Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Yumminess - Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce

It's been awhile since I posted a recipe... but when the hubby said, "This is better than a restaurant!" I figured I should share.  It was good.  Really good.

So here it is, from that cookbook.  (Makes it even more fun!  Ha!)

Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce
from The New InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook by Hopkins and Lockridge

You'll need:

for the marinade
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime (about tbsp of juice)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

for the dipping sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Szechuan hot chile bean paste, to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tsp soy sauce
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp peanuts, chopped

for garnish
large green or red lettuce leaves, washed well and dried
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

To Make:

1.  To prepare the marinade, combine the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, peanut oil, lime, and pepper in a large, resealable plastic bag.  Rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Pound slightly until both breasts are of even thickness throughout.  Add the breasts to the marinade.  Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or longer, flipping occasionally to redistribute the marinade.

2.  While the chicken is marinating, prepare the dipping sauce.  In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and saute garlic for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn.  Stir in the chile paste and continue to cook for 30 seconds.  Add the broth, coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar; whisk to blend.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes to thicken, stirring frequently.  If using the sauce immediately, stir in the peanuts.  (The sauce can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  When ready to serve, warm slightly in a small saucepan to thin and add the peanuts.)

3.  Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat the broiler.  Drain the chicken from the marinade, and discard the marinade.  Grill the chicken for 3 or 4 minutes per side, or place under the broiler, turning once.  Grill just until cooked through, being careful not to overlook.  Remove from the grill and slice thinly on the diagonal.

4.  While the chicken is grilling, assemble a platter with the large lettuce leaves, mint, cilantro, and small bowls with the toasted sesame seeds and dipping sauce.  Serve the chicken alongside the platter of condiments.  To assemble the rolls, place a few slices of chicken on a large lettuce leaf.  Garnish with mint, cilantro, and sesame seeds.  Roll up the leaf like a burrito or eggroll, dip in the peanut sauce, and enjoy!

(Note:  We marinated and grilled some bone-in chicken the night before and reheated it the next day, and shredded it.  That worked just fine!  The marinade is delish!)

This makes 2-3 servings.  (2 for us - it was soooo good!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Forgiveness.
2.  Sleep.
3.  The song, "What Do I Stand For?" by fun.
4.  Celebrating milestones with my youth group kids!
5.  A cloudy, cool day.
6.  A walk in the prairie with the hubby and the pup.

7.  Yummy dinners!
8.  Notes from the hubby.
9.  Coconut milk.
10.  Our orchid is blooming!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Creations - Love Notes

Another Pinterest idea...  What would I do without that site?

Craft #4:  Love Notes

A cheap frame.  Some "burlap" scrapbook paper.  Some adhesive letters I found in my craft closet...  And a dry erase marker.


A dry erase love note board. 

Yep.  Write a note on the glass with the marker.  When you're ready to change it, wipe it away and write a new note!

Easy peasey.

And cute.

Now... If I could only get the hubby to write me a note once in awhile...

Things I'm thankful for today:

1.  Our Indian Taco Dinner last Sunday raised $1950!!!  Our trip is almost paid for!
2.  Surprising generosity.
3.  I went to a seminar, about raising kids with strong faith, on Monday night - with 4 other adults from my church.  The best part of the night?  A conversation in the parking lot, when one of the ladies said, "You sure have a lot to think about in your job...  And that's just with the youth!"  Cute.
4.  Book Group dinner!  Good conversation.  Lovely ladies.
5.  Dinner out with Em!  Always what I need!
6.  Coconut cake.  Apparently I love it!
7.  Riding rollercoasters at the Mall of American with our niece and nephew.  Very fun. 
(And playing in the Mirror Maze...  That would be my hubby in the picture.  Whoa.  Ha ha ha!)

8.  Cherry coke.
9.  Summer worship hours.  One more hour of sleep on Sunday mornings.  Love.
10.  Planning our summer vacation!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Creations - Memory Jar

I saw this idea on Pinterest weeks ago and was sure to save it.  I'm all about traditions with holidays, but we haven't really found one that has "stuck" for New Year's Eve yet... I'm going to give this a try!

Craft #3:  New Year's Eve Memory Jar

Take a jar, put the year on it.

Place a little pad of paper and pen or pencil in the jar.

The point is, when something happens that you want to remember - whether it's a good meal, something someone said, a special event, etc - you write it down and put it in the jar.  Then, on New Year's Eve, you open the jar and go through your memories of the year!

Love it!

(I cut up scrapbook paper that I will never actually use for scrapbooking, instead of a pad of paper.  It's more colorful and fun!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Going for walks everyday this week!
2.  Goldfinches and monarch butterflies.
3.  A bluebird sighting!
4.  A mission trip meeting - almost everyone was there, and I'm so excited to watch this group work together and laugh together!  It'll be a great trip!
5.  I got to visit a 96 year-old man, from our church, in the hospital this week.  He and his wife are so sweet and were so surprised that I would come a visit!  It was a fun morning.
6.  Lunch with a former youth group kid.  Andy graduated college this week.  Uffda.  So fun to see all that lies before him - and the person he has become.  I'm a proud Youth Director!
7.  Our brother-in-law that's moving to town joined us for dinner on Wednesday.  So fun to get to chat with him - and find so many things we have in common!
8.  I did it.  I read "50 Shades of Grey."  Think what you must.  I enjoyed it!
9.  The mission trip team got together to prep for their big Indian Taco Dinner fundraiser at church.  They worked so well together!  It was so fun!

10.  We get to recognize and thank our leaders and teachers at church tomorrow.  I was working on making little thank you gifts for them today.  Makes me thankful for all the people that donate time and energy to share God's love with our community and world!  Pretty awesome, really.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saturday Creations - Mom's Tree

I saw this idea on Pinterest as a Wedding Guest Book idea - this cool little paper tree, and everyone signs the leaves...  I decided to use it as a Mother's Day gift.

Craft #2:  Mom's Tree

(Some of the leaves are folded up a little to give a "3D" effect.)

All three of us sisters came up with words that describe or remind us of our mom, and I wrote them on the leaves.  Then, interspersed some blank leaves, too.

A simple idea - but it looks so pretty!

And I think she liked it!
(We missed you, Em!)

And it went so well, I offered to make one for the hubby's mom, too!

Things I'm thankful for today:

1.  Tiger McLuen, a nationally known expert in youth ministry, and a mentor to me - preached at our church last Sunday!  A true honor for me to have him there - and oh-so-fun!
2.  A date to Sea Salt Eatery - one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities!

3.  Meeting Mom and Kayla at "Craftstravaganza" this morning!  Some fun arts and crafts!
4.  Dinner with the hubby and our friend, Jill, at Wise Acre Eatery tonight!  Yum!  And such a cool environment - open air, garden themed, white Christmas lights.  So nice.  And the food was delish!
5.  A trip to the Farmers' Market!  Yeah!
6.  Mother's Day!
7.  Two of my high school boys tackling me with hugs today and yelling, "Happy Mother's Day, Megan!"  I had to smile.  I may not have my own kids, but I do have kids!
8.  Drying all of our morels (so we can use them throughout the year) and putting them in TWO containers in the pantry!  Wowsers!

9.  TV season finales.  So good.  (And now I'm free to enjoy summer!)
10.  Yummy pork roast from True Cost Farms for dinner!  (Nothing like meat straight from the farm!)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday Creations - Flower Wall Art

So, my little sister, Kayla, suggested I should post about my weekly creative endeavors.  (Actually, she said I should blog one craft and one new recipe each week...)  So, I thought I could definately give it a try!

Here's craft #1:  Flower Wall Art

Basically, I bought a canvas and painted the background color.  (Some people use spray paint, but I used up some of the leftover wall paint that we used on the rest of the room - it really ties in the piece of art!)

Then, I picked out some fun fabrics and cut out the leaf shapes.  (Some people use scrapbook paper instead of fabric.  I was worried that wouldn't have as "finished" a look, so I opted for the fabric.)

I played with the layout for a few days, til I was happy with the look.

Then, I glued the "petals" to the canvas with "Fabric Fushion" (a kind of fabric glue).  I painted the glue on the fabric, and smoothed the petal onto the canvas with a brush as well.

When it was dry, I used an exacto knife to cut away the strings that frayed around the petals.

And wa-la!  A fun piece of art to liven up our loft!

Things I'm thankful for today:

1.  Mike's morel hunting.

2.  Hancock Fabrics - much nicer than JoAnn's.
3.  Jake's music production at school!  So fun!
4.  Out to "Cooper's" with Kevin and Jill.  Too funny.
5.  Dinner with my family.  Yum!
6.  Dad saying "YES" to going on the mission trip with me!
7.  Looking forward to Tiger McLuen preaching at church tomorrow!
8.  Excited to start going to the Farmers' Market again!
9.  So many gorgeous flowers this year!
10.  A bird's nest in our tree.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Portland #2

Wednesday was our Road Trip day!  We rented a car to explore a little bit outside of Portland and had quite the day!

It started with renting the car...  Uffda.  The hubby lost his ID in the Denver airport, so I had to be the one and only driver on the rental car.  And we got a Dodge Avenger.  Seriously?  It's the Bat-mobile.  It was all black, huge, with tinted windows.  Did I mention it was HUGE?!  You could have put two of me in the driver's seat (and I do not have small hips!).  I'm used to driving a FIAT.  Goodness.

So we picked up the car - and could not get our little selves out of the city of Portland!  (No wonder I like the public transportation so much!)  We even went the wrong way down a one-way at some point...  If I was in my FIAT, it would have been no problem...  In the Dodge?  Big problem!  Geesh.

Once we were on the freeway, we were off to explore some of the most gorgeous parts of Oregon that I've seen so far!  The only downer was that it was a foggy, rainy day.  We kept hoping it would lift, but it was not to be.  No matter.  We still loved every minute!

We ended up driving the Columbia River Gorge scenic route - waterfall after waterfall.  Gorgeous - even in the fog!  (Although, we surely plan to make this drive again on a sunny day!)

Multnomah Falls was spectacular!  Just standing there and feeling the spray was amazing.

Once through the Gorge, we headed up Mt Hood.  And the snow started.  Seriously?!  On MY vacation?!  Yep.  So, we decided to stop by the ski resort at the top - 18 feet of snow in April!  Wowsers.  Mike was sad he didn't bring his snowboard...

Next, we headed down the mountain into Bend, Oregon.  Super cute town - lots of breweries!  We only stopped at two - Deschutes (a favorite of mine - with yummy food!) and Bend Brewery (a cute little local spot).  We walked the main street and looked in some shops...  Pretty spendy.  No souveniers from Bend - but the art galleries look pretty cool!

Pretty soon it was time to start the drive back, hopefully to avoid driving through the mountains in the dark.  We took a different route back, heading through Salem, Oregon - but on the way had to go back over Mt Hood.  This time?  REALLY snowing!  Yuck.  Yet, strangely beautiful....

We made it.  We got back to the city pretty late, dropped off the car, and walked back to our hotel.  Pretty interesting walk at night - lots of people out and about. 

A great day - with lots of surprises.  That's what adventures are for, right?

Thursday, we simply explored more of Portland.  More neighborhoods.  A snack at Voodoo Donuts - YUM! 

Lots of walking and shopping in the Hawthorne District.  Tried some more beers at the Hop House. 

Met some interesting people.  Stopped for dinner.  Tried to go to a concert...  Hubby's lack of an ID prevented us from getting in.  Goodness. 

So we walked back to the hotel - quite a ways, but a gorgeous night! 

We even stopped for one last beer at the Portland Deschute's Brew Pub.  Yum.  Black Butte Porter.  Gotta love it.

Friday morning, we simply took a walk.  One last stop at Powell's Bookstore - the only bookstore I've ever gotten the hubby to spend a lot of time in!  (He found the hiking and brew-your-own-beer sections.  I had plenty of time to browse!)  My favorite souvenir?  My Powell's hoody sweatshirt! 

Then it was off to the train and to the airport...  Always sad to leave...  But a great place to visit!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Vacations.  Love the adventure!
2.  God's beautiful world.
3.  Hoodies.
4.  My little FIAT.
5.  Powell's Bookstore.
6.  Our newly painted loft!
7.  My new challenge to myself - do something creative each week. 
8.  Pinterest.
9.  A great training today! 
10.  Beer tasting tonight!
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