Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Asian Toasted Sesame & Basil Chicken Salad (aka Dump Salad)

So it's 2 days before I am gone for a full week! And by gone I mean I will be meeting the boyfriend's family in Richmond, VA this weekend and then at my parents' house in PA for Christmas and the rest of the week. I am really into eating even healthier than I always do because my metabolism isn't getting any faster and I want to lose weight in the new year.

So during my weekly grocery store outing I bought lots of fresh produce. I bought about 30+ meals worth of food...and I had only 4 days to prepare and eat it (NOT overeating is also part of the "healthier" plan). But I spent under $100 at Shoppers Foods and was really pumped about that. Plus I was planning on doing fresh veggie/fruit shakes for breakfast so I knew most of it would go in there.

Tonight is my last night to cook new meals since Thursday I will be busy packing and getting things in order. I knew I had to use all my perishable foods but my dilemma was that not all of the foods "go together" and since I was still craving Asian, I knew I wanted to incorporate toasted sesame seeds. So I created a Dump Salad - that definitely sounded better as an idea and not written down...

I used everything except my spaghetti squash (which I will take to my parents) and a pear (which I will eat as a snack sometime this week). I was mainly worried about the basil going with something that was an Italian dish, but it added a nice touch to the flavor of the salad.

(Sorry for the poor quality pictures, my phone decided to randomly shut off and I was hungry!)

Toasted Sesame & Basil Chicken Salad
(Since it's a "Dump" recipe, use what ingredients you have on hand. Below is just what I happen to have)

Chicken breast (chopped and sauteed in the dressing)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Romaine lettuce
Grape tomatoes, sliced
Cucumber, diced
Green onion
Basil (fresh)
Sliced almonds
Toasted sesame seeds
Pepper, coarse ground (must use, you'll never go back to powdered pepper again)

Dressing (also cooked chicken in this)
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
Peanut butter
Toasted sesame seeds
Green onion
Simply Asia® Sweet Ginger Garlic seasoning
Ginger, ground
Tabasco® Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce (very mild)

I was amazed at how yummy it turned out! And I'm really excited to have some for lunch tomorrow!

Friday, March 29, 2013

EASTER BEER HUNT! (for adults)

All the "kids" in my family are "grown-up" without children, so instead of eggs on Easter, we hunt for beer! My mom started this tradition about 3 or 4 years ago: she hides enough beers so that each "kid" gets a 6-pack worth. We each have our own six-pack that we've decorated ourselves with paint, glitter, etc.

She gets all kinds of beers: cheap, expensive; lagers, stouts, IPA's, exotic, lite - it varies every year. She and my grandmother hide them all around our yard then when they say "GO!" we search for the hidden beers! If you come across a beer you don't want (usually Coors Light or one that you just don't like the type) you can leave it and keep searching. Once your "Easter Basket" (or 6-pack) is full you are done.

The thrill of searching for eggs and the friendly competition (which personally I hate) doesn't go away as you get older, there's just less appropriate opportunities for adults to act out that side of them. It's fun, exciting and makes you really feel like a "kid" again. In all honesty, I like the Easter bunny more now than I did as a child, he saves me money on beer and helps me enjoy my "Sunday Funday"! There's usually some bartering and trading once it's over, but in the end, everyone wins!

He has risen!

2012 Beer Hunt

2012: the "kids" lined-up waiting for our queue to "GO!"

 2012: me with my beers

2012: intense searching

2011: it was REALLY hot and we couldn't enjoy our beers until dinner after they'd been in the fridge for awhile...oh and I always cry on the holidays

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chili Cookoff IV: Winning Chili: Mild White Chicken Chili

My family hosts a Chili Cookoff every year in late October/early November at our "compound" in Southern Pennsylvania. The cookoff combines 2 perfect things for the fall: chili and football. We have family, friends, coworkers, teammates, classmates and other randoms come from all over the map! Most people make the hour drive up from the Maryland area but we've had participants from West Virginia, Delaware and even Virginia make the trek up to the event. The "PA compound" consists of my parents' house in the middle with my great aunt and uncle's house on the left and my grandparents' house on the right. Between all of us we have about 4 acres and it's perfect for a backyard football game! My Uncle Kevin does the artwork for the field and this year he made shirts (he even used a permanent marker to make everyone's names and numbers on the back of them):

A little blurry, but here I am being presented by my mother as the winner of the IV Annual Chili Cookoff:

They played about 5 games with 9 on each team. Even my sister participated this year making her the only girl! Go sis! The new kitchen addition on my parents' house is where all the chili and various desserts and sides go. This year we had a record turn-out: 20 different chilis and about 50 people! Most chilis were spicy and tomato based but we also had a new addition this year: Cincinnati chili.  I always make a white mild chili because I do not like spicy foods. Because of this, I never expect to win but this year I won with an astonishing 19 votes! There was even another white chili there this year. Mine was gone before most people even arrived. so I got an honorary (and XL) "CHAMP" shirt.

This was a first time recipe but I don't think I'd do much different - I also don't know the exact spice measurements because I did all of them to taste. Again, this is a very mild recipe that doesn't call for tomatoes or firey hot sauce. You could add corn too and make it a chowder! So here it is:

Mild White Chicken Chili
1 can cannellini beans
2 pounds of chicken, cooked and cut in chunks or diced
3 cups chicken broth
1 can of chopped/minced mild green chiles
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 pint half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Cumin, Ground
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Garnish (optional):
Sour cream
White shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro
Fresh green onion, chopped

1. Cook onions in skillet until browned and softened. Then in medium-large sized pot, heat stick of butter over low heat until melted. Then gradually add flour while whisking (it's important to constantly whisk while adding the flour or it will stick and potentially burn). I whisked the mixture for about 1 1/2 minutes.

2. Add the chicken broth and half and half SLOWLY to the pot, whisking just like you did with the flour. Bring the mixture to a boil and turn down heat and cook for about 3 minutes (or until thickened), stirring occasionally. Next add the onions, hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

3. At this point I put the mixture into the crock pot along with the chicken. Then I drained the beans and added them and the green chiles to the mixtures. Since everything is already cooked there's no reason to "cook" in the crock pot unless you are planning to leave out (as I did for the cookoff).

Note: I cooked the chicken while I was cooking the onions so everything in my mixture was hot and ready to serve. You can heat the beans up as well if you want to eat right away.

Garnish and enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Paper Monkey Pattern

I helped my mother host a jungle themed baby shower for my uncle and his expecting wife last month and was frustrated and surprised at the lack of patterns for paper animals! I'm a perfectionist so the idea I had on my head had to come out exactly the same - and every time. After numerous attempts to make paper pattern by hand I decided to utilize my favorite electronic: the computer. Save this pattern, size it to your liking and create as many monkeys as you want. The colors of the shower were light green, blue, and brown which is why I decided to use these for the pattern. I'll post photos of the final project soon.
Paper Monkey Pattern