Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

Well this is very long overdue, but here's a recap of our Thanksgiving festivities:

Mom and Dad came in Tuesday night of that week, and we had sub sandwiches from Krauzer's (best subs EVER). On Wednesday, I took them on a tour of New Haven and Yale, mom and I went grocery shopping (plus she bought me some Christmas decor!), and we started cooking the turkey while preparing the casseroles. Then we all woke up at 3 am on Thanksgiving morning to take a 4 am train out of New Haven into Grand Central for the Macy's Parade! We ended up getting a great spot in Times Square, and even though it was very chilly and a lot of waiting, we had a lot of fun. :) Not sure if I would do it again, but now I can say I've done it once! After the parade, we toured NYC for a couple hours with the folks, then came back and had our feast.

Here was our Thanksgiving menu:
  • Turkey
  • Mashed Potatoes (a la Mr. G)
  • Stuffing
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Deviled eggs
  • Biscuits (a la Pillsbury)
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Apple Crisp
Since I obviously can't put all of these recipes up here (let's be honest; you would never read them all), I'll just put up my favorites, starting with my mom's amazing sweet potato casserole recipe. 

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole:
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 cups sweet potatoes (or yams), cooked and mashed
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 6 tablespoons melted butter
    • Topping: 
      • 3/4 cup crushed corn flakes
      • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar
      • 6 tablespoons melted butter
      • marshmallows (optional, but I recommend them!)
  • Directions:
    • Bake and mash sweet potatoes.
    • Add eggs, butter, and spices. Slowly add enough milk until mixture reaches pudding consistency. 
    • Pour into greased casserole pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
    • Sprinkle topping mixture and marshmallows on casserole when it comes out of the oven. Return to oven and bake 10 additional minutes.
Mom's Broccoli Casserole:
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 boxes frozen, chopped broccoli - cooked and drained
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated (just buy shredded cheddar)
    • Crackers or bread crumbs
  • Directions:
    • Cook broccoli 5 minutes.
    • Add all other ingredients; mix well.
    • Pour into a greased casserole dish.
    • Sprinkle bread crumbs or crumbled crackers on top.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Andrea's Apple Crisp:
  • Ingredients:
    • 6-8 large apples
    • 1/2 box Jiffy yellow cake mix (not sure where to find Jiffy, so we just got Betty Crocker)
    • 1/2 cup (or more) cinnamon/sugar mixture
    • 1/2 cup oats
    • 1 stick melted butter
  • Directions:
    • Peel, core, and slice apples. Place in a lightly buttered baking dish.
    • Sprinkle with cake mix, oats, and cinnamon/sugar mixture.
    • Layer the apples and dry mix so it makes at least two layers.
    • Drizzle melted butter on top.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
    • Enjoy! :)
The apple crisp recipe is one I got from a friend of Mr. G's mom who gave me a book of her family recipes as a shower gift. It ended up being delicious and a favorite new dessert of ours. 

Here are some photos of the meal:


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Please feel free to comment if you have any crazy family recipes to share. :)

Happy cooking!

- Mrs. G

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hot Cider & Cookie Soup

Hello all!

Long time no see, per usual. My work hours have decreased a tad, so perhaps you will begin hearing from me more. Or not - we'll see. On my days off, I have been busy cleaning house. We live in an apartment the size of a walk-in closet, and yet after two straight weekends of unpacking, decorating, and rearranging, we are still not done. But the good news is we now have an entertainment center! It was our first furniture purchase together, and it was a very exciting one. :) It looks awesome, too! IKEA is my new favorite store; I'm obsessed. This is the one we ended up purchasing. We are using all the cubbies to hold wedding paraphernalia, books, barware, our Wii, and miscellaneous media items in little baskets. It looks so legit! I'm very proud.

After setting up the entertainment center (to which I contributed very little), we decided to celebrate by making cookies from scratch along with hot apple cider. We thought we had all the ingredients already for the cookie dough, but as it turns out, we only had half the amount of flour we needed. We went ahead and made the dough anyway, which Mr. G likes to eat uncooked, and I decided to try and bake them just to see how they would turn out. They turned out to be a big hot mess. I smelled something burning, which I thought was the cider, but it was actually the mass of gooey cookie dough oozing off the cookie sheet in the oven. The smoke alarm went off, of course, and we had to open the door just to get all the smoke out... Oops. When I pulled out the cookie sheet, it was entirely covered in cookie dough; it looked like one large cookie cake that had the consistency of cookie soup. It looked delicious, but tasted like grease and chocolate chips. Definitely a baking fail. I can't believe I messed up chocolate chip cookies! I have achieved the impossible. I think the oven and I should take some time apart, and next time, I think I'll just suck it up and buy some flour.

The cider, on the other hand, turned out great. It was delicious! I got the recipe from my Betty Crocker app again. Betty always knows best. Here are the ingredients:
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
The directions are easy - mix ingredients together and heat on the stove! I brought it to a medium boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then I strained it into a pitcher to get all the spices out. Here are pics of the cider and cookie soup:

In other news, Mr. G and I went to Harry Potter 7.1 last night along with our couple friends and the entire tween population of CT. I was disappointed with how few people dressed up for the premiere (not that I did - I'm just amused by those who do), but the movie didn't disappoint in the least. It was amazing! I read all the books at least once, so yes I am an avid fan. But I found it to be a good film in its own right as well as a fair representation of the book (the first half at least). Very much looking forward to 7.2 next summer! If you have yet to see it, here is a really good review of the movie I found online. Perhaps my next cooking project should be butterbeer and chocolate frogs. ;)

As for this week, my parents are coming into town on Tuesday, and I can't wait for them to get here! I'm excited for them to see our apartment all set up (hence the cleaning frenzy), and I'm very excited for Thanksgiving. We're going to the Macy's Parade in New York! We will literally have to get up at 3 am, but it's so worth it. We'll definitely be cooking the day before, though. Here is what we decided for our Thanksgiving menu:
  • Turkey (duh)
  • Dressing (mom's recipe)
  • Broccoli casserole (mom's recipe)
  • Sweet potato casserole (mom's recipe)
  • Mashed potatoes (Mr. G's recipe)
  • Deviled eggs (mom's recipe)
  • Biscuits (probably store-bought)
  • Apple crisp (family friend's recipe)
  • Pumpkin pie (no idea... open to suggestions!)
Also, I still haven't heard back yet about that interview in the city. Tastes a bit like rejection, but maybe something will come up. I've got to keep hoping!

Happy cooking! And Happy Thanksgiving planning!

- Mrs. G

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spinach Dip

Hey everyone!

Here's what has been going on in the life of Mr. and Mrs. G:

I got a job interview! Well, sort-of... I found a recruiter for Scholastic on LinkedIn and decided to take a risk and message her. Turns out, it worked. I sent her my resume, and she agreed to meet with me! This would be an ideal job for me, and it's in the city! It's exactly what I've been looking for. The only problem is that the interview was supposed to be today. We never set a time, which I hope is just because she has been very busy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll hear from her soon about rescheduling. I would contact her myself, but I've done enough of that already; in fact, I've started to feel stalker-ish. What do you bet she makes her LinkedIn profile private after all this? I'll keep you posted on how everything turns out...

In other news, I have still been working non-stop, and I still don't like my job. I almost caught a thief the other day, though, which is pretty cool. All the dramatic stuff tends to happen while I'm running the store... I'm beginning to think I'm a bad luck magnet. Good news is I have the next four days off due to some unknown miracle, and Mr. G and I are going to have a long overdue date night tonight. :) It's amazing to me that after being with him for almost two years, I still get excited to see him, and I still get butterflies about going out with him. I get lonely sometimes because I miss my friends and family back in Nashville, but Mr. G makes it all worthwhile. I love him so much!

In honor of my wonderful husband (and for myself), I decided to attempt to make spinach dip this week. It turned out, of course, that I ate most of it, but I think it was fairly successful. It ended up being a little sweeter than I would have liked (and much sweeter than Mr. G would have liked), plus the consistency wasn't as thick as I felt it should have been, but overall it was good for a first attempt!

I got the recipe from a Betty Crocker Cookbook app on my iPhone. It's called "Creamy Spinach Dip," and here's how it goes:

  • 1 box (9 oz) Green Giant frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 container (8 oz) sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or fat-free Miracle Whip!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (not sure if I used the right ones or not, but oh well)
  • 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped (didn't do these... not a fan of water chestnuts. Also, I couldn't find them in the store)
  • 1 jar (2 oz) diced pimientos, drained (didn't do these either. Couldn't find them as well...)
  • Cook spinach as directed on package. Cool slightly; squeeze to drain well.
  • Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix sour cream, mayonnaise, celery salt, dill weed and onion salt. Stir in cooked spinach, onions, water chestnuts, and pimientos. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors.
  • Makes 28 servings.
  • Enjoy!
I didn't take any photos of this one, but it pretty much looks the same as all other spinach dip. I'm sure you can come up with your own image.

This weekend we're deciding the menu for Thanksgiving, and mom is sending us an electric carving knife for the turkey! Haha. My parents are coming up to visit for Thanksgiving, and somehow we're going to cook everything in our cramped little kitchen. We're also going to go to the Macy's Parade, so it should be lots of fun! I can't wait. :)

Happy cooking!

- Mrs. G

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fireman's Chili

Ok so this is my second post today, which is more than I usually post in a week. I'm finally getting caught up!

Halloween is officially two days away now, and guess who still has no costume and no plans... I promise I'm not a Halloween Scrooge. I actually love Halloween, but I don't normally have the time or effort to put into executing the holiday successfully. So far I have bought candy for trick or treaters (which I may or may not have succumbed to opening last night), and Mr. G and I bought pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch that we carved last night. It was my first time actually carving a pumpkin (my dad always did it in the past), and to be honest, it was a bit of a struggle. Thankfully, Mr. G is much more skilled than I at the art of pumpkin carving, so he helped me out a bit (ok, a lot). Here are our masterpieces:

Mr. and Mrs. G in pumpkin form

In honor of the cool autumn weather, I decided that it was also the perfect time to make chili. I have never made chili before, so I thought it would be fun to try. I wanted to find a recipe that looked yummy without being too complicated, so I ended up selecting the Fireman's Chili recipe from my Notably Nashville cookbook that I received as a wedding present. All of the recipes in the book are submissions from local Nashvillians, so it would also serve as a nice reminder of home. :)

Here is the recipe:

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (I just bought minced garlic to use)
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I substituted ground turkey since Mr. G loves it and I forgot we bought beef... oops)
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained (I skipped these because Mr. G hates beans)
  • Garnish: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions (skipped), and fresh cilantro
  • Saute the onions in the heated olive oil in a large saucepan for 8 minutes or until tender.
  • Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef (or turkey!) and cook for 4 minutes or until brown, stirring until crumbly.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the beef mixture and the saucepan.
  • Return the ground beef mixture to the saucepan and stir in the tomatoes, beef broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat (this is when I transferred everything to the crock pot, but you don't have to use a crock pot).
  • Simmer for 2 hours or until the chili is thickened and the flavors blend (I was too antsy to let it sit that long, so we ate it after an hour and it was still good!)
  • Stir in the beans (if desired) and adjust the seasonings. Cook until heated through. 
  • Ladle into soup bowl and garnish.
  • Enjoy!
As you may imagine, this was my most challenging cooking attempt to date. I had never used a crock pot before, nor had I ever cooked with so many ingredients. I burned myself three times, and once it even caused me to fling chili all over the kitchen. Beyond that, everything went fairly smoothly... It was a long process, but it was definitely worth the wait (and the burns). The chili was absolutely delicious! I was very proud, and Mr. G was very impressed. I will definitely make this dish again, though hopefully with fewer injuries... 

Here are some photos:

Sautéing the onions

Cooking the ground turkey, onions, and garlic


Finished product! Yum!

If you have any good, cheap Halloween costume ideas, please comment and let me know! This is getting to be an emergency...

Also, I'm looking for suggestions on how to improve the flavor of baked chicken. Mr. G and I cook chicken a lot, but it's always a little blah... even with breadcrumbs and spices. Hit me up if you have any tips!


Happy cooking and Happy Halloween!

- Mrs. G

Pico de Gallo

Hey all!

I have a day off today, so I thought I would post more recipes and give you a quick update on life up here in the polar north.

For a while now, Mr. G and I had been trying to figure out a way to visit our families over Christmas. We really wanted to see them both, but due to my strict work schedule, we would have to fly back and forth between TN and MN in a mere five days, and one of those flights would be on Christmas day. It wasn't the best, but we were willing to do it if it meant we got to see everyone. However, the biggest obstacle in our way was turning out not to be logistics but rather cost. It would cost us over $1,000 for our flights, and even with our families chipping in, that's not really something we can afford right now. We agonized over it for days, trying to come up with a way to make it work (and starting to accept that it wouldn't), when we found out about a deal through Southwest where we could purchase three one-way tickets for dirt cheap - the only catch is we would have to fly after New Years; the deal wasn't valid over Christmas. But we couldn't let an opportunity like this pass us up, especially when it's less than half the cost of the other tickets, still close enough to Christmas to work, and more convenient for both of our work schedules. Pretty amazing, right?

So the sad news is we won't be spending Christmas with our families, which will be a first for both of us. It's going to be a Connecticut Christmas this year. But the good news is we still get to see everyone shortly thereafter without having to pay much at all, if anything, since our families are contributing to our travel expenses as their Christmas presents to us. Also, it means I am now fully justified in decking the halls of the apartment and getting a nice tree. ;) And if you think Molly (our lab/collie) isn't getting a stocking, think again! I am happy she will be with us on Christmas, which wouldn't have happened if we were traveling. Although, I think we will also be watching our friends' dog at that time, which means we'll have a full house. And a smelly one, because he's very gassy (all candles will be lit).

In other news, we got Mr. G's car fixed (which ended up costing most of his bonus... boo), and I am now considering applying to grad school. Part of me thinks it's crazy since I barely made it through my undergrad thesis without (completely) losing my sanity, but at the same time, I can't ignore my still-burning desire to attend an Ivy League school, nor can I ignore the fact that one just happens to be located within a few minutes of my home (Yale). Coincidence? Possibly... if I believed in coincidences. This could just be a phase of mine, though, so we'll see how it pans out.

I guess that wasn't a very quick life update... but you should be all caught up now. On to the food!

As many of my friends know, I have a slight (ok, major) obsession with Mexican food. Since moving up to CT, though, the only Mexican I've had are the chicken enchiladas we occasionally make at home. Recently, I had a serious craving for some pico de gallo, but I wasn't satisfied with the selection at Stop n Shop. Whenever that happens, I naturally conclude that I have to try my hand at it myself. So I found an online recipe by Emeril Lagasse without too many ingredients and decided to give it a whirl. Here's how it goes:

  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!
I had never seeded or diced vegetables before (at least not into teeny tiny pieces), so this ended up being a little more challenging than expected. I did it, but it took me forever haha. If I had a Magic Bullet, I would have been finished in no time. Also, I followed this recipe exactly - I made no substitutions or changes. The pico ended up being delicious; Mr. G and I ate it all in one night! After looking back, though, I would reconsider the garlic. I liked the tanginess it brought to the pico, but it was a little overwhelming. I would put in less next time, or maybe just skip it altogether. Also, I would double the ingredients so it would last longer for the two of us or better serve a group of people.  

Here are the ingredients I used and my finished product:

My next post will be on Fireman's Chili!

Happy cooking!

- Mrs. G

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pan Chicken Parmesan

I realized today that Mr. G and I lead an interesting lifestyle. We are similar to what Chris Rock calls "ghetto snobs." What I mean by that is we have some really nice things, but we don't have a lot of money. For example, we just bought iPhones as early Christmas presents to each other, and we have two cars - one of which is an Audi - yet we buy store brand groceries and pretty much only go out once a week for free wing night. What's wrong with this picture?

Thankfully, some of our financial stress was alleviated today when we found out that Mr. G's bonus is going to be three times what we anticipated! We both felt a huge weight lift off of us - it was such an answered prayer, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Now we can get new tires! It's funny what you get excited about as a grown-up...

Regardless, I am obsessed with my iPhone, and one of the many apps I downloaded (all of which were free, of course) is a healthy recipe finder called Spark Recipes. In celebration of Mr. G's much-deserved and much-needed work bonus, I decided to buy a bottle of wine and cook a nice Italian dinner since it was my day off. I chose the Pan Chicken Parmesan recipe from Spark Recipes since it didn't require a lot of ingredients and I had never made chicken parmesan before. And in honor of my new toy, I am going to post the recipe!

After purchasing a ridiculous amount of groceries today (store brand!), I came home and started on the dish. I didn't know it was possible to sautee chicken - and for a while, I didn't think it would be - but that's what I did. It was different, but it worked. After cooking the chicken with the spices, I baked it in the oven for a few minutes with the Italian sauce and mozzarella cheese, and it was done! Quick and fairly easy, and it was delish!

Here's the recipe:

  • 4 5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 .88 oz. slices of mozzarella cheese (I just piled on the shredded stuff)
  • 1/2 cup Prego Traditional Italian Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried rosemary leaves (I just used the rosemary from my spice rack)
  • Ground oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste (why would you taste raw chicken? Just sprinkle the spices on).
  • Heat skillet with olive oil.
  • Cook chicken until done and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Coat each chicken breast with 1/8 cup Prego sauce (I didn't measure), 1 slice of cheese (or shredded mozzarella), and dashes of herbs.
  • Bake in oven until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
  • Enjoy. :)
And since this is a "healthy" recipe, here are the nutrition facts:

Amount per serving:
  • Calories: 283
  • Total Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 101 mg
  • Sodium: 432 mg
  • Potassium: 485 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
I think ghetto princess describes me better... Let's go with that.

- Mrs. G

Monday, October 11, 2010

Banana Birthday Cake

Hey all!

Sorry for the delay after the first post... I have been working non-stop! The bad news is I haven't had a chance to cook much lately since my job requires me to work evenings. The good news is I have a few recipes I've attempted in the last few weeks that I can fall back on until trying something new!

The first one I'll introduce you to is actually an original (and secret) recipe developed by my mother-in-law for banana cake! It's Mr. G's absolute favorite, and his mom used to make it for him every year for his birthday, so when his birthday came around last month I decided to take a page from her book and try my hand at it. I called up the original Mrs. G to get the recipe, spent too much on ingredients, and put my (complete lack of ) baking skills to use.

Have I mentioned I've never made a cake from scratch before? Even the icing was handmade. It was quite the undertaking for someone who didn't even know what shortening was (Mrs. G #1 enlightened me). Believe it or not, the cake turned out delicious! I was quite impressed with myself... and so was Mr. G! Score one for the wife. ;)

Unfortunately, I can't unveil the family recipe I used because I would like to stay on good terms with the in-laws. BUT here is another one I found if you would like to try it at home. :)

- Mrs. G