Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I made a delicious dinner tonight. It was a combination of a few recipes. I've been craving Cajun Chicken Pasta like what's served at several chain restaurants, but it's always made with heavy cream, which is like dumping a cup of fat into the pot. I made some modifications, and came up with this tasty alternative:

Cajun Chicken Pasta

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 box fettuccine or linguine
2 peppers, any color, cut into thin strips
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, diced or pressed
1 can evaporated skimmed milk
2 tsp or 1 cube chicken bouillon (dissolve cube in a little hot water)
Cajun seasoning
black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a heavy skillet with olive until foamy. Sprinkle Cajun seasoning liberally over chicken. Cook chicken in butter and oil until no longer pink. Remove chicken to a plate. Add vegetables to hot skillet and cook for approx 1 minute, until peppers are crisp-tender. Return chicken to skillet. Add evaporated milk, bouillon, and Parmesan. Cook until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened. This won't take long. Combine chicken and sauce mixture with pasta. Sprinkle with black pepper and additional Cajun seasoning if desired. This made enough for two dinners for my family of three. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Ain't No Quitter

Hello from the Franklin house. My pledge to update more often hasn't worked out so well. Seeing as this is my journal, here's a look into a week in my life right now. Let's look at next week's schedule, shall we?

Sunday: Small group-9:30, Church-10:45, Hanging out with Greg and Carson-afternoon, Studying-evening
Monday-Leave house at 8:00 for 10:00 appt in Caruthersville, work in Caruthersville until 1:00, drive to Cape, stop at office briefly, meet with teachers in Cape at 3:30, see theapy kiddo from 4:15-5:15, drive to Jackson for 6:00 Weight Watchers meeting until 6:30, cook dinner, do homework, sleep
Tuesday-Leave at 7:30 for 9:00 appointment in Poplar Bluff, work in Poplar Bluff until 1:00, drive back to Cape and stop at office briefly, see therapy kiddo from 4:15 to 5:15, grab dinner, go to class from 6:30-9:30, come home, sleep
Wednesday-Answer office phones from 8-4. Rush across campus to teach class from 4:15-7:00, come home, cook dinner, study, bed
Thursday-Work in office 8:00-9:00, drive to Fredericktown for lunch meeting and training, drive back to Cape, see therapy kiddo from 4:15-5:15, go to class from 6:30-9:20, come home, sleep
Friday-Drive to Advance to see therapy kiddo from 9:00-10:00, drive from Advance to Oak Ridge, do practicum hours at Oak Ridge from 12-4, drive home and grab stuff for scrapbooking from 6:30-11:00
Saturday-not yet scheduled, but sure to be a full day of housecleaning, grocery shopping, and general catch-up work

I've been feeling a bit over scheduled lately. I may have even given a fleeting thought to not going to school anymore. However, when I look at the amount of "stuff" I have to do every week and realize that I am actually doing it all and doing most of it pretty well, I start to feel better. I keep reminding myself that I will likely never be taking two night classes and teaching a night class in the same week ever again after this semester, and I start to feel better. I remind myself that when I finish this program, I will be working in a field I find exciting and I'll be helping people in a whole new way, and I start to feel better. I remind myself that week after next is midterm and I'll be halfway through this hellish schedule and I start to feel better. I remind myself that, " I ain't no quitter," and everything is temporary and I start to feel better. I remind myself that Greg and Carson are handling my absence and my crabbiness when it's study time very well, and I start to feel better.

My hope is that a year from now when I'm nearing the end of this program, or possibly finished with it, I am going to feel such a huge sense of accomplishment. I hope that I can look back on this time when I'm feeling overwhelmed in the future and remember that I did all this "stuff" and survived.

Pep talk over. I've got studying to do.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cooking Up a Storm

Actually, that would be cooking after a storm. We decided to stay home today due to the 10 inches of snow that fell yesterday. Southeast Missouri does not deal well with 10 inches of snow. Greg did dig the van out and go to the gas station for iced tea, but otherwise we stayed home...and cooked...and cooked..and cooked some more!

Last night I made a chicken noodle casserole with broccoli and a yummy cheese sauce. Greg made the salad.

This morning Greg made apple cinnamon muffins for breakfast. They turned out very tasty.

For lunch, I made patty melts and skillet fried potatoes. The patty melts turned out great. I even whipped up some garlic mayo to go with them.

Tonight, I made the perfect lasagna and some awesome garlic cheese pizza bread from scratch. The crust turned out great. Here is the recipe.

Here is the lasagna recipe. It takes a lot less prep than most lasagnas and the consistency comes out perfect. Do not boil the noodles ahead of time. I quit boiling noodles several years ago and haven't had lasagna come out soupy since. I also use cream cheese because I always have it on hand and I like the texture better than ricotta or cottage cheese.

Easy Lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles (I use whole wheat)
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 26 oz jar spaghetti or marinara sauce
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 large or 2 small cans mushrooms
1 1/2 cups water

Heat oven to 350. Brown beef. Drain and return to skillet. Add sauce, mushrooms, and water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Mix cream cheese, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella and parmesan cheese in a bowl until smooth. Spray a deep 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of sauce in bottom of pan. Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Add 1/2 of remaining sauce and spread over noodles. Top sauce with cream cheese mixture and spread evenly over sauce. Repeat layers. Top with remaining mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes or until cheese browns. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

The added benefit of all this cooking is that I now have lunches and dinners to take with me to work, especially for those nights when I go straight from work to class. I divide the leftovers into individual portions and store them in the freezer.

Carson played in the snow for a grand total of 30 minutes, spread over two trips outside. You would have thought he had just returned from climbing Mt. Everest when he came back inside. He informed me that he had "winter freeze." This is apparently a condition that can only be cured by drinking hot chocolate and watching Star Wars movies. Luckily, we had both on hand.

I'm looking forward to starting a new small group at church tomorrow morning. Our church is starting a new series called Life's Healing Choices. It's an 8 week study and our pastor will also be delivering a sermon to go along with each week's lesson. We'd love to have you!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snowstorms and Scrapbooks

It is snowing up a storm here in Jackson, MO! Carson came home early from school and Greg came home early from work. We're enjoying a snowy afternoon inside.

I'm recovering from a 24 hour flu virus and have started feeling much better in the last few hours. I came home from work yesterday around 1:00 feeling terrible and had a rough evening. Much better now!

I'm still trying to figure out digital scrapping, but I did manage to make another layout today. There are lots of free kits to download on the internet. Many of the kits are premade pages ready for you to plop pictures into the predesigned layouts. I love the ease of these type of kits, but I'm trying to download lots of individual elements to force myself to figure out how to put them into a page using Photoshop. I have a lot more learning to do, but here is today's creation.

I'm off to watch the Disney World vacation planning DVD that arrived today and to do a little dreaming for our trip. We leave on May 26th!!! Enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My first digital layout

Today I spent most of the afternoon trying to teach myself the basics of digital scrapbooking. I can't say that I have anywhere close to a good understanding of how to scrapbook in Photoshop Elements, but I figured out enough to crop the picture in the layout above and add each individual element in separate layers. I had never used Photoshop until this afternoon, but I think I'm going to have to buy it. I downloaded the trial version today to play around with the program. I found several useful Youtube tutorials, that would have been even more useful if I had some clue as to what they were talking about. I am very computer illiterate if I need to do anything other than type a paper, send an email, or surf the web. This is going to be an adventure!

I love paper scrapbooking and I'm sure I will continue to scrap with paper if I manage to figure out the digital side. I am a little concerned about where I will store all of the scrapbooks I'll accumulate if I continue doing everything with paper. I would also love to be able to share my digital albums with others on the web. We'll see how much progress I make!

I would love to hear from anyone who has gone from paper scrapping to digital. If anyone has hints on using Photoshop elements, that would be great too!

I'm headed into a super busy week, with obligations every night until Friday. It's good to back in a routine. Have a great week!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby Girl, Mickey Mouse, and Education

Things have been eventful since my last post! On January 5, I became an aunt to a sweet new baby girl! Olivia Marie Penny is my first niece. We think she's gorgeous. She'll likely be having some surgery soon.Please keep her in your prayers.

Last week we were invited by Greg's parents on a trip to Disney World in May. We're very excited! Greg's brother, Jim, and our nephew, Andrew will be going too. We'll be there during a Star Wars weekend, which is like winning the lottery for Carson. He's so excited that he can barely talk about anything else. I'm thinking we'll be making a countdown calendar this weekend so he'll stop asking us when we're going every other minute. We all love Disney!

Next week I'll be starting the dreaded semester of taking two night classes, teaching one night class, and completing a practicum. I'm trying to be optimistic about things and tell myself that I'll be so busy that the semester will fly by. I'm looking forward to learning more about applied behavior analysis and getting some hands on experience in my practicum.

I'll be enjoying my last day of freedom tomorrow while Carson is at school. I haven't decided if I want to read all day, scrapbook, watch tv, or a little of all three. I'll be hanging out with my girls tomorrow night for our monthly crop. Can't wait!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, January 02, 2010