Monday, October 31, 2011

Modified Mulligatawny

When we went to The Harmony Inn for dinner, I had one of the soups as part of my meal.  It was so amazingly delicious, the problem was none of the staff could get the name right.  Millet Mollie?  Chicken Mulligan? Chicken  Megan Mullally?  At this rate, I knew I would never find a recipe for it, since we had no clue what it was named.  On a whim, I asked one of the staff members if the cooks would be willing to share the recipe, and, they did!  It was called Chicken Mulligatawy.  However, I was sad to see the ingredient list included both milk and heavy cream.  I am trying to delete a lot of dairy from my diet, and cows milk and heavy cream would be terrible for me.  So, today, I decided to try to replicate the soup in a healthier way.

First off, I put chicken breast tenders on to boil.  I know, I know, not the tastiest way to prepare chicken, but it is healthy, and there will be plenty of flavor added on later.  While that was boiling, I got busy chopping my other ingredients.


I put about 1/4 cup of chicken broth in a pot, then added each of the following as I chopped them:



Granny Smith Apple

D'anjou pear


I added 1/4 tbsp curry powder at this time as well.

Once the chicken was fully cooked, I chopped it up, and added it in the curried mixture.  I also added 1/2 cup jasmine rice (I precooked it slightly, having learned my lesson with the stuffed pepper soup).

In order to give the soup a nice creamy texture, I added cream of chicken soup, as well as more chicken broth.

Some more curry, a little salt, and a lot of black pepper, and we are almost done.  One last secret ingredient.


This is coconut manna.  It is high in fiber, and has good fats in it, plus it adds a bit of creamy richness.  I used just a little, 1/2 tbsp.  That was all it needed.

I let this cook until bubbly, the reduced to simmer for 45-60 minutes.  I cannot wait to have it for dinner.


1 lb chicken breast tenders, boiled
1 c celery
half a medium yellow onion
1 medium granny smith apple
1 medium green d'anjou pear
2 cups cubed peeled eggplant
2.5 cups fat free chicken broth, divided
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup jasmine rice 
2 cans 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp coconut manna

For those curious here is some nutrition info.  These are approximations using an online nutritional calculator.
Serving size: 1.25 cups
Calories: 240
Carbs: 33g
Fat: 4g
Protein: 19g
Fiber: 7 g
WWPlus points: 6

Let me know if any of you try this, and what you think.  Should I change any of it?

Explorations: Northern Nightmares

Each year, Hubby and I try to do something spooky during October.  In the past we have gone to Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood. , and last year we went to the Scarehouse.  So we were looking for something new and different to do this year.  Boy howdy, did we find it.

While doing some online searching I located an attraction in Butler County called the Northern Nightmares Tour.  This trolley tour went all over Zelionople and Harmony, pointing out allegedly haunted sites, and telling local ghost tales.  This sounded right up our alley, so, on Saturday afternoon, we headed out.

Since we headed out early, and planned on being gone for a while, we started with dinner at The Harmony Inn.  For any local folks reading, if you have not tried this place I really urge you to go.  We went last winter for lunch, and we were impressed then.  We were doubly impressed with their dinner menu.  Really unique menu items, and the food was delicious.  Plus, the ambiance is really cool.


 The Harmony Inn is a haunted location, and after we ate, the staff let us explore, even allowing us in the attic.  It was really spooky.



After we were done with dinner, we headed off to catch the trolley tour.  It was a nice, small trolley, and was really comfortable.  The spooky tour guide was the executive director of the Strand Theater, and he told us lots of amazing and creepy tales along our 45 minute tour.  I do not want to spoil it for you, since I really hope  my local readers will go next year, but there were some interesting twists along the way.



Our last tour stop was the Strand Theater.  At this point, for most, the tour was over.  But for Hubby and I, we still had a bit of excitement.  You see, that night, the Strand was showing Night of the Living Dead, which many know was filmed locally in Evans City.


 The proceeds went to a group trying to save the Evan's City Cemetary Chapel, which you see in the film.  I love horror films, particularly ones filmed locally, and I have visited the Evan's City Cemetery to revel in the movie nostalgia.  So, we decided to go to the viewing.  Imagine my surprise when we learned the 3 original cast and crew members were there to speak to us.  How exciting.  Russell Streiner (Johnny), his brother Gary Streiner (a sound engineer on the film) and Ella Mae Smith (an Evans City resident who played a zombie).


It was so amazing to be there to hear them speak, and this moment right here made it totally worth it:

The theater has been restored beautifully, and we loved seeing the movie on the big screen. We got to sit in the balcony, which in and of itself was a really cool experience. Finally, we were ready to head out, but we had one last thing to do.  Out admission also gave us a free raffle ticket for a raffle of some movie posters.  Guess who won a poster?  Hubby!


All in all, the had a magically spooky night, one I am not likely to forget for a long time.

Notice two of the pictures are full of fuzzy orbs.  As much as I would love to say this was spectral evidence, it was merely fog and mist.  For more pics, go here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

That awkward moment when no one gets your Halloween costume...

Hubby and I are total nerds, no doubt about it.  We watch nerdy shows, we have nerdy hobbies, and we like nerdy activities.  Including a few video games.  One of our favorite games is called Plants vs. Zombies.  It is one of the few games that appeals to both of us.

Last year, I jokingly suggested that we use this game to inspire our Halloween Costumes.  But we didn't, we went as Sookie and Bill from True Blood instead.  Brilliant costumes, I might add.  A bit over the top, but brilliant none the less.

When it came time to plan our costumes from this year, we had some backup costumes, but I really wanted to do the Plants vs. Zombies idea.  So, we hunted and hunted for the appropriate clothing for him, and green sweats for me.  I made my little flower headband, and even a sun for my sun power (those who play the game know what I mean).  Finally, the day of our friends' party came, and we prepared.  I did the greatest makeup job I have ever done on Hubby, and what a trooper he was too.

I did my own makeup, and then, we put on the rest of the costumes.  I thought we looked amazing.

Here we are with our counterparts from the game.  Hubby is spot on I think.
Picnik collage

buckethead collage


So, we get to the party, and..... crickets crickets crickets.  No one understood our costumes.  Not. A. Single. Person.

People thought I was a flower, he was a weirdo with a bucket on his head.  No one got the cultural reference at all.

The closest guess we got was "pushing up daisies".  Wah wah waaaaaaah.

Maybe we should have done something a little more current events themed.  Like this guy, who came as Occupy Wall Street.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

I have been really lax lately with my blogging, and there are a few reasons.  First of all, I set the crazy goal to read and review 200 books this year over on my book blog.  Nuts right?  I just finished reading book 150, and have been busting my butt to make sure I meet this goal.  So, that is keeping me pretty busy.  Also, well, I have just sort of lost heart with my blog.  I feel like I have nothing new to say, and have strayed from my original intentions a bit.  So, I am not sure what the future will hold for this blog, and I may not be posting here as often.

But to make up for my absence, I come bearing a gift.  It is the recipe for what is now my favorite soup ever!  I made it Sunday, and we just finished it last night!

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup.

1 lb ground turkey
2 large green peppers
1 small onion
1 large can (28 or 30 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 large can (28 or 30 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup rice
2 1/4 cups water
4 tbsp brown sugar
salt, pepper, parsley flakes

1.  Brown the ground turkey in skillet.  I browned mine with 2 cloves of garlic and some pepper, just to give it some flavor.

2.  While meat is cooking, chop up green peppers and onion, and put in large soup pot.  I used a dutch oven.

3.  When meat is completely browned, drain and add to soup pot with peppers and onions.

4.  Add the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.

5.  Add 1 cup rice.  I used brown rice, and it ended up still being slightly hard when soup was cooked, so you may either want to use a minute rice, or just pre-cook the rice for just a few minutes.

6.  Add 2 1/4 cups water.

7.  Add 4 tbsp. brown sugar.

8.  Add salt, pepper, and parsley to your taste.  I use very little salt, and it was fine.

9.  Stir pot and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour on stovetop.

There you go!  Easy, delicious, and healthy!  We made a packed of instant potatoes (the ones that are 80 calories a serving) and ate the soup with a scoop of mashed potatoes in it.  It was so delicious, and made a TON.  Seriously, last night was the 4th meal we got from it!

You can easily adjust this recipe to your taste (more meat, more peppers, etc).  You could garnish with cheese, or a little sour cream, whatever you prefer.  It was so delicious, I am sad to see it gone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How time flies

So, can you believe Sunday was my second wedding anniversary?  I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone!

Unfortunately, the weather was not very nice this past weekend, so our original plans to go to a fall festival got scrapped.  Instead we went to dinner in Pittsburgh on Saturday, and Sunday we just stayed in the house.

I was so excited to give Hubby his gift, I got him an HP Netbook (thanks again Rhonda!).  He loved it, he was so excited all he could say was "oh my goodness, it's a THING", it was so cute.

He had given me the big part of my gift early, which was a Keurig.  I am already completely in love with it!  But on Sunday, he also gave me some coffee for it, Glee Karaoke Revolution II, the movie Bridesmaids, a Jonathon Coulton t shirt, and more importantly, 2 boxes of Count Chocula cereal.  Considering I have been trying since February to get this (even tried ordering online), I was SO excited over this.  I just love how he knows what special things to do to make me feel so loved.

Who knew 6 years ago, when I first was befriended by him, that he would end up bringing me so much happiness?