Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's Spring And My Garden Is Growing!

It rained quite a bit last weekend and a good amount this week. Because of all the rain, my garden has taken a little bit of a beating. :(

You're probably asking how rain can be a problem for a garden. Well, it's a problem when you get TOO much rain and the containers start overflowing even with drain holes!

All in all though, my garden is doing great!

The garlic and shallots just keep getting bigger and bigger.



Every garlic clove I planted sprouted, but it doesn't look like I'll have the same luck with the shallots. All but one of the lil suckers made it, so I guess I can't be too upset!

For the most part, the herbs are doing great for too! 

The rosemary is just thriving and I keep looking for new ways to use it. 

The thyme is growing well and spreading out a little in the container. 

The chives are doing great too. 
I recently used quite a bit of them and they're re-growing quite well.  

The new basil is still a lil guy, 
but I can't wait until it gets bigger and I can start using it!

The mint and the flat leaf parsley are still there, yet aren't doing as hot as the others.  I did a major cutback on the mint this weekend. I got rid of everything that didn't look very healthy.  And the flat leaf parsley just had to go! While watering I noticed what looked like little bug eggs. There were some on almost every shoot so I decided I couldn't take the risk and got rid of almost everything!

The Mint

The Flat Leaf Parsley...
what's left of it anyway!

All three plants that were victims to last week's rain are still around. I'm happy to report that I didn't lose any of them, but at the same time I wish I could say they were all still thriving.  The radishes seem a little weaker, the strawberries still need to be transplanted and the jalapeno is a little droopy.  Even with the droopiness though, I noticed the first blossom of the season. Jalapenos are on the way! MMMMmmm.

The Radishes

The Strawberry Plant

The Jalapeno Plant

The tomato plant is still relatively small, but I have faith that like last year it will turn into a monster. It just needs time. And time is what I shall give it! Time and water. :)

And lime tree.  Ahh the lovely lime tree. While I know for almost certain that I won't be eating anything from it anytime soon, it continues to make me very happy! 

My First Attempt At Fried Chicken!!!

Let me start off by saying that I looooooooooove fried chicken! I found a place really close to my apartment that make some amazing smoke fried chicken, but it's not the cheapest! And chain place...they just don't make fried chicken that is all that great.

I've made fried foods before, but I'd never ventured into the fried meat territories. I've always been scared the outside would be done way before the inside. I solved that problem by using a cooking thermometer and chicken that was cut into very thin pieces! 

That's right...I did it! I made homemade fried chicken that was 100% from scratch! 

It wasn't your traditional fried chicken, but it was just as good! It was all white meat - my favorite - and just strips of meat without the grossness of a chicken bone.  

The chicken hanging out in milk. 
(I used a mixture of heavy cream and 2% instead of the coconut listed in the recipe!)

The flour and cornstarch mixture.

Egg whites!
(Sorry that they're not too appetizing to look at...)

Panko breadcrumbs!
I love them and they really made this dish amazing.

Beginning the frying process.

They're getting close to being done!

Andddddddd they're DONE!!!

So how was my homemade fried chicken on my first attempt? 

Pretty darn amazing!

SO amazing that I want it again, every day for the next... week, maybe month!

I'm joking!

They were really good and will absolutly, without a doubt be made again - just not daily! ;)

I also used the leftovers in a tasty salad for lunch today. Just as tasty as last night! 

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

Last weekend I was looking for new recipes to make. While looking I came across a recipe for slow cooker pork ribs.  I'm always looking for new slow cooker recipes and I LOVE pork ribs so I decided I'd make it for dinner that same day!

The ribs in the slow cooker.

The ingredients ready to smother the meat!

After cooking for about five hours, it was time to dig in!

While it was very tasty and fell off the bone for the most part, there was just a lil too much fat for my liking. This was my fist time making ribs, and I didn't trim it very well in the beginning, but now I know if I decide to make ribs again. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Soup: Chicken Tortilla

It's been raining ALL day. Literally ALL day. I don't think it's stopped once since it started late last night.

I knew it was going to rain - I check the weather forecast daily, so I thought ahead and knew some kind of soup would make a perfect dinner for a rainy Sunday night!

I've made multiple kinds of soup from scratch before, but I wanted to try something new! I ended up making Chicken Tortilla Soup that I found on my go-to website, The Pioneer Woman. (I love her and her food!)

I've attempted to make a Chicken Tortilla Soup before, but it just wasn't like you'd get from a restaurant or even from the grocery store. It was more of an oddly spicy Chicken Soup. 

This time...with the help of my girl crush, The Pioneer Woman, I was successful! I made a few modifications to her recipe, like swapping red bell pepper for orange bell pepper (because I had it in my fridge) and swapping the green bell pepper for an Anaheim chili!

I made it Saturday night and used a close friend as my taste tester. They said it was "incredible!"

After trying it myself on Sunday night, I have to agree.

I served it with warm Corn Bread. Not because it "goes with" the soup, but because I wanted it so I made it! MMMmmm corn bread with melted butter and honey!  How can you NOT want that?!?! :)

*NOTE: I know there is only ONE photo and I'm not sure why. The lack of photo has no indication on how tasty this recipe is - it's amazing BELIEVE me. It is more do to the fact that I was busy making other thing... which will be blogged about soon! Stay tuned. :)

Chocolate Sea Salt Popcorn

When I first saw THIS recipe, I knew I had to make it! And I had to make it soon!!!

I love chocolate - especially dark chocolate and that's what I planned on using, and I love the combination of dark chocolate and sea salt. The saltyness and bittnerss just go so well together and make magic happen in my mouth!


Chocolate Chips, Butter, Skim Milk Party

Melted Party!

Popcorn Meat Melted Party.

Laid out to dry and sprinkled with Sea Salt.

I have to say though...while the end result was and is good, it's a tad on the salty side! I even decreased the amount in the recipe and it was still too much. I guess I'll know better for next time!

The Return Of The Tomato Plant!

I'm so happy to let you all know that I FINALLY have a tomato plant in my wonderful garden! Everything is shaping up nicely and I think I'm done buying things. It's time for everything to start growing and for me to start eating the goodness!

Now - what you've really come for...

Without waiting any longer - here is the newest addition to my garden and what I hope grows as well as last year's plant did!

And a close up of the lil sucker!

Equally exciting is the fact that almost ALL of my shallots have now sprouted. When I took the pictures on Saturday, eight of the nine shallots had sprouted and were growing quite well. And just when I thought I got a batch of duds... 

The garlic is doing quite well too!  It just keeps getting taller and is really thriving!

Currently my Jalapeno Plant is getting some TLC because it took a beating and was drowning from too much rain. But yesterday, as you can see below, it was doing quite well. I'll have to see if it's still as happy after the rain stops!

The radishes weren't a match for the rain either. After draining them off once and moving them under a chair, I had to finally cover them completely. They held on after getting hit by the falling storage unit, and now the rain...what's next for these guys??? :(

And the final victim of the rain - which is actually the first tragedy of the day - is the poor Strawberry plant! After cleaning it all up yesterday, and finding tons of tiny lil berries, I rehung the hanging planter.

I must not have hung it well enough because the entire thing came falling down and cracked completely early this morning.  It's been too rainy all day to try to replant them, but I'll let you know how it goes! 

The herbs are doing well and seem to be one of the few things that are loving all the rain!

The newest addition - The Basil

The Mint

The Rosemary

The Flat Leaf Parsley

The Thyme

The Chives
...were forgotten this week! :(
I have NO idea how I did that, but have no fear -
they'll be back soon.

The ever so beautiful flower - the Rannnnaidontknowwhatheyrecalled and the Pansies!

And last but not least - my pride and joy (that I'm so scared I'll kill...) - my Lime Tree!

Nothing amazing to report about it because there aren't any new development, buttttttt it's still alive and that's what really matters! :)

Graham Cracker Sandwiches A La Mom!

Last week I promised you I'd let you know what I did with the leftover frosting from the Sprinkles Cupcakes...

Since I like to keep my promise, I would like to introduce the world to a special treat I remember from my childhood.

The Graham Cracker Sandwich!

I couldn't resist!!!

On multiple occasions, I can remember my mom making these yummy treats with frosting she had leftover from a homemade birthday cake or some other cake. I remember finding extra tucked away in zipper bags in the fridge too. I think there was even a time that they had blue frosting!  

Not only were the ones I made tasty and worth every calorie, but they also took me back to when I was growing up in Tucson. To when things were more simple and life seemed SO easy...

Homemade Pear and Pepperoni Pizzas

No, no not a combination of Pear and Pepperoni - two different pizza! That would be a really odd combo, but I bet there are some even more odd requests!

I recently told you about the Pear Gorgonzola Pizza I made with my friend, Robin. I decided to make it again with my friend, Alison but this was going to be a little different.

Yes, it was different because I'd be making it with a different friend and at my apartment this time. But it was also different because instead of using dough purchased from Trader Joe's, I was going to attempt to make my own!!! 

My friend Melissa recently made some and it inspired me, so I had to give it a try.

Can you believe it!?!

I know - amazing!

Haha. I'm so amazed at myself because I've NEVER used yeast before! It's quite surprising seeing the amount of baking and cooking I do, but I guess I've always just worked around it (like buying Trader Joe's dough...).

The mixer with the dough hook.

The yeast in the bowl.

The yeast, water, sugar mixture.
Waiting wasn't fun but worth it!!!

All the ingredients!

The dough kneeding.

Done mixing, covered in oil and ready to relaaaaaaax.

A few hours after chillin' in the fridge.
Getting bigger...

And big!
Wowwwww - look how big it got! :)

My first experience with yeast made me want to make even more things with it!

I think next time I'd divide the dough into three pieces instead of four, but other than that I was very satisfied with the dough and will make it again!

The Pepperoni Pizza

The Dough

With Sauce

With Toppings Before Baking

Ready to be eaten!

The Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Before Baking.

And After!

With the leftover dough, Alison made these Fried Dough Balls.  They're something her family's made for years. I love being introduced to family stuff like that! :) 

To be honest, I was a little scared to try them at first. The thought of fried pizza dough didn't sound too great... and they weren't the prettiest things to look at, but when you dusted the with powdered sugar they sure did taste amazing! I think we may be making them again...