Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Happy Holidays everyone! Again, I've gotten bad at blogging as of late and for that I am very sorry! Hopefully I'll use this week to get caught up.

Since Hanukkah has come and gone, the bf and I are now set to go spend Christmas with my family in Virginia/Tennessee. I'm getting very excited, especially since we don't have the winter wonderland here in Chicago that my mom has at home in VA.

Since I haven't really cooked anything particularly new lately (although did come up with a healthier creamed spinach on Friday) I thought I'd share my Christmas morning/Christmas Day outfits with all of you thanks to Polyvore.

Christmas Morning:


Christmas Day:

What are your plans for the holidays?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jersey Shore on MTV

Comments? All I can say is WOW!, it has everything I could ever want in a reality show, seriously.

I got the cutest Hanukkah gifts for the bf's little cousins today and totally on a budget too, which is great since the bf and I are still seeking full time employment. I forgot how much fun little girls are to shop for, and I am very excited that I purchased a few of their gifts at Dollar Tree, which had great art supplies (hello glitter crayons and glitter construction paper) and dress up clothes (I got the cutest fairy princess costume complete with fairy wings).

On another note, I made a super quick steak house style dinner tonight. I've been buying larger cuts of top sirloin at Costco and cutting them into smaller portions myself at home. This is a great alternative to buying more expensive cuts of steak at the supermarket. I usually will cut the meat into meal size portions and then cook that portion and slice it on a bias and serve the slices. It looks totally fancy and makes the meat more tender.

I marinated the meat and served it with garlicky green beans and roasted Parmesan potatoes.

Coffee Marinated Steak
1 large piece of top sirloin steak
1/4 cup coffee
2 tablespoons each: cooking oil, Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak seasoning
1 teaspoon of each: Italian seasoning, cinnamon, Emeril's essence, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, pepper

Mix all spices, oil, coffee and Worcestershire sauce in either a shallow baking dish or a gallon size food storage bag. Add the steak. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

Cook on an outdoor grill or a tabletop grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and let rest for an additional 5 minutes. Slice against the grain of the meat into thin pieces. Serve with potatoes and green beans.

Roasted Potatoes
1/2 to 1 lb small red potatoes, larger ones cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons each: salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, Emeril's Essence, granulated garlic, Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Place potatoes on a cookie sheet. Drizzle oil over potatoes. Add the spices and cheese. Mix together with your hands so that the potatoes are well covered with the spices, cheese and oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour until potatoes are crispy on the outside.

Garlicky Green Beans
1/2 lb fresh green beans trimmed
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon + 2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of each: pepper, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

In a medium size skillet add the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Add the green beans. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and return beans to skillet

Add the oil, garlic, cheese and spices to the green beans. Toss well to coat and saute over med. low heat.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sick of Thanksgiving Leftovers Already?

Well I have just the recipe for you! While I am the first to admit that I love nothing more than eating a leftover turkey sandwich while decorating the tree (pics to follow, too lazy to upload right now), turkey sandwiches (even paninis made on the George Foreman) do get old rather quickly!

When shopping for my Thanksgiving dinner at Costco the smallest turkey they had was 11lbs. I had originally wanted to only make a turkey breast, but didn't feel like going to another supermarket to purchase the turkey. You can see where this is going -- I bought the 11 lb turkey for 3 people. As you can imagine, I've got a ton of leftover turkey, including the not so popular dark meat...

What to do with this dark meat? Make soup. I originally wanted to make chili with the turkey but I noticed that I also had some smoked sausage that needed to be eaten, so then I decided to make a turkey gumbo. Unfortunately, I had no okra, so I combined the two ideas and came up with leftover turkey chilumbo (get it -- chili + gumbo = chilumbo)!

Leftover Turkey Chilumbo:
1 smoked sausage link chopped
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
Meat from 1 turkey leg chopped
1 stalk celery minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 onion minced
1 can red beans (do not drain)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can green chilies (or 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies)
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 cups water
1 carrot chopped
1 tablespoon of the following: granulated garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, Emeril's Essence, oregano, sage
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker. Stir well. Add 1 tablespoon butter. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.

Enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I last posted!

Wow, I'm an awful blogger! I can't believe that I haven't posted in two weeks! I apologize for being so lax, but I've been working 11 and 12 hour days so I've been a little too tired to do a proper blog post lately. I will try and get caught up on everyone's blogs over the weekend! Also, get excited, because I've got SEVERAL new recipes to post over the next couple of days.

That said, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope y'all had a nice and relaxing holiday. I cooked for the first time and actually made a proper Thanksgiving spread for the bf, my mom and myself. I'll post pics soon of the spread which included: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, glazed carrots, broccoli casserole, green beans with bacon and onions, gravy and crescent rolls!

Have a nice Friday!

Friday, November 13, 2009

$5 Friday (on time this week!)

I'm very excited about this week's $5 Friday. Although the ingredients for this dish are definitely in the $5 to $10 range, it is also a great meal to make out of the contents of your fridge and pantry (seriously, most of the stuff you will already have!). Besides the fact that you've probably got everything on hand anyway it also takes about 15 to 20 minutes to make!

Pasta with Parmesan Bacon Cream Sauce
3-4 slices bacon chopped
1 onion minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 can evaporated milk
1 - 1.5 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 spoonfuls pasta water
0.5 to 1 lb pasta
In a large sauce pan bring water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook. While the pasta cooks/water comes to a boil, in a large skillet brown the bacon. When the bacon is almost crispy add the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion until it is soft. Add the flour. Reduce heat to med. low. Add the evaporated milk and stir well making sure the flour is not lumpy.
Now that the milk has been added to the bacon mixture add the cheese a little at a time. Stir well and add some more salt and pepper to taste. The sauce will be really thick. Add a couple of spoonfuls of pasta water to thin out the sauce. Mix well.
Adjust the seasonings. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the sauce. If you've got some on hand, add some fresh parsley.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dinner

Before I get to posting my new recipe, I've got another story to share. It has been a pretty eventful week for me, I saw 50 Cent at Macy's on Monday and Bill Clinton across from my train stop today. Very exciting.

Last night for dinner the bf and I wanted something quick and easy, so I did a new twist on one of my favorites -- stir fry. I made a lemon/lime chicken stir fry with spicy saffron rice. It was delicious and super quick. Because the stir fry cooks so quickly, start the rice first and let it go for a bit before you start the stir-fry so that everything will be finished at the same time.

Lemon/Lime Chicken Stir Fry with Spicy Saffron Rice
Spicy Saffron Rice
1 cup brown rice
2 - 2.5 cups water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon of each: crushed red pepper flakes, salt, pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 1-2 cloves garlic minced)
In a saucepan melt the butter over med. to med. low heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for a bit then add the rice. Allow the butter to coat the rice and add the saffron. Now add the water. Stir well and add the salt and pepper. Allow mixture to come to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Allow to cook until rice is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary.
Lemon/Lime Chicken Stir-Fry
1 package boneless skinless chicken breast very thinly sliced
1-2 cups frozen "Stir-Fry" mix vegetables
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1.5 tablespoons of each: lemon pepper seasoning, granulated garlic, pepper
dash of chili powder
1/4 cup flour + 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
Heat some cooking oil a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. In a shallow baking dish mix the flour and the steak seasoning. Toss the thinly sliced chicken in the four mixture. Add to the hot oil. Cook for a bit until the chicken has browned. Add the frozen vegetables. Add the lemon pepper seasoning, granulated garlic, pepper and chili powder. Add the soy and teriyaki sauces. Stir well. Add the lime juice. Stir well and continue cooking until the vegetables are warm but crisp and the chicken is fully cooked.
Serve with the spicy saffron rice and sliced limes if you'd like.
Enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun Day

Today as I was leaving the Daley Center I was very excited to see that the preparations for the upcoming holiday season are in full swing! The tree in the plaza is now up and I'm assuming in the process of being decorated.

Macy's on State Street has also unveiled it's holiday windows. This definitely caught my eye and since I only had to work a half day today I decided to pop in and see what the inside of the store looked like. Needless to say I had no idea what awaited me inside.

Long story short, as I walked inside expecting to to hear the sounds of the season, I was shocked to hear 50 Cent's "In Da Club" playing extremely loudly. I was also surprised to see a crowd gathered in the middle of the store.

I soon found out why -- 50 Cent himself was there promoting his new fragrance. Seeing 50 Cent was definitely the highlight in an otherwise uneventful day so I thought I'd share my sighting with all of my fellow bloggers.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

$5 Friday (on Saturday)

Still celebrating our being sworn in, the bf and I went out for all you can eat sushi last night, so I did $5 Friday today.

The bf wanted clam chowder which I saw as a challenge and won (kind of). I spent $12.70 in the ingredients for clam chowder at my local supermarket. However, this could be under $10 if you've got some of the ingredients at home, since I realize that most of us have things like celery and onions on hand most of the time. Also, if you've got bacon on hand this cuts the price of the meal to $8 since the bacon was almost $4.

Anyway, here's the recipe for my $12 clam chowder (even though it was over $10, $12 for clam chowder is still pretty impressive if you ask me!)

Clam Chowder
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 can evaporated milk
2-3 potatoes chopped
4 slices of bacon chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cans whole baby clams drained with liquid saved roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of each: salt, pepper, Emeril's Essence, granulated garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme chopped (OR 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf

In a large dutch oven cook the bacon over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and thyme. Stir well. Add the potatoes and the liquid from the clams as well as the chicken broth. Add the salt, pepper, essence, bay leaf and garlic. Cook the potatoes in this mixture until fork tender. When the potatoes are finished mash up a bit with a potato masher. Add the chopped clams and the evaporated milk. Reduce heat to low and bring this mixture to a simmer. Serve with saltine crackers or corn muffins.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Big Day!

Guess who's officially Esquire.. ME! To celebrate this occasion, I've decide to do something that I've never done before, reveal myself posing with my newly issued law license!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Back to doing what I do best

As promised, here are photos of last week's $5 Friday. As you can tell the Tex Mex Bowls can also be served as a taco filling.




I also recently purchased individual ramekins for making things like chicken pot pie. Since I still had a pie crust left over from making the apple raspberry crostata as well as some left over chicken stock, I decided to make individual chicken pot pies.



I am very excited about the way they came out if I do say so myself. They were also super easy to make.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies:

1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 2 cloves garlic minced)
1 onion minced
2 stalks celery chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1.5 - 2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (or 1 additional tablespoon butter)
2 tablespoons flour
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon each: salt, pepper, sage, Emeril's Essence, granulated garlic
several sprigs fresh thyme

In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over med. low heat. Add the carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Cook for a bit then add the chicken. Add the chicken stock, water (only add enough water to barely cover the chicken), thyme, salt, pepper, sage, essence, and granulated garlic. Poach the chicken in this mixture. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 (or whatever the pie crust directions say).

In a small skillet saute the zucchini in some olive oil or butter. Remove from heat.

Once the chicken has cooked remove from the poaching liquid. Allow to cool, then shred and return to the pot. Add the zucchini and the frozen peas. In a small bowl mix the butter (you may have to microwave it a bit to soften it), vegetable shortening and flour. Make a paste out of this mixture. Add to the chicken vegetable mixture. Whisk into the chicken mixture well. Return the chicken mixture to a low simmer.

Simmer the mixture until it begins to thicken. When the mixture looks like a very thick soup transfer to the baking dishes. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator. Roll out and cut rounds to top the chicken mixture. Place on top of the baking dishes (which have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) and brush with olive oil and top with some Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween + GO VOLS!!!

In honor of my beloved Vols victory against South Carolina tonight combined with my recent discovery of polyvore, here's an example of my typical gameday look. Enjoy!

Game Day
Game Day by kmcclan1 featuring J Crew


Also, in light of the fact that I have an actual job interview on Monday I thought I'd show my interview attire via polyvore since it is my new obsession.

Friday, October 30, 2009

$5 Friday (extremely late)

Again, I have been a very VERY bad blogger. I am so sorry for being absolutely MIA this week and failing to post a $5 Friday last week. I did prepare a $5 meal but got a little sidetracked as my mom came into town this week :-)! Which meant that I spent Friday and Saturday night cleaning (my mom is the cleanest person I know so I always clean like a maniac when anticipating her arrival). Anyway, because Mom flew in on Sunday and stayed until Wednesday I was unable to post during that part of the week because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her.

On top of the very exciting Mom visit, I also started a new part time retail job. While I love the legal work I am currently doing at a public interest firm, it doesn't pay me anything (well except for good experience) so I've had to take a part time job until I find something full time (fingers crossed -- I've got an interview on Monday).

As you can tell it has been a very very busy week so I hope y'all will forgive my terrible blogging. That said, here is the much anticipated (hopefully) $5 Friday from last week. I bought the ingredients at my local supermarket (Jewel) and it cost a whopping $10.12 so I did go a little over budget. Amy T suggested a Mexican theme and CTB wanted something with meat so I did both and made Tex Mex bowls with flour tortillas. I'll update this post with pics tomorrow sometime.

Tex-Mex Fajita Bowls
1 small can salsa ($.99 in the Mexican foods isle)
1 bag frozen chopped onions ($1.29 in freezer section)
1 bag frozen chopped green peppers ($1.59 I think in freezer section)
1 package beef for pan frying already sliced ($1.92 in meat section)
1 package flour tortillas ($1.59 I think in Mexican foods isle)
1 can black beans ($.89 in canned food section)
1-2 cups brown rice (depends on how much rice you like, $1.39 bag, which makes a whole lot more)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of the following: oregano, chili powder, granulated garlic, cumin, salt, pepper (freebies)
1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil (freebies)
1 tablespoon butter (freebies)
Drain and rinse the beans. In a large dutch oven or sauce pan, heat up the olive oil over med. heat. Add the beans and if you'd like some fresh garlic if you have it. Allow the beans to cook for a bit then add the rice and the butter. Allow the rice to brown a bit and then add the liquid according to package directions (you can use water or if you've got some on hand beef or chicken stock.) Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder and granulated garlic. Allow to cook following package directions as you prepare the steak mixture.
While the beans and rice cook, in a large skillet, heat up the remaining olive oil over med. to med. high heat. Add the frozen onions and peppers. Stir well. Add the salsa. Allow to cook for a bit. Meanwhile slice the beef into smaller pieces so that they kind of mimic the onions and peppers. Add the 1 tablespoon of the oregano, chili powder, granulated garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. There will be some liquid in the pan. At this point the rice should be almost finished. Add the rice to the steak mixture. Microwave the tortillas for around 30 seconds until they are warm and soft.
Serve with the tortillas and if you'd like sour cream, cheese and other Tex Mex toppings.
Happy Friday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

$5 Friday is going to be $5 Saturday this week

The bf and I had to go downtown today so that he could have a suit altered so we made tonight a date night. Luckily we found a graduation present restaurant gift card so we were able to go to one of our favorite places!

Have a good Friday night :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

$5 Friday is upon us

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the second helping of $5 Friday. I'd love to hear some of your meal suggestions! Don't be afraid to post something that you think can't be made for under $10, I'm pretty creative so name your meal and I'll figure it out!

Also, you can get the ingredients for a meal under $10 at places other than Dollar Tree so if there is a specific place you want me to shop at let me know as well.

Finally, if you are going to participate, please become a follower if you are not already one.

Also, if I don't get any suggestions I'm going to come up with something on my own and it will probably be from Dollar Tree again (because I need to go there anyway).

Monday, October 19, 2009

There's something about Monday

I got the official letter with tickets to my swearing in today! On November 5, 2009, I will officially be Katie, Esquire. I have to admit it is a VERY strange feeling that is almost impossible to describe -- it is something I've worked so hard for over the last 7 years and it is one of those mileposts that has finally made me realize that I'm a grown up. Weird.


On another note, I'm really excited about all of your comments about $5 Friday. Remember, I'd love to create $5 dinners based on your suggestions so up until Friday, please post your suggestions about what I should make or where I should shop. Also, remember that if you're going to make a suggestion, please become a follower if your are not one already!

That said, the bf's aunt and uncle came over for dinner on Saturday night and I created the best recipe for a raspberry and apple crostata (we also had Julia Child's beef bourguignon which is amazing). Anyway, the crostata actually started out as an apple pie, BUT I couldn't find my pie plate so my pie turned into a crostata at the last minute. I'm really excited about how well it turned out.


Raspberry and Apple Crostata
1 premade pie crust (not the kind that comes in the pie plate, the kind that comes in a box)
2 medium size apples chopped (or 3 small apples)
1 cup frozen raspberries (thawed)
juice and zest of 1 lime
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons butter melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven according to pie package directions. In a mixing bowl, mix the apples, raspberries, lime juice and zest, cinnamon, sugar and 1 tablespoon butter together. Set aside, unwrap the pie crust. Sprinkle with flour and roll out with a rolling pin until the crust looks like a med. pizza. Place the crust on a cookie sheet or pizza pan that has been greased with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the apple/raspberry mixture in the middle of the crust. Fold the edges of the crust on top of the apple/raspberry mixture. Pinch together the crust so that none of the fruit oozes out. Brush the crust with the melted butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the apple/raspberry mixture is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

$5 Friday is Here

Mission accomplished, I created dinner consisting of ingredients from the Dollar Tree for $6. From what was available, I purchased the ingredients for a Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque with Garlic Cheese Croutons. That's $6 for 4 people, not $6 per person. I actually could have done it for $5 but I decided at the last minute to use chicken stock rather than water. Below is a pic of my basket at Dollar Tree.

Here are the ingredients for tonight's dinner on my counter so that you can get an idea of what I used. As you can see I used chicken stock, roasted red peppers, evaporated milk, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese and Texas toast. For the first time I've posed pictures of the cooking process so that you can follow along with me. Remember, spices and oil are freebies b/c most of us have those on hand.
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque with Garlic Cheese Croutons
Ingredients:
1 can roasted red peppers in liquid ($1)
0.5 box of chicken stock ($1)
1 can traditional tomato pasta sauce ($1)
1 can evaporated milk ($1)
2 teaspoons salt, crushed red pepper flakes, basil and granulated garlic (freebies)
2 tablespoons olive oil (freebies)
2 cloves garlic minced (OPTIONAL - this adds another $1 to the dish unless you have them on hand which I did so $0 - $1)
Garlic Cheese Croutons:
1 box frozen Texas Toast ($1)
1 small bag shredded cheese (I used Mozzarella) ($1)

Start by removing the red peppers from the liquid they came in and placing the peppers in a food processor. Process the peppers until they look like a sauce (like crushed tomatoes) See below.
As you can see below, Paddy likes to watch me in the kitchen, the pic was too cute not to include.
In a large dutch oven over med. low heat add the olive oil. If you are using fresh garlic add the fresh garlic and the crushed red pepper flakes. Add the processed red peppers. Stir very well then add the pasta sauce. At this point start whisking the ingredients. Now add the liquid from the roasted red peppers and 1/2 a box of chicken stock. Add the salt, pepper, granulated garlic and basil. Stir well, see below for pic.


Continue to whisk the sauce well to make sure all ingredients combine.


Cover the soup and simmer for 20-30 minutes over med. low to low heat. While the soup simmers, preheat the oven for the Texas toast. Place 4 pieces (or the whole box) on a cookie sheet. Bake until the toast is almost done. Remove from oven and top with the cheese (see below). Place back in the oven and allow the cheese to melt.
Just prior to serving, add the can of evaporated milk. Whisk well to make sure the soup is evenly mixed and creamy.

Remove the toast from the oven. It should look like this.

Now place the soup in bowls and serve with one piece of the soup as shown below. OR you can skip melting the cheese on the toast and you can put the soup in the bowls and top with the cooked toast then top with cheese. Place the bowls in the oven and allow the cheese to melt (like French Onion Soup).
Enjoy! This would be great to entertain with, call it grown up tomato soup and a grilled cheese! To keep with the $5 theme, have friends bring various bottles of 2 buck chuck from Trader Joes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Something new I'm trying

So after a couple of years of reading Everyday with Rachael Ray and looking at the $10 dinner feature in the magazine, I have felt the need to comment. I find this section really annoying because the amounts listed in the $10 section aren't really available to purchase. How can you buy $.10 worth of olive oil and $.07 worth of parsley anyway?

Anyway, in an attempt to show that you can actually make dinner for less than $10, I'm starting a new feature on my blog called $5 Fridays. Here's what I'm going to do -- every Friday I'm going to post a recipe for a $5 dinner (or a dinner between $5 and $10). This dinner will serve 4 people and you'll get to follow me from store to table. I've decided that I'm going to show that you can do this anywhere, not just the discount store. The ingredients (all of them) will be listed in amounts that can actually be purchased (no $.04 worth of carrots here). Also, spices, salt, pepper, and oil will be freebies since most people I know have these on hand anyway.

So here is where you, my awesome readers, come in (this is an interactive feature by the way), I want you to suggest what I make OR you can suggest where I shop. In order to show that you really can throw something together for $5 I'm going to either shop where you want me to or make what you want me too. Here are the rules: (1) in order to suggest I'd like for you to become a follower if you are not already one; and (2) you can only suggest one thing -- either a dish or a store. I like a challenge but keep it reasonable -- remember I've only got $5 to spend.

I was also thinking that this could be a fun competition among you and your friends, like a $5 Top Chef challenge or something. You and a group of friends could plan a month where once a week someone different hosts a dinner party with a $5-$10 budget and after dinner everyone rates a dish and at the end of the month you look at the score cards and pick a winner.

This week's $5 dinner is coming from my favorite money saving spot -- Dollar Tree. Next week will be up to you!

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's a chill in the air


Which usually means soup for me, but the bf talked me into buying some pork chops at the supermarket last week and his cousin gave us a ton of apples this past weekend (which needed to be eaten). The picture shows what I made for dinner..


Before I state the obvious (that I make smothered pork chops with apples and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes), I have a confession - I'm an Aldi shopper and I love it. So what nothing in my pantry is name brand, who cares, the quality is excellent and the prices are low. Aldi is where I purchased the pork chops, I got a large package for $3.99 and they were great. Now that I've shared my love of Aldi onto the recipe.


Smothered Pork Chops
Pork Chop Marinade
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon bbq sauce
1 tablespoon each: steak seasoning, sage, pepper, chili powder
1 teaspoon each: cayenne pepper, salt
1 package pork chops (any kind you like)

Mix all of the ingredients together. Add the pork chops to the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator for an hour or two before cooking.

Sauce
4 medium size apples chopped
1 onion chopped
3 ribs of celery chopped
1 hard apple cider (like Woodchuck)
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon each -- sage, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup evaporated milk
flour for dredging

Preheat oven to 300. In a large skillet heat some olive oil. Remove the pork chops from the marinade allowing excess to drip off. Dredge the pork chops in some flour and cook in the olive oil 1 minute per side so that the outsides have browned. Remove from pan. Add some more olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the celery, onions and apples. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the flour and the last tablespoon of the butter. Stir well. Add the hard cider and stir well. Add the pork chops back to the pan. Cover with the apple mixture. Cook for another minute on the stove top. Cover the skillet and transfer to the oven for an hour, stirring once.

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
1 lb red potatoes cut into big pieces
1 tablespoon salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 handful fresh parsley minced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
splash evaporated milk
2 tablespoons butter
Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain and return to pot. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon butter and milk. Mash using either a hand mixer or a masher. Taste to check seasonings.
Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Random Question

Here's a good question -- has anyone ever inquired about the free stuff listed on Craigs List? I've had luck purchasing stuff (I got a used LV on Craigs List for a good price) as well as selling stuff (I sold my old washer and dryer), but I have never inquired about the free stuff.

Anyway, the reason I'm asking is that I found a posting for a Victorian Eastlake parlor set for free. It's in awful condition BUT I'm adept at fixing stuff up (I can refinish and do basic upholstery). I'm not really sure where I'd put it or how I'd get it home (today is one of those days I REALLY miss the Jeep), but it seems like it could be a great project, especially when the bf and I move into a bigger place.

The posting has pics of the set and it includes a settee and 4 parlor chairs, which would be awesome in a more formal dining room. I've got some leftover fabric from previous projects (black and white polka dot + black and white harlequin print) that I could use to replace the fabric, and I've got plenty of black satin paint. All I'd need to buy would be trim and maybe some additional fabric.

So here's my question -- does this seem like a poor decision?

UPDATE -- I inquired about picking up the set and it had already found a new home :-(
Hopefully there will be other similar finds!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who loves to cut calories?

Well I certainly do, and last night I was able to make one of my favorite dishes minus several hundred calories! The bf actually liked the low fat version better. I'm also a bit obsessed with this recipe because it contains several of the foods that Dr. Oz considers "super foods."

I hope you all enjoy my healthier version of Chicken Parmesan.

Healthier Chicken Parmesan
For the Sauce:
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 small onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of each: Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, granulated garlic
1 teaspoon each: Emeril's Essence, Crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful fresh parsley finely chopped

Preheat oven to 300. In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over med. low heat. Add the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the tomato paste and allow to melt a bit. Do not throw away the tomato paste can yet. Add the diced tomatoes. Fill the tomato paste can with water and add to the pot. Stir well. Add another can of water. Add the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil and essence. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes or so. Stir and add the parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer as you prepare the chicken.

For the Chicken:
1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs with Italian seasoning
2 eggs
splash of milk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of the following: Emeril's essence, granulated garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

While the sauce is simmering prepare the chicken. First, with a meat mallet, pound out the chicken breasts so that they are thin (they should look like a chicken cutlet). Next in three separate dishes prepare the breading. In one dish add the flour and 1 tablespoon of the essence and garlic plus salt and pepper to taste. In the next dish as the eggs and milk, with salt and pepper to taste, whisk well. In the final dish add the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and the additional seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. I like to take Rachael Ray's advice and make an assembly line. First bread the chicken in the flour mixture. Dust off excess and dip in the egg mixture. Finally dip in the bread crumbs and transfer to a cookie sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Once you have coated all of the chicken breasts spray the top of each with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 400 for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Putting it together:
While the chicken bakes and the sauce simmers prepare some pasta. Once the chicken is done, mix the pasta sauce with the pasta. Place on a plate and top with the chicken. Top the chicken with some additional sauce and a bit of cheese (Italian blend works well). The sauce will melt the cheese.

I served this with salad.

This is a really pretty meal, I wish I had taken pics of it to show with the post. Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ready for brunch

I love a good brunch, it is one of my favorite meals to cook and to create recipes for! This weekend while making eggs for the bf and I, one of my new favorites was created. I've always loved breakfast burritos (esp. the ones from McDonald's) so I finally came up with my own version.



Breakfast Burritos
4 eggs
splash of milk
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies drained very well
1 onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 green or red pepper minced (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup of American cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp. Emeril's Essence, Italian seasoning
3-4 slices of bacon chopped (OR you could add some ham or sausage)
1 package of tortillas

You will need two (2) nonstick skillets for this recipe. In the first one add the chopped bacon, ham or sausage and allow to cook. In the second one heat some butter mixed with olive oil. Add the onion and allow to soften. Add the diced tomatoes with green chilies, garlic, and green pepper. Cook for a bit and then reduce the heat to low. In a bowl crack the eggs add the seasonings and a splash of milk. Whisk well and add the egg mixture to the skillet. Scramble the eggs with the veggies. Add the cheese and allow to melt and cook with the eggs.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave. When the eggs are almost cooked, add the bacon, ham or sausage. Mix into the egg mixture.

Fill the warmed tortillas with the egg mixture and roll up like a burrito. Serve with sour cream, salsa, additional cheese, hash browns and guacamole if you'd like.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's definately fall!

It is finally fall here in Chicago! This was definitely a shock coming back after 5 days in sunny San Francisco! I have to admit I'm loving the fall weather, mostly because it means I can wear my cute boots and blazers and not look like an idiot. I'm also loving this weather because it means I can create new soup recipes.

This week's creation was Black Bean Soup, and it is super easy and cheap to make!

Black Bean Soup
2 cans black beans and liquid
1 can corn and liquid
1 can diced green chilies
1 med. size tomato diced
1 onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced
2 carrots chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 tablespoon each: cumin, chili pepper, Italian seasoning, essence, granulated garlic, sage, salt, and pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 beef bone (or 1 can beef broth)
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large dutch oven melt the butter into the olive oil over med. low heat. Add the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery. Allow to cook until soft. Add the tomatoes and green chilies (you can substitute the fresh tomatoes and canned green chilies for 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, I used fresh tomatoes because they were about to go bad). Cook for a bit. Add the black beans. Fill each can of black beans with water and add to the pot. Add the beef bone (if using beef broth omit one of the cans of water) and the corn. Stir well. Add the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and other spices. Stir well.

Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer until you are ready to eat. This soup is ready after 30 minutes but gets even better the longer it cooks!

Happy October everyone! Also.. GO VOLS!! And thanks to everyone for the sweet comments about the bf and I passing the bar exam! We're still super excited about the news ourselves!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Super Awesome News!!!

I PASSED THE IL BAR EXAM!!! I'm now officially an attorney!! I get sworn in on Nov. 6!!

On a side note, the bf also passed the bar exam, but this is my blog so damnit I get all of the glory!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weekend West Coast Style

I've had the busiest weekend! For graduation the bf's dad got him the opportunity to be a Ball Dude for a day at the San Francisco Giants game (both the bf and his dad are HUGE baseball fans), and this weekend at the Cubs game, my bf got to sit on the field and shag ground balls at the Giants v. Cubs game on Thursday. He was so excited and looked adorable in his balldude uniform.

Because of the big event, the bf's dad flew the bf and I to San Fran for the game (the bf grew up in the Bay area and his parents are still there). We had the best time, as we always do when we go visit his parents and friends! Anywhoo, I didn't get back until this afternoon and had to immediately start cooking to go to the bf's cousins for a Break the Fast dinner (Yom Kippur ended at sundown today). Needless to say I haven't had a lot of time to read blogs, post, or cook. Don't worry, lots of fun dinners planned for this week!

However, while staying in the suburbs of the city by the bay, I discovered the best consignment shop! The bf, his dad and his stepmom and I all went to the Walnut Creek Arts Festival and while looking at the vendors I stumbled upon the best shop in the downtown area. It is called Labels (I think) and it is full of designer duds. I got a pair of peep toe Marc Jacobs pumps for $10 (they need some work so I'll post pics when I'm finished). The shoe section alone is worth going, it's amazing! Most of the entire back of the store is nothing but designer shoes (I'm talking Manolos, Jimmy Choo's etc.). The clothing is the same, lots of Burberry, Chanel, etc.! I wish I had more money to spend on this trip because I could have done some major damage (there's always next time).

Moral of the story -- San Francisco is a consignment shop/thrift store junkie's heaven! There are some amazing ones in the city as well (Kris is fantastic, google it for the address) but the shops in the suburbs are a little bit cheaper so if you've got a rental car, definitely make the trip to Walnut Creek and check out Labels!

I hope everyone has as much fun this weekend as I did!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My weakness

I have a confession, I love shoes. I mean I really love shoes as in I have over 50 pairs just at my apartment, not counting the ones that I have at my mom's house. My biggest shoe weaknesses ever are Chanel ballet flats. I love them, I think they are classic, practical and stylish just to name a few adjectives.

Needless to say, I have three pairs. I have a black pair, a silver pair, and a navy pair. However, true to form, I only paid full price for one pair. The other two were found on ebay and at a shoe store that sells used, irregular, and runway sample shoes.

Below is the only pair that I paid full price for. They were a gift to me from my mom last time we went to New York. Although they were pricey, they were well worth the cost since I wear them with almost everything. They are perfect for day, evening, and especially work. I really love the mix of black leather and black patent leather.


Below are the first pair that I purchased. I actually got them for $30 at the aforementioned shoe store. They have definately been worn but they still look great! The silver is actually more practical and seasonless than I originally thought and again I love them for both work and play!

This is my latest pair, an ebay purchase. I was hoping to find a pair of navy ballet flats to wear with jeans and skirts and was extremely excited to find a used pair on ebay a couple of weeks ago. They have definately seen better days, but I'm hoping that with a good cleaning and some navy shoe polish they will look as good as new. I'll post pics after I've spruced them up!


Finally I've got a pic of all three pairs, mostly to illustrate my point about how timeless the style is.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!


Monday, September 21, 2009

My adorable dog

Last week I posted some new pics of my sweet sweet boy, Gus. Today's post is dedicated to my sweet sweet girl Paddy. While Gus adopted us, Paddy was adopted by the bf and is now claimed by me. She's the sweetest dog and totally hilarious. Above is a pic of Paddy hiding underneath one of the couch blankets. I love how you can just see her little black nose. This is one of my favorite things to do to her because she just lays there and lets me.

This is my favorite all time pic of the pets. As you can see they're buds. As you can also tell by the pic, Paddy is a total pound puppy. We're not exactly sure what she is; we think she is part terrier and part teddy bear.
Happy Monday.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fall is in the air

Which means it is time for soup! I love soup because it is (1) easy to make, and (2) reheats well. Last week I can up with the best Chicken and Corn Chowder that is creamy and spicy and light all at once. As and added bonus it is also really healthy (seriously). Below is a pic of the soup, as you can see I topped the soup with green onions and cheese.
Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon each: cumin, steak seasoning, chili powder, Emeril's Essence, granulated garlic, pepper, salt, and sage
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can cream style corn
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 can of red beans drained and rinsed
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 stalk of celery minced
1 carrot minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup skim milk (or whatever you have on hand)
1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
green onions chopped (for topping)
shredded cheese (for topping)
tortilla chips (for topping)

In a large dutch oven place the chicken breasts and the steak seasoning, salt, pepper, sage, cumin, granulated garlic, essence, chili powder and cumin. Cover with just enough water to cover the chicken breasts. Cook over med. heat until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Using a slotted spoon, remove any of the fat floating at the top of the stock.

While the chicken cools, reduce heat to med. low and add the tomatoes to the chicken stock. Add the beans. Stir well and then add the cream style corn. Allow to come to a simmer. While the soup base cooks for a bit in a separate skillet saute the onions, carrots and celery in butter. Allow to soften then add the flour (this will help make the soup creamy). Then add to the soup. Stir well. Add some additional salt, pepper, and cumin. Shred the chicken and add back to the soup. Add the milk and allow to come to a simmer. The soup will be creamy and kind of thick. Add the cilantro right before serving. Serve in bowls topped with green onion, cheese and tortilla chips. Sour cream would be a good topper as well.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Football thoughts for today

Dear Jonathan Crompton:
We all know you are a terrible excuse for a QB. Today is a very important game.
Please don't play as awfully as you did last week against UCLA;
on that note, don't play as badly as you did all season last year.
I would like to see the upset of the year today, so for once, let's try and play
like a NCAA QB should play.
That's all.
I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
Thanks,
Katie


Thursday, September 17, 2009

My sweet sweet kitty!

My cat Gus never stops entertaining me. He's hilarious and sweet and likes to talk. Every morning when I wake up Mr. Gus is sitting outside my door meowing until I either (1) pick him up and say hello or (2) feed him (he is kind of a chunk).

Above is a pic of Mr. Gus in his favorite spot in the house, the window. He loves to sit in the window and look outside for hours on end. It is adorable.

This is a pic of Gus sitting on the back of the bf's chair. I love how his little paws are just laying over the side!

He likes to hide from Paddy (the dog) in the bathtub. Also hilarious!

That's about all for today. Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thank you Comedy Central

To quote our President, "Kanye West is a jackass." While Pres. Obama was very blunt about his feelings on the matter, Comedy Central (and I assume Trey Parker and Matt Stone) had a much more subtle way to expressing their opinion about what Kanye did at the VMAs. I have to say I love it. South Park is by far my favorite show on television, I love it so much I wrote my senior thesis on it in college. I think it is smart and relevant and hilarious. Tonight they totally outdid themselves. Nothing says screw you more than showing the Fish Sticks episode for 2 hours straight.

For those of you who don't watch South Park regularly, the Fish Sticks episode is essentially an entire episode dedicated to making fun of Kanye West and calling him an ego manic and a douchebag (excuse the language). It is hilarious and in light of Kanye's outburst at the VMA's nothing calls Kanye out more than airing the episode for two hours straight. South Park you have done it again!

Moving on, now a topic related to the basis of my blog -- kitchen storage. My new kitchen is great, and new, but lacking on cabinet space. I feel that a lot of kitchens are this way, there is a lot of floor space but not a lot of storage space. To solve this problem I placed a chest of drawers in the far wall in my kitchen. It does not take up a lot of space and gives me extra room to store things like wrapping paper, my waffle maker and my silverware. I've posted pics of it below to illustrate my point.
Above is the bottom drawer, I've used it for small appliances that I use fairly regularly. The drawers of the chest are deep enough to store some of my larger plastic ware and my mini food chopper and my waffle iron. My George Foreman usually goes in there too, but it was in use when I took the pics.
This is the top drawer of the chest. I use it to store extra coffee mugs and my silverware. Since my cabinet space is limited due to the fact that I've got a built in microwave and a dishwasher, and I only had two drawers I knew that I had to add storage space because I didn't want to get rid of any of my kitchen stuff. I've found this to be a perfect solution.

Here's a view of the entire chest. As you can see it is also a great place to showcase the bf's bobble head collection.


Another view of the bf's beloved bobble heads.
I really do think this is a great storage option in kitchens that are lacking in cabinet space. First of all, as I previously said a 4 drawer chest doesn't take up that much floor space. Second, the storage is hidden so if your drawers are a mess no one will know. Third, you can pick up an inexpensive chest at your local thrift store for cheap and paint it or stain it to fit your tastes. I actually need to either stain or paint this piece, I just haven't had the time. That will be one of my weekend projects sometime soon.
What are your storage solutions?
Happy Tuesday!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Dinner and Football

Christmas came in September for the Chargers, I'm just sayin'.

Made a great grilled chicken salad for dinner, definitely something that I'm going to keep on hand once I start working (provided the IL board of bar examiners decides I'm fit to practice law) because it is so quick and easy to make. Here's the recipe.

Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
marinade
1/4 cup each: Balsamic vinaigrette, Italian Dressing
2 tablespoons each: teriyaki sauce, olive oil
1 tablespoon each: steak seasoning, granulated garlic
1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, Emeril's essence, sage, oregano
mixed baby greens
carrots
4 hard boiled eggs chopped
1 handful fresh chopped parsley
various mixed veggies (I used carrots, celery, sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes)
1 onion sliced
cheese
bacon (optional)
dressing of your choice

In a large food storage bag combine the balsamic vinaigrette, Italian dressing, steak seasoning, etc. Mix well. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, boil the eggs. Chop the onion into half moon shapes. Place in a skillet with some butter and olive oil over low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to caramelize. Add a dash of teriyaki sauce. Keep over low heat until ready to add to the salad.

While the chicken marinates and the onions and eggs cook, add the veggies, fresh parsley and mixed greens to a large bowl. Once the eggs are finished place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool. Heat up a grill pan or table top grill. Cook the chicken. Once finished placed on a cutting board to rest. Add the onions to the salad. Chop the eggs and add them to the salad. Chop the chicken into cubes and add to salad. Add some cheese and bacon if you'd like. Toss well and serve with your favorite dressing.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Football Time in Tennessee (or Chicago)

Since I did not post pics of the kitchen or the master bedroom I decided that I'd go ahead and post those pics as well as my super cute game day outfit. As you can tell I am very excited about both.

This is a picture of the living room and kitchen. As you can probably tell we have in unit laundry which is awesome! The kitchen also has granite and stainless steel appliances which makes me even happier! The kitchen is also bigger than any apartment kitchen I've ever had which was a very pleasant surprise. Below is a picture of the master bedroom. The master bedroom is a bit darker than the other rooms in the house but it actually looks really cool with the black furniture and white linens. It also makes the antique oriental rug that my mom gave us look even better. I think that the room kind of has an English pub feel about it.

Below is my game day outfit for today! It was a super thrifty find on J.Crew's clearance rack for
$19.99. I've had the shirt forever, I have an entire wardrobe of Ralph Lauren oxford button ups that I wear with everything. I think I've had the one below since my freshman year of college, but it still looks good thanks to the fact that it's never seen the dryer and I always starch them before I wear. So I'm very excited about game day today! Last weekend the bf and I were walking Paddy around our neighborhood and saw a bar that had a giant blow up Smokey (Tennessee's mascot). Since the game today is on television the bf and I are going to go watch the game there. Hopefully we (and by we I mean me, the bf went to Indiana University for undergrad) will find some other Tennessee fans in Chicago!
Happy Game Day everyone!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Today is a day that we all should remember. My thoughts and prayers are definitely with those families most affected by the 9/11 bombings.

Those thoughts aside, I have decided to write a post about my new apartment, since the bf and I are now totally moved in. Hooray! I also found my camera cord so I can post pics again, which makes this post even better.

I'm going to start with my favorite part of the apartment, my closet. I took the closet in the guest room because the lighting is better. The bf and have found that it is easier for us (because we have a 2 bedroom) to have separate closets rather than to try and share a closet and put seasonal stuff in the other closet. Anyway, I love my new closet because it is huge for a non-walk in closet and I love the double rows with the built in shelving. It makes getting ready in the morning so much easier because I can see everything, especially work clothes, which at my old house were in a separate closet.
Here is another view of my closet, as I said, I'm super excited about the size, with the exception of my closet at my mom's house, I haven't had this much closet space since I started college!
Here is a pic of the living room. We've got a living/dining room combo which I haven't had since college but I love the way this is laid out because the spaces are definitely defined.

Here is a view of the dining room part of the living/dining room. As you can see we do have a garden unit but it is actually really sunny. It was also a 2006 gut rehab so everything is brand new, which I absolutely love.

Here is a pic of the front of our building. I love it, it is exactly the kind of apartment building that I wanted to live in.


So that's all for now. I need to take some pics of the kitchen and the master bedroom for another post. Hope everyone enjoys the pictures. Have a great weekend!



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yay for new apartments and internet!

Another apology for being away for so long! The bf and I moved into our new place a couple of weeks ago and finally got Internet today, so I'm officially back with tons of new recipes.

Hope everyone is enjoying their week, I'm excited that it is week 2 of football season. Go Vols!

Happy Thursday!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brunch Anyone?

When I was growing up Saturday breakfast was a tradition and attendance was mandatory for my Dad's biscuits and gravy (still can't make biscuits, but I've got the gravy down), hot strawberry jam, scrambled eggs and bacon. This was the standard fare every Saturday morning unless he was on some sort of new breakfast dish kick (these kicks included potato breakfast casserole, breakfast burritos, waffles when we got the waffle maker, etc.). Although I hated getting up in time to eat this is a tradition that I have continued as an adult, abet at noon rather than 9:00 a.m. My roommates and I would always get up and make brunch in college and the bf and I do it now. Every Saturday I make brunch and lately one of my favorite things has been a large frittata (thank you Rachel Ray). Last Saturday I made one with potatoes and onions and it is one of my favorites so far.

Bacon, Potato and Cheese Frittata
1/2 package bacon chopped
3 med. size potatoes peeled and finely chopped
1 med. size onion finely chopped
6 eggs whisked
splash of milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of the following: seasoning salt, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
1 handful of fresh parsley or cilantro finely chopped
1 teaspoon butter (if necessary)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350. In a med. to large size skillet fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Do not drain, add the potatoes and allow them to cook in the bacon grease. Once the potatoes have a bit of color add the onions. Allow to soften and add the seasoning salt, granulated garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook until the potatoes are done. While the potatoes are cooking mix the eggs and the milk in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat of the potatoes to medium low. Add the egg mixture and allow to begin to set up. Top with the cheese and bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the mixture is firm.

Cut into wedges and serve with fresh fruit and a variety of breakfast breads. Salsa is also a really good topper for the frittata.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's wedding season

Or at least for me. This weekend the bf and I went to wedding number 2 for the summer. It was the wedding of one of our very good friends, DB. The ceremony was outdoors and absolutely beautiful! The best part of the weekend was the rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom had karaoke, and not just a machine in a corner, they had a company come in and set it up like at a bar's karaoke night. It was too much fun, especially with the open bar!

Because we've been so busy with all of the weddings, I haven't done much cooking lately, so I'm going to post the pasta salad I made during the Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy!

Southwestern Pasta Salad
1 box bow tie pasta
1 small bottle ranch dressing
1 good size handful cilantro chopped
1 tablespoon of each: chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 bag frozen southwestern mix vegetables (it should have corn, peppers, onions, etc.)
1 cucumber finely chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, spices, herbs, mustard and dressing. Mix well and refrigerate for 30 minutes then serve.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One of my favorites

I love egg salad, but it is one of those things that it is either amazing or really gross. I think it is very hard to find good egg salad. My mom's friend Terra makes fantastic egg salad and the bf and I love the egg salad you can pick up at Stanley's Market in Chicago.

One of the best things about egg salad is that it is delicious, easy to make and cheap. I think it is even something that you can make really special and entertain with. Just serve it with sliced red onion, sprouts, thinly sliced cucumber and a variety of breads and you've got a great light lunch for guests!

Well I finally decided to try and make it myself and it was a success. I checked out several recipes on foodnetwork.com and came up with my own take on a classic.

Egg Salad: (this make a small batch)
5 hard boiled eggs
4 teaspoons mayo
2-3 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon each: Emeril's Essence, pepper
salt to taste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

Allow the eggs to cool. Peel and finely chop the eggs. Place in a bowl. Add the onion, spices, mustard and mayo. Stir well. Allow to refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. Enjoy!

As a side note, dill would be a great addition to this recipe as well.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another take on $2 steak

My steak marinade from last night was a success! Here's the recipe:

$2 Steak part 2
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup coffee (yep, sounds weired I know)
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons grill seasoning
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon Emeril's Essence

Mix all ingredients together in a gallon size food storage bag. Add cheap steaks (last night we used chuck steak?) don't spend more than $3 or $4 a piece on the steak. This is not a marinade that you use for a good quality steak, this is to tenderize cheaper cuts of meat. Place the steaks in the marinade and place in the fridge for around 2 hours, turning ever so often to make sure the meat is evenly coated.

Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature on the counter before cooking. Cook on an outdoor grill or a tabletop grill 3 minutes per side for rare/medium rare. Cook longer if you like your meat more well done.

If you don't have a tabletop grill, grill pan, or an outdoor grill you can use a griddle or a cast iron skillet to cook the steaks. Last night we used a cast iron griddle to cook the steaks and they turned out fantastic. (p.s. you can get a good cast iron griddle at Wal-Mart or the dollar store for less than $10, and it's one of the most useful pots in my kitchen.)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun times at the thrift store

One of the reasons I am so happy to be back in NC is that I can visit my favorite thrift stores once again. I'm sure that Chicago has amazing thrift stores, but with studying for the bar I haven't had time to check them out. As soon as I find one I'll post about what I've found.

Anyway, SNR and I went to Goodwill on Sunday and I went to MegaThrift today. I was actually on a mission both days to find the items of clothing that I forgot to pack for the trip down here. After racking my brain with images of what I have to play with in my closet at my mom's I was able to create a list consisting of: jeans, sundresses (I didn't realize it would be so freaking hot here), a dress for a rehearsal dinner (it's going to be more formal than I thought), black heels (don't ask me why I forgot these), and brownish heels to go with my dress for the aforementioned wedding.

I'm still not sure what the hell I was thinking when I packed for NC - I'm thinking the post bar haze plus several glasses of wine probably contributed to this lack of proper packing. But my thrift store missions were a success. I found a pair of Joe's jeans for $8, a pair of Ann Taylor black heels for $4, a J.Crew blue sundress for $6, a pair of floral satin heels that are purple ivory and brown for $4, two sundresses that are cute but not brand name, and a really cute white cardigan sweater.

I'm very excited about these finds. The J.Crew sundress is one of the beach dresses and I'm going to wear to the rehearsal dinner with silver ballet flats. I'm going to wear the satin heels with the brown J.Crew dress (from their wedding/party line, another Goodwill find from a couple of years ago) to the wedding.

So that's about all for today. I wish I had my camera cord so that I could post pics of my finds. Also, I've created another take on the $2 steak marinade, will post recipe if it turns out well.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I do love leftovers

While back in NC the bf and I are staying with a very good friend. Because she is being so amazing and letting us stay with her for the better part of a month, the bf and I cleaned her place to day and also made a bit of dinner. Don't worry SNR this is one of many many meals you get from me while I squat on your couch.

Anyway, last night the bf, SNR and I made a wonderful dinner to celebrate the fact that her A/C was working again (long story, don't ask). Dinner consisted of her tailgate pork tenderloin, my mac and cheese and sweet potato fries. It was fantastic and there were a ton of leftovers which I turned into bbq pulled pork sandwiches today.

Emeril's BBQ Sauce (found on foodnetwork.com and I made it my own)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cola
1 teaspoon each: pepper, salt, Emeril's Essence, cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients. Whisk well as the sauce comes to a simmer. Allow to simmer over low heat until ready to combine with the pork.

Just heat the leftover pork in the oven and cut into chunks. Place in a large bowl and pour the sauce over the pork. Serve with sliced red onions, and coleslaw

Coleslaw (I used a bag o slaw with dressing included)
1/4 red onion finely minced
bag of coleslaw mix
package of coleslaw dressing (about 3 tablespoons)
1 - 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt, Pepper, Essence to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Allow to refrigerate for about 30 before serving so that the flavors can combine.

I served this with frozen sweet potato fries and potato salad (store bought, Lowe's Foods makes great potato salad).

It's so good to be back :-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

I forgot one thing in the steak recipe

I completely forgot to add one of the ingredients to the marinade! Luckily it is an optional ingredient but it does add a bit to sweetness to the steak. I add about 1/4 cup of cola (diet or regular) to the marinade as well. I feel like besides the flavor the acid helps to tenderize the meat.

This and that

I'm trying to figure out what to write about now that impending doom is no longer lurking around the corner. So glad that's over, seriously!

I've decided that I'm going to dedicate this second post bar post to catching everyone out with everything non-bar related in my life, and then I'm going to start posting all of the recipes that I've created during the bar exam (I've got some good ones).

First of all the bf and I found an apartment! It's fantastic, it's in a vintage building that has been completely gutted, which is fantastic because it means that there is hardwood throughout, two bedrooms, two bathrooms. Even better is that the kitchen is completely new meaning stainless steel appliances and granite countertops! I can't wait to cook my first meal. Another plus to the apt is that it is a 10 minute walk to Wrigley Field.

My new car is still awesome, super excited about that. The bf and I are back in NC (we left on Friday b/c the bf had a rugby coaching clinic there on Saturday) and I have to say that the drive back to NC was awesome. There's nothing like a road trip in a new car.

So that's about all for now. Actually not that's not all for now, I've got a great "steakhouse" dinner that I've been wanting to blog about.

Two-Dollar Steaks
2 really cheap sirloin steaks (look for ones that say good for marinating)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of each: salt, pepper, Emeril's Essence, steak seasoning, granulated garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

In a gallon size food storage bag add all of the dry spices. Add the basalmic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the steaks and coat well. Place in the fridge for two hours but make sure to turn the steaks a couple of times. Take the steaks out about 30 minutes before you want to cook them so that they can come to room temperature. Grill on an outdoor grill or tabletop grill (don't use a George Foreman, it will dry out the mean too much). Grill on each side for 1-3 min per side (depending on the size of the steak) for med. rare. Allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.

I served with with steamed asparagus and mac and cheese. See my previous posts for these recipes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I did it!!!

The bar exam is over and it wasn't awful!! I am so sorry for being MIA for the three weeks, but studying had to take priority over blogging! Needless to say I was a bit stressed out (okay a lot stressed out). Now that I don't have impending doom lurking over my head because it's finally over I am looking so forward to catching up on everyones blogs and posting some new and very fast recipes that I compiled during the final countdown.

On a happier note, thanks to the bar exam stress I've officially lost 10lbs! Hopefully I'll keep that off :-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

No winner yet due to internet problems

I promise I'll post a winner soon, but due to some Internet problems over the holiday weekend I've been unable to review all of your creative posts! I'll do my best to post a winner by tomorrow! Again I'm so sorry!

Anywhoo, I hope everyone had a great 4th weekend! I certainly did despite spending the majority it to studying.

Also, thanks to everyone for the sweet comments regarding my last post!

I've got some great recipes to post when I get the chance, which will probably be on Thursday because I'm in the midst of a BarBri "MBE Workshop" this is going to go until Wednesday. But I promise it will be worth the wait --- I'm very proud I was able to translate the leftovers from my 4th of July Tex-Mex cookout into 3 separate meals!

I hope everyone is having a happy Monday!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And the Winner is!!

I'm not sure yet! Ha Ha! I'm going to pick the winner this afternoon after I've read all of the entries from the most recent post and from the original post. I'll post either tonight or tomorrow morning who I've decided the winner(s) is/are (I've gotten some hilarious entries).

I picked up my new car yesterday and it's awesome! It's almost too nice, I'm not sure what to do! I've never had a vehicle this new with leather seats and all the cool stuff that this one has.

Anywhooo, since no one guessed correctly what actually broke on my vehicle that sparked the decision to trade I'm going to pick the funniest entry! There are some great ones so hopefully I'll pick yours.

And because I'm sure you are all absolutely dying to know what broke on my vehicle I'm going to tell you... drum roll please... My ABS system went out while I was driving home from the airport. Yes, that is correct my anti lock brake system failed. Although the non-anti lock brakes were still working this was still extremely scary.

Also, thanks to CTB at Well Bless Your Heart for the shout out! I'll be posting my 10 honest things very soon!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Giveaway Time!

Just a friendly reminder that I'll be picking the winner of my car related giveaway this week because I GOT A NEW CAR, which was purchased because something else went wrong with my old car.

Y'all know the rules -- guess what broke and if no one guesses correctly I'm going to pick the entry that makes me laugh the most! I'll be picking the winner on Thursday so be sure and enter soon! Remember the winner gets a Starbucks Travel Mug filled with goodies!

In other news, my mom came into town this weekend. We had a blast, with the exception of the scary car malfunction on the way home from the airport on Thursday! She'd never been to Chicago before so I was really excited to show her around my new city. We did all of the touristy stuff like eating at Pizzeria Uno and the bf and my step dad went to the Cub/Sox game on Friday. I was definitely sad to see Mom leave very early Sunday morning, especially since her departure means that it's definitely bar exam crunch time for the bf and I at this point!

The bf and I also looked at a couple of apartments this weekend which was exciting. I'm not sure who is more excited about the bf and I finding a new place, us or my mom (who made me tell my cat Gus all about the apartment over the telephone. In case you haven't realized this yet, Gus likes to talk and I'm a little obsessed with the pets). We also found a great frozen custard place and all you can eat sushi.

After dropping my mom off at the airport and looking at apartments, I was finally able to do the one thing that I've been dying to do since I moved to Chicago. I finally went to the beach and it was awesome! Although the beach was very crowded I was able to get a lot of studying done while soaking up some rays (with plenty of SPF since I'm so pale I'm almost clear). Besides being a relaxing afternoon it was also great motivation for me to get my fat butt in shape. I've never seen so many fantastic bikini bodies in one place! I feel like I should take a walk to the beach every time I either want to eat crap or not work out!

In other news, both pairs of shoes arrived! The navy Manolos are beautiful and in fantastic shape! The Jack Rogers are brand spanking new and arrived with a really beautiful pink Ann Taylor sweater that still had the tags on it (remember this was a shopgoodwill auction that I won for $23)!

That's about all for today. I'm sorry there is nothing food related but we did a lot of eating out this weekend because of the aforementioned parental visit. Get excited about some new healthy dishes later in the week.