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Archive for October, 2009

Last Saturday

It was a great day in so many unexpected ways.  We went to bed Friday night knowing it was going to be a full-blown schedule and we would end the day tired.  We did end the day tired, but we also ended the day feeling really blessed.

We had a great morning coffee date with someone who I’ve just gotten to know recently.  Their faith and exposure to worldwide ministry is pretty new.  It was such a delight to sit with them and just have them be genuinely excited about the path Nate & I are headed down.  I’m excited to continue to get to know them.

The next mini-blessing came as an unexpected (read: we got lost) detour through downtown Glen Ellyn.  Though I’m usually extremely anxious about being late to places, I was so enamored with the beauty of God’s creation of Fall colors all around us that I couldn’t help but be calm and glad that we were a little late.  It was a fun moment just the two of us as we exclaimed over deep reds, pure yellow, and even bright fuschia.  We also exclaimed over the gi-grande-normous homes that boasted these trees but that has always been a favorite past time.

We spent our afternoon meeting with someone Nate has known a number of years.  Everything about the hours with him was a total blessing.  He did photography for us for ministry purposes – something he offered freely that we had no idea he even did.  After the photo session, he came together with us over coffee and just delved into our lives.  We left feeling astounded and grateful for the time with him.  We came to this meeting asking for one thing and we feel like we left with our hands brimming with more than we ever could have asked to receive.  Definitely a God encounter, particularly when we felt like he really spoke into our lives in a meaningful way.

God has really been expanding our hearts and our thinking about this “initial phase” of the journey that we are on.  It’s exciting to watch and leaves me full of expectation for how much He is going to grow our faith and develop us in this time.

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I’ve probably never gone longer without posting a sweet recipe than I have since starting food blogging.  This in no way means that I haven’t been getting my chocolate dosage, though.  I don’t know how it happened, but this is not the remedy yet.  This is not a blog about dessert.  It’s a blog about dinner.  A nice, have-your-friends-over dinner.

It’s got all the decadent favorites: nuts and a quality cheese.  A sauce with tons of flavor and no nutritional value.  Oh and its wrapped in bacon. Wrapped in bacon. Those words go over well in my house.  Rumor has it that they go over particularly well in my sister’s house as well.  Truthfully, it’s the kind of thing I don’t make often because well, I like the current size of my hips, and because anything combining meat and toothpicks tends to make me batty.  Just batty.  But that’s why I have an excellent sous chef who will encourage me in any bacon endeavor.  (I believe the last line of the vows I took with my sous chef was a promise to “support you in all your endeavors.”  Well, he also supports me in all his endeavors.  And his endeavors often involve Miss Piggy.)

BACON WRAPPED CHICKEN WITH BLUE CHEESE AND PECANS
Originally from foodnetwork.com, Rachael Ray 2008
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
2 scallions, sliced on bias
4 slices good-quality center cut bacon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
Special equipment: toothpicks

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butterfly the chicken breast pieces by cutting across the breast but not all the way through. Open the breasts up and pound lightly between parchment paper. Peel paper away and season the meat with salt and pepper.

Cover the seasoned chicken cutlets with blue cheese crumbles, pecans and scallions in equal amounts. Roll the chicken, wrap each roll with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Season the outside of the rolls with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken evenly all over, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a small baking sheet, place in the oven and cook 10 minutes more.

Melt the butter in the same skillet pan the chicken was seared in over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock. Let thicken a minute then whisk in the half-and-half and grain mustard, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to warm.

Halve the chicken and stack to show off the center. Set chicken in gravy or pour over top. Serve with rice and greens, if desired.

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This is not your average tart.  Neither does it contain the caloric content of an average tart.  It’s possible it contains double.

It’s rich.  It’s velvety.  It’s aromatic and tangy and pungently garlic.  It’s buttah.

It sets up nicely and would be perfect for your next bruncheon luncheon.  It will put smiles on the faces of those who come to a brunch expecting distastefully to feel over-sugared, -syruped- and –carbed.  I for one love to feel all three, but people such as my husband do not.  They want bacon. Lots of bacon.  Forget the Belgium waffles, forget the crème anglaise French toast.  Give me bacon!  Perhaps this tart can serve as the middle ground between the frou-frou sheeshee (no idea how to spell that) vibe you were going for and the person who has eyes only for the savory at 11am.  Or perhaps, like me, you have no time for sprawling brunches and instead decide to serve this up for Sunday dinner.

Garlic and Rosemary Goat Cheese Tart Served with Spring Greens and Black Olive Vinaigrette
Adapted from foodnetwork.com, Emeril Lagasse, 2005

Prep Time: 20 min   Inactive Prep Time: 30 min   Cook Time: 30 min

Serves: 8 servings

9 ounces goat cheese
7 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 head roasted garlic, pulp mashed
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 recipe blind baked pie crust
1 pound mixed spring greens
1 recipe Black Olive Vinaigrette, recipe follows
2/3 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives, for garnishing plates

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Into a large mixing bowl place the goat cheese, butter, ricotta cheese, and roasted garlic and beat ingredients with a mixer on high speed until smooth. Add the egg yolks one at a time, then the flour, rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, and white pepper, mixing well to incorporate.

Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake until the top is golden and the filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Toss the greens with enough Black Olive Vinaigrette to just coat the greens and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately with slices of the tart. Garnish plates with kalamata olive halves.

Black Olive Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped kalamata olives
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a blender combine the vinegar, shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the mustard and olives and blend until smooth. While continuing to blend, add the oils in a thin, steady stream until vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Transfer to a nonreactive container and set aside, refrigerated, until ready to use.

Yield: about 1 cup

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Baptism Sunday

We had a fantastic baptism at church this past Sunday.  A young guy gave his testimony, which included a past history of emotional and verbal abuse in his relationships with women.  It was just renewing for me to hear his story in juxtaposition to my work where every day I hear stories about men who don’t stop and aren’t remorseful.  This guy’s story was powerful and full of hope because Jesus is central to his transformation.

Truly, every baptism at New Life is fantastic.  I’ve never witnessed a church celebrate this core Christian event with the same joy and passion that New Life does.  Baptisms time and again turn my husband into a crier.  As I witnessed last Sunday’s baptism I thought that aside from the people and friendships I’ve formed inside of this church, it is the baptisms that I’ll miss the most.

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Posts That Never Happened

Pretty pomegranate seeds for a salad.  They look like ruby jewels.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls right out of the oven.

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The Business of Being Born

movie is NOT for the faint of heart or easily squeamish.  While I am 98% convinced that I will make the switch to a midwife and birthing center before the end of November, I am not convinced about particular highlights of the movie.  There are two things I am convinced I will not be doing:

Pulling the baby out of me with my own two hands (99.9%)
Giving birth naked from head to toe (100%)

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Catalan Chicken Chowder

Chowder.  A perfect signal that Fall is indeed here.  A perfect antidote to days that got far too cold far too quickly.

I love this chowder for it’s ease and versatility.  I also love the big bundle of saffron-flavored rice in the middle of it.  It’s the only packaged rice/pasta product you’ll see me buy.  But this recipe has endless possibilities and is perfect to substitute and change based on your convenience and palate.  This last time I made it, I had very small amounts of both shredded pork and chicken so I threw both in.  I’ve also been meaning to try this with shrimp instead because I think it would go perfectly and be perfectly Spanish as well.  This time I was out of peas and red peppers so I gave it a bit of a Latin American twist with a slice of avocado on top and ditched the almonds.

See what I mean?  You can throw almost anything in and you’ll come away with a warm, full belly.

Catalan Chicken Chowder
Originally from Sara Moulton
Serves 4

1 (5 oz.) pkg. of saffron-flavored yellow rice mix
8 oz. (1/2 lb.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. Olive oil
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 of a 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup frozen baby sweet peas
1/2 of a 7. 25 oz. jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips
2 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted

Prepare rice according to package directions; set aside and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook chicken, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and artichoke hearts; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas and red pepper strips. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through.

To serve, divide soup among individual serving bowls. Spoon a mound of cooked rice in center of each bowl. Sprinkle with almonds.

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