Football Food Staples: Sweet and Savory Dips!

I did not grow up in a household whose sundays revolved around “Game day.”  I figured watching football was one of those things you do if you don’t have anything else planned.  But since getting married, I have learned exactly how wrong I was.

You can think I am stupid or ignorant of American past-times, but I grossly underestimated the importance of this American ritual – not to get all anthropological on you.

So with time, football has grown on me.  I know the difference between a tight end and a corner back; a safety and a touch back  And as with any American ritual, there is food involved.

Our game day menu includes some staples like wings. These knock-off Asian Zing  Wings are a favorite in our house.  And, if you live in the Seattle area, you must try the house-made sausages from this local spot!

After those main dishes: its all about the dips!

Homemade Guacamole

  • 2 large avocados,
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1 small chopped tomato
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons or so of fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste.

Mix all of the above together, and if its not this brand of tortilla chips scooping up the delicious-ness, then I will never hear the end of it.

Blue Cheese Dip 

(Great for Veggies!)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 6-8 oz. crumbled bleu cheese (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice.
  • Salt to taste (I only add a tiny bit.)

Mix all of the above together and enjoy with your fave veggies.  Carrots, celery, and bell peppers seem to be the faves around here.

Salted Caramel Dip 

(Dessert dip for apple slices!)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tbl. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

Caramel timing can be tricky, so directions can be found on the blog here.  In Washington, we love our Washington apples.  And, what says fall more than an easy caramel dessert dip?

This is how we Football.  What game-day staples rule in your house?!

Power Outages, Tree Emergencies, and Simpler Days

Two weeks ago, Seattle’s summer of hot sunny days seemingly came to a screeching halt. Rather than easing into fall weather, we plunged head first with a rain and windstorm that kept first responders, utility companies, and tree removal services employed around the clock.

Our uneventful tea-sipping morning got a whole lot more exciting when one of our trees crashed to the ground. Everyone was safe. Nothing was damaged. Police and utility companies responded. We were just one of the many crashing trees in our quiet little waterfront town that was at the mercy of wind sweeping in off the Puget Sound. Just as we lined up a tree removal company to come out, a second one of our trees also crashed to the ground.

As the typical accompaniment to trees all around, a power-outage surely followed early that afternoon. No internet, no electricity and the temptation to devour the sure-to-melt pint of ice cream in the freezer – funny how remarkably less concerned I was about my frozen broccoli.

It was nearly midnight and I was pounding out a draft of a post by candlelight and residual laptop battery-life. Raindrops pounding the skylights, wind whipping through the trees, gutters simultaneously clogged with fallen tree particles and overflowing with rainwater. Apparently the only scented candles I own – or was able to locate in the dark – were Pumpkin Spice scent so it really smelled like Fall.

But, candlelight. So peaceful. If electricity weren’t so darn convenient and if styling hair, ironing clothes, washing clothes (Did I mention we were in the middle of a wash and dry cycle that included nearly every garment we own when we lost power?), and only about 100 other things weren’t dependent upon its existence, I just might say “to hell with it!” Because, there is nothing quite like the calmness of candlelight.

In our culture, a simple event like a power outage alters our behaviors, habits, activities in a marked way. Whole cities shut down. We turn to board games, books, puzzles, flashlights, and shadow puppets when we otherwise may have surfed the web, watched a movie, channel surfed, or gone out with friends. Aside from the aforementioned hair and laundry situations, I love power-outages and event like them that force people into relationship and interaction with others in manners that cause us all to lose the veneer and dive into the authenticity of who we really are. A time away from the outside junk of life – because in general everything else is junk.

It is so culturally acceptable for us to hide behind our devices, have meaningful interactions with complete strangers online, and reference our favorite television shows as if they were family. Online friendships require little effort, investment, or risk. “Like” an Instagram post here or there. Comment on their Facebook status. Genuine? Maybe. Deeply invested in their day-to-day lives? Not in the least.

The other night I found myself answering work emails at the dinner table – something I would have hollered at Tim for, which he, of course, pointed out. So this weekend we are getting away from the junk that clutters our lives. Our phones will scarcely have service. Email access will be limited. We won’t bring computers. No, TV. Just us, a ferryboat, good books, hiking boots, beaches, kayaks, an island to explore, and real uninterrupted conversations.

It’s about time we all got rid of the everyday distractions from time to time and opt for genuine conversation, interaction, and relationship. Often times we don’t have something like a power outage to force us into taking a breath of fresh-unplugged air, so we must choose to make our own “power outages.” We have to make our own breath of fresh air.

The Fine Art of Waiting

When your life looks different than you thought it would look, what do you do?  Maybe you are one of the lucky few for whom your life looks better than you ever could have imagined, and for that, you are so thankful.  I hope that you all are in that category, but in reality, most of us fit into the category where one or more aspects of our life aren’t quite how we expected.  Maybe you aren’t in the place you expected geographically, financially, professionally, personally, or otherwise.  Put me down for a big fat “yes” to at least a couple of those.

Some folks are better at redirecting their goals and mindset than others, and I would like to think of myself as being amongst this set.  I have a handful of friends who I refer to as “The Planners.”  One of said friends was dead set on meeting the love of her life by age 22, being engaged by 23, and married by 24.  The first baby would arrive by the time she was 26 and the second 2 years later.  She would be a stay-at-home-mom and have a photography business on the side when time allowed.  As I’m sure you have already guessed, life had other plans that didn’t coincide with her strict timeline.  Resilience is not her strong suit.  When things didn’t go as planned, she felt like her life was an aimless waste.

Maybe I am afraid of disappointing myself by setting life goals like this, because I am certain that disappointment would ensue.  In fact, I make personal practice of not setting timeline expectations for major life events.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a goal setter when it comes to other things but not with regards to things that I have no control over.  I was certainly not looking for “Mr. Right” when my now-husband waltzed into the picture, but, of course, I am so glad he did.

So my non-planning self thought the international adoption process would be a breeze.  Do some paperwork.  Do some waiting.  And eventually a stork drops a child on your door step… Or something like that.

In reality, adoption should come with a disclaimer that reads “Planners need not apply,” but “Organized, redundant-paperwork loving people, sign here.”  If you fall into the former category, the process will drive you insane.  Although every ounce of my brain knows this, my heart has gotten the best of me.  With this adoption process, I find myself breaking my timeline expectation rules left and right.

If there is one thing I have learned throughout this process, it is that there are very few things in the world that I have less control over than the timing of an international adoption.  And yet, I find myself saying things like, “Next summer, when our kid is here….”  Two years ago, I was certain that by the following Christmas we would be a family of 3.  As we approach yet another holiday season, there is still no child in our midst.  Pre-conceived notions be damned.

There are only so many preparations I can make for a hypothetical, unknown child before I start walking a fine-line of crazy.  Thumb twiddling and smiling while friends become parents and in some cases, become parents again only gets a girl so far!  I never realized how crippling not being able to plan would feel.  Vacations?  On hold, due our hoarding of paid vacation time like squirrels in the winter.   Move?  And re-do our home study; are you insane?!

Am I whining about a completely first world problem?  Yes, absolutely!  But to all you planners out there, I get it!  Pushing the pause button on your life over something you have desired or worked towards is really hard.  Letting so much of life pass us by while we wait – especially when we don’t know when we get to hit “resume.”  Life doesn’t always happen on our time table and trusting that life happen when it is supposed to is even harder.  Promotions, job changes, moves, marriages, relationships, kids, etc….All can be major life-changing events and learning to be content with the status-quo until they occur is hard – even for us so-called non-planners.

Just don’t let life pass you by while you wait for whatever it is to occur…

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie

My morning smoothie obsession has begun including one of my favorite foods of all time.  Avocados.

I used to stand firmly in the camp where avocados only belong in guacamole, on BLTs, in salads, and in a smoked salmon, cream cheese omelets.  But avocado in something sweet?!?  Now thats crazy town.

And then, I ate the most delicious creamy chocolate dip at a friends house, begged for the recipe to discover that avocado was the reason it was so creamy and rich.  WHAT!?  Gross, recipe in garbage never to be made again (just kidding).   But really now, why not add avocados to something sweet?  They are a mild tasting, creamy, nutrient packed burst of awesomeness.

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So in order to punch up the creaminess of your smoothie and make it – dare I say – ice-cream like, add AVOCADO!  Frozen banana, peanut butter, some unsweetened raw cocoa powder, almond milk and of course the food of the gods – Avocado!  Wholesome nutrients masquerading as something that tastes like dessert?  I’ll take one of those please!!

Easy and delicious!  Breakfast, lunch, or snack.  For me, this is the holy grail of smoothies.  On days when I have no interest in eating healthy, this concoction tricks my body into thinking I am splurging when really I am getting a big boost of vitamin E, protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and antioxidants.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie  

  • 1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 med/large avocado
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder.

This recipe makes two smoothies.

Blend almond milk and frozen banana until smooth.  Add avocado and blend until combined.  Then add peanut butter and cocoa powder and blend well.

Easy and delicious!  Breakfast, lunch, or snack.  For me, this is the holy grail of smoothies.  For days when I have no interest in eating healthy, this concoction tricks my body into thinking I am splurging – when really I am getting a big boost of vitamin E, protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and antioxidants.

So on occasion, skip the berries and kale and go for one of these babies!  Smoothie lovers, milkshake lovers, kids, health-food averse husbands, and people who like delicious things will all be lining up for one of these.