Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Season of Reading - Bread & Wine

Bread and Wine was a book that I loved.  The author...I just get her.  Her passion for people and food is something that resonates deep in my core.  She talks of the importance of being honest about your struggles, being vulnerable to others, being a good friend, wife and mother, and how all of this is possible around the dinner table.  Inviting people into your home and life wholeheartedly and without reservation will only make us better and will only bring others into a safe place when they spend time around us.

I stole all these images from Google images, and there were a ton more options.  I loved that because it made me feel like different parts of this book will stand out to different people.  I have already made one of the recipes the author shares, and absolutely intend to make more.  I think my generation is doing a disservice to the world by not hosting well, and I want to remedy that.  Books like this will help me do so!  It gives me confidence to remember that having people over doesn't have to be expensive or a production, but it does encourage community.

Being present is something I will always struggle with.  I keep looking over at the dishes on the table that need to be cleared or thinking of my grocery list.  However, the above quote really stood out to me because it is something I can work on.  Just be there, with the person in your living room, and allow them to be there with you.  The idea Shauna presents in this book, is that by having a repertoire of recipes in your arsenal, you can make dinner without stress and then be present with people, and through that presence, true change and love and community can occur in our hearts and minds.  

I highly recommend this book to people who love to host, but also to those who feel like they are not good at it.  If you care about people, you can host, and she will make you feel like all the warm memories surrounding those times are worth it.  It is always an honor to have people in your home, and it should be treated as such :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Food I Ate Friday - Green Bean Salad

Green Bean Salad With Walnuts, Fennel, and Goat Cheese


1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar  (I used red wine vinegar)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds green beans trimmed
1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 4-ounce log fresh goat cheese


1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the oil and whisk until well combined; set aside.

2) Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool, and set aside until you're ready to assemble the salad.

3) In a large bowl, combine the green beans, fennel, and walnuts. Add the goat cheese and vinaigrette just before serving. Toss well and serve at room temperature or chilled.

You may remember my Chili Lime Snap Pea Recipe from Real Simple awhile back, well this is just as simple and just as yummy.  I love that it takes five minutes to assemble and is fresh and the veggies are crunchy and it has plenty of flavor.  The ingredients are also very easy to find!

Bill is a huge fennel fan, and every time we are at the farmer's market he suggests it, but my aversion to the smell has always prevented us from purchasing it (it has a black licorice/anise scent).  However, I found including it in a salad with a flavorful vinaigrette seemed to overpower the pungentness (is that a word?) and make it very complimentary.  

This is something I made more with him in mind and ended up loving it myself.  We also tried golden beets this week, and those were not a hit in the Roger's household, but we gave them the old college try! 

Enjoy your weekend friends!  Eat well and try something new :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Be Encouraged - Conquering My Mind

About 3 years ago a friend of mine and I checked out a spin class around the corner from my work. I will be the first to tell you fitness was not as important to me then as it is now, although I was in denial about that at the time. I mean, sure, I wanted to be skinny, but I really didn't want to try THAT hard to accomplish it. Suffice it to say, my world got rocked. I pushed my way through the class, not having any idea what I had gotten myself into, my body wasn't ready, which was evidenced by the way that I struggled to walk the next few days, but truthfully, my mind was the bigger problem. I was not in a place to push myself and I had some healing to do. Regardless, my stubborn nature made me put my foot down and say I would never go back.

About a month ago, that same friend sent me a Groupon to the same Spin studio, and I jumped at the chance to go back and prove to myself I had changed. I wanted to see the progress and be reminded that I have grown both physically and mentally. I have been taking classes there for a few weeks, and while my Groupon is almost gone, I am really proud to say I am enjoying it and really getting into the victory of charging at something that once felt impossible. The class is definitely not easy, and I love that I am up for it.

I want this to be an encouragement to you. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. Sometimes we don't see the progress for a long time. In my situation, I needed to heal from some hurt and I really didn't feel capable of much professionally, personally or physically. Since that time I have grown in all of those areas of my life and genuinely feel like a more complete person. Give yourself grace and try to get to the bottom of why you are feeling the way that you are. I had to really dig in, and I found success in a lot of ways.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

Food I Ate Fridays - Annette's Enchiladas

This Food I Ate Friday comes without a picture, because, let's be honest, I forgot as usual to take one!  But, please, do not let that hold you back from making this delicious dish.  Bill and I had a bunch of people over for Cinco De Mayo and this was one of the dishes we prepared for our friends.  It was such a hit that I sent all the leftovers home with different people.  Homemade snacks and lots of drinks were provided by friends, and the carnitas tacos flew out of the pan so fast I had to shred left over chicken in the fridge.  Our house is small, but it sure did hold a lot of good times that night. 

I will be reviewing the book in the future that this yumminess came from, Bread and Wine, and most likely trying a few more recipes from it.  Her encouragement to be in the moment and focus on feeding people to encourage their comfort, which will promote closeness and openness in a community, is something I intend to explore more fully.  Generosity is only the beginning, it is about wanting people to be comfortable and worrying about them and their hearts more than you are worried about your stuff.  But I am getting ahead of myself, this is not the book review yet!

I hope you make these enchiladas for a group of friends, they really were so yummy and so easy and just really good comfort food.

1 cup Sour Cream (8 ounces)
1 large can Green Enchilada Sauce (28 ounces, Las Palmas is the best)
2 4 ounce cans Green Chilies, diced
3 cups cooked Chicken, shredded (a roasting chicken from grocery store works great)
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
12-15 Corn Tortillas
1 cup Chicken Broth
chopped Cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Mix green sauce, canned chilies, and sour cream together in a bowl. Set aside.
2) Simmer chicken broth in a skillet. Have shredded chicken, cheese ready. Make yourself a little assembly line.
3) Spread 1 ladle full of sauce mixture in bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
4) Dip tortillas in broth and layer over sauce. Next a layer of chicken, then cheese, sauce, repeat…tortillas, chicken, cheese, sauce. Last layer is tortillas, sauce and cheese.
5)Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until warmed through. I like my cheese to get bubbly and browned around the edges. 
6) Let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting. 
7) Garnish with cilantro.

See what I'm saying... EASY!  Invite people into your home soon.  It doesn't have to be perfect and amazing, they just have to feel welcome.

Enjoy the weekend friends. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Season of Reading - A Thousand Days in Venice

This book…  I guess I have found my genre, food inspired memoirs.  

My heart sings when I read her words.  Woman who are adventurous, go on and on about markets and fresh produce, walk you through the steps of their cooking, describe food so well you can smell it… yup I can read those kinds of books all day. 

You may remember me writing about A Thousand Days in Tuscany, and what I didn't realize when I began that book was that I was reading the second book in a series of three.  A Thousand Days in Venice is the first book in the series, and reading it was like already knowing a couple in their established marriage and their lives as one, and then one beautiful evening over a glass of deep red wine with lights strung overhead hearing about how they met.  It was genuinely so lovely to read about their lives intertwining, her life before she met him, and their romance leading to their wedding.   

Their love story is just like anyone else's - ups and downs and frustrations ad confusion and really magical moments.  She paints a very realistic picture of life and what moving overseas is like.  While she has lovely things to say about living in Italy, it was also a hard transition, and one that her family did not necessarily understand.  I just loved how she found her way and found places that made her heart feel at home.  The beauty of the story is in the detail and in the moments where she knew she was in the right place. 

I am really looking forward to wrapping up this series and reading more about their lives together and her processing through what her life became, the beautiful and the change.  

I highly recommend this series to any kindred spirit of mine.