Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Beans & Potatoes

Last night was another Pinterest recipe kind of night. I went over to Jeff's house, and made us this yummy meal! It was super easy, didn't include many ingredients, and tasted pretty good. (I will make changes next time, so look for those tips/suggestions at the end of the post...) So, HERE is the link to the original recipe from Real Simple, and I'm also going to lay it all on here too...

Picture via the Real Simple recipe link

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Lemon (1/2 sliced, 1/2 for juicing) {Recipe said 2, and that's what I used, but it was a bit too much}
Head of garlic (3 cloves diced, others whole)
6 tbsp. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Small onion, chopped (wasn't in recipe, but I added it in there)
Green beans (I used canned, but fresh would have been better)
Red potatoes (Quartered)
Salt and Pepper (S&P)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Coat baking dish with 1 tbsp. of EVOO.
Line bottom of dish with sliced lemons
Throw in a couple whole cloves of garlic
Combine: 5 tbsp. EVOO, 3 diced garlic cloves, lemon juice, and S&P
Add beans to oil mixture to coat, remove with tongs or slotted spoon and place over sliced lemons
Add potatoes to oil mixture to coat, remove with tongs or slotted spoon (I just grabbed with my hand)
Line outside rim of dish with potatoes, leaving center open for chicken
Throw in chopped onions
Add chicken to oil mixture to coat, place over beans
(Our chicken breasts were very thick, so we cut a long slit in the top of each of them, in order to cook better)
Pour any remaining oil mixture into the dish, and squeeze more lemon juice on top
Bake entire dish for 45-50 minutes

OK - here's the deal with this recipe... Then beans and potatoes ended up soaking up most of the lemon flavor, and I thought the veggies were really yummy. (Jeff said they were "too lemon-y.") The chicken however remained a little bit too bland. We both used extra S&P after serving, and that helped a bit, but the chicken could still have used a bit more of something. 

Turns out other people thought so too, because when I went back and read the reviews this morning, that's pretty much what everyone had said. Too bad I didn't read them beforehand so I could have corrected the problem before I even knew there would be one! Oh well, I will definitely make some of these improvements next time. It was super easy to make, and tasty enough, so I'm sure I will make it again. I will just kick it up a notch in the future!

Easiest tip would be just sprinkle the whole dish with extra seasoning, i.e. oregano, basil, or an Italian blend
Marinate the chicken in oil mixture - I would have cut tiny slits in the chicken before marinating so it could absorb
Add some lemon pepper seasoning on top of the chicken
Spice it up a bit with some red pepper flakes on top of the chicken
Use a mix of dried thyme, rosemary and basil to add in the oil mixture

Basically - just use less lemon, and more herbs and spices, and I think that should do it!

Again, overall it was a good meal, and soo easy to make. It just needs a little bit of extra jazzing-up from the original recipe, and it would be a knockout one-pan-meal! Let me know if you try this, or what you might add to the dish to make it your own! I would love some extra suggestions for my next attempt :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Progress Report

Yesterday marked three months left until my 25th birthday in January, so I just wanted to write a quick update post about my Pledge of 25 Before 25... So here's a quick Progress Report on where I stand with some of the goals in my list of things to accomplish before I turn a quarter of a century old...

Here's some of my biggest news so far, last night while I was sleeping, my little bloggy-blog reached 10,000 views!!! When I decided on a goal of 10,000, I was then at 5,728. Guys -- that means I've gotten a little over 4,000 views in just three months! That is crazy and amazing and exciting and also humbling. It's so great to know that what I write, and do, and photograph is actually being read and looked at by my lovely friends, family, followers and everyone else in between. And to know that the amount of time and work I put into this, is actually worth it!  It's just so exciting! So thank you :)

I can almost completely cross that goal off now (10,000 views and 200 posts), but just not quite yet. I have 206 posts total, but some of them are still in draft form, and so it doesn't count until I have 200 published posts. This one is #195, so it will happen very soon!

Other things...
-- 10 state parks -- I have visited three, so I better get a move on!
-- 3 towns nearby -- we explored Thomasville a little bit, so that's only one new city so far
-- 6 new restaurants/food trucks -- I have tried 3 new ones, so I'm doing good with that goal
-- 6 books -- I have read two so far, and am currently reading a third. Decent progress :)
-- 10 nail art designs -- I have done 7 different ones, so I'm on a roll with this goal!
-- 200 miles on my bike -- at this point, I've only ridden about 54, so I've definitely got a lot more miles to go
-- Date night each month -- we're 3 for 3 at this point, so we're good!
-- I kind of started learning guitar, but decided my hand is too small so I'd try the ukulele instead :)
-- We just finished up the first session of Bible study with the youth last Sunday night, so that one's crossed off!
-- I've memorized three new scriptures, so that's going pretty well too so far.
-- I've made at least six or seven recipes from Pinterest, and I'll be making another one tonight

All-in-all, I think I'm doing a pretty decent job at accomplishing these 25 goals! Obviously I still have quite a bit to do, but I've still got three months, and I'm a pretty determined girl, so I'm not too worried about it :) I'm so glad I decided to create this list of goals, and I'm even more excited I've been really working towards it for the last three months. I look forward to being able to do another Progress Report once I accomplish a few more things as well! (For example: upcoming camping trip and planning the16-mile bike ride...) Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Panhandle to South Florida

This weekend I went to Tampa with my amazing girlfriends, and obviously we had an awesome time!! I took the day off work on Friday, and started out the day at breakfast with Jeff. Then I went home, finished packing, and my friend Nicole (who lives in Pensacola) picked me up around 10:45 on her way through town. We got down to Tampa around 3:30, and were so excited to see our other friends who came from St. Augustine! Our friend Kaley is from Tampa, and so her parents were great host's and welcomed us into their house for the weekend! We did however miss our good friend Jenni, but we're glad her cardboard version was able to join us instead...

Then Friday night, we went to a Rascal Flatts concert!!! Which was amazing. They had three opening bands, and those were really good too. Here's a quick synopsis of the opener's: Eden's Edge sounds really good live; the Eli Young Band was a little boring live; and Little Big Town was so much fun and I had no idea how much I really liked them and their stuff, until this concert! But they were so great, and I really want their albums now. And then of course Rascal Flatts was amazing as well! We just wished they would have performed longer and sang more songs! It felt like it ended too early!

Eli Young Band - in case you didn't notice that...

Little Big Town

Rascal Flatts

Saturday morning we lazily slept in, and Kaley's parents made us a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast. Yummy. After multiple cups of coffee, we all started slowly showering and getting ready. We watched a bit of TV, made some sammies for lunch, and then we headed down to the Hyde Park Art Festival to walk around and admire the expensive pretty things. We also went to a Francesca's and an Anthropologie, and I bought some presents for some upcoming occasions :)

Sorry for the blurriness of some of the photos - they were texted back and forth from other phones...

Little Werther's booth at the art festival that took and immediately printed out the pictures :)

After that, we just went back home to chill and hang out the rest of the night. We enjoyed spending time on the back porch and just sitting and talking in the nice weather. We eventually played a couple of card games and then Chef Jim (Kaley's sweet dad) made us a super yummy spaghetti dinner. The six of us girls all sat around the candle-lit table with her dad Jim and her step-mom Cathy, and had such a good meal, and told lots of fun and funny stories. Then we played some more card games, told a ton more stories with each other, stayed up until 3 a.m. just chatting, and had such a good time just being together! 

Sunday morning Chef Jim made us whole wheat pancakes, and we watched some ridiculous TV show called "Bridezillas." Whoa baby - that mess is crazy. Nicole and I left around 11 a.m. to make our way back up to the Panhandle. We talked so much on our ride home, we barely even noticed the 4 1/2 hour drive back to Tallahassee! We did however notice the drop in temperature each time we got out of the car on the way back, and were loving the cooler weather! 

All-in-all, it was a very easy-going, relaxing weekend, which was just what most of us needed/wanted. We always have sooo much fun together, laughing and playing games and telling stories, and just being ourselves. Can't wait until November 16th, when we all congregate again in St. Augustine, for Night's of Light's!! Love you girls :)

I hope everyone of y'all had a great weekend as well! Good luck today on this slow-moving Monday... At least the weather is nice here in Florida today!

{Also, at time of posting this, I have 9,898 views. That means, I will most likely reach my goal of 10,000 views (before my birthday in January) today, or tomorrow at the latest!!!!}

Friday, October 26, 2012

Patch of Pumpkins

Last Friday night, Jeff and I went to the pumpkin patch for a quick date night activity before supper time. We didn't go last year for some silly reason, so I'm glad we got to go together this year! We planned it so we were there right around dusk/sunset, and it was so pretty then! Glad we worked it out that way :) Lots of pretty colors, and sun beams streaming through creating all sorts of loveliness and a bit of a fairy-tale setting almost. Oh, and Florida graced us with some nice weather, and it actually felt great outside too!

Pumpkin Patch dates are fun, aren't they?! :) Now maybe next week, we'll do some punkin' carvin'! Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pom-Pom Days

For some reason the other day, I ended up spending some time taking a walk down memory lane looking through some old pictures on my laptop. I decided I wanted to share some of course, so they'll come in waves over the next couple of weeks or so, grouped by activities, events or categories! 

This first one is some of my old cheerleading pictures! I didn't have my own digital camera then, so a lot of them were taken with crappy disposable cameras, or from my mom's digital that was on loan to me occasionally. So please just overlook the quality of some of them, and simply enjoy some pictures from my younger years!

And for a time reference -- most of these are from the fall semester of my senior year of high school, which was in 2005! Then there are a few from competition, which happened January 2006.

2005-2006 Varsity Cheerleading Squad

Me and my friend Crystal, with two of our friends from another school, Sarah and Allison.

Senior cheerleaders at our first game of our senior year.

Senior year National Competition - 2006

Senior year National Competition - 2006

Senior cheerleaders after our last competition ever.

Senior year National Competition - 2006

The boys and boyfriends that came down to Orlando to see us at competition.

Senior year National Competition - 2006

Senior year National Competition - 2006

Senior cheerleaders with the coaches after our last competition.