Thursday, May 27, 2010

Idol Finale Wrap-Up

What a night! I am SO happy that Lee won!!!

I think it is so sweet and endearing that he is such an emotional guy. I've said for a long time (and will continue to say) that the only thing that "gets me" more than a musician, is a musician who CRIES! (YAY me for marrying "that guy"!)

I want to re-live this sweet moment (below) over and over. I love how close these two got. And I LOVE when they sing together, so can we get at least one collaboration on one of your albums? Please? KThanks.

But, can we talk for just a second about how long and drawn out the Finale was?! And was it weird to anyone else when Janet lip-synced [lip-sank perhaps? ;)] a Michael song?! And why do they consistently have "guest" singers who've lost their voices over the years?! (See Hall & Oates, the remaining Gibb brothers, Chicago.) I did think all the Simon stuff was cute...except for the crazies that Kayne'd the mic and Paula's bizarre "comedy sketch".

Anywho...CONGRATS to you Lee DeWyze! See ya in August for Idol Tour!!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whatever Wednesday!

It's Wednesday!
I have great love for this day of the week. Some call it "Hump Day"; the day in which we've reached the proverbial "hump" on the mountain that is the work week. I often find myself reverting back to childhood when my parents would make us paper chains counting down to special days like Christmas, birthdays or the last day of school. When my Mom or Dad would wake us up they'd say "10 more get-ups until school is out!" This morning when I woke up and realized it was Wednesday, I immediately thought to myself "2 more get-ups until the weekend". I do realize "get-ups" (days in which we have to wake-up early) is a weird thing to say...blame my parents. But, this Wednesday is especially wonderful, because it means I am just two "get-ups" away from a 3 day weekend! (More on that later.)

Recipe time!

This is not my recipe, nor did I discover it on my own. My friend Mandy shared it with me and it was soooo good, I just had to pass it along! We have been really trying to eat on a budget lately, and this is so easy on the pocketbook.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (I salted/peppered before cooking)
1/4 cup Light Zesty Italian Dressing
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Neufchatel Cheese, cubed
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth (I had to add a little more because it was too thick)
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans), thawed, drained
1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of 15-oz. pkg.)

Heat oven to 375°F.

Cook chicken in dressing in large skillet on medium heat until no longer pink. Add Neufchatel; cook and stir until melted. Stir in flour until well blended. Add broth and vegetables; stir. Simmer 5 min.

Pour into 10-inch deep-dish pie plate (I used a regular pie plate); cover with pie crust. Seal and flute edge. Cut slits in crust to permit steam to escape.

Bake 30 min. or until golden brown. (In my oven, it was about 25 minutes.)

My thoughts: This is delish! I will probably add a potato next time, just because I felt like it was missing. You could definitely use left over rotisserie chicken, just heat it for a few minutes in a pan with the Italian dressing. This is slightly less fattening since you only use one pie crust and neufchatel instead of regular cream cheese but it still fills my "comfort food" cravings. Plus, it could not be easier. Enjoy!

Let's Talk Idol!
This Idol post is bittersweet. I know many of you will be relieved when it's over, but people searching Idol land on this blog so, I know I'm not alone! Anyway, last night was the final performance show of this season, and Simon's last night judging. Both Lee and Crystal did great, but if I'd been watching this show for the very first time, Crystal would have won me over. That being said, I think Lee should win. I think he has grown the most over the season, and possibly the most of any contestant ever. (Calm down, I said *possibly*.) SO, we find out tonight who will be [insert Ryan Seacrest impression here] the next American Idol! Then this blog will be Idol free...until next season! ;)

More Randomness & Ramblings from Rachel!
I have to brag on my hubby now. He really is such a catch, and I'm reminded of this often. Without getting too terribly mushy (but it is my blog, so I can do what I want!), there are moments when I think about my grandfathers and the kind of man they would expect their granddaughter's husband to be. My sweet Gramp knew & loved Ryan, in fact on our wedding video he says "he's like a son to me, but even better, he's now my grandson". [Oh my goodness, I miss that man. :'( ] Moving on, my wonderful Granddaddy (my Mom's Dad) never got to meet Ryan. He passed away when I was still in high school, and though Ry & I were dating then, he lived in Kentucky. But, he set a huge example in my life as I watched how wonderfully he treated my Grandmommy. The two of them were such sweet, southern gems. My point to all of this rambling is that I have moments when Ryan says or does something and I think to myself "Gramp, Granddaddy, did you see that?!" Yesterday was one of those moments. I had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. Nothing went right. Nothing was easy. Everything made me want to cry. Ryan knew this, so when he walked in the door after work, he had these in hand...

Beautiful, thoughtful, perfect Passion roses. He spoils me. Or maybe he just loves me a lot. ;) Either way, as I burst into tears (again) and thanked him over and over, I glanced at the Heaven's to seek my grandfathers' approval. I think he's got it.

Happy Wednesday all!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Its Whatever Wednesday!

Hi Readers! I can say that now, because according to Google Analytics,  I had 111 hits last week! I know, a drop in the bucket for many of my favorite blogs, but to little ol' me, it feels HUGE!

I also have to point out where my hits are coming from.

I get Texas, seeing as I live here. I know a few people in Colorado, California, Oklahoma & New York and I have family in Missouri & Kentucky. But, I can honestly say I don't think I know anyone in Washington, Jersey or Virgina. So, that's kind of cool!

So, apparently, 56 of my hits last week were for various recipes I've posted, so to keep the trend alive, I have more!

Tonight, I made Broccoli Beef and it was SO good! I have a lot of friends (and maybe readers?) who don't eat red meat, and I'm sure you could substitute beef for chicken, beef broth for chicken broth, etc. But, I'm married to a red meat lover so, we eat beef.

Broccoli Beef
adapted from Simply Recipes and My Baking Addiction

3/4 - 1 pound flank or sirloin, sliced thinly across the grain
2 stalks broccoli (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oill
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced or smushed through garlic smusher
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
For the beef marinade
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of Sriracha (you can adjust this to taste as well)
For the sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon cooking rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup beef broth
-Marinate the beef: Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes ( I let it marinate for 2 hours)
-Blanch the broccoli: Cook the broccoli in a small pot of boiling, salted water until tender and drain thoroughly.
-Prepare the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
-Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan. Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and cook until no longer pink. (I drain about 1/2 of the juice that is created by the beef or my sauce gets too runny.) Pour in the sauce, add the blanched broccoli and bring to a boil. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, this shouldn't take long.
You can add toasted sesame seeds the last 30 seconds of cooking, if you'd like.

 Let me tell you, this dish is seriously delicious. If served with rice, this would easily serve 4.

So, moving along, Let's Talk Idol!

I've been rooting for him since day one. I think he is immensely talented. I've said how adorable and sweet I think he is about 100 times. Who am I voting for to be the next American Idol? Yup, Lee! He is this years most improved by leaps and bounds. Crystal is still so, so good and I still really like Casey, but they have been on a plateau for weeks. Lee just keeps climbing the proverbial mountain. And Simon definitely did him a huge favor by picking "Hallelujah" for him to sing last night. In the words of Kara, he "owned it".

Well, that's all I've got for today! If you stumble across my humble little blog here, leave me a comment and let me know where you are reading from!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Strawberry Summer Salad

 This is Ryan's very favorite dressing and my favorite salad to serve in the summer. Lucky for you, I'm going to share it. ;)

Strawberry Summer Salad

1 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp pepper

1 pint sliced strawberries
1 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c sliced, toasted almonds
lettuce (you can determine how much lettuce is enough)

Mix dressing ingredients (I have a plastic dressing mixer, pictured below) and shake until combined. I make this at least 2 hours before so the sugar completely dissolves. Refrigerate until ready to use and then obviously shake well right before using.

Slice strawberries and place in a paper towel lined colander and allow to sweat. Meanwhile, roughly chop lettuce and toast almonds. Mix lettuce, strawberries, almonds and mozzarella. Top with dressing right before serving!

This is what the dressing should look like. As you'll see, we are running low. Hey, if this gets my carnivore hubby to scarf down salad, I'll keep making it!


This salad will not disappoint. I promise!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taco Soup!

One of my favorite things that Ryan makes is Taco Soup. Last week, he gave me the sacred recipe. Shame on him...cause now, it's going public. ;)

Ryan's Taco Soup

1lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 can corn
1 can black or kidney beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 taco seasoning packet
1 ranch seasoning packet
1 can beer (any kind. if you don't consume alcohol, use O'Douls)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 a small onion, minced
4-6 Tbsp salsa
Cayenne to taste
Cilantro to taste

Cook and drain meat in a large soup pot. After draining meat, melt butter in pot, add garlic and onion and cook until tender. Add meat back in and stir. Add corn with 1/2 the juice from the can, beans, diced tomatoes, 1/2 the beef broth, beer, ranch and taco packets, and salsa. Stir well and let simmer. Add the rest of the beef broth as needed to get to your ideal soup consistency. Add chopped cilantro and cayenne to taste. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Top with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc.

It's a real crowd pleaser!! Enjoy!! :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

It's been a while since we've had a weekend worth "wrapping up" but I'm happy to bring this segment back!

Saturday, we went to Ryan's parent's house for Mother's Day lunch with them. I made my "famous" Summer Strawberry Salad (I'll post the recipe soon) and Ryan cooked up steaks and salmon. I'd stayed up late Friday night working on the Mother's Day gift and dessert all-in-one. I have to give props to Amanda at i am baker for the inspiration. (She does the most creative things with baked goods.) I feel like I did a pretty good job, considering I've piped icing like twice in my life.
I wrapped Susan's up like a present...or tried to. And as you can probably tell, after she took it all apart to look at each cookie, the two on the very bottom got pretty smashed. It wasn't exactly how I pictured it, but she still loved it.

After lunch Ryan & I came home (and I took a nap) and got ready to go out to Denton to see our friend Danny's new band. They were GREAT. After we all came back to our place because I had recorded Betty White on SNL. It made for a really fun (and really late) night.

Ryan & I at our apartment before heading to Denton

With two of my best friends; Kim and Brittany

The band was rockin'!

Ryan is going to kill me for posting this picture of him about to blink ;)

So, when we finally got up on Sunday, I called my Mom to see what time she was coming over for dinner and she was really not feeling well so I insisted she stay home and rest and I brought over her cookie gift. Since I wasn't happy with the way they traveled all tied together, I just put hers out on a platter. They traveled much better that way.

With the exception of my Mom not feeling well on Mother's Day, it was one great weekend!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Whatever Wednesday

So, a blog I used to follow (it no longer exists) did a bit called "Whatever Wednesday". Pretty self explanatory; you blog about any random thing that maybe doesn't merit its own post. Quite similar to Holly's Monday Potluck only without set topics.

I have found recently that I have more and more I want to blog about, I even start to write, but then I feel it falls short of a full post, so I delete it and move on. Then, when talking to a friend about blogging, I remembered Whatever Wednesday!

Since American Idol is coming to it's season end, and since my wrap-ups have become the same old post every week (let's face it, we all know who I like by now) and will add my line or two here: I think Mike and Lee were the best this week. I think Aaron or Casey will go home. I think it should be Casey, Crystal, Mike and Lee in the top 4.

Moving on. Ryan & I are both iPhone users/lovers. I don't think I'll ever love another phone as much. Yes, I realize its silly to love a phone. If you have one, you understand. So, I've had AT&T for 11 years now and I am faithful. I've never strayed. Ryan has bounced around from plan to plan, well, until me. I vowed to be AT&T till I die. Or they do. Which ever came first. Back to the point, a few months ago Apple announced the release of the oh-so-amazing iPhone HD 4G for June. Ryan & I immediately freaked (in a good way) when we saw both our contracts would be up this summer and we could both get the new iPhone. Then, the unthinkable happened. Apple also announced that this oh-so-amazing iPhone HD 4G would be releasing exclusively with...VERIZON?! Break my tech-savvy heart, why don't you?! Ryan shrugged. No problem. We'll just switch to Verizon. Um, PROBLEM! I'm nothing if not loyal. This has proven to be a heated topic in the Naslund household. To date, we've yet to make a decision as to what we will do come June...

Next up. Lately, I've been really into old pictures. Especially of my parents. And recently, I've been given pictures of them I'd never seen before.
Here is one of my gorgeous Mom when she was a junior or senior in high school.

Seriously. How beautiful is she?!

And one of my super handsome Dad when he was 20. Sorry if the shirtless thing is weird.

That was his dog, Thor.

For me, its crazy to look at the features Frankie & I got from them. We both have my Dad's thick, dark, curly hair (which inevitably turns silver) and his chin. We both have my Mom's eyes, eyebrows, lips and smile. I have my Dad's nose. Frankie has my Mom's. I can't wait to see what my future kiddos take from that mosh of features!

So - that's about all I have to say in this week's Whatever Wednesday! Turned out to be a pretty long post, but I got out all the randomness I wanted! :)


Monday, May 3, 2010


I've been hearing this word way too much lately.

I feel like it's surrounding my friends and family.

I HATE that word.

Yesterday, we celebrated my Dad's 59th birthday, and spoke briefly about his battle, and how grateful I am that he won and is now cancer free.

Today, my cousin Steve heads to MD Anderson in Houston to learn of options to fight his leiomyosarc​oma, a very rare form of cancer. For anyone who would like to be kept in the loop, please see his Caring Bridge site.

Last night, Ryan received a phone call to let him know his Aunt Peggy has follicular lymphoma, also a rare form of cancer. She was a cancer survivor before this most recent news.

It makes me feel angry, sad, scared, helpless.

My Dad used to say "If you live long enough, everyone gets cancer." That used to be an acceptable rationalization for me, but now it seems out dated. More and more people, of all ages and health, are being affected by this heinous disease.

There was no real point to this poorly written post other then to vent...because cancer SUCKS.