Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Living in Now

As I was lying down trying to fall asleep last night, I had numerous thoughts swirling through my head.  None of them were good.  I was wrapped up in being upset about some things that I wish I could change right now but can't.  It was so bad that I didn't want to go to sleep to wake up and deal with things the next day.   I wanted my sleep to last.  And then, when I did wake up, to not have to go through any of the issues I am having to endure right now.

Not much longer had I been thinking about all of this (feeling anxious and upset) then a very calming process of thoughts went through my head (much like a conversation).  
"So, where are you right now?"
"In bed."
"Are you comfortable? Are you happy?"
"Well, Yes. But the thing is that tomorrow..."
"Where are you now?"
"In bed, comfortable"
"Will you let the pressures and anxieties of tomorrow interrupt your peace right now?"
"I suppose not."
And I felt so at peace, so relaxed, and so truly happy to focus on the now.  Each time I worried, even a little bit, the question "Where are you NOW?" came into my mind, and I settled into a nice, relaxing sleep.

But before doing that, I apologized to God.  I said I'm sorry for being anxious, because in being anxious I'm not remembering to be thankful for my blessings.  And being upset and worried (even if they are legitimate reasons) only negate the beautiful things that are plentifully around me in life.  I have much to be thankful for and much to be happy with.  

And I thought to myself, "Who is to steal this happiness away from me?" It would make sense that when I have so many things that are great, something would interfere with my peace to keep me from being content with what I have.  

It is hard to push all of the worries of life aside because so many things that happen are easily predictable.  And I often feel like only living in right now and not worrying about tomorrow doesn't make sense because I have to plan for tomorrow.  But the thing is, no matter how many mornings my alarm goes off, I have my cup of coffee, I feed the dogs, I get ready, and I drive to work, I really do not know what will happen in the day.  And I do think it is wrong of me to worry about it because there is so much to be happy with RIGHT NOW! :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Patti's Perfecto Pesto

Friday night, I made Lee and myself rotini with spaghetti sauce for dinner.  This is a pretty routine meal for us.  We'll have some sort of pasta shell, spaghetti sauce, maybe black olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts in it, etc.  It is a good meal, but I was starting to feel a bit bored with the same old thing.  So, I looked, saw that I had some basil, and decided to attempt to make a pesto sauce.   I looked up a recipe online.  And, let's just say, it turned out less than satisfactory (okay it was horrible).  However, when mixed in some spaghetti sauce, it was okay.  I still felt like it would be fun to do a home made pesto sauce.  

I was planning on doing chicken breasts for dinner Saturday night (again, one of those same old same old things).  I wanted to change the chicken, and it hit me like a revelation. PESTO CHICKEN! That would be great! But I needed a better recipe for pesto and I didn't want to play around with online recipes.  So, I called Patti who makes some very delicious pesto in order to get the recipe.  After making me say the secret password and swear not to leak the secret family recipe, she gave it to me.  Okay, I must admit she got her recipe out of a cookbook, BUT she makes it so that it tastes great!

I told her that, if it turned out good, I'd blog about it.  So, here I am blogging about it.  The recipe for Patti's Perfecto Pesto (as I will call it from now on)

Step 1:
Four cups of lightly packed, washed, fresh basil leaves.  Note: The leaves are not to be dry. Place in food processor or blender.  I used a food processor.

Step 2: 
Four cloves of fresh garlic crushed (the original recipe calls for two cloves, but Patti uses four and I do think it makes it better). Place in food processor (or blender).

If you're wondering how I got that first picture, those are Lee's fingers in the first photo.  But I did the rest of the chopping of the garlic.

Step 3: 6 sprigs of parsley.  I removed the leaves from the stems and threw them in the food processor.

Step 5: Add 1/2 cup of olive oil. (There won't be pictures for a little while because I got tired of stopping to take pictures)

Step 6: 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Step 7: Blend all together until all parts are finely chopped.  

Once all of those items are finely chopped... 

Step 8: Add 1/4 cup of either pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds.  I used pine nuts.  I think the consistency of them is great.  Add these into the blender or food processor and mix again until they are finely chopped. Some pine nuts will not get fully chopped and that's okay. 

Step 9: Remove the contents from the blender or food processor.  I used a spatula for this and it worked well.  Place in a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (just regular parmesan from the jar is fine).
Presto! There is your pesto!

NOW.  Part 1 is done.  I was cooking for two, and I'd say if you are cooking for more than 3, you should probably double that pesto recipe.  

Pesto Chicken.

Step 1: Two plain, clean chicken breasts placed in a baking dish.
Yes, these are big pieces.  So, they took a little longer to cook.

Step 2: I used a spatula to spread the pesto sauce on the top evenly. I turned each one over, and then used a spatula to spread pesto evenly on the other side as well.

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 350.  Cover the dish with foil.  I let them sit in the pesto for about 10 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes.  I had to bake mine for 30 because they were larger and partially frozen when I started.  Take them out and remove foil.

Step 4: Put them back in the oven uncovered for 10-20 minutes (depending on how done they are the first time).  Mine needed 20 more minutes.  
It may not look that great, but believe me it was.  And I feel like the chicken does not look done in this picture (the lighting was strange), but it was definitely done.
20 minutes covered allows the chicken to absorb the flavors of the pesto sauce.  20 minutes uncovered allows it to get just crispy enough that it adds flavor on the outside.

And, here we are! It was very good.  My camera was being difficult with lighting.  But the pesto chicken was incredibly delicious!