Monday, March 16, 2015

Dinner - Chicken and Mushroom Orzo

After our weekend getaway, which you can read about here, I was happy to have leftovers for lunch today from a dinner I actually made last week. (To me, the best kinds of dinners are the ones that you can eat for a week after you make it!) It was a pretty simple recipe that started as creamy Italian orzo, but by my own fault...aka not cleaning out the fridge often enough...I had to forgo the "creamy" and instead make it "brothy." Read on to see my recipe!

I started with two chicken breasts, a quarter of an onion, mushrooms, orzo pasta, fettuccine sauce, pesto, and lemon juice. 

However....I did not realize that the fettuccine had passed its limit on tastiness until I was about halfway through instead I substituted chicken broth and parmesan cheese.

I first diced the onion into small pieces and added them to a pan with one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon olive oil. I added a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and then cooked it over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions started becoming translucent.

I then minced three cloves of garlic and added them to the onions and cooked for another 3 - 5 minutes.

Finally, I sliced the chicken and added it to the simmering mixture.

Once the chicken was about halfway cooked through, I roughly chopped a handful of mushrooms and added them to the mix as well.

Once everything was in the pan together, I added the pesto, lemon juice, broth and parmesan cheese and let it continue to cook together over low heat for another 10 minutes or so.

While the chicken mixture simmered away, I cooked my orzo by adding it to boiling water for about 10 minutes. You can also cook it more like rice and add a small amount of water and set it over low heat until all the water is absorbed, but I find that cooking it like typical pasta makes it much easier to achieve al dente.

Once everything finished cooking, I added the cooked chicken mixture to the orzo and let it simmer for just a few minutes to combine. To finish the dish, I served the pasta with some roasted broccoli and fresh parsley.

As I was a great lunch leftover meal :)

Chicken and Mushroom Orzo

2 chicken breasts
1 cup diced onion (about 1/4 large onion)
3 cloves garlic
8 - 10 white mushrooms
1 Tbs. basil pesto
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 box of uncooked orzo pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add butter and olive oil to a pan over medium heat.
2. Dice onion into small pieces and add it to the oil. Add salt and pepper.
3. Cook for 3 - 5 minutes until onions become translucent.
4. Mince garlic cloves and add to pan with onions. 
5. Slice chicken into medium pieces and add to the pan.
6. Cook another 5 minutes until chicken is halfway cooked.
7. Roughly chop mushrooms and add to the pan with the chicken and onions.
8. Add the pesto, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and broth.
9. Continue cooking about 10 minutes until all ingredients are cooked through.
10. Add orzo to a pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until al dente.
11. Combine all ingredients and continue to cook on low for another 5 minutes.
12. Serve with green veggies and fresh parsley (optional)

Weekend Getaway to Austin, Texas

This weekend Andrew and I decided to embark on one of our signature "cross country weekend road trips" and visit our good friend Nick in Austin, Texas. Being the kickoff weekend to the film and music festival South by Southwest, as well as St. Patty's Day weekend, you know it'll be a good time in the weird southern town!

We got in town Thursday evening and laid low until going out on Friday for some southern style barbecue and a night on the town. Then Saturday we hit up a crawfish boil at an outdoor bar. We wrapped up the weekend with a stop at Buc-ee's and made it back to Mobile for work on Monday morning! 

Check out some of the pics from our Austin getaway!

Salt Lick BBQ had a really neat outdoor hangout area while we waited to be's been around since the 1800's and the average wait on the weekends can be up to two hours!'s also BYOB while you wait :)

We were seated inside the original restaurant which only holds a couple hundred people and has the smoker for the meat.

Gotta love a family style southern barbecue, complete with white bread and pickles!

After dinner it was time to head downtown to Sixth Street.

 However...the only picture I want share from Friday night is our amazing drink we got at Pete's Piano even got to keep the duck! 

On Saturday afternoon we made our way to a crawfish boil at Moontower Saloon and got to see some live music and get our fill of crawfish and beer....yum!!!!


...and after. Conquered!

 The sign is way better at night :)

On Saturday night we wanted to lay low since we were headed home in the morning...while stopping at H.E.B. to get some steaks to grill, I couldn't help but be amused by the Pi Day cake!!! (No, I didn't get disappointing)

A couple fun nights concluded our trip to Austin so we headed home Sunday morning. On the way, we stopped by Buc-ee's, which is a HUGE gas station/rest stop...complete with a creepy brass beaver statue out front...

I would say that between praline pecans, yogurt pretzels, and beef jerky we were set on snacks for the ride back to Alabama :)

Pups were so tired and glad to finally be home at the end of this journey too. 

Until next time, Texas!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Brunch - Candied Pecan French Toast

Today just feels like spring in Mobile. It's warm and sunny outside, and the birds and bugs are starting to come back into town ...I'm sure it won't be long until I'm sharing some grilling and outdoor recipes, since that's one of our favorite ways to cook. Today though, I wanted to share a brunch recipe I made this morning to start off the week! (It was going to be for breakfast until I realized daylight savings time had a different idea on that...)

Lately I've been craving some thick, homemade French toast, so while grocery shopping yesterday I decided to grab some Texas toast to make for breakfast. We also happened to get some pecans to make granola (I'll be sharing that recipe soon!) so I thought it would be a great idea to candy some of those and serve them as a topping for the French toast. And boy, was that a good idea! Read on for my recipe...

I started off with bread, eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

For the bread, I find that Bunny brand Tex Toast makes the best French toast. It's about two times as thick as a normal piece of bread and absorbs the egg mixture so perfectly. (Obviously if you don't like your French toast thick and a little on the gooey side, you may want to just use regular white bread.) I've also made French toast with cinnamon raisin bread or an Italian loaf from the local bakery, which are also wonderful options if you want to add a little extra flavor to your recipe!

To make the egg mixture, I first cracked four eggs into a shallow pan.

To the eggs, I added about 1.5 cups of milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, freshly grated nutmeg, and about a teaspoon of salt to balance out the sweetness. I then mixed all the ingredients until well combined.

I then dipped each piece of bread into the egg mixture, soaking for about 5 seconds per side to absorb as much sugary, eggey mixture as possible. You should be able to get about 6 - 8 slices of bread coated, depending again on how gooey you like them to be!

Once the bread had soaked up as much egg mixture as possible, I placed them on a griddle heated to 350 degrees and let it cook for 3 - 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. 

As the bread finished cooking, I started on the pecan topping. To make the candied pecans, I first needed to toast them so they could add their rich, buttery flavor to the French toast. To toast the pecans, I simply put them in a pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Once the pecans started toasting (you can tell when this happens once they start to release some of their oil into the pan...which smells AMAZING) I added a tablespoon of butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. I let it all melt together then reduced the heat to low and stirred it together for about 5 minutes until the butter and sugar started to thicken and form a caramel on the pecans.

Once the pecans started to caramelize, I turned off the heat and let them cool for a just a couple minutes before spooning them onto the French toast with some maple syrup and powdered sugar. Served with a big cup of coffee, this was just the brunch I needed to start my day! Bon appetit!

French Toast Recipe:


6 - 8 slices of thick white bread
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
 1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp. granted nutmeg
1 tsp salt

1. Crack eggs into a shallow pan
2. Add sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until well combined.
3. Soak bread in egg mixture until each side is saturated.
4. Place onto a 350 degrees hot griddle, and cook 3 - 5 minutes per side until golden brown.
5. Serve with maple syrup, hot candied pecans, and powdered sugar.

Candied Pecans Recipe:


1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Toast the pecans in a pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
2. Add butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. 
3. Once all ingredients are melted and well combined, reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat about 5 minutes to let the pecans slightly cool and caramelize. 
5. Spoon onto French toast...and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dinner - Thai Chicken Curry Stir-Fry

Tonight I decided to break out of my standard list of dinner recipes and try a healthy, filling meal that I've been wanting to make for awhile...chicken curry stir-fry! I've had the curry paste and fish sauce in my fridge forever and thought this would be a great way to use them before they go bad :)

I started with chicken, frozen veggies (I used the broccoli stir fry medley but you could use whatever your favorite is!), fish sauce, coconut milk, red curry paste, dried onions, garlic powder, and brown sugar.

I sliced the chicken into small strips and added them to a hot pan with some olive oil. I lightly seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the dried onion, and let it cook for about 7 minutes.

 While the chicken was sauteing, I poured a can of coconut milk into a pan over medium heat

Once the coconut milk started to simmer, I added two tablespoons of the curry paste and whisked the mixture until it was well combined. I reduced the heat to low and let it continue simmering for another 5 - 7 minutes.

As the curry mixture continued to simmer, I added the bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables to the chicken and let it continue cooking together for another 5 minutes or so until they started to thaw and cook with the chicken.

Once the chicken was completely cooked through and the vegetables were soft, I added the coconut milk mixture and fish sauce to the pan and continued cooking this for another 5 - 10 minutes. 

Once the meat and vegetables were cooked through, I removed the sauce from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to thicken just slightly as it cooled. I served it over cooked brown rice and added just a tiny bit of soy sauce for a little extra salt...if you're not a super salt lover like me, you can eat it without that. :)

Hope you enjoy this easy and healthy weeknight meal!


2 chicken breasts
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp dried onions
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 bag frozen broccoli stir fry medley 
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbs. red curry paste 
1 1/2 Tbs. fish sauce
1 Tbs. brown sugar


1. Slice chicken breasts into thin strips and add to a hot pan with 1 Tbs oil.
2. Season the chicken breasts with garlic powder, dried onions, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes
3. Pour a can of coconut milk into a small pan over medium heat.
4. Once the coconut milk is simmering, add the curry paste and continue cooking over low heat for another 5 minutes.
5. Add the bag of frozen vegetables to the chicken and cook until the vegetables are thawed and beginning to soften.
6. Pour the coconut milk into the pan with the chicken and vegetables. 
7. Add the fish sauce the pan and cook for 5 more minutes.
8. Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 - 10 minutes to cool off and thicken slightly.
9. Serve over a hot bed of brown rice. (add a touch of salt/soy sauce as needed) Enjoy!