Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wrapping up 2010

In a few days 2010 will be over. We are looking forward to celebrating with friends in DC this year!

The past two weeks have been fun and eventful. I wrapped up my last day of work and then we headed to Wintergreen to go skiing with my MIL for a few days. The trip proved to be quite interesting-but fun. We had a great time. I did, however, spend more time on the ground in the snow than I did up on two skis. It is sufficient to say that I am not a natural-born skier- by any stretch of the imagination. Husband, in contrast to me, was excellent. He was very good at supporting me during my occasional, ok- so more than occasional, break downs over my lack of skiing talent.

After skiing, we came back to our house for Christmas Eve. It was our first Christmas Eve at our home, and our first one (due to snow) alone. It was fun for us. We had an easy dinner- roasted sun-dried tomato tilapia and potatoes, with a soup course of Brunswick stew (nope, they don’t really go together, but we needed to use up the stew). We had a candlelit dinner and used my new Napa Style glasses and antique silverware. I served the fish and potatoes on our Vietri Santa plate that Kenneth’s grandma gave us for Christmas last year, it is very pretty and it was the first time we have gotten to use it. So, in all it was a great Christmas Eve dinner. Afterward, we headed to midnight mass and then came home and waited for Santa to come!

On Christmas day we woke up early and opened presents while enjoying a cup of hot coco. Just thinking of hot coco makes me want some- I’ll probably go make some upon completion of this post! I got a bunch of fun kitchen things that I can’t wait to use. I have a new 2 quart soup pot, and Wusthof knife (it rocks, I used it tonight), a bunch of serving pieces, and more. I also got a new camera to take better pictures of food! We went to my hometown Christmas day and celebrated with my family. Mom cooked most of the time that we were home and it was good to have some good home-cooking! I helped her cook dinner (pork tenderloin, sautéed green beans, roasted potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and corn pudding) the day after Christmas for thirty people. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked for that many people before- timing was everything! Husband cooked the meat and he rocked it out.

The two pictures below are of two meals I still needed to post about. The first is the grilled chicken salad I referenced in the previous post. It was simple, and good. I just grilled up a piece of chicken, cut it up and tossed it on romaine hearts. I drizzled the salad with pomegranate dressing and topped with dried cranberries and shaved parmesan. The second picture is of tonight’s dinner. We went for simple- American classic. Husband is watching NC State play in their bowl game so I did a version of game time food. We had hotdogs, potato salad, roasted scallions, and baked beans. I made French potato salad, an Ina Garten recipe, and it was good. I had never made it before. I halved the recipe because I only had about one pound of red potatoes, and it turned out fine.

Well, that’s enough for now. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best Meal of the Month...Hands Down.

Last night we had my parents down for dinner. Husband and I cooked grilled mahi mahi, roasted shrimp, roasted scallions, and roasted potatoes. It was really delicious (if I do say so myself).

I started by roasting the potatoes. These potatoes were similar to roasted new potatoes that I have previously blogged about. This time, I used red potatoes which I sliced 1/4 inch thick.I then coated them in extra virgin olive oil. Next, I sprinkled them with paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. Then, I put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. I then flipped them, and roasted for another 20 minutes.

While the potatoes were roasting I prepared the scallions. That was very simple. I just cut the ends of the scallions off. Then, when I took the potatoes out to flip, I added the scallions to the baking sheet. I coated them in evoo, salt, and pepper and let them roast with the potatoes for 20 minutes. I'd never had them roasted before and I really liked them.

For the mahi mahi, husband tossed the fillets in evoo, salt, pepper, and Old Bay. Then, he grilled them for about 10 minutes. Yum. The shrimp were super simple. I just tossed them in evoo, salt, and pepper and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 4 minutes, perfect.

We all really enjoyed the meal. Every last piece of food was eaten! No leftovers in my lunch today!

Up tonight: grilled chicken salad.

Snow is on it's way tonight...maybe no school tomorrow?!


This post is dedicated to Megan, one of my favorite cooking friends, ever.

Last week and this week I made two types of soup. Last week I made an Ina Garten recipe, Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup. It was good. I'm the only one in my house that likes tomato soup, so I made a big pot and froze some of it.

To make the soup you start with a cup and a half of chopped red onion, two carrots, peeled and chopped. Heat up about 3 tbs of olive oil and saute the onions and carrots until tender. Then, add to that, 3 cloves of garlic, minced. To the onion, carrots, and garlic you will add 4-5 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tbs tomato paste, 3 cups of chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring that to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes. Once that has simmered, you will add the soup to a food processor and add in 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Then, return it all to the pot to reheat. I served mine with some croutons on top, it was good!

The other soup I made was Red and Green Winter soup, a Rachael Ray recipe. This is the first soup that I ever made and I made it with Megan. We made it our senior year of college after browsing through some Rachael Ray mags. I will say that the pot I made this time was not as good as when she and I made it, but it was still good. I feel like I put too much kale in this time. I am linking the recipe here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I think I can...

Thanksgiving was tasty. I enjoyed the feast we had and the time we spent with family. When I went to take a picture of my cranberry compote, my camera battery died. So, no picture. It was pretty good though, I'd make it again. It consisted of 1 12oz bag of fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/2 cup apple juice, and 3/4 cup of sugar. I used probably a cup of sugar. I also got some Christmas shopping done over the break. Still, though, I feel behind on shopping and it's only December 1. That's sad.

Work has been crazy. I don't think I've ever spent as much time there as I have recently. I find myself periodically quoting the little engine that could, "I think I can, I think I can..." Two weeks and two days until Christmas break. I think I can...

Last week I made roasted tilapia, couscous, and roasted tomatoes. The tilapia was easy and good. I put two pieces in a small baking dish. I put a shallow layer of white wine in the bottom. I seasoned the fish with evoo, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, and butter. I baked it on 350 for about fifteen minutes. The roasted tomatoes were a Bobby Flay recipe. They are almost like candy. You cut up plum tomatoes (or cherry/grape/campari whatever you prefer) and place them in an even layer in a baking dish, cut side up. Drizzle them with evoo. After that you drizzle them with honey. To top them off, sprinkle panko bread crumbs over them. Roast on 350 for twenty minutes. We also had grilled salmon, brussell sprouts, and mashed potatoes. Both good.

It's cold outside. It wasn't this morning, but it turned quickly. I hear rumor of snow on Sunday! Yay! I love the first snow of the year. So, tonight we had hot chicken noodle soup. Wednesday night is date night. So we cooked dinner together and then husband watched basketball for a little bit while I have been blogging. Now we're watching The Santa Clause 3. We've watched a Christmas movie every night for probably five or six nights. They're my favorite.

Well, I'm off to continue our movie and to tackle what seems to be the never ending pile of laundry. Until next time...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hodge Podge

I believe that this fall has been busier than any before. It seems like I haven’t done nearly as much cooking as I would like, but, this is THE week of food and I’m pumped. Thanksgiving, naturally, is my favorite holiday. I am looking forward to all the delicious items that will be hitting my tongue Thursday and for many days that follow. This will be my first Thanksgiving where I will be contributing my own dishes to the feast. So far I am planning on preparing my green beans and cranberry compote. My mom and nana are awesome cooks so they will be doing the majority of the “big” cooking. My nana, a sassy yet loving woman, still loves to do big holiday meals and I love it. I hope I am like that one day too.

This past week we were preparing for our Young Life weekend camp. We had a bunch of stuff going on at night so we ate out some nights and ate in some nights. Typically we don’t really eat out a lot. We had some awesome girls (shout out Becky & Courtney) over Monday night for dinner. We had my favorite risotto, grilled chicken, and green beans. That was all good, but dessert was the star of the meal. We had chocolate lava cakes. One reason why dessert rocked is because, let’s be honest, I did not bake it. We all know how that probably would have turned out. The second reason it was awesome is because Courtney made it. The last reason it rocked is because it oozed chocolate. You can't go wrong with that.

I also made a tilapia dinner this week that I have made and posted about before. It was as good the second time as it was the first.

One night husband made his spaghetti. As I’ve mentioned before, he usually sticks to making his spaghetti during the winter and I make mine in the summer. I thought that it was one of his best pots ever. He won’t allow me to disclose the recipe, so sorry, but there is a picture!

When I was uploading food pictures tonight I found a picture of couscous stuffed peppers. I don’t remember when I made them, but it’s a great and simple recipe. What I like about it is that it’s a dish that takes only a little bit of prep time. The rest of the time is spent cooking. So, if you don’t have a lot of time to spend making dinner, but have time to let it just bake in the oven, this a good option for you. For this recipe you need 2-4 bell peppers. I prefer red and yellow, but it’s really whatever you like. Cut the tops off and hallow them out, taking out the seeds. Preheat the oven to 400. In a pan, brown up about a pound (maybe a little less depending on how many peppers you are making). While the meat is working, prepare ½ to 1 cup of couscous. Once the meat has browned, drain it and combine with the couscous. To the meat mixture, you add 2-3 scallions, sliced. I then add in parmesan cheese. The original recipe (Real Simple) calls for feta cheese and apricots, but I have adapted to suit my non-cheese and apricot-loving husband (yes, he eats parmesan). I also add in a few of my own favorite herbs and seasonings. I usually will add a hit of dried basil and parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Once you have mixed in the scallions, cheese, and your preferred seasonings, spoon the mixture into the peppers. Then, bake the peppers for 45 to 50 minutes in a covered dish.

So, that's it for now. Santa, if you're reading, I really want that new Nikon camera for Christmas so I can take better pictures of my food. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Accidental Sabbatical

So, it has worked out that for roughly the past two weeks I have cooked next to nothing. A series of events worked themselves out to where I just ended up not needing to cook. So, if you've been wondering about the scarcity of posts, here's your answer. I just took an accidental sabbatical from cooking. I still love it, but we've been on a temporary break.

Anyway, tonight starts the cooking again. I am making roasted new potatoes and talpia that I posted about previously. I like it a lot because its so good and easy, therefore it became a repeat on this month's menu from last month.

In other news, my herbs are quickly perishing. Many factors have contributed to their dying process. One- it got cold outside so the herbs were relocated into my very hot apartment. I'm not so sure they appreciated the drastic temperature change. Two- for one reason or another I have had to occasionally move the herbs from the sunny window into the office with the not-as-sunny window. They really didn't like that. No sun=unhappy, dying herbs. Three- I was very unaware that parsley wanted to still be outside during the winter. Apparently, the cold suits it's fancy. So when it is 80 degrees in my apartment, it dies. Better luck next year I suppose.

Last week was husband's birthday. He turned 26! My mother-in-law (MIL) visited for the weekend and we did cook one night for his birthday. We had mashed sweet potatoes, roasted lamb, and asparagus. The picture below is of the table set with our delicious food.

This next picture is for laughs. It really goes to show my baking impairment. I "baked" a cake for husband's birthday and well, the picture speaks for itself. Enjoy.

(In case you're wondering-the white squiggles are supposed to be a football.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Second Annual Halloween Dinner (well, lunch)

Happy Halloween!

Last year I started a tradition with my family (husband, mom, dad, nana, little brother) of having a Halloween dinner. On last year's menu we had "hash brown brains", bloody eggs, and other Halloween themed breakfast for dinner items. It was very fun. So, we decided to reconvene and repeat the festivities this year.

Since there were some difficulties with scheduling dinner this year, we opted for Halloween lunch. Basically we had dinner for lunch. I didn't really do too much Halloween themed food this time. Late last week I planned my menu: pork tenderloin, green beans, and marbled baked potatoes. Then, this week I was watching Barefoot Contessa do a "Halloween for adults" episode and she had almost the same menu (she had baked apples vs. potatoes)! I was very excited that I had planned on my own what she actually did.

I did a rub that I saw Ina Garten do on that episode for my pork tenderloin. In the food processor, you grind together 4-6 cloves of garlic, 2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/3 cup rosemary, and 2 tbs of lemon zest. Then, you add 2 tbs of evoo, 2 tbs of dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Rub the pork with the mixture and bake on 350 for about 30 minutes.

The green beans I made were the same ones from the previous post. I love their flavor.

The baked potatoes were pretty good. There were a little time consuming, but they were sort-of Halloween themed. Basically you bake 6 russet potatoes and 2 sweet potatoes for 20 minutes. (My measures are a little larger because I was cooking for 6 people). Then, take them out, poke with a fork, bake for 15 more minutes. Then, skin the sweet potatoes and mash them in a bowl. After that, cut the russet potatoes crosswise on top and scoop out the flesh. Put the russet flesh in a bowl and add 3-4 tbs of butter, 1 cup sour cream, a pinch of nutmeg, and about half a cup of cheddar cheese. Then, you gently fold in the sweet potatoes. After that, you stuff the potatoes back and bake them for 25 more minutes. I'll link the recipe here.

For dessert, my mom made pumpkin bread. It was oh so delicious.

After lunch, some folks went on a walk while my dad and I carved my pumpkin, and husband washed dishes. (He's a good one.) My dad and I always carve a pumpkin on Halloween. We've been carving since I can remember. We usually stick with a pretty classic design. Of course, we toasted the pumpkin seeds afterward!

Now, husband and I are watching "Under Wraps"- a Disney Channel Halloween movie from when we were kids. He is actually sleeping and I am watching, but it is on none the less. It will be the last Halloween movie for the year, which is sort of sad, but that just means Christmas movies are coming!

That's all for now...don't let roaming goblins and ghosts get you!

Props & Drops

This is a quick post on two dinners from this past week. Both were from the Food Network magazine, and I followed the recipes- I didn't make any changes. So, I am going to link them.

Props to Creole Chicken Wraps. These were easy and really good! It was a great, quick fall meal. I would recommend them.


Drops to Western Eggs. This dish looked really good in the magazine. Maybe I did something wrong, but we definitely decided that this dinner would not be repeated.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back In Business

My laptop has returned!

On Thursday night my husband grilled some chicken and I cooked some green beans. It was a quick dinner because he has a meeting on Thursday nights. Both the chicken and the green beans were really good. The chicken was good cut up on a salad the next day for lunch too. We ate all of the green beans at dinner, they were excellent if I do say so myself. I par boiled them for about five minutes. After that, I sauteed them in some evoo. I added garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a couple dashes of paprika. So easy, so good!

Last night we enjoyed salmon with a brown mustard glaze and black forest brusell sprouts. The brown mustard glaze for salmon is one of my favorites. Both items were from an old Rachael Ray magazine from my early days of cooking. For the glaze, you whisk together 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and the juice of half a lemon. I seared my salmon and then transferred it to a baking pan. Then, I poured the glaze on and baked it on 400 degrees for about 7 minutes.

To start the brussell sprouts, you need to boil a pot of water. Cut and trim the sprouts (about one pound). Boil for five minutes. While they are working, cook up five to six pieces of bacon. Once the bacon has cooked, remove it from the pan reserving the grease. Into the grease you add one onion, sliced. Cook the onion until soft. After it has finished, you remove the onions and reserve the pan. Drain the brussell sprouts. Into the pan that the onions and bacon cooked in, you add the brussell sprouts and cook for about five more minutes. Crumble the bacon and add it and the onions back to the pan (to re-warm them). Transfer all to a bowl.

Before dinner we went to see "Life As We Know It". It was super good, I recommend it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So here's the skinny on my laptop: it's still broken. It's still not here. Boo.

The 4-1-1 on husband's laptop: it seems to be doing fine after recovering from "a critical battery error" during which the laptop squaked and beeped and squealed at me several times. I exude bad luck when it comes to computers...oh well.

An update on what I've been cooking lately...well it is sort of hard to remember because it's been a while, but I will apply my critical thinking skills and remember some of the dishes. (which is not really critically thinking, but whatever) I do have to note that my husband just looked at me and asked me, "what are you doing?" I said, "I am blogging." Then, another series of comments went down which ultimately resulted in him saying "why are you blogging you haven't cooked anything interesting in a week?" Thanks.

Let's see..I cooked a tilapia dish with roasted new potatoes. It was so simple and really good. In fact, I'd eat it again and I don't even really like tilapia that much. You start off by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Then, I coated a baking sheet with foil which you then add the potatoes (8 or so new small potatoes), a lemon, sliced, and fresh thyme. You coat all of that with extra virgin olive oil and roast for 20 minutes. While that is working, you salt and pepper the tilapia, and sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of paprika on it. After the potatoes have roasted for 20 minutes, nestle the tilapia in with the potatoes and cook for about 15 more minutes. It was so good! It's a recipe from Real Simple this month. I linked the recipe...I didn't follow it exactly.

I also cooked a spiced couscous and chicken dish from this month's Food Network Magazine(my new favorite food mag to which I'll be subscribing from now on). I'll link the recipe because honestly, I didn't follow it enough to write about how to change it, and I didn't like it. It was a one hit wonder in this household.

This past weekend husband I visited family in Florida. While I was there, I cooked diner with some of the family. We had fillet, my favorite risotto, grilled corn, and Cesar salad. There was good food and good company. It was nice to have dinner with everyone! While there we dined at Disney World, but that's really nothing to write home about. The trip was fun, the food was, well, theme park food. We also went out to dinner one night to Bonefish- only one of my favorite restaurants. That made my stomach smile.

I'm sure I have cooked other, perhaps, noteworthy dishes, but I can't recall them right now. And-this post is long enough. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but the links do have a picture if you're just dying to check it out (which I know you all are, don't deny it).

In closing, I would like to recommend to you pretzal lovers out there, Pepridge Farm Baked Naturals Pretzal Thins. I bought them tonight and they are delectable.

Until next time...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Laptop is sick

My laptop is sick and therefore had to be shipped off to be fixed. So, currently I am having to share a computer with my husband. So I don't really get the time to post/upload pictures. Plus, while I'm appreciate of him letting me use his computer, I just like mine better, call me a laptop snob if you will. So, I will resume posting as soon as my laptop returns and when that will be is yet to be determined; I am at the mercy of Dell. Until next time...

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Favorite Risotto

Right now I am sitting in my living room with the heater on. I can’t believe it went from 80’s to 60’s so quickly! But, alas, I am glad fall is here. October is my most favorite month of the year. I love the leaves changing, the weather cooling (although the permanent cool of winter I am not a fan of), pumpkins, a change in wardrobe, and the colors. Tonight I am going to paint my toe nails a new fall color and break out my fall/winter clothes. The night promises to be productive. I am cooking tilapia with roasted tomatoes and lemon. The recipe looks appetizing. I wanted to make onion rings (someone mentioned onion rings the other night and I have wanted them ever since), but the lack of some ingredients and my small opposition to frying things seems to be getting in my way. I am positive I could get over the frying aversion, but I really don’t want to drive to the grocery store, so I will have to forego the onion rings.

Tonight’s post is on two dinners from last week. It seems as if my time to post dwindles each week, therefore causing quite the delay in posting. The first dinner was grilled flank steak, sautéed squash, and tomato risotto. This is my ALL TIME favorite risotto recipe. I love, love, love this risotto and if you come to my house I will probably make this for you. The recipe is as follows:1 onion, diced, 3 cloves of garlic, chopped, 1 cup (or so) of risotto, ¾ c white wine, 16 oz chicken broth, 28oz can of diced or pureed tomatoes, 2tbs butter, and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. First you combine the chicken broth and the diced tomatoes into a large sauce pan and simmer on low. While that is working, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add the risotto to the onion and garlic, cook for one minute. Then, pour in the wine and cook until absorbed, salt and pepper to taste. After the wine has absorbed, add a ladle or two of the broth mixture into the risotto and cook until absorbed. Continue adding another ladle full until the broth is gone. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the 2tbs of butter and the parmesan. I love it.

The other dinner in tonight’s post is salmon with steamed carrots and sautéed zucchini. I coated the salmon in extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and then grilled it. I sautéed the zucchini in evoo, and added salt, pepper, and garlic. For the carrots, I steamed them in the microwave with a dash of brown sugar. To top the salmon I made a shallot vinaigrette that is a recipe from Real Simple September (not pictured). The vinaigrette was a ¼ cup diced red onion (I substituted this for the shallot since I had it), 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 tsp dill, 3 tablespoons of evoo, salt, and pepper. It was really good.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grace & Changes

Tonight was the first time in two weeks I feel like I just have had time to think. Tonight, I took a run at sunset. Well, I walked a good bit of it, but it was a great time to be out in God’s beauty and think. Tonight, as I ran, I saw a couple of those “air fairies” (which I think are really just dandelion seeds, but they are still magical none the less) that I used to make wishes on when I was I was a kid. I stopped and caught one and I made a wish. I wished that my friend Libby would be cured of her cancer. As I ran (and walked) I thought a lot, and it was nice. I thought about what I was going to make for dinner, what I will wear tomorrow, and about how long I would run (I think I went for two and half miles). I thought about God and how gracious He is. And- how His grace is new every morning. And- how I am so unworthy of that and how I am so glad that He has called me His child. I thought about how I take this all for granted so often and how I let myself get wrapped up in things that are not important. I thought about how I wanted to change that, and how life is too short not to.

After my run, I went next door (really through the closet that connects our apartment to “the big house”). I had a salad with my neighbors; a wonderful family of five who have become my second family. I then came back to my apartment and fixed scallops for dinner. I changed my recipe for them tonight. I started off by cooking some thin spaghetti noodles. While they were working, I made a white wine sauce for the noodles. It consisted of about a ¼ cup of minced red onion, a cup of chicken broth, ¾ cup white wine, salt, pepper, and thyme. I sautéed my onion in extra virgin olive oil first, then added the rest of the ingredients. I poured this over my drained pasta. For the scallops, I cut off the muscle, drizzled in evoo and salt and peppered them. Then, I broiled them in the oven for about seven minutes. I topped the pasta with the scallops. It was pretty good; there is room for improvement, of course.

“There's only grace. There's only love. There's only mercy and believe me it's enough. Your sins are gone, without a trace and there's nothing left now. There's only grace” –Matthew West