With as little time as I’m spending blogging, reading, shopping, and sleeping, you’d imagine I don’t have much time for Someone, either, and you’d be right. Someone has been the most supportive person — accepting squeezed in dates here and there with a distracted, disheveled, and 100% sleep-deprived girlfriend with graciousness and a smile every time. Someone is pretty wonderful, indeed.
So, in fitting with the “rushed date” theme, Someone whisked me away in the pouring, pouring rain to the PA/MD border where his family owns a ski resort condo. Although the resort was obviously snowless, it wasn’t without cold, dreary rain and the bonus side effect of coziness.
We watched Homeland, How I Met Your Mother, The Good Wife. We did 746 pieces worth of puzzle (some token missing vacation home pieces).
I kicked Someone’s butt at Boggle and made a red wine and beef stew that filled the “cabin” with such delicious smells I thought we both might die and go to heaven.
We put our PJ pants on as soon as we arrived and never left the fireside.
We talked, reconnected, were silent together, and laughed. We watched Before Sunset and fell in love with Jesse and Celine all over again. And before we knew it, somehow, it was time to go back to reality. (But not before stopping at Red Robin, which has incredible gluten-free offerings for us celiac folk!)
So even though it was short, it was sweet. I highly recommend a weekend of doing absolutely nothing with someone you care about. It seems quite difficult to do this when you’re in your own home, where the things to do pile up around you and you can’t seem to ever just spend that lazy day on the couch that you always dream of doing. Sometimes it takes traveling a little farther away from reality to get the escapism you desperately require.
This past weekend was a real treat: I took an exam early in order to free up some time, since I needed all the time possible to spend with my mom, best friend, and her mom! It was our biannual Women of the Vine weekend. Last time we drove away the March/winter blues with a Broadway Show and this time we convened in our nation’s capital to see all the monuments and visit all the national museums!
Just kidding, said Congress—-no monuments or museums for you. Also, the weather gods ordered up some fierce heat for us, too: we sweated our butts off outside at Eastern Market on Saturday.
Which is not to say that we didn’t find things to do…
But it was a bit of a bummer to have tourists and not be able to, well, tour.
The four of us had a grand old time, and we can’t wait until the next time we women of the vine get together. It’s always full of laughter, drinking, chatting in hotel beds and eating candy, and fun.
I don’t know why I call them squarshes, but I do. The “r” just adds a little something extra. Someone accused me of making him “gourds for dinner,” so I punished him by taking the squarsh with more pecan butter on it.
Acorn squash is delicious on its own, or with just a touch of brown sugar, but if you want something a bit fancier, this is a nice addition to the “gourd.”
This recipe is for four halves, so if you want just one squash for two people, divide it in half! Modified from Pillsbury.
- 2 acorn squash, cut in half
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
- Cut the squash in half and place them cut side down in about 1/4 inch of water in a baking dish lined with foil. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until they start to get soft.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and combine the remaining ingredients, stirring frequently, until the sugar melts.
- Remove the squash from oven and flip the squash over so they are cut side up, and distribute the pecan butter evenly among the halves. Cook for a remaining 10-15 minutes or until the sides of the squash are very soft and tender.
Apple crisp is so awesome. It’s like the lazy-person delicious dish. It takes no longer than 15 minutes to throw together and 50 to bake — and then your house smells ohmygerdamazing, and all the neighbors get jealous because yes, the windows were open all day, and they smelled bacon this morning and now this.
Living the life over here. Procrastinating by way of food preparation — there are worse things.
Peel and thinly slice about 4 apples that are described as “Good for baking!” (Macintosh, Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn). I like Honeycrisp apples and Pink Ladies for eating, but not really for baking, but that’s just me. Place them in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam or greased with butter. I add a splash of orange juice and a splash of lemon juice and give them a little stir.
- 1/2 cup gluten free flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (more if you want a sweeter dish)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup rolled quick-cook oats
- 1/3 cup salted butter, diced (cold)
Add topping ingredients to a medium bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender. Sprinkle evenly over the apples in the pain. Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes or until the apples are soft and everything else is bubbly and delicious looking.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, duh.
Someone says: “This isn’t just satisfying, it’s tantalizing.”
I don’t quite know what that means, but I can tell you that this dish is SUPER good. The flavors are so complex—it’s meaty, bright, rich, and deeply flavorful.
I modified this from Cooking Light.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 links mushroom and herb chicken sausage, chopped
- 1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms, sliced (also known as baby bella)
- 1 box porcini mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes in 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 1 cup of warm water (save the liquid!!)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup of the mushroom (wine-water) liquid, above
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt and black pepper
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup corn meal / polenta
- 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Soak the porcini mushrooms in the wine and warm water in a medium-sized bowl for about 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are plump and fluffy. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook for 3 minutes or until the sausage gets crispy-ish. (Such technical instructions — that’s why you come here, right?)
Remove the mushrooms from the liquid (but save the liquid) and chop the mushrooms. Add garlic and both types of mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and have released lots of juice and look all mushroomy. Add thyme leaves and salt and pepper, the lemon juice, and the mushroom liquid. (It’s OK to throw the rest of it away now.) Turn heat to medium for about 5 minutes, then to low and keep warm.
Meanwhile, bring the milk and chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring very frequently to prevent the milk from doing that gross thing on the bottom of the pan as it heats. When it boils, add the polenta and whisk constantly for about 6-8 minutes, or until thick. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper; whisk.
Serve the polenta in a bowl and top with mushrooms. I served this with sautéed spinach, which was a very complementary side. It tasted SO good, like comfort in a bowl. You could omit the sausage and use vegetable stock if you wanted a vegetarian dish!
Someone is nerdy. Did I mention that? Not that I’m not, of course. I’m a huge nerd. And one of the reasons I love Someone is that he reminds me how much more nerdy I could really be!
One of the things that Someone started saying very early on into our relationship was that he wanted to go to the Renaissance Festival with me. Of course, I balked at this for two months until we decided to trade an Eagles game viewing experience and a shopping trip for an afternoon at the “Renn Fest.” Good deal for me, right??
I actually had a really great time. The weather was gorge and the company was a joy, so we just walked around looking at everyone and trying not to make obvious facial expressions and attempting to mask our laughter. We saw dueling fools, threw metal throwing stars at a wall, ate turkey legs, and watched a joust.
Someone drank mead, I had hard cider, and we listened to little singers and crazy people. I avoided the people “in character” who liked to harass, and only saw two almost-nip-slips out of wench corsets. (Gross.)
Have you ever been to such a weird collection of things, people, costumes, and sights??
As I’m writing this, I’m realizing just how weird it is that this little drink concoction is called a “smoothie.” It’s kind of funny, right? It seems like it should be called a yogurtshake or blendie.
ANYWAY. I suggest you consider the smoothie. It’s always one of those things that I think is going to be a lot of work, but it’s really not. And you might already have lots of the ingredients on hand anyway! I’ve been featuring the smoothie lately as part of my post-workout or mid-hangover routine. It’s quite effective.
There are three things that pull together nearly every smoothie: orange juice, vanilla yogurt, and half a banana.
Three thoughts: 1. Pulpy orange juice would be wonderful in a smoothie since I don’t really LIKE pulp, generally, but that is forgiven because I’m also drinking other little fruit bits. 2. Put in more than half a banana and no matter what else is in the blender, you will be drinking a banana smoothie. They get a little full of themselves and overpower other fruits. 3. I don’t think Greek yogurt tastes good in a smoothie, but maybe you do, so go for it!
My favorite smoothie only has one other ingredient to the three above: strawberries. Preferably fresh, but frozen are a perfectly adequate and often less-expensive option. Other options include pineapple, mango, berry medley, peaches, pears, etc. The list goes on. I think you could probably put literally anything into a smoothie and it would taste delicious.
I feel kind of silly for giving a recipe here, since I don’t really follow one, but I guess I do about 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/2 banana, and 3/4 cup fruit. This makes 2 medium smoothies.
Use whatever feature on your blender will get you the best results.
I simply must drink smoothies through a straw to enjoy them fully.
If you’re into this kind of thing, you could also add protein powder. One thing I will say: I tried the pre-made frozen smoothie things that Welch’s and Yoplait are selling, and they are kind of gross. The smoothie you can make yourself will taste on par with if not better than any Robek’s or Red Mango smoothie any day.
Anyone with me in changing the name to blendies? Eh? No?
What is your favorite recipe? Any tricks to share?
For weeks now, I’ve been trying to achieve the perfect apple cinnamon oatmeal, reminiscent of the little Quaker oats instant oatmeal packets I miss so much.
I’d been trying in the microwave with rolled oats, and after trying two varieties of apples, different spice combinations, and pulling out my hair a bit, I finally used the combo of 1/2 cup of apple juice (or cider!) to 1/2 cup of water (with my 1/2 cup oats) and achieved success. (Plus some apple chunks and cinnamon sprinkles.)
And then there’s the steel cut. I first tried these interesting little pellets a few weeks ago, and cooked them on the stove for 30 minutes with apples, cinnamon, and apple cider + water. This was tasty, indeed, but something about stirring for 30 minutes before a shift at the hospital just screams “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
Enter CROCK POT. How wonderful to wake up (via harsh alarm) at 4:45 a.m. and smell apple cinnamony goodness, just for me!
Added bonus: Rolled oats don’t keep me full, but the steel cut oatmeal does. Especially if I combine it with 1 hard-boiled egg —- I might make it a whole four hours before turning into a hangry bitch!
Here’s the recipe for the slow-cooked steel cut oats. You could add whatever toppings and seasonings you wanted, or just make a plain base (sans apple juice, with 3.5 cups water) and add your toppings each morning. The recipe makes about 3-4 servings and keeps very well in tupperware in the fridge; I simply mixed in a little milk as I reheated it for about 2 minutes and it came out perfectly.
- Cooking spray (very important!)
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1.5 cups apple juice
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (if you like your oatmeal sweeter, you can always add more sweet stuff right before eating)
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional, but fun, they get plump and sweet)
- 3/4 cup Granny Smith apples, chopped with skins on (why not get the extra fiber? you can’t taste it and it gets soft anyway!)
Liberally coat the bottom of your slow cooker with cooking spray. (Depending when you wake up, some of the edges might be burnt, but if you spray the sides and bottom, then the burned pieces will just pry right off!) Throw all ingredients into the slow cooker, and turn it on low for 6-7 hours. I found about 7 hours to be perfect, but all slow cookers are different. If you’re unsure, you could make it during the day when you will be around to check on it and turn the crock pot off when it’s finished.
Oatmeal does NOT photograph well, but here’s a happy morning picture anyway.
I think by now, many people have heard the two words “love language” strung together. Some guy made up some sort of quiz to take to find out which of the 5 ways to receive love is your “language” — receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service. I knew about these languages long before needing to use them, and I can honestly say that as nerdy and dorky as it is, this way of viewing love has been useful in my relationship with Someone (and with myself).
The most interesting thing I’ve discovered is that the way that you receive love and the way that you give or show love might not be the same. And until I was in this relationship, I never realized what a little gift-giver I really am. I’m not sure exactly where it comes from (although Christmas at the Sullivan household and the incredible birthday love and feelings and presents might have something to do with it), but I absolutely show love through little gifts. Arguably, it’s difficult to tell a gift from the other languages; I often interpret an act of service or a string of affectionate words as a gift in its own right. But it’s been important to realize that part of making a relationship work isn’t just about showing love in the way you need to show it, it’s about giving love in a way that a partner can receive it. It’s also about not being ashamed or afraid to ask for the kind of love you need. So I need the random, tiny, thoughtful gift every once in a while. I can’t explain why, but I shouldn’t have to.
(This is reminding me very much of that episode of Friends where Joey is going to officiate Monica and Chandler’s wedding and writes the following speech:)
Incidentally, Someone killed it with the tiny gift/act of service today — a surprise picked-up dropped-off take-out meal on a night when I was exhausted from the hospital and about to settle in for 4 hours of post-clinical log writing.
Yeah, I think I’ll keep him.
These aren’t your average, frozen icky childhood-memory fish sticks. These are gourmet.
I’d show you a picture of the fish sticks, but Someone and I ate them too quickly for them to be photographed, and we ate them all. ALL. They were just so freaking good.
- 1 pound cod filets (or more if you’re feeding more than 2 people), cut into little strips
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs or crushed crackers (gluten free, if you’re into that)
- 1/3 cup gluten free flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Oil for frying
Heat about 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Mix the milk and egg together in a small bowl; mix the flour, crackers or bread crumbs, salt, and cayenne pepper in another shallow dish. Take each fish piece and dunk it in the egg mixture, and then toss it into the cracker mixture to coat. Place the fish pieces in the pan and cook about 2-4 minutes per side. Serve with tartar sauce to hungry people to achieve rave reviews.
Incidentally, this is my favorite kind of tartar sauce:
Also, since I ripped you off on your picture of fish sticks, here is a picture of Riggins smiling to make up for it. You’re welcome.