Blog Sabbatical

Turns out I am over-committed. Sigh.

Rather than live in this state of feeling overwhelmed and slightly guilty about not keeping up with all of my five million hobbies and interests, I've decided to cut back. I will post when I feel like it, keep up with all your blogs when I can, and of course, I'll still be making bentos, working in my garden, and cooking random stuff! I'm just going to release myself from the pressure of documenting all of it for the time being.

If I can ask a small favor of you, say a little prayer for me that God will give me some guidance. With the job hunt and this growing desire for an adventure, I have many many possibilities ahead of me. If I do anything rash (which I sincerely hope I do!) I'll be sure to let you know.

Take care!

"Are You Over-Committed Again?"

Dear blogging friends, despite popular belief, I did not freeze to death on that last backpacking trip. Nor did I fall into an open manhole, get eaten by the mess in my room or sink into a Downton Abbey-induced coma. I simply got busy. (In the literal sense, not the colloquial... anyway...)

In the last two months, I've started job hunting. I've decided it is not the time to be safe but rather the time to kick myself out of the nest of my current position and pursue my real interests. On top of that, I've started moonlighting an internship with a tech marketing firm in the hopes of learning more about marketing strategy and growing my writing portfolio. All very time consuming!

Last month I also started fencing again (I was on the club team in college). Yes, that's right, +2 nerd factor! On top of that, I dance twice a week, Bible study on Wednesdays, Friday is Friday and the weekends are yard work, house work, adventure trips and family. Hence a good friend asking me last night, "Are you over-committed again?".

Do any of you have this same tendency? There are just so many things that I love doing and not nearly enough hours in the day or days in the week for me to fit them all in! And I miss blogging. I want to come back here and read all your great stuff, comment like a fiend and get up from my computer inspired. Trouble is inspired often leads to more stuff. How do you keep yourself from over-committing? What are the tools you use to keep it all straight?

Are You Over-Committing Again? - ROR

Spicy Spinach & Sausage Pasta

I saw this recipe on Budget Bytes (which is a favorite) who saw it on Kevin & Amanda (which I can't wait to explore) who got it from The Best Simple Recipes. Phew. I think that covers my earnest desire to give credit where credit is due. The creators of this recipe deserve all the homage I can muster because it's a win all around! Dirties one dish, cooks in 30 minutes, has kick and includes cheese. Mountain Man is an appreciative audience for my cooking endeavors but this was the first dish in a few months that made his eyes light up. Hence forth and thusly, we will be making this again very soon! Enjoy!

Spicy Spinach & Sausage Pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1 medium diced onion
3 cups of fresh spinach
2 cups chicken broth
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz bowtie pasta
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
green onions
salt and pepper

Tip: Choose a skillet that will comfortable hold the entire dish, but preferably not too wide and shallow. You need to be able to submerge the pasta in 2 cups of broth!

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add sliced up sausage. Cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add onions and saute until softened, about another 5 minutes, then add the can of tomatoes and green chilies, chicken broth and cream.

2. Add the pasta, making sure it is completely submerged in the liquids, and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat and cover the skillet. Simmer until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to unstick the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the fresh spinach one cup at a time, giving it time to wilt before adding the next bunch, about 3 minutes. If you aren't accustomed wilting spinach into pasta, don't worry, it will all fit just fine!

4. Stir in the cheese until melted (I liked a good layer on top as well) and salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped green onions. Serve hot and dazzle your dinner guests.

Makes 4 servings.

Mini Frittata

It's funny how I can get behind on blogging because I've taken too many cool pictures lately and I didn't know where to start! Well, that and a series of family birthdays and more skiing. It does tend to take up some time.

My return post of awesomeness today is about mini frittatas. These are perfect for the plan ahead types, small portion types, I like tiny cute food types, I love eggs types, I have a pulse types... have I covered everybody yet? A frittata is an Italian omelet made to be eaten room temperature, though I also enjoy them hot. The great thing about a frittata is that it can be made with whatever ingredients you have on hand. I've been known to dump in a leftover arugula salad, lonely cold cut shreds and party veggie tray remains.

My introduction to frittatas came from the movie "Morning Glory". I love me some grizzly old Harrison Ford, but put an apron on him and I'm a goner. How could I not want to experiment with frittatas after this?

Mini Frittatas
(makes 4)

3 large eggs
1/4 cup half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
seasoning of choice (I love sage or parsley)
mix-in items (here I used shredded cheese, spinach, chopped up ham cold cuts and green onion)

Break eggs into a mixing bowl with the half-and-half and seasonings. Beat well until frothy. 

Pour the mixture into 4 sprayed muffin tin cups or silicone baking cups, then add your mix-ins. Keep in mind they will rise as they bake, but mine have also fallen afterwards so don't be afraid to fill them up. I'm VERY OPEN to ideas about keeping them from falling, ps! It may not be possible in the silicone cups since, according to Harrison, the key is a hot pan. I also tried a few of mine with the ham slice shell. It was pretty good, but I could go either way on these.

Bake at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes and prepare to be impressed and suddenly very hungry.

Are you drooling yet?

From here you have options. You can either serve immediately and enjoy the fluffy warmth, or you can let cool and serve later (frittatas were intended for room temperature, after all). You can even let them cool and freeze them! It's true, I tried it. The chopped spinach in that batch dyed the whole thing a little green as it froze, but really, that only added interest, right?

If you're needing a new healthy breakfast running out the door for work, or perhaps your kids need a change from cereal, TRY THESE! You'll wonder why you never did this before, I promise.

Ski Trip Bento

I caught on a few weeks ago that Mountain Man has been silently wishing I would make him a bento for lunch. Since we both leave for work very early and I'm not enough of a morning person to make a second lunch, drive it the mile over to his house AND make it to work on time, I've been trying to come up with a clever alternative. My perfect opportunity was our ski trip last weekend.

The ski trip bento had to be 1) substantial and energy packed 2) sit light on your stomach and 3) be sufficiently impressive to satisfy the honor of being his first. I would have loved to have included some broccoli florets to round out my colors, but unfortunately, Mountain Man doesn't care for that particular green and it was all I had in the fridge. Shame. Therefore, these were the result. The first bento is the main meal while the second was meant for a snack on our way off the slopes at the end of the day.

Bento #1
  • Top Tier
    • Onigiri with simple canned tuna/salt/pepper filling and a sassy little skiing dude
    • Ham rolls - spread with cream cheese and basil
    • Kumquats
  • Bottom Tier
    • Norimaki chicken (see my recipe here)
    • More onigiri and kumquats
    • White sauce for dipping
A note about the onigiri - I'm not going to pretend I'm even proficient at making these and offer you a custom tutorial. There are many good resources out there to explain how these are made and filled, but my favorite is Maki at Just Bento. Go straight to the expert, people.

Bento #2
  • Top Tier
    • Pretzels
    • Kumquats
  • Bottom Tier
    • Strawberries
    • Hummus/olive oil/paprika
I know I'm just bursting with kumquats here, but as someone who doesn't like cherry tomatoes these are a great little space filler. Plus, Mountain Man really likes them and I had to throw him a bone since he doesn't care for strawberries and hummus isn't his favorite either. However, he was the envy of the lodge when he pulled this out for lunch! I was there, I saw that snow boarder's face.

What are your favorite skiing foods and how would you pack them into a bento? While you're pondering that and preparing to leave me comments, enjoy this picture of how to breath on a ski slope with a hacking cough. Or avoid the paparazzi.