Hey Dad, I Miss You…

It seems like I just wrote this post the other day. I can hardly believe it’s been a year since my dad passed away. I’m not really sure how I thought I would feel a year later. I don’t miss him any more or any less today, I just miss him. I don’t want to spend today crying about how much I miss him though. He wouldn’t want that. Instead, I want to spend today thinking about all of the wonderful memories I had with my dad.

A lot of things have changed over the past year, both good and bad. Some things I’m glad Dad wasn’t here for; for others my heart hurts that he is missing out.

I guess I thought I would have some profound writing ready for this day. Maybe I would’ve if I planned this post out a little more. I really don’t have any profound thoughts though. I just feel really fortunate for the 25 years I had my dad in my life. 25 years of laughter, tears, celebrations, and good food. 25 years that my dad taught me to be the person I am today. I’ll forever cherish those years and use them with each decision I make.

So today I won’t cry, I won’t be angry. Instead, I’ll be thankful for what I have and who I’ve become and I’ll remember all of the good times we shared.

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No excuses

Well friends, I really have no excuse anymore for not updating my blog. I don’t have school anymore, work has been pretty slow, I’m (almost) done moving into my new place, and my computer is working again. Hopefully I can get back on track and stay on track! I do have lots of recipes to catch up on; hopefully I can remember everything I’ve been making. Admittedly, I don’t have any new recipes from the past two weeks because I was busy packing and moving. I might have a fun, cute recipe for this week if everything works out well though.

So what else have I been up to? I finally officially graduated with Master’s from GWU a few weeks ago and had a great weekend with friends and family around to celebrate!

My amazing family was sweet enough to buy me a new camera for graduation too! I got a Canon XSi and I’ve been playing around with it as much as I can between moving and unpacking boxes! I’m definitely excited to have some (hopefully) better pictures for the blog. Thanks family! :)

I also moved into a new house last weekend after living with roomie, Evan for four years. It’s pretty different living with new people, but I’m excited to be in a house again instead of an apartment…to have a yard and a kitchen that I’m really excited to use!

Other than that, I’ve just been applying for jobs, jobs jobs. I won’t bore you with the details, or lack of details.  I also have another project in the works, once it gets started I’ll share, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Well, hopefully I’m back for good now and Gretch can leave me alone :P (Just kidding girl, I appreciate you bugging me to update!)

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Black Bean Burgers – a few weeks late – ok more like a month

Well I really dropped the ball on updating this guy, huh? I have no excuse really. I did keep up with my recipes though, so I’m going to try to get caught up on them (along with a few other things) this week. For starters…

A few Fridays ago (okay, like a month ago), I hung out with one of my best friends, Alpa, who happens to be a vegetarian. I had been planning on trying to make some kind of non-meat burger, but I wanted to do it when Alpa was around. For years she would come to our cookouts and we would get some veggie burgers just for her. We used to eat the Morningstar ones in college with all the veggie roommates. I was really skeptical of them at first, but with enough cheese, veggie toppings, and condiments, I quickly became a fan. Since then, I have tried to completely get away from buying prepackaged meals. I get migraines pretty regularly and have been struggling to determine different triggers. A big one for a lot of people is MSG, which is in tons of pre-made food. Plus, I like the idea of knowing everything that is in my food, so I’d rather just cook it on my own.

I looked up a simple black bean burger recipe to test out. I actually used the one on Whole Foods’ website.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 tbsp. EVOO
  • Hamburger buns
  • Veggies for toppings

The recipe also called for hot sauce, but I decided to just wing it with all of the spices, I’m not a big fan of spicy (much to Alpa’s dismay)! We mashed up the ingredients into patties (it made 6) and cooked them in a skillet. Very simple. I will say that I made these another time since then. I simply threw everything into my food processor and gave it a whirl. The consistency of these was much better than when we mashed them by hand. Either way, it’s a very inexpensive meal that will leave you with plenty of leftovers!

 

My dinner date!

It doesn’t hurt to have one of these to go along with it either:

I need to start cooking some meals that will result in prettier pictures!

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Life on the Farm

Another much belated post…don’t act like you’re surprised! Last (last) weekend I took a trip down to Louisa to visit my sister, Twila, and her husband, Andy. They live on a small, but growing, farm and it felt great to get out of the city and relax for a few days! I love spending time at their house, it always feels nice and cozy. I was especially excited because it was the first time I saw her since she found out she is pregnant!!! I’m going to be an aunt in September and I could not be more excited. I took her a little UNC onesie and bib, but came to find out that Andy’s mom had bought them two UNC onesies already! Guess that kid will have no other choice now. Smile We had a pretty chill weekend, watching movies and playing with the animals. Some of my friends up here seemed to be surprised that they have a farm.  Here’s the rundown on animals: 1 pig, 5 adult goats (including a fainting goat!) and 2 little adorable baby goats, lots of chickens, a rabbit or two (I haven’t seen them in awhile, are they still around?). Then inside the house, there are 3 dogs and 3 or 4 cats. I think 3. I’m much more interested in the doggies.

Here’s one:

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I posted that one online and everyone said “ohhh, he’s so cute!” Here he is showing his true colors:

photo (3)

Just kidding, he’s usually pretty sweet, but he gets out of control with the bigger dog sometimes. He also growls when you pet him, but it’s his way of showing he likes it. What a weirdo.

I snagged a few pictures of the goats on Saturday too, but it was feeding time, so they weren’t too interested. Here’s Twila with one of the babies:

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Here’s Cookie (I call her Cookiepants), the fainting goat:

apples and twila 033

I didn’t get any pictures with Twila and Andy, sadly. I’m headed down there again at the end of the month for a Spring cookout, so I’ll be sure to get some then. Hopefully she’ll be showing a little too.

Be sure to check out their Facebook page. Andy and his dad have been working hard to build a greenhouse and they’re starting to grow all kinds of fun things!

That weekend was just what I needed. We watched a few movies (Due Date was surprisingly hilarious), ate some bbq while listening to some bluegrass bands, and then surprised my stepmom for an early birthday lunch!

Twila and Andy, thanks for letting me hang out for the weekend. I had so much fun spending time with you guys!!

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A Feast Fit for a President

Screw Presidents Day. I made this Presidents Week! Earlier this week I picked out two recipes I really wanted to make for the week, both related to Presidents Day. I ordered a Colonial-era cookbook (written by Thomas Jefferson’s cousin!) a few weeks ago and had been flipping through that looking for a dinner recipe, but for some reason a roasted calf’s head just didn’t sound too appealing. Then Monday morning, my stepmom forwarded Food Network’s recipe of the day, which came from the Obama’s and the White House kitchen garden. It sounded too good not to cook. So I decided I’d cook that for dinner one night and I’d pick a dessert from the colonial cookbook. I made this on Tuesday for dinner and it was pretty easy to do and delicious to eat.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp. of chopped mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 bunches kale, collar, or mustard greens (or mix), stemmed and corn
  • ¾ cup chicken stock

I don’t want to just copy step-by-step directions, just click on the above link.  The original recipe actually called for using a 3-4 pound whole chicken. It was easier to just get chicken breasts though. I also didn’t have the money for a bunch of fresh herbs (but I can’t wait to snag some from my sis when they start growing.). I did buy some fresh rosemary and then used dried thyme. Still tasted amazing. Coat the chicken in oil, mustard, and herbs, let sit for 45 minutes, and then bake for 30.

 

Raw chicken just always looks gross

 

 

Ok, so the greens…I can’t believe how delicious these were. And I am a greens snob! After growing up eating my mom and dad’s greens, there are little others that taste as good. These were so completely different, but a really refreshing taste. My parents’ were always vinegary, which were good. These are just cooked with the bacon, onion, and broth.  I literally stood in Whole Foods for at least 5 minutes trying to decide what kind of greens I wanted to cook, but I finally settled on kale.

 

My kind of bouquet

 

Saute the bacon and onion, then add your kale and let it wilt, after a few minutes add the broth, and let them cook for 45 minutes.

 

Simma down now, kale

 

The winning combination:

Umm...yum!

As I sat eating supper, I thought…maybe President Obama is somewhere eating this same exact thing…but probably not. I’ll post my dessert recipe soon! Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

 

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Panda Thanksgiving

I couldn’t decide between the two above images, so you get both! Hooray! Monday was one of my all-time favorite holidays – Presidents Day!! Or as my friend, Steve, dubbed it, “Panda Thanksgiving.” I actually had a day off from work and couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to head down to my favorite historical (and presidential) house, Monticello. I convinced a few friends that going to museums actually can be fun and we made the trip down on what was looking like a beautiful day. We got down to Charlottesville just in time for the beer tasting in the gift shop. Starr Hill introduced a “Monticello Reserve Ale” and debuted it at Monticello for President’s Day – how fitting! It is actually from Jefferson’s recipe (he was quite the beer and wine maker). It has been modernized a bit so that it is more familiar to us as a beer. I’d be interested to taste the original recipe though. I have to say, I was a big fan of this beer, and not just because  it was associated with Monticello! It was a lighter (but not too light) beer with a really smooth finish. We tried some samples and each snagged a few bottles to bring home.

Our friend, Rob, met us there. He used to work there and showed us around the exhibitions and explained how a lot of the interactives work. If you haven’t been to Monticello since they opened the new Visitor’s Center (or ever), you should really check it out. All of their exhibitions are incredible and really let you get a feel for the kind of person Jefferson was. I’ve been to the new center at least 4 times now and I feel like I learn something new each time. We went up to the house for a tour in the afternoon. We couldn’t have asked for better weather – it was almost jacketless weather. We walked around the gardens for a bit while we waited for our tour time and there were workers planting crops for Spring. Monticello is gorgeous in Spring. Our tour guide was one of the better ones I’ve seen. It’s always interesting to see what stories each one tells and of course, to see what they say about Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemmings. After the tour, we checked out the rooms beneath that held the stables, kitchen, smoke house, ice house, wine/beer cellars, and a new exhibition on slave activities at Monticello. I preferred the old exhibition, but maybe I was just annoyed by the school kids ringing a servant bell non-stop.

I really didn’t take many pictures while we were there and I kind of regret that now. I guess at the time I was thinking that I have so many Monticello pictures already back home, but it would’ve been nice to document our day, I didn’t even snag a pic of Rob! There was a storm rolling in and I did get some pretty pictures of the garden. Check it:

And of course the house:

Ben and Andrea checking out the privy:

Hanging out in the gardens:

Overall, a very awesome day down in Charlottesville, despite the 2 and a half hour drive back to Nova in the freezing rain…blech. I could go on and on about how much I love Monticello and Thomas Jefferson, but I’ll spare you. I at least made a believer out of Russell…I think he has a man-crush on ol’ TJ.

It’s been soooo nice having time to actually go to museums now that I am not going to school for museums. Heh. Hope everyone had as awesome of a President’s Day as we did. I’ve worked on a few “presidential” recipes for this week (in fact one is on the stove right now) and I will be reporting back on those very shortly!

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Some more “belated”s

Ok, I vow to get caught up on these weekly recipes. I swear I cook them all on time, it’s just a matter of reporting about them. So this past week, I wanted to cook something for Valentine’s Day, some kind of treat. I decided to get it done Tuesday so that I could take my treats over to my friends at the JBP. I found this delicious recipe over at Bakerella! Luckily it was pretty quick and easy, because I was strapped for time between work and recording.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cookies:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature

Icing:

  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb. of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

I won’t go step by step for this recipe, because Bakerella does a fantastic job of explaining it all. Basically though, you just mix red velvet cake mix, butter, and eggs. It does take a long time to get the mix to the right consistency. When I first added the butter and eggs to the cake mix, I really was doubting that it would cover the mix, but with a little elbow grease, I made it work.

The icing was really easy too. Just combine those ingredients and beat with a hand mixer. Once the cookies have cooled, spread a generous amount and make a sandwich! The guys gobbled these up! Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone! What did you do to celebrate?

I’m all caught up with recipe posts now, so be ready for a fun one this week to celebrate one of my favorite holidays!

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