Sunday, March 24, 2013

caramel snicker apple salad

I don't know what the weather is like in your corner of the world, but Chicago is snowless and freezing. It's some kind of horrible torture waiting for spring to actually show up. I've decided making light, bright desserts will coax spring to show up. I'll keep making them until it does. :)

This Caramel Snicker Apple Salad has the perfect texture and flavor. Juicy, sweet, nutty, wholesome. It is so delicious. I think it'd be a perfect dessert addition to an Easter meal or the perfect thing to bring to a potluck or barbeque.

Here's my recipe:

Caramel Snicker Apple Salad

What You Need
1/2 a box of French Vanilla Jell-O Pudding mix (just the powder)
1/4 cup of milk
1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip
3 granny smith apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 Snickers bars, cut into bite-sized pieces
caramel ice cream topping, to drizzle on top

Grab a mixing bowl and add the powder of the french vanilla pudding mix, the milk, and the Cool Whip. Whisk to combine. You could easily use another type of pudding mix, but I loved the added flavor and richness from the French Vanilla. It also added just a hint of buttery yellow to the base, which really screamed spring to me.

Chop your apple and Snicker bars. Add to the mixing bowl and combine. Again, you could use another type of apple but I loved the pops of green.  

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Drizzle caramel topping over the dessert before serving. 

This is the best excuse for a salad I've ever known. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a little day of luck in the city that i love {st. patrick's day 2013}

This city is seriously so much fun. There is always an adventure waiting to happen. You can never really say "I'm bored" because hello, you have a city waiting at your fingertips. I think that's what I love about this place -- that I will always have something new.

St. Patrick's Day shined pretty bright in my college years in Kalamazoo, but those celebrations have nothing on Chicago.

You haven't truly celebrated till you've come here. The crowds, the green, the chaos, the laughter. Those moments are what make life grand.

Here'a  little sneak peak into our first St. Patty's Day celebration as Chicago residents. 

Some surprise green beer at Cheesies, home of the best grilled cheeses, earlier in the week.

Friday at the office. My boss rocks.

Jacob and I met up with friends at D4 Irish Pub for food and drinks on Friday night and we happily welcomed the weekend. Fish and chips and people watching at its finest. 

Jacob's dad Randy and his fiancee Cathy joined us for the weekend. Saturday morning came quick and we decked ourselves in as much green as possible. Here's a little "what I wore" St. Patty's Day style:

I might not have been able to wear my green glittered shoes from last year, but little bows on my boots would have to do.

A washer DIY bracelet. I loved how my DIY washer necklace turned out, so it was a breeze making more.

With all of us green from head to toe, we headed downtown to watch the Chicago River turn green. It was packed and freezing, but the coolest thing to watch. The best areas were near Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. 

The process was lovely to watch, but takes a very long time. We decided we'd venture back around after the crowds lessened for a better look.

With coffee and hot breakfast sandwiches in hand, we wandered the stores and streets before heading to wait to watch the parade. We watched very little of the parade (because of the fact that we could not see anything), but we did do a heck of a lot of people watching. That in and of itself made the experience interesting. 

He gave looks at me and maybe at the other crazy individuals. I just giggled.

After seeing the tip tops of flags and hearing bag pipers, we had enough of attempting to see the parade. It would've been better to be farther north or south along the path of the parade, but of course we had to be in the middle. We decided to check out the Bean, see the river, and grab lunch and drinks at the Grand Lux Cafe which overlooks Michigan Avenue.


The whole gang.

A little walk over the bridge and river couldn't have looked better. 

After lunch and drinks, we headed up towards our own neighborhood and spent time on Clark Street near Wrigley Field. Cops with cigars, interesting wardrobe choices, and lots of music and happiness overflowed onto the streets. Goose Island had our hearts, filling us with food and beer all afternoon. We ended the long day with a nightcap at our all-time favorite pizza place, Pizza Rustica. Try it once. You'll thank me.

St. Patty's Day in Chicago was simply the best. Lots of people-watching, odd waiting-in-line-for-the-bathroom conversations, probably too much food and drink for one person in a day, and just the right amount of story-telling and laughter. It's moments like these where my heart is happy and I just feel lucky. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

sizzling chicken and cheese

After I moved to Chicago about 9 months ago (crazy how time flies!), I haven't had as much fast food or chain restaurant food. Not that I don't eat out or anything, because I do, but there aren't as many chain fast food restaurants in the city. 

When I was grocery shopping over the weekend, I was trying to meal plan on the fly. During this quick thinking process, I had a craving for a meal I would occasionally get from TGIF's - sizzling chicken and cheese. If I can't get it at the restaurant, why not give it a go at home? 

This fulfilled the craving to no end. I am so thankful this idea popped into my head. (Jacob is too...)

Here's how this copycat recipe is done.

Sizzling Chicken and Cheese

What You Need
1 package of boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
1 green bell pepper, cut into fajita style strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into fajita style strips
1 small-medium yellow onion, cut into fajita style strips
fajita seasoning
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of shredded pepperjack cheese

First, cut your peppers and onion. You are going to box cut your pepper. Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. Jacob taught me the term and the proper way to cut a pepper to avoid a mess. See below. :)

Lay your pepper on its side on your cutting board. Cut off the very top portion and set aside.

Standing your pepper up on its bottom, cut off one side section and set aside.

Repeat with all sides of the pepper. You are cutting off all the good sections of the pepper.

Once you cut off all the sides, you are left with the core where the seeds and mess are. Throw it away and cut the pepper into strips.

Cut the remaining pepper and the onion and set aside. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Pan fry your chicken tenderloins over medium-high heat. Season with fajita seasoning (you could go the store-bought route, but might as well try homemade!).

Cook your chicken till the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 

Once your chicken is cooked through, toss them into a baking dish and place them in your 375 degree F oven. This will keep them going while you use the same pan to cook your onions and peppers. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. 

Cook until caramelized. 

Once your onions and peppers are caramelized, pull out your baking dish from the oven and assemble. Toss your pepper and onion mixture on top of the chicken, and top the entire dish with shredded pepperjack cheese for a bit of extra heat. 

Pop back into the oven until the cheese has melted.

I'm not kidding, this was delicious. A bit of cheese, a huge portion of peppers and onions, and a whole lotta sizzle. Perfect way to fill that familiar craving.