Sunday, March 13, 2011

In the Slow Cooker

It's not really soup weather, as it is warm, sunny, and beautiful here today. But Chicken Enchilada Soup sounded really good (and super easy - recipe below)!


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can corn (or 1 package frozen corn)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk
2 whole chicken breasts (uncooked)
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

Combine beans, tomatoes, corn, onion and pepper in slow cooker. Place chicken on top. Whisk together the sauce, soup and milk; pour mixture over ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours (or high for 3 to 4 hours). Top with shredded cheese before serving. Yields 8 servings.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tales of the Tail: Afternoon Nap

When I die, I want to come back as my dog.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bringing LA Flavor to NC

For the last several years, I've made king cake for my co-workers. It's fun here because king cake is very uncommon so everyone is really excited and impressed with it.

This year I did a filling of brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. I think toasted pecans would also be good, but I didn't think of that until it was too late.

I don't hide a baby because I can't find them here. I've tried to order them online, but they only come in lots of 250. Seeing as I only make one or two king cakes a year, it would take me a while to use them all. Besides, it doesn't matter who got the baby, I'm still the one bringing the cake next time.

This year I also attempted to make moon pies, which are a lesser known Mardi Gras treat. But I messed up the dough and the cookies turned out puffy instead of flat.

The cookies need to be thin and flat to stack correctly when you put the marshmallow filling in between. I was supposed to roll out the dough and use cutters to make flat circles. The dough was really sticky and I got frustrated because my circles kept getting mishapen when I tried to move them from the counter to the tray. So instead I used a cookie scoop which worked better, except I didn't think to flatten out the dough balls before baking.

Oh well. No one here even associates Moon Pies with Mardi Gras so I might just try them again and no one will know that they are "out of season." Who am I's cookies with marshmallow filling covered in one would care even if they did know!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Merry Christmas in March

I have finally spent some of the money I got for Christmas.

I have always wanted a waffle iron and I plan to put this to good use on the weekends. It's a "3-in-one" so the waffle plates flip over to make a grill and a griddle space. Although I'm not sure what the difference is between a grill and a griddle? So I guess I'll need to figure that out at some point.

The slow cooker replaces our other one that we've had since we got married. The handle had broken off of it, so I had to either use pliers to turn it on and off or get BD to do it for me. It also didn't have a timer, so I couldn't use it during the week. Most recipes only cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours, and we are gone from the house longer than that each day. The new slow cooker can be set to cook for a certain amount of time and then it turns itself down to a warm setting. Fancy!

I've already used this several times, and it has worked well. It is wonderful to come home in the evenings and supper is already ready!

And now, for something more fun than kitchen appliances, some new clothes and a new pair of sandals for the spring! These are boc which is a Born company, so they have really comfortable footbeds. Bring on the warm weather!

These light colored trouser jeans looked "summery" to me.

And I always love anything with ruffles, so this shirt was perfect!

I still have a little bit of money left, so I think I may add these sandals to my collection.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shellac-ed Nails

I love the way my nails look with a fresh manicure. I don't love the way I usually smudge them before I even leave the salon. I also like to leave my nails natural because I don't like the feel of the acrylic overlay.

I have found the perfect solution: Shellac.

Shellac goes on like nail polish, so there is no damage to the nail unlike with acrylics. It's similar to a regular manicure - bottom coat, color, top coat - but after each layer your nails "bake" under a little UV lamp to set the polish. Immediately after the top coat is finished, the polish is basically indestructible. Oh, and the finish lasts 2 weeks. Hallelujah!

It was a bit more expensive than a regular manicure but took the same amount of time (about 45 minutes).

The only downside is that not every color is available; I originally wanted black but the closest color was a dark brown. So instead I opted for the traditional French. There are several other brands with a similar product (Shellac is made by CND; OPI also has one, and the salon I use had one other that I can't recall the name), so there are enough choices to find a good color.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What a Game/What a Season

Carolina beat Duke tonight in Chapel Hill to win the ACC regular season championship. The game was exciting and incredibly loud. My ears are still ringing. BD is hoarse from cheering. 

Cutest shirt I spotted: "Get rid of carbs - Flush a Dookie" - HAHAHAHA! I'm not sure if that really even makes sense, but it made me laugh.

The end to the regular season means we had to bid adieu to the fellow faithfuls in our section - The Yankee Yappers, The Personal Space Invader, Mr. My-Under-Armour-Shirt-Shows-Off-My-Man-Boobs, Mr. I-Haven't-Washed-My-Hair-Since-The-Last-Time-You-Saw-Me, and his wife Ms. Oh-Yes-You're-Going-To-See-My-Butt-Crack-At-Some-Point-During-The-Game.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just A Dog

From time to time people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, time spent, or costs involved for “Just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “Just a dog.”

Many hours have passed with my only company being “Just a dog,” and not once have I felt slighted. Some of my saddest moments were brought about by “Just a dog.” In those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “Just a dog” provided comfort and purpose to overcome the day.

If you, too, think its “Just a dog,” you will probably understand phrases like “Just a friend,” “Just a sunrise,” or “Just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “Just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

For me and folks like me, it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday people can understand it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “Just a man or woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “Just a dog,” smile, because they “Just Don’t Understand”.

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yummy AND Delicious

BD and I have been watching DVR'd episodes of America's Test Kitchen. We saw an episode where they made a coconut layer cake, and BD was instantly smitten. BD's grandmother makes an excellent coconut cake that everyone in the family raves about, so I knew I had to try this recipe to see how it compares to Nonnie's.

I pulled out my ATK Family Baking cookbook and found the recipe. It took me a few days to gather up all of the necessary ingredients (come to find out, my local grocery store doesn't carry cake flour OR coconut extract - argh!), but by this weekend I had everything on hand.

As usual, with all of the testing that goes into their recipes, this one was full of tips on how to make sure it turned out perfectly. The recipe was straight-forward and easy to follow.

And it really did turn out well!

I am not a big fan of coconut, but even I think this cake is excellent.

I chose to toast the coconut before topping the cake with it to add a little more color and bring out the nutty flavor.

BD raved about this and has been secretly eating pieces for breakfast in the mornings.