Chasing Dreams

Chasing Dreams, Walt Disney, Dreams, Dreaming, Hope

Chasing dreams. I am chasing dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer. Even as a tiny girl I was dreaming of what could be, might be, or what I hoped would be. The three dreams that have stayed with me, have remained largely unchanged. Time has moved on. My life is nothing like I imagined it would at this point. But these three hang on.

I’m a 39-year-old single woman that has spent recent years working too much. I have been almost entirely focused on everyone, but me. It goes with the job. But, as time has moved forward, I’ve become more aware that what we do {or don’t do} each day builds upon the next. The moments build until one day, we’re looking back at years stacked upon years.

If you’re smart, you figured this out when you were young. If you’re smart, but spent more time focused on a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter, or lost yourself somewhere along the way {like me}, then you probably have time to make up for.

I’m not very good with New Years resolutions. But for quite a few years now I’ve had a “word” for each year. I pray about the word a little. And somehow, at the start of each new year, a word pops up. This year’s word is “intentional.” It fit. It still fits.

I’ve not been intentional in the sense that I want to be. And now, five years after starting a new career, I see that though I was intentional about work, I failed to see the ways in which the little moments would stack up to years, in my personal life.

My dreams aren’t crazy, pie in the sky kind of dreams. They’re actually pretty simple. This, of course, leads me to wonder how it is that I’m 39, single, without a family, and not consistently writing. While, in a sense, I can’t control all aspects of being single, I do know that I control the factors that keep me tied to my home, afraid to step out, or too tired from work to do so. I do control those factors which lead to fatigue and an over-focus on my career, which means I feel less able to write consistently.

I’ve known that a new phase of life was knocking at my door. Being intentional with my time, dreams, and ultimately my calling is part of that new phase. Though I’ve been blogging since 2004, I knew the old blogging space needed a change, too. So here I am. Chasing Dreams. 

For a girl with a thirsty heart, messy, wild hair, big dreams, hope and never ending passion, it’s not always evident in my own life. I’m certain I’m not alone in that. In fact, I know that’s a common theme for many that are successful in their careers, yet unfulfilled.

So here’s to the start of a new journey. I hope if you saw yourself in any of this post, you’ll join me!

~ Elaina

Apple Cider Bourbon

Bourbon, Knob Creek, Apple Cider, Apple Cider Bourbon, Adult Beverage, Autumn

It’s still hot here in the Carolinas. Last weekend temps were in the 60’s when I woke up. I sat on the back deck to eat breakfast and drink my coffee. It gave me a little hope that the hot, humid summer would be on its way out soon.

Last autumn, I made some new drinks, inspired by Pinterest, the cold weather and my absolutely insane October-December. This beauty, apple cider bourbon was my favorite, by far. I even like this better than apple cider margaritas. I know! Crazy, right?

I found the recipe, here. And while I usually change up recipes I find online {almost 100% of the time}, this one didn’t need any changes. It’s perfect.

In honor of my dreams of Autumn, football, turning leaves and sweater weather . . . here is Apple Cider Bourbon.

Ingredients

4 oz apple cider {I buy a fresh cider, made here in my area! So delish.}

2 oz bourbon {I buy Knob Creek}

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

orange wedge

rosemary sprig

Directions

1. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

2. Cut an orange and use a wedge to coat the edges of your glass.

3. In a shaker with ice, combine the cider and bourbon. Pour into your glass.

4. Garnish with an orange wedge and small sprig of rosemary.

For My Daughter

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Photo by: Adrian

To my future daughter –

I am terrified of being a mom to a girl. Terrified. I say this often. But I’ve met some bumps along my path and more than anything, I hope your path will be smoother. I’m pretty sure you won’t listen to me when you’re 12, 14, 16 & 18. So I figure I’ll start now and maybe you’ll read the advice rather than listening to my blah-blah-blah-ing, later. And I totally know that’s what I’ll sound like.

Here’s what I want you to know:

1. You are unique, one of a kind, raised to be strong, fierce and capable. You are an individual. My path, or your father’s, does not need to be your path. Search. Seek. Dig. Try new things and then follow your gut. If you feel pressure to be a lawyer from some unknown source, but what you really want to do is go to culinary school, I want you to go to culinary school. I will be your biggest cheerleader.

2. If you come downstairs when you’re three years old wearing red rain boots, pink shorts and an orange t-shirt, I will tell you I love your outfit and probably won’t ask you to change. Unless we’re going to a wedding. Or a funeral. Or an inauguration. From number 1 . . . You are unique, one of a kind, raised to be strong, fierce and capable. You are an individual . . .” Your own unique style whether it’s quirky, super trendy or none of the above, is your style. But yes, I’m going to say it, as long as you’re in my house, you will look your age and not 10 years older than you actually are. And if you fight me on this, I’ll lock you in your room, home school you and make you wear these. Okay, not really. But don’t rush. Time moves so fast on its own. Someday you will totally rock the micro mini-skirt. Just not while you live with me.

3. You will be raised to be strong and fierce (see 1 & 2) but it’s okay to be admit you need help, don’t have all the answers or need advice.

4. Please listen to Ryan Adams. And then come find me when you are overwhelmed by the beauty of My Love for You is Real.

5. Bloom where you’re planted. It’s a cliche. I know. But it’s just the damn truth. So if you find yourself somewhere you didn’t plan, make it an adventure and become the best version of yourself, until it’s time to move on.

6. When your mama, your friends, your daddy and your dog do not like the boy, you need to let him go.

7. If all of the above like the boy, but something in your gut still says it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

8. If you want to have children, do not marry a man that does not want to have children. Do not marry a man that doesn’t want to have kids.

9. Love first. Let it be your motivation and let it, and grace be first from your mouth versus judgement and condemnation of another.

10. If you meet a man that flirts with you, maybe even willingly accepts your heart or toys with your emotions but never makes you his, you need to let him go {no matter what your heart is saying}. Our hearts have this amazing, enormous capacity to dream, hope and love. But our hearts can also lead us to places that aren’t the best for us. I have stories. Don’t make me share them.

11. The man that is worthy of your heart will not toy with you or your emotions. He will protect. He will cherish you. And He will not let you get away.

12. You need to want to spend the rest of your life with the man in front of you, as he is. You need to want the man he is – not a version of a man you want him to be.

13. Be honest. But speak the truth in love.

14. Find reasons to be thankful – every day. If you practice it, when the ugly comes along, it’s so much easier to rid your heart of it, if gratitude is never far from your thoughts.

15. When you meet the one, don’t speak poorly of him in front of others. Your words and the cutting comments have the ability to slowly chip away at his spirit. At its very core, respecting this man, whomever he may be, is to show him your admiration and that you value him. You will not regret that decision.

To be continued . . . 

Fried Green Delish

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I know! It has been awhile. Shortly after my last post, I made a scrumptious Easter dinner. Of which I intended to post about. But it started what ultimately turned into several weeks of being sick and/or having no appetite. Horrible, no?

Anywho. I’ve taken photos of a few other recipes but I thought I’d get back into the game with what I made tonight.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk, Chipotle Dressing!
Oh. My. Holy. Heck. Were these ever good?!
I’ve made fried green tomatoes before but this version was the best yet.
The goods:
1lb Bacon {I used Hormel Old Smokehouse Bacon – cured with sugar. Because it’s amazeballs.}
Fried Green Tomatoes – Ingredients:
2 green tomatoes, sliced
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Masa Harina (corn flour)
1/4 Cup Corn Meal
salt and pepper for seasoning
oil or bacon grease for frying {I way prefer bacon grease, dudes.}
Buttermilk Chipotle Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Mayonaise
1 TBL Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Chipotle powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
For the tomatoes:
Slice tomatoes and place in 1/4 cup buttermilk. Soak for thirty minutes. I flipped them over after 15 minutes. If you’d like, you can double the buttermilk. That’s what I did.
In a separate bowl, mix the masa harina, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Masa harina is a staple in my mostly gluten free home {I’ll explain the mostly later.}. This is the cornmeal I buy. I’m fond of the packaging. Yeah, I don’t. It just makes me feel southern. Even though I’m not even remotely southern. I’m fond of buying products from my own area code.
While your tomatoes soak, fry up your bacon. I place on plates with paper towels as I go, letting the bacon fat and drippings stick to the pan.
Once I was about done with the bacon, I dredged the tomatoes in the the cornmeal mixture.
Sometimes, the way I cook isn’t pretty. And sometimes, I don’t take perfect photos. And sometimes, my hands are caked with cornmeal and masa harina and my tomatoes are lumpy. But I don’t even care.
Once the bacon is finished, I immediately started frying the tomatoes. Each side should be done in three minutes. I did have to add a smidge of vegetable oil to finish. But I did use the same pan I fried the bacon in. So delish, yo.
While frying the tomatoes, I made the dressing. Combine the buttermilk, mayo, salt and chipotle in a bowl. I actually doubled the buttermilk and mayo {but not the other ingredients}. You don’t have to. If you don’t, there will be a bit more bite to yours and you may not have any leftovers.
As I finished the tomatoes, I placed them on a plate with paper towels to soak up some of the oil. After finishing the tomatoes, I did this . . .
Oh goodness. This was so good. I need people to cook for. I simply cannot cook for just myself any longer. 😉
You should try it. You’ll like it. Tart, spicy, savory. Mmm…DE-lish!

Drinking: Margaritas. I don’t know. I’m in a mood. I had one last night too. This ain’t yo’ mama’s margarita though. It’s super low-cal and not even remotely sweet. Me likey.

Listening to: Coldplay station on Pandora. I’m sort of addicted.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

I have a strawberry problem. I was such a freak about strawberries when I was a kid, my Grandma made me a purse with strawberries on the fabric. I was am a nerd. Strawberries are, without a doubt, my favorite fruit. Someday I shall grow them. And annoy my someday family with strawberry everything.

In other news, I know I just shared a recipe with balsamic vinegar. But I was in the mood for this salad and so . . . here we are.

Caprese salads are on a continual repeat in my house during the summer months. The typical tomato Caprese, with fresh mozzarella pearls is my favorite. Every once in a while I change that up with small chunks of avocado. I have also made a couple of variations to include a plum Caprese salad that was ahhhmahzzing.

I’ve seen a few variations of strawberry Caprese salads on Pinterest. I’m all about trying a few of those this summer. But this one is a tad different. Me likey. It calls for a balsamic reduction that makes it over the top delish.

So here ya go:

For the balsamic reduction:
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
For the salad:
Whatever lettuce you want to use (I know some food blogger guru is freaking out right now but whatever. Use what you like. I prefer the spring mix or spring mix/baby spinach blend.)
1 cup strawberries
Fresh mozzarella (Pearls are perfect, but cubing some fresh mozzarella is easy peasy)
A handful of basil leaves, torn
Toasted sliced almonds (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Flaky or coarse salt (I use Morton’s Coarse Sea Salt)
1. The reduction is super simple. If you’re like me, I had no idea what a reduction was when I started my learning to cook journey. If that’s the case, Google is your friend. But here is one website you can check out. Combine 2 Tablespoons of honey (I use local honey. It’s worth the price, ya’ll.)  and 1/3 Cup of balsamic vinegar, in a small saucepan (medium to low heat).

2. Bring to simmer. Stir from time to time. You will continue to simmer until it’s reduced by 1/3. You’ll want to see it quite bubbly and thick. It will look like this:

You should be able to tell that it’s reduced (you will likely be able to see the original line on the side of the saucepan). If you’ve never made a reduction before, you may not want to wander too far from the stove. It should simmer like this for about five minutes. It will be quite thick.

3. Turn off the heat, and set the reduction aside. I cool mine on the counter in the glass container I store it in.

4. The original recipe suggests the use of baby lettuce. I say . . . use what you’ve got/what you like. My preference is a mix of organic spring greens and baby spinach. I love to cook. And I love learning what I can. But sometimes, people are so snobby about food. I can’t handle it. You’re probably not going to get an iceberg lettuce salad at my house. I do think it impacts the taste of the salad. But if you’re not very adventurous and it’s hard for you to step out of your box, use what you’ve got. If you want to branch out, try a red/green lettuce first. Anywho, arrange your greens on a plate.

5. After washing/hulling a handful of strawberries, quarter them and place on the greens. You’ll then place your mozzarella pearls on the salad. I have trouble finding the pearls here (here = the boondocks) sometimes. If you can’t find them, or you already have fresh mozzarella, cut it into small chunks and go for it. Pearls Schmearls. Use what you’ve got. Unless it’s not fresh mozzarella. In that case, get thee to the store. You will then rip up some fresh basil and add that in for good measure.

6. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on top of the salad. And then drizzle 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons (I use 2. Okay, maybe sometimes more. But whatever.) of the reduction. Add slivered almonds (I had honey roasted almonds) and some coarse salt.

Lordy, ya’ll. This is so good:
If you don’t have the flaky or coarse salt, I don’t recommend using salt at all. I didn’t the first time. I loved the salad then. This time? The salt takes it to a whole other level. It’s an awesome combo of sweet, salty and savory.
You’ll have enough reduction for 4-5 salads. It will keep at room temperature if you’re like me and cooking for one. But I recommend glass versus plastic for storing.
Try it. You’ll like it.

On another note, I ate this with a mushroom alfredo pasta. I am not going to lie to you. I bought a store bought alfredo (Classico). But in a moment of sheer insanity, I made Julia Child’s “Champignons Sautés Au Beurre” to add to the alfredo sauce. Sounds super fancy, right? It’s sauteed mushrooms. But honestly, made this way, they’re amazing.It’s 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. It’s impossible to go wrong with mushrooms cooked this way. These sauteed mushrooms actually go in Julia’s Beef Bourguignon recipe (which I have made). I could seriously just eat these without anything else for dinner. I’m not kidding.

You think I’m kidding. But I’m not kidding. They’re pretty awesome. I added those to the sauce, cooked up some gluten free spaghetti and then? I chowed down.

I might have made a second salad. Okay, I did. So delish.

Drinking: Pinot Grigio
Listening to: Dinner with Friends & French Dinner Party on Spotify

Food Is Love

In the late days of spring, when the chill is gone and when summer sits right at the gate, quietly whispering its promise, I’ll cook a meal, our first to be eaten outside for months. The table will be surrounded by candles and white lights. Whatever flowers I found at the farmer’s market, on the table.
In the kitchen, with Pandora choosing our soundtrack, I’ll dance around, my spirit light and full of hope. I don’t know why it is that cooking does this for me {or maybe I do}, but long before I take a sip of wine, I’m intoxicated.
Coq Au Vin, parsley potatoes and if I want to really Julia Child it, buttered green peas. There’s a joy that takes over me when in the kitchen, but it increases when I’m cooking for others. The routine of chopping, pouring and measuring is better than therapy. And knowing that I’ll serve another increases this soul satisfaction.
When the food is ready and we sit to eat, you’ll pour the Cotes du Rhone for both of us. I’ll wait for you to take the first bite. And then for your approval. Which, I will get. But I’ll wait with anticipation just the same.
There’s something so absolutely beautiful about a meal shared. Food made well, and with passion is sensual and life-giving. It meets a basic need for nourishment. And yet, there’s something so luxurious about the process of creating. And then, the slow process of savoring a meal with company you treasure, begins.

Who Am I?

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I am a writer. Love sentence fragments, cooking, and taking care of the people I love. I’m oddly fond of Don Henley & pine trees. I love Jesus. Wine. My dog. But not necessarily in that order.

And I’m a girl with messy hair and a thirsty heart.