Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Dinner! Roasted Chicken and Pumpkin Rolls

Delicious Halloween Dinner!

Roasted Chicken with Lemongrass and Kaffir Lime Leaves from Food2 and Pumpkin Rolls from Me!

Ingredients

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole roasting chicken
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lemon, quartered, plus 1 for juice
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised, plus 1 tablespoon, minced
5 cloves garlic, plus 1 tablespoon, minced
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped, plus 1 tablespoon minced
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
3 Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

Directions

Set an oven rack on the lower middle level and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken thoroughly, inside and out, under cold water, then dry it with paper towels. (Casey actually had to pat the inside of the chicken dry because I'm too squeamish about putting my hand up a chicken's butt. Yuck!)

Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with 4 lemon quarters, 4 onion quarters, lemongrass stalks, garlic cloves, kaffir lime leaves, and half each of the chopped ginger, rosemary and thyme sprigs.

In a mortar and pestle combine minced lemongrass, chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, minced ginger and minced garlic.


Add 1/4 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt and mash together with pestle. Rub the mixture under the skin on top of the breast and all over the outside of the bird. Tie the legs together with a piece of butcher's twine.

Place the quartered potatoes, remaining onion, and chopped ginger in a baking dish or roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper and place the chicken on top of the vegetables to form a makeshift rake. Slice remaining lemon in half and squeeze juice over chicken. Place the rinds in the pan with the vegetables. Drizzle the chicken with a bit more olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the thickest portion of the breast registers 165 degrees F.


Tip the chicken so that the juice from the cavity runs into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted onions and potatoes.

Delicious! Not only was this chicken flavorful, but the white meat was just as juicy as the dark meat and the potatoes and onions were a natural, flavorful compliment!

We give this recipe: 4.5 stars

Pumpkin Rolls

First of all, a little baking tip! When baking, always use room temperature ingredients because it will make your products lighter and fluffier! Now, I'm doubling this recipe, so if you make it and your quantities don't look as big as mine, that's why. :)

2/3 c. packed pumpkin

3 eggs (room temperature!)

1 c. sugar

¾ c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

Cream cheese filling:

8 oz. cream cheese

1 c. powdered sugar

2 T. melted butter or margarine

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.

Put pumpkin, eggs and sugar into a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.



Beat pumpkin, egg and sugar mixture for 5 minutes until light and frothy.

Doesn't it look nice and frothy?

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt mixture and mix in with a spatula. When you are making quick breads, you don't want to over mix your batter because it can make your end product tough.


Line jelly roll pan with wax paper. Now, I used a Pampered Chef Stoneware pan. I love it, love it love it! It is a pain to use wax paper and you lose more roll than you keep. I greased my stoneware with copious amounts of canola oil and the end product slides out like butter! SO MUCH BETTER!

Pour pumpkin batter in pan and shake to even out.


Pop it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes if you are using a jelly roll pan. Using the stone ware it took me about 20 minutes. While that's cookin', combine all the cream cheese filling ingredients into a medium sized bowl.


Combine until smooth and creamy.


Remove pumpkin roll from the oven when the bread is golden brown and feels firm and springy to the touch.


If you are using a jelly pan with wax paper, flip pumpkin sheet onto a dish towel and gently peel off wax paper. If you are using Stoneware, loosen pumpkin sheet with a spatula on edges and as much of the underside as you can get without breaking it. I used Pampered Chef's fabulous mini spatula which you can see my handsome husband modeling here:


It worked like a charm and got the whole thing up so that when I flipped my pan over, the pumpkin sheet came right out.

Next, starting on the short side, fold towel over the edge of the pumpkin sheet and roll into a log like so:


Let rest 15 minutes. Unroll and spread cream cheese filling onto pumpkin roll.


Starting at the short end, roll into a log.


Cut in half or thirds.


Once I cut it in half I started to wrap it in tin foil like I usually do when I thought, "The pumpkin roll always sticks to the foil and rips it when I open it. Maybe if I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on the top it would give it a decorative flair and it might also help it not stick so badly!"


Then the thought naturally struck me, "Well, if the powdered sugar will help it not stick to the tin foil, maybe it will help it stick to the towel less too! I should powder the towel before I roll up the pumpkin roll!"


So I did.



It was a disaster.

So, the conclusion of this experiment is, powder your pumpkin rolls before you wrap them with foil if you so desire, but FOR GOODNESS SAKE, leave it OFF of your dish towel of you will end up with, as Tim Gunn from Project Runway says, a hot mess.


There you have it! Wonderfully delicious goodies that make great holiday gifts!

We give this recipe: 4 stars

Enjoy! :)

Happy Halloween!

I LOVE Halloween! So many fun parties, treats, costumes, lights, haunted houses and trick-or-treaters! Casey and I had three significant events this Halloween season, Casey's Work Party, Ward Chili Cook-Off, and Jasmine's Party.

Casey's Work Party Friday October 29, 3-5 PM

This was the first time I got to go to Casey's office and see where he works! His office really isn't that big so it was a pretty short tour. It also wasn't much of a party- people mostly just stayed in their offices and people took their kids around trick-or-treating to everyone's offices. There was pizza and soda in the break room. I didn't get to really talk with very many people, mostly just a "Hi, I'm so-and-so" introduction.

The adults didn't even dress up! I had our costumes all packed up in the car because I went to a Pumpkin Walk at Utah Central Gardens in Provo and I was going to go straight to Casey's office afterwards. Casey called me in the morning and said, "Nobody's dressed up! Don't come in costume!" Ugh! But I brought Sander in costume anyway.

Sander went as a broker. It was the highlight of the party.

Ward Chili Cook-Off Saturday October 30, 4-6 PM

I did make a chili but it wasn't epic so I'm not going to waste my time blogging about it or your time reading about it. We all dressed up this time and had a pretty good time chatting with the Ward members.

Casey and I went as... Can anyone guess? (Those are big "P"'s on our chest btw)

Sander was a Sumo Wrestler!
I took him in his diaper, white socks, black eye liner at each of his eyes, and I sewed some black yarn on the inside of a head band and put it into a sumo bun!


Everyone loved Sander's costume and no one could guess what Casey and I were. They eventually got it after a couple of hints though. :-)

Jasmine's Party Saturday October 30 7 PM

A friend of mine invited us to a party at her house so we went there around 7:00. We were supposed to bring a dish to share so I made a monster cheese ball.


Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped pimento
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions

Combine the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add the pimento, green pepper, onion, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and salt; mix with hands (wash them first!), and shape into a ball. Spread the pecans onto a cutting board and cover with a dish towel. Pound with a rolling pin until pecans are crushed. Roll the cheese ball in the pecans until evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight before serving. (You don't have to refrigerate overnight. I only refrigerated the cheese ball for a couple of hours and then coated the ball in the pecans and it was still great! Everyone loved it!


I used green peppers for the eyebrows and toenails, green olives for the eyes and toes, sliced baby carrots for the mouth and nose and tortilla chips dyed with red food coloring for the ears. It was such an easy, fun dish to take to a Halloween party!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Great Feet of Strength

Ok, I know you guys are ALL thinking it, so let me say this first: yes, I am aware there is a typo in my title. It is a callback to "Robin Hood: Men In Tights," not an exemplar of my stupidity.

Now that that's out of the way, I'll move onto the purpose of this blog, which is mainly to show off my little buddy! He is getting so big and strong so fast I almost can't believe it.

Here I will show you two videos that showcase his feat of physical strength and mental leaps.

I highly recommend you set the video to the highest resolution you can to optimize Sander's adorableness and your viewing pleasure. :) If you are unsure how to do that, here are some instructions:

1. Look at the bottom of the video where it lists the length of the video.
2. Locate the resolution setting which will probably be set at the crappiest resolution it can offer, 240p.
3. Click on the 240p button and select the highest quality of video you can, 780p or 1080p.

Now that you have good resolution, here is the first video, showing Sander trying to put the binkie back into his mouth by himself:


Not only is this adorable, but this video shows what a smart guy he already is. He is developing his problem solving ability which most children don't really develop until after two years of age.

If a child runs a toy into an object and it gets stuck, they will probably just cry until their brain develops enough for them to think of reversing the process, i.e. moving the toy backwards, and freeing it.

Sander already sees the problem, "Hey! that binkie should be in my mouth and it is not!" and he tries to correct it, "If I can just grab it with my tongue, or get that dang arm to push it over closer to me, maybe I can get it in my mouth!" Of course, he succeeded by wasn't smart enough to start sucking on the binkie after he got his lips around it....maybe a half genius?

Next, for his physical feat of strength! Learning to control that head and work out those shoulders:


Yay for the little dood man! He is getting so big!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rosemary Chicken, Brown Butter and Balsamic Ravioli over a Bed of Spinach with a White Wine/ Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

Yum Yum.

I love to cook. Last night I made this great recipe I found on FoodNetwork.com. I changed the recipe a bit but it turned out really well. Lots of people that do cooking blogs are really good about taking pictures of their process all the way through.

I am not.

Maybe I'll get better as I think more about it and practice as I cook but I will post the original recipe first and then walk you through any changes I made.

The Original Recipe:

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, eyeball it, just enough to coat chicken lightly
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 stems rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin with a whack against the flat of your knife

Ravioli:

  • 1 package, 12 to 16 ounces, fresh ravioli, any flavor filling
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I grated a block of Parmesan and it tasted great)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls

Spinach Salad: (I skipped this part almost completely)

  • 6 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1 bunch, about 10 ounces flat-leaf spinach
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Coat chicken in balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for ravioli. Salt water and drop ravioli in water. Cook 8 minutes or until raviolis expand, float to top of water, and are al dente.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cracked garlic to the pan. Cook chicken 12 minutes, or until juices run clear, turning occasionally. The balsamic vinegar will produce a deep brown, sweet finish on the chicken as it cooks.

When the chicken is 2 or 3 minutes away from done, heat a second skillet over medium low to medium heat. To the second skillet, add butter to the pan and let it begin to brown.

Remove chicken from the first skillet and transfer to a warm platter. In a skillet over medium high heat and add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits, about 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer to paper towels todrain and return pan to heat, reducing heat to medium. Add oil and shallots to the pan and let the shallots saute 2 minutes.

When the butter for the ravioli has browned, add cooked ravioli to the pan and turn in butter to heat through. Add balsamic vinegar to the ravioli and cook a minute or 2 longer to reduce the vinegar and glaze the ravioli. The vinegar will become thick and syrup like. Addcheese, parsley, salt and pepper to the pasta and remove the pan from the heat.

To the sauteed shallots for the spinach salad, add sugar and cook sugar with shallots 1 minute. Add vinegar to the pan, scraping up pan drippings. Add spinach to the dressing and turn to wilt and coat it evenly in sweet vinaigrette. Add crisp pancetta to the salad.

Serve chicken along side ravioli and spinach salad, all on the same dinner plate.

My Version:

So, obviously I didn't follow this recipe exactly. I covered my chicken with a lid to help infuse it with the garlic and cook faster but it still took longer than 12 minutes- maybe because my breasts were very plump (no pun intended). The rest is all the same up until the part about the Spinach salad. I didn't have pancetta and Casey doesn't like onions so I pretty much scrapped the whole thing.

I heated a large white bowl in the microwave for a minute and then put down a bed of plain Spinach. On top of the Spinach I placed the balsamic and brown butter glazed raviolis.


Doesn't that brown glaze on the ravioli look delicious!? I also sprinkled the parsley

on top of it, but not as much as the recipe says. I just eyeballed it because I think

the recipe called for WAY too much.


Next, I was impatient for the chicken to be done, so I sliced up the breasts after they started to get a nice glaze on them from cooking in the balsamic vinegar. After that the chicken was done in a couple of minutes.



After the chicken was done I plopped it right on top of the ravioli's. There was still some remaining brown bits and vinegar in the pan so I decided to make a little sauce on the fly. I added a little white wine to my hot pan and a little more balsamic vinegar for flavor and color. Using those ingredients I deglazed the pan and then let it reduce for a couple of minutes until it started to look a little thick and syrupy (Is that a word?? If it's not, I'm coining it!). Once the sauce reached the syrupy consistency I poured it over the whole dish.



Delicious! I'm so glad I did the sauce! It was a lot less work than the salad in this recipe and the sauce dripped down onto the spinach making a nice dressing to soften the spinach while adding a little extra juicy-ness to the chicken. The whole cloves of garlic were really good too.

A little tip about garlic: The bigger the garlic, the milder the flavor. As large cloves of cracked garlic cook for a long time, they get very mellow, sweet and soft. I ate them right alongside the chicken and they were delicious.

Casey's rating: 5 stars
My rating: 5 stars

This is a pretty simple dish that I would definitely do again. All in all, it took me about 35 minutes to make the dinner from start to finish, but it looks and tastes much more impressive.

Class Schedule Madness: Part 2

Preparation

When I decided to take Fall semester off I made sure to put all my ducks in a row so that I would have no problems when I returned in Winter. I remembered when I got back from Texas and wanted to enroll from Spring/Summer, the Registration office told me that if I was gone for more than one semester I would have to reapply.

So I went to my scholarship page and deferred my Fall Scholarship. I made an appointment with my bishop and submitted an Ecclesiastical Endorsement for the Fall/Winter year. I submitted a Graduation Application for April 2011, and I received a Registration Priority Date for October 26, 2010-- today.

When I woke up this morning, I got out my laptop and signed into my Route Y account and began looking up the classes I needed to register for. When I click the Add button a little window pops up that SHOULD read, "REL C 325 has been added to your class schedule." Instead I get a evil window that says, "You are invalid to register for classes."

WHAT THE FRACK?

The Disaster

I call the admission office to find out what is going on. The student there tells me that I had to submit a deferment form if I planned on missing a semester, which I didn't do, so the system automatically kicked me out. The deadline to submit a deferment form was... October 1, 2010. NO WHERE in my search to get all my ducks in a row did I ever see any mention of this form. NO WHERE did it tell me, "If you are going to miss a Fall or Winter semester, you need to take the following steps: a . . . b . . . c . . ."

So the chick directs me to the website where I can print off the form to MAIL into BYU at which point she informs me that it can take up to three days to process, but because I missed the deadline, there is no guarantee that it will be accepted.

Remember that perfect schedule I had worked out so that I could take 14.0 credit hours and only be on campus for four hours, three days a week? Potentially down the toilet if I have to wait four days to register for my classes. IF they accept my form to let me register at all. No classes, no graduation in April 2011.

On top of it all, my fabulous baby who has been sleeping 4-6 hour stretches through the night woke me up every 2 hours last night.

The Breakdown

I had a breakdown.

The Solution

I called Casey and told him everything that was going on in between sobs. He was awesome and really supportive. He gave me just the advice I needed to get me going again. He said, "Tukataa (that's his Thai nickname for me, meaning 'little doll') you need to go down there and do what you do best. Talk to an administrator, not a student who can't do anything, and don't leave until they fix it for you. All they probably have to do is click a button and it will be fixed."

So I got up, quickly got ready, threw Sander in his car seat and headed down to campus to try to get the whole thing taken care of before the 11 AM Devotional when the entire campus goes on break. When I got there I skipped the student windows and went straight to the Registration Counselors Office. I talked to the receptionist and told her I needed to see someone and asked if anyone was available. She told me that I was not allowed to make a same day appointment so I would need to come back tomorrow. . .

uh, no.

I told her, "Dude, I live 45 minutes away. Isn't there anyone who can see me today? I can be here all day." So she said that she would go check with the counselor and see what she could do for me. And, lo and behold; God is good, God is great- my counselor's 10:00 appointment had cancelled on him and he could see me right away.

I went in and talked to him, a Mr. Selk, and told him my whole situation. He got online and entered some things into some form boxes, clicked a button and told me I could now register for classes. I was in there with him for no more than five minutes. A four day process was reduced down to five minutes. My buns were saved.

I went out of the building, got on my laptop and registered for all my classes except one which I need a permission code for. Luckily, I took a class from the professor about 5 years ago so I remembered him. I went to the Harris Fine Arts Center and asked for his e-mail and schedule to see if he might be around so I could talk to him before I left. Lo and behold; God is good, God is great- he had an office hour that hour and was in the building. I went down and waited outside his door for a little while as he had stepped out. Sander had been amazing through the whole process! He was so quiet and alert, just looking around at everything with only occasional outbursts. So I rewarded him by taking him out of his car seat and played with him while I waited. Dr. Hollingshaus came back not too much later and invited me into his office. We talked about the class, about life and my new baby. He was extremely congenial and inviting- taking the time to chat with me as a peer when he really didn't have to.

The class is going to be really hard and a lot of work. He said the 395 class should really be a 500 or 600 level class because of all the reading they do and because it is the same class they teach to their grad students. Yikes. He said they are, however, very generous in their grading; they grade more for effort than a right answer. So it will require a lot out of me, but the professor is cool and seems willing to help out students who want to learn.

Altogether, a potentially disastrous morning didn't turn out too badly. I have my ideal schedule, I have registered for all my classes (except the TMA 395 but Prof. Hollingshaus is going to e-mail me the code when he gets it) and my scholarship is still available for me. No doubt about it, being a student and a new mom is going to be difficult. But I think a degree is a worthy pursuit and I will rely on the Lord to help me get though it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Triumph at Last

I was finally able to catch a picture of Sander smiling!

It has been kind of a rough morning because he has been so gassy. Saturday, 23 October he was awake practically all day- from 1:00 PM - 11:30 PM. Then he slept for 6 1/2 hours and almost all day on Sunday 24 October except to occasionally wake up to eat. I was so worried that he was going to be awake all night last night but he actually didn't do too bad. He ate every 2-3 hours but I was able to get some sleep.

This morning he was so gassy and really having a hard time sleeping. He threw up on me twice and I was cleaning the house in between his small napping / screaming sessions. Then at 11:30 I realized that I was starving because I hadn't eaten anything yet nor had I brushed my teeth or showered. So I kissed him on the head and was planning on going to make myself something to eat when I realized that he was totally awake. He spit his binkie out and I went to put it back in so he could soothe himself back to sleep. The second I tapped his lip with the binkie to get him to open up so I could pop the bink back in, he broke out in the widest grin.

Commence the photo shoot! I grabbed my camera and took 224 high speed burst shots of him goo-ing and gaa-ing and making adorable faces. This is the only good picture I got of his big gummy grin.


SUCCESS, success! Grandma Montrose in VA is very pleased to have this picture of her grandson as is Sander's father who has yet to see this face on Sander (Sander mostly just pees and poops on him rather than smiling at him. Don't worry Dad! He'll get there with you too (; ).

I got lots of other adorable faces out of him so I'm going to make a whole album on Facebook called, "The Various Faces of Sander Jay." Check it out on my page later on today if you're interested!