Made With Oven Lovin’

There’s a first time for everything, and last week I had a “first.” I think it’s important to have “firsts” in life, keeps things new and interesting. This “first” took 23 years to happen, but it’s happened and there’s no turning back now. Jason and I… ordered pizza and had it… delivered.

While this may be a weekly occurrence for some of you (or a daily occurrence for some college students), it was new to me. I grew up in a family that watched our pennies… all of them. Sure we ordered pizza sometimes, but that exorbitant $2.00 delivery fee was just too much to ask. We ordered and picked-upped, that’s just the way it was.

When Jason found out about my lack of delivery experience he decided it must be remedied that night. Once our dinner plans were decided upon, we didn’t even call the order in. We got online and placed our order, then eagerly watched the real-time updates on the progress of our pizza – order placed… prep… bake… box… delivery – What’s that I hear? Could it be a knock on my door? Sure enough, standing there in the rain was the pizza delivery boy with our dinner. That’s pretty fantastic stuff!

The pizza turned out to be pretty mediocre, but it was all in the experience. Going online, which is something I regularly do anyway, then have pizza magically on your doorstep 20 minutes later is my kind of dinner preparation.

To be honest though, it will probably be a long time before that happens again. A $2.50 delivery fee plus tip is just a few too many pennies for me. 🙂

Made With Oven Lovin'

Tasty Bites: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

I found the base for this recipe on AllRecipes website, but have added a few variations of my own. Jason and I eat this soup a lot… Mostly because it’s easy for me to make. Finding time to cook when you work full time and spend an hour or more on the road each day isn’t always easy, so I highly recommend this recipe to anyone “too busy to cook”.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans – I use “hot chili beans” don’t know if that makes a difference – drain most of the liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans – drain most of the liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained – I usually have frozen corn on hand and use what I imagine to be a little less than a 15 oz. can
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning – I buy my taco seasoning in bulk and I’m not really sure what 1.25 ounces looks like, so I just give it a couple of shakes. I try to go light on the taco seasoning and add cayenne and red pepper flakes for extra flavor/spice.
  • 2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts 
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • tortilla chips (optional)

 Directions:

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning (cayenne and red pepper flakes), and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.

Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and shred. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

Malorie’s side-notes to those directions:

I combine all of the ingredients (see step one) the night before, then leave the soup mixture in the fridge overnight. Then the next morning – when you’re running late – all you have to do is pull the soup out of the fridge, put it in the slow cooker, turn it on low, and run out the door! I usually end up letting it cook for almost 10 hours, until I get home from work. The chicken will easily pull apart with a couple of forks by this time, and I usually try to add it back to the soup for another 30 min. or so to let the flavor soak in. Jason and I usually eat it half like soup (with a spoon) and half like dip (scooping it out with tortilla chips). Yum!

Table Mountain Hike

A couple of weeks ago we decided that if we were going to make it up to the Mt. Baker area for some hiking, we had better go soon before it gets too cold. We had wanted to hike Table Mountain earlier this year, but the road to Artist Point hadn’t been plowed at that time. Jason’s brother Tristan wanted to go along too, so we packed up and headed up the mountain. When we made it to Artist Point, we got a good view of the hike ahead of us.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain

The trailhead was covered in snow, and we almost immediately began hiking what turned out to be a pretty treacherous trail. The path is narrow, made of loose rocks, and runs in switchbacks up the side of the mountain. You get some pretty good views though!

The Awesome Mt. Baker Wilderness

The Awesome Mt. Baker Wilderness

The weather wasn’t exactly 65 degrees and sunny, like it was in Bellingham, but we had fun on the icy snow.

Tristan and Jason

Tristan and Jason

It doesn’t take long to reach the summit, and once you get there, it’s just as you would expect from its name; flat like a table. We wandered around the perimeter of Table Mountain for a little bit, checking out the views. We found some cool glacier pools and Jason enjoyed throwing rocks over the cliff and listening to the ricochet sounds.

Glacier Pools in the Background

Glacier Pools in the Background

Throwing Rocks! Cool Sounds!

Throwing Rocks! Cool Sounds!

We decided to hike up to the highest point on Table Mountain which was a steep, muddy, but well maintained trail.

Climbing Up

Climbing Up

… and were rewarded with great views of Mt. Baker.

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker

The clouds had rolled in by this time and it started to rain, so Malorie was definitely ready to start hiking back. The view was much different on the way back.

Hiking In The Clouds

Hiking In The Clouds

Even though Table Mountain was a fairly easy hike, it was one of our best hikes this season. There weren’t a lot of people on the trail, there’s a lot of wilderness to explore, and awesome views.

Here are the My Tracks maps of our trek. This one is from the Table Mountain trailhead to the summit:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=104267287821387947962.00048eff8cd10308a67c5

And this one is from the summit westward:

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=104267287821387947962.00048eff943b2dd936cd8

Recipe For A Rainy Holiday

I hope none of you in Northwest Washington had plans for a Labor Day BBQ today. The weather has turned to fall, at least here in Bellingham and nothing makes that more apparent than a gray, rainy Labor Day. I think if you have gray, rainy days before Labor Day there’s still hope for some more warm, sunny days to come. But after Labor Day, your odds are much worse. It’s time to accept the fact that it is fall – pull out that extra blanket, unbury your coats from the closet, and get used to seeing your breath when you walk out the door.

I spent most of the day yesterday getting all of my chores done. I cleaned, grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned the kitchen again, and did everything I could to make sure my Labor Day was chore-free.  I usually prefer to spend my long weekends either out of town or doing absolutely nothing productive whatsoever. This holiday fell under the latter category. It snuck up on me before I could make any plans, so a lazy holiday it is!

I woke up ready for a day of doing whatever I felt like… and waking up to a wet, gray day pretty much made me want to do nothing. So I went back to sleep. After sleeping in, then rufusing to get out of bed until I was good and ready, I finally rolled out of bed and tried to start my day. After taking a shower, I felt I had worked too much for such a rainy day, so I sat on the couch for a while and talked to Jason. We decided we would go out for breakfast which meant I would have to dry my hair, find some sort of hooded jacket, find my shoes instead of flip-flops… What a lot of work!

Jason and I drove to Diamond Jim’s, a local favorite. But unfortunately it’s too many people’s favorite and the wait was almost out the door (in the rain…). So we drove over to another local favorite, The Old Town Cafe. There was a long wait there too, but at least we could wait inside! Once we were seated I looked at a clock and realized it was 12:20pm… sort of a late breakfast, but why not? It’s Labor Day after all.

Jason and I discussed our options for the day over breakfast. We had hoped to go for a picnic, but that wasn’t working out, so what should we do? As we looked out the window with the rain coming down, I decided it was just one of those hot chocolate and a cookie days. So that’s what we did. After breakfast (at lunch time) we went to the grocery store and bought the ingredients we needed to make chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate and headed to my house.

Jason and I made up the cookie dough… I ate a lot of the cookie dough along the way, drowning my worries of getting salmonella with another spoonful of dough. Some did make it into the oven though and we made our hot chocolate. After we got the last batch of cookies in the oven, we decided our latest Netflix movie wasn’t going to watch itself, so we better have at it. A plateful of cookies later and I wasn’t feeling so good. Now I rememeber why I never make cookies – I have zero self-control and will indeed eat cookies until I get sick. Jason wasn’t giving me too much sympathy, but I think it’s because he was too busy feeling sick too. We’re quite a pair. Luckily by the end of the movie I was coming down from my sugar high and feeling pretty good again.

And now Jason’s studying for work and I thought about trying to do something productive, but it’s still a holiday and if I’ve made it this long without doing anything, why start now? I really do recommend days like these occasionally. Everybody needs to take a break sometimes. It helps you realize that the world doesn’t revolve around you. I did nothing today and nobody cared, the world didn’t come to a screeching halt, and all of my worries and concerns can indeed wait until tomorrow to be dealt with.

-Malorie

P.S. I think Jason would agree with me too – He’s sitting over at his desk, balancing a piece of paper on his nose while he listens to his lecture… and I think that’s been his biggest project today. 🙂