Sunday, February 20, 2011

pt 3.... dinner

We used the fresh oysters as an appetizer. It has been a longtime goal of mine to get hubby to like oysters as much as I do.... after 6+ years I finally won!

Grilled Oysters
1/2 doz. fresh oysters- scrub the outside of the shells
2 Tbsp butter (I used Earth Balance)
2 cloves chopped garlic- extra chopped!

2-3 splashes hot sauce- I used Habenaro hot sauce
1 tsp tarragon

Put oysters shells on a hot grill. After 2 minutes they should start to open. Take off grill-carefully try not to spill the juices!  Pry open the oysters and scrape them loose.  Return oysters on the half shell to the grill. In a small sauce pan put butter through tarragon on the grill.  Grill for a 2-3 more minutes (depending on size of oysters, and preference).  Rub with butter and enjoy!

Applewood Smoked Salmon and Shrimp
1 lb piece of Scottish Salmon
1/2 lb fresh shrimp
salt and pepper

Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes.  Fold a large piece of foil in half and place chips in center. Fold edges in (almost like a foil packet), leaving a opening in the top, for smoke to escape.  Carefully move- with help- the grill grates and place directly on flames.  I had to poke holes in the bottom of the foil pack to get the smokiness rolling quickly.  Close grill and give it time to get nice and smokey!
Season salmon with Sea salt and fresh pepper.  Place salmon skin side up on oiled grates.  Cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip and keep grilling until preferred doneness. I like my salmon somewhere between medium rare- medium.  The fish will just start to flake when pushed down.  Meanwhile grill shrimp until pink!  Applewood smoked shrimp are REALLY good- we've never had smoked shrimp before this!

Serve with grilled pineapple slices!!

Black Rice
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup black rice
salt and pepper

We picked this rice up a couple weeks ago at Nadolski's, but we hadn't had time to cook it yet.  It went PERFECT with the salmon, shrimp, and pineapples.  After all my mush rice experiences I took extra time to research cooking methods.  All were relatively the same, and simple enough.  Rinse rice. Bring water, with salt and pepper, to a boil, and then add rice. Cover and put heat on low.  Cook for 35 minutes. Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.  Black rice has a wonderful nutty flavor.  It has high fiber and antioxidant properties, and is a great source of protein!  It took a while to find it- and to remember to look for it! I definitely want to keep it on hand from now on.  Steve and I loved it!!

... pt 2 Saturday shopping

Saturday mornings have been a long fought battle in our house. Do we enjoy extra time with coffee, 'news', puppy play time, meanderings through the yard and woods.... or do we get up get moving, and start accomplishing the days goals?! Starting to run errands around 2pm is never a good idea- someone always ends up grumpy!  Yesterday we headed off errand running mishaps by leaving around 10am! It was fantastic to wrap up the necessities- Home Depot- and stop in to a few extra spots- Home Goods... sorry hubs... and REI.  We were searching for lanterns for our front porch, but left with marinades and sauces...  As pay back for dragging hubs into home goods, I was followed by a giant ceramic bunny with wings.  Steve carried it on his shoulder for about 30 minutes, nice and high for everyone in sight to stop and give us a puzzled look.  What's with the seemingly normal looking couple and their affinity to ugly ceramic figurines...?!
The looks people were giving us were hilarious- it more than made up for the screaming children, claustrophobic aisles, and 4 mismatched lanterns we found randomly through out the store!

All the excitement left me hungry. We stopped by Umi, for a sushi fix! We missed the lunch hours, and were way to early for dinner.  We went with a back up plan, and everything was made right, with a few sandwiches and roasted red pepper soup from Cafe Caturra!

Thanks to leaving early in the morning we were able to make another weekend trip to Nadolski's to pick up dinner provisions. Our game plan was pick up whatever fresh fish was out- and then go from there! We went with Organic Scottish Salmon, 1/2 dozen oysters, and 1/2 lb shrimp.  It was all we could do not to add gobs of cheese, and slices of bacon to our order! Everything in moderation- especially in this shop!!

We made our way home let the grill heat up and feasted on some amazing eats!!!

prized weekend part 1

Inevitably there are some weeks where every possible meeting, and scheduled event falls. This past week was one of those weeks. Busy! Hubby's schedule was altered a bit, mine was full to the brim. After a couple weeks of the bronchitis monster zapping energy and motivation, it was nice when the weekend arrived and we were both healthy, and ready to enjoy it.

Friday night started off with spinach and ricotta stuffed puff pastry! They were a fun, and easy little finger food- perfect for sitting on our deck in the warm evening air.  Friday's 74 degree temps sent us outside for evening. We enjoyed nibbles, and drinks before grilling sea scallops and flank steak.  Steve is always honest about kitchen fails and triumphs. He will be the first to tell me if the meat is tough or the veggies are mushy.  My grilled flank steak has historically come out tough. The super lean meat is a great source of protein, but leaves something to be desired in the tenderness category.  To combat this  I marinated it for a few hours before grilling- using an extra dose of apple cider vinegar!!!  We grilled it to about medium, before pulling it off and letting it stand for 10 minutes.  The key to preventing beef flavored bubble gum is slicing it paper thin.  This of course is easier with a nice sharp knife.  Hubs loved it! I made a mental note- marinate for a long time, add extra vinegar, slice as thin as possible! Welcome back flank steak, you've been missed!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

let's share...

I share everything with Steve. Sometime's I am sure he doesn't care to listen to what I'm sharing- as in girly drama stuff that he has no understanding or interest in uderstanding....sometimes I share things with him that are hard for me to talk about.. These are the times that bring us closer, I'm sure. It is definitely a trust builder when you tell your loved one something you know they won't want to hear, but need to be aware of!

On a lighter note, sometimes we share germs. Nothing like a lil' bronchitis to say I love you babe!

Lucky for him, he could still taste last night when we shared our V-Day dinner! 
As promised, here's the low down on last nights dinner!!

Chicken and Shrimp with yellow rice
In dutch oven cook yellow rice as directed (20 minutes or so).
On stove top saute cubed chicken with garlic and onion, in olive oil.  Near the  end of cooking the chicken add shrimp.  Cook until pink.  Remove chicken and shrimp from pan. Return pan to med-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 cup diced red onion.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup peas, 1 diced roasted red pepper, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, and chopped green onion.  Cook for 2 or so minutes.  Add veggies, chicken and shrimp to dutch oven with the rice.  Season with salt and pepper. Splash with chicken stock, stir, and serve.

Tonight's dinner included garlic chili sauce, chicken, noodles, and broth! Light your mouth on fire flavor.... or in my love's case just make your nose run a bit more.  I spiked his ginger tea with a bit of Basil Hayden bourbon, for extra flavor and warmth!
Now it's time to veg out!

Here's to the next half of the week being a healthy one!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's day... and all that jazz...

I am a Valentine's Day scrooge. Hubby doesn't seem to mind, we both love to do nice things for each other all through out the year.  Candy, flowers, and fancy dinners are not my thing. I'd rather put a plant in the ground, share dark chocolate with sea salt every night, and whip up something tasty in my own kitchen.

I may have a jaded view of the arrow shooting punk from countless years of Valentine's dinner served to couples enjoying bottles of wine, and a prix fixe menu of appetizer, salad, entree, and a dessert for two.  Not that I didn't have a Valentine's to share it with.... but much like New Year's Eve this holiday is pretty much lost to me. Years of restaurant abuse will do that to you.

If you are going to celebrate with your love at a restaurant this fine evening please follow a few simple rules.

1. Don't sit on the same side of the table.... it's just bizarre.

2. Stop making out when your server is striving to get your attention, after all you are there to eat!

3. Just like every couple in there, you are celebrating a special night (along with no making out) please keep hands and feet in plain view at all times.... you have no idea.

4. Don't be complicated and ask for multiple substitutions, you chose to dine out at said restaurant with it's fixed menu with limited options...

5. Expect to pay a prime price for you dinner, but don't stiff your server! They work hard to keep your order's straight, your dressing on the side, steamed veggies, no butter, grilled fish, light ice, twist of lime- no lemon straight, with a smile, and a of course "that's no problem attitude"....

Should you stay home, whip up some saffron rice with chicken, shrimp and veggies. Open a bottle of wine. Snuggle next to the one you love on the couch. That is my kinda Valentine's Day  Monday ;-)

How to's for tonight's dinner coming up tomorrow. Right now I've got a Valentine to hang out with!

No matter how you spent it, I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

nasal sounding mouth breather.... hawt!!

I have always boasted about an incredible immune system.... working with kids, but never getting sick.... flu shot- whatevs, I don't get 'em!  Enter a slice of humble pie...
Monday I woke up with a raging head cold, miserable I went to work anyway- keeping a safe distance from everyone in sight.  Tuesday and Wednesday were repeats. I succumbed to the "s" word, admitted defeat- I was sick!  Thursday I sought relief at the doctor, only to find out I had a "virus that had to run it's course." 
While there was no magic medication to cure my cold- I got serious help from hubs, soup, and ginger!

Hubby made a KILLER spicy chicken and white bean soup. It had enough red pepper flakes to set any die hard caspian fan's mouth on fire. I nursed it for days, loving every spicy drop.  I swear every time I had a bowl I would feel relief for a couple of hours... and then go back for more!

My willingness to try anything for relief of a stuffy head, and tight chest led both Steve and myself on a search-  led by my FAVORITE search engine. Each of us found MULTIPLE sites touting ginger's medicinal values. Ginger has widely been known to settle an upset stomach, but also can help knock out a cold!  After getting some knobby fresh ginger, I began sipping on ginger tea.  As with anything, excess has potential dangers, moderation is key!  One tablespoon a day in hot water, with honey and lemon, opened up my airways! 

soup, tea, and daily dose of puppy luv
Not everything you google is worthwhile, and your course of treatment should definitely come from a doctor! Mine said rest and liquids ( I just spiced it up a bit!). Thankfully I was able to get both with the help of a fantastic hubby.  As I start to feel better, I realize I don't really ever get sick (here we go again) but when I do I am lucky to be married to this dude!

While laying on the couch, refreshing FB every ten minutes the other day, I decided to take a peak at hubby's blog.  I love reading his posts! He added a new page.  Check it out- OUT THERE !!!!  It chronicles some of our favorite camping spots in VA and NC! Definitely lifts the mood of a sick girl, tired of winter, ready to roll out the sleeping bag again!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a well spiced cold....

The germs involved with my job have finally gotten ahold of me! All I want to do is curl up with smoothies, soup, and crackers.  Hopefully whatever it is, it will quickly run it course and leave my poor sinus cavities alone!

Until then.... Bluberry Banana Smoothies, green tea, and homemade chicken soup for everyone!

Chicken Soup for a Cold
2 Chicken breasts- boneless, skinless or 3 chicken thighs
Olive oil
garlic 3 cloves
1/2 white onion diced
2 chopped carrots
1 celery stalk (halved and then diced)
lots of cayenne and black pepper, and salt
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups chicken broth
whole wheat egg noodles

Heat oil in dutch oven on medium and brown chicken on both sides.  Add veggies to dutch oven , and  cook until onions are soft and translucent.  Add broth to the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes. Pull chicken out of soup and cut and/or shred. Place chicken back in the pan and season with pepper. I added a ton, because I can't breathe... probably wouldn't add as much next time.  Season with salt. Add egg noodles to the dutch oven and allow to cook- around medium high- for 8 minutes. You don't want to simmer for too long or the noodles will get mushy.

No pictures of the soup! It wasn't that kind of night... more of a climb in bed around 7:30 with Nyquil kind of night for me! 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The end of mush...

This week was like ripping off a band aid.  I knew it was inevitably upon us- 5 days straight of work. Nearing the end, I absolutely thought to myself "that didn't hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would."  Winter has become a week by week affair.  One week of uncertain weather, followed by a productive week with some beautiful (70 degree) weather.  Next week is uncertain- but we're not quite there yet, so no need to worry!

Wednesday brought ABSOLUTELY gorgeous weather in Virginia! It was warm, breezy, and full of sunshine.  Hubby had the day off for scheduled maintenance- i.e. physical therapy on his ankle.  I had the day extended... by picking up extra hours of!  With a to-do list a mile long I made it home ready to tackle the home to dos- PLEASANTLY surprised they had already been tackled!  Chores were scratched off the list and I never had to lift a finger- win win!!!  To top it off dinner was about 20 minutes from being finished and I was sent to the couch to chill out for a few! Part of an awesome marriage is knowing when you need to kick it up a notch so your partner can unwind.  My better half has this skill locked on!

Dinner was Beef Stir Fry over Brown Rice.
beef (we used the stir fry strips from the meat section of the grocery store)
1 cup diced onion
1 green pepper sliced into skinny strips
1/2 cup green peas
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger-we did not have any fresh on hand
3 Tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
splash of sherry
fresh cracked black pepper

Mix together honey, soy sauce, sherry, and chili sauce.  Set aside.  On the stove saute onion, garlic, and ginger for about 30 seconds in a tsp of oil. Add peas and peppers and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add in sauce and mix until coated. Remove veggies from pan. Cook beef for 3-5 minutes- crack black pepper over beef. Steve added a ton of pepper- which was perfect for us, but may not suite everyone's taste. Add sauce and veggies mixture in with beef, and mix together.  Serve over brown rice and enjoy. (we also garnished with a quickly sauteed cherry tomato)

We've made more than our fair share of MUSHY brown rice. The dogs have eaten their fair share of unwanted, unusable brown rice. We have had many a kitchen curse word uttered after waiting 45 minutes for rice and having the end result being dog food! Enter GOOGLE... google saved us from our mushy rice!  The original post was found on, however I read repeated re-postings and decided to give it a go.  A few of the posts suggested using less water- which we did, and covering the pot with foil before replacing the lid for the last 10 minutes of steaming- which we also did.  The result was AWESOME brown rice- sans mush!
Here are the 'how to's' thanks to Saveur!

Rinse 1 cup of brown rice for 30 seconds under cold water.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the rice and boil uncovered for 30 minutes.
Drain rice for 10 seconds.
Place rice back in pan, cover with foil, and replace lid for 10 minutes.
Fluff with fork- and revel in the fluffiness....

Enjoy the weekend!