

3-4 English muffins, split

Optional Toppings:

maple syrup

Greek yogurt

fresh cut fruit such as strawberries

What you do:

Whisk together the first four ingredients. Spread out the muffins in a 13x9 baking pan and cover with the batter. Chill for 8-12 hours.

Heat a non-stick skillet up over medium heat. (I put in a pat of butter to keep the muffins from sticking & for extra flavor). Remove the muffins from the mixture and heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Serve with toppings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Always Trust Your Instincts

So last night, I start making dinner: broccoli & beef flat bread. This is basically a broccoli and beef pizza. I figure, this is simple, easy, and requires little time to prepare; most of the time it is in the oven. This is all great news because I had just woken up from a late-afternoon nap and was, per usual, very grumpy and did not feel much like making dinner. (Afternoon naps+ Courtney = bad news. I've been like that all my life, you'd think I'd learn.) Anyway, so I go in to make dinner. Everything is grand and the dish is indeed quick and simple. I throw the thing in the oven, set the timer for 30 minutes (that is what the recipe said after all) and go about doing other things. After a while, I start to smell the aroma of the flat bread pizza. My instincts are telling me to check on it, but my laziness was telling me otherwise. I stuck with lazy and didn't go check. The timer goes off, I retrieve the flat bread from the oven, and what do you know, it's is burnt, like, way burnt- black all around the edges. I decide that the middle part is salvageable and we ate it. My husband was very sweet to even attempt eating it. It didn't taste awful and we got through it, but my whole apartment smelled. It still smelled this morning and the smell was enough to make me never want to eat it again, even though it could be really good with less cooking time. So, lesson: trust your instincts when cooking, they're probably right.

For the broccoli & beef flat bread you'll need: the oven preheated to 400, 1 roll premade pizza dough, 1/4 cup cornmeal/grits, 1lb ground beef, browned, 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, 1 head of broccoli, chopped with stems removed, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 tbs dried basil, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt, and pepper .

1. Coat a baking pan with cornmeal or grits. Roll the dough on to it. Spread out the beef.

2. Top the beef with the onions.

3. Next, add the broccoli.

4. Top with the cheese and bake for around 20 minutes & check on it at least once!

I did not take a picture of the final product because I am embarrassed and ashamed. This picture is from Real Simple where I got the recipe.

Favorite Kitchen Gadget: Palm Vegetable Scrubber. I love this little scrubber. It slips over a finger and you hold it in your palm to scrub your vegetables. It's great!

I'm off to clean the apartment, joy. I wish I had a fleet of minions to come do this for me. Until next time...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Favorite Things

So tonight as I went to make dinner, I looked at the recipe and decided that it was just not going to work out. So I used the recipe more as an inspiration. I cooked a light Mediterranean-like pasta dish with chicken. I'm not going to post the recipe yet because I want to make it again and tweak it a bit. Here is the original recipe which I think would be good especially if you add chicken and feta cheese.

I decided that tonight I just wanted to share some of my recent favorite things in life.

1. I love pilates. As I have mentioned before, I don't like to work out. Pilates doesn't even feel to me like I'm exercising, but it is a work out, so it's win win. I love the instantly streamed video, "Choose Your Level Weight Loss Pilates" from Netflix- perfect for an at home workout.

2. When my husband washes the dishes...it is awesome to have cooked a meal and not have to worry about cleaning it up. He does the dishes most every night, love it.

3. My Pottery Barn, "asparagus platter"...it is not just for asparagus, but that's what its called. It is a great size and perfect for serving up many different foods.

4. The Bible verse that was read at the Royal wedding (yes I watched it, and yes I liked it). It's Romans 12: 1-2, 9-19...my favorite part from the translation they read was: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. "

5. This mini exchange I had with husband the other day while watching a Braves game...he always puts things in perspective, ha:
me- who is that player with the blonde hair?
husband- McClouth
me- oh he's cute...is he married?
husband- no, but you are.

Favorite Kitchen Gadget: This really isn't a gadget, but I love my stainless steel soup pot. It is a perfect size for making a small batch of soup, boiling pasta for two, or for boiling some potatoes to make mashed potatoes. It's also good for hard-boiling eight or so eggs.