Sunday, April 28, 2013

Try-It Laterday: Lighter Sesame Chicken.

And the Asian food streak continues... I actually made this recipe on Monday night but have been a bit busy so I haven't had a chance to post about it until now. I also think the delay was due to the fact that I wasn't that excited about how it turned out so I wasn't dying to tell you about it like I normally am.

Anyway, I was craving Asian food, as always, and I remembered this recipe that I tried a few months ago for Iowa Girl Eats' Lighter Sesame Chicken. It was alright the first time I made it, but I was pretty convinced that I had done something wrong because her picture looked so much better than mine looked or tasted. It had to have been me that was the problem. So I tried it again on Monday, following the recipe perfectly... and it was still a flop. Well, not a flop, but far from a hit and I probably wouldn't try it a third time to see if it magically becomes amazing.

If you really like mediocre, semi-healthy (it's not even that healthy) Asian recipes... this one's for you.

Lighter Sesame Chicken.

(Now you know why I wasn't raring to tell you about this one... But I figured I have to stay true to Try-It Tuesdays and post even when it's not a hit.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Autocorrect, Bowties, Candles, and More...

Confession: I've been kind of grumpy this week... hence the lack of blogging. It's been cold and rainy. There's a lot going on at work. And today is my ex-boyfriend's birthday which strangely and unfortunately put me in a funk. Those are all lame excuses though. Life is good. I have a wonderful family. I have a good job. I have a great house with great roommates. I go to an awesome church that provides awesome community. And Jesus loves me. I really can't complain. For the sake of staying positive and focusing on the good, rather than wallowing in my situation (which isn't even that bad), I've decided to blog about some things that have made me smile lately.

I did a pretty hefty cleaning of my room, bathroom, and closet today. Man, does it feel good when it is finished... I walked in to my clean room this afternoon to find our cat Bigsby enjoying it as well. Basking in the sun (which has finally decided to show its face after days of hiding) next to my lovely floral chair and lovely mustard blanket. What a life... (above)

My dad and I met up earlier this week to exchange cars because he is the best dad in the world and volunteered (yes, volunteered, he really is the greatest) to take my car to the shop for me. After we met up this exchange went down. Gotta love autocorrect...

My friend Jessie sent me this picture of her son Eli a few weeks ago. They were trying to decide what he was going to wear for Easter. His face is classic and I love the little guy so he is now the first thing I see when turning on my phone. It makes me smile just about every time.

Even though the weather has been gross all week, I decided to not let it hinder my desire to welcome Spring with open arms. So I wore these cute coral flats one day. It was too cold for them... but I didn't care.

I happened upon this blog Gimme Some Oven and I love it. I was reading it and then realized that the bloggers are from Kansas City! I'M from Kansas City! One of the many many reasons I love this blog. (I'm also 99% convinced that the main blogger should marry my brother. I'll keep you posted on any updates.)

I made some pretty cupcakes the other day. Pretty cupcakes make me happy. Chocolate cupcakes, peanut butter filling, chocolate frosting, and a Reese's on top. My co-worker paid me $30 bucks for a dozen of them... fingers crossed that they didn't disappoint.

I mentioned that I went to World Market the other day to pick up some garam masala. It's a miracle that I came out with only one unnecessary purchase... this candle. The scent? "Sandalwood." (Whatever that is...) But I love it.

That's it for now. Keep smiling...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Chicken Tikka Masala.

(Yes, I do realize all of my meals have been chicken and rice lately. I make the rules, folks.)

Confession: I made this recipe on Monday... not Tuesday. I had every intention of making it on Tuesday, but I bought the ingredients on Monday and got so excited that I couldn't wait until the following day so I made it a day early. I'm glad I didn't wait. I'm glad that I can have one extra day of knowing this recipe is out there in the world. I'm glad I'm going to bed with Chicken Tikka Masala in my tummy. I'm glad you read this blog even when I'm ridiculous. I'm just glad.

Chicken Tikka Masala. What in the world is that? Well, it's an Indian dish. It's basically chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. And guess what... I found it on Skinnytaste which means it's healthy! I seriously found myself smiling while making this recipe. Everything came together just how I wanted it to and it made me happy. I thought to myself, "If someone comes in the kitchen and finds you smiling at your pan what are you going to tell them? ... 'I just really like the way this sauce.' ... 'Ok, Abby... you and your sauce have a good time.'" Anyway... there are a couple of weird ingredients in this one: garam masala and turmeric. I had to go to World Market to find them. But if you have an excuse you have to go to World Market, I say take it. I love that place. It's worth the trip. And the ingredients are worth the purchase. This stuff is good.

I'm wordy tonight. Let me sum it up for you... This meal contains 5 things that I love: 1. Chicken. 2. Rice. 3. Spunk - it's Indian (kind of, apparently it's actually British but it's one of the most popular dishes served in Indian restaurants in the States.) 4. Healthiness. 5. Smiles (Ok, maybe the last one's just me.) Check out Skinnytaste. Check out this recipe.

Skinny Chicken Tikka Masala

(Her beautiful picture... Someday, maybe someday, I will learn how to take pretty pictures, too.)

It'll make you smile. I guarantee it. (Said like the man in the Men's Warehouse commercials.)

(Shout out to my friend Jessie. You told me about this recipe. This posted wouldn't have been possible without you, my friend.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Secret Garden.

(An appropriate quote that I saw yesterday on none other than... Pinterest.)

No... this post is not going to be about that sort of creepy garden movie that came out with I was 6. Sorry to get your hopes up. I was just looking for a catchy title.

I'm actually talking about my garden! I moved in to my house in August - so that's right in the middle of the midwest heatwave where basically everything that is normally green is extremely thirsty and dying. I remember when we moved in my aunt Charlotte saying, "It looks like someone put a lot of work into this yard at one point." It looked pretty rough at that point in time so I didn't think much of it.

Until a few weeks ago... the garden started to sprout! I don't know why, but for some reason I didn't think about the fact that a lot of flowers come back year after year. So we're going to have flowers! Hooray! The exciting part is that I have no idea what these are going to look like. What color they'll be. What kind they are. If they'll last a long time or just a little while. I don't know. It's pretty exciting... I can't wait to see what they are.

Oh don't you worry... I'll keep you posted.
(Yes... the garden still needs a lot a work but a little 
green in some dirt is better than just dirt. Right? Right!)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: A Medley.

(Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken.)

I've tried quite a few recipes this past week. With trying to eat healthier these days I have been eating at home more and out less. This is good both for my waistline and my wallet - funny how that works. I tried a recipe out last night that was good... but not great. I felt like I had to showcase it because that was the recipe that I actually made on Tuesday (and this is Try-It Tuesday after all) but then I thought, "This is my blog. I make the rules!" So I am going to focus on a different recipe. I made it a few weeks ago and made it again on Sunday. Not Tuesday.

If you are curious to know what I made last night, it was Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce (told you I was into asian food lately). The recipe is from one of my new favorite blogs Skinnytaste, so as you can imagine, it was healthy-ish. The meatballs themselves were decent but they needed a good sauce to go with them. The Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce that the recipe called for was basically a glorified soy sauce. I don't really like soy sauce - so that caused problems. These meatballs have potential, they just need a better sauce. Maybe I'll experiment with that someday... Maybe not.

Asian Turkey Meatballs with Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce by Skinnytaste
(I know... these don't look very appetizing.)

This wasn't a whole meal but I also tried my hand at making my own hummus this weekend. Hummus is supposed to be healthy, right? (Are you sick of me talking about trying to be healthy? I always feel that way when I am not in such a healthy time of my life. If that's where you're at, and you're sick of me talking about it, I feel you. I don't blame you. I've been there. And there is a good chance I'll be there again. Stick with me.) Anyway, Annie's Eats had a pretty easy recipe for Restaurant-Style Hummus. It was good! Since it was just plain hummus there wasn't much excitement to it but it was a valiant first try. Next time I'm going to have to do something to add more flavor.

Restaurant-Style Hummus by Annie's Eats
(I didn't have a good picture of the hummus so instead I decided to 
show you our cat Bigsby to continue with the asian food theme... Get it?)

And now for our spotlight of the week... Another recipe by Skinnytaste but this time it was a winner! Crockpot (you can't go wrong with crockpot) Honey Sesame Chicken. This recipe is sooo good. It has so much flavor. There are a few ingredients in there that if you don't cook a lot of asian food you might not have (rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha...) but I would recommend investing in them. You won't regret it. You can serve this over rice (which I did a few weeks ago, pre-diet) or you can make lettuce wraps out of them. I did lettuce wraps this weekend and I actually liked it even better than over rice. So. good. And so. easy. That is all.

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken by Skinnytaste
(Some of my small group girls came over for dinner. 
They liked the hummus and lettuce wraps.)

Hope you enjoyed this long-winded version of... Try-It Tuesday!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life.

It's Friday night and I don't have plans... The people-person side of me is bummed because "Who stays home on a Friday night?" But the practical, busy side of me keeps trying to convince myself, "This is a good thing... you always say you could use a night at home. Soak it up." So, here I am. It's 5:30 on Friday night. I'm laying on my bed, soaking up the beautiful light that's coming through my windows, and trying not to focus on the fact that I don't have plans tonight.

I did what all normal 25-year-old girls do in this situation... I got on my laptop. I did a quick run over Facebook (My facebook stalking just isn't what it used to be. A quick 2 or 3 minute glance over my news feed and I'm done.) I thought I'd check out a couple of blogs that I frequent then I'd head over to Pinterest for a little Friday night pinspiration. (You like that? Pinspiration. I guarantee I'm not the first person who has ever said that and probably not the last.) One of the baking blogs I read, Brown Eyed Baker, had a link to another article about how social media is skewing our perception of real life. The title piqued my interest so I thought I'd read it. It's 5:30 on a Friday night. What else do I have to do, right?

The article: Stop Instragramming Your Perfect Life.

This article was really good. I would recommend taking the time to read it. A couple of quotes that I thought were good:

"The danger of the internet is that it's very very easy to tell partial truths - to show the fabulous meal but not the mess to clean up afterward. To display the smiling couple-shot, but not the fight you had three days ago. To offer up the sparkly milestones but not the spiraling meltdowns."

"Community - the rich kind, the transforming kind, the valuable and difficult kind - doesn't happen in partial truths and well-edited photo collections on Instagram."

"Our envy buttons also gets pushed because we rarely check Facebook when we're having our own peak experiences. We check it when we're bored and when we're lonely, and it intensifies that boredom and loneliness."

"Let's choose community. Let's stop comparing. Let's start connecting."

"Instead of scrolling through someone else's carefully curated images, I use those few seconds to send a text to a person I really know and really love and really want to be connected to."

Ok, those are a few of the quotes. I thought this article had a lot to say - especially to me tonight. I was bored and lonely and started looking at blogs. I was tempted to become envious over people's perfect looking lives. But I stopped reading blogs and did what the article said - connected. I texted my friend Becca to ask her to hang out tomorrow night. And we're doing it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Try-It Tuesday: Lighter Sweet and Sour Chicken.

It's been a long time since I've posted a Try-It Tuesday recipe... but check me out! Here I am! I am on a new "eating healthy" kick as of Monday, which means I'm going to be doing less eating out and more cooking at home and potentially more blogging about it.

Fact: when I was little I hated Chinese food. Fact: now I love it. Fact: it's quite possible that every one of my Try-It Tuesday recipes in the near future could be Chinese-like food. Fact: I made Chinese-like food last night. Fact: it was flipping delicious. Fact: you should try the recipe. Fact: it's almost 100% likely that you are sick of me saying "fact." Fact: I'm going to continue to say it anyway. Fact: Iowa Girl Eats knows what she is doing. Fact: here is the link to her recipe: Lighter Sweet and Sour Chicken. Fact: I'm done now.

(P.S. If you're interested in trying this recipe and don't like spicy food I would recommend cutting down on the amount of sriracha in the sauce... it was a bit spicy!)