Saturday, May 19, 2012

Life Lately

I've actually been spending some time at home these past couple of weeks. You see, It seems like all during the month of April, I only spent one or two nights a week at home. While everything I was doing was tons of fun, it definitely took its toll on my bank account. I never ate at home, and I definitely spent a lot on alcohol. You know how I am....STILL haven't come to terms with the fact that I'm not a college student an entire year later. It's okay. I've come to terms with it.

Wednesday, I started my new position in the company. It's definitely going to be something a little different than what I'm used to. There are new people to get to know and get used to, and new responsibilities that come along with it. I did, however, get some pretty good leads to hopefully become successful kind of soon-ish. My location has an almost completely new staff, with only one person out of six not being hired within the past couple of months. So we'll all be learning together.

My BFF Katy graduated from college last weekend. I drove down to watch her walk across the stage, and have been lucky enough to see her twice since she's been home. She and I met up with some of my coworkers last night to watch the OKC Thunder game, and then ended up grabbing some beers and watching the second half at my house until the wee hours of the morning. She stayed over too, and I let her sleep in. Then she and I got sucked into the 2011 Reebok Crossfit Games this afternoon. It was weirdly fascinating. I'm not kidding.

Other than that, I've just been enjoying life lately, planning out my summer vacation, anxiously waiting to move into a new apartment with Katy, and actually cooking at my place for the first time in a couple months.

On the agenda for this evening: Game 4 of the Thunder/Lakers for the first half, then Caravan with my good friend John for some much needed two-stepping that we haven't done in about a month.

Happy Weekend, y'all!

Monday, May 14, 2012

4 for 12

Welcome to the April restaurant of the month!! I went to this local eatery VERY late in the see, we went to The Black Keys concert on Saturday, April 28, and I still had not gone to a local restaurant yet. Luckily, my girls and I had decided to go to a place downtown that I had never been to before. It's a little place called Caz's Chowhouse, and there is also a bar across the street called Caz's Public House.

Unfortunately, there were a couple shows going on that night, so they didn't have the full menu to choose from. I did, however, get something VERY yummy from the small menu that was available.
Pulled pork sliders, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes
Typically, the pulled pork sliders come with cole slaw on them. However, I don't like cole slaw at all, so I asked for them without it on there. Other than the fact that our waitress was SUPER slow and our food was cold by the time it got to us, it was actually pretty good.

The bread on the sandwich was REALLY good...slightly sweet and complimented the tangy barbecue sauce  of the pulled pork.I wolfed down all four very quickly, and would LOVE to eat them again. Seriously, SUCH GOOD SLIDERS. The mashed potatoes were pretty good too, I love a good red mashed potato. The Mac and cheese was big shells, and the cheese was just creamy enough, and they topped it off with bread crumbs.

I truly think I want to go to this place again on a different night when there aren't two or three different shows in town...maybe. I would definitely like to try my food when it's hot.

Another recommendation, DEFINITELY DO NOT try the margaritas. All they do is mix tequila with sweet and sour, no lime, no margarita mix. It was not good at all.

Meh. Hopefully May's will be better. And no, I haven't gone, and no, I have no idea where it's going to be either.

Would I go back? Maybe. Not anytime soon though. Caz's is tainted by the cold food.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Adventures in Cooking, part 3

As I started living at my place longer and started craving certain foods, I decided I wanted to explore quite a bit more. I actually found quite a bit of inspiration on pinterest, but I wasn't exactly sure where to start. So instead of trying everything at once, I just tried something very simple (without pinterest), and then traded up to trying something from my pinterest board.

First up, Yummy Tomato Soup in a Bread Bowl:
Not going to lie, I kind of cheated on this one. We had one of our few cold days this winter, and I was having some allergy issues. All I wanted was the comfort of some warm soup and I absolutely love soup in a bread bowl. However, this tomato soup is TOTALLY Campbell's (they make the best), and the bread bowl is definitely not home made either. I went to our local grocery store, and went to the back of the store to the bakery, where they had sourdough loaves on sale. I took a loaf home, toasted the entire loaf in my toaster oven, and then carved out the inside of it. Once the soup was heated, I poured it into the well of the bread bowl I had created. It hit the spot, and was exactly what I was craving that night.

Next Up, my very first Pinterest recipe, Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken!:
How I ate it for the first meal, on a sandwich with some Italian blend cheese toasted on the buns.
I first pinned this recipe probably within the first couple of weeks of having my pinterest board, and knew that this was definitely something I wanted to try ASAP. If you follow the pin, you will find this recipe on this blog. It's a super easy recipe and so. dang. tasty. I've had it 3 times since the initial time I made it. It is that good.

-1  3 lb. bag of frozen chicken tenderloins
-1 bottle of Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce
-1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix.

Put all ingredients into a crock pot. (Chicken goes in frozen.)
Cover the ingredients and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
Pull out each chicken piece and shred with two forks. Return shredded chicken to the crock pot. ad 1-2 TBSP of butter to the crock pot.
Heat on low for another 1-2 hours.

After that, it's ready to eat!
I had it on a sandwich the first time I had it, but it's GREAT as a soft taco with some shredded cheese and sour cream to top it off. It is such an easy recipe too! I gave the recipe to my grandma to cook at her house, and it was a hit there too. Definitely try this one out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Adventures in Baking, part 2

So one week, I bought a clump of bananas. Stupid me didn't realize that when you put bananas on top of a refrigerator, the heat makes them age faster. So I had to find a way to make the remaining three bananas last for a couple days. Enter Banana Bread! Banana bread was a rare treat at my place, but I loved it a lot. However, my mom came over one night and I told her my plan to bake some banana nut bread. I didn't give her enough notice to bring me whatever recipe was at home, so we scoured the internet together to find a recipe that seemed fairly easy enough and what she thought had the right ingredients for a "perfect" banana bread.

After searching through a couple recipes, I found the one on this site, and it was mom-approved.
Part of its appeal was not the need for a mixer, as I don't have a good stand up mixer, just a small hand mixer.

-3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed (you want the bananas to be almost inedible)
-1/3 cup melted butter
-1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
-1 egg, beaten
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-pinch of salt
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
With a woodens spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.
Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
Add the flour last, mix.
Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan (I used a loaf pan the next size up).
Bake for 1 hour.
Cool on a rack, remove from pan, and slice to serve.

The problem is that with my oven, it cooks a lot faster than I realized. So while I was trying to make sure the middle of the loaf was fully cooked, the tops and outsides of the loaf got slightly burned. So here is the result on my end:
As you can see, the very end of the bread got burned.
The ends were bad bad bad. But if you cut away the burned parts of the bread, it was PHENOMENAL. Like I said, I wanted banana nut bread, so I added a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts into the mix. I added them as the very last ingredient, after the flour.

So, like I said, I had never cooked or baked much before, so when I went to pour the mix into the loaf pan, I was very confused as to why my batter looked kind of like extra lumpy cake batter. If you've baked this type of bread before, I'm sure you're probably laughing at me right now. But if you're wanting a pretty easy banana nut bread recipe, definitely try this out.

I'm definitely going to try this again, but in muffin form. And I now know that anytime I am baking, I just need to lower the temperature on my oven about 15-20 degrees. My oven cooks hot for some reason. If you try this out, let me know!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Adventures in Baking

In all the cooking that I had done in my apartment, I very rarely ever baked. And when I did, it was something straight from a box. I have seen and tasted WONDERFUL homemade things, so I decided I wanted to try my hand at making something from scratch.I used my February visit to Norman as an excuse to bake some homemade cupcakes to take to my friends while I was visiting them.

I asked one friend in particular if he preferred vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, and then hunted the internet for a fairly easy vanilla cupcake recipe.

Here are the cupcakes before they were iced:

Recipe (taken from here):
Yields 12-16 cupcakes

-3/4  cup butter (not margarine)
-3 eggs
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 3/4 cups sugar
-3 Tablespoons vanilla extract
-1 1/4 cups milk
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • Prior to starting, get the eggs and butter to room temperature. Grease and flour 2 cupcake/muffin tins, or add cupcake wrappers to trays.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the salt, baking powder, and flour.
  3. Beat butter in an electric mixer on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until combined. Continue to beat and add the eggs. Beat well and add vanilla extract.
  4. Add part of the flour mixture, then part of the milk and beat on low. Repeat until all of the milk and flour mixture have been added. Combine and spread batter into cupcake pans.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cupcakes are golden brown and toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool for at least 15 minutes then remove from pans. Frost cupcakes as desired.
Things I learned while making these: You definitely need quite a few bowls for this. I just did not have enough. Make sure the butter is beat well before you start adding other things because you'll get chunks of butter in your mix if you don't. Don't fill the cupcake wrappers all the way to the top. The cupcakes come out HUGE!

I wanted to make some homemade strawberry icing, but the recipe that I wanted to use had weird ingredients, so I just ended up buying already made strawberry frosting:

The cupcakes were GOOD. I just haven't made these again since then, and I want to make a vanilla bean cupcake that links to the page I found this recipe on.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adventures in Cooking, part 2

Once I started to realize that there were only so many times you could have grilled chicken tenderloins or grilled burgers before your stomach started craving other things, and wanting junk food as well.

So I started looking in my church's cook book for ideas and reading the back of my rice and pasta sides boxes to see what I could do for a meal.
Mexican meatloaf and Mexican rice
I do not like meatloaf. But I found this Mexican meatloaf recipe and thought that it sounded really good, so I wanted to try it out and see if I was going to like it. I LOVED IT, and have cooked it a couple times since living here.

The recipe is this: For every 1 lb. of ground beef, add 1 egg, 1/2 cup salsa of your choice, 1c. shredded cheese (any kind). Mix ingredients and form loaf. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, or until top is browned. Serve topped with sour cream (I added more cheese on top of the piece of meatloaf).
The only thing that I didn't like about this first time I made it was that I used a picante-style salsa, and I'm not too big of a picante fan because of the huge chunks of onion and bell pepper in it. But every time since then that I have made it, I used a salsa that I like and it is wonderful.

For the Spanish rice, I followed the instructions on the package.

Chicken Fried Rice
For this meal, I used the chicken fried rice Pasta Roni box, and if you look on the back of the box, it gives you instructions on how to make it a meal by adding chicken, frozen peas, and an egg. I didn't have frozen peas so I had to add canned peas. And I like peas a lot so I added more than it called for, but other than that I followed the directions on the box.

This wasn't one of my favorite dishes I made, and to be honest I think the canned peas had something to do with it. I probably won't make this again.

Extra meaty chili
For this one, I bought a package of McCormick's chili seasoning and followed the directions on the back of that to make the chili. I used a little more meat than it called for because I like thicker soups. The one package made enough chili that I was able to freeze it to eat at a later date.

You should definitely try out the Mexican meatloaf if you're looking for something new to try! I really do like that recipe quite a bit and was glad that I decided to try it out.