beef jerky & dog treats.

Shane purchased a food dehydrator back before Christmas, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it. However, with planned family visits, running, and general holiday chaos, I  decided I needed to wait until I had some spare brain power before I went sucking the moisture out of things.

Yesterday, I worked from home and decided to tackle my first batch of beef jerky. It’s amazing the kind of time you have when you don’t have to get ready for work, drive to work, drive home from work, or cook dinner. (Shane had to fend for himself with the leftovers in the fridge).

Our dehydrator is a Sedona Raw Food Dehydrator. It can operate fully with 9 trays, or only use half the machine for 4 trays. I thought that was kind of a nice feature since I was only using 3 trays for my jerky.

I spent a couple of minutes searching Pinterest for jerky recipes, but I couldn’t really find a winner. I decided to make my own marinade, use a flank steak that had been living in the freezer for a month or so, and go from there.

jerky

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. flank steak, cleaned of fat and sliced into thin strips
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • .5 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

After cleaning the meat and slicing it in thin strips, I let it rest in a bowl of the marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge. If I had planned better, I would have soaked it over night. But I really wanted jerky last night, so I rushed it.

From there, I pulled the strips out onto paper towels and patted the meat dry to prevent any dripping in the machine. Then I laid the strips on the trays evenly and inserted them into the machine. I set it at 155*F for 6 hours.

The final product is amazing. So much better than store-bought jerky. I could never get over the weird sweet taste of the prepackaged stuff from convenience stores. I would always make myself eat it for a quick burst of protein after a run, but man, oh man. This homemade stuff if amazing.

Hunter also got a treat. I found this homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog treat recipe from Damn Delicious. Every single recipe I’ve tried from her website has been wonderful. Most of my go-to recipes are Damn Delicious recipes – one-pot garlic parmesan pasta, beef and broccoli, and the crab artichoke dip are my all-time favorites. 

Hunter absolutely loved the homemade treats and they were significantly cheaper than buying a small bag of beggin’ strips or meaty bones. I got about 22 gingerbread men (the only cookie cutter I had on hand) out of one batch of dough. I guessitimated a half of peanut butter pumpkin man is a serving size for him (he’s a 70 pound Husky), so almost 50 treats from about $4 of ingredients. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Happy Friday, y’all. If I get through my 9 mile run tomorrow, I get to go see Wicked! 😛

halloday weekends.

Last week, I wrote in my journal (and almost wrote a post here) about how everything seems to be a mad dash towards the end of the year the second Halloween is over. As much as I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, it makes me anxious to know that yet another year is behind me. I start getting all existential and wondering what exactly I have accomplished. This weekend cured me of that – well except for my brief terrible mood on Saturday from 1:30-2:30. We won’t talk about that.

Friday, I ran up to Virginia and surprised my mom. We spent 3 hours and $427 in Hobby Lobby purchasing a Christmas tree, ornaments, and every other masculine Christmas thing we could find for Shane’s house. I’m chomping at the bit to get that tree up. Meep.

Friday night, Shane and I passed out candy to a handful of trick-or-treaters. He dressed as a really hairy man wearing pajama overalls, while I put on his big bad wolf mask. It really is unfortunate that we have a huge pumpkin full of candy left. I mean, I really hate that I have the task of eating Twizzlers and Sweetarts for the remainder of this week…

Saturday night, we fixed a pizza since it was a little too cold and rainy to go out or grill. That’s why I’m writing this post. We made a chicken alfredo pizza and it was the best pizza I have ever had. Man, oh man. I kinda want it again tonight.

Cast of characters:

  • 1 homemade pizza crust
  • 1 jar of alfredo sauce (or make your own – I was feeling a bit lazy)
  • 1 package of Sargento Italian Cheese shredded mix
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 package chicken tenderloins
  • 1 package of center cut bacon
  • 1 block of parmesan cheese
  • baby spinach leaves
  • lemon pepper spice
  • garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, minced

alfredo pizza(That is a terrible photo of pizza…I’m sorry)

Step 1: Throw the chicken tenderloins in a greased pan. Sprinkle some lemon pepper and garlic salt on them. Remove when cooked through. Slice in thin pieces.

Step 2: Cook bacon in the microwave until almost done. Chop it little pieces.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 475*

Step 4: Roll out dough on pizza pan. Cover dough with a mixture of melted butter and minced garlic

Step 5: Spread out alfredo sauce on dough. Sprinkle some cheese on there. Add chicken, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach leaves. Cover with more cheese.

Step 6: Bake for 16 minutes.

Step 7: Slice and grate some fresh parmesan cheese on top.

Yum!

sunday night supper.

First, let me apologize for not having any photos of this amazing feat I’m about to tell you about. I was far too excited to stop to find a camera.

Last night I decided I would cook dinner for the boy and his dad, who’s in town visiting. I decided to cook salmon, brown rice, and some left over asparagus we had left over from earlier in the week. That’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is I managed to time everything to finish within 2 minutes of each other and nothing was under or over cooked. That has never happened to me before. ever.

The salmon was sweet and spicy – glazed with a mixture of sriracha, lime juice, and brown sugar. Then I popped it in the oven for 16 minutes. The asparagus was cooked on high heat on the stove in one cup of water for 5 minutes, then coated in a tablespoon of butter, garlic salt and some parmesan cheese. The brown rice was just brown rice – nothing special.

Here’s to celebrating life’s little accomplishments (and a sleepy dog)!

hunterman

 

black & blue.

For those of you who were a fan of the Backstreet Boys, you’re going to be disappointed by this post. It is not going to discuss the noteworthy 2000 album. It is, however, going to tell you how to make the best salad known to man. And that’s coming from someone who refers to vegetables as rabbit food.

Why is it called black & blue? Well because it has steak (black) and blue cheese! Yum!

rabbit food
This isn’t the salad this post is about. I was too hungry to snap a photo last night. This was today’s lunch. #sorrynotsorry

Here’s the cast of characters:

spinach, or your choice of lettuce
1/4 cup red onion slices
10 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles 
1 slab of london broil, marinated in mesquite marinade mix
1/2 cup of Annie’s Naturals Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette

Basically, I prepared the salad while the boy pan-fried the london broil. Man, he can cook a mean london broil. The trick is to not overcook it. Since it’s such a cheap piece of meat (hey – everyone has to ball on a budget from time to time), you have to leave some pink in the middle or it’ll taste like shoestrings according to Shane.

Once everything was mixed together, I laid thinly sliced pieces of steak on top of the salad and viola! It was amazing! The sweetness of the vinaigrette complimented the spiciness of the mesquite. I will definitely fix it again!

Word of warning – be careful implementing spinach into your diet if you aren’t a big herbivore (rawr). While it’s full of yummy goodness and is low-cal, it is known to cause bloating, gas, and uncomfortable moments between you and your boyfriend on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars. Yes, we watched Dancing with the Stars and yes, I sang along when they danced to Let it Go from Frozen.

Oh, & for you disappointed BSB fans, don’t say I never gave you anything:

pepperoni rolls.

I think the boyfriend’s West Virginia-ness has rubbed off on me a little bit. The first time I went up to see his family, we were at his dad’s house and he offered me a pepperoni roll. Now I wasn’t hungry at the time, so I declined and used my deductive reasoning skills to figure out that it was bread and pepperoni. Apparently, they are a big deal in West Virginia. Shane told me he didn’t realize they were just a WV thing until he moved out West and couldn’t find them anywhere.

Fast forward a few months and I decided I would attempt to make them one weekend when I was going to Virginia. Well now I can’t stop. They’re so addicting! Seriously, don’t make these. You’ll regret it.

Ingredients:

  • Bridgford Parkerhouse Style Roll Dough (located in the freezer section)
  • Deli sliced pepperoni
  • Will power & self control

Instructions:

  1. Let the roll dough thaw and rise following the instructions on the bag
  2. Flatten out the balls of dough
  3. Put a whole slice of pepperoni in the center and roll close
  4. Bake at 375 for 13 minutes

Per roll; calories 106, carbs 15 g, fat 4 g, protein 3 g, sodium 236 mg, sugars 2 g

For extra spicy goodness, I make half of them with pepperjack cheese.

Oh, and this is Henry when he’s not being disgusting:

henry!

spicy.

The boyfriend likes pad thai…at least that’s what he keeps telling me. I mean I’ve only seen him order it like twice in the past four months, but whatevs. Who am I to judge?

Being that he has an affinity for spicy noodles, I decided to make spicy thai noodles. Now I used that recipe as a guideline and I added chicken.

Photo Dec 09, 7 54 18 PM

The Line-Up:

  • Sesame Oil
  • Crushed, red pepper flakes
  • Honey
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice noodles
  • Chicken breasts

Step 1 – Cut up your chicken breast and cook it in a medium sized skillet on the stove. Or if you’re like me and didn’t decide to have chicken until an hour before dinner, defrost it for a good 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Bring water to a boil and boil your noodles. This was my first experience with rice noodles and I can’t say I’m an expert at it.

Step 3 – Heat sesame oil and red pepper flakes (1-2 tbsp to taste) over medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Step 4 – Strain the pepper flakes out of the oil and whisk equal parts honey and soy sauce into the oil. I used 2 tablespoons in my little batch, 3 tablespoons in boyfriend’s.

Step 5 – Mix sauce, noodles, and chicken together.

Hunter

 

Mine was perfect – and I think Hunter was willing to do anything for a taste.

Shrimpies!

Inspired by the fact that the Pioneer Woman calls shrimp “shrimpies” like me, I decided to throw caution to the wind and to make her shrimpie quesadillas. I had a sick boyfriend on my hands and lots of groceries due to the fact that we are trying to be more contentious about going out to eat, so I picked up some NyQuil for the boy and went home to cook!

Photo Nov 14, 6 17 52 PM

Her recipe is quite easy, and the only trouble I ran into was the flipping of the quesadilla but I remedied that by making half quesadillas at a time. I adapted it slightly to use what I had on hand.

Cast of characters:

  • 1 bag of peeled, deveined frozen shrimpies, thawed
  • 1 can of enchilada (red) sauce
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • mexican blend shredded cheese
  • whole wheat flour tortillas
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • olive oil

Now for the schedule of events:

  1. Thawed the shrimpies and threw them in a bowl with the enchilada sauce
  2. Chopped up the onion and green pepper
  3. Laughed at the boy who was wandering around my apartment in my leopard print Snuggie that was held together in the back with chip clips
  4. Threw some olive oil in a skillet and turn it on high until it was smoking
  5. Threw the veggies in the skillet – disclaimer: do this carefully or you’ll burn yourself with hot oil splatters. Heed my advice.
  6. Cooked them briefly until they turned brown/black
  7. Removed them from the skillet and set aside
  8. Threw shrimpies into skillet and cooked until they became opaque
  9. Removed them and chopped them into smaller pieces
  10. Added butter to the skillet and added a tortilla
  11. Placed shredded cheese, veggies and shrimpies on of the tortilla (and then added more cheese)
  12. Placed a second tortilla on top and flipped

And BAM! There’s a tasty shrimp quesadilla waiting to be smothered in sour cream and salsa.

Photo Nov 14, 6 37 59 PM

 

 

Zombie Survival Kit!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started seeing a new fella – the one who likes zombies. Well his birthday is today and I wanted to do something special for him. Being that we haven’t known each other too long and I’m known for going overboard, I decided to pick a silly idea and run with it. Thus, the zombie survival kit was born!

zombie 1What exactly is a zombie survival kit, you ask? A zombie survival kit includes all the things one would need in case of a zombie apocalypse. It contains fuel, rations, first aid, guide book, and if all else fails…condiments for your first meal of brrrraaaaiiinns.

This one had:

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
Twinkies
Beef Jerky
5 Hour Energy Shots
Granola bars
Zombie repellent (insect repellent)
Ghost chili hot sauce

zombie 2 He was pretty impressed by the creativity and said his new survival guide was going in the Zombie Jeep when he brings it back from West Virginia. Oh, boy.

He also loves banana pudding, so I made a compromise and told him if he cooked dinner last night, I would provide dessert.

banana pudding

I used:

1 package of Nilla Wafers
.75 package of French Vanilla pudding
.5 package of cream cheese
1 cup milk
.5 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 container of frozen, lite cool whip (thawed)
3 bananas

I covered the bottom of a glass dish with nilla wafers and slices of bananas. Then I mixed the milk and pudding mix in a small bowl until it was well blended (and resembled egg yolks). Using a separate bowl, I mixed the cream cheese and condensed milk together and then added the cool whip to it. Then I combined the two wet mixtures together and poured them over the wafers and bananas. I crushed the leftover wafers into powder and used them as sprinkles on top.

“On a scale of 10, I give it a 10/10 for presentation and a 11/10 for taste.” -birthday boy, after inhaling two servings

Happy Monday!

leah

 

I heart food.

I like food. I really like food. So much so that that’s all I’m going to talk about today.

I spent this past Saturday morning at Aldi, where I bought two of everything for my one person household. In hindsight, I should have gone to the Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, but it was raining and super muggy. I bought  two bags of grapes, two containers of strawberries, two different kinds of bread and even two packages of mini Babybel cheeses. This probably had a lot to do with the fact I hadn’t had breakfast. Never shop when you’re hungry.

Anyway, I decided to try the fruit cleaning trick I’ve been seeing floating around on Pinterest and Facebook. 1 bowl (or sink in my case) of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 15 minutes to soak.

fruits!

I should have taken a picture of the “after” water. It was gross and grimy, but my fruit now sparkles and shines. I would definitely recommend doing this. I used it on my veggies as well. It also forces you to store everything properly instead of just leaving the plastic strawberry boxes half-opened in the fridge.

After a much-needed nap, I decided to make some parmesan garlic knots for dinner. I took a can of Pillsbury breadstick dough and balled each individual stick of dough into a ball. (Frozen dinner rolls – thawed – would work well, too). I melted half a stick of butter in the microwave with a half teaspoon of onion powder and teaspoon of garlic salt. From there, I dipped the balls of dough into the butter mixture and plopped them into a disposable aluminum foil baking pan. I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and tossed it into the oven for about 25 minutes. Yum!

noms

Now that I’ve thoroughly made myself hungry, I’m going to go watch the clock until it’s time for lunch at the Taco Trailer. Happy Taco Tuesday, everyone!

Flat cakes!

I thought that my porch would be my favorite thing about the new apartment, but my kitchen takes the cake! It has so much room and I don’t feel boxed in. I have space to leave Kevin the Kitchen-Aid out all of the time; and finally, every little utensil has found a home. Needless to say, I jump at any opportunity to spend time in there.

Sunday night I had to whip up a cake for a work social. I picked out a recipe, pulled on my apron and got to work! I sent this to Sarah since we bought matching aprons in NYC – she told me to make sure the pages weren’t stuck together in the cookbook. I love friends who love Friends as much as I do!

Central Perk

I decided to make a devil food’s cake with oreo and cream cheese filling. I whipped up the cake batter and decided to try a trick I read about on Pinterest. It said that if you wrapped your cake pans in wet towels while in the oven, your cakes wouldn’t dome/would be perfectly flat. Being that the domed cake is my arch-nemesis, I decided to give it a shot. I cut up an old (clean!) dish rag and soaked it for a few minutes. Then I wrung the strips I had cut out and wrapped them around the two cake pans I had. I secured the towels with safety pins. From there, I put the round cake pans onto cookie sheets just to prevent the towels from sticking to the oven rack. See below for details.

Photo Jun 16, 7 13 42 PM

Thirty minutes later, I pulled out my cakes and it worked! I had two beautiful and perfect cakes. I plopped them onto a cooling rack and mixed up the cream cheese and oreo filling (14 oreos, 1 8-oz cream cheese bar, 2 cups of cool whip, and 1/2 cup sugar). I was so proud of my flat cakes that I think I snapchatted and texted everyone I knew who would care.

Photo Jun 16, 7 53 48 PM (1)

The cake got rave reviews. I’m still hearing about it today. One person referred to it as the “chocolate wonder of death” and someone else said they would have paid big time to have the same cake in a restaurant. You’ve got to celebrate life’s little successes every now and then. 🙂

Photo Jun 16, 8 11 22 PM