Starting over

I joined the real world in 2010 after graduating from college. Not really the real world, if I’m being honest…I lived at home in the coziness of my parents house, where I was fed and kept warm, all for free of course. I worked for my moms retail company, so I didn’t need to apply, and I could come and go as I pleased. I left my parents for a few months to live with a boyfriend while I tried out an internship for fun. It wasn’t the real world, it was fantasy.

When I really started loving my job with my mom, I made the conscious decision that I could stop looking for other work, other big-girl-jobs, because there was nothing wrong with what I was doing, I was GOOD at what I was doing. So I was switched from an hourly pay check to a salary and I started putting in way more effort, jumping to the top of the management chain, kicking ass and taking names, running a wholesale/retail operation, merchandising and selling. It was fun.

Skip a few years ahead, the owner of the business passed away, it fell apart and we all had to leave. I went to a competitor for work and was welcomed with open arms, told I could start two days later, and my salary was matched. Boom, easy.

Well that place sucked. It was not the blissful, hard-working environment I was used to. The management was lazy, the owners were horrible, and so on and so on. But I needed money. I had just purchased a new home for myself at the ripe age of 25, and I did it alone.

So I stuck it out. Through the mental strain, drain, and ridicule. Until finally, after two years, the owner decided he was done with my strong-mindedness. Long story short – I joined the unemployment community. (With FULL support from the rest of the staff at that awful place – if i didn’t know any better, I think they were all a little jealous of my severance).

The initial event was a little embarrassing, but after a week of letting it sink in, I was excited. I had the summer to do what I wanted, no work on the weekends, no early morning wake up calls. It was wonderful. I spent the summer traveling for fun, helping family members, celebrating my sisters engagement and upcoming wedding, and I didn’t look back.

And so thats that. In a very brief, summed up kind of story. Thats how I went from working like a dog to being unemployed.

6 months later: Boredom is starting to set in. I don’t know if its boredom, maybe loneliness, a sense of not being a part of something. I have plenty to do around the house, organization, cleaning, and plenty of time for cooking that I had never had before. I even started an Etsy store, selling things that I was making for fun and to stretch my creative muscles.

I feel like I’m on a journey, but Im not entirely sure where Im headed. So stay tuned.

 

Kale, artichoke dip and minestrone soup

So about a week or so ago one of my bosses (bosses son, so I guess he’s my manager? The lines are a little blurry) gave me two huge heads of kale. I was SO excited. He always grows veggies in his back yard to try them out but then can never eat them all. Most of his lettuce goes to the swans and bunnies that we have at work, but I got to the kale before he divvied it up.

More times than not I can never use it all fast enough, but this time I made a point to use it all.

The first thing I did was make kale and artichoke dip. I was heading to a friends house for dinner and was bringing the before-dinner snack. It was delicious, but of course I don’t have a photo.

This is the recipe I used:

Kale and Artichoke Dip

1 (14oz) can artichokes, drained and chopped coarsely
4 oz cream cheese, softened
6 oz greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
6 oz kale (8-10) cups

Chips or crackers of your choice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine artichokes, cream cheese, yogurt, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic salt and kale until completely mixed. Pour into a 1 1/2 qt baking dish or pie plate and cover. It definitely will not look cheesy enough but the kale will cook down. I was worried for a while but if you stir the dip a few times while in the oven you will see it change. Bake 2o mins. Give a good stir (or a few) and bake for another 10 mins.  Top with another 1/2 cup of mozzarella and bake uncovered for 5 mins.

It was a hit… so much that we got a non-kale eater to finish it off. We didn’t really tell him that it wasn’t spinach that he was eating.

Next thing I did was split the second head of kale in half. One half got cleaned, chopped and put in the freezer for some future winter recipe. Points for me!

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The other half was put into my minestrone soup. This soup recipe was kind of made up by me but also loosely based on other recipes. Usually thats how I cook, I read recipes to find out the gist, then I wing it depending on what I have or what I like to eat.

I think I make this soup at least once a week when the weather starts to get chilly.

Ingredients:
4 slices of bacon
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic

4 medium carrots (I have used parsnips in place of the carrots also)
3-4 celery stalks
2 russet potatoes (I have used red potatoes too)
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (roasted or garlic flavor, whichever you prefer)
1 14oz can of white beans

1 quart of water (4 cups)
2 cups of beef broth
4 cups of kale or swiss chard

Instructions:
I start with 4 slices of bacon. Sliced into small pieces and browned in the bottom of my ceramic soup pot. Once the bacon is crispy remove and drain on paper towels. Then in the bacon fat I sauté the chopped garlic and onions, chopped carrots and celery. Add in chopped tomatoes (small, bite size pieces so that they cook quickly). Drain beans and drop them into the pot along with the entire can of undrained tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add broth and water. Let boil until potatoes are soft and then add in chopped greens. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes.

I always top with grated parmesan cheese and I have also poured the soup over elbow noodles in the past as well. Im not a fan of cooking noodles in soup because I prefer my pasta on the al dente side.

Heres a photo of all of the chopped up veggies. I dropped the ball on more photos though. I love this soup.

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I hope someone tries my recipes. : ) If you do, let me know.