Monday, September 23, 2013

Olivia Kellenbenz

Ben really hates this outfit.  He says it looks like a costume.  While I might tend to agree, I think it is precious on Olivia and I wanted to have some poor-quality over-edited amateur pictures before she grows out of it.  Seventeen of the best months of our lives are all wrapped up in this little German-girl dress.

And one for the #highlightreal

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad

I am a major blue cheese lover.  Put blue cheese in dog treats and I'd eat em'.  Enter, Buffalo Chicken Salad.  

I'm sure this has been done a million times before, but this is just my thrown-together version.  It is so fast and easy, there is virtually zero prep, and can be adapted to any spice/heat preference.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Disclaimer: We are MAJOR whimps when it comes to heat in our food.  This is a very very mild version, obviously just add more hot sauce to your liking.

- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 3-4 Tbsp Franks Hot Sauce
- One small red onion, chopped
- One pepper (any variety) chopped
- One pound chicken breast, chopped
- Loads of blue cheese
- Tortillas (if desired)
- Salad Greens
- Desired Dressing

1.  In a skillet, melt 2 tbsp of butter, and add desired amount of hot sauce.
2.  Saute garlic, onions, and peppers until soft, about five minutes.
3. Add chicken, cook thoroughly.  Allow to cool before placing on salad greens.
4.  Load up with blue cheese and enjoy!

*I coated my tortillas with oil before baking them.  It gave them a nice crunch.
*I made a quick homemade vinaigrette of vinegar, hot sauce, and olive oil.  It was pretty tasty!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Livi Lately

For all of you Aunties and Great Aunties who keep asking for an update :)

The bedtime trifecta: Blankee, binkie, Minnie. 
Very proud for putting on her bib all by herself! 
Many days she will spend almost 30 minutes "reading" to herself.
She loves playing up in her room!
In our tiny house it adds some variety :)

Waiting for Micah!
What was actually happing during Micah's photoshoot...

We are heading up to Maryland this week for my cousin Jennifer's wedding!  Ben will be holding down the fort while we're gone.  All four of the cousins on my (Kellenbenz) side of the family will be together for the first time, bringing lots of noise joy to their Great-Grandfather Bowen :)

Have a great week!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Trader Joe's Hack: Risotto-Style Barley & Chicken

Trader Joe's is a big deal for our family.  If we shopped at Whole Foods we would be splitting a can of pea soup between the three of us for a week, so we make TJ's work for our needs.  I try to pick up a few new things every time we are in there, mostly because their store policy allows a customer to return something if you don't like it (without a receipt--since everything is a store brand!).

No brainer for me.

Almost every time I go in there I have a cardboard sleeve of something we didn't care for, a carton of frozen produce that went bad too quickly, or a bag of chips with a few handfuls missing.  They credit your grocery bill for the products you returned.  Every penny counts!  And every time I do it, I think of my dad who, as a child, was forced by my Grandfather to return a half-eaten frozen pizza to Safeway.  I come by it honest.

I will not be returning the empty bag of "10 Minute Barley".

It has been lurking in my pantry for awhile now, and since I've got so much time on my hands these days, meal planning is now becoming one of my favorite activities of my new career.  I happened to notice the recipe on the side of the package, and after reading about the Risotto in Bread & Wine, I was anxious to give this a try.  I made several modifications, the most drastic being the 3/4 cup of half and half I dumped in at the end.  I couldn't help myself.  I had to do something to counteract the health benefits of the barley.

This was a real winner.  Ben gave it the "this would be good for supper club" approval rating.  I would suggest, as always, reading through the recipe several times before beginning.

Risotto-Style Barley & Chicken
Adapted from Trader Joe's 10 Minute Barley 

- 1 Quart Chicken Broth
- 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Diced Onion
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 Package of TJ's 10 Minute Barley
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 3/4 Cup Half and Half, Whole Milk, or Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 4 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 Cup Grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
- Diced Chicken Breast, or your choice of protein

1.  Bring broth to a gentle simmer.
2.  In a separate skillet, heat oil and add onions and garlic.  Sauté until translucent, about five minutes.
3.  Stir in the barley and coat with oil.  Toast barley until color begins to appear, about five minutes.
4.  Begin to add stock to the barley 1/4 cup at a time, allowing each cup to fully absorb into the barley, around two minutes at medium heat.  Stir, stir, stir.  Continue adding stock until the barley is softly al-dente, about 20-25 minutes.  
5.  Add in the half and half before the barley is fully saturated.  Continue stirring.
6.  Once mostly absorbed, add the butter and cheeses.  Mix until melted and incorporate.
7.  Add the protein.  Garnish with additional cheese or fresh parsley.

Next time, I am going to add chopped red pepper at the beginning with the onions.  This was hearty enough to be a full meal.  Olivia couldn't get enough!