It’s been a while! I have so many new recipes to share and so many pictures to edit. Hence the lack of new recipes.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for Thanksgiving. Now that I have a full-time job, long vacations are far and few between. No more month winter vacation or no class Fridays. Eh. The growing pains of becoming an adult. So a 5-day weekend–it felt like winning the lottery!
This long weekend has been a great opportunity to make new, fun side dishes. Honestly, with working every day, making multiple dishes each night is a bit of a handful. So in my effort to learn to cook, my focus has been on main dishes. Thanksgiving was a great chance to master some appetizers.
Matt has always been a dip-guy. He loves chips. So when I found this kopanisti recipe, I had to try it. This dip is great for pita chips, carrots, celery, and other finger veggies. A great change from the usual french onion dip Matt has been devouring.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Well, at least in Canada. And since I married a Canadian, it meant it was Thanksgiving in our house. We invited some of our favorite friends over for a full-out Thanksgiving meal. As expected, we all went around the table and said what we were thankful for.
It made me realize something. I have the greatest life. I grew up in this quinessential small town where when you go to the grocery store, you know every single person there. I was raised by a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister–a family who doesn’t always agree but always believes in the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
I married a man who loves me just as much as I love him. Who honestly would do anything to make me happy-including toying with the idea of buying me a french bulldog despite his so-so feeling about owning a puppy. I married into a family that is extremely loving and welcoming.
My cellphone is filled with numbers of friends from across the states. Sure, some numbers haven’t been dialed in months, but the voices at the end of line are comprised of friendships that allow us to pick up right where we left off. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s what it means to have a solid friendship. And all of that, equals the greatest life. Sure, there are things that could make my life easier, better, less of a hassle. But I’ve never wished for a perfect life. Just a happy one. And there is nothing greater than that.
And just as Minnesota is notorious for, we skipped straight from summer to a cold fall. Because of the early morning frosts, our garden had it’s last harvest. I completely stripped my plants from any and all usable ingredients. It was overwhelming how fruitful my hall was! I felt so lucky to have so many fresh veggies to work with at this late in the season.
Per usual, my jalapenos grew out of control! I wanted to figure out something fun to make with them! And that’s how my bacon-wrapped jalapeno boats were born!
How do people do it? Hold a full-time job. Work out. Make dinner. Spend time with a significant other. Practice a hobby. And still go to bed at a decent hour. After one month of working full-time, it has definitely readjusted the way I look at the working world. Much respect. I have no idea how everyone does it. It’s clear that I am still acquiring my sea legs. Hence the lack of posts in the past month.
This recipe is not tailored for the working-folk. Today, I came home from work at 7:15. I had called Matt at 6:30 asking him to start this recipe. Yet we didn’t eat until 9:15!! I haven’t had dinner this late since I lived in Spain. As my roommates in Spain quickly learned, I fucking hate cena (late dinner). So save this recipe for the weekend. A day when you come home early. Not a day when you have to work all day.
Today was harvest day at the Cremona house. With my handy shears, I plopped tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, serranos, green beans, and an orange pepper into my basket. When I was done, I looked like I raided a farmer’s market.
I am so proud of my orange bell pepper. Last year only my green peppers grew so I was thrilled when this year turned out to be different. I didn’t want my miracle pepper to go to waste. This pepper needed to be used in a truly fun recipe. Something unique where the flavors of the pepper stood out.
This twist on the traditional, tomato-based bruschetta was excellent. The orange pepper makes the bruschetta sweeter and crunchier. Next time I make this I think I’ll use different color bell peppers to see how that mixes up the taste.
My friend Krystal is a member of this vegetable co-op where every Thursday she gets a box full of fresh veggies from a local farm. I am the lucky person who gets extra veggies when her crisper is already filled from the week before. In her box this week were some beets which she gifted to me.
I’ve honestly never had beets before. I certainly had no idea how to prepare them. In fact, my only interaction with the vegetable was through the cartoon Doug. Matt has been craving snack foods a lot lately. Every night he is rummaging through the kitchen looking for something to nibble on. He has always been a fan of chips, and his stash of ketchup chips is running thin.
And that’s how beet chips were born. The creation in this dish caused possibly the most “damage” my hands have ever had to go through in the kitchen. My hands were stained red, and I cut my fingers on the slicer 4 times. There was a real labor of love. While the recipe I followed recommend slicing the beets as thin as possible, Matt and I both liked the thicker pieces. So try some thicker and thinner slices to see where your taste buds land.
Our garden has really started to take off. My orange peppers are slowly turning colors, tomatoes are becoming plump, and I have more hot peppers than I know what to do with! As expected, the cucumbers have taken the lead as the highest producer. And that is ok with me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE cucumbers. I can thank my father for this obsession. Growing up, my father had a small vegetable garden. Every summer, he harvested his cucumbers to make a dill cucumber salad. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. This year, we have so many cucumbers that we’d be eating this salad every day for every meal if we wanted to use up all our cuc’s. So I’ve been making modifications to his salad to spice up our veggie side dishes.
The spicy peppers rival the cucumbers in multiplicity so I added a pepper to our salad. It was a bit too spicy for poor Matt (he’s a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat) so I added less red pepper flakes. I recommend opting for less heat at first and add more to taste.
I have made a conscious decision. This is going to be the best summer ever. See, I am unemployed and studying for the Minnesota bar. In short, I go to 3 hours of class a day and spend the rest of the day doing whatever I want. Sure, I gotta get some studying done. But it’s completely self-scheduled studying. No meetings. No office I have to be at. No uncomfortable suit jacket to wear. No recording every 6 minutes of my time. Instead, I get to sit on my porch, drink a beer, crack open my Barbri books and relearn everything I learned my first year of law school. It’s not too bad. In fact, I love it. Because I have complete control over my schedule. If I want to work-out at 3 in the afternoon, I can. If I want to run to Target, I can. If I want to study in my swimsuit and get a tan, I can. This is far better than sitting in an office all day. And chances are, I will not get the opportunity to have such freedom with my afternoon schedule ever again.
Still, with watching Criminal Minds and falling deeper in love with Matthew Gray Gubler studying for the bar, I haven’t had as much time to make full meals. Rather, I have resorted to snacking. And of course, when I think of great snacks, anything that can go on chips sounds like the perfect study aid. This black bean salad is excellent on chips–its a great garnish for tacos and is even tasty all by itself. Even better, all you gotta do is throw all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Even a brain mushed from too much studying of property law can manage that!
Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited. While I do not need a holiday to enjoy a margarita or delicious Mexican food, I can definitely get behind the idea to have a day devoted to it. Unfortunately, people have the tendency to associate great Mexican food with deep fried options. But that doesn’t have to be the case! I am in the middle of law school finals (last time EVER!) and to a lot of people that means gorging on unhealthy snack food and injecting coffee straight to the veins. I do not want to become victim to this habit, but it’s really hard. Sitting at your computer for hours at a time, pouring over case books, statutes, and outlines, it is tempting to run down to the vending machine and stock up. But don’t worry that you’ll find yourself hiding in a study carrel shoving Cheetos in your face (it’s hard to hide the evidence when your fingers are stained orange). This refreshing side salad is a great study snack that will keep the less healthy snacks at bay. It pairs well with baked tortilla chip and has a little bit of sweet and salty.
In college, I worked at Manny’s, an upscale Mexican restaurant. The food is amazing there! I’ve worked at a lot of restaurants (waitress from the age of 14), and Manny’s was my favorite–from the excellent food, clean kitchen, and use of fresh ingredients to the most amazing people to work with–I definitely miss working there when the long hours of law school start to wear on me.
One of the best appetizers on the menu is the ceviche. Always fresh, it compliments a Perfecta Margarita wonderfully. The anniversary of the opening of the Eau Claire location of Manny’s is this Friday. So it seemed fitting to try out my own ceviche recipe. Since I’m working on a budget, I didn’t use scallops or red snapper like Manny’s ceviche, but it is a good substitute to hold me over til I make my way back to La Crosse and can enjoy the original. Serve with chips, over lettuce or on a tostada. This is only 5 Weight Watcher Plus Points for a little less than a cup.