Good things come to those who wait…

I got a job! Yep, after six months of unemployment, I got a job. A cool job too… you know, the kind that pays you and everything! (I had a brief job last summer that I am still waiting for the cool part to come in- which is not cool).

I am very happy with my new job doing Public Relations for a firm with people I enjoy, learning new things, and in a beautiful office in Rancho Sante Fe where I am treated very well. God made me wait a long time, but He came through with the right position for me. Good things come to those who wait!

This all explains why I haven’t been posting much in the past few weeks. I’ve been acclimating to a new schedule and feel like my feet are finally getting back on the ground! Except for laundry… I am still trying to get a hold of when to do laundry without having to do it all on Saturdays!

So, just as God blessed my waiting, I will bless your’s as well, as if you have been waiting with bated breath (I like to pretend you are). You are getting my clam chowder recipe. You should be excited.

This is one of my originals, and frankly, it’s among the best clam chowders I’ve ever had. It is my favorite kind of recipe too… The kind that tastes just as good the next day, and day after that. It fed me and Toby a dinner, and me two days of lunches, and tasted just as good the third day. My kind of meal.

Enjoy!

ANNA’S CLAM CHOWDER

1 qt of half and half
half of an onion, minced
1 cup of carrots, diced
2 cups of potatoes, diced
1/2 c milk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of salt
1 bay leaf
3 cans of clams
1 cup of flour
1 stick of butter
1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder

1. Take carrots, onions, and potatoes and juice from clams and put in skillet, adding enough water to cover. Add a bay leaf and cover, cooking till tender.

2. Meanwhile, take butter, and melt in a stock pot or good sized saucepan, while whisking in flour and then slowly adding 1 qt of half and half and a half a cup of milk. Stir till smooth.

3. Add veggies (once tender) and continue to heat through, but not boil. Add garlic, cayenne, and salt and stir. Adjust seasonings based on taste.

4. Stir in the clams just before serving.

That’s it. It is so so good though, and perfect for a cold San Diego night… or any real cold night you may encounter…

 

Clam Chowder

Island Shrimp Yumminess!

Lately we have been having AMAZING weather in San Diego. In the middle of the day, you couldn’t tell the difference between January and August right now, while there are places across the country freezing.

Sorry everyone.  You’ll be able to gloat when we are all out here parched, since if we don’t get any rain soon, we are probably outta luck for the year.  Not good.

In the meantime though, all this summer weather in January has us feeling like we are in the tropics and I got the taste for some island yumminess.

The Husband and I LOVE Hawaiian food. We even had it at our wedding, (and by the way would recommend Nelson at Da Kines  for anyone looking for some AWESOME and affordable catering by an awesome guy).  Our house has lots of Hawaiian décor, we day dream of Lahaina and we watch Hawaii Life whenever we get a chance. We dream of moving to Hawaii after med school, buying a cool house with a bunch of garden space, chickens, horses, surfing, and hog hunting whenever I get the fancy. A girl can dream, right?

So tonight, when I went to go make dinner, I had an idea in my head. A yummy idea. We aren’t ready to move to Hawaii, yet,  but I could bring the islands to San Diego (rough life, I know) and use the ingredients that are standard in my pantry that I hope will someday be growing in my backyard.

What I came up with was what I have lovingly decided to call Island Shrimp.

I will warn you, it does have rum in it. A small amount that is cooked at high heat and largely cooked out. I bought a bottle of rum several months ago to make the bread pudding we ate at Ohana at Disney World (again more Hawaiian, even in Florida). If that makes you uncomfortable, I totally understand and I have included a link to a chart of alcohol subs for cooking. The alcohol is little and cooked at a decently high heat . It also makes me think of an old family story of my great-uncles and aunts getting together and one of them asking if Uncle Roy would like another high-ball. Uncle Roy said no, I think I will just have another piece of Pearl’s rum cake instead.

This is not that kind of recipe. 

So here it is…

Island Shrimp.

3 VERY ripe bananas. The mushy kind you don’t really want to just peel and eat anymore.

1 lb shrimp

A little less than 1/3 cup of rum (If you don’t feel comfortable using the rum, here is a chart that offers substitutes, though I can’t vouch for it’s effect on the taste or consistency in recipe)

½ cup of shredded coconut

1 TB of Ginger

A good squeeze of honey 

A bit of brown sugar (I basically just dipped my fingers in, pinched with all 5 finger tips and there you go).

Garlic Powder

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Pepper

 

  1. Sauté the shrimp in some olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt till pink. Set aside in a bowl and use the same pan to make the sauce.
  2. Take your 3 bananas and peel them and then put in the pan and sear starting to mash them up. I use my tongs to do this and it works great and mashes easier as it cooks.
  3. Add in rum or substitute after searing the bananas. Have it on a Med-High heat. Proceed to mash while adding in coconut, ginger, honey, brown sugar and garlic powder (to taste).
  4. Continue to cook and mash, keeping things moving around fairly steadily so it doesn’t burn. You are going to cook this sauce for about 10 minutes on the med-high heat.  Then turn the heat off, while leaving it on same burner, cover, and let sit for 5 or so minutes to let it set up. You want to make sure that alcohol burns off as much as possible cause we are just looking for taste. Unless you’re not. Then hey, I won’t judge. Just stay home after you cook, deal?
  5. I served it on a bed of jasmine rice that I cooked with some coconut and ginger to really pull all the flavors together.
  6. Put rice, then sauce, then shrimp, then top with some chopped macadamia nuts and a little pepper.
  7. Try to share.

Image

 

I don’t want to brag, but this one is out. of. the. park.

We accompanied it with a glass of POG (passion fruit, orange and guava juice) and an episode of Hawaii Five-O.

Book me, Danno. This is too good to be legal. 

Hangry.

Hangry (hang-gree)

1. When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both.

It’s true. I get hangry.

I am hypoglycemic, so when my blood sugar starts to dip, I nose dive. The Husband can attest.  I start off getting a little ditzy and have trouble focusing. I sometimes will break into sweats, feel short of breath and get very anxious. The sooner I get food, the better.

Another thing happens sometimes. I get hangry. I can get unhappy, unpleaseable… just not very much fun. It sneaks up on you too, you think you are ok, and then it descends into chaos… well chaos may be dramatic. Maybe I should eat more now.

Tonight, I was moderately hungry when the pot roast that wouldn’t fit in the crockpot got done in the oven. I was more than moderately displeased with how it turned out. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t very good. I am looking forward to the day when I don’t have to buy the cheapest cut of meat on the day it expires.

I couldn’t eat the meal, it just didn’t taste good to me. I then went from moderately hungry, to desperately hungry. I started looking through the pantry, freezer, pinterest, the whole nine yards. Nothing. This leads to growing Hanger. Nothing looks good, sounds good, will be enough to probably to fill the void that is my blood sugar.

I finally gave up and ate a bowl of cereal. It was not enough. Ugh. The Husband then suggested I make a bunuelo, or basically a tortilla with butter and cinnamon and sugar. Basically, HE wanted one, and was hoping in my decreased state of hanger, I would be willing to make him one while filling my own desires… smarty pants.

Instead, I took it a step further. Apple Burrito.

It did not disappoint. Hanger cured.

Try one for yourself….

1 granny smith apple, diced

1 tortilla

Butter

Cinnamon and Sugar

1. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet.

2. Add apples, and add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Cook till apples cook through. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. In same pan, put tortilla in. Cook about 20 seconds and flip. Put butter on upward facing side of tortilla, and sprinkle more cinnamon on butter.

4. Remove from heat, and put apples on buttered and cinnamon side. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy. Yum.

Can’t be hangry with something so sweet and delicious.

A Chicken Velvet Hug

Happy New Year everyone! 2014 is just scary to hear in some ways. The Y2K scare was 14 years ago. How crazy is that?!

I don’t know about you, but we, specifically our stomachs, are still recovering from the holidays. We were really good this year too. We didn’t start the Christmas gluttony till Christmas Eve. We hosted my whole family, and I made cinnamon rolls, apple pie, sweet potato pie, prime rib, a turkey, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, honey glazed carrots, cornbread stuffing (completely from scratch), sugar cookies… a lot. By the end of it, we had a ton of leftovers, and ate prime rib for 5 days straight.

I don’t need to have prime rib again for a while.

By Sunday night, our stomachs were eager for something not so rich. Something to put in our stomachs and tell them it was all going to be alright. Our stomachs needed a hug.

There is only one food that truly can give your stomach the hug it needs: Chicken Soup. 

Soup is among my favorite foods. I love the stuff. The Husband? Not so much. He thinks it’s an appetizer, and that it isn’t enough to be a meal. Boys. 

I say this to pretense that the soups I make now are often a little creamier than perhaps some would like. If its a thicker soup, I’ve convinced him that it’s a meal. This led to my rendition of Chicken Velvet Soup. Not only do our stomachs get a hug, they get a soft warm blanket as well. Full service here. Honestly, I don’t think anything with velvet in the name should be anything less than creamy and thick. 

So, without further ado, here is my take of Chicken Velvet Soup

Ingredients:

1/2 c. Butter (because most great things have butter)

1.5-2 c. Flour 

4 cloves of Garlic, minced

2 c Half and Half

1 pint Chicken Broth

2 c Shredded Chicken

Cayenne Pepper

Salt

 

1. Melt the butter in the saucepan. When it is melted, add in garlic and saute for a few minutes, till you get the good garlicky smell smell. 

2. Slowly add flour to butter, stirring to combine it well. The amount of flour you use is going to depend on how thick you want the soup to be. More flour = thicker soup. Start with less, and then build up as desired. 

 3. Add Half and Half, and Broth, stirring continuously. I sometimes use homemade broth, sometimes just store-bought. If you want to add a little more flour to thicken it up, now is the time. Just make sure you are stirring well. 

4. Add your cooked chicken. I like to buy whole chickens when they are on sale, when you can get a whole chicken under 5 bucks. Then stick it in the oven for a couple hours, then shred the whole bird and put in baggies and put in the freezer, usually then having a enough four main dishes. When I do this, the whole soup takes me about 15 minutes to cook. When I am really ambitious, I make the bones into broth and freeze it too. Waste not, want not. 

5. Let cook through, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste. I like everything spicy. The Husband, not so much. I put in a pinch or two of cayenne, and then keep the Tapatio sauce nearby to add the heat that I love. Marriage is about compromise. 

At the end, you should have a finished product that looks like this:

Image

 

 

Now grab the crackers, and prepare to help your stomach get out of the fetal position in the corner with a light but satisfying hug meal. 

Enjoy! 

Discouragement, Honesty, Trust, Faith and Cooking…

I used to write. A lot. Then life happened.

Stuff like a wedding, moves, jobs all got in the way. Then something else got in the way; Discouragement.
I lost my job last May. I got another one, and it fell apart within a month, finding out that I was caught up in an ongoing scam that includes years of people not getting paid, which I am now among.

That was in August, and I have been unemployed, looking for work since, while having the husband applying to med school. If you don’t know about applying to med school, here are the main things you need to know about the process: It’s an expensive, uncertain to the max, and stressful year-long process.

So, with no job, no money, huge question marks over us for the next year, huge expenses, it has been a challenging time. Add to it often feeling invisible in the job market, often being told that I am extremely impressive and won’t have any problem finding a job  by people turning me down, and I have at times over the last several months felt overwhelmed, sad, useless, and hopeless.

At times, well-meaning people have made me feel even worse with “encouragement”. They didn’t mean to, they meant to be helpful, but when all anyone talks about to you, or in relation to you is about your failure to get a new job, it feels like that is your identity. Failure.

Due to this, I found that I didn’t think I had much to add to anything by writing. Sometimes, I just wanted to hide.

I’ve decided to start writing again though. Really, what do I have to lose? What I hope to gain is a bit of purpose for myself, some fun, and perhaps to be able to help others, whether it be life lessons, or cooking lessons.

There are a few things I’ve learned through these last few months:

1. I’ve learned to trust my husband more. I hate finances and money. It’s my biggest anxiety causer, as it is, I would guess, for many. He doesn’t flinch, and just makes it happen. I can’t even tell you the last time I looked at the bank account. He just takes care of that, and while I still have a bit of concern about money, I trust he will take care of it. While money problems are often a reason for many couples to suffer division, it has helped bring us together, although we have had our bumps along the way. We have a trust in each other born from adversity from this experience that many couples may never experience. We don’t have much, and fancy dinners etc aren’t in our vocabulary, but we have been able to learn to be content in just being with each other, no frills needed.

2. I’ve learned to trust God more. This is an ongoing battle for me. You see, God has not always just magically made things happen for me in my life. I hate the notion of “prosperity gospel”. God has blessed me in many ways, but for most my life, money has not really been one. Money does not equal God’s care or blessing. I’ve had many times when money was desperately needed, and did not show up. In this situation we find ourselves in, provision has shown up from some of the most unexpected places. The more I trust God, the more He has been faithful, though I really wish his plan for my job would be shown soon. Like, really soon.

3. I am a creator at my core. I am happiest when I am creating. Whether it be dinner, friendships, building furniture, crafts, writing… whatever. My favorite phrase is “I made it”. Cooking has often been my sole area of feeling accomplished in the past few months. Nights out together or with friends have become a rare treat, so cooking good food at home has become my passion. I have pinned hundreds of recipes. I’ve invented recipes. Our nights out are more about a break and convenience than the actual food, because, frankly, I can probably make it better. Except Ortiz’s burritos… they put crack in those things. This has also led to me working out a lot more, cause “fat and happy” is a misnomer.

So look out, I am going to be blogging a lot more… next time, less deep stuff, more yummy stuff! My chicken velvet soup recipe to be exact…

i’m not laughing at you…

There is a fine line between laughing with someone and laughing at someone… 

After slow-cooking carnitas for dinner and making homemade guac and cleaning the kitchen up (after the realization that there are enough leftovers in the fridge to avoid cooking and more importantly cleaning the kitchen tomorrow night), we figured we better take the dogs for a walk. 

Toby always “calls” walking Banjo. He says its because he is bigger and he is working with him yada-yada-yada… In truth, It is because Doc is certifiable. Sweet as can be… but nuts. 

Last week, Doc got neutered.  Between the constant lifting his legs on walks, his desire to be very amorous to Banjo, blankets, and even my sister-in-law on occasion, the time had come. What comes with that though is a very annoying cone-of-shame that he bangs into every wall, our calves, and anything else he can.

I hate that cone.

Tonight when we took them for their walk, I got Doc, my boy, as usual. He is crazy as a loon, but I do love that little goofball. We walk around our apartment complex, which has a nice sidewalk path all the way around, but is not exactly lit real well at night. I couldn’t see Doc’s head and cues cause of the cone, and tonight, he decided to throw a curve ball and pull when I wasn’t expecting it, pulling me backwards. 

He didn’t only pull me backwards, he pulled me off the edge of the sidewalk landing hard on my back right on the edge. 

Where that 25 lb dog gets his pulling power from, I have no idea. 

My husband, ever the supporting, caring partner, started busting up laughing at me. He says it was after the genuine concern, but we remember this differently. 

I laughed a little, cause it beat crying, I mean, it isn’t like I have broken my back before or anything… oh wait… 

The best part was, he got the giggles. Giggles like a 3rd grade girl. We had to stop twice on the walk because he was crying and couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. 

He said he was laughing with me, not at me. Sure.

To his credit, he did bring me Aleve, milk and sugar cookies I made yesterday. I make great sugar cookies… 

My back is sore, but it was pretty funny…

Time Out.

The advice to many newly married couples is to limit commitments at first and take the time to tackle the first year of marriage, which is FULL of challenges of joining two lives together, because oddly, saying “I Do” did not make rent go down, toothpaste cleaned out of the sink, toilet paper positioning debates solved, family issues disappear, or any other thing that comes up as you get used to each other being all up in your biz 24/7 and realizing the other person may not always agree that your way is the right (only) way of doing things. 

We failed at that one.

I work two jobs, one of which is in political radio and we just so happen to be in the midst of one of the biggest elections ever.  Toby has a job and is taking Organic Chemistry and Physics. When we talk, I am pretty sure we simply sound like the adults on Peanut cartoons to each other. He just said one of his word problems from Physics out loud and lost me at “There is a plane, whaa wha wha whaaaa”.

I go to bed several hours before him, and get up several hours before him as well, resulting in what I call our “room share”. I am a very (VERY) light sleeper, so when he comes in in the middle of the night, it wakes me up every time. When he snores, he wakes me up and I hit him or roll him on his side (unless he wakes himself up with the racket, which happens as well, cause not even he could sleep though that freight train).

But the other night, he woke me up in a new way. I woke up to talking and thought that he was talking to me. Then I realized that not only was he talking in his sleep, he was talking about Physics.

My husband’s mistress is names Physics, and she is demanding and has tons of problems. 

I can’t complain much, I dream about the show all the time. That and stuff for the kid’s ministry that I am the director for. I wake up first thing singing the Veggie Tales song the kids are performing this weekend and when we finally get to relax, I start passing out unless I keep working on my computer.

Yesterday, I reached terminal velocity of feeling completely inept of keeping up, and sorely missing the guy I share a last name with, and a home we mostly use as a workspace and with two people who have taken one day off of working in the last month. Maybe not even that much. 

I think it just reminds me that we need to take a step back and  realize that this is the only chance we get to be newlyweds and to slow down a bit… after elections… and finals… and family obligations… and… shoot. What was I saying? That’s right… As a newlywed and wife who always wants to do what I can to make our marriage strong, we must remember that no one on earth or nothing that thinks it deserves our time is as important or worthy as the guy snoring next to me, or the girl stealing the blankets from him.

Remember to take a time out. 

One Bad Cookie…

I love to cook and bake and find new things to make. Some people see food as only fuel, but we have taste buds, so God must be on board with us enjoying it!

I know how to make a lot of good things, but I am adventurous and want to keep trying new things. Last night I made a pork, rice, black bean dish that was SO GOOD, and cheap, two of my favorite combos. 

Today I got the bug to bake. It is not secret that I love pumpkin, so when I found a pumpkin, oatmeal, cranberry cookie recipe, I was thinking of a cookie that captured Thanksgiving in one yummy bite… 

What I got was a bite of two week old thanksgiving leftovers from your aunt who is a terribly bland cook.

Because I do LOVE to cook, I beat up on myself far more when things don’t go as planned. I want to think that every little thing I make is going to be awesome, cause I know I can make great food. I was working while I was baking and booking guests while mixing, so maybe I messed something up. Maybe I didn’t add something, or put too much in. Maybe it was just a bad recipe. 

Life isn’t much different. We can do great all the time and feel like we are great, but, once in a while, we are going to screw up. We are going to make a bad cookie. 

But it doesn’t mean we are doomed to be bad cooks… 

Debates and Touchdowns

I like football. I can enjoy a game watching the Chargers on Sunday afternoon as much as the next guy. My husband does not like football. He LOVES football. He lives football. He breathes it.

It at times annoys me.

He wears his jersey while leading worship at church. Every Sunday. He has three fantasy football teams. He is involved in a college football pool. If he had his way, he would watch every. single. game.

I used to think I loved football. But after marrying him, I have rethought it, and next to him, I just like football.

Last night, there were two things on tv at the same time. Thursday night football and the Vice Presidential Debate. Not only is politics a love of mine, it is also my job to watch stuff like debates. Last week, Toby watched the debate with me, but this week, I told him he didn’t have to.

He went in the living room and watched the football game. I went in the kitchen and made dinner and watched the debate on the computer while I cooked.

Baked white mac and cheese… delish.

But anyways, Toby was in watching the game, and I hardly heard anything, but he did hear me…

While I was supposed to be a good wife cooking her husband dinner, he kept hearing me yelling. Probably worse than that guy in the front row of the football game with his shirt off and a random letter on his chest that him and his buddies long forgot what order they should be in.

I am that bad.

He does not get it. Just like I don’t get the football obsession. We just look at each other, shake our heads, smile, and debate which one is better….

…and since we debate it, I think it proves that my obsession is better.

Pumpkin Love

 

If I had to pick one thing that I love about Fall that I loved the most it would be, without a doubt… pumpkin.

I love pumpkin. I think it is the most under appreciated fruit… er vegetable… er gourd… whatever it is, it is awesome. Did you know it is a super food? That’s right. Tons of good stuff and super low fat. All anyone thinks about with it is the classic pumpkin pie, but no one ever thinks about the other things you can put it in. Pumpkin chilli, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin ravioli… I am starting to sound like Forest Gump’s pumpkin obsessed cousin. Oh, pumpkin shrimp!

I digress…

Tomorrow I am going to a shower for the cutest elf baby ever, Benjamin, who goes to our church. It’s okay that I call him elf baby, his mom agrees. They asked those coming to bring something, and listed muffins… challenge accepted!

So… here is my recipe for delicious pumpkin pecan muffins. Enjoy!

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 heaping cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 1/2 cups  sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon

Topping: Brown Sugar and chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients together, except for toppings. I use a Kitchen Aid, one that my husband says when I saw it listed as purchased on our registry, I acted as happy as when he proposed. He may not have been terribly far off.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4  full.

Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on top of batter filled cups to your hearts desire. I kept mine a little more sparingly. I think its better if it is a little bit of a surprise instead of a smack in the face.

Stick ’em in the over for about 25 minutes, or until done. Duh. Though the batter is delish, and should be eaten like a lolly pop off the mixer paddle… yum.

Open the oven and smile. I did. Take them out and smile again. Then let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then pull them out and put them on a cooling rack till they cool.

Then get some milk.