Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Food, Finally (part II)

Five entries up and I'm feeling good about it! I'm just hoping I can keep it up! Part of me doing this is from my thoughts while I was mowing the grass this morning. I was asking myself if I was following my dreams or my passions. I don't know that I am. Heck, I'm not even sure what my dreams are. I feel like I need to start doing something about it before time just passes me by and I can't follow my dream. Wasn't Garth Brooks the one that sang, "Some of God's greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers"? I have been blessed with time. Time to do what I want to do. So now I just need to get off my arse and do something about it. So let the foodyness begin!

Seafood Potpie

So we celebrated my husband's grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary with them at the Retirement community where they live. The dining facilities are great, so we were pretty excited to see the menu for the evening. My husband was particularly stoked when he saw Seafood Potpie on the menu. Really? Flaky crust? Seafood? Creaminess? How could he resist? Unfortunately the potpie was quite a letdown. It was more of a seafood mush. Mushy crust, mushy seafood. Not a good combination.  So being the good wife that I am, the following week I made him what he was looking for. I used cod, sea scallops, shrimp and a favorite of his, crawfish.  I didn't even bother with the usual filler of potatoes.

I started with a roux, and then added milk steeped with the crawfish and shrimp shells, and proceeded to add a little more butter and parmesan cheese and some old bay for a little kick. It turned into a pot of thick and creamy goodness. Seriously, I was eating spoonfuls of it (and it was immediately finding it's way to my thighs). I added the seafood to the sauce, then pured it all in dishes*. Topped them off with pie crust (store bought... what can I say... I already had it from a party and didn't want it to go to waste!) with a sprinkle of old bay, and popped them in the oven.  I want to say I cooked them for about 45 minutes at 375 or something, but I'm not 100% sure. It sounds about right though. ;)

Hubby was extremely happy with the results and I think pretty pleased that he was able to get a good seafood potpie after all. 

*As much stuff as I have, would you believe I don't have a single gratin dish OR soup crocks? I need to make my way to William Sonoma and get me some.  I had to use my Portmerion rimmed soup bowls instead!

Mexican Flank Steak

I loved how this meal turned out. The flavor was unbelievable, but even more so, I loved the way the colors played together. I marinated a flank steak using adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo, lime, cilantro, garlic, and probably olive oil.  I was a little concerned that the spice might be too much for the hubby, but it all played out nicely. I grilled the flank steak along side red peppers, vidalia onions, and poblano peppers. I would like to say the peppers came from the garden, but I've had a heck of a time with all of them except the jalapenos. I also grilled sweet corn (still on the cob). I rubbed the corn, onions, and peppers with a little olive oil and sprinkled a tiny bit of chipotle chili powder and salt on them. I used a knife to take the corn off the cob, because there's nothing less attractive than having a bunch of corn stuck in your teeth. I initially planned to make a salad using the corn, chopped up peppers, onions, and fresh tomatoes, but by the time I was done grilling everything, I just didn't want to mess with it. I chopped some grape tomatoes and added it to the corn and let it be. A little slice of fresh avocado (because what's not good with avocado?!) and I called it done.

This was definitely one of my favorite meals this summer. The flavors just screamed summer! I'll have to try this again this winter! Don't think the corn will be nearly as good, but it's worth a shot!

Ribeye I

Ok, this picture just doesn't do this meal justice. And I might add, this is from a night when I was eating solo. And, calling it Ribeye I, because like the salmon, we like our ribeye, so there will probably be more posts. I like mine done in a very particular way... rare to medium rare, with a good char. Pretty easy. Marinades? Eh, I'll take mine with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Yep, that's it. I think going extra simple really helps bring the taste of the meat out. And oh, that char... cooking it for just a few (3-4) minutes on each side over a high charcoal heat... my mouth is watering right now. This time I topped it with some crumbled maytag blue cheese and put the whole thing on a bed of arugula (yes, home grown in that garden of mine).  I tossed the arugula with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper before hand. Simple food done well. It was the perfect summer dinner for one.

You better believe I paired it with a yummy pinot noir, too. Since I was by myself, I probably just used the Robert Mondavi private select. It's a good, reasonably priced bottle you can get at any grocery store. It tastes good, pairs well with the char of the steak and the pepperyness of the arugula, and well priced. Perfect combo if you ask me!

Looking at the picture and reading what I just wrote... I'm thinking nix the blue cheese and do a balsamic reduction over the arugula. THAT would be good. See, I'm inspiring myself already! ;)

Salmon I

So I'm calling this Salmon I because we eat salmon pretty often and I know there will be several more Salmon entries.  I think this one was inspired by my husband craving seafood. Don't get me wrong, I love seafood too, but I think if he could, he'd top everything with a medley of crab and shrimp. My husband cooks dinner probably just as often as I do, and this was also probably a result of him cooking a couple nights in a row, and me wanting to make him something special that I knew he would like.

The stuffing is a mixture of crab, shrimp, herbs, cheese, and some other goodies. I didn't use scallops in there because I knew the taste would just be lost, therefor it wasn't worth the money. I baked it at a high temp, somewhere around 400. It was nice and medium rare to rare on the inside, with that ooey gooey tasty stuffing. Not overly seafoody believe it or not. It was really good.

The side is kale (home grown), one of our favorites. Since we eat it quite a bit, I decided to grow it in the garden this year. I usually saute some garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a big saute pan and before it gets golden, I throw the washed and cut kale into the pan. Toss it a bit to get the olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts throughout, then add some vegetable or chicken stock (whatever I have) to it, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. It's good, I promise!

Such a feel good meal.


It's summer time and although I don't automatically think SPAGHETTI, I do think tomatoes. And as much as I love tomatoes, sometimes you just can't eat them fast enough. So although I don't think spaghetti in the summertime, I do think sauce. Pure, tomatoey goodness. With lots of garlic, basil, and a little red wine to make it extra special good. Hmm. I made a bolognese (just a fun Italian way to say meat sauce) last night with tomatoes from the garden. I used a 90/10 ground beef for three reasons... a little less fat than the other stuff, more tasty than turkey, and it was on sale. I cooked the sauce for about an hour, which to be honest, was a lot less time than I would have liked, but I had a busy day and just couldn't get it started earlier. And here's another thing I did that probably isn't very kosher, but I have my reasons... I leave the skin on my tomatoes. That's right, skin, seeds, it all goes in. I chop them all up and it all goes in. I feel like there's gotta be some great nutrition in that skin and I'm not willing to part with it. I usually put in diced zucchini too (shh! Don't tell hubby! I don't think he knows about that part!!) for a little extra kick of vitamins.  The secret to keeping that all a secret? My handy dandy immersion blender. One of my most valued kitchen tools. No tomato skins, no chunks of tomatoes or anything else (in case you didn't know, I hate chunky marinara). Perfection.

You'll probably notice in the picture the grated Parmesan cheese. That's right, the stuff from the can. I love that stuff on pasta with a good meat sauce. Maybe one of these days I'll grow out of it. ;)

We also had cheesy garlic bread with it. Knowing me, you'd probably assume I made my own, and in most cases I would, but the husband actually requested cheesy bread, so I knew he would prefer the frozen texas toast style cheesy bread. You know, the one with too much saturated fat to count. I actually don't care for the stuff myself, but when he specifically requests something, which isn't often, I like to at least try to accommodate him.  Since I don't care for the texas toast stuff, I tried the frozen ciabatta cheese rolls instead. I'll just make my own next time, but they were really pretty good for freezer to oven bread.

Food... Finally

So this is what I've decided about the food section of my blog... I just cannot write recipes and throw 'em on here. It's not that I think my food is uber special and I don't want to share, it's just that I'm not the recipe kind of girl. I'm more of a think and create type (hence why I'm a terrible baker). I've been taking pictures lately of stuff I'm making, with the fantasy of writing about each one. I have to be honest though, I can barely remember what each one is, let alone every ingredient and step I took to make it. So my compromise with myself is this... I'll post pictures and explain what it is and why I made it or what my inspiration for the meal was. If anything it'll be more of a diary of food. A bank, if you will, to come to for ideas maybe. Let's see if I can keep up and make it work!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Repurposing makes me happy!

Almost as good as finding an awesome deal on something that I can transform into "my own," is taking something I've used and use it again in another way. It started when planning our wedding about two years ago. I knew I wanted to make it a personal affair and was looking for ways to do that. Our venue had this beautiful room, I think originally purposed as a study, with beautiful built-in bookshelves. I had the idea to put pictures of us, and our guests in frames scattered on the bookshelves. Since we had such a small wedding (60?) and the people we invited were people we were close to, we were able to put photographs of us with our guests next to their place cards for dinner. It gave a little structure to finding their names, but not the typical alphabetical order. I bought all the frames at (shhhh) the dollar store. Yep, a dollar a piece. They were almost all different (in style and color) so I spray painted them all a pretty metallic bronze to tie them together. I love me some good spray paint!

After the wedding, I took all the pictures out, and repainted the frames all black.  I put some of the old photos back in and changed some others. I used the frames on the walls in the staircase leading to the basement. The picture here of the staircase is just plain horrible. It looks really yellow, but the walls are actually way more sand than yellow.  Even though they were only a buck a piece, it still felt good to reuse the frames for something else! Money well spent in my book! My original plan was to sell the frames after the wedding. Not to make money, but to get at least something back, but I think this was far better.

We also used the frames to highlight things like the bar menu
This is one of the bookshelves from the reception. This was taken after everyone took their place cards which is why it looks a little bare.

pile-o-frames after painting and letting them dry

We have lots of family and friends in these photos and it's nice to see their faces, even if it's only in photos!

(The first two pictures were taken by our amazing photographer, Alan Bushnell.) 

The Guest Bed

I'm going back a little bit in order to make the pages on here functional.  It may have taken me a couple hours to figure out just how to do it, but I think I finally got it! This past summer I bought this headboard and footboard at our community yard sale for $10. Yep, $10. We just had a queen sized bed on a metal frame, so I thought this was a great opportunity for me to have a new project and to finish off the room. A few years back I did this same thing to an ugly dresser and night stand.  So those were in the guest room and they were asking so nicely for me to get them another piece to match them. ;)
I didn't take a ton of photos, but I think enough to see the progression.

I started first of course by sanding the flat portions with an orbital hand sander, and the rounded edges by hand. Not sure what grit sand paper I used. Knowing though that I was painting the piece and not staining it allowed me to not be so incredibly picking when it came to sanding.

There was this fantastic dental "molding" on the top, which is what is painted (I forgot to take a real "before" photo before doing anything to it). I thought it would be easier to get in all those small grooves with spray paint. I used RustOleum's American Accents in Heirloom White.

A little closer up... you can see where I sanded down a little more on some of the edges to give it a more antiqued look afterwords.

This was actually on accident but it turned out looking really cool. I think it started to crack for two reasons... one, it was hotter than dickens outside that day, and two, I'm fairly certain I didn't let it dry completely before giving it a couple more coats of paint.  And speaking of paint, I can't remember exactly what I used to paint it (the spray was really just for that molding pictured here). But it was very similar to the Heirloom White.

Finally taking the time to let it dry.  I love the way the bar on the footboard looks, especially the rings in the middle. 

With the dresser I mentioned earlier

I'm kinda bummed that the beautiful detailing is hidden behind the pillows!! Hadn't accounted for the fat mattress!

In it's place finally. The nightstand on the left is the one that matches the dresser and the little nightstand on the right was a bargain find in the clearance section of my local nursery/garden center.