Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sweet Musings



The last few weeks have flown by. I had my bacherlorette party, then my annual work conference, then took a road trip to Florida with one of my besties. At work I interviewed temps to come in and handle some of my workload while I'm gone for 2 1/2 weeks, and then began training that temp. All of these things were back-to-back weeks/weekends which took up the majority of May.

And now, as we sit 13 days away from the wedding, I'm doing everything in my power not to lose my marbles from anxiety. Not that I'm anxious about getting married, I couldn't be more excited about that. But I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my own life. I'm a planner. An obsessive planner, some might say. And the idea that I am going to have to relinquish control on the wedding day, gives me serious anxiety. I know that the family members stepping in to help are more than capable and I'm very grateful, but it's just my nature to want to have my hands on every aspect and be there to ensure that every last detail is perfect. And I can't be. I have to be off doing bride-y things like hair and makeup, and then can't let J see me until ceremony time. Which means once I leave my hotel room the morning of the wedding, I won't be able to see the venue until I arrive for the wedding. 

Add to that the immense amount of rain we have been getting lately...like, for the last month...and the fear that it could be raining on my supposed-to-be-an-outdoor-wedding day, and it just makes my head hurt. 

Are any of these things that actually warrant worry? No. And logically I know this. All that really matters on that day is that I get to marry my best friend. And come rain or shine; if the cake gets knocked onto the floor; if dj equipment malfunctions; or any number of other possible things go wrong, it really doesn't matter, so long as we stand up there and say our vows. Yet I worry anyway. I stress, I panic inside, and I write out lists and call for help from my parents. Deep down I know that all will be juuust fine. We're bound to see some sort of hiccup, that's almost inevitable, but in the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be wonderful and amazing and perfect. I just have to survive the 13 days leading up to it. Ha!

13 days and counting down...to the most amazing day of my life thus far. And as amazing as it will be...it will only be the beginning. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Burrito Bowl Soup

Do you ever got to those chain burrito restaurants? You know, Chipotle or Freebirds or the like? I used to go somewhat regularly when I was in my twenties, and then I hadn't been for years, until a few months ago. I used to always get tacos, but when I returned, I decided to try a burrito bowl. Uh...yum! And then when I saw a recipe for a burrito bowl soup, I thought...why not?!?


Pork Carnitas Burrito Bowl Soup


I know it's warming up outside and many people just can't eat soup if it isn't cold, but it's not too warm yet, so maybe you can squeeze it in, yet? Or save this recipe for when winter rolls back around, at least. J doesn't mind eating soup no matter what the time of year, so I get to try new recipes year-round and that's always nice. 

Now, this one is a crock pot recipe, which is always nice for the weekends or overnight cooking. Or for some, while you're at work. That never works for me (unless J is home for the day) because I'm gone for almost 10 hours and our crock pot doesn't have a timer setting on it. And nobody wants to come home to burnt crock pot food. Noooo one.

But let me tell you how good your house will smell and how loud your taste buds will sing when you taste this soup and all it's southwester, tex-mex-y flavors. It's ah-maz-ing. Fo' sho! So, if you are a year-round soup lover, you need to try this asap! And the rest of you...don't forget about it come winter time!

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Burrito Bowl Soup
Adapted from  Go Go Go Gourmet

Ingredients
  • 2-3 lbs pork shoulder or pork carnitas meat
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 sprig thyme (or 2 tsp dried thyme)
  • 32 oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2½ cups rice
For topping (what I used, but you can customize to your own liking!)
  • diced tomato
  • diced avocado 
  • grated cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped green onions
  • hot sauce
  • lime wedges, for squeezing!

Preparation
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and brown each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and add to a slow cooker.
  2. Add the sprig of thyme or sprinkle with dried thyme, and pour the chicken or vegetable stock over the pork. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 6-7 hours, until the pork is tender and falling apart.
  3. Use two forks (or a stand mixer and the paddle attachment) to shred the pork. Stir in the beans and rice and cook an additional 30-60 minutes on High, until the rice is tender.
  4. Spoon the soup into bowls, and top with your choice of toppings and a squeeze of lime juice.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Sweet Musings



How is it already May 4th??? Hooooowwwww???

April was a whirlwind, that's for sure. I had 3 bridal showers, and then, my bachelorette party this past Saturday to start off the May whirlwind. It is insane. But, I'm happy to report that we have everything pretty much nailed down for the big day. Now, we just wait 32 more days and do this thang!!! Of course, the next month is going to be chaotic and busy with a work conference, a girl's road trip to Florida and you know, the wedding! But I couldn't be happier. I quit my second job as of April 30th which will free up some much-needed time, and I feel like a weight has been lifted. A little weight, but weight nonetheless. 

I have this really bad habit of over-committing myself, and let me just tell you...that wears a girl out after awhile. But I suppose staying busy is better than being bored? That's what I'm gonna go with...ha!

Oh! We finally got our engagement pictures back. I love them :) I'll give you all a little peek. 






Have I mentioned how much I love this man?? A time or two, maybe? Because...I do!! And I can't wait to say those words to him in 32 days!! Squee!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Ok you guys. I know I've been absent for awhile now - again. But the recipe I'm sharing with you today is more than worth the wait, I promise!!

Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

It's been a busy couple of weeks with bridal showers, 2 dress fittings - one of which caused a bridezilla-worthy, tear-filled meltdown by yours truly, and a zillion other little things I can't even think of at the moment. But on the bright side, I put in my notice at my second job and as of the end of this month I will be done with that. It was a good 9 months there, but this girl needs her nights back!! And you know, the whole wedding planning thing, too. Can you believe we're just 45 days away from the BIG DAY?!?! I can't. I mean...waiting for it, planning for it for all these months and months, and here we are a mere 6 weeks away. I'm beside myself with excitement, but in true Jaida fashion, with all that planning, inadvertently comes stress and worry.  It's a part of my DNA I'm afraid. I know it will be an amazing day and at the end of it, even if there are some hiccups, I will be married to my bestest friend. Mush mush mush. I know, I know. 

So hows about I tell you about this amazing leetle stuffed pepper instead? I love shrimp, no doubt about that, but J is sort of hit or miss about it. Basically it needs to be coated and/or covered in a sauce and then he loves it. So...smother it in a creamy sauce and stuff it in a poblano pepper? Anything for you, dear! I even kept the onions (which I don't like) and celery (which he doesn't usually like) in it this time and we both loved it! I mean, it has cream cheese it in too, so what's not to love??? Not a single, solitary bite. It takes a little time with cooking the shrimp, cutting it up then making the sauce. But not too much time. Not so much time that it is not still feasible for a weeknight dinner. 

Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos 2

Oh, and that crunchy panko on top?? Perfect with the creamy filling!!

Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers
As seen on Taste of Home

Ingredients
  •  4 large poblano peppers
  •  Cooking spray
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  •  1 Tbsp butter
  •  1 small onion, finely chopped
  •  2 celery ribs, diced
  •  4 oz cream cheese, softened
  •  1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, cooked and chopped
  •  1-3/4 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  •  1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  •  2 Tbsp lemon juice
  •  1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  •  1/2 tsp onion powder
  •  1/2 tsp garlic powder
  •  1 cup Panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
  •  1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •  2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with foil. 
  2. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and discard seeds. Place peppers, cut side down on the prepared baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese until it's melted, then add the shrimp, cheese , rice, lemon juice, cilantro and seasonings. Cook until heated through. 
  4. Remove peppers from oven (leave the oven on 350) and carefully flip over (still on the baking sheet) so the cut side is facing up. Spoon a generous amount of the shrimp mixture into each of the pepper halves. 
  5. Combine the panko, Parmesan and melted butter in a bowl and stir well. Spoon a good amount over each of the filled pepper halves. Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until topping is golden brown. 



Friday, April 10, 2015

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

TGIF, friends! Because it's Friday, and because I've been enjoying some delicious Mexican food this week, I thought it only right that I share this yummy enchilada recipe with you today!

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

This has been an exciting week as far as wedding things go. I sent out our wedding invitations on Monday and when I heard that people had started receiving them mid-week, I was just a little too excited. I mean, when the invitations go out, that sort of makes it more...official, no? Being under the 2 month marker is exciting in itself, then there are the invitations, but then...then I get to pick my dress up from alterations this afternoon and have my final fitting. Now that is going to be exciting. 

And as if that weren't enough, I have two bridal showers this weekend!! One tonight with J's family...a lingerie shower, at that! And one tomorrow with my frieeends! That one is at the Deep Eddy Distillery...so, yeah. Fun times will be had by all!

But what you really want to hear about is the food, right? Well, these enchiladas right here were miiiiighty good. I'm typically prone to sticking with "basic" enchiladas...chicken, ground beef, etc. but there's just something enticing about the title "Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce" don'tcha think? So I had to try them. And I'm glad I did. They were pretty easy to make, and more than a little bit delicious. I think we ate them all that night. No leftovers this round. 

So, since the weather is warming up, what better time to indulge in some tasty Mexican food. And margaritas. Definitely margaritas.

Steak Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce
As seen on Will Cook for Smiles

Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 lb sirloin steak
  • Salt & white pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • salt & white pepper, to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp minced cilantro
  • 8-10 tortillas (I use a corn and whole wheat blend)
  • 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Jalapeno slices and cilantro for topping, if preferred


Preparation
  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add jalapeno and garlic and saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant. 
  2. Stir in the heavy cream and Greek yogurt and whisk until smooth. Bring to a low boil and add cheese, salt, white pepper, chili powder and cumin. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the steak into thin strips. Heat a little bit of oil in a skillet, add the steak and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Slice steaks as thin as you can. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until steak is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. 
  5. To assemble the enchiladas, place a sprinkle of cheese on the part of the tortilla closest to you, then tope with several slices of steak. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the tortilla up. Place into the baking dish, seam side down and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. 
  6. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 17-19 minutes.
  7. Serve with jalapeno slices and cilantro, if you'd like. 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Taco Tuesday: Salmon Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

As the days count down, my stress level seems to be steadily climbing and I'm not even really sure why. I mean, there isn't much to stress about. I'm marrying the love of my life, almost everything is booked and paid for, and other than the last minute things that can't be done any sooner, everything is pretty much done. Yet I stress anyway. Invitations were mailed out yesterday, making it sort of "more official" and then someone tells me to add 10% to my guest count for people who don't RSVP.

Um...who doesn't RSVP to a wedding and shows up anyway?? Seriously...do people do that?? I know people sometimes RSVP yes and then don't show up, but to not RSVP at all and then actually show up? I just can't even fathom that. Don't people know that food, alcohol, favors, seating, etc. are all planned around the people who say they are going to BE THERE?? Maybe this is a small source of my current stress?? Perhaps? For cryin' out loud people, just RSVP!! /rant

So, for the next two months I'm going to be dreaming of tropical breezes and adventures in Costa Rica, not stressing about RSVPs. And tropical paradise means tropical paradise-y food. Like salmon tacos, perhaps. Like these salmon tacos.

Salmon Tacos

I would say that J and I eat salmon either once a week or once every two weeks, at the longest, so I'm always looking for new ways to make it. Salmon tacos could be a hit or a miss, depending on what accompanies them. But, with this slaw and Sriracha aioli, there was no way for this one to be a miss. 

Sriracha is becoming one of those ingredients that is making an appearance more and more often in our kitchen these days and that spicy kick it gives to...everything...is one that we love! It goes great with the cool, creamy slaw and crispy, grilled salmon. Make these tonight and pretend you're in tropical paradise with us!

Salmon Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw
As seen on Willow Bird Baking

Ingredients

Cilantro-Lime Slaw Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayo, miracle whip, or plain Greek yogurt
  • fresh lime juice from half a lime
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 4 tsp sugar (or honey - I used honey)
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • about 4 cups slaw mix (bagged cabbage and carrot shreds)
Sriracha Aioli Ingredients
  • ½ cup mayo, miracle whip, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • fresh lime juice from half a lime
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • pinch salt
Taco Ingredients
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb salmon 
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 tortillas (I use a corn and whole wheat blend)
  • cilantro and sliced jalapeƱos, for topping

Preparation
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together mayo, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, Sriracha, and sugar or honey until well combined. In another bowl, combine the cilantro and slaw mix. Stir the mayo mixture into the slaw mixture, a little at a time, tossing to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. The farther in advance you can do this, the better the flavors will meld. 
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the mayo, Sriracha, lime juice, cumin, sugar or honey, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  3. In yet another bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt. Rub the spice mix on the salmon (on both sides if it's skinless, but on just the exposed side if it's skin-on.) 
  4. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place the fish in skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4-5 minutes before turning over and cooking for 4 minutes on the other side. While the other side is cooking, use tongs to remove the skin and discard. Flip the salmon one last time and cook the skin-removed side for a couple of minutes. Then, use a spatula to break the salmon up into smaller pieces for the tacos. 
  5. To assemble the tacos, warm your tortillas and top with a couple of spoonfuls of the slaw, a good bit of salmon, some cilantro and jalapeno slices, and finally a good drizzle of the Sriracha aioli. Get your tastebuds ready for some heat and dig in!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sweet Musings



Today we have officially reached the 2 month countdown. Is this the point where I start counting in days, versus months? I mean, our wedding website has shown days for....well, since the day I created it. So I guess I will get on board...60 days. Sixty days, y'all. I spent several hours sitting at our dining room table on Saturday folding, stuffing, stamping, stuffing, more stamping and writing out addresses on our wedding invitations. I'm currently staring at the box full of them, ready to be mailed out today. 

I'm not sure how we know so. many. people. But, I do know that what matters most is sharing the biggest day in both of our lives thus far with those we are closest to. We are both blessed with fairly big families, and some good friends, and some family that are also good friends!

J and I were at one of his sisters' houses yesterday for Easter and as one of his nieces introduced me to her neighbor, I heard a few of his (grown, with kids of their own) nieces say that I would be their...aunt. It was so weird to hear. Why, you ask? Because these nieces are all of 5-10 years younger than me. It cracks me up. J's sisters are all a good bit older than him, so most of his nieces and his nephew are in their mid- to late-twenties. One may be thirty. I will be 35 in August. But, whatever the "title" is, I love these girls, and this family, and I'm very fortunate that I have a good relationship with them all. I know not a lot of people are so blessed. 

So, as we count down the last 60 days before the big day, I know just how lucky I am. Not only for the man that I'm about to marry, but for the family that I am also inheriting. And on the flip side, my family adores him as well. And, how could they not?? 


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