And then it was almost Friday. And the world rejoiced.
Tomorrow is actually both Cale and my Friday for the first time in forever (since we usually work Tuesday- Saturday). We were both subjected to work Monday this past week which means we have a very exciting 3 day weekend coming up.
What are we going to do you ask?
Well, Farmer's Market and pool on Saturday, church and church picnic on Sunday..... and.... DENTIST APPOINTMENTS on Monday! Who's excited?
Oh, no one. That's because going to the dentist is horrible.
Plus, they're looking into the inner depths of my soul every time they look into my mouth. And you can't reply. Because they have crap stuffed everywhere. Therefore the conversation goes like us.
"You said you floss... well, not regularly enough because your gums are inflamed."
What I want to say in response, "I do floss regularly... The night before my dentist appointment and the night after my dentist appointment. 4 times each year. Every year." Instead I just shake my head like an idiot.
"Oh, it looks like you drink a lot of soda." Puh-lease. Stop judging.
A-N-Yways. That's how we have fun on 3 day weekends.
And this is how we had fun last week. I made the spiciest salmon possible and then paired it with a super spicy quinoa salad. And it was divine.
I used this salad recipe and added 2 cups of cooked quinoa plus a chopped up mango.
I love fish but have no idea how to cook it. My husband knows this so always requests plain fish because we rarely cook fish and he doesn't want me to mess it up. We made a pact that I would buy fish on a regular basis, he would let me cook it however I want. I started with this super easy recipe below and it turned out fabulously!Blackened SalmonBased on this recipe
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for frying
- 1 large salmon fillet (I have no idea how much I actually used
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the spices in a dish and press the flesh side of fish down into spice mixture. Heat the pan (medium-high heat) on the stove with the butter and olive oil until until the butter has melted. Make sure this pan can go in the oven! Place the flesh side down and cook for 2-4 minutes and then flip the salmon and place skin side down and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Turn off heat and place salmon in the oven for 4-6 minutes. Serve hot. This salmon will be spicy! Use less cayenne pepper if super spice is not your thing. Delicious and easy!
I am currently sitting in my living room and the sky is some weird color so I turned on the TV and saw that we in were in a tornado warning. I think that means that I'm supposed to go to the basement or something. Also my husband just called and he is afraid his car windows are about to break from the hail.
I don't exactly have a basement per se, and I don't really want to burrow down into the crawl space so I'm taking my chances and sticking to the couch. I'm daring like that.
Anyways, on Saturday as part of our cooking extravaganza, we made a pasta dish to go with the spinach salad and grilled chicken. We turned to our good friend Ree
since she always been so faithful about only making the tastiest of dishes. I was looking for something simple and flavorful with ingredients that would [mostly] fit in our $50 per week budget.
Enter pasta with prosciutto and leeks. She actually used pancetta but I'm a fatty meat hater. Whew.. glad I got that out of my system. Anyways, this recipe came together like a charm. It was delicious and uncomplicated. We also threw in some grape tomatoes in the very end. Deelightful!Pasta with Prosciutto and LeeksInspired by this recipe from the Pioneer Woman
To make:Cook pasta until it's just done. Drain it, keeping the pasta water just in case you need to thin the sauce a little bit later on. In a separate pan, brown the prosciutto. [I know Ree says to use pancetta but for some reason I'm kind of grossed out by fatty meat. Please don't hate me.] If it seems to need a little extra juice for browning, throw in a tablespoon of butter. After this is browned, add the white and light green parts of the the leeks. Cook these two things for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are soft. Add the cream and cheese. Let the cheese melt slightly, add this sauce and the tomatoes to the pasta and toss to coat. If the sauce seems to thick, slowly add a little bit of the pasta water until it reaches the desired consistency.
- 1 box cooked pasta
- Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
- 1/2 package of prosciutto, chopped
- 2 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
- 2 Tablespoon Butter
- 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
Back when I was like 14 and didn't have my own kitchen, I copied down 3 recipes from my Grandma. How I still have these 3 recipe cards (the only one's in my possession) and how they didn't get lost in one of the 6 moves since then will forever remain a mystery to me. It just so happens that 2 of the 3 are for spinach salads. Therefore, I'm guessing I got these recipes from here sometime in the summer? It's really anyone's guess. Especially since spinach doesn't make my top 10 list of favorite recipes. I mean, I obviously think it's good if I have 2 different recipes for it but if you make me choose between a spinach or a lettuce salad.. I'll choose lettuce 90% of the time. Unless it's spinach + strawberry salad. Mostly because of the recipe below.
It brings me back to long summer days at my grandparent's house on the lake. Every time.
I was so excited when my parents and sister decided to come visit. It gave me a great excuse to make a whole meal with appetizers, side dishes, and dessert. Not that I couldn't do this with only Cale and myself but it takes some time energy and creates a ton of leftovers if it's only for 2 people. Because apparently I don't like scaling recipes down. Plus my sister and I love cooking together and it's so much fun chatting with her and my mom while cooking. I love my family!!
Strawberry Spinach Salad
10 oz fresh spinach, tough ends cut off
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1/2 tsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp poppy seeds
Combine almonds and butter in glass cup. Microwave on high for 1/2 to 2 minutes until slightly toasted.
Combine honey, oil, vinegar, almond extract, and poppy seeds. Shake or whisk or whatever you do to blend this. Toss everything together.
P.S. I mixed the spinach, strawberries, and toasted almonds together beforehand. I added the dressing right before serving so the salad didn't get soggy.
I was really looking forward to making some delicious strawberry shortcake for Mother's Day until I found out my brother was coming.
He's allergic to strawberries. It's really terrible. He gets hives and kind of looks like Will Smith in 'Hitch'. If you don't know what I'm talking about you should probably watch that movie. Because it's funny.
It didn't really matter because I've been eying some delicious looking salsa recipes and wanted to try them out on someone. Cale would be the obvious choice but if just the two of us were going to be eating it... we'd probably finish it.. you're right. But we'd also probably feel sick. Enter family.
P.S. I was going to write a post about how lovely and wonderful my mother is. Which she is. But isn't that sometimes hard to put into words? Anyways.. I love you Mom. I wish I could put into words how much I love you and how wonderful you are but there are no words.
So I checked out a bunch of recipes from probably 5 different sites and this is what I came up with...
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
2 cups of corn (I used frozen and made sure they were completed defrosted)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 of medium purple onion, finely diced
1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
2 diced avocados
Juice of 2 limes (3 tbsp)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
First of all, I defrosted my frozen corn. Fresh would probably be great. While the corn was defrosting, I chopped up the purple onion and let it sit in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes (this takes the zing out of raw onion... if you really like the zing of raw onion you can skip this step). After the corn was defrosted and the onion was de-zinged, I mixed together the corn, beans, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, I mixed/whisked the lime juice, olive oil, and all spices. I poured this over the solid ingredients and mixed well. I put this in the fridge (I made this about 3 hrs before serving) to let all the ingredients marinate together. Right before serving I added the avocado.
It was superb. I would make it again today if I had all the ingredients. Cale and I usually just make a giant bowl of guacamole... which is also delicious, don't get me wrong. But this was really fresh and a nice alternative to the old standby. It made enough dip for an entire bag of chips. I think this would also be delicious mixed with quinoa for a side dish or as a taco/burrito topping.
We had a great time at my parents house again. We played Wits and Wagers again. It was hilarious as ever.
This particular question may have been... What percentage of Americans have their high school diploma? I won't tell you whose handwriting and faith in Americans guessed 13%. But I bet you can guess. Ha! It's actually like 80% or something pretty high. We were really surprised. Also, 27% have their Bachelor's. Now you know.
Happy Monday everyone!
Our summer staple/ what I take to every party that you need a dish to pass/ delicious and easy... pasta salad. I use the term pasta salad a little loosely since when we make it at home I use about 20% pasta and 80% vegetables but you can change this if you want to.
This is also the dish that we make at 8:30 on Sunday night because I was too lazy to make it any further ahead. That's also when we started grilling. We live for our summer nights and can't wait for summer to be here! Hallelujah. I feel like singing songs from Greece. I actually am. Whatever.
To make the pasta salad you, all you need to do is make some tri-colored pasta and toss it with whatever fresh vegetables are available. Then add Italian dressing and it's done! Okay, actually I also add black olives and if it's for at home I'll add some kidney beans and shredded chicken if I have any leftover from the week before. The other best part (other than it being super easy, cheap, delicious and healthy) as that as it sits the dressing acts as a marinade so by day 3 it's tasting better than day 1. You're probably actually supposed to make it the day before you want to eat it but that takes to much thought and energy for this lady.
P.S. Yes, we are those people that take our own food for lunch. Every day. We're saving for early retirement. And missed out on the cool train a looong time ago.
Anyways, the rough recipe is below.. I'd say it makes 6-8 servings.
Italian Pasta Salad
1/2 pound tri-colored pasta
1/2 can of black olives
1/2 small purple onion (sometimes I leave this out if I'm being nice to our co-workers)
2 cups broccoli
1 cup red pepper
1 cup green pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 bottle Italian dressing
Boil the pasta until just done. Rinse with cold water to get all of the starch off the pasta. Chop all vegetables into bite sized pieces and mix with pasta. Coat with Italian dressing and stir to coat. Refrigerate (overnight is best) before serving. Enjoy!
This is one of Cale's most favorite foods ever. I'll turn around and he's demolished half the bowl... and then wonder why his belly hurts. I love that man. So much. Stay tuned.. we just realized something really exciting (okay, exaggeration) and I'll let you in on it tomorrow.
Um.. if everyone who knows me knew about this trick before now and didn't tell me we're officially not friends. OR you can just not tell me you knew and we'll still be friends. It's up to you. I won't even call you on the lie of omission.
Anyways, did you know that you can wrap a potato in tin foil.. put in the crock pot.. leave it on low for 8 hours.. and you have a perfectly baked potato.
YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO PRICK THEM!!
Cale and I are now going to have baked potatoes twice a week for dinner. They fit in the grocery budget like old pros. And now that we don't have to wait for next to forever after work for them to bake in the oven, we are set. For life. Praise Jesus. Amen.
Last night we had them topped with shredded chicken, cheese, and bbq sauce. It was divine.
In other news, it was my turn to bring snacks to small group. I made 'Better Than Sex' cake. After the decision was made and the ingredients were bought, Cale asked me what I was going to call it when people asked me what it was.
Like 'Better Than Sex' is inappropriate for bible study or something.
I thought my wit would carry me through. Until they asked me. And I froze. And said something like, "Oh, chocolate cake with some caramel and stuff." And then someone gave me the eye. They knew. I avoided eye contact. Everyone loved it.
From now on this is called 'Not appropriate for Bible Study' cake.
P.S. Someone just asked me if I tried to use correct punctuation. I do not. Sorry if this bothers you. I type the way I think. Apparently very fragmented.
My sister was originally very disappointed to see that I gave up excess cheese for lunch because she was picturing epic Italian food cooking with delicious cheese.
I was also disappointed.
So we jumped to Asian inspired food. And what's Asian inspired food without egg rolls.
Egg rolls are unfortunately fried. Fried foods are almost as hard on my stomach as cheese. And frying food myself kind of creeps me out. Don't get me wrong.. I love fried food. I just don't like to do the frying.
Enter baked egg rolls. Genius. (Original recipe here
... with better pictures!)
I was really worried about the crunchiness/crispiness factor but they turned out fabulously. And I'd like to think relatively heathy. Relatively.
Anyways, they're also super easy. You just need 2 cups chopped cabbage, 2 cups shredded carrots (we used the food processor to shred them), 2 cups of bean sprouts, a can of water chestnuts (or if you forget to buy them.. use red peppers), some freshly grated ginger, green onions, soy sauce, and corn starch. And egg roll wrappers. That sounds like a lot of ingredients but it's really easy.
We just stir-fried everything up until all the vegetables were slightly wilted with just a little crunch. We let them cool and then dried all the vegetables between 2 pieces of paper towel because we didn't want the excess vegetable juice to make the egg rolls soggy. That step isn't in the original recipe but we were really worried about the crispiness factor.
I cannot claim to roll the egg rolls (my sister did that) but she placed the wrappers between two damp pieces of paper towel to make sure they didn't dry out in-between.
Then we placed them on a greased baking sheet and very lightly sprayed them with cooking spray. We cooked them for about 8 minutes on each side.
They were delicious.
We ended up freezing a bunch.
And the already cooked ones reheat wonderfully in the oven... 375 for 5 minutes per side. They make a perfect dinner companion to watch the final episode of the Bachelor. Well, actually just the final half hour. Because I can't even watch Ben anymore.
Yum! We also made pad thai. Deliciousness!
One of my most favorite things to eat is from a restaurant called Brio. I'm pretty sure this is a chain so there might be one in your neighborhood. Anyways, my most favorite things to eat that my husband always orders before I get the chance (unwritten rule: you can never order the same thing as the person you're eating with... stealing off plates isn't nearly as fun) is sun-dried tomato risotto with scallops... and maybe shrimp? Who knows, I always steal the scallops though.
For a long time I've been dreaming about making the same dish at home but never have because a) scallops don't really fit in our food budget and b) I've never made sun-dried tomato risotto so who knows if it would be any good.
Enter my friend, Ree. You might know her... she also goes by the name Pioneer Woman and has one of the most delightful cooking blogs on the internet. I pretend we're friends. Because we would be if we knew each other. Anyways, as luck would have it she has a recipe for sun-dried tomato risotto
on her website. Hot dog!
At first glance I thought I'd have to make some major revisions.. like adding cream. (I didn't say this was going to be healthy, but I am promising delicious.) At second glance though (and we all knew she would) Ree pulled through. Heavy cream. Yum. Really words can't describe.
I followed her recipe pretty closely but instead of using 1 cup of dry white wine, I substituted an additional cup of chicken broth (our amateur taste buds know no difference). Also, I cut the recipe in half because there's only 2 of us and the recipe makes 10 servings. And because I like to pretend to be healthy, I substituted the heavy cream for half-and-half.. and proceeded to use 1/2 cup.
P.S. I think instead of having the difficulty level by the side of the recipe they should put the patience level. For instance, if I was living by myself I totally would have pulled up a stool and read a book while the risotto was cooking. Lucky for me, I have a delightful husband to talk to. Still, I was hungry. And risotto takes patience.
P.P.S. Not only was this delicious.. you can make it for really cheap... like fits in our 50 dollar per week grocery budget (hey, don't make fun. We're saving for retirement... and student loans). I think I paid about 2 dollars for the rice, 3 dollars for a jar of sun-dried tomatoes (and still have lots left), and everything else we already had. Plus, we have enough of everything to make it again. Bonus!
Next time we're totally splurging on scallops