Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dinner & Dessert!

This past Monday, I had planned to make a recent family favorite, White Chili. I was also inspired to make a recipe I came across on the internet, courtesy of The Picky Palate!

The recipe for White Chili came from my handy Taste of Home Cookbook. Here's the recipe:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used 3 chicken tenderloins, since that's what I had on hand)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (this is for cooking the chicken, I just eyeballed some olive oil)
2 cans (15 1/2 oz each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained (I'll be honest, I don't rinse and drain.)
1 can (14 1/2 oz) chicken broth (I used chicken bullion cubes and water)
2 cans (4 oz each) chopped green chilies (I just use one)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I used skim milk because it makes my life easier. You can't really tell if you haven't had it the original way)

1. In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in sour cream and cream (milk). Serve immediately

See? So easy, even I can't screw it up!

Can you tell I'm a big fan of cooking "whatever" style? As in, "whatever" I have on hand, "whatever" is easiest, etc. :)

The way the onions smell totally makes up for how gross the raw chicken looks

After putting in the broth, beans, etc.

The chicken is no longer pink! (That's a good thing.)

In goes the sour cream!

Mmm a great fall meal!

And now, on to the grand finale: dessert! The recipe can be found here and I'll be typing it below as well. I hope Jenny will forgive my last-minute tweaks!

Roasted Apples & Cream Caramel Topped Brownies

1 box Pillsbury brownie mix, family size, 9x13 (I used a box of Ghiradelli plus a little extra Kroger to approximate a family size)
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter
4 small-medium baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 2 Braeburn and 1 Granny Smith)
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I threw in some nutmeg too, because they always go together in my mind)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or other nut of choice *insert joke here* (I used pecans, courtesy of my "nuts" from the South :)
Prepared caramel sauce, warmed in the microwave (This was the only thing I had to leave my house to get, which instantly boosted this recipe's rating in my book. Easy peasy!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare brownie mix according to directions. Pour into an 11x7 pan. (Sprayed, buttered, lined with foil, whatever floats your boat). Mix softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Place dollops of mixture on top of the brownie mix. Use a butter knife to swirl without dragging on the bottom of the pan.
2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, spices and nuts. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over brownies. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until center of brownies are just cooked through. Remove and cool, then drizzle with caramel sauce.

A motley crew indeed!

Before mixing

After mixing!

Mmm cream cheese and sugar! Also, can I say how much I adore the KitchenAid? It is a wondrous miracle, to be sure!

Preparing to swirl!

I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to look like, but this seemed good enough.

I love butter, I really do.

This was one of the most heavenly smells the kitchen had experienced in a long time!

Getting ready to go into the oven

Fresh out of the oven!

Detail shots... Yum. I'm drooling just looking at them!

They didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the ones at Picky Palate, but overall, it was really fun to make! They seemed very gourmet, and the boys around the house seemed to enjoy them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RIP Irving Penn

Irving Penn, a legendary and influential photographer, passed away on October 7th, 2009. His pictures are gorgeous, and I thought I would share some of them with you today.

The man himself:

Simply beautiful:

Nicole Kidman, gorgeous as always:

Friday, October 23, 2009


Friday should be a day of celebration, but alas, it only means I have to work the next day. Today is what Winnie the Pooh refers to as a "blustery day" and I called in blah to work. Now I'm contemplating making dinner, but I'm not sure I can muster up the energy. So instead, I'm looking for fabulous pictures on the internet to cheer me up, such as this:

A pile of books always cheers me up :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I miss summer

I want to be there, look like that and have that adorable bathing suit!

Anyone want to pay? :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Le petit dejeuner

Le petit dejeuner is the French phrase for "breakfast." I just found the most wonderful picture on Flickr that captures the quintessential "petit dejuner" that I was so privileged to experience when I was in France!

That picture can be viewed here

Try not to lick the screen!

Friday, October 16, 2009

StumbleUpon = <3

I have a great add-on for Firefox called StumbleUpon. You create a profile, select boxes regarding your interests and click away! It recommends sites suggested by other users. I have found some amazing things through this, including these fabulous paintings!

^Yes, that's a painting!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I love shoes!

I can't get enough of fabulous shoes!

Someday, when I am rich and possibly famous, I will be able to purchase gems such as these:

I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot. --Marilyn Monroe

Colin Hanks!

I just watched The House Bunny and I am now in love with Colin Hanks!

Love the glasses!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings

My first foray into cooking for a blog! I cook every Tuesday for my family and enjoy trying out new recipes. Right now, I am working my way through the wonderful Taste of Home cookbook! Here's the recipe:

Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings

1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds beef stew meat (I used about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (this is for cooking the onions. Use olive oil if you prefer- I did!)
2 cans (10 1/2 ounces each condensed beef broth, undiluted
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
6 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch chunks (I used baby carrots and halved them. Carrots are carrots, and this was an easy shortcut.)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley (I used dried. It's October. Sue me.)
1 tablespoon minced onion (I used onion powder)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups finely shredded raw potato
Additional all-purpose flour

1. In a plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add meat, toss to coat. In a Dutch oven, cook meat along with onions in oil until the meat is browned on all sides and onions are tender.
2. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, carrots and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is almost tender. Discard bay leaves.
3. In a large bowl, beat egg; add the crumbs, flour, parsley, onion and seasonings. Stir in potatoes; mix well. With floured hands, shape into 1 1/2 inch balls. Dust with flour.
4. Bring stew to a boil, drop dumplings into stew. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes (do not lift cover while simmering). Serve immediately.

The array of ingredients! (The carrots were taking a bath in the sink to defrost)

Prep included 2 1/2 cups of finely shredded raw potatoes. I could have used the food processor, but that doesn't make for a very fun picture, does it? Be forewarned: your arm will be sore later on if you choose this method!

All done! I drained the "juice" from the potatoes so the dumplings wouldn't fall apart.

I followed the first two steps, and my mother stopped by to observe briefly:

and took a picture of me in action:

I love chopping onions for some reason. I think because, when done well, it's so methodical. It satisfies my OCD.

This is what the pot looked like after the first 2 steps:


Next, to the dumplings! I was curious and nervous, as I've never made dumplings before, or even really eaten them.

I'm a big fan of the way Rachael Ray measures: by the handful!

The finished product:

The cat was licking his chops in anticipation!

My beautiful dumplings awaiting their bath:

In they go!

Note: do not, as I did, forget to lower the heat for the last half hour after bringing it to a boil. The pot is still soaking to remove the remains...

The finished product, along with Sour Cream Drop Biscuits

The recipe did not make very much at all, although part of that may have been my fault for boiling the stew down by accident. I'm not sure if this is a keeper, but I may try it again without the dumplings.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And so it begins.

I would love to be there right now, browsing the fabulous books with a cafe au lait in hand and the smells and sounds of Paris around me!