Meet the Sullivans: November 2010

November 24, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up this Wednesday with Little Daisy May for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

I'm loving...the Christmas decorations I have already began to put up. 

 I'm loving...that tomorrow we get to see both our wonderful families


I'm loving...that we're going early Friday morning with the whole Sullivan clan to Half Moon Bay to cut down our Christmas trees. This will be Keith and my first tree together! 
We can't wait to decorate it! 
Keith and his brother Kevin at the tree farm last year.

I'm loving...that my 10 year high school reunion is Friday night. The last 10 years have gone by so quickly. I keep in contact with all the people I really love from high school, but it will be nice to see all of those other familiar faces once again. I'm mostly excited to see all of these girls: 



*Although our friend Jen (first one on the left) and my sister Kathee (on my right) are in the picture, 
they were not BHS Class of 2000, but I love them anyway.


Chicken-and-Brie Sandwich with Roasted Tomatoes

 Here is the line-up, minus the chicken (it was thawing) and spinach / mayo (because we didn't use it)

Ingredients
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 2  cups  halved cherry tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  cup  low-fat mayonnaise (We try to not eat mayo)
  • 1  tablespoon  whole-grain Dijon mustard (I included this, but Keith hates mustard so I didn't end up using it)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  (16-ounce) loaf French bread, cut in half horizontally (I used focaccia bread)
  • 3  ounces  Brie cheese, sliced
  • 3  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 2  cups  fresh spinach
First, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. 

I used whole chicken breast for this recipe and I like to pound the chicken first so it cooks fast and more evenly. It also makes it easier to fit into a sandwich.  To do this, after patting dry the chicken, lay it on plastic wrap on a cutting board and then layer another sheet of plastic wrap and gently pound the chicken with a meat mallet or a small heavy pot.

Now, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Next, measure the two cups of cherry tomatoes and then cut each little tomato in half. After you have halved the tomatoes you can throw them in the pan on the stove. Cook 4 minutes, stirring once.


 Now you can measure out the 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
After about 4 minutes your tomatoes will begin to look like this. When they do remove them from the heat; stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Sprinkle tomatoes with thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Wrap handle of pan with foil; bake at 300° for 15 minutes.

 My pan has a rubber coated handle which I am not comfortable putting in the oven, so I transferred the tomatoes to a foil lines baking pan. They cooked just fine this way. 

 While the tomatoes cook you can measure out the garlic and mustard (I think this would have went really well with the sandwich but Keith does not like mustard, so we left it out) and throw your chicken in the pan that now has thyme, balsamic vinegar and oil left over from the tomatoes and cook until done.

 This is what the tomatoes looked like when I took them out of the oven. Lookin' good! After I took the tomatoes out I put the focaccia bread halves under the broiler with a little minced garlic spread on each side. While the bread browned I transferred the chicken to a cutting board and sliced it up.

 The trick to this sandwich is layering! On the bottom half of the sandwich add a big heap of tomatoes, layer on a few slices of brie (the best part in my opinion) and then a few slices of chicken. If you add spring mix lettuce or spinach you would put it on last.

Slice in half and serve! 
Goes well with pita chips or a small simple salad. 
Enjoy! I know you'll love it!

November 23, 2010

Tuesday 11/22 in Photo: My Mantle


We've  been living here for weeks, weeks I tell you, yet we have little to no items on our walls. This is not for a lack of hanging ability, but because we can't figure out or find exactly what we want. The biggest challenge for me has been figuring out what to do with this wall:



When we moved in we knew we would have to put the television next to the fireplace, (that's where the connection is) not a big deal, but since the television is so large I wasn't sure what to do above the fireplace (which had no mantle). The fireplace is supposed to be a central focal point in a living room, right? With the t.v. being gigantic it is hard to figure out what will balance it all out. 

Well, we haven't figured it all out yet, but we are one step closer to working it out. I give you our "mantle":

Let me just remind you that we are renting, so in this case we needed to make a temporary fix. We ordered this 48" Crown Molding Ledge from Pottery Barn.  We read the directions, and all the reviews on the Pottery Barn website, and they seemed easy enough, but there were some scary looking drywall anchors. 

My "stud" using the stud finder to properly hang the ledge.
So, Keith (my saintly husband), affixed it to the wall yesterday (on his day off) with the help of his friend Ted. The ledge is 5" deep, so while it gives us the look of a mantle, it will not hold quite as much. 

I've got some ideas up my sleeve for what to do with it for Christmas (i.e, stocking holders, stockings, garland, etc.), but I will still need to figure out what to put above it and on it year-round.

Anyone have any ideas for me? I would love to hear them!

Our Wedding Photos

Last week we received a pretty exciting and special package in the mail...
Our photographer Fiona Sarn is pretty amazing. 
She has did our engagement photos, she did a few of our friends' engagement photos and weddings. 
There was no doubt in our minds the pictures were going to be extraordinary. 
We received a slide show from her a few weeks ago, 
but we were unable to print or share digital copies until we had the disks and proof books. 
We were pretty excited to get this package in the mail and I am so excited to share them with you
I have added a link on the right side of our main page to a page with few of our favorites. 
Thanks for stopping by! 

November 22, 2010

Menu Monday 11/22

Happy Monday! 
It's a very Happy week for us--I have just two days of work and Keith is off Thursday & Friday!

This week is going to be a little different menu wise too. 
We will only be home for dinner Sunday, Monday and Tuesday this week. 
We have a family dinner on Wednesday at Keith's sister's house, Thanksgiving Thursday and...
my 10 year high school reunion (Ahhh! Am I that old?) on Friday. 
I'm making a few things for Thursday, so I will include those things in this week's menu!

 Clockwise from top left. 

Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache Filling 
&  Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Apricot Filling

I looove these cookies. 
I always buy them at my favorite bakery Copenhagen 
(which also happens to be where our wedding cake was from!) 

Caramelized Garlic Cheese Spread -Keeping Up With the Joneses

This is a hit, I tell 'ya! I made about a month ago for a little party we had and there was pretty much nothing left of it by the end of the night. I also made it for a little Faculty Social at school last week, and again it was a hit. Everyone asked for copies of the recipe. So, I am making it for Thanksgiving at my grandpa's with my family and one for Thanksgiving at Keith's mom's. 
Everyone is sure to like it!

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde -Cooking Light

The first time I made this I was a little skeptical of  the cream cheese in this, but it was really tasty. It will be a good contrast from the flavors of Thanksiving.

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole -Southern Living 

I am bringing this dish to Thanksgiving at my grandpa's house,
which is being hosted by my mom. 
I have never heard of corn flakes on sweet potatoes, 
but I am willing to try it because the reviews are so good. 

Chicken-and-Brie Sandwich with Roasted Tomatoes -Cooking Light

I think I've mentioned this recipe before here, but I haven't made it in a while.
I actually didn't know there was a Cooking Light recipe for it until I searched for a picture of it. We kind of adapted it from the above recipe, so this will be the first time I make it by following an actual recipe as a guide. I think I'll omit the mayo though.

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!

November 21, 2010

Nutella-Marshmallow Pillow Pockets

These are so easy to make you feel bad when someone tells you how good they are and you say "thank you", because you know it was just too easy to be thanked for. I found the recipe in Picky Palate recently and had to make them. I am draw to things that seem "easy" and "good", aren't you?


I made these last week the same night I made Pioneer Woman's Steak with Burgundy Sauce. I recommend both to you, especially these little beauties...



  Here is what you will need:
  • 1 package puff pastry, 2 pastry sheets thawed
  • 1 Cup Nutella spread
  • 1 Cup mini marshmallows
  • Egg white wash: 1 egg white whisked with 1 Tablespoon water
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • 2tbsp granulated sugar

The line-up. Forgot the granulated sugar, whoops!

Spread the pastry sheet out on a cookie sheet and cut into 8ths. You can see that mine are rectangular. You can probably cut the pastry up any way you like. I was fine have more smaller pieces, but if you wanted triangles, you can either make them larger (by cutting the sheet into 4ths) or trim the 8ths down to be squares.

After you've cut the pastry sheet into sections you can spoon 2-3 tbsp of Nutella on to each section. In hindsight, I would have put the Nutella a little closer to the center. The spot I put it in made "closing" the pockets a challenge. I put about 7-8 marshmallows on each section, but feel free to add as many as you see fit, or that can fit.

*Now, you'll notice I only used only one sheet of puff pastry. The first pastry sheet and I had different ideas about what it was supposed to do. I felt it should unfold to lay flat on the cookie sheet, and it felt it should refuse and mush itself into a lump. It won. Luckily, the second sheet went with the flow. 

 Yummers!

Fold pastry in half over itself and seal edges by crimping with a fork. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on a little granulated sugar. Pop these lovies in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pasty starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Simple, see? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

 We each had like 3-4 of these. They were really good. I think they would be cute for  dessert buffet or even to serve to guests after dinner with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I will definitely make these again.

November 20, 2010

Moda Italiana!

Last Saturday Keith and I went to my school's biggest fundraiser, the school Auction. This year's theme was Moda Italiana. It was a great night and the school raised a lot of money for all of the wonderful students and their educational needs. The parents really opened up their wallets this year. The auction is always a lot of fun! The food and drinks were great and the entertainment (the auction itself) is always a thrill. 

(I just found this picture on the school website, hence it being about a week after the event!)

Keith and me. 

I'm already looking forward to next year! 

November 19, 2010

Taking Inventory

I saw this on a blog somewhere and decided I should save the idea for a rainy day (or night) when I feel like blogging about something other than cooking and recipes. It feels really good to stop and just take it all in and with my computer on, my husband sitting next to me and the tv blaring its hard to concentrate much of anything.

Right Now I Am:
Relaxing on our couch. We've eaten dinner, which consisted of turkey burgers and fries. I'm feeling uninspired tonight. Now I'm catching up on emails and blogging while Keith plays around with his video games.
 
A Song Which Has Captured My Attention:
Carrie Underwood "Mama's Song". I saw Carrie in concert with my sister, Kathee, a couple months ago. It was such a beautiful concert and so much fun! Kathee and I love going to concerts together--especially "girl" ones. Her performance of "Mama's Song" was by far my favorite, probably because I can relate to it since its all about a girl moving on from her family to make a new family with her husband.
 
A Great Story:
I am Catholic and I teach Kindergarten at a Catholic Elementary School. Two years ago I had a student who I will call Travis. Travis was a sweetheart, but like many 5-year-olds, his head was a bit in the clouds. Well, one day our schools parish priest comes by our snack tables as the children are eating their snacks. He was wearing his long white vestment (robe) and was carrying his guitar. He stopped and said hello to them and proceeded to sing them a beautiful song. After Father had left Travis says to me "Miss Collins (my maiden name), that was God! I just saw God.". It was truly adorable. 
 
I'm missing:
My dog, Conan. Conan goes by many names, all given to him by my sister and I. We have a lot of fun with him. Before Keith and I were married, and I lived at home, Kath and I would love spending time hanging around the house playing with Conan. He just loves to cuddle and he has tons of personality. I still see him for short little visits a couple times a week, but nothing can replace the regular Coney-bologna doses I was getting daily. 

A few Conan pictures: 
Conan loves, loves, loves to get cozy and cuddle under the blankets.

Conan is really curious. Last December, when I got my DSLR camera, he wanted to stick his nose right up the lens. This was the result. He looks like he's winking!

My sister, Kathee, Conan and me at Conan's 1st birthday party (he is 2 years 3 months now). Yes, we are that ridiculous. We have some pretty dog crazy friends who joined us for the party.

Keith and I got to Pastorino's Farm every year when we go to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival in October. We've always bought his dog Rocky a pumpkin, and when we got Conan we started buying him his own too. This is Coney with his 1st Pooches Pumpkin.
I'm Relieved:
That it is Friday. Whew! Two weeks ago I had a terrible cold and ended up missing two days of work. Well, I was sick again this week, but felt so bad about missing out on my students again that I toughed it out. I have a cough that won't quit. Its the kind that wakes you in the middle of the night. I woke up at 3am this morning and couldn't stop coughing. I felt so bad for Keith who was probably awoken by my hacking that I moved myself out to the couch. Luckily its a very very comfortable couch. I slept really well. Point being, I am relieved it is the weekend so I can recover!


I'm Procrastinating:
We have been in our apartment for a month now and currently have no use for our second bedroom. We think we want to make it in to an office where we can keep important files, computer and electronic gear, etc., but none of that has come to pass. Some people have a catch-all spot, well, right now we have a whole catch-all room. It's embarrassing. At first it was okay because we had just moved in, but now its just wasteful and lazy!


I Am Looking Forward To:
Sleeping in tomorrow, seeing Morning Glory
with my sister and having pretty much no other plans this weekend. I'm also looking forward to putting up our Christmas decorations!


I'm excited about:
Christmas season! I love getting a break from work to re-charge, spending time with family, buying gifts, hearing Christmas music. I just Can. Not. Wait!


I'm discouraged about:
My energy level for keeping up with everything. Keeping a clean and neat house, getting the cooking and shopping done, doing laundry, blogging, exercising, reading for work, keeping in touch with family and friends...how can I be 100% at all of this? Its a never ending battle, and this week I have been losing.
 
I want to bake:
Something delicious, like cheesecake. I was given a beautiful kitchen themed bridal shower by my sisters-in-law, and each guest gave me their favorite recipe. I am really looking forward to trying some of them! Maybe I'll do a whole Menu Monday post with those recipes for the week? Hmmm...


You may also want to know:
What else could I possibly tell you? If you have stuck around this long to make it to the end of this loooong post you are awesome! Thanks bunches!

November 17, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm linking up this Wednesday with Little Daisy May for What I'm Loving Wednesday.

I'm really loving... this highlight of our wedding video!
Our video grapher sent it to us Sunday night.
We can't wait to see the whole video!



I'm loving... our wedding photographer Fiona Sarn
She sent us the box with all of our proofs and a disk of all the pictures!
This means sharing pics on facebook, getting our Christmas cards ordered 
and filling all of our empty frames! Here are some pictures Fiona took for our engagement session. 
She how amazing she is?

I'm LOVING... that tonight I get to order said Christmas cards. 
We haven't picked which style we want yet, but I know we will be using Minted
We used them for our Save-the-Dates and they turned out amazing...just look!
 The picture quality isn't the greatest, sorry guys!
Can't wait to share our Christmas card. 

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

November 15, 2010

Chicken and Basil Calzones

 
These calzones were very easy to make and turned out great! There is an endless amount of fun and creative things you can do with little pockets of dough / crust. 

Next time I would add a little extra basil. This recipe is from Cooking Light and you can find the printable version here

Here is what you will need: 
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  pound  ground chicken breast
  • 3/4  cup  prepared pizza sauce
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1  (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Stir in pizza sauce and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Wash that basil really well!

And then chop it up. Remove chicken misture from heat; stir in basil. Let stand 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; cut dough into quarters. Pat each portion into an 8 x 6–inch rectangle.



Divide chicken mixture evenly among rectangles; top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese.

Working with one rectangle at a time, fold dough in half over filling, pinching edges to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until golden.

November 14, 2010

Menu Monday 11/15

The Pioneer Woman is the epitome of the word amazing. She truly is. She whips up the tastiest looking food. This week I have decided to try a few of her creations. I can only hope that our try at her stuff will come out just as good. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.


Clockwise from top left.

CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza- Pioneer Woman
I love California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza, so I gotta give this a try! 
Now if I could only pair it with their Spinach and Artichoke dip and some tortilla chips...

Steak with Burgundy Mushroom Sauce- Pioneer Woman
Steak? with mushrooms? Look at the picture. Need I say more? We'll have it with a blue cheese wedge salad on the side and some mashed potatoes.

Mama's Italian Wedding Soup- Someone's Mama
I've made this before with a different recipe (which I can't find) so I thought I'd try this one. Someone's Mama made this, so it must be good, right?

Nutella-Mallow Pillow Pockets- Picky Palate
This was a blog post over at Picky Palate this week and I was tempted to drop everything and make it when I saw it, but instead I saved it for this week. 

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce- Pioneer Woman
Three cheeses? Wow! I'm sold. (As my friend Hilary would say, "Cheeses is good."

I might throw in a batch of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread Mix (because it is really good), but since that comes from a box and all I need to do it add eggs and oil I can't justify adding it to my list. You see, in my humble opinion, if it comes from a can or a box you can't really call it cooking! What are you making this week?



Caramel-Pecan-Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Tuesday morning I whipped this up before work. That is how easy it was to make.

Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients? What a shame.
Well, anyway, here is what you will need:
  • BREAD PUDDING
  • 4  large eggs
  • 2  (15-oz.) cans pumpkin
  • 1 1/2  cups  milk
  • 1  cup  half-and-half
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1  (12-oz.) French bread loaf, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
  •  CARAMEL-PECAN SAUCE:
  • 1  cup  pecans, chopped
  • 1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup  butter
  • 1  tablespoon  light corn syrup
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Whisk together the eggs and the next 8 ingredients.

Chop the french bread up into cubes. 

Add the french bread to the pumpkin mixture and mix to thoroughly coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 8-24 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon mixture into lightly greased ramekins. I only have four, so I also used a large baking dish. You will want to put the ramekins on a cookie sheet (or cake pan) covered in foil to prevent spillage in your oven. 


Pop them in the oven for 50 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes. 



During last 15 minutes of baking, prepare Caramel-Pecan Sauce: Heat pecans in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Be careful not to burn 'em! Burnt pecans do not taste good.

Cook brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and pecans.

Remove bread puddings from oven; drizzle with Caramel-Pecan Sauce. Bake 5 minutes or until sauce is thoroughly heated and begins to bubble.
Yum. Bea-utiful!