ShabbyBlogs - Must be Maddie

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My favorite salad

I have to share this recipe because it is my absolute favorite salad.  Of course it's an Ina recipe, Greek Panzanella.  Basically a crouton and veggie salad that's light and refreshing, but delicious and satisfying.  I've made it countless times in the last 6 months.  In all honesty, I would love to have it in my fridge at all times.


  • Good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) - I like rosemary bread!  
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • red bell pepper, large diced
  • yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

  • cloves garlic, minced - I leave the garlic cloves out - they're too pungent for me.  Instead I use a garlic grinder/mill - same great garlicy taste without the strength of raw garlic.  
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
^^^  Above is Ina's directions but I have an even easier way...because who really wants to stand at a stove and toss bread cubes frequently?  
First, preheat the oven to 375.  Then cut your bread into cubes and spread in a cookie sheet/sheet pan, ideally in a single layer.  Then add extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to the bread cubes, and sprinkle salt, pepper and I like to add garlic powder and toss to coat.  (The garlic grinders from the grocery stores are awesome.)  Pop the bread cube filled sheet into the oven for about 10-15 min - flipping the cubes mid way through.  You end up with delicious, home made croutons that seems easier and faster than sauteing so much bread in a pan.   
While the bread is baking, cut the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion and put everything in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic (again, garlic powder/garlic mill), oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.
^^^ The recipe says add the vinaigrette to the veggies and then add the croutons.  However I like to mix the veggies and croutons and THEN add the vinaigrette.  Either way, as long as the vinaigrette gets into the salad - you're golden.  

It's a fantastic salad.  A good way to get your veggies without lettuce.  =)  

Have a wonderful week! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Better late than never

I know January is almost over and I'm just now getting to posting about my resolutions.  I don't normally make resolutions - they always get forgotten 4 months later.  But this year I want to give it a shot.  I may not be able to keep all of them but if you aim high, you're bound to fall higher than if you hadn't, right?  (say yes.)

So here's what I'm aiming to do this year:

  1. Blog once a week - at least.
    I miss blogging.  I need the escape.  I miss other people's blogs too.  In general - get back into the blogosphere.

  2. Get healthy.
    I'm leaving this one general because it's a "life style change."  So cliche, but so true.  I'm starting with small steps so I don't burn myself out.  For this first month I"m focusing on hitting the gym 3-4 times a week and eating more salads for lunches.

    {found via Pinterest - Originally here}
  3. Move.
    I may not have divulged this earlier but I'm currently living in my parent's basement with my husband.  And let me tell you - this is no easy task.  We may be saving a butt-load of money but that doesn't offset the growing need for personal space.  If you are thinking about doing this - don't. Just don't...find a roommate, down size to a studio apt, and try and avoid moving back in with the parents.  I know you love them now (as I love mine), but I'm about 200% certain you have a different way of living from them.  Okay...I'm off the soapbox.

    {found here}

  4. Plan more.
    Specifically, plan dinners.  I've mentioned this before, but I find dinner tough...coordinating with Husband's schedule, trying to fit in exercise or anything else you want/need to do in the evening.  So I'm hoping if I can be better about planning dinners - this could potentially bring some more calm into my week nights.  

I think that is all I can handle right now, and probably you too.  

Is anyone else making reluctantly making resolutions, hoping this year will be different?  If you are, GOOD LUCK!  We can do it.  Positive vibes.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It was a good day

So often it feels like we pour ourselves into work...our time, our effort, our tears, and we wonder if anyone is noticing.  

While in the middle of a somewhat frustrating meeting yesterday, I saw an email pop into my work mail box, "Letter of Appreciation."  After my meeting I read what it said and who had signed, and then saw who was on the email...I had no words.  

The Chief Information Officer of the directorate I work for signed this incredibly kind letter for me.  I was completely shocked, flattered, honored.  I don't think they do this sort of thing very often because my manager who has been working for this directorate for 5 years was surprised.  

It was gratifying to see evidence that my long hours and 200% dedication was noticed and appreciated.  

Later in the afternoon the president of my company, his wife, the vice pres, and chief financial officer popped into the room I work in with my colleagues.  My manager read the letter aloud, which was terribly embarrassing, and I got to shake hands with the big wigs.  

It was a good day.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Pics

My last few posts have been a bit wordy and those aren't very fun to read.  So here are some pictures from my Christmas holiday.  A mix of pics from the good camera and some from the iPhone.  

Is anyone else obsessed with camera apps?  I feel like there are so many fun ones, how do you choose?  My faves are Camera+, Hipstamatic and Instagram and I just discovered ProCamera.  It doesn't help that I just got a Photography with your iPhone magazine...

Hooray tomorrow is Friday! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite

Christmas Day started at my parent's house with coffee and biscuits with homemade sausage gravy using the maple breakfast sausage Husband made the day before.  It was a delicious, stick-to-your-bones meal.

It was a relaxing morning and Mom had to be at church at 10am.  So while she was singing her heart out, my dad, Bubba (my brother), Husband and I sat around chatting about Christmases of yesteryear.  When Mom got home, we gathered into the living room for presents!  I have to say, Santa was very good to me this year.  I'm not sure I deserve everything I received, but I am so thankful.  One of the big ticket items was a new down comforter from my family to me & Husband.  It has made SUCH a difference in the quality of our sleep.

The comforter we had before was/is older than I am (26+ yr old), so well loved that the feathers no longer live in the middle of the blanket.  They have worked their way to the edges and never looked back.

The new one is fluffy, and WARM!  AND it's baffled which I learned means that it has quilted boxes so the feathers don't move all around.  Yessss!  And it's soft, granted it's always going to be covered by a duvet but still, that good thread count will help this comforter last for the long haul.

I am excited about the comforter.  This was the first year I felt like I was able to get other people multiple gifts.  It warmed my heart to see everyone's smiling faces.

In the afternoon, we headed to the movies to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  It was entertaining even though everyone I know keeps telling me in the books Sherlock Holmes is not quite the action figure he is in the film.

Later in the evening, Husband and I headed over to his family's house for dinner and gifts.  It's fun taking part in two families' Christmas, seeing how each family experiences the day.

We sat in their living room and opened gifts and sipped on wine.  Margaret being the dear she is, invited her co-worker over for dinner because she was alone on the holiday.  Soon after she arrived it was time for dinner.

Dinner at the In-Laws is always delicious and always a lot of fun.  We had ham, roasted sweet potatoes and cabbage.  It was warm and comforting, and the conversation was fun and funny.

After dinner, Husband and I headed home to snuggle and watch Christmas movies.  It was a family filled day, and I loved every minute of it.

I hope your holidays filled your heart and renewed your spirit too.