December 17, 2021

Avocado Chicken Salad

In the last few years I have really grown to love the holiday season. Yea yea - I'm a horrible person for not always loving it, but my husband makes everything about the holidays seem magical! He acts like a little boy when the Christmas tree goes up and shakes gifts to try to guess what's in them and tells stories of all his favorite gifts over the years - it's adorable!

Christmas is a week away (gulp!) the gifts are wrapped, and all placed under the tree. We are making plans for the day of to make sure we both get to see our family and trying to decide how we are going to spend our time off! Holidazzle, Macy's 13th floor santaland, sledding, ELF at the ordway, etc. 

This past weekend my bookclub had our annual Christmas gift exchange. There were hilarious gifts all around (see below) BEST MUG EVER! Thanks again Nicole!! This was the first year where there wasn't a lot of stealing gifts out from under other people - we were all really happy with what we got!

Saturday night our neighbors had a Christmas party too - and I got to bust out my tacky Christmas sweater from college - YES! Bonus, we played a new game that Mike and I must order for everyone we know!  More on that later!

I suppose you want to know about this recipe, huh? That might be why you're here. This is a chicken salad I have made a few times over the years - it's usually served stuffed inside the avocados. The truth is - that is complicated, and not easy to serve or eat. So, I "degrade" the chicken salad and place it on top of the sliced avocados.

*Recipe adapted from Emeril
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoon chives, minced
1lb. chicken, cooked and cubed
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In order to cook the chicken for this dish I place the chicken in a medium pot, cover it with water, salt the water and add about 3 bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil at medium heat and continue to boil for about 10 minutes. This is the easiest way to cook the chicken without getting a crunchy outside on the chicken. Set aside.
  2. Cut up your remaining ingredients. Then zest an orange using a micro plane. Once the chicken is cooled, cut it into cubes.
  3. Mix all of the ingredients together and place on top of the sliced avocados.

BTW - Am I the only one watching Christmas movies endlessly?? I just can't.stop.watching. They are cheesy and some are hilariously bad, but they are just so addicting. Thank you Lifetime!

December 12, 2021

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

Another year... another cookie swap!
I absolutely love that Lindsay and Julie put this together last year on a whim, without planning on it being such a huge success! This year, they had a pretty good idea it would be even bigger - not to mention better, so they added a charity component to it - which, personally, I think is fantastic. Then they even got oxo to match the donations all the participants gave - seriously, how cool is that!? If you want to donate or just learn more about cookies for kids cancer you can do so here.
Last year I made Monster Cookies - they are one of my favorites, but they are a soft cookie and they fell apart when they were shipped. So, I did some reading on how everyone else sent their cookies and this year I got a bit smarter.
I made Martha Stewart's cookies this time around and I over cooked them by about a minute to make them a bit crunchier - in hopes that they would hold up during shipment better! However, that did also mean that I liked them a little less - Until I discovered how good they were when dipped in my coffee! 
I sent cookies to Table for Two, Bake Your Day and Healthy Wifestyles - did I mention that I totally spaced and forgot to put the cookie title and recipe in the boxes I shipped off!? Sorry Ladies!
I received cookies from Cookie District that we STUNNING, Girly Obsessions that were adorably wrapped up - I'm taking notes for next year and another dozen from Making Life Sweet that were fantastic! Thank you all SO much ladies!
The cookies I made have lemon zest in them and it just gives them that added umph that takes them from good to great.
*Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookie's Cookbook
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup of butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Turbino Sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients in a mixer until just combine
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dollup the dough onto the cookie sheet, sprinkle with the turbino sugar
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes
Thanks again to our lovely organizers - Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen :)

December 10, 2021

Kung Pao Chicken

All I wanted to do this past weekend was cook and bake and watch trashy tv in my pajamas! Oh and did I mention that I just wanted to avoid the laundry pile? It didn't exactly work out that way, but I did get a lot of cooking and baking done, which always makes me happy!

My pants are still a bit snug from the Mixed Conference the weekend before, which of course means I attended a cookie exchange, and baked a solid two dozen other cookies when I got home the next day. You know, this food blogger thing is just trouble. Thank God I can afford a gym membership!

We finally got snow here in Minnesota! And for once the weather people got it right - they said 6-9 inches and I woke up and we were already at about 4 inches on Sunday morning. Which I loved because I had absolutely no where else to be! It finally looks like Christmas, so I have officially busted out the Christmas mug! Snow actually makes for great light in our kitchen, so I was super excited with the way the photos turned out for this dish!

This recipe isn't new to the blog, it was passed along by my MIL and it's a favorite that we come back to time and time again. My husband loves meals like this, it's saucey, served over rice and it heats up really well as leftovers. The recipe has three phases, so I broke up the ingredients list accordingly.

Ingredients in the chicken:
1 lb. chicken, cubed
1 tablespoon dry sherry - sherry cooking wine will do the trick
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Ingredients in the sauce:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
Tabasco - to taste, we use just a few dashes

Ingredients in the dish:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ginger root, grated
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
White rice, for serving
  1. Cut the chicken into cubes and place in a small bowl, add the sherry and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Stir together and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, vinegar and the tobasco, set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, pour the vegetable oil and heat at medium low for a couple of minutes. Then add the ginger root and garlic. Cook for about a minute. Then add the chicken and cook together until there is no pink remaining on the chicken. Whisk together the sauce ingredients again and pour them into the skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the green onions and peanuts. Stir together and serve over white rice.
**Mike prefers this dish extra saucey, so I double the sauce, but only use the 4 teaspoons cornstarch. Make it yours!


December 4, 2021

Mixed Conference: I Carried A Watermelon

I grew up watching Dirty Dancing on repeat. You could play a song from the movie and I could tell you what was happening and what "Johnny" was doing at that moment in the movie. So, when I heard about MixedCon I was sold based on location alone. A chance to stay at the resort that the movie was filmed at? I'll take it! Add to that an awesome set of speakers, 100 bloggers I'm dying to meet in person and snacks available all day long at every moment and I'm in heaven.

 {This is me carrying a watermelon - yepp, I'm a nerd.}
We were overwhelmed with swag from the amazing sponsors including: Oxo, Kitchenaid, Dixie Crystals, Hershey’s, Attune Foods, Way Better Snacks, Lucky Leaf, Dreamfields Pasta, Roland Foods, Cameron Hughes Wine, Creminelli, Anderson Seafood, Stonyfield, Le Creuset, Smith's Edgeware, Dreamfarm, Wisconsin Cheese, Real Butter - thanks to each and every one of you! Let me just tell you that my pants are just a smidge tight from the constant eating. So worth it.

The sessions were led by the very talented foodies - Bree of Baked Bree, Tami of Running with Tweezers, Laudalino and Denise of Chez Us, and Heidi Larsen of Foodie Crush. I loved them all.

On top of that there were two hands on workshops with Marian Poirier of Sweetopia for cookie decorating - seriously, her cookies are the best. Then, there was cake decorating with Duff Goldman - let me just tell you that my cake was beyond terrible!
Side notes: 
I love that Kita of Pass the Sushi can't take a serious photo, she makes me happy.
Two new favorite foodies - Katie of Hungry Hungry Camera and Christy of My Invisible Crown.
Shout out to the Minneapolis foodies I finally got to meet in person - Angela of Angela's Kitchen and Monique of Ambitious Kitchen

None of it would have been possible without our lovely organizers - thank you ladies - bell’alimento and Doughmestic you girls sure know how to throw a party!