Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two Broken Ribs & A Partridge in a Pear Tree

We had an interesting weekend in the Hardin house. Two things that have never happened to us before happened. I decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and Jon broke 2 ribs. One of these hurt more than the other.

The Bad

We've both *almost* fallen on the stairs a few times, and we've both thought it was only a matter of time before one of us really fell. I thought we had years. Jon made it happen in a couple of months, and it was a doozy. Installing a stair runner has now moved up the to-do list. The good news is that he is getting a little better every day. The bad news is that it will take about 6 weeks to fully recover. We leave for vacation in 4 days. This could be fun! :/

The carnage. Jon was carrying some laundry down the stairs when he slipped.
Yes, as many people have pointed out, this was a very extreme measure to get out of laundry duty.

The Good

Our house is starting to look rather festive. If you know me, you know that I love Christmas. I normally consider it a crime to decorate before Thanksgiving, but since we're out of town over Thanksgiving and it's so late on the calendar this year, I needed to get a head start since we're hoping to host a holiday open house in just a few short weeks. I'm so glad I jumped the gun because I have no idea when Jon will be a contributing member of this family again (as they would say in the South, "bless his heart").

Christmas decorating has officially started!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Friday Happy List

Del Ray Baptist Church. We joined a new church! As of Sunday, we are new members at Del Ray Baptist. We are so excited to be part of this small, but growing church. It already feels like home! I can't wait to see what God has in store for us. :)

Kitchen Island. We have an island. Even more impressively, we have an island that Jon and I assembled. But most impressively, we have an island that Jon and I assembled, and Jon and I are still happily married. Success. It's the last big piece to the kitchen, which I guess means it's done. We still need to hang some things on the wall, and I would love to find some shelves for my cookbooks, but for now, I'm closing the book on this one. Maybe I'll actually get around to doing a proper before & after blog post now!

Turks & Caicos. In one week, we'll be hanging out here. I. Can't. Wait. We need a vacation real bad. We're renting this house with my sister, brother-in-law, and parents. It's perfect timing because we could all really use a vacation for one reason or another. Normally I'm all about the turkey and fixings, but with this view for a week,  that's all gravy. [That pun was for you, Jon. Although I'm not even sure Jon reads my blog. This will be a test.]

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Friday Happy List: BBQ Chicken Skewers

In lieu of a list, I'm sharing a recipe today. When I started this blog, I had visions of posting some of my favorite eats. So far that hasn't happened, but I promise to start making up for it. Here is a recipe that has been making both me and Jon happy lately. It's a little unconventional (bacon paste!), but it's not hard and it's certainly tasty. 

BBQ Chicken Skewers
(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses 
  • 2 Tbs grated onion (grated on the large side of a cheese grater)
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1.5" inch pieces
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs sweet paprika
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

For the BBQ sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat and reserve about half of the sauce to serve along with the chicken.

Cut the bacon into pieces and process in a food processor until a thick, smooth paste forms. Set aside. 
Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Now here is where things get a little messy. Add the bacon paste & spices to the chicken and work it in to cover the chicken. This is best done with your hands. It might not seem like it's spreading evenly, but don't panic. Just coat it is a best you can.

Thread the meat onto skewers and grill over medium-high heat basting with the BBQ sauce and turning every few minutes until charred, about 12-15 minutes. Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce.

[You can make the sauce, spice mixture, and bacon paste in advance. Just bring the bacon paste to room temperature before using and reheat the sauce before serving.]

And in case you are curious about the corn, it was just basted with olive oil, grilled until slightly tender (I like my corn to still have a bite), and brushed with salted honey butter. Yum!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Weekend Visitors

We had our first visitors this past weekend. Phil & Shirley (Jon's parents) took advantage of a Southwest airfare sale to spend the weekend with us in Alexandria. Hosting people is much more comfortable when everyone isn't crammed into a small apartment! [Hint: you should all come visit us.]
We toured the George Washington Masonic Memorial on Saturday.
This is the view from the top. Our house is somewhere in those trees!
Overlooking Old Town Alexandria & the Potomac River.
Jon is getting pretty good at this grilling thing. Recipe coming soon. :)
Like father, like son. The Hardin men always* do the dishes. I married into a good family.
How cute is this Dash & Albert rug?
It was a housewarming gift from Phil & Shirley. I love it!  
It took all four us to make sure our new address yard sign was straight.
Thanks for the anniversary gift, Mom & Dad. Now maybe people can actually find our house.
Also, check out the sneak peek of our new landscaping. :)

Not pictured: eating frozen custard, going to see Captain Phillips (it was good, but too long IMHO, and the shaky camera made it less enjoyable), church, crashing a neighborhood open house, card games, and some other good eats.

*Almost always. I don't want to get anyone in trouble. ;)