May 31, 2011

Weekend Fun!

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  Stud and I sure did.  We went and saw Hangover 2 on Friday night, camping on Saturday night, and spent Monday at the track eating crawfish!  It was a little hot, but we maximized our time outside.  

Our camping excursion was into Red River Gorge, our favorite place to hike/camp in Kentucky.  Beau tagged along with us, his first overnight camping experience!  He was a great camper.  We made him carry his own food and he really did not seem to care in the least.  He also got to play in a creek, chase wildlife, bark at hikers, and eat tons of sticks.  I think he is confused as to why we aren’t always hiking.  

We were worried it was going to be packed and we would have trouble finding a camping spot, so we started our hike around 2:30 to make it four miles.  Our favorite trail has a long stretch along some cliffs and we wanted to set up camp on the ridge for a) a breeze, b) the sunset and c) so we would have a short hike out in the morning.  We had plenty of time to get to the ridge, set up camp, and eat before the sunset.  There were some clouds, so I was worried we would miss the sunset.  But I was so wrong.  It was one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen.  We sat on the ridge for an hour watching the sun go down and enjoying some bourbon we had brought along.  It was so relaxing and so nice to be outside on such a beautiful night.

May 26, 2011

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

So Stud and I have been trying to add some variety to our greens.  Break away from the mixed baby greens!  This one wasn’t too far off, but it at least was a different leaf (Bibb from the farmers market) and had other ingredients!  We added feta cheese and strawberries to this salad, trying to stick with the eat-what’s-in-season thing.  I could eat this salad for dinner. 

 Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
1/3 c. white sugar
½ c. white vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. dry mustard
½ t. onion juice (or 1 t. grated onion)
1 c. vegetable oil
1 T. poppy seeds

Add all ingredients to a jar and shake!  Make sure to shake it up right before you dress the salad, the ingredients in this one tend to separate pretty quickly. 

This salad would also have been delicious with some candied pecans.  But we were far too lazy to make some, maybe this weekend?  It was good to have some variety.  And now I have poppy seeds in my pantry…might add lemon poppy seed muffins to the recipe queue, they are one of my favs.  Or I can just make more pigs in a blanket.

May 23, 2011

Daily Fluff

Everyone got presents from Burlington this weekend! Stud got a pint glass, Everest flags, and half a sandwich from the Red Onion (turkey, bacon, apple, red onions, Swiss cheese and sun dried tomato mayo with toasted sourdough.  It was a good present).  Beau got a toy I am hoping he won't be able to destroy in 3.7 seconds, so maybe he can have something other than the plastic toys.  It's made by Jax and Bones and rated for aggressiive chewers.  Beau and Babar have been inseperable today and Babar is still alive.  Looking good seeing as they are snuggling on the floor as I type.

May 20, 2011

Burlington, VT

Off celebrating my brother's graduation from UVM!! Such a beautiful place.

May 18, 2011

Artichokes in Springtime!

There are not many tastes out there where Stud and I are not on the same page.  Maybe it's because we both eat mostly anything?  He loves Ethiopian.  I'm not there yet.  I am obsessed with artichoke hearts.  Stud...not so much.  I went through a stint of putting them in everything, so maybe I over did it.  Never I say!  I mean, they are in season right now (I think?), so I must eat them!  So last night while he was on call, I made a huge batch of pasta with garlic, red pepper flakes, and artichoke hearts.  It was divine. 

Artichoke Heart Pasta
1 can of artichoke hearts
1 lb pasta
8 cloves garlic
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. dried herbs (I used a combo of basil, thyme, rosemary)
1 lb spaghetti
Olive oil
Lemon juice

This is another recipe that comes together while the pasta is cooking.  Start your pasta water and while it's heating up, dice the garlic.  Add to a skillet with about 3 T. of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Cook over low heat until the garlic is light brown.  Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Once the garlic is golden, drain and rinse the artichoke hearts and add them to the skillet along with another pinch of salt.  Add in the red pepper flakes as well.  Cook over medium heat until your pasta is finished, about six minutes.  Add the pasta to the skillet along with about 1/4 c. of the pasta water and fresh squeezed lemon juice (a few tablespoons).  Add the dried herbs (or fresh parsley if you'd rather) and toss over low heat until everything is combined.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

And the obsession continues.  I don't really even know how to describe the unique flavor of an artichoke heart.  Can you?  It's rich, but also fresh.  And accompanies the garlic and pepper flakes so well.  I made a ton of this, as I always do. Some for lunch tomorrow and some for Stud post-call.  I am convinced with this one I might have won Stud over to the artichoke-obsessed side of things.  It's helps that the recipe also involves pepper flakes.  UPDATE:  Stud loved the pasta, still not so sure about artichoke hearts in everything....

May 17, 2011

Mexican Rice

As I mentioned earlier, Stud and I celebrated Cuatro de Mayo with shrimp tacos and Mexican rice.  Since the tacos basically involved cooking shrimp and mixing some mayo, I decided I would take a stab at homemade Mexican rice.  There are a thousand recipes out there, so to start, I went with Cooks Illustrated (this blog could really be an ad for their recipes) and was not disappointed.  This recipe was a little long and next time I might try a more abbreviated version.

Mexican Rice
2 tomatoes
1 medium white onion
2 jalapenos
2 c. white rice
1/3 c. canola oil
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 c. chicken broth
1 T. tomato paste
1 ½ t. salt

In the bowl of a food processor, add the tomato, onion, and tomato paste and puree until smooth.  Meanwhile, core and dice the jalapenos.  Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer.  The combination of rinsing the rice and then frying it keeps the individual grains (according to Cooks).  Heat the oil in a large skillet or pot (about 12”).  I ignored this and used my normal dutch oven which was a little small.  The rice was not completely cooked.  Just make sure you have a tight lid.  Once the oil is ready, add the rice and fry until they are golden brown.  Reduce the heat to medium and add in the garlic and jalapenos and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.  Add in the pureed tomato mixture, chicken broth, and salt.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.  Cooks has you cook it in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Whichever floats your boat.  Once it’s finished, garnish with fresh cilantro and lime if available.

I actually think this could use a little more heat, maybe an extra jalapeno or a habanero or something.  But it was so good with the pureed tomoato and onion as the base of the rice, it added so much flavor.  I think next time I will try some shortcuts and see if I end up with as much flavor and if not, add another jalapeno.  And cook it in the proper size pot…  I ended up mixing mine into all the shrimpy adobo mayo salsa goodness and it made for excellent leftovers. 

May 13, 2011


These delicious little gems have been smothered the past few years.  Stud and I hacked off a large chunk of our rose bushes and these prospered with a little sunshine!  They smell SO AMAZING. I think they are my new favorite flower.

May 12, 2011

Daily Fluff

Someone got a new toy and he is PUMPED. No seriously he is obsessed with his frisbee.

May 11, 2011

Shrimp Tacos!

Last Thursday was Cinco de Mayo.  Duh.  But I had class so Stud and I celebrated Cuatro do Mayo.  Which (RANDOM FACT!) is also International Star Wars Day - May the Fourth be with you!  I'm not even a fan of Star Wars, I just find that hysterical.  Anyways, for Cuatro de Mayo, Stud and I celebrated with shrimp tacos and Spanish rice.  And shrimp tacos are so easy and one of my new favorite easy fresh dinners.  Especially since we had pretty much all of the ingredients already on hand.

Shrimp Tacos
1/2 lb shrimp deveined with shells and tails removed
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. garlic powder
Corn Tortillas
Sour Cream
Salsa (we are now addicted to Newman's Own Black Bean Salsa - SO AMAZING)

Adobo Mayo
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 T. pureed chilis in adobo

My shrimp came out of the freezer, so we simply had to thaw them out.  Once they were thawed, we tossed them with the olive oil and the spices and let them sit for a while to marinate.  When we were ready to eat, toss them in a skillet with a little extra olive oil and cook until done, about three minutes.  I also warmed the corn tortillas in a 200 degree oven when I started marinating the shrimp so they were nice and warm.  For the mayo, simply mix it together!  Add any toppings you want and enjoy.  So simple!  So good.

I don't even really know what made this so tasty.  The shrimp had a mild flavor and were a great protein for light summery tacos.  Maybe our new favorite salsa mixed with the adobo?  Really no idea.  I also loved that they were make-your-own.  I could load up on the avocado and Stud could add tons of additional hot sauce.  Perfect for different palates.  I can say for sure these will be a frequent menu item for us this summer.

May 10, 2011

Tuna Melts

After Stud's big race, he needed some protein and some carbs, but our fridge and pantry were looking pretty bare.  But we did have bread.  And canned tuna!  So while he was resting with his feet up, I made us some tuna melts.  We didn't have any chips, so it's all we had, but they were gooooood.

Tuna Melt
1 can tuna
1 T. sweet pickle relish
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 t. grated red onion
Bread (should make two large or three small sandwiches)
Swiss cheese

Easy.  Dump everything in a bowl (please drain the tuna) and combine well.  Butter one side of the bread and add cheese and tuna, and cook in a skillet over low heat.  It's hard to be patient, but that way the cheese will melt and the tuna will be hot.  If you have a cover for you skillet, that is great!  Cover those suckers and soon you will have a delicious lunch.

So good.  The perfect post-mini-marathon lunch.  And I still hate the smell of canned tuna.

May 9, 2011

Derby 137 Recap!

 Did anyone out there bet on Animal Kingdom??  I sure didn't.  I liked Mucho Macho Man and of course, Pants on Fire with the female jockey.  And I still like them both for the Preakness coming up in two weeks.  Unlike last year, Stud and I had a very low key Derby, hanging out at my parents house and sipping on mint juleps.  But no worries.  I placed all of my bets online.  Stud had to work late Friday night and was back at it Saturday morning.  Med school really puts a damper on celebrating the Derby.  People should know better than to need medical services on the First Saturday n May.  It was also a record setting crowd at Churchill Downs this past Saturday, 165,000 people!  And Detective Stabler attended his first Derby, definitely my favorite celeb.  I'm already looking forward to next year, looks like it could be a big one!  Stud will be FINISHED with medical school and I will actually be able to take some time off...can't wait to celebrate!

May 5, 2011

A Different Derby Race!

I finally found something about the Derby Festival that I didn't mention last year in my thorough coverage.  Last weekend, Stud ran in the Derby Festival Mini Marathon!  I, being the loving wife, dropped him off downtown at 6:30, went home and watched all my DVR'd shows from the week (I remained in my PJs and relaxed with my coffee), and the returned to watch him cross the finish line two hours later.  I was standing on the sidelines with my camera at the ready to snap him finishing the race, but when I saw I was so excited to actually see him among the 15,000 racers and he flew by so quickly, I missed my chance.  So here is a little post race pic for you.  With an extremely flooded river in the background.

The mini  (and full) marathons wind through the city the Saturday before Derby and this was the first year I even had the slightest involvement.  Stud also has a good soul and ran the race to donate his medal to a child with cancer, fighting in a different type of race.  It was all organized by the charity Medals4Mettle.  For a lot of people, the mini and full marathon are a huge part of the Derby Festival.  It was good to even be collaterally involved this year.

May 3, 2011

Corn Muffins

These are the best corn muffins in the world (shocker…the recipe comes from my beloved Cooks Illustrated).  They are crumbly, yet not dry, and they’re muffins!  That means I can get away eating them for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.  Add a little butter and maybe some honey….delectable.

 Corn Muffins
2 c. flour
1 c. fine ground yellow cornmeal
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
2 large eggs
¾ c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
¾ c. sour cream
½ c. milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.  Whisk eggs together in a separate bowl and then add the sugar and whisk until well combined.  Add the melted butter in three additions.  Add in half the sour cream and milk, whisk until combined, and then repeat with the remaining sour cream and milk.  I know, so complicated with all the additions of halves and thirds, but the result is so tasty!  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.  I like to use an ice cream scoop, the one with the handle to dispel the ice cream, to get batter into my muffin tins.  It also helps make them all the same size.  But you can use a large spoon as well.  Fill the muffin tin (this recipe should make 12) leaving the batter rounded in the muffin cup.  It gives them a really pretty domed top.  Bake until lightly golden, about 18 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.

Sooooo Stud actually made these and he did an amazing job.  We did learn one lesson.  We tried using muffin papers on one batch and for some reason, the tops look just perfectly golden and the bottoms were burned to a crisp.  So I wouldn’t recommend using papers.  I would just bake them in a non-stick pan and go with it.  He also made one batch that lasted for like two days, so we made another batch this weekend!  Hence why the picture above shows no evidence of the burned bottoms.  These are phenomenal served with chili, we had them with crab and shrimp bisque (coming soon!) and do make a really really good breakfast.

May 2, 2011

Bacon Leek Risotto with a Poached Egg

You all know at this point that I love eggs.  And carbs.  When I was reading last month’s issue of Bon Appetit, I found a  recipe for a risotto (carb) with bacon (bonus points) and topped with an egg (win!).  I immediately dog eared the page along with a few others and set it aside in my to-make pile of recipes.  Since I did not touch a pot last week, I finally had the chance to try it out the other night and it was delicious!  And I really like it because with the egg it just looks so pretty!

Bacon & Leek Risotto with a Poached Egg
6 strips of bacon
2 large leeks
1 T. olive oil
5 c. chicken stock
½ c. white wine
¼ c. parmesan cheese
1 ½ Arborio rice
1 T. butter

A big step for me was poaching the eggs and therefore it gets its own paragraph.  I had never poached an egg before!  I am not sure what the difference is from frying (besides appearance), but I thought I’d give it a try.  For the sake of my sanity, I poached my eggs in two steps.  There were two of us and I couldn’t figure out the logistics of poaching two eggs at the same time so we could eat together.  So I cooked the almost all the way and then re-heated them right before we ate.  To start, bring water to a simmer and add salt.  Crack an egg into a small bowl and slowly pour into the simmering water.  Cook for three minutes and then remove and place in a bowl with ice water.  Repeat with the second egg (and so on).  Once you are ready to eat, add the semi-poached eggs (all at the same time) back into simmering water for 1-2 minutes and you have hot fresh poached eggs!

For the risotto, slice the bacon into small pieces and slice the leeks thinly, using only the white and light green parts.  In a medium pot, add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until the bacon is nice and crispy.  There will be good browness all over the bottom of the pot.  Remove the bacon, leaving the grease (!!), and add the leeks.  Cook the leeks for a few minutes until they are soft.  Add in the rice and stir until it has absorbed all the grease.  Add in the wine and cook until it’s absorbed.  Add the chicken stock in ½ c. increments, adding more whenever the rice has absorbed the previous addition.  It should take about 25 minutes.  Once it’s finished, add in the butter, cheese, and bacon.  Top with a poached egg and enjoy!

I love love love risotto.  But it’s a love/hate relationship.  Every time I make it, it looks so good and creamy so I take a big bite.  And then I realize that it’s about a bazillion degrees and my tongue is suffering third degree burns.  This recipe included.  From what I could taste after the burning incident, it was delectable.  I am obsessed with the poached egg.  I might start adding eggs to all risottos.  When the yolk breaks, it made the risotto even creamier and added a richness that it was lacking.  Stud and I had this with a big salad and it was a great almost summer dinner.  I also felt so hip using veggies that are in season!  Now all I need is the Farmers Market to open (or for it to STOP RAINING so I can hit others) so I can get fresh veggies!


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