Friday, October 31, 2014

Orange Garlic Rice




Happy Halloween! I was hoping to take Lindsey out for some trick or treating to get to know our neighborhood a little better tonight, but her Sock Monkey costume is still packed away over at Kenneth's grandmother's house. Below is Lindsey in her costume a couple months ago when we took some pictures, and the other two are her dressed up at her very first Halloween a year ago (she was 1 1/2 months old) - she had 2 costumes, a Baby Lady Bug and a Sweet Pea in a Pod. :)



We are still getting settled into our new house and I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking yet; today actually marks 1 full week in Lilburn! So far I have made a Dinner A'Fare meal (the chicken you see pictured above), some chili (for a Chili Cook-Off we had at work on Thursday), and stove top meatballs and sweet n sour sauce (that didn't come out the way I wanted it to because I was winging the recipe to use what I had available in the pantry). That is all the cooking I've done. I decided when I was fixing the Dinner A'Fare chicken the other night that I could at least "fix-up" some flavored rice to go with it and based on the flavors in the sauce (it was Orange Chicken) I went with orange marmalade, soy, and some minced garlic. The result was very yummy! It wasn't super flavorful, just enough to complement the flavors in the chicken since there wasn't a bunch of sauce to pour over the rice.

We all really enjoyed this, and I will DEFINITELY be making my rice like this in the future to accompany Asian-flavored dishes! I think I would add some ginger next time as well.

I have to figure out the new house and where the best locations are for taking pictures and getting some decent natural light. Our house is surrounded by trees, so it's hard to get good natural light when you're inside - but I think taking things onto the front porch is a good option for now until I get settled. I'm hoping to make the extra bedroom upstairs my new photo studio (read grown-up play room), and am looking forward to getting my active 13 month old captured in some photo shoots soon - it's been awhile since I have had the chance to do that with her so maybe after we finish getting everything over from the other house (hopefully this weekend - fingers crossed), I can think about working on the photo room!

Orange Garlic Rice

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice (rinsed)
3 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 TBS minced garlic (jarred)
2 TBS orange marmalade

1 - 2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce

Directions
  1. Place uncooked rice, water, and chicken bouillon cube in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, or until most of the water has been absorbed and rice is getting tender.
  2. Add in the garlic, orange marmalade, and soy sauce (to taste) and continue cooking until rice is tender. Adjust seasonings to taste.




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moving - Progress So Far

Friday, October 24th - Sunday, October 26th Progress in Pictures


Packing progress at the Hiram house (which looks a WHOLE lot emptier than this now - I'll have to take some pics when we're there this weekend):



New House

The first two pictures are loading up at the old house on the morning of Friday, October 24th and heading to closing, and then the last two pictures are after closing with tons of paperwork and keys in hand, pulling into our new driveway with the first load of "STUFF". :)




 Kitchen



Kent - super helper extraordinaire! Love this kiddo!


Play Room


Lindsey is hanging out in her new space.

This room is the most "done" of any of them so far I think. Still missing a piece of her play mat, and haven't filled the drawers in the entertainment center, but Lindsey's been having fun making a mess in here!

Living Room


Dining Room


Exterior - FRONT



 Exterior - BACK


 The view / cul-de-sac at the top of the driveway:

We're getting there, one load at a time, one room at a time, one box at a time!



Monday, October 27, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Potato and Corn Chowder


For the month of October's Secret Recipe Club I received Melissa's fantastic blog "Fried Ice and Donut Holes"; see her "About Me" for the full explanation on the blog name which came from her grandpa. My grandpa used to say "Just a little bit for flavor" when it came to scooping up a little of each of the dishes that were passed around at our family meal times. Reading about the phrase that has stuck with Melissa over the years reminded me of all those times I heard my grandpa say those words, which have stuck with me, at a family gathering. Melissa is a teacher who loves her job but says that baking and cooking are her passion - I think a lot of us will find that phrase resonates with us! I am an Executive Admin at Emory University by day, but I spend much of my days, nights, and weekends either dreaming about, pinning about, posting about, or making something yummy (hopefully!) to share with my family.

I hope you will take a moment to visit the  Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it's a wonderful group of bloggers who are given a "secret" assignment of someone else's blog each month and our assignment is to pick ANYTHING from their site to make and post about on our designated reveal day! I have been a part of SRC for quite awhile now and LOVE the opportunity to get to know another blogger a little better each month by spending time perusing their blog, reading through their recipes and posts, and finding something perfect for my family from what they've shared.

Melissa's blog is full of an incredible variety of recipes to enjoy - you will easily find something delicious to make and enjoy at Fried Ice and Donut Holes. There are quite a few meatless / vegetarian dishes in addition to decadent desserts, baked goods, drinks, soup, chicken, pasta, etc. The list goes on and on! I started making my "wish-list" as I was browsing, and a few of the recipes I snagged to try include: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies, Apple Cranberry Crisp, Three Minute Peanut Butter Fudge, Chewy Cocoa Brownies, Roast Beef, Pepper and Cheddar Sandwiches, Bennigan's Potato Soup, Roasted Garlic Mac N Cheese, Crispy Avocado BLT Salad... are you getting hungry yet?!

What I ended up making this month is the PERFECT Corn and Potato Chowder, shared below. I cannot say how delicious this soup was. My son absolutely fell in love with it. He claimed all of the leftovers for lunch the very next day (and he ate 2 1/2 bowls of it at dinner!) Such a perfect, simple, and delicious dinner with a loaf of crusty baked bread. The bacon topping is a wonderful addition - you could even sprinkle on a little cheese if you wanted! I think it is fantastic as is - though my husband did say the flavor of thyme was a little too strong for him. You can definitely taste it on the back of your tongue, but I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to this creamy, comforting, perfect for fall soup.

Corn and Potato Chowder from Fried Ice and Donut Holes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt
Black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 2 tsp Gourmet Garden chunky garlic)
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups vegetable broth
2 pounds potatoes, diced
4 carrots, diced into thin rounds
2 cups corn kernels (I used 2 large cobs)
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. In a large cast iron or non stick skillet cook the bacon until slightly crispy, drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large soup pot. Add the diced onion and carrots and season with salt and pepper, cook until onion is tender (about 10 minutes). Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the flour until blended in.
  3. Add in the broth and potatoes, Cover and bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  4. Add in the corn, the half and half, and season the soup with thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of cayenne pepper (if desired).
  5. Simmer about 5 more minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  6. Meanwhile, dice the bacon (rough chopped) and place in a small bowl to top the soup with.
  7. Use an immersion blended to blend about half of the chunks of potato and carrots into a smoother texture (if you do not have an immersion blender, transfer about half of the mixture to a blender, cover tightly and blend until smooth, then add back into soup pot and stir to combine).
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with crumbled bacon.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Italian Cheesy Pull Bread




I needed some cheesy bread to go with an Italian flavored meal a little while ago and had bought a little 12-oz loaf of bread at the grocery store on sale that I needed to use. We love cheesy garlic bread, and I've done a couple variations of pull bread before (see Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull Bread here, and Cheesy Pull Apart Bread here) and I decided to combine the two for an Italian version of pull bread... it is ridiculous and delicious. It was really hard to not hoard the whole thing for myself and just eat that for dinner. We love garlic, so there is quite a bit in this recipe - reduce the quantity if you're not big fans like we are! :) You could sprinkle on some grated parm too, for a yummy finishing touch if you'd like!

My hubby and son wanted me to add some bacon crumbles too, but I thought that wouldn't go with the meal very well, so left them off, but of course bacon does go beautifully with "crack bread", so add some if you're feeling adventurous!

I only know this didn't last very long in our house, and we all had to exert some will power to put at least a small portion of this in the refrigerator after dinner, instead of in our bellies.



Italian Cheesy Pull Bread

Ingredients
1 12-oz loaf bread (sourdough, Italian, etc.)
1/2 stick (4 TBS) butter
1 TBS minced garlic
3 tsp garlic powder
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions into small squares (see photos for reference). Do not cut through to the bottom crust.
  3. Place the loaf of bread atop a large piece of foil (large enough to wrap all the way around.)  
  4. Gently stuff cheese into all the cracks (I find it seems to work best to go down the cuts that are lengthwise only, and not try to go both directions, the bread seems less likely to rip this way).
  5. Once bread is stuffed with cheese, melt butter in the microwave and add in the garlic, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and pour over the stuffed bread. 
  6. Secure the foil around the loaf and place on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then open foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.


I love cheese, and bread, and Italian cheesy bread, and pull bread, so this one was a no-brainer!!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

#PumpkinWeek - Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins



Hi and welcome to day 6 and the end of #PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day, which is tomorrow! 17 Food Bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder. Check back over the past week of posts for all of the #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

This post is a first for me - because I am typing it from Starbucks! Why? - not just because they make super yummy peppermint mochas and pumpkin bread (yes, I am eating pumpkin bread at Starbucks despite the past couple weeks of pumpkin baked goods that have been gracing my home!) I am here because I have no internet at home. Why do I have no internet at home? Because we are now the proud owner (GULP) of TWO homes and after closing on Friday morning we took a car and truck load of boxes to the new house and that included our big TV and most of the living room electronics to get internet / cable set up there. That included the wi-fi router. I wasn't thinking about that fact when I was planning to come home after our day of unpacking to our other house and get this post ready to go live for Saturday am! Oops.

Oh well - after our day it was kind of a nice excuse to get out of the house by myself, have some quiet time at Starbucks, and sip a nice cup of coffee while I worked on finishing this post! Thank you for joining us all for the past week of pumpkin goodies! I am sad the week is already over - I have LOVED the "excuse" to fill my kitchen with the scents of pumpkin goodies - from slow cooker butter to scones and cookies. They are all winners in my book and I am so glad I got to try them all out and add some new recipes to my fall baking repertoire!

Enjoy this final, delicious pumpkin recipe for the week - these are super tasty little bites. We all really enjoyed these for a breakfast treat and snack. My 13 month old liked these a lot - I saved some without the cinnamon sugar topping for her. And then my husband gave her two with the sugar topping. Sigh.

These are perfect bite sized treats, tender, flavorful, sweet, and lightly spiced. Like most of the pumpkin muffins I make, these were a little on the dense side in that they didn't rise much during baking and most had somewhat misshapen tops - not the perfectly rounded domes you often get on lighter batters. The batter was fairly thick, and I wondered if I'd thinned it some if they would have been a little on the lighter side. I may try that next time and see if it makes a difference. Regardless of their appearance, their taste and texture were very nice and I look forward to enjoying these again!


Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes from today:
Pumpkin Pie Dip by Love and Confections
Pumpkin Pye - that's Pie with a Rye Crust by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Caramel Pumpkin Torte by Lady Behind The Curtain
Pumpkin Loaf by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Pumpkin Pie Martini by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins by Making Miracles
 
Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients

Mini Muffins
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk

Cinnamon Sugar Coating
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a mini muffin baking tray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (I used Cinnamon Plus), and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the melted butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and milk, Blend well until smooth and combined.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring slowly and only mixing just until ingredients are combined.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared mini muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 11 - 12 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Set muffins on a cooling rack to cool for about 10 - 15 minutes and prepare the cinnamon sugar topping by combining the 1/2 cup sugar with 2 TBS cinnamon in a pie plate or shallow bowl. When muffins have mostly cooled, but are still warm melt the 1/4 cup butter in another bowl. Dip the tops of the muffins in the melted butter and then roll gently in the cinnamon sugar.
  8. Only add the topping to the muffins you intend to eat that day, otherwise they can get soggy when stored.