Cheers

It has been 363 days since my last blog post, and I’ve decided, at this nearing-one-year mark, that I will continue this investment in sharing the recipes and random thoughts I deem internet-ready. There have been several reasons for my absence, all more or less justifiable and unjustifiable, like being too busy or having only rare recipes worth sharing. In evidence of my excuses, it is true that I’ve since searched for and bought a house, moved in a specifically wonderful roommate, endeavored into the endlessly demanding world of DIY projects, began growing a garden (which has just nearly failed but not entirely and not yet), spent every dollar I’ve made at Home Depot (approximately), did enjoy several small to medium-sized vacations, and cooked almost everyday… things that didn’t seem especially notable.

But when I first started this blog, its intention was to share all of those recipes that I made everyday. I preferred posting about recipes that utilized prevalent pantry items, or involved maybe only 2-3 “new” ingredients, or featured a skill that was actually much simpler than it sounded. After all, this was supposed to be about dinner for Brian, and he’s barely 21. So! With that all in mind, here I come, ready to share on a probably-inconsistent-but-hopefully-relevant basis some things I find delicious and easy and interesting and filling. I even have a taste-tester with whom I share at least 60% of my meals, so in consideration of his sign-off, I have twice the sample size to substantiate my confidence.

This recipe I’m sharing not because it’s astoundingly amazing or challenging (in fact, like most drink recipes, it’s more of a recommendation), but because it makes use of my first-grown vegetable from my garden, the jalapeno! I’m taking this hobby as a point of learning and interest rather than successful product yield, because I am as expected not overwhelmingly talented at gardening. These jalapenos and the (possible) 2 tomatoes I hope to harvest may very well be the only products of my once-was 12-vegetable planter bed. But I’ve researched garden tactics and read almost every pertinent page of the farmer’s almanac, so I’m already feeling excited for the fall growing season. I can’t wait until I’m the most expert elderly woman tending to the community garden following my 50+ years of eventual experience with raised planter beds.

Below is the simplest drink ever, that’s so surprisingly spicy it mandates very small frothy sips, followed by the coolly cleansing taste of fresh watermelon. On Monday, Brian’s 21st birthday, I’ll allow him to try (as he has never had alcohol ever. Of course).

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Watermelon Jalapeno Cooler

Makes 1 glass

1 cup watermelon, cubed, frozen

2 oz jalapeno vodka

  • 1 whole jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 cup vodka (I used Tito’s)

Add the watermelon and jalapeno vodka to a blender and blend until frothy and smooth. Drink and enjoy!

Grilling Out

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted here, but for good reason. I’ve been literally making dinner for Brian! Having Brian and other family as visitors for the past 2 weeks (well, this past week I was just catching back up) was great. Chicago for the most part agreed to a seasonable weather forecast, and we celebrated with a good mix of tourist attractions and neighborhood gelato visits. Brian ate up almost every morsel of delivered food, be it from my kitchen, the delivery guy, or the restaurants at which we dined. And I loved every minute of it.

On the first weekend, when my apartment was bursting at the seams with guests (in a great way), we grilled out by my pool. It was unfortunately one of the coolest, windiest evenings of the week, but the hearty food and beer made up for it. Brian obliged by drinking sparkling water. I’m definitely a novice griller, and certainly not one to give a mountain of advice. However, some simple preparations for the vegetables and chicken really turned out well. The pictures from this night are horrible, but let the grainy shots demonstrate the darkness and reality of the evening. I’ll save the nice photos for when I’m not trying to listen intently to Brian explaining music theory at 9pm. There are more important things.

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Grilled Vegetables

1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 in. discs

4 portobello mushroom caps

2 zucchini, sliced longitudinally

4 bell peppers, sliced into quarters

4 tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

First, slice the eggplant. Salt lightly and allow to rest in a colander or strainer for 20 minutes. Rinse and dry. Prepare the vegetables by slicing and coating with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill for about 20 minutes over direct heat, or until vegetables are softened and grill marks are dark and delicious.

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Grilled and BBQ Chicken

2 lbs. chicken thighs

3/4-1 cup BBQ sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper, to taste

Marinate 1 lb. chicken thighs in BBQ sauce for at least 2 hours. Coat the remaining 1 lb. of chicken thighs in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over direct heat for about 30 minutes, basting the BBQ chicken with additional BBQ sauce while grilling. Move to indirect heat if edges are darkening faster than the interior has cooked.

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Mojito Fruit Salad

1 small watermelon, cubed

2 pints raspberries

1 quart strawberries, halved

1 lime, juiced

1 tbsp. honey

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Whisk together the lime juice and honey. Add the chopped fruit and toss. Sprinkle mint and toss together. Serve cold.

 

Together, with some beer and potato chips, this made for one good grill out session. Totally fueled us after a day of touring the classic Chicago sights…

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Concert in Millenium Park

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Bean photo-ops with the bro