family dinner

It’s not often that I cook dinner for my parents ~ this is mostly because until recently, I very rarely cooked.  But today, my parents, and my mom’s brother and sister both came to our humble abode, and we enjoyed watching the final nail-biting moments of the PGA tournament, and I fed everyone, all by my onesies.

We had chicken (cubed, sprinked with paprika, stuffed into a greased glass dish, and popped in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 … my rule of thumb is that when the juices run clear, the chicken’s cooked ~and I let it sit for a little before serving it, to make sure it stays as juicy as possible…), sausage (popped into oven at 375 for 25 minutes), curry dipping sauce, mandarin orange salad, and pull apart bread.

 

Mandarin Orange Salad Ingredients:

1/2 bag of baby spinach

1/2 bag arugula

1/2 cup parmesan

1/4 cup EVOO

1 tbsp lemon juice

3/4 cup drained mandarin oranges

1/4 cup crunchy chow mein noodles

1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

What to do:

1.  Put the lettuces in a bowl.  Sprinkle parmesan, olive oil and lemon juice on top.  Mix.

2.  Add oranges, feta cheese and chow mein noodles.  Toss. Serve.

Simple, right? 🙂

Pull-Apart Bread Ingredients:

1 package Grands biscuits (Pillsbury, or generic ~ it doesn’t matter); cut into quarters

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/4 cup melted butter

What to do:

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a large bread pan.

2.  Dip each quarter of biscuit in butter, and roll (somewhat sparingly) in parmesan.  Push all pieces into the base of the bread pan.

**I find doing one layer ends up producing the most evenly cooked loaf of ‘bread’ … but if you want to get crazy, you can do two layers!

3.  Cook for 18-20 minutes.  Should be golden brown on top.  If not, cook until the top starts to brown, pull out of oven, and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

It was a truly great dinner, rounded out by Cheesecake Stuffed Stawberries.  Yummers.

 

driving in the country

our favorite part of the ride

This afternoon we are heading south again, to have dinner with my uncle, recently arrived from the UK.  My mother, one of the best cooks ever, has promised succulent lamb chops on the grill, fresh grilled garden tomatoes topped with goat cheese (one of John’s favorite side dishes) and some baby new potatoes.

We’re gonna hit the road soon, and I’m hoping to get some good snaps of the Southern Chester County countryside to share with everyone.

The weather seems practically perfect (again!) and even though the Steelers managed to lose their first pre-season game, I’m looking forward to a nice weekend with the man and the family, and Jorge Dos.

Driving …

it sort of makes me want to ride a bike ... sort of

Dinner …

Thickly sliced garden tomatoes, spread evenly on an aluminum foil lined tray, topped with salt, pepper, basil (dried or fresh, if you prefer) crumbly goat cheese and balsamic syrup (reduction).  Cooked in the oven at 375 for about seven minutes.  Yum.

Thick-cut lamb chops from the Country Butcher, seasoned with a little pepper, garlic powder and Worcestershire Sauce, cooked expertly on the grill by the GrillMaster himself, my dad.

 

 

 

 

Dinner is served  ….My delicious plate  …

and so it goes

Fridays are always tough.

You don’t really wanna get out of bed (similar to other mornings, but somewhat more intense), you really want to enjoy the gorgeous weather (which, after shlepping blocks and blocks on end seems more torturous than rewarding), and the idea of the upcoming season (in this case, autumn/fall, my most favoritest season of all) is nearly unbearable due to the anticipati0n …..

So what did we do?

We combatted it by hitting up some great Philly Happy Hours (okay, technically just one because I read the page wrong).

First, I had a glass of Prosecco, and John had the most delicious Douro (DOURO “ESTEVA,” CASA FERREIRINHA, ’09 [Douro, Portugal] ~ dried red currant fruit meets earth, spice and leather from old-school Douro pioneer) at Tria, a truly great wine and tapas bar in Philadelphia.

Then, we headed over to Sampan, Michael Schulson’s Philly hangout, which serves some of the best finger foods ever, in addition to having a rockstar happy hour.  I love going to Sampan because it’s always a good time.

To round things out, we hit up my restaurant, for whom I have a deep, deep love, and we enjoyed their special pizza (ps. who doesn’t LOVE pizza?!?).   I’m super proud of my whole staff for stepping up and making sure to get things done.  You guys are rockstars (and many of you are way better cooks than me!).

On the way home, while the man caught some zzzz’s, I listened to straight up girl music (Linda Perry & Four Non-Blonds singing “What’s Up?” doesn’t get much girlier … ’til Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” came on ….)

I promise a recipe soon.  I hope it’s a good one, because if it’s not, I’ll be disappointed. As John likes to say, his stomach hasn’t been happier since I started the blog, because it means new recipes and new food on a regular basis.  So far, we’ve had some great triumphs, and only a few failures (Angel food cake  … and from the box, nonetheless!).

Ce la vie, I say, and wish you as happy and content a Friday as I experienced.

 

 

for minda

Dear Readers,

I would like to amend my post from last evening for the sake of my very dear friend.  She has a huge pet peeve about this, and technically, she’s right, so please let me amend as such:

John covered the cookie tray with ALUMINUM FOIL.  🙂

Tin and aluminum have totally different properties (side-note: what was not my strongest subject in high-school? answer … chemistry).  Most importantly, density and specific heat, which allows a person to touch aluminum when it comes out of the *very hot* oven; tin would not exhibit the same properties (and one would most likely burn oneself upon touching it).

So, for Minda on her 4th wedding anniversary.

1.  I love ya.  And your hubby.  Happy Quatro Anos.  Big <3hearts <3 always.

2. I will continue to make a concerted effort to call it aluminum foil, because that’s what it is.  (I will, on occasion, fail.  Please be patient!).

3.  But even if I forget, I will amend it, and tell you I love ya.

Good friends are amazing to find.  Through thick and thin, good and bad, all that blah blah jazz … Minda has been a great friend.  So, despite receiving a text message about my grievous error concerning aluminum and tin at the lowest point of my day, when I was feeling as though possibly, I couldn’t get anything right – she was a total gem and explained (again, I confess) the error of my ways.

Happy Anniversary Minda.

With love always,

gwyn

#10on10

This morning, while we were driving to work, I saw the MOST amazing license plate ever.  It was my initials, followed by the year I was born.  I have a very (I can’t believe I’m actually writing this) weird fascination with finding patterns in license plates.  I blame this on my parents, who used to have us play the ‘license plate game’ on our 12-14 hour drive to Hilton Head every summer.  Taking all this into consideration, IMAGINE the epic levels of excitement I felt (at the very early hour of 7.23am) when finding a license plate that perfectly represented me.  (Later, the very same pic of the license made its debut as my #1 picture on my very first #10on10. )

Intense.

Additionally, I knew it was Wednesday.  And as we all know, the best part about Wednesday is that when it’s over, there is less week left to go than has already been done.  PLUS (I know, it’s amazing how much better it seems to get) it was WeHangsDay today.

John made his famous Tuna Melts.  (I’m addicted). 

PS.  Can I just add how nice it is to have him home? So nice!

What he used:

4 tins tuna fish in water

Mayonnaise

Frank’s Red Hot

Salt & Pepper

Hickory Smoke Salt (optional)

Oregano

4 English Muffins

16 slices of Deli Style White American Cheese

Two large tomatoes, sliced (eight slices minimum)

What the man did:

Preheat oven to 350.

1.  In a large mixing bowl, he mixed the tuna fish, two heaping dollops of mayonnaise, a generous shake of Frank’s red hot, salt & pepper to taste.  

2.  He toasted the English muffins after splitting (just to break it down, we’re dealing with 8 individual muffins ~ 4 tops, 4 bottoms). 

3.  He lined a cookie sheet with tin foil, and placed the eight toasted muffins on the sheet.  Then, he put a slice of cheese on each (he split a single sheet into four, and quasi-layered them to fit the muffins).  

4.  On top of the cheese, he placed a slice of tomato and sprinkled a little Hickory Smoke Salt.  (Be sparing ~ Hickory Smoke Salt is very strong!)

5. (My shining moment!) I sculpted perfect little mounds of tuna fish atop the tomatoes, and sprinkled some oregano on each.

6.  Then I topped each with another slice of cheese, and popped the whole tray into the oven for about 5 minutes (to melt the cheese, basically).  

7.  While I was working so diligently with the tunafish and cheese, John was contructing our side dish of a bed of baby spinach, a dollop of cottage cheese, a few mandarin oranges and chow mein crunchy noodles.  Delish.

Simple, delicious.  Easy.

i prefer granny smiths, but a macintosh will do

Whew!  It has been a crazy few days.

Actually, if I’m gonna own up to it, it’s been a crazy few weeks.  The truth of the matter is, I started this blog because I had an abundance of time that was referred to politely as ‘idle,’ but in reality was me being completely unproductive.  Currently, I have no free time, and spend from about 6am until 11pm going going going non-stop.  (On the plus side, I have the good camera back … not that I’ve put it to much use these past few days).

Have you ever heard the theory that the busier you are, the more efficiently you accomplish things?  I strongly believe in this.  When I’m forced into using time management skills, and prioritizing, a lot of things get done in a very orderly fashion.  When I have tons of time on my hands … a lot of movies get watched.  (I know, I know, I don’t even read books … I’m the most unproductive lazy person in the world!)

Right now, I’m sitting in my newest office, watching what appears to be the beginning of a hurricane brewing outside my window (I have a window!!) and thinking how very sad it is that my iPhone has been tricky since Thursday when it spontaneously decided to start monotonously vibrating and not respond to anything (a teenager fixed it, because really, isn’t that the way of electronics? There was a time when I was pretty handy with a Walkman … and now most people look a little lost and repeat back, “Walkman?” Pause. “Oh, yeah, that portable cassette tape player-thingy … wow, it’s been a long time since those were popular!”).  Because now it won’t even receive calls, and that means I have to walk over to the Apple store and wait the obligatory 45 minutes (because apparently Apple is busy every. day. all. day.) for them to tell me what’s wrong.  (I’m already composing my little prayer, which goes something like this:  “Dear iPhone and Apple Gods, please let whatever is wrong with my phone be easily fixable,  please do not require me to erase everything on my phone and try to reset it online because the last time I did that I crashed my phone and lost all my contacts and it was a disaster (pausing to catch breath) and please let my phone continue on its course toward a long and healthy life, because I deeply love everything about it … except this most recent episode.  Amen.”).

Anyway, back to the point.

I have become very efficient these last few weeks, because my work load went from manageable albeit somewhat tedious, to “I’m drowning in paperwork and the abundance of things I don’t know how to do and don’t have any help to get accomplished.” I will say I’m learning quite a lot, but I’m also working non-stop to try to get the business I now run back up on its (financial) feet, and it’s proving to be less like a hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro and more like extreme rock climbing in the Pyrenees.  Every day there is a new job duty, and every time I turn around I’m being volunteered to do more work.  I don’t mind much, because running a business certainly gives you a feeling of ownership and commitment that I didn’t have before ~ but boy oh boy is it a. time-consuming and b. hard effin work.

Tomorrow the man and I host WeHangsDay together for the first time in a month, and I have absolutely. no. idea. what. to. make. (No worries on vino though ~ the wine rack is fully stocked!).

But I can promise you this.  I won’t repeat something I’ve done recently.  I will get that camera out and snap some pictures, and I’ll let you know exactly how I conquered another kitchen challenge.

Until then, me, my (non-working) iPhone and my piles of work are going to retreat under the rock we’ve been hiding beneath recently, and buckle down to get some work done.  Yee-haw cowboys!  Giddy-up!

 

the eagle has landed

Folks.  It’s been a long couple weeks since the man has been gone.  Luckily, fate did not deign to intervene again, and he will be touching down in the City of Brotherly Love imminently.

Since I rushed home from work to walk straight over to an open house at my neighbors (where I promptly devoured two of the best burritos I have ever had), and I am just now frantically getting the house all dolled up for the man’s arrival home, I thought I’d share a couple fun G & J facts.

1.  To us, football can almost seem like a religion.  We schedule Sundays in the fall around the Steelers & the Giants game times.  We tailgate for Penn State like it’s a mission.

2.  We are both crazy obsessed with Christmas.  Every year, we commit to expanding our Christmas movie & decoration collection.  Currently, we have three Nativities.

3.  Otherwise, we are about as opposite as you can get.

4.  Once a year, we have a Lord of the Rings weekend marathon, and we watch all three extended movies.

5.  When we met, we were both (me more-so, I believe) convinced we’d met somewhere before.

6.  I can remember the date of every important event in our relationship.  I like dates.

7.  I’m older than John by a year, six months and fourteen days.  (I like numbers).

8.  John taught me how to play chess, and it’s my goal in life to beat him.  Check this space in about five years.

9.  We’ve never gone on a single vacation just the two of us.  The closest we got to going on a vacation together was a trip to Williamsburg, VA for my 30th birthday with my family.  My brother & John bonded that trip.  It will forever live in infamy.

10.  John needs much less sleep than me.  Therefore, it’s better if I’m the one whose time zone is behind.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case this trip. 🙁

 

Until tomorrow, happy Thirsty Thursday!

miercoles

Yes, it’s true.  I am plum out of ideas for today’s blog post.  I spent nearly twelve hours working, I’m still in dress clothing (it’s 10.55p east coast time) and it’s pouring outside.

I did have an excellent meal with J & J for WeHangsDay (broccoli cheddar Stromboli, cherry tomatoes skewered on a toothpick with basil, mozzarella and prosciutto, asparagus wrapped elegantly in prosciutto as well and both grilled lightly, and one of my most favorite side dishes of all time ~ mashed cauliflower.  PS.  No one makes it like Jess.

I didn’t get the recipe this time, but I will post it sometime, because I kept eating it tonight, well after my tummy said ~ “We’re full!!”

It’s the eve of the man’s return, and my ‘to do’ list is a mile long (helped in part by my very lengthy work days of late).  So I thought I’d share another month’s worth of wine, drunk personally by myself and the man.  It’s short, but sweet.

Enjoy!

May 2010

i.  Pillar Box Red

2007 Padthaway Australia

14.7%

Blend: Shiraz 65%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, Merlot 10%

Notes/Comments: Full, round, flavorful ~ juicy berry flavors, spicy, smooth. Very bold.

Grade: B+

(We actually went to other liquor stores besides the one near our home to purchase multiple bottles of this.  We drank a lot of Pillar Box Red 2007  in May.  And June!)

 

ii. Cabernet Sauvignon; Genesis by Hogue Cellars

2006 Columbia Valley, Washington

14.3%

Notes/Comments: Bright berry & cherry flavors, touches of clove, cinnamon & cocoa. Stinky cheese nose, full/well-rounded Cab.

Grade: B

 

That’s all folks! (Told ya we drank a lot of Pillar Box Red!)

dos meses

I am having a very nice glass of wine to celebrate two months ~ yes, eight whole weeks! ~ of this blog, and me sending my inner monologue out into the void of the Internet.

I indulged in sushi this evening for the first time since the man’s been gone ~ I completely meant to make a really great recipe with quinoa, salmon and kale, but the draw of raw fish, sticky rice, avocado and spicy mayo was just too strong.  Keep watching this space!  It’s coming!

Upon my arrival home, I posed this question ~ Wine: terribly wonderful, or wonderfully terrible?  At first, it seems a given, but  … can one be totally sure?  I’d pontificate, but I’m actually ready for bed before 1am, and the allure of sinking into my comfy sheets and drifting off to dreamland for longer than five hours is so tempting, I have to scurry off to bed immediately ~ before the feeling passes!

One thought before I wrap this up and drift into much needed slumber ….

If wine is indeed the nectar of the Gods … do they use it amongst men for good … or evil?  (I’m not supposing anything religiously ~ just using the mythology of the pantheon of gods ~ wondering how Dionysus/Bacchus – you may choose your poison … Greek or Roman  – wielded his power when he was one of the kings …).

Best. Sammie. Ever.

Seriously, stop the presses.

A miracle occurred tonight (!!!) ~ and in the face of my blatantly not forwarding a chain email that guaranteed me terrible misfortunes if I didn’t share with 10 of my closest friends to boot!  Whoo hoo! 

Fresh loaf of pane!

So here’s the thing.  When cooking for uno (which I’ve been doing for the past few weeks), a person can accumulate a lot of material for repeat meals.  I mean, let’s be honest.  You can’t buy half a loaf of bread.  And for someone who doesn’t eat a lot of bread (add it to my list of ‘weird food quirks’) a whole loaf can be daunting.  And usually ends up in the garbage, half-finished, and growing a lovely variation of mold.

Last week I had a down week.  Every day felt like a huge struggle ~ always climbing up a hill, with the wind blowing full force in my face (it’s that story your parents tell you as a child … you know, how they walked to school up hill, both ways, with no shoes, in four feet of snow … blah blah bleh!).  So to combat that, I had people over or went out every night of the week.  It turned out to be a good week (other than work, which is a learning experience every day, but an exciting one).

I made a much better version of the South African Green Curry.  It was a doozy.  I finished it for lunch today, and was bummed out!

I made Plum, Pesto & Fontina panini sandwiches.  Twice, if I’m confessing my sins.  I tend to be that person who falls in love with something and then drowns in it.  Nothing was quite as satisfying as last night’s re-indulgence of that succulently decadent sammie.  (Yeah, I call them sammies.  I like it.  So there.)

But I couldn’t quite justify making the sandwich again tonight.  I mean, I wanted to, but I had all these garden fresh tomatoes speaking to me from my produce bowl on my kitchen table.  A girl can’t waste perfectly perfect garden fresh tomatoes.

An an heirloom?  That’s a sin.  For real.  There’s otherworldly judgement for that, I’m sure.

But the sandwich press was still out, and speaking to me (perhaps it’s all my time alone?).  I thought to myself, why not just use up all the little dribs and drabs and scraps and make a Monday sammie.

Feed me, Seymour!

Oh Monday sammie.  You are a goddess.

Here’s what I used~

2 slices of sun-dried tomato bread, buttered on the outside

Homemade pesto, a la Iowa Girl Eats, spread on the inside of bread

Medium heirloom tomato, thickly sliced (About 4 slices)

Fresh mozzarella, sliced ( I used 5 slices; 3 for the sandwich, 2 for the Caprese)

Asiago cheese, sliced  ( I used 3 nearly shaved slices)

Salt & Pepper

What I did ~

I layered the tomato on top of the pesto, and the mozzarella on top of that, and then the asiago shavings on top of that.  Then I ground some salt & pepper, and put the whole shebang together, and on the sandwich press. 

With the extra tomato & mozzarella, I assembled a Caprese side salad, with a wee drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of S & P.

I cooked the sandwich until it started to sizzle.  Then I got myself all set up with knife & fork & napkin & vino (obv!).  And then I took a bite.

And my world stood still.

And I tweeted about it, because everyone (well, y’know the people who follow me) needed to know.

I sent John a message taunting him with the deliciousness he is missing while he is a away.

I contemplated making another sandwich, because it was so unbelievable.  But I wasn’t hungry (truth be told, I was stuffed). 

All I’m saying is, this thing was magical.

I’m definitely making my Monday Sammie again!

** PS. I took so many pictures, but I’m using my old camera, because the man took the good one with him on his business trip ~ I’m trying my darnedest to get some decent images!  Most of them come out blurry, and not focused on the close up shots.  Super disappointing … but at least the insanity of the sammie made up for it!