Monday, March 28, 2011

Anniversary Dinners

A year ago this weekend, I was taping up paint swatches in the kitchen (remember the big blue v. red debate?) and cleaning like mad.

This weekend, I did no painting and just a bit of cleaning. And a whole lot of cooking... as evidenced by the four wine bottles ready for the recycling bin, and a counter full of dishes drying by the sink.

Why's that? Because, in honor of it being a year since I closed on the house, I made a big ol' roasted chicken for Sunday dinner with family and friends. Plus dinner for friends on Tuesday and Friday nights last week. (That makes three Dinner Project checkmarks in the last six days, if you're helping me keep track.)

The recipes for Sunday's chicken dinner came from these cookbooks, all of which I received as gifts this year:

Entertaining with the Seasons (Williams-Sonoma) ~ Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
Snow Country Cooking (Williams-Sonoma) ~ Citrus Rosemary Chicken
Stop and Smell the Rosemary (Junior League of Houston) ~ Mile High Biscuits

I won't reprint the recipes here, but I can't recommend these cookbooks highly enough - the latter two are staples in my mom's kitchen, and they are all in frequent use in my own house now, too. I love everything I've ever made from them.

Citrus Rosemary Chicken:

Mile High Biscuits:

All together:

Cousin, brother and college friends

And since I'm holding out on you for the above recipes (forgive me for not wanting to be sued by a publishing company), here's one I can give you. I made it up in the car on the way home from work on Friday, knowing that I had a dinner guest arriving in 45 minutes and a mostly bare refrigerator. Miracles are possible, my friends.

Balsamic Feta-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Arugula
{makes three burger salads}

1 lb. ground turkey
3-4 Tbsp feta cheese
balsamic vinegar (about 6 tsp)
honey (about 3 tsp)
baby arugula (about 3 cups)
olive oil for drizzling

1. Prepare ground turkey as you would ground beef for a hamburger (add salt and garlic powder at this stage, if desired). Divide turkey into three portions, then divide each portion in half.

2. In one hand, form the turkey into a small round the size of your palm, then use your thumbs to create an indentation. Place about 1 Tbsp of feta cheese in the indentation, then use the other portion of turkey to seal off the top of the patty. Flatten out as necessary (they'll still be more rounded than a normal burger patty). Repeat to make two more patties.

3. Cook burgers over a medium-high flame (I used a griddle on the stove, but a grill would work great, too). After a few minutes, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of each patty and flip. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and honey on the other side, then flip after a few more minutes. Continue flipping until burgers are cooked through and carmelized on the outside.

4. Prepare bowls with arugula and drizzle with olive oil. Place hot patties on top.

We enjoyed ours with hash browns and roasted cauliflower & broccoli :)

Lastly, I have to give a shout-out to my dear friend Rachel who stopped through town on her way back to the West Coast. We both left California six years ago, and rarely have the chance to see each other. It was a short visit, but I'm glad to at least had the chance to teach the girl what an apple corer is...

We had a long talk about how one finds a home - literally and figuratively - after leaving a childhood home, and it couldn't have been timed better. I've been thinking a lot lately about how grateful I am to not only have a stable roof over my head, but to be settled here in the Twin Cities. I love having so many friends and extended family members nearby. I love my neighborhood. I love the lakes, the theaters, the restaurants and the people. I even love the weather. And I'm lucky to have found a home that fits my personality and my values, I'll admit.

So if you're wondering why I spend so much energy on the house, the garden, the dinner project, this blog and photographing every detail in between, know it's because it means so very much to me. A year ago, I knew it would be a life-changing endeavor. What I didn't know was how it would make me a more grateful, intentional and (I hope) generous person. Hard work it may be, but it's all worth it. Thanks to all of you who have helped, visited and celebrated with me over the last year.


P.S.: For some reason, I had in my head that I closed on the house March 28th. So I had an anniversary post all lined up for today that I've now rewritten considering the real closing date anniversary was the 25th (or so I realized this morning). C'est la vie.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

the first glimmer of spring

I have a backlog of posts that are waiting to be published, but this one couldn't wait.

Because guess what? The longest, hardest winter of my life is over (I'm not exaggerating - we've had over 80" here in Minneapolis). Don't get me wrong - there are as many reasons to love winter as any other season. And I'm sad to pack away the skis and boots.

Except that now I have this:

The first tulip (or crocus, or daffodil - who cares) is peeking through the soil on the south side of the house.

You know what I have to say to that?


Mind you, there's still snow and ice on the ground:

(If you look carefully, you'll see the little pop of yellow in the lower left quadrant.)

But I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I've been waiting since October for these babies to show their pretty faces.

Guess this means I get to start planning the rest of this year's garden too :)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

La Gastronomía Americana

My sister has been making me jealous with photos of the food in Spain. So I'm retaliating with pictures of all the meals I cooked at home this weekend. La Gastronomía Americana. Take that, Sarita. (Miss me yet??)

the perfect breakfast: hash browns, mushrooms and an over-easy egg:

nutella and banana panino:

ginger and wasabi tofu salad:

fig and prosciutto pizza with arugula (this recipe):

pork chops with tomatoes and kale (from the Willams-Sonoma: Florence cookbook):

Sunday night dinner: