Perfect Balance

First I have to start by complimenting my dear husband. He got up last Friday in the wee hours of the morning, when it’s still quite dark, to start the 14 pound brisket in the smoker. I admit that I was skeptical. We had done some reading about smoking a packer brisket and it sure sounded complicated. There are so many things to consider…things I had never even heard of before. So to say I was nervous would be an understatement. We had a backyard full of people to feed after all.

Well, I ended up worried over nothing (Isn’t that usually the case for us natural born worriers?). Mike’s brisket was cooked to perfection – pink on the inside, crispy on the outside and oh, so juicy! There was only a morsel left (You know the last piece no one takes because no one wants to be the person to take the last piece.). And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to all of our wonderful friends that brought the tasty side dishes to share. Each one was delicious! Sadly, I was too busy to take a photo, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations. You can flashback to our “Chopped Challenge” from New Year’s to see the rub Mike used though. Great stuff!

Now back to our Australian adventures…As we adjust to being back in our school routines, it’s all about finding that perfect life balance – or at least some semblance of balance. You know, trying to find the right balance of time for work, family, exercise, marriage, volunteer work, the kids’ activities and heck, even blogging! Some days it all comes together and others, well, you just have to muddle through. Those are the kind of days when a little comfort food is in order. Like an Aussie Meat Pie. We started with a pie crust. Continue reading

Fire Up the Barbie

Well, school kicked off to a good start. Mr. N survived his first full day of school. He did come home a bit hyper and over-stimulated, but that will cease in a week or two. There’s always that adjustment period. Most importantly though, he seems happy. His nerves are gone and it’s all old hat again.

Miss A had her first day as well. No nerves for her. She was raring to go. Unlike her big brother, she didn’t come home bouncing off walls though. She was exhausted and will definitely sleep well for a few weeks while she adjusts too.

Now that the summer is winding down, birthdays and anniversaries are past, it’s time to get back to cooking around the world with Miss A at the helm. After much consideration and at least three destination changes, she arrived at Australia. So over the next few weeks we’ll be sampling some recipes from Down Under and I gotta say, we’re pretty excited. Australia is high on our list of places we’d love to visit someday, and what better place to start than in our kitchen (or on our patio). Continue reading

Off and Running

One of the great things to come out of these cooler temps we’ve been having lately is my running season is off to an early start. I don’t like to run in the summer. Temps above 75 are just not for me, which is odd because I spend at least two to three times a week in hot yoga with temperatures between 95F and 105F degrees. Anyway, today was my first morning run of the season and it was a good one. Temperatures hovering around 60, not a cloud in the sky, sun shinning, flowers still blooming – it was perfect. In fact it was so perfect, I ran farther than I ever have before (without stopping to walk) and was just getting to the point of winding down when I looked up and saw a coyote about 100 feet from me. Needless to say, my run did not wind down, but rather picked up to a speedy pace (amazing what a little adrenaline will do) and I ran back toward civilization (thank goodness for early morning golfers).

I know that coyotes are probably more afraid of us than we are of them, but I wasn’t about to hang around to find out. He never came closer, but did run parallel to me, tracking my moves until I came within range of the golfers and golf carts. Then he disappeared and I ran on home. So now that I’m all wiped out (but mentally exhilarated from an exciting first run), I’m going to turn today’s post over to Mr. N. He had a “write a blog post” on his list of things to do this summer. Take it away Mr. N… Continue reading

Smoking Good Times

At the start of the summer, on one of our little weekend getaways, the four of us sat down and made a list of things we wanted to do this season. Summer always seems to go so fast, and we’re likely to let it get away from us if we’re not careful. But we’ve found that by creating a wish list we’re more likely to actually get around to doing some of the fun things we thought up and less likely to forget.

Like visiting random historic sites.

Last weekend we realized that summer was once again passing right before our eyes and decided it was time to attack making Cornish hens (which was at the top of our “foods to make” list). We invited some friends for dinner and set to work. A co-worker had recently mentioned a recipe for smoked Cornish hens and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. We found our inspiration in a recipe from the Neelys over at the Food Network. Continue reading

Date Night

Remember back around our wedding anniversary post, we mentioned our date night to a local bistro and the amazing stuffed date appetizer we enjoyed? Well, we finally recreated our own version and, spoiler alert, we’ve made it several times over the past few weeks. It’s that good.

The restaurant version featured dates stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped with bacon and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Our version is Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates with a Balsamic Reduction. It made for a great light dinner one evening, a side dish to another meal and most recently an appetizer for a backyard dinner party with friends. It has fast become a staple – easy and delicious, and those types of meals are always going to win big here. Continue reading

Good Things in Small Packages

This is our final birthday post of the summer. We’ve been finished celebrating for a few weeks now and are just about ready to get back to our international and stateside cooking…just in time for school to start. Where did this summer go?! (Well, maybe we have some idea where this summer went.)

Miss A’s swim lessons.

Anyway, as many of you may remember, the kids get to request a special birthday meal and dessert as part of their birthday celebrations. Mr. N requested Sesame Chicken and his rather elaborate homemade birthday cake. Well, Miss A took it a little easier on me this year. She wanted pasta in a cheesy sauce and a cherry crisp. Pasta sauce and pies/crisps are totally in my wheel house. They are the two food groups that I LOVE to cook and often do without a recipe. They are totally in my comfort zone. Continue reading