Friday, July 29, 2011

Five for Friday

This post is for Jim. Here are five reason why I love you:

  1. I loved finding the sweet card you left for me.
  2. You knew I was going to cry when we said goodbye so you told me to only be sad for 30 minutes tops.
  3. I love it when you texted me to say the pasta I sent with you was “SO GOOD!” It really made my day.
  4. We are going to do the 7 day cleanse together even though we are apart.
  5. You wanted to wait after this weekend visit to start the cleanse so you could eat my “really good home cooking.”
P.S. See you after work today! I have a special HWM dinner in mind for us.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Girl With A Grill

    I have been eating so much fish lately that I am on a first name basis with my fish monger at Whole Foods. I asked him last week if I should be concerned with mercury poisoning. He assured me that although I eat a lot of fish I am not in any danger. Wheeew! What a relief, because I don't want to give up on such a good thing.

    With Jim traveling for business I'm at home alone with the grill and this girl has learned how to GRILL! This post covers some of my favorite grilling tools and also my two favorite fishes: Cod and Salmon. Know that I'm not a fishy-fish kind of girl, and so I am going to pass on my secret for eating a very very healthy fish, Salmon (which can sometimes taste fishy - in a good way).

    First, I have to share one of my favorite grill tools. This fish grilling basket is perfect for the very light and flaky types of fish like Cod. When cooked, Cod is going to fall apart and this wire basket holds it all together and makes flipping the fish mid-way so much easier. You will thank me later for that tip!

    For this piece of Cod, I seasoned it with olive oil, salt and pepper before putting it in my basket. When the grill was at a medium-high heat I added the fish and brushed with a kalamata olive tapanade. You don't have to add anything to the fish, I just like to make a scavenger hunt out of dinner and use any remnants in the back of the fridge to impart new and interesting flavors. You can brush and season your fish with WHATEVER you like. Try lemon and dill, tequila and lime, soy sauce with asian chile paste, cajun seasoning, salad dressing like an Italian or any other marinades in your fridge.

    I've also been experimenting with a lot of vegetable grilling too. To these ears of corn I brushed on a mixture of butter, salt, pepper and chopped fresh cilantro.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Five for Friday

    1. I bumped the TV tray this past week and it made me laugh.
    2. You text me good morning and good night every day you are gone.
    3. When I called because I couldn’t make the TV work you didn’t laugh but talked me through it.
    4. When I called a couple days later because I messed the TV up a second time you were patient with me again.
    5. Only seven more days till I get to see you!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Sticky Spicy BBQ Ribs

    I pulled out all the stops for Jim when he was in Austin the week before his business trip. BBQ Baby Backs were one of the meals that he requested and although I've tried many recipes, but they have two things in common: they produce sticky and spicy ribs. This most recent rib recipe I found on epicurious for Sticky Spicy Ribs was a success. There are two basic cuts of ribs from different parts of the pig: Baby Back (aka Loin Back ribs) and Spare ribs.  Back backs are popular because they are leaner, tender and have a milder flavor comparable to Beef Filet Mignon.  Spare Ribs have a more robust flavor comparable to a Beef Ribeye. 

    I purchased Baby Backs from my grocery store and made this homemade rub the night before.

    Rub for ribs:
    2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    2 tablespoons paprika (not hot)
    1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    The above measurements will make enough rub for four pounds of baby back ribs (2 2-lb racks). In my opinion the single most important thing you can do for successful ribs is to season overnight with a robust dry rub. This means you need to plan ahead! This dry rub is absorbed into the meat overnight and give so much flavor to the finished product. Whatever combination of spices you decide to use, I would recommend the use of brown sugar to aid in caramelizing.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Five for Friday

    You are probably wondering why I lead with this ridiculous 90's picture of myself. Yes, that's me in the "Blossom" hat.  I love this picture for several reasons. I was in 7th grade and it wasn't just the first year of junior high for me, it was my first year in a public school. My family moved this summer and everything in my life changed - my surroundings, my friends, my church, my school. It was a tough year for me. I had a lot of adjustments to make and there was a big learning curve.

    I'm sure I planned this outfit the night before (probably days before). I also asked to borrow my mother's heart necklace for the picture because I always loved it so much on her. Don't even ask me what I was thinking with that plaid shirt...I'm sure it was in style at the time. And then there was the that hat.  I worked so hard that morning to get it to sit on top of my head "just so" and I curled my bangs strategically before shellacking them with hair net. Bottom line, I was meticulous.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Going Bananas

    Yes, I'm going b-a-n-a-n-a-s today! and everyday for that matter...

    When you have an abundance of bananas or a few that are about to go bad, don't let them go to waste. I have a couple suggestions for what you can do with them. Jim peels them and puts them in a airtight container and into the freezer. Then he makes smoothies with the frozen fruit. They are so yummy, no need for ice that can water your smoothie down.

    Moving in the opposite direction is this warm and comforting Aunt Holly's Banana Bread recipe from epicurious.
    I love how very short the list of ingredients are:

    3 to 4 ripe bananas
    1/4 cup melted butter
    1 cup sugar
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 egg, beaten
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    Chocolate chips (as many as you want! Jim did not want me to add these...)

    Mash the bananas in a bowl first, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix well.

    I buttered this silicone bread pan (probably not necessary with the silicone pan, but butter any other metal pan you would plan to use), pour in the batter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean - about 50 minutes to an hour.

    You can't beat the smells that will fill your home, it is completely warm and comforting.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Five for Friday

    Jim came home last Friday, and I can hardly believe it's almost time for him to leave again. I was fortunate enough to be able to take most of the week off work and enjoy a "stay-cation" with my hubby. We did things like go to the movies in the middle of the day, take a 3.5 mile hike and sleep in. Sleeping in was the best!

    I also started cooking again. I made sticky spicy ribs, lemon and garlic grilled red snapper, red curry stir fry full of fresh veggies and shrimp, fajita steak tacos and a chamomile and coconut creme brule. Yes, we ate well this week. My Five for Friday today:

    1. Your encouraging words.
    2. The patience you give to me when explaining math or sports.
    3. Your laugh.
    4. I love how you tolerate my terrible jokes.
    5. "He's somebody."

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Five for Friday

    I’m going to start something new on this blog, called Five for Friday. When I went to Atlanta in May to meet other food bloggers I heard about this adorable weekly post that my new friend Jess writes each week for her husband. Sometimes her list doesn’t make sense to me, but they contain precious secretes that she and her husband shares. I know he reads them and it must means something special to him. She’s not the only one, you can see Five for Friday here and here

    I had a funny internal discussion with myself about starting this weekly post. It went something like this: I’m the kind of person who starts projects with great intentions but seldom finishes them. I recognize this is a problem. I’ve called myself a “food blogger” and I wonder if I must devote this blog to only food related posts. Hey, this is MY blog…isn’t it? It’s called Home with Mandy because I can make it whatever I want. Who will want to read five reasons why I love my husband? Wait, it’s not for anyone else but Jim. Especially since we are embarking on this new adventure where he may be gone two weeks out of every month we will have many Friday’s apart, this would be a good way to communicate with him in a new way to let him know how loved and missed he is.

    So I’m doing it. I’m going to do this every Friday until I don’t. How is that for CYA? Today is actually a great day to start this project. Jim has been gone for three weeks training for a new job in California. I miss him terribly. Here are five things that I love about my husband.

    1. You prayed on the phone with me when you heard I was scared.
    2. We have our “plating up” ritual every night.
    3. You love our pups as much as I do.
    4. When you crack up so hard watching TV with me and we have to pause and rewind to watch something again.
    5. I love how just one look from you calms my world and makes it better.


    p.s. See you at 1:35 PM today!