Friday, February 26, 2010

Beef Tips & Gravy

Well, today I took my first step into fully deciding I'm going to graduate school as opposed to pharmacy school. I bought a GRE study book. Now, some may think, just because I bought the book, doesn't mean I'm going to study it, or actually take the exam. But on the contrary, I wouldn't have shelled out the cash if I wasn't going to deliver. It's kind of a subliminal message to myself that hey, maybe things (such as rejections) happen for a reason and your path at life isn't supposed to go the way you thought and maybe it's supposed to go this way. Trust me, I know about things happening for reasons and life taking detours. I've had plenty. Anyway, I'll keep you updated on the school front.

Now, beef tips and gravy I think is just one of those comfort food recipes. Not your normal meat and potatoes kind of dish, there's tons of flavor here.


1/4 cup canola oil
5 onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 & 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons paprika
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine (I used a Shiraz)
6 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
zest from 1 lemon
3 lb. sirloin, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
salt and pepper to taste

Turn a crockpot on high setting.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 25 minutes. Add garlic and marjoram and stir until fragrant and garlic softens, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne pepper and stir well. Remove from heat and let flavors meld together.

Add the mixture to the heated crockpot and add vinegar. Stir well, cover, and let vinegar absorb into vegetables for about 2-3 minutes. Add in chicken stock, bay leaves, and lemon zest.

Sprinkle sirloin chunks with salt and pepper. In same skillet for onions, add beef chunks (you can wipe the skillet if you want to, but I think it adds to the beef so I didn't). Brown chunks on all sides and then add to crockpot. Deglaze skillet with red wine, scraping the sucs from the pan. Add wine to crockpot as well. Stir mixture, cover, and let cook on high for at least 3 hours. The longer it sits, the more tender the meat will be.

Uncover crockpot and carefully take out beef with a slotted spoon and transfer to bowl. Tent with aluminum foil. Pour crockpot liquid and onions into a large sauce pan and bring to a boil until reduced to about 5 cups, about 15 minutes. Let cool momentarily and blend with immersion blender until mixture is nice and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If you want to thicken the liquid just a tad, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Add to liquid and stir. Then add blended liquid, along with beef chunks, back into crockpot. Turn to low or warm setting. Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes and serve along with rice or egg noodles and some roasted vegetables.

This was truly some good comfort food. It was slightly chilly outside and this was a hearty enough meal to truly warm one up! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Burger

No, this isn't meant to be eaten for breakfast... however, it wouldn't be a bad idea. I just think this whole concept of a burger came out of pure adaptation for what was available in my fridge. And seriously... every time I top something with an egg (whether poached or fried), it's been absolutely delicious. This is no exception... I highly recommend you try this... like, now.


1 lb. ground pork
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
1 onion, grated
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon ground sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg/burger patty
cheese (I used slices of Velveeta)
Kaiser rolls
margarine or softened butter
1 teaspoon olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork, apple, onion, bread crumbs, sage, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined. Form into 4 good sized patties. You can probably make 8 thinner patties if you wanted to, but I'm a fan of a big juicy burger.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat a large oven proof skillet under medium heat and add olive oil. Brown the patties on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. You don't want to cook them all the way through, just get a nice crust on the outside.

Place skillet in oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, you can fry your eggs. I did mine one at a time and I like them over-easy. You can cook them up any way you wish, but make sure you have a nice oozy (but still done) yolk!

Open Kaiser rolls and butter both sides. Place in oven for about 5 minutes to toast.

To assemble burger, place patty on bottom bun, top with egg, then cheese and cover with top bun. In my opinion, this doesn't need any condiment. The oozing egg is just what it needs and the burger is one of the juiciest burgers I've ever eaten.

This was absolutely wonderful. This to me, is like a sausage, egg, and cheese muffin to the extreme. McDonald's has nothing on this. This. Is. Great. Try it now! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Soup

I apologize in advance, this was supposed to be posted yesterday and in my whirlwind of studying/homework/procrastination, it seemed to have slipped my mind. Trust me, I've been banking on Friday since Sunday. This is a week I've been dreading, and it's mostly my fault. I had plenty of time to do these things, but no, I had to procrastinate. I cleaned the pantry, the fridge, the spice cabinet, the living room... all to avoid homework. Who does that?!?! That's insanity. I hate cleaning... but I dread homework. Anyway... here's a somewhat lazy soup... that I have to warn you... is pretty darn spicy, so I'd cut the hot sauce by a bit if you're not the spicy lover we are (and even we could only eat half of our bowls because of the heat).


2 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 to 1 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce (depending on your taste)
1 cup shell pasta
blue cheese for topping

In a medium bowl, add flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge the chicken chunks and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside again.

Add remaining tablespoon of butter to pot and add vegetables. Cook until soft and translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add back in the chicken, chicken stock, hot sauce, and shells. Cook until noodles becomes soft. The longer you let it sit, the spicier it will get!

Top with blue cheese and dig on in!

This was definitely delicious, just incredible spicy. If I made it again, I would definitely only use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot sauce as opposed to the 1 cup. I mean, I like really spicy things, but this was sinus cleansing spicy. I did have a cold still and it did have my nose running for about 30 minutes. So if you're into that, be my guest and add the full cup! Enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vegetarian Nachos

Vegetarian? I'm not usually one to eat things without meat. Not that I don't dislike plain vegetables, it's just I can never find anything filling and appealing enough to eat without meat. I know vegetarians everywhere are cringing at that statement, but maybe you guys could give me some insight eh?

These were actually supposed to be faux tacos, too, but once again, I had to improvise. Jicama was supposed to be sliced really really thin so it would act as a taco shell for my filling, but I ran into 2 problems. #1... I didn't have a mandolin (which I'm really thinking about investing in sometime soon) and #2... my knife skills aren't amazing and I couldn't slice really really thin. So nachos were born.

Adapted from the Top Chef Quickfire Cookbook "Richard B.'s Vegetarian Tacos"

1 large jicama, peeled and cut into thin slices or wedges
2 avocados, halved and pitted
1/2 large papaya, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
juice from 8 key limes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
10 corn tortillas, quarted
vegetable oil for frying
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese

Because I couldn't use my jicama as taco shells, I used them as faux nacho chips instead. Along with a mixture of corn tortilla chips (which I'll give the details on making here in a minute) to give it some added texture. And let me just say... I love jicama. Not many people know about jicama (key example, the grocery store clerk who completely had the "what the hell is this?" look on his face. It's kind of ugly on the outside, but on the inside is a sweet apple-y flavored vegetable after you peel the exterior. Anyway, I digress...

In a medium bowl, lightly mash up the avocados, papaya, and tomato. Mix in the lime juice, coriander, cinnamon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix in as much of the 1/2 cup of cilantro as you'd like, but save some for topping if you wish.

To make your tortilla chips, add enough vegetable oil to a large heavy pan to bring it up about 1/2 and inch. Heat the oil under medium high heat and fry about 10 chips at a time, or more if you wanted to and had a big enough pan. Cook each for about 30-45 seconds per side. Place in a bowl lined with paper towels and salt each batch as they come out of the oil. It will allow the salt to "stick" on the chip, if you will.

To plate, get a large plate and mix in the jicama with the chips. Pile on the avocado mixture, top with shredded cheese, and then sour cream, if desired. Maybe strict vegans can't do those last 2 toppings, but pile it on however you wish!

I really loved the flavor profile of this dish. The avocado mixture with the chips tasted differently than with the jicama chips. It was kind of crazy how well the jicama paired with the mixture. When the chips were in the dip, you could really taste the lime, but when the jicama was thrown in there, the lime sort of "blended" in and you could really get a sense of all the flavors in the dish. This really impressed me and would be a great appetizer dip for any occasion! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poblano Meatball Soup

I was once again snowed in this week. Still sick. Still cold. Still cleaning instead of catching up on homework. What's perfect for a situation like that? Soup, of course! And this soup was great! The meatballs really added a depth of smokey, delicious flavor!

Wedding planning has sort of come to a stand still. I'm in the process of brainstorming theme ideas. I picked out bridesmaid dresses. One of my sisters gave me her approval and the color is just great... it's Pewter... not Pewtrid. For some reason, when I was explaining these bridesmaid dress colors at work, I said Pewtrid, instead of Pewter... and they all got a quick laugh out of that. Of course, I didn't get it at first, and then realized I didn't memorize my Crayola colors before I came in and Pewtrid definitely was NOT the color I wanted.

Anywho... onto the soup...

Adapted from Bon Appetit's Jan 2010 issue - "Poblano Albondigas w/ Ancho Chile Soup"

2 large poblano chiles
1 lb. ground beef
2 zucchini, 1 grated and 1 roughly chopped
1 onion, 1/2 grated and 1/2 diced
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
4 garlic cloves, 2 pressed and 2 minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chili powder
5 cups beef broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice from 1 lime
4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips

To make the meatballs, line a baking sheet with some wax or parchment paper. Take the poblanos and put them under the broiler in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or as long as they have some good charring on all sides. Place the pepper in a paper bag and let steam for about 10 minutes. This allows the skin to separate from the flesh of the pepper, and makes it easier to peel. Stem, seed, and peel the poblanos once cooled. Chop them up real good and place in a large bowl.

Add in beef, grated zucchini, grated onion, panko breadcrumbs, egg, pressed garlic, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano, and a big pinch of salt. Form into 1-inch diameter meatballs and place on baking sheet.

In a dutch oven, heat oil under medium heat. Add diced onion and minced garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add chili powder and remaining cumin and stir for about 1 minute. Add the beef broth, water, and remaining oregano. Bring to a rolling boil and them reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook for about 10 minutes.

Mix in the chopped zucchini and rice. Increase the heat to medium high and drop the meatballs in one at a time. Then lower heat to a simmer again and cook for about 20 minutes, covered, until meatballs are cooked through. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

To make tortilla strip topping, heat a 1/2 inch layer of vegetable oil in a heavy pan. Fry the strips for about 1 minute, until starting to turn golden brown. Ladle soup into bowls and top with fried tortilla strips.

This was definitely a great way to warm up and truly it made me feel a little bit better considering my cold! Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

3-Course Valentine's Day Dinner

I'll have to tell you, Valentine's Day didn't turn out quite how I expected. I've kind of been battling cold-like symptoms all week and waking up Sunday morning was no exception. In fact, it was probably the worst. I couldn't hear out of my right ear because of the congestion, my throat felt like a cactus, and I had a pulsing headache. But I knew I had to make the most of it.

When I finally did get out of bed, Andy had made breakfast (he tried to serve it to me in bed, but I felt like crap and I had 2 hovering dogs so it wouldn't have been a good idea). He kept it warm in the microwave and I came out to a big ol' waffle, bacon, sausage, and eggs. Yum!

Then I went to the computer to check my e-mail and stuff and I came across a card in an envelope and the newest issue of Bon Appetit. I open the card and it says that he bought me a 2-year subscription! I was elated. And the card was too cute as well... it had a bulldog just cheesing (kind of like how our dogs do) and it was just quite cute.

And so I continue the day, in sickness, but in a grand little mood. I made a 3-course dinner, from Bon Appetit's Valentine's Dinner menu and it was just marvelous.

First Course: Large Coconut Shrimp w/ Sriracha

Second Course: Beef Tenderloin w/ Potato "Risotto", Cumin-Carmelized Carrots, & Steamed Green Beans

Third Course: Chocolate Devil's Food Cake w/ Sour Cream Fudge Icing

My absolute favorite part of the meal was definitely the potato "risotto". It was creamy, delicious, and the potatoes were the best potatoes I've probably ever eaten. I could eat the everyday for the rest of my life and be happy. Andy loved the meal and we enjoyed spending the day together and he really gives me more reasons to love him everyday!

No recipe today, but if you'd like to know how any of these things are made, you can definitely check out Bon Appetit's Valentine's Day Dinner menu... I'd highly recommend trying the potato "risotto", if anything!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cioppino-Style Dungeness Crab

Alright, I'm completely happy that today is Friday. It's been a long, tiring week, and although I still have to work tomorrow, I can deal with it because I have Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off of work. So not too shabby right? Especially because I've got Valentine's Day covered this year. I'm planning a 3-course dinner, but I don't want to ruin the surprise of the meal, so I'll have to let you all in on it on Monday! But it's just going to be fabulous!

Adapted from Bon Appetit's Jan. 2010 Issue - "Cioppino-Style Roasted Crab"

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 large garlic cloves, pressed (I just bought a garlic press from IKEA this past weekend and I LOVE it!)
3/4 cup chardonnay
1/4 cup sweet white wine
2 cups bottled clam juice
2 15 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes, with juice
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
2 Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned and broken down

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven under medium heat and add onion & garlic. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn by stirring frequently.

Add both wines and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, tomatoes w/ juice, 1 cup water, bay leaves, parsley, and red pepper. Bring this mixture to a boil as well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the crab pieces and roast, uncovered, in oven for about 15-20 minutes more. Serve in deep bowls/plates and with crunchy baguette.

Seriously, I was kind of skeptical about this recipe. I've never had crab in this way. Cioppino, itself, is an Italian fish stew of sorts, and substituting crab for the fish was just exceptional. I don't think I want to eat crab any other way, EVER! Well, maybe not ever, but this was just amazingly good. I had to drink the broth from my plate because it was so tasty and the crab was just excellent. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

Now I know you all are probably going to get tired of me talking about my upcoming wedding... but let's face it... this is my blog and I can talk about anything I want to. Haha, but seriously, I think it helps with my stress level if I just dump it down onto here because I think Andy is thinking I'm a little nuts right now. But anyway, we had a snow day from school yesterday and I started a wedding binder. It's mostly consisting of ripped up pages from magazines that "inspire" me or are cool ideas for certain aspects of the wedding. I find myself not doing homework and thinking about wedding plans, so it's a distracting hobby that's for sure.

Anyway, I loved this salad because it's so simple and quick. And I made on a night that I worked until 10:30pm, so I didn't get home until 11 and I was ready to eat. This came together in minutes and was quite delicious.

Adapted from Tasty Art's blog

2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into strips
mung bean sprouts
1 can of pineapple chunks, drained
1 carrot, grated or shredded (I did both)
1 head of iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
pinch of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of brown sugar

Wash all your vegetables (lettuce, carrot, and mung beans) and bring together in a large bowl. Add pineapple and chicken. Toss everything together pretty good.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients to make a quick Asian dressing. You can either serve the lettuce on plates/bowls and then add dressing or toss dressing into large bowl to get everything coated pretty well. I just added it to the large bowl and combined everything.

Like I said, easy peasy. This was delicious, refreshing, and didn't give me that "I scarfed this down so fast because I was hungry and now I'm bloated feeling" before bed. Needless to say, it was about 11:30pm by this time and I didn't need a full stomach to put myself to bed. Enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ham & Cheese Stuffed Pretzels II

So, we've set a date! April 27th, 2013! Yes, I know what you're thinking, 3 years is a LONG ASS time! But ya know, when we've got to pay for an extravaganza ourselves, go to school, work, and have to pay our current bills... it's kind of hard to save a pretty penny for an amazing wedding. But it'll happen and we'll live happily ever after... or at least that's a start. Right?

And on a side note... I am completely pleased with the turnout of the Superbowl! Yes, I lived in Indiana for about 8 or so years, but I absolutely HATE the Indianapolis Colts and am glad that they fell to the truly better team, the Saints!

Adapted from Flamingo Bear's blog

1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 & 1/2 cups wheat flour
10-15 slices honey ham, chopped
1 & 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
kosher salt

In a large bowl, mix yeast, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water. Mix until sugar is dissolved and let sit about 8 to 10 minutes, until foamy.

In another bowl, mix together remaining brown sugar and milk until brown sugar is dissolved.

Add 2 & 1/2 cups flour and milk mixture to yeast and stir with a wooden spoon until soft ball of dough forms.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Place in clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and divide into 4 pieces. I froze 2 and used the other for the a good sized plate full of pretzels.

Roll each piece into a long rope and flatten/spread out. Place ham and cheese on top of dough and roll up. Seal seam with water if needed. Cut into segments of desired size. Let rest for 30 minutes on baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Lower heat and add baking soda. Cook pretzels in batches of 2 or 3 for about 30 seconds and let rest back on baking sheet.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until pretzels are light and puffy. Brush with melted butter and top with kosher salt.

You can also make a quick honey mustard dipping sauce by mixing the dijon mustard with the honey.

This was a great snack! I don't know if I'd do it again with wheat flour, it gave it an interesting taste, but in a good way. Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mediterranean Sandwich

To be honest, this was supposed to be a hot dog. But after trying to brown the damn things, they fell apart. So I had to think on the fly and work with what I had. So I just broke apart the meat and just had it just ground up and it turned out to be just fantastic!

It's only 1 week into being engaged and I'm already stressed out with the planning. Go figure. I'm just one of those people that has to be organized, neat, and thought out. So I thought I'd do a max spending budget on things for the wedding this week and guess what? I'm already over my $10,000 budget. Looks like it's been bumped up to $15,000 and now spring of 2013 is the unofficial date. But... I do know that Glassworks here in Louisville will be the site of my choice. They're pretty popular so I figure I'll have to book that soon because last time someone mentioned about booking something there, they had like a 2 year wait. But anyway, check out the site... the actual ceremony will be on the roof (trust me, me and mother nature will have a talk to make sure it'll be a nice sunny day) and the reception on the 1st floor.

Anywho, on to the food...


2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 lb. andouille sausage
1/2 lb. hot italian sausage
7 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
4 oz. goat cheese crumbles
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 small zucchini, cut into thin slices lengthwise
1 tablespoon basil paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
small baguettes/buns
sriracha sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

If your sausage is in casing, cut them out of the casing and dump contents into food processor. I bought mine just ground up so I didn't have to fool with any casing. Then add red peppers and goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until everything is well combined.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage mixture under medium high heat for about 8-10 minutes, but not cooked all the way. Then bake in oven for 10 minutes.

While the sausage is in the oven, in a separate skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil paste, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. This is like a quick bruschetta that sets the sandwich off, in my opinion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut your baguettes in half and brush cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and start building your sandwich. Bottom baguette, sausage mixture, zucchini, tomato mixture, and top with top of baguette. Return to oven for about 5 minutes to crisp bread more.

Serve hot and with sriracha sauce!

This was absolutely delicious. The sriracha sauce adds a kick along with the spiciness of the sausage. Everything about this was just great! Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Baked Tilapia

Well, so far the week has been great. It's going by quickly, that's for sure. Had an organic test (got a B!) and tomorrow a Microbiology test (not looking forward to this one). I'm still in "engagement fever", and I don't see it slowing down. I probably have to tell the story 3-5 times daily, but I don't get sick thinking about it, or our future life! Enough about me, it's about the food! This tilapia was great! Fast, easy, gone in a flash!


2 Tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons butter, melted
juice from 1 lemon
1 & 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 425 F and put tiliapia fillets in a glass baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and paprika. Pour mixture over tilapia fillets.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until fish is white and flaky. Serve with a side of roasted veggies (I did roasted fingerling potatoes) and enjoy!

This was seriously gone in minutes. It was so juicy and delicious! The fish was done perfectly and the flavor was just jam packed! The only thing wrong with it was it was gone so quickly! I may make double the fish next time I do this!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spicy Spaghetti

Ok... so I know my last post was quite depressing, but on a lighter note... I'm in a better mood. Friday, Andy and I went out to dinner, to our favorite place (Varanese), and under my assumption, it was just a "cheer-up" dinner from my lousy week. Well, turns out Andy had an even bigger surprise for me... HE PROPOSED! I was in complete and utter shock. It was just a whirlwind of a weekend and I won't go into all the cutesy details (mainly because I've repeated this story a million times, and I'm sure I'll post about some time in the near future), but I'll just give you some glimpses of the ring and how he proposed!

They brought out our dessert and this was what was written around my plate of creme brulee (which I didn't get to eat hardly any of because I was shaking with excitement and emotion the whole time!) Andy couldn't help himself and ate a bit of the "M" in "Marry" before I could take a picture with my phone, hehe.

Adapted from Bon Appetit's January 2010 Issue - "Spicy Spaghetti w/ Fennel & Herbs"

6 oz. pancetta, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red jalapenos, halfway deseeded and chopped
1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth
fresh parsley, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
dash of fennel seeds
1 lb. spaghetti
1 & 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In a large skillet, heat the pancetta under medium high heat, until it is golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer pancetta to paper towels with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In same skillet, heat up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Then add the garlic and jalapenos. Saute for about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the fennel slices and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, about 2 tablespoons of parsley, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of fennel seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil and bring heat down to low. Cover and let fennel braise for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta until it is al dente and drain. Add pasta back into pot.

Uncover the fennel broth mixture and heat back up under high heat. Cook for about 5 minutes or so, or until the broth is reduced by about 1/2 to 3/4. Add the mixture to the pasta along with remaining olive oil, cheese, and reserved pancetta. Mix together and serve topped with extra cheese and garlic bread!

This was pretty tasty and the jalapenos packed a spicy punch! Enjoy!

Like I said, things are slowly starting to look up for me, and I've definitely got my mind off of the setback I experienced last week. Andy showed me that we're in this for the long-haul and we're going through what we go through together. And despite it all, I can't help but bring a smile to my face knowing that I'm going to grow old with a great person!

The only thing that remains is... what ever am I going to do about my Blog title?!? Hehe... we'll cross that bridge another day.


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