Athene’s Baby Shower

Last weekend Sarah, Kelli, and I had the honor of throwing our friend Athene a baby shower. Kelli made oh-so-yummy quiches and fruit tarts (you definitely have to try these!).

We also made some yummy cupcakes. I wanted to write this post to let you all know about my new favorite site: Bake It Pretty. I L-O-V-E this store. I would buy one of everything if I could. Make that ten of everything. We used these cupcake liners and this icing tip (which didn't end up looking too bad even though my icing was not nearly thick enough and it flattened out. Next time, more powdered sugar!). Now you know where to go to get all of your cupcake baking needs. Check out Sarah's post on the shower to see the cute things she made for it.
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Homemade Bread

I had forgotten how good homemade bread is. It really does make store-bought bread taste like cardboard. I thought I needed a bread machine to make bread at home, but Amanda was kind enough to point me to this great recipe for light wheat bread that only requires your hands, or in my case, a mixer with the dough attachment. (Yeah, I'm still lazy.) This bread is really amazing, so I highly recommend you try it out. This is the third loaf I've made, and the first picture of it I took, because we had a hard time not eating it before I remembered to grab the camera. That's how good it is. And I trimmed my rose bush out front, so now I have pretty flowers in my kitchen. :)
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Quinoa with Black Beans

This is the first time I have made or eaten quinoa, and I love it! I like that is the grain with the highest amount of protein. Food hasn't been to exciting to me recently, but this tasted wonderful, and I like how colorful it is. The recipe can be found here.

On a side note, I can't seem to take a good picture of food if my life depended on it (the above is not mine). Does anyone have any easy tips?

Winter-Spiced Red Wine Sangria

My friends and I made this for a graduation party over the Christmas break, and I decided to make it again for New Year's since my husband liked it! The recipe can be found here. After 12 hours, the cinnamon really stands out, and it doesn't really taste like wine anymore, which is why my husband liked it. I liked it more at the 4 hour point, but it was good at either time.

Turkey a la King

This is one of my mom's recipes that I always asked for the day after Thanksgiving. It is a great way to use up that extra turkey, and is one of my favorite recipes. Brian loved it too!

1/2 stick butter
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c milk
a few handfuls of chopped up turkey

Put the butter, celery, and onion in a pan, and cook until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until warmed through. Add more or less milk according to how thick you want it.

Creamy Chicken Skillet with Stuffing

Five times a year I get a free magazine from Kraft that has simple recipes and fun cooking ideas. They tend to be super easy and inexpensive, both of which are very important for us right now. We made Creamy Chicken Skillet with Stuffing a few days ago, and overall it was good, but the chicken still seemed plain. I was wondering if anyone has easy ideas on how to jazz it up a bit (spices maybe?). We used peas and green beans for the vegetables (which were free after coupons), and Brian wants to switch the cream of broccoli soup for cream of mushroom soup (I didn't realize the extent of his dislike of broccoli!), but other than that, I'm not sure what to do. And on a side note, I found an archive of all of the magazines for the last 6 years (Spring '08 has the cupcakes I made for book club a while back). I'm sure somewhere on the page is a way to sign up to get them in the mail if you are interested.

Hearty Beef and Potato Stew

I got a day off from tutoring today, so I decided to work from home so that I could make some yummy beef stew that I made last winter and Brian has been asking for for a while now. It takes over three hours, but it is definitely worth it! I use our cast iron dutch oven that my Aunt Emily and Uncle Rodney got us for our wedding. (Thanks, Rachel, for writing down who got me what!) Anyway, here's the recipe.

Hearty Beef and Potato Stew (Cooking Light, month/year unknown)

Cooking spray
16 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes, divided
1 cup dry red wine
1.5 cups chopped carrot
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1.75 teaspoons salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1.25 cups water, divided
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2.5 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon flour
Chopped parsley (optional)
2 (8-ounce) baguettes, each cut into 6 equal portions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic; saute 1 minute or until garlic just begins to brown. Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add onion to garlic. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef to pan; saute 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add beef and any accumulated juices to onion mixture. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add remaining beef to pan; saute 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add beef and any accumulated juices to onion mixture.
Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add beef mixture. Stir in carrot, rosemary, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Add 1 cup water, broth, and tomatoes; stir to combine. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; cover and bake at 300 degrees for 1.5 hours. Remove from oven; uncover and stir in potatoes. Combine remaining .25 cup water and flour; stir with a whisk until smooth. Stir flour mixture into stew. Cover and bake an additional 1.5 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve with bread. Yield: 12 servings (about 1 cup stew and 1 portion bread).