Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Best Damn Jambalya

Boy does my beau know how to make some Jambalya. I've never been a huge fan of this dish because I don't like spicy food; therefore, I would never even dare to order this in a restaurant. He made a batch one Sunday afternoon and while it burned my mouth from the spice, the dish wasn't too bad. I asked him to make it next time with less - or no - cayenne pepper. When he did this (as well as buying a mild andouille sausage) it was out of this world! What a fantastic recipe. Please branch out of your comfort zone and try this. We put a pinch of cayenne in it so that it isn't spicy, but you still get that pepper flavor. Everything else is done as is and IT IS AWESOME! Enjoy :)

Recipe courtesy Better Homes and Gardens

- 1 lb shrimp (uncooked, peeled and deveined)
- 2 TBS cooking oil (veggie, olive oil, etc)
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- ¼ cup chopped celery (1 stalk)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 - 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
- 8 oz Andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into ½ inch slices
- ¾ cup uncooked long rice (recommend white, not brown rice)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper - SPICY (see note above)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup cooked cubed ham

Thaw and rinse shrimp, set aside. In a12-inch skillet, add oil and cook onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic over high-medium heat until tender. Stir in broth, undrained tomatoes, sausage, rice, thyme, basil, cayenne pepper,  ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and bay leaf.

Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Stir in shrimp. Return to a boil. Simmer, covered, about 5 minutes more or until shrimp turns opaque and rice is tender. Stir in ham and heat through. Discard bay leaf.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The End of an Era describes an era as a period of time marked by a distinctive character or event; the period of time to which anything belongs or is to be assigned; a system of chronologic notation reckoned from a given date; a point of time from which succeeding years are numbered (such as at the beginning of a system of chronology); or a date or an event forming the beginning of any distinctive period.

I often associate eras with the last definition; an event forming the beginning of a distinctive period. The year 2005 marked the beginning of an important era in my life; and an era that ended on January 31, 2012. That era was becoming a homeowner and boy did I have an independent streak running through me during this time in my life. I was at a point in my life – and irritated with a relationship – that I decided I didn’t need a man to buy a house, nor a ring on my finger, or anyone! I could buy my own house and create my own home. This was true independence, a scary independence, but I went forth and did what I wanted to, didn’t care what the results would be and what people would say.

Although I still remember (and will never forget) the comment, “What do you mean you’re buying a home, you do that when you’re married and with a husband.” There is almost no comment worse than that, which will push a stubborn woman even closer to independence.

In 2005, home prices were soaring and I truly felt that it was the time for me to buy a home. I didn’t know what my future held for me, but I knew that I could afford it, I would enjoy it, and I would show that guy (whom I was awaiting a marriage proposal from) that I wouldn’t be sitting around forever.

I was so excited when I received the phone call on July 15, 2005 that my offer for a lovely one bedroom condo in Alexandria, VA was accepted. Oh my gosh, it had a washer and dryer in unit, a dishwasher AND a parking space that I didn’t have to pay extra for; I could finally stop hauling laundry all over the place! In a big city, these things are a major plus! I closed on the condo in August and had a painting party with several girlfriends to paint my living room, kitchen, and bedroom that very night. It was mine, ALL mine.

As the years went by, I enjoyed two years of living in the condo and I finally rented out the condo in 2008. My first tenant was my very good friend Mary, next was a guy who I would strangle today if I saw him, and finally to great tenants and now friends, Sara and Dave. When my last tenants left in June of 2011, the rental market had shifted in the D.C. area and I could not find a renter anywhere near what I needed to afford the condo. And boy was I underwater due to a couple of recessions!

Ultimately after several days of thinking, praying, and several discussions with various people, I decided it would be best to put my condo on the market, knowing it would be a short sale. I was so underwater that it would be decades before I could break even or make any profit at all. I decided that I needed to cut my losses and sell. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. I pride myself on paying bills on time, keeping low or no debt and having a fantastic credit score. I knew all of that would sway to deal with selling the condo.

After four contracts, many discussions with my real estate team, lawyers, and the mortgage companies, my condo finally closed on January 31, 2012. It isn’t until now, at this moment, that I am shedding a tear over this condo, which is a shock to me. It has been the biggest pain in my butt for a few years, but after sitting and thinking about not just the condo, but everything that has happened in life since the beginning of that era, it is hard not to shed a few tears over the end of an era that brought many laughs, tears, drunken nights, and a great learning experience and education about life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Celebrating 34 Years

I had a great 34th birthday celebration on January 18th. For some reason, my youngest sister thinks that my birthday is January 25th, so I feel like I get to celebrate twice. Very humorous.

I enjoyed a fun night out with friends before my birthday to celebrate, have fun, and allow everyone to unwind from their busy lives for an evening. Sometimes I think we just need to let loose, enjoy a couple of cocktails, and have fun.

On my birthday, Pete picked me up and surprised me with a romantic dinner at Hinterland in Green Bay. The food, atmosphere, and evening were perfect!

Fun night out in Green Bay

Erica and me and Fox Harbor

Romantic dinner at Hinterland - awwww!

Chicken Soup for the Sick

Wow! I just realized it has been awhile since I posted anything on the blog. Work and life has been busy - and once again sick!

Pete and I caught colds from his two little girls a couple of weeks ago and it has been a battle to get better. My immune system is taking a VERY long time to fully recover from the whooping cough that I got back in August. I was fully recovered from whooping cough and a couple of rounds of bronchitis by the end of December. It seems that when I catch a small cold, it turns into so much more because my lungs are weak from the whooping cough. I'm just ready for spring and people all around me to be healthy :)

What is the one thing we all want when we're sick? Chicken Soup!

Lindsay's Quick Chicken Noodle Soup
- 1 TBS Olive Oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups broth and 2 cups water)
- About 2 cups diced leftover chicken
- Handful or two of egg noodles

Heat olive oil in pan. Saute onion, carrot and celery until soft. Stir in garlic and saute another minute or two. Pour in the stock and chicken. Bring to a boil. Turn back down to medium for 10 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook until soft. Season to taste - remember that stock has a lot of salt! Enjoy!