Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chimichangas make my Top 5

Could you decide what your favorite meal is?  Could you pick just one? 
High Fidelity: A NovelHigh FidelityI don't know if I can but then again I tend to have a hard time picking my one favorite of anything.  I tend to follow Rob Gordon's lead, the main character from the book & movie High Fidelity, and pick my top 5 of things. Top fives are amazing because as, High Fidelity explains, you can have a top five of anything from:
your top 5 worst breakups to your Top 5 track one's of music albums.  One of my husband and I's favorite games is to force each other to choose of Top 5's of something. In fact we even spent our entire first date talking about our top 5's!  My husband reasoned that if I had a good top 5 favorite albums then that meant I was probably pretty legit. 

We take Top 5's pretty seriously.  

This recipe for Chimichangas makes my Husbands Top 5 for Favorite Homemade Dinners.

This is a recipe by Linda Burgett at My Kind of Cooking.  
It comes from Linda's Mild to Wild Mexican Cookbook.  
 Linda is without a doubt one of my Top 5 favorite Cookbook Authors.


1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. ground pork
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced  (I tend to use green chile)
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tspn chili powder
1 tspn brown sugar
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 tspn cumin
1/4 tspn oregano, crushed
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
8 (12 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup refried beans
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Vegetable oil for frying

In a large skillet brown beef and pork over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and jalapeno pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onion is tender. Drain grease and add vinegar, chili powder, brown sugar, salt, cumin, oregano, and tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring constantly. In the center of each tortilla spoon 2 tbsp of the refried beans, 2 tbsp of cheese and 1/4 cup of meat mixture.  Fold the tortilla over filling and fold in the ends.  Secure with toothpicks. In a large skillet pour oil to an inch depth, heat over medium high down into oil. Add a second and cook 1 minute or until golden brown. Carefully turn over and cook the other side for 1 minute or until golden brown. Place on paper towl to drain. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. 
Makes 8 servings.  
Mild Version: Eliminate cumin and jalapeno, reduce chili powder  to 1/4 tspn.  (honestly though i wouldn't eliminate the cumin.  it adds great flavor)

The great thing about this recipe is that once the meat and onions are cooked you basically throw everything else in and let it simmer for 15 minutes! Easy! 
Know that this looks kind of blah but it is actually Delicious!

*Note* It is important that you warm the tortillas before topping with ingredients and folding.  Tortillas will tear if not warmed properly.  A great way to warm tortillas is to wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel or towel and then heat it up in the microwave for 15 to 45 seconds.

 The wrapping of the tortilla follows traditional burrito folding procedures but you need to wrap these bad boys pretty tight.  
First fold opposite ends of the tortilla toward each other till they touch.

Then fold the bottom of the tortilla about half way up and then start to roll it into itself as though you were attempting to make a spiral. 

At this point Linda suggests you secure the tortilla with toothpicks, but I never do.  I just place the tortilla in the fry pan with the folded part down.  If it tries to come unfolded hold it together with tongs until it holds its form. Flip it over when it is golden brown.  

Then place it on a plate covered in paper towel to soak up the excess oil.  

Repeat until you are all out of tortillas or mixin's 

Enjoy the best Chimichanga recipe you will find this side of Mexico

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Unbirthday!

"Happy Rob day!"  I said to my husband.  I actually said this about 100 times yesterday.  I dedicated the day to my husband "just because".  Which in my family, a day dedicated to some one for no particular reason, would be referred to as your "UNbirthday".  My Dad has always been a great advocate of unbirthdays and he would throw them for me and my brother very randomly. It was always quite the surprise to come home from school to discover cake and presents waiting for me because it was my unbirthday.  Possibly my favorite part of an unbirthday is when my Dad takes on the persona of the mad hatter and sing the Unbirthday song from the Disney Cartoon "Alice in Wonderland".

If you are curious about unbirthdays allow me to have the master of unbirthdays explain it to you:
That movie was without a doubt my Fathers inspiration.  Much to my delight my Dad continues to throw unbirthdays even though I am an adult. He even gave my husband an unbirthday party before we were married! Unbirthdays are going to be a tradition in my family.  Its destiny. and in the spirit of that I created Rob Day.

My husband is on his last semester of grad school and it feels like he has a mountain of things to do, one of which being to finish his thesis...dun dun dunnnn! My goal is to keep him as happy, well fed and appreciated as possible so he can finish this last stretch.  So as of late i have been on the lookout for an unbirthday type opportunity.  Thankfully my friend Macey introduced me to the Dating Divas via her blog and now I have all of the husband spoiling ideas I ever wanted right at my fingertips! The Dating Divas are a blog that is "Saving Marriages One Date at a Time" which I am totally on board with.  And their post  These Are a Few of His Favorite Things was exactly what the doctor ordered!

So now I present to you...Rob Day!

The first surprise my husband discovered was the breakfast of champions! 

Along with some very valuable coupons for him to look forward to cashing in. You may ask about the second coupon but a Lady never kisses and tells.  

 I also snuck another note and one of Robbie's favorite treats into his back pack for him to find while he was out adventuring on campus. 

Later that afternoon I carefully placed one of his favorite beverages into the fridge with a label (which ensured that his brother doesn't come and drink it. lol) That cola by the way is no ordinary Coca Cola. oh no.  It is a Mexican Coca Cola meaning that it is made from cane sugar. Cane sugar = Yum!

For Dinner I made his favorite meal Chimichangas (which is another on of Lindas Recipes and I will post about that on Thursday) 
For dessert I baked some very delicious Nestle Tollhouse cookies that we had in the freezer.  To my husband there is nothing better for desert than a chocolate chip cookie.

Happy Unbirthday everybody!! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lemon over Chicken! Yes Please!

I have a wonderful friend, Linda, who has the best food blog called My Kind Of Cooking.  I follow her blog pretty much religiously which shouldn't be a surprise considering I am basically her biggest fan.  You guys have to check it out!  She is a professional cookbook writer who, I kid you not, has out sold Rachel Ray! Thats right...she is just that good!  The wonderful thing is that her recipes are super easy, have very few ingredients and are are oh-so-yummy!! Seriously you should stop reading my blog right now and check out My Kind of Cooking! By the way, Linda gives away one of her cookbooks every month!  So make sure to follow her and leave a comment on her blog so you can win one of those bad boys.

This week I tried one of Lindas recipes from her newest book The Busy Woman's Slow Cooker Cookbook If you love chicken, citrus and crock pots...then you will LOVE this recipe.  Seriously.  Love.

Lemon Over Chicken

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
1 lemon, halved
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

In slow cooker, place chicken. Squeeze half of lemon over chicken. Sprinkle lemon pepper and paprika over chicken. Slice remaining lemon and arrange over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Makes 4 servings.

Can you believe there are only 4 ingredients to this?  Brilliant!
These are the spices I used.  I found my self doubting whether or not a teaspoon of the the paprika and the lemon pepper was going to be enough but I decided just to trust Linda. And I am glad I did!  A teaspoon went a surprisingly long way and had I added more the pepper would have been a little out of control. 

In my crock pot the chicken stacked on top of each other so I put one layer in first and added half of the spices to the first layer. Then added the second layer of chicken along with the rest of the paprika and lemon pepper sprinkled on top.

Then I took one lemon half and squeezed the life out of  it, onto the chicken, until I felt I had exhausted its juice capabilities (I really love Lemon so I wanted to make sure I was getting my moneys worth) 
Finally I got to my favorite part! I sliced the lemon and placed all of the beautiful little slices on top of the chicken. My lemons were pretty small so I sliced up a second lemon to make up the difference.   Can you believe how pretty this dish is?!

Guess what happened next?  I closed the lid and walked away...for hours!  I put my food in the crock pot at high since I started the meal in the afternoon and came back about 4 hours later and enjoyed, what is now, one of my favorite meals!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 4 into the 21 Day Yoga Challenge

Ah the constant struggle.  The balance between exersize and your schedule.  As you all know I have started the 21 days of Yoga Challenge and I would like to say that I have been really good about blocking out a set period of time per day to yoga... but I haven't.   BUT I am proud to say that I have done some yoga everyday.  Which is the point right?!  To just need to get in the habit and fit it into my lifestyle.
I started doing the video sequences in the order that Yoga journal planned out on their website and man I was just not feeling the so called "45 minute FUN flow".  You call that fun? Maybe if you were super yoga like to kill yourself person, which I am not.  Sure I love yoga but goodness that was intense! So with the intention of sticking to my 21 day plan and not quitting on the first day, I decided that I would start out with something that was actually "fun" and I came across their hip opener sequence video, for day 6, which turned out to be perfect! (I just love hip openers. They are my favorite : ) It was exactly what I needed and it lifted me out of my grumpy state (oh yeah I was super grumpy when I started day one...super grumpy is a few steps down from super yoga. lol).  Since then I have just been picking and choosing whichever video I like on their website or doing my own routine.   I am pretty sure that is the better way to go.

Here are a few other things I found: 
~If you are brand spanking new to yoga: I highly recommend the 20 minute evening sequence that they have for week one, it is very simple and relaxing. 
~If you want to try a meditation: the life enhancing audio guide on week one was pretty rad.  I suck at meditation but this was an effective technique for me.

Tonight I am trying the 20 minute core sequence and I am excited!  Wish me luck!

Happy yogaing you guys (lets pretend that yogaing is a real word)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 21 Day Yoga Challenge

On Friday I am beginning Yoga Journals: 21-day Yoga challenge!  Thanks to the holidays, my snooze alarm and procrastination I have totally neglected my yoga practice.  I would love to say that  I pray, do yoga, meditate and exercise everyday (and who wouldn't) but I don't. So when I came across this article by Hirali Dowlie in the February edition of Yoga Journal and read about her experience with the 21-day challenge I was inspired!  It reminded me that I can do all of those things everyday, I can make it a habit but I have to shape it to fit in my life. I have to give myself a realistic block of time and more importantly I just have to do, it even if it is for only 10 minutes a day.  For example I find myself feeling guilty that I often only practice yoga in the mornings for about 20 minutes but I don't need to because this article reminded me that "Even 10 minutes every day is better than a two-hour sweatfest once a week". 
Man I needed to here that! 
Hilary Dowle also wrote in reflection to her experience with the 21-day challenge did said "Daily practice has increased my capacity to stay present with the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and sensations that come up on the mat—and in the dentist's office, the grocery store, and the pickup line at school. In other words, I more easily remember that the skills I build through practice come in handy all the time. Yoga spills over into my life."  
Which for me translates to God will spill over into my life and the peace and clarity he gives me through my time I get with Him through yoga.
 Because for me yoga is not only a wonderful way of taking care of my body,  it also clears my mind and connects me with God.   Through yoga God is teaching me how to listen to Him and to my body; allowing Him to heal me both psychologically and physically. I hope you can see now why I am so excited about this 21-day challenge!
I would love for you to join me.  I will keep you posted on my progress and I hope you will keep me posted on yours.   You can get started by joining at for a day by day guide, videos and a daily newsletter to keep you motivated.  The February issue also has some great tips and a simple sequence you can do everyday.  
They say it takes about a month to build a habit and here is our chance! 


Monday, January 10, 2011

Instant stress relief from Neck Rolls

Do you carry your stress in your Shoulders?
Do you constantly find yourself waking up with a kink your neck?
Do you suffer from upperback pain? 
Then you need neck rolls!  Neck rolls are a very old, unpatented, surefire way to ensure that your neck has the mobility to move where you want to look!  For only 1 installment a day of 2 minutes or less you too can have the power of Neck Rolls!
*Not suitable for anyone with any pre-existing neck problems. Please consult your doctor first.

Neck Rolls are one of my favorite yoga poses to do and have helped me more then I ever could have imagined (which sounds insanely cheesy but it is true!).  For you see, my upper back likes to get winy (and sometimes it is screaming) but thankfully neck rolls know just how to sweet talk my shoulders and upper back muscles into chilling out!  Probably my favorite thing about neck rolls are that they have this magical ability to still my mind (which is no easy feat, believe me).  Neck rolls are so very relaxing, especially if you take your time. 

Luckily neck rolls are very simple.
First take a seat either in a comfortable cross legged position on the ground or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground; sit up strait with your shoulders relaxed. Then look down with your head, close your eyes, relax your jaw and begin to roll your head to the right slowly.  Rotate your head all the way around until you return back to center. Repeat at least 2 to 3 times and then roll your head the other direction, to the left, for the same number of rotations.


Tip:   Whenever you come across a kink or a tightness in your neck pause your head for a moment and take a few breaths.  Try to think about relaxing into that spot while you breath into it and then continue on until you reach the next kink.  Do not be discouraged if you have a lot of kinks in your nexk,  this will get better with time and will fluctuate with the stresses that you encounter in your life.  I  can not tell you the number of times practicing this exercise has made me aware of how stressed out I had been. 
You should however be alarmed if you feel any tingling or numbness.  If you experience numbness or tingling please back off a bit and continue a little more gently.
Remember: Sit up strait and relax your jaw

Enjoy!  I hope you learn to love it like I do : )

Thursday, January 6, 2011

homemade noodles = adult play-doh

I have finally attempted to make home made pasta! As I was making the pasta  I kept thinking to myself even if this comes out terrible I wont be upset because making this stuff is a blast!
  When I was a kid I owned this play-do kit that you see pictured that had the ability to make spaghetti and making actual pasta strongly reminded me of playing with this toy.  After all I am still going through basically the same process only now it is so much better because I am an adult! And as an adult I get to use my baby, my love, my one and Kitchenaid Stand Mixer!

Fun Fact!
Play-Doh has more ingredients than Egg Noodles do.

Play Dough via
~2 cups flour
~2 cups warm water
~1 cup salt
~2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
~1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)
~food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened drink mix)


Egg Noodles via The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles
2 cups all-purpose flour
3Large eggs, beaten

For my birthday my parents bought me the complete Kitchenaid pasta making kit! I have been totally stoked to use it and made sure to watch these super helpful videos that Kitchenaid posted featuring Peter Pasta (fyi I don't mean to be redundant but the words that are a different color like this one are a link). Much to my surprise my angel hair pasta noodles came out looking really good!  Fortunetly or unfortunetly my husband and I couldn't really tell much of a difference between my noodles and the ones in the box.  So next time I am going to make thicker noodles so that we can seriously taste the difference.  Here are some pictures to show you my pasta making skills!

Here you can see my pasta dough hanging out with my very lovely Red lady.  

The Play-doh phase
  When I finally put the pasta in the boiling water I swore it was going to fall apart
but it didn't!

I have a confession to make... I didn't make my own sauce!  I know this is a surprise but I knew it would take me soo long to make my own noodles that I didn't want to bother trying to make my own sauce too.  After all I'm not Super Woman! Also who can blame me when I am using this super delcious sauce from Trader Joes?  

                                     *Ta Da* 

This is what we had for dessert!  A cupcake bakery just opened down the street and we just had to try it!  They were HUGE and oh so yummy! 
P.S. If my husband and I had not gotten married yet Today we would have been dating 5 years!  I think I am in shock that I am old enough to be in a relationship for that long but  I feel so very blessed to have gotten to grow with him.
  I love you Robbie! Thank You for making me your bride. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recipe experimentation with company? Yikes!

Ever since I got married I have been going through the stereotypical learning curve in terms of cooking.  Any time I find myself falling into one of the newlywed cliques I get annoyed at how incredibly normal that makes me.  I want to be the exception, not the rule.  The person who was born for this, the master, the gifted one.  BUT instead I find that I too will walk away from my newlywed era with plenty of truly inedible disasters under my belt.  This is a story of one of those disasters.  Lucky me you.
As I mentioned in my last blog my friend Tyler hung out with my husband and I for New Years Eve. Well at the last minute he and his lady friend were invited for dinner to begin our new year festivities.  We had originally planned a simple dinner of frozen asian food from sams club for 4.  Well since I now had two more mouths to feed I said "Don't worry I will make a few things on my own too!" The plan started out perfect  "I will make peanut butter chicken stir fry. I have made this a hundred times before and it always comes out amazing"  It was a good plan.  A flawless plan. A foolproof plan. I had the potential to impress my parents and my friends!  It was going to be glorious!
BUT I decided this was a good time to experiment.
Let me tell you a little well known secret.  When you have a recipe name like Peanut Butter Chicken Stirfry and you decided to change the peanut butter and the chicken to something have a different recipe.  Here is the correct recipe so you can see what I was going for (FYI when made correctly this recipe is super easy and super delicious.  My friend Dustin made it up and I am eternally grateful to him for sharing it with me):

Peanut Butter Chicken Stir Fry
~2 tbsp oil
~2 to 4 chicken breasts sliced into little pieces.  (depends on how much chicken to vegetable ratio you want)
~Normal peanut butter either smooth or crunchy (I tend to use a mixture of both.  If only using smooth consider throwing in some unsalted peanuts)
~A combination of your favorite Stir fry vegetables (I use canned  and drained water chestnuts, baby corn and straw mushrooms.  Along with fresh or frozen broccoli and sugar snap peas)

First heat up a wok or very large skillet to medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Season the chicken with salt and any other spices you like such as crushed red peppers, tiny tiny amount of oregano or even wine.   Throw in the Chicken and keep it moving.  When the chicken is cooked (which wont take long considering the chicken pieces are so small) add the vegetables.  Once tender turn down the heat to medium or medium low add a heaping spoonful or two of peanut butter and stir until the peanut butter is melted and the stir fry is evenly covered. The amount of peanut butter you use is really to taste, add as little or as much as you like.  If you are using only chunky you will need several spoonfuls.  Once you have the peanut butter evenly coated serve immediately. 
(Sorry I don't have any pictures of this delicious recipe.  I will try to remember to do this in the future)

What I did wrong:  Instead of cooking the raw chicken right there on the spot I used left over turkey that was already cooked and falling off the bone and instead of normal peanut butter, like Jif, I used all natural peanut butter that had to be mixed together before use.  Regular peanut butter will melt and stick to the incredients but to my horror the all natural peanut butter (which should be considered a liquid) would not melt!! No matter how hard I tried to get the peanut butter to melt and stick to the ingredients it would either burn to the bottom of the pan or stick to the turkey pieces that were rapidly shredding apart as I mixed the ingredients together.  Leaving me with little peanut butter turkey bombs! delightful.  Eventually my mother discovered that they did in fact have regular old Jif peanut butter hiding away! I immediately added the Jiff as an attempt to salvage the disaster which meant that there was practically more peanut butter than anything else in the dish.
In Conclusion: I should have told my guests that everything on the table was originally a frozen entree.