Friday, July 30, 2010

Fresh Broccoli Chicken and Pasta Toss

I've made this recipe once before and it was an instant favorite!  It's so simple to make plus it's healthy and super-tasty!  

2-1/2 cups whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked
3 cups  fresh broccoli florets
1/4 cup Kraft Calorie-Wise Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 lb.  (225 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups  tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 cup Mozzarella Shredded Cheese 
My first step with this recipe is to start heating the water for the pasta.  I would recommend using a larger pot than you normally would for this--I almost ran out of room!
Next, I start cutting up the chicken breasts.  I generally use two fairly large chicken breasts for this recipe and freeze the third.  You don't want the chicken chunks to be too big--bite size is just about perfect.
After the chicken is cut up, measure out the 1/4 cup of the Zesty Italian Dressing.  The recipe calls for the Calorie-Wise dressing, but if your not worried about calories any Zesty Italian will do.
Pour the dressing into a large non-stick skillet.  If, like me, you don't have a non-stick skillet, add another good squeeze of dressing so that the bottom of the skillet is covered.  Put the burner on medium heat so the dressing starts to warm.  

By this point, the water for the past should be boiling, so go ahead and dump in the penne pasta.  Generally I use about half a box.  Bring the water back up to a boil.  It will take the pasta about 12 minutes to cook--plenty of time for the next few steps!
Next, add the cut up chicken to the warming dressing, along with the 3 cloves (or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons) of garlic.
Stir the dressing, garlic and chicken together and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.  I cooked mine for a bit longer, until the chicken was almost done.  At that point, I measure out the tomato-basil sauce and the broccoli florets.  

Add the sauce to the chicken mix and continue cooking the chicken for another 5 minutes, or until the chicken is done.

Three minutes before the pasta finishes cooking (or about two minutes after adding the sauce to the chicken) add the broccoli florets to the pasta.  Make sure you don't let the broccoli boil with the pasta for much longer than three minutes--I made that mistake this last time and the broccoli was really soft.  It still tasted great, but didn't have as nice a texture.

Once the pasta is done, drain the pasta-broccoli mixture.  Dump it into a large serving bowl and then add the finished chicken mixture.  Mix everything together thoroughly.

Now it's time to add the Mozzarella!  The recipe calls for one cup, but I used more.  I love cheese!

Total time--preparation and cooking--was only about 30 minutes.  Bryan and I each ate a big bowl, and there was still enough for him to take leftovers for lunch the next two days!  That's what I call a great recipe!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

I've been following Laura over at I'm An Organizing Junkie for a couple of months now.  She has some absolutely wonderful organizing tips and tricks.  This summer I have started planning our menus for the week, and it has been wonderful!  Though I do have to confess that I have not been sticking with the menu planning for the past couple of weeks.

However, this week I shall try to start again!  We will be eating out tonight because of my late start with this planning session, and one other time because our friend Allie is coming in and we want to take her out to dinner at least one night while she's here!  So, on to planning!

Breakfast: Cottage cheese with berries, oatmeal, bagel thin with cream cheese, or yogurt

Lunch:  Sandwich with either cucumber chips or a yogurt OR leftovers 

Monday:   out to eat
Tuesday:  Fresh Broccoli Chicken and Pasta Toss
Wednesday:  out to eat
Thursday:  Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken
Friday:  Hawaiian Pita Pizzas (or pepperoni and mushroom, cheese, whatever!)
Saturday and Sunday:  leftovers or crab meat salad

Of course, this weekend we'll be in Waco for a wedding party (I can't call it a shower anymore--Bryan doesn't like that word lol) so Saturday we'll eat there.  It's going to be so much fun, I can't wait!

It feels good to have a plan again. :-)

Not ME! Monday

"Not Me!" Monday is a blog ring started by MckMama!  It's a ton of fun!  I found it through Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife.  It's so much fun to share all the things I have *not* been doing, and read what everyone else has *not* been up to as well!

This past weekend was our annual River Cabin family reunion on the Llano!  It was wonderful to see everyone who came, and it is amazing how BIG all the kiddos are getting!

Speaking of, my baby fever did NOT get worse being around my 10 month old cousin Townes.  I definitely did NOT pick her up and carry her around, even though that's against my restrictions.  And I did NOT love every minute of it!  NOT ME!

My heart did NOT melt watching Bryan play with her too.  I also did NOT get warm and fuzzy feelings watching him rough house and throw some of the older kiddos while we were swimming in the river.  I did NOT day dream about seeing him at the River Cabin with our future little one.  NOT ME!

I did NOT leave Paddington off all weekend.  I did NOT use the excuse that we were taking random trips down to the river and swimming hole to justify leaving the brace off.  After all, it's NOT like I could have just taken it off and left it on my towel.  I would *never* use specious arguments to avoid following doctor's orders.  NOT ME!

Speaking of doctor's orders, I also did NOT drink two vodka-pomegranate drinks and definitely did NOT follow those up with three beers--all on the same day!  NOT ME!

I was NOT glad that Bryan remembered to pack the camera since I definitely did NOT completely forget about it until we were 5 hours down the road.  I would *never* leave on a weekend trip without my camera!  NOT ME!

I did NOT take an insane amount of pictures for the day and a half we were there.  I did NOT insist on people looking at the camera even when they were in the middle of eating or talking.  I am NOT that rabid of a photographer.  NOT ME!

That said, I did NOT forget to bring my camera down to the river.  I also did NOT forget to bring it to the swimming hole.  I am NOT mad at myself for missing some great picture opportunities, and I am NOT incredibly glad that my cousin Gina had her super-nice camera at both spots!  NOT ME!  At least someone got pictures!

I also did NOT eat waaay to much fried fish (and everything else!).  I made a commitment to myself to eat better and I would *never* throw that out the window because I'm faced with wonderful family favorites.  NOT ME!

Today, I am NOT watching a SuperNanny marathon instead of getting my house ready for our guest that's coming tomorrow.  I am NOT super-excited to see Allie after TWO YEARS!!!  I will NOT put off making the upstairs ready until tomorrow, and will NOT use finishing laundry and recovering from the 6 hour drive back as an excuse!  NOT ME!

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sex Ed

When I was in high school, seeing a pregnant girl walking around the halls was shocking.  People would avoid making eye contact with her, and there would definitely be whispers.  That reaction makes sense to me--a pregnant teenager SHOULD be a shocking anomaly. 

At the high school I teach at now, it is completely normal to see pregnant students in the hall way.  Last year, I saw a student who must have been seven or eight months along making her way to class.  Another time, I went to the nurse's office to get clinic passes and got to listen to three girls--all under seventeen--compare and contrast their OBGYNs.  One of the girls was also talking about how excited she was that her little boy was going to have a sibling. 

That's right, she was pregnant with her second.  At sixteen.

Babies having babies.  For some reason, it has become socially acceptable.  Hell, look at The Secret Life of the American Teenager!  Supposedly, that show was going to emphasize the hardships of being a teenage parent.  I've seen several episodes, and the hardships are glossed over, accepting friends and peers emphasized, and parents are always on hand to help out (even though they repeatedly tell the teenager that its "her baby and her responsibility").  In other words, it glorifies being a teenage parent. 

It makes my stomach turn.   

As a teacher, I find myself in the awkward position of overhearing students talking about their sex lives.  Sometimes, one of my girls will come to me with some sort of problem or for advice.  In that one-on-one situation, I tell them exactly what I think:

1) Y'all are too young to be having sex.  You don't know who you are OR who you will become, and these boys have no clue who they are.  If you don't know that, you shouldn't be having sex.
2) If you are going to make that decision, be smart and make the boy wear a condom.  If he cares about YOU and not just about the sex, he'll put one on.  Condoms prevent babies AND diseases.

Now, that #2 could get me in trouble if I was actually telling it to groups of students.  You see, I am an employee of a public school district and, due to state funding attached to sex education policies, the official stance is that abstinence is all the kids need to be taught.  Which, obviously, is working wonders for teen pregnancy and STD statistics (note the sarcasm).  

However, when one of my girls comes to me one-on-one and asks me for advice, I am honest with them.  They've trusted me, and I will not betray that with some stupid platitude.  

I hear the objections now:  But it's the parents' jobs to educate them on such matters! 

Hey, I couldn't agree more!  And if the parents of my students were actually INVOLVED and BEING PARENTS, I would agree.  However, at my school, the majority of the time that is not the case--parents are either absent, disengaged or too busy trying to be their kids' friends.

I just hope that for the ones with whom I've had "the conversation", something stuck.  If they decide to wait to have sex, or at least decide to make the boy wear a condom, then I've done some good. 

Once a student is pregnant, I can't advise much.  I can be a sympathetic ear, or a reality check in response to whining.  Because I am a teacher, and thus an authority figure, the only tangible advice I can give on what the student should do about the pregnancy is that she needs to tell her parents AND the school counselor.  The counselor can help the student tell her parents and help them discuss options.  Thank God the counselors at my high school are amazing!

Maybe some day, the legislators in Austin will realize that high schools (and junior highs too!) need a viable sex education program that actually addresses the realities of today's teenagers.  Of course, expecting that is similar to expecting their legislation to actually respect the realities of the classroom--it's a waste of time and energy.  And I am not some crusader, to charge the Capitol and demand change--we need my paycheck too much for the next few years.

So, I will continue to advise those few students who come to me, and hope it makes a difference. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happiness Is...

Spending time with family!

Getting to see my husband show people around his workplace and listening to him explain what he does!  I'm so proud of him.

Having lunch with my husband! 
It was so neat getting to eat lunch with him at work.

Buying my younger cousin books!

Drinking tea!

Buying a TON of new clothes at extremely good prices!

Being able to put my feet up and relax in my wonderful clean house!

Reading a brand new book!

Watching the dogs play!

Knowing that, as much as I dread returning to work, there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Basically, I've had two wonderful days in a row, and am reflecting on the highlights :-D.  Tomorrow should be just as wonderful--and Mark and Alicia are coming over for dinner!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday!

It's time once again for Post-It Note Tuesday! 
This blogring was started by Supah Mommy, and I found it through my friend Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife!

Today was a wonderful day!  

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not ME! Monday and the Attack of the Munchies

"Not Me!" Monday is a blog ring started by MckMama!  It's a ton of fun!  I found it through Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife.  It's so much fun to share all the things I have *not* been doing, and read what everyone else has *not* been up to as well!

This past week, I have *not* been overeating.  I have *not* blamed this on the fact that I am starting my period this week and have *not* stopped even trying to curtail the munchies.  NOT ME!

On Wednesday, for example, I did *not* use being upset with my husband as an excuse to eat a horrible dinner.  I would never use my emotional state as an excuse for bad eating habits.  NOT ME!

I did *not* eat almost an entire DiGiorno stuffed-crust pepperoni pizza by myself.  I did *not* suck down three Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheats while doing so, and absolutely did *not* finish all that off with a pint of Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt with brownie and chocolate chip cookie dough chunks.  And I did *not* enjoy every single second.  NOT ME!

Thursday, I did *not* make a huge dinner--meatloaf, green bean casserole and baked sweet potatoes.  It's my husband's favorite :-).  I did *not* have a second helping, even though I was already full.  NOT ME!

Bryan and I did *not* eat the leftovers from Thursday on Friday night and I did *not* give us both huge servings so that all the leftovers would be gone.  NOT ME!

Saturday, I did *not* make ANOTHER huge dinner--salad and spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.  At least this time mom and Brooke were over, so Bryan and I had people to share the food with.  I did *not* overfill my bowl with pasta.  NOT ME!

On Sunday mom bought lots of snicky snacks to take over to my friend Alicia's while we got our hair done.  I did *not* eat the majority of these snacks, and definitely did *not* eat FOUR of Alicia's delicious peanut butter-raspberry jam baked bars.  NOT ME!

And then Brooke and I did *not* go to the store to buy MORE snacks and I did *not* serve leftover spaghetti again for dinner last night.  NOT ME!

In regards to the leftovers, I have *not* been being lazy on the menu planning.  I would never slack off on organizing my household meal plan in favor of large, heavy meals that last several days.  NOT ME!

Oh, and I have *not* been drinking way more often than I'm technically supposed to.  NOT ME!

As a result of all this, I did *not* go to the gym and hold my own personal water aerobics class on Friday morning.  And I  have *not* been avoiding weighing in this week.  I am *not* that much of a coward.  NOT ME!

Hope everyone else has *not* been having a healthier week than I have, and that y'all have *not* had a great Monday!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Single Child Stigma

On Facebook the other day, one of my friends posed the question: "Is there a right answer to the question: 'Why do you want to have more kids?'"

Most people issued a statement along the lines of: 
"Of course you need to have at least one more child!  Your first child needs someone to learn from/help care for you in your old age/have company if something happens to you/etc." 

And of course, the only-child stereotypes were brought up--if you have only one, they will be socially inept, they will be spoiled, they will lack basic human interaction skills, and so forth.

These lines of logic really struck a nerve with me.  To address the stereotypes first, parents have a GREAT deal of control over how their child develops.  If they only have one child, they need to take steps to socialize that child and teach them how to interact with others.  And spoiled children are a direct result of permissive parents, not a result of being only children.

In my experience, the only children I know are wonderfully adjusted people with healthy and strong interpersonal relationships, jobs and productive lives.

In regards to the other arguments for having more than one child, the one that bothers me the least is the child needing someone to learn from.  I assume that, by this, the person meant social skills and interaction--which again, if the parents are doing their jobs, can be done through other socialization methods than sibling interaction.

As far as having another kid to share the burden of caring for aging parents, I have to admit that there is a certain anthropological logic to it.  However, you're assuming that both (or all) children will be ABLE and WILLING to care for aging parents.  That's not always the case.  Financial issues could be there, or health issues on the part of the kids, or, heaven forbid, a falling out in the family.  Or everyone might live in different states!  So, having another child just so that your first born doesn't have to care for you all by him or herself seems to be based on some pretty big assumptions.

Now comes the one that bothers me the most:  you need to have at least two children so that, when mom and dad are gone, they have someone.  Basically, as with the above reason, according to this logic you are bringing a second child into the world to fulfill the perceived emotional needs of the first.  That is one of the worst reasons to have another child!

Don't get me wrong--I have a little brother, and I would not trade Austin for the world.  We are best friends and I don't even want to imagine what my life would be like if he were not here.  BUT I also know many siblings who barely talk to one another, who cannot get along for more than a few hours in the same room, and who relate to each other only through the obligation of blood.  So assuming that having at least two children means that they are going to have some sort of emotional need met solely based on being siblings is, in my opinion, false logic.

Also, I have found that, in the absence of blood-siblings, life, fate or God (take your pick) often PROVIDES us with brothers and sisters.  Take Victoria and Bryanne-Michelle, my best friends.  We might not be related by blood, but they are my sisters.  My little brother's best friend Mike is his brother (and my little brother #2).  So even with Austin and I--who are siblings--we have others who fall into those roles.  So worrying that an only child will never know the sibling bond is not necessary--while not identical, they will form bonds that are similar in strength and composition.

So now that I've torn through the expressed reasons for having more than one child, let me clarify something:  I think having more than one child is wonderful, if it is right for your family.  Make sure that your family is emotionally and financially ABLE to add another child--working in a low-income public school district, I see the consequences of so-called parents who never took that into consideration, and let me tell you, they aren't pretty.  Also, I think that, if you choose to have more than one child, you need to examine your reasons--make sure you are bringing that next child into the world for the joy of who they will be, in and of themselves, as well as for the joy of adding to your family.

How does all this affect me personally, other than inspiring me to write a response?

Bryan and I will only have one pregnancy, so barring some twin craziness or somesuch, we will probably only have one kiddo.   Reading the aforementioned discussion reminded me of how much of a stigma there seems to be associated with that decision.  However, we have discussed this from every angle, and it is the decision that works the best for our family.

Part of the reason is that children are EXPENSIVE.  We would rather be able to provide our kiddo with many opportunities in life without putting our family through financial hardship.

A bigger part of the reason is my health.  Rheumatoid Arthritis is a progressive disease, which means there very likely will be a point when I cannot work.  Keeping that in mind, Bryan and I have decided to only have one kid so that we can afford for me to stay home, or work part-time.  Also, RA can come back much worse after pregnancy, and if I'm lucky enough to come out of one with the same health state as I went in, I won't be gambling a second time.  Why risk being able to be less of a mother to two than I could be to one?  That wouldn't be fair to the kiddos, my husband, or myself.

And honestly?  With all my health issues, I see having one healthy, happy baby as being enough of a blessing. :-)

So, when the time comes after our little one is here, and someone asks, "When are you having your next?" I will smile, say, "We're not.  Our family is complete as is" and shrug off the stigma.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Communication is Important OR My Husband is No Mind-Reader

I love my husband.  I could not ask for a more supportive, loving partner.  He is even thoughtful the majority of the time.  Having said all that, let me also say that, as anyone who knows my husband can attest, the man is not a mind-reader.  I learned long ago to not expect any kind of psychic abilities on his part.

Actually, since we went through our hard time back in college, that knowledge has always been something I have been proud to have earned.  It makes our relationship run much smoother, because (generally speaking) I make it a point to verbally TELL him what's on my mind--what I want, what's bothering me, etc.

However, even knowing this, from time to time I somehow find myself expecting him to simply KNOW what I want him to do, and (perhaps more importantly) WHY I want him to take a particular action.

Take last night, for example.  Bryan returned from his VA business trip last night, and was not home thirty minutes before he left again to go to his SOT monthly chapter meeting.  Since he actually holds a position in the club now beyond regular membership, he is supposed to make that meeting every month and he takes that commitment seriously.

Now, I love SOT.  It is a fantastic group and is comprised of some of my absolute favorite people.  I love getting to be a part of the SOT family and always look forward to riding with Bryan and hanging out with everyone.  I also I knew he was planning on going to the meeting when he got home--he told me about it last week.

BUT I kept hoping that, since his plane got in later than planned, he would not go to the meeting and spend time with me instead.  When he went ahead and went to the meeting, I was pretty upset.  OK, I'll say it--I was pissed off lol.
Now, my reaction was completely understandable to myself, and probably to any other woman out there, but there are a couple of important points to keep in mind:
 1) Bryan is a guy and thus his mind works on a different frequency about some things
2) I made the classic wife mistake--lack of communication.

In regards to the first point, Bryan's meeting was only a couple of hours long.  In his mind, this meant he had plenty of time to honor his commitment AND come home to spend time with me.

In regards to the second point, I did NOT express to Bryan that the night he gets home from a business trip--regardless of how long he's been gone--is very special to me and that I am NOT ok with him turning around and leaving again as soon as he gets home.  I just assumed he would know that, and you know what they say about assuming (ASS + U + ME).

Not to worry though--as soon as he got home from his meeting, we opened the lines of communication once again.  I acknowledged that he felt the meeting was a priority, but clarified my feelings and expectations when he gets home from a business trip.

He apologized for hurting my feelings, and promised to remember my feelings on the issue in the future.  We even reached a good compromise--if there's some place that he HAS to be, or even just really WANTS to be, on an evening when he gets home from a business trip, we will go together.

I love marriage!  As long as we (especially me!) remember to communicate openly with one another, there's really no issue or problem we can't work through together.  And even if we don't completely agree with one another, we can try to see each other's point of view and reach a compromise that leaves us happier and stronger than we were before!

We spent the rest of the evening cuddled up and enjoying being back together, and, let me tell you, it was a wonderful night!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Pasta Sauce from Scratch

I was really excited that this recipe turned out well!  It is so straight-forward and simple, and I was actually brave enough to add in some of the recommended additions at my own measurement discretion!

I went with the ingredients to make the medium sauce:

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash of pepper
1 cup milk

The first step is to melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat.
Once the butter is completely melted, add in the 2 tbsp of flour, the 1/4 tsp of salt, and the dash of pepper.  Mix all of this together well to form a sort of paste.

Next, add the 1 cup of milk all at once.

For the next two or three minutes, cook it all over medium heat, stirring frequently.  The sauce will start thickening and getting slightly bubbly.  Once it reaches that point, keep cooking and stirring it over the medium heat for another 2-3 minutes.

Once that time has passed, the sauce should have reached an acceptable thickness.  This is the point to add in extras!  For my sauce, I added 1/2 a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder.  It tasted yummy over the bow-tie pasta with the Garlicky Baked Shrimp!

That said, the cheese did thicken the sauce considerably, and once the sauce cooled a bit it got very clumpy.  Next time, I believe I shall either add only 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan OR keep that the same and use the "Thin Sauce" measurements:

1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Tablespoon of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

I'll let y'all know how that turns out whenever I try it!  Or if you try it before me, let me know too! 

Post-It Note Tuesday!

It's time once again for Post-It Note Tuesday! 
This blogring was started by Supah Mommy, and I found it through my friend Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife!

Now that it's half-way through July, I am fighting off feelings of melancholy and dread about the impending beginning to the next school year.  I'll admit, I am intrigued to see what students I will get, and to see how we shall all get along, but that is the extent and sum of my anticipation.  So, in order to allay the negative feelings, today I am going to focus on the highly important things I want to do tonight!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not ME! Monday

"Not Me!" Monday is a blog ring started by MckMama!  It's a ton of fun!  I found it through Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife.

Let me start off by saying that I am absolutely NOT sliding this post in half an hour before it's no longer technically Monday.  NOT ME!

I am also NOT writing this blog while listening to Muse's Supermassive Black Hole on 94.5 the Buzz Station on iHeartRadio on my iPhone 4.  I am NOT obsessed with my new phone and do NOT use it as if it were a secondary, albeit mini, laptop while I am home and can access our wireless.  I would never be using two computer-type devices just because it's more convenient than one!  NOT ME!

Now that we've established all of that, the past few days have been a smorgasbord of things that I, of course, did NOT do!

First off, I did NOT name my wrist brace Paddington.  I did NOT do this so that I would be less able to hate the brace and less likely to throw it across the room in frustration.  I am NOT playing psychological games with myself (because, come one, you really can't hate something named after Paddington the Bear, right?).  I also did NOT take random Paddington pictures to post.  NOT ME!

After being placed on restriction, I have NOT found excuses to avoid wearing my wrist brace.  These excuses did NOT include my arm being sweaty, eating a Freebird with the brace being awkward, or just "forgetting" to put in on when I left the house today, which of course would NOT have been an issue because I would never take off my brace unless I was in the shower or sitting still watching TV. 

I am also NOT not wearing it right now while I'm typing.  I would never be so cavalier about doctor's orders.  NOT ME!

This weekend I drove up to College Station to meet with our wedding photographer.  It most certainly has NOT taken me over two years to start the whole wedding album ordering process, and I am NOT super-excited that we've finally made forward progress!  I am also NOT having a blast going back through our wedding photos to pick the ones that HAVE to be in there.  NOT ME!

Other than all that, I also am NOT in love with the iPhone "Face Time" feature that let me actually SEE Bryan when I talked to him on the phone last night.  I would never get super-giddy over seeing my husband over a telephone screen less than a day after he left.  NOT ME!

While Bryan is in Virginia, I definitely am NOT slacking off majorly on house keeping.  I am NOT purposefully avoiding a Menu Planning Monday post this week.  I did NOT sleep until 11 today, go out to eat lunch with Hope, dinner with Alicia and then go see Eclipse with Alicia while my sink is full of dishes.  My floor also does NOT desperately need to be Swiffered and my carpet does NOT need vacuuming.  I would never be so lazy as to run and gun with friends all day while my house is languishing uncleaned.  NOT ME!

I also did not leave a trail of clothing when I walked into the house this evening that has yet to be picked up.  I will NOT be staging a massive cleaning either tomorrow or Wednesday so the house looks perfect when my hubby gets home.  NOT ME!

And I am NOT currently wracking my brain for other things I have NOT done to put off going to bed a bit longer.  Why?  Because, obviously, I am NOT counting down until Bryan gets back from his business trip.  I also am NOT sleeping with my Brown Bear just so that I have something to cuddle in bed.
I do NOT have trouble sleeping when Bryan's not here, and definitely have NOT commandeered one of his T-shirts to sleep in.   NOT ME!

On that note, I am NOT going to go read until I pass out.  I also did NOT forget to post my white pasta sauce recipe today, so I will NOT take care of that tomorrow.  NOT ME!

Hope everyone has NOT had a great Monday!  Nope, NOT ME!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Garlicky Shrimp Bake

Ok, finally, here's the promised post for the Garlicky Shrimp Bake!  I found this wonderful recipe over at Gimme Some Oven and the first time I made it, I followed her recipe precisely.  I turned out wonderfully, but this last time I decided to make a couple of adjustments, including using her original "mistake" of using popcorn shrimp instead of regular shrimp.  I figured it would increase the density of the shrimp, and it worked!

If you want a pasta side-dish, I would recommend starting to boil your water at the same time you preheat the oven.  The shrimp dish doesn't take long to prepare, so if your water is already boiling when you put the shrimp in the oven, you can cook your pasta and they'll both be done at about the same time!

And now, here's my adjusted recipe!

1 pound of cleaned and peeled frozen, raw popcorn shrimp
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of white wine
salt and pepper
6 Tablespoons of butter
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of dried Parsley (1 teaspoon of dried Parsley=1 Tablespoon of fresh Parsley, fyi :-) )
1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
The first step SHOULD be to thaw the shrimp.  I'd recommend taking them out of the freezer and putting them in the fridge 24 hours before you want to cook.  If, like me, you always forget to do that, putting the shrimp in ice water for a bit will also mostly thaw them out.  They don't actually need to be completely thawed to cook--just mostly.

The second step is to preheat the oven to 425 degrees!

Recently, I've started to lay a towel down whenever I'm cooking and baking.  You see, I tend to make a bit of a mess, but when I make it on the towel I can just roll it up and shake it into the sink!  And it gives a nice color background in my pictures so that it's not just the dark silestone :-).

Next, pour the (mostly) thawed popcorn shrimp in a medium bowl and add the 2 Tablespoons of white wine and 4 cloves of minced garlic.  Mix it all together well.

Now pour the shrimp into a medium-sized baking dish.  I add just a bit more white wine--no more than another Tablespoon.  Also, LIGHTLY dust the shrimp with salt and pepper, then set the baking dish aside for now.

Using the microwave, take a smaller mixing bowl and melt the 6 Tablespoons of butter.  After that, add the cup of Panko breadcrumbs, the 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and the 2 teaspoons of dried Parsley.  Mix everything together really well.  Honestly, though the original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped Parsley, I really liked the way the dried mixed better.  Also, the original recipe called for half a lemon to be squeezed over the finished dish--that way made it more lemony, and the way I did it gave it a subtle lemon flavor.  Either way it still tastes great!

After it's all mixed, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the shrimp.  Don't worry if it sticks to your fingers a bit--that just means it's moist enough!  Also, it sure is yummy to lick off your fingers!  Of course, after doing that, make sure to wash your hands ;-)!

Once that's done, pop it all into the oven for 15-18 minutes until the shrimp are pink and opaque.  Because I am paranoid about eating raw seafood (I still have a hard time with raw oysters), I bake it for 20 minutes.  It doesn't burn on me, and it makes the breadcrumbs a bit crunchier than they are at the 18 minute mark.

I served it with bowtie pasta (aka farfalle pasta) with a from-scratch white sauce that I'll post about next, and SteamFresh green beans.  Bryan had Sprite Zero with the meal, and I had a white wine spritzer, made from 3/4 wine and 1/4 Sprite Zero.  I thought it all turned out really well--an assessment supported by the fact that, this time, my husband went back for seconds!  Success!


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