Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's In Your Kitchen: Refrigerator

Let's play a game called... What in your kitchen?!  What, you don't think it's going to be fun?

- Greens (I really like to differ what types of greens I buy based on what's in season)
- Tomatoes (I really like roma tomatoes because they are generally the cheapest option and have the best flesh ratio)
- Green Peppers (the best snack. ever)
- Carrots (large, not baby carrots)
- Celery
- Onion
- Garlic
- Seasonal Vegetables

- Bananas (once they turn black they move into the freezer for Banana Ice Cream)
- Berries (depends on what season it is)
- Citrus (oranges, tangelos, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, whatever!)
- Apple
- Melon
- Seasonal Fruit

- Organic Eggs (From free range, organic chicken)
- Bacon!! (well, low sodium turkey bacon)

In My Door
- Soy Slender Chocolate Milk
- Almond-Coconut Milk
- Chi Latte Concentrate
- Classico Pesto
- Jar of jalapeños
- Lime juice
- Lemon juice
- Sriracha
- A1 Steak Sauce
- Ketchup
- Hellmann's Light Mayo
- Applesauce

Dairy Drawer
- Soy Yogurt (not really dairy)
- Munster Cheese
- Provolone Cheese
- American Cheese (fat-free)
- Cottage Cheese
- Brummel & Brown Yogurt Butter

What's in your kitchen?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tysabri: Take Two

Tuesday, February 19th.  It's my second treatment with Tysabri!  I could tell that it was time, because my joints were very achy and my hands were losing the ability to hold things and I couldn't open the basic bottles and bags.

Before you are allowed to recieve the medication, you need to answer the following questions:
1) What's your name?
2) What is your birthday?
3) Have you had an organ transplant?
4) Have you recieved chemotherapy?
5) Do you have any infections?

After you have answered all of these questions, the nurse is free to check your blood pressure and temperature.

Check out my low blood pressure! (Thanks for the low BP mom :) )

After that, the nurse injects the medicine (Tysabri... all $6,909 300 mg of it) into the saline solution bag.

Notice that there are actually two bags in the picture below.  One of the bags has the medicine, the other is full of only saline solutions.  Apparently this is necesary, but I'm convinced this is BioGen's way of keeping me in the hospital for one hour after my actual transfusion to ensure that I'm not having adverse side effects from Tysabri.  (I, for one, don't want to pass out or have an allergic reaction while driving home). 

Then I get poked!  My transfusion nurse, Janice, is aMAAAAzing at inserting the IV with no pain.  But she tends to give me all the credit.. saying that because I eat breakfast and stay hydrated keeps my veins nice and plump!  We usually go on my left arm, apparently I have a big bloody vein just ripe for the sticking!

Told ya, I was a bleeder: (Beware, picture including blood)

Here come the saviors of the transfusion:  SKITTLES!! (The saline solution tends to leave a metallic taste in the patient's mouth.  To me, the metallic taste mostly affects the taste of water, so I eat Skittles to get rid of that taste).

No more blood! And I'm happy as a clam fat kid with cake!

Obviously, I use various apple products to keep myself entertained for the 2 hours the transfusion takes!
*Update: I think I'm actually attempting to get the app "Bump" to work between my phone and my mom's mini so she would stop sending me emails every three minutes*

At some point during the transfusion I need to have a LFT (Liver Function Test) to make sure that I'm not experiencing liver damage from my meds. (It is because of this reason that I have given up drinking, I do not need  alcohol to have fun with my friends, so I'm going to give my liver a break and stop drinking)

My right arm is the site of the blood drawn for the LFT (didn't get a picture of that happening, because mom was too slow and you can't really take a picture of oneself when you are strapped with medicine in one arm and you are getting stuck in the other arm)

Time left: 0.01!! And then it's time to go home and fall asleep (for hours)!!

If you have any questions about Tysabri, my experience, or just want any additional information: leave a comment :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ribs (with BBQ Sauce)

BBQ Ribs (Aka, Busting-Flavor-In-Your-Mouth-Awesomesauce-Ribs)

So here's what you need:
2) Baking Dish
3) Pepper
4) Barbecue seasoning (I use McCormick)
5) Onion Powder
6) MEAT!! (I usually use boneless ribs because they are cheap and easy to prep)
Not Shown:
- Pam (Nonstick Spray)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325.
Step 2: Spray/Grease your baking dish.

Here's where you get out the meat.  The boneless ribs are great because they need minimal prep. Also, we use pork ribs, but you could definitely use beef ribs, if that's your thing!

Step 3: Prep meat. By cutting the ribs in half, they are going to absorb more flavor than if we left them as thick as they came.

Step 4: Place ribs into the baking dish. 

As you can see, crowding the ribs isn't really an issue, just make sure that the ribs get enough sauce at the end!

Step 5: Sprinkle the pepper, barbeque seasoning and onion powder on top of the ribs.  ONLY ON ONE SIDE! (Or else it over powers the BBQ sauce)

Make sure the oven is at 325.

Cooking isn't always perfect, here's a prime example:  MAKE SURE YOU EMPTY OUT YOUR OVEN BEFORE YOU TURN IT ON! Or else you'll have heavy, hot pieces of steel that you'll surely drop on your toes or the floor.

Step 6: Bake the ribs until they are cooked throughly (usually about an hour) but this is what they should look when they are done.

Step 7: Bring on the sauce!!  Be sure to make the sauce coat all sides of the ribs (to ensure extra deliciousness).

Here's what the pan of heaven should look like:

Here we go!  A pan chockfull of goodness. And yumminess.  And tangyness.  And a party in your tummy!

Enjoy!  Also, if you have any recipes that you want to share, feel free in the comment section.  Or, if you know me (or my recipes) and want to make a request, let me know!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Surprise, I'm 22!

This is a shoutout to my crazy, loud,  loving family!  Thanks for my surprise birthday party : ) It is wonderful to know that I have a support system that many people in my situation lack.  Cupcakes and tea parties are always appreciated, especially when I get to keep the paper plates and napkins the gorgeous tea set.

Thank-you Casey and Captain Zach, for entertaining me for 2 hours and bringing me over to the party!

Thanks for the decorations Mama, Gikki, and Auntie JP!

Special shoutout to Captain Zach for my cupcake puzzle, I've already started working on it bud, but I think I need your help!

(Me, opening the puzzle--definitely loved the cupcake wrapping paper and cupcake card!)

I especially loved the birthday cake!  Lemon poppyseed, raspberry cheesecake filling, whipped frosting and white chocolate shavings... delicious.  Once again, thanks fam, looking forward to July '13 and our summer family reunion : )  Don't forget your sunglasses, Grandpa! ;)

And the last thank-you goes out to this wonderful woman:

Without whom, this party wouldn't have happened.  Your courage never ceases to amaze me and I'm blessed to call you my aunt <3 data-blogger-escaped-div="" data-blogger-escaped-love="" data-blogger-escaped-you="">

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family BBQ Sauce

The Family BBQ Sauce (AKA, the best darn ribs sauce. period.)

My dad has a tendency to write down all of our recipes on the backs of business cards.  Personally, I love this because it shows which recipes are used time and time again.  It also shows how true and good these recipes are that these cards have survived, un-altered, for my life.  

Exhibit A:

Like many people, my Great-Grandmother and Grandmother did not use specific measurements.  Everything I was taught about cooking comes from estimations and what "looks right" or "smells right" or "tastes right."  Now, I understand that this may tick some people off, and if this is a problem for you, I can attempt to make some measurements if you'd like.

So here we go! Step one: Gather all ingredients (Left to Right)
1) Liquid Smoke (powerful stuff, aim for only one or two drops)
2) Hot Sauce (we use Dumb Ass, also strong, also only a couple drops)
3) Lemon Juice 
4) Worchestershire Sauce (Wore-chester-sh-shire, if you're in my household)
5) Yellow Mustard
6) Steak Sauce
7) Molasses
8) Ketchup (you'll need three cups at least, so get a bigger bottle)
9) Vinegar
10) Pepper
11) Brown Sugar
12) Onion (Sweet, Yellow, White: which ever)

Other things not shown:
13) Pot (With lid, por favor)
14) Spatula

Okay... here we go!

Step 1: Place vinegar and lemon juice in the pot, enough to cover the bottom of the pot by 1/4 inch. (Go half/half)
Step 2: Add about that much pepper. (Look below)

Step 3: Prepare to Cry!! (Just kidding, but we are chopping onions)

Step 3A: Slice the Onion through the middle.

Step 3B: Stack them on top of each other.
Step 3C: Cut the Stack in half.
Step 3D: Cut the onion in a star formation (As pictured below)

Step 4: Add the onions to the pot with the vinegar and lemon juice.

Step 5: Cover! And bring to a boil and then back down to simmer.  (Also, the vinegar and lemon juice are going to come to a boil much faster than water would)

Allow the onions to soften until they look something like this:

Step 6: Here comes the adding of all the other ingredients (the ones below the line according to recipe card above)

About three cups of ketchup:

About 2 Tablespoons of Molasses:

A couple of shakes of Worcestershire and Steak Sauce, drops of liquid smoke, drops of hot sauce:

Add 1/8 cup of mustard (despite what you might think, this is also very potent.  Be careful!)

Top it off with about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of brown sugar and stir! (honestly, it depends on how sweet you like your BBQ)

Last step: Put it on simmer/lo heat and walk away! (Seriously, this is necessary to make those sauces that taste like love)

Oh yes, Don't forget to taste!!! (Check out this awesomely posed selfie of us tasting the sauce)

Unfortunately, I only have this picture of the final product, as it is being spooned over pork ribs. (Don't worry, that recipe is coming next Tuesday)


Since cooking is all about the ratios of Sweet, Salt, Spicy, and Sour, here is a listing showing how to alter the ingredients based on what type of BBQ sauce you like:

Tangy: increase the vinegar and decrease the ketchup.
Sweet: increase the brown sugar and ketchup, decrease the hot sauce.
If you want a faux-grilled taste: add only ONE extra drop of liquid smoke, seriously, this stuff is Poe-tent!
Spicy/Sweet: increase brown sugar and hot sauce
Carolina BBQ: increase mustard and vinegar
If you think that your sauce is just too strong in generally, add either water or ketchup.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Baked Chicken Breasts

  Chicken is the universal protein that can be turned into just about any dish.  It is my go-to protein, because it is leaner than red meat and you can buy it frozen for cheap!  Here's how I make delicious baked chicken!

First you need to gather all of your ingredients/tools.  These include:
- 1 baking dish
- Aluminum Foil
- Oil (I like olive oil, but vegetable oil is also good)
- Salt and Pepper
- Barbeque GrillMates (McCormic) 
- Chicken Breasts (Frozen is sometimes cheaper than fresh, check your local grocery store's sales to determine if you are able to buy fresh cheaper than frozen on manager's special)

The second thing you need to do is defrost the chicken breasts.  You should never leave meat sitting on out on the counter for an extended period of time.  The safest ways to defrost chicken include: 1) microwave defrosting methods, 2) letting the meat thaw in a glass container in the fridge, 3) placing the chicken in a glass bowl in the sink and allowing cold water to trickle over the frozen brests.  

*Remember the threat of samonilla is huge in raw poultry, you need to use a disinfectant on any surfaces that raw poultry touches.*

Preheat your oven to 425*F.  

The third thing to do is place tin foil in the baking dish to prevent any baked on grease (which takes the hard part of cooking out: the cleaning)  Place the thawed chicken breasts in the dish and drizzle oil on top of the chicken breasts.  Caress Massage the seasonings and oil into the chicken breasts.  Place into the oven, uncovered for around 40 minutes.

When your chicken breasts are done, they should look like the picture above, the meat should have changed from a translucent pink color, to white.  The chicken breasts should also be fragrant.

You will need to make sure that the chicken is cooked all the way through, to do this, you need to simply cut into the thickest part of the chicken breast.  The above picture is showing that when the juices are clear, the chicken is cooked.  But to be sure that the chicken is cooked, completely cut the chicken in the thickest part to ensure that there is no pink.

Now you have delicious baked chicken that can be altered for many recipes!  Some of these include:
- Chicken Tacos (just add some taco seasonings!)
- Barbecue Chicken (just add some sauce, shred the chicken and enjoy on a bun)
- Chicken Salad (cut up and add almonds, grapes, celery, onion, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and sugar)
- Chicken Alfredo (just cut up the chicken and add to Alfredo sauce and fettuccini)

If you have any other chicken recipes, leave a comment so that I can try them!
Get out there and cook!