Now, I don’t profess to be a connoisseur of all things Italian, but I like to think that the Italian blood in me can tell when I’ve found something that’s quality.

El Paso… I love this city a little bit more every day, especially when I find gems like this gelato shop.

Gufo Di Milano

http://gufodimilano.com

Had a delightful lunch with my dear foodie friend Amanda, purely so that we could try out this new place nearby.  It was amazing. I could’ve hung out there and eaten till I was sick.  Every flavor they let us try was amazing.  We both settled on a mix of Bacio (chocolate hazelnut) and Crema Catalana (caramel, lemon & cinnamon).  Divine. Makes me want to start my weekend right now. 

Do you live in El Paso?  Check this place out, seriously.  Avoid the Gelato Factory, they’re trying to pass off something that’s definitely not the real thing.  This place on the other hand, knows how it’s done.  If you have the time, click on the link above, and read about how they make it, for a dessert – it’s very natural, and though you may not be cutting back on the sugar…it’s better for you!

Back to real life, and work.

Caio

It was a success, crispy crunchy outside, tender juicy meat inside… I usually murder pork chops till they’re all dry and tasteless, but this recipe saved my poor pork chops from a horrible demise.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (from smitten kitchen) is the way to go, and will be a keeper for me!  At first I thought the home made bread crumbs would be a little too much, and was tempted to use store bought… don’t do it!  They are SO worth the minimal amount of extra work they take.  Mmmm.

breaded pork chop

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 4

CI notes: This recipe was developed using natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution) will work as well. If using enhanced pork, eliminate the brining in step 1. The bread crumb mixture can be prepared through step 2 up to 3 days in advance. The breaded chops can be frozen for up to 1 week. They don’t need to be thawed before baking; simply increase the cooking time in step 5 to 35 to 40 minutes.

Table salt
4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1-2 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 Large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used Olive Oil)
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I used Boar’s Head Tomato Pesto Mayonaise)
Lemon wedges

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss with your hands until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time (Very important to stir and keep an eye on these, they will burn left unattended). (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard (or substitute) until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.

4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.

5. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.  (NOTE: I ended up having to turn the over down to about 375, and bake about 5-10 min longer, because the crust was getting burnt without the pork cooking properly…it’ll probably depend on your oven.)

I didn’t have the energy to make any fabulous side dishes to accompany this work, so I just made some white rice and steamed some fresh green beans in the microwave with butter & Mrs. Dash… it turned out to be a perfect compliment to the flavorful meat.  =)

Girl Talk had some helpful words for my heart today:

Our Lord doesn’t hesitate to address our fears about money: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matt. 6:25). Instead of worrying about money we should trust our Heavenly Father.
 
“Do you trust the King who is also your Father?” Scripture puts this question to us, says author Ed Welch:
 
“Our Answer? ‘Sort of….a little….usually.’ We sort of want…to trust the King—until life gets precarious. When everything is going well and the storehouses are full, we trust him. But when there is nothing for tomorrow, we panic and track down the address of another god who can give us enough for tomorrow and the next day too….Our trust is divided. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket—even God’s—because that’s too risky.”

It’s good to be reminded of our good, trustworthy, heavenly Father.  It is good when one can say, “It is well with my soul”. =)

You can read the whole post here.

I’m falling in love with this city and the people here more and more the longer I live here.  And my husband Ricky’s love for his city definitely helps me get more excited about it.  He’s been looking for ways for us to get more involved in the community here – and check out this super fun opportunity: Volunteering at the city’s Plaza Theater during their annual Classic Film Festival.  We get to help out, and then sit and enjoy the film – awesome deal.
This theater seriously is incredibly beautiful, built in the 1930’s it became rundown and almost sold off, but the community decided it would be better for the city to restore it to it “original glory” and re-opened it in 2002.  I’m so glad they did, they have so many events (like this Film Festival) that benefit people and brings the community together.  I love that we get a chance to support it.
So we’ll be the ones ushering folks to their seats with our yellow staff shirts, holler if you see us. We’ll be at today’s showing of “Picnic” (older starring William Holden…don’t really know anything about it). And we’re super excited about tomorrow’s showing of “Metropolis”, the old silent film, mostly because they’re bringing in a live orchestra to accompany it.  Whew, that’ll be great.
Check it out.  It’s pretty sweet idea for a date night. Or just ’cause.

Oh man.

So super cute. 

I’m wishing I had a little girl make this for. (I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to knit something before, now I do.)  So adorable.  If I had the skills, and the kid, I’d probably sit down and make myself do this. (Click on the photo to go to “Hello Yarn” where you can find the instruction on how to make it.)

If you’ve never heard of My Neighbor Totoro, check it out. It’d one of the most adorable, beautiful anime movies I’ve ever seen.  Miyazaki is an incredible artist.

Anthropologie has the eclectic-somewhat-rustic-vintagey feel in clothing (and home decor) I love, yet can never afford.  But I still always love flipping through the new catalogs when they come out for inspiration, and here’s one thing I might actually purchase.  I think they’d be so cute with a simple black dress and boots…or something like that. 

For the home, I love the idea they had of panels of wall paper on your wall.  Some wall paper is incredibly beautiful, but may be overwhelming to have an entire wall of it.  So why not have some panels with small wood trim around it. =) Maybe one day when I own my house…

(This image is from Maison21, who created a similar wall design to the one I saw in the Anthro catalog…)

I’m definitely tucking this idea away for the future. =)

I like making food. I like eating it more usually.  I made this the other day, def enjoyed eating it more.

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more =))
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese  (or more =))
  • 1 (or 2) clove garlic, peeled and minced (I love the garlicky kind…)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped fairly small (no need for them to have been marinated)
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze in paper towels is an easy way)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a small baking dish (8×8 or 9×9 would work.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently fold in artichoke hearts and spinach.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.  

And then, dig into the goodness!  Sometimes I like to just use a spoon, but it’s just as good, if not better if pita chips, French bread, tortilla chips, pretzel chips…pretty much anything that can handle it’s consistency. 

Fresh food, healthy choice? maybe not.  Excellent? yes. =)

“…besides meditating upon the promises, seek in thy soul to receive them as being the very words of God.

Speak to thy soul thus, ‘If I were dealing with a man’s promise, I should carefully consider the ability and the character of the man who had covenanted with me. So with the promise of God; my eye must not be so much fixed upon the greatness of the mercy—that may stagger me; as upon the greatness of the promiser—that will cheer me.

My soul, it is God, even thy God, God that cannot lie, who speaks to thee. This word of His which thou art now considering is as true as His own existence. He is a God unchangeable. He has not altered the thing which has gone out of His mouth, nor called back one single consolatory sentence. Nor doth He lack any power; it is the God that made the heavens and the earth who has spoken thus. Nor can He fail in wisdom as to the time when He will bestow the favours, for He knoweth when it is best to give and when better to withhold.

Therefore, seeing that it is the word of a God so true, so immutable, so powerful, so wise, I will and must believe the promise.’

If we thus meditate upon the promises, and consider the Promiser, we shall experience their sweetness, and obtain their fulfillment.”

~CH Spurgeon on 2 Peter 1:4

For some reason before and afters are always intriguing to me.  Something about the improvement or perceived improvement by change to the original – typically for me, I love the before and afters of home improvement projects, a new bedroom design or a fresh take on the kitchen; or the before and afters of literature when a character goes through experiences that pushes them to learn and grow.

Well in a much less thought-provoking sense, here is my before and after =)  I loved loved the fact that I was able to donate almost 15 inches of my hair to Locks of Love.

(oh, and I’m the other jenn on the right, with the long hair, the lovely lady next to me is the Jen, she’s pretty great.)

So, that’s my before and after… and what you’re can’t tell here is that i now have bangs…still workin on figuring out how to style them.

Anyhow, that’s all on that.

Cheers to Sarah and Ryan for chillin with us through the last snowstorm and the super bowl, it was pretty much awesome.  Now, we’ll see what adventures we’ll have for this upcoming one… I wonder if we’ll really get another 10 to 20 on top of the 30 inches of snow we already have.  Excitement.

stay safe y’all.

It’s lovely outside.  Can’t go anywhere, or really, don’t want to go anywhere. =)  I just want to enjoy my fire, throw, hot cocoa and a good book.   Oh, and my man.

So what should I do with my time, the question I’ve been asking myself for the past hour as I browse through blogs and look at what’s coming up next week.  Ricky is inspiring me with his fine example of productivity, waking up an hour before me, and using his time well today; I need to emulate my husband more.

So I think I’ll try.  My plan for today:

_Read that chapter I’ve been meaning to for weeks in Charity and Its Fruits.

_Create my quiet time schedule I’ve been mulling over since last Wednesday

_Finalize meal plans for this coming week =) see below for a successful new recipe I found last week! yay. And making sure I have everything I need for whipping up a little Chicken Parmesan for Family Birthday Lunch tomorrow. =)

_Wrap Ricky’s birthday presents!!  Super excited about his surprise-birthday-date-day on Monday, I’ll let you know how it goes.

_Hopefully go to a friends wedding tonight, Lord willing the weather doesn’t get worse.  Which as the day goes on, I think the family is deciding to stay home… which is such a sad decision, this is a wedding I’ve been looking forward to for a while.  Lauren, I’m praying for you and your groom that this will be a wonderfully blessed day for you, and that you will experience so much of God’s pleasure in your marriage =) and may this snow just add more beauty to an already incredible day.

And good news, I learned not only that you pronounce quinoa as “keen-wah”, but also that it tastes good!  I tried this recipe out last night, and enjoyed it: Thank you epicurious.com

Quinoa with Corn, Scallions and Mint

  • 4 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups quinoa (about 10 oz)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Cook your corn, and cut it off the cobs. I actually bought frozen corn on the cob, so I could try to get it as fresh as possible, but I wasn’t sure when I was going to make it, and it worked pretty well – though fresh corn I’m sure would taste oh so much better!

Then in a seperate bowl, whisk together your lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, honey (or in my case, honey powder…sadly in need of some fresh honey around here), salt and pepper.

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a large sieve each time.  (I don’t have a sieve that works, only colanders with holes too large that the quinoa would slip right through, so I used my rice-washing technique of just rinsing it in a bowl and carefully pouring the water out, seemed to work fine.)

Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve (or in my case, a colander – praying that they were sticky enough that they wouldn’t fall through the holes… it worked), then set sieve over same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don’t worry if lid doesn’t fit tightly) and steam until quinoa is tender, fluffy, and dry, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand (still covered) 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in corn, scallions, mint, and salt and pepper to taste.  And enjoy that tasty freshness! =)

And please, don’t try to use any dried scallions or mint or anything, I plead with you to use fresh ingredients.  And really I would consider this a great spring or summer dish.  And… it’s won me over to quinoa… now I just have to figure out the nutritional value of it, is it healthier than rice and pasta? Would it be worth using more?

Enjoy your Saturday folks.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.