Thursday, December 31, 2009

Countdown to 2010!

Dec 31...Corndog Chili (fun recipe for New Year's)
Dec 30...Pumpkin Pudding (Prav loves pumpkin)
Dec 29...Oven roasted Spicy Potatoes and Glazed Carrots (mom made the meat)
Dec 28...Twice baked potato fritters
Dec 27...Turkey Vegetable Chili
Dec 26...Frank and Beans Casserole
Dec 25...Eggnog syrup and pancakes
Dec 24...Eggnog Bake (OMG...this one rocked!)
Dec 23...Ham and Swiss lasagna
Dec 22...Fruit and Nut Scones
Dec 21...Cheesy Hashbrown Chili (cheap and fast!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wedding Day Bliss

We did it! Prav and I are officially married!!!

My wedding day was everything I had ever hoped and dreamed it would be and more! I was surprisingly calm and not stressed or nervous at all. Everything went as planned...well, almost. :) I guess every wedding has those little mishaps that become great memories. Ours was no exception, but I wouldn't have changed a thing!

Yes, I was able to make my RR recipes yesterday and today thanks to my mom!
I made Lunchbox Chicken Tender Salad the day before the wedding and Skinny'ed Up Sour Cream and Onion Dip on my wedding day. My mom helped me set up a fabulous spread of fruit, veggies, and the RR dip in her suite for all my girls to enjoy before the wedding. Today, we made Mom's Olive Spread (not my mom, Rach's mom, I I'll be cooking from my mom's house from tomorrow until Prav and I return to our home in North Carolina. I'm looking forward to getting back to our own kitchen and starting our life together! I'm so lucky to be married to the absolute best man I know!

So, to recap the recipes:
Dec 18...Lunchbox Chicken Tender Salad
Dec 19...Skinny'ed Up Sour Cream and Onion Dip
Dec 20...Mom's Olive Spread

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dec 17...Spinach-Artichoke Hummus
Dec 16...Bacon Wrapped Taters
Dec 15...French Onion Soup (we had lots of onions in the bag, lol)
Dec 14...French Onion Dip Pizza (really good!)
Dec 13...Guilty Pleasure Cheesy Toast (sooooo delicious)
Dec 12...Sloppy Dawgs
Dec 11...BLT Dip (seriously, we ate this as dinner it was so yummy)
Dec 10...Chicken Caesar Pizzas
Dec 9...Individual Chicken Pot Pies (my favorite meal so far)
Dec 8...Mini Philly Cheesesteak Crostinis (made a meal out of them)
Dec 7...Frozen Fruit Sticks
Dec 6...Mac n Cheese Jalepeno Poppers (big enough for a meal and so good)
Dec 5...Ham & Cheese Waffles with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (sounds bad, but not)
Dec 4...Chili Cheese Potato Armadillos
Dec 3...Ricotta Pie Calzones
Dec 2...Tangy, Sweet BBQ Gravy with chicken tenders
Dec 1...Tomato Ginger Chutney (Prav devoured this with naan)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A December to Remember!'s 3 days before my wedding and I am so excited I could just burst! Prav and I are back in Florida and will be heading to the Keys tomorrow to start all of the celebrations! I've been told that our hotel room has a stove/oven, microwave, fridge/freezer and cooking supplies. I'm a bit nervous about getting my challenge meals cooked, so I've planned some "no cook" dips for the next few days. My mom has volunteered to help, thank goodness! I know Rachael told me to take my wedding off, but I just can't! I've been so dedicated to completing could I stop? :)

This month has been crazy! I had to work lots of crazy shifts in order to afford myself the days off around the holidays. As a new nurse, I'm so grateful to have the next 2 weeks off during the holidays. I had to work lots of other holidays to earn this! Plus, during my initial interview with my manager, I told her I would need this time off and she still hired me! Whew!

I know a lot of people like to cook holiday recipes around this time of year, but I must admit, I have been literally cooking whatever is easiest in order to meet my challenge goals and maintain my sanity before the wedding. I've been making lots of RR snack recipes and dips this month. I'm looking forward to cooking more challenging meals next month when things settle down.

I did manage to learn some new things this month while cooking. I've learned that you can put lemons, limes, and oranges in the microwave for a few seconds in order to help get their juice out. You should always squeeze these fruits with the cut side up in your hand so the seeds don't fall out into what you're cooking. Oh, and I've learned about gremalatas!...avery fancy word for "all-over seasoning." :)

I used a carving knife for the first time in my life this month too! I have a set of knives, but never really used more than the steak knives in the set. I was surprised at how much better the carving knife works for slicing meats!

So, for now, I'm just looking forward to the next few days of celebrating! I will post my December recipes and wedding day updates soon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

November recipes

Nov 30...Butter Me Up pasta with shrimp (see pic on the side)
Nov 29...Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Parm
Nov 28...Turkey pasta (leftovers can be great)
Nov 27...Turkey Empanadas
Nov 26...Teri Hatcher's Ginger Sweet Potato Mash
Nov 25...Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Nov 24...Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac (another great one for freezing)
Nov 23...Not Tuna Casserole
Nov 22...Mini Twice-Baked Potatoes
Nov 21...15 minute paella (Prav didn't like it, but I did!)
Nov 20...Individual chicken pot pies (oh so good!)
Nov 19...Cinnamon Apple Strata (brought this one to a friend's house for dessert)
Nov 18...Baked Shells Casserole (so good and easy that I made it again)
Nov 17...Cheesy Stuffed Cherry Peppers
Nov 16...Milk Mac n Seafood (the fiance was not a fan)
Nov 15...Chili Con Queso Mac (great for freezing)
Nov 14...Chicken Caprese
Nov 13...Grilled Eggplant Roll-ups
Nov 12...Egg Calzone (still working nights)
Nov 11...Bacon and Egg Quesadillas (breakfast for dinner because I'm working nights)
Nov 10...Quesadilla Casserole
Nov 9...Butternut Bowties (first time cooking with butternut it)
Nov 8...Tater Tot Casserole (OMG!!! Yummy)
Nov 7...Spinach Feta Greek Pizza
Nov 6...Super-sized 7 Layer Casserole (great for freezing)
Nov 5...The Ultimate ham and Cheese Sandwich
Nov 4...Mashed Potato Soup (perfect for the cold day)
Nov 3...Sweet and Spicy Thai Noodles (again because my fiance loves it)
Nov 2...Cowboy Spaghetti with Cheddar Cheese Sauce (very easy to make)
Nov 1...Creamy Spicy Citrus Corn

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom's house. I love my mom so much! It was great being back in my family's home in Florida for the holiday (I'm actually blogging from mom's computer right now). I wanted to share a few of my family's Thanksgiving traditions with all of you out there in blog world since Rachael Ray always says how food and cooking is so much more than just eating. :)

Every year, my family names the turkey. We usually name the turkey after someone who is either new to our Thanksgiving table or who has never had the turkey named after him/her. The first Thanksgiving I spent with my fiance, he had the honor of having the turkey named for him. The following year, we named the turkey after my friend's boyfriend, who was joining us for Thanksgiving for the first time. In 2007, the turkey was named for my brother's girlfriend...who was promptly sprayed with turkey grease (accidentally) by my mother while we were basting the namesake bird, lol. The next year, the turkey was named for my father-in-law to mark the first Thanksgiving that we shared with Prav's family and my family together. Last year, we added a new member to our family. My mother married the love of her life, Teddy, last December. So, naturally, this year the turkey was aptly named, Teddy. :)

My family always eats Thanksgiving dinner in our pajamas. This started years ago for a very special reason, but it is a family secret. ;) On Thanksgiving morning, we hold the annual "Parade of PJ's" just before the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade airs on TV. We each take turns parading down the stairs to show off our new Thanksgiving pj's! We don't just eat in regular old sweatpants and t-shirts here. No, no, we make an effort to wear funny pj's that reflect our unique personalities. My mom debuted her fabulous 2-piece flannel, button-down pj's this year. They have dogs, specifically Whippets, on them because my mom owns a Whippet named Toby. They were awesome. My brother, who is a college student, usually wears funny pj's that reflect pop culture. This year, he wore Corona beer pants and a Budweiser shirt...gotta love college kids, right! Now, about my pj's this year...flannel 2-piece pj's with little wooden spoons, mixing bowls, and whisks on them!!! :) My future hubby is still searching for one-piece footed pj's with a "butt flap" that come in his size, LOL!

Another family tradition, which I'm sure many of you also participate in, is the time-honored question, "What are you thankful for this year?" before the meal. My family goes around the table and shares what we're most thankful's usually a tear-jerker too! Then, someone gives a toast to our family and we all sip Martinelli's sparkling apple cider ( good)!

My family also watches "A Christmas Story" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" at night on Thanksgiving. We are usually ready for round 2 of the Thanksgiving desserts by the time we start the movies too! :)

And, in case you were wondering, I made the turkey gravy this year! It was awesome! I also made Teri Hatcher's Ginger Smashed Sweet Potatoes that Rachael featured on her website and show. Today, we are using the leftover turkey to make RR's Turkey Empanadas.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

November...stressful month!!!

All I can say about this month is...STRESSFUL!!! I finished my orientation training at work last month and have been a new nurse, on my own, for over a month now. I've been working a crazy rotating schedule at the hospital...switching from days to nights and back again every 2 weeks. Needless to say, it has taken a toll on me! Additionally, I am counting down the days until my wedding day! Prav and I will be married next month and we are finalizing all of the last minute details that go into planning a destination wedding. I must admit, this challenge has been harder to keep up with recently. Cooking a meal a day has been nothing short of impossible some days. I finally came up with a system that works for me. First, I am prepping all of my recipes ahead of time on one of my days off from work. This includes doing all of the grocery shopping, cutting veggies and herbs (if they won't spoil, etc), trimming meats, measuring out spices, and labeling everything into tupperware and baggies! When I'm ready to cook, it takes me half as much time as it usually does...a definite added bonus! It looks a lot more organized in my kitchen when I prep like Rachael does on her show (of course I don't have 5 assistants running around my kitchen wearing cute little "EVOO" and "YUM-O" t-shirts like she does, hahaha...I wish I did though!).

I try to prep all of my meals and sometimes I will even "pre-cook" some casseroles and store them in my freezer for days when I am really tired or busy. At first, I felt guilty doing this because I thought it was like "cheating" on my challenge, but my friends have reminded me that I vowed to cook a RR meal for 365 days and that, "putting things in the oven is still cooking", LOL. I got the idea to freeze some of my pre-cooked recipes and casseroles from Rachael Ray. When Prav and I were on the show, Rach made us the Chicken Divan casserole which she said was great for freezing and saving...or making a double batch and saving half in the freezer for another time.

This month, I've really been trying to cook with fresh herbs. I was really amazed at how good fresh tarragon tasted when I used it last month. So, this month, I've tried to use a lot more fresh herbs. I tried sage, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and flat leaf parsley (which my local grocery store is always out of). Rach says, "It's all in the shoulder action!" when she describes how to use the knife when chopping fresh herbs. I have been mastering my shoulder action! I love the knife set Rachael gave me. The knives are a much better quality than any other set I've ever used. My hubby-to-be likes them too! I bought myself new cutting boards this month. I have to thank my co-workers, who gave me a lovely bridal shower and lots of gift cards to stores that carry cooking supplies! I have been stocking up on my kitchen gadgets like a mad woman (and I love it)!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Prav and I will be heading back down to Florida one last time before our wedding. The wedding will be held in Islamorada, Florida...which is in the Florida Keys near Key Largo. Usually, we host Thanksgiving at our house. This is the one meal that I am an expert at cooking! I can brine and cook a turkey with great ease, but I can't carve the turkey to save my life! :) Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What's not to love about football, parades, family, and eating? I'm bummed that I won't be hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year. It's always nice to have Prav's family and mine all together around our table for a big, yummy meal. I must confess, although I make a great turkey and my mashed potatoes rock, I usually use StoveTop stuffing (from the box) canned green beans and Campbell's soup for the traditional green bean casserole, canned candied yams, and Mrs. Smith's frozen pumpkin pie. Since I'm going to have to make a RR recipe for Thanksgiving this year, I am going to step out of my comfort zone and cook something from scratch from Rach's website. I'm nervous, but excited. I've gotten really great at making gravy since starting this challenge. My fiance has even commented on how I can "Whip up a gravy in a minute." Maybe I'll offer to make the turkey gravy and a side dish to help my mom.

I'll post this month's recipes at the end of the month once I survive Thanksgiving!