Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nothing says 'I Love You' like Stuffed Peppers

On Valentine's Day, Dean took me out to a lovely dinner. I volunteered to return the favor and cook him a big Italian meal on Saturday night. My husband is 100% Italian (imagine!), and in his family, nothing says love quite like a pot of homemade sauce. So, I set out to spread the love.

Good thing I grocery shopped on Friday, because most of Saturday was spent in the kitchen. I made chicken parmesan, pasta, salad, and stuffed peppers. This was my second shot at making stuffed peppers, one of his family's favorite dishes. You know it is a special occasion (or a good day) when his mom or Nana are frying them up on the stove. Last year for Dean's birthday, I called his Nana, and she gave me the recipe. Here it is:

Go to an Italian market in your area (sometimes Publix has them) and buy a jar of green and red sweet peppers. They should be plum-sized and soaking in vinegar. There are about 12 good peppers per jar. De-seed and de-stem them (cut a circle around the top and pull out the stem.) Rinse them very well to remove all the vinegar.

Take a 5-6 slices of white bread, and crumble them on the largest holes of the grater. It will feel a little awkward at first to "grate" soft white bread, but it works. (Watch your fingers.)

You will have a nice pile of bread crumbs as your base for the stuffing.

Add salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic (I used garlic powder), parsley flakes, and "2 handfuls" of grated Romano Italian cheese (Nana uses Kraft). Beat one egg and mix in, sprinkle a little olive oil and a drop or two of milk to make it soft. Dean likes it with raisins and pine nuts, which add lots of flavor, so I mixed these in as well, but they are optional.

Then, mix it with your hands or a fork. You want it to have the same soft, wet consistency as hamburger meat. I like using my hands (I feel authentic:). My wedding rings sat this step out.

Stuff the peppers using a spoon.

In a frying pan, heat 1/2 cup of corn oil on low to medium heat. Add about 6 peppers at a time and fry them open-side down first. This seals in the stuffing.

Brown each side of the peppers slowly. You want each side to cook until it is wrinkly. This takes some time. I made 13 today, and I was at the frying pan for an hour, turning them from side to side. But it is so worth it!

Tip (or bad idea, I'm not sure which): I lean the peppers on their side against the 'walls' of the pan to get the sides to cook. Or against each other. The trick is getting a round object to stand on its side. Tricky!

When all sides are sufficiently wrinkled, you are done. Serve with Italian bread for a snack or along with your meal.

Mmmm! They look a little crazy (the raisins aren't photogenic, you must excuse them), but boy are they delicious!! Manga, manga!!

Now, that's Amore!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day, Baby

Today is a beautifully special day for me because it is my first Valentine's Day as a married woman. I know-- it is an over-commercialized holiday, and so many of you despise today because of all the sap it represents. I have been there. But for me, this Valentine's Day is a sweet chance to acknowledge and celebrate the Love of my Life.

Thank God, he finally came.

To all you lovely ladies and gents out there who are heartsick on this red Thursday, I want to remind you that your life can spin on a dime. Today, you may be missing that Special One you have yet to meet. You may be pouting or discouraged or even mad about the fact that No One has appeared in your life.

But let me tell, I just spoke with a friend who, like you, had been scouring the earth for years, looking for that perfect one, and wondering all along if he had missed her, or if he should settle just so he could settle down. Now as he plans his spring wedding, I know that he would shout to you, "It is worth the wait!" When he met this ONE, it was altogether different, far surpassing anyone or any depressing Valentine's Day that had gone before.

If you are waiting, be encouraged. If you are lonely, it is for good reason. Because when God brings that Perfect(for you) Person along, it will put everything into perspective. And it will be worth it.

I know...Because this is my thirteenth week of wedded bliss, and I finally have a Reason to celebrate Valentine's Day. It looks like this:

Happy Valentine's Day, Dean. I love you!


Monday, February 4, 2008

It's a Jungle in Here

Home Decorating Chronicle #1: The new wife decorates the husband's home of 3 years.

I am a bright color kind of girl. In the 3 months since we've been married, the stainless steeled kitchen is now accented with lime green, the solid white dishes have been replaced with a brightly-colored fruit pattern, and our bedroom is laden with cranberry red.
I love our home. Dean built it almost 4 years ago and has lived in it alone since. He has great Italian taste - in fact, when I came over for a New Year's Eve party on the night he first asked me out, the very first thing I noticed were the classy light fixtures. Euro, stylish, and it proved he had an eye for detail. Which is great. Hot, even.

Now, let me mention that our living room is light blue. My Better-Half is proud of these walls in the otherwise leather-brown living room. He says the actual name is "Silver Sage." He picked it out originally and loves it today because he finds it calm and soothing. And it is a beautiful color, I admit. But it seems too....quiet. For me, anyway.

In the meantime, we decided to get a new rug for this room. I love animal print, so I proposed (in a sweet little voice) that we go bold with the light blue den and get a zebra rug. To my surprise, the Man was game.

Could it work with a blue-ish room?, I debated back and forth. But I knew I would love it when I saw this picture online (not my house, though i wish):

So when I found this at T.J. Maxx, I pounced (ha) and had the sales associate carry it to my car.

But I once I got home, and put it with the brown leather couch, the hardwoods, and the brown wood blinds, I decided that the black and stark white was too bright and loud. But guess who had since fallen in love with a crazy zebra rug??? Oh, yes. The "calm, soothing light blue" boy.

I convinced him that if I could find a brown zebra rug, it would look better. And so it might. But when we wound up at Pottery Barn, he took one look at the rug and said: "Don't zebras only come in black and white?"

Hmm...good point. But this was not the time to be literal. Who knows what color zebras come in? Not me. And who cares, as long as it brings our den to life. We bought it just the same. And put it under the leather couch/ottomans.

Him: "Babe, this rug looks dirty!"

Me: "I think it is the caramel background color."

Him: "Zebras come in caramel??"

Now we have two huge zebra rugs at the house (zoo), both of which are wrong. The first one too stark, the second one too muted, and we are hoping that Goldilocks (just right!) is waiting for us at West Elm. There the zebras come in ivory and espresso.

New to this blog?

Welcome to Beloved and So Are You ~ I am glad you are here! You are invited to join this blog community - just click on Followers on the right. Come along and enjoy!