Thirty One

It’s my 31st birthday today! I’m spending the day with my hubby. He’s my favorite person ūüôā We’re exploring Austin, TX all weekend and are having the time of our lives!

A weekend getaway to a new place often heightens my senses to the world around me. The air, sights, and sounds all stand out a bit stronger because it’s new and different. That¬†got me thinking – I hope I take enough time to appreciate the little things that I adore in life. I used to be better at that.

Throughout high school and college I’d escape for a few minutes (or hours) and add to a list of what I loved. Totally random things…like…how people tilt their head when they eat a taco, or a much needed¬†outburst of laughter after something has gone horribly wrong¬†and that poor moment needs some comedic relief. Before I knew it, my list had exceeded 1,400 things. The sad truth is that I have no idea where that book is now. But the idea of doing that, of writing down the little things that I love about life, well I think today’s a brilliant day to bring it back.

So, in honor of my 31st, here are 31 little random things that I love:

  1. Snuggling with my yellow lab, Stella.
  2. Stovetop popcorn.
  3. The entire experience of walking around an Anthropologie store.
  4. Slowly sipping red wine on a cold night.
  5. The 1st cup of coffee in the morning.
  6. Finishing a long run.
  7. Writing.
  8. Star gazing.
  9. Small town America.
  10. Getting positive results from using little pockets of time wisely.
  11. Country music.
  12. Cowgirl boots.
  13. An unforgettable culinary experience.
  14. Dark chocolate.
  15. Laughter from my favorite people.
  16. The distant smell of a campfire.
  17. Swivel chairs.
  18. HGTV & The Food Network.
  19. Needed hugs.
  20. A new dress.
  21. Baking.
  22. Stained glass windows.
  23. Coffee shops.
  24. Windows open, kinda weather.
  25. Sushi.
  26. Getting asked to take strangers’ group photos.
  27. When a baby smiles or yawns.
  28. Zumba. 
  29. Hearing perfectly beautiful harmony sung a cappella.
  30. People who don’t complain, appreciate life, and embrace each day.
  31. Choosing happiness.

More than any of these, more than anything in the world in fact, I love and adore my family and friends over all. I’m a very lucky lady to have such joy surrounding me all the time. Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I thank God everyday for y’all.

So…what’s on your list?!

Happy day, friends!

Bourbon Glazed Salmon

BOURBON! Hope that go6O9C2353t your attention. Y’all, this¬†bourbon glazed salmon dish is¬†straight up¬†heavenly. I’m so excited to share it!¬†Sean and I¬†love it so much that it was our choice for dinner on a recent Monday night. This wasn’t just any ol’ Monday – it was December 8th – our wedding anniversary. We went out in Tulsa for dinner the Saturday night before to¬†celebrate, but for the actual night it seemed fitting¬†to cook a nice dinner at home.

The combination of flavors leaves you wanting more: the sweetness of the brown sugar, sharpness from the soy sauce, the tangy spark to your tastebuds from the lime¬†juice, the shy little¬†heat from the pepper, and the not-so-shy burst of bourbon…ohhh that bourbon. It provides an amusing punch to the sauce that brings the whole thing together.

Here’s¬†what you’ll need:

6O9C2354

 

2 or 3 skinless salmon filets

3 tablespoons of bourbon

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 tablespoon of a ginger/garlic/sesame¬†mix…or just ground ginger (…but that all in one¬†stuff is awesome!)

3 tablespoons of sliced green onion

 

STEP 1

Once you’ve got your mis en place (everything in it’s place – ingredients ready for action!) ready, it’s crazy easy from here on out. Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, bourbon, garlic, lime juice, ginger mixture, and black pepper all together in a bowl.
Mixture/Glaze

STEP 2

Well that was easy! Give the liquid mixture a little taste…and I mean little…but beware of the hearty punch to your senses from the bourbon! A little goes a long way, and it cooks out…trust me. It’s the perfect amount when the dish all comes together. Lightly salt the salmon, then pour just half of the mixture over the salmon filets, resting patiently on a plate.

6O9C2365

STEP 3

Place¬†the plate in the fridge to chill until you’re ready to cook. No longer than an hour in advance. When I cooked this, it was about 20/30 minutes early while I waited for Sean to come home and worked on desert. While that chills, Step 3 is really all about the other stuff (took everything in my not to say “all about that bass”…but I stayed strong!) like…oh I don’t know…pouring yourself a hella good glass of red wine? YEAH!

6O9C2376

Quick pause¬†from the recipe to talk about this red blend. Ghost Pines‘ red blend came recommended¬†by a staff member of our neighborhood liquor store, Kwenchers, which has quickly become our favorite place to get wine/beer/scotch (Sean’s a scotchy-scotch guy). I asked for “a nice red blend” and mentioned I usually love Apothic but wanted to try something different for our anniversary dinner. Kwenchers certainly knows good wine, because this recommendation was perfect. As I started to prepare dessert in advance, I took a sip…and it was like a Zack Morris style “time out” where the world stopped for a moment and let me savor its¬†beautiful balance. Anyone else like a good red blend like me? It’s a medium bodied red, similar to Apothic, but slightly less sweet with a dryer finish. It’s absolutely perfect for this kind of dish. Just had to share!

STEP 4

Sides! Most any sides will do. I just threw together some small whole carrots and white rice. For the carrots, I saut√©ed them in a bit of a random mixure (but a personal favorite) of chicken broth and pumpkin pie spice. SUPER random sounding, right? But try it. Juuuuuuuuust try it ūüôā Be sure to let it simmer and roll around in the broth while covered. It’s our favorite easy way to cook carrots while¬†also giving it a hint of spice. Nothing too fancy with the white rice. I always add a little butter, salt, and pepper to taste, then finish it with a little chopped parsley mixed in.

STEP 5

Cook the salmon in the pan for just a few minutes each side, depending on how thick your slices are. Our’s were thawed from frozen and on the thinner side, so about 3 to 4 minutes on one side, flip carefully, and 2 to 3 minutes on the other did the trick. After you flip the salmon, add the remaining glaze that you set aside originally and let it all come together just before it’s perfectly cooked; soaking in the fresh flavors at the last 2-3 minutes.

6O9C2380Sprinkle some chopped green onions over the dish (or a lot…like we did!) and ENJOY! I can’t wait to make this again. It’s a perfectly divine, perfectly easy recipe to make any night of the week. It was a classy compliment to our special night.

After dinner we decided to join the chilly Oklahoma evening outside for a fire in our fire pit. Jackets on, drinks refreshed, and a perfect night by the fire to laugh hysterically and catch up on life with my best friend, love of my life Рmy dear hubby. Love you so much, Sean.

Fire pit

 

Enjoy this dish for a special night, or for any ol’ day. We adore it. Hope you do too!

Happy cooking ūüôā

 

Cheers for Chicken!

I was struggling with this post’s title. How on Earth am I supposed to make the subject of this post¬†condensed¬†from: “Chicken, lightly breaded and seasoned, then cooked in white wine, lemon, butter,¬†vegetable¬†stock. Oh, and a side of creamy pesto whole wheat pasta” – yeah, I don’t think that would fit. Due to the extreme popularity of this dish’s deliciousness, I think the title I decided to go with is pretty fitting. It was so delicious that Sean went back for more…but even more impressive…he never once went for the hot sauce, salt, or pepper to add it in! HUGE SUCCESS! He loves hot sauce, so he does that. But not for this recipe! It must come from heaven.

Here’s the series of events when I made this a few nights ago:¬†

photo (22)

It all started when I got home after an obnoxious hour and forty five minute commute. I was hungry, and so was Sean. He recommended a few frozen things we had in our freezer, but I wasn’t into it. I said I’d be back, and off to the closest grocery store I went. Shout out to our neighborhood Safeway! Unfortunately I got stuck behind an extreme¬†coupon-er. Like…straight out of the T.V. show on T.L.C. Now don’t get me wrong. I secretly aspire to be like them, but for the moment, I wasn’t in the mood. I finally made it to the conveyor belt with these two ingredients: thinly sliced chicken and a package of creamy pesto sauce mix. Easy, and only $8 for dinner! We had everything else at home. If you want to re-create this, here’s what I used:

  • thinly sliced chicken (duh, we’ve been over this)
  • 2 lemons (cut them up into slices)
  • a little white wine (pino grigio is probably best)
  • vegetable stock (or chicken stock, I only had veggie though)
  • butter (always a fan!)
  • flour (meh…like 4 cups would be enough for coating in the bowl before hand)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • cayenne¬†pepper
  • fresh ground pepper
  • garlic
  • salt
  • a glass of red wine. Just to keep you company ūüėČ
  • some Billy Holiday or Frank Sinatra playing on Pandora
  • Comfy after-work clothes…alright you get it! Is the mood set? Are you ready for this?! Woooooo! Here we go:¬†

Breaded chicken

First step is to put a bunch of flour in a large bowl. You don’t need to measure out the amount I listed above. That was just to give you an idea of how much you need to have handy. It just needs to be enough to coat the chicken slices. But before you do, add to the flour:¬†cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (enough to your liking, and to give the coating a good kick).

In a separate bowl, mix up about 3 egg yolks. This will keep the flour mixture on enough for a good “lightly battered” taste.

Dip the chicken in the flour first, then into the egg yolk, then back into the flour for a good strong coating of flour.

Set those battered chicken slices aside and begin preparing the broth to cook it in. I always love this part. The part when the smells in my kitchen completely come alive with lemon and white wine in a mouthwatering broth. Hehe! So exciting.

Now let’s get this cooking party started….with…BUTTER. When I first began to cook all the time, I was like “AHHH! TOO MUCH BUTTER! I’m gonna hurt my heart with all this!” But as long as you’re also exercising regularly, and not including butter in your every day life style, then you’re just fine. Use it when it’s¬†appropriate. And when you do use it…it’s so worth it ūüėČ Plop some butter into a large skillet.¬†Start the butter on a slow heat. Next you’ll want to add your lemon slices (from 2 lemons or more), white wine, and vegetable stock to the butter in the pan. No need to measure. Be FREE! Just pour in enough to make a really good amount of broth. Let it simmer for a bit:

Broth

Mmmmmm smells so good! While that simmers, let’s talk wine, shall we? I love wine. Adore it. I’m not a snob, I promise, but I do love tasty wine. Lately my new favorite red is called Apothic Red. Have you tried it? You can check it out here:¬†http://www.apothic.com/wine.asp. Do you have a favorite wine? Please comment and let me know! I’m always excited to try new wines. Well this was a fun chat while the broth simmers.

Moving on!

Now that the broth is hot and ready, it’s time to cook the chicken evenly on each side. I would rotate each of the slices 4 times or so until it is fully cooked, and has soaked up the broth enough. Meanwhile, whip up a side of something yummy. I recommend a side of the whole wheat pasta with creamy pesto sauce that I made. The¬†creaminess¬†of the pasta really calms down the acidity of the wine and lemon that flavors the chicken so well. It’s a good combo. Here’s a little slideshow of the chicken cooking in heavenly aromas:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tadaaaa! It’s done and delicious:

photo (37)

Happy cooking.

P.S. Don’t forget to share your favorite wines with me!