Friday, February 26, 2010

Nosh review

A bereavement client told me I should check out Nosh in downtown Geneva sometime and I finally got around to doing it. It was incredible! Nosh serves breakfast and lunch daily and dinner Thursday through Sunday. They serve some seriously good food. I normally just order water when I go out to eat but when I saw a listing for freshly squeezed juice, I was inspired to try the pomegranate lemonade. Good choice! The menu was filled with tantalizing options and I was hardpressed to decide between the breakfast and lunch options. In the end I chose an omelet with leeks, bacon, and gruyere cheese. And it was the best omelet I've ever had! I'm not even kidding. Pure deliciousness. My colleague went with the Create Your Own Salad option as she has some dietary restrictions. She was impressed with her choices and quite pleased by the amount of spinach in her salad. The hostess was very friendly but our waitress was pretty busy so we didn't see much of her. No matter though. Quality ingredients, interesting flavor combinations...I can't wait to go back!

Thus was my experience at restaurant #1 in my 31 Things quest (see item 22).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

31 Things Before Turning 31

I was inspired by Michelle My Belle's "'37 Things Before I Turn 38' List," who in turn was inspired by Hula Seventy's "38 Things To Do Before I Turn 39" list. So here's my list of what I'd like to accomplish by next January. There's a couple big might notice a certain Big Decision I've been alluding to. And there's a few easy ones- I don't want to stack the odds against myself. And if you feel like accompanying me or helping me complete any of these, let me know! I'll post updates over the coming months.

1. Visit my brother Matt in Virginia (He's lived there for a few years and I haven't made it out yet. If I want to keep Favorite Sister status, this trip better happen!)
2. Move to Nashville (Nothing has been decided yet so don't ask me when, where I'll live or work, or any of those pesky details. Suffice it to say I am excited and terrified all at once!)
3. Flambé something
4. Read 100 books (I read 80 last year so I'm upping the ante.)
5. Go to a writing workshop, read a book on writing, etc.
6. Take a horseback riding lesson
7. Go to the Holocaust Museum
8. Eat at one of Rick Bayless' restaurants
9. Scrapbook 2007, 2008, and 2009 (I am hopelessly behind.)
10. Complete Anna and Katelyn's birthday presents (This is probably the biggest sewing project I've ever taken on. I hope I can pull it off!)
11. Go to Medieval Times (I've made fun of it for I'm thinking I should see what it's all about.)
12. See the new Modern exhibit at the Art Institute
13. Dance every week (Living room dance party, anyone?)
14. Update my recipe book (Another hopelessly overdue project.)
15. Buy a new stereo system
16. Reacquaint myself with my Canon Rebel
17. Regularly paint and sketch
18. Make next T-shirt blanket
19. Do an intense Spring Clean
20. Enlarge blog readership for HopefulLeigh (That means you! Click on the follower tab to be official. My goal is at least 25 people who are confirmed followers.)
21. Enlarge blog readership for my professional blog (Aiming to get to 50 here.)
22. Eat at 5 new restaurants
23. Get my next tattoo
24. Consult a naturopath
25. Preserve my White Sox 2005 World Series newspapers and memorabilia
26. Buy a new computer printer
27. Be a peacemaker
28. Bring back Last Minute Dinners (Something I did in the past- I sent out an email to friends the morning of with my menu and anyone who was free came over for dinner.)
29. Cook a real meal 2-4 times per month whether or not I'm having company (I LOVE to cook but sometimes it's hard cooking just for myself. Who wants to eat leftovers for a week? Still, I can freeze some, I can take leftovers to my parents. I can do this.)
30. Find a new small group Bible study
31. Be open to wherever this next year takes me!

A few other lists:
amanda's "25 before 25" list
If you have a list of your own, post it in the comments and I'll add it here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Pioneer Woman

OK, I'd heard people waxing poetic about The Pioneer Woman before but I never stopped to see what all the fuss was about. Until yesterday. And then today. Oh man, am I ever obsessed now. I happened upon the blog Steph Cooks PW!, wherein the blogger is trying various Pioneer Woman recipes on her family and having them rate them. Lots of good ideas. So I went to the Pioneer Woman's site. She blogs. She cooks. Oh, and she homeschools her children (I'm not sold but if anyone could change my mind about the benefits of homeschooling, it would be Ree), posts home and garden tips, and has a photography tutorial. All while living on a ranch with her very own Marlboro Man (what she calls her husband, not an ad to start smoking.) She has been captivating me this morning with her love story: Black Heels to Tractors Wheels (start at the bottom with The Night I Met Marlboro Man and work your way up.) Now I need to find my own cowboy. And maybe become friends with her if I'm ever wandering through Oklahoma? And I want to order her cookbook. Not that I need another cookbook but because her recipes look so good- and this is written while I recover from food poisoning and most thoughts of food make me want to gag. I know I'm being all kinds of ridiculous. But just try reading that love story, or this recipe or this one, and then tell me it's no big deal. I dare you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sausage and Risotto Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite recipes to make for company! It looks and tastes impressive but it's actually easy to make. My friend Kelly came up with the recipe after eating this meal at a restaurant. The only thing I do differently is use a pound of sausage and I add a little more celery. (Her version calls for a 1/2 pound of sausage and 2 celery stalks but I use 3.)

4-6 peppers (I use yellow and orange generally, look for sturdy bases)
1 lb. ground mild Italian sausage
3 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 t. oregano
1 t. thyme
pepper to taste
1 c. white wine (don't use a Riesling or sweeter wine)
4-5 cups of chicken broth
1 c. risotto
Parmesan cheese

1. Gut peppers. Keep whole and place on a foil-lined pan to soften. Broil approximately 4 minutes. You can keep the peppers in the oven to keep them warm but keep an eye on them so they don't get mushy.

2. Heat a large saute pan. Add sausage, onion, celery, and spices. Saute until veggies are soft and sausage is cooked completely.

3. Add wine and reduce until half the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. The best way to do this is look at the liquid level in the pot once you pour it in and keep an eye for when it's at half the level of the sausage/veggie mixture. One way of doing this is to stir the mixture to the side and compare the liquid level from time to time until it's about half.

4. Stir in risotto and 1 cup of broth. Keep stirring until liquid is absorbed. Then add another and stir until broth is absorbed, repeat. At cup #4 taste to see if the risotto is cooked. By this point the mixture should have a creamy look and texture. If the risotto is not quite done, add cup #5. The broth process takes about 30 minutes. Yes, it's a lot of stirring but you can do it!
5. Remove peppers from oven. They should be tender, not mushy.
6. Spoon risotto mixture into peppers and layer with Parmesan cheese, starting with cheese on the bottom.
7. Bake a few minutes until pepper is soft.
8. Enjoy!