The Weekend Wrap-Up

Yesterday and today were spent getting ready for upcoming trips (to my sister’s, Josh to Georgia x 2, and my upcoming trip to New Orleans next month) as well as some long overdue mending and hemming (for example:  my favorite pair of pants that busted a button when I was pregnant with Rene…over two years ago).  I still have one more pair of pants to hem, but I have to wait until Rene goes to sleep so that Josh can help me mark them.  All this is being done without a sewing machine, so if you see some interesting hems on my clothes when I’m out and about, don’t laugh…please!

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Rene hugging Daisy.  He loves her so much.  We were getting ready to go to the Lowe’s Build and Grow where Rene was going to build a Madagascar 3 Luxury Assault Vehicle.

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Rene again was able to get a better photo of Daisy than I could.

Rene at Lowe’s, dressed in his Build and Grow apron.

If you haven’t taken your little one to Lowe’s for a Build and Grow activity, it is great fun…and free!  They supply the kits and all of the materials, and they give the kids an apron, goggles (which Rene refuses to wear), patches for completion of each activity, and a certificate for the completion of each activity.

The finished product and the proud Rene.

At Lowe’s, they had their trees and berry bushes half off, so we purchased two blueberry bushes (that were larger than our present ones and they have blueberries  still on them) for $10 a bush.  I worked on part of dinner (see below) while the boys worked on planting and watering them.

Daisy “helped” as well (trying to incite drama with the neighbor dog)

I worked on prepping the French fries for Josh to fry.  I’ve recently fallen in love with Nadia G’s prep method for fries.  She soaks hand-cut potatoes in sugar water (1/2 cup sugar per cup of water) that gets rid of the excess starch and gives them a slightly sweet flavor (and helps them to brown).  Last summer, when we were in Ontario, I visited several chip stands after falling in love with properly fried French fries (super crispy and brown on the outside with those lovely little bubbles that potato chips sometimes develop, a smooth almost creamy mashed potato texture on the inside).

We also had tilapia and some of our garden okra fried in a cornmeal/flour dredge (equal portions of each plus Old Bay seasoning) after being dipped in egg.  It wasn’t necessarily the HEALTHIEST meal, but it was delicious.  We served it with green tomato relish (yum!) and my tarter sauce (half a cup of mayo, 2 tablespoons sweet relish, a few dashes of hot sauce, a teaspoon and a half of lemon juice, half a teaspoon dried parsley flakes, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste).

I also worked on a travel necessity/treat for Josh for when he goes to Georgia.  If we are lucky, it will last for both trips.  I will post about it in the next post.

Sunday I again worked on mending and hemming while the boys mowed, edged, and blew the yard.

After that and lunch, we took a drive to help Rene fall asleep (He seems to fall asleep for naptime only in the car anymore).  I had already put out the chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, discovered from Pinterest and courtesy of CassieCraves (which I spent several drooling minutes…okay…hours…perusing after preparing the recipe):  Jalapeno.  Popper.  Stuffed.  Chicken.  Breasts.  Josh, of course, was worried it was going to be too spicy and made me promise that I was going to remove the seeds and the white part that makes them so spicy (I didn’t have gloves, so I covered my hands in two plastic sandwich baggies and got busy).  I had to change my recipe a bit.  I’m going to list the address (I still haven’t figured out how to add a link to where it would hyperlink without listing the link at the top–which in this post would make no sense), but I’m going to list the recipe with my adaptations below.

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

heavily adapted from Cassie Craves (http://cassiecraves.blogspot.com/2009/05/jalapeno-popper-stuffed-chicken.html)

4 chicken breasts (Unfortunately, mine were larger than 6 oz. –much closer to 12 oz. to 16 oz.)–For stuffing, it works better if they are slightly frozen.

8 oz. cream cheese (We used some from the freezer and it worked great!)

1 cup cheddar cheese

4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled

2 jalapenos, seeded, deribbled, and minced finely

2  cups panko bread crumbs seasoned with your favorite seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay, cilantro, what-have-you)

half a centimeter height of oil in a cast iron pan

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cream cheese (mashing it slightly), cheddar cheese, bacon, and jalapenos until blended.  Slice a pocket into each chicken breast opening it wide like a pita (It will resemble a chicken pita).  Stuff the breasts with the cream cheese mixture.  Pour panko bread crumbs (for added crunch) into a shallow baking dish.  Roll the stuffed chicken in the bread crumbs, packing it and pressing it (being sure to coat it completely) the cheese-mixture-filled pouch.

I admit it:  I’m a cast-iron convert.  Cassie Craves’s recipe calls for a specific amount of oil that wouldn’t be enough for the large pan we used.  So, Josh just eyeballed it while I prepped the rest of dinner (peas, tomato slices from the remaining ripe tomato from the garden, and the last of the blueberries).  Brown the breasts on all sides, two at a time, moving the first two to a plate to brown the remaining two.

When all four breasts are brown, invite the first two back to the party and shove the cast iron pan into the oven.  Cook until done (Our huge honking breasts took 40 minutes, during which time the lovely jalapeno aroma will cause more than one family member to resemble Pavlov’s dog…and I don’t mean Daisy, although she looked pretty interested in the goings on in the oven).

Serve with ranch dressing for dipping (like true poppers).  I didn’t eat it with ranch, but Josh and Rene did.  We served Rene half a breast because they were so huge, and he ate all but one bite (He probably would have eaten it all, but Daisy swiped his last bite…grrrr).  Josh ate his breast plus the other half of Rene’s.  I would consider this recipe a success.

I do think, however, that I might try making it in casserole form next time.  I might try cutting up the chicken into nuggets (browning them), placing them in the bottom of the pan, spreading on top the cream cheese mixture, and topping with seasoned panko bread crumbs drizzled with bacon grease, popped in the oven until GBD (golden brown and delicious) and gooey.

After dinner the boys played Rock Band while Daisy was aggrieved that they weren’t letting her watch reality TV.

I’ll leave you with a picture of another Daisy-got-food-and-beverage-spilled-on-her-shot.  Somehow, Josh spilled blue Hawaiian Punch on her earlier.  Poor girl!

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Cheers and Happy Recipe Blog Perusing!

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