Wednesday, March 31, 2010

out like a lion....

I'm a terrible blogger right now. I'm sorry! No excuses, other than... laziness. :)

I love spring. I love the promise of warmer weather, the triumph of making it through yet another grey, bleary winter and the smell of the earth heating up. I just love almost everything about it. Spring round these parts is unpredictable though, and just because it's Spring does not mean that the weather will be great. Very early Monday morning, Petesie and I were woken up at the same time by a crazy amount of rain, rocking our house. Spring storms are the best when snuggled up with someone you love.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for us. Sunday, March 21st marked the passage of the first ever large scale Health Reform bill. Despite some very strong opposition from the Republicans (strong opposition = adamantly standing against every.single.thing Democrats say, do, think, feel, etc....) we passed it. We were VERY proud of our leaders that night, Petesie celebrated by woopin' and cheerin' and singin' Proud To Be An American for several days on end. Seriously. Singing loudly out the car windows while driving down the crowded streets of Sodo. That's my happy man!

Last weekend, we got up to the cabin for a nice 36 hour weekend trip with our friends The Lasers. (not really their name..... but it's what we call them.... thanks to Petesie for making up nicknames for everyone, I now also refer to people by their Petesie Names). The Lasers brough their dog Max, who quickly became Monty's best friend ever. Sorry, Milo. It was a great weekend, very relaxing, fun, full of good food, good company and sunshine. We arrived late Friday night and I pulled together a quick meal of pasta and grilled chicken tossed with pesto, french bread, Chalet Talley Cabernet and a great salad. On Saturday we took the dogs to Lake Wenatchee, watched them romp and frolic and walked along the cross country ski trail (keeping our eyes open for Cinnamon the Bear!). The walk wasn't too long, maybe a couple of miles, but when we came home we were all so exhausted that we all fell asleep for almost two hours. Even the dogs. Something about the cabin that really makes us lazy. :)

Saturday night we had Mexican food in Leavenworth followed by a flight of wine at Icicle Ridge Winery and a night back at the cabin playing cards. Sunday we took the doggies for another walk along the aqueduct and soaked in the sun. I love the smell of the cabin when the warm spring and summer sun hits it. There is something so distinctive about that smell, so warm and comforting and relaxing. By the time we got home on Sunday night, we were watching the weather forecast for the next several days anticipating two feet of snow on the pass. Hard to believe!

Monday night I made what I called Spicy Sicillian Seafood Risotto. Delicious. Not that spicy, and I have no idea if it was actually Sicillian, but boy, was it tasty. Last night I took some of the leftovers, formed them into patties, dipped them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and pan fried them up. Seriously - so good. I am SO glad that I made a TON of risotto, because that means there are more lefties for more Risotto cakes tonight (for me. I think Petesie is ready to move on.... can't blame him).

So, that's life these days. It's March 31st and tomrrow is the first day of April. :) Yay!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Iron Chef, meet Juror #31

I'm back from my self imposed hiatus! Okay, not so much a hiatus, just a really busy week. I literally could not believe yesterday when 4pm rolled around, which to me, signals the end of a work week. That meant it had been a full five days of work since Monday (you're reading this and say, uh.... duh....). The week flew by. Almost scary how fast time flies by sometimes.

Last weekend was very simple, spent lots of time around the house, with each other, walked the dog, etc... Last Saturday we used a gift certificate Gabey got us for a really fun date night - movie tickets, popcorn and two cocktails at the Big Picture (does that mean that Gabey bought us drinks?? huh.). Super fun night together, we don't go out on dates like that very often. Thanks Gabe!!!

Monday after work I FINALLY had the chance to get together and catch up with Kelli and Hailey. Love those two, miss Kelli a ton. Bells, let's not let so much time pass between catching up again, okay? Hailey is, of course, super cute. It surprised me how much of the little mommy things that I used to do with Gabey and John came back to me in interacting with Hailey. It's been 14 years since G & J have been little, but I guess that's why they call it mommy instinct.

Hailey brought me books to read to her and then plopped down on my lap:
Tuesday night Petesie and I pulled our second date night in four days, so he could recap to me his Adventures of Juror 31. Yep, he spent the week in jury duty, which according to the City Of Kirkland, basically requires you to be on call within about thirty minutes from the courthouse, so if you're needed, you can show up instantly. The good thing about that is that the courthouse was literally three minutes from our house. And of all five days where he was on call, he was on a jury one day, one day didn't have to show up at all, and the other three days would have to call and random intervals and ended up going in, but then would get dismissed. Basically, a week of vacation for Petesie, and couldn't have come at a better time. He spent his days walking Monty, reading, watched some movies, and worked on his latest project, reupholstering our booth. Yep, he's my little craftsman!

Thursday night might require a post of it's own, but I'll just do a quick recap here. My department brought us together at a local cooking school for an Iron Chef Competition. We were divvied up into three teams, each team was given a protein (ours was steak) and told to make a protein, starch, dessert, and utilize our secret ingredient in one of them - Via Instant Coffee.

I captained the Red Team and more or less directed (okay, bossed) the aspect of our meal: via rubbed tenderized skirt steak roulade stuffed with gorganzola cheese, which I seared over high heat in a lot of butter to get a great golden crust and finished in the oven. I then carmelized onions and made a sauce with onions, wine reduction, heavy cream and creme fraiche. And goat cheese, because I couldn't help myself. We served the steak roulade on a pool of creme fraiche, topped with butter-sauteed mushrooms, along with goat cheese and rosemary smashed potatoes, sweet ginger glazed carrots and flash cooked asparagus. Dessert was molten chocolate cakes with huckleberries. Dinner was great - my only issue was the via rub, which was WAY too spicy and completely overpowered the rest of the meal. I didn't make the rub, but after I was told how spicy it was, I tried to make my sauce extra creamy to cut the spice. It didn't work, but it didn't matter, because...... I WON! Our steak won best dish, which my team awarded to me, and I won team MVP!!! Woohoo!! It was so much fun, and a great chance to boss around some of the guys I work with when at work it's vice-versa. :) ha.

Today is a gorgeous sunny day and the first day of SPRING! I love this day more than the firsts of the other seasons. First day of summer is bittersweet for me (happy it's summer, but days get shorter), first day of fall I'm usually ambivalent toward, first day of Winter is great because the days let longer, but it's still cold and bleary, but first day of Spring means the best is yet to come - sunny days, gardens (oh yeah and allergies) and the summer which stretches out before you like the water stretches out over Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains rising behind it. Just beautiful, hopeful and sweet all around (um, except the allergies).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paula Deen style...

I fashion myself as a southern girl sometimes... Makes total sense, having been born and raised in Seattle. :) But, I have Mississippi roots, and although I have only visited the deep south twice, something about the food just clicks with me. Perhaps it's all the bacon grease?

On that note, I am a major sucker for deep fat fried country style cookin'. Paula Deen just speaks to me, and it's a miracle I don't weigh a LOT more.

Two Paula recipes from the last several days:

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies ... these babies are yummy. I made them in Lemon this week and used green food coloring for a St. Patty's Day coffee tasting at work tomorrow. Super easy and delicious. Use caution though, very, very sticky.

Beef Stroganoff. Yummy comfort food to the max. I had a serious hankerin for some Beef Stroganoff this weekend and found this recipe. Modified only slightly, I reduced the onions in some sherry for a little more depth of flavor, and omitted the mushrooms, because no matter what I do, I just can't like them. I also added a bit of mustard and even... ketchup. :) Loved it!

Both come highly recommended. Paula was my hero this week.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It will be your greatest achievement:

Follow this recipe. Please. Only add extra curry and spices. Holy cow, was this meal DELICIOUS!

Thai Coconut Curry Tilapia

For those that don't want to follow the link, recipe is as follows:

Finely dice one red bell pepper and a bunch of green onions (approx. one cup of each) It was nice to have this prepared prior to the next step

Mince some ginger and garlic. I use pre-minced garlic in a vat from Costco, so it ended up being a couple teaspoons of ginger and maybe two tablespoons garlic. Saute the ginger and garlic in a little olive oil in a big nonstick pan, and then throw in the pepper and onion.

Add MORE of the spices than the recipe link calls for - I added probably two tablespoons red curry paste, a couple teaspoons of curry powder, a heaping teaspoon of cumin. AND, for the heck of it, I also added some powdered ginger. Stir that up a bit.

Add in to the pan a can of coconut milk, a tablespoon brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and here is where I went crazy: where the recipe called for four teaspoons soy sauce, I used two (plus some) soy sauce and two (plus some) teaspoons fish sauce. I find fish sauce makes curries taste more authentic.

Add a ton of chopped cilantro. Stir up. Simmer for a bit.

Oh, and somewhere along the way: take two fillets of tilapia and drizzle a little olive oil on them. The recipe called for just a sprinkle of salt on them, but I rubbed in a some curry powder, to bump up the flavor. This was a good call. Broil the fish for between 5-8 minutes or so.

Thats all. Serve the fillet of fish over some rice (I used brown rice) and dump the sauce over the top. Oh, and I served with more cilantro on top (because I'm crazy like that) and a big slice of lemon.

Petesie proposed on the spot. Again. Because he's crazy like that. :)

Avoidance techniques

I've always been good at avoiding things. Don't think about the issue, it'll go away, right? Wrong. In the past four months, I've steadily started putting on a little weight here, and a little weight there, and all of a sudden, I hate the way I look and I don't fit into my pants anymore. Grr.... Smartly, I know exactly how to combat this issue - eat less and work out more! It's no big secret... but BOY are those two actions incredibly difficult for me to stick to.

Today, I have decided I MUST get a work out. I even dragged the stationary bicycle into the living room (all by myself, I must add. No small feat!). But since then, I've had my rear end planted firmly on the couch, with the exception of getting up to eat lunch. Lunch today was leftover Beef Stroganoff. Yes, beef, pasta, cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Good lord, what will it take for me to get off my ass?!

Other ways I've managed to avoid working out today? Fixing up my blog (which isn't a big task, but with two crappy computers, one which crashed midway through the project and the other which moves slower than a slug, this took my quite some time), browsing cookie recipes (again, FAIL!) and watching pre-Academy Award shows. Oh yeah, and organizing my thoughts, below:

Two years ago today was a Friday and I had been emailing all week with a cute guy I worked with. I got an email towards the end of the day in which this cutie suggested we go get some beers after work, to which I agreed. Yes, the cutie was Petesie, and within a couple of days, I was hooked. We started dating and became very serious very fast. Within two and a half months he asked me to move in with him, and on the following March 7th (one year ago today), he proposed with a ring box buried in a cookie jar filled with snickerdoodles. It was one of the best days of my life. We were so happy that night - we went to a nice Italian dinner in downtown Seattle, drank champagne and couldn't sleep at all that night. A lot has changed in these two years, I can only wonder how life will continue to manage keeping up with the pace we've set. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

how far the mighty fall...

If you can even consider myself once mighty, which I don't really - but I used to hold my own when it came to being able to intake alcohol....

Needless to say, we went for Happy Hour last night after work, and I had two greyhounds and a slice of pizze. Not even a little tipsy. Had my last cocktail around 5:30pm. Home by 7:30 and fast asleep for the night by 7:35. Petesie said I sighed moments before I fell deep asleep "I miss Bob Costas" (I don't deny that I could have said this. I do miss Bob Costas). I woke up around 9am this morning. If anyone is counting, that is around 13 1/2 hours of sleep.

I've been cut off alcohol for the rest of the year after that.