Round Up Post

Hi Y’all!

It’s been a really long time since I posted to this blog. If you look at my last blog post, you can see I didn’t carry out that resolution very well.

I’ve got a good excuse, I promise. I’ve been in graduate school. I’m ready to graduate this May, wahoo! I promise you haven’t missed much. You see, while I’ve been in school I haven’t had much time at all to cook. And when I have had time to cook, all I’ve been able to do is take a hasty iPhone photo of it.

I stopped blogging quite a while ago when my got life so busy I could barely keep clean underwear in my house. That’s the best way I can think to describe going to graduate school. It’s like someone hits the fast forward button on your life so you barely have time to do your laundry or vacuum behind the refrigerator, but simultaneously it feels like someone else hit the pause button because it is the looooongest couple years of your life. I had someone say to me a few weeks ago: “Well it was your choice to go back to school!” I’m not saying I didn’t sign up for it. I definitely did. But there is no way I truly understood what I was getting myself into before I was already knee deep in it.

It bums me out big time that I haven’t had much time to do is to cook like I used too. It’s one of the best forms of stress relief for me. But it was the thing that had to give. M started a new job last year that requires him to travel four days out of the week, so most days I’m fending for myself anyway.

As another form of stress relief, I’ve kept my toes in the shallow end of the blogging world by reading this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and that. Haven’t hand time to comment on anything, but I’ve been reading them all religiously!

I’m starting to come out of the fog now. I’ll be done by May 13!! (Woo hoo-hallelujah- jimney-crickets!) Aside from having that degree in hand, I’m looking forward to joining the real world that keeps their eyebrows regularly groomed. It truly is the little things in life.

Because I haven’t cooked much, I don’t have many updates for you all in the way of recipes. I have managed to snap a few iPhone photos on the rare occasions I’ve been in the kitchen. Here’s a roundup:

First one isn’t cooking but it is food! I think these parsley seedlings from last summer are super cute. I grew them on my front porch and started sprouting them in these empty eggshells.

parsley

My dad now thinks I am a professional baker after tasting my all-time favorite no knead bread recipe from the NYT. Don’t tell him that I barely had to lift a finger! Hint, pair with my favorite dipping oil.

no knead bread

A lentil salad I made for my mom a few weeks ago after she had surgery. Martha knows best. First of all, I LOVE anything with goat cheese, but I subbed tomatoes for bell pepper because of what I had on hand. Tip: Trader Joes has amazing pre-cooked lentils in their refrigerated section if you are in a pinch. Definitely will be making this again this summer!

Lentil Salad

My old stand by and one of my first ever blog posts, chicken soup:

Chicken soup

I’ve become obsessed with my new milk frother and pour over from Sur la table. Some breakfast highlights:

Capegg muffin french toast breakfast pour over coffee

A lazy after work dinner, perfected…olives, blood orange, almonds, peppered goat cheese, blueberries, hummus & pita:

Cheese three

My fav liquids of the moment include blueberry lemon drops, lemon and mint infused water and green smoothies:

blueberry lemon droplemon mint water Smoothie

And I saved the best, dessert, for last! A chocolate birthday cake, chocolate covered oreos, chocolate covered strawberries:

Birthday cake chocolate covered oreos chocolate covered strawberries

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Holiday Catch Up

Regretfully, I have not updated my blog in over a month.  There have been a few contributing factors.  The first is that I found out I have high cholesterol.  (Partially because of all the buttery things I have been cooking and posting on this blog and partially because of the lovely genetic hand I have been dealt.)  It has bummed me out too much to want to make any cool recipes, let alone post them on here.  Seriosly, at 24 to already have high cholesterol?!?!! But after taking a month to grieve over my high LDLs and low HDLs, I have decided to move forward and take it as an opportunity to post much healthier recipes on here.  Well I will start posting healthier stuff after today because these are a bunch of old pictures of incredibly unhealthy treats.  The second factor is that I have been bummed about being unemployed. After we moved, looking for a job turned out to be a thoroughly discouraging task.  Turn down after turn down.  But that all changed on Friday!  🙂  So now I am going into Christmas with a new and optimistic outlook.

In the past month there are very few items I have taken pictures of to post on here.  I will share with you the few that I did take.

Our first Thanksgiving turned out to be a fabulous one.  But in my frenzy, I forgot to take pictures of everything except for the turkey and the table.  I brined my turkey and I don’t think I will ever do it any other way after this because it turned out so darn delicious.

I was excited to use all of our nice china, linens and silverware for the first time.

My most favorite photo is of my new husband carving our first Thanksgiving turkey.

Mostly I was just thankful that the bird turned out beautiful AND delicious.

One of my favorite gift items I made this holiday season was Hot Chocolate on a Stick.  You can find the recipe here from this really awesome blog, Giver’s Log.

I made these extra Christmasey by adding crunched up candy cane to the dipped layer of white chocolate, making it peppermint hot chocolate.

I packaged it all up in mugs to make a cutesy gift.

I also make a batch of snowflake cookie cutters to send with Marc to work for a charity event they are doing.  They turned out pretty cute too.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie was what kicked this all off for me.  This summer after we moved in to our new apartment and I unwrapped all of our wedding gifts, which included every kitchen gadget I could ever dream of, I set out to cook and bake as much as possible.  I started with a recipe from Joy of Cooking, biscuits.  That same day I decided to actually make something.  The biscuits were delicious but I really wanted to cook something and Chicken Pot Pie sounded delicious!  It came out looking picture perfect.  I was amazed that I hadn’t messed it up somehow.  It was that confidence booster that led me to try other recipes and ultimately begin this blog.  Since that day I have made the Chicken Pot Pie several times. Twice for company and few times just for Marc and I.  It makes amazing leftovers- it reheats wonderfully.  I haven’t made it in awhile because I was afraid of overdoing it and getting sick of it.  But this last Friday it seemed like the perfect dinner after Marc had a long week at work.

There are quite a few steps involved in making the pie.  Cooking the chicken, creaming the chicken, the veggies and the pie crust.  But it is so worth it.  I usually save chicken from a large roasted chicken I made earlier in the week and use it for this recipe.  Or if you don’t have the time for that, a rotisserie chicken bought from the grocery store works nicely.  Recently, a cookbook that shall remain nameless suggested using alfredo sauce as the filling for chicken pot pie to save a step.  I almost threw up when I read that.  The filling is what makes or breaks the pie, my friend.  It is so worth it to make your creamed chicken from scratch.  And really, it doesn’t take more than ten minutes.  So here are the recipes and steps below. All of this comes from Joy of Cooking, a cookbook I continue to go back to time and time again.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Leftover or store bought, precooked chicken breast is perfect here.

Prepare:

Creamed Chicken (see recipe below)

Prepare the dough for:

Pie Dough (see recipe below)

Set aside.  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease a pie pan. Heat in a large skillet over medium-high heat:

2 tbsp. butter

Add and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes:

1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 small celery ribs, sliced

Stir the vegetables into the creamed chicken, along with:

3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
3 tbsp. minced parsely

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Roll out the pie dough on top of the dish and tuck the edges down in against the dish sides. Brush the top with:

2 tbsp. beaten egg

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is browned, 30 to 40 minutes.

Creamed Chicken Recipe

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:

4 tbsp. butter

Add and whisk until smooth:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add:

1 1/2 cups milk or half and half

Whisk until smooth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from heat, scrape the inside of the saucepan and which vigorously to break up any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and whisking, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Stir in:

cooked chicken

bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and season to taste with:

fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
grated or ground nutmeg

Pie Dough Recipe

I prefer to use my food processor to make my pie dough.  It makes the process of cutting in the butter and shortening much more hassle free.  For the ice water, make sure it is super cold by placing ice cubes in the bowl of water.  Pie crust is so temperamental when it comes to temperature.  Because of this, make sure also to chill your shortening.  This recipe make double the amount needed for Chicken Pot Pie, so freeze the other half for another time or just half the recipe.

Sift together:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Add:

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/4 chilled vegetable shortening

Cut half the shortening into the flour mixture until it has the consistency of cornmeal. Cut in the remaining half until it is pea-sized. Sprinkle the dough with:

6 tbsp. ice water

Blend the water gently into the dough until it just hold together. If necessary to hold the ingredients together, add:

1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. ice water

Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator or freeze for later use.

Classic Lasagna

I asked Marc if he had any special requests for dinner and he blurted out “Lasagna!” before I had finished my sentence.  Talk about a delicious comfort food!  I used a recipe from the Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford.  This recipe is awesome.  It is titled “Classic Lasagna” and they don’t mess around with that name.  No fancy smancy alterations- just good old meat lasagna.  I did choose to make my own marinara sauce, because I think it tastes so much better than the stuff from the jar.  I realized tonight when I was making this that I don’t have a lasagna pan yet, so I had to improvise with a 8×8 glass Pyrex dish.  But it was not deep enough for me to finish all three layers of noodles.  After tasting this recipe, I know that I will be making it a lot in years to come so a lasagna pan officially goes on my wish list.  (Family members if you are reading… I just gave away the best Christmas present tip off ever!)

Classic Lasagna Recipe

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine in a large saute pan over medium high heat:

8 oz ground beef
8 oz Italian sausage links, removed from casings and crumbled

Season with:

1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook until the meat is lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. Add and combine with meat:

6 cups marinara sauce

Set meat sauce aside. Mix together in a medium bowl:

8 oz ricotta cheese
8oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 1 cup of the meat sauce. Arrange a single layer on top of the sauce:

uncooked no boil lasagna noodles

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce evenly on top. Add half of the cheese mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the meat sauce, then scatter fresh basil leaves on top. Top iwth a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, the remaining cheese mixture, and more fresh basil leaves. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1 1/2 cups of the meat sauce, and a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining meat sauce over the top, and sprinkle with  2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.