Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Cheese Tortellini Soup

Last night I made Cheese Tortellini Soup with chicken for Matt and I. It came out delicious! I've only made this once prior (which was amazing, as well) so I knew that my second time would be just as good. We usually eat off the soup for about two days (noticing a trend? For some reason it's hard for me to make meals just for two people) This recipe could be used with or without chicken, but to me, I think it taste good with the chicken.

Prep time: 40 minutes (this is just for cooking the meat)
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Serving size: 6 bowls

  • 2 chicken breast on bone
  • 1 box of Buitoni three cheese tortellini 20 oz. (find this in the refrigerator section and they also have whole wheat three cheese available if you want a more healthier meal)
  • Pepper
  • Celery (about 5 celery sticks)*
  • Carrots (about 3 large carrots)*
  • 2 Swanson Chicken Broth carton 32 oz.
*You can always add more if you want more vegetables within the soup. 

First, start out by putting your chicken breast in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Set your timer for 40 minutes to cook.While your chicken is cooking, you can use this time to prepare everything else that is needed for this meal. 
Pour the 2 Swanson Chicken Broth Cartons into a large pot. Put the burner on a simmer.
Add a generous amount of pepper. You may also add any other seasonings that you think will work well, perhaps, basil?
Now that the chicken is still cooking and the broth is going on a simmer, the next step will be the tortellini. Start boiling some water, then add the three cheese tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
When the tortellini are finished, go ahead and drain and then add to the broth mixture.

(kind of reminds me of Wonton soup, ha ha.)

During the time when the tortellini is cooking or after you add it to the broth, slice up the carrots and celery into small chunks and either A.) steam them for 15 minutes by adding a small amount of water to the pan and covering it with a lid. OR  B.) put the celery and carrots into a plastic bag or microwave bag and set the microwave for about 4 minutes to make them soft.
Once the celery and carrots are finished from which ever option was chosen, go ahead and drop them into the chicken broth.
The chicken should be finished now or almost finished. When the chicken is done, take it out of the pot and place it on a plate to let it cool for about 5 minutes before shredding it.
Once you think the chicken is cooled down enough for you to shred it, go ahead and take the chicken off the bone and then shred into pieces by pulling it apart with your hands and put the chicken into the broth mixture. 
Now that all the ingredients are in the large pot, stir around occasionally and let it cook on a low heat or simmer for 15-20 minutes. You will also notice that the noodles have probably expanded more, but that's a good thing because now you know they are well cooked and will be soft when it comes time to eating.

When the time is up or 20 minutes have passed by, it's more than likely finished since you had the pot going the entire time when the chicken was cooking. Go ahead and turn of the burner and serve. But most importantly, enjoy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

I learned how to make these mashed potatoes from my Mom. She makes the best, but I have come really close to hers that it would be a tough competition if you had both of ours on the same plate. So, I thought I would be kind enough to share this recipe, although I don't know the exact amount of what I put into it and neither does my mom; it's more of a trial and error until you think they are perfect. It took me a good 2 or 3 times before I finally figured out how much to add of what, but then again I still taste throughout to see how much I need of what.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Mash time: 5 minutes
Serving size: that depends on how many potatoes you use. 3 regular size potatoes is enough for Matt and I. When I use 4, we have leftovers to last another night.

  • Potatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Seasoning if you want to add
  • Onion
First, peel the potatoes. I have never cooked mashed potatoes with the skin on them yet, but I would like to try in the future. Once the potatoes are all peeled, slice the potatoes into small pieces (cubes will be fine) 
Put them in the pot and add water. Mix the potatoes around in the water to get some of the starch off the potatoes. Once you do that, drain the water then add new water and put the pot of potatoes on the burner. Set the burner to high so you can get the water boiling. While the water is starting to boil, go ahead and cut a slice of onion and chop that up finely and put that in the pot of potatoes (it helps add flavor). Then add salt to the potatoes; I normally do around 12-15 shakes. Set your timer to 20 minutes and heat to low/medium once it boiled.
You can check on your potatoes to see if they are soft enough by simply using a fork to see if it will go straight through one of the potato chunk. 
If the fork goes straight through the potato chunk or if it is easy to get it through, then go ahead and turn the burner off and drain the potatoes. 
Put the potatoes into the mixer and set at a low speed for about a minute until they are all mixed together.

Once the potatoes are mashed together, then go ahead and add your butter. I usually add maybe 2 spoonfuls to make them creamy. Turn the mixer onto a low speed until it's mixed together and while it is mixing, you can go ahead and add salt and pepper. I would say I add about 5-6 more shakes and then pepper I add about 4.
Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so it's being mixed together. Then if you want to add seasoning, now would be the time. I sometimes add in garlic powder or italian seasoning or paprika to give it different tastes. 
Put about a quarter of milk into a cup (less than half a cup) and stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You want your milk to still be warm so it doesn't cool down your mashed potatoes. When the milk is finished in the microwave, go ahead and pour little by little into the bowl and mix it. The milk is adjusting on how thick or thin your mashed potatoes will be.
So, if you like them thick and chunky, then obviously you wouldn't add a lot of milk or mash up the potatoes a lot. But, if you're like me and like your potatoes creamy and medium between a thick and thin, then you will mix up the potatoes and keep adding little by little milk until you feel it's the right consistency. If you are unsure if it's enough, you can always test it as you're going and adjust it by adding little at a time.

Pointer Tip:
If you feel the potatoes are bland, then you most likely need to add salt and some pepper. 
If you feel like it's too chunky, then you didn't mix it well enough so turn the speed up to a higher speed for a minute or so.
If you feel like it's not creamy enough, then add a little bit more butter. 
Like I said before, it's all trial and error and really hard to judge on how exactly I make it because it's different every time. Once you do find that perfect taste, it will be easier for you to know how much to add next time until you get it right every time!

Pork Chops, Broccoli and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beach Day

Yesterday, Matt and I went to the beach. 2nd weekend in a row! The weather is getting hotter and hotter (finally). For next weekend it's supposed to be sunny with no clouds and high 74! Great 4th of July weekend if you ask me.
So, we hung out at the beach for about 2-2.5 hours and it was only 71 degrees with clouds everywhere and yet, I come home red as ever. I am in pain. It even hurts to walk. Luckily, it is only on one side of my body, but still I rather not be sunburnt. I am definitely buying some sunscreen before we go next weekend. I just hope I don't peel and it turns into a tan like Matt always gets. Speaking of Matt, I am sending him out to pick up some Aloe when he gets his haircut. Definitely not wearing any normal clothes.
Also yesterday, Matt and I went to the movies to see "Bad Teacher". It was a good movie and pretty funny too! Has anyone watched Tron: Legacy (the new one, not the older one)? If not, you must. I really enjoyed that movie and thought it was good. I don't know what's happening to me but I am starting to like more sci-fi and action movies a lot lately.
Today we were supposed to go rock climbing but we both agreed since we got a little burnt yesterday at the beach, that today we would just hang out in the house watching movies, playing games, laundry, cleaning.. etc. Next weekend though we will go. I did promise him.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

There's An App For That

Yes, I am talking about the iPhone. Matt and I were eligible for upgrades on June 9th. Well, I technically was back in April but I decided to wait. I told myself if I passed the state exam; which, I did and you can read about it here, that I will finally get my phone upgraded to an iPhone. So, yesterday evening Matt and I went to the At&t store to get iPhones. We were looking at getting a refurbished one since it's way cheaper but they don't carry any at the store and so we calculated it out and it would have been the same price to get the brand new iPhone 3 at the store. (Online it's 19.99 but then you only are under a 90 day warranty so you would most likely want to buy an additional warranty and then the sales tax is on the full value of the phone which I NEVER knew before!) I was really looking at the iPhone 4 in the beginning since it was $99 but the only difference is:
1.) facetime that I will hardly ever use
2.) 2 more megapixels
3.) a little bit faster processing system
4.) the width is slightly different.
5.) HD recording which would probably be hardly used as well

And once we learned that we would have to pay sales tax for the full value that iPhone 4 for $99 would be more like $150. And the iPhone 3 from $49 would be $99 so without hesitation we got the iPhone 3.
We are officially in with the times by having a smartphone! Although, some might think we are behind since we don't have the iPhone 4 and especially whenever that iPhone 5 is out in the market we will be 2 generations behind.. oh no! what will ever happen! (sarcasm much?) We are definitely in love with our phones though. It was a great purchase. We played around with them, added apps, and just text each other because we can do that. After we got our phones and our phone cases (which seemed to take about 2 or so hours in the store)
That is really what our phones look like with the cases on. 

we went out to dinner to celebrate since Matt never got to do that with me yet. We went out to eat at Outback and had a great dinner. I cannot remember the last time that we went out to eat at a restaurant. We don't go out often since I mainly cook most of the nights. Plus, eating out frequently can rack up some money!

AND on top of that... I think summer decided to come to California! Check out this weeks forecast
That is the hottest temperatures it has shown since last summer.

pssst - what are some apps that you cannot live without or loving having on your phone?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Split the V (clap, clap) Dot the I (clap, clap) Swirl the C (clap, clap) T-O-R-Y, T-O-R-Y....VICTORY (clap, clap) VICTORY (clap, clap) VICTORY!

Yes, I still remember a cheer back from when I was a cheerleader years ago. And I just LOVE how it still fits in perfectly when things in life go so well...especially, today.

I PASSED my CNA state exam. That means (drum roll) I'm an official Certified Nursing Assistant!
Passed Written
Passed Skills
Equals 1 happy Bridget

So, from now on, I would like to be called either CNA Bridget, Nursing Assistant Bridget, Bridget the CNA, Bridget the Nurse Assistant, or Bridget will still be acceptable too :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Baked Ziti & Icing....But Not Together

I figured the easiest way for me to write down all the recipes and instructions on how to make the items I made for Matt's birthday yesterday (Missed that post? Click here) and also not overload that post with writing and pictures, was to make a separate go-to post for the homemade pasta sauce gravy, Homemade Icing, and Baked Ziti. So, there are 3 different recipes on this one post, just scroll down to the one you're wanting to know about!
If by chance you are making all three of these at once, this is how your kitchen MIGHT look:
See that pot on the left hand side of the stove? Yea, that's my noodles and water about to boil over. 
P.S. I maybe cleaned up a little bit before this picture was being snapped.

Anyways, RECIPES:
Homemade Pasta Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4+ hours (the longer it simmers, the better)
Serving Size: A lot.
  • 1 can of Hunt's Paste 12 oz
  • 1 can of Hunt's Sauce 15 oz (although, I'll probably use 2 next time)
  • 1 can of Hunt's crushed 28 oz
  • Water
  • Basil, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Pepper (add as much or little and whatever else you want to add)
  • Large pot
Put all the ingredients into your pot. For the water, use the Hunt's Paste can and fill that to the top and then add it into your sauce. If you want it thicker, then add less water. If you want it a little bit thinner so you can freeze it for a later date or maybe you're making a big dish, then add more water.
Let it simmer on low for at least 4 hours or more. It truly makes the house smell good too!

Baked Ziti
Prep Time: 4.5 hours for homemade sauce. With Prego or any other sauce: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serving Size: 8 people
  • 1 box of Ziti 
  • 45-50 oz (or if you want more or less) of sauce
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Spices if you want to add some to the prego or Barilla type of sauces
  • 11x9 dish
  • Foil
 For making homemade sauce, get the sauce going about 4.5 - 5 hours from when you want to serve the dish.Whenever you're almost ready to get dinner finished, start boiling the ziti noodles according to package. I usually boil them for 10 minutes.
While your getting the noodles to boil, pour enough of the sauce to cover the bottom of the dish. 
When that step is finished, add 1 egg, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella (except about 1/3 cup) into the sauce that's in the pot.
Once your noodles are finished, drain them. 
Then, put all the noodles into your sauce pot and stir it around to coat them well.
Pour the pasta mixture into the dish.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese and the left over 1/3 cup of mozzarella on top.
Then place foil on the top and put it in the oven on 375* for 30 minutes. Then, take the foil off and let it cook an additional 10 minutes to brown the cheeses.
Yum, right?

Homemade Buttercream Icing
Prep time: 15 minutes
Serving Size: 3 cups
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened (at room temperature NOT microwave)
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
  • 4 cups of confectioners' sugar (leveled off at top)
  • 2 tablespoons of Milk
  • Mixer
  • Food coloring (if you want to colored icing)
First, start off by letting your butter soften at room temperature. This might take up to 10 or 15 minutes.
Once butter is softened, add butter and vegetable shortening together in mixer. Mix until they are creamed together.
Then add vanilla
Then gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time beating on medium speed.
Once sugar has been mixed all together, icing will look dry. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure it's all mixed.
Add milk and beat a medium speed until it's fluffy and light.
I wouldn't let the icing sit out for a very long time. If you don't plan on using it within the hour, I would cover it and then put it in the refrigerator until use. When you want to use it again, just stir it around with a spoon. If you have a lot of leftover and you don't want to waste it, go ahead and freeze it! It will stay good! Besides, you never know if you are going to have one of those  i-just-want-to-sit-in-front-of-the-tv-with-a-bowl-of-icing-to-comfort-me type of day.

To add color to only some of the icing -- put some icing in a bowl that you will need then add dye. 
This is how my cake I made for my husband's birthday turned out. This was my first time making a cake and icing all on my own

Birthday Pictures Galore!!

Yesterday was my husband's 24th Birthday! It's hard to believe that he is already 24 since the last time that we spent his birthday together was when he just turned 20. And it's even harder for me to believe that I've known him since he was 16 years old! Time has gone by fairly quickly. He is really excited to be home for his birthday.
16         -------------->          24
We didn't go out for his birthday or do anything too "special" for his birthday either but I am sure we will over the weekend. Instead, today I tried to make the day special while he was at work. I decorated our kitchen as if we were having a birthday party (I have no one else to celebrate for! ha, ha.)
I baked all day for his favorite dish, baked ziti! This was my first time making it and only my second time making homemade pasta sauce or as Matt calls it, gravy. I was worried that it might not turn out okay or great, but surprisingly it was awesome and Matt loved it. He labeled it "my best dish by far to date!" (you can find the recipe and almost all step by step instructions in this post). 

On top of baking dinner during the day, I also took time out to make him a cake and used homemade frosting, etc. (Recipe found here).

I really do treat him so well and love him a lot. I try to let it be known by telling and showing through my actions so I really wanted him to know it on his birthday. Of course, there is ice cream to go with the cake with the option of chocolate or vanilla!
And then what do you do after cake and ice cream? PRESENTS!
He loved all of his gifts. He was surprised when I bought him one of his favorite growing up video games, Duke Nukem.  Matt also received a new gaming headset that is 100x better than his old one. His old one is the standard cheap one that comes with the xbox. He has had that one for so long and it sometimes gives him issues when he's playing live during games. We hooked it up last night while he tried out his new video game and it is awesome! Makes me want to play just for that fact.

Aside from the gaming world, He got a bundle of rock climbing gear; which, including Evolv shoes, a harness, a bag to put his harness in (or whatever), Belay rappel, Carabiner, and Chalkbag! He cannot wait to get out there to use it! Who knows, maybe we will do that this weekend. 
Hail to the king Queen, baby!