Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Approved Pinterest Recipes

For me, the great thing about about Pinterest is that it actually motivates me to make the things I find and not just look at them. I have made tons of recipes and a few crafts, plus it exposes you to so many blogs and websites that you may not have found otherwise.

We've been on a seafood kick lately, surely because of our new surroundings. Here are three seafood recipes I have tried and looooved this month from Pinterest:


This one was hands-down my favorite recipe. I probably should have saved it for last, but that's how good it was. 

I omitted all of the lemony stuff except for the lemon juice used in the actual recipe (and I did not use fresh) and that was fine because I didn't taste it. I also can't handle very spicy food so I knocked down the crushed red pepper to 1/4 tsp. and it was still pretty spicy for me. I'll only use a dash of it next time.

Also, I do not have a pan that can go from the stove to the oven so I transferred it to a casserole dish after doing the stove top thing as someone asked about in the comments and it turned out just fine.



After taking the first bite, Joe asked that this meal be added into our regular meal rotation and I didn't even have to ask how he liked it first! I too enjoyed them, and I tried to enjoy it with the onion and lettuce as shown but the onion was rotten >:o so only lettuce it was.

The only reserve I have about making this recipe is using the food processor to grind the salmon. It was disgusting and I had to clean it THREE times; By hand, dishwasher, and again by hand. Someone should come up with one-time use (compostable! recyclable!) food processors just for this recipe.



Ungggg.

This was. so. good.

Though I just realized I forgot to put the green onions on top. That's why they are in my fridge...

The marinade is absolutely wonderful with the salmon. I used water instead of pineapple juice (both are listed as options). I am not a fan of sriracha sauce so I split the sauce; I made Joe's with a little more sriracha and mine with a lot more condensed milk. The remainder of which is also still sitting in my fridge.

*All pictures used are from the linked recipe site.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pinterest Wedding Inspiration

Now that we have picked out a place to get married and have the reception, I have been free to actually plan and think about what I want it to look like. Since the venue is such a good price, I'm glad I'll have some room left over in the budget for fun things!


I love how this table is decorated with a simple white table cloth and cute bunting.

I also want to decorate like this using Elsie's cute and easy tutorial for making garland:


I am also liking the idea of having several different desserts rather than just one big cake. Half a dozen of two different kinds of cupcakes, macarons, and maybe some berry tarts.


(All on adorable dessert stands, of course...)



I am kind of feeling the turquoise and pink color combination (we'll throw some gray in there for the guys) and this cake would be perfect for a small wedding cake:


I also want a simple, handmade, no-fuss bouquet. I'm feeling inspired by these two:



Here's the link to the rest of my wedding inspiration on Pinterest. 

-jess

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spinach Asparagus Leek Soup

There is a magical place in Charlotte, Amelie's French Bakery, and I fell in love with a bowl of Spinach Asparagus Leek soup while eating there with my dear friend Lauren.

She told me it would be easy to make, and since she is my cooking guru I believed her. As soon as I got home I searched for a Spinach Asparagus Leek soup recipe and made the first one I found.

This was my first time making soup and my first time cooking with leeks (and only the second time eating them, after that first bowl at Amelie's).

It is my favorite meal in the world to prepare. Adding to firsts, this was really the first time that I made a meal with beautiful and fresh ingredients. Every time I make it I enjoy preparing each vegetable and enjoy it even more knowing that it makes such an amazing soup. This is perfect when paired with a fresh baguette or, in a pinch, Pillsbury makes a dreamy french loaf you can find refrigerated with their biscuits. Another great thing about this soup is you can adjust amounts of vegetables to suit your case; I usually add more potatoes and carrots.




Spinach Asparagus Leek Soup
adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (I prepare them this way)
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4-5 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 quarts chicken broth (or 5, 14.5oz cans or 10 cups)
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)

Directions
Saute leeks and onion in butter until tender.
Add the potatoes, carrots, salt, and broth.
Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. I usually save my asparagus cutting and spinach chopping until this time.
Stir in asparagus; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add the spinach, pepper and cream; heat through.




-jess

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hunger Games Review

After a two-day binge, I finished The Hunger Games Trilogy.



I have mixed feelings about it. Overall, it was an absolutely captivating read and, like a good book or series, after I finished reading I was left in a daze for several hours. You know, the kind where you wonder how the people whose world you just left are doing right now. Seriously, I was not safe to drive. Unfortunately I realized that after I started driving but thankfully I didn't have far to go.

I'll start with the character's names. They didn't work for me; most didn't have a flow about them and after reading a name I would think, always, for a split second, "WHY THESE NAMES??" These names I am talking about include: Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Cinna, and Effie. Every time I read "Peeta" I imagined someone saying "Peter" in a goofy way with their head sticking out awkwardly. It distracted me from the flow of the book. Plus, I had a hard time taking this guy seriously.

There were two names that I did really like: Rue and Prim. They were for sweet, innocent little girls and I think they fit perfectly.

Two more upsides to the book were the story itself; the message, and how the world was developed. The story has political undertones; I agree with them and it seemed a bit realistic so it was also scary to think that we could be heading this way if someone doesn't intervene.

It is a difficult task to create a world, especially a future of our current world, and have enough detail to make it believable. Collins gave enough information to answer all of the questions I had asked in my head about this new world and they were satisfying answers. When I first saw the movie trailer, the first I had ever heard of this series, I thought it looked absolutely stupid and didn't think I would have anything to do with it. I'm glad I changed my mind.

The name problem, that's not really that big of a deal. I can get over someone else's preference in naming their characters. What reeeally bothered me was the ending. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I do not agree with who ended up with who and who lived and who died. It's seems... unnecessary to go through so much trouble to have the book headed in one direction to change it suddenly on a whim. This is the reason I cried while finishing the last pages.

Overall, I highly recommend reading this series. Any book that can draw me in so severely and require me to take a few hours or days to get back into my own world is worth a read. I am interested in seeing how the movie compares to the books. They usually never do, but I love seeing a world I've been to come to life before my eyes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Little Update

~ If you haven't seen it, the vlog Elycia and Kaylah posted on their respective blogs is hilarious and I highly recommend watching it. This is exactly what best friends should do and say.

~ I painted my nails today, also courtesy of Elycia and Kaylah and their zig-zag nail tutorial. Except my ziggy zaggy scissors are plastic and 17 years old and wouldn't cut tape so I had to cut it into boring plain strips with boring plain scissors. By the way, I've been spelling "scissors" wrong all day and probably for my whole life. Sorry Mom.

Belated Valentine's day colors. I purposely included the hand with the Ring. No I didn't. Yes I did.

~ Today has left me feeling inspired. I made some important connections in gaining writing experience and it has left me with wide eyes and an open mind. That, coupled with the enjoyment I've been getting from writing here has left me with a new short term to long term plan, if it goes well: get my words out. On the blog, by leaving comments on the blogs I read every single day so they know I'm there, and in these new ventures and new ways to get my words out.

~ I am also very excited to be taking the bus to go see some friends in Tacoma tomorrow. Hopefully we will be going to the Tacoma Art Museum where I plan to catch the tail end of the Mexican Folk Art exhibit before it ends on Sunday.

Let me end this with a great quote found in the vlog mentioned above:

"Once you go cats you never go dog."



-jess

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine's Day and Beef Stroganoff



Joe and I usually have a low-key Valentine's day at home. For all of the four years we have celebrated it, he buys me flowers and I made P.F Chang's spicy chicken for him. But that's the thing; I don't like spicy chicken so I either have to choke it down in between chugging glasses of water or make something else for myself. Not romantic.

This year, new city new game plan, we're going to go out to dinner the night before (because going out to eat on Valentine's day sounds like a nightmare) to a new restaurant we haven't decided on yet, then for dinner on Valentine's day I am making our favorite meal, Beef Stroganoff.

Beef Stroganoff is the meal where we fast all day and wait with watering mouths until we sit down with our bowls, finally in our hands, and devour first and second helpings without speaking. Even though I pick around the beef, I can't imagine it tasting the same without it.

Beef Stroganoff

2lbs beef tenderloin or sirloin steak (2 lbs if you like a lot of beef, I use only 1lb.)
¼ cup butter
8oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced OR 1-2 cans (6oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cans (10 ½ oz each) condensed beef broth
¼ cup ketchup
1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
⅓ cup flour
2 cups sour cream
egg noodles (16oz bag) prepared (I use a whole bag of noodles plus 1-2 cups from another bag.)


Cut meat across the grain unto ¾” slices, then into strips 3x¼”. Melt ¼ cup butter in large skillet or pot. Cook and stir mushrooms in butter about 5 minutes for canned, about 10 min (until wilted) for fresh. Remove mushrooms with slotted spoon and set aside, leave excess butter in pan.

In same skillet, brown meat. Reserving ⅔ cup of broth, stir in remaining broth, ketchup, and garlic salt. Cover and simmer 15 min. Start water to boil for noodles, cook when ready.

Blend reserved broth and flour; stir into meat. Add mushrooms. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Stir in sour cream; heat through.

Toss noodles with 3tbsp butter. Serve with stroganoff.

*NOTE: We reeally like mushrooms and I always tell myself I'm going to add more. Maybe I actually will this time...


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes for Two + Frosting for Two Cupcakes


Quite a while ago, I found my way from Pinterest to the How Sweet It Is recipe for one-bowl vanilla cupcakes for two. Last night I decided to try them out.

As they were baking in the oven, I realized that I was going to need frosting but didn't want to make a big batch that I wasn't going to use. I searched online for "frosting for two cupcakes" or "how to make a small batch of frosting" but nothing turned up.

I found the Wilton workbook for the cake decorating class I took in December and decided to quarter their recipe for frosting. It made enough frosting for the two cupcakes, and if you can handle frosting like a responsible adult and not pile it on your cupcakes like I did above, you could even make half of what I did and still have plenty for each cupcake. On the other hand, if you happen to have frosting left over like Mrs. How Sweet did, this is a good way to use that up.

Here's what I made:

1/4 c Crisco (or you can use softened butter)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp water
powdered sugar as needed (I just dumped it in there until it was as thick as I wanted it to be, I'm guuuessing it was 3/4 of a cup to a full cup.)

Mix the crisco, vanilla, an water together until combined. Since it was such a small amount, I whisked it in a bowl by hand. Add the powdered sugar in a little at a time, mixing completely as you go, until you have reached the thickness of frosting you want.

The cupcakes themselves were amazing, it's a great recipe. The best part of this whole experience happened this morning, when I realized that I didn't have any leftover cupcakes to pig out on for breakfast.

Monday, February 6, 2012

PINterest

I am especially excited to try these recipes, all found via Pinterest:










I guess it's because it's February, but I have been way into strawberry and red velvet flavors. I have also been way into cooking new things every week. New city, new food!

25 before 26



I should add "practice cursive" to the list. I've been trying to work on it lately.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

We Made It!

We left North Carolina on December 31st and arrived in Seattle on January 6th. Instead of trying to write about the drive (there is surprisingly not much to say, we drove straight through aside from stopping for the night) I have some pictures from each day. A wordless trip story, if you will.