Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crossing Over

Well, folks. I did it. After five years of dragging my heels, I have purchased an Apple Computer. I am now the proud owner of a Mac Book Air.  I have been a staunch PC user. I don't necessarily do well with change.  My loving and adorable husband has slowly been chipping away at my defenses.

My PC laptop was closing in on five years old. The battery life was down to 30-40 minutes (doesn't make it so "mobile," eh?). The performance was just getting slower. The old girl just couldn't quite keep up with fancier, more intricate websites and applications.

So, we went to the Apple Store. Ahhh, the Apple Store. There are 20 employees wandering around the store, but none of them seem to want to help you.....even when you're more than eager to make a large purchase. I would rather go to a root canal appointment.  We ordered mine off the internet and tracked it (via FedEx) from China to our doorstep! All in less than a week. Impressive.

We spent the weekend trying to move over all my files. The regular documents weren't so hard, but getting everything from iTunes was pretty stress-inducing. I know, I know....I could have made an appointment at the Genius Bar at The Store. A Real Housewives marathon sounds more appealing.

The only things I miss so far are 1) The scalding heat on my lap as I "compute" and 2) The incessant whirring fan that resembles an aircraft carrier.

Week 79 Menu

Sunday: Grilled pork chops with sweet potato fries
Monday: Cheese and veggie quesadillas
Tuesday: Chicken Thighs with Balsamic & Garlic Sauce (from "For the Love of Cooking") with portobello mushrooms....didn't get to this one last week
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Homemade pizza with lots of veggies
Saturday: Out

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 78 Menu

Sunday: Family's choice from a Burger Recipe Round-up on homemade buns; winner: Western BBQ Burger! Served with sweeet potato fries
Monday: Stuffed Shells from freezer
Tuesday: Chicken Thighs with Balsamic & Garlic Sauce (from "For the Love of Cooking") with portobello mushrooms
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork in the slow cooker (PW)
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out

Monday, July 18, 2011

Say What??

This weekend, Shelby dismounted from the couch in an unconventional method and landed on rear. Like any good two-year old, she wanted the boo-boo fixed. She approached Scott (who was unaware of the aforementioned couch gymnastics) and demanded loudly,

"Daddy, kiss my bottom."


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week 77 Menu

Sunday: Out to dinner with an out-of-town friend
Monday: Mac & Cheese Muffins (idea from Vanessa!)
Tuesday: Yorkshire Pudding (TWFD) with cranberry sauce
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Spicy Pork Tenderloin on the grill with veggies
Friday: Leftover pork with Schezuan sauce with rice and veggies
Saturday: Out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why, Thank You

Saturday morning we were on our way out the house. Scott was driving. I was rescheduling a haircut on my phone. After I hung up, I realized I forgot my purse. 

Touching moment: Shelby was very concerned and said,"Oh no, Mommy. You use mine?"

Sad moment: My 2-year old had not one, but two purses in the car for our outing.

Ironic moment: The purse she offered me was one of my old ones I had given her to play with.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken. Who doesn't  love this classic. Oh my gosh. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Growing up in Rockford, there was a Chinese take-out place called Happy Wok. "Happy Wok" makes you shake your head a little, but it doesn't hold a candle to Ying's Chinee Takee Outee in Jacksonville. That, my friends, is appalling....but I digress.

G.T.C (General Tso's Chicken) and some fried rice were my absolute favorites. Just fantastic. Surely, there is nothing authentic about the dish, but it's a universally-recognized dish. And, it satisfies a specific craving.

A couple weeks ago I made a slow cooker version of General Tso's Chicken from the blog: A Year of Slow Cooking. It was okay, but was more of an Asian-tasting chicken dish than G.T.C. It certainly didn't satisfy the taste I was looking for. Well, leave it to the Bitten Word boys (what is there not to love from that picture?!). They pitted their favorite Chinese take-out G.T.C against this recipe from Food and Wine. When all was said and done, their recipe beat out the take-out competitor. Home-cooked Chinese beat out restaurant food??? I wanted needed to cook this dish in my kitchen!!!

For such a complex flavor, the preparation was fairly simple. I had all the ingredients on hand. Bonnie's notes:
- Ensure the ingredients are organized as to whether they went in the chicken marinade or the sauce. Some of the same ingredients are used in both.
- The sauce came together faster than I thought it would. That was a welcome surprise!
- Pork is a perfect substitute for the chicken thighs (in the skillet, they cook up the same)
- Be prepared for oil splatter while cooking the meat! It was pretty explosive at times!!
- I would not make this dish for a dinner party because you have to cook the meat in batches as to not crowd the pan.

The result was AWESOME!!!! The taste was very close between this recipe and its restaurant cousin. And, of course, since I cooked it at home, it just felt healthier. I will make this again and again (and again and.....)!

Gen tsos8
Photo courtesy of The Bitten Word

General Tso's Chicken
from The Bitten Word

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 large egg white
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the toasted sesame oil with the egg white, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Add the chicken, stirring to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the chile-garlic sauce, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.

In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the broth mixture, add it to the pan and cook until thickened and glossy, about 3 minutes. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil until shimmering. Carefully add the chicken, one piece at a time, and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until very browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Beware of oil splatter!!

Drain the chicken on paper towels and immediately add to the sauce along with the scallions. Cook just until coated, about 30 seconds. Serve right away.

Week 76 Menu

Sunday: General Tso's Pork with rice (Bitten Word)
Monday: Veggie Stir Fry with any leftover rice
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Ribs
Wednesday: Quick bite before church
Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie filling (from freezer) over noodles
Friday: Pork Tenderloin on the grill with veggies
Saturday: Out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Big Girl!!

If you've spent even 5 minutes with my daughter, you know she suffers from an excess of personality and has a stubborn streak (the internet is screaming "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!").

We've been trying to potty train Shelby for almost a year. We have the little potty, we bought Pull-ups, and we've been talking up how cool using the potty is. But, every time we bought it up, Shelby pitched a fit. The back arched, the legs went limp and the screaming ensued. We decided, along with her teachers, to lay off the "potty talk" and just let her do it on her own time.

Well, a month ago Shelby decided she was gonna sit on the potty, she was gonna to wear underpants, and she wasn't looking back. Amen!

She's basically went from 0 to "mastering #1" in a week! She's been wearing her Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse underpants during the day exclusively. Even at nap, she's going diaper-free. She told me if she pee-pees in her pants, "Kitty will be sad." So, she wants to be sure to use the potty. Don't judge. Whatever works!

Now, she wants to try out every potty in town. She almost fell over with glee when she first saw an automatic flushing toilet!

"#2 training" hasn't been quite as smooth. I feel it's going to be another battle of wills to get this one  mastered! Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week 75 Menu

Well, I took last week off from menu planning because I was in NJ for work. Now I'm looking forward to getting back into the cooking groove!

Sunday: General Tso's Chicken (Bitten Word)
Monday: Cookout at a friend's
Tuesday: Veggie Frittata (GoodLife Eats)
Wednesday: Quick bite before church
Thursday: Pollo Asado (Pioneer Woman)
Friday: Ukrainian Chicken Liver Tart (Olive Bloom)....trying a new recipe!
Saturday: Out!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Becoming One of the Natives

I was in New Jersey for work last week. There were two of us from the Jacksonville warehouse plus others from the other warehouses around the country. Having only been with VW for three months, I was the "new person." I was making such a good impression on my counterparts. But, when I ordered my salad, I ordered a:

"PE-cann Crusted Chicken Salad"......not a "Pe-CAHN Crusted Chicken Salad" like a normal person would order. Pe-CAHN?! Seriously?! Who am I?

Everyone at the table whipped their heads my way, laughed and called me the Southern Belle. I was horrified. What have I become?