Tag Archives: Side dish

Herb-Roasted Carrots

One of the reasons that it is really, really great that I have Fritz around is that he keeps me accountable to make real food for dinner.  Not that he demands it, ’cause he doesn’t, but because it’s fun to cook for someone who is so appreciative, and well…let’s face it–he gets a little grumpy when he’s underfed.

I have a weird tendency when he isn’t home (or in this case, when he gets food at school) to made a side dish, eat it as a main dish, and then have a bowl of cereal a few hours later when I unavoidably get hungry again.  It’s not really the best life strategy, except that it’s easy and I get to test side dishes for future filling, nutritious, and well-rounded meals.

Herb-Roasted Carrots

  • 8-10 medium-sized carrots, scrubbed
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 1 t each your choise of fresh herbs, chopped–I used garlic chives and curry leaves
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the carrots down (or peel them if they are big, bad carrots and not sweet baby or adolescent carrots), and chop them in half lengthwise if necessary (the bigger they are, the more likely you chop).

Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs and salt.  Toss them until they are lightly coated with oil and herbs, then bake at the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

They will be soft and naturally sweet, but with a nice salty, herby flavor.

You could also toss these on the grill for a smokier version.  That’d be excellent.

I also found these carrots (from our CSA box) to be more orange than your average carrot.  It’s not just the picture.  Crazy, huh?

Tomorrow is my second day of my pediatrics clinical, and so far (I know, one whole day of experience) I’m really liking it.  I’m not sure if that is so much because I’m finally getting to do what I really want to do, or if because working at a school means that I get to come home and see this face by 2:30 on Tuesdays and Thursday:

Either way, I like it.

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Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

It’s almost unbelievable that it’s been ten years already since that day when, in the midst of my ninth grade ignorance, I found myself watching live footage of a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center with my fellow classmates.  I don’t remember much except being shocked and a little detached–I don’t think I was old enough to really understand the significance of what happened.

Well, ten years later, we’re still here–and I understand a lot more about what happened that day.  I watched an incredibly powerful video in church today documenting the men and woman who, through either circumstance or choice, gave their lives in that tragic and terrible event.  And even just by writing about this on my blog, I’m reminding myself that though ten years can encompass new pets, a couple of boyfriends and a husband, a high school diploma and a degree and a half, several moves across the state, purchasing two cars, and the promise of a brand new niece or nephew, I won’t forget.

September 11th also marks another anniversary–the one year anniversary of my blog!  If you want to see how far I’ve come–here’s the first post I ever wrote (and what an ambitious one it was, making apple pie): A Brand New Beginning.

A couple of people gave me suggestions for what to make with cilantro, and I decided to go with my sister, Erin’s idea, for cilantro and lime rice.  She sent me this recipe, which I used as inspiration for this fresh and yummy side dish.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C hot water
  • 1/4-1/2 C cilantro (I measured the amount before I diced it), finely chopped
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of half a lime (but adjust as you like it–this was about 2-3 T)
  • salt to taste

I decided to make this in a fried-rice style because I love the nutty taste it gives to brown rice.  Start by browning the shallot over medium heat, then toss the dried rice into the oil as well.  Let the rice fry with the shallots for a few minutes until it starts to smell toasty. 

Pour the two cups of hot water over the rice, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the lime zest, juice, and cilantro, and season with salt to taste.

I actually loved this rice–very simple flavors, but bright and fresh with the lime and cilantro.  It would be so good with tacos.  So good.

Erin–good call!

I think that for lunch tomorrow I’m going to throw some chickpeas in there to make it a heartier meal and have it as a main dish.  Since Fritz hates cilantro, I’m going to be able to try this rice in a couple different ways.

It’s also quite simple and quick to make, which is always a bonus.

For the remaining cilantro, which was looking a bit wilty, I chopped it up and froze it (see here for a tutorial).  I’m planning on using it in a Thai pork kind of meal (also an inspiration from another blog reader!).

And aren’t these baby red potatoes a beauty?  I cooked ’em as salt potatoes tonight with fantastic results–they were creamy bite size potato packages.

I want to leave you with a question tonight–what is your most powerful memory of 9/11?

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Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes

One thing my mom has always been really good at is giving me a challenge to complete.  And alongside that, she also gifted me the genetic drive to want, nay, the need to complete every challenge to award myself the ultimate satisfaction.

So when she handed me a bag of farro and a jar of artichoke hearts, the challenge was proffered.  And I accepted.

Plus, she always offers to buy whatever other ingredients I need.  Can’t resist that offer.

Farro with Mushrooms & Artichokes Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 C cooked farro (instructions below)
  • 2 T butter
  • 3 shallots (or one small onion), diced
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced (I used bella, but others would work)
  • 1 small can artichoke hearts, quartered (I used the kind packed in water, not oil)
  • 1 t dried ground thyme
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)

Start off by pre-cooking the farro.  Bring two cups of water to a boil and 1 C freshly rinsed farro.  Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the farro is tender (about 25-30 minutes).

And farro, by the way, is delicious.  Kinda like barley, if you’ve never had it.  In fact, you can sub barley in for this recipe, or use any other grain (spelt? brown rice?  The world is your oyster).

Once the farro is nearly ready, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then toss in the mushrooms (it’d probably be a good idea to do the mushrooms in two batches so you don’t crowd them–Julie & Julia, anyone?).  Once most of the liquid is cooked out of the mushrooms, add the remaining ingredients (including the cooked farro), and simmer on low until the rest of the liquid cooks down.

Oh, man.  Yum.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The farro gets a nice and creamy taste (without cream!), thanks to all the liquid that cooks with it.  Plus, can you really go wrong with butter, mushrooms, and white wine?

I mean, not really.  No.  The answer is no.  You can’t go wrong.

And if you were to imbibe in a refreshing glass of wine while this is bubbling away on the stove, no one could blame you.  I certainly wouldn’t.

Add some grilled tuna steaks to this meal, and you have really sealed the deal.  I’d come over for dinner.  You can invite me at lauren@fullmeasureofhappiness.com or on my Facebook page.

No, really.  Or invite Fritz over, because he’s all alone on Long Island, and probably hungry.  And Henry?  He’s definitely starving.  Always is.

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Zucchini Fritters

So for breakfast this morning I decided to make zucchini fritters.  In one of those highly anticipated moments of pure bliss, heaven and earth came together in a flash of blinding light when I stumbled upon a recipe that looked good (in Food and Wine) and actually had all of the ingredients on hand.  Not only that, but I was hoping to use up some zucchini and the rest of some ricotta cheese before our vacation starts on Saturday.

Those moments are just the best, aren’t they?

Zucchini Fritters Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients, mixing in the flour last until just combined.

So easy.

Traditionally, you would fry these fritters in olive oil for a few minutes on each side.  That’s what the magazine said.  I, however, would like to be able to wear a bikini and therefore baked and broiled my fritters.  But it’s up to you.  I won’t judge you either way.

Drop spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture on an oiled baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon (this recipe should make about 20 fritters).  Bake them for 5-10 minutes on the middle rack, then turn the broiler on and broil for a few minutes on each side, until they are golden and crispy.  You may have to do these in two batches.

I really liked these; Fritz, however, did not at all.  He ate one bite and then quietly packed them up into a Tupperware, trying not to hurt my feelings.

They weren’t hurt.  More fritters for me!

You can recrisp these in the oven, set at 350, for a few minutes on each side.

Fritters aside, I spent all day reorganizing the apartment and somehow managed to fully complete the main room.  I rearranged furniture, went through piles of books, and did a lot of dusting.  It’s amazing how we fit so much stuff into such a small space!  To show you the extent of my work, here’s on example–the dreaded linen (and everything else) closet.  Before:

And after!

The most fun part about doing this kind of reorganizing is when you first start and the house looks like it was completely ransacked–though Henry was so excited to have new places to play sleep.

Here’s some of the finished product–including the table piled with goods to donate and/or sell:

And of course I can’t forget CSA box number 10!  Boxes number 11 and 12 are going to be picked up by a friend of mine to enjoy while we are on vacation–I’ll miss them…but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it!

Good night!

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Grilled Radicchio & Pear Salad

We did a pretty good job cleanin’ out the CSA box from last week, but there was that dreaded lingering head of radicchio.

Though I actually really liked the chicken and radicchio pasta salad from last week, I hate to repeat recipes so soon, and this definitely raised concerns that I wouldn’t be able to top that salad.  Fritz is especially not a big fan of anything bitter, and radicchio is, um…quite bitter.  Downright disgusting raw, I must say.

Several people suggested that I try grilling it, and I just wasn’t convinced that this would alter the bitterness enough to enjoy it.  But when I came home from a long day of class and the house was 90 degrees inside, I knew that the grilling was on.

Hold on to your seats, friends, because it works.  It really, really worked.

Grilled Radicchio & Pear Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 small head radicchio, cut into quarters
  • 1 ripe pear, large dice
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t mustard (I used hot and sweet)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut the radicchio into quarters, leaving the core largely intact, and brush with a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over indirect medium-high heat until wilted, with some crisp on the outer leaves.  This should only take a few minutes on each flat side of the quarter.

Meanwhile, mix the balsamic vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese together with a fork until well blended.

When the radicchio is done, slice and divide onto plates.  Sprinkle with the pear and drizzle with dressing.

This recipe made three nicely sized entrée salads for Fritz, Eber, and I, but it could make 4-6 little side salads, too.

I couldn’t believe how good the radicchio was once it was grilled!  Fritz still found some of the inner pieces to be a little too bitter for his taste, but for the most part he enjoyed it.

He also couldn’t tell that there was mustard in the dressing, which is good because he claims to hate mustard.  I, however, have yet to see the definitive evidence of this hatred–every time I make something with mustard in it and don’t tell him, he finds it to be quite delicious.  Veeeery suspect.

Fritz and I also had an intense play session with Henry today, involving his arch nemesis–a paper towel roll.  However, the tables turned on Fritz when Henry spotted a much more fun (and interactive) target:

No, that’s not my foot.  That hairy leg belongs to Fritz.  I continued to egg Henry on and reinforce his bad habits by not stepping in to rescue Fritz until things went from bad to worse:

Henry was without a doubt a serious warrior in his previous life.

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Summertime Farrotto (Farro Risotto)

Ugh, this week kinda stinks.  Even though I only have three days of classes, I have two tests and I definitely didn’t study at all over the long weekend.  So, it’s a little bit stressful but it’s also my fault and I know it, and that’s the worst combination.

So in times of stress, what do I do?  Yep.  Try new recipes.

I’ve had some farro in the cupboards for a while now, and with the fresh carrots from the CSA box, and frozen peas from my parent’s garden, I knew there was something magical to be made.  As I was sitting in class, thinking about how much studying needed to happen tonight, a wisp of an idea took flight.  Farrotto.  Farro.  In risotto form.

Summertime Farrotto (serves 4-6)  Summertime Farrotto Recipe Card

  • 1 C dry farro
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 C frozen peas (I actually had 1 1/4 C of peas, so I just used ’em all)
  • 4-5 C broth (I’d suggest using half water and half broth so it’s not too salty) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (1 t fresh leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the broth and water combo in a small saucepan over medium heat–you can bring to a boil and then turn down to just below a simmer.  The key for cooking a risotto (or a farrotto, in fact) is to keep the broth hot at all times, but to not boil it off, either).

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, carrots, and peas.  Saute until softened.  Add the bay leaf and thyme, and cook another minute.  Meanwhile, I’d suggest giving the farro a quick whirl in a food processor just to break up the big grains a bit–not too much, just to crack most of ’em.  Once the veggies are softened, add the farro and stir around for a minute or two just to toast ’em.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the broth half a cup at a time, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Also make sure you keep that farrotto stirred up–you don’t want a crust on the bottom, like a paella.  Once the broth is absorbed, add another half a cup.  Keep adding it until the farro reaches the creamy and soft consistency you want.  I used all five cups, but you could stop at four if you wanted.

Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

We served this with a gorgeous steak (thanks, Dad!) that had a dill and chili powder dry rub on it, grilled to perfection by the grill master himself (hi Fritz!).  On the side we each had half of a small zucchini that was spritzed with olive oil and dusted with smoked paprika before being grilled facedown.

Heaven.

I couldn’t decide which part of the meal I liked best–the farrotto, the zucchini, or the steak.  So yummy.  It’s also nice to have the rest of the meal be so easy because risotto-style cooking requires you to stand by the oven for a while.  With the dry rub already made in the cupboard, all I had to do was hand the meat and veggie part of dinner over to Fritz.

And for dessert we watched an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County because, let’s be honest, we all crave junk sometimes!

I’m off to make vast quantities of tea and stay up late studying.  Wish me luck–lots of it.

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Sweet ‘N’ Sour Cabbage

Can you believe that it is week five of my CSA box already?  I have probably tripled (at least) my greens intake over the last month, and I have to tell you, I have never felt so great.  I have a green monster every day (either for breakfast or lunch), then usually a big salad (lunch or dinner), and of course there are always more veggies on the side of whatever fancy dinner I feel like making.  I am constantly finding ways to use all the fresh vegetables in the fridge in ways that are different and exciting and filling.

It’s been quite a fun adventure so far!  Here’s what came in the box this week:

Fritz and I are traveling to my parents’ house in upstate NY tomorrow for the long weekend, so we’ll have help finishing off all these vegetables from all of our family and friends.  We’ll need the energy, because my mom informed me that she booked us for a level III/IV white water rafting trip on Friday.

I’m scared.  I’m also glad that Fritz is a certified lifeguard.

So with all the vegetables from the CSA lying around, I can’t attempt to explain what would possess me to stop at the farm stand and buy more other than that I found a really yummy looking recipe I was dying to try.  So here it is:

Sweet ‘N’ Sour Cabbage  (adapted from You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman)  Sweet ‘N’ Sour Cabbage Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 small head of red cabbage, shredded (I’ll show you how!)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 C red wine vinegar

To shred the cabbage, rinse and remove the outer wilty layers.  Trim the stalk end, then slice in half vertically.  Place on half cut-side down, and slice horizonally very thinly starting at the end opposite the stalk.  Voila!  Shredded cabbage.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion until softened.  Add the cabbage, sugar, salt, thyme, and water, and stir.  Partially cover and allow to cook until the cabbage is softened, about half an hour.  Check the cabbage frequently enough to make sure there is enough water. 

Remove from the heat and admire.  Once you add the vinegar, the cabbage will turn from deep purple to a more bright red color, through some magical chemical reaction that I’m sure my mom knows all about (something about acidity, I’d wager a guess).

Add more salt to taste if desired, and store in a jar in the fridge–you can also add red pepper flakes.  I forgot, but I may toss in a pinch when I have this as part of my lunch tomorrow.

Perfectly sweet and tangy without being overpowering.

You can eat this warm or cold, alone or on a salad, or next to a big chunk o’ meat.

Speaking of meat, I need to make a meal with some real soon.  Fritz asked me sadly today if we are turning into vegetarians (ha!).  I don’t realize how little meat we are eating, because I usually have some in my salad every day.  Sorry Fritz! (By the way, I put some sliced ham into the Cheesy Peasy Couscous from yesterday to give to Fritz for dinner today, and he was mollified).

Anyway, I have a big urge to lie down and read (I started Mansfield Park today) and I also have to finish (…or start) packing for our weekend.  Au revoir!

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Fennel Gratin

Things are a bit lazy around these parts:

We had a nice long gym session this morning (I did what felt like at least 3,326,359,644 split squats–my quads have never burned so much in my life), ran a bunch of errands, and come home just in time for lunch.  I was leafing through some cookbooks yesterday and found something that looked really promising–fennel gratin.

After hearing a lot about fennel, I bought a giant bulb a few months ago and tried grilling it–and I wasn’t a huge fan.  Just that weird licorice taste I don’t like that much.  Needless to say, when I received three little bulbs in my CSA box this week, I got a little nervous.  So what’s a girl to do with a vegetable she’s not too sure about?

Cover it in cheese.

Fennel Gratin (from Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust A Skinny Cook–serves 4)

  • 2 medium or 3 small bulbs fennel, cut into thin wedges (I also used the stalks, sliced into small circles)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 C shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1-2 T grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wash the fennel and slice it into wedges by cutting the bulbs in half lengthwise, then into wedges from there.  I also sliced the stalks at this point.  Place into a baking dish (I used a 9″ pie pan) and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cover with foil and place into the oven until the fennel is softened, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the foil and roast for another 15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and preheat the broiler.  Sprinkle the top with cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is bubbling and golden, about 3-5 minutes.

Oh gosh, this smelled so good.  The scary fennel taste went from straight-up black licorice (ew) to a slightly oniony, sweet and nutty flavor.

I was so wrong about fennel.  Fritz and I ate this entire dish for lunch (it’s okay–only 110 calories per serving, ya know), and I could have gone for more.  This is the perfect side dish for any fancy dinner (hello, Thanksgiving!).

The best part was obviously the cheese, but I am pleasantly surprised to be able to tell you that I have been converted over to fennelism.  You should try it!

Fritz also managed to capture this handsome guy perched out on our deck.  We have a nice blue jay couple that hangs out in our backyard, accompanied by the duck couple that frequents our pond.  Guess the animals can just tell that love is in the air around here.

And on another exciting note, by popular request, I’m trying out a new feature: printable recipe cards.  I’m putting it here for now, but in the future they’ll be located by the recipe title.  Let me know if they work, and what you’d like to see changed about them!

 Fennel Gratin Printable Recipe Card

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Gingery Bok Choy

So much to talk about!

I guess I’ll have to split it up over a couple of days, ’cause I have some serious test-age coming up this week, and I need to start studying as of three days ago.  So this’ll have to be quick.

We had a mini-BBQ on saturday, and our favorite LI couple, the Jensens, came over to hang out.  They were later joined by Carrie and Mike, and we had a blast just running around and playing (well, the boys did), eating, and taking pictures.

That night, we picked up Fritz’s parents from the airport and his sister from the train station, and a Zietsman fest commenced.  More on that later.

Off in the land of food, I had some CSA loose ends to tie up (meaning: greens to use up before they went bad), and I searched for a quick ‘n’ easy bok choy side dish recipe that only used ingredients I already had in stock, and preferably one that used only a few of said ingredients.  Success.

Gingery Bok Choy  (serves 2-4, original recipe here)

  • 1 lb baby bok choy (the grown-up kind is okay, too)
  • 1 t canola oil
  • 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced or grated
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (I used dried–I know, shame on me)
  • salt to taste

Most important part–cut off the ends of the bok choy and submerge all the leaves in water.  This is vital especially if you got your veggies from a CSA or farmer’s market, ’cause there’s a lot of grit in there that I assume you’d rather not eat.  Leave it in there for a few minutes, swish it around, drain, and rinse one more time.

In a cold wok/pan, add the canola oil, ginger, and garlic and place over medium heat.  I learned this today–start with a cold pan because otherwise the ginger and garlic will burn really fast.  This is especially true for me since I used dried garlic, which is halfway to burnt anyway.

Once it starts to sizzle, add the bok choy leaves and stir it around, allowing the leaves to get nice and tender.  This should only take a few minutes.  Then boom!  You’re done!  Season with salt to taste.

I love easy recipes like this.

Plus, it sounds fancy because it’s made with bok choy.  Most people have never seen or eaten bok choy (but they should! It’s delicious!).  I love ginger, but even if you don’t, give this a try.  The ginger isn’t overwhelming and goes really well with the garlic.

Oh–someone wants to say hi.

It’s been a while.  He’s feeling much better and back to his evil, biting, cuddling, purring, sleeping on my neck all night long self.  So glad to have him back to normal!

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Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

I remember the first time that I had sweet potato fries.

Well, I remember the first time that I remember having sweet potato fries, but it is possible I had them earlier and don’t remember.  But that’s a whole ‘nother discussion we can have some other time.

What?  Anyway.

The first time I remember having sweet potato fries was in downtown Syracuse on a father-daughter date with mon pere.  All I remember about it is that we went down some stairs to a restaurant in a basement, and dad made me try his fries because they were his favorite.  And now they are mine.

Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt to taste

Easy-peasy.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (yes, make it hot!) and stick a cookie sheet on the middle rack to heat up.  Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes and slice ’em into thin matchsticks.  It’s worth the work to shape them like Mickey-D’s fries, because they get nice and broil-ey on all sides.

Take the sheet out of the oven (don’t forget, it’s hot!) and drizzle the olive oil over it.  Toss the fries in the oil and lightly salt them.  Place on the middle rack for 5 minutes, and give them a stir.

Turn the oven to “broil” and cook the fries for 10 minutes longer, turning the fries every few minutes.  I like ’em to be nice and dark, because then they are perfect with a smidgen of ketchup.  Yum.

Check that out.

I also grilled a steak all by myself yesterday!  I made a quick Cajun-paprika rub, and I think it came out perfectly.  Fritz, however, was not at all comfortable with me edging onto his turf.  Deal with it, bro.

Tell me that doesn’t look amazing.

Obviously we aren’t on our way to Boston today because Kristen is sick and decided to finish off her weekend at home with the ‘rents to take care of her (I would, too!).  It’s okay though, because I went to the gym this morning for a nice long cardio sesh, and then napped in the sunshine (the sun was out!), stopped at a church sale to snag a few books, and cooked dinner.  Later, Cait and Jeff are coming over to hang out by our fire pit for the first time!  Should be fun.

So, I wanted to share something I’ve thought about lately.  It’s going to be our second anniversary in a week, and I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately about that first week two years ago when we moved to Long Island, didn’t know anyone, started going to new school programs, and were just getting used to living together.  It struck me as I was driving home from school the other day that we really are in charge of making our own happiness.

If we wanted to, Fritz and I could make a list that was several notebooks long about things we don’t like about our life–and they aren’t just tiny little details.  We don’t love living on Long Island (okay, we hate it), our school programs are incredibly stressful, we are deeply in debt due to school loans (and live on a tiny budget!), our cat is adorable but entirely evil, our families live so far away, and blah blah blah.  But those things don’t matter in the context of what we do have.

We’ve taken hold of the reins on our own happiness and decided that our circumstances won’t dictate our peace of mind.  And I’ve been lucky enough that I found hobbies that I love and am passionate about (cooking, blogging, and my newly found photography), that I can use to fill up any residual feelings of discontent.

Not to mention that Fritz has a totally rockin’ bod.  So that helps.  Kinda hard to be unhappy with your circumstances when that six-pack is just hangin’ around the house all the time.

Oh!  And I wanted to show you guys something that our friend Gill brought over to celebrate Fritz’s citizenship:

 How sweet is that?

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