Monday, April 22, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Alfredo.

Think back to your childhood.

Boxed macaroni and cheese is a staple of every American family whether you admit to it or not.  But do you remember the first time you tasted the fancy version with that pouch of thick, creamy, melty cheese?  You went back for seconds and made sure you licked every smear of cheese from the bowl.  It was as if a door opened to a new culinary world and you wondered what other goodness was out there to experience, what other delicious secrets your mother had been holding back on.

Well, if you haven't been introduced to the adult version of that memory, please allow me the pleasure.

This roasted red pepper and goat cheese alfredo is divine!  My sister shared the recipe with me a while back but, having never roasted a red bell pepper before, I was apprehensive.  During my last monthly Whole Foods Market excursion I picked up their giant log of 365 brand goat cheese which is priced much better than any goat cheese I can find locally.  And honestly, if I buy the small 4 ounce package I end up tearing off a corner and eating it squeeze-style on the way home from the grocery store.  Shamelessly.

This afternoon, with time, ingredients and an appetite at my disposal, I began cooking.  First off, roasting peppers is very easy.  Peeling the skin off after cooling was more difficult, but I assume if I rotated the peppers in the oven letting them char on each side the skin would be easier to remove.  So for the pepper-roasting novices, you can do this.

My minor substitutions:  using white pepper in place of black pepper, regular half and half because that's what I had, and plain goat cheese instead of herbed, as well as the fresh basil, because I could easily add herbs (though I forgot to this time because it was smelling and tasting incredible).

This alfredo sauce is one of the absolute best pasta sauces I have ever tasted.  Seriously.  I went back for seconds, scooping it from the plastic container I had prepared for tomorrow's lunch at work.  I wanted to eat it as soup.  The linguine noodles were inadequate sauce carriers though, next time I will use spiral or thick, elbow macaroni noodles.  I also imagine a thicker version spread on crusty baguette slices.

There is no protein source in this particular recipe version, though it would be easy to add tofu during the blending process to enhance the nutrition.  The sauce would also accompany salmon or chicken very well.

My wine pairing was a Sancerre from Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy.  I enjoy Sauvignon Blanc but am rarely impressed by one.  This Sancerre is probably the best representative for the grape I have tasted to date.  And no, my opinion was not skewed by the delicious meal.  In fact, I had to remind myself to sip it while eating because the food stole the stage.  I regularly look for wines that pair well with goat cheese and have yet to find one spot-on; I seek any recommendations you may have.

In closing, you must try this roasted red pepper and goat cheese alfredo.  If you are unsure or unfamiliar with goat cheese this is a perfect opportunity to experiment because blending it with cream and a grated Italian cheese allows you to adjust the taste to your liking without fear of overpowering.  If you don't want to cook it yourself, encourage a friend to do so.  Or come visit me and I'll make it.

Link, where you can also find variations on the recipe:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Know How it All Began.

I know how it all began.

Or rather, when it ended.

The beginning of the end started with my promotion at work last fall. It is the position I lost when transferring to a new location a couple years ago. The opportunity arrived and I loathed the thought of anyone else having it because I believe myself the most qualified and couldn't imagine continuing working part time with (and for) someone I most likely would have trained. So with an almost equally weighted pro/con list I accepted.

One item on my pro-list was working the open shift which generally runs from 7am to 2:30pm and for the first few months this worked in my favor. Then a company policy shifted which negated the reason for my position being there that early and I began working typical day hours of 9am to 5:30pm or thereabouts. Then a staffing change occurred which led to more closing shifts of 1:30 to 10pm. Why is this pertinent? Well, I didn't exactly connect the dots until recently.

Those dots are the dates of my blog posts, whether on this blog or my photography blog. My posts became more sporadic after moving to this remote location, then slowed after my promotion and have now become a rarity with my work schedule changes.

I cannot blame my number of hours worked because while working morning shifts full-time I was able to maintain my hobbies (passions, really) but while working afternoon and night shifts full-time my favorite activities have fallen wayside. And I mean waaaaayside. I used to come home around 2 or 3pm, while my thoughts and energy were still in motion, and play with my camera, fiddle with my photos or tinker on some other project until dinner time. Now I come home at dinner time (and much later), cook, eat, watch the news, then wind down and go to bed. I don't have those few, productive late afternoon hours anymore to do what I love.

One huge reason of mine for not having children is because I do not want to sacrifice the few passions I have in life. Well, now I have. Gradually, one by one, my passions are disappearing. I move from family and family moves from me. I find myself in more remote locations, further from cities and urban experiences. Job opportunities are paltry and, frankly, not very enticing. And now, said job has sucked away the last of my energy, motivation and creativity, leaving me to wonder why I should blog at all.

The excuse I tell myself is that everyone eventually sacrifices what they love for the sake of responsibility, whether it be family, children, health or employment. We all seem to give up small pieces of ourselves, one by one, until we become boring adults, doing what we must to get by. I am now among the many who complain about their job, who go through the daily motions between hitting snooze in the morning and taking vitamins before tucking themselves into bed at night. I am not the first or last to lose passion and all the creativity that comes with it. I am an average human being with no motivation left to be any different.