Happy Birthday, Hubs!

Yesterday was a great day! It was Ryan’s birthday! I love celebrating  the amazing man God gave me!

He’s a great husband, my best friend, an amazing leader, a dedicated servant of God! I just love him!

Happy birthday hubs!

We spent his birthday weekend with family in Lamar. He got a great new grill that I can’t wait to try out. Sadly, he has to put it together… 🙂

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The Monday Munch (on Tuesday): Hummus

It’s time for another Monday Munch! Yes, it’s Tuesday, but I have my reasons, one of which involves a long work day and a nap.

Anyway, last week I decided to make my own hummus. I love hummus. I’ll be honest; I love pretty much anything that can you can eat as a dip. It’s my weakness.

This recipe is a pretty basic hummus. It’s a good starting point if you are new to making or eating. I am looking forward to expanding on this recipe with different mix-ins like roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts. Yum!

I modified this recipe from one I found at AllRecipes.com. It’s a mild tasting hummus that doesn’t use the traditional tahini paste. I’m sure tahini paste is a great addition; I just didn’t have any on hand.

The ingredients

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1/8 c olive oil
  • 1/8 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c of water or drained chickpea liquid
  • Sprinkles of rosemary and garlic
The steps

Making hummus is a pretty simple process. Drain the can of chickpeas and reserve the juice. Dump the chickpeas in a blender or food processor. A food processor will definitely work better than a blender because you don’t have to leave any delicious hummus behind under the blender blades.

Pour in the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and chickpea juice (or water). Sprinkle in the rosemary and garlic. A fresh clove of garlic would work great, too. I would start with 1/2 a clove and then increase, if desired.

Pulse and blend until your desired consistency. I like my hummus fairly smooth, so I did add some extra juice. Transfer the hummus into a bowl and enjoy with carrots or chips or a spoon. I won’t tell anyone!

The Monday Munch: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

The Monday Munch! The plan is a recipe every Monday, and first up is chicken Caesar pasta salad.

I fell in love with this dish at Cheddar’s and decided to make my own version. Chicken Caesar pasta salad is one of my go-to meals usually reserved for spring and summer. Ryan and I have eaten it on many a picnic!

I made this salad last week for dinner with a good friend. It even travels well. I packaged up the parts of the dish and assembled it in my friend’s kitchen with a quick slice and toss.

The cast of characters
The dish is simple, and the ingredient list small:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce (or a bag of salad)
  • 1 1/2 c of whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Caesar dressing
  • Olive oil for tossing
  • Parmesan cheese
The steps
The process is pretty simple. Begin by seasoning the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place the seasoned side down on the grill and season the other side.
For quick grilling like this, I use my George Foreman grill; it might possibly be my favorite kitchen appliance! It only takes about 6-7 minutes to grill up chicken. Next, I added the pasta to a pot of boiling water and cooked it as directed on the package about 10-11 minutes. While the chicken is grilling and pasta cooking, I chopped up my head of Romaine lettuce. I have found that 1 head of Romaine lettuce is the perfect amount for 2 people. After I chopped the lettuce, I rinsed it in a colander and shook off the excess water.
I added the chopped and rinsed lettuce to a big bowl. Then, I removed the cooked chicken from the grill.
I love the grill marks! Once the pasta is cooked, I drained and rinsed it with cool water to bring the temperature down. I then lightly tossed the pasta with olive oil, salt and pepper. This helps prevent the pasta from clumping during transit and also cuts down on the amount of dressing you need when tossing the salad. Cooked pasta seems to soak it up!
With all the parts ready to go, it’s time to toss! I added the pasta to the lettuce along with some dressing. Then, toss to mix it all together. Top off the salad with the chicken, which I sliced, and some Parmesan cheese! Voila!
I hope you enjoy! Pair the salad with a roll or croissant for a great meal! What recipes have you modified from a restaurant favorite?

My adventure with spaghetti squash

On my journey to learn how to cook healthier things, I came across the spaghetti squash. I’ll be honest; I was a skeptic about how good it could really taste and how easy it was to use. I am now a believer.

Last week I decided to tackle the spaghetti squash by making a modified lasagna. I figured that if it had a strange taste, the sauce, cheese and meat of lasagna would cover it.

The finished product was delish! I’ll admit that it’s more like a pasta bake and less like a lasagna because the layers don’t stay well defined. When I make it again, I will probably mix the sauce, squash, meat and cheese together like a pasta bake rather than a layered lasagna.

Anyway, let’s get started with the recipe!

Ingredients: medium spaghetti squash, pasta sauce, 1 lb hamburger, 1/2 c diced peppers, 1/2 c diced onions, oregano, olive oil, 1/2 container ricotta cheese and mozzarella.

The Steps:

1. Cut a medium sized spaghetti squash in half. Place it both halves on a foil lined baking sheet cut side down.

2. Bake the squash for an hour in a 375 degree oven. Once soft, remove from the oven and flip the sides. Let the squash cool as you prepare the next ingredients.

4. Brown the hamburger meat. Drain and remove from the pan.

5. Return the pan to the stove, add olive oil and saute peppers and onions. Add a dash of oregano.

6. Prepare your tomato sauce if needed. I use a dry seasoning packet that is mixed with tomato paste and onions. A jarred sauce will work great. You will need about 2 cups or so.

7. Take the cooled spaghetti squash and scape the flesh out with a fork into a medium sized bowl. It will turn into little strands like spaghetti. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.

8. Layer your lasagna. Begin with a small amount of sauce followed by a layer of squash, the meat, peppers & onions, sauce and a layer of ricotta cheese. The ricotta is difficult to spread so small dollops work best. Repeat the layers one more time.

9. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes.

I let it cool for a little bit and served it with salad. Again, when I served it, the layers didn’t hold. Embrace the messiness!

a change of scenery

Spring has arrived! However, I am afraid that the weekend might not have gotten that memo with rain and coldness on the way.

Although I enjoy having all four seasons in Missouri, I must admit the warmer weather and blooming flowers are a welcome change. This past week the hubs and I were surprised by some scenery changes in the front yard. What I thought was fast growing grass has turned out to be a row of beautiful daffodils!

I love the cheerfulness of daffodils! And better yet, these beauties required zero work from me. I can’t help but smile when I pull in the driveway!

The daffodils also became the inspiration for my new blog header. In honor of the season change, I decided to do a little spring cleaning to the blog. I hope you like the changes!

Next week I hope to provide an update on my thesis for you, Internet. I know you are excited!

Welcome spring!

winter showers

No, not the rain-type of showers…wedding showers!

About 3 weeks or so ago, I helped organize a wedding shower for a fun couple at church. In honor of the slightly warming temperatures and their wedding colors, the decorations brought a little bit of spring into winter.

I just wanted to share some pictures of the decorations…

I made a gift table banner out of scrapbook paper and ribbon. I was pretty excited with the results!

I added to the triangle motif–can triangles be a motif? Anyway, I added to the triangle motif with a fun pennant at the dessert table. Oh, and don’t worry about the lack of desserts in the background. All the wonderful, sugary goodies hadn’t arrived yet!

I also fell in love with these apothecary jars I found in our church craft closet. There were only two, so I used the bride and groom’s initials for a whimsical take on a monogram.

We went with “OH” because the umm..alternative wasn’t very church appropriate! Actually, I added a “C” between the letters to make it a true monogram when the shower began.

Lastly, the bride and groom made out like bandits with lots of goodies and wedding well-wishes!

The groom-to-be was able to help open presents and read cards without spilling his coffee. I was impressed!

All the yellow and flowers and wedding-talk makes me ready for spring!

spring break

Spring Break 2011 marks my last spring break as a student. The hubs and I have been celebrating in style.

Be prepared to be blown away by our awesome-ness.

Kidding.

I have been staring at my computer working on my thesis:

And he has been studying for his Praxis that he takes on Saturday:

Don’t you wish you were on our spring break, too? I mean, we are pretty hip and active!

On the upside, we started our spring break out with a trip to St. Louis to spend time with good friends. It was so nice to relax and enjoy some great conversation (and food) with friends. Thanks for letting us stay Hughes!

We also went to watch the Bears play in the MVC tourney but that part of the trip ended in heartbreak. We don’t talk about that much.

We also saw a movie last night. I know, we are getting a little crazy! We saw “Just Go With It.” It was a pretty cute movie. Despite its chick flick tendencies, there was enough humor and such to keeps the hubs entertained. I laughed a lot! And, I came home with some good one liners, if I could just remember them all!

I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of spring weather!