Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Spicy BBQ Pork Wontons

Ever since I started my blog and Dusty and I have been living together, he has been trying to convince me that we need a deep-fat fryer. I never bought into the idea because I was worried that if we would have a deep-fat fryer we would go back to the old ways of eating nothing but chicken nuggets and fish sticks, and becoming oily greasy people with extremely high cholesterol.

After 4 years, I finally caved in and asked my mom for a deep-fat fryer for Christmas because I knew how much Dusty would enjoy it. A couple of days ago I took it out of the box and gave my fryer a test run with these Spicy BBQ Pork Wonton and I hate to say it, but I'm in love.

After only two minutes of being in the fryer, these little crispy wontons came out beautifully golden brown and cooked perfectly! Dusty took one bite, looked at me and said, "I bet you are sorry we didn't get one sooner, huh?"

Darn him for being right!

Instead of making a huge mess and struggling with oil temperatures, my fryer does all the work for me! I don't plan on getting out the chicken nuggets and fish sticks anytime soon, but for the occasional homemade eggroll, wonton or doughnut every once in a while, I'll gladly use this bad boy.

These crispy Spicy BBQ Pork Wontons are a fun new variation of my original BBQ Venison Wontons. Dusty hasn't hunted in a few years, so I don't have easy access to venison and I'm guessing many people don't as well. I love the use of the spicy breakfast pork sausage...it adds the right amount of heat and zip without being too much to handle. Serve these as an appetizer at your next party (hint. hint. New Years Eve or Super Bowl!) and everyone will tell you how fabulous you are...I promise!
Spicy BBQ Pork Wontons
{Makes Approximately 16 Wontons}
-14 to 16 Wonton Wrappers
-1/2 pound Spicy Breakfast Pork Sausage
-1/4 cup chopped Green Onion
-2 cloves minced Garlic
-3 tbsp of BBQ Sauce
-1 tsp dried minced Onion
-1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
-1/4 tsp Sugar
-1 tsp Dijon Mustard
-Dash of Salt/Pepper to taste
-1 Egg, lightly beaten
-Canola or Vegetable Oil, for frying
Combine all the ingredients (except the wonton wrappers) in a bowl and stir to combine. Lay the wonton wrappers out, 4 at a time, and brush the edges with the lightly beaten egg. Place a heaping teaspoon of BBQ pork mixture in the center of the wonton wrapper.
Take two opposite corners of the wonton wrapper, bring them together and pinch to seal. Then bring the other two corners of the wonton wrapper to the center, pinch and slightly twist the top. Repeat with the rest of the wonton wrappers.
Once the wontons have been assembled, heat the oil to 350 degrees (F) in a deep-fat fryer or large dutch oven. Place half of the wontons (8) in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning halfway. Drain the wontons on a paper towel. Repeat with the other half of the wontons. Serve with BBQ sauce.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mele Kelikimaka! {Our Honeymoon}

Aloha! Dusty and I are back from our relaxing and fun-filled honeymoon where we spent 10 glorious days in Maui. After having an extremely stressful last semester  finishing up nursing school and having to be apart from one another, this trip was much needed and appreciated.

Our honeymoon was spent staying at the fabulous Grand Wailea resort. A picturesque resort located on the south end of Maui with the most amazing white sand beach and home to two exquisite restaurants that are a foodies dream come true. On our honeymoon, Dusty and I had three goals....1) Relax. 2) Spend as much time on the beach as possible. 3) Eat amazing food.

All three of these goals were easily accomplished and I want to share with you all of our Maui favorites for the ultimate foodie honeymoon vacation....

Hula Cookies
On our second day in Maui, Dusty and I spent the morning hiking the Iao Valley and then touring the Maui Ocean Center. After visiting the aquarium, we stumbled upon Hula Cookies. They had flavors such as "Hula's Delight" which had coconut, mac nut, mango and pineapple in sugar cookie as well as Kona Coffee Chocolate  Chip, Chocolate Chip Mac Nut, Honey Papaya Oatmeal, and Chocolate Coconut Cookies. The cookies were so dang good that Dusty and I might have visited twice!

One of the restaurants at the Grand Wailea is Alan Wong's Amasia. It was voted "Best New Restaurant" on Maui for a reason....it was truly a special culinary experience. Because it was our honeymoon, Dusty and I were given special seating next to a waterfall in the restaurant and given a complimentary bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion. The staff at Amasia went above and beyond to make us feel special and it was a meal I know Dusty and I will never forget.

Along with our champagne, Dusty and I enjoyed an unforgettable 5-course dinner that was out of this world amazing. The best part....it was BOGO as in buy one 5-course meal and get one free. Score! Our 5-course  meal included:
First Course
Chopped Ahi Sashimi, Avocado Salsa Stack, Won Ton, Soy Wasabi

Second Course
"California" - Alaskan King Crab, Avocado, Flying Fish Roe, Cucumber
"Spicy Ahi" - Spicy Ahi, Ko Choo Jang Miso, Crispy Potatoes, Green Onion
"Tiradito," Hanaoka Farms Passion Fruit Ceviche Sauce

Third Course
Beef Tenderloin Skewer, Honey Mustard Foie Gras Coulis, Moromi Miso 

Fourth Course
Soy Braised Short Rib, Ko Choo Jang Sauce 
Seafood Wonton, Black Bean Lemongrass Chili Veloute
Garlic Shrimp

Maui Gold "Pineapple Shave Ice" of Hawaiian Vanilla Panna Cotta, Lilikoi Sauce, Haupia Sorbet, Coconut

This place was actually Dusty and my favorite foodie find in all of Maui. I kept reading on Trip Advisor that this place was ranked #1 and I didn't understand how a shaved ice place could beat out all the high-end restaurants on the island. Once Dusty and I shared our first shaved ice containing the flavors mango, coconut and lilikoi...we were sold. We came back to Ululani's 4 times during our stay and almost filled out our punch-card to get one free. Yes, it is that good! My favorite combination was the combination of mango, passion fruit, coconut with a "snow cap" and coconut ice cream in the base of the shaved ice. INSANELY DELICIOUS and a meal in itself. This is the place I'm going to miss the most in all of Maui. Do you think they would open an Ululani's in Montana???? 

Pita Paradise
One thing Dusty and I quickly learned was that eating at a resort is ridiculously expensive. Therefore we sought out local restaurants to save on cost and experience different cuisines. Located in Wailea just a mile or so from the resort, this Mediterranean themed restaurant was an awesome find. The owner goes fishing each morning and brings his catch-of-the-day to the chef. Since ahi tuna was the fresh catch that day, Dusty enjoyed an ahi tuna sandwich and I had the best ahi tuna greek salad I've ever consumed. It's my mission to recreate the salad dressing!
Tip: If you check in on Yelp, they give you a free appetizer! We got to enjoy pita crisps with some of the best freshly made hummus as an appetizer for free.

Kihei Caffe
The best breakfast in Maui! Located in Kihei in what seems to be some hole-in-the-wall restaurant, this small outdoor cafe packs a lot of punch! Dusty and I spent almost every morning enjoying breakfast here trying as many different menu items as possible. My favorite thing was the French Toast. It was made with hawaiian sweet bread and topped with coconut and fresh pineapple. It was even more delicious with coconut syrup! The other thing Dusty and I both had to eat on our trip was the local favorite: the Loco Moco. Rice with a fried egg, beef patty and gravy will fill you up and make you not need to eat for the entire day. So good. YUM!

Da Kitchen
Another Kihei foodie find! Dusty and I found this local hawaiian food establishment thanks to a tip given to me from one of the nurses I use to work with in Billings. She told me that the food is ah-mazing and they give you so much food you can share one serving between two people and she was right! Teriyaki Chicken, Kalua Pork, Rice and Potato-Mac Salad for $12...heck yes! We ate here twice because we loved the local hawaiian cuisine so much. Absolutely the best teriyaki chicken I've ever had in my entire life!

Mama's Fish House
One of the coolest restaurants we have ever been to ever! Located on it's own private beach, you feel like you are eating inside the Swiss Family Robinson's tree house while having the most insanely fresh and delicious seafood of your life. This place is one of a kind and a must see! The server told us they have to print the menu twice a day because the menu changes so quickly depending on what fish is delivered throughout the day by local fisherman...something I absolutely love about Hawaii! For lunch Dusty and I split Papa's Three Fish Sashimi which included Ono with Haiku orange, olive oil and Molokai pink sea salt; Ahi with ponzu, baby red shiso and Big Island citrus pearls; and Opakapaka with lilikoi, Hawaiian chili pepper and “Hawaii Kai” brand black sea salt. For dessert we had to try the famous Polynesian Black Pearl. I had seen it featured on Food Network and was dying to try it. Possibly the most gorgeous dessert I've ever enjoyed. It was a liliko’i chocolate mousse in a pastry seashell that was so rich, tart and perfect in every way. If you go to Maui, you must go to Mama's Fish House!

Hali'imaile General Store
On one of the last days of our honeymoon Dusty and I made a trip up to Maui's Upcountry. We stumbled upon this spectacular restaurant and enjoyed a fabulous and extremely tasty lunch. We started our lunch off with Bev's Famous Crab Pizza. Rich, crunchy, creamy and oh-so delicious. Fresh crab is insanely good and on top of pizza....YUM! For lunch I had the Sashimi Napoleon which consists of crispy wontons layered between smoked salmon, ahi tartar and sashimi with a wasabi vinaigrette. When the server brought it out to me I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. He said the only way to eat it was to cut it up and mix it all together which is a bummer because it's such a work of culinary art. I couldn't decide if I should eat it or just look at it. I decided to eat it and I'm so glad I did! One of my favorite lunches I enjoyed on the island and a must try!

The next time you go to Maui, you have got to put these places on your list of places to eat. I promise you won't be sorry and you will enjoy every foodie experience and tasty bite! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Baking A Difference: Cinnamon Swirl Bread {Giveaway}

Because I just finished finals and graduated nursing school....

Because I'm home with my husband and puppy forever....

Because Christmas is only 13 days away....

Because I'm leaving with my husband for our honeymoon today....

Because I love baking and all things bread....
Because I haven't done a giveaway in forever...


I'm hosting the ULTIMATE BREAD LOVERS BAKING GIVEAWAY thanks to Fleischmann's & Karo Syrup. I'm also going to share a fabulous twist on Fleischmann's Beginners White Bread, by turning it into one of my all time favorites....Cinnamon Swirl Bread!

This year Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup – trusted baking products that have helped people create beautiful homemade bread, baked goods and delicious desserts for more than 100 years – are launching the Baking A Difference campaign to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign to help end childhood hunger in America through the power of baking.

In addition to donating a total of $450,000 to the No Kid Hungry campaign, Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup will encourage aspiring bakers, passionate foodies, and established chefs across the country to bake a difference. Baking can now help children across the country get the nutritious food they need every day.

Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup are calling all bakers to bake for a cause. If you like to mix up treats in the kitchen, then we challenge you to bake for someone you love and bake a difference. Inspire family, friends, teachers, neighbors and others to get involved in the Baking A Difference campaign and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Collectively, we can all harness the power of baking recipes and bake a difference together to end child hunger in America.

Thanks to Fleishmann's and Karo Syrup, one of you is going to win the ULTIMATE BREAD LOVERS BAKING GIVEAWAY to help you Bake a Difference!

 The Giveaway includes:

-(1) Sur la Table Nonstick Mini Loaf Pan

-(1) Syliss Bread Knife

-(1) Madeira Paddle Board

-(1) Set of 3 Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast Packets

-(1) Set of 3 Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast Packets

-(1) Set of 3 Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast Packets

- (1) Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Pretzel Creations Baking Mix

- (1) Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Multi-Grain No Knead Bread Mix

- (1) Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Stoneground No Knead Bread Mix

- (1) Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Italian Herb No Knead Bread Mix

- (1) Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Country White No Knead Bread Mix

- (1) 16 fluid ounce bottle of Karo Light Corn Syrup

-(1) 16 fluid ounce bottle of Karo Dark Corn Syrup 

To Enter: 

Tell me what is your favorite thing to bake during the holiday season?

Additional Enteries:

Good luck! 

Fine Print: This giveaway ends on Monday, December 23rd at midnight. The winner will be randomly selected and emailed being notified that they have won. The winner has 48 hours to claim their prize, otherwise another winner will be selected. This giveaway was sponsored and provided by Fleischmann's and Karo Syrup for the Share Our Strenth's No Kid Hungry Campaign. I was compensated for this giveaway, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Unfortunately, this giveaway is open to US residents only. 

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
{Makes 2 Loaves}

-4-3/4 to 5-1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
-1 package Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
-1-1/3 Whole Milk
-3 tablespoons Sugar
-3 tablespoons Butter
-1/2 teaspoon Salt
-2 Eggs
-3/4 cup Sugar
-3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Lightly grease two 8x4x2 inch loaf pans. 

Combine 2 cups flour and  undissolved yeast in a mixer. In a saucepan, heat the milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, butter and salt until very warm (120-130 degrees F); stir into flour mixture along with 2 eggs. Beat for 30 seconds at medium speed of mixer while scraping the bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for an additional 3 minutes, continuing to scrape the bowl occasionally. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as possible.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface of the dough. Cover and let rise for 10 minutes. Punch dough down and divide the dough in half. Cover and let it rest again for 10 minutes. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12x7 inch rectangle. Brush the surface lightly with water. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon; sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each rectangle. Beginning at the short end of each rectangle, roll up the dough up tightly. Pinch the seam and ends to seal. Place the loaf, seam side down, into the greased loaf pans. Cover and let the loaves rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Bake in 375 degree (F) preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until done. Immediately remove the bread from loaf pans and cool on a wire rack. 

Recipe Adapted from Fleischmann's Beginners White Bread recipe and Better Homes & Garden Cinnamon-Swirl Bread. Information provided on Baking a Difference Campaign provided by company representative. 

To learn more about the Baking A Difference campaign and get the latest recipes and baking tips from Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup, visit Facebook.com/FleischmannsYeast, Facebook.com/SimplyHomemadeMix, Facebook.com/KaroSyrup and Pinterest.com/BeABetterBaker.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cookies, Cookies & More Cookies!

Did you know December 4th is National Cookie Day?

I didn't. Not until this morning when I popped on Twitter and Facebook and I saw everyone was talking all about cookies and National Cookie Day. If I were home right now, I'd bake up a couple of batches of my favorite cookies in honor of the fun day. But since I'm in a dorm room with no means of baking at all....I thought I'd share with you all of my favorite cookies that I've shared on The Girly Girl Cooks over the years.

These shortbread cookies are a must in our home for the holidays!
These are one of Dusty's favorite cookies of all time!
These soft pillowy cookies are so easy to whip up! I love them!
How festive are these?
I love the holiday colors from the red cranberries, green pistachios and white chocolate chips.
These no-bake refrigerator cookies are insanely good!
We always make these cookies during the holiday season. So good!
An oldie, but a goodie.
These are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had! This cookie is a regular in our house.
The perfect cookie for Santa Claus!
One of the first desserts Dusty and I ever made together when we first started dating.
This is another no-bake cookie that is out of this world! YUM!
These sinful cookies are packed full of everything you love....chocolate, peanut butter and BACON! They even have a little bit of chili powder to make them extra sinful!
These are officially my favorite cookie of all time! Raspberry and white chocolate were meant to be together and are perfectly married in these DELICIOUS cookies! 
I hope some of these delicious and fun cookie recipes will inspire you to bake for National Cookie Day or give you ideas for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Buttery Pecan Pie

Last week I went home for Thanksgiving and I was given the wonderful job of bringing Apple and Pumpkin Pie to the big dinner. I was in hog-heaven because there is nothing I love more than baking pie! If I could professionally make pie for a living, I'd totally do it. There is nothing more satisfying than rolling out, filling and baking a perfectly baked pie with a golden brown and flaky crust. Pure heaven.

I made a horrible mistake of wearing jeans with a belt on Thanksgiving. Those pants had absolutely no give to them whatsoever and my attempt to totally stuff my face was very difficult due to the lack of stretchy pants. All throughout dinner I was really jealous of Dusty's adorably pregnant cousin, Raquel, who was wearing stretchy jeans. I need to invest in pregnancy pants for next Thanksgiving like that one episode of Friends when Joey is wearing Phoebe's pregnancy pants! HA!

What does your family do?
Do you dress up for Thanksgiving or wear your sweats for the big meal?

Dusty and I also made the mistake by not taking home any leftovers! How were we suppose to make turkey sandwiches without leftovers???? As a result we decided to make a smaller Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday and invited Dusty's family over for Thanksgiving dinner: Part 2. It was also an excuse to finally use our wedding china!

For our smaller Thanksgiving dinner we roasted an 8 pound turkey (glorified chicken, it was so small!), sage stuffing, creamy chive mashed potatoes and of course I had to bake another pie. Oh darn! ;)

I've had my fair share of Pecan Pie, but Julie's recipe (my MIL) for Pecan Pie is by far the most buttery, creamy and heavenly Pecan Pie I've ever had. I believe the secret to it's wonderfulness involves the ratio of dark to light corn syrup. Most recipes call for just light corn syrup, but I think the little bit of molasses in the dark corn syrup takes this pie places.

Buttery Pecan Pie
{Serves 8}

-1 unbaked Pie Crust
-3 Eggs
-2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
-1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
-1/3 cup melted Butter (salted)
-3/4 cup Light Corn Syrup
-1/4 cup Dark Corn Syrup
-1-1/2 cups Pecan Pieces (or Halves)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F).

Mix the eggs, sugar, melted butter, light corn syrup and dark corn syrup in a mixer over low speed until just combined. Fold the pecan pieces into the pie filling mixture. Pour the pecan pie filling onto the unbaked pie crust.

Protect the crust with aluminum foil or pie crust shield to prevent over-browning or burning. Bake for 50 minutes until the filling is dark golden brown and set.

Place the pie on a cooling rack and allow it to settle to room temperature for several hours. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!

Recipe By: Julie Ahrens

Monday, November 18, 2013

{Pie Week} Coconut Cream Pie

In less than 2 weeks, Thanksgiving will be among us and that means it's time for baking pies! In my world, pie is the official dessert of Thanksgiving. The wonderful thing about pie is that there is so many different types! You can make something as simple as the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie, or go all out and crazy with non-traditional pies....for example, this coconut cream pie!

The men in my life LOVE cream pies. My dad loves coconut cream pie and my husband and father-in-law are big fans of banana cream pie. The great thing about this recipe is that you can switch out the coconut for bananas and make either pie! Personally, I'm on Team Coconut Cream Pie, but I won't turn down any slice of pie that is placed in front of me!

I must tell you, the only reason I can make a decent pie crust at all or make this gorgeous coconut cream pie is because of my fabulous mother-in-law, Julie. She is the queen of pie! Her pies are famous in Dusty's home town and people pay big bucks for her amazing pies, and rightfully so. They are amazing! Lucky for me, she has taken me under her wing over the years and has taught me the ways of the pie and pie crust. I'm slowly getting there with my pie crust and hopefully someday my pies will be as legendary!

Call me crazy, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, I'm not a fan of the traditional pumpkin pie. I was the high maintenance kid in the family that refused to eat pumpkin pie and only wanted apple pie. Which is funny because not a lot of my family members liked apple pie. They would go out and by an apple pie from Perkins and I was the lucky kid who had an entire pie to myself on Thanksgiving. If you ask me, I was the smart one....they all had to share a pumpkin pie, and I had a whole apple pie to myself! My current favorite apple pie is this Gooey Apple Pie. So good!

Whether you are making pumpkin, apple or coconut cream pie.....pie is delicious!!!! A flaky crust with any filling of your choice. What can be better? That is why I'm excited to share with you on "Pie Week" all things pie with these fantastic variations of pie from my favorite bloggers!

{Hill Country Cook}- New Mexico Apple Pie
{From My Sweet Heart}-Cranberry Cherry Ricotta Pie
{The Girly Girl Cooks}- Coconut Cream Pie
{Comfortably Domestic}-Mile High Apple Pie

{Inside NanaBread's Head}-Black & White Coconut Tart
{Le Petite Pancake}-Pineapple Pie
{The Grommom}-Papaya Pie

{Tenaciously Yours}-Grandma's Chocolate Pie
{Bakeaholic Mama}-Chocolate Cream Pie
{Comfortably Domestic}-Maple Sweet Potato Pie

{Pineapple & Coconut}-Boozy Pumpkin Eggnog Pie
{Bakeaholic Mama}-Sweet Potato Tartlets
{Buffy & George}-Deep Dish Apple Pie

{Munching in the Mitten}-Sweet Potato Pie
{Decadent Philistines Save the World}-Refrigerator Pumpkin Porter Chocolate Pie with Toasted Pumpkin Marshmallow "Meringue"
{Climbing Grier Mountain}-Mini Butternut Squash Pie Stacks with Marshmallow Frosting

{Wannabe A Country Cleaver}-Biscoff Pie with Whiskey Mallow Fluff
{Comfortably Domestic}-Berry Cherry Pie

Coconut Cream Pie
{Serves 8}

-1 (9 inch) baked Pie Crust
-2/3 cup Sugar
-1/3 cup Cornstarch
-1/2 tsp Salt
-3 cups Whole Milk
-4 Egg Yolks-slightly beaten
-2 tbsp Butter
-2 tsp Vanilla Extract
-1 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut-divided
-1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
-1 tsp Vanilla
-2 tbsp Sugar

In a saucepan, stir together the 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. In a bowl, blend the milk and egg yolks together; gradually stir into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Once the pudding mixture starts to boil, allow it to boil for exactly 1 minute and continuously stir.

Remove the pudding from the heat and add in the butter and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Stir together until blended. Press plastic wrap onto the filling in the saucepan and allow the pudding to cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, stir 3/4 cup of coconut flakes into the pudding. Set aside. In a stand mixer, combine the heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp sugar. Beat over medium speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

To toast the coconut, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle 1/4 cup of coconut on a small baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until the coconut become golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Pour the coconut pudding pie filling into the baked pie crust and chill the pie for 2 hours with the plastic wrap pressed over the pudding. After 2 hours and when the pie is chilled, top it with the whipped cream and sprinkle the toasted coconut on top.

ENJOY! Happy Pie Week!

For the Banana Cream Pie version: Line the baked pie crust with 3 sliced bananas. Pour the pudding mixture (without coconut) over the bananas and top with the whipped cream.

Recipe By: Julie Ahrens

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dobie Love: 3 Things

Yesterday I just got back from a much needed time at home with Dusty and Duke. I hadn't been home for a visit in over 1-1/2 months and it was glorious. I was able to cook my favorite things and smother my puppy (and husband!) with lots of cuddling. Although, after not being home for over a month I learned 3 things....

#1...My puppy isn't a puppy anymore....he's a dog!
7 months old and 82 pounds of pure Doberman.
Holy cow!
But trust me. He may look like a big Doberman, but he is still a huge BABY! A total goober. Goofy, fun and adorable in every way. I've missed this pup so much!

#2...The bed no longer has room for me. Apparently Dusty and Duke have become snuggle sleeping buddies and now that Duke is over 80 pounds, there is no room for me in the bed!
Looks like we are going to need a bigger bed!
And #3....Don't waste your money on a $30 stuffed monkey for your puppy when he can destroy it in 0.3245 seconds.

Duke originally had an old Ty Beanie Baby giant monkey that he loved dearly. In fact he loved it so much that he ripped it to shreds and then millions of little beanies became scattered across the floor taking about 1 hour to sweep up!
Dusty called and asked me to get Duke a new "monkey" from Toys-R-Us while I was in Billings before coming home to replace the old one. A lot of good that did! I was so excited to give Duke his new monkey and after a trip to the grocery store, I walked in the door to find the "monkey massacre" that had taken place in my living room. Poor monkey didn't even stand a chance! The poor monkey's fluffy guts were spread all around. The living room, dining room, the backyard, the bathroom and bedroom. Evidence of "the massacre" was everywhere! 

It's only 28 days until I'm finished with nursing school and 28 days until my life can return back to normal. I've missed Duke, Dusty and my life on the Hi-Line so much. My trip home was much needed and just the motivation I needed to finish the last stretch of school. It felt so good to get back in the kitchen and make some of my favorite foods. Only 28 days until I'm back to cooking and more importantly....blogging! I've missed it and you guys so much!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last First Day of School!

Yesterday was the last first day of school I will ever have again! It wasn't anything special or exciting, just the same-old, same-old of orientation and reviewing the syllabus. That sort of thing. But what is exciting is that I'm 3 months and 11 days away from being done with nursing school and permanently back in Chester with my husband and baby Duke! I'm not counting or anything...

We will see what the semester brings with classes, clinicals and such. I have no idea of what to expect, but it should be challenging and interesting at the same time.

On Sunday I moved into my dorm and boy was it hot! Chester has had a temperature high of like 90 degrees once all summer which I have enjoyed a lot. So when I pulled into Billings on Sunday at 4 pm with a temperature of 96 degrees, you can imagine how steamy hot my dorm room was with it being on one of the top floors of the building. It was HOT! It's still hot.

I thought you would all be interested to see what my new kitchen looks like now....

I'm going through some serious cooking withdrawals. I made the mistake of going to Barnes and Noble yesterday so I could be in an air conditioned area (100 degrees out!) and started drooling and aching to cook when I was in the cookbook section. I especially want the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Everything looked absolutely amazing! I almost started to lick the pictures in the book....almost.

Hopefully I will have a bunch of time this semester to drive up north to visit my pup and my man. Dusty's casseroles will only last him so long!

Just kidding. Sometimes he can cook better than I can!

Here's to hoping for a fast semester so I can get back in the kitchen again! I've got some recipes saved up from over the summer, so I can share those with all of you in the mean time. Plus I'll be cooking up a storm on the weekends I get to visit too :)

In the meantime, I have a question for you all and need some help....

What are some things I can make in my dorm-sized kitchen???

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back-to-School Cookin'

This weekend Dusty and I are going to be doing some back-to-school cooking and stocking up. Not for the both of us....just him. I'm going back to Billings for the Fall semester to finish up my last semester of nursing school (yay!!!) on Sunday, which means that Dusty is going to have to fend for himself when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Living in a small town, you lose the conveniences of take-out, fast-food and restaurants all together. It was a total culture shock the first month we lived here. Not to mention the closest movie theater is 40 miles away and only plays 1-2 movies that change every 2 weeks. It was a big adjustment for us since in Billings we probably rented 2-3 movies a week, out to the theater twice a month (if not more) and out to eat 3-4 times a week.

But over time I've come to love cooking 3 meals a day (plus dessert!) and watching movies on Netflix, Direct TV On Demand or the most recently Amazon Prime. I finally broke down and signed up for Amazon Prime. Not having to pay for shipping is amazing when you have to order everything! You can buy anything and everything on Amazon! In fact, I have a doggie door for Duke coming in today and a few cookbooks coming in the next few days. My family members should only get me Amazon Gift Cards for holidays, birthdays, etc. because it is so handy!

Anyways, back on topic.....

I was looking through my Recipe Index here on The Girly Girl Cooks trying to figure out what I want to prepare and freeze for Dusty so that he can just pop it in the oven and go after working 9-10 hours a day at the hospital. I hate the idea of him eating frozen pizza's every day (which he will do), so I want to make sure he is all set up before I head back to school.

The nice thing about nursing school this semester is that my classes are on Monday and Tuesday, and then my clinicals are self scheduled. I'm hoping that this allows me to come home frequently because I can't stand the thought of being without Dusty and Duke. I love those guys!

So here some things I'm thinking of making for Dusty for my Back-to-Nursing-School.....

 I see a lot of casserole dishes in my future!
Hopefully that would hold him over for a few weeks until I'm able to come home from school for a visit. What are some of your favorite freezer-friendly dishes????
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