Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dutch vs The Ducks

We love our house and we love the atmosphere that comes with it. We love that our house backs-up to a creek...until recently. We have never had issues with Dutch and the creek (except we had a small episode the first day we brought him home) but that was 3 years ago. This summer however is a different story. Dutch has discovered the ducks...

Brian and I have spent lots of hours now yelling at Dutch while he romps and plays up and down the creek chasing ducks. He has no idea how to catch a duck and I must say it is hilarious watching him make the fearless attempt over and over again, of course being unsuccessful. If you have never watched a duck be "hunted" in the water, they swim away as they are being chased and right when the "hunter" (a.k.a. Dutch) goes for the attack, they dive under the water so the "hunter" (a.k.a. Dutch) has no idea where they went. They end up coming out of the water at the complete other end of the creek and the process starts all over again. Dutch sprinting after the duck, finally catching up to it, then swimming behind it, then diving for it, and then being left dumbfounded by the duck's disappearance. Also, 10 minutes in to the chase, he is panting from exerting so much energy, however he is completely clueless that he doesn't have the stamina to continue chasing duck after duck. It is quite humorous most of the time, however I am getting extremely tired of this process. This happened twice today. Dutch can no longer be trusted to be outside with us...I am convinced he will take off into the creek.

Also, Dutch apparently goes deaf when he goes into "duck chasing" mode. It is like Brian and I don't even exist. When Brian and I realize that our yelling is not going to be enough, Brian goes to the garage...puts on his waders...heads into the creek...and pulls Dutch out of the water. Dutch of course is soaking wet, so he then gets to spend some time tied to the pole outside in order to dry off.

You think Dutch would learn...the ducks are going to win every time.

New Staple Side Dish...Pureed Cauliflower with Goat Cheese

Where has the time gone? I realized today that it is September 19th. I swear just the other day it was July...what happened? I was making my way through a blistering summer, and unfortunately I am still making my way through the blistering heat. I am totally ready for Fall and I hope it stays for a while. I am ready for cooler weather, but nothing that requires a coat. Just nice, cool weather that can be enjoyed without sweating your make-up off, without having flat hair, without having to think about which outfit won't stick to my sweltering skin, and without wanting to jump into an ice bath after every moment I spend outside. It's hot out there people...

I also realized today that I have been on the road for 5 weeks since July, so that is where my time has has literally flown by.

Anyway, on to more interesting things. With all my time on the road, I have definitely gone on a binge fest, eating whatever I want whenever I want. (By the way, that is one of the problems with traveling for constantly eat...all day every day. I still don't really know why.) So that means, when I am home I gotta be more aware. Since we are spending our Saturdays tailgating, and Friday nights are spent having a Mexican feast at our favorite spot, that leaves about 5 days to be more conscious of what we eat...which actually means that if I aim for 5 then I might do 3...

Tonight we had Bison Tenderloin with a Shallot Marmalade, Sauteed Garlic Spinach, and Pureed Cauliflower with Goat Cheese. Unfortunately, the battery in the camera was dead tonight when I went to take a picture of this feast, which believe it or not was healthy. (At least to me since our typical Sunday night meals are packed full of unhealthiness...)

I really want to emphasize how AH-MAZING the pureed cauliflower was. Please try it the next time you want something different. I was leaning towards grits, polenta, mashed potatoes, and all the other usual suspects for something rich and creamy to go with our filets, however I really didn't want a high calorie dinner. Bison by the way is great for you. Our 8oz filets had only 4.8 grams of fat, 50 grams of protein and only 260 calories.

Pureed Cauliflower with Goat Cheese (recipe by me)
1 head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 oz goat cheese, cut into small pieces or crumbled
Salt and Pepper to taste

Simply core the cauliflower and cut into florets. Place a steamer basket over boiling water and steam the cauliflower with the smashed garlic until tender and done, about 12-15 minutes. Once the cauliflower is cooked through, place them in a food processor and add the buttermilk, butter, olive oil, goat cheese, and salt & pepper to taste. Puree the mixture until the cauliflower is completely smooth and all the ingredients are well incorporated. If the mixture is too think, add a little more buttermilk. Taste the mixture for appropriate seasoning and serve hot.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Roasted Shrimp with Orzo and Feta

The other night I tried this recipe for dinner. It was one of the last nights of the dead heat of summer (so I think as of right now) and I thought we needed a nice cool summer dinner. I stumbled across this recipe from Ina Garten and was quite impressed with the way it turned out. I even spent some extra time peeling and deveining the shrimp because I still can't understand why it is so much more expensive to buy them this way at the store. For my 2 lbs of shrimp I could have spent an extra $15 to be lazy...tempting, but ridiculous. Anyway, this recipe for dinner was great, but what I really want to suggest for this recipe is to pack this goodness in your lunchbox. We were too hungry to wait the the suggested hour at the end and I didn't plan ahead to refrigerate it overnight, so it is fair to say that it's our own fault we weren't wowed the first night. Pleased, but not wowed. The next morning I packed up some leftovers and took it to work the to enjoy for lunch, and enjoy did I. It was fabulous. The flavors had really come together and I was super glad I had made such a big batch so I could enjoy it all week. I think it will definitely become a lunchbox staple. I served mine with some toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo (recipe by Ina Garten) Serves 6
kosher salt
good olive oil
3/4 lb orzo
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 lb good feta cheese, large diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!

Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I am about to share one of my most favorite cookie recipes. Nothing fancy, nothing gourmet. Just a good recipe for your back pocket when you need to take cookies somewhere or even just curl up on the couch with glass of milk. I have always loved both oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip cookies and when I am buying cookies, I always have a hard time deciding between the 2...this recipe brings my 2 loves together.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (recipe from All Recipes)
Yields 3 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts (sometimes I use pecans)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beef Burgers with Green Chile Salsa, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Okay, don't be bored with burgers yet. There may be several more coming your way. Sunday night has become burger night at our house. I don't know what it is lately that has led us to want burgers, burgers, and more burgers. We have craved them for the past few weeks and I anticipate that this will continue for awhile. Kinda like our pizza craze a while back...

Tonight, the 2 of us enjoyed green chile salsa burgers with goat cheese and caramelized onions. You may not remember, but I brought this burger to you last year. I didn't have a picture then...but I do now!

This burger is awesome. It is so perfectly balanced in all aspects of flavor. Last year, we made the salsa with hatch green chiles, which I must say is slightly better than our improvised version today. When we headed to Central Market this morning, we thought it was the season again for these amazing chiles. I may need to start doing my research before heading to the store because we quickly discovered we were wrong and we were a few weeks premature on collecting a bag full of the green greatness. thought out menu for the week, centering around Hatch Chiles, wasn't going to, what to do when my heart was set on Hatch Chiles? I had to improvise by buying Poblano's and Anaheim's.

Once our patties were cooking we smeared some amazing local goat cheese on the top while they had just a few minutes remaining. We also added some caramelized onions before topping each burger with the star of the show...the Green Chile Salsa.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A girl can never have too much bakeware

Is it too early to start a Christmas list? Aren't these bowls and Cassoulet adorable? All I am thinking of right now is how wonderful it would be to eat chili, stew or a gratin out of these, preferably curled up on the couch with my fuzzy winter socks on. With it being a blistering 105 degrees outside lately, this gift definitely seems a little premature, but such a perfect gift for me come December!


I just hope they look this amazing in person.

Party Time

Well, the party was a huge success. We had so much fun with all of our close friends and family. So much fun that we are actually still recovering. I realized once again how exhausting it is to entertain. Well worth all the time and energy, but geez, it's tiring. I love it though. It was so fun and all of the details paid off. Brian had a blast which was of course the main goal. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take many pictures and these don't really do the party scene justice, but I guess it helps provide some sort of a visual. Why I didn't find the time to take a picture of the large lanterns in the backyard that I spent hours hanging or take a picture of me and the birthday boy before the party started is beyond me... I was in hostess mode and not good wife preserving a memory mode. Honey...please forgive me.

Stocked bar with an amazing Peach Sangria.

My prized dessert table. After all the decorating, cleaning, preparing, running errands, and stocking the bar, 3 homemade desserts was all I could crank out. I resorted to having the food catered by Pappasito's, so we were all able to enjoy some great fajitas. Here are my Triple Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies, Brian's Birthday German Chocolate Cake, and some OMG Good Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies. The cookies post is coming, and they are totally going to be a staple for you! The girl's at work greatly appreciated some of the leftovers...

Lame partial view of the backyard. You can't see the light posts, the lanterns, the personally and artfully created birthday sign that was hung...Ridiculous.

P.S. I should be able to blog more often now that Brian has his new birthday gift from me. We can now both sit on the couch together...him on his iPad and me on my MacBook Pro lovin' life.