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Hmmmm. It was easy. Delicious. The family is full, leftovers are in the fridge, and sundaes await in the freezer–when we recover from the food coma. Today, I attempted stuffed Portobello mushrooms, marinated and breaded pork chops, and corn-on-the-cob. After reading multiple recipes, I decided on the following ingredients for the mushrooms:

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms, rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, seeds removed and chopped
  • 6-7 fresh basil leaves to taste, chopped
  • sprinkle of parsley or chopped parsley
  • 2 cups spinach, washed
  • handful of shred parm or mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more to spread on mushroom caps
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2.  Remove the stem of the mushrooms by lightly twisting the stem from the head. Rinse the soil away and pat dry. Set aside.
  3.  Thinly chop the leek until you reach the coarse green of the upper leaves. Finely chop the onion.
  4. In a sauté pan, pour in 2 tablespoons oil. Heat to medium and add leeks. Stir and let sauté until leeks soften slightly. Add onions.
  5. While onions and leeks soften, chop the garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, basil, and parsley, if using fresh.
  6. When onions are softened, add in zucchini. Allow to brown slightly. Add in basil, bell pepper, tomato, and parsley. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat through and remove from heat. 
  7. Add in spinach. Stir in and allow to wilt. 
  8. Stir in cheese. Set mixture aside. 
  9. Pour a very small amount of oil into your palm. Use to coat the cap of each mushroom. Place each mushroom, capside down, onto a foiled baking sheet.
  10. Spoon the vegetable mixture into the caps. Sprinkle with addition cheese and pepper.
  11. Place in the pre-heated oven. Set the timer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Enjoy 🙂
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Hello. It’s been a while. I have been entirely focused upon a new job, but I have been missing you. It is December 1st, and true to December’s nature, the clouds opened and dumped upon us. From floods to whiteouts, we’ve had it all today. And the trees and hills have been transformed into a picturesque winter wonderland. I didn’t even mind driving 30 behind the snowplow on the way home from work. At least it cleared a nice path, like a carpet rolled out before me.

Because the snow was piling up so quickly, I was dismissed from work early. I decided to prepare a simple and easy dinner to warm our tummies on a cold day: breaded chicken, buttered noodles, and spinach. Quick and easy. Warm and delicious. And to top it off, Boyfriend stood up, cleared away the dishes, washed, dried, and properly shelved everything. What a day!

Dear December,

Hello, old friend.

Thanks for springing me outta work early. Wanna arrange a snow day for me tomorrow?

I’d be ever so grateful.

Love,

Me

I am waiting at a red with my window cracked. There is a stillness in the air: a stagnant, heavy, muted pause interrupted only by the slightest wisp of air, just enough to make the wind chime murmur. Like waiting for–something. Like holding your breath. Like being underwater. Like your lungs are full and yet wanting more.  With eyes and ears wide open, and fingers spread wide across the wheel trying to cut the thickness, I am waiting.

Chickpeas, cooked over medium heat with a touch of olive oil, shredded carrots, and a Cajun seasoning make this salad amazing. Tuck it all into a whole wheat pita with a bit of vegetable hummus for a super easy lunch.

Last evening, while visiting my grandmother, she asked me to take a look at her ancient Kirby vacuum. Apparently, the dust particles in her vehicle had demanded attention earlier in the afternoon, and somehow that led to the disassembly of the vacuum for reasons that still escape me. So here’s this Kirby. The belt is hanging loose, pieces are flapping, but Gramma says, “I still managed to vacuum all the rooms after I brought it in from outside. I don’t know if it picked anything up though. It was making just the most horrible sound.” Please keep in mind here that Gramma is rather hearing impaired, requiring two hearing aids which are never worn. Yes, Gramma, I bet it was loud.

So, I’m crouched on the carpet, playing with the levers and belt and she keeps saying how easily Grandpa would be able to fix it if he was still here. And that was that: a challenge from the grave. This vacuum is obviously older than me, so I figured it was beyond all reasonable hopes that the user guide was still lying around. I drank the rest of my ice-cold water, enjoyed a piece of sponge candy, kissed Gramma goodbye, and made my exit with one Kirby in tow.

Back home, I googled vacuum belt repair on Kirbys, only to learn that it is considered the most complicated belt change in the vacuum industry. Ok, Grandpa, bring it on!  A few YouTube videos later, and Presto! One fully belted Kirby! Then, the real test….plug this baby in and watch her go…ready, set…..ummm…the power is on, right? Shoot.

I sat cross-legged, talking to this vacuum in the middle of my livingroom floor, asking the powers-that-be to give me a break. Grandpa, I could have really used your help just about then. It just had to work. I checked my plug again. Made sure the room switches were on. Fiddled with every movable piece of that Kirby. And clicked the burgundy button once more. And….a most satisfying whoosh filled up my home. I ran the Kirby around the room, making fan-like designs, wondering how many of my messes, of my mother, of my aunt, and uncle, this silly vacuum has erased over these many years.

Dear Grandpa,

I miss you.

And your obsession with spit and polish.

Thanks for the challenge.

And thanks for helping me out last night.

I hope I make you proud.

                                                                             Love,

                                                                             Me

 

 

I have been away….far, far away in a world filled with half-arsed meals, heavy on the cocktails. I’ll be back soon. Must…eat…real….food….

Look!

Despite Mother Nature’s early attempts to drown my tommy toes*, here they are!

*My brother is a tomato hater from way back and has referred to tomatoes as “tommy toes” for as long as I can remember. It stuck.

I told you I had a plan (involving Tupperware) and promised to let you know how it all worked out. Here we go:

I made a list during the previous week, plotting out fruit salads, green salads, pasta salads, chicken recipes, sandwiches, and healthy snacks that would travel well and keep for about the duration of four days. That sounds easy enough, well at least when you’re planning based on foods that you like. Now take into consideration that I was preparing these dishes for my better-half. He works road construction, out-of-town now, and giving him anything frou-frou or elaborate was totally out of the question. So the ingredients to make stuffed baby bell peppers filled with herbed cheese jumped the shopping list ship, as did hummus, pita bread…”Keep it simple, Babe.” That was his only request. My only request was that he discontinued the consumption of multiple microwave frozen meals from Wal-Mart.

And since I would be preparing all this food anyways, I decided to make a big Sunday dinner, for both his family and mine, while preparing and packing lil tubs of good things that travel well and don’t look frou-frou. After a very successful grocery trip, my afternoon was spent chopping, dicing, marinating, mixing, baking, preparing for company, and sending boyfriend out in search of one single egg. It was all totally worth it!

We enjoyed:

 a fresh fruit salad with large chunks of pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries,

green salad with iceberg, romaine, spring salad mix, finely sliced red onions, grape tomatoes, and shredded carrots,

 pasta with diced celery, tomato chunks, red onion, and Italian dressing,

corn bread,

marinated and grilled BBQ chicken legs,

corn on the cob, and homemade pickles.

 And I had plenty of salads, chicken, and baby carrots and celery to pack up…

 So all this, and apples, and oranges, Nature Valley bars, whole wheat rolls and bread, fresh lunch meat, spicy mustard, spinach and feta burgers, yogurt, and even some cookies, water, and Gatorade were packed up and iced in big coolers.

Dear Boyfriend,

Eat all these good foodies!

Try to avoid the salt-laden and fried foods surrounding you

in that far away place

where I cannot cook for you (but wish I could).

Love,

Me