Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Year Give Away!

One year ago today I started this blog! It's been fun to write about two of my favorite things: cooking and being married! I've really enjoyed hearing from you all things that you have liked making that you saw on the blog! To celebrate one year I wanted to do a small give-away! I am going to give one reader a five dollar gift card to Starbucks so you can stop in for a quick caffeine burst on one of these hot summer days! Here's how it works: leave a comment below telling me your favorite summertime activity. If you already a follower of the blog you can leave 2 comments below to increase your chances. If you aren't a follower you can become one and earn a bonus entry (so you can leave 2). Otherwise, it's one comment per person. The winner will be randomly selected on Monday July 4th. So leave a comment below with your favorite summertime activity and win a Starbucks gift card!

contest limited to U.S. addresses only please

It wouldn't be a blog entry without food so I wanted to give you all a great recipe for a quick but nice summer meal. Last night we made cedar salmon with couscous and grilled scallions. This meal was so easy, but it looks nice (something good for guests!). To do the salmon I used a cedar plank (soaked for about 4 hours). I'll admit it wasn't my favorite way to do salmon, but everyone should try it at least once. If you don't have a cedar plank you can just grill the salmon. Here's how you do it:

For the salmon you'll need: 2 6oz salmon fillets (or one 12 oz) 1 tsp each salt and pepper, 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 4-5 lemon slices and evoo. Heat the grill to 375. Meanwhile, sprinkle each fillet with the salt, pepper, and paprika. Drizzle them with evoo. If you're using the cedar plank, lay it down on the grill and then place the salmon on it. Place the lemon slices on the salmon. Grill for about 15 minutes on the plank until cooked through. If you're just grilling the salmon cook on the first side for 3-4 minutes, then flip and do the same.

For the scallions you'll need: 1 bunch of green onions (scallions), salt, pepper, and evoo. When you put the salmon on the grill prepare the scallions. Cut off the root ends of the scallions and then drizzle them with evoo and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the salmon has been on the grill for 5 minutes, add the scallions and cook until the salmon is finished. Keep and eye on them to make sure they aren't burning.

Prepare the couscous according to the box directions. Once it is cooked, you can add in your favorite oil based salad dressing such as Italian or a Romano Basil Vinaigrette. Once everything is cooked, plate it up, and enjoy!

Good luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Junk Food Night

Today I returned home from five days at camp. I am somewhat tired and ready to just "chill" for the next couple of days (until we head back to the beach!). So, when I got home husband had flowers waiting for me and the house was all clean! He also cooked dinner for me (grilled chicken salads), yum. After dinner, I proposed we have a junk food night since I am planning to get back on a "healthy schedule" after today. So, we drove to the store and grabbed some junk food night essentials: peanut m&ms, milk duds, cheetos, chocolate chip cookies, and dr. pepper. Now we're hanging out and watching movies, a perfect coming home night!

The blog's one year anniversary is on Wednesday, so stay tuned for a special post!
Until next time...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Herbed Tilapia & Parmesan Risotto

The past two weeks feel like a whirlwind! As I posted on before, we celebrated our 2 year anniversary last Monday and then I left on Thursday to celebrate one of my best friend's wedding. So fun! And- we also stayed in town to celebrate Father's Day and my Dad's birthday! I just got back yesterday and I am set to leave again on Thursday to take some kids to camp. Then, we leave three days after that for the beach to celebrate the Fourth. I can say that I will be glad for a few calm days at home, that will happen in July maybe?!

When I got home last night I had to improvise a little bit with dinner because we hadn't gone grocery shopping. So, I took some tilapia out of the freezer and gathered up ingredients for a simple risotto. I made up the risotto recipe as I went.

Since my herbs are for the most part doing well right now (when I say "well" I mean the basil and chives are doing really well, the parsley sort-of well, and the dill is dead, ha), I decided to dress the tilapia up with them. We had also ran out of evoo, so I had to substitute with butter. Here's what I did:

For the fish (2 servings) you'll need: 2 pieces of tilapia, a handful of each julienned basil, chopped parsley, and chopped chives, 2 tbs of butter, lemon slices, salt, and pepper.

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Place 1 tbs of butter on each fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Sprinkle the herbs over each piece of fish, and place the lemon slices on each.
4. Cook in the oven for 13-14 minutes until cooked through.

For the risotto (4 servings) you'll need: 1 32 oz. box of chicken broth, 1/2 cup water, 2 tbs evoo, 1 medium onion, chopped, 1 clove of garlic minced, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 3/4 cup aborio rice, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 tbs butter, 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat the evoo in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until cooked through, add salt and pepper
2. Meanwhile, combine the broth and water in a separate sauce pan, simmer on low
2. Add in the rice to the onions and cook for 1 minute
3. Add the wine and cook until absorbed
4. Add two ladlefuls of broth to the rice until absorbed, repeat with all of the remaining broth (this will take about 18 minutes)
5. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the butter and the parmesan

If you have the time (about 45 minutes), try this meal, it was very delicious!
Until next time...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Two Years, Wow!

Today husband and I celebrate two years of marriage! It has been a wonderful two years full of great times and some down times, but that's marriage. I can say that throughout this past year I have felt more loved by him than ever. He is one of my heroes. I am thankful for a man with a heart for the Lord and a heart to never stop seeking ways to know me and love me more. So as not to risk being too "mushy", I'll just leave this post with some of my favorite wedding pictures. Such a great day!

end of ceremony

pictures taken at my college

dance with Dad

leaving the reception

The Great Dinner Fiasco

We have arrived home from a week at the beach. We had a great time and were happy to end our week celebrating a friend's wedding in Nags Head yesterday. So fun! We woke up early and went to church this morning, came home, caught up on some tv shows we missed while at the beach (love DVR), and washed the car. Not too long after we washed the car, it rained. Awesome. The house is a big mess but I've decided to not doing anything about it until tomorrow; or maybe I will while husband watches basketball (boring). Tomorrow husband and I will celebrate two years of marriage! More on that tomorrow.

I guess since this past week I wasn't doing all primary cooking, I got off my game because tonight, dinner was a wreck! I was seriously struggling! I made a recipe from last month's Food Network Magazine called Capellini with Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. Here's my cooking adventure from tonight: To make this you will need 3 tbs evoo, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 280z can of whole (or crushed which is what I used) San Marzano tomatoes, 1 medium zucchini cut into small chunks, 1/4 cup fresh basil julienned, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. My first mistake was the only thing I really read in detail was the ingredients, I skimmed the recipe- oops. So I will walk you through how I did it (which I believe turned out the same as the original recipe) First, heat the evoo in a large skillet and add the garlic and red pepper and cook for about 1 minute. I decided to use my stainless steel skillet instead of my nonstick one tonight because it is bigger. That was mistake number two. It heated the evoo much quicker than I anticipated and the garlic and red pepper burned, but I keep moving (mistake three). After that, you add the zucchini and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. As I'm adding in my zucchini, I think I should just restart the garlic, but it was too late. So, I keep moving on, next adding the can of tomatoes to the mixture before cooking the zucchini all the way because I'm thinking I'll cool down this pan with the tomatoes, which worked, but now I didn't have soft zucchini. I then decide that I want to saute my zucchini so I remove it and put in a different skillet and cook it until soft, then add it back to the tomatoes. This all would have been avoided had I just used the nonstick skillet mind you. While all of this is working, cook 1/2 pound of capelleni or angel hair pasta until al dente. I did this, and as I'm draining my pasta, half of it falls in the sink. Ugh. I resume with the rest of the pasta, adding it to the tomato mixture. After you do this, stir in the basil. At this point the original recipe is complete. I grilled a large chicken breast (coated in 2 tbs evoo, salt, and pepper), cut it up, and added it into the mixture.

Despite my own personal mishaps, this is a simple and quick recipe. I think that more spices (such as oregano and maybe some parsley) could be added the sauce for more flavor. If you want the recipe "straight up" without my commentary, I linked it above.

Below is another picture from our beach trip. I don't really like any of the pictures that we took so this is the best I've got.

Favorite Kitchen Gadget: Box Grater. Ours is (I think) a Chefmate brand grater. It has a sliding door on the bottom to catch what you're grating and has a clear side with measurements so you know how much you've grated.

If you want some light summer reading, some of my fav's so far are: the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella- the books are fab, and "The Help" by Kathyrn Stockett.

Look for an anniversary edition post soon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Squash Casserole & The Beach So Far

We are finally at the beach! Husband has been coming to Hatteras since he was a child, and I've joined him the past five or six years. It's wonderful.

This past week we dined on some yummy food, one thing being squash casserole. It's my mom's recipe. I have had many friends, including my husband, who have said they don't like squash and/or casseroles and they like this squash casserole. Here's the recipe:

You'll need:
4-5 medium squash, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box of chicken flavor stove top stuffing
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, saute the squash and onion in 1 tbs of evoo until soft. Meanwhile, cook the stuffing in the microwave according to the microwave directions on the box, but do not use vegetable oil. After the squash is soft, transfer it into a 13x9 baking dish. Add the sour cream, milk, and cream of chicken soup. Mix together, add the salt and pepper. Place the prepared stuffing on top. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until bubbling.

I also made a peach crisp this past week. We LOVE this peach crisp. It's a recipe from Real Simple a few years back and it is my go to summer dessert recipe. Here's the recipe. I usually half it for just the two of us. Try it, you will love it.

I cooked dinner tonight here at the beach. We had a tomato brushetta appetizer. Then, for dinner we had parmesan crusted tilapia, zuchini & red onion saute, and roasted potatoes. It was all good, if I do say so myself! I found the brushetta recipe off the back of a New York Style bagel crisps bag. It was simple and good. Here it is:

1 large tomato, 1/4 inch diced
2 tbs red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh basil, chopped or julienned
1/8 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tbs evoo
New York Style bagel chips

Combine all of the above ingredients minus the bagel chips and mix well. Spoon the mixture on top of the bagel chips. Simple and good!

Favorite Kitchen Gadget: This isn't a gadget, but I love Ina Garten's new cookbook, "How Easy is That?". Kenneth's grandma gave it to me when we got to the beach!

I am leaving you with a picture of a seagull on the beach. I'll have more pictures to post later this week.