Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cook Something: Three Bean Salad and Fresh Corn Cakes

So...remember when summer vacation meant lounging around lazily and doing whatever your heart desired?  Yeah.  I haven't seen any of that y et.  My first month of summer has been filled with 2 cite checks, summer school, and tons of other school stuff.  Still waiting on some real free time.

But summer has meant that I've been home at night to cook.  I'm really working on minimizing our meat consumption, because...well it's a little out of hand.  Summer produce really is a beautiful thing, which makes basing entire meals off of it a piece of cake.  Corn cake, in this instance.

To my vegetarian friends, this one's for you.

So on the plate tonight is a three bean salad and fresh corn cakes.  I followed this recipe and they turned out wonderfully.   They had a fantastic sweet/savory balance and weren't too heavy or dense.  She served hers with a very cute tomato and avocado salad.  But as the boy constantly reminds me, "if I'm not going to feed him meat, then I have to serve something with a little bit of heft."  So I perused a hodge podge of various bean recipes I found on the internet and ended up coming up with my own.

Three Bean Salad

  • 1 14 oz can each black, pinto, and kidney beans.  Drained but not rinsed.
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion, soaked in a couple tablespoons of red wine vinegar for approximately 10 minutes.
  • the kernels from 1-2 ears of fresh corn
  • 1/4 cup avocado tomatillo salsa (recipe below)
  • 1 avocado roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 serano finely diced (optional)
Mix everything except the avocado in a large bowl.  Immediately before saving add the chopped avocado and gently mix.  I wait to add the avocado until serving to prevent browning.

Avocado Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked removed and cut in half
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 jalapeƱos/seranos
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
Roast the first 3 ingredients  under a broiler until slightly charred and softened, around 10-15 minutes.  Add to the bowl of a food processor along with the onion, avocado, and lime juice.  Pulse until smooth.  This should keep in the refrigerator for approximately one week, but I like to eat it with chips and on it doesn't last that long in my house.

This truly was a simply and very satisfying meal, even without any meat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bringing Home Yogi

After Roy passed away, Jason and I knew that we would adopt another lab.  We weren’t sure as to the when and decided we would let the decision happen naturally.  Sometime after Roy’s death one of my friends alerted me to the DFW Lab Rescue Society and the arrival of a couple litters of puppies.  The puppies were not available yet, and likely wouldn’t be for several weeks.  She knew that we were still grieving over the loss of Roy, but suggested that if we were even the tiniest bit interested we should start the application process because it was fairly long.

That night Jason and I talked over the decision.  It was much sooner than we expected, but it seemed like the golden opportunity.  And even if we weren’t ready when the puppies came available, we could always decide to adopt later.

And then we took a peek at the soon to be available puppies.  Is there anything cuter than a puppy?  I’m pretty sure I melted about a dozen times looking at those darling little faces.  But Jason…he picked out one instantly.  He pointed to a picture of a fuzzy chocolate boy.  That’s the dog I want.  The sweet boy was dropped off at a local pound along with his brothers and sisters.  The shelter has a 5-day policy and the little guys were scheduled to be euthanized the day they were saved by the DFW Lab Rescue Society.  All of the puppies came down with Parvo and were patiently and loving nursed back to health by their foster family. 

So we started the application process.  It was long.  There was an extensive application, then they review your application, contact your vet, and decide whether or not you pass phase one.  Then there’s a home-study to determine whether or not your home is suitable for a lab.  Then they re-review everything and decide whether you receive approval to adopt.  And after all of that you’ll only get to adopt a lab if the foster family approves you.  The lady who did our home study kind of scared us, because she told us that the competition for puppies was always high.  The application process went fairly quickly for us and were approved to adopt a new lab about a week before the puppies became available.

We finally met the little chocolate lab on Thursday.  He ran around the corner and immediately ran up to me.  It was love at first sight.  We were both head over heels for the little guy.  His foster family had a meeting schedule for all of the puppies at a Petco on Saturday and told us she’d let us know of her decision by Sunday.  I was busting at the seams to know if they’d choose us…so I did a little puppy stalking and drove over to see him.  It was a good thing I did, because the foster mom let me know that she’d picked us to adopt him and that I could take him home later that day!  And when I got out of the car to pick him up, he came bounding up to me and buried my face in kisses.  His foster mom said she knew then that she’d made the right choice.

Poor quality, but yes, that's me laying with him in the kennel. 

 We decided to name him Yogi Berra (continuing our baseball theme and because he looks like a little bear).  He’s only been with us a couple of days, but he has integrated wonderfully into our family.  He is the calmest, sweetest, and most content puppy I have ever met.  Everyone is shocked with how well behaved he is for only 4 ½ months. 

Losing Roy was hard and always will be.  But when I look at this last picture, I know in my heart that life unfolds the ways its meant to, both the triumphs and the challenges.  We prevented Roy from dying alone in that shelter.  We made the last 6 months of his life the very best that we could.  And now we have a new little guy and have the chance to provide him the very best home that we can.  I know that Roy is smiling down and proud of us for adopting another “death row pardonee.”

Welcome Home, Yogi Berra

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Patio Time: Antipasti

I love the way Italians think about food.  The fact that meals aren't always complicated, but they're always fresh and delicious.  Friday evening marked the end of a long day and busting my bum in the kitchen was the very last thing I wanted to do.  So I channeled my inner Italian, picked up some antipasti type foods (roasted tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, goat cheese, dry salami, some fresh bread, and an avocado; because they are my favorite).  Uncorked a bottle of red, and we spent the early evening lounging on the patio and pretending we were somewhere in Italy instead of in Dallas.  One can dream.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cook Something: Brunch and Easter Dinner

I don't want to talk much about the specific details of this brunch or the rest of the day.  Suffice it to say that it was a lovely day for Jason, Dolce, Roy, and myself and I'm very thankful that our last day together was so special.

Moving along...I love brunch.  Love it.  It is my absolute favorite meal.  I mean, when else can you eat sweet food, savory food, and drink libations before noon without being judged?  Winner.

The key to a good brunch is to balance foods you have to prepare/cook with those you do not.  For this brunch, the only thing I actually cooked was the asparagus tart.  I simply laid the "lox, stock, and berries" {you know you missed the bad puns} in a pretty arrangement on a platter.  After that it was simply a matter of pouring the coffee and blood orange soda {for mimosas} into pretty containers.

Asparagus Gruyere Tart - Thank you Martha.  Super easy and very tasty.  I would recommend cutting it in much smaller pieces than she suggests.  It was kind of difficult to bite the large pieces.

"Lox, Stock, and Berries" - strawberries, brie, blackberries, smoked salmon topped with capers, fresh sliced baguette, and cream cheese

Beverages- ice coffee and blood orange mimosas.  

Easter Dinner:

Onion Souffle - probably the most delicious thing I have eaten in a long time.
Sous vide lamb, with a mustard thyme glaze.  If you have no idea what "sous vide" is stay tuned, I'll be singing its many many praises soon.
Yeast Rolls - not pictured
Pecan Peas - you can almost see them behind the candle.

 Easter Dessert:

Lemon Cream Butter Cake - This was absolutely heavenly

 Perfect meals for a perfect day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Plan Something: Texas Themed Party

I finished my last final on Monday at 9:18 pm.  I was exhausted.  For some reason this finals period was probably the most exhausting one yet (except of course for the 1L year).  But the end of this year is super exciting for another reason.  One of my very best friends and my first friend in law school is graduating next weekend and then the day after moving to Nebraska!  We're in the evening program at SMU, which actually takes 4 years instead of the regular 3.  Kel decided to accelerate and graduate in the regular 3.  It's a bit bittersweet.  We're super proud of her for graduating, but I am super super going to miss her.  I can't imagine not having class together and I really can't imagine her being a 3 hour plane ride away instead of a 3 mile car drive.

I knew we had to throw a party to celebrate...on Thursday.  Which gave me exactly 2 1/2 days to plan and prepare, and 5 hours of each day was filled with work.  It was a party planning whirlwind.  But we managed to pull it all together before the party time, and I think everything turned out really cute.

Since she's leaving Texas, we decided to throw a Texas themed BBQ, complete with backyard washers and a giant Jenga set.

To make the giant banner, I taped together two long pieces of craft paper.  I found an image of Texas on the internet that just happened to be set to print at 150dpi...meaning that I could enlarge it without losing it's quality.  So I used a nifty program called Posterize that let's you enlarge images.  I then taped all 24 pages together, cut them out, and "Franken-Texas" was complete.  A little bit of paint and viola!  Giant banner.

The Set-Up:  We had a table for the food, a table for drinks and sweets, and three tables for people to sit and eat.  All the tables were decorated with a tiki-lanterns, a large mason jar filled with flowers and two Texas flags, and a smaller mason jar with a tea candle.  The mason jars were wrapped in twine and had a circle punch cutout of Texas tied to the twine.  And no BBQ is complete without the check-board table cloth.

Drinks and Sweets Table (left to right):
Fruit skewers
Mrs. Amy's famous banana pudding (sorry that recipe is top-secret)
Raspberry beer (sounds gross, taste delicious)

Food Table:
We had the BBQ catered in by a guy who works with Jason...and who also happens to be opening a restaurant soon.  I've eaten A LOT of BBQ in  my life and this was easily some of the best.  In addition to  the meat, we served Jason's family's potato salad, BBQ beans, and Mexican style corn with cojita cheese, lime juice and a chile powder/salt/cayenne pepper/paprika sprinkle.

"Well Wishes" Table

My fake calligraphy is getting pretty decent, if I do say so myself.

Love you KelBell!