Keep Calm & Get Cooking

So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being. — Franz Kafka

I never want our busy lives to hinder eating good wholesome meals. Yes, I eat breakfast and lunch at work. And Husband eats lunch and dinner at work. We have weird schedules. Like I've said before, food is my love language, and I desire to send Husband off each day with with a wholesome lunch (and dinner) bag. For our lifestyle, the only way to accomplish this is organization. Each weekend I create a menu, grocery list and then hit the local grocer. Upon returning home I sort out my ingredients and start prepping/cooking.

This week's menu:
wild mushroom barley risotto — modified to be vegan friendly of course!

thai basil eggplant over organic steamed brown rice

palak tofu served with vegan roti

ratatouille — not a new recipe for us, just a simple throw together meal packed full of veggies.

And last but not least, roasted tomato and black bean soup.
This is a new recipe I'm developing and will share soon!

Like Julia Child once said, You have to eat to cook. You can't be a good cook and be a non-eater. I think eating is the secret to good cooking. That is the whole premise of how I cook. When picking out new recipes to try, I never really follow them — they're just guidelines. Taste and see. Do what is delicious to you!

So dear readers, how do you stay organized to feed your family? Any good tips? Please share!

I believe in celebration.

I believe in celebrating birthdays.
I believe each birthday should be celebrated to it's full extent. I don't understand people who don't party their birthday away. A birthday is the date of entry into the world —  but each subsequent year is worth even more celebration. Each year marks new goals accomplished and new celebrate!

People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we see to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state — it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or spectacle...Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions. — Abraham Joshua Heschel

Well, today is Husband's 27th birthday and it is definitely reason to celebrate.

Nick, you are the most amazing person I have ever met. You are an inspiration to me and so many others — just by being you, with your motivation, dedication and simple smiles. This past year has been an adventure and every year it just keeps getting better and better. I wish blessings upon you today and for this new year. May you have much happiness, many successes and fresh adventures — I look forward to traveling alongside you.

Happy birthday soul mate.

Welcome to the family little Braxton.

Husband and I have discussed the prospect of growing our family with a pup over the years but each discussion, the timing just wasn't right. So we would say, someday....knowing in the future we would be able to welcome a sweet pet into our home. Since we bought our new home, the discussion has come up numerous times, but yet again we decided to wait.

Funny how things change so quickly.

Sunday, 1:00 pm
This past Sunday I was at home alone, cooking in my kitchen and I had this aching and I wished so badly that I had the company of a sweet pup. So of course I flip open my laptop and start searching for dogs for sale.

You probably know where this is leading, right?

2:00 pm
So I open my laptop and do a quick search — I find a few that might be good for our family, so I copy the links and email them to Husband. At this point I am excited of the idea but there are quite a few hours before Husband would be home from work, so I went back to cooking.

5:20 pm
Husband walks in the door from work and I bombard him with:

Me: Did you see my email?!
Husband: No...
Me: Well I decided today I really want a pup for company. I sent you an email with a few that I found!
Husband: silence...pulls out his phone and looks at the emails
Me: So what do you think? What one is your favorite?
Husband: he shows me his favorite

(Cute, right?)

Me: Should I contact them to see if he's still available?!
Husband: Yea let's go for it...but let's discuss this a bit first.
Me: There is nothing to discuss! We already have! It would be a good thing!
Husband: True, we have talked about it over and over.
Me: This is just too perfect and falling into place...

5:33 pm
So after we decided on our favorite pup in our in-depth, decision-making conversation (Ha!) I texted the owner to schedule a visit.

Wednesday, 6:00 pm
Three days later, we finally got to go see the sweet little pup. Oh my goodness those few days were like torture — I guess I need a lesson in patience or something. I was so eager. I was so worried someone else would buy him before we arrived. So many emotions — I mean I had waited my whole entire life for this little guy. I know it sounds dramatic, but it is true.

Growing up, as a child, I always wanted a dog, but our family just wasn't the dog-type of family (or so I thought). To be brief, while Husband and I were on our honeymoon I got an excited call from my mom and sister saying, we bought a dog! Are you like kidding me? They waited until I got out of the house?! So that is the quick history on me saying, I've waited for this sweet dog my whole life. It's the truth.

Wednesday, 8:15 pm
We got to bring home our new sweet addition to the family.

Our sweet little Braxton is a three-year old maltipoo (maltese/poodle mix) who has the most wonderful personality. He is full of energy and ready to play. Braxton already thinks he's our shadow and I love that!

Photos to come!

Final Summer Fling

So life gets busy. I had this understanding that summer is supposed to be that slow "off" season of the year. Oh boy did I have that wrong. Saying goodbye to summer this past Labor Day weekend was my chance to actually spend a bit of quality time with my husband. We escaped the world for two days, Monday and Tuesday, to Galena. A quaint town in Northwest Illinois. We spent time actually catching up (for those of you who don't know, we are on pretty much opposite schedules). We walked and talked. We toured a vineyard. We sipped on wine. We shopped. But the best part of it all? We connected and we dreamed. I like to dream big — it's one of my gifts. Dreaming big energizes me and I had the time to verbally express my dreams to someone who believes in me — who believes in my aspirations — who has trust in my lofty ideas...Complete bliss. Thank you Husband.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream;
not only plan, but also believe.
Anatole France

To my dear husband: Thank you for the time away together. Our final summer fling is something that I will always hold in a special place in my heart.

Dreams are journeys that empower the soul.

Gluten-Free Grilled Polenta Bruschetta

Happy Labor Day weekend! The mark of summer's end. How are you celebrating the holiday? For me, I'll be eating good. Vegan and gluten-free — seriously, how could a long weekend get any better?

Gluten-Free Grilled Polenta Bruschetta. Oh, and did I mention its vegan too?

2 T extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pints grape tomatoes, halve lengthwise
1 T balsamic vinegar
20 whole basil leaves, chiffonade, more if preferred (I know I do!)
salt and pepper, to taste
1-18 oz sleeve of polenta

Add tomatoes, balsamic, basil, garlic and salt and pepper to a bowl. Mix. Cover and refrigerate an hour or so to allow the flavors to meld.

Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch slices and thinly brush on a coat of olive oil. Heat the grill to medium-high. Grill until grill marks appear and is slightly crunchy. Brush another coat of olive oil to the tops and flip so the newly oiled side is grill-side down. Grill until crisp on the outside, but not too much that they're completely crisp. You want the insides to stay soft and creamy.

To serve, give the tomato mixture a final stir, generously spoon over the grilled polenta rounds and serve.

Trust me, no one will miss the gluten!

Enjoy your extra day without labor — I know I will be!