...where have i been...

Seriously.  No Seriously.  I mean.  Really.  I really don't even want to look at the date of my last post.  All I need to know is it's been way...too...long.  Well.  I could explain.  Selling my furniture.  Saying my goodbyes.  Enjoying every last inch of Santa Barbara that I could.  Basically pretending like I was on vacation for a few hours a day and when I wasn't using packing tape, I was walking on the beach, or to it, 'because...i...could."


Well.  Life will be back up blog style soon.  I'm in South Carolina now wedding wedding wedding planning with the new family and getting lots done!  Soon I'll be in VA and life will resume for a bit.  A definitely interesting time and well, I'll be sure to post more about this good life and good spoon, good transition and a post here and there involving the face of this lucky man whose smile takes up about half his face. I will say- I'm excited to be cooking more meals as I'll be with my parents- cooking meals is much more fun when you know you won't have to then consume that concoction for the next week of leftovers.  I decided to post some pictures from the road trip across the country for the 4th time because well, maybe, you'll forgive me and read on... And maybe, when I tell you about a blizzard we drove through in Vega Texas and an old friend we met up with in Memphis, TN and the 4 days of driving you'll understand.

my first but not my last, red beans and rice

I knew on this trip to Montana that I'd be making Cook's Illustrated's version of Red Beans and Rice.  I had this traditional southern meal in South Carolina in January and it was oh so good.  When I got my CI in the mail with their version, I figured it was a good place to start.  I also knew making it for Benjamin would be good- in that he's had his share of red beans and rice and he could be a legit critic.  Well, I like this dish oh so much, and he approves as well.  He agreed there is a good hit of spice that runs throughout, and the only thing missing was Filet Gumbo.  

Although I had quick brined beans before, I decided I'd soak them in salt water the night before.  The man pad I was in was lacking in salt but they turned out just fine.  I found some salt the next day when I made them and they were great.  For your notes, brine the beans in 4 quarts of cold water with 3 T. salt dissolved in there.  You need to brine this way for 8 hrs, and up to 24.  Before I go on, here's a list of ingredients.  I know you're gonna make this.
Ingredients: this is what I used- loosely adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1 pound small red beans (about 2 cups) rinsed and picked over
4 slices bacon, chopped fine.
1 medium onion or 1 cup
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup celery
3 medium garlic cloves-minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
8 ounces kilbasa
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 scallions

OK.  Heat bacon in a large dutch oven until pretty much cooked- 5-8 minutes.  Add onion, green pepper, and celery- cook and stir frequently until fully softened- 6-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Cook until fragrant- about 30 seconds.

Stir in beans, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat- reduce to a simmer and allow to cook 45-60 minutes- stirring every once and awhile.

Stir in kilbasa and 1 tsp. red wine vinegar and cook until liquid is thick and beans are fully tender and creamy- 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on more red wine vinegar if you chose.  Serve over rice and sprinkle with scallions and hot sauce- lots of it- if you're Benjamin.

Basic White Rice (though there's nothing basic about this)
I think this rice recipe was dynamite.  I think because when you have good rice, it's great rice.

2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tbs. unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt

Rinse rice in a colander under cold water until the water runs clear.  I did this- and dare I say I think this little step will make you a better cook and make the rice better as well!  Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1-3 minutes.  Add water and salt and increase heat to high and bring to a boil- stir to blend ingredients.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, let stand 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and enjoy!

welcome to the family

The day after we got engaged these flowers arrived at the house from Benjamin's family.  Safe to say I'm pretty blessed!

oh just a fritata


I admit it.  I'm not a fan of the eateries around here.  Here being Great Falls, Montana.  Driving back from the mountains today we wished there was some nice lodgy place with a fire place we could go sit at.  Why does every place have to have a casino attached to it?  Oh marginal falls- I'm glad Benjamin won't be here forever. :)

This morning I decided I'd rather make us breakfast than go to it.  When we knew we'd be heading to the mountains, we needed something with sustenance.  I decided I'd make a scramble, which mid way turned into me thinking a fritata was a much better idea.  I sauted up some green onions and turkey kielbasa that was left from the red beans and rice I made the night before, and once those were cooked in some butter, I threw in about 5 eggs.  I made sure they were cooking through, and put the oven on to about 375.  I threw in some cherry tomatoes I had chopped up and some Parmesan cheese.  Into the oven it went, on the top rack just until done.  Make sure the middle is set, and then pop it out of the oven and slide it onto a cutting board.  I threw on some more cheese and some more chopped onion.  Oh- and how could I forget? Bacon.  Lots of crispy bacon.

Benjamin said this was better than what we could have gotten at a restaurant here.  Maybe he kinda has to say things like that now.  Either way- I was happy with the decision and think sometimes you should go this route.  Instead of a scramble- fritata it!

snow shoeing, or an attempt to...

Benjamin and I decided we'd get up in the mountains today and go snow shoeing, something we both hadn't done before.  Even though it was about 50 in Great Falls, we figured there'd be snow in the mountains.  There was, but not enough to mean we needed the snow shoes.  Oh well- we have tomorrow to use them as well so we're going to head back out.  Here are some shots from today.  Oh how I love his nice camera.  And him.

tomato corn salad

This salad was made with the Coriander Chicken, but I think I'd like to make it for more dishes than just that.  So simple, so fresh, so delicious.

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced green onion tops
3-4 T thinly sliced fresh basil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch black pepper
1 (7 ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained.

Mix the above and enjoy.  This salad tastes so good with that punch of basil, I highly recommend it!

coriander rubbed chicken

The night of "snack cake"came about when some friends said, "hey what should we have for dinner?"  It was a live put-the-good-spoon-to-the-test moment.  I looked up some recipes and quickly knew I'd be making Coriander Chicken with Tomato Corn Salad.  A spice rub (when you have a majority of the spices already in your pantry) is one of the most simple ways to bring something new, fresh, and simple to the table.  I highly recommend this one- and I think Nicole and Maggie would as well!

For the Rub...
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
black pepper

To prepare the chicken (4 skinless, boneless breasts) heat 1 T. in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Combine the spices and rub over the chicken.  When the pan is hot, add chicken to pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until done.

snack cake

SO.... back to the recipes kids.  After several comments about how to make this delicious cake- here ya go mags- snack cake!  I made it for Mags, Becks, and Nicole and Maggie asked about it tonight after some gourmet tuna noodle casserole and during the bach.  Confession- there ya go.  I haven't made it in awhile, and it was a surprising success.  As in, the girls ate the whole cake that night.  And they loved it.  Point and case by the photo below.  I'll let that be the encouragement to you as to why you should make this not a cake, not a cookie snack cake!

Recipe a la Cooking Light


  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 3/4  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/4  cup  semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  teaspoons  powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside.
Combine brown sugar, vanilla, and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 1 minute. Add flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake bars at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden and crusty on top. Cool in pan 10 minutes.