happenings, part 5

Heeeellllooooo!! Are you so dang ready for a holiday? Me, too. This has been one of those sorta rough weeks in genetics land. Most days, I do what I do without too much thought about it, hoping I do a good job, hoping I’m not too much of a downer but at the same time not too optimistic either. Usually, I easily leave work behind, but sometimes, sometimes it creeps home. Sometimes it just plain smacks you right in the face. Genes are scary things, that’s for sure.

But enough about that, for now. Sometimes faith, in any form, is all you have.

Meanwhile, I found a few links to share with you, so check these out. I even listed some recipe suggestions for the 4th.

  • Some reviews just crack me the f up. How rude!
  • Just re-found this site and am super stoked about this salmon recipe. It seems anything with avocado is a go for me :).
  • I found another food blog to add to my reader. I like when that happens!
  • Checked out another restaurant on my “to eat” list last weekend, and going here tonight! Thanks for visiting, Charles + Kristy!
  • Bon Appetit has published a San Francisco dining guide. Not bad, actually, but please, don’t you dare call it “San Fran”. That’s just lame.
  • Chris upgraded to the new iPad this week, which means I inherited his and still have no idea what to do with it. For starters, I’m totally addicted to Flipboard. What other things should I use it for?
  • If I had a backyard of my own, I’d totally put these up. Fab.

Last but certainly not least, it’s grill time next week for the 4th of July! Sadly, it falls in the  middle of the week, but I try not to complain about a day off, anywhere I can get it. Here’s a few recipes from my site that are definitely 4th-worthy:

And to spread the wealth a little bit, here’s a few more recipes from around the blogosphere:

Until next week, friends! Drive safe, and eat a lot of crap :).

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Shelled In

Hello. Hi there. How’s it goin’? It’s nice to see you here. It’s nice to know I can move across the country, start a new job, move again, unpack, unpack some more, and then get my internets hooked up and see your smiling faces. Well, not really see you, but you get my drift, yes?

I’m glad you’re here, and I’m glad I’m here.

I’m also glad to have my kitchen back. As of Sunday night, all boxes are unpacked. Now, this doesn’t mean everything is in its place, but great progress has been made on the home front. I will say that it’s hard to move to a smaller place, but I think we’ll manage just fine here.

I think we’ll eat a lot of good dinners together, and I think that, once we procure another dining room table (and chairs of course. chairs are good here.), we’ll eat a lot of dinners with other people too.

But for now, it’s just the two of us (we can make it if we try; just the two of us). That works out  nicely when I make a dish I don’t enjoy sharing, which happens often. Of course, stuffed shells aren’t exactly a novelty, but considering I had an unopened box of jumbo shells in my pantry that made it’s way here all the way from Chicago, I felt it worthy of a housebreaking meal.

Also, my favorite mother-and-father-in-law mailed me some extra-tasty fine Italian cheeses for my birthday, and I took this as an opportunity to use some of them. Now, you don’t have to go all out and put your best cheese on this dish, but you could if you wanted. In our house, cheese has to get used quickly, or else it risks getting eaten by a certain cheese-lovin’ boy.

But why eat cheese alone with you can eat it with more cheese, the best tomatoes ever, and pasta? No brainer.

Swiss Chard Stuffed Shells
serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

printable version

ingredients
20 jumbo shells (~1/2 box)
1 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomato puree
1/3 c Asiago cheese, shredded
1/3 c Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded

instructions
preheat oven to 350 F. bring a large pot of water to boil. cook pasta shells according to package directions, being careful not to overcook them. drain and rinse with cold water; pat dry.

meanwhile, make filling. in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese through chard. season with salt and pepper.

taking one shell at a time, stuff with filling until overflowing. place in small baking dish (you want them to all be touching one another, not spread out). pour tomato puree atop stuffed shells and top with the two cheeses. bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. uncover, and bake another 5 minutes.

Keeping it Simple

I took a trip to San Francisco, my future home, this past weekend. I wonder when that won’t sound weird.

My cat took the trip with me, taking her first, and hopefully her last voyage across the country via a 747 loaded with passengers. She was relatively well-behaved, and fortunately she handled the situation much better than I’d anticipated, only meowing constantly during the drive to the airport and during the last hour of the flight. She even clung to me for dear life during the security walk-through, and here I was worried she’d claw and run away. Not too bad, really, all things in perspective.

We made it into the San Jose airport, Chris waiting at the baggage claim, and drove into Cupertino only to find that my cat’s sister, who’d taken the maiden voyage earlier in the week, was not nearly as enthused about big sis’ arrival as we’d expected she’d be. Growling and hissing throughout the weekend, she made sure to assert herself as much as possible, claiming her territory with a quickness and keeping consistent with that theme way after I’d left on Sunday.

Aside from the cat fights, literally, the weekend went just fine. I did realize that, the second I leave my husband alone for a week, he regresses to bachelor mode. Meaning, I opened up his fridge and after two weeks of living there, there were still 4 items in it: eggs, milk, crystal light, and Target brand shredded cheese (!). The pantry also held three distinct items: cereal, Frank’s hot sauce (for the eggs, silly), and cat food. The only thing missing is a case of Bud Light in the door, but I’m gonna chalk that up to him having a cold and being a little bit busier than he’s used to.

That being said, I felt the need to make dinner Friday night. For one, I hadn’t cooked since our big party, which I should remind you was only a week ago so that isn’t really that long. But second, I felt the need to make that temporary apartment feel a bit more homey, and buying olive oil and pasta was a good start.

Let’s just say that the kitchen is lacking a few amenities, but it’s by far stocked with enough tools to make do. Needless to say, it’s a kitchen where you have to keep things simple, and I’m ok with that for the next few months. Heck, I don’t even know if I have it in me to churn out some of these 10-step dishes I’ve talked about in the past, even if I wanted to. Moving is hard work, that’s for sure. But even so, there’s always pasta, and that means a lot.

Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
serves 4

time commitment: less than 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1 T olive oil
1 lb ground organic pork
2 16 oz jars pasta sauce (I used San Marzano tomato-basil)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 box spaghetti

instructions
in a skillet, heat olive oil. toss in pork and cook until browned. dump in pasta sauce, add salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.

meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. drain, and serve with above meat sauce.

Chapter 6

I left you with a little bit of a teaser last week, didn’t I? I’m sorry for that. Well, sort of.

You see, lately life has been full of maybes, what ifs, I don’t knows, whens. Control has left our lives, for the time being, but I think we’re ok with it – to an extent.

Remember how we talked about Chapters in life? I stopped my story at Chapter 5 – Chicago. Chapter 5 had the slightest bit (ok, maybe not so slight) of foreshadowing, didn’t it? I sorta suggested, by writing a Chapter dedicated to Chicago, and leaving a “to be continued” at the end of the post, that a change might be in the works. That’d be a correct assumption, if you assumed that. A change is definitely a-comin’.

It’s true: We’re leaving Chicago. We are moving away from a beautiful city full of culture, amazing architecture, summers spent by the lake riding bikes and watching fireworks, a plethora of scrumptious food, and the list goes on. Most importantly, we’re moving away from many, many friends, and that’s what makes it difficult. Not the breathtaking skyline or the bone-chilling winter, not even my favorite neighborhood or my condo that I love so dearly – the hard part is leaving the people.

It’s crazy, all of this. We’re about to leave behind the only city we, as “we”, know as home – our home. We’re about to leave behind the life we’ve built for 7 years, and the city we fell in love with. The city we thought, perhaps, we would never leave.

But as hard as it seems, as hard as it is, we couldn’t be more excited about it.

We’re moving to San Francisco.

(!!!!!!!!!!!)

So yeah, some things are just meant to be, I guess. Sometimes vacation turns into, “wow, I could live here”. Sometimes things just feel right, and California feels right. Sometimes you have to follow your dreams, or your husband’s dreams.

Sometimes you have to close your eyes, open your arms, and jump.