Monday, February 28, 2011

The Weekend In Photos (and Also, Words).

Oh, friends. I would be a lot less sad when Hugh was busy studying if he wasn't so freaking fun to be around when I have his undivided attention. This weekend was a keeper. If this weekend had been a first date, I'd be calling my Mom to tell her I'd met "the one."

There was good eating and playing outside and a little dinner party and a cocktail (or three) and sleeping in and getting the yard ready for Spring and even some grilling.

Do you want to see what it looked like? Okay!

Let's be honest, your weekend can't be anything but delightful when you are looking across the table at this at one o'clock in the afternoon on Friday:

Or when the sky looks like this for three days:

Friday night I recreated an In-and-Out/5 Guys burger. To say it was a hit would be true if both of us eating every single morsel of food on our plate constitutes a hit:

I know. You are stressing out about the state of our arteries. Please don't. Because Saturday and Sunday we did about one million hours of yard work. And that apparently burns a lot of calories. I know, I googled it.

This one was happy to have Hugh home too, apparently, as he spent most of Friday in this position:

Saturday morning was coffee and reading the news:

Ignore the entirety of my appearance in this photo and focus on Fletcher's face. And the fact that it looks like he is reading the news over my shoulder. That dog has my heart, I tell you. Also, don't be jeal of my outfit. Right after this photo was taken, I was getting ready to go outside with Fletcher. I asked Hugh if I would be warm enough. His response: Yes. But stay in the backyard. Cassie: Why? Hugh: Because you kind of look like a bag lady in that outfit.

And the deliciousness that is Bagel Melts:

Saturday night we had some friends over for dinner. I have no photos because we were too busy talking about med school and funny dogs and laughing and eating. Check back this week for the tasty menu.

Sunday morning was more Bagel Melts (why so tasty, Bagel Melts?) and time in the yard.

Would you like to see why I cannot lift my arms above my head and have to lower myself into the sitting position with great care? Half of the debris pile from our yard-working:

Sunday night we did the first grilling of the year! And it made me happy in my heart and soul. Exhibit A:

Oh, and to say that our happiness was rubbing off on this one would be an understatement; he was basically losing his mind with excitement all weekend long:

Our weekend was so perfect I'm not even sad that it's Monday. And I have some delicious posting lined up for you this week.

I hope you had a perfect Saturday and Sunday, sweet readers. And that your Monday flies by in a blink!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Meal Planning Friday. And the Best Kind of TGIF.

So, I was on a lunch date yesterday with my very favorite med school wife friend (I mean, not that I have three hundred med school wife friends, but if I did, she'd still be my favorite). There is something so lovely about someone who really does know just how you're feeling. Anyway, we were having a delightful time as we always do, chatting it up and eating tacos.

We've both been dealing with some life struggles lately, and I was saying how I know that hard times are character-building and make you better and stronger and teach you lessons and I keep trying to remind myself that.

And then she said, "Agreed. But sometimes don't you just want to say, 'Okay, I get it. I learned my lesson. I'm stronger and better. Now let's just get on with it?'"

Um, yes, yes I do. And that's why I love her.*

Anyway, that little diddy to say that we're just trucking right along around here. Blooming where we're planted and laughing at the pets and enjoying the weather and eating some pretty good food in the meantime. And, guess what! It's my favorite kind of Friday. You know...the kind where Hugh is taking a test right now, so I get him all to myself all weekend long. Hip hip hooray for post-test weekends!

This is what we've been eating lately:

Proscuitto, Bleu Cheese, Arugula, and Fig Jam (this came from the cheese section at Publix) Sandwiches on Sourdough - Freaking delicious. No recipe. Just buy the ingredients, put them on the bread, and eat it up. This would also be a great make-ahead picnic food, as the leftovers were still tasty the next morning after spending a night in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap. I know, because I ate them at 8:30am on Saturday.

Fish Tacos, Refried Black Beans, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe forthcoming), and Blood Orange Margaritas. Happy faux-Spring:

Note: This photo is deceptive, as this is actually eight margaritas, not one giant one. Just didn't want you worrying I'd gone too far down the path of happy hour.

Refried Black Bean Burritos.

Five Guys. Don't judge. Actually, judge away. I don't care. I freaking love that place, even if I can't wear my wedding rings the next day.

Amazingly delicious pizza. I've already written up this recipe post for you, so when I say check back next week for it, I'm not even lying. This pizza is so good by the time I thought to take a photo, this is what it looked like:

Sesame Noodle Salad - Make this right now. It is flavorful and healthful and a great pack-and-go lunch option. I doubled the red bell pepper, added a little bit more cabbage, and added some Sriracha for a little heat. Also, I used spaghetti because I can never find Soba noodles at Publix. We ate it all in two days, and it makes a lot.

Slow-Cooker Curried Chicken with Ginger and Yogurt
- this was on the bland side. Bummer. It needed more salt and some heat (thai chiles, perhaps?). Probably won't be making it again.
Roasted Broccoli with Sesame and Soy Sauce - this was on the opposite of bland side. As in, Hugh and I ate almost two pounds of broccoli in one sitting. Probably will be making it again in the next two days. Check back next week for the deets.

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon and Cheese - This was good and flavorful and there isn't really anything bad I can say about it. But it was just kind of eh. Hugh wasn't a fan for some reason, so we probably won't be repeating. Oh well. You win some, you loose some, right?

Okay, friends. I'm off to weekend it up with my hilarious husband and my furry children. It's raining right now, but this afternoon and the rest of the weekend look warm and sunny. Please do not tell my college-self that I check at least twice a day. She'll be so disappointed.

Happy relaxing to you and your cute little families!

*Another reason is because she's a total badass. Like, we were talking about the last time she was hiking the AT (that's Appalachian Trail for all you non-outdoorsy people out there**). And while she was hiking, a three hundred pound black bear was walking down the trail toward her and she had to distract him with food until he lumbered off into the woods. And then she went on her merry way, hiking along. I'm sorry, but seriously?! Don't be jeal, I'm just really good at picking friends who are really good at being awesome.

**I can totally relate, being a non-outdoorsy person myself. Hugh and I like to remember the time I pretended I was going to go camping with him when we first started dating. When I called my parents and told them our plans, they laughed and laughed.

After we moved to Savannah together, Hugh looked at me one day and said, "We're never going camping, are we?" No, my love, no we are not. Unless you consider an air-conditioned cabin "camping." But don't worry, I'll make up for it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TGI Freaking F.

Sorry for the dearth this week, lovely internet friends. I'm having a hard time with this Funk. Hard time as it won't just go away and leave me alone.

Until today that is. Today, everything seemed like it might just be looking up. Freaking finally. Fingers crossed. Because my heart (and my housemate) can't take much more.

It didn't hurt that it was 76 (SEVENTY FREAKING SIX DEGREES) and sunny.

Or that I was done at the gym by 9:15 this morning. Which basically means I'm awesome (today).

Or that I made myself clean the house last night, so Hugh and I didn't have to do it this afternoon.

Or that Fletcher weighs 48.6lbs (!!) as of yesterday afternoon. Grow, Fletcher, grow!

Or that I convinced the husband of my dreams to blow off studying today and hang out with me. I keep telling myself that it's because I'm charming and delightful. But really I think it was mainly the weather. And the promise of my next happiness point.

Or that we ate $9.57 worth of frozen yogurt today. Because we're addicts.

Or that I have a chocolate cake in the oven.

Or that I'm getting ready to make prosciutto, bleu cheese, arugula, and balsamic fig jam sandwiches on fresh sourdough. Don't be jeal.

Or that Hugh sometimes styles his moustache like this when I'm practicing my camera skills on him (because he's awesome):

Or that my dog sleeps like this:

All those happy reasons to say I bounced around like I was high on life today. And I kind of was. I told my Mom this afternoon that this was the happiest I'd felt in a million years. Then she reminded me about when I married Hugh. And when I got Fletcher. And when I got engaged. Oh yeah. Those were happy times too, Mom. But this is the happiest I've felt in at least three months. And that's a long, long time.

I hope your heart is light and your weekend is warm and sunny.

Post script: It's toddy time at our house. But Hugh just had to run next door to help our neighbor, so he stuck his delicious gin cocktail in the freezer. And I'm standing at the counter by the fridge blogging. And I keep opening the freezer to drink said cocktail. And now it's almost gone, which means I need to hurry up and make him another one. Shoot.

I think wine and I are about to go on a break. Sorry, but there's a new guy in town. And, wine, I'm just warning you: the last time I went on a break* with someone, I met Hugh. And now we're married. So your odds aren't looking good...

*Hugh would like me to qualify that there was no cheating going on. I really was on a legitimate break. And by break I mean I had sworn off men forever. Hugh did have a girlfriend, but coincidentally was "about to break up with her anyway." See? I really am charming and delightful.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spread a Little Love

Someone in the White Hot house is running late for Savannah this morning because she could have stopped at one less champagne cocktail last night. Hell's bells. But I wanted to stop in and tell you about the how we celebrated the day of love in our house.

Sometimes I can be so crafty.

I know most people think Valentine's day is a silly manufactured holiday. And, really, I don't disagree. But, on February 13, 2005, after four (very long, if you ask my husband) months of courtship on the part of a certain handsome classmate, I woke up at 7am to the realization that I was in love with Hugh.

Before that day, we'd spent many months as "just friends." You know, the kind of "friends" who talk on the phone for three hours each night and schedule their classes together and study together and go to dinner together and plan trips together. Which is to say we were basically dating for several months before I even realized it. Lucky for me, Hugh has the patience of a saint.

Anyway, after I was hit with the realization of my feelings, I decided not to tell Hugh about this change of heart. Or awakening of heart, if you will. We already had plans to go to dinner on Valentine's day (as "friends," of course), so when we were walking into the restaurant, I casually reached over and held Hugh's hand. I think he got the message. And the rest, as they say, is history.

All that sweetness to say, Valentine's day has a special little place in my heart. Plus, if we're being honest, you know I am a sucker for love and for celebrations. And, a day to celebrate love?! Sign me up.

After our first February 14th, we realized that dining out on the day when everyone else in America is also going out to dinner was generally a great way to spend a lot of money on mediocre food and bad service. So for the last six years, Hugh and I have alternated planning and cooking an indulgent dinner at home. This year it was my turn. Check back tomorrow for a food recap. I'll give you a hint, there were oysters and lobster and tiramisu.

In the end, it was another happy day with the loves of my life. Who wouldn't feel lucky to have these boys as her Valentines:

I hope your day was sweet and you didn't overdo it on the champagne...

Post Script: Do you want to see a photo of our first Valentine's day? Okay!

February 14, 2005

The palpable nervousness in this picture hurts my heart. I want to just reach out and hug those kids. Oh, and don't be jeal of my awesome hand placement.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Happiest Day of the Week

So, Hugh started some pediatrics work about two weeks ago. Which means about one week and five days ago, he came home with a terrible cold. Which means for the last seven days, I have been battling said terrible cold. Damn med school. So, that's where I've been, friends. Blowing my nose and looping myself up on cough medicine.

Let's talk about what else has been happening between my using two whole boxes of Kleenex:

1. I have cooked nothing noteworthy. We've gone way over our food budget for the first half of February, so we're scrounging up dinners from the pantry and the freezer. Check back next week for something you might actually want to make in your own kitchen.

2. I felt like sewing something yesterday, so Fletcher got a new bandanna just in time for Valentine's day. Hugh made fun of him all evening because he said it was too girly. I told Hugh it was my compensation for being surrounded by testosterone all the time. Fortunately, Fletcher's very comfortable with his masculinity:

3. Speaking of Fletcher, he gained almost 5 pounds in the last eight days! His vets and his parents are so excited.

4. says sunny all weekend long. Hip hip hooray!

5. Hugh's reading Eating the Dinosaur and there is an exercise in the book that asks you to think of what you would say to your teenage self if you had fifteen seconds to call them from the future. I was hemming and hawing trying to decide which of my mistakes I would caution myself sixteen-year-old self against. I asked Hugh was he would say and, without hesitation, he responded, "Don't worry so much. Everything works out fine. You're going to be a doctor and your wife is smokin' hot." Um, Hugh is awesome.

6. Henry is by far my best practice subject. Probably because he will stay in the same spot for five hours at a time. And he's a beauty:

7. Hugh and I found a frozen yogurt shop where we live. We went on a little date with Fletcher on Wednesday night and fun was had by all. I don't like ice cream and I don't really like dessert, but I love frozen yogurt. I'm partial to the original flavor (basically lightly sweetened plain yogurt) with no toppings. Added bonus that it's something Fletcher can eat, so he got to lick the container when I was done. Not because he's spoiled. Hugh is partial to the self-serve feature of this yogurt shop. I had to restrain him from serving himself 16oz of dessert.

8. A little bird told me my Momma might just be coming to visit me for a whole week in the Spring. How soon is too soon to start counting down the days?! She's against being mentioned or pictured on the internet, which is why you never hear about her. But, she's pretty much the best. And the cutest. We're best friends:

Circa 1988ish.

And that's pretty much all I have to say. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And Now, For My Next Trick, I Will Birth a Two-Year Old.

Oh, internet friends. My real-life friends seriously make the cutest kids. They make my clock tick. Especially this one:

Everything a toddler needs: juice, goldfish, and Handy Manny.

Hugh likes him a little bit too, in case you were wondering.

I've told you all about Elizabeth and how she's married to Lofton and they are the parents of Reese. I've told you how we've been friends since we were eleven and she knows me like no one else and spending time with her is just good for me. And I told you how all three of them were coming to visit this weekend.

And then Hugh and spent thirty-six hours scheming as to how we could convince them to leave Reese with us. Forever. You see, we think he's just perfect. He's smart and hilarious and so freaking cute, and when he realizes you're taking his photo, he gives you his model face:

We spent the weekend playing with Handy Manny and eating donuts and splashing in the tub and taking a trip to Build-A-Bear, where Reese selected a puppy dog to build and named him Fletcher. Oh, good, because I need another reason to love you, kiddo:

Giving Fletcher a heart and making a wish.

Stuffing him.

Bathing Fletcher.

We had fun with the grown-ups, too. There was eating and chatting and a lunch date and some Wii competing between the boys while Elizabeth and I sat on the couch reading cookbooks and drinking wine and having a heart-to-heart.

And just when I thought things couldn't get better, Reese and Fletcher (the real version) did this:

And something biological within me demanded Hugh immediately give me a two-year old to snuggle on the couch with my dog.

Seriously, it was the best kind of weekend with our favorite kind of visitors. Come back soon, sweet Beasley family! Our house is way too quiet now...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Friday and Happy Eating

Y'all. As I might have mentioned earlier this week, and to Hugh about one million times, I'm so excited to see these faces TODAY! Last time Hugh and I saw them was for a brief six hours in Atlanta. You should click on that link and read about how we popped out from around the corner at Ikea and surprised Elizabeth on her birthday. Lofton was a peach to invite us then, but the visit was really just a tease, because after six hours of laughing and shopping and margaritas and eating, we had to get in the car and come home. So, this Sunday morning, we might just be kidnapping them and making them stay here forever. Especially this one:

This child doesn't have a shy bone in his body. When I pulled out the camera at lunch, he started running through the gamut of his facial expressions for me. This is mad face. I know, I die too. My favorite part is how he's trying not to smirk.

Anyway, besides being excited and being at work and being a commuter and being in a Funk, I've also been cooking up a storm lately. I'll save a few things that I feel need their own posts, but here's a rundown of some delicious food coming out of the White Hot kitchen lately:

Vegetarian Pad Thai
- A oldie but goodie around here. Hugh was a vegetarian for five years before we met. That fact has no relevance to this dinner, other than the fact that it is also vegetarian.

Dinner Spanakopitas
- So good. A bit of work to put together, but a fun weekend dinner that will impress even your meat-eating friends.

White Bean Enchiladas - Make them. Love them. Easy and delicious. And meat-free.

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup - Hugh loved this. I made it with vegetable broth and liked it well enough. I think made with chicken broth (as the recipe calls for) it would be dynamite.

Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce - Easy and great. Kid-friendly, also. I substituted goat cheese and a splash of half-and-half for the mascarpone.

Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter
- Oh. My. God. This is out of this world insanely delicious. I made this when Nicole was here and ate two-and-a-half bowls of it. Also, it might be the easiest thing I've ever made. Also, I want to be Ina Garten when I grow up. Also, I want to make a million little bowls of deliciousness with this pasta. Also, I got my tagliarelle and my truffle butter at Fresh Market. Also, Fresh Market is danger zone for me. I have two requests for our post-med school life: fresh flowers in the house all the time (which we actually kind of have now because my husband is a spoiler) and being able to do my weekly grocery shopping at Fresh Market. Are you listening, Hugh? Consider your specialty wisely, my love.

I'll leave you with this little teaser photo of a recipe that's on the way:

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Arugula (on homemade bread) and Tomato Soup. Perfect for everyone in America who is freezing.

With that, I bid you happy weekend, good eating, and stay warm. I hope you get to spend the next 3 days with friends you love so much you want to kidnap them and make them live with you forever!

Post Script: I'm so excited about our weekend company I didn't mention that Hugh's on his way home from a test, which means a study-free weekend! Hip hip hooray!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

This Thursday, there's one thing I love. It's this face:

Hugh and I were talking recently about how when something is ailing you, you think about it constantly, but if the ailing stops it only takes a day or two for your gratitude to diminish. This is why so many studies show that a new car or more money or better clothes don't make you happy, because in a few weeks you adjust and you're used to the new thing and just jonesing for the next new thing. You materialistic consumer, you.

All that deep thought to say, I was taking Fletcher's picture recently. I'm trying to improve my photography skills, so I was in the family room making Fletcher sit as my subject (note to self: a Boxer is never going to be an ideal portrait subject). After about three minutes he was started jumping all around, boxing me (do you know they really do this?), and trying to get me to play. For about ten seconds I was aggravated, wanting him to just sit still and let me take some pictures.

Then I remembered, eight weeks ago I was distraught because my Fletcher was too sick to get up and greet us at the door; playing wasn't even on his radar. I bargained in my sleepless nights that if he would just get well I would not take his crazy dog energy for granted or get frustrated when woke us up in the morning again. Oh, how quickly we forget.*

So, this Thursday, I love sweet Fletcher. His boundless energy, unending enthusiasm for everything, and unconditional love make my life so much better. This is what a pup on the mend looks like:

Post Script: For those of you who've asked, Fletcher was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in December. This is a blanket term for dog digestive issues. Basically, Fletcher is intolerant to many foods. Including chicken.

Let's take moment to reflect on the fact that my dog is allergic to chicken. Oh, of course he is.

Now he's on a prescription food and a combination antibiotic/anti-inflammatory. Slowly but surely he's gaining weight. Personality-wise, he's almost back to his normal self. Frequent high fives have been exchanged between these dog parents each time he improves.

Thanks for all your sweet support, my Fletcher-loving friends. I'll post an update photo when he's fattened up again. Hugh and I are so proud and praising every time he eats (which is ravenously at every single meal), that any time we get one of his bowls out Fletcher starts prancing around the kitchen waiting for our cheers and pets. Spoiled boy. We just love him so.

*Oh, and for the record, I put that camera right down and played with him until he was worn out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Portrait of a Marriage

Scene: Laying in bed reading and talking. (Hugh would like me to preface this by saying we each had one foot on the floor like "I Love Lucy." I have no idea what that means.)

Wife: You know what would really make me feel happy?

Husband: What's that?

W: If you would leave a comment on my blog every now and then.

H: Hmm. Well, I already pre-read all your posts to edit them for typos and spelling errors. So I don't usually even read them once they're actually posted.

W: Oh, that's great, Hugh. That makes me feel really good. I'm not going to let you pre-read them anymore, then you will want to leave a comment.

H: Sure. I'll leave a comment with your typos and spelling errors.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giving the People What They Want: Greek Nachos

In the last few days I've gotten three requests for this recipe. Probably because I told you I was going to give it to you like three weeks ago and I teased you with a photo of their deliciousness. Shoot. Better late than never?

I'm sure you know all about Mark Bittman. He had a column in the NYT called the Minimalist for 13 years (and 700 recipes!). I briefly mentioned him in my cookbook post. He's an avid home cook (per his humble description) and food writer and overall cooking badass. Basically, he makes delicious food seem really easy. Lately he has a focus on using meat as more of an accent than a main course, lightening up the way we eat, and consuming real food. We at the White Hot household love everything about that mindset.

Hugh and I started making these after we watched about a hundred hours of Minimalist videos one Sunday afternoon. A forewarning before you click on that link: these are short, entertaining, and will make you hungry. They might even prompt you to get right into the kitchen and start cooking.

The idea behind the conception of these nachos is that this classic bar food can be really spectacular, but not that difficult, when you make them at home with real ingredients (no canned yellow cheese sauce here). We concur, Mark, we concur.

Greek Nachos
barely adapted from Mark Bittman
serves 2 (per the White Hot household, MB says they serve 4 but he must not know how delicious these are)

4 pita pockets, whole-wheat or white, cut into wedges
About 1/2 cup olive oil
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup yogurt, preferably whole-milk, Greek-style
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2lb ground lamb
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped (or 3/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange pita wedges on baking sheet. Brush wedges with 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake 5 minutes. Flip wedges over. Bake until they begin to turn golden, about 5 more minutes. The idea is you want them to crisp up a bit, but not be completely crunchy. Turn oven off. Remove wedges from oven and sprinkle with salt. Return wedges to oven to keep warm.

In the meantime, in a food processor combine feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, mint, parsley, juice and zest of the lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Process until smooth. If mixture looks thick (it should be pourable but not runny), add 1 - 2 tablespoons more olive oil and pulse to combine. Taste and salt as necessary (I like to salt after you blend and taste because the feta is super salty, so you'll probably only need 1/4 teaspoon).

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add lamb, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and cook until meat is cooked through, about 5 - 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary.

Divide chips between 2 plates, top with half of meat mixture, tomatoes, cucumber, and olives. Drizzle with feta-yogurt sauce. Eat it up:

Notes: You will probably have leftover sauce. Don't worry. The next day you can make more toasted pita wedges and dip them in the saucy goodness. Or just eat it with a spoon.

Also, we like to serve these with a little bit of hot sauce.