Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All About Birdie

The day we brought her home.

First bath.
so cuddly.

first trip to the beach.

Happy Birthday!

Naptime. Rabbit foot.

Pine Straw Face

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday--Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Easiest weeknight dinner ever. Especially if you use a deli rotisserie chicken (Publix "Mojo" is my fave!). I served it with a side salad with a honey-lime dressing--recipe is below.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

serves 4-6

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
One 4 oz. can Rotel, drained
8-in. flour tortillas
2 cups finely shredded cooked chicken (I used the whole chicken)
2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9-in. pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour. Cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a paste. Whisk in the broth and milk and stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Rotel.
3. Place a tortilla in the pie pan and top with a few Tbsp of the sauce, spreading to cover, a handful of chicken, and then cheese. Repeat until you've filled the pie pan, and top the whole stack with cheese. Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

Honey-Lime Dressing

1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. chopped jalapeno pepper

*The original recipe only called for 2 Tbsp honey, but I thought it needed to be sweeter. So, you might want to try 2 to begin with, and add the extra if you agree with me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's A Wrap

When I was getting married, my mother-in-law wrapped some of my shower gifts in pretty kitchen towels instead of using wrapping paper. I thought it was such a clever idea, because the "wrapping paper" is also a usable gift. So, today I went to one my BFF's wedding shower, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use this idea. First I bought Kelsey some fun cook books: Cocktails, Tapas, Salads, and Entrees for a Crowd...everything she needs for a night of entertaining. Then I found a pretty black and white damask apron to go with the cookbooks. I wrapped all of this up using a pretty kitchen towel from World Market. It was a hit! Everyone loved the idea.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Self-Esteem Booster

 One of the benefits of teaching...your students usually do a good job of making you feel good about yourself! One of my sweet students gave me this note this week. Ignore the misspellings.
Yes, this angel did quote Bruno Mars. Love it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Easy Baked Spaghetti

Tasty Tuesday

Nothing fancy about this one, but amazingly good. My mother-in-law gave me this recipe, and ever since then, it's the ONLY way I've made spaghetti. The usual way just seems too boring, now. You certainly can make adjustments to this...add veggies, meatless, whatever. You could make your own marinara, but why? The point of this recipe is to be easy and quick. And when there are jarred marinara sauces out there with all-natural ingredients, I just don't see the point!

Baked Spaghetti
serves 6-8
1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
1 jar Marinara (I like Barilla)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 cups (about 1/2 a box) cooked angel hair pasta
1 8 oz. package mozzarella, sliced
Shredded mozzarella
1 small onion, chopped fine (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Saute onions (if using), and brown the ground beef, or sausage. Combine the cooked pasta, marinara, Parmesan, and meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Layer 1/2 of the pasta mixture in a 13 x 9 dish. Top with the sliced mozzarella.  Add remaining pasta, and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella. Cook for 20 minutes, and let set before serving. 
Freezes well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Idea of Sunday Funday

Since Andy was out of town last night (in dirty myrtle for a bachelor party), Birdie and I spent the night at my parents' house. I have to admit, it was kind of nice to wake up in my old room with a pot of coffee already brewed by my momma.
Today, we met my brother, sister-in-law, and niece at a place in Summerville, Montreaux, for brunch. Everything was delicious! Plus, there was a $2 build-your-own bloody mary bar.

First, I enjoyed my Lucy.

Who enjoyed walking...

and hanging out with her momma.

and lemons.

Then, I enjoyed one of these...

Followed by a bloody mary and Crab Cake Eggs Benedict

The rest of the Sunday Funday was spent being lazy with Andy and Birdie, and then a trip to our favorite Mexican place, Zia, for a shrimp quesadilla and a frozen screwdriver. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spiced Oven Carnitas with Tomato, Corn, & Avocado Salad

I couldn't wait until next Tuesday to post about these pulled pork tacos. If you are a Mexican food lover, like myself, you will LOVE this recipe! The best part is you let the pork cook for over 2 hours, which gives you time to relax....or in my case, clean the house for friends coming in town. I didn't cook the pork for the full 2 1/2 hours. I probably pulled it out about 15-20 minutes early, and it was fall off the bone tender. Serve them with guacamole, diced fresh jalapenos, and diced onions.  Perfect meal for a crowd....or leftovers.

Spiced Oven Carnitas
serves 8
5 to 6 pound pork butt roast (shoulder roast)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. all spice
4 sprigs fresh oregano (I used dried)
6 cloves garlic, halved
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. white wine

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut the pork roast into 3 or 4 evenly sized pieces. Pat them dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the pork pieces, one at a time, for several minutes on each side, until they are well browned. Remove from the heat.

2. Nestle the pork pieces back in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, cumin, and allspice. Tuck the oregano sprigs and garlic cloves between the pieces, and sprinkle in the lemon and orange zests. Pour in the juices and the wine.

3. Cover and bake for about 2 1/2 hours. When the pork is extremely tender, take it out of the oven and let it rest, still covered, for about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and shred with 2 forks. Serve hot.

Corn, Tomato, & Avocado Salad
serves 4-6

2 cups cooked corn, fresh or frozen
1 avocado, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. grated lime zest
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

1. Combine the corn, avocado, tomatoes, and onion in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in another small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss gently to mix.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grilled Salmon

Tasty Tuesday

Okay, so I tried to make couscous for the first I liked it before I added the lemon juice and all the herbs. I'll definitely give it another shot, but with a different recipe. If you want to try your hand at it, it's a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and you can find it here. It has great reviews, so I obviously did something wrong.

Anyway, what I will share with you is my favorite way of preparing salmon. We have salmon about once a week, and this is by far the easiest and most delicious way. It's Andy's favorite.

Grilled Salmon

salmon filets
olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring salmon to room temperature before grilling. Preheat oven to 450. Set a large oven-proof grill pan over low heat for 1 minute. Brush the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high. Place salmon, skin side up, on the grill pan. Cook until there are grill marks, about 3 minutes. To make cross-hatched grill marks, reposition the filets and cook 2 minutes more. Flip the salmon and transfer the grill pan to the oven. Continue cooking the fish in the oven:
2-3 minutes for pink inside
5 minutes for medium
7 minutes well done

*I hate over-cooked fish..well over-cooked anything really. Usually 3 minutes in the oven is perfectly pink inside for me! Less if the filets aren't really thick.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I love wedding season

Last weekend was the first of many weddings this spring for Andy and me. The reception was at Founders' Hall at Charlestowne Landing. This was the first wedding I'd been to there, and I loved it! Beautiful! The wedding photography was done by The Connelly's. Darrell and his wife, Eleanor, are AMAZING!
Andrew and Jenna Sires. so pretty!
How beautiful is she?

They also had a "photowall" which was pretty fun...especially to watch other people!
Andy and me

We have another wedding this weekend which is actually at the same excited to see what the next bride does differently!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Student "Artwork"

As I said before, I teach third grade. Every day something funny happens in my classroom. If I would only write everything down at the end of the day before I forget, I could write a book and make my millions. One of my students, who shall remain un-named, drew this masterpiece on the back of a test....that he turned in. He obviously didn't think this through. The picture quality is pretty bad, but says "hey look at my beutiful butt sh*t" with a lovely illustration to match. Oh, the joys.