Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Noodle Bowl

Sometimes I just get a hankerin for Asians foods. I miss having Pei Wei on speed dial and just around the corner from my house. I have since learned to compromise, and am beginning to expand my Asian culinary repertoire. Sunday night I threw together a yummy noodle bowl with vegetables I found laying around the house, and an orange ginger sauce I picked up at the market that afternoon. Turned out great!

Orange Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl


Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, cut in chunks

3 cups cabbage, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped in large chunks

1/2 onion, chopped in large chunks

1 small can water chestnuts

2 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 box (or more) whole wheat spaghetti


2 tablespoons soy sauce

Canola Oil

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions:

1. Chop all vegetables. Saute bell pepper and garlic in butter and a splash of olive oil for approximately 5-10 minutes. Once softened, add onion and saute until translucent. Set aside.

2. While bell pepper is cooking, cover the bottom of a large skillet with canola oil and heat on medium high. Pour flour and garlic powder in a bowl or Ziploc bag. Add chopped chicken, and completely coat all sides with flour mixture. Place in oil to fry chicken nuggets.

3. When chicken is completely cooked, remove from heat and place chicken on paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Set aside.

4. Boil water and cook noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage and a few splashes of soy sauce, and cook cabbage down, about 5-8 minutes. Add water chestnuts, and cook for about 2-3 more minutes. Add remaining vegetables, chicken and orange ginger sauce. Heat over medium hit, stirring well, for about 7-8 minutes (until everything is coated with sauce and warm).

6. Toss vegetables and chicken with noodles and serve. Yields approximately 4 servings.


Suggested Sides: egg rolls or pot stickers (both can be found in your freezer section at the grocery)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy 30th Mel!

Today I have to wish one of my besties, Melissa, a VERY HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY!!!! So glad she is joining the club today. And so glad she's been my friend since circa 1992. Here you can see us at Six Flags in high school. L-R - Christine, Deva, Melissa & Moi! I think this was in 1996...the four of us were inseperable then!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Conversations with a 4-year-old

Saturday night I was sitting on the couch at my mother's house, and my nephew came into the living room and crawled in my lap. He had his children's picture Bible with him, and needed to show me something. He opened the Bible to the story about Jesus' crucifixion.

He wanted to know why the men were hanging on the cross and why the Roman soldier "poked them" with his sharp stick. He also asked what the men did to die. I explained that the two men on the sides were bad and that they died because they did bad things. But then I explained that Jesus never ever did a bad thing his whole life. I also explained the Jesus was God, and that he was very good. However, he had to die so we could go to heaven and be with him one day.
We had to discuss this for a few minutes before he fully understood. And then he asked why the Roman soldier was so bad. Being the caring auntie that I am, I tried to soften the story a little and say the soldier was guarding the men. But then Will corrected me and said he was bad and poked the men. My sister said he already knew the story, and he knew the soldier was bad. (Oops!) My nephew then said he wished he could crawl in the book and hit the bad soldier so he didn't poke Jesus or other men. My sweet nephew is such a caring little boy, and he wanted to protect Jesus.

Will is a very smart child, and I was impressed with how much he has retained from going to church and talking to his parents about Jesus. I am always impressed with his sensitive and caring heart. He is a precious little boy.

We went on and discussed other parts of the book, including the resurrection and ascention to heaven. Will does not want to fly in the air and go to heaven like Jesus. He also doesn't want to have holes in his hand. Even though is is young, he really seems to understand who God is and the stories of the Bible.

It was a very precious time sitting with my nephew and discussing our Lord. I pray for him and his sister all the time to grow up in the ways of the Lord, and to love and follow Him from a young age. My job as an aunt will be to pray for them, speak with them, and help their mom and dad and grandparents as we all train them up in the ways of the Lord.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's cold...so eat some soup!

Saturday afternoon my sister decided she wanted to cook. She wasn't exactly sure what, but knew she wanted a stew or soup. So, she grabbed some old magazines, one of my cookbooks, and the computer. She settled on three different recipes (all from Foodnetwork.com), and left it up to me to choose. I read over, and picked the one below. Turned out to be THE BEST stew I have ever had I think. She did a fantastic job, which...if you know my family...is impressive. My sister does well when she cooks, but she's definitely not know as the family chef! (HEART YOU!)

She also asked me not to help out because she was afraid I would take the cooking over, and she really wanted to make something. I was fine by this because last time I was home, I spent a good part of my time on my feet in the kitchen. I did have the idea to add cheddar biscuits to the meal, and was in charge of that while my sis made the main course. Here's what we had:

Sausage-and-Vegetable Stew
Adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces kielbasa, cut into small chunks (or another link sausage)
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
14 ounces small red-skinned or new potatoes (6 to 8), quartered
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
3/4 cup sour cream

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and glistening, about 6 minutes. Add the paprika and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the oil turns deep red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and cook until just toasted, 30 more seconds. Immediately whisk in 4 cups water. Add the kielbasa, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with pepper.

Combine about half of the parsley with the sour cream in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the remaining parsley, a dollop of herbed sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.

Cheddar Biscuits
(Like from Red Lobster)

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¾ cup cold whole milk
4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Brush on Top:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
pinch salt

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don't want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don't over mix.
3. Drop approximately ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
5. When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Monday, January 17, 2011

CRAFT TIME: Apron rack

Sometime last year I read in a magazine (Good Housekeeping or Better Homes and Gardens) about building your own apron rack out of wooden spoons. I thought this was a fantastic idea because I have more than your average number of aprons. I shared the idea with my sister (who was looking for a way to display some aprons that belonged to our great-grandmother), and she ended up gifting the craft project to me for my birthday.

Here's how it went...

My sister began the project by drilling holes in the wooden plaques she purchased. These wooden boards are cheap, and be purchase at craft stores such as Hobby Lobby or Michael's.

She then purchased wooden spoons and cut them off for the hooks.

I then stained the boards and a few of the spoons, and gave them a quick sanding job.


Next, it was time to assemble the pieces. I had to nail picture hangers on the back of the board so they would be anchored to the wall.


I then took wood glue, squeezed it in each hole, applied a little glue to the ends of the spoons, and place them in. I then wiped off any excess glue that came out of the hole.

I then took a flame and burned the end of a couple of the spoons in order to given them a worn, used look.

Then you have to let the glue dry for 24 hours....

Finally, I hung them on the wall in my dining area and placed my apron collection on them.

They add a very "country" feel to my kitchen/dining area. It is laid back, and lived in. The wood doesn't stand out from the brick walls as much as I had hoped, so maybe one day I'll paint them. But I think it turned out to be a pretty cute project, and really easy and cheap to do.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

SNOW DAY!!!!

So last weekend in my town it was warm and we had a tornado. I wasn't here for it because I was in sunny, beautiful Florida at our bowl game, but I did see the remnants of it when I got home. We returned from Florida on Sunday and found the temperature dropped from the day before. The week started out pretty chilly, but then warmed back up by mid-week. This weekend it snowed and we missed a day of work. By next week, its predicted that we will be back into the 50's, which is the average for us this time of year.

This absurdity is what we call normal weather in the South. It may be 60 one day and 25 the next. That is just how we roll! After 30 years of the wild and wacky, its just not news to me to have such...flexibility...in our weather.

Since we don't get snow very often, people get a little too excited when it happens. Typically, the entire city/area/state shuts down. My family lives 2 hours south of me, and they closed the doors to their schools and offices with barely any ice or snow. We did get around 2 inches (I think) at my house, and enjoyed a nice Monday off to watch TV and play. There is always a mad rush to the grocery store to buy bread and milk. I'm really not sure what that will do for you, but okay. You have to have bread, milk and batteries.

People also get really excited about playing in very little snow. Its because we never see it! I mean...I have to admit I made three snowmen yesterday and had a snowball fight with my friends! And the night it started falling, I got up about 4 different times before 1 a.m. to see how much accumulation we had. We don't get snow often, and its fun when we do!

In an effort to enjoy the little snow we had yesterday, my friend invited me to an outing with her family and their friends. We went to an open field in an undisclosed location in town and rode around in tubes and a truckbed pulled by 4-wheelers. It really was so much fun! I wasn't brave enough to ride in the tube, but I did ride on the truckbed-sleigh, and it was a blast! I have to admit I'm a little sore today because my body isn't used to being bumped and rolled around, but it sure was fun!

Below is a short video from our sledding adventure. It was great!

video

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hey, Sheri....WAKE UP!!!!

I will start this blog off by saying I am not awake right now. Not at all. In fact, I am not quite sure when I have been this tired. Not in a while. But its Thursday, which means the weekend is only 15 working hours away. I think my busy Christmas caught up with me yesterday.

I used to never eat breakfast. I just didn't see the point. I wasn't too hungry in the morning, and why not just wait until lunch. That was until a friend pointed out the benefits of starting your day with a healthy meal. It jump starts your metabolism, helps you wake up, and provides nutrients (if you eat right) that you need in the day. So then I became a breakfast person.

I am not a morning person, by any means. Which means I really, really hate to wake up and get out of bed. In fact, I set three alarms to go off at three different times. Today I slept through the first two and must have snoozed the third in my sleep a few times. This is not out of the ordinary for me. I finally gained consciousness around 7:10 or so...way later than normal. This is really not out of the ordinary either.

Since I am so hard to wake up, and since I am usually not chipper for the first....few....hours, then I am always running late to work. I mean, let's be honest. I just am. That also means I need something quick that I can eat in the car or at my desk. In an effort to be healthy, I decided smoothies would be my option for the next few days. I can make it the night before, pop it in the fridge, and then grab it on my way out of the door. It ended up being quite a delicious breakfast, that I paired with a piece of fruit, and I believe I might have a winner for my morning start.

"Wake up Sheri" Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 fresh banana (Frozen tends to be too hard to blend.)
6-7 frozen strawberries
1-8 oz. cup of fat free Greek yogurt (I used vanilla)

Directions: Throw it all in a blender and press puree. Easy as that!

Like I said, I make these the night before since I'm always running late. I just put it in the fridge in a to-go cup, and grab it as I leave. I also will try to eat an apple or other piece of fruit about an hour or so after I drink the smoothie. Its a great, healthy way to start your day. I also bought a bag of frozen mango, strawberry and pineapple that I am going to mix with vanilla yogurt. Might even try a berry mix with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Yum-o!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!


Its the third day of 2011, and I've probably got one of the biggest smiles on my face ever! You know why? Pay attention very closely to my pic! : ) My 2011 started off in sunny Florida watching my employer and alma mater completely pulverize one of the biggest names in football! We handed Michigan their worst bowl game loss in history, and it felt great being a part of it with family and friends!

My two week Christmas break was busy and fun. I was out of town for 11 of my 16 days off, so needless to say, I have fallen behind on a lot of things! Blogging will resume shortly, with a full recap of Christmas creations, celebrations and vacations. Until then....

May 2011 bring you and your family many blessings and the most wonderful year ever!