Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yummy New Recipe (Which I Invented (Kinda))

Well, this blog is mostly just to tell you about this awesome new recipe that I just thought of, and made, and it was delightful, but let me catch you up first.

Most importantly since the last time I blogged, John and I got approved for our brand new apartment!  Yay!  We're going to be moving out to Holladay, and we're going to have at least double the space we have now.  Maybe more than that.  I'm pretty super excited.  I have also almost paid my car off, (under 600, baby!) and I'm working on hacking at all of my other little debts I owe.  Awesome.

John just got a raise and promotion today at work, which is fabulous, and I am settling right in at my new job.  (Though there's so much crap to learn it's insane.  They basically built a fully customizable system for all of their customers, and each customer has it set up a different way.  It's ridiculous...  But it keeps me busy.)  John plans on taking his LSAT next June, and I'm going to be going back to school next semester to try and (finally) finish up a degree.  Things are on the up and up for this young couple!

Anyhoo, that's about it.  Now time for my super-awesome-fabulous-amazing-delicious recipe!

So, I only sort of invented this recipe.  I got the idea from Cheyenne's step mom the other day while we were out there.  She made spaghetti squash and chicken shish kabobs.  I was thinking, as I was sitting there eating, how awesome it would be to make this for dinner sometime, but then I remembered that John was no longer eating meat, and I was a little sad.  THAT IS, until I ate some of the squash and the peppers together.  YUM.  So I came up with this idea - I would make squash and peppers and mix them together.  But that seemed a little bland, so I improvised...  And this is what I got.


1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
3 Bell Peppers (I used one of each yellow, green, and red)
Olive Oil
Fresh Basil
Feta Cheese Crumbles
Parmesan Cheese


(You'll kind of notice that I didn't put any amounts in...  And that's mostly because I completely improvised this meal, but I'll try to give you some estimates.)  TASK NUMBER ONE:  You need to cook your squash.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a cooking pan.  Alright?  Awesome.  Now turn your attention to that squash.  You need to cut it in half  lengthwise (seriously, that's important for cooking) and then scoop out the innards (seeds, pulp, etc.) from the middle.  Now, slap those babies face down on your pan, and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until you can stab them with a knife with only slight resistance.  Now it's time to turn your attention to your peppers.

Take those peppers, and cut the tops off of them, and gut them too.  Be sure to get out all of those seeds and bits that aren't tasty.  Cut the peppers into about 1/2" - 1" squares, and set aside.  Now, take your basil, and cut the leafy bits from the stems.  Toss the stems, and slice the leafs into thin strips, no longer than 1", and no wider than 1/4".  Set them aside too.  Grab a skillet, and put it on the stove, add about 2 - 3 tsp olive oil into the pan, and heat it up on medium.  When the oil is heated (probably 2-4 minutes) toss your peppers in!  It should sizzle up nicely.  Saute them until they're tender, but still crisp, and then add some salt and pepper.  Turn the heat down to low, and let the peppers be for a couple of minutes.  They'll get some good searing in, which is how I like them.  (if you don't like them that way, take them off the heat for a second. while you take your squash out.)

Your squash should be done now, if you timed it right.  Take it out of the oven, and using a fork, scrape the meat out from the squash shell.  (You might want to wait until it cools down.  I have a pretty wicked burn for proof, if you want any.)  It should shred into long strands, like spaghetti.  Hence, spaghetti squash.  Take the squash and put it in a bowl.  Turn your attention back to those peppers.  They should be nice and done by now.  Add the peppers to your bowl of spaghetti squash, and return pan to the heat.  Throw in about 1 tbsp of butter, and when it's melted (which shouldn't take very long if your pan is still hot, fyi) add in your basil.  Cook that up just barely, I'd say no longer than 1 minute, and add that to your squash as well.  Now take your feta cheese crumbles, and add about 1/4 of a cup in, and toss it all together.  TADA!  Spaghetti squash salad.  Separate into bowls or onto plates to serve, and top with parmesan cheese.  Also, you should attempt to serve this warm, because it's best that way.

It's SO good.  I'm not even kidding.  I don't even like vegetables, and I ate this whole thing gone.  Turns out I'm way better at cooking food that does not include meat than I ever was at cooking meat.  Go figure.  Anyway, this is a pretty good meal on it's own, but you could serve it as a side to some chicken, and I bet it would be awesome.  BONUS PICTURE! (CLICK ME)  Yeah, it's a little messy, but I'm still working on my presentation skills.  CUT ME SOME SLACK.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good news everyone!

I've taught the toaster to feel love!

Seriously though.  The start of August will be exciting for me because, with my mad skills and awesome interviewing prowess, I have managed to get hired at a new company.  I am very much excited, and not just because of the awesome raise that goes along with it.  (Though that helps... That coupled with John's new job means that we just doubled our household income.  I mean, WOW!  I can't even...  Wow.  Anyway.)  I won't bore you all with the technical details, but it's really going to be a great opportunity for me to learn and gain a lot of technical experience, which is not only incredibly useful, but also fits perfectly into my schemes for the future.  (Dun, dun, DUN!)

I kid, I kid.  (Besides, this is me we're talking about!  I would never ever come up with any nefarious plans.  Ever.)  My biggest goal is just to pay off the wheelbarrow or debt I've managed to build up in the short time I've actually been able to build up debt, and then start to chip away at the truckload of debt that John has managed to pile up with his school costs.  So glamorous...  But sometime in between those two things, after I pay off my debt but before we start on John's, I plan to get a new place to live.  I don't actually think that paying off my debt will take that long with the extra money, and so hopefully in a few months we'll be calling all of you up to demand that you help us move.  Now it's your turn to be excited!  Yay!

That's the biggest thing going on right now in Lauren land...  Though I'm finally getting my car registered.  It's only been like, what... Seven months?  Wow I'm bad at this game.  I kept setting aside money for it, but then something else would come up and I'd have to spend it, and so it has gone on for the last few months.  I've mostly been trying to catch up on the bills and things I missed so that I could pay for the wedding, because that was expensive.  (P.S.  Don't get married.  It's expensive.)  I got some new tires for the car, cleaned it all out and washed it all up, and went to get safety and emissions...  And it FAILED.  I'm so close to giving up on the stupid thing.  I would have already except that I'm afraid they're going to put a boot on it, or tow it away...  I went SO long without anyone noticing, and then some people (who will remain unnamed, but you know who you are...) started saying how crazy it was that we hadn't been pulled over or given any tickets.  Seriously two days later I got a parking ticket for it, and then the day after that John got pulled over for it.  SO THANKS A WHOLE LOT.  Annnnyway, yeah.  The car didn't pass safety because the muffler was hanging too low, apparently, and so we had to go get another hanger.  Long story short, I ended up at Midas where some guy told me I needed two hangers and a flex pipe, and got a quote for $200.  

PFFFT.  Turns out that you can get stainless steel cable ties for like three bucks at the Smith's Market place.  Thanks to some gumption on my part, and a TON of help from Krystal, we hacked the crap out of that muffler, and got it all kinds of secured.   In the rain, no less. But wait, there's more!  Not just in the rain, but in the rain, in the middle of the road, on our backs/bellies under the car, with nothing to jack it up.  MAN!  We are so awesome.  Maybe.  I maybe haven't actually gone back to see if it passes now yet, BUT WE'LL SEE TONIGHT.  Cross your fingers for me because if this doesn't work then I'm going to set the stupid thing on fire and commit insurance fraud.  Also, if this post gets deleted later on, you know why.

That was a really long post.  Thanks for sticking through it with me guys!  (If you did, that is.  If not, I SEE HOW IT IS.)  Here is a yummy recipe as a reward!  (Though you'll have to deal with some background story first, sorry...)

Vegetarianism.  (Is that actually an "-ism" now?  I don't know...)  It's a weird thing, and I tried it once and it lasted exactly two days before I gave in and ate the biggest hamburger I have ever seen, because I am weak.  But it was delicious.  I really do enjoy meat, and I have a really hard time cooking without it.  Which, now that I think about it, is really a little bit weird and possibly abnormal; coupled with the fact that I'm really bad at cooking with vegetables and fruits means that I have a very limited diet...  So maybe this vegetarian thing is really a good thing for me.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

John decided to be a vegetarian a couple weeks ago, and I thought I was going to die, because him deciding to be a vegetarian meant I was basically going to end up that way as well, at least when we're eating at home, because I'm the one who cooks, and I wasn't going to put in the effort to cook two different meals, because I'm pretty lazy.  (Wow.  That sentence is probably too long.)  So, yeah.  I was pretty unhappy about the whole thing, but it turns out it's not so bad; (At least he didn't go full on vegan; I would die without milk, eggs, and cheese, in the very most melodramatic way that I possibly could find.) it feels pretty good to eat healthier, and I've started to notice some subtle differences.  So, don't knock it before you try it I suppose.

That aside, here is my very first (and very favorite, so far) vegetarian meal I made!  Enjoy.


1 cup garlic hummus spread
1 1/2 cups chopped bell peppers, any color 
1 cup chopped baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp oregano
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. olive oil

1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand
for about 10 minutes, until foamy.  Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. When the dough has doubled, punch it down in the bowl, and form back into a ball.  (For thick crusts use all the dough, for thinner crusts, you can seperate in half and make two pizzas, or save dough for later)  Press dough onto well oiled pizza pan, set aside and allow dough to rise on pan.  (15 - 20 minutes)  Preheat the oven to 425.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Once heated, add onion, garlic, peppers, spinach, and oregano and saute until tender.  Remove from heat.  Spread garlic hummus over the crust in a thin layer, arrange sauted vegetables on top, and then top with cheese.  Cook in the oven for 16 - 20 minutes, depending on thickness of crust.

I know, I know.  Last time I made pizza it was a disaster.  Trust me, the memory is very fresh in my mind.  But this time I did two things different:  A.) I made the crust this time, instead of buying one, and B.) I used a pizza pan.  Night and day, folks, night and day.  

I used red and green peppers, which are my personal favorites, and I actually used extra garlic... Two or three cloves.  The pizza was extra garlic-y though, so if you don't like garlic much, don't do that.  I'm sure you could add more vegetables to this if you wanted, but I'm new to this whole thing, and I'm just getting my feet wet.  Give me a little while before you start throwing weird vegetables like asparagus or eggplant at me.  Geez.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Good times in July and delicious food (as always)

Wow, it's been what, two months now?

Well, hello world!  Just thought you could all use an update in the Life of Lauren, because lets face it.  I'm the most interesting person you know.  Right?  RIGHT???  ANYWAY.  Lets see...  John did graduate from school and now has a job, HOORAH!  He is a legal assistant at Myler Disability.  It's nice, because it's really exactly what he wanted... But it does also happen to be all the way out in American Fork, so the commute kind of blows.  It's ok though, money is money is money is money, and John really likes the job.

Now that he's making some cash mo-nay, we're planning on moving out as soon as I get my car paid off.   (Which is SO close to being done I can't even believe it.  Also, yes I still pay money for that hunk of junk I drive around.  Don't judge me.) I'm thinking we'll go somewhere closer to my place of work, which will make the commute better for John as well.  I don't think I'll miss my dungeon apartment too much, but we'll see.  I tend to grow weirdly attached to things I own like that.

Speaking of things I'm weirdly attached to, my phone committed suicide a couple weeks ago and flung its self from John's pocket to the ground, shattered the screen, and ruined my LIFE.  I was totally freaking out about it, I mean, it was expensive, and replacing it would be even more expensive.  Seriously, at the very least it ruined my night.  John thinks I'm way too melodramatic and I overreact about things, but I was so sad.  It was a good phone!  I loved it.  I still love it.  Anyway, I ended up doing some research after I realized I couldn't afford a new space phone, and I found out that you can get screens and fix the phone yourself if you have the right tools.  I was so excited, and ordered it off of Amazon in a heart beat.  It came really quickly...  But there was a problem. (Of course.  When has my life ever been simple?)  The screen that came in the mail was not the screen that I had ordered.  It was a stupid Samsung screen, and it was WAY too big for my phone.  While I wouldn't mind a bigger screen... it obviously wasn't going to work with my phone.  Well, silly mistake, I figured, so I tried to get them to tell me how to return for a refund or for the right part - nothing.  Haven't even responded to me.  So I put in a claim with Amazon and am now disputing the charge with my bank and it's been a stupid headache and a mess...  BUT my awesome dad pulled through for me, and found me a new Nexus One on the cheap, and bought it for me.  Because he's a cool dude.  So now I don't even have to worry about it.  Yay!

Other than that...  Things have been going pretty smashingly.  I'm totally ready for Harry Potter next week...  John and I are going to end up seeing it like three times in 24ish hours, which is insanity, but I'm totally not even complaining.  I'm excited, even.  Took Friday off for it, in fact.  Woo!  Three day weekend plus a stupid amount of Harry Potter?  What else could I ask for?

Also, the 4th of July was particularly awesome this year as well.  (Wow this post is jumping all over the place today.  KEEP UP.)  My uncle Doug came out from California and brought a veritable arsenal of explosives with him.  I have never had so much fun.  I got to play with mortars.  They're loud, by the way... And probably still illegal.  Bottle rockets, roman candles, fire crackers...  It was awesome.  We spent a couple of hours blowing things up, and then went home to our completely wired kitties (fireworks scare Theo, and I don't know what they do to Zero, but he was bouncing off the walls.  Literally.) and tired to sleep.  All in all, it's been a good month so far, and a good last couple of months before that.

OH.  And John totally went to Japan.  Pretty sweet.  Ask him about it some time.
DOUBLE OH.  We went and saw Cake.  If you didn't already know because I didn't shut up about it for like two weeks.  BEST BAND EVER..


Navajo tacos.  You want?  They're pretty much way easy to make, and tasty.  Packed with calories, I'm sure, but tasty.

Fry Bread:
2 C. Flour
2 TBSP. Baking Soda
1 TSP. Salt
1 C. Milk
2 TBSP. Oil

Topping (Beef n' Beans):
1lb. Ground Beef
1 Pkg. Taco Seasoning
1 Can Pinto Beans (undrained)
1/2 C. Picante Sauce

For the frybread, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add milk and oil, mix into dough. 
If needed, more four can be added to make dough easily handled. 
Fry bread in oil; two inches deep at least.
For the toppin's, cook ground beef according to instructions on the 
taco seasoning, set aside. Pour beans into sauce pan, mix in picante 
sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Now all you have to do is top fry bread with 
beef, beans, cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, and sour cream.

Woo!  That's really it.  I am a fan of simple meals, and this was pretty easy, and it makes about four servings.  Also, the fry bread is AMAZING.  I know that sounds totally self serving, but seriously, it was delicious.  Pro tip - when you roll out or flatten the dough for cooking, make a small hole, about the circumference of a AA battery (I'm not very good with numbers...  Maybe a half inch in diameter? It doesn't need to be so precise anyway...) before frying.  It makes it so the dough stays fairly flat and plate shaped, which is best for piling on your delicious toppings.  Also, as a bonus, any left over frybread can be used for dessert!  Cinnamon and sugar, honey, ice cream... top it with whatever and eat it.  Good times will be had for all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunshine, Steak, and Potatoes

Aahhhhh, sunshine.  Warm, inviting, lovely, sunshine!  I thought you'd never come back.

Seriously though.  This winter was long.  Maybe it was the stress of all the wedding putting together, or maybe it was just extra dreary, but I am so glad that it is almost summer, and that it has decided to warm up finally.  Today I walked outside in flip flops and a t-shirt, and I didn't even get a little chilly.  I went and got ice cream, and I didn't take my car, and it was fabulous, and I loved it.

The changing seasons also bring in a change of pace for me and John.  He has finished school!  (For now, at least.)  Yay!  Now there's just the ever daunting task of finding him a job before the sharks come after us for the money he owes on the loan, but I have hope.  And by hope I mean I have put the fear of an incredibly upset wife into him should he slack off on his job finding duties.

Ha, of course I am kidding!  (Mostly.)  I am pretty happy with my little family how it is - the two cutest kitties in all the land, and a cute, doting husband - and life is good.  Once John does find a job, hopefully we'll be able to move somewhere a little less dungeon-y, and I will be entirely content.  Until then... At least I can open up the windows now so it's not quite as dank.

Obligatory recipe time!

I made the most delicious steak today.  I'm not even going to be modest about it.  It kicked the pants off of any steak I have ever made before, and I would like to share with you my tasty secret.  (It's not really a secret.  You can get this stuff off of allrecipes.com.  Except for the sauce... BUT I WILL GET TO THAT IN A MOMENT.)

The steak is pretty straight forward.  Just go to your local supermarket, or wherever you buy meat from, and pick up a couple of steaks.  Ok?  Ok.  We just used a couple of strip steaks for this recipe.  (Tip on buying steak - the more marbling, the better!)

I've tried to marinade steaks before, but I can't ever get it right... It's something that I'm still working on.  For this meal, I didn't marinate the stakes, I used a dry rub for flavor instead.  And you know what?  It was good.  Here's the recipe:



2-1/2 Tsp. Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tsp. Paprika
3/4 Tsp. Mustard Powder
3/4 Tsp. Onion Powder
3/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp. Basil
1/4 Tsp. Ground Bay Leaf
1/4 Tsp. Ground Coriander Seed
1/4 Tsp. Savory
1/4 Tsp. Thyme 
1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Cumin
Salt To Taste


Mix everything together in a small bowl.
(Yep.  That's really it.)

Super easy, and I actually had all of the spices I needed in my cupboard thanks to to the sweet seasoning rack (complete WITH seasons) we got as a wedding gift.  Score!  It kind of smelled like taco seasoning when I was finished with it, which kind of worried me, but it turned out really good on the steaks.  Also, before I forget, I did not come up with this recipe.  I found it here on allrecipes.com, a site that I love dearly.  Anyway.  Now that you have your dry rub put together, set it aside for a moment.

Cooking steaks is pretty simple.  We don't have a grill, (I don't even know where we would put it if we did) and so I cooked these on the oven/in the stove.  Grab your steaks, tenderize them, (while they're cold) cover them, and leave them (somewhere your cats can't get into them - a lesson well learned) out until they reach about room temperature.  (Use your brain... Don't leave them out for hours, that's gross.  It should only take about 30 minutes.)

Once they've reached that temperature, it's time to get your hands dirty.  Grab some olive oil, and your rub, and get to work.  Poor some olive oil, (about 1/2 - 1 tsp for each side) on your steak, and use your fingers to spread it around so it's nice and covered.  Then take your dry rub and sprinkle it on liberally (or not so much if you're not into TOTALLY AWESOME FLAVOR) and rub it in.  And I mean rub it.  Don't mutilate it, but use some force when you're rubbing it into the steak... You get the idea.  Do the same for both sides.

Now for the cooking!  Take an oven safe skillet, and pop it in the oven.  (Yes, empty.)  Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Once it's finished preheating, turn your burner on to high, and let it heat up.  (If you have a gas stove, which I wish I did, you don't have to wait for it to heat up.)  Once you've got some good heat coming off of there, take your skillet out of the oven, place it on the burner, and drop your steaks in.  You don't have to add extra oil or anything, just put them right in.  Cook them for one to two minutes on each side, making sure you have a really good sear.  Once you've finished searing them, throw them back into the oven for 3 - 5 minutes, depending on how rare you like your steak.  (I prefer medium rare, and I cooked mine for about four minutes and it was perfect.)  Now, steak needs a chance to sit and let the juices flow through it, so once it's done cooking, take it out, remove it from the pan, and onto a plate.  Leave it there for about five minutes.  

IN THE MEANTIME, turn your attention to that pan you just pulled the steaks out of.  If you did it right, there should be some juices left in there.  That is what we will use to make a semi-unconventional steak sauce.  Since it's mostly fat and oil, it makes an awesome roux.  Toss a little bit of flour in there until you have a thick, pasty substance.  Stir in some milk or cream a little bit at a time (if you add it all in at once, your roux will clump up and be gross) and then put it back on the burner and turn it on to low heat.  Let your sauce simmer and reduce a little bit, and then take it off the stove and put it on your steaks, and voila! Delicious steak.

Now just pair it up with some broiled potatoes (you can find my favorite recipe here) and you have yourself a meal.  Happy eating!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mopey, Mopey, Mopey

Every once in a while I get into these mopey, feeling sorry for myself sort of moods, and I find them really hard to shake off.  Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's just me, but honestly.  What do I even have to complain about? Sure, my life isn't exactly where I wish it was, and I want a lot of things to happen a lot faster than they are, but you know what?  It's not bad.  My apartment is a little bit run down, and it's super cold in the winter because the heaters are crap for crap, and so when we run the shower, boil water, or cook anything, it turns into a sauna and the steam won't go away for hours unless you open up a window, but at least I have a place to live, and clothes and blankets to keep me warm.  My car is a dumpy old rust bucket on four wheels with 175,000 miles on it, but at least it starts and gets me to where I need to be.  By no means is my job my dream job, but they're good to me, and they probably pay me more than I'm really worth to them, and it pays the bills.  I have two little kitties to cuddle with, (even if one does like to pee on everything in the house, including me, which is just about as disgusting as you would expect) and a wonderful husband who loves me no matter how much money we make, or what car I drive, that our TV is probably 15 years old and smaller than the computer monitor, the fact that I am legitimately afraid of ghosts, and that our purple couches don't match the wood paneled walls and matted brown, shag carpet of our apartment.  (Those couches, by the way?  A free gift from friends who care.)  Plus he cleans up the cat messes every time.

I watched a documentary a little bit ago about the Lost Boys of Sudan.  Those men/kids had nothing, and they were still perfectly happy.  And by nothing, I mean they lived in dirt huts and went hungry most of the time.  They were separated from their families, driven out of their homes, and orphaned in a strange place.  How can I even start to complain about anything?  I am one of those lucky few who won the lottery in life.  Parents who love me, friends and family who help me every day and care about me...  It's amazing.  There's nothing to be upset about, not really.  All those little annoyances aren't worth very much when you take in the whole picture.

Besides all of that, feeling sorry for yourself is pretty dumb when 95% of the reason you feel that way is your own fault.  I have goals, and things that I want to do, and I don't ever do them, and, dear readers, this kind of passiveness and laziness on my part needs to end... So my goal is to set some goals, and then complete all of those goals.  I'll get you an update on that, eventually.

Anyway, now for your standard Lauren Blog recipe!

I love some good chicken noodle soup, but the stuff that comes out of a can is horrible, which is why I loved this recipe so hard.  It's creamy, and almost stew like, (or it was when I made it anyway, I don't actually know if it's supposed to be that way, but hey, whatever.) and it was pretty tasty.  I made some changes, but the recipe goes like this:

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 ½ c cooked diced chicken breast
14 oz can (fat free) chicken broth
½ can of 10 oz can (reduced fat or fat free) cream of chicken soup
1 c peas & carrots, drained
(¼  t pepper, ¼ t garlic salt) 
2 oz No Yolk noodle


Boil enough chicken for 1 ½ cups. Let chicken cool; then dice. Combine
 chicken, broth, soup, peas and carrots, pepper, garlic and salt and bring to a boil. 
 Stir in egg noodles; cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until noodles are tender. 

Pretty quick, not a ton of skill involved... You just need to watch it to make sure it doesn't boil over, because I didn't, and it did.  Just a heads up.  The only changes I made, if you could call them changes, were adding the whole can of cream of chicken soup instead of just half of it, the whole can of peas and carrots, and twice as many noodles as it actually called for.  The noodle part was an accident, and I don't necessarily advice doing that, because that's probably why the soup turned out stewy.  I ended up having to add a little bit of water back into it so that I could cook the noodles the rest of the way, and I burned the bottom a little tiny bit...  BUT other than that, fabulous.  Haha.  Just serve it up with a baked potato, or some garlic bread, or even just normal bread - whatever you prefer - and bon apetite! 


Monday, April 11, 2011

Mother Nature ruins even the best laid of my plans... And a chicken recipe

Running would be a million times easier if I was doing it indoors... But I cancelled my gym membership to save a little extra money, thinking it was going to warm up soon anyway, and it hasn't.  After I posted last it snowed, twice.  But then it started to warm up, and I had a little ray of hope.  I got John out of the house and we went on a run, and all seemed fabulous... Until John caught the plague.  And we haven't gone since.

I guess I could have gone by myself, but it's so hard to keep motivated when your sick husband is home watching the TV and not wanting to leave the couch, and in reality I just want to do the same, so I do.  And then I catch his plague, and the cycle continues.  Long story short, in the past two and a half weeks, I have run exactly once.  I guess that's better than no times... If I set the bar low I won't even have to jump it; I can just step over the top of it.

ANYWAY.  Today I am feeling a little better, and so is John, so tomorrow or Wednesday we will be getting back to it.  Hopefully.  We'll see.

Onto the recipe section of my blog:

Crispy Panko Chicken!  Yay!  I really love chicken, it's so easy to cook, and there's about a million ways to cook it.  Chicken soup, chicken and rice in several assorted flavors, fried chicken, baked chicken, broiled chicken, chicken cooked in pies with vegetables, chicken cooked with potatoes in your crock pot... You get the point.  This little chicken recipe I was kind of hesitant about, (mostly because of the mustard it uses to dredge the chicken in) but it was actually a pretty nice meal.  Plus John LOVES breaded/fried/dredged chicken.  Seriously, if there is anything like that on our menu for the week, he will pick it immediately, and there's no fighting him on it.  


1/3 C. Panko break crumbs
1/4 C. Shredded parmesan
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Pepper
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Water
1 Lb. Chicken breast

In a shallow dish, toss together panko crumbs, cheese, olive oil, 
salt, and pepper.  In another dish, combine mustard and water.  Coat chicken 
breasts in mustard mixtureand dredge in panko mix.  Bake on a 
sprayed baking sheet for 25 - 30 minutes at 400,or until golden brown.

Tada!  Cook up some rice with that, (we cheated and used Uncle Ben's 90 second microwavable brown and wild rice CHICKEN FLAVOR, (totally just said that whole sentence with one breath (IN MY MIND)) and it was pretty good) and you've got yourself a meal.  

P.S.: I have no idea if the last paragraph I wrote there is actually grammatically correct, but I don't even care right now, because I am sick, and at work, and I don't want to change it.  Happy eating!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nummy Pork Chops, Weight Watchers, and Getting Back To Running

Well, the title basically says it all.  My husband has maybe decided to join the Air Force, (more on that later) and so is trying to get into shape so he can meet the physical requirements.  This means a couple of different things for us, including eating healthy, (something I am awful at) and lots of exercise.  

Though, it turns out eating healthy isn't as hard, nor nearly as bad as I would have thought.  For anyone who doesn't know, which is probably most of you reading this blog, we've started using a meal planning program called e-mealz.  If you are interested, you can find the information at www.mealtimemakeover.com.  **Shout out to our friends Donny and Liz here, they introduced us to the program, and it is fabulous**  Anyway, I won't go into all of the details now, but there is a meal plan option that works with the WW points program, and it's working out just peachilly for John and I.  I will share one of the recipes with you from this week that was super easy to make, and really tasty.  And by super easy, I mean really, really easy.  I didn't even mess it up, so anyone else reading this should be in the clear.  



10 Oz. Can of fat free cream of chicken soup
1 Pkg. Onion soup mix
1/2 C. Fat free sour cream
1 Lb. Boneless pork loins (trim all fat)


Combine soups and sour cream; coat chops with mixture.  Place chops in crock pot, 
pour remaining soup mixture over the top of chops, and cook on low 7 - 8 hours.

Seriously.  That's it.  I love my crock pot.  Just chuck food in there, let it cook all day, and then - BAM! - dinner.  It's fabulously easy, and these pork chops were so tasty.  The meal plan had a recipe for potatoes to go with it, but we didn't use it, because I don't like gross, mushy boiled potatoes, so I improvised.  Normally that turns out poorly for me... But maybe I'm getting better at cooking, because it actually turned out this time around.  They were pretty good, (if I do say so myself) and not very difficult to make.



1/2 Lb. Small red potatoes
2 - 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/4 C. Fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, and other seasonings - to taste


Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces, toss with parsley.  In large separate bowl, combine 
olive oil and other seasonings.  Add potatoes to olive oil mix, toss/stir until all potatoes are 
coated with mixture.  Lay out on a baking sheet, broil on low for 15 - 20 minutes, or
until potatoes are tender.

Yep, pretty easy little meal.  I think we had the whole thing ready to go in about 30 minutes.  Note on the potatoes - We used a Tupperware container to mix the olive oil and seasonings with, and then added the potatoes and parsley in, closed the lid, and shook it up.  It was a lot easier than trying to stir everything together.   The other spices we used (I think) were marjoram, basil, salt, pepper, fennel, and oregano.  Use your own discretion; whatever smells nice together normally tastes good together, in my experience.  Anyway, they tasted really good with the sauce from the pork chops, and all in all it was a simple, fantastically delicious meal.  On the WW scale, I think the pork chops made four servings at five pts. each serving, and I think the potatoes made four servings as well, and they were something like four pts. each.

Now for the rest of my blog this week - Running!  (Fantastic segue, wasn't it?)

I haven't been running much since before my nose surgery.  The wedding took up around 157% of my time, and I got totally lazy and I haven't run much since.  I am so out of shape at this point, but I discovered this fantastic little tool I've been using called the Couch to 5K running program.  Basically it gives you a running program that builds up to you full on running a 5K.  John and I will probably start today, if the weather clears up a bit, and my goal is to be able to run a 5K at the end of the summer with my dad.  Hopefully I don't cheese out on this one, John and my dad will hopefully keep honest enough to do it.  I've mostly met my weight loss goals, but I need to tone up a little bit - I've got all sorts of flabby, lose bits that you don't want to hear about that I want to tone up.  So, yeah.  Running.  We'll see how that goes.