Getting home

There must have been one rockin' party here the night before because it seems they were partying til the cows came home.  I have never seen this many cows leaving anyone's house before!  There might be only a few in this shot, but about 20-30 cows walked out of this driveway and then down the street.  It was a good way to leave the island, so typical.
Now, with the time change this weekend for Europe, someone had the bright idea to allow everyone an extra hour of sleep and set the plane time back 1 hour from the usual, meaning we got there a whole hour early because when I called, well, the person on the phone had no idea of this change and told me to show up at the usual time.  Well, this just meant Ryan and I could go out to breakfast.
Yep, that is a giant cup of canned pineapple, but it only cost $1 and so I couldn't resist even though it was canned.
This is so hard to tell, but this was the first time I ever saw a rainbow from this angle, looking down.  We were actually above the rainbow.  This was just after we took off from the island, so you are looking at the middle of the Atlantic Ocean right now.
I love that they feed you on this flight.  Snacks to start.
I was super excited that they had sprite zero.
Early on I asked the flight attendant if there was a veggie meal, and she said no, but if I ate fish I could have her meal because she already ate.  So I say a BIG thank you to her because I got to enjoy a meal.  Since there is a lot here, I did save some for later.  The flight isn't that long, but it is long enough.
Here is my fish entree.  It was actually pretty good.
Bean and chick pea salad.
Mmmm, the final snack of the flight.  I must confess, this is my favorite part of the flight.
I see land!  It's the USA!
So, that brings me to being home now.  This is where the fun begins and I get all kinds of goodies.  First up were these old books that my mom salvaged from my grandparents.  I have wanted these books from the time I was very young.  These are the Harvard Classics collection, printed in 1909.  I used to read these with my grandpa when I was little.  The first Shakespeare play i ever read was an edition from the late 1800's/early 1900's.  I need to go search for those right now.  My copy of Cyrano is from 1909 too I think, or maybe 1919.  I love these books.
Then my sister brought me goodies to share with her.  The boxes were half price at Whole Foods the other day.
Oh yes, she bought me my true passion in life...Crazy Richard's PB.  I am officially stocked up.
Dinner Sunday night was with my sister and some friends, old and new.  We went to Golden West Cafe in Hampden (Baltimore, MD).  Lots of vegetarian and vegan items on the menu.
The sign is so hard to read with the lights behind it, but it is still very cute.
Um, why were we sitting under the moose?  I guess if it rained inside, we might have stayed dry!
I ordered the breakfast polenta topped with tofu chorizo: yellow cornmeal mixed with parmesan and egg, then lightly fried until crispy. served with two fried eggs, tortilla, salsa fresca and chile sauce.  Oh the tofu chorizo was spicy.  Our friend Sam ordered this too, but with veggie sausage. 
My sister ordered the Vietnamese Warm Shrimp Salad: Sauteed with sweet onions and garlic over crisp romaine, fresh mint, cucumber, cool rice noodles, silvered carrots, crushed peanuts and nuoc cham sauce on the side.
Marty ordered, oh well, I tried to remember that one.  I know my sister will probably leave a comment on this post and let me know a) I am dumb*** and b) she will tell us what Marty ordered.  Well, at least I know he ordered the sweet potato fries!
Mer and Matt had eaten somewhat recently and decided beverages were a better option.
Ok, so that was my first night home, and then on my first full day home, which was Monday, I hit up the good stores.  My sister and I went to Target and then to Trader Joe's where I was able to get these awesome items.
Monday night was the first Passover Seder, which is why I came home to visit, but I think I will wait and get those pictures up in a separate post.

QUESTIONS:  Do you like to fly?  Where was the last place you flew to?  Do you have any really old books?

Extreme Comfort Food, From Scratch

Hello everyone!  I am happy to say Ryan and I fit in a from scratch meal this week before I headed home to the States.  Yes, that's right, I am in the US right now.  But before I could go, we had to make a delicious meal from scratch because the previous weekend was just too hectic, and I am out of town for 2 weeks, so we just had to squeeze this one in.

Comfort food can be many things to different people, but for me, my ultimate comfort food, well other than chocolate, is macaroni and cheese.  I could eat this every day, all day, and still want more.  Since I love this dish and it is such a classic, we decided to do this from scratch. 

Here are the recipes:
We started with the egg pasta dough so we could make the macaroni noodles.
Ryan did the pasta extruding, but after a few he realized that there might be a better way than the directions, which stated to let a 6-8 inch strand extrude and then use a knife to cut them.  Well, there may have been a reason for this direction, but we did it our own way instead.  After about every inch, Ryan would chop it as it was coming out and the noodles just piled up.  The machine did over heat, so we may have been asking too much, or it could be because our house is original wired for 220 and it is converted to 110 for us Americans to use!
Look how cute they are
You can't have mac and cheese without the cheese, and lots of it.  Since we had a lot of pasta, we wound up doubling the cheese sauce recipe.
The Betty Crocker recipe, which I used in my undergrad cooking class, and I think I got an A on this assignment, calls for the usual and the unusual, like worchestershire sauce and ground mustard.
In goes the flour to thicken it up.
Then the milk and cheese.  Well, some of he milk.  I made a slight oopsie and only did the amount called for in the recipe because I forgot we planned to double it, so I went back after the fact and added in some more milk.  Not the end of the world.
Oh so cheesey!
Look at my dog in the back, staring and hoping she will get some.  These noodles came out perfectly.
Boilin' time!
Could we have cut it any closer?  I thought this was going to make the biggest mess, but I managed to keep it all in there.
The next step was to get this in the oven for about 20 minutes of baking.
Since just mac and cheese may have been too rich and lacking in some nutrients, we steamed up some broccoli for the side.
Oh wow, look at that...

This wine is supposed to be award winning.  It turns out it is a sparkling wine.  It was actually very good and went well with the mac and cheese.
Dinner is served!
Seriously, it doesn't get much better than this.
This may have been the best mac and cheese I have ever had.
I am glad there was a lot leftover because I was able to leave Ryan with some dinners for the week while I am gone.  Actually I put a few containers of it in the freezer, so I hope to have some more when I get back to the island.

I am so exhausted from the flight home and then I went out to see my stepsister before she heads back to school in the morning, followed by dinner with some friends and my sister...I am just ready for bed now, so goodnight everyone.

QUESTION:  What is your comfort food?

Giveaway Winner and Garbanzos

Sometimes I just don't know where my ideas come from, but I got this one while I was falling asleep the other night.  Last night Ryan's work had a dinner party and there was a Mardi Gras theme.  It was also the judging on the moustache contest for Moustache March (don't ask).  Anyway, for these dinners it is always potluck and we almost forgot about bringing something.  So, I decided to create a vegetarian entree that I could bring so that I at least had 1 option to choose from.

So, this is somewhat Indian inspired, but not entirely and Indian dish.  Here are my ingredients:
First I cooked the almonds in 1 Tbsp butter.
I made some basmati rice and as you can see, I made a huge mess.  if you read my post yesterday you might remember I had to keep it short to avoid burning something down...well, I came close!
Then I added the chick peas and tomato sauce to the pan and covered it.  I cooked it probably about 10-15 minutes until it thickened up a little.  Oh, and I also added some chili powder for some heat.
Since it was potluck style, I used a disposable container.  Filled the bottom with rice.
Then I topped it with my chick pea creation.  The almonds added a nice touch of crunchy to this dish.  It was actually really good.  As far as I can tell, only a few people tried it, which doesn't surprise me.  Most people go for the meat and do not seem too adventurous.  I think sometimes meatless scares people away.
As you can see, many people brought desserts.
Then there was a parade before dinner.  The floats came by and tossed candy at the kids.
They tossed out Mardi Gras beads too.  I got a ton of these.
There was a lot of cornbread and I was happy to see this beautiful fruit tray.
I thought these were so cute.
Super Bock is a local beer here.  Well, it is Portuguese so this is what is most often served on tap.
Here is my plate.  I had to load up on kiwis and strawberries.
Happy Belated Mardi Gras!
Now for the moment you have all been waiting for...the Krema PB giveaway winners (using for selection):

Sophia from Burp and Slurp


Congrats to both of you.  Please email me (melinda_seff at yahoo dot com) your addresses so that the PB can get sent out ASAP for you to enjoy.

QUESTION:  Have you ever brought something to a party that was just a little too out of everyone's comfort zone?