Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jambalaya


I had no desire to make jambalaya. None at all. However two people I love really wanted me to give it a shot. My husband and step dad have been begging me to make it for weeks. So I finally decided that my excuses had run out and I made it tonight. After my first bite I felt pretty silly for putting it off for this long. It was so super good. Slightly spicy, full of flavor and texture. I loved it, and so did my family! Served along side cornbread it was an awesome meal! 

Jambalaya 

Ingredients:

1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium bell pepper (red or green), chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning (use a light hand with this if you don’t want it overly spicy)
1 can (10-ounces) Rotel diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
2 cups hot, steamed rice


*Just a tip start cooking rice before you start the Jambalaya so that it's done when you've finished.

Begin by chopping all veggies and meat preparing it to cook. Add sausage and chicken to a large stock pot and allow to cook through, the sausage should get sort of brown and crisp looking on the edges. Once the meat is cooked remove from the pot and place on a plate, set aside. If there's a lot of grease left in the pot drain it. In the same pot melt butter and add 2 Tbsp flour, allow to cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, seasonings and spices, sugar, and tomatoes. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meat back to the pot and allow to cook 10 more minutes. Last add the chicken broth and cook 5 minutes more, until thick and bubbly. Stir in the hot steamed rice.

 Serve in a giant heap and enjoy!

Today

Today I went to the eye doctor.  
I had been once before. 
When I was 13. 
My vision has progressively gotten worse.
 Let's just say maybe I shouldn't have been driving for the last 7 years. 
Maybe I'm slightly blind.
The doctor put these drops in my eyes that made them dilate.
It wasn't fun. 
Have you experience this?
Being outdoors in the light was mostly uncomfortable.
Hence, the sunglasses.
 After my appointment that guy I'm married to took me to Wendys. 
Chicken nuggets and lemonade made me feel better.
 
Over all it was a good day.
And I can see again, so that's good.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Hedge

 Pouring rain + overgrown hedge + these two = this photo

(Adam and his brother Scott) 

 We took a little trip up to Idaho to visit Grandma and Grandpa Andersons this weekend.
And to attack the hedge that so desperately needed trimming. Unfortunately it poured rain the entire time, but we (they) pressed on with the yard work.


 Poor guy - look at that face. He still smells faintly of pine. 
So that's good.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Bars

When I was in elementary school I ate school lunch. That was back in the day when we had lunch trays that had to be washed as opposed to the disposable ones being used today. Back when the lunch ladies made food that was mostly eatable. Back when .25 cents bought you a peanut butter bar. And let me tell you, they were the best dang peanut butter bars .25 cents ever bought. After a lengthy internet search pinterest finally fulfilled my need for a recipe for said peanut butter bars. The author of the blog where I found the recipe claimed that this was the exact recipe. I wasn't sure but definitely wanted to give to give it a shot. So I did. And now I am full of regret because the recipe may be better than the original. They are so good. Try out the recipe, but I'm warning you make sure you have someone to share them with because it makes a lot. Like an entire sheet pan, a lot.

Peanut Butter Bars 

Ingredients: 
Peanut butter cookie crust: 
1 1/2 c. Flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ c. Butter
¾ c. Sugar
¾ c. Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
3/4 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Eggs
1 ½ C Quick Oats
Peanut butter spread: 
3/4 c. Peanut Butter 
Frosting:
½ c. Butter (1 stick)
3 ½ c. Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp Cocoa
¼ c. Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

Begin by sifting dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) together in small bow, set aside. In another mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) whip together both sugars and butter until light and creamy. Add vanilla, peanut butter and eggs mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add dry ingredients until little white is left. Add oats and mix gently.


Grease a 11x15 cookie sheet and spread dough across pan.  Don't worry about getting it completely even, just do your best. Finger marks are always acceptable. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Or until lightly browned. Don't over bake the cookie crust otherwise you'll have a crumble base, the idea is to have something that's chewy and perfectly done. (my cookie was done at 10 minutes just watch it, don't let it get too brown) Let the cookie cool 10 minutes. While it's cooling whip 3/4 cup peanut butter until it's light in color and looks fluffy. Spread it over the surface of the cookie.


In a sauce pan melt together butter, milk and cocoa powder until it just starts to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into a mixing bowl and gradually add powdered sugar until it's similar in consistency to playdough.

 Spread chocolate frosting over peanut butter and enjoy!

Yumm! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lately



Mamma and baby ducks out for a stroll, chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, making brownies in the rain, a beautiful sunset, a hot dog at the baseball park, my favorite place for pizza, at tempanyaki for sisters birthday, and a craving satified.

(I swear I don't just sit around eating ALL of the time, even though my blog posts may argue otherwise.) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Life

Right now my life is kind of in limbo. In transition. Trying to feel my way into a new routine. I wish there was some kind of life GPS that I could just switch on and it would tell me where to go. I would be able to see a blue line on the screen and I would just follow it. And everything would be fine. And it would make sense. And I wouldn't wonder where I was going because I would just be able to see it on my life GPS. We all go through this at some point I guess, but it doesn't change the fact that my life minus structure is not a good idea. It stresses me out. And when I'm stressed out I make cookies.



 Can I share my cookies with you?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken


With grilling season upon us I plan on doing lots of cooking outdoors. Maybe this will be the summer that I don't hand my prepared meat off to the nearest capable human...my husband/dad/mom to cook on the grill. Maybe I will finally become grill competent. Maybe. Until then, I will continue to be in charge of the marinating, seasoning, prep-ing, if you will. And can I just say I totally have that covered. This recipe for a grilled chicken marinade is so good. So simple. Simple. Clean. Fresh. Really spring/summery. I made it for mothers day dinner and my family said they felt like it was gourmet. "So fancy", my sister said. I neglected to tell them that it took me less than 5 minutes to pour everything into a ziplock bag and let it sit in the fridge all day, and then handed it off to my husband and dad to cook on the grill. They can think that it was much more complex and time consuming, I'll look more impressive that way. The next time you're looking for a way to jazz up you standard grilled chicken breasts try this recipe it will knock you socks off.


Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken

Ingredients:
4-6 Medium/large chicken breasts (you could also use chicken tenders the only thing that would change is the number you would use and the amount of time they would spend cooking on the grill. Because the tenders are smaller use more like 8-10)
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
6 Tbsp fresh herb chopped (I used rosemary, but you could use thyme, oregano, marjoram etc. If you're using an herb other than rosemary or thyme I would recommend halving the amount the recipe calls for, because some other herbs tend to be stronger.)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper  

In a small mixing bowl whisk together lemon, oil, vinegar until incorporated. Add to bowl herbs, garlic, and salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine. Set aside while you trim the fat off chicken breasts (or tenders). Put chicken in a zip lock bag (use two bags if the chicken seems too crowed, my chicken breasts were pretty big I had 3 breasts in two bags) whisk marinade again before adding to bag(s). Pour over chicken and squeeze all air out of the zip lock bag and close. Allow chicken to marinade at least an hour or as long as you want. Really you cant screw that part up. I started my chicken in the morning and put it in the fridge to sit until evening when it hit the grill. Grill chicken breasts until no longer pink (Adam says about 6 minutes on each side). Serve with rice or over a salad or with roasted potatoes, really the options are endless. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vacation


The much needed vacation to Playa del Carmen, Mexico is over—and boy do we have lots of photos to show for it.  Seriously lots. And lots. It started with an early morning trip to the airport and a long day of travel. We finally made it to our resort last Saturday evening and were able to settle in and check out what was to be our amazing home for the next week.


  The resort was right on the beach and had acres and acres of jungle and beach and pool for us to explore. Grass huts were everywhere and an icy piƱa colada was never more than a wave of the hand away. Many hours were spent laying on lounge chairs reading, listening to music, sleeping...etc. Our  only real concern was when to get back in the water to cool down. Or whether to eat a bag of trail mix or a granola bar. It was a tough lifestyle.


There were 6 restaurants in the resort and we were able to try most of them. One of our favorites was a Cuban-style restaurant called Havana Moon. It was right on the beach and was beautiful. I coveted the big blue shutters, I want them on my house someday. There was dancing every night with live music. It was a blast.

The grounds around the resort were amazing. There were varieties of flowers and plants that I've never seen in my life. We also loved all the animals we were able to see. Iguanas ran everywhere, frogs and lemurs followed us on the paths, and pink flamings and crocodiles were our neighbors.

The city of Playa del Carmen was about a 10 minute cab ride from our resort. We took advantage of that one day and went to the beach and wandered around the town all afternoon. 
 We found an ice cream man and I decided that I HAD to have some coconut ice cream. It was fantastic. A necessity really. Next time you're in Mexico make sure you find some coconut ice cream.


When our ice cream treat was gone in less than 30 seconds we realized we were both starving. Since Adam served his mission in Mexico, he had a list of food items he had to get while we were there. Tacos al pastor was at the top of that list. And we searched every where for said dish. To Adam's dismay we were having a tough time tracking it down. Just as I was about to settle for a "tourist trap" restaurant Adam insisted we keep walking to down the street to a "more residential" area. My rumbling stomach didn't want to agree but I went along with him.  At the next block we found a restaurant. They sold tacos al pastor. We were in luck. The pastor meat is actually pork that is put on a spit and is fire roasted as it spins. The chef cuts meat off the pork and places it on a corn tortilla, usually with chunks of pineapple. All I can say about it is that I totally get the hype. It was so good.

 After lunch we found a popsicle stand where all the popsicles are homemade. I got a strawberry popsicle with chunks of strawberry throughout. It was awesome. Ice cream, popsicles and tacos...a pretty successful day if you ask me.



  We wandered around the city for a while and saw lots of pretty things. I loved watching (and listening) to my husband interact with the people there. His Spanish skills are pretty awesome and I'm not going to lie, listening to him speak in another language is kind of super attractive. 

The next day we were off to Tulum and were pretty excited to be there. The ruins were stunning. And we really enjoyed our tour given by a real live Mayan. 
 
 The city of Tulum is surrounded by 3 walls and the cliffs and the ocean. The clear blue water and white sand seemed even more gorgeous next to the crumbling ruins. We spent lots of time wandering around the site and taking photos.
 After Tulum we went to the largest natural aquarium in the world. It was kind of like a water park but was completely eco-friendly. The main attraction is a river that visitors float down on tubes and/or snorkel that last about an hour. At the end of the river there is a big lagoon that we just floated around looking at all kinds of fish and crabs and sea creatures. Adam said that this was his favorite part of the trip. He even saw a barracuda! 


 We spent another day wandering around the resort taking in the beauty of this area.
(And falling more in love with my new white swim suit :))


 Again the resort was basically just surrounded by a thick, thick jungle inhabited by so many creatures and plants, all of which were fun to look at.


 On our last night before dinner we spent some time walking along the beach. I decided I love the ocean. It's so relaxing.


We ate dinner our last night at Frida's—an awesome Mexican restaurant in the resort. We loved their pico de gallo and empanadas. Adam got three different kinds of tacos and I am still dreaming about them.


 We had such a fun trip and are so glad we were able to go and experience this new place together. Now that we're home reality is sinking in and new jobs are on the horizon for both of us. Real life, schedules, and actually paying attention to what day it is. Structure is going to be a welcomed feeling for us—kind of.

Mother


Happy Mothers day to the most amazing, special, thoughtful mom I know. 
Thanks for always knowing what to say. 
Thanks for teaching me how to make pie crust. 
Thanks for being selfless. 
Thanks for your support and guidance. 

I love you. 
And think the world of you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lately



Breezy palm trees, hunky husband, sandals in the sand, beautiful flora, pesos if you please, new textures and colors, waiting for food, and a delicious fruity concoction

(A detailed Mexico post coming soon! it's great to be back in the states where water is free and medicine for my food poisoned tummy is readily available) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A taste...

 Eating tons of mexican food, getting sunburned at the pool, picnics on the beach...





 Mexico is treating us so well.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Packing


Tomorrow's the day:
We leave for Mexico for a whole WEEK! 

I'll be on a little blogging hiatus until we're home.
But I will make up for it, I'm sure, with lots of photos and stories (and pictures of food...haha)

Bon Voyage!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Somtimes I can sew


Isn't pinterest such a wonderful evil?
The vaccume of my time - it just sucks it all up.
The cure for my boredom. 

The site on which I saw a maxi dress (WITH SLEEVES!!) on a cute girl and clicked on the link, curious of where she could have bought such a find. Upon opening the girls blog page I realized that it was a tutorial on how to make the dress not where to buy it.  A little disappointed I began to read the step by step instructions and by the end of the post I was filled with excitement. Could it really be that easy?! Sew, sew, sew, cut, cut, cut, cut and done!? I couldn't get in my car fast enough to head on over to the local Joann's to pick up my extra stretchy jersey knit fabric (a fabric that doesn't exist by the way, which made things a little confusing). After debating about what type of stretch-knit-type material to buy I took the plunge and bought something that reminded me of some cotton dance pants I owned in Jr. High. I picked a color, the material was cut and I was out of the fabric store. Headed home to start on my project filled to the brim with excitement.

And then I sewed three. straight. lines. And cut three holes. And cut a little off the bottom.
And I was done. No hemming. No pinning to a pattern.
Just sew, sew, sew, cut, cut, cut, cut and done.
It really was that simple

At that point I was overflowing with excitement, because I didn't screw anything up and it actually looked like a dress. And I'm actually going to wear it! This weekend! When I am hanging out on the white sandy beaches of MEXICO!!

Anyway it was magical.
You should make it.
Here's the link

Hey there I am in my creation!! 

Thank you Pinterest.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lately


 I made a pie, mom made gingersnaps, the Baja Cantina craving finally subsided, I reunited with the sewing machine, Adam reunited with then xbox [insert unkindly expression here], dead balloons, anniversary cards from loved ones, eating a pretzel from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.