Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipe Thursday- A day LATE!!!

I am so sorry that I didn't get a recipe up yesterday! I am a total slacker right now!
I feel terrible about it because... Well Ashley said that she really needed a new recipe!!!!
Sorry Ashley- it is Friday.

Well we have been busy, and I have a wonderful excuse... I have not planned a meal all week!!! We have had sandwiches, soup, whatever is left in the house...

See I don't want to go grocery shopping unless we HAVE TO GO now. What happens is I go once a week, get too much, then go again the next week! So I am going to start going through the cabinets and coming up with meals.
Last night we had quesadillas... We had the cheese, tortillas, onion, and peppers.
I threw the sliced onion and sliced peppers in a pan sauteed for 5 minutes. Rinsed the pan and added some butter to it. Threw in the tortilla, added the onion and peppers and cheese... fold tortilla in half to cover the inside and then flipped.
but does that sounds like a recipe that I am going to give you that is wonderful and tastes great? Why hell no I am not.

So here is a better recipe that we make all the time.

Jalapeno Chicken!
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine. (It is equally as light because we dont do anything but add more jalapenos!)

What ya need:
2 chicken breasts
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 fresh jalapeno; sliced ad removed the seeds(Do NOT use the pickled kind that are in a jar. and use 2 if you like the heat like we do!)
8 oz of Pepper Jack Cheese; Shredded. (You have to get the whole 16 oz. block but only use half!)
Pam cooking spray

What ya do:
Rinse chicken and pat dry and put on a plate.
Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning on both sides. (Use all of it!)
Spray the chicken with Pam. (Totally sounds weird, but it makes the seasoning stick as well as the chicken not stick to your pan!)
In a non stick pan, cook chicken on both sides. Do not add oil... or anything else.
Once the chicken is cooked through add the jalapenos to the top and add the cheese on top of the peppers.
Cover with a lid until the cheese is all melty and cheesy-goodness.

We serve this chicken dish with "Lipton's Rice Sides" the Mexican Rice one... easy as can be and wonderful!

So there you have it Ashley! Low Calorie as well as delish!

PS: I thought that you might like it because you LOVE some spicy food!

Well I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend. We have a date night tonight! YAY!
Also I am getting to go to some of my FAVORITE places ever this weekend! First Surin, then The Colonnade with my PaPa tomorrow for lunch and then to a new place Vintage Pizza Saturday night. AND then Oysterfest on Sunday! Even though I don't like Oysters I hope that they have shrimp!

It is going to be a wonderful weekend! I hope that you all enjoy it as well!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

and I am back!

Sorry it has been so long since my last post!

We have been super busy in the House of McCracken! We have a ton of home re-do's planned, and just this week added a few more to this list. It is going to be so wonderful when it is all said and done.

I am sorry for the lack of posting, but we were SICK. I am talking cannot get out of bed, coughing so much that I lost my voice, aches- chills- fever... Basically my worst nightmare.
It lasted from Tuesday until Saturday night. So that is why there was not a recipe last week! Nothing even tasted the same so I didn't want to put soup from a can on here.
Lets just say that I would not even wish that sickness upon my worst enemy.

In other news...

I don't have much to talk about. We are doing WONDERFUL. Life is so much better than expected.

We are going to do a recipe this week, but I am sorry if there are not any pictures... we are still trying to think of what might taste great!

We do have a date night planned this weekend and I am really excited about that. We are going to one of my favorite places in the world. Surin of Thailand! Have you been there Atlanta people? It is in Virginia Highlands (which is called VIRGINIA HIGHLANDS... do not call it "the highlands" because that is in the mountains of NC! this upsets Atlantans who have been here their whole lives! Like "Lenox Square" It is NOT to be called Lenox Mall! EVER! It is called Lenox SQUARE! end of rant) and it is by far the best Thai food I have EVER had!
There is so much on our calendar for 2011 already! With more weddings, parties, and life in general there is hardly been time for a date night. Plus with the weekends we do have left open, I want to keep them open! Not make plans! and just relax... I just want to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Hope that you all are having a WONDERFUL week! I know that we are!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Love Day to all of you out there!!!

We had a great weekend. The best in a while! We were busy NON-STOP.

Friday night we went to Macon to see Bob and Brittany.

We also went to Macon to see JM's Mom and get the piano! It is beautiful... I cannot wait to start playing again. Now I just have to sit there and re-teach myself the basics... My old piano teacher would be so proud!

Saturday once we got back we headed over to Ballard Backroom. It is a division of Ballard Designs. IT. WAS. AMAZING. See we have been looking for a Hutch for the Living Room for a LONG TIME. OR ever since we got married. And we found it... We also found a few other pieces of furniture as well...

This is what we got each other for Valentine's Day.

And for you... a little before and after! (Sorry all of the picture are iPhone shots! we were so busy we didn't even take out the camera this weekend!)

This is a BEFORE-Before Picture... we will call this Pre-K as in Pre-Katie
Then it was this...I guess considered a Before
Sorry I couldn't get it all in one... see the piano? YAY!!!

The Foyer got a new table...


We got another table for the upstairs hall way, replaced the coffee table in the Family Room... and we spent WAY less than we thought we were even going to spend on the hutch! WAY WAY LESS! While everything in there was a steal... you must know that it is more of a "scratch and dent" place. Which means we will be getting some furniture pens and fixing it up.

Last night we celebrated with a very romantic dinner of Shrimp and Scallops with Creamy Grits and a Sherry Cream Sauce. JM did a wonderful job with dinner. That is what we had on our first Valentine's Dinner...Should be a tradition from now on!

and I made JM's family recipe for Pound Cake with berries and cream. Was AMAZING...

Tonight we are making PIZZA with family! Fig and Prosciutto Pizza and a Pepperoni Pizza as well! Maybe that will be Thursday's Recipe Challenge!

What are you doing tonight? Did you celebrate this weekend?

I hope that everyone has a wonderful day filled with love!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cooking with the McCracken's Thursday

Once upon a time, I met a man. I fell in love. He knew the way to my heart, which just so happens to be the same way I got to his heart. Through his stomach.

I love JM for so many reasons, but there is one I am thinking of now. The man can cook.

Here is one of the many recipes that he taught me when we were dating. It makes me fall more in love with him.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

What ya need:

4-6 Boneless- Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 cans of diced tomatoes
Chicken Stock (I used the liquid that I boiled the chicken in. 2 bay leaves, 4 chicken bouillon cubes Hey it works for me!)
1 bag of Red Beans and Rice
Chili Powder
Onion (if you have it)
Jalapeno (again if you have it)

What ya do:

Bring the chicken broth to a boil. At the same time... get the red beans and rice on the stove.

Once the chicken is done, remove from pot. Place in a separate bowl, and add a ton of chili powder. A ton. That is a measurement you know and not to be confused with shit-ton.

Add the two cans of tomatoes and onion to the chicken broth.

Add the Red Beans and Rice to the pot.
Then shred the chicken and return to the pot.

Bring it all to a boil and then serve!

Serve with these: Shredded Pepper Jack and Cheddar Cheese. Tortilla Chips (not pictured)

OR you can serve with Jalapeno Cornbread!!!

What ya need:
1 box of Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 Egg
Milk (I cannot remember how much- it says on the back of the box!)
1 1/2 Cup of Cheddar Cheese Shredded
1 Can of Mexi-Corn
1/2 Fresh Jalapeno
1 or 2 tbsp of pickled Jalapenos. Juice and all!

What ya do:
Make the mix exactly as it says on the back of the box.
Once that is made, let sit for 3-4 minutes
Fold in the remaining ingredients. GENTLY. I only used a cup of cheese in the batter and 1/2 for sprinkling on top before it goes in the oven.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. OR until it is golden brown on top!
I will look like this...
ummm I had to have some of it. Just a taste- the corners are my favorite...

Well I hope that you enjoy this for dinner... OR you can make it and freeze it! Let us know what you think....

PS. JM wants you to make sure to add hot sauce when you eat the soup. He says Texas Pete... it is one of his favorites.

PPS. Isn't my camera bad- ass?!?!?! I am in love with it. But not as much as I love JM for showing me this recipe.

Have a great Thursday!!!

America the Beautiful...

Well this is what I woke up to on Saturday morning. It was beautiful.

This past weekend we went to Blue Ridge, GA. We had a great time! The house we stayed in was beautiful... was a Log Cabin style house. But the views, they were perfect...
Amy did a wonderful job picking out the place and organizing the whole trip! Thank you Amy.

We got there late Friday and left around noon on Sunday. There was good food, great drinks, and the best of friends there. It was relaxing. We had no plans but to relax and enjoy each others company.
I am sure that it will be once a year trip from now on... minus a few of the things. But that is another story for another time.

Other than the mountains... we do not have much going on in our lives right now. This weekend we are headed to Macon on Friday night to pick up a piano! YAY! It has been in JM's family for a while and we want to keep it that way... It will be perfect in the living room. Now I just have to get out the books again and teach myself the basics again. I will re-learn. I want for our (future) children to be able to play.
I want the house to be full of music.
Now to think of someone who can tune a piano. There is nothing worse than an out of tune piano.
Saturday night I am going out for a best friends Bachelorette Party. It is going to be a blast! Dinner with the girls is just what I need!

Well sorry to be so short and lame, but I don't feel that great. Something is just off... no idea...

Well I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week.

There will be a new edition to Cooking with the McCracken's tomorrow... Chicken Tortilla Soup! AND Brandi Nell- The Fish recipes are coming! we go to a Fish Cookery class at the Viking Store on the 19th! So you will all get the recipes from that too!

Apparently it is going to snow tonight... Hopefully the weather man is wrong about GA this time getting snow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Recipe 1..... Lets give this a try!

So last night I had full intentions to post this... HOWEVER. I had to make 6 pounds of chicken salad and 5 pounds of pimento cheese for this weekend. We are leaving to go to the mountains with some friends in Blue Ridge, GA right after work to celebrate a great friend's Birthday! Happy Birthday Jason!

Also I didnt hear back from anyone on my post about doing a recipe a week... Hello? This thing on? Anyone out there? I need a name for this recipe thing!

Well today is Maple Mustard Pork Chops. We adapted this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. Needless to say, it might not be so "light" anymore. BUT it is damn good- and that is all I know.

So here we go... Get out your pots and pans friends.

What ya need:
4 (6 oz) Bone in Center Cut Pork Chops- (JM wants you to make sure to get THICK Pork Chops- they complete him.) (OR you can do this with ONE Pork Tenderloin)
2 tablespoons of butter
4 shallots (or more) diced.
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of dijon mustard
1/2 cup of maple syrup. (OK you HAVE to use the "Grade B Maple Syrup" it is not as sweet- trust me here!)
3 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley (or you can just toss in a handful like I do!)
Salt and Pepper (duh.)

What ya do:
In a sauce pan you will make marinade and the sauce. (Chill out- they are the same thing.)
Season BOTH SIDES of the pork chops with salt & pepper and sit aside...

Over medium- high heat begin to melt the butter. Once the butter melts toss in the shallots and add some salt and pepper. Let cook for 3-4 minutes.
Then add chicken stock to the pot and bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling, whisk in mustard and maple syrup.
TASTE. I know it is hot, but taste it. You have to check the seasonings- and make sure you like it! If it needs more mustard, add it. If it needs more maple syrup add it. Make sure seasonings are right. If you would like it to be a little sweeter- then add a tablespoon of brown sugar. Again trust me on that one! Delish!
Let this boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat to low. This is when you toss in the parsley. If you dont like parsley- then you are missing out and dont add it. If you love it- go crazy with it.

This is fun right? crickets... hello? anyone out there today?

Once you add the parsley and it cooks down for about 15 minutes turn off the heat and cool to room temperature.
You will use half of this for the marinade and the other half to cook the meat in!

Once it has cooled down pour half over the pork. And let sit for at least an hour or more if you have time.

Get out your Dutch Oven! We want to sear the pork on BOTH SIDES! If you do not have a Dutch Oven , then use a deep frying pan, or cast iron skillet. (We do this IN the Dutch Oven and on the grill. JM's Big Green Egg also completes him.)

To sear the pork chops, drizzle a little bit of olive in the bottom of the HOT Dutch Oven (or pan) and place meat in there side by side. Cook meat on both sides until it has caramalized on both sides. You dont want to cook the meat through. Remove the pork from the pan.
Add the other half of the sauce to the Dutch Oven/pan and bring back up to a boil. If you need to add more chicken stock, mustard, or maple syrup this is the time to do it!
Once it has reached a boil, return the meat.

Then you will cook the meat though while it bathes in the goodness of the sauce. This is key to keep the meat moist and tender. It is KEY to pretty much have the bone fall right out!
Cook for about 20 minutes in the sauce.

Serve the Pork on a platter and cover it with the remaining sauce that was in the pan. Dont waste all of that goodness. You will regret it!

This goes great with Sweet Potatoes and green beans... Just sayin'

MOST OF ALL... Dont forget to say "thank you" when everyone tells you how wonderful of a cook you are!

NOW you have to let me know what you think...
Remember this is not the "Cooking Light" 300 calorie version. There's was boring and without butter. I can give it to you if you want, but hell, everything is better with butter. My pants may not agree... but I didnt ask them anyways.

In other news: Look what I did.

NO it is NOT a wig. My hair really is THAT long. For all for $13 whole dollars I got 2 boxes of hair dye and I cut my hair myself. JM talked me into the bangs, and I love them so far... We will have to see.
As for the long hair. When does hair get TOO long??

I hope that you all enjoyed this first installment of the Recipe of the Week. Let me know what you want to see next!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's been a week....

and I have been MIA for a week.

We have not done that much lately... but we did start on a little home project. Well to clarify, it was all JM and my Dad. I sat, watched, cooked for them, and cleaned the kitchen. Do you really think that they would trust me with a saw? No I didn't think so... Hell I dont even trust myself with a saw.

Here are some pictures from this weekends project: A built-in bench in the bay window.

We still are not done with this project...

We still have to add some decorative trim to the front as well as sand, prime, and paint. I am thinking of doing a glaze over some ivory paint to give it that "shabby chic" look, but I am not sure. I do have all of the fabric picked out for the pillows and cushion that will cover the top of the bench.

I just love that we will have another place for storage in the kitchen! We have gotten some lovely wedding gifts, however we didn't have ANYWHERE for us to store them. So the bench will be perfect! Plus it is HUGE!

Other than the bench, we have not been doing much... taking it easy I guess.

I have had a few thoughts over the past few weeks though. I want this blog to be... well, more.

Let me explain.

This is a place for me to share my thoughts and ramblings about what we have going on in our lives and I love that! BUT we also cook... A LOT. Not only do we love cooking, we love cooking for other people. We take pride in what we serve each other as well as everyone else who enters the McCracken House. So I think that once a week I am going to start doing a recipe. See how it goes.
This will not turn into a cooking blog, but maybe just maybe once a week I could share a tried and true recipe with everyone.
Now there is a catch... I want YOU to tell me what you want to cook. What would you like to see? A chicken dish, because you are tired of making the same chicken over and over? OR how about a new pork, beef, or even veggie dish???
This will help not only us try a few new things and branch out, but I think that it would be great for all of you to have a new recipe as well...

What do you think? I need some feed back here? I know that there are only 33 of you reading this... But that means at least 33 new recipes right?

What do you think? JM and I were talking about it, and maybe just maybe I could even get him on here to give some of his recipes up too!

This little blog has brought me so much joy over the past however-many months. Hell I even made a wonderful friend or pen pal so-to-speak! I would have never met her if it were not for this wonderful space where I share it all.

Now I guess it is time to spread some of that joy... So email me or share here on what kind of recipe you would like to appear here. ALSO help me think of a name for this "weekly challenge" that we are taking on...

I am thinking of posting this on Thursday's. So tomorrow's post will be....


I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday.