Saturday, August 29, 2009

Recipe: Blackened Spice Mix

Tonight we had blackened chicken sandwiches for dinner. I failed to take any pictures (partly because I also butchered a chicken and thus had chicken juice all over my hands), but the recipe is pretty straightforward. Coat chicken, fry chicken, eat. :) Here's the spice mix, which is also good on fish. You could probably also grill this chicken.

2T paprika
1T garlic powder
1 1/2 t white pepper (I usually just use all black)
1 1/2 t black pepper
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t dried oregano leaves
1T onion powder (I also use dried minced onions)
3/4 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t dried thyme leaves

Store in an container.

Start by pounding the chicken breast thin (or cut it in half down the length of the breast to make it thinner). I also cut the chicken into bun-sized pieces--I can usually get two pieces from one breast. Coat with the spice mix. Heat about 1 T oil in a pan over medium-medium high heat. Add the coated chicken and cook until done, turning once--I'd say about 5-10 minutes total, depending on how hot your pan is and how thin the chicken is. Serve on a bun with all the fixings!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Other Baby

Today we got to hear our baby's heartbeat--the midwife said the heartbeat sounded very strong and that everything looks good! I occasionally wonder how our current 'baby' will handle our new baby. He thinks he's the center of our world, and it may be a rude awakening when he realizes that's not true. I'm talking about our cat, Pippin.
David had often talked about NOT wanting a cat, even though I've always had one growing up. Well, one day he surprised me while we were up in Tucson with a visit to PetsMart. I waited in the car with my eyes closed until he opened the door and I felt little paws on my legs. Pippin is part Russian Blue, which means he's extremely talkative. He's a beautiful blue gray, and so there was some talk about naming him Gandalf (since he was the gray wizard for a while)--we always name our cats from Lord of the Rings. But, considering his mischevious nature and constant appetite, we definitely picked the right name.
He was a huge help when we packed up our old house.And when I unpacked at the new house.He's adopted the fireplace as one of his haunts.He often tries to help when I'm working at the desk.
But his favorite spot is chilling on the back of the couch (if he's not in the laundry room, begging for food).

Monday, August 24, 2009

American Experiences

David has a really great job, for which I'm very grateful (even if it's in Albuquerque). Every year they do a corporate event, and this year involved a trip to see the Isotopes play. For those of you who don't watch In Plain Sight (which is actually set in Albuquerque, as opposed to just filmed there), the Isotopes are the AAA team for the LA Dodgers. I like baseball, probably more than any other sport, so when he asked if I wanted to go, I said yes. I've been to a fair number of Braves games (our family team), and baseball games have just about the right pacing for me (especially now that I spend half my time in the bathroom). Now granted, a AAA field isn't that big, but I was delighted to find our seats were in the second row, about 10 feet from the third base foul line. We settled in to watch the game and enjoyed seeing the Isotopes score lots of runs (I'm not into nailbiters). As the seventh inning rolled around, I told David we could leave after the seventh inning stretch if he wanted since I was getting tired.
"What's the seventh inning stretch?"
I was astonished. As I explained that everyone gets up and sings Take Me Out to the Ballgame, he kind of looked at me...and asked why. He actually asked that a lot during the game--like when they had the taco/salsa/chile/pepper race around the bases. Why do they have entertainment between each team's at-bats? At least baseball fans don't need scantily clad women jumping around to keep them entertained (cheerleaders). Anyway, I explained that you get up and stretch (hence the name). So the middle of the seventh inning rolls around, and I start singing with everyone else, and I look at David and...he's not singing. I guess he didn't feel the need to fully experience an American Tradition. :) In his defense, his favorite sport is soccer, and soccer fans don't need mascot races or cheerleaders to keep them interested. I told him that someday, he could teach our kids how to play soccer and I would take them to baseball games.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recipe: Easy Hash Browns

Warning: this recipe does not involve a bag of frozen hash browns. I suppose that would be "Easiest Hash Browns".

Start by grating some raw russet potatoes (1lb or 2 medium). I suppose you can do it without peeling first, but it seems like my potatoes are always a little on the old side, so I peel them. Throw the grated potato in a colander and rinse them, then press them to get rid of some of the water. Unfortunately, if you want a crisp hash brown, you'll have to get more water out than that. Dump them on a few paper towels and wring them as dry as you can (without popping the paper towel). If you want to add a little flavor, you can add 2 T grated onions, some chopped herbs, or some roasted garlic.Next, heat 1/2 T butter over medium high heat until just starting to brown. Spread the potatoes out in the pan and smoosh them down with a spatula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking for 5-8 minutes. They should start looking brown and crispy.If you want the second side to be crispy too, you need to add more butter to the pan. Flip the hash brown out onto a plate (you want the crispy side to be up). Add another 1/2 T butter to the pan. Once it's melted, slide the hash brown back in and keep cooking on medium for 5-6 more minutes (salt and pepper again if desired).If you want it extra crispy, you can fold the hash brown over. Then you have double the crispy in every bite.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back in the Saddle

It seems appropriate to include an earlier and later picture (no before and after, unfortunately). I certainly feel like I've gotten a lot bigger. But once again, the pictures don't seem quite as bad as my view looking down. A few updates in the last two weeks:

1. I have officially complete my PhD. I even have a certificate of completion. That has not prevented me from wrestling over revisions to a paper we submitted this week. Thank goodness that's long as it's accepted.

2. I'm also employed. I'm teaching Intro to Chem lecture and lab at the community college. The lab should be easy...the lecture will require a lot more prep. I'm trying to find a balance between grading (trying to keep to a minimum) and getting the students to learn (aided by assigning homework, quizzes, etc.). Tomorrow I get the syllabus, but I'm armed with a large box of Dad's notes.

3. I was home for two weeks visiting my family. Although I was blessed in that I generally avoided feelings of morning sickness, my body got its revenge on Monday. Felt sick pretty much all day. :P

4. I'm posting a recipe for easy hash browns (and it doesn't involve a bag of hash browns) and sort-of chicken fettuccine alfredo in the next few days.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie and Julia

(I've been visiting my family, hence the lack of blog posting. Back to consistency in another week)

Today we went to go see Julie and Julia--I highly recommend it. It is a movie about two women and the loves of their lives--their husbands, and their food. These are two things that are also very important in my life. It's not often that you see movies where a husband and wife are happily married. And it's a good thing we went right after lunch, because the food looked amazingly good. Except the aspic--I'll never understand beef flavored jello.

Sidenote--if you want to see another movie with a good marriage, check out "The Mummy Returns". David doesn't understand why I like it, but it's mostly because it features a deeply passionate and happy marriage. And "The Mummy" is a really cute romance, if you don't mind the mummies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Traveling Light

Yesterday was a momentous day: I submitted my dissertation. Technically, I think it was this morning, but it doesn't really matter--I'm pretty much done now. I say pretty much because I've already gotten an email of minor edits (indent here, change the order there, update figure caption, etc). I also have a small paper to rewrite. Oh well.
This morning, I flew home to visit family in Illinois. It was an experience for me because it's the first time in a very long time that I flew without my backpack. Without my laptop. Without my school accoutrements. When I went through security, the lady took a look at me, said "is that all you have?", then waved me over to the crew security line. I also flew without a carry-on, since I have things to bring back with me. I didn't have to worry about finding a seat with overhead space above it, because everything fit under my seat.
Unfortunately, this will only last another six months. Then, I will trade in my unencumbered life for a car seat, stroller, diaper bag, etc. etc...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August Already?

Update: I'm back in t-shirts now after shopping at Other Mothers, a second-hand store that carries maternity clothes. Part of the problem with not being able to button your jeans is that the edges stick out...not good if your shirts are on the tight side. I thought about transitioning up a size or two, but a) the only place my jeans don't fit is the waist, and b) I have a really hard time finding short enough jeans anyway. And I'm only going to get bigger. Sigh. I found a pair of jeans, cream corduroys, brown pants, and a pair of dress pants. I even found capris--something I have trouble doing in regular clothes because I'm short. They are soooo comfortable. Maternity pants have this nice elastic waist that make for a smoother silhouette, even with slightly smaller shirts--so my t-shirts are back. Yay!

August already--at least we're making progress on the garden! Usually August is not the time to be planting, but I figure better late than never. Right? This morning's project was the garden, or what was the hole in our backyard. David and I broke up the soil that was in there, added dirt, manure, and compost, and that's as far as we got. I'm supposed to be transplanting from pots to the garden right now, but I took a break instead because I was so hungry. My hard-working husband just moved to another project--burying the drainage pipe off the gutter drain spout. What a handy guy.