Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lemon Linguine

Pasta is one of my absolute favorite dishes. Whenever I dine out, my eyes find the pasta sections on the menu first. There are so many types of pastas, various sauces and numerous cheeses that there are truly endless combinations.

I have many favorites; gnocchi is at the very top of my list. This Lemon Linguine is right behind it.

The fact that I LOVE lemon is an understatement. And that is why this pasta dish is one of my favorite indulgences. The lemon-Parmesan-chives-sour cream combination is ideal.....and easy to throw together.

It's so simple it should be illegal. All of the ingredients are probably in your pantry right now, and it's almost a one-pot deal.

This pasta dish comes together so quickly, I advise you have all of the ingredients measured out and ready before starting.

Lemon Linguine

Serves 4-6

8 oz linguine
1/4 c minced onion
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter, melted
8 oz sour cream
4 Tbsp grated Parmesan, divided
1 Tbsp milk
1 3/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 lemon, zested + 1 Tbsp juice
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped chives

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm. In a skillet, cook onion and garlic in butter, stirring constantly until tender, not brown. Stir in sour cream, 2 Tbsp Parmesan, milk, seasonings, lemon juice and zest. Cook about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over linguine. Toss gently, adding parsley, chives and remaining cheese. Serve warm.

*NOTE: Mr. B likes his with caramelized onions and mushrooms.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Sweets

Every other Sunday I like to post a blog sharing my favorite finds from around the Internet and current obsessions.

What I Had For Breakfast Today: Strawberry Peanut Butter Toasted Bagel Thin and a tall Americano :)

Sweet Must-Have For My Future Home: A coffee and tea bar in the dining room. Great way to clear up counter space. This is definitely a must!!!

Sweet Mouth-Watering Dish: Slow Cooker Parmesan and Honey Pork Roast. YUM.

Sweet Health Tip: This is great to know for when the cravings hit.

Sweet Hair: Love this braid! Check out this site for more hair tips.

Favorite Photography: LOVE everything about this photo. The hair, the black and white, and the pattern contrasts.

Sweet Library Story Time Idea: A picture puzzle using wooden popsicle sticks!

Daily Inspiration: I need to write a few of the verses out and keep them in my purse!

Sweet Want Right Now Dish: This Nectarine Pizza with Basil and Balsamic looks mouth-watering!

Favorite Fashion Find: This would be perfect for work :)

Sweet "I Want!": I'd love to have this for the Indians games!

Daily Smile: Haha, so true!
Daily Laugh-Out-Loud: I had to share this one, too!

Sweet Do-It-Yourself Find: Turning an old dresser into an island for the kitchen. And I love the color! I need to get Daddy to make me one....for one day when I do have a kitchen big enough to need an island.

Favorite Find EVERYBODY Should Know: Grammar. Learn it. Know it. USE IT!

Favorite Must-Make-Soon Sweet: Check out this color! Creamy Blackberry Frozen Yogurt

Sweet Craft Idea: Print out maps of where you met, married and now live.

Current Obsessions: Pistol Annie's "Hell on Heels" video. These girls are so freaking cute!

Best Day Brightener: I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!  --Psalm 116:1-2

Check out my other Sunday Sweets!
Sunday Sweets #1-5
Sunday Sweets #6
Sunday Sweets #7

Was there something you came across this week and just have to share?

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Skillet Potatoes and My Ash Wednesday

It's Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Even though I am not Catholic, I always observe Lent. Because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me, I feel I must respond and acknowledge this with a sacrifice of my own.

"Yet even now," said the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Turn to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.   --Joel 2: 12-13

Last year I gave up bread. I thought it was going to be challenging, but I was wrong. Every once in a while my craving for a sandwich, homemade biscuits or Subway's BLT on flatbread would hit. When these moments came, I turned to God's Word. I found strength in His promises. He said we shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Luke 4:4). For me, this was actually literal last year. I was able to understand my craving, turn to Scripture, understand why I was making this sacrifice and meditate on it.

As I've mentioned before, when I sacrifice or fast as a Christian, I draw closer to the Lord when doing so. If not, I guess I feel I'm not truly sacrificing in my faith. When I take something away, I need to turn to my Lord instead. I know this is something I should be doing always: Putting the lord first in everything I do. But I'm human. I live in the flesh. I live in a fallen world and I cannot do this always. By observing Lent and making this small sacrifice, I am finding someway to humble myself.

This year I've decided to abstain from all meat but poultry. This includes that beautiful bacon you see below.

I made this decision as a way to keep a healthier lifestyle. On the days when Mr. B indulges in a steak, hamburger, or bacon slices, I plan to fill my plate with more natural foods, like veggies, fruits and grains.

In order to prepare myself for this small sacrifice, I did my own indulging in this potato skillet dish over the weekend. Skillet-fried potatoes slathered in cheddar cheese and crispy bacon.....I stuffed myself full.
Skillet Potatoes with Bacon & Cheddar

Serves 6-8

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, crispy and chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
scallions and plain Greek yogurt to garnish

Heat a large skillet over medium-high, cooking onions in 3 Tbsp oil, about 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and cover. Cook on medium-low heat 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring often. (Cooking time varies depending on thinness of potatoes.) Sprinkle cheese and bacon pieces on top. Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add garnishes and serve.

In case you're at a lost this Lenten observation, check out these blog posts for creative ideas on what to give up (or add), or for more insight: Reflection: Lent, 33 Things to Give Up for Lent, 25 Creative Ideas, Yoga Thoughts on Lent, Welcoming Ash Wednesday.

Are you observing Lent? If so, what are you giving up or adding?

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What I'm Reading

This month for the Ladies and Literature Book Club I'm reading Outlander. I had never heard of this series until I saw it on Good Reads. Apparently the eighth book is coming out this year, and there's rumors of a movie premiering next year. I talked to a few co-workers about the book and they just couldn't believe I had never read it. "It will change your life!" one co-worker exclaimed.
I don't know about life-changing, but it's a book I'd recommend reading. After WWII, the main character, Claire, is vacationing with her husband. One day she touches some ancient rocks and ends up lost in The Highlands of 1774. The attention to historical detail is phenomenal. It took a little while to get into the book, but pretty soon I was lost in The Highlands myself. Other than the numerous "passion" scenes (which I tended to skim over) I was thoroughly intrigued, and I am now reading the second book in the series, Dragonfly In Amber.

A Wrinkle In Time
This is the next read for my Book Club. We chose to read the whole five-book children's series by our next meeting in April. I finished the first installment and I found it not as enjoyable as I did when I first read it in 6th grade. I think it's because I'm an adult now and I need more of an explanation. The book ends quickly, with no reason to why things happened. I need to know! That's the problem with being an adult and needing to know the whys and logic of everything. I'll be starting the second book soon, and I've been told the books get stranger and stranger.....

For my own pleasure....

Anne of Green Gables
I just adore Anne! (with an "e" please.) I cannot wait to read the rest of the series (there's 8 books total) and watch Anne's life take shape. This series is a favorite of one of my best friend's and she has told me over and over again that I should read it. Now, I'm devastated that I missed out on this great character and wonderful classic as a child! A series every little girl should know! *However my friend was kind enough to tell me to have a box of tissues nearby.....a box for each book.

The Help
I'm still not completely sure on this book. I am about a quarter of the way through and keep fighting the urge to stop reading. I can't put my finger on it, but I don't know what it is that I don't like. It's not the subject matter because that's what inspired me to read it. Maybe it's all the hype....the style it's written in....the lack of concrete images....I'm not sure. But I'm really struggling to get through it, mainly so I can watch the movie and compare the two. I know if I put this book down I'm never going to pick it up again.

Have you read and good books lately? Share your good reads in the comments!

With Love and God Bless,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chicken & Wild Rice Salad

During the weekends, I make sure to set aside time to prepare my meals for the work week. This semester has challenged me a little because I'm working longer shifts so I could have more days off, which means I not only eat lunch at work, I'm also eating dinner. My weekend preparations are a little more in-depth, but it saves me a lot of time and money throughout the week.

I tend to be a health nut and I like to know what goes into my food. As I mentioned many times previously, Mr. B and I are not fans of eating out/fast food. And although it would be easier to order out for dinner, along with my co-workers, it's harder on my wallet and my health.

For my lunches and dinners throughout the week, I rely on big batches of soups and salads to get me through. They're quick, and since Mr. B doesn't like them, they give me plenty of meals. Although I've come a long way, my husband is still a picky eater. Unfortunately, he dislikes many of my favorites, like peanut butter, peas, couscous, carrots, pasta salads, cream cheese, nuts, soups...and cheesecake. So I take these opportunities to make the meals I love.

This Chicken and Wild Rice Salad is a staple in my work-meals repertoire.

It primarily consists of everything my husband dislikes: carrots, celery, dried cranberries and almonds. And it's best eaten cold. This salad makes huge portions, perfect for my weekly lunch or dinner.

Chicken & Wild Rice Salad

Serves 6

1/4 c white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 c chicken broth
1 1/2 c uncooked wild rice
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 c chopped celery
1/2 c shredded carrots
1/3 cried cranberries
1/4 c chopped almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp minced red onion

Combine the first five ingredients in medium bowl, Gradually add oil, whisking until well blended. Cover dressing and chill. Meanwhile, combine broth, rice and butter in medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. (The time can vary depending on the rice you use.) Remove rice mix from heat; cool. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook eight minutes on each side until done. Cool; cut into 1/2" cubes Combine cooked rice, chicken, celery, carrots, cranberries, almonds and onion in large bowl. Add dressing; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

*NOTE: Salad will keep in refrigerator for several days.

**NOTE: This salad can easily be made vegetarian. Omit the chicken and use a vegetable broth instead. (I actually had a vegetarian co-worker tell me that my salad looked amazing.) Yes, it's that amazing.

Nutritional Information
Per serving: Calories 352; Fat 10; Carbs 40; Fiber 4; Protein 25

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I woke up to this today.
M. B knows me all too well. I was giddy as I put the flower in water, full of tears as I read the card, and promptly donned the soft puppy as Patches. Mr. B rolled his eyes when I said Patches was going on our bed. He said we have too many; I told him it's his fault because he bought me all of them.

I've always loved Valentine's Day.

Maybe it's because I've always had a Valentine.

My very first Valentine was Mama. Once February hit, and we started making our Valentine mailboxes at school, I anticipated the holiday balloons that would greet me when I'd come home from school that day. I loved those heart-shaped balloons! I also enjoyed the Valentine's card my grandparents would send me in the mail. I'm happy, that as I've grown up and married, the cards haven't stopped. I just opened my card from my grandparents this morning.

I love getting valentines and chocolates from my girl friends. Who says Valentine's Day is only Valentine's Day when you have a significant other? It's important to show everyone you love love on Valentine's Day!

And I have just the thing to kick-start your day of LOVE.

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls.

Wake up your sweetie with smells of butter and cinnamon. Treat your co-workers to a scrumptious breakfast. Or have this for dessert after a family dinner.
These are amazing! With cinnamon, butter, vanilla, warm bread and cream cheese icing, how can you not love? I love making cinnamon rolls on the weekend, and while Pillsbury's with the orange icing will always be my favorite, I like to create my own versions. (I also like to create fun food presentations!)

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

Serving size depends. (Don't ask me how I know this, but it could serve 1...but not highly recommended)

1 pkg refrigerated crescent rolls
1/4 c butter
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz Neufchatel cream cheese

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Cream butter with cinnamon and vanilla until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll out the crescent dough, making sure to seal the seams. Spread as little or as much butter mixture on dough. (Make sure to leave some left over for the topping!) Roll dough into a log and cut into 15 slices. Arrange rolls on baking sheet as follows (working from bottom of heart up): 1 roll, 2 rolls on top of that, 3 rolls..., 4 rolls..., 4 rolls split (2 on each side forming top of heart). Then cut the last roll in half, placing each half on top to round out the heart.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter mixture in a pan over medium heat. Add cream cheese, whisking until smooth. Slather Drizzle on top of warm rolls.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Sweets

Every other Sunday I like to post a blog sharing my favorite finds from around the Internet and current obsessions.

What I Had For Breakfast Today: Fiber One Cereal Caramel Delight. I added half a banana and a sprinkle of flax seed meal. Very seldom do I actually eat cold cereal, and when I do I eat this....or my Luckies, of course.
Sweet "I Want!": These Airwalks look unbelievably comfortable! I WANT. And they're only $27 at Payless.

Sweet Photography: Love everything about this outfit against this dreary day.

Sweet Must-Have For My Future Home: I would have loved this as a child!!! A children's books library!

Daily Inspiration: Sometimes God is silent, giving us the chance to draw nearer to Him.

Sweet Entertaining Idea: I really like the idea of dessert skewers for parties. This angel food cake and strawberry one would be perfect for a brunch or bridal/baby shower!

Sweet Library Story Time Idea: Handprint Calendar. This would be great for kids to do throughout the year and give it as a gift to their parents at Christmas for the next year. They can see how much their hands have grown!

Sweet Tip for the Kitchen: Volume conversions! Printing this out and hanging it on my useful.

Favorite Must-Make-Soon Sweet: Avocado Ice Cream. Enough said.

Sweet Do-It-Yourself Find: Chalkboard Serving Platter! I want to do this NOW!

Favorite Mouth-Watering Dish: Jessica never ceases to amaze me with her mouth-watering dishes. Crunchy Oven-Fried Cheese Ravioli!

Favorite Fashion Find: Stumbled across this dress on Pinterest. This color is GORGEOUS!

Sweet Craft Idea: Why does this always happen?!!! This is a fun idea for the laundry room.

Best Day Brightener: You are God's created beauty and the focus of His affection and delight.  --Janet L. Weaver Smith

Sweet Whitney Moment: "I'm Every Woman" was my favorite song of hers. Mama and I used to blast it in the car. We had the single on cassette. (Rest in peace, Whitney.)

Check out my other Sunday Sweets!
Sunday Sweets #1-5
Sunday Sweets #6

Was there something you came across this week and just have to share?

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dishes Around the Blog World

How Sweet It Is. Dashing Dish. Iowa Girl Eats. My Baking Addiction.

Espresso and Cream. Eat, Live, Run. Yes, I Want Cake.

And of course, The Pioneer Woman.

These are my absolute favorite food blogs. I've been known to spend hours skimming their posts for delicious dinner ideas. I love the mixture of healthy, decadent, hearty and classic recipes that I find on these sites.

[If you aren't familiar with these blogs, check these ladies out!]

I enjoy my fellow bloggers so much, and I am constantly inspired to create their mouth-watering recipes or use them as inspiration. So, without further ado, here are a few of the dishes I'd like to serve at my table in the near future:

Blackberry Jam from Yes, I Want Cake. Mr. B and I have been eating blackberries like crazy....probably because they're dirt cheap at our grocery store and we keep buying them in utter amazement. I'm sure the price will jump soon, but I'm hoping to make this before it does!

Asian Chicken Salad from Dashing Dish. I need a new work-lunch salad, and this looks amazingly delicious.

Meyer Lemon Strawberry Muffins from My Baking Addiction. I have to get me some of these lemons!

Almond Milk Ice Cream from Espresso and Cream. I've been craving almond milk lately, and besides cooking my oatmeal in it, this would be a great way to use it.

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries from The Pioneer Woman. I'm obsessed with a huge fan of Ree, and I'm in love her Food Network show!! And I can't wait for her new cookbook!

Creamy Tuscan White Bean Pasta from How Sweet It Is. Just look at that creamy goodness. Mouth-watering.

Gnocchi with Fresh Arugula Walnut Pesto from Eat, Live, Run. Gnocchi is my absolute favorite Italian dish. It's a must on my "last meal" menu [although I love food so much I have to have a "last day" menu].

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches from Iowa Girl Eats. I have these ingredients, and it would be perfect for an easy lunch for work.

Have you found any recipes from your favorite food blogs that you must try ASAP? Share them in the comments below!

With Love and God Bless,