Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blackened Salmon

Blackened salmon.  Now those are words I never thought I'd type on the blog.  I've been getting adventurous lately in trying to find new ways to make salmon...well, not taste like...salmon.  Blackening salmon HAS WON THE CONTEST.  Not only did I not hate this, I loved it.  Like really, truly loved it.  

If you don't like salmon, try this.  I swear you will love it.  Here's the recipe:

2 Skinless, Boneless Salmon Fillets 
Blackening Spice (you can find this in the spice aisle)
2 Tbs of Canola Oil 

Pour blackening spice onto a plate.  Press each side of the salmon into the seasoning and set aside. Add oil and heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes or until it starts to smoke.   Add seasoned salmon carefully to the hot pan and turn heat down to medium.  DO NOT TOUCH THE FISH for at least 2 minutes.  Check the fish.  It should have formed a nice black crust.   Flip the fish and cook for another 2 minutes.   Serve immediately.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Quiche

I know it's a bloggerly thing to love fall.  Pumpkin spice everything, autumn wreaths, babies in pumpkins.  But as much as I enjoy fall (and I really do!), I'll always love summer more.  Maybe I'm feeling especially nostalgic for summer this year because I had a long wonderful chunk of time off with Will or maybe it's just because I've heard that the Farmer's Almanac is calling for a brutal winter around here.  Either way, I'm clinging to the last bits of summer wherever possible and this time, it comes in the form of late-season tomatoes.

I made up a quiche late last night (hence the lack of in-progress shots) using some beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  It was very easy and turned out super tasty.

Here's what I used:

1 pie crust (I used store bought.  Sorry, Mom)
3 medium tomatoes
4 eggs
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup half & half
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence

I preheated the oven to 350, then rolled out my crust into a pie plate.  I still have yet to buy a real quiche dish from last time I made one but a pie plate worked just fine.  I took about a third of the cheese and sprinkled across the bottom of the crust, then added a layer of tomatoes, followed by more cheese, more tomatoes, and then the last of the cheese, all the while sprinkling in a little salt, pepper, & herbes de provence.  In a separate bowl, I whisked the eggs together with the half & half, then poured it all evenly over the tomatoes & cheese and baked the quiche for 50 minutes.

It reheated beautifully the next day and was a hit with Jesse & my mother.  Served with a salad, a small slice of this tasty quiche made a perfect lunch that tasted like summer, even though the leaves are all almost down outside.

Enjoy and stay summery hungry!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Low Calorie Low Carb Chili

Low calorie, super easy to make chili you say?  YES.  Low calorie chili that's not only delicious, spicy, and satisfying, but will leave you full for hours.  OH, it's also low carb.  I swear.  You know I would never post anything that wasn't hungry approved. 

I usually eat it plain, but if you miss all of the yummy toppings, use only a little extra sharp cheddar. With extra sharp, you will need much less because it is so flavorful.  Instead of full fat sour cream, use a dollop of Greek yogurt.  SOOOO GOOD.

It's packed with extra lean ground turkey, eggplant and spinach.  Did I mention that Charlie not only loves this, but made a big batch of this for himself this weekend?  The proof is in the pudding chili. 

I make this chili with Rick BaylessChipotle Garlic Skillet Sauce.  rarely use premade stuff.  But Rick Bayless is the man.  And it's all natural, with no preservatives with ingredients I can not only stand behind, but pronounce.  And Rick Bayless waved to me from his restaurant window in Chicago.  OKAY?!  Seriously though, he basically infuses roasted tomatoes with amazing flavors - saving me time and effort.  

Here are the nutrition facts for 1.5 Cup serving.  Not too bad.  Not too bad at all. 

Now for the recipe!  This is an extra big batch.  We usually make this on Sundays and eat it throughout the week.  You can easily half it for a smaller batch.

4 Large Purple Eggplants, peeled and diced 
1 Cup of No Salt Added Chicken Stock 
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
4 Extra Lean (99% Fat Free) Raw Ground Turkey (4, 20 oz packages)
1 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbs of Cumin 
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped 
4 Packages of Rick Bayless' Chipotle Garlic Skillet Sauce 
4 Packages of Yellow Cherry Tomatoes 
6 Packages of Baby Spinach
2 Large Bunches of Green Onions, chopped 

Spray extra large pan with olive oil cooking spray and pre heat over medium heat.  Add diced eggplant and salt.  Stir and raise heat to medium high.  Stir every 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cover, stirring until eggplant has reduced for 50%.   Add raw turkey, red pepper flakes and cumin.  Stir turkey into the eggplant, then let it rest and stir every 3 minutes.  If turkey sticks, add a little more stock. Once turkey is cooked, add garlic.  Stir.  Add Rick Bayless' Chipotle Garlic Skillet Sauce.  Throw in cherry tomatoes.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add baby spinach, stir into chili.  Add the chopped green onions and stir.  Serve and ENJOY.

Stay hungry!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Custom Photo Thank You Cards (or My First Dance with Shutterfly)

Normally I'm not into photo thank yous.  I really enjoy writing out thank you notes for gifts and thoughtful acts but I've never made custom ones before - generally store bought notecards (paired with some heartfelt words) do the trick just fine.  But I broke my own rule when thanking guests for coming to the christening last week.  It's just because my kid is so cute.  I couldn't help sharing his smiley face with all of the people who joined us.  I just couldn't help it:

If I buy photo prints (which is fairly rare), I usually go with Snapfish just because I've had an account with them since my college days.  They were my first choice when looking for photo thank you notes online but I found their selection to be pretty cheesy.  I just wanted something simple but couldn't find a very basic option.  Then I switched over to  They had plenty of simple and pretty choices but all seemed to be priced individually... at $5.99 a card. The cards were nice, for sure, but I just used Vanguard's online calculator recently and found out that the cost of a 4 year education at Bates in twenty years is estimated to be just under $700k.  Now isn't the time to go nuts on over the top thank you notes.  Moving on...

I've never used Shutterfly before but decided to check it out.  I found these cards (and some similarly simple ones) easily and customized them quickly to be exactly what I had in mind.

Shutterfly Thank You Cards

I ordered them on Monday and they arrived yesterday afternoon (I upgraded to free expedited shipping with a coupon I found on Retail Me Not).  The only thing that I thought was weird was that you can't order exactly as many as you'd like - 12 is the lowest option of cards but then it jumps up to a pack of 25.  Luckily for us, I needed exactly 12 so that's what I went with.  

Thanks, Shutterfly, for making nice (& reasonably priced) custom cards that I'm excited to send out (here's the link for all of their thank yous)!  I guess this is the dawn of a new era for a thank you enthusiast like me...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lemon Dill Quinoa Salad

I have an unhealthy obsession with quinoa.  Or maybe I should say healthy?  I love the stuff.  It's filling, yet light, packed with protein, and gives you that carb "fix" without all of the poof and guilt.  Yay, yay, yay...and yay. 

I really like fish, but Charlie does not.  So, with two fish friendly girl friends coming over for dinner on Friday, I thought I'd get adventurous.  I ended up making blackened salmon with this lemon dill quinoa salad.  It was delish.

The toasted slivered almonds added the perfect buttery crunch.

Here's the recipe:

1 Cup of Quinoa 
2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock (or water) 
Zest from 1 Lemon 
1/4 Cup of Slivered Almonds, Toasted 
2 Tbs of Lemon Juice 
2 Tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
3 Tbs of Fresh Dill, Chopped 
Salt to Taste 

Cook the quinoa per the box instructions with either water or chicken stock for extra flavor.  Toast the slivered almonds in a frying pan over low-medium heat with a little butter.  Once quinoa is cooked, toss with all of the ingredients.  Cool or serve immediately.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Different Kind of Guest Book

When planning our wedding, I decided I didn't want a traditional guestbook but this was in the pre-Pinterest days so I didn't  have a bajillion different ideas laid out for me.  After some brainstorming, I decided to get some small pieces of paper in our colors, leave out some pens, and see what people came up with.  I put together some brief instructions, popped them into a frame (fun fact: this frame now hosts a map of Colorado on our map wall), and left everything on a table that guests passed coming into the wedding:

A few weeks after the wedding, I bought a book that held a small photo in front...

...and had plenty of blank pages inside for the kind wedding notes mixed with candid photos from the wedding...

I hate to play favorites with all of these thoughtful and sweet notes, but Jesse and I cracked up when we saw this one, from one of my Bates friends, which simply reads "Yo Yo Yo Congrats":

It was quick to assemble the photos and notes afterwards and turned out to be a simple way to keep all of these well-wishes in one place.  The book now lives either tucked away on a bookshelf in the living room or out on the coffee table.  I love how it turned out and I could spend all afternoon reading and re-reading all of the messages from our friends and family.

What did you do for a wedding guest book?  Have any memorable wedding messages (or guests)?  Let us know!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cheese Dips for Tailgating

Ah, cheese.  How I love thee.  I really love cheese.  Everything about it.  It's comforting and just all forms.  I've never met a cheese I didn't like.  Grilled, melted, cold, off the block, and of course mixed with other amazing ingredients, too.  We are tailgating this weekend and I'm thinking about trying one of these.  What do you guys think?

Dude, check out Life's Ambrosia's Cheesy Jalapeno Dip with Tater Tot Crust.  Hello little love.

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip by Closet Cooking.  Charlie wouldn't touch this but I would hurt this thing.

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Zesty Bacon Cheese Dip posted on  Zesty = happy.

Zesty Bacon Cheese Dip - So good, hot or cold

Beer Cheese Spread posted by Taste of Home.  This would be another great one for tailgating - you can serve it cold!  And it already has beer it in!  Score!

Beer Dip Recipe

Pimento Cheese Spread by Pine Gate Road.  LOVE pimento cheese spread.  Perfect dip to make ahead of time and serve from your trunk.

Southern style pimento cheese dip — a recipe by pinegate road - dig in

Can't wait to tailgate this weekend! Stay hungry!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bumblebee Doorknocker

I logged into Pinterest last night and the first thing that popped up was this pretty teal door with a gold bumblebee door knocker:

I want!  I need!  The perfect front door touch for burgeoning beekeepers like us!  Though the link on Pinterest sent me back to the HGTV main site, a quick internet search turned this up:

Do I really need a $125 door knocker?  Probably not.  My front door is obscured by a screen & used fairly infrequently (we mostly come in and out from the mudroom), but a girl can dream.

Speaking of bees, I also came across this family's costume when searching for Halloween ideas for us.  I LOVE IT!

Stay busy & stay homey!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Creative Halloween Desserts

Can you guys believe that Halloween is only a few weeks away?  I can't believe it.  Fall seems to move quicker than Summer.  Well...almost.  Anyway, here are a few of my favorite Halloween desserts that I stumbled upon.  I think these are SO creative and would make for a super fun Halloween dessert spread.  The witch finger cookies totally freak me out.

Dracula's Dentures by the Girl Who Ate Everything.

Creepy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Hungry Happenings.

Candy Corn Bundt Cake by A Baker's House.

Monster Cupcakes by Whipped.

Witch Finger Cookies by Sweetest Kitchen.


Stay Hungry!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Creamy Blackened Chicken Pasta

You guys are going to be so impressed with me.  Cause I'm even impressed with me.  This pasta dish came out SOOOO amazing.  Spicy, creamy, decadently rich...I could write poems about this thing.


You can use any chicken you want.  I'm a big fan of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  The darker meat is just WAY more flavorful than white meat.  Get a Cajun seasoning of your liking and HEAVILY season the chicken.  Don't be scared...the seasoning is what's going to make the crust. 

Heat up a skillet (cast iron works great) with 3 Tbs of Olive oil and 2 Tbs of butter.  Let the skillet heat on HIGH until the oil and butter are completely melted and glistening but before the butter begins to burn - about 4-5 minutes. Sear the chicken on high for 4-5 minutes per side. This is what you want...a nice blackened crust.

While the chicken is searing/blackening, cut bell pepper strips.  I like blending yellow, orange and red peppers for a variety of color.

I must have blacked out halfway through the cooking process because I just stopped taking pictures.  I was probably too busy eating.  

 Anyway, here's the recipe:
1 Lbs of Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 Lbs of Bow tie Pasta
3 Bell Peppers, Seeded and Julienned
4 Large Green Onions, Chopped
1/4 Cup of Cajun Seasoning, plus 1 Tsp for seasoning the sauce
3 Tbs of Olive Oil
2 Tbs of Butter
3 Cups of Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup of White Wine
2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
Heat up butter and olive oil in a skillet over high heat until it begins to glisten, about 4-5 minutes.  Season the chicken heavily with Cajun seasoning.  Sear chicken on each side for 4-5 minutes, set aside.  Once the chicken is completed, deglaze the pan with some white wine and simmer, scraping the bottom to release all the yummy bits.  Strain the remaining juice/oil/butter in a pan to remove any burnt bits. Add the juice back to the pan and add 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.  Saute for 2-3 minutes then add 3 cups of heavy cream.  Simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until cream begins to thicken and reduce a bit.  This is not an alfredo sauce - it's going to be more of a thinner cream sauce.  Cook pasta to package instructions in seasoned water, drain. Add the additional Cajun seasoning to taste to the sauce and then add pasta, peppers, green onions.  Toss and then plate. Chop up the blacked chicken and top the pasta before serving.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Paper from Paperless Post

I've been receiving Paperless Post invites in my email for a few years now but had never actually used it myself to organize an event.  As we plan baby Will's baptism, I thought it was the perfect time to give it a shot.  I reviewed a ton of samples, chose an invite, put in my information, and then input email addresses.  Here's the preview Paperless Post gave me of my online invites:

I love the design and the chapel happens to look just like the little country church we're baptizing Will in.  Ninety-five percent of our guests have email access, so this online invitation works perfectly, but what about guests like my grandfather, who is one hundred percent not online?  I could obviously have just called him up and given him the details, but I liked the idea of him getting some mail for this special occasion for our family.

Luckily, Paperless Post has recently introduced paper versions of some online cards and I was able to order 10 paper invitations to send to my offline loved ones.  I was so excited when they showed up in my mailbox.

Looking just like the online invites and printed on beautiful, thick paper.

This worked out as the best of both worlds for me - all the conveniences of online invites paired with good, old fashioned snail mail.  I definitely will be pasting one of these paper invites into Will's baby book!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Charlie!

Today is Charlie and my 2nd anniversary.  Last year was crazier than the first year.  We've packed a lot in...well, eating wise.  We enjoyed a nice breakfast in Madrid, we ate everything in sight in Amsterdam, and continue to eat ourselves silly in Chicago.  We finally built our roof deck and have found ourselves in the midst of two very busy and fulfilling careers.  We've seen best friends say "I do" and said goodbye to my dear Nonnie Connie. We've joined a new church and have even started thinking about parenthood.  Shhh, don't tell Charlie I said that.

 I love our anniversary.  I love it because it's another milestone and another point in time to stop and say, man, I'm crazy about my husband.  And I just happen to know he's crazy about me too.

We have big plans.  We have plans to see more of the world, more of Chicago, and to enjoy our sleepy weekends where we do a whole not of nothing except hang out with each other.

I love you Charlie.  Happy 2nd, anniversary. <3