Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Food Glorious Food

I think it's safe to say you all know I love food, but I'm not sure you all know just how much I love food. For example, in my head, I keep lists of the very best kinds of food I've had. For instance, best salad dressing I've ever had: 1. Cafe Rio's Spicy Ranch 2. Delsa's Poppyseed Dressing 3. Afternoon Delight's Low Cal Ranch (yes, I said low cal) 4. Common Grill's Raspberry Maple Vinaigrette. Well, yesterday Marianne and I made Paninis that just jumped up on my best sandwiches ever list. 1. Mr. Spot's Cheesesteak with peppers 2. Afternoon Delight's Pita Club 3. Amer's Dave B's Little Honey. And now, tied for fourth place are the Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Onion Panini with Gruyere and the Southwestern Spicy Beef Panini with Black Bean Pesto. Recipes as follows:

Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Onion Panini with Gruyere
2 lb medium asparagus, cut in half lengthwise
1 large Vidalia or sweet yellow onion, peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
3 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
2 t grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 fresh tarragon sprigs, stems removed and leaves chopped
12 slices crusty ciabatta bread
1/4 lb prosciutto (I just used bacon bits)
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, slices
6 slices Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 450. Place asparagus and onions on a large baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, dot with butter, sprinkle with lemon zest and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables lightly to distribute the seasonings. Bake until soft and just starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a bowl, toss with tarragon, then set aside. Preheat panini grill. top bread with Gruyere, swiss, and remaining slice of bread. Brush the top with olive oil and transfer to hot grill, oiled side down; brush remaining side with olive oil. Grill until cheese is melted and bread is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Pull sandwich apart and insert bacon bits and asparagus and onion mixture. Close sandwiches, slice, and serve.

Southwestern Spicy Beef Panini with Black Bean Pesto
2 TB olive oil
1 lb. shaved beef sirloin (or roast beef)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 TB chopped fresh garlic
Parsley, chopped (to taste)
1 1/2 TB chili-garlic sauce (found in Asian section of grocery store)
8 slices of ciabata bread
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
6 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
Black Bean Pesto (use a food processor or blender to chop and combine):
2 TB minced garlic
2 Serrano chilies, seeded and minced
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 TB rice vinegar
2 TB olive oil
2 TB cilantro
1 green onion, chopped
1 TB cumin
3 drops chipotle pepper sauce (I used tabasco)
Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute beef, red onion, and garlic for about 3 minutes. Add chili-garlic sauce and continue cooking for an additional 4 minutes, until beef is cooked through. Add chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, set aside. Preheat panini grill. Spread 4 slices of bread with black bean pesto, top with beef mixture, roasted red pepper, and shredded Monterey Jack cheese; finish with remaining slice of bread. Spread butter evenly over top slices. Place sandwich on grilling surface, butter side down, butter additional sides and cook for 10 minutes until browned and crisp. Remove from heat, let rest for 3 minutes, then slice in half and serve.

Here's a photo of Marianne, my kindred spirit in the kitchen who just happens to live right across the duck pond.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Abram's Turn

Since Max got his moment in the spotlight yesterday I thought I'd give Abram a turn. Abram and I teach a Primary Sunday School class for the 6 and 7 year olds at church. Yesterday morning it was his turn to teach and I asked what he was teaching his lesson on. He starts going on and on about how the manual has him teach the same three topics over and over. I suggested that kids learn through repetition and of course his response was, "or brainwashing." Well, later in the day, right before we're going up to primary, he opens the manual to review a little. After a couple minutes he leans over to me and says, "You know how I was saying it seems like I teach the same lesson over and over? Well, that's because I actually have already taught this lesson. I prepared the wrong one."

Abram's other shining moment in Primary happened during sharing time when we are together with all the age groups. Every week they spotlight someone by having everyone stand up and then reading a list of things the person likes. If you don't like it than you sit down. The idea being that the spotlight will be the last one standing. Last week everyone stood up and the first thing she said was, "This person LOVES the outdoors." Before anyone else could even respond, Abram made a loud humph and sat himself right down. It got a good laugh out of everyone since nobody else sat down so it doubled the drama for him.

The following pictures are of Max in the Outer Banks in May. He spent most of the time at the beach running toward the ocean and then turning and running away before the waves could get him. That's what the look of terror is about in photo #2. The last photo is of his buddies Noah and Nikolai and their dads James and Steve.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

And We're Back...

Hello all. Here’s our second attempt at keeping everyone updated on Ellis stories and pictures, yummy recipes, books we’re reading, and our humble opinions on various news and entertainment topics. You’ll notice we have a little poll on the right so you all can help resolve our arguments. We’ve really found that getting others involved in our marital problems does wonders for our relationship. So the first one is who your favorite dancer is on So You Think You Can Dance? You’ll notice I don’t have Lauren or Neil up there but that’s because I couldn’t stand either of them and thought they both should have been kicked off up until this past week. They’re both starting to grow on me, but out of principle I had to keep them off the list.
I think everyone knows we’re having a baby girl who is due on September 12. We decided to name her Aviva Quinn Ellis. Aviva is a Hebrew name that means springtime. No we’re not Jewish, and no she’s not actually being born in the spring, but we found it in a name book and really liked it, so there you go.
Max is doing well because he has no idea his world is about to be turned upside down in 6 short weeks. I went through stories I’ve been sending my parents for the past few months so here is an update on Max:
So I'm standing in the kitchen this morning when Abram comes up behind me, gives me a kiss on the cheek and smacks my butt. Not thinking much of it as this is a fairly common occurrence, I was totally taken aback when I felt a second smack to my bootie. I turned around to see Max staring up at me with a big grin. He was so proud of himself. Abram immediately started laughing, I on the other hand, couldn't even think of what to say. It was pretty disturbing.
Whenever I'm with Max in the car and he starts to fall asleep I started yelling, "don't fall asleep Max! We're almost home!" I'll sing, or tickle him, whatever it takes to keep him up so I can get him to nap when we're home. One day this week we came home (I hadn't been yelling at him to stay awake) I walked around and opened up his door to find him faking like he was asleep. I said, "Maaaax." And he kept his eyes shut, but couldn't help a huge smile from creeping across his face. So I said "Wake up!" And he he started cracking up, all the while keeping his eyes closed. It was pretty cute. It's become a new game for us now and he never fails to find himself hilarious.
We play a game with Max where I pretend that I'm asleep and he and Abram shush each other and whisper 1,2,3 and then scream to wake me up. In church today there was a little kid in front of us that fell asleep on his dad's shoulder. Max looked up at him, then at us, put his finger over his lips to shush us and whispered 1... 2... Abram said, "Max, NO." Max smiled, said three and then screamed right in the kids face in the middle of the sacrament. It was so funny, I couldn't stop myself from laughing.
This week Max was watching TV and started pushing a prodding me until I realized he wanted me to leave the room. I figured he must want to get into some kind of trouble, so I walked 1/2 way up the stairs and peaked around the wall to see what he was doing, expecting him to get up to the computer or something. Nope. He just climbed back up on the couch and sat down to enjoy his show. He really just didn't want me around! I was a little ticked. I told Abram this story and he laughed and asked if I went back downstairs. I scoffed and told him I most certainly did not. I went upstairs and read a magazine. I didn't want to watch his stupid show anyway.
So there you go. I'm real excited about our new blog, mostly because we no longer have to speak in the 3rd person every time we write. So we're all caught up, and now it's your turn to catch up since I haven't heard from most of you in a while. I'd love to hear what's going on.
Love to all of you,