Eric and I are officially finished raising support for our Costa Rica trip this summer. God is so amazing. We never had a doubt he would provide for us, we just didn't anticipate how fast he would do it! We are both so excited that given the opportunity we would leave today!
However, there are many who still need support. We are having Costa Rica night on May 15th at GCS to raise money for them. The cost is $15/ticket and we will be having O'Charleys grilled chicken, corn bread, black beans, rice, and more. Let me, Eric, or any of the other Costa Rica bound individuals know if you want a ticket!
Costa Rica here we come!
Now on to the menu! Sarah and I decided last week we would make smoked gouda mac and cheese and brownies. Amy volunteered to make the spinach dip. (Spinach dip recipe coming soon to great grub!) I am so excited I can't stand it!!! Due to an eye appointment tomorrow, Cissy and I are making the mac and cheese tonight and we will bake at Sarahs' tomorrow. Without further adieu, I give you...
Smoked Gouda Macaroni & Cheese
- vegetable oil
- 1 lb. pasta (whatever short cut you like)
- 1 quart milk
- 1 stick butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 12 oz. (4 cups) smoked gouda, shredded
- 8 oz. (2 cups) mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 4 small tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the smoked gouda, mozzarella, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.BON APETIT!
Here are some of mine (and Etsy's) suggestions for Mother's Day:
1. Jewelry. You can't go wrong. I love these earrings from TheIntuitiveGarden.
2. Art. Most people love art. I don't think you have to be a connoisseur of art to enjoy it. My rule for buying artwork is if you like it, it speaks to you, and you have somewhere to put it in your house, BUY IT. I love this piece from eyeful.
3. Edibles (or drinkables!). Anything you can eat is a great present! If you don't agree you should re-evaluate your priorities! Kidding! But seriously, giving a gift is all about getting something for someone they wouldn't necessarily buy for themselves. An exquisite box of dark chocolates, a gift certificate to a 5 star restaurant, or a yummy coffee sampler! My choice for the latter is this one from TheRoaster.
No matter what you pick for dear old mom, just make it personal. And what better way to do that than by supporting artists! Happy shopping!!!
Many of you know that I was on Spring Break this week from my job teaching at Emerald High School. It was a well-needed break. I made up my mind before the break even started that I was going to be productive, not lazy. I had made plans with my sister that lives in Charleston to visit her Thursday - Saturday, so that only left me Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to accomplish my list:
1. make homemade spaghetti sauce and freeze
2. make split pea soup and freeze
3. make black bean soup and freeze
4. get all laundry PUT AWAY
5. plant vegetable garden
6. plant herb garden
7. have as many lunch dates as possible (I so miss this when I am at work)
8. get Maggie's nails clipped/flea pills
9. de-clutter my house
10. spend time with my best friend/husband
Lofty goals for a short amount of time, right? Here is the breakdown of what I actually got done.
1. I did make homemade spaghetti sauce that is delicious. I made a ton of it so it is in our deep freezer in the garage to be used in lieu of going out to eat. We are trying really hard to scale back on that for reasons I will divulge in a later post.
2. Split Pea Soup = delicious and easy. I also made a ton of this and it is in the deep freezer as well. I did this one in the crock pot overnight and it was one of the easiest things I have ever done. I heart crock pot meals.
3. Black bean soup is a work in progress. I soaked the black beans but then couldn't find a suitable recipe. I couldn't even frankenstein recipes together like I normally do in order to get one that I liked. Suggestions welcome!!!
4. HA HA HA
5. DONE! We planted squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. Yes, we are going to start small. This is our first gardening attempt so we decided simple is better. If this year goes well we would love to add green beans, broccoli, carrots, peas, you name it! More on the garden later...
6. Also DONE! Rosemary, basil, chives (that came back from last year!) and Italian parsley round out our little herb garden. I use all of those herbs fairly frequently. My plan is to get enough basil to make pesto this year!
7. Check! I ate with almost all of my favorite people! Sushi date with Kimberly, Howard's on Main with Denine, business lunch with Bridget at McAlisters. I had dinner with Jess one night too at O'Charleys. And by dinner I mean I ate their new smores dessert for dinner. No joke. It was awesome. I LOVE MY GIRLS!
8. Got Maggie's nails clipped and her flea pills. She was not happy with me, but she was a trooper. Even when we discovered they cut one too short and she was bleeding for over an hour. Nothing a little flour and gauze couldn't fix though. No worries, she is fine!
9. again...HA HA HA!
10. It is never enough for me.
6/10 ain't bad!
Yesterday was Easter Sunday. This follows Good Friday, which for me this year, was absolutely amazing. We had a "Tenebrae" service at church that Friday. If you want to know more about it, go to my friend Steve's blog. It is all explained there!
Back to the story at hand. I woke up Sunday morning (Eric had to play in the praise band this morning so he was already at church by the time I woke up.) thinking to myself Easter just isn't the same as an adult as it is when you are a child. There is no half-eaten carrot on the table where the Easter bunny had been, no Easter basket, and worst of all, no candy. Slightly dejected I got up, took a shower, put on my new Easter dress and headed to church.
As I walked up to then entrance I was greeted by my friend Matt who informed me that there was a surprise inside on the Welcome desk for me and Eric. By the time I got to the Welcome desk I had met 3 others who told me the same thing! Well Eric found it first and had already put it on my seat. Lo and behold there was a bona fide Easter basket on my chair at church this morning with a note that read "To Eric and Heather Evans, From The Easter Bunny." No joke! It was filled to the brim with Easter treats, including milk chocolate eggs (one of my faves) peeps (Eric's fave), two water guns, Hershey's chocolate bunny, jelly beans, easter side walk chalk, sweet tart bunnies, and a Reese's bunny. The Easter Bunny knows us well! Even after all these years...
Eric and I both agreed our favorite treat was the Funny Bunny wind up rabbit that "drops" jelly beans from under his tail as he hops. The Easter Bunny has a sense of humor!
So the moral of the story is, just when you think all of your childhood has past, the Easter Bunny comes to visit! So Easter Bunny, wherever you may be, THANK YOU!
Here is my grandmother's, whom we call Tata, recipe for hummus. Now this is her adapted version, when she lived in Lebanon things were a little different.
- 2 cans chick peas (or garbanzo beans)
- 4 Tbsp. tahini (Whole Foods has it on the peanut butter isle)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (better if it is fresh squeezed)
- 4 cloves garlic
Drain the chick peas, but save the liquid! Add the chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic into your food processor and blend until garlic is pureed. Add salt to taste (I usually add anywhere from 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. depending on the saltiness of the chick peas). Pour in the reserved chick pea liquid as it is blending to reach the desired consistancy. Traditionally it should be thick enough to almost, but not quite, run off a spoon. Enjoy with lebanese bread...if you can find it! Tata ships me mine every couple of months from a bakery in Boston. We freeze it and it lasts for a long time. If you can't find lebanese bread, store-bought pita is a decent substitution.
So if you want to shop local stores on etsy, here is what you do: Go to http://www.etsy.com/shop_local.php, type your city and state into the search box and go to town!
I live in the big city of Greenwood, South Carolina. There are 3 local shops from Greenwood, Jillie07, yellowbright, and fearlesscreativity. Go check them out if you like jewelry and other home decor items. I haven't bought anything yet, but I am eyeing these earrings from Jillie!
Wednesday nights a few of us girls get together for "girls night" at my friend Sarah's house and we cook...and talk...and laugh. (She has a 16 month old and 4 month old twins, so we go to her!) She is a vegetarian, so I have had to become very creative with my menus. Since the first of the year I have been cooking 2-3 vegetarian meals a week at my house. They are usually healthier and inexpensive. It has really broadened my horizons, and I am not a picky eater at all! A few of my favorite vegetarian recipes to date: 1. sweet potato fries and spinach dip 2. black bean, onion, and cheese quesadillas 3. mexican lentil casserole 4. hummus pizza.
Sweet Potato Fries
-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch sticks
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. cayenne
-1 tsp. brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet so that they are not overlapping. Drizzle vegetable oil to coat all sides of the fries. Sprinkle salt, cayenne, and brown sugar. Toss with your hands to coat evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway. Enjoy with honey mustard!
If you want any of the other recipes, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I will be posting more recipes later.