Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chicken and Rice Casserole!

Chicken and Rice Casserole is one of my family's favorite meals. I've always loved it and it's a great, unique casserole. Kevin especially loves it, I used to make it for his roommates in college and they would all gobble it up!

Last night, Kevin's brother, Sean ate dinner with us. I was going to make something a little more exciting but Kevin wanted chicken & rice casserole, so I whipped one up. I didn't take any pictures, but it was delish. Beware, this recipe is not low fat, lol, but that's what makes it so good:

Chicken and Rice Casserole
- 2 lbs chicken breast
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 package cream cheese
- 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
- shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil chicken breasts until done. Slice into bite size pieces and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package. Warm mixed vegetables in a separate saucepan over medium heat.

Combine butter and cream cheese until thoroughly mixed and divide in half. Stir half of the cream cheese/butter mixture into the rice and the other half into the vegetables until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

In a casserole dish, add all of the rice so that it creates a uniform layer across the bottom. Next, add the mixed vegetables on top of the rice. Add all of the pieces of chicken on top. Then add the shredded cheddar cheese to cover the entire casserole (about 2 cups). Make sure to cover as well as possible, without getting too thick in any one spot.

Cook for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Yum, I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch today!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Recap

Well, it's Monday... that means the weekend is over. We had a good weekend and I'm sad that it went so fast. We didn't have much to do, so it was full of relaxing and we even got a chance to spend some time at the pool on Sunday! It was so hot here in NC though... 100, 100, and 102 degrees on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, I was inspired by a post by The Nester to finish decorating one of the spaces in our living room. The wall to the right of the dining area was blank and I'd been trying to figure out what to do there for a few weeks. I went to HomeGoods and Marshalls in search of a cool lamp that might help define the space. At Marshalls, I found the perfect lamp, in the perfect shade of sea green/blue. I love that it ties in the color from the other side of the room. Then I found these cute floating shelves/ledges for $16 too! I thought it would be great to add some height and for photos.
I can't wait for tonight, because it's Bachelorette viewing with sushi, wine, dessert and friends! :) Oh my, hopefully today will go by fast!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinner and Library!

So, now that we've moved to Cary, we're a lot closer to a Wake Co. public library! I'm so excited about this, even though I won't need any more wedding books/magazines, like last summer... I went to the library last night and got a bunch of cook books and decor/entertaining books. I'm really excited to read them and get inspiration and new ideas. Plus, we're hosting a dinner party for Sarah's birthday in August, so I need menu/decor inspiration!!
Kevin made dinner last night, and it was fabulous! I had no involvement, except to grill the steak outside while he was preparing everything else. I had no idea what we were really eating until we sat down, it was a fun surprise. We had his take on 'tacos and rice' but instead of mexican rice it was a sweet potato and almond risotto (delish!). The soft tacos were a Bobby Flay recipe with grilled flank steak, red onion, avocado, lettuce, sour cream and a homemade salsa! Everything was so original and so good! The risotto was awesome and very unique, I felt like I was at a restaurant with a dish like that. I'll see if I can get Kevin to post the recipes on here sometime!

I hope everyone has a great day!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

Last night I made a penne primavera with yellow squash, zucchini, and homemade turkey meatballs. This was a random meal, so I was kind of making the recipe up as I went along. But, I think it turned out pretty well.

Below is a list of what I used to make the turkey meat balls. However, we didn't have any breadcrumbs, so I made makeshift breadcrumbs by grinding up seasoned croutons in the food processor. I also added in some mozzerella cheese to make them a little bit more interesting.
Turkey Meat Balls:
- 1 lb Ground Turkey
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup mozzerella cheese
- garlic, italian spices, salt, & pepper
Then, I just mixed everything together, made little meat balls, and cooked them in a skillet on the stove top. While those were cooking, I had my penne pasta boiling and squash sauteeing in garlic, spices and a little bit of butter.

Once everything was done, I mixed the pasta, squash medley, and meatballs together in a bit pot. I added a little bit of browned butter, garlic, spices, and olive oil to coat for a light sauce. Then, as a secret addition, I added some diced bits of cream cheese. I would have liked to have used a goat cheese or cheese like feta, but we didn't have anything so I thought the cream cheese might be the next best thing. It was pretty good!
Later that night, Kevin made Irish Soda Bread, one of his favorites, with our new stand mixer. So, needless to say, we had a lot of dishes to clean at the end of the night. ;)

Kevin's making dinner tonight, so we'll see what he has up his sleeve tonight. I have no idea what it's going to be.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Fun!

This past weekend went by so fast, but it was great. On Friday, Kevin bought his new computer, which he'd been saving and waiting for since before the wedding. All of the problems with our old, slow laptops were driving him crazy. We also finally picked up his diploma frame and hung it above his desk in the office.
Saturday, we took my sister on a tour of UNC-CH and ate lunch at Top of the Hill. They have really good sandwiches and burgers at lunch time. Then, we went to NCSU's bookstore to pick up my diploma frame, but they were closed... So, we visited the State Club to see my brick which had been recently installed. Darcy and I even took a second to pose with the wolf statues. After that, we wen't to my parents' house for a relaxing evening.
On Sunday, I spent the afternoon at the pool. It was really nice to relax and get some sun. Then, I went to Lowes and found some casual outdoor furniture to put on our back porch. I got a little metal cafe table and two chairs, perfect for what we need. Plus, Kevin said it reminded him of the table and chairs at our honeymoon apartment in Paris.

For dinner, we made grilled chicken sandwiches on the grill. I had Muenster cheese on mine, and Kevin had Peper Jack cheese on his. We ate broccoli salad with the sandwiches. I had been waiting to try a broccoli salad recipe that I'd seen on TV a few days ago. It was really good. Click Here for the recipe. The recipe calls for sunflower seeds, bacon, onion and raisins to be mixed in with the broccoli. But, I chose to omit the raisins, just because Kevin and I aren't crazy about them in the salad. Instead of cooking bacon, I went the easy route and used bacon crumbles from a bag, and it turned out pretty good. It was a nice cool compliment to the sandwiches.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Kevin, and I'm a Mac

Tonight I am making my first addition to Meredith and my blog, as well as my first real addition to the decorating effort for our new apartment. Sort of. What I call decorating some might call it splurging on a ridiculously huge, and awesome, new computer. Today, with Meredith's approval, I finally upgraded from the laptop I have been using for the last 6, or so, years. If you just look at the memory upgrade over Meredith's laptop (512 MB DDR2 to 8 GB DDR3) this computer has 32x more RAM.

Whats more, it will be the first time I have ever owned, or really even used, a Mac. The reason I call this decorating is because the 27 inch display on my new iMac is definitely the dominating feature of our office / guest room.

While using a Mac makes me feel like a complete idiot (my unofficial title at work is the groups "Computer Nerd", which is saying something in a group of 50 engineers, but it took me like 5 minutes to figure out how to save a word document on this thing), I can already tell Meredith and I will enjoy the transition, and the sweet new computer.

Baking a Cake!

Last night, I baked what I would say is the best cake I've ever made. Yes, it was random and on a whim, but I decided to put on my apron and test out all of our new appliances and gadgets! I've been dreaming of a KitchenAid stand mixer for years now and I was ecstatic to finally use ours.
So, I decided to make an almond pound cake, one of Kevin's favorites. I chose a vanilla cream cheese frosting and added almond extract to give it that extra oomph. I got both of the recipes from The cake was a recipe from Paula Deen (Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake) and it had a rating of 5 stars, so I knew it was going to be delish. The frosting (Cream Cheese Frosting) also had 5 stars and is so simple, I don't know if I can ever go back to using store bought frosting again! I documented a lot of the steps along the way... enjoy! Here are all of the ingredients for the cake.
First, I started out by creaming the butter and sugar in the mixer. It's really important for the butter to be softened. It makes the process so much easier. Then, once the sugar and butter were sufficiently creamed, I added the sour cream.
With those mixed together, it was time to add the eggs and dry ingredients. I had sifted the flour and baking soda together just before adding to the mixer. You add an egg and some of the flour mixture in alternating fashion until everything is mixed to become the batter.
Then, I added the extracts to the mix and finished it by stirring everything up. This recipe called for 1/2 tsp of orange extract and 1/2 tsp of almond extract. The orange extract is really great and you don't really notice it after it's been baked, but I think it works really well with the sour cream in the batter. Since Kevin loves almond flavoring, I added another 1/2 tsp of almond extract, some people probably would think this is too much, but we loved the added almond flavor!
Once the batter was complete, I poured/dolloped the batter into two 8" cake pans. The original recipe called for a tube pan, but I wanted it to look more like a regular cake, so I opted for normal round pans.
Since I did this, it was important to remember that the cook time would be different for these pans. So, I baked the cakes, checking for done-ness along the way, and they were done at around 60 minutes. Then, they cooled in their pans for 10 minutes and on wire racks for about another 20 minutes.
I had mixed the cream cheese frosting while the cakes were in the oven. I added the 1 tsp of vanilla extract that the recipe called for but then added just a little bit (about 1/4-1/2 tsp) of almond extract for an enhanced flavor. Then, I stacked the cakes and frosted the cake!
I was really proud of the final product, especially since I'd made some changes to the batter, pans, and icing(which could have been disastrous if done wrong)! It was delish and Kevin gobbled his slice up.
I can't wait to see what we'll make next with our new gadgets. I have a long list of recipes to try out, so we'll see what happens!

Apartment Decor Update!

We've made so much progress in a week! After we finally got all of the furniture in, it made figuring out all of the little decor items much easier. I got two framed prints to go above the couch from HomeGoods (on sale!) and they look great because they have all of the colors we're using. I also picked up some light blue window panels and a floor lamp and this area is basically done! :)
Living room area with new pictures, lamp and curtains.

Here's what our master bedroom looks like. We didn't have to buy anything new for this, which was so nice. But, since our new room is bigger and it makes everything look even better than it did at the old apartment.

We did have to pick up some wall decor at HomeGoods and Marshalls to decorate the bathroom. We had a couple extra walls that looked kind of bare, so when I found these cute aqua paintings I knew they were perfect. Then, I found the cute LOVE quote and thought it would be nice here too.

On another note... Darcy got his own personal little makeover on Wednesday. He was soooo scruffy, see pic below. I took him to a new place to get groomed and they did a great job. It's called Ooh La La Pet Spa and it's super close to our new apartment. He had a lot of fun with them and all of the other dogs. So, here's what he looked like before and then his after pics are to follow.
Sorry, there's so many pictures, he's so cute I had to take a million to try to get a few good ones!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Taste of Paris

I found this blog post earlier on The Kitchn blog and I really need to make some of these things. All of these Parisian treats look amazing!!

mini pain au chocolats

croque monsieur


I especially have to make these macarons ASAP... almond macarons with chocolate ganache filling, delish!

Apartment update!

This weekend we got so much done in our new apartment. We moved all of our furniture to the new place and began the process of unpacking. Everything is really starting to come together and it looks great!

There are a lot of little things we need to do to finish decorating, but we'll be doing those in the next couple of weeks. Here's a picture of our new loveseat with the pillows and painted wall. We also got a new coffee table that looks great with the rest of the furniture in the room.

There are the pictures of the room with the sofa. Now, I need to put up the curtains and other decor items. Oh, and here's a picture of our dog, Darcy, relaxing in the kitchen. :)

We even had a chance to spend some time relaxing outside at the pool on Sunday afternoon. It was a fun/busy weekend!

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