Dress Your Best 2011

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So, Academichic is hosting their Dress Your Best Week.  I’m a little late to the party, as it technically started on June 20, and will end on July 1.  But that’s ok.  Dress Your Best was what originally inspired me to try my hand at blogging, not just about fashion, but about everything!

In any case, since it’s summer and I don’t dress up a lot during summer, I’m just going to feature one outfit.  I’ll be featuring what I think is my number 1 best feature right now: my hourglass figure.  (It’s a big hourglass, but it’s there.)

Now, normally,  I don’t accentuate this much, because I feel too chunky.  But, I have a large collection of corsets that help out.  It being summer, however, I am not going to wear one of those.  Instead, I’m just wearing a simple black dress.  This dress has been languishing in the back of my closet, perhaps because I don’t like the way the thin straps show off my flabby arms, or the detail that emphasizes my hips.  Not sure.  But I found it and I said “Aha!  Nothing like a little black dress to show off your figure.

I wore this to go to a circus, and so I tried to dress it down by wearing bright wedges, and matching bracelets and feather earrings.  The circus was fun too.  My first experience at one that was more in the classic circus style.

So there you have it.  Be sure to check out all the other great participating blogs, and of course, the lovely ladies of Academichic themselves.

Dress Your Best Week

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Recipe du Jour: Chicken Chow Mein

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Today’s recipe comes from my Grandmother.  My grandmother was an old-fashioned Polish woman, and so obviously, this is not an authentic recipe.  I don’t even think “chow mein” in general can be considered authentic.

Funny thing about my grandmother, any recipe of hers that I try to make needs serious modification.  You see, my uncle, when he was younger, used to eat a lot of food.  From the stories I’ve been told, he would eat 4 times as much food as everyone else.  So all of her recipes are HUGE in quantity.  The other thing is that my grandfather could not chew well as he got older, so my grandmother cooked everything to mush.  What this means is that I have to cut back on the ingredients, and experiment with the cooking times.

Anyway, here we go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cooked chicken breast, or an equivalent amount of cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup onion, cut into 1-inch long strips
  • 2 cups celery, cut into 1-inch long strips
  • 1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
  • 1 can of bean sprouts (if you like them)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

Melt the butter in a deep pan or pot over medium heat.  Add the celery and onion, cook about 5 min.  Add other veggies, cook about 10 min.  Take a little warm water or chicken broth, mix with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Gradually add to cooking veggies until slightly thickened, and glossy.  Add the chicken and cook 5 more min.  Serve with chow mein noodles, or rice and soy sauce.  Makes about 3 big servings.

Other Cooking Notes:

My grandmother’s original recipe says “Cook chicken as for chicken soup.”  What she means is, make chicken broth from the chicken, and then use the chicken for something else.  My grandmother’s chicken soup is normally just chicken broth served over noodles.  This method (making broth and using the meat in something else) is exactly what I did this time.  If I had more foresight, I would have done a post on that too.

Tastiness Factor:

The actual chow mein itself is a bit bland.  Nice if you’re getting over being sick and don’t want too many complex flavors.  I eat mine with brown rice and chow mein noodles, all mixed up.  I love the extra crunch.  I also don’t use the bean sprouts.  Soy sauce is helpful here.

Reheat Factor:

The mixture seems to thicken up more in the fridge, so it’s best to thin it out with a little water or chicken broth before reheating.  The flavor and texture are consistent with the first heating, and I served the leftovers the same way.

Overall Impression:

Almost any of my grandmother’s chicken recipes are good.  When I see the line “Cook as for chicken soup”, that tells me it’s a tried and true recipe.  Some others in my collection include Chicken ala King and Chicken Pot Pie.  The advantage of this recipe is I normally have celery and onion on hand, it satisfies my craving for takeout Chinese food while at the same time being healthier (and cheaper).

As for modifications, I’m fairly happy with this version.  I’m not exactly sure how much “thickening”  the cornstarch does.  It seems to be there mainly to create that shiny sauce that we’re used to in restaurants.  Next time, I might try leaving it out.

Recipe Du Jour: Chicken-Broccoli Couscous

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This is actually a really old photo.  I tried this recipe sometime in early April, I think, back before the stress of generals really knocked me down.  It was another recipe from our weekly get-togethers.  (Hopefully those will resume in the near future.) With all the stress, I haven’t cooked at home much until recently.

This recipe is from Rachel Ray.  Some people hate her, some people love her.  For me, she’s sort of hit and miss.  Her mannerisms are very annoying, but several of her recipes are actually really good.  Like this one!  For those interested, here is the link.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • One 10-ounce box couscous
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Toast nuts in a 350° oven until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.  In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface, let cool, then shred; reserve the skillet.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 cups chicken broth and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a boil; season with salt and pepper. Add the couscous, cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and the remaining 1 cup chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, raisins, parsley and couscous; season with salt and pepper. Toss with the almonds before serving.

Tastiness Factor:

This is really good!  The couscous is a nice texture change, compared to pasta or rice.  And definitely don’t leave out the raisins.  They add an element of sweet to the savory that makes the dish.

Reheat Factor:

This picture tells it all as far as reheat goes.  This was one of the last bento that I put together this semester.  This reheated really well.

Couscous Bento All

Overall Impression:

This dish is awesome!  It’s quick, easy, and fresh.  If you have the chicken cooked already, then you can skip a few steps.  It reheats well.  This is something that will probably enter my regular rotation, especially to use up leftover chicken.

Throwback to the Early Blog

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So, I promised a post that would be a throwback to what this blog started with.  It took me a while to find something.  You see, now that it’s summer and I don’t have as many obligations on campus, I spend most of my time lazing around my air-conditioned apartment in my comfiest clothes.  Not something I’m willing to share with you guys.

Anyway, this photo is actually from back in May, about a week after classes ended.  I was still recovering from crazy semester.  But that night, Andrew and I were going to attend a concert in Dallas.  I had bought the tickets all the way back in February, made sure my schedule would be open, and had been bouncing up and down all week.  Since it was a concert for an international music artist (Yanni, if you must know) I felt like I should dress up.  But the end of semester had been rough.  What to wear that looked nice and yet I could stand a 3 hour car drive in?

This dress is now called my GoTo Dress.  It makes an outfit on it’s own, and while the cut is not as flattering as it could have been, it’s stretchy and comfy and still looks nice.  The glint at my neck is a beautiful necklace Andrew got me when he was in Prague.  I’ll take a closeup picture sometime.  Also, my hair looks a bit funny because I’ve made a resolution to not straighten my hair all summer, but I was still working out the best way to do that.

Anyway, a short post to get back into the blogging game.  I’ll have a couple more recipe posts, a summary of how the May/June workout goal went, and what I have planned for July!