Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taco Tuesday at the casa

Margaritas, and Carnitas and Mushroom Tacos. What better way to end a Tuesday? Or, for that matter, any other day? We enjoyed our taco dinner tonight. Melt in your mouth pork, balanced with the robust flavor of Portobello mushrooms, and fragrant coriander. Topped with salsa verde and Monterrey Jack cheese. Totally yum!

I love the fact that you can throw a pork shoulder in the slow cooker in the morning, and come home in the evening to the most amazing aroma.

Our week is zooming by, and we are enjoying the gorgeous Fall weather. More pork recipes later this week...after all, we do need to use up the rest of this pork shoulder!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bring on the comforts...

It's a lovely fall evening. Chicken Pot Pie for dinner, with a beautiful, buttery crust. Crisp autumn air, just cool enough to have the windows open. Hanging out with my mom, and my husband. I am blessed, indeed.

It's been a really strange week, and I so loved just spending some time decompressing this evening (which, for me, involved cooking!) enjoying some wine, and hanging out with my mom. I'm quite glad it is already Wednesday, and I will be even more glad when the weekend is here!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sushi - The Ultimate "Play" Food

Play with your food much? Then Sushi is the perfect food for you. We made these for dinner tonight. Just a couple of easy rolls with our favorite ingredients, that are available outside of a Japanese restaurant. So who cares if the wasabi comes out of a tube? :) We also had this yummy new ginger sauce, that I picked up while at the Asian store this morning...delicious.

Ryan and I first learned how to make our own maki (sushi rolls) from a friend about two years ago. It is so easy! Since then, we have saved ourselves quite a bit of money making our own home-made versions, and, we have definitely eaten sushi more often. And...back to the "play" thing. Making sushi really does feel like play. And with colorful food, like sushi can be, it's even better :) So do try this at home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mocha Tart!

There are so many reasons I'm looking forward to the rest of this week. One reason is the beginning of groups at HVCC, and I'm very pumped for the group that Ryan and I will be leading this fall, Foundations. It should be a fantastic study, and a great time of discussion and learning with awesome people. We will also share coffee and dessert together...which is a very nice perk (no pun intended.)

I am bringing the first week's dessert, so I will debut my Mocha Tart recipe for these unsuspecting folks. Hope everyone likes the rich Mocha flavor.

Here is the recipe:

1 graham cracker crust (It is so easy to make your own or, if you're not able to, just use a store-bought one :-)
4 oz. or half a package of cream cheese, softened (I use the 1/3 fat kind.)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 small packet, or 1 level tbsp instant coffee powder (You'll find instant coffee in the grocery store right next to the regular coffee - this stuff is great for baking/desserts!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt cream cheese over low-medium heat. Stir in heavy cream and sugar. Whisk together. Allow mixture to heat up, just until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, empty chocolate chips into a big bowl and then pour in the hot cream-cheese-heavy cream-sugar mixture over that and let it sit like that for 5 minutes. The heat from the hot cream will melt the chocolate chips. Five minutes later, the chocolate will have nicely melted, whisk it all together until nicely combined. Pour into the graham cracker crust and let set in the refrigerator overnight. This is a great dessert to make ahead - like several days ahead. Nothing like alleviating a little bit of stress off the big day, right?

I hope our group enjoys it tomorrow!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

As the fall season kicks into high gear, and the last of the summer fruits disappear from farmer's markets and grocery stores across the upper Midwest, here's a fun watermelon dessert to see summer off until next year...Watermelon Granita! I had two small watermelons that a friend had given me last week, so I made this fun dessert. We ate it last night and it was fruity, minty, a bit lemony, very cold, and totally delicious.

To make it, start by de-seeding about four cups of watermelon. Add this along with the juice of one lemon, six or seven fresh mint leaves, and two tablespoons of sugar to the blender and give it a good blend. (If you want to, feel free to throw in about 2 tablespoons of vodka. We did, and that really kicks it up a notch - as Emeril would say!) Pour the blended watermelon mixture into a freezer safe bowl, cover, and freeze for six hours or better yet overnight. To serve, use an ice-cream scoop, or a one-inch scoop like I did here. Enjoy!

And, sigh, goodbye watermelon. I will miss you. Until next summer!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitten in the back yard

I woke up this morning to our two dogs whining, barking, and going absolutely nuts! Very out of character for them. In the background I could hear doors opening and closing, and Ryan walking around downstairs at a fairly quick pace. I knew something was up. I was just thinking about getting out of bed when I saw Ryan come up the stairs...and I had started to say "What's all the commotion?" when I saw the tiniest kitten I have ever seen cradled in his arms. I was only about ten seconds away from saying "Can we keep it?", but even I know the dangers of a kitten that little being in a house this small, with two dogs already occupying it. And we didn't even know if it belonged to anyone in the neighborhood. Ryan had just found it sitting next to the maple tree in our backyard this morning. So, we talked to some of our neighbors and it doesn't belong to anyone around here. One woman thought it looked too small even to be weaned yet. I wonder where the rest of its litter and mother are! Oh well.  So, the kitten is currently at the Vet's, they are holding it until this afternoon, and then I will go collect it and make a sad little trip to the humane society. I did get a few pictures to preserve the memories since, unfortunately, we can't hold onto this little one.

P.S.: For those of you who have never experienced waking up to the sight of a tiny little kitten, it is really something special!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When life gives you cucumbers...

...go Vegetarian for an evening! I was inspired to create this dish using the cucumbers that were an unexpected gift from a friend (that's you Susan!) who wanted to share some of her abundant fresh produce with the rest of us.

So, welcome to a day in the life of someone who likes veggie-only food every now and then. In fact, if you have seen earlier posts of mine (like this one and this one), you may already know that I don't shy away from skipping meat. In fact, I rather enjoy it. And, fortunately for me, my husband  feels the same way! So, I'll call it Ribbon Salad on Pasta. Get your vegetable peeler and do thin ribbons of cucumbers, carrots (microwave the carrot ribbons for one minute with some water to soften a bit) and toss it together with olive oil, salt and pepper for a quick salad. Or for a more filling meal pile it on top of long pasta, like I did, with a bit of pasta sauce, fresh cracked black pepper, and shredded parmesan. I also made some pesto to go with it, using the last of the basil from the garden. It was all very good. I hope you try it yourself, and enjoy it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blissful long weekend

One paradox of long weekends in the type of culture that we live in, is that while we enjoy our time off and sleeping in, at the end of three days the sum of all our activities end up being coated in the faintest veneer of "lazy". Yesterday for instance, I took a two hour nap, did dishes and laundry, and made these mini cheesecakes for a get-together today. Overall, lazy? Or productive? I think my point is made.

But don't the tiny cheesecakes look yum? I hope they taste good. I will find out today :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Highlights from my little life this week...

1. I saw a hummingbird just outside my window at work today. How marvelous these little creatures are!
2. I was plunged into darkness when someone turned the lights off while I was still in the restroom at work. Those three minutes were quite traumatizing.
3. I made my very own Rum n' Raisin ice cream, pictured here. And it was good! Experiment gone right.

4. I discovered that Netflix has all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer available to watch instantly! I know what I'm doing this weekend. And, yes, my husband is a gracious man.
5. I started reading two really good books: Chip Ingram's "The Invisible War", and Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger Here Myself". The former reminds me - quite vividly - that while there is evil in this world the good side ultimately wins, and the latter gives me at least ten or twelve of those truly great rib-splitting, belly-laughs daily!
6. We got some very cool people to join our life group! It is going to be a really good time this Fall.