Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

Friday, how I love you / anxiously await you and whine the entire week until you get here! No, but really, I'm super glad its Friday. All week I could just feel the 3 day holiday weekend approaching. It was creeping along soooo slow, I almost couldn't stand it. But, its finally here. Hooray! I absolutely love having time off, just like everyone. Time to spend however my little heart desires. Its pure bliss...
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Not only is it Memorial Day Weekend (Thank you veterans for all you've done for our great, but struggling country. We appreciate each of you and your families.), but the weather man tells me its going to be pretty fabulous weather, too. I've been so anxious for time outside this weekend that I finally just walked out into the front yard and just looked around. Ha! (Which, by the way, our hydrangeas are blooming quite nicely right now and are just down right beautiful. My faves. Pictues later.) Aaron finally came outside to see what in the world I was doing and we decided to take a walk. It was heavenly...
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So, what do we have in store for this weekend? I'm pretty sure we have cook-out plans with both families. No confirmed days or times, yet, which is completely normal for the Langley and Hilborns crews! Ha! And, we are also going to be doing a little bit of this...
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We have gone every year since we started dating. Its kind of like a tradition. We even still have all of the buttons from years past! We both love to go out there in the evening when its cooled off, just to sit back, relax, and watch the shows. Riverfest usually has some pretty good artists on their line-up and this year appears to be no different.

Central Arkansas.....here we come! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

XOXO

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cashew Chicken Stirfry

I am a huge lover of Chinese/Asian/Japanese food. Huge. When Aaron and I started dating, he hated even the thought of it. Unfortunately for him, my family frequently got take out from a local Chinese restaurant, so he pretty much had to try it. Well, guess what??? He loves it almost more than I do now!
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On Monday, I finally tried my hand at stirfry. What did I find out? I found out that its pretty easy and lots of fun to cook! Just watch out for the hot oil that leaps out of the pan frequently :) We don't have a wok, so I used our Calphalon Deep Fry Pan and it work just fine.
Here is the recipe I tried with my adaptations:
CASHEW CHICKEN STIR-FRY

Ingredients for marinade:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg white

1 cup vegetable oil for cooking chicken

Ingredients for vegetables:
2 tbsp fresh, minced ginger root
3 green onions, chopped
1 green pepper julianned
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
8 oz water chestnuts sliced
2 cups roasted, salted cashews

Ingrediets for sauce:
3 tbsp white vinegar
6 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar

Directions:
Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Place in medium bowl. Combine marinade ingredients and mix well. Pour marinade over chicken and toss to coat. Refridgerate for 3o minutes.

In a wok or large, deep skillet, heat 1 cup of vegetable oil over high heat for 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook until golden brown. Remove chicken from oil and place on paper towel lined plate to help remove excess oil.

Discard all but 2 tbsp of the oil the chicken was cooked in. Reheat wok to medium heat. Toss in vegetables and cashews. Cook until the vegetables are slightly tender, yet still slightly crisp.

Combine ingredients for the sauce and pour into the wok. Toss to coat vegetables and cashews. Continue cooking until the sauce comes to a boil. ***The vegetables tend to soak up some of the sauce (and we like sauce!), so I decided to triple the sauce ingredients. It worked out really well and there was plenty of sauce leftover to pour extra over the rice.***

Once boiling, add in the chicken and toss to coat. Serve over white or brown steamed rice. This dish easily serves 4 large helpings.

We absolutely LOVED this dish. My sweet husband even mentioned he thought it tasted like something that could be served in a restaurat. Awwww! Ha! He must have just been hungry ;)
XOXO

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fruit Tart

I know I've said this a few times before, but I can not express how much I am loving cooking right now! I've always enjoyed cooking, but not too long ago, I began reading lots of Foodie Blogs. Ever since then, I have been obsessed with trying out fun, new recipes. If you haven't read many Foodie Blogs (blogs where people try a recipe, tell about it, maybe show it step by step in pictures, and then give there criticism) then check out some of the ones I have links for over to the right. There are lots of great ones, but those are some of my favorites.


A week or so ago, I finally got around to making a Fruit Tart. Lots of the Foodie Bloggers that I follow had been making them. They looked absolutely divine and sounded so easy! So, I gave it a whirl. And guess what??? They ARE divine and easy! Here's how I made mine:



FRUIT TART

Ingredients:
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tbsp sugar
1 box cook and serve lemon pudding/pie filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg yolks
2 cups water
fruit of choice (I used strawberries, kiwis, blue berries, and raspberries)
3 tbsp Apricot preserves
1 tbsp water

Directions:
Prepare pie crust in a tart pan with a removable bottom. The pie crust usually comes with 2 in a pack. Use the second pie crust to cover the areas of the tart pan that the first one could not reach. Be careful not to stretch the pie crusts (this will cause them to tear during baking). Simply press the seam between the two pie crusts to insure it does not seperate during cooking. Sprinkle the 1 tbsp sugar over the dough. Using a fork, poke several holes in the dough to prevent it from changing shape during cooking.
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To prepare the filling, combine the pudding mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and egg yolks in a medium sauce pan. Blend well. Stir in 2 cups of water and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture boils. Make sure to stir constantly. Once the fillig begins to boil, remove from heat and allow to cool fo 5 minutes. After filling has cooled pour it into the tart shell and refrigerate until set. Once the filling has set, arrange the sliced fruit on top.
For the glaze, combine the apricot preserves and 1 tbsp of water. Brush glaze over the top of the fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (The glaze helps protect the fruit and also gives it a nice shiny appearance.)
(I would highly recommend serving this tart the day you prepare it. The tart crust seemed to get soggy over time, even after basting it with apricot preserves before pouring in the filling, as suggested by several Foodie Bloggers.)


This tart is perfect for summer time! It is light, refreshing, and absolutely gorgeous. Aaron and I highly recommend it! You can try any of your favorite fruits, just make sure to think about the texture. Generally apples aren't a great idea for this tart because of the crunchiness. If you do use them, make sure you brush the apples with lime juice or lime soda to prevent browning.

XOXO

Monday, May 24, 2010

Weekend Recap

{sigh}.....We are winding down a super fabulous weekend and I can't help but to be a little sad to see it go. What did we do?

FRIDAY:
We took a short nap after work on Friday, which by the way we are HUGE fans of naps! When we finally got around we went to dinner and then to see the movie Iron Man 2. By the way, have you seen all of the Iron Man gear out in stores right now? Aaron and I were in Target on Sunday and were amazed at the amount of Iron Man garb filling the ends of isles and all the shelves inbetween. Its mad!

SATURDAY:
Our neighborhood had a a "neighborhood wide" yard sale event. We knew the day was supposed to be gorgeous, so we got up early to go walk around and see who all was out and who had a sale. Much to my surprise, I made a purchase! Ha! A sweet little family was selling tons of little girls clothing and toys. But, in the middle of one of their tables were 3 crystal candle holders. They were pretty dusty, but I assumed that after a good scrub and washing they would look sparkley again. Well, I was right! I got all 3 for only $6. Now I'm not a yard sale person, so I have no idea if that's actually a deal. But, it sure felt like a steal! I scrubbed them up on Sunday and they are perfect!
When we finished walking around the neighborhood we decided to head over to the Farmer's Market at our town's square. We had never been to this Farmer's Market until then, but I loved it! Aaron's not exactly a morning person, so generally we don't do much on Saturday until lunchtime. But, knowing the weather was going to be perfect after having so much rain, I HAD to be out and about! So, he sweetly gave in to my requests :) I was hoping the vendors would have lots of fresh strawberries, but I guess its still too early. Mid-summer is always my favorite because of all the fresh fruits and vegetables like peaches, strawberries, blackberries, squash, and okra. I can't wait! The vendors did, however, have TONS of fresh flowers. They were gorgeous, especially the peonies (my favorite!). Unfortunately, I have no pictures. For once, I decided to enjoy most of the day without looking through a camera lens :) I'm still wishing I had pictures though....

Next we drove over to Rick's Bakery for a late breakfast. It of course was to die for! If you haven't tried one of their strawberry cake doughnuts, you are truly missing out! Ha!

We, then, made our way home to freshen up for the next activity. The Benton Panther's softball team was in the State Finals. They were playing Mountain Home for the 6A State Championship. Unfortunately, the Panther's couldn't quite pull it off. They played a great game and the seniors should be proud! Even though Benton didn't win, it was great getting to see friends from our home town and to enjoy more time outside. It was, however,hotter than Hades! Turns out there was really no since in freshening up before the game after all.
After the game, we came home and took a quick nap (of course!) and then got all gussied up for Date Night! Aaron bought us tickets to go see Blue Oyster Cult in concert at the AMP (Arkansas Music Pavillion). We had the BEST time. Georgia Satellites opened for them and did fantastic! Blue Oyster Cult did soooooo good and interacted with crowd a lot which made it even better!Now, if you've ever seen the Saturday Night Live skit where Will Ferrell yells for "more cowbell" in relation to Blue Oyster Cult's song "Don't Fear The Reaper" you would have absolutely died last night! This hilarious couple infront of us brought their cowbells and shook them ALL night long, even during the opening acts! They were having the best time the whole night, and then when the band finally played that song, they went ballistic! I was dying! They hit their cowbells with a drumstick, IN SINK, for the ENTIRE length of the song. Too cute and sooooo funny! The base player who played with them last night apparently, also, played with Quiet Riot, White Snake, and Ozzy. He had the best old school rocker hair ever! He was pretty good on the base too! Ha! SUNDAY:
Sunday morning Aaron and I visited another church. To be honest, finding a church up here has been very difficult for us and I think it is really starting to take its toll. Don't get me wrong, the churches up here are fantastic and the church families are beyond kind. But, if you've ever moved and were faced with the task of finding the perfect church for your family, I'm sure you know how we feel.

When you visit a church, there are soooo many factors that go into whether or not its a church that fits you and your family. There is a certain feeling that we have been waiting for and just haven't found. Its kind of like a feeling of "just knowing." You know, like a little nudge from God to put you in the right direction :) Another thing that makes it hard, is that we tend to travel back to Benton to visit our families quite often. When we do, we always go with our family to church and, of course, experience "that feeling" while we are there. Then, when we come back up here, "that feeling" is still with us and its more obvious to notice when a church either has it, or doesn't. And let me make it clear, we KNOW that part of "that feeling" comes with being a part of a church family. It still just seems like something is missing.

The church we visited this morning gave us some of "that feeling." We only visited their morning service, but have plans to return to visit their Sunday School, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday Night Worship Services. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to try and find the church home God has planned for us. It has definetly taken us longer than either of us EVER imagined and that can definetly take a toll on one's spirit. We know that God knows where we will end up and that provides us with the peace we need.

Happy Monday :)

XOXO

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Another Family Weekend!

It is always SUPER nice when family comes up to visit us. Its not very easy to live 3 hours away from them, but we survive on the few visits that we get! Its even better when we have two family weekends in a row! It has been great. As you know, two weekends ago Aaron's family came up and we had the best time. Well, last weekend my family came up! It was perfect! We had so much fun both weekends.

Last weekend was mainly a baseball weekend for us and my family. The weather forecast was calling for rain all weekend, but some how we lucked out and got to go to all three baseball games. After the game on Friday night, they turned off the stadium lights for a firework show. It was so much fun and the music was great! If only the Razorbacks had won :( On Saturday, we of course had Rick's Bakery for breakfast followed by grilled burgers and baked beans that Aaron prepared. Delicious! After lunch, we went to the game and unfortunately lost it too, but still had a great time! After the game, we did some shopping and then went to one of my family's favorite restaurants up here, Catfish Hole. SOOOO delicious.

Next up, lots of pictures of our weekend indoors! Since there was a threat of rain and storms all weekend, I never took the rebel cam to the games. So, I only have pictures of us inside!
A nice game of Saturday night Scrabble with Aaron, Daddy-o and Ashely.
Gracie helped Aaron when he needed it, but mainly played her Nintendo DS ;)
These were some of my letters...any wonder why I didn't win??? Ha!
In the other room, there were some serious puzzle skills going down.
The puzzle was called "100 Cats and a Fish." Very intense! We finished it sometime on Sunday!
A little puppy chow (also call reindeer food) to hold us over for the weekend! Soooo good.

Sad news, we also lost on Sunday. Who knows what the deal was, but we all still had a great time! After the game, the players had an autographing session. Ashley and Gracie got there gloves and a baseball signed by the whole team. They were soooo excited!

That's our weekend wrap-up! I've tried a few new recipes lately and will be sharing those soon! Happy Hump Day!
XOXO

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SIL's Graduation!

This post will mainly be intense picture overload.....My Favorite!!!

Ashley graduated from the U of A. Her study of focus is Speech Pathology and she will begin her graduate studies in the Fall. We are all so proud of her and had such a great time celebrating her great accomplishments!
To start off the weekend, we went to dinner Friday night at Bone Fish and had a great time! Saturday afternoon, Aaron and I hosted a Pre-Graduation Luncheon for Ashley. It was so nice to have time to sit down and visit with everyone. Usually when family comes up, we are all hustling and bustling around, but with this lunch, we had a few hours to just sit and talk. A very nice change!
Ashley's graduation was held at 4:00 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. Luckily, the College of Health and Education's graduating class wasn't HUGE, so it didn't last as long as some of the others. After graduation, we stopped by Ashley's sorority house for a little photo-op!
To end the day, we all went out to dinner and had a great time! The weekend was so much fun, but went by entirely too fast!

Congratulations Ashley! We are all so proud of you and will continue to pray for you as you begin graduate school. Keep up the hard work!

XOXO

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Funny Mom's

As I was going through our wedding pictures, searching for special pictures of me and Aaron with our mothers, I ran across two that were HILARIOUS. I thought about posting the two funny pictures for Mother's Day, but thought better of it, since the day is meant to be so special.

Now.....two days later.....that's another story! The following two pictures were taken at our reception. I had no idea these two pictures even existed until two days ago! Seriously, aren't our moms hilarious?
Crack me up that Benfield Photography was hired to catch all the special moments, yet our mother's can't put down their cameras! Bless their hearts! They are just too sweet. I just love them both so much.

Tomorrow, I'm going to share more festivities from last weekend. Aaron's sister, Ashley, graduated from the U of A on Saturday. We are all so proud of her! We had lots of family up and had the best time. Can't wait to share!

XOXO

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For Our Mom's

Today is such a sweet day. A day when we can tell and show our mom's that what they do for us means the world. No, its not their birthday that we are celebrating. We are celebrating them, today, for simply loving us without ceasing. The continuous love, encouragement, support, hard work, and praise from our mom's is more meaningful to us than words can describe. We are so thankful for them both, as our mom's, our mother-in-laws, and our friends. We are blessed. (Pictures taken by the best wedding photogs around from Benfield Photography.)

Janet Langley
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Karen Hilborn

We love you both so much. Thanks for all that y'all do for us. We love you!
Happy Mother's Day!
XOXO

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo is a perfect excuse to eat LOTS of Mexican food! And eat a lot of Mexican food we did!

I had larger plans for this week, but they didn't quite pan out like I had imagined. Here was the plan: Aaron and I split up cooking nights. I cook on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. He cooks on Thursday and Sunday. Then, on Friday and Saturday, we generally go out to eat. I had plans for all 3 of my cooking days, but only 2 of them panned out. One of them didn't even require me to cook!

Monday night I cooked Beef Empanadas. They are delicious! The recipe is one Sunshine learned from a friend and then on her blog, Make Life Delicious. (By the way, if you haven't visited her, you MUST! The meal consisted of beef empanadas, mexican rice, refried beans, chips, and white cheese dip. Y'all it was SO good! Aaron and I were both miserable after eating entirely TOO much food. Totally worth it though!

Beef Empanadas

Ingredients:

1 package refridgerated pie crust
1 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese (four cheese)
1 egg (beaten)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out both pie crusts. Use a 4 inch round cookie cutter, floured, to cut out 10-12 empanada rounds.

Brown ground beef and drain well. Follow the instructions on the back of the taco seasoning mix package to prepare the meat. Add in the shredded cheese and mix well.
Spoon taco meat onto one side of the empanade round.

Lightly brush the beaten egg on one half of the edge of the empanada round. Fold the other half of the empanade round over the taco meat filling to make a .

Sounds tastey, right? I still have some in my refridgerator....maybe a late night snack :) Thalf circle. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the empanade. Repeat for the remaining empanada rounds.

Place empanadas on a cookie sheet. Evenly brush the beaten egg on the top surface of the empanada. Place in preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sounds tastey, right? These empanadas are, also, great for dipping into cheese dip or salsa. Yummmm!

Tuesday night, we went to eat with one of our good friends at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. The three of us eat there most Tuesday nights. For Wednesday's meal, the actually Cinco de Mayo, I planned on trying out the Taco Ring that I keep hearing so much about on LOTS of food blogs. Unfortunately, we are very busy around the Hilborn house. This of course equals limited time for me to spend trying out new dishes! I am definetly still going to try it. Maybe Thursday night. When I fit it into our rotation, I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out! Happy Cinco de Mayo!

XOXO

Monday, May 3, 2010

Asparagus!

There are no words to express how deeply I am loving asparagus right now. Seriously, its pathetic how often I crave it! Aaron likes it too, but its pretty obvious that he doesn't get as excited about it as I do. When we discuss what sides we are going to have with our dinner, I immediately think asparagus! By the end of spring he will totally be burnt out on those delicious green sticks! Ha!




A week or so ago, Aaron grilled some steaks for dinner. To go with it, I prepared garlic mashed red potatoes and, of course, asparagus! It turned out great! I found the recipe at this Food and Recipe Blog along with several other great ones! Here is the recipe I used.




Asparagus With Hollandaise Sauce



1 bunch of asparagus

1/4 cup water

1 packae McCormick Hollandaise Sauce mix



1. Wash asparagus spears and remove tough ends.

2. Place spears in a microwaveable-safe, rectangular shape dish. (You can, also, use an electric steamer or stove-top steamer.

3. Add water to dish.

4. Microwave on high for 6-9 minutes.

5. Prepare hollandaise sauce according to package instructions.

6. Drain water from dish or transfer asparagus to a serving platter.

7. Pour sauce over asparagus spears and serve.



This dish is SUPER easy and very delicious! What isn't delicious with hollandaise sauce! I'll share another asparagus recipe with you, soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!


XOXO