Kitchen update

18 05 2008

Here’s another update of our kitchen renovation.  My husband and his father have successfully ripped out the entire kitchen, and now we’re ready to completely remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room, extend the hardwood floors into the pre-existing kitchen area, and start bringing in the new cabinets and countertops. 

Until then, here’s what the kitchen looks like:

The hardwood floors will be stained a dark oak color, that ugly chandelier will be replaced, and this whole space will start looking more like a kitchen in the coming weeks.  I am ridiculously excited and am having a difficult time being patient! 

Oh, and here’s a picture of the dining room as it currently looks, separate from the kitchen:

I’ll keep updating as changes are being made…


Goodbye, old kitchen!

17 05 2008

We are exhausted these days.  EXHAUSTED.  And it’s all because we bought a house and decided that we wanted to do work in the house before moving into it, and then that “work” turned into gutting the kitchen while simultaneously removing wallpaper (a horrendously tedious, annoying task), ripping up carpet, refinishing hardwood floors, painting, and completely digging out the entire yard to make way for new landscaping. 

And this is all very exciting, but I’m tired, and I’ve been too tired to cook all week because I get to work at 7am and then leave around 4pm, squeeze in a quick workout, and then head to the house to dig into whatever needs to be done that day, only to return home at 10pm and crawl into bed.  And then the vicious cycle continues!  But this won’t last much longer, right??

Anyway, some visuals…

Here’s what the kitchen looked like when we closed on the house:

And the other side:

And we decided that the kitchen was too outdated and too small for our taste, so my wonderful husband and father-in-law got to work and started the kitchen demolition.  Do you see that wall that separates the kitchen and the dining room?  It’s already gone!  Do you see the dated parquet floor?  That’s gone, too. 

So… I probably won’t be cooking much lately and instead will post about the kitchen transformation, because that’s cooking related, too, right?  More soon!

Rosemary garlic chicken

7 05 2008

This chicken is not drool-worthy simply by looking at the picture, but let me tell you – it is GOOD.  And did I mention that it’s ridiculously easy?  And really delicious?  And something that you should make very soon? 

Yup – there’s the rosemary garlic chicken with roasted sweet potato slices and slices of cucumber.  I was even too lazy to steam a vegetable or make a salad, so sliced cucumbers it was.  I’ll tell you the recipe, but it will be in my words, because I already packed the cookbook in one of the many boxes ready for the moving truck.  Just dig out your slow cooker, and keep reading…

Here’s the general idea:

Rosemary Garlic Chicken
Healthy Crockery Cooking by Mable Hoffman (or something like that)

DISCLAIMER: This is not the exact directions.  It’s just what I remember doing… (But honestly – this would be tough to mess up.)


1 roasting chicken (4 1/2 – 5 lbs.)


1. Remove the bag of jibblets/organs (what are those called?!) from the inside of the chicken.  Remove excess fat.  I cut off the neck, too.

2. Carefully push your fingers between the skin and the meat.  Stick some rosemary sprigs and peeled garlic cloves underneath the skin.

3. Make a slit in each wing, and push a rosemary spring and garlic clove into each.  Put some rosemary and garlic in the body cavity, too.

4. You’re supposed to tie the legs and wings closely to the breast at this point, but I just stuck it in the slow cooker breast side down, as the recipe suggested.

5. Cook on LOW for 6 or 7 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut into the breast.

6. At this point, the meat will just fall off the bones.  I used tongs to remove the meat and left the rosemary and garlic behind. 

If you want the real recipe, send me an email (go to the Contacts link at the top of the page), and I’ll locate the box that the cookbook is in.  Don’t worry – it’ll be easy to find, because I’m anal and like to label each moving box with exactly what’s in there.  🙂

Lemon garlic shrimp skewers

6 05 2008

This was a super easy meal that’s perfect for a weekday.  There’s not much to say about it, except that I paired the shrimp with brown rice for a healthy meal. 

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Skewers
Cooking Light


2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 to 2 1/2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp (12 to 15 per lb.), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
Lemon wedges


1. In a bowl, mix salt and sugar. Add shrimp and stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 45 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse shrimp well and drain; also rinse and dry bowl.

2. Return shrimp to bowl. Add olive oil, parsley, lemon peel, garlic, and pepper. Mix to coat. Thread shrimp on metal or soaked wooden skewers, running skewer through the body once near the tail and once near the head end of each shrimp so it looks like the letter C.

3. Lay shrimp skewers on an oiled barbecue grill over hot coals or high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook, turning once, until shrimp are bright pink and opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), 5 to 6 minutes total. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over shrimp.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Nutritional information: CALORIES 161(47% from fat); FAT 8.3g (sat 1.2g); PROTEIN 19g; CHOLESTEROL 140mg; SODIUM 259mg; FIBER 0.2g; CARBOHYDRATE 1.6g

Chicken, spinach, and mushroom crepes

5 05 2008

Yesterday I was finally back in the kitchen!  We needed something yummy to fill out bellies since we spent the day doing work at the house.  We ripped up the carpets, removed hundreds of staples from the floor, took out all the tack strips, and started the kithen demo.  I didn’t realize how much fun doing all that would be.  It’s so exciting to see huge improvements after just one day.

Anyway, I digress… Back to the food!  Here’s what I made last night:

Those are chicken, spinach, and mushroom crepes from Cooking Light.  We both thought they were good, and I thought they were very comfort food-ish without all the calories.  I didn’t realize how easy it was to make crepes, but now I’m ready to make breakfast or dessert with them.  They’re so easy!

Overall, the whole recipe was very easy to make, and I’m sure I’ll make these again sometime.

Chicken, spinach, and mushroom crepes
Cooking Light


 Cooking spray
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 Basic Crepes (see following recipe)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers


1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sliced onion and mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until mushrooms release their moisture and darken. Stir in chicken, green onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and spinach.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour to pan; stir with a whisk until blended. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk; cook 5 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Pour milk mixture over chicken mixture; stir to combine.

3. Preheat broiler.

4. Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture in the center of each crepe; fold ends and sides over. Place, seam side down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle crepes evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield – 5 servings (serving size: 2 crepes)

Nutritional Information:

CALORIES 411(30% from fat); FAT 13.8g (sat 6.7g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.4g); PROTEIN 40.1g; CHOLESTEROL 164mg; CALCIUM 308mg; SODIUM 719mg; FIBER 3.7g; IRON 3.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.9g

Cynthia Nims , Cooking Light, JUNE 2006

May 4 – May 9

4 05 2008

I haven’t been cooking lately, because we’ve been really busy with the house closing and a few sticky events leading up to the closing.  Everything worked out fine, and now we’re the proud owners of our first home.  And now that things have quieted down slightly*, I’m ready to cook! 

*Things have not quieted down.  Things are busier than ever, but I want/need/am craving the relaxation that comes along with cooking.  So even though we’re busy packing, making home improvements, and working, our bellies will be filled with some healthy home cooked meals. 

Here’s the plan for the week:

Sunday – chicken, spinach, and mushroom crepes
Monday – lemon garlic shrimp skewers
Tuesday – rosemary garlic chicken and roasted potatoes
Wednesday – macaroni and cheese (a great lower calorie recipe)
Thursday – tilapia parmesan
Friday – leftovers