A Date With my Roomie

Finals officially begin tomorrow.  Oye vey!  I’ve hit that wall where I can no longer study tonight, so I thought I’d catch you up on the delightful dinner out with my roomie (Marisa) last Friday!

For awhile, Marisa worked for a catering company.  The owner of the catering company also runs a restaurant called Pomegranate and let me tell you…it’s legit.  The menu changes seasonally, highlighting fresh, local fare, always with a classy yet home-made vibe.  Options range from fried chicken or grilled cheese & tomato soup to white fish tacos, flat bread pizzas, and phenomenal desserts.  And they even have a coffee and pastry bar open all day long!   Basically what I’m saying is that if you’re anywhere near Redmond, you have GOT to go to Pom.

The table setting…so simple yet elegant.  I adore the bottle of water, and the soft glow of the candle.  Perfect ambiance.

Well hi there, Marisa! 🙂

See the windows on the left?  That’s a view into the kitchen.  SO cool!

Marisa had a pretty good view of the pizza oven from her seat.  She even got to see them tossing the dough!  Lucky girl.

And then dinner came!

Marisa stuck to her Italian roots, and dined on Mac n’ Cheese and fresh Rustic Bread.  That Mac n’ Cheese is basically amazing.  The top is covered in bread crumbs and baked for a few moments, giving the top layer a bit of crunch.  Marisa skeptically opted for sausage, but after a few bites, the skepticism vanished.  And the bread!  Soft, chewy…perfect.  Her only complaint?  Cold butter.  But she could deal 😉

I chose the Niçoise Salad – mixed greens with juicy tomato, crunchy green beans, soft, cooked (and cooled) potato, salty olives, hard boiled egg, and rich tuna, all covered in a delicious, tangy dressing…oh.my.wow!  The bread (which I only took a few nibbles of to avoid much wheat) was essentially Pom’s pizza crust with cheese and olive oil.  And the tomato soup…definitely the best I’ve had in a long long time.  Rich, thick, salty, creamy…out of this world??!  No wonder it’s on the menu every day!

And did you really think two girls would go out for a nice dinner without dessert?  HA!

It’s a foregone conclusion that Marisa would be ordering the House Made Nutter Butters with chocolate soup.  They’re just that amazing!  Soft, pillowy cookies encase a sweet and creamy peanut butter filling…all doused in bittersweet chocolate.  What’s not to love?

And my dessert: Chocolate Coconut cake!  The bottom layer – a layer of coconut, mixed with something to keep it all together, then baked to brown it.  The middle layer, well…I don’t actually know what to call it.  Creamy?  Yes.  Sweet?  Yes.  Coconutty?  Yes.  So we’ll just call it delightful and move on to the GANACHE!  That top layer?  Solid ganache.  In case you didn’t know, ganache is basically bittersweet chocolate melted and mixed with heavy cream.  Holy yum!  But oh so rich.  I ate about a third and asked for a box.

Besides the food, here’s a few favorite moments of the night:

Favorite family: the one with the dancing little girls.

Favorite seating arrangement: Ours!  We sat at the end of the family table with 6 people at the other end.

Favorite story topic: Our ridiculous childhood crushes.

Favorite quote: “Hey, there’s a doughnut in my purse!” (Marisa)

Favorite end-of-dinner-quote: “Hey, there’s STILL a doughnut in my purse!” (Marisa)

So as you can see, there is no other descriptor for the night except lovely.  Especially when we secretly decorated Marisa’s parent’s house while they were out and about 🙂

And in other news, the SEAHAWKS WON!!!!!

Blessings,

Beth

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Comfort Food Heaven

BRRRRRR!!!!  It’s getting quite…er…chilly, as of late.  I know, I know, nothing compared to what it will be like in Montana during Christmas break, but still.  I’m cold!  And it’s just this type of cold weather that sends even the most burly and tough looking man looking for a soft, warm, comforting meal.  Not that I fit that description…but still, this cold weather definitely makes any food below 160* seem fairly unappealing.  So with inspiration from a can of pumpkin in my cupboard, I got to work lookin’ for a recipe.

And here is what I found: Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie.  Pumpkin infused potatoes rest over a savory pumpkin-chicken-veggie filling to create…comfort food heaven on a plate.  Warm, dense, not to heavy.  Delicious!

Here’s our team!  Ground chicken, S&P, chicken broth, cornstarch, pumpkin, ketchup, onion, potato and carrot (rosemary missed the picture).  Pretty simple, and a lot of these ingredients are probably in your pantry!

The recipe is as simple as the ingredients:

First, peel and chop a potato, then let it boil while you make the filling.

Sauteé carrots and onions in some cooking spray.

Add the ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer), cornstarch, rosemary and S&P, and let it cook for awhile.

Then, toss in some broth, pumpkin, and ketchup and cook a little longer.

Drain the potato, then add pumpkin, cheese and S&P (and a splash of chicken broth if you should desire).  Bust out your trusty hand mixer and…..

…PULVERIZE!!!!!  Ahem.

Now,carefully pour the hot filling into a pan (I used a loaf pan).

Evenly spread the potatoes on top.

Now at this point, I let the shepherd’s pie sit out for a bit, then put it in the fridge to finish later.  So it works great to do that, or you can continue right along with the process.  If you do finish  the cooking later, place it in a 350* oven for 20 minutes before continuing with the next steps.

After assembling the pie, sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melty and perfect.

Look at that cheesy crust!

Don’t be bashful about adding more cheese on top… 😉

Chicken and Pumpkin Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Very Best Baking / Libby’s

The Goods

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

1/4 cup (+/-) shredded cheese

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooking spray

1 small onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

1/2 lb ground chicken (or whatever ground meat you prefer)

1/2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp rosemary, crushed

1/2 cup + splash reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth

1/2 tsp ketchup, optional

The Plan

1. Place potato chunks in a medium sauce pan and fill with water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil.  Cook over med-high heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender; drain.  Return potatoes to saucepan and add 1/2 cup pumpkin, a pinch of cheese, S&P to taste, and a splash of chicken broth.  Beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Cover.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet, coated in cooking spray, over med-high heat.  Add onion and carrot, cooking and stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until carrot begins to soften.  Add beef, cornstarch, rosemary and some more S&P.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until meat is cooked.  Stir in broth, 1/2 cup pumpkin, and ketchup (if using).  Bring to a boil, cooking for 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally), until mixture has thickened slightly.

3. Preheat the broiler or let cool, and refrigerate**

4. Carefully spoon filling into an ungreased, broiler safe, deep pan (loaf pan, pie pan, etc).  Evenly spoon potato mixture over the filling, then sprinkle with cheese.

5. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.

**If placing in the refrigerator: before broiling, bake in a 350* for 20 minutes, or until hot.

Definitely one of the best dinners I’ve made recently.  And it reheats well to boot!

Well folks, the semester is winding down.  Two projects and two finals, and I’m outta here!  There’s undoubtedly an underlying sense of stress, though, and this is when I fight those nasty eating disorder voices the most.  I keep reminding myself that I won’t be able to finish strong if I’m not fueling my body well.  From a mental/emotional perspective, this isn’t always easy to do.  But  Psalm 139:4 came up in my devotional this morning, and I think it’s a perfectly timed reminder:

I praise you because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Blessings, friends!

Beth

 

One Legit Quesadilla

Who likes simple yet tasty eats?  (I do!)  And who views it as a bonus if these simple and tasty eats are inexpensive? (Ooooh pick me!)  If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this post is for you! 🙂  If you remember, I have criteria for recipes (being a poor college kid and all).  Also, I’m a fan of simple comfort food.  One evening, in search of a dinner that would meet these high demands, I felt stuck.  I had tortillas, cheese, and chicken…the makings of a perfect quesadilla.  Except, I didn’t have any salsa.  Neither did the roomies And I didn’t want to go to the store.  So a hemmed and hawed, opened and closed the fridge and freezer too many times…and then it hit me.  I remembered reading a post on one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girl Eats about BBQ chicken quesadillas, with caramelized onions.  But alas, I didn’t have onions either.  But I did have corn.  Hmm.  Corn, chicken and BBQ sauce filling, sprinkled with cheese, encased in a tortilla.  It might just work!

And work, it certainly did!  The cheese melts and mixes with the BBQ sauce, which lightly coats the sweet, crisp corn, and the chicken just practically melts in with the rest of the filling.  Oooooh, and don’t forget that crispy-on-the-edges but soft-in-the-middle tortilla!  SO TASTY!

And so easy!  Just cook up some chicken (frozen chicken tenders work great for a single serving), shred it, then mix it in with defrosted corn and BBQ sauce.  Here is my sauce of choice (I’ll just pretend it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup…..).  Any sauce will do!

After mixing the filling, simply place a tortilla in a preheated pan (a little non stick spray might not hurt).  Layer cheese, filling, then more cheese, and fold this doomed deliciousness in half.  Let it cook for a few minutes, then carefully flip it over.  Give it a few minutes, and then dig in!!

Oh, by the way,  I like to keep the burner on low to prevent the tortilla from browning too much.  This can make cooking seem to take AGES, though, so I pop a lid on it for a bit.  Gotta have melty cheese, yo! 🙂

I like to round out this meal with a small salad and a few chips.  Sour cream and more BBQ are great for dipping!

Give it a try – it’s super simple, and CRAZY tasty!  Let me know what ya think!

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

Blessings,

Beth

A Few of my Favorite Things…

I have a lot of things I’d call “favorite”.  Things like family, heaters, ice cream, and The Sound of Music top the list.  Another that rates pretty darn high is simple food.  You know what I mean.  Food that’s easy to cook, tastes good, and just…feels good!  For me, this primarily means food that doesn’t give me a tummy ache.  There’s one meal in particular that I can nearly always count on to provide this for me.  I eat it often, but tonight it just hit me….why don’t I blog it!??!?  Duh.  So here it is – my favorite, go-to, simple, easy-on-the-tummy meal.  Perhaps you will enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

Tada!  Here it is.  Nothin’ too special or fancy, just tasty!

Our star – a piece of spelt toast, spread lightly with butter (yes, the real stuff!), and crowned by a scrambled egg that was whisked with a splash of milk, S&P, cheese and a slice of deli ham, then topped with a sprinkle of cheese.  Delish!  Comfort food at it’s college-cheap finest 😉

An eggy breakfast-inspired dinner just isn’t right with out the ‘taters!  A little bitty Yukon Gold potato, to be exact!  I TOTALLY cheated on cooking this, though.  2 minutes in the microwave, sliced, tossed in the pan to brown…but it works, and that’s what matters to me, friends!

Oh, and if you’re curious about my trio of sauces: sour cream, ketchup and some extra ranch…I will shamelessly admit…I like my dippin’ sauces! 🙂

If you know me very well, this element of my tasty, simple meal shouldn’t come at all as a shock…the salad.  I topped this one with tomato, zucchini and celery, drizzled on some Wishbone ranch (no high fructose corn syrup!!!!!) and crushed some tortilla chips for crunch (’cause this girl is too cheap for formal salad toppings).  YUMMY VEGGIES!

I enjoyed my dinner with a glass of water and this:

THE DECEMBER ISSUE OF REAL SIMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Not that I’m excited or anything…..

But I should definitely add it to the list, ’cause there’s NO doubt – it’s one of my favorite things!


I think I’m gonna call it a night!

Check back soon for a birthday-month update and a recap of a mysterious adventure I’ll be taken on by non other than my dear roommate.

Oh!  This has been encouraging me this week – perhaps it will do the same for you 🙂

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”

Philippians 4:19

Have an excellent day!

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