Friday, April 29, 2011

Everyday Gourmet

There is a fancy way of cooking called "en papillote", but it's actually not fancy at all. It is the most ridiculously easy way to cook if you ask me. I picked up this recipe card at Central Market, and I have made it many times. It's easy enough for a weekday - basically it's a meal all in one parchment packet - but impressive enough for company. There are NO dishes to clean. Just throw away the parchment paper and you don't even have to clean the baking sheet! You've got everything you could want in a perfect packet - fish, veggies, a bit of salty meat, and a garlic butter sauce to finish it off. Plate it on a bed of quick-cooking rice or cous-cous, and dinner is served.

Lemon Halibut in Parchment with Asparagus & Prosciutto (from Central Market)
Serves 2

1 lb. halibut fillet, cut in half
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 bunch asparagus
6 thin slices prosciutto
8 roasted marinated or sun-dried tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a cutting board, use a knife to combine the garlic and salt into a paste. Heat butter and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic paste and saute until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice and zest. Stir over heat to combine.
2. Put asparagus in a heavy-duty plastic bag with 1 cup water. Seal bag, leaving a 1-inch opening. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes to partially steam the asparagus before placing it in the packets.
3. Tear off two 12-inch pieces of parchment paper. Place one piece of halibut in the middle of a piece. Spread some garlic mixture on the fish. Top fish with half of the asparagus and more of the garlic mixture.
4. Arrange half of the tomatoes on top of the asparagus.

5. Drape half of the prosciutto on top.

6. Make an air-tight pouch with the parchment. I like to fold the top first, pleating to make a seal like you would fold down the top of a bag of coffee or chips. Then, I just tuck the sides under the fish. Repeat the process with your second piece of fish and place both packets on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.7. To serve, carefully open packets while still on baking sheet in case any sauce spills out. Remove fish and veggies to a bed of rice. Then pour all remaining sauce from packet on top of the fish. It will soak into the rice and be delicious!!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Seventy Years of Love

It seems that in this day in age, being married for twenty-five years is a feat. Thirty-five years... wow. Fifty years? Amazing! Heck, if we're talking about Hollywood, five years is cause for celebration. So what about SEVENTY years? This past weekend, we celebrated two momentous occasions. Brent's grandparents, Norman & Maureen, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. While we were at it, we also celebrated Norman's 90th birthday. It was a grand occasion.

Brent's grandparents' marriage has spanned the Great Depression all the way to today. Their marriage has produced two sons, five grandchildren, and seven great-gradnchildren. They have survived all of life's bumps, disappointments, and problems. All the while, they have kept a steadfast faith and loved eachother. You do not have to hang out with Norman for long before he will tell you in his Southern drawl: "Weeeelllll.... the Lord has blessed me. God is good." Brent and I have talked often about how they have been so clearly blessed by God. That blessing has been passed down through generations and we are now the recipients. What a strong, amazing legacy.

About 50 of their closest friends showed up for the party as well as the whole entire family. There were many teary eyes when we prayed and thanked God for the blessing of seventy years of marriage and ninety years of healthy life on this Earth. It was an amazing moment. We love you, Grammy and Grandad!

Wedding Picture: May 25, 1941

Greeting friends & family

Thanking God for His blessings
The Terry Norwood clan

Wedding cake!

Norman's 90th Birthday Cake (it had this cute little road with "road signs" for important points in his life)

My nephew Luke

A family built on 70 years of love


Thursday, April 21, 2011

'Tis So Sweet!

This week, I've been blessed with some sweet times of worship that have filled my heart with joy in preparation for Easter. On Wednesday, I drove to College Station to give a presentation, and I worshipped all the way. I've said it before, but going to College Station is good for my soul. It is my daily desire to walk with God with the same single-mindedness that I did in college. I would read my Bible outside class and worship in my car everywhere I went. God was my only guide. I always feel refreshed and re-centered when I go to good old Aggieland. Today, I downloaded some great songs on my iPod and worshipped the heck out of my workout. I was running on the treadmill at the gym, sweat pouring off me, and I was listening to the Jadon Lavik album you see here. I was so full of praise and joy that I lifted my hands to praise God right there on the treadmill. Thank you, Lord, for focusing my mind on what Jesus did for me on Good Friday by redeeming me with his blood. What an indescribable joy we should have on Easter Sunday with his resurrection. I'm sure every Christian song can be connected to Easter in some way, but I feel like the songs that made their way through my iPod this week especially spoke to my heart.

My new theme song is officially "'Tis So Sweet" sung by Jadon Lavik. I LOVE THIS SONG. It's a lovely, simple guitar version of the hymn, and it has been on constant repeat for me. I mean it's bordering on crazy how many times I've listened to it. Word of advice: Download it. Sing it loud. When it comes out of my mouth, I always change the words to "Jesus, Jesus, how I trust YOU, how I've proved YOU o'er and o'er. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust YOU more..."

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know "Thus sayeth the Lord"

O how sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
'Neath the healing, cleansing flood

Jesus, Jesus how I trust him!
How I've proved him o'er and o'er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus
O, for grace to trust him more

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace

What if we took Jesus at his word? What if we rested on his promises? What if we ceased sin and self and just took life, rest, joy, and peace? Just thinking about what is offered to me makes me praise God. What person on this crazy Earth doesn't want life and rest and joy and peace? God has proved himself over and over. Let's spend more time thinking of all the things he's done and have faith in small and big worries. For it to be good enough to know "Thus sayeth the Lord." The name of the song is so beautiful: 'Tis so SWEET. Aaaahhhhh I'm listening to it again right now. You have to have it.

Here are some other songs that have filled me with joy this week and been blasted loud on my Bose docking station. If you haven't downloaded them, they're well worth the price on iTunes.

Download from this album: "I Will Sing of My Redeemer"

Download from this album: "What a Savior"

Download from this album: EVERYTHING. Start with "Light of the World".

Download from this album: "Love the Lord"

Download from this album: EVERYTHING. But you could start with "Healer".


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Strawberry Spinach Salad Success

I didn't invent the strawberry spinach salad, but I wish I did! My friend TheLoj mentioned it on her blog the other day, and it inspired me to make my own version. I know that there are countless variations of this salad served at restaurants, but I wanted to keep it simple and create a fresh, healthy, but delicious salad. I love the creamy goat cheese with the peppery greens and sweet strawberries. The chicken gives it some protein to last you the rest of the day. It's satisfying, yet low in calories. I'm obsessed with the result and have eaten this salad for lunch four times in the last two weeks! Try it!

Katie's Strawberry Spinach Salad

In a large bowl, toss together:
1 big handful each of spring mix salad, arugula, and spinach
1 chopped baby cucumber
4-5 thinly sliced strawberries
1 chopped chicken breast (simply roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil)
1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese

Dress right before eating with a quick, easy homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Whisk together:
1 T olive oil
2t. balsamic vinegar
dash salt & pepper
1 clove crushed garlic


Monday, April 4, 2011

Must Have Shoes

I wanted to let you know about the one pair of shoes you can't live without this Spring. I mean, if I didn't have these shoes, I'd go barefoot 3-5 days a week, because that's how much I wear them. Here are all of the things these shoes have going for them:

  • They are SUPER comfy - I'm talking mall walks, long days of errands, teaching, etc.

  • They have the tiniest wedge heel, so your jeans won't drag the floor.

  • They have a fun spring-y cut out pattern.

  • They come in yellow, black, white, red, and turquoise.

  • They are from Target, so they are, get this, $15!!!!!!
I personally snagged a yellow pair that you see pictured here. I LOVE these shoes. The yellow looks adorable with jeans, navy blue, gray, and pink. I have worn mine so much that they are starting to get a little dirty. For $15, I might just buy another!!! A friend of mine at school bought them in three colors. I ask you: Can you afford to NOT buy these adorable spring flats?

I thought so. Go here to get some. (free shipping!)


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Houston Loves: Little Bigs & River Oaks

There are so many things I love about our fair city, Houston. Let's forget about the humidity and the traffic for just a moment and reflect on the many wonderful things here in H-Town. In the next few weeks (maybe months?), I'll post every once and a while about what I love about Houston. Up for today: Little Bigs and River Oaks.

If you watch "The Next Iron Chef" on Food Network, you surely saw and loved Chef Bryan Caswell from Houston. He did pretty well, but he got eliminated before the finale. Boo. Oh well, that just gave him more time to return to Houston and run his three, about to be four, successful restaurants. His first restaurant is Reef - a great seafood restaurant. Then he opened Little Bigs, sort of a "dive" specializing in sliders, and now he has Stella Sola, a "Texan-Tuscan" restaurant that we haven't tried yet but will soon. Now there's a brand new Tex-Mex place called "El Real" that just opened. It's like music to my ears.

Little Bigs has become one of our favorites. It's a tiny little building with big decks all around. They only sell sliders (mini-burgers). You can get a beef, chicken, and pulled pork. And french fries. And milkshakes. And that's all. But they do it SO well. Whenever I go and eat on the deck, I feel like I'm on vacation. Brent's birthday is Monday, so he is choosing what he wants to do this weekend. He chose Little Bigs for lunch and I could not have been happier. I had to do reading tutorials this morning, so I deserved a good lunch, don't you think?

After our lunch, Brent wisely chose to go for a walk. We drove to the best walking neighborhood in Houston: River Oaks. It's where the richest of the rich live, and I like to gawk. Judge me. You'll have to admit it makes for a great walk - wide streets, nice sidewalks, perfectly manicured lawns, and eye candy like this:
I meant the house and flowers, not me, but thanks for noticing that I look extra-nice in my t-shirt and walking capris. Appreciate it. Brent and I shamelessly stopped at some houses with our mouths literally open. We had the best time walking and talking. Great way to spend an hour!
Sometimes you can only see this from the street. Haters.
But then sometimes you see THIS!!!
Good job, Houston. I commend you for your sliders, celebrity chefs, and neighborhoods where a girl can dream.


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