Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Guinness Hunter’s Pie March 17, 2013

Filed under: Casserole,comfort food,Fall/Winter — hmills96 @ 7:14 pm

The man I’m marrying lives and breathes Notre Dame. He’s got auburn hair and green eyes (Yes, Jen. Green eyes. Not blue.) He’s stubborn, opinionated, and loving. He’s about as Irish American as you get in Indiana.

I have some Irish blood somewhere along my mutt pedigree but I’ve never taken St Paddy’s day very seriously. The last few years, it’s just meant a couple of beers at one of my favorite old pubs up in Muncie, where they always have some live bluegrass music playing.

This year, and probably every year from here on out, it meant waking up to Guinness instead of orange juice. A tradition I am quite OK with. And normally, he would make corned beef hash…a tradition I am not quite OK with yet. We had biscuits and gravy this morning because we forgot to stop by the store last night.

A friend of mine was given some venison yesterday and, luckily for me, found out that she’s not such a fan. Knowing that I have a much more adventurous palate, she knew I’d probably like it. YES! What a better way to use it on St Patrick’s Day than in a Shepherd’s Pie!

This was sooooo yummy. For those of you who enjoy the gaminess of venison, this dish is perfect for it. It makes the gravy even more savory than it normally would be with lamb or beef. If you don’t like the gaminess, you can certainly make this with “normal” meats.

Guinness Hunter’s Pie
Adapted from

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb venison
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup Guinness
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth
6 cups mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil over med high heat. Cook carrots until just tender, add onion and cook for another minute.

Add venison and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Add butter and peas.

Sprinkle with flour and stir.

Add tomato paste, Guinness, and Worcestershire.

Let reduce slightly, then add broth. Reduce until sauce is thick. Remove from heat.

Grease casserole dish. Pour in meat sauce. Spoon mashed potatoes on top.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes or just browned on top.


Crispy Mustard Glazed Chicken Breasts January 16, 2013

Filed under: Chicken,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 6:16 pm

Guys, I have some big news! I’m engaged! If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Pinterest, you’re probably thinking “Big surprise, everyone already knew that!” We joke because it’s been the worst kept secret in town. We’ve been planning the wedding since Christmas, but because the ring was on order, it wasn’t “official.”

On Monday, Richard had told me that he was going to have to work late because too many people had called off work. He had been there since 6 am, and was understandably frustrated. I decided, instead of working late too, I’d come home, do some laundry, make dinner, and clean up so he could relax when he did get home.

But, when I opened the door to our apartment, I walked in to purple crepe streamers EVERYWHERE. He had made a timeline of our relationship and it crisscrossed around our apartment. I started following it, all the time thinking he was still at work, and how could he have gotten this done, since he left before I did that morning. I was laughing and crying as I read the date cards that were placed every few feet on the line.

The timeline wrapped back into our bedroom–where I was expecting a card or clue or something, since I still didn’t think he was home. At that point he popped out of the closet and proposed! Well, almost proposed, because I think I said “YES!” before he even got the words out. Oops. Me and my big mouth!

To everyone who has sent their congratulations, thank you! We are so excited and can’t wait to be married in the fall.

The recipe that follows is what I made for dinner last night. I have been told that I must add this recipe to my regular meal plan, because Richard loved it.

Crispy Mustard Glazed Chicken Breasts
Adapted from

2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
4 Tbsp butter, softened
2 1/2 Tbsp stone ground mustard
3/4 cup Panko
2 tsp dried dill
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rub chicken with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

Combine 2 Tbsp butter with mustard. Reserve two tsp of that mix for sauce. Smear the rest on the chicken.

Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter, mix with Panko, dill, salt and pepper. Dredge the breasts with this mixture.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med-high heat. Sear chicken until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes each. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through–15-20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to serving platter. Add stock and cream to skillet over medium heat, and stir until creamy and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in reserved mustard mixture.


Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops January 10, 2013

Filed under: Pork,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 8:11 pm

Holy crap, you guys. I am SORE. Today is day two of our workout/diet plan and man. My body does not like the change so far. But that’s good right? It means that I’ve made an adjustment to the terrible way I was living.

I’m not doing anything really structured–I always fail miserably at those plans. One day missed on the plan and I revert back to my inert laziness. Instead, we are making an effort to eat less fat and preservatives, and work out during the week. Richard works late 2 or 3 nights a week, so we are doing cardio together on his early nights, then sitting down to a well-rounded, healthy dinner. On his late nights, he works out in the morning, and I’m doing a strength-based exercise regimen courtesy of Pinterest. It’s only been two days, but I think we will be able to keep each other accountable.

Or, if I’m being honest, he’ll keep ME accountable. Because let’s face it–he’s much better at sticking to a plan than I am. The hardest part will be the weekends, when we usually drink lots of beer, go out to eat, or order Chinese takeout.

I am quickly becoming addicted to balsamic vinegar. It fulfills all the savory, sour, rich flavors that my palate craves 90% of the time. It’s so easy to toss some greens and veggies with a splash of balsamic and just a bit of EVOO.

I came across this recipe in one of my old binders and knew I had to make it. It was DELICIOUS. It was very quick to throw together, but there was no sacrificing the flavors here. It was deep and sweet and tangy. I ended up dousing some green beans in leftover sauce to eat for dinner tonight.

I had every intention of crediting the author here, but my wonderful boyfriend cleaned our apartment while I was at work today, and threw away the recipe. This is not a recipe I created out of my head, so my sincerest apologies to the original author. Just trust me. Make this soon!

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

2-4 boneless pork loin
EVOO, salt pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs Honey
1 Tsp chopped rosemary
1 Tbsp butter

Drizzle pork with EVOO, salt and pepper. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to come to room temperature.

In a small saucepan, boil balsamic and honey until reduced to 1/4 cup. Add butter and rosemary, remove from heat.

Preheat skillet on med high heat. Place pork in pan, baste with balsamic mixture on both sides until cooked through. Mine were thin, so this only took a few minutes. Thicker loins will take longer.

Serve with veggies, and applesauce of course!


Peanut Sesame Dressing January 6, 2013

Filed under: Asian,Quick and Easy,Salad,sauce,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 7:46 pm

Let’s face it, I have been doing hell to my body for the past year. I’ve hardly cooked (as evidenced by the lack of posts on this blog), I’ve drank a ton, and I’ve rarely exercised. Add a lot of stress and a job where I sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day, and the results are not pretty. It doesn’t help that buying fast food is so much cheaper than buying all the ingredients needed to make a healthy, well-balanced meal. But, I guess you get what you pay for.

Now I have no more excuse. I HAVE to get back in shape. Richard and I both agree we need to lose weight. Neither of us feel well most of the time, and there is so much going on in the next year that we need to have energy for. I went on a mega grocery trip yesterday and spent all day today prepping for meals. Man it felt good to really get back into the kitchen and letting my creative juices flow.

One of the things I prepped was this dressing. It’s maybe not the healthiest dressing out there, with the peanut butter and oil, but it’s better than what I HAVE been eating for lunch. I also cut up an apple and bell pepper, and roasted a chicken tonight, so I have plenty of toppings for the mixed greens I bought. It’s a step in the right direction, definitely.

This dressing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s very strong, but also very delicious. You don’t need a lot–the flavor goes a long way. Oh! I even put some in a baggie with sliced chicken breast for stir-fry on another night. Yum!

Peanut Sesame Dressing
Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2009

3 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I used chunky)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp White Wine (I used flat champagne leftover from New Years.)

In a blender, mix ingredients until well combined to your taste. Add more of something if it needs it. I played around with it for awhile, even tripled the recipe so I could use it as a marinade.


Chicken Cacciatore November 8, 2012

Filed under: Chicken,Freezer Meals,Mushrooms,pasta — hmills96 @ 5:47 pm

One of the great things about this new apartment is how homey and grown up it is. We have real, matching (well, somewhat matching) furniture, and even though it’s just a one bedroom, we have enough room in the living space to have a “den,” and “office,” and a “dining room.” This makes it really easy to entertain, which we did for the first time last night.

I’ve had this recipe flagged for awhile. PW has this way of drawing you in with her bright, delicious looking food shots. This was no exception. So, when we made plans to have friends of Richard’s over for dinner, I knew this is what I had to make. It was a little acidic for me, so I’ve adjusted my recipe below to compensate for that. Otherwise, it was a great meal, especially next to roasted acorn squash (another recipe I got from PW), and some yummy toasted asiago bread. It’s a little time consuming, so it won’t be a weeknight meal most of the time, but worth it for company definitely. Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as Ree’s, but come on. Who can compete with the Pioneer Woman herself? I didn’t get a picture of mine, since we had company, so go on over to her site if you want to see some gorgeous food porn.

Chicken Cacciatore
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

8 chicken thighs (leave the skin on!)
1 pound Pasta Or Egg Noodles, cooked per package directions
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Halved And Sliced
2 whole  Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced (I used one yellow and one orange, use whatever color you like)
5 cloves Garlic, minced
12 ounces button mushrooms, halved
1 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Red Pepper Flakes, Crushed, To Taste (optional)
3/4 cups Dry Red Wine
1 can (15 Ounce) Whole Or Diced Tomatoes (with Their Juice)
2 cups low sodium chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Salt and pepper both sides of chicken thighs. Dredge lightly in flour.

Heat butter and oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown chicken, 4 pieces at a time, on both sides. Set aside on a plate.

Drain off about half of the oil, otherwise the sauce will be greasy later. Saute onion, peppers, and garlic for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, and thyme, cook another minute. Add seasonings, then pour in wine, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Place chicken on top of the veggies and liquid, keeping the browned skin out of the sauce.

Put lid on pot and cook in oven for 45 minutes. Remove lid and raise temperature to 375. Cook for additional 15 minutes.

Take pot out of oven. Remove chicken to a plate so you can get to the veggies. Spoon veggies on a large platter over the egg noodles. Allow sauce to simmer over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes to thicken.

Arrange chicken on top of the veggies. When sauce has thickened, spoon it over the whole dish. You may not use it all without drowning everything, so just pour the rest into a serving dish for the table.

Serve family style in center of your table.


Beef and Broccoli Udon October 23, 2012

Filed under: Asian,Beef,Broccoli,pasta,Quick and Easy — hmills96 @ 11:47 am

We are finally starting to really get settled into our apartment. The furniture is in it’s place, clothes are put away. I even built a desk this weekend! It’s good to finally feel at home, instead of being so displaced like I have been the past year.

One thing that Richard and I both agree on is the importance of sitting down for a real meal when we both work the early shift (since he works retail, that’s not every night). This is great for me, because it gives me a chance to get back into cooking. Plus, it’s just really nice to sit down and talk about our day and unwind.

We’ve been eating way too many prepackaged meals lately, so we went on a mega food shopping trip this weekend and stocked our pantry. Boy does it feel great to have real food in my fridge! Things with color! What better way to celebrate that than to cook something vibrant and fresh. This dish fits that to a T. Quick and easy, which was perfect on the stereotypical Monday we both had. But also hot and flavorful. And I got to work some of my stress out on the cutting board. What is better at relieving stress than smashing some garlic cloves and stir-frying veggies?

Make this soon. It’s healthy, fulfilling, and it’s a great way to use up any extra veggies you may have in your fridge. I’ll definitely be making this often in some form or another.


Beef and Broccoli Udon
Adapted from Dinners for a Year and Beyond


2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Sriracha to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound beef tenderloin, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
2-3 drops sriracha

4 teaspoons oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, large dice
10 button mushroom, sliced
2 cups broccoli
2 7oz packages udon noodles
Combine marinade for ingredients. Toss beef in marinade, let sit at room temp while you prep the veggies.
Combine sauce ingredients, set aside.
Heat large pan on high heat. Add 2 tsp oil. Saute beef until just brown on both sides. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add other 2 tsp oil. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds-1 minute. Add red peppers and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add broccoli, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes, until veggies are tender-crisp. Add sauce, noodles and beef. Cook for 1 minute just to warm everything through. Serve!

Spanish-Style Rice October 10, 2012

Filed under: Mexican,My Recipes,Quick and Easy,Side Dish,Vegetarian — hmills96 @ 10:40 am

I moved AGAIN this weekend. Three apartments in 12 months. WHEW! I am so not moving again for a long time. But, now that we’ve gotten most everything put away, I actually feel at home. I’ve been feeling like a guest in someone else’s place for awhile, so it’s a relief to be so much more relaxed.

We had our first company over last night for the Red’s playoff game. I am in training this week with a new group of employees, and I knew I’d be getting home after Richard’s friend was already there. Because I needed a quick, easy meal, I settled on tacos. Those are pretty self explanatory–meat, seasoning, cheese, shell. Some refried beans on the side (or the way I like it–in my taco). But, I wanted to cook SOMETHING. This rice was super easy–just throw it all in a pot for 25 minutes. That gave me time to crack open a beer (Sam Adams Harvest Nut–get your hands on this, if you haven’t already), catch up on the game, and talk to our company. The boys loved it, so I will definitely be making this again.

Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a picture of this. There wasn’t really any recipe that I followed, just threw everything together based on what I THOUGHT was in Spanish Rice. It worked for us, even if it wasn’t totally authentic.

Spanish-Style Rice
Original Recipe

1 15-oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 1/2 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 chicken bouillon cube (I actually used a ramen noodle packet because that’s what I had on hand.)
Generous amount of a cayenne pepper/chili powder based seasoning blend
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp soy sauce (or Worcestershire would work as well)
2 Tbsp butter

Combine all ingredients in a large pot over high heat. Bring to boil, reduce to low heat. Cover. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Don’t touch this why it’s simmering, otherwise the rice will come out sticky and gooey.

Remove from heat when rice is tender and has soaked up most of the liquid. Serve hot.