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So, in case you were wondering….we did get out of work on Friday!!!  I live at the top of a giant hill, which was all ice.  They actually closed the road until Saturday morning because it was so slick.  And since it never rarely snows in Atlanta, there aren’t enough salt trucks to de-ice the non-main roads – they only focus on the highway.  So all the little windy, back roads and neighborhoods were quite treacherous.  I may have exaggerated slightly about being stuck (even though the road was closed, I probably could have made it out the back way.  But I didn’t want to risk wrecking my car).  The three-day weekend was nice!  And I was even a good girl and did a few hours of work from home.

Fado was brave and ventured out into the snow – Project 365 photo 8

The view from my patio

The black ice in the parking lot and the closed street

Anyway…since Atlanta was in a deep freeze this weekend, there wasn’t too much unnecessary venturing outside going on.  We were pretty much holed up all weekend.  But just because we were home, doesn’t mean that we weren’t productive.

Saturday morning someone came by to look at the condo.  This meant that we had to be out of the house at 10:30 a.m.  We decided to head to West Egg for brunch to kill the time.  While we were there, JD, T and I decided that we should cook something really delicious for dinner.  We all voted on osso bucco.  We used a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis**, but of course we tweaked it to our liking.  The recipe called for 6 veal shanks, but we used 3 and then 3 beef short ribs (and thank God we did because the veal at Whole Foods cost a TON of money).

My parents bought us a one of those handy-dandy enamel cast iron dutch ovens for Christmas, so we thought it would be the perfect pot to use for the osso bucco.  The recipe says to cook the dish in the oven, after browning it, for 1.5 hours.  We wanted the meat to be extra tender, so we simmered it on low heat for 3.5 hours on the stove.  It turns out amazingly that way!

The osso bucco over pasta

Since we decided to throw in a few spoonfuls of crushed tomatoes, that left us with a giant can of leftovers.  JD volunteered to make a pomodoro sauce that we could use for dinner on Sunday.  We agreed that it would be a great idea, and decided to make mozzarella stuffed meatballs to eat with it – also another Giada recipe.  Everything turned out great! (FYI – I just made the amatriciana sauce tonight for the leftover meatballs, and it smells amazing!  I did use bacon instead of pancetta though because I already had that here.)

Sunday’s meatball extravaganza

All pretty (and delicious) on the plate

While the food was cooking on Saturday, we convinced T to watch Julie & Julia with us.  Let me tell you guys, the movie is super cute!  I liked it a lot, and it totally inspired me to get my butt in the kitchen and get cooking.  Plus it’s one of those feel good,make you smile kind of movies.

In honor of Julie’s and Julia’s kitchen conquests, I was inspired to get up on Sunday morning and cook a restaurant-style brunch (only there were no mimosas – damn GA and the no selling alcohol on Sunday policy).  I made oven roasted potatoes topped with fresh parsley, rosemary and garlic.  Then (with T’s help) I whipped up eggs benedict.  T made the poached eggs, while I slaved over the hollandaise.  The food was very labor intensive, and I don’t think I’ve ever used so many pots while cooking breakfast, but it was worth it.  It was delicious!  I will definitely make it again sometime soon!

So did you eat or make anything super tasty this weekend?  Did you see any great movies?

**Osso Bucco Recipe (with my edits)

Makes 6 main-course servings

6 1- to 1 1/2 – inch-thick slices veal shank (we do half and half beef short ribs and veal shanks)

2 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons crushed or stewed (if you want chunks) tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine

About 4 cups chicken broth

1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

1 large sprig of fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 whole cloves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Pat the veal dry with paper towels to ensure even browning. Secure the meat to the bone with kitchen twine. Season
the veal with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper. Dredge the veal in flour to coat the cut sides lightly.

In a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the meat in a single layer (or do 2 batches), heat the oil over a medium heat until hot. Add the meat and cook until brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the veal to a platen ad reserve.

In the same pan, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add enough chicken broth to come two thirds of the way up the sides of the meat. Add the herb sprigs, bay leaf, and cloves to the broth mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Once simmering, turn heat to low and simmer 2.5-3 hours, until the meat is fall off the bone tender.

Serve over pasta and top with grated Parmesan and parsley.

I’ve been a little slack about cooking since we returned for our Germany trip.  We’ve been eating out a ton and catching up with friends in the process.  This week, I decided to get my butt back into the kitchen.  And I’m so glad I did because we’ve had some awesome dinners this week!

It’s been cool and rainy in Atlanta this week, and Monday it was nasty out.  I decided that it would be a good day to make some soup.  Except I didn’t know where to start.  So I went to my favorite Web site to track down some recipes.  Food Network must have known I was coming, because on the homepage I found a link to 50 easy soup recipes…sweet!

I read through most of them until I found one that jumped out at me.  On page 2, there it was.  Potato Chowder (recipe #16).  I’d never made a potato soup before, so I was a little nervous.  But it was actually really easy to make and souper (haha) tasty.  We added in some cheese and ate a baguette with it, which was perfect for dipping into the soup.

Yesterday I started coming down with a cold, so I was definitely craving some comfort food for dinner.  T suggested we make more potato soup, but I was craving something different.  I always read about how amazing lobster mac and cheese is from other bloggers, so we decided to make some ourselves.

A few weeks ago, Ina Garten had a comfort food episode where she made the lobster mac and it looked amazing.  Since I wasn’t feeling well, T went to the store and bought the ingredients.  Let me just warn you – making lobster mac and cheese is expensive.  T spent $40 alone on the lobster (he was only able to find frozen tails in the store by us, it may be cheaper if you can get a whole lobster).  We thought that the lobster wasn’t indulgent enough, so we fried up some bacon to crumble in it as well.  We made fresh bread crumbs, sprinkled them on top, and baked it all until it was golden brown.

Let me just tell you, that mac was amazing!  It made a pretty large amount, so we have leftovers for tonight!  And it wasn’t really too hard to make.  I’ve never really made homemade mac and cheese, but I think I might start doing it now because it just tastes so damn good!

I wish I had some pictures to show you, but alas I don’t.  So sorry.  I’ll past the recipes below in case you want to try them for yourself, which I highly recommend you do!

Potato Chowder

Sauté 4 ounces chopped bacon; add 2 tablespoons butter, 2 sliced leeks and 2 teaspoons each sage and thyme. Add 4 cups chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups cream, a bay leaf and 3 chopped potatoes. Simmer until tender; top with chives.

I also added 3 cloves of garlic and topped it with a handful of cheddar cheese.  I simmered it for about 30 minutes  – it cut the potato chunks pretty small so they would cook faster.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

nocoupons

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

I am not originally from the South, so sometimes I don’t understand people’s love for real Southern cooking.  I don’t like greens.  I wouldn’t eat pinto beans, butter beans or okra as a side dish.  Salty cornbread with cracklin (aka pig fat) seriously grosses me out.  I’m not averse to eating all types of Southern cuisine though.  I do love biscuits, fried chicken and catfish,  and BBQ.  I wasn’t always a fan of grits growing up, but the older I get, the more I came to love some oey-goey, cheesy grits.

Living in the South for a majority of my life means that sometimes I’ve heard of dishes that have sounded intriguing, but I never tried them for whatever reason.  Rewind to last year when I was on a media trip to South Carolina and we had a dish known as shrimp and grits for dinner.  At first I was a bit weirded out.  Grits are a breakfast food, why are we having them for dinner?  But I stopped myself from over thinking it.  I like shrimp.  I like grits.  There should be no reason I don’t like them together.  Well, like them I did.  They were delicious!

So, yesterday I was sitting at work and the ever present question “What are we having for dinner?” came to me.  I was stumped.  I asked T if he had any ideas, and he had nothing.  I twiddled my thumbs a bit, then it hit me.  I would make shrimp and grits.  And it would be amazing.  And let me tell you readers, it was!  I try not to brag, but I will toot my own horn when it comes to cooking (you should have tried the mushroom risotto I made Sunday night – ballin’!)

I began scouring Food Network for some recipes, and I found a couple that I liked.  But not one I wanted to follow completely.  I decided to use the recipe from the competitor on Throwdown with Bobby Flay: Shrimp and Grits.  He was a real down home Georgia boy, who looked like he knew how to make shrimp and grits.

I pretty much used his recipe as a guide.  I’m not one for measuring things when I cook, unless it’s a larger amount of liquid.  I like to season to my tastes and rarely follow recipes to the T.  I liked his basic recipe, but added in some bacon instead of ham and added onions to the garlic that would be used to saute the shrimp and for the sauce to top it all off.  I’m glad I did that because those shrimp and grits were better than any I’ve ever had in a restaurant (a lot of times I find the grits bland and there aren’t enough shrimp.)  T raved about the dish for the rest of the night, which made me happy.

So if any of you feel adventurous, here is the recipe including the tweaks I made:

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp:

  • 26-30 count shrimp (I used frozen ones, that I peeled completely)
  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning – it is the best ever and good on so many things!
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Grits:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or powdered bouillon)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 3/4 cup half and half (you can use heavy or regular whipping cream, but I was trying to save some calories)
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar (I didn’t really measure, I just put in a ton of cheese because I love it – you can do more or less)

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter (use less if you use the bacon grease)
  • drippings from the bacon (you can skip this part and just use the butter)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half (you can use heavy or regular whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 8 slices of your favorite bacon (I used thick center cut)

Directions

First, peel and devein the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, paprika, Italian seasoning and pepper, to taste (you don’t need extra salt because the Cajun seasoning has salt in it).  Sprinkle the spice mixture over the shrimp to coat well and set aside.

Next, make your grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water, chicken bouillon and 2 tablespoons butter to a boil. Slowly add the grits, whisking often with wire whisk for 5 minutes. Add cream, and cheese. Keep whisking for another 2 or 3 minutes until the grits become creamy. I added a few more splashes of cream so they’d be extra smooth.

Chop up your bacon into pieces, then fry in a skillet.  Once done, set the bacon aside to drain.  Add in the onions and garlic, and saute in the bacon grease for about a minute.  I also added in a little bit of butter to keep the onions  and garlic from burning.  Add in the shrimp and saute them until they are cooked through.   Make sure you don’t overcook them because they’ll get rubbery. Remove only the shrimp from the saute pan and set them aside in a bowl.

Make a roux from the shrimp drippings that contain the onions and garlic.  Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spatula to make a roux.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until roux reaches a medium-tan color, then slowly add the chicken stock and cream. Whisk together and cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  I let it cook a few minutes more so the sauce would thicken up a bit.  Salt and pepper it to taste.

To serve, place a  grits into a bowl, top with a lot of shrimp, drizzle with the sauce, and top of with crisp bacon pieces.

It’s not very healthy, but it is damn good!  Next time I may only use a little of the bacon grease.

Shrimp and gritsThis is not the best picture ever, since it’s my leftovers in a Tupperware for lunch.  But I forgot to take a picture of it last night because I was so excited to try it!

Man, is it hard returning to work after a 3-day weekend.  I love having the time off, but at the same time feel depressed because our next official holiday is Labor Day.  And that’s 62 days away still.  Sigh…

The holiday weekend was definitely needed and much appreciated.  Thursday night we went with some friends to go see The Hangover.  Unfortunately the 8 p.m. show was sold out, so we decided to go get some drinks and hang out until the 11 p.m. show.  Of course silly little me had a few too many drinks, and by the time we were supposed to head to the movie, I didn’t want to go anymore.  We’d met up with my co-worker Mel, so JJ (former co-worker) and I stayed to hang out while the T and another friend went to the movie.

That was a bad choice.  Of course I ended up drinking way too much and felt super crappy for a large part of Friday.  Luckily I did recover enough to head to the pool for a bit.  It was my first time this season – sad I know.  I was not loving the way I looked in my bathing suit, but at least there were some other people there who should definitely not have been wearing what they were wearing.  Our friend Chris so lovingly dubbed them the “bodies by bud babes,” which cracked us all up.  And also made me feel a little less self conscious.

Later that night, we hit up the Atlanta Brewing Company for some brews.  It was a pretty relaxing early evening, which got a little crazy when some bees kept dive bombing Little S and her boyfriend.  At one point they were running up and down the parking lot, screaming like crazy people to get away from the damn thing.  It was pretty hysterical.  After ABC, we decided to head to the pool for some night swimming and drinks.

I made this thing called a bowle;  it’s like German sangria.  And it’s perfect for hot summer nights.  You take some fruit – I used raspberries and blue berries – and soak them in a little liquor – I used triple sec – and a bottle of white wine.  Let them sit for about 30 minutes (you can also do it overnight, but I didn’t think about making it until sort of late and didn’t want to wait that long).  Then top the mixture off with a bottle of champagne and about half of a 2-liter bottle of seltzer.  It is awesome.  You can basically use any type of fruit and any type of wine.  I tried to stick with drier versions to keep the next day headache away.  You can also use more wine or champagne if you have a larger group coming.  Try it – I promise you will love it! 🙂

Saturday, T and I had a breakfast date at one of our favorite Atlanta brunch spots – West Egg.  If you live in Atlanta, you better make sure you try this place.  You won’t be let down.  Afterward, we headed to the pool for a bit of 4th of July sun.  Later that night, we went to CMc’s 4th of July/birthday extravaganza where we showed off some tacky stars and stripes gear.  T wore a woman’s t-shirt with the Statue of Liberty  and sparkly pink and teal stars on the front.  I’m not sure why the stars weren’t red and blue…I made myself some super cool star flops and a stunning foam visor.  What can I say, I’m crafty!  The party was fun.  We drank, we cornholed, we beer ponged, and then we danced our asses off in the tiniest and hottest bar ever at the end of the night.

Yesterday was a veg out day.  We watched Running with Scissors.  It was pretty good, but I definitely recommend the book for the full on crazy details.  I still can’t believe it’s a true story.  Later in the evening we watched Scream 3 – so not as good as the first one.  And later started in on True Blood – season 1.  Let me just say, I’m hooked.  When the show first came out, I thought it was going to be stupid.  But we watched the first 2 episodes last night, and I can’t wait to get home and watch a few more.  I even went ahead and ordered the books today because I am dying for something good to read.  I hope they are as good as I’ve heard.

Are any of you reading the books?  Or watching the show?  I figure T and I need to just go ahead and set up our TiVo to record season 2 so we can jump right in after we finish season 1!

Sorry to leave all of you guys without any glorious readings for the past few days.  I’ve been super busy at work, helping my boss with something while she’s been out of town.  Then once I get home, I’m just a lump on the couch until bed time.  It’s been freezing out, and I’m exhausted.   I know, sometimes I lead a super exciting life!

Last night I decided to try a new recipe for dinner that I saw on the lid of my feta cheese container.  It’s called Chicken Feta Pizza.  It’s a fairly simple recipe that uses pre-cooked chicken strips, garlic and herb feta, a pizza crust, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.  The recipe sounded good enough on its own, but I decided to spice it up a little.

First of all, the pizza was sauceless.  I was a little worried that it would end up being dry in the end if there was no sauce, but I didn’t even notice after I chomped in to the finished product.  The recipe said you needed to brush the crust with some olive oil.  I kicked it up a notch (sorry Emeril for stealing your lingo) and added some garlic paste to the oil before brushing it on my crust.  This was a good idea.

I love cheese and chicken, but I thought the pizza needed some veggies as well.  So I decided to wilt some fresh spinach to top it with.  Then for kicks, I added black olives and mushrooms because I love them so much.  I finished the bad boy with the feta, mozzarella and some Parmesan cheeses and popped it into the oven on my pizza stone for 12 minutes.

The result, mouth-watering amazingness.  Want to see?

pizza Mmm, nom noms!

The best part is that I still have 2 slices left over for lunch today and the remaining pizza ingredients to make a yummy spinach salad for lunch tomorrow.  Yeah I know, I rock! 😉

When you cook something (new), do you follow the recipe to a T?  Or do you use it for inspiration then just do your own thing?

I tend to be a “use it for inspiration” type of girl myself.  So far it’s always ended well, so I think I’ll stick to it! 🙂

Last night I took my first step into the bread-like baking arena.  I’ve baked cookies and cakes before but never anything bready, like a pretzel.  I do have to admit that I was a little scared by this task at first, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad.

Originally we were hoping to get a recipe from T’s Oma, but we weren’t able to track it down in time.  So we found one on AllRecipes.com and went from there.

I mixed everything together and got a lump of super sticky dough that I had to kneed for like 8 minutes.  That was seriously some hard work.  After that, I put the lump in a greasy bowl so it could rest for an hour.

A little later, T and I were ready to dive hands first into pretzel making, so we took the dough out of the fridge.  Let me tell you, the thing tripled in size.  It was huge.  We cut it into 12 chunks and began rolling away.

T and I have different pretzel making styles.  Mine look like your traditional pretzels while his had lots of twists in the middle.  We both had an amazing time, and it was such a stress reliever to roll the dough, swing it around and fold it into a pretzel.  We coated them in a whole egg wash solution so they would get golden brown and loaded on the kosher salt so they’d be authentic.  We tried one last night, and it was amazing!

I am about to head out for the day, and head to our Oktoberfest party so I can chow down on our masterpieces.

The pretzels before they went into the oven.  The twisty middles are T’s.

The finished products!  Salty and delicious.

Cats

Everyday when I get home, I experience the same phenomenon.  Now that the weather is cooler, I leave my upstairs windows open all day long.  As soon as I pull in front of my house, I am greeted by meows from Fado, sitting in my window.  All I can see is his greenish eyes peering out at me from behind the screen and his pink little mouth opening and closing as he greets me.  Then I hear the thump of him leaping onto the floor to run down the stairs and sit by the door until I come in.  When I push open the door, there they sit.  Two fuzz balls meowing, meowing and meowing.  They are happy that I’m home.  They want their squishy food.  They want to go outside.  This is my routine every night.

Normally I head into the kitchen and open the sliding glass door to let them out and let fresh air in.  Sometimes they, mainly Fado, go outside right away.  Other times they sit and howl until I feed them.  You would think that they are half starved by the way the act even though they have 3 food bowls filled with dry food.  Fado is a little vocal, but Zoey is annoying.  She just walks under my feet howling.  Then when I try to get the can food out of the cabinet, she tries to dive in head first.  What can I say, she’s a fatty and has always been obsessed with her food.  Things quiet down once their bowls hit the floor.

Fado usually eats a few bites, then runs outside while Zoey eats hers and finishes off his.  Then she will still continue to follow me around.  Sometimes we’ll go onto the porch, where I will have a cig and she’ll rub on my foot or leg.  Sometimes she’ll roll in the dirt (I love it when she does this – the other week she rolled in dog shit.  It was awesome.) and other times she will just meow at me and let me scratch her head.  She’s a funny one. And that’s how my work day ends, every day.

Falafels and Tatziki

Last night I made homemade tatziki to accompany some delicious falafels.  I really love this dish and realize I need to make it more often.  Yesterday though, things did not go quite so well.  We received some awesome new non-stick pans as a wedding present.  I love them but still have to get used to the fact that I can’t crank the heat up on them without having semi-disastrous results.

Last night, for example, I poured my peanut oil into a pan and heated it up on med-hi.  I thought it looked ready, so I plopped my first batch of falafels in (I had heard some popping, which I thought was the oil, but I think it was actually water on the burner).  Well, the oil wasn’t hot enough.  Boo.  I turned up the heat some hoping to salvage them.  Well, this lead to them burning into the pan.  Trying to scrape a half fried falafel out of a pan filled with hot oil is not fun.  And not great for the falafel.  Needless to say, some of the first batch ended up as falafel crumbs.  The next round went much better.

In the end, I stuffed a few of these bad boys, some feta, cucumbers and lettuce into a pita and topped it with my tatziki sauce.  Let me tell you, it’s awesome.  In case you are curious, I will share my recipe with you.  I don’t really measure anything and just go by taste.  But this should give you an idea for the ingredients.

Bing’s Tatziki Sauce

1 large container of Greek yogurt (can be any amount of fat – I used non-fat last night, and the size varies depending on how much you want to make)

Olive oil

Fresh garlic or garlic paste/garlic powder

Lemon juice

Dill

Paprika (I like the way it looks and tastes – can be skipped)

English cucumber (I use part of it in the dip and slices of it in the pita pocket)

Salt and pepper

1.  Peel and shred the cucumber into a strainer and top with salt.  This will draw the water out.  The longer you wait, the better.  I usually wait about 30 minutes.

2. Drain any liquid off of the yogurt and pour into a bowl.  You can add a dash of olive oil if you like.

3.  Mix in desired amount of garlic, dill, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper.  I like a lot of garlic and dill!

4.  Add in the cucumbers and gently stir.  (Remember to go easy on the salt because the cucumbers are salted)

5.  Store in the fridge for about an hour so the flavors meld together.  Serve with falafels, pitas or any other Greekish food!

Happy weekend!

Last night I made the most amazing dinner, if I do say so myself.  T actully really liked it a lot too so I guess I’m not really being too vain.

Sometimes I feel like we fall into a dinner rut and make the same things over and over.  Or go out to eat instead of cooking.  I am trying to be better about this.

Last night I decided to make broiled salmon, fresh green beans, and rustic mashed potatoes.  I’ve made the salmon and beans before, but never the mashed potatoes.  I’ve made mashies before for shepherd’s pie, but never as a side dish for dinner.  So last night I decided to be creative and make them they way I wanted, from scratch.

First I stopped at the grocery store and picked up 2 salmon steaks, a bag of fresh green beans, and some little red potatoes.  Once I got home, the creativity began.  I threw the potatoes in the pot so they could cook and began making the seasoning for my salmon and mashed potatoes.

Normally I just brush a little butter on the salmon, sprinkle it with garlic salt and black pepper.  Last night I tried something new.  I melted a little less than half a stick of butter in a pan.  I drizzled a little olive oil on it so it wouldn’t burn.  Then I threw in some garlic paste, salt and pepper, and some parsley.  Once it was all melted, I brushed the salmon with it and broiled it in the oven for 15-20 minutes (one piece was a bit thicker than the other, so it took a little longer).

Once the potatoes were fork tender, I drained them but saved a little bit of the cooking water in the pot.  Then I mashed the potatoes (with the skins on) into the water, added the butter mixture, a splash of milk, a few tablespoons of sour cream and stirred.  I decided I wanted the potatoes to be a little more garlicy, so I added more garlic paste, along with more salt and pepper and some chives.  Let me tell you, those were some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.  I was pretty impressed with myself since that was maybe my third time ever making them! 🙂

For the beans, I just boiled them in salted water for about 10 minutes, drained them, and added in a tiny bit of butter and salt and pepper.

I have some leftovers that I am about to eat for lunch, and I can’t wait.  It was that good!

For your viewing pleasure…my lunch.

Please note my classy paper plate and plastic cutlery.

If I get a chance tonight (T wants me to go work clothes shopping with him after work) I want to make falafels with my homemade tzatziki sauce.  It is damn good!

Poor T is in super CPA hell at the moment. He’s taking part 3 of the test this Monday, followed by the last part on July 25. He has been super busy and studying so hard that he barely has time to do anything else but work and study. Poor guy.

Yesterday, he sends me a g-chat saying that he was bringing home some dessert that he picked up while he was a lunch. It was this HUGE slice (this seriously was no slice, it was like half a cake) of black and white cake. It was a 3-layer chocolate cake with whipped cream and chocolate mousse filling, wrapped with a semi-sweet chocolate shell. And oh my God, was it to die for. I was in chocolate heaven when I ate it last night. The “slice” is so big that I cut it in half heightwise, then again length wise. The box it was in probably weighed 5 pounds when it had the whole slice in it. Seriously. But it was so cute when he told me about it. He’d been thinking about me at lunch and knew that I would heart it, so he bought it for me. What a sweetheart!

When he got home last night, he walked in with the monster cake and some flowers. He bought me flowers just because. I know I’ve been doing a lot of the stuff around the house since he’s been studying, but it was really nice of him to do that for me to show his appreciation. It’s the little things that make me happy!

I made my yummy fish tacos last night, which T and Little S loved! Poor T had to lock himself upstairs in our guest bedroom (aka Little S’s room for now) to eat and study. But when he came down he complimented me on how great the tacos were, especially the seasoning I used on the fish. That also really made my night. It’s such a high when you cook something from scratch (I used a recipe to get the ingredients, but don’t follow it at all) and the people that you love really enjoy eating it.

What makes you really happy or makes your day?

I don’t know what’s the matter with me, but I have been so tired the past few days. I’m blaming it on my period, but seriously it’s like day 4.  I shouldn’t feel this out of it.  If random letters start popping up, it means I’ve passed out on my keyboard…

My car has been making this God awful noise for about 9 months.  It’s due to a problem with the power steering pump or something.  When my car turns, especially on sharp turns, it sounds like a seal crawled inside of the car and is dying.  It’s terrible and slightly embarrassing.  I had it checked out in January when I got new tires, and was told that it had some problems but I could drive it as is as long as the pump’s motor didn’t burn out.  Well, after receiving the almost $2,000 estimate about all of the car’s problems, I said f’ck it and decided to keep driving it as is.

I finally decided to have it looked at after JD’s car drama last week since I didn’t want to suffer the same fate.  My friend ASP’s boyfriend is a mechanic and offered to work on it for me so I could save some money.  Yesterday I got the call from ASP regarding my estimate, and it was more than a grand (cue minor heart attack).  I’m trying to save money for the honeymoon and our wedding bands, plus life keeps getting more expensive while my measly salary stays the same.   I haven’t gotten a raise since I worked at McHell – I made a lateral move for this job.  I tried to tell myself that $1,000 wasn’t that bad since he isn’t charging me for the work, even though I will totally give him some money and beer in return.  About 20 minutes after our original chat, ASP calls me back and gives me marvelous news.  He guy can fix the car for half of what he originally thought.  By ordering some non name brand parts, I can get my steering pump, rack and pin (no clue what that is), and front brake pads fixed along with an oil change and emissions test for around $400!  How amazing is that?!?!  I heart her guy!

My sister started her very first post-college job yesterday and is staying with T and me until she can find a place to buy (she’s an ambitious little one). I am super-thrilled about this because A) T is out of town during the week through the end of June leaving me home alone.  B) When he’s back, he’ll be studying for the third part of the evil CPA.  Little S can entertain me, cook dinner with me, and motivate drag my ass to the gym!

Yesterday we dabbled in all 3 fun activities.  I received this really yummy recipe from Self.com for a Summertime Risotto, and we decided to make it last night.  It was so tasty!  It took a little longer to make than we thought, but it was well worth it.  The risotto was made with white wine, chicken stock, zucchini puree, a little butter and parmesan cheese.  Then it was topped with oven-roasted grape tomatoes (we couldn’t find cherry ones), parsley and seared scallops.   I seriously recommend trying it.  It was worth the hard work.

After dinner, we hung around and watched baseball.  We flipped between the Atlanta Braves and the Dawgs (our college team) beating ass at the college world series.  2-0 baby!  Woot!   While we were watching the games, we did some arm and ab exercises.  See?  She’s already a good influence on me.

Now if only I could be less tired and wake up at 6 a.m. for the gym tomorrow, I’d be golden.

For all of you hungry kids out there, here is the recipe from Self:

Summertime Risotto

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
2 cups diced zucchini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice*
1 lb arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups nonfat chicken broth
2 tbsp light butter
6 tbsp grated Parmesan
18 sea scallops
1 bunch parsley, chopped (optional

PREPARATION

Tomatoes Heat oven to 250°. Gently toss tomatoes in 2 tsp oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake on a nonstick baking sheet 1 hour.

Zucchini Heat 1 tsp oil on medium heat in a medium pan. Cook garlic and half the onion until translucent; add zucchini and cook 5 minutes. Puree zucchini mixture in a blender with lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Risotto Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté remaining onion until translucent. Add rice and cook 2 minutes. Gradually pour in wine, stirring until rice absorbs wine. Add broth 1 cup at a time until absorbed, stirring continually for 20 minutes or until rice is tender (add more broth if necessary). Once rice is cooked, stir in zucchini puree, butter and cheese. Set aside.

Scallops Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Salt and pepper scallops and cook both sides until lightly browned. Add tomatoes and sauté 5 minutes. Spoon risotto on plate and top with scallops, tomatoes and parsley.

*I’d cut the amount of lemon juice in half unless you want it to be really tangy.

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