Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another Giveaway

Mrs. Breaux is hosting a giveaway for her 100th post. Soon enough, I'll be doing the same thing!! Click here to view her awesome homemade card giveaway!

Monday, June 29, 2009

One Year

One YearToday we celebrated one year of marriage. What a year it’s been! We’ve had our ups and downs, but it has been a wonderful year and we spent today enjoying each other’s company. We’ve just been so busy lately and it was so nice to spend some quiet time together.

We woke up casually and exchanged gifts. Matt raided the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale (good boy!!) and got me some comfy tees and panties. He did a great job picking out stuff that he knew I’d like. He also got me a super nice hair straightener a few weeks ago. I kept with the paper tradition for a first anniversary gift and got him a gift certificate for a charter fishing trip up in Traverse City with one of our neighbors who charters a boat up there. After we exchanged gifts we had cereal for breakfast. This may seem insignificant, but at the grocery store yesterday I said I was really craving some cereal and we never have time to eat before we leave for work so yesterday, we each picked out a box of cereal. I picked Special K and Matt picked Coooooooookie Crisp.

After breakfast, we headed out for the day. We went to Francis Park and walked through the rose gardens. Then we went to downtown East Lansing and walked around. We bought a huge MSU flag for the front of our house and got some CDs from Matt’s favorite used CD place, Flat Black and Circular. We went to one of our favorite local joints to eat, Woody’s Oasis. They have amazing hummus and they cut their own fries, which is AWESOME!

We went to Roma Bakery and got a six inch rum cake, along with some portabella stuffed ravioli and homemade pasta sauce. Then we came home and took a nap. We just got done with dinner and dessert and are enjoying a bottle of wine… a bottle that we had all of our bridal party and family sign at our rehearsal dinner last year with the premise that we would drink it on our one year anniversary.

What a wonderful way to spend our first anniversary. It’s not a return trip to Mexico, but it was still a wonderful day. Now, off the computer before Matt starts the movie without me!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peanut Butter Chicken Stir Fry

I served this with Teriyaki "Salad Fingers" Chinese Long Beans.

1 tsp sesame oil
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
½ red bell pepper
2 C frozen broccoli florets, microwaved
1 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1 ½ Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp soy sauce
Sesame seeds

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. When the chicken is about half way done, add in the red bell pepper and grated ginger. When the chicken is almost completely done and the bell pepper is slightly soft, add in the broccoli. Sautee for 2-3 minutes. Then add in the peanut butter and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and continue sautéing while stirring until the peanut butter softens and is incorporated with the soy and the rest of the ingredients.

Teriyaki Chinese Long Beans with Almonds

I've had my eye on these Chinese Long Beans at our local market for quite some time. They are so unique-looking and always remind me of an internet sensation I heard about in college named Salad Fingers. Observe...

See!?!? The Chinese long beans look just like Salad Finger's fingers! If you haven't seen the Salad Fingers videos and don't get disturbed easily, I encourage you to watch his escapades, which can be found here. If you are easily disturbed, please reconsider watching the videos. You've been warned...

Teriyaki Chinese Long Beans with Almonds
1 bunch Chinese long beans
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp splenda
1 tsp corn starch
3 tsp COLD water
Slivered almonds

Steam the long beans in a pot of water, using a steamer basket. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce, Splenda, corn starch and cold water.

In a small sautee pan, over low heat, toast the almonds.

After the beans are done (about 5 minutes), strain them and return them to the original pot, sans the water and the heat. Dump in the soy sauce mixture and let the residual heat from the pot and the beans help thicken the sauce. If you need to, turn the heat on low to help it thicken. Add in the almonds, toss and serve ‘em up hot!
I served them with one of my favorites, Peanut Butter Chicken Stir Fry.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lime in the Coconut

Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime
His sister had another one, she paid it for the lime
She put the lime in the coconut, she drank 'em both up
Put the lime in the coconut, she called the doctor, woke him up, and said

Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take, I said
Doctor, to relieve this bellyache, I said
Doctor, ain't there nothin' I can take, I said
Doctor, to relieve this bellyache

You put the lime in the coconut, you drink 'em both together
Put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better
Put the lime in the coconut, drink 'em both up
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning

I cannot get this song out of my head whenever I think of the delicious Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting I made from a Cooking Light recipe found on The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch. The only adapting I did was add a bit more coconut flakes and I did take her suggestion of using coconut extract instead of vanilla to really bring out the coconut flavor. These cupcakes turned our super moist and the frosting... well, I could have eaten a whole batch by itself or on some graham crackers. Amazingly enough, this “buttercream” frosting only has two tablespoons of butter in it, so it is far from the traditional guilty little pleasure.

Cooking spray
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2/3 cup fat-free milk
4 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4.75 ounces powdered sugar, sifted (about 1 1/3 cups)
Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cupcakes, place 2 muffin cup liners in each of 12 muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (mixture will be the consistency of damp sand). Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in coconut and coconut extract.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in pan 2 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine 3 tablespoons butter, half and half, lime rind and lime juice in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating just until smooth. Spread about 2 1/2 teaspoons frosting onto each cupcake.

Eat remaining frosting with a large spatula.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Leland Wine and Food Festival Recap

Last weekend we made our 3rd annual trip up to the Leelanau Peninsula for the Leland Wine and Food Festival. This year's festival was great, but a bit different from past years. They turned the beauitufl park that the festival is held at into a parking lot for a new marina they are building. *sad face* Gone were the trees, grass, playground for kids and most importantly SHADE! See the construction equipment in the background and the new marina clubhouse they are building. Also note the LACK OF SHADE. The usual suspects included Matt and I, along with his sister Marci and her husband Calvin.

As you all know from my recipes, I am the biggest sucker for cheese. And this festival is like a cheese-lover's paradise. The Leelanau Cheese Company was on hand, with a big wheel of Raclette cheese, one of my absolute favorite cheeses.
See the wheel in the background? They take that blade and spin it around, creating "flowers" of extra creamy goodness, evidenced below.

I also couldn't resist getting a wedge of brie from another food vendor.

Here's Matt, chowing down on a freshly made deli sandwich on freshly baked baguette from the same vendor.

Stone House Bread always comes with some of the most amazing foccacia. Below is their roasted red pepper version. Last year they had one with artichokes. I still have dreams about that stuff...

Kejara's Bridge was serving up some delectable spinach phyllo wraps from the grill.

A nice sampling of wine offered by Cherry Republic Winery in Glen Arbor.

Bel Lago Winery in Cedar.

Short's Brewing Company was also there, sampling their Huma Lupalicious IPA and a few other beers.

Great music was provided by the Fabulous Horndogs. I would love to see these guys more often than once a year. I'll definitely be checking their website for Lansing area gigs.

All in all, it was a great time. Wine-o's united, sipping on northern Michigan's finest varietals. It was fun to reflect since last year, it was about three weeks before our wedding and it was just what I needed to relax before the big day. This year, the festival provided some much needed relaxation from the busy-ness of everyday life. Can't wait for next year. Hopefully they'll have planted some trees and grown some grass so it doesn't feel like a festival in a parking lot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great Giveaway!

I found this giveaway on Mrs. Southern Belle's blog from Deals, Steels and Heels. I am really hoping to win because I think something like this would look AWESOME in the new house.

Click here to check out the giveaway contest!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza

Matt had wanted to make chicken caesar salads with a grilled chicken breast that was in the fridge. I was craving carbs so I decided to make a pizza out of it. The crust was light and thin and the caesar ranch I drizzled over the top was refreshing with the fresh lettuce.

1 recipe of pizza dough, see below
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
Southwest or other blended seasoning
6 oz lite cream cheese
1 C mozzarella cheese
1/3 C parmesan cheese
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
Handful of button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 C Ken’s Lite Caesar dressing, plus 3 tablespoons
1/4 C lite Ranch dressing
1 Tbsp half and half cream
Romaine lettuce, chopped, for topping the pizza

First, make the pizza dough, as it needs to rise for about an hour or so in a warm spot. The pizza dough is from Giada, via Epicurious.

3/4 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Brush large bowl lightly with olive oil. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Transfer to prepared bowl; turn dough in bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Season the large chicken breast with southwest seasoning and grill or bake until fully cooked. Allow to fully cool. Then shred with a fork. In a bowl, combine the shredded chicken with 1/4 cup of the Caesar dressing. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the pizza dough out on a pizza stone or baking pan. Place in the oven for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the cream cheese over the pizza dough. Then spread the chicken, followed by the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, the mushrooms and tomatoes.

Pop it back in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

After removing from the oven, top the pizza with the freshly chopped lettuce. In a small bowl combine the extra 3 Tbsp Caesar dressing, the Ranch dressing and half and half. Use a spoon to drizzle the sauce over the pizza. Slice. Devour.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chick Pea and Black Bean Salsa

Oooh, yummy! I had this salsa recently at a planning committee meeting for the Lansing Jazz Fest and the Old Town Blues Fest. We were supposed to have a wine tasting with the vendor for the festivals but he didn’t show (apparently, he was ill). But we were asked to bring a snack to pass in anticipation for the wine tasting and one of the committee members brought this refreshing treat. I nabbed the recipe from her and made it this week. Matt said it was the "best salsa he's ever had." I thought that was a nice compliment.

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, or fresh (I grilled two ears and used that)
2 scallions, chopped (I used ¼ of a large Vidalia onion)
1 avocado, chopped (I would using a slightly less-than-super-ripe one; mine just mushed in with everything because it was extra ripe)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 bunch of cilantro, ends removed and tops finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Drizzle of olive oil
Dash of garlic powder, black pepper and seasoned salt (to taste)

Grilled Vidalia Onions

I saw this recipe on Vintage Victuals, as one of the finalists in her Vidalia Onion Recipe Contest. So simple, yet do delectable. I love the addition of the beef boullion to give it more flavor. I adapted the original recipe a little bit to lighten it up and keep the sodium lower.

2 Whole Vidalia Onions, peeled
2 Tbsp Brummel and Brown spread
1 beef boullion cube

After peeling the onions, slice off the top a bit and cut off the roots that grow on the bottom of the onion. But be sure to leave the “stem”, as it holds the onion together. Take two pieces of tin foil and lay them out, with an onion in each one.

Cut an “X” shape in the top of both onions. Cut the beef boullion cube in half and place half in each of the onions. Place a Tbsp of butter spread on top of that and then close up the onions in tin foil. Heat the grill to medium heat and place the onions on the top rack for around half an hour or until they feel soft.

We served this with filet mignon and some fried morels. I couldn’t believe the flavor of the onion. Who knew that instead of sautéing mushrooms and onions on the stovetop, you could just throw a whole onion on the grill and achieve a similar, yet pleasantly different, result! Plus… less clean up!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette with Roasted Hazelnut Oil

I have this amazing Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar from Fustini’s Oils & Vinegars in Traverse City. I could drink the whole bottle, but I think Matt would be a little suspicious if it all just disappeared. Around Christmastime, I received some Roasted Hazelnut Oil from a gal up at Shanty Creek Resorts. Her husband is a chef and she was able to pick some up for me. The aroma of this stuff is heavenly.

2 Tbsp Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp Roasted Hazelnut Oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper to taste

Friday, June 5, 2009

Roma Bakery Treats

These little pastries pack a sweet punch! We had these after our Fresh Pasta with Morels and Carmelized Vidalia Onion Cream Sauce. On the left is a mini Chantilly Horn, on the right is a mini chocolate chip cannoli and in the background is a teacup, made out of chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse on top and a rum-soaked lady finger on the bottom. I am thinking of getting a torte from them for our anniversary at the end of this month. Just one more reason to go there again and again!

Thursday, June 4, 2009