Friday, March 30, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas

The ingredient for this round of Feeding Friendship was:
We're on a budget for Lent (more on that in another post!), but Mike just happened to purchase some beer as a "splurge." He kindly donated one and a half beers to complete my recipe! He's a fan of Fat Tire and we both agreed it would be good in some Baked Flautas!

The recipe comes from Healthy. Delicious. and has been on my "Things to Cook!" Pinterest board for a couple weeks. I was excited to see that it included beer so I could try it for Feeding Friendship!

Mike took some leftovers to work for lunch and actually e-mailed me to tell me how good they were! Even a couple days later!

Here's how to make 'em:


1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs (about 4)
16 ounces Beer
2 cups Water
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
3 cups Baby Spinach, chopped
10 taco-size Flour Tortillas
6 ounces Queso Quesadilla or other melting cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Olive Oil, or cooking spray
Salsa, for serving

1) Preheat the oven to 450F.

2) Put the chicken thighs in a deep sided saute pan and cover with the beer and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Remove the chicken from the liquid and shred it. Mix together the chicken and seasonings.

4) Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the jalapeno and spinach and cook over low heat until for 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

5) Spoon 1/10th of the chicken (about 1 tablespoon) along the long edge of a tortilla. Repeat with the spinach and cheese. Roll the tortilla up, starting with the edge with the filling. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

6) Brush the flautas with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake for until 10 minutes, or until crispy. Serve with salsa.

Each flauta has approx. 180 calories, 9 grams fat, 6 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 18 grams protein

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

Astronomically speaking, Spring started this week (it started March 1st, climatologically). The weather has been beautiful all week. Last week, Mike took some time off while his boss was on Spring Break and he did A LOT of work in the backyard. He also returned a lot of home improvement supplies to Lowes and Home Depot for some store credit. We used that to purchase some flowers and vegetable plants.
The chickens enjoying they yard getting cleaned up
We have a very pretty flowering tree. Sadly the flowers don't last long
We have a few rose bushes in the backyard. I do my best not to kill them. They must be pretty hardy.
Our citrus trees are blossoming. I now know why "Orange Blossom" is a popular fragrance for beauty products! Hopefully this means we'll see fruit this fall!
Hoping to get some big bell peppers! :)
I planted some impatiens along the walk to the front door.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Irish Food - Sheppard's Pie

It's almost St. Patty's Day, so this round of Feeding Friendship features Irish dishes! :)

I chose to make Shepherd's Pie. I had some in New York when we were there last year at an Irish Pub. It was delicious! Mine turned out a bit different, but still very tasty!

Sidenote: I accidentally had 2 recipes for Shepherd's Pie open on my computer and there was a bit of confusion both when making my shopping list and when getting started. There was a near-meltdown and we ended up with an extra can of fire-roasted tomatoes, but worse things have happened.

Here's how to make it:


 2  large potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (I didn't peel mine, but you could)
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
1  tablespoon reduced-calorie margarine
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2  teaspoons olive oil
1  cup onion (chopped)
2  medium carrots (diced)
2  medium celery ribs, diced
1  lb uncooked ground turkey breast (or morningstar farms recipe crumbles)
3  tablespoons all-purpose flour
1  tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped or 1  teaspoon dried rosemary
1  teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2  cups canned chicken broth or 2  cups beef broth (or vegetable for vegan)
Please ignore the Balsamic Vinegar. That was leftover from the aforementioned confusion...
1.     Preheat oven to 400ºF.  
2.    Place potatoes in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender.

3.    Drain potatoes, transfer to a large bowl and add sour cream and margarine; mash until smooth, season to taste with salt and set aside.
The paddle attachment on the stand mixer makes mashed potatoes EASY!
4.    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
5.     Add onion, carrots and celery; cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
6.    Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes.

7.    Add flour, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to coat.
8.    Add broth and bring to a simmer; simmer until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

9.    Transfer turkey mixture to a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Spread mashed potatoes over top and using the back of a spoon, make decorative swirls over the top.
10. Bake until potatoes are golden, about 30 minutes.
If I had to do it again, I'd add more potatoes and bake it for 10-15 min longer!
11. Slice into 6 pieces and serve.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

ABC's of Travel

I got this from my newest San Antonio friend, Lora, over at It looked like a fun way to look back at my travels over the years.
A – Age you went on your first international trip:
We won't count that time my family took me to Tijuana when were visiting SoCal when I was like 4. So it must be when I was 14 the summer after my freshman year of high school. I went on a trip to Europe with a group of "music ambassadors." I sang in the choir and played in the bad. :)
B – Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I love Carlton beer from Australia. Still haven't had luck finding it stateside. Flying Saucer didn't have it.
C – Cuisine (favorite):
I liked the paella in Spain, but I gotta say, the snags (sausages) in Australia were pretty great. Probably due to the fact that they were usually enjoyed with beer. On campus. Between classes. 
D – Destinations – favorite, least favorite, and why:
I loved Tokyo and Barcelona. Paris wasn't that great (please don't judge).
Na Pali coast, Kauai
E – Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
The spinner dolphins on our Na Pali coast tour in Kauai were pretty awesome...
F – Favorite mode of transportation:
I actually like flying. Probably because I only do it every few months.
G – Greatest feeling while traveling:
I love the feeling of anonymity. Especially when traveling alone.
H – Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
It's probably cheating if I say Norman, Oklahoma in July 2011, but I wasn't living there at the time. And it was frickin' hot.
I – Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
The resort we stayed at for our honeymoon was really great. They serviced our room like 3 times a day and we got free bottles of Fiji water. Oh and it was gorgeous!
J – Journey that took the longest:
One time me and some friends drove from Norman, OK to Las Vegas....we were nutty.
K – Keepsakes from your travels:
I carry a $10 Australia note in my wallet at all times. It's made the transition to many wallets over the years. I guess I've had it since '04. Most of the time I ignore it, but sometimes I see it and smile. It's fun to pull out at parties.
L – Let-down sight, why and where:
Again, please don't judge. The White House. I literally had to pull out a one dollar bill because I didn't think we were at the right place. It was just way to small. This was last October. 
M – Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I've been doing a lot of traveling since I was very small. My first plane ride was when I was 2 months old. Since we were usually visiting family, it was always fun to travel. So, I guess I've always loved it. To this day I get stir crazy if I haven't left town in a few weeks. Of course, I get frazzled if I'm traveling too frequently!
N – Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Our resort in Kauai for our honeymoon.
O – Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling and why:
Probably nature and animals. 
P – Passport stamps – how many and where from:
On my latest (read: expired) passport, I have Tokyo (2), Australia (2), New Zealand (2) and Mexico? (1). I had to get a new one after my 2 trips to Europe.
Q – Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
The deepest hand-dug well in Greensburg, KS. Sadly, in 2007 a tornado ripped through Greensburg and the well is no more. 
R – Recommended sight, event, or experience:
The Na Pali coast was awesome. I only wish we had kayaked it. I worked so hard on my upper body for that trip!
S – Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Experiences. If it's something I can't do anywhere else or at home, I'll go for it and take a lot of pictures!
T – Touristy thing you’ve done:
Oh I do lots of touristy things. One time I went on a ducky tour in Pittsburgh. It was surprisingly entertaining and quite frankly, Pittsburgh has some fun stuff to do. There wasn't much sitting around on that visit!
U – Unforgettable travel memory:
There's quite a few, but one of my favorites is shooing kangaroos away from our food while camping in Australia. They're like deer or anything else trying to sneak some snags!
V – Visas – how many and for where:
One – from studying abroad in Australia.
W – Wine – best glass of wine while traveling and where:
I don't know at all. I'm not much of a wino, though I enjoy wine...
Yeah, that's part of the trail. Riding through the water...
X – eXcellent view and from where:
Mountain biking on the Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe. I'm sure that experience took years off my life, but it was totally worth it!
Y – Years spent traveling:
I guess about 28.
Melbourne vs. Geelong

Z – Zealous sports fans and where:
Aussie Rules Football game in Melbourne!! I loved those games and I don't know that I every understood the rules.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Feeding Friendship: Chocolate Beet Cake!

Beet it! Beet it! No one wants to be defeated!
Show 'em how funky strong is your fight!
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right.

Folks, I chose BEETS as the ingredient this round! When I was little I LOVED me some beets. My mom would get the sliced ones in a can and I would eat 'em up! The color, the taste! Delish!

Recently, however, I've seen beets in the store and at the Farmer's Market and I'm scared of them. My mom simply dumped them out of a can. What was I supposed to do with this greyish, brownish, purplish bulb with 2-foot long greens?!

Beet it?

Ellie told me "just roast them."

"Yes, but how?!"

"Just like anything else, silly!"

"I'm scared."

No, it really is that easy. Oil + beets + oven at 400 degrees + 1 hour = roasted beets. Then just slide the peel back. Done!

Last year I bought beets and let them wither and die in the veggie drawer of the fridge. This year, I vowed not to let that happen. After a practice round a couple weeks ago to make beet salad, I decided to make beets a feeding friendship ingredient. You know, to get some more beet inspiration.

I found a recipe for Chocolate Beet Cake!! I adapted it from this recipe. Here's how I made it:

The beets are in the glass bowl on the left. Oh and the eggs were actually from our chickens, we just keep 'em in an HEB box....
2 medium beets, trimmed of greens
1 tsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

8 oz. cream cheese
2 sticks of butter (you may want to try less, I felt like the cream cheese flavor was lost with all the butter (along with a couple years of my life)
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons finely grated beets

1) Drizzle beets with oil and wrap with foil. Roast in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely, peel and grate finely. You'll need about 3/4 cup for the cake and 2 Tablespoons for the frosting.

2) In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy (3-5 min). Beat in eggs, one at a time, for 1 min after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Go mixer, go!
3) Once eggs are incorporated, add beets and vanilla. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
Look at that color!
4) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5) Add half the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Beating on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk. Once incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until just incorporated.

6) Divide the batter between the cake pans (or just bake in batches if you only have one cake pan like someone....). Bake for 23-25 min for 9-inch pan or 30-32 min for 8-inch pan. Toothpick should come out clean, you know the drill.

7) Allow cakes to cool completely.

8) To make the frosting, beat cream cheese until pliable and smooth in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat until well combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl as necessary.

9) Beat in the beets. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get the consistency you want.

10) To assemble the cake (this isn't rocket science). Place one cake on a cake plate (or large platter) and ice the top of it. Gently place the other cake so that is aligned with the bottom cake. Cover the whole thing with frosting.
Cake burger?
That is one pink cake!!