Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Hiatus is Over!

Happy June everyone!

I've been away from blogging for several months, for a variety of reasons, but I'm back now, and have PLANS. Don't I always? But this time, I actually have thought out my plans and have a real intention of executing them!

You may notice that the sidebar introduction changed a while back. Mari will eventually join me in co-authoring the blog (and you will reap the benefits, as she is a baker extraordinaire!) when her schedule eventually permits. She's recently been promoted, and is carrying the workload of several people at the moment, in addition to all of her other activities, which I'll let her go into more detail about.

As for myself, I actually haven't done a whole lot of cooking/home improving/adventuring. I've been completely swamped by life - so much so that my family and friends have commented that they don't know how I'm doing it. I'm not sure either, but I feel like I've been running for months now! Let's see, since we last saw each other:

  • I was cast in (and choreographed) my first operetta, an early Gilbert & Sullivan piece called "The Sorceror". It was a small production, but full of talent, including Dave & Mari, who were in leading roles, and an old theater friend, Jim, who I last acted with 11 years ago!
  • I also auditioned for one of my "bucket list" shows at a theater known for putting on high-quality shows, and was cast in a small part (which has more lines and more dancing than I originally expected). So right now I'm in rehearsals 3-7 days a week for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - and I couldn't be more excited!
  • On the work front, big changes have been happening. My company was acquired by another firm last summer, and so the last year has been all about transitioning both companies into a mega corporation. Back in March, I was actually offered a new position, and, given that I felt I'd grown stagnant in the job I'd held for 7 1/2 years, I jumped at the opportunity. Although I'm still sitting at the same desk in the same office, I have a new boss and entirely new responsibilities. The new job comes with challenges - it can be high-stress, have fits and spurts of insanely long hours, and has immovable deadlines that are dependent upon me wrangling a bunch of engineers who are reluctant to follow my schedules. On the other hand, I love the work and the challenges it presents, my new boss is wonderfully supportive and flat-out awesome, and I'm learning new skills every week!
  • On the home front, we finished framing out the basement (or, at least, the part we were working on), and then my furnace died, requiring a pricey repair and killing my basement budget. We're hoping to get back into it later this year, if the schedule eventually permits.
Now, on to the good stuff!

When I bought my house, I insisted that my parents (mostly Mom) cede a holiday or two for me to host. She wanted to keep the big holidays, so I got Thanksgiving and Memorial Day.

I didn't do any culinary inventing for my annual Memorial Day cookout this year, but I found some truly awesome recipes that were a big hit, and very yummy (I've been drowning in leftovers, but it's hard to get upset when it tastes that good)!

Memorial Day Menu:
Slow Cooker Corn-Jalapeno Bacon Dip - It didn't really fit in with the rest of the menu, but it was so delicious, no one cared! Note - cut the cream cheese into chunks so that it will melt faster!

BBQ Chicken - No recipe, just grilling chicken outside, then slathering it with my favorite Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce for the last 5-10 minutes on the grill. You can't go wrong!

Grilled Parmesan Corn on the Cob - I wasn't going to do this, because of the Corn Dip appetizer, but I found an insane sale on corn on the cob, and couldn't pass it up! I melted 4oz butter, and added 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 Tbsp parsley, and 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese. After completely shucking the corn, I brushed the mixture onto each ear and grilled until done. Yum!

Smoky Panzanella with Market Vegetables - eating leftovers of this dish every day since Memorial Day probably explains why I've regained 3lbs in the last 8 days, but it's so fresh and scrumptious, who can blame me? If you can't find smoked mozzarella, don't worry - I used regular and it's still fabulous!

Ricotta Orzo - this was also the first time I had cooked with leeks, but it won't be the last! This dish seemed to be everyone's favorite of the day. I just loved that it was a new twist on the standard pasta salad!

Did you notice that I didn't have any desserts on my menu? That's because that's what all of my guests wanted to bring! Shawn brought Ghiradelli brownies, Mom made a Banana Split Cake, and Mari treated us all to Caramel Apple Pie mini-cupcakes.

Did I mention that I had regained some of the weight I lost?

Anyway, thanks for checking in - leave a comment to let me know what you've been up to this spring. Here's to getting things back on track!