Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicken Pasta

I first had this recipe last summer when we went on a huge family vacation. My Aunt Sarah made this and I LOVED it. I finally got the recipe from her and tweaked it a little for my preference. I'm all about tweaking recipes.

This recipe is super super simple!!

First pick a marinade. I used the Italian dressing packets(you'll need 2) but left out the water and doubled the vinegar. You'll make this up into 2 batches.

Boneless, skinless, chicken breasts go in 1 bag with 1 batch of marinade:
Then in another bag put artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms if you like them. I put 2 cans of artichoke (because I LOVE them), and 1 packet of sun-dried tomatoes(not in the can/oil). I don't like mushrooms so I left them out. Add the other batch of marinade:

I let them marinade for a few hours....the longer the better.

Then I cooked the chicken in a pan, I would have put it on the grill but it was raining. You can also throw them in the oven to bake.
While the chicken is cooking put the artichoke mixture in a pot. This will be your sauce and you will want to warm it up:

When your chicken is almost finished start cooking the spaghetti. I cook mine 1 minute less than the package says because I hate mushy pasta. When its cooked and drained then add butter and a pinch of salt.

Chop chicken into bite sized pieces. Put chicken and sauce into pasta and mix well. Depending on how much you make add the sauce slowly so you don't end up with too much.

I served mine topped with feta cheese and some fresh chives:
This freezes and reheats REALLY well.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

700 Miles in 4 Days....

I love to travel, I love seeing new places, I love visiting places that I know well and love to see again....I'm convinced the BEST part of coming home.

Last Thursday I started my journey very early in the morning. I headed to a friend's house north of Greensboro. This is someone that I've "known" online for about 10 years now but have never met. We have horses, critters, and gardening in common and have been chatting on FB a lot lately. I told her I was going through her area and she generously had me come to her house and get some plants for my garden.

I'm a southern girl and couldn't go without gifts so I brought her a dozen duck eggs....and 8 baby chicks.

We had a BLAST, played with her yearling, played with the chickens, talked a LOT, and I feel like she dug up half her yard for me.

 Pepper found a Jolly Ball:

After packing up ALL the plants she gave me I headed to my Grandma's house in Salisbury. I got to have a nice visit with her and stayed the night. Once at Grandma's house she informed me that she doesn't want the butterfly bush anymore. Its a volunteer from all the ones that my Grandpa had out there. She wanted me to dig it up and put it in the woods. So I dug it up and put it in my truck. While I was wondering around her property I couldn't help notice all the Wisteria and since I was all gung-ho gardener I decided to dig some up to bring home....1 hour later and LOTS of sweat and cursing I came home with 2 nice sized root systems and some very green pieces that will hopefully root. I'm going to see if I can keep one as a bush....the other is going WAY out in the woods because I'm CONVINCED you'll never dig this stuff up if you decided you don't want it anymore!
Then it was off to Troutman for a 2 day auction, seeing old friends, and having a blast. They sold about 600 horses in one day. Prices were all over the place and I had a blast!

Sadly I had to leave the sale about 3pm to go pick up a kitten for a friend and deliver her on the way back home.

Pepper was definitely beat and ready to be home:

We got home and I got to see all the progress in the garden/yard:

Phlox seem to be happy where they were planted:

My taters are VERY happy in their tires: 

The grapes are making me realize I need to start building a trellis SOON:

Strawberry plants seem to be growing right before my eyes:

 Wildflower packet is coming up strong and will need to be thinned:

 The piles of plants I brought home and now have to plant:

So Sunday morning it was up early to drive to Kinston for class all day, drove home, then worked my normal 24 hr shift on Monday. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

My bees are here!!

Early this morning my friend brought over my bee hive. Sadly I was at work but when I got home I couldnt help going over to see them. They were very calm and this picture was taken from about 3' away. I'll be setting up their water area tomorrow so they will stick close for water and not bother anyone in their pools. Lol

Friday, March 16, 2012


A friend of mine was supposed to come over for a Scary Movie night but sadly he got sick and so I decided to make the tacos anyway and experiment a little.

I have some grass fed beef in the freezer from a local lady and wanted to try it out. So into the small frying pan to brown. I added a palm-full of red onions and a pinch of garlic salt while it browned.

Notice how dark this beef is?

Meanwhile I made some guacamole. When I first started making it I went through a few batches before I decided what I liked.
-Red onion
-lime juice
-pinch of salt.

Put it in the fridge to cool.

I was talking to my younger brother yesterday about making tacos and he suggested frying up the tortillas, says he does it and will never go back. Since he is a fellow foodie, I trusted him and tried it.....I will have to say I  AGREE. I will NEVER have normal tortillas in my house again.

Get a frying pan and put a small amount of canola oil in the bottom:
 Turn to Medium and let it warm up. This cooks SO fast I literally couldn't take any pictures.

Put the flour tortilla in the hot oil for approximately 7-10 seconds per side. You want it lightly browned. It might fluff up and thats ok.

Then put them on a plate with paper towels and start piling on the good stuff.

Meat Mix:
 Next was shredded cheese and the homemade guac.  See the lightly browned color of the tortilla?

Fold the tortilla and ENJOY. I promise you'll love it.

Summer is HERE!!

The past 2 days I have been OUTISDE. I got my grapes in the ground....I took a picture but it doesn't look like much. I didn't get the trellis built yet...waiting to make sure they survive and are established. Don't worry they are getting mulched ASAP.

My azaleas are VERY happy and blooming like crazy.

The strawberries arrived and were planted....again nothing to take a picture of yet....they've already grown in the day they have been planted and I'm sure they will go crazy.

4 heirloom tomato plants were planted DEEP into the ground and will hopefully take off soon.

Evening primrose, Bee balm, some Blue Salvia, and a few other things I can't remember were planted too.....LOL

My friend with the bees came by this morning and said she will be bringing my hive and bees THIS WEEKEND. I'll take pictures as soon as they are here. I'm so excited about them.

I'm waiting 2 weeks before I plant the rest of the veggie/flower seeds. This weather is really nice but I'm not 100% convinced that this is the true END of Spring.

I found this little volunteer in my driveway of all places....

How are your gardens coming?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Southern Green Beans

I made ribs the other night(don't worry pictures are coming) and didn't get the green beans finished in time so I've been eating them for the past few days....YUM.

First get the pot:
Yes, I use this pot a LOT. 

Add 1 large can of green beans and a ham hock:
Add another large can of green beans and cover with water:
Pepper to NOT salt. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few hours until green beans are tender and yummy.

Spring Onions

Growing up I remember being sent out to the garden right before dinner to pull a few onions. Dad would wash them, slice them, and put vinegar or just salt on them and we would have them with dinner. They were sweet, warm from being in the ground, and SO good. This year I wasn't about to deny myself the pleasure of these onions.

I decided on the Georgia Sweet variety and bought a bundle from the local hardware store. I have limited space because of all my veggies going in this year so I got about 25 in the garden....along the side and a short row beside the taters.

When you buy a bundle(sorry I didn't take a pic) there are TONS of them and as much as I like them I couldn't see allowing them to go to waste so I decided to shove them in other places where they can grow but aren't taking up precious garden space.

Around a stump:

On the backside of the flower bed:

I know they look sad and pathetic now but in a day or so they will stand straight up and start growing.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock to Chicken Soup

Chicken Stock is one of the easiest things to really can't mess it up and it is VERY easy to customize.

Basic Chicken Stock:
- Chicken(bones, meat, whole chicken, old rooster, or any combination)
- Veggies
- Water
- Time

For this batch I knew I wanted to make chicken soup so I used some chicken breasts I found on sale. I keep a large ziplock bag in the freezer and drop extra bones and extra "pieces" when I cook other chicken dishes and then drop them in for stock. This is also a great recipe for an older rooster or hen from the yard.

For the veggies I use onions, carrots, and celery. I wash the veggies but you want to leave all the roots, leaves, etc on them for flavor.

I'm also a garlic lover so I like to drop in a few cloves, some bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns, and anything else that sounds good.

Ooooh it looks like I threw some tyme in there too!

Cover everything with water and bring it to a boil.
Cover with a lid and then let it simmer/cook low for at least 4 hours...the longer you cook the more flavor. This is easily left cooking all night.

I pulled the chicken out about 6 hours later. Be careful because it will be falling off the bone.

Now its time to strain the stock.

Then I ladle the stock in and drain it into another pot. Yes the left overs look gross but the chickens LOVE it or you can throw it in the compost pile...don't waste it.
If you want a very strong congealed stock then bring the strained stock to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes to reduce the excess water out of it.

Pour stock into storage containers and let cool before putting in the fridge or freezer.

Since I was making chicken soup I went ahead and rinse out my pot and chopped up some more onions, carrots, and celery into bite sized soup pieces. By the way....I LOVE my butcher block!

The veggies go in the pot
I add enough chicken stock to cover the veggies and bring it to a simmer. Then I start shredding the cooked chicken into the soup. I threw in some ground parsley and pepper, then salted to taste.

After everything is all in I cover and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I like my veggies well cooked. While the soup was cooking I threw some biscuits in the oven.

I prefer a stew type of consistency and so instead of noodles or dumplings I put my biscuit in the bottom of the bowl.

Then I pour plenty of chicken soup on top and dig in.

This soup freezes great for a cold day, sick day, sick friend. Wonderful to have on hand and I always seem to run out lol.