NonBreezy 2012

Several years ago, a group of my girlfriends and I spent a snowy weekend at Breezy Point Resort in central Minnesota. We have made our winter getaway a nearly-annual event since then, but we haven’t been back to Breezy in several years. Regardless, the official unofficial name for the weekend has become “Breezy,” although it’s lately been morphing into “NonBreezy” or “UnBreezy.” Creatures of habit, we are…

Actually, the creatures of habit thing isn’t a joke. Unfailingly, the weekend consists of lots of talking, lots of laughing, a craft project or two (thanks, Mindy!), lots of movies, and several Ryan Gosling references. Oh, and food. Lots and lots of food. WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. Our menu really hasn’t varied much since we started doing these weekends. Yoga pants, Chex mix, Buffalo Chicken Dip, fondue, and Twachos have become the staples. What are Twachos, you ask? They’re nachos that you eat while watching a Twilight movie.

Meme credit goes to Becky

This year we switched it up a little bit, adding some Saturday morning yoga demonstrations, and making good use of the hot tub and sauna that this year’s house had. We also skipped the fondue, and adding some more fried things. I think we were all more sick from junk food by Sunday morning than we’ve ever been before… but it’s only one weekend a year, right?
junk food

Junk food, night one 

backup

Backup junk food

IMG_5749

Jalapeno popper dip, beer cheese fondue

pickle egg rolls

Pickle cream cheese egg rolls!!! Originally inspired by a happy hour that  An Herbalist Eats wrote about and I couldn’t get out of my brain…

ghetto picklerolls

Pickle cream cheese egg rolls MUST be eaten off of a styrofoam plate, with Ranch.

fried zucchini

Fried zucchini

buffalo chicken beginnings

Buffalo Chicken Dip: Before

buffalo chicken dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip: After

chex mix

Chex Mix, with Cheez-Its

puppy chow

Puppy Chow

cream cheese sriracha wontons

Sriracha-Cream Cheese Wontons

twachos

Twachos – photo credit to Shannon

Sick Day 7 Minute Fried Rice

I’m sick. With what, I’m not quite sure. I’ve had a grab bag of symptoms over the last few days that don’t make any sense whatsoever. Let’s just call it “the ick.”

After eating nothing but crackers, toast, applesauce, chicken noodle soup, and rice for the last couple of days, I found myself craving real food today.

Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten groceries in more than a week. Random leftover time!

I had some leftover rice in the fridge from yesterday. That was a good starting point.

First I heated some oil in a cast iron skillet.

IMG_5725

Then I realized that I was going to be adding cubed salami leftover from a Bloody Mary bar last weekend, so I probably didn’t need all that oil. I wiped most of it out.

I added the cubed salami, and cooked it for a few minutes until it was browned.

IMG_5729

I cracked two eggs into a bowl, and beat them well.

.

I then thawed some frozen peas under running water. You can hardly even tell they’re completely freezer-burned.

IMG_5731

Dump in the egg, and toss for a few seconds.

IMG_5735

Mmmm… scrambled egg and salami. Who does this?

IMG_5736

Add the rice. Stir.

IMG_5737

Add the peas.

IMG_5738

Remember that you’re out of soy sauce. Curse like a sailor. Add some Trader Joe’s potsticker sauce to the pan, along with garlic chili paste and sesame oil. Just a little of the oil, and a glug of the potsticker sauce, and a big heaping spoonful of the garlic chili paste. Num.

IMG_5740

Tah-dah!

IMG_5739

I had a can of ginger ale standing by. After 2 days of bland foods, I was afraid my stomach may not be very pleased with me.

IMG_5743

Sick Day 7 Minute Fried Rice

 

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
~1 cup of cubed hard salami (or you could use bacon, or leave the meat out altogether – add more veggies if you do this)
2 eggs, beaten
1.5 cups of frozen peas, thawed
2 cups of cold, leftover, cooked rice
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp potsticker sauce
3 Tbsp garlic chili paste

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet or wok

Add the meat and cook until browned

Add the beaten egg, and stir until nearly cooked

Add the peas

Add the rice

Add the sesame oil, potsticker sauce, and garlic chili paste. Use more or less of each of these to taste.

Additions that would have been nice if I’d had them, or felt like chopping anything, would be garlic, ginger, fresh basil, Thai basil, or cilantro.

Chemo Quilt

new fabric!

How to make a quilt in 10 days while working a full-time job, and doing a girls’ cabin weekend in the middle of it all (a.k.a. quick ‘n dirty style):

Day 1: Decide, upon hearing that your dear auntie who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer will be starting chemo in 10 days, that you MUST make her a care package, complete with handmade lap quilt. Make plans to hit the fabric store after your New Year’s Day date with your husband. Curse the universe when you realize that the fabric store closes too early for you to get there.

IMG_5682

Day 2: In a 20 minute between-appointments break at work, run into your favorite local fabric store. Grab several bolts of your favorite Anna Maria Horner fabric, thank your lucky stars that there isn’t a line at the cutting table, and walk out with about 1/2 yard each of 6 quilting cottons and 1 yard each of voile. On the drive home, wrestle with the eternal question: to prewash or not to prewash?? Opt to prewash.

IMG_5683

Day 3: Decide that you don’t have time to use an elaborate pattern. Start laying out the fabric on your living room floor, keeping the pieces as large as possible. Time is of the essence… planning and piecing eats time. Misplace your scissors. Burst into tears a few times. Ponder the thought of losing yet another family member so soon… Start ripping fabric. Discover that your plan for the backing won’t work. Dig through stash, find more fabric. Assemble the top and the back. Cry yourself to sleep.

IMG_5685

Day 4: Make your quilt sandwich, using organic cotton batting and basting spray to hold everything together. Try not to spray your dog, because he keeps trying to “help.” Gather quilting needles, thread, curse yourself for failing (again) to buy a thimble.

IMG_5708

Day 5: Go out of town with your girlfriends. Take a day off from working on the quilt. Say a silent “thank you” to the universe for blessing you with such great friends.

IMG_5693

Day 6: Everyone knows that girls’ weekends are filled with wine, chatting, more wine, more chatting, and other sedentary activities (except that one time when there was snow – we went snowshoeing!). Use this opportunity to start the hand quilting. Work on the stitching whenever sitting down, which ends up being about 10 hours over the whole day.

IMG_5692

Day 7: Continue stitching on the drive home, and for the rest of the evening. It helps if your husband is sleeping on the couch.

IMG_5710
Day 8: Stitch stitch stitch!

Day 9: Yes, more stitching! Finish! Stand back and realize – whoah. Those colors are, um. Bold. Loud. Not exactly subtle. Then again, there’s nothing subtle about cancer.

IMG_5716

Day 10: Trim the edges. Realize that the failure to measure anything while assembling results in less-than-square corners. Decide you don’t care. Make double-fold bias binding. Machine-stitch to the quilt. Wash and dry!

My sister and I delivered the care package to my aunt last weekend, right after she finished the first treatment. She loves it, and refuses to bring it with her to her treatments.  That’s alright. It can stay at home.

In case you find yourself in this situation and are looking for chemo care package ideas, here is what we came up with:

Large tote bag
Slim expanding file folder
Business card folder
Notebook/journal
Fun pens
iTunes gift card
Extension cord (for her iPad)
Hard candies (sugar-free Jolly Ranchers, Werther’s, mints, honey-lemon lozenges)
Smartwater
Water flavorings (Crystal Lite packets, Mio water flavor drops)
Various teas (Smooth Move, Ginger, Peppermint)
Crystalized ginger
Assorted hand lotions
Lip balm
A tea kettle & pretty mug
Cozy lounge pants, t-shirts, and zip-front hoodies

I feel like there was more in there… I can’t remember what else though. We made a pot of vegetable soup and a pan of veggie lasagna and froze those in single servings. We also cooked some frozen fruit, then re-froze it in ice cube trays. We thought those might come in handy if her white blood cell counts go low, and she wants to keep doing smoothies.

Now we just need to say our prayers and call in our favors and hope that she comes through this as strong as ever.

10 Minute Gnocchi with Bacon, Peas, and Roquefort Cream Sauce (and Tofu, and Pot Pie)

The beginning of a new year typically starts with all sorts of healthy goals, hints, tips, aspirations, lies, etc. I’m going to backtrack into the completely opposite direction with this one. Bacon, cream, cheese… Holler!

Gnocchi

Menu planning around the holidays is tough for us, due to odd work hours and other last-minute things popping up. Rather than waste food we tend to under-buy. Unfortunately, this means we end up walking to the bar down the street for frozen pizza more frequently than we’d like.

I made this a couple of weeks ago. We had intended to be at a holiday party that night, so I didn’t have anything planned for dinner. Unfortunately, we both ended up working late so we had to miss it. I was totally brain dead, the fridge was stocked full of Christmas cookies, nearly-expired milk and a few random odds and ends but not much else.

I was going to throw together a pasta, but I found a package of gnocchi in the cupboard. I had a few pieces of bacon in the fridge, part of a carton of heavy cream left from Thanksgiving (yes, really – that stuff keeps forever), a little piece of Roquefort left from our cookie baking extravaganza the weekend before (a snack – it didn’t go in the cookies! although…hm…), some leftover walnuts from the cookies, and a bag of peas in the freezer. I could work with that.

10 Minute Gnocchi with Bacon, Peas, and Roquefort Cream Sauce

1 package of gnocchi
2-3 strips of bacon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup heavy cream
a chunk of Roquefort cheese, broken into pieces (Or any creamy blue cheese – don’t use the crumbles. They’re gross)
1 cup of frozen peas
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Start a pot of water boiling. While the water boils, make the sauce.

Chop (or cut) the bacon into small pieces. A kitchen shears works well for this. Cook over medium-high heat, until it is browned and the fat renders off. This is a higher heat than I normally cook bacon on, but I was in a hurry. Keep it moving in the pan so it doesn’t burn.

Drain off most of the fat, and add the garlic to the pan. Cook until it is fragrant, but not browned.

Add the cream and the cheese, and stir until the cheese melts. Lower the heat to medium-low.

Add the peas.

When the water boils, cook the gnocchi according to the package. These only take 2-3 minutes to cook. Keep an eye on them!

Before draining the gnocchi, scoop out about a cup (or more) of the cooking water.

Drain the gnocchi, and add to the pan with the sauce. Stir to combine. Add some of the cooking water in until the sauce is the consistency you like it. I wanted it thin enough to coat all of the gnocchi, but not so thin that it was watery.

Serve with walnuts sprinkled over the top. Go to the gym tomorrow.

If you’re looking for something a little healthier, try this one.

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Greens
Tofu

Made pretty much exactly as written here.  I used regular rice instead of spiced quinoa, and I just steamed the greens (I used arugula) in the same pan. And I added some baby bell peppers. If I did it again, I’d double or triple the sauce.

And if you want to bounce back to the rich, creamy, totally un-Resolutiony things, here’s a killer pot pie recipe. It’s ridiculous.

Martha Stewart’s Chicken Pot Pie

Pot pie

Recipe is here. I usually use a store-bought pie crust, but this was a special occasion, so I made her thyme pie crust from scratch. It’s so good, but you will feel your rear end expanding with every bite. Yum.

%d bloggers like this: