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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love Story

Since I had no leftovers for lunch tomorrow, I decided to go with a classic: pb&j. I just wanted to throw it out there, that while preparing my lunch, I just ate a spoonful of peanut butter and jelly- only one of the greatest love stories known to man.

A nice ending for today.

Friends, Fun, & Frustration

It never ceases to amaze me that people find it to be an acceptable behavior to pull out in front of an oncoming car, that is going fast- five miles or more over the speed limit, and then go slow, like ten to fifteen miles under the speed limit. Why is that ok? If you know you are going to drive slow, do. not. pull. out. in. front. of. people. who. have. somewhere. to. be.

That rant sums up my week in a way. I am going along my own little way at a good speed and then someone or something comes out in front of me and slows up my whole process. I was unprepared, I feel, to face this week. It has been a roller coaster ride. There have been really great things that have happened and really frustrating things that have happened. Both are playing a significant role in my exhaustion as I type this right now. I don't really have an insightful word to sum up this week other than crazy- so I apologize for the blogging drought. I have not found any time, other than now, to just sit and write.

I hate the saying "always expect the unexpected". Um, I can't do that because I don't know what the unexpected is going to be-duh. (Yes I just said duh.) Never the less, I feel like I am on the brighter end of this, full-of-unexpectedness week. My husband has been out of town and that always kind of puts a little twist in my world. (Although, I do get to cook slightly more adventurous things while he is gone since I don't have to think about avoiding certain ingredients. However, much to my frustration, I didn't do much of that this time around.) He's coming home tonight and I'm so glad. Life just seems a little "off" when he's not around.

Anyway, the only two significant dishes I have to blog about are two that I made with some friends last Friday and last night. The first one below is Cacio e Pepe with Warm Tomato Salad. This is a very fresh dinner without meat- my little brother would like it (who I got to see on Sunday and it made me smile). It's a Rachael Ray recipe. I changed it a little bit, but I think if you follow the recipe it would be just as good. I didn't feel like messing with smelly garlic yesterday because it was quite the day and somehow garlic plus a bad day just don't work with me. So I didn't saute my spaghetti noodles in garlic, but it was still good. And- anytime I can use herbs out of my garden it makes me happy. I made this dish for my friend Jesse who grated the parmesean cheese that is on top (that's a substitution, the recipe calls for pecorino-romano). I must say, she is a magnificent cheese grater. Then, we made chocolate chip cookies (from already made dough, believe me, I didn't attempt any baking this week) and ate them because they were good. I saved some for my husband, wasn't that nice?

On Friday night, two of my other friends, Becky and Janice, came over. Janice and I played an intense game of tennis and then we all came back and cooked dinner. I did a mix of recipes. We had cucumber couscous, marinated cucumbers (yes I do realize that two dishes contained cucumbers, one was a leftover), and salmon. For the couscous, we diced a cucumber and chopped a scallion and added it to cooked couscous. I added a splash of Italian dressing for flavor. Originally I had planned on making a balsamic and thyme glaze for the salmon. Well that was a failed attempt. So, I resorted to a glaze that I have made before. It is a mix of maple syrup and soy sauce, heated. All of the meal was pretty tasty. Becky had chicken instead of salmon because she, well, doesn't like salmon.

Sorry the pictures aren't great...I was off my game this week. Next week promises to be better. And- my husband just called with some great life is good, even when people pull out in front of you, you feel overwhelmed, and things just seem crazy- life is still good.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Risotto Cakes & The First Apples of Fall I love it in pretty much any shape or fashion it may present itself in. After mashed potatoes, risotto is my number one comfort food. No question about it. For those of you out there thinking risotto is the impossible and most difficult rice ever- I am here to say that it is indeed not! You just must have patience my friends. Good things come to those who wait.

My favorite risotto recipe is one that I adapted about two years ago from Rachael Ray. One day I'll post about it; I believe it's on the menu later this month. As for now, I am happy to report on my most recent risotto cooking experience: chive risotto cakes. It's an Ina Garten recipe. It way simple and great because you can make the "batter" ahead of time and cook when you're ready for them. Since I do nothing to change the recipe I am just linked it above. You should definitely try them. They are so very delicious, and you can use them as an appetizer in mini-form, or as a side item at a meal- so versatile!

I also embarked on a new Ina Garten recipe which brings in a little Julia Child flava- so my two favorites in one! I made a French Apple Tart. I also linked that recipe because you don't want to make it the way I did- you want to make it Ina's way. Trust me, it's better. I for some reason, just can not master baking. I am not keen on having to be so exact in my measurements and not really being able, with my knowledge, to substitute ingredients when I want to. I made the tart to the best of my ability but I think that I lost all of the French part to it when I didn't include the apricot jam (thought I had it and didn't) and the Calvados. Ina had put in some things you could substitute the Calvados with, I thought I had that too, but I was mistaken. So after baking I coated my tart in a brown sugar glaze. It turned out decent enough that my husband ate it- more than once. So, it was not a complete let down. Pictures are below! The first is a pre-baking shot, the next is after baking (dropped my camera in the brown sugar glaze on that one), the last is a slice.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Incredible, Edible...Egg.

This post is dedicated to Becky Swanson for her blog reading dedication.

Eggs have made their way on to the menu lately. It all started with the frittata and has now evolved into other egg variations. And- I am all egged out so these will be the last couple of meals including eggs for a while. I believe that the eggs currently remaining in my fridge will make their way into boxed brownie mix (yes, boxed because I am baking-challenged).

Friday night I was flying solo for dinner so I opted for breakfast. I don't like "big breakfast food" in the morning, only at night. I saw Ina Garten making breakfast the other day for one of her many Hampton friends and felt inspired. Her scrambled eggs looked too good not to try. So, last night I made the said eggs which turned out "ok". I feel like I went a little too heavy on the herbs (parsley, basil, dill, & scallions). There was too much for the amount of eggs I had, so I suggest go light on your herbs when making scrambled eggs with herbs. I also cooked up some bacon and made some biscuits.

Tonight we had a large crowd over for dinner. We grilled chicken, and I roasted potatoes and made deviled eggs- for the first time. I called my mom while grocery shopping, got the scoop on how to make them, and went for it. In my opinion, they turned out pretty good. I used a secret ingredient of my own (in addition to mustard, mayo, vinegar, salt, and pepper combined in the egg yolks) and I'm excited because I've don't often make anything that includes my own secret ingredients. We also had bread and salad. Later we had s'mores by the campfire.

On a more random note, I really have a strong opposition to curly-leaf parsley. As I have mentioned in prior posts, I don't live in an area that is thriving with the best fresh ingredients. So, the other day the grocery store I reported to for a couple last minute ingredients, did not have flat-leaf parsley, only curly. So, since I needed the parsley for my eggs, I just bought it. (The flat-leaf parsley in my herb garden has not produced enough for me to cut off. If I did, I'd have no more.) Well, I brought it home and went to start chopping and concluded that it is just too finicky to be considered a worthwhile herb. It gets all tangled up and just tastes off. So, in conclusion, I will no longer be purchasing curly-leaf parsley- no matter how badly I need it. I'm better off with dried parsley. Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. Until next time...