Vacation to Houston before my New Job!!

I’m starting a new job on August 3rd. I can’t hardly believe it, it feels so far away. I need to be organized. When I think of all the things to do I begin to feel overwhelmed. It’s a feeling that comes easy. Do I have more I my plate than most? There is no way to truly know but I think my perception drives my expectations. If I have more to do it than others I am allowed to break. I have permission to suck and drop the ball and feel trapped by my commitments. If I have less on my plate then I feel guilty when I panic or feel anxious over my responsibilities. If I am among the many people, chugging along with the same duties then I am boring and that is depressing. Life can be so joyous and unique yet so mundane and typical all at the same time. So instead of finding truth, instead of defining where I fit in, I will try to rejoice in my ability to juggle more than my peers. I will smugly enjoy a moment of calm when I watch everyone scramble while I take a breath. I will try to be glad that I am no different from my neighbors or a family on the other side of the world. Here is to the last moments of my vacation which I have felt all the emotions about:

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Some great memories of my last week; in person and over the phone.

elena nap

Elena’s first nap with me

baseball hand
Felix is so hot at the Salt Dog’s game his hand is sweating!
elena lupita's

Vanessa (Roche) and Elena at their favorite Mexican joint, Lupita’s


felix and beans

Father and Son lunch at Mazatlan in Lincoln. Later Felix barfed a little beans, he overindulged; boy loves his frijoles!

elena drink

Elena and I partying it up! She crashed early.

catan

Playing Catan with these two was a blast…. BECAUSE I WON! woopwoop

plane drink

My last cocktail of my vacation was free on the plane because I traded seats so a family could sit together. My empathy for people with children has increased to say the least. I feel like a super hero when I get to do anything without Felix; it’s so much easier!

7 weeks to go!!

The awesome cake made by Kristina.  It was tie-dye inside!

The awesome cake made by Kristina. It was tie-dye inside!

A few of the finished products in the nursery closet.

A few of the finished products in the nursery closet.

gift gifts go yotes Group-tie-dye Joren and I had our baby shower last weekend.  It was pretty crazy to get our first baby clothes with little hangers and all.  Things are getting real!!

We are feeling pretty prepared when it comes to stuff (not really in other areas lol) but there are a few essentials left on the registries so here are the updated lists for those who have asked over the last week or so.

http://www.target.com/baby-registry

http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/153YC2PKP47ZJ

 

Enjoying our cake

Enjoying our cake

These ladies went all out.  Thank you Anne, Kristina and Anna!

These ladies went all out. Thank you Anne, Kristina and Anna!

The tie-dye master!! No shower games for us, just creative and functional fun :)

The tie-dye master!! No shower games for us, just creative and functional fun 🙂

Baby Baby Baby!!

Officially in the third trimester…. Aaahhhh!  🙂

This would all be easier if we were closer to our families.  We could use a little family wisdom (wisecracks) and support.  We are taking birthing classes from a Doula, started our registries and decided to go cloth!  It’s really difficult to know all of what we NEED and stuff we can do without.  Check out our lists so far on Amazon and Target, we’d love to hear your stories and suggestions!

http://www.target.com/baby-registry

http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/153YC2PKP47ZJ

Joren and I are in the full swing of all things baby.  Baby names are being narrowed down to a short list.  The plan is to wait until we meet him to make the final decision.  Hopefully we don’t leave the hospital with a Mr. Baby Ries but you never know…. I am quite the procrastinator 😉

Stuffed Pumpkin

Joren and I signed up for the winter community sharing agriculture group which is organized by Community CROPS in Lincoln.  It is our first season participating and I am really enjoying our experience. Not only do we get locally grown seasonal produce but we also get cheese, eggs and this week… honey!  All items are from people/farms living Lincoln or neighboring communities that I have visited with over the years at our seasonal farmers markets.  Every Thursday I pick up a variety of seasonal produce from the Community CROPS office.  Some items we have enjoyed this season are turnips, radishes, basil, chard, greens, salad greens, sweet potatoes, sage, carrots, beets, and many types of squashes.  I don’t know if we will buy a share during the summer months because I looove going to the markets and there just wouldn’t be a need with the amount of produce we get each week.  I haven’t had the gumption to do anything with the larger, more unique squashes so I have a little fall collection. 

This week I was finally inspired!  Community CROPS sends me an email early each Thursday telling me what I will be picking up and they also helpfully include links to recipes featuring the items I will be receiving.  This one caught my eye because it is so unique and reminded me of the flair that a big turkey has during a holiday dinner.  Here is the big voilá for the vegetarian in my life!

Serves 12

The stuffing for this entrée can be made two days ahead.

  • 1 lb. wild rice blend
  • 2 lb. fresh spinach, stemmed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups sliced button mushrooms (1 ½ lb.)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced, divided (3 Tbs.)
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans, or 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 6- to 8-lb. cooking pumpkin

1. Prepare wild rice blend according to package directions. Transfer to bowl.

2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in bottom of skillet. Add spinach, and cook 4 minutes, or until wilted. Drain, and cool, then squeeze dry, chop, and add to rice in bowl.

3. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, 4 tsp. garlic, 1 Tbs. sage, and 2 tsp. thyme; sauté 10 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in corn and kidney beans, and sauté 3 minutes. Stir mushroom mixture into rice mixture. Fold in pecans, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut top from pumpkin, and scoop out seeds and pulp.

5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, remaining 5 tsp. garlic, 2 Tbs. sage, and 2 tsp. thyme in bowl. Brush oil mixture over inside of pumpkin. Fill pumpkin with rice mixture, cover with top, and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until pumpkin is tender when side is pierced with knife tip. Uncover, and bake 10 to 20 minutes more.

So here is the pumpkin.  It is an heirloom pumpkin, notice the pale outside color.  It is also a shorter shape which was perfect for baking whole, any taller and it may not fit.  Make sure to test the size of your pumpkin so you can place the rack in the right place before pre-heating the oven.  It isn’t included in the recipe but I rinsed the outside of the pumpkin to get all of the earth off.  If you buy yours in a store and it doesn’t have dirt on it you should rinse it to reduce the amount of possible chemicals or detergents.  Do this rinsing prior to cutting into it.  If you wait there is the risk of rinsing contaminants into the pumpkin!

The inside was much like spaghetti squash.  As I scooped out the seeds and continued to hollow out the pumpkin it began coming off in strings.  This is how it falls apart as you cut your pumpkin wedge on the plate, in strings almost like noodles.

Like the recipe suggests, I pre-made the stuffing but kept the toasted pecans separate and waited to add them right before I stuffed the pumpkin.  I love crunch so I didn’t want them to get too mushy.  I also combined all of the ingredients for the rub a few days ahead so the oil was very well infused with the garlic, thyme and sage.  It was soooo fragrant and delicious!  The bigger chunks of herbs wouldn’t stick to the sides of the pumpkin so make sure that they are evenly distributed along the bottom.  This is another good reason to pre-make your rub, so the oil will carry the flavor to all parts of the pumpkin.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stuffing was a perfect fit!  On goes the lid and into the oven.  The pumpkin made sure I didn’t forget about it by making little popping and hissing noises.  Do not be alarmed, this turned out to be okay, our pumpkin browned a little but did not explode.

The pumpkin was in the oven for two hours so Joren made sure I didn’t go hungry.  Here he is making guacamole which we ate along-side some tasty roasted red salsa made by our friend Johnny.  Thinking that I would probably need some meat to sustain me through the cooking time I tried my hand at homemade paté.  I combined a Martha Stewart recipe with one from foodandwine.com.  After the paté was in few small dishes, covered in wax paper and in the fridge Joren and I plopped on the couch with our chips, dips and wine to watch a movie (53 more minutes on the pumpkin!)

Finally the two hours passed.  Be careful now.  The pumpkin is hot and heavy.  The recipe didn’t give guidance on how to cut and serve so I decided to cut like a pie or pizza, in wedges.  I just plopped it onto the plate with the skin.  The pumpkin turned out so tender I think it would be dangerous to try and peel it before serving.  I loved the way it looked, smelled and tasted. Great colors with the wild rice, beans, spinach, pecans and of course the pumpkin and it smelled just like the holidays.  The herbs used in this dish are the same as a traditional stuffing.  It was so good and hearty that we forgot about the paté in the fridge.  Oh well, I didn’t have a yummy French baguette to toast anyway.  Mañana mañana.

You can only eat ONE!

Who would have thought a beet sandwich would be good?!  Well me I guess 🙂  This is what I made for dinner last night.  I must say, Joren was skeptical but it was delicious.  Try it out, it is a healthful version of your typical grilled cheese.  I even think kids will love it. The roasted beet becomes sweet.  The warning is referring to a possible side effect the next day….   You can message me if you want details 🙂

http://www.chow.com/recipes/11101-roasted-beet-and-chevre-grilled-cheese

 

“Lazy” Sunday Afternoon

Ok I am not really lazy.  My brain is working hard.  It’s just all the sitting I’ve been doing!  I have spent the last two days reading multiple chapters trying to learn Statistics, gather research for my major case study, and critique some atherosclerosis research.  As I start to sound as if I am complaining….  I am not!

i know there will come a day when I long for the joys of being a student.  Everyday I do something different. Everyday I learn something new. Everyday I am challenged.  Although I hope to be able to say the same thing when I have entered the work-force I know it will not be the same.  So I will happily sip my coffee and be occasionally distracted by the action at my local cafe.  Life is good.

Tasty Husker Saturday Update

Before the work begins, it’s about to get warm in this kitchen!

A success! Dishes were tried by all and enjoyed by most.

Coming in 1st place… Gluten-free Salmon Patties with Creamy Dill Sauce!!!

              16 mini-cakes  Active Time: 30 minutes  Total Time: 45 minutes

 

Ingredients

  •   6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •   1 large onion, finely chopped
  •   2 stalk celery, finely diced
  •   4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  •   2 15-ounces canned salmon, drained
  •   4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •   1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  •   3/4 cups instant potato flakes
  •   1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    Thanks for your help Anna!

 

Preparation

  1.   Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2.   Heat 3 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion   and celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; remove from the heat.
  3.   Place salmon in a medium bowl. Flake apart with a fork; remove any bones and skin. Add egg and mustard; mix well. Add the onion mixture, potato flakes and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 16 patties.
  4. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining patties.
  5. Bake the salmon cakes until golden on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Creamy Dill Sauce. Serve salmon cakes with sauce.  Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Browning some salmon patties

Creamy Dill Sauce

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Coming in close second… Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken!!!!!

Sam, Micah and Luke agree… “It tastes like Chipotle!”  A fine compliment to the chef!

Is this round 2? I think Joel likes it!

Crock Pot Mexican Chicken

Cook Time: 5 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken broth
10 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup taco seasoning (one store-bought packet)
45oz can diced tomatoes
6oz can diced green chilies
15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:

1.  Mix all ingredients together and submerge frozen chicken breasts into mixture. Place Crock Pot on High and cook for 5 hours.

2.  Take chicken out and shred. Place back into Crock Pot and turn the Crock Pot off. The flavors will adhere to the chicken and make this moist and tender.

3.  Adjust the moistness of the chicken by draining some liquid if you are serving tacos.

Red Lentil Thai Chili

A great meat-free, heart healthy twist on your traditional chili.  This steamy dish really hits the spot on a crisp fall day.

We all know we should eat more fiber. Fiber helps maintain regular digestion… ya know… being regular? It’s good 🙂 Fiber also lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, aids in weight loss, lowers your risk of hemorrhoids and other diseases of the colon.  Red Lentil Thai Chili has 15 grams of fiber!!! That is 62% of what the ladies need and 47% for men.

If you don’t like it I will use this spatula as a weapon!! (The birthday girl aside Mrs.Pelton)

 

An important antioxidant Vitamin A is found in orange veggies and in this chili at 200%. It may be vegetarian but it sticks to your ribs with 14 grams of protein from beans and lentils and really satisfies with savory coconut milk. Red Thai curry paste gives it enough spice to make you feel adventurous without scorching your taste buds. Cilantro adds fresh color and a fresh bite.

Quorn Bread

 

Quorn bread (made from quinoa vs. corn) was served as well as some Kale Carrot Apple Juice to finish off the meal!

It was fun to create this special menu and thanks

to Anna for making this great opportunity possible for me.

The Pelton’s are gracious hosts!

Tasty Husker Saturday

I have the challenge and pleasure today of catering a Happy Birthday Husker Lunch. This meal is gluten-free, corn-free, rich in calcium and antioxidants, low in fat and cholesterol and delicious!  Stay tuned for pictures and an update on how the event goes.

Spicy Dessert Green Beans

Uncle Joseph, you always have the best advise. My next exam is Friday so I have a whole week to research some dirt 🙂

Mom Juan, sorry your book ruined your day off… did you goof off a little anyway?  I hope so. “Other” things always get done around the house when studying an unattractive subject is the alternative!

Sunday Joren bought some green beans, among other things, at the farmers market and was quite creative. He fired up the grill, trimmed the beans, laid them out on some foil, added two pats of butter (not margarine) and seasoned them with garlic, crushed red pepper, and cinnamon!  It was a risky move but it paid off. I enjoyed eating them leftover straight out of the fridge as finger food.  Yum!

Let me know if you’re daring enough to try it and/or if you like it.