Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Napa Chicken Salad

I use Pinterest a lot. It's probably one of my favorite places to find food recipes because they were made by real people

4 cups cooked chicken chopped into 3/4 inch dice.

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons dried tarragon

1 cup small diced celery

1 cup red or green grapes cut in 1/2

1/2 cup almonds


Place the chicken in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add mayo, sour cream, tarragon, celery, grapes and almonds. Toss well and refrigerate for several hours. Enjoy over lettuce or as a sandwich.

Pita Bread

I've never had good luck with making bread with yeast. Maybe my house is never warm enough so it doesn't rise properly. Maybe I'm just impatient. It's something. This was no different. I let them rise longer than it said, but the pitas still didn't get the little pocket in them. Maybe you'll have better luck.

I only made these because I was craving chicken salad. That recipe will be coming up soon. Sorry for the lack of pictures, we eat things before I get pictures.

Pita Bread

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.

Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425F.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.

Crunchy Asian Pasta Salad

I've had this recipe in a binder for a while now. Probably about three years. I've been looking for some new recipes lately and stumbled on this guy. 

It's a little overwhelming as a main course, but try it with burgers or hot dogs on the grill or something else summery. Matt loved it. I had it for lunch today with some yogurt and fruit and it was perfect. I thought of my friend Kristen when I had my lunch today. She was always getting on my case about eating multiple colors in my meal. This meal had so many colors I can't even start counting. Yummy.

Also, it counts for a Meatless Monday.

1 box Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad classic pasta mix
1 pkg (3oz) Oriental flavored Ramen Soup Mix
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bag broccoli slaw
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal into ½ inch pieces
1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
2 cans (15oz) mandarin oranges, drained

Empty the pasta mix into a pot of boiling water. Gently boil for 10 – 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake to drain again.

In a large bowl stir together the seasoning mixes from the pasta and the soup mix, sugar, oil, vinegar, water and soy sauce. Add the pasta and the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine.

Just before serving, coarsely crush the dry noodles from the soup mix and stir into the pasta mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Skillet

My mom gave me this recipe a few weeks ago and I finally made it. It's pretty simple and quite delicious.

When she gave me the recipe, I was surprised to see that it was one of my favorite Bloggers, How Sweet It Is. Now that I have the iPad, I don't have the reading list of blogs like I used to. I must have missed this one because I definitely would have tagged it for making.

Spicy Parmesan Shrimp Skillet
from How Sweet It Is

Serves 2-4

1 pound raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes together. Add shrimp to a large zip-lock bag, pour marinade over top, then seal bag and shake to coats. Place in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes to overnight.

When ready to eat, bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook penne according to directions. While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and marinade into the skillet and cook until shrimp are pink - about 2 minutes on each side. Be carful not to overlook. As soon as the shrimp is finished, add penne into the skillet and toss to coat completely. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, then serve.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spinach and Chicken Pizza Blanco + Book #6

I horde recipes. I have binders full of recipes, some of which I've made and some of which are just waiting to be made. 

I've been holding on to this one for a while. It sounded delicious. It looked delicious. It was. :)

Look how pretty those ribbons of spinach are. Matt helped out and cut them up very nicely. He also cooked the chicken. That's definitely one of his jobs in the kitchen. I hate cooking meat, so he does it.

And in the end, it got a thumbs up. There are very few pizzas that would get the thumbs down from him, but it still feels good to hear how tasty it was.

After dinner was date-night. We went and saw Garfunkel and Oates as part of LaughFest. I highly recommend going to YouTube and checking them out. Just beware that they use very strong language and sing about some pretty racy things.

 Spinach and Chicken Pizza Blanco
1 prepared pizza crust
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 cup fresh spinach, cut into ribbons
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp basil

Start the pizza crust according to the directions on the package. 

Melt butter in a small saucepan and add minced garlic. Allow garlic to saute for about a minute, then add flour. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Slowly whisk in milk, adding gradually. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Will thicken upon standing.

Top the crust with a few tablespoons of white sauce. Top with the chicken and spinach. Top with cheese. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake until cheese is melted. 

Book #6
The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

I picked this up at the Hamburg Library booksale a few years ago. I snagged it in their $2 bag deal. Fill a bag up for only $2. I got 18 books out of that deal.

This one looked light-hearted and an easy read for my 50 book goal for the year. I got behind while I was studying and now I'm hitting it hard. I've missed reading.

It's a book about coming into your own. When everyone has always defined you by your family and how you acted as a child, it's hard to break out of that idea. But that's what the main character Josey is doing, even if she doesn't know it. It's a coming-of-age story and a love story and a little bit of a mystery. I found it funny and sweet (ha) and rather fluffy. I think I'm working my way up to some of the more hefty books on my shelf. This one took less than a week to finish.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Philly-Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers + Book #5

Sometimes I make manly things for dinner. I find them on Pinterest and say "hmmm, Matt would love this." 

Also, I hate mushrooms, but I will cook them for Matt. This sounded like a perfect recipe for him. I tried the mushrooms, but I still hate them.

I bring my leftovers to work for lunch most days. I brought one of these in and my friend Katie insisted on the recipe. She's always looking for new recipes to try and I'm sure her new husband loved these. The cheese was a little squeeky. That's really the only way I can think of to describe it. I wish it would have stayed gooey longer. I bet they would have been more delicious if there weren't any mushrooms.

Philly-Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Green Bell Peppers
1 Medium Sweet Onion
6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds.

Slice onions and mushrooms.  Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper.  Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized.  About 25-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400*

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.  Allow to cook 5-10 minutes

Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese. 

Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.

Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown. 

Book #5
The Bear Went Over the Mountain - William Kotzwinkle

A simple children's song turned into a much bigger book. 

A writer takes a sabbatical into the wilderness of Maine and writes his masterpiece.  He hides it under a tree where it gets stolen by a bear. The bear takes it to New York where it becomes a hit. This is the story of a bear who gets in touch with his human side and a writer who gets in touch with his bear side. 

I quite enjoyed it. The chapters were relatively short and easy to read. I got through it pretty quickly. 

Matt gave me this for Christmas. He gave me a book for my birthday and bought the same one for himself so we could read it together. At Christmas, he did the same thing, and so did I. Little did we know that when Christmas came around, we'd actually be living 17 miles from each other. I quite like reading the same book together. It's just an extra something to talk about.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Twice Baked Potato Casserole + Book #4

This Easter was probably the first one that I intentionally missed, not because I was too busy, but because I didn't feel like driving two hours across the state for ham.

I had a ham. Each year, AMDG gives each employee a gift card for HoneyBaked Ham. My card bought me a 4.18 pound ham. Do you know how much that is? Enough for Matt and I to eat dinner, leftovers for lunch, and lots to cut up for other recipes. 

Easter dinner was ham, green beans, rolls and potato casserole. I thought it was good, but it could have been creamier. It's a nice combination of potato, cheese, milk, bacon...mmm. I added the bacon. Twice baked potatoes should always have bacon. I might have gone a little overboard on the piggy in this meal.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

4 Medium Size Potatoes – Quartered
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 scallion
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish.

Cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain. 

Add milk and mash potatoes. Add 1/2 cup of cheese, seasoning, green onions, sour cream, and egg. Mix well and transfer to baking dish.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes uncovered ( top should be lightly golden brown). 

Book #4
Crumbling Walls - Laura Strandt

I worked at a library once (probably my favorite job ever) and met a great person named Laura. She's the children's librarian and does some really great summer reading programs for the kids. I've seen her little girl grow up and I'm rather fond of her and her family (which includes the library folk).

For the last six years, Laura has done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Always excited to do some more reading, I volunteered to read the first draft of this book. It was great of course. Now, it's a real book. I have the Kindle version and the paperback is due out June 1. Pre-order it. For real.

I think Laura has a great way of writing dialogue the way people actually talk. Since I know her, I could really hear her voice telling me this story. It's about two teenagers and it's kind of a standard boy meets girl kind of story. It's told with some twists and has a nice depth to it. I can't wait to read the next one since this book leaves the ending open to a few more books. I know there are more. I can't wait. 

For more information or to BUY IT (!) go here: Crumbling Walls on Amazon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mini Goat Cheese Chili Rellenos + Book #3

I love chili rellenos. Love. 

You might recall I tried to make them once. They were good, but a lot of work. 

When I found these on Pinterest, I knew I had to make them. Less work and the same great taste. They were delicious.

I probably should have roasted the peppers and cut them up smaller, but it was still delicious. I also substituted the goat cheese for feta. I love feta cheese too. Goat cheese tends to be pretty strong so I decided to swap one for the other. I think it was a good choice.

No pictures. I ate it too fast. Mmmmm.

Mini Goat Cheese Chili Rellenos Casserole

3 eggs
1/4 C milk of choice
2.5 oz soft goat cheese
2 green chiles (Poblano. roasted, seeded and chopped)
1 T flour
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t sea salt
splash of hot sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into two greased ramekins.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until the eggs are set.

 Book #3
Zombie Road Trip - T. Alex Miller

Unfortunately, this book isn't available on Amazon anymore. I got it for free from 

I love zombie movies, so I figured I'd give this book a try. 

It was pretty entertaining. It's a story about a zombie (obviously) who is a little more coherent than the rest. He's actually a scientist who intentionally infected himself with the virus and is trying to get back to his lab. It's the story of a zombie to falls in love. Rather graphic at times...apparently the best bits to eat are the, ahem, wobbly bits. Still, an entertaining read.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pork Chop Bake

I love and hate that after college, all my friends scattered across the US. I have friends in Seattle, Boston, NYC, and Chicago. It's great when I'm traveling, but it's not so great when socializing. Last summer on my east coast solo trip, I stayed with Ayesha and Alex in NYC. I am so thankful that they let me crash on their couch for a few days and gave me a great culinary tour of the city.

This Christmas, it dawned on me that Alex would probably be home for the holidays, so we got together for lunch. I picked him up in Holland (his home) and we had lunch in Grand Rapids (my new home). His family owns Montello Meat Market in Holland, so when I picked him up, I got a quick tour of the operation, complete with Sam in the back hacking a large piece of meat. Then, a lovely surprise! I welcome to the West Side box of meat from the market. There were pork chops, burgers, ground beef, various beef cuts and some amazing homemade bratwurst. I was really looking forward to savoring each cut and eating delicious meat over the new few months.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and you'll find my refrigerator not working. The compressor broke when I wasn't home (twice) and my entire fridge/freezer thawed out. Thankfully, it was really cold out at the time and my porch then acted as my freezer. The staff at my apartment complex did a nice job of replacing the fridge in a pretty timely manner. However, the meat had been defrosted twice in a few days and I was getting a little leary of how long it would last. I put on a request on Facebook for some recipes and this was one of the results. 

I grew up eating pork chops with applesauce and macaroni and cheese, so this was a great way of getting the apples without making full on applesauce. Go make it. It's delicious.

Pork Chop Bake
original recipe from Holly Hentz
2 pork chops
2 tsp. butter
2 medium apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

1 small sweet onion, diced (1/2 cup)
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a small nonstick skillet, brown pork chops in butter. 

 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the apples, cranberry sauce and onion. Transfer to an 8x8 baking dish coated with spray.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apple mixture. Top with pork chops.

Cover and bake at 325 for 45 to 50 minutes or until pork reaches 160 and apples are tender.

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Green Peppers

Sometimes I have to remember that not everyone likes all the same foods that I do. I love peas and lima beans. Matt hates them. I hate mushrooms. Matt loves them. Sometimes, I have to suck it up and put the things that I hate back into a recipe. There are plenty of recipes I have altered to get rid of things I don't like. Maybe it changes the recipe too much, maybe it doesn't. I'll never know.

When I found this recipe though, I knew that if I was sharing, I was going to have to include the mushrooms. I have never actually had a Philly Cheesesteak, but I assume that the mushrooms are important. That is how I found myself sauteeing mushrooms in butter one day last week. I took them out of the oven and they smelled delicious, but when it came time to eat the mushrooms, I couldn't do it. I can sneak the little guys in there, but a whole sliced mushroom? No way! There are delicious and definitely a way to get your fill of Cheesesteak if you're someone on a gluten-free diet. 

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Green Peppers
originally from Quick & Easy Recipes

8 oz. Thinly Sliced Roast Beef
8 Slices Provolone Cheese
2 Large Green Bell Peppers
1 Medium Sweet Onion
6 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic – Minced
Salt and Pepper – to taste

Slice peppers in half lengthwise, remove ribs and seeds.

Slice onions and mushrooms.  Saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic and a little salt and pepper.  Saute until onions and mushroom are nice and caramelized.  About 25-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400*

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.  Allow to cook 5-10 minutes

Line the inside of each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese. 

Fill each pepper with meat mixture until they are nearly overflowing.

Top each pepper with another slice of provolone cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese on top is golden brown. 

Blueberry-Raspberry Baked Oatmeal

Another recipe for when regular oatmeal or cereal just isn't cutting it. I have been craving blueberries lately and didn't want to take the time to make them into scones like I had originally planned. Good thing I had bookmarked this recipe

Blueberry & Raspberry Baked Oatmeal
originally from So, How's It Taste?

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup milk
 1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
3. Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
4. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

F U, Penguin

Book #2
F U, Penguin - Matthew Gasteier

Another book given to me by Matt, this one was a Christmas present. Knowing my love of penguins, this book takes pictures of adorable animals and gives scathing comments about them. It's originally based on the blog (read at your own risk). You'll be treated to cute pictures with titles such as "WARNING: Dogs are big-time fakers" or "Seals are always looking for handouts" and, of course "Penguins think they are so f***ing great." Also, random facts about the animals in the picture. I'm not sure they're true.

Rating: 7/10 because it's just pictures and a commentary

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oh Hey 2013!

So last year was a little bit of a fail. I made it to 30 weeks of new recipes.

I really did make more, I just didn't document them all. And I moved across the state at the end of the year.

Really, I spent two months interviewing for two jobs and then searching for an apartment and then moving and starting a new job. In there was also the holidays.

We can welcome in 2013 with a new resolution.

1. Do not move. I had four addresses last year and I am dead set on staying in this apartment.

2. 50 books. That is the new goal. I want to read 50 books this year. When I worked at the library, I read 50 books in a summer. This lasted for 3-4 years. Then my goal was 50 books each year. Then I started grad school and that went away quickly. So here it goes. 50 books this year.

Book #1
Micro - Michael Crichton

Back when I was living on the east side of the state and Matt was living on the west side, we decided to start reading the same book. This way, we were doing something together when we were 2+ hours away from each other. 

I have read a couple of Michael Crichton books before so I was excited to read this one. Unfortunately, Michael Crichton died before he was though writing the book. Richard Preston finished writing the book. You can't really tell where one stopped and the other began.

The book is about a group of grad students who are invited to work at a company in Hawaii that studies micro-biological type things. Soon there is a murder and in trying to solve it, the students are shrunk down and dumped into the forest. The resulting story is one of survival and science. There were some really great descriptions of micro-environments (kind of gross really) and some serious eye-raisers in the plot. The dialog and other descriptions weren't that great though. (in a nutshell)

Rating: 5/10 for a good premise, but a lack of follow-through.