Thursday, January 20, 2011


Nothing screams comfort to me like a giant loaf of meat.  And while every time I hear the word meatloaf my mind instantly goes into "I would do anything for love" mode (i.e. the Dr. Pepper commercial), the only meatloaf going on in my house is the edible kind.  Even though my mom had their old record, and I'm kind of wishing she kept it, no lie.  Any who...This is the way my mom made meatloaf.  She never strayed from this recipe, and that's because it worked for us.  I know a lot of people are die hard fans of using bread as the binding agent, but there's something about soggy bread that completely freaks me out.  That's why bread pudding is banned from my house.  Food has always been a texture thing for me, which is why it is hard for me to swallow things like sushi, raw oysters, and fried mushrooms (morel mushrooms are a different story, good gracious those are good.  I'm talking about the fried whole mushrooms you get at old diners.)  My friends think I'm weird and we can all laugh about it but everyone has their quirks about food, and soggy bread is mine.  So for our meatloaf, we use oatmeal.  I know, I know, it's not traditional, but it's good! Darn good.  And I just might make a believer out of you yet!
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

21 Days *Update*

So, I know you are all on the edge of your seats with this one...Did I made the goal??? Yes! Buuuutttttttt, not quite in the time I gave myself.  With a family funeral, Christmas, New Years, basketball practice, games, and overall craziness I didn't get it done by January 1.  But, as I sit here typing I can say that the living room and bedroom are awesomely clean, and the kitchen and bathroom are clean (minus wiping down the counters and sweeping.)  So I would have to say that I got finished with the 21 day (+5) challenge and now I'm trying to tackle the idea that I can keep it clean for 1 year.  So far so good!!
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chicken Club Sandwich w/ Chipotle Mayo

I love to look at food blogs, but I don't necessarily want to be seeing a new gourmet recipe every time I log onto my computer and see my blog roll.  Sometimes it is nice to see something simple that inspires me to use the things I already have in my refrigerator.  That was the case with this recipe.  There aren't a lot of measurements, hello, it's just a sandwich.  But let me tell you, this was one ah-ma-zing sandwich.  A little bit of spice, the cool avocados to help that out, and a healthy balance of lean chicken with fatty bacon!  My only complaint was that the sandwich was too tall to fit in my mouth!  It was a pretty messy dinner, so if I make this in the future, I will definitely be pounding out and flattening my chicken breasts to make for easier eating! 

Start by making the chipotle mayo that will go on top of the sandwich.  If you haven't used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce before, give them a try.  They are a smoky, barbeque-like jalapeno pepper.  I use them in a great beef roast for tacos (I'll post that someday...)  The only problem is that I rarely use the whole can.  I either cover the can and put the extras in the fridge or you can freeze them in a Ziploc bag and just break off the amount you need in the future.  If only I had that much freezer space! 

Place 1-2 chipotle peppers with 1/2 cup of mayonaisse in a small food processor.  Add an extra spoonful of the great sauce from the can.  You cannot mess this up I promise!  Run the processor until there aren't any large chunks of chipotle left.  Set aside.

At this point I cooked the bacon and the chicken at the same time.  I cooked the bacon on medium-low on the stove top and grilled the chicken on the trusty Foreman.  While both of these were cooking I put together a tray of the toppings!

After the bacon is cooked place it on a paper towel lined plate and keep some of the drippings in the pan to toast the bread.  Add a little butter or olive oil to the pan and melt to combine.  Place the Ciabatta rolls cut side down into the pan and toast.  If you want to cut fat or calories you can always toast the buns in a toaster oven or don't do it at all.  It really won't change the structure of the sandwich, I just thought it felt more diner-esque.  And yes I just made up that word. 

Next, assemble by spreading some of the chipotle mayo on the bottom of the roll.  Then layer with lettuce, chicken, bacon, avocado, tomato, onion, and top of bun spread with chipotle mayo.

Yes that's Timothy's sandwich in the front.  I only put about 2-3 of the smallest pieces of bacon on mine in the back.  That man can flat out eat a huge meal, it's really insane!  Insane in the membrane I tell ya!

We've got a runaway onion here...and you'll notice that now the lettuce is under the chicken.  Minor misstep!  It really doesn't matter how you stack it, this is one awesome sandwich!  Side note: I peeled off the filmy onion skin that you see there after I took the picture.  But I was so hungry I didn't have enough energy to take more pictures after that!

Notice the sandwich in the front versus the one in the back.  I love me some veggies.  Timothy only gets along with lettuce, cucumber and apparently avocado.  You should see us at restaurants when the salads come before the meal.  It's like a thirty second swap meet.  Serious business. 

And this is what you see when you cut into this bad boy.  Now can you see why it may have been a little too tall to eat?
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How To Roast Garlic

I have never roasted garlic before.  I figured I would go ahead and get that out there. Honestly it just kind of creeps me out, and I love the flavor of garlic so much I was worried that it would change the natural flavor a lot.  But it didn' was awesome!  I made my favorite mashed potatoes and added in the roasted garlic at the end.  Holy cow did that add a lot of flavor.  Plus it was so simple I can't believe I hadn't been doing it before.

First, you need to cut the top off the garlic, about 1/4'' from the edge.  This is the end that points out, not the curved end.  Sorry but that's about the best description I can give.  Cut off the pointy end not the butt end.  Make sure you peel off as much of the skin as possible (this was my number one mistake)  Then lay it on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Wrap up in the foil very tightly and place in a 400° oven for 45 minutes.  The important thing here is not to mess with the garlic or unwrap it to see if it is done.  Trust me on this one...

When the garlic has finished take it out and let it cool, in the foil.  Even though it will be tempting to take it out of the foil...don't!  This is what it will look like after it has cooled.

Then you just squeeze it out and you can use it in all your favorite recipes!
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Bean Salsa

Every year, the most popular New Year's resolution is to lose weight, be healthy, work out more, or all of the above.  Admittedly, I go through the same vicious cycle every year.  It's like this horrible checklist that replays itself. 
  1. Eat really healthy and work out January-May (during the week at least)
  2. Eat pretty healthy and work out some June-August
  3. Get busy with school/basketball and start to slip during September-October
  4. Pig out November (Thanksgiving is a month of calories in itself, but family and food are more important to me than some scale)
  5. Double pig out December
  6. Regret it December 26-30
  7. Pig out December 31st with the thought in the back of my mind, "I'll start tomorrow" 
Whew!  Exhausting right?? Well if I'm going to be completely honest with you, the fabulous readers, I would have to tell you that the cycle will probably repeat itself this year, at least in some form.  But one thing I can tell you is that I'm all for trying!  Goals are a great thing to have, and I love a good routine.  I am thankful for my job in that I have a good breakfast and lunch routine.  It's dinner and parties that become the problem.  Dinner because my husband is a meat and potatoes man.  Will he eat a grilled chicken salad? Yes. Once or twice a week max.  But every other meal he would love to have some meat thrown in the mix.  I married the son of a cattle farmer.  The things we do to ourselves... And I really love my salads, but come on! Who really likes salad for the 5th time in a week when your husband's plate consists of steak and potatoes??  That's what I thought!

So I figure if I stay on track for breakfast and lunch, and stick with moderation for dinner, I am on the right path.  I try to throw in some healthy alternatives every chance I get.  I am a self proclaimed lover of all things containing cream cheese, especially dips.  It's a curse I tell ya!  So sometimes when I need to bring something to a party in which I know all the food will be pretty bad, I bring this salsa.  It is great with baked tortilla scoops, or homemade pita chips.  And it is totally interchangeable too!  If you don't have a green pepper, use a red pepper.  If you don't have a red pepper, use a yellow pepper.  If you don't have a yellow pepper, use a chili pepper...Seriously I could go all day.  But please, if you use a chili pepper, listen to some of their music too.  It's fabulous.  I have been known to throw in black eyed peas (Mazel Tov!) and avocados if they look good in the store.  Pretty much anything you can get your hands on or what is on sale at the time.  I think my favorite part of this salsa is how many things I have found that it is great on.  Examples include: spreading it on a block of cream cheese (heavenly), mixing it with salad and chicken for a twist (fiesta!) and for lunch today, throwing it and some grilled chicken in a tortilla (holy burrito!)  So this salsa is definitely mutipurpose, and quite good for you.  Leave me a comment if you can think of another way to use the salsa, I'm always open to new ideas!
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Au Gratin Potatoes

When I made the easy chicken dish last week I was looking for something that would go great on the side.  Specifically a potato dish that could stand alone and also be paired in the future with something like ham, or chicken. I had attempted au gratin potatoes before but had never gotten quite the consistency that I really wanted.  On a side note, are they au gratin? Or scalloped? Or both? Or does it matter? I say so what, who cares?  All au gratin or scalloped debates aside, I was going to make it a point to succeed this time!  I thought about all the problems I had in the past trying to make this cheesy potato goodness, and there were a few things that stuck out.  Consistency and "doneness".  Sometimes they would come out runny, other times everything would be perfect but I would have to bake them for an extra hour just to finish the potatoes.  And let me tell you, an extra hour when everything else is ready to eat is the worst.  It's like getting the Victoria's Secret Semi-Annual Sale catalog but the in-store sale doesn't start for a few more days.  Agony. 

So I decided to just do my own thing.  I love trying other people's recipes but nothing was really successful for me.  I decided to slice and boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes until just barely fork tender, and make my sauce while all this was happening.  The result, beautiful, creamy, cheesy potatoes that didn't end up mashed.  Success in my book!
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