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I am a horrible person/Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake

I am a horrible person/Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake

Don’t hate me.

No really, don’t. It has been [insert unfathomable number of days here] since my last post. This makes me a horrible person and a really bad blogger. One of those people who never gets sponsors or subscribers or friends. Hello have you met me? I plant flowers [more on that soon, I swearonmymother] and have cats. They’re pretty much the only things that can depend on me… and the flowers are questionable. I promise I’m going to make an effort to do better with this blogging thing because [gasp] people have been asking for it. That’s right, you asked for it.

Now that the self-loathing portion of this post is over, let’s talk about a recipe I just tried out. I follow a lot of lovely blogs on bloglovin’. It’s a problem. My feed is filled with food, fashion, exercise (ha, okay, maybe one of those kinds of blogs), and even some blogs qualified as “lifestyle” which I think means “whatever I feel like telling you about today.” So yeah, I’m a lifestyle blogger, y’all. One food blogger I find myself going back to over and over again is Plain Chicken (aka Stephanie). I was pretty excited when I found out she’s from Alabama! I was kinda pissed when I found out she’s an Auburn fan. Despite her flaws, she makes good food and updates her blog very regularly (shut up). Check her out at http://www.plainchicken.com

This weekend she posted her weekly menu and it included a Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake that she adapted from a Southern Living recipe. My mom always told me I need to eat things with color (as she filled my plate with a baked potato, a piece of chicken, and corn… sorrynotsorry, mom) so I initially felt a little guilty about making this. It’s colorless. It’s also loaded with calories and things that are insanely bad for you. Not one, not two, but THREE cheeses. Alfredo. Sour cream (which, by the way, I loathe – but after a quick Instagram conversation with Stephanie @PlainChicken, she assured me I wouldn’t be able to taste it. She doesn’t lie!). Okay fine. It sounded delicious. I promised myself I would eat it in tiny portions over the next week. Or two. Freeze half of it?

Here are the details (copied and pasted exactly from Plain Chicken’s website):

1 (16-ounce) package penne or elbow macaroni
2 (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 garlic clove, minced
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and return to pot. Stir together all ingredients except mozzarella cheese. Spread mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

My notes: The recipe above will easily feed 12+ people. I split the recipe in half and would say it made 6-8 single servings. I only had the little spiral-y pasta (very scientific: spiral-y) at my house so that’s what I used and it was fantastic. I know there’s a pasta guru out there who will tell me why you should or shouldn’t use certain shapes of pasta in certain dishes but to me, it’s all the same. Use what you have or what you like! I like garlic. I don’t like buying a whole head of garlic just to use a clove or two. My solution? Buy a jar of minced stuff. It keeps *forever*, the measurement guide is right on the jar (ie 1/2 a teaspoon equals one minced clove. I think. Maybe you shouldn’t quote me on that.), and your fingers don’t get all stinky. I use Spice World brand and it’s fab. Get some. I forgot to mix the parm into the mixture so I sprinkled it on top with the mozz; it was fine. I had the carton of eggs on the counter but forgot to add the egg; it was fine. I am obviously awesome at following step-by-step directions. If you want your cheese to get brown and a little toasty on top, you’ll probably have to turn on the broiler for like two minutes and fifteen seconds. I’m not kidding. Watch that sucker. Broilers don’t mess around. Two minutes and sixteen seconds and you’re ordering a pizza.

Verdict: this stuff is good. It’s better than your standard “dump a can of condensed soup and some chicken into dish” kind of casserole. Mine actually came out a little dry. It could be because I didn’t use quite as much sour cream as it called for (it’s gross and I didn’t trust Stephanie. I’m sorry.). It’s also possible that I suck at measuring pasta and I used a little too much. If you have a magical way to measure pasta, namely the spiral-y kind, please share.

PS please excuse the not-so-pretty picture. This is not my favorite depiction of this dish. You’ll live. I’m a *lifestyle blogger* not a photographer, remember?

Snow Day & Enchiladas!

Snow Day & Enchiladas!

Okay, so if you haven’t heard about all of the snow down South, you live under a rock. I also want to know where this rock is so I can come visit to get away from my mother in law. You know, when I get a MIL. Although, I’m sure my MIL will be *splendid*. Moving on…

We got to leave work at 11:30 yesterday because the forecast went from “light dusting” to “EVERYBODY PANIC!” It took everyone I know anywhere from two hours to never-made-it-past-the-hill-let’s-turn-this-party-bus-around to get home. Thankfully, I chose some very random back roads to weave my way home and, by the grace of God, I made it without incident. If the conditions hadn’t been so dangerous, it actually would have been a beautiful scene. I love how quiet everything is when there’s a layer of snow on it!

Eventually, work announced that there would be no work today and I immediately did my happy SNOW DAY dance! Of course, it was tempered by my “and also Lord, I pray for those who are currently stranded on the interstate” dance. Because whoa, there were lots of people stranded in lots of places. My brother and sis-in-law were stuck at their respective places of employment overnight while many others were peeing in bottles in their cars (because yes, that’s what I think of… where will they pee?!) until traffic cleared up.

Anyway, with an impending mid-week snow day, I decided it would be the perfect time to attempt a new recipe a friend had passed along. Baked enchiladas filled with cheese and salsa and chicken! My friend’s exact recipe is in this post below, but here is how it went down for me:

First, don’t forget to grease the pan. I’m not confirming or denying that this happened to me, but should it happen to you, it might suck. Grease the pan.

Second, the recipe calls for 6-inch tortillas. Those are wee baby tortillas. I couldn’t find that size in the flour variety (and let’s be real, flour tortillas > corn tortillas). So I ended up with four pretty big enchiladas rather than 6-8 that the recipe predicts. All was good in the hood; the chicken filling is pre-cooked so the size of your enchiladas is moot, irrelevant, innocuous.. I could go on, but I won’t.

You know I didn’t use onions because, let’s say it together, onions are evil. But do whatever you want, I won’t judge.

I used a rotisserie chicken from Publix and it was delish. I recommend.

Verdict: semi-success. These were a little bland. I might try this recipe one more time with a few tweaks (my fingers wanted to type “twerks” there, why?). For one, better salsa from a local Mexican restaurant. Also, I might look harder for smaller tortillas. I think having more enchiladas in the [greased] pan, pushed against one another while baking, covered in better salsa would actually make these turn out more like enchiladas than just hot soft tacos. I ended up sprinkling Tony Chachere’s on it to kick up the salt and the spice, because hey, I put it on everything anyway. The best news is: this is a super easy recipe to customize your way!

Here’s the recipe:

1 Medium onion / chopped
2 Tbs margarine
1-2 cups shredded chicken (about 2 cooked breasts or buy pre-cooked)
1 12-16oz jar of salsa
3oz cream cheese
1 tsp cumin
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 6inch flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook onion in margarine until tender. Stir in chicken, 1/4 cup of salsa, cream cheese, and cumin. Cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in one cup of cheddar cheese.
Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture in center of tortilla, roll up, and place seam down into greased 12×7 dish. Top with remaining salsa and shredded cheese
Bake for 15 minutes

Serving suggestion: serve with iceberg lettuce salad with tomato and cucumber.

Resolution Success!

Resolution Success!

So I’m terrible at drinking water. I’m a child. I just don’t like it. Also, strangely enough, cold water aggravates my asthma (recently diagnosed with adult-onset; still navigating all that fun stuff). But water is SO GOOD for you and I believe in setting attainable resolutions. Eight glasses of water a day? Seems reasonable…

…if you don’t mind peeing every 20 minutes. Really. This is taking some getting used to. I bought a 32oz nalgene water bottle off Amazon (for some reason I feel the need to justify my Prime membership by ordering something at least once a week. Is that weird?) It was around $12 but they also have other sizes for less. I prefer the wide-mouth style because I can put ice in it (if I feel like challenging my asthma to a duel) and it’s easier to fill IMO. I drink two of these a day.

The best thing ever, though is a trick I found on Pinterest. If you write an hourly schedule right on your water bottle, you can more easily pace yourself throughout the day. I keep it on my desk at work and I actually really enjoy keeping up with the schedule. You end up only drinking a few ounces an hour and depending on what time you start, you’ll be finished by 9:00pm. Hopefully you won’t have to get up to pee during the night (because seriously, nothing pisses me off more than waking up to piss). I’ve seen some people who write an AM schedule on one bottle and a PM bottle on a second bottle – that’s dumb. Put it on the same bottle and just fill it up twice.

Verdict: Success! This seems so elementary, but I promise it has made all the difference in achieving my goal. Maybe it’s purely psychosomatic, but after only a week (bite me, I started my resolutions late this year) I swear I feel better.

Weekend Projects

Weekend Projects

My brother, [who abandoned me by moving an hour away last year… and then had a kid… which means my nephew is also an hour away… which means my brother is high on my ish list…] whom I love dearly, occasionally gets time to come and visit me. Mostly, I tell him that his to-do list has grown and he needs to MAKE time before it gets out of control.

This past weekend was no exception. After spending $200 [sheezus] at Lowe’s, we: fixed a dead plug in my kitchen, sealed a hole in the weather stripping in my front door, put my Christmas decorations (that were never actually placed over my mantel with care, oops) back in the attic, replaced the globe on my back porch ceiling fan (that broke after my brother and I had an argument about how secure it was/wasn’t the last time he was here. NOTE: I was right), replaced some burned out light bulbs (because what good is a man if he can’t help you do that?), and measured some back yard space for a future raised garden bed (more on that later!).

Also, as you can see in the picture above, we (okay he) installed some led rope lights around my back porch! I used to think these were skating rink cheesy when I saw them as exposed light fixtures. However, on my back porch, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out! They cast a warm, soft glow over the whole porch (enough to give me good aim should anyone else try to break in, so try it suckers), but it’s not enough light to come through closed blinds into the house or annoy the neighbors.

Verdict: A very expensive, though productive weekend. Success! Although, brother was not interested in eating my one pan pasta because, “he a man. He need meat.”

One Pan Pasta!

One Pan Pasta!

This weekend I decided to make a dish inspired by my friend, Sara. I love anything I can throw together in one pan and she said it was tasty enough that she would make it again – that’s a good enough review for me to give it a try!

Because I’m a single gal, I halved the recipe (click my photo to be taken to Martha Stewart’s recipe) so I wouldn’t have leftovers for days. I’m not crazy about re-heating pasta… or tomatoes for that matter.

Also, I hate basil so I used spinach. I used chicken broth instead of water (hellleeww water is blah). I left out the onions because onions are EVIL. Annnd I added corn because who doesn’t love corn??

The verdict: Other than the fact that I added too much red pepper (my lips were on FIYAH), it was tasty!! I think next time I’ll add some mushrooms and maybe some shrimp or chicken. Halving the recipe gave me enough for a full plate plus a full plate of leftovers. Success.