Foster Care Adventures – Week 1

Dream

My first foster care class is Monday night. This has been a long time coming. Maybe more than thirty years as I’ve dreamed of this very thing since I was a kid. There truly is nothing I’ve wanted more in my life than to have a family.

Beyond wanting a family, I have always known that I was meant to take care of kids who need someone to love them unconditionally and to provide a safe and secure environment to grow and heal. With foster care, I know I won’t be able to predict how long a child is with me. But for as long as they’re in my home, they will be cared for as if they were my own.

I know the coming weeks will stretch me. I know that I will learn and be challenged. I know that I will wonder how all of the pieces will come together. I still wonder how everything will work. I still feel loss of my job due to funding cuts. I still wonder how many people will think I’m crazy for doing this as a single woman.

But this new journey is long overdue. In the moments when I don’t have the answers, I know God does. And I know that He will not call me to do something {which I believe He is}, without giving me everything I need to make it happen.

So here we go! Week 1…

Drunken Mushrooms? Why not?

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I’ve lost my cooking mojo. I really have. I hate that. But it is what it is. Last night, I was alone in my kitchen {Pandora serenading}. That was glorious. Wonder of wonders . . . I cooked. I’m so glad I did.

I haven’t had a mushroom dish in a while so while in Morehead City on Saturday, I found a mushroom mix (oyster, portobello, shiitake) from Harris Teeter that was perfect.

As usual, I used a recipe {found here} as my starting point but deviated from it to fit my tastes and what I had on hand otherwise.

Before I get to the recipe, I have a confession . . . I’m scatterbrained sometimes. I have 50 things going on at once and since I’m not a very good recipe follower, my distraction level when I’m cooking is high. Really.

I used to think prepping beforehand – my ingredients measured out and ready to go – was a waste. But it honestly makes life so much easier for me in the long run. I highly recommend it if you are easily distractible as I am. 🙂

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What could be better than olive oil {and butter}, garlic, onion, sherry & mushrooms? Nothing I tell you.

Ingredients: 

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Butter {actual butter, dude}

Wild Mushroom mix {or whatever you have}

1/2 Half Red Onion

2 Garlic Cloves

1/2 Teaspoon sea salt

3-4 Tablespoons Cooking Sherry {If you’re going for drunken mushrooms, go all out.}

2 Teaspoons of Fresh Thyme

Fresh Parmesan {See recipe above for goat cheese option which would also be DELISH. I just didn’t have any.}

Reserved 3/4 Cup of Pasta Cooking Liquid

Pasta of your choice {I use Barilla’s Gluten Free pasta.}

  1. Heat a skillet over medium to high heat. I have a very hot gas stove and tend towards medium.
  2. Start heating water {with olive oil} for pasta.
  3. I added 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, once hot. This differs from the recipe linked to above. Julia cooked her mushrooms in butter and olive oil. So yeah. I do too.
  4. I thew in my mushroom mix. IMG_1735
  5. Saute until they start to brown slightly. Don’t move them around much.
  6. Add onions, garlic and salt to the mushrooms. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes until onions soften. IMG_1738

7. Add the sherry to the mushrooms and then cook until it’s evaporated. I added a squeeze of fresh lemon. I don’t know. It’s a thing with me.

8. Drain pasta {except for the 3/4 cup}.

9. Add thyme to mushrooms and then toss pasta, water from pasta, and mushroom/onion mix.

10. Add fresh Parmesan and toss again.

11. And then . . . eat, ya’ll.

This was so good. It hit the spot. Maybe I’ll cook again tonight?

 

Honey Lemon Chicken with Pasta {Gluten Free of Course}

Honey Lemon Chicken, Chicken,

Listening to: No music for me tonight. Fixer Upper was my soundtrack.

Drinking: La Vieille Ferme Luberon Blanc 2014

It’s been a crazy few weeks, dudes. My house still isn’t in order even though I moved two months ago. I’m not a huge fan of the set-up of the living room or kitchen so I’m not feeling super motivated to cook. Or to do anything for that matter (#realtalk). But I cooked. And it was good.

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As for my house, I love houses with tons of light. My house is very dark. I feel like I live in a cabin in the woods. The yard has trees everywhere. I LOVE this. I really do. But everything is so dark and I have sucky cameras or my iPhone so when I’ve taken photos  . . . well, they’re not looking so hot. Don’t let my photos keep you from trying this. It really is quite good.

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The recipe needs some tweaking for next time, but it’s still a winner overall. I slightly adapted a recipe from Averie Cooks, after finding the recipe on Pinterest today. I will probably do some more tweaking the next time. It was much sweeter than I anticipated. Here is my adapted recipe. You can find the original at the link just above.

honey lemon chicken with pasta, gluten free

Ingredients

1/2 box of your favorite pasta. I used Barilla Gluten Free spaghetti noodles.                                                                         1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced

Directions

Mix the honey, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt/pepper to a bowl and whisk. Once ingredients are combined, set aside.

Heat water for pasta and then add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a pan to cook the chicken. In addition to the salt/pepper in the sauce, I lightly seasoned the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook chicken about 6-7 (these chicken breasts were quite thick – less time may be needed) minutes per side. Mine had such a nice color to it – perfect. Once the water is boiling for the water, add your pasta. I added olive oil to the water as gluten free pasta can be clumpy.

After about 10 minutes, add the sauce to the pan. Boil the sauce with the chicken, until it thickens. Stir often.

Once the pasta was done, I drained it and then tossed it slightly with a pat of butter and squeezed more lemon onto the pasta. At this point, I thought it was sweeter than I expected so I was looking for something to cut through the sweetness a bit.

Add the sauce and chicken and then toss! I sprinkled some parmesan on, in addition to the extra lemon to even out more of the sweetness.

While sweeter than I expected, this was delish!

I don’t buy lemon pepper seasoning which is an ingredient in the original recipe. Nonetheless, I don’t think I’d add that next time. What I will do is cut down the honey and add some more lemon.

Try it!

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.

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.