Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Honey Chicken Kabobs

This is such an easy meal that has become one of Casey's favorites for me to make, which is fine by me. We have a simple division of chores in our house. I love to cook and I cook every night and Casey cleans up the kitchen. I get out rather easy on nights that we have frozen pizza or simple kabobs.

I pulled this recipe from Allrecipes when I was searching for a marinade that I could make with a limited amount of ingredients on hand. It involves soy sauce, vegetable oil, and honey which I usually always have. I keep an economy sized jar of soy sauce on hand and my brother-in-law makes his own honey which we usually have (but now we're out of, by the way Keith). The ingredient measurements will look weird, because the original serving was 12 and I cut it in half. I used a green bell pepper instead of a red, but use whatever pepper you have on hand! I also threaded all of my onions on one skewer, chicken on another, etc. so that if the vegetables needed to cook longer they were all on the same skewer. Also, remember to soak your skewers in water before you thread them so that they won't burn.

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 clove garlic
2 small onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, soy sauce, and pepper. Before adding chicken, reserve a small amount of marinade to brush onto kabobs while cooking. Place the chicken, garlic, onions and peppers in the bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (the longer the better). Preheat the grill for high heat. Drain marinade from the chicken and vegetables, and discard marinade. Thread chicken and vegetables alternately onto the skewers. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the skewers on the grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until chicken juices run clear. Turn and brush with reserved marinade frequently.

Julia's Peppery Pot Roast

I borrowed this recipe from Jen over on Pass the Pepper and I've made it twice since I've tried it the first time. Casey and I both really enjoyed it and it's one of those things that my mom used to make on Sunday that I never really bothered to learn how to make. The sauce had just the right amount of spice to it and it's definitely been added to our list of recipes.

(Source: Pass the Pepper)
Servings: A lot

4 lb beef roast
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp dry mustard
Dash of nutmeg
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 cup beef stock

Bring the roast to room temperature, rub it with salt and pepper then brown it on both sides. Place roast in the crock pot and add 1 cup of beef stock to the bottom. Mix all the above ingredients together and pour onto the roast. Cook for 6-7 hours on high. I added a half of an onion sliced, carrots, and potatoes during the last 2 hours like Jen did. I also added a little more broth when I added the vegetables. I served it with corn and biscuits. Very good!

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Lull is Over

There has been this period of time after the wedding that I haven't had anything to do. All gifts are put away, payments are sent out, and honestly we just don't have any more wedding stuff to fill our time anymore (which is great). Now the pictures are back and we sent away for our thank you notes last night. So people, don't give up hope on us if you haven't received a thank you yet, they're on their way! We're also very close to getting a puppy which is exciting.

We went to meet another breeder on Sunday about an hour away from where we live. This was an interesting lady. She bred the puppies, first of all, to buy grass seed to put in her daughter's yard (which was a trailer that they had popped up in the backyard of their trailer). Then she proceeded to tell me that the dogs were really good and the only time one of them acted up she beat the dog and it never did it again. Ya think?!?! Poor dogs. I wish I could show you our faces after we were finished talking to her. She just kept repeating herself (if we heard the word Seminole one more time we probably would have pounded on her just a little bit). She also kept pushing us to put a deposit on these 2 week old puppies. By the time we left we were so turned off by her that we were getting to the point of being mad. Yes, the puppies were adorable, but when you buy from a breeder you have the lovely choice of seeing who you give your money to and who you could possibly be enabling to breed. Sorry lady, come up with another way to buy grass seed for your daughter's yard.

We have had a positive experience. There's a lady in NC that's approved by the American Shih Tzu Club and she has 2 males. She's been great to talk to so far, although Casey has done most of the talking. She has a friend coming to get one tomorrow and she's only getting one, so the other one is ours if we want it, and we do as long as everything else goes ok. We may not pick him up this weekend because it's my birthday and we might not be home a lot which probably isn't the best weekend to bring a puppy home. They will be 12 weeks old next Friday which would be a good age. Here's some pictures of the two boys that might possible be our new addition to our family:

They look a lot alike, but we'd love to have either one of them. This lady seems like she really cares about the dogs and raises them in a loving home. That's all I want! Anyway, Casey is supposed to call her tomorrow to see if everything is ok and to double check that her friend only took one puppy. As big of a process as this is, I can't imagine how it's going to be when I have a child.

We don't have a whole lot going on this week. It's budget season at work. Whoo. Which means that everyday is a busy day. I've recently put in for a job that really interests me and I hope to hear something about an interview. I put in for it late last week, so I'll see if anything comes of that in the next couple of weeks. Casey's job is going well. I think we're both settled and used to a normal job routine after a year out of college. We both have changed our work schedules to 7-3:30. It sucks having to get up, but I enjoy being there before everyone else gets there and it's sooo nice to leave early. We have more time to do stuff in the afternoon which is also really nice.

On our housing situation, we discussed this a lot last night and we decided to hold off on house hunting and sign another 6 month lease. We've been month to month since February and searching for a home with a realtor since January. We really want to be in a home, but we have some other things we would like to take care of before we take that jump. We really needed to make that decision because we're overpaying each month to go month to month. I'm definitely ok with the decision we made. We love our apartment and we're pretty settled here. A lot of our good friends live in this complex and it's very convenient to all of the things we need and the pool is not a bad bonus in the summer either...

I'll post a couple of wedding photos from our pro shots and our video should be here this week. That should be entertaining.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wedding Pictures are here!

Finally! I got them on my lunchbreak on Monday which only gave me 20 minutes to go through 1,500 and some pictures. Needless to say, I didn't make a dent in my pictures and I managed to still be 10 minutes late for work during one of our busiest times of the year. I was very pleased with the amount of pictures, but the only thing I wasn't happy with was this big electrical pole that made an appearance in almost all of my family pictures. Casey promised me we could get it edited out, so I'm hoping that we can. We've been waiting for our pictures before we write our thank you notes because we wanted to send away for photo thank you cards. That's kind of bittersweet because I'm dreading writing all of those notes, but don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for all of our gifts. I'll post some pics later, my computer is busy uploading all of the images to Snapfish and it's taking fooooor e v. e. r.

In other news we've started the hunt for our first pet. If any of you know me, I don't do anything without researching it first. Our tv was researched by me and picked out by me and I'm not the one who spends the most time watching it. Casey just trusts that I do the research on anything that we buy so I guess that's good that he trusts me. Anyway, the point of the story is that I've been researching the breed of dog we would get for awhile now. When I say awhile, I mean 3 years I've wanted a shih tzu. We looked at them in the fall but decided that it wouldn't really be fair to a dog during the wedding planning process. Now we're actually ready to get one and for once in my life I can't think of a reason not to get a pet. The tough part is finding a breeder that I'm comfortable with. I would really like to rescue our next dog and hopefully I'll have better knowledge to deal with a rescue after we get our puppy. His informal name is Tuck, so hopefully we can bring him home soon.

The first breeder lady we went to visit had 14 (yes fourteen, and this does not include cats) dogs in her small ranch home. She seemed more concerned about getting the puppies out of her house instead of asking Casey and I about the kind of home we would be bringing the puppy into. I don't want to deal with someone who is just doing this for money and not looking into the homes they're giving their dogs to. She told us we would lose our 'pick' when we walked out the door, but that was perfectly fine with me. The puppy we looked at was adorable, but the puppy isn't everything and I really want to support someone who loves their dogs and cares about the homes they go into. We're currently talking to a lady from NC and she has two boys (which is what I want) but there's another lady coming to look at them. She may get one or two, but more than likely she will only get one. We get in contact with her again on Tuesday, so maybe I'll have some cute puppy pictures to show this time next week!

I'm going to end this post by introducing you to a friend of Casey's.

He despises this bird, it's actually a Christmas ornament. He told me how hideous he thought it was when we were in Pier One during an after sale. Of course I bought it without him seeing it after he told me that. Now it has a permanent residence on my dresser so that it can watch Casey at all times. At least once a week the bird somehow ends up on Casey's pillow (such as above) right before he's about to go to sleep. He threatens to break it and throw it out the window, but I think he secretly likes it. It's going to have the honorable spot of being in the middle of our Christmas tree this year if it doesn't get broken by then.


We usually make turnovers once a month and it involves buying refrigerated dough and fixings and just throwing them together. I'm getting ambitious and decided to make some homemade dough. You might be asking at this point what new toy caused me to be this ambitious. My new pizza stone. I tried a recipe for Emeril's basic pizza dough and it was good, but I still would like to try some more pizza dough recipes out. I felt like it was too floury (?) but Casey said that they were the best turnovers he'd ever had so you can be the judge. We added fresh sliced mozzarella, pepperonis, ham, and grated parmesean to the inside. I rubbed olive oil on the top to brown the crust and more fresh parmesean along with garlic bread seasoning and italian spices.

(Source: Emeril)
Servings: 2-4

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus more if necessary
Cornmeal for dusting

In large bowl combine yeast with water and sugar and stir well to combine. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add salt, olive oil, and half of the flour and mix well. Add all remainnig flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with hands, incorporate flour little by little. Dough should be sticky. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 minutes and up to 7 minutes if needed and add flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Or get your husband to punch it around for you when your arms get tired.

Transfer dough to oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil.

Cover with damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough into 2 portions (for two large turnovers or two 11 inch pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Tranfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to desired thickness. Transfer dough to pizza peel (or cutting board in my case) and sprinkle with cornmeal beforehand to help move the dough easier. Transfer to pizza stone and bake until golden brown. I baked around 15 minutes.

Teriyaki Grilled Porkchops

I found these porkchops on Annie's Eats. These were really really good and they were a big hit at dinner, the marinade had such a good flavor. I'll admit that I have a problem and never marinate the amount of time I'm supposed to. I marinate for an hour and then baste like a madwoman which is what I did this time. They still were really good. We're still in an apartment so I obviously don't have access to a grill, but we've been using our grill pan a lot lately and it does a great job. Excuse the awful picture. I remembered to take a picture halfway through dinner so what you see is Casey's plate with rice and salad after he had already eaten one of his porkchops. Oh well, you get the idea!

(Source: Annie's Eats)

4-6 Servings

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
¼ cup rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine (or 1 ½ tsp. dried ginger)
4-6 pork chops

For the marinade, combine all ingredients except pork chops in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Cool the marinade completely. Put the pork chops in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag, pressing out excess air. Allow chops to marinate, turning bag once or twice, at least 6 hours or up to overnight.

Pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Grill chops on an oiled rack, approximately 7-8 minutes per side, or until just cooked through, basting with marinade during last 5 minutes of cooking.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Slower Cooker Pulled Pork

I've been looking for a good excuse to use my new crockpot and I found a recipe for pulled pork which sounded fairly simple and looked pretty good and those are my two basic requirements for cooking. The barbeque sauce that I chose was Sweet Baby Rays. I stuck to the recipe besides a few minor things. I seasoned the pork with onion powder and salt and pepper but those were my only changes. Next time I think I'll brown the outside of the meat before I stick it in the crockpot. I doubled the recipe, so I had a ton left over, but it's even better heated up and I think it will freeze fairly well. I definitely plan on making this again

You'll notice a lot of my recipes are excuses to use new wedding presents. You'll also notice my new dinnerware I got to serve it on. I like showing off my new toys.

8 servings

1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle root beer
1 (18 ounce) bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve over hamburger buns.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was checking out the What's Cooking board looking for a recipe for dinner and I came across this recipe for supposedly the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I love sweets, so I decided to heat up leftover barbeque (recipe will be in my next post) and spend some quality time baking. The recipe was really easy and these really were the best chocolate chip cookies I'd ever had. Casey seemed to agree. This was also an excuse to use my new calphalon baking sheets and they were awesome.

(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)
Makes about 18 large cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

First Post

The more I thought about it, the more I wished I would've started a blog during the wedding planning process. Once it was over I wasn't really sure what to do with all of that extra time and money in my life (well at least time). I decided to go ahead and give it a shot and it'll be a pretty cool way to document our experience with pets, recipes that I try, home ownership, and ONE day... babies.

We're really not the most exciting people...

Sometimes we fight...

But we're happy together and really that's all that matters.. right?