Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Friends! 

Here we are…closing out day 2 of 2013.  Our resolutions have been set and we are back to work…back to “real” life after the holidays.  On FB yesterday, I think my husband said it best, “I’m sort of diggin’ 2013 so far… did some much needed deep cleaning in the living room… had some good daytime fun with Bella… got the Babymoon booked… and am sitting here “stuffed” after a king crab legs dinner (compliments of Robin). Hopefully, this is only the beginning to my best year yet!”  As I read his update, I thought, “Isn’t that what life is all about?  Enjoying a balanced mix of all the big AND little things…like the sense of accomplishment after chores (and the freshness of a deep clean), the simplicity of playing with a child, the excitement of travel, the anticipation of new life, and the occasional indulges…like King Crab for dinner at home.”  I knew I married a smart one…but with each year that passes, I appreciate more and more the depth and heart that goes along with those brains!

As I think about my own resolutions for 2013…or “to-dos” as I like to call them, I realize it has been another 2 months since my last post on Indulge.  This year, instead of resolving again to resume consistent posts, I’m vowing to accept that I can’t.  In fact, I’m ready to accept that I can’t do it all…period.  This isn’t easy for me…but I’m ready to try!  The cooking won’t stop….nor will the entertaining…or the photography…or the blogging…I will just stop beating myself up when I don’t get to “it” as often as I’d like…or quite honestly, as “perfectly” as I’d like.  Between working full-time ( traveling several times a month), striving to be a fully engaged parent, and always remembering that marriage requires time/effort as well, the hours somehow run short.  It’s best I accept this now!  🙂

Whatever your resolutions entail, may you find the perseverance to follow through.  Enjoy the little things…as much as you do the big things.  Live in the moment instead of always looking to the next.  Remember that with each challenge comes an opportunity.  And with each new day…the chance to create another delicious dinner! 

So the next time you are looking for a fabulous recipe…perhaps for your next date-night at home, give this one a try.   We made this recipe for the first time a few months ago and as with any new recipe, I create a list of notes (adaptations, additions, substitutions, etc).  When I came down to the kitchen the next morning, I found my notes had been scribbled all over.  Ryan wrote, “VERY VERY GOOD.  YUM YUM YUM!”  So, as you can imagine, we’ve whipped it up several times since.  🙂

CHICKEN PARMESAN

Adapted from recipes by Giada de Laurentiis and Bon Appetit

Basic Tomato Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated peeled carrots
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes in juice, crush by hand
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Salt and Pepper
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes.  Add carrots and thyme; sauté until carrots are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes with juice.  Add red wine.  Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until sauce thickens and is reduced to generous 5 cups, about 1 hour.  Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.  DO AHEAD Sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly.  Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm sauce before using.

Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons ol
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-6 small chicken breasts
  • Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe above
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Fresh Basil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with the oil and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a heavy large oven-proof skillet over high heat.  Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

Spoon the tomato over and around the chicken.  Sprinkle mozzarella over each breast.  Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the chicken.  Bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

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Plate and top with fresh basil.  Serve with a glass of Sangiovese and enjoy! 

(And forgive this photo.  Shooting food in the winter…in a dark kitchen/dining room, isn’t one of my strengths.  If only I could find more time to focus on learning those photography skills!  LOL)

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

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Betty Crocker & Saturday Night Live

Oct 5th?!  Was that really my last blog post?  Oh my gosh time has flown.  Since that last post (written in Minneapolis), I visited Chicago, Minneapolis (again), Dallas, and Omaha.  I was on the go…to say the least!

Somehow, in the midst of all this craziness, I also managed to pull off a Halloween Party.  More than 20 friends filled our home dressed as their favorite Saturday Night Live character.  Admittedly, I have never been much for costumes or candy…but this year I thought it was time we tried something new!   While Ryan and I dressed as Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga in their Liquorville Skit, Mary Katherine Gallagher, Turd Ferguson, Church Lady, and many more made their appearance.  What a fun night!

 

Bring it on down to Liquorville! (http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/81536704/)

In addition to hours of SNL replays and lots of laughs, there was plenty of food and drink!  If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times.  I spend so much time putting together a menu and preparing all of the food (and display)…that somehow, I never get around to planning any “activites”.  I hope everyone had enough fun….next time I will add a little more…perhaps ask that everyone ACT OUT their skit.  YEA!  🙂

Of all of the food I prepped, there were two clear hits.  Both of these recipes came to me from one of my dearest friends, Jenny (Tews) McCauley!  Yes. Jen made these Betty Crocker Tenderloin Canapes for my bridal shower more than 8 years ago (recipe below).  Last Christmas, she also whipped up a batch of Baked Ham and Cheese Party Sandwichs…HEAVEN!  That recipe will come soon as well. 

So, if you are beginning your holiday party planning, be sure to add these canapes to your menu.  They are simple and delicious!

Beef Tenderloin Canapés with Mustard-Caper Sauce

Recipe Courtesy of BETTY CROCKER

Beef
  • 1 (2 to 2 1/2-lb.) beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Sauce and Bread
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 5 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon purchased creamy horseradish sauce
  • 36 slices baguette-style or small French bread
  • Radicchio and/or watercress leaves
  • Shaved Parmesan optional (not included in original recipe)

Heat oven to 450°F. Place beef tenderloin in ungreased shallow metal roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Rub beef with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pan over medium-high heat; cook until beef is browned on all sides.

Place beef in 450°F. oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 375°F.; bake 30 to 35 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center registers 140°F.

Remove beef from oven. Cool 30 minutes or until completely cooled. If desired, wrap tightly; refrigerate until serving time.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine mayonnaise, onions, capers, mustard and horseradish sauce; mix well. Cover; refrigerate until serving time.

Slice beef very thin. Spread bread slices with sauce. Top each with small piece of radicchio, beef slice and watercress. Serve immediately, or cover loosely and refrigerate until serving time.

 

Delicious Finger Food!  Elegant and hearty at the same time.  Your guests will love it!

Indulge.  In Life. In Love.  In Food.

BASTA Pizzeria Ristorante

Good Morning, Minneapolis! 

That’s right.  I’m here in Minneapolis, MN…a city I lived in for 4 years.  With the Orthopedic Trauma Association meeting in town, I traveled North for a few days.  What could be better?  Work travel intertwined with a visit “home”. 

I wish I could find the words to describe the feeling I have each and every time I drive into the city…as I come in on 35W North…just as I begin to see the city’s skyline on the horizon…I am overcome with a sense of excitement, nostalgia, belonging.  Though the city is so large…the population far beyond the small WI city I grew up in…I suddenly feel surrounded by friends.  It’s as if while pulling in, the faces of each of our  “MN friends/family” flutter through my mind and all of my favorite places whisper, “Visit me!”.   I don’t know what else to say other than, “I love it here.”

During my brief window of downtime yesterday, I decided to take a drive down memory lane.  I’ve visited many times since leaving in 2003, but rarely made a trip back to campus.  As I discussed with one of my surgeons last night (who is also a U of M alum), it felt as if time had stood still.  Campus was just as I remembered it.  Pulling into Frontier Hall looked no different than it had 13 years ago.  And driving through was as if I was on autopilot.  Of course, there were a few major changes, like the addition of TCF Stadium and the Lightrail (currently under construction), but all in all, I thought if I pulled over and threw on my Gopher sweatshirt, I could walk back into W303 and find my roommates there, ready to make dinner and sing a little Tim Mahoney.  Oh…how time flies.

In the 9 years since I moved to Iowa City, I’ve held onto the hope that someday we’d get back to MN…I even kept my phone number!  🙂  While only time will tell our “final destination”, we continue to build our home in Iowa City and indulge in visits here.  In fact, I’m coming back very soon for a Girls Weekend.  A weekend full of friends and visits to all of those “favorite spots” that call my name.  I will be sure to share those favorite spots (many of them food related!), with you in future posts.

In the meantime, today I must share with you one of my favorites in Iowa City.  BASTA.  I love this restaurant.  BASTA is one of Iowa City’s newest Italian Restaurants, owned by James Adrian, Jack Piper, and Brady McDonald.   Several times now, Ryan and I have packed up Bella and her stroller and headed downtown for a stroll through the pedestrian mall and a lunch date at BASTA.  We like to pretend that we are in Italy…so we order a few courses…a good glass of wine…and sit for awhile!  Our order looks something like this…

First things first….this delicious appetizer:  Stuffed Dates!

 

Stuffed Dates:  Pancetta wrapped, house-made Italian sausage stuffed dates, Gorgonzola and Calabrian chile tomato sauce

Next…to share, a true Napoli style wood-fired pizza:  Pepperoni & Mushroom

Pepperoni : Calabrese salami, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, basil   (We add Shitake Mushroom)

To pair…a vibrant glass of red:  

 

Vinchio Vaglio Serra “Kroara” Barbera:  This Barbera from the broader Piemonte region is perfect.   Attractive and bright ruby red, with a fresh and fruity nose.  Lots of fruit up front, with a lively palate and a fresh, clean finish.

Looks good, right?!  If you haven’t been to BASTA, be sure to add it to your list of “Must Visits”.  Should you find a beautiful Saturday/Sunday afternoon, you may find us there as well.  Pull up a chair.  🙂

BASTA Pizzeria Ristorante

121 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, IA 52240

319-337-2010

Open Monday – Sunday
11:00 a.m – 10:00 p.m. 

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Game Day Nachos!

Good Morning Packer Fans!

Ok…good morning to ALL fans!  Today is a big day for fans of the NFL.  We finally have our Refs back.  I’ve been on “Game watching strike” since last Monday night, when the now infamous game-winning call for the Seahawks shocked the world.  Even though I awoke from sleep just in time to catch the end of the game (yes, I threw in the towel after a miserable first half), I was sickened by the call.  I think “Some Ecards” said it best, “New NFL Rule.  You can catch the ball by catching the guy who caught the ball.”   Seriously.  What else needs to be said? 

The Replacement Refs and their poor play calling made for an interesting week.  For those of you who aren’t much for football, no doubt were you annoyed by those of us who love the game.  For those of you who are wrapped up in “Election Season”, these poor calls was used to take jabs at Democrats or Republicans…which ever way it worked out best for you.  And for those of us who were all fired up by the calls (and Packer loss), we found ourselves debating the calls over and over and over again….sometimes preaching to the choir and other times, jumping into a nearby conversation to argue with a stranger.  Yes.  Yes, I did that.  I’m sorry.  I just couldn’t resist.  There I was, minding my own business (ok fine, so I was eavesdropping), working on my computer at the hospital.  As I was typing away, I overheard a gentleman near by explaining to a group of ppl just exactly why he thought the call was fair.  He went on and on about who had control of the ball and who didn’t.  Who had possession and who didn’t.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  So, I got up…said, “Excuse me, Sir.  Jennings HAD.THE.BALL. AGAINST.HIS.CHEST.” (And I demonstrated it for him just in case he forgot.)  I know, right?!  I’m sure he got a good laugh out of it.  At least it made me feel better.  🙂

All of that said, the Refs are back and the games are about to begin!  Fortunately for me, I can watch the game.  The question now becomes, what to EAT during the game?!  If you are like many fans, you probably have a game day menu thought out early in the week but every once in a while, Sunday sneaks up on you and there is nothing planned.  And when THAT happens, we make our “Go To Game Day Nachos!”  We usually have most ingredients on hand and they whip up in no time!  Because you can make a huge platter to share, or a small personal serving, I will list the ingredients, and you can decide the proportions. 

Game Day Nachos!

Servings Vary

  • Tortilla Chips (I prefer restaurant style as they are large and easy to stack)
  • Co-Jack Cheese, freshly grated
  • Red Onion, diced
  • Green Pepper, diced
  • Jalapeno, diced
  • Tomato, diced (I like to use grape tomatoes, quartered)
  • Ground Beef (90%)
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Start by browning the hamburger with the taco seasoning (as directed on the seasoning pkt).  When browned, remove from heat and drain excess oil.

While the meat is browning, line a cookie sheet with tin foil and layer your tortilla chips.  Layer chips with beef, onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and cheese.  Bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Remove from oven and top with tomato.

Serve with a side of sour cream and some salsa.  Enjoy with a chilled glass of your favorite brew!  And, Indulge!

GO PACK GO!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Walleye in the Wilderness

Do you ever have one of those days when you just want to run away?  While today is not one of them (for me anyway), there are certainly some when I’d like to get outta dodge!  And usually, when these days hit, I am wishing I could escape to the North Shore.  For those of you who have been reading my blog for years, you know I’ve spoken about it before.  Grand Superior Lodge…in Two Harbors, MN…on the North Shore of Lake Superior…is one of my most favorite places on earth.

It all started at work one afternoon in 2001(ish).   As I tossed around the idea of “running away” with Ryan for the weekend, my friend and co-worker at the time, Delaney, suggested that we try GSL.  Because I listen to nearly all of her recommendations (LOL), I was sold.  It’s incredible to me that since our first visit all those years ago, we’ve visited close to 10 times…and in fact, were married on the North Shore and held our reception at GSL.  Who would’ve guessed that one little visit would result in so many more!?  🙂

There is something so tranquil about the water, the trees, and the “slow life”.  There is no “hussle n bussle”…there is no noise…other than the waves crashing in on shore.  The evenings are cool…perfect for a cozy sweatshirt and a campfire while the days are comfortable…for hiking Gooseberry Falls, playing scrabble on the rocky shore line, or sight-seeing at Split Rock Lighthouse and all the stops along the way.  If you’ve never been…add it to your bucket list.  You won’t be disappointed.

Over Labor Day Weekend, we made our first visit to GSL since 2010.  It felt like forever!  In 2010, we’d visited in May (and ran Grandma’s Half Marathon) and then again that August to celebrate our 5yr wedding anniversary.  2011 was a blur with Bella’s arrival…so we were sure to get there this year to celebrate 7 yrs.  Also amazing, as I walked into the lobby of the Main Lodge, one of the gals (who was been there forever) said, “You were one of our brides!”  Well yes.  Yes, in fact I was.  Actually…it may not be a good thing that she remembered me!  Those of you involved in the wedding know why. 😉  Anyway, during the course of our stay this year, there were 2 weddings.  I couldn’t help but wonder where the time had gone since we exchanged our nuptuals.  I feel fortunate to have been able to revisit so many times since.  Speaking of visits (Ryan), when are we going back?! 

In true “Robin-Ryan” fashion, we cooked nearly every meal in the tiny kitchen of our little log cabin.  From homemade pizza to a new pasta, to good ol’ Walleye Sandwiches, we ate well!   Today…I thought I’d share the Walleye Sandwich recipe…because if you ask me, you CANNOT go “Up North” and NOT have walleye…or at least fish of some kind.  This sandwich is super easy to make…and absolutely delicious.  Whether you are planning your “Friday Fish” (Wisconsin style) or just looking to try something other than chicken or turkey or pork, you should give this a whirl. 

NORTH SHORE WALLEYE SANDWICH

(adapted from recipe in Midwest Living)

Serves: 4-6

  • 24 -36 ounces fresh or frozen skinless, boneless walleye
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
  • 4 large lemons, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Crusty rolls, split
  • Romaine
  • Tomato slices
  • Tartar Sauce  (buy your favorite tartar or whip up your own!
  1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of fish with salt and black pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine lemon peel, lemon juice, oil, dill, garlic and hot pepper sauce.
  3. For a charcoal grill: Arrange a bed of lemon slices on greased grill rack directly over medium coals. Arrange fish on lemon slices. Brush with the lemon-oil mixture. Cover and grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (do not turn fish). (For a gas grill: Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Arrange lemon slices and fish on greased grill rack over heat (line grill rack with foil if grids are too wide). Brush with marinade. Cover and grill as above.) Place bread or buns, cut side down, next to fish the last 2 minutes of grilling or until toasted, turning bread slices once.
  4. To serve, build your sandwich!  Start by brushing the top and bottom of the rolls/buns with a thin layer of tarter. Lay romaine down first.  Then, using a large spatula, transfer fish pieces to roll/bun bottoms and top with tomato slices. Drizzle with Tartar Sauce and cover with remaining roll/bun tops. Discard lemon slices. Makes 4-6 sandwiches.

Serve with a cold beer and your favorite side.  For a lighter treat, remove the top bun and cut into smaller servings.  Serve open-faced.  Either way, you will love the flavors of a light flakey fish…dill…lemon…and tarter!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Turkey Ciabatta Sliders

Rise & Shine Sioux Falls!

Yes, you read that right.  Sioux Falls.  Oh…what?  I forgot to mention that in my post on Sunday!?  Yes, I am also helping to cover a vacant territory….South Dakota.  Call me crazy!

Crazy or not, I’m thinking you will love these Turkey Ciabatta Sliders that I created back in April.  One spring weekend, we were lucky enough to have some of Ryan’s family down to visit.  While the boys (Ryan, Troy, & Dad) worked diligently in the garage building a beautiful picnic table for our backyard (yes, perfectly matching a photo I’d sent to Dad!), the girls and I hung in the house…chatting, laughing…and cooking!  It was one of those beautiful days…watching the brothers with their dad, creating something.  And just as special, was that time with Mom…talking through tough times, laughing about others, and learning details about the past.  Oh how I love stories about Grandma and Grandpa…and all the Aunts and Uncles.  We have so much to learn from those before us.  And sometimes I think…they have something to learn from us as well.  A new prespective…either way you look at it.  🙂

During all of the chit-chat, I was sure to whip up lunch.  I don’t remember just exactly where this craving initiated…but I’m thinking Palmer’s Deli in Des Moines.  Yes.  That’s it.  I ordered a spinach salad (aren’t I good?!  LOL) while the 3 partners I was with ordered hearty sandwiches.  As I watched them devour their carba-licious sandwiches, I vaguely remember one sandwich silently challenging me to beat it at home.  (Yes.  Occasionally food talks to me.  Weird.  I know)  Well….Game on, sammy. 

TURKEY CIABATTA SLIDERS

Makes 8-10 sliders

  • 8-10 Ciabatta Rolls
  • 1.5 lb Shaved Turkey (I prefer smoked)
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, sliced
  • 10 Slices of Bacon, cooked as directed
  • Ranch Dressing (make sure it is a good one!  I’m a picky “Rancher”)

When making these sandwiches, I always start by baking the ciabatta.  Remove from the oven as directed and let cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Once the ingredients are prepped, cut the rolls in half, brush the top and bottom buns with ranch and begin building your sandwiches!  Turkey, cheddar, tomato, avocado, bacon! 

For “his” larger appetite, 2-3 small sammies should do the trick.  For “her”, one is just the perfect size!  Not too much…not too little.  Serve with a side of your choosing and indulge! 

And…whenever you get the chance, share a sandwich and an afternoon with your family members.  Actively engage in a project or simply sit and listen.  We all have so much to learn from each other…young or old(er)! 

Enjoy your day…in Sioux Falls…or whereever you are today.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Sabbaticals & Spicy Chicken BLTs

GOOD MORNING FOODIE WORLD!

Hello!  I’m here!  Can you believe it!?  I can’t.  🙂

April 2nd…the date of my last post.  Where does the time go?  I can officially say, for the first time in my life, I have taken (and completed) a sabbatical.  Unfortunately, that sabbatical was from Indulge.  Nearly 5 months away…wow.  For those of you who wait for my recipes or look forward to the posts, I am so sorry!  I’ve been working hard to balance my “new” normal and think that I finally have it under control.  (I can hope, right?!)  Let me explain…

Most of you know, that in my “real” life, I am not a trained chef.  I am not a professional blogger.  I am not a hired food critic.  I am a  medical Sales Consultant….and most days, I love my job!   At Medtronic, our fiscal year begins in May and ends in April.  So, as you can imagine, year end is busier than normal…wrapping up loose ends and pushing to help the company fulfill its promises.  This year was no different.  Then, without notice, a phone call came in the first week of May.  I was informed that several of my peers had been laid-off, and that while I was retained, my territory was expanding.  In addition to the state of Iowa, I was now responsible for all of Nebraska as well.  What?!  I was shocked.  I was frustrated.  I was overwhelmed.  Admittedly, I spent the first 2-3 days crying (I can be a real emotional basketcase at times.  True.).  While I was so grateful to still be employed, I couldn’t help but ask myself some tough questions.  How was I going to do my job EFFECTIVELY?  How was I going to assist each of my partners, EQUALLY?   How was I going to serve my surgeons CONSISTENTLY?  And most importantly, HOW WAS I GOING TO LEAVE BELLA…for several nights at a time? 

In the time that has passed since early May, I’ve navigated a successful & comfortable pace.  While I initially planned for a monthly trip to NE, I am now there every other week…but my trips are shorter in duration (this actually makes for more time away but breaks up my absense).  I’ve communicated clearly to my teammates the change in my role and compromised on what I can do best and what needs to be handled on their end.  And for my families sake, I make the most of my time at home!  Whether that be a Friday night picnic in the park, a weekly Wednesday Mom & Bella night, or our evening meals…prepping, cooking, and eating together, I am sure to soak it all up.

And now…I can get back to Indulge as well.  In my hotel rooms…or during nap time…or a quick post before bed…we can talk food!  Several of my partners, as well as my husband, have asked, “Do you miss blogging?”  Ummm…YES!  So here I am.  I hope you enjoy the recipes & photos I have stocked up over the last several months.

As you plan your grocery shopping this week, be sure to pick up the ingredients for these Spicy Chicken BLT Pitas!  One weekend craving led me to creating this delicious recipe.  We’ve made it over and over again.  I’m betting you will too!  🙂

SPICY CHICKEN BLT PITAS

Serves 4

  • 1 pkg Whole Wheat Pre-Cut Pitas
  • 1.5 cups Light Mayo
  • 3 Tbsp Adobo Sauce (can of peppers in adobo sauce – use sauce only)
  • 1 Large Chicken Breast
  • 1 Avocado, diced
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Head of Iceberg Lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 10 Slices of Bacon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra Light Olive Oil

Preheat the grill to 400 degrees. 

While the grill is heating, fry the bacon in a large pan until desired crispiness.  Drain grease.  Set aside.  Chop once cooled.

Once the grill is preheated, brush the chicken with Extra Light Olive Oil and season with Salt and Pepper.  You may also brush the grill grates with Extra Light Olive Oil to avoid sticking.  Place the chicken on the grill and cook for ~6-7 minutes per side or until cooked through.   Remove chicken from the grill and cover with tin foil. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, combine mayo, adobo, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and bacon.

Unwrap chicken and chop.  Add to mayo mixture.  Stir well.

Finally, fill your pitas!  Add a side of fruit, fresh veggies, chips…or on an indulgent day…crinkle fries!

Share one for lunch….or enjoy a whole one for dinner.  Watch our for that adobo…you are sure to feel the kick of heat! 

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Food Share: Pancetta Mac N Cheese

Good Morning!   Really?!  Monday already??

What a busy weekend it was…..working in the yard.  After 2 full days of splitting a gazillion daylillies, yanking out juniper, weeding, hedging and just generally kicking butt, I’m exhausted!   While I prepped dinner last night, I could hardly keep my eyes open.  I kept telling myself, “Robin, this is one of your favorite meals.  (Pasta Pomodoro) You’ve earned it!”  And…”Just wait…we’ll run to Dairy Queen for dessert!”  Unfortunately, I was ultimately too tired to care.  So…I wolfed down my s’ghetti and…went.to.bed.  Yes.  Bella was in bed at 8 and so was her Momma.   A few calls to family while I laid there and then it was LIGHTS.OUT.   I sure does feel good to be productive!  Now, if only we could say the yardwork was done!  Yeah. Right.

Speaking of productive…I also had a productive week at work last week.  In fact, during one of my cases, I did something I have never done before.   It was early Thursday morning and I was standing in surgery.  (Remember my post from last week.)  Surgeon 1 had just finished placing my Plexur graft into the harvest site of the patient’s hip.  The iliac crest harvest piece was laying on a papertowel on the stertile field behind the surgeon, along with the rest of his instruments.  To begin closing the wound, the surgeon turned around to grab some sutures.  Unfortunately, as he did this, he inadvertently grabbed that papertowel and” tossed” it aside.  (For those of you who haven’t been in an OR, there are often times several pieces of papertowel, gauze pads, etc on the sterile field/table so grabbing the wrong one or tossing one aside, would be easy to do.)  As he “tossed” the paper aside, I caught a glimpse of that harvested bone start to “fly” and without any hesitation I screached, “Noooo!!  That’s the bone!!”   You can imagine, I scared the living crap out of everyone in the room….including the surgeon.  Fortunately, the harvested bone missed the edge of the sterile table by a millimeter.  And…lucky for me, the surgeon was very appreciative of my high-pitched warning.  His exact words, “Get this bone over to the other sterile field.  I am my own worst enemy!”  We all exhaled and sighed in relief….and I followed with an apology.  “Dr, I am SO sorry to have scared you.  I do that to my husband all the time but it usually sounds something like, ‘Ryan! There’s a cop!'”  Again, lucky for me, they all thought that was pretty comical.  I was still mortified. 

And speaking of “something I have never done before”, last week I decided to try out my own version of “food sharing.”   One night, before I left for my dinner meeting, I whipped up dinner.  This time though, I decided I should “share” the pan of Pancetta Mac N Cheese I was making.  I mean, come one, who really needs a full pan of Mac N Cheese?!?!  You have GOT to indulge…in moderation.  🙂

So with that thought in mind, I signed into Facebook and posted this message, “Iowa City Friends – I just got home and plan to whip up a batch of Pancetta Mac N Cheese. If you are interested in a half pan…I will have one extra…and it will be ready in 15min or so. You will just have to bake it! Let me know.”   And…within 30 minutes, it was gone!   What fun!   I am such a geek…I was so excited to make a batch and share it with a friend…not only becuase it is delicious but also because it would save someone else some time making dinner for their family.  Isn’t sharing fun??  I think we (Moms especially) should do this more often.  🙂

PANCETTA MAC N CHEESE

Recipe courtesy of Dr Michael McGlamry (Thank you, Dr McGlamry for sharing!)

Serving: 1 9×13 pan or 2 8×8 pans

  • 1 lb Pasta (Rigatoni or your favorite noodle)
  • 8 oz Sharp Cheddar, freshly grated
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack, freshly grated 
  • 4 oz Parmesan, freshly grated
  • 1 Qt Whipping Cream (could substitute Half and Half)
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the noodles until al dente (7-10 minutes depending on the noodle).  Mix with the Cream and add 2/3 of the cheese.  Spread over a greased 9×13 pan or two 8×8 pans.  Top with the remaining 1/3 cheese.  Bake for 45 min at 350 degrees!

See…it really doesn’t get much easier…and it was so so so good.  Grill up some chicken (Jalapenp Popper Chicken pictured below..recipe to come) and asparagus and your dinner is ready!

And there you have it.  Life really is all about the little things…like impulse outbursts and sharing Mac N Cheese.   Indulge yourself this week.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Breakfast or Lunch? Save Me, Panera!

Good Morning!  Or…Good Afternoon…I’m not sure which!

What a busy work week it has been.  From early mornings to late nights and back to early mornings, I’m not sure if I am coming or going!  🙂  Really though…here’s my dilemma.  Up at 4am today and on the road by 445am.  In Des Moines for a case by 630am and in the operating room by 7am.  Surgeon 1 in…graft harvested…graft placed…incision site closed…Surgeon 2 ready to start on the wrist.  My part is done and it is only 830am.  My stomach is growling and I want…LUNCH.  Anybody with me?  I haven’t had breakfast (I’d love to know who can eat at before 6am…I can’t!) but Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad is calling my name.  Technically I’ve been up 4.5 hours and on a normal day, it would be nearly time for lunch…but today, it’s only 830!! 

So, almost another hour later, here I am, at Panera….with a breakfast sandwich.  It isn’t quite the salad I’m craving…but it does have some roasted tomatoes..some spinach…and some basil.  Ahhh…a compromise!  New at Panera is the Mediterranean Egg White Sandich on Ciabatta.  SO GOOD. 

As I mentioned, I am also a huge huge huge fan of the Fuji Apple Salad.  During my pregnancy, I probably had a minimum of 1-2 each week.  I’ve cut back…LOL…but it is still a fave!  Oh…and did I mention their Mac and Cheese??  To.die.for.  Let it be known, I have NEVER ordered a  bowl.  The nutritional information was enough for even me…to say, “I’ll pass.”  But…I do allow my sister or my co-workers to order a bowl…and I sneak my fair share of bites.  🙂

On a recent “Saturday Shopping Date” with Ryan and Bella, we also tried their Jalapeno Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich.  I loved it!  Unfortunately, it is no longer on the menu.  Fortunately, I re-created it at home and you have the recipe here!  So go ahead, surprise your honey and your kids with a yummy breakfast sandwich this weekend. 

Jalapeno Breakfast Bagel Sandwich

Serves 4

  • 4 Panera Jalapeno Cheddar Bagels, sliced
  • 4 slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 lb Deli Ham, freshly shaved (I prefer Black Forest or Honey Ham)
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • EVOO or Butter

Start by cooking the eggs.  I put a drizzle of EVOO in a pan and turned the stove on medium low.  To contain the egg in a circular fashion, I laid a “balloon-shaped” cookie cutter in the middle of the pan.  Crack the egg into the cookie cutter and let cook for 2-3 minutes.  Once the bottom of the egg has solidified, flip the egg (and the cookie cutter).  Let cook for one minute more.  Repeat for all for 4 eggs.

Once the eggs are done, build your breakfast sandwiches.  From the bottom up:  Bagel, ham, spinach, tomato, egg, cheese, bagel top.

Set the sandwiches side a Panini Press and let warm for 4-5 minutes on medium.  Remove from Press and cut in half.

A quick, easy, and delicious breakfast SERVED!  Thank you, Panera, for a great little sandwich….and salad…and mac and cheese.  I love you.  🙂

And now…back to work and back on the road!  I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week.  It’s looking like it’s going to be another unseasonably warm weekend.  Get out your grills if you haven’t already.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

A Birthday & Cheeseburger in Paradise!

Hola!  Buenos Dias! 

Good Morning from Riviera Cancun Mexico!  Today is St Pat’s…and my 31st Birthday…is there any better time to celebrate in Mexico?!  I think not.  🙂 

With Grandma & Grandpa at the house and a tearful goodbye to Bella on Thursday, Ryan and I headed to Chicago to meet our dear friends from college, Gena and Eric.  From there…we were off to the beautiful resort Secrets Silversands.  Yesterday we relaxed in the sun and caught up on our day-to-day lives, our children, and our families.  And after we felt fully recapped, we reminsced about our college days…it seems the stories are never ending!  I wonder what we will come up with today.  LOL.

To start my birthday off right this morning, Ryan surprised me, not with a bouquet of flowers…but a handful of clovers!  With that we popped a bottle of champagne and poured ourselves some Mimosas.  Delish!  And, in true Ryan-fashion, he brought along a very thoughtful gift…a key charm, with a Ruby for Bella, to add to my “everyday” necklace.  Thank you, Ryan!

And now…before we head down to the beach, I share with you the wonderful lunch we indulged in at the Barefoot Grille yesterday!  Ahhh….a few burgers in paradise! 

First…a traditional CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE!!  (They were sooo good!)  I can’t help you with the “paradise” part…but I can help you with a delicious cheeseburger part!  Check out an earlier post on INDULGE….featuring “Boudreau’s Burgers“.   These burgers are simple…and do not disappoint.

Second…a MEXI-BURGER!  While I, obviously, didn’t make all of these indgrediants, I do have a recipe that will get this done for you at home.  Give it a try this weekend…pair with a cold Corona…and sit out on your porch.  With the beautiful weather we’ve experienced in the Midwest the last week, you might just be able to close your eyes are pretend you are in Mexico too!

MEXI-BURGER

Serves 4

  • 1 lb 90/10 Ground Beef
  • ~ 1/4 cup Milk
  • Seeded Hamburger Buns, 1 bun cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 Tbsp “backyard grilling” seasoning (Choose your favorite burger seasoning)
  • 1 Tbsp Hot Sauce (most any will do!)
  • A Dash or Two of Garlic Salt
  • EVOO
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • Green Leaf Lettuce, rinsed & torn
  • Sliced Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Guacamole, freshly made
  • Fresh Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

Start by prepping all of your toppings (lettuce, guac, and salsa). Recipes to follow.  Set aside until ready to serve.

Preheat the grill to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine milk and the one cubed hamburger bun.  Using your hands, mix the milk and bun until fully saturated and paste-like.  Add the ground beef and continue to mash together with your hands.  Work in Worcestershire, seasoning, and hot sauce.  Once combined, pat out 4 burgers.   Grill the burgers for ~6 minutes per side or until your desired “done-ness”.  We grill ours until just pink in the middle.

As you flip your burgers over for the final ~6 minutes, prep your buns!  In a small prep bowl, combine 4 Tbsp EVOO and a dash or two of garlic salt.  Brush the inside of each bun (top and bottom).  Place on the top rack of the grill for ~30 seconds (or until grill lines form).  While the buns are grilling, add the swiss cheese  and let melt.

Remove buns annd begin to build your Hamburgesa Mexicano!

FRESH SALSA

  • 4 large Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 White Onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 4 Serrano Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/4 Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients.  Toss well.

GUACAMOLE

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Serrano Pepper
  • 1 Large Roma Tomato
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 Red Onion, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mash together with a fork.  (Keep the seed of the avacado with your gauc to prevent it from “browning”.)

Mmmmm…..muy bueno!

…a Cheeseburger or Mexi-Burger in Paradise…or your own backyard!  Enjoy your St Patrick’s Day…with your (big or) Little Leprechauns.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.