Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More weekend recipes: Feta Stuffed Chicken Burgers

Our Stay At Home Moms club did a recipe exchange last month. Lots of tasty sounding dishes among them, and I am slowly working my way through them all! This weekend we tried Feta Stuffed Chicken Burgers. These burgers satisfy two of three features all the best recipes should have: they were easy to make, and tasted great. Unfortunately, the ingredients are not necessarily things you'd already have on hand, but they are easy enough to find at your local grocery store. If I get adventurous later this summer, I may try to make all the ingredients myself (like the roasted red peppers, maybe grow my own lettuce and make homemade rolls, too) but buying them now satisfied my curiosity and my appetite!

Feta Stuffed Chicken Burgers

1 lb uncooked ground chicken breast
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
7 Tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
4 hamburger rolls
1 Cup lettuce
2/3 Cup roasted red peppers sliced
5 small black olives

Preheat Grill or Broiler

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, oregano, garlic powder, and feta. Divide into 4 balls and then press them gently into patties.

Grill or broil patties until internal temp reaches 165 degrees F, about 7-8 minutes per side.
Serve each burger on a bun with lettuce, peppers and olives.

I made a few minor changes to the recipe since I didn't have a couple of the exact ingredients. I substituted dried "Italian seasoning" for the fresh oregano, and I used fresh crushed garlic instead of garlic powder. I doubled the recipe and ended up making 10 patties instead of just 8, which made a couple of smaller patties that were just right for Renee. Don't forget to grill the hamburger rolls, too! Along with extra olives and roasted red peppers, I also served them with sliced tomatoes, and either mayo or sour cream to spread on the rolls. I personally liked the flavor of the sour cream, but others preferred the mayo. I suppose you could just use ketchup, too, but that's up to you.

Renee loved these burgers, ate a whole one all herself! The grownups scarfed these up, too! I'd like to think these are a little healthier than your average red-meat hamburger, since it's lean chicken (even with the added feta) but I can't prove it! Happened to have a little leftover cold sundried tomato pasta to serve on the side, which went really well with this! Stay tuned for the sundried tomato pasta recipe! Note about ground chicken breast: I couldn't find ground chicken at my favorite local grovery store, so I asked at the meat counter if they could grind some for me, but they could not. However, going to the larger grocery store across town (Hy-Vee) was a success. Hy-vee had prepackaged ground chicken, sold by the pound. I was going to try and grind some whole chicken breasts in my food processor, but I'm not sure if that would have produced good enough results! No way am I spending money on a meat grinder. Even though I am a happy, meat eating, ex-vegitarian, I just don't feel right spending money on that.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekend recipes: Arroz con Pollo

In a panic about what to serve this weekend, I dug through my recipe collection and decided to serve some I haven't done in awhile (or try for the first time!). Birthday dinner was Arroz con Pollo, from the Dream Dinners cookbook by Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna. I love this cookbook!

1 cup uncooked white rice
1 15 oz. can black beans drained
1cup frozen corn kernels
6 4 oz. chicken breast halves (I like to slice the chicken instead of using breasts)
1tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup red bell pepper sliced
1/2 cup scallion sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar)

Preheat oven to 350 F
Spray 9X13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare rice according to the package directions. Spread the rice over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Layer the beans, corn and chicken over the rice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the chicken broth, salsa, marinara sauce, bell peppers, scallions, cilantro, cumin, and garlic and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture over the chicken and sprinkle cheese over the top.

Bake for 45min-1hr until the internal temp of the chicken reaches 165F.

Renee turns 3!

Just a cute outfit that I wanted to remember her in. Look at her long hair!

She ate the frosting off the cake first!

Blowing out the candles!

Here Renee is holding up three fingers to show you that she's three years old.

The day before her birthday we made banana muffins for breakfast. The best way to eat old bananas!

The birthday girl wanted a pink cake, so I decided to try to make a cake which would look like ballet slippers. In the end, I didn't want to waste the scraps of cake by cutting it to look like little shoes, so I just made a frosting picture of the slippers instead. The cake was a yellow cake mix with mashed raspberries sugar and lemon juice mixed in. The frosting was whipped cream with raspberry yogurt mixed together, plus a tube of pink icing for the details. Very yummy! It's hard to believe how time flies! She's such a big kid now~!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birthday weekend planning

Sigh... here is the forecast for Renee's birthday weekend:

Friday: A slight chance of rain and snow before 1pm.
Friday Night: A slight chance of rain and snow before 1am, then a slight chance of snow.
Saturday: A chance of snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of snow.

At least it's not blizzards or tornadoes, like TX, NE, and SD!

Thinking about doing some indoor activities though, a puppet show and a clarinet concert perhaps! Still not sure exactly what kind of cake to do, Renee keeps asking for strawberries and raspberries- but I don't know if it'll be chocolate cake or yellow cake. She'll probably be happy with anything that has candles on it!

Renee is going to be a big sister!

The proof. Yup, there it is. We're pregnant! Seriously, I don't know why I get pregnancy tests that have lines and dashes... no mater how sure I am... a little part of me has to double check, again and again, is that right? But this is pretty clear, and we are so excited to share the news with everyone!

Renee says she wants a little sister, though who's to say she won't change her mind later. The funniest part about the whole thing was when Daddy said "Mommy got knocked up" and then Renee comes running to me with a questioning look and says, "Mommy didn't get knocked up". Hearing that from the mouth of a toddler is priceless- and probably very inappropriate- but it was funny!

The second time around feels a little different, not so crampy, and I don't feel like Dolly Parton yet either. Just gassy (I know you wanted to know that) but who's to say that isn't normal. But the joy is this the same the second time around, hard to stop smiling now that we *know*. We were pretty sure for awhile, but I finally won over John's "Let's just do it the old fashioned way, just wait and see" and I got to take the test last night. Yay! There goes the neighborhood!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Planting Raspberries!

Yesterday, Saturday, was the nicest day we've had this year! It warmed up to somewhere in the low 70's, and was sunny and perfect for playing outside all day! We took advantage of the warm beautiful weather to dig around in our new garden. We'd kept the raspberry plants in pots all last year and through the winter they stayed in their pots in the garage. I wasn't sure if they were even still alive, but wow what a joy to find tiny new buds on most of the branches of each of our three raspberry plants! I'm not sure if all my flowering bulbs have survived, or my lavender, but at least the raspberries look good so far! I hope they will be alright exposed full force to the elements until it warms up for good. But I think they'll do just fine.

Mommy took an afternoon break to help her friend Serenity with her big wonderful garden. A little girl time and the chance to play in the dirt was just exactly what Mommy needed! Daddy and Renee picked up most of the remaining dried leaves out of the yard, and later Daddy even got his motorcycle out for a spin. Renee and Mommy went for a wonderful long walk with Apollo over to the near-by elementary school playground to play for a long time. The new playgrounds have such wonderful toys!

The weather has brought unstoppable smiles, and lots of outside play time! So perfect after all the cold and snow! We'll take it while we can! Hopefully next weekend when we celebrate Renee's 3rd birthday, we'll be able to play outside again, but if not (snow is possibly in the forecast??), Mommy still has a few tricks up her sleeve. We're excited to host Grammie and Popa and Uncle Tim for the birthday bash next weekend! Renee says she wants a pink cake, maybe with strawberries or raspberries. We might make it ourselves, or get another delicious Coldstone ice cream cake... Yummy either way!

Twirling round and round! I asked Renee to dance, and got this great action shot!

Renee hanging out by the little row of newly planted raspberry plants!

Can you believe it was still warm enough (and light enough??) for her to be outside in a sundress at 7:30pm last night! Wow!

The weekend before, Renee was having a blast in the backyard, racing around with her "outside" car.

Something fun to do with a hill in your backyard is put something at the top of the hill and watch it roll down, and then chase it... this applies nicely to hulahoops, soccer balls, or the "outside" car... then while you're chasing down the hill after the toy, scream as loud as you can!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More pictures!

Oops, ha ha! Just a photo of the computer desk we're trying to get rid of. I listed it on FreeCycle this afternoon and tonight I had 4 emails from people interested in it! Sweet! Thanks to my friend Serenity for the suggestion to use FreeCycle!

This is what we call a "squeezie"!

Renee goofing off with Popa Fischer.

You should have heard the silly story they made up about the "little yellow edible pee-yo-pers"! I'm not sure what pee-yo-pers are, I think it was something that Popa was going to get for Renee... but now "pee-yo-pers" is another goofy word in our vocabulary! Like in the morning I'll ask Renee, "Do you want peeyoper juice for breakfast?"

Ah yes, the serious art of enjoying a sip of port! Of course it looks like John is enjoying a good pipe, too... He loves these unique port sippers, and struck a pose for the camera for good measure!

A picture is worth a thousand words

Celebrating Kelly's birthday with the *yummiest* ice cream cake from Coldstone. The flavor was called "A Cheesecake Named Desire" and it had cheesecake flavored ice cream with little bits of graham cracker mixed into the ice cream, layered between yellow cake, with a raspberry sauce ribbon between each layer and perfectly light raspberry/whipped cream icing!

Such a wonderful birthday treat to sit down and enjoy dinner with my family in our new bigger house and seated at my formal dining room table! Such perfect timing that we finally got it out of storage just in time for birthday dinner!

Monday, March 2 was the day the big truck came from the storage company deliverying the last of our belongings. We did get a little nervous... did we really have THAT much stuff? Would it possibly ever fit inside this little house? Well we do plan to get rid of quite a bit, but it will feel wonderful to purge!

The gate going into our fenced in back yard! Apollo loves lounging in his new territory, especially looking for the fat squirrels!

We have a nice long tree lined driveway, and I thought it was funny that of course I couldn't fit the whole length of the huge moving truck into this camera shot!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fever... in the mornin'. Fever all through the night...

Yes, it's true, Saturday afternoon Renee came down with a fever and hasn't been able to shake it yet. Such a shame, since Friday night we were lucky enough to host John's brothers Tim and Jeremy, and Jeremy's family for a weekend visit. Renee and her cousins Sofia and Melena did have lots of fun playing together, though tempers were a little short at times, even by toddler standards. :) Luckily I called the emergency room at the hospital tonight, 9pm, and got to talk with a nurse who gave me some guidelines for watching and helping Renee. So we didn't have to drive all the way across town and wait forever in a waiting room just to get some children's Tylenol!

In happier news, everyone loves our new house! Apollo had been a little sick the past few days, throwing up. But I wonder if it was just the stress of moving, since I can't find anything he would have gotten into that would make him ill. But Apollo seems better today, and though Renee is sick again- at least we can all enjoy having just enough extra room! Renee loves riding her trike around in circles in the basement and even upstairs- the layout of the house works perfectly for her biking passion! Apollo loves lounging on the couches in the living room looking out the big front window, and strolling outside in the fenced backyard while Renee kicks her soccer ball around the big tree in the backyard! I love my super spacious kitchen, and John loves the basement, which he calls his "man-room". He's got his big TV, the Wii and computer down there. Plus, he and his brothers all played their guitars together down there this weekend, and it worked perfectly as a rehearsal space and movie theatre when the guys took a break and watched a flick.

The primary reason for our visitng guests this weekend was for the brothers to rehearse for a wedding reception they will be performing for this coming June. Their set list is starting to get firmed up and even the order for the tunes is coming into focus. The finer details will be worked out in future rehearsals, but they had fun this weekend, and their groupies/wives and kids loved listening to their jam session!

We've got lots of pictures to share, but havn't unpacked all the cords for uploading pictures off the camera! Stay tuned...