My first attempt at slow cooker-ing

Update at bottom!

I got a slow cooker for Christmas!!

Yes, that was two months ago, and yes, it’s been living in my trunk because I wasn’t sure where to put it. My roommate very sweetly opened a space in the pantry so that it will have a home.

Real Simple magazine did a whole slow cooker set in the February magazine, so I clipped the recipe to my Evernote account and hit the grocery store after choir rehearsal.

Here’s the recipe.

Here’s the before picture:

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This is raw chicken, leeks, new potatoes (!), salt and white wine.

By tomorrow evening, hopefully it will be a delicious compilation of flavors. I’ll take the chicken out, add cream and tarragon, and mash some of the potatoes before serving.

Ooh I can’t wait!

I suppose it means I’m an adult being excited about a slow cooker. If it tastes good, I won’t care 🙂

*Update: The slow cooker is making my kitchen smell yummy, but I can’t see into it to check if the meat is done and the instructions say not to lift the lid because you release heat and make your food take longer to cook so I’ll have to be patient.

*Update: The slow cooker chicken was different than I’m used to, but was moist and tasted a little of leeks. Turns out I rather like leeks.
Overall it was yummy and I will for sure make slow cooker meals again! Plus it makes the house smell great.

I think I did the sauce wrong though. It wasn’t as thick as the picture in the magazine.


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This, sir, is trench coat weather

It’s been all grey skies, drizzly clouds and a chill in the air the last few days. This is wonderful because it’s a great reason to wear all the long sleeved shirts and sweaters I unpacked from storage BUT for whatever reason I have been Just. So. Tired. lately.

When I wake up, I’m groggy and just want to cuddle back under the sheets, comforter, and quilt I’ve got piled on the bed. My fuzzy rainbow slippers are never far from my feet, and I’ve been burning apple orchard candles every day (right now, in fact).

I’m not sure if my recent extra-sleepiness has to do with the weather, or daylight savings changes, or maybe I’m B12 deficient again? No idea, but it sucks getting sleepy early and not being able to get out of bed like a normal person.

Also, my camera is broken, so you’ll have to settle for old photos for a while until my shiny new gadget is returned to me.

This is also cookin’-at-home weather… below are the pictures from when I made Basil Cream Chicken.

Basil in a bowl.

This recipe is a good excuse to use up the big basil leaves on Vincent’s plant. That thing is HUGE. And has lots of tasty leaves to contribute to my food.

You can see the bugs like it too — gross.

Pimentos. Colorful peppers!

I just love all the bright reds, yellows and greens of the pimento peppers I bought for this recipe. And I love that the peppers aren’t spicy at all.

Funny story — when we accidentally ordered pad Thai and forgot to say ‘mild’ I didn’t make it past a few bites before my face turned red and my tongue started burning. I am definitely a ‘mild’ anti-spicy girl.

The finished product is just heavy enough to be filling but not so much that I feel fat for the rest of the night. You know the feeling, yes?

The colors don’t really come through but since I took this under bad lighting with a cell phone camera with no flash I’ll let this one slide 🙂

Basil Cream Chicken

Halloween on my mind

This is no surprise, but I LOVE this time of year!

And I can’t stop thinking about pumpkin patches, candy corn, sweet fresh apples and all the organizing, planning and fun of the holiday season. (What? You mean your idea of fun isn’t planning Christmas three months in advance? You poor thing.)

Cooler weather (just like warmer weather, spring, winter, etc…) also means pasta. Vincent didn’t know I had a bucketload of frozen tomatoes in my kitchen, so he brought by some garlic tomato sauce to go with tonight’s dinner.

We used my dad’s recipe for Parmesan chicken, and served it with pasta and tomato sauce. And wine. I made extra chicken and turned that into a sandwich for lunch at work today! Look at me, little miss productivity!

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The ‘Tron’ soundtrack is playing as I type this. If only this post were so epic.

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This last photo is cool only because I centered the reflection of the dining room light in the center of the glass, so it kind of looks like a teeny ping pong ball is floating in there.

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As you can see, the Halloween decorations are on display. Since Halloween is like, tomorrow, and parties started last weekend, I’ve gotta ask. What is your Halloween costume??

Are you recycling old costumes? Do you trick or treat?

I’d tell you mine but I still have no idea what that will be…

Tomatoes everywhere!

I have been harvesting the tomatoes. The early girls are bountiful and freaking delicious. The heirloom are rather funky to look at but they taste wonderful, and the little orange tomato-lemons are sweet and tender. My favorite though, are the teardrop shaped yellow tomatoes. I intended to put them into salads, but instead I just eat them straight.

The harvest isn’t as big this year as last. I’m blaming the weather.  I branched out more this year and tried new varieties, so it could be that I chose lower-producing plants this year also.

The tomatoes from last year’s fall harvest went into the freezer, so at some point we will be making homemade chili. Or spaghetti sauce. Something like that.

These early girls went straight to the salad bowl. Regular salad with the fresh Parmesan, green leaf lettuce and Caesar dressing. Croutons when I remember to buy them. And tomatoes!

Cutting up the Early Girl tomatoSalad in an orange bowl.Haha. My nails almost match the tomato in this lighting.

We didn’t JUST have salad for dinner. To go with it, I made a basil cream sauce and chicken.

Found the recipe using the AllRecipes.com app on my phone. Here, if you want to try. It’s really easy, and delicious. Especially if you have fresh basil around.

Is it just me or is tomatoes spelled funny? Every time I type that, I think “toma-TOES!”

Basil cream sauce, with chicken and red pepper instead of the pimentos the recipe calls for.

 

 

I broke the stove

I fell off the wagon on my goal of eating at work every day, bringing food from home. First, I ran out of food at home, then I had a few lunch outings (like this one) and … well … that 30 day challenge ended early.

I got back on the wagon just in time to head out for a week long family vacation in Sedona. The challenge continued pretty successfully once I returned, but I did not take pictures every day. Which is OK because I’m guessing you don’t need to know what I had for lunch every day.

I have a ton of catching up to do! There have been delicious meals, and vacation meals, and today I broke the stove.

Boyfriend had the grand idea of making pesto for dinner tonight. This is expected when you’re dating an Italian.

Pasta, pasta, everywhere.

We made linguine with pesto, with a real mortar and pestle, and fresh basil and an heirloom tomato for caprece salad. I may have bought an offbeat basil plant, because my basil leaves are puny compared to the one BF bought at Henry’s Market and planted promptly the next morning. His leaves are bushy, dark green and healthy-looking while mine are small and sad, light green and kind of taste like licorice. Did I maybe buy sweet basil or some variation?

Fresh basil (can you tell my plant from my boyfriend's plant?), with heirloom tomato that I grew, and mozzarella.

His basil is the one that went into the pesto. Holy moly. This is going to have to go into the dinner rotation because it was absolutely delicious. Light and garlicky with not too much olive oil. Just enough to coat the linguine without pooling in the bowl.

Perfect.

The recipe came from a book on Italian cooking that was a gift to my boyfriend from his grandparents.

In the bowl, all ready to be mixed in.

Mortar and pestle. This feels very old-school.

About that stove. Apparently you’re not supposed to get water INSIDE the thing, so while I was cleaning with a comically large sponge a bunch of water swooshed either under the cook top or underneath the knobs and shorted the stove, causing a near-constant clicking that was sure to drive me insane and end my relationship.

Luckily I have a Dad who knows about these things so in my panic he directed me to the circuit breaker box and helped me figure out what to turn off… The microwave one is the one that stopped the clicking. Not the one marked ‘OVEN’. Not the one I picked first, obviously 🙂 SO for now the clicking is stopped and my sanity returned.

Until tomorrow when we turn the microwave breaker back on again, and pray we don’t hear any clicking. That sh*t will drive a person crazy.

CLICK CLICK CLICK every second. EVERY SECOND. Can you tell I’m glad it’s off?

And… here are the rest of the pictures, a little smaller. Click to enlarge!

 

Fourth of July/Champion of cookie-throwing

This is the Red, White and Blue smoothie, using the All Recipes recipe as a general guideline.

As you can see, we used strawberries and blueberries for the red and blue, and vanilla ice cream for the white. It did come out kind of purpley, but it tasted great, even if it didn’t stick to the three-colored patriotism it started out with.

I also threw in a little apple juice for flavor, and some ice to keep it cool. We blended, pureed and pulsed this stuff in the blender and the smoothie looks chunkier than it actually was. It went down smooth 🙂

This smoothie really made my morning, especially since we slept through all of the Fourth of July parades. Making this lifted my spirits a bit to get me back in the mood for some USA celebrations!

Before blending.

Some of our party were worried that it wouldn’t blend with so much stuff in it, but I think the apple juice really helped get it all going. The sounds of ice blending are never pleasant, and I think next time I’ll use some frozen strawberries or banana or something instead.

Here’s the finished product, eaten with a delicious Mexican egg breakfast, grapefruit and half a wheat bagel.

We had planned to eat outside on my boyfriend’s new patio furniture (yay!) but it was way too hot outside already so we just left the patio doors open for a light breeze and ate in the dining room.

Red, White and Blue smoothies, ready to drink!

After this, we hit the pool for a bit, where I read the July edition of Self Magazine,  then we had to really rush to get over to a friend’s house for a Fourth of July BBQ. I didn’t take pictures of the food over there. Sorry!

Our friends cooked chicken wrapped in bacon, chicken not wrapped in bacon with teriyaki sauce, cornbread, beans, and…. I know I’m forgetting something. Oh and we had chips and dip, bread and spinach dip as appetizers as we sat on the balcony.

Since they wouldn’t let me throw an empty glass beer bottle off the 12th floor, I opted for cookies instead. Though I made it pretty far out into the parking lot of the next building, my cookie was not the winner of the throwing contest. That cookie ended up bouncing off a truck and landing on the top of someone’s car. I wonder what they will think when they realize there’s a chocolate chip baked good resting on their hood?

Dinner: Chicken in basil cream sauce

Mmm… it’s good to be home! After a full weekend of relaxing, reading and drinking, it’s back to the grind, and back to the kitchen.

Tonight: Chicken!

For dinner tonight after a not-so-quick trip to the store I made chicken in basil cream sauce, with broccoli and cheddar cheese on the side. I forgot to pick up fresh bread from the grocery, so we had slices of whole grain white bread with butter to help soak up the cream sauce.

The recipe came on the fly (actually in the grocery store parking lot) from the AllRecipes.com app on my phone. Can I tell you how convenient that is? So convenient!

The cream sauce came out perfect, with just the right amount of pimento peppers (something I didn’t know existed ’til I saw it on my shopping list) and fresh basil. Pretty soon I’ll be planting my own, as I bought the one that comes with roots attached.

Below you’ll see the finished product! Who wants to help me eat next time?