3 Day Weekend in Photos

Hey friends. This long weekend was definitely needed! Apparently I was exhausted from the last few weeks- after an epic episode of Downton Abbey (Season 2 Christmas episode, omagawww) on Friday night, we went to sleep at 1am and I didn’t wake up until nearly 11am. TEN HOURS of sleep! To be honest, I probably would sleep at least 9 hours per night if I didn’t have to work every morning, haha, but it felt nice to be well-rested!

Enjoy my weekly pics from the weekend šŸ™‚

20130219-112208.jpg

On Friday, my boss was in Clarksburg so he went to the winery that is supplying our reception and picked up our order: 2 cases of wine. Think that’s enough for 50-60 people? They are all lobbyists and state lawmakers, of course, so you never know… šŸ˜‰ Also, our apartment is looking lovely thanks to our two boyfriends and Valentines Day!

20130219-112213.jpg

Friday night, I made roasted cauliflower steaks for the first time (with a soy ginger type glaze), and T-Man made us his specialty: Chicken Caesar wraps. Homeboy only has one signature meal in the kitchen…but damn if he isn’t great at it!

20130219-112218.jpg

Saturday was girls night out at Sapporo. I had a Music roll (shrimp tempura, salmon, tuna, avocado, and two sauces!) and a glass of wine. Instead of going to another bar, we opted to go back to my place and try out an orange moscato I’ve had hanging out in my cupboard for months now. All 3 of us kept talking about how we felt like old ladies, but crowded bars and clubs are stressful, man!

20130219-112226.jpg

That night, I attempted overnight crockpot oatmeal. Nothing really to write home about, it was a little too runny for me and not sweet enough for my roomie. I think I’ll stick to my normal microwave routine for now!

20130219-112310.jpg

Strange, strange beer. It has a very slight aftertaste of watermelon. Probably won’t buy it again anytime soon, but I feel like it could be a perfect light summer beer!

20130219-112317.jpg

Haha um, that was me insisting that T-Man take my picture when we were the only ones in the theater at Argo yesterday. They re-released it since it’s Oscar season and it’s gotten so many awards I didn’t wanna miss out! It was a very cool movie- I think I prefer the brilliant acting in Silver Linings Playbook, though.

And below you’ll find the Game of Thrones board game. We play board games pretty often, and many are very complicated (Settlers of Catan is a favorite), but this game is almost too much! There’s so much going on that it takes a minimum of 3 hours. We stopped after 3 hours and had only gotten through 6 turns (out of ten)! To be continued, I suppose… šŸ™‚

Unfortunately after all the bragging I did about our weather last week, this is my view today:

20130219-114101.jpg

Womp womp. At least the week will already be 2/5 over after today! Here’s to long weekends!

Have you seen all the Oscar Best Picture-nominated films? I’ve only seen 3 of the 9- I’m slacking this year!

Advertisements

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

So it’s been pretty cold. I know that I’ll get flack for saying this, being that I live in California and all. But it has consistently been 32 degrees or below every morning this week! I won’t mention that the high each day has also been 50 degrees…but I will complain about having to defrost and/or just get impatient and scrape ice off the windshield in the morning. I was actually up at 6:30 yesterday morning to go get a cancerous mole removed (long story) and it was a shock to my cold-hating soul!

I’m convinced this winter that I have poor circulation, because I am pretty much always freezing. I’m freezing in my 63 degree apartment, T-Man’s 67 degree house…I’m even sometimes freezing in my office, which is actually kept around 73 degrees.

Enter: soup.

DSC_0196

I’ve been craving hot food lately, especially since I had a head/chest cold over Christmas and wanted everything I consumed to be hot to soothe my throat. My dad’s side of the family (all 18 of us) exchange gifts Secret Santa-style every year, so when my cousin Evan drew my name this year, he sneakily asked T-Man what to get me for Christmas. T-Man suggested a Crockpot…most likely because I have been holding his hostage for about 6 months now and it’s time I got my own šŸ™‚

So that’s what I got for Christmas, and I knew immediately what I’d be making in it first: SOUP!

DSC_0180

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Chicken Tortilla Soup. I love it because it involves lots of my favorite non-soup ingredients: chiles, corn, chicken, cilantro… I hate it for the same reason I steer clear of Chicken Noodle Soup: because it’s normally pretty brothy, with rubbery pieces of chicken floating around. I am not usually that person who slurps up all the broth at the end of a bowl of soup – except maybe with a nice big piece of bread.

That being said…I slurped up all.of.the.broth at the end of every bowl of this soup. I have made myself a broth-believer.

The secret: a roasted pepper.

DSC_0178

I charred this pasilla pepper and blended him up with roasted garlic and cilantro to add a little sum’n-sum’n to my broth.

DSC_0182

(Another toy my mom got me for my birthday…a duo blender/mini food processor! To join the regular food processor T-Man got me for our anniversary. Good thing there are no more birthdays and holidays for a while, ’cause I’m running out of cabinet space!!)

The result was a broth that wasn’t just there for all the ingredients to float in: it was actually super delicious on its own!

And because this soup is made in the Crockpot, it is extremely easy to make. It also has very few ingredients and is HEALTHY! Check it out for yourself:

DSC_0179

Boneless skinless chicken thighs, a pepper, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, black beans (cause I love ’em) and fat free low sodium chicken broth. Oh and frozen corn, which isn’t pictured. This meal is packed with protein and not much fat at all – only from the chicken. The great thing about cooking in a Crockpot is you don’t have to add oil like you do with sauteing or roasting!

DSC_0189

You really just dump it all into the Crockpot. I avoided the dreaded rubbery chunks of chicken by first cooking the thighs whole, then removing them toward the end of cooking and shredding them with a couple of forks. Such a good decision!

This is a soup that can also be made without a Crockpot…your best bet would be to use leftover cooked chicken and shred it first, then add everything to a pot and let it simmer for as long as you’d like.

DSC_0192

Make it! Warm up your cold wintery self!

DSC_0193

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
makes 3-4 servings

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs OR 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2-14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth (about 3-4 cups)
1 pasilla pepper (I would use a pasilla pepper or the spicier poblano…the 2 are often confused for each other)
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic (roasted or not- here’s a good tutorial on how to roast garlic)
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes in chiles
1/4 cup corn
shredded cheese (optional)
crumbled tortilla chips (optional)

Start by adding chicken and chicken broth to the Crockpot. Set Crockpot to high so the chicken can start to cook during the short time it will take you to prepare the other ingredients.

Char the pasilla pepper on all sides, either on your gas stove or under the broiler in your oven. When it is done, carefully move it into a plastic bag, or a covered bowl, so the steam will release the skin. After about 10 minutes, you will be able to easily remove the charred skin, as well as the inner seeds and ribs. I also charred and peeled my garlic cloves as a way to “roast” them. Add garlic and peeled pepper to food processor, along with a handful or two of cilantro, and process until it is a pesto-like consistency. I added a teaspoon of water to help it along.

Now you can start adding the rest of the ingredients to the Crockpot. Add the chile-cilantro mixture and stir to incorporate into the broth. Next, add black beans and the entire can of tomatoes and chiles (liquid and all). Last, add the corn. Slow cook in the Crockpot on high for 4 hours. After 3 hours, remove the chicken thighs and shred them with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back in for the last hour of cooking.

Garnish with cheese and tortilla chips if desired! (I didn’t have any on hand! For shame.)

Note: You can also set your Crockpot to low if you want it to take longer to cook (e.g. while you are at work). If you set it to low, it will take 6-8 hours total. You will still want to remove the chicken about an hour before the cooking time is up. Also, I feel like I should warn that if you also buy Rotel brand tomatoes and are a tomato-hater, they will smell pretty disgusting at first…but never fear, the broth actually masks the taste of the tomatoes very well! Believe me, T-Man and I were gagging at the smell of the Rotel and both loved the final product!

Shredded Mexican Chicken

I’ve got pregnancy brain today.

No, no, no, I’m not pregnant. But have you heard of pregnancy brain? I’ve been watching a crap-ton of How I Met Your Mother lately, and there’s a whole episode dedicated to Lily’s pregnancy brain. For example, she leaves her wallet and keys in the freezer. For us non-pregnant peeps, I think I’ll call it Friday Brain.

Friday brain. When you’ve gone through an entire week of work (and play), are at the peak of your sleep deprivation, and your brain just doesn’t wanna work anymore.

Case in point: This morning, I spent 15 minutes prepping today’s lunch (Pesto Chickpea burger on top of a salad! Yum), because I’m meeting an old boss for lunch in the park. Then, immediately afterward, I spent 10 minutes preparing my gym bag to go for a jog at lunch because it’s finally cool enough to jog outside. Derp derp.

This is in addition to the half a dozen times in the past month that I’ve accidentally left either my makeup, cell phone, or lunch at T-Man’s house before he drops me off for work in the morning.

Let’s just say my brain has been out of it lately.

However, this tip I’m teaching you today is pretty much foolproof. Here’s the deal… T-Man has a Crockpot. I do not. In exchange for letting me try out recipes in his Crockpot, I let him eat the food I make with it. Back when he asked me to make him a meal plan, I scheduled in “Meat that Katie prepares for you”, because I was in the habit of making some kind of meat for him in a Crockpot on Sundays for him to have for lunch on Monday and Tuesday (if it lasted till Tuesday!).

(If anyone is curious, T-Man followed the meal plan pretty well for a few weeks! He definitely ate out less. But as his congressional campaign has really ramped up, time to prepare meals has decreased. Fortunately, people bring food into the campaign office [homemade and otherwise] so he’s been getting fed one way or another! With my recent reasons to reflect upon my own eating habits, it may be something we revisit together after November 6th)

This is the recipe I usually prepare in the Crockpot for lunches during the week: Shredded Mexican Chicken! It’s easy, super flavorful, and you can put it in a variety of things. Usually T-Man puts his in a burrito, I like to pile mine on a toasted tortilla and make a tostada!

I’ve been waiting to share this recipe for a long time, but as you can tell, it’s not extremely photogenic. I compiled pictures from a couple of different times I made itĀ  – trust me when I say it is DELICIOUS! This recipe really came in handy this summer when we had 10 million cans of Coors Light in our fridge after our 4th of July party that we didn’t really want to drink.

It’s as easy as this:

Ingredientses

Cover el pollo with the seasoning and veggies (they give it lots of flavor themselves!)

Then pour the beer over…

Cook on high for 3 hours…

Shred it all up with a fork, and enjoy!

Shredded Mexican Chicken
makes 3-4 servings

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed works best)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 medium onion
1/2 bell pepper (I like to use a combo of red and green. If you only use one kind, use green)
1 tomato
~1 can of beer

Prepare vegetables by roughly chopping into chunks. (They will shrink while they cook.) Trim fat from breasts, if desired.

Place in Crockpot and season meat with desired amounts of cumin, chile powder, garlic powder, and cayenne. Use whatever Mexican spices you have on hand! Next, pile on the veggies. Add beer until the chicken is covered by at least 1/2 inch of liquid.

Cook on high for about 3 hours. Check on the meat once or twice while cooking to ensure it isn’t drying out. After 3 hours, use two forks to shred the chicken, and cook for 30-60 minutes longer with all the juices. After that, it’s ready! Drain extra juices if desired.

Notes: If you don’t have beer or would prefer not to use it (the taste doesn’t come out too much with all the other seasonings), I’m sure chicken stock or water would also work fine.

.

P.S. I’ve been fidgeting with my blog’s color scheme lately…there will probably be more tweaks to come! Let me know what you think!

Cinco de Mayo Feast

This weekend, I set out to create a Cinco de Mayo feast.

It all started last Thursday when I was running errands for work. It was cold, windy, and a little rainy. Of course, having packed my clothes a day earlier, I just happened to be wearing a dress and had no jacket. My coworker lent me his, and I walked 5 long blocks to the Secretary of State’s office. It’s on the side of the State Capitol where I used to intern, and I spotted a couple of my old lunch spots: the convenience store, the bakery-cafe, and…*sniff* what’s that over there?

It was the old greasy Mexican joint. The place that sells ginormous lunch plates packed with rice, beans, and meat for $6. Here I was, at 10:30am, smelling carnitas and refried beans…and I wanted it. Continue reading