Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Post: Marrid to a Chef



This week I got to do a guest post over at Married to a Chef's wonderful blog.  I know some of you are also married to a chef, and if you haven't already checked this site out, you must do it now!  Kerilyn Russo started this site to give us ladies a support system and a place to vent about the restaurant life.  It is so great to know you are not alone and to get advice from people who have already been there, done that!  What is also great is Kerilyn is very active and provides very straight forward feedback which I find comforting.  You can really see her passion through her answers and questions on her site and facebook page.

Check out my guest post here!!
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomato Chicken Bake

This is the last dish that I served my mother, aunt, and sister for Mother's Day.  It concludes my "Low Fodmaps Diet" challenge.  The challenge was to cook an entire meal according to the diet guidelines, but also make dishes that were enjoyable for everyone.  Judging by all the clean plates and all of us going for seconds, I'd say it was a success!

This chicken recipe...despite my under done potatoes (which I will be making this dish again shortly to get it down to a science!) was delicious!  I think this was the most moist chicken I've ever had.  It really gave a juicy steak a run for it's money.  All of the ingredients compliment each other and make the dish look lovely.  Add you can't ignore how simple it is to throw this stuff into a casserole dish and bake it.  Being such a healthy dish is an added bonus, which means you can eat as much as you want, right?

tomato chicken bake

tomato chicken bake

Ingredients
1 tbs olive oil
6 chicken breasts
5 red potatoes, quartered
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine, eyeball it
6 slices of lemon
salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium to large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Season each side of the chicken breasts, add to the skilley, and brown on each side.  Remove the chicken to a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the tomatoes on top of the chicken.

Add the potatoes to the same skillet and cook until golden brown on each side.  Add the potatoes to the casserole dish.  (Do not skimp on this step.  I did, because I got really impatient and my potatoes turned out to be under done!  Not a fun crunch.)

Place a slice of lemon on top of each chicken breast.  Pour the white wine over the top.  Sprinkle the rosemary and fresh cracked pepper.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. 





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Just because I don't use our dining room table enough, here is a picture of the table setting before we chowed down!

table setting

table setting
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sinless Margarita Giveaway Winners

A big THANK YOU to all who entered.  I'm so glad I got to spread the word about this awesome drink mix.  I hope you all go out to a store near you and buy some of this stuff.  It really is delicious!  I think it would be good even with out the tequila :)

Like I said, Sinless Margarita has offered to give 2 of my readers 1 bottle of Sinless Margarita Mix.  The 2 winners are:

1.  Beckie K
The recipes she wants to try is the Sinless Georgia Peach!

2.  Nancy
The recipe she would love to try is the Sinless Sangria!

Please email me at kpm679@gmail.com with your mailing address by this Friday May 25th.  Of course, I will not share it with anyone except the owner at Sinless Margarita so they can send you the prize! 


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Friday, May 18, 2012

Sinless Margarita Giveaway!

**Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!**

Well, summer is almost here which means most of us are trying to get into shape for bikini season.  Which wouldn’t be so difficult if you never wanted to have any fun and margaritas didn’t exist.  Well, they do, and they are delicious.  But, your typical margarita mixes have anywhere from 60-80 calories per serving in them!  Holy begeezus, how are we supposed to get anywhere with that?  Especially on Cinco de Mayo…

Have you heard of Sinless Margarita?  These all-natural mixes are sweetened with Stevia Extract and are only 5 calories per serving.  Which makes each margarita…sinless.  And you no longer have to feel bad about the 5 margaritas you had last night, yea girl, 5!  If you do the math, 400 calories compared to 25…you would be crazy not to use Sinless Margarita Mix from now on.

I brought these mixers to a girl’s night this past weekend and we couldn’t believe how yummy they tasted.  The girls kept commenting on how much flavor the mixers had without being overly sweet and thick.  That's what usually keeps me from using mixers is, some are too syrupy and sweet for their own good.  Flat out, these are by far the best margarita mixes I've ever had, no matter how many calories they have!

And how cool are the bottles?  

sinless margarita mix


My favorite part about Sinless Margaritas are that they were created by a husband and wife, Zach and Cat Hawkins.  They are so down-to-earth and seem like the kind of couple I’d like to hang out with.  And what makes them even more awesome is, they’ve offered to give 1 free bottle of Sinless Margarita mix to 2 of my readers.

How to Enter

1. You must be a Google Friend Connect follower of my blog

Additional entries:

2.  Like Sinless Margarita on Facebook
3.  Follow Sinless Margarita on Twitter
4.  Check out the recipes on Sinless Margarita and tell me which you would try first

5.  Like me on Facebook
6.  Follow me on Twitter
7.  Follow me on Pinterest
  
All separate comments please.

So there are 8 possible entries for you!

The 2 winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 23rd!
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad


Sometimes I wonder, are there still good people in this world?  Well last night, my question was answered.  First off, I had a “girl’s night” dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.  It was a much needed girl time that we BOTH needed.  I’d left straight from work, made a stop at the gas station, and headed straight to the restaurant.  We had a great time catching up on…life!

When the check came, I searched my tiny purse for my card.  It was no where to be found.  I checked all of my pockets and still nothing…zilch.  Thankfully, I had some cash in my purse which is rare.  So I assumed my card was laying in my car seat or something.  Yea…nope…not there either.  So one the way home (30 minutes away) I gave the gas station I’d stopped at earlier a call to see if anyone had turned in a card.  Another no.  And of course I thought “Great, I’m going to have to cancel my card and it’s going to be a huge pain in my ass to replace.”

Then I decided to call the restaurant just to make sure it wasn’t in the booth or something.  I was greeted by a nice woman and she put me on hold for 10 minutes to go look for my card.  The manager then picked up the phone and asked me what my name was.  I told him and then he burst out laughing.  Umm k, kind of starting to freak out here, what’s up?

He said “We have your card and you will NEVER guess where a customer found it!”…awkward silence from my end, but I realized he was waiting for me to respond, so I asked “Where?”  He replied “IN THE TOILET!!!”

So, an awesome, random customer saw my card in the bottom of a public toilet, reached her hand into the nursty water to save my precious debit card!  I mean, had she left it there and just decided to flush it to toilet heaven I would’ve completely understood.  I asked the manager if the customer left her name so at least I could thank her, but she didn’t.  So there are still people out there who will sacrifice their hand to a public toilet to retrieve and turn in your card!

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad


Here is the salad I prepared for us to eat for lunch.  To follow the fodmaps diet, I mixed everything together minus the goat cheese.  Then prepared a bowl for my sister and then added the cheese.  She thought the salad was still awesome and refreshing without the cheese. 

Ok, this is one of my favorite salads!  This salad is super healthy and combining the strawberries, lemon juice, and goat cheese creates its own dressing.  Actually, most salads I use a fresh squeeze of lemon juice instead of dressing because it really cuts down on the calories. And it didn't hurt that the strawberries were from the farmers market!

Ingredients
Salad
Fresh Strawberries, sliced
Fresh squeeze of lemon juice
Dash of extra virgin olive oil
Goat cheese(optional)
Chopped nuts (optional)
Fresh cracked pepper

Directions
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss. Done.
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quinoa Salad

This past weekend was Mother’s Day, and I was lucky enough to have my momma come to me, as well as my aunt and sister.  My sister has started a new diet, so I thought it would be simpler for me to prepare a nice lunch at the house.  Oh a diet, no big deal…have you heard of the low fodmaps diet?  For starters, fodmaps stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols.  Chew on that for an appetizer!

The diet was created to help those with IBS or to determine food nuisances.  Research has found that foods containing a high level of these fodmaps result in more liquid and gas in your intestines which results in stomach pains, bloating, and other IBS symptoms.  So eliminating these from your diet (if you have IBS) should decrease your symptoms noticeably! 

Ok, so what foods have high fodmaps and which do not?  That is the question.  Check out these charts:





So naturally, I felt a challenge coming on.  I knew I could create recipes that adhered to this diet, but would everyone else enjoy the recipes?  I’ll let you be the judge of that!



Quinoa Salad

-WAIT- if you are going to make this, you MUST know how to pronounce the star ingredient.  Before I was corrected by my certified food expert of a husband I would say “QUIN-NO-AH”.  Even though it sounds right and rolls off the tongue with ease, it is wrong.  The correct pronunciation is “KEEN-WAH”.  Just chalk it up to the genius who came up with the English language.

Ingredients
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced
1 handful fresh basil, chiffonade
Salt
Pepper

Directions
-Follow the cooking directions on the box of quinoa.  I actually cooked mine in the microwave!
-While quinoa is still hot, mix in the tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and cider vinegar. 
-Give the salad a little taste and add salt and fresh cracked pepper as needed.
-Place in the refrigerator to cool and serve chilled.

*This salad tastes better if you make it the night before and refrigerated.  Gives the vinegar time to soak into the tomatoes and the basil’s flavor to pop.
*Use whatever tomatoes you can find.  I prefer to use small and sweet ones.
*Feel free to change up the type of vinegar you use to end up with a whole new salad!  Red wine or balsamic vinegar would be great alternatives!
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Low Country Boil Wednesday

It is normal for you to come home, open your fridge, and see a package of ground beef just waiting to be cooked.  It is not so normal for you to come home to a bag of live crabs on your counter...unless you live with us!  I swear, it takes a lot to surprise me now.  I can't tell you how many times I've pulled into the garage with dead ducks hanging in front of my car from the boys duck hunting that morning, what a welcome.  Or the time I came home to a yard blanketed in goose feathers because Nate used a leaf blower instead of a vacuum.  And I'm not talking about one feather every few feet...it looked like a whole flock of geese just decided they'd had enough of their feathers and dropped them off in our yard.  But on the bright side, it was a nice distraction from all the weeds in our yard!  Or the time I came home to a giant turtle shell in the front yard on top of an ant hill.  Basically, boys are nuts.

But the bag of crabs worked out in everyone's favor this time.  We had a delicious, week night, low country boil to celebrate hump day!  The fixings also included shrimp, butter fish, potato, corn, sausage, and old bay.  Enjoy the pictures of the pissed off crabs and the end result.










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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Who else is a sucker for soup?  There is something so comforting and homey about a warm bowl of soup no matter what the weather is outside.  Of course soup is way better in the cold winter months, but in the spring and summer when the produce is at it's peak, you have to take advantage!  And just the mere mention of Velveeta makes my heart tingle and mouth water.  What's even better is, I can freeze the leftovers to enjoy during hibernation.  And for the record, I'd cook this over any other restaurants broccoli and cheese soup any day. Enjoy!

broccoli and cheese soup

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb fresh broccoli, chopped to desired consistency
1 can rotel
1 32 ounce box chicken broth
1 lb velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup water
salt and pepper

Directions   
In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat
Add onions and garlic, and cook until soft
Add broccoli and cook for about a minute
Stir in rotel and chicken broth
Simmer the soup until broccoli is tender (10-15 minutes)
Reduce the heat and stir in the cheese, a couple cubes at a time
Add the milk and garlic powder, stir to combine
In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water, until dissolved
Stir cornstarch mixture into soup, bring to a boil to thicken
Give the soup a taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I used seasoned salt instead of kosher)
Top with sour cream, chives, bacon, croutons, and even more cheese (you deserve it!)
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Sewing Table / Craft Desk: Part 2

This weekend Nate and I finished building my sewing table / craft desk.  We already had one of the shelves so we can to buy and assemble the second.  I got a great deal on the shelf at Target...it was already on sale and the corner of the box was damaged so I got an additional 30% off.  It never hurts to ask!  Then, Nate screwed the wood to the tops of the shelves, I added the baskets, and wah la!  Done.  Now I just need to organize and add the sewing / craft supplies.  And find a cheap wooden stool.



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Friday, May 4, 2012

Simple Chicken and Veggies

Ok, this is another one of those "I have a ton of veggies that we need to eat up.  Now what do I make?" Threw a bunch of the veggies in a pan with butter and wine, so it was sure to be good!  And anything with capers is a winner in my book.  No matter how full I get, I'll pick the capers out one by one and eat them (at home with my fingers, restaurant without tablecloths with my fingers, and restaurants with a tablecloth...a friggin fork!).  No man...er caper...left behind!


You may be asking yourself, what's the deal with the tablecloths?  Read this postThis dish is meant to be versatile.  You can pretty much adjust any part of the ingredients to your own preference.  Also, if you have any other veggies to throw into the mix, don't hesitate (unless you're thinking about adding carrots)!  Cooking should be fun and don't ever be afraid to experiment.  Anyway, hope everyone has a splendid weekend!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Chicken Veggies


Ingredients
2 chicken breasts
3-4 tomatoes, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
capers
1/2 a stick of butter
1/2 cup white wine
thyme
salt and pepper
asparagus, ends trimmed off
1-2 lemons
olive oil

Directions 
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees

-Cover a baking sheet with foil and add the asparagus.  Drizzle some olive oil (just enough to thinly coat the spears) and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Toss the asparagus around to coat and then spread out to an even layer in the pan.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

-Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook the chicken on both sides until cooked through out.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.


-In the same pan/skillet you used to cook the chicken, melt butter on medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic.  Let them cook until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes and bell pepper, and a pinch of salt, grind of pepper.  

-Add some wine (I had a glass in my hand anyway, decided it was time for a refill, so I literally dumped the rest of my glass into the pan...classy I know) and continue to cook the veggies until the asparagus is finished.  


-Before turning off the heat on the stove add the thyme and capers.  Stir into the mix and spoon the veggies over the chicken.


-Remove the asparagus from the oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top of the spears. Add a portion to each plate.  Enjoy!
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sewing Table / Craft Desk: Part 1

My awesome mother in law got me a sewing machine for my birthday back in February.  She has to have psychic abilities or a little birdie told her I was starting to look for a sewing machine.  Wonder who the birdie could've been?  Needless to say, I was so surprised and excited about the gift!

Now that it is May and my sewing machine still hasn't escaped it's box, it is time for me to get cracking on the sewing table / craft desk.  I've had the plan for months and just have been too busy to make it happen.  No more excuses.  

Everyone who knows me, is well aware of my obsession with orange.  It's not just my favorite color, it's my way of life.  So naturally, you would think I would paint my desk orange.  Sorry to disappoint and shock you but...



Next step is to paint the underside of the desk and shelves.  Then it is assembly time!
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chicken Seasoning

Sometimes, I just don't feel like cooking.  The whole process of figuring out what to make, getting the ingredients, making sure it's going to taste good, and cleaning up the mess afterwards just doesn't seem worth it some nights.  Well, I feel like that probably...once a week!

How simple is it to cook chicken breasts in a pan?  Pretty darn easy.  How simple is it to make that chicken taste absolutely divine?  Ditto.  By mixing up some dried herbs and spices you already have on hand, you can really take a simple piece of meat to the next level.  You are basically making barbecue chicken with out the sauce.  This recipe is perfect for a dinner during the week..when you don't feel like devoting any time to figuring out what the heck to make that night.  Just getcha some chicken and rub it with this, and you're pretty much done!  You could even double or triple the seasoning mix and just keep it on hand for when ever you need it.  How easy is that?

I served this chicken with a side of couscous which I prepared in a tupperware in the microwave.  So all the leftovers of couscous were already in the storage container for me to use the rest of the week. And with that, couscous just jumped to the front of the line for my favorite "starch".  We also dipped the chicken in store bought barbecue sauce.

The color is beautiful!
Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon season salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Juice from 2 limes

Directions
-Mix the first 9 ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle on each side of the chicken breasts.  Rub it around to evenly coat the chicken with the seasoning.

-Add the butter and olive oil to a shallow pot or skillet over medium heat.

-Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides.

-Sprinkle the teaspoon of garlic powder and pour the lime juice over the chicken.

-Stir the sauce around and cook for another 5 minutes.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
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