Friday, May 28, 2010

Food For Friday: Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Summer has arrived in Colorado and put me in the mood for fresh squeezed lemonade.  We've enjoyed many evenings lately sipping this ice cold treat on the back patio, surrounded by the sweet scent of lilacs drifting in on the summer breeze.  I think this recipe from Paula Deen has just the right amount of sugar, making it sweet, but leaving a hint of tartness and plenty of lemony goodness.  I thought it was the perfect recipe to share with you this holiday weekend!

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup fresh lemon juice (5 lemons)
7 cups cold water

In a pitcher, place sugar & hot water, and stir until sugar dissolves.  Add lemon juice and cold water.  Stir until mixed well.  Add a handful of ice and refrigerate until chilled.  Toss in a few lemon slices and stir before serving.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Food For Friday: Amber's Original Spinach, Bacon & Chicken Mac & Cheese

We have been in the mood for decadent mac & cheese ever since our visit to S'Mac in NYC.  Especially my husband.  We joke that in our house, food is a 6th love language.  I have a great recipe for a simple mac & cheese that is a perfect BBQ side dish, but we were craving something richer, heartier, and main dish worthy.
I set out to create my own original homemade macaroni & cheese recipe, inspired by the delicious dishes we had at S'Mac.  We were quite happy with the flavorful and creamy result!

3 cups uncooked whole wheat bowtie pasta (I used Barilla Plus Farfalle)
large handful fresh baby spinach
2-3 chicken breasts, chopped
4-5 slices bacon, chopped (you can substitute turkey bacon)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (can also use all purpose, but I like the added nutty flavor of whole wheat)
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon paprika
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar (separated)
1 cup shredded fresh parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used homemade)

Boil a pot of salted water and add uncooked pasta.  Boil for 10 minutes or until tender.  Add spinach and boil for an additional 2 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, chop chicken breasts into bite size pieces.  Spray a deep skillet with olive oil and saute chicken over medium heat until lightly browned and cooked through.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add the chopped bacon to the skillet and saute until brown & crispy.  Drain grease and put bacon on a couple of paper towels to soak up the rest of the grease.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add chopped onion to the skillet and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add butter and stir until melted, then saute onions in the butter for an additional 2 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add the whole wheat flour and whisk until fully mixed into the onions and butter.  Stir for about 1 minute, then slowly add the milk, whisking constantly over medium heat until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in the cayenne pepper, paprika and salt and pepper.  (I used a sea salt and pepper grinder and used about 3 turns of each.)  Add 1 1/2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar and 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and whisk until melted and well blended.  Mix in the chicken breast and bacon pieces, then add the cooked pasta and spinach.  Mix well until thoroughly coated.

Coat a large casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray, and put pasta mixture into the dish.  Sprinkle remaining shredded cheddar on top, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Sister Visit!

Last week, Truman's sister, Carita, flew in from Texas to visit us for a long weekend!  There were lots of late night talks catching up on life and time spent hanging out around the dinner table, but we also visited a few fun areas around the city.

After church on Sunday, we had a delicious brunch at the Coral Room in Highlands Square, and checked out a few of the shops around this charming, historic area.

We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at Cherry Creek and had gelato on the sunny cafe patio.  Spring was in bloom, even in the city.

Carita surprised Truman with a mold to make Spam Musubi, a popular snack in Hawaii that they enjoyed often during two summers they spent with students on mission trips in Hawaii.  After a stop at the Asian market down the street for ingredients, she taught him how to make Spam Musubi, so now he has to the needed supplies and skills to make it at home. 

(For those of you who are wondering, Spam Musubi is made of sushi rice, teriyaki grilled Spam, and seasonings wrapped in seaweed sheets.) 

Before Carita flew back to Austin, we had brunch at one of our favorite Denver breakfast spots, retro inspired Snooze.

We had a lot of fun having Carita in Denver and enjoyed that she had a chance to get a glimpse of our life and home here.  Thanks for coming to visit us, Carita!  We hope you come back sooner than later!