Friday, April 30, 2010

So fresh

The shipment of basil came in! Thank goodness, because I made an amazing meal for lunch today that contained my longed-for basil. Okay, not really a meal, but a main dish (Bradley gives me a hard time for saying a dish is a meal). It was so good I video chatted my parents to show them! I know, that was probably cruel because they weren't here to eat it themselves but I will make it for them when we are in Florida (we're visiting in two weeks and the thought of making it again makes me happy).

Back to the basil. Question: when is basil season? It might explain the immense difficulty I had in locating it this week. Can I please show you a picture of how much basil comes in one of those tiny packages? Well, of course I can this is my blog...
Three! Three twigs of basil. It just made me mad. It was only enough to marinate my mozzarella (that will come in a later post). I need much more basil for my lunch dish, so Bradley went and checked Kroger for my shipment, while I chopped delicious freshness, and the basil was finally there! He bought me 2 packages of basil and 5 days after my hunt for basil began I was finally satisfied. But my ultimate satisfaction will come when I begin shopping at Publix in 4 weeks. *please note, my Ultimate Satisfaction comes from the Lord, I realize that. But speaking strictly in terms of a grocery store I believe Publix outshines Kroger and Food City. Just sayin'. You know I speak the truth, don't hate.

Okay, so what is for lunch? You wonder. And I shall tell you. Before I do please don't say "no" because of the name. It is lacking originality. I hate names of things that just list all the ingredients of the dish. You want the name to be fun and catchy! It is in the description where you find out what you are actually ordering or eating. You know what I mean, names like "Death by Chocolate" "The Great Wall of Chocolate" "Mississippi Mud Pie" you get the idea, I love chocolate.

So, I shall call this meal...

"Chickpeas from Heaven" - no, no, too cheesy

"Super Summer Salad" - Hmm, is basil season in the summer? If so, that might work.

"I got that boom chickpea boom" - huh?

"Girly Salad" - Bradley's suggestion, I disagree.

"May Showers bring Fresh Salads" - Okay that doesn't rhyme...wait it's April showers...

"April Showers bring Fresh Salads"


"May Flowers and Fresh Salads"

I actually like the May showers the best...but that doesn't work because it's wrong... except in East Tennessee where it rains all the time (side note). So, I guess I will have to use the loser name:

Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, Basil and Parsley.

Does that make you want to eat it? Well maybe not, but it is so fresh and yummy so regardless of the name you should try it. And then maybe you'll have some ideas for the name.

So good! Here are the directions.

Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes, Olives, Basil and Parsley (aka Boom Chickpea Boom)

-2 cans garbanzo beans
-1 T + 3 T red wine vinegar
-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
-2 cups diced and drained tomatoes (or more)
-1/2 cup Kalamata olives, (sliced into slivers)
-3/4 cup chopped red onion (or more)
-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or more)
-1/4 cup chopped parsley (or more)
-5 T extra virgin olive oil.

Rinse garbanzo beans until no more foam appears. Pour in large bowl and add 1 T red wine vinegar and lemon juice (I just squeezed some in, but the amounts are for you to use if that makes you feel more comfortable.)

Chop tomatoes and drain while you chop the onions and slice olives. Then add to the bowl with the marinating beans.

Wash and dry basil and parsley, finely chop herbs and add to salad.

Put 3 T red wine vinegar in a small bow and whisk olive oil until dressing is emulsified. Add dressing to salad. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Marinate at room temperature for one to two hours if you want, I didn't have the patience for this. And then serve! You can refrigerate your left overs, I'm not sure how good they will be, probably not as amazing as when you first make it.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Hunt for Basil

Sunday evening Bradley and I went to the grocery store to get the necessary supplies to try my new recipes for the week. The key ingredient in all my recipes is Basil. Unfortunately, Kroger was out of basil. I talked to the produce man and he told me to have no fear a shipment full of basil was coming on Tuesday. Perfect! Tuesday is the day I most needed basil.

Tuesday rolls around and right before dinner time I run to Kroger to pick up my basil. And...NO BASIL! I run to the nearest produce man and ask him to check the back for my shipment of basil. No basil. A shipment should come on Thursday he says. Well, I am bound and determined to make my Asian Lettuce Wraps (yes, that's the recipe for today) so I run to Food City to find some Basil.

First, let me say, I am a loyal Kroger shopper, loyal not only to the grocery store in general but also my specific location. I know where to go to find all my goodies. But I couldn't help but think as I pulled into the big spacious parking lot of Food City...should I start shopping here?The rows are slanted for easy parking, you can drive down both sides, and it is obviously not as populated as my crowded Kroger. But, one thing that I have never liked about Food City are the carts, they are just weird looking. You know what I am talking about. They are the high ones and you slide them up on the cashier's side. I really like being able to put my food on the conveyor belt myself so I can organize by fruits, veggies, frozen foods, cans, etc this helps the bagging process (That is the most type A thing I do). Anyway, Food City I'm sure is great...I'm just not ready to make the switch.

So I run to the produce section (run might be a little over dramatic, but hey! it's my story) and they have one tiny, measly package of Basil.
I mean come on people! I need a LOT of Basil! But this one tiny package will have to hold me over until the glorious Thursday shipment of basil. To make me feel better I bought this beautiful bouquet of daisies.
And yes, it did make me feel so much better! So pretty!
So I get home and I am ready to attempt my Asian lettuce wraps! I pull up the recipe...and, I kid you not, it does NOT call for basil. Uuuuuggggghhhh.

But what it does call for is 3 tablespoons of chopped red onion and this weird ginger root thing. I was a bit skeptical...
That is, until I peeled it and it smells glorious! I should have gotten a whole pound and made ginger Asian wraps...or just served ginger for dinner...mmm so good. But the recipe only called for 2 tablespoons.

So what you do is put about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet, saute the onions for about 2 minutes. Add the Ginger and 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic. I love love love using garlic from a jar! I know some people are cringing...but I don't care it makes my life so much easier.
After you saute all that for about a minute add your pound of lean beef or turkey. (Next time I make this I'm going to try minced you know how to mince a chicken?)

Then add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of this stuff! LOVE IT!
Cook your meat until brown and add a cup of chopped cilantro. Cook for about a minute more and serve!
Lettuce Wraps like P.F. Changs! I'm telling you the picture doesn't do it is good!
Yum! *The chopsticks are completely have to use your hands...I don't think it's even possible to use chopsticks.
Add chopped peanuts...delish!
I am very excited about this recipe and I definitely am going to use it again!

Bradley and I topped off the night with a run to McDonald's for an ice cream cone and I got back home just in time for The Biggest Loser...Not a bad evening! How was yours?

Asian Lettuce Wraps

1 T vegetable oil
3 T shopped red onion
2 T minced garlic
2 T grated ginger root
1 lb of turkey or lean beaf
4 T soy sauce
2 T of Chili Garlic Sauce
1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
1 head of iceberg lettuce

Saute onion in oil for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute. Add meat, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce. While the meat browns chop cilantro and wash lettuce. Once your meat is cooked add your cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more. Serve meat with the lettuce as a wrap.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

None But Jesus, I'll Live to Bring Him Praise

I had the opportunity to speak this Friday night at a high school girls retreat. It was such a humbling experience. I absolutely loved preparing for it and having the opportunity to share with these girls was a blessing. I've spoken a little bit here and there in college at women events but nothing really formal so I was a little nervous. I am very thankful to my husband who made sure I had some chocolate and diet coke before I went to church, which helped a great deal!

Before my "talk" we had a time of worship, and I was blown away by God's hand in the song selection. I felt like the songs communicated the points of my talk much more eloquently than I would be able to express. I really enjoyed that moment in worship knowing that I was about to stand up and talk about my beautiful Savior and everything I was about to say had already been proclaimed as truth in that room.

The song that really just took my breath away, was None But Jesus:

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won't refuse
Each new day again I'll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

So when You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

All my delight is in You, Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You, Lord, forevermore

"None but Jesus" was the point of my talk. Being "satisfied" in the ultimate and only Satisfier. In the book Counterfeit God, Tim Keller talks about three basic metaphors used to describe how people relate to idols, they love idols, they trust idols and they obey idols. How often do we take God off his throne and replace him with an idol! I really wanted the students to walk away knowing that our love, trust and obedience can only be placed fully in Christ. Everything else will leave us unsatisfied. To place our love, trust and obedience in Christ we much recognize him as our treasure, Not academics or money or appearance or approval, Christ is our treasure. He is the source of our joy. When you experience the goodness of the Lord our only response is to worship, to acknowledge him as God and to treasure him. He is our joy and our satisfaction. There is no one else for me, none by Jesus, crucified to set me free, now I'll live to bring Him praise!

I hope and pray that through my mumblings and stutters the high school girls were able to see a picture of God's love and mercy. My prayer is that every day I will have a bigger view of God and grow in my love, trust and obedience to the Ultimate Satisfier.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Intruding on Two Strangers' Date

I love going for walks. And last Saturday afternoon was the perfect weather for a walk in Chattanooga. I gave Bradley a tour of my "old stomping grounds" which really ended up me being lost and Bradley figuring out where to go...directions and memory have never been one of my strengths...But I did find the pedestrian bridge!

Do you ever try and figure out the stories of the people around you? I really hope you do...or you'll probably think I'm crazy...which I probably am. But this cute couple was walking in front of us and I just couldn't resist thinking out loud to Bradley.
Me: Oh look! They are on a date! How cute!
Bradley: nondescript reply
Me: It's definitely a date, see the coffee cups? Typical date. The guy thought they should go get a cup of coffee and go for walk. Very good, a little more creative than just dinner but also casual enough for a get to know you date. You can also tell this was the guy's plan because who get's coffee at 3:00 in the afternoon when it's 80 degrees outside? Oh and their kinda awkward around each other! Cute! See how they aren't touching at all? Not holding hands, and not walking that close together. Every time they bump into each other the girl pulls away. And the guy keeps looking down at her.
Bradley: You think it has to be a first date because the guy keeps looking at her?
Me: No. But he seems very attentive, almost awkwardly so. And with the coffee cups in hand...I definitely think it's a first date.
Bradley: I really don't think it's a first date.
Me: Really? hmmm, maybe your right. Third date? I guess going for a walk would involve more talking than a first date would be comfortable enough. Wait...
Bradley: They're married.
Me: Oh, they're wearing wedding rings.

Then I took a picture to document a useless stream of consciousness conversation.

I wonder if Bradley and I ever decide to go walking with a cup of coffee in our hands if we would look like a married couple who were on an awkward first date...Probably, can you imagine Bradley with a cup of coffee?

Speaking of coffee, does anyone know how to make a good cup of coffee? That is something that I am unable to do. My mom makes delicious coffee, but she grinds the coffee beans which may be the reason. My favorite coffee is Dunkin Donuts, but that also may be because they add whole cream to it (not the fat free half and half that I use). I have Dunkin Donuts' coffee but my ratio of water to coffee bean does not equal tasty. I don't like it super bold, but I don't like it super weak either. I really like it...perfectly in the middle. I can just never reach that perfect balance. How do you make your coffee?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eating Healthy...what a drag

Our gym membership is coming to an end this month so Bradley and I decided we should take full advantage of our last couple weeks and really focus on a healthy lifestyle. Uuugh eating healthy... *Cringe* We've done a really good job since our New Year's Resolution to work out and be more active...unfortunately with the birth of this blog our eating hasn't been the healthiest. I mean let's just be honest, I've made a lot of desserts. My favorite foods are chocolate and sugar...sigh. Granted I do try only to fix them when other people can eat them but they are just soooo gooood.

Anyway, what this means is I feel like I'm starting all over again trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I am not a very good cook in general, and to try and be a healthy cook is overwhelming and...well...rather depressing. I've reverted back to my old cooking style which is chicken on a George Foreman...GAG ME! It really puts me in a bad mood. Because of that, my blog posts have been sparse, and I'm still saving one yummy recipe I cooked with Lora to post when salads and chicken have all but brought me to tears.

I'm not going to give up though! Cooking (and cleaning up after my messes) is something I'll have to do my whole life (blah) and I have to get better. Right? Surely. I did do some searching for healthy recipes that I'm going to try. I'll have to make a grocery store run to get all the ingredients...lots and lots of ingredients.

Oh one thing I do have to say...these "healthy bloggers" are crazy! They wake up and run a thousand miles, eat nothing but vegetables and make it sound fun to drink a spinach smoothie. I actually did want to try the spinach smoothie but my blender is packed and Bradley said no to my new "healthy" breakfast. Oh well, in a few weeks I'll try that. :-)

Healthy meal or snack ideas would be much appreciated! Really anything that doesn't involve chicken on the George Foreman.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3 desserts and a home

I was in a friend's wedding this weekend and I had the best rehearsal dinner dessert, Chocolate Pots de creme. I've never heard of it before but it is rich chocolate at the perfect consistency. I swooned. Delish! I know, I have a problem, I can't stop taking pictures of food. It is very pathetic.

Last week, we also found a place to live when we move to Daytona Beach, Florida...yeah baby!

It's TURQUOISE! And it has a lot of windows! We are pretty excited. So to celebrate our new home here is a post on Chocolate Oreo Balls...yum...Bradley and I actually celebrated by a late night Sonic run.

We look rough...don't worry, it's the flash.

So here is the simplest recipe ever! Grind a box of oreos. Like this...Take a package of cream cheese and blend until smooth and add the oreo crumbs. Oh man, I want one of these kitchen aid things! Playing in Lora's kitchen made everything so easy!
Form into oreo balls.
Drizzle with white chocolate (simply melt the chocolate and put in a ziplock bag and cut a corner to squeeze it).
And done! Refrigerate and serve. Yum! Very rich...moderation is key.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring has Sprung and it is SWEET

WARNING: Contents on this post are extremely cute! Please do not continue if you are offended by flowers, chocolate, cuteness, sweetness, pretty stuff, or just plain fun.

Sunday, I spent the day under the tutelage of my dear friend Lora who is a phenomenal cook and is always trying something new, which is only a small reason why I love her. Our plan all started when we were walking one day and she told me about this cute dessert she found and had been dying to try, well she had me at dessert! So we decided to host a Spring has Sprung party for our small group.

Start with clay pots, washed and dried. Some of you may already know where this is going...

Slice pound cake and round out the edges so it fits in the bottom. The main purpose (I discovered) is to prevent any leakage. So fill the bottom space well with pound cake.

The next step is to put a straw in the pound cake, cut just below the brim of the clay pot.

Fill around the straw with your favorite ice cream! The ice cream needs to be soft to fill the easiest. We used Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream, and Coffee.
I was in charge of the Mint, and you can see I made a much bigger mess than Lora. *Sigh* One day I'll be as great as Lora. But, it is okay if you make a mess, make sure that your straw is clear from ice cream (use a tooth pick or a fork to clean it out.) and you can clean off the rim of the pot before you freeze.
Freeze your pots of ice cream
Now it's time to make some dirt! One reason I love playing in Lora's kitchen because she has all the right toys! We made a lot of fun stuff using her fancy tools (you'll see in later posts). If you have one of these big processors it will make this step real easy. Crush or grind a box of oreos.
Cover your ice cream with oreo crumbs, try not to get it down the straw.

Finally, right before you serve stick your favorite flower down the straw!
Having a pretty table with flowers on it turns any dinner into a party!
There they all are!
Pretty and delicious! Our small group of fun ladies (who showed up in bright spring colors and even rocked a couple of big hats) didn't even notice right away that they were our dessert for the night.

Way too much fun! Love it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I can't handle the cuteness!

My newest project takes the cake! Well the cupcake. :-) I think I found my life calling, decorating cupcakes!
Our dear friends closed on their first home this week, so exciting! We had small group with them on Friday night and I wanted to throw a little new homeowner party! I was inspired by a magazine article on making these paper little buttons. Each stick button is a couple layers of card stock with 3D stickers, all from Hobby Lobby (which runs a close second to the best store in the world, World Market). I cut and glued card stock (they have glitter on them) and added the flowers, "T's" and the "Home sweet Home" stickers. It was so much fun.
After I had my stick buttons finished I made my cupcakes and the yummy buttercream frosting. I decided to try to decorate my cupcakes real fancy, like they came from The Cupcakery. Here is my first bag filled with frosting! Blue!

Nailed it my first attempt! I woke up early in the morning to do these before work (thankfully I work at home so I save time with my lack of a commute). I pretty much was dancing around the kitchen. Well, my kitchen is too small to dance around, so it was more like a jig in place.
A few more cupcakes, looking good! Lovin' the blue.
The first dozen that went to small group. So beautiful! Tears were brimming in my eyes.
Then I stick in my buttons. AHH! Excitement overflows!

Home Sweet Home! How cute are these?
I'm in love with the colors, so springy and and happy!
Now time to decorate the second dozen. My sis-in-law, Elizabeth had Prom last night, way too much fun, and I went over to help with make-up and and watch her and her friends hair get done. So I decided to make some girly cupcakes for the fancy prom girls! Time for yellow frosting.
Cute cute cute, no?
Decided to do a little flower on top. Add a little something different.
Pink and yellow, pink and yellow! I do have a fondness for pink and yellow!
Add some chocolate sprinkles to a few of the cupcakes...
Oh my goodness don't they look good? I'm just oozing with excitement! Love love love them!