Tuesday, October 15, 2013

...to drain the whole sea, get something shiny...

seeing: Gray, gloomy, cold day outside. It's been like this since last Friday. I can't say I honestly mind it. 

smelling: Cinnamon coffee from this morning that I don't want to throw away because it smells so good.

hearing: "Take Me To Church" by Hozier and the new Polica album. Both amazing.

tasting: A homemade almond cookie....why is almond-flavoring so comforting? I think I remember a Dahl short story in which the taste of almond was connected to a poison. Arsenic? 

touching: A sweater! YESSSSSS. Finally. I love wearing Fall/Winter clothing so much more than Summer clothing.

Shannon is getting to come visit Thursday, finally. I haven't seen him in a month, and I have to say that's about as long as I can go without my partner in crime before I start to go a little nutty. I don't even care that it's only for 48 hours.

In other news, we just bought our tickets to head out to Utah for Thanksgiving! I've never been to Utah, and I've never met Shannon's family before; so I'm very excited. I've also been looking at pictures of the Cedar City and Salt Lake City area, and ohmygoodness gorgeous. It's beautiful out there in the winter!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday Album

I've really struggled with coming up with reasons to motivate myself to blog, and yet it's something I've keep coming back to as something I "want to get into". I think that as a way of training myself to write more in this context, I'm going to come up with something (or things) each week that I blog about that aren't THAT difficult to upload/brainstorm/put together. One of these things, will be some sort of music blog. I listen to loads of music. I work a desk job, and when I get stuck with a tedious task that needs to get done in a certain time frame, I always plug one earbud in (I keep the other out so that people can get a hold of me without scaring the bejeezus out of me), and I just zone out.

Every Tuesday, I like to check out some of the new albums that are released. I won't lie, I'm super biased and choosy when it comes to looking into new music. I base my selections for the day on reviews from trusted sites, past enjoyment of the band, size of the album or EP, and yes....I hate to say this, but album cover art. I seriously DO base my initial, gut choices on album art. Sue me.

However, today, I didn't get a chance to plug myself in to any new albums or tune-age. So I'm going to just discuss one of my favorite albums that sort of proves my "album art" point.

Young the Giant is definitely a band that I liked from the get-go. They really only have their first, self-titled album, but it's AMAZING. I was immediately struck by their awesome album cover in the beginning, partially because of my love of color and partially because it was a really basic design.

I hardly ever buy albums, because I'm addicted to Spotify. But when I got into Young the Giant, I became a weirdo-addict, and I needed everything I could have that the band put out. I bought their two vinyl album. Yeah, I'm that kid. It didn't have any open-interior art, which was kind of a bummer for me, but I still adored/adore the album. The records are each two-sided with different colored center stickers on every face (four total). It's a really bright, colorful addition to my super pitiful vinyl collection.

Anyway, back to Young the Giant...last summer, I found out that they, along with a TON of other great musical acts, were going to be playing in Montreal. I decided to go on a vacation to the Osheaga music festival with two of my close friends, and we had a BLAST. Young the Giant was one of the top four acts I was most excited to see, and they ended up being my second favorite group to play. I can't really pinpoint exactly what it is about this band that I love so much. It's probably a combination of Sameer Gadhia's super sexy, crazy-amazing voice and the fact that each tune just has it's own personality in some way to me.

Everyone that loves YtG with me, has their own personal favorite song which tends to be either "Apartment" or "Cough Syrup" (both excellent choices). I have to say, my favorite is still "My Body".

Something about the chorus in this song just absolutely floors me. I just want to jump around with my arms up in the air for the rest of my life. It's one of my all-time favorite "feel good" songs. Listen to this song on full blast in your bedroom with the door closed and TRY not to dance. I dare you.

Let's marinade it

I've been trying for awhile to figure out what sort of marinades I like most. I've never been a huge fan of anything REALLY spicy. Curry and asian spices are also not always my favorite. However, I do love tangy marinades as long as they aren't overdone. I had done red wine marinades in the past, but this has been HANDS DOWN my favorite. The original recipe didn't call for as much olive oil on the steak, and it didn't call for ANY garlic salt with the meat...but it needed it. The caprese salad that goes along with this can go either on top of the steak or on the side. I also heated up some garlic bread, and that went really well with this.

Red Wine Marinated Flank Steak with Caprese Salad

1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 (2 pound) flank steak, about 1 inch thick
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 small shallot, diced

Caprese Salad
2 fresh mozzarella balls, chopped into pieces (about 1/2 cup) 
10 basil leaves, freshly chopped
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
Whisk olive oil, red wine, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl until combine. Add flank steak to a ziplock bag or baking dish and pour marinade ingredients over top. Marinate (in the fridge!) for at least six hours, flipping steak a few times to coat with marinade. When you're ready to make the steak, heat the broiler in your oven on the highest setting and place an oven rack directly underneath. Broil steak for 6 minutes, flip and broil for 5 minutes more. If your steak is 1-1 1/2 inches thick, this should result in steak that is done medium-well. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then slice thin strips on an angle. 
While the steak is cooking or resting, combine quartered tomatoes, shallot, mozzarella (I always lightly dry my fresh mozzarella with a paper towel before I add it in so everything isn't so watery), basil, garlic salt, and pepper in a bowl. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil and balsamic, then pour over top and toss to coat. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

...white wine simmering = my favorite smell

I’ve been meaning to cook this meal and blog about it for awhile now, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I really should be cooking MORE when I’m busy or down in the dumps, because it absolutely boosts my happiness level, and it’s a great distraction.  Anyway! I finally have made this recipe that I’ve been waiting to make for a long time! Another thing I did recently that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, was invest in a few herb plants. I would recommend doing this if you’re into cooking at all – such a time/money saver (plus it smells great)! I just want to throw out there that this is NOT a low fat meal at all…

Almond Crusted Halibut
It says this serves six people, but you can easily cook 4-5 pieces of fish. I don’t think the minced almonds would cover 6 full pieces (I’ve edited this recipe to the way I will continue to make it, but I got the original one off of allrecipes).

-2/3 cup dry white wine (I used a cheapo sauv blanc)
-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
-2 tablespoons minced shallots (I always use green onions instead shallots)
-1 sprig fresh thyme
-1 bay leaf
-2/3 cup heavy cream
-10 tablespoons unsalted butter - chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
-3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
-Salt and pepper to taste
-6 (6 ounce) fillets halibut
-1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
-2/3 cup minced blanched almonds (I couldn't find minced, so I just minced them myself in the blender)
-1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
-1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Make beurre blanc: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine, vinegar, shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Boil until liquid has evaporated. Stir in cream, and boil until liquid is reduced by half; decrease heat to low. Whisk in the 10 tablespoons of butter. Do not allow sauce to simmer, or it may separate.

2. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in chives, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm by setting bowl in sink with hot water.

3. Preheat oven on broiler setting. Pat fillets dry, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Heat oil and two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute halibut fillets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned, and just cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet, and cool 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, almonds and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Brush tops of fillets with egg, and spread with almond mixture.

5. Broil fillets 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned (watch closely - every broiler has its own personality!). Place fillets on individual plates, and spoon beurre blanc around it.

I served this on brown rice and we had simple little salads with it. And it was absolutely delicious. I definitely should have let the wine and cream cook longer, because the sauce didn't thicken the way I liked it – but I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with white sauce…unless you try to make it lower fat or something. Bump that. If you’re going to try to eat healthy, make something out of a health food magazine. However, in my opinion, when you make meals like this every once in awhile – just go all out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

plague already?

It's only October and I'm already battling a disgusting cold. Whhhhhyyyyy? Probably because I've been pretending that my body doesn't need things like sleep, any type of nutrition (Cheetos are not a food group?), large quantities of water....yeah that's probably why. Work hasn't been too stressful lately, so I can't blame that.

All I want when I'm sick is a heating blanket, a Tim Burton movie, and some Vicks. However, when I live with Joan (my mother) I get platters like the one shown below on a regular basis.

Is that not the gosh darn cutest thing you've ever seen? If I wasn't so drippy and disgusting right now, I'd go mug on that lady. Alas, I'm not in good form to be cuddling up to Joan. (my father has also been pretty doting...he brought me tea yesterday. TEA!)

Anyway, I need to get in tip-top shape for this weekend, because I finally get to stay home and attend to the multiple DIY projects I've been meaning to do over the last few months. Figure yourself out, Immune System! I've got stuff to do!

Alright, back to the Nightmare Before Christmas and a very imperative NyQuil coma.

Monday, October 8, 2012

for laura

I think it's because I've really been missing her lately (I miss her all the time), or perhaps, I've been spending too much time watching old, feel-good movies and soaking up the beautiful fall; I really miss my little sister tonight.

Laura deserves an entire post unto herself (multiple eventually), because she's hands down, flat out my best girl in the whole world. Not in a cheesy way - in an incredibly real, every hour of everyday way. Laura is 22 (two and a half years younger than I am) and she was just married this summer. In many ways, she and I are very different. I'm ultra-sensitive to what people think of me, while Laura is constantly self assured and un-phased by the opinions of people that don't TRULY know her. I'm more of traveler/experimenter and Laura is more of a homebody/settler. Laura is self-reliant, calm, resourceful, and INCREDIBLY humble. Even though I'm her big sister, I find myself constantly watching how she handles tough situations and thinking, "Where did she learn that from?" Not this mad-clown of a sister, who can turn into a puddle of mush over gaining a couple pounds or a boy not thinking I'm the bees knees. No Sir. She's usually the one listening to my wounded phone calls that almost always end with something like "Thanks for listening to me unload all that garbage...I'm sorry I just bawled to you for an hour."

Yep, when it came to the world around us, Laura has always (since toddlerism), been willful, strong, and vocal about almost everything.

I have far too many stories of Laura (many funny and MANY that bring tears), however tonight I'm reminded of a fall evening not very many years ago when I had been out with my friends late once again. I came into my parents house and went straight to my room. Quickly opening my computer to scan blogs and Facebook updates, it wasn't until a good 20 minutes rolled by until my mother came into my room and suggested I go talk with Laura. "She seems a little down tonight." After knocking on her door and pushing her for information for about a half hour, Laura finally broke down and said very matter-of-factly, "It's you. I need more time with you. I know that might seem selfish, and I know you're busy...but sometimes I wish you'd slow down and just be here more."

I wanted to shout, "That's not selfish! I love spending time with you! I had no idea!" Instead, I held her and apologized for not noticing that our quality time had been vastly insufficient. My sister gave me something incredibly important that night. She made me realize that our loved ones don't always know they are important to us, and she vulnerably let me know I was important to her. That's probably one of the toughest things to do sometimes.

Anyway, what I wanted to get to (and the reason I'm posting this somewhere you will find), is that you're pretty super, rockin' Laura Marie. You're my favorite.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

...first of many Fall posts

Oh man, I've really been struggling with keeping this thing up. I'm going to officially put a reminder in my calendar to sit down at least twice a week and come up with SOMETHING to record on here (this will hopefully keep me more organized/on top of getting my pictures uploaded and edited....I struggle with that lately).

This time of year is my favorite. There is something about autumn that is so comforting and relaxing to me. It could be that the dwindling down of road trips, weddings, family reunions and such allows my calendar to open up more. Or it could be the fact that with football season getting into full swing (GO RAVENS!) or the baseball playoffs livening up (GO ORIOLES!), people are more likely to stay home and eat chili while cheering on their favorite sports teams. Maybe it's the excitement of Halloween and Thanksgiving soon approaching; I'm not sure.

All I know is that the other afternoon, I came home to my parents doing yard work. My father was cutting down tree branches, while my mother with her gardening gloves raked up huge piles of multicolored leaves. The smell of the sun baking the dried leaves, and the cool air carrying the smell of wheat and alfalfa being combined. It smelled wonderful. It was so nice to pick up a rake and help them.

That night, my sister came to visit. She and I went in for a bonfire, and as we drove into town, the moon was already huge and bright by eight o' clock. Sitting around the fire with our friends in hats and sweaters, taking pulls of red wine and passing it around the circle...I realized how lucky I am. I'm so lucky to have evenings like that, that move so slowly, you actually can absorb and appreciate every moment of it.

I love this season.