Ok.... So it's been FOREVER since I've been able to get two seconds to myself to blog! I'm not sure who said that Summer time means more free time and less to do, but they clearly were living in an alternate reality! Eric and I have had two mini-trips in the past month (hallelujah! They were much needed), and many many events to attend. Apparently, tis the season to get married and have babies because between all of the different wedding showers, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and other holidays (read: Mother's day, Father's day, etc.). My budget is down to about $7.50 per event. Sorry everyone, but that's what you're getting. A big, fat check for $7.50. Feel free to see half of a movie on us. ;)
I also officially signed my contract with Scottsdale Preparatory Academy for Fall 2010, as a math instructor (woo hoo!). This means that I will be spending 6+ hours every day with hormonal teenagers trying to teach them something they don't want to learn. Yet somehow, I'm still very excited! So, my free time is feeling even more at risk, with the impending school in-service start date of July 28... *deep breath* But, I'm enjoying what I have for now.
I love, Love, LOVE to cook! However, I have some other passions that I have been indulging lately, the most interesting of which are my DIY projects. I am a newlywed, therefore I am poor. Now, do not mistake me, I have plenty to get by, and we live quite a comfortable life. However, when we got married and moved in together we had about 4 items of furniture between the two of us, and about 1700 square feet of space to fill. Also, if you don't know me, I am particular. I want a certain look in my house; I want things to fit together. Since my look is waaaaay beyond my budget, I either have to save up my money and buy one piece of furniture from Pottery Barn every 7 years, or... I have to DIY (for all the non-HGTV people out there this means "do it yourself") project the crap out of old things to make them new again!
Of late, I have re-finished a few picture frames, some wall-sconces, and am currently attempting a coffee table (finally! hooray!). Next up... my kitchen table *insert foreboding music here* This is a MASSIVE undertaking. Mostly because my table (with all the leaves in place) is not just a table for two (I know, I know, false advertising...). In fact, it is over 12 feet long, and according to Ms. Manners (who says you can seat 1 person every 24 inches along a table), it can potentially seat up to 14 people!!! Dinner Party at my house! You may ask yourself how we came to be in possession of such a grossly over-sized table for our modest 1700 square feet. It was a gift. No, not even to me, but to my husband and his roommates, none of whom wanted it when they moved out. This originally saddened me, as the 70's retro fabric on the chairs and the 80's-themed, paint-speckled finish on the wood didn't exactly "go" with the rest of my home. However, I started searching craigslist for tables of similar size and flexibility (ours can become perfectly square as well, when you remove all of the leaves), and found that people do no make quality tables anymore... at least, not at this size. Even Costco, the expert in over-sized everything, does not offer a table that seats more than 8, and even those run over 3k! So.... It will be repurposed. As the wood is in terrible condition, it will have to be painted, rather than refinished (which saddens my heart - never, I repeat, NEVER paint over perfectly good wood!!) But, all around, painting is easier - so I am thankful.
As DIY projects have consumed me, I have been making list after list of delicious recipes that need to fill this blog. However, I think I'd be typing til doomsday if I tried to post everything original that I end up cooking. Thus, I shall have to choose the best recipes, and maybe someday I'll get to all of the other delicious things that come across our table...
That being said, on deck for today... Chicken Artichoke Pinwheels! These arose form one of those nights where we had about 5 things in our refrigerator and no $ left in the grocery budget (why do I feel like that happens so often??). Since I'm not free to eat whatever I like, and have to keep to specific caloric-intake regimens (read: "my life is no fun"), I have to be choosy about what I eat and when. Here is the perfect recipe for all you low-cal peeps out there! This delish main dish is only 360 calories! Plus it packs a ton a fresh ingredients and "good fats" (the mono-unsaturated kind... Dr. Oz would be so proud of me!) Ready? Here we go!
2 Single Chicken Breasts
4 Artichoke hearts
1/4 cup Prart-Skim Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
2 Roma Tomatoes
3 Green Onion Spriggy-Thingys (chopped)
1 Tbsp EVOO
6 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
What I Did:
1. Use a meat tenderizer (or a hammer covered in a ziplock baggie... I know... ghetto) to flatten both chicken breasts.
2. Cover each chicken breast with the following: a clove each minced garlic, 1 roma tomato, 2 artichoke hearts, and 1/2 the chopped green onions. Sprinkle each breast with the mozzarella cheese.
3. Carefully roll the chicken breasts up and secure with tooth picks. This is the hardest part - however, if you've done a good job flattening your meat, it should be relatively simple.
4. Drizzle some EVOO into a medium sized skillet and allow to heat. Once the oil is nice and hot (look for ripples on the surface). Mince in your remaining garlic cloves.
5. Place your chicken rolls in the pan and let 'em brown! There will be a lot of popping and sizzling here, so have a lid handy. Brown the chicken rolls on all sides. When chicken rolls are brown, add the stock to the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Turn the chicken every once in a while while you allow it to cook through (probably about 10 mins, depending on the thickness of your roll) in the stock.
6. Once most of the stock has cooked away, your chicken ought to be cooked. If you're not sure, give it a slice and make sure there chicken is white throughout. When cooked, remove chicken rolls from pan. Add the flour and red wine to the same skillet and whisk to thicken. Make sure you scrape all the little bits from the bottom of the pan - this will pick up all of the flavors from the pan and add them into your sauce (fancy-schmancy term for this: de-glazing).
7. Once your sauce is about the consistency of gravy, pull it off the heat. Slice chicken rolls short-ways, producing the "pinwheel" shape. Serve with red-wine gravy on the side/over the top.
Ta-da! =) The beauty of this recipe is that you can stuff a chicken pinwheel with ANYTHING! Got mushrooms? Spinach? Gourmet Cheese? Go for it! I can't wait to try this again with different stuffings. Best of all, the calorie counts are based on 1 stuffed chicken breast per serving (meaning this recipe makes 2 servings)! So, have half of this delicious recipe and get ready to fill yourself up guilt-free with only 360 calories! I recommend serving this with a toss salad in vinaigrette dressing. A filling dinner for under 500 calories always sounds good to this girl! Chicken Artichoke Pinwheels... that's what's on our Kitchen Table for Two (or Fourteen...) tonight!!