Our Story

Monday, April 18, 2011

7 off/7 on

Sorry I've gotten behind on my blog updates.

Happenings of my first week off:
-Matthew and I watched Seasons 1 & 2 of Glee and are currently caught up and loving it. We own the albums now and jam out to them in the car.
- We celebrated our first month of marriage with a lovely early dinner at Cheesecake Factory. We just enjoyed our time talking and enjoying good food as well as playing Words with Friends against each other (one of our favorite pastimes). We probably look antisocial on our phones, but we were actually playing a game together.
- We did some exchanging and returns on gifts and I got my new red Kitchenaid mixer! I love it!

- I made some more good progress on thank-you notes. I promise everyone, they are coming! We do appreciate you all so much!
- I baked and cooked quite a bit. I'll put my recipes at the end of the post, so you can choose to view them if you're interested.
- Megan came over and we baked peanut butter cupcakes.

- We also bought a shredder, which doesn't sound exciting but we've wanted it for a long time. It makes a micro-cut for maximum security and ends up looking like confetti. It's fun to see the little shreds it makes. Also it will help us clear the clutter that we're longing to clear by shredding some of the papers we've been needing to shred.
- I got my haircut. I now have my bangs back and we cut off 5 inches. It feels so much more like me. I love it! Once I get a good photo of my hair I will post it.

Happenings of my week on:
-This week was overshadowed by the death of my cousin Joseph. He was in a car accident and will be dearly missed by the whole family. Please be praying for all of us, especially his wife, 8 year old daughter, 1 year old son, parents, and sister. It's hard to believe he's no longer with us. He cared for all of us so much and I know he'll be looking after us in Heaven. I love you Joseph. We miss you.

-It was a good week at work. I am getting more comfortable now that I'm out on my own and the group of ladies that I work with is so wonderful. I am certainly blessed.
-I also came home one night to lovely chocolate chocolate chip pound cake that Matthew had baked for me. Isn't he sweet? I posted two pictures. One so you can see the beautiful cake and one so you can see my lovely new cake stand (thank Bonjour family!) Matthew had also hung a lovely tile from Bronwyn and the Higgins side of the family with our new pot holders! I love it!

-I've also been enjoying to the Kindle Matthew gave me. It has the ability to read my books to me and so I plug it in to the adapter in my car and listen to my books on the way to and from work. I love it! The screen is very easy to read both inside and outside. It looks so much like an actual page. I can relax at home and read or take it out by the pool.

Now I'm back on my week off. We've been having lots of rain lately and so yesterday Matthew and I just pulled our lawn chairs out onto our patio area and just watched the rain. It was lovely!
We're looking forward to Easter with Matthew's side of the family. We take family photos at Easter, so I'll be posting those for you guys. Belated congratulations to Marty & Sherrye Johnson on 30 years of marriage. We love you!

Recipes-I'm typing these the way they appear on AllRecipes. I am including my edits at the bottom, so you can see the changes I made.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork

1 (16 ounce) can cranberry sauce
1/2 cup French salad dressing
1 onion, sliced
1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin roast
1. In a medium bowl, sitr togeth the cranberry sauce, salad dressing, and onion. Place pork in a slow cooker, and cover with the sauce mixture.
2. Cover, and cook on high for 4 hours, or on Low for 8 hours. Pork is done when it the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
*Jess's edits*
I added a spoonful or two of minced garlic as well as salt and pepper. Also, my slow cooker has a probe thermometer that measures the internal temperature, so the slow cooker heats up until the internal temperature of the meat reaches the desired temperature and then the slow cooker switches to warm mode, rather than potentially over cooking. I love this feature. It only took about 2-2 1/2 hours on high for me this way. It was very tender and flavorful. We served it with veggies and crescent rolls.

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Basil

1/4 cup olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package angel hair pasta
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pound large shrimp-peeled and deveined
2 (28 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chapped fresh basil
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook pasta according to package directions including a bit of olive oil to prevent from boiling over, and drain.
2. Heat remaining olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Do not let the garlic burn. Add shrimp, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove shrimp from the skillet and set aside.
3. Stir tomatoes, wine, parsley, and basil into the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until iquid is reduced by half, 8 to 12 minutes. Add shrimp, and continue cooking until the shrimp are heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the shrimp mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
*Jess's edits*
I actually made a lot of edits to this depending on what I had around. I also got my first lesson in deveining shrimp-not my favorite activity, but it certainly is good to know how to do it. I found tomatoes on sale and with a coupon that were crushed italian tomatoes with basil, so I used these and I suggest it, because the crushed texture naturally forms a sauce. I had parsley flakes rather than fresh parsley, so I used this and thought the basil from the tomatoes would carry. It didn't however and the sauce was basically just tomato at this point, so I searched my pantry and found-oregano, thyme, italian seasoning, garlic powder and more minced garlic. I have no measurements for this because I just started throwing it in and tasting as I went along. I do suggest having basil. It was the only thing I felt was missing, but it did come out great. The shrimp stays quite warm even in the bowl on the side so be careful not to overcook the shrimp. I felt putting in the warm sauce just brought it to the right temperature. I am quite proud actually that I made my own marinara (kind of) and I'm excited to do it again.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes (courtesy Martha Stewart)

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounce (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
2. Reduce speed to low. Mix any remaining wet ingredients (sour cream and vanilla) in a bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.*
4. Once cupcakes are cool, top with peanut butter frosting (see recipe). Place a dollop of jam in center of frosting. *Decorated cupcakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.
Yields 18 cupcakes.
*Jess's edits*
This recipe came with a recipe for peanut butter frosting as well, that I haven't tried yet. We topped them with either chocolate frosting or jelly (get it peanut butter and jelly?). It was really good. They came out with a great texture. Enjoy everyone.

I also tried a pot roast this week. That did not come out very tender, once I make some changes that work. I will let you know.

Love, Matthew and Jess

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