Jul 022014
 

We got our first wedding gift!

At first I didn’t realize what it was. It was a box delivered from Amazon and we have Amazon Prime (and use it way too much to order things) so I thought it was just another package. Then I saw it was addressed to me and ran through the list in my head of things I’d ordered…Wait, I didn’t order anything this big…Then I saw it said “gift” on the box. Michael and I debated for awhile on whether to open it or wait. The wedding is a few months away but why would we just have a box sitting in our living room for a few months? We decided to open it.

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It was wrapped in a cute velvety bag and it was huge! It was so exciting! Bella and Fat Kitty were super excited and wanted to be in the middle of it all. I unwrapped it to find one of the things off our registry:

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Woohoo!! A nice, fancy new crockpot! I have an old crockpot that works fine, but I’ve always wished it was one that had a timer. I cannot wait to use this baby! Bella was investigating everything, sniffing and nudging it.

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Fat Kitty was more excited about the box it came in. He immediately jumped inside and started playing with the box. I love these goofy fur babies.

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The gift was from our friends Tiffany and Chris (she’s from the former blog “Carbzilla”–and I’m so glad we became friends in real life!) So we had received our first gift for the wedding. It felt really exciting. I know we’re adults and all, but it was kinda like Christmas morning. :)

I decided to test it out. I found this recipe awhile ago and wanted to try it but the weather changed and it was really warm and sunny out and the idea of soup didn’t appeal to me. Which was weird because I typically eat soup year round! Unfortunately the recipe wasn’t great and definitely wasn’t photogenic. So trying a different one! I LOVE the new crockpot. It’s so shiny and pretty. :) I like that it’s oval shaped; that makes it easier to store in the kitchen cabinet. The timer part worked great. I set the timer for 7.5 hours. After that time is up, it goes into “Warming Mode” for up to 4 hours. I love this feature!

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

Prep Time: 14 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 385

From: http://www.foodiecrush.com/2013/10/slow-cooker-thai-chicken-soup/

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 12 ounce cans of coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • cilantro for garnish
  • cooked white rice

Instructions

  1. Mix the curry paste, coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, brown sugar and peanut butter in a 4-1/2 to 6-quart slow-cooker bowl.
  2. Place the chicken breast, red bell pepper, onion and ginger in the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
  3. Add in the peas and cook for 1/2 hour longer. Stir in lime juice and serve with cilantro and white rice.
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If you use light coconut milk you save about 200 calories. If you use the regular the calories for this dish is closer to 600 per serving. I added some chopped carrots and also some mushrooms (for Michael). I like how versatile these types of dishes are. You can add pretty much any vegetable you want and you can easily make this vegetarian.

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I’m also glad I read through the comments on the blog post. Lots of readers had tested the recipe and had some alterations.The big one was not adding the coconut milk at the beginning. Lots of readers had curdled soup. Gross! So I followed their instructions and added the coconut milk about 30 minutes before it was going to be done. Also, I’ve never cooked chicken on high before and most crockpot chicken recipes cook around 4-6 hours tops on low so I put my crockpot on low and kept checking on it to make sure it was ok.

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I skipped the frozen peas and didn’t have cilantro but that’s ok. I don’t think cilantro makes or breaks a recipe (except maybe salsa). I added the coconut milk around 30 minutes before it was going to be ready. It didn’t curdle or separate like some of the readers complained about. I debated about adding the second can because the first added a lot of liquid and it seemed “soupy” enough but it had some kick to it so I figured the second can couldn’t hurt.

While the soup was finishing up, I soaked some Pad Thai noodles in warm water per the instructions. I know this recipe said to serve with rice but I didn’t really feel like rice. I wanted more of a soup and the pad thai noodles are rice noodles and gluten free so that worked perfectly!  Once the noodles were properly soaked and softened, I added them to the crockpot, added the lime juice, stirred it up and dinner was served!

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The flavors were so rich! I liked spice that it had. Because I added that second can of coconut milk, the original heat was diluted so I was going to add just a bit of sriracha sauce but I didn’t need to. It was still pretty spicy–but in a pleasant way, not super spicy. I let Michael have all my mushrooms. :) He said the mushrooms were fantastic in the dish. I’ll take his word for it.

One thing I didn’t like–the red peppers were annihilated. I added them around the 2 hour mark thinking that would be okay (the recipe called for them to be added at the beginning). They were too soft and squishy. Next time I would make this and add the red peppers when I add the coconut milk so they stay a little more firm. Also, the chicken was great so cooking it on low for 4 hours was the right move! I got 7 servings out of this recipe and I had plenty for lunches.

All in all I loved this recipe and would definitely make it again. I think it’s a delicious recipe, it’s low in calories, and I can see it being a hit at a dinner party. This will definitely become a regular in this house!

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Apr 292014
 

Michael and I got invited to the Nike Employee Store recently by his step-brother Doug. We’d never been and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I figured it was just like the outlet store. It was better! Everything was at least 50% off the regular price, so much better than the outlet. I ended up getting some new workout shorts and capris, a t-shirt and some shoes. It was a great deal!

After shopping, we decided to stop somewhere for dinner to avoid the icky traffic that is Highway 26. Neither of us go to Beaverton very often (it’s a suburb of Portland) and it’s kind of a weird place–land of strip malls and chain stores. The traffic is terrible, too. So an impromptu date night was just right.

Michael suggested the Hall Street Grill. I’d never been and it had been many years since he was there. I was pleasantly surprised at how classy and beautiful the interior was. It was very charming and the tables were intimate.

michael

Our server was top-notch. He was clearly someone who loved being a waiter and was really good at it. He was friendly and easy going, prompt and had suggestions for us. Michael tried a whiskey he’d never heard of before and enjoyed it– the WhistlePig Straight Rye.

The waiter brought a bread basket which we hungrily ate despite trying to avoid bread. It came with the most amazing butter I’ve ever had. It was whipped; light and creamy and had (I think) sweet onion in it. The butter was sweet and it was so good!

I asked the waiter about the white wine and what he suggested. I said I liked a dry, crisp pinot gris/grigio. He suggested either the Pinot Grigio Graffigna Reserve or the Waterbrook Chardonnay. I’m not really a fan of chardonnay but he said this was made in a steel barrel or something instead of oak. He brought a taste of both for me to decide.

taste

wine

I knew the second he set the glasses down on the table which one I would order (the Pinot). :) I could tell by the crisp, almost clear color that it was what I wanted. The chardonnay had a buttery, light caramel color to it.

pinot

I loved the pinot! I decided to go light on dinner. I ordered a side Caesar salad and a starter plate that turned out to be just the right amount of food for me.

salad

My dinner was the housemade gnocchi. It came with peas, carrots, snap peas, lamb sausage, hazelnut pesto, and large flakes of pecorino. I had to say it was probably one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a very long time.

gnocci

The gnocchi was tender and soft. The sauce was so amazing I couldn’t stop eating it and wished there was more when I was done. The snap peas were crunchy and the other vegetables were fresh and flavorful. I absolutely adored this dish! Everything went together nicely and I know this will be a dish I’ll think about for a long time.

Michael ordered the NY strip steak. It was cooked in a port wine demi glace that was rich in flavor and color. It came with a twice baked potato topped with chanterelle and shitake mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese and there were crunchy onions on top of the steak.

steak

I had a bite of his steak. The sauce was so rich and the steak was done just right. I REALLY wanted one of those crunchy onions on top but Michael wasn’t sharing that. :) We did not have room for dessert, but their menu looked great!

It was a lovely dinner and I’d most definitely go back to the Hall Street Grill–even if it IS all the way in Beaverton. The food was fantastic–kudos to the chef! The prices were a little on the spendy side but they do offer happy hour in the large bar area. There is a large parking lot, which makes it easy, and it looked like they had a big banquet room for events.

We got home in record time, having missed all the ugly traffic, and I played with Bella for a bit before bedtime. She is such a good puppy! She’s very good with sharing. A lot of dogs don’t like to share their toys and get possessive and growl. Bella doesn’t do that. She will happily give you her toy (as long as you throw it so she can chase it). It was a nice, low key evening.

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