Shrimp Paella and a Tomato Cucumber Salad from Beth Fish Reads

Am I ever glad it's Saturday! I want to put this past week behind us and head into the weekend with with positive things, good things.  If you had not read about the puppy abandonment experience yesterday, click here if interested.

Today lets talk about healthy semi-vegetarian fare.  I do have shrimp in this recipe but you may omit it or use tofu if you don't want seafood. Loved this quick little meal and it's so pretty.  Lots of colorful vegetables. Also, it was fairly quick to put together and this makes it a good weekday/workday meal.


  Paella1

A side dish was a cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Another quick fix.  This recipe I borrowed from Beth Fish Reads, check it out HERE.  My version isn't as pretty but the salad was very good.

paella2

The recipe for Shortcut Shrimp Paella comes from Cooking Light.  I made some adaptions to the recipe but I usually use a recipe as a guideline. ( Fresh wild caught shrimp stars in this paella but you could use tofu or chicken thighs, whatever your preference. )

I used a Vigo yellow rice mix and cooked it with vegetable broth.  While that was cooking I sauteed 1 cup green and red bell pepper strips in a tiny bit of olive oil. Next toss in a few chopped garlic pieces, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and a cup of frozen peas.  Season with ground sea salt, a few shakes of ground pepper and cilantro (if you like it).

Once the veggies are soft place a pound of shrimp on top and a little less than a 1/4 cup water.  Mix it and then cover.  The shrimp should cook in roughly 6 minutes so if you time it  right, the rice will be done at the same time.  That's perfect.

While the paella was cooking I started slicing tomatoes and cucumbers for the salad.  I'll put this on the meal rotation again for sure.


Sharing with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday event.  Check out her link HERE and join in if you are inclined. You'll find some good meals and book reviews over there :-)

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No good deed goes unpunished

I know I have posted before about animal abandonment in our county. One of the perks for living in a rural area. Here is the latest and some info about rescue groups. This really cost us this time.

  puppies

We're doing our daily walk and these two puppies peek out from a cemetery gate. They're starving, not just for food but attention. We couldn't walk away, even if we wanted to, as they are threading themselves around our ankles as we walk. I guess they about three months old.

So we walk towards home, carrying them once we were close to the highway. Each pup sweetly tucked their heads into our shoulder, I guess it's a feeling of relief for them, feeling safe.   We get home and I call our veterinarian asking if they will kindly allow them to spend the night in their horse barn until we can take them to a shelter or find a rescue group to accept them.  Yes, if we pay for CapStar to be administered.  Only $13.50.

 Here's where the nightmare begins....(wait, that comes a little later. ) Our county doesn't have a shelter, only a rescue organization (they won't take them). The animal shelter in the neighboring county isn't open Mondays and doesn't open until 10:30 on Tuesday.  I have to ask if the pups may spend the night again. Our vet is kind and amazing and allows it, as long as we get them in the morning. So.........we get them early Tuesday and, we call in late to work again.

 The ooey part: We pick the puppies up. Unfortunately, I forgot to lay a towel down in the crate. The crate bottom is slippery and they are starting to slide around as I'm driving, even though I am proceeding slowly. Either because they're scared or because they have worms, one pup lets loose with a torrential amount of liquid poop. Since I didn't put towels down...guess what?!

That smelly foul liquid that was once inside the dog is now sliding over the tray onto the back of the car. Also on to the back of the seats that were laid down to accommodate the kennel. The smell is believably bad. It also started raining so we can't even roll the windows down. But we did crack the windows a bit.

By now we are sorry we ever set eyes on these pups as the entire situation has cost us time, money, caused stress and of course, being late to work again. Not to mention our Forester smelling like toxic waste. BUT....it's not their fault. They were discarded as if they were trash. They are innocent, dependent and living creatures....not trash. No, we are furious at the A-hole who made this someone else's problem. Angry that anyone could be so callous to abandon these little girls to a fate of starvation, getting hit by a car or attacked by bears, foxes or coyotes who live in our area. May that person never know a happy time in their future life - what they did was unforgivable. 

So anyway, we stop at our house on the way to the shelter so we can hose out the kennel and get towels. It was a mess. The thought that the shelter may not take the puppies crosses our minds as we aren't residents in Leon county. What would we do? We are already dressed for work and late. Plus we are concerned we now smell like.....shit.   So...I'm not proud that I called the vet back and asked for a price to have these pups euthanized but yes, I did that.

I really didn't want that but anger and frustration got the better of me when I made that call. They called the shelter in Leon county to be sure we could indeed surrender the puppies because they didn't want the dogs euthanized either. They are good people - calmer heads prevailed.

Finally, we get to the shelter and it was no problem. It cost us $50 because, as I mentioned, we aren't Leon county residents so there is a fee to drop off an animal. $25 per animal. If it happens again it will cost us double as that is their policy. Then it will be $50 per animal.

Some things to know and I figure there could be questions about rescue, cleaning smells out of a car, etc.


 * Vinegar and water cleans out the scent but I think the Febreze worked better. Initially I used hot water and soap but the smell was still very strong. We then tried sponging with an equal mixture of vinegar and water and that helped. But the Febreze made things even better. Hopefully there won't be a next time on this sort of cleanup but if so, we will try Febreze first.

* When we called rescue organizations and they were full, no room to take on these pups, we were frustrated. At the shelter they explained why rescue groups need to get the animals only from the shelter.  It's about liability. If someone doesn't like their neighbors cat and calls rescue and they take it....liability. The shelter checks for a microchip and holds the animal for 7 days, thus giving the owners a chance to check and retrieve their animal.

* Euthanasia is an option for an animal so far gone that it's the kindest thing to do. We saw a boxer that slowly starved and it was awful. It couldn't be caught and would disappear for a long time. When it reappeared, scrounging for food, it was so wary of people. Last time we saw the boxer (after weeks) it was skeletal. If we could have caught it we would have paid for euthanasia. It's the kindest thing.

* Yes, we will rescue a stranded or dumped animal again, I was only frustrated over the mess and loss of time and money.

* No, we couldn't foster or keep the puppies because we have an older dog. Aja is 15 and we won't do anything to upset her last years with us. Plus, we plan to move out of state after we are both retired. By then, we will (sadly) be without pets and we plan to travel quite a bit.

That's it - end of my rant. 

Everything Is Amazing And Nobody Is Happy

I enjoyed this so much I had to share. I am of the generation that used and remembers rotary dial phones and ideas like....if you run out of money, you're done. You just stop spending. What a concept, huh?




 Hope you enjoy and can relate.

Note: Apparently this video may be viewed on computer but I couldn't see it on my phone or tablet. I wonder why that is?

Lunch at home on weekends - what a concept
{Avocado and Tomato Mozzarella Salad with Baked Potato}

I've been unmotivated to get on the computer lately, writing instead in journals - logging meals, books and events. I should put quotes around the word events as it's pretty tame around here. No concerts, no riding lately due to very crappy weather, no wine (!) and wow.....rereading this is sounds so negative!  Ok, changing gears.

Lately we have been antsy about retirement and moving and no, I won't talk about it ad nauseam here, but today I want to touch base on it. The weather here is swampy, and as I mentioned, can't do too many outdoor things/ activities.  So we have focused a little on cleaning out the house of unnecessary items. It's way early in the game to think about actually moving but it's never too early to de-clutter and plan.  Right?  We have taken many boxes to a local charity organization - things we aren't using, wearing playing, reading......it feels great!

Another thing we have been doing is eating at home more on weekends. Besides the obvious cash savings, it's healthier. We don't typically eat out during the week so weekend rides and grabbing a meal was always a treat but that's not been possible (*See weather conditions above)

  IMG_9795

So, this is from a previous weekend but I wanted to share a simple and fairly quick meal.  A baked potato and a favorite Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella salad from Mary Berry's cookbook.  I wrote about it before HERE and may thank Katherine for introducing me to that cookbook.

Also on tap for weekend meals are Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche and Black Bean Burgers.  Simplifying life for now.

Anyway....I finally got off my butt to do a blog update and participate with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday event.  Check out her link HERE and join in if you are inclined. You'll find some good meals and book reviews over there :-)

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Catching up with life stuff, books, movies and two pasta dishes

What....? It's the end of July already?!  This month has mostly flown by.

Life Stuff: Let's catch up before we put this month behind us. Doug's father had been in the hospital so there was some family visiting here and there.  Great to see Doug's brother and the family from Mississippi when they visited, looking forward to seeing them again early next week.  In other news, our son's air conditioner went out so they are dealing with horrific heat indexes (portable A/C units can help with that for now). Our son has an interview next week so we are hoping he gets that job.

Aja is doing well for an old girl. She is just waiting summer out before she willingly walks in the Fall temperatures. I think we are all looking forward to that time.  Doug and I constantly talk about moving once we retire, someplace with seasons would be nice. I could do an entire post in our discussed options so far!

Books: I finished The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. She's such a prolific writer and I get lost in the scenes in Cornwall.  Starting A Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes and When the English Fall by David Williams.
Over at Girlxoxo they had a fun tag for books.  I copied it an added my own books to the theme.  If you want, check it out HERE

Watching: We watched Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, that was pretty good. I didn't see that ending coming, it's nice to be surprised. That's the only decent movie we watched. We tried Dark Matter, it's a series, but only got through a few episodes.

Food:  We tried a new recipe for Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna. The recipe may be found at Damn Delicious. Great site and cool recipes.  As you can compare from her site and mine, I did not get a photogenic shot!  It looked more gray when it was reheated too.

BUT - it was good and probably had potential to be dynamite but our personal preference is for the traditional red sauced version. Not enough zing for our palates.  If anyone has tried this with a Bechamal sauce and liked it, please do tell me what I need to tweak for next time.

lasagna

Tortellini with traditional homemade red sauce!  Loved it.  Mushrooms, onions and garlic were heaped into my saucepan.  Saute and add your tomatoes.  Lovely meal and quick to get on the table which is a winner for weeknights.

torta

Do you have a favorite or go-to pasta dish? I eat more pasta than I should but I love it!

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Taziki's Signature Pasta Salad vs. Cobb Salad for lunch on the run

We usually eat at home.  On weekends we grab lunch out when we ride somewhere or when we are running errands.  Overall, we keep the dining out to a minimum.  This past weekend we had to grab lunch out more often than we are used to, also eat much later than we usually do.  A family member has been dealing with medical issues so we've been visiting at the hospital, hence, our schedules have been off a bit.

 Trying to keep it a little healthier I opted for Taziki's signature pasta salad.  We had recently enjoyed gyros there, very fresh and plentiful ingredients.  This salad was packed with chicken, tomatoes, feta and a ton of pasta.  Honestly, it was so much pasta I couldn't finish it.  I probably wouldn't get it again but that doesn't mean I don't like it.

Tzakiti pasta

Next we have a Cobb Salad.  Ok, I know (as does everyone who can read the ingredients list) that a Cobb salad is not usually healthy.  Too much blue cheese and definitely too much bacon!  But it was a late lunch again and this appealed.  See how large?  This is the lunch portion, the smaller portion.  No way could I eat a larger salad, I didn't quite finish this one.


cobb

We have been eating at home in the evenings and cooking healthy chow, that's the preferable thing to do.  Coupled with a good bottle of Beaujolais and some music....that's relaxing.

In other news, I guess it's not really news, Aja is doing well.  She is 15 and she is on some medication temporarily but otherwise doing well.   We are wishing away the hot summer months so we can finally take a long ride.  It's always good to ride a distance and get lunch out of town but lately it's been very rainy and extremely hot.  I've been reading quite a bit and noting it in my journal but not blogging much.  I would like to get back to that.

Hope all is well in your world.

Sharing this with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.

Trying Rieslings.........sweet, dry and in between

This is a wine journey post.  Our latest passion has been focused on Riesling.  We are discovering the dry Rieslings are more to our taste and don't care for the sweet, or semi sweets at all.  Just personal preference.

2015 Biltmore Riesling:  Alcohol 12.5 %,   appellation is American.  Midway between sweet and dry on the scale.  It's way too sweet for us. It was paired up with grill pan salmon, peas and potato cakes. It was drinkable, not a "drain wine" and we finished it but wouldn't buy again.
  Biltmore


salmon potato cakes


















2016 Chateau St Michelle:  Alcohol 12 %,  Appellation American, Columbia Valley Washington. We had this with Chinese.  Not too spicy a Chinese dinner but this Riesling went well.  This  This will be purchased again.  Not expensive at all.


Chateau St Michelle

2015 Dr Loosen Riesling Dry. This was a big splurge, just to see if a higher end Riesling was remarkably better than a $10 - $20 bottle.  This one was $40 and we had it with Sea Bass, Cuban Style.  We liked it....but not quite enough to drop $40 on a regular basis.  It did pair very well with the fish.

LoosenDry


Lastly here is another 2015 Dr. Loosen Riesling.  Dry, pear colored, flinty and high acidity.  I did not like it at all.  I am thinking our Riesling journey is coming to an end.  Not saying we won't try one in the future but it's not on the top of the shopping list.


DrLoosen  Turns out we don't like the sweet or semi-sweet Rieslings at all.  The Chateau St Michelle would be my pick with Chinese take-away if we try it again.  But overall, I'm thinking we are more Sangiovese or Chardonnay folks.

Anything is worth trying so....there is that little experiment.  If you are a wine sipper which varietals are your favorites?

Poached Sea Bass and Mahi Mahi with Viognier
{two meals with a Cuban twist}

What a week so far. The amount of rain we've had makes the grass grow taller ...too fast!  It's a lovely green though.  We'd like to move away from the swamp here....yeah, I know I have mentioned it a few times.    I think our time frame to relocate may move up from 4 years to 3. We shall see how it all goes.

If I win the Lucky Money lottery Friday I am almost certain we will be living in another state sooner than planned.   So let me not grouse about weather or health or broken air conditioners or any of that. Let me share two pretty meals.

This is a poached type sea bass, Cuban style.  Fair warning to all, sea bass is expensive!  I had no idea it was almost $25 a pound.  I also need to remember to read the recipe fully before I shop.  Once I read the recipe again I realized I need about a cup of wine to poach the fish.  (Back out to the grocery store again)   This was good but I think I prefer fish grilled rather than poached. (Grilled version coming up).  For what it's worth, we had a Dr. Loosen Riesling with the meal and while we liked it, we aren't up for spending $40 on a bottle of wine very often.


seaBass

There was enough if the sofrito mixture leftover from the sea bass meal that I hated throwing it away.  I froze it as we decided to try it on grilled fish a week later.  No freezer burn as it was a short time frame in the freezer.

Doug grilled Tile Fish and we served with it maduras, black beans and rice.  Perfect summer meal.  Recipe will follow if you'd like to try it too.

mahi1

Here is a Viognier to round out the meal.  Crisp and refreshing.

mahi2

Sea Bass Cuban Style

Ingredients
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 TB minced garlic
4 cups, seeded plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup drained capers (I left these out...cause I didn't have any)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 6 ounce sea bass fillets

Directions
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Saute onions and garlic until soft.  Add tomatoes and cook until they soften.  Now stir in wine, olives, capers and red pepper.  Heat to simmer.

Place sea bass into sauce, cover and gently simmer for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  

That's it!  It was very good but I think I prefer the grilled fish with this sauce over the poached.  Also, just a note, I cut back on the amount of fish since it's just the two of us.  That means more leftover sofrito but you can put it over a rice dish or use it with another fish meal as we did.

Coming up will be a post about Rieslings we have tried recently.  It was a comparison on dry and sweet Rieslings.  Probably Friday or Saturday for that little journey.


I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.





Gyros and Herb Roasted Potatoes - How a lunch out inspired a good dinner

Hello and happy first week of July! We took a bit of time off and it was so nice. Five full days off and we made the most of it. When we were out running errands the lunch options were a bit limited, if you want to keep it healthy.

 Well, we found a Greek restaurant with very good food and healthy options.  Tazikis  offers a nice wine selection as well as desserts to compliment the hearty entrees.  This gyro was absolutely packed with lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, chicken and Taziki sauce.  For my side dish I chose the roasted new potatoes.

Gyro

The potatoes were so good we decided we had to duplicate them at home.  A few nights later we did.  Well, not exactly as I think I used a bit too much in seasonings and herbs.  I would cut back next time but these were just about as good as the ones at Tazikis.

What do you think?  These potatoes do look like the ones at the restaurant!

potat1


Along with the potatoes we had grilled salmon with soy and sea salt, broccoli and wine.  A bowl of fresh strawberries, homemade bread and ooey cheese completed the meal.  I love eating at home!  You get so much more bang for the buck!

potat3

This meal paired very well with a crisp Sancerre.  This is a 2015 French wine with only 13% alcohol.  The Claude Riffault label states only a small amount was imported.  It was good and I might want to buy it again but at $26 a bottle, we may try a different one next time.

potat2

So now I'm hungry, looking at these photos again!  Hope your 4th of July was good.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.
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SouperSundays

Shrimp Paella and a Tomato Cucumber Salad from Beth Fish Reads

Am I ever glad it's Saturday! I want to put this past week behind us and head into the weekend with with positive things, good things.  ...