A Life Changing Lesson

I’m taking a big risk with this blog post. I’m going to be real honest and it might make you think less of me. Alternatively, it could be a life changing post for you all…so we’re all friends here and I’m going to give it a shot. Here it goes…{I’m so nervous}…

I still use a George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. There….I said it.

I realize that this “machine” –here on known as GFLMGM– is best suited being used by college students who don’t have a stove top or real grill in their tiny apartments or dorm rooms. Or maybe a single guy who lives in his grandma’s basement? I know I got my GFLMGM (first one) as a high school graduation gift, like many of my peers. At that time, it was a pretty standard graduation gift. However, I’m pretty sure most people throw their nasty, old crusty meat crumbs covered GFMGM’s away with the empty booze bottles from the top of their kitchens when they’re moving out after graduating college (apparently showing off how much booze you drank the last four years isn’t acceptable once you find a 9-5). But seriously, on that topic—how many of you moved all those bottles from apt to apt throughout college? I know I did. And you were REALLY cool if you filled them with liquid and made it so they’d light up in the glow of a sweet black light (obvs I was never THAT cool—no idea how they did that)  Ahhh, moment of silence for the college days that have long passed us by….

george foreman grillblacklightkatie nattyAlright–back to reality….

I was that person {i.e nerd} who put that crust covered GFLMGM in the sink to clean it up (which us unadvised in the instruction manual), boxed it up, and moved it to my first and second apartments in Des Moines, all the way to Ohio, and then back to Iowa. Every time I used it (weekly) I’d curse and moan when it was time to clean up. I’d worry I might get shocked (even though it was NOT plugged in whilest washing) or electrocuted, or worse, break my beloved GFLMGM! The horror!

I’m going to go as far as to admit that when it came time to register for wedding gifts, we I decided to register for a new GFLMGM. One that, by golly, I could take the grills OFF and either wash them much easier by hand or (better yet) put in the dishwasher like real grown-ups do! I had seen them evolve in late night infomercials and I was ready to grow up with an upgrade! When I opened up my new GFLMGM…I was SO excited. Ohhh I could use it like EVERY NIGHT now that my grills were removable and it would be so easy to clean!

Low and behold, I had registered for the wrong one. For some reason, I never exchanged it, and I just continued through life using the new GMLMGM and worried it might be the cause of my death when cleaning it.

UNTIL NOW!!!!! THANK THE LORD FOR PINTEREST AND THE COOKING CLUB BLOG BECAUSE I NOW KNOW I HAVE BEEN CLEANING IT WRONG ALL THESE YEARS! And for all you other GFLMGM users {I know there HAVE to be others of you out there—there have been like millions of these puppies sold}, I give you…

…The life changing [for me} revolution:

Grill to your heart’s desire using your GFLMGM. Make chicken for salads, slightly tough steak for your spouse and kids, or even your own version of “shrimp on the barby”. After you’re finished, unplug the GFLMGM.

Dirty George Foreman Grill

Take two sheets of paper towel and fold back to back so they are two layers of thickness. Get the paper towels wet by running under the sink, and squeeze off extra moisture. Obvs you need to use some degree of quality paper towels. Walmart brand probably isn’t going to cut it here. (I swear by Bounty)

Put the paper towel on the grills (again, it should be UNPLUGGED) and close the lid. It will make all kinds of hisses and steam will come pouring out. THIS IS OKAY AND NORMAL. THE HEAT AND STEAM JUST MEAN IT IS WORKING!

Cleaning George Foreman Grill

Let it sit for at least a half hour. Basically until it has cooled enough so you can touch the paper towel and grill. Once it’s cooled, open the lid and use the same paper towel (it should be nasty looking and damp) to wipe down both the top and bottom grill. It comes off like magic and wipes {easily} as good as new. No scrubbing, no cursing, just easy-peasy and CLEAN. TA-DAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

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Okay, so now that I’ve shared this secret with you….tell me….do YOU still use your GFLMGM?! Because I’ve never seen it sitting out on any of my friends’ counters (maybe you have a lot of cupboard space and hide yours?) Or am I REALLY an idiot for A) still using mine or B) not knowing this little trick until now. Perhaps this is even the recommended way of cleaning—but let’s just say it has made my life a LOT easier!!! Happy cleaning, friends!!!

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Lose the Left Overs!

One of my New Years Resolutions for 2013 was to be less wasteful with food to help manage my grocery budget. I’m becoming a huge fan of throwing left overs from the fridge and pantry together in different combinations–and hoping it turns out edible. Tonight, I think I scored a home run with Chicken Chowder with Avacado–a take on Chicken and Rice which I based off a recipe from ClubFit. {Surprise} I of course found this awesome fitness site on Pinterest.

Earlier this week I grilled chicken on my George Foreman Grill to make Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes (more to come on these–freakin’ DELISH). The left over chicken was sitting in the fridge along with tons of veggies I had bought for the week, without a real recipe I was planning on using them for. In my pantry I had a couple of cans of cream of mushroom from the time I accidentally bought them instead of cream of chicken I really needed [and had to had back to the store to get…] The only thing I didn’t have in the pantry was a box of wild rice, so I stopped at the grocery store on my way home for that.

First step was to prepare the rice according to the package. Then I chopped up all the veggies I could find that I thought would go together. I used mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, corn, and a tiny bit of peas and green beans that had been in a pack of frozen mixed veggies. I sauteed those and set them aside.

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Next, I put the cooked chicken breast in the pan with some chopped garlic just to brown the sides and get it nice and hot. I squeezed some lemon juice in for flavor and added a bunch of fresh cracked pepper. Then I tossed in a big handful of spinach. {Side note: I love how you can put spinach in just about anything and even though it’s great for you, you don’t notice it once it’s all cooked in!}

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Once the rice was cooked, I added a can of cream of mushroom soup and a cup of skim milk to make a soup-like mixture. I heated that through, and then mixed everything together.

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That was it! I scooped it into bowls and topped with avacado and cilantro. It turned out awesome! I can’t wait to have the left over left overs in their new combination!

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Chicken Chowder with Avacado

2 cooked chicken breasts, cut in strips

1 package wild and long grain rice (I used Rice A Roni brand)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 bag frozen vegetables (any variety) or mixture of fresh vegetables

1 handful fresh spinach

1 avacado

Cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare rice according to the package. While the rice is cooking, prepare vegetables and cut chicken breast. If using frozen veggies, cook according to the package. If using fresh veggies, saute in a pan and set aside. In a new saute pan, heat up chicken with garlic and lemon juice, and season with pepper. Add in spinach and saute.

Once the rice is cooked, add cream of mushroom soup and milk to make a creamy sauce. Mix together and heat through. Add chicken and vegetables and stir.

Serve in a bowl and top with avacado and cilantro.

Enjoy!!

I have to say I’ve been a Pinterest-inspired cooking maniac lately, and have more planned for later this week. Stay tuned for more of my favorites!

Target….{& the trouble with saying No}

Ahhh, Target. One of my favorite places! My mom and dad were nice enough to send me a Target gift card in a Valentine this week….and as those things do, it was burning a major hole in my pocket. Sunday is grocery day, so I decided to be responsible and use the gift card to get everything I needed for this week’s meals. (Pinterest recipe reviews coming later this week!) After an hour of shopping around and finding everything I needed {plus a little more}, I was ready to head to the checkout. Sunday night=packed house at Target, so I had to wait in line for a bit before it was finally my time to check out. <Side note: LUCKILY the photos of Princess Kate’s baby bump were on the cover of one of the magazines in the checkout aisle, so I had plenty to keep me busy and not too annoyed.> BUT FINALLY it was my turn, and the little old lady went to work getting me all rung up. She of course asked if I’d heard about their Target Rewards REDcard {yes}, and would I like to get signed up to save 5% {no}.

That’s when the trouble really started. This lady had CLEARLY been taught not to take no for an answer, and I was NOT going to stand between her and the goal. Was I SURE I didn’t want to sign up? {no} But I could save 5% and help local schools. {no}. I didn’t want to help local schools? I don’t have kids, so again, {no}.  Did I remember how it worked? Not a credit card, links to my debit card, and did she mention it saves 5% every time, starting tonight??? Finally, I couldn’t take it. FINE. Fine. I would sign up for the stupid REDcard. With my (metaphorical) tail between my legs, I followed her commands, got signed up, and was ready to save my stupid 5%. I handed her my gift card to pay, and her face said it all.

Ohhh, did I HAVE to use the gift card tonight? Um, yes–that was the only reason I came to Target for my groceries tonight. Ooooohhh, she said. So for some reason I couldn’t use my gift card AND use my new REDcard at once, but there was something the grandma could do to get it to work. She suspended the transaction [or something] as the people started lining up behind me [wondering WTF was taking so long] and magically tried to pull it back up, causing the register to crash. She made us move to the next aisle over. Again, crash. Again, lets move over an aisle. I felt like I was being “Punked” and Betty White was about to show up laughing at me like I was a raging young idiot. This lady was “Off Her Rocker”.  But finally she called the manager over to help, and the manager said she thought we would need to just re-ring up my items, which were already bagged and in my cart. So there I went. Unbagging while she rang everything through again….as I was apologizing to the people who were behind me, giving me a major stink eye….and so embarrassed that I couldn’t tell this old lady no to begin with which would have avoided this whole thing. All in all, I was in the Target line for at least 30 mins. UGH!

She finished ringing things back through, I got to use my gift card, and did get my 5% discount. My new Target rewards REDcard will be here in 2-3 weeks, but it may take a little longer for my pride to come back. And the worst part was….after all that….

I saved a grand total of $2.74….

Am I the only one who has trouble saying no to store rewards cards???

The Best and Worst of Pinterest Recipes

Like every other woman in America, I am in love {obsessed} with Pinterest. I definitely think it is a good thing that the addictive site was not around when I was planning my wedding. I mean, I would have been so indecisive and utterly obsessed with trying to recreate Pinterest weddings, G and my parents might have cancelled the whole thing. Plus I think Kelly at Bella Flora did an amazing job, even without Pinterest, don’t you? <Lets look back>

Pink Wedding Reception Table

Wedding Reception Tables

Ahhhh, if only we could go back to that day!

BUT since I don’t use Pinterest for planning a wedding, I pretty much spend my time between recipes and DIY crafts. And I want to share with you the BEST recipe and WORST recipe I’ve encountered so far.

First–the BEST. For Lent I decided to give up red meat, so I have been pouring through chicken and fish recipes to find deliciousness to make for meals. BY FAR THE BEST RECIPE I’ve tried has been Jalapeno Popper Chicken. Oh my gosh it is amazing. G even said it is in his top 10 of favorite meals ever made. That’s a direct quote. It basically tastes like a jalapeno popper, but the chicken part makes you feel like you’re eating healthy–not some fried appetizer {plus it’s not fried!–but I can’t promise it’s healthy} Cheesy, creamy, and a little crunchy from the toasted Panko crumbs. AND EASY! I can’t wait to make it again. The best part is it REALLY DOES look and taste as amazing as this picture.

*photo from http://jujugoodnews.com/jalapeno-popper-chicken/ -- it is not my own*

*Photo from http://jujugoodnews.com/jalapeno-popper-chicken/ — it is not my own*

And the worst. The worst recipe I’ve ever made from Pinterest was “Easy and Yummy Candied Popcorn.” Lets just go ahead and say not only did it not turn out looking ANYTHING remotely like recipe, it also tasted horrible. I very may well have messed something up with the recipe to make it turn out so bad, but for something that has “Easy” and “Yummy” in the title….it was neither of those. I wish I would have taken a picture so I could show you exactly how bad it turned out. It was soggy, sticky, and the popcorn basically melted when I poured the candied part on there. SICK. I thought perhaps it would get better as I let it dry, but that didn’t help either. My recommendation is to stay far away from this one. Any suggestions about where I might have gone wrong? I’m scared to try again….

So those are my best and worst Pinterest recipes of the moment. What are your favorite Pinterest recipes? Do you have any amazing “red meat-less” recipes that you can share to help get me through Lent without having to eat tuna and noodles or mac and cheese every day?

The Start of the New Blog!

Introductions are so lame. So here’s the summary–The wedding is over, we bought a house (Our Ivory Tower)…..it’s official….I’m a grown up. Ugh! Since G and I FINALLY have a weekend with no major plans and we’re staying in town, I made it my Friday night project to start my new blog which I have been wanting to do for awhile now. With a little Shiraz to get the creative juices flowing–here we go!

I’m watching 20/20 tonight and doing a million loads of laundry {don’t be jealous of my glam life}–which has dedicated a whole hour to telling the horrors of cruises. I have to admit took two wonderful cruises with my family when I was younger. The first one was delayed however, because the week before our cruise was scheduled to leave a fire broke out on our ship–thank God we weren’t on that one! This was my first sign that cruises are a bad idea. We ignored that warning went on the cruise anyway a few months later. But we had a great time! Nothing bad happened. Several years later, my mom and sister and I went on another cruise and again had a great time (where nothing real bad happened besides a couple of horrid hangovers). I know that most cruises go off without any issues, but I do not want to risk it ever again after hearing about the latest nightmare (i.e. feces on the wall?? onion sandwiches???  No thanks). So, thanks ABC 20/20 for that little reminder and reinforcement. Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences on a cruise? Do you think they’re getting unfair raps for a couple random terrible mishaps?