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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lolling In Progress

Well, for Rachel.
Not so much for me.
This week (and last week) have been pretty crazy. Rachel is at the beach, wallowing in a well deserved vacation.
I got laid off from my job 3 days before my wedding (best present ever! Oh wait…), came back from the honeymoon, and had an interview the next morning. At 9 am. Helllllloooooo jetlag! The fact that they called me back for a second interview goes to show that either they’re crazy, or maybe I always interview like I’m coming off a 3 day bender.
All that to say, I got the job, and started last week, and we’ve been trying to settle into life again post wedding/Scotland (which were both AMAZING. More to come), and fighting off summer colds, and generally running around like crazy people.
This is really just a post with an excuse as to the lack of posting.
I’ll make it up, I swear.
Forgive me?

In the meantime, I really need to figure out how to make this happen.

 

Hurricane Preparedness Kit

As you are reading this my husband and I are headed straight toward a hurricane! Ain’t nothing going to stop me from taking my damn vacation! So this past week, despite living in the middle of the country, I’ve been on Hurricane Irene watch. (It looks like she’s going to the North of us and the area we are going won’t be evacuated.)

When Kelly at Tearing up Houses mentioned what’s she’s preparing for the hurricane (in her adorable cooler, no less) it got me to thinking about what I would deem essential to survive a hurricane.

Here’s my list:
- Beer, lots and lots of beer
- Rum and gin for when we run out of beer
- Nutella
- hummus and pita chips
- nice smelling candles
- fruit snacks

What would be in your hurricane kit?

Things that drive us crazy: The Vacation Rush and Guilt

My first job out of college I had no real responsibilities. It was one of those you could leave at work and clock in and out of. My current job has more responsibilities, which I love, but also love to hate sometimes. Mostly, though, only during my off hours. I appreciate my previous job a little more around vacation time.

When I take time off I spent a day or two before I leave rushing to get everything together and ready for when I leave. Then I spend usually two times the amount I took off after the fact catching up on what I missed. Its not relaxing.

Not to mention the guilt I face when taking time off. Why have we Americans made ourselves feel guilty when we take some time for ourselves? Vacations and breaks are healthy and productive to our health and mental well being. So why should I feel bad?

I was talking with a client the other day who’s company is based on Europe. He was talking about his frustrations when dealing with his home office. They will take two to three weeks vacation at a time and are much more lackadaisical about deadlines. I’m not saying use all your vacation time at once and forget about your deadlines, but I think its healthier to not take things so seriously sometimes.

What are your thoughts on work, vacation, and guilt?

Things We Love: Creative Friends

I’m so blessed to have a lot of friends who are incredibly creative. Well, blessed/jealous. Not gonna lie, sometimes I wish I had a tiny percentage of their talent.

Our friends Nolan and Josiah at Haywire Creative are so talented, it almost hurts. They did our engagement photos and those turned out swoon worthy.

Then, as our wedding present, they did this:

I cry every time I watch it.

They perfectly captured the feel of the town that we love and the incredible relationship that we have.

Also, for the record, it’s the only video of myself that I don’t hate.

Fashion Etiquette Conundrum

The other day I faced an etiquette conundrum. I was at a popular bar when a girl walked in wearing the same dress I was wearing. I’ve debated the virtue of a Target dress for years. They are cute and very reasonably priced. As we’ve already discussed, we love dresses. It’s practically all I wear from May to September. (I actually put on jeans for the first time in weeks the other day. It was weird.) Each summer I usually pick up two or three cute dresses at Target. The only problem with Target dresses is that they are a mass product. Thousands of other girls are wearing them as well. So its inevitable that you’ll see someone wearing the same dress you are out and about.

My conundrum is though, if you walk into an event wearing the same dress as another girl who has already been there, do you sit/stand right next to her?

The guy on the other side of me at the bar pointed it out. The girl herself admitted she probably shouldn’t sit next to me wearing the same dress.

Normally I wouldn’t have thought too much of it. If it was me walking in, I would have found another spot in the room so as not to bring attention to the situation.

Maybe I’m being a little silly. What are your thoughts on seeing someone out wearing the same thing? Do you love Target’s summer dresses too?

Foodie Fridays: Beer Braised Pork Chops

I have a confession: I think pigs are pretty much one of the tastiest things ever created. Oh how I love bacon. And pork belly. And pork tenderloin. And… well, you get the point.

The beer plays a huge role in the flavor of this dish, so this is not the time to buy Miller Lite or PBR, unless you just really love it. I used a Newcastle, and next time I might go for something even darker.  The richer, nuttier flavor is heavenly with the pork. Also, might as well get something that you’ll enjoy finishing off while cooking. No sense in letting good beer go to waste, right?!

Beer Braised Pork Chops

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops, preferably 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

In a large, plastic zip-top bag, mix flour, salt, and pepper. Add the pork chops, and shake to coat thoroughly. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add olive oil and heat until sizzling. Add the pork chops in a single layer. Saute until brown on one side, approximately 2 minutes. Turn the pork chops and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. (I actually mixed all of the remaining ingredients beforehand, and simply poured it all in at once, which I recommend.) Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove pork chops to a plate. Increase temperature in skillet to medium and boil pan juices until thickened, whisking often. Top pork chops with pan sauce.

Original recipe

Wasted Wednesday: Summer Beer

I hate myself for not trying this sooner. This is such a simple summer cocktail, its perfect for the end of a long day while you watch your spouse grill. It should probably be consumed outside, its that summery.

Summer beer:
1 12 oz beer – something with a lighter to medium body.
1 can frozen lemonade
2 oz vodka.

Ingredients before stirring

Mix all ingredients in pitcher or really large glass. I added some ice to make it even more cool.

Makes two 8 oz drinks.

When I was making them my husband, Bryan, was pretty skeptical. He insisted on sampling before he would commit to a glass. He liked it. Then he refused to let me take a picture of just the two glasses he was so anxious to have some more. Sorry for the ridiculous picture.

Pasta Salads

Over the past few weeks I’ve tried several different pasta salad recipes in order to build an arsenal of delicious pasta salad recipes. As a pasta lover, this was an enjoyable task. My waistline is not thanking me however.

Here are a few that I’ve tried:

Deviled shrimp pasta salad: One of the most unique salads. It was the perfect summer salad as a meal. Light, yet still filling.

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad: light, refreshing side salad. I took this to a neighborhood picnic and it was a big hit.

Orzo Pasta Salad with artichoke hearts and peas: Not the best pasta “salad” but is an easy delicious meal for a busy weeknight.

Quinoa Caprese Salad: yum!

Spicy Pasta Salad with Smoked Gouda, Tomatoes, and Basil: delicious and not your average pasta salad. My husband was a fan of this one.

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad: one of my personal favorites, great as a side dish or add some grilled chicken and make it a meal.

None of these salads I would call traditional. But I wanted to branch out and try some new things. I have a couple more I want to try. The quest for the more pasta salad continues, but it may never be over.

What is your favorite pasta salad recipe?

The Summer of Shrimp

I’m a really big dork. You’ve probably already figured that out. Every summer since I was a little girl I’ve had to have summer goals. Over the summers I’ve learned to knit and reorganized photos. This summer I decided I would try new shrimp and pasta salad recipes every week. With the exception of two weeks from May to August I stuck to my goal, making this possibly one of the most successful summer projects. Today I’ll discuss some of the shrimp recipes and tomorrow I’ll talk about the pasta salad recipes I’ve tried.

Deviled Shrimp Pasta Salad: The first and one of my favorite recipes was a combination of pasta salad and shrimp. It was a great opener to the summer project.

Flaming Cajun Shrimp: This is the first recipe that I’ve ever set fire to. It was delicious and would be great for a casual dinner party.

Paul Proudhomme’s Barbecued Shrimp: I had some amazing barbecued shrimp in New Orleans earlier this year and I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since. This comes pretty close.

Shrimp Soup: This comes from a cookbook. It was okay, but made a ton. I still have several containers in my freezer.

Creole Marinated Shrimp: A recipe from Ambrosia cookbook. A cold shrimp dish which would be a fantastic appetizer for a summer party.

Swamp Shirmp: Our favorite.

I still have a few recipes flagged to try, so the summer of shrimp isn’t quite over yet.

What is your favorite shrimp dish?

Foodie Fridays: Citrus Salmon With Bok Choy

This is, hands down, one of our favorite simple recipes. It’s easy and very tasty and yes, healthy too. We increased the amount of ginger and cilantro the original recipe called for by a lot, and I’m glad we did. The flavors are so fresh, and considering it’s a billion degrees out, fresh is really nice right now. If you can find wild caught salmon, this is definitely a recipe where you should splurge and go for it.

 Citrus Salmon with Bok Choy

  • 2 heads of baby bok choy, each cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
  • 2 5-to 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin off
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated orange peel
  • 3/4 tsp cracked coriander seeds
  • About 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Form bed of bok choy in center of each of two 12-inch square pieces of foil. Top bok choy with fish, and lightly salt the fish. Mix orange juice, green onion, hoisin, ginger, and orange peel in small bowl. Spoon mixture over fish, dividing equally. Sprinkle with salt and coriander. Top with cilantro. Fold up foil sides and pinch tightly to seal above fish and at both ends of packets, enclosing contents completely. Place packets on baking sheet. Bake until fish is just opaque in center, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer packets to plates and serve.

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