A Valentine’s Day (and Everyday) Reminder

A Valentine’s Day (and Everyday) Reminder

Hi all. I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted. Life…am I right?

I just wanted to post a thought here because we’re constantly reminded, but fail to really see the signs and it hit me like a semi-truck a little while ago.

I had run into Hwy 55 to order my lunch and then run next door to Lowe’s Foods to get everything I needed to make dinner for my wife for Valentine’s Day and some roses as well. I got the pork chops from the butcher (special cut), grabbed the green onions, apples, and potatoes from produce. I grabbed the hard cider from the beer isle and then the stone ground mustard. That’s right…she wanted Irish Pork Chops with Champ potatoes (one of her favorites). I grabbed some roses and paid the cashier.

Anyway, I went back to pick up my lunch and I hear the waitress talking to the cook about the elderly woman that just left. The waitress said, “I really just want to cry now. That was so sad.” I listened as she said that the elderly woman, we’ll call her Emma, was sitting in a booth, eating her lunch alone. As Emma stood up to leave, she spoke to the waitress and expressed sadness that she had no one to cook for her for Valentine’s Day anymore. It turns out, her husband had just died 6 months ago.

The waitress said, “I’m sure our cook would cook for you!” to which Emma replied, “I wonder if he really would if I asked.” Emma then just walked out he door and left. The cook said, “I would have cooked for her, of course I would have!” but Emma was long gone.

I heard this and started to tear up, thinking about spending my Valentine’s Day without my wife; not just alone like some friends I have who have not found someone with whom to spend their lives, but without my other half; without my soul mate, who had passed away and left me alone to live out the rest of my days.

I can’t imagine how that feels and I hope I never have to find out, but I had wished that I had been there a few moments earlier to offer to cook dinner for Emma in addition to my wife. I would have loved to have heard about her life and her life with her husband if it comforted her to talk about him. All I know is, that this was a life-lesson hitting me in the face and screaming, “Even if very few people read your blog, post this and remind them to remember what’s most important in life.”

Family. Family is the most important thing in life. Remember, today and every day, to not only love and appreciate those you love, but to show them how you feel. Life is fickle and human beings are fragile. A blink of an eye and it could all be gone. Life is too short not to spend it showing those for whom you care so much, just how much you love and care about them whether it be through food, drink, conversation, poetry, or something completely different.

Love your family and show them how much they mean on Valentine’s Day and every day for we will be gone far sooner than we realize.

Sláinte.

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Hurricane Matthew Relief – Donations

Hi all. I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this before, but as you know, a couple of weeks ago Hurricane Matthew made its way up the east coast. It caused a LOT of damage and flooding to southeastern North Carolina, specifically Robeson County and surrounding areas including Pembroke, Lumberton, Goldsboro, and Fayettville.

For those who don’t know, Robeson County is the poorest county in NC. The people there didn’t have much to begin with and they most certainly don’t have flood insurance to replace what they’ve lost. My wife and I took down 2 truckloads and 1 5×8 trailer load of clothing, food, water, toiletries, diapers, formula, books, shoes, coats, and anything else that we could gather from our local community to the distribution centers in Lumberton to aid these people who need help. And they need whatever they can get.

In an effort to help as much as we could, not only did we get those donations of necessities, but we also raised $1,000 through PayPal by contacting our employers and community to help in any way they could.

This post is to ask that if anyone reads this that can help these people, please do so. Below is the name and address of the organization to which we gave the monetary donations and the clothing etc. I am also leaving links to two other non-profits in addition so you can choose to whom you would like to aid. Feel free to comment below if you helped out!! Thank you all so very much for reading and caring!

 

Robeson County Church and Community Center

600 W 5th St., Lumberton, NC 28358

 

Robeson County Emergency Management – PayPal fund

https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=IflJjii-2Q2vdMs5SBGoQmGaX6koZ4pSZpOdGzC0Z1taE5_tHSQQctC5BTd5TjIjVvnwGW

 

City of Lumberton Disaster Relief Fund – GoFundMe (be advised, GoFundMe takes a portion of the donations)

https://www.gofundme.com/lumberton-nc-disaster-relief-2tyspfpb

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Thank you to all who helped us gather so much to help the people of Robeson County!

Sláinte!

New Ink!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to post a quick update with my new tattoo! It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. We went up to the western part of the state to see my in-laws for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and Albert Martinez just happened to be working at Ace of Spades Tattoo and Piercing in Asheville, NC. Albert has been travelling around, living the life, and tattooing at different shops around the country. He’s known for his amazing shading and line work, and I told him what ideas I’ve had floating around in my head and sketched up a custom design “blueprint” and then put it on my left forearm.

The tattoo is a Celtic tree of life, which has much meaning in Celtic culture and history, with a Trinity Knot being the base of the roots. There is so much detail in this tattoo (that unfortunately may not show yet in these pictures as it is still healing) in the trunk and limbs; it twists and turns with time as this tree is old and has withstood the test of time and continues thriving.

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I looked at the above “blueprint” and thought it looked great, but I was worried that it was a little too generic. I don’t want a tattoo that is a fad or that other people have. But I know Albert and I trust him when he says it will look amazing and so much better than the sketch shows.

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I’d say he was right 🙂

After the redness of my skin fades from the starburst effect around the trunk and the lines heal of the scabbing etc. it will be amazing.

Luck and life to all!

Sláinte!

Stuffed Cajun Chicken Breast with Dirty Rice

Stuffed Cajun Chicken Breast with Dirty Rice

Hey everyone! So I decided to try something new a few weekends ago when we had a couple of friends over for dinner, drinks, and card games (Cards Against Humanity, Uno, and The Oregon Trail card game). I looked up chicken recipes and came across this online. I don’t remember exactly where I got the recipe, but I thought I’d re-post it so that everyone could enjoy it like we did! And like I said before, I’m not above using rice from a box or using frozen veggies or canned food. The key is getting the most flavor that you can out of EVERYTHING you cook. Enjoy!

Stuffed Cajun Chicken Breast

4 chicken breasts, butterflied

1/4 onion, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Fresh mushrooms, sliced (about a cup)

shredded pepper jack cheese

Irish butter

Cajun seasoning (Louisiana Cajun seasoning is what I used)

Olive oil

Toothpicks

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Put some olive oil in a pan on medium-high. Sauté the green and red peppers, onion, and mushrooms in the olive oil until cooked through and the onions are slightly transparent.
  3. Butterfly the chicken and place a pinch of shredded pepper jack cheese on one side of the chicken. Add a spoonful of the bell pepper, onion, and mushroom mixture. Top with another pinch of pepper jack cheese.img_20161008_183911653_burst000_cover
  4. Fold the chicken breast over and secure by putting toothpicks at an angle around the chicken where the edges of the butterflied chicken meet.img_20161008_184526969img_20161008_184016840
  5. Place the chicken breasts in a greased baking dish and season with Cajun seasoning. Once the chicken breasts are covered, top each one with a knob of Irish butter.
  6. Bake the chicken breasts for between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on your oven.
  7. Serve with Zatarain’s Dirty Rice (yes, from a box) and top the chicken with the leftover peppers, onions, and mushrooms if you would like.img_20161008_193213435

Sláinte!

The Correct Way to Make a Reuben

So recently I went to a New York-style deli that is known for serving great food. The Reuben I ordered was good, but it wasn’t the best I had ever eaten. I knew it wouldn’t be and let me tell you why: I watched them take the premium Boar’s Head corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese and MICROWAVE it!! Blasphemy!!

So…to make a great Reuben sandwich, you’ll need:

1/4 lb. Corned Beef

1/4 lb. Sauerkraut

2 slices of Swiss cheese

Thousand Island dressing

Irish butter

Rye bread

A skillet

A metal mixing bowl

1/4 cup of water

Place the corned beef in the skillet on medium heat and start to warm it up. Put the sauerkraut on top of the beef (drain the kraut first), and as it starts to simmer, pour the water in the pan around the beef and turn the metal mixing bowl upside down over the beef and kraut so that it steams. After about 10 seconds, remove the bowl and put the cheese over the beef and kraut and replace the bowl over the top for about another 10 seconds. When you remove the bowl, the cheese should be nice and melted over the beef and kraut. Use a spatula to scoop up the sandwich contents and place it on a slice of rye bread that has been spread with Thousand Island dressing. Please the other slice of rye (again spread with dressing) on top to make the sandwich and wipe out the skillet with a couple of paper towels. Melt a knob of Irish butter and grill the sandwich in the skillet on both sides as you would grill a grilled cheese sandwich. Set the sandwich on a cutting board after grilled to golden brown on both sides and slice in half. Enjoy!

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Sláinte!

Quick and Delicious French Toast

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So I figured I’d try my hand at making french toast and the best way to do this is to just dive in and try it. You’ll need:

4 pieces of bread (thicker, if you’d like)

2 Eggs (I use brown eggs)

Heavy cream (or milk)

Vanilla extract

White granulated sugar

Ground cinnamon

Ground nutmeg

Irish butter

Place a pan on the stove and heat on medium heat. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and pour in a bit of cream (maybe 1/4 cup), 1 tsp of vanilla, 1/2 tsp sugar,  1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Beat well until blended. Place a knob of Irish butter into the preheated pan and melt. Dip the slices of bread into the mixture so that all sides are coated. Place the bread, 2 slices at a time, into the buttered pan and cook until brown on both sides such that the bread isn’t soft and flimsy anymore.

Serve on a plate with pancake syrup or pure maple syrup and dust with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. If you use maple syrup like I do, go EASY on the confectioner’s sugar as maple syrup is very sweet.

The whole process takes maybe 10-15 minutes.

Sláinte!

I’m Such a Slacker – Catching Up

I’m Such a Slacker – Catching Up

Yeah, yeah…I know, I know…where the hell have I been, right? I’ve had a lot going on lately, as I’m sure everyone does, but my work schedule has changed as well. I am now working 12-hour days Mon-Fri so by the time I get off work, I don’t feel like cooking very often and I haven’t gotten the drive to post about the meals we’ve made since my last post. However, tonight is the night that the drive returned after an easier day at work.

Spicy Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

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So this Blue Apron meal was a spin-off of a classic Southern dish, and one of my favorites, Shrimp N Grits. My wife and I agreed, though, that although this looked pretty, it did not taste as good as the real thing. The shrimp was cooked in a tomato paste sauce with some spices and the grits were cooked with cheddar cheese and sweet corn. I liked the corn in the grits a lot, but my wife was not impressed. Basically, we’d rather have the shrimp sauteed with onion, green bell peppers, chilis, creole seasoning, and bacon.

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Spicy Hoisin Chicken with Rice and Asian Cucumber Salad

This one was one of the best meals I’ve gotten from Blue Apron. It was great to make sticky white rice the way it’s supposed to be made along with some delicious, spicy, Asian-style chicken and a fresh salad.

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The salad was made with cucumbers, scallions, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper.img_20160912_133919919_hdr

The hoisin chicken was made with sesame oil, chicken, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, hoisin sauce, scallions, bok choy, and sambal oelek chili paste.img_20160912_133853960_hdr

All together now:

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Barbecue Sloppy Joe with Green Bean Saladimg_20160913_205717317

This one was browned ground beef and garlic, all cooked and simmered in barbecue sauce, on a grilled bun. The green bean salad was dressed with diced shallot, apple cider vinegar, diced tomatoes, and whole grain mustard.

 

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted, all. I’ll try to make sure it isn’t a regular thing :p

Sláinte!