Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cheesy, Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

 I have recently become very addicted to Pinterest, spending hours looking through people’s pins, finding crafts I would love to try and recipes that sound amazing. One day last week I decided that I was going to stop imagining what one of them would taste like and actually make it. The recipe I decided on was a Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole. From the recipe it sounded delicious, not exactly healthy, but delicious nonetheless.

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced*
*I subbed for sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 Cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
2 Cups steamed white rice (1 cup dry)
16 oz prepared wild (1 cup dry)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
Cheese Sauce
4 Tablespoons butter
¼ Cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
Top with 1 ½ Cups shredded cheddar cheese*
*I used a little more cheese on the top because 1 ½ cups wasn’t enough to cover everything.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Sauté onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in chicken, both rices, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  Reduce heat to low.

2.  To prepare cheese sauce: melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper then slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously.  Whisk until thick and nearly boiling then stir in cheese until melted.  Pour cheese sauce into rice mixture then transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with additional cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.  Serve. *I cooked for only 22 minutes and it was plenty so be careful not to burn it!
8-10 servings

I made a special trip to my local Bel Air to pick up extra ingredients I would need since my Safeway doesn't have a bulk foods section for things like whole grains, rice, etc. I decided to sub carrots for sliced mushrooms because neither my boyfriend nor I care for cooked carrots, and I had to use extra cheese on top in order to cover the whole dish.

Left: ingredients ready for the cheese sauce
Right: ingredients prepped to be sautéed 
In all, it took me approximately two and a half to three hours (maybe a bit more) to prepare and cook, but I think it was totally worth it. I cooked the white and wild rice together in my rice cooker, using the brown rice settings knowing that the wild rice would have to cook a bit longer than the white, and it worked out great! Plus it saved me some time from having to cook them 20+ min. each separately. I also had to pre-cook the chicken before sautéing the veggies, but that didn’t take long.

 Once the rice was done, I sautéed the veggies for 10 min. as the recipe calls for, added the garlic and chicken, and let it simmer while I prepared the cheese sauce. The recipe said to “whisk continuously until the sauce [became] thick and almost to a boil”. What it didn't say was how long that would take! It probably took about 15 minutes for this to happen. If I had known how long it would take, I probably would have started it at the same time as the veggies.
Top: veggies and chicken in the pan
Bottom: all mixed together with the cheese sauce
Once everything was mixed together and placed in the oven, I set my timer for 22 min. even though the directions said to let it cook for 25-30, and it turned out to be perfect. If I had let it go any longer, the cheese on top would have burned, so be aware if you decide to make it yourself.

The finished product
This is probably the most work I have ever put into a dish, and let me tell you, I was worried it was going to turn out terribly! BUT turns out it was amazing, just as I had hoped. My boyfriend and his brother loved it. We liked it so much we ended up eating the whole thing in less than a week (it was great reheated too!). If you’re looking for a great, hearty, winter dish, I would highly recommend this! If you make it, let me know what you think or if you made any adjustments of your own. Would love to hear what you think! Also, if anyone would like an invite to Pinterest just let me know :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jelly Belly Factory & Belated Thanksgiving Photos

The week of Thanksgiving, I had two paid holidays, so I decided to take the extra 3 days with vacation to have the entire week off. My boyfriend had a week of vacation that he had to use before the end of the year, so he decided to take it of as well. I can say that it definitely did not last long enough, but it was nice to sleep in past 5am more than 2 days in a row :)

During our time off, we didn't do a whole lot (which was the plan), but we did manage to make it to Fairfield to take a tour of the Jelly Bell Factory. This is something we had talked about doing for a while, but we wanted to go during the week so that the factory would actually be running, and this was the perfect opportunity!

They offer free tours every 20 minutes or so and you get free samples! Jelly Bellys are my favorite type jelly bean, always have been (and it made them a million times cooler to me when they started producing Bertie Botts Every Flavored Bean - Harry Potter reference for you - but that's off topic). We had a quick lunch in the cafe and waited in line for our tour.

Due to health regulations, you have to wear a hate when inside the factory, so they provide you with these silly paper hats (better than hair nets I guess!). My hair is so long that I'm not sure wearing a hat did much anyway. Also, that yellow wall is ghastly for photos!

Here are some more photos from the factory

Harry Potter of course!

Front of the building all decorated for Christmas. To the right was a giant Christmas tree!

 Thanksgiving was at my grandparent's house this year, which was nice for us since we only had to travel about 45 minutes instead of the hour and a half (give or take) through winding roads to my parent's house in the Bay Area.

I went for a more natural look. I don't think my grandparents would have been ready for bright greens or dark greys.

Friday, December 23, 2011

China Glaze's The Hunger Games Nail Polish Collection

I'm not sure how many of you have heard, but China Glaze has reached an agreement with Lionsgate and are officially teaming up for create a collection based on The Hunger Games! Apparently there is some backlash from fans about this, but I think it's awesome! I am a huge fan of the books and couldn't be more excited that they're creating colors inspired by the books and upcoming film. I'm going to try my best to get my hands on this set! It's set to release on March 1, 2012, just before the release of the movie. What do you think? Are any of you as excited as I am?


The names have changed since the original announcement, I'm not sure if this has to do with the lawsuit that American International Industries (AII - China Glaze's parent company) had with Lionsgate for ending the licensing deal they originally had, but from what I can tell, the colors are still the same. I'm glad they're back on and headed my way!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Last week I was given the Versatile Blogger award from Miranda at Miranda’s Makeup & More. I want to say thank you Miranda, this is my very first blog award! I feel very special for being recognized by a blogger that I really like and respect, so thank you again.

Please check her blog out. She always has posts on great deals for your beauty needs, swatches, hauls, looks of the day and more. I also love that she has mixed posts with not only beauty, but also things about her life and herself.

The Rules:

1: Thank the person who nominated you and give them a shout out on your blog with a link to their blog.

2: Share 7 random facts about yourself.

3: Send on the award to 15 bloggers whose blogs that you appreciate and then let them know that they have won the award.

My 7 random facts:

1: First off, I am the only redhead in my family! No, I’m not adopted; red hair can in fact be found on both sides of my family tree, it just skipped quite a few generations before showing up again :). I believe my great grandfather on my dad’s side was the last before me.

2: I wanted to be a geneticist but I found organic chemistry to be way too overwhelming for me, did a complete 180 with my college career, and ended up majoring in Sociology: Organizational Studies, with a minor in Communications from the University of California, Davis.

3: I play the clarinet and was in band from junior high through college. Yes, I am a band geek!

4: I have been wearing make-up since the 7th grade and have always enjoyed it, but not until about 7 months ago did I really start to embrace my love for the stuff, and couldn’t be happier that I have!

5: I know this is uncommon, but I am not a fan of Christmas music. I love the holidays and pretty much everything about this time of year, except the music. I think working 5 years in a coffee shop with it playing non-stop on repeat from Thanksgiving through New Year ruined it for me for a while.

6: I enjoy playing and watching sports, even if I’m not very good at them. I really enjoy tennis (playing) and American football (watching), but I’m really rusty when it comes to tennis. I don’t get to play as often as I’d like to.

7:  What else… I’m actually quite obsessed with the Elizabethan era England/UK/Europe, the Tudor family, and all of its history. I can’t explain why, but that time period has always fascinated me. I would give pretty much anything for a time machine and the ability to go there in person simply to see what it was really like (as long as I had the ability to come back! I like my rights as a woman and of course indoor plumbing). 

Now to pass on the award!

These are 15 blogs that I find myself consistently reading and/or enjoying. I hope you'll check them out and enjoy them as much as I do!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lancome & Urban Decay Face of the Day

My coworker recently asked me if I used lipgloss, to which I replied "yes!". This apparently was the correct answer, at least for me, because it led to her giving me a bunch of lipglosses and other make-ups that she received as free gift/samples but never used. See my haul post here :)

Well I decided I wanted to try a look from these new goodies and this is what I came up with.

L'Oreal True Match liquid foundation in C1 - Alabaster
L'Oreal True Match compressed powder in n1 soft ivory
E.L.F. blush in Tickled Pink
E.L.F. bronzer in Warm

Too Faced Shadow Insurance
Lancome e/s in Latte
Lancome e/s in Kitten Heels
Lancome e/s in Mannequin
Urban Decay e/s in Sin
Urban Decay e/s in Midnight Cowboy Rides Again
Rimmel London Lash Accelerating mascara in black
L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Lashes mascara in black-brown

Lancome Juicy Tubes Moulin Rose
Lancome Color Design "It" Girl Sheen

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lancome Haul

One of my coworkers knows that I’m very interested in makeup and last week she randomly asked me if I like to use lipgloss. Of course my immediate response was “yes!” So she hands me a Lancome Juicy Tube  and says I can have it. I was thrilled! She doesn’t like lipglosses because they’re too sticky for her. Next she says, “I have more at home if you want them.” “Absolutely!”  So when I arrived at work the next day, on my desk was a red canvas bag filled with goodies!

It had 3 single eyeshadows (Kitten Heel, Latte, & Mannequin), 2 lipsticks (“It” Girl & another I can’t remember the name of at the moment), 2 more Juicy Tubes (Moulin Rose & Simmer).

I was so surprised. Then today I came in and there was a small, floral print train case with even more surprises waiting for me! It had 2 Lancome eyeshadow compacts, a Lipstick (Visionary), a Bath and Bodyworks lotion in White Cherry Blossom (which smells amazing by the way) and a Ginger Citrus Body butter.

It’s like early Christmas! I love the Juicy Tubes. They have just the right amount of color to them so that they’re not overly-bright, but don’t leave your lips looking pale. The red canvas bag is not my go to makeup bag for my work bag. It’s big enough to carry some brushes and anything I feel I should bring with me for touch-ups throughout the day. Love it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NYC Starry Silver Glitter NOTW

Last week I sported a black and purple glitter look, to which my boss commented that I should wear something more festive for the holidays and specifically "not black". So when I sat down to paint my nails on Sunday, I automatically reached for red which I knew would be considered "festive", but I just wasn't feeling it. Looking through my collection I picked out my E.L.F. white polish, OPI's Fresh Frog of Bel Air, NYC's Starry Silver Glitter, and Sinful Color's Frenzy. At first I couldn't decide what I should do with them, but knew I couldn't put them all together. It would have looked like glitter threw-up all over me, so I decided on white as a base and Starry Silver Glitter to top it off, going for a snowy, wintry look. The glitter polish has tiny flakes of silver glitter and holographic, with  larger hexa-shaped glitter in blue and light purple. What do you think? My boss has given her approval!