Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The "Us Factor" and other delicious bites...

The other night I was sitting with the mountains and a glass of Chardonnay and my manuscript. I was thinking how amazing my life was at this moment, how great it was working out to choose love instead of fear, to take a risk and end up in bliss. I was also reading my manuscript realizing that it didn't suck as much as I thought it was going to and I was feeling pretty good about following my heart, staying in my bubble, and essentially doing what I want.

While I was in my bliss, I got a call from my boyfriend. I was delighted, as he is another part of my bliss and I shared my feelings of happiness with him. I was sharing how great it was that I kept myself happy while he did the same and all was terrific! Then we started negotiating about the first weekend that I had off since I started my bartending job. My only requirement is that we get 'lost in the woods'.

We both had great ideas, but with the 4 hour commute between us things weren't quite as easy as I had hoped. The conversation looked a little like me saying, "Well, we'll figure it out. Let's make a compromise, but we'll do whatever makes us happy like we always do. I will take care of myself and you take care of you and it will be perfect. I'm not worried." I was smiling as I said it naively, to which he responded, "Yes, but honey there is the 'us factor'.

I stopped cold and thought to myself, "What?!? Damn!" This is where the rubber meets the road, where it isn't ALWAYS entirely about me and what I want all the time?!? Maybe this is what my best friend meant when I told her I was afraid of loosing myself in a relationship and she responded matter of factly, "Good luck with that." I guess when you are in a friendship or romantic relationship compromises are important so is looking after yourself and being fair to the other person.

What do I do now with this "Us factor"? Instead of following that thought, I took a deep breath and realized that it's ALL GOOD. And it is. Everything will work out exactly as it is supposed to if I stay in this moment. In honor of the "Us factor" I am sharing my man's recipe for his famous balls (Mantastic Meatballs that is) and Beer Brownies. What could be more decadent? This meal is dedicated to the men and women in our lives that add the spice, the nice, and the chaotic complication that we all deserve and long for. This menu is designed for the men and women that share their lives, their lusts, their arguments and live in the "us factor" that is real life.

And P.S. as you may be able to tell from the pictures, the weekend was a huge success and we both did compromise, he probably more than me, but in the end we had a great weekend filled with hot springs, riverside camp sites, and gorgeous sunshiney skies. It turned out ALL GOOD just like I had predicted!

Man-tastic Meatballs

1 pound Italian Sausage
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley; minced
1/2 medium white onion; diced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. dried red pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs

Tantalizing Tomato Sauce

1/2 white onion; diced
3 cloves garlic; minced
1 can tomato paste (6 ounces)
6 ounces water
1 can whole tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 can Hunt's Tomato Basil sauce (29 ounces)
1 can crushed tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 bunch fresh basil (1/4 cup chopped)

~Mix all ingredients with your hands lightly in a large bowl until all ingredients are incorporated into a thick meat mix.

~Using your hands form the meat into medium sized meat balls rolling the meat in your palms. The meatballs should fit nicely in the palm of your hand. Once the meatballs have been formed set them aside and lets start on the tomato sauce!

~Next, heat a large sauce pan. Place a small sprinkle of olive oil at the bottom and allow to heat. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions begin to blonde. Add the tomato paste and fill the tomato paste can with water and swirl together with the onions and garlic until smooth.

~Add the can of whole tomatoes and crush them into the sauce using a potato masher. Then add the Hunt's tomato sauce and the crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. Then add the chopped fresh basil and turn the heat down to low. Now it's time to brown the meatballs.

~Heat a large skillet with 1 tsp. of olive oil in the bottom. Place meatballs in one layer in the hot skillet and cook on each side over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes or until each side is crispy. Once each side of the meatball is crispy; transfer the meatballs into the sauce dropping them into the yummy tomato sauce!

~Continue cooking the meatballs until all are cooked and swimming in the tomato sauce. Allow the meatballs and sauce to cook together for another 20 minutes while you cook your favorite whole wheat pasta noodles.

~Serve the meatballs and sauce over the pasta and you have perfect Italian delight!

Recipe Note: This makes a lot of meatballs. What we like to do is take half and freeze them either after they have been browned and re-heat them when you are ready over medium heat in a large sauce pan with tomato sauce for a few hours. Or you can freeze them raw and thaw them overnight in the fridge and cook them fresh the next day. It makes having spaghetti and meatballs an easy treat for a weeknight!

Beer Brownies

1 package brownie mix
1 cup beer (I used a local amber, but you can use a great stout like Guinness too!)

~Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

~Mix the brownie mix and the beer and pour into a 9 X 12 baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

~Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Chocolate Beer Ganache

6 tablespoons Smart Balance butter
2 1/2 cups baking splenda
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup amber or stout beer
 1/2 cup each semi-sweet and white chocolate chips

~Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl for 45 seconds.

~Add the melted butter, splenda, cocoa powder, vanilla, and beer in a mixing bowl using a wire whisk until it is smooth.

~Once brownies are done cooking; allow the brownies to cool for 20 minutes. Then pour the beer ganache over the top of the brownies and smooth over the top using a spatula.

~Sprinkle the semi sweet and white chocolate chips over the top and serve. It will blow your socks off! You'll never make brownies the same again! Serve with ice cream and whip cream over the top for an added treat. You deserve it!

Mental Health Benefit: Okay, so it might not always be about me or even about you, but it is important to always look after yourself first. I have learned this the hard way pretending I was an invincible Lumberjack only to find out that I am like everyone else, mortal and require assistance from time to time. Allow yourself the luxury of taking care of yourself and always accepting help when offered and ask for it when it's not. Also, don't worry if you are confronted by your own "us factor" it actually can be a lot of fun! Let the good shine in your lives and on your meals!

~ Wishing you the ALL GOOD vibes from my kitchen to yours!

A little Hot Mess lost in the woods! ;)


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, there are worse things then losing yourself in a relationship - getting lost inside your own head for example. As long as you get lost in the right "us" it's all good.
Love and other indoor sports,


Hot Mess Cooking said...

Yes, getting lost in your own head is pretty much like getting lost in a big maze.. best not to go there!