Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Here It Comes...


I'm getting married.



Which means that things are INSANE.

First of all, Sunday was my graduation from college.  I had an alarm set for 6:35 so I could shower beforehand.  Now anyone who knows me will tell you that getting a functional, speaking version of me out of bed before 7am is nigh impossible, but I was psychologically set and determined that 6:35 would be okay.

Apparently, life had other plans for me.

6AM: I wake up to the sound of rap music bouncing into my room from the living room of my shared apartment.  I roll over and try to breathe loudly enough to drown it out.  I fail.
6:15AM: The music is STILL playing.  And it's THE SAME SONG.  I have no clue who is playing it but I certainly can't sleep through it, so I get up to shower much earlier than intended.  Meanwhile, my usually soft-spoken roommate marches into the living room, shakes awake the random boy sleeping through 15 minutes of his obnoxiously loud looping R&B alarm, and makes him turn it off.  We still do not know who the boy is, but hoist our tired selves into the routine of the morning.

RUDE, Universe.  Rude.

By 12:30, after listening to a poem pretending to be a prayer, a pandering politician's perennial postulations on graduation, and a poetry slam of a student speech (sorry, but I was having WAY too much fun with that alliteration), I was a college graduate.

That's me and my pretty friends, all graduated and stuff.  And HUNGRY - loooong ceremony.

From that second on, my brain activity switched to weddingweddingweddingmovingweddingmovingmovingmovingweddingmovingweddingwedding...

Yeah.  I left myself five days to finish planning a wedding and move.
And the Poor Planner of the Year Award goes to...

Though, thinking about it, we didn't have much of an option.  Jon's busy season of work gets absolutely insane from June through most of September, and my lease ends at the end of May, which would mean moving back to my parents' place in DC.  I love my parents, but no. 
If we wanted to get married, it pretty much had to be this weekend.

The last two and a half days have consisted of seating charts, suitcases, garbage bags, cardboard boxes, multiple trips to the mall, phone calls from vendors, frantic emails with my wedding coordinator (a.k.a. my amazingly-organized sister-in-law...I swear, she probably wants to strangle me for how disorganized I am!), and the occasional nervous breakdown.

Party planning is officially off the list of potential careers.


By Friday night at 5:30, I will be married to the love of my life.  And that's not something a whole lot of people my age can say, nor is it something I could even imagine living without.
So no matter how many details I space on or how many decisions I can't make without crying, I'm going to be okay.

I've cooked a surprising amount, considering the hectic nature of my life at the moment.  Friday night, I made a quick and delicious frittata out of random things in my fridge, which made me SUPER proud of myself for being all innovative and stuff.  And Sunday afternoon after the graduation ceremony, I baked up a pan of Maple Apple French Toast Bread Pudding.  I also have a grilled cheese to post and possibly the best oatmeal raisin cookies ever to share with y'all eventually.  But photos are just...nonexistent, and for that I apologize.  Tasty treats will find their way into your homes (and hopefully your bellies) from my little kitchen soon!

Just gimme about a week and a half :)
In the meantime, if you need to find me, I'll be bejeweling place cards and practicing writing a different last name.
Cursive B's are HARD.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cornmeal-Crusted Haddock and Black Bean Corn Saute

I don't know if I shared this before, but I was an extremely picky eater growing up.

My go-to meal at every restaurant was chicken tenders and fries.  I judged restaurants solely on the quality of their chicken tenders.  I lived off of the same six or seven meals for over a decade, because that was what I liked and was what I would eat.  Chocolate, my first love, was always allowed.  As were pancakes.

As for the list of things I wouldn't eat?  It was much longer.

Condiments?  Evil.  Most vegetables?  Disgusting.  Exceptions: corn, carrots, green beans, peas, mushrooms, and lima beans.  I know, the lima beans thing is totally weird, but whatever.  Cheese on anything but pizza or grilled cheese?  Gross!  Eggs any other way than scrambled?  No way.  I ate exactly three kinds of nuts, and they were never allowed in my brownies, or without M&Ms breaking them up.  Beans?  Looked like poop.  And I did not eat poop.  And?  I ate all my food in separate parts.  Sauces didn't touch anything I ate for years, nor were different food groups allowed to touch on a plate, much less be consumed together!  Thus, sandwiches, other than grilled cheese, were not to be touched, and burgers were eaten completely naked with a fork and knife.  I'd only eat the bun at Fuddrucker's.

And fish?  The penultimate "EWWW!"
I ate fish sticks until I was 4.  Then I decided they were gross and refused to touch seafood until college.

Yeah.  That long.

But when I got to school, I no longer had the option of those same seven meals.  I had to find new things to eat.  And the dining hall at my college didn't serve meat on Fridays: every Friday was Fish Fry-day.  Eventually, I decided to give it a try again.  After all, I kept hearing that fish was good for you.  And nothing deep-fried could be that bad, right?

Right.  It was delicious!  After that, I was way more adventurous with food, seafood in particular.  And, to my shock, I discovered that I loved so many foods that I had turned up my nose at for years!

The meal I'm about to share with you is something I never would have eaten four years ago, but am SO glad that I can cook and enjoy for myself now.  Fresh haddock fillets are dredged in milk and a spiced cornmeal crust, then baked, and served with a saute of black beans (yep, "poop" no more), corn, peppers, and zucchini.  The combination is absolutely delicious, and it makes fabulous leftovers!  Two words: fish tacos.  Add some cubes of avocado, fresh spinach leaves, and warm corn tortillas, and life is wonderful.  Cinco de Mayo, anyone?

Whether or not you're a reformed picky eater like me, give this a shot!  It's nutrient rich, comes together super quickly, and makes a truly delicious weeknight meal!

Quick recipe note: This recipe was...well, completely eyeballed.  I'm guessing at approximate amounts here, so feel free to adjust seasonings and proportions at will!

Cornmeal Crusted Haddock
1.5 lbs fresh haddock fillets (or another firm white fish) - 4-6 pieces
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal 
1 tsp chili powder 
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
salt & black pepper to taste
3/4 cup milk
Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 500˚F.  Lightly grease a 9x13" glass baking dish and set aside.
Pour the milk into a wide, shallow bowl.  On a piece of wax paper, combine cornmeal, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.  (Word of advice - don't go too easy on the salt!) Toss together gently with your hands until the spices appear evenly distributed in the mixture.
Dredge each piece of fish in the milk, then coat thoroughly with the cornmeal mixture.  Place the fillets in the prepared baking dish and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily.  Serve immediately as is or flake over warmed tortillas for tacos.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Corn Saute
Source: inspired by Melissa D'Arabian

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut into quartered rounds
1-1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1-1/2 cups frozen diced red & green bell peppers
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
salt & black pepper, to taste

 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and saute until it starts to become tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the frozen corn and diced peppers and saute for another 5 minutes.  Add the black beans and stir in until the whole mixture is heated through.  Season with salt and pepper as desired, and serve with the fish on its own or in tacos.  Enjoy!