Friendsgiving and Firefighters

This the first year we’ve done an actual “Friendsgiving.” The event for other people seems to be a large gathering and a huge dinner. That was mostly true for us, too, except we decided just to have a small thing with our friends from upstairs with the idea of just being low key and hanging out.

E and I decided we’d spend the day cooking for the husbands, so we went shopping this morning and managed to get everything. A few things were found scavenger hunt style (puff pastry and pumpkin spice were hiding). We were surprised that our haul was kind of small and inexpensive compared to what we thought we were going to spend, but we rolled with it.

Things started out well. We made a pumpkin pie cheesecake thing that didn’t look too pretty and almost suffered from a missing ingredient, but that was alright. We figured it would still taste good (spoiler: it did).

Pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie!

We also made green bean casserole in the crockpot, a bacon and corn casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes as sides, and sausage and cheese crescents for an appetizer. Everything was going pretty good, right? Then…things got interesting.

First of all, I’m going to disclaimer this by saying neither E nor myself are really adventurous cooks, but we wanted to try something new. Also, recipes are to be followed, right? Right! So we decided to make Beef Wellington, because she found a seemingly easy recipe and it seemed like something cool and different.

Apparently, sometimes even following the directions leads to crazy things happening. Like when you try to sear meat, and you get smoke. A lot of it. Smoke that starts out as just a little cloud and then suddenly fills the apartment. And sometimes the windows in the apartment won’t open to ventilate the place, so you have to open the door to the hallway, and then the smoke goes into the hallway.

And every freakin’ alarm in the apartment building goes off.


Yep. That happened. The fact that we smoked out the first floor was bad enough. The fact that people were standing in the lobby wondering what the heck was going on, also not great.

And then we heard the sirens. Yes, our friendsgiving dinner brought all the firemen to the yard, and they were like “Hey. Where’s the fire?” Luckily, there was no actual fire, but they had to air the building out and turn off the fire alarms. I may have cried and laughed at the same time because the situation was kind of hilariously awful. My favorite part was when the fireman asked for the name of the person on the lease. My next favorite part (really) was when they said I wouldn’t be fined and that “these things happen.”

Shout out to the Manhattan Fire Department for being quick to respond and super nice about the whole thing.

I’m going to assume our awesome landlords aren’t going to fine us for this, as it really was an accident and there was no damage to anything (that I’m aware of). E and I did learn that neither of us are likely to do anything experimental in the kitchen anytime soon. Even after all that, though, the Beef Wellington was delicious, and dinner overall was pretty darn good…even the weird looking pumpkin pie.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful around our place. We ate, visited, and watched a few hours of Epic Rap Battles of History. Overall, it was a good day, and at least we know our first Friendsgiving will be memorable. Who knows? Maybe next time we’ll invite more people and make it a real bonfire!

Just kidding. I’m going to avoid that if at all possible.


Rotisserie Chicken and Parmesan Bake

Rotisserie chicken is one of the tastiest things ever, and I’d heard that it’s great for recipes. I decided to see if it lived up to the hype this past week. During our regular shopping trip, we stopped at Dillon’s and picked up a chicken for about five dollars, and I was the lucky one who pulled as much as I could off the bone. I’m okay with it…it beats touching raw chicken.

The rotisserie chicken didn’t yield as much meat as I thought it would, but it was still enough for about two meals. We were going to stretch it into three, but I think two meals in a row is going to be about right for us.

One of the recipes is something I named a Chicken Parmesan Bake, though I’m not sure if that’s accurate. I tweaked the Sour Cream Noodle Bake to add more pasta sauce, and I used the chicken instead of ground beef (in the future, I’m going to try this with italian sausage and ground pork).

For your recipe pleasure, here are the deets on this dish (sorry for the blurry bowl shot, as I failed at taking a finished product pic).

Hot, delicious, mess!
Hot, delicious, mess!

Chicken Parmesan Bake with Rotisserie Chicken

* Shredded Rotisserie chicken (2 cups? I just eyeballed it)
* Pasta sauce (1 jar)
* ½ teaspoon salt
* fresh ground black pepper
* 16 ounce package penne pasta
* ½ cup sour cream
* 1¼ cup small curd cottage cheese
* Parmesan cheese
* ¼ teaspoon onion powder
* garlic powder (eyeball it)
* 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Simmer chicken and pasta sauce in skillet, ½ teaspoon salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper (if using onion powder and garlic powder add it now) and parmesan cheese. Add to noodles and stir.
5. To assemble, add a third of the noodles to a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Top with a third of the sauce mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated mozzarella. Repeat with noodle, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.


This was so good! The only change (besides trying different meat) I’ll make in the future is to add some minced garlic. Fresh garlic would be good too. I love lasagna, and this was an easy way to satisfy that craving.


Recipe: Tuna Noodle Casserole

This past week was a banner week in our household. I cooked dinner twice!

Even better than the sour cream noodle bake was the tuna noodle casserole I made on Tuesday night. I love TNC. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid, but I’ve only had it a handful of times as an adult. In my normal aversion to cooking, I always thought the dish was too complicated. So many ingredients, so much to do, so much kitchen drama!

That’s not the case. This was easy to make, and while I wasn’t as super suave in the kitchen as I had been with the first casserole, I still managed to put it all together without setting anything on fire. I used bits and pieces of old recipes I’d been given to hodge podge this together. Now it’s probably going to be one of my go-to recipes.

Under that layer of chips is cheesy tuna goodness.
Under that layer of chips is cheesy tuna goodness.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
6 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons butter
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste, I use 1 teaspoon)
3 -4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4-1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
onion powder
1 (6 1/2 ounce) can tuna, drained and flaked
Shredded cheddar cheese
Potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

2. Cook the egg noodles in boiling water; drain and toss with 2 tablespoons butter.

3. In a sauce pan, mix together undiluted mushroom soup, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, milk, sour cream, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in tuna to sauce mix.

5. Combine the mixture with the cooked egg noodles.

6. Pour everything into casserole dish.

7. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar cheese, then with crushed potato chips

8. Bake for about 25 minutes.

I was surprised at how easy this was and how delicious it tasted. Jon likes his things spiced up, so he added hot sauce to his. The recipe is versatile, so you can add whatever spices or sauces you want to give it some kick.

This coming Sunday I’m trying two recipes: crockpot cheeseburgers and crockpot dump cake. Wish me luck!


Recipe: Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Any time I actually make dinner, it’s a pretty big event. Being in the kitchen makes me uncomfortable. I don’t multi-task around hot items well, and I don’t have the flair for seasoning and eyeballing amounts like Jon does. Therefore, he does pretty much all the cooking (even though I’m in charge of finding new recipes).

I pinned this recipe to my meal board awhile back (the original one from the Pioneer Woman can be found here). It looked easy enough, so I gave it a shot with a couple minor changes. The information below includes my changes, so refer to the links for the full, original recipe.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

Ingredients (I was able to pick up everything at Aldi, which is the cheapest grocery store in our area)

  • roll of ground turkey
  • 2 8 oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg Noodles (I cooked a whole 16 oz bag. It made alot. Half the bag would have been fine)
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1-1/4 cup Small Curd Cottage Cheese
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown ground turkey in a large skillet. Drain fat (my turkey was lean, so I skipped this step), then add tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add pepper. Add to noodles and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on some cheese. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!
My food pics never look as pretty as the originals, but the food tasted good anyway!

The original recipe says to pair with some bread, but I figured the noodles would be starchy enough. Though they are egg noodles. Still a starch, right? I don’t know. The meal was really filling without the bread.

Next time I’ll even out the noodle to sauce ratio by using only half a bag of noodles as instructed. Even with that little oversight, this turned out really well. I’m proud! Also, I managed to keep all kitchen anxiety at bay. I took my time, managed to do a few things at once, and even (sort of) cleaned up as I went.

My next mission? Tuna noodle casserole.


Passing Batons and Making Dinner

We started the day off with my final Tengaicon meeting, or at least my final one as chair. This was our wrap-up meeting to talk about what went well and how the committee is going to move forward for next year. Because our (meaning mine and Jon’s) plans are so up in the air for this coming year, I knew it wasn’t fair to start something and then have to dump it onto someone else later. So we chose a new chair, one of the guys who’s done it in the past, and I made my formal resignation.

It’s kind of bittersweet. I liked planning the convention and was really happy with how it turned out, though there was a degree of stress in heading it up. I was a little sad to give up my position, but I was also a little relieved too. I think we built a strong foundation and I’m hoping that no matter where I am next year, I can come back and attend the con as both a gamer and maybe a volunteer.

Our original plan was to do laundry and geocache in town while we waited for our Pathfinder game to start. However, the game ended up being cancelled, so we decided to curb our plans to get some chill time in at home. Though we made it to the laundromat, we ended up deciding to wait for our normal laundry day of Monday to do clothes.  We went up to my work and hid “the body” for this week’s office murder mystery (which I’m pretty excited about), then went shopping at Aldi for groceries for the coming week.

We’ve been spending more money on eating out, and we’re back into “tightening the budget” mode to prepare for our trip to St. Louis and our end of the year plans. This week we’re planning on eating at home more and either taking our lunches or sticking to value menu sandwiches (which I think I have to do one day while I delivery laundry and run errands).  This plan always takes us to Aldi because food there is pretty cheap.

Though I’m not much of a cook and leave most of the kitchen responsibilities to Jon, I decided to make Maple Barbecue Beef from the recipe I got from Stephanie O’Dea’s blog.  I didn’t have any frostbitten meat, so we bought fresh stew meat. I also went with maple pancake syrup rather than true maple syrup.

Fuzzy picture of dinner fixins.
Fuzzy picture of dinner fixins.

We paired it with cheesy biscuits from a mix that Forsh bought me, a copy cat mix of the ones they serve at Red Lobster.



This was so good! Probably had way more of the beef than I needed, but I wasn’t too full when I was done. I think we’re going to be making this again because it’s super easy and tasty. Next time I think we’re going to put it over rice though.

We finished watching Season 5 of Parks and Rec, and I’m debating watching a horror movie tonight. I was going to get some knitting done, but I’m feeling kind of lazy tonight. I will probably work on a few cache puzzles, then shower and turn in early for the new week tomorrow.

Here’s to hoping everyone has a fabulous Monday!



Exhaustion and Homemade Hot Pockets

This day didn’t feel normal. It went by fast, like I arrived, and I did a few things, and then I went home. Early, even. I couldn’t tell you what I did though. I’m sure something got accomplished, but I was fairly under the weather most of the day, and by “fairly,” I mean I kind of thought I might pass out a couple times. I’m tired of dealing with the sinus and allergy and cold stuff. I’m not entirely sure if the long workout last night had something to do with it. I felt like I got enough sleep, but I was fatigued and shaky all day. If I had been feeling sick before working out, I wouldn’t have worked out. But I was feeling fine.

So I left early and didn’t go to the gym, since that seemed like the smart thing to do. We did hit up Dillons for some dinner food where we bought the makings of pizza pita pockets to make in our new toaster oven (work anniversary gift…worth it!). I also picked up some of my Dillons freebies. If you are near a Dillons or a Kroger and have not gotten in on this weekly freebie thing, do it! You have to register your card online, but then you can load all kinds of coupons to it, including the weekly freebie. I’m not an extreme couponer, but I’m all about something free. Tonight, I got popcorn and shampoo. Tomorrow will bring some toothpaste. Love it.

The plan was to go to bed shortly after I got home, but that didn’t happen. There were delicious hot pockets, then there was cleaning and laundry, and then there was me on the computer. And watermelon.  There was also a coughing fit that left my face numb. I don’t think that’s healthy. I hope I didn’t have an aneurysm.

You know what else is keeping me up? Muggle Hustle. Seriously one of the of funniest things ever. When Jon shot me the link earlier, I thought it was just random bro quotes. Nope, it’s a whole thing. Read it, but be warned: spoilers and swearing. And hilarity, so if you can’t handle that, then you might want to bunk down with some Fifty Shades or something.

Um…could we get the Muggle Hustle guy to give Fifty Shades the same treatment? Petition? Kickstarter?

Other news, other news….I have nothing. Shutting it down for the night for some drugs and sleepytimes. I’ve put out the notice that tomorrow might be a work from home day, or even a sick day if this coughing and grossness keeps up. It needs to stop. The weekend is coming up, and I have plans.


No, I Really Can’t Stand the Heat

Cooking stresses me out, yet for some reason, now that we have a “real” kitchen, I have the urge to keep trying it.

I’ve made two meals so far, both which turned out okay and will be used again with some minor tweaks. It’s not really the meals that stress me out. It’s just the kitchen experience. Growing up, I never had any interest in cooking or meal planning. Now I go through phases, and those phases are normally brought on my a change in living space. They run their course fairly quickly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to get my time’s worth out of them when they do come around.

The first dish I made wasn’t horrible. It was a Dorito Taco Casserole and it turned out well. The thing with anything Mexican, though, is that I like it to have crunch, so I had to add a few extra tortilla chips since baking chips in saucy ingredients tends to soften them up.

Last night, I made a Southwestern Tuna Noodle Casserole. Tuna noodle casserole is one of my favorite meals. My mom swore it was one of the easiest things to make, but I never tried to make it for myself before now. I tweaked the southwestern version a little bit. Instead of using the chopped green chiles it called for (I couldn’t find them at Aldi), I seasoned with red pepper flakes.

What I failed to realize is that while red pepper flakes are good for some heat, you  need something else to season it and bring out the flavor. I didn’t use anything. In fact, I forgot to salt the noodles. So while there was some heat on it, it was also kind of bland in the taste department.*

I don’t stress over whether the food will come out well. For me, it’s the practice of getting around a kitchen. I have a minor fear of heat and fire, so I’m a bit uncomfortable when it comes flame. Whenever I put something in or pull something out of the oven, I know I’m going to burn my fingers on something (I rarely do, in reality).

I constantly drop things and knock into things, so spills are normal.  Raw meat squicks me out. Tuna fish is gross when you drain it from the can.** 

I can never seem to handle pans and dishes well. I’d like to blame it on small hands, but I’m sure it’s because I’m just uncoordinated.

If it’s a stovetop meal, I get splattered with grease, or I freak out if something boils over. If it’s an oven dish, I worry if it’s cooking too much or not enough. Pork and chicken scare me because I’m in a constant state of worry that it’ll be undercooked and I’ll get food poisoning.

Having said all that, I still like looking at recipes and I still like the thought of being able to cook. Over the past few days I’ve used Pinterest to Pin all kinds of recipes that look really good and probably wouldn’t pose much of a challenge if I wanted to try them out. It would give my husband a reprieve since he’s the main cook in our house.

Besides, practice makes perfect. Maybe one day I can get to that point where cooking actually relaxes me.

*The leftovers two days later were actually really good though.
**Also, our roommate’s cat lost his stuff over the tuna smell, a fact I didn’t take into consideration before making the dish. Sorry, Kitty!