Friday, November 18, 2011

rylie's senior shoot

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You can check out more from her senior shoot here.  Pretty, pretty girl.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

how tomatillos changed my life {with recipes}

I didn't really know what a tomatillo was until a couple of years ago.  This also means I had no idea that salsa verde, what I typically go for in a salsa bar, is made out of them.  I guess I just assumed they used green tomatoes or something, no idea, but tomatillo was not part of my vocabulary then.  Shame, because it's quite fun to say. 

Now I not only know what they are, but I planted some in the garden this summer. Growing tomatillos was a bit of an adventure.  I had no idea what to expect. The plants are these spidery things, nothing like a tomato plant.  They produce these darling little yellow flowers, which I thought would quickly turn into fruit.  They didn't.  It took months before I spotted any fruit growing, and when I did, the actual fruit wasn't large enough inside its skin for several weeks.  But by September, there were lots of fruit on each plant. Not quite summer anymore, but I was happy.

If you've never had a tomatillo, you really should.  They are my favorite salsa ingredient.  They are sweet and sour and crisp, sort of like an apple and a tomato made a baby.  It's really a beautiful thing.

I did some salsa research.  My brother-in-law served a mission for the LDS church in Mexico, so I asked him how salsa verde is made down there.  It's simple really: tomatillos, garlic, salt, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. They make theirs using one of those cool stone bowls you mush everything into {no idea what that is called}, but I use a blender. So here is my super simple recipe. Keep in mind most of the ingredients are by taste, so adjust as needed. 

Salsa Verde Ingredients
* 10 tomatillos cut into chunks
* 1 large garlic clove {mince it if your blender's lame}
* 1 handful of cilantro
* 1-2 tsp. of salt {or to taste}
* juice of 2 limes
* jalapeno pepper to taste {whole pepper if you like to torture the tastebuds by burning them right off, or  half a pepper for a milder flavor, your choice}

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  It should look like this when you're done and will keep for about a week in the fridge.

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So I love this stuff with chips, but one of my favorite things to do is to season taco meat with it.  I think this recipe is fairly well-known, but I'll still share.  My sister Natalie, who has surprised us all with her wicked ways in the kitchen {marriage brings out the best in us I think} was the first to tell me about this recipe.  To feed my family of four and have some leftovers, I use the following:

* 3 chicken breasts {they can even be frozen, score!}
* salsa verde {enough to cover the chicken, or a jar full if you're not using the fresh stuff}

Put your chicken {again, it can be frozen} into a crock pot, pour your salsa over it, and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.  When your chicken is done cooking, take a fork and shred it.  This is your super delish taco meat.  Now how easy was that? 

We eat tacos a lot in our house, so I like to come up with different ways of loading them. Below is a picture of the basic taco: chicken, cheese, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, salsa verde.  I also am not a fan of the shells you buy in the store that are hard, already shaped for you, and resemble what you get at Taco Bell.  Instead, I use soft corn shells and heat them over the stove on a skillet until they are toasted.  So good and much healthier than frying them.  There are even times when I crave these tacos more than chocolate.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

family shoot ~ tami and her girls

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Aren't these ladies just gorgeous?  I can't get over their beauty, inside and out.  I, being the lucky girl that I am, was able to spend an hour with them on a shoot by an old barn and farmhouse.  Click here to see more from that day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

super delicious {no joke} cranberry pork chops

These pork chops happen to be deeeelicious!  And the best part? They only take about 20 minutes to make.  I was partly inspired by that can of cranberry sauce in my pantry that has been staring at me for some time now, but also by the holiday season that is in the air and has a way of influencing what ends up on my table.

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So this is what you'll need to feed 4 {change proportions as needed}:

extra virgin olive oil {i recommend this one}
salt and pepper to taste {and any other seasoning that floats your boat}
4 thinly cut pork chops
1/4 cup of chopped red onion
1/2 can of whole cranberry sauce
1/2 cup {or so} chicken broth or stock
2 tbsp fresh italian parsley

1. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan on medium heat.
2. Season both sides of your pork chops with salt, pepper, and anything else you like.
3. Cook seasoned pork chops in pan, about 6 minutes on each side.  After first side is cooked and you've flipped the chops, add your onions. When cooked through, sides should turn a lovely caramel color and of course, no pink in the middle.
4. Add cranberry sauce to pan and deglaze with chicken broth/stock.  Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes, letting the sauce thicken.
5. Turn off heat and add chopped parsley.
6. That's it.  You're done!  I served this meal with mashed potatoes and an arugula/spinach salad, but do what makes you happy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

she turns 6

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We celebrated our little one's birthday Halloween style.  It was her first "friends" party, so it was a pretty big deal for her.  In fact, her excitement was so overwhelming, that she crawled around the floor and chased her friends around as they arrived.  I promise she has social skills...she's just a little awkward right now when things get exciting, bless her little heart.  

The girls feasted on pizza, root beer, and spiderweb cupcakes {if only I had pictures, they were darling}.  They decorated cookies shaped like pumpkins, ghosts, and cats, played pin the stem on the pumpkin, and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Good times. 

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