26 April 2010

Roast beast.

Last week, our Supper Club creator, Sarah, suggested a road trip to Roast for restaurant week. Did she even need to ask twice? Duh! So last night, the eight of us met up for what was an amazing evening of food.

This was my third trip to Roast, and this was definitely the best meal I've had there yet. I was actually worried at first -- I hadn't felt well for a day or so, and by the time we got to the restaurant, I was on the verge of barfing all over the place. But I had a few little slices of bread and some water and I started to feel a little better, so I perused the menu a little more seriously than I initially had. Meanwhile, the ladies enjoyed some lovely adult cherry beverages (you know I don't feel well if I'm resisting cherry booze!).

I decided against the special menu and ordered off the regular menu (Sara, fyi, the lobster roll IS gone! Boo!), also deciding against any appetizers (except for part of the salad I stole from Brad). Most at the table enjoyed the soup of the day, a cream of mushroom that was assembled at the table.


Mushroom happy!

My intense and heated jealousy of Lisa's charcuterie plate leads me to believe I will be back on at least the sometime meat wagon soon. Seriously, I was this close to ripping it out of her hand and gobbling it up like Heidi with her paper towel fetish.

She is very happy as well.

I sat across from Lisa, so I also got to very closely oogle her spinach salad with... egg! Yum.

Also of note was Justin's bacon appetizer, which apparently was all kinds of yum. Most everyone stole a bite.

The bacon hand-off.

Eventually it was time for the main courses, and most of the peeps ordered off the special menu. The girls all went with the salmon and, well, I at least remember Brad Z. got the roast beast of the day (suckling pig, served on a pig-shaped platter). I decided to go with the halibut, which was served with delicious (and gigantic!) caperberries, roasted lemon, and sliced almonds. And a giant bowl of whipped heaven, I mean potatoes. You can see my dish in all its glory below, bottom left. Mmm.

The table was covered with sides, too. Asparagus, fried Brussels sprouts, spinach and feta au gratin, the aforementioned whipped potatoes, and a delicious but perplexing mac and cheese that led us to give the whispering waiter the third degree about the ingredients (he was no help really). Luckily, all of us love food and love to share, so pretty much everyone got a bite of everything. Yum. And back to my halibut, what a great choice! It was thick and meaty but flaky and light... delicious. And I seriously can't stop thinking about those caperberries. I must get some!

As for Brad, he went with the NY strip. On the menu, it said "with marrow." I assumed there would just be marrow in the sauce. But no... His steak came with a GIGANTIC bone (and marrow, obviously).

I'm endlessly curious about unusual dishes like this, so I'm sure someday I'll be brave enough to give it a little nibble. I'm proud of Brad for trying it, and actually eating most of it. He reports that it tastes good, but he had a hard time getting past the idea and nearly lost his cookies there for a minute. Either way, he finished it, save the few bites he shared with the boys.

"Did I really just eat this?"

And then, of course, whispery waiter tempted those of us not on the special menu plan with desserts of our own. Even stuffed, with an upset tummy, I cannot resist a dessert menu.

And honestly, who could resist peanut butter chocolate creme brule?

...although I kind of wish I had resisted it, and at least gotten the banana/chocolate pudding cake Sara and I got there last month. While not horrible, I kind of thought this tasted like the generic peanut butter they stick in generic chocolate candy (like off-brand Xmas peanut butter cups). I managed to at least kill most of the hard chocolate top. In the background, you can kind of see the special dessert, a delicious (thanks for the bite, Lisa) chocolate cake with raspberry sauce.

A great night, for sure. And even though 1/2 of supper club is now moving, potentially very soon, I hope we are still able to gather for more nights like this in the future. Supper Club St. Joe style, anyone?!

24 April 2010

All the world's a stage.

Things have been moving so fast around here... go go go go to get everything ready to sell the house. I have to admit I'm a little bummed today because we did already have our first showing scheduled for tomorrow. But they canceled! I feel so rejected. Pout pout. Anxiety aside, we are actually quite enjoying our newly staged living room. Since moving in in February of 2006, this room's been basically the same -- chair and couch against the back wall, love seat forming an L of furniture.

Our realtor told us to switch up the couches to open up the room and provide more of a walkthrough from the living room to the kitchen area. I was like "ooohkay, sure..." and once I started moving the furniture, I was thinking no way is this going to work. BUT then I got it moved and settled and lo and behold... we actually really like it. And whereas the love seat was kind of a wasted space before because you couldn't see the tv well from that angle, you can actually see the tv really well from the couch against the wall. I'm sold. Now let's just get this house sold, too!

Of course, the dogs feel like kings of the castle, too. "This is OUR couch now, losers!"

22 April 2010

It's all Greek to me.

This month, Brad and I got to host Supper Club, and for the theme, we selected Greek -- our favorite! My Jess is Greek and her family makes the most amazing dolmathes, so I knew immediately that's what I wanted to prepare for the main course. I hit her up for the family recipe, and luckily she was willing to share. Since I'm sure it is a top family secret, I won't post the recipe, but let me know if you are interested!

Even though I'm still not eating meat, I definitely wanted to prepare the meat dolmathes because I know how delicious they are. I broke down and bought hamburger and cooked with it, mostly managing to avoid touching it!

Looks like brains.

Veggie filling for me.

And just maybe I happened to buy Rachael Ray evoo.
It was on sale!

Plop goo on grape leaf.

Roll up and stick in pan.

Once they are all assembled, you add some broth and water and simmer them for close to an hour. At that point, you mix up the lemon and egg to drop in to create the world's most delicious sauce. Mmm.

Pile o' leftover leaves.

See those leaves? Those are basically the leftover duds. I bought two jars of grape leaves, both said to include 44 leaves each. That's 88 leaves total. I would say I managed to salvage maybe 10 really good, perfect leaves from the bunch. There were obviously more that I got to work, but it was a REAL pain in the butt. Each jar had three rolls of leaves, all rolled together, and it was near impossible to get it unrolled w/o ripping half of them. Seriously, pain in the butt. And it took forever. As delicious as these definitely are, I do not see myself making these again. I'll order them at Parthenon! (Or make Jessica make them for me.)

Anyway, once the food was prepared, it was time to get the party started!

I did my best to decorate with a blue and white theme. Including shot glasses for...

Once everyone arrived, it was time to load up with grub. Lisa made a spank-your-pita (ok fine, spinach pie) and Sarah made a Greek lentil soup.

Sarah's lentil soup got rave reviews.

I very much enjoyed Lisa's spank-yer-pita. Mmmmmmm.

Everyone enjoyed Justin & Jen's lemon cake and poofy cake cookie thingys!

And, of course, lots of Greek wine and Ouzo.
Let's just say Sarah and I really enjoyed the Ouzo.

It was a lovely long evening, and kind of bittersweet as this is the only time Brad and I will be able to host. (But at least we'll be able to attend next month!) There was hockey on so the boys disappeared for a while to watch that while the girls had some girl talk time. Then everyone reconvened for an absinthe taste test.

Before, and after.

Just after. He he he.

Like I keep saying month after month, I feel so lucky to have been a part of this little group. It's been a great few months, I'm looking forward to next month, and perhaps some months in the future I can sneak back to town for another dinner. Xo to you all!

21 April 2010

Movin on up.

It's official!

19 April 2010

Every little thing she does is magic.

I like our kitchen. I didn't get to design it or pick anything out (other than the appliances we bought shortly after moving in), but I like pretty much everything in it. While it would have been nice to put hardwood throughout the kitchen area when we did the entry way and the sitting room, it just wasn't an option. But that was ok because I love the look of our tile -- big white squares lined in light brown. As much as I like how they look, they are a royal pain to clean. They're not even particularly groovy (har har), but somehow and somewhere the dirt just gets trapped in an impossible-to-get-out kind of way. The first few years we tried everything -- mops, hands-and-knee scrubbing... Nothing made a dent. Then we went on vacation and Lynn, who was pooch-sitting, got bored and tried something new. The magic eraser. Low and behold, it actually worked. Like magic! I don't know what sort of crack they put in those things, but they are beyond amazing and literally transform our kitchen. You still have to get down on your hands and knees, but otherwise it's pretty effortless. As part of our continued spring-clean-get-ready-to-sell whirlwind, I tackled the floor this afternoon, and despite the help from my little secret weapon, I'm still quite pleased with myself.

Before, and after!

As is my typical luck, this past week I came down with a crazy cold (or crazy allergies perhaps? I blame the furry white tree outside my window that smells of rotten roadkill), but I managed to suck it up for a few days and get this house in ship-shape order. Luckily, we watch a lot of House Hunters. So I know not to leave our crap laying all around when people come looking. And it helps having done this before, too, so we don't feel like total deers-in-the-headlights. Away with the photographs (boohoo), away with the knickknacks, away with the piles of books everywhere... I must say, our house cleans up pretty nice. And I feel like dang housewife of the year!

"This house is clean!"

Meanwhile, Brad's been Mr. Handy, fixing screens, touching up the paint, climbing on the roof to recaulk, and... da da da... rebuilding steps (Larry's been nagging us about this broken step for years!). Go hubby go!

One of the saddest moments was when Brad had to paint over our height chart... our baby pooches have never lived anywhere else, and we have so many memories of their puppyhood in this house!

Oh well, it's all for the greater good. And we'll have lots of new puppy memories in our new house, and hopefully Heidi will finally get to swim!

Next up... cleaning up all the dead bugs and mouse poo in the basement! Operation: Fool New Housebuyers continues. :)

11 April 2010

Beachward bound.

So this might go down in history as the craziest month for the Churches. And, honestly, it's probably only going to get crazier from here for a while. A brief recap:

Winter of 2009 - winter of 2010: NOTHING happens. I have no job. I hear no word on jobs. Brad hates his job. Life is annoying.

February 2010 - Brad interviews with Whirlpool on a whim.

March - I interview with three different companies; move to the next level with two out of three.

March 17 - Brad has second interview with Whirlpool. Still random.

March 31 -- I am offered a position with publisher and I accept it.

April 1 - Brad is accepted into MSU's weekend MBA program.

April 6 - Brad is offered Whirlpool job.

April 8 - Brad accepts Whirlpool job. I quit publisher job (that I haven't started yet).

Where is Whirlpool, you might be wondering? St. Joseph, Michigan. We're flipping moving! In the course of two months, I've went from unemployed to employed to unemployed and moving across the state. To say that my stomach has been in knots for weeks is an understatement. But, I am SO proud of my super smart and business savvy husband, and I know he will do great. I'm excited to start this new adventure with him, but, of course, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't beyond sad about leaving my life and loves in Ann Arbor. Once we get settled in (at the beach!), you are all invited to come and visit. Lots! Please! :)

Needless to say, due to knot-y tummy, my appetite has been all out of whack. We've been eating a lot of garbage and eating out a lot, too. Why is it that when you feel like crap, all you want to eat is crap? Sheesh! But today I finally felt a little better and decided we WERE going to eat something healthy. So I headed off to grocery shop and, lo and behold, I actually broke down and bought * shudder * Meijer fish. I bought three small tilapia fillets, which, honestly, were just fine so I should stop being such a snob. Dinner was nothing fancy, but it was SO yummy and my new favorite fish recipe. Of course you should try it, too!

So simple -- I set the three tilapia fillets in a 9 x 13 baking dish. I dumped the contents of a large jar of artichokes in the dish but did end up pouring the majority of the liquid back out (who knew there was so much in there!). Then I smeared a few tablespoons of store-bought pesto on each of the fillets before throwing them in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. I served it all over rice (yes, white rice. I cannot get behind brown rice. Yuck.), and the artichoke oil I left in made everything nice and moist and added more flavor to the rice. So I loved this and Brad seemed to, too. He even ate all of his artichokes. Good hubby.

And a quick egg update since I cannot get over how beautiful my hard-boiled eggs were last week. Early in the week I made some egg salad, which was easy and tasty, but given previously mentioned knot situation, I didn't end up eating the leftovers and had to dump half of it out yesterday (boo).

Eyeball egg.

Just peel the eggs and dice them up. I had five eggs -- I used the whites from all and the yolks from three of them.

I dumped in a tablespoon or so of Miracle Whip, 2 tablespoons or so of Dijon mustard, a sprinkle of dill, a sprinkle of red pepper, and a sprinkle of pepper. Then I smooshed it all.

Then I made a sandwich!


Now, who wants to buy our house?!

03 April 2010

Spring is eggsellent.

Spring has sprung forth several springy happenings this week. The biggest news item (aside from 70-degree+ weather!) is that I've been offered a job. And I accepted. Work! You heard me right... WORK! I'll be working at a small textbook publisher in Plymouth, joining a team of six other managing editors, where I'll be responsible for, well, managing the production of a variety of course-specific textbooks and lab manuals. It still hasn't totally sunk in yet... WORK! After 14 months off. It's kind of a mixed bag of emotions... Work, yeah! But work... boo! HA! Will keep you posted on how that plays out. :) In related news, Mr. Church has been accepted to the Michigan State weekend MBA program! Go hubby!

To celebrate our good news, and, again, the beautiful weather, we joined the Zs for some Dominick's time last night.

Yes, I drank all that.
Yes, I paid for my debaucherous ways.

After mostly recovering this morning, I decided to whip up the Cadbury egg muffins I wrote about a while back.

The wet ingredients were mocking me!

It's a pretty simple and straightforward recipe. I plopped in the Cadbury eggs and threw them into the oven in no time.

Once they were in the oven, I went to the fridge to start my next project, and guess what I found?

That's right... The butter I'd melted and set in the fridge to chill. I totally put a dozen muffins in the oven... without any butter! I chalk this up to sangria brain.

They came out looking ok...

But would they taste ok?? Good news.... They taste just fine! And now have fewer calories -- ha ha ha!!! I took a few over for Sarah and Mike, and Sarah pointed out that the butter may have made them a little less dense (they are pretty dense), but otherwise you don't even really notice. How weird is that!? Anyway, I was very pleased that I didn't ruin an entire batch of sweets (and 12 precious mini eggs!).

So, like I said, I had a second project to prepare before I could head over to Sarah's to hand out my treats. Time to hard boil eggs! Lisa recently sent me her surefire method, so I felt confident I could tackle this, sangria brain and all. (And yes, it is incredibly silly that I have never hard boiled eggs before.) In case you are an egg dummy, too, here are Lisa's instructions:

Put cold eggs in a pot with a lid and fill till covering about 2" w/ cold water. Also add 1 tbsp of vinegar. I just use white distilled, but you could also use apple cider or whatever you have on hand. Then put that pot on the stove top on high till the eggs are at a rapid boil. Once they've reached rapid boil for at least 1 minute, pull the whole pot off the stove top, and let sit for exactly 11 minutes. Peel & eat. Perfecto!

I probably wasn't supposed to remove the lid during rapid boil, but I love watching stuff happen! (My lid also doesn't totally fit my pot, so I figured if there was damage to be done, it had already happened.) Luckily, they DID turn out perfecto!

That might be the most beautiful egg I have ever seen. I'm so glad that at some point over the past 10 years I've realized how much I like eggs in all forms. It was so warm and soft and just gosh darn amazing -- I want to eat these every day of my life! Alas, I had a purpose for these eggs, and eating them (at least just yet) was not the plan. So I grabbed my eggs and headed over to Sarah's for.... Easter egg dying! Woo!

Bloody vein egg.

What a fun idea! I was so pleased when Sarah proposed an afternoon of egg craftiness, and it was great fun. I say let's do this every year! And here's to lots more great spring memories. Happy sunshine, everyone!