Friday, August 28, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Pasta

I made this one awhile ago, but Nate & I both loved it!

Creamy Chicken And Pasta
(Yet again from Taste of Home... I love their magazines)

(If it looks funny, that's because I exported it from my RecipeManager, and am too lazy to mess with it much. That's why I exported it, rather than re-typing it all.) :)

2 Cup uncooked penne pasta
1 1/2 Cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Cup sliced green onion (or regular, finely chopped)
2 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup white wine/chicken broth
1 Teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose flour
1/3 Cup Water
1 Cup heavy whipping cream
2 Cup cubed cooked chicken
2 Tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Pepper
shredded parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onions in butter for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add wine or broth and garlic. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
2. Combine flour and water until smooth; gradually add to mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until heated through.
3. Drain pasta. Add the pasta, chicken, capers, salt, and pepper to cream sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

The original recipe called for 2 cups, but that was going to be WAY too much. As it was, I am adding less mushrooms the next time I make it, and I suggest you do too. I like mushrooms (well... fresh mushrooms), but they overpower the other flavors in this recipe.
Also, no capers or shredded parmesan... couldn't find the capers, and I used the regular parmesan I have in the fridge. :)

We LOVED this recipe! Very yummy... It was very creamy, and the combination of mushrooms, chicken, and pasta is always delightful. Reheats pretty well, which is great when you are always cooking to have leftovers! :)

As always, comments are love. :) Let me know if you try it!

10-Minute Zesty Salsa

Well, I tried this new salsa recipe for Nate a couple days ago (before we went camping). Apparently, it's a little too zesty. Not so much that he is throwing it away, but enough that he is only eating a little at a time. He likes it, though. "It's very spicy, has a strong onion & jalapeno flavor."

Personally, I think salsa is pretty gross to begin with, but it's something he loves. So, here I am trying to find/adjust the perfect salsa recipe for my hubby.

Hey, we do worse things for our husbands, right? :)

Onto the recipe....

10 Minute Zesty Salsa Recipe

(From a Taste of Home Cookbook)

1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes & green chillies, undrained (I did drain mine... Nate doesn't like his salsa very soupy)
1 tbsp seeded chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp chopped red onion
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro (I used dried...1 tsp, I believe)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
dash salt
dash pepper
tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until serving. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups

If you try it, leave a comment with what you think of it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dream Thief -- Another Book Review

The Dream Thief by Shana Abe

First of all, let me say that I read this book on the plane back home from Colorado. Less than 3 hours.

Second, let me say that neither Nathan nor I realized this was a romance book. It was labeled as 'sci-fi' at our library... and I was pretty surprised to discover it was very romance-y, and kinda graphic. (I would not recommend it for kiddos - some descriptions were a little much.)


The drakon, the dragon-people, have sent a master thief to steal back the one thing that can be used to control them: the Draumr. This diamond can be used to control any drakon, and could be deadly if in the hands of the wrong person. So the Alpha and his wife send Zane to steal it from whomever has it, without telling him exactly what he is obtaining. Along the way, he discovers help from an unlikely source - Lia, the daughter of the very drakon who sent him to steal it. However, she is hiding many secrets...

My Review
This was an incredibly easy read, but I did enjoy it. I would recommend it if you are looking for an easy to read sci fi book, but not if you are looking for something to challenge you. The characters were well-developed, and very believable. The plot was interesting...and fairly suspenseful at times. The ending shocked me, too--I was expecting it to a certain point, and then there was a twist that I did not expect! It was a good twist, though-I liked it. :)

The mythology behind the story is fascinating. I'm partial to books about dragons, though. :)

I should say too, that Nathan never did read the book. He originally checked it out, planning on reading it, but he couldn't get into it. I didn't have anything else to read, so I didn't let myself put it down. (I am terrified of flying, so I needed something -anything- that would distract me until I could get a glass of wine on the flight. hehe) There were a few boring parts, but I don't think I would have set it aside even if I hadn't been on the flight.

I am the type of person who hates to not finish a book, though. Just FYI. :)

I am reading the next book in the series, also... curious on what happens. I don't think it's necessary; the ending of The Dream Thief was satisfactory. I'm just curious. :) And since I appeared to skip a book, I might go back and read that later...

Warning Note:
While it is not a smutty romance novel, it is a romance novel. I wouldn't recommend it to a middle school person.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back from Vacation! Book Review 1...

Well, I'm back from our fantastic trip to Colorado!! Pictures will be uploaded later at some point... I'm arguing with Facebook right now about them, and don't really want to mess with it on here too! :(
I read three books over vacation, though! The last one was just on the flight home... super easy read!

Book one: The Honorable Imposter
First, I read The Honorable Imposter by Gilbert Morris. I am a big fan of the series that he and his daughter Lynn wrote, Cheney Duvall, M.D. This book is the first in a LARGE series, The House of Winslow.

The book occurs during the era of the Mayflower. It focuses on Gilbert Winslow (gee, I wonder where they got the name...) and his endeavor of spying on the Separatists. This is going on when those who separate from the church of England are looked down upon greatly, and sometimes considered traitors to the Crown. However, as the title implies, Gilbert has some qualms about the idea of being a spy...
The book takes him from the beginning when he is offered the spy position and wealth, to the end when... I'll let you read to find out. (But if you want to know, I have no problems with telling people-just no posting it on here!) :)

Overall, it has the same flaws that I find in the Duvall series. The transformations when people find Christ are a little TOO dramatic, and some of the characters lack depth.
That being said, I do love these books. :) I think I started to read this series before, but couldn't get into it. I definitely could this time... and had a hard time putting it down! The plot was fascinating, and I really enjoyed (most of) the characters. In typical Morris style, the ending is fairly predictable. Not a very complicated read, but not a mindless read either.

The other book reviews will be posted as I write them... :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A very girly day

Even though I am on vacation, I feel very accomplished today! I finished my new purse in the morning... (which was started, and almost finished, last night)

I made my husband his favorite snack...

(Herbed Wheat Muffins, recipe below)

I made a new dish for dinner, which was more successful than last night's dinner...

(Gnocchi Alfredo, recipe & commentary below)

And I made a set of jewelry!

My first ever... not the most beautiful, but I was pretty proud of it. :)

Herbed Wheat Muffins

Nathan ADORES these... normally I make a double batch, but I just made one batch this time. It makes 6 really big muffins, or 12 kinda small ones.

3/4 Cup whole wheat flour
2/3 Cup all-Purpose flour
1/4 Cup yellow cornmeal
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoon egg, beaten
2/3 Cup Buttermilk
2 Tablespoon Honey
1/2 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon dried tarragon
2 Tablespoon butter, melted

Instructions: In a small bowl, combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Combine the egg, buttermilk, honey, and butter; stir into dry ingredients until just moist. Fold in basil & tarragon.
Coat muffin cups with cooking spray, fill 3/4 full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

(Note: I never actually buy buttermilk... in the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook, there's a handy trick at the back for this. Combine 1 teaspoon vinegar and enough milk to make one cup, wait 5 minutes, and you have buttermilk. SO much cheaper! And easier, because I always have milk & vinegar on hand.)

Gnocchi Alfredo

First of all, I've never had gnocchi before. While this wasn't a failure, I won't be making it again. Neither Nate nor I was very fond of the gnocchi... too starch-y.

2 pounds frozen potato gnocchi
3 Tablespoon butter, divided
1 Tablespoon Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoon Flour
1 1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup grated parmesan cheese
Dash ground nutmeg
1/2 Pound sliced baby portobella mushroom
minced fresh parsley, optional

Instructions: Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in cheese and nutmeg until blended. Keep warm.
Drain gnocchi. In a large heavy skillet, cook remaining butter over medium heat until golden brown. Do not burn. Add mushrooms and gnocchi. Cook and stir 4-5 minutes or until gnocchi are lightly browned and mushrooms are tender. Serve with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

I actually played with the recipe for the first time on this... I usually don't! A few things weren't looking right though, so I adjusted them.
-I added extra butter, I wasn't pleased with how the flour/butter mixture was looking, and the gnocchi/mushroom mix was sticking to the pan.
-We also cut the amount of mushrooms in half because seemed too strong--didn't need to, though.
The sauce was slightly a disappointment too, but that was my own fault. I let it thicken too much... so if you try this, don't let it thicken too much! (It looks lumpy in the picture, but I think that's because I made it took thick. Oh well.)

Overall... it felt very productive!

It's so wonderful to be home with my hubby all day... I love this, too bad we are going back to real life in a few short weeks!

As always, feel free to leave a comment with your take on the recipes, or whatever!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Failed dinner... but Cheesy Bread Delights

Well, dinner tonight was a confirmed failure. No, I didn't burn anything, spill anything, etc. It just tasted like stuffing. Soggy stuffing.

I hate stuffing. Really, really hate it. Largely because I've had some very soggy stuffing before... not a good experience.
So to have this dinner, which I have really been looking forward to, taste like soggy stuffing, made me pretty sad. I followed the recipe word for word, so maybe it is supposed to taste like this. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Oh well, we ate the non-soggy-stuffing parts, and had the Cheesy Bread Delights. :)

Cheesy Bread Delights

(Note: I never actually measure anything when I make these, so everything is approximate!)
1/2 loaf french bread, sliced (approximately 1 1/2" thick)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried herb/seasoning of your choice (today was something meant for dipping with olive oil... not sure what is in it)
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese (or any other cheese)

Preheat oven to 350.
Place sliced bread on an ungreased baking sheet. Combine the olive oil and herbs in a bowl; spread lightly over bread. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Obviously, this isn't a hard recipe. I don't know where I got the original recipe, but I play with it every time I make it. Nate & I both love it, it's fun trying different seasonings and cheeses!
Sometime, I will try to actually measure how much of everything I use. We'll see if I ever remember... :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hello, and Skillet Chicken & Veggies

So I keep procrastinating on actually starting this blog... "I want to have a blog, I don't want to have a blog, I want to share my recipes, I don't want to do the one thing EVERYONE is doing..." you get the point.
Well, I finally decided I would.
(Really, I decided that I would last week, but as the nice people at the Apple store were fixing my computer, it couldn't happen until today.)

This is basically my place to talk about what is going on in life, share about the recent books I've read, and share the recipes I've tried recently. I love reading, and I love cooking, so I'm sure there will be lots to share.

Feel free to leave comments... especially if you have a book/recipe to share!

So, onto our recent recipes!

A couple weeks ago, we tried this great one from Taste of Home's Comfort Food book. The finished product looks kinds gross, but it tastes AMAZING. :)

Skillet Chicken & Veggies

1 package (7 oz) Spaghetti
1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 large garlic clove
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1/2 Pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium Zucchini, julienned
1 Medium onion, chopped
1/2 Medium green pepper, chopped
1/2 Medium summer squash, julienned
3/4 Cup mayonnaise
4 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, divided

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the chicken, garlic, and basil in oil for 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is tender. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, onion, and pepper. Cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until chicken juices run clear and vegetables are crisp-tender.

Stir the mayo and 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese into chicken mixture. Drain spaghetti; top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

We liked the recipe... will definitely make this one again! I made some changes to the original recipe (the changes are reflected here). I am not a fan of red pepper, so I substituted that for summer squash... much better! Almost any veggies could be used here.

The best part about this recipe was the summer squash & zucchini... I LOVE both of them!! Nate is not as fond of them fried as I am, so this was a great way to have them without Nate thinking "not again!" We used to get them a lot from my parents/grandparents garden, but since we are living so far away, I had to buy them from Meijer. Because those & the green pepper were on sale the week I made this, it was all very reasonably priced! (Everything else I buy when it is on sale... :) )

More as I get our recent recipes added to my Recipe Manager!