Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pecan Squares with Shortbread Crust

This recipe came from Southern Living.They are like little mini-pecan pies, but better. The shortbread crust is amazing!
Sorry for the terrible photo. They are better than they look.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons heaving whipping cream
3 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 in. baking dish.
Stir flour and powdered sugar. Cut in softened butter using a pastry blender or fork until it looks like coarse meal. Pat mixture on bottom and halfway up the sides of the greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Set aside to cool

Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil over med-high heat. Stir in pecans and pour hot filling into crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares.

*I didn't have enough honey, so I did 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup maple syrup, and it turned out just as good.*

p.s. How cute is my dog. Very.

chillin' with gumby. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tasty Tuesday--Five Spice Chicken Stir Fry

This is my take on our favorite meal at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Charleston, Red Orchids. If you are from around here, you have to try this place. It's yummy, authentic goodness. It was voted Charleston's Best Chinese. Yes, it is located in between a Big Lots and Cititrends, but don't let the location discourage you! 

I'm pretty sure the professionals at Red Orchids steam their chicken, but that scares me. Theirs is delicious, but I don't know if I could pull off steamed chicken. So, I marinated mine and stir-fried it. The five spice blend is what makes this so amazing. It consists of cinnamon, star anise, fennel, peppercorn, and cloves. You can buy it premade at the grocery store. 
I made two batches of the marinade, one for the chicken, and then a second to quickly toss the veggies in before stir-frying them. 

*remember, make two batches of the below marinade, separated*

2-3 lbs. chicken tenderloins, cut in pieces
1 head broccoli, cut in pieces
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or two garlic cloves, pressed)
2 teaspoons five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger (1 teaspoon if using freshly grated)
1 tablespoon white wine

Whisk together all of the above ingredients for the marinade. Add the chicken and marinate for at least an hour, up to over night. Add chicken to Wok (or large frying pan) and cook over med-high heat, discarding used marinade.  While chicken begins to cook, toss veggies with the second batch of marinade to coat. After about 5 minutes (or once chicken begins to brown), add the veggies to the chicken, cover, reduce heat and cook another 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through and veggies have desired tenderness. Serve over brown rice.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This is my first "Thankful" post, but I'm feeling very thankful and blessed right now. Something wonderful happened yesterday, and it just made me realize all of the blessings God has given me. 
There are so many, but here are my top 5...

1. My Husband
He is amazing. For the last year (or more) he has been working so hard studying for the CFP, which he takes next month. I am in awe at his dedication. Even through all the studying, he still manages to squeeze in some "family time" with Birdie and me every night. I love him so much. 
Here he is in his two favorite places: charleston marshes fishing and montana

2. My BFF Katie
You know those people who put everyone ahead of themselves, selflessly? This is Katie. She has the kindest heart of anyone I know. She has been through so much lately, and she perseveres, putting her faith in the Lord. She has another tough year ahead of her, but in true Katie-spirit, she always sees the positive. I am so happy I met her in the lay-up line at JV basketball try-outs in the 7th grade! Couldn't imagine my life if I hadn't!
Back where it all began. 
Secret handshake.

Awkward sophomore prom picture. One of those..."I don't know what to do with my hands" pics. 
Junior year powder puff with our moms.

More recent at a USC game.

3.  Lucy
I love my niece. Not only is she an absolutely beautiful little girl, but she is the sweetest. I think she loves me, too. Last week when I stopped by for a visit, she actually CRIED when I left! While it broke my heart (literally--my eyes were tearing up, too), it kind of made me feel awesome. She loves her CiCi, but not as much as I love her!

Add caption
Such a miss priss in her tutu and pearls.

4.  Birdie
 I. Love. My. Dog. To the point of obsession. She's adorable. She's fluffy. She's soft. She's cuddly. She oddly smells good. She's sweet. She's funny. And she does this cute little butt wiggle-growly thing when she's excited to see someone. Also, she hates that freescore.com commercial with the guy in the hockey mask. She growls her little heart out when he comes on the screen. She's even been known to leave the room. She is our daughter.
Birdie's first day home.

sleepy pup
a recent pic of my daughter :)

5.  My Students
Sure, I complain big time about my job. But, every now and then, I am reminded why I do what I do. Here are few notes/pictures that my sweet third graders have given me this year.

Yep, this is me as a mermaid.

Yay! He learned something! That IS an opinion!

I have a sweet new 'do. And I changed my last name.

Of course, these aren't the only things that I am thankful for, but right now these 5 are at the top.

So, this was by far my longest post. Hope you didn't fall asleep!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tasty Tuesday--Roasted Chicken with Olives, Lemon, & Garlic

My SIL (sister-in-law), Ellen, found this delicious cookbook at a grocery store for $1! I spent a weekend looking through it and jotting down recipes, then later that day, I found the same cookbook at Tuesday Morning! Not for $1, but it was only $8! And it has some really awesome recipes in it. 

This recipe is from Susan Spicer, a New Orleans chef at Bayona and Herbsaint.

1 whole chicken (2.5 to 3 pounds)
2 lemons, zested and quartered
12 to 15 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper flakes
6 to 8 sprigs rosemary (strip half the sprigs of their leaves and chop coarsely)
1 medium onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 cup pitted kalamata or picholine olives

Preheat oven to 450. Place a 13 x 9 inch roasting pan in the oven.
Rinse the chicken and use paper towels to pat it dry, inside and out. Squeeze 1 of the lemon quarters over the skin and rub the juice around with your fingers. 
Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breast, and place a couple of the garlic cloves and some of the lemon zest under the skin of the best on each side. Let it sit about 10 minutes, then pat the bird dry again, rub the skin with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, red pepper, and some of the chopped rosemary. Make an incision on the inside of each thigh and insert a garlic clove. Place 3 of the garlic cloves in the cavity, along with the rosemary sprigs and 2 of the lemon quarters.
You may tie the legs together over the cavity, if you like. 
Place the chicken breast side up in the preheated roasting pan. Bake for about 30 minutes, watching to make sure the chicken starts to brown. Carefully loosen the chicken from the pan with a spatula and turn it over to brown the underside.
At this point, lower the oven heat to 400. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil to the pan, then scatter the onion, olives, remaining garlic, lemon quarter and zest, and chipped rosemary around the chicken and cook for about 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over again and stir the onion, olives, and garlic around a little. Cook another 10 to 15 minutes to re-crisp the skin.
When the chicken is a deep golden brown, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and collect any juices that drain. Tilt the roasting pan and spoon off the fat, if desired. Stir the olives, onion, and lemon around, pressing on the lemon a little to extract the juice. Add the chicken juices to the pan and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the mixture. Spoon the juicy olive-onion mixture around the chicken and serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tasty Tuesday--Chicken Enchilada Soup

The weather is cooling down here (and by cooling down, I mean it's not in the 90's anymore), and I've been craving some soup.

When I make soup, I can't help but think of this guy.
Who doesn't love Seinfeld? If you don't, I'm not sure we can be friends.

Have any of you ever had the Baja Enchilada Soup from Atlanta Bread? Well, it is our favorite, but I never see it there anymore. I found this recipe on pinterest and had to try it. I did make some minor changes. And it was freakin' awesome.

Serves 6

1/2 of a deli rotisserie chicken, torn in bite size pieces
3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (19 oz.) can enchilada sauce (medium or mild...I used medium)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (10 3/4oz) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 (10 oz.) packaged frozen corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon house seasoning (garlic salt, salt, pepper)

1. In a large soup pot, saute onion and peppers in oil over medium high heat, until soft--about 5 minutes. 
2. Add all other ingredients and mix until well-blended.
3. Let simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

*for thicker soup, make a cornstarch/water paste and stir into soup, adding until you get desired thickness.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tailgate Tasties

I'm heading up to Columbia to watch my gamecocks take on the Auburn Tigers, and I can NOT wait. The high in Columbia is supposed to be 70--perfect football weather! And I'm meeting up with Emily and Megan, and hopefully a few of my best friends from college.

I will be enjoying my morning tailgate mimosas out of my lovely GARNET shatter-proof champagne flute.

And I'm bringing these two Tailgate Tasties.

Tasty #1:  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies  (YUM!)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 15oz. can pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling:
1 8oz.  package cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
1 16oz. box powdered sugar (I used less…just taste as you go)
cap-full vanilla extract
pinch or two of cinnamon (to taste)

Pies: Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and cloves.) Set aside. Beat the brown sugar, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Add eggs one at time, allowing each to mix in well, followed by the vanilla. Slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet.
Using a Ziploc bag with the tip cut out, pipe circle of batter about 2 inches in diameter. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 11 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling: Beat cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Once the pies are cooled, frost and make “sandwiches”.  Eat them right away, or chill overnight.

Tasty #2: Cream Cheese Sausage Crescents

1 lb. regular breakfast sausage, browned and drained
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls

Add the softened cream cheese to the browned sausage and mix well. Dollop a tablespoon or two of the sausage mixture in the center of the rolled-out crescents. Roll up and bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Here's to hoping the Gamecocks can make my day just a little more perfect! GO COCKS!