Frogged- Back to Square 1. Jambalaya. Matt's B-Day!

Friday, July 3

Listening to "I'm Gonna Love You Forever," Randy Travis.

I frogged my checkerboard.

(For those of you who aren't knit enthusiasts)...

Frog: (v) When the knitter makes a mistake, but does not notice the mistake for a while, and is forced to rip out multiple rows of a project, a process known as frogging.

So, again, I frogged my checkerboard. Complete frog. Earlier this week I came to a mistake row, tried to fix it, made it worse, tried to take it out, got stitches crossed and backwards... so I frogged it.

post-frogging: my progress since Wednesday.

Back to square 1... I've been knitting it all over again since Wednesday.

But it's ok! It's a fun pattern to knit, I learned something through my mess up, and I'd rather it be knitted well than almost done and all messy.


Cooking Update

I made Cajun Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya. It is Sooooo good.

Originally, I was going to try Mom on the Run's recipe, which looks fabulous. But I was e-mailed one from a blog friend... he's a military fighter pilot guy who had a blog that helped him clear his head, but he was afraid it would be too easy for others to decipher his wannabe-anonymous identity. So he took the blog private.

But before doing so, he e-mailed me this Jambalaya recipe! And it is so fabulous... it's so amazing that even if you're a vegetarian I would at least suggest trying to make this with tofu or something. Ok... not sure if that would work. But... seriously, the flavor is amazing. Hmm... now I'm trying to think of what veggies you could use to replace all the meat. I'll keep thinking...

I thought I would post the recipe exactly how he e-mailed it, with my comments interjected of course! :)

-2 or 3 chicken breasts [Sarah's note: I used 3]
-Package of andouille sausage (the pepperage farm stuff will do just fine. they make a "cajun" version.) [Sarah's note: I went pepperage farm!]
-A pound or so of shrimp (I'd suggest no smaller than medium. Large works well but sometimes they're too large and people wont get a lot per serving)
-3 ripe tomatoes (use fresh, ive tried to make this with canned and you lose a lot) [Sarah's note: Glad he told me that... I use canned tomatoes a lot with cooking, 'cause I'm a wimp, but he convinced me not to]
-Chicken stock
-2 or 3 cups of rice (I prefer jasmine but that's the filipino in me)[Sarah's note: I used 2.5 cups Jasmine rice]
-4 cloves of garlic
-1 whole medium red onion
-"Cajun" seasoning
-Red pepper flakes
-Salt and pepper

okay. this is an easy, one pot (or two) dish.
First, the prep:

-Garlic - chop fine

-Red onion - chop fine as well
-Tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and chopped fine. my trick is to core the tomatoes. make an "X" on the bottom of it with a knife. then to put them into boiling water for a minute. take them out and immediately place them into ice cold water to "shock" them. That allows you to peel the tomatoes (from the X) quite easily. once peeled, cut in half and squeeze the seeds out. after that's all done, you can chop up the tomatoes into small pieces. dont worry though, the tomatoes will cook thoroughly and dissolve into the stew. [Sarah's note: This was SO helpful! I had no idea how to do this. It was fairly quick and easy. And he was right, the tomatoes dissolved right into the jambalaya, which is great because I'm not big on tomato chunks. So cool. I love recipes that help me learn...]
-Chicken - chop into smallish, 1 or 2" bite sized pieces.
-Sausage - cut diagonally
-Shrimp - peel. devine if you so choose. I don't. [Sarah's note: I bought some that were already peeled and deveined... wimp, I know. One thing at a time, people.]

Cooking time.
-In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat up some olive oil. add red pepper flakes to infuse the oil. [Sarah's Note: I used 1.5 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes. I thought it was a perfect amount, but I am a slight spice wimp. Use your gut] Add onion and let simmer for a couple minutes.
-Next add garlic and simmer being careful not to burn the garlic.
-Salt, pepper, and add cajun seasoning. I wish I could tell you how much, just game it.
[Sarah's Note: I used what I felt like was a lot... 4tbsp cajun, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp pepper. But it turned out great. I love "taste and see" recipes!]
-Next add chicken and sausage and let saute for a couple minutes. I add some more salt and pepper and cajun seasonings.
-After a couple minutes of sauteing (you dont need long) add the tomatoes and stir. last chance to adjust seasonings so one last taste test.
-Add the rice and follow the instructions for the amount of liquid/chicken stock (usually 1.5-2 parts liquid to rice). [Sarah's note: I used 2.5 cups rice, 5 cups chicken stock]
-Give one good stir then cover.
-Bring stew to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. DO NOT OPEN THE LID ONCE CLOSED!
-Rice usually takes 20 mins to cook so around minute 16-17, add the shrimp to the stew and cover again. this allows the shrimp to cook but not become rubbery from being overcooked.
-Once rice is fully cooked, remove from heat. salt and pepper to taste.

I find that it tastes better if you can perfect the seasoning before the rice gets in. Remember the rice is going to absorb a lot of it. i have a tendency to overseason though so i have to really be timid with it.

Yum. 'Nuff said.

Thanks, blog friend! Like I said-- it turned out really great. I'm loving the leftovers!

Tonight's cooking goal: Donna--FFW's Stuffed Flank Steak. EEeek! Soo excited...


Matt's Birthday!

Matt's birthday is this Sunday! One day after the 4th :) It would be cool if he was born on Independence Day... because then we'd both kinda be born on holidays... but one day off isn't bad.

I am so looking forward to his birthday! I love his birthday. We always do something fun...

Here's us two years ago when I took him kayaking:


We kayaked to this little inlet in Wilmington and had a lovely picnic, just the two of us!
Matt's Birthday '07
Then a storm came in and we almost died getting back, trying to dodge all the 4th of July vacation boats who were trying to hurry back as well. But that story another day :)

And one year ago, when we celebrated his birthday in Charleston...

Matt's Birthday '08
Here we are at the Battery, lookin' out at the water...

Matt's Birthday '08
Here we are, a little tipsy after lots of good food and good drinks at a fancy restaurant in downtown Charleston...

So, what big surprise do we have for his birthday this year??

Unfortunately, he has 20 hours of online courses to complete this weekend for his CFP stuff. I know, on the 4th and on his birthday! So no big surprises like previous years... but it's ok; Sunday night we're going out to The Melting Pot, a fun, swanky fondue restaurant. We've never been!

I've got a couple fun surprises planned... a yummy surprise cake, some fun presents, and a treat at the restaurant... but I can't post JUST in case he looks at the blog. Not that he'll have any time to this weekend with his class... but I don't want to risk it. I'll fill you in later, hopefully with pictures of us fondue-dipping!

It's definitely not kayaking or traveling... but it's going to be a good weekend :)


Other sidenotes:

-Tom's in China! Cool... he'll be there till about July 10th, home just in time for him and my Mom to take my younger sisters on a big camping trip
-Happy Birthday, America! My Dad will be enjoying the 4th from Baghdad, so send happy thoughts that way :)
-Winston is here! I've blogged about Winston before... he's a family friend's dog that I dog sit sometimes. Winston's parents are enjoying the beach this weekend, so he's here keeping me company while Matt studies... (actually, he's lying under the table by Matt while Matt studies and pets him. He's supposed to be playing with me... dogs always like Matt better than me. What is that?!)
-Juggling 3 web projects right now: two volunteer, one paid. Phew! It's taking up a lot of time!


Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

Your checkers-frogging, web-designing,
jambalaya-enjoying, birthday-anticipating,
New Girl Blogger


Ace on July 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM said...

Oh, I hate when I mess up a knitting project! Or when I get really far on something and decide I totally hate it and rip it all out. I do that a lot!

Kym on July 3, 2009 at 3:16 PM said...

frogging sounds like a headache! :/ love that you had a starbucks mug along with it though.. needed during projects huh? hehe!

thanks for sharing that recipe, i tried that in new orleans as i thought it would be more authentic, but the place we went to sucked! it was too touristy.. not authentic at all! :(

happy 4th of july and advanced happy birthday to your husband!

shadyninjaknits on July 3, 2009 at 5:03 PM said...

Oh noooooooooo! I hate frogging, but sometimes I just get so furious with my knitting that I just frog the whole damn thing in a twisted kind of power trip to show that yarn who's boss. Good thing you like the pattern enough to keep going!

Peggy on July 3, 2009 at 6:08 PM said...

Have fun on Matt's birthday! I'll be studying on my birthday later this month, too, so I can relate. (My hubby also works that day so he won't even be home for most of it.) Matt's lucky to have a girlfriend like you to help him celebrate. :-)

Mary on July 3, 2009 at 6:11 PM said...

I have been reading that checkerboard pattern too, but it looks complicated! I hope you figure it out!!! You and Matt look so good together!!! Happy 4th!

Trina on July 3, 2009 at 7:30 PM said...

Sorry to hear about the frogging episode! But its good that you learnt from the process :)
And I hope you have fun with the suprises for Matt's birthday!

Stephanie on July 3, 2009 at 8:11 PM said...

When I saw that you frogged your checkerboard, my heart dropped. I feel for you, one knitter to another. I always end up frogging at least once on any project I start. It's inevitable for me unfortunately.

Iva on July 3, 2009 at 9:06 PM said...

Have a great 4th! Love the Starbucks mug!!


Chow and Chatter on July 4, 2009 at 12:01 AM said...

wow i adore Jamalya and yours looks great happy birthday Matt you to are so cute LOL

Donna-FFW on July 4, 2009 at 12:04 AM said...

Happy Birthday to your guy. I hope you two have a great time celebrating it together.

Your jambalaya looks amazing. I love the way you interjected all your changes/adaptations. very helpful.

Have a great holiday!

Ali on July 4, 2009 at 12:32 AM said...

Happy Birthday Matt!

And thinking of your dad.

Happy 4th!

justatitch on July 4, 2009 at 1:16 AM said...

You guys look absolutely adorable!

Ron on July 4, 2009 at 1:41 AM said...

Hi Sarah!
Thank you so much for reading my blog. I am sorry I haven't kept up with yours as much as I wish I could, but I do read whenever I can. You know, my mom is an executive chef and owns a Thai restaurant, so I'm always intrigued when I read about your recipes.

Didnt know your dad is in Baghdad. I might be heading to that neighborhood in a few months to film something.

Happy 4th of July!!! Be well.
From Samoa!

Sebastian on July 4, 2009 at 8:18 PM said...

You know, I don't think I've ever had jambalaya... which is odd, considering it looks like my favourite kind of dish! Looking at those ingredients... yummy!

I might have to try and make it. I haven't cooked since university... but now I am very, very tempted!

Thanks for the inspiration :)

Kim on July 5, 2009 at 2:42 AM said...

Ummm... so, I think I was too distracted by your Starbucks mug to read through the entire blog for at least 10 minutes, haha.

Don't worry about the checkerboard. Lucky for you frogger bloggers are pretty much my favorite people ever, just sayin'.

stephchows on July 6, 2009 at 11:36 AM said...

that recipe sounds delicious!! And happy birthday matt :)

The Duo Dishes on July 6, 2009 at 2:26 PM said...

Looks like you had cooking success and a fun weekend. Looking forward to that flank steak!

LiLu on July 6, 2009 at 2:54 PM said...

It's times like this I am so, SO thankful I eat meat... looks delicious! Happy Bday to your honey :-)

Sarah, The New Girl on July 6, 2009 at 3:33 PM said...

----- ----- -----
Ace- I know! It was kind of sad ripping everything out... but it's going along great since I started over. Completely over. Ok... so maybe I'm still a little sad haha.

Kym- It can be a headache! But it's worth it in the end... usually :) The recipe is seriously amazing; make it if you get a chance!

Shadyninjaknits- It was almost a power trip, when I finally realized there was no going back... I got Matt to help me rip it all out and roll it up real fast. But it was kind of demeaning, starting all over... it's going well now though!

Peggy- Thanks!! We did have fun :) See... I always complain about my birthday being on Christmas, but there is one good thing... I'll probably never have to work or study on that day!! I bet your Hubs will still plan something cute...

Mary- It started off complicated! But I promise, after a couple rows you'll have it memorized and totally figured out. If you do make it... cast on with really big needles and really loosely. The mistake I made was... I had two stitches crossed, so I thought I needed to add one. So I did... but that wasn't the right solution at all, and everything got all tied up... silly!

Trina- That was the one good thing; I messed up, but I did learn something!!! Matt's birthday was fun :)

Stephanie- It definitely wasn't the highlight of my knitting career... why does that stuff get so sad?? I was literally almost tearing up when I told Matt I needed him to help me rip everything out. But it's going along just fine now... luckily!

Iva- Thanks girl! I did; hope you did, too!

Chow & Chatter- I 100% recommend that recipe-- so good!! And thanks :) he's a cutie.

Donna-FFW- We did have a great time!!! I love birthdays. The jambalaya was soooo good! Your flank steak recipe really turned out great as well!

Ali- Thanks so much, Ali. That's really sweet of you.

Justatitch- That is so sweet! Thanks!

Ron- I had no idea that your Mom is an executive chef!! How amazing!! That must have been a great kitchen to grow up in :) Thanks so much for taking the time to say hello from Samoa!

Sebastian- I can't believe you have never had Jambalaya. Sooooo good... if you cook it lemme know :)

Kim- You're my favorite :) Promise to buy you starbucks when you get home!!!

Stephchows- Thanks :) I think he had a good one!

Duo Dishes- It was a fun weekend-- made better by the Molten Choco Cake recipe of yours that I used for Matt's b-day cake! Review in the next post :)
----- ----- -----

Jenn@slim-shoppin on July 6, 2009 at 8:23 PM said...

I thought of you over the weekend, because there is a knitting store in my town called "Chix with Stix" and they have tons of yarn and knitting classes. I've always wanted to learn more than knit two, pearl two, which I did when I was little.

Happy birthday to Matt! And your jambalaya looks so good! I always make mine from a box!

burpandslurp on July 6, 2009 at 10:59 PM said...

urgh, frogging sounds like a huge pain! I tried to knit once, but I gave up even before I got to the frogging part!
Jambalaya looks freaking awesome, and happy b-day to Matt!

sarah on July 7, 2009 at 2:09 AM said...

matt and i have the same birthday!! <3 yay for us!

only he is older than me

just sayin` ... ;p as a 25 year old i now have to point out elders. it makes me feel better!

i love that its called frogging! although dont much love the fact that you had to destroy it!

Tamela on July 7, 2009 at 11:17 AM said...

I have never been kayaking before! I bet it was a blast!

I think you need to cook for me. You are such an amazing cook! I always mess things up!

knitseashore on July 7, 2009 at 10:00 PM said...

Happy Birthday to Matt! I'm looking forward to hearing how you both celebrate!

Sorry to hear you frogged your knitting project. It's hard, but like you, I'd rather rip than forever stare at a mistake. I hope it knits up quickly again!

Brett Alexandra on July 8, 2009 at 1:04 PM said...

oooh, you knitting machine! :)
That jambalaya (spell check?) looks awesome! I love that stuff.

Happy bday to your beau! I have always wanted to go to the Melting Pot.

Ace on July 9, 2009 at 8:27 AM said...

something for you on my blog!

Sarah on July 10, 2009 at 12:31 PM said...

I am SO late with this comment! Arg! I've been a little bit absent on the blogging front, lately... it's been a busy week.

Mistakes are how we learn! Don't worry too much about frogging (haha... that's an awesome term!), I'm sure you won't make the same mistake twice! The checkerboard will turn out awesome in the end.

Happy (belated) Birthday to Matt, too! My guy and your guy are almost the same exact age... I think 1982 was a good year. ;)

Astra Libris on July 10, 2009 at 4:53 PM said...

I just discovered your beautiful blog, and I'm so glad I did!! Hooray for a fellow knitter! :-) I started laughing as soon as I read the title of this post... I'm SO sorry about the checkerboard issues, but, from the look of your beautiful photo, your project is gorgeous, and I'm quite impressed!

As a Louisiana Cajun gal, as well, also sending a huge high five for your yummy jambalaya! Yay Cajun cooking! :-)

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