Friday, March 18, 2016

Revelations, Updates, Puppies, and A New Recipe!!!

Lol. Lots of fun stuff going on. My daughter's (Bethany) puppy is growing like a freaking weed (and I might add that my raised garden beds are weed free - yay!). He's so entertaining, and sweet, and has a strange passion for Bill's shoes. He doesn't destroy them, just carts them around from room to room, lol.  And... that sweet puppy brought about a revelation for Bill and I... we're ready for our own. The loss of my Sadie baby is still painfully fresh - I still look for her when I come home, sometimes still call for her when it's bedtime. The hurt is very present. But... having little Hunter around showed us that despite our misgivings, it was time.

We talked at great length about what we wanted in a pet - age, breed, size. We decided that a gentle giant just isn't on the table - I can't bear it yet. We also knew we didn't want another pure bred. Having lost our Nakki, and then just a few years later (and very recently) our Sadie... pure breeds are a no-go. So... a mix. We wanted a puppy- a fresh new life we could bond with from day one. Nakki was almost 4 months old when we got her, and her personality was formed. Sadie was a rescue, and about 2 years old with a hard life behind her. So... puppy.

We got on the internet, perused photos for hours, and stopped when the hubby said, "Wait, go back. That one. He looks like trouble."  Lol.  As we exchanged messages with the owner (her boxer had an unfortunate unsupervised visit with her Mom's husky), we began calling him "Imp". He just had that face. The next day, we drove an hour (technically it was NOT phoenix, lol) to meet with the owner, the Imp and his sister. And we fell in love.
Doesn't he look mischievous??? We named him Loki.  And he lost no time in living up to his name, waking me the next morning with a bite on the nose. Lol.  He's adorable, and seriously... puppy breath. Hahaha.

He and Hunter have become besties. They play together, nap together, play, nap. Lol. It's awesome!

And just because...



So, there's my new fur-baby. ;-)

In other news, I've nearly completed my Clean Eating Academy course. Today is all about rice and ancient grains. Should be interesting. I also received the shipment of my new knife set. Anyone familiar with Cutco? My amazing hubby got me a set! White, to match my kitchen ;-)  And, I promptly sliced open two fingers. One during the unpacking, and the second during my first use of the paring knife. Who knew it was so sharp it would go right through the avocado and its skin? And it was so sharp I didn't even know I'd cut myself until the blood started dripping. *sorry about the guacamole, hubby*

Despite my slight mishap, so far I'm impressed. The knives are lightweight, but the tang is full length, providing great balance. Anyway, so far, so (mostly) good. Lol.

Next up... updates on the Official Recipe For Fitness Garden. It's still alive!!! The mushroom infestation seems to have died back to a dull roar. All but 7 of my gazillion asparagus have sprouted up (and the ferns are gorgeous!). They may still sprout, but (haha) I'm not holding my breath. The flowers are doing a wonderful job of bringing the bees in (to my delight and dismay), and several plants have blooms. My tomatoes have taken off, the romaine, edamame, and radishes in particular are doing great. And I haven't had to pull any dead plants yet. Yay!!!!
romaine, edamame, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, cilantro

Tomatoes, onions here and there, basil, variety of peppers, sage, and radishes

Corn, Green beans, beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, cucumbers, green onions, watermelon, spaghetti squash, and more flowers.


Potato plants & Artichoke plant

blackberry bush surrounded by flower seedlings


Loki did have an unfortunate encounter with the Elvis gnome, but he was quickly soothed and Elvis was returned to his rightful perch. Lol. ;-)

Further updates on the personal front - one of the big things (which I can't yet discuss) is on hold - which places another big thing in potential jeopardy. I'm learning to just ride the wave on this. Either it will come home to shore or not. Worry won't change the outcome.

The other, and bigger situation we've been dealing with for over a year (remember all that traveling back and forth to California last summer?) - well, we're moving forward in a new direction, and that is exciting, terrifying, and exciting and terrifying. Lol.  Did I mention exciting and terrifying? ;-) Whether you pray or send good vibes, I ask that you do so our way.

Moving on... Recipes!!! 
While I failed on catching photos (gee, gonna have to make it again!), I made the most amazing stuffed flank steak! Typically in our area, flank is NOT an inexpensive steak. London Broil I can usually catch for $1.99/lb (killer deal!), but flank? Not so much. However... my local Albertson's put it on sale, so I grabbed a couple. One in the freezer, and hmmmm... what to do with the other? So of course, I hit Pinterest, about 15 cookbooks, and a dozen food magazines. Not thrilled with anything I saw (most include spinach and the hubby has suddenly decided he hates spinach), I whipped up my own stuffing. And it's amazing! So... here's the recipe, photos and nutritional info to come soon. ;-)

Stuffed Flank Steak
Chelle Stafford

Serves 4
Cooking time: about 30-45 minutes

2 lb Flank Steak
1 small head broccoli, minced
1/2 pack of brown mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pack bacon
5 oz container blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup Guinness beer
olive oil
sea salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lay flat the steak between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer, smash the bejeebers out of it until the steak is an even thickness. Discard plastic wrap.
3. Sprinkle both sides with sea salt & pepper.
4. In a large cast-iron (or other oven-safe) skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy, then lay strips on paper towels to absorb excess fat.  Keep about 2 Tbsp of the fat in the skillet, pouring off the rest. Chop the bacon.
5. Add minced garlic to skillet and saute until fragrant (about a minute). Add broccoli and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are softened (about 2-3 minutes).
6. In a medium bowl, mix bacon, blue cheese, and garlic/broccoli/mushrooms.
7. Spread mixture evenly over the flank steak, leaving about an inch of exposed meat around the edges.
8. Roll up the steak, starting with the short side. Use kitchen twine to secure (see note below).
9. Return skillet to the stovetop (medium high heat) and sear the steak roll on all sides (start seam side down).
10. Place skillet (uncovered) in the oven and cook for about 15-18 minutes (15 minutes gave us perfectly medium rare meat).
11. Remove from heat, placing steak on cutting board. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
12. Serve and enjoy the well deserved ooh's and ahh's you'll receive. ;-)

Note: Kitchen twine... truly the easiest method of keeping your stuffed flank steak together.  Simply cut 4-6 pieces of twine each long enough to wrap around the steak - tie each off, and  you're done. When you're ready to serve, simply slice around the twine, then snip it off once you've plated.  Below is an example of a twined steak to show you what it looks like.

Seriously, folks... this is a super easy recipe that looks amazing plated. Just tell folks you slaved for hours - they'll believe you! ;-)  Serve with your choice of starch (mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, lemon rice, rice pilaf, etc) and add a side of steamed asparagus. Prepare for serious yummage.

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