Wednesday, July 28, 2010

recipe rut: week 5

(click above for recipe)
I normally follow a recipe pretty closely the first time I try it out, but this one needed some tweaking for me. I had to forgo the cottage cheese in favor of ricotta. The sauce if wonderful, but next time I will use less parsley as we felt that the taste was too strong. This is delicious, but a good bit of work...I wouldn't make it again if it didn't provide two nights worth of dinner. The leftovers heated up nicely and it was almost better the second night. We both rated it a solid "8".

love this girl

this is my friend Katharine and her son Evan
I love her...
she makes this for me
and then does this to it...
and it looks like this...did I mention that I love her?

Katharine's Cherry Cobbler:
in a 9x9 pan, dump two cans of cherry pie filling. 
In a small bowl, empty contents of a box of Butter Pecan Cake mix. To this, add a stick of melted butter. Stir and put on top of cherry pie filling. Bake until golden brown and you just can't take the smell anymore. Take to a very grateful friend to share with. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe rut: week 4

Wow! This was a good recipe...Chicken Tortilla Casserole. Everyone loved it, it made enough for two nights, warmed up great the next day for leftovers, and was pretty easy...I'd call this a 'win-win' (win-win-win if you a fan of "The Office"). I did make a few changes to make it even easier for me and have denoted those in blue below.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total) I went ahead and just diced up my chicken and seasoned it
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced I didn't use it...swore I bought one, but it didn't make it home from the grocery store
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce I don't like this one bit. I used a can of green chilis
1¾ cups chicken broth
5 cups tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside. I just sauteed my chicken pieces and went on with the next step. I didn't even bother to remove them to a plate. 
Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer.
Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle. Because my chicken is already cut up, shredding isn't needed nor is removing it from the pan and cooling it.
Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 2-3 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.
Source: Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

*borrowed this image from Annie's Eat because we were too hungry and excited to stand it any longer...we dove in!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

and there it was...

proof that I indeed turned into my mother. 

Doughnuts, Haircuts, and the Pool

it used to be a very special event for Matt to get up a little early and get doughnuts...but it makes the rest of us so incredibly happy, that he has been going almost every weekend...yummy!

Emma Kate was having some WILD hair and it was time for a trim...really her only second one ever. All I did was take a little off the bottom to make it even and trimmed her bangs, which had sort of been growing, but going no where. She looks beautiful and was quite pleased with herself. 
Caroline let me take a couple inches of the length of hers as was getting long, but stringy and frizzy. It looks much more clean and healthy now...very sweet girls to sit so still and patient with me. 
Sam didn't get a hair cut, but look at this face!
We took the kids to the pool this weekend and the girls are getting so good at maneuvering with the water wings. Sam didn't really do a lot in the water, but towards the end of the day, he did jump to Matt a few times from the edge.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Good Friday

whew. we made it. this has been some week! I've have some nasty migraines and my three precious angels have been fighting like gladiators and vikings (cats and dogs? oh puh-leeze! not even!). I am never sure if I should break up the fights or let them work it I do a mixture of the two to cover my self. 

Today was a great day though. everyone slept well last night. sweet happy faces (that let me sleep in until 7) greeted me at breakfast. there was no fighting during my coffee time. the weather was nice and we went to the pool (no one was sunburnt). my friend brought over lunch. the kids did arts and crafts after lunch. long naps. happy faces after naps...what a wonderful day! 
have a great weekend...I'd say we've already started a good one here! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Good Friends

This past Saturday night we went to our friend's house for dinner. Caroline and Cade were in preschool together almost two years ago and still play together so nicely. Cade's younger brother, Logan, and the twins are also close in age, so everyone has a playmate. It was an easy, laid back (even with five children!) evening...we are so glad that we met them!

Chris made ice cream sundaes for the kids...Caroline loved the sprinkles!
Thanks for such a fun night Chris and JP!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Recipe rut: week 3

This is my Mom and Dad's new favorite chicken recipe. Not only is it delicious and healthy, but it is good too. I pulsed my veggies in the food processor to get very small pieces because I thought it would make it more kid-friendly (it worked! Caroline and Sam both had seconds).  Matthew and I both rated this a 9 out of 10 and will make it again very soon (I cannot stress the easy factor!). 
Creamy Vegetable topped Chicken (from Food and Wine magazine)

  1. 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  2. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  3. 2 scallions including green tops, chopped (I don't normally like these...but I try to follow a recipe pretty closely the first time I use it...glad I did as these add great flavor!)
  4. 1 carrot, grated
  5. 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (you can use reduced fat)
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  8. 4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds in all), skin removed (I used boneless chicken breasts)


  1. Heat the oven to 425° (per my mom's advice, I lowered the temp to 375 because we were using boneless breasts. I bumped it up toward the end to make to "crust" brown a little bit). In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the scallions and carrot and cook 2 minutes longer. Mix the vegetables with the cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the remaining 1/4 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Put the breasts in a roasting pan and spread them with the vegetable cream cheese. Bake the chicken until just done, 20 to 25 minutes.
*these a pretty rich, so we just had a salad with them

Recipe rut: week 2

This week the new recipe we auditioned was from The Pioneer Woman (no surprise) and it was her chicken pot pie. I make semi-homemade chicken pot pies quite often but never all the way from scratch because of my inability to make pie crust. Mine either feel apart or were tough or were just yucky, but because every recipe of Ree's is so wonderful, we had to give these a chance. 

Her pie crust uses this: Crisco. I know people swear by Crisco. I am sort of repulsed by it. Why would anyone use this when there is BUTTER? I had to put my faith in Ree and proceed. 
Here is her pie crust recipe:
  • 1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 5 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
Preparation Instructions
In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Separate the dough into halves. Form 2 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)
When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.
With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

* it was a good pie crust, but I still need to practice as it was crumbly and not so easy to work with...but it is my best attempt to date. My crust was super wet, so I had either only added 2 cups initially, and I had to add another cup, or I added 3 cups initially and it still needed an extra's a mystery.

Here is the Pioneer Woman's Chicken Pot Pie Recipe:
3 celery stalks
3 medium carrots, peeled (I used baby carrots, about 2 cups)
1 large yellow onion
4 tablespoons butter (I opted for olive oil)
1/2 c frozen peas
2 c cooked chicken
1/4 c all purpose flour
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube (I didn't use one)
1/4 white wine (wow! this makes all the difference!)
1 c heavy cream (I used the fat-free Land O'Lakes cream and it was great)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 recipe Perfect Pie Crust (see above)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Finely dice the vegetables
3. Melt the butter (or add the olive oil) to a large dutch oven and saute the veggies until translucent (a couple of minutes)
4. Add the chicken and stir to combine. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the mixture and stir. Cook for a few minutes, stirring gently.
5. Pour in the chicken, broth stirring constantly. Add bouillon cube (if using) and wine (please, don't skip this step). 
6. Pour in cream and allow to cook over low heat until thickened. Add seasonings. 
7. Pour into a deep dish pie pan.
8. Roll out the crust and gently press onto sides of the dish. I am paraphrasing here because I am typing this out, not just cutting and pasting from somewhere online.
9. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. 
10. Wow! Delish! 

*next time, I am making two at once because the crust recipe makes two servings and you have already done all of the chopping and cooking...this was a great recipe and Matthew rated it a "high, high 9"

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Photoshop: It's a good thing

love this boy. love his smile. love his giggle. love his mischievious looks. 
his excuse to use the potty to run around au natural, not so much. 
well, I guess I even love that about him.