Friday, May 15, 2009

Make that a large hiatus...

So, I took a placement math test today at the community college, thinking that I would sail right through considering, you know, that I want to teach math?

Well, I did NOT do as well as I would have thought. In fact, I didn't do well at all. I got through maybe beginning algebra and beginning geometry, and then pretty much bombed the rest. As you can imagine, this has been quite upsetting, because I'm taking the Praxis test in about four weeks, so panic has ensued.

Unfortunately, this means NO sewing until after the Praxis. I really need all the spare time I have to study and to prepare for this exam. If, in a world gone mad, I do have time to squeeze in a recipe or a few stitches, you will be the first to hear about it! I take the exam on June 13, and the wedding is the 19th, so the dress must be finished between those times. Since I only have a few stitches on the skirt to do, I think this shouldn't be a problem.

So anyway, adios for now (Oh, that's right, I'm also supposed to be learning Spanish right now... WHO do I think I AM when I sign up for these things?!??!)... but I will return! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chicken Mushroom Goulash. Changes lifes.

Let me just warn you.

This, my dear friends, is my favorite recipe ever. Ever ever ever. It's so mushroomy and warm and paprika-y. You'll die for it, I promise.

I don't really promise that. But it's delicious and easy and makes a ton of leftovers. It started out as this Rachel Ray recipe, but I've altered it to suit my tastes. Mainly, I quadruple the amount of mushrooms.

If mushrooms were a man, I would marry him. If you don't like mushrooms, first of all we are no longer friends, and second of all you can omit them if you want and add other veggies. But please try to like mushrooms. They are a lot of what is good and decent in this world.

First, go to the store and buy this stuff:

That two bags of frozen gnocchi, two pounds ground turkey (I used the superlean stuff and it was still outstanding), two pounds of white mushrooms, olive oil, butter (I shamelessly use margarine), 1 can tomato sauce, 1/2 C. sour cream, one onion (or two halves, because two halves make a whole. See, I'm going to make a great math teacher), a couple cloves of garlic, a bell pepper, an optional jalepeno, and a lot of paprika. The paprika is what makes goulash goulash, so go get some. And I didn't take a picture of chicken stock, but you'll need some of that too.

Can I tell you how I choose my peppers? By how curious their stems are. A little quirk of mine. And please, if you do add the jalepeno, do not chop it and then rub your eye. It is much more painful than it sounds.

And if it's Cinco de Mayo and your mother loves you, she will bring you one of these to enjoy while cooking.

Why didn't I make Mexican for Cinco de Mayo you ask? Because I believe America is a place where different cultures can live in harmony. Mexico, meet Hungary.

Geneva conventions happen in my house.

The first thing to do is get about two tablespoons butter and two tablespoons olive oil and get 'em hot. I use an electric skillet, because, well, I live with my parents and that is what they have.

Then, brown the chicken until thoroughly cooked. This takes a while, so use the time to chop up some of your veggies. Or drink your Corona. I won't judge.

After the chicken is browned, move it to the edges and dump in about half your veggies. Your kitchen will start to smell amazing right about now.

After those veggies have cooked down, dump in the rest.

While these are cooking down, this is a good time to boil the water for the gnocchi. So go do that.

After the veggies are nice and soft, season with salt and pepper, mix it all together and add the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Let it come to a bubble.

This picture shows just how much paprika I like to add. I think the recipe calls for 2 tsp. paprika. Rachael Ray, I love you and your food, but that is not enough paprika for goulash. I add close to two tablespoons. And I'm not sorry about it.

Once the spices are mixed it, add the sour cream to thicken. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Your water should be boiling by now, so go ahead and plop in your gnocchi (please do not burn yourself by plopping!). When the gnocchi are finished, they will float, like this:

Drain, perhaps in your brand new sink colander your mother just bought. But if it's fine mesh like this, put a paper towel down. These dishes were a bear to do.

Dump the gnocchi straight into your skilled with your mushroomy, paprikay goulash and stir to coat.

Yum. Yum yum yum yum yum. I could eat this every day. I mean that. THIS is comfort food!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mini Hiatus!

No crafts or cooking for a few days!! :( Today I have a paper to write (tracing the theme of heroism through Beowulf, Grendel, Hamlet and Animal Farm - sounds like something you did your freshman year in high school? Me too.) and a lot of studying for my stats test tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, Art's brother and I are driving up to gorgeous Steubenville, Ohio (please substitute the words "dreary, smelly, and depressing" for "gorgeous") to watch Emily graduate!! Art unfortunately can't make it but the rest of us should have a nice weekend together!!

Then, on Sunday, Charlie and I are driving back in the morning, I'm making homemade killer brownies for my mom, and then I am moving into my dorm room on campus!! I don't have my work schedule quite yet, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to come back home and work on my dress (I'm not bringing my sewing machine to campus).

However, I have a fab fab FAB rainy day recipe to post soon, so I'll get to that when I can!! I'm really enjoying my job so far and can't wait to settle into my new room!!

Until next time!

Monday, May 4, 2009

That was fast!!

Man, this dress is coming together!!!

As I said yesterday, I almost finished the dress top, all that was left was the band that fits right under the bust. Well I did that today!! And I had some extra time this evening so I cut the skirt as well!! I'm so so so in LOVE with my yellow fabric!!

All I have to do now is stitch the three dress seams, do some gathering and then attach it to the bodice, then hem, and I'm DONE!!! Oh, and attach the hidden zipper. I have a feeling that is going to be a bear. But it's only MAY 4!! I have an entire month before I have to wear this dress!! I'm very excited.

I start training for my job tomorrow, and then I move into the dorms at school (ha!) on Sunday so I will have significantly less time to sew. Plus I have to allow my brother to have a bedroom come Memorial Day, so I have to halt the projects momentarily.

It was a good day for dress making!! :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday night dinner!

Ok, so this wasn't really dinner, but it definitely could be a meal! This recipe came about because of my low blood sugar issues... i.e., when I get hungry, I get grumpy!! My mom and I went shopping this morning after breakfast, and then went straight to visit my grandma in the hospital. We were there for a few hours, so by the time we left it was 4:30 and I hadn't eaten since 11. So I had food on the brain. There was an outdated issue of "Every Day with Rachel Ray" in the hospital room, and we found this recipe. Almost every Ray-ray recipe I've made has been out-of-this-world delicious, so we gave these a shot when we got home because we didn't have to go shopping for any of the ingredients. The result is a healthy version of nachos that gives you everything you love in a nacho. Try these. You'll thank me.

PS - I took pictures of my cooking process a la Pioneer Woman. She's everything I want to be in life. If you find yourself needing some extra butter and fat in your world, make some of her stuff. Seriously. It's outstanding. And fattening. But mostly outstanding.

The first thing to do is chop an onion finely and run a few cloves of garlic through a garlic press. I used a medium sized onion and three cloves, because I'm 23 and can still handle garlic. Although my mother is slightly older than 23 and she loved this recipe. So use your judgment. Brown the onions and garlic in a big pan.

Is there anything in the world that smells better than onions and garlic cooking? No there is not. One day I will share with you my slave-over-a-hot-stove tomato sauce, and you can experience this smell for hours. Swoon. Faint. Pitter-pat goes my heart.

Once the onions are slightly browned, add about 3 cups broccoli and 1 15-oz can cannelloni beans. Well, I have no idea what cannelloni beans actually are, so I used the white beans I had. They were great. Add these plus about 1/3 cup water and heat through. The recipe didn't call for this, but I added about a cup to a cup and a half of spicy salsa. Delish.

The recipe says to dump the entire mix on top of some tortilla chips and about 1 cup cheese in an oven-safe dish. Can I tell you? Leave the tortilla chips out. They got soggy. Just sprinkle the cheese on the bottom of the baking dish, then add the mix. Sprinkle 2 more cups of cheese on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 3 minutes, just enough for the cheese to melt and brown on top. Mommala couldn't keep her hands out of it while I was trying to snap a photo.

There's mi madre about to devour some healthy nachos. (with regular tortilla chips that we didn't bake)

Annnd here's me, mid-devour. My mom told me she was looking at the picture of her, when in fact she was snapping this flattering picture. She's so clever, that mom of mine.

And please, whenever you cook anything on a Sunday evening, have a glass of this. I'm sure you're supposed to pair the flavors and be all snobby, but I like what I like. And what I like is this:

Lindeman's Bin #40 Merlot. They have an office in Del Rio, where Art lives, which is where I first had it. Then I realized Kroger sold it and I've pretty much never been the same since. Dear Lindeman's, send me some free bottles of your delicious Merlot.

Oh, and here's me and my mom with Rachel Ray. She came over for some nachos too. Just kidding, actually we stood in line for a long long time in December to snap this shot for two seconds and get her autograph and not say a word to her. But you wouldn't know that if I didn't tell you. I love your healthy nachos, Ray Ray.

In other news, I got my dress top made this weekend. It looked horrible for so long, and then all of a sudden I turned it right side out and it was perfect. But more about that manana.

Enjoy the nachos!