Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chopped Birthday Party

This year for my birthday I decided I wanted an interactive event so I had a Chopped themed birthday party.  Have you ever watched Chopped on the Food Network?  It's pretty easy to get addicted.

We modified the format based on the fact that I only have one kitchen at my house and am not a professional chef.  We had 2 teams of three and both made a main dish.  We each had separate secret ingredients and took turns.  

Team 1 aka Team Gingersnaps- My Team.  I had been mentally preparing all week and was ready for anything.  Until the second I opened my basket.  I froze.  

Secret Ingredients - Cooked rotisserie chicken, pineapple, baby potatoes, and ginger snaps.  

After a brief discussion we decided to grill the pineapple, add some bbq sauce to the chicken, roast the potatoes and figure out the ginger snaps later.  After the most intense 40 minutes of my life we presented our dish.

Final Dish - BBQ chicken over baby potatoes roasted (and microwaved) with garlic, cumin and chili powder between grilled pineapple with a gingersnap butter glaze.  We had such high hopes for our plating but ended up being a bit rushed while also enduring tons of smack talk from the other team.    

Team 2 aka Eat My Grits - The OTHER team. 
Secret Ingredients - Raw organic chicken breasts, asparagus, pre-cut butternut squash, and jalapeno pepper jelly.  

Final Dish - Spinach and Goat Cheese stuffed chicken breasts with asparagus over a butternut squash, parmesan cheese and grit puree with a balsamic jalapeno jelly glaze.  I knew we were doomed when I caught my first glimpse of those stuffed chicken breast.  

Team Gingersnap - In my heart, this is the most beautiful  Chopped dish ever created because it was made with love and ginger snaps.

Team Eat My Grits - I guess if you favor a classically beautiful southern dish, you may think this looks good.  Although it's missing the beauty of the bbq sauce smears.  
Even though Team Ginger Snaps suffered a crushing defeat, this event was very fun.  My husband did a great job organizing it and playing the role of Ted.  He purchased tons of "pantry" items so we had things to use in our creations and he created a numerical voting system so we could all vote for each other.  We also had 3 "show" judges who gave feedback.  
Ok, Team Eat My Grits, we'll see you at Chopped - The Ultimate Revenge (after I take some courses at my local community college culinary school).

Monday, August 13, 2012


This is a little late but we had an Olympic Opening Ceremony Party a couple weeks ago.

Special guest Mo Young arrived from Las Vegas with this awesome gymnastic t-shirt for me and her own Olympic themed outfit.  I forgot to take pics of everyone else but there were some track and field stars and a very American themed baby. 
I totally could have helped the Fab Five win that gold.  Ok not really, but I can still do a roundoff.
We served Olympic themed food.  This is a really easy bean dip that I stole from my sister's Pinterest.  I added the American flag tortilla crumbles on my own.
 Shanzie brought Olympic Ring cupcakes.
 Mo made this almost American Flag Caprese salad.
 And Curly T always comes through with the fruit, this time British style.
Did you do anything to celebrate the Olympics?
What was your favorite part?

I love gymnastics and I got pretty in to swimming this year.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Salsa Competition

This past weekend my friends invited me over to participate in taco night and a salsa competition.  Once I made sure it was the food and not the dance I was psyched.   Since Farmer Gene has access to a lot of fresh veggies from his garden, I decide to try to win in creativity.  So after perusing the Internet, I decided to go with Watermelon salsa and a Mediterranean style salsa.

My watermelon salsa came from this recipe.  I eyeballed most of the ingredients (instead of measuring) and used red onion instead of green onion but everything else was the same.

I found the watermelon salsa to be really refreshing.  It was good with chips but probably not something I'd put on a taco.

For the Mediterranean salsa, I just made it up.  I thought of as many Greek/Mediterranean things as I could and put them together to make salsa.  (Sorry, no Kalamata Olives, since I'm an olive hater).
I'm not great at measuring but here's what I used in this salsa.

Mediterranean Style Salsa-
Cherry tomatoes
Red Onion
Green Pepper
Jalapeno Pepper-just a little
Pepperoncini Peppers- chopped (I used 2)
Chick Peas-chopped into smaller pieces, not too many
Italian Parsley
Dried Oregano Leaves
Feta Cheese-Crumbled
Lemon Juice
Red Wine Vinegar (just a couples splashes)

B and I arrived to table of salsas with an assortment of chips.  Everyone really pulled out all the stops.  Ingredients beans, avocado, corn, peaches, strawberries, etc.  It was a great variety.  And we were super full before we even started eating tacos.

In the end, Farmer Gene took the top prize with his tomato, corn, peppers, onions, herbs, etc masterpiece.  Seriously there were like 20 ingredients in his salsa and it was amazing.  I won for most creative though.  Holla.

This was an awesome idea and everyone had a lot of fun.  I think everyone should have a salsa competition with their friends during the summer and maybe we'll do another one next year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekending.....Tacos, Free Art and Downton

Happy Memorial Day.  I don't actually get this day off from work for some weird reason but I hope all of you who do are having a good one.

I actually made some things (other than wine charms) this weekend.  This pork took me about 4.5 hours total time to make (including the stove top simmering) but it was worth it. The pork recipe is from What's Gaby Cooking.

I even made fresh guacamole instead of going the Wholly Guacamole route like I've recently been known to do.  Then I added a little pepper jack cheese.  De-wait for it-lightful.

I also made some free art...well if you consider wine corks in an old apple cider jug, "art".
I am kind of obsessed with rearranging the items on this shelf.  It's right above the TV so I find myself frequently staring at it and making changes.  It's already changed from this picture.
I also decided to start on my summer TV schedule.  This usually involves me catching up on a few TV shows on Netflix Streaming.  I watched 3 episodes of Downton Abbey and I'm hooked. 

On Saturday evening I hosted a cookout at my house (although I didn't actually make anything for it).  There as also that brief incident where my car started smoking (it has since been repaired).  So, even though it wasn't a 3 day weekend, it was still a good weekend overall. 

What did you guys do?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Treats-Pretzel M&M Hershey Kiss Things

I'm not sure what they are called but they are delicious and easy.

You should make these for your boyfriend, secret crush or co-worker for Easter.  He/she will love them.  They could also be fun to make with kids.  (I personally could have used someone to unwrap all the Kisses for me.)
HOW TO-Buy square pretzels, M&M's (peanut or regular), and Hershey kisses.  Place pretzels on a cookie sheet and put Hershey Kisses on top.  Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 2 minutes.  Kiss will be slightly melted so you can press an M&M into it.  Then put them in the fridge to harden them.  They are so simple but the combo is soo good.  The hardest part is unwrapping all the kisses. 
And they are pretty.

Are you making any Easter treats?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Super Foods....Smoothies and Spinach Salads

After running this weekend, I decided to make some healthy lunch/snack items to eat so I will get strong and awesome.

Ever since my first job as a smoothie maker at Creative Juices when I was 16, I have been obsessed with smoothies.  There is an art to it.  I recently decided that buying frozen fruit is expensive.  So instead I have been buying a can of crushed pineapple and then freezing it in individual sandwich bags to use in my smoothies.  It works very well and since the pineapple is crushed, you don't get big chunks in your smoothie.  The key to smoothie making is making sure you have blended everything together perfectly.  Feel free to take the blender cup off the blender and shake it around if things aren't blending properly.  Chunks are bad.  Your smoothie is done blending when your smoothie spins around in a circle that dips into the middle (while the blender is still going).  Like the bottom of the blender is sucking down your smoothie in a circular motion.  You will know it when you see it.  Trust me.  OK onward.

Women's Health Smoothie....
-1 small container of vanilla yogurt (6-8 oz)
-a splash of cranberry juice (or any juice really)
-1/3 of a frozen banana
-1/5 of a can of crushed pineapple (frozen in little plastic baggies, throw away bag though, don't blend)

Blend it up until it's smooth (see above) and drink it out of a beer glass (if you want to and you have a bunch of beer glasses).  Good stuff.

Then I decided to make a spinach quinoa salad.  Spinach is a super food and all.  The key to this salad is this......

Jarred grilled veggies.  You can get these at Harris Teeter (in a smaller jar, near the canned vegetables, might be roasted instead of grilled) or at Costco in this giant jar that I have.  This jar has zucchini, red peppers, eggplant and artichokes in a vinegar and oil mix.

Power Salad
-cooked quinoa
-jarred grilled veggies
-balsamic vinaigrette (whisk canola or olive oil, a spoonful of mustard, a spoonful of honey, and some balsamic vinegar together-just add stuff until you like the taste and consistency or just mix any oil and vinegar together to get some sort of dressing to mix in)
-bag of baby spinach

Mix the cooked quinoa with some of the chopped veggies (add in some of the oil from the jar of vegetables for extra flavor) and then add some vinaigrette.  Then get a large bowl of baby spinach and add some of the quinoa mixture to the top.  Mix it so that the spinach gets coated with the quinoa vinaigrette mix.  Good stuff.

If you make and eat these two recipes you will grow up to be healthy and strong.  Probably.  Maybe. 

Do you like spinach salads and smoothies?
What do you eat that makes you feel healthy?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pinteresting-The Craft Version and The Pinterest Challenge

Update-I originally posted this a few weeks ago but I'm re-posting it today for the Young House Love/Bower Power Pinterest Challenge. 
A few weeks ago I decided to 'pinter' some art work.  I made this picture one night while my husband was watching some sort of sport downstairs.  He never even saw me in action.
I got the idea for this from hereHere is where I pinned it.  Essentially you just paint or draw branches with brown marker or paint and then paint circles on the branches as leaves.  I used some old acrylic paint I had lying around.
I was not 100% happy with this when I finished.  Once I put it in the frame, I liked it better (fun fact-you can make most bad art look decent by framing it).  I like how it looks from far away but not so much from up close.  Fortunately, I usually only look at it from far away.  So for now, it's a keeper.  I can always re-frame something else when I get sick of it.

The second thing I made didn't come from a specific pin.  I had seen a lot of people use paint sample chips (cards from Lowe's, Home Depot) to make art work.  So I thought I'd give it a try.  After some trial and error I went with these hearts in varying shades of blue which I taped onto a piece of white paper.  Then I framed them in this dollar store frame. 
So if I end up hating it in a few weeks there will be no big monetary loss.  (Free paint chips+ $1 frame=$1).

Here's how it looks all together.
Have you pintered any art for your house?

UPDATE 2-So I'm actually still liking my tree painting.  It's growing on me, so I think it will stay up there for awhile.  Now I need to re-pinter some art for the basement since my first attempt was a failure.  You can check that one out here.