Friday, September 28, 2012

Sibling Appreciation Day

Over the past year or so, I have felt some new responsiblities.  When Mom goes out of town, I feel like it is my place/joy/pleasure to make dinner for my three brothers.  Now, I know that they would be perfectly fine without me doing this, but when I have the time, it is something I enjoy doing.  Mom and Dad went out of town this weekend with a few friends, and it is so rare that all of my brothers are in town and not busy, so I invited them over.  We also asked Matt's sister, Anna, to join us so the entire family would be complete.  We did not even realize that it was National Sibling Appreciation Day until after we invited everyone.  Does God have awesome timing or what?

I started thinking about what I was going to make.  I knew it needed to be a lot of food.  My family is notorious for eating large quantities of food very very quickly.  If you do not eat fast, you do not eat.  What do guys like to eat?  Hmmm?  Poppy seed chicken casserole...good but that may not fill them up.  Pizza...we had that last weekend.  Meat!  Yes...lots and lots of meat!

Let there be meat!!

And potatoes!!

And family time!!

 These were a deer backstrap that Matt had collected from this previous deer season...super manly food.  All I did was cut it into little steaks and let it marinade in a Kroger chop house marinade while I was at school.  I threw it on a smokin' hot grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side, and it was a perfect medium-rare.

This meat was so tender and delicious.  Jeff keeps saying, "That is steak?" and we would say, "No, deer." "No wait.  This is steak." "No, deer backstrap."  "This is backstrap?  There is no way this is backstrap.  It tastes just like steak."  Needless to say, the boys went crazy for it.  

This is my new favorite way to eat chicken!  I have served it to several different people and every time it is completely devoured.  I cut the chicken into cubes and let it marinade in the zest of 2 limes, along with the juice, 2-3 cloves of garlic minced, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Put them on skewers and grill until they are cooked through.  They are delicious just like this, but to bump it up a notch, we brought out some honey barbecue sauce.  The tang of the lime and the sweetness of the sauce hits all of the right notes!

I also made some roasted potatoes and baby bella mushrooms.  I cut russet potatoes into cubes and the mushrooms in half then sprinkled them with salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary, thyme and a little olive oil.  I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes.  They were a perfect side to my manly meal.

But enough about the food!  Lets get to the important stuff...

No one would take the time to pose for my pictures since the food had already been laid out, so I sincerly apologize for the quality of these pictures.

There's that, and there's that...

My ST (MC social tribe...long story... don't worry about it) sister, Sara Kyzar, also joined us!

Poor, lonely piece of sausage, a few potatoes, and a heap full of green beans were all that was left over.  Apparently our carnivorous sides won out tonight.

Jonathan was happily full while James and Jeff were just full.  Everytime I told them to smile, they just stared at me.  I don't think my brothers like me telling them what to do.  I almost expected a, "You're not the boss of me!"

Sweet brother and seester sharing the big, comfy chair

I love how we can just sit and watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory together.  I love how we disturb our neighbors by singing the Veruca Salt song at the top of our lungs.  I love how the snozberries always taste like snozberries.  But I especially love all of these people that I know as my brothers and my sisters.

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way. -Pamela Dugdale

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Love Green...That Is All

Green...It is absolutely, positively my most favorite color... without a doubt... It is the color of our bedroom. It is the color of my dress in my profile picture.  It is the color of my future child's nursery.  No, I am not pregnant.  No, I do not plan on being pregnant for a while.  Yes, I do have my unborn child's nursery designed in my head. No judging!

With having said this, I also love to eat green food.  Leafy greens contain so many vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, as well as, Vitamin K that protects your bones from osteoporosis.  Lets be honest though...sometimes it is just plain difficult to make them taste good.  Okay... here goes!

Chicken Pesto Pasta... with a twist.  When people think of pesto, they think: basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.  Now, don't get me wrong, that kind of pesto is very delicious, but pesto can be made out practically any leafy green out there.  

This recipe makes enough for two batches.  I usually save half of the pesto and freeze it for an easy dinner in a week or two.  Start off with one to two garlic cloves.  Garlic has been shown to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Add one cup of Parmesan cheese.  Parmesan has more protein and less fat than most cheese.

Add 1/3 of a cup of chopped walnuts.  Walnuts contain large quantities of Vitamin E which has powerful antioxidant effects and is high in protein and fiber.  

Pulse the mixture until it looks crumbly.  If I am feeling truly sinful, I add a dash of Siracha.  It adds another layer of flavor and keeps things interesting.  I love it both ways; it just depends on my ever fluctuating mood.

Add half of a bag of fresh spinach and pulse until it is combined along with black pepper.  I do not add salt to this pesto.  Every single time I have, I have regretted it.  It turns out way too salty, and I wake up in the middle of the night dying of thirst.  The parmesan adds enough salt to add flavor and with the punch of the garlic, you will not miss the extra sodium.  Oh...and your kidneys told me to tell you, "Thank you."

Add the second half of the bag and pulse.  It may not combine completely so add a few TBSP of extra virgin olive oil and it should turn into creamy, dreamy goodness.

Now, oils in general are not placed in a "healthy" category, but as Momma always says, "Everything in moderation."  Olive oil contains Vitamin E like what is in walnuts.  It has been shown to promote healthy digestion and balance fatty acids in your diet.  Studies have shown that it lowers your LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") and increases your HDLs ("good cholesterol").

Oooo Ahhhh... creamy green love

Take 2 whole chicken breasts and trim them of their excess fat

Slice them into long strips

Coat the bottom of the pan with the pesto

Place the chicken strips in the pan

And cover the chicken with more of the pesto.  Like I said previously, I made extra pesto so I could save it for another quick, weeknight supper.  The other half is nestled safely in my freezer... for now

Did you know green was my favorite color?  I seriously had so many pictures of just the pesto on the raw chicken meat.  I just loved the contrast of the colors.

At this point I added some shredded mozzerella and covered the pan with tin foil.  Place the pan in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and let the top brown in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.   

The addition of mozzarella is 100% optional.  It does not add a nutritional benefit to this dish...but why wouldn't you?

Spinach Pesto Chicken

1 bag of fresh spinach
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of walnuts
3 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
dash of black pepper
1/2 cup of mozzerella cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Add parmesan, walnuts, and garlic to your food processor and chop until crumbly.  Add 1/2 the bag of spinach and puree to incorporate it into your mixture.  Add black pepper, the other 1/2 of the bag of spinach, and the olive oil.  Puree until smooth.  Use half of this mixture for the rest of this recipe and store the other half of the mixture for later use.

Trim your chicken breasts of the excess fat.  Cut the chicken into long strips.  Coat the bottom of your baking dish with the prepared pesto and layer the chicken strips on top.  Add more of the pesto on top of the chicken.  Sprinkle the top with mozzerella cheese and cover the baking dish with tin foil.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and remove the foil.  Continue to cook the chicken for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the cheese has browned to your liking on top.