This is what worry looks like

cookies

My friend, Peter, is at the hospital right now getting an MRI with contrast.  Because they found a “lesion” on his L5 vertebrae and they don’t know what it is.  He’s all “oh, it’s fine”.  I, on the other hand, am freaking the hell out!  Seems like various friends of mine are falling apart and there’s little or nothing that I can do about it.  So I worry and I keep busy with work.  I also call, visit, nag, reassure and remind them that they are loved and that, hopefully, everything will be okay.  Then I start cooking and baking things….see aforementioned cookies.  I finally stopped the baking and just started the eating.  And eating.  And eating.  Somebody stop me!

These Chocolate Chunk Cookies are courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I have one rule about chocolate chip cookies:  you cannot have too many recipes for them.  The end.  This particular recipe has you browning half the butter.  Browned butter should be a food group.  No, really.  The only changes I have made to the recipe, thus far, were to refrigerate the dough (way easier to scoop), bake with parchment (because I’m lazy) and reduce the baking time (to 7-8 minutes).  They’re yummy.  If you can’t stop cramming them in your mouth eating, just keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator to bake-off later.

Time to get back to the waiting and worrying.  Maybe I’ll make some enchiladas….

I hope you and yours are well and happy.  Don’t forget to be grateful for those you love and those that love you…..blessings, all of them.

Who wants to go to Paris anyway?

Imagine being on a boat full of books drifting, every so slowly, down the river Seine.  Drinking lovely wine.  Having meals that are so delicious that you’re not certain if you should savor the moment or just eat faster.  If you need the reminder of how the written word can heal and inspire the soul, go ahead and pick this up.

paris

This is not a big story with an amazing plot.  It’s lovely and lyrical, healing and inspirational, meandering and utterly gorgeous prose.  Please, someone book me a ticket to Paris.

This is what love looks like!

penny's soup

Penny made me some soup!  Yummy vegetable soup goodness.  I know what you’re thinking….that she made it for her family.  Or for dinner.  It’s not true, I tell ya.  Love in a bowl, that’s what it is!  And so perfect for the cool, rainy weather we’ve been gifted!  I ate mine earlier while finishing up a fabulous new book.  It’s the first in a series by a Canadian author, Louise Penny.

still life

It’s a murder mystery set just outside Montreal.  I have two things to say about the book.  I now want to visit the area.  And, I may have already ordered the next in the series!  Super excited about this new discovery.

In other news, WE HAVE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!  I have, thus far, resisted the urge to by a fabulous blue wig.  I may go back to the costume store because the urge to buy a fun wig is taking over my life seeming like the most irresistible idea.  I was thinking about going as myself being a witch.  Think witches have cool colored hair????

What are you going as?  And what kind of candy have you got in case I need to come over?

Happy Monday, everyone!

Productivity is overrated!

Happy Friday, peeps!

I snuck out of work early.  It’s lovely here today so I should be out finishing up staining my deck.  But, you know what?  Productivity is overrated!  Instead, I’m just sitting here eating cookies and planning things for the weekend.

Last weekend, we had some lovely cool weather.  Coolish temps always make me want comfort foods…..read as gumbo and tiramisu.  I know it’s a weird combo but that’s what I wanted, okay?  The latter went straight into the garbage bin so no need to share that.  As for the former, behold:

DSC00183

If you decide to make this, be sure to give yourself plenty of time.  Like all afternoon.  If you can snag someone to help stir, even better.  Trust me.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

  • 1 Tbs, plus 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • Package of andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 pounds of chicken thighs (I used bone in and boneless simply because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 Tbs of Emeril Essence or Creole Seasoning (I made the former, recipe to follow)
  • 1 c. Flour
  • 2 c. Chopped Onions
  • 1 c. each, chopped celery and bell pepper (I used a red pepper for a bit of sweetness)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 9 c. chicken broth
  • Optional: chopped green onions, parsley and file powder, for garnish or added flavor.  I was lazy and hungry and skipped these.  I did, however, add a large handful of frozen okra in the last hour of simmering.

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the sausage in a Tbs of oil over medium high heat.  You want it nice and brown.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

Season the chicken with the essence or Creole seasoning (I season fairly heavily as M loves the spiciness).  Add to your pot and brown well.  Set chicken aside to cool (refrigerate) after browning.

In that same pot, make your roux by combining the 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and flour over medium heat.  Stir, stir, stir!  Seriously, you’ll have to cook and stir this for 20-25 minutes…..until it’s just a bit darker than milk chocolate in color.  When you’ve got that, toss in your chopped veggies and keep on stirring until tender, about 5 minutes or so.  Then add the sausage, salt, cayenne and bay leaves.  Keep stirring another couple of minutes.  See, why you want a stirring buddy?!  Have the buddy slowly add the chicken broth while you’re stirring.  When it’s well combined, you can just stir occasionally while bringing it all to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, for an hour (at this point just continue with the stirring occasionally).

After that hour, add your chicken  and let it all simmer for another 90 minutes.  Skim off fat as needed.  At that point, your chicken should be cooked through.  Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and shred it, discarding the bones and any skin.  Add back to the pot.  Stir!  Serve with rice and garnish as you like.  It’s a lot of work but it’s oh so good.  It’ll freeze well, without the rice.   Or pretend your me and share!

Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning

  • 2 1/2 Tbs Paprika
  • 2 Tbs each, Salt and Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbs each, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Oregano and Thyme

Combine all the spices and mix thoroughly.  The makes a good bit, save the rest in an airtight container or ziploc bag as it’s fabulous to blacken fish or scallops or whatever in.

 

Tuesday, the Monday wanna be

This past weekend was fall break for my kiddos.  That’s right, a four day weekend!  I know you’re jealous.  Me too, as I had to work part of it.  I probably should have worked more but there’s something magical about just enjoying a bit of time with family and friends.  We watched movies, laughed and generally just enjoyed the not doing all the usual work/school things.  Even yesterday’s trip to the dentist and visit to get haircuts didn’t bother us.  That might be because we got to have lunch with Penny or Miss Penny, depending on who you ask.  Living vicariously is a magical thing!

IMG_1017

Penny just got back from a road trip with our local hockey team.  So we got to hear all her stories, see photos and share in her adventure.  We are totally jealous that she got to oogle the hot men visit Canada before us!  Okay, we’re totally jealous of many things she shared but thrilled that she got to enjoy such a cool holiday.  Husband of the year, right there, people!  (Her hubby bought the trip as part of a charity thing as a surprise…..take notes M!  Oh, nevermind, we haven’t yet won the lottery, darn it.)

A couple of years ago, I read Jojo Moyes’ book Me Before You.  Then, I made everyone I know read it.  Probably my favorite book the year it came out.  Such a wonderful story, the kind that really sticks with you.  So, I was busting out the happy dance when I heard she’d written a sequel.

after you

I read After You pretty much non-stop Saturday, finishing up Sunday morning.  No, it wasn’t as good as its predecessor.  I knew it couldn’t be.  That didn’t keep it from being wonderful.  (I want to say more here but I’ll not be ruining the book for you.)  I love when a story can remind you of the positive things in your own life….like how much non-family can be as much your family as the people you are related to.  In my case, it really hit home on Monday when Penny took time out of her day to come and enjoy lunch with my people.  Friends are the family you choose.  I’ve no idea who came up with the saying but I am forever grateful that it is true.  Go!  Enjoy some time with your friends!  Make the time for yourself.  You will not regret it.

And, if you haven’t read Me Before You.  Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or library.

This is normal behavior, right?

Tiramisu

I need some.  I apparently need some so much that I’ve been researching different recipes and techniques for a couple of hours.  That’s normal, right?  There’s a restaurant near me that has the best tiramisu I’ve ever had.  I could just order some.  But no.  Fool insists on making her own.  Instead, I’m heading out to buy ingredients to recreate a masterpiece, so I can eat as much as I want and no one points and stares.  The chef of the fantasy from heaven let it slip that his is made with a sponge cake rather than ladyfingers so that’s where I’m starting.  Wish me luck.  And willpower since I’ll have to resist the urge to eat the sponge cake first!

gray mountain

I finished John Grisham’s Gray Mountain.  I have a love/not so much relationship with his books.  They’re utterly readable but, of late, I find myself wishing that there was something more.  I blame this on A Time to Kill and The Firm.  There’s been a few others that I’ve really enjoyed but every time I pick up one of his books, I’m hoping for that same magic that he burst on scene with.  So sorry, Mr. Grisham.  I know I need to just let it go.  I enjoyed Gray Mountain.  It’s a bit like single issue politics as he covers the mining industry….mostly strip mining.  My parents live in Kentucky so this a subject that I’m familiar with, the arguments for and against.  Unfortunately, I’m also no stranger to the devastation that strip mining causes to the environment and community.  I wasn’t fond of the main character as she was barely painted on to the page.  This was a book that could have been so much more.  Not bad, but not the more I was wanting.

I am now accepting applications for a new family!

Because mine periodically sucks!  Like when they forget my birthday.  Again!  Yes, I know this is small and petty.  Who cares?  They’re fired.  New family applicants should come with cake or party hats or glitter!

My tiny humans are on fall break so we are watching ALL the movies, going skating and just generally being bums.  It is so great!  Except I’m supposed to be making popcorn right now…..oops.  First, let me just tell you that I finished another book.

paper towns

I gotta say, my boyfriend kind of let me down with this one.  It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong.  It is simply that I’ve become accustomed to him writing characters that are so much richer.  Characters that you find yourself caring about.  This time he didn’t quite hit the bullseye I’ve come to expect.  Still, there were moments when I quite literally laughed out loud.  I love that.  It’s that ability to pull out such emotion that keeps me coming back.

Ooh, gotta run.  The tiniest human has come in search of the popcorn.  Have a super fun weekend!