Monday, May 21, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out

I know, I know, another food post.  But, I've had a couple of weeks off from school so I'm getting to cook a little more often.  Hurray fresh foods!  Both of today's recipes were found on Pinterest. 

Chicken Tacos
This is a crock pot recipe I cooked last Tuesday.  I followed the recipe pretty much exactly as they appeared.  It's from a blog called "Skinny Taste"  They have lots and lots of excellent and healthy recipes. 

Ingredients: 
  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder (I used 1 shallot instead)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste
Right after I put all the spices and ingredients into the crock pot, I realized I had left the chicken breast out over the night (not thawing, just out).  So I rushed to the grocery store to buy some new meat.  When I got back I put the chicken in and put the crock pot on low.  
Cooking away!  I didn't go into work that day, so I got to smell the deliciousness all day long!
9.5 hours into cooking I took the chicken out to shred it
I love cooking chicken in a crock pot.  It's soooo tender.  It practically fell apart. 
I put the chicken back in to cook for another 30 minutes 
10 minutes before Jason walked in the door I put some corn tortillas on our comal to get nice and toasty
  Throw in some steamed veggies and voila!
This was a big success.  Next time I'll probably add in a little extra cayenne and possibly some jalepeno.  It also worked great as a left over.  I had it for lunch a couple of times that week. 

Shrimp Penne Rosa and Mushroom Pizza
I used two separate recipes for this dinner.  It was Jason's idea to combine the two recipes, using the pizzas as a vegetable side dish.  Pizza as a side, you say?  Yes, read on!  Jason was also nice enough to help me prep and cook this dinner.  I love cooking with my husband!  We were lucky enough to have our very first home-cooked dinner guest too!  My wonderful sister  :)  She came over to borrow some clothes as she and her husbandy are jetting off to NEW ZEALAND!  Wow!  I'm sure when they return she will be sure to update her blog with lots of pictures.  Okay, now to recipe 1.  We started prepping the pizzas at the same time we put the noodles on to cook.  I'll start with my mistakes so if you're reading this trying to replicate it, you won't make the same mistake I did.  
First, I didn't have enough basil.  This was mostly a result of all the fresh basil I had bought wilting before I made this dish, so I had to salvage what I could. 
Next, I forgot to squeeze the lemon over the stuffed mushrooms before putting them into the oven.  When I found the lemon after we finished eating I thought to myself that this would have been a great addition to the flavor of the dish.  
I also forgot to add the parmigiana cheese to the pasta dish.  I don't think this was a huge loss unless you're really into cheese.  
Finally, I rinsed off the portobellos directly under the water.  The proper way to wash off mushrooms is with a paper towel.  The result of being rushed with water?  They retained a lot of moisture, which all came leaking out while in the oven.
Ingredients for Pizza (adapted from BodyRock.tv; awesome food/workout blog):
4 tomatoes, 4 large portobello mushrooms, 4 cloves of garlic, lemon, 1 leek, 1 onion, fresh basil, parmigiano reggiano cheese, fresh parsley, olive oil, salt.
Sauteing all the veggies.  I substituted jalepenos for the leeks
We spooned out the insides of the mushrooms to make little bowl.  The body rock website doesn't tell you to do this, but I had seen this tip elsewhere and it definitely allowed us to fit in all the toppings. 
Stuffed the mushrooms and placed into oven at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. 
And it was that easy!  A very simple pizza alternative with no bread, lots of fresh veggies, and just a touch of cheese.  
Ingredients for pasta:
  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 lb.) chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Sauteing all the veggies! 
Placed the shrimp in with the veggies until cooked.  After this I added the pasta sauce and Greek Yogurt. 
 
Mixed in the pasta and ready to enjoy! 
The final products!  Everything was very delicious.  Even with the watery mushrooms, I think they turned out great.  The pasta was tasty as well.  I love recipes that use Greek yogurt as a substitution.  It's so easy and flavorful.  We definitely got our vitamin D for the day with all the mushrooms we ate  :)  I look forward to eating the pasta for lunch tomorrow!  I also think these little pizzas would make great appetizers for game day.  Noted for the future.  

Until next time, 
The VrlyFries

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where's the Beef?

I have a love affair with vegetables (see my soup recipe), fish, and poultry.  If a meal calls for ground beef I substitute ground turkey.  As it turns out men like red meat.  womp womp.  And as a wife I think I have a duty to make my man happy...hah...I apologize women of the feminist movement.  But seriously, it was time to let Jason know I'm not completely anti beef.  I decided what better time to make a delicious beefy dinner than Jason's Catholic birthday?  One year ago, on April 24th Jason was baptized, confirmed, and received his first communion.  One of the happiest days of my life!  And I think it's important to celebrate this day.  I looked to the cook book Jason registered for at Bed Bath and Beyond (hmmm I think he was trying to tell me something) to find a delicious yet healthy meaty recipe.  This is what I came up with:
Bridal Edition!  That means it has lots of tips for beginners :) 
                   
                    Southwestern Tri-Tip Roast: Spicy, meaty, low fat, and easy...everything I was looking for 


nom nom nom
 I ended up substituting a spicier dried red pepper for the chipotle. I added quite a few of them, keeping Jason's love for spicy in mind.  
I put the rub on the night before and let it sit over night and through the day .  When I got home we popped it in the oven while Jason and I went for a swim at our apartment's lap pool.  

Cheesy scalloped potatoes.  Not healthy, but very tasty 

The finished product! 

I think it was a little underdone, but the rub was delicious.  The meat had also sat in the freezer for a couple of weeks so it was a little tough.  Next time I'll buy the meat closer to the time I use it so there's no freezer time.  This meal also works great as a leftover.  Jason had a delicious sandwich the next night.  
 Mother's Day Feast
Following Jason Wagner's graduation (WHOOP)
  
 We headed to Houston to visit Jason's mom for Mother's Day!

We decided to fix a Mother's Day Feast on Sunday Night consisting of New York Strip Steaks, salad, baked new potatoes and corn and ice cream for dessert.  
Jason was in charge of the meat.  He put on a simple spice rub and tossed them on the grill
Fresh salad: spinach, red leaf lettuce, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions

Potatoes and Corn with olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, oregano, and whatever else Jason put on it :)  Placed in oven covered for about 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees 

Oh yes, and we had jumbo shrimp cocktail! 

The Feast! 

Finished steaks.  They were cooked to a perfect  medium rare 

And dessert...yum! 

 And there you have it!  We will be having these leftovers for dinner tonight.  I'm pretty excited about it. 

Crafty Becca
Side, non food related story:  Sometimes I get this rush of a desire to be crafty.  This time it came in the form of making wedding shower invitations.  Jason always laughs when these hit because it usually goes like this:  I have this really awesome idea; look at this design; purchase all the materials; get 10% done; okay I'm tired of being crafty.  And then I beg him to help me finish my project :)  Lucky for me he does always help me.  And the finished product was pretty cute;  I was pleased with our work.  
Finished product ready to go into the envelope (Kendall don't read the date ideas.  Okay thnx ) 

Also, this is our refrigerator right now...ahhhhh busy summer.  Good news is, not all of those are invites.  Phew.   Also, yes that is the news paper article I was mentioned in hanging on our refrigerator like I'm in 4th grade and just got an A. Back off.  
That's all for now.  Until next time

The VrlyFries

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Soul to Soul

First, I would like to thank everyone who sent me encouraging messages following my last blog.  Your words mean so much to me!  Good news:  I have survived!  The bulk of my work has been turned in and I have only two small papers to turn in by next week. Just as I was finishing my last little bit for the evening I decided to check in on the online class I am a TA for to respond to any messages.  I've been way behind on grading in this class and therefore have been getting a lot of "ummmm where's mah grade?" messages.  So, checking my blackboard email always makes me a little anxious.  
Blackboard loads super slow in Google Chrome so first all I see is that I have 2 unread messages. I gear up for answering some questions.  The first is titled "feedback on assignment".  I fully expect this person to be arguing with me about a grade they received.  Instead, it's a very sweet message about how much they appreciate all the feedback I've provided to them throughout the semester.  The second email is titled "Thank You" and sure enough this girl also thanked me for giving lots of helpful feedback and making her feel like I cared about her learning process.  
Well shoot students!  That's just the thing I needed to hear as we are winding down this semester...now next time just copy my professor onto that email so she can see too ;)  But seriously, I try so hard to provide quality feedback on each of their papers, which usually results in grading taking way longer than it should.  It's so helpful to hear that at least some people appreciate this.  

On another note I had my ipod on shuffle today and it started to play Acapella's song "Good Old Acappella".  I love this song! It reminds me of some of my happiest childhood memories riding in our old subruban learning about music, God, and quality family time.  Oh yes, we all had our own parts.  It's pretty epic. 


Funny story about this song.  When Jason and I were about 1.5 years into our relationship we traveled to the good city of Belton, TX for my cousin's wedding.  Following the ceremony we got into Bryan's car with his wife, my sister and her husband.  Well, sure enough this song came on. And well, all the Vrla kids jumped right back into their little harmonies.  Bryan had the bass, Kimberly had the melody, and I was belting out that tenor line.  We hard core get into these harmonies.  It wasn't until the end of the song that I looked at Jason and saw this "wtf was that" look on his face.  I dunno, I think 1.5 years was an appropriate amount of time to let him in on (one of) me and my family's (many) quirks.   

I know I already posted one video of the song, but I had to also post this one because this group has some pretty sweet dance moves...