Friday, February 26, 2010

Recipe: Thai Chicken for the Crockpot

Time for another nice crockpot recipe that results in nice tender chicken with a wonderfully flavored sauce!  Also known as tonight's dinner.

Thai Chicken for the Crockpot

4 (4-oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker.

Mix the remaining ingredients except the cilantro together in a small bowl and then pour over the chicken.

Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours. Remove chicken with slotted spoon. If sauce is very thin, mix with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve hot.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meandering and a Book

 This weekend sped past.  On Saturday I went to a Lindy Hop Workshop with Syncopated Rhythms at the Tango Berretin.  I really enjoyed the section on swing out variations and stylings.   The hops and slides were also fun to learn and practice.  I was a bit disappointed by the workshop on tricks and dips which was primarily on jumps.  I knew most of the jumps, though they did teach some interesting variations on the standard jumps and toss outs as well as a new and interesting dip. Plus after having an ankle injury, I just don't find jumps that fun or interesting.

Between the workshop, my regular dances and the Olympics; my reading post this week is just my current book-

Emerald Sea by John Ringo
Yep, I'm still working on this one.  I'm a bit less impressed than I was with the first book in the series, so far.  I'm sticking with it because the writing is still very good and I still have some hope that the author will work in some more character development.  The characters are a bit stagnant so far and it is driving me crazy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse with Creme de Cacao

This Valentine's Day we had a tasty chocolate treat!  Definitely worth the work.

Chocolate Mousse with Creme de Cacao
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook (with modification)

4 Squares ( 1 Ounce each) semisweet chocolate cut into pieces
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons Creme de Cacao

Heat chocolate in heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; remove from heat.  Beat egg yolks slightly; stir yolks and vanilla into chocolate.  Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in 2 1/2-quart bowl until foamy.  Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy.  Stir about 1/4 of the meringue into chocolate mixture.  Fold into remaining meringue.

Beat whipping cream in chilled 1 1/2 quart bowl until stiff.  Fold whipped cream and creme de cacao into chocolate meringue.  Spoon into dessert dishes.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 48 hours.

Book Post Feb 9-15

 Late Again but I have been reading:

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This book is an absolute favorite.  It was the first Heinlein book that I ever read and I re-read it about once a year.  I'm still fascinated by the unique perspective that Heinlein presents on the human condition and I love how the character of Valentine Michael Smith grows and develops and changes as his exposure to human culture increases.  If you haven't read it, you definitely should!

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

The continuing adventures of Stephanie Plum, Bond Apprehension Agent.  Not very heavy reading but thoroughly enjoyably and absolutely hilarious.  

Currently Reading: Emerald Sea by John Ringo

The sequel to There Will be Dragons, takes two years later in the timeline and so far, is the same mix of action, intrigue and engaging characters that made me love the first book.

Thoughts on the New Facebook: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 Facebook has once again changed their layout.  Outrage is pouring out all over.  I've given it a few days of trial and here are my thoughts on the matter.

The Good:
  • The new Home page layout is much cleaner and nicer looking.
  • The Notications tab now has scroll functionality so that you can see all of your notifications when there are lots.
  • I like the Simplified buttons for new friend requests, new messages and the notifications.
The Bad:
  • The Bookmark bar at the bottom of the page is no more.
  • Navigating to Applications has to be done through the Home page and the bookmark functionality is severely limited compared to what we had before- 3 apps instead of 6.
  • Viewing only Status Updates or Content on the News Feed by Friends List is overly complicated and not very intuitive especially after the ease of the last version.
  • By default the News Feed is set to only display 250 friends chosen for you by Facebook
The Ugly:
  • The pop-up bubble for real time notifications now appears in the lower left hand corner
  • On lower resolution monitors some of the content frames appear with no side margin
  • Facebook itself seems to be even slower and less responsive...
  • The Online Friends list on the Home page doesn't show friends by Friends List (Also I don't see the point of only listing six online friends apparently chosen at random).  Nice concept but I think it fails a bit in the execution.
Overall, I think that I will come to like this new layout but I will definitely miss the bookmark bar.

Book Post Feb 2-8

 A bit late, but not that it matters since this probably is the world's most pathetic book post.

There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo

A fascinating look at a future society terribly dependent on technology and what happens when a political struggle ties up all the energy that powers that technology.  The future of human civilization is in the hands of historical re-enactors and anyone with enough strength to grab the power.  I loved the conflict and struggle within the plot and the characters.  One of the most poignant moments is when one of the main viewpoint characters realizes that even though he would readily go back to the way things were, he would miss the new world because of the new passion that he had discovered for life through the hard work.

That's it for this week.

My big disappointment of the week was that I bought a new book from a favorite author that I thought was the first of a series- that's what it means when the book is first in the list of books in the series right?  Apparently not since I settled in to read my new book and the first part was a recap for not one but two books.  Seriously?

Then I got distracted by fandom: the reveals for  went up this week and I started reading everything in sight.  I'm lazy and like to wait for master lists with all the fics in one post...

Recipe: Curried Chicken with Peaches

This recipe is a personal favorite. I love coming home to a crockpot full of well flavored chicken!  The curry flavoring blends nicely with the flavors of the peaches and the raisins.  The recipe also generates a wonderful thick sauce. 

Curried Chicken with Peaches
3-4 Chicken Breasts
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 can (29 ounces) sliced peaches
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 teaspoons curry paste, hot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup raisins

Place chicken in a 5-qt. slow cooker; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain peaches, reserving 1/2 cup juice; set peaches aside. In a small bowl, combine the broth, butter, onion, curry, garlic, ginger and reserved juice; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until chicken juices run clear.

Remove chicken and keep warm. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into the cooking juices. Add raisins. Cover and cook on high for 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in peaches; heat through. Serve over chicken. Yield: 4 servings.

January 2010 Writing Stats

Even though I didn't write as much as I would have liked this month, here's a summary of this month's writing.  Hopefully this will encourage me to do better next month!

Anita Blake:
Petty Observations (Crossover with BTVS) Any Age, Dawn Summers, Willie McCoy (118 Words)

Inevitable (Crossover with Trueblood) Any Age, Xander Harris, Eric Northman, Pam, (874 Words)
Petty Observations (Crossover with Anita Blake) Any Age, Dawn Summers, Willie McCoy (118 Words)
Starlight Musings (Crossover with Stargate SG1) Any Age, Dawn Summers, Clone!Jack (200 Words)

Stargate SG1:
Starlight Musings (Crossover with BTVS) Any Age, Dawn Summers, Clone!Jack (200 Words)

Inevitable (Crossover with BTVS) Any Age, Xander Harris, Eric Northman, Pam, (874 Words)

Number of Fics: 3
Words Written: 1192
Fandoms: 4

Original Fiction:
January Word Count : 1475
Total Words Written So Far: 7803

Chelsea’s ride home in the Public Hover Transport system was quiet and uninterrupted. It gave her time to think about the situation with the soon-to-be decommissioned Old Fashioned Library and the citizens protesting its destruction. The gathering had stayed small and non-violent much to the displeasure of the local businesses who would have been pleased to have an excuse for the Peacekeeping Forces to remove the crowd. She had left a message, similar to the one she had received, for the Beta Shift Senior Technician including the dozens of complaints that had now been submitted. Why are these people so opposed to progress? Books and libraries have no place in a modern society. I highly doubt that the Library Employees saw more than one or two people a week much less enough people to keep the historical building paying for its own upkeep. The Old Fashioned Library was built on was has now become a very valuable business location. A VR Center should have no troubles making a profit, much less supporting itself. Plus, surely the books themselves will be taken care of better be the private collectors? It’s not like the proposal was to destroy the books. Even though the matter seemed settled in her head, some small unidentified concern still bothered Chelsea about the issue in some back corner of her mind. She went through the motions of the rest of her evening; answering messages, chatting over the Net with friends and eating a simple dinner still thinking about the Old Library.

January Combined Word Count: 2267
Fics Written: 3
Fandoms Represented: 4

Book Post Jan 26- Feb 1

Being fairly sick this week was bad for both my reading and my writing.  I got nothing written for fandom and a couple of sentences added to my original fiction.  I'm getting tired of this cough! As for this week's reading:

Magic's Silken Snare By ElizaBeth Gilligan

This alternate magical history is set in a fictional Italian city state following a Gyspy magic user married to a Duke.  She goes to court to investigate her sister's death and must walk the line between her Gypsy heritage and what is socially acceptable.  It took me awhile to get into this one but once I did I found it thoroughly engrossing.  The wide variety of subplots was very engaging and added a new spice to what could have been a very predictable plotline.

And...that's it for this week.

Currently reading: There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo
I'm really enjoying it but working and trying to get enough sleep to banish a cold doesn't leave much time for reading.

Book Post Jan 18-25

Books I've read in the past week:
Endurance by S.L. Viehl
Shockball by S.L. Viehl
Eternity Row by S.L. Viehl

These are the 3rd-5th installments of her Stardoc series.  These books are a bit less lighthearted than their predecessors but they still carry on the same charm that originally caught my eye.  Each book has a new medical and moral dilemma for the main character to work through and she doesn't always do so gracefully.

Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce

This audio book converted to print is a nice easy read from an old favorite young adult writer.  Melting Stones follows the young stone mage Evvy (discover by Briar in Street Magic) and Dedicate Rosethorn on a trip to discover what is killing the trees around an island village.  

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

I've had this book series recommended to me many times but am just now getting around to reading it.  The main character, Stephanie Plum, is simply put hilarious.  Well written and easy to identify with, it is a joy to see what trouble she gets herself into and what lengths her target/reluctant partner has to go to get her out of.  I found these books to be quick reads and full of laughs.

Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Quite a bit darker than the other books I read this week. Way of the Shadows follows a street kid as he apprentices himself to the best assassin in city and navigates his way through a warren of magic and betrayal. 

Swinging Gypsy Weekend

This weekend was a big dance event here in Portland: Swinging Gypsy Weekend. Six great live Bands in three nights.

Friday night was the Djangophiles and Midnight Serenaders. The dance floor at the PPAA was full of people and the music was great!

Saturday night was Trashcan Joe and Swing Papillion. The bands didn't have quite the same energy as Friday night and the mix of dancers was very follow-heavy. Saturday was also the Jack and Jill competition so we got to see some really great dancing.

Sunday night was Kung Pao Chickens and Bridgetown Sextet. The Kung Pao Chickens were so-so but Bridgetown Sextet is easily one of my favorite local swing bands and there was a good crowd that came out to see them. Since the regular Sunday night dance was just across the street at Lenora's Room this week, I split my time between the two dances so I could see all of my swing friends.

Gypsy Swing music is either really fast or really slow so this weekend I really learned to love Balboa! It may never replace lindy hop in my affection but it comes a close second. The only bad things about this weekend is the dreaded cough that I managed to pick up from somewhere and the lack of sleep that has left me super tired.

Dancing and Food:Braised Pork Chops with Rosemary, Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Last Night I met my friend Ashley at the Tuesday Blues dance.  It was fun but I was really disappointed by the DJ's.  When I've gone Blues dancing before I've been spoiled by good music by Live Bands.  Last night some of the music was really bouncy and far more suited to swing dancing.  I had a good time though and Blues dancing was way easier on my bad ankle than going to the Vancouver Lindy Hop night would have been.  

Tonight's dinner was really good! I made a new recipe so I figured I'd share the love:

Braised Pork Chops with Rosemary, Tomatoes and Mushrooms
(Oregonian, Food Day: January 19th 2010)
Serves 4

4 bone-in pork chops (7 to 8 ounces each) trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 tablespoons crushed dried rosemary
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground if possible
4 tablespoons olive oil plus more if needed, divided
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 pound brown mushrooms, such as baby bella mushrooms, cleaned
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish, optional

Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Combine rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl, then use all of this mixture to rub on each side of each chop.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet (with a lid) set over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add enough chops to fit comfortably in a single layer. Saute until browned well, about 5 minutes per side, and remove from pan. Repeat with remaining chops, adding more oil if needed.

Return all chops to pan, and add tomatoes and their juices, stock and wine. Bring liquids to a gentle simmer, reduce heat, then cover. Cook 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice mushrooms through stems into1/4 inch thick slices. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms and saute, stirring, until browned well, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove lid from skillet, and cook chops uncovered until tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Add mushrooms to pan and cook until liquids in pan have reduced and thickened slightly, 8 to10 minutes more. Watch carefully. Season with salt if needed. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring occasionally, over medium heat.)

Serve each chop topped with mushrooms and tomatoes and with a little sauce. Garnish with a rosemary sprig if desired.