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Our New Pup: Korben

For as long as I can remember, Nolan and I have been dreaming of our first dog. Even in college we looked at Petfinder, longing for a puppy. We are constantly checking local shelters, we attend adoption events, and rarely does a day go by without Nolan sending me adoptable dogs. Well finally this week we took one home.

With 6 weeks left in my summer vacation, and our fence being built this weekend this was the perfect time for a new addition. On Tuesday morning, our local shelter where our families have adopted a few dogs from in the past, put up their pictures of new rescues that had come in over the weekend. When I saw the picture of “Charlie” I knew he was ours. 

I mean COME ON!!! I can’t describe the feeling I had when I saw this guy, but it seriously brought me to tears, as cheesy as that sounds, because I just knew he was the one we had been searching for for so long. No surprise, Nolan felt the same, so we jumped in the car and got to the shelter the second it opened. 24 hrs later we brought him home.

He is a 2 – 2 1/2 year old lab and Carolina Dog mix breed who is house broken and so far great on a leash. He’s 55 lbs, but looks a bit skinny, so he will probably be closer to 60 lbs when healthy. His appetite has been great so far, but he is scared.of.everything. His biggest fear seems to be the main road we live on and the noisy cars which makes me think he was living outside on the streets for quite some time which breaks my heart. His last foster said he loved off leash hiking, and is very easily trained and responds to commands.

We named him Korben after Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element, which we have always thought would be an amazing dog name.

He is definitely overwhelmed by all the travel and change that has taken place over the last few days but he is an absolute LOVE. He whines when he needs to go out, loves to be touched, but we haven’t heard him bark yet. His look is so unique, in that he looks completely different from every angle.

Head on, he almost looks like a pit…

Other times he looks more lab

but other times he is all shephard

I mean look at those ears! 

Either way his handsome guy has made himself right at home and we are in love. 

I am trying very hard not to over stimulate him and just let him decompress for a few days. I can’t wait for him to meet Casey the Dog and to take him on his first hike at Callahan.

 

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Trader Joe’s Multigrain Blend with Chicken and Almonds

I have another amazing 3 ingredient chicken dinner for you all…

1- Chicken breast

Image result for trader joe's multigrain blend with vegetables mix

2. Trader Joe’s Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

3. Sliced almonds

Look if there is one thing I look for in a meal it’s that it’s made from routine ingredients. I know that these might not be routine ingredients for YOU, but …they should be. Everyone should have a freezer full of individually frozen chicken breasts. Yes, packaging takes about 9 minutes after you unload the groceries, but it’s so worth it when you are cooking during the work week. Take the 9 minutes.

There are some ingredients from Trader Joe’s that I will always buy when I go in, and one of them is this multigrain blend. It’s great on the side of a pork tenderloin or grilled chicken, but it also comes in handy as a makeshift stir fry.

Another must buy at TJ’s is their slivered almonds. I use these as a base of homemade trail mix, to top my Chobani, and to throw into dishes to bring them up a level.

To make this meal, cut one boneless skinless chicken breast into small bite sized pieces and cook them in an olive-oil sprayed skillet with salt and pepper (I sometimes throw in a sprinkle of Montreal Spicy Chicken seasoning). At the same time, dump the frozen multigrain blend out on a microwave safe plate and heat for 2 minutes-stir- them heat for another minute. By that time the chicken bits should be cooked all the way through. Add the mix to the chicken, stir, and add in 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. Turn off the heat and serve.

The grains in this mix already have a nutty flavor to them, so the almonds really bring it to the next level. I can’t describe how good this is. On paper- it shouldn’t be great, but it is and also very filling. There isn’t a ton of sauce but it really doesn’t need it. Trust me.

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Cilantro Lime Fish Tacos

So I found another use for that cilantro lime dressing I tried last week! For our 4th of July cookout, one of my friends brought a side called “cowboy caviar” which is essentially a bean salad with peppers, onions, corn, tomatoes and some kick ass spices. It was awesome and I knew I wanted to repurpose the leftovers in some fun way: Cilantro Lime Fish Tacos Even though I could easily have grabbed a spoon and went to town.

If you know me at all, you know how excited I get to use leftovers. I see utilizing leftovers as an episode of Chopped, it’s a challenge and it forces you to be creative in the kitchen. Creativity is usually Nolan’s domain, but with summer vacation in full swing, I have a LOT of time on my hands to Google, and process recipes. ANYWAY, with the help of my Hidden Valley friend, (and some haddock in the freezer) I settled on fish tacos for dinner.

 

I cut up the haddock into bite sized pieces and put them into two piles. One pile got a coating of lime juice and paprika and was seared, while the other pile got breaded and fried in chipotle panko. (hmmm, which pile of fish was for Nolan??? Yes, even his breadcrumbs are spicy.) The fish took about 8 minutes to cook-super simple and that was honestly the only cooking required for this meal. To assemble, I piled the fish with a generous topping of that cowboy caviar, a drizzle of that cilantro lime dressing, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and OMG was it incredible.

Nolan was so impressed with this meal (again, his fish was fried so it has a bit more texture than mine) which is pretty hard to do nowadays. As much as I love to cook, there are some dishes I just love, and we tend to have every 7 days or so, tacos being one of them. Whether it’s a burrito bowl , or chicken tacos we have Mexican food once a week. So this dish was a refreshing contrast to the typical taco kit inspired dinner. It tasted fresh and the flavors just worked so well together with the dressing as a perfect topping! And we used leftovers. WIN.WIN.WIN.

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Garden Update: #2

Well the garden went full Jumanji and I needed to roll the dice and take control of the game.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the tomato plants and the squash had completely gone rogue and destroyed the fence. Like knocked the fence over with it’s girth. And don’t get me started on the cucumbers. Those vines keep trying to choke the other plants to death so every morning I have to go out and clip the vines that have wrapped themselves around the stems of other plants. Every.Morning. They are nuts and I probably won’t plant those next year because they are murderers and way too hard to control.

Yesterday I found myself at where else- Home Depot- at 9am. I bought garden stakes and a garden Velcro to hold the stems of the tomato plants and direct them up instead of out and all over the fucking place.

Garden stakes are just one of the many things I will do differently with my garden next year.

Anyway, I have squash!!!

I am so proud of the zucchini and summer squash that have sprouted this week. I have at least 5 growing, and soooo many flowers waiting to be pollinated. And although I am uncomfortable with the number of bees in my backyard -(Kara, it’s your nightmare!) I cannot wait to harvest my first veggy. -Food nerd- I know.

I now have many little bell peppers sprouting…

…and easily 65 tomatoes of various sizes. (I have 4 cherry tomato plants, and 4 beefsteak plants.)

I’m not gunna lie, I easily spend 45 minutes a day just standing in my backyard staring at this bundle of food growing with a mix of pride and complete surprise. I know I’ve said it before but I cannot stress enough how bad I generally am with living things. If you have been reading since the beginning you might remember the little plant that couldn’t- the time I tried to grow cherry tomatoes from my apartment balcony with the most pathetic of all results.  One tomato?! That’s worse than just dying I think. That plant showed me-“yes, I am completely capable of growing and producing fruit, but you are awful and killed me.” Oh, how far I have come from that tiny balcony. 😀

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Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Last week I was having some family members over for lunch and I wanted to make something really tasty. After looking on Pinterest I got a few ideas and came up with an incredible recipe that was a huge hit. Shrimp+ lime + avocado + red onion + grape tomatoes

(I forgot to photograph the finished product, so I had to snap one of the leftovers a few hrs later which is why it looks a bit soggy)

I made enough for about 5 people to have generous portions. I bought a pound of shrimp which I peeled, covered in olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, and grilled them on skewers. They only take about a minute on each side and you want to be careful not to overcook them or they get really chewy. The grilling gave the shrimp so much flavor, and I highly recommend you do the same if you recreate this. And actually, I grilled these the night before because we already had it on making dinner and I didn’t want to have to turn it on again the next day for just a few small skewers of shrimp. They tasted just as good the next day.

As for the salad mix, I used a bag of spring mixed greens and a bag of romaine lettuce. To the mix I slices up grape tomatoes, dices red onion, and chunks of avocado. I tossed it all with a new dressing I came across which I thought would be perfect to tie all these flavors together. Now I will admit that I am not a huge cilantro fan. I’m not one of those people who think it tastes like soap, but I just don’t love it. On it’s own, it was definitely cilantro, but I added the juice from about 1/4 of a lime which helped balance it out quite a bit.  With the other ingredients and that grilled shrimp this salad was incredible! So much flavor and it was cool and creamy while still feeling very light.

Side note- I bet this dressing mixed with avocado and red onion would make a kick ass guacamole. I’m gunna have to try that!

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