Make It or Bake It…and an Update or Three!

Do you ever get those weeks, where the list of things to do keeps growing no matter how many things you strike off before it? This is one of those weeks for me. Needless to say, it’s kept me out of the kitchen since Sunday and I’m not sure that I approve of this. Being in the kitchen is a cathartic experience, relaxing, rejuvenating, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I know that I’ve tested out one new technique or created something new, or even gone back and thrown together a PB&J like I have a million times before…When I’m in the kitchen, I’m happy.

And really this week I’ve needed to be in my happy place. 
It’s not to say that this week has been bad by any stretch of the imagination, actually quite opposite – but being home and willfully running around the kitchen like a chicken with my head cut off gives me peace. 
Weird, no? We’ll discuss this one at a later date.
This week, so far, has been one of just all out busy-ness and chaos, good news and stress. If you follow Wanna Be A Country Cleaver on Facebook you may have been so lovingly informed via your news feed that a couple things have happened in my cooking universe. The first was that my Fresh Corn and Chicken Sausage Skillet won the Fresh Food Challenge for America’s Test Kitchen!
I know, right? Ahhh!! (*insert geeky Katherine Heighl happy dance here*) Sorry, maybe I should be a little more modest, and I’m really not trying to brag, but it was just a fantastic and unexpected surprise on an otherwise mundane Monday. 
The other eye popping and take my breath away news happened to be that an e-mail came my way informing me that my Garlic Parmesan Oven Fries had been selected to be put up against two other foodies recipes in the TODAY Food Home Chef Challenge. *blinks eyes* What? When the e-mail came to me with the subject line “Congratulations!! You’ve been selected…blah, blah, blah”, I thought it was Spam, and with my mouse over the delete button, I almost got rid of it until I read it a little further… 
When I first submitted this quick, easy and deceptively healthy fry recipe to TODAY, I didn’t think anything would come of it. Really, I figured the M’s would win a title before I had heard back from TODAY. Nope. 
Anyway – before I bore you with endless details – this recipe is being pitted against two others for a featured spot on the front webpage of the TODAY Show! Yup, the very same. And dang is it getting fierce… Like, Bloodsport – Jean Claude Van Dam, Fierce. I’m a tiny blog – she’s kinda massive in the blogosphere. Voting ends on August 21st, and the winner will be announced. But let me tell you, this will be the most stressful two weeks of my life! 
Last announcement of today, before I get to the fun cooking stuff. 
Ben and I nailed down a wedding date! As one of my besties so lovingly told me, “For the Love of all the is good and Holy – FINALLY!” Thanks Sunshine for that one. Yes, it only took us 8 months to decided but this place is right and dang am I excited!
After all of the places we looked at and researched it came down to Salish Lodge atop Snoqualmie Falls and Trezzi Farms in Eastern Washington. I’ve touted the beauty and awe-inspiring nature and quality of both of them, but I had to stick true to my heart and go with,
It’s country-esque, has bold gorgeous red roofs, a winery, an open field for the ceremony and a windmill. Oh, and did I mention it has a couple of big freakin’ metal Chickens? If you read The Bloggess at all, you’ll know what I’m talkin’ about. But if you don’t, find out about the metal chickens here
Now – finally – for the food stuff. Since I mentioned I’d not been in my kitchen much this week, I decided to do a little overview of all of the deliciousness out on the web. And there is a LOT of it. Below are a few examples of things I want to bury my face into and not come up for air…
Crispy Tofu and Rice Noodles in Red Curry Coconut Sauce
from Heather at Farmgirl Gourmet
Heather is a farm fan and fellow Palouse-ite. Well, I suppose I’m a former Palouse-ite, but I can dream can’t I? Her photos are stunning, and now you get why I said bury my face into these dishes and not come up for air? Prime example, right here!
by Stephanie at Eccentric Kitchen
Count me in, like now. Right now!
Green Bean Bundles
from Liz at Skinny Chick
Simple, effortless and a way to use the three pounds of fresh green beans I have socked away in my fridge. 
From Val at ValSoCal
Val, is there anything you can’t do? ‘Cause, I have yet to find it. The colors, oh me-oh oh my-oh, oh Cleveland, Ohio!!
by Purabi from Cosmopolitan Curry Mania
Pardon mei, while I dwooolzz on mai keibord.
This looks insanely delicious. Can’t you hear the rich tones of sitar and see beautiful women in equally stunningly colorful saris moving about and gabbing together over a plate of this? I know that’s where I want to be!
by Lauren of Lauren’s Latest
Lauren is no stranger to being featured on every cooking site I frequent. She’s an at-home cook’s Einstein. Where does she get all of these ideas? Her desserts send you straight into computer screen licking fits, and her everyday dishes look like their still out of a magazine!! Genius. Simple as that. 
And really, who doesn’t love a good tater tot? A homemade tater tot at that, not some pre-packed lump of deep fried and previously frozen shame. I’ll take these anyday!
But what would this list be without an adult beverage?
from Nick at Cocktail Remedy
I want to wear this in my hair. I feel all Chiquita Banana just lookin’ at it! There is a story behind the Florodora, so visit his site and gawk over all the insanity and promptly drive yourself to the liquor store so you can make a few of these for yourself and your friends. Add the friends, cause if you’re drinking too many of these alone, there may be a problem. 
Geez his pictures just bring it to life!
So here we have it. Three announcements and plenty of things for you to drool over and hold you over until I get my butt back into the kitchen. 
*Note* The pictures, above unless otherwise specified as my own, were used directly from the above referenced sites. Go check them out, they’re all wonderful bloggers and geniuses in their own rights. Geniuses, indeed.*