It’s Not a Party Until You Add the Pasta

Guys, I really like Fall.  That feeling of slowly transitioning from warm, carefree summery days to cool and crisp, autumnal evenings, all cozy-ed up with homework a book and a cup of hot coco…seriously.  And then you add to all of that loveliness the pumpkin and apple themed goodies, the GORGEOUS leaves, not to mention the anticipation of CHRISTMAS (!!!).  This time of year is truly special.

A few weeks ago, my roommate, Marisa, posted this note on our apartment bulletin board:

Holy smokes…we’re having a pasta party!!  And I don’t just mean a box-of-spaghetti-plus-sauce kind of pasta party.  I mean a from-scratch, flour-up-to-your-elbows, homemade-sauce kind of party.  Count me in!

Finally, after much anticipation…the blessed afternoon arrived!  What a perfect day – sunny, mild, a few clouds…that, combined with the amazing fall colors and fabulous company made for a most enjoyable drive to Marisa’s home.

Are you ready for an onslaught of photos?  Good!  ‘Cause that’s what your gonna get 🙂  More pictures, less words shall be the nature of this post.

The kitchen stood ready…

…and the table…BEAUTIFUL!

And here stands 5 roommates, ready, and completely unaware of how much work, and how much FUN is involved in making fresh, homemade pasta.

Let the fun begin!!

Gotta wash up!

Nikki set to work on the ravioli filling.

The dough is quite tough to mix…and this is why Mandi held the bowl down whilst Marisa mixed…and mixed and mixed!

When mixing utensils are no longer suitable…

Before anything, and I mean ANYTHING touches the dough, it must be floured.  Hands, surfaces, tools…ANYTHING!  Elizabeth did a rockin’ job making sure the flour reached every inch of that board!  And Mandi did excellent work kneading the dough after Marisa had her share of the fun 😀

Here’s a sneak peak of dessert….MMMMMM!

Our lovely hostess and executive chef!

Here’s the key step in the process…watch and be amazed!  (Click to enlarge the pictures)

The final(ish) product – ready for ravioli or noodle-making!

Ravioli, ready for a hot bath 🙂

Elizabeth and I made quite the dough-rolling team.

And here, we have our PRO ravioli making team!

Now it should come as no surprise to you that I forgot to take some photos that would have been quite nice to have…such as the final product!  But alas, in our great hunger and excitement to dive fork-first into the fruits of our labor, I completely forgot to take pictures of the actual meal until after….sooooo uh yeah.  You’ll get an idea 🙂


This kinda sorta gives you an idea of what the ravioli looked like…and if nothing else, you’ll know that they were thoroughly enjoyed!

Remember the sneak-peak of dessert?  Well…here it is in all it’s glory!  Let me tell you about this dessert.

Jocelyn, Marisa’s mom, makes the BEST chocolate pudding cake I’ve ever had (okay, maybe it’s the only chocolate pudding cake I’ve ever had, but there’s a VERY high standard set!)  Dense, gooey, with melty chocolate chips…and ‘lots of love 🙂  Top it with fresh whipped cream and raspberries and you’ve got it made (if you’re sitting at our table, that is).  Man-oh-man, this cake is amazing!

And there you have our pasta party in a nutshell!  After dinner, we were tired but satisfied and happy.  How can you not be happy after spending a lovely afternoon with dear friends creating delicious food?  I cannot give an answer.

What a blessed afternoon, celebrating the creation of food – good food – culminating with the joyful consumption of said food.  Thank you, Lord!

Have a great week!

Beth

Fall is for Soup

Dropping temperatures….

Wind and rain…


 

Falling leaves…(ignore the vibrant green grass…)

I think this all means that Fall has officially arrived!  And this means that soup season is in full force…woooooot! 🙂  So naturally, I poured, and I mean POURED over cook book after cook book, magazines, blogs, random recipe websites and whatever other resources I stumbled upon in search of a soup recipe.  “Why on earth would this be so hard?” you might ask.  “Why might you need to consult so many resources, you crazy foo’??!!”  Well…I have some very strict criteria.

  1. It must sound good (duh!)
  2. It must involve corn and potatoes (it’s a phase, okay?)
  3. It musn’t cost too much (and it would be preferable if I had a majority of the ingredients on hand)

Number 3 is probably the most limiting.  But never fear!  I found a delicious-sounding recipe, that with a few alterations, should work just great.  I showed the recipe to my roomie, Marisa, to see if she’d be interested in sharing (she agreed) and I set to work on gathering the ingredients!  Which delectable soup passed my nearly impossible criteria?  I made a variation of Parmesan-Corn Chowder, from the cook book More Healthy Homestyle Cooking by Evelyn Tribole.  She’s a Registered Dietician, and the co-author of the first book I read in an effort to learn about recovering from Anorexia.  The book is called Intuitive Eating, and I highly recommend it to anyone, weight struggles or not.

And before I get started…although the soup has parmesan in the name, I actually didn’t put any in the soup.  Refer to criteria number 3 🙂

Now, on to the food!

I began by cooking up a few chicken tenders on the stovetop, with definite plans to shred them upon their satisfactory doneness.

Next up…VEGGIES!  I really like veggies.  A lot.

There was quite a bit of choppin’ going on.  And a decent amount of crying, but don’t worry…I didn’t cut myself!!  I just have this thing with onions….

We don’t get along so well.  Not that I’m bitter or anything…

Anyways, after I dried my tears and wiped all the runny make-up off my face, I got back to work!  The time had arrived to get this baby cookin’…so bring out the chicken broth, I say!

I brought this to a boil and let it simmer for a while, until all the veggies had softened.  

While the veggies and broth simmered away, I shredded the chicken and prepared the other ingredients (frozen corn, cream corn, and cornstarch).  Missing from the photo on the right is the milk.  I didn’t want to detract from the corny-ness of the moment!  *ba-dum-CHA*!  Anyways……this is also a great time to do a little mid-cookin’ clean up!

Here we are with two kinds of corn and the chicken…just waiting on the creaminess!  (AKA…milk and cornstarch)

And here we go!  I just let it heat for a bit to warm up the milk and thicken and then……

DINNER TIME!!!!!!!!  This soup…creamy, salty, warm, filling, and the corn…the CORN!  I seriously adore corn.  Weird?  Maybe.  Do I care?  Not so much 😉  Basically, this soup = perfect fall meal.  I topped it with cheese and bacon bits, and rounded out the meal with a little salad and bread, but naturally, forgot to take a picture.  Someday I’ll learn 🙂

Parmesan-Corn Chowder

Adapted from More Healthy Homestyle Cooking

The Goods

2-3 chicken tenders, defrosted

2 cups fat-free chicken broth

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 carrot (or 4-5 baby carrots) chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

A few twists of black pepper from the pepper grinder

3/4 cup frozen corn (or one ear, shucked)

1 can cream corn

2 cups 1% milk

2+ tablespoons cornstarch

shredded cheese and bacon bits for topping

The Plan

1. Place  chicken tenders in a frying pan sprayed with nonstick spray; cook, shred, then set aside (while the rest of the soup is cooking)

2. In a large pot, combine broth, potatoes, carrot(s), celery, onion, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.

3. Add the frozen corn, cream corn and shredded chicken to the soup.  Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the milk into the soup and corn mixture.  Allow to heat up.

4. In a cup, dissolve the cornstarch into the remaining milk, then add to the soup.  Cook and stir for another minute, or until thickened and bubbly.  Cook one more minute, adding more cornstarch dissolved in milk or water if you desire a thicker soup.

5. Serve it up and top with cheese, bacon bits, or whatever other toppings you might desire!

I definitely enjoyed this soup, and the cheese and bacon on top just, well…put it over the top!  Be prepared, though – it’s quite filling!  But I suppose that’s the point of eating…to be filled up?  Yes.

Have an excellent weekend!

Beth


 

An Ideal Husband

Last Friday night, three lovely lady friends and I dressed up and headed out to check out An Ideal Husband…by Oscar Wilde, which was running at the Taproot Theatre!  So relax, any of you who may or may not have been taken off guard by the title…this post will not be listing all the traits and characteristics I would be looking for in an ideal husband 😉 …rather, sharing with you the details of an excellent evening.

Source

What a great show!  Impeccable actors, an intriguing plot, amazing costumes and all with great friends…a pretty great way to spend a Friday night!

We came across this dress in the upstairs lobby (which we would soon find to be similar to the costumes in the show)…beautiful!  Based on the signs behind it, this dress is worth several thousand dollars.  Don’t worry, I kept my distance 😉

The lovely compadres – Kristy, Elizabeth, and Marisa.

Although it’s not an exceptionally clear photo, this gives you an idea of what the stage looks like.  They created a lovely set, but the most interesting part is the construction of the theatre.  The stage is almost in the middle of the room, and is surrounded by seating on three sides.  The balcony (where we sat) also covers three sides of the room, but rather than having solid walls and railing, it has glass!  This is obviously ideal for maximum viewing capabilities 🙂  Another HUGE benefit (for us short folk, at least) is that there is only one row of seats on the sides running parallel to the stage…three cheers for not having to look around big tall people in front of me!!!!!

This is the beautiful backdrop.  They made slight changes to it’s configuration, depending on the location of the scene, but there wasn’t much movement (I’m sure the stage crew didn’t complain 🙂 )  And did I mention it’s beautiful!??!

Apparently, Kristy didn’t get the memo that I decided to play photographer…but Elizabeth did!  Or perhaps I should just call it candid camera?  At any rate, here are two of the lovelies I got to hang out with!

And here is lovely #3!  My dear roommate, Marisa.

Aaaaaaaaand the obligatory roomie shot!  Diggin’ my big Seattle-lots-of-humidity hair! 😉

And that, my friends, just about sums up the night!  We had mass kitchen chaos while making dinner before the show…but being quite busy cooking, laughing and in general, having a hilariously good time, I forgot to take pictures.  I also forgot to take pictures of the massive, sugar-crusted autumnal cookies that Kristy brought…but there were pumpkins and leaves, and they were beautiful and delicious…use your imagination!

Have a wonderful day, and be encouraged because guess what?  “…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)

Beth

P.S. Keep your eyes out for a recipe soon!

Sovereignty

Alrighty, lovely readers, here’s a different kind of post for you!  This is a reflective kind of post – musings, thoughts, all that kind of stuff.  And today, the topic happens to be sovereignty.  Sovereignty of God, to be exact.

It’s kind of funny.  I have TWO recipes and TWO events that I’m SUPER excited to share with you, but I feel like this is really important.  So here we go 🙂

Standing in chapel today during worship, I had a lot of thoughts.  I thought about how the first song wasn’t my favorite.  I thought about how worship bands can be really distracting, with their cool effects and nifty riffs.  I thought about how sometimes chapel feels like a concert, and I don’t really like that.  But then the band started the next song, Our God Saves.

The chorus is what gets me each time:

Our God saves

Our God saves

There is hope in His name

Mourning turns to songs of praise

Our God saves

Our God saves

(Emphasis mine)

Then I started thinking about a person I know who desperately needs the hope of Jesus, and is so close to reaching out.  I thought about the hope of Jesus and what that means, and how His hope turns the sad things in life to things that we can eventually thank Him for, although sometimes it takes awhile.  And that led to thinking about God’s sovereignty.

The band started the next song, and I didn’t recognize it.  I honestly don’t remember what it was or enough of the words to even type them here.  The gist of it, however, was that God keeps us from being overwhelmed when we allow Him to help, and everything is under His power and watchful eye.

Sovereignty

I began to think about the things in my life that just seem out of place, or annoying or frustrating.  I thought of my fight with anorexia and all of the tummy issues and eating struggles that go along with that.  I kind of questioned God…why?  What’s the point of this?  Why is this such an issue for me?  And why do I feel like You keep loading it on me?

Did He give me a straight-up answer?

No.

Did my “mourning turn to songs of praise” right away?

Nope.

But you know what the Lord did remind me of?

His sovereignty.  And that nothing…nothing I deal with is outside of it.

And that, my friends, is something that can turn my complaints, questions, “mourning”, into songs of praise.

And by the way…Our God saves!

One of my dearest friends posted this on Facebook, and I saw it just after all of the above took place…so thank you, dear friend! 🙂

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
   he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
   he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

And really, how can anyone stay sad for long when they have these little fellers to gaze upon?

And because I’m a terribly proud and biased Auntie….

Have a lovely day!

Beth

Mini Apple Crumbles

Are ya’ll ready for a recipe?  Okay, good!  ‘Cause you’re gonna get one 😀

Sometimes, inspiration just strikes.  I wanted to make something with the apples my mom sent me (which grew on the trees in our back yard *tear*) but due to a dietary experiment, it needed to be wheat-free.  Hmmmm *cue jeopardy music*….INSPIRATION!  I could make a crust out of what I usually make a crumble topping out of (oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon) and put apple pie filling on top!  And I could make them mini size!  In muffin cups!  How CUTE!  So I found me a apple pie filling recipe and got busy.

I started with these lovely apples, the tart-er variety of the lovelies my mom sent.  They were small, and therefore a wee bit tough to peel, but TOTALLY worth the work…and the slice I took out of my thumb (but don’t worry, I didn’t get blood in anything!!)

All chopped up! But I promise, the red is from the apple skin, NOT from me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After chopping the apples (and not the rest of my fingers), I placed them in a meduium sized pot with sugar (I used brown sugar), water, salt, and cinnamon.  Oh, and don’t forget to preheat the oven!

And then, COOOOOOOK!!

 

 

 

While the apples are simmering, (being occasionally stirred), I got to work on the oat-crust.  It’s pretty simple – I just threw some oats (I chose quick-cooking), butter or margarine, cinnamon, brown sugar and a squeeze of honey in a bowl and mixed it up.  I ended up popping this in the microwave for a few seconds to make the butter more manageable.

Next, I tossed some muffin cups in a muffin pan, and pressed a small scoop of the oat mixture in the bottom of the cups.  Toss them in the oven for a few minutes while you finish the apple filling.

While the crusts are crisping a bit, I mixed up some cornstarch and water to put in the apple mixture.  This takes it from ho-hum soupyness to thick, gooey JOY!  I could have seriously just eaten the filling…but I exercised great self control and carried on!!

Ok, so maybe it doesn't look that great, but believe me...it tasted suuuper good!

After the filling is done, take out the cute little crusts, and fill ’em up!

 

 

 

Now, I was lucky enough to have leftover crust mix, so I decided to top the little crumbles to make them more pie like…weee!

And into the oven they go!

And then they come out!!!!

I opted to let them cool for a wee bit before digging in…they were toasty!  But I also decided to flex my food-artist muscles…which are weak…but you gotta start somewhere, no?

These were tasty…and the roomies sure liked them!  Give ’em a try – and feel free to play with the recipe – I think it’s quite adaptable.

Recipe for filling adapted from Betty Crocker:

5 cups apples, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)

1/4 cup water

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (if desired…I didn’t use it cause I didn’t have any!)

I added lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

 

Recipe for Crumble Crust/Topping

1 1/2 cups oats (I used quick cooking)

1/2 stick butter or margarine

1/4-1/3 cup packed brown sugar

A good sprinkling of cinnamon

A good squeeze of honey

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350*

2. Wash, peel and chop apples; combine in a pot with sugar, water, salt, and cinnamon (and nutmeg and lemon juice, if using).  Heat mixture to boiling; reduce to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While the apples are cooking, mix the oats, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and honey in a medium bowl.   (It’s okay to microwave this for a few seconds if the butter hasn’t come to room temperature).  Line the muffin pan, and press 1-ish tablespoons of the mixture in the bottom of each indentation.  You should have leftovers!  Bake these in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes.

4. When the apples have cooked for about 10 minutes, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl.  Add to apple mixture, cooking 1 minute, or until thickened.  Spoon into each muffin cup till almost full.

5. Top each with the remaining oat mixture.  Bake at 350* for 10-15 minutes.  But PLEASE watch them…they brown quickly!

Serve warm with ice cream and/or milk…but I highly recommend ice cream.

Obviously 🙂

Enjoy!

In other news, I picked up the new edition of Real Simple Magazine today!  Not only is it stunningly beautiful and choc-full of warm, homey decoration ideas and tasty looking Thanksgiving recipes, but it began with this quote:

“You say grace before meals.

All right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,

And grace before the concert and pantomime,

And grace before I open a book,

And grace before sketching, painting,

Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;

And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

G. K. Chesterton, from an early notebook (mid-1890’s)

How beautiful.

Beth

Part 2 – The Philosophy

Hello!

If you recall from my last post about my lovely visit to Leavenworth, I mentioned that I would be adding a dash of eating disorder/life philosophy for spice…but the post ended up being longer than I thought it would be…aaaaaaand I had some homework to do, so I decided to make it a two-parter.  And here’s part two!  So sit back, relax, and read on! 🙂

Eating Disorders are nasty things.  Anorexia used to have this way of making me feel great about myself for a bit, only to knock me down flat on my face moments later.  Now, it’s more subtle.  Perhaps it morphs with time.  Perhaps it’s part of healing.  But let’s not over analyze the facts 🙂

So here’s the deal:

As you’ve already gathered, I had a simply beautiful time in Leavenworth.  I ate food that sounded good to me.  I wandered around fairly aimlessly.  I didn’t  get a “workout” that day.  And did I mention I ate what sounded good?  Go back to my last post and refresh your memory…none of what I ate could really fall into the category of “bad”.  Rather, it could be categorized as “nourishing” and “fun” and “DELICIOUS”!!!!!!!  And I kept those things at the forefront of my mind for a time.  But then other thoughts started vying for my attention.

So here’s what happened:

After dinner, we bundled into the van to make our way back home.  I felt cozy and warm, and my tummy was fairly full.  I sat back and closed my eyes, letting the beautiful choral Christmas music float over me.  And then the attack began.

“Ugghhh, you shouldn’t have eaten that.” 

“Why didn’t you just share dessert with someone?”

“You better be careful what you eat tomorrow.”

And other such things.

The good news is, I successfully quieted that nasty voice.  Yes, I still had a wee bit of trouble, but for the most part, I put it from my  mind and tried to think about other things…and how much I enjoyed the food today!  It felt like a see-saw.  One moment, my mind frantically raced through what I’d eaten, berating me for making “bad” choices…the next moment, the memories of enjoyment overrode the negative thoughts.  The next morning, however, proved a bit more challenging.  I felt like I needed to be SUPER careful about what I ate, and I SO wanted to go for a long walk.  I carried on with my day, eating as best as I could, and anticipating a walk in the afternoon.  But an idea which had been proposed to me a few weeks ago came to mind – could I go for a walk and focus on something other than the exercise-calorie-buring part of the walk?  Yes.  Yes I could.  So I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.  Inspired by the beautiful tree outside my apartment, the purpose of this walk became finding beautiful and autumnal things around me.

Here’s what I found:

Beautiful trees outside my apartment.

Lovely red leaves.

A unique tree.

A pretty bush with ivy ground covering at a bus stop.

I noticed the beauty of this path way.

I walk it at least twice every day, but I’m always in such a hurry that I forget to pay attention.  Look at it.  What do you notice?  I notice that it’s somewhat messy, but there’s direction.  I also notice that there’s a curve, and while you can’t quite see what’s beyond the curve, you’ve experience enough of the path already to know that it’s going to go on.

Sound a bit like life, eh? 🙂

I saw a bright green lawn, sprinkled with crimson leaves.

This is just outside my apartment, right below the trees in the first picture.  As I came around the corner to this little spot, I noticed how the leaves were perfectly yet randomly spread around.  Then I noticed the amazing contrast of the bright red and green.

Amazing.

So I would say my walk-not-to-just-walk shall be counted a success!  Yes, my body felt like I had been for a walk.  Yes, mentally I felt better, having gone for the walk.  But I focused on something other than the walk; something other than how many calories I may have burned.  I focused on God’s beautiful handiwork!!  And how fitting that the song that just came up on Pandora says “Forever my heart will sing of how great You are,” and then “All glory, honor, power, be Yours, Amen.”  And to think I almost skipped the song…man, God is good!

Have a listen 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!  Enjoy your weekend, and check back soon for a recipe!

Beth

I’m Back!

Man-oh-man, it’s been a long while since I’ve posted.  I’m going to blame fun summer adventures, lack of motivation, and school.  🙂  But I suddenly have a desire to photograph random events in my life, random recipes I create/experiment with and post them!  Hooray!!  This post will definitely fall into the random-events-in-my-life category, with a dash of eating disorder/life philosophy for spice.  Please enjoy 🙂

Thanks to Columbus and the general kindness of those in charge at Northwest, us poor, tired, overworked students were treated to a “reading day” on Monday…’cause you know we all read 😉  Don’t worry!  I took full advantage of the day by not reading a lick, in favor of making a day trip to lovely Leavenworth with my roomie and her parents.

We began the trek around 7:45 am, making a quick stop along the way for sustenance in the form of *drumroll* MCDONALDS!  Fruit and yogurt parfait, please!  And then we were truly off for our adventure…which I apparently found rather taxing, seeing as upon the consumption of my breakfast, I promptly fell asleep.  Oh well, I needed my energy!

A quick two hours later, we arrived in the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth.

Downtown LeavenworthSource

I wish I could say it was as sunny and beautiful as this picture shows, but alas, I cannot tell a lie.  It rained.  But that didn’t dampen our spirits (bah-dum-CHA)  Off we went to shop, wishing we had more money, and delighting in the beautiful items we saw.  Unfortunately, I apparently forgot I had a camera with me, and failed to take any pictures of our pre-lunch shopping…but lunch didn’t escape my camera!

We chose a quaint little place called The Renaissance Cafe.  Of all the delicious sounding wraps, sandwiches and sausages I could have chosen…soup, salad, and bread just appealed to me…shocker!!

Lunch!

After lunch, we headed back out to finish up the browsing we wanted to do.  This included several stores, but perhaps the highlight of the afternoon, or even the highlight of the whole shopping experience, was must see store – Kris Kringle.

Please excuse the poor photo quality…once again, I seemed to have forgotten that I had a real camera, and snapped this shot with my phone…but I also did want to send this picture to a friend soooo….take it for what it’s worth 🙂  Anyways, Kris Kringle is a lovely store, where it’s “Christmas All Year”…and man, you canNOT leave that place with a frown!  It’ll make you want Christmas to come right this moment, whether it’s May or October.  This store is beautiful!

After a little more wandering, we decided the time had come for my personal favorite part of the trip…the orchard!  Washington is obviously famous for it’s apples, and the Leavenworth area is chock-full of ’em.  We made our way back to the car and headed to this lovely place,


where we found:

Giant pears,

normal pears,

pumpkins, and apples!

Also, there were a couple of silly girls, but that’s generally a given 🙂

     

Marisa has the ghost pumpkin and I have the warty-witch pumpkin…but seriously, is that not the WEIRDEST pumpkin you’ve ever seen?!?!

After making our purchases and loading the car, it was time to head back to town for our delightful dinner at Pavs.  Delish!  They have quite a few lovely meal choices ranging from steak to paninis to fondue, but they also have some lovely crepes, both sweet and savory…and I couldn’t pass it up.

The ambiance was lovely – low lighting and candle-lit tables.  The kitchen (pictured below) is open, so you can actually see how those speedy chefs do their work!

And then, came dinner, and not long after, dessert.

That would be one Chicken and spinach crepe

followed by a nutella crepe with ice cream and copious amounts of whipped cream.

BAM!

Unfortunately, I was already quite full from dinner which didn’t leave much room for this lovely crepe, but I surely did enjoy what I ate of it!

After this delightful meal, we slowly walked out to the car and began our homeward journey.  This is where the previously mentioned eating disorder/life philosophy part comes in…but alas, I need to go to class, so this will be a two-part post.

Thank you kindly for reading, and I’m excited to be back to posting!  Check back soon for part two.

Beth