Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic

This recipe is another one from Ree (find it here). I only cook her recipes when I'm feeling ambitious. She rated the difficulty level of this one as 'easy', but I'd say it's more like medium. Then again, I'm an amateur. This is also my first experience cooking with wine. I liked it.

First, heat three tbsp oil and one tbsp butter in a Dutch oven on the stove.

Then toss in six chicken drumsticks and brown them.

Enter: the wine. What can I say, I like it cheap - my wine, that is.


Pour a little (or a lot of) wine in the Dutch oven. Stir it up so it mixes with all the wonderful juices from the chicken. And make sure you get all the bits unstuck from the bottom of the pot. That's flavor. Then let it all cook together for a minute or so.
The you add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Ree used one can of diced and one can of whole. I used two cans of tomato sauce because we don't like tomato chunks. Bring all that goodness to a boil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Then turn the heat off.
Now you're supposed to add lots of fresh herbs. I tried to get fresh herbs, I honestly tried. But when I went to the grocery store, all they had was parsley. Seriously, they didn't even have basil. I was tres disappointed. So I just used the dried stuff. Here we have rosemary, sage, basil, and parsley. There are also eight whole cloves of garlic (peeled, of course) in this picture, but you can't really see them because they kind of sunk.

Then put the chicken legs in.

Put the cover on, and pop it in the oven for about an hour.
(Like my new Dutch oven? I got it for Mother's Day. Love it!)
It's very important that your oven, like mine, is extremely dirty and desperately needs to be cleaned. It adds to the dish. :)

I must say, this created some of the best fragrances that have ever come out of this oven. It smelled heavenly!

And it tasted pretty good too! I made penne noodles to go with it. James liked it too. Although he liked the sauce better than the chicken. He's more of a breast kinda guy... chicken breasts, of course.

Man, what's with me today?

If I make this again, I'll probably use chicken breasts, which I think would work fine.

Thanks, Ree, for another great recipe!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Losing Steam

I have to apologize to my faithful reader(s?). I have been losing steam lately when it comes to my blog. Here are my many excuses (in bulleted form, because we all love bullets).
  • There really haven't been very many awesome deals out there lately.
  • I've been lazy.
  • I haven't been making awesome meals to blog about. Just my ordinary ol' go-to meals. Or take out.
  • We, as in my entire household, has been sick. Then we got better. Then we got sick again.
    • Two weeks ago Isaac had an ear infection and "some sort of virus."
    • Last week, James and I had some sort of long-lasting stomach bug.
    • This week, Isaac has Herpangina, a form of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease where he has blisters in his throat. I have a really annoying cold.
  • My parents and brother are out of town on vaca and we're watching their dog. Not that we really even notice he's here until Gizmo decides to fight, er... play with him.
  • Whenever I pull my computer out, Isaac feels the need to come over and bang on the keyboard. As a result, I just don't take my computer out as much.
Enough excuses, er... reasons for you?

As for shopping -  from now on I will probably only post the best deals out there. Why? Because we're shifting into one-income family mode. Thrusday is the last day of school, so after Thursday, that's what we'll be - a one income family. And I'll be a stay-at-home mommy! Which sort of scares the crap out of me, but I'm also looking forward to spending more time with my little man.

But fear not, I will likely be posting more recipes since we won't be eating out as much and I'll actually have time to cook. I also plan to delve a little farther into my new-found photography hobby. I want to try take some cool nature photos, and some cool Isaac photos, and whatever else inspires me. In a few weeks, we'll be going to Western South Dakota on a camping trip with my in-laws. Should be really fun! And hopefully lots of photo ops!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Almost There!

9 days left of school! Woohoo!

I have to admit, I LOVE counting down to days off. That's something I really missed when I graduated. There was always something to look forward to.

Anyway, the last day of school is Thursday, May 27th, but teachers have to stick around on Friday to... well, I guess I don't really know what they do. Probably get things squared away for the summer. I am not a teacher. I am a para-educator, which is pretty much a teacher with less education and less responsibilities, so my summer starts that Friday. Isaac's daycare is open that day, because most of the kids' parents are teachers and have to work. I don't have to work (have I mentioned that?). And since we've already used up all of our daycare vacation days and will be paying for that day anyway, I'm sending him. That means I get a day off all by myself! Oh the possibilities!

In other news, my cousin's daughter (who was a flower girl in my wedding) got confirmed today. And guess who was her sponser? Yours truly! It was a loooooong mass, but it was fun seeing all the little boys and girls dressed up with their ties and their dresses. They all looked so cute!

Not much else going on right now besides my coupon obsession (which I have now passed on to my sole co-worker) and my cooking obsession (which is now sort of on the back burner because I'm getting lazy). Isaac had some sort of virus last week, which caused an ear infection, which gave him a fever. He hadn't been sleeping well because of all this, so it was a long couple of nights. But he's back to his smiley, happy self again. He's crawling everywhere and loves to clap. He's also saying "dada" and "mama" but I'm not sure he knows what they mean. He does, however, know what "uh-oh" means. He drops stuff and says it. James is trying to teach him to say it when he burps or farts. Men.

Remember when Isaac had his helmet? Ever wonder how much one of those babies costs? Well, I'll tell you. $3K, that's how much. Thank goodness for insurance, although we still have to pay over $500. This, my friends, is why everyone should have a little thing called an emergency fund... unless you can afford to take $500 + out of your budget elsewhere.

Ok, now I'm done with my ramblings and am heading off to bed. Goodnight all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Week's CVS Finds

Ok folks, CVS has some pretty good deals this week - some free stuff and even a few money makers!

I went there yesterday and here's what I came out with:













Huggies Jumbo Packs - These are on sale for $8.49, which is an ok deal to begin with, but you also get $2 ECB, making them $6.49. I happen to be fresh out of Huggie's coupons, but if you have one, it can be an even better deal!

Reach Dental Floss
$1.99 regular price - $2 ECB - $1 printable coupon = $1.01 money maker!
Oh, and there is a limit of two on this deal, so of course, I got two.

U Kotex - I got the pads, but you can get tampons with this deal too.
$4.99 - $4.99 ECB - $1 printable coupon = $1 money maker!

Bayer Aspirin - 24 count
$1 - $1 printable coupon = Free!

Crest Pro Health Mouthwash
$3.50 - $3.50 ECB = Free!
I bought one of these, because usually the free stuff has a limit of one. Then when I got out to my car, I looked at my receipt and found that it had a limit of two! So I went back in and brought in my $3.50 ECB from the first one I bought, and used it to buy a second one. Plus I got another $3.50 ECB. Sweet!

All this came to a total of $17.04 including tax, and I got $14.49 in ECB, so all this technically cost me $2.55.

Or, you could say it cost $17.04 including tax, and I used $9.49 in ECB that I had from my last trip. So my total out of pocket expense was $7.55.

Either way, that's a pretty good deal! You can't even get a jumbo pack of diapers for $7.55.

I really love the deals that you can find at CVS, but they sure make you work for it!

Happy shopping!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mexican Feast Part Tres - Fried Ice Cream

Sorry to keep you in suspense. I took Mother's Day off. :)

For my lazy readers -
Part one - Chicken Mole Poblano
Part two - Refried Beans

Ok, so here's the finale - fried ice cream.

First you'll want to take a couple of scoops of ice cream and put them in the freezer for at least an hour. I used three. We only needed two, but I figured I'd screw at least one up. I also put them on a cookie sheet with a piece of wax paper on it, but you can do whatever works.













In a small bowl, combine a 1/2 cup of crushed corn flakes, 1 tbsp cinnamon, and 2 tbsp sugar.
(When I took this picture, I'd already dipped the ice cream a few times.)













When the ice cream is good and frozen, take it out of the freezer and roll it in the corn flake mixture. Then put it back in the freezer for another hour or so.













After about an hour you can take them out of the freezer and then dip them in a beaten egg, and dip them into the corn flake mixture again. (I forgot to take a picture of that step, oops.)
Then guess what? Back into the freezer for another hour.

Now this is the tricky part.

Before you're ready to take corn flake coated ice cream balls out of the freezer for the last time, heat some oil to 375 degrees. If you use a deep fryer, be ready to change the oil out, because you will get ice cream in the oil.

Drop one ice cream ball into the fryer for about 30 seconds. If you see the ice cream oozing out before the 30 seconds is up, take it out.

Then top it with whipped cream and honey. Oh man, it was so good! Definitely the best part of the feast!













El final.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mexican Feast Part Dos - Refried Beans

Here is part two of my belated Cinco de Mayo meal - homemade refried beans.

Here's a link to part one - chicken mole poblano - and part three - fried ice cream - in case you're too lazy to just look at the previous/next post. :)

Ok, so here's how it's done:

Open a package of dried pinto beans and put them in a large pot and fill it with water. The top of the water should be about 2-3 inches above the beans, that's how you know there's enough. Heat over medium heat until the water comes to a boil. Then reduce the heat, put the lid on, and let it simmer for about two hours. If you are able to plan ahead, you could also soak your beans overnight the night before. Then they won't take so long to cook.

This is what they will look like after two hours of simmering.
Mmm.... beans.
At this point, you'll want to add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper, and whatever else you want to use to season the beans. I just used salt and pepper. What can I say, I'm a minimalist. Ok, not really. But when it comes to beans I am.

Then, scoop the beans into a bowl. Make sure you get some of the bean juice in there. And by bean juice, I mean the liquid in the pot. Bean juice sounds kinda gross. Sorry.

Then mash it with a potato masher. Or, if you're like me and you know you have a potato masher but you just don't know where you have a potato masher, use a pastry blender. Meh, you learn to improvise.
 
Then add two tablespoons of butter. This contributes both flavor and smoothness to the beans.

Then I used my totally awesome, wonderful, if-you-don't-have-one-you-should-go-get-one-right-now KitchenAid stand mixer. It does magical things. Really.













Voila!
(Oops, that's French. My bad.)

Now, you may be wondering where the "refried" part of refried beans comes in. Well, it doesn't. At least not today. I didn't have time to do it, but usually you cook the beans in a cast iron skillet for a little bit after you mash them up. I think that's unnecessary.

And here's another picture of my less than desireable plating skills. But it tasted oh so good.

And they're great reheated with a little (or a lot of) cheese and some tortilla chips. And I'm going to make a bean and cheese burrito for lunch today with the leftovers. Yummy!



Friday, May 7, 2010

Mexican Feast Part Uno - Chicken Mole Poblano

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Yes, I realize that it is now May 7th, but I totally forgot about Cinco de Mayo until the actual day when the students at school were talking about it. Aaaaand I put a roast in the crock pot that morning, so there would be no Cinco de Mayo celebratory feast... until yesterday - Seis de Mayo. :)

So what I really meant to say was "Happy belated Cinco de Mayo!"

Anyway, here's what was on the menu:
Chicken Mole Poblano
Homemade Refried Beans
Mexican Rice (not homemade - from a package)
Fried Ice Cream

For the sake of my time and my potential carpal tunnel syndrome, I'm going to split this menu into three seperate posts. This is the first one. Obviously.

CHICKEN MOLE POBLANO

Sounds complicated, no? Well, it isn't. It's actually really really easy. It's probably the easiest thing I made yesterday (besides the packaged rice).

¡AquĆ­ vamos!

First, throw the following ingredients into a medium sized bowl:
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced














Then mix it all up.













Then stick it in the microwave for about two minutes just until it is bubbly around the edges. But don't use a metal bowl or you'll be in for a surprise. I only used this bowl for mixing, not microwaving.

Next, add one pound of chicken, cut into cubes, and 1/2 can of green chili peppers (you can add the whole 4.5 oz can if you like it spicier).













Then pour it all into a frying pan, put the lid on, and let the magic happen. The sauce will get a little runny from the chicken juices, but fear not, it will thicken up again after a while when the liquid boils out. Oh, and don't forget to stir it every once in a while.













Like I mentioned before, I served it with mexican rice and homemade beans.













Ok, so my plating skills leave a little to be desired, but it was pretty good! Tons of flavor. James LOVED it, which is good because the only reason I made it is because I know he likes the chicken mole burrito at Q'doba.

So if you are craving a little Mexicano and want to try something different, try this recipe!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Failed New Year's Resolution

At the beginning of the year, I decided to make a New Year's Resolution. Usually when I make one, it's about losing weight or working out or... you get the idea. This year, I went a different route. I decided that I was going to read one book every month.


This may not seem like a very heafty goal to you, but for me it's a lot. I just don't have time to read anymore. This is why I decided that I need to make time for myself and do something that I enjoy.

Well, I failed. Sort of. I'll explain more later.
January - Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
That's right, I jumped on the Twilight bandwagon. I had a hard time staying interested in this one. I think it's because I had already seen the movie, so I knew what was going to happen. There are a few parts in the book where it explains the background of some of the Cullens, and I found that interesting, but the rest was just pretty good. It kept me mostly entertained.

February - New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Aaaand I continued on the Twilight bandwagon. Honestly, I was less than impressed by New Moon. Synopsis: Edward left because he loves Bella so much (um... yeah). Bella becomes depressed. Bella is still depressed, very very depressed. Now she's depressed and hearing voices. Oh, and did I mention that she's depressed. Yep, still depressed. Oh, look, Alice came back because she thought Bella killed herself. Edward also thinks that Bella killed herself and went to Italy to make the Volturi kill him. Bella and Alice go save him. Then there's a lot of "Oh Edward, I love you SO much. Never ever ever ever leave me again!" and "Oh Bella, I love you so very much. I'll never ever ever leave you again!" and "Oh I love you so much I can't live without you."
Ok, so the part about the Volturi was pretty good, but WOWZA it sure took a long time to get there!

March - Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
Yep, still on the Twilight bandwagon. I was expecting this one to be really good because everyone was telling me that this was the best book of the four. I was a bit disappointed. And I'm starting to notice a pattern here. The first few chapters of each book are really good, it sucks you in. Then the middle is very drawn out and boring. And the last few chapters are really good again. Each time I've been so bored in the middle of the book that I've been this close to quitting, but I know that the end will be good again, so I keep going. And the intense ending to each book makes me want to read the next one. This Stephanie Meyer knows what she's doing I guess.

April - The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Ok, so I jumped off the Twilight bandwagon this month. And this is where I failed (sort of) my New Year's resolution. The only reason I read this book is because it was an assignment for one of our students, and I read it to her. Plus, it's only a novella, so I'm not sure if it really counts. It only took us, like, four hours to read.
So let's just pretend that this counts toward my one-book-per-month goal. It was a pretty good read... up until the end.

SPOILER ALERT!

This book takes place somewhere near the Gulf of Mexico. It is about a man named Kino, his wife, Juana, and their baby son, Coyotito. They are very poor. Kino dives for pearls for a living, as does everyone else in their small village. One morning, Coyotito is stung by a scorpion and in order to afford a doctor for him, Kino needs to find a nice pearl to sell. Well, luck was with him and he found the biggest pearl anyone in the village had ever seen. Then things start going terribly wrong. They are attacked several times by thieves trying to steal the pearl, their house it burned down, Kino ends up killing a thief and they have to run away in order to avoid punishment. So the three of them run, but are being tracked and followed. At the end the trackers end up blowing Coyotito's head off with a gun.

The End.

It was a terrible ending. The end was very intense and I was really into it, and then that happened. Ugh, terrible.

May - Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Back on the Twilight bandwagon. We'll see how it goes. So far I've read the first chapter. I wonder if the last book of the series will hold my attention. Here's to hoping!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gizmo's New Haircut

Before:














After:














Yeah, he needed it.

It's funny because he seems so much happier now. I guess he must feel a little lighter on his feet or something. Silly dog.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Won't Be Shopping Much This Week

After checking out all my favorite websites and store ads for the coming week, I am realizing that I won't be doing much shopping this week. There really isn't much out there that interests me. Nothing at Target or CVS. Well, CVS has a great deal on Depends, but I'm not in need of those quite yet.

A few notes:

You can still get the $.09 Ortega taco/chili seasoning. I'm stocked, but I noticed yesterday that it's still on price cut. I don't know how much longer it will be though. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here.

Target now has the new DiGiorno Pizza & Breadsticks. A while back I printed a couple $3/1 coupons for this from Facebook. You can still get it here. Target sells them for $6.39 (or something close, I can't remember exactly), so with the coupon, they're only $3.39. That's pretty cheap for DiGiorno. I don't know when the coupons expire, but you could also print them and save them for a sale.

Greenworks laundry detergent (90 oz) is on price cut until 5/8 for $12.99. There is a printable $3/1 Target coupon here (click on "coupons") and a printable $3/1 manufacturer coupon here. I like Seventh Generation better, but that's not as cheap right now so this will have to do.

That's all folks! Well, at least that's all that I'm interested in. Check out Totally Target and this post by Money Saving Mom to see for yourself.