So it’s Friday night and I am ready to party…NOT. This darn cold has set me back nearly a week, and it’s taken everything in my power not to sleep 24-7. I called in sick on Wednesday, which is something I never do, and the last two days I coughed nearly non-stop. From what I hear, this cold is lasting up to three weeks, and I just don’t have time for that…I’ve got a half marathon to train for!!!
But the reality of it all, is that I shouldn’t complain about having a silly cold or my lapse in training. See, my neighbor lost her husband just a few short days before Christmas at the young age of 43, as he died suddenly in his sleep. He is leaving behind a wife and three children, and while we weren’t super close to them, we did spend some time with them over this last year and the loss is palpable in my neighborhood. Life. Is. Short.
So sleep in if that’s your fancy.
Tell those you care about, that you love them. Don’t just assume they know.
Pursue your dreams, and never settle.
Eat that slice of cake, or have that basket of French fries.
Keep Movin’ Forward.
Have you ever lost someone suddenly? What is your guilty pleasure?
It’s crazy to say that marathon training (and the race) is over. After 18 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears I managed to finish the Grandma’s Marathon with my sister and cross yet another thing off my bucket list. WINNING.
So now what?
First, there’s that on-going pipe dream of writing my own cook book that I always seem to gravitate back to…and that of course requires a LOT of work and time. Having busied myself with full and half marathon training the last several years, that dream has perpetually been put in the back seat. This in part mostly because I don’t cook with measuring…I cook with my palate, embracing the smells and flavors of food and never-ever measure out ingredients. So over the last few years I’ve paid closer attention to my cooking so I can catalog my recipes with approximate measurements so people can replicate my dishes. You can see the start of my collection HERE
And then, there is also that lingering sub-2 half marathon goal that although sometimes seems impossible, it also is something I REALLY want to achieve. Why? Not sure…but it’s a goal I want to smash one day-so last week I went to my first EVER speed work session at the track. WHAT you say? YOU did track work? I did…guilty as charged said the girl who’d never run on a track again after 6 years of junior high school/high school track and 20 years of military running, again, around a track. Although it was a bit soon coming off the full marathon on Saturday, I can honestly say I had FUN…shhhh, don’t tell anyone. Now that my legs are fully rested, I plan on going back on Thursday for some more speed work. YAY.
Lastly, it’s time to kick the last few remaining negative forces that have resided in my brain, out of my head and heart once and for all. I figure if I say it enough, I’ll eventually DO IT. People, friends, life MOVES ON…whether or not I do…so it’s time to quit hanging on to things that no longer exist. All it does, is drag me down…#notimeforthatanymore
What’s on your plate for the remainder of the year? What’s your favorite go-to recipe?
This weekend was a blur to be honest. But it was a wonderful weekend I have to admit. I am having a hard time forming my thoughts, so please bear with me.
My husband had reserve duty this weekend, which means the household is my responsibility. It is one that I have taken on, and have been doing for over 15 years of being a single mom/Army wife. I’ve done my fair share of bitching, whining, and complaining. Yes. I suck sometimes. But this weekend was different, and let me tell you why…
First, I spent the weekend with my girls, shopping, eating, and getting pampered as we got our hair done. Our awesome friends/neighbors came over last night for a pre-celebratory drink, and my sister and her family came to my hubby’s ceremony today. Stack on the feelings of happy and bliss because my cup truly is over flowing.
I have always preached to do what you love, and do it with passion. I have not always lived this statement, but this last year has been different. I’ve cooked more, ran a lot, and chased dreams that still have yet to be caught. But mostly, I have smiled more this last year than I have in the last 5 years. Because I realized something…
I AM enough. I HAVE more than enough…
And this is greatly due in part to the fact that I have the most amazing family and friends, well…EVER. I’ve got a job I enjoy, a roof over my head and food on my table. And did I mention the best family and friends ever? Oh yeah, I said that already…lol
Secondly, this weekend was my husband’s weekend to shine. And shine he did. He took command of his first unit. I always joke and say he loves the Army more than me, (totally kidding) but this afternoon as he spoke to his soldiers, his face was all lit up and shining…you could FEEL the energy, and my heart sang a little song just for him…HE is doing it. He is chasing his dreams, and achieving SO much in his career and I simply couldn’t be more proud.
To wrap it all up, I finished the week with a total of almost 8 miles of running, my ab challenge, and a smile on my face.
What brings you the most joy in life? Are you living and pursuing these passions?
First, I came home from work to find my house without heat, so what did I do? I fired up the stove of course, and prepared a hearty seafood chowder! This recipe isn’t exact, but here’s what you’ll need to make this amazing chowder in less than 45 minutes:
1 large pasta/stew pot
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 potato, diced
1 cup of frozen corn, or fresh if it’s in season (add this the last 10 minutes if frozen to avoid overcooking)
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans (may omit)
2 green onions sliced at an angle for garnish
2-3 cups of stock-low sodium!
Seasoning: Cajun spice, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and kosher salt and pepper-to taste.
1 back 0f 20 count large shrimp, remove the tail, cut in 3 pieces and place in a separate bowel. Add the juice of half of a lemon, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper and let marinate. (You will add the shrimp the final 10 minutes as they are precooked).
Drizzle your pot with EVOO and add all the veggies (minus the corn) and sauté for about 7 minutes until just slightly tender. Add your tomatoes, stock, and beans and season to taste. Let simmer for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
In the last 10 minutes add your corn and shrimp to heat through entirely.
Garnish was sliced green onions, and serve!
Second, tonight marks the 3rd season of MasterChef junior season premier of course! (MasterChef/MasterChef junior being literally the ONLY shows I have watched on television in the past year or so).
Wait…before you get all judgy with “reality TV is all scripted,” and stuff…Wait.
Still waiting? Thanks…this truly is important to me!!!
I agree, these shows do have the hint of irritating hidden advertisement and drama nestled inside each episode. I won’t even try to say it’s truly “real” in regards to actual reality. I mean, really…how many people would have access to a pantry like THAT to choose ingredients from?!? I’d be in heaven…lol
BUT…having been on the other side of the show nearly, well not really nearly, I see this particular series in a different light. 😉
For behind even the most dramatic Chef down to the sweetest home junior cook. both share one common theme that is near and dear to me and that, is a PASSION FOR FOOD. Good food, creative food…homecooked food with a touch of flare and big pinch of passion.
Although I won’t be America’s next MasterChef, I know how it feels to want something THAT bad. To have dreams THAT big, achievable or not..
And THAT…is reality.
Oh, and the hubby saved the day by fixing the heat and I finished day 6 of my AB challenge! SCORE!
Keep Movin’ Forward, y’all! And don’t forget to smile!
As of late, the dreary, cold, and bleak winter days have left me with little motivation to run. In fact, I only ran once last week and probably because I put it out there for all to see in order to hold myself accountable. I’m just not feeling it again this winter. Although our temps are actually quite manageable, leaving for work in the dark, and driving home from work again in the dark DRAINS me. Ultimately, winter blues suck. That. IS. ALL. My hubby and I DID sign up for a 5K on Sunday called the Underground Polar Express, where ALL proceeds go to Suicide Prevention/awareness, a cause that touches my heart. Check it out….www.undergroundpolarexpress.com
So I’ve really continued to pour myself into my cooking. (HAHA, see what I did there?) I’ve kept on with my studying recipes, techniques, and experimenting with different dishes. I have spent the better part of 2014 actually writing out my recipes, and pray I can get my E-book/Cookbook in the works next year. Why?
Well, because I know I meant to do something OTHER than work in a hospital. A job I didn’t choose for myself…But it’s been a good job for the last 24 years, and for that I am grateful. I think I am just at a point in my life where I KNOW I need to be doing something I LOVE. All the signs are there…pulling at me in a million directions. I just need to find my “IN” so to speak. I need someone else, other than my amazing family and friends SEE that I have a gift when it comes to creating food and say, “Hey…I think we could use talent like yours, let us mentor you…”
So yeah…that call hasn’t come yet. So I keep putting myself out there on social media, posting my recipes, my dreams, my goals…PRAYING someone out there will see the fire I have in my soul.
Sure…I love to run, and it’s a part of my life that I wouldn’t trade.
But I LOVE to cook. I love to create….to plate…to make my food not only pretty, but amazingly tasty too…
Even more…I love when someone takes a bite of my food, closes their eyes, and sighs in appreciation. PURE. BLISS.
Last night while watching the “Hundred foot journey” it hit me like a ton of bricks. The opening scene shows the main character, Hassan, as a young boy in small food market. There were dozens of people crowded around to buy some sea urchin. The merchant saw the crowd of screaming potential buyers, but he watched young Hassan pick up a single sea urchin, close his eyes, and deeply breathed in the fresh scent. He sighed, and took a small bite and smile. The merchant immediately sold the entire lot of sea urchin to Hassan and his Mother. Because he “GOT IT.” He recognized the beauty of the product, with the smells, the sight, and the taste of the food. And it hit me…THIS is what I do. I LOVE food. Good food. Fresh food. CREATING food.
Later on, as an adult Hassan made the 5 staple sauces of the French for his Chef friend. They can be found here: http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/sauces/tp/Mother-Sauces.htm
He starts cooking with her, and asks her if she thinks he is a real Chef, not just a cook. “Yes!!” She replies, in which my husband turned to me telling me he thinks I am real Chef…of course, I nearly cried. If you haven’t seen this movie, I recommend it highly.
At the end of the day, we have to provide for our families, often times doing jobs we don’t love. But as I’ve told my husband, “You just watch…ONE day I’ll make my mark on this world, and it’s going to be amazing.
Tonight’s dinner was a new recipe I came up with after several rough days at work. I wasn’t sure what I would make with the chicken thighs I pulled out of the freezer, but I knew it would comforting regardless. And what’s more comforting than a yummy soup to warm the soul after chilly temps and a few harsh days at work.
Chicken and gnocchi soup
What you’ll need:
4 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
4 cups of low sodium veggie stock
4 cups of water
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
2-3 tablespoons of garbanzo/fava flour (can be found in the gluten free section of your local market)
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 celery stocks, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Cayenne pepper, taco seasoning, cilantro, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of grated parmesan to garnish
I used store bought gnocchi, but plan on learning to make this from scratch
In a large sauce pot, add your butter, and flour and cook through stirring with a whisk. Add in your veggie stock and water, stirring well. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, and add your heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce the heat to a simmer while you prepare the ‘meat’ of the soup.
In a separate pan, add extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan) and bring to a medium/high heat. Cook your chicken through, seasoning with salt, pepper, and taco seasoning. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Drain the grease from the pan, but don’t wipe any excess oil. Add a splash of oil, and add in all your veggies. Season with salt and pepper until cooked 3/4 of the way. You still want a slight crunch to your veggies.
Add your chicken to the large sauce pot with the stock as well as oregano, basil, cilantro and parsley and let simmer for 20 minutes. While this is simmering, cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. This takes about 7 minutes.
Next, add in your veggies, stir well, and prepare to plate. Just before serving, add your gnocchi to the soup, stir gently, and serve!
I garnished with parmesan cheese!
As most of you know, my ultimate dream is to work in the food industry. Be it as a Chef, a writer, a critic, or restaurateur I know my place is in the food industry. As I was driving home from work today, I had my one on one time with God and asked for His ultimate guidance. I hate the feeling that although I have a good life, I long for so much more for my family. I chased that dream recently with my MasterChef audition, but sadly that journey was short lived despite months of preparation. So as my family hunkered down to watch the season premier MasterChef Junior I couldn’t help but to have to fight with that nagging tug at my heart.
That tug was quickly replaced with a renewed sense of pride in the children of today’s society. One young Chef presented raw chicken, and instead of competitive hatred, these kids rallied around this little Chef and I found tears pouring down my face. My youngest sat nestled in the crook of my arms, and she squeezed me a little tighter when she saw what the kids did to comfort the little Chef. So at the end of the day, I may not be a MasterChef…but I am teaching my kids a love for great food, compassion, and the importance of dreams. Despite an ache in my soul some days…I know ultimately my dreams are still very real. Don’t get me wrong. I am still choosing to be content with the gifts God has given to me. But I do refuse to settle. I’ll keep chasing those dreams…just watch me! 🙂
Well, I haven’t ran this week as most of you know. I took it, mostly, in stride despite starting to go crazy by the end of the week. I had decided yesterday that I would run tonight, but I woke up with another sinus headache, and several bloody nose bleeds to follow so I set the goal of running tonight aside. After a couple hours, I got the nose bleeds under control, so I showered, got dressed and hit the grocery store running with my youngest in tow. She’s my ‘sous chef’ and we decided along with our regular grocery shopping that we would get something nice to prepare for our traditional “Sunday supper.” I was also secretly using tonight as a test run for my Master Chef try out dish.
On the menu was:
Pan seared scallops
Roasted red pepper and carrot puree
We started by prepping our carrots and peppers. Here’s what you’ll need for the puree in case you’ve missed my previous post.
Roasted red pepper and carrot puree ingredients:
2 large carrots, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
Transfer to a large bowl, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool, and transfer to a food processor, adding a 1/4 stick of unsalted butter, dollop of low fat cream cheese, and two teaspoons of sun dried tomato pesto with whole pine nuts. (I use the Bella Sane Luci brand, but any will do). Puree on high until smooth, seasoning as needed. I finish it with a sprinkle or two of freshly grated parmesan cheese. DELISH. I normally make this first as it’s the most labor intensive, and put in a baking dish to reheat although it’s quite tasty at room temperature.
Zucchini salad ingredients:
One half of a large zucchini noodled by your gadget of choice. I use the Vegetti and love it. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper and just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Top with 2-3 radicchios finely diced. For garnish, the tops of oyster mushrooms lightly fried in basil infused olive oil (I made my own!). Drizzle with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing of which I also make my own. (One teaspoon of Dijon mustard, juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and whisk in extra virgin olive oil). Note: I separate all toppings, and make each salad individually.
Pan seared scallops:
Dry your scallops with paper towels, and place on a plate, seasoning simply with kosher salt and pepper. Pan fry (I used my basil infused evoo) on medium to high heat, and turn once. Finish by draining the scallops on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Serve, as shown. I garnished the dish with fried basil leaves, and it was a hit.
I made a couple yummy appetizers that I forgot to take pictures of, I know…blogger fail. But stuffed cherry tomatoes with cheese and basil roasted to perfection and crostini’s also accompanied our dinner.
My take away at my first real attempt at a “Master Chef” dish:
I need to acquire better pans to get that amazing sear on scallops without having them stick. (Christmas list item, number one.)
I need to work on time management as I find myself spending hours preparing these meals despite knowing the show is timed. Sadly (well not really) I lose myself in the kitchen nearly as much as I do with running…therefore losing track of time. Could I make this dish in just an hour??
I’m still unsure…but, I am still trying. Working. Hoping that I can find that inner spark to get my through to the ‘next round’ so to speak.
At the end of the day, I am pleased…I had almost given up on my dreams (yet again) of being well, more than I have allowed myself to be…but I have realized I am not satisfied with just ‘being.’
The last few years I have found myself talking in my own head…telling myself I know, I KNOW there is a greater purpose out there for me besides a 7-4 job…I just have to keep movin’ forward and FIND it…more so MAKE it happen.
And. I. Will.
So as I take my last sip of my orange cello (lemon cello with a twist of orange, YUM!) and I mentally prepare for our half marathon (my husband’s first!) I realize we can…and we will…OVERCOME. ALL things…in life. It’s our choice…it’s MY choice. And I’ve made it.
Question: What inner dreams do you have? Do you push yourself to attain these dreams, or do you let them be simply a dream?