Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Basil and olives and feta. Oh my!

A friend made this meal for us while we were visiting Georgia last month...and we all loved it. I quickly asked for the recipe, making a few minor tweaks for our family.

It is fresh and light but the combination of flavors and textures is wonderful. I'll be making it again very soon.

Greek Chicken Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 jar sun dried tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or olive oil
2 Tbsp. vinegar dressing
20-30 olives, halved
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
fresh basil leaves, torn
slivered almonds, toasted
1 container fresh baby spinach
wild brown rice, cooked according to package directions

1. Sprinkle uncooked chicken with salt and pepper; cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook chicken in a medium skillet until done. Keep warm.

2. In a small bowl, combine grapeseed oil and vinegar dressing. Place all grape tomatoes, olives, and sun dried tomatoes in skillet and combine with 2 Tbsp. of the oil & vinegar mixture; cook over medium-high heat until tomatoes soften and mixture is thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Add chicken to the tomato mixture and pour remaining oil and vinegar over chicken and stir.

3. Generously place spinach on each plate and top with 1/2 cup rice. Top with chicken and tomato mixture and sprinkle with feta cheese, almonds, and basil leaves.


Monday, May 27, 2013

With a grateful heart...

I remember today all those who have given their lives for freedom.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

twelve years later

and he still makes my heart smile.

Happy Anniversary Brent...I love you so.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Where I've been...where we're going...

Hi there.

It's no secret the writing's been scarce around here lately.

The truth is we recently passed the one-year mark of living in Virginia, which means we are quickly nearing the end of this assignment.

We found out in March (unofficially) that we will be moving to Georgia this summer. And did you know that summer basically starts the month after May? How it is already May 22, I can't say. Time has been speeding by around here.

So since then, I've been to Georgia twice to house hunt, Asheville once, and several little day trips, working hard to cross places off our Virginia bucket-list.

(I wish I had been to Prince Edward Island...but isn't that the BEST U-Haul truck ever? We saw it on our first trip to GA...and I'm hoping that just maybe the trailer we rent will be the same!)

In the meantime, we are "wrapping up" schoolwork (though we'll still be working through our basics through the summer)...spending time with friends...planning a few more short trips nearby...selling stuff we don't want to take with us...etc.

In spite of all that, I miss writing and sharing I am hoping to share some of the fun things we've done lately. And recipes. Boy, do I have some delicious ones to tempt you with!

Thanks for sticking around...I'm looking forward to sharing our Georgia adventure with you soon!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Southeast Spring

The dogwood is not my favorite flower. 

But oh, how I love it.

It sings of all the springs of my later childhood.

The glimpse of white blooms, a lone dogwood among a forest of non-blooming green. Such pure white.

I remember waking up to my second-floor window, glimpsing and hoping that the white on the trees just across from my window was a hint that there would be no school that day. A mid-April snow shower was no big news in the mountains of North Carolina.

But alas, no. Just the first morning of a tree waking up to spring.

Nine years of big plains and bigger skies almost made me forget.

So I eagerly pointed out this tree to my children...perhaps their first glance of the flower they've only seen as a brass ornament for our tree.

They began pointing them out on our recent trip to Williamsburg. And I saw them again, accompanied by azaleas on a recent trip to Georgia.

I'm soaking up this year's spring...even if I'm technically in the mid-Atlantic.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Braised Lamb Shanks with Polenta

Since moving to Virginia and falling in love with Wegman's, which is such a wonderful grocery store, with so many unique items, we've incorporated a few lamb recipes into our repertoire.

Last May, Brent and I celebrated 11 years of marriage at the Morrison House Grill, with their tasting menu which was wonderful. We were served a delicious lamb shank dish that we quickly decided we would try to reinterpret at home.

We found a recipe online at Epicurious and decided to serve it atop polenta. This recipe involves a lot of cooking time but isn't difficult. And the time involved yields such tender, fall off the bone, meat.

I only wish lamb shanks were less costly...I would add them to our meal plan more often!

Braised Lamb Shanks with Polenta

  • 6 lamb shanks (about 5 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 14 1/2-oz can low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 14 1/2-oz can beef broth
  • 5 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon peel, grated

1 tube of precooked polenta 
1/2 cup milk

1. Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat. 

2. Working in batches, add lamb shanks to the dutch oven and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer shanks to a bowl.

3. Add onions, carrots and garlic to dutch oven and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Return lamb shanks to pot, pressing them down to submerge. 

4. Bring liquids to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

5. Uncover dutch oven; simmer until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes longer.

6. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, mash the polenta and then warm polenta with milk over low heat until warmed and slightly spoonable.

6. Transfer lamb shanks to a serving platter and tent with foil. Boil juices in pot until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

7. Divide polenta among plates, topping with one lamb shank and spooning sauce over all.

We usually only buy four lamb shanks, which leaves us with quite a bit of leftover sauce. The last time we made this, I froze the leftover sauce. A quick thaw and the addition of stew meat created a simple and delicious beef stew.


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