Meet the Sullivans: September 2011

September 29, 2011

Chinese-Style Rice Soup with Chicken and Ginger

I was so excited to try this recipe because I thought it would be different from all the other recipes I've made in the slow cooker in the past, and it was. We liked it a lot, and felt like it was definitely a cozy dinner for cold rainy day. Using the rotisserie chicken made this a very quick dinner. Oh, and don't skip the chili paste! We also added a splash of low sodium soy sauce.
Chinese-Style Rice Soup with Chicken and Ginger 
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Ingredients
6 cups water
4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium canned, or homemade
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (from 1 rotisserie chicken)
2 to 3 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 medium bunch fresh cilantro, leaves torn or chopped
Asian chili paste, or sambal oelek, optional

Directions
  1. Put the water and broth, salt, rice and butter in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH until the rice is soft and soupy, about 6 hours. I cooked ours on LOW for 8 1/2 hours--it will look very gooey when you open it up after 8 1/2 hours, but just stir it a bit and it will be fine.
  2. When ready to serve, remove the lid and stir in the ginger and scallions. Portion the soup into bowls and top with the shredded chicken and cilantro. Serve with chili paste on the side if desired.
Adapted from a Food Network Recipe. 

September 28, 2011

Cheers to the Bride-to-Be!

Our very good friends Anne and Jaeson (Anne and I have been friends since high school!) are getting married in Hawaii on 11-11-11 and last weekend her mom and sister hosted a beautiful bridal shower shower for her. We are all so excited for them! The shower is just the beginning of all the pre-wedding celebrations and festivities to come!

Anne's sister Julie added all the sweetest details, like these wine bottles with one of Anne & Jaeson's engagement pictures as the label.

The delicious princess cake, a favorite among our friends!

Bride & Groom cake pops served as favors for the guests--I'm eating mine as I type this post.

Marriage advice for the bride and groom.

Annie posing with the spread!



Anne's engagement ring is the most beautiful sparkly thing I have ever seen!

Julie, sister and MOH, with Anne, the bride right before we began watching the slideshow Jaeson had put together as a surprise for Anne.

Anne was a little teary eyed :)

For the bride who loves salsa, now she can make her own!


Our friend Jackie put together the "bow"quet for Anne to use at the rehearsal.

Vegan bride and groom cupcakes--I heard they were great!

Julie, Annie the Bride, Jackie, me and Hilary.

Julie and Anne are such pretty sisters!

Practicing for the big day!

Hilary and Anne--besticos! (they've been best friends forever and that's their nickname for each other)

The shower was so much fun! Who doesn't love a great celebration, being surrounded by friends and delicious cake? How can anyone not love a party that is celebrating the happiness of one of your very best friends!

September 26, 2011

Menu Monday 9/26

I'm really looking forward to our menu this week! I recently discovered a "new" (to me!) food / mommy blog Chef Mommy. The recipes I've seen her post are right up my alley (i.e. simple ingredients, easy prep and look amazing) and she even has some different recipes I've never seen before for the slow-cooker. I'm really excited to try the two recipes I've picked from her blog.
Balsamic Grilled Bruschetta Chicken  (Picky Palate) - We love bruschetta, so I think we'll really like this too. The ingredients are fresh and simple, so it's already a winning recipe in my book. 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Annie's Eats) - These look so delicious! I can't wait to try them. I might just eat them all myself! Kidding...

Slow-Cooker Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup (Chef Mommy) -I made this yesterday before I left for my friend Anne's bridal shower. It was so awesome to be out having fun all day and come home to a delicious dinner.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (Martha Stewart) - You've heard about our undying love of buffalo chicken before here and here and here. Well, I'm hoping this will turn into another favorite to add to our list.

Shrimp Avocado Tostada (Chef Mommy) - Another simple, fresh list of ingredients and it's also from Chef Mommy, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.

You may have noticed that I have added links to the references for these recipes. I usually try the recipes first before I open them up to the blog, but recently a few lovely followers have asked for the links, so here they are!!

Have a wonderful Monday!

September 25, 2011

Thai Beef Cabbage Cups

We made these last week for a quick weeknight dinner. I've made lettuce wraps before using iceberg lettuce, and let me tell you, the cabbage leaves work so much better than the lettuce! The wraps / cups stayed together very nicely in the sturdy little cabbage leaves. I actually think I'll start using cabbage leaves instead of taco shells. We like the flavor a lot too. It was the perfect amount of spicy for me. I skipped the fish sauce because it just didn't seem appetizing to me.
Thai Beef Cabbage Cups 
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Ingredients
2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce I skipped this ingredient.
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 large green cabbage leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

Directions 
1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.
2. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, sugar, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl. Add beef mixture, onion, and cilantro; toss well. Place 2 cabbage leaves on each of 4 plates; divide beef mixture evenly among leaves. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts.

September 22, 2011

Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball"

This recipe is from one of my favorite "foodie" blogs, The Girl Who Ate Everything. It is adapted from a Nestle recipe. I brought it to school to share with the other teachers and staff at my school and everyone who tried it said it was great. I served with chocolate Teddy Grahams and graham crackers.  I could see this being an excellent addition to a dessert spread at a party!

Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball" 
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Ingredients 
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 cup mini milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
Graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, and/or apple slices for dipping

Directions
1. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until blended.

2. Spoon onto a large piece of plastic wrap; bring up all four corners and twist tightly forming into a ball shape.

3. Freeze for 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm enough to keep its shape. Place peanut butter and chocolate chips in flat dish. Remove plastic wrap from ball and roll ball into morsels to completely cover, pressing morsels into the ball if necessary.

4. Place ball on serving dish; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until almost firm. (Can be made ahead. If frozen overnight, thaw at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.) Serve with graham cracker sticks, teddy grahams, or apple slices for dipping or spreading.

September 21, 2011

Savory Garlic Marinated Steaks

As I said a few weeks ago, I am not an experienced steak cooker. I saw this recipe in my inbox and I thought that maybe I could mask my terrible sense of knowing when exactly a steak is done by making sure the flavor is great. Alas, I still over cooked the steak a bit (according to Keith, who prefers his steaks almost raw), but I blame that on being pregnant and the fact that I have to my meat cooked through. Anyway, I digress, this marinade was fantastic and just plain tasty. We enjoyed it very much!

Savory Garlic Marinated Steaks
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Ingredients 
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 (1/2 pound) rib-eye steaks
Directions
1. In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, olive oil, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper.
2. Place steaks in a shallow glass dish with the marinade, and turn to coat. For optimum flavor, rub the liquid into the meat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
3. Preheat grill for medium-high to high heat.
4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill steaks 7 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Discard leftover marinade.
I served the steak alongside homemade garlic mashed potatoes (I like to use yukon gold) and green beans (I cheat and use the pre-washed and trimmed kind).

Recipe from All Recipes.com

September 19, 2011

Fall's Lovely Smile

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
William Cullen Bryant

Can you believe Autumn is just around the corner? Early Saturday morning I noticed the tree outside our balcony was beginning to turn yellow and lose it's leaves. The weather might even have be cooling down a bit sometime soon (wishful thinking). I love the change of the seasons. Keith thinks I'm funny because I'm always looking forward to the next season, but can you blame me? The change of the seasons opens up opportunities for new holidays to celebrate, new home and classroom decor and most importantly new things to make, do and bake! Here are a few bits of Fall I'm looking forward to this season: 

 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Annie's Eats)

My co-worker introduced me to this blog and I can't be more thankful that she did. Don't these muffins look amazing? I've got to try them this season. It's not Fall until you've baked something with pumpkin!

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival (pumpkin pancake breakfast)

This is one of our favorite holiday traditions, we've been going every year since we started dating (7 years ago). We love getting out there early for the pancake breakfast, shopping around at the booths (I started a blown glass pumpkin collection last year and I can't wait to add another one to my collection this year) and picking out our pumpkins at Pastorino's Pumpkin Farm. 

Fall Trees and Leaves


Not sure if I would actually be successful at making these--the rolling up part sounds like it would be a challenge, but I plan on trying them out soon.

Chicken Pot Pie (Annie's Eats)

I'm a big fan of homemade chicken pot pies--they are perfect for cool fall nights and rainy Sunday afternoons. Once the weather cools...

Did you notice that pretty much everything I'm looking forward to is food related? ...but seriously do you expect anything less from a pregnant woman?

September 13, 2011

23 weeks

I'm actually 23 weeks and 2 days today, but it has taken me this long to get this post up.  Here is a picture I took on Sunday:

Pregnancy Highlights:

How Far Along: 23 Weeks

Size of baby: 11 inches long and just over 1 lb., the weight of a large mango.

Total Weight Gain/Loss: At my doctor appointment last week I was happily surprised to find out that I had only gained 3 lbs since my previous appointment--that is definitely something I can live with!

Maternity Clothes: I'm wearing maternity pants, dresses, shirts, basically everything is maternity now. I've found that the maternity clothes just fit and look so much better than the regular clothes I can fit into. It's sort of liberating to only have a small wardrobe to choose from. I've had to become a little more creative when it comes to what I wear. 

Gender: 10 fingers, 10 toes, is it a boy? Or a girl? Nobody knows! We're waiting until the baby is born to find out the sex. We have a boy name and a girl name ready for our little one. Not knowing the sex has been saving us a ton of money--if I knew the sex I would be shopping non-stop!

Movement: The wiggles, flips, punches and kicks have become way more pronounced in the last week. I actually jumped a little last night when the baby gave me a swift kick to the belly button.

Sleep: As long as I don't wake-up before my alarm I sleep very well. If for some reason I do wake up before the alarm comes calling I have a very hard time falling back to sleep, which is not normal for me. I've been sleeping with an extra pillow in front / next to me to help me balance and stay comfortable on my side.

What I miss: Not much! I'm just so excited to meet our baby.

Cravings: Fruit 

Symptoms: My feet have been really sore lately. Sitting periodically is a must these days.

Best Moment this week: At my doctor appointment last week our Dr. was listening to the baby's heartbeat using the Doppler and right when she found our little one he / she kicked the Doppler. The Dr. actually jumped a bit and I definitely felt the kick!

September 12, 2011

Menu Monday 9/12

I can't believe it's Monday again, can you? The weekend after a 3-day weekend can be so hard confusing. I find myself expecting to have that extra day to relax, but here we are on Monday... We had a fun day yesterday watching the San Francisco 49ers with friends and family for the first day of NFL football. Now, I am not a football fan at all, but I do love making the food for the occasion and hanging with all our friends. Below you'll find 2 of the dishes I made, as well as some things we'll be cooking this week. 




S'mores Stuffed Brownies (Picky Palate) -- I made these yesterday for dessert during the football game. I really liked them! They were beyond chocolatey + chewy!

Quick Creole Shrimp (Kraft) -- I found this "quick" recipe on Kraft's website and I hope the flavors are as good as they promise to be! 

Cobb Salad (Eating Well) -- I've made this healthier version of a Cobb salad before, this time I'll share the details with you and not just the dressing.

Chinese-style Rice Soup with Chicken and Ginger (Food Network) -- This is a new slow-cooker recipe I'm trying out this week on Monday. The prep sounds easy enough and I'm hoping the soup is as good as it sounds / looks too.

Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad (Snappy Gourmet) -- I made this yesterday and it was all gone by the time we cleaned up! I forgot to take pictures of it, so I'll just leave this link for you if you'd like to give it a try for yourself. 


I hope you've had a wonderful Monday!

September 8, 2011

Apple-Butterscotch Brownies

This brownie recipe is from Southern Living's September 2011 issue. When I saw all the apple recipes in this issue I had to make one. This is the first "Fall" recipe I've made this season. I brought them to work on Tuesday and everyone loved them.

Apple-Butterscotch Brownies
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Ingredients 
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)

Directions 
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  2. Stir together brown sugar and next 3 ingredients.
  3. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients; add to brown sugar mixture, and stir until blended. Stir in apples and pecans. Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan; spread in an even layer.
  4. Bake at 350º for 35 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cut into bars.








Tonight I'm making this! I'm so excited I can't wait!

September 5, 2011

Menu Monday 9/5

Happy Monday everyone! We're off work today and I hope you are all able to be off too! Today is off to a great start--we've already been to Starbucks (Pumpkin Lattes are back FYI) and the grocery store to pick up everything we need for this week's menu. I love when Keith is able to come to the store with me. I love the company, the shopping trip flies by when we can work together to grab all we need and it's a relief to have someone to help me carry all the bags up the stairs!

Here is what I have planned for this week:
(clockwise from top left) 

Chopped Salad (inspired by the Cheesecake Factory) -- We like this salad a lot! I have to skip the blue cheese this time--no soft cheeses for Baby Sullivan. I've made this salad before and posted about it here. 

Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches (Food Network) -- A fun and easy way to enjoy a little ice cream after dinner. I'll let you know how mine turn out. I've tried making ice cream sandwiches before, but I've never been too successful...I'm keeping my fingers crossed this time! 

Chicken Tostadas and Avocado Dressing (Cooking Light) -- This recipe caught my eye in the most recent issue of Cooking Light Magazine. I'm excited to try the avocado dressing.  

Savory Garlic Marinated Steaks (All Recipes.com) -- I get a million food related emails a day from various websites and when they don't spark my interest immediately upon opening them I delete right away. This one actually compelled me to save the email, and so here it is on Menu Monday. The reviews online are great by the way.  

Peanut Butter "Cheese Ball" (The Girl Who Ate Everything) -- This idea really knocked my socks off--I just love it and it looks so cool. I'm excited to make it later today to bring to work for the Faculty Room. I hope everyone enjoys it!  

Blackened Shrimp with Pomegranate-Orange Salsa (Cooking Light) -- I made this recipe for the first time back in December and had a little trouble with the jalapenos. I really liked this dish and I will not let my fear of suffering from burns keep me from making it again. This time I will wear gloves!

Hope you've all had a relaxing 3-day weekend. Enjoy the short week ahead!

September 4, 2011

Hilary Turns Thirty

This is a big year for my friends from high school, we are all turning 30 sometime in the next 365 days. Last night we celebrated Hilary's birthday at a bar / club Swig in San Francisco. Hilary is the first of us to turn 30, followed by me, eek! Here are a few photos from the celebration:
The birthday girl Hilary!

Our wonderful friends Allison and Jordan were also celebrating their 6 year wedding anniversary! 

 A few of the girls (Jackie, me, Hilary, Anne and Kathee). We're missing Allison here, she and Jordan had to get home to sweet baby Noah.

We decided to start a tradition for our 30th birthdays by giving a special timeless gift. For Hilary chose something from Tiffany & Co. I think she was pleasantly surprised. 

Miss Hilary with her little blue box. 

The beautiful pearl earrings we hope she'll love forever--and think of how much we love here every time she wears them! 

Who doesn't love birthday cake?

My sister, Kathee and Allison hanging out. 

Hilary and Jackie (who is pregnant with she and her husband's first baby--due in February!)

This is like the only shot I got of Keith all night. We were joking that the tote bag he was carrying for our friend Anne made him look like a fancy pizza delivery guy. My husband is a trooper (and awesome, but that goes without saying), he spent the night hanging out with all the girls and did it with a smile :)

September 3, 2011

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

I don't give Kraft Magazine enough credit. Whenever I read through the recipes in their magazine I always think they seem too simple to be good, but in this case 'simple' turned out to be very good! I made a few changes to the ingredients, basically just substituting the Kraft products they recommend for my preferred brands. Keith shredded the chicken while I put together the rest, so this really only took us less than 5 minutes--how's that for quick?

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad
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Ingredients
1 pkg. (3 oz.) ramen noddle soup mix (I skipped this ingredient)
1 pkg. (14 oz.) coleslaw blend
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
4 green onions, diagonally sliced
1/3 cup Planters Cocktail Peanuts
1/2 Girard's Chinese Chicken Salad dressing
1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter


Directions
  1. Break noddles into small pieces in a large bowl. Add coleslaw blend, chicken, onions, nuts; mix lightly. Discard seasoning packet from soup mix or reserve for another use. 
  2. Beat dressing and peanut butter with a whisk until well blended. Add to salad; toss to coat. 
We had ours with a few egg rolls on the side.

TIP: Add 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce to the dressing mixture before tossing salad.

We really liked this recipe, and not just because it was so easy to throw together--it has great flavor too.