It's been a while since I last posted...And the reason is this:

I'm starting my junior year in college. 17 hours of classes, a job in the speech clinic, a job in one of the dorms, and clubs I am in will leave me with FAR less time than last year to blog. I'm living on my own so obviously I still have to cook to feed myself (and occasionally my hungry boyfriend), but I just don't have the time to take photos, upload them, write about what I cooked in detail, ect.

So I'm taking a hiatus for now, at least until I can get settled in and get my time-management skills honed. Maybe then I can find the time to blog consistently. Don't leave me though; I'll be blogging about once a week just to keep things going. And eventually I'll move back to my regular, consistent-ish posting about the food I love and love to make.

Hope everyone has a great school year! (or rest of the year if you're lucky and aren't in school)



Chicken Spaghetti

Since my boyfriend was in town visiting last week, I decided to take over a few of our family dinners so that my mom wouldn't be feeling overwhelmed (and to thank her for letting him stay longer!). One night I chose to make chicken spaghetti.
Please forgive me because I have NO idea where this recipe is from. It was first used to make chicken spaghetti for a dinner concert when I was in choir in high school. My mom was in charge of making a pan of it, so that's how we got the recipe. I probably haven't made this since high school, but after getting a craving for it and realizing that we already had most of the ingredients, I decided that it would be our dinner for the night.
This recipe makes a LOT of chicken spaghetti. I halved it and had enough for my family of four plus a hungry boyfriend. Unless you're cooking for a crowd (or want to freeze the other half) I would suggest halving this recipe.

Choir Concert Chicken Spaghetti
* 5 lb chicken
* 2 cans Swanson’s seasoned chicken broth
* 1 can mild Rotel
* 1 can cream of celery soup
* 1 can cream of mushroom soup
* 1 chopped onion
* 2 lbs (2 boxes) Velveeta
* 24 oz spaghetti

Boil chicken and cut into bite sized pieces (save chicken broth)
I used a whole chicken so that I could make some good broth with it (and have meat left over). You can use all white meat if you want, but I think that the dark meat gives the dish a little bit more flavor. I added chopped carrots and onion, along with salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley to flavor the broth. I boiled my chicken for about an hour, then turned the heat down to low and let it go for another 4 hours. You don't have to boil it that long. I just had things to do that day, and wanted to give it awhile. Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, take it out of the broth pot and chop it or shred it into small pieces. Save your broth for later in the recipe. 

Notice the A&W can by the chicken...My dad was helping me chop. :)

Combine soups, broth, onion, and 1/2 of the Velveeta
I just used 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) of the broth from the chicken instead of canned broth. I combined them in a large pot (because this is the pot you will add the chicken and spaghetti to), and stirred them over low heat until they melted together. 

Add chicken and mix on stove top until cheese melts
Then I added my shredded chicken to the mix and mixed it well. 

Add spaghetti to mixture
Finally, I mixed in spaghetti that I had already cooked the night before and put in the fridge. It was just easier not having to worry about the extra step of cooking my noodles at the time. 

Put mixture in pan and cover with remaining Velveeta cheese and bake at 350 until cheese melts (about 30 minutes)
I then spooned the mixture into a glass baking dish, and sprinkled it with small pieces of the Velveeta. I spent waaaay too much time cutting that smooshy cheese into little cubes. Once I was almost finished I asked my mom how she did it and she replied, "I just grated it over the spaghetti with a cheese grater". Duh. Don't make my mistake. Just grate the cheese. Or "cheese". 
For once, I actually followed the baking directions and baked it for exactly 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The Velveeta wasn't completely melted into the spaghetti, but that was because of the way I cut it (see above). It still tasted delicious. Except my corner didn't have Velveeta on top. Because I was already eating enough cheese on the inside. I didn't need any more of it on top. 

The verdict? Both family and boyfriend were pleased. I think I'll be taking this one up to college with me. Except I'll make a full batch and freeze the rest. You never know when you'll need a quick meal ready after a long day of classes. 


Makeover Monday

I got to see my apartment for the very first time last Saturday, and I pretty much fell in love. Yeah, it's small (550 or so square feet). Yeah, my kitchen is a little bit outdated. Okay a lot outdated. Yeah my bedroom doesn't have a light. 

But the carpet is soft, everything is in great condition, and I pretty much have a blank slate to work with in terms of decorating. All of the walls are white, except for one wall in the living room that's painted tan. Now that I've actually seen MY apartment, I'm on inspiration overload, taking the things I have and pairing them with ideas from my head and from the Internet (mostly Pinterest). 

Since my kitchen is outdated appliance-wise, it's up to me to modernize it and clean it up. I've fallen in love with the idea of hanging my knives on the wall with a magnetic strip. I want to remove my cabinet doors and have open cabinets. I'd love to paint but that's definitely out of the question. So the next item on my makeover list is finding a way to make my kitchen look cute without losing my (very expensive) deposit at the end of my lease.

I've heard of removing cabinet doors around the Internet, but when I found this technique used in this inexpensive small kitchen makeover, I liked it a whole lot more. I just feel like I have too much clutter for this to work in my life. I guess it could become my motivation to keep things clean? Anyway, here's the before:

And here are the afters. I LOVE the FiestaWare in these open cabinets/shelves. 

Notice how they repackaged spices and dry goods in pretty glass jars and cute tins. 

 I'm definitely using the idea of framed photos to fill the white space between the counter/oven and the cabinets. It gives the space more of a home-y feeling.

This makeover isn't drastic like the others, but I chose it because it has practical ideas that I can use in my own space. It didn't require a lot of money, time, or effort, which means I can easily duplicate it as well. Can you believe how much of a difference removing some cabinet doors can make? Now I'm tempted to get my screwdriver out...


Fantastic Finds Friday

As I squeeze the last few drops from Summer 2011 with beach trips and snowcones and laying outside to watch the sunset, I bring to you this week's Fantastic Finds Friday theme: the coconut.

It simply screams warm weather and chilly drinks, and that is why I decided to use it. I go back to school in  a little more than a week, and I am nowhere near ready. With this, I can enjoy my last little bit of vacation before my life becomes crazy and hectic once again.

From Top Left: Coconut pancakes with bananas, Coconut cupcakes, Coconut icecream, Coconut macaroons, Coconut-white chocolate blondies, and Coconut-Hazelnut-Mocha Mousse
(all images from Weheartit)


Nutella & dulce de leche - What more could you need?

I bought a giant jar of Nutella from WalMart the other day, and after eating half of it on tortillas and by the spoonful, I decided that I needed to make something with it before I ate the rest of it. After searching "local" blogs, I found Just Putzing Around the Kitchen and her dulce de leche-Nutella loaf cake. Having made a batch of dulce de leche a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this recipe would do quite nicely. However, when reading that it required a cup of vanilla ice cream and realizing that I did not have said ice cream, I was discouraged. So I just changed the recipe up a bit like I usually do. :) Instead of using the vanilla ice cream called for, I used 1 cup of whole milk along with 1/2 cup regular white sugar.
(Recipe borrowed from JustPutzing)

- 1 cup vanilla ice cream, melted at room temperature.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup dulce de leche
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 1-1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix together ice cream, eggs, vanilla, and dulce de leche until well-combined. The dulce de leche will make the batter clumpy, but just keep working at it until everything is smooth.

Add dry ingredients.

Pour most of the batter into a greased/floured loaf pan. Save about 1/2 cup for later.

Add nutella to the loaf pan in well-spaced spoonfuls. Top with remaining batter. Then, run a knife through the whole thing to create a nice swirl/marbled pattern.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake starts to come away from the side of the pan.

This cake turned out okay. I probably shouldn't have substituted the whole milk/sugar for the vanilla ice cream, but I'm not patient enough to wait and buy it. The outsides were completely done after 35 minutes, but the middle was almost raw. Boo. I didn't want to cook it anymore because I didn't want it to get too dry. After letting it sit on the counter for a while, however, the inside firmed up a bit. This cake wasn't too sweet, which some may not like but was fine for me. I spread it with a mixture of Nutella and dulce de leche, and ate it with a glass of coconut milk. Yum.