Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cranberry Cashew Salad

A few years ago, my mom and dad went to some picnic thing for dad's work. Mom brought back a little bit of this salad, which is just fantastic. We got the recipe from the lady who made it, and make it for special occasions (like my birthday.) It's one of my favorite foods! This recipe makes enough for a family, but you can easily double it for a gigantic salad to feed a crowd.

Cranberry Cashew Salad

You will need:
1 bag romaine lettuce pieces
1 granny smith apple, unpeeled and chopped
1 red pear, unpeeled and chopped
1/2 bag shredded Swiss cheese (but Parmesan will work, if you can't find Swiss)
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 bag Craisins

For the dressing:
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
2 tsp minced onion (the dried stuff from the spice aisle is fine)
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Combine dressing ingredients and whisk together. Layer salad in a bowl, and pour the dressing on shortly before serving. Toss and serve.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Piggie paparazzi

"I am in luuuuurve with this carrot..."

"Wait, are you taking pictures of me?!"


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roasted Carrots

I am not a big fan of carrots. They're not particularly flavorful, they're either too crunchy or too mushy- you get the idea. But I was shocked when I ate these- they're actually REALLY good. They're just soft enough, and they are full of flavor. When you tell your guests what actually goes into the recipe, they will be shocked at the simplicity! Even picky eaters will like them. Again, this recipe is adapted from one by Ina Garten. I have adapted this recipe so that it is easier to fix with the Indonesian Ginger Chicken and the Basmati Rice.

Roasted Carrots (serves 3-4)

You will need:
1 bag baby carrots
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
about 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (I just gave it several squeezes from this pepper-grinding ball I have- eyeball it)
about 2 tbsp freshly minced parsley

Preheat oven to 375. Toss carrots in oil, salt, and pepper to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes*. If you don't turn them at least once, they may get a bit black on the underside, depending on your baking sheet, but you can't taste it. Carrots should be a bit shrunken with a few darker, "burned"-looking spots when they are done (again, you can't taste it). Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

*If you are fixing the carrots with the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, you can put them in the oven about halfway through the chicken's first baking session- that is, when the chicken has been in the oven for a total of 15 minutes. That way the chicken and carrots will be done at the same time. Ina Garten's recipe says to roast the carrots at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, but that's just not convenient if you are also fixing the chicken. Also, when I cooked the carrots for 20 minutes, they did not cook properly. Go the slower route- you won't regret it!

Ina Garten's original recipe used sliced carrots- hence, this picture. However, baby carrots cook evenly, and reduce your prep time to a matter of seconds!

Basmati Rice

I have cooked rice a few times, and it's hard to get it perfect- it's always too wet, too dry, not fluffy enough, etc. This rice recipe is very simple, and quite tasty- and it comes out perfectly. This dish is great served with Indonesian Ginger Chicken and Roasted Carrots. This is also adapted from a recipe from Ina Garten.

Basmati Rice (serves 3-4)

You will need:
1 cup long grain basmati rice
1 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil (you could even use a tablespoon and a half)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
About 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced scallions (optional)

Saute the butter and onions over medium heat until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and toss to completely coat the grains in the butter (or olive oil.) Add the water and salt, stir a few times, and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes. The water should be absorbed. After the time is up, remove the rice from the heat (still covered!) and let sit 10-20 minutes. Add parsley and scallions (if desired), fluff with a fork, and serve. The longer you let the rice sit (within reason), the fluffier it will be.

If you are fixing this dish with the Indonesian Ginger Chicken, begin fixing the rice after you remove the foil from the chicken and turn it.

This is what your rice would look like if you added all the scallions (I didn't) and about ten times the amount of parsley in the recipe. Trust me, it's prettier than this! And very tasty, too!

Indonesian Ginger Chicken

This recipe is adapted from one by Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes are always beautiful, tasty, impressive, and extremely easy to make. Like, ridiculously easy. Your guests will not believe how easy it is to make her gourmet-looking food- like this delicious chicken! This dish is great served with Roasted Carrots and Basmati Rice.

Indonesian Ginger Chicken (serves 3-4)

You will need:
3-4 servings chicken breast (approximately one per person, and you can cut them into smaller pieces)
3/4 cup soy sauce (store brand is fine)
Cloves of one bulb garlic, minced (you can use a little more or a little less)
1 medium-sized piece ginger root, peeled and grated
1 cup honey

Combine honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger in a small saucepan over low to medium-low heat, and cook until honey is melted (when you scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon, you will no longer find globs of honey.) Arrange chicken in a single layer in a baking pan (I used an 8x8 square glass pan) and pour sauce over chicken. Cover tightly and marinate overnight.
When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, take off the foil, turn the chicken (don't put the foil back on!), raise the heat of the oven to 375 degrees, and bake another thirty minutes. This should cook the chicken completely (it doesn't brown to darkly, despite the dark color of the sauce) but if you are unsure, just cut a bit of one piece open to check.

Even people who claim to not enjoy "Asian" food eat second and third helpings of this dish! And it makes your kitchen smell really good, too. ^_^

This is what the chicken would look like if you used
other parts than just chicken breast pieces.

Bible study

I hosted our Bible study group for dinner last night, and things went pretty well! It was exciting. Mom was unable to make it, though, because she wasn't feeling well, so I was a little scatterbrained and forgot to take pictures of the AMAZING food after I put it in the pretty serving dishes. I am going to post the recipes on here, because they were delicious and incredibly simple, but I will have to find photos elsewhere. Anyways, everyone got a self-guided tour of the apartment while I finished dinner, which consisted of Indonesian ginger chicken, basmati rice, roasted carrots, and coconut cupcakes for dessert. The time we spent watching the video for our study (a sermon series from church a few years ago) and going over the week's study (we are doing "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minter, which is better than the other two studies I have done with a group, but I am still having trouble getting into parts of it) was really great, too. I have lots of dishes to do, still, but I am happy that everyone came over and we had a good time!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


We have a new addition to our home! It is no secret that I have been missing my pets terribly, but now we have "adopted" Brandon's brother's pet guinea pig. Her name was Snicker, but it is now Piffle, because I say that a lot and it seems like a good name for a small, cuddly animal. She is not always so cuddly, though. She enjoys being out of her cage, but she freaks out (like, seriously) when you first pick her up. Since she came to live with us last night, she has had many new treats, including wood chew toys that look like bacon (I couldn't resist) and bananas and blueberries for breakfast. She scarfed the bananas down. It was pretty funny.
We are glad to have her living with us, and hopefully sometime in the not-so-distant future we will be able to get a bigger cage so she can live with a friend!

She likes to sit on top of her house, which is weird.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


We've never really been ones to go all out for Valentine's day. I don't know why. But even though it was our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, things have been pretty low key. We started out the day by being awoken at 2:30 a.m. by our inconsiderate, imbecile neighbors downstairs. I think they are starting a garage band, sans garage. The music lasted until at least 5 a.m. Of course, I was furious. Around 4:30 I even went and got my personal CD player and found a CD that usually puts me to sleep, and turned it almost all the way up. I could still hear the music from downstairs. During the fun and exciting time I spent awake in the middle of the night, I wrote another formal complaint letter to the superintendent and left a message on the answering machine (because it has time stamps) letting them know what was going on. This is the eighth or ninth time we have been bombarded by noise from below, but we officially complained for the first time on Thursday. We were told by the lady working in the office that day that after we dropped off our complaint letter, they would send a notice to our neighbors, and if that didn't accomplish anything, they would "take things further". Bring it on, I say. I've tried giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really are stupid enough to not see anything wrong with playing drums and the bass loudly in the middle of the night in an apartment. But we can't take it anymore. We have jobs and responsibilities and in order to perform them competently, we need some sleep. Also, this whole ordeal is seriously stressing me out.

Anyway, once it was time to get up for real, we opened presents (I got a book, Brandon got a DVD), went to church, which was pretty good. It had nothing to do with Valentine's Day. Then we came home and had leftovers for lunch and read or played video/computer games until time for Brandon's basketball game (they just lost.) After that I picked up dinner from Outback, using a gift card we got for Christmas. If we didn't have it, it would have been leftovers again.

So all in all, Valentine's Day has been like any other day. Except we got to have carry out. We will probably spend the evening doing laundry and dishes (ok, that is how I will spend the evening) and watch a movie from the library later on. Even though there wasn't much special about today, I was glad to spend it with my husband!

Friday, February 5, 2010

One month!

On Tuesday we celebrated one month (whoa) of marriage! Well, we didn't really "celebrate". We didn't do anything out of the ordinary. But we did get to spend some time together during the day, before I went to Bible study with my mom. I was initially pretty excited that one of our favorite shows, LOST, was going to premiere the first episode of its last season on Tuesday, but I didn't get home from Bible study in time. So on Wednesday, Brandon and I watched the first half on the computer before I went to work and after got home, and the second half that night after I got off work. Even though it was delayed, it was still fun.
One month is kind of a milestone! It's been interesting living in a different place, and going on our first trip together and everything, but it's still been good.