Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two Bean and Beef Chili

I have found my soul's chili counterpart here in this bowl of steaming wonderfulness!


But in all seriousness, this Chili is fabulous. I served it Saturday night with a fresh tossed salad (hand tossed by the hubs) and home made corn bread. The Chili itself came together fairly fast, and the flavor is out of the world. Plenty of kick with a lot of smoky subtle tastes. Make this, go ahead DO IT!

Two Bean and Beef Chili
Source:Cooking Light

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat (any type of ground meet will also work, I used fresh ground chuck steak)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2/3 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or dry red wine (I used the Cab)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can hot chili beans


Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef with salt. Place half of beef in pan; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef; remove from pan.

Add 2 teaspoons oil, onion, and bell pepper to pan, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño; sauté for 1 minute. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return beef to pan.

Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally.

My Love Affair with Sewing

This is day 3 of my 4 day weekend (working 12 hours does have it's benefits, like more days off!) and I have had a really nice time relaxing and spending time with the hubs. Today he is on duty so I have a day to myself. God bless time off!

I have become quite the seamstress over the last few months. After my success with my quilt for little Rika I decided to start another project. (sorry I can't tell you what it is, it's a gift for someone who I think reads this blog!) After I finish it I'll be sure to post it though so no worries!

My Supplies:


This is my sewing machine, and I love it about as much as I have ever loved an inanimate object. It belonged to my mother who gave it to me when I moved out. I'm not exactly sure how old it is but It's definitely older than me. It's an old Kenmore, not much to look at but it gets the job done . It makes me feel proud of good old American craftsmanship or something like that...(esp when I have to haul the thing around, it weighs a TON!)


This is my machine's extendended work surface called a "Sew Adjustable." This makes sewing large projects 1,000x easier. Check 'em out here. Note Alex's cameo in the picture =)

And of course you simply MUST have


An iron


And an OLFA rotary cutter and self healing mat. (Only OLFA, any other rotary cutter is pretty much garbage in my opinon)

With these simple items and some fabric, the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Ok, ok, I have TOTALLY SUCKED at blogging over the past month (well month and a half)

I actually have a legitimate excuse this time (well...sort of)

I actually came dangerously close to accidentally deleting my blog last week. Let me explain...I have had the same e-mail for several years. I have been wanting to change it to a more "adult sounding" e-mail for a long time but the process of changing it with all of the many MANY people (and things) that have my e-mail. Finally last week I decided to just buckle down and do it.

Then came the headache, changing my blogger account, changing my google reader, changing my igoogle home page. What a mess. While adding my new e-mail as an administrator of my blog I had probably the most horrifying 30 seconds of my blogging life. I was unable to access my blog, then I started getting error messages from blogger. Oh god...I freaking deleted my blog, it's all over....

Then I had to go to work....

So you already know how this ends (since I am posting this) that I was able to recover my blog and add my new e-mail address. Unfortunately I had such a busy work week that I wasn't able to get back on the web until...well...tonight (I think the 240 some odd posts in my Google reader is proof of that).

Hope you guys are all doing well, (looks like you're posting more than me anyway!)

In other news i'm 1/3 of the way through week 4 of the couch to 5-k running plan

I can now run 2 miles fairly easily with minimal rest. I NEVER thought I would be able to say that!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thanks Allison!

Allison from The Displaced Texan gave me an award! The Best Blog Award (wow, thank you so much!)

Best Blog Award

The rules for this blog award are as follows:
1. To accept the award, you must post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted you the award, and a link to their blog.
2. Pass the award on to approximately 10 other blogs that you recently discovered, and think are great!
3. Contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

A Bee & His Honey

Just Another Day in {our midwest} Paradise

Cape Cod Love

Grad School

For those of you lovely people who have been reading every so often you know that I have been obsessing about Grad School for the past, well, it feels like forever (actual time about 6 months). I have been going back and forth about what I want to do since November. At first I wanted to teach at a school of nursing, be a clinical professor, so I decided I wanted to get my masters in nursing education. Awesome, I can do it online, easy easy!

So I started calling universities and getting my applications together for University of Phoenix and Walden University. I had decided to go for Walden University and I was literally putting pen to the paper of my application when I thought, what did I really want out of this? Sure I can teach, but I wouldn't be able to use my master's degree to practice. Hmm...If I get my Nurse Practitioner I can teach AND practice? Plus better hours and more pay to keep doing what I love to do, take care of patients and teach.

O.K. sounds good I'll get my NP, now which one? This set me back A LOT. I have always had a passion for women's care and obstetrics, so I thought hey being a midwife might be fun, researching into it got me really passionate about the midwifery model of care, however the nitty gritty of the actual job was a turn-off. Near impossible access to insurance and the horrific hours don't really butter my bread if you know what I mean. For sure when I start having kids I will have a midwife deliver me, It just isn't my passion enough for me to make the sacrifices needed to make that my career.

So as of today I have settled on getting my Family Nurse Practitioner. For those of you who have absolutely have no idea what I am talking about click here!. I am excited about starting this program, but I feel I should take some time to let it stick before I start applying to schools. The OTHER thing to add to this whole mess is that I need to stick around in one place long enough to actually finish a program, which isn't up to me, it's up to the good old United States Navy.

Ugh...too much stuff for me to obsess about. Well this is the plan for now. There is a program local that has a good program, application deadline is March 1st. I'll get some references at work and get my application in. If I get accepted, awesome! If we don't end up staying in San Diego I'll just be out the application fee (which would be the case if I don't get in anyway).

Wish me luck, I think I need it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Preview: Baby Rika

Today I had the pleasure of meeting my good friend Suzannah's new daughter Victoria. Baby "Rika" came into the world while I was on vacation in Rhode Island and I finally got to see her today.

Of course I brought the camera...









Ok guys I am REALLY PROUD of these shots. I finally feel like this is something I am getting. I can successfully expose and capture images. I can show what I see through my lens. I am becomming more then someone "taking pictures"; I am becoming a real photographer.

Thanks little Rika :-)

Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage

This is the second time I made this dish. I make it once in January while at home in Rhode Island; the batch didn't last the night. This batch I brought over to new mommy Suzannah today. I used disposable ovenware so she doesn't have to worry about bringing any dishes back to me.

Now let me preface the ingredient list by saying this, yes this recipe uses cottage cheese as it's soft cheese base. When I first saw this I was like YUCK I HATE COTTAGE CHEESE which I do, I can't stand the stuff (it's a texture thing I think). I can tell you that it really makes this dish. It was baked in America's test kitchen and they swear by the use of cottage cheese to obtain the creamy texture of the dish. So If you are like me and say "EW COTTAGE CHEESE!" Give this a shot, believe me you won't be disappointed.

Baked ziti

Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage
source: Anne's Eats

1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
Table salt
1 lb. ziti
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
20 oz. turkey Italian sausage
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 tsp. sugarGround black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave in colander.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and heavy cream. Transfer the mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.

Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tilapia Toastadas with Roasted Corn Relish

Another Successful Dinner night (with a speed bump along the way) let me explain...

Picture it. Me, apron clad in the kitchen whipping up a culinary masterpiece for my adoring husband, who happens to walk through the door with a bouquet of flowers (did I mention adoring?) I was broiling the toastadas, the last step before my dinner was complete when I noticed some steam coming out of the burner I was making couscous on. Hmm....I took the pot off the burner and I didn't stop. Then my light bulb went off....the toastadas! Boom! Oven opens, the kitchen fills with smoke and the smoke alarm goes off, awesome, my toastadas are char, ruined!

That being said after a quick fix involing opening every window and turning on evey fan in the apartment and heating up some leftover tortillas in the toaster oven we had a fantastic meal. We ate the talipia more "soft taco style" and they were delicious! The sour cream-salsa verde mix really adds to the meal. 'Ole!

Talipia Tostadas

Tilapia Toastadas with Roasted Corn Relish
source:Cooking Light

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup green salsa
Cooking spray
1 cup yellow corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup diced peeled avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup packaged angel hair slaw
Lime wedges (optional)

1. Combine sour cream and salsa.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from pan; wipe pan clean with paper towels. Combine avocado and juice; toss gently. Stir avocado mixture into corn mixture.

3. Preheat broiler.

4. Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; dredge fish in cornmeal. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of fish to pan; cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over; cook 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and fish.

5. Coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray. Arrange tortillas in a single layer on baking sheets; broil 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. (Don't forget about them like I did!) Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Arrange 2 tablespoons slaw on each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons corn relish and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

This was dinner tonight. I decided to make this based on the fact that I have always been a fan of Thai cuisine (the fact that I had most of the ingredients already on hand didn't hurt either). It was quite good. The coconut milk makes it really creamy without it being too heavy.

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
source: Cooking Light

4 cups water
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
1 (5 3/4-ounce) package pad thai noodles (wide rice stick noodles)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce -(MAN THIS STUFF STINKS!!! after buying it I stashed it in the back back of the cuboard)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 small hot red chiles, seeded and chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
7 lime wedges

1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add spinach and peas to pan; cook for 30 seconds. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Add noodles to pan; cook 3 minutes. Drain; add noodles to spinach mixture in bowl.

2. Heat canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken, onions, sugar, and fish sauce to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Pour chicken mixture over noodle mixture in bowl. Stir in cilantro and chiles. Serve with lime wedges.