Monday, October 31, 2011

Dog Cheating & Creamy Chicken Casserole

Greta is driving me nuts!  She has been jumping and sniffing on me since I walked in the door.  Why? Because I spent the last few hours "cheating on her".  Well, at least that's how she makes me feel when I've been around another dog.  She met me at the door, waggin' her nub of tail, like always.  Almost immediately she gets this odd look in her eyes; a sad, depressed kind of look.  Then the sniffing and jumping craze starts, almost like she's questioning me: "Where have you been? Who have you been with? Who were you petting, is she cuter than me?"

Some friends of ours had a baby a few weeks ago-Hudson.  I took them dinner Friday evening and spent a few hours holding the baby, eating dinner, and talking.  They have a dog, Sadie.  She's a total cutie and Greta smelled her the second I walked in the door.  She doesn't take kindly to me walking in with another dog's scent.  I can't blame her.  Although Sadie is super cute, she's not as sweet and pretty as my baby and neither hold a candle to baby Hudson.  He was just the sweetest little thing! Check out Lauren's blog to see her bundle of joy.
 
I took my friends this chicken casserole, along with mashed potatoes, corn, and chocolate chip cookies. I've made this chicken casserole several times and it's great.  Not only is it tasty, it travels well and is great the next day.  I really enjoy cooking for myself and my husband but nothing gives me more pleasure than cooking for others.  It's so rewarding to take someone food and have them not just appreciate the dinner but truly enjoy the food.  That being said, there is nothing more sad than having your puppy child look at you with disappointed eyes because you came home from loving on another canine. 

Creamy Chicken Casserole
Printable Recipe 
 
Ingredients:

4 or 5 chicken breast
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can milk*
1 stick butter, melted
1 package Stove top dressing (chicken)
1 can chicken broth

Directions:

Cook chicken breast in crockpot with 1 can broth, salt, pepper, and a little butter on low for 6-7 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chicken in a 9x13 casserole/baking dish and shred with fork. 

Mix the broth from crockpot with a stick of melted butter, set aside.

Mix soup and milk (measure milk in one of the cream of chicken soup cans) and pour over chicken.

Top with dry dressing then pour broth/butter mixture on top.

Bake casserole, uncovered for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.


I hope ya'll have a blessed week :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

 My love for all things pumpkin continues...
I don't know if I've shared this but Stephen doesn't like pumpkin, AT ALL! Although this breaks my heart in one way, it also makes me happy because that means for pumpkin cinnamon rolls for me! :) The downside is that he complains that I make too many pumpkin dishes and he doesn't get anything because he doesn't like pumpkin.  Tough luck, buddy! 

The original recipe is vegan and I had never made anything vegan before.  When I saw this over at Eat, Live, Run I knew this was going to be my first ever vegan dish.  I was wrong :(  I didn't have the vegan butter substitute and I had just went to the grocery that evening and wasn't about to go back.  Besides, I'm not a vegan so I didn't feel bad about using regular butter.  If you want to do this vegan, just use a vegan buttery spread. 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Printable Recipe
Source: Eat, Live, Run

Yield: 8 or 9 rolls

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup almond milk or regular milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ginger

Filling:

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp cinnamon

Glaze:

1 cup powder sugar
1 tbsp almond or regular milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Heat milk and butter in a small sauce pan, over low heat.  Heat until butter is melted and milk is warm to the touch. 

Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast into the mixture, stir to dissolve and let sit 5 minutes. Make sure your milk is only warm and not hot or it will kill the yeast.

Whisk flour, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and sugar together in a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer.

Add pumpkin to flour mixture and pour in yeast. 

Knead dough by hand 10 minutes or if using a stand mixer, knead with dough hook about 6 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a dish towel.  Sit bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise 1 hour and 15 minutes.

While dough is rising, make the filling by mixing butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Remove dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle.

Spread filling over dough, leaving a 1-inch boarder around all four sides.

Gently roll the dough into a log and slice into 1/2 inch slices with a sharp knife.

Place rolls into a greased 9-inch cake pan or pie plate. 

Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place 45 minutes.*

Cook rolls in a 350 degrees F preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow rolls to cool & make glaze.

Mix powder sugar, milk, and vanilla extract and pour over rolls.

*If you don't want to bake the rolls right away, cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator until ready to bake.  You can bake them straight from the fridge, you don't need to let them come to room temperature.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kentucky Food Blogger Inaugural Dinner

I'm 4th from the right, kinda' hidden in the back there, you can barely see my little head :)
When I first started blogging it was mainly just to keep track of my recipes and I had a small hope of having a few readers that were not family; I also hoped to encourage those readers to get in the kitchen and cook.  I never thought I would become part of a blogging group and get asked to go to blogging events, especially since I've only been blogging about eight months.  I knew I wasn't the only food blogger around my area, but I had no idea how many there truly were.  It's refreshing that other bloggers are so encouraging and helpful to new-comers like myself.  In the competitive world we live in, it seems so uncommon that people would want to "help the competition".  Getting to know other bloggers and building friendships has become my favorite part of the blogging process!

A few weeks ago, I attended my first blogging event: The Kentucky Food Blogger Inaugural Dinner.  Although I have enjoyed meeting other bloggers online, attending the Kentucky Food Blogger Inaugural Dinner, was by far the highlight of my blogging "career".  Actually meeting other food bloggers face to face was amazing and we had such an amazing dinner that Alltech and Jonathan's at Gratz Park sponsored for us.

A few of us met downtown at the Big Blue Martini before heading over to Jonathan's for dinner.  Although our Kentucky Food Blogger group has over 60 members now, only a few of us were able to attend the dinner.  I tried to take some pictures of our amazing meal but I didn't capture the beauty of each dish.



Kentucky Food Blogger Inaugural Dinner Menu

· Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale Beer Cheese on Fried Cornbread (I didn't get a pictures of this)



· Pearse Lyons Reserve – Molasses Marinated Alltech Angus Flank Steak with Arugula & Crispy Sweet Potatoes:
· Shrimp Corn Dogs, Kentucky Ale Beer Battered Fried Shrimp with Hot Mustard:
· Grilled Alltech Angus Ribeye with Horseradish Creamed Collard Greens (I didn't get a picture of this)

· Bluegrass Sundown Chocolate Pot Pie with Jonathan’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:

The whole dinner was amazing! Everything was tasty but my favorite was the Shrimp Corn Dog! WOW, for something that may not sound fancy or sophisticated, the shrimp corn dog was great and the hot mustard dipping sauce was to die for. I'm salivating just thinking about it.  NO LIE!  I'm definitely making those sometime.  The Angus ribeye topped with creamed collard greens was cooked to perfection and practically melted in my mouth.  Cap the night off with the chocolate pot pie...WOW! I was a stuffed little piglet.

Not only did I get to indulge in this decadent meal, we each received one of Jonathan's cookbooks, signed by Jonathan. I can't wait to make some of his yummy recipes! Lori and Mindy worked so hard at getting this event put together and also contacting local businesses to donate door prizes and items for a swag bag that each attendee received.
 The items in my saw bag were from:
Alltech
Bourbon Barrel Foods
Bauer's Candies
Herb'N Renewal
Weisenberger Mill
Whole Foods Lexington
Howard's Creek Authentic Beer Cheese
Elmwood Inn
Holly Hill Inn



Disclosure: The foods and products reviewed in this post were given to me free of charge. I was under no obligation to post about them and received no compensation for doing so.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pimento Cheese

A southern favorite and one of mine: Pimento Cheese.  This is yet another item I can add to the Steve conversion list.  He sore he did not like pimento cheese and yet he changed his mind after trying mine.  I didn't understand why he thought he didn't like pimento cheese because it's just cheese, which he loves, mayo. and some pimentos.  He tried it and loves it now. Success :)

I enjoy a good ole' pimento cheese sandwich from time to time but it's really my favorite on a saltine cracker.  I'm tellin' ya', it's the simple things that make me the happiest.  I've tried several store bought brands and made about 3 different recipes and this one is my favorite.  Probably because I really like a good sharp cheese instead of the Velveeta variety. You can always change the cheeses to suite your taste though.


Pimento Cheese
Printable Recipe
Source: Paula Deen's Kitchen Classics

Ingredients:

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 jar pimentos
1/4 cup mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Directions:

Combine cheeses and pimentos (with juice) and mix well. 

Add in mayonnaise and mix until well combined.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Cover and put in refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Keep in air-tight container in refrigerator.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anniversary & Birthdays

 
Today is my 2 year anniversary.  Sometimes it seems like we've been married longer than two years and other times it feels like yesterday. Does that makes sense? I know we haven't been married that long but I feel like we've been through a lot together already.  I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else and I can't imagine Stephen not being in my life. He's truly the best husband and friend I could ask for.  No one's perfect, but he's perfect for me :)
I wish I had  better photos to share of my wedding but I don't have them on the computer.  So, these snap shots will have to do :)  I can't wait until 30 years from now when our children can look back at these pictures and make fun of my dress and hair styles. HAHA, won't that be fun? 

I don't know if I have ever talked about my brother on my blog, he doesn't read it so I probably haven't mentioned him before.  He's 6 years older than me and my only sibling and his 32nd birthday is tomorrow! HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICHOLAS!
This is a terrible photo of me but it's the only picture I have of the two of us on my computer, so ya' know...

I promise to have some food posts this week and hopefully a picture of my nephew that is due to arrive soon :)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Completed Patio



My patio is complete! We Steve still has some landscaping around the patio to finish up but the patio itself is done and I LOVE IT! I have said it before but I really do have the best husband in the world.  He has worked countless hours, literally, I cannot tell you how long it took him to complete this project and did it all 100% by himself.  I cannot believe he knows how to do these things so well, it's truly incredible.
the dark looking pavers are just wet
We still have to put sod back behind those boulders that are acting as the retaining wall and I'm not sure what else Steve has planned.
 My table will go in the center of the circle, hopefully one day we will upgrade to a larger table but for now my little bistro-size will have to do.

Here are some pictures of the process:

close up of the pattern

just getting started

the circle takes shape


detail work


Steve only has 9 fingers now


Greta doing her final inspection, it passed


laying sod

There is still a little work to be done but I'm thrilled with the results :)


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

White Chili on a Bad Day


Sunday evening I decided I would take our water bill and drop it off downtown.  First off, if you know where I live you're laughing because "downtown" is not really what most consider downtown.  Anyway, it's about 9:45 PM, I hit the garage door opener and put my car in reverse.

BAM! 

I backed my car into my husband's truck.  Yup, that new car I just got in March. Yes, the one my husband won't allow me to take to the car wash because he worries about scratches.  Busted my bumper so now I get to spend all day Friday taking it to have an estimate and probably crying when I see what that's going to cost. :( The worst part: Steve didn't get mad or yell at me! For some reason, that's made me feel worse than the fact that I backed my car into his! Geez!

So, what does one do when you've had a bad day? Make chili of course! I woke up Monday morning and got out my crockpot and decided the rest of my week would be good. I wasn't too encouraged when I tripped walking into work and almost face planted :) It's just been one of those weeks for me.

However, white chili is always comforting and this is one of my favorite fall dishes.  It's so tasty and easy.  I'm sure by now you know that "easy" meals are a common theme around my kitchen.  Since I work a full time job and my husband doesn't get off at the same time every night it's not always doable to make a big fancy, time-consuming meal.  I'm tellin' ya, the crockpot is a working woman/man's best friend!
The first time I had this chili we were eating over at one of Steve's friend's house.  I had NEVER had chicken chili before and I was a little worried I wouldn't like it.  Naturally, I only put a very small amount in my bowl so if I didn't like it I could just say I wasn't all that hungry. I think I had three bowls! It was so yummy and I've been making it ever since.

Another thing I love about this chili (and soups in general) is that it's great re-heated and a great lunch for me to take to work.  It's hardy, filling, tasty, and only takes a few minutes in the microwave and tastes just as good as the first day I made it.

White Chili
Printable Recipe 

Ingredients:

4 chicken breast, shredded*
2 cans Great Northern Beans (15.5 oz each), drained
1 can white corn (15 oz), drained**
1 can green chili peppers (4 oz)
1 can chicken broth, low sodium (15 oz)
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz)
salt & pepper

Directions:

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Add salt & pepper to taste

*I put my chicken breast in whole and then shred them after cooking 6-8 and add them back into chili.
**I used regular yellow corn because I didn't have the white corn

Serve in a bowl and sprinkle some cheese on top :)


And in case you didn't already know, make sure you look before backing out of your garage, I wouldn't want you to back into someone and feel like an idiot because that's how I'm feeling. Hope you're having a good week!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cold Brewed Ice Coffee

I've only been a coffee drinker for 4 or 5 years.  It wasn't until college that I really started enjoying a nice cup of hot coffee and it's only been in the last year that I rely on a cup every morning to jump-start my day.  My mom's a huge coffee lover but it was Starbucks that got me hooked. I know it's cliche but it's the truth.
It all started with what's now my favorite drink: Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I have shared with you my love of all things pumpkin and a pumpkin spice latte is no exception.  It's by far my favorite drink and what got me started loving coffee.  While in college we had a few Starbucks on campus.  I found myself frequenting the one in our student center almost every morning from Oct. to Jan. when the Pumpkin Spice Latte was available.  Once it was gone, I started bringing my own regular coffee in a thermos almost everyday. And I quickly realized that although I loved a latte I also really enjoyed a regular cup of coffee as well.

The idea of cold coffee was never appealing to me until I got a Frappuccino one day.  It was during the summer and I'm pretty sure it was in the 90's but I was craving coffee.  There was NO WAY I was going into Starbucks and ordering a hot cup with sweat dripping off me from the short walk from my car into the cafe.  It started with a frappuccino and quickly I was determined to make my own iced coffee.  While I still enjoy Starbucks, it's not in my budget to go there everyday or even once a week really.  Since I'm not in college, there isn't one close to me, which is a good thing.

I have tried about four different ice coffee recipes and this one I found at Take A Megabite is my favorite so far.  Why is it my favorite? It's simple and only calls for coffee, water, milk (heavy cream in my case) and I add chocolate syrup and a little sugar.  I always have these ingredients on hand so it's budget friendly :) I don't like my coffee really strong so this recipe works for me but you can tweak it as you see fit. 

Cold Brewed Ice Coffee
Original Source: Smitten Kitchen 
Found on: Take A Megabite

Ingredients:

1/3 cup ground coffee (I buy whole bean and grind it myself)
1 1/2 cups water
heavy cream or milk
chocolate syrup
sugar

Directions:

Mix ground coffee and water, cover and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

Strain coffee twice with a fine mesh sieve that's been lined with cheesecloth or you can use a coffee filter. 

Fill your glass half full with ice and pour in coffee, heavy cream/half&half/milk, and a few tablespoons of chocolate syrup and sugar if desired.

Sip and ENJOY!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Patio Update 2

Our patio is still in process but Steve got a lot done this past Sunday.  We were hoping to have more completed but of course the weather did not cooperate last week, which means Steve had to work on Saturday and was only able to work on our patio Sunday.  And he worked ALL day, 8:00AM-8:00PM! He's just the best, honestly he is! However, he can't get all the credit, Greta supervised all day :) HA!
Greta, Queen of the world.
My poor yard is all torn up :(
Steve worked all day to install the boulders that will outline our patio.  These bad boys are upwards of 600lbs so they won't be moving once they're in :) We had planned to have two stone steps going from the patio up to the yard but this did not work out and Steve had to make other plans.  I'm still happy with the results.
making sure everything is level
moving what was going to be a step
figuring out the steps aren't going to work because they aren't deep enough
the middle rock is where the steps were going to go
Our poor puppy thinks she should be right under you (literally) with everything you're doing.  Although this was cute the first 3 weeks we had her now that she's 60lbs it's just hazardous-I've fallen over her many times.  But she's just so cute :)
Greta likes to supervise closely, too closely ;)
All my boulders are in
It may not look like Steve got a lot done but even I didn't realize how much goes into placing just one boulder, and we have 10! Wednesday evening Steve brought home some of the pavers.  We spent about an hour or so unloading these.  I'm realizing just how hard my husband works on a daily basis. I had to take a break in between pallets and my hands were sore the next day and all tore up from the concrete.  It's a small price to pay, when my patio is done even if it's snowing I'm going to be eating out there!
This weekend Steve has to get the sand that goes under the pavers put in, leveled out and then he can lay the pavers.  I'm not sure what we are going to do with Greta yet.  She can't be out there in the sand once he's got it level or it will ruin everything and she will not stay inside knowing her daddy is outside.  She will tare the door down and whine all day to get out-this is not an exaggeration :)

I cannot wait to show you the finished product, the fruits of Steve's labor :)  Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Got Any Tots?

Is there anything better than a good ole hot dog and a side of tots?  Sometimes it's the simpler things that make me smile.  I've been wanting to make tater tots for awhile but just hadn't gotten around to it.  Steve had been working late on our patio project one evening and I hadn't really planned dinner....then a light bulb went off and I thought of these crispy golden treats.
I found these on Can You Stay for Dinner, and while mine are a bit more "rustic" looking, I think they were equally as tasty.  I was in a hurry and didn't have the time to really mold my tots into perfect little logs before frying, but I kinda like my oddly shaped tots...don't you? They accompany a grilled hot dog just beautifully :)


Tater Tots
printable recipe
Source: Can You Stay for Dinner 
 
Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes  (finely grated and dried)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

Mix the potatoes, flour, salt and pepper.  Then form into 1” logs.

Heat oil in a large pot until it's so hot that dripping a drop of water on the surface immediately sizzles and spatters.

Fry tots in batches until all sides are golden brown.

Serve with mustard & ketchup, alongside some grilled hot dogs! YUMMY

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