I’m Back!

It’s been well over a year. In fact, almost 2 years, since I’ve wrote on here. I’ve missed it so incredibly much and regret that I let this piece of me slip out of my attention and priorities.

However, I am back to stay!

 

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Mussel, Shrimp and Scallop Paella

Hello all!

Long time no post, right!?

I’m hoping to be posting a lot more on here because I finally made the decision to go to culinary school this Fall! I’m so excited and in the mean time, I’m going to be cooking a lot and trying new things! My posts will very much be from a learning perspective and I will be sharing how I did things, things that I learned, how I messed up things and I how I would have changed things.  I hope you all will come on the journey with me!

So the other evening I was really in the mood for seafood and there is this great place where I live that sells fresh seafood, so I went and grabbed some scallops, shrimp and mussels.

I had never cooked mussels or scallops before and I bought the shrimp unpeeled with the vein still in. I wanted to try to do it myself so I could learn how.

It was very simple. Just take off the shell, cut the shrimp down the back and remove the dark vein with the tip of your knife.

I had a hard time deciding what I was going to make with them until I talked to my friend Lisa, who is my college age class Pastors wife at church.

(I’ve been trying to get her to make a food blog because she would be absolutely amazing at it. We’ll see!)

She suggested that I make Paella.

I had a hard enough time pronouncing what sounded like a very complicated dish to make, so I looked it up and found that’s actually really easy.

Basically, it’s shellfish and chicken and veggies and rice all in one pot.

It sounded so yummy so I decided to make it, and here’s how.

The Cast of Characters:

(Ignore the burn marks on the dutch oven….. it’s a long story)

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6-10 Scallops

20-30 shrimp

20-25 mussels

2 cups of rice

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

3 bay leaves

3 cups of chicken stock

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

6 button mushrooms, sliced

thyme

rosemary

olive oil

butter

salt

pepper

Oh, and I’m sure that you’ll notice that the scallops aren’t pictured above. I also decided last minute to throw a few sliced button mushrooms in, which also didn’t get pictured. Yeah, don’t be like me.

Before you cook the mussels, go through them and scrub them clean. Mine were already de-bearded but still had a few traces of beard. If some are open, press them shut for a few seconds and if they stay shut, they are still alive and are good. If not, toss them out. Then fill a large bowl with water 3 tbs of flour. Soak the mussels in the water and flour mixture for 30 minutes. This makes the mussels cough up any sand that may be in them. Once the 30 minutes is up, rinse them in fresh water.

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Now, drizzle some olive oil and add 2 tbs of butter to a dutch oven. Heat it over medium high heat and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms.

Saute until the onions just begin to get translucent. Then add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs pepper, tomatoes, and 2 cups of rice.

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Stir the rice around and get it coated in the oil and let cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock to de-glaze the pan.

Let the stock cook for a few minutes thicken and evaporate slightly.

Take the bay leaves out of the pot and add the mussels.

Cook for about 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally and then cook uncovered until the broth evaporates to your desired thickness and all of the mussels have opened.

Covering the pot and cooking for the ten minutes is important, because the steam cooks the mussels instead of boiling them ,which would make the rubbery.

In a separate pan add some olive oil and butter and saute the scallops on medium low heat. It should take about 4 minutes per side.

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Set the scallops aside and then saute the shrimp, which will take roughly the same amount of time per side.

Once the shrimp is done you are ready to plate.

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Now, HERE IS WHAT I WISH I DID DIFFERENTLY:

First, I had too many mussels. About 10-15 too many.

Second, I wish I would have cooked the mussels separately and the scallops and shrimp in the rice and veggies. I wish this because then I would’ve plated the mussels separately and it would have been a lot easier to eat this way.

Over all, it was absolutely delicious.

The broth was absolutely delicious and everything blended very well. I would definitely recommend this to make if you are craving some sea food.

Snow Cream!

Here in Southwest Virginia, we just had a huge snow storm come through.

Typically, when it snows we will get around 2 inches.

Well, we got around 4-8 this time.

We have plenty of snow to go around and what better way to have fun with it than make snow cream!

Snow cream is something that my grandmother made for my Mom and her brother and has been passed down since.

It’s a really good sweet treat to make, especially if you get kids involved.

the recipe really has no measurements, you just have to eyeball everything depending to your tastes and how the snow is at the time,

To begin, go outside and get a large bowl of snow.Image

Then grab a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour a generous helping in.

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Give it a stir, and see if you’ll need more sweetened condensed milk or snow.

You want to aim for a snow cone texture, so add more snow as needed.

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After stirring in the sweetened condensed milk in the picture above, I still had to add in some more snow. so if you don’t like things too sweet, take it easy on the milk. Or, you could make it as sweet as you want and add more snow.

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If you happened to not have any sweetened condensed milk and you didn’t want to risk your life going out in the snow and ice to get some, you can substitute it with: heavy cream, vanilla and sugar.

The Old and The New; Not Meant To Be Mixed

Luke 5: 36-39

 

36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

 

As I was reading these verses, they kept tugging at me. I wanted to know what a wineskin was (sounds pretty weird to me) and just really decipher what Jesus was saying here. So with a little research, prayer and focusing on the Word, I finally grasped the meaning of what Jesus was saying. I felt that I needed to share this for anyone out there that’s going through a struggle or rough time in their walk with God, and especially to those of you who don’t know Him as your Savior yet. If you don’t, I urge you not to click the back button or stop reading. I urge you to read and see how God truly loves all of His children.

 

In verse 36, the new garment can be thought of as the robe of righteousness, or blood of Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior, the new garment covers our sins and takes place of the old garment, the  filthy rags caused by our sin. Jesus says that no one can tear a patch from the new garment and sew it on to the old because the patch wouldn’t match the old garment and the new garment would be torn in order to do so. What this means is that once we surrender to Him and accept Him into our heart, we can’t turn back to our old ways and still be covered by His righteousness. We can’t hold on to our old sins; the things that we used to put in place of God. Notice when the scripture says ” he will have torn the new garment and the patch from the new will not match.” Basically, BOTH garments will be ruined. Living in sin while simultaneously living for God is something that does not, never has and never will, exist. That’s one of many reasons why God is so awesome. It’s His way or the highway. He WANTS us to live for Him and He WANTS to help us, protect us, heal us, provide for us and love us! God, the one and only God wants YOU to love Him because He ALREADY loves you. Think about that for a minute. That’s something that is so easily said (well…. typed too) but so easily passed over. Isaiah 61:10 gives a perfect example of how God has supplied the new garment for us:

“I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Verse 37-39 talks about the wineskins and how if new wine is poured into an old wineskin, that it would burst. When I first read this verse, I thought to myself, “Self, what is a wineskin. That sounds pretty gross.” So, I did a little research. Turns out, it is pretty gross… to us anyway. I’m sure people back in the time that Jesus walked the Earth thought that it was pretty awesome.

Wineskins are the skins of goats. The goats were skinned and the skins were sewed up to be like a vessel or a bottle. Grape juice would be poured into the skins and allowed to sit and ferment for long periods of time to make wine. When fermentation happens, gasses (Carbon Dioxide in this case) are released as a by-product. The gases would stretch the wineskin to it’s very limit. Once the wine reached the desired point of fermentation, the wine would be poured out, but the wineskin would remain stretched. Since it was stretched to it’s limit, it could not be used again because it would burst open when the gases would be released during fermentation during the second time around.

“Where are you going with this,” I can hear y’all thinking. Well, the old wineskin is your old self (old garment) once you’ve been saved. You were stretched and filled full of your old sin, so there clearly couldn’t be any hope, redemption or use for you. WRONG. That’s where God steps in. Into you, I should say. He transforms you and changes you. He makes you into the new wineskin. Pure, clean and in prime condition. The new wine is the Grace of God. Our old selves, our old wineskins, cannot hold the grace that God wants to give us. It’s already been used and tainted with sin. But how great is God to make us new and ready for the Grace to be poured into us! His grace fills us like wine into new wineskins. It stretches us to the limit, filling us up to maximum capacity with no room left for anything else. Our God wants ALL of us, not just a part. The KJV version of verse 38 says:

38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.”

Did you grasp that. In the verses mentioned earlier we learned that both garments would be ruined if we tried to go back to our old selves. But here Jesus tells us that if we allow Him to come into our hearts and allow Him to make us into a new creation, that He would pour His grace in us and that BOTH would be preserved! How awesome is that!?

Verse 39 says that,  “And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.”

This can be taken as a warning. It’s all too easy to fall back on our old ways that we were used to, familiar and comfortable with. You can’t say that the old wine is better than the new if you’ve never tried the new wine. Remember, the new and the old cannot be mixed or both will be ruined.

What I want the reader to get from this is that God WANTS to give you His grace and love. He wants to save you from whatever it is that you may be going through. Saved or not, Jesus is there for you to change you into something new and great and fill you up with His love, righteousness and blessings. How great is our God that He would WANT us, even while we were sinners, to love Him and to provide for us?

                                                                

 

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hey y’all!

So browsing one of my favorite bloggers, photographers and chefs (Ree Drummond) website, I seen a recipe that I thought would be awesome!

It’s Chicken Tortilla Soup and the simplicity and uniqueness of the recipe is what drew me to it.

Here is the link to her recipe of the soup.

I changed it up just slightly because I wanted to put my own touch to it.

I added turmeric to the spices used on the chicken and in the soup. It gave it a wonderful flavor and an even better color.

I also sauteed the vegetable in olive oil AND butter.

I live in the south…

Butter is part of the holy food trinity here.

I also used 1 can of black beans, 2 cans of navy beans and 1 can of corn.

Ree’s recipe doesn’t call for corn at all, but hey, why not?

I substituted Sun Dried Tomato Paste for the regular stuff also.

I brushed each tortilla with olive oil and baked them in the oven until crisp, and then pinched off pieces to garnish the soup.

The cherry on top of the whole thing is that I added half a block of shredded gruyere cheese.

The gruyere along with some scallions was also used to garnish the soup.

But anywho, enjoy these pictures of the soup while I suffer through this food coma.

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It. Was. Divine.

Merry Christmas from Sputnick and Prissy Claus

In honor of Christmas (and just because it’s cute) Sputnick and Prissy got all dressed up to have their Christmas pictures taken.

As I’ve said before, Prissy isn’t one to like clothes, but she was still in the Christmas spirit.

Enjoy the pictures below and I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful, happy and Merry Christmas!

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Nikon D7000!

Every Christmas my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and my family all switch having Christmas dinner at each of our houses.

This year we are having it at ours, which is super exciting!

What’s also super exciting is that my parents decided to open presents last night.

Apparently I’ve been good all year (yeah, sure) because Santa was good to me this year! Haha.

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I got a Nikon D7000, which is a HUGE upgrade to the camera that I’ve been using, the Nikon D3000.

I immediately took a quick few photos of my dogs (of course) and here are the pictures.

Most of these are barely edited whatsoever, which is something that is so nice, because on my D5000 I had to constantly edit out noise, sharpen, adjust contrast, etc.

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