So nice, had to do it twice

Yesterday was one of those rare days lately where I ate at home. Something I have gotten way too out of the habit of since I was restricted with the hand in recovery last year. Lifting heavy pans while cooking was just too dangerous & even washing dishes was difficult one handed. Just too easy to go out or bring home take out.

But then I missed delicious meals like this…


ahh… berries, black eyed peas, dry salad (I know I’m weird) with coconut chicken!  On purple sparkly glitter plates!!

Sure it wasn’t exactly a lot of cooking going on, but it was enough to feel home cooked & healthy.  I loved it!  Something I have really missed, although Wilmington has some incredible spots to dine that certainly have a home feel with the delicious fresh food and friendly familiar faces.  Still getting time to actually sit down and eat a real lunch is bliss.

Its one of the biggest things that got on my nerves with my previous job.  Duty calls and I did the job, but it was a benefit I missed for sure.

So today I put in sometime with applications and submitting resumes and then it hit me…. LUNCH TIME!

Same meal, but I switched it up to meatless monday!  Substituted the Quorn patty from the back of the freezer for the chicken & added in some BBQ sauce to spicy it up a tad.  One thing about living alone is there seems to always be leftovers!

Nothing like having Baxter begging for blueberries & being able to share some with the birds.  A gal could really get used to this.

But then again…. there are the bills.  So more applying, more thinking & budgeting.  I could dwell in the situation & how the uncertainty looms, or I can thrive in the moment & enjoy it for what it is.  A chance to regroup.

I have a sense that things are going to be just fine.  (& yes I realize fine is not always easy, but in the end its going to be ok)

PLUS I get to dream of great places to work…

which may or may not let me have lunch breaks, but for the moment I am loving each & every one of them.

Coffee Confession

Ok confession time.

I was over 30 before I actually drank my first cup of coffee.  (waiting for the sound of shock &  the “WHAT? WHY?”s……done?)  I know late bloomer.

Get this – one of my jobs for a few months was to PURCHASED coffee for a local health food cooperative!  I had the stocking, ordering & all that down, but relied on feedback from others & deals from brokers to decide which ones to stock.  For shame I know!

I watched my parents drink it daily & my grandmother (one of my favorite people ever) was known to drink 2 pots some days! It was she who introduced me to the coffee shops & the chocolate covered espresso beans that got me thru many, many late nights in college!  I loved the smell, but not the taste of the drink.

I tried a few sips now & then over the years growing up but I always came to the same conclusion – tasted like dirty water to me.  Even with the added creamers & sweeteners.

TIL I DISCOVERED ESPRESSO!  & a good cup of cuban coffee.

Seems I wasn’t someone who didn’t like coffee, I was someone who didn’t enjoy weak coffee!

Unfortunately I also discovered that it like the chocolate covered beans would keep me up all night! Had to limit my consumption to before noon or else I would be up all night (& this was prior to my current insomnia issues!).

I purchased some good coffee, a grinder & a french press & I was in business!

Also learned the bliss that is a pumpkin spice latte!

Never will I make up the years lost without that delicious seasonal treat.

The one problem I had was I am NOT a morning person enough to make coffee with the french press every morning.  Also it makes more than I can take with me to work.

Sure I could stop & get some on the way to work, but who can afford that everyday? Also I bring Baxter to work with me & I’m not a fan of leaving dogs in cars.

Don’t even get me started on the coffee at work.  Seems to be the same bland, weak stuff my parents go for.  No thanks. I will save the calories & just have a sweet tea from a drive thru on the way.

So most days I just forgo coffee & save it for weekends & special days.

A while back it seems everyone got these single serving coffee machines.  I had a blast watching some friends compare the different flavors.  Still since I seem to be very picky with my blends, didn’t really interest me in spending that kind of money – & valuable kitchen counter space – on something that would again make bland weak coffee.

Today while hunting for gifts I discovered something that peaked my interest in the single serving machines again…. the reusable cup!

You add in your own coffee.  So I could add my strong stuff!  Still wonder if it would end up being strong enough or if would be able to double the suggested amounts.  But I am definitely curious.

Anyone have any experience with these?

Oh & my favorite coffee so far?  Fresh ground Deadman’s Reach by RavenBrew. Its incredible!

If Only…

Sometimes you just should drop what you are doing & get groceries.

Yet sometimes, you just don’t wanna!

Tonight was that night for me.  Long day at work after a night of frustration & the last thing I wanted to do was grab take out or go shopping.  I just wanted to cook something comforting & eat.

A quick scan of the pantry lead me to think tacos… but not tacos.

So I made Taco Lasagna!  Yeah I have never tried it or heard of it either.

Basically I used what I had.

Starting with browning some ground turkey.  Then I added some taco seasoning, a can of black beans & a can of corn.

Also added in some leftover rice from chinese take out.

I crushed up some broken taco shells & made a layer of them in a dish.

Next I layered on the turkey, rice, bean & corn mixture. Topped that with a layer of shredded cheddar. I repeated the crushed tacos, meat mix & added some salsa I found then the cheese…repeat til you reach the top.  Make sure the cheese is the last layer on top.

Heated in a 350 degree oven to blend everything & allow the cheese to melt.

All on all not bad…

BUT I just kept thinking of what could make it better!

I find myself doing that a lot lately.  I will be eating something & think of what I could add to really make it great.

For instance to me this would benefit with a chopped up serano or jalapeno pepper, some garlic, lime & a bit of cilantro.

Could be great with other cheese.  Maybe some white queso instead of the cheddar. Perhaps a layer of refried beans instead of adding the black beans into the mix. Spinach added to the ground mix?

So many possibilities.

Just keeps me thinking of what could be.

 

 

 

 

New Beaujolais Nouveau Is Here!

Oh yes, the 3rd Thursday in November has brought its annual gift – Beaujolais Nouveau!!!

While I have waited a couple of nights to try it (slightly scared to try a new sleep medication at the same time as I drink – so I’m skipping the sleeping pill tonight!), it has been worth the wait.  I remember being introduced to the Beaujolais tradition by an aunt who I still think is one of the coolest things since sliced bread.  Back in the days I wasn’t a wine person, but she was so excited about the November arrival, I had to try it & I wasn’t disappointed.  Since then I have made it my own tradition to make sure I try at least a glass each year.  I wish I could say I’m some wine expert but I am still in the phase of there are 3 types of wine – 1. LOVE IT, 2. Drinkable, & 3. Gross.   Ok I might be a bit more educated than that, but you get the idea.

This year the bottle doesn’t disappoint.  Its delicious.  Easy to drink & no harsh notes in the glass to distract.

Tonight I decided to try cooking with it as well as drinking it!

Red Wine Chicken!  More specifically BEAUJOLAIS Chicken!

Started by heating up some olive oil with a tablespoonish of minced garlic.

wait… I have a secret to share… mincing the garlic was unbelievably easy!

I have a Rev’n Chef!

So all I have to do is add the garlic cloved (with out the “skins”) into the Rev’n Chef & pull the string.

Wahla! Minced garlic, ready to go…

Back to the recipe…

Add in chicken, I went for boneless chicken breast tenderloins.  Cook on both sides until its no longer pink.

Next sprinkle the cooked chicken with paprika & around a cup of brown sugar.

Add the red wine around the chicken….around a cup or so.

Cover & cook 10 to 15 minutes; braising the chicken with the wine sauce once in a while.

Serve over rice.  I also enjoyed an artichoke & some green beans with mine & it was completely delish!

Sometimes You Need To Try Again

So I admit I have a file on my laptop with a HUGE collection of recipes I have found online that I would LOVE for someone to cook for me….or to fix myself.  Tonight I got around to one of them.

The Red Spoon blog has some inspiring & incredibly delicious food & I love keeping up with all her culinary adventures.  When I saw the recipe to convert someone who isn’t a fan of sweet potatoes to someone who will eat them… I knew I had to try it!  I love sweet potatoes already so this had to be good.

The recipe:  Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad

Photo from the Red Spoon blog - Looks delish right?

These are all the ingredients:

All ready to go!

Chopped up the sweet potatoes & onion & tossed them in the olive oil, salt & pepper.  They went into the oven & I got in some time with my birds & pug in another room, even tweeted a little.  It smelled soooo good!  I was getting excited when I noticed the slightly smokey smell.

YUP… I burnt them!  Turns out mine didn’t need as long to roast in the oven.  Also I would have probably picked up on that had I turned/stirred them like I was supposed to!  Double Ooops!  Some may caramelize onions, but I cremated them!

So back to the drawing board.  No more sweet potatoes in the house & not feeling like a trip out to the store.  Once I’m in my comfy clothes, I’m in them! So what to do?

Improvise!

I opened one of the cans of black beans, added some salt & pepper & heated it up over medium high heat.

Chopped the jalapeno & added that to the beans.  Yes I added the whole jalapeno, but not the seeds!  I like it hot but didn’t want SEED HOT!  Also figured out I had a few cuts on my hand which is always fun when working with hot peppers.

Next up a clove of garlic minced & added to the pot.

Now time for the good stuff! The juice of half a lime…

I used the wooden spoon to really get the juice out.  Pulp added is not a problem with me.  I love lime & it works get with the jalapeno.

I let this all simmer on medium heat while I fixed a steak, some fried okra & heated up some leftover white rice from chinese take out.  The liquid from the can reduced down a bit & its important to stir now & then.  Which luckily I remembered to do this time around.

The final touch was adding some fresh cilantro to the mix!

Seriously good stuff!

Just scooped some on top of the rice & I was in heaven.   Simple & hit the spot.

Maybe mistakes do lead to good things after.  (but don’t think I’m giving up on that Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad recipe that easy! One day…. just not today.)

Right up my alley! Delish!

 

 

 

Fall Beef Stew

The past couple of days have been HEAVEN at my desk – even if a tad hectic elsewhere in my life!

Why? Fall Beef Stew!

I simply thought about what sounded good, looked for a recipe & then said forget it, I’m winging it!

I used a big steak, 2 sweet potatoes, half an onion, 4 cloves of garlic (hey I’ve been sick. Couldn’t hurt!), 2 zucchinis, a small can of peas & carrots, a 16 oz can of cannelini beans, some kale, olive oil, garlic salt, black pepper, steak seasoning, curry powder and some paprika.

Side of roasted sweet potato, kale chips & olive oil rosemary bread are recommended but optional.

Start by heating the onions & olive oil in the pan.  When they are starting to brown, I added in the garlic.

While that was happening, I peeled the veggies & chopped them into small pieces (smaller they are the quicker the cooking time, but you still want nice bite sized pieces).  Break the kale into bite size pieces as well.

Chopped the beef into bite sized pieces & added to the onion & garlic til it was cooked thoroughly.

After that I added in the spices, some water, the fresh veggies & more water to get it to the consistency I wanted.  When the sweet potatoes are easy to cut through with the spoon (AKA done), I added the canned veggies.

Simply a superb supper, lunch, anytime!