Well, it’s been a busy week and I’m excited to share some great finds with you. The first thing is actually an oldie but goodie. Again, I LOVE my library. If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, you should take another look at it. I live in a very small town with a shoebox-sized library, but we have access to the greater metropolitan city’s library because we live in the same county. The bigger library is just amazing! Since there are multiple branches, you can go online, reserve books, and have them sent to whichever branch you want. As with many libraries, you can also renew online and avail yourself of lots of extra amenities. I’m often surprised at the things the library does or doesn’t have. A recent surprise find was all 7 seasons of the older TV show Boy Meets World. I just finished watching the first season and could barely stop laughing. It was a great TV show that had laughs for all ages, great character chemistry, and a moral to each episode. If you’re looking for something easy and drama-free to watch, I highly suggest it.
A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from Ben & Jerry’s letting me know that Free Cone Day was fast approaching. Actually it’s tomorrow (4/3) and is held at participating Ben & Jerry’s locations nationwide from 12-8 PM. There are often very long lines, but you will get a free cone with an amazing flavor in it; so it’s up to you if it’s worth it or not.
If you decide not to go, you can still get a yummy ice cream fix with another amazing new Haagen-Dazs flavor: Spiced Caramel Biscuit. This is another spot-on delicious flavor. It’s got just a little bit of spice and a whole lot of yummy caramel flavor that meld together deliciously in your mouth.
I don’t know about you, but Sundays are a very busy day for me. With teaching Sunday school, church, choir practice, and catching up with friends, we don’t have a lot of down time. With the time I do have, I don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen. That being said, I very often put something in the slow cooker before we leave in the morning, so that all I have to do when we get home is maybe make a pot of rice. This week I tried out a recipe that caught my eye the first time I saw Daphne Oz on The Chew making it. It’s simply called chicken with sweet potatoes, but it packs a lot of flavor for a dish with a plain Jane name. I have a medium slow-cooker, so I only did about half of the recipe. I also tweaked it (very successfully) by swapping orange marmalade for the peach preserves. Since the dish already has an asian flair to it, the hubby and I thought this was a much better choice. Considering that he isn’t such a huge fan of sweet potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised that he loved this dish. It has a lot of spice and flavor and is very filling for a dish with comparatively little meat. The only fault I found in the recipe was that it didn’t tell you to peel the sweet potatoes. Going off the recipe, I didn’t peel mine. But the sweet potatoes get so tender that the skin sort of falls off, and seeing root veggie skin floating in my food isn’t what I consider appetizing. We spent about a minute peeling the skin off before we continued eating; other than that, this is a great recipe that I will be using often.
Chicken with Sweet Potatoes (adapted from The Chew)
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (To make sure this dish cooks through in 3-4 hours, I chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. I’ve also had success making this with chicken breasts.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne
1 diced onion
3 peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 c. peach preserves (As I stated above, I prefer this with orange marmalade.)
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper. Place the onions and sweet potatoes in the slow cooker. Top with the chicken.
2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, preserves, and 3 c. of chicken stock; then pour this mix over the chicken in the slow cooker. Sprinkle the salt, ginger, curry, paprika, and cayenne over the chicken; stir well. Cook on low 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours) or til the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are fork tender.
3. Before serving, mix together the cornstarch with 1/2 c. of stock. Add to the slow cooker, turn the heat to high, and cook for 15 min. or til the sauce has thickened.
If you hadn’t already guessed, the movie for this week was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. (Trailer here.) In this hilarious movie, Andie (Kate Hudson) is a how-to writer for a popular women’s magazine. Her current assignment is to write a how-NOT-to: how not to act in a relationship if you want to keep the guy. She plans to pick a guy and use typical girl errors (clinginess, baby talk, etc.) to drive him away. Ben (Matthew McConaughey) is an advertising executive who’s just made a bet that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. If he wins, he’ll land a huge contract that will elevate his career to new levels. Fortunately for us, they’re paired together with hilarious results. (My hubby even agrees that this is a funny movie.) Though there are plenty of cringe-inducing moments, this also has so many funny scenes. I especially enjoy the beginning scene where Andie’s trying to cheer up her friend and the scene in the vegetarian restaurant. Throughout the whole movie though, she does these horrible things to him and he puts up with it because of his bet. It’s horrible yet funny. I also love the idea for Ben’s party at the end of the movie. Can you imagine going to a swanky party and getting to deck yourself in gorgeous jewelry? I would love to be able to do that! Here’s some of my favorite lines: “Who will use Michelle’s personal life for a story?”, “You let our love fern die!”, “Ok. That’s good. That’s it. Yes, you’re scaring me.”
Inspired by the movie, I decided (with some help from my dearest hubby) to find a 10 ingredient recipe that would help someone catch the attention of that special someone. I am a firm believer that cooking for someone is a great way to show that you care, and this recipe will definitely let them know how much. PB&J cookies like these are likely to make anyone’s day; they were certainly a huge hit here. Me, my hubby, and my father-in-law all agree that these are delicious. The recipe is super easy and fast. It took me longer to fill them than anything else, and that was because I used 3 different fillings: strawberry jelly, grape jelly (my hubby’s fave), and nutella. Each of them are delicious, but you should use whatever you and yours like best.
PB&J Cookies (from the April 2006 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. softened butter
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. + 1 tsp. strawberry jelly (Or whatever flavor you like.)
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. whole milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder; set aside.
2. In a bowl, mix 3/4 c. peanut butter with the butter on medium speed. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat til smooth, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg til incorporated, then stir in the flour mix til just combined.
3. Using a small (1 1/2 inch) ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop the dough 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets (Definitely give them the 2 inches, they spread a lot.). Using the back of a melon baller or your thumb, gently make an indent in the center of each cookie. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. of jelly into the center of each cookie and bake til they’re lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
4. In a small bowl, beat together the remaining 1/4 c. peanut butter with the confectioner’s sugar. Whisk in the milk a little at a time, til the frosting reaches a good consistency for piping. (Or drizzling if you’re lazy like me.) Put the frosting in a ziploc bag, snip a corner off, and pipe over the cookies.
By happy coincidence, today is national PB&J day, so that’s one more reason you should make them tonight. See you soon!