I’ve missed this… slowly getting back into the kitchen!

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Last Night's Dinner, Yum!

Pan seared steak, oven roasted Brussels sprouts, rice pilaf, sweet corn, and bread.

A lot of life has happened since I have posted and cooked last… and not a lot has happened. Pain issues have really dominated, and so my husband and I decided I needed a live in Doctor. We got Dr. Murphy B Cat on April 8th. He has an amazing bedside manner, and is expertly trained in snuggles and headbutts. He truly has changed my life by lifting my spirits and keeping me company. What a good kitty. I want to get back to cooking and sharing it with you all (when I say “all” I know I am probably talking to myself). I have a surgery scheduled for mid August that will hopefully help with my pain issues. Yay!!! In the meantime don’t give up on me, I am still trying to fix my fear of flavor. My husband and I made the MOST amazing roasted Brussels sprouts (see above) and I can’t stop thinking about them. BRUSSELS SPROUTS!! I am truly evolving :). I wish everyone (and anyone who would actually ready my blog) the very best. Happy cooking, eating, and living!!!

Let me write you a prescription for snuggles.
Take two snuggles and call me in the morning.

Nervously trying something new – Edited to explain failure!

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Nervous I need to make a drastic change. I am going gluten free, low-carbohydrate, and low-sugar. Whaaaaaat? Whyyyyyy? I won’t bore you with my silly reasons, but it is necessary at this point. I am pretty nervous. I hope I will be able to do it, and I hope I will get the results I need. My recipes will reflect this new change. Any one else out there have recipe suggestions for me or site suggestions? Please let me know!

I am currently reading the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD to help me on my GF/LC/LS journey. Wish me luck friends :D!!

HOLY FAILURE! I ended up having a really terrible, long pain flare up, and blah-blah-boring-details, realized this was not the diet for me. It wasn’t going to help me with my particular issue. Good for the people who can stay on this diet. I love gluten, I love sugar! It must take a lot of strength to make this change (as with any change). I admire those that can do it. I am sure once you adjust to the change you LOVE it. I just never got over that hill.

Garlic Sweet Potato Chips

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Garlic Sweet Potato ChipsI’ve just started making things without recipes lately. Granted this one didn’t require too many brain cells, so don’t worry, I am not too impressed with myself. It just is kinda neat that I have some sort of cooking intuition beyond how long to cook popcorn in the microwave for (which, by the way, I am a MASTER at – my record is 3 unpopped kernals and no burned pieces, woot). Anyhow, I was laying on the couch in the dark with a headache, thinking I wouldn’t cook anything when I was struck by the vision of sweet potato chips dancing in my head. I jumped up and this is what I made…

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of garlic power (I went BIG and put 1/4 a teaspoon, but that stuff is POWERFUL)
  • drizzle of olive oil (you know me, I don’t measure this part)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Wash that tuberous root with all your might. You are leaving the skin on! Okay, peel it if you feel more comfortable. I’ll wait.
  3. Cut it into super thin slices. I was crazy, and used the side grater on my cheese grater. It worked, but barely.
  4. In a mixing bowl toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic power.
  5. Spread evenly and in one layer (as best you can) on a lightly greased baking sheet.Sweet Potato Slices
  6. Bake for ~25 minutes. Halfway through I flipped them. I would watch these guys like a HAWK. They can go from beautiful and orange to burned really quickly. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the slices. They are well worth hovering around the oven! Enjoy :).

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan Cheese

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Asparagus Ready to Roast

I have a new found love for asparagus, or “asp-er-gas”, as I like to call them. They are delightfully tasty for something so green! Asparagus are defying the notion that green = blech. This is wonderful in my fight to Fixing my Fear of Flavor! I want to give their little spears a high five (and then gobble them up). Below is my easy recipe for roasted asparagus with garlic and Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 clove of minced garlic OR 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • drizzle of olive oil (I’m sorrrrrrrry, I never measure, I just pour to my heart’s content)
  • sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Break off or cut off the ends of your asparagus.
  3. Soak and rinse and soak and rinse/clean your asparagus in your favorite manner. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you will know I like to soak and rinse (and repeat) my veggies because I like to avoid food borne illness – and that is just how my loving mother taught me how to do it, and she’s the BEST. Clean as you wish. Give them a little pat dry.
  4. In a mixing bowl gently toss the asparagus with olive oil and garlic.
  5. Lay out the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Pop in the oven set to 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  8. When you take the lovely, roasted asparagus out of the oven squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over them and then give them a dusting of Parmesan cheese (I personally like to give them a bit more than a dusting, but I am a cheese weirdo). TA-DA.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan

The Sunshine Award… Awwww, Shucks!

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Sunshine AwardI giggle a little as I happily accept The Sunshine Award from the sweet, and lovely Lori of Creating Beauty in the Kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I think of the Sunshine Award as a great way to connect to other bloggers. Lori genuinely used The Sunshine Award for 10 blogs she felt brought Sunshine to her day (awwww, thank you)! The truth is Lori does a great job of bringing Sunshine herself. Her sweetness comes through in her writing and her comments. Lori and I have similar stories… we both started out as non-cooks whose husbands cooked for us. We suddenly found ourselves in a furry of cooking and  <3 LOVING <3 every second of it! Lori is a low glycemic cook, who uses fresh ingredients, and is often gluten free. You can find anything from breakfast, to dinner, to dessert on her beautiful page.

This is what Lori had to say about me on her blog: “I love this blog, because I can totally relate! Similar to my story, this is a woman who is learning to cook, learning she loves it, and learning to be creative with it and enjoy rich flavors! Please go visit her site! (Fixing My Fear of Flavor- I think you bring sunshine in your realness and vulnerability, and in your fun personality that comes out in your writing! Glad to get connected with you!)” (it is really sweet, major blush session)

Here are my questions to answer:

  1. Tell us something unique about yourself. I used to work at a library in college and I LOVE to shelve books. I find it really relaxing. Maybe that is more on the weird side than the unique side :).
  2. What is your favorite part of the day, and why? Anytime I get to spend with my husband, because he is the sweetest, funniest, most amazing person on Earth, HELLO! Why else would I have married the man, sheesh ;) ?
  3. Silly or Serious? Soooooo silly.
  4. If you could bring some sunshine to anyone today, who would it be and why? My parents because they are so darn cute and sweet.
  5. What is your favorite movie? Terminator 2. Arnie Baby.
  6. Do you have any pets? If so, what kind? Missing my Pookie, she was my kitty who passed at 19 in Oct.
  7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live? ITALY
  8. Who regularly brings sunshine into your life? My husband, my parents, my sister and brother, my in-laws and brother in-law. Basically family. Oh and my friends :)! I just love people.
  9. The beach or the mountains? Oh dear. Uhmmmmm MOUNTAINS. I love to hike.
  10. Has your blog turned out to be how you expected when you first started it? Why or why not? I thought my blog would just be about my posting to empty space, but now I have realized blogging is about connecting with other people. So fun!

THE RULES (Only if you want, no pressure – you can just do part, all, or none of it)

1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post and/or on your blog
2. Link to the blogger who nominated you
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself
4. Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award
5. Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them
6. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer

I nominate the following blogs:

  • Fibromy-Awesome @25pillsaday – Mary is a girl struggling with pain and illness with humor, strength, and vulnerability. I find her writing raw, emotional, humorous, and really amazing.
  • Emma @helloapron – first of all I love the name of this blog. The silly picture of Emma is what hooked me. It is light hearted, silly, but don’t let that fool you, the recipes are great.
  • Caty’s Corner @catymills – This girl can cook! She is an aspiring baker and food-truck owner. I love her real pictures of the process of cooking and her intros about life.
  • Dinner of Herbs @dinnerofherbsblog – This blog pops up in my reader with some of the most beautiful dishes! Yum yum yum. This blogger is a great cook and you can tell she is a smarty to boot.
  • Thomas Cochran @coveredinbeer – Because he is hysterical and everyone should laugh.
  • Fae’s Twist and Tango @fae-magazine – Beautiful food, creativity, and storytelling all rolled into one. This is a stunning blog.
  • Steven @madebyyouandI – Gorgeous photos, inspiring cookery, supportive and encouraging blogger – really wonderful site.
  • Butter basil & breadcrumbs @butterbasilandbreadcrumbs – I recently got introduced to this beautiful cooking blog. The recipes are innovative and beautiful. I can already tell this blogger is sweet and pours her heart into her cooking. I can’t wait to try these recipes. (BB&B, you obviously don’t have to do this Sunshine Award since Creating Beauty just nominated you too, but I thought you deserved another nod and link on my website).
  • Everybody Loves Pretty @everybodylovespretty – Doesn’t the name say it all? This blog has really mouthwatering photography of their recipes. I am itching to try their Balsamic Brussels Grilled Cheese. Bookmarked and excited to keep going back.
  • Feed Me Color @feedmecolor – This blogger started this site due to the need to be on a meal plan. This blog has turned carb counting and a meal exchange program into a creative colorful adventure. The dishes are creative, beautiful, healthy, and delicious!

If you want to participate here are your 10 questions (I’m going to borrow some from my list):

  1. 1 sugar or 2?
  2. Savory or sweet?
  3. What is your favorite book (if you can’t narrow it down, do you have a favorite author)? Have you read it more than once?
  4. Why do you blog?
  5. Beach or mountains?
  6. If you could bring sunshine to anyone today, who would it be?
  7. What silly superpower would you have (let’s get ridiculous here, no flying or super strength)?
  8. If you could morph into an animal what would it be (I’m reaching here, 10 is a lot to think of ;) )?
  9. If you could hop on a plane to ANYWHERE right now, where would you go?
  10. Is this the silliest thing you have ever done?

Phew!

Artichoke and Spinach Dip Stuffed Chicken Breast

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Artichoke and Spinach Dip Stuffed Chicken BreastI saw seals and a snowy owl at the beach today! That put me in a great mood (as I love animals so much), so I decided to make up my own recipe. I am sure it has been done before, but this is my silly version. My husband and I truly loved it. I hope you do too! The fun part about it, is that it is a recipe for artichoke and spinach dip stuffed chicken breast AND artichoke and spinach dip on the side.

I will warn you, this is very heavy on the artichokes. Yum yum yum yum. I can’t get enough of those wacky green thistles. Even before my adventure into trying new foods (which started about a month ago) I was an “artie” eater. My family is Italian, so “arties”, along with zucchini were commonly found on the dinner table.

Let’s talk ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz (1 cup) of sour cream
  • 16 oz (2 cups) of cream cheese
  • 1 package of shredded cheese mix (I chose a Parmesan, asiago, provolone mix)
  • 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach – thawed (or fresh – cooked)
  • 1 box of Birds Eye Artichoke Hearts or 9 oz of jarred marinated artichokes, chopped (however you like it, I like this frozen brand when I am not using fresh “arties”)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • dried basil leaves
  • 1 jar or can of your favorite tomato sauce
  • a sprinkle of breadcrumbs (regular or seasoned, your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let’s make this happen…

Filling:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop artichokes and put in your favorite blue mixing bowl.Chopped Artichokes
  3. Mince garlic and add to the artichokes. Don’t they look like beautiful little doves? No? It’s just me?Garlic waiting to be minced
  4. Add spinach, 1 cup of sour cream, 2 cups of cream cheese, and 1 cup of shredded cheese mix to artichoke-garlic bowl. Mix well. Pour a half cup of mixture into a cup or bowl to be used to stuff the chicken breast. Pour the rest of the mixture into a baking dish.Pre-Cooked Artichoke and Spinach DipStuffing and Cooking the Chicken
  1. Cut each chicken breast down the middle as shown below.Chicken Breast cut down middle
  2. Using a spoon, add artichoke and spinach dip mix (from separate cup/bowl) to one side of the chicken breast.Artichoke and Spinach Dip on Chicken Breast
  3. Now close the chicken breast like a book, and pin it shut using oven safe un-dyed toothpicks. Place the breasts in a baking dish.Pinned down Chicken
  4. Salt and pepper your chicken breast to taste. Cover the chicken breasts completely in your favorite tomato sauce (any exposed chicken breast will dry out). Sprinkle dried basil leaves and breadcrumbs on top of the tomato sauce.

    Ready to Bake

    Ready to Bake

  5. Pop that stuffed chicken in the 350 degree F oven and set the timer for 25 min. Sprinkle some cheese on top and broil until the cheese melts (watching closely).
    Fresh out of the oven

    Fresh Out of the Oven

    The First Bite

    The First Bite

    DON’T TURN THAT OVEN OFF JUST YET!

You still have to bake your artichoke and spinach dip :D. Bake that glorious creamy, cheesy, “artie”, spinachy creation for about 40-45 minutes. Let it get to the point where it is bubbling and starting to brown. I baked mine for 20 minutes, and then when the entire thing wasn’t bubbling, cooked it for 5 more minutes, then 10 more, then 10 more again. I was going nuts waiting for that thing to finish cooking. I wanted to just dip some chips in it, burn my mouth and be in melty, creamy heaven already! But I am now. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip...Mmmmmmm

Artichoke and Spinach Dip…Mmmmmmm

Oh my goodness cute animals!

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Pookie

This is Pookie. She was my best friend. She past away in October at age 19. I miss her everyday. She was a darling love bug. Have you ever seen a prettier girl with a mustache?

I love animals, but this is a cooking blog. But I can’t help myself, animals are just too darn cute. Sooooooo, INFREQUENTLY I might post some picture or links on this page to cute and adorable animals that I just want to eat up with kisses. Is that so wrong of me?!

Today I went to the outlet of the river at low tide to see the seals. On my way I was fortunate enough to spot a Snowy Owl perched in a tree like a little model. Go ahead and make fun of my camera, it is what it is. Just know that I now think you are rude, and can’t believe you would mock a non-photographer for her lack of skills. Shame on you! ;) Anyhow… animals. Adorable, amazing, and they make me feel so happy inside! Happy Wednesday.

A Seal Seals Snowy Owl