10.28.2010

No longer eating alone

Good news! My roommate and his fiancee ate dinner with me on Tuesday night. I am not going to admit that the last few meals and treats I have cooked have all been just for me (don't worry....I didn't eat them all in one sitting), but let's just say that I enjoy making other people like me by cooking for them.

Secretly, I don't think they were planning on having dinner with me until Ipp woke up that morning and smelled the DELICIOUSNESS coming out of the crockpot that was already stewing with succulent chicken.

Cream Cheese Chicken - by Stephanie O'Dea

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or large thighs)
2 Tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 Tbsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 8-oz block of cream cheese

Put the chicken into the cooker. Combine the seasonings and sugar in a small dish and pour on top. Add the mushroom soup. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. Shred with two large forks, and mix in the cream cheese. Switch the cooker to high, and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese has fully melted. Serve over pasta.

I took a before picture, but was so excited to eat, I forgot to take an after picture so you'll have to use your really great imagination.











I served it with a green salad, asparagus with basalmic vinegar and goat cheese, and dinner rolls.











This was delicious. My roommate said he liked it even better than beef stroganoff which is just blasphemous, but quite a compliment.

10.27.2010

Sweet Treats

And now my sweet tooth has taken over.

First I made Lizzo's famous pumpkin cookies. Seriously, so good. I am not even going to be humble. These were AMAZING cookies. Even ask my staff...cause I shared.











Then I decided to make another drink in my crockpot. This time..........

PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA

3 cups nonfat dry milk [wanna know a secret? i didn't see the DRY part on this sentence when i first read it....so my batch was SUPER rich...you MIGHT want to make the same mistake]
1 cup confectioner's sugar [known as powdered to the common human]
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
7 cups water

Combine the dry ingredients in the stoneware and stir with a spoon. Squeeze in the chocolate syrup, and add the peppermint extract. Add water a cup at a time (this is also were I started adding milk, one cup at a time) - and stir well. The chocolate mixture will be bubbly and look powdery. It's okay - Stephanie promises it will cook together. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until completely hot. Serve with marshmallows and candy canes (if you want to be super cute).

I promise that soon (but not quite yet) I will talk about something other than food.

10.26.2010

Life is fragile

I don't think I could articulate it better than Robin.

I miss you Paris.
Your laugh, your wisdom, your guy advice, your positive outlook on everything. May we all remember to live our lives with a little more of your spirit.
Love,
Nicole

10.24.2010

Asparagus

I love asparagus. like, a lot. i have no idea why. but i could eat that vegetable at every meal.














so, i thought to myself, self....you might enjoy a good "cream of asparagus soup"! so here is another crockpot recipe from stephanie o'dea.

1 1/5 pounds asparagus
1/2 white onions, chopped
1 medium white potato, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup half and half (this is optional, but let's be honest...why would you not use it??)
kosher salt

Wash and trim the woody ends of the asparagus, and cut the rest into 2-inch lengths. Add them to the crock pot, along with onion and potato; no need to peel. Pour in the broth and add the seasoned salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours, or on high for 3 to 5 hours. The soup is ready when the potatoes are tender. Carefully use a handheld immersion blender to soupify (but, really, WHO has one of these) so, go all MacGyver in your kitchen by blending the soup in batches in your traditional blender. When you are done return the soup to the crock, stir in the half and half and make sure it is heated through again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

BEFORE











AFTER











This soup is very asparagusy (what??? i know, shocker). but it does lack any real flavor other than that. kind of bland. i enjoyed it, and i am glad i made it once just to try it, but i don't think it's a recipe i'll be adding to my book of delicious treats and tricks.

10.23.2010

PUMPKIN!

What I love most about fall are
...the decoration
....the smells
.....the meals!

fall is one of my favorite times to cook.

but on this lazy, chilly, cloudy saturday afternoon what I decided to try for the first time was a pumpkin spice latte in my CROCK POT!! glorious. if you have never heard of stephanie o'dea you NEED to know her. especially if you love your crock pot as much as i do. look her up here.

this is her amazing recipe and it is delcious.

3/4 cup strong coffee
2 cups milk (i used skim)
2 tbsp canned pureed pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Add coffee and milk to your crockpot. Whist in pumpkin, spices, sugar and vanilla. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Whisk again .Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon. You can add a cinnamon stick to be FANCY! The recipe serves two so be sure to double or triple it if you are having people over or like to drink your body weight, like me :)











see....don't i look HAPPY!

10.22.2010

10.21.2010

Another little foodie post

A friend of mine, Tammi, has passed on some of her wonderful food magazines to me. Tonight I decided to try the "Beef Sirloin Tips with Smoky Pepper Sauce" from Better Homes and Gardens October 2010 edition.

Here is the dish

















1.5 lbs. beef sirloin tip steak
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika or paprika (I thought I had this at home, but turns out I didn't [oops!!] so I used cayenne pepper)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 12-16 oz. jar roasted red and/or yellow sweet peppers
1/2 cup hickory or mesquite flavored BBQ sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh italian flat-leaf) parsley

1. Trim meat and cut into 1-1.5 inch chunks; sprinkle with paprika. In 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add meat; brown 5 minutes or to desired doneness. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, drain roasted red peppers, reserving liquid. Cut up roasted peppers. Measure 1.5 cup of the reserved liquid (if needed, add enough water to equal 1/2 cup). Add peppers and liquid to skillet. Add barbecue sauce. Cook uncovered, 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until sauce is slightly thickened. Return meat to skillet; heat through.

3. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings. Each Serving 367 calories, 18 g of fat, 111 mg chol, 510 mg sodium, 13 g carbo, 2 g fiber, 36 g pro.

















Shhhh, don't tell, but I added some asparagus. I think it added some nice flavor, color, and a delicate crunch.

I complimented the meal with a little Pinot Noir and some mixed greens with grapes (topped with creamy balsamic vinaigrette.)

YUM!!!!!! You should give it a try. I give it 3.7 out of 5 stars [I have NO idea what that is based on]. It was super easy and really tasty!

Happy eating.

10.15.2010

Chance

I am on my second cup of coffee at 9:30a.
I have been completely tired this week.
This morning I set the alarm for 6am as usual, hit snooze three times.
....then reset it for 7am - and hit snooze three times again.
Do you ever have weeks like that?

On a happy note - E came over last night and we watched "Temple Grandin" - SUCH a good movie. If you have not seen it yet you should. So moving.What a motivating story.

The question/word I am pondering at the moment is CHANCE. How much do you let life dictate itself - taking you where it will and being a willing participant in all of the twists and turns that it brings, and how much do you will it to go where you want it to? Taking chances that scare you and make you hesitant and that you have NO IDEA how it will turn out? I've been thinking a lot lately about love and relationships and....Nepal.

Throughout a lot of my life I have just let relationships develop as they will, not invested a lot of myself into them, perhaps because I am used to being a bit transitional - having people that move in and out of my life. I tell people that are in my life now that "I don't say goodbye" - and it's true. I'm not good at it - and I think I offend people becuase of my lack of emotion. But I've been thinking lately that I have three of the most phenomenal women I have ever met in my life right now - surrounding me - investing in me. And that's something I want to take a chance on - invest in - pursue. Who knows, maybe something really deep and meaningful could come out of that. I don't always like being vulnerable, but as I have begun to open myself up and share the embarrassing or vulnerable things with them - they have also opened up more and the love and grace I have received in return has already been amazingly transformative.

Love is something that has never come easy to me. And perhaps it never will. Running? That comes easy. But what is especially hard is when you care a lot for someone that lives half way across the country....and you hate phones more than most things in life. Moving doesn't quite seem an option. So you wait for life to make more sense.

Nepal is perhaps what occupies most of my minds time. Potential opportunities present themselves - and they are EXACTLY what I have wanted to do with my life, in the country that I love more than life itself. But then the logical questions of finances, language barrier, abilities, etc. pop into my head and the opportunity seems unattainable -- or a bit more foolish to chase after.

When do you let go of logic and logistics and just take a chance? When do you decide you don't watn to follow life anymore but make your life follow you? And how do you know you're making smart choices?

I don't necessarily think there are any right answers to those. But...they are the pondering thoughts of the day.For now I am going to go camping with my girlfriends, enjoy some concerts and save the decisions for another day...