Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The BEST Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo

Spicy Gumbo! Makes about a bowl (or less, depending on how thick (reduced down) you make it) per serving. Yields 8 servings with 400 calories (before rice).

2 teaspoons ground black pepper 
1.5 teaspoons cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1.5 teaspoons paprika 
1 teaspoon dry mustard 
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning 
1 teaspoon salt 
.5 cup all-purpose flour 
1 pound spicy ground sausage 
.25 cup vegetable oil OR left over sausage grease
2 pounds boneless chicken breast 
1 cup chopped bell peppers 
1 cup chopped celery 
1 cup chopped onions 
6.5 cups (52 oz) chicken stock 
1 teaspoon minced garlic 
1 bay leaf 
3 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce

1. In a small bowl, blend together all dry seasonings and flour. 
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
Before adding flour
2. In a large frying pan, brown ground sausage. Save oil from cooked sausage. Place sausage to the side.  
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
3. In large bag, shake 1/2 (about 1/4 of a cup) of dry seasoning mix evenly onto all chicken breasts.
4. In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, use sausage grease (my preference) or vegetable oil to brown chicken breasts. Brown each breast in oil on one side for 2 minutes, then turn and brown the other side for 3 minutes. Drain on Paper towels. 
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
5. In a large frying pan, add remaining seasoning mix with 1/2 cup of Chicken Stock to any remaining oil. Reduce heat to medium and cook chopped vegetables (feel free to add more vegetables than indicated, I do). Once mixture thickens, remove from heat. 
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
I like to chop mine very chunky
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
6. In a large pot, bring 6 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Slowly add entire thickened vegetable mixture and browned ground sausage. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. 
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
7. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sizes pieces and then add to the large pot. 
8. Add bay leaf, minced garlic, and Sriracha sauce to large pot. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would like your gumbo thicker, cook for additional time on low heat (I usually simmer for 5-6 hrs., until they chicken is mostly shredded in appearance), stirring occasionally, until the gumbo has thickened. 
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
At 40 minutes
Sriracha Chicken And Sausage Gumbo
After another hour thickening on low heat
9. Serve with rice.

I absolutely LOVE this gumbo. I eat it like soup (without rice), but Mark prefers it with rice and says it's too spicy without the rice. The biggest downside, for me, is how high the calories are. I would recommend using less meat and oil if calories are a concern.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wedding Sneak Peak!

Here are some pictures from the wedding!! We wont have the professional photos for several weeks, but McShane Photography provided us with some sneak peaks (towards the bottom of the blog) and other people's photos have been rolling in!
The first thing I noticed when I looked at these photos, was thankfully, how much I loved them and what a wonderful day it had been! However, my critical nature soon kicked in and I noticed how tired my eyes looked and the dark circles (from lack of sleep, stress, and let's face it, age) under them. I instantly felt self conscious and upset. Generally, I wouldn't Photoshop my own image, but I felt the need to (they are my wedding pictures after all!) make my eyes look a little nicer. I have no excuses for my vanity.
Here are Jena McShane's Sneak Peaks (of absolute mind-numbing fabulousness that already made my eyes look nice):
Plus, she captured our Bridesmaids Poster picture perfectly!
I can't wait to see the rest of our photos!!! The wait may figuratively kill me. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Wedding Ceremony

Jake amazingly taped our Ceremony for us. Everything about this moment was perfection and I am so very happy to have it on video. The video is a little soft, so you'll have to listen carefully or use the closed captioning; but I promise it is worth it! Mark made everyone there cry with his vows. Plus, Laura's voice is so lovely (even with the poor audio system)!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Wedding Rehearsal!

I really could go on and on about how much I loved everything about how Mark and my wedding turned out. Really, I am having a hard time shutting up about it. The feminist in me will not allow me to say this was the most magical-wonderful-perfect moment in my entire life and everything else in my life was just leading me to that moment. Plus, that just isn't true. Yes, my wedding day was wonderful and perfect and I loved every moment of it; but it was not and never will be the highlight of my life or the purpose of my existence. I have so many more wonderful and important moments and memories to look forward to! However, I digress. 
I do not have many pictures of the wedding yet (as I for once left the photography mainly to our professional photographer: McShane Photography) and like none of the rehearsal. But, let me tell you, everything was great! 
We stayed at the Radisson in Toledo, Oh. It was so lovely!
Inside and out!
Even nicer than the decor and comfort level of the hotel, were the staff. Julie and every staff member we interacted with were supremely helpful and sweet. I couldn't rave enough about the wonderful experience we had here. 
We had the rehearsal on what felt like the hottest-muggiest day of the year. Everyone was sweating profusely within minutes of arriving. We very quickly ran through the ceremony and left as quickly as we could. This wasn't the best idea, as no one had any idea what their cues were to start or stop walking or any idea what pace they should be walking at. This didn't seem like an issue (and really didn't end up being to big of a deal) at the time, as the heat was oppressive and everyone wanted out as soon as possible. 
We made it back to the hotel, right before a huge thunderstorm rolled in. Mark and I opted to have the rehearsal dinner at the hotel's 31Hundred restaurant and were so glad we made that choice! The food and drinks were exceptional!
Even with all of the heat and lack of rehearsal, everyone seemed to have a good time (once we started eating!)
My biggest recommendation is to make sure you are able to place the music that will be used during your wedding and give people clear cues as to when they should walk and at what pace. Otherwise, you end up with some gaps in the procession and recession. Which, in the end, is not a huge deal; but, kinda negates the reason for a rehearsal if you aren't doing those things. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wedding Gift Bags

I decided to make several different types of Gift Bags for people attending our wedding. 
For the hotel guests, I made a goody bag filled with chocolate, candy, chips, and other delicious treats!
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
I picked out bags in our wedding colors and attached a note to each guest.
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
Next I made bags for the girls who helped us out the very most and had more to do on the day of the wedding (Mark picked out the cutest boxes for them!).
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
Finally, I put together a basket of Sweets/Food/Fruits for our Parents and Grandparents:
DIY Wedding Gift Bags
Additionally, we gave the parents, bridesmaids, and groomsmen more personalized gifts. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wedding Garland

I had some Wedding Color Paint Chips, Save the Dates, and Wedding Invites left over, so I decided to make a garland out of them. 
I used my 1.5" punch to punch out as many circles as I could. 
DIY Wedding Garland
Next I used thick thread and my sewing machine to string them all together.
DIY Wedding Garland
Not sure what I am going to do with this yet, but I loved how it turned out!
DIY Wedding Garland

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wedding Flowers

Wedding flowers are wicked expensive. Like stupid expensive. Plus they are basically just dying from before you even start using them. I just can't feed into that kind of nonsense. 
Mark suggested that we went flower free, but I couldn't really get behind that either. So Erin and I set out to make flowers for the wedding! We don't mess around! That being said, the beginning was all messing around. We tried several different things, like making felt flowers, and were kinda hitting the wall. Until Erin made her first paper flower using information she found on the Internet!
DIY Wedding Flowers
I was completely over-the-moon sold. 
We started making the flowers using Erin's Cricut to cut out all of the paper shapes. She had several die options and the Cricut allowed us to manipulate the shapes to make standard flowers, like roses, and our own creations. 
DIY Wedding Flowers
Cutting out the shapes was only the first step. After we had the shapes, we used Erin's Copic markers to color the edges of the paper to make them look more realistic. Then we used Quilling techniques to curve the paper into petal shapes. Finally, we hot glued it all together. 
After making our first few flowers, we realized we were going to need some help. Luckily, our friends Cort and Liz, were able to pitch in and help us get everything done. 
After spending months making all of the roses we needed (67!), we created easier grey flowers (68 more!) to go with them. These flowers utilized some fake queen anns lace as it's center. 
DIY Wedding Flowers
Finally, we used the Cricut to cut out leaves for the bouquets and attached the bouquet flowers to thick floral wire with hot glue. Erin and Liz arranged them into perfect shapes, before we cut the wire to the correct length and wrapped it all in ribbon. We made 6 bouquets for my bridesmaids and then 1 large bouquet for me. 
DIY Wedding Flowers
DIY Wedding Flowers
Then we needed to make the boutonnieres and corsages. We used a simple die cut pattern for my Sizzix, added some color (copic and watercolor), and again used some quilling techniques. 
DIY Wedding Flowers
DIY Wedding Flowers
DIY Wedding Flowers
DIY Wedding Flowers
These turned out so much better than any flowers I could have bought. Plus they are now keepsakes for the wonderful people in my wedding party. AND it cost me less than $100 in paper. However, it was hours and hours and hours of work.