Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Something new with chicken!

My friend, Jaime, gave me this recipe a few years ago and I always forget about it. The other night, in a quest to find something different to do to chicken, I dug in my recipe box and found it. The title doesn't really do it justice because it doesn't have bourbon in it nor does it have the bourbon taste. But it's very delicious and not that difficult to make. One caveat - it seems like there are alot of ingredients (which sort've annoys me in recipes) but they aren't all that uncommon so you should be ok. It's delicious served over mashed potatoes!

Bourbon Chicken

2 lbs boneless chicken cut in bite size pieces
2 Tbs olive oil (-ish, whatever you need to saute with)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper (if you don't like spicy, just use 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 TBS ketchup
1 TBS cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

In a large skillet heat the olive oil then saute the chicken until just barely done. Remove chicken. Mix rest of ingredients in pan, heating over medium heat until well mixed and dissolved. Add chicken back in and bring to hard boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. You may want to do a little less depending on how big your chicken bites are (so they aren't over done).

I serve over mashed potatoes since the chicken has a nice gravy in the end.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A picture says a thousand words...and so does it's placement

You may remember that I talked about wall art in this post. I listed 8 simple rules for choosing your art work and in the post I showed some examples of how to hang pictures. But I find that this is a very common question when I'm asked to help someone decorate their house. In fact, I just helped three friends in a matter of 2 weeks put together collages, hang pictures or figure out what to do on their walls. So I thought I might share a few ideas in case you are also trying to figure it out!

So let me start with a large wall, family portraits and a few added elements to fill in some holes and add visual intrest...

Note that not all the frames match each other. They "go" but don't match...much like you should do in fashion. Never match your earrings and necklaces. As Stacy London says "they should go but not match". But I need to get off my soap box digress.

One of the things I did with the collage, so that it wouldn't look too busy, was to add frames that weren't "people pictures" but instead we used wall paper samples. It's a great and easy way to make instant art.

The cool thing is that often times you can get sample books from local wallpaper carriers. (But they might be a little snooty in giving them up since you aren't actually buying anything from them, as a dear friend learned the hard way). You can also use fun wrapping paper or fabric in frames. Or if you find a neat poster or post-card, add it in a frame!

In another home, my friend had 8 frames the same size. You can't tell in the picture but they are actually frames she painted red for a special accent. Most people's first reaction is to hang them in a line...which they did. But by switching up the linear look it added more visual interest to the space. So try it a few different ways to see which looks better in your space.

Here are a few more examples of fun picture placements to hopefully inspire...look how cool they used an old mirror frame to frame other pictures in the first one (and could you just die for the cool table with the pop of red underneath!?)

courtesy of The Sassy Pepper (http://thesassypepper.blogspot.com/)

So I hope these pictures are inspiring and give you a few ideas of how you might be able to hang your own pictures. Just remember, lay them out on the ground first so that you can be sure you like the layout! It will save you a lot of spackling and patching later.

Call or email me if you need help with your picture placements!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lemon Garlic Hummus

This is seriously the easiest thing to make! And as I posted on Facebook not long ago, this is one of Charlie's favorite foods. At Christmas, much to the cringing of my relatives, he would dip his pita chip in to the hummus, lick it off and re-dip. Yep we have a re-dipper folks! I don't think that the re-dipping bothered everyone so much as the fact that he had a nice hefty cold (plus double ear infections). Oops.  

Lemon Garlic Hummus

2 cans garbanzos (chick peas) - drained and rinsed
3-4 TBS fresh lemon juice (I like 4 in mine but the original recipe called for 3)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (if you don't like garlic, put just 2. If you love garlic, put 3)
3/4 cup of canola oil
1/2 tsp salt

Put it all in a food processor or blender and blend until nice and creamy. Garnish with a lemon and serve with pita chips, bagel chips or pita bread! (or goldfish if you're Charlie)

Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Greek Panini

So first let me say that a panini is just another fancy word for a smushed or pressed sandwich. Granted, a panini maker does make them better than if you rigged it on the stove top, but it still tastes the same. So try this recipe even if you don't have a panini maker.

In my quest to try new recipes...and our new panini maker Santa brought the Hubbie...I tried a new panini recipe last night - Greek style. It was D-E-L-I-S-H. Now if you don't have a panini maker, just put it on a skillet, pan or something similar on the stove top and lightly press it with a spatula to smush it. Will work just as easy but may take a little longer to cook since you'll have to flip it (versus the panini maker that cooks it on both sides simultaneously). And if you're wondering, panini makers aren't very expensive ($30-50...and if you go to Bed, Bath and Beyond you can use a 20% off coupon like I did) and they are so versatile. You can use them for all kinds of sandwiches, grilled cheese, quesadillas, etc. But I digress...try this one if you want something new and tasty, yet easy and quick.

Greek Paninis

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced or chopped kalamata olives (and yes, you have to pit them first)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used the garlic/herb)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I think fresh is best)
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
2 pita breads

Take all the ingredients and mix them together. Cut the pita bread in half then stuff the 4 halves with the mixture. Place on panini press and cook for 3 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

I served with yummy, creamy tomato soup for a delicious din-din.

Bon apetit!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Annual Review

Is it time for your annual review at work? I used to dread those. I typically always knew what to expect but it was still nerve-racking when you had to actually sit down and discuss your performance. Interestingly enough, I haven't had one in over 2 years. I left my last position before they did them for their contract staff and with my current company, they don't really do the formal HR stuff.

Anyway, I thought I would take a look at my 2011 goals and see how I did. Sort've a personal assessment.

2011 Goals

1. To have our family debt free (other than the mortgage). We've met with a financial advisor and it's easily doable as long as we stay on target.

    Ummm...Epic. Failure. But I wasn't planning on having a 2nd baby when I wrote this either. Or needing a new cell phone, furnace, roof, HVAC system, a tree cut down, repairs from a lightening strike, fixing our washer and dryer or building a shed. So we didn't make much progress on the debt free stage. I may keep alter this for 2012.

2. This one is two parts a) To have a consistent quiet time b) read my bible. And by consistent I don't mean never or once in a blue moon. I mean actually sitting still and dedicating time each day for Him. Our Pastor has been stepping all over my toes lately in his messages and it is abundantly clear I'm just mediocre when it comes to my Christian walk.

     Hm. Another epic failure. Perhaps I see a trend...

3. To be more thoughtful. And not just in the giving gifts or doing things for others but by remembering birthdays, important events, sending little cards and thank you's. So many people have done that for me and it always means so much. I don't want to be so consumed in my own life that I forget to support others.

     Now this is hard to judge since it's others who would need to rate me on it. I'd like to think I've been better about remembering things and using my calendars for "reminders" alot more.

4. To lose the baby weight, preferably by June but I'll take the end of the year if it takes that (PLEASE don't let it take that long!)

     Well that obviously didn't happen since I had ANOTHER baby! Now I have 20lbs to lose. 10 per kid as I like to say. Will DEFINITELY add this to the 2012 list.

5. To market Pepper Pots Designs and gain additional painting business. Ideally, I'd like to have a consistent $50/month in profit to start. Know anyone who would be interested in a cute gift?

     Scratched this one off about the time I found out I was pregnant. I just don't have as much time as I'd like. I still paint for people if they ask and love doing it. So for now I'll go by word of mouth.

6. Cook more with vegetable purees. I've started and featured a few of those on this blog but I want to figure out how to incorporate them into more of my own recipes.

     Well I didn't necessarily cook with more purees but I did continue to cook more. Does that count? hmmm. Probably not. (sigh)

OK, so not horrible but not great either. Let's try the 2012 list...

2012 Goals
  1. Participate in at least 5 bible studies. (set to start Precept this Thursday on Romans)
  2. Continue working on our family's financial health. (start our IRA's, keep contributing to the kid's college funds, NO credit card debt, make extra payments to the truck).
  3. Have our dining set refinished. (after we buy new dining chairs).
  4. Buy a swing set for the boys. (you may think this one is silly but they are expensive! So we need to save for it and pay cash so not to go against goal #2.)
  5. Paint our house. (ugh, the hideous green. Hurts my eyes!)
  6. Redecorate our master bedroom. Still not quite right.
  7. Don't have a baby in 2012. (considering I'm not currently pregnant, we might be OK. Famous last words, right?! Figured if we make it till the end of March, we're good. Goal says 2012, not 2013 afterall. Honey, don't freak when you read this, I'm not making any suggestions!)
  8. Blog at least once a week. (would prefer more but 2 babies...well you know)
  9. Lose the baby weight. (20lbs)
  10. Hit the gym at least 2-3x per week. (to go with goal #9...and because I'm anal and needed another one to make an even 10 goals. Yep, I'm that OCD sometimes.)
Well I think that about covers it. Not lofty goals, but doable. I'm trying to avoid the "epic failure" evaluation this time next year.

So what about you? Have any goals you've written down for 2012? Do you have anyone that helps you stay accountable with them?


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas in Beaufort

Yes, it's almost mid-January and I'm just now blogging about Christmas. That's what happens when you work full-time and have 2 babies under the age of 14 months.

So this year we once again packed up our entire house, 2 babies, 2 dogs, a mother-in-law and a partridge in a pear tree and headed to Reidsville, NC for Christmas. This is where I have gone for all 35yrs of my existence for Christmas. I've never spent Christmas Eve or morning anywhere else but in my grandmother's house. Sadly, she is no longer with us but we still use her house on Thanksgiving and Christmas since it's the only place that holds all 25+ family members. For Christmas Eve dinner we managed to fit 26 1/2 people down one long set of tables. If you haven't experienced the joy of that many family and friends in one spot for a meal, you're really missing out! And yes, we all get along beautifully.

Unfortunately, our little Peanut was sick the entire time. Prior to Christmas he got nasty double ear infections that came with a 102.5 fever that lasted a week. He also got a vicious cold that had congestion and cough. So by Christmas he was on antibiotics, benadryl, tylenol and ibuprofen just to keep him comfortable. But he was a super trooper and after new antibiotics after Christmas (the first kind didn't do the trick), he was better by mid-week. Because of this, we barely got ANY pictures during Christmas. Well that and I didn't get my new camera till Christmas Day.

this is the aftermath of Christmas morning (~20 people)

Charlie...sick but mostly in good spirits

umm, can you tell I'm a wee bit exhausted?

After Christmas Day, I packed up the kids and we headed to Beaufort, NC to spend the rest of the week with my parents. Daycare was closed, Daniel had to work so we figured it'd be fun for the rest of us to visit Nana and PopE. We even had the pleasure of having Aunt Jenny and cousin Brennan come stay for two nights.

Now if you haven't been to Beaufort, NC - not to be confused with Beaufort, SC (both said in entirely different ways) - then you are really missing out. It's quite the quaint little inlet town and the former home of Blackbeard the Pirate. ARGH! (sorry, couldn't resist) I've never been there when it's been Christmas so it was fun to see some of the houses still decorated. Here are a few of the houses as we strolled one day...

And then you can come across little historic buildings like this one...

Could you just see yourself sitting on some of those porches sipping your libation of choice!? There is even a very cool graveyard that has all kinds of history and a self-guided tour that even takes you to the grave of an English soldier who was buried standing up, facing England.

And of course who can pass up these sunset views as you stroll along the docks?

It's a whopping 6 hour car ride home to Columbia from Beaufort, NC but it was totally worth it (even with two kids...by yourself). Usually it would take you about 4hrs 45min but with two babies and four stops...it adds up.

So if you haven't been...GO! It's so cute. Great history. Great food. Great People. I'm just glad we have a free place to stay thanks to Nana and PopE. Wonder if they've recovered yet?