Friday, July 29, 2011

What We're Doing. And Eating.

This morning I woke up feeling all, "Oh, hey, there you are, Friday. Missed you, buddy."

Which is to say I woke up in a fantastic mood. Probably because I found out last night the husband of my lifetime is off this weekend. And, also, my birthday is a week from tomorrow, so you had better believe I'm milking that as much as I possibly can by dramatically proclaiming, "Let the celebration begin!" Multiple times a day. Hugh loves me.

Here's what we've been up to this week - the good, the bad, and the food:

  • Commuting like it's my job. (Get it? It kind of is my job.)
  • Broke another pair of shoes. The heel snapped right off my second favorite pair of pumps as I was walking into a meeting. So, I just picked the broken heel and kept right on walking like nothing happened. That was fun. I feel very proud because those shoes were like five years old and who even keeps shoes for that long? (answer: a girl who hates to shop for shoes) Also, I feel very sad because I loved them and now they are gone, baby, gone:

  • Saying goodbye. One-third of our Savannah Family is on the move. We're proud of them and excited for them because Brian and Ann and the girlies are on to bigger and better things, but man, oh man, are goodbyes hell on the heart. Fortunately their destination of choice is on Hugh's residency-options list, so perhaps we shall meet again very soon.
  • Wore my cutest outfits to work from home:

I totally understand if you want to copy both my hairstyle and my beautiful facial expression. We cannot all be this naturally talented at looking awkward.

  • Hugh got a new ringtone for his phone. He went with the obvious choice - MC Hammer's well-known ballad, U Can't Touch This - of course. Mine all mine, ladies. Don't be jeal.
  • Cleaning like the OCD that I am. Thursday is house-cleaning day at White Hot. I think that is another reason I always wake up in a good mood on Fridays. That, plus the whole it's-almost-the-weekend thing. Also, I'm thinking about sharing some cleaning and organizational strategies with my people (that's you guys). What do you think? Want to be as fixated as I am? (Sidenote: Last night I told Hugh to leave his shoes at the door because I had just vacuumed. He looked at me and said, "Really? I'm not that worried about it. You'll be vacuuming again in thirty minutes." Note to self: tone it down with the vacuuming.)
  • Really, I've just given up on keeping Fletcher off of the couch. I figured, if you can't beat 'em, just buy some Febreeze and go with it:

And, what we've been eating:

  • BFF Sandwiches - A perfect Saturday lunch.
  • Falafel with Tzatziki - Fast. Easy. Good for dinner, good for lunch the next day:

  • Egg Salad w/ Homemade Mayo - I think egg salad is one of those foods that a lot of people don't like. But I say, tasty, easy, and cheap? Sounds good to me. Also, my MIL used to make Hugh and I egg salad sandwiches for our drives back to Gainesville way back when we were in undergrad and had just started dating and she wasn't yet my MIL but just the Mom of my dream husband. So, probably there is some positive association there as well. And, it's a pretty little sandwich too:

  • Slow-Cooked Chipotle Chicken Tacos - Served these on flour tortillas with purple cabbage, red onion, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges. I'm a big fan of Crockpot dinners. And, of dinners that are delectable. This one was both:

With that, I'm off to do some work, go on a lunch date with my sweet friend, and decide what to Vlog about this weekend.

Hope you have a peach of a weekend, internets. Check you Monday.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig.

Did your parents say this phrase when you were little? Every time we pulled into our driveway, my Mom would exclaim in her happiest voice, "Home again, home again, jiggity jig!" I loved that.

I don't know if it was hearing that so many times as a child or if it's just my personality, but as an adult there really is nowhere I'd rather be. Which means walking through the door on Wednesday nights is the best thing that happens to me all week long. Hugh is waiting to hug me and kiss me and carry my bags, Fletcher is losing his mind with Boxer joy, and Henry even comes out from his cave of a room and waits in the kitchen to be scooped up and snuggled.

We (and by we I mean I) are practicing our gratitude a whole lot as of late. When I first started this blog, it was based off of a Harper Lee quote from an interview she did, and the gist of it was sometimes inspiration comes in a white hot flash of brilliance, and other times, it is slower and quieter and you have to wait for it and work for it and look for it.

Our life here is nothing extraordinary - two people working hard to get it right, two sweet pets to keep us entertained, and a bunch of delicious dinners to tie it all together. But when I am deep in the midst of a completely ordinary day with my little family - when Hugh is settling in from work and Henry is sprawled across Hugh's shoulders and I am chopping onions and listening to hospital stories and Fletcher is sleeping right behind my feet so I can't move without alerting him - I can look around and feel that my heart will just burst from gratitude.

A house to take care of, food in the kitchen, a garden in the yard, a healthy body that can play Frisbee with a dog and stir dinner on the stove, warm furry children that wait to hear your key in the door and curl right up beside you on the couch, and a bff husband who makes you laugh at least twice an hour? It's the everyday, slow-burn flash of inspiration, and all I can think is, this is it. This is exactly what I always wanted. Jiggity jig, indeed.

With that sugary sweetness (What can I say? Thursdays make me feel all warm and fuzzy.), I'm off to drink another cup of coffee and walk the dog child and do some work. But, if the weather clears up, I intend to get out and take some photos for a fun little Things I love Thursday, so check back later. If it's not raining.

Thanks for tolerating my over-the-top love for this little family of mine. If you were here, I'd show my appreciation by making more coffee and cooking you some perfectly poached eggs.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A BFF Sandwich

There are two stories I'd like to tell you about this sandwich.

The first is the story of how I am too easily swayed by the thought of restaurant food when I get hungry. Remember how I told you about my melt downs? Well, the meltdown is preceded by a ravenous hunger. The kind of hunger that makes you scrap your dinner plans of a little Saturday night picnic in front of a movie on your couch (i.e. the reasonable, budget-friendly, fairly healthful option) and decide that if you do not have pizza, specifically deep dish pizza, in the next half hour, you are going to melt the f down*.

This explains why I was left with a bowl of chopped garden tomatoes (worth their weight in dollar bills) in the fridge on Sunday morning. Everyone knows that the refrigerator is the death of delicious tomatoes, turning their beautiful texture mealy. I had intended to use my chopped tomatoes in a tomato salad for our Saturday night picnic before the hunger demons took hold of me, my budget, and my healthful-eating ways.

Which brings me to the next thing I wanted to tell you.

Sunday morning I was drinking my coffee and pondering my tomatoes languishing in the fridge, when I noticed two nectarines languishing in the produce basket, looking like they needed to be used yesterday. And I was hit with a flash of my beloved white hot inspiration: Nectarine Tomato Compote.

I took my lemons and turned them into lemonade. Or in this case, took my now-mealy tomatoes and turned them into a delicious topping which then led to the creation of what I like to call the BFF sandwich. Because these sandwich ingredients get along so famously, they should definitely be together forever. The creamy cheese, the salty prosciutto, the tart sweetness of the compote, the freshness of the basil, the spice of the Dijon - be still my lunch-loving heart:

The BFF Sandwich
A White Hot original
serves 2

1 baguette, sliced in halved and toasted
2oz bleu brie (or brie or a creamy blue cheese), room temperature

8 - 10 paper-thin slices prosciutto
1/2 cup Nectarine Tomato Compote (recipe below)
8 leaves fresh basil
Dijon mustard

Spread cheese on one side of baguette.

Top with prosciutto, compote, and basil.

Spread Dijon (to taste) on other side of baguette.

Slice in half and eat it up.

Nectarine Tomato Compote
A White Hot Original

makes approximately 1 cup

1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup chopped ripe nectarines (or peaches or apricots)
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 grinds black pepper (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 - 12 minutes, or until liquid begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes, or until liquid has been reduced to a syrup.

Chill. If you are in a hurry, you can put this in a shallow bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

*Let's go ahead and acknowledge that my husband is a saint. St. Hugh, Patron Saint of Awesome. And of patience with his favorite wife.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise: A Vlog and a Recipe

Hi, sweet friends. Today is the premiere of our first ever White Hot Video Blog: Homemade Mayonnaise. The vlog is something we've been toying around with (i.e. Hugh has been telling me to just do it, and I have been hemming and hawing) for awhile now, and this weekend we decided to go for it.

Hugh and I had so much fun with this and I hope you will take a few minutes to check it out:

Please note: although this video is ten minutes long, it only takes about five minutes to make this mayo. The other five minutes are me chatting away with my imaginary audience. Can you tell I work at home alone all day? I just have so much I want to share with you. I might start setting up the video camera in my office so I have someone to talk to...

The recipe is below - amended slightly after I tasted it, made adjustments (more lemon juice), and measured exactly how much oil I used. This really is such an easy way to bring some wow to your meals. Also, an easy way to clog your arteries right up if you don't practice some restraint. But I know you are fantastic at practicing restraint.

Homemade Mayonnaise
makes approximately 3/4 cup

1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 - 3/4 cup oil, 3 parts vegetable oil to 1 part extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel), whisk egg yolk and mustard until completely combined and smooth.

Slowly add oil, a drop at a time, whisking constantly. Oil should be completely combined after each addition before more oil is added. As the mixture starts to come together, you can add a bit more oil each time, but it's imperative that the oil is mixed in after each addition. This will take about 3 - 4 minutes.

Once you get the consistency you're looking for (see: Vlog), stop adding oil. Remember, it's more important that you get the right consistency than it is that you use all of your oil.

Whisk in lemon juice until completely combined. Add salt; whisk to combine.

Taste. Add more salt if necessary.

Eat it up.

I hope you enjoyed this new series. If you like it, you could probably twist my arm to do another one. And by probably twist my arm I mean I already have a page-long list of other recipes and skills I'd love to show you.

Let me know what you think and thanks so much for watching!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Weekend In Photos (and Also, Words).

Remember a couple of months ago when I used to show up here blathering on about our wonderful weekends and the amazing weather? Well, the weekends are still wonderful, but it is hotter than hell outside. I know it comes with the territory of living in the South, but 112 degrees for five days in a row? Now, that is just ridiculous.

Lucky for me, I got to ride out the heatwave with my favorite husband and my beauties. Here's what it looked like...

Happy hour at a place where everybody knows your name. And how you like your margaritas (rocks, salt, splash of orange juice):

Bottoms up, tea cup.

A Saturday morning photo shoot:

Saying goodbye:

These flip flops have been with me since my freshmen year of college (let's ignore the fact that that means 10 years). I've walked a lot of miles in these shoes. They finally bit the dust on Saturday when Hugh and I were playing chase in the yard with Fletcher - a good way to go, I suppose. Farewell, old friends.

There was, surprisingly, not that much cooking. I guess when it feels like the fiery pits every time you open your door, you feel a little loath to heat up the kitchen. I did, however, make you a delicious sandwich. I'll tell you all about it on Wednesday. She's a beaut:

Easy like Sunday morning:

I don't know if I'm ever happier than sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and reading magazines and talking about food with Hugh.

And now it's Monday. Funny how she pops up every single week. Stay tuned, I have something new and fun lined up for you tomorrow. Here's a sneak peak:

Let's have the best week ever, friends.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Hi, internet friends. TGIF, right?

Here's what the White Hot house has been up to since last we met:

  • Saw this kiddo:

I would love him even if he wasn't a complete and total camera ham, but I'm not going to lie, that makes me love being his Aunt even more. We call this one goggle face.

  • Saw his parents, too. We had a lovely and low-key weekend of lunch dates, book-reading, castle-building, and some nice long chats. Love those three, heart and soul.
  • Got a new work computer. I think a great feature of this new computer would be if I could actually use it at home. You know, where I work. Is there anything that makes you want to cry out of frustration more than IT issues? No, no there is not. Also, if you cry on the phone with an IT guy, he will be the most uncomfortable he has ever been in his entire life. Not that I did that or anything. Twice.
  • Carrying cats around like babies:

That Henry Parker just slays me.

  • Hugh continues to stay busy being awesome. How awesome? So awesome that his patients request hugs from him before he leaves their room. I totally get it; I request hugs from him, too.
  • Found a lost dog and fostered her on our porch for 24 hours. Fortunately, my "Found Dog" signs led to her owner calling. Also, her owner was a ten-year-old girl. She was so relieved we found the dog she was crying. Let's just go ahead and acknowledge that this made me cry, too. This is, conservatively, the twenty-fifth dog we have returned to its home since Hugh and I started dating. Apparently there is some type of cosmic attraction between us and runaway dogs. Also, my heart cannot handle that again for at least six months. No more finding dogs when you are running, Hugh.
  • Watching Harry Potter. Crying. Apparently there is a theme this week. Also, loved the movie.
  • The weekly house cleaning. Remember last week when I said I was so sad on Thursday? Well, when Hugh came home that night and I was recounting my terrible horrible day, I told him that I tried to vacuum, but even that didn't cheer me up. I think he was legitimately worried at that point. Fortunately, it's a new week and I was happy as a clam cleaning away yesterday afternoon.
  • Grew some stuff:
Why so beautiful, zinnias?

Moon Flower - like a Morning Glory, but of the night. Let's call it Flower of the Night. Like a prostitute, but without the STDs.

And here's what we've been eating:

  • Turkey and Muenster Sandwich on Everything Bagel Thins:

  • Greek Panzanella with Blackened Shrimp - I added capers and a few minced anchovies to the dressing. Freaking delicious.
  • Fried Fish BLTs; Coleslaw - We topped these sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, and dill pickles. A big White Hot hit.
  • Taco Twice-Baked Potatoes - Bake two potatoes. Scoop out the filling and mash it up with a few tablespoons of light sour cream. Mix in a can of rinsed black beans, a chopped tomato, two finely chopped green onions, 3 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the filling back into the potato shells. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until filling is hot and tops are golden. Eat them up:

With that, I'm off to be productive. And by that I mean: trying not to throw my computer out the window and watching the clock until the husband of my lifetime gets home. Oh, did I mention he's off all weekend? You would totally know that already if you were here at my house with me, because I've been humming and smiling to myself and walking around with pep in my step. That guy...

I hope you're hanging out with your favorite person ever this weekend. See you Monday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Here's the goss: I hate this week. I can sum it up by saying that I got back in bed yesterday afternoon and stayed there until Hugh got home. Fortunately, he came bearing wine and good cheer and the promise to cook my favorite dinner. And then he drove to the store and bought me the best dessert ever:

Eat it up.

And now it's a new day. A new day that happens to be Friday. But it's not just any Friday. Because in approximately five hours I will be having lunch with this sass:

This child is after my heart with his hamming it up for the camera.

Reese has already promised to read books with me, play with me, and share his toys. What more could a girl ask for? Of course, he might be sucking up because when his Mama originally asked him if wanted me to come visit, his first response was, "Uncle Hugh?" When she told him Uncle Hugh would be working but I could come and see him, he said, "No, that's okay." I reminded him there would be no Uncle Hugh if it weren't for Aunt Cassie. So, he's agreed to let me visit after all. I know you think I'm exaggerating when I say everyone loves Hugh best. Really, I'm not.

Seriously, I'm very excited about my weekend away. Being around this girl is just good for my heart and soul:

Now, here's what we've been eating this week:

Hugh's Magic Muscle Milk - The breakfast of champions.

Summer Tomato, Feta, and Basil Galette - Such a great use of my one billion garden tomatoes. Don't be jeal. Okay, be a little bit jeal.

Pork Ragu, served over extra-wide egg noodles - Really easy. Really delicious. Perhaps slightly better suited for days where the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees.

Taco Pizza - Inspired by this. Yum:

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Rice Casserole - I don't like rice. I don't like casserole. I'm not wild about chicken. But, somehow I liked this dish. Shall we rename it Miracle Dinner? Also, Hugh was a big fan.

Carbonara - Really, what did you think he was making when I said Hugh promised to cook my favorite dinner?

And, with that, I'm off, internets. I hope you get to spend your weekend with your oldest and dearest friend. See you Monday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Talk About Snacks, Baby.

Here's the deal: in some ways I am like a twenty-seven year old toddler. Well, in only two ways really. First, I need a lot of sleep - a solid nine to ten hours per night. And second, if you let me get too hungry, I will melt down*. Just ask Hugh. He has literally made me carry snacks with me, having been on the receiving end of my "Warning. Warning. Too much time has passed between meals. Your wife will now melt the f down," one too many times. Hence the granola bars and almonds in my purse.

Which brings me to my point. Appetizers are not just a fun part of the dining experience; for me they are a necessity. Because they are sometimes the only thing that keeps me from melting down.

Anyway, last year my love of appetizers met my love for gardening when I saw a recipe for Grilled Jalapeno Poppers in a summer issue of Cooking Light. Perfect timing, since my two newly-planted jalapeno plants had recently produced approximately eighty thousand jalapenos each in the span of two days.

Our little Savannah Family was here for the weekend** and I decided to whip up a batch of these peppers. Well, here's the thing: I hadn't actually tasted any jalapenos from these plants of mine. If I had, I would have realized that they had the approximate heat level of not a jalapeno but a habanero. Unaware of the incredibly spicy nature of my peppers, I stuffed them, grilled them, and served them to our unsuspecting guests. As fire shot from their mouths and tears streamed down their faces, I realized the error of my ways. Hell's bells.

However, I really loved the flavor of the peppers, so I persevered. And I have now conquered this appetizer. Hugh and I make these several times a month when it's hot outside. Although, really, they would be lovely any time.

First, buy your jalapenos at the grocery store. Just the way a grocery store tomato has much less flavor than a homegrown tomato (why so delicious, garden tomatoes?), a grocery store jalapeno is going to have a lot less kick. Which, if you are planning on eating five of them, isn't a bad thing.

Second, I cook these in the oven. I find a lower heat and longer cooking time mellows out the spice. So, when all is said and done, you are getting the jalapeno flavor and just enough spice to make you remember you're eating a pepper. Not enough to destroy every single taste bud in your mouth.

Stuffed Jalapenos
Adapted from Cooking Light
serves 4 - 6 as an appetizer (although Hugh and I can polish all of these off in a hot minute, just the two of us)

4oz goat cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature (I use 1/3 fat cream cheese)
1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
16 medium jalapenos, halved and seeded

WARNING: I implore you to wear gloves while seeding and stuffing these peppers. Otherwise you will want to cut your own hands off just to stop the burning.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Combine goat cheese and next 8 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a medium bowl. Mash and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Divide mixture evenly among jalapeno halves. Place stuffed peppers, cheese side up, on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until cheese is golden brown and peppers are soft.

Cool 5 minutes.

Eat them up. So you don't melt the f down.

Also, I think these would be really delicious if you plopped two of them on top of a grilled burger.

*Seriously, I am not even joking about this. I get hungry and if I don't eat in the next fifteen minutes I get a headache, then I get nauseated, and then I'm probably going to start crying. Why so ridiculous, Catherine?

**I know, based on this blog you probably think all we ever do is hang out with those people. Really, we don't see them nearly as often as we like, they are just usually present for my best stories and, lucky them, meals.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Weekend in Photos and Words.

And, I'm back. For real, this time.

So, let's back up a few days. I was ambling along on Friday, having a pretty great little day after lunch with my sweet friend and morning during which my children acted like best friends:

Forgive the terrible quality. I had to MacGyver the laptop onto the floor and take a picture with PhotoBooth before either of them got interested enough to get up. So, really you should be high-fiving me for this photo.

Then Hugh called.

To tell me he had the whole. weekend. off.

I proceeded to flip out with excitement. As much as I love some advanced notice and planning, a surprise weekend off with your favorite person is pretty darn lovely.

And, it lived up to my flipping out - two days of relaxation and productivity and fun. I'd love to tell you about it...

Friday night I had a dinner plan. It involved vegetables and grilling lean protein. But we somehow ended up with this, a dinner I'm a little bit embarrassed to even put on the internet:

Hot Dog Chili Tatertots. Delicious. Embarrassing, but delicious. If you would like to create this masterpiece, do the following: make this chili, grill and slice some hot dogs, grate some sharp cheddar, chop up onion and dill pickle, and dump in all on some tatertots. Top with mustard. Enjoy. Wake up tomorrow and run five miles.

Saturday, with nowhere to go and nothing to do (!), we lazed around, some of us more than others, and had coffee in bed:

Somehow, the second smallest person in this house takes up the most space. Spoiled.

And then we bummed around watering plants and drinking more coffee until we got our act together and went to lunch:

Who wouldn't love to spend the weekend with this face?

After a last minute decision to go to a movie:

...we spent the rest of the afternoon watching Horrible Bosses (slow start, funny movie). Then we went home and lounged around regretting (but only a little) our decision to eat popcorn and sour patch kids and a twelve liter of Diet Coke (why so huge, movie theater soda?) so soon after lunch.

Sunday was a trip to the grocery:

...bagel melts, a long walk with the world's most perfect Fletcher, and an afternoon of turning our phones off and chatting it up for a lot of hours. Oh, and some photo-taking of these soul mates:

I wasn't the only one who was happy Hugh was off. Lucky for Hugh though, I don't show my appreciation by riding around on his shoulder.

We ended the day with delicious Pork Ragu, inspired by this recipe. Whilst pretty much the opposite of seasonally appropriate, it was fantastic dinner.

And now we're back to work. To sum up my Monday thus far, I walked in the living room to find Fletcher licking Henry's flea medicine off the back of Henry's neck. Lovely. Now my cat is going to get fleas and my dog is probably poisoned.

How was your weekend, internet friends? Did you get to hang out with your bff and eat ridiculously good food?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It Was Lovely. And Then It Was Over.

Well, I started to title this post "Back in a Flash." But then blogger indicated I had already written that post. Moral of the story: I am a slacker. Hell's bells.

Here to say, my time off with Hugh was so lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed his relaxed, vacation-mode company. And, like time always seems to do when you are loving every second of it, it went by in a few quick blinks.

So now Hugh is officially a third year, which means we are halfway through this med school business. He starts rotations today and I am off to the SAV (hence the fact that I'm blogging at 5:30am).

I really will be back on Thursday (I have so. much. good. food. to share). In the interim, a photo of my favorite funny face:

Yesterday, along with a blaring hangover, we celebrated our second Fletchiversary!

And a blurry picture of my one and only:

Hugh loves me. And we love America.

See you soon, internets.