Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 27

(Full list.)

A Picture of You and a Family Member

Since I miss this little guy and he didn't make it into the last post...

My fireball of a nephew, Justice!

Isn't he cute?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 26

(Full list.)

A Picture of Something that Means a Lot to You

Parents who loved me and encouraged creativity and curiosity...

A mother who loved me enough to give me away...

And a new family that raised my soul mate "in the way he should go"*...

* Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Farmer's Market: Shallots

My favorite vegetable is onions.  Hands down.  They are so versatile: salsa, soups, sandwiches, salads, casseroles, omelettes, cake... well, maybe not cake.  Anyway, I thank my mother for my love of onions.  She's Italian, and she cooks like it (minus the garlic)... there's onion and green pepper in most of the family recipes, and, growing up, we always had those two veggies on hand.

Last Saturday, I ventured alone to the farmer's market.  It shouldn't surprise you that I bought a box of small yellow onions.  We've already used three or four of them!  I also bought a close cousin of the beloved onion: shallots.  They are small (thumb-sized), garlic shaped onions.

I bought a small carton of shallots for my next farmer's market cooking adventure.  After some research, I decided upon Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) recipe for Carmelized Shallots.

First step, peel off the papery skin!

See how they have little "cloves" like garlic?  They're also juicy and layered like an onion.  And, boy, do they smell like onion.  My eyes were watering by the end of the stack, and my eyes hardly ever water when I chop onions!

Next step, brown!

Is that butter?  Oh yes, and sugar, too.  We're carmelizing these suckers.  Yum-o!

Cook until they look like this, shaking the pan every once in a while:

Magic, I tell you, magic.

You'll then add Red Wine Vinegar, salt and pepper, and cook until soft.  (I skipped the oven, and just put a lid on the pot--it was 100 degrees today, and my little apartment heats up fast!)

I couldn't get the colors right in this picture (the lighting in my kitchen isn't set up for photography, imagine that), but you can see that they are getting soft and the sauce is thick and coating the shallots.

In the end, you'll get something quite delicious.  Try not to salivate when you look at the photo...

I served this with the easiest chicken ever (recipe below--makes it very tender and moist) and zucchini and squash casserole.  Handsome and I ate the shallots with the chicken, and it was delicious!!!  I would definitely make this again, and look forward to trying out more recipes with this dear cousin of my favorite veggie!

Crockpot Chicken
from my friend Suzanne

Chicken Breasts
Chicken Broth

Put raw chicken breasts in crock pot.  Pour over chicken broth to cover chicken.  (I used 3 chicken breasts and 2 c. broth in my small crock pot.)  Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Salsa

Handsome and I looove chips and salsa.  When we were first married, we would eat at least a jar per week.  Handsome realized that it was adding up really quickly on our grocery bill, so he suggested that I make salsa from scratch.  I wasn't too keen on the idea at first, because it sounded hard and the last time I tried to make salsa it ended up disgusting (I know, you're thinking "How can salsa be gross? It's so good!", but I managed it...).  Maybe a month later, after some gentle prodding, I decided I would attempt something.  I had a basic idea of what goes into good salsa (my childhood best friend's mom is famous for her salsa, and she once showed me how to make it... a loooong, long time ago... sorry, I don't know what's up with the repeated o's... long day at work?).  It actually turned out good.  I was a little surprised.

We now make this about twice a month.  It lasts us 1 to 2 weeks.

You will need two 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes.  The store brand works juuuust fine.  You could also use fresh tomatoes, just blanch them to remove the skins and go for it!

Drain them both.  This is important, unless you like really, really watery salsa (which I do not).

You will also need 1/4 of a red onion, a clove or two of garlic, 2 oz. of chopped canned jalapenos (or a few fresh ones, seeds removed), and a big handful of cilantro (depends on your taste).  Put all of these in a blender and add one can of tomatoes.

Puree this to death.  Chop it up really good so the flavor gets distributed throughout the salsa.  It should look like the above photo, but maybe even more green if you added lots of cilantro.  Remove to a separate bowl.

Now add the other can of tomatoes and pulse in your blender until coarsely chopped.

It's hard to tell in this photo, but it's not as smooth as the first mixture, because you want a few chunks of tomatoes.  Unless you don't... then puree away.  Your prerogative.

Now you need a can of green chilies.  This will add a little spice and some colorful chunks.  I'm all about the chunks in my salsa.  I like something with body, something my chip can hold on to, something I can sink my teeth into, ya know?

Stir in your chilies, pepper, and cumin.  Taste it with a tortilla chip and adjust seasonings to taste.  You may want to add some salt, but I usually don't.  I also never add sugar or vinegar.  Those things don't belong in salsa at our house.  Yours may be different.  Just go with it.

You should now have some delicious homemade salsa to stuff your face with.  Go ahead, you're eating so many vegetables... it makes my brain spin that something soooo tasty is basically vegetable dip.  Evidence that there is a God, and that He loves us.  Just sayin'.

Here's the recipe in full form:

Homemade Salsa
by The Spares

2 (28 oz.) Cans of Whole Tomatoes, Drained
1/2 (4 oz.) Can of Diced Jalapenos or 1-2 fresh Jalapenos (seeds removed)
1/4 Medium Red Onion (or whatever onion you have)

1-2 Cloves Fresh Garlic (you may sub garlic powder, just add it with the spices at the end)
1 Big Handful of Fresh Cilantro
1 (7 oz.) Can of Diced Green Chile Peppers
1/4 t. Black Pepper
1-2 T. Ground Cumin
Salt (optional)

In a blender, add jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro and one can of tomatoes.  Puree until smooth. Pour in a separate bowl.
Add second can of tomatoes to blender and pulse until chopped.  Pour into the bowl with other ingredients.
Stir in chilies, pepper and cumin.  Taste with a tortilla chip and add salt if necessary.

I'm not sure how much it makes, but I'd guess 4-5 cups.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 25

(Full list.)

A Picture of Your Day

Well... most of my day is spent looking at a (quite large) computer screen, sometimes happily typing away and other times sitting still with a furrowed brow (hoping for a revelation... please, God... I know you created Java... I know you know the answer).

I don't have a picture of my office space.  Mostly because I don't have a non-awkward reason for taking one.  Imagine me turning to my cubicle-mate and asking, "Excuse me coworker, would you mind taking a photo for me.  It's for my blog..."  Awkward silence.  "My mom wants to know what my work place looks like..."  (Insert awkward turtle...)  Imagine me reaching out my camera with my sweaty hands (because I'm nervous, I don't have sweaty hands all of the time... ewww).

See, it just wouldn't work.


Here's the substitute image.  This is pretty accurate, except my hair is curly and I have a desk too (she probably has one, it's just cropped out).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 24

(Full list here.)

Hey, we're almost through this.  I'm glad the end is in sight.  This is taking a lot longer than 30 days. Oh well.

A picture video of something you wish you could change

Let's try a video today.

I forgot to list this on my favorite songs post, but I really like this song's message.  I wish I could change the way many of us feel about ourselves.  I wish that we could see that we are beautiful in God's eyes and free to be who we are.

by Bethany Dillon

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life

I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory


You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful 

BETHANY DILLON lyrics are property and copyright of their owners.
"Beautiful" lyrics provided for educational purposes and personal use only.
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