Thursday, July 21, 2011


Ok whew!  This week has been a little bit crazyyy...I won't bore you with all the deets, but I've basically been running around like a chicken with my head cut off because: I've had work every day, our dryer broke and I was up to my knees in wet clothes, I'm taking my teacher certification test tomorrow (!!!), we're leaving for Maryland in two days, and there's a million other little things.  So, I'm finally getting around to telling you guys about my weekend...yay!

So, this weekend we headed down to Houston for a couple of festivities.  On Saturday morning I got to go to a beautiful wedding shower for my friend, Sarah.  Sarah was my Fish Camp co-chair in 2008, and I am so happy for her and her sweet fiance, Wes!  The shower was so much fun, and so gorgeous!  At stuff like this you know I'm all about the food, and this spread definitely did not disappoint.
YUM :)
Neither did the giant pile of presents:
Sarah's favorite color is P!NK, so we all wrapped our presents accordingly
While Sarah unwrapped all of those I munched on this:
That was the best chicken salad I've ever had...way to go Alyssa :)
Here I am with the bride to be:
Love you Sarah!! Congrats :)
Sarah and Wes are getting married this Saturday, so I can't go since I will be in Maryland...sad :( But I know their wedding will be gorgeous, and I've heard through the grapevine that Sarah's dress is pretty much the most amazing thing in the world.

After all of the wedding festivities it was time for something sporty, so Austin and I picked up two of our favorite sports nuts: my uncle Scott and my cousin Shane and headed to the Dynamo game.  We stopped at Wendy's along the way...

...and met the employee of the year for sure:
There she is on the right sleeping while 3 customers are up there waiting to order 
Haha good times at ol' Wendy's.  After that lovely experience we were off to the game!
Me and Austin were kind of slacking in the orange shirt department. Whoops.

The game was really fun, and Shane made a new friend :)

In the end, they tied 1-1.  Better than losing I guess...

It was definitely a fun weekend in H-town!  Like I said, this week has been crazy, and I'm off to go study study study for my test tomorrow morning and pack for va-cay.  I can't wait to head off to Maryland to meet all of Austin's family from around the country!!!  I hope y'all have a great weekend/week...I'll be back next Saturday, so look for some tales from the beach!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Last night for dinner I made these:

Austin's favorite food is Mexican, and I am always trying to think of new ways to for him to get his "fix", and for me to eat the same kind of food all the time without getting bored :)  Enter mini taco salads!!  These little guys are relatively simple to make, they taste great, and they look so cute!  So here's how I made 'em:

Mini Taco Salads
2 chicken breasts
1 package of taco seasoning
1 can of rotel
Shredded lettuce
Mexican blend cheese
Tomatoes, diced
Avocado, diced
1 can refried beans
Scoops tortilla chips
Here's the loot all laid out...
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Season both sides of the chicken with the salt, pepper, and cumin, and then drop them in the boiling water for about 10-15 minutes (I did mine for 12, but it depends on the size of your chicken).

While the chicken is cooking, shred the lettuce, and dice the tomato and avocado.  I like to make my toppings pretty small because after all, these are mini taco salads.

Once the chicken is done, let it cool down for a bit and then shred it up!  I use a fork, and it works pretty well.  This part is what takes me the longest, but it's worth it in the end.

Once the chicken is all shredded up, put it in a large pan and add the taco seasoning, 2/3 cup of water, and the rotel.  Cook according to the package instructions.

In the meantime in between time, heat up your beans...

Now it's time to start assembling everything!!  You can layer these anyway you want, but here's how I do it: Line a cookie sheet with foil, and throw on some scoops tortilla chips.  Then add beans, a little cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chicken, and a little more cheese.  Pop them in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Then, top with the salsa.
This recipe is really simple, and you could change it up a million different ways.  Use taco meat instead of chicken, add guacamole, jalapenos, sour cream, onions....whatever you have on hand or sounds good to you :) These would be great as appetizers for a little dinner party, or perfect for game-time snacks.  I just like them because when I'm eating them I feel like a giant.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spontaneous Weekend

This weekend we had plans to stay in Dally bar and keep things relatively low key, but that changed really quick after dinner on Friday night...more on that later though.  First I want to tell y'all about date night!!!

On Friday after Austin got off work he picked me up and we went to eat sushi!  Yum yum yum :)  We decided to go to this place called C-rolls...

But, before we left the house Austin had to deal with a little bug problem.  We were sitting on the couch, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a HUGE wasp just chillin' on the blinds.  I screamed at Austin to "kill it!!!!", and so exterminator Harmon jumped into action.  His weapon of choice?  The microwave cover.  
This was quite the adventure...
Once Austin had the beast trapped he brought it down to the floor and then smashed it with a candle.  After all of the insect drama we finally headed out to go get that sush!  We started with some edamame and chicken fried rice, both of which were delish. (How can you really screw up edamame though? haha)
Austin doesn't like these little soy beans, so more for me :)

He stuck to this rice instead...
After the apps we shared two rolls:
This one was basically like a California Roll, but a little jazzed was just ok
The Frankford Roll...this one was a real winner.  SO yummy!!!
I think we will definitely be back here when we are craving sushi again.  Way to go C-Rolls! 

So onto the spontaneous part of the weekend.  After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble (so romantic) to look at study guides for my upcoming teacher certification test.  While I was browsing the 4-8 generalist books Austin bounds up to me and says, "How spontaneous are you feeling right now?"  I responded, "Where do you want to go...", and then he told me his big plans to drive to San Antonio and float the river.  I got my Sunday shift covered at work, and we were off!  It was already 10:15ish by the time we left Dallas, so we didn't get to San Antonio until about 3:30 in the morning.  So, we were sleepy, but on Saturday we perked up real quick once we got in that river.  It was so much fun, and we were really glad we ended up going!  We stayed at our friend Paul's house, and I think my favorite part of the weekend was Paul pulling out his old stories that he wrote in the first grade.  There was a story about a "shrinking machine", another about manifest destiny, and (my personal favorite) a horror story called The Man With the Bony Knees.  I was crying I was laughing so hard while Paul read these aloud to us.

On Sunday we met my friend Rebecca (aka Gabe) and her sisters for a quick lunch, and then we headed back home.  It was definitely a long, tiring weekend, but we had SO much fun :)

I'm making some quick and easy (but delicious) dinners this weekend, so look out for some how-to's later this week!

I'll leave you with Austin and my "sushi faces":

Have a great week!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Wonderful Wednesday

Today was an exciting day!  It started out like any other, but then I went to get the mail (one of my favorite activities), and there was a package waiting for me!!!  Inside was a graduation present from one of my favorite Sugar Land families, the Dianiska's:
The card says, "the future's lookin' pretty bright" :)
Inside the pineapple box was a gift card to one of those stores that I go in all the time but never buy anything because it's wayyyy too expensive...Williams Sonoma!!! I was SO jazzed, and I've been pondering what I should get ever since.  So thank you thank you to KK and her family!  After my mail adventure I went to work out at our lovely apartment gym.  Luckily I was the only person in there today (last time I went to work out there was a 6-year-old on the elliptical machine and a guy wearing jeans on the treadmill--who wears jeans to work out?), so I got to watch what I wanted on the TV and didn't have a denim-clad weirdo watching me do crunches.  After the gymbo I hit the showers and then went to get my oil changed.  That part wasn't very exciting.  I think oil changes and stuff like that are so dumb.  Why do I have to spend 40 ducks for some smelly guy to change my oil when I could be spending it on something way more Whole Foods goodies.  Oh well.  When the smelly guy was done probing around in my car I went to the grocery store to get supplies for dinner and the rest of the week.  Once I got home I started dinner and watched So You Think You Can Dance (aka the best show on Earth).  Then Austin got home and came bearing gifts!!!
Yay for clean water!!!
Our tap water here is, well, disgusting, so we've been buying water bottles, but we figured a Brita water pitcher would be a lot more economical.  And it has that pretty green top!  Two presents in one felt like Christmas up here in Dallas.

Tonight for dinner I made a recipe out of one of my favorite cookbooks:
Austin got me this for Christmas last year, and I <3 it!
Here's what I made in case any of y'all are interested...

Lemon Basil Chicken 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
the zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 whole lemon, cut into 8 wedges

Here are all of my ingredients laid out:
I made roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes on the side, so that's what those 2 things are doing there...

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic.  Cook for 1 minute, and then take off the heat.  Add the wine, oregano, basil, lemon zest and juice, and salt.

Pour this little pan of love into a 9x13 pyrex dish, and put the chicken in there as well, making sure both sides are covered with the sauce.  Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and then tuck the lemon wedges in between the chicken.

Stick this in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on how big your chickies are), and take it out when the chicken is done (I only had to cook mine for about 31 minutes).  After you take the pan out of the oven cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.  Then serve these puppies up!  

Like I said...I made some roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes for side dishes.  Both were easy peasy. For the mashed potatoes I just cut some small potatoes in half:

Then put them in a large pot.  I covered them with water (the most important thing that I've learned about making mashed potatoes is to let the potatoes heat at the same rate as the water...don't ever add potatoes to boiling water--it makes them taste gross), let the water come to a boil, and then let them cook for about 10-15 minutes.  As soon as you can stick a fork in them and it feels tender they are dunzo.  I drained the taters, and then mashed them up with a fork.  You can use a potato masher, but I don't gots one of those. Once they were all mashed up I added about 3 tablespoons of butter, a splash of milk, and some salt and pepper.  I mixed that all up, and bada boom I had some mashed potatoes baby!

For the asparagus I snapped off the ends of a bundle, and then lined then up on a foil-lined baking sheet. I drizled a little bit of EVOO on top and then sprinkled on some garlic salt, salt, and pepper.

Pop these guys into a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, and you'll have some crunchy asparagus!  Here's what my plate looked like after I was done cooking all this stuff up:
YUMM :) My tummy is happy now.
Alrighty, I hope everyone had as wonderful of a Wednesday as I did.  Tomorrow night I have to work, and then it's the weekend baby!  We don't have any plans right now, but I'm sure we'll cook something up :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

Well I hope everybody had a wonderful holly-day weekend!  Here's what went down up here in Dally:

On Saturday Austin and I went over to a friend's house and spent the day celebrating the 4th the right way: swimming, grilling, hanging out with friends, and, well, drinking haha.  Some of Austin (and my) friend's from La Porte (Jeremy & Kristi) came up to Dallas for the weekend to visit some family, so we tagged along to a family party.  I always love meeting other people's families.  It's funny to me how (most of the time) people look and act a lot like their parents, and it's always reassuring to see that mine isn't the only family filled with nuts haha :)  Here are some highlights from the day:
Me & Austie hanging by the pool

The house that we were at was SO nice, and they had a really great backyard...perfect for pool parties!  They also made us some really yummy food.  We had a huge spread: pork chops, grilled chicken, sausage, green beans, mac and cheese, rolls, potato salad, the list goes on.  When it was time to eat Austin went inside to make himself a plate and all of Jeremy's aunts were like, "Austin, aren't you going to make Jamie a plate?!?"  So Austin came back outside with a HUGE plate of goodies for me.  He said he felt like he was in the 50's.  I told him if it was the 50's I would've been the one getting his plate ;) Anyways, the dinner was delicious, but since I'm a sucker for dessert that was my favorite part.  Here's what we had:
Yummy cake with delicious icing
And every kind of BlueBell you can think of!
Austin had finished his cake before I could take a picture haha
After dinner we did some more swimming...

And then the boys engaged in a hardcore game of basketball:
I guess he's taking some tips from Dirk...

Needless to say Saturday was a lot of fun, and it was great to see some of our amigos from H-town.  Yesterday (the big day) was a good time too.  I had to work all day, but when I got off at 7:45 I raced home and met Austin and some of our friends (Adrew & Angel) to go watch some fireworks.  We went downtown to the CottonBowl stadium (and so did the rest of Dallas) for the "Fair Park Fourth":

The fireworks were really great, and the finale was insane...I have honestly never seen so many fireworks go off at once.  So much for that burn ban I guess.  The other people there were definitely "interesting"...I think Austin put it best when he said, "this is cool, but I would never bring my kids here."  Here's Austin and me before the show:
We've got the blue and white, but I guess we forgot the red :/

And hereeeeee's the good stuff:

Yay for America!!  I hope everybody had a fun holiday weekend, and that it's not too hard getting back to the ol' grind.  Have a great week! 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

WF, Manicotti, and SPF

I have recently discovered a new obsession in my life: Whole foods!!!  I read a blog by a girl who goes there all the time, and earlier this week I headed over to WF, and seriously could have spend hours in there.  I started my journey by having this for lunch:
This was a mediterranean quinoa salad    
They had so much to choose from, and I was kind of overwhelmed, but I've been wanting to try quinoa so I went for it.  The verdict?  Not my favorite.  It kind of just tasted like I was chewing on some wheat or something.  Maybe it would be better with more flavorings.  However, once I got over my wheat-like-quinoa experience I was in heaven!  They have the most amazing selection of groceries, and their produce section is THE BEST.  Everything is so fresh and delicious-looking.  I came home with all of this loot:
Yummmm :)
So to sum up: Whole Foods is my new best friend, and I want to start getting all of my produce from there because it is the

Ok so on to the manicotti.  Austin was out of town again this week (he went to Malakoff to visit our friend Zac), so when he got home on Thursday night I wanted to make him a good little meal.  I had originally planned to make Rachel Ray's recipe for 4 cheese stuffed shells, but the store didn't have any giant shells, so I improvised and kind of made up my own recipe for 3 cheese manicotti.  To go with it I decided to try making some sweet potato fries (Austin called them SPFs haha).  Here's the recipes with some pictures!

3 Cheese Manicotti
1 box manicotti shells (1 box contains 14)
1 lb ground beef
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6-7 basil leaves, chopped or torn
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon oregeno
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
Salt and Pepper
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese (1 bag)
4 cups mozzarella cheese (1 big bag)

In a large pot, boil as much water as you can and cook the manicotti shells for 7 minutes or until al dente.  Drain, set the shells aside, and let cool.  While the shells are cooking brown the meat and drain.  Next, chop up your veggies and herbs:
Garlic, onion, and basil (I didn't feel like buying parsley, so I just used dried)
In the same pan that you cooked the meat, add the EVOO, onion, and garlic.  Saute the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is tender.  Then, add in the meat and tomatoes.  Stir in the rest of the herbs and spices (basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic salt), and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  While the sauce is simmering mix together the ricotta, 2 cups of the mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the parmesean in a bowl.  

In a pyrex baking dish pour a little bit of the sauce (just enough to cover the bottom).  Now, fill the manicotti with the cheese filling.  Line the baking dish with 7 or the manicotti, and then put a little bit more of the filling on top:
I know there's 8 here, but I'd use 7 next time I made it...
Pour the rest of the sauce on top, and then cover with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses:
Kind of looks like lasagna, huh?
Bake at 450 degrees for about 6-7 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty and bubbly.  This recipe got the Austin stamp of approval, and I will definitely be making it again.  I took the remaining 7 manicotti and just froze them to make another time.  I suppose you could just half the recipe for the cheese filling, and only make 7 at one time, but I wanted to make them all at once.  Either way works though!

Ok and here's the recipe for the sweet potato fries...I used one from Paula Deen, but I didn't have any of her "house seasoning", so I left that out.  

Sweet Potato Fries (SPF)
2 sweet potatoes
garlic salt 

Basically you just wash and peel two sweet potatoes, and then chop them into "fries":

Drizzle the fries with a little bit of EVOO, and toss to coat.  Lay them on on a sheet pan lined with foil, and sprinkle on a little bit on salt, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika.  Toss the fries again, and slide them into a 450 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the fries are tender.  

Make sure to turn them a couple of times while they are baking.  Let them cool for about 5-10 minutes, and then serve!

Sorry I don't have pictures of the final products, but I had to rush off to work, so I let Austin finish the cooking...everything turned out really yummy though :)

Happy 4th of July weekend to everyone...I'll be back next week to tell y'all about the shenanigans we get into this weekend!