A week in pictures

Wow. This last week has been a whirlwind of fun and excitement.

A week ago today, I came home to these flowers by the front door:

And music playing and my boyfriend dressed up in a suit. And we got engaged.

The next day, we headed to work as usual, then to the airport to fly to Iowa to be with my parents for Thanksgiving. But first there were delays. Lots of delays at the airport. So we made the best of our time and filled it with delicious food and drink:

On Thanksgiving my mom and I spent the morning having fun in the kitchen:

We celebrated my mom’s birthday early:

And Brian played tech support:

When he was working on somethings in the basement he found a device to channel Mars:

And learned the secret to how my mom stays in such good shape:

Black Friday, we celebrated by eating Pancheros. And did not celebrate when Iowa lost.

Then Brian and I caught our flight back to Chicago and had this view on the way back into the city. Lights. Lots of lights:

Once we were home we tried to clean up our diet by healthy-ing up some frozen veggie pizza by topping it with kale.


I hope everyone has had as good of a start to the holiday season as we have.

Mini Thanksgiving

Sunday night I had my friend Katie over for dinner. Sometimes, I get a little overzealous when planning menus. Brian deemed it a mini Thanksgiving after I told him everything I planned on making, so I ended up cutting out a braised kale dish.

What did I make? A mess:

And I made a braised chicken with leeks and parsnip dish from this month’s Whole Living magazine. It was easy, healthy and delicious.

I also made stuffing for the second time ever. Last year was oyster stuffing. I have been super curious about cornbread stuffing. I made this recipe from Paula Deen. Holy amazing. Beware, it makes a giant pan. Way more than necessary for 3 people, but Brian and I have been loving the leftovers. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

I also made a side of mashed cauliflower. Healthier than mashed potatoes with all the warmth and comfort. With a big pat of real butter, of course.

If you need more Thanksgiving recipes, you can always check out:

Bacon wrapped turkey breast

cranberry sauce with orange zest

the most amazing pumpkin pie EVER

Crockpot chicken curry

I love Indian food. I love curries. I love the way your house smells after you cook them.

What’s better than to come home to that smell and dinner made? Not much.

Adapted from this Pinterest recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5oz tomato paste
  • 14oz can light coconut milk(use full fat if you want)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 jalapeno(I used two and it was very spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

Place carrots in bottom or slow cooker.

Place cubed chicken on top of that.

Put everything else except the water and corn starch into the food processor. Process/blend until mostly smooth.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and carrots.

Cook on low 6-8 hours. I left it in while I was at work, which was probably closer to 10 hours.

When I came home, the crock pot looked less than appetizing.

I was a little worried, but I gave it a stir and it looked much, much better.

It was also much darker in color and more red than I expected. I attribute this two things. I used a red bell pepper instead of green and I used light coconut milk and the absence of the extra coconut fat could attribute to the darker color. I would like to prematurely note that the flavor is wonderful.

An hour before serving, mix water and corn starch in small bowl. Stir until corn starch is dissolved. Then add to the crock pot and stir to combine. Leave on low for one more hour, then serve. The corn starch helps to thicken up the sauce.

Serve over rice, with naan and garnish with cilantro(optional) and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

This curry is awesome. It’s very thick, almost like a stew. We could have eaten it without the bed of rice. I ate leftovers on naan, almost like a sandwich for lunch. I also ate leftovers on a corn tortilla, topped with an egg for breakfast.

This curry is to good it can be eaten any meal of the day.

Weekend breakfasts

I used to be a breakfast hater. My mom struggled to get me to eat breakfast in the morning until the discovery of S’mores Pop Tarts. After some reflection, I realized that the thing I hated about breakfast was cereal. And since I refused to get out of bed in the mornings(I sound like a real joy, huh?) there wasn’t ever time for a hot breakfast other than a Pop Tart.

As I have gotten older, I don’t really sleep in much. I am an early riser and breakfast has become one of my favorite meals. Especially on the weekend when I have time to do a little extra.  I am more of a savory breakfast gal. And Brian is more of a sweet breakfast guy.

So Saturday morning, I lay in bed looking up pancake recipes for him. I came up with an easy gingerbread pancake recipe and added apple to it so it wouldn’t be so unhealthy. And threw together a fresh vanilla ginger glaze for a topping.

I used some left over curry and had curry and egg for breakfast myself. Brian always teases me that I think anything is acceptable for breakfast as long as I top it with an egg. It’s pretty much the truth.

The gingerbread pancake recipe made a huge amount, so Brian ate reheated left over pancakes with no complaints on Sunday. I whipped some eggs with spinach and tomato to make a tasty sandwich on toasted sprouted grain bread.

So there you go. A weekend full of delicious breakfasts.

 

Chocolate and peanut butter green smoothie

Tonight’s winner was the evening smoothie.

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Put in blender: one cup of vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 huge handfuls of spinach, 3 tablespoons chocolate PB2, 8 ice cubes and a half cup of water. Blend well.
Makes 2 smoothies.

Brian could see the spinach but not taste it. An easy and healthy way to get in about a cup of spinach each and lots of protein, all for about 100 calories a piece.

Easiest baked potato soup

I saw this pinned and thought it had to be too good to be true. I am so glad that I did!

A few years ago at Christmas time, my dad and I set forth in the kitchen with the goal to make loaded baked potato soup. Ok, so maybe it was my goal, I just drug him along for the ride. He was a good sport about it. It started with a roux and cooking things in bacon fat. All things that sound wonderful and delicious. It was a painstaking and time-consuming process and highly disappointing when we ended up with a blah product. So blah that we just kept adding things to it to try to give it flavor. It ended up turning out acceptable tasting after a lot of tinkering and no where close to the original recipe.

This soup is much different from that soup. Flavorful and couldn’t be easier to make.

I got the original recipe from here, but these were my measurements:

  • 3 pounds of russet potatoes, diced(I did not peel)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 32 oz chicken broth(you could sub veggie)
  • 1-2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried onion
  • 8 oz cream cheese

Put everything but the cream cheese in your crock put. Set on low. Let cook for 8-10 hours.

When you come home from a day at work, it will look something like this:

If you like your soup a little chunkier, pull 1-2 cups of the diced potato out and set to the side. If you want smooth soup, leave everything in the crock. Add in cream cheese.

Use an immersion  blender(much easier and less dishes) or a regular blender(in batches and be careful due to steam) and blend until desired consistency reached. Stir in potato chunks if reserve don the side for a chunkier soup.

Top with bacon, cheese, sour cream(I used plain greek yogurt), chives or anything else you like on your soup.

This soup is honestly almost too easy and too delicious to be true. it would be perfect to serve for any sort of gathering with a toppings bar for people to top their own bowl. I can’t wait until lunch to dive into a bowl of leftovers. Mmmm.

Eggvacado

This is a delightful and simple breakfast.

Cut an avocado in half. Remove pit. Scoop out a little extra avocado on each side. Those chunks of avocado when directly in my mouth.

Crack an egg in the crater that you have made. You might have some egg white spill over, so it’s best to do this in a baking dish or ramekin. Salt and pepper.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.

This was my eggvacado after 15 minutes. Still with a runny yolk hidden inside.

One of my coworkers was cooked all the way through. So, cook it how you like it.

But it is a very filling, creamy, buttery and naughty tasting breakfast. Just think how delicious it would be to have some toasted points to dip in all that goodness?

Pumpkin spice latte

Earlier this month,  the Chicago Tribune tweeted “must-try autumn” recipes. Being that I love autumn cooking and baking, I took a quick scroll through. I wasn’t excited by most of them, but did decide to try the DIY pumpkin spice latte.
I don’t typically buy fancy coffee drinks. I drink coffee, but generally only add a little cream or cream and sugar. Most of those fancy drinks are just too sweet for me and don’t pack enough punch.
This one was pretty good though. I made a few changes to make it healthier.

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened vanilla coconut or almond milk
3 tablespoons pure pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup strong brewed coffee

Combine milk, pumpkin and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk mixture until foamy.

Transfer to two mugs, filling each only half way; top with coffee. See, the coffee coming down the side of the mug. Well, that’s because I spilled about half the coffee on the counter while trying to take a picture at the same time. I have so much talent.

You can get all fancy and top with whipped cream or sprinkle with cinnamon or more pumpkin pie spice.

Drink hot. This would be easy to make a big pot for a nice brunch.