Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crock Pot Beer-BBQ Pulled Chicken

  I have been just a liiiittle stressed lately. Finals are looming. I had a trial that I was helping out with today (unfortunately it got reset at the last minute). And, did I mention that finals are looming?! My first one is in 9 days. Yikes. Things have been getting so crazy that I was just eating boring sandwiches and frozen things. It has been really depressing. Eventually, my body started to revolt, and I knew I had to put an end to all that. Thus began a search for a quick, yummy recipe that would make a large portion; something that I could eat on for a couple days, AND wouldn't mind eating for a couple days.

From the beginning I knew that I wanted to use my crock pot. It's just too easy -- put the stuff in the pot, go about your business, come back a few hours later -- and there's something delicious waiting for you! Genius. The wheels continued turning when I went to Menu of Menu's, a really fun Houston food event/taste tasting with about 50 local restaurants (it was pretty phenom). Anyway, point being that I stumbled upon the Beaver's booth, and was reminded of an old favorite -- their pulled chicken sandwich. And hello. Lightbulb. It all came together, and I knew what I had to do. So, here you have it. A super tasty pulled chicken sandwich utilizing a crock pot and a few common ingredients. Oh, and beer. Juuust to take the edge off. So give it a try -- perfect for those crazy-busy times, or just about anytime!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lightened-Up Asparagus Soup w/ Goat Cheese

If you love asparagus, this is the soup for you. EVEN IF you don't love asparagus, this is the soup for you. I'm a fan of asparagus, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this soup. And my absolute favorite thing about it was that it had such a rich flavor, and creamy texture, but no cream. That's right, no cream! Instead of adding cream at the end (a wonderfully fatty way to make anything instantly delicious), this recipe utilizes plain Greek yogurt, and then, for some added creaminess, just add a touch of goat cheese (you honestly don't even need as much as I added in the photo above -- I got a little carried away, as usual). So pick up some asparagus while it's still beautifully in season (and oh so cheap!), and make a soup that, in every way, you will feel good about eating!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Green Bean & Bacon Salad

Crunchy, tangy, acidic, bacon-y... I promise, this will be one of the best green bean salads you've ever had! It's also a great way to add a green side to your meal that is healthful, but also slightly indulgent. Enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Strawberry Prosecco Fizz

Before my birthday, I was searching for a Springtime beverage. I knew that I wanted to incorporate strawberries because they are so gorgeous right now (for evidence, see picture below). I finally arrived with this concoction featuring fresh strawberry juice, Prosecco, and ginger ale! I am pleased to report that it exceeded my expectations. This was the item that I definitely got the most compliments on, with people remarking that it was one of the best drinks they'd ever had! My guests also commented that it was nice because it wasn't too sweet, which was refreshing to hear, because I too dislike super-sweet mixed drinks.

I hope that you try this drink while strawberries are in season; I promise it is sure to please. It would be great for Easter brunch, or just about any lovely Spring day!

Birthday Feast!

Birthdays are a fantastic excuse to get wonderful people together, and eat, drink, & be merry. And that's exactly what I did to celebrate my 26th birthday! My dear friend Courteney helped me host a lovely meal with about 15 of my closest friends. And while yes, I did do some cooking (even making the cake!) for MY birthday, I LOVED every minute of it, because cooking and feeding people is what I LOVE TO DO!

I used to think that as I got older, I would dread birthdays -- especially as 25 rolled around, I began to fear being on the "wrong side of 20." Surprisingly, that has not been the case at all, and I am actually enjoying getting older. I know that I'm not that old by any means, but a lot of my law school friends are a couple years younger than me, and I am dating someone slightly younger than me (which apparently makes me a "cougar" haha), so I get picked on a lot for being "old." However, I am completely embracing 26, and many more birthdays to come! As my friend Walsh and I joked, "another year; another excuse to kick more ass."

With that said, here are some highlights of the food and decor that made my birthday dinner a success! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!! Blog posts to follow with the recipes of the individual dishes.

Andrew drinking some Strawberry Prosecco Fizz

Appetizer: Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus

Wonderful appetizers brought by friends --  Russ' Sun Dried Tomato Tapenade, Green Olive Tapenade, and Asian Guac & Courteney's Crab Dip
Beef Bourguignon, Green Bean Salad, and Courteney's Hash Brown Casserole (Every dish on this plate has bacon in it -- Coincidence? I think not!)

Tripe Layer Lemon Cake w/ Raspberry Filling & Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Ombre Pennant Flags -- created by my wonderful friend Courteney (who also made the most adorable mini-pennant flag cake topper!)

Gorgeous flowers from Barrett!!

And now, bring it on 26! :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chinese Chicken Salad

Here is a salad that is not quite as quick as my last posts, but looks like way more work than it is! The only part of the process that is time-consuming is slicing and dicing a few vegetables, and cooking the chicken, but the rest of the process really just involves combining and mixing! 

I've always LOVED these kinds of salads; I've bought them in stores and at a few restaurants, but this is the first time I've ventured to make anything like this -- and let me tell you, it was OH SO GOOD! Not to mention it is packed full of super nutritious goodies, such as edamame, cabbage, chicken, and other lovely Asian accoutrements. Then, it is topped with a dressing that features predominant flavors of peanut, chile, ginger, and soy. It has such warmth, depth, and spice, but still very light and refreshing!

While the list of ingredients make look somewhat daunting, it makes a very large portion -- about 6 large servings, or 12 side servings. Also, the dressing features delicious, versatile Asian ingredients that you can make very good use of in the future! Please read on, and ENJOY!


* 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

* 3/4 head napa cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups)
* 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
* 1 cup edamame, shelled and pre-cooked (you can find this in the freezer section of the grocery store)
* 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
* 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
* 1 11-ounce can Mandarin oranges, drained
* 3 scallions, thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 

* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
* 3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons peanut butter
* 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (depending how much heat you like)
* 1 teaspoon minced ginger
* 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Optional Garnish
* Chopped cilantro
* Chopped peanuts

* Preheat the oven to 350F. 
* Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish.
* Brush 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil onto the chicken breasts. 
* Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked (it is firm to the touch, and juices run clear).
* Remove the chicken breast from the baking dish, and cool completely.
* When the chicken reaches room temperature, cut into 1/4 inch pieces.

* In a large bowl, combine the next 8 ingredients (cabbages, carrots, edamame, scallions, water chestnuts, Mandarin oranges, and cilantro), along with the chicken pieces.
** Make sure all ingredients are well drained, otherwise you will end up with a watery salad.

* In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients.
* Pour the sauce over the rest of your ingredients, and gently stir to combine.

* Top with some peanut and cilantro as garnish, and make yourself a big bowl o' fresh...

* Nom nom nom...

Recipe adapted from here & here.