Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beer Can Chicken

Edited to add: This is my 500th post!

This is also known as Beer Butt Chicken for obvious reasons!

I've wanted to try this forever, but never got around to it until now.

I started with a 4.5 lb. fryer and added:

2 cans small whole potatoes
carrots, chopped
celery, chopped
1 can/bottle beer of your choice (I used Polish)

Because my beer was from a bottle, I scrubbed one of the potato cans clean after ripping off the wrapper and poured the beer in that. I placed the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The chicken received a generous rub-down of salt, pepper, and paprika. Carefully slide the chicken's cavity over the can and place it in the center of your roasting pan.

Make sure your oven racks are low enough to fit the pan in your oven. I ended up having to remove a rack. Roast at 200° for about 2.5-3 hours, depending on your chicken's weight. Finish under the broiler for a few minutes to toast up the skin if that's your thing!

This was SO juicy! I really enjoyed the flavor the beer injected into the chicken from its steam. It wasn't very "beerish," but it was still delicious! I'll definitely be adding this to the rotation of chicken options after seeing how easy it was!

The next post will from NC. I'll show you the rest of the renovation photos and moving pics!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Sandwich Topper

As I was making a sandwich (on a hamburger bun from the freezer to use up) I went for the usual mayonnaise, but then stopped when I spotted a tub of hummus I made. I always see hummus spread on vegetarian sandwich options, but why not on a cold cut sandwich?

I smeared a healthy helping of a few tablespoons and it was delicious! Healthier than mayonnaise and adds another boost of protein to your lunch to keep you fuller longer!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Hopefully all this time around my dad will eventually rub off on Johnny and he'll learn that real men can cook. (Fingers crossed.)

The other night my dad whipped up a meat sauce using his Italian sausage, leftover roast beef, and leftover pork. It was really hearty and thick. In fact, we ate it two nights and I froze about a quart of it too!

And the one part of the meal I was in charge of, boiling the spaghetti, ended up like this. (Yes, I threw it out b/c our floors are currently filthy.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Burgers, Beef, and Building

Ok, so technically it's not building, as much as renovation, but I was on an alliteration roll, so please forgive.

In an effort to clear out the freezer before I leave for NC (because we all know J isn't going to make any progress in that department with me gone and him home alone), we grilled some of the delicious Marx 100% Angus beef 1/2 pound burgers I won a few months ago from Christo's contest. Every time we eat them I am shocked at how good they are.

Then, I tried the pepperocini beef with giardiniera as promised. It was delicious, but a tad on the spicy side for Johnny and me. Next time I might do mild, or mix some giardiniera with pepperocinis. Served on toasted rolls with mozzarella cheese.

Entrance with new light fixture and address sign.

Me and J trying out the downstairs mirror to see if it works. (Ignore my GUT hanging out.)

Upstairs shower tiled, not yet grouted. New tub in place. (The old one was mustard yellow, yummy!)

Master bedroom carpet out, walls patched, ready to be painted.

Terrified/confused dog. Has no clue where all this construction and packing is leading...

The chaos/mess that is taking over the house as I work my way through cleaning/packing.

Edited to add: Sorry, I forget all of you aren't mind readers, and need a bit of explanation. We're finishing the house in IL to be able to sell and move to NC. I'm leaving first with some of our stuff and the pets to stay at my parents' house in NC. This way the pets and some clutter will be out of the way while we show the house. I can also work my usual summer job at the ice cream shop to make some money to make the transition easier. J is staying in IL while the house is on the market. Then when it sells, we'll purchase the house we picked out in NC and me, J, and the pets will all live in the same place again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cream Cheese Cookies + Update Photos

I've been craving snacks and sweets lately. With none in the house, I decided to bake some up. We've gotten my dad hooked on Dexter, so while we worked our way through season 3, I snuck into the kitchen for refreshments.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used sliced almonds)

Cream shortening with cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk. Add the dry ingredients and a sprinkle of water if too stiff. (Feel free to add chocolate chips, other nuts, or dried fruit also.)

Spoon in 2 Tbsp size blobs onto a cookie sheet. Using your straightened fingers, flatten the top of the cookies.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes. The bottom and sides will begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack and try to let cool for a few minutes.

We've made a lot of progress on the house since I last showed you pictures. The entire downstairs is done, save for a few tiny details (installing the fire alarm, etc.) and scheduled professional installs (carpet and windows).

Downstairs doors and trim all up and stained.

Laundry room floor/doors repainted, old stuff taken out, and new (clean) insulation installed.

Downstairs bathroom done, except for mirror and new window. I'm so excited about this! For as long as I've lived here, this bathroom had been completely gutted. It's going to be awesome to have a 2nd operating bathroom.

So, now that the downstairs is done, we get to move upstairs!! Here's me geared up for demolition. Smashing out old tile can be a dangerous job!

Upstairs bathroom completely gutted. And that's where we are, now. There were a lot of imperfections in the original construction, which we found once stuff was ripped out. Right now we've been stalled by a lot of problem-solving, delays, and multiple trips to home improvement stores.

Hopefully the next update I give you will have a better ending, with another nice, new, shiny bathroom!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roast Beef Dinner & House Pics

Please CLICK HERE for more information on two great causes going on THIS Saturday, May 14th!

Last night I made a roast beef and potatoes alongside. On the stove top I made some green beans, much like this recipe.

It was really good, even though I wanted the meat a little more rare. I'm so not good at judging when is the best time to pull it out and how long to let it rest, etc.

Some house update pics, for those of you following along:

J modeling the size of the new fireplace. He's 6' for reference.

Downstairs closet and bathroom doors hung and framed out.

My daddy staining the doors.

The doors off, some shelves hung, and the frames stained.

A patch of grass in the backyard we accidentally killed. Whoops!

200' of baseboard stained. (Dad's working on installing it downstairs right now.)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Various Reviews

Sometimes Blogger uploads my pictures sideways for no reason. Even J, the web developer/programmer, can't figure it out. I usually fiddle around and re-save them to fix it, but for now, since I'm posting from a random computer and don't have much time, I'm leaving them sideways. Sorry!

I got these Magnum ice cream bars with a coupon from Foodbuzz. They come in a 3 pack box, and are usually in the $4-5 range, but these were on sale for $3 at my local store. All of the flavors had whey (boo) so J couldn't test them, and I went with my choice since I'd most likely be the only one eating them. (My dad's not big on dairy.)

It was pretty good. The milk chocolate was my least favorite part, I think I would have preferred dark chocolate. I liked the crunchy of the almonds and the ice cream was amazingly delicious and creamy (maybe the whey?). Honestly, unless I had the coupon I probably wouldn't buy them. $1+ for a lone bar is way out of this cheap frugal girl's budget.

I won Ally's AMAZING giveaway a few weeks ago. I literally screamed and called J over. This is, hands down, the awesomest giveaway I've won! I got 4 of these little cookbooks, an (unpictured) grocery bag, and 52 coupons (1 year's worth) for FREE Organic Valley products. Our store carries their milks and butter, but I'm hoping NC will have a wider variety of their products. It'll still be cool to not have to buy milk for a whole year! Thanks again, Ally!!!

I saw a commercial for these and wanted to try them. I'm not usually a cookie person, but something about these caught my interest. I had a coupon from the Sunday paper, so I got them.

Wow, they're good. The peanut butter ones were my #1 choice and are reminiscent of Girl Scout's Tagalongs. Dangerous, but oh so delicious.

I received a coupon through Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program and Magnum ice cream to purchase the bars. The photos and opinions are my own.

Do Good this Saturday!

Laura of Hey What's for Dinner Mom is hosting her annual Bake Sale for Share Our Strength to end nationwide hunger this Saturday, May 14th.

Click here to visit her site. You can donate via Paypal, shop for treats if you're local to her, and enter to win a cool, vintage giveaway!

Also, Stamp Out Hunger is this Saturday, May 14th too! To donate, simply place non-perishable foods in a bag out by your mailbox. Your letter carrier will collect the bags for local food banks.

Two simple ways to help combat hunger, here in our country. I hope you'll consider participating in one, or both!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pizza Night

Last night I made home made pizza, per my dad's suggestion. I used Biz's no-rise crust, except I let it rise.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup warm water
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast
1 Tbsp olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the dry yeast to the warm water. Let sit about 5 minutes, it will get cloudy and foamy. Add the olive oil, and stir.

In your mixer, pulse the flour, salt, and garlic powder together. Slowly pour in the liquid while it is running and let mix for 2-3 minutes. The dough will become really elastic and pull away from the sides in a big, warm ball. (TWSS) One batch of dough is enough for a larger, rectangle pizza (about 12" x 18") or 2 smaller, circle pizzas (about 10-12").

Grease a large bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover with a damp, clean towel and set in a warm spot to rise for a few hours.

Roll out over corn meal and voila! I usually prebake mine at 425° which makes it easier to add the sauce and other toppings. Then I finish it for about 20-30 minutes at 375-400°.

Ours used Newman's Own garlic sauce (we really liked it so I got more), fresh mozzarella cheese cut into slices, green pepper, onion, minced garlic, and some of my dad's breakfast sausage. Sprinkled with Italian spices and baked until brown and bubbly.

I served crudites with hummus alongside for extra veggie power.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wedding and House

Johnny and I went to his friend's wedding on Saturday. I think I look 86 instead of 26 in this pic. That's J's older brother photo bombing us, btw.

The reception food was delicious! We started with bread and had this delicious cream of chicken soup with rice.

Then a salad, and a family style dinner of the above yummies. Finished with a cherry jubilee dessert. Later they served fresh fruit and pastries. Here in the Midwest you take a slice of the wedding cake to go. Weird, huh!?

I thought this was so nice of the couple. They had these signs on each of the tables and around the room. I don't care what those bitchy opinionated brides on The Knot boards say, a donation in lieu of a favor is a really nice thought!

Yesterday we headed to J's parents' for Mother's Day. We got his mom this little greenhouse kit that J's younger brother put together for her. She's starting all of her plants for her big vegetable garden, so it'll come in handy.

She also just got her yearly shipment of baby chicks. (She raises hens for eggs.) It's always my favorite time of year when they arrive! I pick them up and snuggle them, they're so soft! These are about a week old and just fit in your hand.

Also, my dad's back in town. House progress where we left off - the downstairs' shower door is installed.

He grouted the tile floor down there and the cabinet and all electrical stuff (outlets, switches, lights) J installed.

J also swapped out our front door exterior light. The old one was on the house from when it was built in the mid-70s. It was really old, black, rusty, and full of wasp and spider nests. This makes the front look so much more inviting, I think!

And my FAVORITE progress of all -- my dad did this cement treatment on the fireplace. I just can't get over how awesome it looks! I'll have to get a picture of myself standing next to it to show you guys how big this is. It's such an awesome focal point of the room.