Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sweet Tomato Chicken and Barley Corn Salad...WIN!

Oh my bleep, a revelation in vinaigrette. By the way, I learned how to spell vinaigrette while typing this post.

I read Kristin's Iowa Girl Eats Blog pretty regularly, she always has good recipe ideas and some funny things to say. A recent recipe post was about cherry tomato vinaigrette (homemade!) sounded delicious, and I usually try to make interesting recipes on Wednesdays because Little Seester comes over for dinner on Wednesdays. She works hard, and deserves a little tummy therapy, right? She also likes to tell really gross hospital stories during dinner. Blarf.

I sort of followed this recipe. Closer than I usually follow recipes, and it was pretty darn good! *patpatontheback*

The tomato vinaigrette was surprisingly easy! I usually forgo salad dressing and just toss in olive oil because I'm lazy for health purposes, but this one could be a repeat. Just throw it all in the food processor and blend!

Cherry tomatoes (sweeter than regular, worth it), a little red onion, a little garlic.

Red wine vinegar...

Lemon juice...(don't judge me. I usually use fresh lemons, but this has been waiting to get used up for a while.)

Olive oil, salt and pepper. Zip zip. Doesn't look like a whole lot, but it was sweet, and tomato-ey, and tart like lemon, and zippy like vinegar. Delish. Plus it worked double-time as a marinade for the chicken!

 Thighs were on sale. I know, I know, breasts are healthier, but I like a good deal on chicken.

Half of the vinaigrette goes on the chicken, the other half is saved for the salad. This just sat in the fridge for about 45 minutes while I moved onto the salad portion of the recipe. 

Again, super easy! Hello, barley! Nice to meet you. How you doin. My first barley experience. I am no longer a barley virgin.

This post is getting dirty. Moving on.

While that was cooking away, I just piled a bunch of veggies into a bowl (red onion, the rest of the tomatoes, some corn, some black beans). The recipe called for bacon. I might piss some people off, but I don't do bacon. Hubby has resigned himself to a bacon-less home life.

Once the barley was done, drained, and cooled a little, I just tossed it in along with the veggies, the rest of the vinaigrette, a little diced avocado, and some fresh parsley from the garden. Yum Yum.

I prevailed upon Hubs's grill expertise for the chicken. HE IS MAN. HE WILL GRILL.

Finished product!! IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! Check out the link at the top of the post for the actual recipe. I can't be bothered with measurements most of the time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary Date Night!

Over the 6-year hump are we!

Hubs and I started dating 6 years ago, then forgot when we started dating, then arbitrarily picked July 23rd as our anniversary. Of course, now that we're married we have a new "official" anniversary, but I like more (rather than less) reasons to celebrate!!

Also, we've put in a lot of time into this relationship, recognize. *gangsta-hands*

Hubby and I have sub-consciously distinguished this anniversary from our wedding anniversary by re-naming it.

(Preface: the two of us are really into bears. Like, bears are my favorite animal, we call each other "bear", we call our friends "Insertname-bear". It's mildly obsessive.)

So yesterday we went out to dinner to celebrate our 6th Anni-BEAR-sary.

Cheesy? Maybe. Hilarious? Yes.

 We went to Tom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen last night. Hubby made reservations!! What? He planned ahead! I was in disbelief pleasantly baffled by that fact. I also was pleasantly baffled by the lady in the parking garage who complimented my $12 Old Navy sundress, then was disappointed when I informed her it was from Old Navy. That's right, I am cheap and classy. And sassy.

I digress.

Dinner started with cocktails. Duh.

I had my good old standby, Crispin Honeycrisp hard apple cider. It's delicious. I had to restrain myself from chugging it all before the food came.

 Hubbles had.....THE KOREAN HUSTLE!!! We got excited when we saw it on the menu.

It's made of Soju...Hubs loved it! So refreshing and boozy at the same time!

We got beef tenderloin spring rolls to start. Hubby will order anything that comes with peanut sauce. Then attempt to lick the plate clean.

For dinner I got two deliciously deep-fried soft-shell crabs. NOMNOMNOM.

Hubs went a little AZIAN and ordered the AZIAN burger. It came with a side of kimchi!!

I felt like running around the restaurant yelling "VIVA KOREA" after that dinner. Even though we both agreed the kimchi was not as good as we've had in the past.

Happy Anni-bear-sary Hubby, I pulled the Korean Hustle on you, getting you to stay with me for 6 fabulous years!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who needs a radio....

When you have a silly man in your house?

The other day, I was in the shower and feeling demanding. I called forth for Hubbles, who came trotting into the bathroom, and informed him that I wanted to listen to music in the bathroom during my shower session, and that I expected him to sing for me.

I thought I was being pretty cute.

Except that Hubs one-upped me in the silly factor. He immediately charged out of the bathroom, then reappeared moments later with his guitar.

I proceeded to scrub-a-dub away to the sounds of my Hubs wailing away on his guitar--some of the songs were recognizable, some were just jibber-jabber--for the duration of my shower.

Har har har har, we crack ourselves up.

He's a cutie, that husband of mine! He also really likes to wear hats.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Camping with the Brunners!

This weekend Hubs and I embarked upon a trip to Wisconsin to join his parents and family and friends in a Brunner camping trip!

Well, I think it's camping. Camping for me is sleeping in a tent. Camping for other people means hiking up a mountain and gathering nuts and berries and creating a shelter out of pine trees. I'm not outdoorsy by any means. So I believe what we did this weekend was camping.

ain't it the truth?
Anyway, Mike's parents and a group of their friends like to travel around to different campgrounds in Wisconsin during the summer and park their RV's for a weekend, cook some good food, drink some beers, and have a relaxing time. This time we managed not only to reunite with his parents, but with Mike's step-sister and step-brother, and their respective squeezes. One big happy family reunion!!

I was actually pretty excited about it. All "the kids" in the family really do get along really well, we spend a lot of time just cracking each other up, and it was great to see everyone and not have to do a whole lot besides sit in a foldable chair and drink beverages while soaking up the sun. And watch my brother-in-law comb his curly mop into a mushroom-style 'fro.

 Clearly we were totally roughing it. Pooltime with the fam was great, especially since it was about 95 degrees out. We'd all gone to the local flea market in the morning and we were hotsie totsie and all dusty and sweaty.

Pooltime was followed by potluck-style dinner with the whole gang and relaxation.

Saturday night the campground hosted a karaoke night, so we trotted down to the "music hall" to check it out.

I'm pretty sure the two highlights of karaoke were my Hubs getting up to sing "Ice Ice Baby" complete with dance moves, and the muscular young guy who sang a ridiculously off-key version of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe". Sandwiched in between some of the worst (or best, depending on your perspective) karaoke performances on that side of the Mississippi.

Great weekend! Great fun! Back to work everyone!

P.S. Hubbles is awesome because...he loves to get up and sing karaoke...and always brings down the house.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet Summer Date Night

What a glorious summer it's been here in Minnesota, everyone!

In the aftermath of the stinky heat wave we experienced, and the amount of complaining I did about it during that week of humid, hot, sweaty, outdoor sauna-ness, I came to the realization that I spend too much time getting irritated with weather conditions I have no control over.

What good does it do to complain about weather? None. Wastes my energy. So, I decided I was going to be more conscious about enjoying weather and the great things in life this summer, rather than complaining that the air conditioning wasn't cold enough like a first-world brat. :)

Tirade aside, it really was a beautiful night yesterday. Warm, and breezy, and sunny, and peaceful. Hubs and I took advantage of that and had a sweet little neighborhood date night.

Place: Hazel's Northeast and the Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood

Event: Delicious dinner and a relaxing walk-n-talk afterwards

Hazel's is one of my favorite places to eat. They're a little neighborhood cafe just two blocks from where Hubs and I live, and they do really good, homey, yet just-a-bit-fancy food there. I die for their breakfasts...but last night it was all about dinner.

Started off with a bottle of one of my FAVE drinks for the summer, an ice cold Crispin Honeycrisp hard apple cider. I had to pace myself. It's a big bottle. And yes, I did drink it all.

We started off with deep fried cajun pickle chips. Listen everyone, if you like pickles, there is no way you will not like breaded and fried pickles. These were appropriately delish.

I had a vegan black bean burger with guacamole and Hazel's melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato fries. NOM NOM NOM.

Hubby wouldn't let me take any pictures of him or his food last night. You'll have to make do with mine!

After dinner we took a relaxing stroll in the waning sunlight and enjoyed the summer breeze and each other's company. I always manage to have great, sweet, sometimes hilarious conversations with my Hubs. And that's one of the best parts of dating your husband I think.

Here's the middle school in our neighborhood. Kids riding their bikes and running around is sometimes annoying, but not on a night like this.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fourth of July Cake Fail

In order to celebrate America's 236th birthday this year, I was pin-spired (read: inspired by yet another pin I saw on Pinterest) to bake a cake! 

You guys, I AM NOT a baker. When baked goods are in need, I use boxed mixes. I was born with some sort of defect that makes me incapable of following recipes, and this trait does not make for good baking skillz.

HOWEVER, this picture of strawberry coconut cake was too much for me to resist:

See what I mean? I don't even like coconut that much, and I wanted to eat my computer screen. Thus begins the Great Brunner Independence Day Cake Fail of 2012. I should preface all of this by reminding you that here in MN on July 4th it was about 107 degrees outside. No exaggeration.

Everything started out great. I even got motivated by the recipe and pureed and diced strawberries like a professional.

Mixy mixy...Adding nommy ingredients. I was so jacked up for this cake that I didn't even mind preheating the oven-and as a result, my entire kitchen-to 350 degrees.

I had so much hope for these babies!

Post-bake is when disaster began. See the cake on the right? Yeeaaahhh, it's in pieces. I dropped it.

Oops. I was kind of hoping that icing everything together would solve my problem. Forgetting, of course that it was 107 degrees outside, no way anything icing-related was setting up in this heat.

Looks okay, though, right? I smushed it all together. With icing...and several toothpicks. It still kind of slid apart.

You know what, it tasted great still. Maybe I can convert this into a cupcake recipe. Because making a layer cake is clearly not in my wheelhouse of talents. Haha.

Let's compare:


vs. Insane Pinterest picture:


Oh my jeebus, you guys, you have no idea how much this made me laugh at my sad baking self. I took pictures fully intending to post immediately about a fabulous strawberry took 4 days for the shame to subside. But at least it was funny and delicious, if not aesthetically pleasing.

Happy Birthday America!

If you feel like you can do better than me (probably wouldn't be hard), click here for the original post where I got this recipe.