Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hodge Podge Soup

This is what our backyard looked like this morning... we got about 4 inches of snow yesterday. It's beautiful, but unfortunately we also got about 1/2 inch of ice last night which compacted it down and made it not so fun for snowman making and we don't have a sled (why would we? We live in TN!).

So, we are holed up in our house with movies, basketball games, and an entire season of LOST to watch before the season premiere this week. Since we aren't going outside much and we certainly aren't driving to the grocery store we decided to make soup to warm ourselves up. It was basically a "whatcha got stew" or "hodge podge soup".

Here's what we had:

Hodge Podge Beef Soup
1 lb beef stew meat
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) corn1 small can mushrooms
1/2 cup barley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp italian seasoning
Beef Broth - 2 cups
Water - 4 cups

Brown the beef over med-high heat with a little olive oil. Once brown on all sides, add the veggies and garlic. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Drop to a simmer and cook for 40-45 mins with lid slightly cracked on the pot. Scoop into bowls and serve.

It was really good if I do say so myself!!!! And later, we'll have some hot chocolate or apple cider... yum!

Finn (our beloved dog) didn't get to taste the soup, but he has gotten to experiment with the snow, and he definitely seems to like it!

Harley (our beloved cat) isn't allowed outside--not that she cares. She just wishes we would leave her alone and stop taking her picture while she's trying to sleep!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Frozen Tundra Calls For Soup

Nashville has been colder than I remember this winter. I don't know why, but it has seemed more like the frozen tundra than I remember it being. I like the cold, but growing up in Arizona I didn't often have a weather man telling me that the temperature was in the single digits... that's brutal!!!

It has been a tad warmer this week, but supposedly we are headed for Snowpocalyps 2010 this weekend. At least I hope so!!!!! (I want snow really bad!!!)

About the only thing that can warm the body when it's so cold out is soup, and lots of it! A few weeks ago I got a link to a free E-Book by Betty Crocker that was filled with soups, stews, and chili. And everything has calorie information so you can see whether or not it's a good fit for your daily needs :-)

I decided to make the Slow Cooker Beefy Vegetable-Barley Soup - though of course I made some changed. The original is on page 19 of the book if you are interested.

But, here's what I did....

Beef and Barley Stew - Slow Cooker Style
2 lbs beef stew meat (because the package came that big and I wasn't messin' with it)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup pearled barley, uncooked
2 cans beef broth
Water to cover
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram (I would use less than that next time)
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (I would use fresh next time - I wasn't that crunched for time)

If beef is not in bite sized pieces, you may want to chop it up. I left mine as is - because I was tired and don't mind chewing since I think it might burn more calories :-)

Place all ingredients except mixed vegetables into a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4-5 (I cooked on high because I was limited on time). Add mixed vegetables, increase setting to high (if not already on high) and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until veggies are tender and crisp.

I got about 8 servings out of this soup, and it was relatively cheap too!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cauliflower Yummy... who knew?!?

A few weeks ago I had a Kappa friend in town for a training at a local chapter and I decided to make a yummy dinner for her (and us)! I thought it turned out really well, and it contained cauliflower... A risky vegetable to make for someone whose tastes I wasn't keenly aware of. She told me the recipe was a keep though.

So, for dinner we had:

- Roast Chicken (Thanks Costco)

- Garlicky Butternut Squash (Thanks Henry and Brenda for the bushels of squash)

- Pan Roasted Cauliflower (I used dried chives, because I didn't have real! I think it would be even better with real!)

- Dump Cake (Thanks Pioneer Woman... man I say that a lot lately!)

It was an easy meal, and quite pretty if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A New Decade... for Everyone... and Me!

10 years can change a woman!

Today I am 30. It’s a big milestone, though I am not sure why. There are lots of people telling me that 30 is the new 20 or something like that, but most of my friends, myself included—if I’m honest, are a little freaked out by turning 30. That's a personal thing that I'm going to have to work through :-)

Since it’s a milestone year for me and a new decade as well, I thought I’d do a little recap of what has changed or what I’ve done in the last 10 years. I got the idea from another friend's blog and thought it was great!

  • Attended 2 Universities (Arizona State University, and Belmont University) there was a 3rd, and my personal favorite—the University of Kansas—if we go back to the 90s.

  • Visited another country – actually 2 I think… Ireland and then we also went to St. Maarten for our honeymoon

  • Met my hubby while visiting Ireland

  • Graduated from college

  • Got married

  • Went on my first cruise

  • Cooked live on the Today Show with my momma!

  • Watched my cousin play in a Major League Baseball game

  • Got a real job

  • Had 6 different positions within the same company

  • Lived in 5 different states (TN, NC, CA, FL, GA… and now TN again – full circle I guess)

  • Bought and sold our first house

  • Got my first cat

  • Got my first dog (that I had to pay for)

  • Went to Vegas for the first, and second time

  • Helped my hubby get through law school

  • Helped my hubby pay off some of the law school loan debt

  • Watched my brother get married

  • Got another niece and nephew (that brings the total to 5)

  • Had one of my nephews AND one of my nieces get married – oh my!

  • Went to my first NCAA Basketball tournament game

  • Went to my first SEC Championship game (football and basketball)

  • Was in a wedding, and sang in two other ones... well, 3 if you count my own

  • Joined Facebook (nope, this wasn't around 10 years ago!)

  • Started my blog

  • Worked my last summer at camp

I’m sure there’s plenty more that I’ve done in the last 10 years(some I wouldn’t want to mention on my blog!), and I’m sure there’s plenty more I’ll do in the next 10 years. I'll likely make a list of what I want to accomplish, but I'm not sure yet what all it will include!

Thanks to everyone who has made the last 10 years so special!!!! After seeing this list, it makes me realize that there are tons of great things that can happen in a 10 year time span! Here’s to a great next decade… Somehow, I think that my 30s will be just as great, if not better than my 20s!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back On Track

I think I saw it on the Today Show that if you write down your plan and goals, you are much more likely to stick to it. It's part of the reason I have this blog... it holds me accountable.

So, here's my plan for the week. Now, mind you, I turn 30 on Tuesday, but I'm not going to indulge in any crazy way... I'm sticking to my plan. We'll go to Outback next Friday and I'll celebrate with a great steak and a sweet potato :-)

Meal Plan:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fat free Milk (10 oz), Coffee with Milk (3 oz)

Snack: ½ cup grapes, ½ oz almonds, 2 egg whites

Lunch: Tamale Pie, ½ cup olives, 1 cup okra and tomatoes, ½ cup grapes

Snack: 2 cheese sticks, edamame

Dinner: Roast Chicken – 4 oz, 1 cup green beans

It's been a while since I've been able to work out due to my ankle injury. I'm excited to get back to it!!!
Exercise Plan:
M/W/F: 20 min on the elliptical in the morning, and then circuit training at the gym at lunch
T/R: 20 mins on the elliptical in the morning, and then Zumba at lunch!
Sat: 20+ mins on the elliptical in the morning
Sunday: Off (Maybe a light walk with the dog)

Sour Cream Pancakes

I don't have pictures of this recipe. I am never awake enough in the morning to take them, and the pancakes are always gone before I can take any of the final product. Forgive me! But trust me, you'll want to make these.

I've rarely ever used (if ever) boxed pancake mix. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's just that these are my favorite. They have the perfect texture and taste in my opinion, and are so easy!!! We've recently figured out that they are actually very good as waffles! (That we found out on a lazy morning where it just seemed easier to make waffles instead of pancakes since it seems I gave away our flat griddle to the movers over a year ago... OOPS!)

At any rate, here's the recipe. Do let me know if you try it!

Sour Cream Pancakes
1 cup flour
2 eggs
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup sour cream
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
½ cup milk

Mix all ingredients together. Preheat electric frying pan or flat griddle(or just a pan) to medium high. Pour into pan and cook until bubbles form. Turn and cook on the other side.

**Add chocolate chips if you want to... it's a yummy treat when you do :-)

Standing Rib Roast

Oh... this is a favorite in our house. It's absolutely delicious and well, almost magical!!!! We have made it a tradition to make it at Christmas time. Partly because it's when Publix puts it on sale for about $5.49 a pound--at least that's what it was this year--and you can't go wrong with that!!!

Here's how we do it:

3-5 lb Standing Rib Roast
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Cloves, pressed/minced/crushed - one per pound of roast
Italian Seasoning (I use about 1/2 TBL per pound maybe more)

Season Roast with salt and pepper. Combine garlic, italian seasoning, a little more salt and pepper, and some of the olive oil until it looks like a paste. Rub over the roast generously... and I do mean generously.

Heat oven to 450!

Place on a roasting pan with the fat side up. Cook at 450 for 20 mins and then drop the oven to 350(you don't have to take the roast out), and cook for about 18 mins per pound for medium rare.

You should *absolutely* use a meat thermometer for this because it can get too done sometimes even at the 18 mins per pound. If you do use a meat thermometer, take the meat out when it hits 127! Trust me on this. Every cookbook I've seen always says 145 or something crazy like that. If you let it go till then, you'll feel bad that you've just wasted your money. Unless of course you like your meat to taste like a leather boot...

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 mins. Carve and serve.

I serve with both gravy and horseradish sauce. To make my horseradish sauce I use horseradish (a good 1-2 TBL), sour cream - double what I used of the horseradish, some dill(fresh or dried), salt, pepper, and lemon juice... Oh, so good!!!!

This is a wonderful wonderful glorious dish... trust me! (Even if I forgot to take pictures!)

Christmas in Pictures (Mostly)

We had a wonderful Christmas. We went to the Opryland with my family minus my sister and her husband/kids. We ate a lovely dinner at my house with my parents, opened presents that were situated under our very first Christmas tree, played Mexican train, watched my niece and nephew open gifts, helped aforementioned niece and nephew play with gifts, went to Kentucky to see Richie's family, had some awesome food there, opened more great gifts, and relaxed with family. We've since been to my nephew's 3rd birthday party, watched some football games, and donated about $1000 to Goodwill.

It was a wonderful holiday season! Here are some pictures to prove it!

Photos from the Opryland Hotel.
A gorgeous place to go for the holidays... or get married at like hubby and I did 6 years ago!

My niece dancing in the same spot where hubby and I said our vows :-)

The view from our room!

Our first Christmas tree... Finn sure liked it!
One of my favorite Christmas gifts... a handmade T-shirt quilt made from many of my Kappa shirts. My momma made it for me - that's here holding it up. Hi Mom! Thanks for such a special gift!

Watching my niece and nephew open and play with their Christmas gifts!

From my nephew's birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese! Happy Birthday sweet boy :-)

Cookie Exchange

My neighborhood Bunco group had a Cookie Exchange for our last Bunco event of the year. It was a great success as far as yummy cookies go... not so much for waist lines :-) The ladies in our neighborhood sure know how to cook!!!!

These are the cookies that I made. I was going to make these, but my inlaws came in town that weekend and it was our anniversary, and I just didn't have time! These were just as good - I promise! I got the recipe from this blog which is a great blog if you haven't visited it!

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from the back of the Craisins Sweetened Dried Cranberries package
Makes approx. 2-1/2 dozen cookies
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar2 large eggs
½ tsp Vanilla
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips (I used 1/2 whole bag of white chocolate chips because I like chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375°F.*
Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

This is one of the recipes I got... My hubby tasted these and said they were better than mine, and his favorite so I made a batch for him! Thanks Dot!!!!
Melt Aways
1 cup butter (don't use margarine)
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
Mix with mixer until batter is formed. Roll into small balls (flour hands if necessary). Put on buttered baking sheet or parchment paper(I used my silpat sheet). Press finger to make indentation. Preheat oven to 350. Bake only until lightly brown around edges. (about 10 mins but every oven is different)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 drops food coloring
Mix together. Put in sandwich bag. Cut small hold in the tip of a corner. Squeeze small amount into indentation. (TIP-make sure it's thick enough. If not, add extra sugar)
When it sets up, store in an air tight container.
This was my "loot".
There were the above mentioned Melt Aways, Cinnamon Chip cookies, Buckeyes, Sandies, Coconut Pecan Cookies, Pecan Nut Cups, Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Snowball Cookies, Sugar Cookies, and Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. I'll post some of the other recipes that I got for you all if you would like.

Things I Made Over the Holidays

The holidays aren't always a time for eating "lite"... and in our house I took the time to make some favorites before the new year settled in and we got back on track...

Here are some of the things I made:

From the Pioneer Woman
- Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

- White Chicken Enchiladas (Oh my are these good... and I used a rotisserie chicken from Costco rather than making my own)

- Enchiladas with Red Sauce

- Mexican Rice

- Buttered Rosemary Rolls (I added chopped garlic to the butter)

- Cheese Muffins

From Our Own Kitchen:

- Standing Rib Roast (Oh so yummy, and it smelled and looked divine, but I forgot to take a picture... I'm sorry! I'll post a recipe though in a little while)

- Corn Pudding

- Toffee Tiramisu Torte

- Banana Pudding (My mother-in-law's secret family recipe that is wonderful)

- Sour Cream Pancakes (Recipe to be posted later)

It was a wonderful couple of weeks, but my pants are feeling tighter and therefore it is back to eating lite we go!!!!