Friday, May 27, 2011

Green Olive Turkey Burgers

I'm all for having a well-stocked pantry, but sometimes too much is just, well, too much.  I'm not a fan of clutter in any capacity, so when I recently realized my freezer and pantry were just too full, I went to work planning some meals to use up what I already had on hand.  A quick search on the Food Network website and I had this recipe from, Ellie Krieger, one of my favorite healthy cooks.  I had everything on hand to make these burgers, so away I went.

To be perfectly honest, I was a bit worried about the burgers being dry; turkey burgers are known to do that.  But I had faith in Ellie and her recipe, so away I went.  And holy cow!  Both M and I were so happy with the results.  By adding a slice of cheese and a simple sauce to the burgers, we had a delicious, simple, and very economical dinner.


Green Olive Turkey Burgers
inspired by Ellie Krieger via Food Network

Ingredients:
For the burgers:
cooking spray
1-1.25 lbs. ground turkey
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 c. coarsely chopped pitted green olives
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 TBSP finely chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper 
4-5 slices baby Swiss cheese
8-10 pieces whole wheat bread

For the sauce:
1/2 c. lowfat mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
2 TBSP chopped Italian parsley
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1.  Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat.  If using a grill pan, spray with cooking spray.

2.  While grill heats, mix together turkey, olive oil, olives, garlic, parsley, cumin, paprika, and black pepper in a large bowl.  Shape into four or five patties.

3.  Place burger patties on grill or grill pan and cook for four to five minutes per side.  When one minute remains in cooking time, place cheese over the top of each burger patty.

4.  Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients for sauce and toast the bread. 
5.  Assemble burgers and enjoy!

one year ago: sesame chicken
two years ago: One of my favorite dressings, honey-balsamic vinaigrette.
three years ago: chicken with mango barbeque sauce

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Favorite Summer Recipes

If you're anything like me, you can't contain your thoughts to what is currently in season.  If you're like me, you're always thinking at least one season ahead.  Well, good news, readers--summer arrives this weekend!  (Maybe not technically, but we all know Memorial Day is the start of the summer.)  It's time for warm weather, pool parties, backyard barbeques, and these yummy recipes.  I hope you'll love them as much as I do!


To start things off, how about a nice refreshing glass of fresh honey lemonade?


As a teacher, I have the luxury of making a real breakfast almost every summer morning.  M and I both loved these ricotta-lemon pancakes with fresh berries.  I know I won't mind getting up with him each morning just to make him (okay, us) a big stack of these for breakfast.  


Another winner for summer breakfast or afternoon snacks are these juicy strawberry scones.  I've never met a person who didn't love them!


Just in time for your first summer get together, let's dig right in to this beer-braised barbequed chicken.  The flavor is tangy and rich and the sauce gets all over lips and fingers, just like any good barbeque sauce does.


One of my favorite things about going to cook outs and barbecues (there is a difference!) is the variety of side dishes.  I love to take small portions of each one so I can really taste what everyone has offered up!  If you're looking for a stellar side dish, try this summer orzo salad.  It has a wonderfully different taste from the vinegar and fresh herbs, the dressing is free from mayo or sour cream, and it's actually at its best when served at room temperature--perfect for a summer time picnic or party.


Summer weather generally leaves me looking for recipes I can make without having to run the oven for a long time.  That said, some recipes are so worth it.  This summer zucchini and tomato tian is one of them.  By treating the vegetables very simply, it really lets their gorgeous peak flavors shine through.


Something about eating fresh corn right of the cob just scream summer to me.  In this recipe, I've dressed up simple sweet corn with a touch of lime-cilantro butter, though I think just about any adaptation of citrus and herbs would be great.


As a kid, one of my favorite things about summer was having fruit salad with every single meal.  As an adult, I've found it gets even better.  One taste of this summer fruit salad with sambuca and you'll instantly be craving more.


Another sweet childhood summer memory is stopping by Sonic for a cherry limeade (with their awesome crushed ice!) on the way to the lake.  To this day, nothing quenches my thirst and cools me down quite like a cherry limeade.  Last summer, I took that memory and turned it into a fun and delicious frozen cherry limeade pie.  


Don't let summer pass you by without enjoying plenty of frozen treats.  With its beautiful color and light, fresh taste, this raspberry gelato is sure to please.


This all-American berry bundt cake is another crowd please just made for cook outs and potlucks.  Just slice and top with powdered sugar for a delicious down home dessert.


Summer was just made for pies, don't you think?  Last summer, I made a couple of real winners.  It all started with my ultimate pie crust, Martha Stewart's perfect pate brisee with one small adaptation from America's Test Kitchen.  I've had considerable trouble with pie crusts in the past and this one comes out light, flaky, and tender every time.


Using that crust as a base, I made this bumbleberry pie.  The brightly colored filling is a real showstopper and the taste backs it up.  Topped with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, it's pure perfection.


I volunteered to make this blackberry-blueberry pie last summer.  It reminded me of long, lazy summer days with friends and family.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweet Corn with Lime-Cilantro Butter

It's almost here, readers.  It's almost summer!  Time for sundresses, pool parties, backyard barbecues, and all the fresh fruit and veggies your belly can hold.  Hooray!

I've already bought cantaloupe, cherries, and sweet corn this year.  I know all these things will get better as summer wears on, but I just couldn't wait.  They were just there, staring me down, smelling like summer, and already looking pretty tasty.  I couldn't resist.

This simple corn recipe is really quite flexible.  In fact, I'd prefer you think of it as a guideline.  Feel free to substitute any herb that fits your menu.  Add some grated Parmesan cheese if you'd like.  Just make sure you savor every sweet bite.


Sweet Corn with Lime-Cilantro Butter
an "Apple a Day" original

Ingredients:
4 ears sweet corn, husked
2 TBSP butter
juice and zest of two limes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:
1.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Once water is boiling, add corn and boil for six minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, melt butter, lime juice, lime zest, salt, and pepper in the microwave or small pot.  Once melted, add cilantro and stir to combine.

3.  Remove the corn from the pot and carefully shake off excess water.  Lay in a shallow dish, then pour butter mixture over the top.  Serve immediately.

two years ago: spiced nuts
three years ago: key lime cupcakes with white chocolate-coconut frosting

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pork Tenderloin a la Mexicana

Dependability.  It's a beautiful thing.  If you're craving real Mexican food (not that mushy, dripping with oil kind served in most restaurants) you can always turn to Rick Bayless.  Always.  Case in point--his incredible recipe for jalapeno-baked fish with tomatoes and potatoes.  Brilliant.  Just like this pork tenderloin.  It was tender and flavorful and quite healthy.  I served it with black beans and corn on the cob with lime-cilantro butter.  We thought it was just perfect.


Pork Tenderloin a la Mexicana
from Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday

Ingredients:  
2 large poblano (pasilla) chiles 
1 to 1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into one-inch cubes
2 TBSP vegetable or olive oil 
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick 
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped 
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, preferable fire roasted 
3/4 c. beef broth OR 2/3 c. water plus 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce 
1 large branch fresh ezpazote OR 1/2 c. chopped cilantro (I used cilantro from our garden!)

Directions:
1.  Roast peppers over open stove-top flame or under abroiler, turning until blackened all over, about ten minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel until cool enough to handle. Peel the blackened skins off and rinse under cool water to remove seeds. Slice into 1/4-in. strips.  (This can be done the night before.)

2.  While the peppers are cooling, generously salt the tenderloin pieces. Heat the oil until almost smoking, then add the pork and sear over medium-high heat until browned all over, about four minutes. Remove the pork, leaving the oil in the pan.

3.  Add the sliced onion and cook 4-5 minutes over medium heat until golden but still crunchy.  Add the garlic and peppers and cook until fragrant, about two minutes more. Add the tomatoes, broth or water with Worcestershire, and the epazote if using (save cilantro for later, if that's what you're using). Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.

4.  Add the pork back in then stir in the cilantro, if using. Simmer until the pork is cooked through, approximately four minutes. Season with salt, to taste.

two years ago: Cuban beef picadillo

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sausage-Stuffed Peppers

I always find it interesting what some people list among their favorite comfort meals.  You know, the kind of meal you wish your mom could come and make for you when you've had a rough day.  For me, it's meatloaf, homemade macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and brown sugar carrots.  It's what I always asked my mom to make me my last night before heading back to college.

For M, it's tabbouleh, lasagna, pumpkin chiffon pie, and stuffed peppers--thankfully, not all at the same meal.  Those are some of the things he most fondly remembers his mom making for him growing up.  I've already tackled tabbouleh and we're still working on getting his mom's recipes for the lasagna and the pie. 

But one day, while searching through my cookbooks, I saw this and knew I had to make it.  M's been working so hard lately and I thought a little comfort food might be nice.  We both really liked these and looked forward to having them for lunch the next day (always a good sign).  M didn't really give me any comparison to his mom's stuffed peppers, but he didn't say anything like "My mom's are better" or "We should really get my mom's recipe".  I guess that's comfort and victory enough...

What's your ultimate comfort meal?


Sausage-Stuffed Peppers
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners

Ingredients:
non-stick cooking spray
1 small onion, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg
3 TBSP ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 c. dried plain bread crumbs
1 lb. ground turkey sausage (I used spicy)
4 bell peppers
1 1/2 c. marinara sauce (I like this recipe), plus more for serving

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  Mix together the onion, parsley, egg, ketchup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 c. cheese and the bread crumbs then mix in the turkey.

3.  Cut the tops off the peppers and use a spoon to scrape out the ribs and seeds.  Stuff the peppers with the turkey mixture and place upright in the baking dish.  Spoon the marinara sauce over the stuffed vegetables.

4.  Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown and a thermometer inserted into the filling registers 165 degrees F, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional cheese.  Return to the oven for five minutes.  

5.  To serve, let peppers rest three minutes, then transfer to a platter and serve with additional sauce.
 
three years ago: One of my mom's all-time favorites--ciabatta pizza with walnut pesto.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Meatless Monday--Lightened Protein Power Goddess Bowl

Readers, I have a new addiction--yoga.  Last week, I went to a real yoga studio for the first time.  I'd taken a handful of yoga classes at gyms and dance studios, but never before at a studio dedicated specifically to yoga.  What a difference!  I was so inspired by the incredible teacher and the advanced students in the class.  I left feeling powerful, healthy, and refreshed.  I tweeted that, in my mind, I looked like Angela from Oh She Glows.  (I'm sure I didn't, but I like the thought.)

That post-yoga thought led me to peruse her blog once more for great meatless recipe.  Her most recent post was exactly what I was looking for--a healthy and filling meal brimming with protein and delicious vegetables.  M and I both loved it, especially the lightened up dressing.  I have a feeling we'll be having these goddess bowls several times throughout the summer.


Lightened Protein Power Goddess Bowls
seen on Oh She Glows
originally from The Coup Cookbook

Ingredients:
For the bowl:
1 c. uncooked green lentils
1 c. uncooked speltberries, quinoa, or brown rice
2 tsp. olive oil, for sautéing
1/2 red onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3 c. spinach or kale, roughly chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley, minced
salt & black pepper, to taste
lemon zest and wedges, to garnish

For the dressing:
1/4 c. tahini
3 garlic cloves
1/2 c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt & freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 TBSP water, or as needed 

Directions:
1. Cook lentils and grain of choice according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  (This can be done the night before.  Just keep in the refrigerator and bring to room temp before continuing the recipe.)

2. While the lentils and grain are cooking, prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a food processor.

3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil.  Sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic for approximately three minutes. Add the red pepper and tomato and sauté for another 7-8 minutes.

4. Stir in kale or spinach and sauté for another few minutes, just until tender.  Add the full batch of dressing, lentils, and grain, and simmer on low three minutes more. 

5.  Remove salad from the heat and stir in parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with lemon wedges and zest.  Serves 4-6.

three years ago: mini zucchini and goat cheese tarts

Friday, May 13, 2011

31 While 31--Raspberry Gelato

Oh gelato, how I adore thee.  You are so tasty and creamy and perfect.  Plus, I always get to eat you with those fun little plastic spades.  Until now.

Now, thanks to my 31 While 31 list, I have a great recipe for homemade gelato every bit as tasty and creamy as the scoops we get at my favorite gelateria.  I guess all that's missing is the fun little plastic spade.  Oh well...seems like a fair trade.


31 While 31--Raspberry Gelato
from Aunt Lena's Creamery in Chandler, AZ

Ingredients:
12 oz. fresh raspberries
2/3 c. sugar (I used half granulated and half vanilla sugar)
2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. fresh lemon or lime juice

Directions:
1.  Process berries, sugar, and whole milk in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour into a nonreactive bowl.

2.  Add in the heavy cream and mix just enough to combine.  (Do not whip the cream.)  Add in the lemon or lime juice.  Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight.

3.  Transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Serve immediately or freeze up to one month.

***Note: The recipe author says you can substitute the following fruits using the above recipe: bananas, peaches, pears, strawberries, blackberries, apricots, Granny Smith apples, and blueberries.

three years ago: Mother's Day salad with herb-marinated chicken and grilled herbed peaches

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Salad

WOOHOO!  Let me say it again, readers.  WHOOOOOHOOOOO!!!  I just got my federal tax return and promptly paid off both my credit cards.  No more credit card debt for me!  What a great feeling!

This meal may seem simple, but it was all about celebration.  I knew, when my right hand hit "pay" on my credit card website, I wanted to have a beer in my left hand.  I wanted M to have one, too.  And I wanted to give a big ol' cheers and clink glasses with my husband as I kissed a big ol' chunk of our debt goodbye.  So yeah...this salad was totally planned around beer.  (What...like you've never planned a meal around a drink before.)

As I tend to do with green salads, I don't have amounts for the greens and vegetables here.  Just use the amount that looks good to you, grab a beer, and enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
an "Apple a Day" original

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. plus 3 TBSP buffalo wing sauce 
1-2 TBSP olive oil
lettuce
celery, chopped
carrots, peeled and chopped
red onion, finely chopped
bleu cheese dressing
additional bleu cheese crumbles (optional)

Directions:
1.  At least one hour before or up to overnight, marinate chicken in 1/3 c. buffalo sauce.

2.  Heat large saute pan over medium heat.  Add oil and cook chicken thoroughly, approximately 7-8 minutes per side.  Let rest and chop into bite-size pieces.

3.  Meanwhile, assemble rest of salad.  Add chicken when ready then dress and top with additional bleu cheese crumbles, if desired.

three years ago: basmati rice with sweet onions and summer herbs

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meatless Monday--Avocado Enchiladas

I've been wanting to make these enchiladas for several weeks now, but something always seemed to get in the way.  After finally making them, I am  so sorry I let that happen.  They were such a different and delicious meal! 

I made some adaptations from Deena Kastor's original recipe and I've reflected those changes here.  Deena says the sauce can be made ahead but I'd argue the sauce should be made ahead.  The flavor of it was much better when I reheated the enchiladas for lunch the next day.  (Hooray for prep ahead recipes!)  In addition, like Deena says, don't skip the light frying of the tortillas.  I did, thinking I'd be healthy and I paid the price with mushy tortillas on some of the enchiladas.  

So take these recommendations, go get some avocados, and get cooking.  You'll love these!


Avocado Enchiladas
adapted from Deena Kastor

Ingredients:
For the sauce:
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 TBSP cumin
3 TBSP dried oregano 
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
1 can beer
1 twenty-eight ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 c. vegetable broth

For the enchiladas:
8 ripe avocados, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 c. cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
juice of two limes
1 tsp. salt
20 corn tortillas
1/3 c. canola oil
1 lb. Monterey Jack Cheese, grated

Directions:
1.  Prepare the sauce by heating one tsp. oil in sauce pan.  Add onion and saute for five minutes or until soft.  Add garlic, cumin, oregano, and chipotle and saute two more minutes.  Add beer, tomatoes, and  broth.  Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Can be made two days in advance.

2.  Prepare the filling by tossing together the avocado, cilantro, red onion, lime juice and salt.

3.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  

4.  In saucepan, heat oil over medium flame for about five minutes. Once oil is hot, fry tortillas one at a time for one minute each side, or until lightly brown and blistered. Remove and blot on brown grocery bag or paper towel.

5.  Spread 1/2 c. red sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.  

6.  To assemble enchiladas, dip fried tortillas in pot of remaining red sauce, spoon three heaping tablespoons of avocado filling in each tortilla.  Roll up and arrange rolled tortillas side by side in casserole dish. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.

7.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Take foil off and bake for another five minutes. 

three years ago: chocolate Pavlova with Chambord cream and fresh berries

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thai Shrimp and Halibut Curry

Every month, I look forward to getting my issue of Bon Appetit.  It's the only magazine I take and I just love the new ideas, new cuisines, and new techniques I can learn from it.  I especially love when one issue is just filled with recipes I can't wait to make.  Such was the case with my April issue.  One look at this recipe, and I Knew M and I would be eating it for dinner very soon.

As I usually do with recipes from Bon Appetit, I logged on to www.epicurious.com to see what the reviews said.  This dish got overwhelmingly favorable reviews, but many people noted that they increased the spices.  Since M and I both like our food on the more flavorful, spicy side, I increased the curry and added some chili-garlic paste and it turned out beautifully.  With its great flavor and quick prep time, I think we'll be having this one again very soon.


Thai Shrimp and Halibut Curry
adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2011

Ingredients:
3 large limes, two zested and juiced and one cut into wedges
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 c. chopped shallots
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-to 3/4-in. dice
2 TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
3 TBSP Thai red curry paste 
1 TBSP chili-garlic paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
1 (14.5-oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk (I used lite)
1 TBSP fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
16 to 18 ounces halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-in. chunks
12 uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
jasmine or basmati rice, for serving

Directions:
1.  Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped shallots, diced red bell pepper, and minced ginger.  Sautè until shallots are tender and peppers soften, about five minutes. 

2.  Stir in curry paste, chili-garlic paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, and lime juice. Simmer gently, stirring often, about 5 minutes. 

3.  Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add fish and shrimp to curry sauce. Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until fish and shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in cilantro and basil, reserving some for garnish.  Serve alongside rice with basil, cilantro, and lime wedges.

three years ago: ATK's classic brownies

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love when things just seem to fall into place in the kitchen.  First, I had a banana I meant to use up in some muffins over the weekend but didn't.  Second, I had some cream cheese frosting left over from my first-ever paid cupcake order.  Then, as if it was all meant to be, my wonderful mommy bought me the new Better Homes & Gardens Cupcakes special edition.  Add in the last few banana chips I had left in my trail mix and voila!  You've got yourself one heck of a delicious cupcake!


Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
cupcake recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cupcakes
frosting recipe from www.saveur.com, originally from Cake Man Raven

Ingredients:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. mashed overripe banana (1 large)
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
scant 1 c. sugar
banana chips, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Line a muffin tin with 24 paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  

3.  In a small bowl, combine banana, buttermilk, and vanilla.

4.  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, 1/4 c. at a time, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy and scraping down sides of bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.

5.  Add in flour and banana mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix on low speed until just combined.

6.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

7.  Allow to cool completely then frost and garnish.  Keep in the refrigerator up to three days.

two years ago: tilapia with sweet peppers
three years ago: sausage and herb-stuffed pork loin

Monday, May 2, 2011

God Bless the U.S.A

 image courtesy of Life Magazine

I'm sorry, readers.  There's no food today.  I debated about writing this post because, after all, this is a food blog.  But the emotions I felt Sunday night as I watched the news coverage of Osama Bin Laden's death took over.

You see, I was a college senior studying International Diplomacy and Broadcast Journalism at American University in Washington, D.C. on September 11th.  I remember the shock and awe we all felt in the nation's capitol that day.  I remember seeing the director of student services, a woman so ambitious and hardworking, we'd really never thought her having emotions, break down in tears.  I remember asking Professor Chin what I was supposed to tell all the new freshmen living on my floor.  I remember the look on her face when she said, "I don't know.  I feel like a failure.  We've worked our whole lives to make sure you kids never had to experience this."  I remember seeing students cry in fear because they had yet to hear from family and friends back home in New York and New Jersey.  And I will never forget the deafening silence on our campus that day when what I'm guessing was about 700 students were sent back to their dorms on lockdown.  With that many students out and about, you'd expect laughter, music, and chatter.  Not on that day.  That day, the campus was silent, every student walking back to their rooms with their eyes to the sky, looking for the next plane.

Now, almost ten years later, I'm a teacher and big sister to a recent graduate of Army basic training.  And I'm scared.  I'm scared about retaliation in the wake of Bin Laden's death.  I'm scared to feel that fear again.  I don't want to lay down for a nap, the way I did late in the afternoon on September 11th, then get up to look out my window once more just in case I never woke up.  I don't want my brother or any of our other American soldiers to be sent into harm's way to deal with a swell in activity.  I don't want to think of my brother feeling that fear.  I don't want to spend my days wondering where he is and if he's okay.

So today I won't.  I will do my best to feel pride in my country and hope for a future where terrorists can no longer inflict terror.  I will take today to pray for our soldiers, our President, Afghani citizens, and the victims of September 11th.  I will take today to think of all the ways God has already and will continue to bless the U.S.A.