Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Simple Update

As I sit here, I am trying to think of something positive to start off my post. I will go with- it is sunny outside, I always enjoy seeing the sun. Today has been exhausting, not really physically, but mentally. I have a migraine from it all. But in lieu of complaining, I will just write a few simple updates.

1. Tonight I have no idea what we are going to have for dinner. We didn't grocery shop this weekend and so I suppose I'll have to get real creative or just eat Easter candy.

2. If you look back at this post: Time for Herbs you'll see a picture of my once-beautiful herbs, emphasis on the "once". Since that post, the dill, cilantro, and parsley have all died. The thyme has all but died. I've replaced the dill and the parsley and am trying to salvage the thyme. This all is very sad. Note to self: next year wait until May to plant herbs.

3. I love when I get prompt thank you note cards in the mail. Not because I want to be thanked really, but because I think that thank-you note writing is a dying art form that needs to be rekindled!

4. Husband is coming home early tonight because I needed him to, that is nice of him.

And now for this post's favorite kitchen gadget: a bench scrape. This is a great tool for scooping up chopped vegetables and transferring them to a pot. Sometimes I forget I have one and it's exciting to pull open the drawer and see it there! Mine is like the one in the picture (from Macy's) but has a red handle.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Friday Dinner

It was the perfect Easter weekend! The weather here was awesome and husband and I spent Easter day with my family. We dined on a lot of wonderful food (a real Southern meal), had an Easter egg hunt, and relaxed outside. The Easter Bunny brought me a new pilates mat and the movie “Despicable Me”. I was very excited!

On Friday, we had our friends Jesse and Krew over for “Good Friday dinner”. I tried out some new recipes (which all good etiquette says never to try out new recipes for guests- but they’re close friends and don’t really care). We had fish cakes and roasted shrimp on salad greens with fingerling potatoes. I liked this meal because there were a lot of things that I could do ahead of time. My favorite part of it all was the fish cakes; the recipe was from this month’s Real Simple. They featured a “10 things to do with Tilapia” section which I really liked, because tilapia can get boring. Here’s how to make the cakes:

You’ll need: 4 6-ounce tilapia filets, ½ cup mayo, 2 eggs, 2 tbs chopped dill, 1 tbs Dijon mustard, ¾ cup bread crumbs (panko probably will work best). Preheat the oven to 400. Salt and pepper the tilapia and bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes, until cooked through. Meanwhile, combine the mayo, eggs, dill, and mustard in a medium bowl. When the fish is finished, fold it in. Next form the batter into medium-sized cakes; you’ll get 8-9. Coat the cakes in the bread crumbs. Heat about 2 tbs of evoo in a non-stick skillet. Cook the cakes on medium heat 3-5 minutes on each side.

The shrimp are really easy to do. Peel and devein 15-20 shrimp. Preheat the oven to 400. Coat the shrimp in evoo, salt, and pepper and place them in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 6-8 minutes until pink and firm.

I made a lemon vinaigrette for the salad greens, and served the fish cakes and shrimp on that. The fingerling potatoes were on the side. I’m linking the recipe for the potatoes. They were “ok”, I don’t think that fingerling potatoes are my favorite, so I didn’t like them as much.

I also made a little lemon loaf cake for dessert. It was ok considering my “baking impairment”.

Time for one of my favorite kitchen gadgets: a good chef knife. Every cook needs a good, sharp chef knife. This knife can do just about anything you want so it is what I would start my knife collection with. When we got married we got a block of knives, but they aren’t the greatest in the world. For Christmas, husband gave me a Wusthof chef knife. I love it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Night on my Own

Right now, I am enjoying the lull of my quiet house. Husband is out of town for the night and I get the place to myself- not that he is particurally noisy or anything, it's just nice to have some solitude (especially after a busy and noisy day teaching middle school kids).

After work today I went into town, went to church, and went to the Y. We have now joined our local Y, which requires me to drive 30 minutes to work out rather than 2. At first glance, the chances of me actually doing this seem very slim. However, I do really enjoy that at the Y there are a lot of people working out so it semi-inspires me to keep going and they have pilates classes! I'll start them in the summer since they meet at 6:15 am and there is just no way I could make it there and back in time for work.

I also received my shirt from Loft today that they replaced for me after a small iron-burn incident. So that was a welcome package in the mail! I'm expecting another shirt from there by week's end! I linked them because they're 2 of my new spring favorites.

Tonight for dinner I had Creamy Ravioli with Squash, Lemon, and Chives from this month's Real Simple. Only- mine didn't have chives. I am posting the recipe below (from RealSimple.com) It was really good. I was missing the heavy cream you needed and all I could get close by was half and half. You see, when husband and I went to the grocery store on Saturday, I had composed a long and beautiful list of things to get. Well, while still in the beginning stages of our trip, the list was lost- at which point I became incredibly frustrated. I then tried to compose the list from memory, but it was not perfect, and thus I forgot the heavy cream. I do think the ravioli would be even better with the heavy cream. Here's the recipe & picture.
You'll need:
  • 16 to 18 ounces cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon evoo
  • 1 shallot or half an onion chopped
  • 3 squash or zucchini or a mixture of both
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I think these are optional)
Here's how:
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the squash and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the vegetables are tender and the cream is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the squash mixture, parmesan, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pasta and toss gently to coat (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).

Well that's all for now...stay tuned for my next posts where I'll be concluding each one with a favorite kitchen gadget!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Snapshot of Today

Just wanted to give a quick update...

*Today I went to work, came home, the house was very neat- thanks husband.
*Walked the dog- well dragged the dog along for probably about a mile's walk...no more walks.
*Talked to my MIL about a Loft shirt incident I had- went to iron it, burnt a hole, got real sad, called MIL, sent shirt to her, she took it back to Loft, they're sending me a new one, yes!
*Went to Loft.com to browse, everything's 40% off...will buy another top.
*Talked to mom and dad today...We're going to see them on Easter! Mom- come see my herbs!
*Wanted to stream a Pilates video from Netflix on the Wii...turned on Wii, needed a Netflix update, downloaded update, found video, wouldn't play without having to rebuffer every minute...tried on my computer, same problem, no pilates tonight. Will buy video...
*Changed blog background, don't like it too much, will try others...
*Making dinner now, yes at 9:00 pm. Grilled chicken, scalloped potatoes (Southern Living this month rocks), and roasted tomatoes.
*Pictures of dinner & other dinner recipes to come later.

Classic Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes
-Southern Living

2 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Layer potoates evenly in a 13x9 baking dish.
2. Stir together whipping cream and next 4 ingredients. Pour mixture over potatoes.
3. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stopping to stir every 10 minutes. Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until golden and bubbly.

*Will let you know how that turns out!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Time for Herbs

It is warm and sunny today, finally! It has been cold and rainy for the past few days so I am excited to welcome back the sun. Today was a teacher work day; it was nice to transition back into work with a day there by ourselves. Tomorrow it's back to normal, no more breaks until summer- which is, by the way, 29 school days away.

On Friday I planted my herb garden for this year! It was thunder storming out, so I had to plant them on my covered porch, but it was still fun. They have to stay inside for a while because it still too chilly out at night for them. But- they are so pretty and add a lot of life to our living room! The herbs I planted are: dill, parsley, cilantro, thyme, and basil. I also planted a few flowers and a cherry tomato plant.

Also on Friday night, I made a parmesan-crusted tilapia with roasted potatoes and sauteed green beans. It was really good. I've posted about the green beans before and done a similar recipe for the potatoes- I just used some of my fresh herbs on them this time!

To make the fish (2 servings) you will need: 2 tilapia fillets, 1 egg (yolk & white combined), 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 3/4 cup of grated parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Then, prepare 2 "dipping plates". On the first plate place the egg. On the second plate, sprinkle out the parmesan mixture. Take the fish and coat it with the egg. Next, coat it with the parmesan mixture. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second fish. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Take it out and serve with the potatoes and green beans.

Last night I did a pork tenderloin recipe from Southern Living. I followed the recipe almost exactly so I'm linking it here.

Tonight we're having chicken & vegetable kebabs with couscous for dinner and I'm going to a Bible study that I've never gone to before so I am excited for that!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Spring break! I have thoroughly enjoyed this week off from work- it was time for a break. Husband and I headed to North Carolina for the better part of this week and returned yesterday. We spent some time with his grandparents and mom and we also took a few days to ourselves at the river.


Since returning home, I have switched over my wardrobe to spring. It is refreshing to see some color in my closet! Today I was planning on getting the herbs for my herb garden, but it looks real rainy out. So, I'm not so sure that is going to happen. I'm going to run a few other errands in town and then return home to do some serious spring cleaning on this place.

So, did I cook while were on vaca? Of course! We had two really good meals while at the river, most of it was food I have posted about before. I did make some roasted cauliflower, which was really good. I'm not really a big fan of raw cauliflower, but roasted I will take. It's really easy too. To make it, first preheat the oven to 400. Then, you take a head of cauliflower and cut it into little florets. Then, spread it out on a baking sheet. Coat it with evoo, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Done! So good! Sorry, I didn't take a picture.

One night we cooked with my MIL (mother-in-law). We cooked salmon, crab and tomato brushetta, and a new type of risotto- asparagus & green onion. It was a great meal! MIL cooked the salmon coated with a dill butter sauce. I made the risotto which is a recipe from this month's Southern Living. I made some changes as I went. Here's how to make it:

You will need: 1 cup of uncooked aborio rice, 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 cup of green onion (white and green parts), 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, 6 cups of chicken broth, 1/2 pound of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

First, pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan and simmer on low. Then, heat the 2 tbs of evoo in a large, high-side skillet. Add the thyme and green onions and cook until soft, about one minute. To that, add the rice, stirring to coat. Then, stir in about four ladlefuls of the broth to the rice mixture and let it come to a boil. Let this boil for about five minutes (keep a close eye on it to prevent burning) and then begin to stir constantly. When the broth has been absorbed, stir in two more ladlefuls of broth and stir constantly until absorbed. Repeat this step until all of the broth is gone. When you have put in your last two ladles of broth, add in the asparagus. Cook until it is tender. Stir in the parmesan cheese.

Asparagus & Green Onion Risotto

Our Meal

Well, I am off to make my to-do list for today. Until next time...