Thursday, June 21, 2012

With classes finished and graduation from UNF (Swoop!) approaching in August I have been enjoying some free-time as I continue the good ole job hunt. I had the joy of taking a break from hours of applying for jobs by helping out with the youth group at my parents church. These kids are a hoot. Shane, the youth pastor, is a great leader for these kids; you can see the love of Christ working through this group in big ways. Yesterday I got the privilege to be a driver/leader for a beach trip down to Mickler's Beach. 

With a car full of high school girls, and Shakira blasting on the drive down, a good trip was promising. Once at the beach the waves were...big...and choppy...but the students were fearless and had a great time in the water. Yips and hollers from the girls confirmed this and I couldn't help but think "Surely I was never that "squealy" when I was their age, right?" 

Avoiding the surf ( ya ya "but you're a triathlete"- Whatever.) I got to visit with Adrienne and her two adorable sons Jay and Ian. Let me just say Adrienne is awesome;a wonderful woman who selflessly serves the youth, her friends and you'll never hear her complain that a task is too menial. On my sister's wedding day Adrienne (and Jay) pretty much handled all the decorating of the venue voluntarily and by themselves. Without her, it would not have gotten done. She's also a great cyclist! Even though the waves were big enough to keep some of the high school boys of the water, Jay (8years old) took his foam surf board, went for it and caught 3 waves! My hero. While his mom assisted him in the water with the kind of resolve only a true good mother can have in face of that choppy-ness, I got to hang out with little Ian (5 years old) making sandcastles and getting spelling lessons in the sand. 

Once home I rinsed off the beach, threw on some cottony cargo pants, a tank top, and got to cookin' dinner. Last night dad showed me how to make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage. We used store bought whole grain pasta but while the sausage fried up in the pan I tried my hand at homemade spaghetti "rags"...and they were awesome! That exclamation point is not a gesture of bragging, but surprise.

Spaghetti Sauce:

Need It:
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes,...opened (duh)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatos, see above.
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 

Do it: 
In a medium sauce pan heat ~1 tablespoon oil on medium high heat. Once hot, add garlic. Cook until translucent but not browned. Add can of diced tomatoes. Add can of crushed tomatoes. Add basil leaves. Add sugar. Reduce heat, let simmer at just below medium heat for 1 hour; however the longer it simmers the better it will taste so it's up to you!

Whole Grain Pasta :
Need it: 
  • common sense

Do it:
Boil water, throw it in, cook for 9 minutes. You really can't mess this up. 

Italian Sausage: 
Need it: 
  • ...Italian Sausage...
Do It: 
Heat a skillet (I like that word...skillet) with ~1 tablespoon oil to medium high heat. Once hot, add sausage to pan. Brown on all sides, turning every minute to allow even browning. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 Degrees. 

From scratch pasta "rags": (they're called rags because I don't have a pasta press so I just rolled them out by hand, resulting in rag-like amoeba shaped pieces, eh it works) 
Need it: 
2 cups flour (add more as you go along if needed)
3 eggs
salt & pepper 

Do it:
Dump flour into a pile on a wood cutting board (seriously, just dump it). Form a "well" in the middle of the flour to form a volcano-esq structure. Think of it as Mount Past-suvius. Crack the eggs into the well; whisk eggs with a fork. Add salt and pepper to discretion. Gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs mixture, taking the flour from the inside wall of the "well". Once the interior mixture is thick enough you can ditch the fork and incorporate the rest of the flour by hand (the funnest part in my opinion). Work/knead the dough into a stiff ball. Using a dough scraper cut inch size pieces and roll to 1/8 inch thickness (okay so I say 1/8the inch but I never really know what that looks like when recipes call for it; for the most part I just roll it out to the point where if I hold it up to the light and place my hand behind it I can just faintly see the outline of my fingers. Simple right?) Let dry on pasta rack for about 2 hours. If you don't have a pasta rack (who does?) make one! Like I did...

Reading is good for your mind; and your cooking. 

The meal turned out great! Now I must scat because I have my first post-collegiate job interview in 30 minutes. Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I  met a bunny today on my run. Here's a blurry picture of the little guy. It was about 1.5 miles into a 7 mile run that I was not quite feeling today. I'm not sure when my next Triathlon will be b/c of money (I'm broke!) so motivation has been hard to come by. But being the kid that I am, this bunny was a nice momentary distraction and I pushed through the last 5.5miles.

Now for the dish of the day! Rabbit. 

Juuuuuust kidding :) However, I was hungry starting out on the run and if I'd met Mr.Bunny around mile 6 instead of at the beginning, it might have been a different story. 

Tonight Dad showed me what goes into cooking turkey thighs, along with brown rice and sauteed green beans. Surprisingly simple. The turkey needed just a bit of seasoning and then an hour and 15 minute roast in the oven, the brown rice set to boil, and a quick saute for the greens. The process for cooking is different than baking and it weirds me out that there really isn't any measurement that goes into it. At least not in our Italian family. Since I'm a bakerista by nature this was new territory! Regardless the meal turned out pretty good and I've got this one to add to my repertoire. 

Meal: Turkey Thighs,  Brown Rice and Sauteed Green Beans. 

General Processes: 

Turkey Thighs

  • Allow 2 days to defrost in the fridge if frozen OR set microwave to defrost based on packaged weight
  • Rinse turkey thighs and pat dry with paper towels
  • Place on cutting board (preferably one designated for meat only) and season to your liking. We used garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, basil (for sweetness. If you want more savory go with Oregano), paprika, and a sprinkling of kosher salt to form a crust. 
  • Set a wire rack over a baking sheet, place the thighs on the wire rack and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 375 degrees (F). 
Brown Rice
  • In a small saucepan combine 1 cup brown rice, 2.5 cups water, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon granulated chicken stock/flavoring, pinch of kosher salt. 
  • Set to high heat. Watch carefully and as soon as you see it boil set the heat to one level lower than medium. Let the rice simmer there for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Sauteed Green Beans
  • Steam green beans in microwave safe bowl (5 minutes with 1 inch of water in the bottom of the bowl)
  • Set a frying pan to high heat, spray with cooking spray or olive oil
  • Add ~2 tablespoons (or more) of soy sauce to the green beans, add to pan and fry to desired tenderness. I like them soggy! To each their own. 

Boom. Food.