Monday, April 07, 2014

Saying goodbye...

My Grandpa passed away peacefully yesterday morning with my mom and uncle by his side. He was 97.

I take tremendous comfort in knowing that he's reuniting in heaven with Grandma and enjoying
17 kisses with his beloved wife, who he shared 67 blessed years with.

Grandma and Grandpa on their wedding day 

Grandpa was like our own energizer bunny, rebounding from illnesses and health issues for years. But before then, he was full of energy, working on his own farm well into his 70s.

He was the strong, quite type (perhaps because he had a hard time getting a word in edgewise with Grandma, who loved to talk ;). Even though he was a man of few words, we all knew that...

He loved the Lord.

He loved Grandma.

And he loved his family....

(not to mention dry roasted peanuts and making homemade applesauce, which he asked to make even in his last days).

Grandpa will always have a special place in my heart, not only because of the man he was, but also because he shared a special birthday trifecta with my Daddy and son.

We'll miss you Grandpa...give Grandma a kiss for me ;)

Friday, April 04, 2014

Show us your...Paintings

Art has been an off and on part of my life since high school. Thanks to a gifted art teacher, Mr. Lowe, art was one of my favorite subjects. I loved the creative assignments he'd challenge us with, including this one watercolor that was inspired by my volleyball trip to China (as part of an international sports exchange team).

I dabbled in painting in college, enough so to earn an Art minor. This is one of my favorite oil paintings from that time...the oriental rug took me forever to get just right.

But then real life took over. Work. Marriage. Kids. And my desire to paint went by the wayside.

Through the years, I've been inspired by my children to break out my paintbrushes now and again to create something for them.

Recently, I've added one more piece to my art collection. This one crafted during a wine and canvas event with friends. While I would have painted it much differently if I were doing it on my own time, it was a fun experience and proved that my enjoyment of painting is still flourishing.

Here's hoping that 2014 is the year that I continue to add to my own art collection.

This post was inspired by my mastermind group of friends NaomiAnne and Jenny, who are all blogging today about the theme "Show us your..."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Heinen's Sunday Supper

Disclaimer: This post is part of Heinen’s #HeinensSundaySupper campaign. I was given a gift card in exchange for sharing what Sunday Suppers mean to me. I am a regular Heinen's shopper and all thoughts 100% my own.

Growing up, we always had suppers together (yes, we called it supper, not dinner like my children are used to calling it these days). It wasn't fancy, and more often than not it was of the "meat and potato" variety (thanks to my grandpa raising his own cattle and us growing our own vegetables.) But we were together and that's all that mattered.

Today, our family situation does not allow for nightly dinners together. But we are able to enjoy meals together on the weekend and that's why I try to put a little more effort into planning and preparing meals or trying new recipes we can enjoy with our dinner conversation. I recently discovered a spicy shrimp & eggplant dish and it has quickly become one of our favorites. It's not a quick dish by any means, so I tend to only make this on the weekend, when I'm not rushed to get a meal quickly on the table after work. But, man oh man, the flavors are well worth my time in the kitchen.

Step 1: Prepping the eggplant

Peel and slice 2 eggplant into 1/2 slices. Lay on a cutting board and sprinkle generously with salt. Rest for 5-10 minutes, flip over eggplant slices and repeat on the other side. Don't skip this helps the eggplant release some of the bitter taste it normally has. Once you've finished, rinse with water and pat dry.

See all that beading up of liquid on the eggplant...that's from the salt. It's a good thing.

Step 2: The sauce (aka, finger licking, son wants me to make this all the time, tastes so good sauce)

Saute 1 small diced onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 bay leaves and 1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning in 2 teaspoons oil until onions are tender.

Then add in 1 1/2 cups water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 ounces Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons white wine and simmer on low until it reduces by half. Then add in 4-5 ounces heavy whipping cream and 3-4 tablespoons butter (it's Sunday Supper, so it's worth the splurge). Sprinkle a little corn starch in (about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon) and whisk together to help thicken it into a gravy consistency.

Step 3: Breaded eggplant

While the sauce is simmering, you can start breading the eggplant. I filled a shallow dish with panko, grated Parmesan cheese and mixed it with a sprinkling of Creole seasoning and pepper. Sorry, I don't have exact measurements, I just eyeball it until it looks right...I take after my mother that way ;)

Next, dip the eggplant slices in an egg wash (I used 3 eggs), then dredge the egg-covered eggplant it in the panko mixture. Once breaded, fry the eggplant in a saute pan with hot oil (I used olive oil) for 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown. I kept the eggplant warm while I finished the remaining batches by placing the cooked eggplant on a warm baking tray in a 250 degree oven.

Step 4: The shrimp

Saute 1 pound of fresh (or thawed) shrimp for 1-2 minutes and then stir into the prepared sauce. Heinen's seafood is definitely top notch so I opted for the fresh shrimp.

Step 5: The waiting is over

Grab a plate of breaded eggplant and cover it with the shrimp / sauce. Then try not to inhale this too quickly.

This dish is so good it's completely devoured by 3 of our 4 family members in minutes (please tell me I'm not the the only one that struggles with pleasing everyone with menu planning?)

After I'm done licking my fingers, I'm left with a counter full of dishes....but man, is it worth the effort.

So, what is your favorite thing to make for Sunday Supper?

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