Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lemon Chicken



I received this recipe from my sister in law Anna (http://annaminzel.com/), and am so glad I tried it! One of my favorite dishes from Buca's when I worked there was their Lemon Chicken, but its one that I have never tried to make on my own. I loved the flavors of lemon, capers and chicken all mixed into a great dish.

Lemon chicken:

Ingredients

•1 pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips (I used about 4 breasts)
•1 cup of cold chicken broth
•1 T cornstarch
•1 t yellow mustard (I like mustard so I use more like 1 T)
•1 t sugar
•juice of 2 lemons and their zest
•1/2 cup or small jar of capers
•salt to taste
1.Heat a pan with a little olive oil on medium heat. Fry chicken strips until golden brown, then remove.
2.Whisk cold chicken broth and cornstarch together, add it to the pan and whisk until slightly thickened. Add mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, salt to taste (I don’t add much cause the mustard tastes salty enough).
3.Add chicken back into the pan along with the capers, simmer for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins




I felt inspired today to use up some of the whole wheat flour that was taking up valuable real estate space in my pantry for quite some time. I also have been craving some morning pastries lately, so I thought I would give this whole wheat chocolate chip muffin recipe a try. The recipe was great! It was a bit sweet though, so I think next time I may add half the amount of chocolate chips (especially since I plan on eating these for breakfast). I also really liked the fact that this recipe only yields 12 muffins (seems like any time I make muffins, it always makes 2 dozen, and I end up throwing away half of them). Any time I have an ingredient that I want to use up, but am not sure what to make, I turn to the What's Cooking board on the Nest (http://community.thenest.com/cs/ks/forums/4110129/ShowForum.aspx?MsdVisit=1). The girls on there always seem to have some great suggestions. I was pointed this recipe from a girl on the board.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins:

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon extra-strong flavor, optional*
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour*
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips
coarse sparkling sugar, for topping

*Add a little extra zing to your muffins with a complementary flavor: cinnamon and coconut extra-strong flavors are both good choices. Start with 1/8 teaspoon, adding more to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with muffin cups, and grease the muffin cups) a standard-size muffin pan.

Beat together the butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and flavor (if you're using it) until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then stir in the milk. Mix in the flour, then the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups; they’ll be quite full. Sprinkle each muffin with a little coarse sugar. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out without crumbs clinging to it (a little chocolate is OK!).
Yield: 12 muffins.

Recipe from: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/golden-chocolate-chip-muffins-recipe

Come and see Peyton's blog!

I have started a blog for our daughter Peyton that includes the adventures of pregnancy, decorating her nursery, belly pics and more. You can find it at www.peanutkirkpatrick.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Getting back in the saddle!



It has been WAY. TOO. LONG. since I have made a post here. I am making a commitment to continue this blog and be here more often!

I am always asking everyone what their go-to weeknight dinner meals are. I get sick of the same old things that we tend to be drawn to just to have a quick meal. This is why I am starting a list for myself of all the different quick weeknight meals we make and will continue to try out new recipes to be able to add to the list.

I came across a meal that I really wanted to try on a blog that I frequent on a regular basis. (http://annies-eats.com/). Annie says in her review of this recipe that its a super easy weeknight meal to make. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it was super easy, it in fact was a tad bit more time consuming that I thought, but it still was doable for a weeknight, and the next time around I am sure it will go faster for me now having made it once. I loved this meal (the leftovers the next day were even really good, maybe even better than the first night), and John really liked it as well. This will be one added to the list!

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total) (I only used 3 halves since my halves were pretty big)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced (I used red onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I used canned jalapeno peppers)
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

Directions:
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.

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 (I thought this would be a weird step thinking that the tortilla chips would just get all mushy and not taste good, but I followed the recipe, so in they went. Turns out they do mush up, but they make the "sauce" if you will. Definitely a needed step, trust me on this one). 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 (took mine about 20 min-maybe I will cook them longer in the original pan). Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle (I threw my chicken into the food processor and cut shredded it in there-SUPER EASY to do it this way).

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.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yes, there is a reason I'm this hungry!

John and I are beyond thrilled to announce that we will be adding to our family! Next May (the day after my birthday is our exact due date), we will either have a baby boy or a baby girl to join us. Of course we are extatic, excited, giddy, nervous, in planning mode....I could go on and on. We feel extremely blessed with this life event and could not be more happy about it.

John and I are NOT at all secret keepers. A lot of people would probably never tell their friends and family before the 10 week mark (or so), but that is definitely not us. A couple of weeks ago, we headed over to our families house to share the good news with them. I was only able to snap photo's of what we gave my mom and Tommy to let them in on our news. When I was little I had a lamb-y that I would sleep with each and every night. I found it only appropriate when I came across a lamb at Janie and Jack to give it to my mom to tell her she was going to be a Nana. Here is what we gave them.

She opened it up, read the poem (you'll have to excuse my lack of poem skills here, but they worked) and knew right away what we were telling her. She was thrilled of course.

That same night we were having dinner with John's family, the perfect occasion to break the news. To dinner, I work a black shirt that said "Knocked Up" on it with a zipped-up hoodie over it. We waited for everyone to arrive (his mom, dad, sister Katie, her husband Todd, and mom's good friend Donna), and then I casually took off my hoodie. Todd noticed almost immediately and said "Niffy....do you have something to tell us." I was blank at what to say because I had expected John to chime in for some reason, so I didn't say anything and he just gave me a hug. Then everyone else figured out what was going on and of course they were all thrilled.

My dad's birthday was a couple of weeks back, so we told him we wanted to stop by that day and bring by a belated birthday gift. In his birthday bag was an "I love grandpa" bib and onesie. He and Judith were beyond shocked. I don't think they saw this one coming at all. It was pretty funny. They too were thrilled.

Stay tuned to read about our journey along the way...



Is there a reason I am this hungry???? :)

I had bought this giant bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken tenders from Costco a couple of weeks ago and since I had taken 5 or 6 of them out of the freezer to eat up, I had to come up with something fast so they didn't go to waste. I wanted to try something new, yet on the healthy side and came across a great recipe for Healthy Chicken Parmesan on one of my go to blogs Annie's Eats (http://annies-eats.com/). Plus, I knew this was a "guy friendly" food, so I figured John would go for it. They turned out great! Super easy, not time consuming, and I had all of the ingredients on hand which makes it even nicer. We will definitely be making these bad boys again. :)
Chicken ParmesanIngredients:
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (I used regular seasoned bread crumbs)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tbsp. water
vegetable cooking spray
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into halves (4 pieces total)(I used boneless, skinless chicken tenders and did NOT butterfly them)
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil (I didn't use fresh)


Directions:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Combine the breadcrumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat until golden, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish and allow to cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.
In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish whisk together the egg whites and water.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each chicken piece in the flour to coat completely, shaking off the excess. Then dip into the egg whites and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Press on the breadcrumbs to make sure they adhere. Place the chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the chicken is no longer pink and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce over the top of each piece of chicken and top with 2 tablespoons of the shredded mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve as desired, with extra Parmesan and marinara sauce.

Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, October 2006

Fall is in the air and so is...Apple Crisp!

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to make John something special for dessert just because. Knowing that he is not at all a chocolate person, I asked him if he could have anything at all that night home made for dessert for him, what would he choose? And he chose Apple Crisp. I didn't have a go to recipe that I use for this, so I decided to try something new. I finally came across a Peach Crisp on Pioneer Woman's Blog (http://thepioneerwoman.com/). I decided to change it up to make it an apple crisp, and also to try the amazing maple cream sauce that she accompanied with hers. John is more of your traditional dessert guy, so he had vanilla ice cream on his, but I made and tried the Maple Cream Sauce, and it is just as Pioneer Woman says in her entry-" And DO NOT taste it. It’s evil and lethal and rude." It was YUMMY!!!!!!!!! So yummy that I couldn't stop thinking about it and had to have it again the next night. I am so glad that I found this recipe so that I can use it as my go to Apple Crisp. As usual my photo doesn't do it justice, but gives you hopefully a little mouthwatering taste of it. Enjoy!

Apple Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce:

1 C Flour
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 Tsp salt
1 Stick Butter (or 1/2 C)
5-6 C peeled and cubed apples
Zest from 1/2 of a lemon
2 Tbsp real maple syrup
1 1/2 C Heavy whipping cream
5 Tbsp real maple syrup
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
Mix together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Take the butter, cut it into bits (hint: use butter right out of the fridge so its easier to cut), and add to the bowl. With a fork (or pastry cutter, whatever makes your skirt fly up), begin mixing the butter with the flour mixture until the butter is evenly mixed in.
In a separate bowl, mix the apples, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp maple syrup.
Pour the apple mixture into a 9 inch square baking pan (or similar). Add the dry ingredients on top. Lightly even out the mixture with a fork. Cover it with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 min. After fifteen minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until top is crisp and brown. Sometimes I let it bake for 25 minutes or so, then crank on the broiler for a couple of minutes just to get the top nice and bubbly and crisp. If you do this, though, DO NOT walk away from the oven to answer the doorbell or change laundry loads. You’ll never forgive yourself.
While the crisp is baking, mix the heavy whipping cream, 5 Tbsp maple syrup, and corn syrup over medium heat in a saucepan. Stir together and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and reduced by about 1/3. This should take about 15 minutes. No need to stir vigorously or anything; just enough to prevent sauce from sticking to the pan.Now. You can chill it in the fridge until it’s cold and thick. OR, you can take this shortcut: set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice. The ice will melt a little and turn to ice water, and as you stir the sauce, it will cool and thicken. Within about fifteen minutes, it’s cold!
When done, drizzle maple sauce over crisp and enjoy!

WAYYYYYYYYYYYY Overdue but.....

Valen Tickle has entered the world! Lucie and Chris welcomed him back in June, so as you can imagine he already looks so different than this picture, but I wanted to celebrate him on my blog. Valen is one lucky little boy to have Lucie and Chris as parents. They are wonderful people! I am thrilled to get to see them take the journey through parenthood and can't wait to watch Valen grown up!

Camping 2009!

Back in the middle of August John and I drove up to Darrington and had a fantastic weekend camping with our good friends Hayley and Brian. We had literally been planning this weekend for months, so we were all super excited to kick back, do some river floating, clinking some glasses and eating good cheap camping food. The weekend turned out a success! We did several floats down the river (a couple of popped boats and tubes, the boys falling off a high jump, and some good ol' Coors Light keeping cold in the bottom of John's tube), played a fierce game of lawn darts (Hayley and I got in some serious trouble with the outcome of this game), and some good story telling around the campfire. This camping is rouging it big time since there is no bathroom at all, which also means no showers. We all got to know the port-o-potty that we borrowed from John's parents. Let me just tell you how great it was to use a regular toilet and have a shower when we got home from the weekend! Hayley and Brian are getting married in a couple of months, so this was one big last fun couples weekend before they take the plunge. Great weekend and great people!







Sunday, August 30, 2009

OR Wine Trip Review/Photo's-Finally!

For our one year anniversary, John and I decided to head down to Oregon Wine Country and tour the gazillion wineries that the state has to offer. It was a week packed full of wine tasting, picnics, and relaxing time. The week started off with the 2 1/2 hour drive into Salem where we stopped at Willamette Valley Winery, which was about 1 mile from the house we rented. I knew that the first wedding anniversary traditionally is paper and had been racking my head to come up with something to give John. I finally decided on a wine journal so that he could write down where we went, what we tasted, what we liked and disliked, etc. I gave him the journal right before we had our first taste of wine at Willamette Valley. We took the grand tour there, which was great, and were even treated to some barrel samplings from the wine makers son (John absolutely loved this). We stayed at a little farmhouse in Salem that we found on www.vrbo.com. While we really liked the house, we would not choose that location again. If we were to go again (which we hope to sometime in the near future), we would stay in either Dundee, McMinville, Newberg, Dayton, or Carlton. Those cities are really close to each other and each have a ton of different wineries at them. We thought that area was really the heart of the Willamette Valley Wine area. If you haven't checked out www.vrbo.com before, do. Its a really great site for finding places to stay if you don't want to stay in a hotel. I know that in those cities, there are a number of bed and breakfast's as well. John is quite the savvy map guy and planner, so did a lot of research before we went on which wineries were know to have great pino's. He mapped everything out so that we knew where we were going (he even went as far as to print information off each wineries website, so we could read a little about them before we went). We were both thrilled with the places we chose to visit, and felt that we got excellent wine (we came home with 30 different bottles!) Here is a list of places that we went:
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards
  • Trinity Cristom Vineyards
  • Witness Tree
  • Le Cadeau
  • Erath
  • Solena Cellars
  • 7 of Hearts
  • Torii Mor
  • Duck Pond
  • Archery Summit
  • Annie Amie
  • Redhawk
  • Bethel Heights
  • Sokol Blosser
  • Duponte
  • St. Innocent
  • Vista Hills
  • Winters Hill
  • Wine Works/Zivo
  • Twelve
  • Barking Frog
  • Yamhill Vineyards
  • Maysara
  • Van Duzer

Here is a link to a great map of the area that shows all the wineries: http://www.winesnw.com/will.html. We used this everywhere we went and found it extremely helpful. Most of the wineries have a hard copy of this map as well, so you can ask at your first winery for one (they are free). This is also a great site that will show you hours and location of wineries: http://www.willamettewines.com/ (Some are appointment only, but not very many). Most should be open on the weekends.

We went to Duck Pond on our anniversary, and John had made reservations for a tour with them before hand. They knew it was our anniversary, and they went above and beyond for us. For $20, we got a tour of the winery, barrel tastings, a private table out on their terrace where someone waited on us and brought us a huge appetizer spread, brought tastings of wine right to our table, dessert, and they even sent us home with a complimentary bottle of wine. Their wine is good too, so definitely worth it.

Carlton is a small town that has a bunch of restaurants and wine tasting rooms there in the town. It was great to go and park our car and just walk around to the tasting rooms.

Before we left John had found an article somewhere online that listed out some of Oregon's best Pino Noir's (our favorite). We used this as a guide to choose which wineries we went to. La Cadeau winery is owned by a couple who spends half their time in Minnesota, and half their time at their vineyard in OR. John had contacted the owner before we left and to our surprise he was going to be in town while we were there. We made an appointment and got directions. As we were following the directions to the winery, we thought we were getting lost. There were so many windy, gravel roads that we felt were going to lead us to no where. Finally, we pulled up to a private residence and winery, with a breathtaking view. When we got there, 2 other couples were sitting out on the owners private patio of his house sipping on wine, and snacking on cheese and crackers. It was very intimate, just the 8 of us sitting around on the patio, talking about wine, and tasting some excellent pino's. After we tasted, the other couples left and it was just John and I and the owners. They walked us around their vineyards and talked to us about how they ended up owning a winery. It was such a great experience to be doing all of that with the actual winery owners, we felt quite special. An experience we are grateful for. We will be saving this bottle of wine for a very special occasion.

Our wedding had been videotaped by a friend and we had never watched the footage. I decided for our anniversary to hire a videographer to edit the footage and put it to music as a surprise to John. On our anniversary, I gave John his gift and we watched the footage of our wedding for the very first time. He loved it!

John made me a shadow box with a small journal inside so that we can write a little about each year of marriage as we celebrate them. It was very sweet and very thoughtful.

We had a wonderful time, learned a lot about wine and tried different kinds of wines we had never tasted before (i.e. Barbera, Ports, etc). It was the perfect vacation to celebrate one year of being married!









































































































































































































































































































































































































Sunday, August 9, 2009

Houston...We have a new dining room!

I decided a while back (you may remember from a previous post) that I wanted to turn one of our spare bedrooms into a dining room. Sounds weird, I know. But because for the past 2 years that we have lived in our house, we have done nothing with this spare bedroom, and we needed a dining room, we decided to go for it. We are finally done (besides a few finishing touches), and I am happy to report that the project was a sucess! John and I had purchased a set of table and chairs a couple of months back in hopes to refurbish them into something that looked great in our new dining area. We are both glad to have the project over and done with, and are excited to do some real entertaining now. Here are some photo's of the before:




















Here are the after shots: