It's Greek to Me

Photo Source: http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=13443 John Belushi John "Bluto" Blutarsky Copyright 1978

Photo Source: http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=13443 John Belushi John "Bluto" Blutarsky Copyright 1978

It's no secret I love a good leftover.  I mean, there are certain foods that just taste better after you've put them in the fridge and the flavors have married and set.  Fried chicken; pizza; spaghetti??  Oh, man.  SO GOOD.  Hot OR cold!  But who wants to eat spaghetti or fried chicken the same way over and over?  In our house, I will make it for dinner, and then again for Adrian's lunch.  So if we ate the same thing as a leftover, he would have it for dinner, for lunch, and for dinner again.  Not the most favorite thing in the world. 

On the other hand, it is also no secret I am extremely frugal.  I cannot stand to throw away anything - ESPECIALLY food.  I grew up with meager means and I know how many hungry people there are in the world.  It's just not okay to throw food away simply because you don't want to eat the same thing too many times in a row.

Sometimes, I will freeze the leftovers if there are a ton.  If I make chili or soup or some kind of pasta meal that goes a long way, I will make Adrian's lunch and then freeze the rest.  We will defrost it and warm it up to eat a week or two later when the shelves are becoming bare and there is no time for a grocery store run.

But a lot of times - I reclaim it.  I know that's not a proper culinary term, but it works for furniture.  When you say you have "reclaimed" wood or furniture, it means it was originally used for one purpose,  but was re-used for another.  And when you use that term, you're using a word that makes hand-me-downs or leftovers sound trendy and relevant.  So in order to make my food that is leftover at home sound trendy and relevant, I call it reclaimed food.

The kids have always teased me about it...although now that they are older, the teasing is more light ribbing with a side of respect and awe at the reclaimed culinary abilities I have honed as a skill in my home.  They've always said, "Mom, you take Italian one night and turn it into Chinese the next!"

Well this time, I made Mexican and turned it into Greek!  SO YUM. 

Our friends, Micah and Ben Hester, came and had dinner with us.  It was a nice little dinner of chicken and cheese quesadillas (made from leftover smoked chicken, by the way!) and Mexican rice.  It was delicious and we followed it by a great game of Cranium (we're pretty sure the guys cheated, but the girls won), a sleepover, and an awesome breakfast.  Lovely time and can't wait to do it again.

But there was quite a bit of chicken and rice leftover.  So I froze it.  A week later, I had no idea what to make for dinner and had no time to run by the grocery store.  I was searching my freezer for something to defrost before I walked out the door for work.  I took out the chicken and rice and noticed I had some phyllo dough in there I had forgotten about, too.  So I thought about that all day, and here's what I came up with:

Mexi-Greek Burrito-kopita

Leftover Mexican rice

Leftover chicken

Pistachios (I had a half uneaten bag so they were leftovers, too!), shelled and chopped coursely

One container feta cheese

Oregano, fresh or dried

Frozen spinach (organic, of course!)

1/2 cup wine

Organic grape or cherry tomatoes

Salt, pepper to taste

Chop the chicken up finely and add to leftover rice.  Add pistachios, oregano, and feta (in this case, I had tomato basil feta in the fridge but any feta will do).  At this point, you can add olives or mushrooms if you like!  Mix together well.  Defrost phyllo dough and gently lay out on counter.  Pull one sheet out at a time, covering the rest until you need each sheet.  Spray the phyllo sheet with cooking spray (I use organic extra virgin olive oil spray) and fold in half length-wise.  Place 1/2 cup of the mixture at the bottom, fold a triangle of phyllo over the mixture and then continue to fold up over and over until the triangle completely uses up the phyllo.  Place your traingles on a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray lightly.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of kosher salt and cracked black pepper on top and baked for fifteen minutes until it was a beautiful, golden brown.

Put two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in pan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, sqeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible and place in heated pan.  Half the tomatoes and toss into pan and add the wine and cook until absorbed by the spinach, about two minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  When heated through, place on plate and top with Mexi-Greek Burrito-kopita.  Top with a dollup of Greek yogurt, if desired.  I did. 

What is sitting on your shelves that you put away and forgot about?  Is it one thing that you can re-purpose for another?  What about the shelves in your heart, full of memories?  What can you re-purpose or reclaim that you can turn into part of the legacy you leave for your kids or the people you love so that in the face of it, they can respect and stand in awe of your ability to do so?  Look around for inspiration and serve it with a nice glass of wine......whether it's your leftover food or your leftover life, it makes a great recipe for success.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

She-ca-go Style

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.   Photo credit to Adrian Garcia.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.  Photo credit to Adrian Garcia.

I don't get it.  I don't get it at ALL.  My husband, Adrian, was born here in Texas.  He lives here in Texas.  He pays taxes here in Texas.  And yet - this man LOVES Chicago...not just loves it - THAT would be fine.  Heck, I love Chicago.  He is ALL Chicago, ALL the time.  He is a Cubs fan before he is an Astros fan.  The Bears run neck-and-neck with the Texans.  Heck, our youngest, Jordan, is named after Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls because he was born on the date of his number, 23!  He says it's because of a television station he would watch after school as he was growing up - WGN.  Apparently, it's all they showed and how he grew to love it.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

We have a friend, Joe Pinzon, who loves Chicago, too.  (He is actually FROM there).  He and Adrian have an affinity for the city AND its teams together.  Cody, Joe's wife, and I - being the loving wives we are - PUT UP WITH IT. :-)

With that being said, Adrian and I decided to host a Chicago Day for Joe & Cody a few months back.  (It gave me an opportunity to create a new menu!)  It was a pretty awesome day, I must admit.  We took Adrian's poster from back in the prehistoric days of yore with some of the past superstars of Chicago on the tablescape, along with a beautiful black and white picture we have of Wrigley Field that was a gift from our friends, Tim & Amanda Pickard.  (Adrian's been to Wrigley several times, but believe me - those are stories for a different post!)  We put out different items to make for Chicago date-day ambiance.  But the best part was yet to come!

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

I made Chicago-style pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and I put out some popcorn in a special bowl to really give a stadium feel. This kind of food is very special, as regional food is a very particular kind of food......you can't mess with it.  That'd be like saying the best Tex-Mex food is in California!  (It's called TEX-Mex for a reason!)

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

For the Chicago-Style Hot Dogs:

All-Beef Frankfurters - the key here is that they MUST BE STEAMED!!  (I used Applegate Farms Organic, because they were good bun-sized hot dogs)

Poppy-Seed Buns (I couldn't find any ANYWHERE so I made my own: I used whole wheat buns and sprayed them with organic olive oil cooking spray, and rolled them in poppy-seeds and then put in a warm oven for five minutes so they kept their soft texture)

Top the dogs with finely chopped white onions, yellow mustard, Piccadilly relish (I couldn't find that, either, so I used sweet pickle relish with some finely chopped mint, which is essential to the "Chicago" flavor, and put a little bit of neon green food coloring in it for effect), a dill pickle spear - but not just ANY dill pickle spear...it has to be FRESH - I used Vlasic refrigerated spears, tomato slices, pickled sports peppers and a dash (or two) of celery salt.

shedogs
These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.   

These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.  

For the Chicago-Style Pizza

Prepared pizza dough (I use the one I typed up in a previous post, "I Heart Leftovers")

Can Chopped Tomatoes

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Pizza Fixins of Your Choice (I made one cheese, one pepperoni, and one supreme)

Medium-Sized Cast Iron Frying Pan

Place pizza dough in cast iron frying pan and mold along the bottom and up the sides.  Fill the inside with your pizza fixins, top with mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle the diced canned tomatoes over the top.  Bake at 425 for approximately 25 minutes.  Let sit and cool for five minutes to set.  Take two large spoons or spatulas, dig around and underneath the pizza pie, and pick up to put on desired presentation plate.

shepizza
These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

Everything was so delicious.  We topped it off with some Budweiser, some home-made lemonade (not together!), and a few odds and ends that made it complete.  We always have such a good time with the Pinzons, but as I recall, this was definitely one of the very best!  We celebrated Cody's birthday that day with some German chocolate cake (it's her favorite) and had the Bears game on TV (of course).

I tease Adrian quite often about his love affair with Chicago...but it's only in fun and because of my love affair with him.  Take the time to make these kind of special days happen.  Life is SO short - make decisions to have your days be as charmed as they can be......you're building the legacy of the memories you keep - and leave behind.

Super Bowl(s)

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

Last weekend, we had the privilege of hanging out with friends and family for one reason or another the entire weekend.  My mother-in-law's birthday party, friends reaching out to us, and a certain famous annually-held football game.  Each place we went, I was pleasantly surprised at the food that was offered to us.  Each one literally had a bowl of wonderful, deliciousness that I HAD to share.  It's no secret I love to cook, but I also love to EAT!  I asked each owner of each super bowl of food I was impressed with to provide me with the recipe so I could pass them along, and here they are (you're welcome!):

To start, our friends Cook and Kim Glover had us over for dinner as a 'thank you' for them staying at our place while some work was done on their house.  No thanks necessary, but if food is the gift of thanks, I'LL TAKE IT!  It was lovely as always to spend time with them and dinner was truly fantastic - you could tell that there was much thought and love put into their stuffed chicken pinwheels, seasoned roasted potatoes, and green beans; but as an appetizer, we had an amazing spinach artichoke dip, which stood out to me for the remainder of the evening.  Remember, this is not meant to be fat-free or incredibly healthy...this was a bowl of gooey, rich, yumminess, and here is the recipe Cook gave me to pass along to you:

BAKED ARTICHOKE SPINACH DIP

Ingredients

2 cups canned artichokes; chopped
1 package frozen chopped spinach; thawed & drained
16 oz cream cheese; softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese; grated
3 tablespoons garlic; minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes; crushed
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 baguettes; sliced
olive oil; for drizzling
salt & pepper; to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl combine the softened cream cheese with the mayonnaise.  Mix in the artichokes, spinach and Parmesan.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the mixture.  Spread into a shallow baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until top is browned slightly and dip is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
While the dip is baking, slice the baguettes into 1/2 inch slices.  Place them, single layered on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Once the dip is out of the oven, bake the bread at 400 for 7-10 minutes or until slightly toasted.  Enjoy.

Next, we visited my sister-in-law Tricia's house for my mother-in-law's birthday celebration.  There was barbecue and LOTS of dips and chips.  But one bowl full of goodness in particular stood out to me.  My sister-in-law's friend, Pauline, made potato salad that melted my face off it was so good.  So of course, I asked her for the recipe!  There were two "secret ingredients" she was selfless enough to point out and I will make sure to tag those in the recipe so you're aware of the importance in the recipe itself.  Now this recipe is truly down-home, because there was no measurements she could provide for me...just add the ingredients to the potatoes to taste...and it WAS to taste!! 

PAULINE'S POTATO SALAD

Boiled Potatoes

Finely GRATED (not chopped) onions (SECRET INGREDIENT!)

Yellow Mustard

Hellman's Mayo

Evaporated Milk (SECRET INGREDIENT!)

About 2 Hard-Boiled Eggs, finely diced

Salt & Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients together and enjoy!

I brought an awesome bowl of love to this party in the form of a dip that Chelsea calls Slap-Yo-Mamma Dip.  I call it Ex-Wife Dip (for reasons I'll save for another post!) and it was given to Adrian a long time ago by our friend, Caren, and I make different variations of it to take ownership of it.  I couldn't blog an entire post of recipes and not share one of my own!  This dip is a HUGE hit everywhere we go so be certain to take note of this SUPER bowl:

EX-WIFE SLAP-YO-MAMMA DIP

Ingredients:

1 small pkg ground breakfast or Italian sausage (I use ground turkey and just season it with Italian seasoning and lots of sage, and it tastes just like sausage!), browned

2 -8 oz pkgs cream cheese (I use Neufchatel - it's just as rich, but way lower in fat)

2 cans extra spicy Ro-Tel

Place all ingredients into crock pot until melted...serve with tortilla chips (I use organic multi-grain).  For this last weekend's dip, I blended a can of organic black beans until creamy and added it to the dip...HO-LEE MO-LEE, it was good!!

We then spent the day of football with our friends Derick and Jennifer Thompson, in order to get some work done AND celebrate the game and our friendship all at the same time.  I typically do not eat pork, as it is the hardest meat for your body to digest, but once in awhile I make an exception in moderation - especially when there are all-natural and organic ingredients being used!  Well...I can honestly say I had the best carnitas ever...it was a bowl full of juicy pulled pork, and I'm drooling right now thinking about it.  We also had delicious turkey chili, and I brought twice-baked potatoes and macaroni salad, but this pork recipe is the one that was so good it almost made me cry, so here is the recipe Derek passed along to me to pass along to you:

PULLED PORK CARNITAS

Archer Farms Carnitas Seasoning pack - this is specifically a Target (pronounced 'tar-jhay') brand and it has variations of all-natural and organic ingredients for all of the products.

Place pork roast in crock pot for about eight hours- he put his in at midnight and it was ready at 8am...add seasoning packet and follow directions for amount of water to add (he used lime juice in place of the water for a mighty-tender roast)  Shred pork and put on corn tortilla with a little cheddar cheese on top - Derick nearly blackened the corn tortillas on the stove-top and it really added something special to the carnita...I'm salivating again!

So there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen!  I hope you get to enjoy this post-full-o-recipes beyond just reading them...more than anything, I simply wanted to convey to you that it doesn't have to be a once-a-year football game for you to be able to celebrate and enjoy some sort of Super Bowl.  (TOUCHDOWN!!)

Flat Biscuits

When you cook, do you do it with love?  Do you do it with tender, mindful, care?  Or are you aimlessly going through the motions?  Or maybe you're just task-minded? Maybe you've had a bad day and your attitude reflects that in the kitchen? Watch out if that's you!  ...or your biscuits won't rise.

When Chelsea first started dating Sam (and long before she became the amazing cook she is today) she came to me and said, "I would like to make Sam your home-made Big Daddy Biscuits."  (These biscuits are flaky, the size of your face, and ridiculously DELICIOUS) I was thrilled and quickly agreed.

We made our way into the kitchen, I got the recipe out and I started pulling all the ingredients out of the pantry and the bowls we would need from the cupboard.  She stood there with a blank look on her face, her lips in a bit of an Elvis-curl, and asked what I was doing.  After I informed her that the biscuits don't magically make themselves and there was a little work involved, her face changed.  She was not happy.

I had her read the recipe as I watched (managed), and making sure she did the work since she wanted to make them for Sam.  She begrudgingly added ingredients, fulfilling the recipe with each step.  As she progressed, I kept reminding her why she was doing this...that she originally wanted to make them to show her love for Sam, and to be careful as she was making them because with the attitude she had, the love was lost in the recipe and those biscuits wouldn't rise.  She rolled her eyes and hastily finished, ready to put the biscuits in the oven and be done with it.  As she opened the oven door, I reminded her once again, "Chelsea, stop and remember why you're doing this.  If you put these biscuits in the oven with your attitude, THEY WON'T RISE."  She looked at me like I was nuts (not the first time OR the last time I've gotten that look) and placed the biscuit pan into the oven.  She looked once more at the recipe to make certain she pulled them from the oven in the right amount of time, and smugly looked at me before leaving the kitchen.

DING!  (That was my impersonation of the oven timer going off).  We both head back into the kitchen...she turns off the timer...opens the oven door, pulls out the pan...and...FLAT BISCUITS. 

Boom.

She looked at me and without hesitation said, "Let's do this again."  So we did.  This time, she remembered why she wanted to make the biscuits in the first place, had a smile on her face at the notion of Sam being grateful for her gesture, telling me it was amazing that I knew those biscuits wouldn't rise.  The exact same recipe, a different attitude.  DING! (I'm jumping to the second batch being ready.) Chelsea opened the oven door to the most amazing biscuits that ever existed.  They were gargantuan.  She didn't even bat an eyelash before she smiled, hugged me, and thanked me from the bottom of her heart, knowing Sam would LOVE the biscuits she had made with LOVE.

This transcends into everything you do in life.  It's what you choose to make of it.  The biscuits that didn't rise were still edible, but the second batch were much more than that - they were incredible and delicious.  Make sure you make much of what's given to you to make life incredible and delicious...and do what you do in life with love...or you, too, will end up with flat biscuits.

BIG DADDY BISCUITS

2 cups flour (I use organic unbleached but any all purpose will do)

1 (heaping) tbs baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbs white sugar (I use organic. NOTE: agave will work, but they won't have the same texture as with regular sugar)

1/3 cup shortening (I keep old-school Crisco in my fridge...it lasts for years because I hardly ever use it, but it makes for great sustenance in this recipe)

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) Cut in the shortening (I actually use my fingers) until the mixture is course and mealy. Gradually stir in the milk until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 20 - 25 times, about five minutes.  Pat or roll dough to about 1 inch thick.  Cut biscuits with large cutter (I use a juice glass, and just flour the rim so it doesn't stick)  Repeat this until all the dough is used. (I take the remnants and put them together, pat it out to an inch and use it, too!)  Brush off any excess flour (gently!) and place biscuits on an UN-greased baking sheet.  Bake for 13 - 15 minutes.  I have my oven down to a science and know that 14 minutes works perfect for me.   These are great with white peppered gravy, or butter, or just on their own!! 

Make sure you add the main ingredient throughout the cooking process - LOVE!

Life's a Picnic

Image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if this image is used.

Image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if this image is used.

Last night, we had a reason to celebrate.  In honor of my new job, AND it being an amazing opportunity, we decided to do a special dinner.  Rather than go out, I decided to make our dinner - this way, it's less expensive, I control the ingredients going into our food, and we had intimacy in lieu of a crowded, noisy restaurant.  Since we wanted it to be extraordinary and festive, we did a winter picnic!

I made broccoli cheese soup (tastes exactly like Panera), and turkey sandwiches on home-made pretzel rolls.  It was so delicious I couldn't stand it!  We accompanied the dinner with Layer Cake Shiraz that my husband purchased...it was his way of telling me getting the job was a'"piece of cake'.  (I know...he can be so adorable).

We were going to go out back on the patio, but because the wind was whipping pretty hard, we decided to light a fire, turn on some jazz, and have our picnic inside!  It didn't cost a lot, and by just making a few adjustments (lighting, music) we turned our living room into a winter picnic and had a woncderful time.  (Believe me, People, it's worth the effort!)

I have put the recipes for the soup and the pretzel rolls below.  Most of the stuff I already had in my pantry and fridge, and you probably do, too!  Life's been NO PICNIC for us lately, but we are so grateful for the blessings we DO have - and with this recent news we truly felt this was the best way to nourish the celebration for the next step in my career path!

Home-Made Pretzel Rolls

1 pkg dry active yeast

1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbs butter, softened

1/3 cup baking soda

1 egg yolk plus about 1 tbs water

1-2 tbs Kosher or course sea salt

In a small bowl, mix yeast, salt, sugar and warm water and stir to dissolve sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy. In a large bowl, mix flour and cayenne. Use your fingers to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Slowly pour yeast mixture into flour and stir with a fork to combine. Use your hands to gather dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until no longer sticky and fairly smooth. Return to bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 30 minutes. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces and lightly form it into a sandwich bun or roll shape. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet (I used organic olive oil spray) and repeat with remaining dough. Let rise 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a large pot, combine 10 cups of water with baking soda and bring to a boil. Boil rolls in batches (I did two at a time) until puffy about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack to drain. Return to baking sheet, brush with egg yolk wash, sprinkle with salt and lightly score lengthwise with a sharp knife about 1/8-inch deep. Bake until golden to dark brown,  about 15 minutes.

I used a couple of slices of Boar's Head Oven Gold Turkey Breast (Boar's Head doesn't have any MSG, no fillers, no hormones, no preservatives, PLUS I had a coupon for $2 off!) and a slice of Swiss for me; for Adrian, a slice of provolone because he is not a cheesy-cheese guy.  I had a $1 off produce coupon at Kroger, so I spent a little extra on some avocado to put on the sandwich as a healthy fat in place of mayo, some lettuce, sliced tomato and red onion, a little Dijon, and that sandwich was frickin'-frackin' AWESOME.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Directions:

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half . Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender - about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

I put a ladleful in cute little bowls next to the sandwich, mixed a little balsamic and extra virgin olive oil in some field greens and put a handful on the side of both the sandwich and bowl of soup.  I sliced up two or three pieces of smoky cheese and put a little garnish (for fancy picnic's sake!) and it made for a BEAUTIFUL plate that filled our bellies!!  I made enough soup for Adrian and Cameron's lunches and froze the rest.

I felt like royalty with a meal like that, and celebrating the blessing of the new job made for a good excuse for a date night in the process!

A Yolk with No Punchline

My friend came over this morning to have a lovely cup of organic coffee and a veggie frittata I made for us to share.  I hardly ever get to see her or talk to her.  (There's a ton of you out there that share a similar relationship with me, and for that I apologize.  You know who you are)  But when I do see her it's like we were never apart, and that's a good friend.
We hugged, prayed, had some small talk, laughed, and then shared some interesting conversation.   She shared about how her  pregnancy is coming along (she is radiant)  and also how her husband is doing.  He suffers from sleep paralysis and a benign tumor on his pituitary gland and has been working very hard to get his health in a good place. 
Recently, I had a dear friend lose her husband in the military.  They have a small child.  She is one of the strongest people I've ever known - and so graceful in her mourning, but of course, struggles as a now-single mother to get their life in a good place.
Here I sit, sometimes feeling so sorry for myself with all the attack we've been under, and yet I hear these things and I am reminded that someone else is always going to carry a greater or heavier burden and I should be grateful for what I do have - because our health or even our life could be taken from us at any time.
We are so strong and so delicate at the very same time.  For Cameron to have the accident he had and still be alive shows the strength in us; and the friends I've mentioned who suffer in very different ways show how fragile we are as well.
It's like the eggs I used to make the frittata this morning.  They break so easily, like us.  But as I cooked them, they got stronger - harder to break.  I think when we suffer, it's God's way of 'cooking' us and making us stronger.
How eggsellent!! (Couldn't help myself)
PS: Quick & Easy Frittata for Two
6 sliced mushrooms
1/2 yellow bell pepper, rough chopped
1/2 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno
About 1/2 cup parsley, rough chopped
4 eggs
1 slice cheddar cheese
Pour about 1 tbs (you can just eyeball this measurement) extra virgin olive oil into a small pan.  (I use my cast-iron skillet because it's non-stick and oven friendly and also makes for a really cute presentation, but you can use any small frying pan and just put foil over the handle when the time comes to put it in the oven)  heat the oil over medium heat and then put all the veggies into the pan.  cook them for about 5 minutes or until just soft.  While the veggies are cooking through, take the four eggs and whisk them in a small bowl.  Add about a tbs of water and put aside.  (Slightly) salt and pepper the veggies and stir (wait until this part to salt so the moisture doesn't come out of the mushrooms), then add the eggs.  Lower the heat to medium-low and let the eggs and veggies cook together for about 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, turn the oven on to 350 degrees.  Break up your slice of cheddar and carefully place the pieces on top of the egg mixture and do not stir.  Pop your frying pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, checking it to make sure it doesn't over-cook.  Take it out and let it sit for about a minute or two.
I sprinkled a little fresh thyme over it, sliced an apple and put a few pieces on each plate, and served the frittata by cutting it in half at the table.
It was nummy and that's no yolk.  HAAA!

 

I Heart Leftovers

Some people think leftovers are the thing to avoid.  They just can't do leftovers.  I've never been that person, but I do get it.  I grew up with meager means, to say the least so my personal panic button is thinking about wasting food.  With the boat we're in now, in order to make sure it doesn't sink, I have to find a way to make leftovers appealing and not like leftovers at all.
So there are the chicken teriyaki skewers I made the other night.  They were DELICIOUS and easy and super inexpensive.  I just took chicken tenderloins and marinated them in soy sauce, hoisin, and a little bit of sesame oil.  (Now these are all things I have on hand minus the chicken pieces so that was all I had to buy.  To me, if you've got a little Asian salad dressing in the fridge, just use that!)  I then soaked my skewers while the chicken marinated.  So I sprinkle a little Kosher salt and some pepper on both sides and pop them in a 350 degree oven for around 20 -25 minutes.  A simple salad on the side and you've got an inexpensive, healthy meal!  
Now...on to the leftover part.  I've got enough chicken skewers left to send with Adrian (AND Cameron) for lunch and then some.  So he's had them for supper.  He's had them for lunch.  LAST thing he wants is to have them for supper again!
What to do??  
I took some flour (unbleached organic for us for health purposes, but any kind of all-purpose will do), yeast, olive oil, honey, warm water and a little salt (all lying around the house dying to be used!)  I made pizza crust from scratch (SO easy, recipe to follow), and poured some barbecue sauce we had in the cabinet (organic, thanks for the gift, Karen Merritt!) over it, and sprinkled the leftover chicken on top.  I sprinkled a little shredded cheddar we had lying around on top and popped it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  VOILA!  Barbecued chicken pizza!  (Adrian and Cameron both took the pizza for lunch the next day!)
Let's talk this through: Two packages of the chicken came to about $8 and I used pantry items and staples for the rest.  I made dinner and lunch and dinner and lunch again, two different ways.  I fed three people.  So four meals and three people comes to roughly (and for all my math OCDs out there, I do mean ROUGHLY) a dollar per meal per person!  
Every morning I get to wake up, I remember I'm leftover from the day before.  I try to remember that when it comes to my food and fuel, and the respect it deserves for the role it plays in mine and my family's life.
(Getting past the serious stuff and moral of the story...here's the quick and easy pizza crust recipe!)
2 cups flour
1 pkg (or 1 tbsp dry active yeast)
3/4(ish) tsp salt
1 cup WARM water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
Pour flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add yeast and salt.  mix well.  Add water, oil, and honey and mix well.  Cover and place in a warm spot for 10 - 15 minutes to rise.
Punch down and press into a greased 14-inch pizza pan (or 10-inch for thicker crust)  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.
YUM.