Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Long Road Has a Purpose.

Hi friends. I'm back for a moment amidst all the craziness that is my life right now. As some (or all) of you may know at this point, I recently accepted a new job at UW-Madison, and in the next few weeks, I will be uprooting my life here in Milwaukee and moving there. Ummm, holy crap! I am beyond excited, and I can't wait to share more with you because this has felt like a very long time coming! Because I've been busy sorting out all the logistical details and have been trying to pack, I haven't had much time for anything besides that and helping with my transition out of my current office. That's why this entry will be so short, but I just wanted to quickly share a quote with you that I saw on Pinterest tonight. Seems so fitting, it's scary! Here goes...

"No matter what happens, no matter how far away you seem to be from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will somehow make it. Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has a purpose, that the things you desire may not happen today, but they will happen. Continue to persist and persevere."

Crazy accurate, right?! I have been wanting for a long time to have all the pieces fall into place in my life, and it seems like this will be a huge step in the right direction. Stay tuned for more posts about how this all came about, what I'll be doing in Madison, and how I'm coping with it all. ;) Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lemon Chicken Romano!

Somebody stop me! I am a cooking machine lately! I'm loving it! So much fun to have the time to experiment, and even more fun when I realize that I actually kinda know what I'm doing. ;) My latest recipe that I tried (from Pinterest, of course) was Lemon Chicken Romano. I made it last night and was pleasantly surprised with how great it turned out. My apartment smelled SO good when I was making it! I kept looking at the recipe and trying to decide if I thought it would turn out as flavorful as my mind thought it would, and fortunately for me, it sure did! I would highly recommend giving this recipe a chance. I had leftovers for lunch today and again for dinner tonight, and it was just as tasty! That's a good test for the recipes I make since I always have leftovers. Always good to find a keeper in that respect! Anyway, I figured I'd get a post done as usual in hopes that I can keep inspiring people!:) (Sorry if I'm annoying any of you with all my food posts lately. There have been lots of exciting things going on these days, but these recipes are the easiest for me to post at the moment, and I'll update you on other life happenings soon!) I hope you try this recipe. Totally worth it, and you best believe I will be making it again in the near future!

 The ingredients!
 I cut my chicken breast into 4 pieces as instructed. I don't have a meat mallet, but I tried to pound them out to an even size as much as possible (by using the bottom of a glass) to help ensure that they would cook evenly.
 Mix an egg with some flour.
 And in another container, mix all the stuff for the coating. (Panko bread crumbs, Romano cheese, oregano, lemon zest, garlic powder and pepper.) Looks cool, no?!
 Dip the chicken in the egg/flour mixture, then dip it in the coating mixture. It actually coated really well!
 Heat up the olive and vegetable oil.
 Throw in two of the chicken pieces and let them sit for about 2 minutes before flipping them over to do the same on the other side.
 Look at that golden goodness! I was so surprised with how good it looked! Also smelled AMAZING.
 Cook the other two pieces of chicken! (As you'll see in the below picture, the two pieces that were cooked in the second round got a little more done than the first batch. I noticed that when I cooked them and the oil was still hot, the little pieces of the breading that were left over from the first pieces started burning a bit in the pan. I even set off the smoke detector, ahhh! If you can, try to get some of those pieces out of there so they don't burn or stink up your house. Wasn't too big of an issue, but just a tip!)
 Put the chicken on a baking sheet...
 And sprinkle it with your other cheese mixture. Then throw it in the 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and plate it up! Mmm, mmm, mmmmmm!

  • 2 (8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved horizontally, and pounded to 1/2-inch thick (I didn't do it quite like this as I had one large chicken breast, but ending up with 4 pieces that are decently thin all around is ideal.)
  • 2 oz shredded Whole Milk Mozzarella cheese* (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz shredded Provolone cheese* (1/2 cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 oz finely shredded Romano cheese* (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (I didn't have fresh oregano, so I just used the dried kind I have in my spice cabinet. I looked it up, and 1 Tbsp of fresh comes to about 1 tsp of dried. They are definitely not equal, because if you used 1 Tbsp of dried, it'd be way too overpowering!)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (2 tsp) (I have a zester, but this was my first time using it, and I found it a little tricky. I did get some of the zest, but I don't think I had quite this much. I was okay with that and don't think it made too much of a difference. I didn't want it to be overpowered with lemon either.)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon slices or wedges for serving (you can just use the one that was zested) 
*I used various cheese I had on hand. For the mozzarella/provolone mixture, I actually used a bag that had a combination of mozzarella and parmesan in it (from Target) and combined it with a 3-cheddar blend I had. For the coating mixture that called for romano, I used more of the cheese from the mozzarella and parmesan combo. I thought these cheeses made for excellent flavor, so you could probably easily improvise with whatever you have on hand. I say that assuming all people have cheese on hand at all times. Maybe that's just me. ;) If you have to go out and buy some regardless, might as well get what the recipe calls for or get whatever flavor(s) appeal to you!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle each side of the chicken cutlet lightly with salt (about 1/16 tsp per each side), let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Combine Mozzarella and Provolone cheese in a bowl, set aside.
  • In a shallow dish, whisk together flour and egg until smooth.
  • In a separate shallow dish, toss together Panko bread crumbs, Romano cheese, oregano, lemon zest, garlic powder and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 chicken cutlet at a time, dredge chicken in egg mixture coating both sides and allowing excess to run off, then immediately transfer to Romano mixture and coat both sides with mixture, while pressing gently to allow crumbs to adhere. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat process with the remaining chicken cutlets.
  • Pour 2 1/2 Tbsp each of olive oil and vegetable oil into a 10-inch non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add 2 coated chicken cutlets and fry without moving them until bottom is crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes, then using metal tongs rotate to opposite side and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer fried chicken to a large plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat process with remaining 2 pieces of chicken. (As I mentioned above, try to get some of the little leftover coating pieces out of the pan because they might start to burn as you cook round two of the chicken. No need to make people think you're burning the house down;).
  • Place cutlets on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle tops with Mozzarella cheese mixture and transfer to preheated oven to bake until internal temperature registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 12 minutes. You can broil during the last 1 - 2 minutes if desired. (I ended up taking my two thinner pieces out of the oven a little sooner than the thicker pieces because the thicker pieces took a bit longer to cook all the way through. This underscores the importance of pounding them thin if you can.) 
  • Remove from oven and garnish with lemon slices or wedges, serve warm. Squeeze fresh lemon juice from lemon slices over chicken just before enjoying.

There ya have it! Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pad Thai!

It's actually kinda scary how much cooking I've been able to do lately. It's also kinda scary that I've been able to blog about it practically in real-time too. Man, it's amazing how a free weekend and few low-stress weeknights really changes things for me! I've been really excited with the things I've been making and how well they've been turning out, so that definitely helps the inspiration. L often asks me why I never cook for him. To be honest, I'm not sure. Part of it is because he always has great ideas for what to make, and he makes amazing food, so why would I argue against it if he's going to fill my belly with deliciousness?! (I don't mean that in a bitchy way, either. I just have great respect for what he can do in the kitchen, and I am very appreciative of it.) But really, I think my confidence is still growing, and I also am more comfortable in my own kitchen when no one is watching me. These past few meals have really helped with that, so I'm hoping someday soon I can cook for him and 'take care' of him like he does for me! :) Until then, I'll at least show you, my few faithful readers, what I've been up to in the event that it inspires you to try something new once in awhile. My most recent creation? Pad Thai! I'm not sure if you've ever had it or what you think, but this is a variation of the super traditional recipe, and I found it to be quite delicious. The original recipe is here, but I didn't make many variations at all. I'll share some photos and the recipe as usual. Let me know what you think!

 The ingredients!
 First step is soaking the rice noodles! (8 oz.)
 Next is making the sauce! (Soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and Sriracha)
 Cut up those green onions, and keep the green and white parts separate!
 Mince a little garlic.
 Chop up some peanuts and cilantro (for garnish).
Crack a couple eggs and then beat 'em up!
 Throw your oil in the pan.
 Then saute your garlic and the white part of the scallions.
 Add in the egg and cook it for a little bit.
 Take the egg out and set it aside for now.
 Add the rice noodles into the pan (after you've drained them).
 Add in the green part of the scallions.
 Pour in the sauce.
 Mix it all up!:)
 Add the eggs back in and mix it all up!
 Plate it up and enjoy!:)

  • 8 ounces dried, wide and flat rice noodles (I found a 16 oz. package at the grocery store and just used half of the package. You should hopefully be able to find some in the Asian section of the grocery store.)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 squirt (about 1/8 teaspoon) Sriracha (Optional, but I'd recommend it! I used more than one squirt:)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, separated and thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large eggs, light beaten (Optional. I put eggs in, but I might skip it next time.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

  • Soak noodles according to package instructions. Drain.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and Sriracha. (The original blogger mentioned that some people preferred to double the sauce because the noodles don't come out very saucy otherwise. I added just a teeny bit more Sriracha and soy sauce, but I stuck pretty close to the original measurements. It's up to you if you want to make more sauce!)
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Add eggs and cook, scraping skillet with spatula until eggs are almost set (about 30 seconds). Transfer eggs to a plate.
  • Add noodles, scallion greens, and sauce to skillet. Cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are soft (about 1 minute). Add egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking eggs up gently.
  • Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with cilantro and peanuts.

That's it! Easy peasy! The recipe says it serves 4, which is about right because I ate it for four meals. If you can, I would encourage you to serve it for a few people and eat it all at once. While the flavor was pretty awesome even a couple days later, I found the noodles to be a bit tough when reheated. Not sure if I did something wrong or if that's just the nature of the noodles, but either way, I'd recommend this meal and will definitely make it again! Enjoy. :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Wedding Weekend!

A few weekends ago, a couple of my friends got married in the Milwaukee area. They are friends from La Crosse, so L and many of the people we are friends with were all slated to go to this wedding. It was nice for a few reasons: 1) Our friends were getting married; 2) A bunch of us who don't get to see each other that often were able to get together; and 3) I didn't have to travel out of town for it! :) L's sister T was the Maid of Honor for the wedding, and it was a Friday wedding, so the two of them came down from Madison on Wednesday night already. I took Thursday and Friday off with them being in town, so we were able to all have a nice, long weekend together! On Thursday, we went to lunch at St. Paul's Fish Company in the Milwaukee Public Market, and that evening, L and I got fancied up and went to Bryant's Cocktail Lounge. (Cool place!) Friday was the wedding, and Saturday we spent a good chunk of time at Barnacle Buds, one of L's favorite places in MKE, and then went with the crew to the Brewer game at the spur of the moment! A bunch of people from the wedding had committed to going to the game, but L and I originally opted out because we just wanted to spend the day relaxing and doing what we wanted. However, in spending time with a bunch of them at Barnacle Buds, we were just having a really good time, so we decided to go along, at the very least just to tailgate. A few of the people who had committed to the game weren't able to go, so there were extra tickets for us to go in as well. Worked out perfectly! Then on Sunday, one of our friend's parents live in Germantown and they have a pool, so a bunch of us went there to hang out for the afternoon. It was a total blast, minus the awkward tan lines I got that day. ;) Before you know it, the weekend was over, and it was back to reality. How sad! All I know is it was an amazing weekend, and I wish it didn't end. Fortunately, many of us will be reunited in MN in a couple of weeks for another friend's wedding, so I'm pretty pumped for that. Should be a great time!!! Stay tuned for pics from that. :)

L and T enjoying oysters at St. Paul's Fish Company!
L's lobster lunch!
My fish tacos! Yum!
Dressed up to go to Bryant's Cocktail Lounge. (The pearls I'm wearing are pearls that L got me in Hawaii!)
 Wedding day!
The bride and groom!:)
With some of the ladies at the wedding!
The next day at Barnacle Buds!
Barnacle's has a bloody mary bar. This is what they bring out to you so you can go make your own. How fun!
Tailgating at Miller Park!
So happy! :)
Trying a Leine's Original for the first time.
Eh, why not drink it at the same time I'm drinking a High Life?! ;)
I love this picture!! :)
Heading into the stadium!
Someone's flexible. ;)
Left Field Lounge! (This is where we spent a good portion of our day during the Brewer game over Memorial Day!)
Our seats!
Not really sure what the one shoe on, one shoe off thing was about. ;)
Happiness at the end of the night. ;)