Friday, April 27, 2012

Growth Spurts

Since I didn't cook last night and I'm totally failing at the home DIY projects (or really just putting them off) I figured I'll share some photos of our growing boy, Ruger. Plus it's Friday so who doesn't love pictures of cute puppies!

This week Ruger is 11 weeks old, crazy we've already almost had him for a month, I can't imagine our lives without him! Ok maybe I can but we're definitely glad we got him. Not only is he a sweet puppy but he helps wear Molly out, gives her a companion to play with and honestly I feel has done at least a little bit to lower her hyper levels and her intense focus on us. Not that we don't want her to enjoy us! But she would want to be so close to us she would try and climb in our laps the second we sat down. At 50 pounds she's not a lap dog, no matter how hard she wants to be!

 He does really well in the car so far, I hate that I can't fit crates in my car but I can't. A Jeep or Subaru are definitely in my dreams!

Our house is a wreck, with focusing on potty training other forms of cleaning have gone down the priority list. It doesn't help that two of his and Molly's toys are stuffed animals and branches/twigs. Michael for some reason thought it would be a good idea to let them bring one into the house. Now no matter how many tufts of fuzz or little splinters of wood I pick up they reappear.

Somehow this is comfortable. One of his favorite sleeping spots is on the hardwood floor. Not precisely sure why.

My Molly love isn't so giving in the photograph department. She rarely cooperates with me. 

Happy Friday! Any  fun plans this weekend?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken

See? I told you I wasn't kidding about the cilantro! Well success story of the week for me, not only did I make meals with minimal dishes and prep time but also  used the whole bushel of cilantro. Gold star!

And yes the week is ending on Thursday for me, tonight and tomorrow we've got plans that didn't involve me cooking. Hallelujah.

This dish I prepped the night before and put in the fridge in a snap container (love them) but you could definitely use this as a freezer meal as well.

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken
 Adapted from Pip & Ebby
Look familiar?
Paste mixture
  • One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa
  • Juice from one lime, ~ 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • One 1.25-oz. package taco seasoning
  • Jalapeno's: 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped or a few jarred jalapeno slices(optional)
  • 4 chicken breasts 
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  1. Mix together salsa, lime juice, taco seasoning and jalapenos in crock pot
  2. submerge chicken in mixture in crock pot. 
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours (at least that's what I did)
In crock pot

Pip & Ebby's website, where I got the original recipe from, said to cook on low for 6 hours. Now I don't know if my crock pot is super different but mine doesn't have a low for 6 hours option. 

So I cooked it on low for 10 hours cause I didn't want it to be sitting on warm for 3 hours by the time we got home and were ready to eat if I had done it for 8 hours on low. Although thinking about it that's what I might try next time. It turned out a little soupy again, which was still tasty but not what I was going for. Maybe I'll try a little less salsa. 

We just ate it in a bowl with some tortilla chips but it would also make a really good taco filling. Overall I think I'll go ahead and give this a fabulous stamp of approval!

Any fun plans coming up this weekend?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grilled Lime Chicken

Tuesday's meal was a success! This is a delicious easy summer meal, it's light and tasty with the added bonus of not heating up your kitchen by cooking outside. Unfortunately for those of us in the lovely Seattle area the weather wasn't so summery yesterday, after a string of 3 glorious 65 degree days the weather gods felt they had given us enough hope to stick it out until July and reverted back to typical April weather. Grey and drizzling. By the way, where is this year going?!

Lucky for us we have a covered deck! Complete brilliance by the previous owners.

In the spirit of trying to be smarter about our meals throughout the week when I was planning dinners I tried to find recipes with the same ingredients, and this week it was cilantro in particular. We love love love the stuff but never end up using it all before it turns. My friend Jillian has had luck freezing it but I haven't tried it yet, but either way I'm sick of wasting food.

Grilled Lime Chicken
 Adapted from Beer Lime Grilled Chicken

  • 1 lime, juiced ~2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can light colored beer (I used PBR, for some odd reason it's what we had on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (approximately, this is if you really like cilantro, if you're only slightly a fan use less)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 chicken breasts


  1.  In a bowl, mix the lime juice, beer, honey (I didn't have honey on hand so I substituted sugar), garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper until honey dissolves. Pour over chicken, cover and marinate for no less than 30 min.
  2.  Preheat outdoor grill for  medium heat, lightly oil grate (Michael just uses Pam and it works well).
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and place on grill. Make sure to get plenty of cilantro leaves on the chicken! 
  4. Grill until tender and juices run clear, about 7 minutes per side. 

I pounded my chicken breasts down a bit, they were pretty thick. I only marinaded it for 30 min but I would definitely recommend a longer marinade, the chicken was good but not as flavorful as I would have liked and didn't make it to the center of the chicken. Next time I might play around with adding some teriyaki sauce to the marinade, we used it as a side dipping sauce and it tasted wonderful with the lime and cilantro flavors.

Overall a decent dish but not fabulous yet, I'll try it again making those changes and see how it goes. If you try it and make any of your own tweaks I'd love to hear about them!

What is your favorite grilled dish? Favorite marinade?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crock Pot Mexican Chicken

I've made this recipe twice, and luckily it turned out the same way both times (I haven't been so lucky on other recipes!). Not only is it bursting with flavor but its SO EASY to make. Throw a bunch of things in the crock pot, turn it on and you're good to go!

The first time I made this I did it as a freeze ahead recipe, threw everything into a ziplock gallon bag (I double bagged it) and put it in the freezer. I actually preferred it from the freezer than the "normal" way because the chicken was more flavorful I felt since it was sitting in the "soup" rather than sitting on top of it.

Mexican Crock Pot Chicken
Adapted from Skinny Mom

  • 1 16 oz jar salsa
  • 3-4 large chicken breasts
  • 1 14 oz jar diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 15 oz can reduced sodium black bans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 8 oz bag frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine salsa, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne, pepper, chili powder, and jalapenos in the crock pot.
  2. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and submerge into mixture but try and not have the chicken touching the bottom of the crock pot.
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips or crisped flour or corn tortillas.
As you can see I added the cilantro on top instead of in the crock pot. This is because I forgot to put it in the crock pot but also because I ADORE fresh cilantro. So good. 
Nutrition Info Per Serving (without rice): Calories: 195, Fat: 1.5g, Fiber: 5g, Carbs: 25g, Protein: 22g
I've made a pact with myself that I'm going to start planning out our dinners at the beginning of the week and not only try and use ingredients we already have but go to the store only once. Crossing my fingers. I did this a year or so ago and it went well for a while but then life got in the way, sad excuse but I'm using it! So far its going quite well, rather proud of myself. That said it is only Tuesday. But again, I'm taking it :-). Here is our week's dinners: 
Monday was this recipe, with left overs for lunch today.
Tuesday : Beer lime grilled chicken
Wednesday : Cilantro Lime crock pot chicken 
Thursday : breaded pork chops. 

Blogs will (hopefully!) be posted on whether these recipes are deemed fabulous or not!

What are your favorite week day meals? Do you like the quick and easy ones or more elaborate dishes? Do you plan ahead or fly by the seat of your pants when you walk in the door from work? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perfect Maid of Honor Emergency Kit

Heads up this does weigh about 50 pounds. Kidding. Almost.

Last summer not only did my best friend in the entire world Jillian (celebrating 10 years this fall! Yes we're celebrating a decade of friendship with a girls trip...we rock) get married but so did my dear friends Brandon and Courtney, Brandon just so happens to also be Michael's cousin. I was super honored to be not only Jillian's MOH but in Courtney's bridal party as well. I count myself as one lucky girl!

Oh, and not to mention their weddings were five days apart. 5, F-I-V-E, cinco. Crazyness. But it was one hell of a summer!

So wanting to be the best MOH (and bridesmaid) possible I scoured wedding websites and blogs to find and compile the perfect MOH Emergency Kit that has everything you'd need for any wedding related emergency. At both weddings I brought it early to the reception area and put it under the table at my seat. It wouldn't be a bad idea if you are walking around taking pictures to bring a mini version of the kit with you that has Band-Aids, water and snacks, safety pins, bobby pins and hair spray. You ladies need to be picture perfect!

Maid of Honor Emergency Kit
  1. Band-Aids (both regular and blister size)
  2. Gauze and tape 
  3. Neosporin/Anti-Bacterial cream
  4. Tums/Antacids 
  5. Baby powder
  6. Wet wipes
  7. Cough drops/throat lozenges (I love the Ricola Honey/Mint ones) 
  8. Pepto Bismol (actually works decently for a hang over from the rehearsal dinner the night before!)
  9. Ibproufin/Asprin (if you have different types of pain re-leavers on hand, bring all, some don't work for some people) 
  10. Eye drops 
  11. Gum/breath mints
  12. Nail polish remover
  13. Nail polish (various colors and clear top coat : clear coat also works for stopping a run in a nylon)
  14. Nail files
  15. Nail clippers
  16. Cotton balls/pads
  17. Q-Tips
  18. Bleach/Shout pen
  19. Clear packing tape (to get dirt off dresses, stick it on and it lifts right off versus rubbing it into the dress by trying to wipe it off)
  20. Lint remover/roller
  21. Scotch tape
  22. Tissues (bring some down the aisle with you, stick in your hand holding your bouquet)
  23. Lighter
  24. Pretty pen (for signing the marriage license!)
  25. Sharpie
  26. Lotion
  27. Sun screen
  28. Deodorant
  29. Perfume
  30. Extra toothbrush/toothpaste 
  31. Feminine products
  32. Hairbrush/comb 
  33. Hair spray
  34. Anti frizz/hair serum 
  35. Mouse
  36. Bobby Pins
  37. Hair ties 
  38. Flip flops (a few pairs: for yourself and the bride or bridesmaids that can't handle their heels anymore)
  39. Dress tape/double sided tape
  40. Mini sewing kit, including scissors, safety pins (MUST HAVE), regular pins (just in case a boutineer pin breaks) and the basic colors of string. 
  41. Playing cards (just in case there are ever any super dull moments in the waiting, or if kids are at the wedding and need something to do)
  42. Camera
  43. Bride's make up (if she won't have the chance to go back to her room etc for touch ups)
  44. Mirror 
  45. Tweezers
  46. Water and or alcohol :-) 
  47. Snack items 
  48. Straws (so you don't mess up lipstick!)
  49. Super glue
  50. Iron (if wedding isn't at a hotel location)
Now that's a lot of things, most lists only do about half of them. Other lists also say to bring cash and a list of the vendors with contact information, I can definitely see where these would come in handy but most brides are hyper organized on their big day and have everything together for that.

I literally walked through my house and grabbed anything I could think of that would be useful in an emergency situation. Of course I didn't end up using most of these things (thankfully!) but I just know that if I hadn't packed everything I would have needed something!

Anything you would add to this list? Any wedding disasters you've survived?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Furry Love

Our little family is growing!

After getting Molly in October we've been wanting to get a second dog, for her to play with and wear her down mainly :-). Slightly selfish? Probably. But this girl will not leave our side. Not saying that's necessarily a bad trait in a four legged friend (one reason we clicked with her is because she seemed so into us when we met her) but when it gets to the point of separation anxiety (five pairs of my favorite shoes, a chapstick, two pens and a sharpie have been casualties) and during painting weekend we put her out in the (fully fenced) back yard she sat at the back door and whined for us we started talking about it again.

Ideally we would have waited until we had Molly a year if not more, so she could become even more settled into her home and her routines etc. But when Michael started showing me pictures of Rottweiler puppies unfortunately all bets were off. I started researching the breed and talked with numerous friends who had puppies while working full time, who had multiple dogs and with breeders. I generally have a hard time not adopting animals. There are so many that need good loving homes and it breaks my heart not giving them one. But after much deliberation we realized that getting a puppy was the best idea for not only the puppy but also Molly.  They could grow up together, Molly had puppies before we got her so I figured she'd be at least somewhat mothering, and Molly wouldn't have to handle a grown dog with their own issues/personality suddenly invading her space.

So last Saturday we brought home Ruger! 

This precious little 8 week old love! And after the first night him and Molly get along swimmingly! He's teething so literally follows Molly around the house gnawing on her legs and tail. So cute.

He's growing like a weed! Already so much bigger than when we got him a week ago. His dad was about 130 pound so we're looking at a big dog!

Such a doll! We're working on crate training him, it's a process for sure. But he is getting better than the fist couple nights thankfully. We just adore him and can't wait for him to get bigger so not only does he not have accidents in the house (the joys of potty training!) but him and Molly can really wrestle and wear each other down.

Do you have any pet stories? Any recent additions to your family? Dream pets for one day?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cinnamon Kisses

Well maybe not literal kisses but it might as well be. Because deeeelicious!

As mentioned I (yay!) hosted my first family gathering this weekend. Quite fun. And luckily enough it was only Easter Brunch, a simple meal that I could do mostly hands free (another YAY! Cause you know this girl doesn't like dishes).

The Menu:
- Coffee (of course...who can live without it)
- Fruit Salad
- Bacon
- Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Fruit salad: (if you can call it that)
It's a family tradition for any breakfast type gathering consisting of whatever fruit you prefer (usually a combination of oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, and cantaloupe) mixed with yogurt (we LOVE Greek God's greek yogurt with vanilla and honey, if you haven't tried it you haven't lived) and lime juice and zest.

  1. Fruit of choice (two or so of the "round" fruits - apples, oranges, one cantaloupe, half a bunch or so of grapes)
  2. 24 oz yogurt of your choice, I'd definitely recommend a vanilla flavor
  3. 2 limes (zest and juice) 
Mix together and you're good to go! So tasty!

You might wonder why I'm doing a how to of bacon. But this is damn good bacon, especially if you like it crispy. And no dishes. LOVE
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Lay parchment paper out on cookie sheets. Parchment paper is key, wax paper will not do. It will burn in your oven and not only stink but set the smoke detector off. Trust me, it's from experience! 
  3. Lay bacon on parchment paper, you can also put bacon on a cooling rack on the cookie sheet so that it's not laying it its own fat/juices if you want. Don't overcrowd. 
  4. Put bacon in oven for about 10 min, keep an eye on it. Depending on how hot your oven actually gets it might take a little less or a little longer. After 10 min take bacon out (if you put bacon directly onto parchment paper you can drain the juices) and flip, at this point you can drizzle maple syrup over bacon if you like, pepper etc as well. YUM.
Cinnamon Baked French Toast
(Came from - Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
Now this came from Pinterest. I love me some one dish prep ahead dishes.

    1 loaf French Bread
    8 large eggs
    2 cups milk (we used skim, but Ree uses whole)
    ½ cup heavy whipping cream
    ¾ cups granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons vanilla extract

   Streusel Topping:
       ½ cup all-purpose flour
       ½ cup brown sugar
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      ¼ teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Maple syrup and whip cream - for serving

Immersion Hand Blender
  1. Spray 9 x 13- inch baking pan with cooking spray. Tear French bread into chunks and place evenly in the pan.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla extract. I used an immersion hand blender. Works wonders.  Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan with saran wrap and store in the fridge for several hours or overnight - Realistically you can put in the fridge for even half an hour, you might just have to bake it longer so the middle doesn't come out soggy (what happened to me)
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture using a fork or your hands. Combine until the mixture resembles chunky sand, ideally it will be like sand with a few pea size chunks but no matter how long I mixed it it never got there. Cover and store mixture in the refrigerator.
  4. When ready to bake French Toast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove pan from fridge and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 40-55 min or until the French Toast is set and golden brown.
  5. Whip up the rest of that heavy whipping cream (if you so desire) while the toast is almost done baking.
  6. Serve with maple syrup and whipping cream if you like.

What is your favorite breakfast treat?