Tag Archives: married life

Confetti Chicken Pasta

23 Jul

Karl and I work at the same company, but we happen to be on opposite schedules.  Our company runs on a 9/80 schedule which means that we work 80 hours in 9 days instead of the usual 10 (40 hours per week).  The big benefit of this schedule is that you are off every other Friday.  The downside for us is that we have opposite schedules so if it is my Friday off, Karl is working and vice versa.

Since yesterday was my day off I wanted to make a really special lunch for Karl instead of our usual salad.  Just like Thursday night I kind of went through the kitchen and looked at what we had to make a new dish.  I knew that I would not be going anywhere – the temperature outside was something like 99 with a heat index of 116!  So first I thawed out a pound of chicken.  We used to eat chicken every day for dinner, but since we’ve been doing this “semi-vegetarian” thing chicken has not been getting much love!  Once thawed I cut it into small cubes.  While cutting I let some garlic and crushed red pepper simmer in some olive oil.  Then I tossed the chicken in and let it cook on medium-high heat.  It got seasoned with salt, black pepper, and a little onion powder.  Those are pretty much my go-to spices.

I decided that I wanted to make a pasta and chicken dish so I went to the cabinet to see what kind of pasta we had.  Turns out we had about 1/4 box of everything, but there were two boxes of elbows.  Perfect!  I threw the remainder of both boxes into boiling water seasoned with a little salt.

While the chicken and pasta were cooking I chopped up some veggies.  My picks were carrots, cucumber, and red bell pepper.  When the chicken was cooked all the way through I poured into a bowl.  I put another tbsp. of olive oil in the chicken pan and tossed in a BUNCH of spinach.  I just used what we had left in our container – probably 3 full handfuls.  Once that had cooked down a little I added the carrots, cucumber, and pepper.  I let that cook for about 5 minutes and in the meantime drained the pasta then tossed it in the bowl on top of the chicken.  Next I added a few handfuls of frozen peas and corn to the veggie pan.  Once those were heated through I poured the veggies on top of the pasta.  Add some fresh grated parmesan cheese then toss everything together.

Karl was really happy to come home to a hot meal!  He asked what I was going to call it.  I said Confetti Chicken Pasta because it looked like a party in a bowl.  He said I should call it something like Garbage Pasta because it literally was a bunch of leftover stuff that would otherwise just be tossed.  I think that Confetti Chicken Pasta is a much better name.

Oh, and it reheats really well.  I was really glad to find that out because I made a HUGE bowl of it.  I am actually munching on a bowl of it for lunch as I type.  So good!

I’m actually getting packed up to head back to my hometown for a conference Sunday-Thursday.  I am going to try to schedule another post to show up tomorrow or Monday, and I think I have convinced Karl to write a guest post!  I hope you all have a great weekend and a great week!

Black Beans and Quinoa Remix

22 Jul

Last night we had no plans on what to make for dinner.  This whole week has been a very unorganized or us.  We didn’t make any kind of a meal plan this past weekend and only went to Sam’s to pick up veggies.  Lack of organization is bad for us.  If we don’t know what we are going to make then we just don’t make anything and go out to eat instead.  Tuesday night we ate Jimmy Johns and Wednesday night we had Pizza Hut.  Last night as we were pulling out of the parking lot at work, Karl asked where we were going for dinner, not what we were going to eat.  My answer was home because I couldn’t stand for us to spend money on another high-calorie meal.  When he asked what I was making I told him I would figure something out.

So, when we got home I walked into the kitchen and took an inventory.  In cabinet number 1 I found quinoa, taboule (which we have yet to try) and 3 different kinds of pasta.  Cabinet number 2 had a can of black beans, a can of red beans, and 3 cans of chickpeas. And our fridge is always stocked with vegetables – lettuce, spinach, carrots, assorted bell peppers, and cucumbers along with the onions, grape tomatoes, and avocado sitting on our countertop.  So I just decided to throw a few things together…

First I cooked up some quinoa.  I always make half of what the box suggests (1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup of water instead of 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water) because when paired with other foods half of the cooking suggestion is more than enough for the two of us.  I seasoned it with some salt, black pepper, about a tablespoon of cumin, and about a teaspoon of chili powder.  While the quinoa was cooking I chopped up an onion and sauteed that with a couple big handfuls of spinach.

Onions and spinach with quinoa simmering in the background.

While those sauteed I went to work chopping other vegetables… an orange bell pepper, a baby cucumber, and some grape tomatoes.  At this point Karl decided to come in the kitchen and help by turning our two almost overripe avocados into a quick guacamole (one of his favorite foods!).  After the onions began to soften I added the pepper and cucumber and let them cook for a few minutes.  I took this free time to open a can of black beans and rinse and drain them.  My next step was to thrown in the beans, then the quinoa.  I seasoned the whole thing with some more salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and a little garlic powder as well.  I let this heat up and then added the grape tomatoes.  It takes no time at all to heat up the tomatoes, so about a minute later I was plating this baby.  I served it with a dallop of gauc and a light squeeze of lime juice on top.  It was so quick, so easy, and so delicious.  Cooking a meal like that makes me realize how easy it is to make a healthy dinner every day.  I guess that means I have no excuse for going out to eat, even during the week?

This meal will definitely be a repeat item for us!  Karl loved every bite, but I guess what meal isn’t good with a little guac on top?  I’m sorry I don’t have a real “recipe” to share.  I really just eyeballed everything except for the beans (1 can) and quinoa.  But you should seriously give this a try.  Throwing a bunch of veggies together is very forgiving – they almost all taste good together!  I guess that’s why I do it so often!  Enjoy!!

Weekend Wrap Up

12 Jul

Is it too late to do a wrap up of my weekend?  I don’t think so!  It didn’t seem like it was a very busy weekend, but it seemed to fly by.  Don’t they all?

So, Saturday morning Karl and I went to pick more blueberries.  This time we went to a place called Butler’s Orchard in Germantown.  The blueberry picking was amazing this weekend!  They were so plump, and every branch was full of ripe berries.  Picking is so much fun when there are so many good berries to choose from!  We filled our bowl with 6.66 lbs (kind of a freaky number, right?) and finally said we had to stop.  Then we came home and Karl did some car stuff while I cleaned.  In the afternoon we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and got the ice cream maker attachment for our Kitchenaid Mixer!!!!  I am so excited about it.  We were definitely disappointed to find out that you have to freeze the mixer bowl for at least 15 hours before using it though!

Sunday we got up early to do our grocery shopping.   First to Wal Mart and then to Sam’s.  We were at Sam’s when they opened at 10AM.  Did you know that people line up to get in there before 10?  I’ve never been there that early before so I definitely did not!  I was pretty excited because it was time to renew our membership.  No, I was not excited about spending $40.  I was excited because we got an offer in the mail that said if we renewed by a certain day we could get a $20 gift card.  Then, on the way in, I saw a sign that listed a bunch of companies and said “if you work for one of these companies, you can get a $10 gift card for renewing your membership.”  The company that Karl and I work for just happened to be listed on there!  I figured that you could only get one deal or the other, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for both, right?  Well it turns out you can get both!  So I spent $40 on a membership but got back $30 in gift cards.  I’d say that’s quite a deal!

We got back home and immediately got to work making our first batch of ice cream!  It was a lot more work than we thought it would be.  We definitely learned to follow directions too…  Like when they say to refrigerate your ice cream batter overnight, they don’t mean stick it in the fridge for 2 hours and call it good.  You will end up with runny ice cream.  We eventually got a pretty good product for our first try though!  I am thinking about making some blueberry sorbet or frozen yogurt in the next few days so hopefully I will have that post to share with you soon.  On Sunday I also made some vegetarian stuffed peppers and had my first attempt at macarons.  I have read so much about them online and couldn’t understand how a cookie could be so difficult to make.  Apparently I didn’t something wrong though because the cookies turned out flat as pancakes!  I will have to do a little more researching and try them again soon.

One of the best parts of my Sunday was getting surprised by my wonderful husband with some cute pink daisies!  He always asks when we go to the store and pass by the flowers if I want some, but there’s nothing like getting them by surprise!  He is such a sweet heart – I am a lucky woman!

I hope you all had a great weekend and the week is off to a great start!  Only 3 more days until the next weekend!

Fresh-Picked Blueberries!

3 Jul

Summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of year because of all of the fresh fruit that we can go and pick ourselves.  In case you didn’t know, I am a fruit-aholic.  I have a major sweet tooth and generally fruit fits into the sweets category too.  If I could live on just fruit I probably would.  From watermelon to pineapple I like almost everything.  Fresh-picked fruits are my favorite though.  The freshness just makes them a million times better.

We are pretty lucky here in Maryland that we have 3 different orchards within 30 minutes of our house.  It makes it nice because we can go and pick just about anything we want all summer long.  Last year was really our first time picking fresh fruits.  With school and internships we were just too busy during previous summers.  We were excited last year to find a strawberry field less than 10 minutes from our apartment.  We picked close to 20 lbs of  strawberries last summer and froze a bunch of them.

Picking strawberries last summer

Unfortunately we missed strawberry season this year.  It was just too hot for us plus the strawberries we could get at the grocery store were actually really good.

Since we didn’t get to pick blueberries last summer I knew we would not miss them this year.  This was actually my first time ever picking them.   When I was a kid my family went to pick apples every fall and sometimes peaches.   Last year Karl and I picked strawberries, blackberries, and peaches.  This year I want to do them all – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, and apples.   And probably some tomatoes too.

I was pleasantly surprised that the blueberry plants were almost as tall as me!  I was expecting it to be like picking strawberries where you spend the whole afternoon bent over and your lower back hurts for the next two days.  I think we are right at the beginning of blueberry season out here and there were still tons of green berries out there. We still picked 1.5 pounds and only spent $3.65 (a lot better than $3 a pint!), and we’ll probably go back to get more blueberries and some raspberries next weekend.  Now I just have to figure out what to make with these beauties…  I know for sure a blueberry banana bread with my favorite struesel topping will be made tomorrow to take to work on Tuesday.  Some of my co-workers have been asking about banana bread, and I aim to please.  I think a blueberry buckle might be in the future for Karl and me.  Just have to get the recipe from my mom.

But before I get to work on that I’m going to help myself to this delicious salad I just made.  Hope you are enjoying your three day weekend!

Do you and your family have any orchard traditions?

Hummus?

23 Jun

Here is the post I meant to put up last night…

I’m so excited to be writing my first blog post!  I am hoping to write a post every day or so.  Today was pretty much my usual day.  Get up, eat breakfast (cereal today because I forgot to get my overnight oats ready last night) and head to work.  I am in a Technical Writing Class this week which is surprisingly interesting!  I am hoping that I am learning some new techniques to improve my writing skills.  One of the toughest skills he has been trying to drill into our heads this week is what he calls “slopping”.  He says that when you want to write something you should sit down at the computer and just type for 6-8 minutes without stopping to think about what your next sentence should be or going back to correct mistakes.  After that 6-8 minutes you can go back and make whatever tweaks you might want to make.  Stopping distracts you from your original thoughts and makes writing more difficult.  Sounds like a simple concept, but it is actually much harder to sit and continuously type without correcting your errors.  I am also enjoying the class because he gives out books when you say something intelligent or ask him a question that helps him teach the class.  For my prize I picked out the book The Help, which I hear they are turning into a movie.  Hopefully I can finish the book before the movie comes out.

After work we came home and I made a quick dinner while Karl did a little picking up around the house.  Tonight’s dinner was a simple veggie stir fry of onions, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, and chickpeas  served with quinoa.  Karl and I just tried quinoa about two weeks ago, and we are in love!  Before we would’ve served the stir fry over spaghetti or brown rice, but I like knowing that we are eating a much healthier grain and getting some protein as well.  Most of the time we would make a stir fry sauce from scratch, but since I was trying to get things done quickly I used a light amount of store bought sauce.  Stir fry is such a simple dish, but it is definitely one of my favorite ways to get in so many veggies!  I love the beautiful assortment of colors on the plate.

stir fry heating up in the pan

the stir fry heating up in the pan

plated and ready to eat!

Thirty minutes later we were out the door on the way to the gym.  One of my favorite classes to take is Les Mills Body Combat which our gym offers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.  The Monday/Wednesday instructor is just amazing.  I love that she knows me by name and tonight, since I hadn’t been to the gym in awhile, she  asked me where I had been.  It’s really good for me to have someone other than Karl who holds me accountable for my workouts!  She is something like 3 months pregnant and still going strong.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do when she has to take a maternity leave!

After the gym we headed to the store to stock up on a few of the necessities, including one of my favorite fruits of the summer, watermelon!  Eating a big bowl of watermelon is definitely a good way to hydrate after a tough workout.

When we got home I decided to try out a new recipe for some hummus.  I’m always excited to use our new food processor which we received as a wedding gift about 2 months ago, and I feel like I hear people talking about eating hummus quite a bit.  I’d actually never tried it and was excited to make a healthy dip that we could eat even with veggies.  I used a recipe for “Classic Hummus”.   Here’s what the recipe looked like:

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (I added about 1/2 tsp. because we like things a little spicy)

1/4 tsp. salt

Olive Oil

Making the hummus is very simple!  First, drain the chickpeas, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid.  Throw the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt into the food processor and process until it starts to get smooth.

everything thrown in the food processor

Then drizzle in the reserved chickpea liquid and continue to process until you see a smooth consistency.  After I had added all of the chickpea liquid, I still wasn’t happy with the consistency – it was a little gritty still.  So, I decided to try drizzling in some olive oil while continuing to process the hummus.  I probably added about 2 more tablespoons oil when it started to look right.

the gritty in-between stage

Then it was time to try it.  And, I was very unimpressed!  I’m not sure if it is the strong chickpea flavor or the seasonings, but I do not like it at all.  I’m wondering if there is a different recipe out there that I might like better.  If you have a better recipe, please share it with me!  I’ve also seen some black bean hummus recipes, and, since I am a bigger fan of black beans, I think I will try that sometime in the near future as well.  I’m going to throw the hummus in the fridge and see if I like it any better when its cold.

Well, that’s it for today.  Time for some much needed sleep!

Welcome to my blog!

21 Jun

Hi!  I’m Margaret.  I’m 24 years old, a newlywed, and a recent college graduate.  After 5 years of engineering school and cramming, all nighters, late night snacks, and dorm food, I am ready for some REAL food.  Since I graduated from college I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking dinners and baking sweets for my love.  I love trying new recipes and sometimes new foods, and I’m lucky to have an awesome new husband who tries whatever I put in front of him and gives me an honest critique.  I’m also lucky to work with a bunch of guys  who love my baking and are always asking for more which gives me lots of opportunities to try new things.  Hopefully through this blog I can share some of my favorite new recipes with you!

My husband, Karl, and I are both interested in living a healthier lifestyle and always making positive choices.  We do not by any means live at the gym, but working out is something we always try to do more of.  One of my biggest goals is to become a runner and someday run a half marathon.  I am hoping that this blog will also help me keep track of my milestones.

On top of all of this, Karl and I are starting our married life in a completely new city on the east coast, 14 hours away from our hometown of St. Louis.  We really want to see as much of the city and the whole east coast while we’re out here so I’m sure that I’ll be sharing that with you as well.  As pretty much everyone knows, balancing work and life can always be a challenge, but I’m excited to find out what the future has in store and to share my new adventures with you!