spicy grilled vegetable gazpacho

whelp, here we are smack dab in the middle of summer.

 

I I hope y’all had a fun  and safe holiday weekend.  Mine was a welcomed quiet time.  After a little bit of long overdue retail therapy, I found myself craving gazpacho .

I dug out my Original gazpacho recipe

as well as my Roasted veggie gazpacho

and kinda played around and came up with

spicy grilled vegetable gazpacho 

it’s similar to my roasted veggie one, but I played around with the flavors just a bit

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Spicy gazpacho ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil

4 Roma tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced

1 sweet white onion, peeled and quartered

1 habanero pepper

1 red bell pepper, halved

1 garlic cloves, not peeled

1 lime, halved

small bunch each of flat leaf parsley and dill

1 can of whole tomatoes ( I used some I canned last summer.  Buy the best tomatoes that you can find. Where this isn’t cooked  you want the best tomato flavor that you can get.  San Marzano is a great choice)

1/4 cup good Olive oil ( same reason as the tomatoes)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

sea salt, white pepper, freshly cracked black pepper

 

place  cukes, salt, pepper and white pepper in a high speed blender and let sit.  The salt will start to draw the moisture out of the cucumber, making for a smooth base since the cukes will have started to break down.  Alternatively, you can use a food processor if you don’t have a high speed blender, you’ll just have to make the soup in batches.

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Preheat grill to medium  heat.  Place an oven safe stoneware dish on the grill with the coconut oil . Season with salt and pepper and coconut oil will melt. Remove from heat and place veggies on the grill using  a basting brush, brush the coconut oil mixture atop veggies

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Flip the veggies after a few min and brush other side with oil mixture

Note~ each vegetable will cook at its own pace. Here, my tomatoes and habanero cooked first.  Once you see the carmalization ( those black lines are the sugars condensing and imparting a deeper flavor than raw vegatables). Transfer veggies to a plate .

 

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Now, let’s build this!

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Place the grilled veggies on top of the cucumbers. Add dill and parsley.

 

Purty, eh?

 

Next add the canned tomatoes with their juice

 

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Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a handful of ice cubes.

Blend. ( or process in batches if using a food processor )

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I had to use my food pusher to get it started.  If you don’t have one, take a break every few seconds and use a spatula to free up the veggies until they move freely

 

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Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Squirt lime juice in as well.

Taste for salt and pepper.

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Let sit covered in fridge for at least an hour ( if you can 😜)

 

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You guys.  This soup is incredible! I started by only added 1/2 of the habanero, but found that I still wanted it spicier, so I ended up using the whole thing.  Start will small amount of pepper and add what tastes right for your level of heat.

 

I served it with a bit of Mexican crema, ( you can sub sour cream ) a bot of balsamic vinegar and lime juice

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Enjoy !

 

 

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thanksgiving 2014

How on Earth is it Thanksgiving time already? I swear it just turned y2k..

Like yesterday… right?

For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you may recall that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Not only the day itself, but the days leading up to the feast.

Life has changed drastically for us in the last few years, and the excitement of my whole family coming over is no longer a reality since we live so far away from any family.

I’m grateful this year that our youngest child was able to travel home for the week. She arrived from Providence last Saturday, and it’s been great to just have her here

My RYAN is halfway across the world studying in Scotland for a semester, and jamanda will be in Florida celebrating together. We will be missing the three of
them so much

This time of year can be very exciting, but also very depressing, depending of what the earlier part of your year had in store for you.

I have many friends and family going through tough times for one reason or another. It makes me sad, and I think about their individual situations a lot.

It makes me really stop and appreciate the little things in life, even when I think I’m having a bad day.

As we go forth in this holiday season, just take a second to think of others’ and send good wishes, whatever method works for you.

Tomorrow is big cooking day ( click the above Thanksgiving link if you have no idea what I’m talking about)

I decided to start a little early this year. I picked up my bird ( tiny.. 10 pounds… How do I even cook a turkey that small?) and made my brine IMG_1080.JPG

I’ve been BRININGfor about 10 years, and wouldn’t dream of skipping this important step.

There are so many reasons to do so.. I can elaborate if you’d like..

One of the coolest reasons? IMG_1082.JPG

I brine in this cooler.. I bought specifically for this purpose.. And what’s super-cool about this? My turkey never ever goes into the fridge! It frees up all of that precious fridge real – estate!

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Here’s this years’ bath 😁 ( with my yittle bird in there)

I’ve roasted the chestnuts

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And getting ready to peel them for dressing #1 tomorrow

I’ve made my creamed onions ( my favorite! )

And I’ve made my CRANBERRY SAUCE.. Although this year I made it in my vitamix… And it was awesomely easy and perfect!

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This years’ cranberry sauce is extra-special….

I received a knock on the door yesterday and a neighbor was holding a package addressed to me. It was from a dear friend, Laurie ..

Laurie sent me 2 pounds of organic cape cod cranberries and Eastham turnip! THANK YOU, Laurie! Oxox

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I am so grateful, as It was hard to find Massachusetts cranberries (which I’ve eaten my whole life ). ( last year my mom sent me some last mintue.. Thanks, mom! )

The other thing that I couldn’t find last year was Bell’s seasoning.. Something else With which I’ve grown up.

It took me 5 stores… But guess what I found today!!!

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It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it truly is.

I’m very exciting to make my two stuffings tomorrow!

I think in an overwhelming way I am thankful for not only my family, but my friends as well. I have some pretty fantastic friends, from all stages of my life. I have friends that I haven’t seen in almost 30 years, ( Wowzers!) and yet, we chat like it was just yesterday.

I have friends who are always there, regardless of time zone differences, and that I truly can talk to about anything, and vice-versa.

I have friends that I’ve met in the last year that I can’t imagine not having in my life. I look forward to spending time with everyone.

I have friends who have had layovers at DIA and because we are so close to the airport, I’ve been able to visit with them

I even had the pleasure of traveling to Austin this past September to stand next to a friend as she married the love of her life…. I’ve been friends with for years, but did not actually meet face to face until her wedding dress rehearsal!

If you know me then you know that I am who I am.

And I am truly blessed.

I’m working hard to keep TRADITION alive, despite all of our recent changes…

Like I said in my post about traditions ( click tradition link if I’ve lost you ) .. You don’t really realize when they are happening..

And in the same way, you don’t realize how dramatically we go through the stages of our lives until we are far into the next stage.

As always, thanks for reading. I’d love to hear some of your families’ traditions 🙂

Oxox
Michelle

Photo-fitness challenge week 2

Week 2 was not as successful as week 1 for me, but it was fun!

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Mother’s Day showered us with a snowstorm that headed into Monday, so the beginning of my week was not all that active

But, I found other ways to get some exercise …

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Puppy yoga!!!

I’m pleased to announce that I’m still on track for all of my challenges 🙂

My PT is going strong, and I am feeling like I’m on the right track 🙂

And, I know this isn’t me, but this weekend, my daughter and her best friends walked 40 miles and raised almost 6,000 dollars in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

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So very proud of these girls!

Keep moving, everyone!!!

my denver life

A good friend of mine said to me last week, ” I’m ready to start living my denver life ”

This thought has been going through my head since she said it.

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taking a break in the park with my crusier

This photo speaks volumes to me. In essence, it IS my denver life.

Today completes week one of the fitness- photo challenge!

aaaand..I’m pretty pumped with my progress!

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fitness- photo challenge week 1

The pup and I are both healing nicely, the weather has been amazing ( including a mothers’ day snowstorm, a little give from above to me )

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random biker on Cherry Creek Bike path

Ps… That’s not me or Scott 😉

And I’m excited to be so very motivated 🙂

Oxox. Shel

blooming nine-patch quilt

Happy new year and a month.

I go through spurts of being wordy, and I feel one about to start .

So here I go!

About 7-8 years ago I really wanted to learn how to quilt.  I had dabbled a little up until then, mostly self- taught with many, many mistakes and even more projects just tossed in the trash in frustration.

At the time, I had just met a neighbor of mine who had been a quilter for many years, and an absolutely wonderful woman.

She he had taken me to her home to show her quilt studio to me and I was blown away with how beautiful it was and even more stunning were her collection of quilts throughout her home.

She showed me this one quilt that she had made, Blooming  Nine-patch.  I was in love.  She convinced me that I could make it ( and I reaaally doubted her)

she he offered to go with me to help pick out my fabrics and she lent me her book with the pattern in it.

I had never attempted something this big and found myself overwhelmed, though I did keep working on it, often struggling to remember where I was in the whole quilt- making process.

Once I thought I had a good idea of what I was doing, my eldest son got married and I pushed my  quilt aside to make he and my daughter-in-law their wedding  quilt .

I’ve since made many lap quilts, and over the years I would go back and work on my quilt ( now dubbed Scott’s quilt because he was sure I’d never finish it abd it seemed to him like I made one for everyone but him. ). I would often get frustrated, work on it for a short time, then move on to something more  ‘instant-er’ gratification.

This past year has had life change direction dramatically for me and part of that includes my own sewing room and  a new years’ resolution to organize  Everything in it.

I fell shortly before Christmas while skiing with my family and had a lot of downtime while waiting for diagnosis and treatment plan ( trying to organize tests during Christmas week is not easy ) so I started on organizing my stash

( because it required a lot of sitting and that, my friends , was something that I could do )

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( my big helper, miss Fenway )

( more on that later, I did a lot of research on how to organize, and took bits and pieces of what I learned and applied it to my personal stash)

I found myself moving ‘Scott’s’ quilt, now about 90% done, from space to space! trying to move it out of my way.

And just like a lightening bolt from above, I decided that finishing this would be one of my new years’ resolutions .

After my surgery, I set the sewing machine up for free- motion, arranged the quilt in my machine and would hobble over with my crutches for about 10 minutes at a time, and slowly progressed …  And as of last night…

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..Completed.  When I talked to Ali on the phone this morning her response was, ” which quilt? Not THE quilt? Are you kidding ? Does dad know? ”  I won’t even get started woth the comments from my sister….

here are a few more photos of it.  I’m in love.

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I’m very proud of myself :). I know this blog has been about food, but I think it’s kind of taken a different turn.  Since I’ve become an empty-nester, my creativity feels like its exploded ( in a good way )

While going through my stash, I’ve come across fabrics left over from projects that I’ve made over the last few years and realize hoe few photos I’ve taken of finished projects, many of which I’ve given away as gifts

the tote bags that I made for my mother-in-law and grandmother- in law for Christmas a few years ago

the jeweler bags that I made my sister in laws and niece for Christmas this year

many of the quilts that I’ve made

the hooded towel that I made for my nephew’s little girl

I just never thought to take pictures and coming across the fabrics that I chose for the gifts made me smile and remember why I bought them

( Scott’s grandmother loves lighthouses and I searched for the perfect lighthouse print for her bag …  I found one little square of the print left in my stash )

sooo, 2014 will have me sharing my finished projects. And since blowing up my Facebook wall most likely has my non- crafter friends bored as a board, I’ll be sharing here !

I still love food, but a significant weight gain in the last year, combine with still healing from surgery is not very kitchen- friendly for me , so until then allow me to indulge in my out of control crafty side !

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I’ve spent 27 years being proud of my childrens’ accomplishments, today, I’m proud of mine 🙂

weekend away.

Good news! Scott and I have survived our first full week as empty nesters!   C’mon, you have to admit, it’s kind of funny that we are in our 40’s and that we have never lived alone.  Until now.

of course there’s fenway too, but I’m starting to think that she thinks I’m boring without any kids to pick on 😉

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but seriously now, I saw a billboard over the summer that boasted ” Snowmass Balloon Festival”  It showed all sorts of beautiful balloons effortlessly floating amongst the back drop of Autumn tinted mountains.  When I looked up the dates, and the rates of the hotel rooms and found that it was actually affordable, we did it. we booked our first weekend away.

And it was kind of a cluster.

for starters, we had planned on getting up early, going to the DMV ( for the 4th time) to try to get CO plates for the jeeps.  So there we were, bright and early, only 30 in line.  WE got to the desk and the lady informed us that we were missing a document.

Lovely. Um, by the way, that is NOT listed on the CO website..

And for the other jeep, documentation that I had been on the phone with MA registry the week before ( after begin on hold 26 minutes) and after the MA guy ASSURED me would be accepted, would not be.

again, lovely.

We headed home and found said paperwork, dropped Fenway off at the kennel and set back to the DMV. time #5. And 50th in line.

2 hours later, we have Co plates. Scott got the basic green & white mountains and I picked the in memory of Columbine plate. I often think of those victims ( even though that was years ) before Colorado would become part of our lives, and having the plate on Zola makes me feel like I’ve done something to show that.

So a total of 8 complete hours wasted at the DMV. you can buy pot on every street corner here, but you need to hand over your firstborn for plates.  ( my first born was not injured during this ordeal 😉

perhaps you are supposed to stop and smoke the weed before going to the registry?

Of course I am joking, and also have never smoked at all, so that part doesn’t interest me.

But spending 8 hours trying to get plates? that irked me.

Especially when on visit # 5, the lady that helped us told us that the paperwork that we went home to get that lady #4 told us we needed, lady # 5 told us we didn’t.

it’s all good. history now.

buuuut, it took us so long that we got on the road late. And with all of the devistating floods that have happened around us, we had a very long drive … about 2 hours longer than it should have taken us.

By dinner we arrived in Snowmass Village, it’s just outside of Aspen. We scored a great slope side room with a balcony ( free upgrade ) and the balloons were set to set up Sat night on the slopes ( sans snow)

We checked into our room and went to dinner at the hotel. we were the only ones there. It was weird. Even the waiter joked about how it was like the Shining around there. Apparently it is their off season from the end of August- Mid November. ( thus the great rate on the room )

I was kind of bummed, because I love to people watch, and the only people were us. We actually watched

while waiting for our food ( which was fantastic, over priced, but fantastic)

We went to bed early since the first of the balloon shows was early in the am.

So up early on Saturday and this is what we saw

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and of course that was followed by lots of rain. And guess who didn’t think to bring raincoats?

oops.  Since we were up and ready for the day, we drove into Aspen just to see it.

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just as we had expected it was a quaint  mountain- surrounded town

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I can only imagine how beautiful this must be in the winter….

We stopped for breakfast, tried to drive around to take pictures, then headed back to Snowmass, where we got coffee and sat inside looking out at the incredible rain.

After a while it let up a bit, so we walked around

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this was a giant chair.. I’m not sure why I didn’t take a pic of the whole thing.

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the outdoor ‘mall’ at snowmass. Again, how much fun would this be in the winter with snow? ( you can ski right into the resort and mall)

IMG_6090about his point, we both realized what we had feared, that we are incredibly boring people.

we went shopping in the mall area ( everything was on sale) but bought nothing because nothing fit me 😦

instead, we bought a deck of cards, went back to the room ( with intentions of going to the main lobby where the big fireplace was) but instead, I fell asleep.

I know, exciting, eh?

when I woke, it looked like the sun was peeking through, so we put on our hiking boots and went for a hike.  My weight loss has to start somewhere and nature calls to me.

I didn’t bring my camera or my phone, because I was convinced that The skies would open up on us. ( which they did not)

I think I saw bear poop. I mentally took note of it then looked it up when I got back. TMI? perhaps. but I was curious

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I have an injured leg that has developed into nerve issues. Although I have been cleared by the doctor for physical activity, certain thing just suck. Like any sort of incline at all.  So this hike, although not intense, was really hard for me. And discouraging. But it’s a start. and since this came in today

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( our season ski passes.. do I ski? lol.. we will find out! )

 

I need to build my leg strength up starting somewhere.

After the hike ( which Scott later informed me that we had in fact barely gained any altitude ;( ) we went to the Mexican restaurant overlooking the slope for happy hour. $5 fresh juice margaritas? yes, please.

we also ordered a bunch of happy hour snacks for dinner ( making up for the over priced meal the night before) and then something cool happened

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the weather cleared! ( at least where we were)  and a band set up on the slope

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and one by one the balloons started to arrived and set up!

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and people too!   I was finally able to people watch!

Notice everyone’s winter coats? guess what else we didn’t bring….

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we went back to our room ( warmth) and listened to the band play out from our awesome free- upgraded balcony ( which made it even sweeter)

We had every intention of getting up early Sunday to go see the balloons go off again, but in the middle of the night, I got the WORST headache that I’ve had in years. It actually woke me up.

I went to take ibuprophen and guess what? it was with the rain coats and winter coats.

( how dis I managed to travel without it? oh yeah, 8 hours at the DMV)

I ended up having to put cold washcloths on my forehead, It was intense.

I’ve had 2 migranes in my life, and it’s been 20 years since I’ve has one.  This ended up going away after breakfast on it’s own, so I don’t think it was, but it was pretty darn close.

So when the alarm went off for us to go watch the launch, there was no way 😦

a few hours later when we were ready to check out, we did get these pics from our balcony

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I felt badly that we didn’t go down there, but I think it;s good that we didn’t because It gave me a chance to rest my head.

( btw, this had nothing to do with the margaritas, this was a whole ‘nother beast entirely)

So we headed out through Aspen, stopping for coffee for him and tea for me, then we drove home through Independence pass, part of the ‘ top of the Rockies roadway’.

We stopped at a ghost town

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the pictures do not do this justice.. the whole area was simply breathtaking

IMG_6280this is an actual archealogical site, so there was all sorts of old glass and nails around with signs that warned against touching… but pictures were ok 🙂

we slowly made our way home, and it felt nice to curl up and watch ( well, Scott watch, me try to understand) the football game.

Sorry this post was so long, I like to share things like this for our family members who are so far away, so that they feel a little closer to us 🙂

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Tonight I’m headed to a quilting guild. I still haven’t met a soul here, and that is getting a little disheartening.. more on that later.

I’ve been adjusting to cooking for 2, thus the lack of food posts, but they will be back, I promise. I’ve been spending lots of time walking ( strengthening leg, entertaining Fenway) and quilting.

I’d love to show you what I’m making, but it’s for someone who is reading, so I want to surprise. As soon as it’s received, I’ll post it.

pinky promise

meanwhile, I’m sending tons of prayers to all those affected by the recent floods. The Denver Post called it a Biblical storm.  It’s just been crazy.  If this had been snow it would have been 80 inches!  So many people have lost so much. I just cannot imagine.

until next time…

xoxoxoxox

creamy roasted onion & red pepper sauce.

well, there you have it, friends.. Ryan picked the winner 🙂

I should have added that we both thought that the other 2 finalists deserved to be there as well, We were just happy with the winner & very excited to see her new show!

Before I share my recipe I just had something else to ramble about.  Since we have known about the move there have been signs and connections everywhere.. things that we would not have noticed before. I now call it the Boston- Denver connection. It’s crazy how this has affected us.

everything from Our tour guide at PC last summer being from Fort Collins , Co, to another school where we sat next to a family form Denver and another family from Portland ,Oregon ( where Ry goes to school) To a man on cape cod from CO being bit by a shark last summer

I know far fetched, but everywhere we turned, there were connections.

I know… ramble, ramble, ramble…

Ryan and I have been watching Food Truck wars on food network.  ( season from 2011.. found it on demand)

Well about the 3rd or 4th city, they came to Denver.

needless to say, I was stoked to see this episode.

And it did not disappoint.

One of the food trucks was from Boston ( a grilled cheese truck.. YUM!)

I was very excited to hear name drops of local places throughout this episode.

At one point the Boston truck went to a park to set up at a park. THE  park that I live right around the corner from!!!!  I was sooo excited to see this ( and REALLY wished that I had been here for that )

I swear I was like a little kid watching this 😉

So until you can come to visit me ( and you should ~ I have room and would spoil you 😉 ) If you have access to on demand food network, and you can find the episode, about halfway through, you can see footage of Washington park.

Ok.. ramble over

now.. for a tasty sauceImage

1 pepper, roasted ( you can used a jarred one, but roasting is FUN! )

1 TBSP roasted garlic *

1/2 onion, thick sliced

1/4 bunch cilantro

leaves from 1 sprig of thyme

1/4 cup olive oil

1 TSBP balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup low fat cream cheese

 

( did not use the hatch pepper in the picture in this recipe)

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To roast your pepper, just place over a fire source.  I used my burner, but a grill outside would be fine, as would and open campfire.

Allow to get black, rotating with tongs.

When sufficient blackage has occurred, remove and place in a paper bag and seal tightly. ( this allows it to steam and the skin to become loose. ) If using jarred  peppers, eliminate these steps.

 

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Brush the onion slices with olive oil & season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until onions are soft.  Set aside.

To roast garlic, , take a whole bulb and cut the top off. Place on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil . Place on grill for 20-25 minutes or until garlic gets soft  ( alternatively, you could cook onions and garlic in the oven like I did HERE )

 

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when garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the bulbs onto a cutting board and using the side of a chef’s knife, press into a paste

 

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for this recipe we only needed about a tablespoon, but this yummy goodness will keep for a few days, and I have another recipe this week that you will want roasted garlic for, so get down with your bad self and roast the whole darn thing !

 

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next, add all ingredients except for the cream cheese to a blender and blend.

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pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add cream cheese and stir to melt

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I used this sauce as a topper for a fajita- kinda taco using THIS recipe.

 

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just look at this sauce…

 

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so much flavor in a tiny bowl….  And FYI, I did have a little bit left over and it made an excellent dip with veggies the next day 🙂

 

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thanks for reading.. and let me know if you make this.. I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂

while the kids are away…

Mom and dad will play!

Well.. Kinda.

Ry and Ali went to visit Jamanda for a week, leaving Scott and I ( and Fenway) with our first * taste* of our empty nest.

What’s really strange is that this is the very first time that Scott and I have lived alone !

We’ve done a lot of this …

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And this….

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And this…..

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We drove up to the mountains , with the hopes of going hiking… but got immediately rained on 😦

We unpacked some boxes…

we went to REI flagship store…

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SOOO cool!

we spent the afternoon each finding just the right pair of hiking boots..

we found an art festival right around the corner from our house

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We took Fenway with us, south to Colorado springs to a place called Gardens of the Gods… beautiful rock formations to ‘hike’ all around..

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we stopped for lunch

we saw a snake… ( yuck)

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I know none of this sounds horribly exciting, but it’s a start.  I did get my new grill this weekend so I have been playing ALOT!  I have a bunch of recipes to share but i am struggling SOOO fsr-eak-en badly with the technology part of this.  I’m researching other options.. this is downright maddening!

I had much more too share with you in this post, but it has taken me almost 2 hours to post this little bit. UGH!

I will leave you with a few more pics of our Sunday… Hopefully I will get this figured out soon..

oxox ~ shel

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painted dreams

I’m painting Ali’s room ( with a super- fun idea… More info to come soon 🙂 and it just occurred to me how much of what is happening right now is truly a dream come true .

More to come soon. I’ve been struggling with WordPress this week. I have a bunch of partial posts … Don’t be surprised if a whole bunch come at once

Lots of pics soon! I’ve been going non stop unpacking and decorating ..

House tour soon!

Oxox

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home

At long last…..

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