Friday, March 30, 2012

Chicken & Rice

It seems the only creating I have been able to manage 
aside from the mess in my house from 
spring cleaning is cooking!! 
When I get home from my 8-5 job I get pretty preoccupied with the extra sunshine & by the time I get around to cooking. . .  it feels like it's crunch time.
The other night I made some Rice & beans (Arroz y Gondules) & some filleted chicken thighs

 let me just give myself a huge pat on the back 
because this chicken was some of the BEST chicken I made in a LONG time!
 To make the chicken I let the chicken merry in a bowl with cumin, paprika, garlic salt, pepper & chili powder with a 1/2 a fresh squeezed lime juice.  I don't measure seasonings so you will have to put in the seasoning according to your taste.  While that sat so the flavors could get all friendly with each other, I set my skillet just slightly past the med high mark & added just a little olive oil & waited for it to get nice & hot. Once I felt the pan was ready, I laid the chicken in skin side down (YES I use skin. . it gives it good crunch & protects the meat form getting dry & nasty) If you prefer you can remove the skin & cook it just the same.  The most important thing to remember is NOT to touch the chicken & push it around & move it.  Let it cook on one side until you can lift it easily. . . . if it seems stuck leave it there to cook longer (I know it will take every ounce of your being to do this but trust me you will get a much better product if you leave it alone) once it does lift easy, go ahead & flip it & let the other side cook. 
Because these do not have the bone, they cook pretty fast. If you have your pan set just right you can cook these crispy on the stove top without overcooking or burning (no one wants to eat under cooked chicken)
a helpful hint is If you think the outside is getting done too fast & the inside is still raw....just pop it in the oven to finish up .  The oven will have less direct heat on the outside.
The finished product was AMAZING.  It was slightly crunchy on the outside & very tender on the inside.  It was just the right amount of salty tang & a subtle smokey taste from the cumin & paprika.  The color of the chicken was pretty too.  The smokey saltiness of the chicken was great with the rice, 
This will be another keeper recipe! 
It took me a long time to perfect my rice recipe & I am not quite ready to give that up but I will tell you the best beans to use are pigeon peas! I also want to say that they are not very easy to find here in JOMO but I searched long & hard & found my source & I am thrilled that I am able to make this rice that we fondly call Puerto Rican Rice at my house.

After dinner we wanted some mile shakes but we had NO ice cream!! I know right. . . .Tragedy!
So I pulled out my Awesome Ninja Blender because it does everything!
I poured some frozen strawberries, Milk & Honey in & Whipped it up
I can't lie...... it wasn't as good as an ice cream shake (probably due to the lack of fat & sugar)
I felt like it was missing that something, something so I will be on a mission to revisit this in a later post after I find something to make this healthier shake taste better. 
Do you have any healthy shake recipes or tips you can share with me? I would love to hear from you!

Happy Creating~

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Parmesan Pecan Tilapia

Tonight was one of those nights that I was so tired. . . and we haven't been to the grocery store so we had hardly anything to speak of in the fridge! 
What's a girl to do? 
I dug DEEP in the cabinets & the freezer & decided I had enough to make a meal
I took what pecans I had left in the freezer(yes the freezer~they stay fresher longer that way) & I threw chunks of Parmesan in my fabulous Ninja blender & gave it a whirl
I added salt, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper & just a dash of cayenne~ 
I don't really measure when I add spices. . .its a dash of this & sprinkle of that so. . . if you have to have exact measurements. . . I am not your girl! 

  this is what it looked like. . . 
now it was time to coat some Tilapia with my awesome mixture but 
I wanted to soak the fish in buttermilk 1st & we had none!
If this should happen to you, don't freak out, don't grab your keys & make a mad dash to the store because I bet what you need to solve this problem is in the cabinet ~ 
All you need to do is add a some vinegar (or lemon juice) to regular milk 

 see the bubbles. . . .it's working it's magic
as you can see here ~ it is buttermilk in the making (I know kinda gross)
once it turned I tossed in the Tilapia & let it sit for a few minutes
My plan was to have the crumb mixture stick to the buttermilk but that wasn't working out too well so it was onto plan B 
 I laid the fish onto a sheet pan coated with non stick cooking spray
& I patted the crumble on top & popped it in an oven set @ 375
I would love to tell you how long but honestly like my spices~I tell when something is done by the way it looks so sometimes I forget to look at the clock when I put something in the oven
 so when your fish looks like this~it's done! just make sure you don't let the fish dry out
cause no one likes dry fish!YUCKY
we are ready to eat! 
YES I greens on that plate but remember we haven't been to the store. . so we have no fresh veggies to speak of at the moment but I promise to do better next week! 
The fish was a hit with ALL the boys in the house so I think this will be a keeper & the best part is that it wasn't fried so definitely waist friendly!

Happy Creating~
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

from trash to treasure

Don't you just love brown & turquoise together? I know I do!!
& then throw in some silver & you definitely have a stellar combo~

some time ago, a friend of mine brought a necklace to me that was broken in several places & asked if I could do something with it.  Not only do I love to make pretty things but I also like a good challenge, so I accepted the project & started thinking of ways to change it up.
The piece she brought me was mostly pink with a few other colors & the chain was super long.
She wanted the chain shorter so I obliged 
(sorry I don't have pictures of it but this was WAY before my blogging days)
The necklace I made her was a success...she totally loved it!
But that left me with a length of chain that I could work on for fun.
So I started with a single brown & turquoise bead because I thought it was beautiful

 I sorted through all my beads to find the ones I thought matched perfectly~I was pleased with the results!
I was also excited to work on a design like this because this was my first necklace to have such symmetry & separation between the bead work.
 The chain that was used isn't the kind you can just add jump rings to & I don;t have a soldering gun.  So I had to think of a way to attach a clasp without soldering it... thinking...thinking...I got it~I will attempt to use crimp beads~it is definitely a calculated risk because crimp beads are tricky if you don't get them done tight enough.  And the last thing you want is everything falling apart at the worst moment.
But I crimped away & I tugged & yanked on that chain as hard as I could Many Many times & it held up!!! YAY.... total excitement....on to the fun part of getting the beads on the chain in just the right places!

 Once I got the necklace done I KNEW I had to make earrings to match! so back to the bead box to be sure I had enough beads & lucky for me. . . . I had JUST enough!

So from one broken down necklace that was almost trashed came a fixed necklace, a new necklace & some super cute earrings! AMAZING! 
Next time you have something that's SEEMS like it's on its last legs, just think one step beyond to what could be and you could create AMAZING too!

Happy creating~

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Ring Re-Do

Well I have to say, considering that this is the 1st Monday after the time change... I was pretty motivated today {must be the extended sunshine}.  Not only did I get dishes done, carpet vacuumed, dinner cooked, 2 loads of wash done after a long hard day at my 8 to 5 job....I was able to fix a ring for my close friend. As you can see below, it is missing a pearl.  
It took me a little bit to find something similar that was the right size
granted, this pearl is not white like it was before BUT I think the deep gray  brings out the black accent in the ring and it should match anything that she wants to wear.
 I had to modify the head pin because the end of it was a little bigger than what I wanted, so I took my flat head pliers and gave it a few good squeezes to shrink it up a bit, then I filed it down 
to take the rough edges off.
 the small pearl fits much better this way~no bulk on the end to distract from the pearl.
 Now, I'm not gonna took me 3 tries to get the technique down for twisting the wire around itself.  It was difficult because the tools were a little too big for such a small project so i had to keep adjusting {I was also afraid I was going to break the fitting that was attached to the ring..that would have been bad}
so I finally got the wire twisted onto itself in a manner I was happy with 
{getting it tight was the issue~I have stubby fingers}

I think the wrapping is a little bit longer than it was before but I don't think it's so long that it will be an issue.
I think it looks pretty good & I REALLY like the gray!
I think my friend will be happy with the result, she was bummed that the original pearl was missing.  You know how it is when you love something & you think you are going to have to give it up......well at least this way she doesn't have to do that.  It's something old but something new...the best of both worlds!  
Gotta love that! 

Happy Creating~

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Easy Mexican & Guacamole Dinner

I love Mexican food 
& from time to time that's all I want to eat for a week straight, no really, I am NOT kidding.  When I get like this sometimes I don't want the typical tacos & because I like to cook my own taco shells, sometimes I don't like to stand there for 30 minutes just to cook shells.  So on nights I want Mexican with no fuss, I make Mexican Lasagna. It is super fast & easy & gives you all the flavors you want when you crave Mexican food.
So here is how I do it:
1st I brown up 1 lb. of hamburger meat (you could use ground turkey or chicken too)

 Then I add 1 packet of taco seasoning & simmer for a few minutes

The I take some white corn tortillas & break them in 1/2 so they fit in the casserole dish a little better
once that is done I take salsa & put a layer in the bottom of the dish so that the tortillas can cook with some moisture so they don't get to dry in the bottom of the pan
Then I put a layer of tortillas, then add more salsa (this is where I discovered I didn't have another container of salsa so I just used crushed tomatoes & liked that much better because it wasn't too spicy)
the I added the ground meat & cheddar cheese

 Then I continue to layer in that order until the all meat is gone.  Once I add the last of the meat I put a final layer of tortillas on & load it up with the cheese
 Layered Mexican goodness right there ! Then I just pop it in an oven that was set to 375 until the cheese looks perfect.  Since the meat is already cooked through it does go pretty fast, you are just waiting for the cheese in all the layers to melt & the salsa (or in my case crushed tomatoes) to get heated up.
 So while we wait for that to cook, let's get to making the guacamole!
That's right, I said Guac! 
I know some people cringe at the thought of making their own guacamole.. .. . 
I know they fear it, maybe because they think they cant get it to taste like anything but avocado but I am going to show you that it is super simple!
1st you need to get through the hardest part...waiting for RIPE avocados.  I had mine sitting in the window for about a week because they were super green.   BUT if you are craving Mexican & can get to the store that day, just look for avocados that are darker in color.  Give them a gentle squeeze, you want them to have some give but you don't want to be able to squeeze it like a stress ball!  You are looking for something that will be mashable. 
 So while at the store be sure you have your avocados, red onion, tomatoes, & garlic salt.
Cut your avocados in 1/2 (I used 3)
 scoop them put with a spoon (but since you are mashing them I guess it doesn't really matter) but I have slight OCD about certain things & this falls in that category.
 to get the pit out VERY CAREFULLY land your knife in the center of the pit, give a slight twist & lift the knife up pit included. Now some people will swear by saving the pit to put BACK in the guac to prevent browning BUT I have tried this & I find lemon or lime juice works better & gives it an extra layer of flavor.
 give your avocados a good mashing (go ahead, take out the days aggression on them, they can take it)
 see.... nice & mashed to perfection (told ya they could take the abuse)
 then dice up some fresh tomatoes (I used almost a whole one)
 then some red onion (I diced about 4 slices)
 squeeze in the very important lime juice or lemon if that is what you have (I used 1/2 a lime)
 NOW some recipes call for real garlic..I find that too harsh, I like garlic salt, it gives it the garlic flavor but also the saltiness it needs to pull it all together.  I don't measure this, I go by taste, just remember it is easier to add then take away, so start slow.
 mmmm  I know your mouth is watering for that tasty guac right now!
But that was it...Easy right?? I told ya
 The Mexican lasagna is ready.....oooh look at the melty cheese ~YUM!!
 I think I do like the chunks tomato in this dish better than salsa, look how nice the chunks look in there! Although I guess you could just use chunky salsa ~ I will have to remember that for next time
 Serving up some Mexican flavor is as easy is this, it only took me 45 minutes from start to finish (doing the dishes not included) but hey, that's pretty fast
 So here is to Mexican food at home, fast & easy.  Not to mention homemade guacamole!
And in case your wondering.... it did taste as good as it looks!

Happy Creating~

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