Monday, February 28, 2011

Garlicy, Lemony Quinoa Tabouli with a Side of Chicken

I love quinoa. I mean, I love it. Everything, absolutely everything about it. The texture (and I'm a really picky texture person, J will tell you), the taste, the way it mixes so perfectly with so many other things... Oh I love quinoa.

I spent a while looking through a bunch of different tabouli recipes and came up with a fun little recipe for Quinoa Tabouli (that makes lots of leftovers so I can have some tomorrow for lunch too!).

  • 1 box quinoa 
  • Water, to boil the quinoa
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 box grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 grated carrots 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from 2 lemons 
  • Sea salt 
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced 
  1. Cook the quinoa as according to the package that it comes in. 
  2. While the quinoa cooks, dice the veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, carrots, and green onions) and combine in a bowl. 
  3. When the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it and put in a large bowl. 
  4. Add the veggies on top of the quinoa. 
  5. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice. 
  6. Stir to ensure even spread of juices in the quinoa-veggie mix. 
  7. Sprinkle with salt, stirring. 
  8. Taste test the tabouli and see what you think... Add what's needed. 
  9. Chill in the fridge for two or three hours. 
  10. Enjoy! 
To compliment the tabouli I was planning on making homemade Tikka Masala, but didn't read my recipe early enough in the day... So I had to wing it. I grilled up a few chicken breasts in olive oil, salt, and pepper with a bit of lemon juice.

A side of naan (which you can find readily made at the grocery store near you - or Target where I got it!)  is the perfect compliment and so delicious with the tabouli on top of it! 

Needless to say, I can't wait for lunch tomorrow! 

Daily Confession: I was the Coochi-Snorcher.

I have never liked speaking in front of large crowds. But my RA my second year was the director of a play, The Vagina Monologues, and asked me to please audition. I had no intention to try out... Then my best friend dared me to. Not one to refuse a dare I auditioned AND got the part! 
It was such a growing experience and I ended up loving the women involved with the show and having a chance to shine. 
My parents came and watched the show along with the rest of my family and some close family friends. And, of course, my dear J was there. 
*Funny note: J and I had just started dating when this was all going down and I can't tell you how embarrassed I was to tell him that I was going to be acting in The Vagina Monologues, but he was so proud of me and he went to two of the shows to help calm my nerves! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Old Town Temecula Farmer's Market and My First Original Recipe

One of my family's favorite things to do on the weekends is go to the Farmer's Market in Old Town Temecula. I just love the Farmer's Market, but with all the business of life going on it's been hard to find myself there. Although it was rainy here this morning, Mama Bird, Baby Bear, J and I decided to get out and enjoy the organic wonderfulness of the Old Town Temecula Farmer's Market. 

Nothing like an awkward (SUPER AWKWARD) picture on your way into the Farmer's Market! 
Please appreciate my sweet little ladybug umbrella! And our ever important recyclable bags!
Future Mayor of Temecula paying respects to her constituents! (Just kidding, but doesn't it look like it?) 
Aren't these berries so beautiful in their arrangement? Oh, and they are just amazing to eat!
Completely organic and sold within 24 hours of their picking. 
Yep! We bought these and they are so perfectly, sweetly wonderful!

Baby Bear showing his excitement about all of the organic veggies! 
Leaving the market for home with our bags of spoils! 
Baby Beat loving his Asian Pears he bought! J and he ate three whole ones today! 
One of the stands at the market had a big box of sun dried tomatoes. Oh boy they were so vibrantly red and so savory looking. As soon as we got home I got to work on making a delicious little dip for the sun dried tomatoes to be used in!

Feta, Basil, and Sun-dried Tomato Trio Dip
We got absolutely amazing sun dried tomatoes from a local community farm, Terra Bella. You can check them out on their Facebook page here! They sell amazing organic fresh nuts, dried fruits and veggies, as well as greens. 

  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled goat cheese 
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (plus some to drizzle on top!) 
  • 1/2 of a really juicy lemon
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 bunch of basil 
  • A handful of sun dried tomatoes (mine weren't in oil, but if so just drain)
  1. Place the feta cheese, goat cheese, and garlic in a bowl. 
  2. Sprinkle with pepper and add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. 
  3. Mix together with a spoon (sort of smashing the cheese together into a paste). 
  4. On a cutting board mince the basil into finely chopped bits. 
  5. Layer basil on top of the cheese in the bottom of the bowl. 
  6. Chop the sun dried tomatoes on a cutting board into smaller pieces. 
  7. Sprinkle these on top of the basil and cheese. 
  8. Drizzle with olive oil and dash with pepper. 
  9. Use pita chips or triscuits to scoop up the tasty topping. 
  10. Enjoy!

Daily Confessions: I am a biter.

I bite my nails. A whole heck of a lot. It's such a bad habit and I hate when I do it, but I can't resist a good nibble on my nails when driving around (that's usually when I do it).
This was right after J proposed! The longest my nails I have had... ever!
Didn't stay that long for much more time... I quickly bit them off right after we returned from the trip! 
But, when my nails are painted I don't bite. So I try and keep them painted lots. OPI has the best base and top coat -I can keep my polish on for almost a week!

What are your favorite nail polish colors? I love a good adventure and would love to wear colors you recommend!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Family Feature: Bubba's Birthday Dinner

Bubba turns 19 next week. He goes to college in SLO and we won't be able to see him on his actual birthday. So tonight, we celebrate!

Here is the celebration dinner! Please excuse the ridiculous Pennie Pickle that's sticking her head out from under the table. She never gets to come inside, but it's cold so she got to come in and wouldn't get out. 
The Birthday Boy with his birthday dinner and plate. It's your day! 
This salad is just so amazing! It's Cara Cara Oranges with Mozzarella and basil. Just like a Caprese salad but with oranges. The vinaigrette was absolutely delicious with orange juice in it... Yum! 
Popsicle wanted to show just how much he loves his meal. He didn't want to stop eating for a smiley picture. 
Birthday boy and his Babe! 
J and I. 
Baby Bear in all his dinner loving glory! 
Mama Bird made the most amazing dinner... So this is going to be a post with her sweet dinner recipes! It was deemed a delicious dinner!

The Big Chicken MauMau plate. Delicious! The recipes will be at the bottom of the page.
Grandpa Frank's Big Chicken MaMou 
(He was the one that shared the recipe with us for the first time!) 
PLEASE NOTE: This recipe is a little bit time intensive, but I PROMISE it's worth every moment!
  • 6 quarts hot water
  • 3 Tablespoons salt 
  • 1 box spaghetti (whole wheat is healthier!) 
Sauce Seasoning Mix: 
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground red pepper (cayenne works!) 
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (you can use black if you don't have white... I never do!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 5 minced cloves of garlic 
  • 3 1/4 cups chicken stock 
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans of tomato sauce 
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups finely chopped green onions 
  • 1 pounds boneless chicken, cut into small cubes 
Chicken Seasoning Mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional, although it's just delicious to add!) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
  1. Place the hot water and salt in a large pot over high heat. 
  2. Cover and bring to a boil. 
  3. When the water reaches a boil, add spaghetti to the pot. 
  4. Return to boil and cook to the al dente stage. (about 7 minutes) 
  5. While the spaghetti is boiling combine the seasoning mix ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. 
  6. When complete drain spaghetti into a colander.
  7. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine 1/2 stick of butter, the onions, and garlic cloves.
  8. Saute over medium heat 5 minutes. 
  9. Add the minced garlic and the seasoning mix; continue cooking over medium heat until onions are browned. 
  10. Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock, the Worcestershire and Tabasco. 
  11. Bring to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes stirring often. 
  12. Stir in the tomato sauce and bring mixture to a boil. 
  13. Stir in the sugar and 1 cup of green onions. 
  14. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally. 
  15. Mix the spices for the chicken while the sauce is simmering. 
  16. Add the chicken to a skillet and dump the spices over it. 
  17. Stir to spread the spices evenly over the chicken while it cooks. 
  18. Add the remaining 1 cup green onions to the chicken and saute over high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  19. Once the chicken is done cooking, add the sauce from the saucepan. 
  20. Let mixture cook for about an hour. 
  21. Serve the chicken mix over the spaghetti. 
  22. Enjoy! 
Mama Bird's Citrusy Caprese Salad
  • 3 Cara Cara Oranges
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese (the kind that comes in the little watery stuff)
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  1. Whisk quickly. 
  2. Drizzle over orange, cheese, basil arrangement.
  3. Enjoy! 
And, of course, no birthday celebration would be any good without CAKE!

Angel Food cake is a big deal in our cozy house! 
Happy Birthday Bubba! 

Daily Confessions: I Have LOTS of Sisters

I rush a sorority my sophomore year of high school - something that I never saw myself doing until the moment recruitment started.

As you can see, it has enriched my life so immensely. And the church J and I currently attend was the one I started going to with my sorority sisters!

And, it's how I met my dear J. Who would have known getting a bunch of sisters would also lead to a husband?!? This was just about an hour or so before J grooved his way into my life!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Fat is Good Fat?

I have always struggled with fat. I mean, if I eat it, aren't I going to get, just that, fat? Turns out no. There is some fat that is actually beneficial to you, then there is the bad, beware, stay away from me fat.

Do you know which fat is the good fat? I have found a couple of different articles discussing good versus bad fat as well as which foods contain each of the various kinds of fat! The one I liked the best is here.

Monounsaturated Fats: Being lower in total cholesterol and higher in good cholesterol this fat provides more heart heath than hurt! These have also been found to help in losing weight by fighting off bad fat... So beat the bulge by eating the right fat instead of steering completely clear.
        ** This can be found in nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios), olive and canola oil, and avocado.    (Note to readers: baking with canola oil is actually better than veggie oil because it retains its moisture better too!)

Polyunsaturated Fats: Just like Monounsaturated these have a lower total cholesterol and higher good cholesterol count in them.
        ** I like to call this "fish fat" because this is the kind of fat you often hear people raging about... The Omega 3 fatty acids are in this group. Corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oils also fall into this group.

Saturated Fats: These have the bad cholesterol running rampant in them. Bad for your heart because they raise your overall cholesterol unlike the other ones that fight it.
        ** These can be found in meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood. Coconut oil (also good for baking, but bad for your heart) and palm oil are also high in saturated fat.

Trans Fat: This is basically manmade. We all know by now that organic is always a bit better than manmade. These oils are used to make highly processed foods sit better and grows their shelf life... More reason NOT to eat them!
        **These are found in... Basically all American bred food: French fries, microwave popcorn, vegetable shortening and margarine. Ugh, my heart hurts just thinking about this yucky stuff.

Hopefully these help you a little bit in your eating adventures! Just remember unsaturated = good, saturated = bad. And check the labels on the food that you're picking up this week on your grocery shopping trip!

Daily Confessions: You ARE Going to Know Me

Lately I have been surfing through all of the amazing blogs of friends I have made on Twitter... Oh my I am so inspired. But sometimes I wish I could know them more. I want to know about their random eccentricities, about their struggles, about what makes them smile... Turning this introspective, I looked at my blog and realized you know I'm (getting) married, I love God with as much of me as possible, and kitchen time is major in my life. But what about all my little quirks... There are so many! 

So, the Daily Confessions series of posts begins. Every day from now until I have nothing more to share about me (impossible!) I will post once a day sharing something random about myself! Please comment and share about you too... Amazing people look at my blog, I want to know just how amazing you are! 

Daily Confession: On my 14th birthday my dad woke me up bright and early at 7:30 am and said I had come into my own. That meant, I was legally old enough to drive... 

A Tractor.
He taught me to drive an old 1950s John Deere that morning and, boy, what a magical moment it was! I got to be a part of the man world and to this day my dad just glows when I drive that puppy around the neighborhood (or in the city's 4th of July Parade!). 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ooey Gooey White Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies have always been something I have loved. But I hate when/if they are not soft, gooey, and absolutely delicious! Lauren, a mom of two and the writer of one of my favorite blogs, posted these yummy sweet treats and they quickly became one of my favorite things to bake!

I made mine a little bit different than hers (being the fan of white chocolate I am!). Check her original recipe out here.


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips 

  1. Beat butter and sugars together in a standing mixer until fluffy. 
  2. Add pudding, egg, and vanilla. 
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. 
  4. Stir in white chocolate chips (I have also added cranberries to add a fruity little twist!). 
  5. Spoon onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. 
  6. Bake at 375 f for 7-10 minutes. 
  7. Let cool as long as you can resist on a wire baking rack. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Don't forget your tall glass of milk on the side! (Or soy milk if you have allergies like mine!)

From a New Friend: Project Do Me

In all of the blogging that I have been doing lately I have found plenty of time to troll through many blogs and check out what other amazing writers are doing. This morning I found Ky after she commented on one of my posts (so that means she actually found me!). Her blog is absolutely adorable... Her life as a traveling fan of her hockey hunk fiance. As she travels the world being his number one fan, she writes so honestly about her adventures, her homesickness, and her love for the man she is going to marry! 

Ky posted about her Project Do Me and I was immediately intrigued. She then closes the post challenging readers to take part in the Project... So, here I am to give it a good girl scout try! 

1. Read myself to sleep, instead of watching TV. 
2. Comment on several blogs a day to increase my online presence. 
3. Read my bible and do a bible study with J. 

This Week: 
1. Do a Mama Bird Feature on my blog. 
2. Move some of the millions of photos from my computer to my external hard drive. 
3. Follow up a run with abs and arms (despite how much I truly hate them!). 

This Month: 
1. Share my blog link with ten friends that I want to know about it, but am too shy to actually share. 
2. Graduate from college with Straight A's for the best grades in my college career. 

This Year: 
1. Start a Bi-Weekly feature of different bloggers that I truly love! 
2. Get toned on my own without a trainer. (I know I can do it, I just have to start)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cupboard Cooking Challenge Day 2: Cajun Chicken, Couscous, and Lemon Grilled Garlic Chips

Tonight was night number two of the Cupboard Cooking Challenge! It went just as well as last night... Part of me thinks J might be more impressed by my random cooking adventures from the last two nights than my big planned meals he's used to!

I just picked some random ingredients out of the cupboard and fridge today that I knew J loved... And it worked out for the best!

  • 1 box of couscous
  • 6 frozen chicken tenders (just the Albertson's brand) 
  • 3 small zucchinis (left over from last week... In their last moments of goodness, but cooked just in time!) 
  • 2 lemons 
  • A handful of spinach 
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • Drizzle of olive oil 
  • Cajun seasoning
  • A dash or two of black pepper
  1. Run the chicken tenders under hot water in the sink to thaw. (This just has to happen for five minutes) 
  2. While the chicken is thawing, boil the water for the couscous as directed on the box. 
  3. Cut chicken tenders into small pieces and drop into pan. 
  4. Sprinkle the chicken with cajun seasoning. (Warning: don't get too excited, it can get too salty fast. You can always use pepper to add more flavor!) 
  5. As soon as the water is done boiling pour it over the couscous and cover. Let it sit and cook itself. 
  6. Stir the chicken occasionally making sure it gets cooked through. 
  7. Cut up the zucchini in small chips. 
  8. Add to a pan with a handful or two of spinach. 
  9. Add minced garlic to the pan of veggies and drizzle with olive oil. 
  10. Juice both lemons into the veggie stir fry and stir. 
  11. Sprinkle with pepper. 
  12. Check the chicken. Once cooked through turn off heat. 
  13. Veggies are done once the spinach is dilapidated (not a good word, but not sure how else to put it... Help here?) and the zucchini chips are brownish. 
  14. Serve... and Enjoy! 
This was a very delicious little meal... J has grown used to my mini photo shoots of my dinner before we eat... Tonight he got involved and told me I serve my plate wrong. This is what he came up with:

All of the elements joined in a little pile of togetherness! 
And the proud plate maker... Wearing a ridiculous turtle shirt... I have not shared the turtle tales with you!
I'll add it to my "to blog" list! 
And mine... Just to compare:

If you can't tell I'm a purist. I like to mix my food by my own accord and not by phenomena and fate, much unlike J.

I'm a scarf addict right now. Good thing the weather is kind of cold here so I don't look absurd wearing them! 
Are you a purist too? Or do you like the beautiful disaster of a plate J has concocted? 

Cupboard Cooking Challenge: Eggplant and Artichoke Heart Pasta Casserole

J and I spent the weekend in San Luis Obispo hanging out with my family and visiting the sweet little town where Bubs goes to college. Such a fun time and amazing memories were created! (I will share these soon!) We didn't get back until late Monday after a long weekend away and I was not really interested in going grocery shopping. Bubs' birthday is this weekend so J and I will be out of town again at my parents' house... This means, only three days of cooking this week. Because there isn't much cooking going on, I felt like grocery shopping was going to be a waste... And the Cupboard Cooking Challenge was born!

Basically this is how the challenge works:

  • No grocery shopping for the week. 
  • All meals must be made from what you already have in the cupboards (and fridge!) 
Yep, it's the easy... Except you'll be shocked because it's never truly that easy!

A side of mini caprese salad always makes everything better!

  • 1 Eggplant (I bought it last week and was so lucky it didn't go bad over the long weekend!) 
  • 1/2 bag of pepperoni 
  • 1 bag/box of the pasta of your choice (or what's left in your cupboards) 
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (for some reason I can't get enough of these lately!) 
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce 
  • Dash (or many) of black pepper 

The idea for this recipe came from Food Network's latest magazine,
The Italian Issue, that had this sweet little meal making flow chart! 

  1. Cook a pound of pasta (I used penne) in a pot of salted water about two minutes less than directed on the package. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking slice the veggies and meat. (You want a total of about 3 cups of chopped ingredients)
  3. Drain the pasta and let sit. 
  4. Add 1/2 of the jar of sauce in a LARGE pot. (This is where you're going to mix everything so please make sure it's big enough!) 
  5. Add the meat and veggies and let cook for five minutes. 
  6. If you want to add red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, this is the time to do so! 
  7. Add the pasta to the pot. 
  8. Add 3/4 of the cheese to the pot. 
  9. Stir contents together adding additional spaghetti sauce as you see fit. (I am very liberal about this) 
  10. After all of the contents is stirred together, put it in a greased casserole dish. 
  11. Cover with the rest of the grated cheese. 
  12. Bake at 450 f for about 15 minutes, until the cheese on top is melty and bubbly. 
  13. Remove from oven, let cool for five minutes. 
  14. ENJOY! 
(Just 15 minutes later!)
Random note for all my dear readers:
J is a booger because he thinks my sweet name for him is too short. Want to know what he thinks I should call him? Jet. Like a turbo jet? I think NOT. It's J. Period. This is my blog. J start your own if you want to be a stinking, fuel-wasting Turbo Jet.
(I really do love my dear J, but he was watching over my shoulder after giving me a hard time about the nickname... So this is what he gets!)