Beautiful Words

I found this quote on Pinterest today, though try as I might, I cannot find the original author/speaker (how could you fail me like this Google?!).  I thought I’d share it anyway and perhaps someone will read it and be able to point me in the right direction.

“You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in.  You are what you take from these.  You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner.  You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life.  You are every single second of every single day.  So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence.  Let the words run through your veins and let the colours fill your mind.”

-?

Asparagus Gratin (melt in your mouth asparagus)

“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”  — Oliver Wendall Holmes

In keeping with the idea of creating simple meals in order to offset our Valentine’s Day Feast, for my third recipe of the week I chose Asparagus Gratin.  Not only was it simple but it is now going to be my favorite way to make asparagus, and will probably be in stiff competition with the bruschetta as “most repeated recipe”.

You can find the recipe here and I’ll leave you with a couple of notes and some pictures:

  • I wanted to experiment a little and so instead of Monterey Jack I used a mix of Rembrandt cheese, Parmesan, and Muenster cheese for the sauce, which I think turned out fabulously.  You should definitely try some Rembrandt cheese if you haven’t — in addition to having a delightful flavor it looks pretty too.  

  • I was cooking for myself so I cut the asparagus in half (from 2 lb to 1 lb), but left the rest of the ingredients the same.  I literally ended up eating an entire pound of asparagus just now this was so good.  Not even kidding.

Homemade Snickers Bars

“A Simple I love you means more than money.” — Frank Sinatra

As part of my continuing effort to celebrate friend’s and family member’s birthdays, I needed a good recipe for a coworker’s birthday on Tuesday.  Thankfully, last week I joined Pinterest and I immediately located the perfect treat: homemade snickers bars.  Let me just say that, not only did I get people asking for me to make them again but I was told more than once that they were better than the real thing.

This is a pretty simple recipe, if a little time consuming (because you have to wait for each layer to cool before moving on), and one of the benefits is that you can eat the snickers bars frozen, refrigerated or at room temperature, so I was able to make them on Sunday night and freeze them until Tuesday.

You can find the recipe here and I’ll give you my notes:

  • I don’t know if I did something wrong or what, but my nougat layer was coming out more peanut butter colored than white, which I found disappointing.  As a result, I ended up adding roughly 3x the amount of marshmallow fluff the recipe calls for to get it whiter (it ended up a little creamy off-white).  This did not prove detrimental to taste.
  • I used caster sugar for the fine consistency.
  • I used my food processor to chop the peanuts.
  • The top chocolate layer for some reason did not melt correctly and became like a dry chocolate peanut paste (I used my makeshift double boiler method).  I don’t know what happened, because the bottom chocolate layer turned out fine and they are made the exact same way.  To remedy this I ended up adding whipping cream to the chocolate/peanut butter mix until it became the consistency I wanted.  This also did not prove detrimental to the taste.
And if you’re wondering what happened to recipe’s 21-23, they’re on the Valentine’s Day posting, I just didn’t label it as such. 🙂

Creamy Egg Salad & Best Tuna Salad

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows.  For love is the beauty of the soul.” — St. Aurelius Augustine

Because tomorrow’s meal will be an elaborate 3 recipe affair in and of itself I wanted to go pretty low key the rest of the week so I’d have some fast, easy, and delicious meals to make on hand instead of being tempted to go out (because I already gave into the temptation last week).  Yes, those pictures you see are a Braised Lamb Pie from Man Pies and a Russian Tea Cake and Coconut Cupcake from Pure Bliss Desserts.  Man Pies is the ultimate comfort food and Pure Bliss is, well, pure bliss, in addition to being one of the cutest restaurants I’ve ever been in.

So to avoid the call of not homemade food and to ease a sandwich craving, I decided to go for two recipes that appeared side by side in The Best of America’s Test Kitchen Best Recipes and Reviews 2012 magazine.  I’ve always been a fan of egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches and I’ve never been particularly unhappy with the results.  I mean, really, who knew you needed a recipe for these things?  Well it turns out that if you want something done correctly, it’s best to go off of a tested recipe and make variations from there, because then you’re starting off from a strong base.

Both of these recipes came out great, and while not mind-blowing, they were definitely better than any egg salads and tuna salads I’d made before.

The key to the egg salad seemed to be in the treatment of the eggs.  Bring to a boil then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let sit for 8 minutes.  Transfer the eggs to ice water and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then when you’ve cracked and peeled the eggs, separate the yolk from the white.  Mix the yolk in with your other ingredients so that it becomes a part of the “sauce” then add your chopped whites.

The secret to the tuna was to dry out the tuna fish once you’ve taken it out of the can using paper towels.  Then in a pan, heat up some olive oil and your seasonings for a few minutes, pour them on top of the tuna and allow it to marinate before mixing with mayo (or Miracle Whip).

And for something even easier, pick your three favorite/most in season/random fruits from the grocery store/farmer’s market/co-op and make a fruit salad.  It’s even better than cookies, I promise.

In the Name of Love

“The most powerful symptom of love is a tenderness which becomes at times almost insupportable.” — Victor Hugo

Because the big V-Day is this week I want to dedicate the whole week to real love, instead of just a single day based around giving and getting, like a pink and red version of Christmas.  How best to accomplish this?  I don’t know.  I think every day will be different.  Today, I made a treat (to be shared in a later post) to celebrate a coworker’s birthday on Tuesday (yes, his birthday is Valentines Day), I picked out a menu for my own V-Day night with my boyfriend and let him choose the dessert, I watched romantic comedies all day on TV, including the end of You’ve Got Mail, my all time favorite romantic comedy (my all time favorite romantic movie is An Affair to Remember), and I signed up to write love letters for The World Needs More Love Letters, so here’s to hoping they send me a bundle!  And of course, I played with my babies:

As for my goals, I’ve been doing okay.  I’ve been consistent with the blog and the recipes, and doing my 20 min. cleans about every other day, although I’m still struggling with the writing and exercise goals.  It’s so easy to push them to the back of my to do list and then end up at 9:00 thinking it’s too late.  I swear though, as soon as I finish this blog post I’m going to do some serious working out with my Gaiam ball.  I only have five weeks until Spring Break and one more quarter after that until summer, so I’m already counting down the days until I get a little free time to catch up on things.  I’m trying to remember though, that I have six hours in a day after work and two before if I get up on time, and that is more than enough to stay caught up, if not totally sane!