Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicken Broccoli Couscous

As promised, a super easy and delicious recipe! I'll give the original recipe, then my alterations:)

extra virgin olive oil
1 pound chicken
salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 10 oz box of couscous
1 onion, finely chopped
1 head broccoli, broken into small pieces
parsley to taste
sliced almonds

1. If you are using raw chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook in hot oil in skillet over medium heat. Once cooled, shred chicken.
2. In a seperate saucepan, bring 2 cups chicken broth, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to boil. Add couscous, cover, removed from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
3. In the same skillet the chicken was cooked in, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender. Add broccoli and 1 cup chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken parsley, couscous and salt and pepper. Stir in almonds before serving.

My alterations...
1. We used crock pot chicken in our dish. I cooked a chicken in the crock pot yesterday and my wonderful husband de-boned the meat. I heated it up in skillet with oil and added crushed red pepper. I used the same skillet for the onions and broccoli. Any seasoning would be fun on the chicken...lemon pepper, basil, tony's, etc.
2. We usually add more broccoli...which means more chicken broth:)
3. It's super easy to substitute different flavors of couscous. Tonight we used roasted garlic herb couscous.
4. Extra veggies can always be added in. We've added mushrooms before. Other veggies to add....zucchini, squash, bell pepper, green onions, tomatoes, etc. If you are feeling super crazy...olives!

I love this recipe because it is so easy to alter! You can pretty much add anything in your fridge to couscous. I'm sure you could substitute different meat too...pork, sausage, beef, steak.

Took the sewing machine out of the box yesterday and started looking through the manual. I'm hoping to have some time this weekend to experiment with the thread spool...bobbin action:) Lindsey....where is your sewing machine? If we are going to tackle this challenge together, our sewing machines should be out in the open:) Mine is on a desk in the guest room!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Mail Time!

Big day in the McCormick mailbox. Our wedding pictures, Mardi Gras decorations, and my SEWING MACHINE were all delivered today! Here are a few of our favorite wedding pictures for now:)

Later this week, Chicken Broccoli Couscous and the introduction of my sewing machine!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gumbo Night

Tonight was Gumbo night! Well actually, it was supposed to be Tuesday night....but there was a small duck fiasco. So tonight....chicken and sausage gumbo. The perfect end to a cold, wet day.

1 cup flour
1 cup oil
green onions
4 chicken bouillon cubes
13 cups water
chicken, sausage, or any meat you choose!
ground red pepper
ground black pepper

This recipe might drive people who enjoy precise measurements crazy. This was a freestyle cooking night for us. To cook our chicken, I heated oil in the bottom of a stock pot. Season the chicken with Tony's and cook in the hot oil, flipping every few minutes. You can add garlic to the pot if you want.

While the chicken is cooking, you can start the roux....the magic ingredient in gumbo. Heat the oil over medium heat. Slowly add the flour and stir constantly for 20-30 minutes until the roux is a chocolate brown. You have to be careful to stir constantly over medium heat...or the roux will burn.

Once the roux is brown, add the bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the chicken is done, remove from the pot and add 13 cups water. Bring water to a boil and add the roux and veggie mix, sausage, chicken bouillon, and peppers. Simmer, uncovered for 1 hour and 45 minutes. We wanted to eat earlier than midnight, so we simmered ours covered for 30 minutes. Cut the chicken up, add it to the pot, and simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Add green onions and salt to taste and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice.

I have a new art project! Our pediatric outpatient therapy unit recently moved to a new location and the walls are desperately empty. So.....I'm working on a collection of sea themed paintings. I'm only making one for now so I can get the approval of my fellow therapists. And if they don't like my whale painting, then I guess it's going above the couch:)

Words of wisdom for this week come from my brother-in-law, Danny Boy. He called last night with a question about doubling the rice in a Mexican rice recipe to go with his chicken fajitas. He called later to inform me that cooking 3 cups of rice is a bad idea. Turns out he tripled the rice. I guess he didn't realize how much rice expands...

So when cooking rice, remember, less is more. Happy Grey's Anatomy Night!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Funny Face

The adorable baby in this picture is my nephew, Brady. If Brady could talk, this is what I imagine he would be saying.

"Oh my, really Mom? I am so concerned right now with what is happening. The worry is eating at me. This look is not very becoming."

Yummy Memories

My first date with Ryan was dinner at his apartment. Well, technically it was a double date at an Italian restaurant with the couple who introduced us. But our first solo date was dinner at his place and he cooked me fajitas. The next meal he cooked for me was chicken noodle soup when I was sick. The first meal we cooked together was Chinese stir-fry and during that meal I spoke with my now mother-in-law on the phone for the first time. When Ryan proposed, we were in the kitchen discussing what to do for dinner. Needless to say, cooking is a huge part of our lives. We love spending time together in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. One of the first recipes Ryan introduced me too was a fantastic chicken dish that is super easy to make...and we made it tonight:) Here's the recipe...

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup dry sherry or white wine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
dash garlic salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
Rice or noodles

Place chicken breasts in baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients, mix well, and pour over chicken. Cook at 350 for 60-90 minutes, or until chicken is done. You can leave the chicken whole or shred with a fork. Serve over rice or noodles.

DVR is such a great invention and I don't know how I ever lived without it. Ryan and I enjoy taping our favorite shows and watching them the next night when we can skip commercials. It's always fun when you pause the show and the actors are caught in a awkward moment. I caught an awesome moment during a show tonight...and I had to share it. I laughed for at least 3 minutes. Hope it brings smiles for the rest of the week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

House Tour Time

Today seems like a good day to start the picture tour of our house. We will start with the dining room. It's still pretty bare. I plan on sewing some curtains once my sewing machine arrives....and I learn how to sew:)

The next room on the tour is "carpet room." Our home has two family room areas, and we distinguish them by their flooring. The other family room....."wood floor room."

We recently purchased a roman shade for this huge window. I'm sure the neighbors love it as much as we do:)

This sectional was purchased when we got the house. It fits the room perfectly and is super comfortable. We are looking for something to hang above the couch. Any suggestions? I am debating between a huge mirror or a couple of painted canvases....

This was a wedding gift and I love it! It bring a little bit of Louisiana into our house and it inspired my color theme for this room...brown, red, green, and yellow.

Now this isn't so much part of the house tour....but it's my latest Marshall's find! You have to love finding designer bags for super cheap prices:)

On the menu for this week....gumbo! Be watching for the recipe later. I'll end today with some words of wisdom. Sometimes the hardest things to do in life bring you the greatest reward. Have a happy Sunday evening!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What a Thursday...

Is it Friday yet? What a week...we finally got our heater problem fixed! It was sucking large amounts of power which equals a huge electric fun:(

I ordered a sewing machine and it should be in soon! I don't quite know how to sew yet, but I plan on teaching myself. Should be an adventure, I'll keep you posted.

Ryan has been on a goal roll lately! I have fallen asleep fairly early the past few nights, and Ryan has chosen to read during this time. I think all of this reading has sparked his creativity.....and led him to invent new words. It certainly makes for fun dinner discussions. His latest words are "inpelling" and "davashing." You may be wondering the definition of these words....I did. Inpelling is in fact inspiring and compelling combined....and can be used for many of the American Idol background stories. guessed it. Ravashing and dashing. And I believe that is my adjective:)

For dinner tonight...Broccoli Pasta Casserole. Recipe time...

1 cup bread crumbs
1 head broccoli florets
8 oz pasta (we used rotini)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground mustard
4 cups milk
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425. Toast breadcrumbs on a baking sheet for about 8 minutes. You can use store bought or make your own. We made our own using 2 slices whole wheat bread and a food processor.
2. Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling water until slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Add pasta to the water and cook until tender.
3. Heat olive oil in a clean pot and add onion. Saute until onion is translucent. Add flour and ground mustard and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add in milk while stirring. Bring to a boil and cook while whisking for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add parmesan and ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add broccoli and pasta to milk and cheese. Transfer to a small baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.

This recipe was compliments of Martha Stewart. We added chicken to our mixture and it was delicious!

We will end this blog on a serious note tonight. A good friend of mine found out today that her mother has leukemia. She will start chemo tomorrow. Cancer is terrible, but God is great. Prayers for this amazing woman and her family would be greatly appreciated during this time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Snowy Sunday...

Until last week, I was so happy that Dallas had seen more snow than we had in Ohio. Well....that has now changed. I will admit, the yard looked beautiful this morning. Snow is quite pretty, unless it is on the roads or in parking lots:) My wonderful husband has been doing an excellent job of shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.....something I don't have much experience with.

We were super brave today and made a chicken dish from my Martha Stewart magazine. Martha recipes are often very intimidating, but look so fantastic. We enjoy trying complicated recipes on Sundays because we have more time to play in the kitchen. So, here is our #1 "Sunday recipe" so far. Ryan actually claimed that this dish is his most favorite.

Arroz Con Pollo
(Spanish for "rice with chicken")
1 cup dry white wine ( I just used what we had in the fridge)
pinch of saffron
6 chicken thighs (We used skinless, but with skin is fine)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup oil (we used safflower oil, but olive oil is also good)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 large tomato, diced
2 dried bay leaves
4 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 cups short grain rice
1 cup olives (with pimentos)

1. Combine wine and saffron and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet. I used my cast iron skillet. Cook chicken on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic. Saute 5-10 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and cook, stirring often, 10-15 minutes. Add wine-saffron mixture, 1 tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and bay leaves. Cook until wine is almost completely evaporated, 10-15 mintues. Add chicken, broth, rice, and olives. Bring to a simmer.
3. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until rice is tender, 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and enjoy!

Now for my alteration suggestions:
1. If you do not like olives, they definitely aren't essential to this dish. If you do like olives, you will love them in this dish! They explode with flavor.
2. I don't have any other suggestions. This dish was fantastic. However, we did learn more about saffron today. It is a very expensive spice extracted from a flower. We spent more than we ever thought we would on a spice at Kroger, but it was worth it:) I'm not sure what a good substitution would be for saffron, but I will be looking for new recipes that call for my very expensive addition to the spice cabinet.

I have had a few requests lately for new house pictures. I don't want to make this post longer than it already is, but I'll show one of my new favorite additions to our house. We were looking for an "end table" that sat higher than our couch....and we found it at Pottery Barn outlet. It's actually a small bedroom dresser, but it works perfectly in "carpet room." A run to Hobby Lobby gave us fun red knobs to replace the cream ones that came with the dresser. So, here you have it, our new end table! Until next time....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mardi Gras! may be a little early to start planning for Mardi Gras, but I cannot wait for an excuse to eat King Cake! Ryan and I have decided to have a Mardi Gras party this year.....and I have discovered that it is nearly impossible to find Mardi Gras decor in Ohio. Imagine that. So I got crafty with Christmas decorations:) Last year, I found out that Gambino's bakery in New Orleans ships King Cakes. And they still taste amazing, even when they travel across the country via Fed Ex.

Goal Alert!!! Ryan started reading! It happened Sunday night....and it was likely due to the fact that there wasn't a bowl game on. I'm still proud of him:) I recently finished Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. She is such an amazing author. She has the ability to make the reader see controversial situations from all sides.....which leads us to....

Life Lessons by Katie Mac...#1
"Let he without sin be the first to cast the stone." I am a firm believer in this bible verse. Only people who are perfect are in a position to judge others for their decisions. And, since I have NEVER met a perfect human, pretty sure no one can judge others. There is always a different perspective to a situation that should be considered. I won't go off on a rampage about this too much because I think it speaks for itself:)

Now time for some Mardi Gras pics! I still have some decorating left to do.....which will happen when the Oriental Trading order comes in. Enjoy!

Our dining room table. I love hanging things from the chandelier:)

The kitchen window...that is in desperate need of blinds.

The mantle in wood floor room.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a perfect Jan 31st at the McCormick house. Our good friends, Amy and Chris, came over for dinner and board game extravaganza. Our first game was True Colors. We learned that no one would want me as a child, Chris will make the first million, Amy leaves lots of cups in her car, and everyone wants Ryan as a sibling. We also played Apples to Apples, which brought about some very interesting discussions...
Things I learned in the final moments of 2009:
What do John Glenn, Danielle Steele, and Schindler's List have in common? They are all depressing.
What do South Africa, the metric system, and Jesse Jackson have in common? They are all trustworthy, of course

Amy and Chris!

Ryan and I....and it seems as if Ryan is far more interested in eating then taking pictures:) to watch more football. Happy 2010!