Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vaguely Mexican Noodle Dish {Recipe}

I love carbs.

I love comfort food.

I love beef.

I have found the perfect way to combine those three loves, and it is mostly healthy. It's also a one-dish recipe, so there's less to clean up. Win!

Everybody loves Mexican food, right? I don't even like cheese and I love Mexican. Mmmmm...

This is something I usually just throw together, and there really is no specific recipe, so I'm just going to try to explain it as best as I can. Hopefully you know your way around a kitchen enough to figure this out. But there are pictures, so that may help. You're welcome. (Also there's a downloadable recipe card at the end. You're welcome extra.)

First things first. You need a pan, beef, spices (mostly of your choice -- depends on how you want to season everything), chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and diced green chiles. And noodles, duh. I really like to make this dish with elbow noodles, but I didn't have any on hand so I used penne. Just as good.

Once you've got all the goods, you want to brown the beef. Warning: Gross pictures of beef to follow. While you're browning the beef, add your spices. I throw in a bunch of random stuff, but really love garlic salt and oregano. And of course salt and pepper. If you like a little heat, throw in some red pepper flakes. The heat will be subtle because it'll mostly cook out, but you can always add more later, too.

Once your pan-beef looks all brown, DON'T DRAIN IT. Maybe I'm just gross, but for this dish I like to keep all the "juice" in the pan. Remember -- you want the noodles to soak up all the flavor.

At this point it's safe to add the diced tomatoes, then the green chiles (if you were wondering, it's the chiles that make it vaguely Mexican). Don't drain the tomatoes, but do drain the chiles.

After that's heated through, add two cups of chicken broth. I didn't have broth (this is a sin, please forgive me), so I used bouillon. Once that's nice and hot -- give it maybe a minute or two -- throw in your noodles.

Now all the hard work is finished. Throw a lid on that baby and let it simmer. Come back every few minutes to give it a good stir and to check on your noodles. If it seems too dry, add some water or some more broth, but only do it a little bit at a time. Really, after this it's up to you when it's "done." I like my noodles really tender, but the dish juicy, so I let it simmer for about 20-ish minutes and always end up adding extra broth. By the time I eat it, it looks like this:

All done. Serve hot. A bowl is best, but I don't judge. Bon app├ętit!

Recipe card can be downloaded here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do or DIE Essentials -- My Must-Haves {On Behalf of Man Crates}

*This post was inspired by the company Man Crates. I was not compensated in any way for this, and this list includes only items that I came up with; they did not ask me to include anything specific.  

Everybody has a list of things they absolutely couldn't live without. Or maybe things they just wouldn't want to live without. I mean, you all know that I love making lists of things that I think I can't live without (examples here & here), so why not make another, right? Being that I live in a first world country with #firstworldproblems, the items on my list are not exactly survival tools. But for me, I don't think I would survive without them.
1. Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans - Any time I'm near a candy store (oh hey boardwalk!), I HAVE to get these. They're actually the only reason I even go into candy stores. Coffee beans on their own? Disgusting. Why would anyone eat that? But coffee beans covered in chocolate? Yummmm. I'm pretty sure I'd eat a cricket if it was covered in chocolate. Except not really.

2. Dr. Pepper Chapstick - This has made an appearance on my blog before. Maybe more than once. It gives the perfect amount of color and keeps my lips from getting chapped. And it tastes sooooo good. Also it's cheap.

3. J. Crew Leggings - Oh. My. Goodness. I discovered these this past winter when I had a coupon (because omg $35 for leggings is ridiculous) and I probably will never buy cheap leggings again. Not that I wear them as pants... but if I did these would definitely do the trick. Not sheer, they hold their shape, and they are so comfortable. The waistband comes up high enough that your circulation isn't cut off in weird places. I'll probably stock up this fall. And I might even pay full price.

4. Goody Hair Ties - It. Must. Be. These. I didn't realize that there were people in the world who hated these until I went to the website to get a picture. I don't know what those people are complaining about; I've never had a problem. Being a girl is hard, but these make it more tolerable. I won't put any other type of hairtie in my hair. I have a lot of hair. A lot of thick hair. And in the middle of summer when the AC is broken (true story), these are the only ties that keep me from shaving my head. Which I can't do Ugh.

5. Notebook/Pens - I think I've mentioned before that I must always have a notebook and pens around me. In my purse, on my desk, on my nightstand... you get it. I love notebooks of all sizes, but the small ones are nice to carry around. And I prefer lined paper. I'm not much of a doodler, so I need the lines to keep me on track. And Sharpie pens are my new favorite. Sharpie + notebook = PB&J of my life.

6. MacBook Pro/Charger - I could probably go without my iPhone as long as I have my MacBook. And obviously the charger that keeps it alive. When my original MacBook died, I replaced it with this and I haven't had a single problem. (I'm a Mac, can you tell?) Without this, I wouldn't be able to design things, do my homework, write emails, Facebook stalk, or plan vacations. See? It's pretty important to my survival.

So. Obviously there are some things that just make life better. Is there a man in your life who you hate shopping for? Do they have a constant list of survival needs? (Maybe this is just Erich, but he always has to have beer and snacks. Men, am I right?) Well Man Crates can make your man-shopping easier. (I swear I didn't mean for that to sound like you're shopping for a man, but I'm just gonna leave it because it's funny.)

Because I can't say this better than they already did, here's how Man Crates describes themselves, straight from the website:

"We say 'no' to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets. We don't save wrapping paper, we don't do ribbons.
We ship bragworthy gifts for guys. Gifts that you can't wait to arrive because you know the recipient will love opening them.
Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.
We are Man Crates, and we deliver awesome gifts for men."

As if that explanation wasn't enough, let me just add that they ship all of their gifts in actual wooden crates. Is there anything cooler than that? (For a man, I mean.)
Go check them out! I've already planned my wedding gift to Erich thanks to them. And I feel reeeeaaaaaally good about it. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Essentials

I had a totally different post planned for today (and maybe I'll still put that one up), but I decided that with the Fourth of July right around the corner, I'd rather talk about what I have to have with me to celebrate.

This list is not all-inclusive by any means. Let's be real -- if it was, there'd be hair ties, drinks, hot dogs, humans, and fireworks. Which, speaking of fireworks, some assclown thought it would be a great idea to shoot some off in the parking lot at 2:30 this morning. They were going off right outside my window. Not cool. Anyway.

These days my mom likes to travel a lot. (This is relevant, I promise.) On the rare occasion that she's home for the month of July she throws an awesome Fourth of July party. There's a pool in the backyard, a huge grill on the deck, and all the best people come to hang out. My parents' house is also right across from our county fairgrounds, so we basically get a free fireworks show every year. This holiday is definitely top three for me.

So now, I present to you a very small smattering of the things I love to have with me on this patriotic day.

Bag from Gap - sold out. Similar here. // Kindle - old model. New here. // Sunscreen // Bathing suit - Target // Blanket - Thirty One

1. A bag to carry all your stuff. If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you may remember that this exact bag graced a post about a year ago. I wanted it for my birthday, but I totally ended up buying it for myself. No regrets.

2. Kindle or books. Yeah, I'm old school -- this is the kindle I have. Second generation, I think? I go back and forth between Kindle and real books. Sometimes I don't want the pages of my book to get wet, though, so then I resort to technology.

3. Sunscreen. This is my favorite brand, but I'll use whatever's around. I was blessed with fair skin and freckles, so SPF 30 is the least I can wear, and I always reapply every two-ish hours. Otherwise... lobster. I also have the after-sun lotion from Hawaiian Tropic (which also graced my blog last year), and I'm totally obsessed. That's usually in the bag, too.

4. A bathing suit. Duh. Preferably one that's red, white, and blue, or any combination of those three colors. I'm all about being festive.

5. A blanket. This is from Thirty-One. It's waterproof on one side, and really soft on the other. I lay the waterproof side on the grass when I go to watch fireworks and I sit on the soft side (I feel like this was obvious). Then I just wipe off the other side and all is good with the world. I hate grass. I especially hate wet grass.

Again, not all-inclusive, but a pretty good representation. Looking back at this list, I suppose it could double as a pool essentials list, but oh well. I will be spending the Fourth at the pool, so I suppose it's one in the same.