Having Dinner with Friends – Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage

So, it’s been over two years since my husband and I packed up our house and moved from Michigan to Kentucky.  It was one of the toughest decisions we ever made – leaving our friends and family for a new job and new adventure.  Looking back, I’m still proud that we took the leap and moved south.

Thank goodness for Facebook, Skype and now, Pinterest, to keep my in the loop with all of our friends in Michigan.  Sometimes I feel like I’m peeking into their kitchens to see what they are making for dinner.  And when I make one of their favorites, it’s like we’re sharing a meal – 350 miles away.  🙂

So this week, we “had dinner” with our friends, Michelle and Jeremy.  Michelle posted this recipe – Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage, courtesy of Real Simple – on Pinterest with the note that it was one of her husband’s favorites.  We had to give it a try!

Pasta with Peas and Beans

The pasta was delicious – a nice combination of chicken sausage, peas, green beans, pesto and pasta.  And, it was easy to make – just throw some pasta in a pot to boil, add the veggies at the end, brown the sausage and toss together with some pesto and parmesan cheese.  I used frozen peas and french green beans, but the pesto really brings a fresh flavor, so you couldn’t even tell that they were frozen.

So, even though our friends were far away in Michigan, we thought of them fondly as we enjoyed one of their favorites.  If you want to “have dinner” with the Bosschers, here are a few of our favorites:

Grilled Chicken with Goat Cheese Zucchini Pasta,
Chicken and Rice Casserole,
and good old’ burgers with a little blue cheese on top.

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No Sew, Tee-Shirt Halter – My Epic Fail

So, most of my posts on this blog have been generally positive.  That is, most of the things that I’ve found on Pinterest and tried have worked.  Well, folks, my perfect record is no more.  May I introduce the No Sew Tee-Shirt Halter, my epic fail.

After following the wonderful instructions from Wobisobi, I really wanted this to turn out.  However, not so much.

No Sew T Shirt

Here’s what I think went wrong:

1.  I used the wrong type of t-shirt.  I grabbed one of my husband’s t-shirts from his collection of free shirts.  It was made of a thick cotton and didn’t have a lot of stretch.  Plus, there are numbers on the back that made it tough to drape.

2. I need to learn how to take my time when cutting fabric.  Check out the edges of the shirt.  ‘Nuff said.

When I put the shirt on, my husband took one look and said, “Uh, no.”

If you want to read more epic fails courtesy of Pinterest, check out pinstrosity.blogspot.com.  It’s hilarious!

Trader Joe’s Tamale Pie

Oh, Trader Joe’s.  How I love thee.

Really, I think I have a little bit of an obsession with Trader Joe’s.  You can not believe my excitement when Louisville got a Trader Joe’s in October 2011.  I finally lived in a town where there is a TJ’s and to top it off, it’s less than 3 miles from my house.  Heaven, seriously heaven.

And, one of my favorite things about Trader Joe’s is trying new ingredients.  Each time I go, I try to grab one or two things that are new to me, just to give them a try.  And, I had been wanting to try their tomato-less salsa, made with corn and peppers.  The TJ’s website had a recipe that included this ingredient, so I thought I would give it a try.  Here’s my version for the Tamale Pie.

The pie is polenta with a mixture of chicken chili and the tomato-less salsa and cheese, and topped with more polenta and more cheese.  Because I was able to buy pre made polenta and a can of chicken chili at TJ’s, it took minutes to put together.  I served it with a little sour cream to go on top.

Here’s a snapshot of my version of the tamale pie.  As you can see, we dug in and it was polished off in two days.  It was delicious!  The polenta was creamy and has a wonderful corn flavor.  The chicken chili and the tomato-less salsa was the perfect filling.  Needless to say, we are officially adding this to the rotation at the Bosscher house.

There are so many products at Trader Joe’s that I want to try that I’ve started a Board on Pinterest to keep track – my Trader Joe’s Shopping List.  Because I have Pinterest on my iPhone, it’s easy to access the list when I’m at the store.  Just one more reason that I love Pinterest.

“So Good You Can’t Stop Eating” Rice Krispies Treats…Made with Coconut Oil!

Oh, brother.  This is one of those pins that I almost wish I had never found.  And here’s a random story to go with it!

Trader Joe's Coconut OilSo, my baby girl has a little cradle cap.  And last week, I was hanging out with my sister, Kathy, who suggested that I use a little coconut oil on her head to heal those scaly things.  Kathy happened to have some with her, so I took a bit and rubbed it all over her head.  It not only worked, but now I had a little Hawaiian Tropics baby because she was smelling so good!  I ran out to Trader Joe’s the next week to pick up a jar of the coconut oil for my own.

The jar was a little bigger than I had anticipated, so being my thrifty self, I was determined to find another use for coconut oil.

Behold, Rice Krispies Treats with Coconut Oil!  According to WhiteLotusCooks.com, coconut oil is a healthy substitution for butter.  It turns your ordinary treats into a rich, gooey dessert that you can’t stop eating.  (This was my first bite.  The whole pan was gone not long after that.)

Rice Krispies

 

I have to agree with WhiteLotusCooks.com that the coconut oil gives the treats a nice hint of coconut that makes you want to go back for seconds…or thirds in my case.  We had a few friends over the night that I made these, and they agreed that the flavor was subtle but delicious.  

And, since the recipe is so short, I thought I would add it right to the blog:

Rice Krispies Treats with Coconut Oil (courtesy of www.whitelotuscooks.com)
makes one 9 x 9 pan (about 16 generous squares) or a 9 x 13 pan (makes about 30 thinner squares)

Butter or coconut oil for greasing the pan
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
1 10 oz. bag of large marshmallows (about 40)

With butter or coconut oil, grease the baking pan and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Once all liquified, add all the marshmallows, stir for one or two minutes until everything becomes an ooey gooey mess. Once melted, remove from heat and mix in the rice krispies cereal. Place the marshmallowy cereal in the buttered pan. If the cereal is sticking to your wooden spoon or whatever you used to stir the pot, I will sometimes switch to a rubber spatula when placing it in the pan. Let cool and set for 5 minutes or so before serving.

Hanging out with my baby…

Baby Activities

So, I’m officially a stay-at-home mom!  It’s a little crazy to think that I’m not going to an office every day or that I don’t have a boss to report to.  Here are a few of my favorite things about being a SAHM!

  1. The dress code – no more work pants!
  2. The food – it’s nice being able to just eat leftovers or make something else instead of eating what I brought to the office.  I like the variety.
  3. The commute – walking across the hall to grab Avery in the morning is pretty nice.  Especially when she sleeps in until 7:45 a.m. (like she did today!!)
  4. My co-worker – Avery is a doll!

One of the challenges of being a SAHM is thinking of things to do with your kid.  Avery is only 3 months old, so she’s not really into toys yet.  I pinned this on Pinterest way back when I was pregnant, and I’m glad I did.  The Activity Library from ProductiveParenting.com is great!  It has lots of suggestions for things to do with your kid at every age, including Early Infant.

So, today I decided to try the Paper Kick by placing a piece of wax paper underneath Avery and letting her wiggle and move.  The paper makes noise when she moves, so it teaches her the whole “cause and effect” thing.  I love watching Avery learn, especially when her little face lights up when she figures something out.  She loved the wax paper activity.  I think it freaked her out at the beginning, but she got the hang of it and was smiling each time she moved her legs and figured out that she was making all that noise.

I’m excited to try a few more of these actives.  Some of them are a little lame (Swaying?  Really?) but some of them are pretty cool.

Especially when it makes her smile.  🙂

Avery smile

Sausage, Peppers, Onions and Goat Cheese Pasta

Sausage and Goat Cheese Rigatoni

I’ve been on a roll lately, trying new recipes that are a little outside of my comfort zone.  I’m a true Dutch girl so most of my meals consist of a meat, a potato, some sort of veggie and a fruit – applesauce anyone?  A few weeks ago, I tried a pasta dish that seemed a little strange to me, but is now a regular in our household. Behold Sausage and Goat Cheese Rigatoni, courtesy of www.savvyeat.com.

I tried this recipe because of a few things: peppers were on sale at Kroger, I had a log of goat cheese from Trader Joe’s just begging to be opened, and I had a coupon for Johnsonville’s Chicken Sausage. I’ve never had chicken sausage before, so I was very interested to try it.

I’ve made the recipe three times since finding the recipe on Pinterest.  The first time, I followed the recipe as written, but I’ve made a few adjustments in my second and third tries.  First, I tossed the pasta with some marinara before topping with the peppers and onions.  I also didn’t have any dry white wine in the house (I was a little thirsty this weekend…), so I skipped that step and just threw the sausage in with the peppers and onions.

Peppers and Onions PastaAnd the results:  fantastic!  We’ve had it three times in the last 6 weeks; it’s that good!  The flavors are different than your average pasta dish – the peppers and onions are delicious with the goat cheese.  I don’t cook very often with sausage, but I’m hooked!  This dish is a now a regular in our house – you should try it today!

Farmer’s Market Finds – Yum!

One of my favorite things about the summer is the farmer’s markets.  Louisville has lots of them, and one of our favorites is the Douglass Loop Farmer’s Market – right across the street from our old apartment.

On Saturday we picked up some heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil, so I decided to try a recipe courtesy of French Ponytail – Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Basil.  Pinterest is such a great place to search for recipes and I found this one right away.

And, of course, it was delicious.  I had never roasted tomatoes before, and I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was.  Just dig out the seeds, drizzle them with oil and vinegar and then pop them in the oven for 30 minutes.  We did eat ours with a little toasted bread since I didn’t dig out as many of the seeds as I should.  It turned a little soupy but was still wonderful.

The fresh basil really makes all the difference.  I got a bunch for $2, so we’ll be eating lots of combinations of tomatoes, cheese and basil for the next few days.  Yum!

And, when I’m not surfing Pinterest, I’m hanging out with my daughter, Avery. Just had to share this picture – her smile cracks me up.  🙂

Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake

Now that I’ve been home with my little one for the last two months, I’m trying to develop some sort of schedule for us.  And, I think Mondays may become Casserole Monday.  Lame, I know, but it’s nice to make one big casserole on Monday and then eat it for the next few days.

This week, I decided to give Chicken and Spinach Pasta Bake, courtesy of Saving Money Living Life, a try.  I picked this one because honestly, the picture made my mouth water.  All that cheesy goodness on top – yum!

Since I didn’t have any cooked chicken on hand, it look me a little bit to put the dish together.  (And I bought a bag of frozen spinach instead of a box, so it was a pain to thaw and drain.)  I definitely made lots of pans dirty with having to boil the noodles, cook the onion and chicken, and mix everything together.

Pasta Bake

The results?  Delicious!  My dish turned out just like the picture.  I used a 9×13 pan and followed the recipe exactly as printed.  I never thought to add chive and onion cream cheese to a dish like this, but it made all the difference.  The dish was creamy, full of Italian flavors but not overly fillings.  (Sometimes when I make these dishes, they are way too heavy for our family.)  My husband went back for seconds and took it to work for lunch the next day.  We’re adding this one to the rotation!

Slow Cooker Saves the Day! Pork Carnitas!

Pork Carnitas

Holy heat wave in Louisville!  I guess I’m used to it already after two years of living in Kentucky, but for some reason, last week just seemed super hot.  Cooking is always tricky when it’s warm outside.  When its 104 degrees outside, it’s almost cruel to send my husband to man the grill. So, I busted out the slow cooker and tried a new recipe from Pinterest – Pork Carnitas.  Yum.

I’ve had this pin on my Recipes to Try board for quite some time.  I believe I got this recipe from my sister Kathy and figured it was time to give it a shot.  Plus, pork was on sale at Kroger. Score!

The recipe is courtesy of The Kitchn and with a few minor modifications, it turned out great!  I realized that I was out of oregeno, so I had to substitute some special Italian blend seasoning from Penzey Spices.  I also used a smaller piece of pork – maybe 2.5 pounds or so – and adjusted the ingredients accordingly.

After an afternoon in the slow cooker, the meat was tender and spicy!  (Those chipotle peppers really pack the heat!)  With the meat, we had delicious pork carnitas with fresh radishes from the farmers market, a little sour cream, cilantro and lime juice.  My husband was a huge fan, gobbling them for dinner last week.  Of course, we had leftover meat so I made some enchiladas a few days later.  I love recipes where we actually eat the entire thing and are not wasteful!

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

Yum. Yum. Yum.  I can’t enough of this recipe.  As a new mom, we were fortunate to have a few meals dropped off from friends and fellow church members.  One of them came from a fellow Kalamazoo native and included this incredible dip.  Luckily, I follow her pins on Pinterest, so it took just a few clicks to find the recipe.

So, behold: Cowboy Caviar.  A huge thanks to the Rigneys blog for posting the recipe.  I am always looking for good snack food and this one fits the bill – it’s healthy, inexpensive, contains easy-to-find ingredients and has a decent shelf life.  Plus, it has a bunch of veggies in it.  (My husband and I are great at eating fruit; not so much at eating vegetables.)

cowboy caviarSince there are just two of us, I made a half recipe.  I used two peppers – green and orange, and half of everything else.  Mix together and marinate overnight.  It was hard to resist eating it the first day, but the wait paid off – it is delicious!  A little sweet with the vinegar and super fresh with the cilantro.

We’ve been eating it with tortilla chips, and for dinner last night, we added it to grilled chicken wraps.  It’s a great dip to bring to a party or just to have around the house.  Enjoy!