Friday, October 9, 2009

Date Night

My husband and I spend a good amount of time together. We ride to the gym together, ride to class together, study together, and very occasionally, we watch a TV show on hulu together. But if we aren't careful, even with all of this togetherness, we could become side-by-side strangers.

We make preventative efforts each day. My husband really loves to follow me around the kitchen, clobbering me with hugs and kisses while I am trying to cook. We eat most of our meals together and catch up on each other's days and goings on. We sit down for a family devotional each night before we go to bed. Even when we protect our precious time together, we sometimes get to a point where we "miss" each other. That's when we plan a date night, a time of undistracted togetherness, a time of cultivating the sweetness in our marriage.

That's what we're doing tonight.

That's why I made my Friday night meal on Thursday night.

Red Beans and Rice

Adapted from Emeril Lagasse via Food Network

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped ham
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, plus more to taste
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in quarters lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound smoked ham hocks
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
9 cups of water
4 cups of cooked rice

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil for two minutes, then remove from heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the oil in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, cayenne, and Tony’s, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)

Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Season with more cayenne and Tony’s to taste. Serve over the hot cooked rice.

*This recipe looked a bit daunting at first, but there is very little hands-on time. Go ahead and have the chopped vegetables, ham, sausage and spices ready, because the sauté time is relatively short, leaving little time to run around the kitchen looking for ingredients.

**Also, this recipe will make your house smell INCREDIBLE. It makes a good amount, and is good to freeze (without the rice) for one of those nights when you have just don't have time to cook. Or you can defrost it for a stay-at-home, no cooking obligation date night.

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Chandra said...

Mmmm...shouldn't have checked this right after nursing the baby. This looks amazing, and I'm starving. :)

I love how you two are intentional about your marriage and enjoy each other so much. We always set aside Sunday nights after church for our date night together at home, and it's such a blessing each week.

Enjoy yours!

megan said...

I really like this post. My husband is the same way about following me around the kitchen while I"m trying to cook! I love it (although it does make the process take a little longer). :)

Vendettis said...

Oh my goodness, I almost could have written this post! For us, we have a Friday night pizza and a movie date night every week that is all about just the two of us (no work, studying, or volunteer talk!). It's fabulous and such a great safeguard to a marriage. :)

Oh, and I love red beans and rice so that's another reason I could've written this! ;)