Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending the year - sending lots and love to you all! Bring it 2010!!! Bring it!!

happy new year!  happy new year!  happy new year!  happy new year!

I have been anticipating writing this last post of 2009 for a couple of days now. I am in shock that another year has come and past oh so quickly. I have read a few blogs where people are posting resolutions, what they want for the new year and memories from this past year. I first thought that I would just wish everyone a Happy New Year and leave it at that. And then I thought that I would just share some recipes from last night's dinner and what is on the menu for tonight. And then I thought about just reflecting on highlights from this past year. Well, I'm still undecided, so let's just see how this goes.

2009 has been a year of firsts for me. It's been a good year. One that I will remember, and one that I have no regrets of. My year was full of ups and downs - lefts to rights - and in the end, as we are about to move into another new year, I can comfortably sit back and realize that it all went well. Although it was a good year for me, I know that for a few close friends, that 2009 will be a memorable year for them, but not because good things happened. To those, I wish them all the best, and can only be hopeful that this next year will allow you time to heal your hearts. 

January 7th 2009 - I started my blog. I can't thank everyone who reads my blog day to day, enough. THANK YOU. I feel that my daily writing and sharing recipes has really helped me. I feel that I am able to express myself in a way that I didn't know that I was able to. I feel so blessed - that Chris gave me a laptop for last Christmas - and that really, it has changed my life.
I wanted to do a few giveaway gifts for the month of December - but to be honest - I can't even believe how fast the month came and went. So let's share a few treats this January, shall we?

Running for my life (the series) - I joined a running clinic. I got my butt in gear (my very, very out of shape butt) and ran 3 times each week. I ran a 10 K at the end of it. I ran each week with a lovely group of woman - and on one evening I remember running - out on the main streets and in awe that I was running a total of 90 minutes that night. I have to admit that I was very proud of myself. And now... I am loafing about - dreaming (literally) of running for my life. I need to do this. For me, for my health, for my life. 

Mexico - Our first trip to an all inclusive - and our first trip to Mexico. It was such a treat - something that we will never forget, and something that I hope that we can experience again real soon. The relaxation, the blue water, the sun, the food, the time together, was wonderful.

So, for me, it may be boring, but those are just a few of my highlights of 2009. I feel that I am not going to make resolutions. I feel that most of the things that people pick for resolutions are things that we should all be doing anyways. For example - I need to lose weight - I don't need a New Year's Resolution to help me do that - I just need to do that. So I think for me - I may try and make promises for myself. Promises that I need to keep and work on. I am not sure what they are quite yet - I have more than 24 hours to decide. 

What I do wish for in the new year - is that all of my friends and family feel love and love. I wish that no one is ever lonesome or alone. I wish health and fun for all. Through all of these wishes I want everyone to know that I am here to help through anything and share anything with them. 

All right - for a last couple of recipes for 2009 - let's go out in style. 

Last night we had our dear friend David - aka 'Uncle David the dog nanny' over and his new GF, Laura (nice girl). I made a main course of Brown and Wild Rice, Roasted Carrots with Maple Syrup, Mashed Cauliflower with chives (my new favourite dish of 2009), and flank steak. For a starter I did Lettuce Wraps. 

I HEART Lettuce Wraps. I have only had them twice before (making them - I have made them several times since). The first time I remember having them was at Auntie Babs when I was young - they had ordered them with Chinese food and they were delicious. I thought that they were the best thing ever. I have since had them at a restaurant in Victoria - can't remember where though. So, now I make them - and I love them. They are super easy to make - and really are so refreshing and flavourful.

Lettuce Wraps Sims Style

1 head of iceberg lettuce 
1.5 pounds of ground meat - I prefer ground pork and then ground chicken
1 tsp of soy sauce
Red pepper flakes - add as many as you like - if you like spicy - then add a lot
1/2 jar (@ 150 ml) of Hoisin Sauce*

In a skillet, add the meat and cook until it is cooked through - probably 15 minutes. Add a pinch of kosher salt and the pepper flakes. Once the meat is cooked - add the soy sauce and the hoisin sauce - mix it thoroughly and remove from the heat. 

*Hoisin Sauce - this is the brand that I always use - I haven't made it from scratch before - I really like this brand.

When the meat is cooking - you can prep the lettuce. Prepping the lettuce is probably the hardest part of this whole recipe. It's not hard - you just need to have patience. On the bottom of the lettuce head, there is the root (or whatever it's called) - on a hard surface, bang that a couple of times. With a small paring knife, gently cut out the core (that's what it's called!) and remove it. This will allow the lettuce leaves to be removed from the head more easily. Gently piece by piece remove the leaves. The leaves will be the wrap - so try to keep them intact as best as you can.

Once the lettuce leaves are all removed - your appetizer is ready. I served a couple of pieces of lettuce on a small plate with a small bowl of the ground meat mixture, and everyone can make their own wraps. I think that if you give these a try - you will be in love too!

Now, in prep for a good evening with great friends - I am roasting vegetables for a salad. We are going to our friends - Tina and Jon's. There are 10 of us getting together - each bringing something for dinner - and we will probably play a game, our annual tradition. We were supposed to gather at Chrissy and Jim's, however, their first pup, Keisha, has just passed and understandably they are not in the entertaining mood. I feel for them - I am so sad for their loss. I hope that tonight surrounded by friends will help them with their loss, just a little bit.

I am bringing the Lettuce Wraps as an appetizer. What??? I had a bunch of lettuce left over :)
And I am bringing a Roasted Beet, Carrot, Butternut squash salad with goat cheese and walnuts. 

The vegetables are up in the oven roasting as I type. Once they are out of the oven, I will let them cool and just before we leave I will add crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts*. I don't really have a recipe per se - it's just a bunch of cut up vegetables drizzled with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper - roasted at 425 for about an hour. 

*Toasted Walnuts - in a pan - on low heat - let the nuts heat and warm until they are toasted by not blackened.

Well my friends. I am closing my blog on this wet and cold December 31st evening. I wish you all a happy and safe new year. And I wish you nothing but fun and successes in the new year!



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