February 28, 2012

Healthy Chicken Marsala

Eating healthy is difficult for foodies like Tim and I. We appreciate a delicious well made meal. So when we are at home and trying to watch our weight we are faced with the challenge of trying to figure out how to make recipes healthier. So when I saw Hungry Girl's chicken marsala recipe I knew that I could work that so it would make sense for us. Bring on the ingredients:

*we doubled the sauce in this recipe so we would have enough for us so if you don't need as much, divide it*

2 tbsp. Unsalted butter
1 c. Fat Free Chicken Broth (I get Fit & Active from Aldi)
1/2 tsp. Basil
 1 c. mushrooms (at least)
1/2 c. Marsala Wine
2 tsp. Corn Starch
4 Chicken Cutlets

Wash and slice mushrooms. Wisk the melted butter, wine, and broth together.

Begin to heat the saute pan. While it is heating up, whisk the cornstarch into the sauce mix. It will not dissolve all the way. Don't worry too much about this. Just make sure you keep whisking and dont let it sit too long.

Place the mushrooms in the pan and begin to cook on medium high heat. After a few minutes, move the mushrooms around the pan perimeter and place the chicken in the middle. Sprinkle the basil on the chicken. I added salt and pepper as well. I also cooked two pieces at a time. Cook for 3-4 minutes before flipping the chicken.

After they flip, add the sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is done.

The sauce came out really well. I personally overcooked the chicken a little but that is a personal fear I have about cooked chicken. I would never want to give my hubby uncooked chicken- right? But forget about uncooked chicken... how many calories are we talking?

We figured it out that I piece of chicken cutlet and about 1/2 c.- 3/4 c. sauce and mushrooms is about 230 calories. Yum!

Do you have any recipes that are delicious and healthy?

ps: Happy Leap Day! Did you know that having that extra day every 4 years helps to keep the seasons balanced? I learned that at work today. "The more you know..." :)

February 27, 2012

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My love for my crock pot is growing every day. First we made this delicious enchilada soup together. Then we tried out a potato soup, which didn't blow my mind but Tim liked it. But now I want to talk about my newest crock pot success....pulled pork. I know this is something that many people before me have done and perfected but I am slowly embracing my crock pot. One recipe at a time.
To make my pulled pork, I wanted to find a recipe that was as simple as possible. Tim and I have different views on how much sauce to use so I wanted to make simple pork that allowed us to each decide our own sauce levels. So after a recipe recommendation from my friend, I decided to wing it.

I started by putting a layer of fat free chicken broth at the bottom of the crock pot. I then added some apple cider vinegar as well to give it a little sweetness. I have heard apple juice is also good for those that like a sweeter pork. I placed the boneless pork roast in the crock pot after removing as much of the fat as possible. Then I smothered it in my favorite seasonings: Chili powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, garlic powder and some Italian seasonings.

I set the crock pot for 8.5 hours on low and left for work. I am still figuring out times to cook things in my crock pot. I chose 8.5 because a lot of the recipes I was looking at recommended 6-8 hours and since I am at work for a long time, I figured it might as well cook for awhile. When I came home the house smelled awesome and the pork looked like this.

I took the pork out and began to shred it with two forks. I used that opportunity to remove more fat that was inside the roast (anything to save a couple of calories, right?). When I was finished shredding it, I put it back in the crock pot and added some BBQ sauce and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Then it was ready to go.

I really like the pork. Tim was able to add as much sauce as he wanted to and I could keep it on the lighter side. I think next time I might tweak it with different sauces just to see what the flavors can be like.

Do you have any pulled pork recipes worth trying? Or any other crock pot recipes I can try out?

February 23, 2012

Lucky Number Seven

Besides Valentine's Day Tim and I also celebrated another milestone. Our pup James, first introduced here, turned 7 years old. Here's our "little" rhodesian ridgeback/lab mix excited to take a walk.
That's right. 6 years and 44 weeks ago I was lucky enough to miss a regatta and see this little face at a rescheduled parade. Next thing I knew he was part of my family. So in tribute to being lucky enough to have him in our lives, here is a random slew of pictures of some of the most common ways you will find James.

Someone always wants to ride shot gun...

He also likes to get on the couch and this is his way of letting us know...

Once he is on the couch, let's just say he is much more relaxed...

He will cuddle with us from time to time...

And even with other dogs...

We couldn't imagine our lives without him. We love you James! Heres to 7 more years.

February 21, 2012

Mastering our Bedroom...or at least thinking about it

Do you ever notice that when you own a house you worry so much about the rest of the house that you forget to decorate your own bedroom? Or even make it functional in any way? Well we are at this point. We have been in our house for almost 19 months and all we did was paint, hang some pictures and stick our over sized furniture in there. Still- I owe you pictures so here it is.

This is the view walking in. We bought this furniture from Craigslist. I love the color wood and the headboard design. There were old plastic blinds on the windows but I took those down and replaced them with wooden blinds from downstairs.

This is the view from my corner of the room. We brought this dresser from our first apartment. Yay Ikea. That's also our iddy biddy closet.

This is where I was just standing. James' bed is in tucked in the corner in front of our crawlspace.

This is our door and the other corner of our room. (See my new shoe rack hard at work) Now that the shoe rack is there, I need to rethink that random picture collage. That mirror was also suppose to be attached to the dresser in the picture but we can't do that with the slanted ceilings and we like having that mirror reflecting the light.

Here is our tiny tiny closet... and loose cable wire. We have some work to do.

This closet was outfitted with a closet organizer but it can barely hold my fancy tops. And if you know me, you know I don't own that many pieces of clothing.

This is the built in dresser that had when we moved in. We like it a lot and this has been our inspiration for some fun projects that we are thinking about starting this weekend. We want to expand our walking space and closet space because right now Tim and I have clothes spread out over three closets. So we are going to take some measurements this weekend and draw some designs but to give you some ideas of our inspiration here are some things I have pinned on pinterest.com.

I loved that this had a built in large closet and also a workspace or ledge for placing things you use everyday.

Closet between wall studs

This is a great image from BHG.com. They took dormers and made a built in but had a ledge for a plant or pictures. Tim has a lot of work shirts and pants that this would be perfect.

Pinned Image

This image has some great open built in shelving. This would be cool to incorporate.

So any tips or thoughts about our built ins? It would create some great storage for us without having to deal with losing more floor space. Or is it a mistake to take away those crawl spaces?

February 20, 2012

The Auction and a Mummer

Thanks for being patient. To be honest, I am still trying to fight off a whirlwind cold and I was not really up to posting last night. But today is a new day. The sun is shining! I may be coughing still but something about a sunny, cloudless day helps. Anywho....Friday was the Drexel AAGA Art Auction. Its a great event where local students, organizations and artists donate their work or entertainment to send Arts Administration Students to Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. I participated a few years ago when I was a student and although speaking to an elective official can get intimidating, it was a great experience that helped me appreciate the arts in our society even more.

I was a bit of a failure and did not take many pictures of the auction so I borrowed a few from my friend's facebook pages. Thanks Amy and Jen! The auction was held at the Papadakis Drexel building. It was a very large space that had a very impressive "green wall." It was much more impressive in person but it had water flowing throughout it and some amazing plant colors.

The art was very different and ranged from modern to classic to oils or charcoal. It even had a mummers costume. (More on that to come)

I wish I had the artists names of the pieces below but sadly I don't.

Even the Artistic Rebuttal Project was there to show its support and spread the word on their great cause.

Did you notice me in the picture? How about Tim? haha

Our family and some of our close friends came out as well to support my cause. I really appreciate their support in coming out every year even though they don't come from an art background. They bid generously and I can't say how much it means to me that they would come out to support me. It means so much. Don't worry- they make sure they have a good time. Which leads me to the most interesting part of the event. Remember the mummer costume in the earlier pics?

 That is an original 2011 Mummers Day Parade Costume up for auction. It was so pretty and colorful. When my brother in law Greg saw it, he knew it would be a perfect fit for Tim. A certain amount of money later and he won it. The deal I didn't know about was that Tim agreed that if Greg won it, he would wear it...that night! And I have to admit, he looked great! It was a great way to end the event and everyone had a blast posing with him. (even me)

that's Tim with our friend, Fred. Notice the hand Fred is holding is not Tim's hand but the costume.

Have you ever been to an art auction? Get any good stuff?  We walked away with a pillow and we won two awesome raffle baskets with tickets to shows. I just realized some people may not even know what a Mummer is. More on them here.


I am pretty behind on writing my art auction recap so while I work on it today, I leave you with a slightly blurry preview that should peak your interest and want to come back to hear the story. :) Believe me. It is a goodie.

February 16, 2012

Wrapped around my...umm... bottle?

Happy Friday Everyone! I am really excited to be heading to Drexel's AAGA Art Auction tonight. I will write about what I donated on Monday and I will make sure I post pics about some of the great art I see there. But until then I wanted to show you guys the other project I have been working on from my sneak peak the other day.

Well this project was another pinterest inspiration. After the holidays...well lets just say... I had a few extra wine bottles sitting around. I was thinking about what I can do with them. I love the shape of the bottle but I wasn't crazy about the color. So after searching the web I came up with these great inspiration ideas.

found here
I loved the colors in this one. It would go with our house pretty well.

Pinned Image
from here
So I started collecting all the wine bottles, made sure they were clean and raided my mother in laws garage for some yarn and went to work. I used a hot glue gun since I didn't really have any other glue that I thought would work as well. Although it was hot at times, I think it worked.

I started from the bottom up. I wasn't worried about it looking perfect. Once it was done, it would blend in well and the dried glue would cover the wine bottle where the yarn didn't meet.

*Heads up* This project took me about a bottle every 2 hours so make sure you have either a great CD or a fun marathon to curl up on the couch with. I went with Scrubs...a classic.

In the end, I love how it came together.

Since I was so happy with this one, I decided to keep going. I had white and tan yarn so I decided to mix it up and create strips going up the bottle. It was a little more tedious to do since I had to switch yarns but I liked how it came out.

(Yes- I took this picture on the floor. In my defense I am trying to work on taking better pics with my point and shoot sony camera and this lighting seemed better.) Here is a pic of them together.

I love them. Now I just need to keep going and finish the rest of them. But that is for another day. I will probably do at least one all white and one all tan. Then maybe I will try another design. So what do you think? Do you have any fun projects that you accomplished with wine bottles?

February 14, 2012

I Cho Cho Choose You

Ah...Valentines Day! It brings out so many emotions for people. Some gushy, some romantic, some jaded and some angry. Even though I know it is a consumer driven holiday, I love Valentine's Day. Its a nice little break in the norm to enjoy those around you. That can be spouses, friends or family...or pets. *insert another cute pic of the pup*

 The hubby and I have a tradition that is going strong from college. When we were freshmen in college he came down south to visit me for Valentines Day. We didn't make a reservation anywhere (rookie mistake) thinking we could just wing it. Well no luck. So we ended up ordering Chinese food and eating it on the floor of my dorm and we watched "10 Things I Hate About You". Moment of silence for Heath Ledger since he was one of my hubby's "man-crushes". (don't ask)

Any who, even though we don't always eat on the floor or watch the same movie, we usually get take out and chill in. So last night we did just that. We got Chinese food and ate it on our living room floor with a nice fire and we watched Justified (not the most romantic show but we are obsessed!). It was fun and relaxing.

But enough about our chill night. The more important question is: What did we get each other? Well we scaled back this year since we just went to Nashville and Christmas was a bigger venture. So I decided to make him his gift. I have been tagging these map ideas on pinterest and I loved the idea of doing something like that for us.
Originally from Crafty DIY by Michelle Greene

So first I decided what I wanted to highlight. The first time we met. The place we got engaged. Where we got married. And finally, our first home together. I google mapped them and then took a screen shot. I am sure there are easier ways to do this but this worked for me.

Then I drew a heart around them and made sure they were all the same size. I saved them in a PDF and printed them on card stock. My next step was cutting them out. I took my time and carefully tried to keep the red around the heart in tack. That was where the preview cut in.

Once I had them all cut out, I needed the right font. I choose Sofia font and typed up my sayings. I wanted them all to be connected so I started each one with Where:
Where we met, Where we got engaged, Where we tied the knot, and Where we made our home. 
After that I just laid them out on a 11X14 frame, figured out what layout I wanted, taped them down (since i was out of glue) and viola.

Here are some close up shots:

I love it. It means a lot to both of us and the best part is that I made it for him so it makes it extra sappy. :)
As for me, Tim proved once again that he is really good at listening to me. Enter his gifts

A shoe rack! I have been using a broken small show rack as basically a place for me to pile my shoes on. It wasn't working and I was always frustrated. I'm so happy he got this for me. I am thinking maybe of painting it a fun color. Any thoughts? He also got me some great cooking things. I know these will definitely come in handy in the kitchen.

 A Cupcake plunger so  I can make cupcakes with filling! I can't wait to use it.

And an awesome chopping board and scooper. I know I will probably use this this week.

All in all it was a great relaxing night. What did you do for Valentine's Day? Did you just relax at home and just veg out? Or did you hit the town with friends or your significant other?
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