Friday, November 30, 2012

Aiden Gregory Loeffelholz

Are you mad at me? I bet so. I know I lied...I told you I would be back after the holiday...and then I stayed cocooned in my day to day hustle and bustle getting caught up with everything after the four (yeah, that's right....four!) Thanksgiving meals we had last week.

If it makes you feel any better....I sawee. I know, baby talk makes me want to break someone's thumbs, I won't do it again. But I really am sorry! I shall be back full force next week with some seriously amazing recipes (spoiler: one of the pasta meals was deemed THE best thing I've ever made by Main Man!!) and some great pics of Thanksgiving as well as my ah-mazing birthday cake that was provided by my new was superb!

BUT I have some splendiferous, awesomesauce, fabtown news to share with you....and that is this. Do you remember the Loeffelholz baby shower my girlies and I threw for my bridesmaid Amanda a couple months ago? Here is the little mama to be dancing on my bachelorette party bus in case you need a reminder of how fun she is:

Well.....Mrs. Loeffelholz had her baaaaaaaaaby! And he is a boy (I knew it)!!!  His name is Aiden Gregory and he was born at 7:50 pm last night (November 29th) weighing 6 lbs 9 oz and measuring 19.5 inches! The little bugger wasn't due until December 3rd but they induced her a little early...and we have another November baby to celebrate in the years to come!!

It was sort of like torture yesterday waiting to hear news from the hospital, although I'm sure it was even tougher on mommy and daddy. See, Amanda and Greg are another set of the cool parents that have the patience to wait and see what the sex of their baby is when they being the unpatient person I am, I was chomping at the bit to find out the gender and name of their new little person for most of this year!

Amanda and Greg sort of have the perfect love story and are absolutely the cutest couple ever...I know they will make terrific parents to lucky little Aiden and I can't wait to watch him grow into the little man he will be! Without further adieu, Mr. Aiden Gregory Loeffelholz....get ready for some lovin' tonight when I get off work, buddy!

Happy Friday, all! Pinky swear you'll hear from me on baby talk apologies will be necessary! :)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 years of Thankful

For those of you that don't know me in real life, you wouldn't know that my birthday tends to fall on Thanksgiving every few years. It used to pain me when I was younger, but now I appreciate the fact that I get to spend my birthday with loved ones and family near and dear to me. Plus, you can't really complain when your birthday meal is Thanksgiving dinner! I turn 30 years old this year on Thanksgiving day, and find myself being more and more thankful each year for all the things I enjoy about life. It's easy to get caught up in the humdrum of life and focus on the day to day drag of it all, but if I really think about it, the small things are just as important as the big things so it's nice to remind myself of all I'm gifted with in my 30 years of age. So here's my version of the Facebook Month of Gratitude everyone seems to be doing. I read through last year's post, 29 years of thankful, and it made me feel happy and content with my life and the last year of growth, so it's only fitting to do one for this year's milestone birthday. Here goes...

1. I'm thankful for love notes in my purse from my husband. They aren't elaborate poems, and they don't need to be. Finding a random note for no reason does exactly what this Thanksgiving holiday does for me each year...makes me realize how lucky I am to have the love in my life that I do. His notes can literally make my day and turn my attitude around in an instant. I love him for knowing when they are needed the most...

2. I'm thankful to be another year older, as the alternative doesn't sound too inviting! I'm not real stuck on numbers, so turning 30 isn't really bothering me. Why would it? This has been the best, most exciting year of my life, and we have so much more to come! If each year of my life keeps getting better than the last like it has, I don't know how I'll contain myself in the years to come! 30 is going to be great, bring on 31!

3. While I'm at it, I am particularly thankful for the year 2012. I never could've imagined being this happy a few years ago. I've been through other relationships, and Main Man and I have been through a lot ourselves, so being in this place in our lives is such an amazing gift that I don't even have words to describe it. This year has really made me feel the love from all my girlfriends, and family with the showers and special events people planned for us. It makes me feel so special to have so many people that care about me, it warms my heart just thinking about it. So besides getting married to my best friend this year, and celebrating our love together, this year has shown me the people around me in such a beautiful light, that it makes me love them even more (if that's possible). Love, love, love...there's love flying around everywhere!!

4. Wedding planning is over. Life is normal. This should probably be moved up on the list. This has been making me very thankful lately!

5. Thankful we are taking our honeymoon in January. Having a 7 day cruise to look forward to in the heart of the Winter months is something I am really grateful for right now. I'm glad we waiting to honeymoon until life calmed down a little instead of whisking away right after the wedding. It's fun to still have something in the coming months to look forward to...maybe that's why I'm not having the wedding hangover like some brides get after the nuptuals?

7. Surprise birthday parties! My ladies and my man threw me a surprise dinner the other night, that I was not expecting at all (kinda the point of a surprise, I know). It was a great night spend with all my favorite people, and I couldn't have planned it better had I done it myself...

8. I'm always extremely thankful for my parents, but it's been more evident this year after experiencing our wedding day. There will never be a comparison to seeing my dad cry when he saw me in my wedding dress for the first time. He's not an emotional man (at least on the outside), so having the feelings he felt at that moment bellow out of him uncontrollably was an awesome sight and made me realize how deeply our love for each other runs.  Listening to his speech and hearing him talk about my childhood and all they tried to teach me, and giving Main Man and I advice on marriage was something I cannot begin to explain how much it meant to me. I will forever be grateful to have had parents like I do in my life.

9. I am thankful for my job, but I am equally as thankful for my boss. My boss was actually an usher in our wedding and is one of my best guy friends. It's nice to know he's in my corner, and I know he knows I'm in his. It makes the business run smoothly to know we both have each other's best interest involved in decisions as well. I am thankful he values my opinion of how things should run, and is very generous with the flexibility of time off or other obligations besides work. I am extremely lucky to have a friendship with my boss on top of our work relationship.

10. I am thankful for soldiers, their families, and war widows. Let me articulate...I am not thankful that there are war widows, I am thankful for them and their strength. One in particular has a piece of my mind quite often, Amanda and Caydence Justice are the family of SSGT James Justice who was KIA in Afghanistan in April of 2011. I went to college with James, and he was best friends with an ex-boyfriend so I spent a good amount of time with him. He finished school, continued with the Guard, had a beautiful daughter, married a crazy strong wife, and lived literally 5 minutes from Main Man and I. I will never forget the day I got the message that he had been killed...and am forever grateful for his and other people's sacrifices for our freedoms.

11. I am thankful for the nice weather this Thanksgiving week...60 degrees in November? I'll take it!

12. I am thankful for burpees. I'm actually cringing while I type that, but I really am grateful to have the health and physical ability to be able to do 47 burpees on top of our Kosama workout last night. There are a lot of people who are not able to be as physically active as I am for various reasons, and although I may disagree with this statement when I'm dripping sweat and trying to catch my breath, I appreciate the fact that I am able to feel so alive and accomplish the physical things that I do.

13. I am thankful that Main Man's business is seriously flourishing this year. It's the best year he's had since he started 10 years ago, hands down, and it's only looking like it's going to continue. He works so very hard day in and day out, I see his drive and dedication to his success each and every evening when he falls into bed. It's one of the things I have been most attracted to in him as we started to get to know each other, and I'm so happy and proud that his determination is paying off.

14. I am thankful Brother Ben is back from overseas, and was able to be at our wedding, and will be able to be here for the holiday season (Thanksgiving AND Christmas) this year, as it's been quite a few years since he's had the opportunity to celebrate with us. I know it means a lot to me, but it means even more to my mother to be able to have both her children happy, healthy, and in one room to bring in the holidays!

15. I am thankful for my grandparents and all their years of marriage. My grandfather wore a suit for the "first and only" time at our wedding, and it makes my heart smile that he made the effort for his youngest granddaughter. My grandmother has been sick this week, so she is on my mind a lot at the moment. We will miss seeing them at Thanksgiving for the first time in alot of years...but they will be with us in spirit, and resting to be ready for lots of family time at Christmas!

16. I am thankful for Pinterest. Seems kind of lame but besides sucking a lot of my time, it has given me great craft ideas, awesome recipe ideas for this blog, and pretty much planned my wedding. I'm so glad Pinterest was around when I went through the wedding planning stages...TONS of great ideas!

17. I am thankful for my Mama K. My best friend, my favorite person to vent to, and the person who brought me into this world (with the help of Big Dan, of course, but she did all the heavy lifting). I'm not sure where I would be in this world if it weren't for her and her love. She continually gives me different views on life, and I'm lucky to have a little of her mixed in with a little of Dad to make me who I am!

18. I am thankful that I get to send out Christmas cards this year! Add another fun holiday tradition to the list! I didn't have time to make them super cool like I imagined, what with thank you notes, preparing for Thanksgiving and all that jazz, but don't you year they will be primo!

19. I am thankful for my lady friends and their healthy pregnancies. More and more of my friends are becoming mothers, and watching them go through the process of having children and entering motherhood has been such a learning experience for me. Not sure if you all know, but childbirth is one of my biggest fears in seeing all of these girls go through this process and explaining the do's/don'ts/trials/tribulations/pros/cons of everything before we take the plunge is absolutely the best thing in the world for me!

20. I am thankful for photography. I can't get over how awesome it is to document our lives and be able to look back at moments that can bring such emotion just by seeing an image. I looked through the photos of our engagement from last Thanksgiving and it just gave me goosebumps to remember the whole day by seeing the step by step of the photos. Then to look at our engagement photos, and now our wedding photos, is just beyond crazy the feelings that can be brought to the surface on any crappy day by seeing yourself in one of the best moments of your life. Awesome.

21. I'm thankful for short weeks. Seriously. I need this.

22. I'm thankful for the holiday season. I know everyone should feel the love and warmth throughout the whole year, count your blessings daily rather than yearly, do nice things for others out of the spirit of kindness and not just the holiday spirit....but there's something about this time of year that makes me warm and fuzzy inside. It's hard to have a bad day when you're in the middle of the season of love and thanks. I know I'm a huge creep, and some people get very annoyed with the holidays, but I really enjoy the festive, loving, mushtastic season!

23. I am thankful for red wine. I needed a drink last night....bad. Just one of those days, and having a glass of wine while finishing up thank you notes, was just what the Dr ordered. Sometimes, it's the little things...

24. I am thankful I learned to cook. I wasn't always able to throw dinner together by looking at ingredients and seeing what would go well together, and sometimes things still don't come out the best. But I am very thankful that I've kept trying to master the art of cooking, rather than continuing down the path of my 5 specialties in rotation with Lean Cuisines thrown in there for variety. It's a great feeling to put dinner on the table and have Main Man compliment me on it...I realize how domesticated that sounds, but I kinda like that too!

25. I am thankful for my health. I had a little scare at the Dr a couple months ago, nothing serious after a couple small procedures, and is actually very common after doing more research on it, but it made me very aware that things may not always be that way. There is a chance I develop some kind of health problem at some point, especially as we all age, so I'm very thankful to have my health right now, and will continue to try to keep it as long as I possibly can.

26. Speaking of health issues, I am thankful for Main Man and his support through the whole process of something that was very scary to me, even though it is very common. He sat with me in the Dr's office and held my hand through scary procedures even though it makes him weak in the knees to walk into hospitals. He's all the support I need in life, if he's by my side, I can handle anything.

27. I'm thankful for Facebook, and the ability it gives me to keep in touch with friends, new and old. It is an amazing time we live in where people from across the country can keep up with your goings on just as if you were next door neighbors. I cherish the ability to know what is important to them, keep up with their lives, and share my own life with such ease.

28. I am thankful to live in a place where I can see the shift from Spring to Summer to Fall to Winter each year...although I enjoy certain seasons more than others, enduring the not so fun ones make me appreciate the great ones even more. There are bonuses to each season...even though I hate the cold of Winter, the beauty of the first snow and the warmth of the holiday season make up for the nip in the air. Even though the heat of the Summer gets old after a while, the longer days and more sunlight can really up a girls mood throughout that season. Even though Fall is right before the dreaded Winter, it also means gorgeous colors in the trees and football season. And even though Spring....wait, there's nothing wrong with Spring at all. It's the beginning of the best time of year, we've gotten through the cold Winter and are looking down the road to another great year.

29. I am thankful to have the resources to enjoy a full spread of a meal for Thanksgiving with all my family each year. Some people don't have the luxury of being able to provide such a meal for their families, and its something we sometimes take for granted. Breaking bread with loved ones will always be one of my favorite ways to show love...probably why I love the holiday season so much.

30. I'm thankful for YOU! Those of you that come back each and every day, and read about my life with Main Man, our escapades in the kitchen, and all things in between. I never would have imagined having this many followers that I've never met (I really thought only family would follow me), having almost 2 million views from around the world, and having so many strangers with supportive comments that enjoy what I do here. Sometimes blogging can be a lot of work...when life gets busy, it's the first thing I think about dropping. But there's something that always brings me back...and I hope that something never goes away.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a great rest of the week. I will not be around the blogosphere until next week when I have a bunch of holiday recipes to share with you...I will be enjoying good food, great company, and a perfect birthday and Thanksgiving celebration! See you all then....

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loeffelholz baby shower

I suppose we better get to posting Baby L's shower before Baby L actually arrives! He/she will be blessing his/her parents with his/her presence before we know it, and I for one CANTFREAKINGWAIT to find out if we have a little Miss or a little Mister. Our group of girlies has gotten pretty great at planning, organizing, and executing bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and baby showers in the last few years as we all enter into different stages of our adult lives. It was Amanda's turn to be the one in the VIP chair as we threw her a shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her first bundle of joy!
Usually, I volunteer for food duty, for obvious reasons. But this time, I was put in charge of the games, so I was determined to find some fun games that didn't involve melted chocolate in diapers or eating baby food. I'm sorry folks, not all of us have babies yet, so eating out of a diaper does seriously freak me out. Not saying you moms eat out of diapers, but you see them a little more often, and maybe even when you're eating chocolate? Anyway, I had gone to a friends baby shower earlier in the year and they played some nice games without the gag I stole their ideas like a good shower thrower does :)
The first game involved only a paper and a pen. It was like baby Scattergories so the paper was lettered from A-Z and participants were asked to write down a word involving pregnancy, labor, babies, or motherhood corresponding with each letter. You only get a point for a word if someone else in the room doesn't use it so being creative is a plus! 
The next game involved a few more purchases. I filled a tray with each and every baby/mommy item I could find in a store and walked it around the room slowly, before stashing it where no one could see it. The person who remembered and wrote down the most items from the tray, won! Both games were very simple, took a bit of time, and the Mom of Honor got to take home all the extra baby gear used for the games....

Yummy, yummy cake on the gift table!

Brandy Sue's first ever diaper carriage, it turned out AMAZINGLY! She used a tutorial I sent her from Pinterest, so if you're interested in trying one of these, you can check out THIS LINK. I've made a couple diaper bikes before too, if you want to go that route.

The spread...bagel bar, fresh fruit, egg bake, lemonade punch...

Bagel bar with lots of different jams and cream cheeses...

Part of the planning crew :)

Mommy to be enjoying her cake!

Baby L is due to make his/her appearance on December 3, so I will keep you posted on the newest arrival to our friend family! Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday week...
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Berbere rubbed pork chops

It's Monday. I'm pooped. I feel 30. Good thing I have 3 more days to be 29. My sneaky (and loving) girlfriends with my sneaky (and loving) hubby planned a surprise birthday dinner for me this weekend. It was a wonderful weekend of shopping for a whole new work wardrobe (my birthday present from Main Man), a surprise dinner at one of my fave places (see pic of my oscar mad I forgot my leftovers), and lots of fun times with friends. I won't forget it anytime soon...I'm a lucky girl, and 2012 has been the best year yet. I can't wait to turn 30 on Thanksgiving day and welcome an even better year to come!
Like all good things, this weekend had to come to an end....but the best thing about your birthday being during a holiday week is that you have a short work week! And believe me, I need a short week right about now. I'm sure you're all planning your Thanksgiving meals this week, so if you want to check out some of our family's favorite holiday dishes, go check out last year's post with our  Thanksgiving menu on it, I promise you'll find something you can't live without!
As for us this week, easy dinners are the ticket when you're planning on a few large Thanksgiving meals later in the week. This is a simple weeknight meal, with great flavor that won't leave you unsatisfied and counting down the days for the real deal fat kid meals in a few days.
I had never heard of Berbere spices before but Wikipedia says:
Berbere (Amharic: በርበሬ berberē, Tigrinya: በርበረ berbere) is a spice mixture whose constituent elements usually include chili peppers, garlic, ginger, dried basil, korarima, rue, white and black pepper and fenugreek.[1][2] It serves as a key ingredient in the cuisines of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Berbere sometimes encompasses herbs and spices that are less well known internationally. The latter include both cultivated plants and those that grow wild in Ethiopia, such as korarima (Aframomum corrorima)[3] and long pepper.[4]
Interesting. I got the cutest little package of fun spices (and the cutest little package of cool flavored olive oils and vinegars) from my friend Leslie for one of the wedding showers we have a couple months ago. Leslie knows what is right up my alley because she resides in the same alley. She's a foodie, loves to stay active, enjoys a good time out on the town, and has a little of that OCD stuff I've got floating around. We mesh well. Anyway, she got me a bunch of cool cooking stuff from this little place called All Spice in the East Village (you can order online with that link if you're not from around here. I need to go there. I'm scared though. I have a vision of my bank account slowly draining itself in there....
This was the first of the new spices I used from the gift and I was uber impressed. I rubbed the pork chops with olive oil very generously, rubbed with the spice mixture, and refridgerated overnight to let that shizz fall in love before cooking. It was goooooood. Check this place out.

We grilled our chops to a charred perfection (the rub and olive oil made a nice almost sauce) and served with the Stensland vegetable favorite at the moment...roasted brussel sprouts. There were a lot of "mmmmm's" resonating from the walls of the casa that evening. Hopefully you hear them too!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Bay scallop scampi

 So, I get these "recipe of the month" dealies in the mail with a coupon for Waterfront (awesome sushi and fresh seafood market). They all sound great, but I've never had the gumption to try one before, so I just file them away in my rolodex and hope to look back on them someday with a fresh bounty of seafood at my fingertips. OK, that never happens...but I did have some frozen bay scallops leftover from the proscuitto wrapped scallops I did a while back. Thus, my gumption rang the doorbell when I saw the recipe of the month was bay scallop scampi. Boom shaka laka.
Here is the original recipe and I will tell you how I altered it in parentheses (I love parentheses):
1.5 T olive oil
3 T butter (I used marscapone cheese rather than butter, just because I had it on hand)
1 lb bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry (very important to decrease popping in the pan)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used 5...I'm crazy like that)
2 T fresh lemon juice (no lemons, I left this out)
1/4 cup white wine (no white wine, I'm a red fan, I left this out)
2 T capers (not a caper fan, left this out)
salt and cracked pepper to taste
2 T lemon zest (no lemons, no zest)
In a large heavy bottomed skillet (I used my new grill pan to make some perdy marks on my scallop friends), heat the oil and butter over medium high heat until mixture starts to brown. Make sure the pan and oil mixture is very hot before adding scallops...but don't burn it.

Add minced garlic to the pan, and continually stir to prevent scorching. Season scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the hot pan. Sizzle, sizzle, pop, pop...don't move the scallops around, let them sear for 30 seconds, then turn them over to sear for another 30-40 seconds. Be veddy veddy careful not to cook them for too long (cut into one if you have to), because rubberized scallops are a sin. If you burn them, you have to go to church twice this weekend.

I placed my seared scallops (do you see what I mean about those peeeeerdy grill marks?!) on a bed of the marscapone mashed potatoes that I made earlier in the week. This is the exact reason I don't make mashed taters much at home. We eat them every night...I love it but my potato ass doesn't love it. Extra Kosama this week, here I come!

I also threw 3 cups of fresh spinach into the hot pan with the marscapone after I had pulled the scallops. Wilted it and scooped it onto the plate as a side with the sauteed garlic and all it's love all up in there. Main Man's first words were "What's the green stuff?" but after I told him it was wilted spinach, it was the first thing that was gone from his plate. Score one for wifey!

This was a great meal, and one that I would've been happy with had we gone to Waterfront and ordered it at the restaurant. Nice to have it at home for half the cost!  Happy Friday, all! Enjoy your weekend :)

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken bacon rice bowls

I feel happyyyyy,
Oh so happyyyyy,
I am happyyy and witty, and gayyyy
And I pityyyy any girl who isn't me todayyyy!
Sorry for being annoyingly upbeat today. Something in the air, I guess? Thanksgiving is next week (my 30th birthday just so happens to fall on Turkey day this year), it's Mama K's birthday today (shoutout to my favorite lady in the 'verse), I feel light and airy and like I have tons of time now that it's not all taken up by wedding planning (married life is swell, by the way), I'm back in the swing of Kosama with a great workout partna (Kristyn, you've been a lifesaver to my motivation), it's almost the weekend (where we get to celebrate Brandy Sue's birthday, yeaaahhhhh), and ohhhhh what I really need any more reason to be in a fabulous mood? I think not. So you're going to have to deal with my extra bubbles today, be grateful you can't hear me squeal about how yumtastical this meal was, and how mad I am that I had never thought of it before because it is soooooo easy. Be very grateful.
This recipe came from my favorite place to steal sweet food ideas from, Iowa Girl Eats. It's ok, you can like her better than me. I like her better than me. I've come to terms with it. I saw this posted a couple weeks ago, happened to have all ingredients standing at attention, ready to report for duty, and decided this was happening...immediately. I tweaked it a bit to what I had on hand and now, my grasshoppers, I share this with you...
8 slices bacon
2 bags rice (I used Uncle Ben's long grain and wild per usual)
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bit sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can mushrooms
4 cups baby spinach
Cook your bacon to your liking, everyone likes it different you know. I like ours crisp but not crispy...still some rubbery to it but it has to be done. Do as you wish with this part. IGE actually baked her bacon, but I wanted to use a bit of the bacon grease to season this rice bowl (my father would be so proud) so I cooked it like normal in a skillet. Take the bacon out, drain over half the liquid and add 2 t of olive oil. Add the chicken and saute until cooked throughout. Add mushrooms and garlic, stir continuously so garlic doesn't burn. Add the spinach to the skillet and allow it to wilt beautifully. Cook the rice packets in the microwave and add them to the skillet to allow everything to cook all together for a bit. Use kitchen shears to snip the bacon up into small pieces to add to the party, and you're ready to serve!
Did you notice that you only used one skillet? Hot diggety-no dishes-dog! I mean, you do have a couple dishes, the skillet and the stirrer you use, but that sounds better than hot diggety-minimal dishes-dog. Know what I mean? Anywho...I threw a bit of soy sauce on here for a little extra flava and I was one happy camper. I saw the forkplane of rice fly into my mouth more than once while I was putting the leftovers away.
P.S. The leftovers are gone. They gone.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rosemary roasted chicken

We're going to go with an easy one today, is hump day, after all. Get through today and it's running downhill to the weekend, wheeeeeeeeeeee! Sidenote: have you ever seen the commercial with the little pig in the backseat of the car yelling "Wheeeeeeeee!!!!" all the way home? I die. Every time. But I digress....
This is one of those "I don't know what to make for supper" meals that always pleases. Main Man loves this shizz. The chicken gets a crispy skin (we are forever carnivores in our household and the skin is a treasured commodity since I normally serve boneless, skinnless chicken breast), the inside is super moist (I can type that word, but I cannot say it in real's such a gross word), and the flavor (omg, you guys, the flavor!) is just perfection. I'm telling you...
Here's the scoop:
olive oil
salt and cracked pepper to taste
chicken thighs
You take some thawed chicken thighs, enough for however many people you're serving, rub some olive oil into them like you're massaging away the stress of a hard week on that little chicken's thighs (I know how it feels if it had to do a zillion squats in Kosama this week too), season with salt, cracked pepper, and plenty of rosemary. Rosemary on chicken is like my fave spice...great on taters too. It just works.
Throw them in the oven (preheated to 400 degrees) for 20 minutes or so (maybe longer depending on your oven or the size of your thighs) until done. I always cut into chicken in its thickest part to make sure its done, I cringe at the thought of eating pink chicken. Ugh.
I served this with leftover marscapone mashed potatoes and it was the most down-home meal we've had in a while. Crisp chicken, creamy taters, and a big glass of milk...sigh. Happy hump day, all!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chicken broccoli rice casserole

I've been making variations of this dish for's like the first thing I learned to make on my own. I was so proud of myself. Everyone seemed to like it...and I made a flipping casserole!!! So grown up, I was. It was like a new beginning when I was in college and made something besides spagetti or tacos (those were the only things I knew how to work with after I left home, pretty much). I'm sure you all remember the timeframe in your lives where you left the box, and started wanting more than takeout or was life changing for me. What was your first "real meal" cooking experience that you remember?

Anywho...I used to make this allllll the time. So I got sick of it for a while once I started exploring cooking at home even more. But it popped into my head the other day, and I had to throw it together for old time's sake. It's even easier than I remember...super yummy, and not to mention kid friendly as well!

Let's get this party started....

4 large chicken breasts, seasoned, baked, and diced into bite sized pieces
3 bags long grain wild rice (I use this stuff)
3 cups broccoli, chopped small
1 can mushrooms
8 oz fat free cream cheese
1 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
fresh cracked pepper to taste

Mix everything up in a mixing bowl (don't cook the rice or broccoli first, it will cook while it bakes), spread it into a 9x13 baking dish (save a little cheese for the top if you wish...and I wished). Bake while covered at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until heated throughout. Serve with a veggie side or all by itself...that's up to you and your cohorts. I chose to include a side of our frozen sweet corn that we make each year, so we don't have to be without it after the season is over. Serve while steaming hot, close your eyes, and take in all the comfort of the won't be disappointed.  Happy Tuesday, all!!

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Marscapone mashed potatoes

You can't really get much simpler, or a more comforting food than mashed potatoes. They are a real treat around our casa, as I can house them like no other. I'm seriously a potato freak, and a good mashed potato is un-freaking-beatable in my world. I saw this recipe and seriously freaked because I've been wanting to try marsapone cheese foreva, eva! They always put it in desserts on the tv show Chopped (I'm a bit obsessed) but I don't do desserts very often so I've never found a reason to buy it. Until now.....
2 lb yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
5 T marscapone
2 t salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Throw your taters in and bathe them until you can fork them with no the point where they fall apart when you throw a fork in there. Drain and add them to your new, sweeter than crap, Top Chef mixing bowl that you got from an awesome bridesmaid named Amanda for a wedding gift, and add the marscapone, salt, and milk with your new, absolutely awesome, Top Chef measuring spoons you received from a sweet cousin named Lauren. I also added 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder (do what you can depending on the vicinity your breath has to be to another person's face that night).

I used my hand mixer to mash these babies up, but you can use a hand smasher, a Kitchenaid mixer, whatever you can get your potato loving hands on at the moment. The hand mixer made them sooooooo creamy (if you watch The Soup, I said that in my head like he says "Soooooo meaty" when it's Chat Stew time...Im horribly weird, I know) and decadent. I was SO PROUD (that was said in Coach Paul Rhoads voice in his famous speech after a big ISU win last year) that these turned out perfect...these were like restaurant style garlic mashed potatoes, you guys. Do you find it weird that I have other people's voices floating around in my head for certain phrases? I'll stop if I'm scaring you...I mean I won't stop hearing them, but I'll stop letting you know about random football coaches and tv show hosts narrating my thoughts. I would do that for you...

I'm cracking up right now looking at the final pictures. I had my plate all put together, a nice floofy (yes, that's a word in my inner dictionary) plop of potatoes with a fork in them looking like they're ready to eat.....I had my camera up to my face trying to get the right angle with no shadows (photographing after the sun is down is hard)....and Main Man was standing there watching me, grabbed the fork and smeared the potatoes across the plate right as I snapped the picture. I can't even believe he got his hand out of there in time! He took off running (knowing I would be in flight right behind him for payback) and I caught him quickly due to his uncontrollable laughter. He thought it was hilaaaaaarious...and I have to admit, I was laughing so hard at how funny he thought he was that I had tears streaming down my face!

Anyway...the morals of this story are:

1. Make these potatoes. They would be great for the holidays!
2. It's super fun to be married to your best friend :)

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Meatball casserole

I feel kinda bad ending a week on a "don't try this" recipe, but I gotta post it sometime. It's for the greater good, ya know!? Pinterest is a finicky bizzo, and although sometimes the ideas leave me screaming from the rooftops about their success, other times Main Man says I'm grounded from it for a while to think about what I just did. This was one of the latter times...
This recipe, my friends, is being tagged to the SNAFUS files.
Let's talk about my other recent Pinterest fail, which was sparkler pictures at our wedding. I now have a two inch scar on my arm that I'm pretty sure will be a permanent reminder of our wedding day (how sentimental...) and a hole in the back of my dress that looks like someone put a large cigarette out on my back. No biggie. We got a good shot or two, so it was worth it. Not like I'm going to wear the dress again, out on the town for our anniversary or anything. But I wouldn't recommend it, if you were in fact contemplating walking through a tunnel of 20 inch fire starters on your wedding night. Be informed about these decisions, folks.
This Pinterest fail was far less painful, and didn't leave me with any lasting scars. Do you remember when I made the skinny meatball subs? They were soooooo good! Like bite your tongue so no naughty words of exclamation slip out after your first bite, good. See how I'm redeeming myself with today's crap post by giving you a phenomenal recipe to try instead?! I care about you...
So I thought those meatballs would be perrrrrrfect in a meatball casserole that I saw on the aforementioned site, and I just so happened to have leftover meatballs frozen from my original batch. Well, here's how it went...
The recipe called for crescent roll on the bottom, but I thought cheesy garlic bread would slam this into another dimension. That may have been my downfall. This was the base of the casserole.

Then, you add your meatballs, and cover them with sauce. Instead of going with just a red sauce, I thought a two timing casserole with alfredo and marinara would be kicking. Another fork in the road that could've caused the pile up.

Italian seasoning and then top with fresh mozzarella...because we all know you can't go wrong there. And that's a true statement. The cheese was the best part of this arrangement.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until it's all warm and bubbly and yummy looking. It will fool you, I promise. It looks like a melted pile of warm fuzzy there, but it did not in fact produce a true warm fuzzy. I mean...I'm not sure what happened. The meatballs were good, the cheese was good. Something about the sauces being mixed together was off, although I'm not sure why, because I've made two timing pasta before with dual sauce parties. The garlic bread base though? That was a kick to the mouth. And not in a good way. In a "yeah, you suck" way. It was so soggy, it was like eating wet bread. Main Man actually looked at me after eating half of his plate (he was hungry) and said "Don't make this again, ok?".  I absolutely love that he's not scurrrrred to let me know when my skills are lacking and make sure he's never faced with the same plate of squish again.'s where it gets weird. We each ate a little that night, enough to kill the appetite and be done with it. But I was going to throw the rest away, and just couldn't bring myself to toss my hard earned, and tasty balled up meat spheres. Soooooo I plucked them out of the casserole and threw them into spagetti the following night. And there was where they found their true was like the ending of Homeward Bound...they made it back to their roots! And we all lived happily ever after with not so much as a thought of ever making a casserole with meatballs again. The end.

Happy Friday, all!

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beef enchilada casserole

Sorry for the unplanned hiatus this week, folks. I have no excuse really. The election gets me all sorts of wound up and I can think of nothing but articles on the economy, what each candidate will do for the country, and watching election coverage until my eyeballs pop out. Yeah, I'm one of those people. I'm the passionate, opinionated, loudmouth chick that posts political articles and arguments all over my facebook page and will argue debate anyone with differing opinions than my own. It's tiring. And I'm sure my friends are happy the election is over.

Anywho...there was no room in my head to write witty blog posts while I was coming up with witty arguments for or against the candidates. Sooooo, you had to wait a couple days for this...

This is good stuff. This was a wonderful accident. This was a lazy attempt at making something mexican themed with what I had in my house so I wouldn't have to run to the store. This was what I brought to the table to serve my three most pickiest girlfriends when visiting the Anthony household to meet their new little bundle of love muffin, Ava Marie. And this turned out to be a hit.

2 lbs hamburger (or ground turkey)
2 (15 oz) cans mild enchilada sauce
1 can corn, drained
2 bags Spanish rice (microwave bags...see here)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 large tortillas
3 cups mexican cheese (I used 2%)

Brown the hamburger in a large skillet. Once brown, drain and add back to skillet. Add corn and tomatoes, cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add rice and enchilada sauce until warm throughout. Set mixture aside.

Layer two ripped up tortillas in a 9x13 casserole dish (sprayed with nonstick Pam) and then top it with 1/3 of the beef mixture. Layer two more ripped up tortillas on top of that, top with one cup of cheese. Layer 1/3 more of the beef mixture on top of that, top with last two tortillas and one cup of cheese. Layer the last 1/3 of the beef mixture, cover with the last two tortillas, and top with the last cup of cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees if cooking immediately. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of bake time. Serve with salsa, sour cream, or whatever other toppings you enjoy.

Nothing too spicy for the new, breastfeeding mama. Nothing with too much taste for Brandy and Cynthia, who have very sensitive palates. But still enough for me to give an audible (and surprised since I knew there was a lack of seasoning) MMMMMMMMM after my first bite. It was filling too. That's a checkmark in every column, people....easy, filling, fast, uses pantry staples, yummy. Can't even come up with a criteria that this doesn't fit.

This would freeze wonderfully too, in fact, that was my original intention. I also brought Mama Anthony a couple freezer meals that have been tested my other mommies and approved. The smothered pork chops is one of my go-to recipes (and one of my first blog posts, don't judge the photos), and the baked tortelini is a standard easy freezer meal so I went with those. They are both simple, don't require too many ingredients, reheat easily, and don't have too much spice for nursing mommies so they are perfect for new baby meals.

Welp...I shall leave you with the best pictures of the post...a little mama love for munchkin Ava. She is the smallest baby I've ever held, and literally feels like you're holding a doll! Have a great Thursday, people!

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