armadillas


Ahhhhhhh would be the appropriate response

There are many occasions in life that require a little comfort food. I mean, come on! Is there anything that comfort food can’t cheer away for a bit? I think not! It’s good for a rainy day, a sucky day, a remembering day- you get the picture. Comfort food is also AMAZING at calming nerves. It’s like going out for ice cream because you scraped your knee only ten times better.

Today I’m in need of something comforting in my belly because right now my belly is full of nerves. I’m so stressed and distraught, I keep pacing the house like a lunatic. In a minute I’ll be cleaning. That’s the kind of serious I’m feeling right about now. See, I’m quitting my job. Yup, saying good-bye to income. It’s only a little restaurant job that helped me get through college, but I’ve been there so long I feel like my soul is slowly being sucked out. In other words, I’m miserable. I’m beyond miserable. I’m so unhappy there, just thinking about going back in makes my stomach churn. Not exactly a good sign. When life puts you in a situation like this, the only thing to do is follow your gut and remove yourself from that situation. Your gut knows more than you would think.

So I’m taking the bulls by the horn, taking some risks, and am leaving. What’s my next move? TEACHING! I have a degree in Spanish Language and Literature. There is absolutely no reason for me to hold on to a job that is unappreciative. Life isn’t about holding on to safe fall-backs. It’s about challenging yourself, seeing what you can accomplish, and throwing safe out the window! It’s about living, and right now that is not what I’m doing. Today I submitted my application to two school districts. Tomorrow I might do a third as well. No more being afraid to take a chance and see what happens. Plus, I really do love Spanish (and really enjoy grammar)! Why not put my degree to use and share my knowledge. It makes total sense. Who would’ve thought…

Which brings us back to comfort food. What I’m doing right now is seriously risky for me. Between paying back my student loans and other life occurrences that pop up, I can’t afford to go without a job. But I’d rather bet all my ducks and be happy, then feel the way I have been feeling over the past month. It’s not worth it. Besides, I feel pretty confident about my applications. Stay positive! And that’s why I’m making rice and beans for dinner. I love rice. No matter what style, it’s at the top of my list of foods I wouldn’t want to live without. The first time I had rice and beans, I thought I was in heaven, which is rather appropriate since I was at a potluck at my dad’s church. There was definitely some divine intervention at play.

I’ve never made rice and beans before. And today I cheated by buying store bought sofrito (which inspired me to make rice and beans as my comfort food in the first place). I didn’t use beans either, but substituted frozen peas. Next time, I would also like to cook the rice with chicken broth/stock instead of water. I think it will give it a richer flavor. You know what? The dish I came ended up with probably should even be called rice and beans? But it wasn’t too bad. Room for improvement, but a keeper nonetheless. I really can’t wait to make it better though. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE rice and beans…

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sofrito
1 package sazon
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas

Spoon the sofrito into a sauce pan. I kept mine on medium heat. If a certain someone broke your measuring spoon the other day, just eyeball it with a regular spoon

Add the tomato sauce

And the sazon (perhaps some chicken bouillon would be good here too if you don’t have any broth on hand)

As the sauce begins to bubble, hurry up and toss in your peas. Give everything a good stir

Finally, mix in your rice and water (or chicken broth if you choose to follow my sound advice)

Wow, so easy! Bring your rice mixture to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID! There’s no need to stir. Just let everything cook together. Have some faith. When your boyfriend walks in and lift the lid quicker then you can shout STOP, hit him out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon. Amateurs…always needing to stir and shake things that don’t need shaking or stirring. Hmph!

After 20 minutes, your arroz con gandules will be nice and fluffy. Some of it might stick to the bottom a little bit. That’s okay. Give it a big turn with your wooden spoon and serve

I cooked up some chicken marinaded in mojo, too. And some corn on the cob. Mmmm. Have I told you the secret of boiled corn on the cob yet? Adding sugar to your water. Like my mama taught me, ha!

Advertisements

Bees knees

Like I said, the Alfredo deserved a post unto itself. It was creamy like I wanted. The peas added great color. And of course, the bacon provided a nice crunch and amazing flavor. Here’s to bacon!

But seriously, this was so easy to make and yet seemed like such a fancy meal. Perfect for someone’s special birthday dinner. Of course, it would have been even better if there had been shredded cheese on hand, but the stuff in that bottle/can thingy worked just fine…though, I am out of Parmesan now. Boo! Time to go to the market again

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of pasta (I used penne)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups Parmesan, preferably grated
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • Pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil

Cook up the bacon (chopped up)! Which in my opinion is the best part of the dish. I admit I have a problem…

Melt the butter in a large pot. Make sure it’s big enough to hold all your pasta later. In the meantime, boil your pasta in separate pot

Once your butter has melted down, add the cream. Oh, and keep in mind that we don’t want burnt up cream so keep your heat on medium to medium-low. Whatever you’re comfortable with

After only a couple minutes, it’s okay to add the cheese. Stir stir stir! Terrible picture if I do say so myself

Your cheese is getting all melty and your sauce is thickening up. Squeeze in the lemon juice! Mmmm

I’m not adding salt to mine, but I’m pretty generous with the pepper

Toss in the peas please. I bet broccoli would be great in this. Ooh, or some chopped up red peppers. Ideas…

It doesn’t take too long for your peas to warm up, just a few minutes. By now, your pasta should be done. Drain and dump in right into your Alfredo pot

Now for my favorite part. Add the bacon. How exciting!

Because the basil in your box garden is going crazy, sprinkle some on top

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

 

Ah, now that’s some good pasta. All is right in the world for a glorious moment with my fork in my mouth.

Tijuana


Sparkle

Today is a special day. Not my special day, no, but it might as well be as excited as I’ve been, counting down the days and suffering from fits of enthusiasm. But it is not my special day. Today belongs to the boyfriend. It’s his birthday! I love birthdays. I love everything about birthdays. I love the cake. I love the ice cream. I love the special dinner. I love the presents. Oh how I love the presents. I don’t think there is anything more fun than planning out a gift, of searching for just the right fit and then wrapping it up to give away. Of course, this year has been a little tight for my post graduate self, but that’s okay. It just means I’m going to have to have some kitchen adventures! I can pour just as much love into a dish as I can into a gift. Probably even more love. And it’s all for love, right?

I’m thinking Alfredo. Rich, decadent, creamy Alfredo. With bacon. And peas. And lemon. Delicious! If I asked the boyfriend what his favorite meal was, I’m pretty sure he would give me some noncommittal answer. I can’t blame him really. Even I have the hardest time with that question. But from several observations, I think Alfredo might be at the top of his list. I’d bet money on it. Plus, it’s just a great celebration dish in general. It’s not like you can eat this Alfredo everyday. No ma’am. We are going big. That means real cream. Of the heavy variety. And let’s not forget about the real butter. Did I mention the cheese?

But that’s only half of it. We also need a special cake. Something homemade. I don’t even want to get into a discussion about those store bought concoctions. Bleh! I really wanted to make a German Chocolate cake. I was ready to take on the challenge. Then I discovered something called a sparkle cake. How could I pass on something with a name like that? Sparkle! Like the sparkling flames of birthday candles. Like the sparkling magic of celebrating your birthday. I just like the imagery that comes with a word like sparkle. So, my German chocolate recipe has been set aside for future use and we’re going to make a light, refreshing cake instead, which is probably more suited for a hot July day anyway

As much as I would love to fill this post with excruciating detail on how I prepared the cake, today I’d rather just show you the result and send you on over to the Pioneer Woman’s site. It was her recipe I used after all. But let me tell you a few things. I’ve never made an angel food cake before and I’m not sure I’m inclined to make one again. The batter was sticky and finicky and I didn’t even want to lick the bowl afterwards. But the cake was exactly what I was looking for and everyone enjoyed it.

Strawberry Sparkle Cake recipe courtesy Ree Drummond

The batter got really big. Whoa!

If you don’t have an angel food cake pan, a bundt pan will have to do. Ungreased.

I really thought it was going to overflow all over my oven

I tried the best I could to dig the cake out of the pan. I heard a rubber spatula works wonders

I resorted to a butter knife

The filling was my favorite part. Strawberry jello with whole strawberries!

Whipped cream smeared all over = heaven

The cake was a bugger success than I hoped. Woo hoo! But dinner…dinner was a great hit! In fact, it was such a great hit I’m going to give the Alfredo it’s own post. Stay tuned!