Blog writing and recipe development is time consuming. I'm not complaining, mind you. Nothing is more satisfying that inventing new flavors and serving it to hungry people. But sitting at my computer, writing out drafts, formatting the recipes, Photoshopping images...it all takes effort. And most of the time I am by myself.
But today, things changed. My friend Vicky, (who is now my landlord since we've moved in during the construction of our home,) asked me if I wanted some company while I work in my little office niche.
"How about some White Dog Therapy?" she happily suggested. "Someone to keep you company as you create!" What an awesome idea, I thought. And soon Duncan was leaping up the stairs to the bonus room to help me feel, well, "inspired."
I think I'm learning some valuable lessons by having a royal canine at my feet. First of all, if you want someone to pay attention to you, it helps if you are sporting a prop. Stuffed, preferably, and matted with slobber; yes..yes. That's it. Surely no one will ignore me now! And I find myself thinking that carrying around something in your jaw does indeed give you a sense of purpose.
Next, big, warm, dark, honest eyes are absolutely essential to being desired. I often wonder if he gets tired of having everyone say, "Awwww! You are the most beautiful dog, ever!" I doubt it...but I wonder.
But the kicker, that "I am a wise dog and I know all," strategy for getting people to do whatever you want, is to cuddle at the feet of said person and cuddle like there's nothing else on the planet you need to be doing. (Sans chasing squirrels.) I can tell you, it works for me.
So what did I do with all the furry inspiration? Was it a value added experience? Was I inspired to do something incredible? Yes, and no. Yes, because when you have more softness in your world, everything seems a little brighter and happier. No, because I couldn't seem to stop laughing and playing with Prince Duncan and quite frankly didn't get that much done.
Sounds like a perfect day to me.
RECIPE: Mexican Chicken Penne Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts
Serves 4 / Click here for printable version.
About 1.5 to 2 C uncooked wheat penne pasta
½ lb chicken breasts, skinless, cut into small chunks
¾ C corn, canned or frozen/thawed
1/3 C red onion, chopped finely
1 6.5 oz bottle marinated artichoke hearts
1 4 oz can Ortega chiles, drained and diced small
1/3 C sundried tomatoes in oil, cut into large chunks
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 T of taco seasoning mix
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T light olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Time your preparation so your chicken mixture is ready for your pasta RIGHT when the pasta is ready. Don’t let perfectly cooked al dente pasta cook longer!
In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the corn, onion and Ortega chiles, and a little salt and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and the taco mix, and keep the pan on medium and sauté until chicken is about halfway done, for about 3 minutes. Add the marinated artichoke hearts, oil and all, and the sundried tomatoes. Nestle the rosemary on top and let simmer for about 3-4 minutes until chicken is done. Add a little salt and black pepper. (The artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes are very salty, so you only need enough to balance the flavors.) When pasta is ready ladle the pasta in with a large spoon. It’s okay if a little of the pasta water gets added. Toss and serve with a bit of cracked black pepper on top and crusty bread!
I forgot how awful moving is. Awful. -- Aaargh! --- Bllllggggrrhhh. ---- OOOommmmmllllfffffkkkk. (And other grunting sounds.)
Yes, awful. And after 8 years it's even ickier because I'm getting older. That shrieking sound of a tape gun will echo in my head for months to come. So, only soft sounds for me until I stop quivering.
But now I am happy to report, it's done! We're out. We're closed!!! And all of our stuff is PACKED into 3 storage units until we finish our small cottage. Now... what to do during the transition? ---- COOK!!!
There are a lot of things that have to happen to fulfill a lifelong dream of building a home for ourselves. Permits, grading, septic fields, garages, and more. We're content to take it a day at a time, and relish just being alive and healthy. I think the key to enjoying the simple life is simply not having too many expectations. It's about noticing, as the movie says, "the collateral beauty" that exists in the midst of trouble. And I believe that. Everywhere are blessings and miracles. Even when you're stooped over a furniture dolly.
And in the meantime I know that what endures is nourishment. Especially nourishing others...my favorite thing. Because we are staying with friends, who have been gracious enough to open their home and tolerate having roommates until we transition into our trailer and construction begins, cooking lots of food will be easy.
So what did I cook in the midst of cardboard, inventory lists, and limited kitchen items?
READY? Let's eat!:
Sausage, Pepper, Peas and Pesto -- And PASTA!
I'm in love with She's Pesto fresh and local pesto. Just thaw it and make anything perfectly wonderful! I cooked some Jimmy Dean hot sausage, and added yellow pepper, peas, parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper and about 1/4 C of her pesto. Toss with olive oil if needed and garnish with basil. The best quick meal EVER.
Chicken with Baby Bellas, Port Wine
Potato Pepper Thai Soup
A bag of potatoes and some coconut milk was the inspiration for this hearty soup. And it doesn't need any meat to feel and taste so satisfying.
Russets, red pepper, gorgeous purple asparagus and sweet onion swim happily in a sauce of olive oil, butter and the coconut milk. Flavored with fresh ginger, curry powder, a little thyme, and a sprinkling of cilantro, try this no-meat dinner as soon as you can!
Watch my short video about getting comfy in the kitchen.
Click the image to buy the book!
Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
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