Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy Birthday to me! Chicken Fajitas



Hey everyone,

Today was the big day. The big 3-0. After I stopped gagging, I realized that even though I'm *old* now, I can still appreciate everything I've been given. One of the best things in my life is the ability to cook for and care for my family. Normally, I go out of my way to cook things I know they like. Only half of our family likes fajitas. But if you can't spoil yourself on your birthday....

I love Mexican and TexMex food. It's my favorite thing to cook. My kids will eat modified versions of most of what I make, and as they get older, their palates become more adventurous. I love the bright colors and textures of fajitas. I don't usually order them when we go out because mine are better! Here's the recipe:

4 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 large onion
2-4 tomatoes (depending on size)
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
3-6 tablespoons oil

Slice peppers and onions thinly. Mix together evenly. Mix seasonings together.





Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a big skillet. My skillet is not huge, so I do the peppers, onions, and tomatoes in two batches.

Add half the peppers and onions to the oil. Add two tablespoons of seasoning mix to pan and combine with peppers. While the first batch cooks, chop up tomatoes into large pieces.




After the first batch of peppers and onions are lightly browned and softened, add half of the tomatoes. Smush (technical term) the tomatoes into the pan, and use the juice to deglaze the pan. Cook for about 5 more minutes.

Repeat with remaining peppers and tomatoes.




Once the veggies are done, cook the chicken in the same skillet. Put remaining spice mix on chicken. Cook until done and browned.

Combine chicken and veggie mix. Serve with tortillas and lime wedges, if desired.





Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dinner tonight-Italian Breaded Tilapia

How many of you have picky eaters? I know I do. They get it from their father, because I'm the least picky person I know. This recipe makes everyone in the house happy. I developed this one myself.

Ingredients:

4-5 tilapia fillets
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian salad dressing

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a zipper top bag. (Quart size works fine.)

Pour Italian dressing in another zipper top bag.

Place tilapia, one piece at a time, into bag with Italian dressing. Cover entire piece of fish in dressing.

Place tilapia into bag with breadcrumbs and shake. Repeat with additional fillets. Mound any unused topping onto top of fish.

Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until fish is done and lightly browned.

We usually serve this with rice and green beans. Any green vegetable would be beautiful with this dish though.

Has anyone else noticed the price of tilapia is getting ridiculous? It's a "trendy" fish now, so the price has gone up. We initially started eating tilapia because it was so affordable. I wonder what the next "it" fish will be?

Have a great day, everyone. Enjoy summer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I've been crocheting

It's been super hot here. Melt your skin off your face hot. So we've been spending lots of time inside. Thank goodness for Netflix! I've also been busy crocheting too.

First, an update on the projects I've told you about already.

Blanket=Yawwwwwn. No progress. :)

Scarf:

This is my oldest. He's not embarrassed at all.



I think the stitching is pretty.

Since I have a plethora of nieces, I thought I'd get started on the holidays. I made this hat for my youngest niece Trinity.


It's based off this pattern by Joyful Abode on CrochetMe. I added another three rows of shells, plus three rows of single crochet. Since I crocheted it with a much smaller hook, I needed to make it longer. I also added a flower. She's a girly sort of girl.

What projects are you up to?


Corn Fritters- Great recipe

We had a great dinner last night. The chicken recipe was good, but it needs some tweaking before I can share it with you. However, the corn fritters we made were awesome! I found the recipe on food.com, and it was posted by Sara 76. These are fairly sweet, almost like a corn donut. Next time I might add in some pepper, but they were so good as is. You HAVE to try these!



  • 1 cup flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon baking poweder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted (I used oil.)

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 cups corn kernals, canned and drained

  • oil (for deep frying)


  • 1 Mix and sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

    2 Beat egg, melted shortening and milk together.

    3 Add corn, and combine with dry ingredients, mixing well.

    4 Drop by spoonfuls into hot deep oil, and fry 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown.

    5 Drain on absorbant paper.

    6 Serve piping hot as vegetable, or serve as a luncheon dish, with maple syrup and crisp bacon.

     

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Barbeque Chicken Pizza- This is the good stuff!

    Last night we had the best dinner, and I want to pass the recipe along.  The boys had a friend over for dinner, so homemade pizza was on the menu! I made two pizzas last night, and neither of them lasted very long. I also used the pizza dough to make breadsticks. These are a family favorite. Sorry I didn't get pictures...the family descended like ravening wolves, and only crumbs were left!

    Pizza Dough- for a thin crust pizza (I double this to make two pizzas and a pan of breadsticks.)

    2 1/2 cups flour
    2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup warm water
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon oil

    Put the warm water in a a bowl and mix in sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let the yeast proof for 10 minutes. It should be foamy and have a yeasty smell.

    Mix in flour, salt, and oil. Knead dough for about 6 minutes, adding flour as needed. The dough should be fairly stiff.

    Let dough rise for about 30 minutes.

    Depending on your recipe for the pizza, you can either follow the recipe, or prebake this crust at 400 degrees F for about 12 minutes. This makes 2, 12 inch thin crust pizzas.

    Barbeque Chicken Pizza

    1 prebaked pizza crust
    1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded ( I poached mine. You can use more chicken if you like)
    1/4 red onion, sliced into rings
    2 tablespoons barbeque sauce
    1/2 cup barbeque sauce
    2 cups mozzarella cheese (I used a little smoked provolone too)

    Mix chicken and 2 tablespoons barbeque sauce together. Set aside.

    On prebaked crust, spoon 1/2 cup barbeque sauce over top evenly.

    Top with chicken. Top with onions. Cover with cheese.

    Bake at 400 degrees F until cheese is melted and browned.


    Breadsticks, Amanda style

    1/3 pizza crust recipe (or dough for one pizza crust)
    4 tablespoons margarine or butter
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt

    In a baking pan with a rim (mine's about 9x13), smooth down dough to cover bottom and up sides.

    Dot with margarine.

    Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top of dough and margarine.

    Bake at 400 F until cooked through and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

    All together, the two pizzas and breadsticks took about an hour to make. Since it was a Saturday, it would have taken longer to have it delivered! This recipe is much lower in fat than commercial pizzas, and I know what ingredients were included. Hope you and your family enjoy pizza night soon!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Bledsoe Creek State Park, visit 2

    You know I need trees. I love the forest. So depsite the fact that it was roughly 9 billion degrees last Monday, my wonderful husband and kids packed up for a hike on the Shoreline Trail of Bledsoe Creek State Park. We love it there. The scenery is gorgeous, and we always see some fun animals.  Without further ado, some pictures:


     Black Vulture


    Deer 


    Deer (same one)


    Fawns (so cute!)






    Isn't this view amazing?

    As you can see from my pictures, the fawns were clearly the highlight of the trip for me. We were hiking, and we saw one. Then the other one came into view. They were so sweet together. We saw a whole herd (is it called a herd when it's deer?) including several does and a young buck. All in all, about 8 deer. We walked right through them.


    Just a friendly reminder: Don't try to touch or feed the deer. For one, it's not good for them, and for two, they can kick the snot out of you. Your friendly PSA for the day is over. :)

    Get out and get hiking! It's great exercise, and you may have memories that last forever. My kids can't stop talking about the deer. 

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Dragonflies and damselflies

    Living so close to the water has benefits for sure. We are close to lots of parks, and we have access to tons of beautiful views. We also get the benefit of a bazillion mosquitoes. With all the water nearby, we also see lots of dragonflies and damselflies. What's a damselfly? That's a great question! Let's learn about dragonflies first, and then we will get on to damselflies.

    Dragonflies are aquatic insects. The average lifespan of a dragonfly ranges from 6 months to several years.  They actually spend up to two years in the water as nymphs. During this time period, they shed their skin several times.

    There are about 5,000 species of dragonflies and damselflies. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There are about 450 species found in the U.S.

    Dragonflies fly like helicopters; they can fly up, down, forward, backward, and hovering. It is estimated they fly between 30 and 60 MPH.

    Dragonflies have incredibly complex eyes. Each eye has up to 30,000 lenses.




    Damselflies belong to the same family as dragonflies. They are smaller and don't fly as well as dragonflies. One thing that damselflies can do that dragonflies can't? Damselflies can put their wings parallel to their backs. Dragonflies have to have theirs out to the side at all times. Damselflies also cannot walk when they land. Also, the forewings and hindwings are typically identical.

    So, let's play a game, shall we? Dragonfly or damselfly?

    Key is at the bottom. Have fun!


    1.


     2.


    3. 


    4. 


    5.



    1. Damselfly
    2. Dragonfly
    3. Damselfly
    4. Damselfly
    5. Dragonfly

    Next time you are at the lake or river, keep in mind you are looking at a living fossil. Dragonflies and damselflies developed more than 300 million years ago!
    

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Current crochet projects

    One of my favorite things to do is crochet. It's very satisfying to take a few balls of yarn and turn it into a useful or wearable object. I love to craft, but painting a picture for the sake of painting a picture doesn't appeal to me. If I'm going to invest my time, effort, and creativity, I want something out of it!

    Right now, I've got one project that I've been working on forever. It's one of those projects that is easy to forget about for a few months and then pick up right where I left off work. When it's done, it will be an afghan, but right now it's about shawl-sized.


    It's just done in endless rows of shell stich. Shell stich is one of my favorites, because it's so fast. I get to feel really productive! For some reason the middle picture makes the yarn look blue, but it's really purple. I originally started this project to use up scraps, but I didn't have as many scraps as I thought I did.

    My other project is a scarf. I love to make scarves. Hello, instant gratification! I've made at least a dozen, but none of them were for me. How does that work? So I'm starting one for myself today. It's supposed to be over 100 degrees many days this week, so I clearly need a scarf.

    This is the scarf. It's from Lion Brand Yarn, and this is the pattern. I'm doing it in a variegated yarn though, and I haven't decided for sure about the number and size of the flowers. I am almost 30, after all.


    Isn't it great how cat hair sticks to EVERYTHING? So I apologize for the hairiness of my pictures.

    Have a great day!

    

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    It's been awhile...

    Hi friends,

    Sorry it's been so long since my last post. As some of you probably know, my family relocated to beautiful Hendersonville, TN. While the trip here could be a whole blog entry in itself, I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, we made it, and I'm the only one who will need therapy.

    Now that we're here and settled, we've started exploring our new area. One of the great things about Tennessee is that it's beautiful. The scenery here is amazing. We've learned what grocery stores to go to, where the nearest Sonic is (yes!), and when the best time is to go to the pool.

    But you all know that I have to see some trees and water to be happy. And while the complex here has beautiful landscaping and big old trees, I needed to be in the woods. So we traveled to Bledsoe Creek State Park. It was amazing.

    On our trip, we saw incredible wildlife everywhere. While we spent lots of time outside in Indiana, I've never seen so many critters so easily. The hiking was great too. Just enough of a challenge to be a good workout, but not so strenuous that it wasn't fun.

    One of the coolest things we saw were the baby turtles. They were so cute! The park has an observation deck on the Shoreline Trail, and we saw turtles, a heron, and a great egret. I had never seen the egret before. I love the big water birds, and I could have spent all day watching them. I identified the egret from this website: TN Watchable Wildlife which has a ton of information.


    Turtle tracks in the mud. There were a ton of turtles.


    Can you find the baby turtle? This was one of about 6 we saw from the observation deck. We also saw an adult turtle too. I couldn't tell what kind they were because of the algae on their shells.
    

    It's hard to see, but there is a Great Blue Heron in the water. He was so graceful.


    Here is a picture of the Great Egret. It sounds like a magician's name, right? Such a graceful bird. The picture below is the same bird.


    Once we got going on our hike, we saw a ton of other animals. We saw Muscovy ducks, which are fun to look at. They have black and white feathers and red heads. There were several pairs. When we lived in Indiana, there was one lonesome one that lived at Memorial Park. He always got picked on by the other birds. It was nice to see a few happy pairs.





    We also got to see deer! Normally, I see deer in fields while I'm riding in the car. These guys were less than 50 feet away! We almost missed seeing them because we couldn't take our eyes away from the beautiful shoreline.



    We also saw turkeys, mallards, geese, multiple butterflies and dragonflies (another blog post about dragonflies coming up soon!) and a cute little caterpillar:


    
    Even if we hadn't seen so much wildlife, the scenery alone would have been worth it.

















    I have to say that my pictures don't do it justice. I really want a good camera to take with us instead of just my cell phone. While I have an excellent camera for a cell phone, it's not the same as a real camera! Hope you enjoyed your virtual trip to TN!