Monthly Archive: June 2012

Jun 29

A Time of Reflection

I was standing in the backyard the other day thinking about how different it looks today than it did a year ago, and especially two years ago. The thought just gives me warm and fuzzies inside. Sometimes I get so caught up in the next project that I forget to look around and appreciate how far we’ve come and all that we have now. I think we all just need to stop and smell the roses, right?!

So with that, I thought I’d share some pictures of the backyard from last year and now.

Summer 2011– The ghetto garden rig.
The funny thing about this is that Eric and I were so proud of it! I think we were just so happy to have a garden that we didn’t care what was surrounding it. Our first garden was such a rewarding learning experience. I definitely encourage everyone to start a garden….there’s just something about watching plants grow that makes you a bit more grounded. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who appreciates it as much as I do!

A Time of ReflectionSummer 2012– The BEAUTIFUL garden fence and terrace that Eric built!
I am so grateful for his handy work every day when I go through those gates to water the garden.

A Time of Reflection

2010– with snow and before the fence!

A Time of Reflection

2011– The backyard with the beginnings of the terrace.

A Time of ReflectionNow–The patio, path and terrace just add a little something that’s unique to us.
It feels pretty awesome to walk back there and know that we’ve put so much thought and energy into making that space something that we love being in. A Time of ReflectionThis here is what it’s all about!A Time of ReflectionOf course we have a lot more ideas flowing about additions to the backyard, among other projects. But I can tell you that for now, I’m going to stop, look around me and be grateful for all that we have and everything it is at this point.

Jun 27

Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwest Chicken Salad

With this crazy heat recently, Eric and I have been in the mood for summer salads. I’m realizing how affordable, fast and delicious they can be! Because I love Mexican food so much, I decided to try a southwest chicken salad.

I found this recipe on one of my absolute favorite websites- tasty kitchen….it’s pioneer woman’s cooking community, so it’s no wonder why I love it so much! Southwest Chicken Salad

Recipe (from tasty kitchen)

  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • 2 cups Diced Rotisserie Chicken (I baked chicken with taco seasoning)
  • 1 whole Green Pepper, Diced (I omitted this)
  • 1 cup Rinsed And Drained Black Beans
  • 1 cup Sweet Yellow Corn
  • 2 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 4 whole Scallions, Washed And Sliced (white And Green Parts) (No scallions for us!)
  • 1 whole Large Romaine Heart, Chopped And Washed
  • ½ bunches Cilantro, Washed And Chopped
  • 2 cups Crushed Tortilla Chips
  • 2 whole Just Under Ripe Avocados, Diced
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ½ cups Mayonnaise
  • ½ cups Sour Cream
  • ½ Tablespoons Ranch Seasoning
  • ½ Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
  • ½ Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice (optional)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
    In a large bowl, stir all salad ingredients together, excluding the tortilla chips and avocado. In a small bowl, stir all dressing ingredients together until smooth. When ready to serve, toss salad with dressing then gently stir in avocado and tortilla chips.

Southwest Chicken Salad

Jun 26

Chicken Wing Off

Hello Chicken Wing Off Night! I like to think of the chicken wing as a little bite sized piece of heaven.  You have 3-4 bites of every thing a person could want: chicken, sauce, eating off a bone, and usually an adult beverage to wash it down.  In the food world, I’m not sure anything gets more satisfying and simple as the chicken wing.

If you haven’t figured it out yet this is me, Eric, writing this post. About once a month, the FiresideDreamers “Production Team” gets together for a good ole fashion “site night”.  Each time we get together we like to mix it up a bit, so this particular evenings theme was Site Night – Chicken Wing Off. Below was the picture-perfect final result!!  Here’s how it all unfolded…

Chicken Wing OffIf you’ve never had the chance to make chicken wings, this will be a good post for you.  I’m going to take you from start to finish how to prep, grill, and coat the wings in sauce.

The first step is to buy the wings.  We get ours from Wal-Mart because literally no other grocery store sells them here in Sidney (which is pretty much the story on most things here)

Chicken Wing Off

Once they’re home, I will take the entire wing (which consists of a mini-drumstick, a wing, and a tip) and separate them into individual pieces.  It’s not the most visually appealing part of the process. I bought one package for roughly $7.00 that had 16 full wings x 2 once separated, which totaled 32 chicken wings for the group.

** Something I learned during this part is to make sure to use a super sharp knife and make sure you are cutting through the cartilage and not the actual bone.  You can tell the difference because the bone will take a lot of force to cut, where the cartilage should be fairly easy to get through.

Chicken Wing OffOnce each full wing is cut up, I like to throw them all in a bowl with a little bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper and let them sit for a bit.  The real reason I do this is that my arms are tired from all the cuts that I need a breather :). Oh, and it seasons the wings.

Now on to the competition. Here’s the FiresideDreamers production team, Jay and Tess. Both are very talented people and we want to thank each of them for all the help that they VOLUNTEER for the site in order to make “The Dream” (get it!) happen!!  They are getting their shake on, trying to coat the wings with their signature sauce.

Chicken Wing OffFor this competition, we did a blind taste test.  For those of you that don’t know me, that means Eric making up random rules that he thinks are legit (that may or may not make sense). Below is what I came up with.  The three “tasters” next to each other with Kelli dipping toothpicks into each one and then handing to each of us.  We then tallied on a scale of 1-4 what we thought of each one.  And the winner of the Chicken Wing Off blind taste test was….

Chicken Wing Off

JAY!!!!  He definitely put the most time into his sauce.  He used this Bourbon Whiskey BBQ Sauces Recipe as his base and then Jay-ified (it’s a new word) it with some more adult friendly beverage as well as, and I quote,”I also sang to it while it cooled which I feel added depth to the flavor.”  It won him the competition so I wouldn’t rule it out the next time you are craving some killer wing sauce.

Now back to the actual grilling of the wings.  Once I’ve let the wings sit in the oil, salt, and pepper for a little while I will place them on a medium-high preheated grill.  I usually leave them on each side for roughly 3-5 minutes and then flip as needed until thoroughly cooked.  At this point you are getting hungry and just can’t wait for them to get done.

You have two steps left.  As soon as you feel the wing is cooked, place them into a Tupperware container that already has the sauce in it.  Shake them vigorously to completely coat the wing in your award winning sauce.  The last step, which is crucial to a crispy wing, is to place each coated wing onto a cookie sheet in your oven on high broil.  I would highly recommend using a cooling rack with a piece of foil underneath.

Chicken Wing Off

Keep a close eye on this step!!!!!!!!!  I cannot stress this enough.  These will burn very quickly!!

If the heavens align, and you didn’t get too caught up in those brewskis, you will turn out some great wings.  All of which is done at a very reasonable price.  So, next time you have a group of friends coming over or you just have a hankering for some wings remember this Chicken Wing off!

Chicken Wing Off

Do you have any good wing sauce recipes that you would like to share?  We are always looking some new things to try.  Leave us a comment on below or hit us up on Facebook.  Until next time, enjoy!

Jun 23

Caprese Pasta Salad

We are having a wonderful, fun and productive Saturday doing projects, visiting garage sales, the farmers market and the local greenhouse!

I am so happy to be home this weekend after 4 weeks of busy weekends away from the house. For now, I’ll share a great recipe I made a few weeks ago. I’m working on an update on my fun dance camp weekend, so that’ll be coming soon!

Enjoy 🙂

Caprese Pasta Salad

 So here’s the deal. I am obsessed with Caprese Salad (Tomato, Mozzerella and Basil).

When we had a get together a few weeks ago, I wanted to make a pasta salad as a side… but as usual, I was craving Caprese Salad. So what was I to do? Find out if anyone on Pinterest had made a caprese pasta salad! Of course, more than one recipe was found. This is the one that I went off of. It was devine and the leftovers tasted great too! Our guests cobbled it up and shared in my love for this amazing combination of flavors.

Recipe (From family.go.com)

Ingredients
1 pound dried pasta shapes (fusilli, orecchiette, penne)
2 pounds tomatoes (around 6 medium) roughly diced
1/2-1 pound fresh, water-packed mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1 packed cup basil leaves, washed, spun dry, and slivered
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it heavily (it should taste like seawater), then add the pasta and cook until just done.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes and cheese and put them in a very large bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to taste; the mayo will help keep the oil and vinegar from separating.
  3. Drain the hot pasta and shake it dry (don’t rinse it), then add it to the bowl with the cheese and tomatoes and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
  4. Add about half the dressing, and stir again, then fold in the basil and pine nuts.
  5. Now taste the pasta, and add more dressing, if it needs it, and more salt, which it will almost surely need. If you have time, cover it and let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so to let the flavors blend and to let the pasta absorb some of the juice that will come out of the tomatoes (don’t refrigerate it, or the pasta may get tough and the tomatoes may get spongy. Taste just before serving and re-season as necessary.

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