Friday, July 31, 2009

Hoppin' John With Collard Greens

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
2 Tbs agave nectar
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp chili powder, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
1 large bunch collard greens, chopped
4 slices meatless bacon strips, chopped
2 Tbs dried minced onion
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1 15.5oz can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1) Whisk together 2 Tbs vinegar, agave nectar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp chili powder and 1/2 tsp salt; set aside.
2) Cook collard greens in pot of boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup liquid.
3) Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, onion, celery, garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp chili powder. Cook 8 minutes, or until translucent. Add collard greens, vinegar-agave nectar mixture, 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, 2 Tbs vinegar and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until greens are tender. Transfer to serving platter.
4) Add rice and beans to skillet. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid, and cook 3 minutes, or until heated through. Serve rice and beans over greens.

Review: This is easily converted for those meat-lovers in my life. We used bulgur instead of rice, too, in order to make it lower carb. This is traditionally served with extra vinegar and hot sauce to taste. I loved it without hot sauce, and then loved it more with hot sauce. This was such a great dish, but didn't make much food.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chickpeas & Chard

2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs dried minced onion
pinch or 2 of saffron threads
2 garlic cloves
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tsp tomato paste
14 chard leaves (2 medium bunches) with stems
2 15oz cans chickpeas, with liquid

1) Heat 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil in wide skillet. Add onion and saffron. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Pound garlic with 1/2 tsp salt, cilantro, parsley and cumin to make a rough paste. When onions are golden, add paste to pan along with tomato paste.
2) Slice chard leaves off stems. Place in wide pot with 2 cups water and cook, covered, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Set leaves aside in colander, reserving cooking water.
3) Trim chard stems so that you're left with plank like pieces of even width. Cut planks (stems) into fine dice and drop into reserved chard water. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
4) Add chickpeas with liquid, or 1 cup water or stock, to the onion. Coarsely chop chard and add it as well. Simmer 10 minutes, then add chard stems. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve with remaining oil drizzled over all.

Review: This recipe was doomed. I cleaned the chard, which came from the grocery store and had been stored in the fridge for almost a week. I soaked it in a bowl of veggie cleaner and water, plunging my hand in and swishing it around. As I pulled the first stalk out to chop it, I flipped it over and found a honeybee - struggling to walk away. How was it still alive? How did I not get stung already? Was it from another country? Well, I freaked and killed it with my knife. Then, I was really grossed out. So, I double cleaned everything and moved on. Which including slicing off part of my finger and fingernail in the process. No blood, but a little disconcerting to see nail and skin on your cutting knife. At that point, Mike took over quite a bit of the cooking. However, he left out the tomato paste and we ended up wasting the entire can, since I had already opened it. Great. At this point, I was hating this dish. However, it was yummy and did not allow me to hate it for long. Maybe you should leave out the tomato paste when you make it, too. I don't recommend the rest of the drama.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Carrot, Dill & White Bean Salad

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus some for cooking
3 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cups sliced carrots, cut 1/4 inch thick on deep bias
3 cups cooked white beans
scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs brown sugar (or honey)
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1) Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and shallots in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.
2) In your largest skillet over medium high heat, toss the carrots with a splash of olive oil. Let them cook in a single layer - they'll give off a bit of water at first. Keep cooking, tossing gently every three or four minutes until the carrots are deeply browned. All told, about twelve minutes.
3) Add the beans and dill to the skillet and cook for another five minutes, or until the beans are well heated through. If you need to add a bit more olive oil to the pan - do so.
4) Place the contents of the skillet in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with brown sugar and pour 3/4 of the lemon-olive oil mixture over the top. Toss gently. Let sit for 10 minutes. Toss gently once again, taste and adjust with more salt or sugar or lemon juice if needed to balance the flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature and finish by sprinkling with the almonds just before serving.

Review: This was unbelievably yummy! Once again, shallots mixed with a sweet flavor (that you don't even notice) and toasted nuts, is my new favorite flavor combination. Too bad this only made about three bowls.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spring Salad

1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 radishes, sliced into matchsticks
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbs chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lemon, juiced and zest grated
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs pecans (plain or candied)
2 Tbs crumbled feta cheese

1) Cook rice according to package directions. Let cool. Combine rice, parsley, celery, radishes, cranberries, onion and garlic in medium bowl.
2) Combine oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Stir well. Add dressing to salad mixture, and top with lemon zest, pecans and feta. Toss lightly and serve.

Review: This reminded me a bit of tabouleh, due to the massive amounts of parsley. But, the other flavors did win out and made for a great combo. I really liked this. Mike tossed some cherry tomatoes in, as we had an abundance on accident and he thought it'd be a good addition. It was.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole

2 small zucchini
2 small summer squash
kosher salt
2 red bell peppers
7 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 recipe tomato sauce (recipe follows)
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) Slice zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick strips. Lay the strips out on baking sheet pan and salt generously. Set aside.
2) Roast the peppers over a gas flame or broil on a sheet pan until completely charred, about 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl, cover, and set aside until just cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Rub the skins off the peppers with your fingers to remove most of the charred skin. Core and remove the seeds, then slice the peppers lengthwise into 1 1/2 inch strips.
3) Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix the goat cheese, olives, thyme and red pepper flakes together in a bowl and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
4) Thoroughly wipe excess salt and moisture from zucchini and squash with paper towel.
5) Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8x11 inch baking dish. Begin layering, remembering to season with pepper between each layer. Start with the zucchini and then summer squash and all the peppers. Dollop spoonfuls of the cheese over the peppers and then spread it out to cover. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, squash, goat cheese and sauce. Sprinkle top layer with Parmesan and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover. Continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes more. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tomato Sauce With Basil:
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup packed basil leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Put the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower heat to a brisk simmer, and cook until thickened, about 30 minutes. While sauce cooks, tear basil leaves into small pieces. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the basil. Transfer half of the sauce to a food processor and puree. Return to the saucepan and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Review: This was a lot of work. It was also really bizarre watching the water bead up on top of the cut squash. However, this was a super yummy dish. Probably more appropriate for colder temps, but I was craving something more hearty than the salads we've been eating. Also, I didn't roast the peppers. I just used diced orange bell peppers - the grocery store was out of red bell peppers. Then, Mike was upset with me, since we have a jar of roasted red bell peppers in the house that I keep forgetting about. :(

Friday, July 24, 2009

Confetti Rice Salad

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1 small orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2/3 cup chopped green onions (1 bunch)
1/4 cup lime juice
3 Tbs olive juice
1/2 cup sunflower seed, optional
1/2 avocado, diced, optional

1) Combine rice, cumin and 2 cups water in saucepan. Add garlic and salt, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and most of water is absorbed. Remove from heat, sprinkle bell pepper on top, cover, and cool rice in pan.
2) Transfer rice to large bowl, and remove garlic clove. Stir in beans, tomato, corn, green onions, lime juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in sunflower seeds and avocado, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Review: I substituted bulgur for the rice and kept the cooking instructions the same. It worked just fine, but had fewer carbs. This was yummy, but I have a feeling it will taste better tomorrow, once the flavors all meld together.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Linguine With Zucchini & Chickpeas

12oz linguine
2 Tbs olive oil
3 small zucchini, cut into thin half-moons
kosher salt
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain and return the pasta to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, tossing often, until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, garlic and red pepper, and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta water and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the zucchini mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Review: Mike insists he bought chickpeas, but yet, there were none in the cabinet. So, he dumped in a can of kidney beans instead. Oddly, this was a really yummy combination of flavors and may be tastier than using chickpeas!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Szechuan Black-Eyed Pea Salad

2 14oz cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 avocado, cubed
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs Szechuan sauce
2 tsp sugar

1) Toss together black-eyed peas, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper and garlic in large bowl. Toss avocado with lemon juice in separate bowl. Add avocado to black-eyed pea mixture.
2) Whisk together oil, vinegar, Szechuan sauce and sugar in bowl used for avocado. Toss black-eyed pea mixture with Szechuan sauce dressing.

Review: This didn't make very much food. It'd be a nice side, but not a main dish kind of salad. My first bite was all garlic and jalapenos and didn't leave me with a very good first impression! But the rest of the dish wasn't as mouth burning. It didn't have a strong flavor, but was quite filling. We also left out the red onion and substituted agave nectar for the sugar. Agave nectar has a low GI index and is therefore better for a low-carb diet. Plus, it's yummy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Burst Of Spring Spinach Salad

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 navel oranges
10 cups baby spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced radishes (1 bunch)
3 Hass avocados, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1) To make dressing: Place all ingredients in jar with lid or medium bowl. Shake or whisk to blend.
2) To make salad: Peel oranges with sharp knife, removing white pith. Quarter and slice into fans. Toss spinach, radishes and half of dressing in large salad bowl. Top with orange segments and avocados. Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Review: I picked this out for the week on a whim. As I picked recipes to make each night, I grew worried about this one, as I looked at the ingredients and thought "what was I thinking? this is going to be so gross." But, it was an easy recipe to make tonight and I decided I could always run to Taco John's if it was indeed gross. But, surprise, this was amazingly delicious. It was really surprising how yummy this was. There was not the sweet taste that I expected, but instead a nice balance of savory flavors. I think everyone should try this recipe!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Italian Chopped Salad

10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4oz low-fat feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup Italian dressing
1 roasted red pepper, rinsed and cut into thin strips
10 pitted kalamata olives, sliced
4 pepperoncini peppers, seeded and sliced
3 Tbs pine nuts
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1) Toss together chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, dressing, roasted red pepper, olives, pepperoncini, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar in large bowl.
2) Let stand 15 minutes to marinate. Fold in lettuce, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Review: I should have realized before I made this that it was an average salad. But, it was quite yummy and definitely made a great dinner.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Greek Lentil Salad

1 cup green or brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1) Place lentils in saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, 25 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain.
2) To make dressing: Place garlic clove on cutting board. Sprinkle with salt. Mash into paste with side of chef's knife. Transfer to bowl. Whisk in oil, lemon juice and pepper.
3) To make salad: Toss lentils in dressing. Cool to room temperature. Stir in cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and dill.

Review: I found this to be a bit bland. I only used one green onion and substituted zucchini for cucumber (I think cucumbers taste like grass), which may have effected the taste. It was still quite edible and may taste better tomorrow, once it's marinated in it's flavors for a bit longer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Muffaletta Salad

1 Tbs garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup olive juice from can
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced black olives
1/2 cup diced green olives
1/2 cup diced marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 red onion, minced
3 cups cooked orzo or bulgur
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
8 to 10 Bibb lettuce cups
1/2 cup diced Roma tomatoes

1) In a food processor, combine the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, olive juice, lemon juice, red chili flakes, pepper and all vegetables up to the red onion. Pulse until well chopped but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, place into refrigerator and let marinate for 2 to 4 hours.
2) Add orzo/bulgur to marinated vegetables, toss, then add feta and toss again.
3) Serve in lettuce cups and top with tomatoes.

Review: Once again, I'm not so fond of some directions. I did not use the food processor on this dish, because I feared it would come out looking like baby food mixed with my bulgur. So, everything was combined together and placed in the fridge to marinate. I also omitted the use of lettuce cups, opting for a bowl instead. :) Red bell peppers were used instead of the roasted variety, because I'm just not a fan of the taste of them. This turned out really well and made a massive amount of salad. Even Mike liked it and he tends to not like food with this much olive in it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Warm Potato & Edamame Salad

1 12oz pkg frozen shelled edamame
1/4 head green cabbage, finely shredded (about 1 cup)
16 small red, purple, fingerling or new potatoes, halved (about 1 lb)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 cups baby greens

1) Bring pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Blanch edamame 3 minutes in boiling water, then transfer to medium bowl with strainer or slotted spoon. Blanch cabbage in same pot of boiling water 1 minute, and place in same bowl.
2) Drop potatoes in boiling water, reduce heat to medium, and cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain, and add to edamame mixture. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, and toss with oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Place greens in serving bowls, and mound with potato salad on top.

Review: I wanted to make this for the 4th of July, as a "fancy" potato salad, but Mike was totally against it. He insisted it wasn't "real" potato salad. I really liked this, both warm and cold for leftovers. I used a whole head of cabbage (albeit a small one), because I had no use for the other 3/4 of the head. Mike picked baby Yukon gold potatoes, which makes anything a little yummier.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Linguine With Summer Succotash

8oz linguine
2 1/2 cups corn, divided
3 Tbs olive oil
1 3/4 cups stringless sugar snap peas
6oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 1/4 cups sliced fresh basil
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

1) Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Place 1/2 cup cooking liquid in blender. Add 1/2 cup corn; blend until smooth. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add peas and remaining 2 cups corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2) Cover; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add pasta, tomatoes, basil, 3/4 cup cheese, and corn puree. Toss until heated through and sauce coats pasta, adding more cooking liquid if dry, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, with additional cheese to taste.

Review: This is the 2nd recipe in a row that involves making a sauce in the blender. It's a bit odd when I think about doing it this way. However, it was a tasty alternative to a heavy tomato sauce - perfect for summer. It tasted like a light dish, but was still pretty filling.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pasta In Garlic-Almond Sauce

3/4 cup whole blanched almonds
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3/4 cup water
1 lb cavatappi, or other small tubular pasta
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter, divided
1 10 oz pkg frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for serving
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup basil leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup mint leaves (torn if large), divided
1/3 cup chopped roasted almonds

1) Purée blanched almonds and garlic with water and 1/4 tsp salt in a blender until smooth.
2) Cook cavatappi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until almost al dente. Reserve 3 cups pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.
3) Meanwhile, heat oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably straight-sided) over medium heat until foam subsides. Add almond purée and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups reserved cooking water, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp butter until melted. Add pasta and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente (sauce will be thin), 2 to 3 minutes. Add cheese and lemon juice and stir until combined well. Remove from heat and stir in half of basil and mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve pasta in bowls topped with chopped almonds, remaining herbs, and additional cheese.

Review: This was pretty good. There was no one prevalent flavor. Despite garlic being in the name, there wasn't a strong garlic taste. The mint seemed like an odd addition, but ended up blending nicely with the roasted almonds. Mmmm

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Egg & Asparagus Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup dill leaves
2 to 3 tsp truffle oil, optional
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
5 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
3 Tbs capers
4 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 cup cubed Swiss or havarti cheese

1) Place mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, dill, truffle oil if using, salt and pepper into blender or food processor, and process until dill is finely chopped. Set aside.
2) Steam or blanch asparagus until tender, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on thickness. Drain, and refresh under cold water. Set aside. Layer salad ingredients in 2-quart glass bowl. Start with 1 cup tomatoes, then in order, add eggs, capers, scallions and cubed cheese. Top with remaining tomatoes and asparagus.
3) To serve, drizzle with dressing and sprinkle top with croutons (if desired).

Review: I almost never layer recipes, unless it's a lasagna. This is obviously seen in this recipe, as I dumped everything in and Mike tossed it up. :) I really like this, but it also combined some of my favorite things ~ capers, truffle oil and dill. Mike's vote? "it has some interesting flavor notes." He didn't like it. But, then again, he is not a fan of dill and that alone can spoil a dish for him. Keep in mind, this made almost 4 bowls, so it's on the smaller side.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Mike grilled with his new birthday grill. We had veggie burgers, brats (for Mike), corn on the cob (we accidentally got yellow AND white!) with chili powder, potato salad and strawberries from Costco (super fresh and yummy).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spaghetti Primavera

16oz spaghetti
2 small zucchini, shredded
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 large red bell pepper, cut into small julienne strips
1 shallot, finely minced
4 Tbs butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1) Cook the pasta according to the directions.
2) Saute the zucchini, bell pepper, carrots and shallots in the butter for 5 minutes, stirring often.
3) Remove from the heat and toss in the cooked and well drained spaghetti.
4) Sprinkle in half of the cheese as the pasta is tossed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5) Serve with the remaining cheese to sprinkle over the top.

Review: I think it's the shallot and butter combination that really made this dish. It was light enough to be a "summer dish," but still had a hearty amount of veggies (which Mike was kind enough to shred). I really liked this dish.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Newest Love

So, Mike and I bought the cutest salt and pepper grinder set from Crate & Barrel after our wedding. However, I broke the salt mill over a month ago. I wasn't too heart broken, since we figured out along the way that the super cute "faucet" top to our mills was really hard to turn. So, I did several weeks of shopping for new mills. We bought a set of battery operated mills from Costco, that never worked and were returned. I still really wanted the battery powered ones, but the really good ones used 6 AA batteries EACH. Then, I found the holy grail of mills. Yes, it is a pink salt mill. And I filled it with Himalayan pink salt (my new favorite). It's quite a heavy, well made mill. In fact, it has variable grinds (fine, medium and coarse) and technically doesn't grind the salt, but crushes it. I'm just so excited! Now, I need the matching pepper mill (I couldn't afford both), but Mike hints that he will get it for my birthday. Yay.