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Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange Chicken-Lightened Up!

My freshman year of college was definitely one to remember. My first semester, I had 3 other freshman roommates, and we had a blast together. Most of us were out of class around 1 everyday, so we had the rest of the day to go do whatever we wanted, which usually included shopping, Taco Bell, watching Disney movies and chick flicks, trips to DI(Deseret Industries-it's a thrift store!), and eating food that our roommate Noel cooked, because she was usually the only one who did cook, and she was good at it!

Our second semester, we learned that Chinese New Year was in January, so we decided to have a Chinese New Year party complete with orange chicken, egg rolls, and fried rice. My job was the orange chicken, and I assisted with the egg rolls as well. I thought the orange chicken would turn out good, but it was way better than I expected, and became one of my favorite recipes. It's one of my go to recipes when I'm trying to impress (haha).

I think I've mentioned before, but at my in-laws, we take turns cooking dinner. Thursdays are my day. My in-laws are all really good at cooking, so at first I was really intimidated, but they've been very complimentary(maybe to be nice) so I've felt more confident.

I knew I was going to make orange chicken at one point, but we've been trying to eat better too, so making a fried chicken probably wouldn't be the best option.
Which is why I lightened it up!
This is great served with my Egg Rolls too!

Orange Chicken-Lightened Up!
sauce from All Recipes

1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root(or substitute ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into 1 in pieces

3 cups stir fry vegetables (broccoli, baby corns, water chestnuts, peppers, etc)

1. Pour the water, orange juice, lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce into a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, chopped onion, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and cool 10-15 minutes.
2. Put the stir fry vegetables and chopped chicken breasts in a large bowl. Stir them a few times to disperse the chicken. Pour 1/4-1/2 of the sauce over the chicken/veggie mixture. The amount doesn't really matter, but be sure you have enough left over to pour on at the end. Put the extra sauce in the fridge.

3. Put the lid on the bowl, and shake it a couple times so that the sauce gets dispersed. Put the bowl in the refrigerator.

4. If you have time, shake the bowl again throughout the day so that all of the chicken and vegetables get marinated. At minimum, leave the bowl in the fridge for an hour, but you can leave it in there as long as you want/need.
5. When you're ready to cook, take the bowl to the sink and drain some of the liquid off. There will be more liquid because of the veggies.
6. Heat a large fry pan on the stove on medium high heat. Pour the veggie/chicken mixture and sauce into the heated pan. Turn the stove up to high, and allow the sauce to boil. Stir the veggies and chicken around until the chicken is white and flaky and the veggies tender.
7. Transfer to a strainer in the sink to drain of the extra liquid. Place in a serving dish, and pour the extra sauce over the top.
8. Serve with rice and egg rolls.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today, I wrote my first recipe post on this blog! I actually started it on the 18th, but I figured I would honor this day because it was more meaningful!

My first post(on the 18th) said, "For a class, we are supposed to do a real world project that could help us in our desired field. I am pursuing a career in Communications with an emphasis in advertising or journalism, I haven't quite decided yet. One aspect of this that I am interested in is blogging/writing as well as health and wellness. So, I have created a health and wellness blog. Here I will post new recipes I have tried out, exercises, wellness tips, and other related items. It was really hard to come up for(with) a name for this blog. I Googled a list of clichés, and found "A few fries short of a happy meal." I was looking for something food related, and so I asked my fiancé what he thought of that. He gave the idea of calling it, "A few sizes short of a happy meal," since that relates to food and health. I liked it so it stuck!"

It's crazy how much has changed since then!

1. This ended up way more of a food blog than a health and wellness blog, but I'm OK with that!
2. I learned how to use paragraphs since then. What a relief!
3. I changed the name of it a bunch of times after that, but I am satisfied with the name I have now.
4. My fiancé is no longer my fiancé , but now my husband :)

My first recipe post was for Peppered Chicken and Asparagus. It's incredibly vague, but the pictures are decent. I like to think I came a long way since then :)

I wouldn't have kept blogging through this year if it wasn't for the continued support of my family, friends, and now people who I haven't even met, but who keep coming back!

Thanks to all of you for visiting and for your comments and your emails! I appreciate them so so much!

My blog started out getting around a 100 views per month if I was lucky, but now I get 2000-3000+ per month! And they aren't all just from my mom :) It's exciting to see that people like the things I've worked so hard on.

Since it's a new (blog) year, I made some new years resolutions, specifically for my blog.

*Post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday with fresh, new and original material
*Create more budget friendly recipes
*Focus more on non processed/healthier recipes
*Get better at food photography! I've been working hard on this, but it's a steep learning curve! (There are      so many different things that factor into the perfect food photo.)
*Have at least 200 subscribers by the end of 2012(you can help me do this!)
*Reach out more to my readers
*Finally get my Basic Culinary How To's up and running
*Improve my own skills in the kitchen
*Have more guest posts-I think it's important to showcase other's ideas and creations!

Thanks for your continued support and feedback! I'm really looking forward to this year!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Egg Rolls!

I think egg rolls seem like something that is really challenging to make, but they really are not. Especially when I give you step by step pictures to help you along the way!

Easy Egg Rolls
1 bag cole slaw mix
2 cans chicken broth
1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 of a white onion, small dice
1 tablespoon ginger

1 pkg egg roll wrappers

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Stir it a few times to get  the ingredients dispersed. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then turn down medium heat and let it simmer until the cabbage is completely cooked.

2. Once your mixture is cooked, lay some paper towels down on the counter. Take a mesh strainer and pour the mixture into it so that the liquid drains off. Then transfer the mixture to the paper towels and pat down with more paper towels. You want to get of as much of the remaining liquid as possible, but you also don't want to dry out the mixture, so just be sure that all of the "loose" liquid is soaked up. 

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unwrap your egg roll wrappers. I've always used Nasoya, but I'm sure there are other brands that would work just fine. 

4. I like to have everything set up when I start so that I can quickly go through and make the egg rolls. I set mine up like this:
 5. After you've got all your supplies, take one of the egg roll wrappers, and place some of the filling mixture in a line diagonally across the roll. Use about 1/8, but don't over stuff it.
It should look like this: 

6. Next, fold up the bottom flap. 

7. Fold in the side flap to overlap with the bottom flap. You'll probably need to use some water at this point to make sure that the side stays, so just dip your finger in the water bowl, and lightly rub it where the flaps meet to seal it. You'll need to repeat this step with both side flaps. 
Should look like this: 

8.Finally, fold the top flap down, and use more water to seal the crease. Place on the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 

9. Repeat this step for all remaining wrappers, and then brush with olive oil. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops begin to bubble and they are golden. 

10. Once you've removed them from the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes, and then serve. They are good dipped in soy sauce, or served along with Orange Chicken or any other Oriental dish. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Habit Forming Site

I've told ya'll before about my love for Pinterest, and now I just discovered Polyvore, which is a site where you can build outifts. Um. Yes.
I've been doing that for the  last hour, so I decided to share them with you so that my hour didn't go to waste.

Relaxed Chic

Work Chic

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flat Apple Pie

Have you ever watched the Pioneer Woman's TV show? We're fans around here. I think it's hilarious though because every episode starts with something like "The cowboys went out earlier to {insert something cattle related here} so I'm preparing a high calorie, yet delicious meal for when they come back." She is very talented though, and her recipes are great! This particular recipe was on her show a couple weeks ago. You can also find it in her cookbook. It's a new favorite!

Flat Apple Pie 
from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

(You can see how flaky and amazing this pie crust is!)

Crust (She calls it "Perfect Pie Crust"):
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
1 egg
5 Tbs cold water
1Tbs distilled white vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in the shortening, and use a pastry cutter to work the shortening into the flour until it resembles tiny pebbles.
2. Lightly beat the egg with a fork, then add it to the flour mixture. Add in the cold water and vinegar.
3. Divide in half, and place each half in a large plastic bag and slightly flatten with a rolling pin, then seal the bag tightly.
4. Place in the refrigerator until you're ready to use.

Pie Filling:
5 peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
2 Tbs all purpose flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the apples, flour, lemon juice, both sugars, and salt. Set aside.
3. Roll out the pie crusts. (On her show, she says that it doesn't really matter how they look, because it's supposed to look "rustic." In the book, she says to roll the pie into circles, but if you don't have exact circles, don't stress. Mine were very rustic :) ) Place the circles on large baking sheets.
4. Place half of the apple mixture on one crust and the other half on the other crust.
5. Fold the edges of each crust so that it covers 2-3 inches of the apple mixture.
6. Dot the tops of the pie with chunks of butter (I ended up only using 3 Tbs total for my pies).
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling is golden and bubbly. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the remaining baking time.
8. Allow to cool slightly, then use a pizza cutter to cut wedges and serve. It's particularly good with vanilla bean ice cream and a little bit of caramel drizzled on top!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

How To: Candy Buffet Bar

I didn't have too many things I was particular about for our wedding reception, but I knew I wanted lots of flowers, Chinese lanterns, and a candy bar! Luckily, my amazing mother made sure all of those things happened.

Candy bars are fun for any sort of event-weddings, baby showers, graduation parties, etc, etc. They are super easy to put together, and can be fairly inexpensive as well.

This is our Colorado reception candy bar. 

California reception candy bar. I wish I had a better photo!

 To start, you need to pick a color scheme. You can pick just one color, or you can pick multiple, but I wouldn't choose any more than three so that you can stick with a theme and have that theme be apparent.

My wedding colors were magenta, dark grey, and black, so I stuck with pink for our candy bar.

We labeled my husband and I's favorite candy at our reception. For him: Reese's. 

For me: Tootsie Pops!

Next, you'll need to find jars or containers for your candy. You can use canning jars, vases, or apothecary jars.
You can find canning jars at pretty much any grocery store. Vases can be found at Target, Walmart, Dollar Stores, the internet, and many other places.
Apothecary jars are a little bit more hard to find. You can find some more expensive ones at Williams Sonoma, Sears, and Pottery Barn, but I've seen cheaper ones at places like etsy, Home Goods (a discount home decor store), and other similar stores.
You can also decorate the individual jars with ribbon, lace, etc.

Once you've found containers, get scoops! You can use larger spoons, metal measuring cups, or candy scoops, like these ones from party city.

After finding your jars, you'll need to track down some candy! We got married in April, so in February after Valentine's day, when all the candy was on clearance, my mom went and stocked up on everything pink! It was perfect because she got it cheaper, and it was a short enough time that it wasn't expired or getting old.
If there isn't a major holiday around the time of your party, don't fret! There is still hope for you! You can still find candy at dollar stores, grocery stores, party supply know, where you usually get candy! But, you can also get color specific candy online. You can personalize M&M's on their website, and they have 25+ different colors to choose from. You can also order candy online from different websites such as Candy Warehouse, Oh! Nuts, Bulk Candy Store, and Oriental Trading.
*Make sure you have a "healthy" mix of candy-you don't want all suckers or all chocolate, so get a good mix of chocolate, suckers, hard candy, and gummy candy. 

Next, you'll need some containers for your guests to put their candy in. . This could really be anything. I've seen people use anything from miniature glass jars to Ziploc bags. We used some little white boxes that we found at a party supply store, and then my mom used an embosser to add a letter "L" on each of them, and put a ribbon around the side. I love how they turned out-my mama is talented!

The boxes my mom made. 

Top view. 

For our California reception, my mother-in-law simply took pink ribbon and stickers with "L"'s on them to do a similar box. 

Finally, set up your display. If you don't have a cute table, add a nice color coordinating table cloth, and some decorations on the table. You can also add a banner above the table, or some balloons on the side.

And that's it!

In case you missed it:
1. Pick a color scheme
2. Find your containers
3. Find some scoops
4. Find your candy
5. Find containers for the guests to put candy in
6. Set up and enjoy!

Thanks to Tiffany Rebecca Photography for the pictures!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Life(As of Late) in Phone Pictures

Islands Pork Tacos. We went last week with 2 of Woody's sisters and one of his brothers. Soooo delish!

Homemade German Chocolate Cake for my FIL's birthday made by yours truly. 
Seriously, best German Chocolate Cake ever. Recipe from Food Network here.

A few days later...remnants of said cake. 

Lake Elsinore! This is the town that Woody's internship is in. On his first day, I went down there with him and looked for a job around there. By lunch time, I had exhausted all potential places, so I went to check out the lake.

My lunch the other day-Orzo with garlic, feta, tomatoes, and  peas. Delicious!

That's the ocean back there, but you can't really tell. I took this when I went running on the beach. 

A flower! In January! 

On Saturday, we went to the church to help deep clean the building. We got the awesome job of cleaning the bricks in the hallway. It was gross, but cool to see how clean it was afterwards!

Citrus Crusted Tilapia with Blood Orange Salsa from How Sweet It Is. Mine is half eaten and not as pretty looking as hers, but seriously, it's delicious. Especially the blood oranges. So tangy!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

12 Things I'm Loving/Not Loving Lately

1. Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic Hummus. This is the best hummus I have ever had, especially paired with their Everything Pretzel Slims. My new favorite snack!

2. Nutella. I'm always loving this but lately I've been counting calories, and watching what I eat, and all I want to do is take a big spoon full of Nutella and shove it in my mouth.

3. Sun. It's sunny in California. In the winter. Who knew? Also, flowers grow here in the winter. This is so foreign to me!

4. My in-laws. We're living with them for the semester while Woody does his internship (since we'll only be here for 3 months), and they've been so great! I am lucky to have such great in-laws.

5. Sushi. This will forever be my favorite food. I love love love love loveeeeeee it. Seriously. (But only good sushi. Bad sushi=bad.)

6. Readers who send me funny emails. I got one the other day about a typo I made on here and I was cracking up! Love it!

7. Castle. Have you ever watched Castle? My SIL introduced us to it, and it's a pretty entertaining show. Every time it gets predictable, something unexpected happens.

8. That husband of mine. He makes my heart happy!

9. Finding new blogs to read. I love that! If you're reading this and you have a blog that I don't already follow, give me your link below!

Not Loving
10. I've been a psycho in my sleep lately. I woke up Woody at 2am one morning freaking out that he was late for work. Good thing he loves me!

11. Snails. I helped weed my mother-in-law's garden the other day and there was tons of snails. Apparently that is common in California. Not so much in Colorado.

12. Woods leaves at 6am every morning to commute to work, then he's gone all day, and then he gets back at 7pm. I miss him :(


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you give a kid a frosting bag...

My SIL Marisa is really good at being an aunt, and had some of our nieces and nephews over to decorate cakes. She's nice and let me decorate some as well.

My mother in law has a ton of frosting tips, so we they got creative. Check out the results below:

This was my first. I was going for something kind of out there, and I can definitely say that that was achieved. 

Here's my second one. It was supposed to be a bouquet of flowers, and then I put sprinkles on it, so I'm not sure what it is. 

The rest are my niece and nephew's. As you can tell, they are very creative!

Marisa's flower cupcake-probably the prettiest one :)

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