Jun 242014
 

Over the weekend we had some house guests! Michael’s dad was visiting from Texas and my parents came down from Seattle to meet him. Unfortunately Michael’s stepmom wasn’t joining us, she was home in Texas. Michael and I have been together around 6 years now and yet it never quite worked out to have my parents come meet Michael’s dad. It took forever for us to schedule and coordinate a meeting with Michael’s mom and stepdad and they live in Portland! (You can read it here: Meet the Parents.) It just happened to work out this time that my parents were going to be in Oregon for something else at the same time as Michael’s dad’s visit. Finally!

On Sunday morning Michael, his dad and my dad went golfing together. I went for a quick swim and then came home to get ready for my mom and grandma to come over. They’d been at a party at my aunt’s house on Saturday. I fixed up a small snack-y lunch for the three of us to enjoy on the deck. It was a nice day, 80 degrees and sunny but there was a nice, cool breeze so it never felt too hot out there.

For lunch I made caprese and then put out some crackers, cream cheese and freshly smoked salmon my aunt made. It was so good! I love the fresh stuff and hers are the best. I also put out some stuffed olives and cantaloupe–just a few things to munch on.

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It was so nice just hanging out with my mom and grandma. We talked about the wedding plans, Grammy shared some family stories I hadn’t heard before and we just relaxed. My mom periodically went out into the yard and play ball with Bella who was having a BLAST. She never gets sick of playing ball. ;)

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The boys got home from golfing and Michael started grilling up the ribs. He’d seasoned them and wrapped them up the night before so they were all prepped and ready to go. While Michael was grilling, us girls played a game of Sequence. :) Now that was funny! My 92 year old Grandmother playing a board game… LOL

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I made a cucumber salad to go with the ribs. I’ve made a few different versions of the cucumber dill salad and while it’s always good no matter how you make it, I liked the previous recipe I made more than this one. Not sure why–maybe because I used fresh dill for this recipe? In the past I used dried dill so maybe that makes a different. Either way, it’s a refreshing summer salad that is really low in calories. This recipe is somewhere between 30-60 calories depending on the size of the cucumbers you use. I used three medium sized cucumbers and I also added some freshly chopped red onion–which was a good addition.

CUCUMBER DILL GREEK YOGURT SALAD

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 30-60 calories

From: http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2013/05/cucumber-dill-greek-yogurt-salad/

Ingredients

  • 4 large cucumbers
  • 4 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (substitute red or white wine vinegar if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Peel, half, seed, and slice cucumbers.
  2. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Add cucumber to bowl and toss with yogurt/dill mixture until combined well.
  4. Additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  5. Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.
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I’m glad I went with a cucumber salad because it was a lot lighter than a pasta salad or coleslaw would have been. The ribs are so rich and heavy that you need a lighter side dish with it.

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Finally, the ribs were ready! They were pork ribs–Michael gets them at Costco. They are so good and so meaty! He did a great job grilling them. We used traditional flavored Stubbs BBQ sauce instead of the spicy (like we like it) but they were still great. I had a Ninkasi beer with dinner and we sat around the table. The first few minutes of dinner the guys were watching the last (unfortunate and disappointing) part of the US World Cup game and eating ribs so no one was speaking much. ;) The game was over and they shut it off and we had a great dinner just chatting about different things, family, travel, etc.

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Mmmm! Nothing better than some red meat, beer and summer! After a leisurely dinner with cantaloupe for dessert (I forgot to make a real dessert!) my parents were heading back to Seattle. I got one last picture with Gram before they left. (She hates the camera.)

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Words cannot express just how much I cherished my Sunday afternoon. From noon until after 6pm I just relaxed and did nothing but spend time with family. I wasn’t frantically trying to check off the stuff on my never-ending to-do list, or messing with my phone, I was just present and spending quality time with people I don’t see nearly enough. I know the reality is my Grandma is older and won’t be with us forever. When I see her and see just how much she’s aged, it makes me sad. I WANT her to live forever. She’s 92 and will be 93 in December. She’s a feisty old bird!

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Lots of hugs goodbye and they were off to Seattle. Michael’s dad was staying with us for a few more days so the boys watched more sports (there’s always SOMETHING on…), Bella was one pooped puppy! I decided to have a little me time and read. Nice end to the weekend. :)

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Apr 022014
 

On Sunday night I met up with a friend for dinner because we had a lot of catching up to do! We met at Oaks Bottom Pub in Sellwood because they had a happy hour that ran until 6pm. Michael was out at a concert that night and it was nice to get out of the house and have some girl time. I’d spent most of Sunday cooking for the week and then watching episodes of West Wing on Netflix.

I’d been craving a BLT sandwich for a few weeks and decided to get that instead of something off the happy hour menu. It came out and it was a LOT bigger than I was expecting and it was also fried. But oh well, it was delicious. It had slices of avocado on it and melted cheese and that made it amazing. Glad I got the salad as the side!

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Erika got the sliders from the happy hour menu and an order of tots. Their tots are pretty good (and they also have something called “Totchos”–basically nachos made with tots). I had a few of her tots but the sandwich was so big I didn’t have much.

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Kind of a massive amount for happy hour! We both got a beer but stuck to just one. Partly because I’m trying to limit my liquid calories and also because I’m not a huge fan of their beer. I got the seasonal IPA and it was ok but not great so why waste my calories?

It was such a nice night and our happy hour excursion turned into a 3+ hour gab session. It was good to catch up; we’ve both had a lot of stuff going on lately. I suggested that when the weather is a little nicer she meet me somewhere to walk Bella. I’m always up for a walk! As long as it’s not raining. :)

I’d planned on prepping some dinner to go into the crockpot Monday morning but my dinner date Sunday went late. By the time I got home, I just wanted to cuddle with Bella and Fat Kitty in bed and read a book (Maya was under the bed, as per usual). So Monday night when I got home from work I decided to make a quickie soup for dinner.

I wish I was one of those “throw everything together in a pot and it tastes fantastic” kind of cook. I’m a recipe follower. I need actual measurements and instructions. I guess I’m just a really literal person when it comes to the kitchen. That being said, I did kind of “throw things together” on this one. Originally I wanted to make the Pasta Y Fagioli Soup “recipe” that Michael’s mom gave me a few months ago. We’d gone over there for dinner and she made this fantastic soup! But she’s a “throw everything together” kind of cook and this is what she gave me:

Pasta Y Fagioli Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 lb ground beef, browned
  • Diced onions, celery, carrots, garlic
  • 2 16 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 can each: chicken, beef and vegetable broth
  • Seasoning: garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper, Italian seasoning, Bay leaf
  • 1 15 ounce can kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce can white beans
  • Fagioli pasta

Instructions

  1. Add everything into large pot and simmer.
  2. Serve.
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I thought, ok I can give this a try! I can WING IT (yeah right). Except I went to make the dinner and didn’t have any canned beans. I ALWAYS have canned beans. How am I out?!? Nothing but black beans and that kind of changed the whole recipe. So I made something similar to this recipe minus the beans, Also, the only pasta I had besides spaghetti was gluten-free fuselli. I honestly didn’t care that it wasn’t the right pasta. I’m not a stickler. Pasta is pasta to me.

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I browned half a pound of beef (it was left over and needed to be cooked) and halved the rest of the recipe. Minus the beans. I let it simmer for about 45 minutes on the stove. I cooked the pasta separately and then added it to the soup mixture about 10 minutes before it was going to be ready. I also baked some biscuits–you know, the kind that come in a tube? It’s been probably 8 years or so since I had them and was craving it so I got it. They were surprisingly low in calories. A serving was 3 biscuits for 160 calories. Not bad!

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With my throwing things together, I actually got 5 servings out of the dish and that made it 271 calories for 5 servings. If it was half of the original recipe at 4 servings it would be a little higher but still pretty low.

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Michael was a big fan of the soup. I was too. It was delicious and hearty. The kitchen smelled delightful! I would most definitely make this recipe again with one minor tweak — it needed more fluids! Since I was omitting the cans of beans (which the original recipes I consulted said to include the liquid in the beans) there was less fluid. I think I’d add some beef broth or maybe some water.

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Despite not being “soupy” it was still delicious and I loved the flavors. And the biscuit. :)

What’s your favorite soup?

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