Weeknight Meal Win!

Cooking on a weeknight can be hit or miss for me. After I get home from work it seems there's never enough time to do everything I want to do: work out, cook and eat a healthy meal and then still have time for hanging out with friends or watching Mad Men on Netflix. Too often one of those things has to go.

Let's just say there's a reason why I have Green Papaya and Dewey's saved in my contacts on my phone.

But on Thursday night last week I was determined. I needed something delicious and healthy - pan-seared ahi tuna with pesto butter, smashed red potatoes and fresh green beans - and it had to be done in around 30 minutes so I could eat it and get to whiffle ball in Ault Park on time.

It all started here, with an ahi tuna steak from Trader Joe's that I had stuck in the fridge to defrost the night before, some prepared pesto, butter, fresh green beans, potatoes that needed to be cooked soon (they were starting to grow eyes, as you can clearly see), a little half and half and a little nutmeg (also, not pictured, olive oil and salt and pepper).

The first thing I did was de-eye the potatoes, rinse them and cut them into halves. Then they went straight into a pot of water to boil uncovered. The water should be cold and be just enough to cover the potatoes by an inch. I got another, smaller pot of water on to boil as well, for the green beans.

Next, I grabbed a hearty helping of green beans, snapped the stem end off each one and the snapped them all in half (I love doing this to fresh green beans...it reminds me of helping my grandma when I was little). They got a rinse, too.

Once their water was boiling, in they went.

While the beans cooked uncovered for a little while, I started preparing the pesto butter. I went with half a stick of room-temperature butter and a dollop of pesto.

Then smashed and mixed.

Until was all blended and looking like an amazing buttery pesto mess. Oh how I love buttery pesto messes!

I tested a bean around this time and decided that they just needed a few more minutes to reach what I consider to be done. I like my green beans to be tender, but still have a little crisp to them. Then I checked the potatoes by sticking a knife into a few to see how easily it went in. Potatoes are done when there's very little resistance to the knife.

When both my beans and potatoes were done, I drained them and set the beans aside off the heat. The potatoes went back onto very low heat and got a couple splashes of half and half to help with the smashing.

(What's that cooking in the pot on the back burner? Oh...just some of the best stuff ever. Rhubarb!)

Anyway, after smashing for a bit, I added a sprinkling of nutmeg. Seriously, potatoes and nutmeg are the bomb. Try it. You will love. it.

I stirred this around and smashed a little more, then covered and removed it from the heat.

Now - tuna time! Cooking fish is totally easy and nothing to be uneasy about. The best thing (besides it being super good for you and low in calories) is that fish cooks in practically no time. So! Fish is your friend! Have it a couple nights a week and feel good that you're getting the omega-3 fatty acids that make your body happy.

I let my pan heat up over medium while the tuna got a very light coating of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then - in it went.

I cooked it only about three minutes on the first side, then flipped it over and cooked for about two on the other. If you want yours a little more done, then cook it for a minute longer on both sides. But don't over cook it. No one likes over-cooked meat.

I moved fast, and everything came together on the plate in a half hour - potatoes, lots of green beans, tuna and pesto butter. So good! Best part? The pesto butter starts to melt and get into everything - making it all a buttery pesto mess. And you know I love those.


Memorial Weekend Round-up

So...I crossed off seven things from my to-do list for this long weekend - barely half the list. But! I'm going to focus on the things I did get done and declare it a Productive Long Weekend.
  • I did plant my herbs, then dumped them all over the porch and then replanted them. Double productive.
  • I did make more ginger syrup.
  • I also made brunch (inspired by this Pinterest recipe) for myself on Saturday. I filled them with rhubarb!
  • I did nap - three times.
  • I spent some time on a porch with a beverage (it was water - too hot to drink anything else).
  • I sorted laundry.
  • I ran errands.
  • I did go to the Shepherds' for a Saturday evening cookout. We had a feast! Burgers, dogs, sea salt and cracked pepper chips, tzatziki potato salad, chocolate chip cookies...oh and corn on the cob.
  • I did help lead worship at church.
  • I did go to OTR for brunch with Kirstie before we saw The Merchant of Venice.

  • I did finish a book (review to come!).
  • I painted my nails.
  • And went canoeing!

  • Followed by lunch at The Works with the whole group, a shower, another nap and dinner at Nada!
How was your weekend? Productive? Lazy? Over too quickly?


Memorial Weekend To-Dos

On the Memorial Weekend To-Do List:

1) Plant the rest of my herbs
2) Make more ginger syrup
3) Dust
4) Wash curtains
5) Clean the top of the fridge
6) and the inside of the fridge
7) Just clean in general
8) Workout
9) Nap
10) Spend some time on a porch with a beverage
11) Help lead worship at church
12) See The Merchant of Venice at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
13) Listen to bluegrass at The Comet
14) Go canoeing
15) Skype with the fam

What's on your to-do list?


Wedding May

This month I got to go to two weddings! I love weddings. I guess I just love love.

On May 5, my lovely friend Liz married Cameron. The wedding was perfectly garden-themed and the weather perfectly fantastic. The rain threatened all day, but right before the ceremony the clouds parted and we had blue sky, sun and birds chirping! (Also, Liz's dad built that beautiful arch. So fitting for the new Arches!)

The reception was also perfectly lovely. I ate some of the best reception banquet food I've ever had (crab-stuffed tilapia or something like that), and I had some real corkers at my table.

After dinner some of us took a moonlight stroll across a seriously beautiful golf course. The whole thing was just a delightful event. It was so fun to celebrate Liz and Cameron as they danced to a live jazz band, cut cake, toasted and dashed away to the sound of bells! 

Two weeks later, on May 20, one of my dearest college friends got hitched (in a stunning dress from Spain, no less). Sarah and Kris make my heart happy with their story of waiting on the Lord. How faithful and good He has been to them!

The wedding was in Michigan, so as an added bonus I was able to stay with Kelly and Liz at Kelly's aunt and uncle's lake house about an hour away. It was even Liz's birthday that weekend! Spending time with them was icing on the cake!

But back to the wedding. One of the best parts was that it was the first time the four-fourths had been together in quite a while (now a good three-fourths are married!). We attempted to snap a quick pic together, in which I have an interesting hair and neck situation, but in which the bride looks radiant.

Slightly less awkwardly rushed was a picture of the triple. I love us.

And that's it for my 2012 weddings! Unless someone decides to up and get married this fall/winter, I think I'm done for the year. 

How many weddings do you have this year?


Shrimp Pesto Pizza

The other night I came home from work, changed my clothes, filled my water bottle and rushed to the gym for a workout. By the time I got home an hour later I was hungry! I needed a meal that would come together easily and be done before Gossip Girl started at 8 p.m. So...homemade pizza it was! I modified this recipe to suit my own tastes and what I already had in the fridge. From start-to-finish this probably took me 40 minutes, even with de-shelling the shrimp. But you can totally do that ahead of time and keep the de-shelled shrimp in the fridge for up to four days if you're into planning meals!

You'll need a bag of thawed white shrimp (I used 51/60 count, which I thought were the perfect size, but bigger would also work, too), pizza dough, fresh mozzarella, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, prepared pesto and cornmeal and cooking spray which are not pictured here because I forgot (oops!).

First up, you've got to de-shell the shrimp. If you're shrimp-shell averse, you can probably find shrimp where this step is already done for you. But peeling the shell off is strangely therapeutic, so I say just get in there and do it!

You'll want your shrimps to go from looking like this, with the tails and the feelers still on:

To this:

Now, spray a sauté pan with cooking spray and put it on a burner over medium-high heat. Add enough shrimp for your pizza preference. I didn't use the whole bag - probably half. The other half I saved in the fridge to go with other yummy things - omlets, pasta...the options are almost endless.

Sprinkle the shrimp with the garlic powder and Italian seasoning - just a few shakes. Then cook for about a minute. Flip them, and then 30 seconds more. They're going to cook all the way in the oven, so this is just to get them started.

Take them off the heat, turn the oven to 400 and go to work on your pizza dough. Sprinkle some corn meal on a pizza stone and then roll your dough out onto it.

Spread the pesto - not a ton, because pesto is oily and you can over-saturate the crust with it. I'd say about half of the container if you've got one like mine. Then arrange the shrimp on top of that.

Finally (and this is the best part), slice some fresh mozzarella.

Oh yeah.

Lay a couple slices over the pizza and then pop it in the oven. Check on it after about 15 minutes and if the crust needs some more time to get golden, then give it a few more. When it's done, cool for a little bit, then slice and serve!


May Birchbox, xoxo!

Oh heck yes. I love Gossip Girl. I love Birchbox. And what showed up in my mailbox this week but a Gossip Girl-themed Birchbox! Let's take a look inside.

First up, a very handy bottle of blendercleanser by beautyblender.

Normally, I use my face wash to clean my makeup brushes. But how nice to receive a bottle of cleanser that's just for keeping your tools in top condition! 

I was excited to try this one for sure - Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm. A true BB cream like this is supposed to cover all your bases - moisturizer, sunscreen, serum and foundation - and leave you with one product where you once had four. I'd say that this particular brand left me wanting in the moisturizing department, but that's probably because my skin's dry. The second time I used it I added a layer of my normal moisturizer underneath and it was fine, but not really keeping with the whole less-is-more idea of a beauty balm.

Another Color Club nail polish! This one in Disco Nap. It's like my fingers are tipped in gold leaf! I think this polish would make an excellent accent nail.

(p.s. I just love these little bottles of nail polish! I feel like they're the perfect size, because I won't feel so bad when I get tired of them and there's more than half of a full bottle left.)

This stuff smells amazing. Amazing! Arquiste L'Etrog is the name of the perfume trapped in this little vial and OMG is it delish. It's warm and very slightly citrusy - totally not sweet. So interesting! I put on just a few dabs to my wrist in the morning and I can still smell it into the afternoon. Too bad the price tag of a full bottle leaves me agape - $165!!

The "lifestyle extra" in this box is a GG-themed note card and envelope. So that's nice. Also, I got a Twistband Skinny Headband in my box. Here's the thing: For some reason, my head doesn't wear these types of headbands well - you know, the ones that go all the way around the head. They always end up slipping further and further back. Plus, in an earlier Birchbox, I received a Twistband Hair Tie to try out and it stretched out and became useless after like three wears. So, I don't have high hopes for this headband...but I suppose we shall see. 

Anyway...here are my Birchbox goodies - all in a row! If you want to get in on the Birchbox action (and get deluxe samples sent to your mailbox), then join! Just use this link to do it: https://www.birchbox.com?raf=6tm7o


Baby corns!

This weekend, by a fortunate twist of events, I got to head home to the farm to see my mom who was in town from Houston, my brother John, my grandparents, aunts and uncles...oh, just everyone I love dearly and see rarely.

I also got to see my fields.

I know, just what you want to see...more fields.

But fields freshly planted with baby beans and baby corns, where you can still see the soil separating the sprigs of bright green in neat rows that go on for acres - there's something calming about those kind of fields. To know that they've been plowed and planted, just like always. And in just a few weeks' time, those baby corns will be up to your waist, then tasseling out, twice as high.

Those fields are my home.


Things I Never Blogged About But Should Have

It’s been mentioned before that I am a sporadic blogger. But with the best of intentions! And I’m trying to be better. In fact, I think this is the first I've ever blogged in May! So…yay for me. And yay for you for coming and reading!

Despite what it may have looked like in 2009-11, this ol’ blog was always in the back of my mind. Things would happen. I’d take pictures. And then not blog. How sad.

But now I’m on a roll, spurred on by page views and your lovely comments and the prospect of a delicious Yoshi’s dinner. So, in celebration of my old hard drive being rescued from my dead computer and turned into a (very small) external hard drive, I’m going to take care of a few regrets.

In the fall of 2009, I went karaoke-ing with some friends from TPG. It was a total dive and total fun. I believe that's the "dead" in "Wanted Dead or Alive."

Also in the fall of 2009, I started taking pictures of the view outside of my bedroom window in Chicago. I thought I'd do it once a season for a year and it would make for a nice little post. But I missed summer.

During my trip home for the 4th of July in 2010, my mom, aunt, grandma and I went to a little antique shop, where my mom came across a set of Royal Doulton Strawberries & Cream china. Normally just one place setting like this would cost more than $50. For five full settings of everything above, plus extras of a few things, it was just $40! It was a steal of a deal. My mom bought them for me out of the lovingkindness in her heart and they're whimsical and I love them.

Then, at the very beginning of 2011, my best friend had a baby. And he is amazing. Though not really a baby anymore...

And for the church-wide Super Bowl party my community group threw that year, I decided to bring salsa. Never before and never again will I bring this may tomatoes into my home. (I made waaaay too much salsa.)

I'm going to end oddly on that picture of tomatoes because of course there were more things that went on during the gaps in blogging, but honestly, that tomato incident is the most noteworthy.